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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Once you said each person has a snake in their body.

THE HUNTING GUN by Yasushi Inoue is an extremely short book in length.  The edition I read was about 75 pages including Inoue’s forward.  But oh what extremes in emotion it provokes with its economical prose and the clever set-up of the narrative.

The narrative on the surface is about Josuke, a married man, as told in three letters – One each from Saiko his mistress, Shoko his mistresses’ daughter, and Midori, his wife (and Saiko’s cousin).  Actually, this brilliant plot framing device which is responsible for carrying the whole story doesn’t tell us that much about Josuke who comes across as a cold, aloof, somewhat lonely man who prefers time alone in the great outdoors hunting with his firearm (hence the title).

Instead, we see how his behavior affects others and how the others are as people.  Saiko struggles with what she labels “sin” in fact her length affair with Josuke is a byproduct of the end of her first marriage which occurred when her husband had an affair and a baby with another woman.  She feels guilt for the affair with Josuke which is at the end made worse by a confrontation with Midori.

Shoko writes of discovering her mother’s dairy and reading of her mother’s guilty feelings for the relationship.  After that, the young innocent girl loses all idealism about love.  She also writes of her mother’s suicide which is the signature event of the book that all three letters are written around.

Midori, the wife, has no illusions about her husband and her cousin as she saw them together shortly after getting married.  After many years together, she is asking for a divorce.  We are led to believe she has also been unfaithful to Josuke.  It is clear she detests him completely now and feels nothing in common with him anymore.

For such a short novel, the way each piece fits together produces a really big vision.  I can see all three women, how they look and act.  I have less of a clear vision of Josuke as our vision of him is filtered through the eyes of others.

A great book - powerful, intuitive, each word perfectly placed and sharp as a dagger.    

Monday, March 25, 2013


Rand Paul’s comments this weekend on marijuana users receiving ridiculously long prison sentences coupled with some of his recent comments on immigration reform as well as his perceived role as an advocate for civil liberties following his filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director open up some new areas for the Republican Party.

Rand Paul may be a hypocritical opportunist.  Despite his public persona, he has many disagreements with his father (who is truly principled IMO) and is closer on the positions he has taken on issues to the tea party than Libertarians.

But I think his recent attempts to separate himself on several key issues from perceptions of what the Republican Party stands for is a strategy more and more candidates will utilize and perhaps even the party apparatus itself will get behind this.

In particular, on several reasons I think some Republican Party candidates may try to “outleft” the Democrats on the following issues (Using the old Bill Clinton triangulation maneuver)….

IMMIGRATION – While there is no historical reason while the Republicans should be the ones out front talking about pathways to citizenship for illegal aliens (a form of amnesty), they are….Publicly led by Marco Rubio, himself the son of Cuban Immigrants.

CIVIL LIBERTIES – Again, a Democratic president who continued the worst policies of the Bush administration and ramped up drone strikes that kill many civilians can’t with any credibility talk about this issue. While there is a whiff of hypocrisy – where were some of these guys when Bush was in office????, Paul has really tapped into something here.

DRUG LEGALIZATION – Aiming for penalty reform rather than out and out drug legalization is a clever way of bridging the gap between law and order conservatives and Libertarians.

GAY MARRIAGE –Straight up reversals on this issues by Jon Huntsman, Rob Portman and other prominent Republicans could be rendered moot by a Supreme court decision later this year.  Such a decision would greatly benefit Republicans by taking the issue out of legislative purview.

Also Governor Bobby Jindal’s idea of making birth control over the counter removes that potentially troubling issue for Republicans.

The big question brought up by these isn’t whether or not the Republicans will get away with this but where are the Democrats??? The so-called progressive party which under first Bill Clinton now Barack Obama is the party of drone strikes, Israel support, NAFTA, protecting the big banks.

The latter is an area where the Democrats could still distinguish themselves.  Senator Elizabeth Warren has done a great job turning up the heat on bank regulators.  Could she pull the Democrats in her direction the way Rand Paul is pulling the Republicans in his?


Sunday, March 24, 2013


ANGLE OF REPOSE is the book that won Wallace Stegner the Pulitzer Prize.  Although I personally prefer BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN because I think he was clearer in what he wanted the readers to take away from the characters and also clearer on what their lives meant, REPOSE is a great book on its own merits. 

REPOSE is the story of history professor Lyman Ward in his late 50’s suffering from a debilitating bone disease which has already cost him one leg.  His wife left him some time before and his son is trying to have him put in a retirement home.

Lyman is staying at the home of his late grandparents and as a project has decided to write a historical book tracing the life of his grandmother.  The bulk of the book is her life, her travelling out west from New York  to Colorado, Mexico, Idaho, and finally Grass Valley, California where Lyman is telling the story and his tale is interspersed with hers.

We learn about her troubled marriage to Lyman’s grandfather who was too trusting and irresponsible and her relationship with another man as well as her relationship with her own children.

Lyman contrasts this with his own life and his unresolved feelings for his wife who left him as soon as got ill.

The term “Angle of Repose” is geological and refers to where debris ends up, where they come to a complete stop and collect.  His grandmother found her angle of repose in California although Lyman’s grandfather and she lived separate lives after the incidents which occur earlier in the novel.  Has Lyman found his angle of repose?  Despite outside interference with Lyman’s independence, we’re left with the idea he has.

I liked the way the plot unfolded here not in normal linear fashion but through the eyes of Lyman as he combs through his grandmother’s correspondence (A lot of the plot is revealed through her letters to a friend back East).  I liked the level of detail about the West – How it was settled and how people cheated each other in the process.  I found some of the letters based on real correspondence that Stegner “borrowed" from Mary Hallock Foote a bit dull and Lyman’s thoughts on the youth of the 1960’s seem dated now.

Still this is a great book.  Perhaps the closest Stegner came to an epic in his distinguished bibliography, the closest he came in prose form to the epic sweep of the West that he often wrote about. 


Thursday, March 21, 2013


Fear’s THE RECORD never ceases to put a smile on my face.  Whenever I am in a foul mood, a foul mood that is laced with anger rather than sadness or disappointment (which requires a different listening experience), I put on THE RECORD and I soon feel better.

THE RECORD is not an angry record in the way ENTERTAINMENT or the first Clash record are.  It’s a tongue and cheek expression of frustration put to music that sounds like a ferocious animal in a poorly constructed cage that’s going to fall apart at any minute unleashing the beast (maybe on the last track Foreign Policy it does).

In addition to the tight meticulous playing, not a note out of place at breakneck speed, there is also quite clever social commentary.  The line in Let’s Have a War “General Motors gets fat like last time” might make you laugh but it’s also a great summation of an ugly truth about capitalism and the Vietnam War.  Foreign Policy is a primer on imperialism.  Even the blatant dick joke song Beef Baloney has a nod to the blues in the intro.

The intro to Beef Baloney also shows one of Fear’s two strongest musical attributes – the incredibly powerful voice of Lee Ving whose megaton delivery is remarkable for how clear a singer he is.  I can understand every word he says.  The other weapon is drummer Spit Stix who is sort of a triple time anti-Keith Moon faster than Moon but without his sloppiness and every hit of the cymbal precise.      

The last fifteen minutes of the documentary film THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION are one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.  Ving and company baiting a room full of uptight Southern California skinheads.  “We’re from Frisco” Ving keeps saying mimicking a homosexual (I believe he's trolling here).  Finally, he’s attacked by a few audience members but easily pushes them aside.  They then play three airtight versions of songs from THE RECORD.  The performance has just as much bite, just as much violence, just as much power.


I am by no means a defender of India.  I wasn’t born there and only recently at the age of 47 visited there for the first time specifically my father’s hometown of Hyderabad.  I really have no connection with India other than my name and ½ ethnicity on my father’s side.  Although I now live abroad teaching English, I was born and raised in America.

I say this because I do not want to appear defensive at all about India- I am not. 

Does India have a rape problem?  Well it’s hard to say because I’m sure a lot of rapes go unreported.  India does have a terrible corruption problem which they must overcome in order to be taken seriously as a global power.  I think overpopulation affects the quality of jurisprudence as well not to mention the nightmarish Indian bureaucracy.

I make that connection because the bigger problem for many is the prosecution of rapists not the act itself.  You can make men more aware through women’s studies programs, make them more empathetic, you can scare men through making penalties more severe for rape but you will never completely eradicate rape completely just as you will never eradicate murder or theft.

The bigger problem is the corrupt Indian justice system and the fact very few rapes in India are actually prosecuted.  If they were, I believe the frequency of rape would decrease.  While I might never think about raping someone, another person might be very tempted to do it.  The only things stopping him are the potential penalties for this crime.

Why do I feel the need to bring this up?  Well the fingerpointing about the rape situation in India by the West especially Americans makes me a bit irritated.  Americans love to point fingers at other countries instead of looking in their own backyard.  This is especially true in matters of race and gender.  For many years, the US lectured the Russians on human rights while in the South black people were lynched and couldn’t drink out of the same water fountains as white people.

Does India have a rape culture? No I don’t think so.  India, despite the number of well educated young professional women, is still woefully sexist but it does not oversexualize women in the pornographic sense nor lead men to believe they have a right to have sex and if they are not having a sexual relationship with a woman there is something wrong with them.

America on the other hand has a rape culture and it’s a terrible problem.

The oversexualization of everything, the trickle down of pornography (I am not against Porn and in fact I'm against censorship in any form. Its right to existence is not the issue here)  – the advertising you see, television programs, even young girls through those disgusting pre-teen beauty pageants which should be outlawed in my opinion has created a society without boundaries.

And the Steubenville case has showed us that you couple this lack of boundaries with a sense of entitlement, that you are above punishment as athletes often are and you create potential rapists.  The education officials (coaches etc.) are worse than the corrupt judges in India. Executing a cover-up, they made the decision that sports were more important than not sexually assaulting women.  I believe criminal charges should be brought against the coach in Steubenville as he is an accessory after the fact to the original sexual assault.

 IMO America’s situation is much more serious than India’s.  The struggles of a dying empire collapsing into decadence.  India’s struggles are of a country on the rise trying to throw off the shackles of the third world for the first world.        

Monday, March 18, 2013


Producer of the moment Adrian Younge has succeeded in creating the most unexpected (yet welcome) comeback of the year.  Teaming up with a couple of the surviving members of The Delfonics (especially William Hart who dominates here), he has crafted a fantastic musical throwback around their aching, emotional, urgent vocals.

As I wrote not too long ago here, the Philadelphia sound distinguished itself with a rich sound full of strings, perfect harmonies, and hook driven songs.  What Younge has created here builds on that by slicing it up into powerful short snippets of focused pop.  The end result reminds me not just of Philly soul but of the album Elvis Costello made with Burt Bacharach PAINTED FROM MEMORY.

Like MEMORY, the generous and sumptuous arrangements follow the vocals hanging on every word.  Little musical touches are like oil paints filling in the gaps of a painting – a fuzz guitar on Enemies, a sitar on Life Never Ends.  To call this music old fashioned is to admit what a great loss it is that there are not more tunes like this being released now.  Hopefully, this will start a trend.  Would the remaining members of The Stylistics consider getting back together in the studio?

Every song is a classic.  My faves so far – Stop and Look (And You Have Found Love), Silently, Party’s Over, Life Never Ends.