Monday, November 27, 2017


 night work in Morro Bay

resembling the freeway

a light in the darkness
   The moment I saw this photo by Jim Wilson of the New York Times, I wanted to share it. Christmas season has come to even Santa Rosa California where normal is a word without relevance this season. 

twilight hopes
    There was a time when people were sure dreams could become real, that visions were visited upon souls and that spirits could roam. It was in the gloaming, in the twilight, that narrowing distance between day and night, thought to be a time of magic. Hope and fear nestling together, dependent on the other.

after the prelude
     Who could expect a tech dependent culture, a society risen on the muscle of science and fed on commerce would find itself stumbling into a wilderness, shredding itself by means of an inner, bipolar war, voluntarily blinding itself by a refusal to see, ignoring truths and exercising meanness while celebrating venality.
in the time before
    Those of old could never know what would come with the morning, nor how might they survive the mysteries in the dark. How weakened would they be by the fear that built in the night.
who shall we be?
      Women and men who deserve our respect tell us we are divided and in a cultural war-rural against urban, those with higher educations and those without, fractured by economic class, riven by ideologies, splintering into enclaves, separated by expectations.
      Indeed, we are like those ancient hopes and fears, nestled together on the fulcrum. 
      We watch as an executive branch and federal establishment implodes and disintegrates, departments being dissembled, with no skilled hand on the tiller and scores of important positions unfilled. The legislative branch is locked in an insular world though in a free fall decomposition. 
     Integrity and decorum are abandoned. It is dangerous and foolish to ignore the lessons of 240 years.
      Perhaps you read the remarks of General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA

      "If this is who we are or who we are becoming, I have wasted 40 years of my life. Until now it was not possible for me to conceive of an American President capable of such an outrageous assault on truth, a free press or the first amendment."

      It is the fair axiom of politics to ask, are we better than we were? Are we better off, are we a more united United States after a year of trump than we were at the end of Obama? Is anything better than it was?
       Here's a link to good and brief assessment of the trump year from Foreign Policy Magazine.
       Are we living into Shakespeare's Richard III lament-
"Now is the winter of our discontent..."
      Who shall we be when the sun returns to its fullness? Who shall emerge in the primaries of the spring and who will lead the challenge or defense in the campaigns of fall? Who will have the power to turn the votes-rural or urban, the educated or those who are not, those who carry tiki torches and spew or those who invite diversity? 
       Some hope for candidates of vision, compassion, integrity, pragmatism and strength to clean, correct, make right and restore. Others see no fault nor sins nor madness in the regime. We are divided. We enter this winter on the throes of fear, discord and anger. 
       The older I get the more I am convinced it was ever such. We can destroy or we can heal. I am of the camp that looks for light, a peace out of the chaos. Be alert. Watch with hope and live that way.

        See you down the trail.



Thursday, November 23, 2017


revenge of the fantasized
    Sexual socio-politics is certainly at a disruptive distance from the imaginings and slick fantasies of Hugh Hefner. This passage of "revelation and reckoning" is on our thanksgiving list, like cranberries-bitter sweet and essential.
     As tough as it is for women to unearth moments of victimhood, it contributes to the good for everyone. Healing, we hope.
     Men are telling other men to inventory their own actions. We are stunned by the list of those who have fallen. For the present this is a type of national catharsis, and it is a time to be careful.
     Thought and deliberation are necessary. I think most of the fallen have personality disorders-they are creeps, "perverts" and abusive. Not all of the behavior is similar, though all of it may have been unwanted. Some is disturbed, some is poor judgment and the difference is important. 
      The assaults, physical or emotional are connected to  history and we have allowed it. I recall how a woman colleague at a radio station was subjected to salacious and lascivious comments by another colleague. It happened almost daily. I was embarrassed by it, but I did not write it up or report it. The humor at that time, our company attitude and even public standards reflected an uneven field. Social standards were complicit in abusing and objectifying women, systemically. 
       Careful accounting is important. Rebecca Traister, an author who is also a writer-at-large for New York magazine raises a curious dilemma. She asks how culpable were feminist leaders and other women who "condoned" Bill Clinton's sexual escapades because he supported their agenda?
     We need to recall little boys growing up amidst social cues and norms. The Hefner influence objectified women, sexualized their appearance and body, made a behavioral game of sexuality. That also shaped culture and behavior.
Harvey Weinstein appears to be a lout and a debased egotistical slob, and while it is not a justification he is right in saying the "culture was different." The change happening now is evolution. 
     But this reckoning raises questions. How then does someone  flirt or "come on," seek and pursue a potential romance or love interest? What is an appropriate way to begin? What are acceptable opening lines? 
     Should we no longer complement friends or colleagues on a haircut, style or anything of their appearance?
     How far back do we go to seek an apology, explanation, or justice? Could the zeal or emotion of this social change impact its legitimacy and legacy?
     How do we question the authenticity of an accusation without seeming to further victimize? Are the accused entitled an explanation? Could a comment or action simply have been ill-conceived or a case of misperception? Will we rush to judgment? 
     When does the focus turn to the sitting president, quick to criticize others, but also accused of sexual assault?
     You see how careful we must be. 
     This appears to be a most profound cultural change, an inflection point on social history. Anger alone should not be the architect of what is to follow.

autumn settings on the central coast
vineyards adopting fall color
a house concert
Katherine's sand box. Art by Neal.
a grand entrance
Cayucos night light
Piper Riley Evans-a Scot's salute
Joie and Karen in thought
A birthday petite four 
       These old boys have seen many changes on their watch.
More are on the horizon.

       Welcome to the season. Thanks for your readership.

      See you down the trail.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


converging forces
     Fault lines and fissures are cracking social and political order with a force that will leave everything changed
     At ground zero are sexual politics, power, international order and reality.
the lunacy of one
    The US was booed, jeered and delegates walked out when trump's representative spoke to the World Climate Change Conference in Bonn.
      This administration was there to tout coal and nuclear energy. Defending fossil fuels earned the scorn of most of the 200 nations attending. The US is the only nation on the planet to exit the Paris Climate Agreement.
      Can anyone with common sense not see as ludicrous the nature of being the only nation not to understand the imperatives of climate change? It is ignominy, but inevitable when a man of such "intellect" occupies the White House.

the webs we weave

an orb spider taking care of business
 a characteristic of the orb spider is to rebuild the web each day...we watched this one over the course of a week
and it always had something on the line

men stuck in webs

the left must square their own sexual abuse excuses
      More men in power are falling in disgrace as the seismic force of #metoo revelations bring a scope of accountability to sexual assault and harassment. 
      Steve Jurvetson is stepping down as partner of a powerful Silicon Valley VC firm. After allegations of harassment, Jurvetson exits Draper, Fisher and Jurvetson which he co founded in 1985. They have been a huge player 
in tech. Jurvetson is also leaving the boards of Tesla and Space X.
      The tech industry is ripe with a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination. The millionaire boys club culture is getting rocked.
     California Democrat Senate leader Kevin de Leon will hire an outside firm to investigate a growing list of allegations of a "culture of sexual harassment" in the legislative branch in the state capitol. 
     Traditionally the Senate Rules Committee investigates such allegations. This disrupts California Senate tradition and many read that as a signal of how serious will be the probe.
      De Leon's move has irritated some. He is an insurgent candidate seeking to replace veteran US Senator Diane Feinstein.
      In fact he is from Arkansas but conscientious Democrats and liberals are actually agreeing with their Republican and conservative counterparts it is time to address Bill Clinton's sexual adventures. One cannot challenge the behavior of a Roy Moore and try to weasel away from Clinton's destructive behavior, even if Clinton's affairs were with consenting adults. 
      Clinton's personal shame and "bimbo eruptions" distracted his administration and many blame it for weakening the party. Al Gore may have had better luck if he didn't have the Clinton shame around his neck. Some will tell you Hillary Clinton may have been a more winning personality if her husband had not been such a sex dog.
     No Bill Clinton is not accused of molesting teens, but his accusers say he was a serial philanderer. Excusing Clinton's behavior may have enabled a culture of harassment where sex, power and manipulation mingled. 
    I wonder how this time of revelation and falls may affect the serial adulterer and self avowed sexual predator who snuck into the White House. trump had threatened to sue the women who accused him of sexual assault. I wonder if those accusations will come back to center stage. Should they?
the idiot and the bomb
    It is appropriate the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tackles the issue of a President's capacity to singularly initiate a nuclear strike. The question and the protocol is fraught with complexity and nuance, but the probe is certainly appropriate given who this president is. I would never have imagined I'd call the President an ignorant buffoon, but I never imagined this president. 

     These are strange times. 

     See you down the trail.



Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Mother and child and mother to be and their reflections and their shadows

   In the impossible task of absorbing the shock of another mass shooting, many of us default to a worry about our kids and grandkids.
    Though we cannot grasp the agony of the survivors the mere thought escalates our concern about the world next generations will inherit.
       A lifetime as a journalist leaves me looking for something
beyond the loss. This time we hear coverage that draws the connection between spousal abuse and domestic violence and the shooter. In fact it is a damning link in most mass shootings.
       Will we-the collective we-the people and those we elect-finally do something?

california central coast rain season begins

    Heavy skies, morning banks of fog in valleys, cats who detest wet paws and lack of sunshine, signal a season change.
   It is a time when green begins to return.

hiding the green
    More than 90 media organizations around the planet cooperated in the latest iteration of the "Paradise Papers" and have discovered how $Trillions have been sheltered in off shore havens, mostly illegally at worst and sneakily, at best.
    Plenty of embarrassing stories and links have surfaced. We should expect some of the mighty to fall out of favor and perhaps into legal nets. We wonder how long Wilbur Ross and his top adviser will remain out of the fire since both have ties and have been profiting from a company with direct ties to the Kremlin. Ross, who was a king of predatory default practises should never have been appointed Commerce Secretary. This latest revelation is an offense to honest government.
     We wonder if the Mueller probe is looking at the business arrangements of the man child tweeter in chief. Do you think he has seen the orange lout's taxes?

speaking of the kremlin
and non-fake (that would be real) news
    We continue to learn how pervasive was and is the kremlin involvement in Facebook and Twitter. The scale of misinformation and disinformation is massive, and without precedent in modern history.
     Millions of social media users received, read, and perhaps believed lies. It has been part of the effort of Vladimir Putin to undermine US citizens' belief in American institutions and leaders. This is fact, regardless of whether or not the trump organization knew about it and/or willingly participated.
     And, the Russians continue to gnaw away.

and it happens as we euthanize traditional media
    The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University notes that between 45% to 85% of all original reporting is done by newspapers then picked up by other media. Now, factor in this fact-since 2000 20 thousand news jobs have been eliminated and revenues have dropped by some $20 Billion.
     When I retired as a news executive 10 years ago the trend had begun. The good old days are gone. Some of the problem is self inflicted. News by flavor, a horrible contribution of the sexual predator Roger Ailes, has helped to undermine believability. Deregulation of the industry turning news operations into "profit centers" did plenty of long lasting damage. The change in US lifestyle and new technology antiquated some delivery systems-afternoon newspapers-even some morning papers-the tired and frequently silly format of television news and the nature of the content itself. 
     As we look at the new information landscape and understand how many people take their information from social media and learn how contrived that is, it all points to the continuing dumbing down of the population. Poorly informed, mis-informed, and manipulated consumers make terrible choices. Our present political reality is the proof of all of that. 
      Artificial reality, altered reality, are coming in on the heels of this age of "reality" politics and we are wading into deeper trouble.

something wonderful
    Playing at an art theater near you is the extraordinary and brilliant film Loving Vincent.  It is billed as the first fully painted film and it is a marvel to see, a masterpiece in its own right.
    Take a look at the trailer here. Many artists spent thousands of hours creating something unlike anything you've seen. It is a fascinating mystery story as well.

    See you down the trail.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


another kind of mansplaining
    Sexual politics is shifting and changing the human landscape as undeniably as the Mud Creek landslide has changed the Big Sur coast line.
    It has been healing and cathartic that victims have been able to surface old assaults and unburden themselves. It has also been a time of discussion and soul searching for men.
    A longtime friend and former colleague said it well in a post  that is stacked to the right of this piece. In Bob's You've got a Lot to Learn he offers a candid voice to what should be a growing male chorus. Some of our sex, not all of us, are jerks.
     From what I've read Ratner, Weinstein, Oreskes, Halperin and others are more than jerks, they are losers. Their behavior of assault or unwanted contact, public masturbation and such makes them scum among men. They are the true deplorables.  
     Real men, gentlemen as was once a description, do not force or coerce intimacy nor are they abusers of authority. 
     Full disclosure here; I am a romantic. I have enjoyed the sexual encounters in my life because they have been sensitive, sharing, mutually pleasurable, sensual in the best form of the word, kind, loving, focused and consuming. Sensual intimacy between two people can be as honest and clarifying as any thing we do. 
     My route to such an understanding may not be normal. My father, who was a DI and responsible for turning boys into soldiers also had to teach his charges about the venereal diseases and the sex business that awaited WWII inductees off base or in foreign climes. I got the benefit of that education, including films, as an elementary school lad. It was straightforward. My father also taught me to treat women with respect "especially when things get personal, and they will at your age."
     My hormones switched on like they do when you are a teen, but I knew I probably would not be a good lover (that was an appropriate word in that era) because while I had desire, I had no experience. At the time I was coming of age I worked as a copy boy and stringer for a metropolitan newspaper. The editor made a list of the "play for pay" houses in the city-the red light houses. You may see where this is going.
     My virginity was offered up to a professional who clearly understood my naiveté and innocence. Instead of being an awkward situation she made it a time of understanding, learning and initiation into adulthood. In time I also learned about the path of her life and that of others who found themselves earning a living as they did. That offered another course of learning, helpful to kid who wanted to be a journalist. It was a good course in life 101.
    As my dating years unfolded relationships could develop that hinged on more than sexual ardor. It helped eliminate the objectification of women as dates for sexual conquests. Back in our day, there was a lot of that. Probably still is. When relationships moved to physical intimacy there was mutual respect and sensitivity. 
   We do not all share values and this is indeed a diverse world, but in personal relationships as well as in intimacy, respect is a foundation. 
    I think civilization has done a great disservice to men and women by creating images and expectations, rituals and beliefs, hang ups and games, attitudes and values about sexual relationships. People have been damaged, clearly. And so has that most personal of interactions. People in tender intimacy, physical or emotional, is a beautiful thing. It's a shame it can be messed up. And it seems the biggest jerks are of my sex. Like my friend Bob, I too apologize.

good old times
     If you were around Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach or the LA South Bay area in the mid 70's you may recall Barabas and their lively sound.
     Yes that is David Shelton, Michael David Lassiter and David Root, minus the rhythm section. They were in Cambria for a reunion of old friends that span the decades and the country. Those 3 alone make a wonderful sound. Time has been kind to their talent.

a sign of our times
     Spotted in Morro Bay at the Estero Bay United Methodist Church.
     It is certainly clear the values at work here and that is a transition to King Deplorable.
     For the longest time I have thought donald trump is simply a loud mouth, loutish, ego freak and idiot. I suspect the Russians have him on a hook because he is in debt to them, getting in deeply when American banks cut him off after his many failures-facts that supporters never believed. I've thought it was just about money, which in his world is his idol. However now I'm beginning to wonder if he might not in fact have been in collusion with the Russians.
     trump's comment about American justice being "a joke, a laughing stock" does exactly what the national security and intelligence community have said the Russians want to do and that is undermine American's belief in their systems. Nothing does that more than when the president-illegitimate though he may be, bad mouths our bed rock virtues. It is one thing for citizen Dick or Jane to offer up such invective. It is damned near a crime for the president to say that. stooge, colluder or merely sexual predator who pulled the wool over a lot of eyes, trump is a menace. he belongs on the trash heap of history. If Weinstein, then why not trump?

    See you down the trail.