Spring Equinox, 2023, belated

Being busy traveling, the equinox nearly slid right by me – I realized while flying from Cuba to Miami (enroute via long lay-over to Chicago)  that it was here.  Post a brief Equinox note here.  The last months, were spent in Kolkata, mostly, with some side-trips to the villages where friends now in the city originally came from.  And one jaunt to Dhaka where I was head of jury and quit as the thing was so incompetently run that there was no way to make a judgment about the qualities of the films themselves. Like one needs to actually be able to see them and little things like that.  Dhaka, however, was very interesting. 


I was in Cuba to teach again at the Escuela International Cine & Television, as I did last year.  Cuba, then the land of nada and nada is now the land of nada, nada and more nada.  A sad desperate place which some of my friends should stop romanticizing, never mind how brutal the US has been; it is also as it is from its own terminal corruption.  And sad sad sad. 

The whole period since the winter solstice was in Kolkata where met a lot of nice people, maybe shot a film, took a ton of photos and wrote many poems. Getting the Corona Verses book yet again eluded me though it is virtually done.  Must try, perhaps in the coming 2 weeks here in Chicago get it finalized – all the poems are picked out, in order, graphically done, and needs only a handful more of images to find and place.  Meanwhile I wrote so many poems in the interim there’s another book or two begging for my time !

Here in Chicago I have a screening of TOURISTS at Chicago Filmmakers on April 7, and until then hope to see my diminishing friends of long ago, nose about the city a touch, and perhaps say a not nostalgic so long to place and friends.  It is that time of life, friends sliding off the planet, with my number encroaching.  From here going to Boston a week, in part to see friends including one old in all senses prison-time pal, and clean some things out of cousin Holly’s closet as she is out to “down-size”, aka sell house etc.  And then a week in NYC, for more of see friends and city and then it is off to Spain and hopefully to shoot a film in Galicia.  Raised the minimum funds I wanted to do it, now just hope to get OK to stay in house, perhaps round up a singer or two, and make a lyrical oblique film.  We see.  After that, like to spend summer solstice there, to Derry to stay with Marcella a bit.  And then it appears to Edinburgh to act in a film I know little about, except it is titled KILL JON JOST.  I inquired if it will be a real snuff film….one way to skip off the orb!   And come September to N Macedonia for 6 weeks of a kind of artist residency and partial retrospective in Skopje. And my crystal ball grows vague from there.

News of the bigger world is glum – the new world wacky global warming weather is proving a doozie, what with California praying for rain for some time getting it in quantities one doesn’t want: beware what you wish for..  Elsewhere in the world it is similar as we begin to really pay the bill for our refusal to change our ways.  In my view it is all done, we are over the cliff, in free fall.  But the river Denial carries us along to the cataracts that fog our eyes.

And repeat pitch, here is beginning blog for hopefully new film, which I think I sent before but send again.  Seems I have my minimal amount ($5000) pretty much raised.  Of course more will help as I’d like to find/pay some Galego singers/actors to be in film. 


If inclined, kindly send a note. Hope all is well, never mind the global news.


Winter Solstice, 2022

Dec 22 2022, Kolkata

Lying nearly on the Tropic of Cancer, Kolkata’s oscillations make for a hint of winter light, the sun slanted a bit and a diminishing of the heat. For someone accustomed to Northern US and European climes it is balmy. The locals put on a sweater.

Certainly in Riga, back 3 months ago, where I spent a 5 day stay before heading on to India (via a stop in London), they have a lot more than sweaters on now. I had a hard time recalling my previous visit way back in 1999 or so, doing a workshop with Michael Pilz, when the city seemed in memory far smaller. It was a nice 5 day stay this time around, walking the city and meeting a some new people.

London was a pit stop and then the long flight to Kolkata. Here I am staying thanks to my net-met friend Riddhi, who a few years back had sent me his film PARIAH, which I found quite good and powerful, and tried to help him get into a major festival. I failed, and found out whatever cultural clout I once had is diminished to more or less nothing. I can’t even get my films in a festival anymore: my most recently finished film, WALKERVILLE: A State of Mind, turned down by the Berlin festival’s “Forum Expanded” section, and in last years work has been rejected by others, though in my view it is among my best work.

Here I have a nice little apartment for myself in South Kolkata, on a little pond, one of very many scattered about the city. On arrival I had time to take a deep breath and then we went off for 5 days to Riddhi’s home town, Supur, a rural village about 3 hours drive away. It was Durga Puja, the major Hindu festival of the year, and I got a front row seat as it were to the festivities. Owing to Riddhi’s family status there, he had to officiate in some rituals. I found the village life fascinating – unless you’ve been to such places it is difficult to convey the basic nature of it – dirt streets, on/off electricity, questionable water, and a deep poverty which, being the norm there, takes on a “just-life” quality. Not having been in India for 12+ years, my first ride seemed a harrowing trip in hell, zig-zagging, dodging in the mixed traffic of cars trucks buses rickshaws bicycles goats cows pedestrians, horns honking and a general mayhem which here, in the countryside or the cities, is the same, and taken as normal. By my second trip I’d acclimated myself to it, and, as I told Riddhi, it appeared that either your driver was very good, or dead. No in-betweens on that.

Here in the city I walk around the neighborhood and ponder some kind of film. Have a few people – two young women, Aopala (dancer) and Tanika (actress) game to do something; now I must dream it up out of the city, life and find a film. Or not. Ok either way.

Also while here took a trip nearby (20 miles but took a few hours driving) to a place where a traditional form of Bengali boat was being built – to go into a museum. More of the endless village which seems to be a major part of India. Boat and all was of interest, perhaps because I lived a while, in Port Hadlock WA, for nearly a year, immediately across from a hand-made boat making school and saw what they did.

And another trip with friend Nilanjan whom I met back in 2002 or 3, when here for workshops in Raipur (one month) and 4 shorter ones here in Kolkata. He became my guide and friend back then and later wangled me into the film festival here 12 years ago. We went to his hometown, Bishnupur, 3 hours train ride away, and then drove to a resort place in forest, and visited a tribal village – a place I’d love to go stay a month or two and make a documentary of life there.

Otherwise slowly nosing around Kolkata – markets, different neighborhoods, though owing to the dicey modes of mass transit (buses, metro, “autos” – 3 wheeler motorized rickshaws; pedaled rickshaws or human kind, all requiring some inside know-how to use), the going on whatever is slow and going to place X is more or less enough for a day. Last weekend Nilanjan took me to all the Christian churches here (half were closed), and out for a good Bengali dinner. So it has been an interesting and active last 3 months, seeing new things, meeting new people and having a good time. Learning new things which is always good.

In early January I will go for a few days to the Sunderban, a mangrove forest area in the delta of the Ganges; maybe see a tiger. Or maybe not. A bit later I will be off to Dhaka, in Bangladesh, to spend nine days being a juror for Asian films section at the film festival there, which is a major one in the region. And then back to Kolkata until end of February, with a long trip to Cuba – with brief stop with friends in London, and then Habana via a layover in Madrid. Cuba to teach at EITVC again, as I did last year. And then, on Spring equinox, fly to Chicago, where have one screening lined up, and look to stay 3 weeks or so. After that my crystal ball offers no insights. Though perhaps to Galicia to shoot a film in May. Perhaps not.

Of life in the last 3 months, what is getting to be a “normal” once one reaches this age: the litany of friends slipping off the planet. One friend, a writer, Jim Nisbet, 75 at death, who had forewarned me after getting my summer letter that it wasn’t clear he’d be around for the autumn one, did manage to get to Sept 21, but the quick cancer he had took him on 28th. And as I write a few other friends are wrestling with cancer as well. I must have written now 100 poems which dance around the reality of death (not morbid poems I note – rather ones which simply acknowledge it is a natural part of life, and to embrace life fully, one must embrace all of it.)

Of other matters – politics and all – they seem to demonstrate our near infinite capacity for stupidity and self-destructiveness. Thanks to the war in Ukraine the arms business is kicking into high gear just when we should be taking steps to rapidly de-industrialize. We’ll go over our cliff in super high-tech style. We are so brilliant.

A poem from sometime in the last few years:

stepping out of the shower I caught a glance of myself
and thought of caravaggio’s saint jerome
not the one at the villa borghese in rome
which i saw some decades back
but the one i’ve never seen, in malta

the withered arms and pull of gravity
were there
the furrowed brow
but the skull was not on a table
for my contemplation
instead i wore it on my shoulders
slack as they were
and like jerome i’d lost most my hair

in the same moment i recalled another painting
on piazza del popolo
of st peter being hoisted to his baselitz-like end
and thought

at least i am not there
(just yet)

Actually St Peter there is looking to have more muscle in his bicep than I seem to have these days. Though I can do more than 100 pushups still.

With that I’ll wrap this up as we wrap up another year. Hope all is going well with you, and if you’re into seasonal follies (I am not), enjoy and have a wonderful whatever you celebrate. It will be getting lighter now for us up here in the northern half of our shared home.

Kindly write a note, however brief, is so inclined.

A hug from Kolkata



Ventspils, Latvia

Again, the day and night balance. Here in the northern latitudes, and southern, and everything in-between. 12 hours of day, 12 of night.

3 months ago, for summer solstice, I wrote from Madrid, where I stayed with a young friend, Diego – the one who invited me to Galicia to, as it were, look for a film. I found a could-be one, and presently am in touch with a young producer/filmmaker from there. He seems to share similar thoughts about making cinema outside the usual business and aesthetic range, so perhaps something will work out. If so would return to Galicia in April – May 2023.

I stayed on in Madrid two more weeks, giving ample time to nose around neighborhoods I hadn’t visited before, and go to museums, including a few I hadn’t previously gone to. A nice time, and I seemed to have dodged the really hot temps that came not long after I left.

Looking for a cheap B&B, and with a modest connection locally, I went to a town I knew nothing of, except that it was on a lake, and the price was good: 240 Euro for a month. I flew on Wizz Air, a cheapo line, and went from Skopje directly to Ohrid, given a ride by a friend of a friend (net-met) of mine, Ivica Dimitrijevic. Lake Ohrid was lovely, the town a bit touristic for my tastes, but not unpleasantly so – and I was there at height of season. The visitors were dominantly slavic, with a sprinkling of English and French, and strangely almost no Germans. I got the relative isolation I was looking for, and until the latter week, was pretty much alone. There was a little film festival there, in which Ivica had a hand, and he, and my friend Caveh Zahedi showed up for 4 days, latter being on jury.

I managed to get some editing on WALKERVILLE done, and write some poems as well as begin the job of sifting them to make a book (or more) of them. Went swimming, enjoyed the place, taking lots of photos.

August 4 I left, catching a flight after Wizz canceled my original one and forced me to scamper to find a new one which would get me to Luton airport outside London in time for already booked flight. Managed it though ended up 2 nights and a day in airport, sleeping on floor. It was busy at the height of tourist travels. Got my flight and went directly from Dublin on bus up to Belfast to see Marcella. Shortly after getting to Belfast I tested positive for Covid-19, surely caught on planes &/or airport. Having been vaxxed & boosted, it was akin to a not too horrible cold – a few days of modest temp. Not enough to put me in bed.

Of course Marcella got it too, though her sister and her husband did not – they’d already had it. I think Marcella’s was less bothersome than mine. August 15 flew back via Dublin to London for a few days, and then, cleverly losing my wallet the day before I was traveling on, gave myself a little momentary nightmare: lost cash (not modest enough), Oyster card and 2 debit cards. Rush to cancel, and then to figure out how in this day and age to live on road without a card. Borrowed 1000 Euro from friends, and started scramble to get renewed cards, which being on road tripled the complexity. Still don’t have them, but all going OK, should be able to pickup passing back through London.

Sans plastic I flew on to Latvia, landing in Riga and promptly moving on to a town I knew nothing about except that it was on the Baltic sea, and the B&B price was, if not as cheap as Macedonia, cheap enough for me. I wanted a place where I knew no one, spoke not a word, and otherwise could be unsocial so as to finish up the film, sift and organize the poems, and otherwise tidy up my computer and things left in the wake of a year plus of travel. Got a lot of it done over the last month, with long walks, taking photos, making little paintings. Today I go to Riga for 5 days there before a brief stop in London, and then going on to Kolkata for 4 months. Of which there will surely be many adventures and things to experience and learn from.

Of the big world, the realities grind on – the blitzkrieg war in Ukraine turned into slog, Vladimir’s assumptions of a quick decapitation failing and now another military quagmire for Russia – remember Afghanistan? Humans are so stupid and love looping themselves to prove it. Otherwise global climate change romps along, though not quite as linearly as one might think, with the Caribbean hurricane season, and Western US fire season seemingly off, or, my guess, just delayed. Europe had its fair share, and rivers around the world – most fed by snow packs and glaciers, are withering into trickles. As there is such a thing as cause and effect, the waterless farmlands will soon dessicate and…. and no food. Dang. Or there will be deluges on the dried up land and floods (already are – Pakistan, Nigeria, just look and you will see.) The endless laws of unintended effects.

My next missive here will be from India, where I am sure I will find many things to tell.

Hope you are well, and if inclined send a note – to the comments at bottom here.

Be well


Auteur, Auteur! How To Be Hip. It Depends.

Up-front, here’s my bona fides: I hardly ever go to movies, or watch TV, or listen to music, or partake of my society’s normal activities, especially regarding “pop culture.” In turn I have never heard of Sparks, nor Marion Cotillard, and only by accident have ever seen or heard of Adam Driver. If this in your view disqualifies me from having views on what I do see, that’s OK by me.

[Detour 1: as I was having some virtually unattended screenings at the Torino Film Museum, and Jarmusch’s Paterson was showing in the other room so I got in free, I went to it – he had a long line of the hip crowd of Italia going in; it was “meh” for me as a film, as was Driver, of whom I’d never heard.]

Adam Driver in Paterson

I went the other day to see Leos Carax’s newest film, Annette, as rather by accident I’d seen his previous one, Holy Motors, and – with the exception of the last scene – had found it exhilarating and wonderful. I approached the new one, in light of the contradictory views and reviews coming out of Cannes with some positive anticipation.

As this film is scarcely about its “story” I’ll refer you to reviews, links below, to fill it in if you need. Briefly though it is big famous kinda ugly comedian, Henry McHenry, who does crude stand-up hooks up with petite famous opera singer, Ann, they fall in love, have a kind of baby, and then fall out. Perhaps he kills her. Somewhere another guy, a pianist/conductor materializes, perhaps having an affair with opera singer. He gets killed. The kinda baby, Annette, a beguiling puppet, acquires Ann’s voice and sings, becoming hyper famous and enriching now-failed comedian dad. And he ends in the dock, in prison, and does a duet with dead wife, and…. And the story basically is stupid, not really worth figuring out as it is merely a cheap plastic hanger on which to hang the libretto/lyrics of Sparks, which is credited with the script (sort of), and of Carax’s extravagant cinematic looks and tropes.

Perhaps in keeping with his hostile McHenry character (or saying something about himself), Carax opens the film with a voice-over abusing the audience, telling them what they may or may not do while watching the film, and that they mustn’t breathe the whole time. This is, I suppose, meant to be ironically/hip funny, but it sets the tone. Composed of a series of highly theatrical set-pieces, Annette opens with Carax at a sound studio mix board, manipulating the sound and audience, a kind of insider self-reflection which I guess is supposed to be hip/intellectual. OK. Sparks commences playing and before you know it they, the studio gang and backup singers, with McHenry and Ann leading them, are singing May We Start, (another self-referential hint), lyrics of the Sparks, down a Santa Monica street, a straight lift out of a better scene in Holy Motors. Hmmm.

McHenry leaves Ann, putting on a black helmet, mounting a black motorcycle, and roaring off. He re-materializes in the next set-piece, donning a fighter’s heavy robe and hood, waving his head and punching before going on stage for his “act.” His stand-up is done in a massive theater space, with his packed audience laughing on cue, as McHenry, the Ape of God, dishes out insults and bad words and unPC thoughts, while the spectators suck it up. It is a major spectacle, and presented as one. Seemingly a sly critique of celebrity culture.

While McHenry is going his shtick Ann is doing hers, opera, for a similar but higher-tone audience, which is as enthralled with her as the other is with her new boy-friend.

Collaborating with Sparks, the brothers Ron and Russell Mael, Carax has made this film as a musical, with the actors actually singing the lyrics. At the outset this is a bit charming, as neither Cotillard or Driver are actually very good at it, and at least at the outset it tends to deflect our attention from the actual “book” which the Sparks wrote. They are also not very good at what they do, or so thinks this jaded soul.

Opening, as he does in his first set-pieces, with high-energy scenes, Carax propels the spectator along, as in most spectacles, with, well, spectacle. Bright colors, loud sounds, swooping wide-screen camera movements. He issues pieces of his “story” in miserly bits, goading the viewer to put it together. McHenry and Ann inexplicably fall in love – they do, they do – and walk romantically hand in hand in a California paradise, singing “We Love Each Other So Much.” Yes, we do. They also get down to the dirty business of the sex end of things, still singing as McHenry works Ann’s labia with his tongue, emerging from down there to warble “we love… etc.” still again. Ann orgasms. Love love love.

I could go on in this manner, set-piece by set-piece, but it wouldn’t really help. Some of these episodes are charming and in themselves, work. Some are really bad and don’t work at all. Periodically these story sets are punctuated with pop news-like reports about the travails of our celebrity subjects, breathless National Inquirer-type TV reports, presented in a sort-of parody of such TV crap: they are a couple !! they are getting married !!! they are having a baby !!!! they are heading to splitzville !!!!!! These interjections, along with a few other ones – a multi-screen one of the 6 women who have belatedly come out with bad things about McHenry – are presented in a jolting different aesthetic, and are intended to be a critique of our shallow star/money oriented culture and its dubious qualities.

As the film progresses, the sound builds into constant bombast, the actor’s “singing” begins to grate, the Mael brother’s libretto and lyrics loop and creak and show themselves thread-bare in all senses, and the energy of the opening passages gets subsumed into exhaustion as it cannot be sustained. Arriving at a critical peak, when our couple are doing their “breaking up is hard to do” bit and go on a boat to patch up their problems, in a hysterically misguided set-piece of pure artifice, the film collapses, having ladled on the show-biz pizzazz without break, reaching this theatrically absurd scene in which, dum da dum dum, McHenry does in his wife.

I didn’t clock it, but perhaps this sequence was a bit over half-way into the film, which then carries on to this set-piece and that, none of which one might give a fuck about since from the outset Carax never gives us any reason to care about either of these characters, nor about the story/film they are trapped in. Instead we are dished out set-pieces of pure artifice, one after the other, chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. The bravura cinematic tricks run aground, and we find ourselves hoping this next one will be The End. No such luck. Instead Carax grinds on. As he does so the actors too seem to lose gas, their alleged singing turning to wheezing, and reading between the lines one can hear the plaintive “can we stop” lurking in the background. And indeed, when Carax finally decides to drop his circus tent, we are told – more self-referential BS – that we can “stop looking.” Thanks a lot, Leos.

[Detour 2: A few months ago, under vaguely similar circumstances, I went with anticipation to see Pedro Costa’s latest film Vitalina Verena, and likewise came away disappointed. For pretty much the same reasons I found this film a major let-down. In this case I haven’t seen Carax’s earlier films, though I have seen clips that suggest he’s done much the same things along the way, which would confirm my thought that obsessive type artists tend to curdle in on themselves, their artistic inventions or tricks folding in on themselves to become an inadvertent self-parody.


Or perhaps it is that I am jaded and old and the middle-finger to society that Carax’s film imagines itself to be seems both stale and utterly compromised, as does the cutesy self-referential stuff, something that wore out long ago.]

It is clear that Carax intended this film to be a kind of Debordian critique of the society of spectacle, mass media, celebrity and all that, but in this he fails completely, as the means he uses are exactly the same as those which he imagines to critique. The attempts at satire are both too obvious and too much exactly like what is being satirized, and becomes grotesquely weighted down with the gravity of the setting – Our Baby Annette’s finale falls dead despite the bombast, or precisely because of it. In any of the arts, a sense of proportion is a major element, and Carax has none. Big stars (I guess), techno razzle-dazzle, bombastic sound, cinematic daring-do, and no sense of restraint. Etc.

From what I have read from our “serious critics” this would-be critique seems to either have flown over their heads or has been quashed by their far greater interest in operatic cunning lingo. Or since they make their bread and butter playing in the circus of spectacle, perhaps if they are conscious of it at all, they think better than to bite the hand that feeds.

A few random things, seemingly unmentioned by our critic friends:

Ann’s character is seen in an early shot, taking a bite of an apple; in numerous shots there is an apple placed near her, always with a bite out. Eve?

McHenry is seen scratching his face, with marks there becoming ever more visible until at the end it is like a birthmark – the mark of Cain, the murderer?

Is Carax a Lars von Trier fan? While I haven’t seen it some of the imagery in this film looks like shots from Melancholia.

Or is it all just a hipster thing, Rosebud?

In summary, this is a film which zipped along for a bit and then ran right up its own pretensions and hipness, sniffing its own ass until it disappeared. A fitting reward for Jeff Bezos and Amazon studios for funding an aging artsy filmmaker, who given a lot of money, some big stars, can give you a bloated piece of auteur in Depends. Can someone change his diapers?



Streaming from Munich

All the Vermeers in New York

Starting a few days ago the Munich Film Archive is screening 12 feature films of mine, each accompanied with a short film. For the first program they are streaming a digital restoration of All the Vermeers in New York, 1990, companioned with my first film, a 12 minute silent short, Portrait. The restoration was done by EYEFilm, in Amsterdam.

You can find these films, streaming for free, at:



Each film will be available for four days, with Vermeers finishing on the close of May 16th. The next film will be Last Chants for a Slow Dance, 1977, companioned with a short, silent, from 1965, City.

Last Chants for a Slow Dance (Dead End)


The following are posts, in the order they were written, put on my Facebook page. They were a response to events in Washington DC of the last days, done in a short form appropriate for Facebook. Down and dirty, off-the-cuff, for a daily dose.

Jan 6 2021
The news of the day suggests that Georgia has elected two Democratic Senators, despite (or perhaps thanks to) The Don’s attempts to arm twist the State officials in charge of elections (both Republicans) and his “perfect” rallying of his troops by citing a litany of lies and falsehoods, whining for himself, and accusing anyone who hasn’t fallen on their sword for him of being weak, only maybe Republicans, etc etc The same tired old dribble falling from this pathetic occupant of the Oval Orifice in Washington.

Today Our Great Leader hopes to see a rumble in DC both in Congress, where a cluster of complete ass-lickers will line the halls to eat dingle-berries in full public view, thus to honor their Boss-of-Bosses, thinking to secure the allegiance of his many strident fans out there in the boonies – his base. One can identify them in part owing to their wearing of baseball hats, and sometimes dragging baseball bats or AK47 things to rallies. Out on the streets in our nation’s capitol (where residents don’t get to vote or have representation in Congress), The Don hopes a large number – larger than at his inauguration, the largest crowd ever – will materialize for a rally and brawl to overthrow the stolen illegal illegitimate fraudulent rigged election which he happened to lose in both total votes and in the archaic Electoral College.

I note that The Don and his cohorts have of late adopted costumes and poses signifying “strength” and masculine superiority. Perhaps today they will emerge in insurgent camo, guns at the ready. Real Rambo. It is called “fascion”.

Should be a modestly interesting day, full of amateur theater, and, sadly, Leni won’t be there to film it.

Jan 6

Today, incited and encouraged by Our Great Leader and his fascoid gang, a mob of Trump supporters marched to the ill-defended Capitol, overwhelmed the police force and invaded the halls of Congress. Some brandished guns, some looted. Few wore masks, either for Covid or to hide their faces. The politicians gathered to finalize the election process formally making Joe Biden President, had only begun and were hustled out to a “secure” place unnamed. Belatedly the police and National Guard cleared the mob from the building.

The nation is shocked, though it should not have been. Since the Bundy show-down in Nevada, the Malheur Oregon take-over of a National monument, (both under Obama), and then the armed invasion of State Houses in the last few years – all allowed to happen and lightly punished, if at all – it has been clear that right-wing militia groups and others have no compunctions resorting to armed force when they wish. Under The Great Don, they have been encouraged and today it came to a predictable head, as following his incendiary speech, the riled up, flag-toting anointed “patriots” marched to the Capitol to force the Congress to abdicate its Constitutional obligations.

We shall shortly see how our politicians and their (our) system respond. If the action today is not regarded as a serious insurrection, warranting arrests and trials of those who invaded the Congress, along with those who incited them – Giuliani, Trump & sons, et al, and they are not severely punished, then the slide into dissolution of the nation will be far more rapid than I thought some 20 and more years ago.

Today was essentially grand theater. Whether it will rattle the system enough to incur a sharp retort will essentially hint how much longer this frayed and corrupted society will remain whole. I am deeply skeptical. It is no surprise to me and shouldn’t be to anyone who has been awake and conscious the last 30 years.

All systems grow corrupted, especially empires, such as ours. And then they collapse. There is nothing sacrosanct about the United States of America, nor is it exempt from the usual course of history.

Jan 7

Having spent the last years deep in the rabbit-warren of internet conspiracy sites, wounded by the harsh rebuke of the recent election, The Oracle of the Oval Orifice yesterday emerged to incite his the yahoo base to “take back the nation” and march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol and “show strength” and “demand that Congress do the right thing.” The right thing in this case meant, among other things, to overturn the Pennsylvania election results by force, since political and legal efforts to do so had failed.

And so the Congress was promptly invaded by his cult members, waving Trump flags, some brandishing guns, overwhelming the unprepared (willfully so perhaps) Capitol Police, and causing the meeting of lawmakers assembled to affirm the State Electoral College votes and anoint Joseph Biden the 46th President of the USA to flee. Police escorted them out of the chambers. Some hours later The Don tweeted meekly that his followers should go home.

The full Tweet:

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Twitter took down this Tweet and banned Trump for a day.

The Congress reconvened after many hours, when the mob had been cleared from the building; many a humble talk was mumbled by now-contrite Senators and Representatives who had merely hours before been bellowing supporters of the occupant of the Oval Anus. Those who hadn’t been supporters expressed naive shock at what had occurred in their sacred offices, and some indicated the Oracle should be promptly charged and removed from office. In the early hours of Jan 7, the Congress declared the results of the Electoral College count.

The Oracle of the Oval Anus had overplayed his hand and began an unseemly retreat, though carrying on with his rabbit-warren claims. Many of his last-stand cluster-fuck gang resigned or were dismissed. Bluster and bluff had turned into an utterly predictable hard reality, and Trump, painted deep into a corner of his own making – though aided and abetted by most of the GOP, as well as by the media – was behaving like the cornered animal he is. His ProudBoy gangs had shown their ass-crack red-neck idiocy (maskless, not even to hide their faces from the myriad surveillance cameras of the Capitol area, begging for prosecution) and been sent back to Dogpatch.

If Trump is not removed from office by one of the mechanisms available (impeachment, 25th Amendment) and if he and his group are not charged, prosecuted, and severely punished, the final Pandora’s Box of the collapse of the USA will burst at the seams, and the Union will dissolve. This has been building in plain view for some decades now. Perhaps this event will serve to bring it into focus for those many millions who did not see it because they did not want to see it.

If Trump is not evicted from office, and imprisoned, along with others of his clan, one can be assured that within 20 years, or far less, the United States of America will no longer exist as a political entity.

Jan 7

Trapped in the lair of his own kingdom of lies and fraudulence, The Don yesterday far overplayed his hand, sucked into the vortex of Q-anon and the deep-mind sewers of the internet, where he swam comfortably among the many mentally ill souls damaged by the neo-liberal economic policies of the last 40+ years. Imagining that his rag-tag troop of religious crackpots, deranged generals and America’s Mayor, along with the eunuchs of the ProudBoys and Cucks of the USA, by storming the Capitol would vault him into Supreme Power, this fool of the Oval Orifice bumped instead into the hard walls of reality: a bevvy of his allies jumped ship, rats each and every one, and left our pathetic King Lear railing to himself, stripped of his Twitter and Facebook outlets. Lacking any meaningful character, his version of this role lacks any grandeur or sense of tragedy, but instead duly reflects the inanity of his followers who posed in their absurdist costumes, lost in a delirium coaxed on by their own Jim Jones. Swallow that Kool-Aid there, doing selfies to confirm both their crimes and stupidity.

To use one of The Don’s limited lingo loops, “lock them up” and “there’s never been anything like this before”. Believe me.

Over in a shaken Capitol the reckoning is coming and calls for immediate impeachment and Article 25 are in the air. Trump supporters within the Congress are “coming to Jesus” and ducking for cover. The great charade of the last 4+ years is crumbling in plain sight.

On the same day as Trump’s putsch attempt, Covid-19 deaths in the USA hit a record. MAGA maggots.

Jan 8

DC Kabuki Komedy.

The Great Trumpthing, having hoisted himself on his own petard, lost in the miasma of his “reality TV” realities, utterly misreading the situation has now come out of the closet, THE BIGGEST L O S E R. He is now playing the role of one with his tail-between-his-legs mock contrition, his fake appeals to peace etc. A coward, pure and simple. The Wizard of Oz behind his show-biz curtain, now desperately trying to evade his just due. He should be arrested today for accessory to murder in the explicit instance of the dead Capitol policeman.

The idiots of MAGAland likewise showed that they are mostly bluster and fantasy players, likewise caught in their own super-hero costumes and macho posing, as if it were all a grand backdrop for the necessary low-level selfie-narcissism, “look at me”! Taking photos of yourself in the commission of a crime is perhaps one definition of stupidity.

Whether Biden will now do what he should do – have all those folks identified, arrested, tried and given the hardest sentences legal – is another matter. Trump and Giuliani and the whole gang of abettors should be treated the same. Ditto Congress should strip a few people of their places where legally possible (Cruz, Hawley, the guy from W Va) or at minimum censor them. Etc etc.

However I think the system is too corrupted and not much will be done. Rather, following Obama’s example in failing to go after the Bundy folks out in Nevada and Oregon, fearful of another Waco type fiasco, Biden will minimize this event. Likewise he’ll play the good guy and not take the appropriate legal measures against Trump and his accomplices, saying it is better not to roil the country more, etc. etc. Appeasing, as history shows, seldom works out too well.

If Congress and Biden don’t take a hard position on this and do the hard unhappy things necessary, the US will fall apart in 10 years instead of 20.

Jan 10

For some years – no it is really decades – I have in public, in my work (films & writing), and in talk, critiqued the US, its politics, its culture. In some small circles this was, for a time, welcomed (back 30-40 years ago); and then not, so much so that I sense there is an unwritten blacklist on which my name can be found (grants and such things). In 1972-3 I made a film, Speaking Directly, which made explicit my views, in deeply personal terms. In 1985-7 I made Plain Talk & Common Sense, a kind of overview of the time, an essay-survey of where we stood as a nation. Likewise I’ve made a handful of fictional films addressing our malaises in less direct terms – Bell Diamond, Sure Fire, Homecoming, Over Here, Parable, Coming to Terms, They Had It Coming. Long ago I suggested that the stresses inside the nation were leading us to a breakup and collapse. Not long ago I thought and said this would be in 20 or so years from now. I now think it likely much sooner. The events of the past week, and since the election have seemed to accelerate things, such that I’d think 5-10 years are left for the US to carry on as a functioning geo-political reality.

The other day I watched, on C-Span, most of Trump’s “speech” in Washington. During it he mentioned the huge crowd before him and asked the news to reverse their cameras to show it; C-Span did not do so – I don’t know if others obliged or not. The image above confirms he did indeed have a massive crowd, one which he aggressively worked to generate (Trump tweeted on Dec. 19 “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”)

Doubtless encouraged by this turnout, he cranked up his rhetoric, along with his cohort Giuliani and son Don Jr., and others, and sent his would-be troops to the Capitol, and we know what then ensued.

Since then 45% of Republicans surveyed approved of the assault upon Congress; many GOP representatives and Senators in effect did so as well. While the GOP is a minority party, and not quite half approved, that remains a substantial number, enough to form the foundation for a fascist party. The crowd in DC confirmed a massive base, one enthralled with Trump, the stench of power and racism, and blind to anything contrary to it. He, and Fox, and his many abettors, have successfully produced one of America’s social hysterias – from the Salem Witch Hunts, to the McCarthy commie-under-every-bed Red scare. It will not be easy, and very likely is impossible, to dissipate this social movement. However to begin to do so, Trump, all his associates, the rabble which invaded Congress, the media (Fox, Limbaugh et al) all need to be harshly brought to justice, censured, and made fully accountable for their acts. I doubt that Biden is so inclined. Doing so would be difficult. Not doing it is more or less a guarantee that right-wing fascism will prevail, much as it did in Weimar Germany. In past comments when I suggested the USA is collapsing, and will do so in the coming decades, I noted that historically such things in modern times usually include a passage through fascism. While Americans have been taught they live in an “exceptional” nation, it is really no different than others, and is subject to the same cycles of history as any other culture.

Here as some in-depth views:



Speaking Directly https://vimeo.com/135937136

Plain Talk & Common Sense https://vimeo.com/233124758

Jan 10

A friend sent me this post taken from a right-wing social network system, Wimkin (of which I had not heard). Snopes suggests this shouldn’t be taken too seriously, that it may be the spawn of a keyboard Cuckist in the basement, attempting to foment something to jack-off to. However, given the recent events in DC one might take it with a bit more seriousness. Until the formal turn-over on the 20th, Trump remains titular head of our military and hypothetically they are bound to follow his orders. Some days ago he declined following a request to do so, to order the DC National Guard to go the the Capitol to defend it from the mob he had generated and ordered to go “be wild” (an earlier Twitter had informed his 66 million followers that on Jan 6 would be a big rally and to be there and that it would be wild.”) Pence and Pelosi did the ordering to get the National Guard there.The events on the 6th make clear that Trump is willing and able to abet and approve such things, and being painted deeply in a corner, he may just contrive to invite his rag-tag, armed Brown Shirts to come and trigger a major conflict. This time around the police cannot, as they seem to have done regarding the events of the 6th, plead ignorance (though the net was full of right-wing info about their intentions, with Trump making the invitations). It appears that perhaps some of the Capitol Police were in on it, and perhaps there was some inside something going on. It appears January 20 will be another of those things that make this an “interesting” time in which to live. (The old Chinese curse.)

Jan 11:..

hoisted on his own petard

he looked down to the crowd below

moving ever more distant, they seemed but ants

amazed at this unearthly view

he imagined himself in some kind of heaven

befogged in wispy clouds

sweet cherubs whispering the things he liked to hear

a music as he’d never heard before

the voices grew into a thunder

brought to mind beethoven, or was it wagner

instead it was a baying herd

asking for his head

on this earth there is one way off a pedestal

Jan 12

As more information leaks out regarding the Trump mob assault on the Capitol, the Republicans find themselves required to go into ever more absurd contortions to defend themselves and their complete surrender for 4+ years to The Don. Their Faustian deal has come home to roost, which any person with an IQ of 50 would have figured out years ago was bound to happen. Among the things leaking out are indications that some of the Capitol Police were in on it; that many were told to stay home that day even though the FBI had warned, etc. etc. While not yet utterly clear, it would seem that this was orchestrated from very high within the administration, with the plausible deniability looking thinner and thinner. The two heads of the Capitol Police promptly resigned from their offices, the Homeland Security head followed suit a day later. Hmmmm… What do you do when your coup attempt fails?

Trump’s visit to the Alamo, and his belligerent statement today, denying responsibility, another “perfect” address he says of his Jan 6th fomenting job, all point to a deranged psychopath cornered by his own actions.Some Republicans – including McConnell now – indicate Trump’s actions have been impeachable, and there need only be 16 of them to vote to impeach and with McConnell pressing the reluctant, perhaps these slime-balls will read the crystal ball and bail.We’ll see how this plays out in the coming days.And then of course there are silver and magic bullets too, which have been known historically to exist.

Jan 14

The days politics detoured the muse, and still does. But on Jan 11, this blurted out, clearly under the sway of current events. Yesterday listening to the Republican chorus of “but they…” and uniform refusal to admit what happened a week earlier had anything to do with the Great Leader’s goading, was an exhibition of why Hitlers are in some ways normal: because there are soulless people who will follow the stupidest, craziest asshole because their Great Leader is just like they are.

Jan 17

In another few days we’ll get (or not) the spectacle of BoogalooBois, 3%ers and other armed militia deciding this is the moment to go full in or not. WGOWGA as they say. Those arrested from the 6th indicate an interesting mix of redneck militia to middle-class to off-time cops and military, to those with private jets, all streaming their way to some kind of fame. The real estate lady from Frisco, a Dallas suburb, and others, now pleading for pardon from the departing Don. She exclaims, “But I am facing prison…” As I recall the phrase from my prison days, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” May we live in interesting times.

Jan 17

Here in Boston, a handful of blocks away from where I am, a hundred or so police have gathered around the State Capitol building, taking the FBI warning regarding pro-Trump militias planning to surround state houses, etc. somewhat seriously. Trump in a last minute shift has appointed a loyalist as top lawyer at the NSA. Other things seem to suggest there may be a last gasp effort by his rag-tag MAGA shirts to disrupt Wednesday’s inauguration and install The Donald as prez-for-life.

News leaking out regarding Jan 6th’s attempted putsch suggests the sergeant-at-arms of both the House and Senate police, both of whom resigned immediately after the failed assault on Congress, were both – along with some others – in on it, having quashed a request for backup of the National Guard the day before. Plenty of other things point to a poorly organized attempt to actually take over the Congress, take hostages and execute some, etc. One by one the dots coalesce into a readable pattern of a serious, if maladroitly organized, effort to overthrow the government.

Given that his followers seem to think that Trump must remain President, and had the example of nearly taking the seat of American government by force, there’s reason to think they may, despite the now-assembled forces in DC and elsewhere, give it a try in the coming days.In some manner this may be a good thing, as it is likely strategically and tactically premature, and having shown their hands on Jan 6, they feel compelled to carry it out as without Trump to provide cover, they could be readily confronted with actual military and police force working against them. No match. In their minds perhaps it is now or never, and so…

I think it is quite reasonable to expect some real bloodshed this coming week. The boogaloo bois wish to ignite a race and civil war, and other militia groups, while having differing aims, would likely go along with this. So they may give it a serious go, though if they lose you can expect harsh gun and anti-militia laws, and a round up of those who participate in them. Conversely if that is not done you can expect the imminent collapse of the Federal Government and the USA as a political entity. Having predicted this for some decades now, I can’t say I am surprised.

As well, as someone who subscribes to “catastrophe theory,” at least in some instances, I note that a confluence of stresses are all reaching a peak, and the usual result of this kind of thing is a rapid collapse. The deep corruption of the US – decades in formation – has revealed itself in Trump’s ascension; the economic disparities of current capitalism; the social/cultural chasms in our society; global warming, the fragmenting effects of the internet, and now as a coup de grace, Covid, all gather together to place extraordinary stress on society, and it shatters, its seeming stability shown to be an illusion.

Do we live in “interesting times?” Fasten your seat-belt.

Jan 18

Today a stroll to the Commons and by the State House. Fenced off, a contingent of police. No Boogbois etc. Either they’ve been chastened by arrests of some of their folks and the FBI on the tail of others, or they’ve pulled back figuring taking on the military and cops wouldn’t come out too well for them. Flip side is they blew Jan 6 and if they don’t accomplish a coup for The Don by Wednesday, or at least trigger their wished-for civil/race war, there is going to be a very different attitude coming from the Feds in the coming years. Last chance for a quick dance for them, or, as was said back in the 60s, up against the wall mofo.

Here is an article somewhat succinctly summarizing the history that got us here:


Jan 20 2021 a.m.

In a spectacularly subdued anti-climax, The Don departed the White House and DC, with a gaggle of supporters at hand, and his family clan. His end talk was the usual blather of how great and wonderful and successful his administration was. While he put on a good front and pundits described him as almost cheerful, my reading of his face was different: he appeared almost emotional and sad, bathed in self-pity. He left with the Village People’s YMCA, a gay-pickup anthem on the wonders of the Y, a song I have a hard time fathoming in the context – it was a staple of his campaign rallies – entering Air Force One with his hand clutching Melania as if affirming “A love supreme”, arriving at the stair top to wave and self-clap as he entered the plane in defeat. His clan clambered up a minute later, minus Ivanka and Jared (reported to have entered some back way – by levitation?) The guard marched away and another contingent of military guys, smartly dressed, rolled up the red carpet, and Donald John Trump left Washington DC, a complete and total loser, sure to go down in the history books as the worst American president ever. His father would be proud. Or perhaps not.He promised to be back “in some form.” Perhaps he will morph into a literal POS.

Jan. 20 2021

It appears the boogbois and friends thought better than to take on the US military and (some) cops. Joe Biden was able to get inaugurated without bullets flying, and young poetess did her eloquent reading, the first black/indian/woman veep entered office, and it appears the event turned into a super-spreader as Garth Brooks did a redneck Amazing Grace hugging everyone on leaving, having never masked up, and subsequently, once the speechifying was done, the crowd mingled and hugged and doubtless contributed to a coming Covid spike. Hot damn.

Of course in some rabbit holes conspiracy fans have it that Jan 6 was a Deep State ploy, intended to trigger a “reset” by the Wizard of Oz (not Trump, the fake one, but the real one still obscured behind the curtain), and that a Patriot Act II will suffocate all dissent on our march to corporate fiat money tyranny, etc etc.So covered in All-American “we are the good guys” platitudes, in a multi-colored parade, lathered with patriotic song and self-congratulatory rhetoric, Trump’s “American Carnage” is supplanted with wishful “we’re all in this togetherism.” Pip pip pip as the Brits might twit(ter).

I am sure a vast swathe of America is breathing a great sigh of relief, and will promptly commence to ignore all the things which brought us to our current state, eager for our ever lethal “normality” of shop til you drop, credit card indebtedness, invisible empire, and other follies of our culture. The last words of Biden’s speech were “God bless our troops.” Tells you something.

Yesterday I duly watched Our Great Leader’s ignominious departure from the White House and Andrews AFB, a spectacle lacking the punch of Nixon’s V sign of yesteryear. And then the further DC Kabuki, the installation of Everyman Joe into the just-vacated Trump lair, and the expected liberal swoon as Political Correctness resumed its place in the Oval Orifice. And I thought, hmmm, deja vu all over again, thinking of 2008, and its real realities lurking behind the DNC show-biz wool pulling. I am putting these ponderings down in a bit more length for a blog post soon.

Exhausted with the political shadow-boxing I took refuge in my little pastime with color and stuff, and made this very mixed bag, just playing around. Mess around some more today (I think). Meantime for anyone interested in an in-depth you-are-there look at a mere 2 weeks and 1 day ago, Jan 6, in DC, look at this, which I am considering using as foundation to make something video-wise.


20/20 : The Reckoning

At the very beginning of this Gregorian year of 2020 AD, life was its usual, with people criss-crossing the globe at the drop of a pin; airports were full; in much of the world festivities were in full bloom, celebrating the in-coming European New Year. Times Square and Trafalgar Square were crammed, as were other public arenas around the world. It was January 31, 2019.

On the same day, an announcement came from Wuhan, China, indicating a cluster of unusual cases of pneumonia. A week later, on January 7, Chinese authorities announced that the disease was caused by a novel infectious coronavirus, later to be named Covid–19.

In the world which we all take as “normal” the virus was rapidly transported, unknowingly, around the globe. Along with the package you ordered from Amazon or some other internet supplier, came this invisible virus, or perhaps when you picked up your friend at the airport, or some other commonplace matter.  Later research appears to indicate Covid-19 had actually spread around the world by November 2019. 

With the arrival of the new year, as the celebrants went drunkenly home, they did not yet know that their lives would be profoundly changed in the coming months, and doubtless, years.  Some would soon die, others contract long-term medical problems; jobs would be lost on a massive scale, and the entire world would shudder with the implications carried by this microscopic virus.  As people around the world joyfully rang in the New Year, they had little idea what awaited them.


It is not, though, as if they shouldn’t have had an idea of what the future would bring – the fire alarms and sirens had been shrieking for some time, for decades, and even longer.  However, caught up in the entrancements and conveniences of “modern times” we collectively chose to ignore the warnings we were issued.  Far back in the 19th century scientists understood that the pumping of CO2 into the environment would create a physical reality which would warm the earth’s atmosphere.  The entire world charged forward industrializing on a scale unimaginable to those scientists of 1870.  Rachel Carson warned in Silent Spring what our use of pesticides, and all the other paraphernalia of industrialized agriculture would do.  Marc Reisner wrote in Cadillac Desert of the consequences of our treatment of the vast central realm of America.  And most recently David Wallace-Wells issued a forbidding description of the world impacted by global warming in The Uninhabitable World.  And many others, in myriad form, have duly issued us warning after warning of the consequences of our behavior.  Few, though, paid attention.  Instead we caught a flight to here and there, tossed plastic bags in the oceans; expanded our population like wild; injected antibiotics in ourselves and our food, and went on with our fanciful modern high-tech lives, and imagined some world in which all these things were cheap and there was no bill.


Which brings me to the real impact of this epidemic, which is scarcely confined to medical matters. Rather as its impact ripples through the world, its many collateral damages – thus far largely masked for political reasons, just as the pandemic of 1918 was kept secret for a period owing to wartime circumstances – have been kept hidden or have had superficial palliatives tossed at them.

While scarcely “ancient history” the pandemic of 1918-19, for most Americans and others elsewhere, is a faded relic of a forgotten time. It was 102 years ago. At that time the world’s population was 1.8 billion people – today it is moving on 8 billion. It is estimated that one third of the population caught the H1N1 virus, the so-called Spanish Flu (though it appears it originated in Kansas), and 50 million people died from it. Should the coronavirus take a similar toll, it would kill 800 million around the world. While in its present form it appears far less lethal, and we have a far more sophisticated medical system to cope with it, we might note that back then the first round seemed modest, but it was on the second wave that the deaths accumulated. At present an estimated 41 million people have contracted Covid-19, which is a small drop in the bucket next to 8 billion.

Thus far Covid-19 has eluded any full comprehension as to its real effects and consequences, and is, as any such organism, mutating. There is no vaccine, and despite our vaunted medical knowledge, there is no good reason to believe it will fully shield us from the coronavirus.

The first of the visible impacts has been on the economy – millions of people have lost their jobs, many of which are unlikely to return. Particularly service jobs centered around tourism, and all the spin-offs from that: restaurants, hotels, travel systems. In many countries, tourism is a major income source, and in some it is virtually the only source. This entire industry has been sent to the mat. Cruise ships are being dismantled, Boeing, one of America’s major exporters is on its knees (in part owing to the self-created fiasco of the 737-Max debacle, but it still would be crippled by the collapse of mass tourism); restaurants across the globe are being shuttered. It is estimated that 1/10 of jobs in the globe are directly related to tourism. The era of mass tourism is finished, and with it millions of jobs.

Shuddering through the economy will be a wide range of effects, ones dealing with the most basic and essential aspects of our economy and our needs. In much of the “advanced” world, agriculture is reliant on transient imported labor; when its flow is blocked – owing in this case to restrictions owing to Covid-19 – agriculture suffers. Likewise those engaged in that labor are highly vulnerable to contracting this disease and being disabled by it, they are unable to do their work. This will drive food prices up as supply diminishes. And so on through the economy, the ripple effects may seem invisible, but they are real. The world of malls, department stores, retail sales will shrivel and collapse. At least for the moment, Jeff Bezos will profit from this, as have, evidently, most of our other billionaire (and more) class. Our friend Covid-19 has served to harshly underline the disparities in our societies, the ever widening chasm between the poor and the rich. This will likely carry on in the immediate future. 

As white collar workers are digitally dispersed, while on one hand relieved from the transparent insanity of daily commutes and its wasted time, it will cause a collapse of the entire urban infrastructure which lived off of it: cars and everything they require (gas, parking, highways), mass transit systems, cafes and bars, all which symbiotically live off the concept of a centralized urban setting of skyscrapers with a high density.  One by one these dominoes will fall – indeed many already have.

One could continue to itemize the myriad knock-on effects which will roll through our societies – material effects which serve to show how all the interlocking elements of our highly complex social system are mutually dependent, and once one unravels, the entire edifice begins to crumble.  It is a large structure, so inertia tends to slow the collapse, or at least the appearance of it.   

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is unravel.jpg

Many of the structures of our system are the product of a particular way of thinking of the world, a way which has been dominant now for a few centuries. It is called capitalism.  As the long history of this view shows, it is a fatal concept, illogical and tending to appeal to the worst of human instincts.  It is the concept upon which most of our current human world has been built, and has brought us to our present circumstance, and the precipice of extinction.  While the Covid-19 virus is a natural phenomenon, it seems likely that its emergence, and certainly its global spread, can be attributed to the nature of late capitalism, to such “efficiency” concepts as “just-in-time” practices, in which parts of some given object are farmed out to cheapest-labor, &/or cheapest resource settings, all to be shipped on tightly organized schedules to arrive for assembly and sales, via an intricate system which avoids, for example, the cost of storage.  Under capitalist logic this sounds wonderful and smart, and, while it works it seems magical. One goes on-line, and Amazon has whatever your object of desire to your doorstep the next day.  It is “cheap”.  Bezos and Amazon have wiped out a vast range of traditional retail systems, deleting millions of jobs, just as Walmart wiped out Main Street America.  Just in time.


The mantra of neo-liberalism, which asserts that free global trade is a universal good, and would raise billions out of poverty, has in truth been a catastrophe.  It has allowed wealth to move almost unfettered into every corner of the globe, disrupting traditional cultures, destroying agriculture, and addicting the world’s population to a lethal consumerism.  The Nike slash can be seen across the globe, along with the capitalist underpinnings of exploitation of labor, capital seeking places with the least regulation such that it can destroy the environment in pursuit of the ever-sacred “profit.” 

Yes, neo-liberalism has in many cases, in purely capitalist terms, raised large swathes of people out of “poverty” – along the way it has destroyed their cultures and societies, and thrust them into another form of poverty. And along the way a paper thin layer of humans has become insanely rich. And the process has indeed, driven them insane.  Despite now massive evidence that we are at the edge of extinction thanks in great part to the structural and psychic nature of capitalism, those titans of the system insist on plowing on – after all this system has made them fabulously rich and, as ever in human beings, this has blinded them.  Many of them, rooted in tech, seem to perceive a technical magic wand which will fix all the things which tech itself has made into a full blown disaster in the works. 

Remember when the internet and social media were hailed as mechanisms that would bring us all together?  Remember when one actually walked in a city or in the countryside and looked at the real world?  Remember when you went to a museum to look at paintings instead of at people taking selfies in front of them?   Our Silicon Valley wizards have promised a world of wonders to be extracted from their disruptions, yet far from doing that they have instead carelessly shattered a million traditions and replaced them with nothing remotely comparable.  The wreckage is to be seen all around us, if we just care to look. 


And then along comes Covid-19, which not only was possible, but had indeed, in some form or another, been predicted and to the degree feasible, anticipated, and for which preparations had been made in the US and surely elsewhere. A real wrench in the works. While history is filled with similar such occurrences, some local, some nearly global, it is one of those things we prefer to ignore, placing them in some far away time when such things could happen, owing to the lack of understanding at the time, the dubious medicines, the lack of social hygiene, and behind such thinking was the thought that our mystical high-tech wizardry would shield us from such things, our medical system would find a miracle cure, we’d whack out a vaccine and all would be OK. Such things as the Black Plague just couldn’t happen to us. Nor the other of the posse of the Apocalypse – famine? pestilence? war? Not for us. Of course there is and has been famine going on the last decades, along with localized pestilences, and indeed plagues of locusts. This year. And war is an American staple, though we try to keep them far away and out of mind. I suspect most Americans – likely 90+ percent do not know that in the Black Plague Europe lost half its population, as did other areas of the world – China, the middle-east, and India.

In our highly fragmented and constantly distracted society, where we are perpetually subject to assaults upon our consciousness, usually for the purpose of extracting money/profit from us, most have lost all sense of history. We cannot remember last year, much less the lessons of the last century, or of millennia of human history. In turn we simply cannot believe that what occurred in the past can apply to us. In the past year we have been issued a sharp and rude awakening: yes, all the calamities of the past, which few of us know of, can and will visit us again. And, in keeping with the exponential explosion of our vast populations, and their behaviors, these will be equally scaled. In 1918, the year of the Spanish flu pandemic, the global population was 1.8 billion; today it is edging on 8 billion. Rather than relatively localized, the coming disasters will be global in impact, as is happening with Covid-19. And the death toll will be in the billions.

We have constructed a dense, complex system, which no one can really understand, nor can any organized group do so, in part because it is simply far too intricate, too enmeshed together such that tugging at any part of it disturbs in some ways all of it, and leads to an endless cascade of unintended effects. Where we do one thing, meaning that it should be useful for us and seems so in the short-range, we find it produces other undesired or even lethal effects. A simple thing, such as the convenient virtually “free” plastic bag at the super-market check-out, now gags the oceans. The synthetic rayon sweater or gloves reduce to nano-particles of plastics which are in everything now – the water you drink, the air you breath, the food you eat. As are myriad other human made elements of which we do not know the end impact on us and the world we live in. From what we do know, it appears many are lethal and toxic to virtually all life on the planet.

Largely evaded, certainly from our official commentariat – be they government/corporate spokespersons, or the intellectual media elite – are these grim realities which confront us. In part it is unmentioned because those persons are so within the existing system, and so invested in it, that they simply cannot imagine a world in which it doesn’t exist and function. Thus they blind themselves, their horizons limited to the world they know and in which they are comfortable.

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

Matthew 15:14

Our predicament is not new, but rather ancient, and so the pithy admonitions of the past apply to us, as they did in then – thousands of years ago. The distinction is that owing to the vast technological system we have constructed, the gift of our opposable thumbs and our evolutionarily developed brain, those cautionary words which all human cultures have in one manner or another enunciated, apply now on a global scale. What was once locally disastrous is now so globally courtesy of our technical prowess, not only to we humans, but also to those remaining species we have not yet yet decimated. Our development though has been lopsided, and where our mechanical and technical intelligence has excelled, our moral and ethical sensibilities remain deeply rooted in the most basic core of our brains, those parts which govern our most necessary animal functions, our breathing, heart beats, digestion, sight, the most fundamental building blocks upon which our survival and success depend and upon which our instincts are built. They are primal and though we provide an overlay of learned behaviors which we use to “socialize” ourselves, to control and restrict those primal impulses, they remain active and ready to be triggered at the smallest disturbance of our “civilized” world. A glance around the world now, as always, shows us what humans can and will do if the guardrails of society are stripped away. Or in truth, even if they are not stripped away: while playing Bach and Beethoven, a sophisticated society at the same time constructed death camps. And in our day, the presumably civilized nation of the United States of America has carried on brutal wars – of late kept “off-screen” as much as possible – in Asia, Africa, Central and South America and the Middle-East.

As the cumulative stresses of the collapse of our system combine, there will be, as always, a psychological tendency towards denial. This will express itself in many forms, already in America, and elsewhere, present. There will be a rise in mystical belief systems, in conspiratorial inventions, in extremism. While some of these will be a method of deflecting from acceptance that a whole belief system, almost universally socially accepted, is in fact falling apart and was in reality false and incorrect, others will rise in a blind defense of that system. Taken together all these impulses will unfold in conflict. Confronted with the negative collateral effects of this collapse we can anticipate – and already see – the worst of human behaviors.

Famine and disease, both products of global warming as well as misguided industrial practices, will prompt mass migrations, and in turn resistance to these, as is already occurring in Europe and the USA. These pressures will beget wars.

The apocalypse is here. We just prefer other entertainments.

For further thoughts along these lines, see the blog posts below:

The United States of Insanity (March 25 2020)

The Corona Conspiracy: A fable (April 1, 2020)

The Corona Conspiracy: Pt. 2 (May 5, 2020)

PARIAH, notes on a film


A year and some ago, I received a note on Facebook from a young man from Kolkata, India. He asked me to look at a film he had made, a request which happens to me now and then. I assumed he had taken a workshop I’d done there some years ago, but as it turned out, he’d never heard of me. A friend of his who’d been in one of those workshops had suggested to him I was open, liked non-conventional films, and he should ask.

Most of the time when I get this kind of thing, I’ll say yes, and take a look – most often giving up after a few minutes of either truly inept and uninteresting work, or something utterly conventional which the maker thinks is somehow special. I admit I am not very tolerant in this respect, which I tell people at the outset when they ask.

If anyone reading this has a good connection to a major festival or showcase/event and could help secure a good screening situation, please contact me here.


In this case I hit the play button and was greeted right off with gorgeous very wide-screen black and white imagery, and a sharp cinematic sensibility to go with it – the editing, choices of camera movement, shifts from very close to distant, pacing. It was slow, and as some narrative began to emerge I was introduced to the main character: a grown man, seemingly mentally damaged, filthy, mute, wearing something like a badly soiled diaper. He squatted, his head swiveling this way, then that, his face showing curiosity and fear. He was not “attractive” nor in such terms someone with whom to “identify” sympathetically – a usual prime demand of most cinema viewers. The camera and film dwells on him, relentlessly.


Initially it was slightly off-putting despite the cinematic intelligence at work. But then, gradually drawn in to the cinematic qualities, and the near obsessive nature of the “story,” I watched to the end.  At the conclusion I was highly impressed and wrote the filmmaker, Riddhi Majumder.

I then found out that he’d not known of me, and on fleshing things out, was told he’d shot the film when he was 23, and this was his first film. It set me back on my heels to think such a mature work was made by someone so young, with such a serious subject and such an astute cinematic sensibility. In turn this begot an exchange of messages, and he told me how he’d submitted the film to many festivals and received no response, just the negative one of being minus the entry fees. The festivals were mostly marginal ones, ones of no utility, and in some cases just scams. I told him to stop, that he was wasting his money, and that I would try to help him get it into a meaningful festival. Which I did attempt, though my evidently totally diminished “clout” proved useless.


The film was turned down by Cannes, Locarno, Venice, and Pesaro, despite my acquaintance with people connected to those festivals and my firm words on the film’s behalf. I was surprised, since I felt the film was really very very good and should have been accepted by one of these on its own merits. Thus far the film has not been invited to any major or minor festival. In my view this is far more a testament to the dubious nature of festivals these days than about Riddhi’s film.

Pariah is a one-thread film: a pilgrim’s progress in the world, in which its main character, the unnamed pariah, moves from basic survival to humiliation followed with further humiliation, a prisoner of the world around him. Initially in a forest, we find him foraging for food – bird eggs taken from nests. Nearing a village he encounters a child, a little girl. He chases her and enters her village. There is something ambiguous in this chase, an almost childlike innocence, but with undertones of possible other meanings: might he rape her?




Entering the “civilized” world we hear a loudspeaker intoning in a cult-like manner a kind of mantra, and are introduced to an obnoxious satrap, a man full of himself receiving massages and showers from his minions who cower at his feet like whipped dogs. He lives in a palatial house, receiving visits from the villagers who beseech him for favors, and whom he treats with haughty disdain. We see men working in a well while the public announcement system speaks of an magic elixir, which binds the community together, a holy liquid.



The pariah, found sleeping in a hutch is captured and brought to the village, and tormented by the people there. He is brought to the satrap, who has him chained to a wall, and then, seemingly influenced by a young sympathetic woman, shows mercy and releases him. The pariah then joins the satrap on a hunting party, where he causes a problem and is duly punished in consequence.

Hung on the wall again, he manages to escape while the satrap is abusing a young woman. Later, found in the night in the woods, he is brutally twice raped by the satrap and a partner, and left, semen soiled, on the forest floor. In the morning he rises, like a wounded animal, and stumbles on, finally coming to a pond where he washes himself. Absolution. Moving on he comes across an old wise man who plays music and dances, and he himself dances, seemingly now free and delirious in joy.


The villagers, though, return and round him up, and in a frenzy go by torch light, leading him to a pyre.


As a story this is simple – the innocent and the evil juxtaposed, the herd behavior of the people bowing to suspect authority, the sway of cult beliefs governing society. But, as in music, in which the lyric is often simple and near useless on the sheet, but soars when made music, Riddhi’s poetry emerges in the cinematic qualities of the film in concert with its grim content. The rich images, beautifully conceived and shot; the sharp cinematic sense of when to move the camera and how, where to place it. And then the non-professional actors carrying their roles in a strangely Bressonian sense but the opposite, often in near iconic imagery. They stand as “models” but emote as actors, shifting the terms of this film from a seeming “realism” to a parable, a Bengali variant of Catholicisms’ Stations of the Cross, except in this case there is no redemption, there is no resurrection, there is no hope.


Pariah, aesthetically stunning, and thematically grim, offers little solace outside its artistry. Which, I suppose is why thus far it has been bypassed in favor of less demanding works and “audience pleasers”, even in so-called “serious” festival settings – which is a tragedy.

I have been at many festivals, and seen many truly bad films at them.  Especially ones by “name” directors who seem to get a pass, no matter what crap they do. (One I particularly recall is Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers, a true piece of junk that I hope Korine coughed up to show how inane festival selection can be: big name, big shit = invitation.)

It would be for me a sad matter if Riddhi Majumder’s film were to be simply swept by in the vast river of cinematic junk which rushes by everyday, and that the failure of our cultural system were to put any kind of brake upon him.  He is a person of transparently natural sensibilities for this medium, a born filmmaker.  And from the evidence of this work he is someone taking life and our place in the world seriously, and making work to address that.  Perhaps this makes him a pariah in the sad corrupt world which much of the cinema circus represents.

If anyone reading these words can help Riddhi secure the kind of screenings this work deserves, either contact me here, or Riddhi directly:

email: riddhimajumder.93@gmail.com


Facebook ID, http://facebook.com/radym


Haruspex Republicanus


Bronze casting of sheep entrails reading

Back in the good old days – to say the days of the Roman Empire – they practiced haruspicina, in which a person trained and practiced in haruspex examined the entrails of sheep or chickens and were said to divine the future therein.  Today we might say our endless list of bloviating pundits and columnists do much the same, from the “liberal” side of the spectrum to the rabid right: Christiane Amanpour, Paul Krugman, Frank Rich, Charles Blow and a host of others, and then mincing to the middle perhaps Thomas Friedman or David Brooks (both formerly of the murmuring Right) and finally over to the farther Right, the shrieking of Limbaugh, Coulter, Beck and all the rest to be found on radio and TV talk shows, and regulars on Fox “News” – the official propaganda go-to broadcaster for America’s livid “conservatism.”




Since Donald John Trump secured the Republican nomination for President, the Republican Party has, in a grand, slightly slo-mo, display, disemboweled itself in full public view.  The Grand Old Party, once the home of the stodgy keepers of the flames of moral and political rectitude, where “character” mattered, and “family values” reigned supreme, and fiscal tight-fistedness was closely clutched to the breast and deficits were anathema, has done a U-turn on nearly all this.  Pundits and politicians, who previously foreswore Trump as unthinkable, uncouth, unfit, and otherwise utterly beyond the pale, now extol his wonders.  Newt Gingrich debases himself before the new Caesar; Chinless of Tenn, smarmily embraces him, and myriad others who pontificated loudly against the garish real estate criminal from New York now – as in the early cabinet meeting when each of the supplicants offered their absurdist praises – suck the slurry of his absent mind.  Others, having twisted themselves into pretzels to accommodate the inversion of all they believed, finally snapped and departed or were sent packing for failure to genuflect in sufficient depth.



This past week, in a demonstration of how yesterday were the old shibboleths of Republican propriety, the Senate rammed through the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, a privileged son of modest wealth, party animal, Yalie, and accused sorta rapist and self-convicted perjurer.  Once, in apparently some other life, he had complained forcefully of the disgusting behavior of Bill Clinton, while working with the Starr investigation for impeachment purposes.  In his papers from that other life he delved into what in hindsight seems a perverse delight into the very specific sexual nature of the former President’s actions:

Taken from a New York Times article on Kavanaugh’s notes for the Starr inquest:

“The president has disgraced his office, the legal system and the American people by having sex with a 22-year-old intern and turning her life into a shambles — callous and disgusting behavior that has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle,” Mr. Kavanaugh wrote.

“He has committed perjury (at least) in the Jones case. He has lied to his aides, he has lied to the American people.

“It may not be our job to impose sanctions on him, but it is our job to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear — piece by painful piece  Aren’t we failing to fulfill our duty to the American people if we willingly ‘conspire’ with the president in an effort to conceal the true nature of his acts?”

To that end, Mr. Kavanaugh wrote, Mr. Clinton should be asked extremely detailed questions unless he first either resigned or admitted to perjury and publicly apologized to Mr. Starr.

Mr. Kavanaugh listed 10 possible questions based on Ms. Lewinsky’s testimony, saying that he would “leave the best phrasing to others.” Among them were these:

“If Monica Lewinsky says that you had phone sex with her on approximately 15 occasions, would she be lying?”

“If Monica Lewinsky says that you ejaculated into her mouth on two occasions in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?”

“If Monica Lewinsky says that you masturbated into a trash can in your secretary’s office, would she be lying?”

During his confirmation hearings, in his new life, Judge Kavanaugh showed a remarkable imagination in giving new meanings to old words:

“Boofing,” which amongst his peers meant “anal sex” in his mind became “flatulence;” “The Devils Triangle,” among the peers meaning a sexual threesome of 2 guys, 1 girl, became a card game; and the Renate Club, known to his pals as confirmation you’d had Renate, became an honorific compliment to said Renate.

Mr Kavanaugh also lied to the Congress about numerous other things in his testimony, including rather serious matters. And yet, when the time came for a vote, 50 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted to confirm him for a seat on the highest court in the land, shortly after he’d committed a handful of crimes before their very eyes and ears.  It is rumored that President Trump is considering the appointment of a horse for candidate for the next Senate seat open.


roman horse black

raf,750x1000,075,t,101010 01c5ca27c6

In a harsh political calculation the Republicans clearly thought that having having a toady on the Supreme Court, as Kavanaugh has given his bonafides for such a role over his long public service, was worth burning bridges with half the nation’s population, or at least the part of that half that doesn’t take kindly to undesired sexual manhandling or other such symptoms of misogyny.  Senator Flake’s feint towards the women with his call for an FBI investigation added a small ripple of hope to the matter for those against the confirmation, while providing a few senators, including himself, for whom the vote was politically dicey a transparent fig leaf with which to vote “yes.”  Whether this calculation will prove wise remains to be seen in the coming election and beyond.  The Grand Old Party, always a stalwart gathering of men, has defiantly secured its position as a club for sexist white men (and house “niggers”) only, aside from those women who seem to beg for maltreatment, of which there seems an ample blonde supply.  The Trumpian change-over is complete, and the rank hypocrisy – formerly visible only to the moderately discerning – is now blatant and overt.  Family values and all the rest be damned:  grab that pussy.  And the Fundamentalist “Christians,” the most strident shouters of moral rectitude in the land, have shown their true colors, with a twisted “moral logic” which even the Catholic Church, a secret conclave of pederasts, would have difficulty accepting: hate the sin, love the sinner.  And boy do they love Donald Trump.  Of course there is a long and still present history of grifter ministers, from the fictional Elmer Gantry, to Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker on to our current “prosperity” televangelists flying in private jets, like Joel Osteen, and living the lives of millionaires, tax-free.  (Hmm, just like the President).  The religion of PT Barnum is alive and well in the Trump era.



And so, peering into the entrails of the now gutless Republican Party, what can we find?  First perhaps the vivid signs of racism, announced by Trump in his initial forays into politics when he took out a full page ad regarding the “Central Park Five” – a story ripe in American stereotyping, in which 5 young black men were accused of raping a white female jogger in New York’s Central Park, supposedly confessed and spent a long period in prison before the case was dismantled and they were proven innocent, their confessions coerced, etc.  Trump was instrumental in building up the hysteria around them, and when it was found he was in error, he never apologized.



As Barack Obama headed towards the Presidency, Mr Trump became a “birther” – someone who questioned the legitimacy of Obama’s Presidency on the grounds that he had not been born in the USA and was hence not eligible for this office.  The claim was completely fictitious – a lie, something which comes as naturally to Donald as breathing. Again, the grounds were pure racism.  But Trump kept hammering away and behind him a growing mob quietly mutated into a viable political mass.  It was his calling card for his future political intentions, built on the thick veins of deep racism running through America’s social DNA.  Trump was hitting the mother lode.

fire obamasm



Where earlier Republican candidates had deployed myriad forms of “dog whistles” to signal their racism, Trump was upfront and blatant about it – with regard to Mexicans, blacks or anyone else not as white as he is.  After the “politically correct” suppression of the Obama era, in which it was said we were in a “post-racial” time and the use of “bad” words was chastised, this new-found “honesty” burst like a major oil hit, opening the sluice gates of raw unadulterated All-American racism wide.  We are now drowning in a deluge of cellphone videos of racist harangues and attacks in public, harassment on up to the stream of murdered-while-living-black cop killings.  ICE is rounding up mostly south-of-the-border “POCs” and impounding 14,000 (seeming count of late) “illegal” children in internment camps.



detainment camp map.JPG


Mucking around further in the slurry of this Republican display one finds a remarkable unity of purpose, a submission to authority such that members are able to invert their supposed beliefs in an instant.  They can pontificate on the sanctity of the family in the same moment they kow-tow to a thrice married man whose vulgarity is unchained.  They can mouth platitudes about patriotism while dodging service with bone-spurs or class-born deferments.  They can rail about Jesus while lining their pockets with silver, and thread the needle slicker than a camel.   One can list a thousand things of this kind which all distill into a common ground: pure and utter hypocrisy, most appropriately summarized in their leader, who is the literal embodiment of falsity while bellowing loudly about the Fake News of all else.


German Americans Giving Nazi Salute



While I do not purport to be a Cassandra, nor do I believe in the reading of entrails to discern the future, I do foresee a few things – drawn not from such mystical sources, but rather a hard-nosed reading of history.  It has been said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce.  I don’t really concur with this, rather I see history as sequences of patterns which rise and fall, like waves coming in at the beach.  Each wave follows the same law of physics as the next, and is modulated by whatever disturbances enter into the equation.  Each deposits a line of sand, looking much like the prior and much like the following, but each unique and different.  And so does history.  The rise and fall of empires follows a pattern.  And while the United States has never openly declared itself an empire, is has been and is one.  And it is following a similar process of all the empires which rose before and collapsed, only in these times accelerated by the technological means which mark our epoch.  Time does not go faster, rather we ourselves move through time more quickly.


The United States of America is already in the last stages of its undeclared empire.  It is internally corrupt, it is vastly over-extended militarily, it is bankrupt from the expenditures on that military at the cost of domestic infrastructure.   It is collapsing and as is customary in such imperial end-games, it is taken over by the most zealous, the fanatics, and will doubtless suffer a period of police-state modern Fascism as it crumbles. It is already doing so.   Fascism is not so farcical.

Police Suspension Hand Symbol



The tragedy is that while it is preoccupied with its internal turmoil, the wider world, deeply impacted by America’s dominant role in the last 100 or more years – the world’s biggest polluter over time (now matched by China in the contemporary period), the greatest consumer of the world’s resources (25% for 4.4% of the globe’s population) – is facing a vast terminal threat largely instigated by western technology and its political handmaiden, capitalism, uniquely embodied by the USA.  So while the United States is distracted with its political stresses, it carries on inflicting damage on the the globe, and with the current administration even doing so with gleeful intent.   The consequence will be globally fatal, at least for most species, including us, on the planet.  All for the god almighty buck, America’s true religion and bottom line.


For further reading on some of the things mention here see

thisthisthis, and this and this.









The Deep State and the Don(ald)

Following the conspiracy lead of Steve Bannon and Breitbart, Donald Trump has grumbled and tweeted often about the Deep State, the purported nefarious grouping of hidden government persons lurking in the depths of the massive Federal apparatus of myriad acronymic masks.  ICE NSA FBI CIA and on through to lesser known but equally evil entities.  These are alleged to be conclaves, variously, of members of the Harvard elite, Yale’s Skull and Bones, Jewish cabalists, covens of Christian Fundamentalists, or whichever cluster-fuck you wish to designate, surely there will be a website or more devoted to reading the tea-leaves of the signals emitted from these organizational black holes and their swirling galaxies.  Right and Left wing chatterboxes selectively cherry-pick whatever political tid-bits they wish and construct fabulist narratives around them, from the assassination of JFK to that of MLK to 9/11 and on to the Boston Marathon bombing.  The existence of the internet gives wide berth for these to spawn, however false or true they might be.



kennedy assassination


Extracted from these events come tomes from scholars, Hollywood movies, novels and the rantings of Limbaugh, Hannity, Alex Jones and a host of lesser names. There’s millions to be made from these, and those mentioned have made theirs and more.  Like America’s religious hucksters, there’s a lot of money to be made preying on the gullible and fearful, with which it seems our country is plentifully supplied.  Welcome to the world of QAnon.   It’s American as Apple Pie.


uploads1504017121881-OleHeadThe Lakewood Mega-church, Dallas TX

For decades – well actually far longer than that, for centuries  – America has been awash with conspiracy theories, reaching back to its founding.  There were always traitors loose in the land, lluminati, the anti-christ, double-agents for foreign powers, the entire gamut of customary political war-horses, broad-brushes with which to paint your enemy. Today’s landscape is nothing new, just that for brief periods we like to pretend it ain’t so.

But, myths aside, it’s all the same old same old.  As is governance itself.

Current CIA Director Mike Pompeo And Five Former CIA Directors Speak At National Security ConferenceTwo deep-state members, John Brennan and General Michael Hayden, former chiefs of the CIA

Conspiracy theories, to take root, need soil, and the United States government has been rich tilling land for as long as its been around.  Within long-term living memory those range from major matters, such as the concept that FDR and the government knew Pearl Harbor was coming, and let it happen.  Jump ahead half a century, and the same it true of 9/11.  In both cases there is ample evidence to suggest they are true, though the makers of American mythology adamantly insist that only a tin-foil hatter would believe such malarkey.  After all, who could believe that our own government would allow such events to occur when their job is to protect us?  Only a true nutter could believe such a thing, regardless of the massive evidence and logical reasons for such a thing to fit properly into a narrative.

And the same goes for lesser items from the assassination of JFK requiring magic bullets, and on down to such trivial things as using members of the military as guinea pigs for “scientific” experiments, or, well, hell, using whole cities like San Francisco to experiment with some new biological dispersal weapon.  Or letting St. George, Utah, knowingly be a nice down-wind recipient of nuclear bomb test radiation and then spending decades denying the cancerous downside.  In fact, the more one knows about Uncle Sam the more fertile the soil one finds for tin-foil hat thoughts.


Enter Donald, the wanna-be Queen’s tough guy sporting a giant borough-wide chip on his shoulder.  A self-made man, so he insists (that million buck starter kit from Dad don’t count), he broke into the hard-as-nails world of Manhattan real-estate and built a solid gold (well, at least gold-plated) reputation as a party-animal, womanizer, builder of garish towers, possessor of serial-wives and of serial bankruptcies.  And despite all that he wasn’t welcomed into the fold of the Manhattan elite, and here, decades later, bearing a grudge that deforms his face and body, and weighs on him like a WWF wrestler, he’s out to let them have it. Descending his golden escalator but 3 years ago, met by his adoring rent-a-crowd, he tossed his hat in the Presidential circus ring, and to wide amazement and laughter promptly vanquished the supposedly serious Republican candidates with school-yard taunts, and thereafter sent the world into shock when Hillary Clinton lost to him as well, if not in the general vote, then in the dubious Electoral College. The world has been aghast since, as The Donald charges like a raging bull, upsetting one institutionally rooted apple-cart after another, shredding the polite decorum and language of our traditional politics, and causing serious harm to the status quo.  Just like he said he would.

Well, almost.



Having promised to “drain the swamp” The Don instead stocked the beltway with more alligator sleaze than anyone thought conceivable, stacking his Cabinet with grifters ready to dismantle their respective departments, and to feed at the Federal trough as quickly and mercilessly as possible.  Having reduced his GOP Congressional majorities to the quivering sycophants they always were, our gangster godfather trashed protocols, ripped up treaties and obsessively uprooted anything having to do with Barack Hussein Obama while loudly bellowing his utterly unmasked racism.  Supposedly serious Republicans held their silence while the Tea Party wing cheered lustily and the Don’s racist base went bananas.  Doubtless never having actually read it, the man sworn to uphold the US Constitution, as G W Bush had suggested earlier, treated it as “just a goddam piece of paper.”   Toilet paper in this instance.

All of this behavior has transpired with little more than murmurs from the official opposition, the Democrats, who hide behind their minority status in the House and Senate whimpering there’s nothing they can do, their hands are tied until November, the mystical season of voting when the Great American Public is allowed to choose between corporately approved specimen A or B. And besides, they are as beholden to their corporate masters as the GOP, and should they speak too loudly the full depths of both-sides-of-the-aisle corruption would be fully exposed.   Until then the pages of YouTube and Facebook are awash with videos of virulent racists yelling and screaming on camera, police killing blacks for being black, ICE round-ups of alleged illegal aliens, children stored in ex-Walmart boxes converted to instant prisons, and other pleasantries of the present American mental landscape, the ugly id of the nation having been exposed by Trump’s tearing off of the band-aid of PC politeness imposed by the prior administration.


Faced with this rupture of politics-as-normal, the nation has contorted itself into the unimaginable:  the liberal-left now looks upon the FBI, the CIA and NSA as potential saviors, while the right, formerly the supposed champions of fiscal and moral rectitude, law & order, balanced budgets, goody-two-shoes ethics and virulent anti-Commie/Russiaphobes morphed instantaneously into Russiaphiles, haters of the deep-state combine of the FBICIANSA, and rabid pigs at the trough of corruption and racism.  And not only trickle down economics, but also trickle down ethics, in this case in the form of terminal corruption.  Hence the plague of YouTube racism and cop-killer videos.

170803104354-01-comey-file-0608-super-teaseYou’re Fired!  Former FBI Chief Comey

Enter the deep rumblings of the Deep State.  Famed for having intervened in an attempted Richard Cheney machination during a breathless hospital visit to then Attorney General Ashcroft who lay seriously ill, while Cheney-Bush henchmen sought to secure his signature for a program of dubious legality, wearing his cloak as Ashcroft’s chief assistant, James Comey, life-long Republican, became a belated liberal hero, as did fellow Republican, Robert Mueller, then head of the FBI.  See this for the full story.    And now, a decade and some later, these two emerge from the deep bowels of the government yet again in tandem.  As FBI chief, appointed by Obama and retained by Donald Trump, Comey was pressed by his new boss to swear a certain kind of loyalty, mob-style. Declining, he was summarily fired, though in a manner in which in the arcane convolutions of government he was able to secure the naming of a special counsel to investigate Russian skullduggery during the 2016 election. The Special Counsel named was none other than Robert Mueller.  And not only that, but Comey also also did so in a manner which required Trump lackey Richard Sessions, Director of the Justice Department, to recuse himself from the investigation.    All this served well for Trump to loudly complain that he was being undercut and back-stabbed by the Deep State, of which Trump cohort Steven Bannon and his program Breitbart had long complained.


lack ccDrawing by Stephen Lack37291739_10155910619829436_2679336775477886976_o

The news of the day of late swirls with the constant word of criminality in high places – the current Manafort trial pealing the skin off the fancy-suited world of business and politics, with fantastical numbers, a litany of off-shore banking havens, and enough moral sleaze to last forever.  Or until the next, around-the-corner, trial to reveal still deeper depravity.   Or Avenatti’s latest lurid spill of The Don’s hushed-up sex-capades.

GTY-james-clapper-jef-170308_16x9_992James Clapper, former head of the NSA

Legally, lying to a Congressional committee is a crime, whether under oath or not, punishable by up to five years in prison, or in some instances more.  James Clapper was head of the NSA,  (whom it turns out went to Annandale HS, Fairfax VA, 1956-60, same time I did, though I do not recall knowing him then, but my sister does); in testimony to Congress he lied.  Caught at it, he recanted in a Clintonesque manner, parsing the exact meaning of “spying” etc.

brennanJohn Brennan, Ex-Director of CIA

Mr Brennan, former director of the CIA, outspoken of late regarding Donald Trump -saying his comportment in Helsinki was “treasonous” – is himself in a problematic position, having also lied to Congress, just as did Clapper.  In his case regarding torture and such nice things.

And of course Mr Comey, fired director of the FBI, is also accused by some of lying, or at least fudging regarding leaks from his office.  All in all, a charming cluster of characters, all deeply enmeshed in governmental agencies which traffic in secrecy as a part of their function. Naturally a good setting for conspiratorial actions.  All lied to Congress, but skated.  So small wonder that thoughts of a Deep State tend to focus on this area, along with the military.

That this nexus of fellows engaged in the sordid arts of secrecy and executors of the dirty deeds of the US government should all re-emerge in unison, though this time wearing super-hero cloaks for some liberals, indeed raises a peculiar stench, the smell of something rotten deep in the bowels of America’s government: Yes, Virginia, there is a secret Deep State.


And yes, it seeks to defend its institutional status and powers, just as do almost all bureaucratic institutional organizations.  In this case, these institutions (and 14 other “security” organizations under the umbrella of the Unites States Government), all seek to carry out their jobs as protectors of the corporate/business powers for which and on behalf of which that government exists.  And when by some quirk of circumstance, something or someone inimical to those interests occurs, it is their function to work together to challenge and defeat that intruding force.  And such, in the instance of Donald John Trump, is the case.


Were the Republican Party a healthy political party in American terms, it would have never allowed Trump to emerge as its nominee for President.  In a “healthy” state it would have vetted him, researched his background, and done whatever was necessary to assure he did not become their candidate.  But the Republican Party, like the rest of the society it is rooted in, is, exactly as is the Democrat Party, utterly corrupt, and has been so for some decades, steadily rotting away until it became a steaming fetid swamp of oligarchism marinated in All-American racism. The Democrats were equally corrupt, utterly owned by corporate powers, and utterly out-of-touch with what neo-liberal policies – their policies – had done to broad areas of the American public.

And as were and are the political parties of the USA, so too all its institutions are corrupt:  the Congress, the Courts, the Executive Branch, the 5th Estate, the corporate world, Wall Street.  Every. Damn. One. Of. Them.

So it is little wonder that along with all these pillars of American society that the Deep State is likewise corrupt.  Any decent working Deep State would have some time ago arranged a plausibly deniable accident, be it on the ground, Air Force One, or a berserk White House Guard, and Trump would already be fodder for further conspiracy theorists to figure out who done it.   But thus far, confronted with the Keystone Kops of the inept, obvious, utterly corrupted government of the most comical Don imaginable, the hard-men of the Deep State have thus far fumbled the ball, and the Trump gang, though snookered by their own glaring stupidity, is still standing.

So yes, Don, yes there is a Deep State, and it is certainly out to get you.  But it is just like you, and is inept and as flaccid as your butt is, unable to shift from the SOP of the Cold War to a world in which Tweets shift the market up and down and idiocy rules the White House, and few care if the President consorts with prostitutes and stuffs his government full with nepotism and cronyism.  After all, most of them are doing exactly the same things.

Meantime America burns.

38612308_1896541237072837_546552833437073408_n.jpgTrump supporters, Florida37349381_10157676792769691_6852735318517350400_n.jpgPainting by Stephen Lack38412092_10157698753329465_1046501303162765312_n.jpgAlleged image of California forest fires seen from above the clouds