activism, Culture, Satires

Curbing Rampant Pedestrianism

Lately I’ve noticed an ugly phenomenon in our fair bayside communities – careless and inconsiderate pedestrians have been taking over the sidewalks, forcing legally-sanctioned scooter riders to dodge, swerve, and ultimately to dismount and walk their electrified vehicles!

This has got to stop! Unfortunately, no one acts more entitled than a pedestrian on a sidewalk. You’d practically think they paid for them!

We need to get pedestrians under control before someone gets hurt. When I see scooters constantly having to dodge people on foot, I know it’s just a matter of time until a careless pedestrian is going to accidentally hit and kill a scooter rider. I’m surprised it hasn’t accidentally happened already. Those kind of accidents are to be expected when pedestrians get out of control.

Pedestrian Lanes & Laws

I propose that all sidewalks be marked with clear lanes, and pedestrians be required to stay in their lane unless they signal a turn at least 50 feet in advance.

Anyone intending to walk around SF or Oakland must obtain a license; provide proof of insurance (in case they accidentally hurt a scooter or a scooter-rider); and at all times wear a helmet, kneepads, and turn signals.

A Long-Term Vision

Ultimately, our urban vision must eliminate pedestrians entirely from the city. If enough scooters are strewn around on sidewalks and streets and dumpsters and lakes, there will no longer be any excuse for walking.

Join our campaign to eliminate pedestrianism! Email bartcourier@gmail.com

Image: San Francisco activists pile yuppie scooters in front of techie megabus.

scooter

*****

Culture

History of California – Kevin Starr

This pleasant but superficial overview looks at California history from today’s perspective – it’s not a recounting of everything that happened, but of those things that “had to happen in order that California become what it is today.”

Audible Audiobook | Amazon

While useful as an organizing tool, this vantage point tends to give the book a triumphalist tone, where whatever negative events happened were necessary in order for California to fulfill it’s (American capitalist) destiny.

The book is strongest on issues like the development of the water infrastructure, where it recounts in detail how the North and South halves of the state grappled with this thorny issue. Chapters on the growth of San Francisco and Los Angeles, including a quick history of automobile traffic, are solid and entertaining.

Starr offers good coverage of early politics, including land-grabs and railroad scams. But he scants the role of the original Peoples of the regions – presumably because they were not strictly necessary to the destiny of the state.

Likewise, he gives a good, quick survey of architecture – but scarcely mentions that the raw materials were obtained virtually for free by decimating the redwood forests, with unforeseeable environmental impacts on today’s California.

Perhaps most offensive is his celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge as a masterpiece comparable to the Parthenon. Given that over 1000 people have committed suicide from the bridge, we’re left wondering what exactly constitutes a Californian masterpiece?

Three stars for Kevin Starr – with hopes that a more thorough and balanced history of the state is recorded soon.

Wix-KevinStarrCalifornia-Cover

 

Culture, Music

Duke – In a Sentimental Mood

Time for some world-changing trombone playing!

Written and recorded by Duke Ellington and his orchestra in 1935. Probably Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton on the trombone.

Solo at 1:58 – and don’t miss the trombone’s heart-wrenching entry just after 2:40:

Someone later put lyrics to Duke’s melody. Here’s Ella’s version from 1957:

All Duke all the time – starting with East St Louis Toodle-oo:

Duke-Writing

Culture

Firesign Theatre – 50 Years!

Surreal audio at its finest! These mind-bending journeys into the absurd recesses of American culture have aged well – or perhaps they haven’t aged at all.

It’s like listening to an old radio show, only there are always several things happening at once, and they don’t quite make sense till you understand the whole album and figure out who all the different characters are.

Which takes about 200 listens. So get started! See youtube links below.

Historical Note – classic rock-era albums require repeated listens to grasp the flow of the entire work. The early tracks on an album make more sense after you get to know the later ones, etc. Ditto for Firesign – there are layers of interweaving meanings, references, characterizations….

Choose one or two albums and play them a hundred times in the next week/month/year/decade. Don’t worry – all will become clear in the end!

Where to start? Depends on who you ask, and what time of day. Try these:

How Can You Be In Two Places At Once (includes Nick Danger episode @ 28:11)

Don’t Crush the Dwarf (featuring “High School Madness”)

Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death (End of Millennium Radio Show)

Firesign-ImmortalityCover

 

Culture, Satires

Becoming A Cultural Influencee

I think I’ve found my new activist calling. I am going to apply to be a cultural influencee.

First I thought I might try to be an influencer. But it looks like you have to do stuff like go on the internet all the time and tell people your innermost random thoughts and all the times someone disses you at a nightclub. That doesn’t sound very fun.

But when I look at the people who are becoming influencers, it’s an impressive bunch – we’re talking Cardi B, Keireth Knightly, and even Steph Curry. Women, people of color, women who are people of color, people of color who are trans women, trans women who are not yet people of color but aspire one day to be – my kind of folks!

An Ally to the Rich and Famous

I started thinking – maybe instead of trying to be a famous influencer myself, I should endeavor to support these already-famous celebrities of diversity.

When they do something that aims to influence people, such as denouncing the president or wearing a new brand of shoes, I could be among the first to be influenced.

I’d be sort of an early adopter of influences.

Just My Luck

Of course, it would be just my luck that I’d wind up starting a trend, and pretty soon everyone would want to be the first in line to be influenced by famous influencers. I’d have to tweet press releases disclaiming any intent to actually influence people to be influenced, all the while realizing that my denial was likely to influence impressionable people to start yet another trend.

So for the record – please respect my desire not to start a cultural trend by becoming an influencee. Go find your own way to impact society!

You can support my efforts to become a cultural influencee by donating to my Anarchist A-Go-Go fund – email small, unmarked bills or large chunks of unsweetened chocolate to: <directactionnovel@gmail.com>

Photo: Famous cultural icon Cardi B, shown here influencing people to make weird faces.

cardi-b-snl