Friday, September 30, 2011

"An Open Sewer"


As promised, here is the speech Luke Massman-Johnson delivered last Saturday, September 24th, 2001, behind city hall in Los Angeles:

Hello Los Angeles Climate Activists! Welcome to YOUR LA MOVING PLANET EVENT. Thank you all so much for coming out today to add your voice to 350's international call for action on GLOBAL WARMING. And thanks especially to the younger people here who are a big part of our inspiration for change.
My name is Luke. I'm not a celebrity or politician or climate scientist. I'm just a citizen with a small house in Hollywood. I have a lovely family, my wife is my best friend, I adore my two children and I want the best for their future. So I am passionate about stopping GLOBAL WARMING and CLIMATE CHANGE, and this fight is worth it for me.
I realize there's lots of things you could be doing on a perfect California Saturday. But in a city of 4 million people, you are the ones who made a stand and showed up. And by showing up you have already made a move toward sustainability. You are sending a signal to your fellow citizens, to our politicians here in City Hall, to President Obama, and to leaders around the world. Los Angeles is eager to stop GLOBAL WARMING by moving beyond FOSSIL FUELS and towards CLEAN, GREEN ENERGY and SUSTAINABLE LIFE.
We are in extraordinarily good company. Since yesterday evening, starting somewhere out in the Pacific Islands, literally thousands of citizen actions like this one have been unfolding every hour around the world in the most beautiful, energetic, and powerful ways. After the rally today, you owe it to yourself to see the breathtaking and inspiring images collected at I will be posting pictures of this event, so you might just see yourself!
Andy Warhol said that each of us would get 15 minutes of fame. And I have been advised that a public speech shouldn't be longer than 15 minutes. But I have a lot to say, and I trust that all of you came to hear it, so I'm going to defy both of these suggestions. This is more of a teach-in; while I'm talking I encourage you to make yourself comfortable and sit if you like.
OK, to kick things off today, I am very pleased to say that with us today we DO have someone with certified green credentials. The Sierra Club has been doing some of the most ambitious and effective work on CLIMATE CHANGE in The US. Here to talk about their incredibly successful Beyond Coal campaign, please join me in welcoming the Deputy Press Secretary of the Sierra Club, David Graham-Caso.
[I don't have David's speech...sorry]

Thank you so much David, it's an honor to have you join us. We are all very grateful for your inspiring work.

The Sierra Club and are among our strongest allies in the fight on climate. For those who might not be familiar, let me briefly introduce
350 is the highest safe level of Carbon Dioxide humans can allow in the atmosphere if we are to maintain the balance of life as we know it. For the 20 million years of human evolution, CO2 levels hung around 270.
In the last 200 years since the industrial revolution, our extraordinary burning of fossil fuels have spiked that level to 390. Our current way of life has already exceeded the limits of the Earths atmosphere to correct for our pollution. International efforts to stop GLOBAL WARMING — including the Kyoto Protocol and cap-and trade mechanisms — use 350 as a target to return us to safety. is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Its organizers and activists push for policies that will get the world back on track to 350. 350's online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries.

The founder of, Bill McKibben, is a true environmental hero. He authored the first book on GLOBAL WARMING for the general public over 20 years ago, and numerous books on climate and activism since then. Every year he coordinates the world's largest rallies on the environment, enrolling 7,000 local events in 188 countries. In short, he is one of this generations most energetic and vocal advocates for stopping GLOBAL WARMING.
Several weeks ago he led a two-week long civil disobedience protest in front of the White House to raise the alarm on the Keystone XL project, and was arrested along side NASA's top climate scientist Dr. James Hansen — the father of GLOBAL WARMING science — and 1200 other activists.
Here's a piece written by Mr. McKibben concerning the White House demonstration entitled "The Keystone Pipeline Revolt:
In fact one of those brave activists returned from that campaign and volunteered to help me put this one together. Where are you, George? Thank you for your commitment.
By coming here to this Moving Planet rally today, each of you are an integral part of this year's 350's worldwide event. And you are also now part of climate activist history! After this event is behind us, if you are looking for more information and inspiration about climate activism, one of the best places to start is at
- - - - -
We are here because GLOBAL WARMING is an urgent and unprecedented worldwide threat. And as a result, catastrophic CLIMATE CHANGE is devastating more and more local communities each year. The science is irrefutable and there is no more debate. For decades now, the top scientists from around the world have been trumpeting a crystal clear warning. As we push the Earth towards multiple global tipping points, the window of opportunity for recovery is closing fast. If we are to have any hope of preventing runaway GLOBAL WARMING, we must ambitiously and urgently move away from FOSSIL-FUELS and toward CLEAN, GREEN ENERGY.
So we are here to help bend the arc of our civilization toward a SUSTAINABLE FUTURE. Despite the short-sighted resistance by the United States, and despite the flagrant denial by a handful of strategists in the fossil fuel industry and their complicit politicians, you sense the importance and urgency of CLIMATE CHANGE and know that NOW IS THE TIME FOR AMERICA TO FINALLY MOVE.
CLIMATE CHANGE can feel overwhelming. The scientific evidence is staggering. The weather events are shocking. The denialists are clever, influential, and extremely well funded. Meanwhile, the suffering around the world – usually by those who are most vulnerable and least responsible – is heartbreaking.
It is easy to be intimidated and to lose hope. You could be forgiven for throwing your hands up.
But you didn't. You showed up today. You are choosing to pay attention, to inform yourselves, to look reality in the eye. You showed up here today and many of you brought your kids. And if ever there was a reason to step up instead of give up, just look into the eyes of the young ones among you.
- - - - -
1. GLOBAL WARMING and CLIMATE CHANGE are real, serious, and urgent
2. The politics on stopping GLOBAL WARMING are very difficult
3. The most important thing you can do on the issue of Climate is to be fully accountable for yourself
- - - - - -
The science on GLOBAL WARMING is so solid that I almost left it out of this speech. But I'm hoping that through these events around the world today, we can touch a broader audience, including those who doubt the seriousness of this issue.
So let me touch on the core science of GLOBAL WARMING and CLIMATE CHANGE.
What is Anthropogenic — or Man-Made — GLOBAL WARMING?
For the past 200 years of the Industrial and Technological Revolutions, humans have been burning fossil fuels at an alarming rate. Burning fossil fuels — coal, oil, and natural gas — dumps excessive carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, trapping more heat from the sun, and over-warming the planet. It's too much too fast for the Earth to correct for. In geological time, it's not just tipping the delicate balance, it is shattering it.
Humans dump 90 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every single day! 90 million tons a day. That's more than 30 Billion tons a year. For those of you who heard from denialists that volcanoes might be the cause of GLOBAL WARMING, know this: all volcanoes worldwide, both on land and under the sea, puff less than 1% of what humans spew annually.
As Al Gore has famously said, "we need to stop treating the atmosphere like an open sewer".
How much CO2 is safe?
The best science says we need to keep below 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the world has already exceeded the 350 maximum, back in the early '90s. For almost 20 years since then, we have steadily ratcheted past that critical sustainable threshold, and are now at 390. In other words, we're already in the red and if we stay here or go any farther we're in serious danger.
But there are no signs of slowing down. We all love our freedoms, conveniences, and shiny objects, but they come with a staggering hidden cost: the mining and refining and manufacturing and shipping and packaging and disposing of all our stuff contributes significantly to CLIMATE CHANGE. And as China puts a new coal fired power plant on line every week for the next 20 years to keep up with the world's Westernizing demand for more products, the rate of CO2 emissions are guaranteed to increase.
GLOBAL WARMING overheats the oceans and land. Extra heat in the atmosphere means more hurricanes over the oceans and more tornadoes over land. Extra heat also causes excess evaporation.
Evaporated land means a drought. Evaporated oceans mean more clouds, more storms, heavier rainfall and snowfall.
Heavier rainfall means more flooding. Heavier snowfall means more snowpack in the mountains. Snowpack is nature's water battery, charging in the winter and slowly draining through summer and fall. But GLOBAL WARMING is melting snowpack too early so we have mudslides and floods, followed by contaminated water and drought.
One catastrophic fallout of CLIMATE CHANGE you don't hear about every day is unfolding in South Asia. 3 billion people in 18 nations — almost half the world's population — live in and depend on the watershed of the Himalayas. But as GLOBAL WARMING quickly melts the Himalayan Glaciers, their streams of life have become floods and mudslides, decimating crops and villages and contaminating their only water source.
What is a Tipping Point?
Picture a stack of children's blocks. When it's short it is very stable. But once the tower gets tall it is unstable and starts to sway. If it sways past the tipping point, the tower will fail instantly and
catastrophically. Past the tipping point — which is only a couple degrees off of stable — it's impossible to catch the collapsing pieces and rescue the tower.
The tipping points of nature are called bio feedback loops. The melting of the glaciers, the thawing of the Arctic tundra, the acidification of the oceans, and the desertification of land are all tipping points of GLOBAL WARMING, and all of them are leaning right now. Once they collapse there's no stopping them.
Worse, their collapse causes the fall of other systems.
But enough about the science for now.
- - - - -
Let me give a brief history of how GLOBAL WARMING and CLIMATE CHANGE have been handled so far.
GLOBAL WARMING is not a recently discovered problem. It was first theorized in 1896 — well over a hundred years ago.
And we have had major advances in the international science and politics of CLIMATE CHANGE every 10 and 20 years since then: 1936, 1950, 1958, 1972, 1988.
Fast forward another 20 years to 1992 – almost a century from the first scientific paper on GLOBAL WARMING. The United Nations Framework Convention on CLIMATE CHANGE was formed and began hosting intensive annual CLIMATE CHANGE Conferences. A draft of what became the Kyoto Protocol was immediately signed by 154 countries – 80% of the world.
But not by America.
Outside the United States it seemed as if the world was waking up to meet this incredibly important challenge. But here at home another force was in play:
"... three large American industry groups set to work on strategies to cast doubt on the science of CLIMATE CHANGE. Even though the oil industry’s own scientists had declared ... that human-induced CLIMATE CHANGE was undeniable, the American Petroleum Institute, the Western Fuels Association (a coal consortium) and a Philip Morris-sponsored anti-science group ... all drafted and promoted campaigns of CLIMATE CHANGE disinformation."
The results of these smokescreens are impressive. Despite some 47,000 peer-reviewed scientific
documents by thousands of the very best scientists around the world, which starkly prove the reality of Man-made GLOBAL WARMING, the fossil fuel lobby and a handful of complicit politicians and media have successfully deluded half of the US public. Otherwise intelligent and well-meaning people throughout our country can't imagine that GLOBAL WARMING could be caused by humans, or that it is a serious threat.
And because people doubt, they balk at some of the simplest steps toward living sustainably.
That's exactly where the deniers want us. Apathetic and inert. So we must choose NOT to be apathetic. We must choose NOT to sit idly by.
This is no longer politics. Strategically masking the known threat of FOSSIL FUELS and GLOBAL WARMING is morphing into a crime against humanity — and against every other living thing on Earth, for that matter!
Until the denial is put to rest, until the people in this country wake up en masse and demand a beautiful future of CLEAN, GREEN ENERGY and SUSTAINABLE LIFE, the fossil fuel lobby and their complicit politicians will keep us shackled to the carbon bomb that is already ticking.
This is not the America we want. This is not the America we need. This is absolutely not the America we want to leave the next generation.

To be continued.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Global Warming, the Kyoto Protocol, and 350 - Oh My!

Tammy, Luke, Zoe, and Mikah

Last Saturday It was my pleasure to attend one of 2000 events in 175 plus countries concerning Global Warming and Climate Change, sponsored, or organized by 350-Moving Planet. Here's their website:
Here's what they say is their mission: " is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries."
The number 350 refers to 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's atmosphere. 350 ppm is considered the safe upper limit for CO2... anything more and we'll be seeing things like melting glaciers, depriving millions of drinking water; the spread of mosquitoes and insect born disease; drought, making agriculture impossible in some places around the world creating famine; rise in sea levels which may inundate coastal cities, island nations, and vulnerable farmland, acidic oceans (due to CO2 adsorbtion), which devastates corals and other forms of sea life, etc.
Here's a little animation which illustrates the point:
Unfortunately for all of us living things, the current CO2 levels equal about 392 ppm, which for those of you who were bad at math like me, is more than 350.
The implication here is that we humans need to reduce the total amount of atmospheric CO2 down to at least 350 ppm. As the 350 people (which now includes me) like to say: "350 is more than a number—it's a symbol of where we need to head as a planet."
The United States is one of the biggest air polluters on Earth, by some measures the biggest. But we have a whole political party devoted to denying the effects of global warming and climate change. They're called Republicans. The Republicans, headed by rich industrialists like David and Charles Koch, deny climate change because to reduce CO2 emissions would be bad for their businesses. They prefer accumulating money to breathing I guess, as if they didn't already have enough cash (both of them combined are worth 50 billion dollars).
Foreigners think we're crazy ( I don't blame them. Republicans, and their Tea Bagger minions are crazy. They're sociopathic, just like David and Charles.
Anyway, as I said I attended the Los Angeles rally right on the southern lawn of city hall. It was fun. Lots of people were there. Some brought pizza, but didn't have enough for everybody, so I got assed out on that. No pizza for Ricky.
Such is life.
But we weren't there to eat pizza, damn it. We were there to talk, and become aware of climate change.
A nice man by the name of Luke Massman-Johnson (picture above, along with his lovely wife Tammy, and his lovely daughters, Zoe and Mikah) spoke about it, and tomorrow I'm going to publish what it was that he said.
Today however I'm going to publish a kind of introduction to the subject that Luke Emailed to me, so we can all be better prepared for tomorrow's speech.
It's very important, so please pay attention. Global warming will effect all of us surely, it already is with the extreme weather events around the country. But it will surely effect our children, and their children, much, much more.
And don't worry, dear readers, Luke has made reading this very interesting.
By the way, the title for this post came from Luke, and is actually the title of this overview. Just thought you'd like to know.

A Global Warming & Climate Change Overview for The Oaks School Green Committee
© 2009 Luke Massman-Johnson

Which is it: Global Warming or Climate Change?
Global Warming and Climate Change are closely related and often confused, but there is an important distinction. Global Warming refers to a rise in the average temperature of the entire globe, while Climate Change is the changing weather patterns of a particular region of the world due to Global Warming.
Over the past century, average worldwide temperatures have risen between 1°F and 1.6°F. They have risen twice as fast in the recent 50 years as they did in the 50 before that.
At the same time, the increased energy of Global Warming in the atmosphere will make the weather in many places more volatile. Worldwide increases in droughts and wildfires, storms and floods are already evidence that Climate Change will make most places hotter and dryer overall, but a few locations potentially cooler and wetter.
So why is there still debate on Global Warming?
The remaining debate on Global Warming isn’t on the science, it’s on policy. The science is irrefutable. But some politicians and pundits will intentionally conflate Global Warming with Climate Change in an attempt to introduce uncertainty in a scientific matter that has already been proven. For example, the dwindling ranks of Global Warming skeptics will claim that Global Warming can’t be real because there are places that actually got colder or received more snow than before. But as we just discussed, Global Warming is a worldwide average rise in temperature over decades, and volatile Climate Change is precisely the reason some parts of the world can have cold snaps or heavy rains even while the overall global temperature is increasing. Momentary events and singular locations don’t disprove a rising average that spans many years.
In short, no one is still debating Global Warming except in the halls of the US Congress and on
conservative radio & TV. Virtually every reputable climate scientist and top scientific associations from almost every country on the planet have come to the same unequivocal conclusion: Global Warming and Climate Change are real, they are caused by the excessive CO2 emissions of our modern civilization, and they are accelerating.
How come some people say we only have a couple years to address Global Warming while others say we’re OK for another 50?
Predicting Climate Change on a global scale for a decade or five into the future, including the effects of rapid industrialization in developing nations, is phenomenally complex. So yes, since research began several decades ago the timelines and thresholds for Global Warming have been adjusted.
But get this: each year as the science gets better and the evidence more incontrovertible, corrections have been made because it turns out the scientists have continually underestimated the coming impacts. The climate’s red-flag warning signs (droughts, collapsing glaciers, disappearing polar ice caps, coral bleaching, etc) are coming faster and with more force than even the pessimists expected.
So how do we fix it? Let’s start by understanding what makes Global Warming tick ...
Carbon who?
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a naturally occurring gas and a necessary part of life on Earth. Everything in the animal kingdom — yes, that includes you and me — exhales CO2. Happily, everything in the plant kingdom inhales CO2, and in turn exhales Oxygen. It has worked out really nicely for all living things over the past 2 or 3 billion years.
Are you’re telling me too many people are exhaling? I thought cars and factories were the problem.
People breathing isn’t the problem – it’s people burning. Carbon Dioxide is created by the burning of wood, coal, natural gas, and oil. And in just a few hundred years our species has fueled the explosive growth of our civilization by burning. We burn wood to clear land, for heat, and to cook. We burn coal to smelt metal, to boil water into steam to power early machines and trains, and to spin the turbines which today generate the vast majority of electricity worldwide. Did you know your computer and cell phone, and even a 100% electric car, are all powered primarily by coal, the dirtiest of all the fossil fuels? We burn natural gas in furnaces, water heaters, stoves and BBQs. We refine oil into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel and it burns in virtually every lawn mower, car, freight truck, train, ship, and airplane.
Life as we know it is built on burning, and burning at the scale we do it pumps unnatural and unsustainable volumes of CO2 in the atmosphere.
It’s a good thing trees and plants love to breathe all that CO2, right?
Exactly. They’re like our very best friend (sorry, Fido). Except ... in our rush to make room for our factories, cars, malls, and runways, we shot ourselves in the foot: we clear-cut the forests which would have scrubbed the air clean for us, and erected countless CO2 spewing ‘conveniences’ in their place.
I still don’t understand how CO2 is making us warmer ...
The atmosphere — the air, the sky — is a 50 mile thick blanket with miraculous abilities. It allows plants and animals to breathe. It recycles fresh water through rain and snow into rivers and lakes for us to drink. It shields the surface of the Earth from the harmful cosmic radiation in space, while simultaneously maintaining a cozy life-sustaining temperature down here on the ground. And it does all this with a deceptively simple recipe: 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, and almost 1% Argon.
Wait, that’s almost 100%. Sooo ... where’s the CO2?
Are you sitting down? The much maligned but critically important Carbon Dioxide — the epicenter of the entire Global Warming drama — compromises less than four hundredths of one percent (.039%) of the big blue yonder. If the atmosphere were $100, CO2 is less than 4¢!
What? How can a cheapskate 4-cent gas tip the balance of life on Earth?
Well, Carbon Dioxide turns out to be extremely potent at trapping heat. When sunlight shines down through the atmosphere, some of its energy bounces off the Earth and radiates back out into space. But CO2, and a few other trace gasses like Methane, act like a glass ceiling within the atmosphere, trapping some of that heat energy and earning their nickname ‘greenhouse gases’.
Are you suggesting we need to get rid of greenhouse gasses?
No. A natural level of greenhouse gasses is not only good, it’s essential. In fact, life as we know it couldn’t have come into being without an atmosphere and the greenhouse effect already in place. The Earth, and life evolving on it, have had some 3 billion years to develop their delicate balance, but anthropogenic (human-made) carbon emissions have dramatically increased the natural CO2 levels beyond a sustainable limit in the atmosphere.
So how do we know what is a safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere?
Now we’re getting somewhere. 350 parts per million (350ppm) is what virtually all professional climate scientists around the world acknowledge is the highest safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Anything higher than 350ppm is unsustainable and must be reduced. Think of it as a speed limit on our lifestyle.
OK I get it: we’ve got to keep CO2 below 350. Where are we at today?
More bad news. For the 20 million years of human evolution, CO2 content in the atmosphere has been around 270 parts per million (.027%). In stark contrast, our most recent 100 years of civilization have spiked CO2 to 390ppm (.039%).
GIANT RED FLAG WARNING: We are already well beyond the 350 danger point and rising fast.
How much time do we have to get it back down below 350?
Climate models indicate we need to be below 350 by 2025. That may sound like a long way off, but consider that we first need to slow the rising curve, then flatten it off before we can bend it back down — all while population, consumption, and energy use continue to climb exponentially. Furthermore, we can see on a graph that we have to be at the highest point of that curve by 2015.
2015. Folks, that’s just 4 years away! Keep in mind that President Obama is by far the climate-friendliest president we’ve had since Carter. But with the economy, healthcare, and a war in the Middle East commanding his attention, he has been unable to focus seriously on Global Warming. If we don’t get him to sign the Kyoto Protocol this December (exactly 8 weeks from today!) we will have lost our best and most timely chance to head off a downward spiral.
The implications of missing this opportunity are serious. By 2015 we may be at or beyond the point-of-noreturn on unchecked emissions, and we could be in the hands of a different administration even less able to move forward on Global Warming.
What happens if we don’t reduce the excess CO2 in the atmosphere?
Answers to this have already filled many books and websites, all with one thing in common: the predictions range from bleak to disastrous.
We’ve all heard about polar bears drowning, rising sea levels threatening coastal cities, and that our grandchildren might never ski. Those issues pale compared to some of the outcomes researched by strategic global think tanks, including the US Department of Defense (not your typical hippie liberal tree huggers). Just over the edge of Global Warming are dozens of scenarios that threaten civilization worldwide. Here are two that strike me as especially worrisome:
1. Resource conflicts (aka water and food). Glaciers around the world are melting radically faster than even the most pessimistic Global Warming alarmists predicted just a few years ago. The Himalayan glaciers provide fresh water to billions of people in India and SE Asia. As they dwindle, clean water for drinking and crop irrigation will become scarce. The likelihood of resource conflicts and billions of ecorefugees amidst some of the worlds poorest countries is a nightmare that would dwarf the Holocaust.
Meanwhile in Africa there is plenty of evidence to suggest that droughts, crop failures, and a lack of clean water are entangled in the many heartbreaking struggles with disease, malnutrition, tribal conflict, genocide, and mass displacement.
2. Irreversible tipping points (aka bio-feedback loops). If we allow more than a 2°C rise in average global temperatures, then human-made Global Warming will slip beyond our ability to reverse it as the Earth takes over and heats herself more and more. We simply must not allow ourselves to sink into this scenario. The alarming end begins in the most unalarming ways, and we’re sliding into them already.
For example, every square foot of white snow on glaciers and ice caps reflects most of the sunlight energy that hits it (that’s what makes it bright white). But ice melts with just one degree warming — the threshold between 32°F and 33°F. And as each square foot melts, it reveals dark tundra or black ocean underneath. Those dark colors absorb almost all of the sunlight energy that hits them (that’s what makes them dark). The warming ground and ocean heat up the next square of ice faster than the previous, and the Earth begins heating itself. Keep in mind there is no way for humans to re-freeze the glaciers, and they are already melting decades sooner than we assumed just a couple years ago. But wait! There’s more. Melting tundra is a double-whammy feedback. As the permafrost layer melts, trillions of tons of organic matter warms and then gasses off Methane. Methane is 21 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2. As it joins the CO2 in the atmosphere even more Solar radiation is trapped, accelerating the entire process. There are biofeedback loops in the jungle and ocean too – the two places doing most of the CO2 scrubbing from our factories and cars right now.
Well crap. Anything else you’d like to throw on the pile?
Sorry, yes. GIANT RED FLAG WARNING: The world’s best climatologists suggest that even if we lower CO2 levels to 350ppm by 2025, we may still only have a 50/50 chance of stopping runaway Global Warming!
I know I know ... all this alarmist drama sounds like science fiction. But this calculation is coming from the very top, including NASA’s Dr. James Hansen (father of Global Warming science) and the UK’s Meteorological Office.
Not convinced? >
I’m losing hope. My eyes are crossing. I have to pee.
Believe it or not, this is where the silver lining starts to show. Because finally, this is where you and I can jump in and help with their Day of Climate Action on October 24th. The campaign is designed to focus worldwide attention on the United Nations climate committee, to bear witness that people from all walks of life understand the urgency of Global Warming and 350ppm, and to pressure the UN to include 350 in the update to the Kyoto Protocol this December in Copenhagen.
Learn more about and see inspiring “climate actions” from around the globe >
Kyoto what?
The Kyoto Protocol is the closest thing humans have to a worldwide agreement outlining how all countries need to move toward a sustainable future. It was first negotiated in 1997 and signed by many countries by 1999. But the treaty required that at least 55% of the world join in before it could become ‘active’. The U.S. and China both declined, preventing the 55% compliance, so it wasn’t until Russia joined in 2005 that the Kyoto Protocol finally went into effect. It is now signed by 183 of the 195 countries in the world.
The Kyoto Protocol is far from perfect; as a worldwide law affecting every nation’s society and economy there is understandably much debate about it’s approach, its priorities, and it’s enforcement.
Still it’s the best we have so far, and it is especially important that all major industrialized nations sign on because it lays the foundation for essential international regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon cap-and-trade agreements. Portions of the treaty even attempt to navigate the disparity between poor non-industrialized nations who don’t pollute, newly industrialized nations who are polluting to pull their citizens out of poverty, and first world countries who have historically created the vast majority of the pollution.
The United States is one of only a couple nations who still haven’t ratified the Kyoto Protocol, but we are arguably the most conspicuously absent.
But China now pollutes more than we do. What about them?
When the first Kyoto Protocol was written in ‘97, China was still counted among the ‘developing’ nations and therefore wasn’t required to shoulder as much of the Kyoto burden as fully industrialized nations like the U.S. Of course since then China is modernizing at an astronomical rate. They are putting a new coalfired power plant on line every week (!) to power their new civilization, and their nation’s total CO2 emissions just recently eclipsed those of the U.S. They are now the single largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world and their responsibility in the Kyoto Protocol needs to be revisited.
China’s role in the Kyoto Protocol has been a very contentious point in Western politics. The debate in both countries during the Bush administration was a game of “you first” and it has cost the entire world an excruciating 8 years of delayed collaboration.
Before the U.S. gets righteous about China’s new emission numbers, though, we might consider these two points. First, the United States sustained two centuries of industrial growth and modernization without any consideration of carbon emissions at all. Our way of life flourished because we used energy with abandon.
And second, China’s population is about 4 times that of the US, so on a per-capita basis — which I think is the fair comparison — we still pollute about 4 times what that of the modernizing Chinese do.
Regardless of the politics, it is absolutely critical that both the U.S. and China come to agreements and join the rest of the nations in ratifying Kyoto this December.
What’s so important about this December?
For the past 6 months the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been drafting an update of the Kyoto Protocol to be ready for signatures at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen this December. This new draft must include 350 as a benchmark, or regulations and emission controls will have no enforceable targets. And of course if the U.S. and China don’t sign, meaningful international legislation can’t happen and the world will have to wait even longer for us to find our integrity.
Remember: the consensus of scientists agree that in 5 years, by 2015, we need to have stopped the worldwide growth curve on CO2 emissions, so that we can start reducing them over the following decade.
And even if we do, we still have only a 50/50 chance of avoiding runaway Global Warming!
Global Warming isn’t waiting. We can’t afford to either.
Thus endeth the overview.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Mira (Sorvino)!


With Woody in Mighty Aphrodite

Best Supporting Actress

As Marilyn

Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion

Surrounding Janeane Garofalo



Sunburst Diving Beetle


The Replacement Killers with Chow Yun-fat

With Jennifer Connelly at Reservation Road

With Dad

It is with great pleasure this morning that I'm able to give a happy birthday shout out to one of my very favorite actresses, Ms. Mira Sorvino.
Mira was born at a very early age in Tenafly, New Jersey, just a stones throw across the Hudson River from New York, and where Yogi Berra and Ed Harris live. It's all very affluent.
Tenafly is also famous for the 1973 dramatic television series of the same name... "Tenafly."
She is the daughter of Lorraine Davis, a former actress herself, and therapist for Alzheimer's patients, an affliction my dear grandmother suffered from. Her dad is Paul Sorvino, who everybody knows as the famous character actor and sculptor. He's been in almost everything, but I'm told he's especially known for playing the mafia chieftain, Paul Cicero, in Martin Scorsese's masterpiece, "Goodfellas," and as Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone's "Nixon," and as Lt. Worf's human adoptive brother Nikolai Rozhenko, in "Star Trek, the Next Generation." Hell, I saw him just last night as Colonel Malcolm Grommett Spears in the 1985 Larry Cohen classic, "The Stuff."
We have to thank Larry for introducing us to Mira, as this was actually the first film she ever appeared in. The eighteen year old came to the set to visit her dad, and made an uncredited appearance as an extra.
I don't recall seeing her in it because I forgot that she was in it somewhere and I didn't look for her, but I sincerely hope the Stuff didn't get her. It did get Danny Aiello, the poor son of a bitch.
"Can't get enough of that Stuff."
Anyway... she has a brother, Michael, and a playwright sister, Amanda. They all seem to be at least half Italian due to Paul.
And Paul didn't really want his kids to get involved in the acting profession, despite "The Stuff," because he knew how hard the business can be, especially for aspiring young actors and actresses (take heed Erin), but being basically a willful child, Mira went ahead and prepared herself for her upcoming career by writing and acting in backyard plays with her buddy the future professional actress Hope Davis ("About Schmidt" "Flatliners" "The Secret Lives of Dentists"). At age 12, Mira worked as a production assistant for the play "That Championship Season" starring her dad. She also acted in plays at the college prep Dwight-Englewood School, and this place called Harvard University, where she graduated magna cum laude (with high honors) in 1989, with a BA in Chinese (East Asian Languages and Civilizations). Her honors thesis: "Anti-Africanism in the People's Republic of China" about the Nanjing Anti-African protests of course, written and researched during the year she spent in Beijing, which helped her fluency in Mandarin Chinese, and which won the Harvard Hoopes Prize for writing.
One would gather from this that Mira is pretty smart, intimidatingly so. But you have to remember that Mandarin is by far the most widely spoken language on the planet, with approximately 1.12 billion native and secondary speakers, more than English, Spanish, and Russian combined. So basically she's just speaking what most people in the world speak. How hard can that be?
She's also fluent in French, which I find extremely scary.
And I took French!
However, "There's a side of my personality that goes completely against the East Coast educated person and wants to be a pin-up girl in garages across America...there's a side that wants to wear the pink angora bikini!"
I'm all for that!
Mira took off to New York City after college to try and make it as an actress. She waitressed, tended bar, and auditioned. She worked briefly for Robert De Niro at his Tribeca production company. Bobby obviously didn't know a good thing when he saw it.
She made her acting debut on an episode of "Law & Order" in 1990, which at the time coincidently stared her father. Although her scene was cut, she still earned a Screen Actors Guild Card for her trouble.
She was a temporary replacement on the soap "Guiding Light," and got a recurring role on the short lived television teen drama, "Swans Crossing" (as opposed to "Deer Crossing"), along with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Brittany Daniel. In 1993 she got a leading role in a Japanese production, "New York Cop," but her breakout role came that same year when she was first hired as the third assistant director, then was promoted to casting director, then to assistant producer, and was finally offered the female lead role in the independent film, "Amongst Friends" (her brother Michael also appeared in the film as "kid in fight"). Positive reviews opened doors for her, and she got two small parts in other films. She played Rob Morrow's ("Northern Exposure" "Numb3rs") wife in Robert Redford's "Quiz Show," and a role in the comedy "Barcelona," in 1994.
She got lead roles in a couple of other movies, and the television mini series, "The Buccaneers," before Woody Allen took a chance on the 28 year old, relative new comer, and cast Mira in a pivotal role in his "Mighty Aphrodite."
Mira played the biological mother of Woody's adopted son, Max. Woody's character, Lenny wanted to know more about his son's real mom and set out in search for her. I don't know why. He eventually found her going under the name Linda Ash, a porn actress and prostitute. But a nice one. Her character is both street smart and naive, a hooker with a heart of gold one might say, funny, affectionate, sexy, foul mouthed and at times crude, her voice distinctive, full throated horsey, but not low pitched. She's been described as "happy go lucky," but came from an extremely dysfunctional background, which all in all, despite her chosen profession, seems to have left her rather unscathed.
This role was my introduction to Mira, and I secretly fell in love with Linda Ash first, and then Mira. Please don't tell anybody.
I think I fell in love with her after this exchange between Linda and Lenny in a restaurant, when she tells him how she first wanted to enter the acting profession (please don't read this Cousin Kathy):
Linda: Now and then I would turn a few tricks to make some dough, and one day my friend Suzie calls me and asks me if I want to be in a film, I said sure, and I remember I was very nervous because I'd never done it in front of people with a camera before. So there I am on the first day, on the set, and there's this guy fucking me from behind, right? And there's these two huge guys dressed like cops in my mouth at the same time, and I remember thinking to myself...
I like acting. I want to study.
Lenny: Yes, well, it's... it's one way of getting into the profession.
Here's some scenes:
At the grand old age of 29 Mira Sorvino won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in "Mighty Aphrodite." She was now a bona fide star, and her dad didn't mind her being an actresses any more.
In 1996 she along with the lovely Ashley Judd both played Marilyn Monroe in "Norma Jean & Marilyn," Ashley playing the young aspiring actress Norma Jean, and Mira playing Marilyn all grown up. Both received an Emmy nomination for this HBO production.
The very next year she starred along with Lisa Kudrow ("Friends") and a personal hero of mine, Janeane Garofalo, in one of my very favorite movies of all time (as I mentioned in the upcoming book, "Skid Row Diary"), "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, " the poignant story of two successful businesswomen who, as the title suggests, attend their high school reunion... after fake inventing Post-it notes. Mira, Lisa, and Alan Cumming shared the MTV Award nomination for Best Dance Sequence in 1998. I remember that dance now, and it always brings a tear to my beautiful brown eyes.
Here's some clips:
And a clip from the Dave Letterman show from a time between Romy and Mimic (for male readers please prepare yourselves for those legs).
It was around this time that Mira began dating the writer and director Quentin Tarantino ("Pulp Fiction" "Jackie Brown"). She would eventually give him up for the swarthier French actor, Olivier Martinez ("Unfaithful" "Blood and Chocolate"). She would give him up and then marry actor Christopher Backus after meeting him at a charades party in 2003. They got married in Santa Monica... and Capri Italy, because Mira's Italian (which doesn't explain Santa Monica). They have three children (small adults) together; Mattea Angel, Johnny Christopher King, and Holden Paul Terry Backus.
Unfortunately I could not find any clips from Mira's next film, the heretofore mentioned Sci Fi thriller "Mimic" (based on a true stroy I'm told), directed by Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth" "Hellboy" "The Hobbit" drop out). Another favorite film of mine in which Mira appeared.
In honor of her role as Dr. Susan Tyler in "Mimic," an entomologist who was investigating deadly insect mutations, a compound excreted by the sunburst diving beetle (picture above) as a defensive mechanism was named mirasorvone.
Another favorite film of mine in which she appears, and which happens to get a fair amount of play on cable, is "The Replacement Killers," her turn in the action genre, with Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat. I do have a clip from that movie:
In 2005 she was nominated for another Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film, for "Human Trafficking," a subject I happen to be intensely interested in. I haven't see this movie yet, but I will tonight, and I'm sure it will be good. Why not? It's got Mira Sorvino in it.
And I know this... it's going to make me mad.
In 2007 she appeared in "Reservation Road," with another favorite actress of mine, the lovely and talented, Jennifer Connelly (picture above), who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress herself, in "A Beautiful Mind ."
Here's a promotional interview with Mira for "Reservation Road."
Mira's made a whole bunch of other fine films and television appearances. You can find them all at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). I did.
Mira and I have this in common (besides speaking Mandarin), we both are involved with the human rights organization, Amnesty International, she concerning matters of violence against women, which includes human trafficking. In 2009 Mira was named Goodwill Ambassador to combat human trafficking for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Here's an interview in which she discusses this very important subject:
Mira continues to work and live, and all of us here at Joyce's Take wish her and her family continued success and good health, and a very happy birthday!
Happy Birthday Mira!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Autumn of Our Discontent

Daryl Hannah at the White House

Last Friday marked the end of summer and the beginning of Autumn, and the protest continued.
For a week now hundreds to thousands of demonstrators, mostly young people, have flooded lower Manhattan's financial district, or as close as the police would allow them to get to it, protesting against the economic policies of Wall Street, mainly the corruption and greed which allow bailed out firms and banks to continue rampant speculation that fueled the countries economic collapse of 2008, and the major banks foreclosures of hundreds of thousands of homes throughout the nation, allowing these institutions to gain huge profits for its stockholders and top management, while the rest of the country wallowed in economic destitution. (see "Revolution 5"
As I've mentioned earlier, the mainstream media has taken little notice of this action, as it does with so many progressive causes. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) suggested, "The answer to the problem of non-coverage would seem to be simple: If the people occupying Wall Street want more media attention, they should just call themselves Tea Party activists," as the corporate controlled media seems to fall all over themselves when ever and where ever the Tea Baggers are involved, but tend to ignore legitimate demonstrations from the left such as recent sit-ins in front of the White House protesting the proposed building of the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would run from Canada to Texas when about 1,000 people were arrested (see "Tar and Sand"
When the hometown paper, the New York Times did cover the story, the reporter seems to belittle and trash the movement due to it's wide range of focus, size, and the character of those involved:
Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim
"By late morning on Wednesday, Occupy Wall Street, a noble but fractured and airy movement of rightly frustrated young people, had a default ambassador in a half-naked woman who called herself Zuni Tikka. A blonde with a marked likeness to Joni Mitchell and a seemingly even stronger wish to burrow through the space-time continuum and hunker down in 1968, Ms. Tikka had taken off all but her cotton underwear and was dancing on the north side of Zuccotti Park, facing Liberty Street, just west of Broadway. Tourists stopped to take pictures; cops smiled, and the insidiously favorable tax treatment of private equity and hedge-fund managers was looking as though it would endure.
Members retained hope for an infusion of energy over the weekend, but as it approached, the issue was not that the Bastille hadn’t been stormed, but that its facade had suffered hardly a chip. It is a curious fact of life in New York that even as the disparities between rich and poor grow deeper, the kind of large-scale civil agitation that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg recently suggested might happen here hasn’t taken shape."
Some said they were fighting the legal doctrine of corporate personhood; others, not fully understanding what that meant, believed it meant corporations paid no taxes whatsoever. Others came to voice concerns about the death penalty, the drug war, the environment.
The group’s lack of cohesion and its apparent wish to pantomime progressivism rather than practice it knowledgeably is unsettling in the face of the challenges so many of its generation face — finding work, repaying student loans, figuring out ways to finish college when money has run out. But what were the chances that its members were going to receive the attention they so richly deserve carrying signs like “Even if the World Were to End Tomorrow I’d Still Plant a Tree Today”?
One day, a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Adam Sarzen, a decade or so older than many of the protesters, came to Zuccotti Park seemingly just to shake his head. “Look at these kids, sitting here with their Apple computers,” he said. “Apple, one of the biggest monopolies in the world. It trades at $400 a share. Do they even know that?” -Ginia Bellafante
I wonder how Ms Bellafante would have reported on the anti-war and Peace movements of 1968?
Fortunately many of the readers of this took the demonstrations, and demonstrators more seriously, and wished to set the author straight via their comments. Here's what Laura from New Jersey wrote yesterday:
"What we have is a growing group, all over the US, of unemployed young people with expensive degrees with few prospects of anything other than a job at Walmart or McDonalds. They grew up in a world of middle-class expectations. They are facing a third-world future as debt slaves in depressing soul-crushing jobs. They are angry, full of youthful energy, and are seeking a purpose. This country is shooting itself in the foot if we don't get together to make this economy work for them. I feel sorry for these kids and I feel sorry for all of us that we've allowed this situation to develop and continue. And, yes, these kids may not have a coherent message but they're in the right place. Previous generations (including my own just before them) have screwed up so badly that our only hope is that these kids can figure it out and dig us all out. I wish them well and I'm rooting for them."
And Pam from Brooklyn:
"I am extremely disappointed in the way the Times and other media outlets have been first ignoring and then belittling this movement. The ending comment about Apple in particular is dismissive and reductive: the problem is not in corporations per se. Corporations are neutral entities, which can be forces of good if run ethically and transparently by human beings. I'm impressed by the way the people at have harnessed technology to communicate, organize, and mobilize - and yes, companies like Apple, Twitter, Facebook have created said technology. Companies can and do create marvelous things at times.
The problem, though, is the greed, lack of compassion, and shirking of societal responsibility that's currently being exhibited by many of the wealthiest people behind those companies. They are not paying their share in taxes and are being protected by several unethical members of Congress (who have in turn benefited from corporate money which helped get them elected in the first place.) And that is wrong.
Yes, we have a whole host of problems to tackle right now, so it's no wonder messages seem mixed. But the bottom line is this: the wealthiest people of our nation need to pay their fair share in taxes. That money, in turn, should go toward investing in our future: in education, healthcare, innovation in industry (thus a revitalization of our economy), and a sustainable ecosystem. To do anything other than that would be fatally short-sighted.
The wealthiest of our nation have benefited greatly from this system. But it's time for them to be held accountable, and to pay their fair share. And many of them, such as Warren Buffett, are happy to do so. They know it's not only the right thing to do - it is also the only way to keep our economy healthy, so that they can continue to be successful. If there is no middle class to buy your goods and services, that is death for business. This is not class warfare. It is just common sense."
Last Saturday, New York's finest, our first responders during 9/11, followed their corporate masters orders and took a much harder stance toward the demonstrators. I don't know why.
A large march was planned for noon on Saturday. Several hundred marchers paraded around the plaza to their favorite chant, “All Day, All Week! Occupy Wall Street!” They then headed off to try and get to Wall Street, where police arrested several of them. From there, the march continued up to Union Square, two and a half miles north. It arrived there, then turned south again toward Liberty Plaza. Around 3 p.m., near Fifth Avenue and 12th Street, the police became aggressive. Unrolling plastic orange barriers, they isolated a crowd of marchers, along with the reporters following them, and began mass arrests for blocking traffic. They were described as being brutal. Caught on cameras were scenes of one protester being dragged by her hair, others being slammed into the pavement, and a group of women, netted, or what is called, kettled, being downed by pepper spray or mace. In total, police say they arrested 80 people. The march thereafter dispersed, and those who weren’t arrested made their way back to Liberty Plaza.
The police claim their action, caught on video and placed online, were appropriate, that the young ladies attacked them somehow. The video shows otherwise, with the officer dressed in white, denoting a senior officer, spraying these helpless girls with pepper spray for apparently no reason whatsoever, then quickly disappearing back into the crowd. Kind of a sucker spray. It has been discovered that the officer in question has displayed this type of behavior prior to these demonstrations.
Come on Mayor Bloomberg! Rain in your hired thugs!
Here's the video:
I watched Keith Olbermann interview one of the protest's leaders, a young man who claimed to be the first to get pepper spayed by police. He admitted that the protests were rather unfocused, with various goals pursued by various people, and that was one of their strengths. That this was a young movement, one with room to grow as long as there remains so much corruption and inequality in our country. He said he held no animosity toward the police, as they too were being hurt by the actions of those on Wall Street as well, and he hoped that they would soon come to realize this.
Who are these people? Us.
Author Linh Dinh explores this:
"But who are us, exactly? Us are the poor and the middle class, unions, retirement funds and governments at all levels, federal, state and city. Us are 99%, according to the mostly young protesters at Liberty Park in NYC. Nearly everyone got ripped off, including the cops guarding these protesters. As a protest sign sweetly and innocently demands: “Say Sorry! To All of Us!”
After eight days of protest, over a hundred people have already been arrested. Several have been roughed up, with cops being caught on still and video cameras pepper spraying or yanking the hair of young women, or slamming people to the ground. Sadly, these cops are fighting against their own interest. Bankrupted by Wall Street, cities all over America are laying off policemen left and right. Why defend the crooks of Wall Street, cops, when they have directly caused many of your colleagues to be thrown onto the streets? When you yourself may end up on a park bench in the near future?"
Perhaps the police would be more sympathetic and the New York Times clear on what it is the protesters are protesting if they just listened to those who actually work on Wall Street. Remember in November of 2009 when Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein told London’s Sunday Times that he is just a banker “doing God’s work.” which included 21.9 billion set aside for bonuses after he took $10 billion from Washington’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (Sachs did pay it back, with 23% interest).
God's work.
And trader (and professional speaker) Allesio Rastani explained quite clearly yesterday the ideals of Wall Street to the BBC. Hedge funds and other smart/big money firms "don't care" about the Eurozone and are moving away from that market. "Most traders don't really care that much how they're [governments] going to fix the economy," he said. "Our job is to make money from it... I have a confession. I go to bed every night and dream of another recession." And, the real admission: "The governments don't rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world."
In any case thanks to the efforts of the NYPD, this little advertised protest, this burgeoning movement, has now gained national, possibly international prominence in the media.
So now is the time, perhaps, that the real work begins.

Donate to OWS here:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Salvation Diary 53

"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke

September 10 Tuesday Day 364

Russell "Hoops" Burke is back! My spiritual guru. The first thing he said to me was, "Hi! Hello. How ya doing?"
Russell had been in New York visiting his Father "Hoops Sr.", and stepmother. His father is very ill.
"My dad has about a week to live," Russell told me. "I left before the funeral. Naw, I didn't want to stay for that. My step mom, she wanted me to stay, but I didn't wanta. She understood though."
Russell has his old job back in the residence... mainly due to Ernie Sens not wanting him in the warehouse.
"He'll wander off and fall into the compactor," Ernie says.
After having greeted Russell I spent most of the morning taking care of normal business; writing, and studying from the "American Red Cross Standard First Aid" book.
After Robert left for the weekly gratuity board meeting, I changed clothes and worked out in the basement, then showered, dressed in some nice street clothes and was back at the desk by the time he got back at 2:30.
I hung around the desk talking to Robert until it was time for me to go to school.
This would be the first time I have attended a college class in over fifteen years.
It all went rather well actually.
There were mostly young people in the class, of course, but I did not feel particularly out of place. Emotionally we were all about the same age.
The teacher, a man maybe a little older than I am, took roll, then asked how many present were not registered for the class. About half the room raised their hands. He asked if those individuals who had just finished raising their hands would go out into the hall with him so they could discuss their future. He was merciless. Only two out of the twenty or so that had left with him returned to audit and participate in the class.
Our assignment for the day was to compose a five paragraph essay; consisting of an introductory paragraph, three sustaining paragraphs, and a closing paragraph. We were to fill in this sentence, "I believe _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, is the biggest problem facing America today." Then continue the essay.
It was hard. When you haven't been to school in fifteen years you kind of get rusty thinking up whole paragraphs and all.
I endured and wrote about the American drug policies.
After I turned in my paper I began the real hard part of my school day... battling the mob at the book store. I was lucky to get out of there in one piece.
For two paperback books, "The Bedford Handbook for Writers," by Diana hacker, and "The Dolphin Reader," an anthology compiled by Douglas Hunt, which probably could be found in any retail book store for $9 apiece, cost me over $45, so I was both roughed up by the crowd and skinned by the cashier.
I got back to the residence earlier than I had expected due to the short duration of my first class. Jill was still there and waiting for me. Well, not actually waiting for me, but she was still there, as beautiful as ever. I told her that I was now a student. She said, "Congratulations," and then began talking to someone else. I feel that if I were to tell Jill that I had just won the Nobel Peace Prize, she'd say, "Very good, Richard... Jack would you see if Miguel Wisenthorpe is ready for counseling."
I went to the canteen and had a piece of leftover pizza.
Always a glutton for punishment, I would talk to Jill again later. I would say this to her, "Thank you Jill. Friday night I will receive my cake for staying sober for an entire year, and I hold you, and your timely group counseling sessions directly responsible."
This got me a great big gorgeous smile, and a "Thank you, Richard. Maybe you could advertise for me."
At 8:00, about ten of us piled into Red Shield 4 and drove into South Pasadena to the St. James Church. This was the old A.A. speaker meeting I used to attend on occasions, six or seven months ago. I went there tonight because I had been told last Friday that I must arrange my birthday cake for next Friday at this meeting. When I found the cake person for this Tuesday night meeting, he told me that what I had been told was a bunch of hoowie, and that all I had to do was tell the Friday night cake person before the meeting started that I would be taking a cake that night.
Smells like a classic runaround to me.
I'm not going to worry about it. Whatever happens happens.
I stayed for the meeting even though I was awfully tired. And like most times when I don't feel like staying at a meeting I find that I'm really glad that I did.
A lady who had eight years sobriety was the five minute speaker. She began to cry as soon as she reached the podium. She kept saying over and over what a rough time she was having and how this was the only place she had to go to.
My heart went out to her of course. This was just another example of how life's problems still exist even after we stop drinking and using drugs.
She will pull through.
I will pull through any problems I come to face... and life will go on.

September 11 Wednesday Day 365

Cathy gave me a call near 8:00 this morning, which was a pleasant surprise. However, the reason she called was not so pleasant.
She told me she would not be able to come in tonight. Her sick car had finally died on her. Her ex-brother-in-law would be able to fix it after she got off work, so she would not be in.
Also her cats are trying to kill each other once again. This is causing her to lose sleep, so she's having a pretty hard time of it right now.
Robert, sensing that this was the only time I'd have to talk to Cathy this week, promptly walked into the office where I was speaking to her and demanded attention. Today was one of his days off. Robert usually spends a total of five minutes in the office on his days off. Five minutes in forty eight hours. It is a tribute to Robert Vasquez that he would pick the only five minutes that I am likely to be in a private telephone conversation within those forty eight hours to come in and ruin it. The man is uncanny.
By the time Robert, with some sprinkling of mercy, departed , and I got back to Cathy, she said, "Well, I have to go now. I do want to be there when you take your cake. Try and save me a seat. Bye." Click.
I did tell her that I would miss her tonight. She didn't respond.
Oh, I don't know. Every time I think about her now, I get tired.
I spent most of the morning writing. Near 1:00 I went upstairs to my room and changed into my swim trunks. On my way to the basement the elevator stopped at the first floor and Roger Shriver, one of our janitors, and Kevin Rockoff entered. I felt a little silly standing there in nothing but my trunks. Neither of them made any comments though. Instead, Kevin looked at me and calmly told me that our V.C.R. had been stolen again.
"It's missing. And Gene Mance had Schimmele watch the desk for him while he took off carrying a big box."
This is the story. Mance, my daytime desk man, asked Jerry to sit at the desk for him (not an uncommon practice), while unbeknownst to Jerry, he used the V.C.R. key to unlock the V.C.R. box protecting the V.C.R. from theft, and disconnected it from the wall plug and T.V. Curtis Carter walked in on him while he was doing this, but didn't think anything of it, Mance being a desk man and all, a position of some authority and responsibility. Curtis had been looking for me, and continued his search. Meanwhile, Mance locked the box back up, returned the key, then went to the kitchen and and asked our newest cook, Keith Davis, if there were any boxes around. Keith told him to look outside in the alley, which Mance did. He found a suitable container, went back to the T.V. room, slid the V.C.R. out from the back of the wooden box, placed it in the box he had found in the alley, found a pillow and placed that on top of the box with the V.C.R. in it, took it and walked right past a smiling and affable Schimmele, out of the residence, disappearing down Fair Oaks Blvd.
Curtis saw him leave, and thinking something may be up he checked the V.C.R. box and found it empty.
When I returned to the desk (after putting my clothes back on) I checked out the situation (Schimmele was sitting in a daze, muttering, "I let him walk right past me... I let him walk right past me") and tried to call my supervisor, Dr. Ed Reitz. Ed wasn't around, so I left word to have him call me as soon as he returned. I called Ernie Sens and told him what happened, and that we'd need a new V.C.R. and desk man. After he finished chuckling he let me know that shouldn't be a problem.
Soon Ed called, and I told him what happened. He instructed me to call the police and file a report. I called the police and they said they would send someone over. Kevin and I checked Mance's locker. It was packed full.
The whole thing didn't make much sense. Mance's clothes alone seemed to be worth more than what he would get for the V.C.R. Nothing else made any sense either. This guy didn't seem to care at all about covering his tracks, and was seen fooling around with the stolen item just before it was stolen. He left his work station one hour before his shift was due to end, walking casually down the street in full view of at least a dozen Salvation Army personnel while carrying a suspicious looking large box with a pillow on top!
The police came. The same cop who was here when Noah was stolen. We told him what happened and showed him Mance's picture from our files. The policeman took some notes and left.
Nothing more to do about it. Ken Hockett had expressed a desire to come to the desk and seemed like a good candidate. I asked Ernie about it, and he agreed. End of case.
I read from the "Writer's Handbook" in the afternoon, and got things ready for chapel.
At chapel, I was to read the responsive scripture. I had practiced the section earlier and was having a bit of trouble pronouncing the word "propitiation." A ridicules word. For the first time I sat with Clarence Orion, Ed Reitz, Frank Corona, and Ron Collins, behind the podium facing the congregation.
I felt kinda silly up there.
I managed the responsive reading quite well, and after the service I set up the chapel's anti-room for Barbara's new Wednesday night relapse prevention workshop. Then I went downstairs to my semi private bathroom and smoked an unauthorized cigarette (I started smoking again at about eight o'clock last night).
As I entered the elevator to return to the desk my name was called over the loud speaker.
"Richard Joyce to the front desk immediately! Richard Joyce to the front desk immediately!" is what it said.
As the elevator door opened I saw Mr. Mance standing by the desk, still donned in his dress white shirt and black trousers (desk apparel). His tie was undone. I approached the desk wearing a bland expression, and Rockoff explained that Gene had come for his personal possessions.
"Okay," I said. "I'll go get them."
I took the elevator to the basement. In the baggage room I placed Gene's clothes into a wheeled bin, but hesitated before bringing them up. Ed Reitz had disappeared somewhere in his van right after chapel, but was expected back within twenty minutes. I returned to the desk, found Mance outside smoking a cigarette with the man who had driven him here, and told him he'd have to wait until Ed got back before I could release his belongings. I walked away before he could say anything. I didn't feel like listening to any of his bullshit and arguing with him. Gene is an older black man with an ugly temperament (he'd been forced on us at the desk by the "Powers That Be and Don't Know Any Better"). I'd seen him go off on Columbus Davis a week ago for no reason, and just didn't want to deal with any violent crap. Not if I could help it.
I went to my office and debated whether or not to call the police again. Gene made up my mind for me by coming in and saying, "I don't know what all this waiting's about, Rick, but I gotta ride, and he's gotta... oh, here's Ed now." He'd seen Ed drive up through my office window. Mance went out to meet him.
I was thinking to myself that this guy must either have a tremendous amount of nerve to come back here and demand his clothes when he and I both knew he ripped off the V.C.R., or was just immensely stupid, severely demon possessed, desperate, or all of the above. Any of which could also make him dangerous.
I called the police. They told me someone would be out right away. Mance was looking at me through the window as I talked to them. He didn't look too happy.
He came back to my office with Ed. Ed said, "This man wants to pick up his clothes. Do we have them?"
"Yes," I answered.
"Okay," Ed said. "Give them to him."
As I passed Gene he asked me who had packed his stuff. I told him Rockoff had. Gene seemed satisfied (everyone trusts Rockoff for some reason, probably that baby face of his, and that genuine niceness I've mentioned. Interestingly enough, Kevin's ex wife called his fiance today, all the way from New York. She was trying to cause a little trouble. She told Rockoff's new love that she (his ex) was currently pregnant with Kevin's baby, which was a rather peculiar thing for her to say considering Kevin's been right here with me for at least the last eleven months), but still grumbled, "Everything better be there too."
I went back to the basement. Ed followed me a minute later and I told him I had called the police. He approved, then left. I waited ten minutes, then took Mance's stuff up to the lobby.
The police were there. Ed, Mance, and a lovely short policewoman were just going into a counseling room as I wheeled up with the clothes.
"So all my stuff is here?" Mance asked. I nodded yes.
While the situation was being discussed in the counseling room, Gene's friend took his clothes and put them in his car. After he finished, and much to my horror, he drove off! I immediately worried about the center's legal position, and Mance's reaction when he found out I had let someone else take his clothes without his permission. I did not believe the police could arrest Gene without catching him in possession of the stolen V.C.R., and he would be wanting his clothes.
I needn't have worried. After ten minutes a handcuffed Gene Mance came out on the arm of the lovely police lady, followed by Dr. Ed Reitz. As Mance passed, Kevin and I let him know that his buddy had taken his things. He seemed happy about that, so everything was cool.
The police promptly took him away.
Ed told me that while the three of them were talking the word came over the officer's radio that Gene had four outstanding warrants out on him, hence the arrest. Three for theft, one for assault on a police officer.
End of story.
I don't know if I wish this guy well. He seemed to be basically a mean and selfish individual, and I just don't understand men like that.
Women either.
Wanting to get out of the residence for a while I drove some of the guys to an outside A.A. meeting at the Woman's Club in South Pasadena. I had attended a couple of meetings at the Woman's Club, but had never driven there. After taking a wrong turn and innately driving through some mountainous back roads for fifteen minutes (with eight or nine men each shouting different and wrong directions to me, some intentionally just because they liked the ride), we found the club, and I dropped them off.
Back at the residence, I talked to Cathy's answering machine for awhile. I asked it how it was doing, and I told it to let Cathy know that Barbara would give her a ride Friday night if she needed one.
Back at the Woman's Club to pick up my charges, a man walked up to my driver's window and began staring at me. Usually I would find this rather annoying, as I did this time... at first.
Dennis Smith looked at me with a great big smile on his big face. I rolled down the window and we shook hands. He was still at the Grandview recovery home, and I am still at the Salvation Army. I told him about getting my cake on Friday, and he congratulated me.
"Wow! This is great," I said. "You've popped up just in time to make the end of the book."
He laughed. "You're still writing it?"
"Sure. It ends Friday night."
"Can I read it then?"
"No. After I put it through the word processor, then you can read it. Maybe I can still help you to get laid."
We said goodbye and I drove off. He looked good, and it was good to see him.

September 12 Thursday Day 366 1 year

Well... it appears that I have made it. That we have made it, dear readers.
One year... not a whole lot of time really. A whole world of time for me.
The day started early. Four thirty in the morning. I was making my first trip to pick up the morning's donuts at Tastee's and Honeyglaze. Richard Hendrickson navigated while I drove. It was fun. We listened to the news program they have on the radio while we drove. We heard about the police shooting a mentally disturbed (whatever that means) person nine times in the back, even while the man was lying face down on the ground.
The man died.
Such is life.
When we got back to the residence we each had breakfast (SOS), then went our respective ways. I went upstairs to my bathroom and brushed my teeth, I then walked across the hall to my room and put on a tie. At the desk, in my office, I began to write. I would continue to write, off and on, throughout the day and night, finally finishing up at around 10:00PM, before I went on my rounds and after I got back from the park.
At 3:15 in the afternoon, Red Shield 4 became available and I scooted over to USC General Hospital to pick up Roger Collins. I was very tired by this time, but still had the hardest part of the day before me.
It was Richard Bennet's night to go to Skid Row and talk to the people there, and he asked me if I would lead his substance abuse class in his absence. I backed off. I told him I would do it next month, and I will if he asks. I sat in on the A.A. panel for about half of it, listening to a young Jewish woman tell her tale of woe and terror involving the Bohemia of San Francisco.
Everyone has a tale of woe and terror. We need to listen to them.
Robert returned from his day off visit with his family in Upland just as the panel let out. Rockoff (the little scuzz) hurled himself into the parking lot so he could be the first to give him the news of the Mance affair, thereby robbing me of the chance of monitoring Robert's initial reaction. He and I talked about it in our office for awhile, among other things. I mentioned that I had one year of sobriety today, and he congratulated me. He told me how difficult it was for him his first year, a one day at a time type of theme, and I realized once again how hard and different it is for all of us.
After Robert and I finished talking I put on my jacket and told my new desk man, Ken Hackett, that I was going to check the trailer, and that I'd be back in a bit.
I slowly walked from the residence, east on Waverly, then north on Fair Oaks. I crossed the southwest corner of Fair Oaks and Del Mar to the northeast corner, which is the southeast corner of the Park, my destination. I choose a diagonal path across the length of the Park, passing the lawn bowling greens, up until I had walked almost to the opposite corner from the one I had entered. There was a picnic table there. I sat and lit a cigarette. I looked around the empty and dark block long expanse of trees and grass punctuated here and there with pools of light spilling from strategically located lamp posts located along the asphalt paths. There were a few people about. Some talking, hidden in shades of darkness, others behind me on Raymond Ave., walking up the paved sidewalk to the lights and noise of Colorado Blvd. Only one man walked as I did, almost aimlessly along the various walkways within the Park itself. He was taking his time, looking around.
Not much had changed in the Park since I had last sat here, since I had taken my last drink at this spot one year ago. There were now three picnic tables instead of two. That's about it. It still felt lonely and empty.
But I didn't feel that way. In the last year I'd come to at least like myself, this new person I've become. Or at least I have begun to know this new person, which drugs and alcohol had masked so well. I can learn to like him. I definitely feel like a participant in life now, rather than just a spectator. That I can make choices that really matter, that I can maybe help others like myself, while helping myself at the same time. That I can now be good to myself, and that I matter.
I've never felt that way before. It's a good feeling. I recommend it. It's a feeling I'd like to keep, and I can make the decision to do that now as well. I care about a lot of people now, all of the guys who have came to the center, all of the different counselors and staff, all of the men and women who have come and gone these last twelve months, and a lot of those people care about me, and that feels... real, real, nice.
The Green Hotel to the north of me, with its great parapets and lighted windows, still reminds me of a huge castle out of some fairy tale. What secrets it must hold.
I hope I have shared well most of mine.
And I wonder what the next year will bring.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Erin's a Star!

Last week I was calmly sitting in the office of my new case manager, Robert, minding my own business and having a chat, when he said this to me: "Erin's in a commercial."
I said this: "What?! My Erin?!"
"Err... Erin... ah..."
"Erin _ _ _."
"In a commercial? Really?"
"Yes. Wanta see it?"
"Of course."
And he showed it to me.
He was right, it was my lovely ex-case manager in a commercial for some hair product for Dove, the famous soap maker. Who knew that they made other stuff? I certainly didn't.
But they do! They make all kinds of things. They make antiperspirants/deodorants, body washes, beauty bars, lotions/moisturizers, hair care, and facial care products.
Dove is primarily made from synthetic surfactants, soaps derived vegetable oils from palm kernel) and salts of animal fats (tallow). In some countries, but not the United Kingdom, Dove is derived from tallow (like many soaps) and for this reason it is not considered vegan, unlike vegetable oil based soaps. Dove is formulated to be pH neutral, a pH that is usually between 6.5 and 7.5.
How interesting.
But here's the thing. Dove is owned by a foreign company called Unilever (Unilever is the world's leading margarine manufacturer), which is a British-Dutch multinational corporation that owns many of the world's consumer product brands in foods, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products.
Wikipedia tells us: "Unilever is a dual-listed company consisting of Unilever N.V. in Rotterdam, Netherlands and Unilever PLC in London, United Kingdom. This arrangement is similar to those of Reed Elsevier and Royal Dutch Shell prior to their unified structures. Both Unilever companies have the same directors and effectively operate as a single business. The current non-executive Chairman of Unilever N.V. and PLC is Michael Treschow while Paul Polman is Group Chief Executive.
Unilever's main international competitors include Nestlé and Procter & Gamble. They also face competition in local markets or product ranges from companies such as Grupo Bimbo (Grupo Bimbo?), Beiersdorf, ConAgra, Danone, General Mills, Henkel, Mars, Inc., Pepsico, Reckitt Benckiser and S. C. Johnson & Son.
Unilever owns more than 400 brands as a result of acquisitions, however, the company focuses on what are called the "billion-dollar brands", 13 brands, each of which achieve annual sales in excess of €1 billion. Unilever's top 25 brands account for more than 70% of sales. The brands fall almost entirely into two categories: Food and Beverages, and Home and Personal Care."
They include: Aviance (cosmetics), Axe/Lynx (male grooming products), Ben & Jerry's (that's right. The foreign devils own our damn ice cream!), Blue Band (the first company to commercially produce margarine in 1878), Dove of course, Flora/Becel (more margarine), Heartbrand (more ice cream), Hellmann's (mayonnaise. Erin if you read this... I could use a jar), Knorr (dehydrated soup mixes and condiments), Lipton (uhhh... tea), Lux (soap), Omo/Surf (detergent), Rexona/Sure (deodorant), Wish-Bone (a Y-shaped bone found in birds), Sunsilk (hair care products), and of course TIGI (premium hair care for premium hair).
So Erin's sold out to the Jikky/Dyke-Jumpers. In all fairness she may not have been aware that she had abandoned her American roots as those Sassenach/Kaaskops do a real good job of hiding behind their brand names, which we consumers always tend to think are of good old U.S. of A. stock. I don't know. I haven't discussed this aspect with her. But those Pome/Lowlanders are sneaky bastards.
Alright, enough of this nonsense. I asked Robert for the URL address for Erin's commercial and he said he would Email it to me. Which he did. I saw him do it. When I returned to my box it was there waiting for me. Now I can watch it whenever I want. I showed it to all of my neighbors who were very impressed, although some of them didn't even know Erin. In my opinion Erin made the commercial work displaying just the right amount surprised incredulity and sympathy toward her friends hair dilemma. I've seen that expression directed toward myself many times on bad hair days (Erin has an unnatural fascination with my eyebrows for some reason. I don't know why).
So next will come more commercials, then the inevitable soap opera or two, guest appearances on prime time sit-coms and hour long dramas. Her own show. Movies, leading roles, the Academy Awards, a star on The Walk of Fame and hand prints at Graumans (she assures me that as she slips her hands in the cement she will think of me). It's her destiny, why fight it?
I Emailed Erin and congratulated her. I told her I once made a commercial for non-fat lard, but it didn't work out.
Her commercial is now making it's rounds on the various networks as commercials are want to do.
Oh yes, here it is. Erin's the pretty one.
I invite you dear readers to wander through the site and get yourself some free nourishing oil (Control up to 100% frizz for 24-hour shine with Dove® Nourishing Oil Care Leave-In Smoothing Cream, featuring Weightless Nutri-Oils.**), and enter the contest. Maybe you to can be in a commercial.
For the time being Erin still works for us here at SRHT. I saw her just last Friday at the Dish Depot. But it won't be long until she abandons us altogether for the bright lights of Hollywood.
And quite frankly I wish her all the best if that's what she wants to do. Seriously I think she has a unique, beautiful look, and she's very smart and talented (I know. I directed her once in a play). I know she will do well in whatever she does.
Good luck Erin... or umm... break a leg!