Saturday, November 26, 2016

Happy Holidays

I don’t plan on posting again for a while – until I'm in a better frame of mind.

Meanwhile, I hope ya’ll had a pleasant Thanksgiving

and I wish all of you a continued wonderful holiday season.

Merry Christmas

Happy Chanukah

Festive Interfaith
Joyous Kwanza

Happy New Year

And a lovely Sugar Plum Munchkin Day
(that’s from an old Robert Klein joke…)

May 2017 be a good, healthy, happy year for us all and not live up to my worst fears!


Monday, November 21, 2016

Seeking The How of Now

Tomorrow will be just two weeks since the country turned upside down like the ocean liner in The Poseidon Adventure and we’re hanging desperately from the floor that just became the ceiling. Only two weeks and so much has happened. I was personally going through a difficult period before all this, and I still am. Maybe that’s why I can’t figure out what to do now. Or maybe it’s a separate response to the election on one hand and the tragic death of Gwen Ifill on the other, as well as all the turmoil, nastiness, and unimaginable weirdness. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. I don’t know; my feelings, like those of so many others, are bruised and confused.

For a week before the election, while the pollsters told us Hillary had it in the bag, my intuition told me that by some maniacal miracle Trump would win – which he did, thanks to the outmoded, exclusionary-by-design Electoral College. (Can you picture the “This system is rigged!” tantrum Trump would have had if he lost despite getting 1.5 million more popular votes than Clinton?) In addition, on several occasions I got a vague mental image of Hillary Clinton dressed in purple, making a speech.

Under the circumstances, these confirmations that my ability as an Intuitive is still functioning even though my heart and mind are off-kilter, were of no comfort. And no new veils are dropping, except – and of course we’ll never know if this happens – I have the feeling Trump will secretly turn to Clinton for advice on certain matters. I also have visions of the Electoral College reversing the decision, but that’s not a premonition, just a delightful fantasy that sometimes cheers me up.

Basically, I’m on the proverbial horns of a dilemma. All my life, given what I am and how I was raised, I’ve had strong feelings about politics and the social/cultural issues that have a life-altering impact on them – and vice versa. Always alert and concerned and active in whatever way I could be, on many fronts. I believed the few drops I added to the social bucket would make a difference and perhaps they did. In my professional endeavors too: I know I’ve done high-quality, worthwhile work in some of my projects as a business writer, and as a Tarot reader/ordained spiritual counselor. I know I’ve been a good, supportive, useful friend to a lot of people. Despite my personal  insecurities, past and present, I know I’m a good person and have functioned as a good citizen. But I fear something fundamental in me has snapped. I’m completely deflated. I still care, but I don’t believe caring makes a difference now, even though I recognize that concern and action are needed now more than ever.

Almost everything of collective importance has changed for the worse since the 21st Century started with the Y2K scare.  That turned out to be nothing. What actually has happened in less than 20 years, worldwide, is real, and mostly really bad. In addition to the violence and oppression that have killed/displaced millions around the world, we have a bunch of other appalling problems. The globalization we thought would unite and enrich the world is actually dividing us instead. Economic inequity is creating desperation and craziness. The insanity of terrorism is in some ways succeeding, breeding a true sense of terror and irrational responses. Old hates, prejudices, and their accompanying brutality and injustice have rejuvenated. Plus, the communications technology and social media most people live by have taken a dark, dangerous turn that’s only now being noticed – barely – thanks to fake news and hateful cyber incivility.  I could detail all the issues and recent incidents, but you know what they are.

In the face of this real-life horror movie/political satire, I don’t know where to find the strength to move forward, keep hanging tough from the new floor-ceiling. I feel like a sick, hardly-mobile, old woman – which I am. I feel disconnected and isolated – which I am. Since the start of 2000, I haven’t been able to acclimate myself to the aspects of the New Normal I despise. I was happy about the social progress made during the past few years. But I didn’t trust it, because I knew it could be reversed in the blink of a conservative eye – and now I’m afraid some or all of it might be. There are several categories of people I’m very frightened for.

I’ve been reading insightful columnists and watching the news, press conferences, and discussions among smart, right-thinking (in my opinion) people: artists, writers, activists et al, speaking with positive determination about the urgency of fully populated, well organized, peaceful/legal civic action. They’re sad and scared too, but unwavering about being vigilant, uniting, and fighting against anything Trump tries to do to Make America Mayberry Again. I want to emulate their hope and courage. I want to be who I’ve always been. But I can’t muster my usual fortitude. Maybe as time warps along and we have a better understanding of what’s really happening, maybe after this unprecedented, muddled, shocking, conflict-of-interest-ridden transition becomes an actual administration with a definite stated agenda, I’ll have more clarity and be able to marshal greater energy. I hope so.

I apologize for being in bummer mode instead of posting here as an encouraging cheerleader. And you? How are you coping? What are you doing? What’s keeping you going? If it’s the future for your kids and/or grandkids, don’t tell me: I get that obvious drive. Love, family, and community are what generally keep people forging ahead. But I don’t have that, and feel socially obsolete and estranged as well. So where is the motivation supposed to come from? I’d much rather be a civic soldier than a heartsick sad sack but I’m losing my grip on the floor-ceiling. And I just heard on the news that a massive earthquake nearly turned Japan upside down.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I Love You, Bob Dylan

I was about 12 years old when I fist saw and heard Bob Dylan on the tiny black & white TV in my room; some obscure little show, it was sheer happenstance that I saw it. And he instantly became the poetic and politically musical love of my life. Plus I thought he was really cute, and I think he’s gotten even sexier with every odd and interesting phase he’s gone through over the years, including now. I still love Bob Dylan, craggy old buzzard though he’s become (I’m a craggy old buzzard myself, so it fits). He still has that sweet, sour, vulnerable, thorny, inaccessible-but-please-don’t-leave-me-alone magic about him.

Unfortunately, I think he’s a tormented genius and in many ways a very unhappy man. So I’m feeling bad for Bob Dylan because I suspect he’s feeling sad and confused about having been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He’d been nominated for it repeatedly over the years. I don’t know why the Committee decided this was the year, but the reason given for the award is "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” So said Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Nobel Academy, at a news conference last Thursday. She said there was "great unity" in the panel's decision. "Bob Dylan writes poetry for the ear, but it's perfectly fine to read his works as poetry." For the record (no puns intended), the honor comes with $927,740. Monetary coal to Newcastle, I know, but he could do something meaningful with that.

I’m proud of and happy for the scrappy troubadour who one of the Nobel Committee members called "probably the greatest living poet." But, not surprisingly, the Committee can’t locate/communicate with Dylan directly. He’s made no public statement nor sent any private word to them. Someone described as his “closest collaborator” (?) is painting a positive picture of Dylan’s response and the Committee is minimally hopeful the recipient will attend the December 10th ceremony and accept his award. He did show up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1997, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, but as soon as he could he fled those events with the speed and stealth of a cartoon super-hero.

I don’t think he wanted those awards and I don’t think he wants this one, because part of him feels unworthy and another part of him thinks it’s meaningless. That’s the sad and confused part and if it’s so, he’s wrong on both counts. Also, it seems some noted novelists are voicing their displeasure. Clueless, sour grapes, I say.

Part of Dylan’s appeal, I think, as well as his personal misery, stems from the fact that he’s never seen himself as a genius let alone the Voice of His Generation (he first said so to Rolling Stone decades ago). He knows he’s got something special and he’s certainly aware of where it’s taken him and what it’s meant to others. Like most artists he has some measure of ego, so I think he somewhat enjoys all that.

But my intuition tells me he also feels it’s ill-gotten gains for a talent that was, as time went on, just kidding – but everyone took it to heart. He once implied during a 60 Minutes interview that he had made a deal with the Devil to get what he got. Maybe that’s why so much of his post-folk and post-folk-rock stuff – the wildly disparate music that came out (and sometimes got lost) amidst all the “Best Of” and bootleg records – was a series of musical searches for God. I think the core thing to understand about Bob Dylan as an artist and a man is that to his great surprise and discomfort, he’s been treated like a God, when all he’s wanted is to find God himself. Dylan talks a lot about God, when he does talk. What spiritual irony!

Bob Dylan spends most of the year touring. When he’s not on the road – which is only for a few weeks here and there – he lives alone in a house in California. I can’t imagine what it looks like. He has a big family but I know nothing about his relationships with them, or his friends, or if there’s presently a woman in his life, or what his hobbies and pleasures might be. He seems to just want to keep moving and keep singing whatever it is he feels like singing at the moment, and try to feel like a real person instead of an icon. His problem is, he is an icon, a real one, and that must be a hell of a burden.

But what do I know? My observations come from a combination of articles and interviews read, and intuitive conjecture voiced. Whatever. Congratulations Bob wherever you are. I hope you’re in better shape than I fear. I hope you’ll go get your prize, make a nice speech, and feel good when you get back to California. Because like it or not, you are one of The Greats – and still needed and wanted and loved. You have been the soundtrack of my life and millions (maybe billions) of others. You told us you (yourself, we, all of us) “gotta serve somebody.” Thank you for your ongoing service.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Political Power of Pussy

After this post I’m not going to say anything more about The Campaign before Election Day, because there’s nothing left to say. I just want to go on the record as being both horrified and amused by the political and media reaction to Donald Trump’s celebrity-entitled pussy grab: his stated attitude and alleged actions. I do have a few things to say about that.

First, I didn’t know pussy was a dirty word; I thought it was slang. So imagine my surprise when the media felt compelled to say “p-word” and spell it “p***y.” Are you kidding me? I suppose I should be grateful they’re not using the moronic “va-jay-jay,” but truthfully, it’s no comfort. I wish we as a culture would (a) grow the fuck up, (b) call a spade a spade, and (c) stop being afraid of language and re-learn how to use it well.

But what you call “it” isn’t important. What’s important is that Trump, for all his exaggerations, distortions, whopper-sized-lies, and overall 18-month-long rant of insults as well as inappropriate and ignorant and evasive statements, was not incorrect about what men who are regarded as “stars” can get away with sexually.

And, there are two separate but equally disturbing/ revealing aspects to PussyGate. The first is: as Donald Trump has repeatedly said of himself (and as the media has said about him): he is not a politician, he is a businessman and a celebrity. Accordingly, I’m less than shocked by his personal sexual history. And if he weren’t within a dick’s-reach of the American Presidency, I wouldn’t care less.

I spent over 30 years in the entertainment business. Most of the men in it, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, would never make the kind of coarse, charmless overtures Trump described in the now-infamous Access Hollywood tape and revealed in his actual behavior – new allegations about which are coming forth every minute. However, these men are very aware that some women find rich, powerful, famous men extremely attractive, and some men use that fact to their sexual advantage. For their part, some conventionally-beautiful women, both in and out of the business, are more than willing to be public arm-candy and private sex partners. That’s the fact, Jack.

This is the world in which Trump was formed and still lives and works. This is where he gained his sense of self as well as his view of women. Trump is one of those Masters of the Universe that Tom Wolfe wrote about in Bonfire of the Vanities. In that world, you can kiss at will, with or without tic-tacs, you can even grab a pussy. In some instances you’ll get what you want, in others you won’t – but you don’t know until you try.

So while in perfect 21st Century politically-correct mode, those outside this world cry Foul! and Sexual Assault! the truth is that the casting couch and the tour bus can lead to the red carpet, the limo, the private jet, the 5-star hotel, and the jewelry store. Giving pussy can sometimes get you diamonds; easier than paying your own American Express card. There are few victims here – just players of both sexes. So spare me the shock and awe.

The every-man-for-his-political-self politicians, as well as the mediocre mainstream media, say “But this is coming from a man who wants to be President.” Yes. A Master of the Universe – a wealthy real estate developer, reality TV show host, and beauty pageant producer who comes from a world where you can grab pussy with impunity and who’s now trying to grab world power. That’s who he is. You (Republicans, media) let the gorilla out of his cage and called him a joke – and now he’s throwing his shit at everybody.

So what’s with the disgusted surprise? This isn’t news. The Master of the Universe spoke inappropriately about sex and women – that filthy act: with blessed mothers and sisters, wives and daughters, decent women who don’t even have pussies, they have va-jay-jays. Trump being a dumb, hateful, racist xenophobe with no policies, no plans, no class, no common decency, and no qualifications whatever, wasn’t enough to rule him out of the running. No, it took sex to make them back away. Give me a break.

Listen. I am not saying that Trump’s language and behavior is okay simply because it’s commonplace. I am not condoning sexual assault, or the disrespectful treatment of women. On the contrary, in a world where millions of women are treated like chattel, marketed like toys, viciously abused by sex traffickers, and have to constantly fight for the most basic rights – to go to school, to make a living, to drive a car, to choose their own life partners, to not be maimed or murdered in the name of someone else’s twisted sense of honor – none of this is a joke. None of this is harmless or unimportant. What I am saying is that, once again, it took a sex scandal to (perhaps!) turn the tide. We are a nation still steeped in our Puritan roots and it pisses me off.

In the final analysis, what powerful men find offensive is the concept, let alone the fact, of a powerful woman. Donald Trump can’t grab Hillary Clinton’s pussy because she’s got him by the balls. If you think Trump’s outrageousness is less objectionable than Clinton’s email…well…what can I tell you? As I write this, I’m listening to Donald Trump say “The Clintons are criminals.” Really? Okay, there’s your choice. Going forward, no matter what else happens or is revealed on either side is going to make the decisive difference. The diehard Trump and Clinton supporters are in place. Now it’s a matter of what all the other people do.

Will those among the incomprehensibly “undecided” manage to reach a decision? Will the Millennials, a remarkable percentage of whom claimed in a recent poll to see “no tangible difference between the two major candidates” (!?) and “just want change” suddenly perceive the difference and vote like grown-ups, or will they release their inner teenagers and vote for the erudite Gary Johnson? Or will they just stay home in scale-tipping numbers? Similarly, will the Blacks and Hispanics who pushed Obama over the top in 2008 and 2012 come out for the stiff white lady in 2016, or will they stay home in equally scale-tipping numbers? Lastly, will The Traditionally Republican Suburban White Women, freed by the privacy of the voting booth, take a chance on the old broad they don’t really like and vote for her instead of the King of Stupidity and Sleaze (Inc.)?

We’ll see. I don’t care what the polls say: this game ain’t over and it can still go either way. You can bet your pussy on it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Musical Interlude

A little break from politics (in a way…somewhat…).

I stopped listening to music for years (which isn’t a healthy thing, so don’t do that). My old stereo has been in a box for 15 years and the only other device I have is a classic boom-box (double-cassette/radio) that belonged to my mother and for which I have limited options (I don’t know where most of my cassettes are). I know one can listen to music online and I did (do) some of that, but sitting in front of my computer for music isn’t one of my favorite things.

That said, I’ve been listening to music online a lot lately (and sometimes watching the videos) because, The Presidential Campaign That Dare Not Speak Its Name is so brutally rattling my already-jagged nerves. So I’ve been motivated to seek out old favorites (artists, songs, the two combined) for comfort, inspiration, understanding, a little wallowing, and some just fine and fond entertainment.

In this spirit, I’m playing Blogging DJ and offering a selection of YouTube links to some of the songs I’ve been listening to. Play some, play all, or play your own. But I highly recommend listening to something you like – especially if, like me, that isn’t already part of your daily life. It “takes the edge off” much better than repeatedly banging your head against a wall.

Some of these videos are preceded by a commercial, others have pop-ups on the screen that you have to click the X-box to remove – musical buzz kill, I know – but some videos let you skip the ad, others don't trouble you with one. Anyway, be patient and (I hope) enjoy!

Aerosmith (with lyrics) / “Crazy”
Meredith Brooks (with lyrics) / “Bitch”
The Rolling Stones / “Wild Horses”
Don Henley / “New York Minute”
Bruce Springsteen / “New York City Serenade”
The Wallflowers / “6th Avenue Heartache”
Bruce Springsteen (9/11/01 Memorial Concert) / “My City of Ruins”
Coldplay / “In My Place”
Macy Gray (with lyrics) / “I Try”
Sia (with lyrics) / “Breathe Me”
Joan Osborne and The Funk Brothers / “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?”
Aerosmith (with lyrics) / “Cryin’”
Annie Lennox / “Why?”
Gipsy Kings / “Tu Quieres Volver”
Blues Traveler (with lyrics) / “Hook”
Lynryd Skynyrd (live in Florida 2015) / “Simple Man”
Neil Young / “Southern Man”
David Bowie (with lyrics) / “Life On Mars?”
Jeff Buckley / “Hallelujah”
Aerosmith (with lyrics) / “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”
Puff Johnson / “Over and Over”