Wednesday, October 24, 2012

America's New Foreign Policy for the 21st Century

Great #CharlieRose tonight on the future of American foreign policy. Def try to catch it w OnDemand or on the web if this topic is your thing. Several progressive & fresh ideas that have been givens in the activist community for decades are now finally starting to trend in the mainstream w top government officials. The NeoCons have been proved wrong and are being called out for bankrupting America, both financially and morally, as well as for the devastating effects their policies had on America's reputation globally.

It turns out the Obama administration has done an excellent job over the last four years helping to repair that damage and has been leading America towards a more peaceful, diplomatic and aligned foreign policy with other more forward thinking nations. We've still got a long way to go in reversing our reputation as the world's bully-police (think Iran or drone attacks), but progress has been made. Let us pray it continues.

Tonight's program - featuring a round table discussion with four top level national security and/or military advisors - was yet another reminder how important this upcoming election is, specifically in terms of America not allowing old school war mongering and dictatorial ideologies (think the ridiculous and out dated notion of "American Excptionalism") to ever take root in the White House again. Not if we want to truly succeed in the new century; withOUT old fashioned hegemonic wars being waged in multiple countries for no other reason than we're still stuck in the outdated and no longer respected Cold War mentality that dominated our 20th century foreign policy. The basic point being postulated by all men on the panel was that the United States still has a role to play as stabilizer, but no longer in purely dictatorial positions using brute force or military might. That we need instead to work with other allied countries to influence and help bring stability to developing countries, but not get directly involved, and only if and when our presence is actually wanted.

Like I said, these are not new ideas for some of us. Forward thinking scholars and even politicians have been saying these things since America first started becoming the world's worst terrorist organization post World War II; but to hear them being spoken about in public in the mainstream media is a very new trend. Let us hope for all our sakes that the right people are listening.

Eventually they'll have to. Because as many have pointed out, the biggest threat now to America's security is its weak economic state. And at our current and traditional rate of war-starting and other-nation building, along with our old style of defense spending, we are quickly diluting our once very strong American empire. Whole new paradigms for our role in the world need to be researched and considered if we are to maintain the strength and stability on the world stage that we've enjoyed over the last sixty plus years. There are plenty of democracies around the world now, most with stronger economies domestically than the United Stated has. So using the excuse of "liberators" or bringing "freedom and democracy" to other countries, often times uninvited and for overtly transparent ulterior motives just wont work anymore in the new century. Electing a conservative at this time in our history, domestically and globally, might just be the absolute worst thing America could do at this time until so called conservatives make some serious changes to their world view and how they see America's role in that world.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Regarding Truth There Is No Absolute

I don't know how it is possible. I just have a feeling that it is. It is the question I get asked the most regarding my theory that there are very few singular absolutes in the universe, regarding our after-death cosmological beliefs. People have a tough time swallowing the idea that there may be multiple realities co-existing simultaneously in the world now and after the death of the body. They want to believe that what "they" believe is the truth. It is the nature of common-era humankind. And from what we can tell from history this has been trending for thousands of years. Not forever, for we all know from our study of anthropology that there was a time when human beings weren't smart enough to have developed solid belief systems about the after life. In fact, it is known that tens of thousands of years ago, when one member of a tribe would die, the other tribe members would simply leave that person's body there to rot and they'd keep moving, no thought at all about a soul or an after life.
It seems that a belief in the afterlife and all it's inherent subsequent co-beliefs was a more recent development in our evolution. Along with beliefs in an afterlife came beliefs about what that afterlife looked like, how many different places there were there, the prerequisites for attaining the status necessary to get to these different areas of the afterlife, and last but not least the creation of a God that would be the sole judge of who goes where and why. Eventually elaborate rituals were created surrounding the death of our physical body, a variety of them, each different depending upon the geographic location of the people who held the beliefs that created the need for the rituals. All of them based primarily on that people's beliefs in the God they had created and their ideas of the afterlife.
Which leads us to where we are today. Put simply, humankind is at odds with itself in regards to which tribe's view of the afterlife is the "right one", and who's version of God is the "correct one". Wars are fought over these beliefs. Territories are fought over these beliefs -- based on the conviction of how sacred and important these territories are to each tribe's religious belief system. Think Israel/Palestine. Still to this day, as a collective species, we don't know any more about God or the afterlife than we did back in our caveman days when we first started to develop these beliefs. But that does not stop people from doing the damnedest things to defend them.
After more than twenty-five years studying every known idea that has been proffered by humankind about God and Goddess, afterlife or no afterlife, I have come to understand that each has their merit. Each also has their fair share of ridiculousness. It is the nature of creating belief systems about things that we know nothing about. Christians for instance have a good idea historically that the man that is called Jesus of Nazareth existed. But of his life and the God and afterlife he allegedly spoke of, we know very little. In fact there really isn't anything about it that can be historically or scientifically proved. The foundation of the entire belief system, other than the fact that the man Jesus existed, rests solely on another belief system humankind invented, something that is called "faith".
Put simply, the idea that we do not need historical or scientific explanation or proof for something in order to believe it. This is a very useful invention, perhaps one of humankind's most useful. It is convenient. Especially when attempting to get large numbers of people to believe in something that there is no proof for. Whoever came up with the idea was a genius.
The other day a fan wrote in to tell me that she did not agree with my religious beliefs because she worships the "Divine Creatress", the Goddess, that in fact she is the reincarnation of Mary Magdelene. She went on to say that Jesus appeared to her in several visions as "the evil one", Lucifer's brother. This was a new one. I had heard that the Mormon's believe that Jesus and Lucifer were brothers. But I had never heard that Jesus was evil. Good enough I told her. I don't judge. Who's to tell anyway? When all of it is founded upon nothing in reality. Except faith. And belief. So the Mormons believe that there are three heavens, that there is no hell, that if you get to the biggest best heaven that it is paved in gold and that you even get your own private planet all to yourself; that God and Jesus walked the earth together as men once. Where you might ask? In America. But of course. And where might the new Jerusalem be when Jesus returns in all of his glory? In America. But of course. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Muslims believe that Abraham did indeed receive instructions from God to take his son to the desert to sacrifice him only to be relieved of the duty only seconds before he was about to do the evil deed. But they believe that the son in question was Ishmael, not Issac. Who's right? Who knows? That's the real answer. Truth is, we have no proof of any of it. Scholars, if you can call them that, are torn right down the middle. Perhaps Abraham attempted to sacrifice both his sons at one time or another and thus both parties are right.
Regardless, my view is that rather than worry about who's right and who's wrong, why not allow that each individual might be creating their own little world and all of it's experiences all on their own, perhaps with a God or without, depending on what they believe, and that each of these realities that they envision could be true. Multiple dimensions of reality for a multitude of people. Multiple universes even. Again, who knows? If someone believes in reincarnation, as Buddhists and Hindus do, then they in turn will experience being reincarnated at the time of their death, time and time again until they finally decide to change their mind about that belief. That doesn't necessitate that ALL of us will be reincarnated. Not if we don't believe in it we won't.
Same with heaven and hell. I know plenty of people who don't even believe in heaven. At least they claim not to. Well what if for them there is no heaven waiting for them. Depending on what they "really" believe at the time of their passing from this world, that will be what they create experiencing. For them, those that don't believe in a heaven or an afterlife of any kind, perhaps their brain will just turn off and they will go to sleep forever. What of their soul you ask? What if the system we have created is so vastly superior to anything that we can imagine that it is even possible to NOT create having a soul if one so chooses. Then again, let's be real here. There is much more likely a chance that there is no soul than that there is. Human beings, living things, possessing that which we call "a soul" is a human invention. Brought about by the terrifying fear of our own mortality. So logic and reason is on the side of us not really possessing anything other than very creative imaginations housed in brains that when finally turned off, turn off forever. No soul. No heaven. No afterlife.
But then again, perhaps it's deeper than that. More advanced by this point. Perhaps as we imagine these things, we bring them into being through the conscious creation of them. I don't personally believe in hell. It doesn't fit my own personal cosmological constructs. Doesn't fit my idea of a loving God, the idea I have of God creating such a thing is oxymoronic. It doesn't line up. So for me, no worries. No hell. But I do believe in a sort of heaven. Like most people, I have an idea of it. They say that nearly 80% of modern day humans do. That's actually a small number when you think about it. It leaves almost two billion people out there not believing they will go to heaven when they die. But perhaps for them they believe they will be reincarnated instead. And so they will.
The point is that in a multi-dimensional universe, in a universe with an infinite number of dimensional possibilities, there is plenty of room for people to experience anything they want to after the death of their body. For all we know, the heaven dimension could be just above or below the hell dimension, with the Purgatory dimension, for those that feel a need to believe in such a place, sitting right next to it, or in between it, and the reincarnation lobby could be right next to that. Think of giant spheres, intertwined together.... touching but not interfering with one another. One of those reality spheres would obviously have to be the physical world, the world that we are in right this very minute. Another one could be the world of spirits and angels, another dimension entirely.
If one is looking for a way to view the world that is as inclusive and tolerant as possible of all our fellow inhabitants and their various philosophical and religious viewpoints, this is the most intelligent and logical explanation there can be to help explain how we've managed to create so many contradicting beliefs about what lay on the other side of the physical world. Of course there is a damn good chance that we are just inventing and imagining all of it. But why go there? Unless you want to. But just in case you don't want to, and you long to believe that there is a loving God somewhere in the universe that is waiting to embrace you after the death of your physical body, modern day physics -- especially Super String Theory -- allows for you to believe in such things, for in order for the theory to even function properly it needs there to be at least ten, eleven or twelve dimensions in the known universe.
We know of at least three of them: up and down, side to side, forward and backward; and some posit that time is the fourth dimension, though I personally do not subscribe to this idea. Point being that there are plenty of other dimensions in the universe that we still know nothing about. One of them could easily be heaven. One of them could be that waiting station where people go before they reincarnate. One of them could be the realm of angels and the undead, so called spirits who haven't quite integrated into their new form yet. One of them could be that hell that some people speak of. Remember, WE might not believe in hell, but if enough people do, even if it's a small number of people (and as frightening as it is, that number is not actually that small), then there is reason to believe that through conscious creation they have found a way to create this hell dimension for themselves.
Some people believe that spirit guides watch over them. Others believe that the spirits of their dead relatives watch over them. Because we have no proof of this, because we've never seen these spirits, this would require that they have their own dimension that they exist in, much like our 3D world that we call "physical reality" is its own dimension. This theory allows that those who believe in this spiritual realm are right, that they're correct, at least for them they are. If they walk around in this life believing that grandma is looking out for them from the spirit world, so it is. And scientifically it is absolutely plausible now.
What I do not and cannot believe is that there is any one place where everyone on planet earth (and other planets with life on them) goes to -- just because one small group of people say so. It just doesn't pass the litmus test for reality creation. Consciousness is bigger than that. If any of us are right, then all of us are right. If one of us is wrong, then we're all wrong. I tend to favor the side that says that somehow we are all right in our own way, that through our very desire for and creation of the idea of what an afterlife might look and be like, that we have created such an afterlife. In consciousness at the very least. Which trust me, I know is a slippery slope. Because one could then easily ask "what is consciousness if not just electrical signals in and emanating from the brain of organic life forms?"
But let us imagine for a moment that through the power of consciousness we have created not just ourselves, but the entire universe that we exist in.... That consciousness is not in the universe, nor of the universe, but rather that the universe is a construct of consciousness. A living breathing cosmological manifestation of consciousness. Cosmic consciousness being the grandaddy of them all, the collective of all consciousness that has ever been, come together to create that which we might label "God" or "Source" or "The Force" or even the more modern "collective consciousness". Each of us a piece of this collective, at once separate from it and still a part of it. And that through our collective creative powers as one giant heaving mass of consciousness that we have discovered reality creation. This would explain a lot. At the very least it helps us understand the prevalence of the idea of God, and the very creation of the universe itself.
More later. Always more.

Going Deep

Last Screening: RED LIGHTS
The movie RED LIGHTS starring Sigourney Weaver and Robert Deniro (in a role custom tailored for him) is a semi-suspenseful thrill-ride clocking in at just under two hours about paranormal phenomenon. The whole time I was watching the film I noticed a slight uneasiness within, something I am not unaccustomed to when watching mainstream Hollywood movies. I have rarely ever watched a movie without this feeling. It is a rare occurrence. Unlike great music or pure visual art like painting or even a brilliant sermon or performance art piece, I always find myself wanting when watching classic Hollywood blockbusters. Even moreso when attempting to watch the uber-hot trending independent films that are all the rage these days.
"What is it old boy?" i asked myself this evening. "Why the dis-ease?"
"It has a chance", I answered, "there's something here, but it's just not going deep enough. And I fear it won't. They almost never do. They need to get in and out within less than two hours, an arbitrary figure, and like everyone that's exactly what they're going to do. They're going to follow the standard screenwriting 101 class script for "how to make a hit movie" -- Setting, Conflict, Climax, Resolution, but not go any deeper. That's what's wrong". (And indeed they did, with little surprise, shock, awe, or anything else that elicited an OMG! moment). Very few do. I can only think of a few... Lars Von Triers, Terrence Mallick, Scorsese now and then, the Coen brothers, those other brothers....
And then I heard the voice again. Surprisingly, rather than an agreeing sigh, it answered me with a verifiably impactful and relevant retort. "Well maybe instead of always feeling unsatisfied as a media consumer for things never going deep enough, have you ever contemplated you doing something to fill this void? After all you're one of the only people standing on the spinning sphere who didn't think that Harry Potter was all that, dare you admit it, but it's true. We both know it. You watched all 7 or 8 in a row and were left wondering what all the fuss was about. And trust me, there's something to that. You're not the only you know. You may be the only one who you've told, the only who's shared this with you. But there are plenty. Who feel just like you. I would dare say that there is definitely a vacuum of sorts out there for something that "goes deep"....
And rather than writing and writing, thousands upon thousands of pages -- what's it been now? since you typed the first words of The Adventures of Fishy? Twenty-five years. Yes. Hard to believe. And what have you amassed? Something close to six-thousand pages. And yet you are still waiting for that "special something" to jump off the page and tell you it's time to release it. Frankly I think you're cutting yourself off short. Go deep. But do it now. Stop waiting for the perfect sentence in the perfect paragraph in the perfect book. At least think about it. How long will you do this to yourself? O.K. let's take that back. You aren't doing anything to yourself. You're a perfectionist. That's your problem. You could very well Salinger yourself till the day you die, amass twenty-thousand pages of typed manuscript and have them all burned at your funeral. Or not. It's up to you.
At least think about it. How many books have you started or written? 27 at last count. And you take it as seriously as anything else in your life. Yet you do nothing with them publicly. I guess what I am saying is I am just not sure what your plan is. You said when we were younger that once you got older and your music career started waning, once you got married and had kids, that you would then begin releasing the books. That was twenty-five years ago. You're married now. Yes. Believe it or not you are. Albeit not in a very traditional sense, but you are. And no, you don't have the kids yet, and no your music career doesn't appear to be waning -- in fact it's only getting bigger as far as we can tell yes? And that's a good thing, no? The point is that sometimes things don't always work out exactly as we think they're going to. So you don't have the kids yet. And you're still playing rockstar, longer than you thought you would. But what I'm trying to say is that we both know that the world has changed a lot since you first had that vision. Long gone are the days when it would be uncharacteristically unpopular for a rocker to also be a writer. Plenty have tried it. Tell me you haven't scoffed at the attempts so far, knowing what you have secretly up your sleeve... What are you waiting for?
Fine. I hear you. You and I both know though that this is all about time. Not timing. But time. You and I both know that i simply don't have the time to do both. A new album about to be released, and all the accompanying activities that surround such an event, including yet another dreaded tour etc. etc., and at the same time three or four more new albums currently being recorded right now. How the hell am I supposed to also set to work on opening one of these things up and editing it to the point where I would ever feel that it was good enough to release? You've seen how I approach music. The perfectionism. The endless years attempting to make it perfect. And I have to be honest with you. I approach music like breathing, or eating. It's a cake walk for me compared to writing. I let myself off the hook with the music because I know I can do it in my sleep. We don't tell people that. And I'm not saying we don't work hard on it, because we do. Do you know what I'm saying? Yes. I know you do. It's just so damned easy for me, making music, that as much as it may appear that I am OCD perfectionist about it, that it pales in comparison to how I would be with writing. It's different.
How is it different? Good question. I'll tell you how it's different. It comes down to that statement Ginsberg once made about poetry. "One has to know whether a poem has been written to stand alone, or whether it was written to accompany music. There is a different standard for poetry that is composed to stand on it's own without music." I know what he meant. Lyrics as poetry nearly always suck, except in the rare cases, Paul Simon, Joni, Lennon, Springsteen, Townsend, Dylan, and even they take the easy way out sometimes due to the necessities placed on the poem to fit into the confines of the music. So he gave more leeway to lyrics than to poetry written to stand all on it's own. And so too do I. We pardon the author for the contrived rhymes, for the predictable, for the cliches. Because we know that the lyrics have to serve a secondary force, the music.
And it goes even deeper than that if you must know. For me at least. Let me say this first before I forget and I will come back to that. It is only in the last five years that I feel that I have started to compose semi-decent poems as literature for song. Perhaps only a few hundred or so. Probably not even that. Only the last three albums. Before that I was a hack. A terrible lyric writer. As predictable as the rest of them. Worse. There were exceptions of course, but it was really only on the All Your Heroes and the Ballad On Third Avenue albums that I started to compose lyrics as literature, that could stand alone as poems without the aid of music. And that's a perfect segue to what I was about to say. For as hard as I appear to work on making the music aspect of my work as perfect as it can be, you and I both know that it is an art form that comes ridiculously easy to me. We both know that the music, all of it, the setting, the arrangement and production, the singing... all of it helps to mask any weaknesses in the lyrics.
But with the writing, with all we know, with all we've read, with all we've seen, in any and all formats, we've seen it all, we've read the best, and that's what we're up against. And there will be no music to lean on, no music to sit the writing in, to crutch it. It will be naked, out there on its own, alone, judged solely on its own merit. And that frightens the hell out of you? Well, yeah, yes, of course it does. Why else would someone spend twenty-five years writing thousands of pages and twenty-something different books and not ever release one of them? OK there, I've said it. Hell yeah it scares me. How do we ever get to the point where we believe that ONE thing is good enough to go out there on it's own? You know? As a whole, the entire package, the thousands and thousands of pages, or unfinished books, one after the other, the idea of the collection of all the ideas... there's something safe in that. Something noble in it... Because none of them have been released on their own, by itself. No judge. Because there's no defendant. What happens when we release the defendant? Put him out there to face the scrutiny of the masses?
Look, I hear you, and I could sit here and debate and type with you for hours till we fall asleep with our head resting on this keyboard, drooling away, the mad scientist and his invisible alter ego. But the truth is that all we've come away with here is two minor obstacles from what i can tell. One, with how busy you are with your music, you don't see how you could ever make the time to edit and finish one of the books. You'd like to wait a few more years, collect a few more thousand pages, and wait till we're older and have more time. RIght? Right. And two, you're worried that you'll never be satisfied enough once you do start trying to edit and complete one of the books to see it through to publish. Yes? Yes.
The first one I admit is a bit dodgy. Frankly I don't see how you do what you even with the music. Working on four new albums at once. Not only do you amaze me, you exhaust both of us. I grant you that. You would have to take a small hiatus from the music in order to dedicate all of your time to the writing. This is true. Perhaps after this next album and tour are over. Yes? Think it over. And concerning the second objection you have, this fear of it not being perfect, you and I both already feel the answer don't we? You felt it a few minutes ago when I did. (Yes, I'm with you, still no one has developed a mechanism for us to be able to get down our thoughts as fast as we think them. What we type is miles behind what we've already thought. It IS a pain in the ass, but deal with it.) Point is, we both got the idea at the same time. And then a few minutes later you thought of Krapp's Last Tapes by Becket. A real piece of shite. And yet there it was in one of your literature books in college.
And that pretty much sums it up doesn't it? Need we even say it? The world is filled with crap. Some good some not so good, most mediocre at best. People still consume it. Other people still critique it. But all of it somehow gets released. You can't spend our entire life NOT publishing one thing just because you're afraid that it won't be good enough. It's not fair. Think of how much time we've spent writing. Think about that. We've spent more time writing than anything else we've done except sleep or breathe. Way more than music. More than eating, more than anything. In fact, we've spent more time writing than sleeping now that I think about it. So if your secret plan is to just sit on it till we die, then I'm out. What does that even mean? You're out? I'm not even sure who YOU are... So I wouldn't go making blind threats like that. Well, you know what I mean. You know exactly what I mean.
You know how easy it would be to stop all this? Do you have any idea how much I would rather be relaxing right now? Rather than this at 11:45 at night. Sitting in front of the tube, just mind numbingly enjoying myself, vegetating, hibernating, being a human. You're talking about sitting around waiting for the end? Doing nothing? Like so many... Like so many... You and your pride. Let that go man. Listen, if we are so great, if we are so gifted, if we are so compelled by unnatural forces to complete great and noble acts and deeds of immense proportion with our works or art, then why the fuck don't we release them? THAT is what I am saying. If we are NOT going to release them, if it is always going to be like this, sitting here typing away till sunrise for no one but us, I'm out. I would rather be doing regular things. Normal people things. Yes, there, I said it. There has to be a bigger cause than just our own selfish desire to try to compose what you consider "great writing". Or even "good writing". At least try it. That's all I'm saying.
This whole thing started because we had both agreed to watch a movie. You had worked hard all day and you wanted to relax. So you search and you search and you search for "something deep" while I just wait and wait and wait for you... And I have more patience for this annoying aspect of your's than anyone else you know, granted, right? Right. Ok, and then when you do finally find something you think might be "good enough for us" you spend the whole time unsatisfied. So I whispered to you that it is now time for you to at least try to fill that void. Fill it for yourself, and perhaps you will also be filling it for others as well. That's what I'm saying. At this point that's all I'm saying. Just try. It can't be any worse than sitting in front of yet another movie bored and critiquing it to death as to how you'd make it better. If you're so confident that you can, then do it.
What about Charles Kaufman? Or Paul Thomas Anderson? Or Wes Anderson? Seriously? You're going to go there now? Damn I thought I had you. Yes, I know. All more than admirable and qualified peers. Your problem is that you see one person who does something stellar, who may be better than you and you immediately relegate us to second rate and don't even bother trying. Why don't you do that with your music? You can't tell me that you think you're better than every goddamn other singer songwriter on earth? No not at all. But I do believe that I've carved a niche for myself that is singular, something that can stand on its own in that world. Then do the same with writing. Look, if Paul Thomas Anderson allowed himself to be stymied by the work of Charles Kaufman, or even Woody Allen, you forgot to mention him by the way, then we would never have the privilege of experiencing his work, would we? See? Are they the same? No, each has carved their own little niche. And perhaps so too can you. And me. Fishy. Perhaps there is a place for us too in that world. And lest I remind you, we both know you're starting to tire of touring and all that. Think of the peace of mind we might get from just being able to sit and write everyday, spending more time with the family, less traveling, less interacting with people all the time, less hair and makeup and wardrobe and photoshoots and video shoots. Tell me you aren't as tired of these shenanigans as I am.
I am. I know you are. So then it's settled. Yes? Yes. We begin tonight. Or better put, we began tonight. For now, we end. We've done good here. We accomplished something. The time thing we'll work out at a later date. Once you're done with THE GREAT MISTAKE album we switch to writing. In fact, Infinito and Jade are already working on turning these Diaries into eBooks. See how that goes. Let them release them. Don't pull the plug like you always do. Allow them to be released as is. Warts and all. Other rockers have done worse. Much worse. There's good stuff in here. Let it out. Release it. See where it takes us. From there we can talk about the Personal Expression Age book. My God have you milked the shit out of that one. Eight years since its inception and you've still not released it? Fishy, let me close by saying this. You don't get anywhere by being a "never ran". You don't even get to be an "also ran". No second place. No third place. No Silver or Bronze. No honorary mention. No team spirit ribbon. Nothing. You get nothing if you don't at least try.
OK OK. I gotcha. I know you do. Shall we end? Yes, for God's sake please. Good enough. Thank you. No, thank you. Bout effing time my friend.

One More Week On the Sidewalks of New York

Last Screening: Sidewalks of New York. The 2001 film by writer/director Edward Burns. I have always had a soft spot for Edward Burns. Besides just the fact that he's a fellow Edward. There's something very Woody Allenesqe about him, his love of New York, his casual street realism and story-telling style. This isn't one of those add to a Pinterest Board to be commemorated forever kind of movies. I'd love to say it was, because I get the feeling that Burns would be a great guy to be friends with, and if we knew each other, in the way I am friends with The Poet for instance, then sure, I'd give this film a two big thumbs up. Just for the sheer fact that they were even able to start and finish an entire movie. I mean, that in and of itself still blows me away. Filmmaking seems like such a gigantic achievement, compared to making an album I mean. That's my only reference point. It just seems like a giant undertaking. So in that regard, sure, kudos to Burns and company for the accomplishment. But other than that, there wasn't much here that each of us doesn't already experience in our own day to day lives. And yes I dig that that's Burns' style in general, day to day realism, but I still believe that a really good film should transcend common man's day to day life.

What the film did do for me though, what Edward Burns films always do, is remind us why we love New York so much. Burns is a real New Yorker. One of those "born, bred and never gonna leave New York" types. Like me I guess except that my relationship with New York has always been more transient, on and off, off and on. My favorite city in America hands down. But for whatever reason, I always find myself here for a while and then gone for a while. Such is the case now. It is true. The rumors. That we're moving for a while. Not sure for how long. A few months is my guess. At the very least, we're leaving this apartment and neighborhood. Can't say I am going to miss it. I've never liked this neighborhood.

I'll tell you one little tidbit of useful data I've learned, and there's been plenty since this grand adventure started. If you want to keep something private, don't tell a soul. If you really want to keep something completely secret, between just you and you, the key is to not tell one single person. I honestly haven't told anyone except only those that need to know, like our leasing company, and a few minutes ago the freaking UPS guy confirmed what I had been suspicious of for weeks: everyone is already talking about our leaving here. When it makes it's way to the UPS guy, you know everyone knows.

In regards to our family and friends, I've managed to spend almost three months straight here without flying anywhere else, which is strange for me, since normally I fly in and out and don't spend more than a few days to a week or two here at a time now, I've packed up an entire four bedroom apt and not told one of my friends that I'm leaving. Call it denial perhaps. Or just being too busy. I just can't bare to talk about it, let alone to tell anyone. I'd rather just go, do what I have to do, and come back in the Spring. We'll find a new place and go back to bicoastal living. Eventually live here year round. Realistically we have less than two years left till we will be able to live here full time year round.

That was the plan originally. When I first moved here. Remember that? Long time readers will. And for many years that's what I did. But marrying Princess Little Tree changed that. I knew it would going in. You can't marry someone and live apart all the time. It just isn't natural. I just didn't realize that it would ever come to this. Having to make a choice between here and anywhere else. But life throws us curveballs sometimes. Wherever Princess Little Tree is now is where home is for me. And for now she needs to be in Seattle. Trying to maintain two homes on opposite coasts was challenging. Not just financially. But in every way. God I hate that flight. 12 freaking hours door to door, between our two homes. That's one of the many things I am more than happy to be saying goodbye to. This neighborhood too. I've never liked it. None of us did, when we first moved here. One by one everyone left the apt. Out of the four of us who first moved in together here back in January of 2007. None of us, despite how much we loved the apartment, were too keen on the neighborhood.

It's weird looking back now. Four of us move in together, into this giant Manhattan apartment, just about six years ago. And one by one we each left. I was the last to hang on. And why not? Where else are you going to find a four bedroom apartment in Manhattan? And for a decent price? Problem was I just could never get into the neighborhood. It's always given me a sick feeling inside, walking around outside. I know. You could easily jump on the subway or into a cab and be anywhere in less than ten minutes. But the truth of living in New York is that wherever you live, wherever your apartment is, is where you spend most of your time. We don't drive here. We walk everywhere. Or take subways or taxis. But most of the time, your hood is your hood. And I've never felt comfortable here. So when the lease came up for renewal this year and they wanted to raise the rent yet again, this time for $200 a month, it was a no brainer. We're paying double now compared to what we started paying when we first moved in six years ago. So let's pack it all up, hunker down out in Seattle where the family is and focus on some building and storing up of resources, and come back in the Spring and find a new place. I'm keeping my office here. So it's still home.

That's one of the great things about New York. You can leave for a while, but you never really leave. Your heart stays. The Candyman left New York for over a year back in '08, when he took that job in the UK. But before we knew it he was back. Catherine Darlington moved to Switzerland for over a year and didn't even give up her apartment here. That's how it is. Once you live here, if you like it that is, and most people seem to, you always live here. Even if you leave for a while. The sidewalks of New York are always beckoning. No matter how long you're gone for, New York is still calling you to come back. New York is still home. From that moment on, you're a New Yorker. No matter where else you live in the U.S. New York will always feel like home.

So we've got a week left here. The apartment is almost entirely empty now. Most of the furniture and belongings either sold or packed up in big boxes, leaning up against the living room wall. I'm right back to where I was when I first moved here all those years ago. Just me on a mattress on the floor with not much else around me. Full circle. I walk around the empty space in the dark and quiet of night and feel a subtle but strong feeling of sadness circling around inside me. This isn't a choice I really wanted to make. It was, to be truthful, one of necessity; not preferred. But that's part of growing up isn't it? Making the hard choices. Doing what seems right. Being responsible.

Don't get me wrong. I love our home in Seattle. Who wouldn't? It's like the freaking Playboy Mansion for God's sake. But for all intents and purposes I feel at home there about as much as I would in prison. Or Kansas. And I've never even been to Kansas. Or prison. Which goes to show just how out of my element I feel out there. The three hour time difference really messes with me too. You always feel like you're playing catch up with the rest of the world. Really just with the East Coast. But that's where everything is happening. At least that's what you're trained to feel if you grew up on this coast. Put it like this. If you want to watch the news everyday, which I have been apt to do since becoming an adult, you need to tune in at 3PM. Right smack in the middle of the day. Because they show it live, as they should. 6pm here in Eastern Standard Time is 3pm on the West Coast. Talk about weird. And if you want to get up with the rest of the world, which has never really been my thing, in America that is, it's 6am, not 9am, on the West Coast that is; or you're going to lose the first three hours of the day. For a night owl like me, that's nearly impossible, let alone challenging. My whole inner clock gets thrown off. I start feeling lost, like I'm adrift at sea with no one but just me, alone in a little boat at sea floating around in pitch darkness, cold and lonely, fog covering everything but the light from my smart phone. A real sense of not belonging to anything starts taking me over.

So yeah, the whole damn move is bittersweet. To say the least. As I sit here on the mattress on the floor, which I've made my home more often than not since becoming a so called "adult", writing this, I find myself filled with despair and longing. And I haven't even left yet. I am sure I will feel different once I am home with Princess Little Tree again.

Speaking of PLT, this month marks our tenth anniversary of first meeting each other and falling in love. Crazy right? If you're a long time reader, or are coming to the Diaries in eBook form and have flown through these pages quickly, over a period of just a few days, then it will feel like just yesterday to you when Princess Little Tree and I first met and this whole adventure first began. Who would think that ten years later SHE would have been the ONE? But as G2 wrote to me a few years ago, when he first heard the news that we were getting married, "Man that's just perfect. You couldn't ask for a better happy ending to this story. No matter who else it could have or would have been, no one would have been better than Princess Little Tree if Fishy were going to get married."

And indeed I did. Get married that is. To her. Of all the girls that have graced these pages over the last ten years.... it was Princess Little Tree all along. One thing I know to be true, something I had to learn through living it I think, is that Princess Little Tree is the kindest, most loving, caring, generous, gracious, sincere and considerate person I've ever known. She was back when I first met her, and she still is today. There was a reason why after all those years holding out for the right one, the best one, the only one, that I finally ended up marrying. If not for PLT, there would never have been Fishy getting married. And thus this whole story would have taken a different turn. Who knows what would have happened. But it wouldn't have been this. And for now this is way better than I could have ever imagined.

So yes, the sidewalks of New York will beckon for the next few months, as I find myself a visitor here more often than a resident. But I have a strong feeling that that will be a very brief and fleeting moment in the life of The Ambassador. New York, like few other things in life, is just too damn special to not have in one's life for very long.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Look at these pictures. There's a high probability that they will mean nothing to you. If you were then told that they were stills from a current Hollywood movie and asked to guess what well-known and beloved cult-famous writer/director might be the responsible party for said movie, there is still a high probability that most would not be able to name the person. But for those who would be able to name the cult-hero writer/director just from looking at the color and composition of these photo stills, there is a high probability that a slow moving but palpable excitement would soon start washing over and bubbling within you from the realization that you might be discovering that the man in question, he is a man, has a new movie out. For if you are able to identify his work from a few simple photo stills, compared to most other people -- who even if presented with his name wouldn't feel anything at all except the temporary relief and relaxation caused by the clearance of slight moments of not-knowing something, in this case perhaps a sparse knowledge of one or two of his prior film releases (the ones that hit big in the mainstream (yes even the best of us have one or two of our works hit big in the mainstream once in a while)) -- then you know that a new film by HIM, anything by him, even if animated, is more than cause for intoxicated like celebration. For he is brilliant; too young still to label a genius perhaps, but brilliant for sure.

His name is Wes Anderson. His past films include The Royal Tennenbaums, Darjeeling Limited, Rushmore, and the ever popular, always entertaining Life Aquatic with Steve Zisou. The new film we are speaking of is entitled Moonrise Kingdom. From the moment the title credit screen appears it is obvious you have entered the strange and beautiful world that only Wes Anderson can create. Often imitated, but never matched or duplicated in beauty, deadpan wit, dry humor, and as always breathtakingly unique and singular sets and cinematography. Besides some of the most creative writing and character development we've ever had the privilege to witness in the making.

Moonrise Kingdom is no different. All the usual character actors are here. From Bill Murray (he's appeared in every Anderson movie so far) to Jason Schwartzman. Oddly Angelica Houston is missing (she also in every film he's ever made (we are excluding his first film -- Bottle Rocket -- because it was made while he was still in film school and was actually a school project). Also longtime collaborators Luke and Owen Wilson are missing as well. But that's ok. Anderson has added in their place Kate Blanchet's twin sister Tilda Swinton and Bruce Willis, as well as long missing from action as of late Edward Norton. All and all as usual it's a stellar cast Wes has assembled. Like Woody Allen one gets the idea that being in a Wes Anderson film is an honor akin to, though probably more artistically satisfying than, receiving an Academy Award. Something you wait in line and/or pray for.

And for good reason. Though his movies lately have become more and more insular and sometimes nearly suffocatingly so, they're still some of the most special things this side of art. One never knows where a Wes Anderson story is going, in what direction; it is the opposite of big budget Hollywood movie making. It's cerebral fun and titillating, like one of those giant plastic hamster obstacle courses that humans seem to love more than their pet hamsters, but for the mind heart and spirit.

Moonrise is all that and more. Not as deep or mentally stimulating as The Royal Tennenbaums, nor as psychologically reductionist or far reaching as Life Aquatic or Darjeeling Limited. But that's more than half it's charm. It still makes the same statements about the human condition without the drama and pathos. It's willing and able to drive home the message, Anderson's apparent general life's work message, about life as child, adolescent, adult, misfit, oddball and human while having fun with it; something that Darjeeling Limited hinted Anderson may be on the verge of losing for good.

If you're fan of his work you'll love the movie. If you're just a film or art lover and aren't yet familiar with his work then you just might soon discover what all the fuss is about and feel compelled to host your own private Wes Anderson movie marathon. It will be a task well worth undertaking. It's not often that we get to witness first hand, in real time, historically great and significant artists complete their life's great works before our eyes in our own lifetimes. But with Wes Anderson one gets the feeling that that's exactly what we are having the opportunity to do. A must see for sure.

Friday, October 19, 2012

From Hot to Lukewarm

An incredible time had by all. Would be the only way to describe the last six days or so regarding the whole band flying in to perform two separate shows for this year's CMJ Music Marathon 2012. I will assume I have gone back in time to report on the week's events in more detail in prior entries, so let us leave it at that for now. We flat out killed it at The new Cutting Room on Thursday night. No other way to put it. Every cliched literary platitude one could muster could easily be called up to describe the feelings elicited by and the effects and results of that evening and not a one would come close to skirting the edge of hyperbole. There were moments where I felt as though I were flying on that stage. There were other moments where I felt like I could do no wrong. The entire thirty minutes felt like one giant hug shared by 600+ people, between the audience and ourselves up on that stage. Sweat and glitter, heavy syncopated rhythms, ridiculously loud killer guitar riffs, poignant soft whispers from our voices, melodies singing and soaring through the air, pure heavenly music both sonically and visually emanated from that stage and the five of us up there so powerful and with such force that it created a damn near perfect storm of undeniable pleasure. Both sexual and sensual, it was a love fest at best, for those who were already familiar with the band. For those who had never experienced the band before all one had to do was just scan the faces of the audience either during or after the set to see these giant sweaty heartfelt smiles beaming from them all to recognize that something truly magical had transpired.

Perhaps The Penguin, head of licensing at Fieldhouse/BMG, said it best when he came running up to me backstage immediately following the show, "Wow man! You guys really caught something magical up there Fishy! Holy shit man! You killed it up there!" (Since the club has not yet opened, they are still only testing out the sound system and thus the evening was plagued by sound problems, our set not excluded; so the Penguin was assumably referring to the almost mythical skills with which we were able to put on a better than great show considering how many problems had been experienced by everyone else who had preceded us.) I didn't want to burst his bubble or sound insincerely boastful, but the truth of the matter was that we really didn't do anything different than we ever do during a live performance on a stage of that size to a crowd of that size. Transcendence always puts on that kind of show when given the right kind of setting and equipment. It wouldn't have been fair to him to explain that to him. It is true. We soared, slammed, nailed it, knocked them dead. Broke many legs. But it was business as usual. It is why after ten years I am still playing with these same four guys, regardless of the interpersonal conflicts and problems that we've encountered over the years. Together we just have that special something that words cannot describe.

Needless to say, we now cannot wait to do it again. Word is that we are about to embark on a three week tour of at least 15 cities if not more. I hope it happens sooner than later.

The real meat of this entry must be short and sweet, like a good cut of filet mignon. Right to the point. For let us not forget that we are also smack dab in the middle of the Ambassador moving out of his humble though luxurious mini-mansion in Manhattan. So time is to say the least our most precious commodity at this moment. Which, for those who are wondering why there have been so few postings as of late, especially current ones, should help shed more light on the scarce visitations by yours truly to this sacred space.

Last Screening: 2016: Obama. As with all "controversial" social, cultural, political, scientific, religious or economic films, I must admit to being just as excited as the next person at the thought of finally having a chance to sit down and give this movie a spin. Perhaps it would be mind blowing. Perhaps it would reveal some never before heard factoids that might shed some light on who Barack Obama is or what his true mission is when it comes to leading the once great but presently battered nation of America. Perhaps that's what all the fuss was about.

As it turns out, there was no real fuss being made about the film. Panned by critics as being lukewarm at best, Fahrenheit 9/11, the Academy Award winning documentary about G.W. Bush by Michael Moore, it was not. In fact it wasn't even close. The only fuss being made about the film at all was by already swayed hard right (so called)conservatives who will jump for joy at any dig at the current president of the United States. The advertisements and trailer for the movie feature very large emboldened words like "THE MUST SEE MOVIE OF THE YEAR THAT EVERY ONE IS TALKING ABOUT"... but underneath these exciting quotes are no citations, no magazine or newspaper sources from reviews. Just words the producers of the movie decided to add themselves in an attempt to dredge up some praise or the very least some controversy to make the film more exciting to potential viewers. The problem is that not many people are talking about the movie. And for good reason.

There just isn't much of a movie there to talk about. In one hour and forty minutes the film managed to surprisingly NOT reveal one new fact or piece of information for those in the know. Nothing. Nada. In fact, it was by all accounts quite innocuous. Especially considering how much excitement it trumped up in the right wing crowd. One would think that the film revealed that President Barack Obama was some sort of Communist Muslim dictator about to steer the entire the country toward dead on socialism or sell us out to Al Queada. No such luck. Instead the writer/director, Dinesh D'Souza, a hard righty himself all his life, spent the first thirty minutes of the film talking about his own life story. Why I still can't quite figure out. Boring, superfluous, a waste of good hard drive space and human talent... all come to mind in regards to this film even being made.

I would have loved to report that the movie is a "must see" and that no American citizen should be allowed to vote in this year's General Election without first seeing it. But again, there just wasn't anything to it. To begin with, as we have already established numerous times in past explorations of this topic, NOTHING that is spoken or written by someone who voluntarily admits to being a card carrying member of either American political party in the USA can or should be taken as anything other than propaganda for their favorite little club of choice. If they are already sold out and beholden to a political party, whether right or left, then their journalistic integrity is questionable and dubious. Their agenda is not to inform but to advertise. We've concluded this several times in past entries here. So no need to say any more than that. You just can't trust the advice of someone who is trying to sell you one thing and at the same time trying to talk you out of something else. For their agenda is clear: it is more advertising than pure love of informing. And that is a big problem with this movie. D'Souza gets paid to please and entertain the right wing section of the American electorate. That's his job. So there's no use barking up his tree looking for objective data.

But what about entertainment? You know, that exciting rush we felt when we learned that President George Bush secretly flew out all the members of Osama Bin Laden's family after closing down all the airports in the United States right after September 11th.... That was good stuff. Granted, the man had a clear agenda to slam the RIght and bolster the Left, but he did it in such an informative and entertaining way that even the most conservative among us soon found themselves questioning the motives and methods of this strange duck of a president we had in G.W.

No such entertainment was to be had in 2016: Obama. Everyone with a brain their skull already knows the National Debt has risen to the 16 trillion mark by now. It's just not news. D'Souza spends most of the movie talking with alleged "experts" like psychiatrists about what potential feelings or ideas a person like president Obama might harbor given the fact that he only met his father a few times. I mean, that's not a joke or an exaggeration. This is just about all he had in his arsenal. It was clearly meant to be a paid smear campaign against the current president in order to try to oust him from the White House for a second term so business mogul turned politician Mitt Romney could get in there, and that fact isn't hidden to anyone. So one would expect some real juicy grub. Unfortunately we were served some lukewarm conjectures about what socialist ideals Obama "might have picked up" from the likes of the Weather Underground's Bill Ayers or Pastor Jeremiah Wright. And conjecture it was, for with all the months and months worth of research that one guesses D'Souza must have conducted in order to make the film, he just wasn't able to come up with any evidence of anything that he portended to or hinted at that was the least bit substantially damaging or even interesting.

Worse yet, he attempted to show how discontented Americans were with president Obama by slicing up very small out of context quotes from some feeble Occupy Wall Street protestors who for all intents and purposes aren't half as angry with Obama as they are with the American capitalist system in general. Taken out of context like that, it appeared hard at times to even discern which side D'Souza is on. Is he a Tea Party Republican pretending to be a respectable third-party journalist? Or a giant headed egoist who just happened to luck into conning a few right wing fat cats into bankrolling his autobiography? Half the damn film he dedicates to talking about himself and his own background, baring ignorant balls so large that he does so in order to compare himself to the President of the United States. For what purpose, again it was hard to tell.

Another aspect of the film that was disappointing, and perhaps most offensive, was that in every scene where D'Souza spoke about the president's past, he used actors to portray the president in his younger years, rather than using stock photos of the real Barack Obama; and in every single scene he had the actors appear to be poor black ghettoized miscreants, as if that by his very nature, just because he is half African American, that he spends most of his days in worn out loose springed single beds, unshaven, jobless, wearing t-shirts and ripped up jeans and living in tenement housing. The overt racist overtones throughout the movie were insulting to anyone who loves the great melting pot that America is. For some reason, one gets the feeling that part of the reason why D'Souza and people like him despise this particular president of the United States so much has very little to do with policy or ideals and a whole lot more to do with the color of his skin and his ethnicity. And that's too bad. Because there is plenty in regards to policy and ideals that one could point to about Barack Obama that is frightening and disturbing for any freedom loving American patriot. It's just not in this movie.

If anyone wants to learn more about the real Barack Obama and some of the more disturbing and questionable elements of his agenda, head to my Pinterest profile and look for a Board I created called "The Good Stuff". In it I have created a substantial list of resources, books and DVDs, that are sure to have you sleepless for months if that's your thing. This movie, as thoroughly bland and lukewarm as it is, unfortunately just isn't good enough to make it into that list.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Facebook's Success

Facebook's success can be traced to its ingenious evolution into a public instant gratification machine that appeals to humanity's most basic and primal pleasure triggers, accessible to all, for free, from nearly any and all platforms. Need a little attention? Post a status update. It doesn't matter what it says. After someone posts a status update, just underneath it immediately appear the words "Be the first of your friends to Like this." It can't get any easier than that. Like a 25 cent bubble gum machine, it's all about making people feel good, no matter how great or small their actions. Frankly I see nothing wrong with it, haters be damned.
It may have started out as a deceitful theft by an unpopular nerd with no scruples, few friends and a chip on his shoulder. But like anything that serves the public good more than it harms it, the machine has become bigger, and more valuable, than it's dubious origin. By now those who were ripped off in the beginning have been duly compensated and if the company plays its cards right it can have a long future. For many years I have predicted that Facebook will soon replace the "desktops" on our personal computers, Macs, laptops and yes even our smart phones. It is only a matter of time. Some argue that Google might beat Facebook to this distinction, but I doubt it. Facebook has attached itself to the human psyche. So far nothing on earth has attracted the customer base that Facebook has in the history of human commerce. There's a good chance that nothing ever will again.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Keep Moving On

I wrote the song "Keep Moving On" (from the SLEEP WITH YOU album) under the most heartbreaking circumstances. It was and still is one of my favorites. Some songs are like that. You just get lucky. Or better put, if you write enough songs, there are bound to be some that come out 'just a bit better' than the rest. Of course they're all your favorite when you're first writing them. Only time passing can tell you if one day they are bound to truly be one of your favorites or not. Besides having a melody that you can really sink your teeth into, one that appeals to me might be a better way of looking at it, it also had the unique ability to truly inspire me and lift me up whenever we would listen to it or perform it. It is just about the most honest song I have ever written. Nothing was held back, in terms of letting it all out, being vulnerable, laying it all out there.
So now whenever I am in one of those special situations where you don't have much choice but to 'keep moving on', this special little song still tends to pop into my head, and lend comfort to my heart. And so it is with this upcoming move from our beloved apartment here in New York. I have been in this apartment for over five years. I have been in Manhattan for just under eight years. But it was time. Not only do i personally despise the neighborhood we live in here, for it is everything that living in New York should not be like, dealing with the landlord has never been easy. In fact it has always been downright degrading. Something I am not used to. And for those that know me well, you know that I have always operated from the viewpoint that one should never volunteer to keep one's self bound in degrading situations. Some of the time that decision is ours. And if at all possible, I believe we should do everything in our power to pull ourselves up and out of these places.
There is also the issue of time and money. Princess Little Tree and I have been attempting to maintain two homes on opposite coasts for more than two years now. It is not an easy task to take on. It's fun. But it is also very taxing on your health and energy. The constant packing and unpacking, flying back and forth, 12 hours door to door from house to the other. And then usually back again a few days or weeks later. It's been grueling. And financially taxing. The constant pressure to meet all the monthly expenses and then some. When given the opportunity to renew our lease here for another year, something just clicked in me and I intuitively felt that as much as I love living in New York, we had reached that time when we would do better to pare down and hunker into one home only for a spell.
It won't be easy. New York is home to me. It always has been since the moment I stepped off that plane and my feet hit the New York city pavement for the very first time. I had never felt "home" before that. Not in any town or city I had ever lived. Not in any town or city I had ever lived in to attend college. I always felt like I was visiting. Like an outsider. But not in New York. That first cab ride from the airport, over fifteen years ago, all I could do was stare out the windows with my mouth gaping open looking all around me as if for the very first time I was returning home. And yet I had never even been to New York city prior to that first time 18 years ago. Yet there she was, New York City, in all of her dirt, noise and glory. A spectacular site and smell and feel. Some say they "can only visit but never live in New York City". For me it has always been the opposite. I can only visit other places, but New York City is where I live. [speaking strictly about the United States here... truth be told I feel even more at home in Italy. Just about anywhere in Italy does the trick. When there in fact, I actually feel it's "homeness" underneath my skin. It's cellular. It's genetic. It's deeper than even here in New York. But we're talking about America here, and American cities.]
The decision was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Once begun. The process has been a different matter. More than difficult. Princess Little Tree and I put our life's blood into renovating and fixing up this grand palace of metropolitan luxury. And it's been a real shame watching it slowly unravel into just another empty New York apartment. One by one the furniture goes, as happy young couples who've just moved to The City stop by to pick up a piece or two. It's an odd feeling, watching someone drool over something that you thought of as yours not two seconds before as they carry it out your front door. And yet, when it comes to Manhattan living, that's how it has to be. Storage here is economically prohibitive. And a move cross country... well it is obviously in our best interest to keep the quantity of items we move to a bare minimum.
So all those special little items, you know the one, that piece you picked up together on your last weekend up in Woodstock that would go just perfect in the guest bath, become commodities once again. Something to be priced and then reduced and eventually sold and bought by another. Watching the local handyman take down our light fixtures -- something we spent so much time on, in choosing, matching color and style, and installing -- was the action that so far, up until this point, hit me the hardest. They have been purchased, by someone fortuitously who will enjoy them just as much as we did, and replaced by inexpensive and generic light fixtures that don't manage to catch the eye even if you tried. And the same goes for so much more that was once an ocular delicacy here.
One of the many things that a move like this does to the system is reminds one of how transient our lives are here. How utterly impermanent everything is. When you're younger it doesn't really hit you. Moving. We move from town to town, even home to home within the same town, and it never manages to affect us much in any way. But when you take roots when you are older... when you begin associating your home with family and friends, with community, then it becomes something altogether different. Palpable loss. And palpable excitement over the potential for newness too. Still in the throes of it. So I will leave it at that. I am sure we will come back to the subject before too long. It's inevitable.

Last Sceening: The Sound of My Voice -- Great idea for a movie. Poorly executed. I am always surprised, still, when I see movies that appear as if the producers have barely put a thought into the story by the time the film ends. It's as if they get an idea and then get so amped up about making the movie that the story gets left behind; abandoned in place of more concern for making the movie itself. A really good film does not have to be always be Apocalypse Now or The Departed. But they should feel "complete". Whatever that means to each of us. This film was small. In every way. And simply not finished well enough to be of any concern to anyone other than the film makers themselves.

Which brings us to another one, that was quite the opposite. A movie by the name of People Like Us. Fully fleshed out and complete. Big and yet culminating in quite a small film by the time it reaches it's denumoi. You're sucked in emotionally the whole time, and having some fun and being moved along the way. Worth the watch.

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Last Leader Standing, or Those Who Dare Speak Out

        Monday's Piers Morgan interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered plenty of thrills, chills and excitement for American viewers of all ages, especially the uneducated and paranoid among them, which includes most of America when it comes to the country of ancient Persian, modern day Iran. For those in the know -- Morgan clearly not in that circle (though one doesn't doubt his sincerity) -- there were few surprises. Though CNN tried to promote the interview as "a world exclusive", the truth is that this is the eighth such annual interview we've seen with this Iranian president on CNN, at the least, and considering that he also gave one to Charlie Rose the day before made Morgan's boyish excitement all the more sophomoric. Every year Ahmadinejad attends the same United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York and every year he endures an endless series of torturous interviews with attention hungry journalists desperate to create any kind of controversy while he is here. And endure he does, with compassion, respect and tolerance. Considering how his country is being treated by the United States and Israel currently it is surprising he comes here at all; the fact that he grants so many interviews with usually ignorant journalists is generous and admirable.
         As exciting as the opportunity may have been for Piers (and we don't want to take that away from the man -- let us remember his humble beginnings as a judge on America's Got Talent just a few short years ago, or even worse his editorial position at a Murdoch owned British tabloid. Edward R. Murrow he is not), I had a similar encounter with President Ahmadinejad in 2008; at the same event, a UN General Assembly meeting, where a small group of us, leaders of the peace activist community gathered at an undisclosed location in Manhattan to discuss and strategize peaceful relations between our respective countries. I've also visited his country a few times and met with many of his fellow co-leaders and his predecessor, former President Khatami. One thing that can be said about Ahmadinejad is that he is trustworthy and consistent. Unlike what we are accustomed to in the United States with our own presidents and political leaders, where every other word out of their mouth either contradicts something they said the day before or the cold hard facts in front of us all (making the phrase "fact checker" a necessary household word in this year's presidential election), the Iranian president has been saying the same things year after year since the moment he took office nearly eight years ago.
         Over the last 48 hours I have received numerous text messages and emails from folks asking for my opinion about the Ahmadinejad interviews, most from compassionate people whose main concern has been about what I thought about one of the only voices of leadership in the world today willing to stand up to the frighteningly powerful nation of the United States of America; by far the most murderous and barbarous countries militarily since the end of the World War II era. Though as the years have passed and Ahmadinejad nears the end of his presidency, one notices the man has tired slightly, and yet he also possesses a healthy wisdom and maturity is now gracing his ideas and demeanor as with most two term presidents. He also still exudes strength and courage when discussing the overt double standards that seem only to apply to the State of Israel and the United States government.

       At one point he asked Morgan: "In order to avenge the blood of three thousand people, a million people shouldn't give their lives, should they? The behavior of the United States in our region encourages extremism. Perhaps because they don't know the people. So they do need to reform their behavior. There was no need for five or six thousand young American men to lose their lives in these wars your country started in our region of the world." You could hear a pin drop as Morgan attempted to regain his composure after internally recognizing that he agreed with the Iranian President.