Game Of Clones

IMG_0260I went out to eat a few nights ago. Sat down with three friends, in a fairly decent restaurant near my home in San Jose CA. We began chatting, as most mature people would at a table for four adorned with napkins, silverware and exquisite menus, and then I looked right. There, right in front of my eyes was a scene that I can only describe as very 2015 ish! Sad in some ways, shocking in others. All in all, it just summed up what we, as society, have become. Two adults, one on an iPhone, one on a Galaxy S5, and two kids, both on iPads, all texting, playing games or doing whatever one does on these devices, NONE talking to anyone at the table. A family, obviously out to enjoy a very nice dinner, communicating only with the plastic electronic device sitting in front of their faces, and not with one another. This scene just begged for a blog, it poured out the sadness in what I believe we should call ‘reverse’ evolution, and it just smacked of what we have now done to family life as a whole.

I recall two years or so ago, my daughter was in her room and she texted me to let me know she was ready to eat. Her room was less than 20 feet from where I was standing cooking her lunch, and yet she couldn’t be bothered to open the door and speak to me face to face, she had to text. It was that very day that I recall thinking, “we have a serious problem here”, and frankly, I have been proven correct in the worst way possible. After eating and watching the family I mentioned earlier, I needed to go to the Apple store to pick up an adaptor for my computer. Walking in, the next day, which was Easter Sunday, I was confronted by a bank of kids, all lined up at the mahogany tables Apple stores use to display all their goodies, hands on any iPad, iPhone or Mac they could find, battling one another for screen supremacy while their adult parents either perused the store or sought out tuition on how to eventually beat their kids at the very same games in which they were now fully engrossed.  Once again, I was flabbergasted. Bring the kids to a store, dump them and let them sit all afternoon, hours upon hours of wasted time playing meaningless games while the sun was out and crying for baseball, soccer or any other sport to be played in clean fresh air instead of sitting in that musty crowded atmosphere the Apple store provided.

You’ll see in the pictures an older lady and two kids. I asked her, after taking that shot, what she thought of the situation where she had the kids in the store playing games and not outside where we all used to enjoy our fresh air and physical activity. She also gave me permission to publish the picture along with her comments. It turned out she was their grandmother, even though she looked so young when I talked to her up close and personal. She was embarrassed. I explained what Id’ seen in the restaurant the day before and she whole heartedly agreed with me that we, as society, have become lazy and completely self-dependent on ridiculous devices that have taken away all need for conversation or intimate communication. She even admitted that she rarely called anyone on her phone anymore, preferring the art of texting to that of speech. Pathetic, I told her, and she agreed.

IMG_0262And then there were the two little boys, abandoned by mum and dad, who ironically it turned out, were next door eating in a restaurant while to boys played games for free in the Apple store. Just another indictment on how pathetic we have become. Imagine 20 years ago leaving your kids in a separate store while you went to eat? You would have been jailed for child abuse not applauded for ingenuity! According to the staff inside that store, these two boys had been there over an hour and this had not been the first time their parents had left them there! It seemed to be a regular occurrence, both kids being well-known to the employees that patrolled the aisles filled with those magical devices.

What have we done? That’s the question? We’ve filled our lives with buttons, gadgets, and useless information. We have overloaded not only our memory sticks, but our desire for the latest greatest device we can find that will eventually cut us off from the rest of the normal world. When I go to Hong Kong or to China, to the UK or any other country in Europe, to Australia and beyond, I see nothing but tens of millions of adults and children walking the streets, devices pointed out front of their texting bodies, caring little for the throngs walking in front of them. They bump, the dodge and they swerve from out to in and in to out, just incase they miss a character on the meaningless text conversations they are having with their friends. This needs to stop, but it won’t! People need to revert to calling and not texting, but they won’t. The art of writing is gone, and that’s sad. The art of conversation has been condemned to the annuls of the now extinct 20th century, a mere fifteen years in the past. What lies in our future? A dumb, mind numbing populous who talk live to no one and can type at 200 words per minute. And one needs to ask oneself, where will it all end? Probably in an Apple store, where Barak Obama will be playing a video game of nuclear destruction with Putin, a game where no one will win and no one will die, but again, no one will ever know because no one will ever discuss it in person!

 

Yep, Here They Come

One by one now they will answer that call. The call of insincerity, the call to power, a call to govern and be remembered as the one and only President of the United States. The question is, who are they and why should we believe they will be any better that the lame duck we have at this present time? We all know who Hillary is, and bar an international incident where she shoves her private Blackberry up Putin’s arse, (we all live in hope), we know she will run in 2016. But what about the other side, the good guys with all the bad ideas? They think they know better, they think Obama’s inconsistent government has given them an opportunity to reform our once proud country. Are they right? Only time will tell, but if Jeb or Rand or Chris, et al, decide this job is for them, will they too end up grey, battered and bruised and also lame? Of course they will. That’s the unfortunate way this country runs. Get in, get out, build your library and walk into a sunset, often clouded with the pollution of poor decision-making and bad judgement, to make over $100,000 per speech at dinners and fund-raisers. Oh how stupid we all are.

They say downloadmore than 6 will throw their hats in for the Republican nomination, and I really think it will be 8 or more. The problem is, are any of them truly worthy of that nomination? If we look back in anger at those who we have voted for in the past, other than Clinton, perhaps Reagan, have we at all been impressed with anything to have come out of such closely fought elections over the past 50 years? Not me. I think each President has brought about his own demise through insincerity, inaction and a great inability to communicate with modern society. Look at Sen. Cruz for example. He’s led off the flurry that is sure to follow with his right-wing Christian beliefs, all wrapped up in a nice bow called elitism. The man who stood for 21 hours reading Green Eggs and Ham now wants to negotiate Middle East peace? Come on Sen. Cruz, get a grip. Go back to Texas or where ever it is you are from and get a proper job. Then you have Gov Christie. Surely, and I mean this sincerely and without bias, his obesity and his desire to kiss Jerry Jones at every opportunity will lead to an instant demise should he win the country over? The fact of the matter is, there is no outstanding candidate on the Republican side who would stand a chance against Hillary or any of her cohorts.

So here we go, it’s March 2015, we have 18 months to sit and listen to all this crap, to watch billions of dollars get washed down a drain called popular misconception and at the end of the day what happens? We get a man or a woman, (and I pray this time we get someone who can make a decision), who will take office, become older and grayer, do very little outside of raising more money for the next time an election comes round and then, as I so eloquently put it, fuck off from whence he or she came. Do me a favor, don’t watch, don’t listen, don’t vote and then don’t complain, because if you do, you are just pandering to their every desire and their very inflated alter ego’s, an ego which is turbo charged until they too end up in a gutter like the rest of us, complaining that it wasn’t their fault defeat landed right bang smack in the middle of their total inadequacy to relate to what is really going on in the United States of America. They have no fucking clue, they never will have and the sad thing is, they don’t care, none of them, not one. We are alone people. Not one of our current or future politicians care about you or me. They are all self-centered, power grabbing ego maniacs who are so out of touch with modern-day society that if a solution stared them right in their own face they’s ignore it in favor of deferring to another non answer.

The time is now. Let’s change America. Let’s not give any of this moronic crowd the benefit of the doubt. They are all wankers, each and every one. Let’s try to find someone, anyone, who can stand up and say quite honestly, “I am one of you!” I know it’s an unlikely scenario, but we have to try. Fill the position with normality for once or I’m telling you, in four years, eight years and even sixteen years from now, we will be so much worse of then we are today.

Rant over! I am off to watch Obama play golf yet again!

Applaud, But Only If It Seems Politically Correct

downloadDid you watch the Oscar ceremony? You did? Well you were in the minority. With its lowest viewing figures in more than a decade, is it any wonder people are turning off from a show that is filled with self-centered egotistical has beens, wanna be’s and cannot be’s? Isn’t it sad that so many of us put so much faith and so many hours into lauding those who are mostly wealthy beyond belief, placed high up on a social pedestal because of their ability to portray someone else’s misery on a screen where they can become larger than life itself and more endearing than an ice-cold bottle of beer on a scorching hot day in the desert. Hasn’t it become all too boring, too predictable and too politically correct? Is it now all about color, race, religion and patriotism? Have the actors themselves become too wrapped up in their own image of self-importance, their own beliefs and most importantly their own inability to be themselves and not who they think we would like them to be?

After watching some of the show on Sunday, what annoyed me most, other than the continual commercial breaks, expected of course because this is America, was the incessant mild applause for the movies and the actors who appeared in those movies, which were seemingly politically correct. Selma, a movie that has been proven to be mostly inaccurate because of the relationship between MLK and President Johnson, shown as one of conflict when historically documented as exactly the opposite, nominated for very few awards and yet there we sat, watching its lead actor cry as the theme song from the movie was performed with gusto by John Legend, some rapper guy and a choir. Overwhelming and outstanding were just two adjectives that seemed appropriate in a performance that stole the show, other than Lady Gaga, who had yet to entertain. My point is, why do all those in attendance, well not all, but most, feel a requirement to show their emotion to a cause they have little or nothing to do with and which will not rear its head in their lives ever again? Why are these actors so consumed by showing support to what they think is correctness, when quite frankly they really don’t care? If you are black, if you have ALS, if you have Alzheimer’s, or if you truly want to be a Birdman, then yes, cry away when it’s your turn, but please don’t bawl or applaud each and every time a simple mention of that movie is brought up on-screen. Not only is it frustrating, annoying and disconcerting, it’s just bloody stupid.

Go home to your trillions, billions or whatever it is you have. Think about those who have noting, or those who have so much less than you have. Don’t tell me that women deserve equal pay when you are earning 20 times what the average woman is earning. Keep your political views to yourself, we all know what’s going on in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Let me watch the news ON the news and NOT on the Oscars. I don’t care if you’re Mexican, Polish, Japanese or from the moon. Get up, thank your mum and dad, your kids, your wife and or your mistress, and then get off. Don’t come back, unless you’re fortunate enough to win another award, and please, please wear something that covers up your tits and your bum! It’s just annoying to look again and again at fake boobs, paid for in the hope that it can extend a career. That’s why Jack Nicholson and John Wayne and Kevin Spacey were great. They were themselves, no additions. Meryl Streep is natural, unblemished by surgeries, as far as I am aware, and look what she’s done!

It’s over for another year, the audience was down, the humor was crap, but the host, again, in my opinion, was superb. Kudos to NPH, he was excellent. Highly articulate, funny at times and took the show to another level not seen since the days of Billy Crystal. To those who won, congratulations. To those who lost, too bad. To those who weren’t nominated? What the fuck were you doing there in the first place and finally to those who applauded again and again for the reasons already mentioned above? Go get a proper job earning proper money and then tell me who you’re going to clap for!

Presidents Day

IMG_0088It’s Presidents day, and it’s George Washington’s birthday! Must be time to buy a new Honda, Nissan or some other brand of vehicle being continually advertised on television. Or perhaps it’s time for that new mattress, you know, the one with numbers or the one from that company who have the train shooting endlessly up and down their tag line which states they are employee owned. All steeply marked down to coincide with Presidents day, although most of those who advertise such marvelous discounts have been doing so since January 29th and will probably do so until Feb 28th! Or maybe it’s just time to sit down and reflect on whether having a president, indeed having any form of our current government is at all helpful or necessary at all in making our minds up to purchase the luxury goods we all crave.

Celebrating George Washington is one thing, but to celebrate all Presidents on the same day? What did we do to deserve such a feast of merriment? Why are Presidents I’ve never heard of, such as Cleveland, Harrison, Garfield and Harrison, who I’m sure all played their part in shaping this nation, and who are rarely, if ever, mentioned on any TV or radio show I watch or listen to, having their names remotely connected with such an esteem character as GW? Surely we’ve got it all wrong? In my opinion, the only Presidents who matter are Washington, because he was the first, and Obama, because he’s the latest. If Jimmy Carter was that great, then why not take a holiday on October 1st? That way, Toyota, Sleep Train et al, can advertise deep discounts more than 45 times per year, presuming no two past presidents share the same birthday. Oh, hang on, Toyota and their cohorts already do try to entice us into their showrooms 52 weeks a year with never-ending sales or price reductions! Fuck it, who needs a President anyway?

It’s back to what I was stating when I opened up this debate, today is just an excuse to have a day off. How many of you out there are actually working? Probably most of you, and in that case, how many cars can Honda actually hope to sell? Perhaps that’s why the incentive’s are so deep? Get them out of work and into the showroom so they can all say, “I dogged off work to buy my new wheels!” OR, “I’m shagging the wife in out new sleep number bed tonight, she’s the hard side and when I’m done, I’ll be soft!” Whatever the deal, make sure you have a nice day. For those of you on the East coast, I am sorry, but why the fuck would you ever want to live there? 20 feet of snow and more to come? It’s 80 here, yes 80! No wonder our taxes are so high and no wonder there’s no doubt that global warming is going to make billions homeless or dead within 100 years. But that’s OK, we can still look forward to more stellar car buying deals or incredible mattress offers as we all burn in Hell and Presidents day rolls on throughout the annals of time.

Strange People I Meet.

William is Asian, Hong Kong being his place of birth, although upon the completion of our first piece of conversation, it seems he’s a bit of a Heinz 57. Born in China, moved to South America then to Europe then to Hong Kong and eventually ending up in Washington State, here in the good old US of A. William is by trade a geologist, someone who knows the lay of the land, how it’s constructed, how it was formed and really in all honesty he should know how to navigate this land he so loves. Well, he does know his stuff. After conversing for some 30 mins, even though he was over an hour late for our meeting, he proved conclusively to me that the glaciers came and created the North West of the United States, 15,000 years ago, then melted, even though they were over 3000 feet thick at that time, taking 2000 years to dissipate and retreat to the Arctic, where they now lie in wait for the guaranteed melt that is coming. He also insisted that once all our ice pack melts, our oceans will rise 267 feet, killing or making homeless, 2 to 3 billion humans. As I sat listening to this gibberish, all that concerned me was the manner in which he took his glasses off, then without notice brought all his documentation within 2 inches of his eyes and began to read silently as if praying. He was then suddenly awoken from this study only to begin spouting more useless statistics about our planet.

The reason William had shown up in the first place was to inspect a piece of land that a friend of mine was having issues with. It had willingly subsided 4 feet in the past three weeks, and William had been summoned to make sure that this unwanted hole was nothing more than an eyesore and not something that warranted more concern than a few buckets of sand, some top soil and seed to make it all better. However, the realtor who’d ordered William to appear, became concerned just about an hour earlier when William had called to say he was stuck in a field. “Stuck in a field?” she’s shouted as she’d released her grip on a cell phone that I believed was about to be thrown across my friends lawn, while rolling her eyes as if to say, “what an idiot!” Yes, he’d confirmed that he’d taken the wrong road and was now firmly entrenched in a field, some 5 miles from the correct address, unable to move his car, getting wetter and wetter by the minute in the pouring rain and pleading, yes pleading for someone to come and get him. Lisa obliged, traipsing over hills and dales to collect William and bring him to the meeting. After an hour with us, William, now suitably refreshed, decided to start calling local towing companies to see if anyone on this Island, yes Island (I forgot to mention I was on a remote Island) would come and assist. 20 calls later, without losing his sense of humor, at last, someone kindly obliged. I asked him as he was leaving, “William, you’re a geologist, how can a geologist not know that you can get stuck in mud when it’s pouring rain and there’s no gravel or road surface for the car tires to grip?” He took his glasses off slowly and looked at me. He said, with a grand smile cut across his aging features, “Alan, you should never let a geologist drive your car” “Why’s that?” I asked, “because they always get hammered and stoned!”

Lisa drove him back and three hours later he got out the field and made it back to town. William was knowledgable, though very strange. Lisa was pissed, she’d lost a whole day, and my buddy, the guy with the land subsidence issue? Well, he’s still got his hole in the garden but he now knows that glaciers were there 15,000 years ago, that the ice wall was 3000ft thick and that eventually his place on this island will be 40 feet underwater, though he’ll be long gone by then as will William!

Too Many To Count

IMG_0352Yesterday was warm, around 68 degrees here in San Jose, not a bad day to be out in shorts and a tee-shirt? Well the days might be warm, but the evenings are certainly winter cool, not cold, just cool. Ideal conditions of you have a home to go to, turning on the heat as you walk in through the front door after a long day at work, ready, willing and able to put the stove on, or perhaps just the microwave, so that you might enjoy your favorite meal in the comfort of your favorite arm-chair in the company of your favorite lover or with your favorite pet by your side.

For those who are homeless however, last night was yet another slog to get in line at the Home First Boccardo center in San Jose to guarantee a bed and a hot meal. And it’s to that very same center that I once again set off around 4 PM to help Chef Diane serve more than 300 starving souls, who, unlike you or I, have absolutely nothing in their lives except the misery and depression that being homeless brings.

The line for beds was out the front door and into the street, and as I parked my car I could see that this was going to be a night unlike any other that I had seen before when volunteering at Boccardo. I’ve been going there for years now, through thick and thin, cold and warm, but never have I seen a line like the one I saw last night. Was it because ‘the jungle’ off CA 87 had been closed? Always a resting place in the past for refugees of this continual homeless crisis we can never seem to fix, now closed due to pressure from council members who wanted them out. Was it because there was spaghetti cooking inside the kitchen run by Miss Diane and word had spread that tonight dinner would be delicious? Or perhaps it was just that we cannot control a situation that is out of control and the sad facts are it won’t get any better soon.

Having gone into the kitchen to assist, Diane informed me that she was short of volunteers and that during the winter months most of those who come to help serve and prepare seem to just vanish. With gloves and apron in place, desert carved and plated, peas and salad and warm bread all ready to be dished out, the spaghetti would not be short of company tonight.

Then the chaos began. One after another, an endless line of deprivation strolled expectantly into the dining hall. Some were pleasant, others ungrateful, the usual mix which I’ve seen many times before. Some wanted no meat, some no tomatoes and some only chocolate for desert. Whatever their poison, Miss Diane controlled the line with her usual dignified authoritarian energy, pushing those who dithered towards a table that bore empty seats, and those who were perhaps more decisive and bold when asking for extra food, towards the exit. She’s a real trooper and still, to this day, I have no idea how she and the rest of her staff cope with this never-ending, depressing situation day in and day out.

When you get home from work tonight, think about that line. It will be there for sure, just like it is every night, 300 souls with their hands out looking for assistance and receiving it courtesy of those who donate their lives to the betterment of others. Give up some of your time if you can and come and help Diane and the rest of this very dedicated team. They will make you welcome and you will make their day.

 

That’s Not Him

While celebrating a birthday this past week, I met a guy I thought I knew. Perhaps I was wrong.

That’s Not Him

I’ve looked, day in day out, following his progress

Years of checking each and every inch

Some good, some bad, all in the same mirror

Looking for change and finding none, then finding too much

Happiness foiled by truth and certainty

Brush strokes from a God that have become very unflattering

I’ve looked and I’ve looked, and I’m sure that’s not him

 

Similarities to the past, seen in pictures alone

Images spread across a mind that craves perfection

Each dent, each spot, each blemish, discarded with the utmost contempt

Arriving at one conclusion supported by undisputable evidence

Yesterday having gone and tomorrow arriving all too soon

Certain that face might one day come back

Looking again and again, convinced that’s not him

 

Double take, triple take, too many takes to count

Each one, just confirmation of time outrunning conceit

And then, just today, the day of all days, submission

Realization that this must be him and him alone

Standing open mouthed with a closed mind and a very mild grin

Seeing only the worst of the best and the rest of the worst

That’s not him, it’s really not him, but truthfully it really is