December 10, 2011

Beauty, No Beauty

Sign seen at the Beauty Bar 
on 14th Street in NYC

Ther is no Beuty
No Uglines
Just Existence
Graffiti seen on Jackson Ave.
in Long Island City, NY

Photographs courtesy Pak So & Anna Tan

December 7, 2011

President Barack Obama's Speech In Osawatomie, Kansas (December 6, 2011)

YouTube videos of President Barack Obama's 
New Nationalism Speech in Osawatomie, 
Kansas on December 6, 2011.  
Part 1 of 2
Videos posted by KansasWatchdogTV.

Part 2 of 2
Videos courtesy KansasWatchdogTV

December 4, 2011

A New Generation Of Tailors, A New Generation Of Emperors

on the Bowery in New York City

Blake Gopnik writes in a December 3, 2011 article titled Why Is Art So Damned Expensive for Newsweek:

The uselessness of art makes any spending on it especially potent: buying a yacht is a tiny bit like buying a rowboat, and so retains a taint of practicality, but buying a great Picasso is like no other spending. Olav Velthuis, a Dutch sociologist who wrote Talking Prices, the best study of what art spending means, compares the top of the art market to the potlatches performed by the American Indians of the Pacific Northwest, where the goal was to ostentatiously give away, even destroy, as much of your wealth as possible - to show that you could. In the art-market equivalent, he says, prices keep mounting as collectors compete for this "super-status effect."

. . . . . . . . 

As money stacks up in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), their oligarchs are buying into the wealthy Western mainstream by forking out for its art, the way their poorer compatriots are buying into skinny jeans and Lady Gaga.

. . . . . . . . 

Top art collectors aren't shoppers like anyone else. If they spend right, they can purchase the status of cultural patron. No one looks up to you for buying a fleet of Bentleys, but own a flock of Richard Serras, and you become a supporter of culture. Turning the filthy lucre of commerce into the "cultural money" that's used to purchase art is one way to launder it, explains the Princeton sociologist Zelizer.

November 26, 2011

In Devastation There Is Opportunity

YouTube video posted by PRostoZDywanu

Interview with Carlton Brown, Commodities Trader, excerpted from the 2003 documentary The Corporation, a film by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan.

Carlton Brown: I've got to be honest with you. When the September 11th situation happened, I didn't know that, and I must say, and I wanna say this because I don't want to take it lightly. It's not a light situation. It was a devastating act. It was really a bad thing. It was one of the worst things I've seen in my lifetime, you know. But I will tell you and every trader will tell you, who was not in that building and who was buying gold and who owned gold and silver, that when it happened, the first thing you thought about was, "well, how much is gold up?" The first thing that came to mind was, "my God, gold must be exploding". Fortunately, for us, all our clients were in gold. So when it went up they all doubled their money. Everybody doubled their money. It was a blessing in disguise. Devastating, crushing, heart shattering, but on the financial sense, for my clients that were in the market, they all made money. 

Now, I wasn't looking for this type of help, but it happened. When the U.S. bombed Iraq back in 1991 the price of oil went from $13 to $40 a barrel, for Christ's sake! Now, we couldn't wait for the bombs to start raining down on Saddam Hussein. We were all excited. We wanted Saddam to really create problems. "Do whatever you have to do, set fire to some more oil wells, because the price is going to go higher." Every broker was chanting that. There was not a broker that I know of that wasn't excited about that. This was a disaster. This was something that was, you know, catastrophe happening. Bombing. Wars. In devastation there is opportunity.

Stop Consuming Junk. Stop Producing Junk.

Stop Consuming, Start Producing sign
Photograph courtesy Anna Tan and Pak So 

In a November 26, 2011 article titled Violence mars Black Friday shopping, the Associated Press reported:

Black Friday's typical jostling and jockeying took a more ominous turn during this year's bargain-hunting ritual with a shooting, a pepper spraying and other episodes of violence that left several people injured.

In the most serious case, a robber shot a shopper who refused to give up his purchases outside a San Leandro, Calif., Walmart store, leaving the victim hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

. . . . . . . . 

At another Walmart in a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles, a woman trying to get the upper hand to buy cheap electronics unleashed pepper spray on a crowd of shoppers, causing minor injuries to 20 people, police said.

. . . . . . . . 

Meanwhile, police in suburban Phoenix came under fire when a video was posted online showing a 54-year-old grandfather on the floor of a Walmart store with a bloody face, after police said he was subdued Thursday night trying to shoplift during a chaotic rush for discounted video games.

The video, posted on YouTube, shows Jerald Allen Newman unconscious and bloodied as outraged customers yell expletives and say "that's police brutality" and "he wasn't doing anything."

In a police report that redacted the names of officers and witnesses, Newman's wife and other witnesses said he was just trying to help his grandson after the boy was trampled by shoppers, and only put a video game in his waistband to free his hands to help the boy.

November 24, 2011

Live Like A Pirate, Die Like A Pirate

Execution of the Namoa pirates which 
took place on the 11th May 1891 at 
Image courtesy New York Public 

In the November 21, 2011 edition of the New York Times, Kevin Roose writes in the article A Blow to Pinstripe Aspirations:

Being young on Wall Street once meant having it all: style, smarts and too much money to spend wisely. Now, twenty-somethings in the finance industry are losing both cash and cachet.

Three years after the global financial crisis nearly brought Wall Street firms to the brink, the nation's largest banks are again struggling. As profits wane, layoffs have claimed thousands of jobs and those still employed have watched their compensation shrink. These problems are set against the morale-crushing backdrop of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has made a villain of a once-lionized industry.

Much of the burden of Wall Street's latest retrenchment has fallen on young financiers. The number of investment bank and brokerage firm employees between the ages 20 and 34 fell by 23 percent from the third quarter of 2008 to the same period of 2011, a loss of 110,000 jobs from layoffs, attrition and voluntary departures.

... experts say that today's doldrums, unlike previous downturns, are here to stay.

"A lot of the positions that are being cut right now aren't coming back," said Leslie K. Hild, a vice president with the recruiting firm Right Management. "It's an emotional roller coaster for almost everyone."

. . . . . . . . 

In the Readers' Comments to the article, Dan from Madrid writes simply:

Live like a pirate, die like a pirate.

November 21, 2011

Our Sons And Daughters, Our Brothers And Sisters

YouTube video posted by asucd 
showing University of California, Davis 
(UC Davis) student protesters being hit 
with pepper spray by campus police
on November 18, 2011

Law enforcement goons and those who should know better (including UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi) continue to unquestioningly protect the moneyed and the status quo. Change is coming you tools.

November 16, 2011

Dear Mr. Bloomberg: 99 Is Greater Than 1

99% is greater than 1%
90% is greater than 10%
80% is greater than 20%
70% is greater than 30%
60% is greater than 40%
51% is greater than 49%
 100% is 100%

The jig is up. You can't imprison or wall out ideas. You can't imprison or wall out all of the people. It's time to get the dirty money out of politics, our government, the media and the Supreme Court and start caring about 100% of the people. 

Video from the November 15, 2011 edition 
of The Rachel Maddow Show on

> Follow this link to the We Are The 99 Percent website.

November 6, 2011

We Have Not Missed, You And I. We Have Not Missed That Many-Splendored Thing.

Conclusion of the 1955 Hong Kong-based 
film Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing 

Everybody's A Star

Anonymous, LA, 2009
Photograph by Katy Grannan

In the exhibition catalogue for Katy Grannan Boulevard, published 2011 by Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco and Salon 94, New York, the artist writes:

The sun will show you. Ruthless and indiscriminate, it reveals these ghosts, people left with nothing but aspiration and delusion. They thought it would be different here but reality is crueler and far lovelier.

The catalogue ends with an excerpt from The Kinks Celluloid Heroes:

Everybody's a dreamer and everybody's a star
And everybody's in show biz, it doesn't matter who you are
And those who are successful
Be always on your guard
Success walks hand in hand with failure
Along Hollywood Boulevard

I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die

October 31, 2011

Stop Thinking Like Dinosaurs

Film frames from the 2009 documentary 

Excerpt from an interview with Michael C. Ruppert in the movie Collapse, 2009:

"Let's suppose for the sake of discussion that there's 600 billion barrels in the Arctic. First of all, it happens to be under the polar ice cap. That's a problem. ... That's why a lot of conservative think tanks and oil companies are cheering the melting of the polar ice caps."

On October 23, 2011, Joel E. Cohen wrote in an Op-Ed titled Seven Billion for the New York Times:

"One week from today, the United Nations estimates, the world's population will reach seven billion. Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date - the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March - but there can be no doubt that humanity is approaching a milestone.

The first billion people accumulated over a leisurely interval, from the origins of humans hundreds of thousands of years ago to the early 1800s. Adding the second took another 120 or so years. Then, in the last 50 years, humanity more than doubled, surging from three billion in 1959 to four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987 and six billion in 1998. This rate of population increase has no historical precedent.

Can the earth support seven billion now, and the three billion people who are expected to be added by the end of this century? Are the enormous increases in households, cities, material consumption and waste compatible with dignity, health, environmental quality and freedom from poverty?"

On October 31, 2011, Seth Borenstein wrote in an Associated Press article titled Skeptic finds he now agrees global warming is real:

"A prominent physicist and skeptic of global warming spent two years trying to find out if mainstream climate scientists were wrong. In the end, he determined they were right: Temperatures really are rising rapidly.

The study of the world's surface temperatures by Richard Muller was partially bankrolled by a foundation connected to global warming deniers. ..."

"One-quarter of the $600,000 to do the research came from the Charles Koch Foundation, whose founder is a major funder of skeptic groups and the tea party. The Koch brothers, Charles and David, run a large privately held company involved in oil and other industries, producing sizable greenhouse gas emissions."

Hmm, what gives with this sanctioned carrot from the Koch Foundation? Are our industrialists and politicians setting the stage to 1) finally confirm to the citizens of the world that things might possibly be really, really, really FUBAR and 2) sell us on their magic cure-all to the planet's energy supply issues and environmental nightmares?

To quote Michael C. Ruppert - "this is some serious fucking shit."

October 27, 2011

Theirs Not To Do And Die, Theirs But To Reason Why

YouTube video posted by AssociatedPress showing 
riot police in Oakland, CA confronting Occupy 
Oakland (in support of Occupy Wall Street) 
demonstrators on the evening of October 25, 2011

In 1854, the poet Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote The Charge of the Light Brigade to praise a cavalry's unquestioning suicidal charge into "glory" during the Crimean War. Most readers remember the lines "Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die." When analyzing the power structures of life however, I personally prefer to flip the lines to read instead "Theirs not to do and die, Theirs but to reason why."  

If only everyone would learn to question more. 

. . . . . . . .

The Charge of the Light Brigade 
by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

October 19, 2011

A Return To Legality

Daily Ticker interview on Yahoo with Jeffrey D. Sachs, 
author of The Price of Civilization

October 17, 2011

Wherever There's A Fight

Scene from The Grapes of Wrath, 1940 
starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad 
and Jane Darwell as Ma Joad.
YouTube video posted by garfrain

Excerpt from Paul Krugman's Op-Ed piece titled Losing Their Immunity from the October 16, 2011 edition of the New York Times:

"You see, until a few weeks ago it seemed as if Wall Street had effectively bribed and bullied our political system into forgetting about that whole drawing lavish paychecks while destroying the world economy thing. Then, all of a sudden, some people insisted on bringing the subject up again.

And their outrage has found resonance with millions of Americans. No wonder Wall Street is whining."

. . . . . . . . 

From the Reader's Recommendations of comments to Mr. Krugman's writing, a Mr. Paul Schmidt writes:

"When events of the magnitude of the great Recession come along, there’s always a familiar arc.

Act I is always The Bailout Phase. In this phase the Masters of the Universe call in their chips with their bought and paid for politicians and the public fronts up the money.

Act II is the We Got Away with IT phase. This phases always lasts 2-3 years. In this phase history is re-written, the politicians declare it was all a mistake and the Masters of the Universe make sure no form of control is successfully implemented.

Then comes Act III. Act III always lags Acts I & II by two to three years. This act always surprises both the politicians and the bankers, as 2 to 3 years later in both professions is a life time. What they don’t understand is that Acts I & II are only possible because the public still has faith in its institutions – they believe justice will be done.. eventually. When its clear that it won’t, 2-3 years later - then the people mobilise, usually lead (of course), by the young and silly.

So now Act III begins. Expect to see police brutality, prosecution of a few small fish (and lots of protesters of course), while the Masters flail around impotently and their political employees up the propaganda and try to portray Act III as something that its not, an attack on democracy or whatever.

The fina is always Act IV or The Great Dawning. Here politicians suddenly realise that Act III isn’t going to go away and that unless they abandon the Masters they’ll lose their jobs as well. Act IV is characterized by politicians furiously swapping sides as fast they can re-write history and we suddenly discover they were all secretly on the public’s side all the time.

Under Act IV the political classes at last act like adults, regulations are passed, laws are enforced and the public see justice at last (until the lessons of the past are unlearned yet again, say in another 50 years).

So roll on Act III, or as we sometimes call it, 1937 Yet Again."

October 14, 2011

A New Day And A New Way Of Thinking

Excerpt from The Pastures of Heaven by John Steinbeck, first published in 1932 by Brewer, Warren & Putnam:

Mrs. Munroe turned helplessly to the teacher. "What's wrong with him anyway?"

"I think he was embarrassed," said Miss Morgan.

"But why should he be? We were nice to him."

The teacher tried to explain, and became a little angry with them in trying. "I think, you see - why, I don't think he ever knew he was poor until a moment ago."

YouTube video of the Occupy Wall Street 
commercial posted by dsauvage

> Follow this link to the We Are The 99 Percent website.

September 30, 2011

It's All In The Numbers

"It Is Yours & I am Yours."
Writings seen at a newsstand on
54th Street and Third Avenue in NYC

YouTube video posted by The SecretStore

Michael Moore interviewed about the Occupy Wall Street protest on the September 28, 2011 edition of MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.

September 26, 2011

Do Not Follow The World

Inspiration Point sign
seen on hiking trail at Jenny Lake,

Excerpt from The Unfettered Mind by Takuan Soho:

If you follow the present day world, you will turn your back on the Way; if you would not turn your back on the Way, do not follow the world.

August 29, 2011


The Government And The Banks
Are Trying To Scare You.
Sign seen at the Judson Memorial Church
on Washington Square South in NYC.

Excerpt from Can the Middle Class Be Saved by Don Peck, published in the September 2011 issue of the Atlantic:

In October 2005, three Citigroup analysts released a report describing the pattern of growth in the U.S. economy. To really understand the future of the economy and the stock market, they wrote, you first needed to recognize that there was "no such animal as the U.S. consumer," and that concepts such as "average" consumer debt and "average" consumer spending were highly misleading.

In fact, they said, America was comprised of two distinct groups: the rich and the rest. And for the purposes of investment decisions, the second group didn't matter; tracking its spending habits or worrying over its savings rate was a waste of time. All the action in the American economy was at the top: the richest 1 percent of households earned as much each year as the bottom 60 percent put together; they possessed as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent; and with each passing year, a greater share of the nation's treasure was flowing through their hands and into their pockets. It was this segment of the population, almost exclusively, that held the key to future growth and future returns. The analysts, Ajay Kapur, Niall Macleod, and Narendra Singh, had coined a term for this state of affairs: plutonomy.

In a plutonomy, Kapur and his co-authors wrote, "economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few." ...

August 13, 2011

You Must Think For Yourself, What You Must Do.

YouTube video posted by TPMtv

As per the editorial Magical Unrealism, published August 12, 2011 in the New York Times, when Bret Baier (debate moderator from Fox) asked the eight gathered Republican presidential candidates in Ames, Iowa "if they would reject a deal to cut the deficit that had 10 times the amount of spending cuts as it had tax increases, the hands of all eight candidates went up."  

There is no shame anymore. The sole purpose of the modern day G.O.P. is to push the goals and agenda of the super-rich, and to ultimately keep those people in positions of power over you and your family.

. . . . . . . . 

Excerpt from The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, first published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1989:

"What's the point?" I say. "There's no hope. There's no reason to keep trying."

"Because you must," she says. "This is not hope. Not reason. This is your fate. This is your life, what you must do."

"So what can I do?"

And my mother says, "You must think for yourself, what you must do. If someone tells you, then you are not trying." ...

August 10, 2011

Your Congress Is Bought

Seen on a subway platform 
in New York City

YouTube video posted by FixedNewsChannel

Here's a clip from the August 9, 2011 episode of MSNBC's The Dylan Ratigan Show that's making the rounds on the internet.  

Dylan Ratigan (Host): It is about one guy. I would like him to go to the people of the United States of America and say "People of the United States of America, your Congress is bought, your Congress is incapable of making legislation on healthcare, banking, trade or taxes because if they do it, they will lose their political funding ... and they won't do it. But I'm the President of the United States, and I won't have a country that's run by a bought Congress, so I'm not gonna work with a bought Congress ..."

Jimmy Williams (MSNBC contributor): Money in politics is the root of all political evil.  It is corruption at its worst ...

July 24, 2011

Those Who Seek The Credit

Excerpt from Wall Street: Financial Capital by Robert Gambee, published by W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1999:

The new Morgan building is seen from the library of Davis Polk, its counsel of many years. One of Morgan's partners was Dwight Morrow - a lawyer and banker, father of a writer and father-in-law of a famous aviator. In 1933 he wrote to his son, who was graduating from Amherst and about to enter law school,

"The world is basically divided into two camps - those who do the work and those who seek the credit. Try as best as you can to align yourself with the first group because there is a lot less competition."

July 16, 2011

Just When You Think You Learned How To Use It ... It's Gone

Hello (Turn Your Radio On)  by Shakespear's Sister
from the 1992 album Hormonally Yours 
YouTube video posted by Birgitbramkamp

Hello, hello turn your radio on
Is there anybody out there?
Help me sing my song
La la la life is a strange thing
Just when you think you learned how to use it
It's gone

July 9, 2011

Make Your Own Chances For Advancement

Retroactive I, 1964 
by Robert Rauschenberg
Oil and silkscreen ink on canvas

Excerpt from Rauschenberg by Barbara Rose, published by Vintage Books, New York, 1987:

"I know many good artists who can't get a gallery now.

I'm glad. I'm glad somebody is rejected. How can you build any strength if it's easy to be exhibited?"

. . . . . . . . 

For several years now, the New York Times has published a series of informative articles on for-profit schools and the realities of student loan debt. 

> Follow this link to the article 'Top Chef' Dreams Crushed by Student Loan Debt written by Kim Severson for the May 8, 2007 edition of the NY Times.

> Follow this link to the article In Hard Times, Lured Into Trade School and Debt written by Peter S. Goodman for the March 13, 2010 edition of the NY Times.

> Follow this link to the article Is Law School a Losing Game? written by David Segal for the January 8, 2011 edition of the NY Times.

. . . . . . . . 

> Finally, follow this link to the article For Film Graduates, an Altered Job Picture written by Michael Cieply for the July 4, 2011 edition of the NY Times. From the Readers' Recommendations of comments and responses to the article, Anne Nonymous of Dallas writes the following:

"I didn't go to film school. I went to art school to study design. Very early on, we were told by teachers that only one in ten of us would actually make a living at our career. Of course, everybody thinks that they are the exception. I work in advertising now and I can't think of a more competitive place than the creative department of a reputable ad agency. And yes, looking back, only one person that I went to school (with) makes a living at this besides me. Everybody else just disappeared or got a job doing something else.

I work with a lot of people in the film industry (because of the TV commercial part of the business) and it's really not very different than for any other creative field. Be it design, art, film, writing, dance, music. It's all the same. The chances are slim and only people who are either very lucky, driven, or exceptionally talented (and often it takes all three) make it. When I say "make it" it doesn't mean "strike it rich". It means "make a living at it". This is something everybody should really consider before choosing a career. The arts are a lot more competitive than any other "real" profession, precisely because they're the sort of thing that looks easy, and quite frankly have very little demand in the workplace. There are a lot of dues to pay that if you're not willing to pay, there's thousands of others who will be glad to. Pay is usually terrible at first, hours are long, and you have to make your own chances for advancement. They won't come knocking. Nobody is going to "discover" you. It takes a lot of work to get work. You have to stand above all these other people who also have talent and who think they're exceptional.

You can go to a fancy school or not. That's not really important, because at the end, you make your own education. Don't count on your classes or your teachers to do it. And once you're out of school, you continue to make your own education, and the day you stop, you get eaten by someone else.

Welcome to the real world."

June 30, 2011

There's Nothing Left To Lose

Graffiti seen on doorway 
near Gramercy Park in NYC
Photograph courtesy Pak So 

... and The People have spoken. 

On June 27, 2011, Roger Cohen wrote an Op-Ed article titled America, Awaken  for The New York Times. From the Readers' Recommendations of comments and responses to the article, Winning Progressive of Chicago, IL writes the following:

"I agree that it is ridiculous that our country has neither a comprehensive energy policy nor an industrial policy. But to lay these failures at the feet of President Obama while ignoring the real culprits - the Republicans - is inaccurate and unfair.

In the closing months of the Bush Administration, our nation lost nearly 3.6 million jobs. And from the day that President Obama took office, the GOP has launched a war on jobs designed to ensure that the economy did not recover. This war included watering down the stimulus bill and removing aid to state and local governments, filibustering small business lending fund and tax cuts for more than nine months, eliminating 250,000 jobs by filibustering renewal of the TANF Emergency Fund that the GOP had previously supported, filibustering 20 nominees to the Treasury Department and three to the Federal Reserve (including a winner of the Nobel Prize in economics), holding unemployment benefits hostage to further tax cuts for the wealthy, and opposing a recent proposal to provide a payroll tax cut that the GOP had previously supported. These actions were motivated by a desire to ensure that President Obama is not re-elected in 2012, which Mitch McConnell has noted is the GOP's number one priority.

So, yes, let's bemoan the economic problems facing our nation, but in doing so let's focus our anger on the Republicans who are responsible for causing and continuing those problems, not on the Democrats who are trying to fix them."

. . . . . . 

On June 30, 2011, Sarah Lyall wrote an article titled Public Workers Strike in Britain Over Pensions  for The New York Times. From the Readers' Recommendations of comments and responses to the article, KT of NYC writes the following:

"My family has belonged to unions, including public service unions, for fifty years. That is why, although many earned only average salaries, all the seniors in our family lived safe, healthy retirements. My uncle, a member of the longshoreman's union - he was an office worker - is now 92 years old and still lives independently. His union pension and veterans' benefits (he is a member of "the greatest generation"), along with Medicare, have enabled him to stay healthy. No way that he could have supported and educated a family -- three kids, now employed, good citizens -- on his longshoreman's salary.

The Republicans want to destroy all of this. The British unions have the right idea: fight now, and fight until the other side agrees to be fair and reasonable. I'd bet that the real issue is not raising the retirement age, since we all agree that people are now living longer that they did 50 years ago (in part, I believe, because of adequate pensions and medical care); or even small, reasonable increases in worker pension contributions. The issues are exactly the same as in the United States: fewer benefits for fewer people. Paying more for less is what the corporations and governments are offering. Sharing the burden of keeping us all healthy and safe is not part of their credo.

Unless American workers start to fight back, and American voters realize that, regardless of all the "Christian", "family values" and "individual rights" spiels, the Republicans are not friends of the middle class, we will wake up one day, as did the public service workers in Wisconsin, and find out that the financial rug has been pulled out from under us. The British workers have figured out that "united we stand, divided we fall". Will we learn the same lesson, or find out, too late, that our fates will be far worse than that of our parents' generation; and that the fault for that outcome lies, not in the stars or machinations of a few Wall Street moguls, but in ourselves."

You Can Only Breed Mediocrity

Wake Up America!, 1917
by James Montgomery Flagg
Propaganda poster from the collection 

From a 1938 letter written to the New York Herald Tribune by James Montgomery Flagg:

"There are no art teachers. Art cannot be taught. Artists are born that way. They educate themselves, or else they do not become educated .... I happen to have been born an artist. Ask anyone who doesn't know. I wasted six years of my young life in art schools. As far as any benefit accruing to me from them - I was working on the outside all the time, anyway. Nothing but total disability or death could have stopped me. I had to be an artist - I was born that way .... You can't breed an artist. You can only breed mediocrity."

June 14, 2011

Cause life is sweet ... and life is also very short

Life Is Sweet as performed by 
Natalie Merchant on VH1 Storytellers
YouTube video posted by NatalieMerchantVideo

Excerpt from the lyrics for Life Is Sweet by Natalie Merchant (from the album Ophelia released by Elektra Records, 1998):

But don't cry
know the tears'll do no good
so dry your eyes

They told you life is hard
it's misery from the start
it's dull and slow and painful

I tell you life is sweet
in spite of the misery
there's so much more 
be grateful

> Follow this link to the musician's website to stay in touch about her latest news and upcoming shows.