I’m Fed Up & The California Ballot Initiative

There had to be a moment in the life of Howard Jarvis, when he said, probably first to himself, then to his family and friends, “I’m fed up [with the predatory actions of the public sector] and so began Prop 13, which put an end to endless property tax increases. No doubt such a moment occurred again when Gray Davis put forward a plan (no doubt a bright idea from the department of transportation), to triple automobile registration fees, leading to an I’m-Fed-Up inspired recall and election of the Terminator.

Not only do I’m-Fed-Up measures meet public acceptance at the ballot box, but also, they have a nudging effect on the population, inspiring them with hope by giving them an illusion of power stirred up by raging against the machine, raised fist salutes etc. However, when the result is money taken from the grasp of the bureaucracy, initiatives can do long term good.

On the ballot in San Diego now is another I’m-Fed-Up initiative, directed at the way public employee’s unions, public safety officers associations and the League of Cities (a name mis-used by the association of city management employees and elected officials—the lobby a Brown Act violation by definition) “encouraged” elected officials (who depend on public employees both for their endorsements in elections and to not screw things up and make them look bad), to hypothecate the general fund forever, to pay for extraordinary retirement benefits, while their constituents see no social security payment increases and the city ignores repairs to infrastructure. (This too shall pass.)

The root of the problem is that public sector employees hold trump cards in their ability to influence policy at a very low as well as higher levels of government, which shows up in every problem that ends up as an I’m-Fed-Up issue. This underlying issue could be addressed in a ballot measure to prevent endorsements by their associations but it would be difficult to police the internecine relationships between office holders and paid staff. The very need for this illustrates the moral/ethical conflicts. However, the voting public might at least obtain a seat at the negotiation table with other initiative ballot measures that could direct a laser beam on public sector parasitism: Ban the parking meters.

Ban them because the idea of municipalities renting space on public streets, a practice covered under the rubric, “parking meters” is a double tax since the public already pays for construction and maintenance of streets and highways. Charging to use them for the intended purposes: driving and parking ignores the fact that this wasn’t understood at the outset when the funds were approved for their development. Yet, while people would be outraged if they asked to pay for using freeways, they are not consulted about parking meters. The idea is someone other than you is paying but that is really nonsense since there isn’t an infinite total amount of money available to the economy. Take this money out of the reach of public predation by banning the practice. Let people spend their money on other things. Not only are meters double taxation, but also, they harm small businesses that can’t afford to provide parking lots as can chains and big box stores. Metered parking is not about parking limitation, it is a strategy for collecting money. (I wonder if Mr. DeMaio, who boasts of his support of the pension regulating measure, would dare stand up for voters against this far more predatory form of public larceny.)

Charges for parking violations could also be addressed by initiative as should the whole money making machine that traffic “infractions” has become, a poignant issue in view of global warming and fodder for yet another I’m-Fed-Up measure. There’s a reason when a metropolitan area the size of San Diego/Tijuana (total population now exceeding 6? million) between Rosarito and Camp Pendleton can’t muster the political will to organize a mobility system that frees those who wish it from their need for automobiles. (Putting aside the sociological and economic effects of severely constraining mobility in a large, spread out area.) The reason there has been no political will for a network of reliable, convenient public transit is not the influence of car dealers, oil companies, repair garages and insurance companies that benefit from automotive traffic, but much more important, the greater and more direct political influence of public sector employees—the traffic cops, courts, the private collection agency that partners with the courts with the sinister name, “Alliance”, red-light camera and parking meter companies and all the municipal employees who in various ways have their faces in this trough. Endorsement of candidates by peace officer’s associations, firemen and the like carries disproportionate weight with media and press and a gullible public is unwilling to admit that cops are just neighbors licensed to carry guns and are far from being saints. That’s another issue.

Two Camps In USA Today

The world is now divided into two camps: those who have no jobs and can afford very little, who travel rarely, if ever, and are seldom seen on airliners or cruise ships or in taxi cabs, legitimate theaters and four star restaurants, have recently lost their homes or have never owned one, buy everything they need at Walmart, Food For Less and garage sales, and those who are receiving money each month from gainful employment, annuities or trust funds inheritance, who populate crowds at airline terminals, hotels and concerts, who shop at department stores, buy iPads, iPhones, hybrid cars and private vintage wines, pay mortgages or live in moderately priced apartments in the better neighborhoods, dine with fashionably-coifed friends on patios outside trendy restaurants and complain about toxicity of genetically modified food, cell phone radiation and municipal water supplies.

I lost it at Lindbergh field last night. The irony of that name reflects everything about the denouement of San Diego from a desirable place to live to Las Vegas by the sea. Every opportunity of graceful living in San Diego has been usurped for exploitation by tourism and in the process, transformed into something unlovely and false yet pricey. Meanwhile, middle class consumers in the thronging crowd attending departures and arrivals at the international airport mill around, like nervous cattle in chutes leading to the slaughter house, uttering an occasional moan of complaint but don’t really get it. Unlike their counterparts in rural places, those who live in places like southern California are oblivious to material conditions in which they live, nor that they would be far better off back in Tennessee, Milwaukee, Lincoln or the places in Viet Nam, the Philippines, Korea or Guatemala that they or their parents or grandparents left to come to the land of opportunity. Finally, as that opportunity is revealed as illusory, a trick to lure them into coming here to add to the volume of consumers, in places in the middle east, people are realizing that it is a better plan to overthrow regimes that suppress opportunity there rather than trying to find it elsewhere. Meanwhile, unawakened multitudes stand in queues to be hustled by other wage-earners into aluminum tubes, like cattle.

Why do we consistently miss the most obvious?

We gobble the idea of six degrees of separation like private label scotch whisky and ignore the malt upon which the theory rests, in this case that everything (every little thing) is in some way, intimately related.

Someone writes or tell us, “context is everything” and we nod like stoned sophomores but, when some idiot sprays bullets in packed movie theater, the focus of attention is all about the idiot’s face or his hair, how he dresses, his choice of weapon, affiliations, mental state, etc., and we ignore the context in which his act makes horrifying sense.

In this way, we assure it will happen again in a different place with a different murderer because the act was the product of the context and the individual that acts it out is merely coincidental.

Martian Terraform – Santee Lakes Recreational Campground

It’s a far cry, as my mother and her mother before her would say, from a campsite in a forest on the northwestern edge of the new world to an overlook at the edge of the upper lake behind Padre Dam, an oasis in an otherwise arid locale known as Santee, the result of the refusal by citizens of the county of San Diego to drink the processed product of their liquid waste. With prideful words, if not heart, Mr. Skinner, the current director of Santee Lakes Recreational Campground, a private enterprise owned by the Padre Dam Municipal Wastewater Treatment facility, waxes eloquent about the potential clarity of water in the five manmade lakes, were it not, he tells me, for the presence of a lot of algae, a result of not quite sufficient aeration and the accumulation of chemicals that are not required to be removed in the treatment process for non-potable water.

Were it not for the presence of a thin belt of stucco, ranch style homes that the developers of the sewage treatment company were permitted to build on the periphery around the five small lakes, if you ignore the source of the water and the unnatural rectangular shape of the lakes, the panorama of brown hills, studded with scrub oak, habitat for snakes and rodents, substantial numbers of noisy coyotes, occasionally visible mountain lions, hawks and ravens, will fool you into thinking you are somewhere far distant from the thronging multitudes and traffic of the San Diego/Tijuana megalopolis. Were it not for cries of egrets and blue heron, you might think you’re in a terraformed habitat on Mars or Phoenix, Arizona.

Prototypical Martian Terraform

My One True Love

Cupid Has An Appointment

My one true love, V, who is to me like Brooke Magnanti’s “Boy” though circumstances prevented our going beyond the first kiss (in a just and fair world, imbued with the spirit of a compassionate God, we would have), and after trials and tribulations (jealously thought to be exotic), found her way through the occult and pharmacological to Jesus and, while under the influence of divine passion, was eventually led to marry a fellow Jesus devotee, with whom she propagated offspring, none of whom appear to reflect her singular piquant charm, perhaps because their dna was dilluted by more gross dominant paternal genes.  The spell that was cast on me by her voice, eyes, touch of her skin, hair, etc., must have surprised nature as much as it did me—aberrant strands of dna straying from the path, producing a rare beauty, the kind that wounds the archer, as with the youngest daughter of the Sicilian king, Psyche, whose jealous mother, Aphrodite, separated from her love.

In V, an incarnation of Psyche’s mythic grace, the soul again divided from animal lust, the marriage of which results in bliss, has her now wed to a sufficient idea—leaving her true lover to peripatetic dispersion of his seed with little purpose. Nature is a pack rat, nothing is discarded, leastwise, recessive genes and in another time her great great great grand child and one of mine will find each other, unite and foster a universe of bliss.

Now, however, V has become a highly successful writer of spiritual guidance books on the covers of which are promotional phrases like, “AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD” and “A SOLID FOUNDATION IN GOD’S TRUTH” and “A COMMITMENT TO OBEDIENCE”, while I, her match made in heaven, follow the mandate of my design by writing plays with titles like, “Fast Cars and Slow Orgasms – Cementing a Relationship”.

Having sex with any and every willing object I could hasn’t lead me to feel V’s blush in that one kiss we shared. Though sex is delicious and I’ve grown attached to and possessive about cohorts even though lacking that charged quality I felt with V and after awhile, I came to believe I’d imagined it for if it was real, then I must blame my naive fear and hesitation, not as did V, her disturbed, frightened mother, that prevented me from taking her when I should have, regardless of consequences, at all costs, when I had the chance to play the masculine role libidinous women can’t resist, who want to be taken, held, caressed, ridden, used and put away wet.

A romantic, only at those times, when I became sufficiently pent up and in the coincidental presence of a similarly tensed female, an übermensch arose in me like the reverse metamorphosis of a butterfly becoming lustful blind worm, the result of which held sufficient promise for a woman, leading to relationships, which should have stayed one-nighters but didn’t because of confused romantic ethics when conscientious copulators try to make the lies they told each other, true, or some more pragmatic purpose. Over time, I came to believe I’d imagined the spark of V’s touch or that it was the coincidence of something chemical, impersonal, even childish and unimportant.

When I learned a few years ago about her love affair with Jesus, I felt I had another good reason to lament a religious tradition, which for 2000 years has been the source rapacious ideologies ranging from the genocide of the native population of this hemisphere led by Catholic friars to the horrors of kristalinacht and Auschwitz. I knew about V’s past but very little about how it had affected her after we parted and in my heart I cry that she suffered so long and that, wherever I was, whatever I was doing, I had been so absorbed in my own needs that I didn’t even think to act on her behalf.

But having learned, finally, one day, by accident, that she had found some kind of peace, I saw her books on the shelf a book store in a town on the Oregon Coast and I refused to read one or to take her seriously. Until one day last February, I was telling a girl friend, J, who is also my lawyer and likes to advise me, about what had happened with V and the mystery of that kiss and J said to, “you have no idea about V’s relationship with Jesus…not a clue, not the first idea!”  Not one to shirk such a challenge, I borrowed one of V’s books from the public library, coincidentally, along with research I was doing for a play about contemporary sexual predicaments, thus unwittingly tweaking the mentality of the play with an unlikely combination of libertine, spiritual and sentimental points of view. My experience with V has taught me that De Sade was right–Jesus would have to agree.

Conversations With God – V Cafe 976, Pacific Beach

Fuck the DEA and other brands of American imbecility, I can’t stay in a bad mood in PB. Firstly, because it’s hard to keep my mind on it and watch where I’m walking so I’m prone to fall on my face in front of a half naked coed “innocently” sashaying down Cass Street, sucking on a smoothie. Secondly, because, although they can’t be going anyplace for which there could be reason to rush, like drivers in TJ (where by definition rapid response is an oxymoron), they turn their cars in front of you with nonchalance, as if an unconscious self-assertion pitted against the undifferentiated human background of  conformity of which they are a dedicated part, which amuses me no end.

Turning left from Ingraham onto Riviera this afternoon, I saw looming large in the rear view mirror, behind a shiny tinted glass windshield, a middle-aged idiot driving one of those enormous chromed-out Dodge Ram Turbo Diesel Supreme Macho pickup trucks. Reminded me of the caption printed on the frame enclosing the license plate of D’s gold Corolla, “If you’re gonna ride my ass, at least, pull my hair!”. As I made the turn, I saw a silver Prius wanted to reverse out of a driveway and, to spite the tailgating clown driving the Dodge, rather than out of some nobler inspiration, I braked to allow the Prius to enter, stopping traffic and hoping the shmuck in the truck would pay for my next car. His response was to veer the Ram to try to pass me on the right. Give the guy one for reaction time and perseverance but by then the Prius blocked his maneuver—the dude lost the round. I’m sure he’ll be back on the line next time the whistle blows.

Walked up the stairs past the “wait to be seated” sign and into 976 feeling over-confident if not upbeat. Four coeds surrounded my usual table, kibitzing in deutsch sprache over their laptops. Put my stuff down on the corner table beside them and said, “hello” accompanied by an ordinary southern Cal off-handed smile, which the girls ignored with typically distant teutonic snobbery…I imagined these assholes blowing kisses to their SS husbands and brothers going off to murder Jews and faggots back in the day. Welcome to the USA, babezillas, careful not to open your minds, something real might fall in.

With no definite plan in mind, I sauntered up to the counter to order a “beverage”–table rent. A recording of the Temptations’ My Girl, drifted toward me like Cupid’s golden dart and as I struggled to return from a visit to the past, B’s brown hair tumbling over ivory shoulders and breasts, taught nipples in classic form, I heard the young man behind the counter saying, “Hi, how are you?” With a glance, taking in his enviably slim young body in navy blue “976” T shirt and de rigreur Levi pants, I felt an unspecified pang of envy for the opportunity of his self-assured and my own lost youth and balanced my self esteem as I engineered a response he could appreciate,

“I’m ok,” I said, “high, at least. How ’bout you?” He grinned a 420 grin full of straight white teeth, smiles and sparkly eyes.”

“Great,” he said , “what would you like?”

“I really don’t know…something non-lethal.., definitely something non-caffeinated—something cold and smooth…”

“I can do smooth!”

“You say that to all the guys.” Toying with intimacy like macho guys who don’t go there but aren’t phobic about it.

“Yeah,” he said, “I do, in fact.” Being cool.

We laughed together at the homeo-erotic reference, perhaps, telepathing a shared vision of activities in a prison dorm. He said, “I can make you a smoothie.”

“What kind of smoothies can you make?”

“What are you into?” (Taunting? Cheeky fucker.)

“Women…obsessively, actually. Really.” We laughed some more. “So what do you suggest—about the smoothie, I mean.”

“Well,” he said, “I like mango, strawberry, raspberry.”

“In the direction of pink, that’s good.”

“Yes,” self-satisfied grin about his cuisinal pun.

“Ok, let’s do that. I’ll use my imagination. We can call it Eskimo Pie—no, that’s already taken. How about Mango Raspberry Chick? More direct, Cool, Sweet Pussy.”

I took out my credit card.

“No,” he said, this one’s free.”

“No shit?”

“I like you,” he said, “you’re cool.”

“Thank you. I like me, to,” I said.