where the writers are
Chimpanzee Retirement Couch

I was listening to WNYC today enjoying some air conditioning and a blanket. Now, if i had a hammock I would have preferred to sway in the breezy day outside but here I was. With radio on and remote control in hand I listened to one of the reasons these people got some of my unemployed freelancer's dollars. A man named Charles Siebert had lived with some retired chimpanzees. They were recovering from disassociated lives in entertainment or advertising. I felt, after a short time listening, a type of kinship with both Siebert and the chimps.

People forget I started in advertising and I prefer they do, too. Not because I didn't meet great people there but because it was grueling and mind-opening in a way that was life-changing. Advertising in my mind stands not only for itself but for a loss of innocence. Your first real job does that. It marks a change of self. Apparently for the chimps that made it to Siebert's pages there is a marked change and defining of the self from which the animals never seem to recover. It's like opening Pandora's box in front of a series of five year olds. They don't process just like we do but to deny their sentience and their proclivity towards experience is something that Siebert might just debunk.

I've watched old people and I've watched children. I've watched people go through cancer and I've spent a lot of time watching turtles and someone else's cat throughout my travels. I've seen people in clubs and casinos. Lately I watch people make their mobile facebook uploads. Obviously I like to pretend I'm not there, the quiet witness of writer or photographer or on my best days, simply artist. But that's a ruse, no doubt about it. I hide out from TV and I go as far away as I can from lots of pop culture. After listening to a radio for two hours the other day I knew there was truly much to hide from. A pubescent pop star was telling her own tell all in a radio edit of anthemic choruses about having a great time in the hollywood nightclub of the USA. OK, so I won't even dissect that right now. But the point is I imagine that participation in culture engenders participatory reflexes. So, no wonder the cute performers of tap dances and little pantomime ditties get a little crazy after the lights have dimmed and no one claps every time they do what they do so well.

Siebert continued talking about the book and the central chimp, a fellow by the name of Roger. Roger is not a person but he sure sounds like one, as the author states, Roger's got "mind enough to lose." Mind enough to lose. Of course they do. Otherwise they couldn't have learned what they did. They have minds and emotions. All of these retired chimps have been sterilized. So, that's an interesting room of social misfit conversation. I can only imagine what those folks have noticed. It's like immediate old age. I bet food starts to taste lousy in chimpanzee retirement. I bet it feels a lot like losing your job, at least a little bit.

It's important that these authors like Siebert exist. I may or may not read the book but I feel sure I'll read as many pages as I can while standing in some new releases aisle. Maybe I'd read it if I had a Kindle. Not everything should be read that way, but this book falls under the category of writing too large to be an article but not quite enough to make me want to carry it on my gypsy back for the next twenty years. Anyway, I'm glad the book exists, to remind people that everything we thought we proved isn't wrong, it's simply not that simple. Our extremist ideas are now outdated. Humans are not the finest expression of what the Creator might have made. A human being outside of the context of the rest of it doesn't even exist. So, all of these principles that got Galileo in hot water are somehow just now cooling off so that we can really see the pot we've been cooking our culture in.

By the end of the interview I'm glad I did my little part. I paid the little bit I could to keep public programming going and I got to appreciate doing something that I kind of wish I did. No jealousy, just a real sense of wanting to applaud the effort. Having a terrorizing headache can take away one's desire to climb Everest or to spend a few nights doing something as strange as sleeping with misfit sentient creatures who are lucky they're not sitting in one of Yale's study labs or one of the others that probably got me my Tylenol PM the other night. I wonder if I can put a blanket outside and turn off the radio now. Maybe some birdsong is the complementary medicine I need, that and some lavender tea. I'll try that. now.