Tag Archives: Survival

Ode to Practicality

 

knowing better

Compact but Powerful Anti-Bucket Brigade Member

Fixing toilets and bilge pumps is in the let’s getaway and go cruising deal. You want to go sailing then you want to become a crackerjack marine toilet repairman. You want spare parts and hand tools at the ready. When the time comes you want to make quick work of the chore and put the whole stinking mess into one part of one piece of your morning.

People unfamiliar with the sailing world need to be brought up to speed on this odd new quirky corner of the sporting world they’ve stepped aboard. First off wear non-scuff white soled shoes. Don’t ask why  like some rotten spoiled child— just, do it. Second if you use the toilet don’t put anything down that toilet you didn’t eat or drink. I am not a man of faith  but believe me toilet paper flushed down a head cannot bring any good to the future career of a toilet repairman looking to get off early. If you find yourself in a relationship with a marine toilet for heavens sake have an able bodied seaman explain how  your personal human plumbing works and  this dang completely odd marine toilet thing interfaces when the two mysterious waste elimination systems are joined together while enjoying a romp upon a storm tossed sea. You will be surprised to learn that there is nothing simple about the urgency of having no reliable or workable place to go.

knowing better three

That is a lot of Broken Toilets right there…

Bilge pumps are all about getting water inside your boat to go outside. The physics of bilge pumps has to do with lift. You are lifting water and every gallon you lift— repeat after me— weighs seven pounds. It doesn’t take long to figure out that lifting ten gallons of water is the equivalent of lifting???  You see what I mean? So I have a particular passion for keeping my electric bilge pump in first class (it does the lifting-I’ll do the sailing) condition. I want that puppy shooting water out of my boat with wild abandon. I want my bilge pump thirsty. I want this beast wanting and ready. About the only thing a non-sailing passenger needs to understand about the technology of bilge pumps is that it isn’t the pump it is the location of the pump and the natural inclination of the designer of sailboats to place the bilge pump in the most impossible to remove and replace location that can be devised. If designing a boat is difficult then designing a serviceable location for a bilge pump is virtually impossible. If you want to have a real conversation about the circumstances of the human condition I would recommend locating a veteran well driller and listening to what they have to say about the whole task of lifting water in sufficient and reliable enough quantities to make property viable and human beings anywhere near happy. I presume that the engineering that goes into keeping a brassiere in top working condition constitutes a very close to the same kind of hands-on challenge to those engaged in the deployment and use of such vital lifting devices.

knowing better two

Floating Repair Station

There are of course a whole host of systems and devices that for no reason whatever that you or anyone with half a brain you trust can understand seem to keep working in spite of all the forces in nature arraigned against them. Cotter, clevis and hairpins come to mind. Gaskets and exotic high pressure oil and waterline hose fittings are in this category. The cutlass bearing is a book unto itself. If you don’t know the difference between standing rigging and running rigging don’t ask. Just replacing one of your two or three water pumps on your exotic diesel engine can require a call to Chase/JP Morgan Bank. We’re no longer talking waterline we’re talking credit line.

This quagmire of technology once mastered is what you will bet your life on while for no fault of your own having decided that what you really needed to do was sail two or three thousand miles across ocean so that you might not feel quite so utterly misanthropic. Just so you know not fifty years ago most sailors solved most of what I’ve just explained by using a device known as a bucket. This is a handy-dandy all purpose device that may be used in the event that all else fails. One more caveat about karma, thoughts as things, manifestors and self-sufficiency. A sailors willingness to use a bucket in the event that all other possible devices have been rendered out of working order is in inverse emotional resistance to a certain person you are close to who has spent most of the past twenty urgent minutes prior to breaking down and finally resorting to using the bucket repeating over and over again these magic words— I should have known better…

Edited Red Star

A Circus Show School

shoes

School of Circus Dreams

Circus summer camp is a portal into the mosaic of my heart and hope. In this station of my life helping youngsters look beyond the finite horizon to what is beyond animates a piece of my own biography. I was that misunderstood boy busy box, the over loveable squirming unmanageable never quite able to be quite entirely quiet kid in class.

Whatever national lunacy going down in the media last week was not going on where I put my time and energy. Sure I was worried about our students. We have no metal detectors, no fences, gatekeepers. Circus camp was taking place in an ordinary city where we go about our business assuming we live in an open, free and safe society.

My schedule is pressing. I want to at least send out this emergency flair of hope. We are better than all of this. We are a loving and kind people. We are the mother’s and father’s who traveled and performed and who now teach. We are guardians and our duty to the future is paramount. To be entrusted with 95 new souls means to keep both hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road.

diablo

Toys as Gateway to a Good Life

Two young brothers were in my group. If not alert to the impulse you’d peg them as troublemakers, as class disrupters. Once I realized how silly my expectations were, how they were never going to act like the best behaved girl of the same age, from the same neighborhood, in the same class things only could improve. All I had to do was sprinkle some time and attention their way. All I had to do was appreciate those two lads, point them toward opportunity and then watch as their imaginations and playfulness took flight.

The two boys noticed right off I was making room for them and in exchange they met their instructor with a measure of mutual respect. I had 95 separate, distinct, individual experiences with our future. I worked my tail off and I’m grateful I had a shot at sharing my circus dream with my community’s children.

Edited Red Star

 

 

 

 

March 14, 2018 Weather Related

You Win a Baby Blue White Leather Interior Cadillac

Boat
He drives a boat

Rain is the sworn enemy of a street performer. Cold wind and ice come in second with unbearable high humidity and heatwaves next. The not too hot, not too cold is supportive of such things as solvency. It is the shoe that is always about to drop. We’ll discuss noise in another post.

I’m feeling slightly less dread after seeing that back east in Western Pennsylvania there turned out to be 113,813 people that see the world same as I see things and 113,186 people that don’t. No matter— I’ll fight just as hard for their Social Security and Medicare. Best of all we’re just slightly less off the rails this morning. That’s a good thing.

I’ve got a good pile of nonsense stacked up on my desk, some writing to do, a bit more Norman Mailer to digest, and an exercise bike and handstand training session dead ahead. That’s how we roll here in downtown Los Angeles Arts District.

Arts District Art
Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

For those living in Northern California you may turn your attention to Oakland, California for the weekend of March 24-25. I will perform beneath the oak trees at Children’s Fairyland. The first paragraph in this post could influence the outcome or even whether I appear at all. We’ll see.

Something on global warming…“If you haven’t personally experienced climate change then you haven’t pissed off my wife yet.”

Thanks again for pulling on in and spending half a minute of your valuable time with me. Come on back. I’ll be right here doing my part to make this a better world and a niftier website.

Edited Red Star

March 9th, 2018 Fresh Press

rainbow

“I’ve got the world on a string
I’m sitting on a rainbow
Got the string around my finger
What a world, what a life – I’m in love”

Good morning from Emeryville.

We’ve been in a whole foods plant based diet revolution here. Heading to Berkeley Bowl for ingredients to make a pumpkin custard. This from a book How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger. He is a reliably disciplined expert on what is in food. Go to www.nutritionfacts.org and start learning more about what’s really best best best to eat. You can thank me later. Diet has been top of the take care of myself list of late.

I’ll continue work on a piece about traveling by truck town to town, gig to gig, show to show. This goes back to the early days before ATM’s, cell phones, videotape or even answering machines. Busking— street performing— has long been about the physical body and voice of a performer and their living and breathing audience. The gadgetry of costumes and props are as timeless and timelessness gets. So, there’s that.

Work continues today on the psychological framework to a successful new comedy that flirts with the circuit popping problems of climate science. So, some brain power dedicated to that conundrum continues.

I am prepping the sailboat for offshore coastal California cruising and I’ve a long list of parts and pieces awaiting attention and time. The boat gets a fraction of my attention today.

And finally a reminder that there is an abundance of material here to explore. You can click on the Highlight Reel link and see some footage of my work as a performer. You can click on my link to my book Hot Spring Honeymoon and bravely sample some comic prose. If you want to go deeper try Pleasure Craft my other novel.

Finally, thanks for dropping— come back soon

Edited Red Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start Here (More Beginnings…)

Starting Here
Clipper Cove on San Francisco Bay

 

I’ve wanted this portal, my main link to the outside world to speak more immediately, about things that concern us both today. My main concern is that this evening is road dog night. Jump from downtown Los Angeles back up to Northern California. So there is that.

But, what you have come here for may be for a great many much more grand purposes than to find out where the seat of my pants is going to be placed somewhere after sunset. I understand how you feel.

Here we go. Let’s try connecting a few dots. Show business first and foremost is to be found right around this page. You can visit my highlight reel link just above where you’ll find a short piece of Dana Smith in Edmonton from a few years ago. Shot, edited and to the extent possible Alan Plotkin tried to be sure to annoy his subject matter by including certain moments of resistance the entertainer encountered while playing to his crowd. So there’s that.

You can check out my novels by clicking on the link. You can sample some of my blog posts. You can contact me and last of all once you’ve put yourself through all these digital contortions you can grip that mouse in your hand firmly click and depart for virtual experiences near and far, better or worse, few I prefer to believe a good bit less bent than mine.

I’m wrestling with some new writing on the topic of street theater. Have a boat I’m getting ready for sailing off the coast of California this summer. I’ve been threatening to mount a new performance titled the World Emergency Full Catastrophe Climate Change Comedy Show. It’s not like I’m just sitting here counting my lucky stars. I’m working twice as hard as the next guy and getting half as far. Artistic endeavors are seldom achievements we can measure as going lightning quick. More like they take their own good time, arrive as they will, when they’re ready. Sort of like this website change. I want to welcome you here by keeping it real and fresh. I’ll be back soon enough with more for you to see and chew. Until then eat more vegetables, drink more water and try to get some sleep.

Edited Red Star

The Life Extenders from Hell’s Kitchen

Inner Babe

A Fate Worse Than Death

I’ve taken my grains more often by shot glass than breakfast bowl. But a boot needs powering up and a trail needs hiking. So it turns out the time had come to cook barley and rye, whole grains, into a porridge.

All this virtuous behavior rattles my self-destructive nature. As I stand here I’m not so much aiming for immortality as merely extending some honest to goodness mortality.

They’ve already rescinded my soap box privileges. Nobody that knows nothing about the sanctity of life would even allow me a shot at a church pew or petri dish.

Happily married and duty bound to uphold my part of the bargain has provided an opportunity to seek out affairs of another kind. Oatmeal has been my baseline morning mistress since I saw my first day without French toast. After a spell putting oats on the stove was a heartless dreary unsatisfactory form of foreplay with a new day.

Homework was required to extract myself from this gustatory dead end affair. First, the new fling had to be organic. Second, the new girl had to be the real thing,  she could not be a genetically modified organism. Rice drink would replace bovine produced milk. Agave sweetener would substitute for refined sugar. Chopped fresh fruit was approved by my quorum-posse-tyranny of life extension advisers.

All that barley, rye and agave put me within spitting distance of an altogether more adult activity than turning me into some sad transsexual version of Little Bo Peep. If this was still a democracy you can bet the election would have come out in favor of the other guy. The voting machines are rigged in this household. Why in hell do Kellogg’s cornflakes keep winning every morning of the week?

The main thing to know is that eventually we’ll all be forced to find an appetite for something other than Pigs in a Blanket, deep-fried-Snicker’s Bars, or Jimmy Dean’s pure-pork-sausages. You’ll be thinner, walk faster and feel like you are starving half to death after having engorged yourself like a tick on a leafy green kale salad.

new hat

All Hat Nearly No Cholesterol

Before death nearly everything held dear including our favorite hunting dog will turn and bite us in the ass. I’m going for a hike with the vipers, this diet is venomous enough. From here on out and back its nothing but bug spray, sunscreen and a handful of fruits and nuts. Save me from the lettuce and lemon juice, how about giving me a sip of that filtered water before death by desire comes show me exit door.

 

What’s in Your Wallet…

trail doctor two

Outdoorsmen have had their camouflaged knickers knotted by the scorched earther’s embedded in the bowels of our Department of the Interior. Secretary Ryan Zinke has risen way beyond his ability to grasp the circumstances his constituents face.

Montana can be divided into many pieces of a kind, but the most common is a man or woman with a job that doesn’t pay much and a benefit package that provides even less. You are in Montana for some kind of love that pertains to other matters than “what’s in your wallet?”

Big mining, big timber, big ranching and gigantic bellyaching are time honored traditions here in Big Sky country. Preservationists are a luxury item. There’s a hay crop to bale and a cow to turn fat before another bout of frostbite comes nipping at the loners noses. —You go sustain some other piece of paradise, move along before we send you back to where you belong.

Whitefish Energy, a two-man operation arrived in Puerto Rico with a 300 million dollar no-bid, no-questions-asked and none given contract. Poor as dirt, hungry as a mouse in an abandon high prairie drought strickened chapel these business operators descended upon the more miserable seeking to pave their way back to gold plated paradise.

Montana does farm some but resource extractive industries, the kind that own mining claims, grazing rights and timber permits tend to bully and bluff the state legislature in St Helena. Mixed into this mortar of citizenry trying to hold the center together are hunters, fishermen, and impossible to understand outdoor recreationalists who go out into the magnificent wilderness areas and do lyrical harm to nothing. —This kind are worse than poets.

Good Old Zink’ knows all about this skirmish. The Interior Secretary even speaks with heartfelt insincerity to the human recreationalists. Hunters and gatherers are living and doing some further learning.

Desperate times require desperate measures and there is not a more determined kind than a retired Navy Seal turned real estate developer, oil and gas pipeline investor and now Secretary of the Department of the Interior.

Willow Lake Two

If the radical environmental activists preservation and sustainability strategies win then the developers and resource extractors lose. On the other hand, if Zink’s crowd prevails, then every last one of us, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends and not friends, folk on both sides, we all lose.

“So, what’s in your wallet?”