Friday, September 28, 2012

What's the Best Men's Cologne?

What the heck is that you might be asking? Well it's none other than a random wall in my bedroom in my New York apartment. It just happens to contain my colognes. This is in regards to a recent question I received from a fan in the Q&A section, where this guy asked me to recommend a good cologne for him and a great perfume for his girl. So for you, whoever you are, you heard right. This is it. A very personal look into my very own boudoir. Now I know what you're thinking. There's no way you can or want to buy all those colognes. Gotcha. A collection like this doesn't happen over night. It's a collection. And like all collections, it takes time to get to a satisfactory quantity and quality of whatever one is collecting to feel that juice, that personal sense of joy and pride that comes from building up a collection of any kind. In this case it just happens to be colognes. But I love collecting in general. I'll freaking collect anything if I dig it. Why not? Life is big. And if we're lucky, it's also LONG.... So why not? They're useful enough things, colognes. I could think of other things less utilitarian to collect...

Monday, September 24, 2012

A recent TIME magazine cover story by jolly noble do-gooder Joe klein reports on HOW GUNS WON. But the title, though enjoyably witty in its personification, is a misnomer. Guns didn't win. Money won. As with all things human or historical, save events beyond our control such as so-called acts of God, money is at the heart of America's loss in the battle against more civilized gun laws.

Nowhere else on planet earth is there more unadulterated barbarism in the form of mass public murders, gun deaths and citizens killing fellow citizens than in the U.S. excepting maybe Mexico or Colombia because of their ongoing drug wars. [an important note: it would be irresponsible to not make mention after this last sentence that the main cause of both those countries' drug-war problems is the high demand for the drugs by the people of the United States. The major drug cartels who are waging war against themselves in both countries and killing each other in the streets en masse to seize control of the big business that drug dealing has become are not fighting over a demand for drugs in their own countries, where the use of street drugs is relatively low; the big business that drug dealing has become is entirely due to the high demand for drugs in America.]

This tells us several interesting things. Number one, if the United States government was serious about the war on drugs they would use the technology they surely have access to (and the ridiculous amount of money in their annual budgets) to make it impossible for Mexico and Colombia to import drugs into the United States so easily. But there is too much money to be made in it, at many levels -- from greedy border patrol agents to crooked cops to the average street corner drug dealer in every city USA. As long as the major violence of the drug lords' wars stays put in these other countries the American governmental agencies in charge of the alleged war on drugs is perfectly content to allow the drugs to continue to flow in.

Secondly, it is telling that there is still such a high demand of near epidemic proportions for street and recreational drugs in the U.S. after over thirty years since the so-called war on drugs first began. Thirdly, and perhaps most disturbing, is the irony that in the only other countries whose gun violence over shadows that of America's is being caused by legitimate causes created out of economic need and greed, i.e. control over a thriving multi-billion dollar industry -- the drug trade into the United States. But in America, the rampant increase in gun violence and murder is not being created by anything economically motivated whatsoever. It isn't for the control over a thriving industry, nor is it being caused by mob wars, or because economic woes have led people to become more desperate so crime is on the rise as one might guess.

Instead Americans have just become more and more accustomed to, interested in and fascinated with killing each other. It's not drug lords or mob hitmen who are killing us. It's us who is killing us. Common folk killing common folk. Killing sprees and public mass murders is a competitive sport in the United States now. Each month a new anti-hero rears his ugly head as the newest famous psycho to kill a bunch of innocent people for no apparent reason, the more violent and creative the more attention he garners for himself and the more likely he'll get a book deal to tell his story in the future.

Every other civilized country in the world today has control of their populace in regards to guns and gun violence. Mass random public murders of innocent people is an almost exclusively American phenomenon. A dubious distinction that for all intents and purposes most Americans do not feel proud of. But it's ours to own nonetheless.

The first question is not what kind of gun control laws do we need to put into place or which country's system should we follow, but rather what the hell is causing this new found obsession we have for killing each other? Of course in the meantime, until we ascertain what some of the root causes of this collective mental illness might be, putting into place a few tighter gun control laws wouldn't be such a bad idea. And just to be clear, this in no way implies that we need to reverse or restrict our blessed second amendment right for every citizen to have a gun or two or even ten in their home.

New York City has some of the most restrictive gun laws in America, and although it's done wonders in making the citizens safer -- New York is now and has been for several years consistently been rated one of the safest cities or towns in the United States, most well thought out people in the State know damn well that their rights as American citizens have been seriously violated. Anyone who understands the reasons for and the value of our sacred second amendment rights knows the benefit of them and wishes the local government would return these rights to the citizenry.

No this isn't about restricting second amendment rights and it's not about disarming the American people. But it is about starting to pass laws that would make it difficult for just anyone to go online or to a gun show and arm themselves with enough ammo and protective gear to fight a small war with a neighboring country. The situation has gotten way out of hand and any right thinking person can see that.

But selling guns and ammo for a living is big business and like anything that generates millions of dollars a year that end goal has become more important than anything else, even saving human lives. The people who are fighting to keep a gun in the hands of every American aren't gun owners. They're businessmen. And no matter how many people who are killed each year, or each month as the case is today, from this business, making that money is going to take precedent over everything else.

That's American capitalism at its finest. And at it's worst. And we see it playing out in everything from the arms sales industry that leads us into false flag wars in foreign nations, to the irreparable damage and destruction of our environment so giant corporations can reap huge profits. Money is most certainly not the root of all evil and whoever made that statement first was a fool. But there's something to be said about a country whose every law is being created for the benefit of pure profit rather than for the benefit of its survival.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Last Two Party Presidential Election in American History

It's on the tip of every tongue in America. Though one gets the feeling that no one likes the taste. We're 44 days away from the next presidential election. But it might as well feel like a year. The mainstream media for whatever reason started "covering" the election over a year ago so it's just about the last thing any one wants to keep thinking about. But the media continues to hammer it in, day after boring day. As they do, the American people continue to be accosted by hate speech and attack ads, shouting matches and pointing fingers of blame and guilt and who said what when to whom. If you step back as if from another country, it appears that America is two steps away from a full on implosion. The golden old days of unity are gone. Patriotism is gone. Nationalism gone. We are two countries now. Two groups of people. No longer necessarily divided strictly by North and South. But divided nonetheless. Divided by two rusted, worthless and irrelevant political parties that have long since worn out their welcome in the American psyche.

We have never seen a presidential campaign this heated, argumentative and venomous. We've also never seen a campaign so vacuous. The Republican candidate, a man they call Mitt Romney, talks about change and improving things. Though no matter how many times he's asked or how many different ways he is asked, he cannot elaborate on what exactly he is going to change or how he's going to do it. One gets the feeling that his primary concern -- at least according to the mandate being forced upon him by the people who are pulling his puppet strings -- is helping further entitle the wealthiest people in the country by taking away entitlements for the least wealthy.

On the other hand, the current president, the man you will probably know in the future as "the first African American President of the United States" -- Barack Obama -- appears much more confident in terms of his actual platform. He has ideas and vision, not necessarily one that all Americans agree with, but they're there. They're obvious. And they too seem a bit too close to what we now call class warfare, pitting rich against poor, the haves versus the have nots. As I type these words a marquis flashes across the television screen in front of me "21% of New Yorkers lived in poverty last year". It is everywhere.

The president speaks of taking care of the least among us. And in theory it sounds and feels like the right thing to do. The last thing any of us really want, in our heart of hearts, is to be stepping over poorer people among us as we make our way to the local diner, or to see giant plots of land filled with whole families living in tents as in times past because they are so poor they cannot afford a place to live. So the basic vision of the president and this team of so called Democrats makes sense.

But for some reason he seems to feel a need to attack anyone who has money or who's making money as his solution to how to help those who are struggling. It's a dangerous platform. America was founded on, among many other things, the principle that YOU can make it here. That if there is anywhere on earth where if afforded the talent and desire for it a person can achieve success it's in the good old United States of America. Why Obama continues to make comments suggesting a socialist agenda of wealth bashing is beyond those of us who have money, and indeed even those of us who still don't have money but want to have some one day. He seems to be only appealing to people struggling economically, leaving those with money to the side of the curve like last night's future morning walk of shame candidate. If you're an able bodied entrepreneurial minded American much of what comes out of this president's mouth seems almost unAmerican. At the very least it seems anti-Capitalist.

But all of the above aspects of this current race towards infamy hint at a bigger picture that is telling about the crumbling American two party system. Another unfortunate aspect of it all is that because of the access that even the least educated and connected among us are afforded by technology we are finally seeing for the first time in our long history what a "Republic" looks like -- in how it's really being practiced. The country's laws and governing principles appear to be being brainstormed and created not by the president or even congress, but by private sector people, celebrities and the super rich, people like Grover Norquist, think tanks like like the Project for a New American Century and political campaign advisors like Bay Buchanan and David Axelrod. These people come on television or opine in the media about what "we are trying to do..." as if they are the ones running the show. The candidates come off like mere puppets, talking heads with the right kind of teeth and body shape to be president. Indeed, we have been taught from an early age, those of us that wanted to know, that America was never meant to be a true Democracy. That "the people" have never had much control over what goes on here; that instead the country was set up as a Republic, meaning that the people are represented by higher ups who speak for them.

That reality was never made more real for America than in year 2000 when we saw one candidate win more votes by the people -- by over half a million -- but lose the presidency. It didn't make much sense to most Americans. How can someone win but still lose? The talking heads explained to the astonished people that their vote in reality didn't really matter. It was symbolic. But not actually a significant factor in determining who would be elected. They call it the Electoral College System. I don't have to tell you how it works. By now, wherever you are, you probably know it better than I do.

This year, in this election, pundits break down the potential outcome of the upcoming presidential race to us with a large map that shows all fifty United States and explain to us that because of the Electoral College system that most of the election has already been decided on long before any of us have even had a chance to vote. That in reality it only comes down to a few states and which way their electoral votes will swing. It won't have much to do with how you or I vote in the election, but more to do with how these electorates in states like Ohio and Virginia, Florida and Iowa will vote. Yes it's disheartening to say the least. It is one of the reasons why less than 50% of eligible voters in the country will actually vote. I get that. I've already been told numerous times by friends and countrymen that there is no need for example for me to vote because I live in New York. New York it's already been decided will automatically go to the Democrats and thus Barack Obama. I'll vote anyway, just to give myself the illusion that my vote matters. But inside I know it really doesn't.

All this leads us back to the original point. Why such a divided country at this time? Why does it feel like the Civil War again? The answer to that question has already been answered. The candidates who decide to run for president are forced to choose between two very large and powerful political parties who are actually at the head of the controls of the nation. These so called parties have tens of thousands of people working for them or with them or associating themselves with them. But these people don't do much. They don't have much control in reality. Behind these two parties is a much smaller group of people who are actually in control. Neither Left nor RIght, they are for all intents and purposes just "the rich". Either individuals or corporations, it is they who call the shots. Whether it is what platform to take on Medicare or which side of the coin to fall on abortion or capital punishment, those decisions have already been made long ago, and have been foisted upon these ancient aging political parties by a small handful of controlling people who understand all too well the power of how to control the many through ideology rather than through leadership.

Mitt Romney, from everything that has been said of him by people who know him, appears to be a good man, with a good heart and a strong moral fiber. But his desire to be president of the United States was much stronger than any of his moral convictions. We've watched him change his views on just about every issue that is relevant in American politics over the last ten years. If he was going to be president, he needed to be represented by one of the two political parties. One assumes he eventually ended up in the Republican camp because he was wealthy. Although he didn't necessarily agree with any of the more social ideals of that party he has had to pretend to. So one by one he's changed his public stance on the issues to appear more aligned with the party he chose and that chose him. Sort of. For the record, there hasn't been an American political party less interested in their own candidate since the Dems were reluctantly forced to back McGovern back in '68 after LBJ backed out and RFK got killed.

So as our summer turns to fall and our days quickly shorten with each day emitting less sunlight as the day before, we are all well aware in America that our presidential race is less of a race than it is a waiting game. Our vote won't count for much as far as any of us can tell, and other than to provide a physical representation or symbol of a competitor, the Republican side of the political spectrum doesn't really serve a purpose in this election. Because the candidate himself doesn't really believe in what he's saying or doing. Because of that, he doesn't stand a chance of actually winning. In my short lifetime, and I don't pretend to have a lot of experience in these types of things, I have never personally seen someone so insincere when he speaks, so thoroughly uninvested in the platform he claims to believe in. You get the idea that he is being forced to pretend that he believes in all these things but doesn't really. That in reality, if given the chance, he would race back towards the middle if he could. But this new breed of the controlling few who have hijacked the Republican party have boxed him into a corner painted so tight that there's no room to breathe let alone move in it.

Personally I'd love to hear what Mitt Romney really believes. What he thinks about health care -- he was the first American governor to accomplish creating a universal health care system for his state, but he's had to reverse his stance on that issue and pretend that he somehow made a mistake just because this party that controls him has told him to. How does he feel about a woman's right to choose? As a governor he was for it. Now he doesn't care if his own daughter's been raped by a crack addict and gotten pregnant, he says he'd force her and every other woman in the United States to have that baby, whether she wants to or not. The same with gun control. Forget the fact that at this point in our history we are experiencing mass public killings on an almost monthly basis by crazed lunatics with assault weapons and giant arsenals. Romney says that there's no need to control what kind of weaponry the average citizen is allowed to purchase.

Of course, not many of us buy these remarks. And that's why he's losing in the polls so badly. He just isn't believable. And for good reason. No one in their right mind WOULD believe most of the things he's saying. He's simply repeating what he's being force fed to say by a controlling few. Why THEY want him to say these things, God only knows. But one thing is certain. This is the last election that will be run by only two political parties in our history. The apathy is more than palpable. More and more people run towards the center, which means they are forced to lean Democrat, as the Republican party continues to spiral into a terrifying mess of insane ideas that only the craziest extremists would embrace. Not happy with either position, most of us feel trapped between two options that if given a real choice we would choose neither. So more and more of us call ourselves Independent. Problem is that the powers that be refuse to even accept Independent as a viable option. But they better start. This upcoming presidential election, and the landslide victory that Barack Obama will experience for better or worse, will show both parties that the days of forcing the American people into only two ideological boxes are over. When a people only have one choice for president, that isn't a democracy. It isn't even a republic. We all know what that is. And it's not something even worth discussing. Unfortunately that's what we have now here. The year is 2012. God help us.

You can feel it here too... Fall is definitely in the air. NYC has cooled down. there's a breeze in the air... cooler weather. Briskness. I like it. My fav time to be here. But it's getting dark. Hated. By 7:24 it was dark. I was like "What?" Looked outside. Couldn't believe it. I remember this summer working on the album with the guys, being able to go take a walk at 7 and still be seeing sunshine... I wish it could be like that all the time.

Shot music videos all day today. We're making a series of them, aiming for one per song or more for every song on the album. Working with a bunch of different film directors and artists. This batch is with The Swan. La Princesa's older brother, from the old days down in Miami. He's moved up to New York recently. So that's cool. It's good to make that connection again. It's a damn long life if you're lucky. That's one thing you learn slowly as you get older. But it's a small world. No matter how big we think it is, because of the cosmic collective consciousness that ties us all together, invisible to the naked eye these hair thin strings, innumerable in number, connecting us all to everybody else. If you've met someone there's a reason for it. Chances are you'll meet again. Or not. I'm not one for digging for meaning. But I don't see The Swan for eight years and out of the blue he reconnects with me through an ad we placed on Facebook and he just happens to live ten blocks from me here in New York now. La Princesa's brother. Crazy.

Current Screening: DAYS OF HEAVEN. Another Terrence Malick film, his second one. From 1979. I'm watching them all because I liked TREE OF LIFE so much. Out of all the incredibly creative and enjoyable movies that 2011 presented, I believe that one touched me the most, as an artist. There was something about it that seemed a few steps above all the others. As if whoever made it lived a slightly higher plane than the rest of us. If I ever made a movie, I would make it like that, I kept saying as we watched it. Though Princess Little Tree got a little bored with the long shots of sunlight shining through leaves on trees or the slow motion shots of shadows and silhouettes, she too understood that what we were witnessing was something above and beyond a typical Hollywood movie.

A lot of people fidgeted and fussed about the "creation" scene. Ten minutes out of nowhere of God only knows what, featuring everything from the formation of planets to dinosaurs grazing in wetlands, and here we were supposedly watching a film about farm hicks in the early nineteen-fifties. A coming of age story. But you see, for me it was just the opposite. I mean, (she hates when I do it but God bless her, like Madelyn before her and still, she tolerates it, encourages it even) I had to stop the movie after that scene. I can't say why people didn't get it, or didn't enjoy it, didn't understand what the artist was trying to say by inserting that scene there... But for me it was as obvious a statement as anything we saw in the picture. And now that I've seen a few of his other works, I get it even more. I mean, take it as one of the many aspects of world experiences that split us human beings up right smack down the middle into two unequal halves. Those that got it and loved it and those that didn't. Princee understood the "artistic nature" of the piece, but didn't feel it was necessary or appropriate. I thought it was perfectly appropriate and regarding it being necessary or not, I've never looked at art in that way, through that lens of whether something is necessary or not. It's art. It's all unnecessary, so...

I spoke with a film director yesterday about it while on set for one of the music videos we are shooting this week and he felt the same way. But he already told me he "doesn't like artsy fartsy stuff as he calls it. Don't ask me why he's working with me. And vice versa. God help us. (he referenced the graphical hyper-space scenes at the end of 2001 SPACE ODYSSEY as also boring and annoying him; and again, for me personally that's one of the primary (and perhaps very few) reasons to watch that film.) I tried to explain to this guy that the moment that Malick introduced that scene in the movie I had to stop the move for a few minutes just to rave about it; like a child, wide eyed and mouth open... Just blown away, to tears, amazed, ravenous with admiration and envy both and everything in between. Finally. Someone reached beyond the norm and said fuck it -- but did that withOUT going too far into that netherworld of what we are presently calling "independent film" which at this phase in our recorded history is way over done and sophomoric most of the time.

They overdo it for the sake of overdoing it because it's "indie" (yes like with indie music too) so it's all so predictable and cheesy. But Malick still managed to pull it back in and keep it within the construct of a mainstream film by the time you were finished watching it, unlike with indie films where you walk out feeling like you just got whacked over the head with the director's intense desire to "do something that would shock people". That shit makes me want to stab them in the chest or at the very least slap in the face with a fish. Im not sure where you are now, reading this, in time. But where we are now, the whole world has gone crazy for indie and it's maddening if you're artistic in any way because so much of it is shit.

See, indie just means you don't have the backing of a major player in the industry. Which means, theoretically, that you can do whatever you want to... with your film, your music, your new book, with whatever. And in theory that poses great possibilities for us all, as it presents the possibility of something coming out of nowhere that busts the door off of conventional thinking and really innovating. But 99% of the time it means a shite film that's boring as hell or reads like your little brother and his freinds wrote it for extra credit for school. With music, indie just means that it sounds like everyone else who call themselves indie. It's completely lost it's meaning. Ever since the major record labels hijacked the term with the introduction of the major label band The Strokes as an "indie rock" band, indie rock has just meant "sounds like a spin off of The Strokes or some other band who spun off them a few years later. It's lost it's original meaning. Half the bands that are classified as indie are on major labels, so that ain't indie. They just want to be called indie because they think it gives them street cred. The other half the bands that call themselves indie really are, meaning that they aren't on a real record label. They're independent. But nine times out of ten there's a reason for that. They're just not that good.

The same has been applying to film lately. Last few years. We are currently being bombarded with independent film. I'm not sure if people like it, or if the people who make it just find ways of raising enough money to produce all these movies and buy distribution for their films and therefore we just happen to see a shitload of them all over the place now in our world, but either way, most of it should never see the light of day.

But not so with Terrence Malick. He's got this independent spirit, like Woody Allen, but still manages to keep it big-studio great. Similar to what Lars Von Trier and even Scorsese have been doing. (Lars deserves his own set of thoughts in another entry at some point... ANTICHRIST being one of the most beautiful, breath taking and disturbing movies of all time. MELANCHOLIA not so much, and yet still worthy of attention. Just not great.) But Malick, he hits the ball out of the park every time. Still don't understand why the members of the Academy gave the Best Picture Oscar to THE ARTIST, a rather forgettable film, compared to TREE.

Last night I watched THE THIN RED LINE. His 1999 magnum opus WWII. As usual it was as slow as it was beautiful. DAYS looks like it's going to be the same. I like collecting film directors... like how we collect musicians we really enjoy. Or painters or authors. You get it under your belt. The thing I can't quite come to terms with with Malick is how long he takes in between films. Does he lead a double life? What's with the ten to twenty years in between movies?

Prologue: DAYS OF HEAVEN is masterful. In fact, just like last night, where I stayed up till 4am watching THIN RED LINE, here it is 3am and I have stopped the film several times in order to write about it. Good art does that. At least it should. It does and if it doesn't then it just isn't as good as it could be. More later, but be it said that great art, brilliant art, no matter what the medium, looks and feels like Terrence Malicks's DAYS OF HEAVEN. It goes places in a few seconds that most films don't go in two hours. The cinematography is as important as the plot and the acting. He paints, like all great singer/songwriters create albums that are more like movies, all great filmmakers create movies that more like paintings.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Enslaved to the Loathsome World of Email

I don't know when we reached the tipping point of this thing. I really don't. All I know is that one day email was a valuable means to pass on data of extended detail to people through a very quick means, or perhaps a more polite way to reach out to someone you don't know well enough to call. And it sure as hell beat writing an old fashioned letter for those purposes, in terms of speed of delivery. But over the last few years, people have come to consider email a means of communication all it's own. Separate from and equal to all other forms. As if by emailing someone it lets them off the hook from having to communicate with someone in more regulated or confirmed manner. Such as a phone call or a text message. When you speak with someone on the phone about something, you can be pretty sure they heard what you said. There's clear communication there. But lets' face it, if you shoot off an email to someone in the middle of the day and don't hear back from them, you have absolutely no clear way of knowing if they even received it, let alone read it.

It's 12:41am here. Have church tomorrow. So tired from what goes into music videos... Spent ten horus today between hair, makeup, wardrobe and shooting. Must have shot the song twenty times. It's a crazy world. Point being that even if you do spend all day working, like I did today, you still have to check and respond to emails these days because people have become accustomed to just dismissing their regular communication through shooting out emails to people. I mean, it's just come to that now. People don't bother calling or texting you. They think because they've sent you an email they're in the clear. When did it get like that? More importantly, how did we let it get to that? It's like BAM they shoot off some email as if their job is done, and hell you might have received a few hundred emails that day. There's no way you can get through them all even if you weren't working. It's physically impossible. Unless you're an octopus. Or a clone of a clone of a clone. At least once you reach a certain level in your career of choice. Which I have now. A few years back. Which basically means that for all the money and success I enjoy, I am forced to endure an equal quantity of copious emails.

(Someone just Poked me on FB. Seriously. Now THAT is irony at it's finest... LOL!) Now I do have a system set up. For those that wonder how that works, once you reach that level where you are receiving tens of thousands of emails per week or month, I've got an assistant or two who are copied on all emails that are sent to me. That's been going on for about ten years now. More probably. And if something really important comes in they text me a copy of it right there on the spot so i can text them back a response to the sender. Their other job is to just get that number of emails down. Sort them. Filter them. Get the spam out. Get the newsletters out of there. Let me know if anything personal and important arrives that needs my attention. And let me know if anything important in the way of business arrives that needs my immediate attention. And that works for the most part. But there's just no way in hell that one or two people can handle it all unless that is ALL they do. Which right now we don't have set up. They've got other jobs as well. So a lot of it falls through the cracks. Meaning, that it just hits my box and quickly makes its way to the bottom, beneath that line where you can't see it, and by the time the moon rises on the horizon there are a few hundred emails below that line just from this morning. Poor bastards want a response. Problem is, I might not see their email till 2014. And that's the truth.

And there's just no way around that. I've heard people say "Dude, get email on your phone so you can read them while you're away from your computer." Yeah, good idea. I'm away from the computer because I'm working. On the phone or in a meeting or actually "doing" something. Last thing in the world a man needs to be doing while he's doing one thing is have his nose buried in a cell phone trying to read emails. It's just not appropriate. If you're working all day... you're working. How the hell are you supposed to then sit down and spend another eight hours sifting through people's emails? It's crazy. But people expect it these days. And a lot of these people are my friends, coworkers, they'll shoot something out and six months later be like "I think I sent you an email about it..." Makes me laugh now that I've vented a little. It's ridiculous really.

You might not see their email for weeks, months, in my case I'm still catching up on and replying to emails from 2008 this week. I think we took this email thing way too far. Truth is, it's my humble opinion that if a person sits behind a desk all day and they live in that "email world", fine. That might work for them. They might "clear" their box every day. Great. They're life is all about the email. Like people who watch TV. Some do. Some don't. But you can't expect someone who doesn't own a TV to know what you like to watch on Tuesdays at 9PM. Same goes for email. You just can't expect everyone to be as into it as you are. Your living through emails every few minutes does not mean that it works for other people. People who don't have desk jobs just don't see emails every five seconds. And damn me to a world where there's no Send and Receive button for an eternity, but I think that if you want to communicate something to somebody you should still be expected to pick up that phone and call or at least text them to let them know "Hey man by the way, check your email when you can. I've sent you some more details about such and such in an email." That makes sense. That works.

But the email should not replace regular communication. I think it's a cop out that people use so they don't have to follow through with regular communication. "What? Oh dude, I emailed that to you like a month ago..." "Great. Thanks for telling me that now. A month too late." So here I sit, cross eyed and tired as hell scrolling through emails at 1am in the morning after a full day's worth of work because a bunch of lame asses decided that they didn't feel like picking up the phone. The way I see it is this. If what they sent was not important enough to communicate through regular channels then it can't be that important, knowing that I just don't have access to email most days.

I don't know how we got here. But I'll tell you, it's a loathsome place. It's enslaved us all to be humpback desk sitters or little gadget hounds. And i for one love life too much to spend every waking hour glued to some electronic device. I see the ads for "tech geeks". And I respect their love, obsession, whatever you want to call it. We all have our hobbies. And technology has definitely turned into a near obsessive hobby for many people. I personally love it's convenience and the possibilities it portends for our continued progress and evolution as a species. But I don't buy into the fact that we need to become enslaved to it. The life as some call it, la vida, is just way too bella for that. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Machine Gun Preacher? Nope, Just Another Limpdick Politician

Current Screening: MACHINE GUN PREACHER starring Gerard Butler playing a badass white trash thug named Sam Childers who finds religion and starts looking for something to believe in other than himself, a mission, a noble goal. It's a true story. His noble goal was half way around the world in Sudan. And that says a lot. For he was nothing but a drug addled hillbilly from from the sticks of Pennsylvania for most of his life till the force of God and the Divine found him. Like most of us he was looking for something beyond himself that he could help with as a way to escape his own personal demons. Nothing better to relieve the worst of what haunts us than aiming our attention outward into the world rather than selfishly obsessing over ourselves all the time. Few people come to realize this in our short lifetimes here on earth. But more and more are, as I predicted back in July 2002 in the very first blog post in these Diaries. "What we need to do is make "giving and helping" cool, and discourage people from NOT giving and helping -- especially those with money or in the public eye -- by making it so uncool to not do so that they will feel compelled to do so, if even just for their own selfish motives. At least that way some more good works will be done in the world."

Looking back, I feel like I was a young and wide eyed idealist when I wrote those words, truly believing that together, those of us that cared, could change the whole world for the better and cure all that ailed it in just a few short years if I only my vision of "making giving and helping a cool trend" came to pass. Every now and then I still feel that way though. Not as young perhaps, but just as wide-eyed curious and intrigued by the possibilities, and definitely just as idealistic as I've ever been. Flash forward ten years and we are neck deep in a veritable trend of giving and helping now that is so hot, hip, cool and fashionable that it almost hurts to partake for those of us who like to believe we're trend bucking rebels because it's turned so mainstream. But that was the goal and we pulled it off. So it's a good thing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Apology for America's Values May be Just What's Needed

        Mormon business mogul turned wanton political hopeful Mitt Romney used Tuesday night's attacks on American embassies in Egypt and Libya as a political tool to try to gin up hard right extremists in the middle-states netherworld known as "the bible belt". Before he knew what was actually happening overseas he held a mock press conference and commented around midnight that the United States should not apologize to Muslim people for an insulting low budget movie that made fun of the prophet Mohammed and sparked protests in several Middle Eastern countries. The next morning the world would learn that more than just protests took place and that four American diplomacy officials had been killed, including the Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. But when Romney made his comments, there was no knowledge of such an attack. He was simply speaking about the Obama White House's apologizing about the offensive film. It was strikingly similar to George W. Bush's public apology in 2006 to people of the Islamic faith regarding a Danish cartoon that sparked the same kind of anger in the Muslim world.
         Not only was Romney's middle of the night statement to the media a blatant political low blow not unlike how he's handled his entire race for the presidency, more seriously it showed a genuine lack of diplomacy and leadership skills, for in reality he had no idea what was really transpiring in that area of the world, nor how serious the situation could and would get. Most disturbing it also showed a sincere lack of understanding and compassion for people who hold different values than his own, something that one would hope that anyone with a chair in the Oval Office would have mastered before being allowed to enter the room. So yesterday from early morning till late at night, the entire country was talking about politics -- Mitt Romney and yet another one of his gaffes rather than the fallen hero that few among us knew very well named Ambassador Christopher Stevens. This distraction of the real news story may be the worst fall out of Romney's desperate attention grab. 
         To be sure, no one with a conscience and a love for humanity, no matter how conservative or radical (they seem the same now in America and across the world don't they?), be they Christian, Jew or Muslim, Democrat, Republican or Independent, would condone the kind of violence that was responsible for killing Ambassador Stevens or his coworkers. But one gets the impression that we are dealing with two separate issues here. One seems to be a well thought out and planned attack on a vulnerable American Embassy filled with trusting people in Libya on the anniversary of 9/11. One could call it terrorism. One could call it an attack of retaliation for a devastating ten years of American imperialism and bullying. But no one in their right mind would condone or approve of it. The other issue was the video that upset people in the Middle East so much that they took to the streets to protest.
        One would do well to not jump to conclusions and tie these two separate events together as if they were one and the same. Although the most uneducated on Facebook and other social networks are already doing so, and going even further. One would think that they'd be happy to see the United States enter yet another war and this time take on the entire Muslim world. Last night I read one such unwashed plebeian comment that "it is inevitable that there will be another war between religions. USA!" As if he were talking about a video game marathon in his friend's basement.
        One gets the feeling that the Hollywood film that deliberately insulted the Prophet Mohammed was merely the spark that lit the flame of these new protests and not the sole reason for them. The sulfur on the match-head had been building up and sticking for years, some would say decades. American invasion and occupation of the Middle East has been the most publicly witnessed and talked about event in human history over the last ten years. Nothing has occupied the attention of the world more. One can only imagine what the people in this region feel after years of if. The death toll of Iraqis, Pakistanis, Afghanis, Palestinians, and even whole neighborhoods of people in Yemen and public assassinations of Iranian scientists is so high that it is impossible to quantify by any estimates. As the United States government continues its mission of it's "new American Century", the people of the Middle East watch helplessly in horror as their friends, family and neighbors die all around them.
        To address Mr. Romney's misguided quote in the photo above, one would be justified in responding "On the contrary. If what you mean by "America's values" is invading and occupying other sovereign nations around the world, blackmail in the form of economic terrorism to bring them to their knees, assassinating their government officials or drone strikes in the dead of night on their people... then there's no better course for America to at least start with than apologies." One day perhaps the citizens of the United States will elect a president who understands this. If this person utters those dreaded words "American exceptionalism" then the people will know they haven't found that man or woman yet. The world is waiting for a leader who recognizes and acknowledges "human exceptionalism" and stops the xenophobic jingoistic blind patriotism that started American down this slippery slope many years ago. The term "American exceptionalism" wreaks of ignorance and arrogance, and worse it displays someone who has not traveled extensively or lived abroad very much and therefore really doesn't yet get that we are all the same at heart. It is at best a disrespectful and ignorant phrase; at worst it is downright offensive to people of every other country on planet earth.
          The real issue is at hand is not if the U.S. government should be apologizing, but rather what ELSE can they do to begin to make amends for a shameful foreign policy that has been condemned by every civilized country in the world over the last sixty years. In regards to today's new outbreaks of anti-American sentiment and protests in Yemen, Iran, Egypt and Libya, one might argue that it's about time these countries started sticking up for themselves in the face of such rampant disregard, disrespect and abuse by American forces. The Information and the Personal Expression Ages are finally flattening the global playing field and enabling other countries to mobilize and voice their opposition to tyranny the same way they have enabled American citizens to in recent years. What we are witnessing is the effect of this new found power.
         This is not to say that the United States should not legally track down the killers of Ambassador Stevens and his coworkers and bring them to justice. Terrorism of any kind by any country -- including the United States ironically -- should not be tolerated by the world's governments nor its people. But there are millions of people in these countries where these protests are happening, the majority of whom are innocent. The last thing in the world they need is yet another American invasion or war beset upon them to upend their already fragile lives. There is a difference between hunting down a few militant extremists and starting a full out war with an entire country. Let us hope that the United States government understands the difference this time.
         One day the United States government will realize that it cannot go around the world doing whatever it wants to just because it wants to or has the capabilities to do so. One day the American people will wake up enough to demand it. Until then there will always be anti-American protests in Middle Eastern countries. The real fear that regular American citizens should be feeling now is that these sentiments do not begin to trickle over into other countries of the world again as they had after the ignoble and illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. America has made good progress over the last three years to repair its tattered image on the world stage. Though it has a long way to go before the average citizen of the world doesn't view the American government with more than a bit of resentment and cynicism. The next few days and weeks to come will be crucial in determining how the United States is viewed by its neighbors in the coming years. Let us hope for all of our sakes that the powers that be in Washington are more focused on the long game, on our economic stability in a global economy, on compassion, cooperation and diplomacy rather than on vengeance, greed, oil, power or global dominance.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ring That Bell! Let the Battle Begin!

          Fourth of July 2011. PLT and I had just spent a lovely weekend with Father Bloopy and Flavs. Watching fireworks from their roof, eating a variety of pot-luck home made dishes and sipping equally well homemade cocktails. It was well past midnight when we left their place. Our reservation with the car service that took us there was for 11. But when we called to confirm they were indeed downstairs waiting for us, they said they would be delayed due to traffic; asked if we could wait a half hour or so. We said we understood and hung out some more. By 12:30am we were exhausted and more than ready to go home. The problem was that our car service had decided to not come pick us up. We were downtown, New York City, well within the barricaded streets where no taxis could enter or exit. Stuck miles from home and no way to get there. I will never forget that evening. PLT and I each waited on a different corner of the block attempting to wave down cabs along with fifty other people. There were tens of thousands of people out in the streets all wanting the same thing. To wave down a cab after watching the fireworks that night. I had predicted this well in advance and hence this is why we had used a car service. To guarantee that we would not be in this situation in the middle of the night. But we were. Stranded.
          My first inclination was to call them a few times and order a car and then not show up. Just to show them the same kind of courtesy. But Princess Little Tree talked me out of it. Said that I shouldn't fight unkindness with unkindness. The "two wrongs don't make a right" argument. So I did nothing but call their customer service department to lodge a complaint. To make matters worse, they don't actually have anyone working in their customer service department. You have to leave a message on their voicemail system and wait for a call back. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone who has a real problem right there in the moment and needs assistance. That would be a nightmare.
          Unlucky for me a few months later I was to discover what happens in those kinds of situations. Against my better judgment

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Once Again Realizing That It Is We Who Are Creating It All

          WOW is all i can say. How i feel. From yesterday's procedure. The processing I did. Was going to post a simple status update and tweet. But i felt that would be irresponsible. That's such a temporary place to sit something so important. So transient and temporary. And this... is too good to handle so casually. Better to place in a spot where as many people as is humanly possible can also benefit from it. Though I don't always believe that a blog entry needs to drag on forever (regardless of what the past ten years' worth of entries might suggest... Ha!) My God can it be this easy? Well truth be told it doesn't actually feel that easy. OK let me elaborate on that for a moment so no one gets confused as to what I'm saying with that. YES - the realization of this reality, the reality, the truth itself is easy. But practicing it, making use of it on a consistent basis, day to day, hour to hour does not yet feel that easy. I hope that people understand what I am saying, understand the difference. In other words, what I realized yet again -- that it is WE who are in reality creating our day to day moment to moment experiences in this physical life -- is an incredible concept, for if it is true, then life surely is way easier than any of us realize. As in EASY. But making use of this realization, of this fact, of this reality, is not that easy at first. You've got to get used to it. And accept it. Allow it. And easy into it like a hot bath. And just give in to how powerfully easy it actually is for us to create every minute of the day as we truly desire it to be.
          Let me explain. Again it has become ridiculously apparent to me. As it always does. That it is all US. All of it. What we are experiencing in almost every moment of every day, in every minute of the day, from the big to the small, from the most minute and unimportant details to the most profound and important events of our lives, is up to US. It is WE who are creating it. We are creating it all based on the beliefs that we are holding onto.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

A Premonition

I'm only going to say this once. And I hesitate to do so. But I dare not NOT say it. Just in case. In fact maybe just by letting it out, we can somehow avoid it. I'm telling you, others, because I don't want Princess Little Tree to be the only I tell. For she's usually the only one I share most of these things with... It's too big a burden for her to carry, both now and if it ever transpires, which we hope and pray it never does. The biggest problem there is that I have honed my intuition so keenly at this point that when I do get a hit and it's so strong that I feel compelled to share it, it almost never doesn't happen. From the smallest of things to the biggest, from the most minute and insubstantial to deeply profound and transformational events, I have developed (or better put discovered and then developed) an intuitive ability so strong that as long as I stay open I can "see" (or "hear" as the case often is) nearly everything that happens to or around us on a 24/7 basis. Whether awake or when sleeping. No it's not necessarily a great thing. It is often fun, true. But it is also equally disturbing at times. Such was the case today. Just now in fact.
It went something like this. A few minutes ago, when I was watching a replay of President Clinton's speech from last night on Politco and the camera flashed to Michelle, I had a premonition. I feel reluctant to say anything further regarding what it was about. I think it's obvious to those that can FEEL beyond themselves. Our president. Something not good. Something completely and utterly horrible. An attempt on his life by someone or some force that is lost in pain, bitterness and wickedness. There is a hatred in the air against president Barack Obama that we have never seen in our lifetimes... Why I don't know... It can't JUST be about his "class warfare" political agenda, though I am sure that is contributing to it. But there must be more to it than that... There's just something that certain people do not like about this man. And for the life of me I cannot see why, for I personally find him to be one of the most noble of any American president or elected leader we've ever had. But plenty of people just don't agree with this assertion.
We must not forget the Gaby Giffords incident just two years ago... This evening we watched her do her best to walk out onto the stage at the Democratic National Convention and struggle to recite the American Pledge of Allegiance. Something I am sure she could have done in her sleep before the tragedy that befell her. An attack on her life and the lives of others for no other reason than the fact that they were Democrats. This is a strange phenomenon, this rage and hatred that is running through the veins of so many who label themselves Republican lately. Personally I couldn't imagine hating anyone enough to want to kill them, or even hurt them. But there is a hate brewing in the heart of some of our brothers and sisters that is sinister now, something that is hard to explain or understand. The reasons not completely apparent except for the most obvious...
The feeling that I get from them sounds something like this: once was one thing... and once was enough. They've put up with it and done their best to be patient and "endure" it. But to some of them, the ones whose hearts are bursting with painful rage and a racist streak so strong that they feel they're going to burst, they just don't feel like they can handle another four years with "that man" as our president. It's more than just not feeling aligned with the politics of a party that you don't agree with. It's a deep seated dislike of the man himself, not for his politics, but for who he is and what he represents. The "dream fulfilled" that so many of us have celebrated since the election of Barack Obama is not part of their American Dream. And it makes them seethe. Unfortunately sometimes some people cannot control this rage. They do things that most of us would never even dare imagine in our own minds, let alone consider taking action on. We've seen it before. It is always shocking.
Now, before we get crazy about this (because my premonitions have a very high rate of return), let me also tell you this: as I sat quietly here and listened to what else my intuition was saying just afterwards, for I did feel a strong need to listen more to see if there was anything else there... it sounded something like this: "Yes, you are right. It is in the air. You are right to have picked up on it. They will try. But they will not be successful. Do your best to stop vibrating it, lest you have a hand in creating it non-deliberatly; even though you picked up on it in consciousness, it doesn't mean that it MUST happen. In fact, like all things, it is still just an idea, up in the air, up for the taking, not yet happened and not necessarily an inevitability... Things can change. Yes it's there... but let it go."
So. There it is. Now you know. Just in case. Like I said, honing our inherent God given ability of Seeing is not always a good time. Sometimes it can be downright shocking, frightening and upsetting. But I do truly believe that it is better to voice the visions when we do hear or see them in our intuitive mode of consciousness. Letting it out. Freeing it so as not to hold it in with resistance, which almost always leads to its persistence. Let us hope that this letting it out is enough.