Marianne Williamson is the only presidential candidate that has made it to a national TeeVee debate stage that I ever had lunch with.
That was back about 1990, when she was just getting started on the lecture circuit, talking about A Course in Miracles. Long before “A Return to Love,” Oprah, or the 2020 Democratic Party primaries.
At the time I met her, I was in Los Angeles training for my brief career (1990-1991) as a Series 7 securities peddler. I heard Marianne at one of her lectures at a church in West Los Angeles, talking about how she was financially insecure, so I approached her after the lecture and we arranged a lunch meeting. Nothing came of it beyond that, other than the recollection that that was one of the most intense lunch meetings I ever had.
If nothing else, she and I are both Truman Babies (she 1952, me 1950).
For the past few months, I have been looking at this photo and thinking I should have something to say about it pertinent to the occasion of my 70th birthday.
These are “the Schatzkin men.” In the center, my father, Harvey; on the left, my brother, Arthur; on the right, yours truly. The photo was taken in our backyard in Rumson, New Jersey in March, 1954 (note the white picket fence in the background). I was 3. Arthur was 6, and Harvey… well, we didn’t know it at the time, but Harvey had only a few years left on the planet: multiple myeloma dispatched him in 1958 at the age of 37.
Arthur died in 2011, just a month shy of his 63rd birthday. Glioblastoma – the same kind of brain cancer that nicked Ted Kennedy and John McCain.”Heart disease runs in some families,” my brother’s widow said at the time. “In your family it’s cancer.”
So here I am, having outlived them all, the only one of “the Schatzkin men” with a first-person need to learn how to spell “septuagenarian.”
In the 1980s, when I was living in Hawaii, Ted Turner’s WTBS cable superstation was our only live TeeVee and I started watching Atlanta Braves games My new-found fandom was eventually rewarded with tickets to the first World Series game ever played in the former Confederacy, Game 3 of the 1991 Series between Atlanta and the Minnesota Twins.
Sometime during those years I went to San Diego to see the Braves play the Padres. I was rooting for the visiting team. What surprised me was the derision and verbal abuse directed at me (and my then first future ex-wife Georja) just because we had come to San Diego to root for the Braves.
How absurd, I thought. Show some respect for the opposition: If there was no opposing team there would be no game for fucksake*.
I think that’s why I found this story so heartwarming:
Back in May of 2020 – during the pandemic – I got a kitten.
The woman who gave me the kitten told it was a male, and for some reason now lost to posterity I started calling him “Buster.”
When I took Buster to the vet, they informed me that the kitten was actually female. I was relieved because snuggling a male cat seemed oddly gay to me (yeah, I know, #homophobic).
However, In the interest of gender neutrality I kept the name (does that mean I have to declare her pronouns?).
Buster is now a full grown cat, but for the sake of those who are new to the list or missed the original posts, I think I’ll go back and use photos from the first year in the banner for the weekly(ish) ‘Buster Sez Hey!’ emails.
The one that I’m using this month (May, 2022) is from the first weekend I had her. She’s pretty much ‘fresh outta the box’ I brought her home with in this one.
Every morning for the past several years now (thanks, Jerry), the first thing I do once I hoist myself out of bed is put on my sneakers and go for a two-or-three mile walk before I re-plant myself in a chair with my coffee and laptop.
Over the past week or so (late April) it seems this year’s crop of dandelions have all come and gone. Mostly they look like this now:
…which is to say, they have scattered their seed to the wind and what remains will return to the earth for another year.
But a couple of mornings ago, I found one that was nestled in among some bushes, still completely intact in its ‘just before it all gets blown away’ phase. It made a nice image with the macro lens on my iPhone 13 Pro.
I was not familiar with the author Emily St. John Mandel until earlier this year when I tuned into the HBO Limited Series Station Eleven – the ‘show about a pandemic created in the middle of a pandemic.’ That series was simply one of the most compelling things I’ve watched on the TeeVee in the past year, at least.
If you have been getting the old Cohesion Arts Weekly Digest, you’re already subscribed to the new version, “Buster Sez Hey!” But the Dunbar List will have a slightly different purpose, so if you want to be on that sub-set of the master list, please let me know.
It’s been almost a year since I deactivated my Facebook account (in June, 2021) – so I guess this is long overdue, but now that I have embarked on “My Dunbar Project“ I suppose a bit of retro-perspective is in order.
I stopped using Facebook for three reasons:
1. Vanquishing the ‘Poke and Scroll.’ Anybody who has ever used social media recognizes the impulse: you poke at the screen and scroll to the next thing, and the next thing, and all the things after that. Surely the next thing will satisfy the craving. Sound familiar? This compulsive behavior is not a bug, it’s the whole fucking point of social media: to keep you on the platform. Maybe others have better self-control, but it’s not a safe temptation for anybody who is even slightly OCD (and in the digital era, who is not?) – or recovering alcoholic types.
2. The environment is a toxic swamp. Yes, services like Facebook have their merits, even if it’s often just an illusion of connection more than the real thing. But much what passes for ‘conversation’ on Facebook quickly descends in to chaos and rage. What’s the slogan, “if it enrages, it engages” (which brings us back to point #1 above). The stated mission of Facebook is “a more open and connected world.” But it’s actual purpose, it’s business model, is to keep people using the site and hoovering up as much personal data as possible and then capitalizing on that data. Which brings us to reason #3:
3. In the digital economy, we are all vassals and peasants: I’ve written about this before, and others have expressed it more eloquently than I ever will:
“when the service is free – then you are the product”
Every minute that we spend uploading ‘content’ – photos, posts, comments, replies – to social media, we are supplying our labor for free while unimaginable wealth rises to the top of the pyramid. I suppose it was ever thus, wealth has always ascends in one form or another. And sure, there are some who make their living plowing the digital fields of social media. But as long as I’m one of the unpaid peasants, I’ll toil in my own non-remunerative fields, thank you very much.
That’s it in a nutshell. And while I can say that I don’t miss the whole poke-and-scroll-enragement-feudal-environment, I do miss the occasional brush with people I actually care about.
If you might be one of those people, then please check out My Dunbar Project and fill out the form.
And if you have any doubt about how pernicious this Neo Feudal Digital State is, then watch the entirety of this expose by John Oliver (April 10, 2022). By all means keep posting and commenting, but don’t kid yourself what’s really going on:
The other thing that’s going on here is a rebranding.
I’ve dropped the “Cohesion Arts” domain and now everything has been relocated to IncorrigibleArts.com.
“CohesionArts” was something I came up with when I thought my then-future-ex-wife and I were going to do photography projects together. Well, that never happened, and the marriage itself went the way of 50% of all marriages three years ago.
Besides, I’ve never been entirely coherent or cohesive (if you doubt that, read my second book).