Tag Archives: Inequality

Skyline at Twilight

Women’s March Phoenix, Arizona 2019

Nashville’s famed music district is being dismantled. Nobody can blame anybody. Times haven’t changed but the price of real estate has. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Jazz a favorite idiom frequented by this street act no longer sells. America’s great gift to music exists in the hearts and minds of the musicians. The marketplace not so much.

I am ramping up for shows. If I did not exist the world would have to invent me. I’ve played the parkways and boulevards of America’s greatest cities since 1974.

The gods have tossed sky high real estate, fierce solar radiation, and an ever decreasing value of that famous buck that is supposed to stop here. Dollars do stop but in what quantity and to what useful purpose?

I got my heart set on playing Fort Collins, Colorado. Not now! I’ll arrive and set up shop uninvited. I’ll play as I can as much as I can for a few weeks in June. After I’ll run north with the arrival of summer crossing the border into Canada.

The whole street performing enterprise is scaled to the grass roots. If I can draw a crowd is one thing. If I can keep them until the end is another. Between I play my song, sing my lyric, tickle a few unsuspecting minds with my version of vagabond dreams.

Honesty is our Ultimate Elixir

Andrew Elliott a fine Australian entertainer friend employs the same tactics as I use. We move from place to place landing in the least likely public thoroughfares. Catching a crowd off guard, unprepared…think cultural shock therapy of a kind.

Hit people in the heart. Give a citizen a living example of betting everything. Funny is useful but earnest charm, authenticity and soulful purpose transcends and takes an audience further.

Death in Venice was a movie, hard times falling on Nashville’s music scene is a reality. Street theater, street performing, busking, call it what you will is the ultimate fungible form. I’ll fudge my way into the hearts and minds of the least suspecting.

I’m coming for a thousand clowns and a few thousand altered softened hearts. I’m coming for the better angels and freedom seeking immigrant Russians. I’m coming to alter the fabric of the commons. To bless the youthful dreamers looking for their true path.

As I said if I did not exist they’d have to invent me. I am like Nashville, jazz and the American Musical an indispensable historical artifact of our cultural life.

See you out there.

Robber Barons Revenge

LA Market

A Little Fixer Upper for the Newly Minted Upper Lowers

Thomas Picketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century published down the rabbit hole of 2013 quantified capital’s relentless advantage over labor. The book researched and factually illustrated that the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of return on output. In other words the rich always get richer.

And down another rabbit hole was instantly vanished vast sums due to 2008’s global financial crisis. In one day Congress gave our banks more money than had ever been given over the span of a hundred years to poverty programs. God and Congress saved the Hampton’s, helicopters and whore houses. One out of three ain’t bad.

The whole Brexit thing was related to ordinary citizens living outside London having had their fill of the consortium of international bankers holed up in the City of London from relentlessly plucking their pocketbooks with the cooperation of a bought and paid for just down the River Thames Parliament. The populist’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were both dead and never were as charming as Paul Newman or Robert Redford. The ever charming actor Ronald Reagan and Britain’s Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher are Sun City’s poster children for the Gilded Age’s resuscitation.

Camera 360

Betting the House…

Unemployment was epidemic, millions of homes foreclosed, bankruptcies skyrocketed and drug abuse, suicide and shiftlessness were synonymous with the new millennium’s urban chic. As implosions go this was a doozy, as in Neo-Duesenbergian excess.

Our French scholar dude- Picketty- had the temerity to suggest that since capital was so muscularly advantaged in the acquisition of wealth over labor that the best way to address this bully’s advantage was through the progressive taxation system that had served the free world so well since last we visited capitalism’s long lost Uncle Dave Depression of misery in the 1930’s.

To extinguish the fires of civil discord from our previous Gilded Age Teddy Roosevelt gathered the robber barons— banging their heads together until sense was made and a solution was agreed upon— that a redistributive progressive taxation system would be created to fund a social safety net so that when capitalism developed the inevitable wobbles there would be some modest stabilizers there to help and support the citizens of a country from certain misery and deprivation. If the robber barons would not block the creation of the social welfare programs our leaders would not block capitalism to run ahead at a good pace, not too fast so as to cause speculative bubbles and depressions, but fast enough to create growth while tolerating the inevitable recessionary downturns, more akin to an accident than a full catastrophe. Hence, in 1914 the creation of our Federal Reserve Bank System.

So here we are. Progressive taxation is threadbare, the social safety net is in tatters, and our latest crop of robber barons emboldened as ever desperate to horde every newly minted dime claiming the lion share of profit as their destiny and the resulting poverty their greed causes as the fault of the shiftless ungrateful rabble living just beyond their security gates.

Our politics and peace is at risk for the odd stalemated and captured bifurcated duopoly called the two party system. We have somewhere in our history chosen to layer democracy atop capitalism and ever since the two systems coexist in skirmish and dis-ease. The latest win in Congress for our oligarchs is a loss for the vast majority. The resulting size and scale of the inevitable wave heading toward the election in November 2018 remains for history to tell. This isn’t money as speech, this is overreach as blowback. I can hear the bugles, see the pitchforks- I can  imagine a progressive tax system being reinstated. The challenge to the working class has been joined.

working class heros

Enjoying the Spoils of Roosevelt’s Victory

Against the Grain

barn

The Next Steps

The current novel I am drafting is set in Napa County. Climate change, inequality and the health of of both the people and environment is under stress. Studying groundwater levels, fish extinction events, the alarming increase of childhood cancer rates (the highest in any county in California) has been painful to acknowledge. There has been a loss of innocence in my life. County officials in lockstep with the biggest agricultural corporations in the valley dictate what does and doesn’t happen here. The climate is changing, the available water has all been claimed. It is a jewel of a county and California’s smallest. It has grown into a world class international tourist destination. Both businesses and visitors clamor to come here and get a piece of the action. A wide array of community organizations are struggling to slow the rapid rate of growth. We’ll need more soul searching to bridle the billion dollar corporations that find sustainability issues irrelevant to their business plans. The struggle to thwart the rich and powerful from reining down ruin upon this world class destination falls upon the ordinary citizens who live here. Tough stuff… now with the changes in Washington DC the mood of the country seems to have turned against any further supervision or regulation of this great treasure the gods have handed to us. So, yes, I am the loyal opposition. Good ideas I’ll cooperate with and bad ideas I’ll resist. This is where we find out if we can save the world…