(Remember December 20th is a free day during which you are allowed to do whatever you want.)
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS AND MENDOCINO:
Murmurs and Grumbles
It has been a while since I have written T&T. For some reason during the past few weeks I seem to have lost interest in it, preferring instead to sit around contentedly watching the trees shed their leaves and winter settle in. Perhaps the increased dosage of my happy pills have turned my frustrations with life away from an acute pain needing immediate attention to simple dull aches that soon disappear. I guess artists and those who seem compelled to do things beyond simply maintaining their existence are not a particularly happy lot but do what they do in an effort order to find it. Don’t we all?
I travelled to Mendocino with HHH, my sister and her husband George to spend the Thanksgiving holidays there. The weather was perfect, clear blue skies, sparkling waves, the temperature brisk but not cold. One day we walked along the Fort Bragg ocean-front from Glass Beach almost all the way to Ten Mile Beach a distance of several miles.
Fort Bragg is sad little coastal town that had consumed at least a score of years trying to recover from the disappearance of the logging industry responsible for its foundation and the mainstay of its economy. The ocean front, tucked behind blocks of decaying commercial buildings, moderate priced motels, and some small homes, is a magnificent stretch of coastal dunes, and meadows, small coves and large sandy beaches.
A view of the Fort Bragg oceanfront
Winter has struck El Dorado Hills today, freezing cold, grey lowering sky and rumors of snow. I spoke with my son Jason yesterday. It seems that the City had restored most of the salary a wage cuts to employees instituted during the recession and his bitter struggle for the basics of material survival have lessened a bit. Alas, holiday season is coming and for most of us the forlorn hope that the festival of lights will illuminate our lives with joy often leaves us only disappointed and more in debt.
Speaking of Christmas and the Festival of Lights, one of my pleasures of the season is observing the competition among the residents of the neighborhood to adorn their homes with the most garish and elaborate displays of lights. Having watched my friend Al’s weeks long obsession with mounting of his display and the misery to which he subjected the rest of his family while doing it, my enjoyment of the spectacles is somewhat diminished. When I was a kid, and even now, I hated the Holiday Season. What began for me as greedy hope for Santa’s promised riches, ended in listening to loud bitter arguments often ending in tears.
I liked, however, hearing the carols and songs of the season especially those sung in latin by the choir of the little Italian Church I attended. I enjoyed the pomp and color of Christmas High Mass much more than what went on under and around the Christmas tree in my home.
Mornings in Mendocino we spent walking along the ocean bluffs and into the town where I would enjoy my caffe latte and brioche. Later I would accompany HHH to the local book store and then to the two delightful toy stores in the town. One toy store boasted of no electronic toys whatsoever and the other was devoted exclusively to science.
One day recently I spend most of the day in the Roseville Galleria, a mega shopping mall a few miles from where I am staying.
For much of my time there I sat staring at the Santa Claus exhibit where children and their parents, for between $20 and $40, can have their picture taken sitting on Santa knee. The red-faced Santa had a real beard and would try to cop a feel from many of the good-looking moms who had their picture taken with him. Triple H at almost 9 years old still fervently believes in Santa. He told me that the Santa’s in the malls are all fake and the real Santa lives at the North Pole and is too busy to sit all day at the mall. Interestingly he also believes that Santa does not begin making his list and checking it twice until December 1. Presumably one can do whatever one wants the rest of the year.
I stopped believing in Santa when I was six or seven after my older cousin explained that the whole thing with Santa was a fake. As a result I stayed awake that Christmas eve to find out if what he said was true. I was convinced after catching my father placing the presents under the tree.
I began believing in Santa again when I turned seventy. There must be, I reasoned, something transcendental that rewards unmitigated greed since that seems to be the way of the world. Santa is as likely a culprit as anyone or thing. I call my religion Santaism. And, if Triple H is correct only worrying about doing the right thing for one month every year seems to be a pretty good deal.
While traveling to Mendocino we stopped off in Healdsburg for dinner. The town has changed a lot since I had last seen it almost 30 years ago. At that time it was a run down hippie magnet, art pottery shops and tie dye emporiums. In the hills surrounding the town were situated helter-skelter quaint little shingle houses overlooking various streams housing counter-cultural types of all varieties. With the advent of the wine bubble, the town now looks more like Rodeo Drive in the boonies. I assume the creek side shacks have mostly morphed into multimillion dollar designer homes.
I used to spend a lot of very happy time there with my son and a woman I knew. She lived in a cute little cottage on the edge of a bank overlooking a pretty stream. She was a teacher. I met her while introducing some novel lesson plans into the Santa Rosa School District based upon Bucky Fuller’s various manifestoes. Bucky was one of the heroes of the counter-culture. I had run his San Francisco World Games Workshop sometime in the early 1970’s. After that I had a brief career consulting with local school districts preparing lesson plans based upon Fuller’s geometry concepts and history lesson plans derived from his insights regarding integration of large systems into historical analysis, an approach different from national politics and great man biographies that passed for history at the time. This latter course was directed at high school students. The mathematical course was aimed at elementary school. Interestingly the geometry engendered a surprisingly positive reaction from some of the students in the so-called at the time 600 classes, the extremely slow learners. These students eventually were recruited as teaching assistants to help with the advanced students who in many cases were experiencing difficulty with the concepts.
Anyway, after my relationship with the woman ended, she went back to school to acquire a PhD in geology and eventually joined the US Geological Survey and ultimately was stationed in Alaska. I few years later I read in the newspaper that she had been out on a field survey when a bear attacked her. It an effort to save her life she played dead. It worked as far as her life was concerned, but not before the bear had chewed off both of her arms. A few months later I saw a photograph of her in the newspaper right after she had been fitted with a prosthesis on both of her arms. She was always a very positive and upbeat person and in the story that accompanied the photograph she had indicated that her misfortune would not deter her from proceeding on with her life doing whatever it was that she enjoyed doing.
One day while driving I was listening to the local classical music station when the announcer indicated that the next piece, a concerto or something like that, was written by my old client Danny Elfman. The music was tinkly and repetitive but seemed as good to me as much of the other music played by the station.
Danny was the brother of another client and friend, Rick Elfman, a director of some notably bad movies one or two of which were so bad they became cult classics. Rick was the father of the actress Jenna Elfman. He made his professional boxing début as one of the oldest boxers to make their début in Canada (he was too old to be allowed to do so in the US). The match was terminated before it began when he injured himself stepping into the ring.
Danny had exhibited scant aptitude for music in his childhood, however, during his mid teens he picked up a guitar and found he could play it quite well without instruction. He promptly disappeared with his guitar into Africa and emerged two years later with a vast knowledge and repertory of African music and musical techniques. Thereafter he and his brother created the rock group Oingo-Boingo which led eventually to Danny writing the music to Pee Wee’s Playhouse and fame, ultimately winning him a couple of Oscars for his music.
The last time I saw Danny was at a warehouse in Venice or Santa Monica or Malibu, I cannot remember which, but it was in the Coastal Zone in any event. Now that he was an “artist,” Danny wanted a studio worthy of his fame. He planned to convert the warehouse into a series of studio’s where he could enhance his artistic capabilities. He wanted separate studios for his music, painting, sculpture and who knows what else. He wanted my advice on securing a Coastal Permit for his dreams. I told him he would be better off to keep the changes he had planned internal to his existing building making only minor changes to the outside of it.
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
This fascinating group of charts demonstrates that over the past 50 years or so we have truly lived in a golden age (At least in the West) but we are also rapidly approaching the crisis of our times. Each of the smaller charts shows a rate of growth that the science of physics tells us is unsustainable and must soon taper off. They also imply that Global Warming and Climate Change are merely artifacts of the Great Acceleration.
World population has increased almost six fold in the last 60 years while all the other charts show increases of at least seven fold. Except for population most of that growth has occurred in the West and in Japan, with the rest of East and South Asia now struggling to catch up.
B. A Little Bit of Twain:
“That is a simple rule, and easy to remember. When I, a thoughtful
and unblessed Presbyterian, examine the Koran, I know that beyond any
question every Mohammedan is insane; not in all things, but in religious
“When a thoughtful and unblessed Mohammedan examines the
Westminster Catechism, he knows that beyond any question I am
spiritually insane. I cannot prove to him that he is insane, because
you never can prove anything to a lunatic–for that is a part of his
insanity and the evidence of it. He cannot prove to me that I am insane,
for my mind has the same defect that afflicts his.
“All Democrats are insane, but not one of them knows it; none but the Republicans and Mugwumps know it. All the Republicans are insane, but only the Democrats and Mugwumps can perceive it. The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
(Twain was a Mugwump [Middle Way Democrats of the time] and he believed they were definitely not insane.)
“Obama himself can cease to exist – in the pornographic fantasies of birthers, he has never actually been president — gay people and their marriages can melt back into the closet and women can vanish from corporate boardrooms, only to reappear in the kitchen with an apron and a spatula. Civil-rights laws will unwrite themselves, millions of immigrants will turn out never to have come here, the entire federal government will be revealed as a useless and unnecessary fiction. The Civil War itself can be relitigated by other means, with a different outcome (accepting, for the moment, the conventional view that the North actually won). None of this is even remotely coherent, except that it all belongs to a fantasy narrative in which white heterosexual males are history’s most persecuted and marginalized group, having absorbed all the suffering of the African-Americans and Jews and Indians and women and improved upon it in their inimitable style.
Forces that we thought were dead in American public life, like the ideology of white supremacy and the legacy of the Confederacy, have returned in zombie form, imbued with bathos and victimology. If they’re not half as powerful as they once were, they’re still too ugly to be ignored. As we’ve seen all too recently, the deranged American minority that longs to “take our country back” from unspecified usurpers is zealous, well-organized and determined to befoul our political life into the indefinite future. Those forces remain dangerous,
Andrew O’Hehir, Solon.
This is an interesting map. Someone had taken a number of sociological studies and mapped the results. Apparently, there emerged in their minds the separate Americas pictured above. In political terms, the Democrats predominate in New Netherlands, El Norte, The Left Coast and Yankeedom and split with the Republicans in the Midlands and Tidewater. Republicans are concentrated in Greater Appalachia, the Deep South and the Far West while splitting with the Dems in New France.
If accurate, this map seems to indicate that contrary to the belief of many liberals and media types, the Republican Party is not a regional party restricted to the South but predominates in much of the center of the country. This is reflected to a great extent in the current makeup of the House of Representatives.
I suspect in the future El Norte to expand in the South West and the Dems to increase their political ascendancy over the Tidewater leaving the ongoing battle over the Midlands and Western Yankeedom the key to control of the nation’s political power.