for the music,
and the words,
for the ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics,
violin and piano lessons,
and the life lessons,
for the constant encouragement,
and complete lack of pretense,
for the “interesting” relatives,
and the colorful expressions,
for homemade Halloween costumes,
the Christmas cookies and chocolate peanut butter Easter eggs,
for your coveted apple crisp recipe,
and for letting me learn that there is, in fact, such a thing as too much cake,
for summers at the pool,
and a year at the beach,
for taking us to watch rockets launch,
and for leaving Virginia for L.A.,
for letting us be kids,
and letting us grow up,
for being sentimental,
for being humble,
for being a warrior,
for this life,
but most of all for the music.
We’ll miss you.
A few hours after the supreme court decision on the Affordable Care Act was handed down, I received an email from the Obama2012 campaign with the following subject line:
“Say you’re with me.”
Unfortunate. Because, on this, I’m not. I dunno, I just can’t bring myself to call it “affordable care” or “health care reform” or anything implying progress without rolling my eyes all Exorcist-style. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t think it’s REgressive. Just more of the same. The sick keep getting sicker while the rich keep getting richer.
So I fired off the response below. I don’t expect to hear back. But if you’re reading this, Mr. President, holla!
* * * * *
Sir, with all due respect, you are out of your gourd on this one. I am all for universal ACCESS to quality health care. However, foisting insurance coverage on everyone is not in any way the same as ensuring we all get quality health care. Not by a long shot.
Insurance is the reason costs are so high. Abolish the insurance industry and then you might have REAL health care reform. Until then, it makes no sense to me to buy into the problem. And don’t even get me started on what passes for health care in this country. There are thousands of highly educated physicians out there with only the best of intentions, but our medical institutions (brought to you by Big Pharma) fill their heads with unsound science that is good for business, bad for our health.
As my 99-year-old grandfather says, “the secret to longevity is staying away from doctors.” And the secret to true prosperity is withdrawing from a system designed by the rich and powerful for the rich and powerful.
I voted for you, sir, and wanted with all my heart to see you succeed. And I realize what an unbelievably daunting task you had before you. I had hoped you would be different from your colleagues. But this is the latest in a string of disappointments. I will not vote again in this country because I now realize that voting is simply an elaborate ruse meant to convince the 99% that we have some sort of say in how we are exploited by the 1%. I may still be entrenched in this system, but I’m through pretending that it’s something other than what it is.
Gs for life,
Why yes… yes, I do. Good thing, too. Because research has shown that people who do consider themselves lucky tend to attract more of said luck (the good kind) than those who don’t.
Exhibit A: Our April Fool’s Day weekend Vegas trip.
I had taken my car for an oil change and general road-worthiness inspection a few days before, so I should’ve been 100% confident in its ability to make the journey intact. But I wasn’t. Something wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but when you’ve been with one car for 14 years, you just know. Instinct kept mumbling something like, “As your attorney, I advise you to rent a very fast car with no top…” But did I listen? No.
So there we were, in the middle of some godforsaken desert backwater, when the slight steering wheel shimmy we’d been experiencing all trip turned into an epic, end-time battle between good and evil, left and right, car and driver. And the car was not giving up. We pulled off to inspect the lumbering beast and saw nothing awry. Tires looked fine. No leaks in my non-existent power steering. Surely it was an alignment issue. Get back on the road, we thought. Maintain. Just to the next exit, where we’d surely find some ersatz grease monkey waiting for a couple of LA rubes to rob blind.
Back on the I-15, things got worse. We’d long since given up driving anywhere near the 70 mph speed limit. The procedure was: Slow down. See marginal improvement. Get the shakes more violently than before. Repeat. We were now down to about 45-50 mph. As vehicles large and small, old and young whizzed past us in their rush to get somewhere and nowhere in particular, we plodded ahead like an old south Florida couple en route from the early bird special at Morrison’s. We wanted off that goddamn highway as much as everyone else wanted us off it. But where? When?
The answer came directly, in the form of Exit 221, Afton Road. Our luck was about to take a turn.
* * * * *
Stay tuned for Part Deux… comin’ at ya just as soon as I get a few work monkeys off my back.
For all you Angelenos who haven’t been following the story, you can find background on the dispute between the LA Film School and Hollywood Farmers’ Market here. And here. Should you get fired up enough to give your councilperson a piece of your mind on the matter, feel free to use any portion of the letter below (Eric Garcetti is the Councilman for District 13/Hollywood: firstname.lastname@example.org). Will property-owners’ rights trump the public good? Stay tuned …
* * * * * * * * * * *
An open letter to the Los Angeles City Council:
I am writing as a constituent, a taxpayer and a frequent patron of the Hollywood Farmers’ Market to urge you to deny the Los Angeles Film School’s request to remove the market from the Sunset-to-Selma stretch of Ivar Avenue UNLESS the displaced vendors can be moved to another immediately adjacent area that is comparable in size, safety and accessibility.
As I’m sure you’re aware, the Hollywood Farmers’ Market has been operating every Sunday in the same spot for almost 20 years. The LA Film School, however, was founded in 1999, making them the proverbial family that buys a house next to the airport and then complains about the noise. Access to parking has always been a problem in Hollywood and not just on Sundays.
But rather than being hurt by the parking problem, the LAFS has actually been profiting from it, selling spaces in their own lots to farmers’ market patrons for $7 a spot. So one obvious solution to this dispute would be for the LAFS to re-designate those lots as school parking only. But instead, they’d rather disrupt a Hollywood institution that provides a real and valuable service not only to this community, but to other less advantaged areas where farmers’ markets are sustained by the profits from the Hollywood Farmers’ Market.
Another solution would be the one proposed by Planning Commissioner Mike Woo, who suggests that the LAFS knock down a wall in their own garage to accommodate their students and guests. A spokesperson for the LAFS has responded that they should not have to bear the full financial burden for the expansion of their (commercial) enterprise. Yet is it not a basic rule of business that you have to spend money to make money? I suppose in tough times, some businesses will go to great lengths to evade that rule, even if it means effectively stealing from the public.
I understand there is also a relatively new City ordinance regarding obtaining permits for street closures, which is making the HFM more vulnerable to the LAFS’ demands. I would ask the Council to simply grandfather in the Hollywood Farmers’ Market so that they may continue feeding the local community, supporting the backbreaking work of area farmers and contributing to the health and well-being of poorer communities that would not otherwise have access to farmers’ markets.
The LA Film School is a for-profit organization that is looking for a way to turn a buck at the expense of the local, taxpaying community and the hard-working farmers who serve it. As a member of this community, I take vehement exception to that. I implore you to do the right thing for the people you serve and deny the LA Film School’s request. Thank you for your time and careful attention to this important matter.
Well, I finally did it. Got sucked back into the social networking vortex via Twitter. What can I say? I like the name. And the fact that it forces me to be succinct. A lost art, brevity …
Anyway, today, there was a tweet from fearless fashion freak, Bryan Boy, pointing to his recent blog post about charity and a way to give that keeps on giving. (Hint: it’s not herpes.) Donations to organizations like Trickle Up, give people living on less than $1.25 a day the seed money to start small businesses. His point was that the standard hand-out form of charitable giving is not sustainable. Or sustaining. I agree 100% on the latter. We all need the sense of confidence and security that comes from knowing we can take care of ourselves.
As for sustainability, though, I bet we in the U.S. could support several third world countries with what we spend on lattes alone. I’ve long felt that those of us who are the “haves” (and by that I mean we who have everything we need plus enough left over for things like $5-a-day latte habits and $100-a-month iPhones) could stand to have a little less. You know, share. It’d be good for us. Might even make us face our fears and insecurities instead of suppressing them with over-consumption. Not to mention, I actually worry more about money when I’m flush with it than when things are tight. I hang onto that shit like Tom Cruise holds onto crazy. And it is crazy. Because I’ve supported myself for the last 25 years and I’ve always had more than I need. But somehow, I’ve convinced myself that I need everything I have. Living in a culture of fear will do that to you.
So I’m going to loosen my grip a little, and as my bf—who routinely gives handouts to pretty much anyone who asks (and some who don’t), though his income is even less predictable than mine—says, “Fuck fear.” Or as Neale Donald Walsh says:
“When you know that there is enough, you stop competing with others. You stop competing for love, or money, or sex, or power, or whatever it is you felt there was not enough of. The competition is over.
This alters everything. Now, instead of competing with others to get what you want, you begin to give what you want away. Instead of fighting for more love, you begin giving more love away. Instead of struggling for success, you begin making sure that everyone else is successful. Instead of grasping for power, you begin empowering others.
Instead of seeking affection, attention, sexual satisfaction, and emotional security, you find yourself being the source of it. Indeed, everything that you have ever wanted, you are now supplying to others. And the wonder of it all is that, as you give, so do you receive. You suddenly have more of whatever you are giving away.
The reason for this is clear. It has nothing to do with the fact that what you have done is ‘morally right,’ or ‘spiritually enlightened,’ or the ‘Will of God.’ It has to do with a simple truth: There is no one else in the room.
There is only one of us.”
Written and “directed” by Daniel Overberger.
I haven’t been blogging much lately because work is overwhelming me right now. As a freelancer, I’m crazy lucky to be able to say that, times being what they are and all. But I’m even luckier in that I’m actually loving my work right now. One project (or series of projects, rather) has to do with the fashion industry, the other with entertainment. So both projects offer plenty of room for creativity… and both clients actually have the balls to put it out there.
So yeah, I’m pretty grateful to be in this position. Even though I’m spending nearly every waking moment on work, that just means I’m enjoying every waking moment. And getting paid for (most of) it. What could be better than that?
Anyway, if anyone’s still reading, I should be back to semi-regular blogging come August. For now, the Mexican kids are already shooting fireworks below (I love LA), so here’s a little X in honor of Independence Day. Play with yer pyrotechnics responsibly, y’all:
I don’t usually pass this stuff along but I thought this was pretty important as it’s about the future of our food supply. Or lack thereof. If you haven’t seen the movies Food, Inc. or The Future of Food, both do a good job of explaining the situation. (If you only have time to watch one, I recommend the latter, available for free on hulu… just follow the link above. Food Matters comes highly recommended, as well.) In a nutshell, one company—Monsanto—is, right now, quietly taking control of the world’s food supply via tactics that are nearly as staggering as their potential impact on human life.
This petition is more specifically about Monsanto’s plans to spread their genetically modified seeds across the land… alfalfa, in this case. But if they get their way here, it will set a precedent that you can safely bet they’ll take full advantage of. Sure, signing this petition may not do a damned thing to change the course of events… but at least it will send a message that we’re watching them (Monsanto and the US government). And the more of us who know, the harder we can push in the opposite direction: for organic, non-genetically modified food produced by sustainable, independent farms.
Last week, D and I took advantage of a rare free Tuesday night to head down to Culver City for our old ritual of a stroll through the farmer’s market followed by dinner at the Krishna temple. But the real reason for going down there was a talk being given by Mark Rudd, former student organizer and anti-Vietnam war activist. We had seen the documentary The Weather Underground a few months ago, so when the invitation to the talk arrived in my email inbox, I immediately recognized Rudd and signed us up for the event.
He was a really affable guy and seemed quite humble. But according to Rudd himself, that wasn’t always so… by the time he joined the Weather Underground, he had become a macho revolutionary who “in the end, just wanted to be Che Guevara”. Fortunately, though, the Weathermen/Weather Underground never killed anyone other than their own people (in a bomb-making accident… read the instructions first, kids). So at least his lust for revolution didn’t leave him with blood on his hands.
Anyway, during the interview, Rudd mentioned that one of the most vital aspects of organizing back in the day was not just handing out flyers, but actually talking—and listening—to the people who took them. Engaging in a dialogue. That was how you got people interested. And involved.
When the interview was over, he fielded questions from the audience. One woman asked if he had any suggestions on how to get people on opposite sides of an issue to talk to each other (rather than shutting down as per usual), especially in light of how polarized our nation has become.
I don’t remember what his answer was, but his open demeanor embodied what I think my answer would have been: that the only way you can expect people to engage in an honest debate is to go into it fully accepting the fact that, no matter where you stand, no matter how right you know you are, YOU MIGHT BE WRONG.
Aye, there’s the rub.
Actually, I think Rudd unknowingly answered that woman’s question in his response to the question that followed (what advice he would give to start-up, grassroots peace activist organizations… or something). He said:
“The most effective organizer is anonymous.”
True that. If you can get the ego out of the way (or at least make it sit down and behave), you’ll finally be free… to be anonymous, to be wrong and to change the world. Death to the ego! Power to the people!
* NOTE: Everything written here might be wrong.