Saturday, June 30, 2018

Oppression Obsession

This is, to me, Tom Walker's benchmark bit for the Jonathan Pie character. Just fucking amazing. 

And it is also the second time that have ever heard the noun, "blancmange," ever. It's a French word, and a French dessert, I suppose, but both incidents of the word have come from British comedians. The first was in an early Monty Python bit that I saw in 1974 on PBS. That bit was hysterical and you could tell from context what a blancmange was, which was very helpful, I can tell you. 

This fellow is really, really good. 

Friday, June 29, 2018

More Fascinating Thai Architecture

For no particular purpose at all, here is a photo of another fascinating example of Thai architecture here in Bangkok. This photo was taken from a moving taxi in the Cheng Watthana district. I was going to visit the immigration office for some reason. I try to forget those details almost as they happen.

I think that the building is the headquarters of some Thai corporation, or more likely a Thai Public Company Limited. Those are very popular these days.

Vacation Pix

More photos of people taking pictures. I can't help myself, I love it so much. Note that I am about halfway through my two-for-one "World Cup" Happy Hour special. There was no World Cup in sight, nor a television, nor even a chalk-board with updates, but they had a World Cup Happy Hour special. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Traffic - Coloured Rain

This album was recorded in late 1967 and came to my attention in early spring, 1968. My friend Flip and I were unemployed at the time, on the dole as it were, and we spent a lot of the daylight hours at his house listening to records, talking about music, and smoking, ah, cigarettes, that's it, were were smoking cigarettes. And drinking wine most of the time, too. Most of our friends were working, and my girlfriend was in school, so we were killing time until the evening when the really serious hanging out could get started. 

We played this album a few times a day for a while. It's hard to imagine now how fresh and new it sounded. It's also impossible to really understand how fast popular music was developing at the time. You don't get any sense of it looking at the Billboard charts for 1968, because that was mostly for the squares. Amazing musical things happened on a monthly basis all through those few years. 

Flip died in a fire a couple of years later. I got married within a year and joined the corps of adults. 1968 was the worst year in history, politically, but it was a great year musically. I wouldn't want to go through all of that again, but it was kind of fun at the time, as long as you could tune out all of the negativity. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Jody Williams, You may

Your time may be long or short, but it's coming. Sure as you're born, to coin a closely related phrase. Truer words were never spoken. As the man says, "there will come a time, everybody's got to go."  

Whatever happens to our democracy or our Constitution, we can rest assured that life, fate, and objective reality all believe in equality for all, in the end. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

People Taking Pictures

I love to take pictures of people taking pictures. This shot was taken on my beach vacation last week. It was all very nice. 

Here's a better photo of the nice lady. 

Mushroom Season In Washington

New Federal crimes have been sprouting like mushrooms after heavy spring rains since the Reagan days. Some days it seems like they have criminalized everything already, but then comes a heavy shower, followed by a sunny day, and oooops! There's a big new mushroom!

Kirstjen Nielsen is a high Trump official who is still game to deliver whatever stupid talking points Stephen Miller came up with this morning. Ms. Nielsen is currently our United States Secretary of Homeland Security, although she does have that look in her eye, like she is scanning for exits. She's an old shoe wearing too much polish, if I may be cruel for a moment. I have no idea how she got the job, but I'm sure that it would make interesting reading.

She was ordered to walk point the other day in the administration's daily patrol into enemy territory, which is to say, out the front door of the White House. Alone at the front of the column on a barely visible trail, surrounded by ambushes, land-mines, and booby-traps, her task was to defend our Fearless Leader's policy of family separation at the border.

She earnestly made her point, which was this: (I paraphrase) . . . to say that the policy is inhumane “completely disrespects” the public officials carrying out the policy.

I smell a new Federal crime! Mushroom alert!

Her phrasing of the issue sounds suspiciously like the formula for lese majeste. That would be the crime, still enforced in many countries around the world, of disrespecting the monarch. Lese majeste laws may define the monarchy very broadly, often including the country's military and police forces and even public officials, because they all serve at the will of the king. In our current criminal law environment, declaring it a crime to disrespect public officials would fit right in. Congress would love it, not least because it would offer them some protection from the worst of the obloquy being directed at them. This president would sign it, because he already thinks of himself as a king.

Write it up! Book 'em, Dano!

This could be an ironic legacy for Ms. Nielsen, who does, to her credit, seem to be tiring of this charade. She was one of several administration officials who were driven out of public eating establishments last week. That can't be comfortable. (Although for a very visible Trump stooge to appear in a busy upscale Mexican restaurant in Washington DC cannot be seen as a good idea these days.) Maybe she has realized that she could be damaging the entire Scandinavian brand, which took most of the last thousand years to rebuild after all of that unpleasantness with the Vikings.

The new laws will be masked in fine sounding language, as usual. They will be billed as, “the Decorum and Collegiality Laws,” or some such. Thank God that Trump doesn't read Spin Easy Time! He would love the extra firepower to use against dissent and the press. It could become the law by the end of the summer! Please, whatever you do, don't show him this blog post.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Last Poets Are Almost Gone

Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, the “Godfather of Rap,” is dead at 73, said the New York Times. It's a nice, respectful piece, you can go and read it. He achieved his Godfather status as a founding member of the Last Poets in New York City in about the year 1968, maybe 1969. Their music was as revolutionary as their politics, and it all sounds as fresh as a daisy today, fifty years after the fact, and the message is also as important as it was in olden times.

Many of us have reached the stage of life when the obituaries take on a new importance. You never know who you'll find! The Last Poets, featuring Mr. Nuriddin, presented a totally new form of entertainment, or edutainment (big educational element), something that the world had never heard before. For a long time there wasn't much of the Last Poets on YouTube and the records were not available. More recently, YouTube has a lot of it and the records are available on CD. I hope that means that Mr. Nuriddin was making some money. I'm sorry to see him go, but that's life. RIP, Jalal, and thanks for everything.

Not to change the subject, but people now look at the Rolling Stones and the only thing that is considered remarkable is that they can still set up and play rough edged rock and roll at their advanced ages. Not only play, but play long sets and get audiences excited. To me, though, in retrospect, the most remarkable thing about the 'Stones is that they were, in the beginning, cultural ambassadors bringing American music to young Americans who had never heard that material before. The culture came from America, got filtered through a very small number of maladjusted English teenagers, and returned to America on Rolling Stones records. This fact is under-reported.

I am a great test case. By early 1964, when it all started, I was already a rock fan and a record buyer, and I already had albums by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly. I was also a big fan of the New Orleans songs that got played on the white radio stations, songs like “Mother-in-Law,” “Working in a Coal Mine,” and “Walking the Dog.” I did the math about New Orleans because my favorite songs were the Gary “U.S.” Bonds classics, “New Orleans,” and “Quarter to Three.” I was therefore drawn to the Rolling Stones, because they were playing this music and they obviously loved it just like I did. Those first three albums were almost all covers, and let's give the 'Stones more credit where credit is due: they credited the original artists and writers when they covered a song.

That only opened the door to the 'Stones for me, though. Once I was in, it was a whole new world. That stuff that I just described was discoverable right on the radio stations that white kids listened to, but the Rolling Stones swam a lot deeper than that. Through them I discovered the music of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Slim Harpo, and many New Orleans artists and records that had only been regional hits. That stuff was nowhere on the radio in New York, and I didn't know anyone who had those records. There was no other way for me to have discovered all of that music without the Rolling Stones. In a way, they led me to the Last Poets, too.

We are not here to glorify the Rolling Stones. How did I discover the Last Poets? By 1970 I was also a big fan of movies, in fact I was a big fan of Cinema, capital C, so when Mick Jagger appeared in the movie Performance, I was there within the first couple of days. Performance was directed by Nicolas Roeg. I had heard the name, and there was some artistic buzz about the movie, but not enough to make it a sure thing on its own. I loved the movie, though, and I took my girlfriend back on the weekend to see it again. The soundtrack was great, so I picked up the album as well. Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, and (drum roll) The Last Poets. Within days I had purchased the Poets album that features the above song, and I was hooked. Most of my friends at the time thought that I was crazy, but they usually leaned in that direction anyway. I couple of my friends understood it right away, and were as impressed as I was. This was exciting stuff.

No Mick Jagger in the movie? Not a sure thing that I would go to see it. That's the nature of money: you spend it and it's gone, you can never spend it again. Let's see, I can go to the first run of Performance for $2 and it might be good, or I can go to the Bleeker Street Cinema and see a Marx Brothers double feature for $1. I usually stuck with the rerun houses, because they were cheap and the movies were great. Why take a chance on any new movie that comes along? Go with the sure thing, and save a buck. For a buck, you could buy two new underground comix. Mick was still facilitating lessons in American culture for me.

Thanks, Mick, and thanks, Jalal. All of those experiences were important to the formation of my artistic identity.

It all passes through the generations, too. When my boys were growing up, they heard the Last Poets from time to time. They were on my mix-tapes being played in the car, and I played the records back home. This was in the time before Rap, before Curtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash. I always had records on back then. I would often be doing three things at once: reading a magazine; watching a Godzilla movie on tape with the sound off; and listening to a record. For my boys, it was all part of the background noise of growing up.

Later on my oldest son was in that early rave scene in L.A., where you went to certain street corners late on Friday evening and somebody was selling maps of Los Angeles for ten dollars. The map showed the location of the rave, and it was your ticket to get in. Those were some crazy parties. My son became a DJ and worked those raves. One afternoon he was sitting around with some black friends at a home in Compton and, as it is only correct for black Americans to do, they were sizing him up. One of them put a Last Poets record on, and my son immediately identified it and proclaimed his affection for the group. That was it, he passed the inspection, he was in the club. That alone was enough to get him promoted from suspect to ally. Me too, probably, because he had learned about the Poets from me.

That is all well and good, but today it's just one more brother gone. Fare thee well, Mr. Nuriddin. Lung cancer at the age of seventy-three, I believe. I think only one of the fellows remains alive at this point. There are eight million stories in the naked city, and this has been one of them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Trump's Unbuttoned Jacket

One of my professors in law school told us a story about his first appearance before the Supreme Court. He had thirty minutes for his oral argument, and about ten minutes in something went radically wrong. “Counsel,” said one of the Justices, “I can't hear a word you're saying with that jacket unbuttoned.” The lawyer fastened the button, and then he had to start all over, having squandered one third of his presentation on a rookie mistake.

As you travel down the scale of the prestige of the court there is a corresponding reduction in the need for sartorial perfection. Having said that, even in one of the lesser state courts that are devoted to some narrow corner of the law a lawyer is expected to dress respectfully.

In any state court you can wear a nice sports jacket and slacks with a colored shirt and you'll get away with it every day. As long as the tie is not loose and none of the colors are too wild you will pass the hearing without comment from the judge. Even there, though, it's a good idea to fasten one button on the jacket when you stand up. Judges appreciate the gesture, even if they would let it slide if you didn't.

In any Federal court, you really do have to dress up a bit, and you need to be very careful about that button. I worked on one case with two lawyers from Texas, and I attended their first hearing in the local Federal court. One of them wore a nice suit in a dark color, with a white shirt and a quiet tie. The other wore a very nice sports jacket and very dressy slacks, in subdued colors, with a white shirt and a conservative tie. He told me later he always does that at first status conferences to learn something about the judge.

The hearing went for about fifteen minutes, and when all of the business was done the judge spoke to the under-dressed lawyer. “Counsel,” at least the judge addressed him as counsel, that's a good start, “do you own a suit?”

Taken a little aback, the lawyer said, “why, yes, your honor.”

"Please wear it next time.”

Those Federal court judges can be funny. Some of them are angered by double-breasted suits. Most lawyers in Federal court are careful about what they wear, and careful about fastening that all important button, too.

Our fabulous “President Sparky the Wonder Horse's Ass” never fastens a button on his suit jackets. I'm sure that it's part of a grand plan. He wears those custom made, super long ties in shiny single colors, so long that they descend almost to the rise in his pants, and he never buttons his jacket. I would bet you good money that he decided at some point that it was a look that made him appear less fat than he is.

I'm sure that reasoning is shared by his customary way of always sitting forward with his elbows on his knees as though he were on the toilet. He's afraid that if he sits back, or even sits up straight, his giant belly will show in the pictures.

I will not even address his hairdo, or his make-up, preferring to leave such sensitive matters to experts.

None of this is any surprise. He is a vain man, and like any other big, fat, pasty skinned, lumpy, knock-kneed, out of shape vain old man he is sensitive about his lost looks. Not that he was ever a handsome man to begin with, but nature and time push us all down the scale from where we started out.

Trump's unbuttoned jacket bothers me every time. I learned as a lawyer that the manner in which one dresses is always an expression of respect, or the lack of respect. The way one dresses for court; to meet with clients; to attend depositions or meetings in the offices of other attorneys. It's all the same. If you are any kind of gentleman, you are expected to dress appropriately to show respect for the legal process, the judges, opposing counsel, clients, any observers that may be on hand, and respect for yourself as well. I look at Trump's unbuttoned jacket and I see disrespect. He wears the dark suits because he believes that they hide his weight problem. If he thought that track-suits were more flattering, he'd wear them everywhere. He leaves the jacket unbuttoned for the same reason, but the message remains: I have no respect for you.

This is only my opinion, of course, but I don't think that it will meet a lot of counter-argument, because the man obviously doesn't respect any damn body or any damn thing at all.

At this point, I almost wish that the military would step in and throw all of our government officials in some rough-ass camp somewhere for re-education. I wish they'd just take over and run the country. They could leave the courts and the police in place with some new instructions, and they could leave the rich in place as long as they smiled and kept their mouths shut. The military's version of a future for the United States would almost certainly be much closer to core American values than the version that the politicians are working desperately hard to achieve. The generals and admirals could hardly do worse than this bunch of pirates now in charge, and they could hardly do more damage to American traditions or culture. This solution is currently in place in many countries around the world where the politicians had clearly demonstrated that they cannot be trusted. The system often works fine. The military may guide the country back to democracy or not, depending on the likelihood of the returning politicians just resuming their destructive mischief. It might be worth a try.

That's what I think on good days. On bad days, I believe that the only workable solution for the world's problems would be to blast the entire planet down to bedrock and eject every molecule of the atmosphere and the oceans into space. Make it a lifeless rock in the void. Some days I think that's all that we deserve.

J.J. Jackson - But, It's Alright

Any suggestions for a solution to our current political crisis should include listening to a lot of music like this. That's my two-cents anyway. Y'all can work out the details. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Samantha Bee Was Way Too Gentle With Ivanka

These days I treat the news like a reporter was once instructed to treat Jerry Lee Lewis: if you don’t stand too close, you probably won’t get hurt. As a result, I’m just catching up with the context for Sam Bee calling Ivanka a “feckless cunt” on TV. On network TV no less, which was the doom of it. Context means nothing on network TV, and two words out of context can make or break a career.

The feckless cunt thing came up during a long bit about our new jack-booted wannabe storm troopers down at the ICE corral and their new hobby of yanking children away from their families for political reasons. Did I say political? Why yes, I did. It’s nothing but political, because the sole reason for it is to discourage families from coming to the United States. That’s whether they’re coming to file legitimate applications for political asylum, which is legal, or coming just for the great work opportunities, which, although we need the help, is illegal. ICE doesn’t care. They’re on a mission.

That’s an important subject. That policy makes the United States and every American citizen look terrible to whomever is watching, and the whole world is watching. Ivanka is a White House staffer who regularly shoots off her mouth on various media about policy issues, which makes her fair game for any sort of commentary that any American journalist or entertainer feels like throwing at her. She volunteered for the job, and that’s part of the job. John Bolton gets it worse, and so what? Anthony Scaramuci gets it fifteen times worse, and he’s been out of the job fifteen times longer than he was ever in it.

Besides the ever-important context aspect of this thing, Ivanka Kushner actually is a feckless cunt, in every sense of both words. Why are we even talking about this? Why is Ms. Bee in trouble? She is obviously worried about it. You can see it in the expression on her face. She’s got a show on network TV, I mean, it’s TBS, but that’s still a network. They pay you pretty good as long as you can move the ads that they charge a fortune for. That Ms. Bee is apologizing at all indicates to me that either she, or TBS, is under pressure from advertisers. At those prices, that will be corporate advertisers with lots of money to spend, and lots of options about where to spend it. Corporate advertisers who, coincidentally, are backing the play of our fabulous human stain of a presidential nightmare. So it’s “poor Ivanka” time (cue the phony tears).

Many people are wondering through all of this, “just what is a feckless cunt?” I have made a reputation as a polite, charming man and I am not one to go around calling women “cunts” unless the term happens to fit. Beyond the simple boundary of definition number one, definition number two would probably be, “a woman who has placed herself by some affirmative action or attitude beyond the requirements of polite consideration.”  That’s the Fred definition that applies in this case, and I’m sure that Ms. Bee would agree with me. The women so described may be guilty of extreme aggression, extreme rudeness, or extreme pretention. (You may prefer, “pretentiousness.”) Ivanka qualifies as a cunt due to the fact that she is pretentious cunt if ever there were one.

On to feckless, upon the rocky shores of which word many a reader’s ship of understanding has been stove in. Various reporters and journalists are now having a field day imagining the confusion at the White House at trying to line the fecklessness up with the cunt thing, which, of course, they understand very well, since that is mere locker room talk. I’ll admit that feckless is off in the dark corners of my useable vocabulary. I sometimes confuse feckless with diffident, although this episode will surely clarify both words for me. Diffident means excessively shy due to lack of self-confidence; feckless means lacking good character, or being irresponsible. I confuse them because they are both words that I associate with rich kids, based upon my limited experience with the breed. Ivanka is not diffident, but she is definitely feckless. Being beautiful, from money, and married to more money, she casts her eye about her and finds only the need to strive for more money. She will climb upon any back that presents itself as a path upward on this trail. Just ask the kids who make her “designer clothes” over in the developing world. She lacks self-awareness like the Sahara lacks water. Now she’s on the team up at the White House, and the goal is to get even richer and grease the wheels of all of the other strivers after money before all else. That is a lack of character that shines like the blinding sun after a hurricane.

Ivanka, upon careful consideration, does turn out to be a feckless cunt. If language is to have any meaning at all, these words apply to Ivanka. She has earned them, and more, if you ask me. Samantha Bee was being gentle with her.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Matt and Kim - "Daylight" (Official Music Video)

Just to cheer you up! Who loves you! 

Anthony Bourdain's Ambuscade

America is just gearing up for another day. Which day? Friday, right? We're just putting Friday to bed over here. Greetings from the future! When I fire up the burner in the morning I'm really checking to see if there were any significant deaths overnight. Maybe somebody shot the pope or something, it's happened before. Maybe someone had a fatal heart attack. Today you're waking up and saying via con Dios to Anthony Bourdain. Surprise! Didn't see that one coming. RIP, Anthony. You had some style, you.

The New York Times, with great topical awareness and faux sensitivity, put a couple of notices under the death article. One about if you are suicidal, please call this hot-line number, and another about if you know anyone who you believe is at risk for Selbstmord, please urge them to seek help. Thanks for the thought, newspaper of record, but it's more often a surprise. A surprise to family and friends, and often a surprise for the celebrant as well. We never know, really. Maybe tomorrow it occurs to us at about two p.m. that this is the last day that we can stand, we just can't do this anymore, not one more day. And of course, for the benefit of those looking on, those at risk of suicide are doing their level best to keep those feelings a secret, for too many reasons to count.

Get down off of that soap-box, Mr. Fred. I'm sorry about Mr. Bourdain. My condolences to the family and friends.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Ike and Tina Turner - Two Is A Couple.

This is one of the earliest songs recorded by Tina with Ike's band. So this would be "Two Is a Couple," by Ike and Tina Turner, written and produced by Ike, and performed by the Ike Turner band, featuring Ike on the guitar. 

I love Tina, but it does burn my tail feathers when people give her all of the credit. Ike had had a great career for over ten years already at this point, as an A&R man, a record producer (including "Rocket 88"), a songwriter, a band leader, and a performer. I love Tina, and she is great on this and many other cuts, but part of my mission in life is to remind people that as great as Tina was, Ike was there, too. She didn't make these records alone. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Like Watching A Movie

I go out, I get around, and the world that I see is doing fine, thank you. The trees and the birds and the tropical skies are beautiful, and the weather is good, and long as you like it hot. Then I spoil it all by going on the Internet and poking around in the news or on Facebook, and I'm reminded just what a sorry state the world has descended to while we've all been busy keeping up with our mundane lives.

It's all like a horror movie, specifically that horror movie called, “Don't Go in the Basement.” We are just sitting in the living room while every five minutes or so someone comes through the door, dream style, no need to knock, and we immediately warn them, “hey man, don't go in the basement.” Then they say, what? Or why? And, let's have a look, and off they go. They open the basement door and go down the stairs, then there's some off-stage screaming and chomping noises, followed by silence, followed by somebody else coming in the door.

Whatever you do,” we warn them with all seriousness, “please don't go in the fucking basement!” And off they go, because they know better, and we have piqued their interest. Screams and chomping ensue.

Then here comes another young couple, full of life and hope. “Please God,” we beg them, “we know of which we speak, and if you go into the basement, you will be torn limb from limb by demons within seconds! Please! Don't go in the basement!”

They turn out to be Mormons, who are beloved of God, and therefore who do not worry about such things. Why, they wonder, would we not want them to go in the basement? We, as heathens, must have an ulterior motive. So down they go. Nice young couple, and the screams have a note of surprise in them, briefly. The final slurping sounds are horrible, even after all of the rest.

This is our lives, here in the miserable 21st Century. A terrible dream of lurid, horrible violence that never changes, and never ends. Of course it could all be so simple. People could stop going in the basement. But common sense these days is as rare as tits on a bull. I'm about ready to give up, myself.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Quality Of Life

I had to do CPR on my toilet this morning. The poor thing almost died. A few hard hammer blows and a lot of serious chest pumping got it going again. No mouth-to-mouth. I like my toilet, but I don't love it.

I guess that I've been eating too many prunes or something. We get to that certain age, it's true, and if we want to continue having bowel movements on a regular basis we need an entirely new strategy to attack the problem. Every aspect of this issue is unpleasant, from the special diet to the toilet challenges, but all of it pales to insignificance very quickly in the scheme of things. If the rest of the day is comfortable, interesting, somewhat entertaining, and occasionally wonderful, then it was a great day. Another day above ground! Another day without the need for medical intervention! Another day that I could afford! It was a wonderful day. Your quality of life that day was very good.

The doctors present a much greater danger to our happiness than the toilets. The doctors may give us terrible news, or, in the alternative, they may have no idea what is going on. On the money side, no one in America has embraced the concept of “fiat money” as much as the doctors have. What is that angiogram worth? How much you got? The range for that one is between $10,000, as charged to Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and $150,000, charged at the high end to private patients. (California prices, 2018.) That's fiat money at its most mischievous. It's hard to pay bills like that, and it's hard to plan in an environment like that. Worrying about your medical security is a quality of life issue.

Doctors have other tricks up their sleeves. They will often cause us grievous pain and suffering, for our own good, of course, and they will do it with that studied nonchalance that they probably learn in medical school. I woke up in the hospital one time about thirty years ago after a full-on abdominal surgery, and the scene was just terrible. Even the Demerol didn't cheer me up. After about an hour, the surgeon came in to see if I was going to live. He looked up from my chart and smiled. “How are you doing?” he said casually.

I made a face and screamed at him. “How am I fucking doing? What a question! I got an eight inch long Frankenstein zipper here; I got three tubes hanging out of me; I can't fucking move around; they won't give me a drink of water; how does it look like I'm doing?” Now I would smile and thank the doctor, but in those days I still had quite a bad temper.

By now the doctor was laughing. Partly because I was being ridiculous, and partly, God bless him, because if I already had the energy to curse him out like that, I was obviously strong enough to recover nicely. “You sound like you're doing great! And boy, did you run us a merry chase! It took us twenty minutes just to find your appendix!” In an issue of first medical impression, my appendix was as far from the usual place for such a thing as it could be, tucked up in a remote corner of my abdominal cavity behind my left hip-bone. But all's well that ends well, and I'm not complaining. Any good result is a wonderful thing. That was a bad case of a burst appendix, and even rich people frequently die from that, even to this day.

At least in those days I met the legal definition of “poor” for purposes of government assistance. The great State of California picked up the entire bill, for which I am eternally grateful. Our quality of life in those days was higher than now, because our governments, federal, state, and local, were more helpful. Now I pay as I go. I have a small policy of, what's that euphemism? Junk insurance, and I pay the rest of the bills myself. Living in Thailand makes this a sustainable proposition, unless the whole thing goes simultaneously kablooie someday. Then it will be Starship Troopers time: “Rico! You know what to do!”

I'd be even worse off in America, even with the Medicare. It's an interesting thing, Medicare. It sounds great, but it's really a lot like Three Card Monte. When you examine it closely, there's no Queen there at all. It only works well for people who meet the legal definition of “poor,” and they get about the same care that they would get even if they were too young for Medicare. Things like the old Medicaid, and the program that helped me so much with the burst appendix, MediCal, are shadows of their former selves, aren't they? Every level of government in the United States has gotten out of the helping-people business. Because . . . there's no money! Not since we stopped taxing rich people, anyway. Stop bothering us about money! We're milking the working class as hard and fast as we can!

So here we are with our prunes and our prescriptions, waiting for the really bad medical news, trying to make ends meet in a world where the king's ransom of our youth now only buys you a car and a few years of living expenses. Remember when $30,000 would buy you a nice house in New York or Los Angeles, and a Pontiac Firebird for the garage? These days it will buy you a car and a few nice lunches. Remember grandma and grandpa living comfortably in Florida in the house that they bought cheap and with Social Security paying all of their bills? Okay, get ready, place your hands on your knees, brace yourself, and let's share a huge laugh at that idea! That's some boffo stuff right there! And all of that was possible not so long ago. Hell, that was only 1970. I was married already, and that was still the financial reality for working class America. We all had more security and a better quality of life.

As much as people have the gall to complain about Baby Boomers, we have been the victims of a vicious bait-and-switch scam. We played by the rules, and now we're getting the fire-hose. As for you subsequent children out there, it's only gotten worse for you, and I am totally sympathetic. I'd hate to be thirty-five years old right now and planning for retirement. You'd have to be Mandrake the fucking Magician.

It's all about the quality of life, though. We've all got beautiful big screen TVs and Netflix; we've all got nice computers with Facebook and YouTube. We are surrounded by terrible dangers, but many of them are speculative. Maybe we'll get lucky! If we have built for ourselves, like the third Little Pig, a brick-house of happiness, we may just make it through okay with a good quality of life.

For those among us who lacked the foresight to build with bricks, or the others upon whom only bad luck will fall, it's the wolves for you I'm afraid. Or maybe for us, because my own house isn't all that strong. And in our new rough-and-tumble Trumpian culture, while the wolves are tearing people apart with their teeth, few others will care or even notice. Fake News! America is the greatest country on earth, and we take care of our own! If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

I'll take some of what those people are smoking, please. The Trump fans cheerfully accept any awful thing that happens and they believe any damn thing with a smile. Must be some strong weed.

P.S. I will care, dear reader, if you are overtaken by bad luck, and I will care about it whether your planning was weak or strong, whether your house is made from straw, wooden boards, or bricks. You are among the precious few who take the time to read my little offerings, and I love you. We need to stick together! It's a jungle out there.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Baby Washington - Go On

Justine "Baby" Washington, still alive as of this writing. Music is one of the toughest jobs around, and obviously it takes more than a great voice to make a go of it. Ms. Washington don't need your AutoTune, why, she hardly even needs a microphone. She probably crashed a few microphones in her day. "Baby, please, a little further back from the mic!" 

I'm giving her the Willie Mays "Not Gone, but Unjustly Forgotten" Award. Justine, I hope that you're doing fine.