Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Should I be honest? Maybe being honest is really my way of meeting others' needs and not my own. Maybe being honest is not really me, but rather the shame and blame that culture is putting on me. After all, what if being honest is really not being honest and I have to suffer consequences that are not fair.

Maybe I need to see my therapist, look at the context of it all and see if I need a more healthy perspective. On the other hand, I could also hire a reputation manager. That way I could put it all in the  hands of a professional. I could be honest but not too honest. i would get the credit for being honest, but be protected from any consequences. I could also hire a good lawyer. Th t way h/she could write my statement of honesty. He could think for me and feel for me, and I'm off the hook.

Now I feel better.

Monday, May 30, 2016


The cosmos unfolds as it must according to the physical laws it created for itself in its earliest seconds. When it stumbles into life, it accepts randomness, probability and improbability, and keeps on going.

Human life stories the cosmos. It slathers on its mythologies, its spiritual narratives, its dreams, its fantasies, its confessions, its yearnings--all its cultural stories in text, sound and image. All chasing after meaning.

Evolution flows inexorably, heedless of meaning, heedless of beauty, heedless of all these human concoctions, not showing the least pride in the creations of its own creation.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

How can a world hold together...

How can a world hold together with...

So many nations in crisis

So many people displaced: refugees, political prisoners, homeless, mentally ill

So many young people without jobs or hope

So much endemic hatred

So much wealth concentrated in ways that make it socially useless

So much ego driven will to power

So much complacency

How can such a world hold together?

Friday, May 27, 2016


In a world of confounding and challenging and not easily accessible contemporary art, of limited educational experiences with art, of few opportunities to engage the artists who make the art, the result is art lite.

--an evening of making a cheesy painting with friends while drinking champagne

--adult coloring books

--glittery openings around the art where you get to be seen but don't actually have to engage the art

--museum events where the art is wallpaper and the real attractions are the DJ's and the dancing

--TV dramas and commercials where art creates classy ambience but nobody is actually looking at it

Art lite.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Contemporary art

At no time in the history of art has art been so eclectic, so confounding, so socially conscious, so self absorbed, so innovative, so esoteric, so present, so misunderstood. Art is simultaneously local and global. Media are propelling artists to worldwide fame. Great amounts of money are being spent on mounting large exhibitions. Great amounts of money are being spent worldwide on new museums of contemporary art and additions to existing buildings. contemporary works are going for astounding prices as wealthy collectors build significant collections. As more museums of contemporary art offer free admission, attendance increases.

Yet for most practicing professional artists it is a struggle to make a living. The gap between the struggling artist and the highly successful artist is much like that between the 1% and the 99%. Many people are clueless and suspicious of contemporary art. Art is trivialized in the school curriculum. the art of right now can be as distant as the art of the distant past.

There has been no time for contemporary art to become art history. It is hard to make coherent sense of and so hard to manage. But it is the art of our time, expressed with power, diversity, commitment and soul.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The 7 deadly contemporary sins

1.   Convenience

2.   Consumerism

3.   Incivility

4.   Narcissism

5.   Materialism

6.   Ignorance

7.   Busyness

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


I like dirt under my fingernails
From my hands in the cool earth
Uprooting grass and planting zinnias.
I like dirt under my fingernails
Just because it is dirt
Like the dirt I ate as a child
To ward off future infections.
I like dirt under my fingernails
Because when I'm stuck in my box of an office
It reminds me of where I came from
And where I will surely go.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A curmudgeonly look at the Rio olympics

--Corruption in the Brazilian government, corruption in the Olympic organization, polluted water, uncompleted venues, poverty all around, Zika virus. Let the games begin.

--Corporate, corporate and more corporate. Money, money and more money. Spectacle, spectacle and more spectacle. Let the games begin.

--Doping, cheating, judge tampering, anything to win. Olympic ideals.

--Countries with great wealth, great opportunities, great training facilities and big populations vs. countries with government sponsored training programs and huge populations vs. small poor countries vs. rich countries with small populations all competing for medals and status and international bragging rights. What happened to good old human achievement.

--Don't forget the condoms.

--"I did my best" gets swamped by " I got the biggest endorsement contract."

--"I'm proud to represent my country, but I also got the biggest endorsement contract."

--Since I can run fast, jump, dive, swim, play soccer, etc., I know I can sell shoes, deodorant, snack foods, and toenail fungus medications like a champion.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


We think of the worst consequences of politics being corruption, nepotism, favoritism, prejudice and discrimination. And they are the things that bubble up in political circumstances.

But, it seems to me, that these are more predictably the kinds of things that come of a narrow view and a narrow experience of the world. People are uncomfortable with the new and the unfamiliar. They want to retreat into their own family, their own race, their own ethnicity, their own whatever. Hence all the negative behaviors noted above.

This is the human tribal instinct. Fear of loss. Fear of change. Fear.

In this world, the small town mentality no longer works. We all belong to a larger human community, whose value is becoming evident, even if slowly and with much resistance.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Did you know?

In America, your chances are greater of being killed by a police officer, a toddler or your own vomit than of being killed by a terrorist.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Beauty?...Who the hell cares.

What is beauty? And who gives a damn about it?

In the flood of images that reaches us each day, we see beauty as prettiness, cuteness, as fashion, glamour, spectacle, color, sexual attraction and more. These are all easy, superficial, seductive, even manipulative. But they aren't beauty.

We don't contemplate beauty. We wear it. We don't expect beauty to lead us to a profound experience. We expect beauty to make the moment pleasant. We don't expect the impact of beauty to linger. We expect a quick hit and to move on. We don't expect beauty to be found deep within us. We expect to create it with airbrushing, adornments and cosmetic procedures.

Beauty is all around if we aren't distracted by its pretenders.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Democracy in America

Democracy in America

We lecture third world counties on the power of democracy. We give them moral, military and financial support to achieve democracy. They struggle to overcome dictatorship, military control and corruption. We expect them to sort out this transition in a matter of a couple of decades at most.ur support is both genuine and out of self-interest.

But what kind of model of democracy are we? We struggle with corruption. We vote at notoriously low rates. We protest but don't have time to get involved or educated in our politics. Public officials are bought by wealthy lobbies and donors. Politicians are too often unfairly protected by the laws they themselves make.

How much absolution can come from us just being flawed human beings? From democracy being a human construction?

The unexpected twists and turns of the current presidential election and the accompanying protests and disruptions are the American equivalent of the mass protests in other countries struggling for democracy.

Democracy in America may be facing itself squarely in the mirror.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A definition of art

Of course, inventing a perfect definition of art is impossible. But trying to invent a perfect definition of art is possible. The effort brings you face-to-face with issues like context, media, culture, style, personal vision, commodity, inclusiveness and more. The process a mirror to your own aesthetics and
your notions of the intent and function of art.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I don't know about you...

I don't know about you, but I have a bad case of the DT's.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Donald Trump...some observations

When does DJT start his efforts to appear more presidential?

Whenever there is criticism of him, he simply denies it. I could never do something like that. And moves on. Even if the circumstances are documented in print or film.

He took the debates down to the level of street fighting. The news media reveled in it. Almost no one called on him to provide policies, substance and justification. The media failed again.

His followers were so angry and so desperate that they threw logic out the window for promises that are empty and vague.

Being an effective leader is more than making deals. Especially when those deals were for personal profit and not the public good.

He has never been a public servant. Doesn't know what it means to make the kind of sacrifices that requires.

Most great leaders have faced personal challenges (e.g. a wealthy Kennedy in the military) that have built character. DJT never has.

He is egotistical. Listen to him. What he says is not a strategy. It's him unadulterated and inarticulate. But he's smart, and that kind of smart combined with a monstrous ego is disastrous.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A week of questions

Sunday:        Are you authentic?

Monday:       What life experience has given you some wisdom worth giving back?

Tuesday:       Does your work make you more human?

Wednesday:  In what ways are you different now from you 10 years ago?

Thursday:     When are you happiest?

Friday:          How often do you experience the sublime?

Saturday:      Can you capture the moments of peace and calm you require?    

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Skyline Drive

Foliage of myriad greens, browns and yellows
Mist falling into the valleys
Wildflowers dotting the hillsides
Frequent overlooks to stop and gaze
Outcroppings of large boulders
Warm light painted in sheets and splotches
An almost meditative drive

Friday, May 13, 2016

Arlington National Cemetery

There's much that can have an impact on you in this sacred place. For me, it was first of all the rituals. We saw the changing of the guard, a wreath laying ceremony the the funeral procession of an important Marine officer.

The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers is a ritual of precision, order and choreographed movements. The soldiers are dressed immaculately. They march as if they were walking on air. At the actual change, the Staff Sergeant in charge inspects the soldier through a series of discrete and crisp movements. The skill and commitment of all involved hallows the monument.

In the changing of the wreath, one wreath is removed with care and the civilian family is escorted forward with the new wreath. Again great care and respect.

The funeral caisson of the Marine officer was pulled by six white horses. It followed behind a full size band in uniform and a full attachment of Marines in uniform. There are 20-30 funerals at Arlington each day, though not all are this elaborate. During a funeral, all of the tour buses stop and all visitors are asked to keep silence.

One last special experience was to hear taps played--by a young woman soldier.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Gettysburg battlefield

Gettysburg is a quite small town and had a population of only 2400 during the days of the battle. That was 5 military for each towns person. It was the towns people who had to bear the brunt of caring for the wounded in makeshift hospitals. The vastness of the battlefield overwhelmed the town, and cannon could be heard many miles away.

Today you can drive the battlefield, with or without a hired guide. You can tour by bus, carriage, horse or segway. The guides are registered and very knowledgeable. The horseback tour crosses the battlefield, and the road basically surrounds it. Along the rode are astonishing number of monuments of different sizes and shapes. Most are stone and bronze, and they memorialize the fallen of the various states and military groupings who participated. The monuments often relate the number of soldiers who died, were wounded and were missing as well and the number of horses killed. Periodically there are walkup towers that allow for a panoramic view of the battlefield.

This was a bloody and brutal battle, but a seminal one for the war. After Gettysburg, Lee was mostly on the defensive heading toward Appamatox. The battle had its myriad stories around its officers, soldiers and events. Big decisions, small decisions and poor decisions all added to the final result. Sometimes there were long periods of strategy and maneuvering. Sometimes a matter of a few minutes was crucial to the success of the campaign.

War is hell. It surely was for the men who fought at Gettysburg. Forced marches, lack of food and water, horrid summer weather, the reality of what was happening around them must have all seemed unbearable. But they did it. And I couldn't help thinking of the battlefields of the World Wars and even today of Aleppo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Some Gettysburg facts:

--only a third of the dead died on the battlefield, the other two thirds died in the hospitals

--memorials exist to both Union and Confederate dead from the various states that contributed to the battles

--the women of Gettysburg were the nurses since they had the most medical knowledge, often as much knowledge as the doctors

--it took 300 tons of food to feed General Lee's army

--young soldiers at times had to do forced marches of more than 26 miles (a marathon) in a day

--for some of the soldiers, it was their first time on a battlefield

--a large cannon shell casing could contain numerous iron balls, each capable of going through as many as 10 men

--when gunfire began, if there was no wind to blow away the smoke, soldiers often couldn't tell who they were shooting at

Monday, May 9, 2016

Marketing in America

Rules for marketing in America:

--Lust sells.

--When all else fails...spectacle.

--Use sophisticated psychology.

--Underestimate the intelligence of your audience.

--Find a celebrity willing to lie for your product.

--Emotion before information.

--Humor is both entertainment and distraction.

--Make wants seem like needs.


On a weeklong vacation. Blogs spotty. Please stay with me. Thanks.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Soap opera

Each of us is birthed right into a raging soap opera. It's our formative years of life, and we know nothing of who loves whom, who hates whom, who's jealous of whom, who carries ancient grudges, who we can depend on, who we can't, who's got the secrets, who's always ready to gossip.

We get hugged by some, ignored by others, showered with gifts by some, forgotten by others. In all kinds of ways we are unwitting players in these adult dramas. But these adult dramas are the very things that form us as adults.

For some, this soap opera is an ongoing experience, episode after predictable episode. It's never to be escaped, trapped in inevitability. But but for others who can step outside of themselves, being formed is not being fixed. The script can be rewritten.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Today's news

What do you do when today's newspaper informs you that;

--The Calvin Klein Collection offers an aged denim jacket for $995

--Men's chest hair is not in and waxed chests are out

--Four toddlers in a week kill themselves with guns

--You can take an alligator wrestling course in Colorado for $100

--Olympic water athletes will be expected to compete in polluted waters off Rio de Janiero

--A symphony orchestra performed Bach in a Roman ampitheater amidst ruins destroyed by the Taliban

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Evolution tells us that it's taken 15 billion years for us humans to get to this point. Maybe in another
15 billion years we can learn what love is and how to practice it fully.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Listen to the great artists and poets. Because they listen to the world with their whole selves. With the painful honesty that can't lie.

Trump train

The Trump train is about to arrive at the RNC station. This man appeals to the frustrations of the American people at their most mean spirited, thuggish, name calling, crude and demeaning way. His effort to act more presidential has never materialized. He has never in his life experienced the struggles of poor and middle class people. He has employed lawyers to use the bankruptcy laws to skirt his obligations, maintain his billions and never fully payback his losses. How many jobs were lost by his bankruptcies and international dealings. His deals with foreign governments were for his profits, for his benefit.

In his speeches he is good at touching the worst natures of those he proposes to represent. But he rarely appeals to the natures that will make a fairer and more just America. He is a demigogue who puts ego above all else. When has he given a substantive speech? When has he demonstrated he knows anything about complex national and international issues? How often has he deflected discussion of relevant issues by name calling and emotional outbursts?

This man is scary because he is smart with an ego that stifles his own conscience.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A flower

Find a flower. Keep looking at it until you are past its prettiness, past its colorfulness, past all its cliched metaphors.

Discover its inherent symmetry and geometry, from petals to leaves. Notice how the leaves are arranged to gather up the sunlight most efficiently. Ask how its seeds are packed for their replicative purposes. Ask what role this flower plays in the ecology of it neighborhood.

You are unfolding the evolutionary decisions nature has made across the eons. Its not just a flower.

Monday, May 2, 2016


Evolution wise, it took us a long time to get out of the pond and onto the mud. Kids love to play in the mud, especially boys on the T-ball field. Slosh around in it, bring it into the house, wear it. The number of adult mudders is growing in the mudder competition obstacle courses.

I like mud myself. When I garden, I don't usually wear gloves. I like to dig into the dirt with my hands, tussle with the weeds, press the new plants into the ground and tamp them down. I can't imagine not "getting my hands dirty," as the saying goes, especially in this world of so much touch-based technology. Just to come in after hours playing in the mud and wash my hands with lava soap. Feels great.

Mud is good for the hands, good for the heart, good for the head, good for the soul.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How to respond

If they try their best to love us, that should be enough.

If they grieve in the way they know, we should be content.

If they run the race with their best effort, their finish should be first place to us.

If they think it’s time to go, we should let them leave.

If they want to be themselves, we should remind them of their responsibilities.

If they want to make their own decisions, we should tell them there are consequences.

If they fall. they should know we are a net.

If they leave on the road to healthy adulthood, we have succeeded.