To the Point

There comes a time in every epoch when pragmatism simply evolves into extreme acquiescence and surrender to the forces of apathy and do-nothingness, a guarantor of the status quo in all of its easy, democratic criminality--its fortress of greed.--TL Simons

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Old Man

"I was just invited to a poetry reading in Norway but had to turn it down. Such a shame,” he adds ruefully, “they were going to pay business class. Do you know how rare it is for a poet to get business class?”-- Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 96.

A nice piece brought to my attention at CD's blog.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Important Endorsement

A year and a half ago, New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo barbarically choked my father, Eric Garner, on a Staten Island sidewalk in broad daylight. My father died that day. His death was ruled a homicide. Despite viral video footage of the incident, international media attention and widespread protests, our justice system failed to find Officer Pantaleo guilty of any crime. In fact, until a few weeks ago, the only person indicted in relation to the case was Ramsey Orta, the man who filmed it all.--Erica Garner

The rest of the text.



I've placed another piece in CounterPunch, my favorite political journal.

It's a rewrite of a chapter from my memoir, A Marvelous Paranoia, recalling my community organizing days in Maine in the mid-1970s and meeting Michael Harrington.



Thursday, January 28, 2016

RP Thomas


Where Were You?

The Challenger exploded after liftoff 30 years ago today.

At the time, I was working on a video for the newly formed Good Samaritan Heart Institute and was in the OR watching a heart valve operation on an old woman.

A nurse came in and announced the catastrophe just as doctors split the woman's chest open. Odd, but I don't remember another word spoken about the disaster.

The doctors were busy with something more important at that precise moment, as another life depended on their complete concentration.

A few years later I wrote the scene into a play from the surgeon's POV.



Stephen Stills was at his best with this song from his second solo album in 1974.


Game Night

Can Oregon keep rolling tonight or will the curse of McKale Center in Tucson once again be too much?

This is the game of the night in college hoops.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Local View

Listen, in the first hour, to this poor, confused and ultimately foolish Burns woman attempt to justify the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, as OPB's wimpish Talk Out Loud program host Dave Miller lets her profess one inanity after another without objection.

She begins by telling Miller that he's wrong by calling the takeover of the refuge an "armed occupation."  What was it, a picnic in the park?

It grows increasingly indigestible from there, as she soon admits her ignorance of the treachery of the Patriot Act (which finally came home to roost in Harney County when the Hammonds fell hard), defends the Bundys, ignores Finicum's suicide to exalt him, and grouses about the Burns school district's decision-making.

Having a difficult time with the concept that your GOP leaders may in fact be turds?

Welcome to the "reasonable dialogue" so many in America are clamoring for, in this case absurdly propagated by what is ostensibly a news organization, which if it was doing the job of the fourth estate would be hounding ignoramuses like the Burns "designer" out of existence.

For example:  Miller might have said, "Thanks, lady, but I'll call it an armed occupation because that sure in hell is what is was.  Now answer the question."

Of course that might have ended the interview, but how great of a loss would that have been?


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Finicum Martyred

Apparently the armed radicals who took over Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 and stayed disruptively for a few weeks have finally been taken down on the desolate road between Burns and John Day, where a "meeting" was to be held this evening to settle this or that.

I'm all for occupations, but as all wise folks know this was the wrong cause, the wrong place, the wrong idea and the wrong fight.

Even OWS had more substance, and that was questionable.

I'm really amazed that only one person died in this conflict.  Obama and his underlings showed a lot of restraint early on.

But alas, something had to break so the people of Harney County could finally return to their lives of working and bickering among themselves.


Update:  Stage two involves some hardcore resisters who remain in the refuge.  This is likely suicidal now, like Finicum.




Sunday, January 24, 2016

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Federal Wildlife Refuge

Day 23:  Armed pricks are still holding this place hostage.  Pathetic.


East Coast Storm

I love snow, always have, along with the desert.  I am torn between snow and dryer climes.

Oregon had a huge snowstorm in 1969.  I was a senior in high school, and I remember the snowbanks piled 10-feet high on the roadside, but what I remember most is the storm caused cancellation of school and my basketball practices and, I think, one game.

Bummer, when you lived for the competition of a high school basketball game like I did in 1969.  I also lived to go to high school just to get out of my miserably cold house.

Other than that, the snow was amazing, the beauty of it.

I recognize it's not very beauteous when you can't get to work and you really can't afford not to work, which are common adult concerns, now more than ever.  Since I've mainly lived within walking distance to every job I've ever had, snowy commutes and road hazards never concerned me much--with one exception.

When I was a community organizer in Maine in the early 70s, the snow tripped me out.  The locals were used to it, thus I had any number of hair-raising rides from Portland to Augusta with a South Portland state legislator who drove the interstate highway too fucking fast for my taste.

The guy jabbered his leftist politics like a recording to my leftist co-worker as I, the leftist in the back seat, prayed to Marx.

And I wasn't even religious.  The guy could really drive, correcting each seemingly uncontrollable glissade like a maestro leading the piccolos section in a symphonic orchestra.

Amazingly, I arrived to lobby in Augusta for leftist principles every day for weeks on end without the mortal injury or instant death I often believed was about to befall me.  My representative was an expert driver no doubt, but our political expertise never worked out quite as effectively.

So I've always loved the snow.

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

---Wallace Stevens


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Better Than You Know What

I signed up with a local casting company, Extras Only, a couple of years back and I receive occasional notices for various projects going on in town. Most of these are calls for kids, and diversity is usually the theme.

I got one today for kids, Asians, Blacks, Hispanics.  Wonder what that's about?  The company doesn't reveal much, but I'd guess a commercial.

Commercials are big on kids.  Kids sell stuff, as we all know.  You can attach a kid to just about any product and get results.

If you wanted to sell diapers to old men, you'd write a kid into the script.  Kid might commiserate with the old man's dilemma, his incontinence.  Theme:  You start out in diapers, and that is where you'll likely end if you're unlucky and live too long.

Want to sell a car?  Put a kid in the back seat.  Selling a luxury car to an affluent hipster?  Have kids on the side of the road admiring the car.  You're indoctrinating the next generation, the ultimate in advertising.

Kids are made to sell, sell, sell. And later, buy, buy, buy.

I did receive a notice for a project that was being filmed outside of Portland a few months back.  I fit the profile on that one.  Extras of all ages needed for something.  It was on the coast and the call out mentioned you'd need reliable transport to and from the location.  I don't have a car, nor do I want one (I'd buy a rec vehicle first), so that was out.

I think Extras Only has a list of people that have been doing this for a long time.  It's tough to break in and there's a litany of must-dos before the company puts its faith in you.  Reliability is number one. You must be available at any time.  Turn down a few jobs because of scheduling conflicts, you're likely crossed off.

Without a car, I couldn't respond to the coast job.  EO doesn't want to hear about why you don't sign on.

It's business.  I've been in it, and things can get tense.  I wrote and produced programs for Good Sam Hospital years ago.  The hospital sold its media arm and I went into the restaurant business.  It was around the time instability took over everything.  Reagan was President and the U.S. was beginning its long spiritual decline.

And now here we are.  Here we are.  Time is short and kids are getting all the work.

Upside?  I'm expecting a royalties check next month, which is better than you know what.


Evening Planned

Should be a good one tonight.

The Pac-12 is balanced and of course somewhat ignored by the pundits back east.  Happens every year unless Arizona or UCLA is riding high.

Tonight's game with USC is in Eugene, and the Trojans just may be the best team in the league this season.  Bill Walton may do the color, probably decked out in his tie-dye.

One game this year he rhapsodized about the Grateful Dead's last shows in Chicago this past summer. Ignored the game essentially, talked about the Dead and himself. Famous, die-hard Deadhead.  Out of UCLA he couldn't talk without a major stutter.

Now he doesn't shut up.  Annoying at times, like Dick Vitale, whom I can't listen to anymore.

I can take some Walton, but if he gets too far out I turn the volume down.

Anyway, I won't miss the game tonight unless the stream fails, which happens on occasion.

Yep, that's my excitement for the evening.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016


I was remiss as RBP approached the New Year a couple of weeks ago.

I should have posted this, 2015's "Worst OLive Comment of the Year," regarding Portland's affordable housing crisis.

I swear, I can't remember the name of the dumb shit who wrote this. I'm sorry but here it is:

LOL. Bunch of whiners complaining about the basics of macroeconomics and free market principles. You're actually witnessing a very simple supply and demand curve in action. I fail to see what the problem is. If there is huge demand for a limited supply, price goes up. Don't like it, move.

I love watching people complain that their rent went up as if owners should throw money away because you have a job that doesn't allow you to afford to live in a city going through a renaissance. Oh for shame, you can't live in the center of the action for $700 a month. Either get a job that allows you pay to live in the thick of it....or quit bitching and move to where you can afford to live. Very simple.

I work hard and make good decisions. Bought a house on the cheap in NE years ago, fixed it up, lived in it for 15 yrs.....and guess what? We got PAID OFF this year when we sold it to a couple from NJ (who paid cash BTW) who wanted to move here because they heard it's awesome in Portland. They could afford it, wanted to live in the thick of a desirable neighborhood and everyone made out. We sold our house for a mint and turned it into a nice property in the NW hills for our family...they got to pay cash for a house in a desirable neighborhood near tons of bars/shops/restaurants. Everyone's happy.

But yeah, let's try to stop all that because people think their rent should stay the same and not adjust according to the know free market and all.

Quit bitching and deal with it. No one owes you anything. Sorry. I love what's going on here. More people with more money increasing property values and tax bases. But no, let's continue to subsidize mediocrity and complacency. Rents should never change. Property values should never increase....I mean it's only probably the biggest investment most people make in their lives; God forbid they should see a return on their investment.

What got into this bitch anyway?  A story about the housing crisis in Portland turns into a supposed personal affront on his wealth?

Moronic OLive post of the year.



Here’s what I think is really going on: old institutions have been discredited. Sanders’ growing support and Iowa’s surprisingly socialist hordes reflect public contempt for everyone in charge.

Pundits have mostly focused on populist anger on the right, embodied by the wild neofascist-lite pronouncements of Donald Trump. But there is just as much rage on the left excluded from the Democratic Party since George McGovern’s 1972 defeat to Richard Nixon. Divided or not, one thing Americans can agree upon is that they don’t trust government — on the right to leave them alone, and on the left to help them out.

Ted Rall nails the two-sided populist revolt as it now exists in the good ol' USA.


Town Meeting

Last night in Burns, Oregon, a high-minded civics lesson unfolded like a low-brow comedy.



The full text.

Not to be missed (again).

Thanks, Terence.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Yo, Armchair Coaches, STFU

Everybody seems to have an opinion about the soundness of this hire.

I have one as well.  Wait and see what happens next year before you mouth off, because he just signed a three year contract, and you don't know what will happen during that time.

Just a suggestion.


Friday, January 15, 2016


In case you missed it, and because I want it to be on my blog forever.


Empty Suits

(Buddy Dooley collage)


Race to the Bottom

With the latest polls showing US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders leading rival Hillary Clinton only weeks before the first two primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, many Americans are contemplating the real possibility of having a socialist president in the White House. But even if Sanders wins the election, the United States will not have a socialist president. Why not? Because Sanders is not a socialist.

Sanders has often stated that he is a “democratic socialist” and, last November, he defined that term for the American people. Shortly afterwards, Forbes Magazine published an article that stated, “What he’s talking about, whatever the heck it is, isn’t socialism of any type or form.” And, for once, Forbes was right. Sanders is not a socialist in any shape or form. At least not according to the content of his public statements and campaign platform. But if Sanders is not a socialist, then what is he? He is a social democrat; which is radically different from being a democratic socialist.

Here it is, stated as lucidly as it will ever be stated in our contemporary political discourse, in terms that even the weakest American minds ought to comprehend.

So print out a copy and keep it in your supper jacket so you can pull it out during the cocktail hour and shove it in the face of the next jackass who tells you Bernie is a dirty, rotten socialist.

What we now know, aside from the obvious fact that he is not a socialist, is that Bernie is our only real choice.  Don't expect a miracle even if he wins--which I doubt he will.  I hope he will, but I have little faith at this point.

As 2016 drags on from here to November, understand that our choices are between a social democrat or an oligarch on one side, and whichever unrepentant fascist GOP voters settle for on the other.

In other words, not much has changed since the last time we did this, with the possible oddity that Romney was more idiot than fascist, and perhaps more like a Clinton than even Hillary.


Frighteningly Cynical, Or Dangerously Stupid?

Pick one.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fantasy of the Day

"If I could just get me a slice of this here federal wildlife refuge I could sell it to the highest bidder and make me a nice, sizable profit. Yessiree...'Course I'd hold on to the mineral rights."--Buddy Dooley, gun-toting rebel.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Terrible, terrible, terrible. Such a profound disappointment.

With Paul Ryan smirking in the background it was excruciating.

He reminds me of the many punks I've confronted over the years who smirked when they had nothing else.

Maybe Bernie has the balls.  Or Hillary?


Coming Soon!

You have to laugh.


On the List

I'm number 81 on 14 copies at the library.

I may have to bust out my debit card and buy it.  Really anxious to read it.



A reminder from RP Thomas, who introduced this to me over 40 years ago.


Sunday, January 10, 2016


Oh, yeah...


Walden Has A Stupid Moment

The halfwit has his moment and the seats around him are empty.

Note:  Greg Walden's Oregon 2nd Congressional District includes Harney County in Southeast Oregon, U.S.A., where a group of armed insurrectionist idiots has taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in an act of seditious revolution.

He supports these rightists and should be impeached for his stand.

The congressman's major duty in the U.S. government is to throw all of his influence behind the oligarchy by raising money for the GOP while licking the boots of the current House Speaker Paul Ryan.

He is, as you can ascertain from the speech, full of shit.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Militia to the Rescue

Arrival:  Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Toyota--the favorite vehicle of militias everywhere.


No Fun League

The NFL is stupid.

I'm watching an NFL game.

Therefore I am stupid.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Reality 101, Or The People Manipulated By Corporate Thieves

RP Thomas photo

The right wing has made increasing noise about the federal government owning lands, particularly in western states like Nevada and Oregon where the feds own 85% and 53% respectively. The complainers argue that government ownership infringes on American free enterprise based on private property. But federal ownership is radically different than private ownership. The feds own this land mostly because its private ownership would be tremendously unprofitable. In other words, federal ownership is a huge subsidy to private interests making profits from these lands. Federal ownership makes private profit possible. The ranchers at the heart of the Malheur conflict, for instance, lease federal grazing lands for pennies on the dollar.

The far-right militias are unknowingly doing the bidding for corporate America.  Their foolishness lies in their delusions that anything other than another takeover by the suprawealthy would transpire from their actions.

They're on the wrong side and don't even know it.

The Trumps of the world salivate when they see these puppets in boldface.

Divide et impera, as they said in the old world.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016


In the high desert of central Oregon, lies Harney County, a site of a long-festering and intense confrontation between federal officials and the militant property rights movement. Here federal Fish and Wildlife Service agents sought to fence off a wetland that had been trampled by a rancher’s cows on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge about thirty miles south of the dust-caked town of Burns.

A 20 year-old story by Jeffrey St. Clair and James Ridgeway about the Hammonds of Harney County.  This is deep background and should be read for perspective and insider information.


Monday, January 4, 2016


They died a week apart.  One was 92, the other was 85.  A mere seven years separated them in the generation that was ravaged by World War II.  Yet they survived the calamity and thrived throughout their artistic careers.

Haskell Wexler and Vilmos Zsigmond were two of the best. The movies they shot represent defining moments in my life.  I matured amid the the tumult of the 60s and watched as they brought their artistry to the fore just as I was beginning to doubt America in the 70s.

The work of Wexler and Zsigmond helped a poor kid from the sticks of Oregon see that there was a whole lot he didn't know or understand about the world.

That was a good thing.

Their work humbled me, inspired awe and a new appreciation of cinema's inherent possibilities. Indeed, it was as if they were speaking directly to me.

Many of us boomers felt that way.  The American New Wave was our salvation as disaffiliated human beings, and these guys were no small part of the experience as they brought great art to the masses.

They were among the handful of creators who could have such profound effect on our lives.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Deep Blues



You have to give Captain Daniel Shays this: When he launched his armed sedition against lawful authority, he at least was invited in. Overnight on Saturday, in an obscure corner of the Oregon wilderness, and contrary to the law, and in defiance of democratic authority, both federal and local, another act of armed sedition was committed. It seems to me that this ought to be a bigger story than, say, the belated prosecution of Bill Cosby, or whatever most recently came out of the mouth of the vulgar talking yam. In a small place in Oregon, the essential compact of the United States of America has come apart.

Esquire joins the fray.



It's snowing here.  An inch, two?

Be a good time to take a walk.


Ugh...No Depth

That Oregon football game last night made a lot of people sick.

However, it merely made me queasy.  I asked for excitement.  I got that and a dose of disillusionment.

I've never seen anything quite like it, except that time in the early '90s at Cal when the Ducks blew a 33-0 halftime lead and lost.

But even that wasn't as ugly as this mess.  It is as if Oregon took great care to lose.  One false move and they could have shocked people and pulled off an upset.

Last night was a perfect storm of ineptitude across the board.  You could see it coming from the moment a knocked-out Vernon Adams dropped like a dead body to the Alamodome turf.  There was simply too much past evidence of the team's problems rearing up without the gifted EWU transfer.

The players quit.  The defense grew tired.  Even the coaches figured they couldn't win without VA, so they stopped coaching.

I haven't seen a team lose interest in the proceedings that fast since my own high school teams used to go out weekly and lose 60-0.

Oregon has issues, but I think they can be resolved and the team ought to bounce back next year.

Or maybe, despite my gloom, I'm just an optimist.

Helfrich will probably seek out a new defensive coordinator.  If he doesn't he'll be jeopardizing his own coaching future.

But really, it's a good thing this season is finally over.  Everybody, including the team's harshest critics, would be wise to take a break.

There really is no need to get nasty.  Save that shit for the politicians.

PAC basketball starts today when Oregon plays OSU at 4 p.m.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Ho Hum...

In hindsight, a number of the lesser games this long, long bowl season were more entertaining than the much-anticipated biggies that are winding down today.

Michigan State had no business being on the same field as Alabama yesterday in one playoff game. Today, Iowa is getting curb stomped by Stanford.  Ohio State and Michigan both killed it today and drubbed the opposition.

You see, I don't care who wins these ridiculous games, I just want to see a good contest that goes to the wire and creates some faux excitement.

With any luck, the Oregon/TCU game tomorrow will be a close barn burner, with the Ducks pulling it out on the final drive.

The CFP title game is on the 11th.  Do you think they're giving it enough hype-time?



Truthdig's books of the year.