Tyranny’s Last Round

Hidden Figures
Traitors are Everywhere

The Spaghetti Western as stories go begs for a villain. Riding into town he climbs down off his saddle, pushes his way past a freckled faced boy, wraps his grubby hands around the mother’s waist kissing her against her will. The dastardly villain’s snicker trots into a menacing chuckle unhanding his victim only after fondling her breast.

Sergio Leone’s mastery of the tormented, the overlong close-up, in tight on the actors eyes, the swelling orchestration, Ennio Morricone moody-vengeful heartstrings, misconduct has been witnessed, order now must be restored.

In a confrontation one or the other character may not care what happens to the bystanders. Self-preservation can be a weakness, protection of the innocent a distraction. Best of all is to allow for our adversary enough rope to hang himself.

We have been waiting, until now our frail billionaire, if he is even that, has by incessant lying escaped the inevitable.

Fragile, petulant, quick to be psychologically wounded, his weaknesses are there for the world to see. The gleam on his allure dulls with time. Predictably he hits back at the least insult by returning all volley with a more squalid insult than the truth he has been forced to confront.

But, the counterpunching has made his challengers only more determined. Never the quitter, fighting to the metaphorical death, our villainous adversary deep within his fragile security system of an ego can’t admit the jig is nearly up. But, it is.

I am sure the blow to come will be a beauty, a real bolt out of the blue. We may not recognize that the punch has staggered our villain or that he is on the ropes groggy now and ready to take his inevitable fall for the count.

It’s coming. The agony his election has caused bares too great a burden on our democracy. Had he the sense to have moved to the middle, to govern as promised on the stump, not betray his own not so well to do conservative voters.

Our boorish occupant of the Oval Office has an entire opposition party, a significant fraction of deputized investigators, forensic accountants and members of the free press delving into his darkest corners. The great orange one will soon be vanquished, it is obvious. He might have had a happier life, but there was this one last skirt to chase, one more sovereign private part to grab. Nobody is above the law or more equal than a mistreated-innocent-involuntarily hit-on woman. I see the end to a movie that ought never to have been made.

Tyranny’s Last Ride

human folly rides again

Vulgarians of the East

Bay Bridge

Beauty as Bridge- Beast as Brute

Back East was once sufficiently far away. Arriving on the opposite coast by cannabis infused Volkswagen bus was enough sudden enlightenment for a few spare decades prior to now. I didn’t need to arrive since I had been born here in Oakland by bright pre-enlightened East Bay Area breeding stock.

A good shingle-sided two story in the Berkeley Hills, a rough idling Peugeot that needed brakes and willowy denim clad unshaven woman that didn’t need brakes was all the fashion, the rage, we were the famous coyote she sought to know horizontally.

Fog was customary, winters more or less arrived on the clock, as did spring and the fierce belief that parking tickets would as if by magic just go away.

Michael Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop arrived and remained. Lydia Pense fronting for Cold Blood replaced our Janis jones. Weekends were spent in Mendocino. Weekdays we toiled as little as least as was possible. The sun-washed deck at Sam’s in Tiburon for lunch an ache in our voracious appetite for lazily crafted cocktails. Before good booze there was strong booze. The hangover and squandering of wages and time we deluded ourselves into believing cost us next to nothing.

There were the years we had Jerry and the years we didn’t. There was a dot-com bubble, fern bar and the arrival and departure of the Fillmore to do. We did a lot of doing. Counterintuitively we altered the course of history first with Nixon and then Reagan. William F Buckley’s ruling class was rendered monosyllabic. There was only one word left- taxes. Education and science once identified as progressive ghettos have been squeezed by conservative tourniquet.

The summers in the Loire were splendid. Returning again and again to the crumbling ruins of our streets and bridges, what passes as infrastructure, the remains of our once great nations vaunted upward trajectory now frozen in squabbles between the have’s and have mores.

This and other circumstances we are no are longer in control of- take your pick- we have so many unsolved problems to ignore.

I am imagining the wildfires while inconvenient will eventually after incinerating most of the what remains of California will go away. On the other hand our nations capital inhabited now, whether you voted for him or not, all agree I should think it unanimous, the current man about town has proven to be a particular kind of billionaire. We have elected a vulgarian. Foul-mouthed, uncouth and loutish are terms that come to mind. Over sixty-million of our citizens thought it was time for a puppet preferred by Putin to follow the black man so that instead of solving some of our more pressing problems we could ferment the mother of all constitutional catastrophe’s to be triggered by the firing of this rumpled suited honcho with the last name Mueller.

This is that famous moment when we realize that this is the long spoken of hot water and we are all that unconscious amphibian resting in this pond of our own making as the temperatures rise. I’ll break it to you gently, whisper into your ear, as gently as I can, in case you didn’t yet know, just one word… it’s time to—  jump!

knocking it out of the park

There Really is a Better Way

Taking the New Normal for a Spin

Burned Out Four

Valley Fire 2015

Lake County, California

We flew south from Seattle to Burbank arriving over the Thomas Fire where the blaze had just crossed from Ventura into Santa Barbara County. Last summer’s dry season never came to an end. Instead this fall the Southland of California was treated to twenty degree above normal temperatures, low humidity and then the voluble Santa Ana winds.

Last nights flight down the coast was crystal clear, picture perfect. While cool in Seattle less average was the clear sky. Less than common still was the monolithic singular cloudless atmosphere witnessed the entire length of the west coast. As we approached Burbank after sunset we descended over the top of Los Padres National Forest. Looking down off the starboard side of the plane we could see flames approaching Carpentaria and further north near Montecito. The fire had in just twenty-four hours consumed another one-hundred-thousand acres with the most inhabited of those yet to be consumed acres in sight. Both densely populated communities are thickly canopied and in any other moment would be regarded as blessed with a handsome landscape. Not visible were the five thousand firefighters who had cut fire breaks. Standing along the break they braced to snuff out blowing embers that might escape from the national forest and ignite a blaze within the city limits of the two communities. Thousands had been order evacuated. The Department of Homeland Security had no answer to this terror threat.

There have always been wildfires, but there had always been a time of year associated with the fires. In decades before the present California had grown to near forty million citizens. In past times the wildfires happened out there in the wildlands far from the California car crazed maddened clogging crowds. An unintentional a price had come due for our obsessive horizontal sprawling real estate development. And as we all know Mother Nature bats last in the game called life. In this instance wildfire had come to speak about the risks homeowners take when locating their domicile adjacent to a tender dry fuel loaded landscape that with one accidental spark and aided by an ill-timed windstorm can ignite an inferno of unstoppable proportions.

My much loved daughter in Seattle and her partner have put off any thought of having children. Even at just twenty-five they’ve recognized and noted that the climate has changed, they know that the world is in trouble and the trouble that most concerns them is the trouble people make for the people who take climate change as a real and present threat. Stalemates are quaint even useful on a chessboard and existentially suicidal when played on the surface of the earth.

Puerto Rico is in super hurricane ruins, barely able to function, its electrical grid destroyed. Houston pounded by rains and floods- turned into a lake and now is mecca for slightly water damaged furniture. California not to be outdone has put on a wildfire show unlike any other. How we react, what we do, the planning and precautions we might take will tell us all we need to know about how smart, how intelligent, how adaptive and resilient our species is. Stalemate and gridlock might be a useful tactic in our nations capital but it won’t work here. If ever the world needed enlightened leadership now is that moment. If you are an optimist it is never too late, for the pessimists it already is, either way Mother Nature doesn’t care. Facts speak for themselves.

great tree

Piece of Reality Prior to Wildfire

 

Notes from Near the Last Page

Story on the Front Burner

Women of the Oak Savannah’s, my fourth novel has started and ended my day for what will soon be two years. I stand on the edge of the end of my work of seventy-five thousand carefully chosen words.

Hot Spring Honeymoon, my previous novel, a sexual farce was in the wheelhouse of my native mind. This current work descends into the politics and economics of a more ruthlessly ambitious place and people. The story is set in the idyllic pastoral Golden State splendor of the much overwhelmed Napa Valley.

I had gone to Calistoga looking for a story, and as wildfire and fate struck, I found a billionaire funded world renowned globalized tourist destination being crushed to enterprise death by an influx of people coming to lay claim to a piece of this once unspoiled earth that no longer can exist under the current circumstances.

Four hours east and much like Yosemite National Park an endless stream of automobiles crawl bumper to bumper into a preciously small overcrowded valley. The once vast and open American West has been corralled and branded. There are still empty places, still small wineries just not here. Here is not small. Here is not quiet. Here is a place in flux.

Makes for one hell of a story so long as you have the stomach for oak trees being cut down, groundwater being pumped dry, every agricultural chemical known to winegrowing being sprayed from north to south, east to west over every acre of arable land.

There are just too many of us and too few acres for them. That pretty much sums the plot up. Never intended to do a full double-twisting somersaulting tower dive into the realm of the American environmental literary greats. I didn’t mean to go all freaking Thoreau on you. No matter how much I never shave my chance of looking like John Muir is slim to nil to none.

So, here I am. I imagined at the beginning perhaps a quaint quasi-romantic Nancy Meyers bit of romantic fluff emerging  from the laboratory of my writing desk. No, not this time. Here we go up against the fat-cats and bulldozers, the multinationals and the overzealous entrepreneurial pterodactyls. I have set down in long fiction form a story about a pregnant woman with her whole life in front of her fighting to save what remains of a place she has come to love.

Next time a comedy….

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.

How’s That Change Thing Working Now?

good-luck

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.

 

Into the Wilderness

jeeping

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.

rowing-machine

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.

primary-section-break-hsh

“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