Paid Well Enough to Not See it Coming…

For 25 years, I have written about the social and natural evolution of Napa, a diverse county that includes rare and valuable biological “hotspots” and 140,000 people, most of whom are associated with what’s now referred to as the wine “industry.” During that time, I have learned something about developers.

Foremost is the fact that inside all of them is a 6-year-old kid dying to get out and dig a really deep hole. When they finally do get to do so, they fill the hole up with something that wasn’t there before and then repeat the experience with minor variations ad infinitum.

More disturbing, with far-reaching ramifications for all Americans, is the other fact: developers deeply, irrationally, and often vindictively resent anyone who objects to their plans, for whatever reason. This includes neighbors, citizens, scientists, clergy, and elected officials. But none receive more opprobrium than “environmentalists.”

James Conaway, Opinion Piece in Napa Register Guard May 26, 2017

http://napavalleyregister.com/wine/land-use-wine-and-trump/article_e093b513-692f-5da9-ae76-d908161b6e5f.html

 

Beyond the Present

Napa County’s 140,000 citizen’s can’t halt the torrential rain of developers arriving here with plans to build. If you are keeping score at home the developers remain unbeaten. Among the wealthiest among us a trophy property in this famed wine region is an essential element to any property portfolio. Government is controlled by Big Ag. You may want to be on the Board of Supervisor’s only if the wine industry deems your vote as sympathetic to the cause and your spine sufficiently pliant.

The velocity of the pillaging has only increased with land prices. Ordinary folk are squeezed out. The wealthiest among us grouse about not being able to land helicopters at “our” vineyards. They are crestfallen to learn their original 20,000 square foot chateau’s are going to be needlessly scaled back.

All this desecration is taking place before a numb and distracted public. Big money drowns the popular will. Getting in the way of the juggernaut risks personal ruin.  Fish extinction events are in the history books now. Childhood cancer rates are the worst in the state and remain under study while astute players continue to spray pesticides and resist regulation. Water tables are fragile and any slowdown in pumping of groundwater is deemed unnecessary. With the valley built out what remains is now under threat.

That’s the score. This is the truth beneath the veneer. The barons of big business can’t help themselves and the ordinary citizens are so far unable to organize and stop them. The denial is soon to come to a bitter ecosystem induced end that nobody paid well enough to look the other way ever saw coming.

Skydiving without Parachutes

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Adrift in a sea of change….

About those Scenes

Many of us, not all, taste our first sip of love from our mother’s heart. Depending upon the woman and her emotional circumstances this is a first glimpse into the unconditioned embrace of being alive we’ll later seek in our grand search across the universe for connection. Seeking love is narrative, finding it is finale, writing beyond the heart struck sweet bliss is pure fantasy. Not all of us have the same capacities, some of us find little love in the world while others find too much, each comes with its own set of awkward circumstances and fates. What a character does with their heart helps us cheer them on or if they fail, the painful demise helps us feel the same human anxiety haunting us all. And we haven’t even talked about the hot sex yet!

Women of the Oak Savannahs… A Fragment

Jessica and Tyler ceased moving, stopped speaking, her cheek set on her pillow, his cheek on his, she searched one eye then his other. Tyler did the same, dialing in, finding they were on the same wavelength, the two had been a tight fit from the first. Every minute or so one or the other would take in a deeper breath and then exhale. With each tick of the clock Jessica’s confidence increased. Pulling her arm out of one sleeve and then the other, she threw Tyler’s t-shirt off the bed, feeling more sure, coming in closer, skin to skin, pregnant, filled with expectation, Jessica left no room for doubt, the time for second guessing was over.

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Looking for Love

 

 

Velocity of our Change

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Jacaranda Petals Healing the Velocity of Life

Out Loud…

Long fiction, scene by scene, attempts to decode the workings of our ever smaller world. Politics, culture and commerce bombard our nervous system from the mundane to the uninvited digitized global events we view on our media devices. Individual freedoms in this interconnected phenomenal life are proving to be illusory and failing that within just an instant forgotten then  irrelevant. The long fiction writer is scrubbing the temporal landscape, we depict neural networks, free associating matrices that flicker-light through the shadows of our daily lives. Pace of time, velocity of attention, the sense that our ability to think through the circumstances we are folded into becomes scattershot and piecemeal. Neither at the beginning or end of this technological revolution, we are lost in the chaotic Dadaist like midst of a world disrupted. Because the event horizon has accelerated the long fiction writer has to work quick to speak to the moment or have the next moment overtake what he has spent so much time preparing his readers for.

Dialogue from the new novel

“See that, try to sign me up and you end up getting picked for an inside job.”

Like Piper, Jessica filled her jeans full to temptations brim, the activist felt safe enough with Piper’s companionship, looking at Jo she said, “You’re going to be the best. The big boys are going to be pleading for mercy once they find out what kind of woman they’ve run up against.”

Tyler, Ronnie, Piper and Jessica were gangling guiltlessness, mercurial mischief makers. Jo knew among her three friends that, “none had had their chests cracked in two, hearts half eaten, left for dead on the side of the road, none had found that kind of love, not yet.”

“Come on, Dudes, lets go have a swim party…” Tyler said.

“Go on, go, all of you…” Jo could smell the hijinks. “Running around a swimming pool in my underwear with you two? That would just piss me off. Go on, get,” she clapped her hands, “you don’t need any adult supervision.”

Women of the Oak Savannahs Opener

Burned Out Four

Scene from remains of the Valley Fire, Lake County, California

September 16, 2015 Napa Valley

High aloft the aerialist gripped the climbing rope. Beyond a brownish orange sun went lost in a smoke filled sky. Helicopters, Super-Huey’s thump-thump-thumped eastward to the front. In the tumult of the still out of control wildfire the aerialist startled the audience with a swift descent back to the ground. The rhinestone bejeweled woman slipped one foot then the other into her glittering silver clogs. Each knee-high-stride was accent, twirling her palms face up, she tickled the ovation with her fingertips. The incessant droning of the Grumman Air-tankers crisscrossing the sky mixed with the audience’s anxious murmurs. Within the respite of the struggle to survive a showgirl’s smile simmered across her lips. The heavy oppression of the air reeking of acrid smoke pressed a sorrowful reality down upon the fairground. Jo assumed a dancer’s first position, her concentration slipping away, mind wandering, locking eyes with the motorcycle racer for one part of one instant, then in the next breath the performing artist vanished out of the light away into the night.

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Long fiction takes like what seems forever. I plotted for much of a year and began composing my fourth novel on November 1, 2015. You are looking at 171 of 72,000 words. My editor and I are nearing the end of our fixing the manuscript. Fatigue sets in during the late editing process. I have been back to the first paragraph on many days all along the last seventeen months. The opener has been through hundreds if not thousands of rewrites. We’ll see if it stands up and carries the day, the previous version measuring 123 words.  I had sought to keep the paragraph compact, but the shorter opener lacked the visceral imagery to do with the fire.  I like this version. If you wonder whether you have what it takes to write long fiction you might ask whether you have the constancy required to read, reread and revise your prose until they are all arranged to the best that you can stand to do.

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Passion Play

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Tailgate Party for One in the Middle of Nowhere

You got to have passion man. You have to feel it down to the bone. Nothing gets done up in the head.

The near-enemy of passion is greed. “I don’t want a seat at the table, I want the table.” I am quoting a banker hankering to deregulate the banks AGAIN. Misguided passion but at least he has a sense of entitlement.

Stripping tens of millions of citizens to access to health insurance turned out to be just too damn hardhearted even for a group of politicians with blood pressure problems. It turns out that after seven years of bellyaching they were really only kidding.

I stayed at the Mayflower Hotel in DC a few years back. FDR penned his inaugural speech from a room on the floor I stayed on. Well, turns out in April of 2016 that Paul Manafort as soon as he became Trump’s campaign manager dumped the National Press Club for the Mayflower Hotel. There he arranged for meetings with peeps that could promise Trump everlasting royalties on oil. If elected all Trump had to do was lift sanctions and like that the spigot is turned on.

I don’t know what news you are reading? My feed is decidedly spicier than I could ever have hoped for. The way I see it the entire passion thing is going a bit off the rails. Moneygrubbing has a short lifespan.

Hot out of your mind for the love of your life is the kind of sustaining lunacy that can curve the arc of history. Invent a battery, put up a solar panel, buy a wind machine, love your children, kiss your wife, and walk your dog like you really mean it. That dog knows. You can’t fool your dog. Fetch is your litmus test. Want to play? Show me what you got.

 

Grappling with the Tease

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Where Words Live

We are editing Women of the Oak Savannahs. I’ll miss the syntactical twists that must be removed, the favorite phrase that has to go. You come up with a fascinating vein, you milk it too long, you cut the clever idea back until from the twenty sentences you started with you are down to one and the thing means nothing and the whole matter is dropped. That can take most of a day.

The paradox of being a good writer means you are a rule breaker. You  know what you want to say then find doing so within the rules of grammar is a confinement resembling an unhappy marriage. You want to go have an affair with words you should not be sleeping with.  Writers are riven with weakness but will the stubborn and suspect remain faithful to their craft.

There are moments of inspiration followed by hours of grappling hand to hand, rock to rock, word to word. I have been wordsmithing a snappy teaser to my latest novel. I’ll leave it here and be finished with you.

Hundreds of thousands of trees are felled by Napa Valley’s wine barons in collusion with campaign contribution compromised politicians.  The bitter defeat of the still powerless majority proves to be the crack in the wall of ever dwindling support for an industry that has finally gone too far.

 

 

 

How’s That Change Thing Working Now?

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SMOKING HOT BLAME YOU CAN BELIEVE IN

Signed up for the National Park Service going rogue Facebook page this morning. I owe much of my souls most healed aspects to the unfettered, unfiltered quiet time the parks have gifted to my life.

To imagine what we need to do is liquidate these national treasures is to fail to take up our responsibility to leave future generations a glimpse of the paradise we are all born into.

It seems bizarre to me to stand up and shout out in anger that we are going to sell these assets off, exploit their natural resources and squander these last untrammeled parts of our nation.

I can tell you without looking at specific polls that nobody wants the parks sold off, defunded or opened up to mining and logging. There is no majority advocating to take healthcare away from citizens. There is no clamoring among the restless masses for corporate tax cuts. We don’t want to start a war with China. We want social security and Medicare to be there for all Americans. Vast swaths of the population want the EPA to keep our water pure and air clean. There is nowhere in this country citizens urging Congress to repeal Dodd-Frank.

But,  if you vote for people and ignore what they say, what they stand for? Because you don’t believe they would ever do what they say they are going to do? That’s just off the rails. We’re in the midst of a climate crisis. We have work to do. Instead a feeble, disorganized, incompetent group of mostly Caucasian’s with money, have gone to Washington to discover they haven’t a clue how to run anything as complex and as vital as the government of the United States of America. They are in total chaos. Spare our National Parks the trouble.