Sunday, March 25, 2012

Governor Gloom Still Alive

When I was in college at the University of Denver in the 1980s, Richard Lamm, governor of the state of Colorado, was making national news. “People who die without having life artificially extended are similar to ''leaves falling off a tree and forming humus for the other plants to grow up”, is an example of one of his frank statements, earning him the nickname, Governor Gloom. I was assuming that he had died, but when I googled him I found he is still very much alive. According to Wikipedia Richard Lamm is currently a professor at my alma mater. He is a novelist and occasionally writes controversial articles. Why haven't I heard about him for so long?

The simple answer is that he no longer holds such a high profile office. But the more interesting answer can be found in the meditation on how times have changed. While Gov. Lamm was unique in his time, doom and gloom has since become the coin of the realm, the standard rhetorical currency of our time. Right or left of the political spectrum, we hear it constantly.

Republican candidate Rick Santorum invokes old-time indignation often. Lucifer is incarnate, his minions eating away the morals in literal ways. Stalinist legislations from the White House force abortion drugs, bought by employers under the onerous, monolithic Obama-care. An evil pall lies over the land, legacy of J.F.K., whose vile speeches are enough to cause Santorum to actually retch.

Less on the explicitly moralistic side, and more on the fiscal side of Gloom and Doom, was last year's great “chicken” game over the rise of the Federal Debt Ceiling. When Republicans took control of the House in the midterm elections they felt empowered to deny Obama's tax increase proposal alongside spending cuts. It looked like the U.S. was about to default on its debt, but at the last minute they agreed on some spending cuts and a debt rise. It was a white-nuckler.

Forever there is a gnawing fear about the astronomically, incomprehensibly high national debt, and what it portends for the future of Social Security and Medicare: an uneasy sense of doom somewhere out ahead. The same uneasiness can be felt in the EU, when similar “chicken games” play out, such as the recent agreement over Greek debt and bond holders' final haircut.

Doom and Gloom is equally important, perhaps even more important, on the left of the political spectrum. Climate Change policy is full of Doom and Gloom. The planets' population spirals forever upward, while resources dry up. Cities and countries crumble and flood, from New Orleans to Haiti, to Fukashima. Tsunamis, rising sea levels, and increasingly volatile weather patterns cause disasters or “reverse miracles” that could have been described in the wrathful prose of the Old Testament.

Back to Governor Gloom, here's an interesting predictive quote: "The U.S. economy will be debt-ridden, with structural unemployment nearing 20 percent. The U.S. will have the lowest percentage of capital investment and lowest growth in productivity and savings of any major industrialized country. The middle class will be wiped out by these inter-related economic predicaments. …”

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Davy Jones

Hey Hey We're the Monkees!
The decade of the 60s hung in the air still, but only in the form of flotsam and jetsam. In the early 70s we kids didn't know what it all meant. Strange chemicals lay as chem trails in the cultural ether--Agent Orange, LSD, PCP, THC--and the ferrous-smelling molecules of recent assassinations, a heavy aerosol of blood droplets from RFK, MLK, Manson, and Kent State. Before Commercial News Network took over, the three old TV network ushered into our family rooms graphic scenes of  the marching carnal house that was Viet Nam, as presidents LBJ and Nixon painted themselves into corners.

Relief was at hand Saturday mornings when The Monkees took over.  Playing in a slot sandwiched by cartoons, this program was a zany adventure featuring a wholesome boy band, whose driving force, apparently, was Davy Jones. The style of filming was inspired by the proto-music videos of Beatles    zaniness. Jones and his Monkees, however, were not as testy as the original four, hardened as they were in habits from the underground years in salty districts of Germany and England.

After interest in 60s psychedelia ebbed, team-player Jones parlayed his career into a successful second phase as a valuable character in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Disney's ride at Disney World featured a roller coaster passing through a world of automated skeletons, spawning a model-building craze for the macabre. Concurrently, the works of H.P.Lovecraft gained sway, offering a cosmology lead by the tentacled one, Lord Cthulhu, crypt-keeper of the cosmos.

Medical technology offered Jones an unusual opportunity around the in the early 2000s when cyclosporine, a imminosuppressive drug derived from a Norwegian fungus, was discovered. This allowed Jones to have one of the first human-cephalapod partial facial transplants. He thrived with his new role and look, bringing a prehensile realism to his role in the Pirates movies. Despite his unorthodox look and physical state, his recent death appears to be natural. 

Friday, March 9, 2012


While rooting around in my closet archives last night, looking for Indian artifacts, I found this pastel of my Grandpa, Walter Scott. I'm astonished at how the years have gone by--I did it way back in 1979--33 years ago?!  There's some anatomical awkwardness in the drawing, but it captures his essence well. 

He was a quite serious man, to put it mildly. But he showed a lighter side from time to time, such as during the day he sat for this portrait, wearing a yellow shirt.