Send in the Clowns, Where are the Clowns, They’re Already Here

The sense of common decency is a rare commodity these days, a very rare commodity indeed, something that has all but disappeared in this day and age. Brazen means someone without shame. The parties that have taken an entire nation hostage just so that they don’t have to reveal certain unspeakable facts certainly have no concept of what shame is.

Beppo Grilla, Stand-Up Comic, Italian Parliament Member

home away from home


There’s a crazy little shack beyond the tracks
And ev’rybody calls it the sugar shack

(This particular shack is on the banks of the Carquinez Strait…)

Why of why can’t we punish, strip of privilege, stop listening to, or force them to admit they were wrong? Alan Greenspan should be stripped of his pension for not doing anything about the housing bubble. Jean-Claude Trichet Europe’s Central Banker now retired for blowing bubbles in Greece, Portugal and Ireland; utterly preventable and of course another doer of nothing at the least should be told to shut up and go home. Beppo Grillo the Italian stand-up comic turned politician suggests Berlusconi’s money and access to media has earned him a free get out of jail card and why?  Spain’s government and silly royal family both have squandered a great deal of good will as they’ve allowed all manner of cronyism to infiltrate policy. That one will break my heart as Spain is a great country and their young democracy is as delicate and new since the end of Franco’s rule. But, let’s get back to these peaceful and enlightened shores for a moment. Timmy Geitner for doing nothing about Libor, only the single largest looting in the world’s financial system and the best Tim could do is send a memo to England’s regulator? Really? Phil Gramm for his wreckage called  credit default swaps. Add Bill Clinton and Robert Rubin to that train wreck. Anybody see a pattern here? Major policy mayhem, tens of millions of workers have lost their jobs or are working for less or part time. I don’t understand why we must suffer buffoon’s that upon failing in the arena of public policy. And then the mentally deranged society known as all of the Republican House of Representatives, and sad to say too many House Democrat’s that should know better have just voted to undo the as yet implemented new law that was going to try in the least most weak way to regulate credit default swaps… This is our world. This is not a pretty picture. This is not going to end well. And you wonder why so many of us are feeling kind of neurotically pre-apocalyptic about the world that we live in? It is the stuff of human folly.



“And everybody knows that,” Keefe explained, “and it’s why everyone trusts you. We all know you wouldn’t steal a thing from nobody, but you’d probably have to fight off the temptation twice as hard as average person.”

“You think that’s what qualifies me for the job?”

“Sure it does, you got as much passion as you got regrets, and that’s just exactly the kind of shaman this cave consecration is going to need.”


The Usual Suspects

Two other important examples the study dissects are financial deregulation in the United States and privatization in post-Soviet Russia. In both cases, economic reforms that made a lot of sense in the abstract and in terms of economic efficiency had the unintended consequence of strengthening already powerful political interests.

As the powerful often do, they overplayed their hand. The result was a political spiral which in the United States helped set off the 2008 financial crisis and in Russia led to the rise of President Vladimir V. Putin and his authoritarian regime.

Some Cracks in the Technocratic Cult

Chrystia Freeland, Reuters

Feb08 021aaa


Trailer for sale or rent, rooms to rent for 50 cents….

Well, there are no angels in this hall of mirrors. The equitable distribution of wealth is the result of policy. The rubes that conjured up Europe’s efforts to restart their economies have been busy dolling out solutions favored by the elites. Here in this country the free spending warmongering you know who (All of one party, and too many from the other) have done a one-eighty. They are in slash and burn mode doing everything they can to dismantle the social safety net, not because they want to but because the global financial crisis leaves them no choice. It isn’t plausibly deniable any longer. A determined, elite, wealthy few have persuaded their politically connected influencers to lower trade barriers, reduce their taxes, and set law that looks the other way and allows them to keep their money in the Cayman Islands. They are not enlightened beings. They don’t know more than you do. They get away with these things not because they are right, but because we let them. It’s like a low budget movie. It looks cheap, scripts bad, and the actors in scene after scene are caught in the act of acting. Time to change the channel.



“Hop on up, put your head on a pillow… make a wish.” Keefe said flaring his eyebrows with mischief.

“I can’t climb into bed with you smack dab in the middle of Main Street.”

“Oh, for god sakes Gretel,” Keefe said. “I don’t bite.” He slapped the bed next to him with his hand. “Do some stargazing. Make a wish. All you’re going to do is go home brush your teeth, put on your pajama’s and stare at a ceiling.”

“Keefe Kenny if the sheriff comes by and you get me into trouble.” She cocked her head to the side looking for some reason to see the truth in what he’d said.

“Wishing on a star isn’t a crime.”

“Making impossible wishes that never come true could be.”


A Gross National Happiness Capitalism

 There are more than two thousand publicly owned electric utilities now operating, day by day, week by week, throughout the United States (many in the conservative South). Indeed, 25 percent of US electricity is supplied by locally owned public utilities and co-ops.

                 What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution

                 Gar Alperovitz  Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland


tonopah, nevada shack


BOOM AND BUST                            TONOPAH, NEVADA

We are a democracy, we are a republic, and we are capitalists. There are particular pieces of our economy that function best in the private sector and other pieces that are best kept in the public sector. We are having a hell of a time aren’t we? Monster sized banks smothering politicians with outsized donations get the recipients to sing their hymns. We’ve privatized, deregulated, and left a reckless free market unsupervised. We are only one of many capitalists in the world, one of many flavors, while our multinational corporations once birthed here have slipped the noose and now float about flitting from nation state to nation state seeking to press their advantage. It isn’t too difficult to understand even if it is nearly impossible to gain a vote in our favor from a Washington paid to look the other way. I would think a company that made bicycles, one owned and operated by its workers, a company managed by a team elected by the workers, wouldn’t allow management to unbolt their equipment, and ship their factory to China. The only explanation for such behavior is that our incentives are not aligned with our interests. Our interests have been hijacked. I’m looking for a more compassionate capitalism.



“We’ll have to find a way of changing his mind.” Fletcher McCrea said.

“Man like that doesn’t change his mind.” Dusty said.

“Meadowhawk starts changing a mind the day someone sets foot here.” Keefe said. “Raise your hands if you ever had Dotty and Gage give you credit?”

Near everyone raised their hands.

“Look around,” Keefe said, “You see, Dotty and Gage made a life here because they fell in love with the people here, and they know who their customers are and what their customers mean, it’s about us sticking together instead of all of us being picked apart.”


It’s Nothing But Chump Change

“Sergey Brin at Google who just had the thought of, well, if we give away all the information services, but we make money from advertising, we can make information free and still have capitalism. But the problem with that is it reneges on the social contract where people still participate in the formal economy ( people are no longer paid for the content they create in this model). And it’s a kind of capitalism that’s totally self-defeating because it’s so narrow. It’s a winner-take-all capitalism that’s not sustaining.”


  Jaron Lanier

 The internet destroyed the middle class, Salon Magazine

The way of the world

It’s Not Far, And it’s Time We Did it…

The digital revolution (and like you I do enjoy all the perks) has been disruptive to many industries. Kodak’s gone, the camera is part of a device we know as a smart phone. In today’s Financial Times the editorial suggests France’s internet transaction tax is a bad idea. The French have this notion of using a 4% tax to fund their arts programs. You know all those things that the digital revolution killed. But, this idea would be meddling, and at first glance if you are a patriotic open market, free trading, red blooded capitalist you ought not to be doing such a thing. Those French! Or should we? We need to update capitalism. It means altering the rules of the road. It means developing a set of policy’s worldwide. The financial sector is a mess. The atmosphere desperately needs our attention, and millions upon millions of people in Europe and the USA need to be put back to work. It doesn’t have to be this way. With our economic system in desperate need of an upgrade there couldn’t be a better moment than right now to bring to heel and rebalance this great global enterprise for the sake, not of the elites, but for the sake of the common good. Call me a dreamer, but that’s what novelists do. We show the world the way.


Jolene spoke out for the award ribbon women, “One thing me and the girls have been good at is changing how a man sees things.”

“Teamwork that’s the whole idea,” Keefe said.

“Me and the girls ready to do whatever needs getting done.”

“Sal and I are ready too…” Mitzi said.

“We didn’t come here to just sleep with Fletcher McCrea,” Jolene was being as honest as she could. “We ended up here because we didn’t much care for how the world was changing out there.”

“This isn’t pie in the sky,” Keefe lifted his glass to toast, “To Meadowhawk and the people who love her, and heaven and to the good citizens doing the common good and end up there.”


Voluptuous Economics and Stingy Sweethearts

MONDRAGON Corporation is a business-based socioeconomic initiative with deep roots in the Basque Country… Fosters participation and the involvement of people in the management, profits and ownership of their companies, developing a shared project which unites social, business and personal progress.

From Mondragon’s website


If the Best is Yet Come, Exactly What was All of That?

Answer: Global Financial Crisis

There is a challenge to making economics sexy while at the same time making sexy economical. I suppose we all know sex sells, but what a writer needs to do is find the means of selling elements in a story that at first blush don’t look as alluring. I was at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco last night listening to Sadhguru and Paul Hawken’s enter into a freeform conversation. One an Indian mystic (he didn’t disappoint) while the other a bestselling ecology author (heart in right place) go back on forth on the vast topic of nurturing into this earth a capitalism of sustainable and transformational economics. All of this came by way of my being introduced to Yale’s Literary Theory scholar Paul Fry’s extraordinary lectures (all for free at iTunes University) regarding the use of economics authors use when writing narrative fiction. Paul Fry explains in no uncertain terms that all modern fiction is rooted in Marx and Engel’s works. By use of their framework and reference point we can locate where we fit. So, for example capitalism is off to the right of communism, while cooperatives are somewhere left of capitalism. I’ll leave it to the scholars to explain where our revolutionary-socialist-Muslim-Kenyan President fits into this scheme. Making the economics of a thing isn’t all that sexy, but for a books success you damn well have to try. So, try this… First, how does an individual fit into a particular system? Second, how does the society benefit from each individuals effort? And last and most important of all! Can we tell a story about that relationship? A narrative that arouses passion, a story that makes some kind of sense, and can we do it soon? If you haven’t noticed our current story is at risk of a not so happy ending. “Okay, everybody, quiet on the set, let’s take it from the top…”


Tallula jutted her jaw out. She walked around the other side of the fire pit, skinny in jeans, smallest woman of them all, “I remember, first off,” Tallula said unbuttoning her shirt, “you started dating Sharlene, and one night you came knocking at my door, you called out through the screen all innocent like, pretending as if you didn’t know exactly what you were doing, you said, ‘Sharlene’s not feeling so good,’ that’s what you said, ‘maybe we might sit on the sofa, have a beverage, and talk a while, before I go home.’ Those were your exact words. I’ll never forget.”

Sharlene was on the other side of the fire pit with the others, “thought it was the right thing to do. I wasn’t in love with Fletcher, not yet.”

Fletcher’s eyes shot toward Sharlene’s.


The Greatest Human Folly of All Time

“There is a bottleneck in human history. The human condition is going to change. It could be that we end in a catastrophe or that we are transformed by taking much greater control over our biology.

“It’s not science fiction, religious doctrine or a late-night conversation in the pub.

“There is no plausible moral case not to take it seriously.”

                                         How Are Human Beings Going to Become Extinct

                                         Sean Coughlan BBC 

End time



Characters in a story make choices. One choice and things might go well, make another and matters may spin out of control. What if the nuclear waste in Hanford, Washington spins wildly out of control and ends up irradiating most of the North America? According to an article by Valerie Brown published in Scientific America on May 9th that is indeed the problem technicians face as they race to find a method of securing 177 underground tanks so they might not face a chain reaction hydrogen explosion that result from leaks from the metal corrosion. When writing a comedy it is wise to factor into the stories equation the consequences of human folly. What is being made clear at this moment in history is that our political and economic system seem ill suited to our navigating the harm our use of the world’s resources seem to be causing. The matter is not whether or not we should do something, all of us know better, but it is a question of how in the world to arrange the world into some collective means of doing what we all know must be done. Underlying our species survival is an enormous reservoir of powerlessness, something approximating a Shakespearean tragedy. We are having an impossible time trying to not be the cause of our own demise… on the one hand it is tragic and on the other, through the lens of human folly it is a comedy. All’s Well That Ends Well.



Fletcher walked back and stood in front of the assembled audience. The valance for the altar was made up of chiffon and taffeta square dancer petticoats. They’d been strung together into an awe inspiring kaleidoscope of turquoise, ruby, and purple laces and satin sheers intended to tickle an eye. Undergarments for this shaman were near where sublime and sacred might meet. He gleamed in the candlelight, a bird of prey perching upon a nest of fine ladies lingerie, a complex matrix of turquoise miner, town’s most notorious lover and now the biggest miracle of all… a virgin shaman. His spiritual powers were a revelation.

Biography · Books · Performances

Sustainable Comedy and the Folly of Capitalism

For years, economists have posited that prosperity requires growth, with environmental damage as the regrettable but unavoidable consequence. A growing number of critics are now challenging this equation, though, calling for a radical revamping of the economic system.

                             Nils Klawitter

touring vehicle

My Cowboy Cadillac and the Place I’ve Called Home for Near Four Decades

I’ve drifted the American West as a juggling act for much of the last four decades. Crossing vast landscapes, pulling into isolated towns, spying all manner of misguided enterprise or not. A good drifter knows how to pull off the paved highways and roll out into the wild lands on the dirt tracks. Time stills the pace of the modern world and in its place the chirp of bird, the dusk, the breeze, the silence. Surrounded as we are by so many man imagined systems, especially the concept of money and the economy in all its shapes and forms, what we are awakening to is the inadequacy of capitalism’s various configurations. Large scale businesses have proliferated until we sense the festering clash of purpose between their zeal for profit and humanities need for survival. It is out here in Nevada where I have placed my latest novel, Hot Spring Honeymoon, and it is here where the struggle of a small community being overrun by the globalized economic system that the story plays out as comedy.

British economist Tim Jackson. In his 2009 book “Prosperity Without Growth,” he outlined a “coherent ecological macroeconomics” based on a “fixed” economy with strict upper limits on emissions and resources.


“Let me have a look,” the scientist said examining the side of Keefe’s head. “How do you feel?”

“I see things now I didn’t see before. I hear things I never listened to.” Keefe said. “My ex-wife looks at me like I’m nothing but a piece of vulture bait.”

“You think something’s wrong?”

“There’s always been something wrong with me. But, since I got bonked on the head I see an eternity of beauty in a thimbleful of whiskey. I love this hot spring; know what I’m doing now. It seems to come natural to me…And I got to tell you, man to man, I’ve never seen anything in my whole life that has riled up my thirst more than the sight of that woman they call my ex-wife.”


Market Testing Narrative Or How I Celebrated My Vegetative State of Mind



Solving Equation of a Hit Film Script, With Data New York Times May 6, 2013 Front Page (Below the Fold)


Time heals all things. Yesterday while flying back from Seattle I choked down this front pager from the NYT on the notion of using data before the making of a script into a movie. Wounded as the feral writing animal I am the notion of data supplanting the intuition, experience, and imagination incensed the very core of my humanity. Of course the bottom lines of feature films more and more resemble narrative equations that temporarily beguile the viewer, but like so much that is disposable in this moment in the world of commerce the viewing makes us full yet unfulfilled. For the humanity in us requires that we be immersed in experiences we expected yet until this moment had never found. Great narrative is the commitment to explore the cosmos, both its most interior parts and its most eternal. The artist is the indispensable gills that net out of the world’s waters the truths that will yield life sustaining insight.

“Gregor Mendel uncovered the secrets of genetic inheritance with just enough data to fill a notebook. The important thing is gathering the right data, not gathering some arbitrary quantity of it.”

Christopher Mims,

Most Data isn’t Big, and Businesses are Wasting Money Pretending it is



“I am not a sacred type being,”

“Fletcher McCrea,” Keefe argued, “You are just what the good lord needs.”

“I don’t even go to church,”

“Everybody knows that,” Keefe said. “What’s even better there isn’t a soul in town less likely to invoke a sense of the divine.”

“I should stick to what I’m good at.”

“The last thing we need is someone actually pretending to be truly sacred come out here and muck up everything.”




The Wisdom of Pilots… And the Fools of Wall Street

Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste. It’s what everything else isn’t.

Theodore Roethke


Seattle Seaplanes


The debate regarding the kind of capitalism might best serve our world seems to be at the center of many controversies. Never was a comedy about what has happened to the world’s economy been more worthy of laughter and scorn. The ascendant totalitarian communist bankers of China are not an institution worthy of the world’s trust. The European Union’s leaders have been running a failed experiment. And then there are the masters of the universe in the United States and their brothers from the City of London, and I am sure you might know that the damage they have wrought to this day has gone unpunished. Somewhere in this quagmire of hubris is blind confidence that results in human folly. The discovery of the comedy is an intuitive journey.


“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a resort that specialized in honeymoons,”

Keefe finished his beer, “We have a quality control program in place. Why we are popular destination. Hell, I spent a whole week’s labor eliminating squeaky mattresses; figuring a way to stop headboards from slapping against a wall.”

“I’d imagine there is a real craft to hospitality services,” Jace said.

“We put in dimmer switches for the lights so that a seduction and consummation might go extra slick. There’s deluxe soundproofing and double glazed windows, what we’re trying to do here is make a path to romantic feelings.”

“I like that, go all in, dedication to your craft.”


Emotional Biographic Imagery in the Mind Cave

My work is emotionally autobiographical. It has no relationship to the actual events of my life, but it reflects the emotional currents of my life. I try to work every day, because you have no refuge but writing.

Tennessee Williams


Cave Walls


The Mind in the Cave

Barcelona’s Gothic’ February 2013

You can see Ice Age Art: Arrival of the Modern Mind at the British Museum. The fiction writer paints both temporal coordinates (state of mind, emotional circumstances,) while specifying place, character and situation. All of this on our modern day cave walls. The talented writer has a knack for understanding emotion. We trace a scene step by step, building a readers sense of the truth by nailing the state of mind. Once we’ve developed a character the reader comes to expect them to be consistent and of course the whole game is to force the character to make the unanticipated choice. If you trace what the character in a story confronts and then what action they take you are looking at the author’s emotional biographical mind. This is our shared humanity, the same humanity we glimpse on the cave wall.


 “I am not a sacred type being,”

“Fletcher McCrea,” Keefe argued, “You are just what the good lord needs.”

“I don’t even go to church,”

“Everybody knows that,” Keefe said. “What’s even better there isn’t a soul in town less likely to invoke a sense of the divine.”

“I should stick to what I’m good at.”

“The last thing we need is someone actually pretending to be truly sacred come out here and muck up everything.”

“My talent is in talking a woman into bed.”