WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Friday, May 25, 2018

Behind Blue Eyes, Behind Black Shades...

Yes. No doubt. 

The best things in life are free. So even though we are in the clutches of a "malignant capitalism" (see previous post), that consumes everything, turns us into crazed-24/7-consumers, inexorably turns Mother Nature and all her beauty, all her pretty creatures, to smoke, well, when it comes down to it, (might sound like a cliche, but it's true), money, the buying and the selling, can't bring you love or happiness, or eternal life.

Life is life. Love is love. Happiness is happiness. It comes like the rain, or the sunshine. Or not.

Anyway, yesterday was sort of perfect day. Sunshine. Warm. Not humid. Gorgeous blue sky. A slight breeze. I found myself on the lakefront. Everything seemed alive. The Rocks. The Water. The Sky. The Greenery. People everywhere. People Doing People Things: walking, running, biking, roller-blading, Mothers pushing plump New Babies in strollers, wind-surfing, walking the dog, sailing, sun-bathing, lazing, talking, meditating, sleeping, picnicking, bbq-ing, eating, laughing, smooching.

I was on my bicycle: an old clunker from the late 60's or early 70's. Solid. A bit homely. Classic. I was alone, taking in the day. Overwhelmed by so much life and energy. It was like injecting all this life and energy into my bloodstream. A total kick. Behind Blue Eyes, Behind Black Shades. It was exhilarating. Couldn't get enough of it. I could just feel all that energy, all that motion & commotion, all that life, seeping into me. It was glorious.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A New, New Deal...

The Heart of the Matter...

Malignant Capitalism: "Capitalist democracy inevitably leads to a dictatorship of capital."

This seems so true, and of the moment, although, I think it has been obvious for much of my life. I think it's hard to pinpoint exactly when the malignancy started, but I'd guess in the late 1960's or early 1970's.

We thought Capitalism & Democracy went hand in hand, but we were wrong! NY Mag: "America's Version of Capitalism is Incompatible with Democracy."

"In these grisly conditions, social democrats see a textbook case of malignant capitalism. Democracies cannot survive on norms alone. When markets are left under-regulated — and workers, unorganized — the corporate sector becomes a cancerous growth, expanding until it dominates politics and civil society. An ever-greater share of economic gains concentrates in ever-fewer hands, while the barriers to converting private wealth into public power grow fewer and farther between. Politicians become unresponsive to popular preferences and needs. Voters lose faith in elections — and then, a strongman steps forward to say that he, alone, can fix it."

Should "Liberal Democrats" be fighting against the erosion of "norms," or should "Radical Democrats" be fighting for a more radical solution? An economic system of equality? A New, New Deal? The article argues we must choose one or the other. Somehow I'd like to see us thread the needle, to straddle the contradiction.

Of course, the Hippies were right. We need more Peace, Love and Understanding. Plus:  "What’s needed is a movement that mobilizes working people in numbers large enough to demand a new deal from capital. Thus, if the liberal intelligentsia wishes to save American democracy, it should devote the lion’s share of its energies to brainstorming how such a movement can be brought into being — and what changes that movement should make to our nation’s political economy, once it takes power."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Daily 24/7 Hate!

Ahhh... Fuck it... Little Baby Man tells "big lies" every single day... it's difficult to keep up... but we must pay attention, catalog the lies... seek the truth every single day...

Little Baby Man and Rocket Man have a lot in common. Two sadly-comic, two-bit, tin-pot, Authoritarians way out of their leagues.  Upward Fail at the max!

I am on my own private George Orwell jag. Feeling a little bit like Winston Smith: "Winston is a kind of innocent in a world gone wrong..."

Grasping at the straws of Truth: "the body of real things, events, and facts." Grappling with the "two minutes Hate", except in our current Dystopia, it's a Daily 24/7 Hate!

Democracy. How does it Die? A Cascade of Failure: "a process in a system of interconnected parts in which the failure of one or few parts can trigger the failure of other parts."

Electoral System. Media. Political Party. Public Ethics. Morality. Fail. All Fail. Our Little Baby Man President is a "stress test," and well, the stress is killing us.

We are swimming in a Sea of Lies, Paranoia, Propaganda. There is an Authoritarian Strain in good Old USA. A betrayal of everything we supposedly hold dear. One party is in thrall to a Corrupt, Unethical, Extremely Dangerous Leader. "Blind Submission" to the Power.

So much like Putin's Russia. No surprise that Putin assisted our Little Baby Man Tin-Pot Dictator Wanna-Be. How does this end? Need to face up to some basic truths. Stick to hard facts. Tune out the noise. Keep Hope alive in the midst of the bleak darkness.

A reporter asked Little Baby Man why he continually attacks our Free Press. His answer is revealing and chilling. Read it and weep: 

"You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all & demean you all so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.” - Little Baby Man

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"While money doesn't talk, it swears Obscenity, who really cares Propaganda, all is phony..." - Bob Dylan

This seems like a major problem...

George Orwell was the "canary in the coal-mine" all those years ago. He warned us about living with propaganda, lies and disinformation 24/7.

A deep political divide. The political discourse flooded with lies, propaganda & disinformation. Suddenly the Law and Order Party, no longer trusts the Law.  Wonder why?

Kevin Drum: "These are, once again, net results (percent approval minus percent disapproval). For years there was little difference between Republicans and Democrats. Then Democratic views bumped up a bit in the September 2016 poll—even though that was after James Comey had called Hillary Clinton “extremely reckless,” causing her lead over Trump to shrink by a couple of points. Republicans, however, had just finished up their “Lock Her Up!” national convention and weren’t satisfied with a mere verbal thrashing. Their views of the FBI spiked downward.

After that, Democrats stayed steady. But by February of this year the net Republican view of the FBI was a mere +19 percent: 55 percent approval vs. 36 percent disapproval. This has no historical precedent among the traditional party of law-and-order. But now it’s May, and things have gotten even worse: according to the YouGov poll, net trust of the FBI among Republicans is -10 percent. Donald Trump and Fox News and congressional Republicans have convinced more than half of Republicans that the FBI is a cesspool of corruption and bias against conservatives.

That’s remarkable enough. But keep in mind that the FBI was almost single-handedly responsible for keeping Hillary Clinton out the White House. Even so, Republicans think the FBI is biased against them. This is what Trump has done to the Republican Party."

Monday, May 21, 2018

Paranoia. Desperation. Ignorance. Hubris. Ridiculousness.

Yeah. It's weird. We are starting to get used to having a Mad, Looney Tunes, Fat Guy yelling at us all the time via Twitter & TV. It's weird to be yelled at by someone so clearly confused & ignorant. Probably the dumbest person you know, either personally or tangentially, just spouting off all the time. He seems troubled, hysterical, sort of craven and desperate. He sits in a prominent, famous chair, but acts like a spoiled brat with way too much time on his hands. We are in the middle of the story, so it's hard to get perspective on what's going down, but I think the gist of it is, that this Mad, Looney Tunes Fat Guy has done some really stupid, illegal things throughout his life, and all of  his past acts are now slowly seeping out into the light of day. The Law is coming at him from every direction. He is surrounded by corrupt & craven folks who are in it all for a buck and thrill. Paranoia. Desperation. Ignorance. Hubris. Ridiculousness. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

"No Two Brains Can Be, Or Ever Will Be, Alike..."

I just finished Olivers Sacks' (9 July 1933 – 30 August 2015) great book "On the Move - A Life.  Such an amazing, inspiring mind. A compassionate, empathetic, inspiring, Human Being - "a British Neurologist, Naturalist, Historian of Science and Author."

Another one of those books where there is a revelation on just about every page. An super-intelligent read. You "feed your head" just by burying yourself in this book.

Towards the end we meet Gerald M. Edelman an American Biologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1972. Sacks wrestles with Edelman's "Neural Darwinism - A New Approach to Memory and Perception." According to Sacks, Edelman's theory is a game-changing insight on the brain.

I, of course, don't really understand it all, but I will gladly jump to ill-informed conclusions based on the the implications of Neural Darwinism, because, well, that is the way I roll. Let me sum it up like so - our brains are elastic & plastic, easily changeable; and our experiences, the sights & sounds of our lives, can change the actual structure of our brains.

No brain works exactly like any other brain. There is a "natural selection" of neurons inside our craniums. Each brain is unique. Not only in the memories, the experiences, but in the actual way the neurons bond and work with each other. Freaky Cool. Seems so exciting to think that everything we do, everything we think, everything we experience, the music we listen to, the people we associate with, the actions we take, actually construct a very unique brain that works unlike any other.

Isreal Rosenfield (The New York Review of Books): "Each person according to his theory is unique: his or her perceptions are to some degree creations and his or her memories are part of an ongoing process of imagination. A mental life cannot be reduced to molecules. Human intelligence is not just knowing more, but reworking, recategorizing, and thus generalizing information in new and surprising ways. It could be that inappropriate categorizations from damaged maps may cause psychoses, just as the inability to correlate the succession of objects or events in time may be largely responsible for the loss of specific memories in the case of amnesia already mentioned.

Of course, language is acquired in society, but our ability to use it, to constantly reconceive the world around us, is at least in part a reflection of the multiple mappings and remappings that appear to be central to brain function. Such a view reinforces the idea that no two brains can be, or ever will be, alike. Edelman’s theory of neuronal group selection challenges those who claim that science views individual human beings and other animals as reproducible machines and that science is little concerned with the unique attributes of individuals and the sources of that uniqueness. Humanism never had a better defense."

Saturday, May 19, 2018

We Are All George Orwell Now!

Icarus. Yes. This documentary is stunningly great. I guess, it's no surprise it won an Oscar. It's starts with a very specific, personal story, it takes an unexpected turn, and becomes a very different, much bigger, story. Let's say, the grand theme is maybe the story of our time.

Power. Lies. Corruption. Cheating. Propaganda. Winning at all costs. Success. Failure. Truth-telling. Double-think.

Yes, the great George Orwell makes an appearance too. We truly live in an Orwellian dystopia!

"In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia." 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Moral Outrage Vs. Cheap Sarcasm!

Moral Outrage"is often a function of self-interest, wielded to assuage feelings of personal culpability for societal harms or reinforce (to the self and others) one's own status as a Very Good Person."

Right. Moral Outrage is sort of a self-serving fraud.

Cheap Sarcasm: "Sarcasm “appears to stimulate complex thinking and to attenuate the otherwise negative effects of anger.

Useful! You’re distancing yourself, you’re making yourself superior,” Haiman says. “If you’re sincere all the time, you seem naive.”

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Against Cynicism, For Sarcasm and a Healthy Skepticism!

Okay, a point of clarification...

I am against cynicism -  not trusting or respecting the goodness of other people and their actions, but believing that people are interested only in themselves.

I do think we should all try our best to trust and respect the goodness of others, and their good actions... and we shouldn't always attribute the worst motives to others.

And I am for sarcasmremarks that mean the opposite of what they say, made to criticize someone or something in a way that is amusing to others but annoying to the person criticized.

Think David Letterman, or Larry David, or even Jerry Seinfeld... sarcasm is a useful tool. It's a protective strategy, gives us a little mental space, and it's a great weapon to puncture & deflate those who need puncturing & deflating. 

Good for mental health. 

Also good to adopt a "healthy skepticism"  - nothing should be accepted nor rejected without considerable evidence - seems super-relevant, useful and important in this crazy world of disinformation and propaganda!

Go forth, be fruitful and multiply the good works, thoughts and actions...

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"Love Each Other, Motherfuckers." - Patti Smith, as quoted by Patterson Hood

The cover says a lot. Flag at half-mast. "American Band" by the Drive by Truckers. Released September 30, 2016. I listened to the record about 6 or 7 times before I looked at the liner notes and the song lyrics. I just love the sound of the record. Lean, tough, powerful, rock & roll, well-recorded, perfectly-composed. A bit "Stonesy" to my ears, the Truckers capture a sort of "Exile on Main Street" vibe. Love those guitars, mainly that classic Fender sound: Telecasters, Jazzmasters; Mike Cooley also plays custom Baxendale Guitars. Two extraordinary songwriters and vocalists: Patterson Hood & Mike Cooley.

Patterson Hood: “Probably 90 percent of everything we’ve recorded has been more or less live in the studio,” Hood says. “On this record, I think it’s almost 100 percent. There’s a couple of songs where I think we even used Cooley’s scratch vocal take. We might go in and redo the vocal or overdub a guitar track or two. We made this record in six days—that’s overdubs and everything..."

And what are they saying? They are conjuring the "fuck-up-ness" of our current American Moment. And it's fucking glorious.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Shooting Unarmed Protestors? I Am Against It!

Two peoples with deep, long-standing, legitimate claims on sacred land. A long history of blood, and terror & injustice on both sides. Our Little Baby Man President, and his Corrupt Nepotistic Spawn intentionally blunder into the middle of it all. Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem? Jerusalem, sacred to both peoples. Needless Provocation.  Shooting unarmed protestors? I am against it. Murdering a legless Palestinian hurling stones? I am against that too...
Alex Kane: "A reminder: Fadi Abu Saleh was killed by an army that receives 3.1 billion in US military aid paid for by US taxpayers. US laws prohibit the misuse of these weapons on unarmed protesters. But there's no accountability for Israel in the US."

Monday, May 14, 2018

We Need to Change the Narrative... Desperately...

The narrative: "A spoken or written account of connected events; a story." Need to change the narrative. Personally. Nationally. Politically. Socially. Culturally. And we must recognize that "everything is connected." So it's a wild, robust, overstuffed, multi-leveled, multi-faceted story, or maybe it's a multitude of interlocking, interconnected stories. Some come with a classic narrative arc, some are short and inconclusive, some are quite odd, experimental. There is sense and nonsense mixed up together.

The prevailing narrative is too disconcerting. We are all living a PSTD existence

"a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. It's normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about."

Right. That pretty much describes everyone I know. When do we all realize that we are ill? When do we all realize that we need help? Maybe this is the new normal? 

We tell each other everything is going to hell. Everything is getting worse. People are shits. They only care about money, and they are just trying to elbow their way past the next guy. Everyone is corrupt and rotten. And anyone with any spark of light or goodness will be crushed and turned. What's the point of hoping in the land of hopelessness?

That's the narrative we need to change. Desperately. We need some new stories. We need to unplug from the madness. We need to change the channel, or no, better yet, throw the fucking TV out the window.  We need to retreat to silence. Seek out new voices. Look for signs of intelligence in the Universe. The signs? The wonders? They are out there, or who knows, maybe in here... somewhere...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

It is Inside of All of Us!

Moral rot? Spiritual Corruption? A certain deadly meanness? Political polarization? Cynicism, sarcasm & hopelessness?


Depression is on the rise. The Kids are spinning out. Parents getting them on the meds just so they can get up in the morning and put their shoes on.

Our fellow Humans seem to have deep, culture-wide, "Soul Sickness." What's the solution? I'd say a strong pot of coffee, a good record on the box, a good book, quiet time, mediation, deep silence. Believing in believing... in something.

"To be and not to be..." That's the answer...We know. Deep inside. Just need to find that secret place of health - physical, mental, spiritual. It is inside all of us.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Long-Form Improvisation.

Things don't go according to plan? Concoct another plan. Improvise. Think of life as one "long-form improvisation." What are the rules of Improv?  "Say Yes and..." "Focus on the Here and Now," "Don't Block," "Be Specific," etc. Not bad advice for an interesting life. Entertaining.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Cultivate A Hopeless Kind of Hope.

Yes, well, if you cling to Hope: "Grounds for believing that something good may happen," your Hope is often dashed against the rocks like a soggy old coat. Your little pitiful Hope needs to be resilient. It is a little thing, a little spark inside you. And it is surrounded by a hostile, unforgiving reality.

Maybe we need a sort of "Hopeless Hope." Sort of Zen of Hope. Cultivate Hope, but don't expect much from it. If you cling too closely to Hope, a sense of Hopelessness is not far away. That good thing doesn't always come. Instead, you get a series of not so good things piling up. And then there are the really bad, unavoidable things that happen: Death, Loneliness, Disfiguring Accidents. 

How to encompass all that in your little sparking Empire of Hope? I don't rightly know. Try to live day to day. "Be Here Now." Lean to the light. Let Hope bubble up, but figure it will float away, be popped and pummeled by outrageous Fortune, and disappear just like any other nebulous, insubstantial bubble. 

Hope for another little bubble to bubble up. Not much to live on, but maybe that has to be enough.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

I Do Think I Know How This Ends...

I know way too much about the Russian Dupe in the White House story. I follow a hearty number of Journalists on Twitter and read all the major articles in the NY Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters, Business Insider, Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Talking Points Memo, Politico, Vox, Mother Jones. I am an avid fan of Juliette Kayyem on CNN and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.

I think I am way ahead on the story... over my skis... I am already at the part of the story where lots of prominent and not so prominent folks are frog-marched off to prison. I am at the end-stage of the saga where finally our Little Baby Man President has to face the music.

Yes, like I said, I am way ahead of the story... there is the slow, daily tick, tock... it's a bit maddening, very complicated, confusing... but really, when it comes down to it, it's a simple story. A group of very greedy, not very smart, but quite corrupt folks, sold their country and their integrity (some had little integrity to sell, but sold it they did), for $$$$$$$$$$$$. It's ugly. Very ugly. But basically simple. And simple-minded. So much the story of our time. No belief, except belief in the buck.

Can't wait for the big finish. The fireworks. I am ahead of the game, but I do think I know how this all ends...

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

To Think About, Imagine, and Talk About the Soul...

Some days the news is so disturbing, so troubling, so mystifying... 

...makes you want to stuff up your ears, blindfold yourself, put on a droopy hat, wrap a long black garment around your body, cross your heart, cross your fingers, and hum lullabyes to yourself.

One thing (among many) I learned from reading "Anam Cara," John O'Donohue's great book, was how to think about, imagine, and talk about "the Soul." We all have a soul. We all need a Anam Cara, a "Soul Friend" in order to have a fulfilled, meaningful life.

What's really cool... our Soul Friend can be our Soul...

And what is a Soul? A home. A place of deep solitude. A place of grace, beauty & innocence. It is where creativity and hope resides. The soul is bigger than our bodies. It engulfs and envelops us. It's like a bubble around us and it extends out to meet the Universe.

So, from time to time, it's good to sink into your Soul. To detach a bit from the world. To heal yourself with Silence, to heal yourself with the deep untouchable Solitude. It is where you go to be renewed & reborn. A place where you discover that Love, Hope, Peace, Grace, and Beauty reside deep inside you. An inexhaustiable resource. Thank You John O'Donohue for the language & the road map to figuring out how to imagine it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Big Man Syndrome - A Complicated Mess.

Let's call it "Big Man Syndrome." The Male Ego is a ridiculous dirigible. Easily inflated beyond all belief and rationality. Somewhere inside is a weak and needy little boy. Somewhere inside that prominent, lauded, successful & accomplished Big Man is an ominously dark thread.  We all know what happens to big, gaseous, over-inflated dirigibles. 

The Big Man can be found in every occupation. He comes in all flavors. He can be a Democrat or Republican, Liberal, Conservative. Doesn't matter. A Priest, a Prophet, a Politician, an Artist, a Coach, an ambitious State's Attorney. Admired. Showered with attention, rewards, riches. 

There is something seriously wrong of course. The champion of the abused, is an abuser. Shocking. Ugly. Not acceptable. This is the Human Thing, right? A complicated mess. We are all such contradictions. Capable of so much good & evil. Heaven & Hell. Angel/Devil. Within the Angel a dark streak. Within the Devil crystalline light.

Monday, May 07, 2018

The Story is Gonna Get Uglier...

Yes. I have a feeling the story of our current Little Baby Man President is actually gonna get uglier. Hard to believe right? So far, many of us have been disgusted and appalled, but there has also been quite a bit of laughter and amusement. He is such a clueless buffoon, it sort of insulates him. Okay, maybe he sold out the country to Putin, ok maybe he's a racist, ok maybe he's a sleaze-ball who has  had sex with lots of women, and he has paid off and intimidated them into silence over many years. Ok, maybe the man is self-absorbed, has a very dysfunctional relationship with the truth, lies constantly about things that are easily checked. I mean his isn't only a liar, he is a classic Bullshitter: "an act undertaken without any relationship to truth whatsoever." Ok. But running a "black-ops" operation against folks in the previous administration? Running a major money-laundering operation and swimming in cash over many years? Running his business like a Mob Operation? Ugly. Very, very ugly.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Yes, A Revelation...

The other Live record recently released that will blow your mind...

Bob Dylan's 'Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol 13/1979-1981."  I have the 2 CD version. Hard-hitting Gospel music delivered with power and passion. 

"The band was perhaps the greatest group of musicians Dylan ever toured with outside of the Band. It included organist Spooner Oldham, drummer Jim Keltner, bassist Tim Drummond, keyboardist Terry Young, guitarist Fred Tackett and five highly accomplished female backup vocalists. "On a musical level, he was singing amazing things," says Tackett. "He would sometimes do back-phrasing, meaning he would not come in at the beginning of the line in the song. He'd wait several beats and then he'd start singing and play catch up. I'd think to myself, 'He ain't gonna make it before we change chords!' But he would, man. It was almost this jazz-phrasing, improvisatory stuff. It
impressed me all the time."

I was one of those Dylan fans who was horrified when Dylan decided he was a "born-again Christian." It led to the question, "What the hell happened to Dylan?"

Now, all these many years later, knowing what we know about Dylan and the glorious records that came afterwards, these live recordings are a "revelation." I have found myself singing along to songs that I never thought I would be singing along to: "Ain't Going to Hell for Anybody,"  and "Man Gave Names to All the Animals."

All that Christian imagery no longer sounds appalling, it's actually all quite appealing. Dylan has worn many masks. I realize I have too.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Ramshackle R&R in all it's Glory!

Neil Young: “We had very recently lost [Crazy Horse member] Danny Whitten and our roadie Bruce Berry to heroin overdoses, so we were missing them and feeling them in the music every night as we played," Young writes in the liner notes. "Tonight’s the Night was sort of a wake. There was no overdubbing on those nine original songs. They were recorded live, with no clean up. For almost a month we recorded like that, starting around 11PM and playing into the early morning hours. Sometimes we had a small audience. Once Mel Brooks and a few friends came by.

“We drank a lot of tequila, and I wrote Tonight’s the Night’s songs somewhere around the beginning. We had nine songs and played them twice every night for a long time until we thought we had them. … We had finished recording and decided to celebrate with a gig at a new club opening on the Sunset Strip, the Roxy. We went there and recorded for a few nights, opening the Roxy. We really knew the Tonight’s the Night songs after playing them for a month, so we just played them again, the album, top to bottom, two sets a night for a few days. We had a great time.”

Oh man. One glimpse of this album cover brought a wave of joy to my humble being. My all-time favorite Neil Young record is "Tonight's the Night." It is a dark, raw, Stonesy record. Tight arrangements, glimmering little jewels of songs, recorded live in the studio, no overdubs, no "fixes."

This record from Neil Young's Archives project: "Roxy: Tonight's the Night Live,"  captures the band in 1973 at a newly opened club in L.A. - The Roxy, playing the songs from the "Tonight's the Night" album. It is Neil and the "Santa Monica Flyers" - the Crazy Horse rhythm section (Ralph Molina on drums, Billy Talbot on bass), with special guests Ben Keith, from FAME in Muscle Shoals, on Pedal Steel and Nils Lofgren, young guitar wunderkind on guitar and piano. Neil plays a Fender Telecaster. A rarity!

There are no extended jams. Neil's Telecaster is a completely different musical animal from "Old Black," his vintage, modified Les Paul guitar. Here Neil is concise, confident, focused. The band is so good - tight & loose, raw and refined. They know these songs well, but they are being shared with an audience for the first time, there is an edge, a exuberance, an unfettered beauty. R&R at it's ramshackle best.

"The faster you drink, the better we play..." - Neil Young

Friday, May 04, 2018

An Unfair Fight...

Beware the loud man pounding the table. Beware the man spinning wild tales, and cover stories. Beware the man who can't keep his stories straight from day to day. Beware the over the top 24/7 PR strategy. It is a cloud of unknowing. A dark, confounding, smoke-screen. It is not intended to enlighten you. Only to distract, confuse, and befuddle.

Pay attention to the quiet man. The man working slowly, meticulously, seriously. Gathering facts one by one. The one with the law, and a mountain of facts on his side.  The quiet man is doing the good work. And he won't be swayed by the PR, the buzz, the bullshit.

There is a war going on. But it is an unfair fight. A fight on two totally different levels. If you are a smart observer you won't let the tale of "sound and fury" overwhelm your senses. There are some cold, hard facts to be gleaned. There is a story to be told; complex, many characters, lots of differing motivations, but at the core, it is simple; greed, hubris, bad acts, irresponsible, reprehensible behavior, and when all comes out in the light of day, things will be clear.

And then the reckoning, the healing, can begin.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

"Stupid Russian Watergate" with a Side Helping of "Stormy!"

Woodward & Berstein watching Richard Nixon Implode on National TV 1973.

Some of us are calling our current Constitutional Crisis, "Stupid Russian Watergate." So many resonances with the Watergate Scandal in the early 70's. Corrupt and Venal President, facing down the Department of Justice, Committing Crimes, Covering Up Crimes, Intrepid Reporters digging for the Truth. The Truth bringing a Powerful Man Down.

Of course, "Stupid Russian Watergate" is the stupid iteration of the narrative. Nixon was a smart, crafty, seasoned Politician, with a tight-knit team (Haldeman, Erlichman), around him, willing to take a bullet for the man. Little Baby Man... not so much. Think a fool, a clown, a blustering fat man, who has spent most of his adult years bullshitting everyone within earshot, surrounded by craven, boot-lickers with no loyalty or integrity, just obsequious toadies, looking to scam some $.

This time around we have major crimes and misdemeanors in a couple of key areas: Money Laundering, Conspiring to Defraud the USA, Conspiring with a Hostile Foreign Power, Being an Agent of Influence with a Hostile Foreign Power, Seeking Assistance from the Hostile Foreign Power to Sway/Steal an Election.


Major Campaign Violations: Paying Hush Money to a Porn Star (and no doubt other women too), to prevent the truth to be known before an election. Whoo Boy! "Stupid Russian Watergate" has it's own "Stormy" subplot.  I'd say Little Baby Man is in a heap of trouble. Let it come down!

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

"The Healthiest Individual Ever Elected to the Presidency!"

When Dr. Harold Bornstein described in hyperbolic prose then-candidate Donald Trump's health in 2015, the language he used was eerily similar to the style preferred by his patient. It turns out the patient himself wrote it, according to Bornstein. "He dictated that whole letter. I didn't write that letter," Bornstein told CNN on Tuesday. "I just made it up as I went along."

"His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary," he crowed in the letter, which was released by Trump's campaign in December 2015. "If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."

We have entered the Gong Show Stage of our Democracy. "An amateur talent contest" with the amateur occupying the most powerful job in the land. This particular amateur, is clearly talentless. OK. Maybe not talentless. This particular amateur, Little Baby Man, has one extraordinary superpower - the ability to lie with unembarrassed impunity.

Even his personal physician finally admits it was a ridiculous charade: "That's black humor, that letter. That's my sense of humor," he said. "It's like the movie 'Fargo': It takes the truth and moves it in a different direction."

For most of us, that is not easy to do. You know, most of us cannot lie about everything, anything; we can't stand up in front of other folks and say things that are easily & quickly refuted. The Average Joe is left with the question: "Why would he lie about that? Who does he think he's fooling?"  

So it's a talent all right. But it's basically useless. I mean, this can only bring us to a Constitutional Crisis of mega magnitude. The Gong is ringing. Madly. Time to get that clown off the stage. But of course, this particular amateur is making noises that he will not go easily.

Robert Mueller the 3rd, III, "Bobby Three Sticks" is on the case. Relentless. Like that shark in "Jaws." I do think as Garrett Graff, who wrote a book on Mueller gets it right (a must-read article in Wired): "Robert Mueller Likely Knows How This All Ends."

1. Mueller always knows more than we think. 
2. Mueller is building a bulletproof case.
3. There are more loose threads than ever.
4. We still don’t know the biggest, most important evidence.
5. Mueller likely already knows how this story ends.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

My Eyes and My Heart and My Head...

I used to want to be a "wise guy." I was always naturally a skeptic - not easily convinced, and a cynic a person who believes that people are only motivated purely by self-interest. A bit sarcastic - marked by or given to using irony in order to mock or convey contempt.

Sort of smart aleck, or you know,  kind of a smirking, all-knowing, always doubting, asshole. Everyone I hung out with, and admired, were those kind of people too. 

I don't know, maybe it was always an act. A defense mechanism - an often unconscious mental process (such as repression) that makes possible compromise solutions to personal problems. A way to protect myself, a way to not to get destroyed by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

I'm not that way anymore. Or at least it is no longer my "go-to" approach. The years have not embittered me, but instead softened me, opened me, made me much less cynical, sarcastic or skeptical. As Dylan once sang "I was so much older than, I'm younger than that now."

I am more prone to say "I don't know," about lots of things. I no longer pretend to be an expert. I am often in a state of wonder, and awe, about life; the mystery of it, the glory of it, the pain of it, the grand unknowingness of it all.

I cling to Hope. And believing. Believing in believing. Believing in what? A better day. That sometimes things do work out. That people are not just motivated by self-interest. That there is Grace and Love and Joy, along with the Pain, Loss, and Death.

I am less of wise guy, more of a Fool... a bit of a Forest Gump. I am willing to "give the benefit of the doubt," willing to be a bit naive, and hoping to dig deep for the innocence deep in the inner recesses of my heart and soul. Yes, I believe in Soul, although really I have no clue what it is, can't put my finger on it or bring out into the light of day.

I feel a bit out of step with the times now. Not as with it. But I do think I see clearly. My eyes and my heart and my head are open, willing to take in the wonder and horror of the day.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Sometimes the Truth Hurts...

Hey I'm on the side of the comedian, Michelle Wolf, who skewered, and eviscerated Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the current Presidential Administration at the White House Correspondents dinner over the weekend. It wasn't exactly hilarious, but her comments did seem pretty spot-on. I did not see or read her whole monologue, but I saw excerpts and her bit seemed like one of those classic, cringe-inducing "Roasts" that Dean Martin, (remember him?), used to host just for the alcohol-fueled hell of it.

Maybe sort of mean, but hell, it all seems like a pretty "truthful" monologue. Speaking truth to power, right? The truth. It's not polite. It's sometimes not nice. Often it stings. Sarah Huckabee Sanders gets up in front of the Press on a daily basis and lies and obscures with the best of the great Political Disinformationists, and Propagandists.

Michelle Wolf:

“Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited. I’m not really sure what we’re going to get, you know? A press briefing, a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams. ‘It’s shirts and skins, and this time don’t be such a little bitch, Jim Acosta. I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. But she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smokey eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.”


“I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Is it Sarah Sanders, is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is it Cousin Huckabee, is it Aunt Huckabee Sanders? What’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Ah I Know, Aunt Coulter.”

The response to the monologue was a little mini-tempest of laughter and outrage. A mini-kerfuffle. According to conservative lobbyist Matt Schlapp: “Journalists should not be the ones to say that the president or his spokesperson is lying.”

Of course, conservatives like Matt Schlapp are part of the great unhinged political moment. They don't want us to listen to Scientists, especially if they tell us the planet is heating up from Carbon Dioxide, and they don't want journalists to point out when a politician and his minions are spouting lies. I would say, contrary to Schlapp, that truth-telling, and calling out the lies, is exactly what we expect journalists and comedians, and scientists to do.

I will give Rob Reiner, director of "Spinal Tap," and the most famous 70's "Meathead" the last word: "I attended the WHCD last night. Donald Trump has so poisoned the atmosphere by attacking the disabled, gold star parents, Muslims, Mexicans, Blacks, women, the press, the rule of law that a comedian who simply tells the truth is offensive? She’s joking. He’s not."

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Free, Like the Birds and Bees...

This morning I go to the Great Google and ask "Where did money come from?" I get this, the "History of Money." I start to read it, but then, you know, I don't really care. I mean, my heart is just not into it. Bartering. Accounting. Tallying. Medium of Exchange. Yikes. Whatever.

I don't really care about money. Some times I've had it. Some times not. I'm"not good with money." There have times in my life when the money flowed to me fairly easily. And other times when I could hardly squeeze out a dime. I've had money in the bank, and also scraped along, living on smoke and mirrors.

My people didn't come from money. Our family never had wealth to hand down through the ages. I am not stingy, or a good saver, I'm not prudent. I think of money as just another energy. And not that important to me, except, of course, I want to make the rent, have enough for food and to spend on things I want to spend on.

I am not extravagant. I don't crave luxury. I don't use money as an ego-burnisher. I don't think it's what makes the world go round. Instead, I'd vote for love, art, music, poetry, creativity, compassion, empathy, heart, beauty. I do think the best things in life are free.  Just like the birds and bees.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Buck, Our True Religion!

This extraordinary construction - sculpture, photo-collage &  haunting visual creation, is from the incomparable, unsinkable artist, Michael Doubrava. I think of it as a visual ode to "Mammon:" Chaldee or Syriac word meaning "wealth" or "riches" ( Luke 16:9-11 ); also, by personification, the god of riches ( Matthew 6:24 ; Luke 16:9-11 ).

That early Christian, Timothy 6:10 (King James Bible) tells us that "Love of Money is the Root of All Evil." If only Timothy were around today. 

I mean, SHITE, he had no idea. What if you have a whole culture, a species, a planet, fall wildly, madly, deeply in love with the Almighty Buck? A species hypnotized by dollar signs? $$$. A species so hypnotized they don't even realize how they subsume everything - life, love, liberty, beauty, everything we do, say and think, to abject adulation of cold, hard, cash.  What would that look like?

You might have a planet of needing, wanting, grasping beyond your wildest, darkest, imaginings. Burning up the fossil fuels, using $$ to fuel & fire every last whim and addiction. Using the Buck to beat our fellow human beings into senseless submission.

What happens when a species comes to believe that all should bow down and worship the Great Almighty Buck? What happens then?

Friday, April 27, 2018

"Wealth Determines Consciousness, Alas." - Tariq Ali

A quote from the 1960's. I think Tariq Ali was saying that $ stick with $. I suppose sometimes it's true, sometimes not. That particular quote came out of a discussion of the Rolling Stones "Street Fighting Man," and Mick Jagger's political consciousness back in 1968.

Can we transcend the influence of $? When, for instance, Kanye West on Twitter tells us he "loves" Donald Trump, that they are "brothers," and they share "Dragon Energy," do we think it's just one Wealthy Kook embracing another Wealthy Kook? Or is it obviously a  case of two sort of whack, extraordinary self-promoters who have much more in common than we all realized?

Kanye West: "I am Picasso. I’m Walt Disney, I’m Steve Jobs.”

Trump: "With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that's ever held this office."

Two rich guys. Bonded by stocks and bonds? Bonded by overconfidence, massive ego, ostentatious displays, delusions of grandeur, married to Stepford-like wives, constantly displaying Tourettes-like behavior on Twitter, TV and stages across the land. Yeah, so maybe the accumulation of $ is just one of the things these guys have in common.

Kanye & Trump, the Ebony and Ivory of our cultural/political/social zeitgeist & sickness...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Nobody's Fault But Mine!

Wake up speaking Latin (see previous post), and really, well, I don't speak Latin. I mean, in some ways speaking Latin would sort of be like "speaking in tongues," or speaking in dead languages. It did set the tone for the day.  I walked around thinking "through my own fault." It was my mantra for the day. It also sent me into a mental tailspin. 

You think you know yourself. You think you "know where you're coming from," but maybe not really. My brain was formed, marinated, or pickled in Catholic grade school. I remember my Grandmother saying her prayers, ticking through her rosary. I am sure I heard her whispering "Mea Culpa" somewhere in the distant past. Makes me think I'm still much more "Catholic" than I think. Even though I have lived much more in a Zen/Pagan way.

Why would that phrase percolate up? Why would that phrase be on my lips? What kind of wacky, disturbing dreams would lead me to such a state? Who knows? Can't conjure it all up. So this morning, I'm back to it, looking up "Mea Culpa," maybe there is an answer to be found.

"The phrase originates in the Confiteor which is a part of the Catholic Mass where sinners acknowledge their failings before God. Confiteor translates as 'I confess'. It has a long history of use in English and was used by Chaucer in his Troylusas early as 1374:

"Now, mea culpa, lord! I me repente."

To emphasize the point the phrase is sometimes strengthened to 'mea maxima culpa' - literally 'my most grievous fault'. This also has longstanding use, as here in Watson's Decacordon, 1604:

"Shall lay their hands a little heavier on their hearts with Mea maxima culpa."

The Confiteor uses both 'mea culpa' and 'mea maxima culpa'. 

In Latin:
Confiteor Deo omnipotenti,
beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini,
beato Michæli Archangelo,
beato Ioanni Baptistæ,
sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo,
omnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres (et tibi pater),
quia peccavi
nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere:
mea culpa,
mea culpa,
mea maxima culpa.
Ideo precor beatam Mariam
semper Virginem,
beatum Michælem Archangelum,
beatum Ioannem Baptistam,
sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum,
omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres (et te, pater),
orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.

... and in English:

I confess to Almighty God,
to blessed Mary ever Virgin,
to blessed Michael, the Archangel,
to blessed John the Baptist,
to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul,
to all the Saints and to you, brothers (and to you Father),
that I have sinned exceedingly,
in thought, word and deed:
through my fault,
through my fault,
through my most grievous fault.
Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary,
ever Virgin,
blessed Michael the Archangel,
blessed John the Baptist,
the holy Apostles Peter and Paul,
all the Saints, and you, Father,
to pray to the Lord our God for me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I Do Understand!

Yes. Sleep well. Sleep long and hard. Wake up knowing you visited distant lands. You spoke with noble souls. Grand events transpired. You can recall nothing. Except...

The words on my lips upon awakening? "Mea Culpa!" Latin. I actually spoke the words out loud as I got up from the bed. Literally "through my own fault." Right. OK. I don't know, but I do understand.

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