Friday, June 26, 2009

Yesterday Was Weird

Even though I fell into bed last night at 1:30 a.m. (working, not playing), my exhausted brain would not shut off. Too much bizarreness had occurred that day and the wheels just kept turning. I'm pretty sure the 80s died yesterday, right?

Okay, the death of Farrah Fawcett was sad but not unexpected. Poor lady had been suffering from cancer for too long now. The worse part about it was her fuck-up of a son, now serving time in jail for drug offenses. Pain upon pain.

Although I'm so glad that former asshole, Ryan O'Neal, came to his senses and her side, truly loving her right to the very end. Well done, Ryan.

Later that day, I'm on the phone with Fidelity, trying to organize what's left of my retirement money. It was already raining but all of a sudden, the heavens opened up all the faucets and it fucking POURED.

I mean, it look liked sheer white gauze out my window and it was so loud! I'd never see rain truly block out a view before. It's like my apartment was a boat that was suddenly sinking. My words to the lovely customer service fellow went something like, "So, I was thinking I should rollover my pension into ..... HOLY FUCK! WHAT IS HAPPENING?!"

I then asked Fidelity boy if people were still investing in arks, 'cause we might need one in Denver. I hadn't seen rain like that since Brazil, not far from the mouth of the Amazon, when I was stuck in a freakish torrential rainstorm. I'm pretty sure my bone marrow got soaked that day; it was so ridiculous - I could only laugh.

Sadly, my kitchen and bedroom windows were open which meant that my kitchen and my bed were soaked from the deluge. I felt so, so ... Southern.

Soon after that, Twitter exploded with the news that Michael Jackson had died ... no, wait ... he was in the hospital ... no, wait, he was in a coma ... but TMZ said he was dead ... but who trusts TMZ? ... can we get confirmation? ... but CNN said he's dead ... no, they didn't ... does anyone know for sure? ... OH NO! Yup, LA Times confirms - MJ is gone.

I spent the rest of the day working and listening to his brilliant 1979 "Off the Wall" album - on cassette - and reliving his genius.

It was later that my pal, HDW, pointed out that the skies opened up right about the time that Michael Jackson was declared dead. Coincidence? Probably. All I know is, the skies are still crying today.

A brilliant and fair-minded collection of succinct essays on Michael's life and career here. And a heart-achingly honest post from Lisa Maria Presley on her MySpace page. I've tried to 'save someone' before and it's brutal pain.

RIP to Farrah and Michael.

Great, now I'm hearing tornado sirens ...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hypocrites Aplenty

If you didn't get enough of holier-than-thou Gov. Mark Sanford's fall from the Appalachian Trail yesterday, here's another slice of piping hot ridiculousness to snack on.

Last weekend, Pat Buchanan hosted a conference to discuss how Republicans can regain a majority in America. During one discussion, panelists suggested supporting English-only initiatives as a prime way of attracting “working class white Democrats.”

Beyond ridiculing Judge Sotomayor, the panelists also suggested that, without English as the official language, President Obama would "force" Americans to speak Spanish.


Please note the banner hanging over the English-only advocates. The word 'conference' was misspelled, lending some delicious irony to the whole affair. Tip to the GOP's Angry White Men: If you really want to regain majority, consider spellcheck.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Too Many Photos

On the very day that Kodak announces it is taking the once iconic Kodachrome film away, I end up with a startling realization ... again: I take waaaaaay too many frickin' photos.

Really. It has to stop. I've got a terrible twitchy finger. Mind you, a few shots are impressive, many are sentimental but most - like the hot dog above - mean absolutely nothing.

For many photographers, the switch from film to digital was fraught with arguments of quality and purity, blah, blah, blah ... but for me, it came down to sheer space and logic.

When I moved from California to Colorado, I was alarmed at how much of my worldly goods were made up of photo negatives and prints. I could hardly wait to make the switch and instead of numerous numbered and dated shoeboxes, I now have numerous numbered and dated memory cards and flash drives.

That's right, roughly 50% of everything I own in this world can be tied to my on-again, off-again love affair with the camera. There are three closets in my home and one is filled entirely with photos.

I ponder this today because I'm in the process of switching computers and moving three years worth of photo off into storage, where they should have been to begin with. Sometimes I wonder if snapping away is the only way for me to verify that anything really happens in my life.

In any case, I'll certainly be leaving behind plenty of evidence that I was here and, by god, I saw things!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day

Though my own father was 1400 miles away on Father's Day, I did get to spend the day with three - count 'em - THREE fabulous fathers. That's them, above, each with their own manly set of binoculars to spot wildlife or bikinis or whatever else might be far away.

Reid, far left, is a good friend who is father to a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old, both incredibly smart, cool kids. Stu, in the middle, is 85 years old and father to a bunch of folks, including my friend, Camille. John, far right, is father to twin toddlers and also to a 30-year-old who is getting married next weekend. Between them, there is a lot of experience.

We spent the day having brunch and trying not to ingest all the floating cotton from the nearby cottonwood trees that were sporing like crazy. Then, we took a jaunt to a nearby nature preserve, Bear Creek Trail and Greenbelt, where we strolled around, spotting turtles, blue herons and baby ducks. Knowing Stu's brain carries a wealth of local botanical knowledge, I pestered him with questions. "What's this flower? What's it called? How about this one?"

Stu reminded me more than once that if he didn't know the answer, he'd just make it up because, "People just want an answer, really, they don't care if it's the truth." On the topic of plants, I figured he was probably right.

It was nice to hang with a real live family but, of course, it made me miss my own. I spoke to my Dad and he was heading to the movies to see "UP" - based on my recommendation - with the grandson, my brother and his wife. So badly I wished I could tag along.

Why does this country have to be so damn big?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Where is Cancer when you need it?

While doing some household chores this morning, I had one ear on NPR's Fresh Air in a show entitled: "Extremism, Conspiracy Theory And Murder." Terri was interviewing Chip Berlet, who has studied conspiracy theorists and extremists groups for decades. (Berlet is a senior analyst at Political Research Associates, a Boston-area-based think tank.)

Berlet took us through the dense, dark forest of an endless number of hate groups and philosophies - the historical backgrounds, the justifications, the leaps of logic and, ultimately, the lone wolfs who take matters into their own hands. At one point, Terri - a sharp cookie if ever there was one - said, "Gosh, I'm having trouble keeping all of these straight here."

So, for the remainder of the day, while the front of my brain was worrying about air conditioning, thank you cards and rose food, the back of my brain - unbeknownst to me - was still chewing on all this.

Then, while driving around running errands later this afternoon, a conclusion I didn't know I needed hit me out of the clear blue sky. Beyond the obvious tragedy of cold-blooded murder fueled by racist hatred, it finally hit me what bothered me so much about the shooting at the Holocaust Memorial.

Like many folks I know, I had a weird reaction upon hearing the shooters advanced age (88) and why is that? Is it because we like to think of old men being kindly and somewhat at peace with the world? Is it because we all had grandfathers that age? Is it because we like to think of someone that age no longer being a real threat?

For me, it's because I so badly wished to believe that deeply-rooted hatred so white hot and so pure would surely eat one's organs so fast, they could not live beyond 30. I'd always considered hatred a real toxin so the reality that a person like James W. von Brunn could eat food, take showers and show up for work year after year, decade after decade, without choking to death on his own venomous bile genuinely alarms me.

And then another terrible thought occurred to me: What if it's that very marrow-in-his-bones-evil that is keeping him alive?


Great. So while the John Candy's and the Warren Zevon's of the world are ripped from us much, much too soon, we have this demonic senior citizen breathing our air year after year? Seems flat fucking wrong to me.

Honestly, I feel so naive and genuinely vexed with biology's random aim here. On good days, I'm an optimist that believes hatred will eventually die off. On my worst days, I think the human race has 200 years left on Earth, tops, before we rape the soil, waste all the water and kill one another in ignorance.

Somewhere in between, I like to believe that there is at least some karmic justice in the Universe and ugly monsters like this spiteful old man will get their come-uppance sooner rather than later.

I can only hope that the remainder of von Brunn's sad little life be long and deeply, profoundly uncomfortable.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Photo Fail

My friends at the "E" Project in Lakewood put out a fabulous challenge to all photographers. They provided 10 words that begin with 'e' and invited folks to tell a story in photographs. I was thrilled with the assignment and pulled out boxes and boxes of prints - so many came to mind.

Sadly, my old technology worked against me (I'll skip the gory details) and I was unable to submit any photos. But, since I went to all the trouble of sifting and selecting, I'll just share them here. E for enjoy!:


Backstage at Bimbo's in San Francisco for Tease-O-Rama, an annual burlesque convention in 2002.

A close second for ENTERTAINMENT was this one:

A street performer in Venice Beach, California - 2002.

'E' for EMOTION:

Mama Jean receives cake - and a new grandson - for her 72 birthday. The Circle of Life never stops.

'E' for ECHOES:

A local park in Albuquerque, New Mexico honors those who have met a violent end.

'E' for ECONOMY:

Freezing my credit cards back in the day. Like a fool, I thawed.

'E' for EMBRACE:

This is the newest of the bunch - taken at CCW this year.

'E' for ELDERS:

A farmer in North Dakota and the model set of his childhood farm.

A runner-up for ELDERS:

A really, really old tree at Mary Mahoney's restaurant in Biloxi, Mississippi.


A heavenly reflection is captured on a 1953 Oldsmobile at the Pioneer Machinery Show in Northeastern North Dakota.

Runner-up for ELEGANCE:

A widow quietly honors a loved one on Memorial Day at Presidio National Cemetery.

'E' for EROSION:

Hurricane Katrina revamps a Shell station along Highway 90 on Mississippi's Gulf Coast.


Budding entrepreneurs count their net income in a San Francisco neighborhood.

Runner-up for EDUCATION:

Famed 'horse whisperer' Monty Roberts patiently teaches the Join-Up concept to a young horse. Step one: Purposely turn your back - curiosity ends up getting the best of them every time.

'E' for EMPTY:

A tired fisherman waits for the bucket to fill on Belmont Pier in Long Beach, California.

There. Now I feel better.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rainbow East

Last Wednesday, I received a simple text message, quite possibly the most useful directive I've ever received on a mobile device:

rainbow east

Thanks to my friend, Reid, I didn't miss out. I jumped up from my computer and caught a beautiful sight out my back porch, a triple rainbow.

What is it about rainbows? It's Mother Nature's way of saying, "Hey, sorry about the giant tantrum. I feel better now; let me make it up to you."

And just like that, all is forgiven.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Cheap But Clean - A Confession

Since I'm not Catholic, this blog serves as my confession booth. Here's the deal: Several months ago, I was reading the Miss Manners column (which makes me sound old, I realize) and a reader asked: Should we be taking home the little bottles of shampoo/conditioner, lotions and soaps from hotels? MM was clear as pie about this: "No way. It's unbelievably tacky."

I was silently mortified. After years of business travel to swanky hotels, it became habit to take the half-used toiletries home with me. (The Best Westerns and Motel 6's of the world were not included in this.) Consider that I have not purchased my own shampoo, conditioner or soap since 2005 and you get a sense of the problem.

Years go by and lo! I've got giant ziploc bags full of stuff. A few times, I even donated a bunch of them to homeless shelters but mostly, I'd use them myself, much to the horror of my hairdresser. Turns out that "Random hotel shampoo!" is not the right answer to the question, "What hair products do you use?" Nope. Not at all.

So, with the day job gone and my corporate travel grounded for good, my stash is getting low. I'm down to the remnants and each one sparks a memory in me - a specific city, an event, a meeting - all in the past. It won't be long now but eventually, I'll wash this job right outta my hair.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Frame by Frame

The last few days have brought so much chunky goodness that I'll have to parcel these experiences here in several posts. Really, it would just be easier to hire someone to follow me around and take notes ....

As I may have mentioned, this time in ClizBiz history will forever be known as the "Summer of the Reset Button." I've spent the last decade or so representing other people and their interests so it's time to take a step back and see what I actually care about. Thanks to the patience and forethought of Gins, my financial guru, I will not have to panic until early next year, though I'd sure like to have a New Mission/job well before then.

Unfortunately, the wide variance of my interests is a problem; it's hard to focus when you want to do everything in life. This is how I came upon journalism. A job running around and investigating everything? Sign me up!

Of course, journalism is suffering - like every other industry - but I manage to keep busy on one project or another. (My latest assignment is on 'retro fitness' such as swing dancing, ping pong, hula hooping, etc.) My urge to document led to this blog and my compulsion to photograph and make audio recordings. So, it makes sense to be drawn into the world of filmmaking, specifically here in Colorado. (How ironic would it be for an LA girl to start her film career several states away?)

So, last Thursday morning I found myself volunteering with the Colorado Film Commission at the Denver Studio Complex behind CFC's offices. We'd gathered to watch Governor Bill Ritter sign Bill H1010 which creates the new Office of Film Television and Media within his Office of Economic Development & International Trade.

Unfortunately, H1010 was the scaled down version of what the CFC had originally recommended and worked so hard for - better tax incentives for filmmakers to shoot in Colorado. It's hard to compete with Michigan's 40% tax breaks or even our neighbor, New Mexico, which offers 25%. Even state Senator Nancy Spence, also in attendance, spoke of it as a "modest victory." Still, you've got to start somewhere and maybe being closer to the beehive will help.

More work to be done on this issue and I hope to make myself useful and maybe learn something in the process.

(More photos here.)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Goodbye, Grasshopper

I was saddened to hear that David Carradine took his own life while in Bangkok. I always loved that this veteran actor of Irish descent was able to pass himself off as a Chinese guy over and over again. His dialogue regarding the Superman mythology in "Kill Bill 2" was superb.

Whatever pain he was in that drove him to end it ... well, he's not feeling that anymore.

RIP David.

(Photo by Dan Heller.)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My Third Anniversary

Like a good little networker, I attended the Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup last night, which is basically cramming 500 very sharp, sweaty individuals into a large courtroom and letting them be their nerdy selves. There were a lot of interesting presentations, including one from the IT guy for the country of Singapore. (He says they are working to get the entire country wi-fi'ed by 2012, or at least the bus stops.) Anyway, it was super cool and I'll surely be going to more of these.

Post-meetup, I obediently followed my pals, Kath & Jim, to the Lazy Dog for beer, wings and hockey. Suddenly, I remembered the date: it was my three-year anniversary of moving to Colorado, what Kath calls my "Denversary." The first year, I celebrated with a party, as I well I should have, but the last couple of years, I've just celebrated quietly in my own brain.

Thinking back on my first few days here (and before the MonkMan incident), I was full of wonder at my new Mile-High City. My San Francisco sensibilities were still wondering why it was hot in July and, hey, didn't I just hear a fog horn?

"Mainly, it just feels great to finally be here. After pining for change for so long, it has arrived and I feel rejuvenated by all the unknowns around me. I can hardly wait to see what Colorado has in store for me."

Plenty of fun, sister, plenty of fun.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Spring Circle 2009

Every season or so, I get the pleasure of indulging in Circle - a spiritual gathering of ladies here in Denver. Hosted by Amy (and Sherman, her black Komondor) and led by Miss Bliss, it was a much needed check in and celebration of life in the Now.

What better way to spend an afternoon than to indulge in group meditation, vodka, crafting and smokey treats?

We discussed the rebirth of new thought swirling all around us, like an ether. I've noticed it in nearly every conversation lately, no matter the context. Whether by choice or by force, life as we know it is changing for good; there is a global shift afoot. Personally, I'm relieved and extremely grateful for this opportunity to hit the 'RESET' button.

It was a smaller Circle this time, just six of us, which provided an opportunity to really spew our thoughts and goals. Sometimes stating such things out loud is scary (and typing them on your blog seems downright terrifying) but all dreams are supported and encouraged without question.

Our emotional innards released, we set about crafting and this time we made fancy magnets. God, I love these sessions. They just boil life down to what is really important: GLITTER. Lots of it. That and pearly paints, delicate brushes and tiny jewels for the final bedazzlement. Even Amy's husband, Brendan, gets in on the fun - if there is any left.

I also made a new friend: Angela. I knew the minute I spotted her in a Batman t-shirt that we'd get along. She's living in Mississippi but it's just a matter of time before she sets up shop here in Colorado to join the Mississippi Colony. Amy gifted us both with new hats, which fit our heads and personalities perfectly. I love that the Circle is known as a Hat Bank - my head rarely leaves naked.

God Bless the Circle. Every time I leave, I feel renewed. Although the next day is a different matter ... I always sleep, A LOT. (More photos from Circle here.)


Addendum: Last night, I attended the monthly 'Night with a Futurist' event hosted by the DaVinci Institute. The theme was "The Future of Innovation" and again, the same 'new era' phrases popped up. The main speaker, Dr. Todd Siler, was focused on the role of creativity in innovation and he kept coming back to "the current merging of arts, science, nature and technology." He also gave a great piece of advice: "Become an expert novice; suspend what you know to discover what you don't know."

I feel like everything is new these days, and I'm learning a lot.