Saturday, January 12, 2008
In my youth, I spent idle hours endlessly sketching images of futuristic buildings, and toyed with the idea of becoming an architect one day.
For various reasons, that childhood fantasy did not pan out. However, I have continued to follow the visionaries in the field, who have continued to shape a world filled with exciting possibilities.
For a while, Frank Gehry was tops in my books.
In the early stages of his career, Gehry created a handful of unique homes for celebrity clients which tended to be junky - and at times - over-designed.
In contrast, his designs on a grand scale were "clean" and innovative, and put him on the fast track to becoming one of leading architects in the world.
In recent days, Zaha Hadid has captured my imagination.
The Iraq-born Brit (who heads up a firm that employs about 170 people) is currently designing a Museum in Rome, an Opera House in China, and another skyscraper in Dubai.
Her remarkable offerings are influenced by modern movements in Art such as cubism, futurism, and constructivism.
At times, the buildings appear to jut out, reminding one of a three-dimensional work of art. Other structures are much more organic in nature and appear to be molded into the terrain. At times, the buildings give the impression that they are breathing, moving, and in transition.
Her most well-known assignment to date has been the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati Ohio; a landmark commission, because it was the first American Museum to be designed by a woman.
In 2004, she was also the first of the female gender to also win a Pritzker Architectural Prize.
Exhibitions - like those at the Design Museum in London - have showcased a body of work which includes - painting, sketches, models, furniture, and decorative objects. In the process, the shows have introduced her to an adoring public, fascinated by her bold, unique, innovative designs.
Clearly, there is no looking back for this remarkable woman!
Friday, January 11, 2008
The first Mavericks surf contest in over twenty-three months is slated for Saturday January 12th at Princeton by-the-Sea in Half Moon Bay.
Last year's event was cancelled much to the chagrin of surf enthusiasts.
Jeff Clark, director of this year's event, gave the go-ahead Thursday after ideal weather conditions were met - at which point - surfers around the country jumped for joy; then, steered their delicious souped-up jalopies that-a-way to Half Moon Bay to catch the big waves come Saturday.
One surfer, resident Grant Washburn of San Francisco, excitedly noted that "...as a wave it's probably the one to measure against."
Storms in recent weeks have brought incredible swells to Bay area surf spots and beyond. In fact, waves with thirty-foot faces are expected to wash over twenty-four of the world's best most water-agile athletes. To some, it's the "Super Bowl" of surfing.
According to contest rules, the Surfers will paddle into the waves in a series of heats that could conceivably last up to seven or eight hours.
The winning Moon doggie nabs $30,000 of a $75,000 prize pool - and, with it - a bevy of product endorsements, no doubt.
The President and CEO of the Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau noted that the event would bring in much-needed revenue into the local economy.
Also, she underscored that she was happy to report that various initiatives in place this year to protect the environment have resulted in significant changes to ensure the safety of the natural wildlife community.
In previous years, overzealous contestants and onlookers trampled native plants and wildlife in the area basin, much to the dismay of the locals. However, due to the deliberate conscientious efforts of the organizers, it is doubtful this will occur again.
However, in spite of these kinds of potential problems, the organizers have expanded the sight-seeing areas. Notwithstanding, fans may still require binoculars for close-up catch-all views.
Sure, there are pricey boat cruises available for the true adventurer; but, due to the escalating costs many may be inclined to go for a precise bird's-eye view in front of a computer via the free live webcast that's being offered up.
If you want to be part of roar of the crowd, then take a jaunt down to AT & T Park where you can catch the action for $20.00 a pop on the stadium's 30 by 30 foot high-definition jumbo screen. Sure to get your juices flowin'.
Of course, there will be a big beer bust with in-and-out privileges, too.
So, party hearty, eh?
Webcast shown at: myspace.com/maverickssurf
Apparently, Barry Manilow woke up one morning to find himself "broke".
His financial advisers either mismanaged his money or simply ran off with it.
Sadly, Mr. Manilow was forced to return to "work".
Before you could say "Memories" the 70's pop star landed a gig headlining in Las Vegas. Now, he's taking his fans on a trip down nostalgia lane.
As I surfed the TV by remote last night, I caught a promo for a new album slated for release to coincide with his current sell-out concerts on the glitzy strip.
There he was doing a kind of cha-cha down a catwalk, occasionally hopping into the packed audience to give a big hug to a fan or kiss the air suggestively near a chubby cheek.
Ah, Manilow magic is thriving in the new millennium.
Is it me, or does Mr. Manilow look a lot like Ellen DeGeneres these days?
I am so glad he didn't go the Elvis route with the flashy threads, a larger than life persona, and carnival-like gimmicks. On this occasion, the diminutive crooner was attired in a classy dress jacket (with a slight sheen to it, which I warmed up to right away) with an open-collared shirt in midnight blue and chic tailored slacks.
No jewelery, though. Did his financial handlers run off with that, too?
Just as I started to wonder what-in-the-heck happened to COPACABANA, he announced to the audience how proud he was of the "new arrangement" which was crafted for an album due to be released.
Barrie, it's God awful. Don't tamper with success, please.
Even still, Manilow has come a long way since the Continental Baths (male bath house) where he first played the ivories in New York as a back-up pianist for legendary Bette Midler.
I wonder how he managed to remain focused on the sheet music - what with all those hot muscular dudes traipsing in and out of the steam room - every five minutes or so.
In the early seventies an old friend - Jeffrey Jones (I knew him when he was just emoting one-liners in high-brow Shakespearean productions, before he played the role of the principal in the comedy "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", and long before his sex scandal hit the tabloids a couple of years ago) invited me to attend a Midler concert at the Palace in New York.
At one juncture, Bette interrupted the show a beat to introduce her back-up pianist, Barry Manilow.
"He's going to be big one day. He's so talented," chirped Bette with a lot of enthusiasm.
Then, with her blessing, he proceeded to show off his stuff in a mini-performance. For the most part, he played a handful of jingles he wrote for TV commercials, and a tune or two he'd written for a couple of name performers.
A few years later, he stepped out of the background, and the rest is music history!
Yes, he's come a long way since the Continental Baths.
By the way, has he come out yet?
I noticed in the clip on the Arts Channel that Mr. Manilow was wearing earplugs. I wonder, were the lyrics being piped in for him to follow?
Personally, I found his distorted facial expressions distracting when the camera panned in, not flattering at all. Also, it was apparent from the way he was stretching the muscles in his neck - and vigorously working his lower jaw - that he was not using his vocal chords correctly.
Understandably, he was incapable of hitting the high notes.
Yes, all that can be sweetened in the studio. But - in a live performance - it's painfully obvious that Manilow is a mediocre singer with limited vocal range.
However, his tunes - although a bit mushy and smacking of sickening-sweet sentimentality that turns a stomach on occasion - are catchy. The memorable melodies have a way of lingering, too; the sure sign of a "hit".
Keep pluggin' away, Barry - you'll turn up another winner, yet.
But, please drop the "new arrangements".
In the final analysis the song stylings are deadly - and sure to kill your career - not revive it.
On a mission to the Middle East this week, in a bold-faced effort to engage in meaningful talks with Foreign leaders, George Bush responded to questions about checkpoint issues and a continuous State, with the following comment,
"Swiss Cheese is not going to work."
How about American cheddar?
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I was strolling along Market Street yesterday when I spotted a quaint little art gallery showcasing a handful of artists' work.
After stepping inside, I was enlightened of the fact that it was an exhibition sponsored by the SPCA - "Nothing but Dogs and Cats".
Indeed, all the paintings, sketches, and drawings - at affordable prices - are based on this main theme.
The show came about due to a collaboration between the Market Street Gallery, MesArt.com, and The San Francisco SPCA.
Featured artists include...Linda Lee Boyd, Robert Brokl, Sylvia Buettner, Gabriele Bungardt, Art Hazelwood, Peggy Jane Murray, and Sarah Young.
"Nothing but Cats and Dogs," marks the first fundraising event of the 140th Year of The San Francisco SPCA, a nonprofit animal welfare organization.
"We are delighted and grateful that the "Nothing But Dogs and Cats" art exhibit will help save the lives of the real dogs and cats at our shelter," said Jan McHugh-Smith, President of The SF/SPCA.
Every year, The SF/SPCA finds homes for thousands of homeless cats and dogs.
Animals awaiting adoption, live in a cozy homelike setting, where they receive top quality medical care, socialization, exercise and training.
This show is "very exciting for me" says Ron Newman, owner of Market Street Gallery, because "it brings together the opportunity to show great art and make a contribution to the welfare of the many needy animals that walk the streets of San Francisco and eventually end up in the care of The SF/SPCA".
Mr. Newman, a cat lover, is donating twenty-five percent of the proceeds of sales from the show to The SF/SPCA.
MesArt.com, an on-line art hosting business, is also working with the San Francisco SF/SPCA to promote the "Nothing But Dogs and Cats" show.
Tatiana Lyskova, Managing Director of MesArt.com, enthusiastically notes they, "...not only support artists but also the community".
The gala opening is Friday January 11, between the hours of 6-9 PM.
Aside from artworks, the event will feature live animals ready for adoption.
The SF/SPCA will also gladly accept donations at tomorrow night's opening, so bring along your checkbook, or cash in hand!
Well, jovial Ron Paul - with all the bedside manner of a country doctor - has been poppin' up on the boob tube, here and there, over the past couple of days expounding his - um - views.
On the Tonight Show the other night, Jay noted that the reason he invited Paul on as a guest, was due to an incident which occurred in recent days.
"Seems to me, you should be kicking some a**," Leno joked.
Of course, as Joe Public is undoubtedly aware, Fox TV snubbed Mr. Paul when they refused to allow him to participate in the Republican debates this past weekend.
An irate caller, on a popular talk show angrily lamented, "...it's the fault of the mainstream media. They always ignore Mr. Paul."
I'll admit, few outlets reported the news of the rejection at Fox, in spite of the fact it was newsworthy.
So, protesters gathered outside Fox, to stand by their man.
"Fox said it was because the table wasn't big enough," one angry supported snarled, then he gave a look into the camera, as if to say, "...and, I was born yesterday."
Surely, if Fox was unable to afford adequate furnishings for the debate, Mr. Paul and his generous supporters would have coughed up some dough for a custom-made conference table, capable of accommodating all the candidates interested in participating.
When Leno asked - "Why the rejection?" - at first, Mr. Paul shrugged.
Heh, the man's a gentleman; it's doubtful he'd sling mud, right?
With a little coaxing and cajoling from Leno, he relented - alleging in the final analysis - that it was because his views opposed "theirs".
"They're supporting another party," he grinned, with a wink to the audience.
Well, at this juncture, I guess it's time for me to step up to the plate!
This past summer, I penned a blog, which was featured on a Fox TV Web site for the filmmakers' TV reality show, "On the Lot".
Daily, I took potshots at all the candidates; after all, each was fair game to me.
In spite of my vitriolic barbs, aimed at their candidates, no "giant hand" ever stretched down from on high at the corporate offices to silence me, nor was there any attempt by management at the TV Station, to throw a monkey-wrench into my blog postings, or censor my material.
Who knows, maybe Rupert Murdoch just likes me?
Some argue that Fox rejected Paul because his views are too controversial, too dangerous. Is that it, then?
Well, he does allege the "Shaw of Iran" was put into power by the CIA.
And, the underdog candidate argues that the reason terrorists are engaging in their violent, despicable acts, is easy to fathom. Huh?
In sum, Paul takes the simplistic position that, "Terrorists don't like the U.S. occupying their country." That's why they engage in terrorist acts, he alleges.
"Would the citizens of the United States like it if their country was occupied?"
But, his reasoning may be off the mark.
After all, I recall that Osama bin Laden has criticized the North American ethic, and also expressed his distaste for "consumer" consciousness and its excesses.
And, there is the issue of Allah.
I am inclined to concur from his stance, the very thought of our existence, has rankled bin Laden and his gang of extremists no end.
I am willing to bet that bin Laden perceives Americans as mere pests, a scourge upon the earth, to be exterminated!
In view of this, I am inclined to take the position that the extremists are a real threat, to be reckoned with.
Suicide bombers - for one - underscore the severity of the situation; the practice clearly establishes that the "enemy" has a completely different mindset which is dangerous.
Who do you know in Norh America that would strap a bomb on their body, and die for a cause - in the name of one God, country, Jesus, John Smith, Buddha, L. Ron Hubbard, or Mickey Mouse?
When asked what was wrong with U.S., Paul reacted without hesitation, "We're broke, and we're printing too much paper money".
Jay joked on the heels of this comment, "What's wrong with that?"
Well, it was evident at this point, that Mr. Leno is oblivious to the basics of economics, the function of the U.S Treasury, how inflation occurs, and why the dollar becomes devalued.
Curiously, when Leno asked the Republican candidate who he'd choose as a running mate, in the event he broke on through, he chortled, "Anyone who agrees with me!
At this point, he chastised his opponents, and their rant for "change".
"There would not be any need for war or change, if they read the Constitution and followed it," he opined, to loud cheers from the audience.
Good luck, on the campaign trail, Mr. Paul.
I wish it was all that easy.
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
I was channel surfing earlier today, when I stumbled on a TV show featuring a couple of local celebrities, and was aghast to spy more than one fashion faux pas!
In a column on menswear that I wrote for a daily newspaper - The Province - I often offered up tips so men grappling for the brass ring would have an advantage in the competitive world of business and commerce.
Since there appears to be a cry in the wilderness for help, here goes.
First, never wear a "Dress Suit" jacket with jeans; the look jars the sensibilities and often conjures up scorn from the top levels of management.
When you are properly suited up, take care of the finer points of dressing, too.
For instance, the tie should not be too long or too short; in fact, it should fall at waist level right at the "belt" line.
The cuff of your dress shirt should also fall crisply about 1/2 inch below the jacket sleeve. No more. No less.
To avoid looking like you came from the wrong side of the tracks, never press your dress pants with the hot iron directly on the fabric - otherwise - you'll end up with an unsightly shine in the pants. Tacky, and cheap-looking!
The cuff of your pant leg should break - just so - at the front of your dress shoe. For this reason, it may be wise to take the shoe you'll be wearing to the tailor when the cuff is hemmed to ensure precision in this regard.
Never wear a boutonniere and a pocket handkerchief at the same time because it is strictly verboten. Along the same line of thinking, please note that teaming up suspenders with a belt is considered redundant, so avoid it like a trendy fashion plague.
And, it would be wise to listen up in respect to shoes, too; never wear brown shoes with a black suit.
Also, be sure to ban white socks from a dress suit ensemble.
You'd be wise to take note that a boss often looks at your feet first as a test of character. If the shoes are properly buffed and shined - unscuffed and not broken down at the heels - you'll make your way up the corporate ladder faster than you can say "Donald Trump".
For sure, don't go overboard with any controlled clashing of patterns.
The quirky idea was a trend for a while, but generally, the rule of thumb is this: if you're not experienced with mixing and matching techniques, stick with one pattern and two plains.
For instance, if the tie is patterned, harmonize it with a plain jacket and a plain shirt so that the colors and textures offset the cravat.
However, if there is a pattern in the jacket (even if it is only due to a noticeable texture in the fabric such as ribbing in herringbone) go for a plain shirt.
Also, make sure the hues in the jacket and tie are complementary and the colors are coordinated and harmonized tastefully.
If you want to avoid another silly mistake, always take both pieces of the suit to the cleaners for drycleaning; otherwise, if one item is pressed more often than the other, it will fade and look unmatched and underscore your lack of fashion savvy.
By the way, it is generally uncouth to wear a sport jacket with blue jeans, unless the denims are brand new and neatly pressed. Only wear grungy jeans with a broken-in corduroy jacket - maybe with patches on the elbows, for instance - to effect that campus or devil-may-care Prof look.
Finally, only wear one or two pieces of understated tasteful pieces of jewellery, like a quality watch and ring. None on the pinky finger, please.
And, avoid walking into the room with the overpowering scent of bar soap or Old Spice emanating from your person.
The women (in some cases, even the guys) will run the other way.
Remember, it's style - not the clothes - that make the man!
Yesterday's schedule was hectic. Early in the day, I attended the Mayor's inaugural ceremony here in San Francisco, dashed off to draft a post, then proceeded to get all spruced up for a night on the town.
When a passer-by informed me that Clinton had nabbed the New Hampshire primary, I did a double-take. Say what?
The McCain win, on the other hand, was not a surprise.
Look, it's going to be a topsy-turvy Presidential Race right down to the wire, as evidenced by all the curious goings-on to date.
The win by Huckabee in Iowa caused pundits to cry out - What the Huck? - and sit up and take notice of the guy whose political career was in the dumpster just a scant few months ago.
And, Hillary's 3rd place show at the Caucus in Iowa had 'em writing her off with a footnote, "The Clinton Dynasty is dead".
Late into the wee hours last night, theories were bandied about over the latest upheaval. Maybe the turnout was not there, one theorized. No, the records reflected otherwise.
Another suggested it may have been a case of dishonesty. Perhaps a sector of voters was swearing allegiance to Obama’s face, but in the back rooms of the polling stations, was doing an about-face?
In the privacy of the ballot booth, was it difficult to cast a vote for a Black man?
Months ago I predicted - bottom line - that no matter what voters said in the bright light of day, they'd vote "their way" in the final analysis.
For example, women would vote for Hillary, since they wanted to see one of "their own" in the Oval office. And, Blacks would vote for Obama, for the same self-serving reason. The Caucasian male? Well, he would probably cast a ballot for the strongest white candidate on the short list favored to win, on either side of the fence.
Just may be true!
Of course, there is the McCain factor...did he steal independent votes originally promised to the Obama pool?
With Ron Paul winning ten percent of the vote - a gain for the mild and meek Texan - undoubtedly, precious votes were snatched up from Obama in this scenario, too.
Then, there was the "moment" or the "episode" - call it what you will - the nano-second melt-down of Hillary. That attention-getter may have brought about a "change" alright: for the first time in decades, voters were privy to a private moment in which she revealed - unabashedly - how human, and down-to-earth, she really is?
In response, the American public cast a sympathy vote in support - albeit, a hasty, emotional one.
Unlike William Kristol, I don't believe the tears were manufactured, at all.
I've been critiquing enough movies over the years to figure out when a ham is on the stage.
Just as Huckabee and Obama had their day in the sun, now Hillary and McCain have a moment to bask in the glow.
But, hold onto your hats, there are more surprises on the horizon as the stakes get higher and campaign organizations - done testing the waters - push on with new vigor and determination in the race to the White House.
The next catch phrase?
"Don't ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
Hillary has a head start on that one in the eyes of the voters.
Clinton Kryptonite packs wallop!
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
The news release said Gavin Newsom's inauguration would be quite a "low-key" affair - compared to what - the Queen's Coronation?
As I sprinted up the front steps of the exquisitely-restored turn-of-the-century City Hall, I immediately encountered security engaged in extensive body searches at the door.
Meanwhile, San Francisco's Police Brass stood ramrod straight in dress blues at manned posts in strategic perches around the main foyer, keeping a watchful eye.
Right off the bat, I spied San Francisco "Royalty".
Dianne Feinstein was in one corner, being well-received by fawning constituents and friends.
The event was being held in the main hall - a plush setting - with rich royal blue carpets, elegant free-standing antique light fixtures, lush palms, and a raft of tasteful chairs trimmed in gold flake, which were artfully placed in a semi-circle around the podium.
Ushers were chaffing at the bit to seat special invited guests such as dignitaries, political cronies, and a couple of hundred of Newsom's closest facebook friends.
In the gallery, the citizenry chuckled and made jokes as they observed His Honor prior to show time - futzing about with the mics and podium - in a concerted effort to ensure his "moment in the sun" was just so.
I laughingly asked a press person next to me if the "swearing in ceremony" meant that his friends would get up and swear at him to lessen the blow of any attacks that may fly his way in the coming year.
"Yeah," he roared, "the rest will be all icing on the cake".
The press were in full attendance with all manner of electronic gadgets at their disposal.
The well-heeled elite were asked to be seated promptly at 11:30 a.m., and with little ado, the celebration commenced.
The young ladies in the all Girls Choir - slated to perform first - slipped into the hushed room in perfect choreographed step.
They looked smashing in matching red vests, and pleated skirts, with black sash flourishes at the waist.
Within minutes, they sang out in sweet glorious song.
On the other hand, when the Boys choir filed in next (smartly-attired in blue blazers, grey slacks, and rep ties) the line ended up in a curious slip-shod mess up front.
In a delightful, humorous moment, a boy here and there pitched in to align the others until the handful of clueless lads properly queued up; then, the conductor began.
Ava Maria was the perfect piece in view of the acoustics.
The voices soared up - touching each and every one in the packed house - the heartfelt moment reminiscent of young angels in flight.
About halfway through - a seasoned soloist joined in, conjuring up some depth and resonance to the awesome song and verse.
Unfortunately, the arrangement was uninspired, and somewhat pedestrian.
At one point - the theatricality of the moment urged that the choir raise its collective voice in eloquent song high above his - but they remained silent.
Ava ended on a predictable note; pleasing to the ear, but no cigar.
The "National Anthem" usually touches, but on this occasion, a lousy rendition signaled how tough it can be for songbirds to perform it. As the male vocalist struggled valiantly to breeze over the top notes - the audience winced - no doubt praying for a swift and successful conclusion.
The Reverend Stephen Privett, Jr. touched the hearts and minds of everyone in attendance when he poignantly recited a poem.
The "Master of Ceremonies" noted that for practical reasons the program sequence was being changed; after all, at the speed they were going, the Mayor would not be inaugurated by twelve noon.
So, Judge Newson instructed his son Gavin (the Mayor) to place his hand on the family Bible - at which point - he declared his Oath of Office with his two young children gazing on.
At long last, Gavin Newsom commenced with his speech.
Mr. Gavin is big on catch phrases and nifty slogans, and he offered up quite a few
One of my favorites?
"Find a way, to lead the way, in a unique way".
Also - the "Spirit of Civic Engagement" - had a nice ring to it, as well.
It was a dizzying task keeping up with all the Mayor's newly-formed connect-it-with-the-dots outreach efforts, and their hyped-up sister organizations, but many of the local were used to that.
All the programs were intended to keep the political machine in San Francisco humming efficiently on a day-to-day basis in the best interests of the "people".
Good plans he elaborated on, included a promise of carbon neutrality by the year 2010, which he argued was feasible. (applause)
Next, he assured that a clean-up of the Hunter Point shipyards was in the works, thanks to a-half-a billion dollars in assistance from Senator Feinstein to accomplish that end.
City Hall was also working towards a fleet with complete bio-diesel capacity.
And, Geo-thermal power was the next alternative energy source on the horizon that San Francisco intended to implement with good measure, he noted proudly.
Although he was glad to underscore that his Health Care Plan had already helped 7,932 individuals, he took the stance that this number was insufficient.
In the next few years, he hoped to expand its reach to 40,000.
At this point, the ebullient Mayor - clearly in his element - noted his intention to get out of the "Shelter Business".
"Shelters are a sleep business. We need to get out of that business."
After pointing out that the city had provided homes for 6,860 residents in the past year, he assured the avid listeners in the audience, that he intended to bolster the numbers in the future.
Housing 1st, an affordable housing plan, was the program to achieve it.
An intervention program was also underway to recognize early chronic users on the streets - with the ultimate aim of providing preventive health care - and much-needed guidance.
He was also proud to announce the opening of a spanking new "Command and Justice Center" to be headed up by the City attorney which will deal with Public Housing safety issues.
The city is also anxious to hire 250 new Police Officers to curb violence, provide free Wi-FI service to San Franciscans, and open up a Science and Technology Learning facility.
However, his plans for a guarantee of four years of education to eligible students at the State University - in exchange for community service - smacks of the one that Hillary Clinton proposed over the weekend in New Hampshire.
In addition - a "Baby Bonds" proposal echoed one that resulted in a ripple of ridicule for Hillary weeks ago - as well.
Don't they keep in touch on the cell, anymore?
He has a lot slated for his plate; after all, he's a real whiz kid with a great sales pitch.
But, does he have the wherewithal to pull it all off?
He does intend to draw on National experts in various fields of endeavour for assistance, so that the plans may be implemented successfully.
However, he's weaved such an intriguing web of bureaucracy (while throwing caution to the wind) that it's wholly possible he'll end up strangling himself and his administration with the exotic strands he's intricately woven near and far.
Only the truth will set him free, in that event.
Streamlined Public Transport to encourage commuters...
This morning I witnessed a disturbing event at a "Jack in the Box" fast food outlet at Mason and Geary in downtown San Francisco.
A homeless person, wrapped in a white blanket, was slumped over the counter in a quiet section of the restaurant.
One of the employees strode over to the destitute person and rudely shouted, "Heh, wake up. You have to get out. This is not a Hotel."
When the individual failed to move on, the employee threatened to call the Police.
Moments later, a warning message was blasted over the loudspeaker, advising that if the "person wrapped in the white blanket" did not exit immediately, the police would be called to deal with the problem.
Shortly after that, the person - who turned out to be a woman - glanced out the window in fear. When it was apparent that the police had failed to arrive at that juncture, she proceeded to sift through the trash bin...after locating some scraps of food, and scooping them up, she returned to her perch on a stool by the door.
Moments later when it was evident that the police were on the way, the woman scurried out of the outlet, and down the cold, wet street.
A police car squealed to a stop outside the front entrance moments later, and a couple of men in blue jumped out of their squad car with a bounce in their step. One officer jammed a long billy club into a loop on his belt, ready for action - I guess.
In the "Jack in the Box" take-out, the city's finest queried a couple of the customers as to the whereabouts of the homeless person. When one person noted she was seen entering the alley out back, they went off in hot pursuit.
What wrongful act had she committed?
Was it a crime to be homeless, or hungry, or in need of shelter from the worst storm to hit the West Coast in the past ten years?
Frankly, I thought the way the employees handled the situation amounted to rotten, mean-spirited, atrocious behavior.
It was bad enough to send the homeless person out into the cold without an act of charity - for example, a handful of food - but to insult her by making unnecessary comments like "This is not a Hotel", was outrageous and shocking conduct.
"Jack in the Box" is a successful company which has made millions from the public with their fast-food business. Would it be too much to ask that they give back to the community, for once? Perhaps they could provide a "homeless" assistance program with some of their profits - instead of insulting the needy - and ceremoniously turfing them into the streets with threat of arrest.
Curiously, this morning's paper noted that in an interview yesterday, Mayor Newsom admitted he had not done enough for the homeless this past year. Well, in view of what I witnessed this morning, there is no better time to address the issue.
Up until today, the Mayor has been silent on his proposals for the coming year.
At his inauguration today, let's hope he speaks up about the homeless issue, and backs his concerns with a bona fide program - with some teeth in it - to alleviate the problem and bring relief to the poor.
Margaret Cho once said,
"If we have the opportunity to be generous with our hearts, ourselves, we have no idea of the depth and breadth of love's reach."
In Buddhism, there is a term known as "Instant Enlightenment".
On occasion, an individual may be presented with a set of circumstances - on the street, in a waiting room - which require a direct response to set straight the equilibrium and return the status quo.
Usually, the problem pertains to a person and their inappropriate behavior.
"The subject in question may need to be "shaken" back into their senses and a shock is required to bring about the desired results," according to Buddhist teachers.
I've been handed the reins in a few such moments - and on those uplifting occasions - there was no need to think, or question, or dwell upon the consequence of the actions taken.
After all, a Divine Force was at work - and I was only the instrument of justice (protected by the grace of God) - called upon to act.
In the final analysis, it's good to be compassionate and to show understanding to those of lesser intelligence or lower spiritual development, but in some instances it is best to instantly enlighten the individual when they have overstepped their bounds.
Indeed, that is the natural "order" of things, and the true Master instinctively "knows" this to be a Noble, ultimate truth.
Monday, January 7, 2008
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree."
This past week, Lylah Holmes - a student at Columbia lensing a documentary on Barack Obama for her Masters' thesis - revealed some intriguing information to talk show host, Charlie Rose.
After following the Presidential candidate around on the campaign trail, she was able to share a couple of curious observations, with the viewing public.
When Mr. Rose asked Ms. Holmes who black voters were inclined to cast their ballots for, she noted there was a distinctive split between the young and the old.
The first-time filmmaker noted that young Afro Americans were leaning towards Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, "provided there was a chance of winning; after all, they wanted their vote to count."
But her insightful comments about the older black folks - the women, in particular - struck me as not only timely, but funny, and equally quotable.
She alleged that the older women were voting for Hillary Clinton because she was not only viable (Iowa caucus, notwithstanding) but due to the fact she was married to Bill, a former President.
"By voting for Mrs. Clinton, the older African American women feel they'll be getting two candidates for one."
Well, I'm all for value voting.
Super-size my ballot, please!
Sunday, January 6, 2008
John McCain's stance has changed considerably in the past couple of days since the Huckabee win in Iowa.
Up until that historic event, McCain was whimpering on the sidelines - a pit bull, ready to attack - uncertain about his political future.
On Saturday, however, with new confidence and the wind at his back, he arrogantly strode through a packed crowd in New Hampshire - all puffed up, the big swinging **ck.
And at times, the man was downright arrogant, full of himself!
If reporters weren't quick enough to pose a question, he rudely waved them off - and on occasion - with a back-handed insult.
After observing the presidential candidate carefully over the weekend, his questionable actions painfully signaled to me, that he's a dangerous man - not to be trusted with the reins of power.
On "MEET THE PRESS" Sunday morning, for example, when a commentator asked him to note for the record if he would have invaded Iraq in spite of the fact there was no evidence of "weapons of mass destruction", he - at first - evaded the question.
Ah, the old boy was clever with his two-step.
"It's the way it was handled after," he lamented, or something to that effect - suggesting in my mind's eye that McCain was conceding - "too bad, we got caught".
When the commentator pressed McCain on the issue ("After all, it is an important question for you to answer") he fessed up - sure, he would have invaded - in spite of the fact no weapons of any mass destruction were uncovered in Iraq.
On the heels of the shocking admit, he proceeded to assert - along with wild claims that the American people were in his corner on the issue - that as long as there weren't any American casualties, U.S. citizens were not opposed to the "Imperialist" occupation of Iraq.
Yes, in most quarters, voters and politicians are keenly aware that McCain is on record backing Bush's position to "remain in Iraq for fifty - or one hundred years - if necessary". It was his response after the rant, that disturbed me, greatly!
"The Iraq soldiers can die," he stated matter-of-fact.
As long as no American soldier's blood was spilled - "that was okay", to McCain.
The remarks were outrageous, and shocking, and unsettling - to say the least.
Imagine, a presidential candidate making a heinous comment like that?
Essentially, in McCain's view, Iraq soldiers are expendable.
In fact, if McCain has his way - Iraq soldiers would be sent out like "lambs to slaughter" - while the American Army and a raft of Generals hunkered back safely in their dug-outs, out of harm's way.
In view of his skewered view, it's apparent at this juncture, that Mr. McCain is a tired, old war horse, ripe for pasture.
While Mr. McCain is a respected man, without a hint of scandal - a hero, in some eyes - it is evident that the Senator does not represent the "change" American voters have been yearning for - as evidenced by the turn-out last week in Iowa.
Mr. McCain, gather up your war medals, and "go home".
In the world arena, you're a disgrace to Americans, not fit to lead this Nation.
As John Lennon once said,
"War is not the answer".