Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupying a bit at a time…

With the Occupy Movement so much in the news, I figured this might be a good time to weigh in again.

As you might know, I was at Occupy OC and marched with them last weekend. It came at a brutal time in my own life, so I thought it might be good to get outside my life a bit and help out where I could – and I did – unfortunately, though, I was too troubled by my own shit to really get into it, so I ended up just going through the motions. In the end, I’m glad I was part of it but wish I had done more.

Since then, of course, several things have happened with the Occupy Movement – many arrests, police brutality, the shooting of Scott Olsen – all in response to peaceful protests, to people simple exercising their first amendment rights.

And in my own life, I’ve had to deal with people who oppose the Occupy Movement – not because they can find anything about it they disagree with but because they have been told, through some mass media or peer pressure, that it would be cool to do so. And this just blows me away. Here is a movement that is peacefully assembling (despite the over-reaction of the police...) to affect political change in an environment where neither major political party will do the right thing for the 99% of citizens with the least economic and political influence. And, yet, they can’t be bothered. This is a movement that is speaking out against responsible people losing their homes. And, yet, they can’t empathize. This is a movement that is speaking against an economic system that refuses to do anything for the millions who have lost their jobs. And, yet, they refuse to care. This is a movement that is asking those in power to stop lying about global climate change and do something about it. And, yet, they don’t seem to think it affects them personally. This is a movement speaking out against the greatest wealth disparity in our country in over a century. And, yet, they don’t see what this has to do with them. This is a movement that is asking for banking regulation, which kept the economy steady until repealed a piece at a time since the 1980s, to be reinstated. And they refuse to understand what this means. This is a movement that is asking that the wealthiest 1% - multi-millionaires - be asked to once again pay their fair share of taxes, something they haven't had to do for decades. And, yet, they side with those who aren’t paying their share. The fact is the Occupy Movement is standing up for a lot more to help those who need it most. Standing against the Occupy Movement is like cheering for the boot pressing down on your own head.

These people say that it’s not as though they don’t understand the reason for protest but they don’t agree exactly 100% with the protesters. As if you must agree exactly 100%. As if you would ever agree with anything 100%. As if nothing is valid unless you agree exactly 100% with it. As if it’s better to side with those against your own self-interests, than to side with anything you agree with 99%.

Then, too, are the folk who parrot back to me the idiotic reasons they’ve been told they should dismiss the protests. “Those people have money,” they say, as if you can’t have a cent and still retain empathy for your fellow man. “Those people own things,” they say, and I wonder what they would say if the protesters were bare-ass naked. The thing is, it’s a false equivalency. And I’ve heard this from other morons as well, this insistence that you can’t challenge the status quo unless you are somehow removed from it – no property, no wealth, no trappings of any kind connected with modern society – or else you’re just as bad as the worse perpetrators. This is clearly nonsense, because the last protesters who went out without any connections were tarred as dirty hippies.

Simply, these people find it easier to fear change and fear what it will take to create change – and here’s hoping Scott Olsen and other victims of police brutality pull through – than to stand up for change. And that’s not right. Listen, I’m no saint and I certainly wasn’t the best protester at Occupy OC. I could have done better. But I’m not going to sit by and listen to you talk crap about something you refuse to understand or that you understand but refuse to stand up for. I’m doing what I can and you should, too.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Will you be in New York on 10/24?...

I won't be. I'll still be in California. But if you are, you might want to check out my comedy Murielle's Big Date, which is getting a staged reading at the HorseTrade Theater in New York City, off-Broadway.

... and let me know how it goes! (Really wish I could be there....)

Monday, October 17, 2011

And so I reach 46…

It’s been a hell of a year. I sold a book and had the publisher go belly-up… I found an agent… I had plays produced and read throughout California… and, of course, couldn’t find a job to save my life…

Now, here I am at 46. If I were to live to be 90, I would officially be in the second half of my life. (Actually, I would have been a year ago…) So, as far as my body goes, it’s all downhill from here.

I’m hoping this year works out a little better. I’m knee deep in research for my book on ethics right now and hoping I finish it before 2012. I’d like to hammer out another novel and a couple more plays. Mostly, I’d like things to be a bit more clear and a bit less desperate. I hate living in the fear that we could lose our house any day and I hate not being able to make any damned money.

I’ll keep working, though, and keep trusting in the abilities that got me here, for good or ill. I’ve had too much success to consider myself completely incompetent and not enough to think I’m that great.

Mostly, I guess I’m just hoping for a bit of luck.

… we’ll see…

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - statements from and about...

Hey folks,

I mentioned Occupy Wall Street a while back and I think it's important to follow up. The fact of the matter is if you are not one of the richest 1% in this country, they are on your side, fighting for your rights, and therefore you should support the Occupy movements wherever they are.

I have been trying to find a way to make it to Occupy LA but, logistically, it just won't work. Reality dictates that I keep looking for work over here. But Vicky and I have talked about this and, if things change, I will go and I'll keep you posted on that.

In the meantime, Occupy Wall Street has released its first statement and I think it's important that it gets out. It verbalizes the hopes and endeavours of these good people as they stand up before the heartless corruption of a very small minority. Here, then, is their statement (taken from Daily Kos):

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

If Atheism is a Religion, I have a banana in my ear…

There’s a new meme going around that, somehow, Atheism is a religion.

I’d like to refute this claim with a simple analogy. Religion is like compulsively shoving a banana in your ear. Atheists recognize this and point out the fact that there’s no need to shove a banana in your ear. Claiming that atheism is a religion is comparable to replying, “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re shoving a banana in your ear, too,” even though atheists are, in fact, not.

Here is a simpler analogy. Religion is wishing/praying to a non-existent being for stuff you want. Atheists recognize this and point out the fact that there’s no need to wish/pray. It’s silly. And it’s ludicrous on the face of it to say, “Oh, yeah? Well, you pray, too,” because, no, we don’t.

To claim that atheism is a religion is to expose a central weakness in religion: that everyone else must be just as stupid as you.

And we’re not.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Ken meets… the baby…

All my life, people have said to me that I’d make a good father one day. This was usually said by parents. They’d hold their kids far out of my reach and say, “Don’t worry, Ken. You’ll make a great father one day.” Okay, maybe they wouldn’t hold the kids out of reach but I did notice their sentiment always twinged with a hint of “Of course, I’m only telling you this because of how pathetic you look. How much longer are you going to wait, anyway?”

Kids have never really been a priority for me and, until Vicky came along, weren’t something I ever really thought would happen. But Vicky did come along and we got very serious about the whole thing, which is to say lots of fucking.

… But, no baby.

Recently, Vicky became an aunt and has been really enjoying aunt-li-hood-ed-ness…

We watched the little rugrat this past weekend for a couple of hours. Now, let me preface this by saying “Cutest Kid Ever”. Seriously, Vicky’s niece is just lovely. Okay?

We got in. The parents took off. And… wailing. Hours of wailing. The kid decided to hit us right upside the head with separation anxiety. “Where’s my momma? Where’s my god-damned mooma? WHERE THE FUCK IS MY FUCKING MOTHER,” the child seemed to want to know.

And I realized in the midst of all this that I missed my window for being a great father. I realized this because
And for Vicky, who was still holding out some hope of us having a child, this wasn’t exactly the best card I could have played. I did worse than just informing her that her husband wasn’t quite suited for parenthood; I also reminded her that things just don’t look good.

At this point, I did a little wailing of my own. On the inside. I hate disappointing Vicky more than anything else and really felt like I’d just crushed her dream. That night, she was reminded of what kind of guy she married: not the right one. This is not to say that we’ll split up but, rather, that relationships are often cast in sharp relief and we are sometimes a bit too harshly of the bad that comes with the good. It may not all be my fault but even if just one night was enough to make Vicky sad, well, that sucked.

Sometimes we don’t win. We don’t get what we want. Our dreams don’t come true. But I love you, Vic. And I’m sorry things haven't worked out the way we wanted them to. But I do love you.