Tagged: smart

Gambling on the Future

The state where I live, California, needs money to pay for massive infrastructure improvements, a sprawling penal system whose budget is larger than most sovereign nations’, and the salaries and pensions of a bloated bureaucracy. Our movie star governor, Arnold Schwarzennegger, has a plan. Rather than issue more municipal bonds, the interest on which must...

The Myth of Democracy

The past five years seem at first blush to be the Age of Democracy — well, at least in every sector of our society except the federal ballot box, where shenanigans and chicanery continue to infect our putatively free and fair elections. We the People decide who and what succeeds, and what doesn’t. Our popular...

Escaping Reality

A billboard prominently displayed on Sunset Boulevard, in Hollywood, urges consumers to “Escape reality…live the fantasy.” In this case, the fantasy is a “Renaissance Faire,” one of those period-costume amusement park re-creations featuring bawdy lasses, brave knights and drunken fools — “’twas too much meade, I doth declare!” — which appeal to those who find...

Watch What You Say

The recent clamor over an ignorant talk radio host behaving ignorantly — he was suspended and then fired for saying something that many people inexplicably found “offensive” — illustrates our increasing intolerance for speech, thought, and sentiment that does not fit neatly into the catalogue of acceptable ideas.¬† For the record, I don’t listen to...

In the Company of Genius?

This past week I’ve had the honor of producing an album for FreeHam Records, the little record company I own. I’ve lived inside the control room of a studio in Hollywood, listening closely to what the musicians are playing and making sure their most stirring creations are captured properly on a computer disk. My job...

The Power of Power

Of all the abstract notions that motivate human beings to behave as they do, power, it seems, is the most compelling. Truth and beauty, fame and wealth — they’re nice. But power (and the mad pursuit of it) makes people betray the basic tenets of decency that allegedly govern our interactions. Power is like a...

The Vegas Shell Game

Work commitments take me to Las Vegas frequently, where, like millions of other visitors, the excess of it all, the unashamed pursuit of pleasure disconnected from meaning or what passes for reality in more responsible precincts awes me. Behind the seductive veil of the casino come-on, though, is an unpleasant fact I’ve written about in...

Anthropomorphism

Being a dog owner, I understand completely the impulse to anthropomorphize our pets, imbuing them with human traits that canines and felines — and goldfish and hamsters and salamanders — don’t really have. Our furry (or scaly) friends seem so much more than mere animals. They’re companions and confessors, students and teachers, and they magically...

The Good, Bad and Ugly

Good: Watching the Los Angeles Marathon. My dog and I walked to the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, yards from the Kodak Theater (site of the Academy Awards and the American Idol finals). Accompanied by hundreds of other cheering neighbors, we saw thousands of our fellow residents stampede past, a herd of disparate...

Human Animals

Despite our opposable thumbs, superior intelligence, and special relationship with God, we are animals. Lucky for us, we’re at the top of the food chain. But we’re still animals.¬† Should you require a bracing reminder, go to an airport, or visit an overpopulated city. Look at your brothers and sisters at work, scurrying to wherever,...