Wednesday, April 25, 2018

...divided we fall

fourth week of april
the east side of the Paso Robles appellation 

     a new vintage is being birthed
    a crab fest celebrates the new kids on the vine

learning from Aesop 

The Bundle of Sticks

A certain Father had a family of Sons, who were forever quarreling among themselves. No words he could say did the least good, so he cast about in his mind for some very striking example that should make them see that discord would lead them to misfortune.
One day when the quarreling had been much more violent than usual and each of the Sons was moping in a surly manner, he asked one of them to bring him a bundle of sticks. Then handing the bundle to each of his Sons in turn he told them to try to break it. But although each one tried his best, none was able to do so.
The Father then untied the bundle and gave the sticks to his Sons to break one by one. This they did very easily.
"My Sons," said the Father, "do you not see how certain it is that if you agree with each other and help each other, it will be impossible for your enemies to injure you? But if you are divided among yourselves, you will be no stronger than a single stick in that bundle."
In unity is strength.

The Bullocks and the Lion

A lion had been watching three Bullocks feeding in an open field. He had tried to attack them several times but they had kept together, and helped each to drive him off.
The Lion had little hope of eating them, for he was no match for three strong Bullocks with their sharp horns and hoofs. But he could not keep away from that field, for it is hard to resist watching a good meal, even when there is little chance of getting it.
Then one day the Bullocks had a quarrel, and when the hungry Lion came to look at them and lick his chops as he was accustomed to do, he found them in separate corners of the field, as far away from one another as they could get.
It was now an easy matter for the Lion to attack them one at a time, and this he proceeded to do with the greatest satisfaction and relish.

                         In unity is strength.

 a second source 
  "And if a kingdom be divided against itself that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, it cannot stand."
              Mark 3:24-25

the American original
  John Dickinson, one of the founding fathers, known as the "Penman of the Revolution" published the Liberty Song in July of 1768 in the Boston Gazette. It contained the lyrics "Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!"

There is your line. From sometime around 600 BCE, the time of the Aesop fables, to 30-70 AD when Mark was written and to 1768 is the perseveration of a message. That admonition may be more important to these United States now than at anytime since the Civil War.
Too many politicians and clamorers are anything but civil to those who do not share their mindset. Loud mouths and low information abound. Reason seems to be arrested. People do not leave their own information silo, they feed on only what they agree with. Rare are those who challenge themselves. Lies and junk get passed, even if  fabricated by Russians, spread by bots or spewed by loonies and extremists. Hate and deception are political currency.
 Wouldn't this be a good time pay heed to the wisdom?
What if House and Senate party leaders shared the reading of the fables?
And maybe, someone could read them to you know who.

See you down the trail.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Resilience

    It's a trick we never tire of. And it is a heady tonic; new life, rebirth, an élan vital for those deepest chambers of who we are. Spring reminds me.

      It makes us look, 

     creates intrigues,
  and broods. 

   Ben, my late friend, producer and television business partner joked that after college he wanted to open an office in Manhattan and sell words and lines. 
   Please allow me to offer you a new line....

  sight lines
   Here are some visual lines that deserve a well done!
     (some tricky window washing required here)

   Oh yea! Ice cream done this way.

   Nature or nurtured, spring brings hope. BTW, does anybody know what is the tree with these pods?

they deserve the best
    Among those to whom we can take such a question is a teacher. I'm one of those who think teachers are among the very most important people in our culture. I also think we should be ashamed at the economic dislocation between the crucial role players they are in shaping a future, and what we pay them. 
    Pay inequity is a disease in the body politic, a symbol of a social code or set of values that is wrong and dangerous. 
    I read a note to her mother by a teacher who has participated in the protests and demonstrations in Oklahoma. She spends her own money to help feed her students and to provide the support material they need to learn. She is grossly underpaid to begin with. They sacrificed further to take the message to the street and to the state government.
    I spent enough time reading city and county budgets, school board budgets, state budgets, federal budgets and all manner of analysis and accountability studies to know there is always a way to pay public servants more than what they are paid.
    In a philosophical finish I question whether any corporate ceo, cfo, coo, or board member is worth their salary, really! I'm more confident saying what they do is not more important than shaping the intellect of a child. The discrepancies between what we expect of teachers and what we pay them has to end, even if it means a radical restructuring of our current way of doing public business, which is obviously broken.
    As a post script-my resume includes being a president/ceo, an occupant of the corner office. CEO salaries are like pay of professional athletes. You might be able to make a "justification" given an organizations income but it's still absurdly inflated. That is never more true than compared to what we pay teachers, fire fighters, cops, health department workers, etc, etc. 

    See you down the trail. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

The "Rap" Back and In The Funk Zone

    There is a lot to like about Santa Barbara's funk zone, not the least of which is building art.
  A more extensive look follows, but first, the old goats respond. The Rap back--

**The Text below**

    Frequent readers may recall in the previous post I discussed how our old goats coffee dialectic/cafe debate, populated by a diverse group, was at least civil unlike the wide divergence almost every where else you look these days.
    None of the group seemed to take offense to my characterizations, however Ray, our resident historian responded with verse. BTW Ray has offered up other ditties showing that he could make a run at song writing as a twilight career. 
    I see the group would prefer to be known as the Illuminati instead of old goats. My only retort is a small edit. He noted that my court skills were unknown at Butler U (I was accepted there) but it should read Ball State U, from whence I graduated.  He's right though.  My hoops skills were left for Industrial, Church and Y leagues.
    Thanks Ray, and Illuminati pals. This is a keepsake the kids will find in my files.

the funk
    Santa Barbara's "Funk Zone," between the Pacific, the 101 and adjacent to the Amtrak station is a warren of cafes, wine rooms, galleries, restaurants, boutiques, bistros and plenty to look at. 
      An old warehouse and industrial district, enlivened.

     These 8 x 8 portraits are of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Frida Kahlo, Yauyoi Kusama, Diego Rivera, Ai Wei Wei. They were done by students and guest muralist David Flores. 

   And then near the Santa Barbara farmers market is another eye appealing bit of public art, on a private home.

     After living in the mid-west my one regret about California is the brevity of the green season. So, enjoy a couple more scenes from nearby.

The Text
Tom came out of Indiana
a sharpened pencil in his hand
vowing to excoriate
every villain in the land

Calif. welcomed him
with widely opened arms
recognizing instantly
those sophisticated charms

He's a Hoosier and a Scot
a journalist most refined
but ignore required readings
and your faults could be defined

At Butler U his court skills
were remarkably unknown
those letters of recruitment
Vanished in the Twilight Zone

you know he's quite the wordsmith
dedicated to the truth
but exhibit mental weakness
and he'll shred you skin and tooth-

He is a well known resident
of many halls of fame
but are those hefty entry fees
just another elitist game?

Tom's an author and a blogger
of national reputation
But I suspect Ms. Lana
supervised his maturation

He's a critic of our president
our "national benefactor"
insisting that insanity
might be a slight distractor

No more distant projects
might an editor seek to send
For we could not tolerate
the loss of such a friend.

Ray Maijala
The Illuminati
     See you down the trail.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Stake in the heart of Trump's America?

    Ever have a time when innocence and wonder seem more desirable than our dramas?
     the story of the old goats
high on caffeine 
     What these times have done to us-as told by some old old goats who drink coffee!
      For a decade they've gathered on the deck of a unique coffee shop and have seen a few of their number pass on or move away but they persist in an earnest endeavor to solve world problems. What have they achieved? They amuse or annoy tourists and regulars though sometimes visitors just can't help but jump in.
      In the last couple of years I've wondered if proprietors Michelle and Mike have added a blend of zeal and volume to their brew-because the conversations have amped up. It might also be the idiot stooge in the oval office. Frequent readers know my disposition, but there are other points of view and our coffee dialectic exercises and exorcises them every Monday and Friday.
     The core of this hardcore "cafe democracy" debating society is a former navy flyer and scion of a California family of wealth and cabinet level influence who is a lovable and loquacious pot stirrer. There is a former history teacher, football coach and athletic director of midwestern origin. He roots us in the narrative of historic fact. There is an inventor, patent holder, self made man of dignity and style who fled a Soviet take over of his eastern European home. He came to the US as a young lad with the shirt on his back, no English but a brilliant mind and the willingness to work and serve his new nation. He earned success. There is an entrepreneur, music industry veteran, raconteur with a passion for life and a  sense of humor. Recently moved away but occasionally returning for the verbal jousting is an author and retired editor of the Wall Street Journal. There is the beautiful tennis queen and artist who while she mostly listens, moderates our volume. And there is your's truly. 
      There are a couple of others who saunter in or out, but they are more like observers, except our Semper Fi, Sicilian pal by way of Brooklyn who's primary objective is to tout the Mets and poke Dodger fans in the eye. There is also the concert violinist, gourmet and gourmand with the rapier wit of Jackie Mason on steroids.
       While there have been jokes that we need to put these dialectics on Youtube, I'm sure the scene is played out across the country by people of a particular generation with a capacity to yack.
      So it breaks down that despite no one needs to reveal whom they voted for, there is a clear divide over this regime. A very spirited divide! Some of us think trump is not only unfit and unqualified but have come to suspect he may also be the face of evil.
      Some who announced they voted for his orangeness, believe he is being misunderstood, treated unfairly, but is doing a good job especially of shaking up Washington. They think the Mueller investigation is ill begotten and simply politics by the old guard trying to get rid of trump. They were Hilary haters though one voted for Obama. So, there you have the genesis of what can be two hour performances that surely compete with any high octane French cafe dialogue.
     We probably resemble most of America, our minds are made up, though we try to challenge each other with facts, history and truth-the kind that is real and the kind of "truth" that is tweeted by king liar or oozed by a Kelly Ann. 
      Hopefully we are still listening and willing to learn. While we argue across a divide, like the 60-40 split in America, we always reaffirm our fondness and friendship. That is important. I'm not so sure those last two elements are reflected in the larger debate beyond the bounds of our open air dialectic. The old goats and the tennis queen are divided, but we remain civil. Wish it were such for congress and the US electorate.

a threat to the democracy
      In a  word, Sinclair Broadcasting. They were a laughable, cheapskate and slimy operator of local stations back when I reported or worked as a news executive. But they've continued to buy stations and are now the largest local ownership group with some 190 stations that they hope to fashion into a network to "out fox, Fox news"-translated that is to go even further right and be more biased. 
     Outdoing the sinister designs of the late sexual predator and bloviator Roger Ailes is one sick idea. By now you've heard how "Commissar Sinclair" is forcing local news operations to carry propaganda and pro trump bilge. They made a lot of news by forcing local anchors to "sincerely" deliver a propaganda tome that even Pravda would be proud of. 
     It is stupid, makes a journalist's blood boil, violates good conscience and is truly dangerous. You can see how ludicrous and un American it is, by watching this less than two minute piece, that is a warning to America--"a threat to the democracy..."

      It's enough to make you want to scream---or go play like a kid and a cat.

       Here's to sweeter and simpler times, with plenty of room to play, and maybe just yell! But in a friendly way!

       See you down the trail.