We’re No (April) Fools

We're No Fools

In the spirit of light-hearted playfulness of April Fools Day, the Los Angeles Times tried to pull one over on their (dwindling) readership. But the cleverest among us realized their ruse, and instead of feeling perplexed and outraged we enjoyed a hearty chuckle. All in good fun!

The April 1, 2014 edition’s lead editorial, on page A10, was headlined “Climate change here and now.” The sub-head said: “Crop yields are down, deaths from heat are up. A U.N. panel’s report should be a call to action.” The editorial encapsulated the report’s most alarming warnings – impending disruption of the world’s food supply; dying oceans; droughts – and concluded that, in a rational world, the report would be more than enough to propel world leaders into action.

The final sentence: “We [should] discuss how quickly we can reduce [climate change’s] severity by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and which . . . → Read More: We’re No (April) Fools

Samsara

samsara

The intent of the documentary “Samsara” is to “illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of the nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.” Birth, life death: and repeat. The director and cinematographer Ron Fricke, working in ravishing 70mm film, guides us through the journey with no words, no dialogue, no voiceover, only exquisite music and imagery of heartbreaking beauty and transcendence. But “Samsara” is not merely a collection of pretty pictures. Fricke successfully manages to explore profound ideas solely through imagery. The film contains visual puns and several strongly sequenced “narrative” threads, particularly our human connection to other animal species. The result is one of the most transcendent works of art we’ve ever experienced.

Poem: Thank You to the Birds

Mourning_Dove_

Perched on a wire, a feathered ornament prettifying

the blight of power lines

graphing the sky with staves

and you’re the notes.

La-la-la…and a little higher

Laah!

Yah, hah, how you make me la-la-la,

How you make me laugh

With something like childlike, childish, altogether foolish

Joy joy. Oh, joy. That kind.

Thank you, I’ll say it directly. Thank you! I say thank you, plainly.

In a language that every living thing can understand,

and maybe the dead ones, too. The universal being universal.

Thank you, birds. For everything, the parts you can’t understand and the parts I don’t understand and

The parts that everyone understands.

Thank you for all that. And thank you for the smaller mercies, the ones I’m certain

You haven’t planned, unless, in fact, it’s true

that in your avian breast is where

God dwells.

 

Thank you, God. I’m . . . → Read More: Poem: Thank You to the Birds

Poem: Poet Philosopher

alan-ginsberg-poet-philosopher-carole-spandau

Let this be my manifesto

to be tacked upon cathedrals and posted on digital walls

where everyone in the world goes to look

at what isn’t happening to them. It has thusly been decreed

that He is I and I is He – another way to say

that I is We, and He and You and all that ever was.

It’s all in here.

 

The decision has been made – by who or whom or what, no one can say.

Royalty or slave, predator or prey, your divine purpose

is to be of service to God, God being Nature and living creatures and

everything that’s here and everything that isn’t.

Your brothers and sisters, the ones who aren’t born yet, the ones whose shells

you might one lifetime inhabit – everyone is qualified, despite what merchants in the religion trade

claim.

 

Heretofore . . . → Read More: Poem: Poet Philosopher

Dirty Thoughts

An Indian ragpicker searches for re-cycl

We’ve learned from experience, from having a surfeit of dirty thoughts. Voluntarily removing more than 3,000 pieces of litter from Hollywood’s Runyon Canyon (and the streets around it), has taught us several abiding lessons that the City of Los Angeles should consider in the ongoing battle against trash blight. + Getting folks not to litter in the first place — and to pick up any litter they see — is a tough ask when our entire lifestyle is based on “acceptable” fouling of our environment. We accept poisoned water in exchange for newly fracked fuel sources. We accept polluted air (acknowledged by the WHO as a carcinogen) in exchange for the convenience of one-person commutes. We accept an entire economy based on consume-and-dispose. Accepting a litter-speckled “nature area” isn’t hard to do when many of us arrive at the park in an SUV . . . → Read More: Dirty Thoughts

Very Special Yoga People

Upside down crescent flexibility

Yoga People come from all walks of life, with a million different back stories and life journeys. Nonetheless, Yoga People generally share certain admirable and desirable traits: physical flexibility, mental mindfulness, and a spirit of focused discipline. They tend to possess a figurative openness of heart that mirrors the literal openness of their limbs spread wide in an asana.

They look good, too!

Yoga People, the conventional thinking goes, are slightly more conscious of the universe than the average person, more awake to reality and possibility, thanks to the power of inward-looking meditation.

This may be true in many cases, maybe even most cases. But practical visual evidence, the kind with measurable parameters, suggests that for all their advanced inquiry into the nature of being, Yoga People are actually pretty much like non-Yoga People.

To be oblivious to the world around us and . . . → Read More: Very Special Yoga People

Litter in Runyon Canyon: An Update

Runyon Canyon Trail

One year ago we began picking up litter in Runyon Canyon and the Hollywood streets near it. For three-days-a-week, for more than 52 weeks, we’ve collected anything we see (and can reach) that doesn’t belong on the ground — or in a tree or on a bush. SINCE PUBLISHING THE ORIGINAL ESSAY, WE’VE COLLECTED NEARLY 3,000 PIECES OF LITTER IN RUNYON CANYON. We’ve also found car keys, cellphones, and about $7 in paper money.

Horrifying amounts of garbage accumulate on the sidewalks beside the world-famous Hollywood Boulevard — which has exactly one trash bin on the blocks near Runyon. Councilman Tom LaBonge is aware of the situation but doesn’t seem to be able to do anything about it. So we’re stepping up to the civic plate until he or his hand-picked successor does.

Our neighborhood’s spectacular nature area is dramatically cleaner than it was last August. Yet, . . . → Read More: Litter in Runyon Canyon: An Update

Enrich LA

enrichla imagery

Certain simple ideas have the power to transform humanity (for the better). Creating an organic community garden is one of those life-changing concepts. The forward-thinking nonprofit, EnrichLA, builds gardens at schools, using students, parents, and community volunteers to construct irrigated planting beds, trees, flowers, and vegetables. In the tradition of Habitat for Humanity, it all happens in one antic day. This is possible thanks to a smartly refined template — they’re in more than 50 locations; they know what they’re doing — and a charismatic leader, Tomas O’Grady, a handsome Irishman equally handy with power tools and public relations. Volunteer. Plant a seed. Watch what grows.

Bottled Water is Amazing!

Bottled Water is good for the economy

Were you aware that bottled water is “bad for the environment,” “bad for public water sources,” and “bad for your wallet”?

Neither were we! It’s pretty funny to think of something so obviously good – so amazing, when you think about it – as inherently evil, or something. Bottled water is, like, one of the greatest innovations of the last thirty years. Before bottled water was introduced in the marketplace, people had to drink out of taps, or “water fountains.” (This water was more or less free, but, hey, you get what you pay for.) Instead of having a conveniently disposable plastic bottle, people used to have to drink out of cups and thermoses and such, which, you can imagine, was very inconvenient.

Bottled water = convenient. And if that’s not a good enough reason to embrace a life-improving product, we can’t think of a better one.

. . . → Read More: Bottled Water is Amazing!

Sticking Up for Society’s Most Unloved

Japan's Policies are UnAmerican

We’ll never win a popularity contest, that’s for certain. We’re OK with that. To us, it’s more important to do what’s right than to be liked and admired and affirmed. That’s why we feel comfortable sticking up for society’s downtrodden, the friendless, powerless folks who bear the daily aspersions and derision of those who think them inferior. We love all our brothers and sisters. Even the ones no one else does.

Let us hereby celebrate smokers and litterbugs, two groups of people that consistently suffer unfair, unkind, and unhelpful criticisms.

The Los Angeles Times recently ran an editorial declaring that employers looking for job applicants who don’t smoke are making a big mistake. The paper thinks that avoiding smokers is a lamentable and unwarranted intrusion into an applicant’s private life. We agree! Employers with an eye on the bottom line – and is there another kind? – . . . → Read More: Sticking Up for Society’s Most Unloved