Monday, March 30, 2009

Counting Down To The Burn

The Ticket

Just a little update here. I got my ticket for Burning Man today (48 hours by express mail, those guys don't fool around). I have 4 months to prepare, and I am going to need all it. You have to admire an organization that includes a 'Fireball Gumball' in every ticket envelop that is overnight mailed.

If anyone else out there in the Blog-o-sphere is planning on going. Let me know and we can meet find each other on the Playa at midnight under a canopy of stars.

Burning Man Website

My Original Burning Man Blog-2007

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rocky Point Scavenger Hunt

Figuring It Out

We just got back from 2 days in Mexico. The wife and I often go down to a little town called Puerto Penasco on the Sea of Cortez. The locals call the place Rocky Point and it is a favorite hangout for folks in Phoenix, Arizona to get away from it all. I have often commented that it is as far away from Phoenix as you can get in 3 hours.

The stars aligned just right and thanks to some friends going down at the same time, my Federal Tax refund, and some much needed stress release, we were able to make the drive down. Three hundred and eighty dollars for a private house on a beach with two dogs and no distractions is well worth the money. We both needed the time off.

I have often wondered why I like Mexico so much. On the surface it isn't a very appealing place. It is dirty, poor and at times a bit uncomfortable. Yet, it keeps drawing us back. The beaches probably have something to do with it, as does the absence of cell phones and e-mail. Sometimes, we just need to turn everything off and get away.

But there is something else that I really love about this place. It is hard to put my finger on it, but it has to do with the attitude of the Mexican people and the different priorities and expectations that they have. They haven't yet succumbed to the notion that money will bring you happiness and that getting ahead is all there is in life. This was brought home to me this past trip during a visit to the Mexican Grocery store.

My wife didn't want to cook and we left in somewhat of a hurry so we didn't bring much stuff with us. When it came time for the Friday night meal, we really couldn't go out since we had the dogs with us. So I offered to go and buy some groceries at the local version of Safeway called Super Ley. This was an experience that was pretty eye opening.

Super Ley is a big store and looks like any other large food outlet in the US. But wandering its aisle-ways was a lesson in cultural differences that showed me just how far we had come and how the Mexicans were catching up, which isn't necessarily a good thing.

First of all, I am not a great cook. I know how to make 'guy food' which is what I learned to sustain myself with while starving in college. It tastes good, but isn't necessarily good for you. It usually involves pasta or rice and probably some hamburger. My wife gave me a list of things to shop for at Super Ley and it quickly became evident that I wasn't' going to find most of it.

It seems that Mexico has yet to embrace the concept of the 'packaged' food item. For instance....there was no Peanut Butter....I couldn't find it anywhere! The closest thing was Nutella which just isn't the same. My wife also wanted some candy bars (because she just NEEDS chocolate), but there weren't any. There were no Snickers, no 3 Musketeers, no Reeses Peanut Butter cups. Those franchises just don't have foothold south of the border. I then went looking for some frozen foods like pizza or chicken pot pies. Nada...not going to happen. They don't do this sort of stuff in Rocky Point. I assume that microwaves don't hold a place of honor in most Mexican kitchens either.

Nope, the Hispanics south of the border still cling to the notion that you 'make' your own food. You take raw ingredients and put them together to make something. They don't go for convenience or pre-packaging. They know exactly what they are putting into their mouths. So I was forced to improvise. I centered on a sort of hamburger helper concoction with pasta and ground beef. Only problem was, it was sort of difficult to figure out what was in some of the boxes, since I don't read much Spanish. I did a lot of reading in Super Ley that afternoon, trying to figure out exactly what I was looking at.

During my trips up and down the isles trying to find basic ingredients something else came into focus. Mexicans are not real worried about their health. Not once did I see the word 'diet' or 'lite'. But I did see a lot of products with the word 'Azucar' in the title (sugar). Mexicans seem to really love sweet stuff and spicy food. I didn't sense that they were too worried about their clogged arteries or restless leg syndrome.

With my shopping basket full of ingredients that I thought would make a good dinner, I headed for the front of the store. I found myself looking at 12 checkout lanes, and 10 of them were actually open. End waiting. Scanning around the rest of the store, I noticed that there had to be at least 50 employees, working in the store. They were everywhere. No cutting service to save money here. Everyone worked, even if just at minimum wage. These Hispanics were more than eager to greet the 'gringos' with a smile and fast speedy service.

Life here is about the basics...good food, living well, and enjoying what you can. There wasn't a lot of convenience or worry here. It is a simpler mindset, a more relaxed way of life. Something that I sorely miss in the day to day living here in the United States.

Overall, our time down in Rocky Point was wonderful. The beach and the town were almost deserted, even during Spring Break. This was attributed to the fear that had been broadcast in the media about the Mexican drug wars on the border. I knew this was a farce. While there are problems in Mexico regarding the drug trade, it is still a much safer place to be than driving down any Phoenix freeway in rush hour traffic.

Here in the States, we worry way to much. We are told by the television to worry about our finances, our health, our safety, our jobs. Take a trip to Mexico and see how the rest of the world lives. If you do, you will understand why so many people in foreign countries think we are crazy.

Ow, and the dinner that wasn't gourmet, but I sure liked it. It wasn't so much the satisfaction of my hunger, but the fact that I had figured out how to do it on my own. It was more a sense of accomplishment than anything else. I don't get that feeling after shopping at the local Albertson's back home.

All pictures taken with my LGAX6800 Cell Phone

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thank You, Sharon

Sharon Nettles

One of the reasons I took up blogging was as an outlet for my frustration. Some of it was a way of letting off steam from the constant pressures that life placed on me. I chose the title (Hypocrisy) for a reason, the more I lived the more hypocritical people seemed to become. To say that there are a lot of things in life that frustrate me would be an understatement. But there were also other reasons. It was difficult to find like-minded individuals that I could 'communicate' with. Communicate in a way that I could exchange and bounce ideas off of others. In a Socratic way, where questions were asked and positions were challenged in an effort to learn from the other person.

I first came across this form of communication when I was in college. I attended Oregon State University in the late 1970s. A time that seems light years from where I find myself today. My memories of Oregon State are ones of youth, wet winters, lush springs, green summers and articulate friends who were hungry for knowledge and experience. In many ways it was the best time of my life although I didn't realize it back then.

I was fortunate enough to have a close knit bunch of friends that I hung out with for almost 5 years at Oregon State. We usually always had a large rented house, with old beatup furniture, no heat, a small black & white television that was seldom watched, and a lot of books laying around. We partyed a lot, young people often do, but we also talked. We talked a lot about politics and the world view. About ecology, anthropology and other cultures. It was the time of the "Carter Malaise" and the "Reagan Doctrine". The cold war still raged and back then it was the Soviets that were still in Afghanistan.

One winters night, a group of us were hanging out, drinking and playing music. Eventually my friends Arthur Dingle and Dave Pakula left and it was just me and Sharon sitting there drinking beer at 10pm. Sharon was Arthur's on-again/off-again girlfriend and I knew her pretty well. She was smart but had a troubled past. She had come from a broken home (her dentist father had run off with his dental hygienist) and left her and her mother high and dry. There were scares from that breakup as well as some other trauma that had never really healed.

I don't recall what started the conversation, but Sharon and I ended up talking. As we sipped Henry Winehard's beer, 'The Clash' and 'Joni Mitchell' were playing on the stereo. We slumped in the old tattered sofa and chatted away. I don't recall what we talked about specifically, but I recall that we talked for hours. Through 10 or 12 beers and well into the wee hours of the morning. We discussed all those things that we were passionate about. We spoke of the things that troubled us and we railed against the injustice of the world and the things we all needed to do in order to right those wrongs.

The discussions became so passionate that we resorted to taking notes while the other one spoke so we wouldn't interrupt each other's train of thought. We would stop talking and jot down points and counterpoints while one of us got up for more chips from the kitchen or went to the bathroom. It was a marathon of mental sparing where both of our brains were emptied of knowledge and stress. I learned more about a woman's point of view that evening that I had in my prior 20 years of living.

By the time exhaustion finally started to take hold, it was close to 3am in the morning. I bundled up and walked back to my apartment in the midnight drizzle. As I shuffled home in the darkness my mind had never felt so alive. Someone had actually listened to me and vice versa. I had held my ground, modified my views and saw the world in a much different light . I loved it, and I wanted to do it again. I wanted to learn. Not from books or in a classroom. I wanted to learn from others. To understand what they felt and what they had been through. I wanted their different perspectives.

It was this sort of interaction that I sorely missed when I left college. After that golden time in academia, I found that the rest of the world just wanted to make money and collect toys. My ability to find those that I could relate to and learn from decreased over time. After many years of trying to find others that were looking for the same stimulus that I was, I started blogging. After searching through a lot of blogs that were less than interesting, I started to find the diamonds in the rough. Those that cried out in the Internet wilderness about their lives, their loves and their frustrations that make up this comedy called the human experience.

Several years after we had all scattered from Oregon State University, I got a letter from Arthur Dingle. He wrote that Sharon had committed suicide. I guess the demons that haunted her from her childhood finally caught up with her. I know that if she was still with us, she would be blogging......and she would have been a damn good blogger.

My wife recently asked me how will we know we made a difference in this life. How will we know we have done something that was good and noble. I told her that we just have to keep trying and that the smallest 'good' deed will make ripples like a peeble cast into an ocean....and the smallest ripples can become a mighty swell far beyond the horizon. Sharon cast a peeble back on that cold night in Oregon and it continues to ripple across the ocean of our lives...long after Sharon was gone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pushing The Limit

A Little Status Update

Things have been busy in and around the old Hypocrisy Blog. So much so, that I have not been reading some of my fellow bloggers in as timely a manner as I have in the past. Rest assured, I will keep up, but it might take me a while.

Since the 'upgrade' of my blog several weeks ago and with the worsening economic situation in the country, I have been kept much busier at my job since there are less of us here to do more work. Social welfare cases usually sky-rocket in hard times and conversely, governments always cut social work staff in hard times. Those that are left often end up pulling double duty just to keep their jobs.

So in order to keep my head above water, I am going to limit the number of other blogs that I follow. This isn't big deal, since I have always kept the number of blogs in my 'blogroll' at a relatively static level. There are about 30 of them over there on the right and I realistically can't follow more than that. If someone stumbles across my blog and leaves a comment, I will definitely check them out and if I find them interesting, I might start following them. But for those of you that have made it onto my blogroll, you are within the inner sanctum and you are golden.

For those of you 'lurkers' that come here (and you KNOW who you are) you should really check out some of the blogs on the blogroll.

Slyde, Earl, Krista, Meghan, Princess, Maureen and Mrs. Hall (to name a few) will give you an interesting slant on life in general and make you realize that you are not the only one that thinks the way you do. This shit happens to all of us.

On other fronts, I have been tinkering with and updating most of my other work on the net which you may not have noticed recently. The dedicated readers that follow "The Alternate View", know that my camera phone never ceases to find interesting things in my world to document.

If you have not checked out "The Project Blog" yet, you should. It documents all the things that fill up my weekend to the limit. By documenting what I do, it gives me some satisfaction to actually realize that I AM getting something done.

I have been updating and flushing out the "Focal Plane" photo blog over at Go-Daddy. This will be the repository for my black & white film that I shoot and develop. Now that I have my Speed Graphic refurbished with a new lens (look for that to be documented on "The Project Blog" in the near future) I hope to be finally hitting my stride in the dark room.

The wife and I will be heading down to Mexico this weekend with the new addition to our family (our Great Dane Chella) for some much needed R&R and to hopefully see (and photograph) 120lbs of dog frolicking in the surf. Hope to see you all next week with stories and pictures from south of the border.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We Are Not Normal

Sue & Chella

Finding your soul mate in this life never really turns out the way you think it will. Most women probably envision their soul mate as some guy like Brad Pitt. Most men probably think of Pamela Anderson (if you have low standards), or Julie Roberts (if you have higher standards), or Angelina Jolie (if you are just strange). But in the end, the person you were meant to be with for the rest of your life is usually someone that you never expected.

Case In Point #1) About a week ago, my wife was working in her office and was having a really hard time seeing. She isn't one of those people that likes to go to the doctor and will usually suffer through intolerable pain before finally submitting to the Emergency Room. So the fact that her far vision had deteriorated down to nothing wasn't something that she was going to deal with until she waited at least a couple of weeks. The fact that she was getting constant headaches and really couldn't drive weren't enough of a reason to head to the optometrist.

She put up with this malady for about a week. The possibilities were ocular degeneration, or a tumor on her eyeball, or her glasses might need new prescriptions. Finally last Thursday, my mother was giving her a ride to work, because she just could see well enough to operate the car. While driving my wife to work, mother looked over at her and asked the obvious question.

"Where is the left lens for your glasses?"

My wife raised her finger, and sure enough, the left lens for her eye glasses was missing. She had been wearing her glasses in this condition for almost a week. Hence the vision problem. She was only seeing clearly through one eye.

Case In Point #2) My teeth are reaching the end of their serviceable lifespan. But thanks to modern dentistry, I can pretty much get a new one cemented to my old roots as soon as the old ones start to shatter. Such was the case last month, when I had the second in a series of crowns put on one of my molars. Not a big deal. The dentist drilled down the tooth and put on a temporary crown and I would come back on 3 weeks for the permanent one. Two day later the temporary popped off and I went back to have it re-cemented. Then, two days later it popped off again. "Screw it", I thought. I will just wedge it in there until I am ready for the permanent one. The tooth didn't hurt so I just popped it out when I ate something, brushed me teeth and wedged the temporary back in when I was done. Worked just find, until 4 days ago.

I had popped out the temporary crown and placed it on the arm of the sofa while I wolfed down some steak and potato's that my wife is so good at making. I got up to put the dishes in the sink and get our standard after dinner desert, a Klondike Bar. When I returned to the sofa, my tooth was gone and there sat our 8 month old Pit-bull / Boxer / Dalmatian puppy licking his lips.

"Son of a Bitch", (I meant it literally).

The damn dog ate my tooth. I have been crown-less ever since. When my wife stopped laughing she advised that I could probably dig it out of his droppings the next day. I told ole "One Lens" that there was no way that crown was going back in my mouth.

Case In Point #3) We have two dogs. Bacchus, the Chow-Chow / Lundhound mix who is the perfect dog, and Maximus the 'son of a bitch'. Both are medium size 50lb dogs. Both were abandoned in our neighborhood as puppies and we took them in as our adopted children.

Then about 3 months ago the wife and I started batting around the idea of getting a big dog. Both of us had always wanted on, but we had never had the resources (a big back yard) or the free time to own one. Since our new house boarders a large park and since we have no children to care for we figured it was either now or never. So when a fully grown Great Dane was put up for adoptions in our neighborhood newsletter we just had to go take a look at her.

Well, one thing led to another and the result is that the dog in the above picture now lives with us. Her name is Chella, a full grown, pure bred, Great Dane, 120lbs and 3 foot tall at the head. She could swallow an eyeglass lens and temporary crown and not even realize it.

Most of our friends and relatives think we are crazy. They are mostly right. The soul mate that you eventually find in life usually has to be as crazy as you are. That is what makes it work.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dancing With the Dumped Bachelorette Gold-Digger

The Age Of Manufactured Drama

Whenever I write one of these blogs, one of the things I try to keep in mind is timeless relevance. I don't want to try and write a piece of how much I like my new car or my favorite TV show, because I know there is the possibility that someone will come along in 10 years and read this and wonder, 'what the heck was this guy talking about?'.

However, this might be an exception to that rule. Last night the wife and I watched the opening episode of ABC's "Dancing With The Stars". We have watched this show ever since my wife and I took tango lessons about 3 years ago. Trust me folks, ballroom dancing is NOT easy. So since we sort of considered ourselves arm-chair experts, this show had a certain charm. Although, I have to admit that it was getting a bit long in the tooth after last year and I hadn't planned on watching it this year.

Fast forward to last week, and I read online that two of the 'stars' had been injured in training and they would have to find two replacements pronto. So I was curious who they were going to be.

The rumor was that one of them was going to be Melissa from the final episode of "The Bachelor” that just wrapped up last week. Sure enough, half-way through the two hour opening special, they announced that she would be competing with only 5 days of practice.

Now for the unknowing who read this in 10 years, this is the culmination of a long, long soap opera that has been unfolding for the past 3 years on ABC. Let me give the time line of events that lead up to last night:


"The Bachelor" - Season 11: Brad Womack chooses neither Deanna Pappas or Jenni Croft on the last episode of the reality TV show, "The Bachelor". (He basically wimps out and fails to launch.)

One of the rejected Bachelorettes, Deanna Pappas is chosen for the following season of "The Bachelorette".

On "The Bachelorette" - Season 4, Deanna Pappas, rejects Jason Resnick at the end of the show for Jesse Csincsak, a snow boarder.

Jason Resnick is selected as the next bachelor on the following season of "The Bachelor".

On "The Bachelor" - Season 13, Jason ends up choosing Melissa Rycroft as his fiancé over Molly Malaney, with some misgivings (and a lot of crying on the part of Jason), not to mention a SURPRISE appearance by Deanna Pappas!

On the rap-up show for "The Bachelor", Jason dumps Melissa on national TV and races back to Molly, supposedly because Melissa turned out to be a bitch.

Then last night, only a week after being dumped on National TV, Melissa is brought back as the replacement for an injured contestant on "Dancing With The Stars" - Season 8.


This whole affair spans more than 3 years of television and 3 different television shows.

I believe that this signals the end of the gestation period and gives birth to a new genre of television program. The manufactured real life drama. In the olden days (Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire, Big Brother and Survivor), the concept was one of voyeurism and competition as would-be reality stars usually pursued the goal of wealth. At that point, reality shows could be seen as the culmination of the 'Game Show' genre on television.

But it has now morphed into something different. The 'players' on Survivor aren't playing so much for the million dollars at the end, as much as they are creating drama and intrigue in their interactions during the show. The more drama you create, the more likely you will be invited back to be on a follow up "All Star Show".

Now, with "The Bachelor / Dancing With The Stars" tie-in, you have rejections / redemption / drama and suspense all rolled into one theme that spans seasons AND shows on the same network.

We are watching characters that we are supposed to believe are just like you and me (we all take candle lite baths with a camera crew, sound man, makeup artist and director in attendance). The 'contestants are put through trails and tests and either end up living the fairy tale or being shot down in flames, over seasons if not decades on television. It is almost a serialized version of the film "The Truman Show" come to life.

I fully expect to see Diana Pappas, Brad Womack and maybe even Jason Resnick in the studio audience this season just to add some more spice to this whole bizarre Tolstoy-like saga.

I have little doubt that Melissa is going to go far in the competition, and if she actually wins, ooooo baby.....she could then become the Dancing With The Stars champion Bachelorette for the 2011 season of "The Bachelorette". This saga may never end.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Good Housekeeping

Urban Bliss Without The Prozac

I was reading Blog Voyeur Turned Blog Whore's recollections about her relationship with 'Travis'. A MUST read for any man and most women as well. It is hilarious, and it got me thinking about the roles of woman and what they expect from today's society. I then read a posting by another friend of mine on FaceBook and it sort of created the perfect storm.

Attached are two excepts from publications in the late 1950s and early 1960s regarding the role of women in society and what they could expect as young girls growing up. To say that they would be considered politically incorrect would be an understatement these days.

Housekeeping Monthly, May 13, 1955

The Good Wife's guide:

1) Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

2) Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. he has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

3) Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

4) Clear away the clutter. make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc, and then run a dust cloth over the tables. Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

5) Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

6) Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

7) Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, that his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

8) Make the evening his. Never complain if the comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax. Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility, where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

9) Don't greet him with complaints and problems. Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

10) Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

11) Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

12) A good wife always knows her place.


Excerpt from Sex Education Textbook, Great Britain, circa 1960:

When retiring to the bedroom, prepare yourself for bed as promptly as possible. Whilst feminine hygiene is of the utmost importance, your tired husband does not want to queue for the bathroom, as he would have to do for his train. But remember to look your best when going to bed.

Try to achieve a look that is welcoming without being obvious. If you need to apply face-cream or hair-rollers wait until he is asleep as this can be shocking to a man last thing at night. When it comes to the possibility of intimate relations with your husband it is important to remember your marriage vows and in particular your commitment to obey him. If he feels that he needs to sleep immediately then so be it. In all things be led by your husband's wishes; do not pressure him in any way to stimulate intimacy. Should your husband suggest congress then agree humbly all the while being mindful that a man's satisfaction is more important than a woman's When he reaches his moment of fulfilment, a small moan from yourself is encouraging to him and quite sufficient to indicate any enjoyment that you may have had.

Should your husband suggest any of the more unusual practices, be obedient and uncomplaining but register any reluctance by remaining silent. It is likely that your husband will then fall promptly asleep so adjust your clothing, freshen up and apply your night time face and hair care products. You may then set the alarm so that you can arise shortly before him in the morning. This will enable you to have his morning cup of teas ready when he awakes.


After reading these I can imagine that most 'modern' woman would find this sort of institutionalized subjugation appalling. That is certainly the idea that has been planted in my head from growing up in the 70s and 80s. These articles basically state that a woman's roll is nothing but subservience with no hope of individual growth or advancement.

However, I have learned that women also have a dark little secret. A secret often times only whispered in the Lady's Room or at Baby Showers. Almost all of them crave the life outlined in these guides. A simple life of home and hearth, with no worry about money, or bills, or commuting or co-workers. A life of attention and adoration, of simple gifts and security.

To bad that as a society we took a wrong turn somewhere back in the late 1960s, and we lost our way. Of the women I know that do practice this lifestyle, they appear to be surprisingly happy. As for the divorced women with custody of 2 children that has to work outside the home for a living and dreams of cabana boys and a owning her own condo.....they appear absolutely miserable.

Friday, March 6, 2009

First Friday Flashback

Reposting some of my older work, because it is just THAT good!

The American Journey
(originally published on 8/26/2005)

(thoughts that played through my head on my recent trip up north, all pictures taken along Interstate 17 and Interstate 40 with my PalmPilot)

Every once in a while my employer sees fit to yank me form my desk and throw me up into the wild reaches of Arizona to handle some business because we can't retain staff to do it.

I don't mind these long trips, because they give me time to think and reflect on a lot of things.

I-17 North from Phoenix

The American Journey isn't just one from point A to point B. It is a journey of understanding and figuring things out. How our views change over time and from location to location based on our experiences and what we have learned.

Sedona Near Flagstaff

I don't know a lot of conservatives that were not liberals at one point in their lives and vice versa. Folks that were conservative and now throw caution to the wind. Their journeys brought about these changes.

Cabin in the Sky

I chuckle at how much the youth of today can't wait to get off the 'farm' and make it to the big city where anything goes and they can party all they want. Only to find out that by the time they have grown up, had kids, taken out a second mortgage and fixed their car for the 18th time that what they REALLY want is to go back to that rural lifestyle that they longed to escape from so many years before.


These cars were once shiny and new, speeding down what was then Route 66 in a country that was affluent, run by old white men, where Coke had real sugar and there was no HIV or Ebola. Those days, like these cars, are gone, transformed by the journey.


Yet, in their decay, there is a certain beauty to them. They undergo the slow transition back to the minerals from which they were forged. Like the delicate bones of some pre-historic creature momentarily exposed by the wind before being covered up again.

Gas Pumps

Once these silent sentinels pumped petrol for .29 cents a gallon. Now, in the shadow of the speeding semi-trucks on Interstate 40, they stand as tombstones for the coming end of the petroleum age. More mile-post markers on the journey.

Fallen Dreams

In a way, the land is littered with the graveyards of our past. Those things that we held so dear (or were told to hold so dear) but have become obsolete because something new and better came along. But were they really better? Did we really 'need' them? Figuring that out is one of the purposes of the journey.

Cloud Ruins

In the end, the journey teaches us that many of the dreams we had were not our own. We followed road signs that told of us great destinations, lands of milk and honey, with things that were newer, cheaper, better. But when we got there we found that none of it was true. The signs were not put there for our benefit, but for the benefit of others, to lead us to them.

Empty Rooms

Some say that we should make our own signs and leave our own trails to follow, and not follow in the footsteps of others. But the insecurity that is inherent in all our lives holds us back. The older we get, the more we lose that insecurity and the more we finally realize how important it is to blaze those trails, but often we also realize that we have lost the vigor of youth.

Window Ruins

These are the thoughts that continually run through my head while taking these long journeys for my employer. A good use of the State's money, I must admit. In their never ending goal of finding new and inefficient ways of doing things with the taxpayers hard earned cash, they offer me the time and the distance to gage the journey and in so doing, show me just how far off course I am sometimes.

Desert Tower

As I stopped at many of these old places along Interstate 40, I saw all those old days, those slower days. This highway parallels the old Route 66 and it is still visible in many sections. I walked some of it to take these pictures. The mother road had a lot to tell if you just stood still long enough and listened.

I-40 Train

How many journeys? How many lives were changed by the wheels passing over this broken asphalt? A million miles, a million miles.

I-40 Windows

I hope the journey never ends; I still have so much to learn.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Essential Cinema - 44

To Live And Die In L.A.

William Petersen... Richard Chance (as William L. Petersen)
Willem Dafoe... Eric 'Rick' Masters
John Pankow... John Vukovich
Debra Feuer... Bianca Torres
John Turturro... Carl Cody
Darlanne Fluegel... Ruth Lanier
Dean Stockwell... Bob Grimes

William Friedkin

Gerald Petievich (novel)
William Friedkin (screenplay) &
Gerald Petievich (screenplay)

Robby Müller (director of photography) (as Robby Muller)

A secret service agent will stop at nothing to take down the counterfeiter that murdered his former partner.

Obsessions are not good things, because there is always someone else that has more of an obsession than you do. With that in mind, you really can't trust anyone.

There were two films that came out during my teen years that had a sort of mystic about them. One was "Solyent Green" in which Charlton Heston fights a battle to expose a government run fast food franchise as corporate cannibalism, and the other was "To Live And Die In L.A." This film was controversial, because it basically shows the viewer how to counterfeit money. There is a scene that is almost a tutorial on how to do it early on in the film. McDonald's didn't really care to have fast food portrayed as cannibalism and the Federal Government wasn't to happy about teaching people how to make fake money. Ergo, these two films were somewhat 'suppressed' and not easy to find at Blockbuster or Hollywood Video.

Now that money has changed and is much harder to duplicate outside a U.S. Mint, this film doesn't quite have the aura of taboo that it once had. This is a bad-boy police drama in the genre of Miami Vice, with all the trappings of the 80s. Big hair, loud clothes and a gritty urban realism that shows society has run amok.

The cast of characters is interesting to watch. A very young William Peterson long before his stint on C.S.I. and a lecherous Dean Stockwell as an attorney for which the law is only a matter of making money regardless of the legality. The standout in the cast is Willem DeFoe, whose artistic and tortured counterfeiter is edgy, manic, manipulative and cunning. The role of John Turturro as a mule captured by the Feds is interesting to watch but does nothing for the plot, which had me somewhat puzzled.

The cinematography and music in this film are good if not a bit dated by today's standards. This film is a period piece today although it was not meant to be when it was shot. L.A. is painted as a dirty, chaotic jungle that is urban and industrial with little nature or beauty. After watching the film I was humming the songs by Wang Chung for the next 2 days. It is infectious music and adds considerably to the look and feel of the film.

In the end, the one good cop in the film comes to realize that everyone is using everyone else for their own personal gain, and succumbs to the addiction as well. Not a very uplifting film in the end, but entertaining to watch, since you have no idea where it is going until it is over.

Clicking here will take you to a listing of all the "Essential Cinema" reviews in my Blog.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The American Dream

How Much Is Enough?

On my other blog, The Alternate View I recently posted a picture that I took with my cellphone. This picture was taken during halftime at this years Super Bowl game. My wife and I were somewhat stuffed by the time half-time rolled around, so we deceided to take a walk around the neighborhood.

Bare in mind, this isn't our neighborhood. We were attending a Super Bowl party at a friends house who lives way out on the west side of town. They live in what we call the 'sea of sameness'. These are very large tract homes, all with the same floor plan (often rotated to make them look different), all with the same construction and all with the same color. Neighborhoods like this have 'Home Owner Associations' (HOA) that govern the look of the houses. There are no city ordinances or oversite in these communities. Each neighorhood is incorporated and has a 'Board' that oversees the 'status' of the hood. The cities take your tax dollars out here, but they give you very little in return except for limited water and police protection.

While we were walking through the neighborhood, we were counting the number of abandoned homes that appeared vacant. We counted about 4 of them on the block. Most of these owners had just 'walked away' from the properties, with no 'For Sale' sign or attempt to even sell the house.

You see, this is ground zero for the housing crisis. Most of these homes sold for over $500,000 just 2 years ago. Now it is estimated that most are sold at auction by the banks for around $200,000. They are all over 2,000 square feet with 3 car garages, xerascaping (no water landscaping) and there is about 5 feet between each house. They all have pools and are all constructed of wood, particle board (thick cardboard) and plaster. They all have red tile roofs.

It was on this walk that I snapped this picture. If you click on the picture above you can go to the The Alternate View and see the full resolution version. I had forgotten about it until it came up for rotation on The Alternate View. Looking at it now, I sort of wonder and chuckle. How the hell did we get here as a society?

The image pretty much screams wretched excess. Matching his and hers Hummers, sitting in front of a three car garage that is probably stuffed with more cars or worse yet, jet skis and quad-runners. A house that is large enough to house 10 people in the third world, comfortably, is probably occupied by no more than than a husband, wife and 2 children.

Where did we get it into our head that we needed this? Even worse, where did we get the notion that it is a good idea to go into debt to have it all? If someone marketed some really cool razorblades that were custom designed to slit your wrist....because that is what all the Hollywood Stars are doing to lose weight, would we all be running out to Walgreens to buy them so we could open up our viens? Or would we stop and think for a minute and realize that this is crazy? The answer appears to be no. We would buy the razorblades.

Sorry for the rant, but after all, this blog is called "Hypocrisy".