Tag Archives: Busker

Tender Mercies for Billionaires

The Asphalt Jungles Self Reflection

Now we Darwinian types do prefer our coffee black and we’ll take our capitalism as wild and predatory as nature itself. Social stabilizers, rules to the road, well regulated markets are for softies.

The era of abundance is over. I never got a crack at enjoying the thing while it was around.

So what we are left with after a really good party is clean up. Lights up, janitors enter, brooms sweep floor, windows cleaned, put everything out in the trash. If you were at the party hope you met someone and got their number.

I love fundamentals. I do like a good big overarching construct. I want a bucket I can put the whole thing into. I enjoy whiling away the afternoon at an outdoor café in animated discussions with friends while we whittle away at the coming next best system.

For circus stunts by bloated corporations that are too big for their own britches there is the failure of the marketplace to put them out of their misery. They can’t change. They pay their management too much. They’re service is second rate. I thought they were talking about me for a second. I do love a good thriller.

Little Guys working for the Big Guys

And then there is this nasty thing called governance. Those Northern European’s have the nerve to tax high, regulate with zeal, and produce heaps of what Stiglitz refers to as Gross Domestic Happiness! It is enough to make a free market ideologue puke. What a bunch of babies.

The Soviet Union collapses, Germany reunites and that is awesome! Capitalism takes steroids. The world levers up and synthetic derivatives are the worlds new playboy party dolls.

The Chinese look at this minestrone soup of freewheeling market driven chaos and see opportunity. “You want imports? We can do that.”

The world is in a deer in the headlights moment. To get anything done we have to thank globalization for requiring that we now have to do it all together. After watching Washington try to make sausage one can only begin to imagine what a really big world wide banquet might look like.

I love a good musical. I love it when there is that magical scene when some character at the top of their lungs yells STOP! And right on cue everybody freezes right where they are. It’s amazing, and it’s make believe, it’s a theatrical device, but it isn’t reality. The reality is that we have to keep going, whether it works out or not.

All I know is that food stamps are a paradoxical concession to the Darwinian capitalists search for perfect economic liberty.

And then for the closing scene this little guy grabs a mirror and holds it up to the face of the big shot.

The big shot running his fingers through his hair says, “I can’t afford to take a haircut.”

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Liberace as Lightening Rod

A House is not a Home

I think it is obvious. Some things are transparent. You can see right through them. Some people behave in such a manner and some places are like that too. What you see is what you get.

In Washington DC there exist walls and fences. There is the secret service. There are barricades to stop vehicles from getting close to buildings. Ballistic glass is used in vulnerable locations where pot shots might be fired at someone’s favorite target of spite.

I’m somewhat surprised that the R’s are thinking that what they really want to do is get rid of the United States Post Office. I thought the post office was one of the first institutions to “harden” their official sites.

In Berkeley where I lived the post office counter was dissected by inch thick plexiglass, customer on one side while trusted civil servant was on the other.

You see? Liberals send and get mail inBerkeley. Progressive people live progressively in this town. The pugilist of pugnacity of all things economic Robert Boom-Boom Reich teaches at the university. The fire breathing left of center economics professor Brad DeLong teaches there too.

I think we better order two inch thick plexiglass now that I think of it. DeLong and Reich happen to be greatly admired by this writer. Both served in theClintonadministration and after serving have come out from behind the ballistic glass and barrier fences to walk among the people again.

WashingtonDCI am happy to say is a charming place and more open than one might expect. The more charming the behavior of the inhabitants of these institutions the more open they can be. I don’t know if that is true, but it contains the seed of an intention, a belief, a truth.

Washington DC seems to have attracted an unruly ruling class. Decorum is dependent upon the best behavior of the most poorly behaved among us. These social skills are taught from the instant we begin school. Without proper behavior we learn we are no longer on the guest list. We are the weak link in a chain of civility.

The pyrotechnical personality might earn extra telegenic attentions…. But as FDR has said, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself.”

“The gentleman will sit down.”

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A Day at the Beach

Not here, but like here

Madness it seems is not always confined to a mere individual. The whole lot of us can be convinced to run right off a cliff. We seem to be capable of collective irrationality.

If I didn’t have an understanding of yoga, the game of paintball, or solitaire I might look with virgin like eyes and think I was looking at madness incarnate

I used to frequent a resort in Arizona that specialized in welcoming recreational vehicle enthusiasts who preferred nudity. It turned out to not be my cup of tea. People who live in recreational vehicles would be well served by utilizing some textiles in strategically located portions of their anatomy.

But, that isn’t the point. Once they arrive, once they get sited, they by way of doing what everyone else are doing fit into the scene. How much literature is built upon a character that seems to awaken and then arouse everyone else to take a contrary action.

I arise every morning and compared to the guests at the RV park I am revolutionary. By the time I go out the door my madness is disguised. If I really groom and dress up I can put across a very convincing likeness of an adult.

A group of fetching waitresses I knew had decided they wanted to spend the day at a nude beach. Off they went for a day of unclothed fun in the sun. I worked near the restaurant and knew the women.

Hanging out at a nude beach is an excellent activity with total strangers. For whatever reason my fate took me to the same beach, it wasn’t my idea of fun particularly, but I went along. This group of fetching waitresses just about died when they spotted me trotting down the beach.

I tried to be adult about our accidental meeting under such circumstances. I had yet to have disrobed. I had yet to have joined in the collective madness that is getting naked at a nude beach which is not a madness whatsoever, it is what it is, nudity.

I thought their nudity quite rewarding. I think they found their unveiled offerings to a man they recognized from where they worked rather embarrassing. Perhaps that isn’t the right word, but there was a good deal of blushing.

One thing about nudity is that with two arms and hands and a pair of knees it takes a good deal of contorting to strategically solve the issue of how to seem like you are not covering up while you attempt to place knee or hand or elbow across various parts and places you’d rather not share. When done well it is almost a modern dance.

I try to contain my impulses to be swept away by the moment. We trotted away from my friends. We found a spot down the beach where we could play Frisbee.

I had a friend going broke. She took her massage table down to the nude beach. She set up her table, she took off her clothes, and she’s never lacked for work since. This is innovation.



To Hell in a Handbasket By Do-Gooders

I hate it when life looks this good...

How mean and nasty are you? I’m well shy of criminal mean and nasty but then I’m not talking about crime, I mean more generally about disposition, the essential direction of your personality.

I’ve seen perfectly rational individuals once they are inside the construct of a relationship find that they have a pretty short fuse. Light that thing and they just blow right up like a stick of dynamite.

The fuse thing comes as a surprise. So long as they are not in a relationship there is no fuse. With a relationship they have one. Some folk figure the solution to the problem is not to have that problem to begin with. So for starters they stay way the hell clear of relationships.

Now these stay the hell clear types who after a spell of doing nothing go out dancing and drinking. So, they get dragged right back to the very place they had promised that they would not go back to ever again.

Look at that face, a man really not happy right now, beautiful


This is the mystical nature of the unavoidable and unintended consequences of stubbornness. The less open you are to a thing the more that thing will occupy your attention.

You have to learn how to grit your teeth, not blow your top, you fake it until you make it; if you make it at all because it is a long journey to the serenity you have witnessed with your own eyes but have never had a taste of in your own heart.

I watch bemused with the dispositions of people in such places asSouth Carolina. They seem to have worked themselves up. They seem to be steamed. Don’t like things the way they are and as best I can tell they have a notion to get this thing moving back in a direction more suited to their point of view.

I suspect we are all looking together at some mysterious force; something you just can’t pretend doesn’t exist. It’s got fire, spleen, gumption. People snarl and insult. They turn into all elbows and tart rejoinder. I look in the mirror and swear if things keep going the way things are going I could end up joining their club… I’ll need a few more affairs, leave another wife and be sure to not release my tax returns.

It is a thing of beauty. I’m proud of folk for thinking outside the box. South Carolinian’s understand that we are all foul and fake. We all have some little monster just beneath the surface. So since love can drive us out of our minds lets try this other route. Their might be goodness in virtue but there is true happiness in a good old fashioned temper tantrum, you know something that can really make your blood boil.

It is why misery loves company. It allows the whole lot of us to celebrate the least of what we are. I have wasted all these years trying to be just a little tiny bit better. Its time to reconsider how much more satisfying my life could be if I just stopped trying to fix things and stick with being what I really am: unhappy.



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The World Can Just Go to Hell, I’m Going to Nevada

Pretty as a Peach

Nevada is a great place for land speed record attempts. They have hot   springs everywhere. Sagebrush loves it in Nevada. It is a magnet for a particular kind of person. Now every kind of person comes to Nevada. They all arrive differentiated. Each kind; there are men who come, and there are women.

I would suggest that there is some territorial intoxicant that suffuses a person’s entire being once they have lived inNevadafor a certain amount of time

Once you get the hang of it life takes on an ease and lack of concern for so many things that simply remain irrelevant to happiness. Take for example something as basic as pavement. You don’t need it here. A dirt track will do just fine thank you very much.

Another thing you don’t have to put up with is a neighbor. You can go live someplace where there are no neighbors. It will be just you… you andNevadaall to yourself.

I know a man who has a irrigation pivot and grows alfalfa. Lives alone, never married and worst part of his job is to have to come in from out where he grows his crop and talk to someone in town about selling his crop. It would be the perfect job if he could just get rid of that one pesky task. He has no use for words.

Looking at a slice of nowhere

Not so many people get out into the hinterlands and really give the solitude and space a good chance. It’s too damn quiet. Nothing much happens. Sun comes up. There’s the day. Sun goes down. Then there’s the night. Go to sleep get up and repeat the same thing again. If you didn’t mark your calendar, ‘why,’ eternity could slip right through your fingers.

You see maybe that’s just what happens to a soul out there. You kind of arrive all mixed up about what is and is not important. Then, the eternal forces start working you over pretty good. Next thing you know you develop a rural orientation. You start talking slow. Then you stop talking altogether and spend more time thinking things through.

You’ll find folk don’t use much reason inNevada. People in Nevada prefer to be unreasonable. You start feeling different and then start acting different. You get a little wild eyed. Laugh at things nobody else finds funny.

Nevada isn’t meant to be a place for every man. It is meant to be for people who don’t fit in elsewhere. Made a movie with the title, The Misfits…. Perfect.

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Bankrupt Heart casts a spell, it’s a rollercoaster romp of heartbreak and revelation, from a life shattering moment to gut wrenching laughter, from love to loss and back again…

Ryan Waters the top-rated radio personality in San Francisco, standing in front of his home on Telegraph Hill waving goodbye to his college-bound daughter, Sophia, has no inkling he is going to receive a telephone call and later have an unexpected meeting at the radio station. Both together blow apart everything he thought he knew about who he is. The mother of his daughter runs off to London for a tuba player! Ry ends up living in utter chaos aboard his best friend’s wooden sailboat. The derelict and broken souls in the boatyard take it on themselves to help Ry Waters fix the boat. His best friend Finn enjoys a new love affair. The two are perfect for one another. Her name is Kristine and like Finn she wants nothing to do with a relationship. There is Mort (Ry’s agent) who is desperate to find his top act another job. And finally there is Jackie; a watercolorist, yoga instructor and art teacher. She is a gifted, intuitive, uninhibited woman with a knack for shattering convention and sparking the unexpected. Jackie turns out to be the high octane catalyst for change that helps propel this story to its climactic ending.


Forces to Reckon With

The Ego's Cage

I think I am civilized. Finally I have crossed some threshold and arrived. I never much enjoyed being barbaric. My brutish phase has ended.

In my twenties I had a temper. I could get so excited I couldn’t remember what I had become so excited about. Regardless I could stay mad for hours even if I couldn’t really put my finger on what triggered the whole thing.

I look in at the gladiators now working inSouth   Carolina and I am quite impressed. My worst days remain unremarkable. It would be hard to make them headline grabbing. I haven’t got any offshore accounts in the Caribbean, but to be honest I had a checking account inCanadafor a spell.

Hypocrisy is a mirror into the soul. It suggests all manner of convoluted exceptionalism. Where temperament truly glows is where one is absolved from the same requirements of another person. You happen to be so much better a person. That isn’t opinion it is an absolute truth. You don’t just take that to the bank you’ll find it at the scene of the crime and repeat it while undergoing an interrogation.

Following rules is for other suckers. You are obviously not an ‘other,’ you are you. You look in the mirror and there you are that complete obviously exceptional package. There is nothing wrong or you would have notice by now. You see a man free enough to be man enough to be leader enough of the free world.

You can’t be the leader of the free world and be expected to follow the same rules as everyone else. How would that look? Why in the world would you bother to even want that job? Truly exceptional men know this. You want to be free to be free to do as you damn well freely choose.

Approximate facsimile of what it looks like just before the end

The rain ends and the clouds part and the beams of light crack through this mist where revelation of these foundational principles fill the man with a confidence that doesn’t just intoxicate but ends in a roadside breath analyzer test. You are not just drunk with power it seems you are just drunk. Finally we have arrived. You are there. Please come with me!

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Bury Financial Weapons of Mass Destruction at Yucca Mountain

The hills are aglow with the sound of bankers.......

I’ve been reading up on Caliente,Nevada. Sagebrush is located there. TheGreat Basin Highway runs through town. It seems to have some relationship with geothermal waters that are common to this region. There are ranches and mines in this area. It was downwind of the Atomic Test Site. If Yucca Mountain ever came to pass it would be downwind of this now scientifically confirmed bad idea.

It is a disheartening to read about the radiation their citizens absorbed back in the atmospheric testing days. I think I don’t like bad news. I think I knew all this. I think I’ve heard these things before.

We submitted our citizens in Nevada and Utah to lethal dosages of radiation in the name of hoping to gain some edge in our cold war weaponry. This is legacy. In the name of saving ourselves from the Russians we sacrificed a population of rural Americans.

These things happen while authorities approach a podium and in a matter of fact tone of voice explain the inconvenient facts in banal tonalities suggesting there is nothing to be alarmed about.

It is a constant feature of our culture now.Fukushima is a tragedy. Radiation from the Japanese nuclear disaster is measurable and present in Caliente! There is no allowably safe radiation exposure level. Nuclear power outside of a containment vessel is uncontained and our mortal enemy.

Try the “carried interest deduction” we’ve allowed to remain on our tax code. This artifact of finance razzle dazzle creates instability, debt, and tax dodgers. Yet perfectly sensible sounding very important people will come to the podium and insist that this scam is an indispensible feature of capitalism. I can promise you that it is not indispensible and in fact it has much to do with the financially engineered catastrophe we have been living through.

Now if you want to bury something in Yucca Mountain try burying the carried interest deduction there. We’ll make it a national monument. We will create a memorial to warn future generations that there is more than one way to blow up the world.


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Into the Belly of the Consumer Electronics Shows Beast

That's not a car, that's a rolling electronic platform of gadgetry....

Here is the cauldron of capitalism. Here are the electronic innovators shining shrine to invention on a hill. In this case it is a convention center imagined as the biggest, most stupendous, most colossal sized exhibit hall man can imagine.

Before you get excited be prepared to become exhausted. There are thousands upon thousands of devices that deserve your undivided attention and how in the name of gizmo fun can you give your pixilated and digitized mind-numbing-Smartphone- enhanced consciousness the focus these devices deserve.

For heavens sake we have to tweet, blog, text, and take and send calls to every corner of the globe in one last desperate attempt to sustain our intergalactic connectivity.

In some sense this lens into the machinations of commerce does not prepare the impartial observer with the white hot life and death marketing conflagration that is being waged at this gargantuan show. Big shots like Sony, Samsung, and Microsoft put on a vast feast of  new technology to wet the appetites of geeks in their search to be first to play with the new gadgets and gizmo’s.

Things crash and freeze up when I’m trying to efficiently flow and go. The promise of all these flashy new time saving devices is to conspire to drain my best energies when something unexpectedly locks up and forces me into endless hours of troubleshooting that turns out to be way too much trouble and way too many of the bullets disguised as solutions under or overshooting their targets.

No, not this guy... and not this product...

A young up and comer was standing in jaw dropping awe as some legendary business executive was debuting one of his lab’s latest wonders, and they were wonderful wonders but surprise… that wasn’t the best part of this moment. I was captivated by the young up and comer. I kept looking at the gleam in his eye, the envy, the respect, the fierce fire inside his soul that craved to stand where the legend stood and to be cast in that role. I could see his hearts desire. His product would be revolutionary. It would be groundbreaking, earth shattering, historic; a breakthrough that would change everything.

The desire we have to be, to become, to make our mark, and finally have our day in the sun drives the world. Capitalism depends upon the animal spirits. Markets depend upon these unseen ghosts. I spotted one. I saw it in his eyes. He had it bad. He was smitten with the thing. He turned out to be my pick for best of show.






Award Winning Award Ribbons

Building a Better World One Award at a Time

Jane Cottonwood started lifting spirits as a coffee shop waitress in Beatty, Nevada. While attending horse shows with her little barrel racing daughters Jane came to find out there was a real shortage of award ribbons for those little winners she was raising.

‘Janey’ came to know how the world worked by living on Highway 95. North of town was the brothel, west the ghost town Rhyolite, and just south and east the atomic test site.

Atomic tests always went off at 7 in the morning before school. Shook the town to kingdom come, but nobody complained much. People who lived here owed their living to the atomic bomb experiments being undertaken in the name of defending our country from the communists.

Brothels and Beatty are practically synonymous. Friends worked there and most of the best gossip in town is about the married men who ought not to be purchasing services there. Still it’s Nevada and expectations of what any man may or may not be at his core has been revised considerably to fit this particular place on earth.

Jane gave the world her all. When I met her she’d already had six decades to practice this artful gift of giving. We met at the Rocky Mountain Fairs Association meetings. I’d sit with her at lunch, or we’d drink whiskey in the hospitality suite in the evening while we whittled away time smooth talking clients.

Rodeo's, Crafts fairs, Swimming Meets, State Fairs...awards, awards, awards...

I think some women are made to give young men a nurturing maternal kind of loving. Jane was such a person in my life. Told me I had to stop if I ever passed through Beatty. Put another notch in our friendship when I did.

Her business had grown to employ 90 workers. Award ribbons it turns out are made by hand. The workers do utilize machines in the process, but most of how a ribbon is manufactured comes from the labor a person puts into the thing. You stencil, you stapled, you cut, you sew. All those first place ribbons have to detail whether you won an award for a rabbit or a horse, for the Oregon State Fair or the Modoc County Fair. There was first place to third place. A big fair can require a whole truckload of ribbons.

The Late Great Jane Cottonwood

Jane died of congestive heart failure. She died back in 2001. Her two daughters have kept the business going. Her husband is still alive. When Jane sat down next to you and gave you the pleasure of her company it was an experience of the highest order. I can’t quite explain how good she could make a person feel, how welcomed, how supported, how happy and funny life could be when she was around, but that was her way. Making a business out of giving people a good feeling about how good they can do something turned out to be her work. Next time you see a ribbon hanging off a jar of best of show pickles you could be looking right at what Jane has left behind to mark her having been here.