Understanding the Protests…

Love it or leave it.

Shut up and sing.

Grab ’em by the pussy.

At first I thought it was silly to be protesting. The election is done. What can we do now about it? It just makes us look like sore losers, I thought.

Then I thought about those phrases used by the dominate culture to silence critics. This rush to move past the election. The normalizing of Trump’s awful rhetoric without any idea of what’s to come.As if it was all a slip of the tongue.

I’ll keep you in suspense… he jokes… haha,

I thought about the Trump rallies that we witnessed for the last 15 months. All those angry (mostly white) faces. All the screaming. All the insults. Obama being blamed for everything. Trump calling Hillary a ‘nasty woman’ for merely disagreeing with him. Trump egging his supporters to beat people, threatening to throw his opponent in jail, threatening journalists with lawsuits, and acting like the whole thing was some hate-filled, alt-right summer festival to drum up viewers for his ghastly media venture.

(Think. What does Roger Ailes know better? Politics or TV? It’s the first time a Presidential Candidate was probably more interested in his adviser’s job than becoming President.)

The reason people are so mad is because they’re afraid of a Trump presidency. They can’t just accept the loss and “stop crying” because they vehemently oppose everything he stands for: greed, white-entitlement, ignorance, and aggression.

They’re afraid because a nationalist who bellowed authoritarian rants was elected to govern a country that is the most diverse, freedom-loving population on Earth. They passionately oppose his us vs. them ideologies. And they want to warn everybody what’s going on and let the world know that there are many of us that are, in fact, grieving.

Because he is the antithesis of the protesters’ values. Love, peace, civil liberties, reasonable discourse, pursuit of knowledge, love of the environment, humane immigration policy, respect for women, etc..

No, the protests aren’t going to change the result. I know this.

But they may send a message to people who now think their racist, regressive views are legitimized by an electoral college victory.

This is no fucking mandate to start reversing years of social gains. He was not elected by a plurality of us. Thank God that will be preserved in the history books.

No, the protests probably are not going to change the hearts and minds of people who aren’t with  us.

But so what. Fuck ’em. They elected somebody so vile to the values of our country, out of either hate or a laughable understanding for economics, that we’re forever tainted by this election. You don’t have to vote for the guy to feel the shame of what’s just happened. And that is worth screaming about.

That’s what’s going on.

We’re protesting the shame this election has placed upon our American souls.

No, the protests won’t change Trump’s heart or his wicked policies, but people want the chance to make it publicly known that he doesn’t represent me or my values.

His grinning face causes anger when it’s smeared across the aquamarine television screens of our living rooms. Snarling and mocking and terrorizing. His mad 3 am Tweets succeeding at nothing but causing arguments and animus. His insane victory sent shock waves of apoplexy through the Blue State consciousness. Laugh if you want, but it rattled our core. Never did we think a man so vile, so undeserving, so boisterously ignorant, and outright scummy could be elected into the highest office in the land.

We are flabbergasted; it’s hard to use flabbergasted in an unfunny way, but Trump did it. He whipped folksy charm and alt-right prejudices with Reality Show bluster and one-of-a-kind demagoguery and winged his way into the White House. It was quite the astonishing sight. Like seeing an iceberg collapse right in front of you and the slow wave coming to tip over your ship.

He may be good for a million memes, but the laughter sure does taste acidic. Let’s get the EPA on that.

Oh, right.

Fuck.

#notmypresident

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Excuse Me While I Scream

What the fuck is happening?

I mean: really?

No, but really?

???

Yes, politics and media and entertainment and a collective disengagement with each other has converged in an epic clusterfuck, an unattractive orgy of stupidity and opportunistic clickbait fuckall, but whatever; yes, the modern age is a soundbite-driven-Reality Show-Matrix-gone-all-Hal-from-2001, but whatever; I mean, yes, Trump is certainly a worthy candidate for harbinger of the end times, the final Word written on a baseball hat, but whatever; what is  really going on?

This is a man who thinks it’s okay to shortchange the American public as long as he’s legally capable, our bridges, our schools, and our military loses, but hey, he gets to claim he’s a billionaire by liberal applications of the word.

And that’s all that counts to Trump’s raging ego, money and power, and there’s fools out that want to hand him it all.

Why?

Because he’s slick with the simplistic linguistics? A Catchphrase Charlatan. Hypnotizing us through hand gestures and a psychotic insistence on ones own magnitude.

This is a man who thinks the more money the more power you should have, you should grab ’em by the pussy if you want, because, hey, you’re a star!

This is a man with fake hair and a fake tan who needs to surround himself with beautiful women because of what an ugly piece of shit he is. He is everything that is currently WRONG about America. Greed. Ignorance. And Racism for the deplorable cherry on top.

This is a man that Glen Beck thinks is unhinged. Glen Beck!

How deep is your mistrust of government or your hatred of Hillary to force you into Trump’s sway, how rotten is the rot in your core to hand over the greatest, ALWAYS and MORE THAN EVER, nation on this spinning wonderball called Earth to a snake oil salesman with a tacky toupee?

2016 has been a year where all of our worst sides caught up with us. The downgrading of meaningful discourse to sensational quips and barns and “locker room” insults, our quickly edited blur of information does nothing but distract that there is a serious conflict between people who see the world as combative and hostile and unfair and reject science and want to retreat toward violence and authoritarian instincts, who plainly see the world as us vs. them; and those who recognize our common humanity, and the need for decency and intellect, that we need steady stewardship… of the the Earth, of our fellow man, of our neighbors and ourselves.

We don’t need a bully.

We need thoughtful love.

There are more of us that don’t want to burn it down. And would rather remain loyal to the democratic ideals that made this country fucking great — in spite of the virus that is The Donald, a divisive recklessness and dumbing down that is a genital wart on our democracy, an entitled baby throwing a temper tantrum,  that inflames our baser instincts, the little demons that lead to terrible places, a platform of aggression and arrogance.

Excuse me while I scream.

fullsizerender

I love my country. I even love Republicans.

I miss the Republicans.

It is it’s like when I was young in the 80’s and loved the Lakers and hated the Celtics, but I never wanted them to trade away Bird and McHale and start playing baseball or some other sport nobody knows what it is — some insane mashup of rugby and throwing daggers at trees bare chested.

I miss the competition, the debate, the back and forth. That’s good for America. The trading of ideas. This is just garbage. It’s not politics, it’s not policy. It’s personal and petty and has done nothing but torn us apart and distracted the country from moving forward.

We are the shadows and the men in chains and we built this cave and now we’re at the end of a sick puppet show that I hope we learn from, and can look back one day and study it as a historical anomaly, and that this is not the new norm. But I have a feeling what the media is calling Trumpism is here to stay.

The march of history is Mankind’s greatest story, and I guess every great story needs a villain. But this is where we get to write how it ends.

Let’s beat the beast at the ballot box.

Stand for your greater principles.

Your love of Good.

Eight Years (Obama and Trump and Ex-Wives and Literary Wassails)

I remember eight years ago. Hope. Change. The Shepherd Fairey poster. I remember wondering where I’d be around this time in eight years. Or maybe I’m making that up. Maybe I was so immersed in the moment I never imagined the election following Barack’s presidency. I just remember feeling like we were on the verge of great things, and I was damn proud of us as a country. I love Obama and I still do. Dude got class.

Barack Obama is my homeboy.

Like Andre the Giant. They’re larger than life. Andre almost literally.

They say Andre could drink a case of beer and still not be drunk. If our hearts weigh a pound and a half (I’m making that up) than I wonder what his weighed. Seventeen pounds?

How could Barack Obama marry that professorial, diplomatic grace with brush-off-your-shoulders swag so well? Genius. With the most bullheaded, narrow-minded opposition ever faced he handled it even-tempered and almost always tonally on point. A fucking political machine and I love him.

Eight years ago I was an inspired idealist, floating on the fresh air that Obama blew in with. Self made. Family-oriented. Fighter for the community. And a sweet three-point shot. God, how things change…

This one-dimensional, monosyllabic overgrown child makes me cringe with my whole body every time I hear the gargling vitriol he calls a stump speech. Just spasms of anger and anathema coursing through every speck and splotch of matter in my flesh.

This potential joke dystopia is not what I pictured for us. This dust cloud of ignorance and hate disguised as an orange human in an unimaginably boring-ass suit may just break the world’s OG democracy.

This is 2016, not a grunt contest. America, freedom, the land of the free and dumb. It’s not the citizens, though, it’s the system.

Well, it’s us too. We feed at the trough. Like fucking Animal Farm. Piggy Trump!

You’re laughing and burping and slapping your back so hard you’re sucking your own dick. You big cartoon buffoon. Fuck you, Donald Trump — you aren’t my homeboy…

… You know who is my homeboy, though? Sam Malone.

That dude was quick with the one-liners. One of the best characters ever written on television. He always had a clear purpose: to be loved. And he was good at it. But he was vulnerable. His alcoholism ruined his career, leaving such a stain he had to live out his days in a den of temptation, serving some kind of penance by steering Cliff and Norm through their barely functioning love of hops. His vanity and need for attention, especially the glorious, genital kind from the females, got the best of him. His belief that he was stupid, always doubting himself and giving in to Diane’s logic, tripped him up.

Despite his extra-terrestrially-coiffed do’ he was human. Layered, yet somehow simple. We all know a Sam Malone. We have a little bit of him in us.

His polo shirt and chest hair was his armor, because his insides were that of a little boy’s. He was a lover and lovable, yet still villainous in ways.

Norm was just a lazy drunk.

You’re my homeboy.

Whomever you are, you’re my homeboy, or my homegirl. Until you give me reason to believe otherwise, I’ll accept that you’re good and true and you just want your love and your peace and some apple pie and a lazy Sunday night watching fireflies. Or Game of Thrones, or whatever it is. Maybe you’re just watching time pass by the number of Likes on your Instagram.

We were all babies once. Confused and terrified. We’ve all just learned how to put on clothes and delay the horror, or transfer it, or swallow it in drink or sex or french fries, pie-eyed survival tactics of the numb.

Eight years ago I was married to a woman whose face is so blurred by time she’s only a name, a story, whose only pictures I still have are preserved on Flickr. And in so many ways is untraceable. We lived in the valley. Lived like sensitive roommates. When Barack got elected I knew it was over because she didn’t come home, she watched the news break and the celebrations on the TV and the historic speech with her co-workers, and I left my ring on the bathroom counter when I went to work, ‘cuz I’m dramatic and lust for big statements and if I had control over how any of this was going to crumble, I at least wanted one piece to break off of it.

I flew to London first class and never looked back. I got drunk in pubs and looked at old art. I contemplated what it all meant…. I didn’t conclude a thing.

Eight years ago I was writing stories and poems, the familiar subjects: heartbreak, disconnect, modern isolation… I was daydreaming about a different life. Not even more glamorous or easier, just different. The domestic doldrums detonating every night were so small and silent I never noticed the dynamite underneath the counter.

Eight years ago, I was stepping into the TV business like a child toeing a cold pool, none-awares I’d be dunked backwards baptized-like in a black lake of water snakes and sharks and endless legs and curves like Mullholland Blvd with those shimmering cliffs I drove off, epic movie-endings over and over. I am still standing, staggering forward, arms stretched out, a rickety beautiful tower. A burning man. A modern day hero.

And your homeboy.

Eight years Obama’s hair was less grey. So was mine.

And I was a different man, with a much lighter heart, now it probably weighs close to Andre’s, proverbially. I carry a lot of shit with me, like those shoulders in Vietnam.

Eight years ago I cared deeply about the election, about our future, about the role of politics. For many reasons deserving of an entirely different post, I’ve faded from that person. I’ve become more resigned. Happily decorating my little bubble and ignoring the massive injustice we’ve built into acceptance I treated like art. I guess I grew tired of it all and thought it didn’t matter. I just wanted to buy clothes, travel, and meet new loves. Write about it all in a self-serving prose protecting how raw my insides were.

If anything crazy happened, I trusted Obama not to make it crazier.

But holy shit, eight years ago I didn’t know Donald Trump could somehow slime his way this close to the presidency by yelling into microphones and throwing his hands up in the air. People love to be spit on, I guess…

Let’s hurry up and get this over, send him back to being the angry uncle on the sidelines.

And let’s all imagine where we’ll be in eight years. Let’s imagine a better place. And we’ll look back and laugh at what a comical farce this election has become. That is my hope, dammit.

And also that I meet the one woman who I’ve been writing about all these years. The love that is capitalized and supreme. The one whose eyes, big and brown or green or even a Khaleesi grey-blue, pull me in like a Star Wars tractor beam, closer and closer until there is no escape and I’m in the heart of the beast and a hand is reaching out for my throat.

And please, my love, don’t ever release me.

Photo on 8-7-16 at 4.29 PM

Planet 9

There is something in our solar system; they say it’s a big hidden planet. We only know it’s there because other planets react like it is. If only it were that simple.

They’re calling it Planet 9. I’m thinking: what the fuck is Pluto thinking?

Earth is rotating while spinning while tilting and every other celestial body is doing the same… we should bounce into each other more, but gravity keeps us in place; we’re all just rotating, spinning, and tilting uncontrollably, apart.

Inside, we’re doing the same. Windmills and wheels and wild women.

There was a homeless man on the street who asked for my change. I wanted to give him all my credit cards and the keys to my apartment and my friends and lovers. I didn’t have any change.

San Fransisco is changing. Los Angeles is changing. Deep space is changing. I have a kitten that is learning French. I have six tadpoles in a Dixie cup. I have the hands of a man made of oil.

The planets will continue their endless travels. We will continue to grow cats and frogs. Everything returns to the same place again. It’s our time around the sun, and our time around each other. Until it’s another’s.

The crushed sand in the glass of my watch lets me see the slow/quick slapping of time. That unseen current. Pulsing like the blood in my beating wrist where time is wrapped around.

Time and space and life and death. Pleasure and pain. It’s our gravity. It’s the detritus and flotsam of our existence.

Every moment you open up, though, you release its power. Every thought you let go of you become free. Every detachment leads to acceptance. Open up your heart and soul and you become a drop of water in that gentle river that carries us along, indefinitely.

See that star shooting against the mauve midnight sky? It’s a satellite. Watching us watch it. Let go of the words…

Instagram Love and Fathers (Kidding Not Kidding)

I am not a father. I don’t want a kid, necessarily, but I want a son or daughter. I am not jealous of screaming babies, or crayon markings on walls, or changing diapers, but I want a child falling to sleep on my chest, maturing under my loving care. I want to feel saline streams, gushing torrents of joy, in a delivery room. I want take him or her to the zoo and when they point at an ibex and asked what is that, I want to give them an answer — even if I have to read it off the goddamn wall. I don’t want a human accessory, I want that piece of me that is unabashed, unlimited love to take form, and yeah, maybe also dress him or her up in adorable threads.

I want a partner in this endeavor, too. Somebody so grounded and so in love with me that we understand and tolerate and exalt and enhance each other, and our love makes life better like a permanent Instagram filter is placed over our eyes. Cry together. Laugh together. Put our heads together to figure out just what to do when Lilly Em cries because she doesn’t think anybody else in school likes her; or Diego starts smoking pot behind our backs — like we don’t know what that smell is or why sometimes he comes home and his eyes are squinting like little demon holes.

There’s a primal, sacred place in my soul that is waiting to be filled with the hardest work I’ll ever know.

Without my dad and his guidance and patience I would be lost, not that I’m found necessarily, but at least I have a pretty dependable compass for the wandering. He raised me when he didn’t have to. I was a sneaky sperm that snuck past a diaphragm and there were long discussions about what to do with me. He didn’t take an easy out. This was the 70’s and they had three kids already, they missed out on many a swinger party and cocaine binge I’m sure. They could have made an appointment to the doctor to vacuum me out and save themselves a ton of headaches over the years… and $$$! (One thing I have a natural talent for is causing headaches and wasting money.) But they didn’t, and here I am, your faithful poet-philosopher, wanderluster. And for that, I’m eternally indebted. It’s our species’s duty to pay this one forward.

Make no mistake, Father’s Day is bullshit, just like Valentine’s Day and Easter it’s just another made up instrument of the Institution… still, unlike the Easter Bunny and romantic love, father’s ARE real (just kidding).  Kidding not kidding. Still, fathers deserve to be appreciated and celebrated. They deserve respect and love every single day, and if it takes a Hallmark holiday to remind some of us to do it, then that’s okay. And if you have to clog Instagram with vintage photos of your dad or your husbands with your adorable children then that’s okay today.

One day, I’ll annoy you too. 🙂

Peace and Philippe Pateks, my proud papas.

Elasticity of Empathy

Dear Sir,

I understand the predicament we’re both in and that a decision needs to be made. Let me state my case as plainly as possible, for it is quite a unique situation I found myself in and once you hear the details, I’m sure our encounter yesterday will make more sense and seem less “crazy”.

On Tuesday I was turned into a squirrel.

Tuesdays are the days the gardener puts the rubbish bins on the curb. I was walking past the bins on my way to the corner to buy a cup of coffee from the new coffee shop that opened just last week. You see, the owners bought out a gas station and turned the pumps into coffee dispensers. Everybody was going and raving about the cleverness of this marketing scheme, although opinion was close to unanimous that the coffee tasted like a bit of gasoline was still flowing through the spigots. Lines wound down the block like the queen herself was passing out croissants. I needed to see for myself what everybody was talking about so I wouldn’t feel out of the loop or uninformed, basically uncool. For being cool is an important commodity in today’s world. As an employee, it’s valuable to the company that I possess this commodity; so you see, I was thinking of the company at the time I was headed to this new coffee shop.

The garbage had some Indian food emanating from it and there were flies swirling in large clouds because some miscreant had left the lid opened and dumped some of the trash out onto the street. I had to hold my nose as I walked past and that’s when a van drove by with the words “Resist to Exist” spray painted on the sides. Or was it “Exist to Resist”? Either way, I thought to myself: is that some neo-punk syllogism, or the name of some new tribal/dance/prog mash-up band? Before I finished my internal discourse the door slid open with a clatter and a man in a sharp blue pinstriped shirt pulled out a giant gun, more like a grenade launcher, actually, and fired it at me. There was a screaming splitting of air and I was hit by a large wattage of invisible atoms. How do I know they were atoms? Because I could feel the debate between electron and proton raging in my body as it shrunk into rodent form and my skin grew fur.

Now, being a squirrel isn’t the worst thing in the world. I’m not saying that. I’m not one of those pro-human types who distinguishes between us and the rest of the lifeforms populating this planet. I’m just not used to being a squirrel so the sudden transformation caught me off guard. Can you imagine looking forward to getting a cup of coffee and then having to switch your attention to procuring acorns for the winter? No, this is not something one can easily adapt to, no matter the open-mindedness of the individual encountering this situation. Hell, I didn’t even know how to climb a tree properly, although when I set out to do it I found that the claws I now possessed made the job quite easy, and when I did fall the one time, my body took the impact with a clumsy, yet supple, grace.

I know you may be wondering why, but I don’t know why that man shot me with a squirrel gun. Maybe it was some art project, or a protest against overpopulation. I don’t know. At this point I was a squirrel and such thoughts were no longer my concern. I was busy looking out for hawks and the garbage trucks that come by on Tuesdays. I now found myself aware of this concept in a different way, though. As a human, I knew garbage trucks came by on Tuesdays because it was a fact I knew empirically. As a squirrel, I realized they came by that day, with no idea what “Tuesday” meant, because of the smell coming from the garbage, not an idea lodged in my brain, but an association with an olfactory sense. And it was no longer the revolting stench I experienced as a human, but a piquant wafting of edible delights. First thing I did as a squirrel, matter of fact, was jump into one of those bins and rummage happily.

I’m not telling you all of this so you feel sorry for me. As a squirrel I didn’t know any self-pity. I was too nervous and hungry for that emotion. I did feel fear, however, and that was what motivated me as a squirrel. Constant fear of being squashed, or eaten, or starving. I now understand why they’re so skittish and quick to dart out into the street and then back onto the curb and up and down trees all day.

I guess my point is that when I missed work on Tuesday and Wednesday and finally showed up late on Thursday, having finally transformed back into human form, and you waved your arms and yelled at me for my tardiness and my insolvency to the company, you understand that I bit your hand because, I suppose, some squirrel DNA was still lingering in my being, and not out of defiance to the employee/employer relationship. I know, and understand, how these rules exist to protect the both of us. For society is a pact we must abide by or what? Chaos.

I will pay off my debt to the company and be in on time, not just some of the time, but every time. Such a unique situation couldn’t possibly happen again! I will be on the lookout for any questionable vans with gibberish written on their sides. And if you think about it, if I am fired, how will I make good on this debt? I am sure you understand the complexity of the situation. In a funny way, we’re beholden to each other.

In light of what I just informed you, I hope you can make a special exception for my ordeal the last few days, culminating in that awful incident of my biting your hand, which I am deeply regretful for. Having to get stitches is not how I like to spend my afternoon either. Oh, how sorry I am for my reaction to your very-sensible scolding. I guess I was just still suffering from the harrowing experience of being a squirrel — not that being a human is a walk in the park, but for a squirrel, it’s a terrifying scramble! Hahaha. You see I haven’t lost my sense of humor, another, if I may point out, asset to the company.

To close, I would hate to lose this job, and have what little funds are still swirling in my account removed, and be forced out into the street, to dig through rubbish bins like I were a squirrel all over again. In addition, my disappointment in being unable to pay back the company would be great — nay, epic — and I’ve yet to get a cup of that coffee that isn’t very good but is cleverly poured from old gasoline spigots. A lot is riding on the elasticity of your empathy, sir.

Sincerely, your faithful employee.

s

Letter to my Unborn Child

Hi. You don’t know me, but we’ll meet sometime soon.

I’m your father, Luke… haha. One day you’ll get that joke, and it will probably make you embarrassed. You see, it’s a famous line from a movie and an inescapable part of pop culture, but that’s all out of your range now. You don’t even know what a movie is, but you’ll love them, I promise.

Warning: I can be corny and all kids are embarrassed by their corny parents. Deal with it.

It’s a little silly that I’m writing you because right now you only exist as an image in my brain, a series of words on a rather unread blog, an idea blossoming in the garden of my soul. Corny, you could say. I’m waiting for you to come around, though. To reach the shores of this life you need to swim through an ocean of nonexistence. It’s my job to keep calling you to shore, and keep growing as a man so when you arrive, when you really exist, I’ll be able to take care of you properly. Shelter. Food. Love, love, love.

I don’t know if you’ll be a boy, little jeans, little sneakers, looking like a little me; or a girl, precious flower dress, curly hair, even though mines straighter than an airport runway (it’s just what I picture, maybe she’ll get it from her mom).

Speaking of, I don’t know who your mother will be, another of life’s great unknowns, but I’ll love her as much as I’ll love you, this is for sure. I know she’s out there, though, dancing through fields of lavender in a flowing cotton dress, looking for me through books of poetry. I’m searching for her face in a sea of strangers, hers is the instantly familiar one, drawn on the inside of my eyelids. She’ll be creative, beautiful, and funny. Blonde, brunette, fiery red…. She’ll love me like no one has before, inside and out. She’ll look at life like it’s a sundae bar, sweet and tempting and always ready to dive in. Together we’ll make a happy family, a cocoon of love, support, and corny jokes to shelter in from the inclement weather of time. And we’ll all have style, and be smart, and talk about books and current events, and we’ll garden together, travel to foreign countries in a pack of three, and make wonderful memories.

Three amigos.

You seem to be taking your time, and that’s all right, because while I wait I’m stuffing my heart like a teddy bear, so when you do come along you’ll have a soft, comforting place to rest your head. Until the day you’re born I’m saving all my love in a love bank to collect interest, doubling and tripling, until I’m a love tycoon and you’re my fortunate love heir, the Warren Buffet of hugs and kisses.

I will protect you, my prince or princess, like a knight assigned by the highest court in the land. I’ll be a good man, so you learn right from wrong. I’ll kiss your mother without fear and listen to her closely, so you know to respect your partner and treat love like the fragile blessing it is. I’ll teach you how to throw a baseball, or not to trust boys. I’ll read books to you in the evening under a soft, dim light until you drift off to sleep, snug against my chest.

All my life has been leading me to you. Even when I was young and stupid and sucking at life and never thinking about you. Through divorce and heartache and mistakes. Everything had a purpose. I learned not to throw anything away. Every broken bottle. Every ex I cried over. Every rough draft. Every torn jean. Every love gone bad. Every slip of the tongue. The stone needs to be chiseled to become a statue. Now I’m not so young and not so stupid and no longer stone. I’m ready for you.

You’ll shit and piss all over me and I’ll wipe your dirty mouth of mac n’ cheese; I’ll put pictures of you in frames above the mantel and bounce you on my knees.
Your first day of school, we’ll be unable to tell who’s more nervous, you or me;
Walking hand-and-hand through the crisp Autumn leaves, time is so slippery.

My beautiful daughter…

My handsome son…

Daddy is waiting.

Just thought you should know.

father