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

Sunday, August 30, 2015


2011's KAPUTT is/was Destroyer's high water mark. A double record of somewhat personal songs with rich, structured arrangements that conveyed the illusion of looseness. POSION SEASON, the recently released follow-up, is not as sprawling or as immediate as KAPUTT but it is pretty good showing a refinement of pop architecture, a comfort in moving about musically in different styles while retaining a sound.

Dan Bejar's (who for all intents and purposes is Destroyer) most recognizable feature is his Al Stewart "Year of the Cat" like voice which can be grating without suitably soothing backing accompaniment which here consists of a chamber pop/studio jazz hybrid evoking Steely Dan, Avalon era Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry's solo records,The Blue Nile, Mid 70's Joni Mitchell, The Divine Comedy among others.

In particular, the string arrangements are superb. On the songs where they are featured prominently they push and then dance around Bejar's vocals. On the songs where they are part of the mix they create a wall of sound that cocoons the song.

At times, I feel this is an addendum to KAPUTT although it exists to be enjoyed on its own. If KAPUTT was Destroyer's best record, it also created a level they will hopefully keep operating at. POISON SEASON is indeed on that same level of excellence.

Best songs after a couple listens - Hell, Midnight Meets the Rain, Solace's Bride, Dream Lover, Forces From Above, Sun in the Sky, Archer on the Beach, Girl in a Sling

Friday, August 28, 2015


1.) I am at this point an outside observer since I don't vote anymore in US elections but it seems to me if those who classify themselves as "progressives" are looking for a presidential candidate to carry that mantle, not just on income inequality but on the whole range of issues that need to be addressed, Martin O'Malley would be a better choice than Bernie Sanders. For one, while O'Malley is not as passionate or flashy as Sanders, he speaks in a more logical, coherent, organized manner with more specifics and actual written policy proposals. Sanders talks a good game but O'Malley has accomplished a lot more. When he was governor of Maryland, he raised taxes on the wealthy while lowering the tax burden on the middle class and also those at the bottom, raised the minimum wage, implemented a number of gun control provisions, ended the death penalty, lessened the penalties for those caught with small amounts of marijuana, increased education spending by 37%, and secured marriage equality. He's not perfect - His tendency when Mayor of Baltimore to push the Broken Windows theory of policing which is a major cause of much of the police brutality and racial profiling we see today is a fair issue to bring up but Baltimore does have a much larger percentage of African American policemen on the beat compared to New York for example and his perceived weakness in a general election is also worth discussing (that may not matter the if the Republicans nominate Trump or a far rightist) but, of the candidates, currently in the race I think he would make the best foil to Clintonian neoliberalism. Nice to have a cerebral less visceral candidate - the Anti-Sanders maybe but definitely anti-Trump.

2.) More and more suspicious of Black Lives Matter. Not what they are protesting against. Police brutality that is racial in nature is a huge problem in the US as is overpolicing in general especially against those who live in poorer neighborhoods and the militarization of local police forces but BLM seems to have a hidden agenda. Whether it is disrupting Bernie Sanders rallies (the candidate with the best overall civil rights record) while not pushing Hillary Clinton even when she disrespects them to their face or engaging in pointless public feuds with Amnesty International and Anonymous two groups that were fighting police brutality long before BLM existed or remaining relatively quiet on two cities run by Democrats with horrible records regarding police violence against black people -Chicago and Los Angeles. The fact that George Soros has donated a lot of money to them through his Open Society Foundation is a bad sign. Soros is the Democrats version of the Koch Brothers ( although I do support his work on drug legalization and promoting the J Street group Palestine/Israel) and often tries to stir up trouble in countries that refuse to go along with his currency speculating bloodsucking ways (like the Ukraine for example). I've seen that firsthand in Malaysia where he has attempted to fund opposition parties, protests and generally cause trouble under the guise of "promoting democracy". And maybe more importantly, Soros has a long history of bankrolling and supporting the Clintons.

3.) A lot of articles on political websites the last week or so trying to predict how Donald Trump plays out. It's clear he is staying in the race and the assumption a lot of people had (including myself) that he would eventually say something so extreme that he would be forced to quit hasn't happened. His ridiculous statements don't seem to be hurting him with the primary voter - talk about teflon! But I am going to wait and see what happens once it is no longer him versus 16 other guys and instead him versus one or two others (Cruz is positioning himself very well at the moment for the later primaries and I still think Walker has a chance but not as much as I did before). At that point, I think he will no longer be the front runner. One on one will be a very different ballgame for Trump.

And also this is what I think of Ted Cruz....

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


This story made the rounds of social media the last few days and produced outrage - In this case seemingly justified.

A few points....Yelp is full of anecdotes of people who behaved worse on winetrain excursions  (including vomiting and fighting) and were allowed to stay on as well as a few accounts from other people on board the train who witnessed this shameful event and say this group was in no way disruptive.

Also other groups of non-white passengers have had similar encounters

Seems to be the winetrain is what is known as a whitespace....Other races are interlopers

There is no way to justify forcing a group of educated middle aged women, a book club (these weren't tatted up hoodrats for Pete's sake) and one 80 year old retiree who is partly disabled walk through the entire train and then disembark while watched by police as if they were criminals.

Personally speaking about that part of California, I've never lived in Napa County but I did live for a couple years as a teenager in both Placer and Mendocino counties also in Northern California and I found the atmosphere in both extremely racist (Placer was worse). During Halloween one year, my high school had a dress up event and one boy wore a Klu Klux Klan hood and gown In fact, the KKK was known to have a chapter in the area. I saw confederate flags all the time even more than I did when I lived in Houston, Texas a couple years later.

However, now the winetrain has apologized. It's a full apology unequivocal but has a weird caveat that the situation would have been handled better if the group had been segregated from everyone else. It also came after a since deleted message also from winetrain staff stating that the group was violent as well as a number of other insulting untrue statements that the official apology also had to apologize for in addition to the original incident.

The truth is this apology would never have happened without social media. It can be a powerful tool for good in shaming racists, in recording acts of police brutality and other wrongdoing. It act like a jury and pronounces sentence. The opposite is of course is also true when the feeding frenzy gets ahold of false information and disseminates it.

In any event, I've traveled a lot over the world and I still would say that America or rather parts of America are among the most deeply racist, xenophobic, and inhospitable that I've encountered. It isn't just that Americans are ignorant - people are ignorant in all corners of the globe, it's that some Americans often rural, often white have a set sort of fanaticism about their ignorance and a need to show it off as if it was a religion.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Processing the TRUE DETECTIVE Season Two finale - I thought it was excellent. The naysayers that have been dumping on this season since Episode One can all kiss my ass. I'll go one step further - I slightly preferred Season Two to Season One because I felt the detective story (the word "detective" is in the title) was much more complex and interesting and was at times a straight noir which Southern California is well suited as a location for.

The identity of the murderer(s) was as I thought but that turned out to be of little importance as their main contribution was starting the ball rolling in exposing the corruption and the guilty parties by dumping Ben Caspere's body in a public place.

I thought the fate of Frank Semyon was the best scene in the whole season. I wish Walter White at the end of BREAKING BAD had gone out in a similar way. Speaking of BB, I half expected Tuco to get out of the car when they came to the desert LOL. The four leads were all good but Vince Vaughn as Semyon was a big step forward in his career. I'd always written off Vaughn as a lightweight star of film comedies but there were many times in this season where he was intense, philosophical, scary, honorable.....Really well thought out performance.

Overall, the resolution fit nicely, loose ends wrapped up, and the writers didn't fall victim to the need to give everyone a Disney ending.

I also wanted to suggest an alternate ending.... What if the killer was Ani? We know Ani was molested as a child, she disappeared for four days which she can't remember. She recalled the molester's face in episode 6 after consuming drugs. He took her somewhere. What if Caspere as well as, Chessani and others watched or participated in her molestation and she somehow remembered this earlier and had a psychotic break - killing Caspere in a graphic personal way but not remembering it afterwards? The stealing of the hard rive and the burning of the car and the shooting of Velcoro could have been connected to the corruption plotline , not Ani who was not responsible for those actions.


Friday, August 7, 2015


First off, the first debate, the secondary candidates.was a sad affair in a mostly empty amphitheater. The mood was like a balloon with the air let out of it. Two great quotes on Donald Trump.... "How can a conservative candidate be for single payer healthcare?" from Rick Perry...."I didn't get a call from Bill Clinton telling me to run, did you?" from Carly Fiorina. Also Lindsay Graham is a sad little man

Onto the main event debate, among the top ten Republican candidates....

1.) The times they spoke and number of questions to answer by each candidate seemed off. Some candidates were speaking every few minutes, others hardly got a chance to speak. Wonder if Fox News planned all that out in advance or if they were flying by the seat of their pants. I do think the moderators asked some tough questions which was a highlight. Here's the breakdown of times - I am surprised as I thought Ted Cruz spoke less and Scott Walker spoke more.

2.) Donald Trump was awful of course - Not answering questions, totally unschooled in the subjects he was asked about, just giving talking points or whatever random nonsense popped up in his hand. Sure it's entertaining but it represents a complete debasement of the political process. The fact a good sized chunk of people support him (and will still - this debate won't change anyone's mind) confirms for some every negative stereotype people have about the USA..

3.) John Kasich came across as the Jon Huntsman of 2015, a moderate, likable. He would be a formidable general election candidate but I think Republicans will be too angry to go for him. Scott Walker was slick, he really had his answers down pat. I am not a fan of his politics but Dr Ben Carson is a thoughtful, intelligent person.

4.) The Rand Paul/Chris Christie exchange - Paul was absolutely right on the NSA but neither of them came off well. Paul's problem is unlike his father who won every debate exchange he was in in 2008 and 2012 I am not sure he believes in what he is saying. He has tried too hard to nuance and triangulate his Libertarian views to fit in the Republican party. He did not have a good night.

5.) Ted Cruz - what a sap. Let's settle two things 1.) Iran is not "on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon" Every credible military analyst and expert say that Iran is years away from this 2.) "The Iran hostages were released the day Ronald Reagan took office" because Reagan's campaign staff cut a deal with the Iranian revolutionaries (October Surprise) that bribed them to hold onto the hostages until then.

6.) I don't think Jeb Bush did great either. Spent a lot of time running away from past positions that are out of step with a very conservative Republican Party. He's wrong on both Common Core (federal education standards are a must but what I've seen of Common Core is rote memorization in the place of critical thinking and too much emphasis on exams. Not the way to produce a generation of innovators) and raising the age for Social Security (This is based on a false premise - People living longer does not mean quality of life has improved. It only means science has found ways to extend life. 80 is not the new 60 especially if you smoke or have a bad diet).

7.)The audience seemed to be better at controlling itself from debates past (when they booed gay veterans, people without healthcare, and criticizing torture). Not as many boos as expected when Kasich said he went to a gay friend's wedding. Progress I guess or a better understanding of how they look on TV.

8.)That last question about God - How refreshing it would be to have a political candidate answer that by saying "There is no God. I rely on common sense and logic and negotiation. I take strength from my sense of responsibility and from good people around me but not from superstition and something that isn't real" but it's very hard to imagine an atheist getting elected in America and that's too bad.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Watched the Voters First Forum sponsored by the Union Leader newspaper in New Hampshire. This is kind of a warm-up to the first official Republican debate on the 6th. The candidates did not address each other. Rather they were interviewed one after another for about five minutes by a moderator at Saint Anselms College then came back for a second five minute interview. Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Lindsay Graham, George Pataki were in attendance. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio participated by video and Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee were not there.

It seemed to be tightly scripted with softball questions and no room for the candidate to make a mistake. Some things that got through -

Dumbest comment - When asked about ISIS, Fiorina babbled on about what a great guy King Hussein is and what great allies the Saudi royal family are. What rubbish! King Hussein and the Saudi royals are corrupt decadent scumbags on the US dole. The Saudis were both likely involved in 09/11 and run one of the most repressive countries in the world where rape victims and the mentally handicapped are often executed and women cannot drive or do much of anything. They are no better than ISIS itself a US-Israeli construct in order to further achieve US hegemony.  The Fiorina candidacy is baffling. The only real position of consequence she has had, CEO of Hewlett Packard, she was a complete failure at

Interesting Idea - Rand Paul suggested making student loan payments tax deductible (currently only a certain amount of the interest is). I would have to look at this further but on the face of it that seems to be a good idea. Certainly more immediately doable than Bernie Sanders plan for free college tuition.

Best speaker - The fact that John Kasich is quickly moving up the polls and likely to qualify when the first tier debate participants are revealed tomorrow is a tribute to his speaking skills and his ability to pare down an idea to an understandable essence without losing the meaning or condescending to the audience. Something all speakers should aim for. Kasich has lot of Jon Huntsman 2012 ex-campaign staff working for him but is a much more disciplined better financed candidate than Huntsman was. It seems the gay rumors from the 90's have had no traction. He would be a formidable general election candidate. Kasich is not a moderate but fools people by talking like one and looks better in comparison with all the other clowns.

The forum can be viewed here


If the Republican presidential candidates had balls, during next week's debate they would not acknowledge Donald Trump and turn their backs on him when he speaks. Truth is though many of them have said offensive things just as bad or worse than Trump.

I still think Trump is a troll, pick your conspiracy theory - He's helping Hillary, he's a stalking horse for Ted Cruz etc. but I now think there is actually a chance he could win the Repub nomination. He's ahead in every early primary state except for Iowa. He's the right mouthpiece for that kneejerk mindless anger that seems so prevalent these days. I assumed he'd have flamed out by now but every offensive comment he makes seems to be greeted by "right on" by a large chunk of the Republican electorate.

Trump as agent of Hillary makes a lot of sense as they have a lot of history together and as I pointed out earlier Trump based on his past words on the issues is hardly a conservative. 

As for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton can't even discuss the keystone pipeline or commit to a minimum wage increase. She's mired in scandals with more to come (And I think the email scandal is a lot more serious than people realize). I believe if she is the Dem nominee she will lose to anyone other than Trump (and Jeb Bush) despite what polls may say and they are getting worse for her. We will see what happens in the debates but I imagine they will play into Trump's showmanship.

Also of note is the rise of the term describe those Republican viewed as insufficiently conservative primarily on immigration. This is impugning their manhood as the type of man who would allow their wives to sleep with other people. 

The good thing about this is it further shreds the Republican Party a break-up I have seen coming for a long time. Also good is those who are anti-cuckservative also have listed fealty to Israel as one sign of being one. A strong conservative movement that is anti-intervention and hence anti-Israel and allowing a foreign government to dictate American foreign policy is a good thing. Two of the best anti-empire candidates of the last several decades, maybe the two best, were conservatives - Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan.

The bad thing is many of those rallying behind this new term are "race realists" and immigration nativists. Those who believe black people have lower IQs then other races and embrace the discredited science of the Bell Curve as gospel. They also are against most forms of immigration. I myself am opposed to blanket amnesty and drivers licenses for illegal aliens and sanctuary cites and other things of that nature but I do believe in legal immigration. Immigrants with something to offer are a blood transfusion for the USA keeping the job base fresh and vital. I also believe that countries adversely affected by American foreign policy whose citizens are fleeing the results of American imperialism like Iraq, Honduras, Yemen deserve asylum in the US. In the words of Colin Powell, "you break it, you bought it".