Monday, June 30, 2014


    Old ideas have failed for centuries so we propose a novel approach to fixing the middle east.  That follows below.
    Surf Lullaby
    Into 22 mph North Westerly wind-motor, not a day for the sail.
   Shore texture
 Dedicated to the US Congress. Your ideas on why?
  Soar patrol 1
  Soar patrol 2
in a tired old drama
     Dexter Filkins has proven himself to be one of the sharpest observers and thus experts on the middle east. The former New York Times writer, Pulitzer winner and current New Yorker writer stands tall in my eyes because aside from his skill, he and I share a theory.  We believe what is unfolding in the middle east is the latest incarnation of a war for power and control in Islam-Shia vs Sunni.  Nation state is of less importance than who's version of Islam, fundamentalist at that, dominates.  Our blundering into and out of Iraq only enabled the larger battlefield.  So, with that as pretext here is my magic bullet solution for the region.
    We create a coalition to internationalize the region, starting with the Saudi oil fields, and then internationalize Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and maybe Oman. The border states would be Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iran.
    The enforcing coalition would be the US, Russia, China as the big 3 with more power but would also include the Euro block, ASEAN, the Southern Hemisphere (African and South America) and finally the unit of Canada and Northern Europe.
    In essence the big 3 runs the new cartel, assigning oil distribution allotments, pricing, flow and etc to the world. The full coalition provides security and infrastructure control for the new middle east. Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Jordan and Israel become operating partners for commerce, social services, education, and economic development in the internationalized region. 
    The Saudi Royal family would be given the option to move to Mecca, that remain would under their control, but the bulk of their military, wealth and the remainder of the kingdom become internationalized. Some of the opulence and wealth we are familiar with would be utilized to build up the quality of life of citizens of the internationalized region. The Royals would be given a discreet amount of time in which to affect their move, after that they are out of luck. 
    In the process much of the British and French partitioning of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WW I, the bastardly and stupid progenitor to much of the regions troubles since, could be partially erased.  The continuing Arab-Israeli friction gets absorbed into the larger construct of maintaining a regional peace and economic vitality.
    The current bad ass, the Islamic State, is snuffed quickly with Russia, China and the US standing on the same sight of the barrel, pointed at them!
    Yea, I know it's a pipe dream but nothing else is working and I think our hope for the future is innovation, new ideas, creative options and bold imagining.  

See you down the trail. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014


   Dick Cheney and Egypt have things in common. That follows below, but first-
Reunion Ramblings
   Strange to be a visitor where once you lived. Things look differently, and indeed they are.
       Arriving in time to "enjoy" a severe weather outbreak, wondering if the locals realize how precious is the rain.
    It has been a while since my last thunderstorm and it is an appropriate commencement for a kind of "magical mystery tour."
     Even more appropriate the Beatles' movie of that name played on the local PBS station as I prepared for a 50th reunion. 50th?! Really?
   But first, there were tasks.  Miles to drive. Indiana countryside, flat and rich with corn well on the way to "knee high by the fourth of July."

   Obligations and remembrances down the road, while also
 invoking an old family custom-a visit to the Pizza King, after cemetery visits or funerals. 
    Memories too of college dates. Where else can you find a barbecue hamburger, thin crust delicious creation, still changeless after 50 years?  
 More highway views, ingrained memories,  
  more changed vistas, 
 and calming traditions and sights.
Amazement at bushes, trees and a lawn we planted, now a few years on.  Our design worked, as a park like setting ensues. Happy that we've made a place more green.

Amazement too at who we have become, while still only 18, in some place in our being.
    While old institutions gain a new face. The Indianapolis Museum of Art continues to re-invent itself and to spread its influence
   even to the new trendy Alexander Hotel, where art is celebrated and abounds.

         Reunion journeys where memories old and new gather.
     I grew up learning of Madame CJ Walker, probably America's first African American woman millionaire. Now she's a work of art, though I over heard young members of a wedding party identify her as a "famous singer." Time does its tricks! 
 What do I wish I could have again, or take back to my home in California? Certainly I'd take an abundant cure to our drought.
  And we leave a piece of history behind, while taking the memory. 40 years ago my radio employer staged what became known as the Great Raft Race. As old is often new, it is the subject of media attention and there is discussion of a reunion of another sort. That is one I'll sit out, though an old image of my colleague Bob, in the cap, and me booms out from the past. Those were the days.
    Confluences in the river of time. A 50th High School reunion. Stirrings of a 40th anniversary for a major cultural event and I'm still at a loss to believe my generation has made so many orbits around the sun.
     Years ago when Lana and I settled into our first house, a neighbor, a great old guy in his 80's, rode his bike over to our porch to visit. He said he didn't have the endurance he used to, even though he could only think of himself as an 18 year old.  At the time we thought what an odd notion. Now we are beginning to understand.
      As the great Indiana writer Kurt Vonnegut puts it,
"and so it goes."

   Dick Cheney and a recent ruling by the Egyptian courts are travesties. The judge and the discredited ex-vice president would be bound and gagged and put in public stocks were this my world to control.
   The Egyptian courts have sentenced 3 journalists to long prison terms for telling the truth.  
    The truth is something Dick Cheney does not tell. He is a liar and probably indictable on several charges of corruption to say nothing of his potential as a war criminal.  Cheney  became so toxic that even the not so bright George W. Bush and his other advisers shunned him in the last term as though he was a ham sandwich left in a car trunk over the summer. That same idiot is running his mouth again.
  America should not forget those weapons of mass destruction that Cheney "knew" were in Saddam's Iraq. Nor that Iraq would become a Democracy. Or that Iraqi oil money would repay the war effort, etc. Nor should we forget Cheney's famous "One Percent Doctrine," which contributed to the ill fated invasion of Iraq and war on terror all the while Cheney's old Haliburton pals and subsidiaries earned billions in war profiteering in no bid contracts.  
    Pulitzer winner Ron Suskind's book One Percent Doctrine, published a few years ago, reveals how Cheney's sick mind and devious politics spun us into the web of violence, war, death and bad diplomacy that plagues the planet now.
    No one should take a word this malevolent jack ass spews with anything but contempt.  It is after all a free country, despite Cheney's poisonous misadventures and crime. In his transplanted heart he probably applauds the decision of the Egyptian court.  You can't help but think this evil cretin has contaminated that new heart with his own hovering greed and darkness. Dick Cheney is the worst of America. 

     See you down the trail.

Monday, June 23, 2014


    Until a few days ago I could never say, "We partied at the castle."
   "Twilight on the Terrace" a fund raiser by the Friends of the Castle, permits you a chance to imagine the parties 
 hosted by William Randolph Hearst at San Simeon, his mountain top castle, six miles from our more modest ridge top abode. 
  We've been to great parties and feasts and have seen a bit of this planet, but San Simeon is certainly one of the very top party places in the world.
 The evening light on the mountain top is gorgeous.

   Now I understand why Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, David Niven, Clark Gale, Carole Lombard, Robert Taylor, Howard Hughes, Winston Churchill, the Barrymores, Jean Harlow, Errol Flynn, George Bernard Shaw among others, liked to party up at the Castle.
    Great local wine, food, music and views that literally do not end. And it should be noted, modern guests are offered a more varied menu and certainly more wine than W.R. permitted his celebrants. That's why David Niven learned to sneak in bottles and hide them in bedrooms! 

     See you down the trail

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


    26 Years has brought changes to a California music tradition.
   Live Oak, a project of San Luis Obispo public radio station KCBX has filled the oak forests and wilderness between the San Raphael and Santa Ynez  mountains with California and independent music in a Father's Day weekend festival that has not only become tradition, but a generational matter.
    Live Oak is the best of the Tie-Dye nation-Peace, Love and Dirt, as they say. There's been a lot of love. Each year new generations of Live Oakers appear.
   People have dated or met at Live Oak, fallen in love and so the Live Oak demographics keep growing.  Grand parents to grand kids, Live Oak is a festival of smiles, mellow moods and great music-acoustic, country, jazz, gospel, blue grass, new grass, Mexican, California home grown, and genre bending artistry from bigger names to up and comers.
   It's a picnic under the oaks, and for those who camp or 
RV, it's a jam session that never ends.

   Acts play the main stage, a hot licks stage and Stage Too
 here under more oaks, where the artists answer questions and discuss their writing, recording and try out new material.
  Amidst the name sake Live Oaks, napping brings a particular style-

    This is a particularly telling moment from Live Oak.  The kilted man, sans shirt, and his buddy protect a watermelon  especially prepared with an adult beverage. He glady shared spoonfuls or sipping straws with friends. When little Live Oakers expressed an interest, the fellow wondered to a concession stand and returned with slushies. Kids and parents were satisfied.

   Live Oak is a music festival that is family friendly and entertaining at every turn.
the garden report
   Despite our drought, a week of record setting heat and an invasion of cucumber beetles, Lana's crop of fava beans
has been impressive. Here's a portion of one's days harvest.
The inner husks on the right.
    I rhapsodized about favas in a previous post--the art of the second shuck- including an upclose look at a method of shelling and husking. Though Lana and daughter Katherine swear a quick blanching makes it easier, it seems somehow "less athletic." Still, what a product!

  See you down the trail.