Saturday, May 7, 2011


Celine Dion thrills a sell-out crowd of 4,200 at Caesar's Palace, while a Las Vegas resident strums his guitar in his home sweet home underground.

Too many things that we take for granted seem to be changing, obsolescing, disappearing, falling apart.

Golly, we need our "sin city," in the way that we need a guy like Hugh Hefner, banana-splits, and Elvis. Vegas, like Miami, has been a ;place to MUST-visit for gambling, fancy dining, big shows -- being entertained by super stars such as Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, and Elton John.

Celine Dion has signed a $100 million contract for 210 performances over the next three years. Rod Stewart and Elton John have similar three-year contracts.

However, according to Newsweek, the mega-resorts, along the Vegas strip, have been losing money over the past two years -- more than $6 billion, and unemployment is at nearly 14 percent, the nation’s worst rate among big cities.

Okay, unemployment's a problem everywhere, but it's killing what Vegas is -- a glamorous place where you can escape what's happening in your world. (And just a few short blocks from the strip there's uncollected garbage, boarded-up storefronts, shabby folks standing around, or sleeping here and there. )

Foreclosures and layoffs have been torching the dreams of the men and women who create the illusion -- cocktail waitress in their sateen miniskirts, the towel boys who work the "bacchus" pools, the cooks at Nero's Steakhouse, as well as bus boys, maids, janitors, bellboys, and would-be chorus kids.

The policemen who deliver the foreclosures, the eviction and lockout notices, who get $42 for delivering a notice, aren't complaining -- their earnings are up. The fact is, notices often can't be delivered because the person no longer lives at his address, or works at his place of employment.

Matthew O'Brien, a journalist who is currently raising funds to help the homeless, wrote about this in "Beneath the Neon." Near the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, below this trash-strewn area, there are miles and miles of drainage pipes and tunnels where bums have lived off and on for years. Since the recession, the tunnels have become increasingly populated by the unemployed.

The resident in the picture above, was a maintenance worker. He sleeps on a couch he found in a dumpster. He says he lost his job a year ago and couldn’t afford to pay his $675 rent. He guards his "home" with a BB gun because crime in his tunnel is rampant.

The Mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, doesn’t seem unduly worried about the underlying desperation in Las Vegas. When Newsweek asked him about the loss of 140, 000 jobs, Goodman said, “I have no doubt they'll be back." When the reporter asked about the 2 million–person decline in annual visitors, the Mayor, brimming with optimism, said, “Give them time to buy a ticket!”

Well, Celine, Rod, end Elton are big names. Caesars Palace has its spectacularly beautifully, newly renovated Coliseum theater for them. Maybe sell-out crowds will be flocking into Vegas over the next three years, and super stars can save Las Vegas.

Author O'Brien's foundation, "Shine a light," is a community project that helps the hundreds living in the tunnels. I'm sending a donation to
as "Shine a Light" suggests.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Do you recognize the riders? know who's who?

* Mitt Romney
* Tim Pawlenty
* Mitch Daniels
* Newt Gingrich
* Ron Paul on the elephant's butt?

Is there room for:
Haley Barbour?
Mike Huckabee?
John Thune?
Jon Huntsman?,
Rick Santorium?
Jim DeMint?

Hey, one thing for sure -- you riders better be ready to squeeze together and make room for the paler Sarah Palin.

The Paler Palin is still very vivid.

Hey, do you know what "bareback" riding means in the Urban dictionary?

It means "Intercourse without "protection."

Yep. These guys are having a ball, intercoursing with us --OH WOW -- impregnating us with promises of happy times ahead.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Dear Katie,

Here's my advice about what you should do, first and foremost.

Since you won't be the CBS Evening News anchor in the fall, and you've written about and rehashed the ups and downs of your career in a book that's just been published. I can say what I want to say, uninhibitedly.

Katie, what is loud, loudest, in your mind? Pay attention to what's you are saying to YOU. You are at a perfect age, 54, to do whatever you need and want to do -- be it major, huge, or minor, small, or nothing -- you can just float along for awhile.

The people who give you advice may love and admire you, but no one knows more about what Katie Couric can do as well as you do.

Five years ago, when you took over CBS Evening News, I did not like the look, the sound, the feel of your news style. I missed Dan Rather's fatherly authoritative presence. You seemed to have a personal feeling about most subjects. I didn't know who you were, though I knew you had lost a husband to colon cancer, and you were promoting colonoscopies.

Now, after looking at CBS Evening News occasionally, and then more frequently watching your show, I see YOU. I see a real person, and there is weight, a feminine objectivity -- not sweetsy, not mother, aunty, or sister -- an authority that fits you. I am not distracted by your jewelry, hairdo, or anything that you wear.

I don't hear just Katie's point of view -- I hear the news -- what you're reporting, describing.

I think Katie Couric ought to stay on CBS a little longer.

If you are moving on because of negotiation factors -- money, artistic concept -- I understand. (If you were giving me advice and suggested I stick with cultural stuff and keep away from politics -- well, I'd listen, but I'd stick with what I know about myself -- I have to write about what's on my mind.)

Though I've said don't leave CBS -- advised you to stay -- you've become a very strong, convincing, powerful anchor in your own way. You know inside yourself what YOU want to do. Pay attention to your own voice.

Listen to YOU.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Where are we heading with social media?

Tweeting is -- gee -- it feels like senseless babble, but I'm tweeting daily, to get readers, hoping tweeters I'm "following" will read my blog.

BONG! stuff I've been reading is tolling in my mind.

Zachary Karabell -- BONG -- this fortyish money manager says it's very significant, that we Tweet, Facebook, or are LinkedIn -- that when we're on Groupon, Yelp, Yammer, Flickr, Ning, Digg, or any of the new social networks, any one of them may 'boom,' and become the next super star, bigger than Facebook.

Karabell makes money managing money and advising other financial advisers about "the economy." Educated at Columbia, Oxford, and Harvard, author of several highly praised books, Karabell's essays are in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Policy, Time and Newsweek.

Articles about "the economy" are what I usually skip, but this brainy, knowledgeable guy was focused on "social media," which sort of fascinates me.

Zach said social media is thriving and proved it with numbers. Facebook is worth $75 billion. GroupOn is worth about $25 billion. Zach claims the guys who invented these Websites make money and some of their investors make some money, but -- BONG -- social media thriving does not help "the economy." According to Zach, if social media created more jobs, it would help the economy, and he proves it with numbers: last year social media created 21,000 jobs, which is just a tiny percentage of the 150 million jobs that are needed for our work force in a healthy economy.

I got sleepy as Zach went on and on about how the social media boom is diverting investors. Then, Zach mentioned that the social media boom reminds him of the early days of the telephone. He said in the mid-80's, the Internet didn't look very profitable.

I'm thinking "not yet." I have a "not yet" folder on my desk, for ideas I might want to write about. Gee, it was 1999, when I heard about an "Internet, and started fumbling with stuff on AOL. NEVER did I think that 20 years later I'd be blogging, social-media-ing, You-tubing searching, shopping, seven days a week on the Internet.

Zach mentioned a Pew study. (Economy experts often quote the "Pew reports.") It said that 45% of adults making less than $30,000 have access to "broadband." (You can't do social media effectively if you don't have high-speed internet.)

Zach said these low-income guys, more than likely, even if they get laptops, probably won't bother with social media -- it's getting too complicated, even for the rich, educated guys with fancy computers.

Maybe Zach needs a "not yet" folder. Don't most of those low-income guys have cell phones? What about lower, low-priced "social media apps? Those guys on their cells -- face-booking, tweeting, yammering -- they might boom-boom BOOM the whole damn economy?

Hey, maybe I ought to send Zach's blog a heads-up, an Em Talkery prediction?

Hmm. I'm putting all this BONG BONG stuff in my "not yet" folder.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


He's 23. He's passionately promoting NON-violence.

Joe Klein. a columnist for Time Magazine, said, "he s the face of the new Middle East ... I meet with him and several other young Palestinians at the local Coca-Cola Bottling Company headquarters in Ramallah, which tells you something important about this movement. We are not meeting in a mosque. He is a Palestinian who returned home to start an alternative-energy company and see what he can do to help create a Palestinian state. He identifies with neither of the two preeminent Palestinian political factions, Hamas and Fatah. His allegiance is to the Facebook multitudes, rebels who orchestrated the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt, and who are organizing non-violent protests throughout the region."

Gee, after so many angry, attacking, shouting guys in the news, it's wonderful to see a fresh face and find out about this guy. He looks and sounds as if he's an up-and-coming leader and hero.

On Facebook, I "friended" him, sent him a vlog to introduce myself. I told him I was writing about him and promised to send him this post. Will I get reply? (If I do -- gee, maybe you'll see Em's picture on his page.)

How did he get into the news? March 15th, Fadi's group launched a small, semi-successful protest in the West Bank and Gaza. Right now they're doing small, nightly vigils in the main square of Ramallah, apparently discussing and planning what NON-violent protest they'll do next.

At a press briefing for young Palestinian activists, Fadi said, "I was in the seventh grade when it [the uprising] began. Prior to that, I was very interested in science and in physics, in doing physics research. But when the uprising came, childhood friends were wounded by Israeli gunfire; others were forced to emigrate to the U.S. My passion for science got me into Stanford, and last spring [I] completed a BS in Physics and a BA in International Relations. I returned to Ramallah to pursue a master's degree in Palestinian law at Birzeit University, and work on an initiative to bring renewable energy to Palestine."

Then, Fadi went on to explain, "A vast majority of Palestinians who are refugees really don't get these opportunities to become a physicist, or to have a normal life. The lack of freedom sucks the life out of their dreams. I realized that to achieve our goals, which are the goals of all humanity -- freedom, justice, dignity -- I needed to first get rid of the oppressive structures that exist in Palestine. That's when I began doing activism."

And then -- wow -- as far as I'm concerned Fadi hit a home run when he said, "We want democratic representation, first and foremost, and then [we'll] move to non-violently challenging the occupation, in the same sense that Martin Luther King challenged segregation in the south, and in the same sense that Gandhi challenged British colonialism in India."

I love the fact that Fadi named his Website/blog "The Gandhi-King Community " and has offered to answer questions. He has stated, very clearly, that he was Muslim, that he is no longer Muslim, and he, as well as his other team members, have realized it's difficult for people to know what to believe about the core teachings of Islam.

In his blog, Fadi mentions they've received many negative comments.
Will the Gandhi-King Community grow? Will it include Israelis as well as Palestinians? I am hoping, hoping, hoping it will.

Monday, May 2, 2011


I thought the whole wedding thing about William and Kate was much ado about nothing. A graceful, lovely-looking girl married a Prince. The fairytale aspects of the story are pleasant, but it's not a story I enjoy hearing over and over and OVER.

I have been hearing, reading, seeing photos for more than month of the newlyweds' plans, gifts, guests, friends, clothes, activities, food, "the ring," his family, her family, her shoes, gown, the honeymoon, etc.

I am not interested, and now, apparently, there's going to be lots of rehashing of the big event. (I'll admit, I've had a bitchy thought or two. For instance, I don't admire Camilla. I'm amused (and feel sorry for Camilla) -- all the furor over Diana's son, and Kate, that makes Camilla the stepmother-in-law.

I'm chuckling over what Jerry Seinfeld said, when a British reporter interviewed him on the wedding day.

The reporter: "Are you excited."
Jerry: "Yes. It's 'dress ups."
Reporter asked again, "You're excited?"
Jerry: "Yes! It's a circus act -- it's absurd. Classic 'lets-play-dress-up, let's pretend these are special people.' Okay, we'll all pretend! That's what theater is. That's why Britain's got the greatest theater in the world. They love to dress up. They love to play 'pretend.' And that's what the royal family is -- it's a huge game of 'lets pretend!'"

Well, the Brits love it and most of my friends loved it, so maybe, in between the stunning news about the killing of Osama Bin Laden, I'll watch a re-run!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


This video conversation between us ... well, to me, it didn't ever feel as if it worked. It sort of um - um uh flounders around. We do have a Will, and your your Last Will and Testament needs to be updated. But somehow, discussing it with a camera eye on us, was awkward.

Yes, we could simply delete this video, and you wouldn't see us searching for what we needed to say about revising our Wills. There are other ways our money could be handled after we're gone, but, we had difficulty communicating.

As we chatted, it was clear to both of us, that John wasn't sure what he felt, and we both began to feel all wrong about the subject.

Here is our um - um discussion. It's interesting, even to us, as we've watched this video and see ourselves stumbling and note how delighted we both were, when we decided to STOP.

Maybe it will inspire you to deal with your own Last Will and Testament.