Tag Archives: changing mind

The Kilted Salvation

Past as Prelude Mayan Ruins
Past as Prelude
Mayan Ruins

 

It Was Not A Surprise

The Scottish National Party swept this last week’s elections. They built majorities by convincing Labour Party voters to switch allegiances to the Scottish National Party.

I had followed last year’s vote in Scotland to decide whether they would secede from Great Britain. The initiative failed but the Scottish National Party continued to organize.

That vote plunged the Labour Party into their present crisis. Without the Scot’s Labour may never again be capable of building a majority coalition in Parliament. Never is a long time.

Scotland will press for another vote to secede. If there is any hope of keeping the whole of Great Britain together it will be because the Torres cease ramming through Parliament decidedly conservative policies and instead begin compromising with the progressives in Scotland.

The City of London is loath to let go of their dominion over all things economic. The Scot’s apparently are much too socialist. National Health Care, free universities, and public pensions are unaffordable. The City fears they may well be taxed more.

The tensions between the voracious financial sector and the spine stiffened progressives in Scotland are a wicked bit of business. It is but one of many skirmishes taking place across the globe.

SketchGuru_20150509150710

When Will the Greed Stop

Here back in the United States a vote next week in Congress to give the President Trade Promotion Authority will be taken. Multinational corporations advocating for this bill are not complaining about the labor or environmental provisions and that tells you everything you need to know. A more progressive agreement would be met with a multinational megaphoned shriek of grief and moans. A broad coalition against this agreement is fighting back.

In fact the Trade Promotional Authority the President seeks may indeed increase the profits corporations earn from trade. But, think with me for a moment. “ — trade creates winners and losers. Econ 101 says that the winners outnumber the losers in dollar terms, but not necessarily in people terms — if the richest 1 percent of Americans gain $1 billion from a trade agreement and the other 99 percent lose $900 million, then Ricardo’s theory says the country benefited overall. That outcome is perfectly consistent with Econ 101.”

That is the neoliberal economic model’s Achilles heel. On the whole free trade has by design benefitted the wealthiest. We are bombarded with distortions and half-truths by the moneyed interests that have gained by these trade agreements. Too much corporate money is drowning out the national interests. The world cannot keep pumping further profits into the pockets of the few at the cost of shortchanging so many.

There is no such thing as a free market. Nature is not a free market. Markets are a construct of human design. Rules and regulations are put in place to manage them. The City of London and the Wizards of Wall Street would prefer that we allow their designs and formulas to take priority. They have not any greater wisdom or authority than any other individuals or interest groups. They’ve tilted the playing field in their favor for too long. We’ve the worst income inequality in the world, a worldwide financial crisis we continue to suffer from. There are a vast trove of problems neoliberalism has no answers for.

The most serious of these problems we describe as climate change. At its root is the possibility that we trigger an extinction event that ends in wiping us all off the face of this earth. The one elixir to all of this is hope. We must have hope. And if there is to be any hope of our having a better future it will come by our insisting that our political and economic systems offer reality based solutions to the problems we face. The neoliberal economic model of freer trade, lower taxes and less regulation needs to be modified so that we may get on with the great task of saving all of humanity from its own worst enemy. We have done much damage and saving ourselves from ourselves is the kind of complexity and paradox that is all too prone to being gamed.

This is the great work ahead. The courageous and brave people of Scotland may well be the spark ready to point the way. The fierce kilted bagpipers and army of determined brave souls marching on the problems of the world is indeed a hope to be reckoned with.

La Buena Vida Akumal, Mexico The Authors Office
La Buena Vida
Akumal, Mexico
The Authors Office

 

Hat Snatching Owl’s and Brawling Burro Truths…

image The owl soared across the street to the limb of a cottonwood. The animal perched, balancing on one foot, with Mr. Garrett Harwood’s hat clasped and dangling in her clutches in the other.

Hot Spring Honeymoon

Owl attacks joggers and steals their hats…

Headline from The Guardian, Reuters in Portland, Oregon

I concocted a confrontation between an owl, a burro and an old man in 2012. Some background. I took out on the road with a circus in 1974. We traveled with a bear, fox, pheasant, monkey, dog and miniature horse.

I spent six months tending to the horse. A young stallion that I took from his mother had no choice but to hook into me; the world was too empty- too cold otherwise.

I spent one decade plus performing with an Belgian Shepherd and another decade plus with a Jack Russell Terrier. Sunshine and Lacey devoted their lives to the work we shared.

What I know about the animal kingdom has been derived from 10,000 performances and countless hours spent in a performing duo pair bond with two dogs and a miniature horse.

Garrett searched the ground. No hat. The owl screeched. Garrett startled. He looked from where the call had come from. The animal was in the tree. She had his best hat.

I was plenty sure when I built this scene that what I had imagined was within the realm of possibility. I not only have had two dogs in my act for the longest time I juggled fire while balancing a live chicken on my head.

Two decades plus with dogs and a near decade with a chicken and you get to know things about the animal kingdom that might slip by the casual observer. You know what an animal will do and what guides their understanding of the world they live in.

Bambalina (the burro) was disgusted. Her adversary was pathetic, spineless, not even a worthy opponent, and say what the world will  about the animal kingdom, rare if ever does an animal fight simply for the sake of a fight.

The Guardian’s story about this pesky owl in Salem, Oregon is a literary affirmation. An interested reader now knows by proof of fact that the writer is with regard to the animals portrayed in his work an authority on the subject.

Bambalina and the owl traded a knowing look. They knew a man was no match in a real brawl. Garrett slunk back. The old man turned and trotted away. He was not her equal. He ran for his life.

Once I formed the outline to Hot Spring Honeymoon and began to write Bambalina’s character her voice flowed. She required few revisions. Her ‘burro personage’ from word one rang true.

How and why that is has everything to do with the animals I trained and have shared so many years of my life with. So, besides having concocted a sexual farce (another bit of nature I have some experience of) there is also the reward a reader will find in discovering the truths to be learned about the animal kingdom, a lifeforce man is so inextricably woven into.

This is the realm of the interdependent nature of mind. Where we see mankind in a dog, and a dog sees the canine in us. I’ll leave you with one last piece of burro truth.

His burro approached. She didn’t care about anything but Fletcher. He tugged on the crushed straw western hat, yanked it out of her teeth. “You know I’m going to have to give you a whipping for this?”

No he’s not. Bambalina had heard that sorry act so many times, but Fletcher McCrea was all bark no bite, and it is why she remained faithful to this man. The sarcasm and snide commentary was part of something bigger than both of them. image

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Bachelorhood as Infrastructure

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To Have Anything You Must Give Her Everything

     “You peeling down into your French lingerie and your slick high-heeled cowgirl boots, I swear on a stack of Gideon’s, you don’t want a fair fight… Trying to ensnare me in my own weaknesses…. I know your kind; you’ll have nothing and nobody to blame but all those temptations you’re trying to weaken my will with.”

Fletcher McCrea from Hot Spring Honeymoon

 

The majesty of a seduction is something special. At the scale of infrastructure it isn’t just special it is monumental.

A good piece of public policy that works toward the common good of the entire society seems to have become illusive. It is as if the transmission mechanisms for making good choices have been clogged.

It isn’t too hard to understand. We weaken the will of an otherwise sensible person by buttering them up with legalized bribery. This is known as a campaign contribution.

This will work until it doesn’t and right now failure is looking truly global, as in global climate change.

This human foible, this human sickness of being incapable of preventing our politics and economics from destroying mother earth is in full view for all to see. It isn’t a secret. It is tragedy and like any audience we know what is going to happen and yet we are unable to stop it.

Well, one way or another it will end. Like a good love affair sometimes you have to give one thing up to get the pleasure of another.

“If I was you, Fletcher McCrea, I’d start washing my hands and combing my hair. End of your bachelorhood’s not even fifty yards away.”

Glenna Goddard reply… from Hot Spring Honeymoon

 

The Boar’s Big Oil Agony

Pecked to Death
                                                                Boar and Raven

We are ungovernable. We can’t do it.

In other batshit crazy news you might have noticed that the decline of crime is being correlated to a decline in airborne lead levels. Take the lead out of gasoline and just like that you get a 70% decrease in violent crime. Who knew?

The king is not the President it is the status quo, and they very much appreciate the rigged form of capitalism that has been rammed down democracies throat.

The state of being ungovernable is misery itself. We don’t recognize the place. Who knew we would coddle torturers? Why in the world would we give trillions of dollars to bankers and yet still sneer and beat down upon the sick and poor? We have our answer.

Sideshows… there is no longer anything happening center ring.
Capitalism isn’t one thing. It consists of many rules, many different arenas, with many different players. Just mentioning a change in any rule is to invoke being called a communist, socialist, anti­-business feudalist from a family of Neanderthals.

I love that hacks shilling for peanuts from their bosses go to the thesaurus to infuse their tantrums with Mongolian herd rhetoric. Terrific cognitive spear chucking indeed.

I’ll end with this. We are on the verge of producing unlimited amounts of hydrogen. It can be stored as a gas and when it is used to create electricity produces oxygen and water. Need I say this more clearly? OK, clarity then, this solves the climate change crisis civilization faces.

Hydrogen is an excellent means of storing energy. Experimental renewable energy systems in Colorado are scaling the technology as you read this.

Back to being ungovernable. Remember that the threat to civilization is climate change, and it isn’t just a game changer it has the potential to be a game ender.

Stalemates in government give capitalism the time it needs. Even an
existential crisis for the whole of humanity isn’t enough. Obviously there is nothing more important than money you “moronic goon.”

From Hot Spring Honeymoon, “Conventional demolition work didn’t pay near as good as nuclear annihilation, but Fletcher rightly calculated that there wouldn’t be much use for money in a world that no longer existed.”

The revolution will not be televised. Instead the shills for capitalism read their own eulogies. They can’t argue so they lie. We are not supposed to understand, there is nothing to think about, we are supposed to remain in their control.

Solutions abound even if the arena is clogged with pawns sent to defend the filthy obsolete technologies of the last century.

The Saudi royal family knows this all too well. Oil has hitting rock bottom and like all things fated to end it is where the obsolete, the infirm all go to be buried.

Stupid, Dumb and Dunderheaded

 

Harvest Moon 2014
Harvest Moon 2014

“Your wallets gone, passport is missing and you’ve just received a note from the consulate. There is nothing they can do. You will have to live with your new tattoo and the sex change operation.”

Send in the clowns… they’re already here…

Working today on the stupid… I try not to do stupid, but sometimes you can’t help visiting the stupidity littering the landscape before us.

Fortunately I do visit with the gods and they remind me to maintain my stupid sense of humor. Thank you Three Stooges.

I make my living saying stupid things that on second appear to be smarter than they first look. Of course frequently I am dumber than I appear.

Still we wish the world of the future will be handed to our grandchildren in better shape than the way it was handed to our generation. This is looking stupid both in terms of hopes and the utter logjam of stupid that clutters the path to this goal.

Well, this is the sheer quality of this era of information. With all this power comes all this stupidity. People don’t just act stupid they go on and do stupid for all of their lives. Case in point would be everybody that thought Galileo was stupid. James Inhofe our stupid senator from Oklahoma reprises his moron and stupid. His stupidity is well paid for by a well-oiled not so stupid machine.

And that is stupid. We are essentially much dumber than our brilliance might suggest. It isn’t that we aren’t smart enough it is that we are simply too prone to dunderheaded choices. We are simply brimming with what I respectfully refer to as the ape shit crazy.

Is this too hard to understand? Can you say Fukushima? Dumbest idea we’ve ever had. Build it and they will come. What do you mean you didn’t know that there could be a tidal wave so big that…. We could turn around and go the other way but as smart as that turn might be it feels dumb to the stupid inside of us.

“You can hardly contain your excitement at the going away party; they are finally leaving for college. They come home for Christmas and want to know who the hell gave you permission to buy a new car.”

Hot Spring Honeymoon Front Cover
Get it Here… Clickity Click Click

 “BTW… I finished your book. I liked it. And I laughed.” Nick Nicholas Sensational Street Act

The Stupidity Links

Ultimately we are throwing our grandchildren under the bus…

Is it the deficits or is it putting people back to work? Come on really? You don’t know what to do?

This is your brain on mushrooms… 

 

 

The Great Dictator’s Curtain Call

tracks
Coatimundi tracks in Talum, Mexico

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe?
And he keeps it out of sight

During hyperinflations grip on the Weimar Republic in the 1920’s Bertolt Brecht struggled with the question of how to dramatize the complex economic relationships of modern capitalism.

And then the wildly Canadian-Canadian Naomi Klein’s new book argues that for the world to do anything about climate change we will have to rewrite how capitalism works. We are finding it nearly impossible to change our economic model because vested interests will not surrender their present profits for future generations benefit. Those Canadian’s…

Since the global financial crisis profits have gone to the elite while virtually every other segment of society has watched while wages have flat-lined. Frustrated with Washington voters vented their anger by electing Republican majorities to both houses of Congress. I’m unaware of the newly elected majorities wanting to do anything that squares with what nonpartisan policymakers might suggest is best. Capitalism is complicated where anger is simple. The electorate vented their spleen. We will regret playing our politics on the basis of bile.

Like Brecht’s struggle to dramatize the complexities of the economy of his era our society has failed to implement the best policy responses to our present situation. Wall Street wants nothing to do with shrinking the size of our big banks, and they certainly don’t want any constraints to be put on carbon based energy companies.

Capital is ascendant and labor’s share of the pie is on the decline. The circular firing squad arrives and future profits are defended by the very people that are harmed by that choice.

This is what is so dangerous about booms and busts. They confuse and frighten people. In this emotionally charged state of mind people vote out of fear, the very fear that FDR suggested was the only thing we had to fear.

I am in the earliest stages of plotting the next comedy. What I am thinking about is the same thing that Brecht was thinking about. We want to understand the world we find ourselves living in and we want to know what path to take to fulfill our promise for a prosperous future.

When capitalism goes bust people go crazy. Depressions are depressing and extremists lurk in disguise at every gate luring the fearful into actions that might well result in tragedy. Chaplin skewered the wicked of his day with The Great Dictator. History might not be repeating itself but it certainly is flirting with the idea of rhyming.

There’s a tugboat down by the river, don’t you know?
Where a cement bag, just a’drooppin’ on down
Oh, that cement is just its there for the weight, dear
Five’ll get you ten Old Macky’s back in town

“The slacker dude no longer has to make an excuse about not having a good paying job because since the global financial crisis there are no more good paying jobs…”

Hot Spring Honeymoon Front Cover
Get it here…

“The story follows a cast of interesting characters in a small desert town as they work to save their local economy and play the games of love.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for fun yet heartfelt read.”

Relevant Links…

Let’s go to Berlin…   Story of internet activists hiding in Berlin from NSA

Modeling other capitalistic enterprises…   Let’s talk about Republican’s and capitalists at their birth

The Well Paid Truth Tellers…

PicsArt_1411149347644

 

Nowhere to Go Nothing Anyone Can Do

 

It was close in Scotland. Then today I read that about one quarter of all the citizens in the USA feel that they would be better off if their state seceded.

Anyone paying attention can see that we have a problem. It seems democracy is on a collision course with free market economies of the world.

The criminality in the banking sector has resulted in exactly zero convictions. They remain dangerous. Everybody knows what dangerous means now.

At the same time powerful corporate interests have mounted campaigns to lower their taxes, reduce worker’s rights, and to defund social welfare programs.

I’m talking about unemployment insurance, disability insurance programs, healthcare and social security. Much of this list was once deemed to be part of a prudent grand bargain between capital and labor. No more.

That consensus has been torn up and corporate interests have bought votes that aim to strip the workers of the protections they have long enjoyed.

The so called tax inversion game is illustrative. Burger King goes from Florida to Canada to lower taxes. From a pure business point of view it apparently is in their best interest. But, what about the money to fund the Pentagon, or the well educated workers who come and go to work on the paved highways, drinking safe clean water and breathing fresh clean air, where do the revenues for providing such things come from?

All of this isn’t an accident of tax policy it is a feature. The feature was put into the code by lawmakers paid by lobbyists that fund their election campaigns.

And there you have it. One quarter of the people in the United States know damn well what has happened. Citizens United has only confirmed the out in the open bribery and corruption. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court is all bought and paid for by the Federalist Society.

And that my friend’s is why so many of us are fed up and giving up.

Fifty-eight of fifty-nine representatives of Scotland are in the opposition party with just one representative caucusing with the conservatives and David Cameron. Cameron has set policy without regard to what the vast majority of the people of Scotland want and instead has done the bidding of the City of London. Scotland is fighting for the workers and the social compact long ago agreed to while Cameron’s party work with the City of London to dismantle it.

They do this work because they are paid to do it. It might be they believe they are doing the right thing, but it is hard to know when so much of what they believe has been so well funded.

“Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the “well-funded” truth so help you God?” Now that is an oath even a banker could swear by.

 

 

Scotland is ready to Rumble

Las Ramblas

The Good People of the Catalan

We begin today with where I ended yesterday. The failure of the business and political leaders of the major economies of the world to grasp how far out of touch they are with the citizens of their countries.

Yes they may be capable of ramming a new trade deal through a legislature. They might be able to wrangle enough votes to privatize another publicly owned asset. Privatize our water, our parks, our educational systems, and our post offices.

Scotland isn’t having it. The Catalan people of Spain are disgusted. I keep mentioning Quebec, although quiet of late they don’t care for Ottawa’s corporatists pillaging of their nations wealth.

Do you see? The Euro-zone is an incredible mess. Their austerity policies have fueled extremism. City of London has been at the center of fixing interest rates, currency exchange rates, laundering drug money, and skimming money off pensioners.

People on the edges of these empires are sick of it. Just maybe disconnecting from the globalization juggernaut and then negotiating their fair trade agreements not to City of London’s benefit but for the benefit of their citizens might just make sense.

The complicity of the media in all of this cannot be swept under the rug. The Financial Times has more in common with the City of London than the subscribers that read their paper. The manufacture of their opinions and point of view has been decoupled from the greater good of their country.

Our elite will push and get away with the looting until they no longer do. There is always an inflection point, invisible and unanticipated until it isn’t any longer. Pretending that there is a political stalemate when in fact all there is a lack of will doesn’t wash any longer.

Scotland message is simple. If you will not do what is right then we will secede and perhaps within the context of a smaller more governable entity we can.

The world wants an equitable distribution of capitalisms benefits. Climate change needs to be addressed. Our nation-states are mere shells of faux-virtue and patriotism. There is no secret here. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States have been colluding. Most apparent is the corporatists bribing and buying anything not nailed down by the popular opinion of its people.

I am sympathetic to how a big city is run by a mayor. The worlds mega cities have more in common with one another than they do with the countries they are in. They are operated efficiently. Health care, education and public transportation issues are resolved their practically. Solutions are not framed ideologically. Fixing a sewer is not a socialist democracy run amok. It is the answer to what the people are concerned about.

What is stunning is how rampant this rot has become, how extensive and vast it has spread. Arranging the world for Wall Street, City of London and Hong Kong to flourish while the rest of the world is pillaged is fast hitting the wall of public opinion.

We owe Scotland a debt of gratitude for providing the world with this wake-up call.

Saving Up Solstice for Aches and Pains

Great Basin small pic

You Just Can’t Make A Place Like This Up…

Today is the summer solstice. On Wednesday we depart northbound. Our track will be to Lakeview, Oregon. From this frontier on the California border we will continue into vast Great Basin regions of Eastern Oregon.

Our ultimate destination is the 30th Edition of The Edmonton International Street Performers Festival. But, we have roads to travel and friends to see before we arrive. And then there’s the hot springs we’ll sample along the trail too. And then there is the matter of the world between Emeryville and Edmonton. There a place’s we’ll want to pull over and get out from behind the wheel and sit and let what we find there soak into our bones.

I’ll try and be faithful to my discipline. I’ll juggle each day some. I’ll write as much as I can.

“He gazed off into the distances and saw the grand scale of places seldom touched by travelers. His problems diminished in this frame, as measured by geologic time. He paused to consider that ancient oceans had once drowned out most of what he was in. When measured by that, his broken heart seemed insignificant and lost love infinitesimal. The world was a bigger mystery. Chance weaves through fate and things unfold in surprise, beyond what can be imagined.”

Those lines come by way of my first novel Highway Home.

“He pushed off from Burns and headed out toward the frontier, with Idaho in the vast, wild, open spaces beyond. Here swept out before Noel the boundless Great Basin Desert of the American West. Sagebrush saturated the land. Horizons stretched wide, and the contours of ridges, rims, and hills squatted low, shaved by ice, wind, and time. Here, east of Burns, at first appeared wasteland and despair. It reminded Noel of how he felt within his heart. At the same time there was a solitude to this place of a kind that was rare. Beyond this last gasp of farms the road began weaving through boulders and ridges and ran higher up off the immense and flat bottomlands. Noel took a dirt track off the highway and rolled amidst the boulders and red rocks into a small pull out where he’d camp for the night.”

My heartbroken hero searching to put the demons to rest for the night, there is an articulate kind of geological speech in the emptiness of this desert. There is a desolate beauty that can fortify a soul while stoking the torment and past sorrows. It is in this way a place that you can come to face the hard parts of inside yourself you don’t much care to think through. Still it is a melancholy that with time heals up the pain and hurt. You come here and you stop running from yourself. What gives way is the majesty of inner peace. The gloom gives way to the grandeur, one night you are nothing but misery and wake up the next and there’s nothing but wonder.

Solstice can be a place to begin and while Canada is where I aim to drive I’ll be pausing to bucket out the pond of things I’ve been throwing into the deep the last months. I suppose the thing is these are the big things that can give us perspective and put our own concerns in the right order.

 

 

 

 

Lord of the Styles

Flatbush small

 

 

This moment’s style and fashion is so obvious. House of Cards has it, Veep deploys it, and Silicon Valley is based upon it.

Lenny Bruce skewered the sacred by roasting it atop the fires of the profane hypocrisy’s he alone seemed capable of speaking about.

And for each act taking one tack there is another cohort heading off in another. Nancy Meyers comes to mind, Seinfeld seems to wield this same aim, Nora Ephron… Then, there is the illustrative past including the direction of Frank Capra, George Cukor, and Howard Hawks.

Mel Brooks seemed to relish the hijinks of the soul of the Marx Brothers. Where Lenny Bruce failed at late night television an equally prolific and volatile Richard Pryor found the means of performing in this setting.

An adorable Eddie Izzard seems almost tame. Hedwig and the Angry Inch feature’s a transgender East German singer. The Book of Mormon if you search online will produce a vast stream of essays on the where to draw the line on what is too vulgar or obscene, and what we ought to do when sitting in a theater and what we are watching outrages us.

It is one thing to be the audience and another to be the creator. What seems clear is that once a project is conceived the skill is in working all the way to the edge of the style that the creator has invented. You do shock jock radio? You work to that edge. You do breezy afternoon commuter type banal styled talk radio you work to that side of the dial.

It comes as no surprise that given the crass bombast passing for political discourse that the cultural artistic entertainment community finds itself pulled in the same direction. Better the bomb throwing pugilistic types take their seat at the head of class. Oprah was a one of a kind and she’s off air and done.

Each of us that work’s in the narrative arts allows for some choice to approach. Any can work. We bow to the masters of one kind admiring their skills and talent while we remain on our own path.

The finger to the wind approach vexes integrity. Mel Brooks has to be Mel Brooks, and thank the gods for that. For the moment, at least this point in time, House of Cards, Veep and Silicon Valley are banking on finding their audience share by leaning hard upon one particular edge in a world that is in fact far more diverse than they can afford to allow for. In short there is a limit, every style can only take you so far, and from there you are on your own.