THE ABSENT - out now!


Out Now - For sale on Amazon and other onlne book sellers


Out Now


My first book of poetry available through Amazon and other online booksellers

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Okay Obama has released his birth certificate….Phase 2 of birtherism will be the argument that he is not a natural born citizen as his father was from Kenya and was not a US citizen at the time of his birth  However, the courts have been clear on this issue going back to the 1700’s and they will have no success. 

While some feel Obama was smart to release his birth certificate now, perhaps elevating the unelectable Donald Trump and causing chaos among Republicans, I think having the birthers around helped Obama in a way,it also caused chaos and allowed the nuttier candidates like Trump and Michelle Bachmann ,who have no chance of being elected, to be the main draw while the “serious” Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty or Mitch Daniels were handcuffed by this side show.

At any event, America now faces a choice about its future.

A talking point of Bill Clinton’s when he first ran for president was his desire to purse a “third way” when it came to governance.  That was defined as neither the stereotypical tax and spend liberalism nor the trickle down tax cuts for the wealthy of the Republican party which led to the 90’s recession and Clinton’s eventual victory.

The third way was yet another way to describe the American dream post WWII-high wage jobs in sufficient number coupled with the ability to own your own home and put your kids through college.  Copious consumption and the lifestyle to maintain it.  An expanded social network was not needed as the economy provided for most.

However, now with the American financial structure exposed as being built on hot air and those high wage jobs largely gone overseas the third way seems an impossibility. I wrote about the US financial picture back in 2008

There are now two choices for America going forward

a.) Adopt a system like many European nations and Canada have – Government health care and better federally financed education as well as a stronger social safety net in general .  Higher taxes especially for the wealthiest members of society.

b.) Keep heading down the current path to a third world America where the society’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a very small group while everyone else is poor and don’t have access to healthcare or quality education – America as a banana Republic!

a.) obviously seems the more humane option, the most good for the most people, but with many in America (especially in the red states) prepared to vote against their self interests conditioned to  respond against anything branded with the word socialist no matter how timid or lukewarm like Pavlov’s salivating dogs it’s going to be a long struggle .    

With the large population of baby boomers starting to retire and the lack of extended families like are found in Asia to cope with this as well as stagnant employment, it’s a struggle, a fight, this nation must have if it is to remain a nation.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Watched the films HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN and RUBBER this weekend.

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN continues the trend started in Quentin Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE of filming in the style of 70’s exploitation films not just the subject matter but the washed out colors and silly wardrobe and other 70’s setting pieces. 

Truth is HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN is pretty good.  It’s so ridiculous and over the top and clearly not meant to be taken seriously that one doesn’t mind the violence even scenes of a school bus full of kids being burned alive or a masturbating child molesting Santa Claus.  There is a bit of social criticism in there too about haves and have nots.  Rutger Hauer is perfect throughout whether in the role of avenging angel or just babbling random nonsense as he does most of the film.

The faux Grindhouse style invites in the viewer and sugarcoats the graphic violence with humor blurring the line between contributing to a genre and parody of a genre.

RUBBER on the other hand goes one step further and shows us an audience, a group of unconnected people with binoculars on a nearby hilltop who watch the plot of the film within a film unfold.  The story is of an abandoned tire that gains some kind of intelligence as well as the ability to destroy things and people(mostly their heads) with burst of what I presume are psychic energy.

We are the voyeurs here even more so the than the in movie audience watching people’s heads explode.  RUBBER is a truly bizarre film but after a little thought the point is clear.  The audience has expectations....The audience doesn’t wish to be challenged!       

Thursday, April 14, 2011


There are few sadder tales of lost potential than that of Robert Mugabe….When he first became Prime Minister of a free Zimbabwe, he was the pre-Mandela and like Nelson Mandela had spent time in prison (ten years)….There was much promise in the independence of newly renamed Zimbabwe and Mugabe was the embodiment of this.

At first, Zimbabwe attracted Western investment and big multi-national companies who set up manufacturing facilities….That however all began to change by the mid to late 80’s.

There is no arguing the point that Robert Mugabe went from figure of reconciliation to insane tyrant.

I would however argue that the world’s view of Mugabe’s tyranny especially what precipitated the IMF withdrawing of funding and the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy is not really correct.  Criticism of him is also out of proportion compared with other events happening in Africa.

To start off, after taking power, Robert Mugabe became an asset of the United States under Ronald Reagan during the Cold War.  As long as he was busy destroying trade unions and murdering their members as well as killing anyone deemed a socialist, he was okay in the eyes of the West and in those big corporations who used Zimbabwean labor

Yes, Mugabe had been brutalizing and torturing his own people for decades but it wasn’ t until he started taking back the land from the white farmers (descendants of colonialist) that the West got angry which seems both too convenient and more than a tad racist.

Prior to this,  70% of the land used for farming in Zimbabwe was owned by 1% of the population which were the white and wealthy relatives of those who took that land by force.  Reclaiming this land had been on the agenda for years but it wasn’t until 1997 when British Prime Minister Tony Blair ended the willing buyer, willing seller policy of the UK recompensing farmers who wished to sell their land that this reached a head.

Did Mugabe demagogue this issue to cling to power, did he act brutally and extrajudicially? Most likely but the colonial injustices of the past did need to be remedied.

The United Sates reaction to the white farmers being driven off was to put Zimbabwe on credit freeze which was really what destroyed their economy.  This was surprising considering that US did nothing during the Rwandan genocide other than not allow any of its functionairies to use the word genocide at the time.  The US ignores the horrible situation in the Congo but continues to twist the situation in Sudan for their own foreign policy machinations which I wrote about here.

It took years also for the US to do anything serious about Apartheid and considered South Africa a Cold War ally.  Anyone remember constructive engagement?

What I am trying to say is Mugabe is a tyrant but he has gotten worse because of the reaction of the world to him and the Western nations have done more to enflame the situation and hurt the citizens of the country than actually solve the problem of how to transition to a real democracy ( and get rid of Mugabe)

And I feel the whole thing is out of scale when you consider how the US reacts to other problems in Africa (these not involving white people).  As paranoid and crazy as Mugabe is, he is right when he says race figures here.

Mugabe often comes to Malaysia for medical procedures (he had prostate cancer surgery here a few years ago) and his wife loves to shop in Singapore like Imelda Marcos.  One of the rumors about Mugabe’s mental decay is that it has been caused by syphilis which he allegedly had or has had for many years.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Haven’t written anything about music for awhile….2010 was a good year for finding music that liked….2011 has started off a bit slower but here’s a few that caught my attention

PALACE by Chapel Club
Chapel Club’s sound is very familiar….Lots of big guitar a la The Chameleons and The Editors and crooning like Morrissey influenced vocals but the end result while very familiar is enjoyable….The band clearly is attached not detached to their music-There is passion here....

Nice jangly guitar pop music influenced by Trashcan Sinatras, The Housemartins, and of course The Smiths….The vocalist reminds me of Paul Smith from Maximo Park….A collection of sunny catchy songs about romance….Wish there were more albums like this....

Not their best, a very quiet record at time perhaps too quiet, but they are a great band and there are plenty of good songs here.  Guy Garvey’s voice is a fantastic instrument.  


Wire seems to be having a late career second or third or fourth wind, this is their strongest album since their heyday and is the culmination of a return to something akin to their first three records which were their best.

CREDO by Human league
Even more farfetched than Wire becoming great again is these guys who after a decade release a new album of hooky songs (perhaps their catchiest bunch since DARE) and updating their sound to a club/techno mix.


Friday, April 8, 2011


The key to TIME WILL DARKEN IT by William Maxwell is the forward which is a description of perspective in painting a landscape.  How we perceive characters (their intentions, who they are) can change over time influenced by any number of factors.  The author has the power to color them in.
The plot of this book is simple when boxed into a typical synopsis – The Southern relatives of a young lawyer visit him and his family (pregnant wife and young daughter) in Illinois.  The 20 something daughter of the relatives (they are not blood relatives as they basically adopted the young man’s father when he was a boy) falls in love with the lawyer.

But this book is so much more than that.  About the closest analogy I can come up with is WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson but whereas Anderson tells of the citizens of his fictional town with broad brushstrokes and dramatic language, Maxwell is subtle using the barest of details of setting ups his scenes economically to convey the most complex or involved scenarios.  An example of this would be the son of the Southern relatives who without too many words is described as a sadist and child molester.

Towards the end of the book Maxwell starts to throw in further details of the lives of the other people who live in fictional Draperville, Illinois.  The concept here is that we are all a part of the same continuum and your time on stage must be taken in tandem with who you are and whatever tidbits of past history are chosen to be revealed by the author.

I loved this book as I’ve loved the other two books I’ve read by Maxwell.  He has a way of telling us everything about both a scene and how a character feels without giving us too much information, overdoing it.

I wrote about these two books of Maxwell here THEY CAME LIKE SWALLOWS


Thursday, April 7, 2011


The wave of anti-sharia laws sweeping shall we say less enlightened US States such as Oklahoma address a non-existent threat-the numbers of Muslims in the US are not a sufficient number to engineer such a radical transformation in law and society.  The number of Muslims in the states enacting these laws are even less.

They are also redundant.  There are any number of Federal laws (not to mention the Constitution itself) preventing another form of legal system invading American jurisprudence and/or being used in its place.

These laws are a dog whistle for bigots and xenophobes….Like the Republican Southern strategy, the anti gay marriage campaign in 2004, and past busing and integration opposition, they are red meat in order to draw in voters, the lowest common denominator type of voter.  For like Gay Americans and African Americans(not to mention the poor), Muslim Americans have become the whipping boy for religious Christian fanatics and Republican party trolls.

Beware when someone in America starts talking about state rights-wink, wink  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


My latest book of poetry is now available for preview free online

The hard copy will be out in June 2011 for sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers

and here's the press release and a little about me

Saturday, April 2, 2011


What is the life of an artist?  What produces an artist and what type of life feeds him and provides him with inspiration?  Must his own life be weird, disturbed, difficult?
WORLD LIGHT by Halldor Laxness gives is the character of Olaf Karason who from a young age writes poetry....The book is divided into four sections – 1.) He starts off as an unloved foster child.  His own mother having gotten rid of him as an infant.  He lives on a farm and is terrible mistreated by everyone as well as being kicked in the head by a horse he meets until one day he suffers an illness (whether this is psychosomatic or the real result of the bullying and the harsh Icelandic condition is never explained)  He becomes bedridden for several years.  During this time he meets a sad older woman who he establishes communication with.
2.) Eventually he is cast off and sent to another town as an invalid.  Along the way he is seemingly cured of his affliction by a woman with magical powers and now can walk and get around.  He struggles to survive as a poor vagrant poet, has adventures with women, and meets various shady religious and political figures.
3.)  He now lives with the older woman he had met in the first section.  They had a child who died and now have another daughter who is sick(and who eventually dies as well).  His intended wife is a controlling figure who is semi-insane and his struggle with her, to make a living and also labor disputes between those who work for a living and the bosses are shown.  How the church sides with the bosses is clear here.
4.) Olaf and his now wife and their third attempt at having children, a boy, are living in a different city.  Olaf works as a teacher and and sleeps with one of his underage students for this he is sent to jail for a period on the way back to his town he meets a woman onboard a ship he dreamed about earlier and has a brief romance with her.  Later back in his hometown, he seeks to find her but discovers she has died.  Looking at his life-the hardships and the pain he gathers his things and....
The ending is a question.  The person who wrote the forward to the books seems to think he is committing suicide but I don’t necessarily see that.  Change in life on a regular basis is often mandatory for one to be a truly inspired creator especially if that is what got them on that path to begin with.
Laxness writes with a beautiful lyrical style.  He flows like no another and the lyricism is both dream like and poetic but also has a narrative of childlike simplicity....His Olaf never has anything but the strongest conviction that he will be a great poet even through all of his hardships.
However the most interesting thing is Olaf’s poetry itself which Laxness creates....I actually don’t consider it very good which might be the greatest delusion of all....Olaf has a fixed vision in his mind of himself that might be not true at all....His whole life is a lie?
Here’s something I wrote previously about Laxness’s greatest book

Friday, April 1, 2011


Bad news....Unfortunately this is a concert I won’t get to see

The beauty of The Bluetones’ music was their combination of the Glenn Tilbrook/Neil Finn influenced vocals of Mark Morriss and the satisfying pop visions they conjured up and the rest of the band’s traditional British rock style which was in keeping with the Brit Pop of the day.

When they were at their best, most notably on their first album EXPECTING TO FLY, their second album RETURN TO THE LAST CHANCE SALOON, and their fourth album LUXEMBOURG, Morriss’s vocals were perfectly complimented by the band’s heavier instincts.

While The quality of Morriss’s voice and the melodic sense which accompanied it never failed to be satisfying, the individual albums rose and fell on the instrumental arrangements.

On EXPECTING TO FLY, the big early 70’s sound- The Beatles filtered through Badfinger and other imitators then championed by Oasis.  What The Bluetones had that made them different was less of the self-promoting toughness and more of the McCartney pop side in the vocals and the melodies.

RETURN TO THE LAST CHANCE SALOON kepT the melodies but streamlined the sound roughing up the guitar even more and playing around with the rest resulting in a lighter take on the “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” style .

SCIENCE AND NATURE added a fifth member on the keyboards which resulted in looser jamming feel to the music.  Needs a bit tightening up but still plenty of great songs there.

LUXEMBOURG returned to them to a four piece and focused on short punchy songs almost power pop.  Very different from their other records - Immediate and fun.

The last two Bluetones records THE BLUETONES  and A NEW ATHENS found them sinking into a comfortable groove with more of a mellow vibration and Morriss’s voice even more center stage.  It lacked the dramatic impact of the earlier records but was still very beautiful music.

The Bluetones were one of the longest lived of the original Brit Pop bands.  Here’s to them and their music and the hope pretty voiced singers will front harder rocking bands in the future.