Monthly Archives: June 2011

Syd Lehman Seen Panhandling in Garberville Again

Syd Lehman Seen Panhandling in Garberville, Again!

Why can you never find a cop when you need one?

 

Just look at this bearded lazzarone aggressively panhandling from his embarrassingly old car on Redwood Dr. in downtown Garberville… in the middle of the Rodeo Parade, no less!  While all the floats threw candy to the crowd, this layabout flew his sign, ruining a cherished local event. Get a job, hippie!!!


I Report From the Paris Air Show

A Report From the Paris Air Show

The Future of Air Travel

I took a flight to France last week to attend the Paris Air Show. Not because I’m in the market for an aircraft, or even find them that interesting, but just to get my junk touched.

 

I love Paris, especially in the summertime. While I’m not very good with the language, I always find the French very warm, friendly and welcoming, at least compared to SoHum. Sipping a Pernod at the Brasserie Balzar on Rue des Ecole in my red Nebraska Cornhuskers sweatshirt, I feel completely at home.

 

Qui a laissé que étron dans mon café? “” I hear one patron say to another, motioning towards me.

I smile, wave and respond “Je ne sais pas, comme la plupart des étrons, j’ai été abandonnée par ma mère à la naissance.”

”Et telle une odeur horrible” he continues.

“Vrai”, I say, “Je ne sens rien puisque comme un enfant une fusée a volé jusqu’à mon nez.”  Like I said, I’m not that good with the language, but that seemed to work. I return to my writing. Much as I love France, the French people, and Paris, I have a job to do.

 

Every two years, at the historic airfield where Charles Lindbergh landed the Spirit of St. Louis. Aircraft manufacturers around the world bring their latest creations to dazzle the public and write some contracts. From Mercedes’ newest corporate helicopter, to the giants of the skies from Boeing and Airbus, at the Paris Air Show we see the future of air travel on display. At least a future they’d like us to believe.

 

From what I saw at the Paris Air Show, the future of air travel looks very bright indeed. They showed a magnificent plane with a transparent fuselage and a wide, spacious cabin. Roomy seats with ample armrests, reclined all the way back, to form flat cots. With wide aisles, panoramic views and plenty of leg room, the inside of this very luxurious plane looked more the lobby of a resort hotel, than any airliner I’ve flown in.

 

From what I experienced on my flight to Paris, however, the future of air travel seems quite bleak. I don’t really think that technological hurdles prevent airlines from providing amenities to air travelers today. In fact, airlines have cut many more perks than they’ve added in recent years, a trend I think likely to continue into the future. How will airlines treat you, the flying public, in 2025? I shudder to think.

Boeings new 800 passenger Jumbo Jet

After stripping, and submitting to a full body cavity search, you board the plane nude, where a flight attendant will shackle you to your seat. The flight attendant will hang a large ziplock bag, emblazoned with the airline’s logo, around your neck, containing your (or more likely, somebody else’s) clothes and shoes. Flight attendants now demand strict discipline. You will obey them, or they will punish you.

Flight Attendant of the Future

A string of airliner hijackings and bombings in the late twenty-teens, led to these invasive new security procedures, but not a single airliner has been hijacked since the mandatory “strip, shtumpf, and shackle” policy took effect in 2020. However, since the new system went into effect, thousands of passengers suffer long term symptoms of PTSD as a result of routine flights.

 

Very few people fly anymore with out the aid of significant medication, making in-flight conversation much more surreal. Air sickness remains a problem, complicated by medication and increased stress. Flight attendants provide a complimentary sani-wipe, in a foil envelope emblazoned with the airline’s logo, to every passenger when they release the shackles at your destination.

 

Dazed and disoriented, you wipe yourself off, struggle to put on whatever clothes you find in the bag, and try to remember who you are and where you are going. Smart travelers long ago learned that they could avoid a lot of trouble and expense by simply buying new clothes at their destination. But you, the inexperienced traveler, proceed to the baggage claim carrousel in hopes of finding your luggage.

 

By the time TSA screeners have have examined, and pilfered the contents of your bag, and airline baggage handlers have manhandled, dropped and run-over your bag with a forklift, what you see on the carrousel looks more like a giant pile of dirty laundry, with a bunch of open suitcases thrown in. after an hour or so of picking your belongings from the ever revolving heap, you feel you’ve found enough of your wardrobe to get through a few days. Then you collapse, sobbing, and curl up into a fetal position on the floor of the airport terminal for a few hours. You’ll probably be OK… eventually. Thank you for flying the friendly skies.

 

I think I’ll walk next time, thanks anyway.

See you back in Humboldt!


On The Money, Stock Market Investing

On The Money

Financial Advice for the Working Class

The Stock Market

40 years ago, 95% of all stocks were owned by the richest 5% of the population. Back then, unionized workers, and people with decent jobs had pensions, that is, a guaranteed income after retirement. But with 30 years of union busting, downsizing, rightsizing, outsourcing, and bubble bursting, only veterans, cops, prison guards and teachers get pensions these days, the rest of us have the option of A)Nothing, or B) a 401K plan.

 

Thanks primarily to these 401K plans, currently, 49% of white people, 25% of black people and 16% of Hispanic people now own some stocks, bonds or mutual funds. That’s pretty much everyone who matters, demographically speaking. While more people than ever own some stocks, 80% of all stocks remain in the hands of the very wealthiest 5% of the population.

 

While you, a working person, may think, “Well, a 401K Plan is better than nothing.” You should think again. Sure, it seems like the stock market always goes up in the long run, and profitable companies pay dividends, but for most working people the pitfalls outweigh the benefits. Here’s why:

 

Everyone wants security. That’s why we all invest. You want to know that you’ll have enough money to live on when you are too old to work. You want to be able to help your children with college. You want to have money in case of emergency. That’s the kind of security most working people think about when they invest. That’s not the kind of security the stock market offers.

 

On the other hand, if you have millions, or billions of dollars, you know you have enough to live on, spoil your kids, and clean up their messes. No the rich seek a different kind of security. They know that they have billions of dollars, while billions of people live in poverty. They reason, rightly I think, that those billions of impoverished people might want to kill them. You see, the rich got that way by raping the environment and enslaving people. Lots of people hate them, with good reason. Lots more just want to take their money. The rich seek protection from you and I. That’s what they mean by “security”.

 

Don’t believe me? Go to the headquarters of any company listed on the NYSE, walk in the front door, and demand to see the CEO. The receptionist will immediately call “Security!” You don’t acquire billions of dollars without an enormous empire of people working to shovel it into your pocket. You need to keep enough of these people busy, or they turn on you. This is what the rich fear most.

 

It takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep all of the worlds wealth flowing into a very few pockets. Without an ever expanding industrial economy, and an enormously complex, and completely abstract financial system, those empires collapse in mutiny, with gruesome outcomes for former emperors. For this reason, no project in heaven or earth is too big to be financed. And for this reason, all kinds of bizarre, and insanely dangerous projects, like deep water oil drilling or nuclear power plants or god knows what next, find plenty of capital to make them happen.

 

However, the price of a company’s stock, determines how much capital it can borrow. So, a low stock price inhibits growth and expansion…for them. That doesn’t stop “Mom and Pop” small businesses from growing. In fact it helps even the playing field.

 

When mom and pop’s mega-store competition can’t find capital so easily, they think twice about opening a new store and operating it at a loss for a couple years, just to drive mom and pop out of business. Low stock prices slow down those gigantic conglomerates, owned in millions of little bits, mostly by a handful of people, and run by the most pathologically greedy people on the planet.

 

OK, so buying stocks helps destroy the planet, oppress workers, and drive small businesses out of business. But what is the up-side. Well for years the common wisdom has been that the stock market always rises over the long term. So, if you’re making a long term investment, stocks, especially the “blue chips” which I’ll talk more about next week, make a solid investment…for the rich.

 

Long term for a working person means 40 years, tops. Long term to the rich means 100 years or more. The enormous corporations that get traded every day on the NY Stock Exchange, don’t just produce products. They engineer our culture. They engineer our culture to benefit those exceedingly rich people who primarily want to keep us too busy and stupid to realize how badly we are being screwed. The rich get a lot of benefits from their stock market investment, the fact that it generally appreciates in value is almost beside the point. Sure the stock market generally goes up over time, but even if it loses 90% of its value, the rich still have hundreds of times more than you. For them the loss is still primarily on paper.

From the working man’s perspective, we see a different scenario. The working man has a little money each month to invest, so usually he puts it into a “Mutual Fund” or “401K” which we will talk about in future installments of “On the Money”. Basically, he puts his money into a pool of money managed by “a professional” who sends a quarterly statement telling him how his stocks are doing.

 

Usually, everything goes fine for awhile. Stocks rise, everyone makes money, you buy more stocks, stocks rise, you make more money, everything looks great. Then it happens. The Correction. No one saw it coming, it blindsided everyone, except that kook, who no one listened to. Stocks lose 40-50- 60% of their value. Gone… poof, just a couple years before you retire too.

 

The super-rich just harvested your retirement fund. You still pay the fees for managing this fund. You just lost your retirement income. Sure, in 5-10 years, the market will regain those losses, but you’re ready to retire now, and the money’s not there for you. You’ll have to sell the rest of your stocks at a loss, just to get by.

 

Working people should avoid the stock market like the plague it is. The harder your money works against you, the harder you have to work just to get by. There’s an overview of the stock market that’s On The Money.


Word Power, Velleity

Word Power

Building Your Vocabulary One Word at a Time

Velleity

vel le it y, n, (ve lee eht ee) pl. ies, The lowest form of volition, or exercise of will, a slight wish or inclination.

 

The decisions you make in life, make you. When you enter into some contracts, or accept a plea deal, a notary public, or a judge might ask you if you signed a particular document “of your own volition”. That means: “Did you decide to do this of your own free will?” Your volition refers to the decisions you make.

 

Velleity, on the other hand, refers to a faint inkling of desire, a whim, a preference, but not a strong one. I have a lot of velleities, most of them come and go without much action on my part. No decision necessary. For instance, when I saw those Libyan rebels with those multiple rocket launchers in the beds of their pickup trucks, I wanted one. If I had a magic velleity granting genie, I’d have one now. I’d park it next to the Olympic sized swimming pool, around and in which, damn near every woman I have ever seen since Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island would be lounging or swimming, dreaming only of my amorous attention. But, I digress.

 

I’m sure you have your own velleities. Perhaps even you’ve developed a veleity to subscribe to this blog. In other words, you enjoy reading it, you might want to do it again, and you might even want to have it delivered to you…maybe. You haven’t done anything about it though. Listen for that velleity, let your own true free will speak to you. You might enjoy getting this stuff in your email once a week, and only once a week, for you to peruse at your convenience. Isn’t lygsbtd more fun than most of the other dreck in your inbox?

 

You don’t have to make a commitment, or sign a contract or anything, just push the button on the right hand side of the page to subscribe. How often do you get an opportunity to make your faintest velleities come true that easily? Do you think that I would hesitate for a second, if I could materialize rocket launchers or a pool full of hot women, just by pushing a button? Not on your life!! Nor should you. Go ahead, push that button and your velleity is my command. Please Subscribe now!

Please!

Come on, would it kill you? You can unsubscribe at any time, and its always FREE.

Just push the button.

Come on, …push it.

Push it…

PUSH IT!

Oh, Push the goddamn button already!

Sorry!

…Please!


Poem: Moderation

Moderation

More than one, but less than two

Is the amount that I would like to do

One often seems a little puny

But two will often drive me looney

One will really hardly faze me

But two will sometimes make me crazy

Then it will occur to me

Well, I might as well have three

And perhaps I’ll have one more

Before I head out of the door

Since someone else will have to drive

Then go ahead and make it five

I lost count then after that

Perhaps ’cause of our little spat

After that I can’t remember

Just in whom I stuck my member

Or where I was when I woke up

And after that I just threw up.


New Drug Infused Junk Foods

New Drug Infused Junk Foods

HuMMAPPS, the local growers organization helping to navigate the course towards legalization, points out that edible products containing cannabis is the fastest growing sector of the marijuana market. We all know that Coca-Cola originally contained cocaine, and still would today, were it not prohibited by law. Now as we approach the end of prohibition, we may see a whole new generation of drug-infused foods hit the market. Would you try these?

 

Cap’n Crank- Sugary cereal, stays crunchy even in milk. Now fortified with crystal methamphetamine.

 

Maritos- Crisp, high-tech simulated tortilla chips. Fried in ganja butter, salted, and dusted with kief and desiccated cheese powder.

 

Laze Potato Chips- With heroin. Bet you can’t eat just one.

RRRRuphles have RRRRuphenol- Potato chips with ridges that stand up to dip, even when the dipper can’t stand up.

 

Marshmollies- Jet puffed confections contain MDMA. Toast them over a campfire, or in front of a laser at a rave, put some in your hot chocolate or just eat them straight out of the bag. You’ll love ‘em.

 

Tranquilized Animal Crackers- Little cookies, shaped like sleeping circus animals, laced with ketamine.

 

Life Saving Devices- Multi-flavored roll candy with LSD.

 

Grandma’s Old Fashioned Hard Candy- with Viagra. Give ‘em something to suck on, just like in the old days.


Andrew Goff, Romano Gabriel Win Me a Sundae

Andrew Goff, Romano Gabriel Win Me a Sundae

70Heaven Cartoonist Andrew Goff

I wrote the following letter to Andrew Goff in response to a 70Heaven comic strip he did a month or so ago, that made fun of Romano Gabriel.  In the strip, Will, the dumb one, disses a bunch of public art, then praises Romano Gabriel’s work as a low budget Disneyland. Pretty much everything Will says in 70Heaven is stupid and wrong, so this amounted to damning with faint praise, in my mind.

 

Romano deserves better than that. It pissed me off. So, I posted a message on Andrew Goff’s fb page that said something like, “Will’s right, that other art is shit compared to Romano Gabriel.” After a couple of hours I thought better of it, and deleted the post. I then wrote Andrew the following letter and sent it to him as a private message via fb. I asked him to keep it to himself, but when he saw that I sentenced him to death in this blog, he insisted on going public. An edited version of this letter appears in the current (6/16/11) edition of the North Coast Journal.

It won me a sundae! I owe it all to Andrew and Romano, but I’m not sharing.

Dear Andrew,

I’m very sorry about posting obscenity on your facebook page (last Thursday). My only excuse is that seeing you make fun of Romano Gabriel made me very emotional.

Are you Italian, Andrew? You look Italian. You have a Roman nose. If you’re Italian, be proud! If not, pretend. I know Italian-Americans get a bad rap, especially with liberals, because of Christopher Columbus and the Mafia. A lot of Italian guys try to pass themselves off as French, especially in a liberal college town like Arcata. Your last lame doesn’t end in an “o” or “i” so you could probably pull it off, especially hanging out with a guy named “Startaire.”

Your “Public Art” strip was very French. The French are snooty, critical and heady. They have tiny fluffy balls that they compensate for by putting on an air of superiority. Italians, on the other hand, have a glint in their eye, and gigantic balls to back it up. I think the guy who wrote Prodigal Arkley, is Italian.

I know you are an artist. As an Italian-American artist, you should take great pride in Romano Gabriel. Look at his work. Do you see any brush strokes that look like he’s trying to cover a mistake? Do you see any evidence that he is imitating anyone else? Do you see any evidence that he was motivated by money or fame? Doesn’t every brush stroke look like it was done joyfully, with authority, according to a unique vision with complete disregard for public opinion? Wouldn’t you like to live that way? Do you think you have the balls?

Romano Gabriel is a great Italian-American artist. There’s a reason he’s world famous and has his own museum. Count yourself fortunate to have seen his work. Take inspiration from him. Then check out Saman (or Sam or Simon) Rodia and the Watts Towers. These men didn’t need a college education, grants, or even commissions to make the world take note of their work. They just had a glint in their eye, and gigantic Italian balls. These are your people Andrew, be proud of them.

I fear you spend too much time around HSU. Universities tend to wussify people. It takes balls to be an artist. You don’t need balls to be a critic. You don’t need balls to be a historian, you don’t need balls to teach. That’s why Universities turn out so many critics, historians, and teachers, and so few artists.

There’s nothing stupid about Romano Gabriel’s artwork. What’s stupid is being impressed by the technique, sophistication, and professionalism of vain French pussy artists. Roman Gabriel’s work is not “tacky and embarrassing” or a “public service”. Duane Flatmo is a “public service”. Romano Gabriel was a public nuisance! Do you have the balls to be a nuisance, Andrew? Romano doesn’t care if you make fun of his work, plenty of idiots did so during his lifetime. It’s you I’m worried about.

Other than that, I love 70heaven. Keep up the good work!

Sincerely, John Hardin

P.S. Let’s keep this man to man. I have enough enemies without stirring up French people and feminists.

P.S.S. I’m only one-quarter Italian, and I’m also one-quarter French.


On The Money, Unemployment

an updated and revised version of this piece will appear in Fifth Estate Magazine’s Summer 2012 edition

On The Money

Financial Advice for the Working Class

Unemployment

You can’t turn on the news these days without hearing about unemployment. Headlines proclaim, week after week, that over 400,000 people filed new claims for unemployment benefits this week. The national unemployment rate hovers at about 9%, although experts agree that the number of people out-of-work far exceeds that 9% figure. The 9% figure only reflects the number of people actually looking for work. It does not count the growing number of people who have stopped looking for work.

 

I think this “not working, not looking for work” segment of the population might be on to something. Face the facts, jobs really don’t pay like they used to. Fewer jobs than ever actually provide a living wage. Housing costs came unhinged from wages years ago, and still have a long way to fall for most working people to have affordable housing. Affordable housing means you have a place to live that costs no more than one-quarter of your monthly emolument.

 

Most employers expect workers to have both a phone and reliable transportation, regardless of whether or not the job even pays enough to cover those costs. These costs often preclude the workers providing for their own physical needs. For this meager existence, workers trade roughly half of their waking hours, and 60-80% of their life energy.

 

When you think about it that way, its a wonder anyone wants a job. So, lets look at these people who have stopped looking for work. How do they do it? How do they get by? What are they doing that’s working for them? Are they dealing drugs, robbing banks or hacking computers? If I had any talent in those areas I’d work it for all it was worth, but they can’t all have the talent to deal, rob and hack.

 

Half of the world’s population lives on less than $1 a day. Why can’t we? If living in a storm sewer and eating spit-roasted rat isn’t better than working for a living, its gotta be close. Look, I’ve long ago abandoned my middle-class aspirations. It’s about time you do too. The middle-class is killing the planet!

 

Everyone knows that the planet cannot sustain the consumptive habits of the middle-class, at its present size. China’s newly emerging middle-class is the fastest growing source of global-warming gasses on the planet. Whether it’s habitat loss to suburban sprawl, energy consumption and climate change or landfills and wasted resources, you’ll find the middle-class lifestyle at the heart of the problem. We can clearly no longer afford the illusion of middle-class affluence, without catastrophic consequences for everyone. The middle-class must go!

 

Most of us already know that we’re never going to be “super-rich”, but if you no longer aspire to be middle-class, a job no longer seems like such a necessary evil. “So, how will we make money?” you ask. I say the biggest problem the world faces right now is too much money. Too much money caused the housing meltdown. Too much money caused the Fukushima meltdown and too much money caused the polar ice-cap meltdown.

 

See, we’ve got about 7 billion people on the planet, and damn near every one of them wants to make money. So they all start making stuff out of the rocks, trees, and animals they find around them, to sell for money. People who do well at this soon have more money that they need, but they don’t stop making stuff, instead, they expand. They buy machines that help them make more stuff faster and cheaper.

 

Soon, they have even more money, so they loan it to other people to expand their businesses, so they can make more stuff faster and cheaper. So that way, they make even more money, but nobody wants their money just sitting around doing nothing. No, everyone wants their extra money to make even more money, and most people don’t care how it happens, as long as it happens.

 

So, all of this money really, really, wants make even more money out of whatever rocks, plants and animals that are left on the planet, creating our present situation: We have rapidly increasing amounts of money chasing dwindling numbers of rocks, plants and animals, all over the world.

 

Today, this money exerts tremendous pressure on all of us. It constantly works to find new ways to extract more of your life force, and more of the planet every day. It never rests and does not care about anything else but making more of itself. Money has become a monster. Stay away from it.

 

From this perspective, unemployment is not our most serious economic problem. Unemployment is the solution to our most serious economic problem. Don’t try to make money, that just exacerbates our global problems. Just find someplace to live and something to eat. If you need money, take it from someone who has too much, but don’t work for it.

 

We cannot afford to be productive workers any longer. Our own industriousness got us into this mess. The more money we make, as workers, the more resources the capitalists take from the commons. So, a few people get rich while the whole world becomes impoverished, polluted and enslaved. Been there, done that.

 

We deserve a planet full of trees, rocks and animals, and we deserve the time and energy to enjoy them. Let them keep their soul-sucking, planet-raping, low-wage, no-benefit, endless grind of a job to themselves. Do something different with your life. Spit roasted rat is not half bad. There’s a view of the unemployment problem that’s On The Money.


Word Power, Apotropaic

Word Power

Building Your Vocabulary One Word at a Time

Apotropaic

ap o tro pa ic adj. (ap eh ‘tro pay ick) designed to avert evil, as in “an apotropaic ritual”

Evil is pretty bad. I suppose that if we can possibly avert it, we might as well try. Now we have a word to do it with. I tried to imagine what an apotropaic ritual might look like., and imagined it coming a little late. I wrote the following poem about it:


Poem, An Apotropaic Moment

An Apotropaic Moment

In an apotropaic moment, in an apocalyptic age

An apologetic Pope met with a masked ascetic sage

The masked ascetic sage was a little bit off put

He flew into a rage, and things got off on the wrong foot

There’s no time for apology from an apologetic Pope,

For opposing our biology, and being such a dope”

The sage, enraged, raged on and on for several nights and days

The Pope just hoped that Al-Anon would help him change his ways

The sage ran out of words, and didn’t know what to think

From the Pope a sigh was heard, and then he had a drink

Then they both just stood around, and neither made a peep

Then they both laid on the ground and there they went to sleep

The sage then slipped into a dream, and dreamed a dream about is mask

The pope then woke up with a scream, in his nightmare, lost his flask

He nimbly found his tipple quickly and sipped a hasty nip

The liquor left him slightly sickly, he felt a belch, and let it rip

That noise then did the sage awaken, what a mood then he was in

The Pope then offered to make bacon, assuring him it was no sin

Breakfast did not suit the sage, though he did look rather thin

He reapplied the mucilage that held the mask onto his chin

He railed against the Pope some more, he did make quite a fuss

It really got to be a bore and better things awaited us


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