Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Likes and Dislikes.....

For any potential match who never got to my likes and dislikes due to dating site text restraints, here's the complete, unabridged listing:
I DO LOVE: my kids, kittens, puppies, the American flag, arming Tibet, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked (although I have nothing against a little nakedness amongst friends), same-sex marriages, non same-sex marriages, sitcoms without canned laughter, a good Chardonnay, a well hit golf, tennis or ping pong ball, The SF Giants in first place, summer evenings in Sacramento, a ragtop of any denomination, pausing for everyone to catch up and realizing that they already have, self-deprecating humor, tantalizing kisses, being silly, being serious, being just short of brilliant, having one for the road when I know I’m sleeping over, seeing my lover smile at me regardless of who is looking, elderly guys at the gym checking out the chicks, cool scars (chicks do dig them & they’re great conversation starters, especially for the overly morbid), Stephen King books, Thailand, snuggling in satin sheets on rainy days (hopefully with someone), the name Bob (it’s strong, simple and it’s a palindrome), the Mustang from Bullitt, a vintage Stratocaster plugged into a Fender Blues DeVille, sushi (especially the deadly Blowfish in the hands of a master), working on a car and having it still run when you’re done, people who listen, Kill Bill 1 & 2, any Denzel Washington movie, existentialistic writers (okay, so I put that one in because it sounds cool), being silly in inappropriate moments, Japanese game shows, a good cowboy movie, helping people, an unearned smile, peanuts and beer at a sporting event, profound nonsense, any Marx Brothers movie, the uniforms on Star Trek (any year), county fairs, not paying retail for anything, Steve McQueen.

As for things I DISLIKE: Dr. Phil in Speedos, arbitrary use of a warning device, the chance to make only ONE good first impression (Jeez, the pressure!), white guys dancing to anything but surf music, sand in my shoes, someone wearing so much cologne it induces an involuntary gag reflex, being judge by “They” (who are they anyway?), being buffeted by an artic blast with a wind chill factor of 60 below (especially when you’re trying to putt!), feeling confounded, deflated or aghast, Christmas Carols sung out of season, Bluetooth headsets at the gym, butt implants, the latest Justin Beiber news, the part of the story left untold, fashion fascism, SUV’s the size of some third world countries, strangers who insist on penetrating your comfort zone, fake crab meat, facial tattoos, NASCAR racing or the art of turning left, old sponges, 2 people living in a 10,000 square foot house (you could put an African village in there!), the terrible tattoos on NBA players (I mean you’re a millionaire… get a decent tatt!), Maidenhair ferns (like an old person in a hospice, no matter what you do for them, they die), holidays made up by advertising agencies in order to manipulate consumers with that whole guilt/spend paradigm, fishing or watching paint dry, pit bull owners (see NASCAR above), amusement park rides that thrash and spin violently (bad inner-ear thing),  needlessly steep learning curves, planned obsolescence, The Yugo (just a bad idea all the way around). 

And thank you for reading all of this… if at the end it all seems trivial, please reconsider… it was simply my way of viewing the truth from a room with no windows.

God bless and peace be with you….

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The State We're In...

So, there are 20 million unemployed Americans with no unemployment benefits. The country is bankrupt both fiscally and morally. We are now robbing the once sacrosanct Social Security stash to keep funding perpetual war in the Middle East. Politicians keep favoring the kings of capitalism with their bills and laws. And the middle class is decaying faster than road kill in an Arizona summer. That at least describes the tip of ice berg. (At least the part that Sarah Palin can see from her backyard.) So how did we get here and what are we going to do about it? The answers would be simple if they weren’t so complicated.

Certainly politicians seem more intent on shedding blame than accepting responsibility. They have ignored the president’s job bill, choosing rather to focus on making the phrase “In God We Trust” part of our official branding. Well, these idiots better trust in somebody because they don’t have a clue what is really happening. Or, scarier yet, they do but they choose to remain inert and dysfunctional. And isn’t that a frightening prospect; when your elected officials are busy bumping into furniture rather than turning on the lights.

Of course Americans also have to take responsibility for the state we are in. After all, we gave George W. Bush eight years to mess around with this country. That was like giving a five-year old kid a loaded .45 hand gun and telling him to go have some fun. (Unfortunately, out kid didn’t shoot himself.)

I can hear all or you moderate/Republicats saying that this is just another “Blame Bush” diatribe. You’re damn straight it is. When President Clinton left office, we had money in the meter. When "Daddy's Little Cowboy" left office, not only had our meters expired but our cars were being impounded.

Thank God the Earth is more resilient than its inhabitants. This rock knows how to bob and weave like a veteran boxer on the ropes. It is programmed to endure; humans are not. We are, alas, ants busy running our maze to nowhere. But what do you expect from the culture that created MTV, speed-dating and TV dinners: if it isn’t satisfying in less than 4 minutes, we are just too busy chasing the American "dream" to deal with it.

In the eternal conundrum of whether the glass is half empty or half full, I ask who the hell drank half the glass when I wasn’t looking and what are we going to do about it. Yes, I’ve become a curmudgeon. (Andy Rooney R.I.P.) Back in the 60’s one of the anthems was “don’t trust anyone over 30!” Now it’s become “don’t trust anyone!”

Since this country’s leaders have adopted a philosophy based on lifeboat ethics or social Darwinism, reason, logic and rational thought have become as rare as a Pentecostal minster at a Slayer concert. The fortunate ones ask “why all the whining and moaning” while those staying afloat by hanging onto whatever debris is left of their lives after the flogging by King Bush ask “who the hell drank half of my glass of water while I wasn’t looking?” That whole concept about a nation “of the people, by the people and for the people” has floated into polluted waters never to be seen again. But perhaps it was just idealistic rhetoric the old guys needed to sell the deal back in 1776, too na├»ve to ever survive the test of time.

Even our founding fathers argued over the benefits of a lais·sez–faire economy. Is the republic responsible for the quality of life of every citizen? It would seem not, unless you are an unmarried mother or a recovering drug addict. Who decides who is worth saving: the party in power, of course.

America was designed to be constantly at war with itself. Unlike many older countries in Asia and Europe who have acquired wisdom from their mistakes, America looks to its future with all the savvy of a juvenile delinquent waiting for his parents to bail him out. We were designed to be a country divided and so we are. And so we shall remain until revolution alters our matrix.

It seems our founding fathers, being largely Free Masons, had a keen sense of weights, balances and the absurd. Apparently they envisioned the two-party system as a good thing. A way to police ourselves when one party got too powerful; that whole checks and balances thing. And so it goes to this day: one party pontificates their policies for 4-8 years, while the other party relentlessly objects. Unfortunately, because of this continual turmoil, the psyche of the populace is kept in a continual state of upheaval. We are always in a state of flux with one party insisting they speak for the good of the people, while the other party prays for a slip in rhetoric so they can pounce upon the opportunity to make the same claim. What’s a citizen to do: who are we to believe?

This continual friction creates the energy to turn the turbines of this beast we call America. And this two cylinder party makes sure this machine never rests. It is perpetually creating energy through chronic dissent. And through this inherent lack of equilibrium our country stumbles forward like a drunk leaving the bar at closing time. On the rare occasion when the machine is finely- tuned and running with majority approval, it can thrive. Unfortunately, this baby’s drive train is straight out of a British sports car, which means constant maintenance.

The machine that is supposed to drive America is continually breaking down. We are in the shop more than not. And what is the result of this constant aggravation:  thuggery against ourselves and the rest of the world. Hey, we have to take our failures out on someone.

After all, America is the ultimate bully. We have a wretched legacy of beating up on the little guy JUST BECAUSE WE CAN. Just take a look at the most popular video games and you will get a sense of the “Rambo” mentality that infiltrates every home in this country. And, for most Americans, what they see is what they believe. As the media serves up, so we consume. After all, we are America, the country that kicks ass all over the globe and leaves logic bleeding by the wayside. If truth is the first victim of war, then logic is right behind.

But what about the terrorists, you ask? Don’t they hate America? Of course they do. And not just the terrorists, who are certifiably insane, but the people of the Middle East and most of the world wonder at our penchant for misconstrued violence.

Take a group of people from divergent backgrounds, divide them up according to their beliefs, and you’ll discover that our forefathers were right: people’s feelings, are grounded in nothing more than the tainted rhetoric and prosaic prose  , will indeed fuel their beliefs, which in turn creates dissent against those opposed to those beliefs, which in turn moves the great machine.

But unfortunately, this constant turmoil dumbfounds much of the populace. Sitting like the kids in the back of the class, stoned out of their minds from huffing glue bags, these lost souls find lonely solace in agreeing with the person sitting next to them, who in turn does the same. And so begins the process of dumbing down society.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Value of Hard Times

I just passed the highway sign again: HARD TIMES 30 MILES, PROCEED WITH ANGST AND LOATHING. I’ve been here many times before but the place is perpetually changing, like a soliloquy written by a schizophrenic. Of course I come with the requisite baggage: a 24-pack of self-loathing, a Styrofoam cooler filled with interminable doubt, several aged bottles filled with abandonment and parental injustice, a matched set of antique but functional dueling pistols and a well-rehearsed PowerPoint presentation containing a compelling array of my reasons for making this journey. With all of those plus 3 cases of Pacifico and a sandwich bag filled with “shrooms” I should be able to hang on long enough to reconcile my predicament: trying to find comfort between a rock and a hard place.

As I cruise down the main drag, I see that the town looks pretty much the same as the last time I was here. Battered and bloody women running and screaming through the dusty streets; grown men huddled by the side of the road, boldly weeping into their beards; a distant cacophony of shrill screams and soul-drenching moans that create a bizarre yet compelling libretto that welcomes me back to the place that loves to beat you down.

There is no point searching for friends for you have none here. This is a town fueled by loneliness and despair; heartbreak and frustration. I stop the car, take a seat by a business man with a broken spirit, and begin the process of unloading my baggage. He turns his head as if wanting to ask me a question, but immediately realizes the futility and returns his gaze to the garbage blowing through the street. We sit on the curb, each of us drinking in the bile, filling our lungs with all the rancid catharsis that Hard Times has to offer. For me it is the death of wonder, brought on by the weight of no longer being able to make my way in the world.

A woman in a torn and dirty sweater appears at my side from nowhere, whispering the same phrase: “Why can’t I be loved?” My momentary desire to console her passes quickly as she shuffles away, confronting another despondent old man down the road with the same unanswerable question. Unfortunately, Hard Times is a place filled with questions, not answers; filled with despair not resolution; filled with bitterness not joy.

For me, the inability to find work in spite of diligent effort skewed the context of my life so badly that all that I believed became a question, not an answer; a condition welcomed by the despondency that fills the air like a putrid fog in Hard Times. The struggle to regain stasis in my life eventually wore me down, becoming my reality. I expect the woman wanting love had gone through a similar process. The twisted bodies along the side of the road attested to the fact that accepting Hard Times as your home would eventually kill you. Confronting that reality was one of the main reasons to visit this awful place.

I think we all visit a section of Hard Times during our life. The trick is learning to use the pervasive misery and sadness there to awaken the love and hope that lies dormant inside us. It is not an easy task, often equivalent to slaying a monster with a pebble, but it is possible. For me that night in Hard Times was all about recognizing that the present does not equal the future. That each day I continued to endure might indeed bring me closer to a new vision of my life. One filled with compassion and love, not fraught with frustration and anger.

The struggle against the darkness that exists in Hard Times will always be there, for how can you appreciate the good times if you haven’t sampled the bad? The trick is to remember that the only constant in the universe is change and that humans are incredibly adaptable beings, able to re-create their realities at will. To bring about change, all one has to do is immerse themselves in the paradigm, and there is no place better to do that than crawling through the desperate throngs who fill the dusty streets of Hard Times.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Oh To Be Ordinary

I thought I'd write just a little tonight about the plight of being too creative, too sensitive and too removed from the status quo. If you spent twenty years with one person how would you feel if he/she never truly understood you? If you found yourself wandering a frontage road that divided the life you should have lived and the one you got stuck with how would you deal with it? Would you run for the hills that held your life's purpose or would you stay the course, do the "right" thing and fulfill your responsibility to someone to whom you would always remain a stranger? Would you let lust drive your destiny? Would you let it drive you insane?

Just like a square peg whittled down to fit into a round hole, those of us who acknowledge the absurdity of maintaining a palsied status quo run the risk of being ostracized by those who would maintain this paltry level of living at any cost. The majority rules that those emotionally confused folks need to squelch their desires and stick to the rules of the game: marriage, career, children and retirement in some state where the sun shines more often than not. Unfortunately, once you commit to the plan, the only exit is leaping from the status quo into loneliness, despair and desperation, or so they want you to believe.

The truck driver who always wanted to paint, the attorney who wanted to write, the waitress who always wanted to dance; they've become commonplace cliches in our modern machine that worships value only in monetary terms. Sure, stardom is idolized - America is after all a cult of personality. But what about all of those unfortunates who lost grasp of their dreams along the way? Where are they to stash their angst created by unfulfilled potential?

Once again I refer to Canada which recognizes the importance the artist brings to its culture and accordingly subsidizes their development. Socialism our status quo yells, quaking at the thought of actually giving government money to someone following a creative path. Artists don't feed the machine, truck drivers do.

Of course, America has no money to subsidize the arts anyway; we are too busy trying to convince the Middle East that we are their friends. We are too busy paying back favors for votes committed. We are too GODDAMNED BUSY GIVING SENATORS FREE HAIRCUTS!

So the next Martha Graham is left to take orders for food at some backstreet burger joint, the next Jackson Pollock is left to drive 18-hours to deliver plumbing parts to Pittsburgh and the next John Updike is left to plea bargain a three-time loser off of death row. And so it goes for the criminally inane.

America does not savor the artist unless they are a commercial success, because then they become a part of the process that drives this imperialist lunacy. America is a country lost in its own complacency. No one dare step out of line since fear rules the day. The status quo has become the symbol for modern-day stoicism. America is drowning in the mundane. Watch any channel on your television for 10 minutes and proof of that claim will become obnoxiously obvious.

America has created a population that worships the status quo, that thinks no further than their credit limit, that equates success to how much money you make, that sees creativity in the familiar, that refuses to challenge their own cultural bias, because they see it all as just one thing: maintaining the status quo... and so the machine rumbles on, using every ounce of energy fed into it, never moving, never evolving, just providing that familiar matrix for which the country needs to survive.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reagan: America's Greatest Nazi

From Letters to the Editor, Grass Valley Union, January 25th Edition:

The unfortunate death of “transient” Mark Rye during our arctic blast is a sad commentary on the state of our nation, our state and our city. Misspent revenues and intense infighting have created a condition of lifeboat ethics where you are either on the boat or under it.

Those of us still afloat or clinging to the sides simply have no room for people like Mark Rye who likely wandered into oblivion in the 1980s when Governor Reagan closed all the mental health facilities in California.

Calling them a superfluous drain on our economy, this single heartless act created a perpetual tsunami of misery and fear. Millions of Mark Ryes, who in a civilized society would be given basic health care and shelter, are left to battle their demons alone, hunkered inside dumpsters, curled up in makeshift tents pieced together from found plastic or shivering in skimpy sleeping bags worthless against sub-freezing weather.

Armed with nothing but a pint of rot gut whiskey and shards of memories both real and imagined, they challenge our humanity with a simple imperative scribbled on crumpled cardboard: Please help me! It is a very sad commentary on a very sad time in America.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


It occurred to me that logic is not like the laws of physics; it is not a steadfast conclusion that can generally be proven by simple observation. I always thought that when all the solutions to a problem were considered, logic would automatically drive the query to an assigned parking spot. No matter what the question, with logic behind the wheel, the destination was inevitable. I mean logic is logic, right? Wrong! Logic is as subjective as your choice of bedroom slippers.

For me, logic has always been the solution that accomplished the task in the shortest possible time, doing the least amount of harm, providing the most good while costing the least amount of money. My conservative friends claim I am being misled by paltry emotionalism that leads me down the wrong path. What I perceived as truth was really just an illusion. I had failed to realize that logic changes in direct ratio to the need for a specific outcome.

The conservative take on logic is more malleable and self-serving. Logic for them is simply a word; a means to an end. The word itself is not sacrosanct, like the laws of physics, which I believe they would also argue were far less stalwart than Moses talking to God in a burning bush. After all, they lauded Reagan's demented take on supply-side economics, also known as the "trickle down theory", as the panacea for the country's ills. (Little did they know that the poor guy was actually proffering that the rich simply piss on the poor. Hey, the guy had dementia so don't rush to judgment.)

I mean why bother with logic when you can simply deny empirical data provided by scientists from around the globe proving that the earth is 4.54 billion years old. Who needs good old common sense when you can dismiss carbon dating as the work of the devil, write off fossiliferous evidence of dinosaur life as funny shapes in rocks and declare that an embryo is ready to take the SAT a couple of days after conception.

For the Republican Party, logic is eviscerated by the wheels of greed. It is not cumbersome to them since they have conveniently misplaced their morality. Logical thinking to Tea Party Patriots excludes the plight of the long-term unemployed, the struggle of the minimum wage worker, the heartbreak of the mother whose son has just been gunned down in the streets on his way home from school, the family farmer being decimated by the huge, corporate farming machines, the severely ill man without medical benefits who decides to die from his disease rather than bankrupt his children, and the list goes on and on.

For me, logical thinking about what America is all about asks: if we are not all citizens of America, then what are we? If we are not all entitled to the same opportunities then what are we? If our efforts to better our status are stifled by prejudice and bigotry, then what are we? If a small group of soulless, power-hungry elitists aspire to control the disadvantaged to fulfill their needs, then what have we become?

A small, powerful, elitist group, operating above the law and exploiting the disadvantaged has always been at the core of any fascist movement, from Caesar to Mussolini to Reagan, the agenda has always been the same: make the underprivileged so miserable that simply working becomes a privilege. Just make them forget that their impoverished status is predetermined and any hope of transcending their state in life is fueled by nothing more than well-crafted lies.

The right wingers love to fan the flames of paranoia by tossing around the term "socialism" like some half-inflated football dunked in the Ebola virus. They stress the extinction of a person's civil rights, the creation of a "New World Order" (Brought into existence by one of their own, George Bush Sr.), the loss of the right to bear arms, the escalation of the number of illegal immigrants spewing over our ill-protected borders like ants after a sugar cookie and any other lie they can sell to try and increase the paranoia of their well-heeled, but imbecilic followers. And what is there ultimate selling tool: logic with a twist of fear.

Watch Glen Beck diagram his implausible hypothesis on his blackboards. Man, talk about deconstructing and reconstructing the facts. I like to call it "fringe facts". He is really working that propaganda machine overtime. And since his audience is already immobilized by the fear of illegal aliens or unemployed drug addicts breaking into their impeccably landscaped McMansion that they earned with the sweat off their brow and the flex of their muscles, and of course that 500K they inherited from Grandpa Joe. And even though they are safely tucked away behind a virtually impregnable gate guarded by some guy that makes Barney Fife look like The Rock, still they worry and look to Herr Beck for answers. And of course, in the end, he provides them with irrefutable logic, skewed through the Glenn Beck filter.

So logic is not a constant. It is just a word used by different groups to try and prove their points. Some of the points are reflected only with the use of carefully placed mirrors; the ones that really let the fear shine through. So logic is a tool of propagandists. If they can skew the evidence enough, then the logic is easily digested by their anxious and myopic listeners.

To the person who has not yet buried their compassion under that new 36-jet built-in spa, logic is the only path to the truth. A truth that includes the fate of everyone involved in the decision.

The citizen who still recalls our forefather's definition of America (and still possesses a soul) knows that the road of life is filled with switchbacks, potholes deep enough to snap an axle, pedestrians unexpectedly stepping in front of your car; a plethora of problems just waiting for their number to be called. And so it is with logic: all people affected by the decision must be considered and the outcome cannot outweigh the facts that come to bear; the damage caused by a selfish decision will roar across the populace like a tsunami, upsetting everything in its path.

So I reiterate my approach to making a logical decision: logic should be the solution that accomplishes the task in the shortest possible time, doing the least amount of harm, providing the most good while costing the least amount of money. If you see it presented as anything else, you will know it is propaganda in logic's clothing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

THE LOST & LONELY: Homelessness & Mental Illness

Psychiatric News February 5, 2010
Volume 45 Number 3 Page 7
© American Psychiatric Association

* Community News

How Many Americans Have a Mental Illness, but No Home?

How many Americans are both mentally ill and homeless?

There appears to be no clear answer to this question. But some statistics, as well as estimates from experts on the subject, provide some perspective on it.

For example, the U.S. Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Survey, published in December 2008, included information on homelessness and mental illness in 23 cities between October 2007 and September 2008. On an average night during this time span, and in the 23 cities combined, some 28,000 people were sleeping in emergency shelters or on the streets, and about a quarter of them had a serious mental illness.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless fact sheet published in June 2008, 16 percent of the single adult homeless population has a severe and persistent mental illness.

“Depending on where you read, between a third and two-thirds of homeless people are mentally ill and/or use drugs or alcohol,” Van Yu, M.D., who heads up the Project for Psychiatric Outreach to the Homeless in New York City, told Psychiatric News. “And a significant percentage have both. So a conservative estimate is that 15,000 of the 38,000 homeless people in New York City are mentally ill and/or use drugs or alcohol.”

“Most estimates put the number of homeless people in the United States around 3.5 million a year,” Sam Tsemberis, Ph.D., founder of Pathways to Housing for the homeless mentally ill population, said in an interview. “The question then is, How many of these homeless 3.5 million people are severely mentally ill? Depending on how you define mental illness—the criteria you are using—the estimates range between 20 percent and 40 percent. So between 20 percent and 40 percent of the estimated 3.5 million homeless are mentally ill. In other words, anywhere between 700,000 and 1.4 million Americans are both mentally ill and without a home.” Graphic