Please visit Morris Kight

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Festivus for the Rest of Us

This time of year is designed to be stressful and hence at least a tad disappointing.  In addition to all the year-end bookkeeping duties that anyone who pays taxes is too familiar with, we have overburdened ourselves with a competitive, consumerist mindset that could make the Pharaohs blush.  It's nonsense.  It doesn't really matter.  I have discovered that most people of substance prefer time spent creating happy memories.

Time, that is the commodity.  Happy memories are the rewards.

A writer for the famed 90s TV Show, "Seinfeld," Dan O'Keefe adapted a script for the half-hour sitcom from a tradition started by his father Daniel O'Keefe.  The father O'Keefe discovered the Festivus holiday in a 1966 book about obscure holidays.  Now, I don't promote the "airing of grievances" as a holiday tradition nor would I partake in the after dinner "feats of strength," as practiced in the fictional Costanza household.  I do however encourage finding your own way to celebrate.  Celebrate what you feel in your heart (and sometimes the work is in finding a feeling in your heart) with who you enjoy.

I applaud O'Keefe's idea to step outside the box and to unleash the chains of traditions.  Reexamine your habits and values and adjust what simply doesn't work.  If you can do nothing else, be brave with your own life.

Don't cave to societal pressures to spend what you can not afford or do what you resent or even to be anyplace where your heart is not safe and open.  I know this from experience.  It is a lovely thing to be free.  It is a fine day to be where I want to be and where I am wanted; and to appreciate the experiences that taught me the value in that.  I know the painful differences.

Continued blessings to us all.

PS - I just came across this lovely piece from The Christian Science Monitor (by way of Yahoo News)  with some simple, common sense down-home advise on staying sane and emotionally healthy all year round:

"Psychologists have found that happiness is positively linked to social connections that are substantial, not superficial. At a time when resources are scarce, we need to tap into a resource we already have in abundance: ourselves."
I repeat: substantial, not superficial.  We find what we seek.  We seek what we are.  We are our relationships.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Traveling to New Orleans?

When I think of New Orleans, I think music, food, fun, and some of the greats of American literature.  Check out Louis' literary pub crawl (it's a tour of sorts).  And please let us know what you think.

thanks for the love.  Stay safe out there in the holidaze madness.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What Morris Kight thought it might be like in 2010

In a 1976 radio interview with Jonathan N. Katz (this Jonathan Katz NOT that Jonathan Katz), Morris Kight said: 

"By the year 2010 the population will have doubled. If you believe that we're doing a lousy job now think what it'll be like with the decline of fossil fuel, deterioration of air and water, world wide wars. A lot of troubles are coming. Society can be conned into believing a lot of lies. Gays as sick or sinful is a lie. There are a lot of other lies."

As much as Kight loved being right, I can't imagine he'd be too happy about being this right.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Congratulations to all who voted

Another election season over.  California did right by the blues and rest of the country was given back to the reds.  If all is fair in love and war, than it's even more fair in an elected government.  We need to sit tight and let the people do their jobs.

Representatives from the tea party have been in office for less than 48 hours and they aren't complaining about Obama--yet.

Prop 19, though it didn't pass it proved that there are at least 47% of voters in favor of legalizing personal use of cannabis.  This has propelled the conversation forward in a huge way.  Recently, while going through some newspapers from 1970, I found a number of editorials calling for the death penalty for pot use.  So, this may not be the prize we hoped for--but it is huge progress.  Don't discount that and know that the initiative will be back on the ballot.

Interesting note about Prop 19, it didn't win Humboldt County.  Humboldt is the growing capital of the world for cannabis.  It is big business and family business in those parts and those folk scrutinized this bill.  Tells me, they didn't like the taxing aspect and that it was, in fact, a poorly written initiative.

Meg-a-bucks Whittman was told by the California voters what she can do with her almost 150 million dollars.  These were obscene amounts of money spent on this election, but Meg outdid all.  It's obscene because of the number of folk standing in food lines and sleeping on the streets.  She couldn't fix the world with her money anymore that she'd fix California with her "business expertise."

Glad to see Carly go away.

And oh so glad that California told those two Texas gazillionares what they can do with their oil.  There was a loud shout of "No on 23" heard throughout the state.

Game on.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


November 2 - get prepared, review your sample ballot, know the issues and understand your position.  It's your civic duty.  This is the only "homework" we really get in life--to effectively participate in our government.

I voted today.  I always vote early and vote by mail.  I enjoy the process.  I spent a little time online this afternoon researching the judicial appointments.  Most of these are "yes" or "no" votes (should they be elected to the office).  It can be a little complicated.  If you live in California, I found a cool website that helps you to "choose your judges," the three Supreme Court Justice choices.  It is a system, based upon your personal answers to a short survey, how you would likely vote based upon your values and preferences.

The rest of the judges, you're on your own.

If you're looking for some opposing views on the judges, this site is much more right-leaning than myself, but it's a good comparison and I use this as a "Reality Check," meaning that if this guy is for something then I'm generally not.

For the State Measures, there are some excellent resources with organizations recommendations.  My recommendation is for your to check out a few of these, compare them, and then check your own conscience and vote the way you truly want to see the world operate. 

League of Women Voters go over the Measure quite thoroughly, you can get a lay-man's understanding of the issues and the impacts.

Go beyond your comfort level a little this time.  I am a big proponent of dismantling the two-party system and we'll do that not by creating a three-party system.  We'll dismantle the two-party system by not supporting the parties.  Support the candidate, the idea, the value system, support the hair cut if you must.  But be willing to see beyond your party lines. 

The most important thing is- Vote.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Los Angeles Irish Film Festival

Thursday, the last day of September 2010, was a huge successful festive kick-off to the fourth LA Irish Film Festival at the new location for the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences (on Vine Street in Hollywood). 

The festival kicked off with two rare silent films, great finds from the archives, with an original musical composition by the extremely talented Eimear Noone.  From 1914 is a film about the story (one of the many stories) of Ireland's fight for independence using patriot Father Tom Murphy, who had a price on his head, and the famed Irish leader (depending upon who you talk to) Robert Emmet.  Included is news footage from the day that included a piece with the big man himself, Michael Collins.  the second silent film, with an original composition by Noone, was the very funny "William Rogers in Dublin," from the American Cowboy's trip to the city in 1927.  It was most likely Rogers who, unwittingly, set a precedent for teasing the Irish just for being Irish.

The festival was off to a successful start and officially began with the contemporary dramady (a word the Irish probably detest), "Pierre's Bounty."  Unfortunately, it won't get a wide release in the States but will be available on DVD.  It's funny, it's unpredictable, and it has the ever so good Jim Broadbent. 

Followed by cheer and regalia till sometime in the early hours of the first day of October, 'twas a good start to a weekend of talent and cheer.

I was back for the closing night (I prefer to bookend these kinds of things) at the Aero Theatre on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.  The documentary, "BallyBrando," about the making (or the monumental unmaking) of a film "Divine Rapture," that had begun filming in Ballycotton in 1995 starring Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp, Debra Winger, and John Hurt.  After 10 days of filming in the small Irish village, the movie came crashing down on everyone's hopes when the young producer, Barry Navidi, found out that he'd been "had," and the escrow account that contained all the production monies was a fraud.  some of the best interviews include the village locals who entertained and boarded the American interlopers, only too briefly.  Brando's cook said, that Brando told her that Ireland made him feel "more at home here than anywhere else in the world.  It's nice because this was all weeks after the disastrous suicide of his young daughter, Cheyenne.  Perhaps the documentary will do what the feature film could not do, put Ballycotton on the motion picture map.  If you ever had the opportunity to see this documentary, see it.

Followed by a brief Colin Devlin set on his acoustic and electric guitars.  Good stuff.

The festival closed with a screening of the 1990 film, "The Field," starring Richard Harris and, once again, John Hurt (can't really get enough of John Hurt).  "The Field," is a poignant, yet sad, tale of an Irishman and his field and an American interloper coming back "to find his roots," as the locals sneer.  This Ireland at its most heartbreaking, depressing, and it's what gives them a reason to drink.  Jim Sheridan, the film's director, was at the last minute unable to make the evening.  He was supposed to conduct a tribute to Richard Harris by way of interviewing Harris' three grown sons, Jared, Damian, and Jamie (and his grandson joined them on stage but I didn't catch the young boy's name).  Middle son Damian was a bit snarly and wouldn't take the bloody gum out of his mouth as he spoke.  All three work in the film industry, to varying degrees of success.  Their talk, moderated by Paul Quinn, was unfocused and did little to enlighten anyone but to the fact that as children these boys met a lot of famous people.  One of the brother's began with, "well, my step father is Rex Harrison," and that pretty much began the litany of names dropping.

A reception followed across the street from the Aero at EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY (a children's book and art store).  They kindly opened their doors for us as their first public opening.

The series was compiled by Lisa McLaughlin-Strassman (who also uncovered the two silent films that opened the weekend) and Juli C. Lasselle.  Gwen Deglise assisted. Rachele Rath, my new friend, organized the voluteers.

Any day is a good day to be Irish, but this was the best weekend to be Irish in Los Angeles.  Thank you to the Irish Film Board for keeping their doors open in these economically challenging times and for funding some of the best artists in the world.  I felt like I was in the middle of the Saudi Arabia of Northern Europe--there is an oil well of talent yet to be found.

Blessings to all!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fagots Stay Out

This is the sign that hung in a neighborhood bar in West Hollywood from the mid-fifties to 1970.  This is how Morris Kight tells the story:

"This sign was a great catalyst for the gay movement.  In spring of 1970 we did a change-in, sit-in, shop in, boycott and picket.  It took all that to persuade [the owner] to surrender us the sign and to never discriminate again in employment or service."

The pickets went on for months and in an unusual twist for the times the LA County Sheriff's were on the side of the demonstrators.  Especially odd since the sign went up in the fifties when the Sheriff's Department warned the owner that his place was picking up "a reputation."

So the the sign came down in 1970 and became a central piece in the Morris Kight Collection.  The new owner of the place (escrow hadn't even closed when the demonstrations began) enjoyed the free publicity that the sign (and the demonstrations) generated that he scrawled out a new fagots stay out sign (questionable spelling and all).  That sign would get taken down and put back up over the years.  At one point, he even had it match books printed.  Finally, West Hollywood incorporated in 1984 and the very first thing the newly elected mayor did was to march into the bar and demand that that sign come down and that discrimination against homosexuals would no longer be tolerated.

Washington D.C., did you hear that?

9/11 12,13,14...

And life goes on. It's different, sure. Those who are eager to pontificate will ask, 'what did we learn?' Well, we learned that there are no weapons of mass destruction--other than our own imaginations. But I'm not certain everyone of us learned that.

Our 9/11 memorializing has turned into "angry protests." We are set upon ourselves. We are determined not to get along. We, human beings, always return to a pattern of isolating a group of individuals for being a certain way. It's a pattern since long before WWII and Nazi Germany. Humans need to hold themselves above other humans. It's odd when you stand back and simply observe the behavior. I recently came across the Dr. Martin Niemeller poem, First they came:

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time, no one was left to speak up.

Dr. Niemeller, a German theologian and a Lutheran pastor, anti-Nazi, wrote that poem sometime around 1955 (there are disputes over the exact time of writing and the exact wording)
years after WWII ended. Today, I'm so sorry to say, we'd have to add a line about Muslims. What we, the collective American bargaining-away-civil-liberties We, are saying is that they--simply because they are Muslim--are not afforded equal opportunity because of who they are. This is race bait. We treat them differently, like bogeymen, simply because they are not like us. There is no proof that the iman or anyone involved with the "Cultural Center," is a terrorist, is associated with terrorist activities, or will harbor and train and provide seven lucky virgins for every terrorist in America.

And there were NO weapons of mass destruction.

People are saying it's an issue of "sensitivity." Yes, sensitive to all races and creeds. It's in the constitution--not in those exact words but certainly in the spirit of "being sensitive."

The owner of the property sited for an Islamic Cultural Center did not accept Trumps offer of 25% over what he paid for it. Yeah, yeah it's trump tooting his horn again but there is some legitimacy to the idea that this is not about money for the Muslim community. Does that make sense to anyone else?

This is about the bigger principles upon which we lean everyday. If this country wants to tout freedom of religion, then we need to exercise tolerance.

What I'd like to see--maybe this could work out--if the Muslim community behind the Cultural Center would extend an area, a space to share all religions. A place where every person who was killed in the Towers that day will be represented through their religion.

And then watch the bigots shout and go at each other.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Mark Haskell Smith has just released his third novel, Baked. It was the perfect summer detour for me having been hugging the non-fiction for the past few years for the Kight biography. Baked took me on a ride through the marijuana industry (and make no mistake about it folks--it is an industry), introduced me to a stray Mormon, some (new) kinky sex tricks, and inside the head of an LAPD detective desperately in need of a vacation.

I've been so wrapped up in piecing together a non-fiction story, the life of Morris Kight, that I may have forgotten the joy of writing for the sake of the joy of writing. Haskell Smith gently reminded me of what I've been missing.

I wish Mark Haskell Smith all the success in the world with Baked.

Now back to my regularly scheduled input/output. But I'll be blogging more.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

a win for the little guy

This is kind of old news, for me, but it's getting a little attention now so I may as well fan the flames. The facts are a little mixed up in Bob's blog. the fact is I won three separate claims in small claims court against Burger King for harm caused by their blatant disregard for noise control laws. Specifically, they disregarded laws that prohibit construction from beginning before 7AM on weekdays, before 8AM on Saturdays, and "never ever on Sundays." That's a direct quote from the law.

"The law" that Burger King corporate and franchise owners feel they are above or immune from the consequences of the law. And generally speaking they probably are, except in the case when they disturbed this hard-working gal once too often and when the construction began, it was way too violent. It was a protracted battle compounded by their abuse of the drive thru window speaker box that went off from 6AM to 2AM on weekends. Come on, even renters have a right to a good sleep.

Dealing direct with the franchise owner was unfulfilled, they couldn't even say "sorry." So I thought about and thought about it and came up with a good plan of counter-attack. Out of the 8 days of being woken up by their construction noise, I picked the 3 most egregious (2 Saturdays and a Sunday) and file three separate claims, one for each day, to compensate for the consequences of them breaking the law. I won.

It's worth it. If you feel wronged by an entity that seems too big to lose--take action. Even if I didn't win the money, it was nice to be heard in a court and watch the judges look of disgust as he questioned "the defendant" as to why this happened. The answer was vague. But my petition was very clear.

You can win too.

Thank you to Neighbors from Hell dot com for the encouragement and to Bob for the kind words.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Moving Money

I have no idea what happened to the previous link, but here it is again. And here is more information on the whole Move Your Money movement that is taking place.

Do what you want with your money. It's yours. I'm not selling you anything either. But please don't sit back and say there is nothing that you can do about the mammoth banks control over everything. Stand up and say, no thanks!

Friday, January 29, 2010

What can you do?

Move Your Money

Join the Sea Change

Find community banks in your neighborhood now!

Enter a U.S. Zip Code.
a tool donated by Institutional Risk Analytics

Move your money to an institution that will not abuse the privilege.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

There Goes More Than Just The Neighborhood!

Back in September 2009 I tried my best to alert us all to the dangers of the imminent Supreme Court ruling about overturning all limits on corporate spending on campaigns. Well, they gone done it. They reversed the McCain/Feingold law - one of the few things that McCain has done that I really really like.

This is just wrong. It will lead to no good and we can start to pack the wagons now because there is a new sheriff in town and he's a lot bigger than any of us. Welcome to the Corporations of America.

I am so sorry to see us go down in such a shameful, pathetic, greed-dripped, blind-sighted way. I thought better of us. It was probably the WWII generation that I thought better of. But they're gone. This has been a long time in the making, it took a lot of campaign donations to get this particular Supreme Court in place to hear this particular argument of this issue at this specific time in history. Make no mistake about it, this ruling is historical. Hysterical in a macabre sort of way too.

This pendulum will swing slowly so you'll have to pay close attention to follow the consequences of this ruling. The same way that Ronald Reagan's gift of deregulation, beginning in the early 80s, slowly took hold of America's economy before it strangled the very life from it- you may not notice the changes to our elections. Change will come and not for the betterment or the strengthening of the individual voice or in the interest of justice.

My only solution was prevention and that has failed. So I'm open to hear other ideas how the United States of America can return to the original values of human dignity and the pursuit of individual happiness.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Help Wanted at TSA

The ad said: "TSA screeners wanted." I can do that, I thought. This was way back at the very beginning of the creation of the TSA. I needed a job and they needed a good pair of eyes, or so I thought. The online application for the federal position was easy, straightforward, very short. I received an immediate e-mail response requesting a testing appointment. I accepted the appointment, marked my schedule, and prepared to become a federal employee.

Or so I thought. The testing location was a small, obscure hotel out by the airport. It didn't say as much because the confirmation e-mail only gave an address. There were no courtesy directions, like "immediately look to your right as you're getting off the exit that you’ll be taking at 35 mph or you’ll miss the hotel." That would have helped a lot. I found the location and rushed up to the check-in area about one minute past my appointment time. I already felt like I had failed the test. A young woman sat behind a makeshift desk talking on the telephone, clearly a personal call. I admit I was a bit pushy. I tried to interrupt her conversation to let her know that I was here to take the test. We could both see the test going on in the next room. She waved her finger to indicate that I would have to wait. I waited. I had my confirmation letter on the makeshift desk. She took my paper and tucked her cell phone between her ear and shoulder blade. That move just never makes sense —to turn one's neck at a 90° angle to say "uh-huh, uh-huh." She perused my letter for a good minute, at an angle, and finally said, into the phone said, "Okay, bye." She removed the cell phone from between her ear and shoulder, but she didn't straighten her head until she looked very closely at my letter and at me and then very slowly ran my "credentials" through the time clock. Oh yes, I had already failed the test.

But I had made it this far and I was going to take that test no matter what. I would let them really regret not being able to hire me because I was one minute past the appointed time and I got off on a bad foot with the junior college student behind the folding table. TSA was going to have to think long and hard before not hiring me.

The first thing I noticed when I entered the testing room was that I was the only Caucasian female. This is not the first time this has happened, but I am curious if federal jobs, federal jobs which hold the security of our nation's transportation system in the palm of its hand, have such a dearth of white women. Just curious. And the next thing I noticed was the test had very little to do with language skills, communication abilities, eyesight, nerves, common sense, or integrity. And yet many of the people in the testing room, all who were taking the test, struggled. That really had me wondering.

Oh sure there were some images on a screen to classify, i.e. cylinder shape or square shape or rectangle or flat. That type of thing. There were no big words like octagon or silhouette. It was very easy and straightforward. Maybe every tenth or fifteenth question was a trick ethics question-something like: "If someone offers to give you directions, are you suspicious?" And the question arose again, slightly rephrased: "if you're lost, and someone offers to help, do you accept the help or do you refuse?"

As the test continued, the ethics/principles questions were more frequent and only every tenth or fifteenth question was a test of logic. I found it odd that there were no questions about focus in times of distractions, about making split second decisions. There was no test of nerve. Perhaps that was the next level before being hired. The ethics questions were not so much about character as personality. They were definitely looking for suspicious, non-critical thinkers, who were good at reading directions. At some point, I sat back, away from the test and considered leaving. This is not a job for me. And yet, I worried who it was for.

"If you are stranded in the desert and a stranger comes along with a bucket of water, do you drink it?" I have no idea what this has to do with viewing and quickly assessing hundreds and hundreds of total strangers, strangers who depend upon you for their safety. And any one of whom could possibly blow us all into a new reality. I don't remember any questions about determining an unsafe situation. I did notice there were no questions about people skills and interviewing styles and assessments. "If a blind elderly woman is about to walk into the crosswalk, do you stop her?" was not a question on the TSA test.

And I’m not saying that that question should be on the testing application for the TSA employees. Janet Napolitano’s problems with security breach did not begin in Newark Airport. Napolitano’s problems are more of the bequeathment from the previous administration. More accurately, TSA’s problems are the bequeathment from a mind-set direct right out of Orwell’s “1984,” and some of these genius’ in this testing room were going to be the water bearers for the oligarchy. And TSA’s problems will become our problems.

I have traveled many times since taking that test that far away afternoon, way the heck out in some tiny crevice of the Los Angeles Airport. I have checked out the TSA employees and quite honestly, I think I observe much more about many of them than any of them observe about me. Fair enough, I’m one in a million. I have observed that there are many Caucasian females in the profession (phew, we can rest now) and that most TSA employees stand straight up for long hours, doing some of the most monotonous tasks ascribed to a job description, in full display of the barefoot and cranky public, and rarely do they look you in the eye. I can not say that I blame them I rarely look anyone in the eye when I travel either. But they aren’t traveling, this is their job and it seems that only now are the powers that be, or the powers that have been, realize the delicacy and importance of this gig. I admit, when I took the test I was looking for a part-time gig that might give me some discounted travel opportunities.

Truth is this job is about national freaking security. And the requirements are to not trust anyone, ever. This is not an opportunity to be Donald Trump’s Apprentice. This is national security. The paranoid and dim-witted are scooped up to stand hours upon hours to look at us, to evaluate in one second whether we are safe to be contained on a tin-tank flying in the air for more than a couple of hours. There were problems with the whole approach from the very beginning. The original concept of TSA is flawed. This is not so much about individual security as it is about gathering secured information. And who best to execute such a crime against basic human privacy? That job would belong to the most mistrusting, defeatists, no-hopers available at any moment.

“It's just part of a pattern of we are not vetting these candidates clearly," Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) told Fox News. You’d think he was talking about the general intelligence, people-skills, and qualifications that TSA screeners possess in order to do the job effectively. No. Sen. DeMint has concerns that TSA screeners will unionize. And that would be really bad because it goes against oligarchy. I just don’t see a TSA Union as being anything other than complete compliant with the status quo. TSA has been in existence for less than a decade and they are already status quo. TSA screeners have to know about the long-term affects of over exposure to radiation scanners and they will simply not believe the studies or they value their jobs as being more important than their health. “Would you help a stranger?” TSA screeners are trained to be the new breed of the perfect victim of Stockholm syndrome, wherein hostages or victims have irrational positive feelings towards their captors and feel protective toward them.

It is a scary would in which we live. Let us not forget that we had a hand in creating this world. Let us not forget that we have a hand in creating the future.

I don’t know the answer. Truth be known, I don’t know enough to have a solution. None of us reading this will have enough information to effectively evaluate the situation. So let us begin with what we always begin with- awareness. It worked for Red Dye #5 and seat belts. Be aware that TSA employees can only do what it says to do in the manual. They follow directions without questions, they do not make decisions, and they will never ever utter an original thought. Now could you do that job?

By the time I found my way home from that spec of a hotel on the off-ramp out by the airport, the efficiency of the testing center was startling. I had an email confirming, in their to-the-point manner, the TSA will not be offering me employment. “Good luck with your future opportunities.” Na, it didn’t really say that.