About Me

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Los Angeles, CA, United States
I am a writer, photographer and musician living in Los Angeles. In the last few years, new written work--numerous plays, screenplays, and two novels--have demonstrated this to be the most productive period of my life. The journal I have also kept for thirty-five years has, of late, become a personal sounding board for my thoughts on peace and the state of the world...about which I remain hopelessly optimistic! My writing here will be in tandem to video "Peace Talks" I have recorded, and which will be released throughout 2011. You're welcome to visit my website, the "Studio 5" link, to see my photographs. As a classically-trained pianist, I have been composing music all my life. Two guitar re-mixes of piano music are attached here, as well as several music videos, including "Consider Peace" the title track of an up-coming CD. Balancing writing, photography and music has been a long and challenging path...not to be recommended! Yet this very Aries diversity reflects an enthusiasm for the modern world of which I feel very much a part.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Time To Go...really!
The most recent massacre in Afghanistan--sixteen dead, including women and children shot by an apparently deranged American soldier--speaks to the damage that war and occupation causes on both sides.  Trouble is determining what the sides are, and whose side are we on?
The greater point is why we are in Afghanistan in the first place.  There can only be one answer:  that country’s rich mineral and oil deposits.  
With the aim of securing our hold on these resources, we have not only dehumanized the the Afghan people, our policies are obviously having the effect of dehumanizing our very own sons and daughters...not all of them, to be sure, but too many are coming home damaged goods, and I don't see anything to show for it.  

Many of our soldiers are serving in Afghanistan because they believe we’re there for noble reasons.  Are we?  Of course we’re quick to wrap a flag around the supposed good of our “mission”.  But the truth is, they're not fighting “for us” or our freedom.  They are there to support corporate policies which, it seems, is our military's main reason to exist.  President Obama seems powerless to override the will of the Pentagon--the "military/industrial complex" as President Eisenhower called it--and I challenge a Republican president to thwart it either...if they would even want to! 
The only blessing, if you can call it that, we can hope will come from this latest tragedy in Afghanistan is the questions we should continue to ask of our elected leaders:
What is the definition of “winning”?  

Do ANY of our military ventures serve other than corporate interests? 
Who is really running the show?   
Have we “lost Afghanistan” simply because we cannot secure the deals our companies want...and want so badly that “collateral damage” is just the price of doing business no matter which side it's on?  
Our soldiers are our flag.  What do either of them represent...really?  Just who are we invading for?   

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Enough of the flag-waving!

Okay, a week of this is enough!  Am I the only one not crowing at how we murdered someone in their bed; how revenge can be called “justice”?

Certainly, we’re a free country.  We can kill anyone we want to, then call it any name we like (”defense”?)   All of humankind was given free will...to blow up Twin Towers, and to hunt down, torture and kill the masterminds.  
But both acts define us; they define the fanatic for what he is; and they define the nation so disturbingly gleeful at revenge.  I, for one, see no “justice” here.  
The flag-waving and talk of pride at being an American, as I’ve heard over and over again on TV this week, is simply distasteful.  There’s more than a hint of mob mentality going on here; not just the enthusiastic shouts of a lynching, but where even questioning our response to perceived wrong-doing could be tantamount to siding with the devil.
How does mirroring the action of a murderer make us any better?  Have we not been guilty ourselves of killing innocent people?  
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favor of coddling Bin Laden or any local thug on the street.  But the fist-pumping zeal I’ve witnessed this week; so-called Christian people conveniently deciding when “God’s Law” does not apply...if nothing else, it’s a lesson in the shifting sands which ARE “morality”.  
Ever notice how attackers never see themselves as the aggressors, but as defenders?  Something is “right”...until it isn’t.  It’s all good until something no longer suits...and then it’s bad. (Donald Trump said we should invade the Middle East and simply take the oil we need...and we're still worrying over Osama Bin Laden??!)
More to my point is this: how does killing--and celebrating--define us?  Who will we deem worthy next?   Do these acts really take us to where we say we want to go?  Hating war and loving peace are NOT the same thing.  
Let’s look at this and start re-thinking...and please, don’t kill the messenger!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The score: 99 to 1

For a writer, there are few things as daunting as a blank page.  Its like getting into a car knowing you have to go somewhere, but like a bad dream, you don’t know where it is you have to be.  And the clock is ticking! (Why is time always running out?)  In fact, life’s moments are just racing by as one faces the void--a very luminous one on a 27” Mac--whose quiet force stares back with the assurance that it is a much better brain than you...and you damn well know it!
The diarist Anais Nin, who was a huge influence early on (when I lived in London in the 70s), said she could never not find something to write about.  As one looks out--more through screens than windows--at the fast-changing world, it is hard, particularly as a writer, not to add one's two cents.  Indeed, having nothing to say would almost disqualify one from the Writer’s Club.  

(A literary agent I met defined a highly prolific, but as-yet unpublished writer as merely “busy” as opposed to “working”.  So who IS a writer?...But I digress.)
Lately, the big world beyond my cyber window-screen has seemed particularly daunting.  The geo-political changes alone, to say nothing of the tectonic ones, are so big; so world-shattering--literally--that one hardly knows where to begin to address what is going on.  The polarization on every front--extremists to the right of me; extremists to the left of me!--are pointing to each their own doomsday scenario.  And against all logic and the voice in our hearts, too many have been convinced that maintaining wars and rich bankers equals freedom...belief's that clearly are not taking us to where we say we want to go.  
Then these words:  “Start with a one inch picture frame.”  That’s the best writing advice I was ever given.  Begin with the smallest detail, then pull back.  Don’t start globally; there’ll be no end to the description required.  Start with one, not one hundred.
Which brings me to my point (yes, a point, after all!).  We’re still 99 percent "We the People" vs. the 1 percent who own almost everything and keep nearly all profits.  (A fact, by the way, not some left-leaning jargon.)  One-man-one-vote is still our ultimate political power.  A one inch picture frame may not seem like it reveals very much; but collectively...well, that may be our last hope to create a global landscape that includes everyone.  What democracy that's left resides in our humble vote, and it remains our ultimate power.  Let's use it before they, the one percent, start spinning that against us, too.  Unthinkable, maybe...but can't you see them trying?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Is it life or just distraction?

What with house guests, business-building, Spring cleaning, the earthquake and tsunami (watched, eerily, live on TV); the continually riveting news in the Middle East, and turning sixty, all within the month of March, I just haven’t had the focus to write here.
My third novel, at about the halfway point, seems to be on hiatus, and I fear for its future.  All the months of piano practice gaining finger strength leading up to my early December recording session has largely been lost (though not the confidence gained, thank goodness).  Even my computer got a virus, so I’m working, uncharacteristically, on my 27" Mac, a daunting machine which continues to whoop my ass, as I wait for my dear PC’s return from the hospital.
But April is upon us, a sunny Spring indeed here in L.A., and I’m ready to go round again.  Because it’s all about cycles.  Little cycles--the routines of each day; and the ever-larger ones that ripple out all around us, the results of our action (sometimes our inaction!), within the context of a rapidly changing world.
And what a world!  Hopeless optimist that I am, I see each day as a symbol of Life’s eternal, rejuvenating fertility...perhaps another term for God’s forgiveness.  Considering how often we, as a race, have f’d things up, the days keep coming, world without end, literally!  Another opportunity to “get it right”.  And if that ain't love, I don't know what is!   
So, one tries to forgive one’s self for the little lapses.  Either that or blow our brains out, which, again, we might have done long ago had Life’s unfolding days and years not  proved there IS another chance.  So many opportunities for change, in fact, that we finally realize we even have a choice as to how we want to proceed.   
In changing, perhaps fearful times, how DO we proceed?  “Our minds derail us with logic that is supported by fear,” so said an Oracle.  We can test our inner guidance system by asking, “Does this feel like love?” or “Does this make me afraid?”  People who are afraid of change will always revert to fear-mongering, be it political tyranny, or some other teaching that conditions “salvation” on the  subjugation of our heart’s voice; a voice that only speaks the language of love and unity.   
Like the earth seen from space, that Voice knows no national boundaries.  That Voice reflects our innate unity like a loving promise.  As times get shaky; with change afoot on so many levels (as we grow up as a race!) I believe we’ll be best served acting out of love which unifies instead of fear which divides.  Have the “old ways” served us?  Would we be in the precarious state we’re in if they had?  Is the trajectory of our collective actions taking us to where we say we want to go?
Change is the very definition of Life’s Process, and make no mistake, life will go on whether we like it or not.  So, what is a change--an action--we can trust?  “Does this feel like love?”

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Reconnecting with an Old Friend.

I recently connected with one of my best friends from high school, a woman with whom I’ve been out of touch since 1984.  She is now the mother of six grown kids, and the grandmother of 21…make that nearly 22 grand-kids; and lived most of her post-L.A. life in small to very small towns in Utah and Washington State.

We talked on the phone for a long time, and I kept listening for the familiar girl I knew as a teenager, but it was a very distant sound indeed.  Our lives had gone in such different directions:  hers burrowed deeply into family, her local church and community; dealing with long-standing health concerns.  Mine, married for seven years to an English girl I met living in London; no kids; an artist and gay man standing on the world stage with my own long-standing struggles to balance three creative pursuits as a writer, photographer and pianist-composer.

We’ve each done what we had to do; made choices based on circumstance, and to lesser degree perhaps, out of sheer will to shape the life we wanted.  Add to that a little luck that swung both ways, and the results of simply hanging in there, all totaling the very different lives we’ve made. 

Yet what struck me was that no matter how different our circumstances have been, they have both been the result of a certain kind of focus on the moment, the accumulated moments that become the substance of our experience.  And in that regard, our lives here on plant earth—all our lives—are no different from each other.  We’re all souls working it out in an amazing dance of present moments in concert with our family and friends, and on a larger field, our community, our nations and culture each with their own collective slants of character, points of view and over-arching destinies.

Like viewing the Earth from space with its fragile, borderless nobility, our souls, too, are part of One Thing:  Life.  Yet in the context of an ageless planet, our “local” differences (including our intransigent theologies) are revealing themselves to be unsustainable;  contrary to the Living System of which we are most definitely all a part.  Have we forgotten that our lives are as noble as the stars turning around us?  That the limitless sky is a metaphor for our ageless souls? 

So I say Thank You to an old friend for reminding me that our seeming difference over time and in experience connects us no less.  We’re all connected.  To the extent we don’t make that fact part of our collective experience, we will continue to have the divisive world we’re living in…and which, sadly, we now have the power to destroy.  Do we grow up as a race before life as we know it disappears, or as a result of that occurrence?  In either case, the Earth (and, I trust, our souls) shall live on.  So the question is What kind of world do we want, and do we have the courage to claim it...now?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Couple of Lunatics!

Suddenly we’re television hostages to TWO delusional crackpots:  Moamaar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen.  The former, a spoiled, tyrannical dictator, has the fate of millions in his hands, and the outcome will affect us all.  The other guy is just a spoiled, tyrannical actor, whose only direct victims are his kids.  Both are claiming air time with weird tirades against the notion they should be denied…anything!  Clearly, neither are familiar with the word “No”.

Fortunately, CBS has given a severance cushion to the laid-off employees of Sheen’s TV show—never a job guaranteed for life.  But the people of Libya are literally fighting for their future.  All in all, an interesting study in contrasts.  Gaddafi is the product of everything that’s been wrong with our geo-political alignments for forty years.  It’s almost awe-inspiring to realize that watching his fall—and our waking up—is to witness global history in the making. 

Sheen represents something a lot closer to home:  our fascination with celebrity; and the fantasy of “freedom” money can buy:  babes, drugs and the kind of arrested development we might have dreamed of as teenagers, but grew out of when we realized we had to paddle our own canoe.   Yet this guy is 50, with five kids!  He’s got two porn stars as live-in “goddesses”, and never needs to worry about money for the rest of his (possibly short) life…not unlike Gaddafi, now that I think about it.  And they’re both crying victim….go figure.

One hopes that Sheen, unlike the Libyan, still has time to wise up—meaning grow up.  Meanwhile, I have to confess that the television spectacle of these dueling train wrecks is just too much history-in-the-making to turn off.  Call me shallow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Welcome...and welcome wisdom, too!

Aside from the most left-leaning radio stations, namely Pacifica’s KPFK here in Los Angeles, I have never---and I mean never---heard on prime time network television the kind of honest and extended discourse about global policy in the Middle East as I’ve heard in just the last few weeks.  Suddenly, Egypt, Libya and other Middle Eastern countries are being discussed not just in the context of oil and our dictator “friends”.  

For decades Egypt was Mubarak; Libya was Qaddafi; and the reality of millions of oppressed people simply never entered the dialogue. How much more of the world do we see (has been portrayed) only through the prism of national interest?  Yet lately on our TV screens, beyond the chatter about “policies” and "friends", are (gasp) real people, all with kindred aspiration to our own.  The protesting masses simply want to live in a world of peaceful co-existence, where dignity and the right to self-determination reign. How were we blind to such huge masses of oppressed people for so long?  Why now, are millions risking their lives to have what we’ve had all along—at their expense?  

But overnight our eyes are opening.  Suddenly, “we the people” is taking on a whole new meaning.  And frankly, it's a little scary.  Because if we mean what we say about “liberty and justice for all”, does that mean them, too?  If not, why not?  How will all this upheaval affect us?  What kind of world do we really want?  This IS the question.

These times are an awakening for the entire human race.  The new realities are forcing us to look at ourselves in a whole new way.  This is called expanded consciousness; another word for wisdom.  How much richer the world will be with these ancient cultures actually participating in the global discourse as we shape our new Century.  I, for one, welcome the new faces into the global--the human--community.