Aaron Sorkin Hits Another Grandslam with New Newsroom

HBO’s original series NEWSROOM is far and away the most intelligent program on television. Anywhere. Perhaps of all time. Several thoughts come to mind.

Number one: Granted, this used to be a rather easy thing to say of course — if one ever had the opportunity (rare) to encounter an intelligent program on TV in days past, because TV used to be infamous for its sole role as the premier purveyor of the worst the world had to dump on itself. But all that changed over the last ten years exactly as I predicted when explaining one of the primary Signatures of the Age of Personal Expression (which we are at least waist deep in by now, at least), i.e. “We are about to enter a new golden age of American television, a renaissance of great television the likes of which we have never experienced before, where it may as a medium even surpass film, most likely never literature or journalism one would assume, in it’s brilliance to captivate engage move inspire educate and entertain.” “The Great American Television Renaissance” is what the Signature is still referred to as when we work on the project. And we, like anyone else paying attention as of late, are in awe of it.

Not only have B and occasional A list Hollywood celebs hopped on the TV train, but more importantly (much more importantly) so have big name Hollywood film writers and directors. Though we haven’t peaked quite yet in the Personal Expression Age itself, in terms of what it has the potential to do — what it has the directive and mandate and obligation to do — this particular Signature, of TV, is flying high; it’s hit it’s zenith. Television today is as good as any other form of entertainment in the world today. If you know where to look that is.

A second thought: think about what you just said old boy…. NEWSROOM IS good…but the MOST intelligent program on television?!? The Transcendence Diaries by their very nature are prone to hyperbolic claims and exclamations. No one would read them if they weren’t. So is this nothing but a quick fix, a one off jolt of hyperbolic frenzy instigated by the emotions this particular show so elegantly elicits in all of its viewers, one that you may regret come morning once you come down off this high and have the opportunity to think more clearly about the substance of such a statement?

Surely there are other shows on American television that are good. Great even. But we aren’t talking about good or great TV. We are talking about intelligent. In the not too distant past one could point to Sunday Morning News shows as being intelligent television; but besides the aging yet ever youthful McLaughlin Group and GPS with Fareed Zakaria, our beloved once reliable traditional staples known as Sunday morning news shows as a whole have gone the way of all TV news (and the general direction of the American political system, just as an aside, albeit a heartbreaking one) — hype pomp shock schlock rumors gossip gotchas and gimmes, with very little in the way of trustworthy news reporting, let alone anything remotely resembling intelligence.

One could of course fall back on any number of the programming still being aired by the PBS network regularly, and to be fair as a whole PBS still stands tallest when it comes to “most intelligent television programming” overall. They hit it out of the park with their rabbit out of the hat resuscitation of Masterpiece Theatre by way of Downton Abbey — not only reviving a long thought barely breathing franchise, but were so successful in it that they’ve now managed to spin it off into three separate programs: the classic Masterpiece, then Masterpiece Mystery and now their latest Masterpiece Contemporary — all pretty decent programming IF that’s your thing. Not bad for a long running show that no one even knew still existed ten years ago.

And PBS still delivers the most reliable respectful trustworthy intelligent and hype-free nightly news show on TV. They don’t pander nor patronize their projected audience. They aren’t too busy trying to “make news” to report on actual real news events transpiring in today’s world. Something the other four networks seem to have completely forgotten how to do. In fact let’s face it: the other four networks, ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, have been so busy chasing the slutty foul smelling tail of cable news — quite possibly the most wretched invention of the latter half of the 20th century, right up there with the atomic bomb, Al Qaeda and The Kardashians — that it fully appears that network news divisions have even forgotten that THAT’S precisely what they were supposed to be doing, reporting the news, not trying to make it on their own, nor make it up as they go along.

Honorable Mention goes to The Charlie Rose Show — for if it weren’t for NEWSROOM, then surely Most Intelligent Show on Television would still be all his, as it has been for a decade at least. The Charlie Rose Show is still the one safe harbor any educated person of intellect can pull into for an hour and not only not be insulted but be seriously and sincerely intrigued and stimulated intellectually. Charlie Rose too is a PBS property.

So yes PBS certainly deserves First Place for Most Intelligent Television Network. But this isn’t about networks. It’s about single programs. And as anyone alive or awake in the last three years has noticed, nothing comes even close to the jaw dropping death defying dialog audiences are afforded each week when NEWSROOM airs on HBO. The scripts, or as he likes to call them the Teleplays, are penned by the inimitable Aaron Sorkin, (A Few Good Men, The Social Network). For many many years Sorkin has been infamous for many things: a hard leaning liberal who throws too much of his own personal politics into his art, a maddening person to work with, a drug fiend, an obsessive compulsive who admittedly showers five to six times a day, but more than anything else, a brilliant writer.

And indeed IF his style is something you enjoy or can bare then there isn’t much in this world that feels better than bathing in a sea of his words and sentences. Rapid fire dialogues between intensely interesting characters about actual matters of substance. Rare stuff indeed for television. And yet he pulls it off. One might tag that last line with “only on HBO…” And that may have been true at one point. Game of Thrones, Veep, Silicon Valley, True Detective… All HBO commodities. (Lest we forget they’re also responsible for bringing us the truly wretched GIRLS, nuff said…) But plenty of other brilliant shows now float about on other equally noteworthy and deserving networks such as AMC. So that mantle holds more than just one trophy with more than just one network name on it. And I predict that it is only going to continue to get more and more crowded up there as more creatives and audiences alike begin to discover the merits and potential of television as the new and exciting medium it has become.

In the meantime we still have — unfortunately — at least four more mind tingling, heart stopping episodes of NEWSROOM to view this season. Come Emmy time — if one subscribes to the idea of picking “favorites” or “number ones” (which I personally don’t, as everyone knows — (I believe there is and can be no such thing) then no one in that room will deserve that statue more than Aaron Sorkin for what he manages to do with NEWSROOM. That mind of his is a rare breed and a national treasure. For all the attention our society focuses on soulless technology and empty celebrity, it is people like Aaron Sorkin who illuminate just how powerful the simple written word can be still. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of watching NEWSROOM, I envy you. Do so as soon as possible.

Honorable Mentions need to be handed out to Real Time with Bill Maher, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and occasionally The Good Wife. (Though their story is another one entirely — one we simply don’t have the time nor desire to get into at this moment, though not one not worth telling, for it is consistently a better than most television show with occasionally brilliant writing and a stellar often times all-star cast. But it far too often succumbs to the limitations of network TV. Again, another post we’ll address that subject).

– Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone 8s Custom

You’ve Been Warned –The Coming New American Revolution

It is illegal for TV networks to raise the volume of commercials higher than the shows they air. For obvious reasons. (It wouldn’t be fair to the TV shows, giving the commercials a higher priority would lift the disguise that television networks exist to entertain rather than generate profits for shareholders.) So what they do instead is flip on a compressor during commercials, for an extra fee to the sponsor — guaranteeing a louder commercial. Theoretically the network is not “turning up the volume”, but the effect is a much louder fuller more annoying volume for said commercial. Which anyone who watches television even infrequently has surely noticed. It’s a technicality. It bypasses the law while pretending to still be abiding by the law. This is a common practice at every network and is common knowledge in the industry. But no one gets in any trouble for it.
 This should come as no surprise. Americans are used to these kinds of practices by the powers that be. There is a boldly glaring double standard and hypocrisy that Americans live with everyday and accept as “just the way it is”. Anyone and everyone with wealth or in power breaks the rules or breaks the law however and whenever they can and somehow always manage to get away with it. Rather than jail time or a reminder of the rules laws or regulations they’ve broken, and certainly rather than any kind of substantive punishment, they find a technicality or at worst a small fine at the end of their rainbow of a trial, IF they even get that far. Usually these rules and laws that the common people are forced to be bound by are easily able to be skipped entirely by the elite; corporations and government officials included.
 It is THIS kind of blatant disregard for the law, much less the desires of The People, that has now become the norm in all arenas of American life. Banks hospitals insurance companies drug makers stores police departments cable and internet providers giant tech companies like Apple and especially government. It is capitalism run amok rampant and extreme, arrogant and crass –creating the highest profits for those who can pay and causing the most harm and suffering for those who cannot.
 In the United States we have reached the peak phase of the capitalist cycle, just before The People revolt and demand fairness justice and balance. This is usually a sloppy messy bloody affair, a no mercy and no quarter for those in power scenario gets created. Many perish. In a very short period of time regular everyday working people will be shooting at and arresting not only the hundreds of thousands of crooked police officers of the country, but any and all who work in government or in large greedy corporations who’ve raped one too many trusting unsuspecting consumers. In these revolutions the people rise up against the powers that be not just because they are angry — for it is safe to say that Americans are far beyond anger at this point, but because they feel it is their duty to take back a country that all of us once dearly loved respected and cherished. But only the most simple and foolish among us now feel any sense of love or respect for what America has turned into over the last fifty plus years. Not through any fault of our own and not without desperately trying to turn things around. No one can say that the people didn’t try. But clearly our hands have been tied, in red tape, bureaucracy and bullshit for decades.
 The government of the U.S., already seeing where we are historically in the capitalist cycle, has prepared for this inevitable cultural shift. Hence the gradual but rapid change into the police state we now live in. It is all of our wishes that the state local and federal governments of our beloved country realize and accept that although we will rise up en masse to bring this system down in order to create a more just fair enlightened and equitable society REGARDLESS of their opinion or any actions they may decide to take, we do NOT wish to hurt or kill anyone, nor do we desire to do away with our free enterprise system. No one is crying out for communism or any other extreme social reforms. Only truth. We only wish to stop the blatant lies, deceptions and manipulations of the law that we have all come to begrudgingly accept and take for granted as being an inherent aspect of the world we live in.
 We understand full well, just as the government does, that it does NOT have to be this way. After all, our government officials and the mainstream media who do their bidding act and speak as if they live in a completely different world than the rest of us; they speak of “American Exceptionalism”, a land of the free and home of the brave; they never out the president of the United States for his incessant lying and bending of the truth; they never mention the heartbreaking irony that the U.S. is by far the most powerful terrorist force and the most feared and notorious killing machine on planet earth when they report on “terrorism” on the nightly news; they don’t speak of the fact that the alleged elected government spends billions of dollars a year giving it away in bribes or blackmail schemes to hundreds of other countries around the globe but turn around and claim that they can’t afford to feed the hungry or starving right here at home, nor afford to educate them; they don’t mention that the United States Congress exists now almost solely to provide cushy jobs for power hungry, egomaniacal greed-hounds whose job it is to provide favors, loopholes and profit opportunities for the large multi-national corporations who now completely run and control the country. If one listened to the media they might believe for a minute at least that the members of congress were being elected by the people to work for the will of the people — until reality snuck back into the conversation and everyone landed back on earth acknowledging the ridiculousness of that erroneous idea. It’s been a long time since any congress has been able to list serving the people as a line item on their resume.
 So there is no excuse for how unbearably inexcusably bad things have gotten in America. The dichotomy between how the government and media speak about the United States and how it actually is in reality is as wide as the Grand Canyon. So it’s no wonder that people are beyond mad. Everyday the harsh reality of the wickedness that surrounds us, all the while with the arrogance and audacity to dare call itself good, is thrown in our face. At the same time not a man woman or child in America is unaware of how dangerous or life threatening it would be to dare break a law themselves. The peoples’ job is to obey the laws, pay the taxes and say nothing while watching those in control break the laws, profligately spend the peoples’ taxes and say and do whatever the hell they want to regardless of how illegal criminal or immoral it may be.
 This is no secret. Unlike in times long past this is the topic du jour in almost every home, office, school and community from coast to coast. The disapproval, the disgust and the outrage spans all age groups, all income brackets except the very rich perhaps, all races, all genders and everyone else in between. The powers that be are just as aware of this reality as the people are. Both sides pretending not to notice the other’s disdain for the system that both have created. One through sheer force of will selfishness and greed, the other, the people, through fear and resistance to accepting the cold hard truth that the kingdom is not royal nor noble, but rotten and wicked. Even the worst offenders are now having a tough time keeping a straight face. Somewhere along the line America lost itself. Forgot it’s mission. And it’s been spinning blindly madly out of control ever since.
 Which is why in the long run it is inevitable not only that we the people WILL rise up soon but that WE will win. It would be in every one’s best interest if this idea were accepted sooner rather than later by the various branches of government throughout the nation. If they act in time, with sincerity and effectiveness, a full scale revolution of the magnitude described above might be able to be avoided. But it needs to happen fast. The confusion and frustration of even the common working person has now turned into cynical bitterness, anger and rage. In a country of 350 million people all fueled by these shared emotions, no sitting government, no matter how powerful they think they are, stands a chance of survival. Our revolution will make the Civil War seem like child’s play.
 It is important that every man woman and child who lives in and loves the United States of America shares this message with their elected leaders. We may not owe it to them. Lord knows they’ve done nothing to deserve our humanity, having done nothing for us in decades and would certainly not extend to us the same courtesy. But it is more in line with the kinder, more just, fair-minded and enlightened society that WE wish to create.
 The deadline for serious change is fast approaching. Consider yourselves warned. The people are beyond angry. They are incensed and inflamed. And the myriad distractions once so effective no longer distract. Instead they only add more fuel to the fire. The people, feeling helpless to effect change through democratic means and thus backed into a corner with nothing left to lose are not only ready for war. They are preparing for it. You have been warned.
 – Posted by The Ambassador

Exploring Psychism, Honoring Our Intuition and a Glimpse into the Coming Global Revolution

PSYCHISM: a doctrine that there is a fluid universally diffused and equally animating all living beings

This is just more a check in or a follow up more than anything. At least it started out as that. As usual we’ve gone in a hundred different directions by the time it’s finished. But I only know this because I am in the future. I’ve read this already. Hang on tight and enjoy. This week TIME Magazine published an article entitled “Prison Breakout: Netflix keeps remaking TV with its best show yet” wherein the primary message is that Netflix is transforming the way American television is watched by releasing full seasons of series all in one go as opposed to one episode at a time on a week to week to basis as is customary. A brilliant idea. Where have we heard that before?!?! Hhhhmmm…

On Monday March 18th of this year, I published a blog entry here in the Transcendence Diaries entitled “Observations On Modern Television — Fixes” (click here to read) where I suggested that “if contemporary TV networks want to stay current and competitive, they need to start releasing whole seasons of TV series all in one shot so people could watch them at their leisure and NOT have to wait week to week to watch them. THIS is the future. Who will jump on it first?” This was five months before the TIME Magazine article touting Netflix’s new show “Orange is the New Black” and three months before Netflix was the first network in history to ever do it when they released both “House of Cards” and “Arrested Development” in the same manner. Kudos to moi!

Now before a slew of “don’t let your head get TOO big Mr. Ambassador” comments pour in, let me state for the record that I am NOT claiming that Netflix got the idea from ME. Obviously they didn’t. Or did they??? Hhhhmmm… Okay so probs not. In order to pull off such a fete, Netflix would have had to have started filming House of Cards and Arrested Development months before that particular Transcendence Diaries entry was posted. Besides all the horn tooting and “who got the idea first” banter, I believe there are actually several other lessons to be gleaned from this event that are far more elucidating.

First and foremost, I wrote that particular entry from a place of DESIRE, not fortune telling — suggesting this change to modern television programming because that’s what I WANTED, as a viewer. I felt, as I stated in the original article, that for those of us who are super busy, too busy for TV (who isn’t?), it was ridiculous to assume that we have the time to pay attention to when some TV show is going to air, what day of the week or what time it’s on, and then the commercials, etc etc forget about it. I mean, who has the time?

Even in the DVR age — I must admit that without the DVR I would not be even talking about this subject, for I would not be aware of anything on TV; as in the past, my entire life up until a year and half ago, I never watched TV — no TIME or desire to. Then I predicted that there would be a “new American Television Renaissance” and thus went to explore TV to see if I was even close to being right; I was. The DVR had a big impact on my ability to do that research. It does make it possible for us to manage TV more effectively. BUT there are still HUGE problems for a certain demographic, the group of us who just do NOT want to (nor feel that we should have to) sit around waiting week to week to see which one of the Stark family dies next on Game of Thrones. For us, now, in this age of instant gratification, traditional TV programming has become as insulting to our intelligence and way of life as waiting for access to the internet on a dial up connection. Just not worth it.

So what are some of those lessons Well number one, when I got the idea, It felt like a ridiculous thing to suggest. I KNEW that when I was writing it. At least I thought I did. Turns out that I was just feeling something that was already happening. But none of us had the benefit of being able to know that except the few perhaps at Netflix who were in on the discussion that led to this programming change. “Who the hell is going to take this seriously?” I thought. Readers are just going to think “Oh there goes Ed Hale and his crazy imaginings about a perfect utopian world where whole seasons of TV are available all at the same time right for the taking just because we would love for it to be that way… Crazy guy.” But lo and behold, I wasn’t so far off. Netflix has grabbed that gauntlet and charged ahead, surely leading other networks to now reconsider their own programming. Lesson: Just because something seems far fetched or outlandish does not mean that it’s not a potential reality. Honoring our intuition is one of the most important lessons we can learn in any lifetime…. the sooner the better.

And hear me now, believe me in six months: This is only the beginning. The big cable networks like HBO and Showtime are not far behind. Those Emmy nods that Netflix just grabbed for Arrested Development and House of Cards go far. They speak volumes, because regardless of current allocation of advertising dollars, Emmys win numbers. And numbers buy advertisers. (In another post I will outline how advertising is being very quickly transformed, how the old models are dying and the newer models are way off the mark still.)

The other lesson that I cannot help but feel — it actually feels like a semi-panic like pain in my chest — is that next time I have an idea about something, anything, I need to run with it. For whatever reason, out of all the strengths and challenges that each of us come loaded with as individuals when we are born, (or develop over years in a lifetime…), being able to see what’s coming next happens to be a skill I excel at. It’s not even a skill. It just IS. I do it. It’s not from thought. It’s just a knowing. Of course the problem with being able to know ahead of time what’s going to happen next is that it HASN’T HAPPENED YET. So it feels totally crazy when you write it or say it out loud to anyone. So we feel a bit intimidated to go forward with taking any action in that direction. But I’m beginning to learn that we shouldn’t.

Let me give you an example. I’ll tell you right here right now that EMAIL IS DEAD. It’s a ridiculously tired old boring and laborious task that offers zero pay off for the most part, number one, and furthermore there are much more effective and efficient methods for communicating in THIS age than email now. This isn’t the 1990s. Email is a thing of the past. Most of the people I know get so frustrated by my refusal to use email. And when I announce this little prediction of mine they tell me that I’m crazy. But I don’t let it bother me. Hell, we thought i was crazy when I said that we should be allowed to watch whole seasons of our favorite TV shows all in one day in the first week. But that’s the new trend now. Before that, everyone was threatening to lock me up because I was saying that we were about to see a bunch of people’s revolutions take place all over the world and see entire governments fall. Old news now.

And that’s the thing. BEFORE they happen, things that ARE going to happen DO seem ludicrous. Until they happen that is. So there’s something in there about the importance of honoring our vision, or our intuition. Truth be told I’ve always been really good at this. So for me this might be easier said than done compared to someone who thinks this sounds like a risky idea. Most people are much more measured and calculated. They observe and sort data and wait for the signs… My gut tells me that another important lesson out of this is this: if WE are desiring something, thinking about it, wanting it, hoping it happens one day, there’s a good chance that a few other people (at the least) are too. And THAT is how we can trust that the ideas that we have are viable or worthy or have potential to take off or at least transpire.

I’m not saying we should start believing we can call where the Dow Jones is going to be on Monday; but you get the idea. Being able to see into the future and predict what’s going to happen next seems to be a skill made up of several different sub-skills: an innate vibrational or energetic feel based ability to see/feel/know what’s going to happen next (call it “psychic” if you must” but I believe that diminishes the ability and undermines how common it is in most of us), plus a keen sense of detailed observation AND an ability to rationally sort observed data, leading to an increased ability to see where that data will land next when uprooted — ALL data and matter is constantly being uprooted in a chaotic universe whether we see it or not. In addition one also need recognize that the direction things are heading is in large part up to US. You + me = us. So if YOU are feeling it, wanting it, scared of it, hoping for it, so too are others; that also gives us a good idea of where things are heading. Most people don’t get this. They think that they’re just “them” and that “the world happens”. They don’t realize that THEY are part of that world and in return are part of what is making things happen. That’s YOU baby. YOU’RE doing that. So too am I. And THEM. But don’t cut yourself short.

More than anything perhaps that’s the key: remembering to honor our role in it all. Remembering that it is WE who call the shots. Sure there are the bigwigs at the top of the foodchain who seem to control everything. But only because we LET them. The whole idea of “bigwigs at the top controlling everything” is our creation; it’s the setup that we’ve all agreed as a collective to structure our lives around. The primary controlling mechanism for societies in general in the moment. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We just choose it to be that way. For now.

Want another prediction? This is about to change. In a big way. The top down control structure that has governed human societies for millennia is a thing of the past. It’s already starting to fall away, but we are only seeing the beginning of it now. In one fell swoop that system is going to appear to come crashing down — but it will actually happen in incremental events, starting slowly and then spreading rapidly across the globe. One country at a time. Millions will die for this cause. It will happen in our lifetimes (for those of us who are younger than 80 probably). It will be the most brutal series of world events we’ve ever recorded in human history, more so than either world war, because this time rather than country against country fighting for survival and dominance, it will be people against authority structures that will be fighting. Military and police will find themselves not just killing innocent civilians in other countries as in times past; they’ll be doing it in their OWN countries….

And in those moments, depending on each individual wearing a uniform that day, that hour, THAT is what will determine which people will win the fastest in each region of the globe. In the United States we will have it the worst, more than any other country. Because we have the most solidified system of accepted deception and corruption in government anywhere on earth at the moment, with the strongest and wickedest top down leaders in place. Ours won’t be an easy battle. And frankly I cannot even see how we here in the States are going to win, at least not initially, not in this moment. Remember Chechnya? Or the Native Americans who lived here first? Life isn’t fair. It isn’t just. It isn’t honest. History is a collection of lies created by the strongest, toughest, most arrogant and greedy and the most sociopathic or lacking in human empathy.

That’s enough about that topic for now. There are other places where I am writing about this in much more detail. But suffice it to say that there are plenty of people who will read this and think it sounds preposterous. They’d be willing to bet money that “it’ll never happen in our lifetimes”. All that means is that they didn’t do very well on the reading comprehension portion of the SAT. With them, it is important that we do three things: one, respect. They’ve a right to their opinion just as much as anyone else. Two, listen. There’s a good chance we could learn something, regardless of how much we may disagree with them. And three, don’t let their disbelief affect our beliefs even a little bit. Remember, that’s one of the biggest lessons here: it’s easy not to believe in things BEFORE they happen, even if we KNOW they’re going to happen. I’m not talking “faith”. I’m talking about experience. If you’ve lived a life where 9 times out of 10 you just always seem to know what’s going to happen next, it’s probably a good idea not to let anyone talk you out of believing in that ability. Regardless of how outlandish it may seem.

Hype Is Dead

Scroll down below this post just to have a look at the email that was forwarded to me so you have a rough idea of what I am referring to in this post. What you’ll see is a very typical “2000s”-type ad that promises the moon and stars to prospective entrepreneurs looking for leads. What they’re selling is not important. In this case it is “new customers and leads”, primarily information and hype, in the form of a plugin for WordPress. It was forwarded to me by Infinito, who tends to keep up with these things. I rely on him and G2 and The Ex Norwegian along with a few other friends to keep me up to date with the latest and greatest in tech.

This is NOT the Diary entry I intended to post today. But it does act as an excellent illustration of yet another Signature of the Personal Expression Age, i.e. “You have to be ready (and willing) to change course on a dime, at a moment’s notice, in the Age of Personal Expression. So in that light, let us do just that. I can always post today’s originally intended Diary entry later this evening.

Infinito wanted to simply show me an example of what the new face of information marketing ads looks like. He wasn’t endorsing this style of adverts per se. I took a look at the ad below and did my best to attempt to get through it. About two-thirds of the way through I had had enough. A strange creeping yucky feeling came upon me as I tried to read it. And thus I replied to Infinito.

Wow. Yes I see these all the time. Used to anyway. I’m actually surprised that people are still trying to use them. I guess there is always that very last group of “Laggards” who we can always count on to bring in that last barrel full of revenue, despite how small it may be. [The term Laggards is based on that infamous “Roger’s Bell Curve” that shows a visual representation of a population divided by how quickly they tend to adopt new ideas and technologies or purchase and begin to use new things. At the front of the curve are the Innovators. It’s a very small percentage of the overall population. Next in line are the Early Adopters. Slightly bigger than the Innovators but still relatively small. Behind them are the average folk who jump on board once things have been proven and the prices go down. These percentage of people are called the Early Majority and is a much larger group. There is one more group after them who would represent the Mainstream or the Masses, The Late Majority. They only jump in once everyone around them believes it or owns it and they can pick it up for half price at Walmart. And then there are the Laggards. These are the people who wait, and wait, and then wait some more, for whatever reason, to accept new ideas to be true, or to make a purchase or begin using anything that is considered “new”. You can Google it. It’s a fascinating study if you’re into sociology science.]

Frankly I don’t like this type of advertising Infinito. It reeks of internet marketing circa-2001. I didn’t like it then and I still don’t. It may manage to eek out a few bucks from the pajama set, those home-bound individuals in boxer shorts sitting behind their computers trying to figure out how to get rich quick from not actually doing anything. But for our purposes I don’t see this type of ad as being effective in the least bit. In fact I would say it’s a downright turnoff. .

For one thing, these types of adverts are too hypey, damn near anxiety-inducing. I’m sure there are probably some people who like this kind of thing… Or else why would they still be creating and pitching them? Except only to each other perhaps? They litter the internet, like empty potato chip bags tossed out of a car on the highway. Wordy, bulky, clunky, chock full of meaningless tech jargon, giant blue hyperlinks and exclamation points everywhere, with big promises impossible to qualify. My Personal Expression Age (PEA) prediction is that we will be seeing less and less of these kinds of ads and that they’re going to continue to sink FAST in the coming year. I foresee a new way of gaining new customers, leads and additional sales is being heralded. Not quite a return to old-school, but close to it.

So far nearly every prediction we’ve made about the Personal Expression Age has come true over the last nine years. (It’s a source of both infinite pride and great sadness for me actually. We’ve yet to publish the actual book in full due to how busy we remain, hence the sadness; but pride in that so far we’ve been dead-on in predicting the path society as a whole would venture down in almost every industry). It’s downright uncanny how accurate we’ve been so far. Right down to the iReporters and hacktivists –as a means of Personal Expression — or the overthrow of nations right before our eyes — through and due to the increased need and acceptance for more Personal Expression.

In 2007 when we first started actively working on the book eight to ten hours a day, my partners and assistants in the project thought I was CRAZY when I said that we would start seeing peoples’ revolutions of entire countries in the next few years. After Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, now they think I’m some kind of prophet. When I said it would extend even to the United States and more stable European nations they looked at me as if I were some kind of mad anarchist speaking treason; warned me against writing it. Weather Girl flat out REFUSED to type what I was dictating to her, half out of fear and half out of patriotism I believe. The whole idea seems rather quaint now. But of course that’s because it’s a common rallying cry for both the far left and right. Though it still seems highly unlikely to most, I stick to my guns on this one. We’ve already seen it happen in Iceland. Nearly in Greece. In the coming few years it will only continue to grow to include larger more seemingly strong and stable countries like the U.S., the UK, France, Germany, and eventually yes, even China, Iran and Russia.

But that’s not what we are discussing here. Back to the point. Hear me now, believe me later: These kinds of ads as we see below are dead. Hype is dead. People just don’t have the time nor the temperament anymore to endure them. Hype is becoming nauseating. We can call this a new Signature of the Age. But I believe it is more of a sub-Signature of several of them. It’s an Outcome if anything, comprised of several different converging Signatures. There is The Backlash Against Hype Signature at play here. A longing and return to more authenticity. The It’s ALL Bullshit Signature. There is also the No Time to Read Signature playing a role as well.

The real point at the very bottom of the well is that hype in general is quickly dying. Society’s willingness to endure it. Across the board. I know what you’re thinking. “What? How can you say that? What about George Zimmerman and the so called royal baby? Or America’s Got Talent for God’s sake? You can’t get much more hype than all that.” Well this is true. But these are actually three very different subjects. One of them quite substantive. But closer to the point, how many people do we actually know who give a rat’s ass about America’s Got Talent or the so called royal baby? Sure it’s plastered all over the mainstream news, but WHO actually cares about it in our reality? Remember, mainstream news is PAID FOR. It’s not based on what’s important, nor newsworthy. Why is mainstream news dying? Well it’s not JUST because internet news is free as some people suggest. Nor is it simply because people can access ONLY the news they want to read about online, though that IS one of the major contributors to the slow crawling death of mainstream news.

More than anything though, it’s because people no longer trust that what they see and hear in the mainstream news is newsworthy. There have been too many revelations in the last five years, hell, in the last fifty years, that mainstream news is way too beholden to the governments and corporations of the world in what they report on and NOT to the people, nor the newsworthy. People long for REAL news. Not what the respective government in office at the time claims is news, nor what the corporation that owns the news outlet nor its subsidiaries WANT people to hear, but actual real news. Hype be damned. Regardless of how much fuss the mainstream news outlets make about this so called royal baby, how many people do WE know who actually care about it?

Hell, most people I know stopped falling for the whole claim of royalty over a century ago. And for good reason. There is NO such thing as royalty in the first place. They made it up. Called themselves “royal” one day and (yeah it’s sad fact that) a large majority of the common people around town fell for the scheme in the first place, but that was thousands of years ago. Not many thinking people in today’s age even believe in the myth of royalty or take it seriously. At least none that I know of. (just lucky?) So as far as this random British chick having a baby… Sure it’s hype, but it’s a non-issue to most. A novelty. And it’s quickly become ingratiating to many.

Don’t get me wrong. Hype may still be good for an entertainment click by the Masses, (Huff Post anyone?) that middle group in Rogers’ bell curve, but a click is all you’ll get. There’s not enough time for much more than that, unless something has true substance and/or is truly moving. Even those ideals are being greatly challenged in the Personal Expression Age; for a variety of reasons — which are expounded upon in much more detail in the book. That’s an unfortunate Signature of the age. But we’re working on it. Many around us are producing content that is just as if not more substantive and moving than ever before.


There is also the Return to Authenticity factor. All of us, but especially the younger generations, are accustomed to wearing strong bullshit and hype repelling armor now. No one believes YOU. No one believes ME. We no longer believe each other. We want to. We long to. But there is just way too much hype surrounding us. We’re drowning in it. Irony and cynicism are normal day to day outerwear. They have to be. In an age of America’s Got no Talent, we’ve trained ourselves to be this way. Everyone and their brother claims to be the next Michael Jackson or Madonna, or to have a son, sister, or cousin that is. Same with TV, film, books, music, literature, technology, apps… It’s a sea of endless hype. How we tread in it and sift through it all to find content of substance and import, products with true quality and functionality… that’s the Holy Grail.

So no. Ads like the below will not work. What we will see rise up in the place of these kinds of ads is more personalized one on one and localized service — even if you’re three-thousand miles away from your prospective customer — IF you want to gain new customers for a product or generate additional revenue from existing customers. What it will look like exactly… I’m not sure yet…  I am just beginning to download and formulate the theory. But I can tell you one thing, ads like the below are history. Only the Laggards will click. And only the desperate among them will continue past that first click and pull out their virtual wallet.

As always more later.

On Mon, Jul 22, 2013 at 8:17 AM, Infinito <infinito@xxxxx.us> wrote:

Hi Ambassador, See the below ad as an example of the latest in information marketing advertising…


Begin forwarded message:

From: “awdevine” <xxxxx@gmail.com>

Subject: [Online/Offline: Just Launched] Here’s The ONE Thing EVERY Marketer Wants AND NEEDS… Must-See NOW (fast-action bonus)

Date: July 22, 2013 11:05:16 AM EDT

To: “Fellow Marketer” <infinito@xxxxx.us>

Reply-To: xxxxxxxx@gmail.com


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Pimping On Social Media

Can’t sleep. Princess Little Tree has been gone for three days now. I find it surprising that though it’s only been 8 months that we have been living together full time (I do not presently travel back and forth to NYC on a regular basis as was usual), there are so many things that seem different and difficult without her constant presence. Including sleep. The days are longer. Much longer. The evenings even more so. The nights even worse. I’ve always been a night owl since I can remember, but due to the three hour time difference here on the west coast and the need to be on east coast time for better business and communication AND the fact that it just feels better to be aligned with the rhythm of the home and the people in it, I began keeping more regular hours since living here full time. In the last six to eight months I’ve been getting to bed between 12 and 1 am most nights and waking up around 7 or 8. (It may not sound like much, but for anyone in the arts it’s damn near supernatural.) For the first time in my life. That could be a whole entry unto itself, this fascinating contrast between the pros and cons of night owls versus early birds. But I must say I haven’t minded it as much as one thinks they would, and in fact I have been pleasantly surprised by the advantages that can be had from awaking so early in the day. Definite benefits to it.
With that said, being here alone, better put, not having Princee Little Tree here with me as a time keeper, more precisely, as the stable reference point that I’ve quickly become aware that she is, the mechanism of getting to sleep at a decent time seems to have eluded me once more. Staying asleep once down just as challenging. It’s nearly 3 am now and I’ve been up for a little less than an hour, which means that I was only able to stay asleep for slightly more than an hour. And here I am wide awake, sitting up and writing. As if I never went to bed.
If that were the only challenge posed from her absence this setting could be bearable. Unfortunately it’s one of the least bothersome out of a seemingly endless sea of many. How on earth a man is supposed to eat properly without his beloved escapes me entirely, save the occasional waffle, bagel, bowl of cereal or slice of pizza. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen worse. Vancouver, who has yet to hook up with any permanent better half, eats as if he were a homeless person (no offense towards homeless people. But I’ve honestly never seen anything like it…) Of course I jest. Understanding how sexist an idea like this must seem to the more progressive among us. But unfortunately as with most things truly funny there is more truth to this than fiction or poetic license.
Most of all what I find the most disturbing is the unquenchable longing for her presence, her beingness. To see her smile. That smile of hers that only she can pull off. As if it were born to illuminate and radiate and lighten. She’s a miracle in her smile alone. To feel her essence in my space. That is something that nothing else can replace. It is a heavy aching longing of a feeling, one that I am grateful to be feeling After all, what is worse? To long for someone or anyone to miss? Or to miss someone that we are longing for? Having experienced both now, I choose the latter. It is for all intents and purposes what I had always guessed true love feels like. Severe pleasure when you’re together. Severe pain when you’re apart.

[Editorial note: typing on an iPhone — any smartphone for that matter one supposes — seems to compel us to subconsciously refrain from choosing large words or attempt to compose sentences even one-tenth as erudite as we would under normal circumstances. Especially given the iPhone’s inept auto-correct feature’s maddening penchant for distorting our intended words so blasphemously. (Even more so if you’re doing it with only one eye open and the other closed due to being so sleepy that you can’t see straight with both eyes open, as I’m apt to do late at night like this.) People are always shocked when they hear that many of the Transcendence Diaries entries are composed in the pitch black of the dead of night on an iPhone. I find it a gratifying sign that, although I’ve certainly grown up a tad and taken on at least an air of having more responsibility since getting married, that the general manly laziness that I’ve carried with me most of my adult life hasn’t entirely been left or been remade.
[In any case, this drag on our willingness to write as well on our handheld devices is subtle and tricky; it’s a slippery one to catch. But it’s there and must be subverted. You’ve got to remain vigilant and committed to writing as eloquently and completely as you would under any other circumstances. I assert that although an entirely new nomenclature is fast being created in society — more shortcuts, contractions, acronyms and slang, less allegiance to proper spelling and grammar, etc. — due to the advent of so much of what we do now being on smart phones, that it is still just as important to keep the torch lit for the art of good writing. One of the last vestiges of etiquette and civility left for us in this fast paced data-overloaded culture of diversity and recklessness. This trend is one of the Signatures of the Personal Expression Age we identified and predicted early on. Frankly i believe we are only seeing the beginning of it now and that the primary language of modern casual communication is going to become much more truncated and nuanced as younger generations grow up within the age not ever even being aware of what proper writing once looked and sounded like. Even punctuation is quickly disappearing from our day to day communication like frost on a windshield when you first start your car; it was there and now it’s not… the proper use of requisite capitalization has already left the building. Descriptive words will soon wither away and fade as well, seeming unnecessary, (or they will replace, stand in place of, the intended object). All as more and more people try to say more in less time and with less effort. But alas there are a few who are still attempting to uphold the old time-honored tradition of writing as an art form.]

So where were we…. Yes. The actual purpose for this late night intrusion into my solid eight was to make mention of how utterly unbeneficial (sic) and possibly even counter-productive it is to be constantly pimping one’s wares on the great social networks of the world. Facebook Twitter Tumblr StumbleUpon… they’re all becoming giant public billboards rather than meeting and greeting places. Sales conventions. That word “social” is what gives it away. Most of this is already in the aforementioned book and I dare say that if I don’t get to the releasing of it soon then I am bound to give most of it away in these pages so much so as to render it unnecessary.
But let us at least observe that when browsing a social network it is becoming increasingly more prevalent to see these so called “sponsored posts” or “recommended pages”, and if we didn’t call them up ourselves, i.e. desire to pull them towards us, into our awareness, all the pushing them down our throat in the world is not going to lure anyone into clicking or consuming any more than if you came pounding on our door in the middle of dinner like a Jehovah’s Witness. In fact that’s what it’s starting to feel like. One big “buy my religion” sales convention. Luckily, or not, depending on what your goals are, the advent of that blessed invention called the HIDE button on Facebook, is making it increasingly easier for us as consumers to escape the onslaught of social network sales people, and hence increasingly difficult for any of us as entrepreneurs to show our wares. A conundrum indeed. Of course if you aren’t pitching anything, if your profession is outside the realm of necessity of social, then this is entirely worthless information. This does beg the question though, “What professions in the modern world don’t at all need to rely at least a little on having a presence in the social networking world?”
I assume there is a plethora of data and opinion already in existence out there that reflect on these ideas. I read recently that “every idea ever invented since the dawn of man is now being re-invented and disseminated online every 48 hours.” It’s enough to lead one to believe that to say anything at all is a worthless endeavor. But I’d still suggest that the subtle style of suggestion goes a lot further in terms of long term growth and sustainability, and certainly in regards to respect and admiration, than hardcore pimping and selling in the modern age. There are people who use social media for nothing but sales, to the point that they will even take natural disasters or the worst human tragedies and turn them into a self centered sales vehicle. It is as if they aren’t aware that society has caught up with and is more than tired of them. Then there’s the user who will post the same music video ten times in a day; that’s where the Hide button really comes in handy.
True engagement from the heart, sincere conversation and dialogue goes a lot further than mere selling in today’s world, even if the goal is to ultimately sell. (That isn’t the goal for many of us. But for some it is. And it’s important to learn this lesson. The days of old fashioned selling are over. Especially if it makes one appear as if there is nothing more to them than meeting some quota or stroking their insecure ego. Social media may go a long way to serve in that at first, for most of us are generally kind and generous with our attention as long as it doesn’t hurt; the problem is that it quickly starts to hurt if it feels like it’s a one way street. “Watch my new video!!!!” or “Hey guys check out my new song!!!” seems a very 20th century way to promote oneself today.

I have been reluctant to mention this, for it’s been brewing for some time, but interestingly there is another phenomenon that opposes the above viewpoint and that is this: if you display and talk long enough about something, the product, if you just absolutely refuse to go away, people begin to soften to it, which has the effect of increasing that product’s sell-through potential. What may be completely uninteresting, not-preferred, undesirable, even objectionable or offensive one day has a good chance, if given enough of a push for a long enough period of time, of still being eventually consumed, even paid for. This applies to products, services, people as products, and equally to ideas.
Think of so-called hit songs. Hit songs are products that have been promoted to a small panel of radio stations, the distributors, across a particular country to play repeatedly in exchange for large sums of money and other forms of compensation; the key to it is the “play repeatedly” aspect, oftentimes more than any measurable quality of the product itself. We all know of thousands of songs that we now consider hit songs that when we first heard them we thought they were utter crap, only to slowly and inevitably change our mind about the same song a few weeks, months or years later. These songs achieve hit song status if enough listeners appear to “like” the song based on various data and feedback provided by said listeners. But what’s fascinating about this particular example is that the consumers in this case, the listeners, have a very slim chance of being the ones who decide whether or not they really “like” the product or not. Why? Because they hear the song so many times that they just start softening up to it, regardless of how they felt about it to begin with.
This isn’t the case for all hit songs. Obviously some appear on the scene and from the moment most people hear them they just fall madly in love with it, the true measure of a hit song, and a winning product. But in a large majority of cases, listeners have almost no say in what they consider a hit song; it’s played so many times in such a short period of time, giving the appearance of being a hit, that even those who despise it eventually begin to find something they believe they like about it. There are a variety of reasons why this happens — the human need to belong, not feel like an outsider, feel part of something bigger, and perhaps more than anything just the phenomenon of infinite repetition seems to break down resistance.
People as products, celebrities in some cases, work much the same way. Resist the Whoopi Goldbergs and Rosie O’Donnels and Mel Brooks and Kathy Grffins of the world all you want — but if they just find a way to keep themselves in front of people long enough they eventually become part of the accepted consciousness stream. We might spend the first twenty years of their first appearance on the scene wondering what the hell this person even does or offers — especially if their claim to fame is “being funny” but they don’t happen to be funny for example — but inevitably their desire to be an accepted and consumed product often overrides anyone’s doubts about their qualifications to be such.
Ideas offer an even more substantiated example of this phenomenon. Most are aware that the idea that the earth was round and revolved around the sun had been proposed more than a thousand years before it eventually became accepted, which means that the idea that “the earth is flat and is at the center of the solar system” was an accepted idea for a thousand years even though there was no proof of it and in fact more proof of the exact opposite theory. The idea was just pounded into mass consciousness and for lack of _________ (fill in the blank… resolve? strength? courage? knowledge? resources? access?) people just accepted the idea to be fact; walked around their whole lives assuming and teaching their children and children’s children that the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around it. I am sure we could think of hundreds of ideas that could serve as equally substantive examples of this same phenomenon. (What’s most intriguing is to pose the question “What current ideas in human society do we assume and take for granted NOW that will one day fit into this same group and seem outlandish and ludicrous?”)
Same sex marriage is an excellent example of this. An idea as a product, at first unaccepted and undesirable, offensive and objectionable to many, but slowly gaining traction in society as a whole right before our eyes, in our own lifetimes; we are witnessing the blowback in real time from the various groups around the world who still refuse to accept the idea, or, still refuse to consume the product. Many say it is an inevitability. It appears that way. And yet there are plenty of people who still resist it. Just as I’m sure there were who resisted the idea that the earth was in fact round and revolved around the sun.
What changed? Well for one thing the idea, the product, didn’t go away. Like a Whoopi Goldberg or a Kathy Griffin or a fill in the blank_______________. And that seems to be the key. Keeping the product, no matter what it is — tangible object, service, idea, person — in range, in line of sight, in earshot, for as long as it takes for people to soften up to it no matter how much they might resist it at first. Softening up leads to acceptance, reluctant or not, which seems to eventually lead to increased potential for consumption. (How many times have we bought an album years later, just “because”, by a musical artist that we once swore we “didn’t like” at first…?)
So how does this relate to not pimping your wares ad nauseum on social media? The ideas seem to be antithetical. Don’t pimp your wares to people who aren’t interested in buying if you want to earn respect and admiration. But if you could care less about respect or admiration, and instead your mission is mass consumption, think Donald Trump and his various enterprises — Celebrity Apprentice for example — then you strap in for the long haul and just go hog-wild pimping your product regardless of how it is initially received.
The funny thing about all this is that one notices that eventually the resistance dissipates, the resistors and naysayers seem to drift away, room is made, and eventually even respect and admiration can be had by even the least admirable and respectable products or persons a society has to offer. It seems to be only a matter of time, AND a product’s, or its promoter’s, degree of willingness to endure rejection, ridicule and criticism. Snake Oil anyone?

– Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone

Snowden and Hastings Signal a New Darkened America

        As NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden continues his escape from the hands of United States government officials abroad — he left Hong Kong for Moscow on Sunday reports say — news is continuing to leak about possible foul play in the auto accident that killed Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings. One can read the article here. (No need to rehash the details of the story here). Hastings is a hardcore journalist. Blew the lid off of several important stories over the years. He was being investigated by the FBI and at the same time was researching another explosive story about the government evidently; he sent a blind-copy broadcast email out to his friends and family alerting them to these facts and warning them that they would probably be questioned by the FBI in regards to him. Some believe the email itself to be suspicious, that perhaps Hastings didn’t really send it. Others believe that it was he who sent it but that the panic in his tone of the email and the fact that he died a few hours after sending it is fishy.
        Earlier today we were catching up on the latest events related to Edward Snowden. Sunday’s news shows were primarily quiet on the issue, except for the now-repugnant Meet the Press (David Gregory is destroying the once admirable benchmark Sunday news show formerly hosted by Tim Russert). Gregory spoke about Snowden as if he were a criminal and a fugitive, as if he had committed some kind of massive terrorist plot that killed hundreds of people — no different than how the United States government is talking about and handling the Snowden leak.
        At this point we expect that from the United States government (not everyone who works for it, but a seemingly large majority of them); but not from journalists. I am not sure if one could call Gregory a “journalist” per se. He’s more of a gossip monger and media whore for U.S. elected officials. But it was still surprising how willing he was to hang Snowden out to dry without any benefit of the doubt. Worse yet was Gregory’s handling of his interview with fellow journalist, The Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald. On live TV in front of potentially millions of viewers Gregory asked Greenwald whether he believed that he should be prosecuted “to the extent that you aided and abetted” Snowden.
        It was a shocking moment for anyone who understands what is happening in the United States at this time when it comes to American government tyranny and their broad-sweeping and consistent moves to lull citizens into thoughtless zombies with little or no rights. Gregory’s question was shamelessly less a question and more of a statement — a tactic he uses frequently in order to sneak his opinion into what should be objective journalistic dialogue; it was asinine to begin with because what person in their right mind would answer in the affirmative to such a question? “Yes David, I believe I should be prosecuted for aiding and abetting a criminal. In fact that’s why I’ve come on your show, to turn myself in.” So clearly David Gregory knew what the answer was going to be. The problem is he should never have asked the question. Especially now that even mainstream journalists in America are coming under attack so blatantly and on such a constant basis by the federal government for still attempting to do their job.
        [It should be pointed out that it isn’t the media who is doing something wrong as of late by reporting on issues they suspect to be possibly illegal or harmful to the citizens or the republic by the current American government. The fact that they do not agree with what the government is doing or wants to do is what’s at issue. The government is trying to brand anyone in the media who leans in a different direction as being partisan, or illegitimate or even criminal. They are doing the same thing with American citizens now too. But it isn’t the job of the media nor the people to agree with or approve of what the government does. In fact some might argue that our mandate is the exact opposite of that, to keep the government in check. Unfortunately the current government of the United States no longer seems to recognize that they work FOR the people. The set up is quite ominous now. There is a strong sense of fear in the air now about not appearing too opposed to or critical of this particular White House administration. As if it’s nearly a matter of life or death. The media for their part is still out there battling it out trying to do their job. At least some of them are. Fewer and fewer it seems.]
        And so it is now. Today is June 24th. The year is 2013. It doesn’t FEEL like the United States of America anymore. There is a palpable sense of worry and fear in the air among most people regarding the American government. As if we are in the throes of breathing our last breaths before some major final calamity. There is something terrifying and ominous about the sitting U.S. president Barack Hussein Obama. It’s not that people wish Mitt Romney were elected… (Republicans still do surely; but that isn’t what’s in the air.) It’s more like this strange dark-hearted mystery character that no one really knew too much about is starting to show his true colors… a suspicious evil is slowly leaking from his pores and Americans can sense it. One might say it’s a frightening unconscious awareness of just how wrong America got it when they jubilantly elected the man five years ago. But unfortunately it’s not just a vibrational unconscious fear at play.
        There are very specific and overt reasons for America’s pessimism and quick about-face in regards to Obama. There are so many heinous and egregious actions being taken by him and his administration both here at home and all over the globe that it’s erased any sense of hope or positivity the country once felt when he was first elected a few years ago. Unmanned drone strikes kill inumerable people all over the world without anyone knowing except the government or the people doing the killing. Along with them, other more sinister “targeted assassinations” are also being carried out now on a regular basis in what is being called “America’s Dirty Wars” in some fifty countries around the world. No congressional approval or declaration of war is necessary anymore. Obama writes a name on a piece of paper and a whole village in Yemen or Pakistan is bombed overnight, killing the man for suspected “terrorism” or even just hate-speech without an arrest or a trial AND countless innocent civilians along with him.
        It may sound outrageous, like some movie plot about a dystopian nightmare of some future fascist world, but it’s happening now. And it’s happening on a regular basis, everyday. Add to it the government’s continued attack on privacy and civil liberties — more now under the Obama administration than under the Bush/Cheney regime, their consistent attacks on media outlets, wire-tapping, giant spying programs that log ALL American citizens’ call records and internet usage without their knowledge, more arrests for minor drug possession than any other sitting president, continued torture and force feeding of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, government support and protection for giant evil monoliths such as Monsanto despite loud protests by the majority of the people, and a slow and steady devastation of the air and water from fracking by big oil companies due to a lack of regulation and a complete disregard for environmental protection laws already on the books. On and on it goes.
        This is just a random list off the top of one person’s head. With some study and research by a more knowledgeable person I am sure one would quickly become aware of many more countless harmful activities that are taking place that are not in the best interest of the American people. Unfortunately we’re not even discussing the more sinister conspiratorial issues that are at the heart of America’s downward spiral into indebtedness and decrepitude here. These are just the day to day news headlines that we live with on a daily basis now. And that’s what makes it so damn sad. Bush was scary. No one will argue with that. At least his agenda was. But this is more than scary. It’s terrifying. And sad. It feels as though America has quickly fallen into the hands of some kind of wicked police state overnight without our knowing. 
        Perhaps the worst part of it is that it appears that every time someone steps up to speak up or speak out against the U.S. government in today’s world they mysteriously die of some odd unnatural causes. Or they are hunted down like a fugitive and imprisoned and never heard from again. It’s making the Bush/Cheney years start to feel like the good old days. And that is a frightening prospect. If only it didn’t feel so true.

James Gandolfini and the 8 Foods We Eat in America That Are Banned in Other Countries

The news that Sopranos actor James Gandolfini had died on Wednesday hit most Americans with at least a little surprise. Death does that. It’s so permanent. As sad as the event is to some, if not everyone, (especially those close to the man one assumes), there was an odd sense of something uncannily not surprising about it.

(I only met Gandolfini once. We shared a pleasant three hours together with a few other guys smoking cigars in Midtown Manhattan a few years ago. Though I would not classify us as being close, he was as nice a chap as anyone else you’d want to hang out with.) Wednesday’s news could have been about anyone. In fact it was. James Gandolfini was after all just another one of the many thousands of people who die everyday. And lest we forget, approximately every four seconds someone on planet earth dies from hunger or thirst alone; in addition to all the people who pass on from accidents or natural causes.

The only reason this event received more attention than the ten to fifteen souls who died in the last sixty seconds while I was writing this will is because of America’s insanely hard to rationalize obsession with Hollywood celebrities. There’s no logic in it. No anthropological undercurrent of genetic or survival instincts at play. It’s just a very strange disorder of priorities, most likely created by the evolution of American society into a thrill, luxury and pleasure seeking society as opposed to a day to day survival based one.

As I expressed through various social media a few moments after we heard the news, the biggest take away from Gandolfini’s death — besides the obvious empathy for his family, is just how young he was. Because life expectancy continues to increase as knowledge of health and wellness information expands and technology advances, 51 years today is what 31 used to be. Most men aren’t even peaking in life yet in many Western and even Asian cultures. It’s a terribly young age to die, as in the forever kind of death. In this regard its shocking and more than sad. Though for those who knew Gandolfini even from a distance it wasn’t the craziest thing ever heard. He certainly didn’t look 51. Personally I thought he was closer to 65. Not that that would be any less disturbing. 65 may have been a ripe old age to die once upon a time but these days it seems just plain tragic. The man did appear to be much older than he was and he certainly didn’t appear to be healthy or even health conscious or concerned.

This got me to thinking about what a strange place the United States is in regards to our beloved capitalism and our health. On the one hand we pride ourselves on possessing one of the most liberal free markets in the world today, i.e. very few rules laws and regulations and thus an easy environment to make a ton of money in fast. On the other hand this has led us to simultaneously have one of the most inhumane and criminal set of circumstances and practices related to the public health. America is one of the only “civilized” or “first world” countries in the world where people can still be notoriously dishonest with each other to the point of killing each other in the name of making money. Whether it’s poison food or deadly drugs and so-called medicines or environmental toxins in our air and water, it ain’t hard to get away with committing alarmingly egregious acts in the name of business and free enterprise.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating. There is no way the average person in America could grow up here and raise a family and know how to live a healthy lifestyle unless they actually do a ton of research on their own and are willing to almost entirely buck the system and go against the status quo. If you just live your life doing what everyone else does or what you see illustrated in the mainstream or recommended by the medical establishment you’re bound to get sick and die of unnatural causes. This is primarily due to the legal bribery and blackmail system that governs and controls the United States White House and Congress; they call it “lobbying”. 99% of Americans don’t even realize this is how the government works (or doesn’t work better put), so they don’t understand that there is a problem to fix. They assume everything is okay, safe, secure, been set up already, and all they have to do is follow the rules and they’ll be fine. Little do we all know.

Only in America can you manufacture and sell poison food and get away with it while being fully aware that 1 out of 3 people will get cancer but be fine with it because “everybody does it.” Below is an interesting article on 8 poisonous foods that Americans consume daily but are banned in other countries. You can see the list by clicking here.
And this list though shocking is actually pretty slim compared to the reality. It just touches the surface. Americans are so accustomed with the notion that most people get cancer and heart disease and Alzheimer’s that they take it for granted. They seem to believe that these diseases are “natural causes”. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

There’s more. Much more. Because the practice extends way beyond our food. It’s the environment. The air. The water. Over the counter medicines and toiletries. Prescription medications. Doctors and the health care system. Everywhere you look you see blatant causes of America’s leading causes of illness, premature aging and untimely death. And though there is common knowledge about these facts within the industries that produce these goods and provide these practices and within the government, the knowledge is not shared with the people because it would limit the amount of money that tens of thousands of American companies could generate unless they changed their business procedures and practices or their entire business model.

This would hurt the economy we are told. We have always been told this since the invention of invention and commerce. It’s the oldest excuse in the world. And yet it is firmly held belief by many. A rallying cry of big and little business across the board. Fluoride is a great example. Cows milk is another. On and on. So for now, as things stand, each and every person in the States needs to look out for their own health and wellness and yet of their family. No federal agency or sitting president or mainstream media outlet or medical doctor is going to advise us to not grill meat because it causes cancer or not drink diet soda because it has been proven to make one MORE obese and cause brain tumors. This is all information one has to find out for themselves. It’s unfortunate for the James Gandolfinis of the world. Whether they’re famous actors or just good old fashioned regular folk.

Why Promote Your Status Update? Exploring the Personal Expression Age

Promoting Status Update

I now notice that Facebook is offering a Promote button on personal profiles, where for a few quid more you can advert your status updates to receive more attention/exposure. (I’ve promised a new blog entry to The Transcendence Diaries daily from now on, as in days of old, so if any status update goes beyond 4 lines I turn it into a blog btw. Standby and we’ll see what happens here…) Point being that this new trend compels one to realize that the world is quickly jumping to a “whoever has the most money gets the most attention” model, (in point of fact it is actually swerving damn fast towards “whoever has the most money gets ALL the attention” — but this jumps the gun a bit) even on traditionally free platforms such as social media. Of course there is the “whoever makes the biggest arse of themselves that day” model as there’s always been, but that’s usually just good for the requisite “fifteen minutes (now fifteen seconds) of fame” type of exposure; in one ear and out the other faster than that pregnant mom of eight sea-monkeys in Kenosha, Wisconsin can find a crack publicist who’ll take her on for a three month stint.

In general the prediction made in the book We Are the Revolution — Welcome to the Personal Expression Age about the coming trend of “the commoditization of the individual, of every individual” as a Signature of the age, is slowly inching toward becoming a very solidified reality in Western culture and thus globally. (Even the most ardent despisers of all things American still recognize that, one, in order to make a big splash financially one normally has to make it in the USA, and two, that in terms of cultural perception of mainstream success on a global scale, “making it in the US” is still the benchmark of how successful one is perceived to be). But that’s subtext.

The bigger picture point is that if regular everyday folk using social media to communicate mundane daily activities with friends, classmates, family and neighbors are now being encouraged to “Promote” their status updates for no obvious or immediate economic benefit, what’s next? [Okay so now this is where we switch to a cut and paste from this Facebook status update to a blog entry usually, which despite my aversion to the extra work involved and a deep seated though irrational longing to just stay right here and keep typing, I will now do. Here we go. That’s better.]

In order to answer this ‘what’s next’ question perhaps it would be helpful to remind ourselves of the primary driver, and trigger, of this new Age of Personal Expression, i.e. we’ve now entered an era where growing up moderately healthy and successful — doing well in school, graduating from college, getting married, buying a house of your own, having 2.5 kids, retiring by age 65 with a decent pension — is no longer enough to fulfill the average human being’s need for personal gratification, satisfaction or validation.

The need to be publicly acknowledged and/or recognized through Personal Expression (PE) of nearly any and all means necessary (or available) has replaced the more traditional forms of personal satisfaction. Becoming public, becoming a public sensation, even if for a brief moment, has become the new “got married, had a kid, just earned my Masters or bought my first house, etc.”; UNLESS any of those events happens to make it easier for someone to “draw a crowd” or gain more access to the plethora of perceived public attention that appears available now to anyone, i.e. if getting married can be perceived as being a unique form of Personal Expression that may garner one more attention than the average bear, then that event is still perceived by the person to be a major life moment worth investing in.

If not, then it feels plain, ordinary, pedestrian and therefore might not be as exciting as endeavoring to attempt something else that feels more authentically PE; at least and especially while one is young and still believes themselves to have plenty of good years left, (or old and feels like they’ve already “been there done that” with the more traditional vehicles of personal satisfaction mentioned above). [This is a deliberately short synopsis of a much larger paradigm explored fully in the book, but it should suffice in order to follow the main point(s) of this blog entry.]

From where we sit now — nine years into the research of this age and the book that explores it — the above summarizes both the primary continuous driver of the age AND the primary trigger that got us here in the first place. So, with the “commoditization of the individual” Signature now starting to trend in real time, e.g. “Promote your status update or Tweet to your friends to “let people know it’s important”” [a direct quote from Facebook June 18th, 2013], which costs money, it is clear that our global society as a whole is definitely heading toward a “whoever has the most money gets the most attention” or better put, “whoever has the most money gets all the attention” model of day to day life. And yet ordinary folks with no financial or career-goal gain to be had from going more public will still feel compelled to participate in such activities such as promoting their status updates or tweets or anything they can think of in order to garner more public attention, even if it just means among their local community or friends group.

The truth is that most people will never gain much of anything from such an action. One promoted status update or tweet in this overcrowded marketplace of pseudo-celebrities (another Signature of the Personal Expression Age) does not a celebrity make. And yet because of the two primary factors triggering, allowing and continuing this trend — the relatively new longing of the average individual to feel famous, and the corporate greed that creates the technological platforms to make the fulfillment of that desire or at least the perception of it available — people will still jump at the chance. Facebook will bring in tens of millions of dollars in extra revenue this year from regular everyday Joes being willing to pay for the perception that “more people saw their promoted status update”. No one is claiming that Facebook will not in some way “promote these paid status updates” to a larger target audience than if one didn’t pay to promote it. That isn’t the implication. Nor the point.

The intriguing takeaway is that people will do it in the first place; and the fact that someone who works at Facebook actually had the idea in the first place — and furthermore that someone else higher up actually thought it was a valid enough experiment to at least try. It is a clear indication that we have now passed the threshold in mass consciousness of understanding the undercurrent drivers of the Personal Expression Age — they are beginning to be taken for granted — AND have reached the first stage of a global trend toward the Commoditization of the Individual en masse.
More later. Much more. Just thoughts in the moment.

One Battle Out of Many Abated

It’s 3:30 am. Slightly more than the usual insomnia. [Note: One conflicting aspect of the Personal Expression Age in regards to social media is the tendency and temptation for us to head for the immediate gratification of posting to a public site such as Facebook or Tumblr rather than our own blog or website, which is obviously a more permanent, and financially lucrative, place to sit one’s deepest innermost thoughts and feelings. It’s a phenomenon that I’ve just recently been observing, having noticed that over the last four years — since the advent of social media gone mainstream — there is direct correlation between how little I post to these Diaries on a regular basis now, compared to the seven years prior, and how much more time I dedicate to being actively engaged on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr. This is something we should explore in more detail later….]

So rather than “writing” — that sacred act once studied and revered of sitting down to participate in the art and craft of honing one’s ideas with the written word into something potentially coherent, permanent and hopefully even beautiful and admired for all the world to see for an eternity, something that I’d made a daily habit out of for more than twenty-five years, I opted instead for the more ephemeral and much simpler and easier (though perhaps more immediately gratifying) act of a lazy status update on Facebook. This is a trend, perhaps even a habit now, that I fully intend to break in this new year. The point was a simple yet major one. A very recent and profound victory over and breakthrough in my battle with ADD.

[I do believe in sharing, that it’s important to “share”, which is one of the primary benefits of the Age of Personal Expression, this new loving embrace for public sharing…. but for artists a balance must still be found between the two: this temptation to share instantly through social media, and the more tasteful and permanent art of writing. One cannot suddenly abandon one’s occupation of the art and craft of fine writing and letters and replace it with social media posts that are not only inherently temporary but also obligated by necessity to be limited in scope and depth just because it happens to be easier and more instantly gratifying. Unless of course they want to and choose to. That’s their choice. I know many a fine writer who has drifted off into these uncharted shallow rocks never to be heard from again except in little blurps and bleeps on Facebook or Twitter, their wit and wisdom once preserved for the ages now reduced to mere one or two sentence anecdotes, sarcastic comments or the occasional angry rant. As a fan of fine writing I’ve found the trend to be saddening. …

Nonetheless, last night at least, I caved once more. There is something very appealing about that instant read that one feels they receive when posting to a social network that now feels lost even when posting to a popular blog, which theoretically and realistically is just as public as any social network. The irony is that feeling is the same feeling we used to get when we first started posting here over ten years ago. There were no social networks. So the idea of posting one’s innermost secrets online in general — knowing that within minutes or hours others would be reading them, was completely enticing, exciting and exhilarating. Just as posting to a social network like Facebook is today. And with instant links and feeds from one’s blog to every social network out there available, there really is no reason why we should feel so torn and tempted. Perhaps it’s the instantaneous part of it that is so tempting. Or perhaps it’s the more engaging aspect of it…. Depending on what one posts, one can literally almost guarantee themselves some kind of response if that’s what they’re after. Frankly my honest appraisal of this strange phenomenon is that it just comes down to pure laziness. Status updates on social networks are like blowing bubbles. Here now, gone tomorrow. Or like thoughts never revealed in our roaming mind… Here. Gone. What? So there exists no need to perfect them or hone them in. The growing trend in communication amongst ourselves as a society is to focus far less on how we say things and rather just on getting them out, regardless of merit, form or function. This may not necessarily be a good thing. Let’s end this train of thought now and venture out toward the open sea where we originally were headed.]

Where were we? Insomnia. Yes. In case that wasn’t already obvious. But perhaps this time of day or night is best for this type of post. For any other ADD/ADHD folk out there, I am happy and relieved to report that after decades of struggling, maddening frustration and trying everything out there and then some (including brain mapping and even low frequency electromagnetic brain zapping therapy) I believe we’ve finally found something that actually works. Lo and behold it turned out to be the oldest, most obvious and commonly used treatment. Just took a while to get the nerve to try it. Anyone else out there still challenged by it, just know that it is real, it’s not in your imagination, you’re not crazy, it is indeed physical /chemical /biological and not just “all in your mind” as many people try to get you to believe; AND better still there may be a chance there’s a solution out there for you out of the many that are becoming available. Keep trying. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. -Fishy

And thus was the post. Which yielded a string of inquiries as to just what treatment was I referring to specifically. It wasn’t something I had planned on revealing publicly truth be told. But if the sharing aspect of the Personal Expression Age cannot be fully expressed and utilised as we originally predicted it would be to yield full-on democratic revolutions of entire nation-states then it really doesn’t hold much value at all. So privacy be damned we must at least attempt to embrace this growing trend honestly openly enthusiastically and wholeheartedly. So I replied.

OK peeps, I wasn’t going to actually mention what was working for me personally, because I think it’s such a physically personal thing, dependent on each individual’s own biology, that I don’t necessarily think what works for one person is guaranteed to work for another. Plus, there is so much controversy regarding meds for this condition, especially certain ones. But for me, it was Ritalin. But only 5mg doses. What they call “a children’s dose”. Old school. It’s only been a week, but the difference has been intensely noticeable. First recommended by doctors when I was diagnosed at 4, my parents absolutely refused to put me on it. And ever since I’ve tried every other med and therapy that exists in my refusal to try that one. What changed? A close family member, Beaver actually, I found out was going through the same exact search attempting to deal with the same symptoms. Granted he had never been diagnosed with ADD when we were children, but after relaying a series of symptoms to his doctor it was suggested that he take the standard ADHD written test and sure enough he scored something like an 87 out of 100 on it. Damn close to my 93. [Being an avid and proud skeptic, not only did I insist on taking the test several times in different versions, I also demanded that my wife and several other friends and family members take it as well to see if “everyone” would have the same score if given the same test. I was quite surprised to see that after taking the test on two different occasions, Princess Little Tree scored less than 10 both times. This strange fact helped verify for us that perhaps there was some validity to the test after all and it wasn’t just an over generalisation trap where all who took it would appear to have this popular new dis-ease.]

After a year of trying everything under the sun Beav’s doctor finally said “we could always go old school and try a children’s dose of Ritalin.” His desperate reply, “Well it can’t be worse than all the other things we’ve tried… fine.” After a few months of surprised success and regular use he suddenly remembered ME, thank you (what took you so long?), and realised “Holy crap I have to tell Fishy about this! He has this a lot worse than I do! I wonder if he’s ever tried this one.” I resisted at first, knowing all about it, what it is, what it does, knowing that like most other amphetimines it could make me pass out in ten minutes OR worse cause me massive anxiety…

(Though we’ve still not discovered the genetic abnormality nor even the chemical problem in the human brain of those with ADHD, one very strange characteristic of those who are challenged with it is that speed for lack of a better word, or stimulants of any kind, work in the reverse on them. Thus coffee or tea or diet pills or amphetamines of any kind will usually make someone with ADHD feel sleepy rather than wired. And sure enough any sort of downers such as barbiturates or tranquillisers will make an ADHD person feel more alert, talkative and motivated. I have personally suffered but also benefited from this weird reality since I can remember. If I drink a cup of tea I fall asleep. If I drink a cup of coffee I begin to yawn and feel tired. If i take a valium I feel like I just took speed. It’s crazy weird. But after a few years of dealing with it, one starts getting the hang of how to use it to one’s advantage or else I assume one would just off themselves. Because frankly it’s a terribly confusing and frustrating way to live. If you’ve ever noticed this about yourself there’s a good chance you’ve got either ADD or ADHD and it just hasn’t been diagnosed yet. Now you know.)

Regardless of all this, I have still always resisted taking uppers of any kind. But Beaver sounded so encouraged and relieved from the agonising ADD symptoms he was experiencing that I just decided I had to try it. For the last few years especially, life has been more than challenging. It’s been downright excruciating. I usually refrain from talking or writing about it publicly because number one it’s extremely personal, and number two I don’t wish to influence people in any way one way or another toward believing anything limiting about themselves. But yes if I was to be totally open and brutally honest with the world about this subject, I would admit that I took pain killers for years on a daily basis starting at the age of around 16 in order to manage my attention in order to just do the normal things in life that everyone else seems to have no problem with. This eventually led to a nearly fatal mental and physical breakdown in 2008 that was officially dubbed “exhaustion” to the public and I ended up in a rehab and then my parents’ home to slowly detox and rebuild my health.

The only problem was that I was then faced with having to deal with living daily life with a severely screwed up brain and nervous system (that’s in essence how ADHD feels) without pain killers, and as any doctor or patient will attest, nothing treats ADHD better than opiates. That particular combination of chemicals known as opioids just happens to work the best for people who struggle with the host of symptoms lodged under the ADHD mantle. Late 2008 early 2009 was the worst six months of my life. I was happy to not be always on the chase for pills, but the truth is that in this day and age with online pharmacies so prevalent it was never really a hassle finding or buying them. So it wasn’t like I ever labeled myself an addict. And strangely enough neither did any of the doctors who began treating me. They instead said that I was one of those rare cases of someone who lucked into finding the exact drug that worked best for what they had and I was self medicating with it. It just happened to be illegal to self medicate your ADHD with pain killers. At least now it is. This I predict, and so do many professionals in the psychiatric industry, is going to change sooner than later. There is after all a reason why so many tens of millions of people reach for pain killers and once found find themselves more adept, more efficient, more functional and more productive with even small doses.

There are details to the story that should stay private. For now. Let us agree that it is challenging to wake up one day and realise that the rest of your life you are going to spend with your chest on fire with anxiety, that you can’t focus your attention on anything for more than a second or two, that you are unable to finish anything that you start, that you feel a constant state of fear inside you that literally stings, so much so that you find it excruciating to do the simplest things like go out socially or even answer the phone, let alone have a job or take a shower, that you have a supernatural long term memory but you cannot remember why you entered a room or picked up your phone or a notebook, that you never know what day it is or what the date is, you don’t know your age or anyone’s age for that matter because there’s “that thing with numbers….” Worst of all, you’re always in pain. Life. Just. Seems. And feels. Unbearably painful. At least in the mind and body you are in. And God knows you’ve tried everything that exists or has ever existed on planet earth or anywhere else in the known universe to help or heal, but so far nothing has.

For me now it’s been more than four years of regular visits to psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, specialists, healers, gurus, psychics, mediums, soul readers, you name it. If it exists we’ve tried it. All in our quest to “find out how to fix Fishy.” Princess Little Tree often recounts how crazy, courageous and resilient I am all at the same time because I often appear more like a lab rat than a human in just the sheer amount of medications that have been shoved into my body over the last four years in our attempt to help find a solution. Doctors have been stymied but vigilant. And slowly we’ve found some even ground to rest on. Things have gotten increasingly better. Though I do long to help others, and I think most people would attest to agreeing with that statement, the exact combination of medications that they now use to treat my specific condition I would prefer to keep private except for what’s already been mentioned. It’s been a long and very hard road. Not just for me but for the entire family. I believe Princess Little Tree has probably suffered the most second only to me. She had no idea when we got engaged that it would be this difficult. Frankly neither did I. But that’s the negative spin. The positive spin is that it appears at least this week that we’ve turned a new corner and won a major victory here.

After hearing from Beav regarding his success with Ritalin, I talked to my doctor in New York and he was like “Hey, you’re talking about a very small nearly negligible dose there… It’s less than what we would usually give children. And you usually fall asleep with medications like that. Or they exacerbate your anxiety. But at this point I don’t know what else to do for you and I know you’re struggling bad right now Fishy. I’m willing to try it if you are.” So we did. Worry Fear Anxiety Nervousness all preceded that first morning about one week ago. “Here we go,” my wife’s and my own eyes said to one another as I took the first dose on the first morning, ready for the worst. What would it be this time? A freakout? A massive anxiety attack? I pass out for hours with her hovering over me checking to see if I’m still breathing? An emergency 911 call, paramedics gathered around my bed while I lay there with my hand on my chest gasping for air? All possibilities and former experiences since this adventure first began four years ago.

But instead I felt intensely focused, motivated, energised and in control of my attention for the first time since I used to use Vicodin for the same purpose. After a 30 year battle, including years of self-medicating with both natural and unnatural, legal and illegal substances, ingesting things, not ingesting things, fasting, cleansing, vegan, non-vegan, and every spiritual religious pseudo-spiritual new age practice or self help course ever invented for spies like us I finally know what it’s like to actually feel focused and not totally freaking distracted and unable to control my mind for more than two seconds. I’ve worked harder and smarter in the last five days than I have in years. The caveat: Ritalin IS speed. There’s no getting around that reality. There are side effects. Like last night’s insomnia. (I took my second dose too late in the day.) AND you are going to encounter the usual cadre of well-meaning but ignorant know-it-alls who for some reason misperceive that you’ve solicited their advice as they recount how unhealthy it is and how easy it would be for you to go au natural etc.

But the real message of this ramble is this: Only YOU know YOU and what you’ve been through. And only YOU know what’s worked for you and what hasn’t. It’s really nobody else’s business. And if they are all up on your shit for feeling better, it’s most likely they who need some healing of their own. God only knows you’ve already tried anything and everything they’ll good-naturedly offer you. I moved the majority of this post to the Transcendence Diaries in order to add more details and finish this just for the sake of privacy. Today I have tried to share more openly than I ever have before regarding my own personal experiences with these things, for I know how frustrating it can be for others after years of struggling with it myself. What has worked for me may not necessarily work for someone else. But it just might. You never know till you try. For now, I’m quite surprised that we found something that seems to help. It’s one battle out of many that we are currently facing for some reason slightly ameliorated for the time being. And that’s a damn good thing.

Seeking a Silver Lining

It took a while but it finally happened. IT happened. Maybe it’s a good thing… When it happens to us it often hurts… So we resist it. We often label it “bad” and thus put it off, or even when it does happen we continue to label it bad, which then prevents us from seeing the good in it. A little backstory…

Last night we saw the film Silver Linings Playbook. I had no idea what the film was about, but was sucked in from the very first minute. See it. It’s better than good. Due to this new trend of infinite potential greatness in art all happening simultaneously, I found it easy to exclaim that Silver Linings was the best movie of the year, beating out even Speilberg’s Lincoln, before settling back down into recognizing that we are now in an age when it’s possible for there to be MANY “best movies of the year” all at the same time.

[This is a fairly new and exciting trend, due to many factors; globalization being one, another being the continued decline of the cost of the tools and technologies of all the various fields of art. Whether filmmaking or music making or just about anything else, the cost of entering, the entry fee, has come down to a price point making it possible for anyone to make a movie or an album or whatever else the heart and mind can imagine. It’s one of the Signatures of the Personal Expression Age and has both good and bad ramifications. It’s not the purpose of this particular post, but in the book I’ve been working on for the last six years, we elaborate on it in much more detail. Suffice it to say that this Signature has created a world where there is more “Best Of the Year” projects being released simultaneously than any one consumer could possibly take in — unless you make being a consumer of art your career.]

So towards the end of the film, during the end credits roll actually, we hear this song, an amazing song, an incredible song, sounded like the Stone, or the Faces, maybe Chris Robinson’s new band. As always I waited till the very end of the movie to see who the artist was. It turned out to be a group called Alabama Shakes. The song was called “Always Alright.” I took a note of it in my phone in the usual file where I note music that I plan on purchasing later. The film ended. We exited the theatre, talking idly about how great the film was, how believable, how real, how moving; our dialogue occasionally interspersed with my excited exclamations of “how fucking great that song was, wow!”

In the men’s room a few minutes later I was still thinking about that song, fantasizing about that moment when I would be able to go home and buy it and listen to it over and over. And then it hit me, just standing there in front of the urinal. I didn’t need to wait till I got home. I could pull out my phone right there while still taking a piss and download the song using iTunes and listen to it immediately. So i reached into my pocket to grab my phone. But then another realization. I didn’t need to go to iTunes. I could probably just go to YouTube and do a Search for it. So i did. Sure enough, ten to twenty different versions of this particular songs came up and I began to listen to each one until I found the one I was looking for. (I never did. Instead I listened to a few live versions of the song, never finding the actual recording of the song itself.) But that was enough. I got my fill of it. At least for the moment.

When we got in the car to drive home, I took it further and plugged my phone into a little quarter inch jack we’ve rigged into our car stereo so we can listen to our iPods and iPhones through the car’s stereo system. I didn’t think much about this experience truth be told. For whatever reason, IT didn’t happen then. But it did this morning.

This morning I woke up with the song “This Guys’s in Love with You”, the Herb Albert version, in my head while I was dreaming. With eyes still closed I fumbled my hands around the bed seeking my phone so I could check my iTunes library to see if i had already downloaded the song. I wanted to hear it. Right then and there, before I woke up fully and the day started. And THAT’S when IT hit me. I didn’t need to check my iTunes library to listen to the song. Who cares if i had already downloaded the song. All i had to do was go to YouTube. Sure enough, there it was. In hundreds of different forms, uploaded by hundreds of different people. Within less than a minute I was listening to this haunting and beautiful Burt Bacharach song over and over again and not paying a dime for it. And THIS is when it really hit me.

For the last six months I have been struggling like a mother fucker to make ends meet for my family. My last big hit was in May of this year. The checks from sales and royalty checks roll in eventually and that’s always a great thing. But they aren’t what they used to be. Not even close. Something has changed. Many things have changed. You can have a song that goes to #1 in cities all over America and even jump up into the Top 30 on Billboard and still not be able to support yourself as a working musician. It’s not something we talk about. Call it denial. No one wants to talk about it. But it’s happening. Access to music has become so easy for all of us as consumers that it’s become impossible for those of us who make music for a living to make an actual living at it. It’s no one’s fault per se. It’s just the way the industry has shifted.

Sure we make money every time someone downloads one of our songs or albums. We do. And it’s good money. If it’s done in the traditional legal and above board fashion, ala going through amazon.com or iTunes, we get paid for that. So the first thing is just to continue to encourage friends and fans to buy our songs and albums. Because that is still our primary means of making a living. But this morning I watched it happen with my own eyes. Not as a working musician, but as a consumer and lover of music. I just wanted my fix in that moment of this song. And I went to the fastest way i knew how to get it. YouTube. And the sad truth of the matter is that we as artists don’t get paid when people listen to our music on YouTube. It doesn’t matter that “Gangam Style” has become the most viewed video on YouTube in terms of the artist making any money from it. He doesn’t. It might feel good. And yes, surely it leads to other potential money making opportunities. Maybe. But the act itself does not make any money. Nor did it help Herb Alpert or Burt Bacharach when I listened to “This Guy’s in Love With You” ten times in a row this morning on YouTube. Hell, I even Shared the song on Facebook and Twitter to spread the joy with my friends and fans. And that led to more people listening to the song on YouTube. For free.

And that’s the operating word now in our industry. Free. People that like having easy access to music and listening to music for free will jump at this point in the discussion to point out that artists DO get paid if people listen to our music on Pandora or Spotify. But let’s yank that cat out of the bag once and for all so the whole world can feel the shock and pain of it as much as we who make the music do. You ever wonder how much we get paid each time someone listens to one of our songs on Pandora or Spotify? It looks like this: $00.0001. That’s what it looks like. On the statements we receive each month or quarter from the various different companies who collect and distribute the data and money to us. Hundreds of pages comprise these statements. And we do get to see each and every time someone listens to (streams) or downloads one of our songs or albums.

Sometimes it’s in the millions. Or even tens of millions. “Scene in San Francisco” has been streamed more times than I can count at this point. But at that rate of pay, it amounts to less than enough to make your mortgage payment. Which is why most working musicians rent. And worse, that’s ONLY if people are listening through very firmly established music services, like MOG or turntable.fm or Spotify or Pandora. Most of the places people go online to listen to music, like YouTube for example, don’t offer a way for the artist to make even one-one-hundredth of a cent from that experience. Not a penny. Not half a penny. Not a tenth or even a hundredth of a penny. Zero. Combine that with the fact that most people have stopped buying music — why WOULD you BUY music when you can listen to it for free anytime you want to from a device that is literally in your hands 23 out of every 24 hours in a day? — and what you end up with is an industry where 99% of the people working in it aren’t able to make a living from it.

This was a huge realization for me this morning. For months I have been struggling to decide what to do about this. I have never seen anything as heart breaking as my poor new wife crying her eyes out in fear that we are already broke and penniless because my well ran dry so fast after having two Top 30 hits this year. I’ve never seen anyone so frightened. “I’m not used to this like you are,” she scream-mumbled in between big sobs and moans… “What are we going to do???” she asked me. I had no answer. Only, “I’ll think of something honey. I promise. Our new album just came out. We’ll get money from the sales of that.”

But i knew I was kidding myself, being delusional. Those days of big sales numbers from a new album release for most of us started drying up in ’05. Sooner than that for some people. Adele’s last album, 21, just topped the 10 million mark I believe, making it one of the few albums in decades to sell that many. Albums that now sell a million, what we call Platinum, are few and far between. It’s a small earthquake in our industry when it happens. Selling half a million, what we call Gold, happen a bit more, but we are talking about maybe five to ten artists a year now. For the most part, the large majority of working music makers sell in the thousands. The last stat I read was disarmingly sad and sobering. It showed that out of the 5,000 albums a month that are released each year, less than one-thousand of them sell a thousand copies or more. Most of those are in the classical music genre. That’s 60,000 albums a year that get released, with less than 1000 of them selling even one-thousand copies. Don’t bother doing the math. It’s so far below the poverty line that it isn’t even worth considering how much those artists make. It certainly isn’t enough to support a family.

For me the big realization happened towards the end of this year. We were convinced that with all the hype and sales and radio airplay and Billboard hit making that we were doing earlier in the year that it would lead to bigger and better things, i.e. more money. At least enough to live comfortably. Or live, period. But it happened fast. The money comes and the money goes. Whatever you make usually goes right back into either making more music or marketing and promoting the music you’ve already made in an attempt to reach more people and make a bigger splash. It’s throwing money after money is what it is. It used to work. And for a very few it still does. But they’re few and far between.

We are supposed to make money every time our songs get played on the radio. This is true. So with a song like “Scene in San Francisco” where it received tens of thousands of spins on radio stations all over America and eventually the world, you would think we would have received tens of thousands of dollars from it. But it doesn’t work that way. There are three companies in the entire world that collect all that money for every musician on planet earth. ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. And they collect hundreds of billions of dollars each year from our music being played on the radio. But their systems are crooked. They don’t pay per spin. They claim to have a proprietary system that they can’t reveal to anyone. Not even Congress, who has been breathing down their backs for nearly a century to try to get them to conduct a more honest and transparent business.

So big hit or not, two big hits or not, what ASCAP wanted to pay me personally came to less than $3,000. I went into a bloody apoplectic seizure when I found out. See, it isn’t that they didn’t collect the money. They collected the money alright. From every single radio station in America and beyond they collect plenty of money. And it’s not that they cannot see how many times each song has been played. They can. The system is all computerized now. It’s easy to discover how many millions of times your song has been played on radio each year. That’s not the issue. The issue is that they “cannot reveal their proprietary system” to the artists that shows how they calculate how much money they are going to pay out for all your radio spins. It’s a fucking nightmare. They’re the mafia of the music industry. Pirates. Raking in huge sums of money on behalf of every working musician in the world with no intention of paying it out.

That’s radio airplay. Sales is a different matter. Coldplay’s record label spent five million dollars just on promotion of their last album (the one before this latest one) in their attempt to get the sales they needed to pay for the recording of the album. I never bothered to check to see if they made the money back. I just couldn’t believe that they spent five million dollars on marketing and promotion alone. It was an astounding figure. A huge risk. But for a very established act.

Most artists don’t have that kind of established reputation in the industry, nor access to a record label with enough liquidity to be able to afford to do something like that. For their last album, just a few short years had gone by, but by this point their record label had gone bankrupt, gotten divided up and all the little pieces sold off to a variety of different other players, and so the money for marketing and promotion wasn’t there. Instead of throwing five million dollars around for marketing and promotion, they chose a different path. They teamed up with Google Music and put the new album up for sale for .99 cents to try to market it. They sold an 250,000 units through that stunt. Which was considerably more than they had sold up until that point. And that’s a huge artist.

But again do the math. If the artist only receives ten percent of the net proceeds…. Yikes. Split that 25 grand four ways if you’re in a band and you better be married to Gwyneth Paltrow, because you aren’t eating if you aren’t. Personally speaking, I’m not. So I need to come up with a different plan of action to make a living and support my family. And fast. It doesn’t mean I don’t love making music. I do. I’ve already written a few thousand songs. So for me the whole mission is to just try to record and release as many of the songs I’ve written over the last thirty years as I can before I die. The fans I do have deserve it. I know that. And I deserve it. I want to. There is nothing more painful than having thousands of songs sitting in notebooks unrecorded. Nothing I can think of. At least not for an artist. But I also need to make a living.

After this morning’s experience, after watching how easy it was for me, me, a working musician myself, someone who has always resisted the trends of accessing music or free for fear it might jeopardize the livelihood of the musicians I love the most, even I found myself taking advantage of this new system and simply heading to YouTube to spin a few songs I love five to ten times, knowing full well that the men and women who created that music that I love so much wouldn’t make a cent from it. It’s just not the same industry anymore. For all of us. Yes, something CAN be done about it. YouTube could enforce a law that ALL music that gets uploaded to their servers MUST go through a database that tracks the airplay, the spins, the views, that somehow cycles back to the musicians themselves. But who knows when that will happen.

In the meantime, the Ambassador is going to have to find another way to make a living that permits me to still be able to make music at the same time. It won’t be easy. The trick with being a musician is that every cent you make from whatever it is you do you want to take all that money and put it back into recording and production and marketing more music. So one needs a job that pays you twice as much as you need to live. Either that or you starve as you spend every cent you make from your job on making music. I did that all through my teens and twenties. As everyone already knows. You get used to living without a car or a phone or electricity or even food. Your teeth fall out one by one because you can’t afford to go to doctors or dentists. But you’re making music. You’re fulfilling your life’s purpose. You’re happy. You have fans who love what you do and it makes you happy thinking about how your music makes them happy.

But things are different now. And I know it. I finally took the big leap I had both dreaded and wished for my entire life. I got married. I have a wife that I love. I have step daughters that I love. We’ve been trying to have children of our own for years. Eventually we’ll achieve that goal, either naturally or through adoption (which I have started to see only recently is a very cool thing). And children are expensive. I have to stop trying to change the music industry to go back to the way it used to be. I also have to stop living in denial. I either need a HUGE break, as in times past, one that propels me to a place where a backflip into poverty once more could never happen again; or I have to invent or devise or discover some new way to make a fortune from continuing to make music for a living.

Or i need to choose another way entirely to support myself and the family. I’ve been meditating and praying about it incessantly. And miraculously money has been flying in from all over the place. Loads of it. So as we gratefully and graciously have been able to pay the bills as of late all of a sudden, I’ve been scrambling to try to figure out what the hell I’m going to do. Perhaps that big break will come. Perhaps it won’t. Maybe the industry will change and musicians will begin to get compensated commensurate with how much their music is enjoyed. But until then… I cannot help but feel that somewhere around the bend is this silver lining. There always is. Perhaps this waking up and recognizing how the music business really is now was a good thing, even though it felt like a bad thing. Perhaps it’s one step closer. I hope so.

The Untold History of America :: a review

Current Screening: The Untold History of the United States

I eagerly watched the first 3 parts of Oliver Stone’s much anticipated new documentary film that were available so far on Showtime last night, expecting some real eye opening moments. As much as I love and admire Ollie, I must confess there wasn’t one untold fact to be had in all three hours. I waited and waited for even one tidbit of “untold” fact or detail — even something I already knew would have been welcomed. But no such luck. Pretty straight forward & by the book U.S. revisionist history. Common knowledge stuff. Especially in comparison to what’s commonly already known in the activist community, i.e. Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History…”, et al.

There were grand omissions throughout, such as Roosevelt’s foreknowledge of Japan’s plans to bomb Pearl Harbor well before it transpired; as if Stone wanted his opening gambit to appear soft and innocuous so as not to frighten away the majority of viewers. One might give him the benefit of doubt and assume his treating the nation’s dubious history with kid gloves was a calculated effort to lure more viewers in at the start and hope he will be more even handed and honest in later installments.

In case anyone feels compelled to excuse this fact by asserting that “no one could possibly cover all of American history in a mere ten hours”, let us remember that was never the stated intention of this piece; it calls itself “the UNtold history of the United States.” Stone and company spend so much time expounding upon commonly known history that they don’t leave room for any “untold history.” The last thing America needs is yet another book or documentary recounting the same old tired stories that are already solidly founded in the public domain of America’s psyche. [see the 30 hour Lawrence Olivier narrated World War II documentary for example].

Secondly, though It portends by its title to be a general history of America, he opens this “American history” in the mid-1930s, a perplexing choice, omitting hundreds of years of the country’s most interesting untold stories. That would make sense if the book/film were titled …: 1935 to 2012. But it’s not.

Perhaps most disappointing is the fact that Stone, being an ex-military man himself, focuses 95% of his take on history to covering stories of war and conquest. Contextually, knowing Stone’s background, this makes perfect sense. But again it’s misleading considering the broad scope of the work’s title.

I think the best thing that can be said about it thus far is that at the very least it serves as a pleasant introduction to U.S. military history 1101 covering the years 1935 to present day for the layman. But if one doesn’t venture past this work and leaves their learning here, they would be left with mere semi-factual scraps compared to the most important elements of America’s untold history.

Like the Beatle’s Yellow Submarine film and album, if you could call it that, this is one of those examples of something that held great promise because of the artist and the subject matter (and no small amount of hype by the studio, production company and distribution company), but ended up being far less than expected. One can hope though that the appearance of such a work and the ensuing interest in it by the public at large might inspire others to attempt a similar project who would desire to be more thorough and revealing in the quest to serve the title of the piece more accurately and legitimately. In time I’m sure it will happen. In the meantime this film isn’t “bad”; it’s a nice start for those who want to gain a modest understanding and foundational knowledge of what’s already being taught in America’s high school classrooms.

Recommended companion resources: A People’s History of the United States, None Dare Call It Genocide, They Dare To Speak Out — for starters at the least.

Going Deep

Last Screening: RED LIGHTS
The movie RED LIGHTS starring Sigourney Weaver and Robert Deniro (in a role custom tailored for him) is a semi-suspenseful thrill-ride clocking in at just under two hours about paranormal phenomenon. The whole time I was watching the film I noticed a slight uneasiness within, something I am not unaccustomed to when watching mainstream Hollywood movies. I have rarely ever watched a movie without this feeling. It is a rare occurrence. Unlike great music or pure visual art like painting or even a brilliant sermon or performance art piece, I always find myself wanting when watching classic Hollywood blockbusters. Even moreso when attempting to watch the uber-hot trending independent films that are all the rage these days.
“What is it old boy?” i asked myself this evening. “Why the dis-ease?”
“It has a chance”, I answered, “there’s something here, but it’s just not going deep enough. And I fear it won’t. They almost never do. They need to get in and out within less than two hours, an arbitrary figure, and like everyone that’s exactly what they’re going to do. They’re going to follow the standard screenwriting 101 class script for “how to make a hit movie” — Setting, Conflict, Climax, Resolution, but not go any deeper. That’s what’s wrong”. (And indeed they did, with little surprise, shock, awe, or anything else that elicited an OMG! moment). Very few do. I can only think of a few… Lars Von Triers, Terrence Mallick, Scorsese now and then, the Coen brothers, those other brothers….
And then I heard the voice again. Surprisingly, rather than an agreeing sigh, it answered me with a verifiably impactful and relevant retort. “Well maybe instead of always feeling unsatisfied as a media consumer for things never going deep enough, have you ever contemplated you doing something to fill this void? After all you’re one of the only people standing on the spinning sphere who didn’t think that Harry Potter was all that, dare you admit it, but it’s true. We both know it. You watched all 7 or 8 in a row and were left wondering what all the fuss was about. And trust me, there’s something to that. You’re not the only you know. You may be the only one who you’ve told, the only who’s shared this with you. But there are plenty. Who feel just like you. I would dare say that there is definitely a vacuum of sorts out there for something that “goes deep”….
And rather than writing and writing, thousands upon thousands of pages — what’s it been now? since you typed the first words of The Adventures of Fishy? Twenty-five years. Yes. Hard to believe. And what have you amassed? Something close to six-thousand pages. And yet you are still waiting for that “special something” to jump off the page and tell you it’s time to release it. Frankly I think you’re cutting yourself off short. Go deep. But do it now. Stop waiting for the perfect sentence in the perfect paragraph in the perfect book. At least think about it. How long will you do this to yourself? O.K. let’s take that back. You aren’t doing anything to yourself. You’re a perfectionist. That’s your problem. You could very well Salinger yourself till the day you die, amass twenty-thousand pages of typed manuscript and have them all burned at your funeral. Or not. It’s up to you.
At least think about it. How many books have you started or written? 27 at last count. And you take it as seriously as anything else in your life. Yet you do nothing with them publicly. I guess what I am saying is I am just not sure what your plan is. You said when we were younger that once you got older and your music career started waning, once you got married and had kids, that you would then begin releasing the books. That was twenty-five years ago. You’re married now. Yes. Believe it or not you are. Albeit not in a very traditional sense, but you are. And no, you don’t have the kids yet, and no your music career doesn’t appear to be waning — in fact it’s only getting bigger as far as we can tell yes? And that’s a good thing, no? The point is that sometimes things don’t always work out exactly as we think they’re going to. So you don’t have the kids yet. And you’re still playing rockstar, longer than you thought you would. But what I’m trying to say is that we both know that the world has changed a lot since you first had that vision. Long gone are the days when it would be uncharacteristically unpopular for a rocker to also be a writer. Plenty have tried it. Tell me you haven’t scoffed at the attempts so far, knowing what you have secretly up your sleeve… What are you waiting for?
Fine. I hear you. You and I both know though that this is all about time. Not timing. But time. You and I both know that i simply don’t have the time to do both. A new album about to be released, and all the accompanying activities that surround such an event, including yet another dreaded tour etc. etc., and at the same time three or four more new albums currently being recorded right now. How the hell am I supposed to also set to work on opening one of these things up and editing it to the point where I would ever feel that it was good enough to release? You’ve seen how I approach music. The perfectionism. The endless years attempting to make it perfect. And I have to be honest with you. I approach music like breathing, or eating. It’s a cake walk for me compared to writing. I let myself off the hook with the music because I know I can do it in my sleep. We don’t tell people that. And I’m not saying we don’t work hard on it, because we do. Do you know what I’m saying? Yes. I know you do. It’s just so damned easy for me, making music, that as much as it may appear that I am OCD perfectionist about it, that it pales in comparison to how I would be with writing. It’s different.
How is it different? Good question. I’ll tell you how it’s different. It comes down to that statement Ginsberg once made about poetry. “One has to know whether a poem has been written to stand alone, or whether it was written to accompany music. There is a different standard for poetry that is composed to stand on it’s own without music.” I know what he meant. Lyrics as poetry nearly always suck, except in the rare cases, Paul Simon, Joni, Lennon, Springsteen, Townsend, Dylan, and even they take the easy way out sometimes due to the necessities placed on the poem to fit into the confines of the music. So he gave more leeway to lyrics than to poetry written to stand all on it’s own. And so too do I. We pardon the author for the contrived rhymes, for the predictable, for the cliches. Because we know that the lyrics have to serve a secondary force, the music.
And it goes even deeper than that if you must know. For me at least. Let me say this first before I forget and I will come back to that. It is only in the last five years that I feel that I have started to compose semi-decent poems as literature for song. Perhaps only a few hundred or so. Probably not even that. Only the last three albums. Before that I was a hack. A terrible lyric writer. As predictable as the rest of them. Worse. There were exceptions of course, but it was really only on the All Your Heroes and the Ballad On Third Avenue albums that I started to compose lyrics as literature, that could stand alone as poems without the aid of music. And that’s a perfect segue to what I was about to say. For as hard as I appear to work on making the music aspect of my work as perfect as it can be, you and I both know that it is an art form that comes ridiculously easy to me. We both know that the music, all of it, the setting, the arrangement and production, the singing… all of it helps to mask any weaknesses in the lyrics.
But with the writing, with all we know, with all we’ve read, with all we’ve seen, in any and all formats, we’ve seen it all, we’ve read the best, and that’s what we’re up against. And there will be no music to lean on, no music to sit the writing in, to crutch it. It will be naked, out there on its own, alone, judged solely on its own merit. And that frightens the hell out of you? Well, yeah, yes, of course it does. Why else would someone spend twenty-five years writing thousands of pages and twenty-something different books and not ever release one of them? OK there, I’ve said it. Hell yeah it scares me. How do we ever get to the point where we believe that ONE thing is good enough to go out there on it’s own? You know? As a whole, the entire package, the thousands and thousands of pages, or unfinished books, one after the other, the idea of the collection of all the ideas… there’s something safe in that. Something noble in it… Because none of them have been released on their own, by itself. No judge. Because there’s no defendant. What happens when we release the defendant? Put him out there to face the scrutiny of the masses?
Look, I hear you, and I could sit here and debate and type with you for hours till we fall asleep with our head resting on this keyboard, drooling away, the mad scientist and his invisible alter ego. But the truth is that all we’ve come away with here is two minor obstacles from what i can tell. One, with how busy you are with your music, you don’t see how you could ever make the time to edit and finish one of the books. You’d like to wait a few more years, collect a few more thousand pages, and wait till we’re older and have more time. RIght? Right. And two, you’re worried that you’ll never be satisfied enough once you do start trying to edit and complete one of the books to see it through to publish. Yes? Yes.
The first one I admit is a bit dodgy. Frankly I don’t see how you do what you even with the music. Working on four new albums at once. Not only do you amaze me, you exhaust both of us. I grant you that. You would have to take a small hiatus from the music in order to dedicate all of your time to the writing. This is true. Perhaps after this next album and tour are over. Yes? Think it over. And concerning the second objection you have, this fear of it not being perfect, you and I both already feel the answer don’t we? You felt it a few minutes ago when I did. (Yes, I’m with you, still no one has developed a mechanism for us to be able to get down our thoughts as fast as we think them. What we type is miles behind what we’ve already thought. It IS a pain in the ass, but deal with it.) Point is, we both got the idea at the same time. And then a few minutes later you thought of Krapp’s Last Tapes by Becket. A real piece of shite. And yet there it was in one of your literature books in college.
And that pretty much sums it up doesn’t it? Need we even say it? The world is filled with crap. Some good some not so good, most mediocre at best. People still consume it. Other people still critique it. But all of it somehow gets released. You can’t spend our entire life NOT publishing one thing just because you’re afraid that it won’t be good enough. It’s not fair. Think of how much time we’ve spent writing. Think about that. We’ve spent more time writing than anything else we’ve done except sleep or breathe. Way more than music. More than eating, more than anything. In fact, we’ve spent more time writing than sleeping now that I think about it. So if your secret plan is to just sit on it till we die, then I’m out. What does that even mean? You’re out? I’m not even sure who YOU are… So I wouldn’t go making blind threats like that. Well, you know what I mean. You know exactly what I mean.
You know how easy it would be to stop all this? Do you have any idea how much I would rather be relaxing right now? Rather than this at 11:45 at night. Sitting in front of the tube, just mind numbingly enjoying myself, vegetating, hibernating, being a human. You’re talking about sitting around waiting for the end? Doing nothing? Like so many… Like so many… You and your pride. Let that go man. Listen, if we are so great, if we are so gifted, if we are so compelled by unnatural forces to complete great and noble acts and deeds of immense proportion with our works or art, then why the fuck don’t we release them? THAT is what I am saying. If we are NOT going to release them, if it is always going to be like this, sitting here typing away till sunrise for no one but us, I’m out. I would rather be doing regular things. Normal people things. Yes, there, I said it. There has to be a bigger cause than just our own selfish desire to try to compose what you consider “great writing”. Or even “good writing”. At least try it. That’s all I’m saying.
This whole thing started because we had both agreed to watch a movie. You had worked hard all day and you wanted to relax. So you search and you search and you search for “something deep” while I just wait and wait and wait for you… And I have more patience for this annoying aspect of your’s than anyone else you know, granted, right? Right. Ok, and then when you do finally find something you think might be “good enough for us” you spend the whole time unsatisfied. So I whispered to you that it is now time for you to at least try to fill that void. Fill it for yourself, and perhaps you will also be filling it for others as well. That’s what I’m saying. At this point that’s all I’m saying. Just try. It can’t be any worse than sitting in front of yet another movie bored and critiquing it to death as to how you’d make it better. If you’re so confident that you can, then do it.
What about Charles Kaufman? Or Paul Thomas Anderson? Or Wes Anderson? Seriously? You’re going to go there now? Damn I thought I had you. Yes, I know. All more than admirable and qualified peers. Your problem is that you see one person who does something stellar, who may be better than you and you immediately relegate us to second rate and don’t even bother trying. Why don’t you do that with your music? You can’t tell me that you think you’re better than every goddamn other singer songwriter on earth? No not at all. But I do believe that I’ve carved a niche for myself that is singular, something that can stand on its own in that world. Then do the same with writing. Look, if Paul Thomas Anderson allowed himself to be stymied by the work of Charles Kaufman, or even Woody Allen, you forgot to mention him by the way, then we would never have the privilege of experiencing his work, would we? See? Are they the same? No, each has carved their own little niche. And perhaps so too can you. And me. Fishy. Perhaps there is a place for us too in that world. And lest I remind you, we both know you’re starting to tire of touring and all that. Think of the peace of mind we might get from just being able to sit and write everyday, spending more time with the family, less traveling, less interacting with people all the time, less hair and makeup and wardrobe and photoshoots and video shoots. Tell me you aren’t as tired of these shenanigans as I am.
I am. I know you are. So then it’s settled. Yes? Yes. We begin tonight. Or better put, we began tonight. For now, we end. We’ve done good here. We accomplished something. The time thing we’ll work out at a later date. Once you’re done with THE GREAT MISTAKE album we switch to writing. In fact, Infinito and Jade are already working on turning these Diaries into eBooks. See how that goes. Let them release them. Don’t pull the plug like you always do. Allow them to be released as is. Warts and all. Other rockers have done worse. Much worse. There’s good stuff in here. Let it out. Release it. See where it takes us. From there we can talk about the Personal Expression Age book. My God have you milked the shit out of that one. Eight years since its inception and you’ve still not released it? Fishy, let me close by saying this. You don’t get anywhere by being a “never ran”. You don’t even get to be an “also ran”. No second place. No third place. No Silver or Bronze. No honorary mention. No team spirit ribbon. Nothing. You get nothing if you don’t at least try.
OK OK. I gotcha. I know you do. Shall we end? Yes, for God’s sake please. Good enough. Thank you. No, thank you. Bout effing time my friend.


Dumbing Down Through Polarization

This evening CNN, in a wanton attempt to feel a part of the Personal Expression Age’s current social media craze, was posting madly on it’s Facebook Page during the 2012 Presidential Debate. One such post — besides the most inane of them all, “Who do you think won tonight’s debate?” as if it were a local rugby match — read, “What struck you the most about tonight’s debate? Explain in the comments below and tune in now for CNN’s post-debate show featuring Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and John King. We will use some of your responses during our broadcast.”

The problem of course is that this evening’s post-debate coverage didn’t just include the aforementioned Wolf, Anderson and King. As is customary in today’s cable news as soap opera styled journalism, they had a full figured round table stuffed to the brim with former White House staffers, campaign consultants, Press Secretaries and speech writers. Each and every one either leaning hard left or right, and not a one able to see past the nose on their face, let alone the source of the dollars in their bank accounts. Whether it’s Ari Fliescher (Republican), David Gergen (Republican), Alex Castellano (Reublican), or a Paul Begala (Democrat), their stated job is to commentate on what the average American just witnessed not two minutes prior. As if the viewers themselves are somehow unable to make up their own minds on what they just watched. This wouldn’t be so bad if the commentating was being conducted by objective journalists whose duties were limited to deconstruction and reduction to make subtle points more palatable and accessible.

But that’s not how it works anymore. Even CNN, at one time a rather tame and objective third party cable news network, has given in to the trend of featuring an equal number of cheer leaders of one or the other political parties in American politics….

“What strikes many of us the most about tonight’s debate is the after-debate coverage on CNN (and other networks) that features and in fact is dominated by paid political consultants of either the Democratic or Republican party; these people offer nothing objective, newsworthy or interesting to the conversation. Instead they step up to the mic to repeat the same rhetoric they are paid to say and find a way to spin every answer into an advertisement for their candidate and the political party they represent. It’s just not journalism. I believe that a lot of people would sincerely appreciate if you stopped this trend and went back to solid objective journalism.”


Facebook’s Success

Facebook’s success can be traced to its ingenious evolution into a public instant gratification machine that appeals to humanity’s most basic and primal pleasure triggers, accessible to all, for free, from nearly any and all platforms. Need a little attention? Post a status update. It doesn’t matter what it says. After someone posts a status update, just underneath it immediately appear the words “Be the first of your friends to Like this.” It can’t get any easier than that. Like a 25 cent bubble gum machine, it’s all about making people feel good, no matter how great or small their actions. Frankly I see nothing wrong with it, haters be damned.
It may have started out as a deceitful theft by an unpopular nerd with no scruples, few friends and a chip on his shoulder. But like anything that serves the public good more than it harms it, the machine has become bigger, and more valuable, than it’s dubious origin. By now those who were ripped off in the beginning have been duly compensated and if the company plays its cards right it can have a long future. For many years I have predicted that Facebook will soon replace the “desktops” on our personal computers, Macs, laptops and yes even our smart phones. It is only a matter of time. Some argue that Google might beat Facebook to this distinction, but I doubt it. Facebook has attached itself to the human psyche. So far nothing on earth has attracted the customer base that Facebook has in the history of human commerce. There’s a good chance that nothing ever will again.

Still Wondering Why Occupy?

Started keeping a list of all the things that are still wrong, compromised or challenged in the United States. We’ve made plenty of progress in our short 230 years as a nation. But we’ve also got plenty of miles to go. Just when you thought it might be safe to go back in the water… DUN NUH! Big sharks, better known as “banks”, are circling once again and once again surround us. Giant, merciless, ferocious, and heartless, it is hard to believe that these anti-human machines of greed gain and profit had the nerve to borrow money from the same people they fork and gouge on a daily basis to bail them out of bankruptcy. They wouldn’t have done it for any one of American’s citizenry. Not one. And that my friends is the core and crux of the problem. One of them at least.
We already know the details of the meltdown (if you don’t, then look it up — Google “Matt Taibai”, for he’s single-handedly written some of the most elucidating and insightful pieces about it over the last four years). At the center of the collapse, as Mike Ruppert calls what’s coming economically for America due to these shenanigans that led up to the big crash of ’08, was a banking and financial system that deliberately lied cheated deceived defrauded extorted blackmailed and swindled just about everyone on planet earth, including themselves, for short term profits, knowing full well that eventually the dam would break and all hell would break loose. But just in case we lose the point of the matter, they may shield themselves from personal responsibility through corporate loopholes and fancy names like Goldman Sachs or Lehman Brothers et al. but these were living breathing human beings running these companies. The decisions that were made that destroyed the fabric of the great American Dream for 99% of the populace were made by people just like us.

The same people who less than a year later came crawling to the government begging for handouts and bailouts. The same people who less than a year after being handed almost a trillion dollars of taxpayers’ money rewarded themselves with some of the largest salaries and bonuses in recorded history. The same people who agreed to draft the hyper-inflated extortionist credit card offer that is pictured in this post. The pain may be being felt all over the country, and almost everyone both suffering and not has an opinion on which political side of the fence is at fault. But the smart person easily recognizes that this isn’t a partisan political problem where blame can be lain on either side. The problem is at the country’s core. From the President of the United States on down through the first term Congress persons newly elected. The greedy selfish thievery and chicanery that runs rampant through the streets and boardrooms of our country is going on in full view of the American people. And the leaders they elect to serve them each year. So in essence, one could assert that the problem lay in the hands of the people themselves.
There’s not a thing spoken about here that almost everyone in America doesn’t already know. And yet what are the American people doing about it? Bring the whole lot of them down? Hardly. Not yet at least. Truth is the American people aren’t really doing anything about it. They’re right back in the same stocks, bonds and funds, investing in and with the same banks and financial institutions that put us here in the first place. And just to rub it in, these banks — who now know with certainty that they are indeed considered “too big to fail” and therefore will always be bailed out by the people they screw day after day — have developed new schemes with even more strict and stringent rules and punishments for the people who bailed them out. When this credit card offer from First Premier Bank first started floating around in the underground it made it very clear that the 1% have no intention of growing a heart, developing integrity or nobility any time soon. If they can get away with it, they will, regardless of how much hurt they inflict on those around them.
If anyone is still asking “why the Occupy Movement?” study the attached “pre-approved credit card offer”. With over 15% of the country unemployed and even more deeply in debt and hurtin for certain, this is one of the toughest times economically America has ever faced. Everyone seems to be living on the edge, needing a little something extra to get by. The last thing in the world anyone hurting financially needs is a deceptive and malicious tease such as this. And yet, the question still remains as large as anything ever written on the hearts and minds of the American people: are they actually going to do anything about it? Or are they going to continue to allow these atrocities to continue?
If you’re still in a bank and not a credit union, you’re still part of the problem. If you’re not calling your state Senators and Congress persons demanding bank and financial institution reform, along with consumer credit reform, then you’re still part of the problem. And if you’re still scoffing at the bold and courageous actions of America’s young, old and in-betweeners who are participating in the Occupy Movement in any way they can then you’re still part of the problem. For this crisis, and don’t think for a second that this isn’t the greatest crisis America has ever faced excepting maybe the Civil War, is only just beginning. No one on Wall Street believes we are safe from this upcoming crisis. The bubbling Dow is just that, a bubble that can burst in a matter of hours as we all witnessed in 2008 and 2009. People in the United States seem to forget things so quickly in this new age of the 24 hour news cycle. As if the Dow has always been hovering around 13,000, totally neglecting to remember the fact that a mere two years ago it was half that.
It’s one thing to humbly ask for a hand out if you’re needy and desperate, work hard to pay it off and promise to never make the same mistakes twice. It’s another thing entirely to grab almost a trillion dollars from your fellow country men and women and use that money to immediately write yourself the biggest paycheck you’ve ever received and go right back to business as usual. Unfortunately that’s what we’ve seen transpire over the last three years. And if anything, the attached document illustrates just how unsorry, greedy and malicious these people are. It was the banks who put the people in this situation in the first place, and now they’re doing everything they can to take advantage of how many people are downtrodden, hungry and needy. If this isn’t a war, I don’t know what is.