I’ll Be Your Condiment

Hot Dog Valentine

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Hey, we all want to support the police. It’s a tough job, but this is beyond the pale…

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Brian & Me

Brian907It was sad to see this week’s major media meltdown of NBC anchorman Brian Williams. As everyone who haunts the interweb or stares numbly at a televersion all day knows, Brian was busted for embellishing his account of events in war torn Iraq some years ago. Many people were surprised, but not me. I saw it coming.

You see, Brian and I were bandmates back in the early 80’s. The band was called Bloodass, a group I started with Warren Zevon and John Belushi. Brian was a fairly good guitar player, at least when he wasn’t tripping on mushrooms. Even a drug hound like Belushi couldn’t put up with Williams’ antics, but when they finally came to blows, it was over a woman.

You see, both of them had been carrying on an affair with Maggie Thatcher, but neither knew of the others involvement. ( Maggie was a real vixen. She was also being jackhammered by Lennie Brezhnev, who nicknamed her The Iron Lady. ) When the truth came out, there was a huge brawl that ended when Belushi shattered Williams’ arm with a blood-stained emmy, ending his musical career. There are some who believe that Brian was responsible for Belushi’s overdose, but it’s never been proven.

Yeah, I’d been telling Bri that his stories were going to catch up with him someday, but he was still floating out there in ‘shroomville most of the time. It’s a habit he never quite kicked. If you knew him like I did, you could see the psychedelic glow in his eyes as he tried to decipher the teleprompter on the Nightly News. Most people never did, but that’s because Bri was a pro.

I’ve had similar problems over the years. Being an autobiographical writer is tricky, considering the flaws of human memory. More than once I have recounted some story that seemed as clear and true as the sky is blue only to have another actor in the play tell me that it wasn’t like that at all. Cops and reporters will confirm that it is rare to have two persons give the same account of an event that both witnessed. Even the cameras that we now rely on for accuracy have been known to lie. (Remember Howard Dean’s famous scream that made him look crazy and cost him the Dem nomination? When you look at the same moment from another angle, he almost appears sane.)

It was fortunate when I decided to finish my auto-bio Scablands that I had extensive notes and documents to aid my aging grey matter. Most of the material sat in a shoe box in the closet for almost a quarter century. There were passages that I had completely forgotten about, deleted from my memory during spring cleaning or lost in the fog of substance abuse. It may not be 100%, but it’s as close as I can recall.

And someday, I’ll get around to telling the story of how I was drafted as the field goal kicker for the Oakland Raiders in 1970. It would have set my life on a completely different path, had I not been crippled by the Yakuza sniper’s bullet. But that, my friends, is another story…

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Capitol Tour

Capitol Tour900

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Don’t Worry, Be Crazy

Were all normal895Every day I sit down in front of this computer and scan the internet for news, and every day I’m convinced that the world has gone stark raving mad. The situation in the Middle East is bad enough. With the televised burning of a caged human being, the terrorists have degenerated to new lows in an effort to impress the civilized world with their cruelty. They aren’t the only ones.

There is so much information available to the hungry masses, anything that doesn’t shock the senses is lost in the tsunami of words and images. And so much of what we consume is either misinterpreted or outright lies that it becomes difficult to know what is true. Governments and media have perfected the art of propaganda, and the unfortunate result is that more and more, we don’t trust those institutions even when they tell the truth.

The current vaccination controversy is a prime example. I know in my heart that measles vaccinations are good and have saved countless lives, but in my head there is a nagging doubt that fears enforced injections by all-powerful entities. (Dr. Mengele’s death camp experiments and Tuskegee come to mind.) This view has been reinforced by decades of Hollywood movies and countless conspiracy theories. Since the sixties, we have been conditioned to be skeptical.

And we have good reason to be skeptical. We’ve been fed so many lies by Democrats, Republicans and big business it’s beyond the pale. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Your personal information will be safe in the hands of the Affordable Care Act. Smoking does not cause cancer. The list goes on and on. You’d have to be crazy to not be a skeptic in this day and age.

The happiest people are those who live off the grid, disconnected from the chattering madness, or those who are heavily medicated. With the current trend toward legalizing drugs that may become the preferable option for many, although it will do nothing to correct the problem.

As much as I would like to be happy and sane living apart from the civilized world, I’ve become addicted to eating and having a roof over my head. It’s my job, for what it’s worth. I’ll continue to log onto social media and shake my head in disbelief at the crackpot opinions of my fellow humans. And despite the daily barrage of viral insanity, I will continue to hope that it will all work out somehow.

Does that make me crazy?


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A Reasonable Question


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The Merry Widow Gazette 2015

photoEXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! The 20th edition of The Merry Widow Gazette has rolled off the presses and should be available at various locations around western Nevada County (including the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce) by the end of this Superbowl weekend. All this is in anticipation of Nevada City’s MARDI GRAS celebration on February 14-15.

As usual, the monies collected from the Gazette’s advertisers and donors will be used to fund scholarships for single parents, and we urge everyone to support your local businesses.  (Photo: Editor Mary Ann Crabb and the colorful cover of this year’s Gazette. Laissez les bon temps rouler!)

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Don’t Taze Me, Bro

Can’t imagine why the cops would like to have tazers…

Police Blot Chart889

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San Francisco Values

There has been a debate going on in Nevada County as to whether we should embrace so-called “San Francisco values.” But The City itself has been going through a huge transformation in recent years, and begs the question: which San Francisco do we want to identify with?    http://48hillsonline.org/2015/01/26/dont-stanford-asshole/

(Okay, you’ll have to use the link in comments…)

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State Of The (Groan) Union

State of the Union871This week’s State of the Union dispelled any lingering doubt that the two dominant political parties truly hate each others guts . With Obama reeling off executive orders on immigration and Cuba, and the promised veto of the Keystone pipeline, any pretense of presidential submission in the coming congressional session was unceremoniously dumped onto the dungheap of history. The newly-seated Republican House and Senate wasted no time in making it clear that they will dive headfirst into the rabbit hole of psycho-wingnut legislation even though their first attempt, a bill restricting abortion, was itself aborted in a whirlwind of confusion and last-minute backsliding.

And the dust had barely settled on the midterm election before the campaign to replace Barack Obama had begun. Jeb Bush, hoping to go three for three on a Pennsylvania Avenue occupation, started to shed the potentially conflicting financial monkeys on his back and testing the temperature of the rich donor pool. Then suddenly, without warning, Zombie Romney arose from the dead, staggering from the elephant’s graveyard chanting “Come-back! Come-back!” There was much chattering among the also-running second tier wannabes, including Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and (!) Carly Fiorina?

It’s somewhat quieter on the Democratic side, with the smart money still betting on Hillary Clinton. To the left of the left, there are those that dream of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Saunders denying Her Hillaryness another chance at the golden ring and fufilling the progressive dream of a socialist utopian society, but it seems unlikely at this early date. (Of course, we thought she was a shoo-in in ’08 as well.) All hope of retaining the top job for the Dems depends on Obama now. If he can keep the economy from sliding into the ditch and avoid bumbling us into another war, they may buck the electoral odds and stay in power.

And they’ll no doubt have plenty of help from the neanderthals in Congress. Right off the bat we have rising star Iowa Senator Joni Ernst  Joni Earnstcalling for self reliance in the official party rebuttal, despite her family’s pork barrel farm subsidies in the neighborhood of $463,000 from ’95 to ’09. That’s a lot of pig nuts, although it doesn’t hold a candle to our own congressdude Doug LaMalfa’s $5.1 million. We can expect plenty of belt-tightening for food stamp recipients while our Republican friends dine on Iowa oysters on a bed of California rice. Joni was followed by no less than four additional rebuttals from her fellow conservatives, all jockeying for position in the coming GOP presidential beauty contest.

Because that’s where the state of the union is now; in a perpetual campaign cycle. The give and take of legislating has been permanently replaced by partisan grandstanding. Oh, they’ll no doubt work together to keep the whole rotten mess from collapsing on their watch, but tackling real problems will have to wait until one side or the other claims total dominance over all three branches of government. And in a nation as divided as ours, that outcome is about as likely as peace in the Middle East.

Some people (who shall remain nameless) have accused me of being a cynic for pointing out the shortcomings of American politics: too negative, too combative. It’s not like there aren’t good people doing good things to make this a better world. I would agree, and you can find plenty of inspiring stories at the click of a mouse. It would be folly to just give in to despair, but all those good efforts will come to naught unless what passes for leadership changes their partisan stripes. Even a nation as rich and powerful as these United States can’t go on forever rearranging deckchairs while the ship of state slowly sinks into the sea of failed democracies. The “smart people” crow that we are still so far ahead of our closest competitor it will be another fifty years before they catch up. Yeah, well, time flies when you’re having fun.

So I’ll continue to add my voice to those who believe that it’s time to ditch these dinosaurs and find a place that truly fits the middle of America. The fantasy of waiting until one or the other of these extremes goes extinct is not an option. The clock is ticking…

UPDATE: House Speaker John Boehner, in a classic political Pearl Harbor moment, announced the booking of Israeli Top Gun Bibi the Yahoo for a one night stand at the capital, causing the White House to go into convulsions. Expect a counter attack in the weeks to come.


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