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.

 

Billionaires Know Everything

our-peeps

Our Common Humanity Rising Up Against Power

Science historian Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University speaking at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco on January 6, 2017 when asked what can we do about climate change said this. “Don’t build any more pipelines, keep the oil and coal in the ground, and end Federal tax subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.”

We know that solar is the cheapest way to make a watt of electricity now. We know that the electrification of our transportation system is irreversible. We know that regenerative farming techniques can capture more carbon and rebuild depleted soils. We know that agriculture hasn’t even started to deploy laser leveling of fields and drip water irrigation systems on a large scale.

The problems mankind faces is that we can’t quite organize ourselves in a market based system that rewards the producers and consumers to choose the best long term technologies, to earn less now but to save our one earth so that future generations may have a healthy and sustainable planet to further humanities quest to thrive over the coming  millions of millennia.

light-fixture

Los Angeles Public Library  Light Fixture

Big time is about thinking in terms beyond our current generations lifespans. In eighty plus years we can only begin to imagine what a thousand years from now might mean. But, that is our task. We owe our brothers and sisters of the future a chance at coming here and advancing our experiment with intelligent life.

I am not unique. To express ourselves to the challenge we need to advance those technologies that give our future a chance. This isn’t difficult. We all know what to do. Our current social, economic, and political system is out of date. The formula that got us here isn’t the set of ideas and systems that is going to get us to the future.

I’ll close with a bit from my latest novel, Women of the Oak Savannahs

“You want your country to be like you, you want us all to be losers… fat, short, educated, liberal losers. I’ll never be a loser. Never! I don’t know how to lose. Put that on your front page. Make that your headline. Tell them the goddamn truth for once. Spare your readers stories of my prowess in bed, why bore your readers by stating the obvious. How it is that a young, beautiful South American woman who asked to spend time with me, to dine, to dance and drink the finest wines with me, took me into her heart, fell in love, and surrendered her life to me. Tell your readers the truth, and the truth is, you know nothing about life, and a billionaire knows everything.”

Grayson Gale, Gale Vineyards

Napa Valley

 

 

 

Precious Versions of Personal Hell’s

Grapes

Lifeblood of Poetry and Passion

Good morning from San Diego. Will report there is some fog out my eighth floor window at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. The heatwave seems to be over. National Weather Service is expecting another record setting week ahead. Welcome to life between the heatwaves. My barber on Melrose in Hollywood expects the warm weather to last until November. Don’t trust him with a straight razor.

It feels to me that there is just a bit too much ramming speeding colliding with jamming tactics going on. All this ramming and jamming creates blowback. What I mean is that we’ll rot in traffic for so long and then the lid on top our head blows… its our eighth chakras urging us to abandon our fear of change.

This past week I’ve had to stick my head way up into what the Napa County Planning Commission’s business. It ain’t pretty peeps. They’re grinding through the process of approving, of allowing, of altering, scaling back, of listening sincerely, then doing what they were going to do in the first place. Theirs is more of a jam it up, then ram it through game than the other way around.

Dispensation of the last permissions to the last parcels as the wine country approaches full capacity is to witness the malpractice of democracy blended with a mendacious capitalism in a temporal demolition derby where the competitors all end up in their precious versions of their own personal hells.

That’s how we roll this fine weekend. We are barreling toward a showdown. Will they call for a moratorium? Will the developers mount a recall campaign? Will traffic grow so congested as to cork access to the jewel of the New World oneological promised land? It’s the hell bent big boys striking back against the perverted preservationists.

At the mouth of the Napa River is Mare Island in Vallejo. There is the perfect place. Vallejo could use the business and the Napa Valley can live without it. We build hotels on Mare Island. Build as many as the island can hold. We ferry visitors upriver to downtown Napa. From there they put the guzzling hordes onto the wine train, and from there they go north and then they are  uncorked upon a pristine winegrowers paradise. There they find that there is little to no traffic, there are fuel cell powered electric shuttles that take guests from tasting room to tasting room. At the end of the day visitors enjoy a return voyage back to Mare Island where they drink more wine, take more aspirin, and make more love after drinking a bottle of wine they can’t possibly afford. Perfection….

Ignacio's Home

Ignacio Sandras’s Place in the Napa Valley

Slimeballing, Suckerpunching Misdirection Games

Plutocrat Car

The Butt of a Bad Joke

Jack Welsh coined the phrase  “shareholder value.” Two pieces of the puzzle tilted in capitals favor from this four decade ago event. First, was an emphasis upon the share price. The second was the compensation packages for management.

Washington was not an innocent bystander. Tax cuts, trade policy, regulation all favored capital over labor. Unions were busted. Entrepreneurs were elevated to the mythic status of being job creators.

As a result income inequality is at an all time high.

Some will argue that taxing the very wealthiest of us and spending that money on programs to assist the other 99% of the population is this thing called “income redistribution.” A vocal well paid minority is opposed to this.

We increased shareholder value, we provided good products to customers, we ran executive compensation up 400% but we didn’t compensate labor.

You slime people as anti-business? That is not true. Most of us likes to do good business. Or,you can take your profits to Washington and buy more favors, cut more deals, or elect more politicians to your cause and keep your fingers crossed and hope.

But, one way or another. You either begin disbursing more of your profits to labor voluntarily or you will be forced by pitchfork politics to surrender more of your enterprises profits in the form of taxes.

It is capitalism finding a healthy balance. Our democracy is threatened by all of this. Middle class wages decline, the middle class shrinks and pretty soon we don’t live in a country we even recognize. Doesn’t that feel like what’s been happening? Isn’t that the truth of the way things are now?

If you oppose redistribution you should have been yelling at the top of your lungs while the rest of this was going on right under your own nose. And now that the bill has come due don’t insist there can be no new taxes, don’t pretend the banks don’t need any further regulating, or that the Boards of Directors of a publicly traded entity have treated labor fairly. They had a duty to balance these varied competing forces and provide our society with a mutually profitable outcome. They failed and for not the first time in history they’ll be taxed into compliance.

Eventually the bill comes due. Welcome to life…

Mental Rattlesnakes and Ego Implants

Birdman-Movie-Poster-Michael-Keaton

 

In Birdman Michael Keaton plays a desperately successful actor riding a new play into an uncertain destiny. His fame weighs on the new show he is opening on Broadway.

Critics unimpressed with his selling out to the big time lurk in the saloons of Time Square waiting to pounce. They are ready to fell this bombastic super star for daring to descend from Hollywood back to Broadway where he has the nerve to write, direct and star in a new show. It is a desecration.

He is rotten with doubt, miserable in his quest and racked with fear and delusion. If that is not enough the whole stinking mess backstage is hysterically pathologic to the point of being so chaotic as to be hilarious.

If we could rip open the actors head without mortally wounding him then look inside we would see that thing we were worried might kill him is waiting just the other side of his skull. It is his date with immortality.

There are a constellation of other players and people in the film. They are all there in the libidinous tumult that is opening a new show.

None of that matters so much as the fact that Keaton is in a creative corner of his own making, a predicament that took a lifetime to conjure up; a pyrotechnic head trip in wide screen living color. It’s career daredevilry in Panavision.

Birdman: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is a send up to all of us who awaken to the self-inflicted fix we are caught in at this latter stage of our careers. We are suckered into taking one more foolish bite of the apple.

Now me, I am just back from being on stage six nights a week for two months. I thought I might be cracking under the pressure. I thought maybe there was something wrong, that I no longer had it. That’s what unconsciousness and questing for immortality will do.

As the lyric goes, “The road gets rougher, it’s lonelier and it’s tougher…” And then I come home to this brilliant film… Birdman!

 

“According to the package on my underwear it says that when I put on my briefs that I will be able to stride in confidence.GetTNI put two pair on now I am twice as confident.”

 

Lord of the Styles

Flatbush small

 

 

This moment’s style and fashion is so obvious. House of Cards has it, Veep deploys it, and Silicon Valley is based upon it.

Lenny Bruce skewered the sacred by roasting it atop the fires of the profane hypocrisy’s he alone seemed capable of speaking about.

And for each act taking one tack there is another cohort heading off in another. Nancy Meyers comes to mind, Seinfeld seems to wield this same aim, Nora Ephron… Then, there is the illustrative past including the direction of Frank Capra, George Cukor, and Howard Hawks.

Mel Brooks seemed to relish the hijinks of the soul of the Marx Brothers. Where Lenny Bruce failed at late night television an equally prolific and volatile Richard Pryor found the means of performing in this setting.

An adorable Eddie Izzard seems almost tame. Hedwig and the Angry Inch feature’s a transgender East German singer. The Book of Mormon if you search online will produce a vast stream of essays on the where to draw the line on what is too vulgar or obscene, and what we ought to do when sitting in a theater and what we are watching outrages us.

It is one thing to be the audience and another to be the creator. What seems clear is that once a project is conceived the skill is in working all the way to the edge of the style that the creator has invented. You do shock jock radio? You work to that edge. You do breezy afternoon commuter type banal styled talk radio you work to that side of the dial.

It comes as no surprise that given the crass bombast passing for political discourse that the cultural artistic entertainment community finds itself pulled in the same direction. Better the bomb throwing pugilistic types take their seat at the head of class. Oprah was a one of a kind and she’s off air and done.

Each of us that work’s in the narrative arts allows for some choice to approach. Any can work. We bow to the masters of one kind admiring their skills and talent while we remain on our own path.

The finger to the wind approach vexes integrity. Mel Brooks has to be Mel Brooks, and thank the gods for that. For the moment, at least this point in time, House of Cards, Veep and Silicon Valley are banking on finding their audience share by leaning hard upon one particular edge in a world that is in fact far more diverse than they can afford to allow for. In short there is a limit, every style can only take you so far, and from there you are on your own.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow…

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You say you want a revolution

The long term fallout to the disaster known as the global financial crisis is playing out on the right sided spectrum of the political scene. Economic anxiety translates into a turbulent, unpredictable, heated voiced, violence prone mob rule. Let’s go first to a little nugget from Andrew Sullivan. (for those not in the know, he is a gay conservative, if that is even possible.)

“In other words, this is not just a cold civil war. It is also a religious war – between fundamentalism and faith, between totalism and tradition, between certainty and reasoned doubt. It may need to burn itself out – with all the social and economic and human damage that entails. Or it can be defeated, as Lincoln reluctantly did to his fanatical enemies, or absorbed and coopted, as Elizabeth I did hers over decades. But it will take time. The question is what will be left of America once it subsides, and how great a cost it will have imposed.”

In other words not only do we have to worry about our ice caps melting and climate change sparking an extinction event, but wait for it, now we get to worry about the primitives and tribalists who are so sure that they don’t like what they see that they are willing to do whatever is necessary to insure that nobody likes what they see.

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Where to get your food while the tribes quarrel

But, all is not lost. Politics is one thing, but a skilled economist is another, and for this we turn to John McCain’s economic advisor during his run against Obama, punching way above his actual weight, let’s listen now to Mark Zandi, a man working for Moody Economics

The stalemate in Washington also may have long-term economic consequences for the U.S. as international investors grow wary of investing there, Mr. Zandi said.

“You will hear increasing calls and actual efforts to diversify away from the U.S.,” he predicted. “It could in fact impair this very strong economy that we have.”

The solution? Washington should “do nothing. Literally nothing,” Mr. Zandi said. “No change at all for the next three-four years. Let the private economy do its thing.”

Once the economy starts growing at a faster cliff, policymakers should consider making changes to rein in government spending and cut the U.S. debt, he said.

Nothing trumps something when if you try to do something what crawls out of its hole looks like Sarah Palin, spits nonsense like Grover Norquist, and has the face of Joe McCarthy (hi Teddy Cruz). The vast sea of ordinary citizens trying to enjoy the ride of one lifespan here on earth have literally been drawn into a grand coitus interuptus.

I can explain in shorthand what needs to happen, anybody can. Raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy, get control of health care spending, and do something about climate change.

There, see, it isn’t that difficult now is it?

But, as it sits at this moment the mob would become so flipped out by anything other than getting their way or the highway that we can go back to Zandi’s prescriptive and of course even that milk toast proposal, the do nothing proposal will not be easily sustainable against the right wing heavyweight championship of the post-confederate-cause that will be playing out across the country.

Nothing really here that a few decades on holiday in Costa Rica might not cure…

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/10/16/corrosive-political-conflict-is-holding-back-u-s-growth/ http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/10/16/the-tea-party-as-a-religion/