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….

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Passion Play

Feb08 021aaa

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.

 

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.

 

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…

The Mystics Guide to Pointlessness

Light Show in Atlanta
Blinded by the light…

“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.”

I use the Eastern psychological model when planning a novel. It is simple. Characters can be described as acting in a wholesome and skillful way, or they can act in unwholesome and unskillful ways. Fortunately for the sake of drama most of us make the simple mistakes that make for such enjoyable reading.

The Eastern model of mind allows me to scrub the psychological field of play of all sorts of useless and misleading terms that seem to come overloaded with baggage I don’t need my characters forced into carrying.

My characters inhabit a world of virtue and vice. They lapse into this or rise up to that. We don’t need to have this mysterious world of the unconscious mind of a person accounted for. Those dim corners seldom carry the narrative to much besides confusion.

Most severe wounds leave unspeakable chaos in their wake and untangling it is flirting with pointlessness.

In the world that I live in people succeed and fail all day long in quite ordinary ways. They run red lights. They might lust for someone. Perhaps they don’t offer compassion where they see suffering. We each have some degree of capacity to help or not to help.

A good person isn’t a perfect person. They may well be an awful person who happened into their better nature for a moment in time. We live across a continuum of skillful and wholesome means. There are no endings. There is really more of this incessant doing that keeps happening. The phenomenal is quite exquisite and complexity astounding, but the fewer the brushstrokes illustrating consciousness’s mystery the better. I like the way that sounds even if it is not always true.

Eastern psychology is smudged with a divine simplicity- this is the mystic laughing, it is revelation, the magic of mind unmasked. The spiritual explorer’s for centuries now have traveled into the deepest parts of inner space and have returned with the ultimate fact about the nature of mind. It is at its essence quite simple. Eastern psychologies framework is not complicated. It is based upon how the mind actually works. Imagine that…

 

“How does the world’s greatest lover stay on top of his game? By asking his partners to lie down on the bed first…”

Hot Spring Honeymoon Front Cover
Click and Get a Laugh

 

His depth and wisdom give the reader a surgically precise but comic look into the relationship between the sexes.

 We loved it.  Upon deeper reflection, “Everyman” merges with “Everywoman”  to become “Everyone” in a small, dusty desert “Everytown”.

 

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.

A View from the Nations Capital

watergate

Watergate 

 

If I told you who I had dinner with last night I would have to kill you.

 

Evidently the individual was privy to top secret information. He continuously looked around to see if anyone was overhearing the conversation. He was sure the gentleman seated at the next table was trying to glean nuggets of information that evidently could be used against him.

 

So, I thought perhaps rather than bogging down in the details why not go big, really big, global, and find out what he thinks is going on exactly here on planet earth as seen through the eyes of a beltway insider.

 

First, everybody and everything is bought. Okay, Is it the D’s or R’s? It’s everybody. Who’s doing the buying the banks? Nope… they are silly little intermediaries. Who is it then? It isn’t even the multinationals, they are too small and too weak. It is something more vaguely powerful than all of that.

 

Here was his answer. There are a group of organized syndicates that have enormous capital reserves invested around the globe, they are quasi criminal, decidedly uncoupled to any nation state, and singularly interested in what they are interested in and haven’t the least bit of time for the silly notion of running or managing a country. Got that? Voting rights, abortion, stand your ground, gay marriage… all of that is silliness…. These people are interested in commodities, in offshore tax havens, central bankers doing what they are told, and small countries with no economies having nice little revolutions that might clutter the front pages of newspapers to provide cover and distraction while they go about their merry business of global domination busily vacuuming up all that wealth, all those riches, all that fabulous loot. Evidently this group isn’t into the spiritual thing….

 

Washington DC is out of control because they want it that way. Capitalism, democracy, the Bill of Rights, constitutional form of government, corporations, free trade, the dollar… all that big stuff? These guys (girls too) transcend all that junk. It isn’t even anything to do with any of that. It does seem to beg the question if this is farce why the NSA? What are we trying to protect ourselves from?

 

And it is the perfect set up. Anyone starts trying to explain this and they are instantly placed into the loony bin of conspiracy theorists, inflammatory the sky is falling types. Nope, keep your head down and keep playing along, any conversation about the puppeteers of the Davos set is sheer folly, you will need to see the head doctor and start taking your med’s regularly. So sanity is a negotiable… sincerity a quaint and quite charming but exploitable character trait. If you raise your voice as our dear friend Edward Snowden has done you are in deep dew-dew… First rule of rules? Don’t speak about the unspeakable.

Anyway, there you go mates, a cheerful little view from a DC insider….

 

Kennedy

HOT SPRING HONEYMOON

 

 

Bambalina was worried near to death. He wasn’t even kind of the same man. If he’d kept working, even at this pace, unfortunate as it may have seemed Fletcher McCrea was going to be stupid rich and rock bottom miserable all at the same time. That kind of paradox could shatter the soul of even the world’s most shallow womanizer’s. The saddest part was the burro could see that Fletcher didn’t much care for his life any longer. Worse yet Bambalina could smell that he wasn’t even bothering to shower. There was no need, he wasn’t going into town and none of his women were driving up to spend the night. He wasn’t even getting drunk. He didn’t even have enough sadness for that.

Day after day he’d worked the tragic end of his sex life, over and over again in his head. The same answer spit out every time. Fletcher McCrea could not conceive of there being any method or means to his being faithful to one woman. It was neither natural to his inclinations nor a kind of way of being he agreed with. For Fletcher’s sex life to work right he needed to be all tangled up with one woman, but just for the night, and then best thing was if he was with a woman, he’d see another he’d have to have, and then he’d start dwelling on the other while he was having intimate relations with the one. His women all knew that. His way of turning his sex life into some kind of relay race was an adaptation, a coping mechanism. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t kind. It was simply the best he could do. It was incomprehensible that when Fletcher McCrea looked out from Pipe Dream Mountain across the open wild Great Basin bottom lands, he was looking as far as any man’s eye could see, and there wasn’t in eyesight another bunch of women ready to take over where all his former girlfriends had left him off.