THUNDERBIRDS & HEAT LIGHTNING
G21 BASIN STREET RECORDS Listings
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST. The A-LIST starts here.
LETTER FROM SOUTH AFRICA
MEMOIRS OF THE INFO AGE
There Are 23 ROADS TO MYTHVILLE
MY GLASS HOUSE
NEW YORK STATE (Of Mind)
RADIO FREE ARIZONA
Recommended Daily Requirement
RECOMMENDED DAILY REQUIREMENT ARCHIVES.
LAST WEEK's EDITION
MEET THE G-CREW! These are the people behind this jam-band every week.
TABLE OF CONTENTS & BACK ISSUES
SCOTTSDALE, AZ, USA - 4 September, 2004: My first impression of America, now that I am returned to it, is that -- and this obtained to a certain degree even in New Orleans, which is only marginally part of America and definitely not in "the mainstream" -- one of the traits of its people is an inability to focus for extended periods. What I mean by this judgment is that people in America, by and large, are not ruminative. "Short Attention Span," as the cliché goes, is considered admirable, if not de rigueur. The notion of concentrating on a single task -- without the distraction of other sensory input (music blaring in the background, flashing lights or screens, etc.) -- seems a rare quantity. It follows, then, that the notion of quiet contemplation is almost mythical.
This manic need for constant stimulation from external sources strikes me as immature and even counterproductive. As has been observed in this space more than once before, most Americans seem to have lost an a appreciation for the value of silence. It takes silence, I believe, to develop an appreciation of ones surroundings, other people, nature and to explore the meaning of the information with which we are all bombarded. In short, insight and analysis can't deepen nor burst forth from a chaotic, distraction-filled whirlpool. That's why I believe our forebears came up with the expression, "Still waters run deep."
When I see a person involved in frenetic activity, jumping from one tangent or activity to another -- in need of a constantly running, blaring soundtrack in the background -- I see a person who probably doesn't complete many projects: someone you would not expect to get things done. Completion requires the ability to focus for extended periods.
This American obsession with external stimuli is something I shall have to learn to accommodate; one price of the ticket.
So I attempt to visualize my ideal environment. What would Rod's next and perfect "writer's garrett" look like? It would certainly have a balcony, a washer-dryer, and a view of trees. It would be nice if it was near a lake, canal or fountain. Some sign of being in an oasis is a good thing if you choose to live in the desert. It would be quiet, light and airy. Plants would be used as sculpture indoors, there would be lots of windows, and a florist nearby from which to get fresh-cut flowers. Natural colors are Nature's gift to us.
In this ideal place of my mind's eye, there would be a view of the mountains, as well. Mountains are the exposed backbone of the world. They are the majesty that reminds us that we not so great and powerful. Mountains are the reminder that there are still places beyond to explore and appreciate.
I can only imagine, my love, this ideal place. I can visualize and dream for now. But I feel it calling me in the midst of the cacophony that America sends forth as its model for living. And the noise is not only auditory is it? There is the visual noise of garish street signs and flashing screens and monitors everywhere, isn't there? There is the olfactory noise of gasoline and diesel fumes, competing perfumes and colognes and other detritus, isn't there? In my ideal place, Darling, there will be a minimum of these noises.
You would expect this of your Literary Priest, the Butterfly Soul, wouldn't you?
A DAY HAS RACED BY. My plan was to spend it in preparation(s) for a job interview I have on Monday afternoon, doing some basic clean-up chores on Victoria, catching up on my writing. That was not to be. I am a captive audience. I instead zipped around Phoenix going from spot to spot until we rendezvous'ed with Jaimie in order to go on an exploratory mission to the Humane Society. She wanted to suss out the environment before applying for a job there. She also was entertaining the notion of auditioning another pet to adopt. I say " another" because she already has a cat. She leans toward adding a dog to the mix.
As it turns out, acquiring a dog necessitates getting a larger place of her own with a yard, ideally. Delayed gratification. Getting the adequate domicile necessitates making more money than the Humane Society is likely to offer. So it goes. She fell in love with a dog that probably shan't be there by the time she can adopt.
I sympathize. I am the King of Delayed Gratification.
We returned here to have Jaimie prepare another succulent repast. The music is blaring in the background, of course. I am now living in America. I can only guess how the evening will proceed and what other bits of gratification I shall delay.
Tomorrow is another day. I shall block out a few hours of time to be alone.
DOUG DECIDED TO INVITE MARGARET SHARP OVER to join us for cocktails after dinner. She's a journalist from the UK who did a stretch in Calgary, BC, Canada, and now writes for one of the papers in the Independent newspaper chain. Her beat is here in Scottsdale. She a handsome woman who might possibly be a few years older than Yours Unruly, who (as every knows) is older than God. Her journalism credits predate mine by a few years, in fact.
We have pleasant wide-ranging chat. It turns out to be a fine, convivial evening of laughter, sharing and (what's beginning to seem a typical occurrence in these parts) even a brief moment reminiscent of ghost stories around the campfire. I don't suppose an old skeptic like me will ever get used to that predilection of these folks in the Valley of the Sun.
WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT ARIZONA5 September, 2004: Before I moved to Arizona, among the caveats most of my friends gave me was that this is a wildly conservative state full of faux-cowboys, unreconstructed early-Goldwater firebreathers, pick-up trucks and crystal-gazing metaphysicists. Like any characterization of a state's people -- I'm immediately made to think of the old saw about California being the "land of fruits and nuts," of Oklahoma being that of "steers and queers," all New Yorkers being rude, or the one about Louisiana being all "coon-asses and dumb-asses." While there's always a grain of truth in every stereotype, there's also a lot of just plain ignorance.
This holds true with how the rest of nation looks at Arizona. I've met a few blindered Republicans here already, most assuredly, but I've also met a large number of left-of-center and outright leftist individuals. If you look at the national polls, this is a state that's still considered up for grabs in the impending national election. That's one of the reasons that one of the Presidential debates is scheduled to take place at Arizona State University, just a few miles down the street from where I'm typing right now.
In other words, this might not be the bastion of conservatism that most folks outside of Arizona believe it is. I have the sense that the race will be as tight here as it is expected to be nationally.
The Senator from Arizona, after all, is the G.O.P. star John McCain. It would not be unreasonable to infer that the Senator is campaigning for Mr. Bush not out of any favorable opinion of the man but rather to cement his own position, by being a "team player," as the presumptive leader of his party in 2008. It is called enlightened self-interest.
I get the sense, what with the focus on physical enhancement, the urban sprawl claiming to be a metropolis, the climate, that Phoenix aspires to be a sort of Los Angeles East. Makes you wonder, considering the great similarity in the demographic and the fact that there is a burgeoning film and television industry here, why it has not yet produced a mesquite Raymond Chandler or a sage-brush Raymond Carver. But one also gets the sense that Phoenix is in the infancy of growing into the megalopolis. Their light rail system is still just a gleam in the civic eye, for example.
There's a primary election here on Tuesday, which -- from what I read -- actually determines the outcome of the general election, locally, and makes it a rubber stamp exercise. (Yes, Virginia, there is still a primary season in the United States after Super Tuesday. It's just not exciting enough for the Mouthpiece Media to report.)
Don't get me wrong in my assessment above, this state is dominated by the Republican party but -- and that's a big one -- there's a tradition here of people being encouraged to cross party lines and there are lots of folks who call themselves "Independent". The primary election here is thus a blood-letting between the arch-conservative and "moderate" wings of the state Republican party.
I'm with Michael Moore on one thing: the red state - blue-state metaphor misses the mark as a means of characterizing the actual nature of the U.S. electorate. Simplistic analysis is most often poor analysis. States that the Conventional Wisdom would hint are solidly for Bush or Kerry are as divided as the rest of the nation. Americans are natural-born migrants and so every state is full of transplants from every other state and any number of foreign countries. Homogeneity is a Mouthpiece Media (MM) and Madison Avenue wet-dream that is mythological, at best.
For my money, I'd say listen to the conversation at the diner counter, along the bar, or in the beauty salon to get a real clue as to which candidacy has wind in its sails. It might not be quite the toss-up the punditry would have you believe. Don't let the smooth talk fool you.
LABOR DAY: I WAS THINKING THIS MORNING over the second tankard of coffee (car culture is also caffeine culture) that my own generation's complaints about the rapidity of change are wimpy. The generation before our own saw the world go from horse-drawn conveyance to the space shuttle, computers, electricity; they endured two world wars, the Great Depression, and had to learn what acronyms like SMS and GPS meant. There has been no comparable rate of change in our own time. So why all the whining about "information overload?"
I suspect it is simply a by-product of the "water cooler" habit of talking about the topid du jour, something the MM is good at making us do. Talking Points of your day provided by "Good Morning, America!," "The Today Show," "The Daily Show," et alia.
A small, independent and outspoken magazine like this one can't reach you every week without the support and patronage of its readership. As our way of thanking those who have committed to keep your World's Magazine here on your desktop through their generous donations, we feature their names and cities here in our Roll of Honor.
CHERYL HILL NATION,
West Fairlee, VT, USA
Largo, FL, USA
DRAGAN & DRAGANA VICANOVIC,
Sebastopol, CA, USA
Anaheim, CA, USA
Berkeley, CA, USA
Houston, TX, USA
DOUGLAS MC DANIEL,
Phoenix, AZ, USA
IAN CRYSTAL, Ph. D,
New Orleans, LA, USA
New York, NY, USA
New Orleans, LA, USA
Austin, TX, USA
New York, NY, USA
STUART ALTMAN, ESQ.,
New York, NY, USA
We encourage you to add your name to this Roll of Honor. GENERATOR 21 cannot continue and thrive without your support. Thanks in advance.
To support G21, please send checks or money orders to:
G21: The World's Magazine
Attn: Rod Amis
4901 E. Kelton Lane, #1271
Scottsdale, AZ, 85254 - 1012
To donate by credit or debit card, please go to the Western Union website by following the highlighted link. Should you donate via Western Union, please notify us via e-mail.
Please make all remittances payable to Rod Amis. Again, thanks.
RECOMMENDED DAILY REQUIREMENT ARCHIVES.
MEMOIRS OF THE INFORMATION AGE ARCHIVES.
Like GOOD MUSIC? So do we! We encourage you to visit our BASIN STREET RECORDS page to find out when the best New Orleans artists will be in your area. You'll be glad you did!
What are the Staff Favorites at Powell's Online Bookstore? Take a Look!
FROM OVER ROD'S TRANSOMWe got this in from our Contributing Editor, LIONEL ROLFE:ROLFE WILL CELEBRATE THE PUBLICATION OF HIS LAST BOOK -- PLEASE JOIN IN!
Lionel Rolfe will celebrate the publication of what is possibly his last book, The Uncommon Friendship of Yaltah Menuhin and Willa Cather, ?at two big events. The official publication party will be at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave. ?Saturday, Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. (323) 660-1175. The second event will be at Duttons Brentwood, 11975 San Vicente Blvd., ?Sunday, Oct. 17, at 2 p.m. (310) 476-6263. (Your presence is welcome, even if you don't buy a book. But if you do buy it, ?you will be richly rewarded -- ?when you read it and when you go to heaven for reading it).
The Uncommon Friendship of Yaltah Menuhin and Willa Cather
Paperback original, 6 x 9, 168 pages, illustrated with historical photographs
1-879395-46-0 - $14.95
In recent years, much light has been shed on the remarkable life and writing of American author Willa Cather (1873-1947), many of whose novels explored the subject of women and creativity.
Now, acclaimed author Lionel Rolfe (The Menuhins: A Family Odyssey, Literary L.A. and Fat Man on the Left: Four Decades in the Underground) has delved into his fascinating family history to reveal the extraordinary story of the friendship between Willa Cather and his mother, piano prodigy Yaltah Menuhin (1920-2001), sister of world class violinist Yehudi Menuhin. Against the tumultuous backdrop of America and Europe in the early and mid-20th century, Rolfe presents the engrossing chronicle of his mother's struggle as a budding musician, her tragic relationship with her own parents, and the solace she found when Cather became her mentor -- a mutually inspiring friendship which would endure for decades and would see Yaltah inspiring some of the most memorable heroines in Cather's novels, most notably Lucy Gayheart.
Here is a personal yet universal book which not only provides illuminating new insight into two important women artists, but also raises many provocative questions about the effects of societal and familial constraint on the lives of brilliant women.
From the preface:I ended the book with deepened understanding of the special relationship between Rolfe's mother and Willa Cather, and appreciated it for that reason. ?But mainly I appreciated it because of insights it enabled about the family of the Menuhins, and about what it ?meant to be a third and female prodigy in that family.-- Sue Rosowski, University of Nebraska
It is a deeply humanizing reminder of actual people who create the art, and who create the conditions of artistic performance.
CIRCULATING AROUND THE WEB, and forwarded to me by Ric Williams, over in Austin, Texas, is a missive from Garrison Keillor, the writer and broadcaster. It is entitled, "We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore," and began circulating on 26 August of this year.
Mr. Keillor says, in part:Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.
In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass and made training films in Long Beach.
The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. "Bipartisanship is another term of date rape," says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.
The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk.
Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous ...
Keillor's is a compelling essay against apathy. You should read it in its entirety if you get the chance.
Then there's this: Vote Carrie
THIS CAME IN ON 8 SEPTEMBER from the "Interesting People" listserv, which I joined recently. (Thanks for the tip, DC.):Creative Accounting Only Goes So Far
Unsound transactions are going to catch up with the government.
A new report from the Congressional Budget Office explains that the deficit is a virtually meaningless measure of the government's indebtedness. The main reason for this is that the federal government uses cash accounting rather than accrual accounting. What this means is that the government can acquire massive debts far into the future with virtual impunity. The government can also, in effect, cosign for loans and provide insurance that could potentially cost taxpayers hundreds of billion of dollars without it ever showing up in the budget until a check has to be written.
By the CBO's reckoning, the federal government's true debt last year was $8.5 trillion ã more than twice the debt held by the public, which we generally think of as the national debt. That figure came to $4 trillion, only slightly more than the $3.9 trillion in future benefits owed to government employees and veterans.
But even the $8.5 trillion figure is much too low because it excludes the really big debts that are owed for Social Security and Medicare. Since these obligations extend far into the future, the only way they can realistically be quantified is by using a statistical method called present value. This takes account of the fact that $1 fifty years from now is worth much less than $1 today. Future debts need to be discounted to put them into today's dollars.
Even with discounting, however, the figures are massive. The CBO estimates the unfunded liability for Social Security at $7.2 trillion. But this is virtually nothing next to the $37.6 trillion cost of Medicare. In short, we would need to have about $45 trillion in the bank today earning interest in order to pay all the promises that have been made for future Social Security and Medicare benefits ã over and above the future taxes and premiums that will be collected to fund these programs.
To put these numbers into a form that is comprehensible, the CBO has made a calculation of the future gross domestic product that will be produced over the same time period. These are the actual resources from which Social Security and Medicare benefits will be paid. The CBO estimates that we would have to raise taxes by 6.5 percent of GDP immediately and forever to maintain these programs in perpetuity. This year alone, that would mean a tax increase of $800 billion.
This is why I believe it was utter insanity for the White House and Congress to have enacted an expansion of Medicare for prescription drugs last year. This one unconscionable action increased the long-term liability of Medicare by 1 percent of GDP forever ... - [END SNIPPET]
For those of you who know anything at all about the "dreary science," economics, what this CBO report is saying is that the Bush junta has effectively mortgaged your grandchildren up to their eyeballs.
YOU GOTTAH LOVE THE REPUBLICANS. Rather than address head-on the issue of Mr. Bush's suspicious service record in the Texas Air National Guard, they sit back and watch the issue turned into a "story" about whether the CBS News documents are forgeries or not. Sleight-of-hand at it best.
I could say a lot about this MM Story du Jour, but I'll try to restrain myself and only make a few comments.
Firstly, as noted by the Washington Post, though Bush spokesman Bartlett claimed back in February of this year that ALL relevant documents in the posession of the Pentagon had been released, more documents have continued to trickle out for months. The lastest batch as recently as last month.
Secondly, the implications of the CBS News/FreeRepublic.com tiff are far-reaching. A major news organization and its anchor have been put on the defensive by a group of Web Loggers ("Bloggers" in popular parlance.) Some of us have been on this medium long enough to remember when Matt Drudge was basically laughed off the stage at the National Press Club because "no significant news" comes from the World Wide Web ("WWW" or "Web".) In those days, those of us who evangelized for and committed to Web journalism had quite an inferiority complex. Today, you can find a news organization in any medium that does follow the pulse of what's being produced on this 24 x 7 medium. We've come a long way.
When is the last time you talked politics with your dog? dogshatebush.com
In this same regard, when one considers the major scandals that have engulfed the more staid and traditional media outlets off-line, from Steven Glass and Jason Blair to the recent mea culpa by the New York Times over its pre-Iraq War coverage, it shouldn't be at all surprising that Web journalists have become serious competitors.
Finally, and perhaps sadly, this is all bad news for Dan Rather. Dan is in his seventies now and was once a highly respected journalist. I still remember getting chills when he stood up to Richard Nixon back in the halcyon days of investigative journalism, when reporters were not encouraged or bullied to simply be infotainment tools and mouthpieces for the corporate hegemony. This controversy could prove to be a death-knell for Dan's career if the documents used were not authentic.
I, at least, am saddened by that prospect.
One last political note for you, my love. This comes from an article entitled "It's Worse Than You Think" by Scott Johnson and Babak Dehghanpisheh for the Monday September 20 issue of Newsweek magazine:For U.S. troops in Iraq, one especially sore point is the stateside public's obsession with the candidates' decades-old military service. "Stop talking about Vietnam," says one U.S. official who has spent time in the Sunni Triangle. "People should be debating this war, not that one." His point was not that America ought to walk away from Iraq. Hardly any U.S. personnel would call that a sane suggestion. But there's widespread agreement that Washington needs to rethink its objectives, and quickly. "We're dealing with a population that hovers between bare tolerance and outright hostility," says a senior U.S. diplomat in Baghdad. "This idea of a functioning democracy here is crazy. We thought that there would be a reprieve after sovereignty, but all hell is breaking loose."
It's not only that U.S. casualty figures keep climbing. American counterinsurgency experts are noticing some disturbing trends in those statistics. The Defense Department counted 87 attacks per day on U.S. forces in August - the worst monthly average since Bush's flight-suited visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003. Preliminary analysis of the July and August numbers also suggests that U.S. troops are being attacked across a wider area of Iraq than ever before. And the number of gunshot casualties apparently took a huge jump in August. Until then, explosive devices and shrapnel were the primary cause of combat injuries, typical of a "phase two" insurgency, where sudden ambushes are the rule. (Phase one is the recruitment phase, with most actions confined to sabotage. That's how things started in Iraq.) Bullet wounds would mean the insurgents are standing and fighting - a step up to phase three. ...
Welcomed Blessings10 September, 2004: It's going to be a pleasant weekend. That's a nice change in Life of Rod. Thanks (and a tip of the hat) to my old and dea r friend, Terry ("Van Helsing") Terrian. He sent me a surprise e-mail telling me to trot down to the local Western Union agent where an infusion of largent was awaiting our favorite starving writer.
After making the pick-up, I immediately went out to local 99 Cents Store and started plugging holes in the situation. I went for all kinds of staples: pasta, rice, beans, tuna, bread, rice-based milk, butter, eggs, juice -- you know the drill. I decided it was a good time to solve the utensil problem at Casa Doug. So I bought a set. I wanted to get a pot, as well, but the 99 Cents Store doesn't carry them. I'll have to wait until I get another ride out into WestWorld to score that one. Then I can go back to making my one-dish meals that last for days. (Sigh.)
Because somebody out there in this real America has some sense of the economy most of us live in, there are 99 Cent Stores all over the place. This is a good thing. I got twice the amount of staples and canned goods there that I would have bought for the same money in New Orleans. It strikes me as odd, now that I consider it, that Scottsdale -- which has a decidedly upscale demographic -- should have 99 Cents Stores every few miles, while New Orleans -- with an economy rivaling that of Haiti, has hardly any at all.
ANOTHER OBSERVATION: The few 99 Cents Stores (or their equivalents) which I did see in New Orleans had that run-down ambience you would expect from a St. Vincent de Paul Thrift shop or a Goodwill outlet. The stores here are as bright, airy, clean and well-stocked as you'd imagine a Safeway or Winn-Dixie.
I know some of my compatriots in New Orleans would argue that it all has to do with the people who staff the stores in the respective cities but I'm not so sure ...
I sent Terry back a "God Bless You!" e-mail and hope to telephone him this weekend when the rates are low. His message came shortly after I'd returned from a promising job interview in downtown Phoenix. If the gods and goddesses are smiling this season, I might actually land a Day Job that I can like, making decent money -- that's why I moved to greater Phoenix, isn't it?
ABOUT THE ECONOMY OF PHOENIX: I must begin by correcting the myth of my friends in Louisiana: it really is not that cheap to live in New Orleans. The food prices there are outrageous and the produce isn't that fresh. Besides, if it wasn't for tourism (the service industry) the place wouldn't have an economy to speak of at all.
Phoenix, on the other hand, despite the onerous taxation situation (as it's been described to me by the locals,) has great food prices, fresh produce from California, and comparable pricing in the (rental) housing market. In fact, there's a glut in rental units in this area. It's such a glut that this is the first city I've lived in for decades where there are ubiquitous offers for months of free rent on signing the lease OR move-in "bonuses". I've seen places advertising move-in for as little as $99 (USD). I was floored.
Further, an analysis of the economic situation here produces a quite rosy picture. While the rest of the United States has fallen into a recession during the Bush II era, Phoenix has come out relatively unscathed. Housing starts are up -- always a good economic indicator -- and most of the office parks are full. There's a thriving technology sector here, there's a bustling legal and financial community, there's a robust printing industry and even commercial real estate is going up at a clip. On top of that base, Phoenix has a reliable tourist industry. There's a regular community of so-called "Snow Birds" who come to the area to get away from the more-frigid climes in which they live.
That's my report after being here only two weeks (as of last evening.) I certainly haven't scratched the surface of the depth and breadth of what makes this economy tick so well.
THE "FREE" WEEKENDSINCE TERRY HAS PROVIDED me with a weekend free of my usual worries -- and Doug and Jaimie are going out of town -- I plan to use this weekend to finally complete the annual re-design of the magazine. As mentioned before, that normally takes place in August. As I spent most of August flying back and forth between here and New Orleans, planning my escape from that latter northern Haiti and trying to keep body and soul as together as possible under the circumstances, I delayed implementing many of the ideas I had in mind until now.
I hope you'll approve of the new cover layout and masthead, my little loves. Your feedback is certainly welcomed. I've completed most of the initial work on the modules of the new cover page today. I've tried to make the navigational scheme a bit easy on new-comers and the adventurous. I've also decided to try to make the advertising and tracking presentations a bit less intrusive and distracting. My long-running personal debate about whether or not to provide snippets of the lead features remains unresolved.
Over the weekend, I plan to play around with a re-vamp of the internal pages and the Table of Contents (TOC). I have yet to determine if the TOC is visited so infrequently because it is redundant or because I don't provide effective links to it. I'm hoping that this latest design will provide some insights to that question.
Who knows? With a long stretch of quiet time, I might get around to working on the second "Glass House" book, too, when not trawling for jobs.
ROD ON WRITING"There are three points of view from which a writer can be considered: he may be considered as a story teller, as a teacher, and as an enchanter. A major writer combines these three - storyteller, teacher, enchanter - but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him a major writer." -- Vladimir Nabokov
10 September, 2004: HALF THE WORK OF WRITING is just to shut up and listen to other people.
Sooner or later, if you hold your silence long enough, people end up in your confession booth. I wrote about the confession booth when I first moved to New Orleans, deep in my role as the Literary Priest.
Moving here, I have determined that I carry the confession booth with me. It might as well be lashed to my back.
Drama is everywhere it seems.
Tonight, being wafted away from my solitude by Doug and Jaimie, who insisted I must see part of the central Phoenix nightlife at a coffee shop called Coffee Plantation -- (Lord, I hate anything with the word plantation attached to it!) -- I got to hear about the local drama as it exists in Phoenix, vis-a-vis Doug's life.
The incidents in question occurred between my first visit to Phoenix and my return, a period of less than a month. Like all drama, all the silly and sad stories I hear in the confession booth, it was fueled by melodrama and adrenalin.
It was what my British relatives would call scandalous.
To me, it was just another example of the folly of humanity and how people fill their time with emotional turmoil for lack of some significant achievement in their lives.
The door to my confession booth will always be open, I suspect. As long as I attempt to keep quiet, there will always be people who need to provide some noise.
13 September, 2004: For those more inured to my reports from around the blaring world of cyberspace, this lengthy entry should be satisfying. There is very little "navel-gazing" -- as one wag dubbed it -- at all.
For those who come here for my own confessions, I suppose you'll have to wait until next time, shan't you?
I am happy to report that I have been offered a new Day Job in downtown Phoenix. It is scheduled to start next week. So I'm still looking for work; a better opportunity might be under the next bush.
As I suspected, all of the factors which made finding suitable employment in New Orleans difficult to come by, are meaningless here. It is the skill-set that matters in America. I don't get the same semi-shoc ked look, when I enter the office, from interviewers who were impressed by my CV here in Arizona that was almost invariable in Louisiana. My existence is not such a threat to the preordained social order.
I SHOULD BE HAPPY. For the first time in months:
Okay, I don't have pocket money; that would be nice. I'd only spend it on food, cigarettes and the chance to get to know the greater Phoenix transit system -- and a six-pack of beer, if there was enough left over. I have two of the four.
- There is food in the cupboards and the refrigerator that is readily accessible
- I have cigarettes and
- I have already landed a job and have a full week before it begins in which to work on my other projects.
- The appliances actually work and I don't have to ascend dangerous, rickety stairs that scare my friends.
Is "happy" the right word? Maybe not. But I'm not desperately worried. So "relaxed" is the operative word right now. I haven't actually felt relaxed in a very long time. I have been sleeping at night again. I have been enjoying most of my dreams. I continue to try to visualize my ideal apartment.
With luck, I can begin to repay some of personal debts in a month or so.
Ivan the TerribleI have been very distressed with the news out of Florida this month and making it a point to keep in touch with friends there. My friend, and MEMOIRS OF THE INFORMATION AGE columnist, DC STULTZ and I have been sharing almost daily e-mails. We've "talked" through hurricanes Charley and Frances. When Ivan started to brew, we were both concerned. There is already gas-rationing in Florida -- at the stations that even have gasoline -- and millions of people went without privacy, shelter or electricity. DC was lucky. He even took in friends and relatives who lived closer to Frances' path when that storm headed through the Florida panhandle.
I was relieved to see that hurricane Ivan might be changing its course. I don't think Florida can handle a third hurricane hit right now. To my distress, the latest prognostication is that the storm might hit New Orleans, instead. I hope not. If it continues with its present fury, New Orleans would be toast. It would take months for that town to recover from even a Level Three hurricane and the last I read Ivan was a Level Five.
Let us hope that the Gulf waters take some of the fury out of this bad boy's energy.
14 September, 2004: My communications from people in the Hurricane Zone have dominated most of my e-mail over the past 24 hours. I'll conclude by sharing a bit of it with you.
I got this from my buddy Matt, before he high-tailed it to Memphis this morning:So, I see you have a job, eh? That's what I like to call a Good Thing ...I sent back this reply, which I shared with a couple of other friends in the Hurricane Zone, including DC, of course: "This just says to me, 'What the hell would I have done if I had decided to try to stay in New Orleans?
The situation as it stands, is: [New Orleans Mayor] Ray Nagin came on TV at 6 pm and said that while although the current forecast for the hurricane calls for it to move to the east of here, in his NSHO [Not So Humble Opinion], he is not confident that it will. He said "the circumstances will have to be near perfect" for the storm to stay well away from us. Even if we don't get totally slammed, we will probably at least get some pretty fucking strong winds, lots of rain, etc. So he called for a "voluntary evacuation" i.e. "if you have the wherewithal to get the fuck outta town, I suggest you go. If not, well, stock up on batteries and candles, and batten down the fucking hatches." They are supposed to do another update at 10 PM. We are planning on checking that out and seeing if things look any better. If not, then we're gonna finish packing and take one last look around 5 am. If it still looks dicey at 5 AM, Graceland here we come!
'Thank you, O Great Spirit, for letting your servant know when it was time to giddy-up and go!'
"Say Hello to the King for me.
I'll end on a humorous note, thanks to Robin "Roblimo" Miller, my former editor during the Andover News days, a G21 alumnus and a regular at Slashdot and News Forge. He told me that, if I had stayed in NOLA, I probably wouldn't have needed to worry. Then he made this comment about the MM:... Another media distortion: you saw all the destroyed mobile homes and buildings with roofs blown off in Port Charlotte, FL, after h. Charley, but saw no images of the vast majority of buildings (and mobile homes) there that were either undamaged or only had minor damage and were easily repaired. I know a number of people who live in Charlotte County, including some who live in mobile homes, and came through just fine. There is no drama in a shot of an old lady who steps calmly out of her undamaged trailer after a major storm, says, "There sure are a lot of palm fronds blown down around here," and goes about her business. You never see this woman on TV. It would be like a report from a downtown corner with a standup breathlessly saying into the camera, "Tonight, for the 10,000th night in a row, there was no crime here. Citizens expressed no shock and no alarm. A blue Ford Taurus spotted cruising ominously at low speed turned out to be driven by Latoya French of Haverstadt, Michigan, who was looking for her Aunt Patricia's house and was having trouble making out the address numbers in the dark. Patrolman Al Anglosax spotted her, learned that she was lost, and helped her find the right house. Latoya thanked him, and Al gave him his card and broadly hinted that if she called him he'd offer to take her out to supper. Newly-divorced Latoya told us she thought Al was 'cute' and said, 'I'll call him tomorrow for sure.' Now back to Bill and Sandy in the studio."
Thanks for coming back this week.
THINGS I NEED THIS WEEK1. Cash flow.
2. A renewed focus on the books.
3. A reliable social network. (That may take a few weeks.)
"Work like you don't need the money,
"Love like you've never been hurt,
"Dance like no one is watching ... "
Rod was a columnist for the Andover News Network, where he wrote over two hundred articles on web design and development issues. He was also principal writer and Editor for IT Manager's Journal, where he reviewed technology issues weekly, producing 383 editorials. He became the Managing Editor for Electronic Mail/Newsletter Publications at Andover.net at the end of February, 2000, and left in September of the same year. He was a contributing writer for ACCESS magazine, which appeared both on- and offline for 10 million readers in 100 newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Post, Boston Herald, Austin American-Statesman, Denver Post and Orlando Sentinel, among others. Rod was the US reporter for Silicon.com, a division of Network Multimedia Television in London, UK, reaching 3.5 million European readers, until May, 2001.
In 2002, he worked as Assistant to the General Manager of a Big Easy company that does restaurants and nightclubs. He did stints as the Resident Philosopher at three separate gin mills in that city in the French Quarter and the Marigny, earning his stripes during two successive Mardi Gras seasons. Oh yeah, Rod's had Day Jobs working construction. Mostly renovations of old New Orleans structures, houses and a bar. Sometimes he designs Web sites for other people so that he can get his creative juices flowing the way he can't at a staid publication like this one. And he's been the instructor in Editing for Internet Publications at the Novi Sad School of Journalism in Yugoslavia. Our Resident Philosopher is now looking for creative ways of re-inventing himself in the Valley of the Sun. In his spare time, he chases women in the manner that a fly pursues a spider.
Rod plans publication of the first Glass House book before the end of the year and is already working on the second, sequel, manuscript.
He continues to be committed to integrity,
chastity and a dose of humility.
| HOME | THE PREVIOUS GLASS HOUSE | THE NEXT GLASS HOUSE |
CREDITS || AWARDS || SEARCH ENGINES || LINKS ||
VOX POPULI is YOUR PAGE to talk back to us. I'm glad you're not bashful. Keep those cards and e-mails comin', Kids!
© 2004, GENERATOR 21.E-mail your comments. We always like to hear from you. Send your kudos, brickbats and suggestions to email@example.com.