Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Catching “aprioris”

Catching “aprioris”

by Rev Simon-Peter

I am Reverend Simon-Peter and I fish for “aprioris”. “Aprioris” are the mind set, the matrix, behind everything we say and do. They are the famous shoes you must walk in to understand why we say and do what we do. To understand anything, you must first know where it’s coming from: where it’s coming from is its core belief system; so fundamental are these beliefs that they are rarely questioned and are believed without being examined.

Holy ones go into seclusion to explore their core beliefs, their “aprioris”. My particular “aprioris” are equality and the first commandment; that thing about loving God with your whole heart and soul and mind that Jesus told us to pursue and overlook the rest. His “rule” to treat others like yourself could be very dicey if you don’t love yourself. Who needs a self-loathing partner? It seems many of us do.

Back to catching “aprioris”.


Simply, Simon



Another day on the dirt swept, bittersweet Paradise known as Planet Dirt The whole population has been beamed here in every way imaginable. Animal, vegetable and mineral all arrived for the party.
Everyone at this party is on the menu. We are all gonna be consumed. Even memory will fade. All is lost. But there is hope.

This is the worst news anyone will ever hear or see or taste or touch. This revelation reaches into and effects everything that ever was, will be or is presently so. I’m sorry that I have chosen myself to be the one to tell you the WORST NEWS POSSIBLE!!

Everything is “POIFECT!!” There is no wrong or right, it’s just “POIFECT” the way it is and the way it isn’t. And, yes, it changes every moment so that “POIFECT” a moment ago will be already different in the next moment. Things really do move quickly around here.

We all travel at the speed of thought, at least our minds do, while the rest of the world travels at the speed that generates gravity, no faster or slower, just “POIFECT” for this whirling dust bag we call home.

So we spend a lot of our free mental time judging our world, and, no matter if you’re from the right or the left, we find the world needs fixing but can never agree on how, as a world populace, we can manage a world that works for everyone. The truth is we can’t. No one can. If you believe in a loving God, then we have a shot at creating a world that looks “perfect” even to us skeptics.

So what exactly is “POIFECT”? First you have to confront your own ignorance of the future. Got a crystal ball? Find an empty storefront, there are plenty around these days. Otherwise, join us honest folk who know that we know nothing.

Who can say for sure that what we judge terrible one moment ago might turn into something quite nice in the future. Happens all the time! And the same is true of the opposite. Something that looked good turns into poo-poo. Happens all the time! We know nothing!

So, we join the “POIFECT” Club. The only requirement for membership is the willingness to be wrong even when you think you’re right and to be right even if you think you’re wrong. There is a special greeting: When asked, “How are you”, your response must always be “POIFECT!! “(even if you’re not sure).

If challenged, you must say, in your own words or mine, “How do I know if this is the best or worst of times until the whole thing is over and it ain’t over yet!”

But there is an escape pod with your name on it.
Just focus your mind and contact DIRT PLANET DAILY.
We will supply all that you need to know to escape Planet Dirt’s fates.
Just tune in and turn on to the bodiless God that we all have within.

A voice of Hope and Joy, marinated in Love, will fulfill your happiness. If you tune into condemnation, you’re on the negative wavelength. Please turn from that station or you will suffer only guilt and shame. Choose. This is that fabled free will we are supposed to possess.

Choose an all-powerful God or one that only works on holy days
Choose an all-powerful God or one that only listens to the fortunate.
Choose an all-powerful God and blame everything on an all-powerful God.

Then relax and enjoy your ride on this cosmic dirt bag.
Turn all strife and joy over to an all-powerful God and let Him/Her/It sort it out.



Santa lives! And so do his Elves! It took me a while, more than 50 years to figure it out, but Santa and his Elves are for real! Honest!

As a child I believed in Santa 100% until that fateful day in the early 50’s when I was at the Allentown Fairgrounds and Santa arrived without his reindeer in a red helicopter. He was bound for Hess’s department store and they had a sleigh on top of a truck to carry THE MAN to the store.

To add to the “photo op” they stuck some kids next to Santa on his sleigh. I was one of those kids! I sat right next to Santa. And, horror of all horrors, his beard was false! There was a wire holding the damn thing on! He was a fake! Santa was not real!

I was now 100% certain that I had been lied to not only by my parents and teachers, but everybody in the world was in on this conspiracy. Make room, Mr. Scrooge; I’m on your “Bah! Humbug” team.

This attitude went on for years. I bought the presents, joined the conspiracy, but never for an instant forgave the world’s populace for foisting this lie on to us gullible kids. But as I grew older and saw the greediness and fear that seemed to rule this world, I had a second look at Santa.

Santa is not a thing, it is a human impulse given shape; the impulse to give rather than to receive. How do you give shape to an impulse, a feeling that doesn’t have a shape, just an inner directive that shouts: GIVE!! GIVE even when you may not have anything left to give.

The desire is real, even if its shape is unknown. So we make up a shape to make an invisible feeling visible. We enter the land of poetic imagery, what T.S. Eliot called “the objective correlatives”, words that conjure up pictures that universally evoke a feeling.

So, we came up with a fat old guy with a beard, a totally non-threatening clean Dude, who we’d let invade our homes while everybody’s asleep. A kind and generous grandfather figure dispensing gifts, gifts that are an expression of an inner feeling that we call love.

Love is a feeling and has no shape or size. How do you picture something that has no shape or size? You invent a shape and size that could symbolize that feeling. Voila, Santa is just a shape and size that symbolizes Love. So, every time we give or get a gift, Santa Lives! Love Lives!

So who are Santa’s Elves? We are! We are the helpers who manufacture and deliver the goods. Some of us are green, with envy, over the love we think others get and we don’t. There is an antidote for that feeling of being unloved.

GIVE and you receive the gift of love. Not from the receiver of the gift do you always get love, sometimes you get rejection. But you always get a gift from yourself that you gave to yourself. You have fed that inner need to GIVE! A feeling of inner satisfaction is the result. You can really pick yourself up by your own bootstraps.


Soon you discover that you are surrounded by love and Santa Lives! 365 days a year Santa Lives! Peace and Joy are everywhere! And you are one happy Elf.

Simply, Simon


Simply, SIMON



Do I hear boo’s?

Do I hear cheers?

More one than the other?

So what?

The bad news does not care if you like it or not.

The fact that everything is perfect,

And you don’t think so,

Is definitely your problem.

Fortunately there is a remedy;

That’s what we’re selling here,

The scape-goat that will heal everything:

“The All-Powerful GOD!”

Blame everything on “The All-Powerful GOD”

Then everyone else is off the hook.

If you don’t like the way it is,


But not just for the BAD

You gotta blame GOD for all the GOOD too.

Balancing the BAD and GOOD achieves harmony,

The PEACE that lasts.

In this Universe,

You have to expect the BAD with the GOOD

And the GOOD with the BAD,

Or you’re just fooling yourself








Once upon a time, almost 50 years ago, Allentown teens were terrorized by a gang of teenage thugs who called themselves “THE DRAGONS”. They would cruise the city in a car, seeking out teenagers to pounce upon, but only if they clearly outnumbered them. They would stop their car, jump out, beat the crap out of them and then speed away.

God knows what the Dragons home lives were like. What kind of mistreatment would ignite such venom, such anger, such envy? They obviously had a problem and they were passing it on to their victims. The cops knew about them but no one came forward to testify against them.

Then one night, my high school buddy, Mark, was out on a double date and was attacked by the Dragons. The girls were spared but Mark’s friend was overwhelmed. Mark was a high school wrestler in top shape and more than held his own. But the Dragons drew blood from Mark’s friend and fled.

It happened during football season when I was sick for a week with the flu. I wasn’t going to play that Friday night but was planning to go to the game anyway. Mark told me of his meeting with the Dragons and his desire to get even.

Word on the street was the Dragons could be found after football games at the Ritz BBQ in the fairgrounds. We devised a plan to meet force with force. A gang of good guys would pile into my Uncle Natie’s ’47 Chevy station wagon and confront the Dragons head on.

When we got there, the posse decided to visit some friends in the dining room while I stayed outside to talk with two younger pals, Jack and George. We’re talking and all of a sudden we’re surrounded by Dragons and I’m the shortest guy there. The head Dragon comes up to me, stares me in the eye and then spits on my pants. I spit back and all of a sudden I have three Dragons punching me.

I go down and now they’re kicking at my head. Fortunately, this was before football players wore facemasks and I’m used to this kind of treatment. I even get it at home. I get off the macadam canvas and a fourth dragon attacks me after making short work of George.

I’ve had enough and I’m warmed up and I nail this guy with a left hook that sends him reeling. The rest of the Dragons grab me and try to beat my head against a parked car. Finally an employee of the restaurant comes out and breaks up the melee.

Jack did well against the one or two he had to deal with but what happened to the cavalry of good guys? Apparently, everyone else had rushed to the door to watch the fight and blocked the doorway so they couldn’t come to my rescue.

It was over and I was ready to forget about it but one of our friends had relatives in the police department and they wanted to press charges and I was to be the prime witness.

When we got to the hearing we discovered the Dragons had a smooth talking lawyer who sweet talked me into agreeing that we were just a bunch of kids who chose up sides and then beat the crap out of each other, much like football.

It sounded reasonable to me and I agreed with the lawyer while a cop behind the judge kept shaking his head, no!. The Dragons won. So what! These guys needed a shrink to chill them rather than a jailer making them crazier. Didn’t someone say, “Forgive them for they know not what they do”? So I did.

Simply Simon



By Simply, Simon

An amazing discovery has been uncovered by a space commander in the outer reaches of consciousness; at least that’s what he tells us. Somewhere in the stars he has discovered that everyone is not schizoid or of two minds, but everyone, and that means me and you and everyone who ever was or ever will be, is actually trizoid—three minds inside each head instead of only two.

According to our space commander, the way GOD constructed the universe was to create a governing trinity to run the thing and then replicated that triangular system in every human. (That’s what the Jewish Star with its interlocking triangles means—as it is above, so it is below. Does this mean that GOD is trizoid too? Impossible, something’s gotta play the North Star—that’s GOD’s job, to be the only constant in a world of constant change.)

One part of this mind-trinity rules the body, which often seems to have an emotional mind of its own. Another part represents the brain, the play-by-play announcer/the thinker and the third mind is a second voice in the head—the thing we call a conscience. The body, the mind, and the spirit each have a voice-vote inside your head just like the universe outside you is ruled by the trinity principle. Father (SPIRIT), Son (MIND) masculine and Soul (BODY) feminine.

For us humans, according to the commander, the personality represents the 2nd part of the trilogy, the Son (MIND) and is a mask we wear and project in public. The VOICE we hear inside our heads represents the Soul (BODY), the 3 rd part of the trilogy, and is the emotional merry-go-round behind the mask, the cheerleader and doom sayer inside our thoughts, “the devil’s radio” (where fears, like ancient dragons, haunt our every breath),

Then there is the seemingly silent 1st part of the trilogy, the Father (SOUL), a Voice for God in our guts, that thing we call heart: the you you are when you are alone without an audience. Most mistake “the devil’s radio” for GOD’s Voice or just dismiss It as ghosts from childhood that we haven’t shooed away yet. To hear and respect that voice is to become an adult, a menche, and a realized being. The Spirit is connected to all beings, it’s the glue of the universe.

The space commander says each of us is an actor in GOD’s Theater including the volatile earth herself with her twin terrors of wind and water. We are all fed our lines, and when we accomplish our service here, we pass on to our next gig or service.

My mind sings three part harmony: God, the silent (yeah!) witness; the opposing arguments (the left versus the right, risk management): together, they end up singing Praises to the Lord. It’s His Playpen and He wouldn’t ask anyone to do something that He hadn’t already done zillions of times.



















Simply, Simon


Simply, Simon


Do we sometimes think “life sucks and then we die” when we’ve had a long stretch of bad luck or Karma?

The flaw in our evaluation of our present "bad Karma" is that we
still think we are cameras, objectively recording God's daily load of
difficulties handed directly to each one of us. Rich or poor, known or unknown, we all get our equal share of “stuff”. When we label that “stuff” crap or great we are in error. It’s neither and both at the same time.

We think we are cameras when, in reality, we are really projectors. We give
everything we see a value, an opinion, a like or dislike, a yes or no. Everything
we contact is seen through these judgements that we project like colored filters in front of a lens, shading everything we see. We are blinded by our own opinions. Objectivity is a fantasy, like the tooth fairy, that has nothing to do with reality. It is impossible to step outside of one’s basic, vital interests..

So, to say an event is bad Karma or good Karma, is to spray paint it white or
black. Creation itself seems neutral, it doesn’t seem to care what we think, but, we, on the other hand, LOVE what we think. We paint everything with emotional colors from our own minds’ palette of beliefs.

Instead of seeking the blessing in disguise, we fixate on the loss without
balancing that with our gain. Or we cheer the gain and ignore the loss. That balancing act is called harmonizing the duality, the Yin-Yang nature of this creation. Nothing is good or bad: it’s our opinions that make them so.

So we like vanilla and God sends chocolate. The solution: explore the joys of chocolate. Then, continue to party in this wonderful playpen called

Simply, Simon

Harvesting Souls

Simply, Simon

Harvesting Souls

When the Grim Reaper calls, don’t fret, it’s only harvesting souls.

And who should eat such a sumptuous feast but the Grand Harvester.

Each soul consumed by That One, becomes One with That One.

We indestructible spirits live eternally in That Holy Union.

We live very briefly, however, in our destructible bodies, “Why?”

We are living in the Gardens of the Lord; some wet, some dry.

This is where souls mature to become One with the One.

Once matured, they are harvested for that massive appetite

That keeps expanding!

Its very nature is to create!

How To Wash Your Brain

How To Wash Your Brain

First, take off your shoes. Var. shoes off to stripper music

The shortest distance to the head
Is through the feet. Get comfy. It won’t hurt.

Notice your thoughts. Say, “. Fx
Duhhh, What’s up thoughts?”

If they reply that life sucks
And then you die
Run quickly to the nearest light.
You have just encountered
The dark side. Your very own darkness..

That’s the dirt in your brain that needs washing.

Fortunately, we have been supplied
With an ample solution
An attitude adjustment

The antidote to the dark side is to
“Keep your sunny side up, up,
Keep your sunny side up.”

It’s all in your head
You gave yourself an F
And God gave you an A.

It’s God’s Universe
We’re only sharing it
Until death gives us a new lease.

Simply, Simon


Simply, Simon


Muhammad Ali had his jaw broken when he lost his first fight against Ken Norton back in ’73 and was about to have his first public sparring session before their rematch. Reese Schonfeld, the man who created CNN, was running UPITN at the time, a video version of the UPI words-only feed, and I was a free-lance producer who supplied sports segments for this pioneer TV news feed. Reese sent me and a New York film crew, camera and soundman, to Ali’s training camp outside Allentown, Pennsylvania, on a mountainside area called Deer Lake. Allentown was my hometown.

Once again, God had screwed me. I never was a sports fan, had little interest in boxing, and here I was going to interview this colossal egotist, the self proclaimed “The Greatest!” and I could care less. My Dad had been an amateur boxer and had once jumped on my back and tried to bury my face in the lawn by pounding on the back of my head. I guess I was lucky that the grass was soft and I had had many hours of playing high school football without a facemask.

We met Ali at his campgrounds on the side of a little mountain that was in Allentown’s backyard. He said part of his training regimen was to chop down trees and he would be happy to chop a tree down for our camera. Great! But would he mind an interview before and he agreed. These two guys from New York who were the camera crew wore jackets, ties and leather soled shoes and we had to climb down the mountainside to get to the particular tree Muhammad had chosen as the sacrificial lamb. I was dressed casually, wearing sneakers.

We sat in the shadowy shrubbery with the camera and portable light filming from over my shoulder and I didn’t have a clue about what to ask Muhammad. So, I asked the stupid, hypothetical questions reporters always ask about what he thought was going to happen today, tomorrow and the next day. Not having brought his crystal ball with him down the mountainside, Ali gave me the only reasonable answer he could think of given who he was. He was going to beat the bee Jesus out of Norton today, tomorrow and the next day.

Just then, the batteries ran out of juice and we hadn’t shot Ali chopping down the sacrificial tree. The two pot-bellied guys helped each other climb back up the mountain to get a fresh battery, which left me alone on a mountainside with “The Greatest”. What I wanted to know was what made this outrageous guy tick but before I could throw my first question he started jabbing me with quick fantasy bullshit: how he had named all the huge boulders on this property after famous fighters.
Of course, there was the Rocky Marciano rock, the Joe Louis rock, the Jersey Joe rock, and so forth and so on and on and the guys came tumbling downhill with the battery and I had never laid a question on him. He had kept me at a distance, outboxed me, and we weren’t even in a ring. So, I came up with a suggestion: Tell us out loud what you’re thinking while your chopping down that tree. His eyes lit up, the portable light lit up, the camera rolled and that phenomena called “The Greatest” manifested itself.

“Norton!“ chop! “Norton!“ chop! “Norton, Norton!“ chop! chop! And then a poem, a limerick, something about how he was going to beat the bee Jesus out of Norton; all in the rhythmic beat of the chopping. The tree fell and “The Greatest” exited up the mountain, stage right, out of camera, and another Ali moment! Cut! and print it for posterity! (It aired once and “mysteriously” disappeared from the UPITN library, never to be seen again. A lost masterpiece!)

We followed him up the hill to the log cabin dance hall that had a ring set up in the middle for the public sparring demonstration of his broken jaw’s durability for his rematch with the chopped-down Norton. There were folding chairs around the ring and a guy I went to high school from Allentown was in the small crowd of about 30 to witness “the main event”.

Ali had gone in a room off to the side to change into his battle togs. The soundman came up to me with a large splinter from the Norton tree and asked if I would ask Ali to autograph it. Why not, I thought and entered the side room. Ali was standing there with a few of his people. He was stark assed naked! “Hello, Champ”, I said even though he was officially not the champ at this moment, but, after his performance on the mountainside, he will always be the Champ to me, “Would you mind autographing this stick of wood for the soundman?” Without a blink and a big smile he did. I loved this man. He was truly “The Greatest” and it had nothing to do with boxing, it had to do with generosity.

The sparring was short and tame, no one had blood in their eyes or in their hearts. It looked like it was all over. The Champ took off his gloves, went into his corner and came back into the center of the ring. All of a sudden a magician’s cane sprung from his hand and then flowers. He performed a magic act for all us folks , free of charge, unexpected; what a guy!

There is a Noguchi museum in Long Island City filled with large rocks, all with artistic names. I’d love to take the Champ there now to play with him and the rocks. Once again, I had been wrong. God had actually blessed me and all those touched by “The Greatest”!




I can always be found there.

I’m never out of touch

If sometimes a bit distracted.

It is where I spend my days and nights

Musing on truth and fiction.

While my mind and body do their daily duties,

My soul is free to muse on reality and unreality

And discover the truth that is unspeakable

In this world of words.

The Truth is too big to be spoke

But small enough to fit into every heart.

My soul is my home.

It is my turtle shell

Made out of Spirit

And is One with everything

Made out of Spirit.

Contact me there.

I’ll always be home.



By Rev. Simon-Peter

Poor Moses! Deserves a Purple Heart for doing the dirtiest deed. What a monstrous hand he drew! All he thought he was doing was helping! That thing that he brought down from the mountaintop was meant to be a list of suggestions for peaceful social interaction on a 40-year desert excursion. How could Poor Moses know that God had given him the dirty job of delivering the Great-Guilt-Machine to a bunch of happy campers who really didn’t want to really hear about guilt and shame?

See, the thing about the last 9 commandments is that they are no-no’s that are impossible because you can break the rules with just words or thoughts. Who can control their words in a storm of passion? Who can control their thoughts? The mind is a wind that goes where it will go. And even deeds: Who can control deeds? Even the great ones have bad days. If you even think about coveting your neighbor’s ass you’ve spilled that moral acid in your guts, that thing we call guilt. No one can stand before the last 9 and not ache in sinful shame. It’s a fantastically successful self-torture device for feeling bad.

The really wonderful part of the guilt machine is the victim is also the perpetrator. It’s so efficient; a court hearing inside your own head with your self-respect on the line. And the shame machine always wins and you lose peace, sanity and overall well-being.

No wonder Poor Moses couldn’t enter Israel and had to hide his face. He knew how badly he had screwed up! He saw the crippling psychological pain grow on their trek. Everybody now had the word of God to support their believe in error and sin. Great! More pain! Authorized suffering. A good reason to feel bad. Perfect nonsense.

So if you dump the last 9 as impossible except as suggestions for peaceful co-existence and commit to the first commandment, we’re home free of guilt and shame. All we have to do is worship God as the all powerful creator, sustainer and destination for all who have hopped, skipped or jumped into this universe, for an instant or an hour. In short, It’s God’s hood and it’s all kosher.

Simply, Simon



Remember, if you can, that moment before you learned how to ride a bicycle. It looked impossible to achieve balance on two round wheels. Some of us got little trainer wheels to attach to the back wheel but that only prolonged the infancy of learning how to ride a bike. Most of us had to fall a few times before that magic moment when, voila’, you discovered a balance you’d never forget.

Once you’ve achieved that balance, you always have it, never forget it. You no longer need trainer wheels. Besides slowing you down they’re no longer necessary. A lot like Moses and his 10 commandments. Once you’ve mastered the first commandment, you don’t need the rest. They were only training wheels for spiritual and social infancy.

What the first commandment really means is there is nothing here but God. There is nothing there but God. There is no not God, there is only God. The rest of what’s going on here is just false ownership, praise or blame; simply bullshit.

The remaining “thou shalt nots” are all conditional and not absolutes. “Don’t kill” unless the ruling junta gives you license doesn’t sound like an All-Powerful God’s command to me. Don’t even think naughty thoughts. That’s inhuman and impossible. And who decides what’s naughty and nice when Santa Claus, like God, is a doubtful concept.
Take David and Bathsheba. No adultery, no Solomon. You figure it out.

This screwy Moses system is a mind game that manufactures guilt-pain by the bucket full. Mature folks learn that in this dualistic world of yin & yang, right & wrong, good & evil, etc. that there are no truly straight lines. Up close everything is crooked. The shortest distance between two points is a curve. The straight line is an abstract concept that the mature mind accepts as something not attainable in this world. Close but no cigar.

So how does one learn to live in this world, follow a righteous path, without the trainer wheels of the last 9 commandments. It’s a lot like learning how to ride a bicycle. You stop judging yourself and others and you achieve balance. You can slip and fall and call yourself or another “asshole” which is anatomically correct but stops you both in your tracks.

Balance is another way of saying harmony. No one is alone in this world. We’re all surrounded by stuff. Learning to ride this dualistic, two-wheeled world is simply being in harmony with the way things are at this moment, this holy instant. When you step back from your notions of how things should be, you can actually see the way things really are. All of a sudden, voila, you have achieved balance, harmony and are at peace. Once you learn this lesson, you will never forget. You may occasionally fall but still can get back up.

Simply, Simon

Sermon on Oz

Sermon on Oz

(V.O.over witch writing in the sky sequence) Surrender Dorothy! The dreaded message in “The Wizard of Oz” turns out to be the key to happiness.

(O.C.) The magic word starts with an “S" like Sesame in “Open Sesame” but this magic word is a verb, an action word; a do something word: Surrender! But to whom do we surrender? It looks like to the wicked witch but it’s really to the world of Oz and the laws of that world. There is a loving designer behind the wizard. For the sake of this sermon, let’s call that designer behind the wizard the author, the “divinity that shapes the story, complain about that divinity how much we may for scaring us in the first place.”

(Over 4 frightened petitioners to Wizard) Dorothy and her gang are scared not only of the witch but of the author’s representative in Oz, the wizard. We later discover the wizard’s just a rumbling, bumbling human just like us who rarely does anything right (scene with balloon). But the magic of the author’s kingdom saves Dorothy every time (she clicks her heals 3x).

(Witches henchmen’s song) Back to Dorothy’s confrontation with the fearful witch. When Dorothy is actually face to face with the witch what happens? She is too frightened to save herself but not afraid to rescue the friend she loves, the burning scarecrow. By throwing water on the fire, she not only rescues her friend, she rids Oz of the evil one (witch melts and cries).

The witch was just a servant of the author like everyone else in this tale. But what’s its point? Time after time we are confronted by what we fear, something evil. But by confronting that fear, that evil, it melts if we trust in the author that everything will turn out for the best. Reserve judgement, take courage and climb your fearful mountain. And it will turn into a molehill.

Simply, Simon

Coming Out

Coming Out

My friend has left the room

To face some possible gloom.

The price he must pay?

What others will say.

But for a man who has courage of thought,

His actions are what his mind hath wrought.

Simply, Simon



Once upon a time there was a vacant lot in Allentown, PA that stretched from Liberty to Gordon Streets at 22nd, and it was about the size of a football field. The northern most portion at Liberty Street, about thirty yards, was flat and the rest was a steeply rising hill that went a full block all the way to Gordon Street, the lot’s southern border. Halfway up that hill was a huge blackberry tree that kids and birds circled when the fruit was ripe and ate to their hearts content. If almost 60 years qualifies as a long time, this all happened a long time ago.

There was a gang of teenaged kids on Liberty Street who were called “The West End Kids” by The Morning Call newspaper when the teens turned the vacant lot into an amusement park. This gang was very different from the storied thugs or rowdies who create havoc in other neighborhoods. In comparison, these were a bunch of model citizens who were playful and constructive rather than mean and spiteful.

The vacant lot was near Dorney Park, an amusement park that had many rides but the featured attraction, which inspired “The West End Kids”, was a wooden roller coaster. They decided they would build their own roller coaster on their field of dreams.

The original idea came from conversations between Billy Kipp, Marvin Hoffman and Ron Burnet. Burnet was a teenager with a natural gift for carpentry and he would be the” Master Builder”. Hoffman says, “I think I only hammered 2 or 3 nails. Ron did everything”. Burnet says, “I had the whole plan for it in the back of my head. I never put anything down on paper.”

They “borrowed” the lumber from a nearby construction site and the abandoned “Open Air School” which had been built at the beginning of the 20th Century to accommodate children with tuberculosis and was now being slowly torn down by the local kids for projects like the roller coaster.

It all happened in April of 1946, shortly after the end of WW II. The Morning Call published a picture with Billy Kipp riding the single car on its 2-hump voyage. The only way to end the ride was to have a bunch of guys that included Burnet, Hoffman and his brother Donald at the bottom ready to catch the brakeless car.

It only stood for 2 days. None of the kids knew who tore it down but when they got home from school, all that was left was a pile of twisted lumber. In all honesty, it was dangerous. No brakes, of questionable stability, it was a disaster waiting to happen. But it was only the first of several marvels performed on this unused space.

The gang quickly responded. There was a tree in the Hoffman backyard, the closest home to the lot that had a trunk about 18 inches thick. They cut it down, leaving a stump almost 4 feet tall. A heavy board about 6 feet long was anchored in the middle over the stump and 2 reinforced crates were attached to each end of the board, and Presto!, there was a new ride, a cheap version of an aerial merry go round.

Unfortunately, none of these rides lasted very long, especially when the parents came home. But came Halloween, the “West End Kids” came up with a winner. They turned the lot into a scary “Fun House” for the local kids. Just after it turned dark, we were led around a marked off course where paper mache spiders dangled overhead and tickled you as you passed by.

Then a white-sheeted ghost would jump from a hidden foxhole. The whole lot had been undermined with underground passageways and you never knew when the next nasty pirate or skeleton masked soldier was going to spring up and shout “BOOOO!” They went through all that trouble just to play with us kids. Paradise was a vacant lot filled with loving, creative ingenuity.

My favorite of all the experiences was the freezing winter when we had several deep snows that didn’t melt and then we had several ice storms that created a thick crust of ice over the snow. Ron Burnet became inspired, He “borrowed” his Mom’s butcher knife and started cutting out large building blocks of frozen snow. He was going to build an Eskimo’s igloo on the frozen tundra of Allentown, PA.

Soon there was a crowd of helpers and many “borrowed” kitchen knives. Once again, the vacant lot became a place of wonder. I crawled into the finished masterpiece and had the fantasy of being at the North Pole that was now less than a block from the warm comforts of home. It was priceless.

By this time, the kids had gotten smart. At the end of the day, they smashed the igloo. It could have been a seductive danger for little kids who could be buried alive without the gang around to bail them out.. They took as much joy in destroying it as they had in building it. They had their fun and took responsibility for any serious repercussions.

Ron Burnet went on to build a spectacular tree house next to the “Open Air School” (the source for his building materials) that the Morning Call covered and titled “West End Builder At It Again!” Billy Kipp became an Olympic skating coach and was killed in the 1960 plane crash when our entire skating team perished. Marvin and Donald Hoffman (my first babysitters) are still around but Ron Burnet moved away and continued building, earning a living using his gifts.

Eventually the whole lot became the nesting place for a string of identical two story apartment houses and all of the magic of that empty field is gone except in the memories of those of us who had been enchanted by what “The West End Kids” did with it. It taught me a lesson about what you can accomplish when you turn a neglected nothing into a joyful something.

Simply, Simon
Simply, Simon's

Position Paper


Tears are cheers to GOD,

Praise for a perfect Creation.

Tears of gladness celebrate Gain.

Tears of sadness appreciate Loss.

Every teardrop validates creation’s Worth.

Yesterday glimmers with beloved Ghosts,

Tomorrow simmers with dreams of Hope.

Today is just another perfect day to pray or play for Tears.

Welcome to the bittersweet Paradise!

The launchpad to Eternity.

If you’ve been Here,

You’ll be There:

I guarantee It!

Simply Simon

Intimate Strangers

Simply, Simon

Intimate Strangers

I found a new family in my 12-step program.

Brothers and sisters I never knew,

Forgiving me unconditionally.

Total Strangers who tell each other the truth

Become a family of Intimate Strangers,

Sinners who do not throw stones.

We attend The 12 Step Church.

Our God has no name except Higher Power.

We believe Confession purges the soul and the Truth sets us free.

In anonymous rooms we Confess and are forgiven.

In anonymous rooms we hear Confessions and forgive.

We hear of damage, we hear of recovery, we learn to hope.

The anonymous rooms are actually halls of mirrors,

Each one of us, a mirror to the rest.

We are the many who are one.

We are not alone.

We came to this fellowship shameful liars.

The lies hid secrets even from ourselves.

The Truth inspired miraculous recoveries

Among this family of Intimate Strangers.

Some have even become Intimate Friends.

Love is not only a possibility,

It is the very mortar of our 12 Step Church.

Where open wounds are closed,

Where closed worlds are opened,

And where the Truth of Intimate Strangers


The Heartbreakers



Here they come, “The Heartbreakers”,

The Killers who also break hearts.

They stop one heart and break every heart that loved the one they stopped.

They are not good or bad,

They’re just doing their job:

Stopping hearts and breaking others.

Hate is at home with the Heartbreakers,

The dirty deed’s made clean.

Sin turned into sport.

The winning and losing,
The body counts,
The cost per kill,
The joys of War.

Like it was reasonable and tragic and just all at the same time.

And not completely insane.



Auto parts are a lot like body parts, you got to have most of your parts or your whole thing won’t run. So, I got this job delivering auto parts to garages and auto repair shops in this semi rural valley I was born and raised in. Driving around my valley, I’m learning about nooks and crannies I had heard of as a child but didn’t have a clue about their actual whereabouts.

Now their location is of paramount importance. Some auto or truck is sick and the automotive doctors have determined a replacement part is needed and I am driving, safely, to save a sick puppy. I am riding to the rescue in my clown colored car to make two people happy: the vehicle’s owner and the mechanic. I have a mission. I am a happy servant.

I use to complain that someone should make a car that never needed fixing. Nothing is made to last! Planned obsolescence I called it. Then I looked in the mirror. Whoever created this universe didn’t make anything to last. The automakers are only mirroring nature.

Part-time auto parts delivering fits my retirement to a “T”. It greases my income, and gets me out into the world so that I can swirl in its weather and play with everyone: even co-workers and customers. I have a good time no matter what the weather is physically, socially or financially. That’s what us retired guys should do. Have a good time.

It’s written in the Declaration of Independence, that stuff about the pursuit of happiness. If you haven’t gotten happy while sliding down your last slope; then, When? So it’s my constitutional duty to have a good time no matter what the weather throws my way.

It’s my solemn duty as a guy on the way out, to go out laughing, or, at least, smiling. So, here’s my secret recipe, given to me by the ancient sages of antiquity; it’s simply this: Imagine having an All-Powerful Being to blame everything on! It’s not my fault or your fault that the world is the way it is. It’s that interfering, got to have it My Way, All-Powerful Thing. Shakespeare called it, a “Divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we may.”

I send all my complaints to the Maker. I also send my compliments. I hope my objections are noted but rarely do I get things my way. I blame the All-Powerful Designer, wash my thoughts of the whole matter and continue practicing happiness by being happy with my lot, whether its full of lemons or auto parts.

I get paid to look at Pennsylvania’s rolling hills in the bowels of this valley that probably once was a seabed. The sunlight plays games with my sight, blinding me one moment and then hiding for days, sending those misty tears we call clouds in the sun’s place and making me yearn for the return of the light. But I love the balance, the harmony of it all.

The streets of my childhood are filled with friendly ghosts of my past superimposed over the brief permanence of the present. I feel the undertow of the world to come. I am a child of Providence delivering auto parts.

Simply, Simon