Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Oh, Just Get Off The Court

Awww, Gawd!  Move over Cliven Bundy, your 15 minutes of  "One Thing I Know About The Negro" fame are over.  You've been trumped by a rich old geezer suffering from Mandigophobia.

Yes, it's Donald Sterling, slumlord billionaire owner of the Clippers, an almost totally black basketball team,  who was allegedly caught on tape whining to his black/Mexican beautiful young mistress that she must stop appearing in public with black people and then posting those photos on social media.

Racist! was the cry that went forth into a land recently declared to be totally Post Racial by the cloistered and clueless Supreme Court.  And certainly there was plenty of that, with Sterling's words   digging himself a deeper and deeper hole with every wheedle and whine.

Naturally, Mr. Sterling's players were outraged, dismayed, angry, but shackled by contract obligations, there was little they could do but symbolically strip off their (logo) warm-up tops on court and play in their blank turned-inside-out jerseys.  Then go on to lose the game.  And, also shackled by league rules, the NBA had to hem and haw as to Oh Whatever Shall We Do With This Guy?  But so far, there doesn't appear to be much of anything that can be done.  Fine a billionaire?  Big whoops. 

True, fans can boycott the games, but that just hurts the players; the players can walk out and get sued for breaching their contracts, but that only hurts the players as well. And buying out Sterling will only richly reward him with more gazillions since the team, bought for a song originally, is now worth a bundle.

So there it sits, options limited, but outrage still at maximum levels.  But one bit of age-old comedy seemed to go missing in all the fury: The tale of a rich old racist geezer with dreams of plantations floating through his brain, his secret black (Mexican) mistress squirreled away  from the Wife in the Big house, (in this case, a wife suing the mistress for return of all of Sterling's expensive mistress-gifties.), worrying about Mandingo -- The thought of his beautiful young mistress out in public with handsome, rich, famous, studly young black men.  And worse yet, posting those damned pictures on social media for all to see.  

And perhaps make the sly comparisons?  The winks? The Nudges?  Awwww, Gawwwwd, that old white guy sexual fear must have been unbearable! And all out there for everyone to see.  And snicker.
Awww, Gawwdd!

Well, what's to be expected when you combine a rich old fool who should know better and a beautiful young thing who knows exactly what she knows?  Right.  Comedy as old as the hills.

The NBA was supposed to announce their decisions as to Whatever Shall We Do With This Guy? and perhaps going forward the league can get busy rewriting their rules for owners as well as players.  And the National Racial Conversation can continue.

Until some new troglodyte  pops up and the media circus begins anew.  Maybe if there's enough of these pop-up racists, it might get the attention of the Supreme Court and help them see how the real world really operates in  our smiley-faced post racial world. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Air Dancing With The Colors of the Wind

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Moro Bay threw a Kite Festival this weekend and the beach by the rock was filled with people, dogs, kids and kites.  Little whippy kites, big lumbering kites, and behemoth kites looming over the beach like huge airborne sea serpents looking for a landing spot.

There were rainbow dragon kites and yellow dragons aloft.

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And a huge striped beast so large it needed a separate stabilizer above it just to keep it aloft and steady.

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Meantime behemoth #2 lumbered into the air to hover over it all.

And finally, what a kite festival is all about:  A little girl and her kite, air dancing.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Oh, Just Get Off My Property

You gotta admit, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy had a good run at his 15 minutes of fame playing The Poor Aggrieved, Victimized Old White Guy Being Menaced by Tyrants!

Actually, the “tyrants” in question were BLM repo men attempting to round up and repossess his cows on federal land, collateral for 20 years worth of non-payments of his grazing fees.  Simple action, really, happens all the time with cars – don’t pay your car loan, car disappears, usually in the middle of the night.

With a herd of cows, of course, it’s different.  That’s where the comedy started and where Cliven became a star .  Before you could say “John Wayne,” a gaggle of armed wannabe  self-styled “militia” showed up to strut around a gaggle of tents they set up and called “Camp Trip Wire,” brandishing their weapons for the TV cameras, little Half-Minute Men ready to face down the BLM guys.  One Local Hero even went so far as to excitedly declare that if there was gonna be trouble, he was gonna make sure the women-folk would be placed up front so they’d get shot first so the whole country could see just how awful the “gummint” was.  I’m sure he thought his little plan would serve to shock the viewers, but I’ll bet the only thing the viewers thought was, “If that guy’s married, I sure hope he doesn’t go home tonight.”

Not wanting another Ruby Ridge triggered by a bunch of stupid Aggrieved Resentful Angry Armed White Guys, the federal agents backed away, leaving Cliven’s cows uncollected.
The right wing, of course, loved everything about this story.  Loved it!  It hit all their grievance-politics notes, plus cowboy hats!  And they rushed to declare that they were with old Cliven, that he was an American Hero, a Patriot, the perfect image of what a Conservative is all about, all that stalwart, rugged individualism!  Plus, what could be a better “conservative values” visual than shots of a stalwart iconic Western cowboy (Cliven) riding around on his horse waving a huge American flag?

Until, that is, Jon Stewart pointed out that Cliven Bundy is one of those old posse comitatus guys, a political line that runs straight from federal government deniers, states righters, Night Riding Jim Crowers , straight back to the Unreconstructed South.  So what, Jon wondered, Is Cliven doing flapping an American flag around?  That’s the flag of the . . . federal government.

Finally, as it always happens, the warm glow of all the media love loosened Cliven’s tongue and he spilled the out the really good beans, the central heart of the matter and started talking about . . . The Neeeee-gro.

Now, in this day and age of grievance politics, when you hear those words – “The Negro” – you just know that things are likely gonna go south real soon.  And sure enough, they did.  Ol’ Cliven started a-wonderin’ if The Neeegro wasn’t better off as slaves. And, picking up on the conservatives’ meme that equated slavery with food stamps, commenced a-wondering if The Neeegro wasn’t “slaves to charities and government subsidized homes?  And are they slaves when their daughters are having abortions and their sons are in the prisons.  This thought goes back a long time,” said Cliven Bundy, who had been sucking on the government teat himself for 20 years-worth of taxpayer subsidized welfare in the form of unpaid grazing fees.

Well, the whooshing intake of breath from all the conservative Pols and Pundits who had first rushed to old Cliven’s side darned near blew down half of Nevada.  And the trampling of conservative Pols and Pundits’ feet scampering to get some plausible-deniable distance between themselves and old Cliven broke the Bonneville Flats’ speed record and left a track out of Nevada deeper than the Grand Canyon.
And poor old Cliven was left alone with his little band of now foolish-looking armed-and-dangerous, shoot-women-first Green Mountain Boys, though this being Nevada in a drought year, they were more dusty brown than green.

And Cliven’s cows are back mooching off federal land, for now, while the rest of the country is wondering, “How do you spell “C-O-G-N-I-T-I-V-E  D-I-S-S-O-N-A-N-C-E? “

Monday, April 21, 2014

Oh, Just Get Off The Mountain

Calhoun's Cannons for April 21, 2014 

Yes, Nepal's a desperately poor country.  Yes, the Sherpa guides need the money.  That's the usual game, isn't it? Poor desperate "natives" basically paid to go into harm's way or paid to die so rich western adventurers can have their sport.  But, c'mon.  Thirteen? With three others still missing?  Really? When is enough, enough?

Look, when Hillary and Norgay did it, now that was a challenge!  But Everest's been done.  Dude, it's so done that during climbing season the place looks like an ice-filled e-ticket ride at Disneyland, with long lines of climbers waiting to summit. And the sacred mountain is now a garbage dump filled with empty oxygen bottles, discarded climbing junk, human excrement, and dead bodies.  It's ridiculous.  Time to move on.

But, instead, what we've got now is a  yearly stream of rich outsiders willing to cough up $100,000 bucks just so they can have bragging rights.  Or fulfill some kind of egotistical personal need to expend huge amounts of energy and money to get altitude sickness, have a stroke, lose some fingers and toes to frostbite, freeze to death or die in an ice fall.  That's great, I get it, high personal drama, "man against nature," that sort of thing.  Fine.

And I get that many top Sherpa guides are extraordinary mountaineers in their own right and are earning a great living being guides.  As an L.A. Times story by Binaj Gurubachayra and Tim Sullivan (AP) notes, " "A day after the disaster, many Sherpa guides spoke of their work in ways that reflect the complexities of poor people working in a deeply hazardous place.  . . .  'The mountains are a death trap,' said Norbu Tshering, a 50-year-old Sherpa and mountain guide who lives mostly in Katmandu. . . . 'But we have no other work and most of our people take up this profession, which has now become a tradition for all of us.' he said."   

A tradition "born out of  sheer desperation," he forgot to add.

And I get that the "Everest Economy" brings in tens of millions of dollars a year to Nepal, money the government will do nothing to endanger.  But Sherpas do not have a tradition of "sport climbing" Everest just for fun.  They live in the mountains, they know the mountains and they do not willingly go into the mountains just for the heck of it. No sane Sherpa would.  Here's the Times again, "For the Sherpas, the once-obscure mountain people whose name has become synonymous with Everest and whose entire culture has been changed by decades of working as guides and porters for wealthy foreigners, it was a brutal reminder of the risks they face."

The risks they face so they can try "to make a better life for themselves and their families in a desperately poor country," he forgot to add.

What the Sherpas and all the people of Nepal really need is help building an economy that makes guiding a real choice, like, "Do I take this micro-loan and start and grow a small business to support my family, or do I risk death on the mountain while hauling tons of crap up Everest so some rich guy can sit around sipping a glass of wine regaling his friends about how tough his climb was?  Hmmmm, let me think."

Now that would be a "choice," just as it is for the wealthy westerners who show up with pockets full of cash, looking for a thrill.

So here's a modest proposal:  From now on, western mountaineers could hire Sherpas to schlep up their tons of stuff  but only to the safer, lowest base camp.  Past that point, all those wealthy, challenge-driven climbers would be responsible for laying their own guide-ropes, putting in their own ice-ladders, and blazing their own trails across the deadly "popcorn" fields and ice-falls, all the way up to the summit.  And if they die by the dozens while doing it, well, isn't that what the idea of  "Everest" is all about --personal best against a formidable, unpredictable, deadly foe?

And if they're unable to do that on their own, then maybe it's time they just got off the mountain altogether.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

Blessed by the Lord be the land,
with the precious gifts of heaven,
with the dew, and the deep that lies beneath,
with the precious fruits brought forth by the sun
and the riches brought forth by the moon,

with the greatness of the ancient mountains,
with the abundance of the everlasting hills,
and with all the treasures of the earth
in its perfection.
                                   --Deuteronomy  33:13-16

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Calling all Citrus Trees

A nice lady named Cindy, from the County Dept. of Agriculture, stopped by the house a few days ago.  For several years, the Ag folks have hung bug traps in the eucalyptus trees on the corner, looking for crop-damaging pests. Which is why Cindy was back again, this time looking for citrus trees to decorate.

Seems the citrus psyllid may be in the area, a nasty little bug that carries citrus greening disease that has the potential to wipe out the citrus industry in the state.  What she was looking for was citrus trees with easy access so she could hang some traps and change them out regularly.  And she needs to hang the trap on the tree, on the south side of the tree, actually, because apparently these bugs don't travel far so, even though I offered to have her hang the trap on the fence sort of near my lemon tree, that was a no go, gotta be on the tree itself.  And coming and going into the  yard was also a no go on account of the dogs.  So I was unable to help since she needs a tree in a yard without dogs, and a simple way to get to it without necessarily bothering the owners too much.

So, if that's something you can help with -- citrus tree, easy access --  give her a call at the Ag Dept, 781-5910.

Musique! Musique!

Cafe Musique is giving a concert on Saturday afternoon, April 26, at the Methodist Church on LOVR to kick off the release of their new CD.  They've added some more musicians, including . . . a tuba, which makes this a concert you can't possibly miss. So hurry over to and hope there's still some tickets.  (They're also performing in other venues that weekend.)

Go Fly a Kite 

And on the same weekend (26-27), kite flyers will be gathering in Morro Bay, near the rock, for the Morro Bay Kite Festival, kicking off at 11 a.m. both days Professional kite folks will be on hand to bedazzle, but everyone's welcome to come fly their kites.  Sky confetti for all!

Go See a Play

While down in Santa Maria, PCPA is presenting a classic, screwball comedy, "Noises Off."  I've read about this particular play for years, so here's a chance to go see it.  Check it out at  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Miracles

It seemed endless, didn’t it?  Like something that would last forever.  All the hills grey as death, the grass long burned off by drought to dusty brown, blasted, lifeless, and dreary.  Then came the soft rains and suddenly, miraculously, everything was green, everywhere, overnight.

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And a white faced calf stopped grazing to puzzle over a car that pulled off the road for no reason,  while little

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woolies rambled along a fence line.

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Across the street, the Madonna Ranch mares and foals found themselves in a grassy green landscape,

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and a young colt gazed at his verdant new world.

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Meanwhile, poppies struggled out of the suddenly lush grass to turn their faces to the sun,

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and even “my mountain” was dressed for Easter.

The sudden, sweet green world, a blessing on the land.  And back home, in my own front yard, the very first Matilija Poppy had opened its splendid, improbable, outlandish petals.  So many moments, so many miracles, in a world made new again.
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dissed! Dissed! Can I Have Fries With That?

Ah, well, I guess the days of Board of Sups comity are over.  Years ago, you used to hear things like Supervisor A saying, "Well, I disagree with Supervisor B, but it IS his district and he knows his district's needs best, so I'll defer to his opinion and vote to support his motion." 

Not any more. At least not when it comes to Big Macs. (Or 2-1 vs 1-1 water trade-offs in Paso Robles, hmmmm?) 

I had to work Tuesday so missed the BOS hearing on whether or not Los Osos would get a McDonald's drive-thru, open 24 hours a day!  From talking with friends who were there, it seems it was a lively hearing, with over 100 people showing up, many of whom were adamantly opposed to a drive-thru of any kind and/or to a McDonald's of any shape or size. Also there, as the Tribune reports, were McDonald's employees from other sites who think the place is just swell, so Los Osos should have one, too.

And, from the Tribune story by Nick Wilson, I'm sure Supervisor Gibson argued vigorously against the eatery, claiming that a drive-thru violated the town's efforts to create a more pedestrian-friendly downtown and was a "step back" from doing "innovative things." 

That "discussion" would have been something to hear.  You know Gibson.  Once he cranks up into his stem-winder, Let-Me-Explain-It-All-To-You-So-You'll-Know-How-To-Vote mode, out pours a torrent of words, an endless overwhelming stream of relentless argle-bargle verbiage that floods out in such ever-increasingly vast quantities that it sucks all the air out of the room and  causes heads to explode until everyone's writhing on the floor with their hands over their ears, screaming,  "Stop! Stop! I'll vote any way you want me to, just please stop talking! Gaaaggghhhhh!" 

But this time, I guess the other Sups were wearing earplugs because they were unmoved and they were not into deference on this matter.  After all, if their districts had a McDonalds, then Los Osos, by God, would get one too because, as Supervisor Hill put it, being able to eat there or not was all "part of a freedom of choice."  Supervisor Ray, who doesn't live in the district either, said she didn't have a "problem with the project." 

So much for comity and deference.  Moribund. (Likely from eating too many big Macs.)   

And so it came to be, 4-1, that Los Osos will get a retro drive-thru fast-food eatery because of "seniors who can't easily get in and out of cars."  The only change is that the place won't be open round-the-clock, which will be a huge disappointment to the thousands of Los Ososians who wander the streets, bellies rumbling, at three o'clock in the morning crying, "Freedom Fries!  We want Freedom Fries!" 

Well, clearly, the community will have to do something to remedy that alarming situation.  

Monday, April 07, 2014

Food Fight! Can I have fries with that?

Tomorrow, the Board of Supervisors will be hearing an appeal on whether or not to stand by the Planning Commission's decision that disallows the drive through portion of the proposed McDonald's.  McDonald's says that's a deal breaker -- no drive through, no deal.  There's a whole lot of people weighing in on this, a petition has been passing around, there's a webpage with instructions of who and where to write,  That page includes a link to a No Mc Los Osos Facebook page where you can leave comments.   Check it out and tomorrow we'll find out if we'll get fries with that.  Or not. 

Dog Park Party

Saturday, it was fund-raising, garage-sale day for El Chorro Dog Park.  This has been an annual fund-raiser for the park for several years now and is part of the city-wide Garage Sale Day.  El Chorro (located across from Cuesta College on Hwy 1) is maintained by volunteers so every penny of the sale went to the park. The town was packed and there were lots of treasures to be found.  Weather perfect, people out having a good time.

If you've got a dog and are a regular El Chorro visitor and want to get involved in supporting the park by volunteering, there's contact information posted on the kiosk at the park.  

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sunday Lilies

They're outlandish, these huge, overdressed ladies shamelessly wagging their pollen-dusted stamens for all to see, so much pollen that the excess spills all over their petals, staining them rusty brown, like ladies of a certain age and poor eyesight who use a heavy hand at the make-up table and end up with spatterings of face power all over their silk blouses.  Loud, silly, unseemly, excessive, blowsy, blatant, and beautiful. Even the frog is startled. Look at him. "OMG!" he thinks. "Do I run away? Or maybe I'll just sit here under these gorgeous astonishments . . . . and dream."