To a Better Border Wall…

In fairness, I don’t want to dismiss Trump’s idea to put solar panels on the border wall, costing America and Mexico less money, but I don’t think he goes far enough. Here are some other ideas for Mr. Trump’s wall to save money and stop so-called illegal immigration:

1. A coal powered wall, since he has promised to bring back coal, despite the entire nation evolving past coal.

2. Paint it to look like the desert, and when people bump into it and fall down we can videotape our national prank, and like coal, revive Bob Saget’s Funniest Home Video career.

3. A 2000 mile 60 foot tall aquarium, because surely Trump will believe Mexicans will believe that America sank and go home.

4. Post America’s $20 trillion debt clock on the Mexico side of the wall. Might encourage poor refugees to take pity and throw soon to be worth more than the dollar pesos over the wall as charity.

5, make the wall from the same place he gets his hair. Immigrants will get hopelessly tangled, but would otherwise be same.

6. Replace the water in the Rio Grande with Budweiser beer. I like beer and I would run from that! Seriously?

7.Show immigrants anything from PBS on the Mexico side of the wall, and when they slip into a Coma, carefully pick them up and move them south 100 miles.

Build the wall on the border of Canada, and wave them north to a decent country.

8 Put the whole country up on polls

Anything I might have missed? After all, its all about helping our Grifter in Chief…

 

Left or Right?

Have to agree with Annie Froelich from a previous post. This is less a sign of Left vs Right, as it is about anarchy(save you posts anarchists) it is about a society that equivocates on everything, which tilts towards the wealthy and white, then pardons, overlooks and explains away their crimes. It is a white cop murdering a Black man on camera, then deciding afterwards he was “afraid for his life.” It is about Sandra Bland. It is about the devaluing of individuals for the purposes of consolidating power and excess. It is about a deficit of moral leadership in the White House deepened by administration after administration. It is racism, consumerism, lawyerism. It is about describing a worldwide religion as terrorists, or a race of people “illegal.” It is a generational assault on education, information and enlightenment in favor of spin, opinion and a beer-swilling, foreigner-hating, big truck-driving, slack jawed nationalism. It is news media for profit. It is profit above community, by corporatists in America who put profit above their nation, and then are protected by media. It is, if the president or congress or the corporate spokesperson lies to get what they want, or to escape guilt and justice. In short it is an American cultural and moral cancer that will prove the ultimate demise of this nation. And all of us allow it to happen.

“Question for my Smarties: I’ve been told again and again by the media and other outlets that my parent’s generation (Baby Boomers) wrecked everything for future generations…”

Chicago comic and friend Catherine “Povs” Povinelli posted that question on Facebook the other day. As a Boomer, technically, born 1962, my first reaction was a thought I’d had for a long time. And I’ll accept responsibility for my generation’s missteps, but there is equal blame to go around regardless of what year you were born. I’ll get to that, but first some effort of generational reconciliation is imperative.

My generation was decidedly and openly non-political, as a whole. Not for any reason. We were just lazy.  The election turnout peaked in 1960. In 1972 it took a nose dive and has remained in the embarrassingly low 50% range since. We partied. We were the last generation before AIDS. In the era of Oprah, local news, mall reports and the consumer generation, we were blithely irresponsible. Mass entertainment, the advent of cable TV and the dawn of Reagan and Clinton era media deregulation erasing boundaries between information and marketing, we settled into a comfortable ignorance. By the time significant realities were coming home to roost we were numbed and dumbed, fat, lazy and righteously judgmental now that we had begun to spawn. MOTHERHOOD IS THE HARDEST JOB, OR IS IT COPS, FIREMEN, SEWER WORKERS, ELVIS IMPERSO…?

As for the later, it was my generation that abandoned Dr. Spock, for video games and TV, placating children into oblivion. We shoved them in a corner with a toy and continued partying, hitting the beauty parlor and bars and essentially treated kids like pets, unless we needed a reason to call in sick to work.

Essentially, on a cultural, economic and social level we were fattened lambs for the slaughter. It began to the slow erasure of news and journalism into information; a qualitative difference. The Oprah generation complained that news overseas didn’t mean anything and brought disturbing images to young and impressionable minds. WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE SAVE THE CHILDREN! “News you can use,” soon appeared. Through the 1990’s Americans ignored “unimportant” news from the rest of the world. That ignorance, rather than correcting on September 11 2001, instead cauterized as ignorant flag waving, Chevy buying, rube-driven nationalism. The Baby Boomer president told us to go shopping, them wrote a check for $10 trillion on an unnecessary war, then blamed a Black Boomer president for having the highest debt in history.

It was all a purposeful roadmap prescribed within the 1971 Powell memo. The memo, by Lewis F. Powell Jr, former corporate attorney and later SCOTUS appointee under Nixon, laid out a recommendation that corporations needed to control the media, the government and education in the country as a matter of priority and power. The WW 2, Boomer and Gen X Republicans have followed that roadmap to the letter.

So yes, Catherine, the Republicans to own Santa Claus!

However, the reality is, tomorrow is a mystery and a crap shoot, and how we get there is anyone’s guess. It is complex and international in scope, a planetary tug of war with a thousand ropes, many of which change sides in dizzying frequency. Each generation comes to its own layered lessons and ignorance equally. The  thing is, following World War 2, started by a previous generation Nazi, whose was stopped by that same generation, the capacity for really screwing things up was exponentially increased. A hand full of weapons, invented by Depression era leaders, from the E=MC2 equation of a turn of the century scientist, could essentially erase humanity. WW 2 era teachers instructed Boomer kids to duck and cover beneath their desks in the event of a Nuclear war. WAIT. WHAT?

Here in America, Black Boomers fought for Civil Rights, joined by White Boomers, and opposed by White boomers. They w ere fighting for rights ascribed in a constitution by revolution generation men who also wrote that Blacks were 3/5th a person. The Civil Rights Boomers Gen X-ers grew up cajoled by Alex P. Keaton characters on television, and dumbed down by truly insipid programs like Alf. They helped teach a generation partly abandoned by parents simplistic and reactive lessons on relationships. A divorce culture, woven inside a consumer culture underscored that family and relationship commitment is as transient as corporate charters and contracts.

Boomer hippies abandoned Vietnam-era activism for the boardroom, or checked out. Generation X-ers faired no better, and in some cases worse. Paul Ryan is Generation X. Generation X and Millenials were the masses strengthening the Occupy movement. They also abandoned the Occupy movement, while the Boomer-driven Tea Party movement helped propel Trump to office. It was Boomers and Gen X-ers, by the way who strategically sought to crush the revolutionary spirit of millenials towards Boomer presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. I have witnessed two genocides leaving millennials scarred or as orphans. We can only wonder how that will resonate with millenials to the benefit or detriment to succeeding generations.

The bottom line, every generation has its blessings and short falls. The problem is that regardless of generation, we are all being coaxed into binary thinking, which has long been the legacy of every generation. Ultimately that is a measure of the quality of information we receive, but also a measure of our desire to understand what is happening in the world. That isn’t easy, but then nothing essential ever is. Learn that you, regardless of generation, are being manipulated, and that includes pitting generations against one another so that the focus is on blaming fellow victims rather than the real perpetrators.  Because here is the deal, a millennial may blame some aspect of the world on Boomers, but Boomers are absolutely bitching about millennials, and Gen X-ers are getting pounded from both each time they complain about being overlooked!

Liberal Literature

Preparing for my first trip to the Balkans in 1992 as the siege of Sarajevo was beginning, I consumed what little Yugoslav and Balkan literature was available at the time. It gave me a decided advantage over journalists. At the end of the war I was able to immerse myself more fully in in literature from the former-Yugoslavia. One of those was perhaps the most overlooked. under appreciated and misunderstood writers, at least outside of what once constituted Yugoslavia; the late Mesa Selimovich (Pronounced: Mesha Selimovich).

This piece isn’t really about Selimovich (26 April 1910 – 11 July 1982), who wrote seminal and iconic world like Dervish and Death, and The Fortress. Although you can now stun and impress Balkan friends by knowing his name. it is a lesson to all true writers who aspire in transcending to literature, just as the would-be artist aspires to become a master painter like Picasso, Titian or whomever. But here is the key, it is impossible to properly be on the side of Kings and despots, presidents, dictators and oligarchs, because theirs eschews all that the writer must stand for-justice and ultimate freedom of expression, which are antithetical to power. To do so is to engage in the censorship of systems and society. Be outside all of those.

The writer, whether overt and consciously, or intuitively and purposefully, is by definition subversive. Anything less is a betrayal or worse, a capitulation. Dervish and Death was, in part a postscript regarding his brother’s execution while they were both partisans during the Second World War. The Fortress, while set during the Ottoman Occupation, was an indictment of life during the post-war Communist period. each writer must find their own period and speak real and eternal human truths. It is far less about being partisan; liking this administration, hating that one. The test and filter must me how it exalts that which binds every soul regardless of race, national origin, religion and politics, though those are certainty ample stagecraft and kindling for the pyre of light and passion and love upon which your story is crafted.

This, by the way, is what I think of while walking the dog, and as an outsider, I am always happy for his feedback…

Prayers for Bowie. Sucks to be a Squirrel in Heaven…

Oh, sorry, I’m talking about the dog, not the pop star. My bad. Still, I wanted to relate a conversation yesterday with my friend, Joe, who after 13 years lost his companion and beloved pet, Bowie. Understandably, and properly, Joe was grieving. He had made a heart-breaking decision most pet owners must make. With emotion in his voice Joe found solace that Bowie was someplace better now, chasing squirrels for eternity. I’ve said the same thing about pet cats, wishing they were someplace where they could chase birds and mice to their hearts content. That got me to thinking.

It must suck being a squirrel in that other place. It finally gets a chance to chill with an endless bowl of acorns, and here comes all these freakin’ dogs, spoiling eternity. Heaven for cats, hell for mice. Valhalla for hyena’s, torture for, for…whatever it is that hyenas eat. As for the roadrunner and coyote, forever must truly be frustrating and exhausting!

Of course, if we extrapolate that in another direction, when it comes to all of the bullies I faced in high school, god, I am so screwed. I can’t take a forever full of swirlies, when what I was hoping for was an eternity with a perfect and eternally cold beer, my wife sitting beside me without being on Facebook or Pinterest or emailing work on her phone for a change. I hope to hell(see what I did there) eternity is not about hunter and prey. Instead, I think I’d prefer it to be, at least for Bowie, an endless chew toy, an unending string of butts to sniff and a pair of testicles that always tastes like bacon. That is my prayer for Bowie, and the squirrels too…

Much love, Joe.

Travels in Tuscany: Happy Hour, Tuscan style

The single best bit of advice I can offer for truly enjoying Tuscany is that you’ve got to know someone. A friend will open the door to an Italian world normally unseen to the average visitor. If you don’t have a friend, this would be the time to dust off those social skills, practice that smile, appear a little-but not too-sympathetic and make a friend. Not as hard as people think. I’ve done very well by that gift-of-gab Ana says I get from my father. For Americans it can be a fairly big hurdle to get over, given our culturally imbued suspicion about other people and cultures. In the States we are bombarded with terrifying tales of pickpockets and thieves, terrorism and all manner of criminal masterminds out to victimize wayward Americans. The truth is, in every country, the vast majority of folks are decent and honest and as curious and hospitable towards you as you would be to them-how you answer that question will mean a lot for your international travel experience.

Rick Steeves I think has done the greatest dis-service to travelers with constant warnings over thieves and crimes in his books and videos. Truth is, Europe, and most of the world is far less dangerous than most of the US. It comes down to a simple rule; If you have your head up your ass, church can be a dangerous place.

So, as I was saying, Ana and I had spent a couple days wandering around Venice. Well off the beaten paths we were curious over folks gathered at these little bars-not like American bars, but sort of cafes that serve wine, beer and cocktails and something to eat. Neighbors and friends would gather at these dark-wooded bars, snacking at small plates of appetizers or finger sandwiches, having a drink and chatting up the afternoon. We passed curiously, unsure just how that all worked, settling at cafes where we could more familiarly be waited on at a table, as we are accustomed.

For a friend anywhere, but particularly in Tuscany we could hardly have done better than Shevko. In Mostar, barely 18 years old he knew everyone and everyone know Shev. How could anyone imagine that 8 or so years in Italy that anything would change? Leaving the hotel that first night in Caprai, we headed back across the river into Montelupo Fiorentino to his favorite bar, the Cafe Centofiori, comfortable hidden from view in one of the new apartment blocks along the bright and spacious Viale Cento Fiori.

We followed Shevko inside, like a court to some blue-collar King, leaving the afternoon heat behind. Instantly, amid Shev’s riotous entrance, greeting friends, flirting with counter girls, Ana and I were engulfed by the smells of humbly prepared gourmet sandwiches and snacks. Our would-be sovereign directed us to a corner table and returned to the bar, laden with platters of mouth-watering food. Returning a moment later with fat goblets of a local red wine and a plate of food, Shev proceeded to pronounce the obvious, that everyone knew him there. Indeed, all that was missing was everyone shouting “Shev!” when he enter, ala Norm from Cheers.

“Sort of Italian, how do have in the US, happy hour,” he said. Shev explained that the food was free for the taking if you were having a drink. Most folks would congregate at the counter, catching up with old friends or chatting the owner up. He was a young guy, who, I was told worked the counter dawn until late into the night 6 days  week. Helped by a couple of counter girls, all the pastries and sandwiches were his own recipe, hand-made there in the café. Nothing went to waste. Whatever was left from the day was  cut up for the afternoon crowd.

Taking in the crowd, smiling and stumbling through Italian introductions Ana and I savored every bite as if our lives depended on the fresh and simple flavors before us. Lifting a thin wedge on homemade Italian bread, adorned with a bit of prosciutto and  fresh mint leaf, sitting with friends and Ana with a lusciously dry glass of red wine,  I wondered how it could get any better than this.