Inventing Religion   (2016Mar30)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016                                            7:36 PM

I’m sure some of you have older siblings and I don’t know, maybe yours was an angelic and helpful soul—but my older brothers enjoyed nothing better than to mess with me or my younger siblings. Every strange woman was a witch—every home with an overgrown lawn was haunted—every barking dog was a killer who had recently broken its chain and would probably do so again today.


As children we find ourselves in a tight spot—we know that this information is almost certainly bogus—but we have no alternative sources of data. I knew my siblings were just trying to scare me—but maybe that lady really is a witch… Then we grow up and we look back on our surprising gullibility with amusement—as we listen to our older children tell our younger children the same spooky fairy tales and ghost stories.

Our parents might tell some whoppers too—Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy come to mind—but they take them back once we get to a certain age. Then our teachers teach us ‘history’ that we are meant to unlearn in maturity—Washington chopping down a cherry tree, etc. These simple memes help us put pins in the timeline of history that will be replaced later by the dry facts—so to call them lies would be exaggerating things a bit. Still, by the time family, friends and teachers are done with our childhoods, we end up with a great many voided checks of education—and an awareness that communication isn’t always about fact.


Having learned that people will tell us virtually anything in an attempt to manipulate us, we nevertheless spend the rest of our lives with an unquestioning belief in our religions. The fact that different styles of religion popped up in various regions of the world—just like languages—doesn’t dissuade us from holding firm to our faiths. The fact that religious authorities are famous for corruption and venality doesn’t dissuade us from respecting their ranks, as a group. Even having historical records showing that our religions have been modified over time by consensus of these authorities—even that does not shake our resolution to view these religions as solid and unchanging.

Then we hear of cults where people are deluded into self-destruction or slavery—and here we draw the line. Apparently, a religion that asks you to murder someone or to kill yourself is asking too much—yet all religions tell you how to live your life. The more pleasant the delusion, the more popular the faith. The difficulty we face now with Islamic extremists is that these people are simply hewing to the old, pre-industrial standards of religion—‘kill the infidel’ has been part of their faith for centuries—only the overpowering influence of Western science and technology has brought these places into acquaintance with pluralism and secular societies—and these memes, being imports, are sometimes resented rather than embraced.


We think of the global community as having been enlightened because they have cell-phones and fast-food outlets. We think of the Amish and tell ourselves that anyone with real old-timey religion will steer clear of technology—but that isn’t the case. Even in America we have evangelists who believe in a literal translation of the Bible—even to the point of denying fossil records and carbon-fourteen dating—but who nonetheless are perfectly comfortable using Twitter, microwaves, and Siri. In such cases, selective ignorance is required—they can study medicine, but must keep their distance from biology where it enters the realm of evolution—such as the transformation of viruses into new forms over time, or the presence of Neanderthal genes in an individual’s DNA sequence.

Plainly, everyone is open to new information, new tech, new gadgets—but new ideas are frightening and unwelcome. Information is our friend—until it isn’t—then we have to decide whether the new info is worth the loss of old assumptions. When cars are invented, the idea that we can travel a mile a minute is very welcome—when cars are found to emit toxic gasses, the idea that we have to change our cars, or stop using them altogether, is proportionately unwelcome. When close study convinced me that religion was a sham, the freedom from that delusion was quite welcome—the idea that the afterlife was, at the very least, far different, if it existed at all, was less welcome. No one is unhappier at a funeral than an atheist—we can’t even say all the comforting things that religious people find so believable.


But religion is like language in another way—we are raised on one of them and we aren’t inclined to switch to another, just for the sake of unity. Of the things that separate us, in truth, I’d place money and language ahead of religion—after all, while I don’t have a shred of belief, it is still a common feature of most people in most places—and religions, being invented, have certain common denominators. While this is sometimes used by the religious as ‘proof’ that God is everywhere, to me it seems more a connection to human nature—we invent the religions we most want to believe in.

But the older style of religion is unabashedly divisive—fear and hatred of the outsider is enthusiastically embraced—as is punishment for any show of aberration among the faithful. Power-players, especially in the Middle East, have long used this predilection as a way of exerting military and political power—and such people have little regard for the chaos they sow. Ironically, the people that ally themselves with such fundamentalism are a greater source for evil than any simple atheist like myself could ever be.


What is even stranger is that religions have historically been just that—evil and divisive—until the combination of the Reformation and King Henry VIII’s split with the church in Rome began the erosion of clerical power that ended with the founding of a country based on a forced separation of church and state. After that, religions, especially Christianity, began to be more domesticated and civilized until we have the almost completely secular America and Europe of today. That is strange because, by making themselves less intrusive, religions have made themselves harder to criticize—while, to an atheist, the delusions of lightly-held faiths and the delusions of radical extremists differ only by degree. We atheists are grateful that most of you don’t feel obliged to murder us in our sleep—but we still don’t understand why you keep ingesting the opium of the masses.

Easter Sunday   (2016Mar27)

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Sunday, March 27, 2016                                          1:22 PM

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I was braver when I was younger—partly because I didn’t know any better, but partly because I didn’t have any choice. I saw life’s objectives passing me by and I felt compelled to throw myself into the fray, dangerous or otherwise. I think that’s where we get the idea we can take ethical short-cuts along the way to our supposed goals—we start by learning to accept suicidally prohibitive risks under a cloud of inexperience and ignorance.

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Like most people, I can look back in wonder that I survived my youth, that I actually found someone to share my life with, and that I truly lived to see my children grow up healthy and happy. What are the odds? Astronomical. And I know that, not only with hindsight, but with the experience of a parent who has imagined numberless worst-case scenarios every time one of my kids left my sight.

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It’s that whole Schrodinger’s Cat paradox—someone who hadn’t heard of me since the day of my birth would have to figure the probabilities of someone my age being born in my year surviving and thriving sixty years later. Until they heard otherwise, there remains a possibility that I failed in some way. My present existence is a matter of chance, to a large degree—as is everyone else’s. The sudden loss of someone we know always reminds us of this and the shock of that reality, brought home, is as much a blow as the loss we feel.

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Why this preoccupation with risk management? Well, I was just looking out the front screen door and I saw a robin sitting on the ground at the bottom of our front stoop. I spoke to it—that usually makes them fly off, if my appearance hasn’t already done so—but it ignored me. Kinda spooky. So I opened the door—a sure-fire bird-fleeing move if there ever was one. The darn thing turned its head upside-down, looked me in the eye, and didn’t budge an inch.

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I told it, “Look, the flanking shrubberies have been used to nest before, but you get a lot of foot-traffic past here—it is our front door, after all— location, location, location. I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but you should think it over.” Then it flew away. Small animals often listen to me—I don’t know why. Maybe they like my piano-playing. I wish I could say the same for large animals.

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Spring is here, the cruelest month is almost upon us. New life begins its struggle and things get hectic, wild, and spontaneous. I think the worst thing Darwin and the biologists gave us is the knowledge that evolution is only concerned with reproduction. The drones all die after having serviced their queen. The male mantis loses its head as a post-coital snack for the mother-to-be. A sixty-year-old male has about as much purpose as a fish on a bicycle—his own life may be important to him personally but Mother Nature is done with him—and she makes no bones about it.

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The idea that people may live longer is hilarious to me—nothing but fear of death wrapped in science. Give me eternal youth and then maybe we can talk—although even being forever fruitful presents certain mathematical difficulties—they’re not making any more real estate, as the saying goes. Plus, parenthood, like puberty, is only glorious in retrospect—few of us would choose to repeat it. Perhaps that makes Christianity more attractive than Buddhism—with reincarnation, you do this all over again—with a Christian soul, you get to go somewhere new and different. But will they have Spring?

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Improv – Batty Batty Night   (2016Mar26)

Saturday, March 26, 2016                                        8:16 PM

Wearing my new ‘Dark Knight a la Van Gogh’ tee-shirt and my ‘Starry Starry Night’ socks, I felt inspired to play an impromptu novelette, “Batty Batty Night”:

A lone figure strolls Gotham’s streets unmolested—is that a fleeting swirl of black cape atop that building?—is that the bat-signal on the belly of the night’s clouds? ….

Aside from the political and satirical cartoonists of newspapers and The New Yorker, cartooning is a group effort. I don’t know how they’ve computerized it nowadays, but it used to be the original artists drew in pencil, other artists did the inking, others the lettering, and one more for the coloring. Even the creation of a comic book super-hero was collaborative—Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster created Superman. In 1989, Bob Kane conceded that Bill Finger was a co-creator of Batman—it was unfortunate that Finger had passed away in 1974. Wonder Woman was created by William M. Marston, his wife Elizabeth H. Marston, and Olive Byrne.

But comic books, like rock-and-roll or politics, deals in high-brow ideals, virtues, and courage—as subject matter—while the business itself is as seamy as any other—dealing in promotion, property rights, and profit. It’s as if they found a way to make a buck off of telling kids, ‘Yes, there is a Santa Claus.” But I like comics—I’m not knocking comics—they’re fun. It’s just that the comics biz is a business, like any other. People will argue over credit, prestige, and audience recognition—or simply over money.

I always had half a mind to be a comic book artist, but anatomy was never my strong suit. You have to admire the forced perspective in some of those frames—that’s tricky stuff to draw. I guess I was never happy about the tiny boxes—I preferred a bigger piece of paper—and one per drawing. They do that now, in the more modern graphic novels—full page pictures—oh well. Besides, commercial artists have to draw fast—they need to crank that stuff out—I was always slow as molasses.

Daily Doings   (2016Mar24)

Thursday, March 24, 2016                                                9:23 AM

Golly, what a week. You have no idea how busy I can be, doing nothing. In between manically surfing my cable-box’s channels, shuttling new-release movies in and out of my On-Demand cart, reading books on my Kindle, doing the daily NY Times crossword, setting up my camera to video my piano-playing, editing and posting piano videos, and writing blog-posts like this one—I’m also trading comments and thread-posts on Facebook, WordPress, YouTube, and Medium—sometimes for hours at a time.

There was an especially tricky crossword today—it involved a phrase being written in a circle—with no clues except that it was of a part with the theme of the puzzle. Once I finally completed the puzzle I felt a great wave of futility—and I realized why I only like the easy crosswords. A tough crossword is just as difficult as figuring out what I’m going to say when I write—but when I’m done, all I’ve done is figure out what someone else was saying—what a waste.

I feel a similar futility when I get drawn into protracted threads of debate—or even discussion—online. I’m typing messages to a stranger (or a group of strangers) then they type something in response—and what do you get out of it? Nothing. It’s pitiful what a person will do for distraction when there are no useful alternatives.

Most days are interrupted by pills, and again by a cigarette-rolling session (and maybe another rolling session, IYKWIM). And there are countless times in a day when I make myself a cup of tea. But that still leaves an entire day without responsibilities or tasks of any kind—hours that desperately need filling.

I remember a time when everything was the reverse—I once dreamed of the thousand and one things I would do if I wasn’t chained to a nine-to-five job that left me with barely enough energy to watch a little TV, go to bed, and do it all again the next day. That’s where most people live—so I don’t expect a lot of sympathy for having too much free time—I must sound like those people who try to explain how ‘hard’ it is being rich or famous or something.

Still, when I used to dream of free time, I assumed I’d be healthy and of sound mind—which is not entirely the case here in reality. Think of me as crippled, if that helps—I do—worse yet, I think of myself as someone who is invisibly crippled—I get to be disabled, but I have to explain that to anyone I meet (because it doesn’t show) and I don’t convince everyone—there are still plenty of people who think I’m just lazy and rude—a quitter. Some things just can’t be absorbed by people who haven’t experienced it themselves. And if I thought it was frustrating being kept from my dreams of accomplishment by a steady job, it was nothing compared to this maddening inability to do anything requiring stamina, deftness, focus, or memory.

That does bring a certain amount of variety to my blog-posts, though. Since I can’t work on anything for days on end, I start each day as a blank slate—this past week I’ve done posts about piano-playing, music, copyright disputes, banking, terrorism, politics, literature, poetry, autobiography, history, and science fiction. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was fascinating. But here I sit in an empty room (and on a beautiful day—really beautiful) just typing away whatever comes into my head—hardly fascinating.

My most continual ‘effort’ lately has been my CD-rippings to my new hard drive—I have a huge CD collection; my old hard drive died weeks ago; and I’m only about one hundred CDs in (about 5 Gbytes worth) right now. I forget that I’m doing it some days—but these last three days I’ve been going at it pretty steadily, and there’re still months of ripping ahead. Nowadays, with everything being downloaded, a shelf full of CDs just seems like a waste—no one will ever listen to any of it unless it’s stored digitally.

Conversely, when I’m done, I’ll be able to buy another $40 hard drive and copy the whole collection for a friend or relative—that’s the equivalent of thousands of dollars’ worth of music that I can just give somebody—that’ll be nice. It’s about half classical and half the popular music of my generation—it would take weeks of 24-7 playing to listen to all of it—so there’s bound to be one or two people that would enjoy that.

The thing that takes the most effort in ripping CDs is when you hit a CD that doesn’t load all the info automatically—you who don’t listen to classical music may have never experienced that—but there are many obscure and ancient recordings on CD, and typing in the track-title, artist, and composer for every track on the CD can be painfully tedious—especially wearing the hi-magnification specs I usually need to decipher most CD printing. Plus, Windows Media Player is ridiculously touchy—and if my palsied fingers brush against the wrong key before I hit ‘Rip CD’, all my typing may disappear and I’ll have to start all over—I’ve learned to be very careful when doing this.

Finally, when I just despair of being productive, I play Snood or Candy Crush or my favorite, Candy Crush Soda. I play way too much of this foolishness—not every day, but more days than I’m proud of. That’s when I realize that people don’t need to accomplish anything much more than keeping busy at something that amuses them. In “The Matrix” the ‘nightmare’ scenario was that everyone was plugged into a virtual reality that wasn’t real—but let’s face it—the only thing wrong with that world was that the virtual reality they were trapped in wasn’t any fun. If the evil aliens had created a seductive virtual reality, then the humans would have told their hero, Neo, to get lost.

Old Songs   (2016Mar23)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016                                            2:07 PM

A fresh day in early spring—this is what we’ve earned by our patience through the long, dreary winter. The daffodils have a white pallor that suits them and belies the bright yellow they will eventually achieve. Here in the foyer the front door is ajar. A light breeze is clearing out the tobacco smoke and mixing in heady earth-tones of life stirring in the mud.


My head is clear and my mood is solid—something I’ve learned to appreciate for its increasing rarity. I’m also thankful about many other things I took for granted, back when they were so plentiful and constant I mistook them for permanent fixtures rather than the glory of youth.

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My daughter’s gift for my sixtieth birthday was socks—Superman socks, Spiderman socks—an embarrassment of super-hero socks. She knows me too well. Not every adult is comfortable sporting Superman socks—I have no problem with wearing anything silly—red plaid pants with green plaid shirt and argyle socks—I don’t care. I never leave the house—and when I do, I assume everyone’s staring at me anyway because I’m kinda neurotic—so if they really stare at my socks, I don’t think anything of it. Life can’t have too much color in it, if you ask me. I could never be cool because cool people only wear black. I’ll wait for the funeral, thanks.

Okay, so—why play these creaky old tunes? Is it ironic? Well, maybe a little—but not entirely—some of them are fun, some are funny, some are just a great tune. Take, for example, “Paddlin’ Madelin’ Home”—now this song has got the silliest lyrics ever—and I’m not entirely sure the lyrics aren’t ingenuously sexual—they’re certainly suggestive. And “Yes! We Have No Bananas”—what kind of monster could fail to love that song? It makes no sense at all—I love things that make no sense at all. And I can’t sing “The Sheik of Araby” without picturing a mob of flappers swooning over Valentino wearing too much kohl around his eyes.


Old songs—the more I play them, the dearer they become to me. I think my favorite songs are still the ones I learned in grade-school assemblies and Boy Scout campfire sing-alongs. As a teen I was always eager for the latest hits—but I think people generally prefer songs they’ve heard over and over—it’s more fun when you don’t even have to think about it to sing along.

Today’s improv, “Extra-Sharp”, is passable–but you can skip the “Player Ade” improv from a few days ago–if it were anything special, I wouldn’t have waited so long to post it.




All Men Are Brothers (2016Mar23)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016                                            6:29 PM

All Men Are Brothers

(or – It’s A Mistake To Be Afraid)

There’s a reason why Europe is more exposed to terrorist cells—in the US, we encourage integration of immigrants. Perhaps we have clumps of ethnicity or religion, particularly when the incoming culture is insular to begin with, but that is the exception rather than the rule. In Europe, from what I understand, Middle-Easterners have their own communities—and the Europeans prefer it that way. I heard that in Brussels recent reports about potential extremist suspects went unexamined partly due to their habit of letting that conclave ‘police itself’. That sounds suspiciously like they’re saying the immigrant community is officially invisible—the better to ignore and isolate them.

But we have such conclaves in the US, too—some of the blame falls on the immigrants for shunning the whole melting-pot experience and remaining purposely insular. But let’s face it—this behavior is easier to come by when the natives aren’t too fond of you to begin with. Britain had a fairly hands-off approach to their Middle-Eastern immigrant communities, just like Brussels—until the terror attacks there made that policy seem too lax.

But properly policing such areas is just a detail—these areas are obviously neglected by civic authority in many ways—and for the same reason they are so cohesive—the immigrants have not been made entirely welcome. They have not been absorbed by their new homelands, they have only been tolerated within them. Even some parts of the US have these hardened nodes of acculturation.

With the recent bombings in Brussels, I’ve seen two reactions—one is an obvious increase in police presence in Brussels’ immigrant community—and the other is candidate Ted Cruz’s call to restrain Muslim-Americans within their communities.

As for Europe, they, like us, will need the good graces of their Muslim nationals to combat terrorism. For Europeans to crack down on already-neglected communities within Europe—and to start shunning desperate refugees fleeing the violence in the Middle East—is exactly what they shouldn’t be doing. By lumping their potential allies in with their enemies, they are well on their way to making all Muslims their enemy.

America’s Cruz doubles down on his error—as usual. Not only does the same principal apply to the US as to Europe—but here in America, most Muslims don’t live in one lump community—most of them live next door to some other kind of American. The few ‘communities’ that Cruz’s plan could apply to, therefore, includes the merest fraction of all Muslim-Americans. But that’s Cruz—the flag-bearer of the party of stupid.

We have to act on intelligence related to a suspected terrorist. But we also have to give all Muslims the respect and due-process we owe to any citizen. The Brussels attack, like the Boston Marathon bombing, was executed by a pair of brothers. The fear and isolation of the West creates a simmering pot, reduced to a smaller and smaller, hotter and hotter core of frustration. We ostracize them into a small community, they often divide themselves by gender—so you get a bunch of young males sitting around—neglected, underserved, frustrated, feeling excluded from opportunity and equal rights—and eventually angry.

We must continue to hunt down terrorists. But isn’t it even more important that we avoid, as far as possible, manufacturing new ones? Set aside fairness or justice or even good manners—we still need Muslims to be our friends and allies in the fight against extremism.

That isn’t to say that we should stay as we are—part of the problem is we’ve been too insular already, too ready to neglect people we don’t know or understand. We should not be discussing stemming the flow of immigrant refugees—we should be planning how we can dazzle them with the peace, plenty, and security that all people deserve—and that we, with a lot of effort and a little courage, have the capacity to offer them.

Every refugee that we can comfortable ensconce in the lap of the West is not just subtracted from the ranks of potential terrorists—he or she will become one more champion of freedom and liberty, ready to defend it with their lives. If we fail to do this, our cowardice will doom them and us. When FDR said ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself’, he wasn’t just saying that we should overcome fear—he was saying that fear is the enemy. Or, as may be the case in our current situation, fear creates the enemy.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride   (2016Mar21)


Monday, March 21, 2016                                                  5:57 PM

That was snow—they weren’t wrong—but it came when we were sleeping and left before lunch, melting away in embarrassment from showing up on the first day of Spring. This weather is weird. But I’m not freaking out. Climate change is a disturbing vision, but I’ve been on worse planets than this.

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I read a lot of Dickens and other old classics way back when—those sorts of books really put you right in the picture—I could sense the streets, the parlors, the vernacular, the pace, the mores, the rhythm of the changing seasons as experienced in a prior century or two. It became clear to me that life was not always the way I was used to life being.


I read science fiction, too—Verne and Huxley, Clarke and Asimov, and many others. These stories imagined a future time, with changed streets, different mores, and settings and devices that would seem strange if they appeared in our present. They sparked my imagination just as the classics had—but made me think of how the present might change over time and become something unimaginably different from what I was used to—just as my time was so very different from the days of Dickens.


Now that reality has, in many ways, surpassed the wildest surmises of the sixties science fiction writers, I feel unusually well-prepared compared to the average person. While I was certainly surprised to see bookstores fade away overnight—along with stationary stores, tobacco shops, electronics stores—and sometimes whole small-town main streets full of stores and shops, replaced by a K-Mart or a Target—I was not shocked. When the state of Florida becomes a coral reef in ten years, I’ll just make sure I don’t buy property there—I’m not going to run around hysterical, like my hair was on fire. My childhood had prepared me for a changing future. I can’t help but wonder if some well-chosen science fiction reading might not be good insight for all schoolchildren.


Then again, today’s kids would probably read e-books off an LCD screen—they are born into a ceaselessly changing culture and will live a ‘science fiction’ existence through their formative years—so perhaps my reading list would be unnecessary—it is certainly outdated.


Alvin Toffler wrote his “Future Shock” in 1970—it warned of information overload and social isolation—and we are living his prophesy—though many techno-geeks in Silicon Valley would ‘sell’ that as miraculous progress, rather than a problem. It’s a tough call—but one thing that’s undeniable is that we are giving up something in exchange for our brave new world—and we don’t know ourselves well enough to judge right now whether we’ll come to regret some of those losses—we’re in a ‘new is better’ autopilot mode now.


Early Europeans deforested their continent to the point where they saw the New World’s virgin forests’ lumber as a treasure trove. Early Native Americans of both continents hunted their large game animals to extinction—so they never saw a cow or a horse until the European invaders imported them. American cities nearly choked themselves to death before they recognized the smog situation and started limiting and filtering exhaust—and now the Chinese, having done the same damned thing fifty years afterward, are just starting to legislate emissions-controls. Anyone who thinks that humankind as a group will show some self-control in the face of dire consequences is no student of history.


In the case of our new, digital culture, we don’t even know what sort of harm we’re inviting with all these changes—so we’re certainly going to keep right on merrily doing whatever we do—and even when the cracks start to show, we’ll just shrug it off and bull ahead. Sounds like a wild ride.


But Writing Isn’t Easy   (2016Mar20)

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Sunday, March 20, 2016                                          10:12 PM

As with most days, I’ve had images fed into my head through the television all day, some of them entertainment, some news, some political—and I could recount them all for you, as if you hadn’t seen the same stuff—or, if you haven’t seen any of it, I could spare you the trouble—and let me tell you, some of it was troubling—so I won’t upset either of us by doing that. Then I could give you my opinion about it all, after carefully phrasing it so that I had some chance of being interesting or amusing—but there are people that do that for a living. Who am I to try to take the bread out of the mouths of professional pundits?


Most of my political posts, especially the ones about current events, are my version of the ‘primal scream’—do you remember primal scream therapy? Do they still do that? I remember thinking—that’s a great idea—most people could use a good scream every now and then. But I’m not much for screaming, so I blog about things that upset me. The only trouble is—it usually just makes me more upset. Maybe that’s why you don’t hear much about primal scream therapy any more.


I get confused, too. There’s so much—should I debate the logic of a thing, the legality of it, the constitutionality of it, the humanity of it, the practicality of it? Should I cite history? That’s always dangerous—most history doesn’t have a beginning or an end, so if you start talking about one thing, you’re bound to run up against other things that may hurt your argument more than help it. Should I argue the semantics of what’s been said? Should I argue the meaning implied by the words? Should I just call someone an idiot—or is there more to it, something that makes that someone merely ignorant or neurotic? If I write too stridently about the ‘right thing’ will I come off as too goody-two-shoes? And if I soft-peddle the ‘right thing’ will I be consigned to that ninth circle of hell reserved for the uncommitted?


Then there’s my being an atheist—should I bring that up if I think the issue is influenced by religion—or should I avoid it because it’s such a heavy thing to bring to the party? Is it better to avoid the subject for being unpleasant—or will I feel better if I’m painfully honest at all times? As with anything that involves society, there’s a part of writing that assumes you’re writing to be read—if you’re not going to think about the reader, then why are you writing? On the other hand, why are you writing if you’re not going to say what you think? Both good questions—and the question isn’t simplified any by the fact that readers’ brains come in all shapes and sizes.


I used to draw—it taught me something important. One person would look at a drawing and say they thought it great—then that person would look at another drawing and say it was a clunker. Then another person would give me the exact opposite opinions about the same two drawings. Proof positive—you can’t please everybody—there’s no such thing as good—there’s just what someone likes. Sometimes a lot of people will like the same thing—that’s just a coincidence—and there are still going to be people that don’t like a popular thing, anyway.


Well, coincidence is the wrong word—it’s not a coincidence that people like Van Gogh’s paintings or Beethoven’s compositions—but there is something ineffable about ‘great’ art—no one can really say what makes it great. They can tell you why it’s impressive, why it’s well-designed or something—but not why the whole world wakes up one morning and declares a thing great. Still, not everybody likes Beethoven—even if it’s just because they haven’t much listened to his music—and if Ludwig can’t get a 100% approval rating, then neither can you.


That’s why arts teachers are always harping on just pleasing yourself—you’re your own proof-of-concept—if you like what you write or draw or play, then you have at least one person in your audience. However many people might eventually agree with you is something you can’t really do much about.


Still, when I write, I’m inviting someone to spend time on reading me—and I know that I have to capture someone’s interest if I expect the whole thing to be read. You shouldn’t work to please an audience—but your work must have consideration for an audience—a subtle point, but it still makes it all very confusing. Worse still is the question of autobiography—when is TMI TMI? When does a story of my past involving someone I know stop being reminiscence and cross the line into defamation and libel—of them, or myself? Conversely, how much investment can I expect from readers if I’m too shy about my shortcomings or mistakes to tell the real story? If I write about bending the law here and there, am I telling a good story or am I publishing a criminal confession? It’s looks easy—writing isn’t easy.

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You’ve Got To Pay For The Lawyers   (2016Mar20)

Sunday, March 20, 2016                                          2:41 PM

Happy Vernal Equinox (1st day of Spring) everyone! It’s colder today than it was on Xmas, so of course they’ve forecast a little snow for the area.

I’ve been asked about copyright issues. First, let me disclaim any education, pre-law or otherwise—I don’t really know anything—I can only give what is my present understanding of how these things go. Firstly, aside from my downloadable e-CD, “Opus Eleven by XperDunn”, I don’t have anything profit-based online—my YouTube videos are downloadable and are all part of their Community-Usage pool of material, my blog is not subscription-based, and I have nothing for sale on E-Bay—I’m a non-profit user.

As I understand it, that doesn’t exempt me from copyright law, it just makes me a low-value target for the litigious—unlike successful artists, who it seems must spend a great deal of time and money fending off pretenders to their work, valid or spurious. Were anything of mine to go viral, or to show any revenue-earning potential, then I would have rich people’s problems—but don’t hold your breath.

As far as what you can post to YouTube, there aren’t any hard and fast rules—you can even post a favorite album of yours, if you go to the trouble of making a video out of it. But if you do that, and the band you posted doesn’t like it, YouTube’ll take it down. What I do is slightly different. I post covers of music—meaning I perform a piece of piano music on video and post that.

A lot of my stuff is classical or folk—and that stuff is in the Public Domain—which means it’s at least a hundred years old and no one can ‘own’ it. But I do a fair number of jazz and pop covers from songbooks—and in these cases both the original music belongs to someone else—and the piano arrangement rights belong to the publisher of whatever book I’m sight-reading. Here’s the weird part—I own the video of my own performance.

In the case of covers, YouTube will send you an email asking you to agree that the song doesn’t belong to you—but they leave the video posted online. I always include a ‘cover’ tag with any such post of mine, just so nobody can claim I was trying to pull something. When I’m not feeling lazy, I try to include the credits and copyright info for each cover-song in my description text as well. It may subsequently have a suggestion-link that uses your video to sell the original artists’ e-tracks—but even if they don’t use it as advertising, the cover post itself is free publicity. Unpopular YouTube channels like mine don’t get a lot of views—and if I post a really bad cover, even my channel subscribers don’t watch it—so it isn’t as if it hurts the composer—unless he or she listens to it.

Perhaps I hadn’t made it clear in my previous posts about copyright claim disputes—in my case, it’s all about the principle of the thing. My sole downloadable CD for sale hasn’t sold even once in two years, that I know of—and that’s pretty much what I expected. Only when an artist generates revenue does the issue of copyright become a serious legal matter—after all, you’ve got to pay for the lawyers. If you are a piano player, like me (or play any instrument, or if you sing) then you should feel free to post whatever you record—nobody is going to sue you. No one’s going to pay you either, but no one’ll sue you.


Enjoy your Sunday.

YouTube and CD Baby are Ripping Me Off – Part II (2016Mar13)

Friday, March 18, 2016                                            1:53 PM

Here is the text from my latest YouTube copyright dispute:

CD Baby is a service through which I uploaded a CD’s worth of digital tracks [now available for sale on CD Baby, Amazon, and I-Tunes: “Opus Eleven” by Xper Dunn]. Today I’ve received multiple Copyright Notices from YouTube telling me that CD Baby is claiming the rights to all my videos of the same mp3 tracks on the album.

Today, I’ve been notified of two specific tracks:

Video title: Improv – I’m Thru (2014Nov18) – Copyrighted song: I’m Thru – Claimed by: CD Baby

Video title: Improv – Book To Movie (2014Nov11) – Copyrighted song: Book to Movie – Claimed by: CD Baby

I may have naively clicked on some EULA approval box designed to steal my rights—but even if the law allows CD Baby to rip me off for the audio rights, that still doesn’t give them any claim on the videos—or so it seems to me.

Four previous attacks have been ended by emails stating: “Your dispute wasn’t reviewed within 30 days, so the copyright claim on your YouTube video has now been released.” And, while I’m glad that is so—it doesn’t address the overall issue—as is shown by these two new claims being made.

I would appreciate it if YouTube would respond to these reprehensible attacks on my ownership of original content created, performed, and recorded by no one but myself. Please advise.

[End of Dispute text]

So, there’s the YouTube mess continuing on—me vs. the robots that run the site, to all appearances. But that’s not all. Yesterday I had some fun with my CITI card:

Thursday, March 17, 2016                                      3:53 PM

Bunch of Billionaire Crooks   (2016Mar17)

I was paying my Citi credit card bill online when I downloaded the activity on the account and saw these charges:

3/17/2015 $7.07         Payment Safeguard 1-877-242-5987

4/16/2015 $1.22         Payment Safeguard 1-877-242-5987

6/16/2015 $0.93         Payment Safeguard 1-877-242-5987

7/16/2015 $1.52         Payment Safeguard 1-877-242-5987

8/18/2015 $1.60         Payment Safeguard 1-877-242-5987

9/16/2015 $0.30         Payment Safeguard 1-877-242-5987

10/16/2015        $0.41         Payment Safeguard 1-877-242-5987

11/17/2015        $3.04         Payment Safeguard 1-877-242-5987

Now, I’d heard of this sort of thing—a bunch of little charges on banking statements that you’re supposed to overlook—after all, it’s only little tiny charges, right?

So I called the number—it’s some kind of credit service company that covers outstanding debt payments when you lose your job or go broke generally. I think to myself—‘hell—I’m on disability—why would I buy insurance on my credit card debt?’ I figure they must have snagged me disguised as some ‘free service’ or as a banking option offered by Citi themselves—got me to check some box—or maybe allow a pre-checked box to go by without un-checking it—either way, these people did not get my name in any straightforward manner.

So I call Citi—they want my name, account#, account# of the checking account I use to pay their bills—then they wanted my pet’s name—I don’t have a pet. I was put on hold for a supervisor—by the time she got on the line, I’d remembered my daughter’s late dog’s name was probably what they had on file. But since she was a supervisor, she asked a few more ‘security questions’—she wanted to send me a verification code on my cellphone—and could she have that number? Finally she asked me what the problem was.

I told her. She had a devil of a time finding these seven charges on my account activity (even though my last year’s worth of account activity on that card comes to no more than fifty lines of charges and payments). Then she put me back on hold for the fourth time—gets back on the line—tells me she’s connected me to a Payment Safeguard representative—and hangs up.

Now I’m on the line with these people—“What can I do for you.” “Cancel my account please.” –another long hold— “Is there anything else I can help you with, today?” “If you can assure me that I won’t see any more charges on my bill, then I’m satisfied.” “Well, Mr. Dunn, depending on your billing cycle for your card, there might be one more charge—but that will be the last one.”

Yeah, right. I’ll believe it when I see it. I hate banks—bunch a crooks. I hate customer service—soulless bastards. Bunch of billionaires nickel-and-diming the rest of us into endless debt. This whole cold-blooded, mindless, inhumane system will burn to the ground some day—and they’ll be getting off easy, at that. Bastards.

A Pretty Good Day   (2016Mar16)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016                                            9:22 PM

I’ve been having a pretty good day—my blood tests came back and I’m all good—and while that leaves my recent lack of pizzazz a mystery, it’s still excellent news. Claire and I are discussing that possibility of my return to anti-depressants—at least for a few months to see if it’s an important factor in my quality-of-headspace.


I wrote a poem this morning that I found funny—I like to be funny, even if I’m not funny to everyone. Then I wrote a blog-post about how science fiction could save the world—which is also kinda funny, but not really, since the world appears in need of a little saving, in spots. And here I’ve just finished getting a decent improv on record—which I’m about to edit and upload to YouTube. Plus, I’ve just been in a better-than-usual mood all day.

Maybe it’s politics—I’m for Hillary, and the only person she needs to beat, after last night, is that mess the Republicans are stuck with. I have high hopes that America’s voters still have more than 50% sane people to match against the frighteningly large number of maniacs who actually think she’s the problem, and that billionaire bully the solution. I was worried that Bernie might get her, but his popularity appears to have grown too little too late. Nothing against the idea of Bernie as President—but as Candidate, his extremism would only drive more fence-sitters over to that GOP megalomaniac. Anyway, I’m cautiously optimistic that Hillary will end up our new president, as she should be. The idea of the alternative has already sparked a new record-high number of searches on ‘moving to Canada’—but wouldn’t it be easier if we all stay here, and Trump moves on to his next TV show (where he can only destroy viewers’ minds)? Keep it simple.

My wife thinks it’s because I got a good night’s sleep—to quote her, “You should never get up before noon, Bozo.” I don’t know—maybe she’s right. But I fear that getting up at noon one day is more a symptom of an irregular sleeping pattern than a reproducible result. Perhaps she just wants me to stay in bed (and out of her hair) ‘til noon—asleep or otherwise—ha ha. Can you blame her?

Today’s music has me first down in the dumps then up in the clouds, so I named them accordingly. I’ve been getting a great deal of sheet-music on video, but it’s all so bad I can’t watch the replay—I don’t know what the problem’s been lately—I can’t post any of it. But I still get a decent improv here and there.


Good night.


One Step Progress, Two Steps Capitalism   (2016Mar16)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016                                            4:35 PM

As the number of people who need to support themselves becomes more and more disconnected from the needs of employers because of robotics, automation, digital innovations, and smart systems, we approach a point where the economy won’t need humans—with the single discrepancy that they’ll still need customers. Scholastic failings that were once only a limitation to avenues of employment now close off any possibility of an above-board job. The number of jobs falls while the skill-set requirements climb. This is a self-imposed evolutionary winnowing effect—except that, unlike natural selection, the losers are not prevented from multiplying—they are simply excluded from the paradise at the top of the pyramid, consigned to endless deprivation and insecurity, someplace where the rich don’t have to look at them.

I’ve often advocated experimenting in a government minimum allowance policy that would be paid for by business taxes—a way of forcing business to take responsibility for the whole worker pool, instead of cherry-picking the best and leaving the rest to rot. But after consideration, it’s occurred to me that such a program would only shift the problem onto government—that the only way to equally balance the riches of productivity with the needs of all the people is to replace Capitalism and the monetary system itself with something less cold-blooded. And, obviously, this would require global cooperation—something far more complex than a national legislative reform—which makes it even farther from the realm of possibility than socializing the USA—which was pretty far out there to begin with. Still, I figure if you want to fix something, fix it right—even if it’s only in your own head.

We once had neither the sophistication nor the organization to consider a socialized society—although socialized communities have had some notable successes—and failures. We all recognize the togetherness of an extended family—but for some reason, we don’t try to widen the circle—perhaps because families can be stifling sometimes, and we don’t want to have even more people in our business all the time—that’s understandable. But we naturally accept the strength and security of that group unity—unity makes people into super-people—the bigger the group, the more united, the more unstoppable they are. One reason people don’t consider a socialized global village is, maybe, because it blows your mind.

Imagine a world where job creation was focused on offering people satisfying lives—where the arms industry and the military-industrial complex died of starvation—where space exploration wasn’t a race, or a business, but a true frontier—where we made just the slightest effort to extend our social progress to meet our technological strides. We’re talking about another planet—another species—no wonder it seems so far-fetched. That’s not a place where real humans live—sad, but true.

We know that global productivity can handle feeding everybody—if feeding everybody was our goal. And the same is true for all the practical and medical needs of every person—we are able to support them—if supporting them were our goal. But this thought—a ‘better world for everybody’—was at the back of the minds of all the people who researched and experimented and crusaded, fought and died for our modern world of freedom and equality. In a perfect world, yes—but in a Capitalist world, ‘everyone’ becomes ‘everyone with money’—and that’s a problem. Our eyes are on one horizon, but the tracks our train is riding on head the other way.

YouTube and CD Baby are Ripping Me Off   (2016Mar13)

Sunday, March 13, 2016                                                    1:20 PM

I’ve complained previously about how YouTube will try to snatch my videos’ copyrights away just because my classical-piano-music posts have the same title as some label-signed virtuoso, even though the recordings are my own performance of a centuries-old piece of music, long passed into public domain.

Now I’m confronted by a new wrinkle—CD Baby is a service through which I uploaded a CD’s worth of digital tracks [now available for sale on CD Baby, Amazon, and I-Tunes: “Opus Eleven” by Xper Dunn]. Suddenly, today I’ve received multiple Copyright Notices from YouTube telling me that CD Baby is claiming the rights to all my videos of the same mp3 tracks on the album.

So far, I’ve been notified of four specific tracks:

Video title: Improv – On The ‘A’ Line (2014Oct28) – Copyrighted song: On the ‘A’ Line – Claimed by: CD Baby

Video title: Piano Cover: “When I Fall In Love” (plus “Improv- When In Love With Shakespeare”) (2014Oct21) – Copyrighted song: When in Love With Shakespeare – Claimed by: CD Baby

Video title: Improv – The Starfish-Annointed (2014Oct15) – Copyrighted song: The Starfish-Annointed – Claimed by: CD Baby

Video title: Improv – Noble Gaseous (2014Nov03) – Copyrighted song: Noble Gaseous – Claimed by: CD Baby

I assume that CD Baby will eventually make claims on all the tracks from the CD I so naively clicked on the EULA approval box for. Now, even if the law allows CD Baby to rip me off for the audio rights, that still doesn’t give them any claim on the videos—or so it seems to me.

I would appreciate it if YouTube would respond to this reprehensible attack on my ownership of original content created, performed, and recorded by no one but myself. Please advise.

[This is the text of my claim dispute submitted to YouTube.]

Old Books   (2016Mar13)

Sunday, March 13, 2016                                          3:13 AM

I used to burrow through the complete works of old authors—it was so comfortable in the worlds they created—a slower, more intimate and more gentle place than the present.

Just take a look at this:



THAT Winter was a very cold one. And one night in December, when they were all sitting round the warm fire in the kitchen, and the Doctor was reading aloud to them out of books he had written himself in animal-language, the owl, Too-Too, suddenly said, “Sh! What’s that noise outside?”

They all listened; and presently they heard the sound of some one running. Then the door flew open and the monkey, Chee-Chee, ran in, badly out of breath.

“Doctor!” he cried, “I’ve just had a message from a cousin of mine in Africa. There is a terrible sickness among the monkeys out there. They are all catching it—and they are dying in hundreds. They have heard of you, and beg you to come to Africa to stop the sickness.”

“Who brought the message?” asked the Doctor, taking off his spectacles and laying down his book.

“A swallow,” said Chee-Chee. “She is outside on the rain-butt.”

“Bring her in by the fire,” said the Doctor. “She must be perished with the cold. The swallows flew South six weeks ago!”

So the swallow was brought in, all huddled and shivering; and although she was a little afraid at first, she soon got warmed up and sat on the edge of the mantelpiece and began to talk.”

– from: “The Story of Doctor Dolittle” by Hugh Lofting

Isn’t that delightful? Could you imagine a cozier scene? There were many things I didn’t care for in the Doctor Dolittle books—but I was hooked on the sense of contentment that radiated from each tale’s beginning and end—there were adventures—sure—but they were always bracketed by scenes of tea or a pipe-smoke, in an easy chair by a warm fireplace. It speaks perhaps more to my need for quiet and contentment than to any great skill of Mr Lofting as an author.

Or how about this fragment from an introduction to another great children’s book:

“This country is not Fairyland. What is it? ‘Tis the land of Fancy, and is of that pleasant kind that, when you tire of it—whisk!—you clap the leaves of this book together and ’tis gone, and you are ready for everyday life, with no harm done.

And now I lift the curtain that hangs between here and No-man’s-land. Will you come with me, sweet Reader? I thank you. Give me your hand.”

– from the introduction to: “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” by Howard Pyle

It seemed to me that no one could read such a preface without settling more deeply into their armchair and opening their mind to the verdant clearings about olde Nottingham Wood, busy with bold yeomen, rubicund friars, and good fellows who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.

Or try this—from the introduction to a book so bound up in chivalry and honor and nobility that even the words have straight backs and stiff upper lips:

“Then to proceed forth in this said book, the which I direct unto all noble princes, lords and ladies, gentlemen or gentlewomen, that desire to read or hear read of the noble and joyous history of the great conqueror and excellent king, King Arthur, sometime king of this noble realm, then called Britain; I, William Caxton, simple person, present this book following,”

– from Will Caxton’s preface to: “Le Morte D’Arthur” (Sir Thomas Malory’s Book of King Arthur and of his Noble Knights of the Round Table)

How happy I was to find, later on, that even the adult fare of long ago was couched in intimate, trusting honesty:

“This little work was finished in the year 1803, and intended for immediate publication. It was disposed of to a bookseller, it was even advertised, and why the business proceeded no farther, the author has never been able to learn. That any bookseller should think it worth-while to purchase what he did not think it worth-while to publish seems extraordinary. But with this, neither the author nor the public have any other concern than as some observation is necessary upon those parts of the work which thirteen years have made comparatively obsolete. The public are entreated to bear in mind that thirteen years have passed since it was finished, many more since it was begun, and that during that period, places, manners, books, and opinions have undergone considerable changes.”

– Advertisement by the Authoress, To “Northanger Abbey” [by Jane Austen]

One of my favorite features of these older writers was their complete lack of concern with the length of their sentences—or with how long they took to make a point:

“Chapter I.

Treats of a Place Where Oliver Twist was born, and of the Circumstances Attending his Birth.

Among other public buildings in a certain town which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, it boasts of one which is common to most towns, great or small, to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born, on a day and date which I need not take upon myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events, the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.”

– from:  “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens

Even in sophistication, we find cynicism and the weight of experience translated into the subtlest of sentiments:

“The Memoires of Barry Lyndon, Esq.

Chapter I. My Pedigree and Family–Undergo the Influence of the Tender Passion

Since the days of Adam, there has been hardly a mischief done in this world but a woman has been at the bottom of it. Ever since ours was a family (and that must be very NEAR Adam’s time,—so old, noble, and illustrious are the Barrys, as everybody knows) women have played a mighty part with the destinies of our race.

I presume that there is no gentleman in Europe that has not heard of the house of Barry of Barryogue, of the kingdom of Ireland, than which a more famous name is not to be found in Gwillim or D’Hozier; and though, as a man of the world, I have learned to despise heartily the claims of some PRETENDERS to high birth who have no more genealogy than the lacquey who cleans my boots, and though I laugh to utter scorn the boasting of many of my countrymen, who are all for descending from kings of Ireland, and talk of a domain no bigger than would feed a pig as if it were a principality; yet truth compels me to assert that my family was the noblest of the island, and, perhaps, of the universal world; while their possessions, now insignificant and torn from us by war, by treachery, by the loss of time, by ancestral extravagance, by adhesion to the old faith and monarch, were formerly prodigious, and embraced many counties, at a time when Ireland was vastly more prosperous than now. I would assume the Irish crown over my coat-of-arms, but that there are so many silly pretenders to that distinction who bear it and render it common.”

– from: “Barry Lyndon” By William Makepeace Thackeray

I could read this syrup all day—it often made me despair of having been born too late—into a world that has no time or patience for such graceful effusion.

And I couldn’t just pick up such books and start reading them, like a magazine or a newspaper—these books were fine wines—they had to be set up for, settled in for, and my mind had to be quiet enough for their delicate traceries to take hold of my imagination—they were too quiet to break through to a mind caught up in 20th century busyness.

However, once well started, great books became another world, so distinct and real that I would hurry through whatever obstacles stood between me and a return to those pages—and once back there, I was not easily drawn back into consciousness of the world around me. I didn’t study these works as ‘classic literature’—I didn’t attend to the structure, plot, or characterizations—I simply consumed the story, swept up in a vicarious universe. I couldn’t even remember what I’d read—not in the way of a student—they were movies that played in my mind—my involvement was total.

Well, things aren’t quite like that anymore. Like many of my former pursuits, my reading has been rendered difficult, brief, and harder to get lost in. Plus, there isn’t much left, unless I start re-reading those same books (not a terrible idea). But reading remains my favorite thing to do—I’m a bookworm, tried and true. Give me a choice between a good book and a good time in real life—and I’ll retire to find my reading glasses and a comfortable chair.

All that being said, I made two videos today—the first is a brief improv, but the second is an interesting collection of seven short works by the baroque German composer, Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), who was self-taught and became a musician against his parents’ wishes—two things I admire in any person.



Goodnight for now…

Daylight Is Their Greatest Enemy   (2016Mar12)


Saturday, March 12, 2016                                        12:42 PM

In the present political climate I often wonder how the world I grew up in became so surreally chaotic. But then I realize that the staid and stuffy aspects of society that bothered me as a youngster have all been, to varying degrees, knocked into rubble—silence is no longer the answer to an ugly problem. And we have found many ugly problems had been caused by the suppression of beautiful people—real people, not just the idealized Dicks and Janes of the 1950s. That people, in all their variety, can no longer be publicly shamed for being different, in whatever way, is a great step forward—but institutionalized biases persist—and individual families’ lore makes bigotry an eternal legacy—so true equality and acceptance continue to elude America.


We have today a clash that was impossible in the 1950s—Plurality has won many Supreme Court battles, from Thurgood Marshall’s historic vindications to the recent acceptance of gay marriage—thus the laws that made equality a joke have all been deemed unconstitutional—but the personal hatred and fear still persists. The cancer of Capitalism confuses the issue enormously—especially because lots of old, bigoted, homophobic, evangelical white men have most of the money. The opium of Religion confuses the issue, too, by supporting ancient codes of morality that predate both science and medicine, i.e. they were written by ignorant people—and by making up ‘teams’, each religion vying for supremacy, as god intended—their god, anyway.


In the 1960s, the growing liberal population was relegated to the ‘sub-culture’—equality and free speech used to be something of an underground movement, vulnerable to police brutality and legislative bans. Criminalizing drugs, particularly weed, was targeted at the subculture. Lenny Bruce, the stand-up comic, when he wasn’t being arrested for talking openly about sex or using profane language, was being arrested for possession. Schools banned long hair on boys and pants on girls. Looking back we are tempted to say, how trivial, how silly—but this was the level of blind conformism that those in power presumed upon themselves.


Thus ‘the establishment’ made themselves easy targets for lampoon and ridicule—and liberality became more mainstream—there was a backlash of ‘what’s the big deal with long hair and dirty words—especially while our kids are being sent into a meat-grinder in South East Asia?’ And ever since, it has been more and more the case that the establishment is now the underground movement –and the trouble is that evil thrives in secrecy—especially wealthy evil. The worst disaster to befall the Republican party in the last election was when some journalist smuggled out a tape of a meeting where they spoke plainly among themselves. When we heard Romney’s ‘47%’ comment, he lost the race. Daylight is their greatest enemy.


The sixties were an era of great conflict—even riots in the streets—and that was when truth and justice were ‘the underground’. Now that greed and evil are the new ‘underground’ movement, we can just sit back and wait for the end of civilization as we know it—the bastards. Like all poorly-shaped minds, they search the new liberality, cherry-picking those freedoms that allow for dirtier tricks than ever before, while ignoring the ideals behind those freedoms.


Their idea of ‘fighting fire with fire’ is to lie and twist the truth and engender fear and loathing of one group for another, while pretending to be good businesspeople, good family people, and good Americans. I hate a bald-faced, shameless liar—and so I don’t much care for Republican politicians. At least the Democrats accept Science—I mean, really.

In a way, Trump, by presenting the GOP as the naked fascism it is, is a breath of fresh air—finally, a blatantly stupid, hateful pig who doesn’t try to pretend he’s just as intelligent and sensitive as a Democrat.

A Fine Friday   (2016Mar11)

Friday, March 11, 2016                                            6:51 PM

Pete came by today, after a long illness, but was still willing to play along—even after I tired him out with too much Chopin. I’ll spare you all the Chopin mazurkas—but here’s the jam session:




That S**t-Eating Grin    (2016Mar11)

Friday, March 11, 2016                                  12:26 PM

History proves, huh? I can’t even remember last night—how can you think that the past tells us anything but what we wish to hear? Yes, this happened, but that happened too—and who knows what else happened that’s being left out, or what’s been added with the ‘benefit’ of hindsight? Even in the present, we don’t know people’s mindsets—what they’re thinking, how they see things—we certainly can’t pretend we know what went through the minds of those long gone.

The only thing history proves is that we, here in the present, are the survivors of an endless struggle—a struggle with ourselves, with others, with the elements, with ignorance, with knowledge—it’s all chaos. Pinning it down to prove a point only twists the few facts we know into a narrative that proves our point—and that isn’t proof, that’s rationalizing. You can’t use history to prove anything—history is a list of experiences—that’s its value—we can learn from history.

But we don’t. We didn’t learn from Prohibition—we still have billions of dollars and millions of people embroiled in the criminalization of drugs. We didn’t learn from Sandy Hook, et. al.—we still pretend guns are a safety measure. People are stupid, but we’d rather die than admit it—the Trump rally supporters are just the cream of the crop—and even those morons have worked it out in their heads that they are the tip of the spear of common sense.

As a highly educated person, I have a warning for all you students out there—stop now, while you still have a chance of living your life without frustration and bitterness. Only the ignorant know bliss. Step one—believe in God—that’s a good start—that’ll have you deluded right from the get-go—and it makes all the other stupidities of convention that much easier to swallow. Step two—never listen to anyone who disagrees with you. Step three—be afraid—be very afraid—it doesn’t really matter what you’re afraid of—as long as it keeps your mind closed to new ideas.

There, now you can float through life without being driven mad, as I am, by the countless daily examples of humanity’s idiocy. Trust me, you won’t regret being stupid—look at that shit-eating grin on Trump’s face.

Now We All Know How Casandra Felt   (2016Mar09)

Tuesday, March 08, 2016                                        12:18 PM

Let’s face it—there are good and bad people in the world—some of us are manipulative blackguards, selfish misanthropes, or just plain miserable human beings. That’s okay—no biggy—any Buddha will tell you that you need the bad for the good to exist—or for it to be visible—whatever—I’m not sure—but you can’t have everything your own way. There are people I’d be tempted to describe as ‘bad’ people—though of course we’re all (theoretically) a combination of good and bad. Let’s just say they’re bad politically—their influence is backwards—against the tide of humanity’s enlightenment and good fellowship. They are backwards people.


The backwards people aren’t sure it was right to let women have an equal footing—to let them vote, or choose, or have equal dignity to men. Some of them think that skin color really makes an important difference. Some are old-fashioned anti-Semites—a perennial favorite amongst the backwards—and some are new-fangled Islamophobes (so much technical jargon to legitimize the hate). They look down their noses at the disabled, the self-gendered, the self-sexualized, the non-English-speaking, and, of course, the poor—as if being different from themselves made a difference to anyone but themselves. The Backwards’ minds have the depth of puddles.


I’ve heard we average one-in-ten people who are gay—or LGBTQ—I’m not certain which—but anyway, I figure the Backwards come out to about the same stats. At least one-in-ten people are Backwards—either closet Backwards, with enough awareness to know that the other 9/10ths see things differently—or just straight-out bigoted, ignorant bullies. No, I don’t have stats to back that estimate—but I assume I’m low-balling the real figure—don’t you? The Backwards have always been with us—they’ve fucked things up for their communities since the first community began.


Have you ever wondered why it takes centuries of struggle to fix even one little thing—like slavery or date-rape? It’s because of these backwards people—they’re more concerned with maintaining their personal status quo than with stretching their minds to accommodate outsiders. And they love pride—the thing that makes it okay to be a jackass. And they have no shame—they scream their bullying bullshit far louder than any genius ever crowed over a great discovery—and this gives them influence over their communities far greater than their numbers ever warranted—they are the squeaky wheels on the devolution express-train. And humanity has a tendency to listen to them whenever things get scary—fear always trumps rational thought, even in normally decent people.


I did a little math in my head—I figure the two-party system allowed for an equal division of the Backwards between Democrat and Republican—but then the Republicans started dog-whistling to them, until now most of the Backward have found a home in the GOP. That brings them up to 20% of the group—and their zealousness brings them to the mid-30s—about Trump’s average polling target. Certain states have an ingrained culture that is friendly to the Backward (states that still fly the racist banner, for instance) while other, bluer states seem to suppress their Backwards demographic to the point where they’d actually vote for one of the other GOP candidates, just to stop him. The simplemindedness of Cruz or Rubio is excused under threat of the far more confident ignorance of our new would-be Hitler, ‘Drumpf’—even Republicans have enough sense to be afraid of this man


Unfortunately, presidential contests aside, Trump’s capitalist neo-fascism is just the visible part of an iceberg of such inhumanity—the wealthy think they can go on milking the rest of us without giving us any food or water—they’ve convinced themselves that society is a one-way spigot without responsibility or consequence. That this is greedy and selfish is far less important than that it is incredibly stupid. And this stupidity has also led them down the ‘dog-whistle’ path.


The wealthy court the backward because the backward are most likely to mistake authority for rectitude—or to mistake wealth as something deserved by those who have it, making the wealthy worthy of respect. To me, one glance at how the wealthy raise their feral children (like Drumpf) is enough to put the lie to such foolishness—but then, I’m not backward.


Climate change goes unaddressed, non-renewable resources are treated as if infinite, and habitat loss threatens the very food chain that supports all life—even our fancy-assed civilized human lives. Income inequality is just the icing on the cake—the final handcuff that keeps the species from modifying its behavior sensibly. They buy off the legislators, the regulators, and the justice system—how else would something like the 2008 crash end up with millions of people losing everything, while rich Wall Street crooks got reimbursed for being too greedy?

An Eruption of Mount Vesuvius 1839 by Clarkson Frederick Stanfield 1793-1867

No, Trump’s attack on social justice and social progress is just the next step—now that the rich have covered all their angles, they have to prepare to be pretty draconian in their suppression of discontent among the 99.9%. Things are going to get ugly in the next twenty years—sea levels rising—water sources drying up—high-energy seasonal storm-systems worsening—and geopolitical tensions aren’t likely to ease with everything else going to hell—so things like Syria and Crimea are just going to escalate and spread. To maintain their cozy lifestyles while millions suffer a dwindling quality-of-life and the ranks of the impoverished grows as a percentage of the whole population—well, all I can say is, they’re gonna be finding all kinds of uses for military-grade surplus in the local police departments. Americans like to fight their wars over ideals—they’ve never had to fight over food or water—that’s about to change.


Now the rich, if they weren’t so stupid, could change much of that forecast and point things in a more positive direction—it would not only be the right thing to do for everybody, it would undoubtedly make even their lives better. We wouldn’t all hate their guts, for one thing. And a rising tide lifts all boats. Instead the rich hustle about, picking up free fish off the suddenly dry seabed, while the rest of us wait for the tsunami that always follows such a windfall. Whether we successfully rebuff Trump is a minor detail in the big picture.


Series Finale   (2016Mar06)

Sunday, March 06, 2016                                          10:43 PM

I’ve just watched the final episode of “Downton Abbey”. I didn’t watch the first two seasons because it didn’t hit me right, but something clicked about the third season and I enjoyed it regularly from that point. The hub-bub about its ending is eyebrow-lifting, but only by being so unprecedented—not because it doesn’t deserve the fanfare. The show was exceptional in being dramatic without violence, and intimate without exploitation—and, of course, in the intelligence of the writing.

But as I come to terms with the termination of one of my regular pleasures, it brought sharply to mind the fact that too many of my life’s signposts have been fictional ones. I can remember how lost I felt when “The West Wing” went off the air—it had comforted me, not only by idealizing the presidency, but by suggesting that the Clinton administration was a sort of subtle second-coming of Camelot—an idealistic president with the guts to stand by his ethical guns. I was naïve, yes—but I was far more optimistic—happier in my lack of cynicism. In the end, it was good “The West Wing” ended before Bush W. and 9/11—so everything happens for a reason, I guess.

Then there was Jon Stewart’s exit from the Daily Show—I’m still getting over that one. I like Trevor Noah alright, but Jon Stewart’s absence is akin, in my mind, to Johnny Carson’s retirement—but worse, because Stewart was a champion of social justice, behind all the jokes—and in these times of brawling presidential candidates, he’s sorely missed. A long-time, late-night companion has left forever—and I don’t like change in even the little things.

Not all of the TV I’ve spent a lifetime staring at has been fiction. The news coverage of the Viet Nam war and the brutality against Civil Rights protesters was all too factual. My third grade class was marched to a sudden assembly one day to watch coverage of JFK’s assassination. I was thirteen the summer I saw Armstrong step onto the Moon in real time. And I watched heartbroken while the twin towers disintegrated fifteen years ago.

But most of it has been fiction—though, to be fair, we should acknowledge that the effort of making a great TV series, comedy or drama, is very real—as was my satisfaction in having a regular time each week when I could expect to be taken out of myself. The novelty of “The Flintstones”, the then-daring subject matter of “Hill Street Blues”, the sophistication of “Law & Order”, the easy hilarity of “Seinfeld”—there were so many shows—and while some, like “Law & Order”, metastasized into over-familiarity, and others ended with perfect timing, they all had their time, when their regular weekly appearance on my TV screen was looked forward to with relish.

I’ve never watched a reality TV show—what the producers save on screen-writers, the audience pays for in brain cells, it seems to me—but maybe I’m just old-fashioned. And I’ve never gone in for the talent shows, either—to make a naked competition out of artistic expression is to deny the respect normally granted a performer on stage—even a high school drama group doesn’t have to put up with that kind of judgmental nonsense. Cruelty may create drama—but what kind of drama? The entertainment business has enough rejection and judgment, without putting it on stage.

Therefore, what I consider traditional TV is only to be found in bits and pieces. But I’ve made the situation worse—I feel like I’ve outgrown sitcoms—I’d rather watch a half-hour of straight stand-up than the contortions of contrived circumstance and strained gags forced on the sitcom format. I’ll grudgingly watch “Big Bang Theory” or “Two Broke Girls”—exceptionally well-done comedies, but only out of lack of options and a desperate need to watch something, anything—I’m too jaded by the format not to see the gags from a mile off.

Plus, I’ve sworn off any dramatic show that centers on a murder investigation or a hospital ER, for mental health reasons—I’ve seen so many through the decades, and one day it occurred to me that these should not be my regular subject matter—even fictionally. That disqualifies a surprising number of shows—“Rizzoli and Isles”, for instance, is the kind of show I would normally watch, but now I object to the underlying theme being ‘someone always kills someone’—that doesn’t happen every day—not in my life, surely—so why would I invite it into my entertainment? Shows like “Rizzoli and Isles” or “Bones” have plenty of light-hearted comradery, comic relief, and beautiful women—but at some point, to me, this seemed like it trivialized actual murder.

Yes, drama requires conflict and there is nothing so basic as a murder mystery for conflict—but today’s TV is very real—and shown in Hi-Def. In fact, the slow-mo re-enactments on “CSI”—hyper-real details of bullet impacts and such—when the show first debuted, were a large factor in my swearing off murder-based programs. The hyper-reality of the set-dressings on “ER”, likewise, took a part in forming my desire to avoid being grossed out by my favorite TV shows. We are what we watch—and we want to watch that, if I may attempt a witticism.

I think the main trouble comes from being older than everyone else—well not everyone, but certainly all the young, starry-eyed writers, actors and directors in the entertainment business—and they’re certainly not targeting my demographic. Neither do I want to only watch shows with people my age in them—my grandmother used to do that, and it made me sad—Peter Falk’s and Dick Van Dyke’s murder mysteries were her favorite series—it was like programming for a rest home.

When I was young I gobbled up every book I could find, I watched every movie and TV show, I listened to every piece of new music—and I did perhaps too good a job of it. I’m quite familiar with things creative—I can look at a painting and name the artist, hear a few bars and name the composer, see a few seconds of film and name the title, principal actors, and how far into the movie or program it is. My younger self might have been proud of all this accrued erudition, but it leaves me starved for novelty.

I don’t get out much, but I get ‘in’ more than most everybody—I watch and read (and write) and listen and play all day, every day—and I’m thinking as hard as I can the whole time—if it were physical effort, I’d be an Adonis—if it made money, I’d be a Croesus. As it is, life is far less glorious, though I don’t personally find it so. My lack of outward success is partly due to unalterable events, and partly a willful rejection of what others may see as ambition. Had my life gone easier I might have achieved more, but I might have understood less. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m proud of what I’ve done with my life, but I believe I’ve made the best of it, and I’m satisfied with that, by and large—though I really wish I could still draw. I guess being unable to change means I’m doing what I was meant to do—and if not, I’m going to see it that way, anyhow. I lack choices in that department.

Xplorer Dunn   (2016Mar05)


Saturday, March 05, 2016                                                 6:57 PM

In Bethpage, Long Island, where I grew up, there was a copse of young trees—we called it ‘the woods’ because it was the most wildly-growing aspect of our neighborhood—today, I have a bigger ‘woods’ in my backyard—Westchester is mostly wooded. But in the recently ‘Levittown-ed’ Long Island burbs, my childhood ‘woods’ were a few saplings and some shrubs—it didn’t even offer any real cover—as I grew older I realized it was just an overgrown lot.

Most summers our parents would take us to Lake Taghkanak State Park for a short week’s camping—with tents, sleeping bags, open fires, Coleman stoves—the whole nine. I thought I was out in the wilderness—we drove a long time from Long Island to get there—I thought we were out in the middle of nowhere.


One day, on a latter trip, I got lost hiking the trails alone—I walked through the woods wondering if I’d ever find my way back. After a time I came to a highway—I was at the entrance to the park—I recognized it from when we came in. Another piece of ‘terra incognita’ had been transformed into ‘just another place’.

Later, in my teens, I had a friend drop me off at Bear Mountain Bridge, and I hiked the Appalachian Trail alone, north for two days—I walked through what appeared to be the forest primeval, but turned out to be Fahnestock State Park, and on the third morning I found myself in Pawling, about to cross Route 22—but I hitched home from there instead, surprised that it took me only an hour to hitchhike home to Katonah after my long journey.


Taconic Range, Fahnestock

I used to walk a lot as a kid—for a time, I had friends who lived way over near the Connecticut border—that’s quite a hike for most people, but to me it seemed like a nice way to pass the time. I often enjoyed the long walks more than the destinations. I took a walk today—the first in some while—about fifty yards down the street and back again—oh, how the mighty have fallen.

I used to hitchhike quite often, too. Hitchhiking was a young person’s game—I would sometimes find myself on a lonely stretch of road, hundreds of miles from home, near sundown, in the rain or snow. Some places I had to walk for miles before I got a lift—I was never sure whether the walking helped or whether it was just something to do while I waited for someone to stop.

I don’t know what it’s like nowadays, but back in the early 70s, you met the nicest people hitchhiking. There were some intimidating weirdos too, but mostly people were as nice as you’d expect someone who’d pick up a hitchhiker to be. I had a higher opinion of people, myself, back then—today it seems like a dangerous thing to do—you don’t see hitchhikers much anymore—and people in cars are far less likely to stop for one. In the 1970s, hitching was already fading from the culture—it was a hold-over from the World War II days, when soldiers on leave were crisscrossing a nation on gas-rationing—and everyone was pitching in to do their part.

I used to love bicycling, too—but mostly in those early Long Island days. When we moved to Katonah, I was appalled by the total absence of level ground—bicycling was either braking on the steep downhill, or pushing your bike on the steep uphill. In Long Island, bicycling is lots of sedate pedaling—in Westchester, cycling is a death-defying x-games event.


Walking was always my favorite—even though I had a pretty bad case of canophobia—I’d walk down Route 22 to Bedford, or down Route 35 to the Salems, or down Todd Road to Lewisboro. Pound Ridge Arboretum was everybody’s favorite trail-collection back then—you could hike up to the fire-watch tower, or across the stream on the little ‘troll bridge’—there were hushed, cushioned cathedrals beneath the pines—and a huge sloping field with a giant oak in the middle. Today, the oak and the fire tower are both history—times marches on. I only miss them in memory—my own marching days are behind me.

Children Please   (2016Mar04)

Friday, March 04, 2016                                            10:30 PM

It’s a frightening world. The older I get, the thinner gets the veneer of ‘grown-ups having things under control’. As a young man, I made allowances—I told myself that people in their thirties or forties were surely dependable, sensible people—and, if not all of them, then at least the ones in charge. With each successive decade of age, I pushed the imaginary grown-ups further and further into seniority—but now I am sixty and there’s no place left to hide. We are all of us children—grasping, whining, and playing games.

And I realize that the ‘grown-ups’ I imagined were just that—imaginary. They were what I hoped grown-ups would be—but human beings only become more experienced, not more mature. We adapt to the ‘independence’ and ‘responsibility’ of adulthood—some of us better than others—some faster than others—but we never lose the urges, the impatience, or the selfishness—we are either goaded or peer-pressured or legally forced into subliming our inner children. Still, they eagerly await any opportunity to indulge themselves once more.

Knowing that the world is run by overgrown children—that dependable, sensible people are like unicorns—isn’t nearly as upsetting as the realization that I will never be a ‘grown-up’—I will never have that easy grasp of wisdom and self-control that I always imagined was the reward for growing older. This isn’t a recent realization—it’s just come to the forefront of my thoughts due to the threatening specter of millions of Americans possibly voting for a puss-bag in an orange hair-piece.

I knew this country was in trouble when they debuted that show, “Are You Smarter Than A Fourth-Grader?” and nobody could beat the fourth-graders. I died a little inside when stats started to show that American education was falling behind the rest of the developed world—hell, we invented public education. I suppose future historians will mark the day that more Americans voted for “American Idol” contestants than voted in the prior election. Grown-ups would have maintained this country’s greatness and moved it forward—but we are doing what all empires have always done—we’re pissing it all away—and now I know why—people are children.

Why Trump Is Winning   (2016Mar04)

Friday, March 04, 2016                                            9:07 AM

Did you ever wonder how a psychotic Hitler came to be the leader of all Germany? It’s not as if he went crazy after he rose to power—he wrote “Mein Kampf” long before his brown-shirts started bullying the populace, or before he framed the communists for burning down the Reichstag. And in “Mein Kampf”, he even spelled out how he’d like to slaughter virtually every Jew in Europe—he just left out the other ten million people that would ultimately die in his quest for absolute power—and the ruin that Europe would become by the time he was stopped.

A lot of people saw that coming—but people in power couldn’t help having great respect for him—so he remained legitimized in the public eye until it was far too late to stop him without violence. When Charlie Chaplin made “The Great Dictator” in 1940, there were still many Americans who thought it unwise to criticize a ‘respected world leader’. America had many people who thought we should be on Germany’s side, against England. How were we lucky enough to come out on the right side of history?

America was going through the Great Depression—times were tough. But they weren’t utterly hopeless, like they were in Germany. Germany was suffering under the draconian financial burden imposed by the Treaty of Versailles—the government was as broke as the people. American people were broke, but our government still had the wherewithal to institute the New Deal—so we did not have runaway inflation, making what money they did have worthless, like the Germans.

Germany was literally starving. Extreme conditions breed extreme attitudes—‘kill’em all’ sounds like a sensible solution when you are yourself on death’s doorway. Apart from the sociopathic anti-Semitism that permeated Europe (and America) Germans also blamed the rest of Europe for their financial straits (and not without reason). Oddly enough, they saw genocide and world conquest as a survival strategy—and Hitler gave them a blueprint for it. So they all ‘heiled’ Hitler.

Growing income inequality today has made Americans hungry for change—and we’re getting hungry enough to start flailing about for answers, no matter how crazy or cold-blooded. “Build a wall”; “Ban the Muslims”; “Mexicans are rapists”—would Americans have stood for such naked violence in any previous decade? No. But the GOP has been crippling our government, hence our economy, for years now—they lie about the president, they lie about global warming, they lie about Planned Parenthood, they shut down the government. They’ve done all this to protect the wealthy and the evangelicals and the racists—and now they’re upset because someone is using the same tactics to satisfy his own ego—and he’s doing it better than they ever did.

It’s tempting to savor the GOP’s dismay, but they’ve set the stage for something even worse than themselves—so we must perforce join them in condemning their presidential frontrunner. However, the idea that Cruz or Rubio would fix the problem is hilarious—Hillary was right—they’re all ‘Trump’, just not as good at it as he is. Trump has adopted their methods of lying, obstructionism, and willful ignorance—and made it his personal art form.

Trump has an animal slyness that can easily be mistaken for intelligence—especially among the uneducated—his demographic sweet-spot. The uneducated aren’t upset by Trump’s lack of policy details—they’re relieved. They don’t want to discuss the thorny problems of national government—they want someone to fix it—and Trump confidently says he’ll ‘fix it’. That’s all they need to hear. But all I hear is someone promising to cut the Gordian Knot that was tied by Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, King, and Obama—being the ‘lamp beside the golden door’ to the rest of the world is just too complicated—let’s be bullies instead.

The rest of the world is getting ready to refuse Trump entry into their countries—how’s that for an endorsement? His own party is anti-endorsing him (if that’s even a word) but we can’t take them seriously until they break down and tell their constituents to vote for Hillary. The one person endorsing Trump publicly is Chris Christie—and the terrified look on his face every time he appears standing next to Trump makes me think he’s envisioning future history—when his name will be tied to Trump’s in the story of how America died.

Super Leap Week   (2016Mar01)


Tuesday, March 01, 2016                                                  5:18 PM

I know what would fix our economy—raises. Nobody’s been given a raise since the 1980s. You could double the salary of any working person today, and they’d still be underpaid if calculated by the same increases the wealthy have enjoyed these last few decades. But no—the wealthy fret about how the world would end if we had a $15/hour minimum wage. Are you kidding me? Who could live on $15/hour? And if you can’t run your business without paying a living wage—then you can’t run your business—you’re incompetent. Since when does a business plan include victimizing your employees? Well, I take that back—literally all business plans do that, and always have.


It seems strange to me that employers make half their money short-changing their customers—and the other half from short-changing their employees. Shouldn’t we just shoo these people away? We haven’t converted to an ‘office-free’ economy—we’ve converted to a ‘security-free’ economy—at least to employees.


And a business is not a person. Until a business can feel pain, it will never be a person—and it will never deserve the rights and considerations of a person. That’s just legal mumbo-jumbo being promulgated by the rich. Let’s shoo all them off too.


I’m serious—terrorists at least have the decency to chop your head off and make a clean end to it—American employers want to enslave us and abuse us until the end of time—who’s really worse? Capitalism has gotten out of hand—and the only way to restore the balance is to make the streets our workplace, dismissing all CEOs, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and HR personnel. Shoo’em off, that’s what I say. Their mismanagement is going to let our infrastructure rot away and be buried beneath the waves of global warming, anyway—dismissing these entitled fops wouldn’t cause any less disruption than their continued oversight will produce. We’ll just feed them the same line they feed everyone else—‘Hey, it’s not personal—it’s just business’. It is unfortunate that wealth confers power, without conferring one whit of good judgement. It that sense, it greatly resembles violence.


Harumph! Anyway—let’s talk about something important—how’s Hillary doing? It is Super Tuesday, and the sun’s getting low in the sky—though, if you ask me, Leap Day is pretty special—making ‘super’ Tuesday something of an anticlimax. It’s just a bunch of primaries. Still, if I imagine myself in Hillary’s shoes (and yes that does feel uncomfortable) it must be a thrilling day.


I’ve gone from sight-reading through Chopin’s book of mazurkas to his book of nocturnes—I have hours of recordings I’ve spared my listeners—I enjoy sight-reading through good music like that—but I don’t keep to tempo—and I go back and correct myself when I flub a passage—it’s a lot more like actual reading than it is performance—it’s quite unlistenable. I just do it for myself—it’s really fun. And after I find favorites, and do them over and over, I eventually get to play them better. I used to post some of the work—nowadays I only post the finished product—when I’ve gotten it as far as I’m going to get it. But that’s a tough call—take today’s nocturnes—they’re not great, but they’re a lot better than the other four that I’m not posting.

The improvs are a poser as well. I try to make them all different and, technically speaking, they are all different. But inasmuch as they’re all ‘me’, they’re pretty much all the same, too. So I post them all, even knowing that some judicious editing would make my YouTube channel far more attractive. But when you post nearly every day, it gets to be like writing a journal—you’re too busy writing it to ever read it back to yourself. Same with this blog—sometimes I go look at a post from a year or two ago, and I think to myself, ‘Huh! Did I write that?’

Okay then.