Friday, November 28, 2008

The Giving Season

Well it's that time of year. A lot of crazy people have already stampeded the Walmart's of the world this morning looking for deals at 4 am.

I've never understood this whole Black Friday nonsense. I've never once in my entire life gotten up at 4 am because I wanted something that badly. My mother does this. She thinks it's a sport. It's no different to her than when my dad gets up a 5 am to get in the boat early to catch fish. It's a sport.

Shopping is not a sport to me. I appreciate lovely things - I think about them and sometimes admire them (and as evidenced below, occasionaly write about them...the Viktor and Rolf Perfume is still on my mind), occasionally purchasing some of them. But I don't need to hunt them like it's a sporting event. Frankly I'd rather sit in a blind and wait for the ducks.

No amount of shopping this season is going to save the retailers apparently. Many of them are going to be going out of business whether we shop like crazy or not. For more on that there's some long articles in the Wall Street journal about how it's very much gloom and doom for retailers this year - even Chanel is discounting things by 50%! So if you were in the market for a $5,000 Chanel suit, you can snap one up for about $2,500.

But when I start thinking about what I should buy people for Christmas this year - especially with all the bargains out there because of the economy, I start to feel very unsure about how to spend my money. It seems that there is this frenzied psychosis about spending and not spending and the economy and bargains are good - or are they bad? Spend your money, don't spend your money. Don't spend your money on imported crap! Shop at Wal-Mart (all imported crap)! It's a bit schizophrenic.

This year I was thinking it might be nice to give some people on your list something more meaningful. There is a group called Heifer International. Go check out their website. It's a great opportunity to give a poor family their own cow, goat, rabbit, chickens, or a plethora of other things that can help them actually sustain their families. I love the idea of giving these as gifts to some of our hard to buy for friends and families.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Material Things that MIGHT make me happy...

I'm not really much of a material girl (in spite of my sincere desire to be Madonna for a short period of time in the mid 80s)...

But I'm beginning to think about Christmas. Sometimes it's easier to think of what other people want and more difficult to tell people something that I want. These are things that I'm thinking about putting on my list -

I'm kind of a sucker for a good perfume campaign. But yesterday I smelled this stuff and it's absolutely enchantingly delicious.

AND here's the stuff that suckers me in once I like how something smells:

flowerbomb is a floral explosion, a profusion of flowers that has the power to make everything seem more positive. On application the perfumes magically evocative notes will immediately awaken your deepest senses, giving you the impression of living your life in your own secret garden away from hard reality.

Can Victor & Rolf make it sound any better than that? I think not. Plus it smells like every lovely sweet flower you've every smelled and in addition almost baby powder, but not quite and then after notes of cotton candy. Without getting toooo sweet, which is a neat trick. And darn it all if it doesn't actually seem to possess magical qualities.

SOLD victor & rolf, I succomb to your genius.

This might seem silly, but I've resisted getting one of these for...oh about 20 years now. If I an analyze it a bit it's based on the following:

They're expensive, and I'm not a good enough cook to justify a $300 purchase just so I can mix stuff. Am I that lazy? Seriously get a big spoon and start moving your arm lady!


Even though my husband has offered to get me one for a gift either for Christmas or a birthday - I always think "great! we've reached the point in my marriage/boring life/etc that all I'm going to get for the rest of my life are unromantic and horrid kitchen GADGETS!"

Also See:

Lezlee doesn't want to think of herself as a complete "grown up" and this item seems the epitome of 'grownupness' so every time I think I wish I had one, I bag the idea immediately.

But lately:

I'm starting to realize that I would probably cook/bake a lot more if I had one. And if I'm not going to grow up at 41 when will I? (and besides I'm never REALLY going to grow up anyway so I might as well get one, it's not going to ruin my life or least I don't think so...I'm still a little dubious on this one).

A few weeks ago we went to First Fridays. And we stumbled on a new artist or two working in the downtown area.
One was named Daniel Shepherd and his work had such a great quality to it that I haven't been able to quit thinking about it quite yet. Which is usually a sign that I really want to buy one of his paintings. So that's a possibility for Christmas as well. But Daniel Shepherd didn't have to do anything to sell me on his artwork, it just sold itself. It has this really special quality that I'm not sure I can explain, but I really, really like it.

isn't really a Christmas wish list kind of thing but it's something I'm thinking about. It's almost time to get a new car for me. Mine is having some minor issues plus it's showing it's age (it's 7 years old and has 120,000 miles on it). I think I should get a used Prius
or a Ford Escape Hybrid. Kirk thinks I should just get a Mercedes sedan or something similar. I'm open to suggestions. I'd just like something slightly sexier than what I've got but you know, there's always the big realization that I spend most of my time in it running kids to and fro and picking up groceries so how sexy can it be right?

But honestly, I will just be happy with some L'Occitane or Philosophie bath stuff - I adore bubble baths! Again, always lured in by a good ad campaign. Sometimes I think I really should have gotten a degree in marketing because I know what works.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Many Things

This post is about many things...

And nothing really.

My brain is very scattered. I don't know if I would consider myself a 'scatter-brain' but I probably am at least some of the time and I probably come close to it the rest of the time.

My thoughts so far today:

I'm thrilled that Holden is home and sleeping in his bed for a few days. It will be fun when he comes home for even longer at Christmas.

Christmas what the heck am I getting people for Christmas. For Christmas my hair needs to look good. I'm not happy with it right now.

What the heck is happening with that hair appointment assignment I gave to Shannon - I cannot wait until December 12th to get my hair done. Must call Shannon.

I will be a "bandanamom" every day if I don't get my hair done before then. Anyway the 12th is my anniversary weekend and I think maybe we are staying at a hotel or going away or something.

I think maybe we will just stay in Phoenix.

Speaking of which, I think we will get each other art right here in Phoenix this year (we buy art as anniversary gifts to each other every year). Maybe downtown where we saw that stuff at first fridays.

I was going to write that second first friday entry on my blog but maybe I won't do it after all.

No one has commented at all on my blog lately. Probably I got too political and obnoxious for most of the people who read my blog.

I don't have anything else that I want to write a blog about though. I should change the music on my blog - I'm getting sick of that Morrisey song.

Speaking of that - I need to look for that song that I heard the other day by that israeli violinist that was cool.

That was cool last night when we could see into those jewish people's house and see their sabbath meal.

Speaking of meals, I am so totally starving right now. Weirdly since I hit that 100 pound mark I've easily lost another 8 pounds since then. I don't know how that happens.

I need to replace all these lightbulbs in this room. I hate trying to figure out what size I need for these track lights though - I always get it wrong somehow and then the lightbulb for the ceiling fan light is some weird size that's meant to be an oven light or something.

Speaking of that I'm thrilled my oven got fixed yesterday! Maybe I'll actually bake something for a change!

Crud, it's Sunday tomorrow and I have hardly any groceries, I'm going to have to run to the grocery store sometime today. If I have to cook all day tomorrow I don't really want to cook today.

I should call Kirk and see if he wants to go to lunch...

[this is my brain process all day...does anyone else do this?]

Monday, November 17, 2008


A friend from New York sent this via email this week. I chewed her out for sending an impersonal questionnaire after months of not talking to her! But still, it seemed like a good way to formulate a blog post without any actual work. Rather than sending it via email I want all my readers to post it on their own blogs and answer the questions if they are so inclined. Maybe we will get Shando to answer it, that might be interesting. Shando has a way of making even a boring quiz, interesting.

In other news, I passed the 100 pounds lost mark which you can read about more here if you want.

The theory is that you will learn a lot of little things about your friends that you might not have known!
1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:45
2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds
3. What was the last film you saw at the theatre? Quantum of Solace
4. What is your favorite TV show? Flipping Out
5. What do you usually have for breakfast? Nada
6. What is your middle name? my mother found them superfluous....
7. What food do you dislike? pom juice is pretty disgusting
8. What is your favorite CD at moment? Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist Soundtrack
9. What kind of car do you drive? Dodge Durango
10. Favorite sandwich? Tuna from La Grande Orange
11. What characteristic do you despise? Vapidness
12. Favorite item of clothing? Converse All Stars
13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Back to Scotland
14. Favorite brand of clothing? Ralph Lauren
15. Where would you retire to? The mountains or the beach - it's a toss up
16. What was your most recent memorable birthday? When Shannon took me to the spa a few years ago
17. Favorite sport to watch? Diving
18. Furthest place you are sending this? New York
19. Person you expect to send it back first? Cindy?
20. When is your birthday? July
21. Are you a morning person or a night person? Night
22. What is your shoe size? 7.5 before kids, 8.5 after first kid, 9 after second kid, 9.5-10 after 3rd kid (which is why I only have 3)
23. Pets? 2 dogs
24. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? I've lost 100 pounds as of today!
25. What did you want to be when you were little? A Psychologist
26. How are you today? Comme ci Comme ca
27. What is your favorite candy? Reeses P Nut Butter Cups
28. What is your favorite flower? Roses
29. What day on the calendar you are looking forward to? Thanksgiving
30. What is your favorite pastime? Reading
31. What are you listening to right now? My dogs demanding to be let back in the house
32. What was the last thing you ate? A Meatball
33. Do you wish on stars? sometimes
34. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Orange - but my favorite color is green
35. How is the weather right now? Cool
36. The first person you spoke to on the phone today? Shannon
37. Favorite soft drink? Diet Coke
38. Favorite restaurant? Pita Jungle
39. Real hair color? Brownish Blondish
40. What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbie Townhouse
41. Summer or winter? Summer
42. Hugs or kisses? Kisses
43. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
44. Coffee or tea? neither - but mint tea if I HAVE to choose
45. Do you want your friends to email you back? Yes
46. When was the last time you cried? yesterday - but it was just one stray tear over hearing something touching
47. What is under your bed? A large container of photos
48. What did you do last night? Watched Dexter with Kirk
49. What are you afraid of ? Almost nothing
50. Salty or sweet? sweet
51. How many keys on your key ring? 7
52. How many years at your current job? My job is basically "mom" so that's about 18 years
53. Favorite day of the week? Friday
54. How many towns have you lived in? 7
55. Do you make friends easily? No
56. How many people will you send this to? Everyone Can Answer if I post it on the blog
57. How many will respond? ????

Sunday, November 09, 2008

First Fridays Part I

(painting by Brian Boner)

The essay below is from a few years ago.  Before we owned a Brian Boner painting.  

We’ve parked in a lot that says “don’t park” and something about the police will tow. We aren’t too worried, everyone else seems to think this is the place to park. The parking lot is mostly dirt and now I have a small grainy pebble in one shoe. I feel out of place and in place at the same time. I’m out of place because this isn’t my comfort zone, this isn’t really my part of town. I’m in place because no one really cares. We don’t really know where we’re going.

We have a small tiny map that we can’t really read. We walk past a house that looks like every other slightly rundown house on the block, but there are people hanging out in the front yard. A 20 something guy wearing a black stocking cap looks up at us and says “you can go in” and motions towards the house. We glance towards the open door. There is artwork on the walls inside the house. We walk up the stairs past boys sitting on the stoop, drinking hard apple cider out of giant plastic containers. Inside the art is interesting. It is young. These kids are young. They seem to live here, or congregate here. Some of it is good. There is a girl who paints fairies on little pieces of tin. There is a large black girl who has done a self portrait of her vagina. Good is not a word I would use to describe it. We wander through until we hit the bathroom. The sign on the wall says “private” but someone has written in pencil “saving” above it and “Ryan” below it. We walk back out front. The guy in the stocking cap nods to us. “Thanks” we say.

We keep going towards what we think is one of the main “galleries”. The term “galleries” seems to be loosely used in this situation. They are small little houses built in the 1930’s maybe. Charming and run down. This forgotten part of town between downtown and midtown. Anytime I’ve heard someone refer to the “Roosevelt District” I tend to not think of art. I tend to think about potential crime. Urban decay. People who hope and wish that their neighborhood will be safer and cleaner and more inviting if it is declared a “historic district”. I tend to think of it as in vain. A sad attempt to turn something around into something it can never be again.
We find the gallery. The smell of incense in the air is very intense. There are signs directing us to go towards the back of the gallery. In back, between the house to the side of it and the garage behind it someone has set up a table with crudites and wine. The house smells freshly painted as we walk in. There’s a beautiful white flower arrangement with lilies and roses and someone has stuck an incense stick in the center of it. Lilies and roses smell beautiful, they don't need incense. But it wouldn't be an art party without incense I suppose.  In front of me is an old window pane with a photo being projected by a back light through the glass. Bare trees and a naked girl leaning with her limbs like the tree. It is kind of mesmerizing. The way it changes depending on where you are in the room, it becomes abstract looking from a side angle. The girl appears to move and almost dance when you move your head. This house has old polished hardwood floors. Through the doorway there are several pieces but one especially catches my eye. It is called “Gluttony”. There are two of them. Companion pieces. They are picasso like forms filled with tiny little collages and words and paint. There is so much meaning and intensity condensed inside these images. I could stare at these for hours.

I think about how I would like to own the “Gluttony” paintings. I think about how I might not be the kind of person who would have gluttony paintings on her walls. I think about how maybe I really am that person. In a different life, probably not the one I’m living. On the wall by them is another painting by the same girl. This one represents all of the seven deadly sins. There are words and forms and I want to look at them longer but we feel compelled to keep going. There are lots of abstracts but every once in a while there will be a good realist piece. The “installation” pieces laying on the floor bore me. I can’t care about a piece of wood painted white on one side that gets smaller and smaller. That’s like something I did in an art class one time when I was out of ideas. “This will be arty”, I thought. We walk back outside.

There is a garage. It is open at both ends. Both ends have a garage door. It is skinny and narrow. A car would barely fit. In fact, I’m not sure if a car would fit. Is it meant to be a garage or is it meant to be an artists studio? There is music playing from a little stereo inside. The artist’s name is Brian Boner. It’s on the wall by his paintings. Everything in here is Brian Boner. It is unbelievably good. He uses sand and some sort of acid or chemical washes and they are people. People without faces mostly. Forms, see-through people. I feel like crying. There is emotion and power and depth. Somehow he has taken something inside of him and he has thrown it onto a canvas. He has projected something that makes my eyes water. There are windmills too. Windmills and forms of people. Browns and Coppers and copper-greens and grays. How does he get the sand on there? How does he make the sand the paint? There is one of a man fully formed. Face, body, very substantial looking, sitting on a wooden chair blowing on one of those little hand-held windmills children like. As he blows, the red and white colored windmill bleeds the colors as they fly in the wind of the mans breath. It is the only bright color used in the whole garage, the bleeding red and white. Behind me is one called “re-written”. I want to own “re-written”. It is moving. It is God and Adam. I could look at these paintings by Brian Boner all night, but lots of other people want to walk through the garage too so we leave. Brian hasn’t left any cards or anything around that would allow anyone to contact him about his work. Just his name on the wall by his paintings. Did he do that on purpose I wonder? Does he want to sell it or keep it? Or is he just an artist and making the effort to put out contact information was more than that side of his brain could accomplish? Brian Boner, we want your art.

The house adjacent is also a gallery. It is called the “SHH” Gallery. It’s awfully noisy for being called “shh”. There are power tools being used in parts of the house. A guy with long hair walks by with a power drill in his hand. Someone says “watch out, don’t step on that”. I’m afraid I’m about to step on some “installation art”, instead it is a container of nails and a tool left on the floor. The dude with the long hair looks happy, he grabs up the tool and the nails and bounces back into the other parts of the house where he is happily drilling away at something. He walks through again and it is wood and has feathers and beads stuck to it. I hope it turns out okay for him, right now it looks like something my 8 year old might come up with goofing around in the back yard. Maybe that’s what he’s going for. You never know with artists. Maybe that’s why he seems so happy. He’s like a little kid with his feathers and his beads and his power tools. In the first room there are keyholes on the wall. You have to go look inside the keyholes. I’m a little worried about this. What will be in there? Is it something I don’t want to see? I laugh when I look. There is a transvestite with nipple rings holding feathers in front of him. There is a man giving a sock monkey a tattoo. There are people bottlenecked between the first room and the second. They are fascinated watching these weird little monitors inside of old furniture that look sort of like old radio’s or something. Inside on the monitors are black and white images. They are disturbing but I’m not sure why. They look a little like a Nine Inch Nails video. A kid skating through endless rooms that look a little like a fun house at a carnival. I think it’s the endless skating that disturbs me. Like he’s trying to find his way out and he never will. They remind me of the movie “The Cell”, like stepping inside someone’s disturbed brain.

I’m drawn to this giant black and white painting on the wall. It looks like a family photo from the 1950’s. There are girls or women standing behind a man who is seated on a chair in front of them. They are looking over his shoulder at a piece of paper or maybe a photo that he his showing them. They are all smiling. But then my stomach lurches a little. Something is haunting about it. I look at the girl on the left. She is pretty and happy. But the girl to her right looks “off”. Her smile is too big. It is almost clown-like. The sisters get increasingly ugly if you really look at them. Their eyes are too big. Their smiles are sinister. Their teeth are crooked. Then there is the mother. You can tell she is the mother because she looks slightly older than the girls. One of her eyes is almost completely shut and her smile is contorted. She’s turning a “blind eye” because on her side is another girl and this girl is pretty, although smiling too big, but she has something all over her. She looks like there is blood dripping or something has been thrown in her face. Droplets of something gooey are on her face and dress. But she smiles all the same. They all gaze down at the father. He is making them look at something. We can’t make out what they are looking at. The fathers mouth is horrible. When you look at his mouth long enough you see that his eye teeth are just the teeniest bit too long. Vampire fangs. I look away. On the floor right by this painting in the corner are two furry vulvas. They look like slippers. I’m uncomfortable. I barely remember what’s in the room after that. We walk out the front door. A man says “Is this the C H H gallery?”, I say “No, but it’s the S H H gallery”. For a split second I feel like I actually know something about this. Like we do this all the time.

There are a lot of people out here on the street now. I think we are actually on Roosevelt, although I’m a little confused and turned around. There are young kids here for the free alcohol. No one’s carding. Some of these people look like starving artists taking the opportunity to gorge themselves on the free carrots and ranch dip and crackers and cheese that almost every gallery has. There are people who look like they have a lot of money. There are people like us who look confused. Middle-aged people checking their maps. Maps which are no good anyway because most of this stuff isn’t even on the maps. There are families with little babies. Grandparents with babies. Normal looking. Not what you’d think a normal family would do on a Friday night but hey, it’s free. I wouldn’t take them in the SHH Gallery though. There are people setting up to play music. I overhear people complaining “I hate that guys music”. People selling their handmade jewelry. We’re all jamming up inside these small little “galleries” that are more like little studios that they have opened up for the event.

One girl has a “white on white” show. I don’t get it. Everything is white. Hundreds of bic razors all in a row on a white cube. What does that mean? Hundreds of styrofoam baby doll heads glued on a cube with all of their mouths sews together with black thread. Female condoms full of styrofoam adult looking heads on a wall. All white on white. Golf tees. Intricately sewn cubes of white material. White m and m’s in a bowl that says “help yourself”. People are eating the m and m’s. That’s the problem. You can’t tell the art from the food in here.

There’s a special little gallery dedicated to the topic of the Catholic church and some of it’s recent scandals. If I were Catholic I might be offended. I don’t think artists worry too much about offending though, in fact these artists seem to seek to offend in some ways. Right inside the door is what looks to be a confessional booth, lovely old wood with a nice patina, crimson red curtains hanging from the confessional, the curtains are parted and inside there is a translucent monitor. One the monitor blinking off and on like a television on the fritz are a pair of boys or men’s underwear, with something obscured over the crotch of the underwear, they appear to be hanging from clothespins. They flicker in and out. Dirty laundry inside the confessional booth. It’s obvious what the artist had in mind even before you see up on the wall in giant black letters “Bishop”. I turn around and behind me is a conveyor belt with cute little lambs sitting on it, they are wide-eyed and innocent. They look like little stuffed animals, although I am pretty sure they are made of plaster, they appear to go inside of a metal tube, as they come out the other side of the metal tube the little lambs have changed. Now they don’t have the same happy little eyes. They aren’t wide-eyed and innocent anymore. Their fur is no longer fluffy. They have bright red gags bound around their mouths. I have to admit it does have impact. It does make me a little sad. I am a little disturbed by so much red and black in the otherwise white gallery. There is more catholic iconography of a sort. There are pictures on the wall of bishops painted in a rust on tin. There is a large crudely drawn cross and a small motor is pulling a what appears to be a cutting device of some sort around the outside of the cross. It’s $1,000.00. The tin drawings are $10.00. The dichotomy of that is interesting. There is more here and there but I am sort of glancing around, about to leave when I notice a giant stained glass on the wall. It is a depiction of Bishop Thomas O’Brien, cartoon-like sitting behind the wheel of a car with a look of terror on his face. The windshield of his car is shattered. There’s no question now whether it’s about the church in general or this particular man. Now we all know which “Bishop” we are talking about.

There is a horrible little gallery full of “pirate art”. That guy better give up. It’s terrible. There are other spaces where a lone bassist plays and everything is starting to look the same, abstracted collages. It seems like cheating. Anyone can copy stuff out of old books and get some paste and some paint and do this stuff. I don’t want to be one of those stupid people who says “my kindergartner can do that”. I know some things that look easy really aren’t. I’ll give credit where credit is due. Sometimes though the credit isn’t due. I don’t think a lot of these people will ever really survive as artists. Some of it is discouraging, but we trudge on through the night. There are bright spots here and there. Evidence of some raw talent. One girl does a series on the subject of “faith”, here faith is represented by boats floating and sometimes sinking in the water. Capsized even. That’s about right I think, that’s what faith feels like doesn’t it? We toss and churn but ultimately, faith floats.

There are hundreds of people now milling all over this neighborhood. I can still feel the little grainy pebble in my shoe. It’s all starting to blur together now, all these places we are going in and out of. In one house a teenage girl is actually painting. I guess most of the art is hers. Her parents, or parental type figures seem to be standing by looking on. She paints lots of naked women in a cubist sort of style that quite frankly, isn’t very good. She seems a little overly focused on the pubic hair. Black. Red. Green. Yellow. No blended colors, all pure and and unblended. It's overwhelming just the energy she emits standing near her in the same room.  It's like there's this hummmmmmm she throws off her body.   I hear her talking to her dad. She's quite angry. Her little brother is standing right there watching her paint pubic hair. She looks a little like Kelly Osbourne. She gets irritated with us because we walk out through their back door instead of the front. She’s trying to shock with her art but really, it’s very uptight in a kind of way.

There are more and more and more spaces. Mostly mediocrity. Random things that are kind of good. Random things that are truly horrible.

In the dark streets and alleys between the “galleries” we smell incense, pot smoke, tobacco, perfume, wine. Guys are tagging on a giant wall. We hope that’s part of the art. Some of the spaces are pretentious and silly but obviously have some money behind them. We go in one place that is an art center for artists who are mentally ill. In the back a band is playing some music and a lone man is dancing in the middle of the room. Little kids are sitting around coloring. I happen to read one poem on the wall before we walk out. It makes me cry. It’s called “How to be an artist”.

The end for us is a performance art group who have driven onto the lawn by a little espresso cafe in a red Range Rover, pulled out their instruments and started to play in the style of the “beat” poets of the 50’s and 60’s. As they use their horns and their drums I think of the movie with Mike Myer’s where he does those poems “Woman, WOOOOOE MAN”. If that’s the kind of stuff these guys were doing it might be interesting enough to watch, at least in a humorous way, but that’s how it is. The drummer has stolen his dad’s old Kiwanis hat and attached a harem scarf to the end of it. The trumpet player is cliche in his little black and white striped outfit. The guy up front is “performing” he’s swallowing swords and razor blades and scorpions. They put out their hat and say something about how they’d really appreciate a buck or two to help them out in buying more razor blades and scorpions. I turn to Kirk and say “they can get scorpions in the desert for free”. By the way, who’s driving the brand new red range rover I wonder. I can tell it was purchased in Scottsdale by the license plate holder. I wonder to myself about parents sitting in their nice home in Scottsdale right now worrying about their son who has struck out on a career path as someone who swallows razor blades. They’re going to be paying his rent for a long time.

We’re tired. We go back to the car. There are even more people now, the parking lot where you can’t park or you’ll be towed is full. A homeless man is ranting to everyone and no one that someone stole his sign. I feel like saying “Dude, someone not only stole your sign, they stole your whole neighborhood”. It’s full of art and artists now. Every little rundown home that would have been a potential crack house is now a “gallery”. Good luck homeless man, I think you’re being forced to head further south

Monday, November 03, 2008

Semi-anonymous complaints

Someone has complained about my Obama bumper sticker on my car, yard sign, my Obama "Hope" t-shirt (which I have actually tried to not wear around anyone at church) and my democratic views in general. Yesterday I got a new calling as a counselor in the Stake relief society presidency - I think it's all very balanced because the new Relief Society President has a McCain sign her yard. I think if she and I can get along and be happy, so can the rest of you. So for all my mormon nay-sayers, here's a nice article about neutrality in the church published a few years ago. The church actually wants some diversity in the members.

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE GOP Dominance Troubles Church; It hurts Utah, says general authority, disavowing any perceived Republican-LDS Link; LDS Official Calls for More Political Diversity

Author(s): DAN HARRIE THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE Salt Lake Tribune Date: May 3, 1998 Page: A1 Section:

COPYRIGHT 1998, THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE The LDS Church, through a high-ranking leader, is making its strongest public statement to date about the need for political diversity among members, while expressing concerns the Republican Party is becoming the "church party."

" There is sort of a division along Mormon/non-Mormon, Republican/Democratic lines, " says Elder Marlin Jensen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. "We regret that more than anything--that there would become a church party and a non-church party. That would be the last thing that we would want to have happen."

Jensen said major national political parties may take stands that do not coincide with teachings of the 10 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but that should not put them out of bounds for members. . . .

Jensen . . . was designated by church officials to respond to The Salt Lake Tribune's request for an interview on the topic of partisan imbalance in Utah and among LDS members. . . .

In an hour long interview at the church's worldwide headquarters in downtown Salt Lake City arranged and overseen by LDS media-relations director Mike Otterson, Jensen discussed leaders' views about the seeming demise of two-party politics among members. Among the concerns he aired:

--The LDS Church's reputation as a one-party monolith is damaging in the long run because of the seesaw fortunes of the national political parties.

--The overwhelming Republican bent of LDS members in Utah and the Intermountain West undermines the checks-and-balances principle of democratic government.

--Any notion that it is impossible to be a Democrat and a good Mormon is wrongheaded and should be "obliterated." . . .

Jensen, who was called as a general authority in 1989, said high church officials lament the near-extinction of the Democratic Party in Utah and the perception--incorrect though it is--that the GOP enjoys official sanction of the church. . . .

"One of the things that prompted this discussion in the first place was the regret that's felt about the decline of the Democratic Party [in Utah] and the notion that may prevail in some areas that you can't be a good Mormon and a good Democrat at the same time," Jensen said.

"There have been some awfully good men and women who have been both and are both today. So I think it would be a very healthy thing for the church--particualrly the Utah church--if that notion could be obliterated." . . .

"There is a feeling that even nationally as a church, it's not in our best interest to be known as a one-party church," Jensen said. "The national fortunes of the parties ebb and flow. Whereas the Republicans may clearly have the upper hand today[1998], in another 10 years [2008] they may not." [!] . . .

Jensen said it is time for LDS members to take a broader view of political affiliation.
"We would probably hope that they wouldn't abandon a party necessarily because it has a philosophy or two that may not square with Mormonism. Because, as I say, [parties] in their philosophies ebb and flow," Jensen said.

"You know, the Republicans came very close last time to bringing a pro-abortion plank into their platform. That was maybe the biggest battle of their [1996 national] convention," he said. "Which shows that if you're a pure ideologue, eventually you're going to have trouble in either party."

"Everyone who is a good Latter-day Saint is going to have to pick and choose a little bit regardless of the party that they're in and that may be required a lot more in the future than it has been in the past. But I think there's room for that and the gospel leaves us lots of latitude."


This weekend I've been at a wonderful Stake conference where my Stake President gave an absolutely glorious talk. Quite possibly the best talk I've ever heard at a Stake Conference, and in particular the talk which has most influenced me in a tangible way. He hugely influenced how I'm going to vote on Proposition 102 which I was really struggling with...for lots of reasons my feelings about it were conflicted, but he puts things in such a way that it suddenly became very clear to me what I needed to do. At the same time I feel more strongly than ever about my vote for Barack Obama. Here's a blog post that John Cusack wrote for Huffington Post today - he is very liberal - but sometimes I like to hear someone with some fire in their belly tell it like it is. I like people who have an opinion that they thought out - people who know why they think the way that they do. I've seen a lot of people in the past week say things like "well....I don't really know that much about politics, but I'm really worried about what I heard about _(insert ridiculous incendiary statement)___ so that's how I'm voting." This of course makes me absolutely insane. So just if you feel like it - here's John Cusack calling it how he sees it right now. I think this is glorious as well. (If I had a copy of the Stake President's talk, I would post that as well)

As I contemplated the real possibility of an Obama victory and listened to right wing pundits revise history still unfolding, I thought of titles for this blog:

"Neocon Logic: This Statement is Untrue"
"The Modern Free Market System is False But a New Revelation Shall Come"
" They Would Feast on Themselves: All the Money's Gone, Nowhere to Go"
I decided on:
"No Currency Left to Buy the Big Lies"

In the pre-capitalist reality, James Madison said when he put power in the hands of the business elite, he would be entrusting "enlightened statesmen and benevolent philosophers who would devote themselves to the welfare of all."

Clearly, he believed this statement in the way I guess some modern Republicans do. The only problem was that he eventually realized this didn't work and in 1792, disillusioned and worried about the democratic experiment, condemned what he called "the daring depravity of the times." He went on to denounce the business elites who, given ultimate power, "become tools and tyrants of government...they overwhelm government with their powers and combinations and are bribed by its largesse." That's how he perceived the system he had helped design. In 2008, this is an apt description of the Republican relationship to government and power.

Finally, some blue light, tectonic plate shifts, a sea change, we hear... a wave of despair carrying us to a new place. The bastards are finally meeting their grisly ends and will be discarded and abandoned as men come to power who will actually try to govern. I know we're supposed to be civil but I'm not a real believer in this method when dealing with crimes.

What does the sea change mean? How can we help people understand what is happening and help them contextualize it?

First the past: Senator McCain, Governor Palin and assorted surrogates are delusional and breathtakingly corrupt. They disgrace themselves and their country as they lie, smear, slur and write it off as political manner.

Yet the creeping truth must frighten them late at night: there is no currency left to buy the big lies.

There is no more money left to loan or borrow the big lies or to sell them. No more money left to pay off the debt, the wreckage in the wake. The orgy of excess has drained every bottle, smashed the furniture and left the cupboards bare. All that's left is derivative debts -- bets between liars and lies. Trillions of dollars. It turned capitalism into a Ponzi scheme for trading worthless paper. No real value anywhere. No matter how much money Ben Bernanke prints.

We are asked to stand over the abyss and experience our own destruction as another political game show -- just another surreal horse race. We watch millionaires and paid Republican hacks appear on television yelling "Socialist!" at Obama as if the Bolsheviks are coming to rape our daughters. These are the same people who oversaw the greatest upward redistribution of wealth in the history of this country. The same people who, through general lawlessness and a privatization frenzy, succeeded in shredding the Constitution, turning war, illegal domestic spying, security, border patrol, interrogation, and even torture into profitable industries gorging on the state.

So define the big lie: free marketers want free markets. Not so, the facts say. They are the biggest welfare freaks on the planet.

These men and keepers of the faith would lecture us with a straight face on the evil socialists/ communists/terrorists /vampires/space aliens who would dare "redistribute wealth" by amending the tax code. Two wars and the only shared sacrifice they want is more tax cuts for the rich and for the U.S. citizenry to continue shopping. As Sidney Falco said, you gotta give it to them, their gall is gorgeous.

If we stay the course, we are told, we will finally, one day, reach that shining city on a hill, the free market-based fundamentalist utopia. (Hyper link black mass) Even though all evidence points the other way, we should listen, reason, step back and watch them as they devour what's left of the government. They will feast on themselves -- the feast of carrion the Book of Revelation tells us -- but I digress, sort of. It's over. This would be a great system if there were no human beings.

Mathematical realism. Eat what you kill. The bottom line. Greed is good. Graphs and flow charts and metrics for success. All social organization is based on profit as the unifying force and engine of the common good and even social justice; worship the market, even as you corrupt it.

Our perfect system will provide for all.

And yet Wall Street cripples America and the world because it won't adhere to the same rules it says we must obey for the good of freedom. Because reality won't be a slave to their machine.

And so this is how we can rationalize privatizing war. At last look, with 630 corporations like Blackwater and Halliburton getting 40% of the $2 billion spent each week in Iraq, no one can doubt the corporatist dominance of the war machine.

Mathematically, the market crash shouldn't have happened according to their system, but human feelings make panic and panic cannot be calculated. I would bet that someday someone will discover that math adheres to a quantum reality: the participants and the observers affect the outcome. I digress again. But not really.

Instead of an international consensus based on trust and global community, the Neocons say trust no one, need no one, ask no one. Rigged, "open" markets are created at the barrel of a gun after bombing a country. We must all bow to the market.

Collapse, chaos, lawlessness. And even the market voted with its feet.

The era of market idolatry is over.

This is the end of Milton Friedman, Reaganomics and supply-side theory. This ideology has never been about free markets but a fundamentalist vision that is a cover for naked aggression and a social contract based on fear and greed. The government's job is to create optimal conditions for corporate profit, to privatize everything in sight and to sell off its own body parts. To literally devour itself.

So we have laws that allow borrowing money against derivatives -- basically a bet between two people who create nothing without collateral. They leveraged the public financial health on something you wouldn't be allowed to do in Vegas. It illustrates the corruption that has become institutionalized through deregulation and a culture of predatory greed. Alan Greenspan testified that he was shocked: business didn't regulate itself. The common good was not achieved by greed. Naomi Klein read him the definition of crony capitalism and asked if it fit the description of the Bush administration's relationship to its favorite corporations.

I suppose he was shocked about that too. His testimony was incredible and felt like it was coated in lies or at least standing deeply in their shadows. But one doesn't doubt him as a true believer, absolved of messy feelings of collective responsibility. We made him a high priest even though we saw the suffering and the cruelty of the system.

The final irony of the free-market Darwinist model is instead of the strongest and best surviving, it's really the weakest and the worst. From a moral and spiritual point of view this is hardly in doubt. See George Bush. The gospel he purports to serve tells us this but perhaps he saw Christ as a conqueror. I've always doubted men who call themselves Christians who live by the law of the jungle. The gospels, the Koran and the Torah make no bones about it: wealth is not strength; power often represents not the brightest and the best but the weakest and worst. The beast in the Book of Revelation is not a horn-rimmed devil but Rome. Empire. Any empire. Every empire.

As Bush leaves office, the real truth is this: the new economies of the world disprove everything he ever said. Apparently that doesn't matter.

Neoconservatives will lie in the weeds and gather forces, the same players in a revolving door. They want back in and if history has proved anything, worshiping the markets is not enough. We must actually kill to feed them. A horrible cross-pollination of fundamentalism, dementia and market fever has turned America into a willing enabler of corporate cannibalism. Nothing else to call it when murder is seen as a legitimate extension of economic policy. Preemptive war is not only justified but openly referred to as a market opportunity. The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. As we look out at the wreckage -- world economies collapsing, nationalized banks and a complete loss of trust -- we can see the hypocrisy as all are revealed as true socialists on the way down, crying in their scotch and Ambien as they run to the state for cover.

Many, like the Financial Times, endorse Obama. But let's remember when the F.T. and the Wall Street Journal talked glowingly and starry-eyed about the "Baghdad Boom" -- as horrifying a moniker as Shock and Awe. It was not the site of a gold rush, it was the sight of massacre and armed robbery. Now these men jump like rats off a death ship but don't be fooled. Francis Fukuyama and company will just lay low, regroup and rebrand. They speak openly about such things, beaten but unbowed, with no moral connection to the fiasco they have fostered. They speak as passing spectators watching the Weather Channel, (see Frum, Crystal, Brooks and all the rest), rather than intellectual architects, defenders, and foot soldiers in an illegal war and the thirty-five year assault on the New Deal.

As we help Obama try to implement another New Deal, I asked Naomi Klein about the parallels to The Shock Doctrine as it's polar opposite. She told me:

"I have been talking about the need for a progressive shock doctrine in speeches a lot. I call it disaster populism and the key difference is democracy. The right has been using shocks to suspend and sidestep democracy, declaring states of emergency and the progressive use of shock to enlarge and deepen the democratic space to bring more people into the political process. This is why it is important to remember that the New Deal did not come only from kindly elites handing it down from on high, but also because those elites were under massive popular pressure from below. We can all use shock and crisis to move the political direction of the country, but the progressive route is a democratic one, the right is an authoritarian one, even if it takes place within an electoral democracy."

The real challenge is to erase the delusion that greed equals freedom and prosperity, let alone the hideous lie that it somehow spreads justice. Amazingly, we are asked to listen to this gibberish in political life no matter how high the bile rises.

Many believe economies must serve humanity and not the other way around. Economies must make a moral connection to the republic. Brace yourselves free marketers: the quality of economic and human transactions will have to take priority over money. Faith and hope have to manifest in the social transactions we make.

A new social contract could be coming based on a real currency my friend Kevin McCabe calls the currency of grace. It is a currency of economic fairness and institutionalizing concepts of shared responsibility; a currency based on the gold standard that every human has value and should be awarded respect and opportunity, the dignity that comes from human beings protecting each other from the values and ideals of a Darwinist world. Its spirit is in Keynesian economics, a mixed economy with regulated markets and social spending. In the new era, we must remove fundamentalist right wing economists as the high priests and kings. Their ideology will stay dead only if we remain vigilant and call things what they are. It's a battle for the idea of America and it's just beginning if Senator Obama becomes president.

We should worship God if we want to, not the markets.


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