Do Not Enter

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Blueberries on my mind

My lifestyle caught up with my hairstyle. Black Monday’s deep dive has nothing on my temporal skyline. While I haven’t physically resorted to the comb-over there is a forensic team searching the empty corridors of my courage for suspicious activity.

My bandwagon finally collided with my chow-wagon. With my hair going full on canary in the coal mine and my fondness for renewables being what they are I thought I’d head on down to the corner plasma testing center for further guidance.

That of course led me to the door I didn’t want to walk through. The door you don’t want to walk through is the same door, located in the same place like right in front of your freakin’ face, carried with you the entirety of your life on earth. It may be locked, unrecognized, invisible, squeaky-hinged, or have a sign posted warning you to Do Not Enter. Trust me eventually you’re going to have to open the door.

I found an exercise bike waiting. Long walks were there. Extra time on the cushion meditating was there. There were old pictures of how I used to look hanging on the walls. New dietary guidelines. Admonishments especially slanted to the mind altering penchants and predilections of a certain person whose door this is. The self destruct Google Maps app especially designed to not know the directions to every single saloon within drinking distance was there. There was an enhanced Vegan Diet from Carnivorous Hell, smoothies made by retired showgirls, and a fine Pop-up Wheat Grass Beverage Cart all arranged to catch what’s left of my eyes.

Having spent two months on the other side I can tell you for a fact that Sinatra was absolutely spot on when he said.  “I feel sorry for people that don’t drink, because when they wake up in the morning, that is the best they are going to feel all day-” And that’s true, besides who wants to call the greatest dead saloon singer of all time a liar?  No, I’m here to figure out how to put some numbers up on the big board that won’t frighten a cardiologist or get my life insurance canceled. I’m living proof that at some point no matter how you cut the deck or keep a lock on that door eventually you’ll find out that what life is really all about is located somewhere between having less hair and eating more leafy greens.

There are no secrets to life just unopened doors.

 

 

 

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The Longest Running Show on Earth

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Late Summer Telegraph Hill, San Francisco

 

The severity of the climate change induced wildfires in the winegrowing region of Northern California comes as no surprise. Lake County’s record breaking Valley Fire of 2015 remains an all too fresh memory. The unholy alliance between real estate developers and the bipartisan business friendly politicians have been paid to ignore the calls for a more sustainable growth model. The only obstacle they have had to overcome on their way to this day were environmental organizations and voters who have been urgently sounding the alarm on unchecked sprawl, traffic choked highways and a perilous all too visible decline in the quality of life.

With the end of American frontier an all but ‘un fait accompli,’ the rush to plant more wine in the teeth of the just broken five year drought could not have been a more ill-considered act. The much put upon planning commissioners, supervisors, and regional water regulators have been incapable of staring down the powerful agriculture lobby while they have been pressing their thumb on the scale for more vineyards, more wineries and more development.

All the money in the world can’t put down the danger to the drought damaged region when the inevitable hazardous autumn red flag warnings arise. Puerto Rico having taken a direct hit from Hurricane Maria remains in shambles three weeks after without any of our authorities having taken a moment to wonder if under the influence of climate-change the region is not anything other than another target on a map for a future super hurricane to come clobber yet again and again. We can’t think that far ahead because we have defunded and discredited the very scientists and engineers we are going to need to rely upon to devise a way out of this collision course we are on with Mother Nature.

Whether you believe in climate change or not is very much beside the point. There are super sized forces in the tangible Universe being unleashed and roaring down upon us. After the fact our rescue and rebuilding efforts may be welcomed but these costly interventions are being made all the more necessary as we put off our collective humanity making a globally coordinated effort and respond to the carbon addicted behaviors that are much the cause for the calamitous events the people the world over now face.

I live here in California. I admire much of what this state has done, but I am not in total awe. Like any other region or kingdom money rules the day rather than the interests of concerned citizens looking at the problems. Without favor or financial interest ordinary citizens can see through the smog shrouded windshield of their lives and that a more sustainable path needs to be reconciled with democracy and capitalism. A key part of what more needs to be done is to leave what has not yet been spoiled alone. Leave water in the ground and our trees standing on the mountains. When a regions carrying capacity hits full we need  our leaders to put a halt to further growth until we have a workable plan. We’ll need to employ conservation techniques, more vertical housing, deploy new and cleaner methods of mass transportation. We are all going have to surrender to the common good and give something back to the place we call home.

Money as they say is “speech.”. But money is a fallible one-dimensional speech that influences civilization at its extinction inducing peril. Clear as a bell and cold as a winter day the affairs of our world have reached the point where the best path forward be plotted and planned by a more carefully considered forum of enlightened interests. Money as a one trick pony is going the way of the Ringling Brothers beloved famous elephants. And as well all know the longest running show on earth is over…

He is our Shame, Our Agony

 

To the Barricades

Pulling out of the Paris Agreement pisses me off. I’m furious with the titans of industry extorting our representatives into taking this outrageous action. We are the rogue nation with a blighted unhealable soul. Any semblance of our being that shining beacon on a hill just got tossed into the dustbin of history. A seventy year old manic-twitter-addicted Trump just picked a fight he’s going to lose. No matter how this decision turns out he’s going to lose. Most of the oil business is located in the South. Once before in our history we were forced to confront a region of our country intent upon profiting by means of a capitalism based upon the profits earned by use of slaves. All these many decades later we are again confronted by a belligerent malignant form of capitalism that this time insists must be allowed to profit from the oil they want to bring to market and sell. Like the slaves of past the oil they want to profit from is poisoning the only planet we have. It is against this insult to reason and without regard to capacity of our world to tolerate our carbon waste we will lash out and strike back. The fossil fuel industry is in decline. It is the past not the future. Our cause is right and what I stand up for is the future generations yet to come here. We must find the means to resist those pieces of our humanity that remain broken and beyond our ability to bring under control. Trump is a failure of our electoral system. He is a venial man of inconsequential imagination and intellect. He is our shame, brought our democracy to agony, his and those like him and all their venom need to be bound and sent packing into the history books of failed Presidency’s.

 

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.

 

Into the Wilderness

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BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

Our negotiators didn’t put their thumb down on the scale of who would benefit most from trade agreements they pressed their middle finger down. The damage has exasperated citizens  while further enriching the very wealthiest among us. Nice work if you can get it, and party hardy until the social upheaval hits the ceiling fan installed somewhere over Kansas.

If we had set policy so that our workers, our moderate income earners, our middle class benefited most… more than Wall Street, more than the Big Banks, more than the transnational corporations, we would not be in the fix we are in.

Two specific broken policies. Our negotiators broke their promise to invest in worker retraining programs. Higher education instead of going down in cost went up. Instead of scholarships and grants for displaced workers those funds were cut from the Federal budgets.

The second broken promise? Workers and communities harmed by new trade agreements were promised funding to help rebuild the impacted communities and to assist workers who needed relocate to new communities where new jobs were being created.

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Not a day goes by… Not a single day…

The heavyweight big money boys continue to pulverize to smithereens all the lightweight small change best idea girlie girls. Instead of setting enlightened policy for the workers we have installed a vulgar liar that results in evermore chaos, solving nothing, while looting, pillaging and profiting from the spoils of their partisan victory.

Practical solutions are not fueled by this much anger. They just aren’t. We have turned over the keys to the car to a vast trove of men temperamentally unfit for high office. Our problems are only going to become the best problems we have ever had. They’re going to be huge problems, the best, biggest, hugest problems many of us have ever seen. And they’re going to make us pay for their problems. Not Mexico, not some global elite. We are going to pay.

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“Why not be the best version of our self right now, starting today? I see you. I see the best version of you, something better keeps reaching out, something inside you keeps trying to touch something inside of me. That’s what I want. I want what we have.”

Women of the Oak Savannah’s 

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.

 

 

 

Bachelorhood as Infrastructure

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To Have Anything You Must Give Her Everything

     “You peeling down into your French lingerie and your slick high-heeled cowgirl boots, I swear on a stack of Gideon’s, you don’t want a fair fight… Trying to ensnare me in my own weaknesses…. I know your kind; you’ll have nothing and nobody to blame but all those temptations you’re trying to weaken my will with.”

Fletcher McCrea from Hot Spring Honeymoon

 

The majesty of a seduction is something special. At the scale of infrastructure it isn’t just special it is monumental.

A good piece of public policy that works toward the common good of the entire society seems to have become illusive. It is as if the transmission mechanisms for making good choices have been clogged.

It isn’t too hard to understand. We weaken the will of an otherwise sensible person by buttering them up with legalized bribery. This is known as a campaign contribution.

This will work until it doesn’t and right now failure is looking truly global, as in global climate change.

This human foible, this human sickness of being incapable of preventing our politics and economics from destroying mother earth is in full view for all to see. It isn’t a secret. It is tragedy and like any audience we know what is going to happen and yet we are unable to stop it.

Well, one way or another it will end. Like a good love affair sometimes you have to give one thing up to get the pleasure of another.

“If I was you, Fletcher McCrea, I’d start washing my hands and combing my hair. End of your bachelorhood’s not even fifty yards away.”

Glenna Goddard reply… from Hot Spring Honeymoon