Wednesday, January 24, 2018


    Balloons have lifted my spirit since I was a kid. They add cheer to anywhere, including an alley.
        Even the shadows are playful and teasing,
      and something to chase.

where a shadow haunts
Photo by Fabrice Coffrini Agency France-Presse
    The World Economic Summit has commenced again in Davos. 
    60 World leaders, countless corporate and business chieftains, academics and theoreticians gather each year to plumb the world's economy. This year there is more security than ever.
     Terror is a threat, in the form of armed zealots, but nature has done her part as well. A record 6 feet of snow has fallen. It is as though the planet's climate is demanding a place on the agenda.
Photo by Gian Ehrenzeller European Press Photo Agency
        There is also the growing terror of people dislocated by economics, war and disaster. There may have never been more refugees in history and more are likely. There may never have been a wider gap between the haves and the have-nots. The number of wealthy remains small-most of the rest of the world's population faces more struggle. A storm of another kind is brewing.
Photo by Fabrice Coffrini Agency France Presse

they wait for the rupture
    I attempt to avoid religion in these posts. A person's beliefs are their business, a most intimate and personal piece of being human. I think we should afford respect, but today I must speak.
     In the last couple of days two major news organizations have explored the support for donald trump by evangelical Christian groups, mostly right wing. There have been other pieces over the last year, but his recent profanity burst and the leak of his paying hush money to a porn star to be silent about their relationship prompted a new examination.
     They still back the vulgarian. That very support gives their brand of faith a black eye and a crushed credibility. 
     Trump is a liar, a swindler, a serial adulterer, an apparent racist, a sexual predator, a bully, worships money and is by most evidence stupid but conceited. All of that but the stupid makes him an ideal target for the evangelicals to capture- to change his heart, to convert him, to make him a better human being. But there is nothing in that to cause them to step away from the faith of Jesus to back  trump. They must have forgotten that Jesus was a radical rabbi who's rare display of anger was to turn over tables and toss out the swindlers. He spoke of eschewing all of the things that trump worships and does and how he lives and how he behaves.
    Can you imagine trump laying down his life for his followers, or living as a wandering vagrant, urging his followers to give what they have to less advantaged, or to decry violence, to be a peace maker, loving all, even those who are handicapped, or from Haiti, or Mexico, or Syria, etc, etc, etc.?
   So how do you justify going from a devotion to a Christ to a devotion to a trump? How? How in the hell do you do that? Ah, there is that!
      From my understanding of Jesus he would probably be the first to forgive trump and the first to try to bring him into the fold, but also the first to recognize the wrong or evil and perversion of the man's life and his devotion to himself. 
      Someone who purports to be a person with a genuine faith and who uses articles of that faith to support trump is, in my opinion, not to be trusted on matters of faith. Same for those who ignore trumps perversity of character.
      I knew Billy Graham and even worked with him and his senior staff over the course of a couple of years. I was leery of evangelists, but Graham was sincere and devoted to preaching. I came to a new understanding of Graham, his role and impact. Something that he wrote and spoke of is how he had been emotionally and spiritually swindled by Richard Nixon, with whom he had a close relationship. As someone pointed out recently he never got over how he was "snookered" by Nixon.  It would behoove his son Franklin and other evangelicals who somehow find a way to support the behavior and action of trump to learn the Billy Graham lesson. 
     To those who say they are evangelical Christians and who support trump-would you want to spend eternity with him? Not that you have anything to say about that.
     One year of him in the White House has been a kind of hell for the majority of US citizens and others around the globe. Try to save him if you wish, pray for him, but to take a pulpit or a public forum and endorse him or his actions makes you a phony and a fraud, just like trump. Your faith is more important than just another one of us mere mortals with feet of clay. To support trump or to ignore his perversity is to make a mockery of what you say you believe.
      And a reminder to me and everyone else, the founders were right with this idea of separation of church and state.
     And on that note, God bless you and God bless America, please! In fact, God bless this whole planet.

     See you down the trail.


Saturday, January 20, 2018


    For the second time, thousands of Californians on the central coast gathered in San Luis Obispo for the Womens March. Their sentiment echoed that of millions across the US.
    The first anniversary of trump's presidency and the majority  of Americans detest the man baby.
    The signs speak.

   Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo was jammed and crowded.

   Sentiment ran deep.

  For a little gal making her first political rally, it was a bit fatiguing. 
 See you down the trail.

Monday, January 15, 2018


shadow dance
    Just that time of day, the golden hour and the trees dance with their shadows.
     Wanted to start with something mellow, because a few graphs down we step into something deep.
America at its best
      The POST is one of those films that makes you wish everyone would take a couple of hours off to go see and then join into a national conversation.
       It is a beautiful and literate script by Josh Singer and Elizabeth Hannah and masterfully directed by the maestro, Steven Spielberg. They make it a great film, and so do Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks,  Matthew Rhys, Bob Odenkirk, Bradley Whitford, Tracy Letts, Carrie Coon, Bruce Greenwood as Robert McNamara, Sarah Paulson and in fact the entire cast. But what makes it important is the history, the constitutional, philosophical and political undercurrent and the decision of the Supreme Court. 
        We would be a worse nation if we did not know of the Pentagon Papers and learn how Presidents and a series of governments lied to us and then tried to hide behind national security. Worse too if the Supreme Court had not decided in favor of a free press and the right to publish.
       These issues, framed between the drama of Katherine Graham trying to manage in a man's world (another important storyline) and the battle between her as publisher and Editor Ben Bradlee, over the right and need to publish without interference, make for material that goes to the very heart and soul of this nation.
      Aside from being a great and entertaining film, it postures important questions for this very time in America. We swamp dive later. More immediately we tip toe along the fence line. 

about men and women
     Readers, please be gentle and think this through. If you don't, it may be  as Ed Murrow once said, "this just might do nobody any good."
       I subscribe to the notion of a "toxic masculinity" a variety of men behaving badly, very badly. It could be sexual aggression, manipulation, an exclusion of women, all of which have no place in civilized and decent social behavior.
       We have seen men fall because they possessed a toxic masculinity and made victims of women and other men. But we should remember not all masculinity is toxic and we must protect that fact. 
       Once a movement to redress grievances begins, pent up anger, injury and a desire to even the score can begin to affect our vision and shade more fine lines of distinction and even reason. There are indeed good men who possess and display a healthy masculinity. In fact they are allies in the #metoo, #timesup, human rights movements, as they should be. 
      It is my belief this needs to be understood- it important for men to begin to take ownership of how boys are taught and trained and how they learn what is proper and what is not. Good men need to teach and mentor boys. 
      It is a sick irony that some women who have been victimized work in an industry that helps explain why men behave badly. Television, Film, and music have profound impact on social mores and the adoption of masculine and feminine identities. 
      Violence that is so prevalent in forms of music, gaming, film and television also has a sexual component. 
       Once parents took it as a major responsibility but something has happened since those days. It's a challenge to find parents who even teach manners. Gone are the days when a majority of families taught their off spring to be ladies or gentlemen, to be courteous and respectful. Media is as dominant as parental guidance. 
       Yes we need to spend a lot of time as a culture figuring out the what and why for toxic masculinity and what can and should we do.
       But we should widen this discussion-and please hear me out. We should also address Explotive femininity as well. 
       Exploitive Femininity? Here's a notion-do you remember how you reacted when you saw Madonna's Like a Virgin video? I saw it in the newsroom on a pre-release. Some full disclosure here--I absolutely believe in artistic freedom, even to the point of making me, or anyone else uncomfortable. I am against any kind of censorship. I am an absolutist on the right to free speech. At the moment I saw the video I thought on the one hand, she was doing a good job of emoting sexuality and on the other, oh my gosh how is this going to shape the behavior of my daughters? That was a long time ago, tame by today's standards, and before dancing, body movement, style, lyrics became as explicit as they are.
        Any woman, for that matter anyone has the right to dress and express themselves as they wish without fear of being assaulted or violated. But- there are also consequences to every behavior.
      When little girls are taught to flaunt, tease, pose, act, pretend in behavior that is sensual or sexual, beyond their age or maturation, they are being trained in sexual exploitation. Four and five year olds being taught to move like  Beyonce, Lil Kim, Miley Cyrus, etc. etc. is twisted, and maybe even worse. How many kids are growing up wanting or pretending to be a singer who continues to visit their own genitalia? There are consequences to every behavior.
       Do you remember when strippers did their thing in bars and when cheer leaders acted more like gymnasts? I happen to think the human body is a beautiful thing, but it seems even professional dress is a lot more explicit and revealing. Who ever heard of side boob revelations? It's even a form of social media reporting. There is a time and place for everything. Again there are consequences.
      How many of you who have managed in an environment where there was a woman on staff who plied her wiles to woo, influence or try to manipulate you. I've attended  discussions where management techniques to stop and disarm the exploitation were on the table. I shut down those kind of advances, not so much because I was a paragon of virtue but because that kind of behavior was toxic, dangerous and could lead to serious repercussions for the manager and the company. Still there are people who use their sexuality as a tool. That too is Exploitive Femininity.
      I am not for a moment trying to dampen the reckoning that is underway and long over due, but I think our national conversation must be expansive, holistic and honest. All pieces of the sexual political puzzle need to be on the table.
     The point here is to suggest there is a lot about how boys and girls pick up cues as to how to be men and women, straight or gay, that needs examination and fixing. Now that we live in a world where trans, and in transition are identity groups, the conversation needs to be enlightened, intelligent and non judgmental.  It is complex and multi faceted.

        The work of artist Bryn Forbes symbolizes, for me the intricacies of the debate.
         His recent series A Light Behind Every Window explains the deeply byzantine and abstruse nature of sexual politics.
Frames from A Light Behind Every Window by Bryn Forbes

          It won't be an easy conversation, but it is necessary.
There is a lot to unpack. And, sadly, we have a sick and despicable role model marauding through our culture now and his supporters must come to accept guilt for his revolting and degrading behavior.
not worthy
     Have you seen the video of the idiot in chief blowing the lines of the National Anthem. The National Anthem for heavens sake!! He is supposed to be president and he doesn't know the national anthem?
     His comment-the shit hole statement-confirms his racism. I'm surprised by the reaction(?) of Mike Pence. Oh, you didn't see any either eh? Did he sell his soul to get on the ticket?
     It is bad enough the jerk is fouling the White House, worse that some 30% of American voters still support him. That too is toxic.

      See you down the trail.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018


     Left overs here, from meditations while face down on an acupuncture table. Nothing is as simple as it used to be.
     The needles were set, some were wired, the ethereally peaceful music tranquilized my inner savage and it all created a sense that my being was on an infundibuliform* journey to some place deep and profound. More than sleep, something aspiring to full out bliss. It's that elusive place where certain things in life can place you and where one can, pretend at least, to achieve a kind of clarity. So, here we go.

the O factor
    Oprah is an extraordinary person. Enormously talented she has created a cultural empire. Interviewer, host, actress, business executive, visionary and social force. She is brilliant in all of those roles and she may well be a very good person.
     She speaks with passion and those who share her views are moved and inspired and those who don't cannot ignore her. But no matter any of that, it doesn't mean she should run for President.
    Even if she could win, she should not run. I hear some of my liberal friends or Democrats beginning to groan, and maybe even taking me off their invitation lists. She should not run, because even if she is only a notch below sainthood, she is not qualified.
   Yes, she is smart, powerful, influential, and beloved but she has no experience in that special arena in America we call governance.
    The embarrassing and unfit present occupant of the White House is a case in point. There were voters, and there still are, who thought his so called business experience was enough. If that were true why does almost 70% of all US citizens disprove of him and the job he's done? Why do our allies worry about his lack of skill, intelligence and his loutish behavior?  
    I'm not beginning to say Oprah would behave like the idiot to whom I referred, but there is a world of difference between what you can do in private business and life and what it takes to be the "leader of the free world." (That position by the way is presently occupied by Angela Merkel-It used to be the American President).
    There was a phrase we once used-a Statesman-modified to contemporary vocabulary a Statesperson. It connoted something of quality, intelligence, and even integrity of action and purpose. To qualify for that moniker is what qualifies someone for the role of being the Chief Executive and Commander in Chief. You need to prove your mettle in the hard, hard world of political experience, decision making, earning and maintaining trust, understanding the thrusts of history, the forces of a world with millions of moving parts, intelligence, security, economics,and the common good. 
    Oprah, in my opinion, is an exemplary woman but she doesn't have what it takes to be President, nor does Dwayne Johnson, or Mark Cuban, or Mark Zuckerberg, or George Clooney or Kid Rock.
    If any of them are serious, then they should run for office, House, Senate or a Governorship, or see if they qualify for a  challenging diplomatic assignment. Then and only then should this nation consider their candidacies. 
     We may be sick of politics as normal, sick of those who have occupied the stage the last 20 years, we may not like the options for 2020, but reverting into another "cult of personality" candidate will only take us further down the rabbit hole. 
     We the voters need to demand change in the ways of the House and Senate and the influence of big money and the beltway bandits that former a President warned us about. Ike had no political experience, but his leadership as Supreme Commander in World War II was as hard a training ground as ever. We have failed to heed his warning. 
     We don't need personality, with big social media influence, we need those kind of integrity and old fashioned political practices-compromise, negotiation and especially experience with reality instead of ideology. We certainly don't need another entertainer in chief, even if the ratings and popularity would be a natural improvement. Change the system, not the channel. We need a real leader, not a star.

it's not good for all

    We were delighted with the recent rain that swept the California Central Coast. It gave Lana the impetus to get the fava bean bed planted. (Frequent readers may recall our ecstatic love of favas)

But that same rain was devastating just a couple of hours south of us,
photo by Mike Eliason Santa Barbara County Fire Department

  I can't count the number of times we have driven under this over pass on the 101 near Montecito.
 photo by Santa Barbara County Fire Dept.
 photo by Santa Barbara County Fire Dept.

   Our heart aches for those who endured the Thomas Fire and now suffer through mud slides, more devastation and loss of life.
photo by Kenneth Song, Santa Barbara News, via Reuters

      And so indeed life is messy and complicated and a series of one moment after another. When we are fortunate and the moment is good we can celebrate and appreciate and be grateful. We can also know somewhere, in their own moment others may be afflicted, suffering and longing for a better moment. 
      It is complicated being a human being.

      *infundibuliform=funnel shaped.

    See you down the trail.

Friday, January 5, 2018


     We are mindful of the weather misery being visited on so many places this winter, so as a momentary refuge we offer an image to warm you.
      Palm Springs in winter is a slice of heaven. We know the opposite. There were so many days when ice and snow crud slashed the view from my office windows, or when I bundled in extra layers and pulled on thermal boots to field an assignment that I would resort to looking at screen savers of California climes. For readers who find themselves needing a change of scenery, these are for you.
Photo courtesy of Marcos
        We wish you the best as you endure. Your summer scenes will return, in time.
      It was about this time of year when I wondered why pioneers and settlers pushing west didn't consider the assaults of winter back east, in the mid west, or in the Great Plains and decide to get the heck out of there as soon as spring arrived.

a tale of two women
      I try to avoid seeing Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy press secretary. I've watched decades of White House press briefers and she must be among the worst. Maybe she's smart, but it is not evident. Maybe she has class and a great personality, but again they are not in evidence. She's a horrible mouth piece and the fact she's working for who she does just lowers any skills she might possess and be hiding. 
      It happens I got a glimpse of one of her abusive sessions as I was about to take a stroll along Palm Springs' Walk of Fame. I guess I was grousing to myself about how far we have fallen when, serendipitously, I came upon a star, made poignant by a recent passing in Palm Springs.

what a difference
photo courtesy of
photo courtesy of
    I was 12 or 13 when I caught Keely Smith with Louis Prima on television. I was hooked. Rock was in its infancy and if we were tuned to the right radio station we could hear Buddy Holly, Ricky Nelson, the Everly Brothers, Duane Eddy, Elvis, Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, and a lot of other stuff that wasn't rock. Female singers were rare. Connie Francis had a hit or two, but she did not smoulder like Keely Smith.
    Prima's band, featuring Sam Butera was hot. A hybrid of sorts-jazz, R&B, big band swing and all with a New Orleans accent and that beautiful Cherokee Irish lass. Hybrid indeed, my introduction to jazz and the start of a young teen lust for Keely Smith.

    In the mental mumbling and rambling I do at the turn of the year, especially this year, that juxtaposition between Huckabee Sanders and the Keely Smith memory lane underscored how much of a chasm there is between how a young lad thought things would turn out and the absurdist reality of the world today, especially datelined Washington.

     So here's some therapy-take a stroll back, even to black and white television when the future looked good, and the present felt good and when it sounded great-and maybe even a little sultry. These are all short-as songs used to be.
Bet they'll make you smile.

Just A Gigolo 

and here's the oldest version of Old Black Magic
(might have been what I saw on tv)

      See you down the trail.