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Friday, August 18, 2017

From Tears to Curse Words in 10 Minutes!

Admittedly, I'm a little unsteady this morning. Up late, up early. A bad combo for me. I flick on the radio (why?) and I listen to an African American Woman describe an episode of casual racism that she experienced at the tender age of 5 years old.  I sit listening to her story, and the flood of unbidden tears pour out. Tears fall like a summer rain.

Moments later I hear that the Evangelical Community is still sticking with our Abomination of a President. WTF? How is it possible? How can these supposedly "religious folk" swallow the bile, the hatred, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the selfishness, childishness, and blow-hard bullying?

If you stand with the man, you stand for absolutely nothing. Nothing Evangelical or religious about it. I am fuming. Sputtering with anger. Like I said, WTF?!

From tears to curse words in less than 10 minutes.  Good morning!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Test of Character - He's Failed!

Character. Remember how we've talked of character? "The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual."

People would tell us, "character matters." Usually the Moralists among us. A Moralist: "a person who tries to force or teach other people to behave in ways he or she considers to be most correct and honest."

Put a person in a position of Authority. Or put a person under stress. And watch what they do. How they act. What they say. This will tip you to their character.

The history of theater is based on this little game. The history of History too.

One reason we love Democracy. It spreads the power and authority around. Doesn't give one person all the power. Supposedly, if Democracy is working correctly, it is the people who cast their votes who have the ultimate power. At least that's the theory. Doesn't always work that way. 

But anyway, spreading the power around is sort of a safety valve. Think of a situation of concentrated power and you think of Despots, Mad Kings, Genocide, Crazy Wars.

Charlottesville has revealed the character of the current President. The curtain has been lifted. What is underneath that blustery, pile of bilious fat is ugly. Very, very, ugly. It was an event that "tested his character," and he failed, miserably, spectacularly.

Time for the safety valve to kick on. Big time.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How Low Can He Go?

How low can he go? Pretty damn low. I mean, yes, I had very low expectations for this President. But he has certainly exceeded them. By miles.

I would think siding with White Supremacists, the KKK and Ne-Nazis is pretty much rock-bottom. How do you top that? How much more cretinous can he get? I suppose we all shall soon see.

You would think it would be easy to choose sides. As Joe Biden said, "There is only one side." The side against racism, bigotry, etc. But not for this man. His core support is made up of the worst of the worst. He just can't condemn them, cannot separate himself from them, because he is of them.

Remember "the Greatest Generation?" They fought the Nazis. They liberated France. They sacrificed, they died, and they saved the Free World. 

Remember "Raiders of the Lost Ark?" Remember all those movies? Whenever Hollywood has needed a bad guy, they have rolled out the Nazis.

Nazis are bad. Really, really, really bad. Against everything America stands for. Our President is out of step with America. It's appalling. Bewildering. Despicable.

Josh Marshall points out the obvious:

"With Trump, he has a revanchist racist politics because he is a revanchist racist. Once you accept that, a lot falls into place. All the heroic and increasingly nonsensical perambulations of misunderstandings, inexperience, missed opportunities, stubbornness and all the rest are not needed. It all falls into place.

What we have in this Times article is the more direct evidence, a confirmation of what we should already know. His advisors know this is what he thinks. They apparently hear it frequently. They were shocked to here him say in public “opinions that the president had long expressed in private.”

I do think he is beginning to bring Americans together. Democrats and Republicans. Americans from all walks of life. This is not acceptable. This man is an abomination. How low will he go?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Fundamental Stuff is Really, Really Difficult.

I do think as a human being you spend lots of your time trying to figure things out that can't be figured. Or solve things that can't be solved. That doesn't mean you stop trying. But over time you begin to realize there are limits to what you can do, what you can know, what you can figure out.

There are mysteries in the world. And the fundamental stuff is really, really difficult. And maybe the answers we are looking for don't really exist.

Why are we here? Why is there evil in the world? What is wrong with me? And what is wrong with my fellow human beings? Where are we going? Is there some end-game or purpose?

Maybe we only get to ask the questions. Maybe the question is the answer. Maybe. Maybe. That's the kind of Zen conundrum that those Monks are always floating by us. And maybe the answer is a question and not really an answer at all. And maybe we just have to live with that. As best we can. Maybe.

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's Actually Pathology!

Yeah, the more I think of it, the more it seems so obvious. This "White Supremacy"  thing is actually pathology. We don't think or talk of it that way. We talk about it as a political philosophy, a movement. We give it more credence, and credibility than it deserves.

It's not normal behavior. It's not normal thinking. It is sickness, pathology. Those white folks with torches, KKK costumes, screaming their bile, and their unmitigated hatred, are not healthy human beings.

They are sick in the head. They need help. We think it's just ignorance, but I think it's a determined ignorance. Ignorance as a choice. These folks do not have healthy minds. They need therapy. 

I'd recommend, talk therapy. I'd recommend meditation. I'd recommend a better diet. And a more expansive reading list. I guess, we are left with the conundrum, how do we uplift a blighted mind? A mind is a terrible thing to waste...

Sunday, August 13, 2017

No Superiority!

A true leader. An example for us all. There is light to be found in the midst of the darkness... yes, there is...

I come from a long line of dead white people. I am a mixture of Polish, Irish, German, French, British, and Russian or Serbian, or whatever. Pretty much a mongrel. White. Pretty damn white.

I just don't get it. 

I don't get Racism. I don't get White Nationalism. I don't think one race is better than another. I don't think America is a fundamentally "white nation." I don't think we should keep people separate from each other. 

Do I have any prejudices, any latent racism in me at all? I don't know. I am a human being. Not perfect. If I do have any prejudices, I try to suppress them, bury them, fight against them, because I know prejudice and racism is just ignorance. I am against ignorance!

No superiority. 

I subscribe to the Dalai Lama's fundamental idea: "We are all Human Beings first!" All the same. Every one of us on the planet. Race, Nation, Tribe, these things confuse us, fundamentally, they don't really, really matter. We are all Human. 

Being human isn't easy. We are easily confused. We are ignorant of our ignorance. So yes, even those people spouting hatred, preaching nationalism & racism, are human beings. I think they are wrong, deluded, filled with ignorance, they have a misguided view of the world and themselves. Maybe they are sick, have "damaged psyches?" Maybe we should think of them as people who need help, who need therapy?

The hope is that people can wake up, and realize what they thought they knew is not what is. We have to hope that people can educate themselves, and learn to be better beings. We are all just "works in progress..."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

There Lies Madness.

There lies madness...

Anyone talking about nuclear war, anyone making threats, anyone promising devastation for a country, a city, a people, there lies madness, nihilism.

Hiroshima. Does anyone remember? Does anyone really, really, want to go there? What kind of species are we? How can we put such devastating power in the hands of such obviously over-matched leaders?

Bluster. Arrogance. Ignorance. Madness. There lies madness.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Can You Impeach a President for Being an Asshole?!

Can you impeach a President for being an Asshole? Probably not. I haven't reviewed the Constitution lately, but I don't think there's a clause or a sub-clause that states: "And then the people can demand impeachment, when the President clearly demonstrates that he is a world-class, unmitigated Asshole."

So, unfortunately, we have to live with this guy for awhile longer. We actually have to be patient, and wait for the Special Counsel to come up with something juicy. 

While we wait, we have to watch this guy kowtow to Putin. It's wince-inducing, stomach-turning. It's like watching someone being beaten with a stick. And what's the poor, sick, twisted response from the guy being beaten: "Thank You Sir, can I have another!" And we all have to witness it. It's so ugly, sordid. Creepy.

Icky too! But a Russian Dupe will do what a Russian Dupe does. Isn't that some kind of folk wisdom?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

30 Years Later...

I didn't know... 

I wrote about Morrissey and the Smiths (see recent previous posts), on my own timeline, out of time, out of the blue. I just finished Morrissey's Autobiography and ordered up Johnny Rogan's "Morrissey & Marr - The Severed Alliance," because of my own private obsession.

Little did I know that I would be in tune with Mark Simpson, who writes about the Smiths in the latest Rolling Stone... 30 years since the Smith's breakup. And according to Mark we should be happy the Smiths broke up when they did, and happy they have never gotten back together.

I think I agree. 

Their career seems perfectly preserved in aspic. Kind of like one of those extraordinary butterflies preserved under glass. But spin the discs and it all comes alive again. And Mark Simpson, who wrote a gloriously cool and funny and brilliant book about Morrissey called "Saint Morrissey," tell us there are only three questions you need to ask about the Smiths...

"Do you have any taste? Do you have a heart? And do you have a sense of humor?"

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Pretty Alarming!

You don't want to be an alarmist... What is an alarmist... ? "A person who tends to raise alarms, especially without sufficient reason, as by exaggerating dangers or prophesying calamities."

How about when alarms are ringing out from all corners? "Hey is that an alarm ringing?" "Is all holy hell about to break loose?"

What if two Tin-Pot Strongmen, two Cartoon Tough-Guys, two men who have an estranged relationship with truth, honesty, and clear-seeing, two Malevolent Clowns with access to nuclear weapons, start hurling threats at each other?


One declares "Fire and Fury," the other shouts "Sea of Fire!" Unimaginable. Terrible. Horrible. Is some kind of nuclear war in our future?

Holy, holy shite... one can only hope cooler heads (Are there any cooler heads out there?), can be found to talk us all out of this pretty freaking scary idea...

What happens when the people in charge are more ignorant, more crazy, more irrational & impulsive than you? Who do you appeal to? What gods do you start praying to? What alarms do you set off, and who do you hope hears them?

P.S. - Kevin Drum sort of talks me off the ledge...

"I don’t think that will happen either. Kim Jong-un isn’t crazy, he just likes to act that way. He’s probably completely rational, in the same murderous kind of way that Josef Stalin was. He might bluster like Trump, but he knows perfectly well that any war involving the United States would end with the obliteration of his country.

All that said, this represents one of the reasons that Trump is so much worse than garden variety Republicans. With, say, Ted Cruz in office, I think there’s a 0 percent chance of nuclear war. With Trump in office there’s a 1 percent chance. That’s not much, but it’s 1 percent more than I’d like."

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Everything. Essential.

Of course, if you speak of Morrissey, (see previous post), you inevitably must also speak of his collaborators... 

Boz Boorer and Alan Whyte and Mick Ronson are key figures in the Morrissey solo years.

And, of course, Johnny Marr  is the guitar wunderkind of The Smiths years. An amazing, musical genius. Morrissey's perfect complement. Not only an incomparable guitar wizard, but a fabulous music-maker. He thought of himself as a Phil Spector-like maestro, wielding shimmering, incandescent guitar arpeggios with perfectly-composed abandon. Layered Pop Confections. A rich sonic palette of awe and wonder. 

You must listen closely. The more you listen, the more you hear. You have to live with The Smiths for a long time to really take it all in. They never really made a false move, musically, artistically. And once you really get it, once you sink into their world, you can't let go. You must own everything they ever recorded. Yes, you must. The albums, the singles, the live tracks. Everything from the first to the last.

Everything. Essential.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Morrissey. What to Say?

Morrissey. What to say? Maybe the finest lyricist in the English language? I recently finished reading his Autobiography. I thought it was some kind of masterpiece. I actually, immediately, went back to the beginning and started reading again.

It reads like Dickens, with a dash of Poe.

How many Pop/R&R Singers have ever been so well read?

Think. What if Oscar Wilde, James Dean, and Sandie Shaw had a baby? You might get something like Morrissey. A very unique human being.

Morrissey is smarter than you. Funnier. More opinionated. More sensitive. He knows more and feels more, which is a deadly combination. Puts lots of people off. But if you decide to go along with him, the payoff is immense. Morrissey puts it all into his art. He is known as being a "difficult" artist. For sure. Probably so. He is guided by an incredible intelligence, he possesses the soul of a poet, he is a song and dance man extraordinaire, and he comes across as completely, fiercely uncompromising.

A rare bird. He and his music, both as a solo artist and lead singer of The Smiths, is quite exquisite. The finest stuff. Once you are bitten by the Morrissey thing, there is no going back. One can easily fall in love, become obsessed, get totally lost in his world. It's not exactly a healthy obsession. Morrissey will go anywhere his muse takes him, to fully appreciate him, you must go with him, no questions asked. 

There is nothing quite like Morrissey to be found anywhere else. Highly recommended. But be forewarned. You will never be the same again.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Did I...?

Did I really hear this? "Life grows longer, thought grows shorter. Not a good development."

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Bruce & Bats!


One night, I dream that Bruce Springsteen, a young mid-70's version, came to talk about songwriting. He gave some me encouragement too.

Another night, I have a dream that a bat bit me. I got bit by a bat! What the hell is going on in my dream world?

The Bruce dream sat well, the bat dream not so well. 

I take to the internet and look for answers about that bat. I read all kinds of conflicting interpretations. Some of it seems pretty damn ominous...

I decide to go with the Chinese interpretation. The Chinese seem to look kindly on bats. I am desperate for good news. You pick the omens you like, right?! 

"Chinese admiration for bats began thousands of years before Christ. Sometimes people view the Oriental world as an interplay between active and passive forces (male and female). Bats were thought to embody the male principle while the flowers and fruits are the female. These creatures was also often displayed with the peach, a popular female fertility symbol. The peaches, being one of man’s favorite fruits were first cultivated in China about 5,000 years ago. Before that, these fruits relied on bats for dispersal of their seeds. In the Manchu period, bats were very popular and used everywhere. They were painted onto vases and walls, worn on the robes of the emperors and carved into furniture and thrones."

"Bat also came to represent longevity and happiness, so it is an auspicious symbol in Chinese culture."

Friday, August 04, 2017

Be Smart!

Vox gives us a nice "explainer" about the Mueller/FBI/Trump/Russia/Dupe in the White House/Collusion Story. I know, it's not as catchy as "Watergate," but it looks like the political scandal of our time. You should read up on it and know what's going down. Be smart. Impress your friends & neighbors at cocktail parties and backyard barbecues!

I think of my own life - bounded by political scandal - as a Wee Lad it was the Summer of Watergate, 1973 - and now in Adulthood, it's the Russia Dupe in the White House story! Pretty wild.

Yesterday, pretty big news - Mueller has convened a Grand Jury. That usually indicates criminal charges are likely! I have been way ahead of this story. I already imagine seeing the Authorities frog-marching the Malevolent Idiot out of the White House in cuffs. But, really, that is a distant possibility, and who knows where this all really goes?

Get the popcorn. Interesting times. History in the making. Wouldn't it just be so sweet if the Rule of Law and Justice, and a Free Press came to save the nation from ruin? Yes, it surely would.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

He Knows, That We Know, That He Knows What He is Saying is Total Bullshit, But He Just Doesn't Care...

Yes, I am working under the somewhat informed premise that the guy in the White House is guilty as sin of a multitude of serious crimes. So all the bluster, lying and bullshit sort makes sense. He is hiding something. Lots of somethings. He also appears to be a pathological liar: "a person who tells lies frequently, with no rational motive for doing so," but I also  kind of get the idea that he actually lies constantly because he wants us all to believe the world is what he wants us to believe it is. It's kind of power thing too. A sick power thing. Kind of out of the Stalinesque/Authoritarian playbook. He knows, that we know, that what he is saying is total bullshit, but he will insist this bullshit is not bullshit. And if he sticks to his bullshit, or changes his line of bullshit on a dime, maybe we will finally get tired of the game and give up? I guess, also, maybe he's so sick he actually truly believes all his own lies. He believes whatever pops into his head. Even though the next lie  contradicts the previous one. Whew.  How to keep up with all the lying? And, of course, uncomprehendingly, some of his followers just fall in line... ok, maybe he's right, maybe 2+2 does = 5?! Sure. Yeah. Right. Why not?! At least he's not Hillary!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Patti's Good Buddy...

An existential wobble. Something happens, and everything sort of tilts, or maybe it's sort of like a flash of lightening cutting through the tear in the fabric of everything. And your life just wobbles. That's how it felt when I heard (see previous post), Patti's good buddy had passed.

Patti Smith writes about Sam in the New Yorker. 

"A long time ago, Sam sent me a letter. A long one, where he told me of a dream that he had hoped would never end. “He dreams of horses,” I told the lion. “Fix it for him, will you? Have Big Red waiting for him, a true champion. He won’t need a saddle, he won’t need anything.” I headed to the French border, a crescent moon rising in the black sky. I said goodbye to my buddy, calling to him, in the dead of night." - Patti Smith

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Sam Shepard - Force of Nature.

I'm thinking of artists who have influenced me, there are a handful that have changed my life, no doubt. Some of them are still around. Sam Shepard was a force of nature who inspired me on so many levels, an influence on everything I've ever done in performance, theater, music, life... 

Actor, Writer, Director, Playwright, Musician. I think of him in Terrance Malick's great "Days of Heaven." I think of him in Dylan's "Rolling Thunder Revue." I think of him collaborating with Patti Smith on "Cowboy Mouth."

So many great plays. A multi-colored lava-flow of stream of consciousness & wonder. A deep, in the bone American language. I saw many of his plays performed live by some of the great actors of our time: John Malkovich, Gary Sinise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, Michael Shannon, Rich Cotovsky, Guy Swearingen, William Peterson.

I read the short stories. I read the short plays, the long plays, the brief poetic flights. I saw "The Right Stuff." 

I wrote plays totally inspired by his language. His sensibility. He inspired me in the way I approached all of my creative work. Reading his short plays totally opened the door for me. I thought, "I can do this too!"

Hearing of his passing was a total gut punch. Sent me reeling. Rent the fabric of my being. A loss. Bone-deep. A part of me taken too. It is not the same world to know that he is gone. 

We learn people come and go. It happens every day. We never get used to it. It's is always a surprise. There is always an unresolved sadness.

Rest in peace Sam... 1943-2017.

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