Tag Archives: Street Theater

The Nevada Single-Leaf Pinion Pine Nut as Plot

They are right there... those are those dark spots on the hills

The Nevada single-leaf pinion pine (pinus monophylla) produces a nut. If you’ve ever made pesto you will recall that most recipes call for the use of pine nuts. If you’ve ever gone to a grocery store to buy pine nuts you soon discover that they are expensive. Retail they sell for near thirty dollars a pound.

Pinion and juniper grow together. The trees back in the ‘50’s were considered a nuisance. They removed them by hooking a stout anchor chain between two dozers and then our barbaric forefathers cleared the land. The land was now more suited to grazing cattle. Ranchers somehow overlooked the fact that beef earned them peanuts compared to what a crop of pinion nuts could bring.

Now the Nevada single-leaf pinion nut is not just some run of the mill pine nut. It is in the opinion of those who are supposed to know regarded to be one of nature’s most delicious prizes. Nevada pinion nuts are nature’s highest achievement.

If those old cowboys are anything like me they probably sat on their saddles looking out over their herd watching the sunset and the whole time they didn’t realize that they were looking right at the biggest cash crop growing in the Great Basin of the American west.

Biologists put pencil to paper and the value of the pine nuts in Nevada are an estimated 100 million dollars per year. That’s not a gold mine that’s a renewable resource. The eye popping economic value of this crop is a revelation. Add the ecological, spiritual and cultural significance of this prized nut and the wealth of this harvest boggles the human mind.

Before we knew what the heck we had we’d already removed as much as 90% of the original old growth pinion forests. Some folk are thinking might be another kind of nut if we don’t get our heads on straight and put new trees back in where the old ones once grew.

What’s this have to do with the price of tea in China? Exactly what I thought you’d be thinking too. What it means is that there exists a spectacular means to help the people right in Nevada to become self sufficient, care for the land, provide a valuable product to the world, and earn a wage that can help support a worker, a family, a community, a state and ultimately the whole nation.

We built the Bonneville Dam and it is as if nobody gave it a second thought as to what might happen to the salmon. Until taxol was discovered to be of use fighting cancer the Pacific Yew tree was a garbage tree of minimal value and of limited practical uses.

My next novel is set in Nevada. It is a comedy. I’m learning about pine nuts. I’m finding out about geothermal water heated greenhouses, Basque sheepherding, turquoise mining and land speed world records. I’m busy trying to make things up (plotting the novel) and it turns out truth as always is stranger than fiction.

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Crying at Weddings

Bachelor Setup...

I cry at weddings. I don’t need to know the couple. I just find the whole thing so romantic. My mind begins to wander and I become overwhelmed.

You know the sociologists are fretting over the differential emerging between various income groups and their likelihood that they will marry. More money is predictive of taking the nuptials.

I’ve also cried when I look at my bank account. I’ve been overwhelmed now and again in my life. You know the cupboard is bare.

So, like the whole magic as misdirection thing goes, where we divert our audience’s attention from one thing to this other thing we want them to see why the other thing we don’t want them to see we keep hidden. Now free to manipulate the thing that is out of our audience’s eyes we can take advantage of the thing not on everyone’s mind.

This situation seems to have flushed the desperado’s out from beneath their rocks.

Shock of shocks: people who don’t have any money and don’t have a job do not marry. They do tend to have sex (hey, it is something to do while waiting for a job) as this tendency seems to dominate no matter the marital status and these conjugal improvisations tend to produce pregnancies.

I think the deal is this. You want good outcomes you need good inputs. You need jobs. You need good jobs that come with good benefits. They should pay well. You take that well paid worker and put some money in his pocket send him out on a date and nature will take its course.

Isn’t it amazing how far and wide a truly huge financial crisis can reach? The numbers of unemployed, the wealth destroyed, the length of time it takes to recover, its like going to a wedding.

I’ve learned that I not only cry at weddings, but I seem to be prone to crying during a financial crisis too. I know I’m such the romantic.


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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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You Talking to Me?

A Place to Fight For Not A Place to Come for a Fight

Here is our nation’s best known asylum for the rhetorically ‘toxified practitioner’ of the fine art of heated speech.

I walked the Presidential portraits at the National Gallery. Nobody was around so I spoke to them about our nations present moment, how Congress has by its own hand driven its approval ratings to the lowest approval ratings ever recorded!

I have driven my personal approval ratings down to similar levels but that was never nationwide, it was only in the opinion of a girlfriend. My girlfriend was in a parliamentary system and once the vote of no confidence was asked for the gig was up.

Democracy as practiced in our representative system doesn’t allow for the immediate dissolution of a government and so we are stuck with our leaders until the next regularly scheduled election. This means we have to sleep together in irreconcilable difference until then and that is not a pretty pajama party we are learning.

Lobby Shop Heaven 

I was down on K Street today for lunch. The guy next to me is reading Roll Call, the local in the beltway newspaper covering all things political. I found out he’d helped the R’s impeachClinton.

It was fun. He’d tell me something completely silly and I’d tell him something he would never believe in a million years. Still we both enjoyed sleeping with enemy. I thought I’d almost got him eating progressive alternative energy nostrums right out of my hand like a tamed bird.

Capitalism is a big concept.WashingtonDCis a town where people decide what to do with money. More money for this and less money for that, depending on this or that you can find yourself on the wrong end of the ‘this or that’ receiving line.

So, there you have it. Just that simple and wouldn’t you know it just when we really needed our elected representatives to down to work we send a pack of newly elected representatives with the democracy skills of dictators to try and untangle our Great Recession mess and to ease the pain of our citizens.

We could not have picked a worse moment in our history to turn our government into this knotted, ill-tempered, uncompromising stalemate. Every single President I spoke to at the National Gallery yesterday agreed. Take my word for it. These guys know what they’re talking about.

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Factual Straightjackets

Shifting Shapes

Do you shop at the local produce markets that pop up in your community? I do. I relate to the whole notion of how much it costs to transport food long distances.

I heard that because food from the southern hemisphere swirls in the opposite direction of food in the northern hemisphere that there is potentially a detrimental consequence to eating things swirled from the opposite hemisphere that you live in.

I generally try to keep my feet on the ground. I try not to get too pie in the sky or too sure of myself. I know with a great deal of certainty that what I know is more belief than fact. I’m factually certain that I live in a fantasy world!

I’ve been studying literary theory. Turns out we rely upon Marx and Engel.  We’re stuck. For all the fulmination, all the storm and drudge, all the high minded models that have been tossed out to the world like a bone to a dog that there remains precious little changed. It is still the big boys against everybody else!

Marx is as relevant as Henry Ford. It means that the industrial revolution continues to require equitable distribution of profits between interested parties, blah, blah, blah.

I hobnob with the elite now and again. I’ll be inWashingtonD.C.this weekend. I will press the flesh. Try to move the needle. If you didn’t know it I am influential! What I have to say matters. I can move the world!

What pair of glasses do you pick up from the table of your life to see the world through? How much of what you look at is slanted to fit your beliefs and not facts? Do you know a fact when you see one? Do you understand how your sunglasses might well be mythical, magical, blinders to something you will not allow your soul to see?

Facts are stubborn things and beliefs are their straightjackets….



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.


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.