Screenplay

Tantrums of the Water Czar’s

Yesterday’s front-page headlines reported that six of seven states have agreed to a new framework to cut back on the amount of water they use from the Colorado River. Six is pretty good—

There’s this Kighlinger negotiator, he is a former Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District manager, he knows the score, he sees the writing on the wall, and is trying with all his might to get the Imperial Valley Irrigation District to face reality. That is no small feat when trying to negotiate with the grand pooh-bah of water rights holders. 

Kighlinger is among the many that believe the priority system foisted upon the region more than a century ago can no longer be used as a model for how water is allocated. The heart of the matter— if you use 80% of the water, then you should be contributing close to the same 80% back in economic benefits, not at best a measly 5% return on the people’s water.

Cotton and Irrigation Ditch—Totally Insane

Alex Cardenas, the president of the board of directors of the Imperial Irrigation District, what he wants you to know is that he represents a group of farmers that hold water rights that go back so far in history that they predate the formation of the universe, they existed before the Big Bang, this isn’t just the before times, this is before the before times, this is all eternity— and they are not going to be pushed around by some uppity federal agency. Farmers in the Imperial Valley are hot under the collar, ready to brawl, won’t be surrendering their senior most status to some junior subordinated water rights holders that they believe are out to do the same thing they have been doing for the last 100 plus years. Water grabbers of the world unite!

Here, let’s listen to Mr. Cardenas explain, “We’re not going to wreck our local economy so that they can continue to grow their urban economy.”

This is how senior water rights holders speak, this is our nation’s Water Nobility, another way of saying this is that some farmers have come to believe that the water they use comes with zero strings attached, and not you and not nobody may ever question how they use the nation’s resources.

From my fictional perspective I feel my script towing reality’s line. I have been drawing up a screenplay and Mr. Cardenas not only plays the part I’ve imagined but he makes my work easy, I don’t even have to write the dialogue, his quotes write the script for me.

I’m still predicting the Bureau of Reclamation will keep its head low until after the President gives the State of the Union speech. In the next few weeks, I forecast the conflict to escalate, and by grow more tense I mean the stuff is going to hit the fan.

I’ll leave you with the wit and wisdom of this water professional and come on now let’s hear it for this brave soul who has had the brass to tell the truth and call out the madness about how they want to use all the water and return almost nothing to the economy in return. As this cool cat Kighlinger said— that’s a fucking disaster— that just can’t be our reality—

Water like whiskey even after a century is still worth fighting over—

Screenplay

Beyond Imagination/All Too Real

In 1922 expert hydrologists estimated the Colorado River to produce 16.5 million acre feet of water per year, and it was then that when the Compact of the River was created it assigned half of the water to the upper basin and the other half to the lower basin.

In 2022 hydrologists armed with real world data peg the river’s output to be half that much. The upper and lower basins are now trying to figure out how in the hell they’re going to manage with so little water and so much demand.

To give you some idea of how colossal this task is there are a small number of farms in the very southeastern tip of California. Together these few farms by law have legal access to 4 million of the total 8 million acre acre feet of the Colorado’s water. That legally binding allotment is pretty much a great big fat emergency right there.

The agricultural water grabbing has meant Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson have been left to hold the short end of the water scarcity stick— subordinated water rights is the term of art.

What negotiators have been unable to do is convince any stakeholder with these oldest senior most water rights to voluntarily give their allocations back. The legal framework, the so called Law of the River required decades to sort out and it appears this hot mess is headed back into an legal quagmire that remains anyone’s guess how things might be sorted out.

What makes this such a disaster is that there is not enough time to go to court and then plod clumsily over years to decades of time to come to new potentially irrelevant terms. One tipping point should the water flow continue to decline is a river that never makes it beyond Hoover Dam.

A century ago Hoover Dam engineers never contemplated needing to build tunnels beneath the dam. Water in both Lake Powell and Lake Mead suffer from the same design flaw, without sufficient supply there is no feasible way to move water further down river. Engineers never planned for too little or too much, the dams were scaled to account for what was then estimated as modest variations.

Climate change has all to do with the reduction in the Colorado River’s output, and there is no choice, we have to live with the finite precipitation we get. Experts think the Federal government must declare a state of emergency and mandate steep reductions up and down the river basin. That is a theory of course, stakeholders don’t know if the courts would go along and if they don’t there’s going to be a horrible collision of law, water and special interests. Then there still is the problem that the water could end up stuck behind Hoover Dam where it would be impossible to release regardless of what the court’s decide.

That’s why they always talk about nature having the last word, or that Mother Nature bats last, it simply doesn’t matter what some water rights holder wants or by what authority a court has to enforce their decisions.

If and when the Colorado River does end up stuck behind Lake Mead, if litigation spirals out of control, the whole hot stinking mess turns the Southwest into an environmental crisis of a kind never seen by a modern advanced world’s largest economy.

Some predict engineers should immediately start digging tunnels that send water around Hoover and Glen Canyon to forestall such a disaster. Do that starting now. Emergency pipelines would be constructed at the same time. Water would be sent on an emergency basis to quench the thirst of urban population centers while leaving rural agricultural water users high and dry. The first people to inhabit this region faced a similar fate 1000 years ago. Our first people simply had to pickup and leave, the omnipotent modern capitalists suffer from a misguided hubris, they have suspended disbelief, it simply defies imagination, our titans of commerce believe we cannot and will not run out of water.

The opposite scenario is equally as terrifying, equally as dangerous— the potential irony of the thing would simply go lost in the tragic consequences of such an event. Here we go— Alarmed researchers have found that in 1884 the Colorado River Basin received 2 years of rainfall in just 4 months. Instead of an average of 16.5 million acre feet of water measured on a per year basis, in 1884 it is estimated that a total of 32 million acre feet of water swept down the river in a period of just four months. This is decades before the dams were constructed.

Drenching rainfall totals of this magnitude could bring such monumental amounts of runoff that water could overtop and then completely demolish the dams at Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams.

This kind of epic precipitation is calculated to be a one in every 500 year event, with the last super soaker occurring about 140 years ago.

The potential destruction of the two big dams has spurred scientists to propose removing Glen Canyon Dam now and then enlarging the spillways at Hoover Dam, and many experts believe we must do this now before it is too late.

As of the end of January California has been drying after a month of pummeling by powerful atmospheric river fed storms. If by the once in five-hundred year odds California were hit with four months of atmospheric river fed storms the calamity would clobber the American West— this is the epic atmospheric knock-out blow of all natural disasters.

In the 1800’s a storm fed Los Angeles River swollen by relentless rains jumped its banks and sent its water south on a path 20 miles off its normal course— the devastation was immeasurable. North of LA so much rain and snow fell that the Central Valley from Bakersfield north to Redding inundated the region making this whole region one big temporary lake that was for some months navigated by large paddle boats.

Were the Los Angeles River to jump its banks and once again head 20 miles off course it would wipe out the the most productive economic zone in the United States, instantly zeroing out at least $3 trillion in economic activity. That’s an enormous loss, nearly one fifth of the nations entire economic output. Lives and livelihoods would be lost, homes would be destroyed, commercial enterprise zones would be devastated and Southern California’s ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles would require decades to repair and reopen.

That is what worries California’s Department of Water Resources, not just the drier and then wetter storms that are hitting our state but the all too real risk that we could be pummeled by equally powerful droughts and floods of a magnitude that makes the region unmanageable. A natural disaster of either kind could itself be the natural disaster’s knockout blow to maintaining our grip on being a civilized country.

The Bureau of Reclamation in Washington is about to mandate new cuts in water up and down the entire length of the Colorado River. Legal scholars are unsure if these cuts would hold up if challenged in court. The Bureau’s decision could drop at any moment now.

Either way, engineers are urgently advocating for reinforcing spillways on the dams and that this work needs to get underway immediately. An uncontrolled topping of the dams by flood risks everything.

If the drought persists they are also urging  that new underground tunnels be built. Deep underground tunnels like this have never been attempted.

This is the pickle we find ourselves in. It is a damned if we do, damned if we don’t corner we find ourselves backed into. If you have ever stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon then you have experienced the aching beauty and the unfathomable immensity, you have stood there in awe feeling the sweep of time, you can see a river that has carved a 50 million year deep canyon one mile deep into the rock of a continent.

The Colorado River and her water is as big a problem as problems get. The scale of our troubles dwarfs our imagination, we are not designed to comprehend such stupendous events, the common man is not built to react to catastrophic occurrences of such size, scale that may or by chance may not occur over such a lengthy event horizon. So far we’ve stalled, we’ve waited, we’ve hoped and we’ve delayed. That is a fool’s game, a gamblers losing bet, the smart money urges us to face up to the facts.

Biography

Dad Visit— Run Everybody Run

Masking up and flying to Seattle to see the kid this weekend. Friday night is slated for small plates, natural wine and swift flowing conversation. The usual suspects in my daughter’s circle will drop by to offer their condolences as her odometer trips over to the 31 mark.

January 27, 1992 San Francisco

My odometer, that would be the father of the daughter’s odometer is in the nosebleed section of the center for the tragically hip and terminally cool. Aside from having pulled a muscle in my lower leg and having to hobble around like some errant penguin looking for a good piece of ice I’m reasonably useful. Capitol Hill in Seattle is peopled by our society’s up and comer’s, don’t ask if I suffer envy with any sort of grace. 

What is most important is that you can get good produce at the local Co-op, if you need the odd cheaper specialty item there is a Trader Joe’s, and to purchase adult beverages you’ve got options, lots and lots of alternative outlets. There is a butcher shop where you can purchase grass fed organic meat. There is a nearby dispensary where every kind of smokable, edible and drinkable is on offer.

Show Trunk Lid and Pictures of the Kid

Maybe I Do is in the theaters. The kid and I enjoy getting out to the cinema together. A comedy is right up there with what the doctor has ordered. Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and William H Macy play the parents to a young couple. When the parents meet it turns out that the four have all cheated and that their partners are this other couple. I’m a sucker for funny sex, a friend tells me that there is no other kind of sex, she urged me to think about it, I want to believe she’s right, of course she’s right as she laughed—

Flying up to Seattle tends to mean it will be colder and likely wetter than here in Northern California. Fortunately, perhaps that’s exaggerating, we have just come out of a lengthy period of rain, snow and very chilly air. My years spent playing dates in Arizona has left me with little appreciation for what we call winter. It is one of my many emotional disabilities.

Sunday the Eagles play the 49ers for the National Football Conference Championship. I’ll need to be excused so I can watch the game. My kid knows about the dad’s football habit. Because of the pandemic we’ve tended to choose our visiting with larger gatherings to near zero. We see our very closest friends, best method is just one other couple, we think this reduces the chances of catching the bug of all bugs. 

Here is a shot of family— I am far right

Unfortunately, this cautiousness has gutted from our life the people we might recognize by face, bump into at the marina, see them at one of our favorite saloons, at the health club, now most of those second and third tier acquaintances have been melted away by the pandemic. 

As much as I like my best friends, they’ve all heard my stories before, it’s all the newer faces in the crowd that might like to hear about my life on stage, the books I’ve written, the sailing I’ve done, and the birds I’ve identified. 

In the before times to live a really well rounded life you’d mix and match your activities to blend your time visiting the time tested relationships with the newer people you are just getting to know. 

In June of last summer, I dropped a propane tank on my big toe. That wiped out most of the summertime. Walking was difficult. I’ve been shooting baskets down at the club since September. It’s a terrific workout, you can kick up the pace and you’ll know you’ve been exercising once you are finished. I shoot for 45 minutes most days. Then, last week I picked up a ball dribbled and took a few steps and my lower leg on the same side as the damaged toe decided to pop. I’ll be back in another week. At first, I thought I’d be down for months. 

Prop case circa February 2020

Most years when I’ve been onstage I would do about five-hundred shows. These have been physically challenging, besides juggling you’ve got to chat up your crowd. In the early years you had no sense of pace, didn’t even consider you could get injured, you just let it rip. Once you’ve got a long string of contracts to honor you start streamlining your time on stage and the training you do to maintain the act. You don’t want any stubbed toes, no twisted ankles, no pulled muscles in your back, no damage to your voice, not too much direct sun on your face, you end up smoothing out your daily routine. 

A well trained showman will walk at a good pace but not sprint from place to place. Moderation is key. For decades I performed a few handstand stunts in the act. All in all it worked out, a few unplanned tumbles got me banged up, but I was able to work around the injuries.

A colleague in the biz has a big show in May and has asked if I would do something. It some ways doing 5 minutes is harder than doing 500 shows. You have to prepare just about as thoroughly. If you count the number of lines, calculate which stunts you are going to include, it will eat up more than a few day’s to be sure you are well prepared for the appearance.

As life would have it my daughter and I get along swell. Her dog Mezzo seems to think the world of me, at least I pretend the little guy does. Most amazing about time shared with my kid is being in the midst of her great talents. Besides being a damn good cook, she has this other talent for being organized. You really can’t appreciate this talent until you look in her dresser drawers, go through her clothes in the closet, or admire her tree of earrings. 

Fort Lincoln, Arizona and the Kid and the Old Man out for a Walk

Five days in Seattle in late January is the first installment. We are due back up for a trip out to Orcas Island late this summer. Sometime between now and then the kid will make it down to the Bay Area. It isn’t as much as we’d like, but we see one another and we find it better than not getting together.

I was ambivalent over becoming a father, my mother passing away at 56 changed my mind. A daughter changes how a father feels about the project of being alive. To the extent unconditional love can be found anywhere in this world it must be located somewhere between  a parent and their child. The emotions come with a gravitational force all their own. The rising tides of closeness, belonging, and understanding fill the famous void. 

Whatever it is a site of the kind I run here is about, one thing it could be about is self-care, perhaps a flow chart showing how to stay out of harm’s way and where to find the good stuff that makes our short time here worth the effort. 

I’m packing my bags now

Screenplay

We’re All Bakersfield Now

Our return from Palm Springs took us through Bakersfield. This is Kern County’s biggest city. It is Kevin McCarthy’s district; he is the temporary Speaker of the House. How temporary remains up in the air, his tenure is uncertain, the mood of his caucus is rather gladiatorial.

American Ingenuity ala 1950’s

While in Bakersfield I was taken to wonder what to make of the people who voted for the Republican leader. I’m presuming that they liked the insurrection, were cheered on by his backhanded comment that he suspected that Putin was paying Trump to run for President. That was back in the good old days of 2016 when he was discussing the odd affinity then House member Dana Rohrabacher had for Russia’s dictator. This other Dana, not this one, was also being paid by Russia according to McCarthy. 

I continue wondering about how eager Bakersfield voters are to forfeit our nations status as the issuer of the world’s reserve currency. It is our reserve currency status that earns us the so-called exorbitant privilege that goes along with this status. Since we now control how many dollars are in circulation should we default on the holders of our Treasury Bonds we would instantly surrender our exorbitant privilege and instantly enter insolvency. Social security would end, mortgages interest rates would rocket into the stratosphere then beyond the solar system, that is if there were any functional banks left standing after our defaulting on the nation’s debt.

If you like living in Bakersfield that’s maybe fine, but if you wanted to move, if you had to move, the odds of finding a buyer for your home would be virtually zero. Maybe you could find a cash buyer, but then you’d have to figure out which currency you would risk being paid in, as once the peg on the dollar has been vaporized it is going to be all but impossible to know how much anything is worth.

I’m not an economist— you can tell can’t you

I’m not an economist. I’m just an ordinary citizen living in the United States. There is this quirk in our system that is called the debt ceiling, and as our debts rise the government must change the amount of debt we might hold— this is called raising the debt ceiling. If you are a member of the House, you have either voted for or against legislation that directs the agencies of our government to spend money. We spend money on farmers, teachers, secret agents, judges, soldiers, air traffic controllers, livestock brand inspectors, nuclear weapons designers, librarians, prison guards, border guards, crosswalk guards and so on and so forth. One out of five of us works directly for some piece of our government, and another chunk of the four out of the other five makes their living providing services to the people employed by the government. 

Bakersfield’s people like people across the nation do have jobs both in the public and private sector. Figure once we default every teacher would be put out of work instantly, the means of paying teachers would be ended in the default, the government would be broke. Add the local police, sheriff deputies and Highway Patrol. Weather satellites would continue to orbit the earth, but the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration offices would be shuttered. Forget about controlling immigration on our southern border, northern border, or shorelines the Coast Guard would be disbanded.

Like it or not we no longer live as nomads. We no longer emerge from our fortified caves to scurry about to forage for chubby rabbits, tubers, and yummy little acorns. Instead, we go to supermarkets where we exchange dollars for the food we need. That’s definitely going to be a problem once Republicans destroy our reserve currency status.  I think citizens in Bakersfield will have to learn to get by on citrus, almonds, pistachios and milk. Potatoes are fairly decent crop here too. Lots of potatoes will need to be eaten in Bakersfield, this is the town you can’t leave because nobody has any way of selling their house to anyone else because— you know the rest.

I know a lot of you parents out there have been griping about being stuck at home with your kids because of the pandemic. Well, get used to being stuck big time. And you know when that teenager goes off on you, do remember that there will be no juvenile hall, no parole officers, no drug addiction counselors, no nothing to help you with the problemed child living down the hallway in the house you can’t sell.

If you are living in another country, you’ll soon discover all that money you saved up over your lifetime isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. You’ll have to break out your gold coins, that’ll work until someone finds out you have gold and those famous bad guys come to take it from you. You could keep it in a bank, but banks will be out of business, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will be tits up and zeroed out. 

Even on a good day I can barely take being in Bakersfield for more than a few hours. Call me an effete snob, call me geographically small-minded, tell me I’m a civic wimp but for whatever reason Bakersfield reminds me of a Greyhound Bus terminal suffering from the world’s most grievous janitorial strike. Candy wrappers are strewn everywhere. Piles of oil exploration drilling gear is scattered halfway to hell and back across the city limits. Even the trees appear to be stunted, arborists have spited the cities flora and fauna, birds flying over but are seldom tempted to stop. I know friends that worked in Bakersfield at the Kern County Fair. As soon as the fair ends they returned to the place they are from and had to spend whatever they had earned on a psychiatrist to overcome the depression living in Bakersfield for two weeks had brought on.

So, you see there are a good many reasons to suspect that defaulting on our nation’s debt might just turn out to be not such a good idea. In a very real sense, our whole nation could turn out to look like Bakersfield. 

Fishing is a form of food gathering, after collapse you’ll paddle

What I’m describing is but the tip of the iceberg. All those unanticipated knock-on effects would have to be included in anyone’s portfolio of misery that is the result of what would certainly the history of the world’s all-time-titanic-never-ever-seen-before-now-or-ever global financial crisis. 

To be sure we place the blame for all this mayhem on the right persons you will need to look at the elected Republican members of the House of Representatives, all the voters who helped to elect these particular house members, all the variety of constituencies that donated money to their campaigns, such wonderful organizations as private equity scoundrels, fossil fuel lobbyists, Chamber of Commerce operatives, and Wall Street types obsessed with having their taxes (not your taxes) cut. Honorable mention must go to book burning advocates, abortion foes, White Supremacists, evangelicals, breast implant enthusiasts and that select group of men now suffering from or soon to be suffering from E.D.. 

If you read this blog now and then you’ll know I’m more than concerned about the possibility that the regions megadrought could render this region ungovernable, that the water that has held this region together could be the cause of it coming unglued. Collapse of civilization can never be ruled out— as hard as Putin tries even he knows there is a risk to the whole thing coming unraveled— trust me all those rooftop swan diving Russian oligarchs are well aware of how tough things can go when where you are from is in the midst of a self-inflicted collapse.

That’s really what a debt default is in the end. It is a self-inflicted act of destruction. Your homes, bank accounts, 401k’s, pensions, medical services, and the chump change you have folded up in your wallet will be totally worthless. All you people bitching about the cost of a gallon of gasoline will finally have something to really be pissed off about. This will be the Republicans sloppy wet kiss to all those deplorables that voted them into office. 

Won’t be needing these anymore

So, to be clear I have to believe that we will not default on our nation’s debt. Kern County will soon count among its population one ex-speaker of the house, and by 2024 a nation of low-information voters will because of watching Fox News be mesmerized into forgetting about the whole stinking mess. Pond scum it is believed will see a meteoric rise in its popularity. Dollar Stores will sell for discount all those many speeches given by politicians that soon after have left America to seek happiness abroad living in Russia, China, Iran or North Korea. 

A global outbreak of popcorn orgies will race across the world. Bakersfield will become a footnote in history, Kevin McCarthy will take up standup comedy, gallows humor will be his closing joke— Kevin wanted power, and finally when he got it, the first thing he did with it was to try to completely destroy the very government he was elected to preserve and protect. You just can’t make this shit up. Welcome to life’s mad carnival, the United States has gone all in for a bumpy ride. Put on that seatbelt and lookout below.

Screenplay

Atmospheric River Blues

Drought, wildfire, heatwaves and now nine in a row atmospheric rivers represents California’s new normal weather pattern. Five years ago to the day Montecito and Santa Barbara were hit with a deluge of water and then mudslides after weeks and weeks of wildfire ravaging the hills above their communities. Mudslides, chaos and emergency rescue teams soon followed.

Mojave Desert January 10, 2023

Oprah, Ellen and now Harry have been swept up into the climate crisis gripping the globe. Among the nutty delusional qualities of the mind is wealthier citizens hoping the fossil fuel induced climate changes would somehow bypass their swank digs. Sorry money can’t buy you everything.

Last Friday events pulled us from our place in San Francisco Bay Area to visit friends in Los Angeles. We were planning to make it a fun weekend then get back home on Monday. Instead we turned east to Palm Springs seeking sanctuary from the demon we named— Reality.

Sunday was pretty good here in the desert, Monday not bad, yesterday the remnant’s of an atmospheric river brought rain. We hunkered down here at the hot spring. Fortunate our van was pointed nose first into the 55 mph winds that hit last night. Seatbelts— I don’t got to wear no stinking seatbelts— were considered given the unexpected turbulence.

Sky Valley, California blowing like all hell out here

Behind us is a concrete culvert. Bone dry doesn’t describe it, perhaps the last time water ran down this waterway Truman was still President. Because of the nearby mountains I monitored the potential for uncontrollable runoff. Not much happened, less than a trickle, but in climate change times you can not afford to turn your back where water may come to rage. Evacuation routes are now something to know.

I’d mark my coming of age in the era of climate change to be somewhere around the year 2016. California was ablaze with wildfires, our air was unbreathable. Reckoning the wildfire’s were a once in a century event, not the new business as usual turned out to be poor mental jujitsu. Wildfire’s are as predictable now as atmospheric river’s and who ever heard of those atmospheric demons until now—

All of us have been making little accommodations, adjusting in increments to the heatwaves, downpours and sunburn. You say to yourself— hey, kid, stay ahead of things, its going to be alright, look around, you’re the only one that’s worried about anything, it’s all ok, have another martini, wash your car, pull some weeds, call a friend, make some pasta, drink some wine, get down to the dispensary, buy a hat, see your skin doctor, wear your sunscreen, keep your head low, don’t talk too much about how you feel as your world literally is falling apart, people will shun you, nobody likes a Dana-Downer.

To keep us calm they’ve installed devices here and there

Until about 2016 all of us could take some pleasure in our denial, that it really couldn’t be as awful as the climate scientists have warned. By 2019 traveling across British Columbia the sight of millions of beetle ravaged trees took a toll on my denial. Then, sucking in heaps of wildfire smoke gave me my first climate cough. Viewing reservoirs without an antidepressant is ill-advised.

We still have to live and die, raise our kids, get our groceries, keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, and find some semblance of fun and games whether the lights remain on or off.

Here at the Palm Springs Film Festival we got out to see I Like it Here. The documentary chronicles the phenomena surrounding our aging out until we’re gone. Liking it here is about not being ready to go there, not yet, not while the pleasing alternative of being here holds our attention.

Just stop bellyaching

Encoded into our DNA is an ego determined to maintain its grip on staying alive. Ego is a damn efficient quality of mind— it’ll keep you alive when the rest of you can get the rest of you killed. It is the do this not that device on loan from God— we give our ego and the rest of our gifts back at the end. This comes free, there is no extra charge.

Our changing climate adds concern, it only slightly penetrates our ego’s main vigilant keep it real inner monologue and cheery patter. Our inability to grasp the magnitude of what our species has done to our odds of long term survival is to do with the capacity of our mind to stitch together the weather events of the times we live in. Ego sucks figuring the odds— and not to trigger your ego, but folks the odds are not close to even according to what I see out the window dare I have the courage to look.

It isn’t fair, but it is true, that as we’ve evolved the ego proved useful and was improved by evolution and of course glorified by Hollywood. I’d say ego has had a good run— only Frankenstein seems to have had a better box office.

What we don’t have is the capacity to help plan for two centuries from now. You can love your grand children all you want but that’s probably an ego induced sideshow. The reality is the human mind lacks this forward compassion projecting capacity, live now pay later, don’t worry be happy— be happy right now, we’ll try a little harder next week, I promise I won’t fly off so often to Puerto Vallarta to feed my muse and drink tequila.

Today is a walk across historic Palm Springs. We are now lounging about in our mid century modern hotel just off the strip next to the world famous Palm Springs Tennis Club. I married Vince Lombardi’s reincarnated feminine aspect and she’s walked her other half right to the edge.

Wondering about the number of galaxies in our Universe, I’m betting a trillion isn’t close to the total, and boy that has got to be a bitch of a task to be in charge of tallying up the actual number. Like the climate crisis it boggles our comprehension, almost breaks the imagination muscle trying to wrap our heads around the colossal climate crisis of it all. But as the assignment editor cruelly warns— that’s why we pay you the big bucks— I can get you to take a look, it’s your ego that urges you to look away—

The climate crisis is definitely messing with the speech you are planning to give at the lifetime achievement award ceremony, but you look in the mirror while you check the lapels, tug at the cuffs, you keep going over and over how grateful you are, how the world is at an inflection point, that collectively the time has come, that together we must act, and the truth of the matter is our ego’s are bristling at this, try as we might, when the gods unlocked the code to give us the smarts to do certain things like all wishes fulfilled they overlooked mankind’s ability to think long term, over the horizon, to see into our earth’s future and have the capacity to act to avert a crisis, and not just any old ordinary crisis but perhaps the mother of all of them, the biggest crisis we have ever had to face, the crisis where if we don’t act now it will be too late for those who will soon follow us here. Our ability to act or not to act is front and center. So what is it there pilgrim, you want to ride over that mountain pretending like there’s nothing you can do, that there’s nothing all that wrong, or are you ready to lend a hand to a soul yet born who—

Sorry, these atmospheric rivers can really monkey with my inner confidence—

Books · Screenplay

Arizona’s Water Grabbers—

Cochise County is a chunk of Arizona where I have whiled away time. Hot springs, winemakers and bohemian high desert dwellers are all here. Then, there are the predators— every kind in every guise— coyote, puma and red tail hawks are here. Then there are the corporate dairy operators, they arrive with well drillers, these are the money is no object drill deeper well drilling dairy interests that have with heavy hands invaded this delicate region of Southern Arizona. 

Running on out to survey the land

Certain water user types like to pretend that the regions high desert vineyards require the same volume of water a dairy operator needs. Growing grapes in Arizona’s high desert is in fact not water intensive, it is an ideal crop to water by the method of a miserly drip irrigation system.  By contrast dairy operators require boundless amounts of water for their operations.

A region of Cochise County that is known as the Kentucky Settlements has been overrun by an out of state dairy conglomerate that landed here and began punching wells like there is no tomorrow— we’re talking over 600 wells. Nearby county small farmers act as a smokescreen, the idea is to throw the misinformed citizens off the scent, conflate an operator that uses almost no water to an operator that uses almost all the water. 

Big dairy operations will run multiple wells day in and day out at 35 gallons per minute all day long, twenty-four hours a day, all year long. You turn on 600 irrigation well pumps and run them all day every day year in and year out and we are talking about the collapse of the regions underground water resources.

Boastful but close enough for true

Cochise County seat is in Bisbee, Arizona. The town is located furtherest to the south along the Mexican frontier. Nearby Douglas is situated to the east in a valley below right on the border. If you are sick to death of sweltering in Tucson you come up into the mountains and visit Bisbee, some rent a place others buy a second home here.

While Douglas is predominately Mexican American it is Bisbee’s population that attracts misfits. Art and craft types that follow the festival circuit call Bisbee home. Talented baristas, bartenders, waitresses and tourist shop clerks scratch out their livelihoods here. Airbnb helps give folk here an extra way to make a buck. The types that come to Bisbee as a rule can’t cut it in Wilcox, it’s an emotional thing, and social, Wilcox is too straight, Bisbee is still running wild. The two types found most common here are the young and the offbeat older spirits still clinging to their youthful wild spirited ways.

The United States Army’s Intelligence school is west in nearby Sierra Vista and Huachuca City. The wild west’s Tombstone is here. Once you find Sunizona you are getting mighty close to where much of the misguided water grabbing is taking place. Further to the east are the Chiricahua’s, much is wilderness, most of the rest consists of small villages and settlements. Bird hunting in the Dragoons is popular. The region is a magnet for winter visitors coming here to explore during the cooler months of the year.

Water tanks gravity feed nearby ranch house and cowboy bunking quarters

Cochise County’s population sits at about 125,000. That’s not much. Their brand of politics tends to run hot, plenty here fashion themselves independents, tend to be in sympathy with libertarians, and want to be left alone. That doesn’t describe citizens in Bisbee, they’re all those other kinds and flavors of people. It’s down here where citizens gathered signatures and qualified an initiative to regulate groundwater in the county. The active water management area was passed fair and square down along the border and didn’t pass north in nearby Wilcox. 

There are at least two underground aquifers in this region. The aquifer to the south is now a protected active managed water area and is going to be regulate, groundwater and the citizens to the north voted down the initiative and there is every reason to worry about the aquifers complete collapse. Money poured in opposition to the initiative from across the United States and likely foreign interests illegally meddled in the election as well. 

Low tech last century energy saving water pump device— windmill

Cochise County was the sole holdout in Arizona’s November’s gubinatorial election and refused to certify the results until by court order they buckled under. Kari Lake sympathizers are cheek to jowl down here and probably not more than a few thousand tried stirring up trouble. Once threatened with jail election officials sobered up and performed their duties. 

Let’s say you move down to Cochise County and purchase some acreage. You’ll put in a water well, build out a septic system, put up a place to call home and you are set to live a life rife with rattlesnakes, scorpions and disaffected Kari Lake sympathizers. Residential water well users tend to use smaller sized well pipes and less powerful pumps. Commercial operations punch deeper wells, they punch more wells and use most of the water. Citizens on fixed incomes find they have to have their wells punched deeper to keep up with the draw down, where a commercial operator sees a deeper well as a line item on an operating statement, the residential user sees having to spend $10 to $30 thousand dollars as a deal breaker. Once you lose your access to water on your 5 acres of desert paradise your land is now worthless, you’ll have to haul water in while you figure out where in the hell you can go next.

Across the American West all the state water resource agencies are only now beginning to put into law regulations that control the use of groundwater. Five areas in Arizona have any groundwater restrictions at all, most of the rest remains unregulated. Any hope of getting the groundwater protected fall to the county initiative process, chances are zero that the state legislature could pass regulations, special interests whip the vote to see that won’t happen.

California’s solution has a certain political elegance to its method. Pass the legislation necessary to get a grip on the overuse of groundwater but then set a multiple decade’s timetable to the rollout of the new rules. By 2040 every commercial well in California will have a meter, the amount of water that can be pumped will be set based upon how much water there is in the aquifer. If regulators find a given aquifer is being drawn down the regions pumps will be forced to use less or none at all. Best of all the politicians that passed the legislation a decade ago will be out of office and escape the wrath of big agriculture. Word has it if you pump long and hard enough chances are you’ll pump up the remains of one of those no good water regulating politicians that ended your free lunch decades back.

The seven western states that use Colorado River water are trying to voluntarily find four-million-acre feet of water that instead of being used will be voluntarily given back to the river. No state has been able to find more than a few hundred-thousand-acre feet of water that they can afford to give back. Regulators trying to compel a voluntary solution trying to avoid having to issue mandatory cutbacks. 

Your looking at him— he’s in Bisbee where he belongs and fits in

The American West is short of the water needed to maintain business as usual. On one level there is the threat of having your allotment of river water cut. If you are a farm that means the jig is up, fold your tent and hand the keys to your farmhouse back to the bank. That’s what taking acreage out of production looks like, certainly not a happy ending. The more catastrophic scenarios hit home when an entire aquifer collapses and many thousands of farms and rural residential operations simply have no more water left in the ground to bring up and use to support their lives and livelihoods. When the northernmost section of Cochise County’s aquifer is pumped dry, some speculate it could happen anytime between now and 2070 the region will be rendered uninhabitable, and that’s not a problem politics can do anything about. Once we hit that marker, we’ve entered the lifeboat moment in the climate crisis. 

Where I sit in Northern California today there is a major Pacific storm about to clobber us with drenching rain and heavy snow. Water resource managers have already said that while we need this rain, and it will be a lot of rain, it will not in and of itself be enough to end the 23 year long drought this region has suffered. More rain helps but water resources remain tight and that’s now the permanent circumstance we face as our world’s climate shifts.  

Books

Limantour Beach to Celebrate Life

Posting here at my website I comment about life in as large a sense as I can muster. I use WordPress and can change my website with little effort. What is harder to accomplish is writing high quality prose, polished paragraphs, well thought through, structured, and as ever in long fiction prose that is patient, is tied to the observational details of setting and character—

Footpath Across Creek to Limantour

The two paragraphs are of a fictional New Years Day at the beach at Pt Reyes National Seashore. I try to get over this time of year, if I can on the new day of the new year’s morning. I was a few days early in 2022. The setting was where I imagined it best to get a couple to talk. This is how the chapter opened and at the very very end the last bit as the characters depart a fragment of conversation—

Happy New Year

Limantour Beach looking north where Snowy Plovers nest

Dawn was pristine. The air crisp, clean, the sky empty, the sea was true, chasmal…blue. No chop on the water; no cloud in the sky. Limantour Beach was alone, still, breathless. Not another soul had set foot here this morning, but for Ry and Finn. It was the first day, the New Year. They walked barefoot in the sand at the surf’s edge, acquainting their thoughts to the booze-soaked resolutions they’d taken the night before. The least waves arrived.  The Pacific was in repose between storms. The surf’s soundtrack was a languid slow curling muffled splashing that reverberated up and down the beach. 

Opportunity comes by way of a makeshift bench

A flock of sanderlings scampered along the edge of the water, plunging their beaks into opportunities, then dashing away from the onrush of the ocean’s stunted spume. One gull laughed, another cried, a young one begged. It was not a special day for them. The coastline curved northward and west, scribing a five mile long crescent, forming a protected anchorage once used by Sir Francis Drake. Beyond a ship’s reach estuaries penetrated the plateaus, lagoons and bays cut into the lands. Beyond beach were pickleweed, meadow, chaparral, dunegrass, and the incidental gnarled wind-sculpted tree. Here was a blend of earthen tones, tans, tawny, chalk-white, this green and that green, every mood of blue, yellow mooned… the whole of what the eye could find had been drizzled upon, ceaseless mists of water, gnawed by wind.  Here the world flowed and answered to scouring of eons by leaving its evidence to boggle even a scavenging raven’s curiosity. In sight of man was geologic, newborn continent pressed against the pelagic, a place of grinding forces, quaking,  its shifting iterations restated in the wink of one century’s eye. 

Dunegrass volunteering at entrance to Limantour

Jackie put her arm around Sophia and turned to walk toward the parking lot.

Ry hollered, “Hey Finny, come on, were leaving,”

Finn turned. Ry put his arm around Kristine. “There’s a good man inside that friend of mine.”

“Might be good.  I want to believe you, but he’s just about the most impossible man I’ve ever tried to hook up with.”

Jackie, walking with Sophia, said. “Men can be like the back seat of a car— might not be perfect, but sometimes the back seat will just have to do.”

Screenplay

Almost There— The After Times

Masking continues to be all the rage in my neighborhood. Head on over to Whole Foods in Lafayette you can see for yourself.  Gray haired Volvo drivers (I confess to nothing) are likeliest to be hand sanitizing maskers. 

Ever the Optimist on the Path

Younger clerks at cash registers prefer to go a la natural. It’s a mixed bag in the grocery game, down at the local health care providers scene you don’t get into a waiting room without a mask. 

Keep it small, go it alone, electing to take some care in these triple respiratory threat times seems prudent even if it is emotionally debilitating. My wife and I generally have found taking some risks to see friends and family are worthy meetups, pub crawling in congregate settings with a sneezy wheezy mob of strangers isn’t worth the trouble.

Testing, testing and more testing continues unabated. Travel plans have us both boarding planes in late January. One of us goes to Key West for holiday with her girls the other to Seattle to pleasure in winter wonderland with the other girl. Guess who travels north. 

March 20, 2023 we will mark the 3rd year of this ongoing worldwide pandemic. Tell me you are the same as I am— my larger circle of friends has been hard to keep in touch with. The inner circle, those closest intimates we’ve stumbled through the last 900 days together, sometimes visiting and at other times isolating.

Positively Scene Stealing

Little concessions litter my social meetup choices. Is it indoors or outdoors, is the weather going to cooperate, do they work in large congregate settings, do they have a lot of exposure to children, have they given up their masks, decided against getting the booster shots, do they still think Elon Musk is a genius— once you have the answer you will know whether you are going to risk being infected.

Arizona and Alberta are overheated frozen opposites. Calls to souls I know in Arizona uncover masking burnout, handwashing boredom, and a general sense of my Arizona people are just completely done with it. Neighbors to the north in Alberta are having a harder time, as much as they may be fed up with the pandemic the pace of transmission disallows they’re moving on. 

Life in Canada is an indoor affair during this time of year. Outside is refreshingly temporary where indoor life harbors stagnant unfiltered overheated air. You want to breathe go to Puerto Vallarta, you want to feel confined try life in a midrise condominium along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton.

The Seeds of Redemption

I can’t help but wonder about the current tensions playing out across the globe. Bolsonaro’s defeat in Brazil, the attempted coup in Peru, the ongoing tragic war of choice by Putin in Ukraine, the heroic women in Iran seeking their human rights, I would have imagined such turmoil could have waited while we stood the world’s economy back up on its feet. 

Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft are all going through a few things. Tesla has blown through the lower bound and is about to plumb the horrific depths of the brokerages up and down the line making margin calls on clients. Elon Musk rather than channel his inner Zelenski has revealed himself to be a Putin sympathizer. Admiration for war criminals by the formerly richest man in the world wasn’t on my list of predictions for 2022. Billionaires with thinning hair anxieties turns out to be predictive. 

Shooting baskets at the gym off hours alone is one place I go to get my heartrate up to some degree of healthful benefit. Walks in the neighborhood another. My wife and I get out together, she’d death march me if allowed, instead I throttle back, something like an hour is about right with a hill or two to climb, that’s proven to be good for my moods. 

There is a lot of texting, fewer voice calls, emailing is over. My sister is a terrific foil for my texts. My kid plays along as she can, when she can, she does have a job, thumbing her keyboard on her iPhone isn’t a priority. 

There is the shortlist of calls made on a routine basis to select friends. There is Waldo over on the Big Island. He’s good for laughs, lava flow updates and the gossip he hears while out at his favorite sunset oceanside overlook.

Sailors friends believe in dog—

Martin reaches out too, both of us are sailors, husbands and always plotting a quick out for the afternoon reach in fair winds off the beam. Dan a show business buddy, has taken up pickle ball coaching, and we meet for short walks and compare our offstage life to the onstage life we both until the pandemic hit had spent decades living in. Dave has decided to take a seat at a Ducati repair shop, speed and G-forces created by carved turns at the apex in a corner seems to be my friend’s current deep dive. We talk a lot about anything that is a machine, just so long as it has some pedigree, some claim to being a legitimate thrill-maker. We’ve both lost more championships than would be imagined based upon our unrivaled skills.

I’ve a brother-in-law in Kona that I talk to as often as he has the patience for. His life requires privacy so he might heal the scar of losing my sister almost two years ago. Mike down in Santa Clara updates but he’s swamped and demands on his time is large, running a full-time magic show enterprise as a solo requires your best effort, sometimes as a duo, and then often  as an ensemble cast for theaters does not leave much time to eat mushrooms and then room to gush metaphysically about the state of show business down here in the small time.

Another of my friend’s is a regular. Finally, his childhood is over, he’s now a full-blown adult and life’s urgency is an emergency, my favorite man-boy has turned 60. A terrific housekeeper, devoted hiker, incurable but too sincere to make even a dent in the high art of womanizing, more of a one man-one woman type, his inner constitution resembles a department store with a very well-staffed complaint department. Monogamy is fine, it isn’t commitment that he finds so uncomfortable as it is that other opposite thing— the bedrock sense of self-possession, his freedom to be safely separate, his mastering living alone is more than a controlling solitude, it has proven to be the most durable alliance, in his experience his solo arrangements have proven to be the key ingredient to the experience of being in a fully awakened soul. Quarreling and enlightenment never do well together. 

I experience this urge to be alone as the problem that comes from living in one place. I’m not suited to living somewhere. That is more the rub against the nervous system I was born with. Fortune has found the woman right for me love. My wife has as much wanderlust as mine, her ability to shape her travels into gainful enterprise differs from her poet laureate in his own imagination husband. I’m chasing sunsets, river valleys and campsite fires for the pure pleasure of being out there away from it all. The wife has made her itinerary a more practical affair, stuffing her purse with gold coins while out making the international rounds is her style, that is until her spirits are aroused, then it is her higher chakras, her soul’s appetite, it is her being asked to witness intangible human spirited wilderness that surpasses all her other many goals and responsibilities. Getting good at being present isn’t part of our current modern life. That’s why I believe dogs are so popular in this era, at least an uncomplicated devoted best friend that can’t talk back does provide some emotional support. An over wordy too chatty friend you can’t trust with your deepest darkest secrets resembles a roadside warning sign you would rather live without. 

This was the year of living with less physical contact, connecting with the few while wondering how to reach out to the many. I’ll surf the infectious wave of winter into a less virulent spring, by then I’m thinking we could be a fair piece further out of the pandemics grip, we can all plant our gardens, walk our dogs, call our friends and catch up with those good next outer circle of fabulous souls that make life all that much richer and more rewarding. 

Another Outbound Destination Unknown

I haven’t got over to the Prizefighter, a favorite Emeryville saloon, to inventory what remains of the staff I counted on to make my Manhattans and small talk. Some I counted as confidants, others to tell a tale and share a laugh. Best friend continuity matters but so do all those incidental unnamed acquaintances that pass through our lives. I’ve a long roster of lost now nameless friends that for the life of me I cannot remember. 

The pandemic I hope will spiral downward into irrelevance this next year. Friendships will regather momentum and the emotional damage of three years of isolation will be healed one week after another as we get on with the extended conversation that is sharing our lives. We are by the code of our genetics social animals and our running with the herd is our nature.

There are the before-times, there is this present-time, and there will come a less infectious after-times. I’ll meet you there, we can enjoy until one or the other of us become dull and rather a burden to be with. All this solitude does no favors to those of us that prefer to be alone. All of this will have to be sorted out and will be, things will turn out just as we’d hoped. 

As centuries go the start of this one has been nothing to sneeze at. With a little luck, vaccinations, treatments, masks and hand hygiene because there’s really no ceiling to how far hope may climb. 

I’ve got a script on my desk, is a comedy, taking on the challenges of the day, in this case an ever-drier American Southwest. 

Betty a water regulator trying to encourage— Papermaster, eating your girlfriend’s fresh baked bread is going to shorten your life—  

I’m on life support— Papermaster explains— my life’s already over. 

If we don’t get this right Papermaster, there won’t be anything out here on the shores of Lake Powell but lounge chairs and tobacco spitting cowboy’s looking for a god damn stray bull named— Titanic

Books · Performances

Caesars Palace Water Follies

Western state water negotiators met in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace. Everyone was there and nothing got agreed to, slow motion natural disasters allow participants time to stall.

Tanks for the Memories

As far as stalling goes sending everyone to the Vegas Strip where the deadlocked, stalemated and going nowhere negotiations could play out was at least good for the gaming industry. You want to play games with the future of the American West why not come here—

Many of the most capable spokespersons all set down the same talking points. There was talk of the threat to dead pools, surface evaporation rates, lawn removal, and the demise of the Salton Sea. 

I like that the Metropolitan Water District in Southern California said that until they knew how much water they could get from the Sacramento River Delta they couldn’t predict how much water they could live without from the Colorado River. 

Honorable mention has to go to lettuce growers down in Yuma for being the poster child for all the water that agriculture needs and wants. In point of fact it is and always was and always will be the alfalfa growers that remain the most protected group of water users that are about to be removed from the endangered species list.

The most talented orators in the ongoing century long fiasco known as the Law of the River understand there ain’t no use talking about taking alfalfa growers water away. Alfalfa has become the most invisible and most invincible crop to ever curse the veins of our riparian habitat. They got most of the water, they definitely got the most fearsome lobby, you want your career to grind to sudden end try crossing this grass growing group.

Get it— We are the fixers to the fix we are in

Here’s my best guess as to what’s going on right now. First, calls have been made to survey teams in the Sierras, Wasatch and Rocky Mountains. Right now we are above normal in snowfall totals, but Debbie Downer from the Geologic Survey continues to warn of the new normal, drier and slightly warmer climate continues to reduce total runoff once the spring melt gets underway. Debbie is such the bummer.

I’m going to take a swing at what I think happens next. The Department of Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation will call for draconian cuts by February, you’ll want to wait to announce those cuts until after the President’s State of the Union but before Valentines Day. 

They keep talking about cutting between 2- and 4-million-acre feet of water— let’s say they decide on 3-million-acre feet, and most of those foot-acres of water will come out of the water allocated to alfalfa growers in California. Smaller cuts will fall on the bit players in Nevada, Arizona and Utah. 

Again, friends, climate skeptics and Luddites let me stress that there is enough water for residential use but there is not enough water for what agriculture special interests want to do and that is to grow more alfalfa. 

Good decent hard working urban Americans are going voluntarily send help to these hard hit rural regions. What we have to do is help the rural alfalfa producers of the American West through what will be a wrenching economic transition to a new rural way of life.

Favorite Forlorn Outpost

Or— we can just extend and pretend and hope against hope that it will finally rain enough to bail us all out of the fix this 23 year long drought has put us in.

I’ve crunched the numbers, counted bodies, estimated river flow percentages and had a fair number of Prickly pear cactus margaritas preparing highly accurate projections of the fix we are in and the way to climb out of the dang dusty waterless mess we find the Southwest American desert stuck in.

What makes this hard isn’t the science, it’s not coming up with the answers, it’s the politics. Water is something you either have or you don’t have, there isn’t more water that we can have Congress vote on and pass then deliver to customers out here, there isn’t any water, and that is different than other kinds of things we are short of. 

Decent God fearing folk get their knickers in a knot when you start talking about how the world’s population is playing a role in the resource constraints we are experiencing. People do not want to talk about Debbie Downer taking birth control pills or making her own plans to have or not have a family. 

Alfalfa growers are akin to the same thing. Taking alfalfa out of production represents a kind of extinction event to this industry and they are not ready to have their crop sacrificed on the altar of this climate emergency, hell this thing isn’t even real, it’s all some horrible mistake, let someone else take the cuts, I want my water and I want to do whatever it is I’ve been doing.

Refer to the Above Sign— You Can Do It—

Once you get the space in your head to start thinking like the space inside the head of a farmer that’s been growing alfalfa for the last three decades you can see they just don’t think it’s fair. Again, figure farmers use most of the water out here and then most of the water farmers use goes to growing alfalfa. It turns out that if you start looking for sacrifice you need to go to the users that have been using most of the water. 

Try this piece of reality on for size. All the farm products in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and California combined are almost a rounding error to the region’s total gross domestic product. Farms use most of the water and return the smallest of all economic benefits to the region. That worked so long as we weren’t in the midst of global climate emergency and no longer works because we have got our civilization backed up against the wall of reality. 

Figure to that bellyaching you hear coming sometime after Valentine’s Day will make Kari Lakes moaning about election fraud sound like a whimper. 

Hope you find yourself meeting your better half under the mistletoe this week. Happy— happy peeps—

Books · Performances

Proletariat’s Rejuvenation—

The global proletariat thrill meter is pegged at infinite— I told you so.  Tesla’s stock has fallen from $384 a share to a close of $156 per today. It turns out the richest man in the world is no longer the richest man in the world. Trolling is misunderstood. Behaving like a privileged, adolescent, juvenile, white supremacist isn’t exactly going to endear you to mainstream audiences.

If you want to be a dick best to have come from the trashy dumpster fueled fires out there on the margins of society. Wealthy trolls are mispositioned. Kicking down is so unseemly. 

My trolling based on my social status is 100% kicking the ball up through the goalposts. There is just so much more of an advantage to not having my own private jet waiting on the tarmac to whisk me away to my own private island. 

Cryptic Symbol in Arts District

Machiavelli was a skilled observer of Italian political power. Bombastic digital libertarians’ deceitful masking’s are hardly the glorious mischief made during the last renaissance. Centuries has not improved the grift or flim-flam.

I fathom little but I do dig down until I hit what I’m looking for. I’m a big fan of Slim Pickins, the great Hollywood western character actor. Slim happened to like Kingman, Arizona and hung his spurs up there after his long-heralded career. Sad, Slim didn’t hang long gone at 64. 

In Dr. Strangelove its Pickins who rides the nuclear weapon out of the bomb bay down to its destination— that’s what I’m talking about.

Tossing your future into the meatgrinder that is running a social media platform if you do the due diligence would certainly have come with some red flags. Don’t you just hate it when people tell you that you can’t do something. 

William Randolph Hearst could have done a lot of things, he chose to buy newspapers. Hearst was a wealthy man, but all his newspapers didn’t make him a popular one.

Musk has blundered into a boxed canyon and now surrounded by hostiles occupying the high ground. The transponder on his private jet gives away his location. Tweets giving away his location are targeted for takedown. Freedom is relative, a billionaire’s insecurity is absolute.

One of my favorite Sinatra moments is ole’ Blue Eyes  onstage call-out to Orson Welles seated in the audience at one of his Flamingo shows in Las Vegas.  Sinatra understood you don’t do gossip column behavior when you’re the greatest saloon singer in the world, you stick to the entertainment sections of the newspapers. Welles and Sinatra were gracious to each other not combatants.

There’s no business like show business

I caught Bette Midler spinning Sinatra discs on his Sirius XM channel. Bette had not given much attention to Sinatra, then listening carefully one day bought some of his albums and concluded that his work as a musician stood on its own, that his work was all high class even if his offstage hijinks was in another category. Fair enough— we can’t all blow every category in life away— 

Somehow, perhaps these past few years of unbridled civic awful behavior, the churlish nature how we go about gaining visibility, the way people who might be showing some compassion for Jews, Blacks, lesbians, transsexuals, or drag queen performers is criticized as evidence of these sympathizers being overly compassionate, too empathetic, too bleeding-heart liberal— that this form of understanding of other’s plight is evidences of being woke.

Man, the trick is to turn compassion into a pejorative. Take a strength, swift boat the living snot out of the thing and turn it into a weakness. 

That gambit hasn’t played out completely just yet, but this jig is up, the bait and switch ain’t got no appeal, the mouse ain’t going for this stinking cheese on the trap no more.

Jane Goodall evaluating the physical and facial characteristics of one private citizen in Florida remarked that the visual cues observed by this scientist were remarkably chimpanzee like. To keep at bay challengers the chimpanzee swells their chest. That it is all bluff obscuring the fact that there is no beef. 

Surveying the list of attention seekers, I’m reminded of such stalwart journalists as James Fallows, EJ Dionne and Margaret Sullivan. While the chaos clickbait circus parades down the avenues of Twitter, Facebook and TikTok a cohort of cooler heads continue to behave much as they always have. Sometimes a particular topic isn’t quite as sexy as another, but it is still important to get the word out, for readers to read and know, and for all of us to increase our understanding.

Our world’s climate crisis is a difficult issue to report. How a hurricane in Florida, wildfire in Washington or the lack of water on the Colorado River are all intertwined, all pieces of the same problem, and that these natural disasters when modeled to help convey the seriousness of the moment challenge a reader to stay with the problem, not look away, not be drawn off the scent on the trail of fact, to not just know but be moved to help act.

Launching rockets into space, inventing a mass market electric automobile are examples of actions that help the world take a constructive path in the right direction. Purchasing a social media company and elevating yourself to the role of world’s once richest man troll is perhaps the biggest most expensive blunder of 2022. By comparison GameStop is a mere rounding error, FTX is a little bump in the crypto road. Incinerating $44 billion dollars on a vanity project, now that takes some major league miscalculating. 

Getting into Hot Water

I made a lot of predictions last year, some were real dull doozies, but I didn’t predict the world’s richest man who now is no longer the world’s richest man having the bimbo eruption of all bimbo eruptions to close out 2022. Sometimes you just can’t make this level of hubris up— this is the rocket man coming back down to earth— parachutes— I don’t need no stinking parachutes—