Comments and Replies ... and Who We Are

TANATA is devoted to discussing the paradoxes and the mysteries of life, among which is the paradox of the coexistence of good and evil. “God is love,” John tells us. Evil exists, we would suggest, not because God is detached or unconcerned, but because free will exists which is required for true, unforced love to exist. Still, it is painfully hard to reconcile this paradox. We believe that all evil one day will be judged and destroyed, until then we must pray.

DANIEL 7:13-14

13 “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.

14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.


7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

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It’s a lonely beat I’m surfing,
With little affirmation.
I cover the geeks and cyberfreaks
In dark alleys of Information.

I write about men of power and nerve —
Too hot for newsboys to touch.
I get a masthead, a byline, but no pay …
And I don’t sleep so much.

My circulation is measured in hits.
“Boy,” I say, “I could use a drink.”
A suburban city so quiet — it’s deafening.
I get my kicks from permalinks.

Madge started about two weeks ago.
I needed a secretary … and she needed a ride.
“You got a smoke, Madge? I’ll pay you back.
“I’m gonna take a walk down Google Street and see what’s shakin’ outside.”

Up the hill, on the corner, under a streetlight …
There’s a man in a hat in silhouette.
I step behind a tree to light my smoke;
My movement spooks a neighbor’s pet.

Out here at night the silent shadows are shades of gray.
You have to drive for hours to see any action.
The man in the hat turns — and I think he’s got a gun.
He starts to run, but can’t get any traction.

I imagine I’ve made enemies on this beat:
A German think tank has been scanning my site.
I make for my desk, and Madge asks me, “What’s shakin’?”
“Just a man lookin’ for his cat with a flashlight.”

She’s a cute dish for an old gal.
She expects me to swallow my pride.
Still, I’m tired of meetin’ ladies who don’t return my smile.
So, maybe me and Madge’ll head out to Google Street and take ourselves a ride.


So, this dame with long, long legs strides in.
For a moment I act like I don’t see her.
But Madge does, and she’s giving her the evil eye.
She’s for animal rights — and this dame’s wearing fur.

I push back the brim of my hat from my face.
The glare from these neon screens hurts my eyes.
This dame takes sauntering steps toward me,
Her black dress is split clean up to her thighs.

My boyish good looks have always been my undoing.
I thought about a live cam, but I don’t have time.
Lots to do on Google Street that I don’t wanna do —
Diggin’ up skeletons from digital crimes.

But, Lord, this strange young thing is smokin’.
I’m glad I’m sittin’, ‘cause my knees would be knockin’
And I know I reveal too much online …
I feel like a character in a Kinks song, and it’s freakin’ rockin’.

When this dame sits down … it’s like an event.
I write dirt, but I don’t write erotica.
“What can I do for you, miss?” I say, with Madge’s eyes burnin’ through me,
“It depends,” Veronica says. “My name’s Veronica.”

I couldn’t imagine her having any other name.
“What’s yours,” she says, crossing her legs like it’s a crime.
“Webb,” I say, lightin’ her cigarette.
“I’ve seen you’re blogged up in sauce and grime.”

“Just doin’ my job with the inheritance.
“Holding down the fort as a new age invades.
“I’ve got freeware and shareware, demos and widgets.
“And Paypal when someone thinks I oughta get paid.”

In the glow of my G5, I see my fingernails are dirty.
Though I don’t know how — I’ve got a keyboard cover.
Madge gets up and scrolls with ice in her eyes;
I’m guessin’ she’s headin’ to Google Street, maybe find herself a new lover.

“I’ve got a program I want to you write,” Veronica says behind a cloud,
“But I can’t pay you a penny — I’ve been givin’ it all away.”
I can take that one of about a thousand ways.
But I can tell from her eyes she means it only one way.

I’m one of those guys who never thought Google Street would make it.
What with the scum and all the viruses — I gave it five years.
But what do I know? … and now here’s this chick Veronica …
Me breathin’ hard and nearly in tears.

“I write code and solve problems,” says I. “That’s it.”
“Do you know what it’s like to be a woman trapped on Google Street?”
I can say that I do, ‘cause I know it’s gettin’ rough out there,
But I’m a reporter, I can’t relate to being cyber meat.

“Can’t you walk away?” I ask. “Leave the lights on the street?”
“I’m an exhibitionist,” Veronica says, dabbing mascara from her cheeks.
No kiddin’? I’m learnin’ more about women each day …
How technology and women are exploited by freaks.

“What do you want me to write?” says I, ready to work.
“There’s a ring of them,” says she, “The leader’s Invisible Link.”
“I’ve heard of them — they’re dangerous, workin’ for the man.”
“They’re predators,” she says, weeping, “hooked on digital pink.”

“Could be a graphic novel,” I say. “I’m plottin’ one out.
“Coulda been an ebook, but those never caught on.
“Illustrators want money. They want it big and fast.
“And I still can’t find an agent who knows the Constitution.”

She was playin’ with my head … this chat is over.
For all I know, she’s got a package, dressed in drag.
Though, she’s way too pretty … she’s got powerful hands …
She powders her nose with a compact disc from her bag.

“That blow?” I say, feelin’ sweat under my hat.
“Yeah,” Veronica says, “it covers everything up.”
And in my mind, as I type, I’m back in ‘68 …
Just back from ‘Nam, on Google Street, with some spit in my cup.

“I’ll come back,” she says, “I want a dead Link.”
“Are you willing to pay for what that’s gonna cost?
“I don’t do hits, but I have a buddy who does.
“If you can call a man a buddy who’s way past lost.

“Let’s walk,” I say, “and try avoidin’ Madge.
“She’s slipped me a mickey a couple of times.”
“Been to MySpace, then, where fake friends line up?
“Or Twitter, Facebook?” says Veronica, “You know there’s spam and slime.”

“Let’s talk about you and what you’re lookin’ for.
“I can find Big Brother doin’ all kinds of cybernetics.”
“Publishing is down … but writing’s way up.
“Both most of that crap is pathetic.”

She was slippin’, at this point. I was about to crash.
Beachball spinnin’ like the thing’s on fire.
“You comin’ to bed?!” Madge screams from the closet. “Shit.”
She’s pullin’ out cards and pins with pliers!


I wake up face down in a pillow that smells like … plastic.
My head is pounding, keeping pace with a neon banner.
This is a tough way for a guy to work out his apocalyptic visions,
Which are bordering on insanity. … I switch on my police scanner.

In the build-up to a new order the new media is a carnival,
Takin’ money not to say things. Wimps melt from the heat;
McLuhan missed the greatest mindbender of them all …
And all the trouble a poor sucker can find on Google Street.

Before I hit the bottle, I throw some cheese to my mouse.
I call my buddy Macro to pick his whirling brain:
“Whaddya know,” I asked, “about some Invisible Link?
“He’s got a bank of servers drivin’ some hot dame insane.”

Macro’s cuttin’ in and out, breakin’ up. …
I hear telltale clicking: a bug on my device.
This Invisible Link was holding shut the windows.
Vista’s no way to treat a lady in a cesspool of vice.

“Call me back!” I said, but I don’t think Macro heard me.
He was busy doin’ somethin’ I had no way of knowing.
As for Madge, she hadn’t turned up, and I was gettin’ worried.
Google Street’s covered in white; I’m too drunk to see it’s snowin’.

Everything in the world is right here at my fingertips …
But all I want is club soda and a cigarette.
I’m standing up, leaning on the window sill, cursin’ Jobs and Gates …
Up the hill, on the corner … a woman in silhouette.

The streetlight bathes her like an angel in gold …
She looks familiar but I don’t know her anymore.
She’s hailing a taxi … though she owns two cars.
She liked French perfume, I remember, that made her smell like a pricey whore.

At that instant, a Dual Processor burnin’ rubbber flies by playin’ “Fame”!
God, the bus in that horse must be the size of Macro’s ass!
He hadn’t called me back with an answer, but now he didn’t need to …
Invisible Link was here, in my world of metal and glass.

I was movin’ fast so I could get down the number …
As the Hummer came to a screeching halt alongside the lady in gold.
I could see the whole play in miniature. … She had the saddest eyes
No one was buying … ‘cause this chick was already sold.

Like a fool, she climbed in … and all the boys were waitin’.
I guess to a woman that’s flattery’s highest form:
Bright lights and pretty boys, so no one misses any action.
She oughta be studying somewhere … in a convent or a dorm.

Get thee to a nunnery, Sweet Ophelia, I say to myself,
As the Hummer roars off and gets it sideways in the snow.
She’ll be Madge’s age, one day, then what’s she gonna do?
Alas, I knew her … but down the road … I don’t wanna know.

I’d taken Veronica’s challenge, though it would earn me nothing.
To a white knight you enter the night alone armed only with code;
It was my creed and program … and they were written on my heart …
But my head was playin’ “Witchcraft,” like it would explode.

Speakin’ of the devil, Sinatra must have sold his soul …
To be able to turn his voice into such a velvet instrument.
And then I see her … just as “Luck Be A Lady” pops up …
And she’s loaded down with packages, walking on the white cement.

That tramp has been shoppin’ … and she’s got my credit card!
That’s what I get for bein’ generous, valiant and so nice!
Madge opens the gate with her high-heeled foot …
I hate to say it, but I’m hopin’ she busts her ass on the ice!

When she enters without knockin’ I’m pretendin’ to be asleep …
I may just as well … ‘cause there’ll be nothin’ else tonight.
“How do you like it?” Madge says, holding out her arms for effect …
She’s wearin’ some silky thing with fishnet stockings … when I cut on the light.

Sweet Peter at the gates! … Madge looks like a million bucks!
But at the moment, I’m not worrying about the price.
You can find anything on Google Street … even a way to a man’s heart.
She lights me a cigarette … and pours me a tall club soda on ice.

“We got problems,” I say, “someone’s hackin’ in.”
“That’s what you get,” she says, as she’s ridin’ the pony.
“I could tell that hussy was fake, all circuits and wires.
“You smelled her hair, touched her skin … didn’t she feel phony?”

“No phonier than the other dames who’ve been conned,
“Their business plastered all over a page.
The stuff I’ve seen lately will surely bring a sting,
“Cause these babes were underage.”

“Their parents gave ‘em up to find love,
“Wherever that shit could be found.”
I clean myself up and get dressed.
“Think I’ll take another walk on Google Street and see what’s up downtown.”

“You’re glued to that thing. You’re gainin’ weight.”
Madge is talkin’ like she’s my mother.
“I don’t like wastin’ time doin’ nothin’
“I’d have a laptop if I had my druthers.”

“What forums have you been hittin’, the messageboards?”
“There are one or two that give me insight.
“There are people out there more addicted than me …
“Who must have a string of sleepless nights.”

“And what about this Veronica bitch?”
There’s venom in her voice as she spits it.
“I can help her build a website that has some class …
“All the erotica she can fit.”

“Why does every woman have to be an object?”
Madge is the world’s biggest hypocrite.
“Girls make you want it in everything they do.
“It’s the cool customers who gets it.”

“You would have made a good rock star,” she says.
“Groupies hangin’ on every word.”
“I don’t type as fast as I used to, Madge.”
But I don’t think she heard.

* * *

She’s sleepin’ and I’m wide awake.
Now let’s go have some fun.
Macro’s built some killer screens with Flash.
The best thing he’s ever done.

He’s driving a Cadillac
With parts from here and there
On Google Street you can find that shit
But I don’t have the dough to spare.

I jumped ship when Vista came along.
I’d been on Windows XP.
I couldn’t wait for them to fix the bugs.
So I ditched my old PC.

I’m ridin’ an Apple with a bite took out.
Sometimes it’ll freeze and crash.
They make new stems so you’re obsolete …
And I don’t have much cash.

But fightin’ viruses was wearing me out.
Comcast promised me a firewall.
Windows Update can kiss my ass …
And Macro never answered my calls.

So, what can we do for Veronica.
I’m laying type like there’s no tomorrow,
This new code should give her some protection
And ease all this pretty babe’s sorrows.

Somebody’s gettin’ rich, but it sure ain’t me,
Buying up domains like spaces on Monopoly.
And e-commerce has become secure at last …
Encryption freakin’ baffles me.

As I think this thought the phone rings.
I’m thinkin’ it’s my buddy Macro,
But a voice I’ve never heard before
Says, “Let me give to you real slow.

“Invisible Link knows what you’re doin’
“Hittin’ on his squeeze in real time.”
“I’m buildin’ her a site,” I say to him.
“Coercion is a serious crime.”

I can hear this dude breathin’ hard,
Like he didn’t hear a word I said.
“Google Street’s not big enough for the likes of you.
“Careful, pal, you don’t wind up dead.”

— rcg

… to be continued