Popular Vote Total

Bay Bridge old

Mind the Gap

57,434,253 citizens voted for Democrats. 49,594,066 people voted for Republicans. There were 9,840,187 more votes for Democrats than Republicans. This is a 7.2% difference.

We’ve heard what promises were made, what lies were told, what people would do if they won. We want preexisting conditions covered by health insurance companies. We want Social Security and Medicare protected and improved. We want a check on the White House.

Almost 60 million people voted for hope and change. Ten million more people than voted for what the other side had on offer. We won and now it is time for us to lead. The climate isn’t going to play nice and wait.

 

 

 

 

 

Micro Mini Street Riff

 

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Stopping for Nothing

Buskers have to keep the experience growing. An audience will notice this increase. Success depends upon demonstrating that the performance is getting better right before their eyes. Emotions intensify, the number of people watching is larger, a trustable decorum arises, we can laugh, we become more and more confident that this is worth the time and that waiting to see what happens at the end, the unexpected surprise will be worth being interrupted. Buskers start with nothing, then like that appears something that is perishable, delicate, barely existent, an audience can see from out of the blue there is an accumulating phantom energy and it is getting bigger. The pace begins at tempo, rhythm is steady, this is boilerplate, comedy is timing, starting at one rate and speeding up to the final rate, a show nearing a finale moves quicker. That was good but this next bits even better. A street show can’t go back. Get off on the right foot then you’ll run without losing your breath to an emotional summit that will motivate an audience to come forward after your best trick and drop a tip into the hat.

Edited Red Star

Spaceship Earth Protector

Arms and Feet

Democratic Party: 44.9 million votes Republican Party: 32.9 million votes

There was a lot on last nights ballot and nothing was more important than taking back the House.

About my Spaceship Earth Protector Credentials. I am an artist. I’m a creative. I was a success. I bought houses, had kids, got married-divorced-married, I’ve made money, spent money, had cars and have had headaches. Same as millions of other spouses out there I  love my wife.

Maybe you’re unclear about how it feels to watch a Republican majority get their can of whoop-ass out and kick the living daylights out of the National Endowment for the Arts? Maybe insincere budget cutting hysterics doesn’t bother you. You see zeroing me out makes me want to zero you out. People don’t roll over in Tombstone and Californian’s from Oakland do not play possum with anti-government libertarian program bashers.

Now about the crown jewels of our democracy. Social Security needs to have its cap on taxable income raised. We need more revenue not less. Medicare works fine Medicare for All would work better. Private health insurance is an insurance program to nowhere. Pre-existing conditions and bankruptcy need to be eradicated from this earth same as stubbornness or willful stupidity.

Want more? Let’s follow Seattle’s lead and raise the minimum wage. I’m zeroing out objections until the minority that votes to keep the working stiffs pinned down as paupers read the University of Washington study just published. I’ll summarize for those who missed the real news. Seattle’s economy has never employed more people, never started more successful new businesses. Never!!!! Transactional relationships don’t have to be an authoritarian head trip fake out. We can actually lift all boats!

Water Poster

Agriculture Wants All the Water

You’ll find me afterhours dancing until dawn with my wife at the local Vegan Speak-Easy. I’m getting hammered on hibiscus tea celebrating the one hundred plus women heading to Washington to slap some sense into the heads of the men that voted to strip access to women’s-reproductive-health-care. If we are going to defund anything it is the freaking subsidies for the oil industry. Any tax cuts for the middle class must be paid for by tax increases on corporations. We have way too many stingy capitalists. Put those white collar criminals in jail and let the pot smokers out.

We’re going to need to get the Chamber of Commerce to seek forgiveness for their mischief. Much has been made of our immigration crisis and much less would have been made of this had we insisted every employer verify their workers citizenship. No proof then no work. That simple. If the employer cheats they get deported. End of story. We don’t need no stinking wall. Chamber of Commerce lobbied against this. People we are a nation of immigrants! Come on we can get this right.

goldfish pond

Islands in the Sky, Sidewalks Brimming with Fish

First of all, last of all, and most import of all we need to get to work on the world’s existentially most urgent crisis. No more time to waste trying to curry favor from a Crown Prince MBS of Saudi Arabia who prefers chopping his critics into little disposable pieces. Barbarism isn’t policy.

We keep the eye on the prize. That eye and that prize will be doing something every single day about halting the rise of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Climate change can be addressed but the threat it poses to humanity, this very real threat cannot be ignored. The problem isn’t going away, and a hotter world won’t suddenly make nice, but it will provide chaos, crisis and a stinking unfixable hot mess.

Let’s get all those fine women to the House and let’s go!

Edited Red Star

 

Code of Street Performing Conduct

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Love Your Audience

There is no getting off the road, there are no breaks— you can’t undo what you’ve bet your life on. One of the hardest hand to mouth games ever invented in this world of hard knocks is busking full time. No contracts, no off site gigs, just pure hat and more hat shows. You do so many you’re at risk of drowning in a sea of nickels, dimes and quarters.

To take the edge off, to stand just that much further from the abyss some acts blend the footloose street show with the paid for hire show’s. For the sake of profit and efficiency contracts and appearances need to be packed tight. A good act is infused with an evangelical enthusiasm. The paid gig, as sweet as that payday might be, is never more than a prayer and a hope whereas a first class street pitch opens the door to pure worshipping at the altar of the almighty unseen mystery and miracle. It is not exaggeration to claim street theater in some spontaneously combustible way is as near to a religious experience as you will ever behold.

wife with front row seat

Running with the Wild and Free

A street act is either in town or on the road, behind the wheel or on stage. A day off with no show is an odd unwelcomed event, something worrisome and undesirable. Fairs and festivals are all performed by binding contract between the producer and artist, the agreements are simple fee for service agreements. Some entertainers might forward stage, light and sound requirements, but a grizzled street act, tested by parkway and boulevard, the hardcore bust your butt busker urban take no guff kind, are most times pure point and shoot types. A veteran street act is accustomed to possessing the chops to walk on steal the show. “Hand me that mike. Is it hot? Let’s roll…”

Buskers are all about squeezing the light out of the red dawn and gold dusk, there is no tomorrow, there is this opportunity right here, this show, this crowd, what are you waiting for? In the vernacular of the street, “Throw it down, and whip it out…” a racy phrase that means to set down your prop case and do what you do— perform.

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Skylight before a Starry Night

Street veterans eat the scenery. The Grand Canyon would be lucky to even be noticed. Empirically this may not stand up to factual analysis but by size of heart and willingness of spirit— this kind of zeal is customary. Buskers are all great infinite expectation unexpectedly seized by ‘I never saw it coming’ heart failure. This is the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. We are trained by sidewalks to talk our way into anything and get out of more corners and tight spots than an average Joe might know was even possible to be caught in to begin with. Buskers worth their weight in copper coins are charmingly eccentric hybridized brightly packaged one part con and two parts escape artist.

I’m sorry to say that a good many of the world’s most rational sisters and daughters couldn’t help but toss all caution to the wind and go all in on our outlandish shows and offbeat lifestyle. The gutsy best of them became our wives. And all those women who ought to have known better, the women who have seen a thing or two, the wives and mothers? Countless numbers of these firebrand beauties in the most unexpected next chapters of their lives entangled their fates with ours, some for a night other aspiring free spirited souls have had the course of their wardrobes irreversibly changed, abandoning suburb and former friends forever and go full wanderlust while vowing to never look back. Love is as unpredictable as a street show. Strap a heart to a buskers grit and you’ve got a life worth riding down the unforeseen future boulevard of unbroken dreams. Neither Hells Angels or street performers want for women. Charismatic outlaws got nothing but magnetism, unpaid parking tickets and access to real happiness.

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A Star is Born

Being a busker is handcuffed to having no more excuses for why the impossible isn’t even an excuse. Rainy days and lonely nights catch no sympathy or slack from our kind. We hold self empowered destiny hostage. Our sidewalk show pitch—the pavement stages we concoct is a no strings attached low budget self-inoculating wide open wild as the west dream vaccine. On the ride to the top of the small time a busker’s prop case is near at hand, in our veins, at the tip of our tongues. We don’t go buy costumes- we come costumed. We’ll have plenty of time to relax after this brawling life has been chewed up, satisfaction and self-contentment can come later. Easy Street has got its own sorry location. That useless boulevard is just the other side of the mortal coil.

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Fire Dreamer

My money is on a bunch of the best I’ve shared stages with who I believe are working hard out there in the afterlife, and even if there is no for sure I have to hope they’re all killing up there, even now, in the rose bowl of eternal laughs… Wayne Condo, Vince Bruce, Hokum W Jeebs, Butterfly Man, Johnny Fox,Rob Torres, Dick Finkel, Steve Hansen, Gary Schnell… that is a tough lineup to break into. There you go, now you’ve been given a taste, from the barrel.Edited Red Star

Show Biz Bargain Basement Fire Sale

showman Ohio

Banging Another Out

The wanderlust in the heart of a street performer is curiosity writ large across the world. Many buskers remain moored to a city for decades while other acts travel town to town from one place to the next. In summer I preferred roving from the northernmost Canadian cities and as autumn took hold head south and winter in the border towns along the Mexican frontier.

Weather dictates the terms of our doing business. Rain, wind, sun and shade influence our day’s receipts. The 7000’— over one mile high elevation— in Flagstaff, Arizona slows a fleet paced act to another rate of play. A thirty minute set on a stage in the sun with no shade in triple digits? That’s working for a living.

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Where Drifting on the Long Dusty Road Ends

A one way trip from San Francisco to La Grande, Oregon (one state north of California) measures seven hundred miles. Most of this distance is traveled across long empty stretches of two lane highway. The towns of Alturas, Lakeport and Burns are drying up. Ranch and farm operations that you’ll see are scattered across the landscape if and where water can be found. Eastern Oregon is mile upon mile of Federal land. By the time you arrive in La Grande, Oregon it occurs to this gypsy showman that had I gone east instead of north I would have been one quarter of the way to New York City by now. That is butt on a seat, eyes out the windshield, foot on the pedal non-stop daydreaming while driving. Myself, I had been ordered to head for the small time.

Castle Valley

Castle Valley, Utah My Place…

Much of the experience of drifting the desolate long distance stretches of the American West is dependent upon whether you are comfortable in your own skin. Do you carry a good set of hand tools? Can you swap out a bad water pump for a new one? Have you got the talent to wrangle a blown transmission out from under your truck and slam in a replacement in time to get to the next show? If you know how to keep misery at bay you’ll have a properly inflated spare tire, jack and lug nut wrench all close at hand, ready to go, no questions asked. You change your own oil and filter. You adjust brakes and keep an eye and ear out for mechanical issues before they pull you over on the shoulder of the highway and put your crazy-heart and at-risk-soul in a fix you’ll never repair your way out of. Windshield wipers are in good order, all the lights work and you know how to speak deferentially to the officer of the law as is required. A busker knows how to chain up his rig like right now in the event there is snow. Crossing a high snowbound pass is an opportunity to relish. You might want to keep you day job if bone rattling sleet and snow isn’t your thing.

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Excuse for Pity Party Fueled Cold Beer

You’re not just driving to a destination. You are heading to a specific date and time where you will appear as promised. You are the performer and you have agreed to go into business with an event producer. The presenter could be a fair, festival, library or school. There will be a person to meet you. They may or may not have any prior experience, most don’t and the few that do are seldom experienced in booking variety acts in general and variety acts with a street performing background never. Fulfilling the contracts basic promise to perform in a particular place, at a specific time, for an agreed upon interval on a clock is the entire job. Some acts won’t appear without a retainer. A producer’s signature on a contract worked as far as I was concerned. With services rendered and the agreement fulfilled the fee is then paid. Any act worth a salt lick knows what customer satisfaction feels like once that check is handed to you. Walking out to your waiting rig, the show gear loaded up, gas tank pegged full, you fire up your engine, you take off in a cloud of dust rolling eight hours and four hundred miles, there’s no time to waste, you’ll need to be there first thing, opening tomorrow. In four days time you’ll have a hard time remembering where you had been, but never forgetting what you’ve done…. That kind of life out of a show trunk and suitcase, that’s real road doggin’…

Edited Red Star

Northbound to Home Port-Emery Cove

Ana Nuevo One

Of Misty Shores, Sea Elephants and Lone Gulls atop Buoy

Sailing is exhausting. I was in my bunk within an hour of our arrival in Monterey, immediately after squaring my registration with the harbormaster’s office early that afternoon. I woke up long enough to eat. I went back to my bunk. I was out until the next morning. Weather ahead was unsettled. We would remain in port Tuesday. Conditions turned to our advantage on Wednesday.

A short walk from our slip first thing before our departure we perched on stools and ate breakfast. LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle a waterfront favorite was  on Municipal Wharf #2.

Our short order cook put to rest any concern that a high fat diet was anything to fear. Not the seated customers, not the line of people waiting, indeed not one person appeared the least bit concerned. Life is short and eating at LouLou’s makes life shorter.

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Sighting a Mermaid

We topped off our fuel tank. The fuel dock clerk grew up in Salinas, moved to Pacific Grove  abandoned his car and walked to work now. He’d lucked into an affordable room. That’s a lot of good fortune in the land of sky high rent. This is life on the West Coast. Californian’s want to get rid of their lousy commute, live someplace we can afford so we may devote our free time to staring at our beguiling smartphones.

A pod of killer whales ,we counted six, congregated a hundred and fifty yards south of the harbor entrance buoy. We throttled up. Crossing Monterey Bay would take three hours. Sky was slate gray, the ocean darker, forbidden charcoal. Steaming at speed out of the haze appeared a fishing vessel, first one and then another, there was more boat traffic than we’d seen since Morro Bay. Fishermen were headed westbound.

Our spirits ran high. Two days sleep had restored our spirits. Seas were modest, not steep, the motion of the boat was comfortable. Soon we were off the northernmost headlands of Santa Cruz. Not long after we could see Davenport. Once Ana Nuevo was on our beam we had the temerity to imagine Half Moon Bay as being not much further north. Pigeon Point put the lie to that foolishness. Forging ahead at six knots asked for patience. Once in sight of Pillar Point we deluded ourselves that we would have her on our stern in short order. Four hours later we had only then passed the Pillar Point Safe Water Buoy. We had been underway for eleven hours.

Crewman

Strapped In for the Long Ride

Half Moon Bay’s fishing fleet was out in the overcast night running their powerful deck lights. Fishermen further out to sea over the horizon gave away their positions as lights bounced off low clouds gathered just above where they toiled. The night was  aglow, dotted here and there were islands of white-lighted radiance. Compared to the Big Sur coast the bustling fishing fleet was to our welcomed advantage. Anxious to arrive at home port, we would cling to anything to distract us. By now I was aiming four miles ahead to the Colorado Reef Lighted Buoy. On a northwest course we tracked the thirty fathom line. Fourteen miles further we would intersect with the Main Ship Channel Buoys that marked the entrance to the San Francisco Bay.

Ten miles off the coastline as we approached the mix of northern swell colliding with what would be a monster ebb kicked up, the sea state was in transition. I had been so fixated on weather I had not spent any time consulting the Tide and Current Tables. We would be passing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge while the ebbing current was running against us. The precision of our running against the torrent was a classic ditzy-brained sailing blunder. Whatever the word is for the opposite of luck that’s what I have. When it comes to approaching San Francisco Bay’s entrance I am preternaturally disposed to nail my arrival at maximum ebb. This is a sure bet and mortal lock. I am fated to suffer going against the grain. It is coded into my monumental stubbornness.

North Tower

Inbound Beneath the Gated Wonder

We would crawl into the bay. We had been underway for sixteen hours. If conditions had been in our favor we would pull into our slip in just over an hour. A more languid processional arrival was ordered by the forces aligned in my cerebral cortex and synchronized with tide and current.

In voyaging down and back up the coast the prudent mariner has a great many rules to abide, much as the Dude abides, so too shall the dudes arriving in the early morning hours of the morning of September 6, 2018 give their full attention to living in harmony with all the astronomical forces unleashed by the tensions gripping earth and moon. The City’s skyline was a luminous eye quenching martini, a feast of spangled skyscrapers, an urbanized shadow puppet, a yarn, a plotted twist, a grand welcome home.

Home Port

Jeweled Home Port

Plunging ahead near Blossom Rock Buoy there were two promises within one hour of my grasp. There were a great more many rules, a vast number of skills, there was unsolicited advice, deeply disturbing testimonials, but mixed with all of those myriad of other matters buffeting my attention there were two more existential promises I had wanted more than anything else to make good on. First and most important was, don’t get killed.  And if I did survive the first promise would I please second of all, not sink the ship.

For the final three nautical miles I kept close eye out, vigilance is a sailor’s best defense. And just to be that much more sure I’d make good on the twin pillared promises I hustled below and turned the switch to my bilge pump to the on position. After fifty-two days outbound we put into Emery Cove. The time was zero-four-hundred hours. My summer of sailing off the coast of California was now a thousand glorious sea miles off my stern.

Edited Red Star

Sailing the Coast of California

Sweet Seas Avalon Three

Mooring in Avalon

In the summer of 2018 I sailed down the California coast from San Francisco to Catalina Island. For crew I enjoyed the company of my wife and two friends all jumping aboard along the way. Once in Southern California waters we hopped from harbor to harbor. Twice we sailed to Catalina Island and then after back up the coast on a course that took us out to the Channel Islands before making the final long uphill passage to home port.

Even in the midst of the very pinnacle of a late August summer a raucous Pacific Ocean can be frequented by Small Craft Warnings. Humbling gales, near gales and impenetrable fog’s can bedevil a recreationalist sailor. Dodging the adversity of such inclement conditions I planned to slip into and out of protected harbors hopscotching my way back up the coast. The professional meteorological consultants at Weather Routing Incorporated were enlisted as an insurance policy, to save this sailor from his own miscalculations, the bet being this helpful advice would reduce the chances of my being caught off the coast in an unmuted blow. For the week ahead Weather Routing Inc. provided me with a comprehensive weather report and then by telephone each day advised as I picked my way northward.

Anacapa

Panorama of Anacapa Island

The initial turn and the first forty miles from Avalon were undertaken in a steady hull speed inducing breeze. As I boasted on that leg, “The gods are great!” The seas were smooth, air was warm as dolphins came bounding toward us to play in our bow’s wake. Our first leg was auspicious. From Los Angeles’s Marina del Rey to Oxnard’s Channel Islands Harbor, a distance of fifty miles was pragmatic; we motorsailed and bucked against steep chop for the last two hours.

The next morning our sloop romped under full sail out to the Channel Islands. Morning overcast and haze yielded to a blue sky. Dark silhouettes on the horizon began peeking through the mists in time lapse revelatory boat speed. Materializing before our eyes were the surreal other-worldly cliffs of Anacapa Island. As we drew closer the khaki colored sheer vertical guano streaked bluffs invoked a sense of the epic. This is the mythological world of Venus and Aphrodite; nature as conundrum, stunning and temporally transformational. Winds dropped. Seas settled into a lull. Serenity took grip. Two silent sailors set motionless basking in the warm sun. While eating lunch my wife rendered our shared verdict. “This is the best day of sailing in my life.”

Anacapa Leaving

Approaching the Other World

Putting our boat and minds back in order we made ready to turn and beat north in a stout wind tipped with white capped seas. We bound close-hauled beneath a full mainsail across Anacapa Passage to Santa Cruz Island. The anchorages at Scorpion, Little Scorpion and Pelican Bay were full up. Exposed to a swell wrapping around the northeast headlands  we set one hook in Prisoners Harbor. Had I been on my best game a second hook on my stern would have been set to help fend off the incessant rocking but light was dimming and the day was at end. Here was as best as we could do with what time we had before darkness set in.

The next morning in a dead calm we motorsailed to Santa Barbara. Without having to tire from beating against wind or wave was under the circumstances fine. In the days and miles ahead a less benign Pacific Ocean would be certain to kick up and tax our resolve. We would for the first time in four days return from the sea and walk on land.

Edited Red Star

 

Author-Entertainer