Archive for November, 2011

Some Thoughts On Movement OWS’ Past and Present

November 16, 2011

Back in the Brian Walton Writers’ Guild of America West (WGA) days, Harlen Ellison, Steve Bocchco, David Weinstein and a number of us (many of whose names apologetically I no longer remember) created the WGA’s “Promote Writers” campaign. Forming a “committee,” we insisted the WGA hire a mainstream PR firm to help elevate the status of the WGA writer from chump to champ. After several bids, Walton gave the work to Rogers & Cowan. They charged exorbitant fees and, essentially did nothing except exhaust the Guild’s allocated funds.

Harlen, David and I insisted we bring in the brilliant PR crisis control maven, Linda Dozoretz and her then pr partner. They did an excellent job of helping us with WGAW marketing/pr strategies. Our committee took writers into LA area education programs, helped cement the mentor program, tried (with little to no success) to reach upper “management” of studio corporations and indies (now often one in the same). As you know, the WGA strike of 1979 lasted nine months and almost broke us. The wiles and chicanery of the corporate “destroy-at-any-cost” mentality was alive and well then. It’s hard not to bounce from high to low when you finally realize that your life, soul, livelihood and entirely controlled by a powerful, greedy misogynistic (at the time) group of producers who had no clue “What they were looking for” but would “Know it when they read it.”

Hoping to draw a strong parallel here to OWS, I can say that WGA writers knew then we were relatively powerless. We needed to make a statement about the role of the “screenwriter” (aka “author”).

Our Bucky Fuller “Critical Mass” attained, we went to work elevating the perception of the “writer” in Hollywood. Thank the Creator that it’s now time for OWS to join continue the protests that, themselves, were carried on by others.

Let’s kiss the ground for those who would not and will not be silenced. Including all thinking people. Those who helped our generation articulate powerlessness such that we had somewhere to “come from” and a meaningful goal for which to reach.

Who remembers Eugene Debs, Susan B. Anthony, or only recently the voices of Ralph Abernathy, Nikki Giovanni, Gloria Steinem, German Greer, Better Friedan, Ti-Grace Atkinson, Sen. Bella Abzug, Sen. Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm, Tom Hayden, RFK & MLK, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, resonated. Then they filled the auditoriums, university steps, and parks. That was their OWS.

Let’s not forget gutsy producers John Sayles, Robert Greenwald, Frederick Wiseman, Norman Lear, Horton Foote, and Robert Redford (for their commitment to cinematically sharing critically important stories). Or Karen Danaher-Dorr, Steve White, Marian Brayton for extraordinary network chutzpah, and the many more who labored against the Hollywood odds, worked hard, and succeeded or failed under the control of the corporation.

Should we be hopeful? Yes. Against all odds, I believe the laws of Nature will prevail. Critical mass has been reached. OWS voices give us additional hope for positive change. Tomorrows Wangari Maathai, Mario Savio, Margaret Sanger, Eunice Shriver, Mollie Ivans, Ann Richardson, and Leonard Matlovich can not now be silenced. The goals of breaking corporate misogyny, restoring collective bargaining and unions, and righting the wrongs of a seriously ill society can not now be stopped. So let us go forth with esprit, pride, thoughtfulness, and knowledge of self worth in tact. That’s reason to celebrate and look forward. Those are a few thoughts on movements like OWS past and present.


Eulogy for the Middle Class

November 14, 2011

Dear Online No-Address Recruiter,
We receivde your previous email blasts but intentionally did not respond. We’ve been seeking re-employment for two years now and we’ve finally realized that despite employment credentials, we’re overqualified for anything. We refuse to dumb down our resumes or pretend we don’t have experience, that we did not make consistently more than the average employee because we worked harder than the average employee, or believe that we’re not worth anything as a contributing member of society.

We realize it’s not your fault, but as a recruiter, your job is to connect the person with the job. After two years of looking,we have come to this conclusion. Do the numbers.

Since you’re not in a position to re-condition corporate America, make employee ethics mandatory for mid- to senior management and C-level positions, you can’t help the us. The Middle Class.

Since you can’t restructure society such that it does not discriminate against women, experienced, older, educated and minority employees, you can’t help us. The Middle Class.

Since corporate employers don’t want to pay for valuable services rendered anymore, you can’t help us. There will be no gold watches at the end of our Middle Class careers.

Since corporations have decided to answer to their stock holders and not their employees, you can’t help us.

Since corporations have created a separate and unequal standard of “fairness” for their insular selves, they are the ones in need of help. I don’t think you can help them either. They need much more than what you have to offer.

They need to learn they are human beings first, not last.
They need to understand they have a responsibility to the employees who made them the success they have become.
They need to remember that without employee loyalty, they would have nothing,
but with employee loyalty they have everything.
Do the numbers.

We are those who used to be strong and proud.
We had jobs. Careers. Health coverage. Homes.
The illusion that we controlled our own lives.
Now we are not for this time:
This economic age of disadvantage. Corporate malfeasance.
Political expediency. Outsourcing. Loopholes. The casino that is Wall Street, back doors to double-speak, private board rooms, sweet deals, hedged funds that used our money to gamble away our dignity.
All we asked for was fair compensation for excellence in services rendered.
Do the numbers.

Thank you in advance for your email blast, but it wasn’t, and it won’t be sufficient. At least not for those of us who are asked to recreate ourselves again from scratch. From an unlevel playing field. For pennies on the dollar. No health benefits. Empty promises.
And find nothing in your “Want Ads” to employ us. You have stolen the only thing we had left: our dignity.

We suspect our only hope is to deconstruct,
rethink, rebuild, and unemploy you.
Perhaps our eulogy is premature.
Perhaps even you can not put us back into the bottle
Or define us.
We are the ninety-nine per cent.
You are the one per cent.
Do the numbers.
Perhaps the eulogy for the Middle Class is premature.

Most sincerely,
The Unemployed Middle Class

Less Golf for GOP & Tea; Less Marathon Training and Rock Wall Climbing for Democrats

November 6, 2011

Jobs. And golf?
Couldn’t resist the temptation to have some fun, expand my neurons on a dull Sunday morning, and share my ruminations about, uh, golf — and the noise made by Sunday morning pundits over the weeks prior televised Presidential Election coverage.

You may disagree with me but I do know a few nice people who play golf. Note the use of the world “few.” They don’t beat their children or swindle millions from their friends retirement accounts. However… Golf. Really? Why would I even want to write anything about golf other than that Kevin Coster looks good driving a club. And so did Dinah Shore.

I find golf an odd-little adrenaline-pumping game for those no longer or never were Jocks. Certainly it’s the only really “acceptable” game for GOPers, employed junior management, middle, and even upper management seeking to climb higher on the backs of pimpled balls. Business meetings are held in the best hotels surrounded by eighteen hole courses with sand traps and lies. They write-off these business expenses. So every deal made on the eighth tee is tax deductible. Also over the urinal. Hell, for all I know, even the urinal is tax deductible. What about the golf clubs? How do IRS loopholes play or iron out for these amateurs? The Corp-o-Rat-ions pick up the greens fees, lunches, apres ball swacking dinners because the conversation is seriously over holes and drives and misses and holes. The meaty kind, the sweddy, and the dimpled. The tacky golf gifts are tax deductible. Women who don’t hit little balls beware — there are other ways for you to pay your dues. These games tend also to involve little balls. And little minds. A bad lay. No benefits. No future. For those who do, remember what your mother told you: “Never beat at man at his own game. It undermines his game. Always let the man win.”

Personally I think Democrats should stick to chess, scuba diving, swimming, sculling, tennis, rock climbing, Trekking, backpacking, century rides, marathons, adventure vacations, and the like. Not wasting their time “Making deals” on the back nine over clubs and some guy in checked yellow pants whipping his pimpled ball into submission. Democrats have so much more finesse. But can they their solve the diminishing jobs situation if they too stick to only what they know? Quoins, Treks, skis, REI, Luna bars, Goo, packing out their trash? Don’t think so.

How about if we create a new job type called “no balls allowed, no idealism.” Just mix an equal part GOP with an equal number DEM, flick the blender switch, and see what comes out. Hopefully a mixed and smooth blend of Americans who want to find jobs for everyone. Once everyone is back at work producing meaningful infrastructure and outrageously out-of-box creations that will them beget more American jobs, then the adults in the board rooms across our country can return to hitting their pimply little scratched balls and solving global insurgencies.

Jobs. And golf? Maybe they don’t go together. Maybe you have to sit them both down in the same room and make them play together like the adults they are not.