Lessons Learned from Election 2012

On November 13, 2012, in Past Morning Briefs, by David

With last Tuesday’s decisions finalized, thankfully without the need of Supreme Court intervention, let’s take a look at the hits and misses of the campaign and the vote so we can learn our lessons and focus on the future.

LESSON 1

The Undecided Voter Isn’t So Dumb After All

You can’t really blame a voter for not loving their choices in the past election. In my opinion, Barack Obama has done a fantastic job as President, under epically difficult circumstances. But the Democratic Party, Obama’s campaign, and $6 billion dollars worth of mostly negative campaign FUD never really clarified what we were voting for. So when it comes down to a few million people not thrilled with what they’re hearing having to make a decision on imperfect to downright untruthful campaign fodder, we are all lucky they got it so very right.

LESSON 2

Americans Aren’t Engaged Enough in the Process

Ultimately, the American people are going to have to do some reckoning about their politics. The Parties are too narrow and not serving our interests. Moreover, the People are fundamentally disinterested, uninformed, and unwilling to engage in meaningful debate about the election process, except for those times when “crisis” is invoked. Politicians are not proactive in responding to their constituents (unless the constituent is money), and Citizens are not proactively taking action to ensure a government that works. For example, the House of Representatives has a 15% approval rating, and yet we elected the exact same majority we did two years ago. Are politicians to blame? Yes. Are the American people to blame, too? Yes again.

LESSON 3

Being Rich and/or Powerful Doesn’t Necessarily Make You Smart

Thank you Karl Rove and Donald Trump for putting cherries on top of a nearly perfect Election Day. Victories by Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren (perhaps the most compelling candidate in the whole election) along with defeats by Rape Foot-In-Mouthers Akin and Mourdock, the unseating of nimrod Allen West and the near-defeat of ding-a-ling Michelle Bachmann all give America much to be thankful for heading into Turkey Day.

Rove’s on-camera meltdown may have been one of the most satisfying (if temporary) political reversals of fortune ever. And it happened on Fox! If any of you ever have the pleasure of dropping $400 million of influence on a country’s election, and if you happen to support a bunch of losing candidates with that investment, I hope you will wind up with $400 million or more of valuable self-knowledge. Having the most voi$e out of 300 million other fellow Americans is as privileged a position as there is in the world. If you can’t handle that with grace, class, and an understanding of simple math, maybe you shouldn’t be in charge of so much capital.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s deranged Tweeting rampage further reinforces the conviction that above and beyond the money, the property, the self-promotion, the bluster, the ego, the hair, and the general misanthropy, Mr. Trump is himself a Deranged Tweet.

You want Smart? Try Nate Silver, Elizabeth Warren, Jon Stewart, Joe Biden, and our own President Obama for starters.

LESSON 4

Rules of Social Etiquette Apply in the Macro and Micro

It’s one thing to be cynical enough to run a Presidential Campaign on alleged standing as a Financial Genius when your wealth and reputation were built on the calamities of millions of your American peers. It’s another to whisper sweet nothings to voters in public while speaking pure ill of the masses (i.e., 47%ers) in private. And it’s yet another thing to make up a story about how cutting taxes on yourself and all your wealthy peers will actually result in more revenues for the Federal government when the math says otherwise. Personal integrity matters. Don’t talk behind others’ backs. Do unto others. And not just the wealthy others.

LESSON 5

Lose With Grace and Dignity, Please

Mr. Romney’s concession speech was the most honest and sincere moment of his entire campaign. I was turned off by the cynicism, lack of real ideas, unwillingness to disclose pertinent information, and the overall shallowness of his campaign. But he conceded admirably and I’m almost certain his failings are as closely linked to a lack of self-awareness as they are to a pathological lack of integrity (see Rove and Trump, above).

My hopes and prayers are that the vocal minority will take at least a step toward the greater good, setting a course for individual and collective success. Obstruction has gotten us nowhere from 2010 to 2012. If constructive collaboration becomes the best phrase to describe the next two years, we will all be the better for it.

LESSON 6

The Social Agenda of the 20th Century Won’t Cut It in Century 21

Maybe there is a New Majority in the US. Maybe it isn’t just about white men and the people they influence when it comes to vote. Perhaps the increasing numbers of Asians, Latinos, Women, Young Adults, Gays and nearly every other demographic other than Caucasian Men (the one I happen to be in) voting overwhelmingly for Democrats is a transparently wrapped message for Conservatives, especially Ultra-Conservatives. And the message isn’t, let’s deport everyone who isn’t white.

The rape dialogue was a disgrace. Alienating women by massacring women’s rights vis-à-vis abortion backfired badly. Thinly veiled racism isn’t very invisible when the discrimination is pointed at you. The immigration policy war of words has had an impact on the national level. It may even lead to Republicans losing power in Texas. Read that twice just to be sure: It may even lead to Republicans losing power in Texas. Ooh. Ow.

LESSON 7

Math and Science are Real

The Ultra-Cons don’t believe in Climate Change. And they didn’t believe the polls going into the election. Although they do believe in owning the voting machines on Election Day. No one has ever accused Conservatives of not knowing where the bread is buttered.

Which is why it’s not surprising that some conservative pundits, including Dick Morris, have fessed up to making up election data to sway undecideds with the “news” that Romney was doing better in the polls than he really was. If you don’t believe in numbers, there’s nothing wrong with making some up.

After this election, in which New York Times math wiz Nate Silver correctly predicted all 50 states (he got 49 right in 2008), the polls were actually under-stating Obama’s popular vote and electoral vote leads, and everything went pretty much the way everyone (who believes in math) thought they would, Conservatives who can count have increased their power base within the party.

Then there’s the electoral math whereby a candidate focused on 1% of the voters (some of whom are Liberal to begin with) proceeds to alienate women, the youth vote, every single race that isn’t the Caucasian one, Liberals and the 47% would seem unlikely to carry a majority of votes in the States and/or the Electoral College. Which makes one wonder how they got 48% of the vote when all was said and done (ahem, Tax Cuts).

And if Math 101 in 2012 wasn’t enough, Hurricane Sandy’s profound timing put an exclamation point on Climate Change Doubters’ question mark by inundating the city of New York and the Jersey Coast. God? Nature? Science? Maybe All of the Above?

LESSON 8

The Only Way To Go is Forward

The 2012 Elections were one good idea away from having one good idea. Had any candidates – other than Elizabeth Warren, who has lots of good ideas, and the big-picture success of the Obama Administration – shown a knack for forward-thinking or big ideas, Tuesday might have been a decidedly different day. Mitt Romney’s Five-Point Plan was 5 points shy of having a point. 3 points shy, a specific tax loophole mentioned here or there, and who knows? That’s too close for comfort if you ask me.

I have a few not-so-original ideas about how the next four years might look (like 1996-2000 minus the Lewinsky scandal; slash military spending, return tax rates to 1998, less regressive social dialogue…) and, for starters, one original, new idea that I’ll share with you now:

There is approximately $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in U.S. revenue currently in foreign countries, and a debate about whether to tax that money at 35% (current policy), 5% (the Republican plan), or somewhere in between.

I’m a fan of somewhere in between. Five-percent is a non-starter. We are $16 trillion in debt. No radical tax holidays until that number is below, say $10 trillion, OK? But the way to make sure that the money we repatriate in any level of tax discount is put towards job creation is to make policy that specifically rewards job creation.

You want a tax discount to 30% plus incentives? OK. Put the tax money in an escrow-type account and distribute the funds back to corporations who create new jobs. They can pay down new salaries (rather than re-hire already existing positions) as well as healthcare benefits using the credited taxes. Let them do whatever they want with the remaining 70%. If we’re going to take a penny less in taxes from corporations who have leveraged America’s standing to make big bucks overseas, let’s push as many dollars as we can towards job creation.

Conversely, if we don’t want the government in the job creation business, let’s not pretend that tax cuts are a viable form of job creation. Tax cuts for the wealthy are entitlements for the rich. Let’s start moving entitlements for the wealthy towards incentivized policy that will benefit everyone and we will all be better off. And why should all of us be better off?

 

GObama GObama GObama !!!

On November 6, 2012, in Past Morning Briefs, by David

I’m not going to make this about what might happen if Mitt Romney is elected President, because, frankly, it’s unthinkable. I’m not going to make this about Republican racism, or sexism…the Republican War On Women or the Republican War Against FreeWill, or the Republican War to Redefine the Definition of Rape and Other Thinly Veiled Conservative Hate Speech. I’m not going to do it, and you can’t make me.

I have no intention of reminding you about the diseased economy that the Bush Administration handed President Barack Obama in 2008. Or discussing the Karl Rove Foundation to Enslave Humanity’s $300 Million Campaign to trick American voters in 2012. Or bringing up the Republican Congress’ Conspiracy of Obstinacy.

I’m not going to take the last few moments before Decision 2012 to dwell on any of those things because they are negative, and nasty, and quite frankly beneath the dignity of this country. They’re beneath the People of the World who desperately need America to rise above the shenanigans of a vocal minority of pathological Ultra-Conservative zealots and pseudo-ignoramus theocrats so we can continue the slow but steady process of fixing what Bush and Co broke. So let’s be clear about that.

What I’d like to do is take a moment to say THANK YOU to Barack Obama, who has somehow managed to turn the tide of stupidity that marked the first 8 years of this millennium and give us at least a tiny bit of HOPE via CHANGE. Just like his campaign promised. Barack and Crew put a tourniquet on the hemorrhage of unemployment, helped to reverse the freefall of the stock market and increase the value of the dollar. Since 2008 we’ve had upticks in consumer confidence and private sector jobs, and corresponding increases in American pride, along with the vastly improved standing of our country in the Eyes of the World.

At long last, the beginnings of a viable Health Care Package to upgrade an inhumane health care system that had become the number one source of bankruptcy prior to deregulation crashed the banking system. Barack Obama’s administration finally put an end to the multi-trillion dollar Ultra-Con boondoggle that was the War in Iraq — the real culprit leading to the explosion of the U.S. National Debt. President Obama ordered the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

The first four years of his presidency have rehabilitated the perception of this country and the U.S. Presidency itself by virtue of his diligence and hard work. By the way, through last Wednesday, President Obama took 72 days of “vacation” in his first 3 5/6 years in office. Compare that to 1020 days for George W. Bush in 8 years. That’s one thousand and twenty vs. seventy-two.

Not that it matters because it’s not going to happen, but no one can tell you what a Mitt Romney Presidency would actually look like because he has retracted or contradicted every assertion he made on the campaign trail in his shameless, integrity-free, desperate chase for the brass Oval ring. On the other hand, we can be pretty sure what the next four years will look like, especially if we continue to out the Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks and Scott Browns and Paul Ryans of the world so that we can dislodge the Republican obstructionism that’s held us back from an even faster recovery.

The second four years of the Bill Clinton Presidency might have been the best four years of the last 40. Let’s hope the next four years with President Barack Obama can extend the process of unlocking this country’s tremendous potential and continue to undo the damage of the Ultra-Cons. So I can continue to not have to talk about their epic mis-deeds for many years to come.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for voting today. Thanks for being a part of this Grand Experience.

 

Master Debators

On October 4, 2012, in Past Morning Briefs, by David

If you watched the first of three Presidential debates last night like I did you likely came to the same conclusion that many have, including all sides of the mainstream media – Mitt Romney won.

Let me repeat that: Romney won the debate. I won’t say fair and square because it wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t square, but he kicked President Obama’s ass up and down that stage last night in Denver and it’s as much Obama’s responsibility that it got away from him as it is to Romney’s credit that he won in just about every category you can a debate in. Except for a couple of very important ones.

Last night’s debate was the equivalent of a baseball team losing Game 1 of the World Series 10-2. We better not be looking at a sweep because we can’t afford to have a Mitt Romney presidency, a fact even more apparent after last night. But first, let’s take a look at what the President did wrong and needs to improve upon if he’s going to turn around the massive turn-around that happened last night.

First, he needs more and better energy. The President seemed at turns tired, frustrated, annoyed, flustered, ineffectively long-winded, searching to organize his thoughts while he spoke, and generally not in good fighting form. If we lived in a more advanced society with a more informed and engaged electorate, some of these things might not matter so much. Though many of them would. But the President’s energy and demeanor were almost as much a cause for him losing the debate last night as the two more substantial reasons, and has got to change in debates two and three.

What are the two more substantial reasons, you might ask? First, Obama had no meaningful, concise takeaways from the night. Call them zingers, call them talking points, call them Madison Avenue-style taglines, the President has got to be able to sum up his policies, his record, and his vision in a way that can be spoon-fed to the American public or he will fail in his bid to gain re-election.

One of many things Mitt Romney did well last night was speak directly to the people who can help him win the election. He lied his ass off from start to finish, both about his “plan” (or lack thereof), the President’s record, and a ton of statistics about the American economy, but it only matters inasmuch as having real facts in play will effect our real lives should this incredibly dishonest and irresponsibly unqualified socio-political aristocrat ascend to the Presidency.

However, getting elected President right now is as much (or more) about selling the idea of your Presidency as it is selling yourself as a good candidate to do a tremendously difficult job. How else can you explain how America elects and re-elects a George W. Bush President? Other than the fact that he stole the first election in Florida.

George W. Bush is the worst President this country has ever seen, by several country miles, in its illustrious history, and Barack Obama may be one of if not the best. But if Mitt Romney can sell the American people the idea Barack Obama is the worst President ever, he will win in November. That’s the sales job he’s trying to do, and he was the winning salesman Wednesday night.

If President Obama believes that because he’s President, because he’s done a tremendous job under difficult circumstances, because he ultimately has truth and competence on his side, and because what Mitt Romney is selling is bullshit about the past and blatant fantasies about the future, he is wrong. Dead wrong. There is a sales job to be done here, and even a sitting President can’t be above that.

Selling sucks. It’s hard work, requires lots of lying and BS, and can often be a truly thankless job, especially when you don’t get the sale. It’s OK, even great, to be the salesman who doesn’t lie, BS and oversell. But it makes the job even harder, and thus you have to be willing to work even harder to make that “good” sale. After four years of carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders every day, does President Obama have the energy to execute on the sales part of this election? I certainly hope so.

Issues and ideas Obama left almost completely untouched last night: the 47% fiasco, government shouldn’t tell people what medical services they can have and yet the Republicans emphatically oppose a women’s right to choose, Romney hasn’t mentioned one loophole he would close. Not 1!! The President should have outright dared Mitt to name a specific in his plan. He should have asked for three, and said he’d be encouraged to hear one. Slam-dunk not even attempted.

The second substantial place where the President failed to get the debate job done last night is arguably more important than the first, especially in this election. Sure the absence of a clearly articulated vision is an issue, along with his meandering prose, the lack of concise take-aways, and the maddening penchant for waxing on and on about his beloved Great Aunt who, along with 47-90% of the American people) Mitt Romney and his elitist conservative billionaire friends could care less about.

Romney’s Job One last night was articulating a vision, as well as climbing out from under the well-deserved impression that he was an incompetent asshole with utter disdain for the majority of the electorate. Obama is a sitting President who has done an extraordinary job under near-impossible circumstances, and the truth is on his side, and the side of the work he’s doing.

Which is why President Obama should be armed mentally and literally with tons of information and real, verifiable statistics that he can refer to supporting both the factual achievements of his first four years in office, and refuting the unprecedented avalanche of lies that Romney uttered all night long. The truth is on Obama’s side, but if he can’t summon up the information to back up his achievements he’s going to lose the election. Right or wrong.

Points last night where Obama needed a long and verifiable list of facts to refute Romney’s lies and tremendous twists of factoids included: the dollars worth of closed loopholes it would take to offset a $5 trillion tax break (could take $20 trillion in closed loopholes to make up for that revenue…), Romney’s $760 billion healthcare claim (a hugely deceptive comment left completely unrefuted), the $100 billion in green tax breaks versus $2 billion a year for the oil companies (how about a $10 trillion war in Iraq fought for the oil?), and the 42% of GDP comment from Romney comparing us to Spain when the real number is that we spend 24% of our GDP

Romney dropped his un-facts, by the way, with an affable-enough grin on his face which, though forced, also reinforced that not only was this candidate capable of articulating an idea or two (vague or mathematically impossible though they may be), he’s also not the socially inept ideological horse’s ass he’s betrayed himself to be for the last month of this campaign. Had Sarah Palin pulled off an act like this in her debate, who knows who would have been debating on that stage last night, both as incumbent, and as challenger. Shudder to think that.

And yet, shudder to think that the President can’t come up with efforts in the next two debates that will leave last night’s lackluster performance in history’s dustbin. One concern is that the President may be insulated by Yes-Persons and staffers who will convince him that he needs to remain “above the fray” and thus more Presidential. Or even worse, that last night’s debate was not a fiasco. It was. Last night’s debate was one of the low-lights in the history of this country, while at the same time one of the highlights of Mitt Romney’s life. Much in the same way that 9/11 was a low-light for New York while simultaneously being the greatest gift America’s Radical Right ever received.

Did Obama seem more Presidential to you last night? In the real world, he’s the guy who’s doing a great job leading this country. In the imaginary world of faeries and unicorns, where a disturbingly high percentage of the American public both lives and votes (47% is too high; 5% is too high), the President’s challenger clearly has the ability to lie like Nixon, seem not fully responsible like Reagan and W., and act like he’s got a plan like Palin and at the same time win the first Presidential Debate.

Let’s hope, for all of our sakes, President Obama brings a more vital offense in the form of easy-to-understand statements of his achievements and vision, along with a much stronger defense, namely, facts to refute Mitt’s cavalcade of lies, to the next of these Dog-and-Ponies. Because while winning a debate doesn’t make Romney qualified to actually be President, not winning a debate makes Obama vulnerable to lose the election. And America simply can’t let Romney finish the job George W. Bush and Company started.

 

Romneyfied!!

On September 26, 2012, in Past Morning Briefs, by David

I’m itching to talk about what an historically, epically incompetent candidate Mitt Romney is. But he’s done such a good job making the case all by himself. Is it safe to say he’s making George W Bush seem like the Martha Stewart of the Right?

Now that the cynical — not to mention mathematically impossible — strategy of cutting taxes in the name of Debt Reduction will henceforth be known as The 47% Solution, are we finally safe from this double-talking, silver-spoon wielding, infinitely out of touch elitist-ocrat?

You'll get nothing and like it!!

Maybe not, but it’s looking a lot better for the “rest of us” with his campaign on the ropes. With his Let Them Eat Cake 2012 gambits, Romney has put a number on his disdain for all non-billionaires. Thanks to hidden camera technology outing the self-serving narcissism behind his Less-Taxes-For-The-Rich-With-Loopholes-To-Be-Eliminated-Later stratagem, a lot of questions are being answered (de-facto):

Q: Why so few details in the Romney Economic Plan?
A: Because the “Plan” is called Screw the Other 99% Without Letting Them Know.

Q: Is Trickle-Down Economics really another name for the Screw the Other 99% Without Letting Them Know Plan?
A: Yes.

Q: Can a candidate who is shifty like Nixon, sheltered like Reagan, latently unintelligent like Quayle, smug and condescending as a W., and willfully ignorant a la Palin lay low long enough to avoid exposure as supremely unqualified to be President of the United States?
A: Um, No. Hopefully.

Now that Romney has pooched this race so badly he’s even gotten the mainstream Republican media on his case — something W. managed to avoid until long after he’d been “elected” twice — we’re getting the chance to see what a cornered Mitt looks and sounds like (hint: it’s not pretty), plus the rare moment that the Democrats can go for the jugular. It’s easier to do so when the other party is so off-the-charts cuckoo.

Apparently the conservative platform includes the following planks:

1) There is a difference between “rape” and “forcible rape.” Nice use of semantics, Guys.

2) A woman’s body is able to selectively fend off pregnancy from unwanted insemination, therefore negating the need for that out-dated twentieth century invention, birth control.

3) The lazy, under-achieving 47% who don’t pay taxes because sales tax and Social Security tax and real estate taxes, etc. aren’t really taxes (?), don’t get the genius of the trickle-down economy and thus don’t deserve the sporadic stream that the upper class have been trickling down on them for the last several decades. (Tag-line: This Trickle-Down Economy Needs Flomax!)

4) When 1% of the country controls 90% of the wealth, that’s The American Dream in action. When the other 99% attempt to address these economic inequities, it’s Class Warfare.

5) If you don’t have anything nice to say, obstruct the President, accuse him of being a Muslim, and keep on cutting your own taxes.

6) Any religious ideology that isn’t Judeo-Christian is pure evil. Any religion that is Judeo-Christian (or the ordained Capitalist ministry of the holy $$$) is inherently righteous.

Religion: not a fan. I believe it’s the cause of 90% of the world’s war and strife, and 95% of all human hypocrisy. But if we don’t learn how to be the leaders of the free world in terms of respecting everyone’s right to practice their personal religion freely in private, we are going to escalate violence every single time.

Yeah, it’s not great that the penalty for blaspheming the Islamic deity is death. Kind of harsh. But is it the most important part of our freedom of speech that we get to blaspheme other people’s Gods? I would argue that our freedoms end when other’s freedoms begin. For example, it’s great to express yourself by juggling chainsaws, but not when you’re in a crowded movie theatre.

The anti-Muslim propaganda film/trailer “The Real Life of Muhammad” appears to exist solely to offend the sensibilities of the Middle Eastern culture that’s still angry with America for our brutal and unnecessary invasion of Iraq. If you’ve watched this film, actually watched it, you would see how blatantly inflammatory it was meant to be. And it worked.

I would liken the intent of this film to the intent of, say, Saturday Night Live airing a sketch on Yom Kippur portraying the holocaust as a complete and utter fiction, making light of the mass murder of 6 million Jews in WWII and making Hitler seem like a misunderstood genius. What would the reaction be to that, do you think? I’m not saying it should be illegal to do so. It probably shouldn’t be. But I’m also saying, “Why do it?” Because if you do, you’ll be asking for it. And the director – Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, aka, Sam Bacile (aka Im Becile?) – got it.

You haven’t really arrived as an anti-Islam propaganda director until you’ve got your own fatwa. Rites of passage, indeed.

Nice of Mitt to step into the fray by immediately inserting his foot into his sliver-spoon coddled mouth. The former governor of Massachusetts – nice one, Massachusetts! – and his mean wife Ann are finding that it’s much easier to win a nomination from the Newts, Hermans and Sanitariums of the world by spouting myopic clap-trap than it is to get elected against a guy who’s done a pretty good job under lousy circumstances bequeathed by the last belligerent, out of touch Conservative Chief Exec.

Not that we’re out of the woods yet. Like a tick whose best friend is Rush Limbaugh, Mitt and Co have six more weeks to convince us that their particular brand of Lyme Disease is really ObamaCare on steroids. Hey, his “Shoot First, Ask Questions Later” foreign policy plan is still extremely popular in Florida. So I’m not counting my chickens till all the votes are counted. And not counted. And re-counted.

 

Playa Confessional

On September 11, 2012, in Past Morning Briefs, by David


As ever, I am astounded, baffled and extremely extended by my sojourn to and from Burning Man. Say what you want, plan all you will, you never know what you’re going to get from that dusty box of chocolates till you take a bite. And even then who really knows for sure if it’s the luscious crème of cocoa, or just…dust.

Unlike many, whose journey included the process of finding a 2012 ticket out of scarcity (which ultimately morphed to abundance), my ticket and commitment to a 7th consecutive burn was sealed in Round 2 of the controversial, all but forgotten lottery. Going all the way I was, which is usually a good thing for this Gemini.

Ah, but good or bad…who’s to say? I’m sure I’ll be pondering this Burn for a great long while, playa-moments moving in and out of consciousness like psychic soul puzzles as the next 50 weeks of calendar time unfold. We ignore the messages of the playa, and our friends and peers and everything else for that matter, at our own peril. One trick I’m trying to teach myself is to ponder without obsessing, to analyze without picking to death, and to do my best to turn all the moments and lessons, high and low, into the rocket fuel of my lateral existences.

I’m a big believer in the transformative nature of the Playa. I have seen first hand how Burning Man has planted seeds in individuals, and in turn these individuals become catalysts within our society. Burning Man is much bigger than going to Burning Man, as evidenced by the numerical truth that there are more people who want to go than there are tickets. Its guiding principals transcend Playa-time and inform our evolving sense of community and culture.

As ever, I am always impressed by the ability of the Burning Man community to band together, co-create, and deliver an unrivaled experience to all who attend. It is, I reckon, a container and we are the payload. More power to all who make the pilgrimage, and commit whatever we will to the greater community, as well as the benefits to the evolution of ourselves. One of the biggest prizes of the journey. Difficult to explain, and way way more than sex, drugs and rock and roll. Promise.

If you’re curious, and you’ve never been, indulge yourself one day, buck up, and get there. I promise you the challenges have nothing to do with what you think the challenges will be. And the rewards are on a level beyond all other vacations, adventures, road trips, etc. when you commit, participate, listen, and let go.

Big lessons of the last year going into 2012 Burn:

1. When I say something about someone else, I’m usually also saying it about myself.
2. Butterflies mean you care. I am learning to treat performing like an athlete treats a big game. Physically and mentally.
3. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
4. Checking my ego with humility.

My commitment for this year’s Burn:

1. To curate the best possible lineup of music for the biggest and one of the best run institutions on the Playa – Disorient.
2. Be there to facilitate the performance, and experience, for all to cross-pollinate international talent connections with the Disorient crew and vibe.
3. Offer these opportunities to play music to fellow DJs without expecting anything in return.
4. To live with integrity within my commitments, and experience the rest of Burning Man beyond DJing, curating music, and participating in camp.
5. Take care of myself physically, without enabling injury or exhaustion.
6. Come back ready to rock and continue to produce new material from Day 1.
7. Take a look at the way I react to challenges and crises to continue being the best I can be “in the moment.”

Intentional take aways from this year’s Burn (related to my personal commitments):

1. Wrangling cars can be tricky.
2. The playa provides.
3. Preparation is our ally.
4. I only need half the things I bring with me. Next year, bring less.
5. The playa diet always works.
6. If it seems like a bad idea before leaving for the Playa, it will probably turn out to be an even worse idea on the Playa. Maybe not, but probably so.
7. Ask first, how have I created this?

Unintentional take aways from this year’s Burn:

1. For someone who has the ability to delight and sometimes even astound, I can – in my worst moments – be a bitter pill to friends and casual observers.
2. It’s both what I do, and the way that I do it that counts.
3. I almost never quit, contrary at times to good sense but usually to my benefit (and occasionally the benefit of the greater good).
4. Try as I might to keep my best-intended commitments, doing things that call for collaboration require an understanding that all who participate may not share my agenda and priorities, well-intentioned or otherwise.
5. Expectation and entitlement are not our allies. As ever.

That’s all I’ve got for now. May amend later.

Attempting to provide a list of friends and colleagues to give thanks. People, and our collective experience, are what matter, and I am completing a lap that took me to the darkest regions of wanting and having things to respecting the amazing gifts that we and our connectedness bring to each precious day.

With love, humility, self-reflection, pride and gratitude…

Loomer.

Rebecca/Ruby – co-pilot extraordinaire
Ted Werth
Hruby Maiers
Ky Nguyen
The Eye
Steve and Giggity
Michael – Driver to the Stars
Matt P for being in the right place at the right time; knew you’d figure it out
Deidre (thanks for the ice!! More than I could ask for 🙂
Jesse – Nice rally!!!
Arturo – great voyage for you. Very proud.
Bacon and Victoria
Sara
Eva – partner in crime Delivers.
EZ and the Crew of the Blackbird
JD
DivaDanielle
Mindy (ink & pencil)
Topher – Good Man!
Camp Charlie and the Unicorn Crew
Pumpkin (your sunrise set rocked and ruled)
The Blackbird
The entire crew of the Blackbird – love, respect, empathy and thanks
Coyoti – our communication turned the tide
Virginia
Nemo & the crew of Nautilus X
Diva, Wolfie, Cos, Jeff, Jackie, BC, Todd and Ron for a perfect Thursday night
Connie
Kimba
Syd – thanks for understanding; you will reimbursed literally and kharmic-ly many fold.
L & J Greenbot – many-fold
All Homeslicers
All PlayaSurfers
The Steampunk Saloon
Donald – Spaceman, you grew 10 years younger on the playa; happy to see it
Adam Freeland – great as you are, better than imagined
Marques Wyatt for 3 hours of pure bliss after the Burn
Rox – awesome Burn!
Saadhu/Peter – you are always there in spirit, Bro
CTC/CT3 – Large and in charge
Ally – back at ya!
Nick – thanks for a hook-up on the Unicorn Tuesday night
Friar Tuck
All who gave all at Disorient
Cos, Ana, Jeff and Joane
Pope and Napalm
Felguk and Lazy Rich – gotcha!
Professor Lacroix – heard it all; best Dome set of the week (for me)
Beau Robb – except for Beau 😉
Fleetwood Smack – respect!
Brandy – rock star moment!
Wall Street – they rocked it so hard Thursday night they couldn’t burn it down till Saturday
Jessica – Temple Burn moment
Mikey
Corey Endeavor Rosen
Playa Barbie!
Warring – the eyes have it
Farilla & See
Diggs – with a <3 as big as the Playa

 

 

Bring The Awesome

Coachella 2012 Week 1 is in the books, and for those who wanted a do-over because they were unable to catch one or more of Weekend 1’s can’t miss moments, Coachella 2012 is for you.

Modeselektor, Mojave, Sunday

There’s no getting around it: the vibe has changed. Yes, Coachella is still an important festival, and a great time. But it’s also increasingly become more rave-like as opposed to the eclectic, music-lover’s experiment it started out to be. Not just because of the dance music influence. In fact, Coachella could use another dance experience for a range of up and coming DJ/Producers more akin to the Gobi than the Sahara. The median age of festival-goers is dipping into the low 20s and as it approaches the teens, it’s going to be difficult to tell the difference between Coachella and pure raves like Electric Daisy Carnival, save for the Feists of the world.

That said, even the worst weather of the festival’s history couldn’t put a damper on Friday. Parking in Lot 2A (find it) by 3, I slogged through not one but two security checks and badge scans (why one wasn’t enough I do not know) and jumped into the fray with James on the Main Stage. I like the band, and their set was solid, but one of the secrets of my Coachella success is the AwesoMeter. Because there’s so much going on at one time (especially after sunset), if it ain’t awesome, I keep moving.

So I moved on into the Sahara Tent for SebastiAn’s likeable “Vote SebastiAn” set. French Electro House is big and getting bigger. And SebastiAn’s schtick was engaging and energetic without too much bombast. So I hung out a bit until the fist-pumping seemed superfluous and swung by the Outdoor Stage for Neon Indian. I was pleasantly surprised by the quirky but not too precious pop sound and the sly originality. Back to Sahara for Feed Me and some delectable electro-breaks that quickly became Big Dubstep. Good, but by no means ground-breaking. So onto Jimmy Cliff, cheerfully attempting to summon the sun with “I Can See Clearly Now,” and scoring with classics including “The Harder They Come” and “Many Rivers to Cross.”

Madeon, Friday, Sahara

Brief stops by GIRLS and Dawes, and then onto Madeon, a 17-year old electro house phenom who proceeded to drop what was, for me, the best set of the entire festival. The performance was beautifully paced, building in tempo, tone and drama, and ultimately delivering the emotional impact that I hope for when I catch a live music performance. One of the few acts was able to, and chose to, watch from beginning to end at the show, and the one I liked the most. Highest recommendations.

From Madeon to Madness, at the Outdoor Stage. Technically a ska band that crossed over by the end of the 80s, Madness’ stage show and sound felt big with its phenomenal horn section, and I loved it. M.Ward was too quiet for my mood at the moment, and Alessohad it going until the sound in the middle of the room fried out so I took a lap,

Madness, Friday, Outdoor Theatre

grabbed a bite to eat (Coachella really needs to work on the food options and pricing), caught a bit of Andy Caldwell rocking the Heineken Dome and headed over to Mazzy Star.

A fan of Hope Sandoval, and Mazzy Star’s earlier records, I was excited to see them live for the first time, and really enjoyed their set. The band was smoky and smooth, and Ms. Sandoval’s stage presence is epic. I caught most of the show, which closed with a swirling miasma of Awesome, before swinging by Atari Teenage Riot, whose blend of J-pop, punk rock, and MC Disco was both super cool and extremely funny. Loved it.

Afrojack‘s set at the Sahara was ultra-crowded, and his live set is good but not great, so I dropped by the Mojave Tent for a previous Coachella revelation, M83, but the sound there wasn’t loud enough for the crowd assembled (an issue that came up a couple of times over the weekend, especially at the Mojave and Sahara Tents), allowing me to catch plenty of The Black Keys on the Main Stage and the soaring guitars of Explosions in the Sky at the Outdoor Theatre, two of my favorite performances of the day.

I also was able to catch Stephan Jacob’s set  at the Do Lab Stage, and thought it was one of the best I’d seen all day at any of the Coachella Stages. Stephan has had a great year as both a producer and a live performer, and his glitch-EDM set was loaded with the variety, energy and originality I’ve found lacking from a majority of the glitch-dance genre that’s become ubiquitous in the last few years. Great stuff, and proof positive that Stephan has arrived.

Swedish House Mafia’s much anticipated set was very good and a lot of fun. A rare Sahara-caliber act appearing on the Main Stage (others I recall are Chemical Brothers and Tiesto), the trio sounded great and the stage show was very cool. I sensed the aspiration of a Daft Punk moment and while that didn’t happen, the show did bring the Awesome and closed a very good day of music with a sizable bang.

A swing by Amon Tobin’s incredible visual art installation with music was also worth while. The visuals are some of the best and most beautiful I’ve seen at a major musical artist’s show. However, I was a little under-whelmed by Amon Tobin’s soundtrack. Clearly this is an artistic experience first, as opposed to a musical one. And as such, it is a breakthrough. Had the music brought the awesome the show would have also been among the day’s best.

Pumpkin, Saturday, Do Lab

Friday’s Top 10

  1. Madeon
  2. Explosions in the Sky
  3. Swedish House Mafia
  4. Mazzy Star
  5. Madness
  6. SebastiAn
  7. Atari Teenage Riot
  8. The Black Keys
  9. Neon Indian
  10. Stephan Jacobs

I got off to a late start on Saturday, which ended up being a good thing, but did cause me to miss two acts I’d really wanted to see: fiREHOSE and the Buzzcocks. If you go to weekend 2 and manage to get there on Saturday by 4, please make some noise for the inimitable Mike Watt.

On the Polo Field, I began at the Do Lab stage and Pumpkin‘s always sunny performance. Pumpkin is also ready for prime time, and his set would be at home on several of the Coachella main stages. At the Sahara, Martin Solveig showcased the catchy, pop mentality that infused his dance-floor hits, culminating with last year’s monster “Hello.” Odd to end a show with a track called “Hello,” but it’s quite possible that if he played it first everyone would have left to check out other acts. Note to performers: if you’ve got that one huge hit in your repertoire, don’t drop it right away, build up to it.

Crossing back to the Main Stage I quickly sussed that Noel Gallagher’s Gnarly Wankers was basically an excuse to trot out a couple of Oasis oldies and put the burly-browed bad boy back on stage. Not Awesome. Speaking of Beatle-esque, I enjoyed Squeeze‘s sweet trip down memory lane. If you don’t know who Squeeze is, imagine a band that plays all the novelty songs from the Beatles catalogue like “Yellow Submarine” or “I Am the Walrus” without any of the “heavy” stuff.

Swedish House Mafia’s Sebastian Ingrosso is much better in Swedish House Mafia. His solo material sounded brainless and ultra-ravey. In a little bit of a Saturday funk, I stopped by a curiously quiet set by Jeff Mangum on the Outdoor Stage and got one of the best surprises of the festival. Beautiful show, great discovery, and a magical little closing number that brought down the house. The Shins were good, as they usually are, and Kasabian brought the Awesome in a big way and will certainly be rewarded with a great tour this summer.

From here on out Saturday’s music was sensational, and I really had to hustle to catch the better part of all the great stuff happening up to Radiohead’s Main Stage closer. Flying Lotus was very cool, and is a blast behind the decks, though I’m still not sure he distinguishes himself in the increasingly crowded glitch-hop genre like SBTRKT, which followed him. Brief stops at Feist and David Guetta (ravey electro) and an extremely satisfying 30 minutes of Bon Iver (far more Awesome than I’d imagined) before a precious few moments of Miike Snow (a huge Coachella favorite).

Much as I like Miike Snow, I was extremely curious about Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and found their 12-piece industrial rock improvisation to be a jazz-influenced take on acts like Sigur Ros or Mogwai. One of the reasons I love Coachella. And after four hours of terrific variety, I, and around 100,000 of my new best friends were treated to a 90-minute Radiohead set.

No need to describe it, really. 90 minutes of Radiohead is a big Yes any day of the week. And on Saturday, unless you absolutely must check out ASAP Rocky, SubFocus (who I heard was terrific) or Kaskade, if you happen to be on the Polo Field in Indio, CA you should probably brave the crowd and enjoy one of the best rock bands in the world.

Loomer, Sunday, Silent Disco

Saturday’s Top 10

  1. Radiohead
  2. Bon Iver
  3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  4. Kasabian
  5. Jeff Mangum
  6. Miike Snow
  7. Pumpkin
  8. SBTRKT
  9. Flying Lotus
  10. Squeeze

Between Saturday and Sunday, I had the good fortune to perform a sunrise set at Coachella. Thanks to Grasshopper, Spaceman D., Jared, and Rudelgin (who also got to do a rockin’ set) I played at the Silent Disco in the campgrounds which wasn’t so silent. We played all night and I was on through to the sunset, which we all reckoned was the first time anyone had ever gotten to do that because they usually shut off all the sound well before 2 a.m.. Strike up another win for the silent disco, and all the good folks who are making it happen.

The sun being up and all, I decided to stay at the Polo Field through Sunday to make sure I could catch as much music possible. Noisia rocked the noon hour with heavy drumstep and breaks. First Aid Kit, the female Peter, Bjorn and John, played their hit Emmylou and a few other songs that reminded me of the hit song by First Aid Kit, Emmylou. I’m a big fan of Flux Pavilion & Doctor P, but I think they were not well placed at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon. They should have been a closer, or at least playing after dark.

I love Santigold, and her set on the Main Stage was one of the best of the weekend. The band, her singing, her dancers, the tone, and that larger than life feeling made it a huge winner in the Sunday sunshine. Beats Antique had a great turnout at the Mojave, and I enjoyed the set both from up close in the tent, and from a distance, which gave the music some room to breathe. Check it out — if you move back a bit the music sounds really good in the open air of the Sunday afternoon.

This year, Sunday in the Sahara Tent is truly awesome. From 4 p.m. you have Porter Robinson, Dada Life (playing it a bit safe for my taste) and Nero, the booming dubstep duo that rocked it big time. Gotye plays a bunch of songs that are cleverly arranged and quirkily precious just like his big hit “Somebody That I Used To Know”. I’m a big fan of Justice, and their sunset show was fun if not consistently Awe-Inspiring. Girl Talk is excellent in the DJ format, and though it didn’t seem to make sense for that show at the Outdoor Stage, he really did a great job of building the set and taking his audience on a journey.

At the Drive-In (precursor to The Mars Volta) was solid but doesn’t blow doors like Mars Volta do. Florence + the Machine, who haven’t impressed me in the half dozen TV appearances I’ve seen them on, were great live and I feel like I’ve finally “got” them. DJ Shadow, who I think is one of the great performers in the world, didn’t really get me going this time around. Not sure if it was the night, or my mood. Seemed a little down-tempo to me. Modeselektor closed out the Mojave Tent with a killer performance. I’ve seen Modeselektor be good, and I’ve seen them be great, but their set at Coachella on Sunday was miles above.

To close the night, Mega-headliner extravaganza Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg was a lot of fun. Joined in person by Eminem and via hologram by Tupac, it was bigger and brighter than I would have guessed, and I enjoyed bouncing back and forth between Dre’s pop sensations and AVICII‘s big, happy house set that lasted over two hours at the Sahara. AVICII has something, and he’s going to get a chance to show the world on his big big tour coming this year. I’m not quite sure why he’s playing on a riser that’s a big, scary replica of his face morphed with the face of Michael Myers from the Halloween movies, but that detail aside the sound is really nice and eminently danceable. A sweet way to close down the weekend.

In conclusion — I’m a big fan of Coachella, and I’ll always believe in my heart that 36 hours of sunshine and a cross-section of some of the best musical acts in the world is a great way to spend a weekend in the spring. But the festival is also at a cross-roads. Having gone a long way to make it affordable as a music and camping event for teenagers and twenty-somethings, the promoters have maximized their event as a money-making machine at the expense of offering adults a less than awesome experience. It wouldn’t take all that much to change the trend — more seating, restrooms and shade for non-VIP customers, better and more reasonably priced food options, and a better entrance and exit experience for non-VIPs. For a $400 ticket, I don’t want to feel like a second class citizen. But I sure do love all of that music.

Sunday’s Top 10

  1. dada life, Sunday, Sahara

    Modeselektor

  2. Santigold
  3. Nero
  4. Florence + the Machine
  5. AVICII
  6. Beats Antique
  7. Girl Talk
  8. Dada Life
  9. Justice
  10. Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg

Festival Top 10

  1. Madeon
  2. Radiohead
  3. Modeselektor
  4. Bon Iver
  5. Explosions in the Sky
  6. Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  7. Santigold
  8. Nero
  9. Swedish House Mafia
  10. Mazzy Star

Sorry I Missed…

  1. fiREHOSE
  2. Buzzcocks
  3. Sub Focus
  4. The Rapture
  5. R3hab
  6. WU LYF
  7. Hello Seahorse!
  8. We Were Promised Jetpacks
  9. Hello Seahorse!
  10. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80

Fireworks at Night

Biggest Upside Surprises

  1. Bon Iver
  2. Jeff Mangum
  3. Explosions in the Sky
  4. Florence and the Machine
  5. Madeon
  6. Atari Teenage Riot
  7. Neon Indian
  8. Kasabian
  9. Florence and the Machine
  10. Nero

Biggest Downside Surprises

  1. M83
  2. Sebastian Ingrosso
  3. M.Ward
  4. DJ Shadow
  5. Justice
 

We Know

On January 25, 2012, in Past Morning Briefs, by David

We know, U.S. UltraCons.

We know that it was you who built and brought down the house of cards that was the Iraq War, the Mortgage and Credit Bubble, and the Wall Street massacre to jump start the biggest American financial quagmire in nearly a century.

We know that it’s been you who has built the lion’s share of our $13 trillion deficit by cutting taxes on the rich, starting an illegal war in Iraq, spending nearly $10 trillion off-budget to fill your own military-fueled financial interests, and digging a hole so deep that we’ve had to have emergency sessions to protect the world’s biggest economy from a bankruptcy you yourselves have master-minded.

The Dragon Knows

We know that it’s not just disingenuous of you to claim that Barack Obama is the cause of these economic and social maladies. We know that it’s not just politics or gamesmanship. We know that what you’re doing is nothing short of Orwellian double-speak, a well-poisoning lie crafted from your ever-expanding conservative dogma of lies — The War on Terror, The War on Drugs, Tax and Spend Liberals, Obama’s failed policies, The Liberal Media. On and on and on. We know how easily, ruthlessly, and consistently you perpetrate these lies, and we know for whom they are intended.

We know the reason why you are willing to spend money on everything under the sun except education, the arts, and social safety nets. We know why you hate the idea of making medicine more affordable and why you would sooner blow up the world than share all the money you make on guns, oil, bombs and death with the people whose sacrifices have given you the opportunity to control their money and their futures.

We know what you mean when you question the “birthplace” of Barack Obama. We know that even a century and a half after the Emancipation Proclamation there are many of you would love to have, in addition to all of your money, land, capital and power, the ability to make people who are not like you, whom you believe to be inferior, your servants. And we know that you have as many code words to mask your racist polemics as you do political maneuvers to make sure that the value of equality is as far from the American social dialogue as you can possibly displace it.

We know how much you hate everything that isn’t you or of you. And we know that it’s that hatred that, thanks to you, has brought much if not all of the Republican generated, completely unnecessary hardships we are facing in this country today.

We know that the political candidates you have trotted out for the 2012 election are easily the most shameful lot this nation has ever seen. Having set the bar so incredibly low with George W. Bush, you have managed to offer us nearly a dozen “hopefuls” who are – in defiance of logic and taste – as utterly lacking in intelligence, morality, integrity, good ideas and human warmth than W. and his angry overlord Dick Cheney.

We know that a two-man Republican race between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich for the world’s most powerful elected office is akin to asking Dan Quayle and Karl Rove to compete in a winner-take-all mud wrestling contest. And we know why you give your constituents choices that pit Mean vs. Dumb while the rest of us try valiantly to clean up the mess you selfish ultra-conservatives have made.

And finally, we know that while all of us are ultimately responsible for the condition of our country and world, past, present and future, and we all need to work together to fix these problems, the obstructionism shown by the Congress and the subjectivity displayed by conservative judicial nominees has kept us stuck in a ditch while you figure out how to achieve your one and only political objective: taking back The White House.

We know. Yes, we know, and we know something else. We know you’re not getting away with it. We know that ultimately you probably won’t nominate Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon and your parochial and prejudicial character won’t stand for it. And we know that you probably will nominate Newt Gingrich because he’s a good old boy who will viciously attack President Obama and continue to perpetrate the veil of confusion you find infinitely more expedient than hard work and good ideas.

We know that your brand of anti-dialogue with racist undertones is as dead as the military-industrial economy you keep valiantly trying to resurrect. We know that an old, mean, hypocritical racist like Newt Gingrich is going to fight like a hungry pig with rabies but ultimately fail because he has no good ideas that look forward. At all.

And we know that, in spite of the obfuscation, the doublespeak, and the cries to the contrary, the faster we move your bad ideas to the dustbin of history, the sooner we will accelerate what President Obama has already accomplished — preventing a depression, staunching the economic bleeding, and slowing the unemployment rate that exploded under Bush/Cheney by shifting resources from the over-compensated and the military back to the under-represented 99%. And, no thanks to you, he is trying to shift the burden of the biggest debt in the history of humankind back to the people who created it: you, the selfish, the mean, the mercenary rich. Perhaps if enough of your lousy candidates lose their offices, as they should, we’ll see some more progress on that.

We know. We know, Republican Party. We know, Tea-baggers. We know, Mitt and Michelle. We know, Newt and Herman, how you use your power to make up for your shortcomings as men. We know, Rick Santorum, you racist. We know, Sarah Palin, how much you like to kill things. We know, John Boehner, crying man, that your entire agenda is to obstruct and defeat Obama. We know, Big Media, why you’d sacrifice the free speech of everyone to recoup a few million dollars you’ve been too lazy to earn with innovation, the way that Apple does.

We know. And because we know, we will find a way.

 

People, Places & Things

On December 9, 2011, in Past Morning Briefs, by David

HERMAN’S MONSTER >>> Truly enjoying what a total freak show the Republican presidential nominations race has turned into. It’s a glimpse into the mediocrity and meanness of a party that has done nothing but bottom-feed on American politics, economics and society for nearly half a century. Trickle-down allusion intended.

Watching sociopath Michelle Bachman and insane zealot Rick Perry wind up like so much fly carcass on the windscreen has been almost as much fun as watching career Neanderthal bureaucrat Mitt Romney be overlooked for being too progressive. That we’re now on Newt Gingrich’s turn to get thrown under the bus is almost a step up for the party. The best they got is a guy who was exposed as a lying hypocrite culture assassin 14 years ago is a definite upgrade, especially from Horny Pizza Guy.

What more can you say about HPG Hermain Cain? Hand caught in the cookie jar, he did what every modern American politician does: Lie, Deny, Lie, Deceive, Obfuscate, Spin, Lie and Deny. Notice that he’s NOT ONCE admitted to any wrong doing, or given any legitimacy to the legion of women lining up to say he groped, fondled, made a pass at, or successfully bedded them. That’s not just what these politicians do, it’s what their “brain trust” tells them to do. And they do it. And it’s not working.

High Tech Harassers

Did Herman get Thomased, or did Clarence get Cained?

The only real way to handle these messes – and when I say mess, I’m talking about the *astonishing revelations” that this guy who merely seemed incompetent and unqualified is also a dog and a hypocrite – is to resign oneself to the truth. If the truth ain’t enough to get the job done, get another job. It also reminds me how close the word “election” is to the word “erection” in the English language. Think about it. Not for too long, though.

IS THAT THE BEST YOU GOT? >>> Whether it’s Newt Gingrich, or Mitt Romney, it really doesn’t matter and won’t next November. The bigger issue, and problem for Republicans, is something President Obama pointed out in his excellent 60 Minutes interview Sunday night. Today’s Republican agenda is not just antiquated and out of date (as it has been for all of my lifetime). It’s simply, straight up dead wrong about the application of capitalism in America.

Having pumped guns and the military for years beyond the time it was economically prudent to do so, Conservatives have successfully kept all of American oil resources safely under the control of the private aristocracy. Under George W. Bush they won and are still winning the battle to “deregulate” the American economy, and the direct result is the chaos that exists in the country and the world today.

Against all logic, societal benefit, and Darwinian law, America has remained dogmatic about so many things over the years. Religion. Creationism. Guns. Taxes. Deficits. But the biggest dogma of all is that Capitalism is some sort of perfect machine, something we need to enable, grease the skids, and give it (as a concept in dialogue, as a tool for preserving individual mega-wealth in practice), and it’s killing us. Literally.

And if you don’t agree, please refer to Karl Marx’ epic, thousand-page logical dissertation “Capital” that explains, in detail, how incredibly disastrous that would be for any society. If you haven’t read it yet, please do so immediately (I’ll wait…). When you get that what is happening was pre-saged to the letter by a Russian scholar over 100 years ago, you would agree that any political party that espouses continuing to move money to the upper class under the current set of economic conditions is choosing to steer the entire world straight into the abyss.

This goes for Republicans, NeoCon and other-wise, and the whole Libertarian movement, which will never be able to reconcile its give the money back ethos with a $15 trillion dollar debt. Anti-Tax Conservatives continue to throw every piece of fiscal spaghetti to the wall in hopes that it will stick without considering the one, simple, straightforward solution that not only makes sense but might even work — raising taxes on every class of income earner who can afford it. And that’s the way it is, and no Republican or Libertarian who makes raising taxes a non-starter can solve these issues any other way.

And because the conservative agenda, controlled by the likes of Grover Norquist, is not able to escape a fiscal dogma that can only doom us to failure, Barack Obama’s willingness to confront this faulty logic with plain speak and common sense is going to succeed both in theory and in reality. Look it up. Read the book. I don’t have to make it up because it was figured out by someone very smart a long time ago.

Mitt Romney may be very competent. Newt Gingrich may be very clever. Neither of them will be able to overturn the tenets of logic. And that’s why whoever wins the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 will lose the presidential race to the President next fall.

OCCUPY EQUALITY >>> The best thing about the Occupy Movement, which apparently was broken up by an unholy alliance between the Executive Office, Department of Homeland Security, and state and local governments, is that it has gotten the world, and by the world, I mean people who aren’t getting rich from big government-business, talking, thinking, and doing.

The key for the Occupy 2.0 is to not just be about doing something, it should be about having a purpose, an agenda, an achievable goal. Too many times, when the lights shone on a protestor and the questions asked, “What are you doing here, what do you want?” the long pauses and blank looks from the questionees betrayed the lack of focus of the cause.

No reason to pan or ban, as our government and all who pledge allegiance to the Fox Television Network have done. But it is a tremendous opportunity to draw up an action plan and talking points with punch and bite so that when the spotlight shines, participants can take advantage of the occasion and bring the dialogue to any and all sympathetic, interested parties who are watching.

Sample Brief statement: I am here to call attention to the inequalities in our country, and the rest of the world. It’s unfair that all the money and opportunities go to the richest 1% among us, while the working class suffers. I want politicians to stop helping themselves and start helping all of us, or we will get new, better politicians who will fix the system the greedy have broken. Go to www.occupyequality.com and check out our list of recommendations to improve our country.

Boom! Even I could remember that with a light shining in my face.

GOING VEGGIE >>> Every time I have a vegetarian day, that is, a day when I eat no meat products of any kind, I always feel better at night and in the morning when I wake up. No exceptions. For the rest of this year and into the next I plan to do this more and more. Because I really like feeling good.

CRISIS GOVERNMENT >>> Another To Do on my list is to read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. I have seen her on a wide variety of talk shows, and agree that her theory of how governments move our electorate and manufacture submission is a dominant paradigm of the new millennium. So I want to know more.

I study news, politics, and the markets, attempting to find an objective set of sources from which to draw information. The one thing I continue to notice is how all these monstrous “crises” that continue to befall, or almost befall, “us” somehow magically always manage to massively benefit politicians and the upper class before they also somehow magically are brought under control.

In the case of recent global economics machinations, the people who trigger the crisis are one and the same with the people who heroically resolve the issue. By rewarding them with more power and re-election, it is like thanking the school bully for dunking our collective heads in the toilet, flushing, then “rescuing” us before we drown. This is a cycle of abuse that needs to end and end soon. I’ve grown tired of watching as world politicians continue to give The People a Socio-Economic Swirly.

OBSTINANCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER >>> Watching Chris Paine’s “Who Killed The Electric Car?” (again) and it never stops surprising me to see straight up video of Ronald Reagan’s heartfelt determination to dismantle even the slightest environmental protections. Other memorable moments include George W. Bush’s canard proposal of the hydrogen “alternative”, a multi-multi-trillion dollar non-starter conceived to fail when even tiny incentives to increase hybrid development could save so much, so much sooner.

Also priceless, the uncomfortable shuffling of the Big Auto Execs when Bill Clinton tells an electric car joke, and the sweet, innocent faces of Alaskan Caribou juxtaposed with W. proposing drilling in the wildlife refuge as an option to decrease oil dependence. Sometimes I feel like I’m so busy hating NeoCon policies for waging war on our present day lives that I forget to be angry about how profoundly and effectively they’re also raping the future.

THAT’S LIKE .01% >>> Trying to figure out who Lexus thinks is going to be buying a new car as a Christmas gift. Either they’re trying to target the 1% of the 1% who has enough cash lying around to drop $50 Gs on a present, or they’ve completely run out of ideas on how to sell cars to people in December.

GOT MY MIND MADE UP >>> I am finally climbing down off the fence on this one. I definitely, for sure, hate like that stupid T-Mobile girl. All dressed in pink, gangly as heck, with that phony, girl-next-door smile. You just know she’s a monster on the set when they’re shooting those ads. Probably only eats pink M & Ms.

Yep, Pink T-Mobile Girl is a symbol for everything that’s wrong with this country, and the world. With so many unemployed, it’s an affront to human decency that she has a job. I would like to see her fired, and her salary donated to the homeless. Or is it possible that I’m taking the whole thing too seriously?

HEAVY ROTATION >>> Defunct!, Lazy Rich, DJ Hero, Meleefresh, Wireless Mice.

<3 or $$ ?? >> Contemplating the future of my beloved St. Louis Cardinals now that Albert Pujols has migrated to Southern California. As a prominent St. Louis native who now also lives in the Southland 😉 , I can say that you can take the Man out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the Man. His bat may be in Anaheim, but his heart will likely never be the same.

Who knows what the next 10 years will bring for baseball’s brightest light? Selfishly, for me, I’m now only a 50 minute drive from watching the Best in the World ply his craft. I’d just rather have seen him do it in Cardinal red than Angel red. Funny, when you look at the numbers, adjusted for cost of living, CA state and property taxes, he’ll probably be no wealthier than he’d have been with $40-50 million less in St. Louis.

Who can blame a guy – when offered a guaranteed quarter of a billion dollars to play a game for the next 10 years of his life – for opting to receive a little more pay, job and no-trade security, and the ability to improve his longevity with the option of being a designated hitter? Not to mention that the weather here, especially in the summer, is fairly delightful. If you can stand the Anaheim smog effect.

The biggest difference King Albert is going to feel in the years ahead is the nature of the fans when his team is at home. St. Louis fans always were at the very least among the best in the game, before and during his time as a Cardinal, and I don’t see that changing in the after-Pujols era. Granted, Anaheim fans aren’t nearly as surly and belligerent as L.A. Dodgers’ fans, who proved themselves the worst in history on opening day last year.

Life is short, and people (having stuff be-damned) are what it’s all about in this world. So no matter what you get to have and hold, it’s who you got to share it with that matters most.

LAMAR’S LAMENT >>> Poor Lamar Odom. Married, with children, a reality star, basketball hero, and 6th man of the year in 2011 and the LA Lakers still wanted to trade him to get the best point guard in the game. That didn’t sit well with Lamar, so when his trade for Chris Paul got nixed, rather than breathing a sigh of relief, swallowing his pride and continuing to do his job (things we working people do every day of our lives), he let his ego and emotions take over and requested another trade. This one, to the Dallas Mavericks for which the Lakers received virtually nothing, will stick. So rather than staying in LA, Lamar gets to move to the armpit of the universe where his famous wife is going to be very very unhappy. More proof to the pudding of be careful what you wish for. And yet another reminder that cooler heads prevail, and hot heads go to Texas.

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Steve Jobs, 1955-2011 and Beyond

On October 7, 2011, in Past Morning Briefs, by David

Making a Difference

Steve Jobs the CEO single-handedly breathed life into not one, but two of the greatest businesses in the world today. Apple Computer: The Best (Hardware) Company Ever. And Pixar, among the world’s most innovative storytellers.

Steve Jobs the Boss was known for his authoritative leadership and intimidating style. It was said you might find yourself in an elevator on the campus at Infinite Loop, any elevator, alone with Steve, and the door would shut and you’d be thinking, “I’m alone on an elevator with Steve Jobs. What do I say to him?”

And just as you open your mouth to utter the smartest thought in human history, Steve might stop you in your tracks and demand to know: “Why are you here?”

“I test iPods,” you, a devoted, highly intelligent Apple Employee would tremble.

“WRONG!!!” Steve would roar back, “The iPod is testing You!!!”

And you’re fired. By Steve. In a recession. With the next Jobsian Juggernaut about to launch. Now you’re going to have to wait in line with all the other lumpen Apple Fanzoids to get it.

Well, you couldn’t have been too smart. You got into that elevator.

One of the greatest traits we can have is to learn. In addition to moving a lot of money and a lot of brilliantly designed, massively functional gizmos Steve Jobs engaged and opened a lot of minds — including his own — on a regular basis.

The man learned from his mistakes. He compromised his vision at Apple, was politically out-maneuvered and almost saw the whole thing go down in flames. Almost. All before NeXT…regaining the reins…making the Devil’s Bargain with Microsoft…and engineering the greatest corporate turn-around in American history. Sorry Chrysler. You needed a government bailout. Jobs had Bill Gates, who owed him one.

Yeah he screwed up the Licensing thing. But he made up for it.

One day, much later in his insanely great, world-bettering life, Steve Jobs found himself once again in that elevator with another devoted, highly intelligent Apple Employee who also happened to be a big, wheezing, decidedly unaesthetic mess of a human being. “Uh oh,” muttered several intelligent Apple Inc. bystanders as they watched the elevator doors slide ominously shut.

But it was not the same Steve in the elevator this time around. Not the young, smart, entitled Steve Jobs with the authority to make the rank and file validate their own unlikely existence. This time, an older and wiser version with experience, humility, a more than passing awareness of his own mortality and infinitely more success under his belt approached matters in a different way. He demanded to know what was wrong with this guy who must be working like hell for us or surely he wouldn’t be here. What does he need?

Within a day, that very same Apple employee was headed to a nutritionist whose orders were to help the kid get to the bottom of what were apparently the long-term effects of allergies and a lousy diet. An almost fatherly gesture from the great Apple Chairman. Same elevator; different thinking. Much, much better result.

In the America of my childhood, of my dreams, of my heart, you don’t get to be the One in Charge standing in that elevator without a willingness to confront or unlearn even the most epic of your own most spectacular traits. And you surely don’t belong there if you don’t somehow, someday, some way develop enough empathy for the human being standing next to you to ask more than a single question.

So today, we’re back in that elevator. You and I. Because he is not able to, I will do Steve’s job. And I’ve got not one, but two questions for you:

1. Why are you here?

2. What do you need?

 

“The fault, Dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare, JULIUS CAESAR.

Formerly of Los Angeles, currently and at least for the near future of Las Vegas, the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) is the biggest dance music festival in the world. Let me run that by you one more time, for effect: EDC is the biggest dance music festival in the world. And now it belongs to Las Vegas where they are very happy to have it. Which should be leaving the citizens of Los Angeles, once considered the music capital of the world, wondering why.

OK. You don’t have to twist my arm. I’ll tell you why. Because we the people of LA blew it, assisted by our politicians, and our local mainstream media.

Last year’s EDC drew over 190,000 people to the LA Colisseum in two days, a record until this year’s model. EDC 2010 was one of the best run big events I’ve ever seen or participated in, and I’ve been to some great ones: Coachella, Jazz Fest, Lowlands, Dance Valley, etc. EDC doesn’t have camping, and it does have a younger skewing audience. One of the big issues in 2010 was the 16 and over age limit. That was changed to 18 and over in 2011, a good move that made a big difference this year.

Royksopp rocks the live stage at EDC 2011


But the thing about EDC 2010, the event that led to Insomniac packing its tents and heading east to Sin City, was that in spite of it being a 16 and over event and despite the tragic death of an underage attendee (a 15-year old girl who had taken ecstasy and later suffered a head injury then subsequently died of complications due to over-hydration) EDC 2010 was every bit as good an event as EDC 2011.

The real difference between the two is that one took place in Los Angeles, a city that either doesn’t want or won’t do what it takes to earn the $100 million in revenues and related taxes EDC generates, and Las Vegas, a city that does, will, and did.

Let’s break it down. First, the tragic death: 1 in 190,000. Is it acceptable? No. Never. Is it the fault of Insomniac or EDC? No. People of all ages make choices. We cannot blame the event for the bad choice of one of its attendees. One of two choices made by this poor young girl that broke two of the clearly stated rules of the event: 16 and over, and no drugs.

We cannot ban music festivals round the world because someone might take drugs, or might die or be injured subsequent to taking drugs. Nor should we. We do need to educate, start talking about the causes and effects of using chemicals (all chemicals) or the “War on Drugs” will continue to be a “War on Ourselves” that, like most arch-conservative wars, are meant to be fought in futility forever.

More complex are the two biggest institutional culprits in the loss of this business by the city of L.A. First, the media coverage of the 2010 event and its aftermath was overly simplistic at best, and fear-mongering propaganda at worst. For example, the young girl’s death, due to complications from her head injury and not an overdose, was widely reported as an O.D. Ignoring the facts in propagandizing this tragedy is a major breach of journalistic ethics, for starters.

Another dramatic example of LA mainstream media manipulation was the widely reported figure that over 200 people were “rushed to the hospital” during the course of the 2010 event. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this stat reported back to me as a factoid from EDC 2010. In actual fact, and this information comes directly from one of the ambulance drivers at the event whom I spoke to during the show last year, nearly 80% of that 200 number was not due to a medical emergency, but rather a local ordinance requiring underage drinkers to be carted to the hospital in an ambulance. Ergo, 200 trips, but less than 50 actual medical issues.

That this number was and is still so widely quoted out of context by both television and print media speaks volumes about the state of LA mainstream media. Why would LA media report inaccurately to the detriment of the music business and the city’s economic well-being? Perhaps because the story of a disastrous music festival attracts more eyeballs than the tale of a well-run event.

A multi-Ferris Wheel situation

Or it may be an even more sinister force is at work here. Might it be the War on Popular Culture by moral conservatives attempting to demonize this event with negative propaganda posing as fact? Either way, the story has been misrepresented, widely disseminated, and very effective in shaping city and state policy towards organized music events big and small. Compared to mainstream media coverage in Las Vegas, which was mostly straightforward and supportive of both the event and the event’s producers, LA media appears to be anti-music festival up and down the line. Good for maybe a few hundred thousand dollars in ad revenues for the media outlet, and bad for upwards of $100 million in annual business revenues and tax dollars brought to LA for over a decade by EDC.

Then there’s politics. Along with failing to read between the lines on subjective media coverage – information available by asking a couple of simple questions to obtain the facts – the city and state have turned hostile to the business of holding music events large and small. California, home of the Beach Boys, is banning or over-regulating everything music-related to the detriment of its own economic well-being in light of the current economic climate.

New city ordinances require late night music events to conclude at 2 a.m. (EDC 2011 went to 6 a.m. each night in Vegas) and mandate an increase in the lead-time to request permits for music events from 30 to 90 days (unnecessary and unreasonable). A statewide law (yet to be passed) would restrict the use of pre-recorded music at everything from major raves to private weddings. This latter pending law – prejudicial and only selectively enforceable – is sponsored by a San Francisco Democrat angling to garner conservative votes by positioning music policy as anti-drug legislation. It’s an embarrassment to the state, the city of San Francisco, and to Democrats everywhere. So weak and ill-intentioned, it’s finally galvanized music lovers in California to unite.

And so we have to ask ourselves…why? Why does Las Vegas get it, and Los Angeles doesn’t? Why is California chasing away a hundred million dollars worth of business that Nevada has embraced, accepted and will continue to enjoy for at least the next few years to come? Southern Californians need to keep asking these questions, and exploring solutions that will attract – not repel – business to California to support our reeling economy. Drug education, better reporting, accountability of the media to truth (and barring that, to watch-dog groups) and a willingness of government to ask questions and do the work it takes to enable commerce would be a strong start.

Above and beyond that, it requires each of us as citizens, voters, and the population of this state to keep asking tough questions and to push our media and politicians even harder to come up with solutions that meet our needs instead of giving up on or even banning this particular type of commerce. Because the biggest difference between EDC 2010 and EDC 2011, aside from one more day and 60,000 more people in 2011 and a decline in the accidental death rate from 0.0005% to 0% can be summed up by this simple statement: Los Angeles’ loss is Las Vegas’ gain. We’ve got to stop L.A.’s losing streak right now because I, for one, would not be interested in a five hour drive to go see the Las Vegas Dodgers play baseball.

10 things LA and California need to do to embrace the live music opportunity:

1. Perform a study of live music events in the state and report on facts obtained.

2. Understand how media statements and mis-statements shape opinion and policy surrounding live music events.

3. Adopt a modern, practical education policy for teaching under-aged kids about the pitfalls of drug use.

4. Identify possible venues for holding large-scale music events in state.

5. Develop and articulate a fair and enforceable set of guidelines regarding security policy at live music events.

6. Begin to extend the hours of holding music events at venues of all sizes, and end the ridiculous 2 a.m. curfew on events in Los Angeles.

7. The State of California needs to curtail the archaic policy of last call at 2 a.m. This is a draconian limitation creating a competitive disadvantage versus other states with major cities (eg. – Illinois and New York) that profit from allowing alcohol service to continue later into the night.

8. To support a new, later last call (4 a.m., 6 a.m.) develop and even subsidize mass transit solutions (a late night “party bus,” local shuttle service, zone-based cab fare) to discourage after hours driving and increase new business opportunities around longer drinking hours.

9. Stop saying no and start saying yes to new business opportunities in the state, including organized music events and festivals.

10. Remove unnecessary bureaucratic limitations from the event-throwing process. Forcing event promoters to go through a 90-day permitting cycle when 30 days is more than enough lead-time for the state to process an application is an unneeded and unrealistic burden on promoters and California commerce.

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EDC 2011 – The Music

Sure it’s a carnival, but it’s also a magic musical rave in the desert, and this year’s EDC lineup – which looked great on paper – didn’t disappoint. With the notable exception of a superstar, headline performance by Swedish House Mafia on the Main Stage, some of the biggest booms were heard in the Neon Garden.

Skrillex killing it at EDC; a transcendent performer

Following stellar outings by Bart B More and Jack Beats in the Garden, Skrillex had what was widely considered the set of the weekend. Equaly parts rocking and joyful, the 23-year old jumped and shouted his way through a mind-blowing variety of genres, cheekily dropping in classics by the Jacksons and Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It” alongside his own stellar modern productions.

Although the stage appeared to be built to accommodate about 30,000 people, Skrillex drew about twice that to his show, easily sucking in more than half of Saturday night’s crowd into his lair, directly across from the Carousel and the Tilt-A-Whirl.

MSTRKRFT closed Saturday night with a bang of its own, and Sunday at the Neon Garden included the monster rally of Harvard Bass, Felix Cartal, Felguk, A-Trak (spinning vinyl), Wolfgang Gartner and concluding with a complete, dance-your-ass off roof-blaster by Dada Life. And that was just Stage 4.

Main stage (Kinetic Field) highlights included Wolfgang Gartner (his first of two sets at EDC), Dirty South and Tiesto on Friday. On Saturday, Martin Solveig, whose track “Hello” must have been played in at least a dozen sets during the weekend, took the boards, along with Afrojack (the first of 2 sets for him), LA Electro-house hero Benny Benassi, F**K me I’m Famous David Guetta and Above & Beyond. And on Sunday, Paul Oakenfold, Avicii, and Laidback Luke rocked the Main Stage.

The Cosmic Meadow, a stage that included both DJs and live acts, featured such Burning Man favorites as Beats Antique, The Glitch Mob, and Bassnectar. A trio of riveting sets on opening night included Royksopp, Plastikman (Richie Hawtin), and Sub Focus, while Saturday featured Empire of the Sun, followed by Dada Life and Boys Noize closing.

On Sunday, LA house favorites The EC Twins opened in the Meadow while The Stanton Warriors’ Dom warmed things up in the Garden. Bunny (Rabbit in the Moon) put on a spectacular show that pulled out all the stops. Big buzz acts that followed Sunday night included Infected Mushroom, The Bingo Players (tech house DJ duo), and Afrojack’s second set, which attracted the majority of the people still in the house on Monday morning.

On the Circuit Grounds, a Tech House friendly venue, Crystal Method, Roger Sanchez, Cosmic Gate, and Calvin Harris provided opening night fireworks. On Day 2, Pleasurekraft (“Tarantula”) rocked the decks, along with a banging two hour set by Green Velvet. UMEK, Richie Hawtin and Victor Calderone also lit up Saturday night.

And at the Bass Pod, where drum and bass and breakbeats met a whole lotta dub, highlights included Marcus Intalex, Roni Size, Friction, Skream & Benga, Dieselboy and Marky on Friday night. On Saturday night, High Contrast and Andy C set the table for Rusko, Hype, Zed’s Dead and LTJ Bukem. Sunday night showcased Liquid Stranger, J Majik, Datsik, Doctor P, Planet of the Drums, Shimon and Nu:Tone.

Often criticized for its focus on younger music and younger audiences, this year’s shift from 16 and up to 18 and up, along with the move to Vegas accompanied the real triumph of this show: the lineup was artistically ambitious, balanced and deep. Featuring some of the best dub artists in the world: Skrillex, Rusko, Skream & Benga, and Dieselboy (who still brings it) among others, alongside Electro House juggernauts like Bart B More, Jack Beats, Dada Life, Boys Noize and MSTRKRFT.

Top Tech House talent included Cosmic Gate, Pleasurekraft, Green Velvet, Richie Hawtin, Bingo Players, Ferry Corsten and ATB. And superstars of psy-trance (Infected Mushroom) played on the same stage as Boys Noize, Bunny, Empire of the Sun, Bassnectar, Dada Life, Royksopp, and Plastikman, to name just a few.

Richie Hawtin’s Plastikman set, accompanied by a tremendous traveling stage show, was a revelation as the closing set at Coachella 2010. It’s still an aural and video wonder. Compared to my initial impression of the lineup for Coachella 2011 (the weakest Coachella lineup ever), the Electric Daisy Carnival lineup was blow the roof off spectacular from the get go. Reputation and good press count, but kicking much butt by booking one of the best lineups on the planet doesn’t hurt either.

As a top-notch music festival approaching par with Miami’s Ultra Festival and well within its right to be compared to the mighty Coachella, not to mention the most highly attended music event in the world (I said it again), EDC 2011 promised, arrived, and delivered. To a Las Vegas community that’s very happy to now be able to call it their own.