Poem: How the Revolution Started (First in a Series)


He’s outfitted for combat:

Ankle boots; black dungarees; Sam Jones belt with cuffs and mace and other tools of the craft; bulletproof vest; sunglasses; implacable stare.

And a gun, holstered at the moment.

The nametag says “Ortiz” or it could be “Gomez” or “Gonzalez”

Or whatever you want it to be.

He’s standing in the parking lot

Guarding the bank where inside there must be more money than Mr. Ramirez will earn

In his lifetime.


Sometimes he imagines with a sense of wonderment

The origin of all that he protects: Where did it come from? And then this is the part Mr. Garcia always returns to, like a reliable reading spot: What did all those people streaming through the doors

That he oversees and protects, how did they get it?

What did they do? What was their trick?

Besides being born here?

He . . . → Read More: Poem: How the Revolution Started (First in a Series)


generosity is good

Generosity makes everyone involved feel good. Both the recipient and the giver derive pleasure from the act of sharing, albeit in different ways. (It’s better to give than to receive?) Generosity is one of the easiest ways to instantly manifest joy, to create what’s commonly understood as “good energy.”

We all like getting surprises; we all like being thought of by others. What’s less universally appreciated is the benefits that accrue to the giver: a sense of well-being, of bigheartedness, of grace. When you give from the heart, you have no motive other than to brighten the life of someone else; when you do, the sun shines on both of you.

“Give until it hurts” is a popular credo in the political bribery industry. But true generosity involves no pain. As the kids say, it’s all good.

We’ve been making a point of reminding ourselves to be . . . → Read More: Generosity


which mask today

Folks who begin sentences about themselves with the word “honestly” are subtly implying that there are times, perhaps many times – this particular time when they’re talking to you being an exception, of course – when they’re not honest. That’s why they’re prefacing their personal revelation with a qualifier, a certification of authenticity. This time, you can be assured, they’re not being dishonest, and it’s good to be reminded.

Honestly, we didn’t think we could ever write an essay this open and vulnerable.

This must be a mistake, we thought. These “honestly” people probably mean to say “candidly.” They’re making what used to be known in the days of Strunk & White as a “usage error.” Since we’re accustomed to hearing passing Runyon Canyon hikers (most of them under-30, most of them female) use the word “like” dozens of times – honestly, dozens! – in a single . . . → Read More: Honestly

The Human Rights Litmus Test


Straight from the Department of Cruel Irony – actually, the State Department of the United States – our government’s annual report on worldwide human rights is now available to the public.

The 2013 edition graphically outlines all the terrible stuff that’s going on around the globe, a catalogue of affronts to human kindness and decency. Unilaterally murdering American citizens (not to mention civilians of numerous nationalities) with CIA drones, and thereby obliterating the increasingly archaic concept of “due process, is nowhere mentioned. But there’s plenty of other nauseating stuff.

Anti-gay legislation, some with potential death penalties, in 80 countries. Russian and Chinese outrages against civil liberties. And, of course, the ongoing disrespect for life and dignity on display in Syria.

The report also details horrendous human rights abuses in place like Turkey, Qatar and Egypt. Our allies. Our “friends” in the region. These repressive regimes are the . . . → Read More: The Human Rights Litmus Test

Poem: Yoga Lesson


What is arrogant contrary to your view

would be to presume that the threshold of excellence you’ve artificially set –

what does and doesn’t qualify for literature art excellent worthiness –

earned along the way the organic certification, the one we all hope

we’re worth. In fact, my dear, my darling, my [insert pet name here],

the oracles have spoken and they say you’re flimfloozled.

And also mildly embruvulated!


Is it only Hollywood People who do yoga to relieve their suffering and pain,

and to exercise in stretchy pants?

Is it only bitter pedants who haven’t yet learned “show, don’t tell”

works wonderfully when delivering admonitory rants?

You can’t awaken the sleeping with a startling shout. You must enter their dreams,

burrowing through the seams, into the revelation spot,

ensconcing yourself there, building a tent, settling in for the long

long night of . . . → Read More: Poem: Yoga Lesson

Family Problems

family problems

In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, where thousands died and hundreds-of-thousands more were left homeless, almost everyone I spoke to asked the same question: My Filipina wife — was anyone in her immediate family affected?

Everyone was greatly relieved to learn that, no, none of my wife’s immediate family members were harmed by the storm. To these kindhearted and compassionate inquirers, the absence of death, injury, or property damage to my wife’s closest relatives was a great relief, a kind of silver lining to the dark cloud of death that descended on her birth country. By some sort of strange spiritual calculus, it was understood and taken for granted that blood relations are intrinsically more important, more valuable to us, than everyone else – with the exception of those who are welcomed bloodlessly into the family through adoption and marriage. . . . → Read More: Family Problems

Muzzle the Bums!

panhandler with values

The government shutdown didn’t last long enough last week to stop a federal judge from overturning an Arizona anti-begging law. He said it was unconstitutional. He said it infringed on the “free speech” rights of beggars.

Since when do beggars have rights? (We already know they don’t have choices, since beggars can’t be choosers.) The City of Flagstaff clearly understood the difference between tax-paying, property-owning, police-protected citizens and worthless bums. During a one-year period monitored by the busybodies at the ACLU, Flagstaff police arrested an estimated 135 bums on “suspicion of loitering to beg.” In some cases, the offenders were jailed, which maybe was a better place to spend the night than underneath a freeway overpass. The ACLU filed a federal suit on behalf of a 77-year-old-woman who was arrested when she asked a hard-working and perspicacious undercover officer for bus fare. (And if that’s not a . . . → Read More: Muzzle the Bums!

Sanitary Mafias

The Godfather of hand kisses

Opportunistic petty criminals, the kind that go after old lady pocketbooks and unattended bicycles, generally aren’t very organized. They don’t have thorough long-range plans and an extensive network of colleagues to help coordinate their heists. Most unsuccessful criminals are desperate loners, independent contractors of malfeasance who can never stay one step ahead of The Man.

The ones that have their act together, the ones who run their illegal enterprise just like a profit-seeking business would, we call “organized crime.” Various mafias — the Italian, Russian, Mexican, Jamaican, Serbian, and Salvadoran chief among them — have earned our grudging fear and respect for their organizational discipline and managerial excellence. These mafias know what they’re doing. They’d be on the cover of Fortune if only what they were doing was legal – or at least as legal as gaming the energy markets and flipping a distressed homeowner’s property just . . . → Read More: Sanitary Mafias

The Golden Rule

Golden Ruler

Expressed in portentous Bible-speak, the Golden Rule means “Do unto others as ye shall have them do unto you.” Put plainly: Treat others how you would like to be treated.

Progressive yoga types enhance and sharpen the meaning: “Be the change you wish to see.” They also believe the Golden Rule involves love moving in all directions, spreading goodness to all living creatures.

Western or Eastern – the concept of conducting one’s life consciously, weighing behavior decisions based on the Golden Rule instead of the monkey brain (eat, fuck, fight), is a template for being that most of humanity embraces, at least in theory. It sounds good and it works!

When we look at our collective behavior as a nation, as a community called the United States of America, we wonder if our national decisions are based on Treating Others the Way We Would . . . → Read More: The Golden Rule

I Welcome That Debate

Obama NSA motto

“I welcome that debate.” — President Barack Obama, reacting to the disclosure of a secret domestic surveillance program operating under his watch.

“I welcome that debate,” I said to my wife. She had just discovered that I’d been having — actually, that I am currently having and intend to continue having — an affair with one of the hot flexible chicks in my yoga class.

Some bitter friend of my wife’s knows the girl I’ve been cheating with, and she informed my wife by disclosing dozens of private emails, texts, and intimate photos that I thought were being held securely. It was quite embarrassing. I come off as a real jerk. It looks bad. Especially to my wife.

“You selfish, disgusting pig! This wasn’t a ‘mistake.’ This wasn’t a one-night stand with some stranger you met in Las Vegas. This was ongoing! You’ve . . . → Read More: I Welcome That Debate