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.

 

The Lunch Bucket Card Carrying Men in My Family

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Card Carrying Sandal Wearing Lunch Bucket Raised Man-Boy

I grew up in a lunch bucket household. The men I knew carried union cards. They drank beer, smoked cigarettes and loved Kenny Stablers stylish Oakland Raider leadership. They voted straight D ticket right on down the line.

Oakland wasn’t much of a port unless you call the Army Depot a port, but that was for the boys in Viet Nam. The Warehousemen, Longshoremen, Teamsters, Stevedores… they were on the Embarcadero in the City moving cargo in and out of town by truck, train and ship.

Then, the world changed. We got lots of stuff. Boy did we get stuff. We also got NAFTA, we got China into the WTO, we got stuff happening around the world while we hollowed out the working stiffs world here.

Arugula eating Whole Foods shopping people working at the highest high tech companies within the confines of some of the sweetest zip codes in North America were thought the wave of the future, not just the future they were the ever present stakeholders in our go-go everybody’s an investor economy.

Then, the thud and dud of the financial sector, the end of retiring on selling houses to each other, and the reality that those lunch bucket friends of ours are pissed off. I thought it spot on that R’s discussing cuts to capital gains taxes and inheritance taxes had to be blowing it out of their …. Lunch bucket workers want jobs, wages, benefits, and paid vacation. Few if any of us need capital gains tax relief.

So, here is my bottom line. Fair trade right? Not free trade. We need to set policy so that the lunch bucket types get a living wage, some medical, dental, and a school that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg and their first born donated to the bank they got their student loans from.

Not so difficult to grip hold of is it? Clean streets, decent infrastructure, good schools, get on with the renewable energy revolution, stay the hell out of foreign wars, and could we cut the crap out of beating up on women? Right? Simple enough…

Those of us with the lunch bucket history? We drink less whiskey than our ancestors and we don’t smoke anymore. We drink wine. We watch our cholesterol. We like football but are worried about the concussion thing. And if the people in Washington don’t snap out of it and start doing the lunch bucket crowds business we’ll go there and bang a few heads together until they remember who we truly are.

 

 

 

Strumming the Heartstrings

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           Here is Where the Tractors are Fixed at Schnepf Farm

I have been coming out to Schnepf Farm’s Pumpkin and Chili Party since 2000. It is located in the town of Queen Creek, Arizona. You are on the southeastern edge of the Valley of the Sun by the time you arrive here.

The Valley of the Sun (Valley of the Well Done…) spans 70 miles east to west. This is a big expanse. Much of it is now been consumed by the sprawl of suburb. There are pieces of it that are extra dense and urban. One sure thing is that there is a jumbo sized scale to this place.

I’ve done about 800 shows more or less here at the farm. I gained the trust of Mark and Carrie and with some patience adapted my street style juggling act to this audience. I’ve likely a debt of gratitude to extend to the nearby Arizona Renaissance Festival that I’m sure helped train the audience to the game variety acts play on an audience.

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                    Beholding What is and What Once Was

It is a hot and dusty place. It takes a lot of sunscreen, bug spray and water to make it through a day. You ought to wear a hat here. I’m in the pavilion this year and hard to attract audiences out to this woebegotten corner of the farm, but I can’t complain. You see, I have shade. Shade here is like being happily married. Things just go much better with shade much like it is with a good spouse.

One month per year I have been here. After I retired Lacey and a decade long run we took a break from this gig. It has been 5 years since my last run. Notching up 11 months of my life here I’m knocking on a year’s door. That is one whole year of my life spent at Schnepf Farm in Queen Creek, Arizona.

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         The Care and Feeding of Body and Soul

One of the investments I’ve made aside from time is the care and feeding of my audiences soul. There are fancier shows here. Bigger stunt shows, frisbee dog exhibitions, pig races and even full sized bands play nearby the tables where audiences gather to eat the chili and pumpkin pie.

Grayson Schnepf is a son to Mark and Carrie. A decade back he was a 10 year old. He used to practice tricks with me. Sometimes he’d come and do a trick or two in the middle of the show. It is hard not to love a ten year old trying hard as all get out to do something for you. Grayson’s childhood remains safely stored in my heart’s favorite memories.

Then, last night gray haired elders arrived with their 17 year old granddaughter. She was first a volunteer in my show when she was 3 years old. That takes us back to 2001. They came to the farm each October to see me again. I had become something of a touchstone, a ritual. They’ve been back every year hoping against hope I’d be back for shows.

Turns out my volunteer 3 year old was stage struck by her helping me. They shared pictures of all the plays she’s been in since middle school years. Then, there were all the costumes she made. And then there was this young lady crediting my choosing her to help in my show for being the trigger that illuminated her path in life.

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                      In the Hearts of the Players

And that’s it really. That’s the simple fact of things. I don’t get up in the morning imagining that I am going to inspire someone. I don’t see people having their path in life bent by what I do. But, there it is. It has happened a few times that I know of. It isn’t so rare. Might be you changed someone.

A fair example of my show is generally a cheerful thing. I have some good lines. I do some good tricks. When it goes my way, when I can get an audience to focus, when I’m firing on all 8, when it is going as good as I can do a show it can seem to open the door to an audience’s sense of something extra special.

I am fortunate to have picked a job that can make a difference. And when I’ve opened a souls eyes to their purpose I feel I haven’t just done a good days work I feel as if I’ve done my lifes work.

Good to be back here…

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Trailhead to the Superstition Mountains

The Great Tony Benn Hits it Out of the Park

 

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Click Right Here and Enter into the Truth of the Matter

Tony Benn gives a stem winder from over on the other side of the pond. Now 83 in ten minutes time he crushes it. The British lilt in the voice and the humanity of his cause ooze from this talk.

Our work is never done. Every generation the implacable foe escapes from the cage we put them in to regroup and once more launch their attack. It arrives as fear of other, of the fraud and abuse in social welfare programs, in the accusation that there are fat, lazy bastards driving luxury automobiles, and promiscuous Trollip’s licking the ears of the underserved unemployed horndogs.

The elite send bankers to the political hearings. They bemoan regulation and thunder on in mock earnestness about how unprofitable their circumstances are. They pocket bonuses of multiple millions and gripe bitterly about a school teacher’s pension. Unions are broken and wages are suppressed. And they do this by simply making the uneducated and uninformed jealous.

Tony Benn is about the business of the common man or woman who struggles to make a decent wage and something of a happy life for their children. It is about good schools, health care, public transportation, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods and a government dedicated to protecting the rights of all its citizens.

The extreme wealth concentrated in the hands of those few hundred individuals? It turns out that they can be a hazard to democracy. Those gigantic entities and enterprises known as multinational corporations need to be leashed and the supervision and regulatory apparatus of our government ought to apply a firm jerk on their chain to bring them to heel.

As it was for generations before us it is the same now. We allowed the elite to rewrite the rules to their advantage and they have taken it. Citizens United, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, raising taxes on labor while reducing taxes on capital… all of this has been done by the well paid lobbyists and politicians. It has been nothing less than a self inflicted error.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to enjoy Tony Benn’s pointed speech. He is clear. He is honest. He stands up for all of humanity.  He is in his late years living a purposeful life. We have climate change, inequality and a worldwide family planning project to implement.

 

Workers are in sum the majority. It has come time for us to once again act like one.

 

 

 

The Empty Vessel

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Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars…

Democracy is an empty vessel. The blanks must be filled in. Want to slow or stop immigration? Do you want low taxes, less regulation and globalize manufacturing and trade? Perhaps more home schooling and charter schools and scrap universities altogether and simply ramp up vocational career schooling.

The stock markets of the world are a huge casino. Headlines are once again frightening the public. Some say buy, some say sell, others say hold. Nobody can explain exactly why the market moves one way or another. Technical analysts give their explanations, brokers offer their services and all the while the stench of something reeks. What are we doing to ourselves?

Technology has ramped up the speed of something while the details of this something it has speeded up remain beyond comprehension to all of us. You want to talk about morality? How about voting rights? Let’s debate the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Does anyone know anything about this secret trade deal that the President strenuously defends as not secret?

I don’t like my oppositional party in politics as being described as an automobile filled with clowns. I don’t like billionaires polluting the electoral process with their ill-gotten gains. But, am I right to hold this view? The Supreme Court has found my opinion to run counter to the rights enshrined in the constitution. We are not in a free for all we are in a free fall.

We have precious little time to act on matters important to every single human being on this planet. We need to get focused. We need banks to get boring. We need government to fix roads, build bridges and enable communities the means to access to clean air and water. We need capitalism to submit to surgery whereby we cut out its mindless greed and install a heart that helps manufacture a simpler more cautious use of our finite resources.

If democracy is an empty vessel, a void waiting to be filled, then capitalism if allowed to dominate it will arrange matters to its own advantage. This arranging thing that it does is not some sort of invisible hand of the marketplace. It is a heavy hand.

Our access to information has drowned the informed voter in a sea of counterfactuals that boggle the mind and shudder our spine. We’ve harvested a collective chaos of misguided gumption. We briefly get it together and send a man to the moon and now we tear ourselves apart debating whether to deploy high speed trains. Nothing is more pathetic than to watch people who have put their faith in science to include everything but vaccinations.

A majority of citizens polled want to disregard the consensus of nuclear experts who virtually unanimously agree that we ought to take the deal we just cooked up with Iran. The rest of the world agrees but we won’t. I can assure you that the vast majority of the people objecting to this deal haven’t taken the time to read it. They didn’t pick up their smartphone and call their local nuclear scientist for a discussion on the merits. Who has time for that crap? In our current democracy opinion is manufactured. Who is making this crap up because it has to stop. Our sewers are there for a reason.

So, let’s get out of this rut now. We defang Wall Street for starters. A transaction tax would be a good place to begin. Break up the big banks and make finance boring again. We go to Washington and kick the criminal racket known as the Washington lobbyists out. We get some ordinary plain normal human beings in congress to focus on climate change and fix this wretched income inequality problem.

Once we get ourselves heading in the right direction we can get together and do some good old family planning and by that I mean we need to figure out how we can live on this planet in balance and harmony within the constraints of her natural bounty.

And that my friends is how to fill this empty vessel known as democracy up with ideas worthy of our free will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Canary Starts Sizzling…

Six Boats

Setting Sail for a Better Future

Let’s head out from here where sanity prevails. First, we have a global manmade climate crisis. Got that? Let’s get our priorities right. Wake up!

Next up is worldwide population levels continuing to expand while we wreak havoc upon the support system all these new lives will need if they are to survive.

Our politics and our economics are complex. This is a two headed monstrosity. One defends the other, while the other goes about plundering the world and taking a modest sum of their profits to keep propping up their enablers.

Like an addict business just can’t help itself. The business of business turns out to be all too often quite rapacious of resources and let’s just say not particularly talented at focusing upon sustainability to say nothing of mankind’s survival.

And then there is Hillary Clinton’s campaign, a Democrat running for office and she can’t take a position on the Keystone Pipeline? That’s not going to get the job done. Does she support the Transpacific Partnership; a trade agreement that affects 40% of the world’s global trade? No, she can’t say one way or another. We are being asked to vote for a riddle inside of a mystery.

There is all of this plus we have Republican Senators plotting in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act which would result in stripping 17 million citizens of their health insurance. This isn’t humanity’s best moment.

Plus, with the world bursting at the seams with people this same grand deliberative body is rushing as fast as their fake bile can be spewed to defund an organization that tries to help all of humanity in general and women in particular to determine if and when they will have a child.

Some low life named Drudge calls the Pope the Antichrist. Some Cuban out of Florida running for higher office claims Obama is covertly funding the same terrorists that the Pentagon is trying to kill. Please…

Here is the situation. We have to deal with climate change. That means doing something about it here. We’ll need to work with every other country in the world because this isn’t just our problem it is the world’s problem too.

Next up is getting control of the world’s most voracious inhabitants… human beings. Where to start? Well, obviously we’ll need to figure out where all these people are coming from and why there are so many individuals, religions and governments blocking efforts to help humanity manage their reproductive systems. What the hell is wrong with you people?

This isn’t a mystery. If we deploy women’s health care programs across the world we will enable billions of earth’s citizens to have the chance to choose the right moment to start a family.

If you object to offering others the chance to choose how they wish to arrange their lives then you might well be confused about what the difference is between freedom and tyranny.

Finally the stupendous wealth that has accumulated in the hands of so few has in turn been used to frustrate efforts to put in place policies that will go a long way toward solving humanity’s problems. It turns out great wealth is in and of itself a great big problem.

Billionaires are not a feature of capitalism they are a flaw and to drain the swamp of excess wealth is to make our world a safer more egalitarian place where we might well survive if only we can clear our minds of the haze and get focused on the challenges we face.

Does this sound radical? Cleaning our air? To help men and women determine when to start a family? To tax our wealthiest citizens more and our poorest citizens less?

Some political party is going to have to clear their throat and speak out and then pass the necessary legislation. Trump and Sanders are merely canaries in the coal mine. They are harbingers sounding the alarm.

Our political, religious and economic systems are in desperate circumstances. They are all in need of change and yet each has exquisitely organized itself to resist change. One way or another, this is going to come to an end. I’d prefer a soft landing or if not perhaps it is time we start manufacturing helmets… and fast.

Five Boat

Let’s Set Humanity’s Course for Survival

Those Sucking Sounds

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The Puzzle Solved

I would be more comfortable with the trade negotiations now taking place if the titans of industry were bellyaching.

I don’t hear them complaining about the labor provisions.

I don’t hear them bitching about the environmental regulations they would have to obey.

I haven’t heard word one about currency manipulation.

What the hell is wrong with these miserable complainers? If they don’t like something they usually will moan and groan day and night right through the mouths of some of the best bellyaching lobbyists money can buy.

You see they’re just not miserable enough and that must mean in my book that they are skinning the cat just the way they like it while you and me are getting left with the fur and the fleas in the deal.

You see I am a free trader. I am also a fair trader. I like doing business with other countries. Trade negotiations by my reckoning are handled by the wrong people. They have by way of training focus upon particular aspects of trade. We call those focal points special interests.

Well, you see we have special interests too. I know a waitress with a cute fanny and she indeed has a whole legion of gentlemen who are especially interested in what they find so interesting about her fanny.

Believe me there are sincere trade negotiations taking place over access to her marketplace. And let’s just say I know her to be beautiful through and through and expect the final agreement to be of loving benefit to both interested parties.

That’s the miracle of a good trade deal right there. You want all interested parties to be pleased with what they get in the end.

I’m not a scholar, I read the same things you do, we all get to look at the same things, and those of us on the outside of this impending deal are being denied a good look see at the terms to this deal they’re cooking up.

If I had Wall Street bitterly complaining that labor was eating their lunch in this deal I would sit up and take notice and I’d start having some confidence that maybe, just maybe we are finally on the right path toward a fair deal.

No sir, things have the odor of a day old catfish left to rot in the sun. That’s what a no good deal can do to a nose sniffing around for sweeter terms. So come on stop pulling my leg. You trade negotiators stop pretending like this is going to be good for all of us.

It just ain’t so and if it was you’d be screaming to high heaven how the country simply cannot afford to consummate this deal.