Books · Performances

Book Expo America

Carneigie promo small

I am here in New York for the Expo. I have noted that Hachette Book Group has crossed swords with Amazon. A fight has broken out and it seems Amazon is putting a hold on Hachette’s Books because a royalty dispute. Nasty bit of business this industry is involved in. Seems JK Rowling’s new title is swept up in this bit of tit for tat among the giants.

I’m still seeking an agency’s representation in the business. What is happening to the distribution channels, what is happening to our reading audience, what is happening to the economics of the industry is certainly chaotic. Perhaps I have arrived at the perfect moment or I am too late.

Somewhere between the former controlled closed distribution system and what has replaced it there has given way to a mass bookstore extinction event. And what we are all thinking about is whether each actors percentage of the deal is fair and square capitalism or if there is a rate setting formula that might better reflect the value of each player.

I have my own instincts but no facts to back up my hunch. And that’s the problem an author who has spent the last decade at his desk focused on three novels faces. How do I make sense of a marketplace in the grips of such monumental changes? I am here in New York and this week I will be gathering with my tribe at the Jacob Javitts Convention Center to see if I can wrap my head around how to function in this altered industries dysfunctional condition.


Books · Performances

Writing Comedy…


It is all in the words…

After working on three novels, some 340,000 words, work that spans seven years, I’m trying to distill the essence into one hour. Someone has to do it. I spend seven years working on three novels and a reader will be done with all three in 30 hours, more or less. In some sense I am engaged in a reverse engineering operation. Plucking out pieces of literary work and making a show.


Show is made of routines, transitions, bits and gags. It is a line by line process. We have to account for pace. The performer has to visualize what an audience will see. You memorize, rehearse, try them, adjust them, and finally you’ll emerge out the other end. It’s called a show.


And since I’m basically a variety act guy, having devoted 40 years to the non-narrative show I am embarked on the paradoxically challenging effort to do the non-narrative/narrative show. Not so much a story within a story as it is a journey tangled amidst the web of storylines.


And that is what I’m thinking about now. How to navigate this terrain, part narrative, part non-narrative, part literary and part spoken word, I feel like I’m on the right track because I feel a degree of dread and fear. That’s good. That points the way.


Princeton’s Epitaph to Democracy

weathy toys small

The Luxury Yacht  Karma

That Princeton Study says the elite having captured the political process going back all the way to the 1980’s. The powerful have ended democracy in the USA. The novelist is always looking for a working model of the world. Billionaires, corporate titans and their paid operatives are running riot now. This is the paid for crowd. Fox Television isn’t a political ideological operation it is an oligarchic operation. Lower taxes, less regulation and free trade isn’t a consensus economic perspective, it is an elite belief system. Privatization of everything isn’t always the way to go. Our water systems, prisons, and national security agencies are best left in the public sector. Do we really want Wall Street setting our water rates? Do we want incarceration rates set by judges drumming up more business for privately held prisons?

Creating narrative is fun. Down at the personal level, human to human, a multitude of interesting storylines can be developed. But, if we really don’t have a democracy it means the fish are no longer swimming in the same ocean that Steinbeck or Sinclair Lewis imagined. I give a lot of thought to Buddhism’s model of mind. I don’t find dreams or childhood trauma always helpful in development of a character. Similarly whether we like it or not capitalism or some mutant ascendant version of some form of economics has escaped from the regulations used to constrain its most vile tendencies and here we are left to wonder when the next shoe is about to drop. I am pondering a narrative set in the wine country, and a man who makes wine being chased around the valley by a super wealthy woman. As he explains to her, “I can’t make love to you. It would be like going to bed with Lloyd Blankfein in drag…”


Trouble in Nevada

Fletch's cabin small

Hot Spring Honeymoon

Just Enough Trouble to Call it Fun

Life imitates art. The recent standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and Clive Bundy is a more radicalized version of the politics I hinted at in Hot Spring Honeymoon. The free grazer movement depends upon more magical thinking than my character Garrett Harwood. My character is more or less disposed to free trade, less regulation and lower taxes. He’s a privatizer type and wants everything left to the private sector. He’s plenty angry but he influences things by means other than at the end of the barrel of a gun. I’m heartened by what I’ve heard on talk radio shows. Most folk as I’d anticipated prefer to see their community remain whole and healthy. People want their freedom but they’d prefer working from within the law. Garrett Harwood is a businessman and his temper while hot runs more or less to the civilized side of the road. He is not a secessionist and not a member of a militia. We do have a bulldozer in the book. There is also talk of “second amendment remedies,” but for reasons of comedy my villain only needed to quarrel and fistfight. I wanted a more nuanced conflict than this latest headline would allow. I prefer a man that still believes in democracy and capitalism. Once you draw down to the level of wanting everything your way and not any other way you have left the room of reason and are floating around a few French fries short of a happy meal…


Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow…


You say you want a revolution

The long term fallout to the disaster known as the global financial crisis is playing out on the right sided spectrum of the political scene. Economic anxiety translates into a turbulent, unpredictable, heated voiced, violence prone mob rule. Let’s go first to a little nugget from Andrew Sullivan. (for those not in the know, he is a gay conservative, if that is even possible.)

“In other words, this is not just a cold civil war. It is also a religious war – between fundamentalism and faith, between totalism and tradition, between certainty and reasoned doubt. It may need to burn itself out – with all the social and economic and human damage that entails. Or it can be defeated, as Lincoln reluctantly did to his fanatical enemies, or absorbed and coopted, as Elizabeth I did hers over decades. But it will take time. The question is what will be left of America once it subsides, and how great a cost it will have imposed.”

In other words not only do we have to worry about our ice caps melting and climate change sparking an extinction event, but wait for it, now we get to worry about the primitives and tribalists who are so sure that they don’t like what they see that they are willing to do whatever is necessary to insure that nobody likes what they see.


Where to get your food while the tribes quarrel

But, all is not lost. Politics is one thing, but a skilled economist is another, and for this we turn to John McCain’s economic advisor during his run against Obama, punching way above his actual weight, let’s listen now to Mark Zandi, a man working for Moody Economics

The stalemate in Washington also may have long-term economic consequences for the U.S. as international investors grow wary of investing there, Mr. Zandi said.

“You will hear increasing calls and actual efforts to diversify away from the U.S.,” he predicted. “It could in fact impair this very strong economy that we have.”

The solution? Washington should “do nothing. Literally nothing,” Mr. Zandi said. “No change at all for the next three-four years. Let the private economy do its thing.”

Once the economy starts growing at a faster cliff, policymakers should consider making changes to rein in government spending and cut the U.S. debt, he said.

Nothing trumps something when if you try to do something what crawls out of its hole looks like Sarah Palin, spits nonsense like Grover Norquist, and has the face of Joe McCarthy (hi Teddy Cruz). The vast sea of ordinary citizens trying to enjoy the ride of one lifespan here on earth have literally been drawn into a grand coitus interuptus.

I can explain in shorthand what needs to happen, anybody can. Raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy, get control of health care spending, and do something about climate change.

There, see, it isn’t that difficult now is it?

But, as it sits at this moment the mob would become so flipped out by anything other than getting their way or the highway that we can go back to Zandi’s prescriptive and of course even that milk toast proposal, the do nothing proposal will not be easily sustainable against the right wing heavyweight championship of the post-confederate-cause that will be playing out across the country.

Nothing really here that a few decades on holiday in Costa Rica might not cure…


Tree Hugging Sailing Home of the Solar Electric Fuel Cell Powered Future

Unsurprisingly, they support the policies that allow them to do this: things like low taxes, risky speculation, sky-high executive pay, and pulling investment out of education and infrastructure. What happens to our economy in the long-term is not really their concern. There’s a motto on Wall Street: “I.B.G.-Y.B.G.” or “I’ll Be Gone, You’ll Be Gone.” As long as you’re making money right now, what happens tomorrow is not your problem.

Lynn Parramore   The Depressing Tale of How Greedy Financial Titans Crushed Innovation and Destroyed Our Economy

technology one

This is not what a modern grid is supposed to look like…



My wife and I installed 33 photovoltaic solar energy panels on the roof of our home. Our electric bill went to zero.

In 1993 I volunteered to help build a straw bale house in Rim Rock, Arizona. The properties water source was a well powered by a specially designed solar powered pump that lifted water to a holding tank where gravity then delivered the requisite 30 psi flow at the sinks nozzle. A warm shower was flash heated with a propane heater. While the straw bales performance during the winter was stellar summers were not as cool as had been hoped for.

An earthship (rammed earth construction) up in Durango, Colorado was an all-around better performer than a straw bale, but the labor involved in building one compared to the other was significant.

A new race to Hawaii in sailboats of 21 feet in length has just completed their inaugural race. Most of these mini 6.50 sailboats use fuel cell technology to power their electronics while sailing offshore. Think suitcase sized device that is nearly silent in operation creating all the electricity you will need for this voyage. Better still you will still have enough fuel to make three more trips on just this one canister of liquid propane gas.

Smart grids, electric vehicles, wind turbines, increased energy efficiency of homes, the build out of additional mass transit systems in our worlds cities and we’re well on our way to right action.

Fukushima is an unmanageable disaster and we are far from out of the woods. Radiation levels spiked in the last few weeks and if things really went nuts most of the Northern hemisphere could be threatened by the uncontrolled release of radioactive materials.

Legacy technologies continue to block the development of new technologies. Big oil and lobbyists stifle innovation. Fortunately the cost of solar panels continues to plummet and by the end of next year will be the cheapest method of making electricity in the world. We figure a means of storing the suns energy for nighttime use, think massive lithium batteries the size of railroad box cars strategically distributed on our power grid and you can soon see what our future is going to look like.

We’ve got millions of people looking for work. A robust ramping up and deployment of alternative energy technologies across the country ought to be right at the top of our list of things we should be doing.

Are you a climate denying capitalist or a tree hugging environmentalist? Profits now at the expense of our future, or are you for finding the means forward that leaves those who will follow us a chance to enjoy their journey into this place called earth.




Snapping Turtle After a Little Egg Laying in Philadelphia…

Hot Spring Honeymoon

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Gretel said, “A man is many things, but one sure thing a man can be is driven clear out of their mind over the thought of losing the one true thing that they care about most.”

“But, what we did won’t last forever,”

“Of course not, you know that, I know that, but a man doesn’t know that,”

“Look at me, I’m a mess, I think I’m so clever, put the ultimatum to Fletcher McCrea, end up in bed with the town’s most evil outsider ever to come to this place, and instead of getting a bunch of pictures we could use to save our little town, I end up falling for a man whose about to do something I could never ever forgive him for.”


Playing Free and Lose with Fact and Opinion….Wee…………..

Transnational capital has been able to break free of nation-state constraints to accumulation beyond the previous epoch, and with it, to shift the correlation of class and social forces worldwide sharply in its favour – and to undercut the strength of popular and working class movements around the world, in the wake of the global rebellions of the 1960s and the 1970s.

                                                                             William I. Robinson, University of California, Santa Barbara


                                                 The Jig is up and the Rigging is In

We all have our own personal narrative. It is our story. It is the one we steer right through the center of what we trust and know and doubt and fear. All of us are folded into a variety of other dimensions. You may pick your dimensions and I’ll pick mine.

I keep running into the old trusty canard, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not his own facts.” (Daniel Patrick Moynihan). While we fool around trying to determine the difference between a fact and an opinion manipulation of the impossible to understand Libor Rate takes place right in front of our eyes. Is that my fact or my opinion? Does that matter?

Why doesn’t anything happen? It is only the most abusive banking crime in the history of humanity committed right in front of our eyes.

It is like having some drunk bastard ruining your night at a bar, leaning up against you, stinking of booze and tobacco, treating you to one whopper after another as if you are supposed to listen to his exaggerated list of quasi truths so blown up and distorted they resemble nothing like the actual fact of what actually happened. I take my drunks as character studies. They play it too loose when it comes to the facts. And facts I can use in fiction where sadly a drunks fiction is for their book not mine.

And so where are we with the Libor Rate Crime Against All of Humanity? I want doors broken down, men dragged away in handcuffs, shots fired, tear gas used, get the guys who did this out of those buildings and put them into custom made outsourced buildings of our own choosing. Nice buildings with bars, cute men in uniforms, little TV dinner trays for food, and give them calendars to meditate upon for a decade or two or even three!

I’m not a death penalty type, but I’m certainly alright with putting bankers who have eaten from humanities monetary trough and are remorseless about the misery and pain they have been the cause of. We’ve got tens of millions of workers out of jobs across the globe, I’ve seen estimates (facts not opinion) that go close to 100 million, and the bankers looting the system that crashed because of their misconduct remain untouched and unbowed smoking cigars and drinking fine wine in the Hamptons out of reach from the non-banking collectively screwed over majority of us as if we don’t know where they are and don’t know what to do.

One of these days the posse is going to saddle up and come for these amoral folk… or, perhaps that is just my opinion and as everybody knows putting the bankers away is a fact humanity seems not to be entitled to.


“I can see how a good photograph could be a breath of fresh air in a stale mind.”

Keefe smiled and had a faraway look in his eye,

Gretel got a stoic expression on her face, “He’s a nice enough looking man and, when the time comes and if he picks me, I’m aim to play the sweetest peach he’s ever picked even if it turns out I’m the most rotten woman he ever shared a bed with.”

“Can’t be evil if you end up saving our little town,”

“Might just do the trick,” Gretel said, “every time I’ve climbed into bed with a man it’s been for either love or fun, haven’t tried doing it for my civic duty, it could put a whole new wrinkle on the thing.”


You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

well drilling rig



The drive to Holbrook, Arizona was good! Included was a spectacular 24 hours in Camp Verde, Arizona with our youngest daughters 88 year old  grandmother. Slept along the banks of the Verde River. Up over into the high country to Holbrook, Arizona where I fell upon this fine machine in transit from California to destinations we can only imagine! This is the exact machine I’d imagined for chapter one of Hot Spring Honeymoon. It only took a 927 mile drive to find what I’d imagined…






Card Carrying Union Member…

So, that’s my sloppy theory about why labor’s share of national income has been declining worldwide. I have no idea what would turn it around, other than an ever-deepening economic crisis that leads to organizing of that sort that greatly empowers labor, seriously threatens economic elites, and restores labor’s bargaining power. Until then, I’m afraid, things are likely to get worse before they get better.

Kathleen Geier Washington Monthly Political Animal


Bishop Pine


Labor’s Fair Share

I keep casting about for a capitalism that offers a deal that is fair and square. We know that free trade agreements have allowed for arbitrage. That pollution, wages and regulation have been part of the negotiations, but that the negotiators have been between nation-state agencies and corporate interest groups who are much less concerned with these issues. Now we come to this super cycle, this relentless decade after decade decline in labor being cut out of the deal rather than kept in as part of a healthy whole. And so here we are! Without a robust effort to maintain policy that strengthens labors role, without a robust mission to strengthen the social welfare mechanisms that buffer the harshness of the business cycle, democracies are made more fragile when tough times arrive. And so they have. A countries stability is vital to all of its citizens welfare. The more powerful must restrain their impulses to not share the profits with the less powerful. There is simply too much at risk, too much to lose, too much harm to be unleashed.  From John Maynard Keynes: “Nothing corrupts society more than to disconnect effort and reward.”



“You started picking yet?” Gretel asked pulling Keefe up to his feet.

“Yes I have, was up the mountain with Bero, he organized a crew,”

“How’d it go?”

“Did real good, hauled two truckloads off that mountain.”

“So, what’s that mean?”

“Means folk here are going to have the means to make a good life right here. Going to change their lives for the better instead of having worked all day and not have a thing to show for it.”