Category Archives: Performances

I perform all over the world- check out what I’m up to now!

Talent’s Lending Library

We say good morning from Sonoita, Arizona. I was overnight 15 miles west in Patagonia. Dinner hour was shared with an 88 year old poet, a modern day vaudevillian, the showman’s stalwart wife and pair of Golden retrievers.

Creative personalities are not rare. I’ve a broader definition now, the club isn’t so exclusive, a great many belong, many unaware how and where their special talent fits in.

I know painters, potters, jugglers and writers all producing good work and a living wage. They are explicit and their role has been perfected.

Picasso’s work is singular, there is not a second painter of his kind. Martha Graham is a one-off without any other choreographers influencing the world of dance with the same force. Frank Lloyd Wright set down a remarkable body of work through the buildings he imagined then had built.

Martha Graham lived to 97. Picasso and Wright died at 95. I would argue Wright’s work remained vital and only got better. Picasso did not shatter convention in the latter part of his career. Graham too possessed an intensity but had choreographed her most important work in the first half of her life.

The young and untested Burt Bacharach caught his first break playing piano, scoring arrangements for Marlene Dietrich. Then after he began writing music for Hal David’s lyrics. Then, they found Dionne Warwick in 1961. The talented trio produced some of the best popular music of the last century.

Elvis Costello teamed up with Bacharach and released Painted from Memory in 1998. The landmark album advanced Costello’s songwriting craft. What is worth noting is both Costello’s songs and lyrics benefited from Bacharach’s editing and revising. The collaboration passed the test, each made the other better, together the work verges on the best either has ever done.

Creative people are not rare, a great many fit the description. Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin, and Frank Sinatra were forceful performing artists of their generation. Sinatra, once he began recording in high fidelity seems to have left the world with the more durable body of work. Chaplin’s films are brilliant but unlike a Sinatra’s music the cinematic style of Chaplin is from another time. The best of Astaire’s work is there to see, but again you have to take the time.

Some of William Shakespeare’s work requires no special training to enjoy. Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Nights Dream and Othello are quite accessible. The breadth and depth of the plotting, characters and dialogue of all 36 of his plays is the best writing ever composed for theater. The productions Shakespeare mounted at the Globe Theatre on the Thames in London for the Royal Court is an intoxicating display of creative genius.

Creativity happens in the foreground, the present moment, and the creative types that are self aware know that in the background there is the body of work left for posterity by this pantheon of brilliant artists. Sondheim, Steinbeck and Coltrane all scaled the heights leaving the world singularly brilliant work.

The talented Carrie Schnepf with Lacey my Performing Dog

In 2000 I embarked upon a decade of shows, each October I would play the month at Schnepf Farms. Five days a week, five shows a day, performances ran 30-40 minutes. I worked for Carrie Schnepf. Carrie had a background in music and theater, she knew she wanted to produce something like what I had come up with, and together we took much time and effort figuring out how to make what I was doing work for her audiences at her farm.

Carrie’s husband Mark possessed less show business skills, he was after all a farmer, but Mark was supportive of our introducing the particular experience my show provided.

Much of my background was pure street theater. I’d come off a 20 year run in San Francisco. I was rebuilding the act. My target audience remained the same as ever, anyone of any age should be able to watch my show and enjoy. But, to fit into the family festival market in Arizona I needed to dial down the urban edge, bring a more open heart to the work, allow for the audiences to have a less bang-bang inner city show.

By now I had become a father, my daughter was 7 years old. She had retaught me how to see the world through a child’s eyes, something I’d promised myself I would never forget but by dent of time had slipped from my grasp.

Most of my work on the streets was aimed at the adults, not that children didn’t enjoy the show, but they were not my focus until now. Understanding the children and making more of an effort to be attuned to this faction in my audience changed everything. The changes I made were met with fresh bookings, new clients, a great many venues were suddenly eager for what I was doing.

From the start I had the pleasure of becoming a favorite with the Schnepf’s youngest son. Between shows I let the 6 year old play with my juggling equipment. The kid gravitated toward playing with the Chinese yo-yo. He picked up a few moves by accident as he interacted with the juggling equipment less as a student and more as if he was a mere child lost in a flight of fancy, he had no goals or plans, he just wanted to play.

All these years later I know Grayson as a grown man. He remembers the Chinese yo-yo, can still do a few moves, and has watched enough shows to have enough savvy to be sure to sell his moves with clever patter when he fools around with the juggling equipment.

I’m still swinging for the fences, trying to knock the ball out of the park. Whether it is writing a new show or finishing the next novel I remain in the hunt of expressing myself hoping that what I’ve come up with will resonate with my audiences.

Then, I saw a 27 year old Grayson Schnepf last weekend. It was a fine reunion. I had come out to the farm to walk around there in my old digs. In 2000 when I had come out to Queen Creek to perform on the farm it hadn’t been in my mind that I would have the opportunity to influence a young budding child’s imagination. That my creative process, also in some sense a spiritual process, an interpersonal process of call and response, where if I was to succeed I would need to connect to everyone and every opportunity.

What the young Grayson imagined was that my itinerate life of traveling town to town working with people, spreading laughter and intrigue, sharing my particular knack for pulling people in and how this happiness was authentic, infused my life through and through, that the young son to a farmer recognized close up how even a less celebrated, less famous, less acclaimed performer could forge a viable creative life.

I’d imagined I’d created memories for a thousand audiences, that essentially what we call a show was an experience that can be many things, good or bad, easily dismissed, forgotten or remembered, or perhaps even something singularly formative, something that may change the course of another person’s life.

I’ve spent the week thinking about Grayson, how my being simple, uncomplicated and open to the young man while he was still in his earliest chapters of his childhood I had provided an unguarded glimpse into the creative process, that I was content, that my work had made for a fulfilling life, that not anything else on the farm, not the petting zoo, the carousel ride or the fire roasted corn could duplicate the experience I was providing for the farm’s audiences.

Grayson I know as an extraordinary talent. Whatever he does with his life a good portion of his success will come from his creativity, his imagination, his playfulness and in part because I had by accident given him a firsthand glimpse of a performer in pursuit of a life of authentic self expression. Last weekend I struck creative pay dirt, I got to see how I nudged one young man a little further down the road to living his best (creative) life.

Glen Canyon Dam Meets Strangelove

Not so ancient foot

In New Mexico ancient human footprints have been discovered at White Sands National Park. Scientists have identified adolescent sized prints to 23,000 years before present. Our first people moved along the coastline netting fish for food while drifting south by sea craft. Insight into this migration is likely rendered impenetrable by the expanding ice sheet of 26,000 years ago that scrubbed away evidence of our first ancestors’ migration patterns.

Second route of the ancients was taken by traveling inland. Prior to the last glacial maximum, I’m speculating here, was likely about 30,000 years before present. This was a warmer and wetter American West. Massive lakes some hundreds of miles in length in Nevada, Utah and New Mexico created habitat for safe travel along the shore in floating vessels while hunting and gathering.

The Winnemucca Rock Art near Nevada’s Pyramid Lake dates back to 14,800 years before present. This is the earliest example of human created artistic behavior in North America. Much further north and dating back 23,000 years before present in the Yukon’s Bluefish Caves there is evidence of the first people having settled in this region of North America.

Mexico’s Chiquihuite Cave hints at human activity dating back 30,000 years before present.

Riparian of Arizona Santa Cruz River

Sixty miles southeast of Albuquerque there is dry lake bed and then further south is White Sands National Park. We haven’t any evidence of whether these first people arrived from the north or the south. What we do know is that it was warmer and wetter that the lakes were a source of fresh water and food. The Pueblo People are the descendants of these first immigrants.

Most intriguing is that these first people may have arrived, but it would be tens of thousands of years before they transitioned from hunter-gatherer’s and built permanent settlements.

Early man began to experiment with cultivating plants, corn or maize is the most well-known crop, but there was also potato, squash, beans, and sunflower.

Diné Homeland

The people named the Anasazi suddenly vanished from this region about 800 years before present. These first people had developed the pueblo and their abandoning the dwellings was thought to be the result of climate change and drought. New theories speculate that there is evidence of tension between tribes and potential of mass killings, enslavement, and cannibalism. The lack of water may have set in motion a more predatory behavior between the various groups settled in this region.  

Perching as they did on the cliffs appears to be designed as a fortress structure. The cliff dwellings were not built to withstand water scarcity. After the end of the last ice age, while the climate shifted from wetter to drier conditions no longer favored a people living in this region. The vast system of freshwater lakes begin evaporating and are gone in just a few thousand years.

A wave of immigrants then swept across the continent introducing Old World technology to a New World. Coal was burned to power the steam engine, then oil was refined to power the piston engine. There were sewers and water wells. By 1895 hydroelectric power stations began making electricity available to the masses.

A straight line connects the carbon based energy system of the Industrial Revolution to the climate emergency.

Traveling across the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona and New Mexico the evidence of our first people is scattered across a vast landscape. Genetic markers identify the Korean peninsula as the origin of these people. Navajo prefer the name Diné to identify the people of their nation.

The ancestors of the Diné have been in North America for tens of thousands of years. The new human inhabitants evolved with a climate that grew warmer and drier, at this same time period animals such as camel and mastodon vanished into extinction.

These first people began to fabricate cliff dwellings and whole villages, fields were cultivated and farmed diverting water from the adjacent rivers. The Diné describe water as a living spirit, that the rivers, lakes, sun and earth are key to unlocking the miracle of life.  

Waterways

As the Department of the Interior rolls out the non-carbon based renewable energy system for this new century Biden’s Build Back Better plans is to enlist the wisdom of our indigenous people in our effort to reimagine our economy.

The Industrial Revolution was powered by and is still dominated by use of fossil fuels. We’ve altered our climate and it is now clear that mankind has unleashed all manner of trouble upon itself. It is the culture of our first people who have lived here longer than any other people, that it is the Diné who have sought out a means of being here in harmony with the earth. For our world to survive we would be wise to enlist the talents of all our tribes, each part of our many people can contribute to this transformational journey.

Embracing a multicultural path to fixing our energy system is only one of many existential challenges confronting the American West. Wildfire, heatwaves, and drought are the tip of the spear to the changes bearing down upon this region.

Most urgent is the persistent loss of water flowing into the Colorado River. Constructing both the Glen Canyon and Hoover Dam’s occurred during an era that was unusually wetter than at present.

Appointed by Bill Clinton former Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation Daniel P Beard in 2015 concluded that the time had come to remove the Glen Canyon Dam. What prevents this right decision from being taken? A set of interlocking stakeholders that receive subsidized water. The unfettered flow of the Colorado River water to western landholders is about to be shattered.

Beard dubbed this group of lucky water rights holders the water nobility. The senior most water rights holders have been allotted subsidized water worth thousands and thousands of dollars that they would then use to grow hay crops worth hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

Water law is complicated but the problem it has created is not. Too much water is being wasted growing too many crops unsuited to this region’s climate. Members of the Water Nobility have outsized wealth created by receiving an irrationally bestowed entitlement. This is the people’s water, it is for all of us, not just the lucky few. But the current stakeholders will fight to keep what they’ve mistakenly come to believe is their water.

Diné farmland

What we’ll see play out over the next years are negotiations between Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, and our international neighbor to the south Mexico. Every stakeholder is going to demand more, and all will come away with less, some will lose access altogether.

The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Agriculture will attempt to bring an end to subsidizing crops grown with subsidized water. The firestorm these changes setoff are going to be monumental. But the climate emergency is now upon us and with its arrival the American West finds itself struggling to divide up less and less to the point where there is no more water to divide up.  

Knowing full well that they will fight to the last drop, surrendering nothing, arguing over everything, never agreeing to anything, holding out as the American West is brought to the brink. This is the tragedy of the commons playing out before our very eyes. The pending negotiations over how to share what water remains in the Colorado River does not yet dominate the headlines, but this crisis even if it rains this next season is going to pit state against state all too soon.  

Postscript… I’m preparing a new plot to a comedy. Some pieces of the water crisis will be folded into this struggle. I see this as Little Big Man and Dr. Strangelove doing battle with the Monkey Wrench Gang. I remind myself while trying to plot this story that Hayduke and Mandrake are both still very much alive!

The Golden Gate Garbage Company

Mike Stroud and Dana Smith circa 80’s

The burn rate was high, and the hits were few. Most of the routines washout even before tested in front of an audience. Still the new material offers clues. You’ll take this add that and try it out.

My two dogs always are at the top of the mind of people who have seen my act. Because so much of the material was an odd mashup of various elements it was often difficult to explain what might have caught the attention of someone.

Songwriter on road in Homer, Alaska 2005

For some years I opened with ball spinning and fire juggling and then finished with the dog. Unpacking the details isn’t often much help when prodding the memories of audience members.

Someone would offer— He did something with the dog— Fair enough. So, there was a dog in the act? Yeah, the dog was good—

Vancouver British Columbia 1990

I’ve written lyrics and music for ukulele throughout my years drifting town to town doing shows. The ukulele was quite the constant companion. Sometimes I admired a particular piece of music and would put my own farcical lyrics to the tune. My originals where I did both song and lyrics are hardly jewels, but a few turned out, they’re not too bad.

I was influenced by Tin Pan Alley, Cole Porter, Sammy Cahn, Rodgers and Hart, Ira Gershwin, Frank Loesser and so many others. Chord changes to a tune like My Funny Valentine twist and turn at a quicker pace. When you only have four strings the chord change tempo helps.

Lacey Christmas Show San Francisco 2003

Both dogs provided the on-cue barks to How Much is that Doggie in the Window. The tune provided a sentimental touch to my act, softening my personality, helping to add another dimension. I’ve played this tune in performance well over 10,000 times. You can see one version with Sunshine on my posted videos at this site.

Sunshine Miami, Florida 1987

The Golden Gate Garbage Company never got much attention. Both Mike Stroud and I had more polished solo shows, but we banged out more than a few sets in front of audiences. While working dates in Montana in 1988-1989 we got a chance to play this material atop a flatbed truck trailer to an enthusiastic remote and isolated wheat growing community along the border of Canada and North Dakota.

That was then and this is now. Here for your pleasure the shows signature tune…

Garbage Man…

operating manual to the future

Last Show the Last Day in Grand Prairie

For the past two decades Grand Prairie has been a notable stop while out playing the Canadian festival circuit. Sixty-three thousand make their home tucked up against the Rockies where a boundless prairie hits its westernmost edge. Further south a favorite hot spring, Miette in Jasper National Park beckons after a month of shows. I do love getting myself into hot water.

 Grand Prairie is located come boom or bust on two of the largest oil and gas plays in North America, the Montney and Duvernay basins. You want to play politician in this region then you are immediately sucked into the commodities market. The price of rapeseed, pulp timber, and natural gas are the leading indicators of your political viability polls.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau somehow (take that America) passed a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade type arrangement, promising to disburse the funds back to the nation’s taxpayers. There’s a lot of moaning, groaning, finger pointing, blame gaming and outright calls from the prairie provinces for secession, this one named after a bunny rabbit, a Wexit. The alleged unfairness of this taxation has sparked outrage among a handful of hotheaded Albertans they echo the same sentiments of some yahoo types down in Wyoming.

The Carbon Tax Hat Trick

Circumstances remain much the same for Wyoming and Alberta.  Nobody wants to be the fool politician who advocates for exiting from the fossil fuel business. Trudeau isn’t saying he wants to exit, he’s just capping and trading, hoping the price signal will wink-wink, nod-nod its way down in value while renewable technologies and other more tenable business opportunities emerge.

Politics being the art of the possible and not the perfect kind only got half a loaf on this cap-and-trade tax. I’d have urged Ottawa, hell I’d urge Washington to put a tax on fossil fuels and instead of rebating this tax to every voter across the fruited plain instead target the revenues to the communities that are getting hammered by the changes. Targeting is the operative concept here, if you work in Midland this doesn’t go lost on you.

Fearless Spectator in Hot Water

Instead, Alberta’s Premier Jason Kenney has been fighting to get his province’s fossil fuels pumped to Houston through the on again-off again XL Keystone Pipeline. Fighting to keep the fossil fuels flowing Kenney has run off into the wilds of wonderland issuing a report grounded in climate-denial science, bizarre conspiracy theories and oil-industry propaganda. The Oglala Lakota Water Protectors have found our new President Biden joining their fight in the neverending eternal work of keeping their peoples water pure and safe.

Wyoming don’t you worry about coming in second place in the smear and fear game, try this on for size, there is “a new breed of zealots less interested in saving Planet Earth than in destroying the capitalist system.” 

Having suffered a fresh bout of insurrection down here in the lower forty-eight I’m urging the loyal good natured hosts in Alberta to stay calm as tyranny and revolution are overrated.  

Street Show in Sexsmith near GP

One man’s gridlock is seen by another man to be obstruction. In Page, Arizona the Navajo with coal power becoming uncompetitive took the decision to shut down the reservations coal powered generation station. Hundreds of Navajo are out of work, the coal mine that supplied the fuel for the station contaminated their groundwater, and there is no help from Washington on its way. Seventy-five more uncontrolled coal powered generating station shutdowns scattered across the nation are going to inject their economic turbulence into the venomous politics of our present moment.

Touring across Canada and the United States I have done shows among all the various impacted communities. My most recent visit to Grand Prairie was in July 2019. I have played the Navajo Nations schools and libraries many times, the most recent in 2016. I can’t speak for these people, but I can feel for them, and support their effort to create jobs, grow opportunities for their children, help enable a viable self-sufficiency, not neglect, not ignoring their problems, but opening doors to the 21st centuries renewable energy system.

One of 75 Slated to Close

I’m going to Denver this week before I go here’s what I’d recommend. First, when the Navajo Power Generating Station was built in 1970 renewable energy systems were expensive and unproven. Today many remote Navajo living off grid without access to water could get electricity using solar panels, batteries and inverters. The costs remain an obstacle but they’re getting lower and we cannot afford to leave this precious natural resource, our nations first people, behind. Helping nurture our partners sovereign nation will be a boundless blessing. Where to get the funds? A cap-and-trade tax on carbon. Calm down!

How about Alberta? How are we going to figure out how to untangle this hot cowboy hatted mess of commodity addicted Canadians? I’d urge Ottawa to repurpose their carbon tax funds and aim them directly at the people with the most to lose, and that would be the communities hit by the changing energy system.

Working for a Living

Putting whole regions of North America into economic freefall because some politicians have no stomach for helping its workers, because certain partisans can’t stand government using its ability to organize and respond to a crisis, because they can’t utter the much despised three letter word TAX!!!! Not being capable of using our collective power to nurture change isn’t going to get the job done.

I say get on your horse and ride or dismount and handover your spurs. If you don’t have the guts to try we may just need a better posse for the job.

Instead of fighting efforts to rein in climate changing pollutants, maybe start fighting to help your workers transition into the new economy. I’m plenty sure there is no cheap or easy way around this crisis, but there are reality based ways we can respond. Saddle up, time we head this trouble off at the pass.

world emergency full catastrophe climate change comedy show

Wildfire Evacuee Worried Look

Showmen turn a buck creating entertainments. Producing a live entertainment, large or small, one man or cast of thousands, in almost all circumstances are based on sustaining an audience’s attention.

Comedy pleases audiences by laugh and wit. Tragedy appeals by illustrating the fault of a character in a story and how their demise becomes an enlightened vehicle to lift the audience’s spirits.

I’m not a scientist, don’t work for the Pentagon, have no specific training in weather forecasting, forest management or background in urban planning. For some years now our climatologists have urged the creative’s in our world to come up with art to help make the climate emergency unfolding before us into a popular attraction.

Intercoastal mountains running 450 miles north to south from Bakersfield to Redding are hot dry and prone to wildfire

Years back the Pentagon warned that the coming climate crisis risked plunging large swaths of the world into crisis and rendering them ungovernable. Prodding an audience’s imagination into conjuring up what an ungovernable piece of shrinking ice for a polar bear might look like isn’t going to get the artists job done.

The magnitude of California’s climate change enhanced wildfires is of such scale and scope that it has now emerged as the preeminent threat to civilization. Governor Gavin Newsom is a gamer in my book, but the mere mortal leader is up against the wall concocting a solution to this monster.

Making our cars all electric by 2035 is a step in the right direction. I have a movie by Busby Berkeley that might help if you find it difficult being kept waiting.

Reality in California includes reading news about wildfires, remaining indoors because of air quality, and then finding out you know someone that has lost their house or been forced to evacuate.

Easy or difficult, tears or laughter, sick or poor, in good health or on our death bed’s chances are we’ll have to mount an earnest effort if we are going to take a shot at solving our planets problems.

I’m imagining solar panel installation gags, more renewable Don Quixote and his loyal servant Sancho Panza tilting at windmill skits, Back to the Future lithium battery Elon Musk in the laboratory sketches. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not so hard.

Wine Country Wildfires since 2015

I’m imagining doors you don’t want to open, characters warning other characters not to open it, don’t go in there, and of course they do, and come out comically transformed. Make it cartoon like, you know, burnt to a crisp like Wiley E Coyote and his nemesis the Road Runner of Merry Melodies and Loony Tunes cartoon fame.

There have been 7,982 fire incidents in California in 2020 with 3,627,010 acres total acres burned. There have been 7,630 structures damaged or destroyed and at least 26 fatalities as of Sept 28. The coronavirus has claimed 16,000 Californian’s. There are an estimated 151,278 homeless living on our streets. That’s a burden on our spirits, terrible losses to tally.

40 million all left to wonder what is to come of California

That’s where we are, this is the fine mess we are in. To my way of thinking, neither plastering optimism or negativity on our challenges, we need to remind ourselves how much better we all do as a people simply helping to build a better future for our world.

So, I started out with the Royal Lichtenstein Quarter-Ring Sidewalk Circus, and at the time this show seemed to speak to the moment and lift the worlds spirits. After five decades chasing audiences around the world, I’m thinking of launching a new show, the current working title is, The World Emergency Full Catastrophe Climate Change Comedy Show.  A good show needs a snappy slogan. How about, “I swear to God, you’ll die laughing!”

Work with me people, these are the jokes.

 

Chicken on the head

Lacey leaping through her hoop for a doggie biscuit

The Godzilla of guffaws, the legendary Carl Reiner passes over to the other side where he’ll be opening for George Burns and Gracie Allen playing to the better angels in the longest running show … eternity.

I’ve had a good 46-year run. Remaining in show business is a basic genetic drive. Doing whatever it takes is in the tissue. You will gladly live out of a suitcase, sleep on a park bench, and travel constantly forsaking family and friends for one more crack at that audience waiting to see the act.

Sabbaticals are custom made for pandemics. Now is an especially good moment to put the act down.

Writing a new bit, rehearsals, practicing your moves, perfecting a new stunt is all well and good but show people count on the juice an audience gives them. We are adrenaline junkies. We live for the buzz. If you can tolerate deprivation you too can hitch your wagon to the dream.

Here on the wayback machine in the video below are several routines. my idea of comedy is well, more or less just my idea and to some hardly the stuff of paying the bills even if as it happens it did.

I know your time is valuable, skip ahead if you must, but do yourself a favor and enjoy my work with a live chicken. You’ll enjoy. As I said so many times, “we’re just a couple of old clucks looking for a couple of young chics…”

world savings account

What is not visible to the readers who drift by is that behind the scenes I am wrangling my fourth novel to the finish. I completed the manuscript a few years back and had to set it aside knowing it needed reworking. I didn’t have the stomach for the challenge. There’s a good final draft somewhere to be found in this body of prose and I am doing what I can to complete a splendid fourth novel. Don’t count me out just yet.

My newest work begins in Napa County at the Calistoga Fairgrounds. The fairground was temporarily turned into an evacuation center for the victims of the Lake County Fire. The September 2015 fire was a real event that was folded into a fiction.

Since I began work on this fourth novel there have been a score of monumental fires here and most recent of all in Australia. Here the Lake County Fire burned about 100,000 acres, destroyed about 1800 buildings and killed 4. I have written with all the heart and passion I could muster about this tragedy. Since, another fire and then another fire in the wine country has devastated this part of California.

Fire in this great state is a symptom of an increasingly climate change damaged environment. There are more fires, they are bigger, hotter and more frequent. In some sense they begin to dwarf the plot I had pieced together in 2015 when I had initially set out to do this work.

In Australia the world has witnessed fires that have consumed 15 million acres. You may google the tally if you want more numbers, but they are just numbers and caring survivors attempts to visualize and scale up their imaginations to such monumental size is a difficult task.

I had wanted to write a pleasant pastoral wine country story when I first started plotting my fourth novel. But the climate emergency took over. The urban-wildfire interface was once a rather obscure and irrelevant topic. That was a threat for residents living outside Missoula, Montana.

For years I reserved my environmental concerns to such faraway places as The Great Barrier Reef, Amazon Jungle or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As the size of our problems increased I failed to keep up, to scale my imagination and to reconfigure the plots and purposes of my fiction more work was demanded.

Whole revising my fourth novel one takeaway is that I went far too easy on the events that helped shape this story. Planning commissioners, Board of Supervisors, agricultural special interests and the ordinary citizens caught in the midst of all these forces battling for supremacy have behaved ever more horribly than I had fictionally foretold.

Since the story recounts the fight to save a few thousand acres along the eastern ridge of what forms the Napa Valley a wildfire has since done great damage to this land. If developed the new homeowners will undoubtedly insist firemen come risk their lives not if but when the next big wildfire sweeps through. Further development in the surrounding hillsides of Napa County is untenable and should not be permitted.

In Sacramento the insurer’s that sell coverage for homes in California are contemplating a ten-fold increase in the price of a policy for homes situated near an urban-wildfire interface zone. Homes in such diverse locations as Mill Valley, Lake Arrowhead or perhaps even Palo Alto are looking at having to pay $10,000 per year for fire protection.

None of this makes a novel. I mean what does the price of tea in China have to do with the human condition. Perhaps the difference now is that the problems we are facing are of such scale, contain the seeds of existential catastrophe, threatening virtually all life, a growing menace of such magnitude that small bore stories become irrelevant.

I wish my manuscript was in better shape and I could move on with my next. I’m researching a groundwater water grab attempt up in Northern Nevada by the Las Vegas Water District located way to the south. Nevada’s Las Vegas Goliath is roaming the American West in an attempt to quench the desire to sustain the construction boom.

We’ll see where this takes my writing. I think it needs to be funny no matter what else. We’re going to need to laugh while we try to save the world. I know that to be fundamental fact.

Now I prepare to ride by train from San Francisco Bay to Reno, Nevada where I will encamp with busking friend in Silver City to enjoy a view out his window of nearby Mustang and on Sunday momentary diversion of a good playoff game.

Writing can be quite something, beautiful and moving. When writing is redemptive, inspires, calls a soul to take action, and looks without flinching at our circumstances, it is in this direction our hard work is best aimed.

Bacon Wrapping

Back to the Basics

Facts like cholesterol are stubborn things.  Eating meals described as whole food plant based at first blush seems simple enough. Try eating oats not oat flour, eat oranges not orange juice, eat dates not sugar processed from sugar beets.

The civilized world doesn’t seem to be able to do anything with Brussels sprouts. Cafés tend to prepare Brussels sprouts by first boiling, then slathering in various oily glazes, smothering in onions, frying and spicing until the little devils submit and surrender.

Snobbery is a fantastic thing and has spread to every corner. Condo owners in downtown San Diego are intolerable and for good reason. Portlanders are unbearably smug and superior coffee drinking people. By the time you whittle the list down to Buddhists and Vegans, well there is no higher ground.

Compared to describing what you eat as “whole food plant-based” and instead using the term “vegan” to explain your dietary lifestyle possesses so much more concision. Describing yourself to being a vegan means you can be superior without being long-winded. With one word you have identified yourself with the non-keto types. You are part of a movement sweeping the globe. Just like that you have set yourself apart. You are a plague upon every happy hour within driving distance of a tennis court.

Pasta as Canine

Wherever you might end up on this crazy ride called life it is reassuring to know that the universal truth that everything tastes better wrapped in bacon transcends gimmicks, fads and hysteria. From the most splendid penthouse in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights to the smallest casitas sited on the lowest point in Death Valley all of minor god’s hungry creatures rejoice in the glory of wrapping this that or another thing in bacon.

Disinvitation like a spike pounded into a naughty vampire’s heart is how to cope with veganism. Give vegans free range. Let these quirks of human evolution go ahead and believe they will live longer even if all the bacon wrapped in everything believers know they will live a far shorter but far happier satiated life.

This is how omnivores will contain this rising dietary superiority craze. Lower blood pressure, declining cholesterol levels and being in the possession of measurably improved triglycerides cannot possibly be the path to the cessation of suffering. In fact, this trifecta of vegan tyranny must only make matters worse.

Barcelona for Calcots con salsa Romesco…

How many well meaning otherwise normal, wrap bacon in everything hosts, have been stricken with excessive stress while trying to prepare a vegan acceptable deli tray? That their surprise parties have collapsed in upon themselves does no measurable good. Helping vegans is not just a thankless task, it is a bacon wrapped in everything guilt ridden task.

An acquaintance suggests that “we can ill afford to let vegans gain further traction, distracting us as they will provoking us to have even one second thought about how we use or do not use bacon.” Bacon shaming cannot be allowed to become a thing. A bacon-less world is not a world most of us can imagine. Living pig free is an alternate universe. The world famous BLT is the Holy Trinity and Miracle Whip of high sandwich arts.

It is unlikely the people against wrapping things in bacon will ever outnumber people advocating for bacon wrapping.

Bacon wrapping, television and Facebook are those rare but necessary inventions. No matter how much weight we gain, how annoying the commercials or how awkward and antisocial Mark Zuckerberg is there are things we will just have to put up with for the greater  bacon wrapped in everything good.

Dividing our world in two, one group wrapping everything in bacon and the other merely existing in some sort of hellish bacon free reality is almost impossible to imagine. As bacon eating collapsed and the ensuing swine extinction event threatening the pig’s barnyard existence how would our world cleave itself into two more easy to understand shame based factions?

Slaughterhouses would become a thing of the past. A sow’s ear would cease to exist? Pork belly futures would be delisted from the Commodity Futures Trading Association. Even the great billionaire Sheldon Adelson understands the basics of successful enterprise. There is no such thing as a bacon free casino. Bacon free and gambling is joined at the hip with whiskey, tobacco and access to reasonably priced hookers.

As all of you know bacon wrapping will end on the same day as the pigs learn to fly. An International Vegan Wing Building Convention is on the schedule for the Sands in Vegas. Toothpick futures are down and the best thing ever to happen to cantaloupe has now been thrown into doubt.

plant-based bullionaire

Fake Fish Swimming with Invisible Pink Elephants

Grizzled whiskey drinking desperados that run their high horse my way can find themselves ambushed when what I carry in my saddlebags comes to light. After a good long run of roast beef, mash potatoes and berry pie alamode change has come to this slicker’s campfire.

You might be a living breathing voting Democrat, or you could be a lowdown useless card-carrying member of the Communist Party but that is of little concern here in the partisan highlands of this blog. If by some odd chance you find yourself an under assault omnivore, perhaps some sort of wishy-washy pescatarian, maybe you are one of those mostly vegetarian types, heaven help you if you are, then I’ve a few choice words to roil the waters at the start of this new decade.  

The Heat is On

I had a rendezvous with my cholesterol destiny three years back. The expiration date on eating whatever the hell I damn well pleased had been term limited out. Took some digging to separate the dietary facts from the do your thing fiction. Basically, I had a statin prescribed future dead ahead unless I changed what I had been putting on my table.

Behavior is a driver. Job one was getting my head out of the way, so my stomach had a shot at getting in touch with its better digestive juices. You have to take a fearless look around inside the inner cookie jar, see the messy rising sea of desire for what it is then you are able to set off on a journey to a lifetime of whole food plant-based deliciousness. I know that last sentence sounds like an impossibility wrapped in an atheist pretending to be a Catholic but come let’s think together beyond the boundaries of mule-headedness and non-Viagra induced rigidity.

Rare Incident, Group Whole Food Plant Based Meal

Started out on my journey first thing I went on the wagon. No booze. Clear the sky, see the sober truth, get comfortable in your own bones. The alcohol reset button helped. We’ve since switched this button back to on, but to show mercy to my liver this switch is not been swung wide open. Think of this tactic as involuntary moderation.

Pétillant Naturel, or Pét-Nat, for short… The méthode ancestrale was originally used in Limoux in the south of France in the early 16th century

Next, kick the meat, fish and poultry out. Three months later dairy is banished.  If you do all of this, you have now landed your spaced-ship on the world of whole food plant based egg free eats. But, wait their buckaroo there’s more misery than a rattlesnake bite dead ahead. You dial back the salt and sugar. Cocky about all these fetes of discipline, deluded as ever, thinking you are done, but no, there’s a horse to break and cow to punch. That mirage shatters with a glimpse of your profile in a full-length mirror. That oil free cooking pan, a scan pan, you go out and get one of those pieces of metropolitan high dollar cookware. Nobody said it would be easy or cheap. Getting your weight down is in part a devious means of lightening that load in your wallet.

Sophisticated Potatoes

The good news is that with a little effort, patience and sticking to it you’ll get satiated when eating whole food plant-based grub. After some considerable practice when a meal lands in my stomach I can hear that caloric signal in my head loud and clear. Takes about two months in solitary whole food plant-based confinement to get there. The only other hell on earth near as awful to a man might be his banishment to a sofa in the living room on account of his being insensitive when not listening to every word of guidance coming from his agitated mirror to his soul.

Back to behavioral challenges (this is where the rubber meets the road.) Around other delicate appetite out of control souls I have found a profound sea of gustatory tumult. No Darwinian survival of the fittest creature eats food based upon the science. People eat by stomach driven passions. You get in the way of another man’s inner pork chop and you may find yourself bacon wrapped, deep fried and relegated to the garbage disposal of relationships.

Scratch Made Ramen

Whole food plant-based eating can be tasty, fun and healthy for you. First things first you will want to know is that there is considerably more chopping and chewing involved. Takes some practice to prepare enough variety of recipes to achieve escape velocity, to travel to the world of variety versus being stuck in the rut of dietary sameness.

Once word spreads you are a whole food plant-based eating broccoli lobbing extremist you’ll have to put knee pads on and beg your way into your friends’ social calendar and all those exclusive dinner parties you once enjoyed. You’ll wake up and come to the heartbreaking realization you are no longer invited on over for weekend barbecues. Waitresses will do what they can, but you would be surprised to learn how few people know in the strictest sense what whole food plant-based eating entails. The cheese and bacon on everything crowd learns real’ quick that preparing meals without these animal-based food groups renders their talent for cooking to the rear of the chow wagon and their hash slinging is essentially unpalatably uninhabitable.

Whole Food Plant Based People

Those old duds in the closet you couldn’t throw away all of sudden fit you again. Life is pretty good even if you are lonely now on account of your no longer believing you have any right to eating all that honey those bees worked so hard to store in their hive. Being kind doesn’t have to be limited to your dog, cat or parakeet. Doesn’t advice like that just get right under your skin? I’m still working up having strong feelings for silkworms. Spiders in my neighborhood I’ll tell you they do breathe easier these days. Mosquitoes still got it pretty tough in these parts, but then I just can’t see my way to giving termites a pass either. Did I tell you about my earthworms and ladybugs? I even like malignant narcissists but the truth is I’ve never been able to finish a whole one.