Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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

From Where I Sit: On Ethics

September 12, 2011

While flying to Kenya two weeks ago, I had one of those great conversations you have with the person who winds up sitting beside you. This articulate, thoughtful lady is a tenured professor teaching “Business Ethics” to university level business students. What a great conversation we had about how woefully inadequate our society has become at teaching the very moral fabric that holds us together as a people. I beleive she also teaches a version of the class to journalism students. Much needed. Time flew.

Too bad more schools don’t teach ethics as it relates to helping our society — and not trying to steal the pennies off the eyes of the dead.

How does our great society remain great with so many narcissistic Right Wingers trying to destroy the cloth that weaves us together? Yes, this is just my opinion stated here, but I know it is shared by many on the “idealistic” and often “naive” left. Business students are told how to make money at any cost; profit the shareholders; appease Wall Street. Journalists are taught to rip the rumors from unnamed sources to “make a name for themselves.” The many Tea Party wanna-be politicians are too naive for words. Lemming-like, they follow Rush, Sean, Boehner,and O’Reilly right off the cliff, totally unaware of how unwitting they themselves are.

Did we not learn in our public schools of the sixties and seventies to think for ourselves? Hmm, I guess I’ve answered my own question. Yes, we of the seventies and eighties did learn to think for ourselves, to articulate what is truly important in life. Those who have come after have been so caught up in “getting into the right university” (read “business” school), pre-school (read “privately funded elites), performing high school level “social” responsibilities because it will look good on their school record rather than because it is the right thing to do, and let us not forget those who feel the need to look like a movie star (aka lipo, botox, breast augmentation, etc), that they have lost sight of what truly matters to society as a whole and civilization in toto.

It’s really not a bad thing to have a good heart coming from a good place to help the most with whatever little one has or can rally.

The Dude

July 13, 2011

Under the stars of the Hollywood Bowl last evening, July 12, 2011, Gustav Dudamel out did even himself. A man who has been called a “magnetic enthusiasm for music” should be deemed a man of many hands, fascinations, gestures, drama, tenderness. And of course great hair.
Dudamel’s hands were, quite frankly, one of those seminal moments you will carry with you. As in the film “Ghost,” when Patrick Swayze’s character placed his hands over those of the Demi Moore character as they pressed and drew up the fine potters wheel clay.
Dudamel’s hands evoke everything and nothing. Every chord he beckons from his musicians lips and tongues and bodies and beings into the openness under the dome of the Bowl are our gift for coming this eve.
This is only the Dude’s second season directing the Bowl’s Philharmonic. To the horror of music fans alike, I must say that while the lovely music was mesmerizing and the Steinway piano virtuoso Lang Lang accompaniment was nicely although athletically delivered, it made no difference to the evening’s delight. One could have been deaf and still been mesmerized watching the minute, sometimes large, huge, exhonerific, tremulous, cat pawwing, humble, gloriosity of Dudamel’s hands. Particularly the left. In the right he holds his baton. In the left, he holds the world.
My readers would be disappointed if I did not tell you what we heard and were sent home with musically: The slinky Lauren Bacall-like sultriness of Borodin’s symphonic pictures. The Dude follows with Lang Lang, a fixture on the world’s pianist scene, for Prokofiev’s moody Piano Concerto No. 3 concerto. Then, the Dude submerges us all under the wide Bowl of Mussorgsky. Last night was something of a Scherherazade evening of thrilling sultriness.

A Very Disney Soliloquey to Grief, Loss, and Confusion

May 15, 2011

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel, aka “The Dude,” delivered on his excellent conduction of Mestophelian Steven Mackey’s “Beautiful Passing.” Alas, Mackay did not. As the story goes, Mackey’s mother was dying; he wanted to create a musical homage to express her beautiful passing. I’m not sure where he was at the time of his mother’s passing or the lead up to same, but he couldn’t have been in the same room. Not to seem rude, but Mackay’s music was so dissonant it was hard to hear. The ears wanted to shut down almost immediately. Were it not for the extraordinary prowesss, beauty, and virtuoso athleticism of violinist Leila Josefowicz, the audience might have all committed suicide then and there. Initially, there was hope that what began like a strangled “West Side Story,” all rough and hewn largely and loudly, would provide even momentary comfort. Only Josepowicz’s ardent violinguisitcs sustained us. This is not to say that Mackey’s composition was all bluster, there were petite hints of life, spirituality, and humankind sprinkled throughout. Alas, poor Mrs. Mackey’s death must have been long, drawn out, and excruciatingly painful.
That not-with-standing, Ms. Josefowicz performs with animation and clear intent. She hearts her material. One wonders if she really wanted to play Mackey’s erratic, ecclectic and burdensom dirge or would rather have played something lovely and life-affirming? Something that might leave audiences wanting more? Buying her versions of musical rendition?
Post intermission, the LA Master Chorale entered with great cememony. Theirs was a well-sung Ode to Brahms — “Requium,” Ein deutsche Requiem, Op. 45.
Not an up evening, no; but in its defense, it was like a slab of intenseness fell all around one. The Euro-Bavarian spiritual, obligatory solemnity, and emotion exposes the grieving soul of human kind. Ultimately, one is forced to listen for the nuances that give us and is life. One is forced to listen to the fluttering of notes, suffering passion, a frayed heart. One hears the spiritual combat within Brahams, his artists, and oneself.
These sounds are large like thunder. They climb. A wretching Agonistes sits first chair. Yet from despair comes Matthias Goerne, the voice of hope. With deep baritone and wonderfully empty hands, he personifies Humankind entirely within itself — grappeling with the impossible. The Chorale spars with Goerne’s extraordinary soul exposed descrying the human condition. Even he, however, bows slightly under the weight of the evening’s song. For heavy is the load we carry to our graves. “Blessed are the dead” the lyric says. I might add, “For they no longer have anything to fear.” They have met God and found him nothing more than euphamism for nothing.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the evening?
Kudo’s to the Dude’s wonderfully long baton down at finis, Leila Josefowicz’s stilleto pumps, cheekbones, and enjoyment of her instrument, Schafter’s marvelous voice, Goerne’s exhaltingly bassoon-like exuberance, and the Chorale’s ability to perform to expectation.

To Those of Us Who have Lost Our Mothers This Year…and Before

May 8, 2011

Some of us are stoic; some of us worn down;
Some don’t have the time to dwell, others too much to not.
Some were always too busy to do much more than they were doing;
Some felt they never did enough;
In truth did far more than anyone else in their mother’s life.

Some of us have sisters and brothers who shared our pain;
Some are only children with, hopefully, someone to share our strain.
All of us have had to go through our mother’s things after the fact,
decide what was important to them and is to us.
Where it should go. To whom. Why.
Things no one teaches us in history books.
Things they should have taught us about our herstory.
Things they should have put in books
Things perhaps we should put in books.
All of us learned things about our mothers that changed us.
All of us have learned our mothers were and will always be
THE most important women in our lives.

If your mother is still on earth, tell her how much you love her.
One day she will be gone to a place you can’t hug her except in your mind,
with your heart, your soul. It is not as satisfying.
If your mother has gone to explore the deep particulate physics of our universe,
Reach in to her with your soul on Mother’s Day. Thank her.
For everything you are and ever will be.

Women Get What They Refuse to Demand: Rights.

April 25, 2011

Recently MSNBC ran an interesting article (URL below). We have a good friend (heterosexual male) who refuses to have his male dog fixed. His wife says he takes it too personally. So his dog goes to the dog parks or dog beaches and gets into testosterone-laden fights — trying to hump everything in sight. Suffice to say there are way too many humping/breeding dogs out there.

No wonder mostly “old” white male politicians guarantee that insurers “pay” for only what advantages them. Insurance companies pay either 100% (medically prescribed) or charge only a co-pay for Erectile Dysfunction. Yet, those same Patriarchical Right wingers don’t want to pay for contraceptives, abortion, planned pregnancies, or ED abrasions, yeast infections, etc — and are trying their best to overturn Roe V Wade and gut Planned Parenthood.

One might say that women will get what they refuse to demand. Rights.

I’m having a menopausal day. Oh, that’s not covered either until after the $5,000.deductible. If at all. Black cohash is over-the-counter, cash-up-front. If you don’t demand equal power and demand the right to maintain it, you lose it.

Annie Lenox Redux

December 27, 2010

Annie Lenox Redux
I don’t usually give pop music persons mega-kudos. At least in public. Or find inspiration in a musical homage to religious celebrations of any ilk. However occasionally I do go out of my way to give credit where supreme mega- kudos are due. Besides, we all grew up on many of the same songs now drummed into us with and over the years.

So you must see Annie Lenox perform her holiday album. Thank God (did I say that) to her performance on Ellen DeGeneres’ “Holidays from Washington,” “Good Morning America,” and the other obligatory rounds made.

This is promotion worth taking in. And actually it is more of a riveting feast of celebration. In contrast to her signature head of hair, she wears black well. It is not a sorrowful color. On her, it triangulates form and shadow, highlights her daring, emphasizes her soul, empathizes with the South African Boys Chorus who accompany her, and embodies that which she is now about.

She looks great, powerful, as if embracing the world with her arms, inviting it (and us) along for the jubilation! Such moves, daring, strength, and hope for the world. Her eyes are penetrating — as if she is looking at you through the virtual screen that theoretically separates us. Or does it?

You feel the overwhelming weight she holds in her arms. It may be invisible to many; it was visible to me. She has always been an incredible vocalist, wonderful performer, and dynamic personality.

Clearly, now, she has come into her own. Having found the old soul voice inside her that was always teasing, simmering, resident in her bones, she radiates beauty. As few have done before. She owns her space. Much more than just a stage. She makes you want to give her some of yours. She helps you realize that we are all one.

Repeat after me: “This is potentially revolutionary global village building.”

Powerful, powerful, powerful.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays!

December 22, 2010

Holiday Greeting to you’ns. Consider yourself “carded.” Not over 21; send this back. You’re too young to read it. Saving trese this year by not sending snail mail. So….
Despite all our collective “grumpies” during the years, we have peace in the world (okay, well somewhere, for brief periods of time, sometimes albeit on-again, off-again), peace in the office (perhaps, if you’re lucky enough to have a job, and you don’t have a son-of-a-bitch for an immediate supervisor), access to good coffee, fresh foods available at the local farmers market (oh, alright, Whole Foods or Ralphs), a darling dog or dogs who greet you unconditionally with their love each time you come into their space (which happens to be your home), a sweet loved one who may or may not greet you unconditionally when you come in the door (who may be geographically apart but not by heart, in their/your version of Heaven (or the other place), or merely separated by miles but not by love). You have an abundance of riches: a mother, father, step-mothers/fathers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, step-brothers, step-sisters, sons, daughters, significant others, long former lovers, high school friends, college roomies, business friends ans associates, long deceased high school teachers and every variation of whom is yours and yours alone (no matter what… make of it what you will. Hopefully YOU can turn lemons into lemonade and yellow threads into gold).

Every bit of them has contributed to who you and we are (the good, the bad, the upside-down). Individually and collectively. We have roofs over our many heads to keep us dry (or is it “rooves”), food on the table (we do not go hungry — unless we do not know how to taste the round fullness, colors, and aromas in our mouths and rolled lightly over the tongue before chewing. However a piece of dark chocolate will do too). We have reruns of Elliot and Olivia in “Law & Order SVU” to watch all year long, fond memories of Tim Russert and Elizabeth Edwards to keep us strong, recent memories of Bernadette Peters, Elaine Stritch, Vanessa Redgrave, and James Earl Jones to keep us longing for more and better theater with words and not sound effects and explosive spectacularia, and hope for an ever evolving world to come. :- ) Hopefully this will be a year of magical thinking.
Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!”
From Usn’s

Death Be Not Proud Today

December 7, 2010

To Elizabeth Edwards: “There are names of famous and not-so famous women who come to mind. Over the years, each faced death with determination, a certainty that Death will win, but not at a self-defined cost of personal dignit…y. “Death be not proud today. You did not will out.” You have taken an angel who walked among us. Whose brave… face before us fills every sinew, crease, muscle with the kind of tensile strength that says no. Not on your terms. On mine. I say when. I control my life up tot he end. Not you. I say when. I say how. Not you. So know that it is I who made the ultimate choice. Now it is I who have begun the process of unterthering my soul from my body. My body from the earth. I will become so many molecules and leptons, quarks and neutrinos, that you will no long no me by my name. However I will know you. Those I had to leave behind. To you I pass the staff. Take up the causes. There are so many. Cancer. Men who run when they hear their wives have been diagnosed with cancer. Nurturing children left behind. Death be not proud today. You have stolen one of us, the brave unstoppable, unflappable, ever-onward, ever-spinning Knowing ones, but you have lost because she leaves behind all of her self, her proton, quark stardust self. It will cover her sisters and we will make cloaks from it. We will wrap ourselves in them. We will be ever more shielded from the cowards, the runners, adulters, the ones who said they would love us, who said they had our backs, who we trusted with out bodies, hearts, souls…our lips, our pride, and dignity itself. We will move on. Like Elizabeth Glaser. Barbara Jordan. Gov. Ann Richards. Anne Frank. Sylvia Plath. Virginia Woolfe. Mary Spottiswood Pou. You do not need to know these specific names. Just know that we all exist or have, and will again. And we will be mighty. And we will be formidable. Thank you, Elizabeth Edwards for everything you have given us.
Your always fellow stardust on the road to ultimate joy and understanding. Thank you, Elizabeth, for making the hard choices so others did not have to make them for you. Thank you, Elizabeth. From all of us in “Net world” who loved you. In peace, my friend. Sleep well. Thank you.” We have a chair for you to join us.