An Ode To The Civilizing Influence Of Cannabis

As I write this, I’m waiting for the final bowl of my nighttime meds (I started with Skywalker then finished with a bowl of Godfather with a little Afghani sprinkled on top. In a few minutes the combined effects of those strains should fuse into a feeling of delicious, creamy sleepiness that I can surrender to at will; if I get distracted — my mind will be there to deal with whatever it is. When I turn my mind back to bed — the creamy sleepiness will be right there where I “left it”.

I don’t call cannabis’ impact on my brain “being high”. Being “high” isn’t my goal when I use cannabis (that’s just me — everyone has their own relationship with cannabis and that’s as it should be!) My whole approach to using cannabis starts with a question: “What do I want cannabis to do for me?” If I want to be sleepy (as now), I reach for one of my indicas.

Tomorrow morning, when I wake up, I’ll start my day with a hybrid called GG4 (having woken up feeling refreshed thanks to my cannabis sleeping meds). A sativa dominant brings a soft focus to my mind which makes for a nice transition from the restful sleep. Combined with my one mug of coffee for the day (caffeine and my prostate don’t get along anymore), the world comes into complete focus. The caffeine’s rush is familiar. The GG4’s effect is more like when you’re sitting in the optometrist’s chair and she’s asking which of the two letter A’s is sharper. The GG4 makes it sharper. Appreciably so.

The great revelation to me was that one could work on cannabis. I write (and, if I get lucky, I also get to produce what I write if I get so lucky as to sell the damned thing) and my writing relies on precision. There’s a reason all the musicians who created jazz down in New Orleans took to cannabis like nothing else. That’s literally. They couldn’t create or play their instruments when drunk. Heroin might be attractive but you couldn’t work with it in your system (never mind the mess it’d make of you). But cannabis was different. Even indicas open your mind.

The way I understand it is this. Our synapses work like digital circuits. They’re either open or closed. THC (in concert with the particular strain’s turpenes) causes more of your synapses to be open. More information is flowing into your brain because the cannabis has made your brain more receptive to it. That sensation of too much information can make you feel paranoid. The reason cannabis makes some people feel paranoid is because it makes those people more aware of everything. Every sound even.

Here’s a dirty secret the world will eventually catch up to. Cannabis does not do to our brains what alcohol does. Biochemically speaking. There’s lots of data to back up our laws prohibiting drinking and driving. Our assumption that cannabis has the exact same effect isn’t based on anything — least of all the practical experience of the cannabis smoker.

Now, I wouldn’t smoke an indica and get behind the wheel but a bowl of Durban Poison is a whole other matter. DP, if you don’t know, is a classic sativa. Sativas don’t make you feel sleepy; quite the opposite. Sativas give you mental focus. They sharpen the mind. After my first bowl of GG4 in the morning, I move on to Durban Poison or one of a half dozen other sativas currently in my rotation (I love having choices and cannabis provides so many) — Clementine, Killing Fields (not big on that name), Jack The Ripper (okay — I’ll grant you, there’s a strange pattern here), Dutch Treat if I can Find it.

There IS data — published by our very own National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — that says (hell, I’ll even quote them!) “When the odds ratios were adjusted for demographic variable of age, gender, and race/ethnicity the significant increased risk of crash involvement associated with THC disappeared.” The same report points out drivers under the influence of THC (unlike drunk drivers) stay within the lines. They maintain a safe following distance and drive at the speed limit. They drive that way because they’re processing more information as they drive.

I won’t say that cannabis makes anyone a better driver (though I know for a fact it makes me considerably better), but it does not make anyone a worse driver. That’s statistics talking.

I smoke a bowl of Durban Poison before I play tennis. Often, midway through, I’ll smoke another bowl (we’re talking two hits and a count of fifteen). The effect is greater focus. The short court warm up I do with my long-time tennis partner is always great fun; she’s an athlete, I’m not. The focus I get from cannabis makes up enough of the difference to make our game competitive. With DP in my brain, the game slows down. I see where I need to be. I see where the ball needs to be (when I return it). I see the spin on the ball as I approach it. And I watch the ball all the way through my follow-through.

The mood stabilizer I take gives alcohol a wretched aftertaste. I had to give up drinking. Truth be told, I don’t miss alcohol a bit. But I miss the camaraderie of alcohol as its still the more accepted way to self-medicate socially (despite the mess alcohol causes in so many lives). It’s strange now to be the only non-drinker at a party or social gathering — and to watch your friends or family slowly become less coherent.

Put a bunch of pot smokers in a room together and they’re incredibly social. They love sharing. Passing a joint around is part of pot culture.

I’ll close with this. If a soccer (football) stadium filled with people smoked cannabis instead of drinking beer, there would never be any rioting or violence at the end of a match. The fans would all be too busy hugging each other, laughing together or sleeping.

Yes, yes — cannabis isn’t a panacea. It isn’t for everyone. What in this world IS “for everyone”? But cannabis can make your life better. Life is hard enough on a good day. The silly idea that self-medicating is bad is just that — silly. Being a sentient creature on planet earth is hard. One needs a buffer between our sentientness and stone cold reality.

Let me know when someone clever thinks they’ve found something better than cannabis. By then, I’m sure I’ll really need the laugh.

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I Made A Terrific New Friend Yesterday — My Diametric Opposite

I am not making this up. I met my diametric opposite a few days ago. We kinda it it off. By yesterday, when we parted ways, I couldn’t get him out of my head.

Come the fall, my daughter will matriculate at UC-Davis. Despite the havoc Prop 13 wreaked upon California’s educational system, our state universities remain a shining example of what public education can be. For two days, we were both plunged into the University’s culture — my daughter off with the students, me off with the parents. As this isn’t my first time at the UC Rodeo, I was familiar with the tropes. The nuggets of good, UC-Davis-specific info were massively outnumbered by well-meaning-but-generic suggestions about dealing with our freshman angst and our own.

My new friend Gary and I started chatting — just because we were sitting near each other while waiting for one of the information sessions to start. We all wore badges with our names, our student’s first name and their intended major. That way, all the parents had a way to break the ice with each other — just by reading each others’ badges.

I’m not subtle in a room. Gary saw me immediately for what I was — a progressive. Gary did a little “lawyerly” poking around. He showed me a picture of a Remington rifle he was interested in buying. It was a nice-looking rifle. Not my thing but, still, my under-reaction surprised Gary.

The subject of marijuana had come up. I forget why. It seems to come up a lot around me. Gary had recently developed type 2 diabetes. When he and I and the two other hookey-playing dads sat down for an off-campus beer, Gary and I were the only non-drinkers. I asked if he ever used cannabis instead. Gary said he almost did once (at UC-Davis — he was a very proud alum) but hadn’t since — and really couldn’t because of his work.

Gary, ya see, is a judge. A very conservative judge from a very conservative part of California. The instant I heard Gary was a judge, I was captivated. I grew up a surgeon’s son. While I thought of my dad as “dad”, other people revered my dad because of what he did — and did for them. Working as I have in show business, I’ve seen people be revered because they can memorize dialogue and act it out on cue. But, perhaps because I grew up being unimpressed, I became immune to being impressed. Gary being a judge (never mind his politics) made him a guy with a job I wanted to know more about. The perfect basis for a friendship.

Now, I hope Gary will forgive me for this. I’m about to give away his secret. He’s a profoundly decent man. His care and compassion for drug addicts — his work on their behalf to keep them out of the penal system (but with the penal system’s threat very real) makes him a hero. There’s a saying in the Talmud: “Save one life, you save the world”. I told Gary that’s what he was doing. He downplayed it. The last laugh is mine — I’m shouting it from the rooftops here.

The truth is, because Gary isn’t a doctrinaire conservative — and I’m a pragmatic progressive — we found an amazing amount of, if not common ground, then ground where structures could be built where we both could live. It’s funny how when you put politics — even differing politics — inside decent people, one hears the differences but one also sees a way to get past them. Decency is a remarkable thing, I tell ya!

Decency means you have to listen sometimes — and wait your turn to counter. You have to argue facts and not feelings. You have to stay reasoned and reasonable.

I have a confession to make. I used what my new friend Gary told me about himself against him. And he let me. The subject of Donald Trump came up. The subject of Russia came up. The subject of Robert Mueller and The Mueller Report came up.

Gary said he hadn’t read the report, didn’t intend to, and thought it was a waste of time. That’s when I played dirty. I talked to my new friend Gary as the compassionate, law-abiding judge I knew he was — there was video, news reporting — testimonials from drug addicts who’d been saved from their own demons. Gary is especially fond of his time in drug court. He’s put more than a few demons to the sword there.

I put Robert Mueller into Gary’s courtroom,. Was Mueller a “good witness”? Purple Heart War Hero… Second longest-serving FBI Director… a man who’d spent his whole career as a public servant — whose reputation even now remains sterling. I asked — if the evidence presented in the 488 page Mueller Report was evidence presented in HIS courtroom, how would Gary feel about it?

I told you — Gary is a very decent man. He did not disagree that AG Bill Barr misrepresented Robert Mueller and his work product. The more we talked about the subject, the quieter Gary became. I don’t argue feelings. I argue facts (and I can back up everything with receipts if needed because I’ve learned the hard way — it sucks being humiliated by someone who does bring proof that they know whereof they speak). But feelings are part of the equation and depending on how intense those feelings are, the facts can easily get de-contextualized. A fact out of context is a statistic waiting to be abused.

Gary and I talked about the 2nd amendment too. We talked about how it’s worded. We talked about guns and gun culture. Though it pains me to say it, i don’t see how we’d ever make America a giant gun-free zone. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work toward it. My bet is the more women flood the political system, the tighter gun restrictions will be because mothers hate the thought of anyone’s baby getting shot.

Guns will be a series of conversations we’ll have over time, I bet. I believe we will have those conversations. And though we won’t see eye-to-eye, I believe we’ll begin to see ways to bridge the chasm. Decency, I believe, will make the chasm harder to maintain. I hope that Gary’s decency was a reflection of my own. Having someone listen to you — really listen — changes things.

I bonded with Gary. I found a compadre (and a partner in crime). I found someone whose world fascinates me — as my world fascinates him. I doubt we’ll ever have the same war stories.

As someone who rages against political opponents like a fool shrieking into the void, I found it incredibly satisfying to listen. To ask questions. To understand the perspective that made another person who they are.

I guess that’s what happened. I looked inside the heart of another person — and saw them beneath what they thought.

I can’t say for sure if this new friendship will endure. I want it to. I already come away from it enriched by it.

Pervs Of A Feather Perv Together: The Goal Of A Sexual Predator Is Destruction Of His Prey — As A Person

I feel like we’re living the opening moments of David Lynch’s movie “Blue Velvet”. We open on a vision of American bliss circa 1955 (or so) — A dad out watering the grass outside his slice of suburbia. The dad clutches his chest suddenly and collapses. As he lies on the ground, helpless, we push in on the grass beneath him. And it’s there where we find what’s really going on in this scene — it’s busy. It’s violent. And there’s rot all around. A terrific metaphor.

As a culture, we’ve been dominated by dicks from the start. That’s dicks, Dicks and “dicks”.

We’ve also been dominated by those dicks’ dicks. And therein lies our problem — a problem on its way to being mitigated by the flood of women seeking and acquiring political power. Their emergence as a viable, independent (multi-faceted) voting block has already changed America’s political landscape profoundly. While no one was looking, the emergence of America’s women as a force has already been acknowledged by America’s smarter boardrooms.

For all their right wing nuttery, The 21st Century Fox board of directors made it clear how clear they were that the 21st century world was different than the 20th century one when they fired Bill O’Reilly — their cash cow. Women had turned on O’Reilly. They were turning away from the brands that advertised on O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor”. Women had already become the chief decision-makers in most American households. Lose America’s women, you’re as good as done.

Most of the companies that advertised on O’Reilly’s show saw the handwriting. It was female — and it wasn’t coming back ever. Fox’s problem — women were on the verge of abandoning them completely. They tossed Bill O’Reilly overboard. O’Reilly, don’t forget, was/is a sexual predator who thought the workplace was a snack bar for his sexual peccadilloes.

If sexual predation was a mostly “black problem” — from the white point of view — we’d have fixed this already (racism would trump everything else). But, in our culture, sexual predation is a kind of male privilege. The more money a male has, the more predation he’s entitled to (apparently). The really, really rich predators? They can, per Donald Trump, pussy-grab at will.

Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein are “pervs of a feather”. That similar taste for “women on the younger side” (actually, we call them GIRLS because they are NOT YET women) should not be news to anyone — especially if they work in our less-than-observant main stream news media. A simple Google of Trump & “perversion” will score you millions of results and shitloads of irony.

While none of the women who’ve already come forward to tell their stories of being raped or assaulted or abused by Jeffrey Epstein and his friends have said “He took my humanity”, that is what each of their stories shouts. E. Jean Carroll’s brave confession in New York Magazine articulated that experience in detail, bringing us into the Bergdorf-Goodman dressing room right alongside her as Donald Trump literally raped her. To deny someone’s request to stop is to deny them. If the “no” in question is their personal space — or the plane of their body being violated — that is a denial of their personhood. The rapist — in this case Donald Trump — has placed his desire to put his penis where he wants — over the desires of his penis’ target. Donald Trump’s penis was more important to Donald Trump in that moment. Like every rapist’s penis, Trump’s mushroom dick had been weaponized.

Rape — like all sexual assault — is not sex. It’s violence. It’s assault and battery of both body and (here’s the important part) “soul”. As a survivor of a sexual assault when I was 14 (a thing I kept “secret” from myself for 45 years — it was a secret only in that I had failed to acknowledge what I k new for a fact had happened), I’ve got skin in this game. The man who sexually assaulted me did not see me as a “fellow human”. Though he never penetrated me, he saw me as nothing but a sperm receptacle. Under better circumstances (from his point of view), that is exactly what I would have become.

I guess I got lucky on that one.

But the man who assaulted me did leave a mark — a permanent one — on my psyche. He put me on an island alongside him — just me, him & our secret. If you didn’t know my secret, you didn’t really know me. And no one (not even me) was getting in on that secret. Nothing good can come of that. My secret nearly killed me. For real.

That — destruction — is the ultimate goal of a sexual predator. The moment I became healthy enough to confront what happened to me, I became a threat to mine. 45 years unfortunately was too long to do anything about it; my predator was already dead. But, had I found the strength to confront my truth and tell my story sooner — you see where I’m going. It’s better for the rapist that the evidence of his rape vanish. As rapists know though — a person doesn’t have to physically “vanish”. If you can vanish their personhood — it’s just as good.

We’ve got a front row seat now to how it all works. Trump has continued to deny that his rape victims were even good enough for him to stick his dick into. I don’t know about you, but saying “I save my rape for attractive women” makes it a thousand times worse. Never mind the fact that it’s bullshit. A college roommate’s dad once said of his son — a good friend of mine — that he’d “stick his dick in a snake”. Yeah — 99% of men at some point in their sexual life would have done that because our penises hold that much sway over us.

Every man has at least thought (even if still clothed) “Please — touch it” while sitting with or standing with an object of their desire. What they did or didn’t do to get their junk touched — that’s what separates the men from the boys from the pervs. A man looking for a sexual partner — as in someone with whom to experience sex WITH (as opposed to imposing sex upon) will always be adrift on a sea of doubt and uncertainty. Sometimes it’s hard to read another person’s messaging — especially when its ambivalent. The strict Rule Of Thumb has to be in the absence of a full-on, unequivocal “yes, I want to do this with you”, the answer is “no”.

Our peckers need to hear that “no” loud and clear.

It’s Time To end “The Cult Of The Penis”

It’s a biological fact: Penis-People have it way easier than Vagina-People.

Biology is destiny — or, it has been so far — and, as the evidence indicates, it’s killing us. I’ve argued here before (so I’ll thumbnail it in this post) that women know intrinsically that one cannot bear and raise a child alone. One could — but the odds are stacked against mother and child thriving or even surviving. As Hillary Clinton said, “It takes a village”. Yes, it does. It absolutely does.

Women rely on community for survival. Communities make group decisions (no group ever says “I alone can fix it”.) Men, on the other hand, contribute only one sperm to the process. They don’t even have to be there when the sperm gets introduced to the vagina where the intended egg lives. A turkey baster can fill in just fine.

In fact, women don’t even have to have an orgasm in order to procreate whereas men absolutely do. Lots of men wouldn’t know a real (as opposed to simulated) female orgasm if they actually saw one (which would be on film only — trust me, they’ve never been in a room where it’s happening). The male orgasm is 90% external (I’m giving 9% to the pump action & 1% to the “feels good” in terms of its actual reproductive usefulness) .

Male biology is completely “squirt-n-go”. We have no emotional attachment to our issue. Our nature is to “squirt-n-go” as many places as we can — to spread our genes as far and wide as possible. Our culture celebrates that fact. Does anyone look at James Bond and think “Man, have you ever put a wrapper on that thing? Have you ever asked the thousands of women you’ve been with if THEY’RE protected (both from pregnancy and whatever STD’s your well-traveled dick must have been exposed to)?”

Certainly not! Consider all the images we have that do double duty as penile stand-ins — bananas, popsicles, trains entering tunnels (example – the final shot of Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest”).

If we tried to find an image to do double duty as the vagina and its orgasm, it would look like a quadratic equation.

If women had been running things since the dawn of time, the last thing on earth we’d celebrate is either the penis or its spew. Instead we’d celebrate the mystery of the female orgasm. We’d teach young men how to see that it’s their purpose to solve that mystery — which means, first and foremost, knowing the woman at the mystery’s core. Squirt-n-go need not apply. In fact, it needs to go.

The fact that a picture definition scumbag like Jeffrey Epstein isn’t already rotting in the worst prison we can conjure is a testament to the fact that there IS a “Cult Of The Penis”. Powerful men, as we keep learning, walk around with weaponized penises. They think they’re entitled to put their pecker wherever their pecker wants. The only people who’d go along with that bullshitty thinking are the owners of those offending peckers, their enablers — and their unwilling victims.

It’s the enablers who make up the “Cult Of The Penis”.

We all know who they are.

Why I HATE Missing A Good Earthquake

I’ve lived in Southern California for 35 years — longer than I’ve lived anywhere. That almost makes me a native. It doesn’t — and for that I’ll be eternally sad. I grew up in the east — in a Jewish suburb in northwest Baltimore. I went to Vassar — 90 minutes north of NYC. After college, I lived in and around New York for years. My future was there. It wasn’t a question.

LA is seductive in myriad ways. I could go on (in fact, I do — in the book I just finished How To Live Bullshit Free {And Other Showbiz Tales} — which I am currently agent shopping). Within three days of visiting back in 1985, I went from being an LA-Hater to being… there’s no nice way to put it — LA’s bitch. More correctly — one of LA’s bitches. There are millions of us here. Most don’t realize that’s the nature of our relationship with LA. We’re the betas and always will be. The bottom line — once LA has you, you’re done. It’s just a matter of time before you get lured too close to the sun — like Icarus. Then your wings — all wax and feathers — melt, and you plunge back to earth.

Seasons are another thing we experience minimally (though it’s changing — almost as if climate change were real). From November to March, the daytime highs hover in the low 70’s. For Angelenos that means break out the down. I’ve been to Glasgow in July — and it was colder than LA in February — yet everyone still acted like it was summer. Southern California weather ruins everyone’s idea of “cold”. LA is overflowing with British ex-pats. They’re here for the weather (or the business) and they’re the first ones to shiver when the mercury dips below 80.

One of the unseen dangers (like the sun’s heat to Icarus), is California’s geology, perched, as it is astride the San Andreas Fault.

I’ve lived in Southern California for 35 years — longer than I’ve lived anywhere.  That almost makes me a native.  It doesn’t — and for that I’ll be eternally sad.  I grew up in the east — in a Jewish suburb in northwest Baltimore.  I went to Vassar — 90 minutes north of NYC.  After college, I lived in and around New York for years.  My future was there.  It wasn’t a question.

LA is seductive in myriad ways.  I could go on (in fact, I do — in the book I just finished How To Live Bullshit Free {And Other Showbiz Tales} — which I am currently agent shopping).  Within three days of visiting back in 1985, I went from being an LA-Hater to being… there’s no nice way to put it — LA’s bitch.  More correctly — one of LA’s bitches.  There are millions of us here.  Most don’t realize that’s the nature of our relationship with LA.  We’re the betas and always will be.  The bottom line — once LA has you, you’re done.  It’s just a matter of time before you get lured too close to the sun — like Icarus.  Then your wings — all wax and feathers — melt, and you plunge back to earth.

Everywhere on the planet has a fatal flaw — where human mortality is concerned.  The mid-west has tornadoes, the east coast has blizzards and hurricanes but even worse — the mid-west and the east coast have horrible humidity.  Having lived in LA as long as I have, I now find the east coast’s humidity unbearable.  We get humidity from time to time — but then it goes home again.

Seasons are another thing we experience minimally (though it’s changing — almost as if climate change were real).  From November to March, the daytime highs hover in the low 70’s.  For Angelenos that means break out the down.  I’ve been to Glasgow in July — and it was colder than LA in February — yet everyone still acted like it was summer.  Southern California weather ruins everyone’s idea of “cold”.  LA is overflowing with British ex-pats.  They’re here for the weather (or the business) and they’re the first ones to shiver when the mercury dips below 80.

One of the unseen dangers (like the sun’s heat to Icarus), is California’s geology, perched, as it is astride the San Andreas Fault.

The San Andreas isn’t the only fault under our feet.  There are thousands.  That we know of.  It’s just a simple fact of Life: a massive, catastrophic earthquake lies in California’s future.  It will devastate the state.  And then we’ll rebuild.  Cos it’s California and regardless of the destruction our geology causes, there’s no place else on the planet quite like it.

Provided that you’re staying regardless, the next question is — how do you feel about earthquakes?  How do you feel during them?  If earthquakes haven’t scared you back across the state line, headed home to wherever you came from, you must find them tolerable.  If you’re like me, deep down?  You actually kind of like them.

My first earthquake (and by earthquake, I don’t mean those little 4-pointers that feel no different from a big truck passing by) was the Whittier Narrows quake in 1987.  The quake hit a 5.9 at 7:42 a.m. on October 1 and did an estimated $213–358  million of damage, injuring 200, killing three people directly with five  additional earthquake-related fatalities.  At the time, I lived in Hollywood — in a 2-bedroom, 1 bath bungalow (now razed & replaced by squat, ugly condos) with off the street parking for 4 cars and a pool — all surrounded by a high fence and lots of greenery so it felt like a secure compound).

The first thing about earthquakes — they all sound a little different.  Of course they do — their circumstances are all completely different.  Our experience of an earthquake has everything to do with the earthquake itself — where it originates, why it originates, what soil type or water sits above it.  In Hollywood, it felt like the house was undulating.  It’s that odd sensation that suddenly opens your ears to the low, guttural growl thrumming beneath your feet.  It’s the earth talking to you.  Literally.

I felt (and have always felt) two very distinct reactions.  The first is a kind of animal terror.  The ground is moving.  You know you could be in mortal peril.  There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.  It sounds inside your head kinda like “Aaaaaaaaauuuuuuuggghhhhhhhhhhhh!”

At the exact same time, another piece of you (remember — you stayed here knowing this was a possibility) pulls up a chair, sits down and actually thrills to the sheer coolness of it.  You’re witnessing geology!

My wife and I ran to the nearest doorway.  It didn’t support anything.  Had the house collapsed, we would have been crushed.  But, from where we stood, we could see the dog outside — standing by the pool.  She was mystified — as much by the sound as by the way waves were lapping over the sides of the pool, spilling into the garden.

The house itself — the structure (it was wood and stucco) also had a sound signature as it heaved and sighed, cracking but not failing as it dissipated the earthquake’s effects into the air.  Quick side note.  I was on the 38th floor of a highrise for one good shaker (one of the smaller majors).  The building was designed to sway in the event of an earthquake; the swaying is meant to mitigate the quake’s impact on the structure.  When inside such a building, one tells oneself that the swaying is good — one won’t pitch out a window; but the animal won’t hear it; the animal you is screaming even louder than if it were experiencing this at ground level). Brick structures — being a lot more rigid — fair badly in earthquakes.  Fireplaces, for instance, suffer much more than the wood & stucco houses they’re part of.

When the shaking finally stops — and you see that you’re okay — the next step is check out the damage.  During the Northridge quake (January 17, 1994 at 4:30 a.m.), we lived in the hills of Los Feliz on Ronda Vista Drive in a 1927 Spanish (meaning stucco but with a brick fireplace covered in stucco).  We had a view of the LA basin (looking south).  City lights as the real estate people call it here.

My first impressions — the feel of the house swaying — the earth growling — then darkness.  Though we had a shade lowered on the picture window in our bedroom, LA’s city lights are still pretty damned bright.  It never gets truly dark in LA — unless the lights go out.  As they did.

That added to the animal terror.  Then another new component — the sound of things in the house falling and breaking.  Still — the wow factor plays. 

According to Wikipedia, “The quake had a duration of approximately 10–20 seconds, and its peak ground acceleration was the highest ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area in North America. It feels like forever when it’s happening.  Earthquakes definitely color our perception of time.  They warp the hell out of it. 

When the shaking stopped, we assessed the damage to and in the house (the pantry was a mess, we lost some nice glasses and other fragile objects and the brick fireplace cracked and would need to be repaired before we could sell the house) then went outside to see how all the neighbors were.  That’s where an earthquake becomes not a “me” event but a “we” event.

We all live here because we tolerate quakes.  We all like them on some level deep down even if we won’t admit it.  When the earth actually starts quaking, that means a club meeting’s been called and the last thing you ever want to be is absent from a club meeting.

My family and I were traveling from the east coast back to the west on July 4.  We got stuck in the same nasty weather that delivered some well-deserved righteous indignation on the head of Donald Trump and his psychotic supporters as they re-branded our Independence Day into their Trumpendance Day.  A 4 1/2 hour journey took 37 hours including an overnight stay in Phoenix when we missed the last connection by an hour. 

That meant we missed the initial 6.4 quake that rattled Ridgecrest out in the High Desert.  That meant we missed a club meeting.  Our house sitter went to the meeting in our place.

That would have meant (had an even bigger aftershock not rolled through last night), that we would have been outsiders to any discussion about the quake.  We’d have been no better than East Coasters shuddering about how scary earthquakes are.  But, I’m not sure if we got lucky or we just got “Southern Californian”.  Last night, as we all sat on the front porch of our 1907 craftsman in Highland Park, literally lighting up the first cannabis we’d grown ourselves, that a 7.1 aftershock shoved its way into our front garden gate and asked for a toke.

We all make deals with multiple devils.  My devil is Los Angeles.  Last night, my devil came looking for its due — and I was delighted to pay up.

On This Perverse Independence Day, A Reminder — American Exceptionalism Is REAL: It’s Our DIVERSITY…

Today may be July 4, but it doesn’t feel like a normal Independence Day. More like… Trumpendance Day. Not a national celebration, a national tragedy.

If our problem were only Donald Trump — his corruption, his crime family and their spider web of self-serving criminal enterprises — his treason — this “problem” would have been solved already. Not hyperbole: the entire Republican Party is evidently complicit in every last bit what Donald Trump is doing, has done — intends to do to what was the United States of America. Not to get too far into the weeds (there are so damned many) — The demographics clearly against them (remember those “demographics” — we’ll return to them shortly) — the Republican “brain trust” saw that the days of White, Christian hegemony over America were sunsetting — and fast. Popular vote numbers (and the more Americans who vote, the more Democratic we tilt) put the presidency (the Executive Branch) permanently out of reach. The Legislative branch also looked dicey. The one shot the Republican brain trust saw as a means to hold onto power: capture the judiciary. Fill the benches from SCOTUS on down with permanent appointees, every last one a cultural/legal troglodyte, wedded like a Bride of Christ to the idea that America needs to live in its Antebellum past.

Those people have hijacked the country. Before that, they hijacked the language (twisting “A well regulated militia” into “have all the guns ya want!”) and even history (going into the Civil War, not a single seceding Confederate state said a word about “state’s rights”. Every single secession document sites slavery as its reason for leaving the Union. The South proved the maxim — never mind who wins the war, what matters is who wins the peace that follows. The South managed to revise history to make us think we weren’t still arguing about slavery.

Those people — Conservative, white Christians — also have tried to hijack the idea of “American Exceptionalism”. They want everyone to believe what makes us different — special, damn it! — is white, Christian men and their money. That is prime, grade A bullshit.

American Exceptionalism is its diversity.

With the caveat that step one involved wiping out most of America’s native population (guns, steel and especially germs) — and with the added caveat that European populations were living in abject squalor while great civilizations thrived across North America — America was a kind of blank slate culturally and historically. Whereas the Gauls, the Celts, the Bretons, Aquitanians, Ligurians, and Germanic people arriving at the beginning of the Frankish Empire (481–843) would, in time, evolve into “French People” just as the Hun tribes in Germany became Germans, the Swiss became Swiss, the Spanish became Spanish and the Italians became a collection of disorganized city-states masquerading as a country, there were no tribes present on North America to eventually evolve into those “people”.

As I said, aside from the ones the arriving Europeans wiped out, THEY were the foundation for what became “Americans”. But not just Europeans. They weren’t the only ones here. There were still native Americans. And lots of Africans. There were, in fact, people from all over the world — here at the founding of the country and immediately thereafter. The white men who drew up the documents over-represented themselves and their interests — as wealthy white men always do. But the ideals transcended their narrow-mindedness.

Look at America’s history, who contributed to it, who BUILT the country, not just with their labor but with their passion, their idealism, their love of the idea of building something of your own creation — that you participate in governing. What a remarkable notion to spring from the minds of people who’d always been ruled over by kings and inheritors of power. No more inheritance — power would spring from the Will of The People.

And the people, as we know — as any Republican can tell you, their pearls clutched tightly — are, have been and are getting even more DIVERSE.

Happy Birthday, America. Happy Exceptionalism!

Male Thinking Explained (Warning: You Won’t Like It)

They may come for my Male Card for writing this — screw em! The time has come to man up about how men “man up”: it’s all in our minds.

No woman would ever speak the words “I alone can fix it” because every woman knows that’s utter bullshit. No one can fix anything alone. No one can do anything alone (except wander across a wilderness). Women know this biologically. They know they can’t bear a child and raise a child by themselves. Both mother and baby will surely die. Part of the maternal instinct is knowing — you’ll need at least one other person to survive. More support equals better chances of survival. More support still and both mother and baby can thrive.

It’s a very female instinct to think it takes a village to raise a child. That instinct is borne of deep-seated knowledge. Trust it. It speaks a core Truth.

Now, here’s the thing — that needing a village thing? It’s the diametric opposite to how men think. How men think starts with our biology, too. Yes, we’re all about our dicks, we men, but we’re all about our dicks because we’re really all about our sperm. Our biologic imperative (aside from eating, shitting and dying) is to reproduce. It’s hard-wired into the genome. How we reproduce is to put our sperm in proximity to a female’s egg. Insertion helps. A big dick assumes more efficient delivery of sperm to egg. In our minds, it probably assumes more better sperm too.

We’re the Wolf in the Red Riding Hood story, already in bed, dressed up as Grandma — even though, strangely, Grandma’s got her penis in her hand… “What a big penis you have, Grandma.” “The better to impregnate you with, sweetheart.”

At the very core of male thinking is that imperative — how do I put my sperm someplace else? Once placed, of course, the male is free to move on. In essence, nothing ties him to whatever comes of him coming. If he was a sociopathic asshole — like, say, Donald Trump — he could pick & choose what of his “leavings” gets to go full term. Kinda like now.

I really, REALLY hate to say this but just like Donald Trump epitomizes Republicanism (sociopathic, hypocritical, corrupt-to-the-core, utterly lacking in principles or integrity, committed only to gaining & holding power even if it means committing treason), he also epitomizes being male. In a blown way out of proportion (well, it’s Trump, isn’t it) but not as much as you think kind of way. “I alone can fix it” is not uniquely Trumpian — as Trumpian as it is.

The cocksmanship? C’mon, boys — we all know what that’s like. We all wish, down deep, we could be that instantly attractive. No one really wants to work for their supper. Everyone wants to be indulged — especially that way.

What’s more? Donald Trump epitomizes the male “Squirt-n-Go” dynamic. Of course it applies sexually. Bottom Line Donald — he’s a rapist. The ultimate squirt-n-Go-er. His sperm isn’t just conquest, it’s brutality. It’s fully weaponized sperm. But Trump doesn’t just Squirt-n-Go with his toxic seed. He does it with bullshit, too.

Trump spews bullshit with the same ease he spews semen. He can swing his dick in your face without taking it out of his pants — though he loves to pull it out — despite its tiny size.

That Truth about men is already public knowledge: Men lie about their size.

Now you know why.