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.

 

Lonely at the Top, Stupid at the Bottom

Garmin
Knowing Where You Are, Setting a New Course

The main ultimate highest priority of one of our two political parties is tax cuts. Even though if you take the time to go read the polls you will discover that a vast swath of the people of the United States are concerned with a great many other priorities.

Grover Norquist’s Club for Growth has had a hammerlock on the policy apparatus of the R’s for decades. Go read anything by Robert Reich and what you end up reading are story after story of upward distribution of income to the top. Get it? Poorer Americans are working to make wealthy Americans ever more wealthy. Nice work if you can get it.

Abortion, race, immigration, education, privatization, deregulation, contract work, financialization, oil subsidies, air pollution and on and on… they are all proxy fights held on the front pages of our news sites so that the implementation of more tax cuts and the maintenance of the existing tax cuts may continue.

This has all gone haywire this year. What is so rotten of all is that business R’s have allowed so much damage in the pursuit of this one plank.

Grover Norquist’s fetish has brought the R’s to the eve of their destruction. There is a lot to be upset about, and a terrible tearing to the social fabric of our country. We need to get off this one trick pony. Heritage Foundation, Cato, Club for Growth and all the various interlocking organizations that have been ramming the tax cut thing need to be called out for the failures they are. They are the creators of the Trumpestein mess we find ourselves in. The magnitude of the failure we are witnessing approaches epic until you listen to the petty quarreling. This is so beneath us, so small, so terribly scrawny. We can do much much better.

Finding Patagonia’s Better Nature

Patagonia 6

You Can Get Anything You Want

I arrived in Patagonia, Arizona for the very first time in 1993. The bitty place along the southern border met spring that year with a spectacular bloom. The tallest cottonwoods in North America make their home along Sonoita Creek. That they are that much larger, in a town that is just that much smaller, exaggerates the terms of being smitten with this treasured place.

By all accounts what work a hearty new arrival might find Patagonia is less than none. Santa Cruz County has been drying up for decades. Patagonia for all its rural majesty requires that you come prepared to bet on yourself. I’d met a biologist that had wagered his life. He was sent by the Smithsonian to study the rarest and tiniest of birds… the elf owl. He had found a grand total 37 individuals scattered over thousands of square miles both near and far along the southern Sonoran Desert. Elf owl hunting is convenient to nothing. It came up in our whittled  conversation that once his research was completed he’d likely remain here instead of moving on. That’s how the town grows.

Patagonia 4

Former Residents Doing Eternity

No two people are alike. Patagonia tends to attract the oddest lot. The binding that glues souls together here is quirkiness. One thing everyone should understand is that big bugs become a part of your daily awareness. Then there are the venomous creatures you’ll share Patagonia with. Then, there are the many different types of hummingbirds that make their home here. You’ve got drug smugglers and Border Patrol Agents playing cat and mouse. All this in a town you can walk end to end in less than ten minutes if it’s not too hot and your not too addled by drink.

There is nothing really you can do in Patagonia. Not on your own. If you stick it out your life fills up with time spent sharing mutual circumstances with neighbors. You’ll borrow sugar, have a cup of coffee, barbecue steak on mesquite wood and knock tequila down then chase it with as ordinary a can of beer as the least amount of money will buy.

Patagonia 2

Last Century Fixer-Upper Just Came on the Market

Weather is a good topic to talk to death. Maybe a friend has four wheeled off the mountain, where they homestead, to come argue at the Wagon Wheel over the political Armageddon the legislature is the fault of in Phoenix. The dang urban refugees that have made home here have brought their permissive and decidedly progressive ideas with them. Patagonia’s problems do not require ideology. You can toss that there narrow mindedness into the septic tank.

A random cross section of humanity has been littered throughout the town. The spiritually awakened are cheek to jowl with the atheists. What remains of the ranchers holding on here bellies right up with the radical environmental activists. Everyone aims to improve Patagonia so long as it does not involve pavement. There is little use for improvement. Dirt and dust are preferred. If that seems a bit contrary that’s the whole point of the thing. You will find that a dirt road self selects a new arrival. If they can see the beauty in dirt that is a sure sign that they will be best suited to fitting in here.

Patagonia 5

Four wheel driving nowhere to spend time doing nothing

 About now, in spring, is glory in Patagonia, Arizona. It’s the time to come. As soon as you are ready. Many of the migratory birds are moving through. The mesquite is blooming and Sonoita Creek is running. Get off the pavement, park that rig, take a hike. Think about things. Be available for nothing. If you are lucky enough you might just find the biggest prize of all, the chance to be in intimate rural contact with yourself.

Patagonia 1

San Rafael Valley Southeast of Patagonia with the Huachuca’s Yonder…

Long Hops and Short Stops

Eating it Up
Eating it Up

“My flight down to Cancun was a little bumpy, but the water landing was very smooth. By the time I swam to shore and got out of my wet clothes and hat a shot of tequila it was like wow… here I am.”

The shift is on. I return to San Francisco tomorrow. I have been in Playa del Carmen, Mexico since late September. After fourteen weeks of work the show is changed and so am I.

If you spend enough time somewhere your perception shifts. You see a place for what it is. I am comfortable here now. I can do the work. Of course I am a foreigner and here I am guest. I get that. That’s good.

Tomorrow I fly. The next weeks ahead I will memorize. I will perform at a few events around Arizona. I’ll write more jokes. I’ve got props to build. I’ll advance all of that in the weeks ahead. I ought to have the memorizing, script development and rehearsals completed by the end of January.

More ongoing process is ahead. I’ll be disconnected from the day to day contact with audiences for the time being. That’s good. It is time to go back to the laboratory and concoct the elixir of new show.

We’ll be aboard our sailboat in Emeryville for a few weeks. Getting out on the water seeing friends and settling back into the day to day sounds perfect.

“She’s perfect, and you’re perfect, the whole thing is perfect even though you know there is no such thing as perfect and that’s perfect… It’s Fukushima with a happy ending.”

SketchGuru_20141124131411
La Buena Vida, Akumal Cerveza and Snorkeling

 

Saving Up Solstice for Aches and Pains

Great Basin small pic

You Just Can’t Make A Place Like This Up…

Today is the summer solstice. On Wednesday we depart northbound. Our track will be to Lakeview, Oregon. From this frontier on the California border we will continue into vast Great Basin regions of Eastern Oregon.

Our ultimate destination is the 30th Edition of The Edmonton International Street Performers Festival. But, we have roads to travel and friends to see before we arrive. And then there’s the hot springs we’ll sample along the trail too. And then there is the matter of the world between Emeryville and Edmonton. There a place’s we’ll want to pull over and get out from behind the wheel and sit and let what we find there soak into our bones.

I’ll try and be faithful to my discipline. I’ll juggle each day some. I’ll write as much as I can.

“He gazed off into the distances and saw the grand scale of places seldom touched by travelers. His problems diminished in this frame, as measured by geologic time. He paused to consider that ancient oceans had once drowned out most of what he was in. When measured by that, his broken heart seemed insignificant and lost love infinitesimal. The world was a bigger mystery. Chance weaves through fate and things unfold in surprise, beyond what can be imagined.”

Those lines come by way of my first novel Highway Home.

“He pushed off from Burns and headed out toward the frontier, with Idaho in the vast, wild, open spaces beyond. Here swept out before Noel the boundless Great Basin Desert of the American West. Sagebrush saturated the land. Horizons stretched wide, and the contours of ridges, rims, and hills squatted low, shaved by ice, wind, and time. Here, east of Burns, at first appeared wasteland and despair. It reminded Noel of how he felt within his heart. At the same time there was a solitude to this place of a kind that was rare. Beyond this last gasp of farms the road began weaving through boulders and ridges and ran higher up off the immense and flat bottomlands. Noel took a dirt track off the highway and rolled amidst the boulders and red rocks into a small pull out where he’d camp for the night.”

My heartbroken hero searching to put the demons to rest for the night, there is an articulate kind of geological speech in the emptiness of this desert. There is a desolate beauty that can fortify a soul while stoking the torment and past sorrows. It is in this way a place that you can come to face the hard parts of inside yourself you don’t much care to think through. Still it is a melancholy that with time heals up the pain and hurt. You come here and you stop running from yourself. What gives way is the majesty of inner peace. The gloom gives way to the grandeur, one night you are nothing but misery and wake up the next and there’s nothing but wonder.

Solstice can be a place to begin and while Canada is where I aim to drive I’ll be pausing to bucket out the pond of things I’ve been throwing into the deep the last months. I suppose the thing is these are the big things that can give us perspective and put our own concerns in the right order.

 

 

 

 

In the Love shack

loveshack two small

 

Where Lover’s Go…

Everybody has had their eyes wide open. I knew since I was drifting the high plains town to town that we were a country in flux. That was in the ‘70’s when drifting from show to show was what a young up and coming juggling act did. I’ve seen the belly of this beast for forty years. We’ve been sold a bill of goods peeps. The very serious people in charge have backed the armored truck up to the vault and they’re getting ready to pull away with what is left. It isn’t even remotely plausible to suggest that inequality is simply happening by some kind of accident. Inequality is policy. Cut the taxes, offshore the jobs, cut support for education, wipe the unions out… I don’t think I need to go on. We are losing the fight to preserve our democracy and who knew we were going to have to fight bankers and oilmen and their astro-turfed pseudo grassroots think tanked con-artists. But, here we are and you know what they say about what you should do when you find yourself digging a hole? Let me end todays thought with this idea. The tragedy is realizing that this happening and doing nothing, the comedy is chopping the greedy muck-a-mucks back down to size. Serious business is always at the root of comedy.

Trouble in Nevada

Fletch's cabin small

Hot Spring Honeymoon

Just Enough Trouble to Call it Fun

Life imitates art. The recent standoff between the Bureau of Land Management and Clive Bundy is a more radicalized version of the politics I hinted at in Hot Spring Honeymoon. The free grazer movement depends upon more magical thinking than my character Garrett Harwood. My character is more or less disposed to free trade, less regulation and lower taxes. He’s a privatizer type and wants everything left to the private sector. He’s plenty angry but he influences things by means other than at the end of the barrel of a gun. I’m heartened by what I’ve heard on talk radio shows. Most folk as I’d anticipated prefer to see their community remain whole and healthy. People want their freedom but they’d prefer working from within the law. Garrett Harwood is a businessman and his temper while hot runs more or less to the civilized side of the road. He is not a secessionist and not a member of a militia. We do have a bulldozer in the book. There is also talk of “second amendment remedies,” but for reasons of comedy my villain only needed to quarrel and fistfight. I wanted a more nuanced conflict than this latest headline would allow. I prefer a man that still believes in democracy and capitalism. Once you draw down to the level of wanting everything your way and not any other way you have left the room of reason and are floating around a few French fries short of a happy meal…