Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Saturday, April 30, 2005

SomeWhere In Time

Blogging is an interesting experience. I write for myself,and rarely do I ever expect anything I write to have much meaning or impact on anyone, so I have to admit I am always surprised when I receive comments from people who have been effected by what I write. I have come to understand that sometimes my writing can be very evocative, and garners some kind of visceral reaction in others.

Melt Away was a much needed cathartic release for me from the anger, frustration, and hurt I felt at the unnecessary loss of a friendship I valued greatly; yet it seems to have triggered a visceral reaction in others. I hope that whatever it touched in others, even if painful, provided a much needed purgative experience, a spiritual cleansing.

My recent entry, Dark Stain, was a reflection on events that had transpired YEARS ago. Seeing Jane Fonda back in the spotlite, reflecting on her misguided belief of how SHE brought an end to our involvement in Viet Nam, and that her actions were righteous and supportive of our troups(wingnut!!)infuriated me, but also brought back a pleasant memory of a chance encounter on Thanksgiving Day that filled me with great joy. I haven't experienced any loss or sadness related to that time in my life. It's been well over 7 years since that Thanksgiving Day, and it was inevitable that I would lose touch with the remaining two vets; it's part of the ebb and flow of life.

It's clear from the comments I received, that in someway I left people with the impression that I was in pain over this, so for inadvertantly creating that impression, I must apologize. It wasnt my intention, but I do thank everyone for their kind words. I look back on those times spent together with great joy, with laughter, with love.

It's s the unnecessary loss of a friendship, that I experienced this earlier this week, which has saddened me greatly, and continues to so; perhaps it is that sadness which seaped into my Dark Stain post.

If there was any emotion I was trying to convey in Dark Stain, it was ANGER.

I am REALLY REALLY MAD about the Dark Stain that many still refuse to acknowledge exists when it comes to those vets who served in Nam and have never been given the appreciation, respect, admiration, and gratitude they deserve. They never got a decent homecoming, and that both angers and saddens me deeply.

A small act of kindness towards two vets just doesn't seem to be enough...it doesnt balance things out...there are too many other vets who did not benefit directly from that act of kindness. That bothers me.

Yet I've come to understand that while one person's actions might only directly touch one or two people, those very actions reach out beyond that one moment in time, across eternity, to touch ALL of humanity and then return back to us somewhere in time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Dark Stain

When I worked in LA, most Thanksgiving weekends would find me on a plane back home, except for one time. Turns out that every Thanksgiving Day the city of Santa Monica hosts a huge event for the less fortunate in LA. Lots of volunteers give away services and a huge Thanksgiving buffet is set up. I volunteered to spend the afternoon working to feed those less fortunate. It was a monumental task. While we are so focused on Hollywood' s rich and famous, we tend to forget that there is a huge number of people who are anything but rich or famous, and for whom a hot meal, a haircut, a new set of clothes, and some companionship is a rare luxury.

I worked the food line, serving up meals for about two hours. Then I had a chance to wander about and talk with whomever I wanted. In the far corner I noticed a group of four guys, somewhat apart from the crowd of people at the tables eating this wonderful feast. All the food and drink is donated and you cannot imagine the quantity and quality that was available. The tables are very long, seating about 50 people per table, and there were about 200 tables all filled with people.

But these four guys sat alone and apart from everyone else. So I headed over towards them, with my tray of food, and asked if I could join them. They smiled, stood up, and said yes. (Such gentlemen, blew me away, no one stands up anymore for a lady) I joined them, and started with the usual introductions and pleasantries. I noticed one guy had a baseball cap that had a unit and platoon insignia on it, so I asked about it.

It was then that I found out that ALL FOUR of these guys had served in Nam! I was blown away. Four vets serve our country -albeit in a war that perhaps should never have happened - and their homeless!!! Politics aside, that ANYONE who served in our military should now be destitute in a country as rich as ours sickened me! Hell it ANGERED me!!

I asked if we could talk about their experiences in Nam, and their experiences upon returning. They were totally cool about that and offered up alot of painful details. Sometimes one just needs a chance to talk about the bad and the ugly as well as the good.

Two were Marines, two Army. Two drafted, and two had already been enlisted 6 months prior to our participation in Nam. Where others ran, they served.

I had been to DC the year previous and I made a point of talking to them about the Vietnam Memorial in the Mall. You cannot read the names listed on that Memorial without tearing up. It was a deeply emotional experience for me, and I shared it with them.

They had no doubt that they would have personally served with some of those guys named on the wall....and it dawned on me that they clearly didn't have the means to make their way to DC to see this beautiful and evocative Memorial, and that broke my heart!

Long story short,after spending three hours in great conversation with them, I asked if we could stay in touch, got their vitals and gave them mine. I spent one weekend a month hanging with them for about a year, taking them out for dinner, catching a few movies, talking about life, politics, Hollywood, anything and everything.

One died of natural causes about 18 months after we had that fateful lunch together, one killed himself 6 months after that.

The fact that they had never seen the Vietnam Memorial plagued me. So I decided to surprise the remaining to guys. Using the free air miles I had accumulated on my business trips I flew the two surviving vets to DC for a weekend, and using the hotel points I had accumulated I put them up in a nice hotel. I found a way to discreetly pay for their meals and provide cash for them to be able to enjoy DC.

They came back, we hooked up for dinner and they were glowing as they shared with me ALL the details of that weekend. I don't know who was more joyous and excited, them or me, but they deserved every exciting second they had experienced!

We stayed in touch for a long time, but once I moved away from LA, it became much harder to connect...they had no phones, no Internet, and no real home address. I hope that wherever they may be - they are warm, fed, and at peace.

I felt compelled to do something to repay them for their service, and to make up for the awful treatment they received from our nation. Sadly few people at that time in Hollywood shared my feelings.

The impact this chance encounter on Thanksgiving Day had on me, combined with my relationship with a certain"Marine Man" who holds a special place in my heart, is the reason I relentlessly support our deployed troops with emails and care packages.

This War on Terror is NEVER to be confused with Vietnam -they are NOT one and the same! We seem to be far kinder and more generous in our treatment of soldiers and Marines who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, but our treatment of those who served in Nam is shameful, and remains a dark stain on us individually and collectively.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Melt Away

I walk a lonely road,
The only one that I have ever known,
Don't know where it goes,
But it's home to me and I walk alone
It's cold, dark, dreary, hasn't stop raining all weekend... funny how the weather can sometimes feel like a reflection of what I'm feeling ....the clock ticked away the hours slowly...too slowly...I'm tired but sleep doesn't come easily....in fits and starts... and my apt seems so claustrophobic...so at 3:00am I layer myself in warm clothes, grab my IPOD, and I find myself going for a walk.

A long walk.

Alone....while the city sleeps.

Walking has a way of grounding me...but not tonite...tonite it's a walk of anger, hurt, frustration, as the rain hits my face hard; it's not even a gentle rain that washes and cleanses, it's a cold ice pellet kind of rain, that jolts you each time it hits your face.

I'm walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the border line
Of the edge and where I walk alone
I can't focus on any one thought as my mind wanders in and out of various conversations I've had recently.I'm thinking about what a reservist shared with me about his re-adjustment to civilian life.

Sgt.Single Guy is experiencing what I call "Divine Discontent". He served in Iraq for a year, working for a cause greater than himself. His time in Iraq has forever changed him, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, while the people in the world he has come back to have remained the same. He has become wiser, worldlier, and his life experiences separate him from those people that surround him, especially those women who remain untouched and uncaring of anything outside their small myopic universe, and whose naivety and lack of depth he finds intolerable. He feels so alone even as he is surrounded by so many. I truly empathize with him. I remember feeling that way so many times especially when in Hollywood. Neither he nor I suffer fools or shallowness lightly. He is not alone in his place of "Divine Discontent"---many guys that have come back share similar experiences.

I recognize it because I have experienced "Divine Discontent" all my life. At some points, it becomes easily recognizable, at other times in my life, It manifests covertly.

I walk down this empty street
Where the city sleeps
And Im the only one.
and I walk alone
Defenses come in many forms yet they all keep the world away from us just the same. The cyber world is one such defense. It keeps us connected across cities, states, and countries, but it also keeps us at bay. We hide within the ubiquitous internet, seeking intimacy, yet all the while knowing we do so at a safe distance.

From behind the safety of a cyber wall, we reveal ourselves, our inner thoughts and our deepest desires, to people we do not truly know, creating the illusion of intimacy.

Yet, how can we truly be intimate with someone when there is an entire dimension in the relationship that is completely missing. Cyber intimacy is just as much an illusion today as capricious sexual intimacy was in the 70's, 80s and 90's. And while illusions can be very powerful, at the end of the day, you walk away feeling something is still missing.

100 songs and I keep alternating between Greenday and Stabilo.

Everybody wants to hear someone say please
Cause everybody takes, and everybody steals
Everybody cries when somethings feels
Everybody is looking for the drug that heals.
Sometimes I feel like I am several different people: the person I am. The person I'd like to be. The person others perceive me to be or want me to be or need me to be.

Are we really ourselves in the cyberworld, or the figment of someones imagination?Does the cyber world allow us to express different sides of ourselves?When we connect with another, is it because we have found what we seek in another,or what we seek within ourselves?

Cause everybody wants, and everybody needs,
Everybody begs for self esteem
Why don't you get your mind out of the past
And everybody takes and everybody steals,
Everybody's been kicked by other heels

Down one street, left on another, right at the corner, I have no sense of where I am. I feel rain rain rain and more rain, hitting my face, it's getting colder, it still dark, and this part of the city is unfamiliar to me. I'm thinking of friendships lost, of why things unfolded as they did, of the choices some people make, of the choices I made, I' m trying to make sense of something that makes no sense.... I want to scream... but will anyone really hear me?

Doesn't anybody wanna take another shot at me ?
Go ahead the gun is loaded and the bullets are for free
Doesn't anybody spray perfume to cover up a smell ?
Doesn't anybody know where I go to get some air?
Wandering the streets alone at 3:00am...that's where I go to get some air.
To clear my mind........ cleanse my soul........... find some peace.
Yet none of that seems to be happening.

I keep reflecting back to conversations I wish I had never had with him, actions I wish had not been taken so that the outcome would never have occurred.....but then I'm struck with the thought that maybe this is exactly how it was all supposed to happen.....how it was meant to unfold. Now. In this way. Maybe. Maybe not. Doesn't matter. It has. One can't turn back time.

I lost a friend, a surrogate brother, for NO DAMN GOOD REASON. It's stupid. It's wrong. It didn't have to happen!! It shouldn't have happened!! We were friends! Friends are forever, no?? He was like a brother to me!!

Then a voice whispers gently "It may be wrong, it may be unfair, it's painful, maddening, frustrating, but it is what it is, you're angry, Hunt, just keep walking."
Anywhere! Everywhere! Nowhere! Just away!
Just keep walking. Eventually all roads lead you back home..... back to yourself.

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don't know where it goes
But it's home to me and I walk alone

I see two guys dressed in black, with long hair, cigs hanging from their mouths, walking in my direction.... as they approach I can sense I'm a mark for them...so I stop and stand defiant, while I think to myself

"Go ahead..make my nite...give me one good reason to ram my 4 inch heels into your throat with one swift kick that you won't soon forget".
They stop abruptly as if they heard my thoughts screaming at them across time and space, above the sound of rain hitting the street..... they look away, cross the street and move on.

Read between the lines
What's fucked up and everything's alright
Check my vital signs
To know I'm still alive and I walk alone
I crank my IPOD louder still alternating between Greenday and Stablio - hoping to shut out everything I'm feeling and thinking, but I'm all to aware that one can run, but never truly hide from one's own thoughts and feelings.

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating

It's raining harder now and I'm soaked....part of me wants to be in bed, asleep, warm, and yet another part of me wants to keep walking..............forever

Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
'Til then I walk alone
I have no idea how long I've been walking, what time it is, where I'm going, or what I'll do when I get there, when suddenly I see an internet cafe that's open 24/7

I walk in, look around. It's empty except for the goth guy working behind the cash counter.I grab a hot tea, which they have brewing for some bizarre reason, and by the way, where the fuck did this internet cafe come from??? It's in the middle of nowhere!! I walk towards the computer, sit down in the cushioned char, open to my blog, and start writing. It dawns on me how freaking cold I am, soaked to the bone; soaked to my very soul.

I start to write, but my fingers are sooooo fucking cold, I can't type. I pick up the hot tea, sip it, and suddenly I'm aware that I'm back outside on the street as the cold rain still hits my face!!
I 'm shivering, but I continue walking, while I try to figure out where this Styrofoam cup, filled with hot tea that I'm now sipping, came from.

That voice gently whispers again "Hunt, what time is it?''
"Where are you?"
"Who are you?"
This moment!

I keep walking until I find myself walking into my apt, unsure how I got here or where I've been.

The clock reads 5:30am.

I run a scalding hot bath, peel off my soaking wet clothes, and throw them out. I don't want them anymore...I don't need them...plenty more hang in my closet and fill my drawers.

I slip into the bath and let the scalding hot water envelope me. The water is so hot, and I'm so numb from the cold, that frankly it barely feels warm. Steam is coming off the water, so maybe, if I'm lucky, the hot water will melt me. I close my eyes and see myself melting away.

M e l t i n g.

The balcony door is open and I can hear the nightingales greeting the dawn.
A poem from Alden filters into my thoughts

"The nightingales are sobbing in
the orchards of our mothers,
And hearts that we broke long ago
Have long been breaking others"

Some of us hurl ourselves at life, while others crouch and wait for it to roll over us. I can tell who is taking on life, who is fending it off, and whether this is a new game, or whether it's old.

TS Elliot wrote: "April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain."

I think Elliot understood that Spring involves rebirth and that most people would rather lie dormant and not quite come to life.

Who fucking cares?? Not me!! I lost a good friend. Right now, I just want to melt away.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Turn Your Light On

Hey now, all you sinners
Put your lights on, put your lights on
Hey now, all you lovers
Put your lights on, put your lights on
Hey now, all you killers
Put your lights on, put your lights on

Hey now, all you children
Leave your lights on, you better leave your lights on
Cause there's a monster living under my bed
Whispering in my ear
There's an angel, with a hand on my head
She say I've got nothing to fear

Every night, shortly after the sunsets, as darkness descends upon the city, this big shiny star rises into the east, glittering vibrantly, her light is so strong its almost blinding. There is something very reassuring when I see her hovering in the sky, at about the same time, every nite. No matter what's happened in my life to throw me off center, no matter how angry, or sad, or frustrated, or scared, or all alone, I may feel, I look up, see my star, and I know all is fine...everything's going to be alright. I am comforted by her constant presence.

Tonite, when I needed to see her most, when I needed to feel comforted in the only way that her constant presence can provide, I looked up in the east sky...and there she wasn't! I didn't see her. I stared at the sky for quite awhile...but Her shining light is hidden, unable to be seen behind layers and layers of dark, gray clouds.

It hasn't stopped raining all day...it won't stop raining all nite.

Today I lost a friend

He was only a friend, nothing more, but he was like a brother to me, and that is why I am baffled, confused, and hurt; because I do not understand why I had to lose my friend.

Sometimes, fear can drive people to imagine things that simply are not true, nor would ever be.

Today I lost a friend, and I am deeply saddened.

Not All Heros Carry Guns

"The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example." Disraeli

Today,Thunder6 shares a wonderful letter from a truly heroic woman!

Mrs Watkins, you honour and inspire me with your grace, your dignity, and your personal heroism. I have no doubt that your husband is as proud of you, as you of he!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

DadManly Tells It Like It Is!

Dadmanly replies to a blog entry by a psuedo intellectual named "Gillard" (I refuse to offer a direct link to Gillard's blog) who Dadmanly notes, " has posted a very impressive looking analysis of the current situation in Iraq. The problem is, he distorts what little information he does have and uses that to draw unsupported conclusions from the data he misrepresents. In the abstract, so what. But Daily Kos has picked it up, and now these distortions are no doubt all over the left side of the blogosphere"

Gillard may want to believe he's an intellectual heavyweight, but truth is, he's swimming in shallow waters.....very shallow waters!

He's such a buffoon that he inspired within me an idea for a remake of tv series that I think I'll pitch to my Hollywood friends: "Gilliard's Island".

And judging from the responses of certain left wing lightweights who seem to think Steve is an intellectual genius...they'll be plenty to choose from as recurring guest stars!

Just how distorted is Gillard's alleged intellectual analysis? If he offered the same insightful analysis of South Central LA, where the Bloods and Crips fight their inner city turf wars, and distorted the truth proportionately, one would be left to conclude that ALL of Los Angeles is now a decaying city, in the midst of massive guerrila warfare in which the gangs not the cops were winning, chaos reigned,law and order was non existant, the cities residents are under seige by a hot-bed of scum and weirdos and Snake has 9 hours to find the device and Utopia and get out before the poison kicks in!

I can set the record straight about Los Angeles, Dadmanly handles Iraq!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

He kneeled a lieutenant

.......and he rose a Captain!

Congratulations Thunder6 on a much deserved promotion!

Details at 365 and a WakeUp

Monday, April 18, 2005

South Park Conservatives

I have a secret: I am a huge fan of South Park!
I am also a South Park Conservative!

A new book that has made my must read list is "South Park Conservatives" by Brian Anderson.

Quoting from a Tech Central Station article "Anderson,
the senior editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, uses fans of the popular -- and controversial -- Comedy Central animated series as a metaphor to describe the changing face of conservatism"

"The term refers to a kind of irreverent post-liberal or anti-liberal attitude or sensibility, one very in tune with popular culture. But it's not a coherent, fully developed political philosophy" says Anderson

He goes on to say of South Park Conservative university students that "Political correctness drives them nuts", "In interviewing students, for instance, it was clear how much the PC conformities of the campus Left turned them off."

"The elite media", Anderson says, "have the power to send out squadrons of reporters to investigate, say, Tom Delay but not Kofi Annan
and UN corruption, and that can still shape the public's perception of what's newsworthy, still can provide a narrative to the flux of events and issues." The ability to choose what to investigate and what to report remains powerful form of information control for big media. "

The book is less about South Park and more about how the intellectual exhaustion of the left, along with other factors such as excessive political correctness, the PC,talk radio, Fox News, and bloggers have shaped the new conservatives, impacted on politics, and helped the Right to achieve parity in the cultural war. The next frontier,he believes,will be Academia .

According to Anderson, campus students "are trending to the right on issues from how to view capitalism to attitudes about abortion and many view campus PC orthodoxy with abhorrence -- which is why so many of them love South Park."

It's a great read!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

You Know Your From Toronto When

A really great parking spot can move you to tears.
You can recommend about 3 good body piercing parlours.(*and 3 great parts of your body to pierce)
You make well over $100,000 and you still can't find a nice place to live.
You realize there are far more rainbow flags in the city than Canadian Flags.
When the temperature rises above zero degrees, you yell "Woohooo! Patio weather!"(*Absofuckinglutely right!)
You enjoy watching channel 47 multicultural TV
You're guaranteed to know at least one person on every episode of Speaker's Corner.(*Do family members count??)
You haven't been to the CN Tower since you were six, but still have nightmares about that damn turbo elevator. (*Shudders)
You've had at least 3 bicycles stolen in the past 10 years.(*No but I KNOW someone who has)
You've partied with at least one of the members of The Kids in the Hall
You've fantasized about having sex in Casa Loma (*ONLY fantasized??*whistles*)
At least 3 of your friends have moved to Vancouver (*4 but who's counting?!)
You turn your nose up at any establishment frequented by the S&M crowd -Scarborough and Mississauga
You never, never, never swim in the lake
You know "The Beaches" are really called "The Beach", but still say "The Beaches" just to annoy all the nitwits who live there (*heheheh)
You ever had a birthday party at the Organ Grinder or The Mad Hatter (*and they're still talking about it!!)
You can say "world's tallest freestanding structure" ten times fast
You know the correct answer to "Where do shopping carts go to die?" is "The Don River"
You speak better Chinese than French
The word "cabbagetown" doesn't strike you as particularily amusing
CastleFrank subway station remains one of the great mysteries of the universe for you.
You know what the bathrooms in the First Canadian Place are REALLY for (*I'll never tell)
You don't know where Fort York is, but have a vague recollection of being there in a past life (*with Shirley MacLaine)
You know the Demic's song "I Wanna Go To New York City" was intended as sarcasm, not a weekend getaway suggestion (*Ooopppsss!)
You know where to find Dim Sum, Sushi, Curry, Pad Thai and a dildo at 3 am on a weeknight (*And spare batteries!)
For the last time, it's pronounced 'TRONNA'!
You consider eye contact a sign of hostility and an invasion of your privacy.
It takes you half an hour to get to work by TTC and you are the envy of all your friends. (*or less)
You mourned the death of the Spadina Bus. (*Im still wearing black!!)
You know someone who went to high school with at least one member of The Barenaked Ladies or RUSH (*or had sex with them))
You laugh heartily at people who refer to highway four hundred and one. (*ROFLMAO)
You've taken the vomit comit.
You can maneuver your bike across Queen st. without getting caught in the streetcar tracks.
You know the difference between souvlaki, moussaka and spanakoptia. (*pass the Ouzo!)
You can name at least three locations of The Beer Store that are open till 11 PM.
You have NEVER been to the Hard Rock Cafe
You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Toronto.

Thanx to Mustang 23 for the link!

In This Moment

"Let us remain as empty as possible so that God can fill us up"
Mother Theresa

I'm an early riser, even on the weekends when most people take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in, I'm up at 5:00 am watching the sun rise. I love the colours that Mother Nature paints the sky with, pale shades of pink, blue, orange, purple, all blending into one another.

My apt is fairly high up, faces southeast, and offers a spectacular view of the park, with it's reflecting pool, the city, and the lake.

This is a very magical time of the day; the city populace is still asleep or indoors, the birds greet the rising sun with song, and there is a hum that the earth gives off that I can hear if I simply quiet my mind. This golden hum is what birds follow when migrating during the Winter, and when returning home in the Spring.

With my hot cup of freshly brewed tea in hand, I wrap a light wool blanket around me. There is still a slight chill in the air as I settle into my adirondack chair on the balcony, and let the golden hum seduce me, as the warm sun hits my face.

I am completely lost in this moment.

This is my time to connect deeply with God. While God informs my life daily, and I am aware of His presence constantly, this is my time alone with God, and I never feel more at one with all of life, with God, than I do in this moment.

In this moment, I am empty, my mind is quiet, and He restores my soul.
In this moment, I have received the gentle blessing of being alive.
"A person who wakes up in the morning is like a new creation" claims an Hasidic poem. In this moment, I am created anew.

Waking in the morning,
time smiles in my hand.

This dawn
lasts all day
Deena Metzger

Sunday, April 10, 2005

How Could It Come To This Again?

The TTC ( Toronto Transit Committee) and the TTC Drivers Union are deadlocked and in last minute meetings to try to come to some agreement. If they don't, 600000 commuters will have to try to find a way into work tomorrow.

This is not the first time this has happened, and the memory of chaos created last time, still lingers with all Torontians. Even those that do not commute suffer, because MORE cars are on the road, creating even greater than normal traffic gridlock.

How the fuck has it come to this AGAIN? Job security and higher wages( they already get paid $20.00/hr) are at the heart of the deadlock! Truthfully, the union and the TTC are 1% apart...union demanding a 3% wage increase over the $20/hr the now earn and the city is offering 2%.

Our new mayor David Miller was elected for many reasons not the least of which are his strong ties to the unions. The attached article makes a good point..that David will now allow his union buddies to go on strike for a mere 1%. The other issue at stake is the firing of drivers who arrive 4 minutes late to their destinations. Honestly this is a ridiculous stance by the city and David Miller needs to put a halt to it immediately. We are all 4 minutes late during the course of our days and weeks...and no one gets fired over that! Imagine firing pilots everytime a flight arrived four minutes late! Fucking nonsense.
But to strike over these two issues is every more inane!

Where the writer of the attached article and I disgree is whether or not the TTC should be deemed an essential service and therefore not entitled to strike!

Absofuckinglutely it should! His argument against it is weak...that Torontians will adjust...and find other ways to get to work...and once they do..they stick to those newer ways...they find a new normal...and they don't come back to using public transit anymore. Well THATS A HUGE PROBLEM. We do NOT need more cars on the road. And his theory that "companies will stagger hours of employment to accomodate the new normal" is LUDICROUS! THAT NEVER HAPPENS IN THE REAL WORLD. It didnt happen as a result of the last strike and it won't happen as a result of this strike!

When the drivers go on strike NO ONE WINS. Not the drivers, not the city, and Torontians. I. like thousands of others, have NO other means of getting to work conveniently. I don't own a car, and no one I work with lives near by and/or wants to drive into downtown, and few people today want to deal with the over priced parking rates, parking lots that will be overcrowded, and gas prices that keep soaring. This writer is clearly oblivious to those realities.Not to mention that traffic gridlock makes it damn near impossible for firefighters and emergency vehicles to make their way through the city, thereby creating an extremely dangerous if not life threatening situation. This ALONE makes the best argument for deeming the TTC an essential service. And in the end The TTC is the best, cheapest, and strongest pollution saving means of transportation, for almost a milllion communters in a city that keeps growing in population.

But these issues and realities are not new....this should have been forseen...and the TTC should have been made into an essential service years ago.
Once again we are on the verge of another strike, in less than 24 hours, and Im furious! How the fuck did we end up here again??!!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Hollywood in the Digital Era

While I worked in Tinseltown, the issue of going digital, was a hot and scary topic.

With music industry sales slumping, the only explanation given was "internet downloading and piracy". Sadly, this kind of myopic thinking would prevail and it's echos would resonate with Hollywood film makers, and the money men at the studios.

So Hollywood fought the digital evolution trying desperately to keep it at bay until they could find a way to "control or mitigate" the losses they feared "going digital" would bring. But, they would soon learn what the Borg already knew: "resistance is futile"

2005 has already proven to be tipping point in the evolution of film making. Digital releases scheduled include Madagascar, Phantom of the Opera,
Star Wars 3, and in 2004, Shrek 2 and Collatoral.

Digital film making is hundreds of times LESS expensive than shooting with film. Film needs to be processed before it can be viewed, and the average print cost runs about $1500. Film being run through projectors get damaged quickly and new prints are required often. The average cost to produce and market a film is around $90 million, and few ever recoup that investment let alone make profit.

In the battle between bottom line and artistic elan, digital film making is a great compromise, and one that benefits artistic elan as much as bottom line!

We have entered an era in which EVERYTHING is going digital, and mobile, virtual, and personal. And in the process, the digital evolution is changing the nature of authority.

Access to information has always been the root of power. But in todays world, the digital evolution is removing traditional barriers that prevented the masses from accessing knowledge reserved for those in "power".

The Digital Era is changing business models, just ask Hollywood! That's what the Hollywood Elite fear most, a change in a business model that threatens their control and by fiat their power base. Lets examine this in greater detail.

Traditionally, Televison generates income by earning advertising dollars based on the number of viewers it delivers at a certain time, of a certain age. With VCR, PVR, and Tivo, viewers now fast forward or skip ads altogether. We now have INDIVIDUAL power to watch what we want, when we want, how we want, on whatever hard device we want. So now the question becomes, "how do media companies generate profits?"

While digitial cinema will become mainstream in the next two years, the risk of piracy will increase, since a digital copy is always perfect. Right now the film industry loses over $4 billion yearly through illegal copying. The fear that the film industry will suffer losses as great as the music industry is all to real. Hollywood will have to find innovative ways to mitigate those losses, but following the music industry's lead of suing those that download isnt the way to endear yourselves to the very people who you want purchasing your product.

How about creating a new business model using the technology we now have, that will generate multiple sources of revenue while mitigating losses and production expenses?

Lets start by reducing the over the top salaries we pay actors! With digital film making, the production costs are greatly lowered, and no longer justify paying actors $25 million a film, once deemed neccesary in order for studios to recoup their investment, because it was believed that mega stars would attract film audiences, thereby mitigating the risk of a flop. This is no longer true; so with digital film making reducing production costs, the return on investment is lowered, the risk is considerably reduced and higher salaries are no longer needed!

Traditional business models have always operated vertically. In the digital era, its all about horizonal connections! Where complexity used to reign, simplicity is now the order of the day. Where compromise was common place, consumers will now want it all: affordability, reliability, security, simplicity, manageability, adapability, innovation, and connection.

We shop online, chat on line, watch movies on line, listen to music online, we even have sex on line,and we have already begun to move towards casting election ballots digitally. Welcome to the 21st Century!

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP, asks a rather profound question and one well worth considering: What does it do to our concept of community if the places where people traditionally come together - films, music, malls, grocery stores, - can best be experienced individually?


Sunday, April 03, 2005

Be Not Afraid!

The massive outpouring of condolences from Muslims, Jews and Christians, at the passing of the Pope, is a testimony to how deeply Pope John Paul II touched everyone.

He changed the church when he became the first Pope to visit a temple and to visit a mosque. and only the second pope to visit the Holy Land.

In 2000 his trip to the Holy Land won over Jews, Christians, and Muslims. When he visited Israel, and stood at the West Wall, he apologized to Jews and exonorated them for the death of Jesus, declaring that Jews were no longer condemned to wander because they killed Jesus, ( a belief that Catholic church had subscribed to for centuries) and that they were entitled to live on this holy land of Israel. He declared himself a friend of Israel, and nurtured ties with the Jewish community. Under him, Vatican II took the unprecendent step of declaring, upon deep analysis of the Bible, that Jews and Muslims could also achieve Salvation, through the mystery that is God's grace.

He also changed the course of history, when after visiting his home country of Poland, he emboldened and empowered his beloved Polish people to rise against the shackles of communism, and brought about the fall of communism.

Such was the soft power of the Pope Paul II, an ambassador of morality and faith, ALL Faith. Intelligent, articulate and charismatic, "he lived his life as his Savior did".He never waivered on his principals, and he taught us how to be better humans.

Even his death served as a message: You have value even in your suffering and death. God's love is closest to those during their time of suffering.

Thousands of young people wanted to be near the Pope in his last moments and be with him through the night which speaks to his very special relationship with young people.

The Pope understood that we live together is a smaller world, and reached out across the religious divide and believed that Christians Jews and Muslims needed to dialogue and work together towards common goals of peace and justice. He brought us together to do the work of God.

His impact on youth is unprecented. Real freedom is the freedom to do the right thing, and he taught the youth how to turn to truth and goodness in spite of the message of the prevailing pop culture which seems so often to align itself with greed, lies, cheating, dishonesty, and moral ambigiousness.

He was a moral theologian, conservative in many ways, liberal in others
Not everyone agreed with him, but EVERYONE respected him.

In his first address as Pope to the thousands who stood in St Peter's Basilica, he uttered these words " Be Not Afraid". It was the message of his own life, his advice from the Gospels, and an exhortation to all of us, and it became more poignant during his latter years as his health detoriated, and we watched him struggle.

In his best seller " Crossing the Threshold of Hope" he candidly reflected on his own sinfulness and sense of unworthiness of God's love. "Of what should we not be afraid? We should not fear the truth about ourselves."

"Be Not Afraid" defined his life, his papacy, and his death.

He was a truly remarkable man. The world's loss is Heaven's gain!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Congratulations Michael!

"A warrior was born today, and he is good. He is my son and best friend"

On March 31st, 2005, Michael from "A Day In Iraq" became the proud father of an 8 lb baby boy.

Read his great post at A Day In Iraq

Friday, April 01, 2005

A Hard Beauty To Love

"In LA, its hard to tell if you're dealing with the real true illusion or the false one."

It's an interesting observation, from Eve Babitz, about a town whose largest industry is about creating illusions.

California was named after a 15th Century Spanish novel which portrayed a miragelike paradise called "Kalifornia".

Los Angeles was named after imaginary beings who may or may not exist Hollywood was named after a plant that never existed.

Hollywood is home to an industry that creates fantasies which are filmed in a town named after beings that don't exist in a state named after a paradise that never existed. Its all unreal, surreal, ethereal. In this town, one can reinvent oneself as one wants. In NY one wears existential angst on their sleeves for the world to see but in LA one is expected to smile and be sunny and cheerful all the time - like the weather.

Hollywood is a great town for self invention but ironically, you have to come to LA with a sense of self. Because the longer you're in LA, the more a confused diminishment sets in. Maybe that's why so many people who come to LA wind up lost. You absolutely cannot expect that this city is going to give you some kind of identity! You will simply end up as one of the many crazy people on Hollywood Blvd - talking to imaginary beings in a town named after invisible beings in a state named after a Paradise that never existed.

Steve Ericson commented that "the desert sands blow in while the seas slowly rise on a people with so little sense of self left that they pretend not to notice". That's true - and when an earthquake or fire destroys everything they owned, then they cry out that without their art, clothing, jewelry, cars, books, they no longer know who they are. Truth is - they never really knew to begin with. They had no real sense of self! Maybe that's why some many people ending up wearing whatever mask is easiest to create.Hollywood and Los Angeles - one city named after imaginary beings, one named after an imaginary plant, both located in the state of California, named after a Paradise that never existed, the figment of a woman's dream , an illusion, a mirage.

There is a natural beauty to California: the mountains, the sea, the sun, the trees, the bouganvilla, the blue skies; everywhere you look you can see beauty - beautiful people, beautiful cars, beautiful clothes. A city where nature's beauty is juxtapostioned against a superficiality that comfortably masks most peoples inner void.

But I'm reminded constantly of what I once read: that California's real beauty is the beauty of letting go. Letting go where you came from, letting go of old lessons, letting go of who you want to be for who you really are - letting go of attachments (you shouldn't get attached to anything you own in a city where earthquakes and fires will take it all away in one fleeting moment).

It's a hard beauty to love.