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Swami's view through car window

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Your nobody till somebody loves you.

It's all going to hell file


News out today from the Tiversa Inc. Group testifying at the House Government Oversight and Government Reform Committee that highly sensitive and classified information has been located on public P2P networks, both domestically and internationally.

This information includes the precise, current location of every nuclear missile silo in the United States, the location of our first lady's safe house, medical records of 24,000 patients in a Texas hospital and social security numbers of every master sergeant in the United States Army.

There are photos of witnesses in the Federal Witness Protection program, FBI surveillance photos of alleged mafia hit men and other critical information that one would probably not want to see disseminated.

Earlier this year, blueprints for our president's helicopter were found on a p2p site in Iran.
Tiversa scours peer to peer networks for sensitive information. The culprit for much of this dissemination are file swapping services such as Limewire and Bearshare.

I would remove Limewire from your computer. I did. The software that allows file sharing can be configured to also display all of your most sensitive documents and information. These programs are too powerful and insidious and I feel much more comfortable limiting my exposure.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits


China has announced that it is outlawing the practice of forcing internet addicts to undergo shock treatment.

***

Sarah Palin said in her resignation speech that "In honor of the american serviceman (the press should) quit making things up." Talk about wrapping yourself in the flag. Where is the connection between her and the military and what has the press made up? Samuel Johnson warned that Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. She plays the poor victim card to the end and her constituency laps it up.

***

I was listening to the Los Angeles sports radio station 570 the other day with hosts Steve Hartman and Petros P. and a caller called to take umbrage with the negativity and censure of Michael Vick. Vick ran a cruel dog fighting operation and went to jail. The caller was disturbed that people cared about animal cruelty while abortion was tolerated. Rather than swatting the caller away, for talking politics on a sports show, the hosts meekly submitted to the guy's rant and even appeared to condemn choice in this country. It seems like concern for whales or dogs or the environment creates a lot of rage in the pro life movement, where all sympathy is reserved for unborn humans.

***

I leave for Albuquerque and Santa Fe next week. Couple of shows. All of the power locks have stopped working on the van. My Chrysler dealership went out of business. I took the battery cable off and the locks worked again for a while but then stopped. My mechanic says that my software has to be rebooted and they want a hundred bucks at the dealer. I am going to rough it like our hardy ancestors and open my doors manually. Soon cars will have a wifi port for software updates. Unless they have them already. I think the car of the future should have a skin that operates like a computer screen so that we can give each other little messages about our driving manners. And a roof mounted rocket. But you can only vaporize two opponents a year. You get a quota. Either Harlan Ellison or Roger Zelazny wrote a great short story once about road warfare. Can't remember which of them.

***

According to a new study, texting while trucking gives you 23 times the danger charted by normal distractions in your rig like nose picking, sexual stimulation or listening to right wing talk radio. Be careful!

***

Three more posts to go until one thousand and I take my extended vacation from the blog. My wife doesn't think I can stop writing. We will see. I want to write a few short stories and concentrate on making a living for a while. I really appreciate all of the support I have gotten from all of you casual and rabid readers alike and hope that we can meet again, in cyberspace or otherwise. Thank you for making this such a fun experience for me. Special thanks to commenters CR, NYSTAN, MMWB, Vern, Sanoguy, KBG, Island Guy, Barbara, Shawn, Wave Man, Grumpy and Millard. And to all my faithful readers who have enjoyed the blog. Especially want to thank my conservative readership. Those that disagree with me. By and large, you folks write better than the liberals.

Monday, July 27, 2009

We'll always have Fallbrook

Grand Conspiracy



You have to take your hat off to the evil, that is liberalism. Those craven souls that would work with Satan himself to subvert America's wholesome goodness.

These perfidious democrats apparently salted an ad in the Honolulu Advertiser on August 13, 1961 proclaiming the birth of the future president, Barack Obama. I don't know how they brought baby Barack from Africa in such quick time but those people are liable to do anything, as you know. Their ability to predict future events with such precision is just another example of why they need to be stopped. At all costs. Of course, they may have just dummied up the old paper in a "wag the dog" type undertaking.  He who controls the digital domain controls history.

Kudos to Michelle Bachmann for exposing the Democrat's deceit today on Capitol Hill.

The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.
John Philpot Curran

North Country Fair

Joni and Johnny

Smarmy Post #637

One of the unfortunate things a person realizes after we have put a few miles on our treads is that being a celebrity does not mean you are necessarily either a smart or a nice person.

It is a good bet that the musician that you are tapping your feet to in the car was the same band dweeb with the bad acne and the braces in high school that everyone generally detested. Having chops doesn't necessarily mean that you have wisdom or emotional breadth.

We worship celebrity in our culture; witness the inordinate amount of attention paid to Michael Jackson's doctor or Madonna's adoption drama. Even the authorities regularly get caught up in the hero worship. You think they provide the same amount of investigation when something happens to a poor nameless schmuck?

The sixties troubadours were given almost mythical, mystical status, and the genuflection was even more potent, because they were pedaling some hackneyed version of Aquarius. Didn't quite work out too well, did it? But these guys could deliver some of that sweet smoke...er couldn't they?

I have always maintained that the worst thing that can happen to you is to meet your heroes. I have met some of my artistic influences and the experiences, with one exception, were largely deflating. People get to be real expert at presenting a shiny public face. But you get up close and it often turns out to be paper thin.

I was listening to an interview with Steven Stills on Sirius Radio this morning and here's a case in point. Now Stills is a legendary f*ck up, his freebase struggles, his crawling around hotel lobbies naked chasing invisible cockroaches, his general wackiness are all well documented. But an amazing, gifted, singular stylist who had one of the most iconic styles and voices of his generation. Read Robert Greenfield's Bill Graham biography and the whole band are pretty much painted as petulant, self righteous assholes. Great players though, I will give you that.

The question I always have to ask myself about drunkards and addicts is "are they screwed up because the are using and drinking" or "are they using and drinking because they are screwed up?" It's a chicken and the egg conundrum but I tend to favor the latter explanation.

Anyway I guess the band is doing covers now and Stills is doing a version of North Country Fair, the song Dylan made famous. (Pete Townshend does a great version as well.) The interviewer made reference to Johnny Cash's singing of the song with Dylan and Stills said that he purposefully never listened to other people's versions and had never heard it. But in this case, Cash was singing with Dylan on the original track on Nashville Skyline. Could he really be so thick as to have never heard the song on my favorite Dylan album aside from Blood on the Tracks?

To think this guy almost copped Mike Nesmith's spot in the Monkees.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

bobby z

Bank of Americrud

Bankers - pillars of society who are going to hell if there is a God and He has been accurately quoted.
John Ralston Saul

I had an interesting go around with Bank of America this week. They took over Countrywide last year, a company I had a longtime mortgage and equity line with. Never had a single problem in many years.

Well I get a call last month that I am past due with B of A. "Well, that's impossible," I flusteredly exclaimed. I went to my check stubs and read off the date and amount the check was written. It turns out that either I had written 31 cents instead of 51 cents or they couldn't read my writing but that in any case, we were now 20 cents off.

With great perturbation, I asked if we could just carry the amount over until the next month and the woman said no. I ended up doing a check by phone, which I am sure cost more money, for the twenty cent delinquency. Major scofflaw. She assured me that there would be no past due fees and I forgot about it.

I get my bill for this month and they have dinged me twice for $26.00 per past due for a grand total of $52.14 for the twenty cents in arrears. I hit the roof and called them, called them for a whole day in fact since their computer was down. When I finally got to a live person, she denied that they were waiving the bills and said that they merely said that they wouldn't report me to a credit agency.

I blew up and the woman eventually caved and said she would grant me a one time waiver, not to try to short them again, etc.. But it definitely gives me pause about continuing my relationship with them, and I do my personal banking with them as well. Have we lost all common sense?

Bastards.



The history of the last century shows, as we shall see later, that the advice given to governments by bankers, like the advice they gave to industrialists, was consistently good for bankers, but was often disastrous for governments, businessmen, and the people generally.

Carroll Quigley

Cult Classics


When I tell people that I don't have a television, I invariably hear some gobbledygook like I only watch the history channel or CSPAN. I will be frank with you, I'm so dumbed down that if I did have one, I would be the bleary eyed guy who comes to work all tired out after the weekend Pettycoat Junction marathon or who has memorized every line of dialogue from Fireball XL5. I'm decidedly lowbrow.

I found this clip from Liquid Sky, one of my favorite early 80's cult movies, which unfortunately is not available on Netflix. Some of my other favorite movies include Vanishing Point, Repo Man, O Lucky Man, Legs Diamond, 8 million ways to die, Hudsucker Proxy, The Warriors, Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Chinese Ghost Story, The Harder They Come, The Man who would be King, Z and my all time favorite movie, One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest.

Love Zorro and all the samurai movies and pirate movies and mobster movies. Love Lon Chaney. Never could understand Fellini or Bergman or the arty stuff and my little brother Buzz would have to translate what was going on for me. He would be laughing hysterically and I would be like what the hell's going on? We had an old spanish revival theater in Encinitas that I think might have been owned by Mary Pickford called the La Paloma. At one time it had couches instead of chairs and you could catch the late night fare lying down and occasionally snoozing. You could get a Pink Floyd at Pompeii - Bunuel double feature and zone into the stratos. Ah, misspent youth!

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's a family affair.

Feelin' Allright


I have been sort of following the recent debate on national health care. I think that we need to move towards that option. I read the WHO report the other day that America ranked around 37th amongst developed countries (sandwiched in between Costa Rica and Slovenia) in regards to the quality of it's health care. (At least we outrank Slovenia.) Approximately 48 million Americans are currently without any form of health insurance and only have access to healthcare through the hospital emergency room.

Ipsos has a new, July 21st poll out that measures the differing attitudes of Americans and Canadians regarding the health care that they are receiving in their respective countries. According to the poll takers, Only half of U.S. adults (49%) agree that they currently have access to all of the healthcare services they need without it costing them more than they can afford. In contrast, two thirds of Canadian adults (65%) feel this way.

When I was visiting my brother in Toronto two years ago, I queried many of the people that I met and they all expressed universal happiness with their health care system. Pretty much to a person. This idea promulgated by the AMA that Canadians are unhappy is unfounded in my experience. My sister in law Julia is a long time RN and has worked in both systems and favors the Canadian.

In addition, according to the poll only 37% of those in the U.S. with a household income of less than $50,000 say they have access to and can afford all the healthcare services they need, compared with 60% of those who have a higher income level. The spread in Canada is much smaller - 61% of those with a household income of less than $55,000 U.S. report having access to and being able to afford all the healthcare services they need vs. 70% among those who are more affluent.

An earlier Ipsos poll from July 16th shows that a slim majority (52%) of Americans favor a public option. 60% say their would be no diminution in the quality of care with a public system.

I am not a Doctor - I only play one on the radio. But I have been a too frequent patient. I was lucky enough to get insurance two weeks before a heart murmur was discovered two years ago. I would be totally devastated right now if I had to shoulder the $135,000.00 cost of the initial surgery.

Now you bad ass, free market, libertarian types would probably want to know what business you have subsidizing the costs of my healthcare. I feel the same way when my property taxes are used to educate your kids, since you deigned to breed them. Or every time a cockamamie politician (from either party) pushes through a weapons program that the Pentagon doesn't want or need to bring jobs to their district. Or we get another 300 billion dollar defense overrun. Or you have to macho out and start a useless war. Or paying for abstinence training. Or the ton of other crap that we spend money on, like bailouts to the large banks so that they can gobble up the little banks. It''s the kind of sacrifice that we make for our fellow Americans.

Healthcare is what civilized countries provide their citizens. We just aren't there yet.

Friday Foibles

Cam Wilde called me this morning. Cam is one of the funniest people I have ever met and has been my cohort in some of the most insane hijinx I have been involved in in the antiques business.

Its a wonder we haven't been thrown out of shows, institutionalized or put in jail for some of our adolescent behavior. Who can forget the tag team with the fart machine at Hillsborough or the stinky cheese incident or the moldy sandwich caper?

The antique business was more fun in the old days when we started our day off with shots at the bar at Whispers in San Carlos.

Cam has matured somewhat and I think better off since he decided to forsake the young boys. (JOKE) Cam now lives with Birgit, a svelte german woman which is kind of strange since he has always favored big chubby girls. He is one of the few caucasians in Salinas and a well known figure at Jack's, The Penny and other similar dives. Even he will admit that life has improved since they removed the court authorized ankle bracelet.

Cam said that he went into AAA the other day and told the women behind the desk that he was there for the twelve step meeting. She looked at him quizzically as he stumbled in front of her and then he looked up and said "Oh shoot, this is Triple A, my bad - in that case give me some car insurance and a map of Michigan."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

By Jove - Gustav Holst - Jupiter


Interesting week in the cosmos. The largest planet in our solar system gets hit by a comet or an ice chunk and receives a divot the size of earth or the Pacific Ocean, depending on who you believe.

You are just walking down the street minding your own business and you look up in the sky and Whammo, no more worries about the kid's tuition or the fading 401k. Life is so tenuous and can disappear in the wink of an eye. If a planet gets vaporized in the forest and no one hears it, well, you know...

The scale of the cosmos is incomprehensible. And we are in orbit around a relatively small sun. The average distance from the Sun to the Earth is 1,496*10¹¹m. Thats 149 million kilometers or 92.58 million miles. Jupiter's diameter at the equator is about 88,700 miles (142,700 kilometers), which is more than 11 times the diameter of Earth. It would take 1,000 earths to fill up Jupiter. Jupiter is about 391 million miles from earth at it's closest approach. As they said when I was a kid in Texas, that's a fur piece.


One of the favorite books of my youth was Eames Powers of 10. Take a journey from outer space to the proton with this modern day link.

An amateur astronomer in Australia, Anthony Wesley, noticed the collision near the south pole of Jupiter last thursday. Like the bruise you would find on an apple that has fallen off your counter. Let's hope nobody got hurt.

The human dream doesn't mean shit to a tree.
Eskimo Blue Day - Jefferson Airplane


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Everybody out of the gene pool


I have been following the scuttlebutt surrounding the Huntingdon Valley Swim Club controversy with some interest. I am sure that you have heard the basic story. Sixty five mostly black inner city youths were tossed out of the suburban Philadelphia club for changing the "complexion" of the club. The money that they had paid the club prior to their visit was refunded.

The club has denied racial motives. Taking them at their word, I still find some of the opinions voiced both in the Philadelphia newspapers and online somewhat salient and thought provoking and I reprint a few of them here. I think they are a more accurate reflection on the state of race relations in this country than the pundits and talking heads.

Rated 4.0 out of 5.0 destroying a community‎ - bob‎ - Jul 13, 2009

to all the people that are criticizing the club or it's members,can you really blame them, just take a look at sections of the city of philadelphia that black people have ruined.kensington,juiniata,frankford and now a lot of parts of mayfair.when you turn on the news what it's blacks that are responsible for crimes,what was the color of skin that murdered all of those police officers in the past few years.who makes up a great majority of the prison population?. i know they've ruined the block that i have lived on for over 30 years,by not taking care of there houses.one of them puts sheets & newspapers on there windows for a house they been in for years now & even one of the family has committed a murder.it's a shame the club didn't go about banning them right from the beginning.ALETHA WRIGHT, needs to look at what blacks do to some communities,or does she already know & she wants to ruin another one.

Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 Listen to BOTH sides PLEASE‎ - Cindy‎ - Jul 10, 2009

I'ma mother of four at this swim club and have to defend our club. African American children are bigger and louder and can be very dangerous IF something were to go wrong. African American children are also more boisterous and this can be frightening to Caucasian children. Is this so hard to understand? I'm scared for my children. What if something were to go wrong? Could one or two chaperones really stop an attack on one of my children? It's the potential SEVERITY that African American children pose rather than racism. This is not the 1950's. There is no racism anymore. Most of if not all the parents were not even born then! Also, we even have an African American president! This is really an attack on conservative values like civilty and politeness. The African American children were just too noisy, loud and borderline obnoxious.

Rated 3.0 out of 5.0 All the races should "own"...‎ - Jake‎ - Jul 12, 2009

I am NOT IN ANY WAY JUSTIFYING the attitudes of any club members - or anyone for that matter - who object to african americans purely on the basis of skin color. But I think we all have to "own" that small percentage of the bigotry that has a real basis. Whatever race you are. You know the stereotype that african americans are loud? Well I never believed it but then a couple african american families moved on to my block. One right next door. This one family, who was initially embraced by the neighborhood, has had the LOUDEST parties during all the warm weather months, disturbing even people blocks away for several years now. A number of neighbors have asked them to turn down the music, ask guests to be more quiet and observe an "end time" but nothing has worked. So at this point, the whites, Asians and Hispanics in the neighborhood have concluded that this family is - at best - very inconsiderate - and at worst doesn't care about being good neighbors to the rest of us. Frankly, it even feels like maybe the family dislikes us. Is the family racist? Are the rest of the neighbors racist? I don't think so. African American kids also have the reputation of being the most unruly at school. If the camp kids were acting wild - and I don't know that they were; just saying IF they were - is it so surprising that some club members, who are used to things being very quiet at their swim club, freaked out? Does that mean they're racists? Racism is judging all people of a race by the worst behavior of a few. Objecting to actual bad behavior - like my neighbors and their loud parties - is not racism. I think we have yet to find out which this actually is. By the way, I'm white and there are plenty of white people I wouldn't want to share a swim club with - because they're inconsiderate and the kids are very rough and I would worry about my kids getting hurt. There just are cultural differences, even within races, in how kids grow up and how they behave. So the issue is not race but behavior.

Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 What part of "private" don'...‎ - Patrick‎ - Jul 10, 2009

Get a grip liberals and find something better to be upset about, like how Cap N Tax and Obamacare is going down in flames. If this were black people turning away whites there would be no story at all....please remember this is a private entity and can do whatever they please. Don't like it, find another pool..its that simple.

Rated 1.0 out of 5.0 I worked here‎ - Ken‎ - Jul 10, 2009

I worked here for about a month and I really liked the people and the place was always clean and organized, but I can tell you that the surrounding community is generally racist. The management of the club was surely under pressure from the majority of their customers, and no, I'm not excusing them at all. This is not uncommon is this particular community... you will find the same thing in local bars and stores. African Americans followed, neglected or otherwise harassed until they leave). I wish I could give them a higher rating, but there's no excuse for racism in these supposedly enlightened times.

Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 Way to go swim club‎ - John‎ - Jul 9, 2009
Way to go swim club. Let Them swim in there own back yard Don`t let the media tell you what to do.‎

Rated 1.0 out of 5.0 No recommendations. Poor Customer Service‎ - p0lo9‎ - Jul 10, 2009

Some of white's kids father gave a Nazi salute and some of them said go back to the south. This offended me and to my entire race. And I thought things would improve in 2009 and we wouldn't have these problems but I was clearly wrong. And the way the kids' parents LOOK at us as if we did something wrong. I meant we only wanted to go for a swim. Now the website is down. Its clearly that they are going to change some photos in the website to MAKE IT ETHNIC DIVERSE instead of only having white people having fun in the pool.

Rated 4.0 out of 5.0 Hasn't society learned, yet?‎ - Charlie‎ - Jul 10, 2009

I am so tired of hearing racism issues! Give the pool a chance to explain. For everyone's informaton - the "whites" are the minority now - hello! Right away everyone is ready to sue! I am a professional and work with many ethnic backgrounds. In case anyone did not notice, there is a war going on where many of our US soldiers are being killed every day, the flu pandemic, the economy where people are losing their houses - THERE ARE BIGGER FISH TO FRY!!!!! PS If everyone would just reflect back to Sept. 11 - do you remember the unity developed that day? Come on people - Stop and think! PS On one other note, let me propose this question - - It is ok to have an African American College - right? No one ever said that is discrimminating to other ethnic backgrounds. Right or wrong? God Bless the USA

Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 IM SO SICK OF THIS STORY‎ - gusa‎ - Jul 13, 2009

A pool club has the ability to choose who can and cannot swim in there club. Its simple! Plus all you hear in this story are "I heard a lady say..." or "I saw....." there is no cold hard facts in this. And there all coming from the people incorporated with the camp. Also if I brought my camp of all white kids to a black pool and got treated the same way as this camp, yeah i'd be a little irritated, but not so pissed to go call all the media and protest for days!!! LET IT GO and MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE I believe the club made a perfectly legal move... Im still waiting for the NAACP or Sharpton to get involved. If you want racism to end then how is keeping this story alive going to do to stop it?????

Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 Racism????‎ - Christina‎ - Jul 10, 2009

It's a private club they can do what they want. I didn't see anybody give a darn when 19 whites and 1 hispanic were denied job promotions because they WEREN'T black. Google New Haven Connecticut Fire Department, and Racist Sotomayor's ruling. Black people need to shut the hell up about all this racism crap, they are the biggest racists of them all!

Posted by spyfreak 10:46 AM, 07/21/2009 ...black kids in this country are not the only ones that have financial difficulties or live in poor neighborhoods. Every time something goes wrong or someone that is black gets offended the race card is used. I for one am sick of it. This country needs to quit catering to these situations because every generation of this race will continue to expect hand outs and continue to use the race card every time things don't go their way. If the tables had been turned and this group was not all black and had mostly white kids and had been denied access the country would have said oh well deal with it. I am sick of the double standard. I am sick of affirmative action I mean we have a black president for goodness sake. You can all think what you want but you don't see a National Association for the Advancement of White People or you don't see United White College Fund or any colleges that are strictly for white people. The rest of the country has had to conform to black people and accept all the things that they have. I think it is about time they start conforming to the rest of us for a change. Every time someone hurts their feelings or upsets them they use the race card. We are in 2009 not 1809. You have got a black man in the white house so what more do you want. Quit catering to them and maybe for a change they won't be standing in line for hand outs at your local food stamp office. Make them stand on their own two feet like the rest of this country.

Posted by Comrade Xi back from reeducation 07:34 AM, 07/21/2009
ALLEGE racism, go to Disneyworld. Jackpot! Another generation of race opportunists is Confirmed.

Something tells me that America still has some work to do. In the words of Rodney King, can't we all just get along? Apparently not.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sam Cooke

Davey and Goliath




Davey and Goliath were a 1960's television stop animation duo produced by the Lutheran Church. Don't ask me which synod. Note the early Mountain Dew product placement. They were created by Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby. At one time they were seen in over 90% of the homes in America. Each episode helped indoctrinate America's youth to the wonders of god's great plan for us.

The show ran into troubles when Goliath was hit by a car while chasing an errant ball Davey had thrown into the street. Production stopped while the canine was in a long and intensive rehabilitation since the producers could not find another talking dog to use as a stand in.

Davey, wracked by guilt, fell into a lifelong battle with drugs and depression. He is currently living in an undisclosed location in the United States and reportedly planning his triumphant return to the world stage. For once, Goliath would offer no comment, but his publicist released this statement: 


Goliath only wants the best for Davey but has no plans to join him in any revival of the show. He is frankly just sick of the constant preaching. At his age all he wants to do is piss on the carpet, chase a few cats and get an occasional tummy rub. Please respect his anonymity and desire for privacy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Religion Blog

If I was a casual reader of this blog, I think I would come away with the impression that I am anti christian. This would not be accurate. I abhor all organized religion. The idea that we should all adopt a similar belief system or rely on a transcendent all powerful deity seems a bit odd to me.

And the fact that most people end up in the same church as their parents always struck me as bizarre as well. Another strange learned behavior and a heavenly construct to blame/praise according to the random wheel of time. My more scientific side tells me that adopting a belief system because my parents had the same one might not be such a good idea.

If I have miscalculated and there is an all powerful being who is watching my every move and recording it in the book of life, I will stand there and take my lumps. I am sure that I will have a lot of familiar company. But it will take a lot of explaining from the man upstairs when he reveals the master plan behind Dachau and the Killing Fields.

The Jewish tribe have to be the original neurotics. Ten Commandments, try 653. You fart off key, there's a new fire in hell. God wants you to smite all the males in the next village, no problem. We won't ask questions, we will obey. Sounds reasonable. Jehovah assured us that the heathens had it coming.

The smart guys can see the perils of trichinosis and out of season shellfish, so they simply scare the hell out of the people with an angry deity. Early crowd control perfected by the Hebrews.

Occasionally, some one will question one of my tenets and say, "jews don't believe that" or something like that. Well excuse me if I run with my own playbook. It is perilous to let other's do your thinking for you. You have a brain, why not try using it?

The Muslims, now they practice a beautiful creed to be sure, if you aren't with them, you are fair game for a suicide bomb or maybe to lose a hand - Allah will sort it out when you get to the little island with the virgins. And it is illegal in practically all muslim lands to stop believing in Islam. That must really suck. And we will kill you if we don't like your particular flavor of Islam. As I have said before, say what you want about America, the baptists haven't taken up arms against the methodists lately.

The Hindu have their own religious peccadillos, a caste system that institutionalizes the worst racism imaginable and seals it up with a pretty sandalwood incense stick. If you aint a brahmin the scenery never changes much.

I used to think the Buddhists were the really cool religion until I heard about them flaying the skin off their live enemies and seizing virgins to pour bronze over to make pretty statuary in Tibet. Read some particularly gruesome early 19th century accounts.

Who can forget the Catholics and the auto de fe in the Spanish Inquisition. Or Martin Luther and his fabulous book written in 1543 called "The Jews and their lies." The pogroms in certain parts of Poland and Ukraine that happened after the war.

I can't really go after the Unitarians too strongly because it's more of a wine and cheese group than an actual religion and most of them don't really believe in that higher power business.

Religion. A convenient escape for the weak minded. Everything past the golden rule is just window dressing. There has been a hubbub the last several years about America being a Christian nation or not. I'll give it to you. We are. We are the most puritanical bunch of calvinist hypocrites the world has ever known. And a laughing stock to much of the civilized world. The dominant religion is forced down all of our citizenry's collective throats. In Texas there is a battle to teach about the Ark and the Garden alongside that fossil business. God forbid that you don't buy the bible thing.

Religion does seem to be a swell way to amass a great deal of real estate. Travel to Boston and see how much is owned by the Christian Scientists courtesy of Mary Baker Eddy. Ditto Brigham Young and the Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake. (Who have spent a fortune on brick) Or the Vatican. The breakaway Anglicans and the Episcopalians are embroiled in a huge real estate tug of war right now.

Lately it has become fashionable for churches to buy spas and resorts for their flocks. Calvary owns the old Murrietta Hot Springs, the Scientologists own Gilman Hot Springs. Everyone else gets excluded. It's tough at Murrietta because its built next to an old synagogue and predominately jewish trailer park for the elderly that are no longer welcome.

The Moonies own their own newspaper, the Washington Times. Interesting tact.

Religion also gives you a convenient tax exempt status to start backing political candidates of your stripe and credo. The best part about church and religion is it is one of the few opportunities for people to get together to sing in our culture.

Now as I have said before, I don't care who you pray to, you can genuflect to the Trix rabbit for all I care. What bothers me is a certain self righteous attitude. What's the christian saying - Love the sinner, hate the sin? This get out of hell free card apparently gives one carte blanche to ignore all earthly ethical constraints and responsibilities. Mark Sanford can diddle around with Maria and be so smugly assured that he is covered by Jesus lifetime redemptive coverage policy. He barely takes a breath before he starts plotting his return to the reins of power. Ditto Swaggart and Coulson and Bakker and Ensign and Clinton and Oral Jr.and Tony Alamo and all of the other megalomaniacs that think they can walk on water. Not perfect, just forgiven, why not try to behave a little better in the here and now?

I think that a similar mindset creates the underlying narrative for the abortion debate. We who have been blessed by god's hand obviously care more about humanity than you heathens. We who have faith and dominion over all the living creatures know by said faith that god will provide all that we ask for - even if we are polluting the planet, running out of water and killing all the other species off.

It must be nice to be so damn sure.

Monday Drive By.

St. Jude - Patron Saint of lost causes.

It is blisteringly hot in Fallbrook. I escaped the searing heat yesterday by jumping into a swimming pool of some friends who had driven to Los Angeles.  Even the pool water was too warm so I left semi miserable.

I was all set to go jump in the ocean today but realized that I didn't have enough energy to try to drive to the coast and back and I wanted to spend more quality time with my dog. I went to the library and checked out the movie Giant and a collection of Updike short stories called Licks of Love. Short stories are safe and noncommittal, if one is terrible you can just move forward to the next.

I am plopped down on the couch right now with the a.c. blasting. Dog isn't too interested in our relationship at the moment either.

Vern says that his wife Jaz thought my comments about the suicide in the Grand Canyon were insensitive, mean spirited and lacked basic civility. All true. She wondered why his friends were all so nasty...

Vern also sent something along that showed that the astronauts were now drinking their own recycled urine.  Thanks, I'll stick with the Tang. But cheers.

A full 6% of the American population think that the moon landings were staged and never occurred.  Possibly created at a big movie set in Utah. Who are these people and would it be appropriate to ask them to wear some small identifying pin on their lapels?

Speaking of Utah, a Federal Board rules today that oil and gas drilling could go on in some of my favorite pristine areas bordering national monuments including Golden Spike. An area filled with rich archaeological ruins and artifacts. Damn.

The bank that gave me the loan on my building several years ago was taken over by the FDIC the other day.  This is painful to me and to many of my friends who lost a lot of money on their stock. I went to pay my mortgage today at the old Temecula Valley Bank and the FDIC was there as were people removing the signs and taking pictures of everything in the branch for inventory purposes.  It took a while to even figure out who to write the check to.  Bank employees managed to keep a stiff upper lip.  I appreciate everything they did for me on my loan, the one good one in the portfolio, perhaps. Thank you, TVB!

Of course if business continues to suck and all of this economic heartache we are mired in merely the precursor to the coming huge seismic event, I am planning to get a broom stick and pack my belongings in a red bandana and run off to join the circus. Wave at me on the road and mutter about how you knew me when.

Good article by the brilliant L. Gordon Crovitz in the Journal today about how the internet has made it open season on stealing other's intellectual property.  I catch my own copywrited photography flittering around the globe a lot these days thanks to Google and have been an occasional thief myself.


Read an article today that an engineer's texting might have been the culprit in the rail crash the other day in NYC and was definitely involved in two other fatal mishaps. Also read a warning about texting while driving, something I have shamefully done but have tried to curtail.  These infernal crackberries and other communication devices are insidious. I find myself constantly checking the red light on the device to see if I have an incoming email. There will definitely be a strong urge to unplug soon.  No television for 19 years, I can forgo instant communication. I am also getting into the habit of doing my own spell check correction instead of relying on a word processor so my spelling skills don't go the way of my late mathematical computation ability.

I had a very famous and successful novelist in the store last week who shall go nameless. I respect her very much even though I don't really read her.  We had a nice little conversation about the books of our youth and the finer points of Thornton Wilder and Salinger.  I made the mistake of telling her that I used to write for a couple magazines but that I now blogged. "I don't do blogs!" she commented when I suggested she have a look. I shrunk down into my pre adolescent three foot trunk and started sucking my thumb while nervous beads of sweat pooled across my forehead. I don't blame her. 

My friend  Donald from Brooklyn paid an ultimate compliment the other day and said he was surprised that people weren't blogging about my blog. I have had a few national hits but there is so much stuff out there and people don't really have time to read anymore, except my hard core base. That's why I am going to the mattress rooms to recharge and regroup. If I had game I would be writing for Harper's, Atlantic or the New Yorker and would know what sesquipedalian meant. Or be the embodiment of same.

But I don't send the blog out nearly as much as I used to.  If you like it, bookmark it and check it out at your convenience. But I feel like an invasive pest. A mean spirited one at that. So if you want to read it, it's there.  For the time being.

Robert Pete Williams



I heard a haunting cut from this man on my pandora station Woodie and Leadbelly the other day. I can't find (or even remember the name of) the recording that I heard but it was wonderful. I admit to never having heard of him before. Guitar players have to watch the second clip - absolutely extraordinary blues technique, great walkdowns, a primer on how it should be done.

From Wikipedia: Robert Pete Williams (March 14, 1914 – December 31, 1980) was an American Louisiana blues musician, based in Louisiana. His music characteristically employs unconventional blues tunings and structures, and his songs are often about the time he served in prison. His song "I've Grown So Ugly" has been covered by Captain Beefheart, on his album Safe as Milk (1967), and by The Black Keys, on Rubber Factory (2004).

Williams was born in Zachary, Louisiana to sharecropping parents, and lived around the Baton Rouge area throughout his life. He was discovered in Angola prison, by ethnomusicologists Dr Harry Oster and Richard Allen, where he was serving a life sentence for shooting a man dead in a local club in 1956, an act which he claimed was in self-defense. Oster and Allen recorded Williams performing several of his songs about life in prison and pleaded for him to be pardoned. The pardon was partially granted in 1959, when Williams was released, although he could not leave Louisiana until he received a full pardon in 1964. By this time, Williams' music had achieved some favorable word-of-mouth reviews, and he played his first concert outside Louisiana at that year's Newport Folk Festival.

Williams went on to tour the United States, and played a number of concerts with Mississippi Fred McDowell. He continued to play concerts and festivals into the late 1970s when his health began to decline.

His most popular recordings included "Prisoner's Talking Blues" and "Pardon Denied Again". Williams has been inducted into the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame.

Williams died in Rosedale, Louisiana on 31 December 1980, at the age of 66.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Signs of the Times


I have tried to stay away from making lists. It's a tired literary convention, but one that Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn used ad nauseum throughout his career and he probably paid off a few mortgages with the artifice. So I dedicate this post to him. And the love of his life, Bruce Springsteen.

I wanted to do a list of some of the things that bug me. My friend Donald in Brooklyn called me a curmudgeon the other day and I didn't know that I could qualify in my relatively spry youth. But if I am going to wear the mantle I might as well bitch.

This list isn't necessarily apocalyptic in nature, I am not so hysterical to suggest that the items are a sign of the imminent destruction of mankind or anything so dire. I hope that you will see fit to ponder and send me a couple of your own.

* People that talk in the library. All ages, on the phone, to each other and the librarians won't tell them to shut up. And the new use of the library as a holding station for the mentally ill, homeless and the unwashed.

*Television screens everywhere. I hated them in the bank and in the gym. Now the gas station and the supermarket checkout line. Do we really need all of this constant bombardment? And isn't it true that they can see what you're doing in your home through the damn things?

*Those huge doorknob sized tubes the kids are now putting through the bottom of their earlobes. Not attractive, sorry. If you are a card carrying eskimo I will give you a pass. The bottom lip/chin jewelry girl at the coffee shop says that the nose stud and brow wear is officially de riguer. So 2008. But way cool to stick them in any other spot on your face, no matter how nonsensical.

*Speaking of which, the Blast, with it's sharp eyed ability to spot new fashion trends, was filling out a label at the post office counter the other day when he noticed that both gentlemen in front of him were similarly bedecked with large right calf tattoos. One was a large Batman and the other a giant grafitti blob with some ugly lettering. I turned to the guy next to me and said something smarmy like "who knew, I guess I never got the right calf memo." He gave me a weak half smile and I looked down and no shit, I kid you not, his right calf was covered with a giant squid. He said that there was no master plan and that it was totally arbitrary. Hmm.

*ADD and ADHD. Is it possible that every child in America has attention deficit disorder? Why the sudden onslaught? Is this a post cold war soviet trick? Are they putting something in the water? Are these the children we merely called lazy or shiftless in my day? Or are we merely drugging our youth because they get so much more compliant and we can cover up our poor parenting skills. It's like carpal tunnel or Epstein Barr, people were fine until they came up a word for it. In my family we called it the Merck Manual Syndrome. If my mother found a new disease, and she did so weekly, we knew there would be hell to pay.

*lbg &T - I love the l,b's and g's, whatever floats your boat. I have serious questions about the t's. It's called chromosomes. It's xx or xy. That is it. You can make all the cosmetic plumbing changes in the world, shave your adam's apple or embrace your inner man/woman, but you are simply fooling yourself. Gender occurs at a cellular level. Except for the occasional seahorse or kangaroo, pregnancy tends to be a pretty closed shop.

*People who pass on the right. Even when there is no lane. The mechanic was giving me a ride back to my car the other day (brake job - $720.00) and this idiot tried to shoot this nonexistent gap on our right. We looked at each other incredulously and the mechanic said something like "you can't fix stupid." I thought about hurling a few choice words at the offender but he had a Devil Dogs marine sticker, was heading back to the military base and was black. I was in no mood to bandy with a fellow who might kick my ass, have several bouts of post traumatic whatever and didn't want to appear like a bigot either.

*Twizzlers - I love licorice, black or red. I used to love the long, thin, red rope strings that you could tie up in knots. I can't find them anymore. But who in the hell came up with Twizzlers? The most god forsaken frankenfood ever invented. A horrible synthetic taste like someone made them with their amateur chemistry set. Like incredible edibles from the sixties. Twizzlers got to be the worst tasting candy ever.

*Anti semitic letters to the editor. I know, I know, I'm touchy. Hey if you want to go after Israel, feel free. But the North County Times for some reason allows people to refer to jews in the most inelegant of terms and it's apparently fair game. Last week it was about bowing down to the yarmulkes (skullcaps), today they want us to invade and take over the country from the evil jewish cabal. They would never print letters referring to blacks and watermelon and hispanics and beans but it's open season once again on the damn jews and the whitefish.

*Twitter. There's all these people following me and I am graciously appreciative and yet I don't tweet. Never have, as far as I know although I do make some strange noises. I hope they aren't holding their breath. This twit don't tweet.

I could probably go on. I could go off on women who dot their i's with big loopy hearts or wear excessively flowery perfume that gives me a headache or people that bring large strollers into my gallery and reach inside my cases without asking but they don't quite rise to the required level. What you got?

Gilligans Island - The Honey Bees

Tom Thumb Blues

I started out on burgundy but soon I hit the harder stuff...
Bob Dylan



It's coming up on 2:oo a.m.and we are still coming down off our Screw the Depression party. It was very successful but incredibly crowded. Plus the room was very hot. People drank like fish. Close to 60 bottles or more I think.


Ended up drinking Bushmills with some crazy people. Thanks to everyone who came out. The party was an interesting shift and mix of old and young. Rich and poor and in between. There was a late entry that phase shifted the thing into the wee hours. Some people came that have been buffeted about by the winds of economic misfortune. We all commiserated. Usually I end up with about 20 more wine bottles than I started with after these affairs. Now the cupboard is near bare.


Leslie had the belly dancers at Caravan. The Blue Heron Gallery featured an excellent twelve string guitar player Doug Danker performing and then a couple of funky memphis type cats from a gospel church. People were getting hammered on the sidewalk out front for hours as the cops slowly drove past. Pretty insane.

I even sold some paintings today so it might be a tragedy narrowly averted. Pala Casino catered the steak and giant shrimp dinner for the wine and a bite portion. Robert, the executive chef, was a gas. Orizaba wine donated a lot of good red for the tasting. A lot of people came in that had never seen the gallery before and no one had ever seen it this clean - I have been quite the domestic the last several days.


Thanks to all who came and played and partied with us. Catch the rest of you on the next go round. Everyone seemed quite happy and I kept hearing how my parties are mas mejor. Best group of people, I know...


Leslie and I cleaned up after we finally flushed the last stragglers out. Tomorrow I finish up. We just split a quesadilla and it's sayonara time.


Robert - going to bed.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Vanishing Point


He was so depressed, he tried to commit suicide by inhaling next to an Armenian.
Woody Allen


Times are tough, and many people have been cashing in their chips. I was talking to my friend Vern who lives in the Grand Canyon about the Romanian guy who drove his car into the great divide last week. He said that most people only get 30 to 50 feet down the side but this guy went about 600'! The decedent had to really scout out the flight plan, going behind the El Tovar Hotel, driving on the grass for a spell, finding a little used path, and throttling down for maximum acceleration to one of the few areas without a guard rail. But a high visibility spot so you could still give the people a little show.

Vern has lived in the canyon a long time and says the real waste are the people who come to the canyon and merely shoot themselves, when they could be working on their flying skills. It's a bit counterintuitive, couldn't you save on gas and do it at home?

Why are people such, pardon the pun, lemmings? Why the Golden Gate or the Coronado Bridge all the time. Why the Canyon? Is it their poetic nature? Are we just copycats without an original thought, even in death?

Then again I had a frenchman across the street do himself in in his garage when I lived in Rainbow years ago. The sheriff's deputy, who knew the fellow, was really pissed that the guy couldn't have taken it outside, since it caused quite a mess.

Of course writers and dentists are the people most known for this sort of thing - the Sylvia Plath tradition - don't quite get it. If I have to drill one more stinky molar, well that's it.

Maybe it's man's innate and primordial urge to fly that causes us to seek great heights for our grand finale. Finish the whole think off with a two and a half gainer in pike position. Style points. And no one has to clean up the bathtub.

Grand Canyon News Release
Release date: Immediate

Contact(s): Shannan Marcak
Phone number: 928-638-7958
Date: July 17, 2009

Man Who Drove Car Over Edge at Grand Canyon Identified

Grand Canyon, Ariz. - The body of a man who drove his car over the edge
of
the Grand Canyon earlier this week has been identified as that of
Gheorghe
Chiriac of Apple Valley, California.

On Monday, July 13 at approximately 6:00 a.m., the Grand Canyon Regional
Communications Center received multiple reports that a car had been
driven
over the edge near the El Tovar Hotel on the South Rim of Grand Canyon
National Park.

Upon arriving at the scene, park rangers found tire tracks indicating
that
a car had been driven up onto the curb of the loading area between the
El
Tovar Hotel and the Kachina Lodge. The tracks indicated that the car
then
veered left, traveling through the grass behind Kachina Lodge until it
reached the Thunderbird Lodge where it veered right and into the canyon.
As the car had traveled a significant distance from the regular roadway,
there was no wall or barrier where it went over the edge

Rescue personnel descended on ropes and located the vehicle
approximately
600 feet below the rim. The body of a lone male was located shortly
thereafter. After the scene was documented, the body was transported to
the rim by helicopter via long-line operation and then picked up by the
Coconino County Medical Examiner.

The body has now been identified as that of 57 year old Gheorghe Chiriac
who emigrated from Romania approximately 30 years ago. His death has
been
ruled a suicide.

The investigation into this incident was conducted by the National Park
Service.

-NPS-

SHANNAN D. MARCAK
Public Affairs Specialist
Grand Canyon National Park
(928)638-7958
Shannan_Marcak@nps.gov


Oscar Mayer Weinermobile crashes into Wisconsin home.

Read about it here. And dare I say it, a mere week after the Blast reported on the death of the patriarch of frankfurters himself. We know these things happen in threes, might be a good time to lay off the hot dogs for a little while.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Billy Grammer - Gotta Travel On

Blast Q & A

When do you have time for all this musing and pontificating ?
 
DG - New York

Good question DG! In the new economic reality, every second must be devoted to toil and milling about the old grindstone.  It is in recognition of said reality that I have decided to pack it in with a mere 27 more posts. Maybe goodnight Irene, maybe a mere sabbatical. 

In the future I am sure that anthropologists and sages will go over each one of my witticisms with a fine tooth comb, looking for some key to understanding our civilization and the human condition.  But I am afraid that a man is seldom recognized in his own lifetime, or is a king in his own household and that my "musing and pontification" has largely fallen on deaf ears.

I mention Walter Cronkite in this morning's post and he keels over dead a mere hours later. This power is far to great for my mortal soul to bear. Who would be the next to fall to the curse of the Blast?

So in the words of the immortal Millard Fillmore, Ciao Baby! I will resign and quietly go into seclusion with Bill Watterson, Berkeley Breathed and J.D. Salinger. All mail and correspondence will be returned unopened. I will be hopping freights and visiting the far off reaches of Patagonia or Ladakh, or possibly consulting with some grand sufi poobah on the Ganges.

It's been a heck of a ride but a thousand is such a good round number.

Toodles.

Confirmation Funnies


Kudos to Mitch McConnell, the Senator from Kentucky and Minority Leader. He came out in opposition to Sonia Sotomayor's nomination today. A senior aide said the senator plans to announce his opposition officially Monday, voicing concern about her respect for the notion of equal justice, and about whether she would let her sympathies and prejudices interfere with judicial decisions. Now isn't that the problem with most minorities, that they are so damn prejudiced?

Here is McConnell's statement:

"From the beginning of this confirmation process, I've said that Americans expect one thing when they walk into a court room, whether it's a traffic court or the Supreme Court -- and that's equal treatment under the law. Over the years, Americans have accepted significant ideological differences in the kinds of men and women that various presidents have nominated to the Supreme Court. But one thing Americans will never tolerate in a nominee is a belief that some groups are more deserving of a fair shake than others. Nothing could be more offensive to the American sensibility than that. Judge Sotomayor is a fine person with an impressive story and a distinguished background. But above all else, a judge must check his or her personal or political agenda at the courtroom door and do justice even-handedly, as the judicial oath requires."


"Judge Sotomayor's record of written statements suggests an alarming lack of respect for the notion of equal justice, and therefore, in my view, an insufficient willingness to abide by the judicial oath. This is particularly important when considering someone for the Supreme Court since, if she were confirmed, there would be no higher court to deter or prevent her from injecting into the law the various disconcerting principles that recur throughout her public statements. For that reason, I will oppose her nomination."

"In her writings and in her speeches, Judge Sotomayor has repeatedly stated that a judge's personal experiences affect judicial outcomes. She has said her experiences will affect the facts that she chooses to see as a judge. She has argued that in deciding cases judges should bring their sympathies and prejudices to bear. She has dismissed the ideal of judicial impartiality as an 'aspiration' that, in her view, cannot be met even in most cases. Taken together, these statements suggest not just a sense that impartiality is not possible, but that it's not even worth the effort."

"Judge Sotomayor's record on the Second Circuit is troubling enough. But, as I said, at least on the Circuit Court, there's a backstop. Her cases can be reviewed by the Supreme Court. This meant that in the Ricci case, for example, the firefighters whose promotions were unfairly denied could appeal the decision. Fortunately for them, the Supreme Court sided with them over Judge Sotomayor. If, however, Judge Sotomayor were to become a Supreme Court Justice, there would be no backstop. Her rulings would be final. She'd be unencumbered by the obligation of lower court judges to follow precedent. She could act more freely on the kinds of views that animated her troubling and legally incorrect ruling in the Ricci case. That's not a chance I'm willing to take."

Brave men like McConnell may be all that are standing between us and the creeping brown menace. And like Pat Buchanon eluded to yesterday, 99% of all the good things in this country that made this country great are the work of white christian males anyway.

Ya, shiftless blacks were too busy lazing away their time picking cotton on massa's plantation to contribute much of anything to the common good. They been keeping the rich white man down too long...