Friday, January 8, 2010


That's me -- a self-portrait. I've complained, moaned groaned, written lots of posts about wrong ads, wrong TV, wrong stuff that's brain washing us.

Hurray! A new book is out -- 'Crazy like Us." It's about the Globalization of the American Psyche.

It's written by Ethan Watters, who is the right guy to have written it -- he's appeared in New York Times Magazine, Discover, Men’s Journal, online in Details, Wired, and NPR -- he been on "Good Morning America," "Talk of the Nation," and CNN.

Simon and Schuster Books online praises the book -- "He traveled around the world and collected facts, information, statistics, in this provocative study of mental illness diagnosis and treatment in cultures other than our own. In the best investigative reporting tradition, he examines the incidence and current treatment regimens for anorexia in Hong Kong, schizophrenia in Zanzibar, depression in Japan and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia following the tsunami of 2004 ...

"Watters reveals the truth about a multi-million-dollar campaign by one of the world's biggest drug companies to change the Japanese experience of depression -- literally marketing the disease along with the drug."

The review in Time says: "(Watters) is saying America is literally exporting its mental illnesses." And quotes him -- "In teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we have been, for better and worse, homogenizing the way the world goes mad."

In "Crazy like Us," says -- "Leading trend-spotter and science writer Ethan Watters shows that we are not only changing the way the world treats and understands mental illness, we are actually changing the symptoms and prevalence of the diseases themselves."

The reference to Homogenizing caught my eye and keeps echoing. The mixing, blending of mental illness, cultural illnesses is what I'm focusing on -- I see it happening, feel it again and again, every day.

My Aunt in a retirement home is taking Lexapro, sleeping pills, and Aricept randomly. She's strong willed. The doctors probably prescribed the pills accurately, but Auntie medicates herself, when she's feeling blue, angry, upset, or just can't sleep.

The son of my best friend has been on Prozac, Effexor, Celexa, Wellbutrin, and has been seeing various therapists for eight years -- the current one, whom he sees twice a week, put him back on Effexor. (The kid is still depressed, but functioning.)

We've got various simple/common disorders for which we take diet pills, sleeping pills, or maybe energy pills -- like Amino Fuel, or something that contains epinephrine, or serotonin.

For panic -- gee -- we've got so many things that panic us.

Like PANIC about all those probability statistics that prove you might get cancer -- your bones are thinning -- you're tired -- that cramp -- oh dear -- those symptoms --you've gotta see your doctor immediately!

But the doctor's busy -- he can't fit you into his schedule for four weeks, and then he'll want tests. X- rays, colonoscopy, MRI, CAT scan, or some kind of Tomography and ...

PANIC about money, PANIC about all the time it'll take to figure out what's wrong, PANIC about "image" -- looking good, looking younger, making it, being successful, getting a prestigious job, and all that other important American success stuff -- marriage, family, and supporting the family. (Even though 50 percent of American women are the breadwinners today, it's still a panicking issue.)

PANIC about the right way/wrong way to do everything. And all that homogenized advice --you better do this or your brain will slow down, your bones will break, your teeth will decay, or (fate worse than death), you'll get fat!

A depressed friend of mine was diagnosed by various MD's -- told she's Bi-Polar, has a learning disorder, and "ADS" -- an inability for forming relationships, or gee -- was it one of the other disorders with different initials?

(I don't know about you, but it makes me feel dumb and angry --that I am supposed to know what the initials mean -- I don't! Are we abbreviating to save space on a page, or doing it to make the announcer's news-briefs easier to understand? )

Anyhow, I'm hoping "Crazy Like Us" helps us realize that it's up to you, as an individual, to figure out what makes you feel better, and stop throwing all those warnings, those pills, those fears, those panics into the blender -- making a frothy concoction that's easy to swallow -- IT'S BAD FOR YOU! It's making you sick.

I'm GLAD the Watters wrote about all the Jerry Bruckheimer (see my post,"Off with his head," 8/12) murder-death-violence-sex TV -- glad the Watters warns us about all our packaged panics, pills, and remedies for our own cultural diseases.

Can we fix it? Fix it -- fix me -- fix us -- fix the global them -- that's my prayer.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Here's a current picture. Valerie Jarrett is 54. The White House Website states her title -- " Senior Adviser and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement," and lists her impressive credentials.

She was Co-Chair of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, and Senior Adviser to Obama's presidential campaign. Jarrett is president, chief executive Officer of The Habitat Company, a housing complex, and has served in Chicago government as Counsel for Finance and Development, Chief of Staff for Mayor Daley, and Commissioner in the Department of Planning and Development. Other Chairman/Director jobs -- University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee, Joyce Foundation, Chicago Transit Board , Chicago Stock Exchange, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and President Obama's 2004 run for the U.S. Senate.

Her B.A. is from Stanford University in 1978; her J.D. is from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981.

From two articles about Jarrett in the NY Times, I've learned that Jarrett is a dear friend, who knew the Obamas before they were engaged, and helped bring them together. She's been involved with many political, social, and community activities that involved the Obamas.

In a recent Newsweek article, the interviewer (Jeffrey Bartholet), asks Jarrett about the Obamas reaction to the personal constraints of White House life, and asks about the President's adjustment to life in the bubble -- has the first couple picked a church yet -- does Valerie J give the president feedback about some of the decisions he's been making?

Answering Bartholet's questions, Jarrett carefully underplays her importance, but clearly she knows how they feel about life in a "bubble," and does give the President feedback.

She sounds knowledgeable, hard-working and supportive -- she seems like a very important element in the White House today.

While I was reading Jarrett's bio in Wikipedia, I came across Michelle Malkin, an author, blogger, who also has an internet network, "Hot Air." Malkin, a thirty-six-year-old black, has assiduously studied Obama's administration, and in her blog, Malkin says "in the past six months, Obama and his team have betrayed every principle and every promise that they have made."

Whoa! That's a brutal statement. I had to find out more about this woman.

Malkin has published four books. She is one of the "best-read national conservative bloggers." according to Technorati, an internet search engine that indexes 113 million blogs. It ranks Malkin's blog as one of the top 100 blogs of all types.

Michelle Malkin's fourth book, published July, 09, is titled -- "Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies" -- was almost instantly a #1 bestseller.

The title tells the tale. And like Jarret, Malkin has impressive credentials.

Chapter Two of her book attacks "First crony Michelle Obama" as "steeped in the politics of the Daley machine" and "is beholden to the type of hardball politics that Barack Obama says he is against."

On "Hot Air," Malkin called Valerie Jarrett "The second crony," and in other blogs, Malkin detailed three incidents where Obama made a decision, and changed his mind after Jarret pressed him. Malkin said, "Obama makes no decisions without the two cronies' approval."

In another blog, Malkin mentioned Valerie Jarrett's deteriorating slum housing complex, and noted that Jarrett oversees the White House Office of Urban Affairs, "home of pay-for-play corruptocrat urban czar Adolfo Carrion. (And Malkin, applying that term to Jarrett, said "Birds of a feather .... ha ha ha."

The Malkin blogs, broadcasts, and her book are passionately anti-Obama. Valerie Jarrett, an eye and ear and adviser to Barack Obama, whom Obama trusts is (according to Michelle Malkin) corrupt, and it helps Malkin prove that Obama is corrupt.

But I don't see Obama doing corrupt things. I see him working with unrelenting energy -- to fix, correct, revise, solve, and try to re-solve many, many huge problems.

Yes, Jarrett is one of the powers behind the scenes. But Obama talks to hundreds of other powerful people. I have to go by what I see. The decisions he makes, make sense to me. Problems are getting solved. That he can make compromises in order to be closer to achieving Health Care for the uninsured, and ending the war in Afghanistan -- that's a wise man doing what he can do to obtain his objective.

I'm glad he has a pal like Jarrett -- an experienced, knowledgeable legal mind, to hear him and help him evaluate what he's learning from many sources.

But Barack Obama makes his own decisions. What Obama is doing gives me hope that we can be America the Beautiful again.

What Malkin is doing with her talents, her intelligence and political ideas, is creating doubt, fear, anger, confusion -- using words like weapons to undermine the man we elected to do the job. Here is my message to Michelle Malkin -- use your words to help us get unstuck, and make progress toward better days.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I can't get over the crude, rude language, the distortions of Glenn Beck. Yes, I know how hard it is to get to be famous, to make it as a "name" on TV. And yes, I know it helps if you do something outrageous, or shocking, or even disgusting -- it gets folks watching you.

But I can't ascribe Glenn Beck's bad taste, and lies to, his ambition. It's the man. (I argue with myself -- hey he's human -- success means dollars for him -- do some research on his background -- maybe he has family problems and needs the money?)

I can't do it! I don't want to read about when and where he was born, and what he did as a kid -- I can't stand him.

And I feel the same way about Joe Lieberman. (See my post, "What's Wrong with Joe Lieberman," 11/15.)

I don't want to think about him or write about him. Dewayne Wickham, a black author, columnist for USA Today, says it better than I can -- "2009 has turned out to be the year of the anti-hero. It is the year in which Joe Lieberman gets my nod — cynical though it is — as "American of the Year." A Democrat of convenience, Lieberman has succeeded in doing what Benedict Arnold couldn't. In a masterful act of treachery, he retains a position of trust among the very people he betrayed."

Right on, Dewayne!

I hate Lieberman's way of stating his opinions as if his words are significant, important, and thoroughly thought out.

Well ... hate is too strong a word for such a wobbly spongy person ... I'm just XX-ing out Lieberman and that other blob, Glenn Beck out. Along with a few others I can't tolerate.

Palin (See my post, "Sarah Palin Worries Me," 11/21.) My worries about her have turned to repulsion. I can't stand the way she denigrated the work, the knowledge, the efforts of Al Gore, before and during the Copenhagen Climate Change conference -- and blatantly inaccurate, she continues to disparage what Obama's doing.

I never liked or trusted her but now -- "Palin, I'm XX-ing you out!"

Rush Limbaugh getting chest pains on his Hawaiian vacation -- yes, across my mind flickered "I hope it's a heart attack." Bad thought, for a bad, dangerously famous, blimp of guy, (See my post, "The Bum's Rush for Rush L," 11/2) -- he's against everything the White House, the Democrats are trying to do. Therefore, Limbaugh is XX-ed out.

Dick Cheney -- I couldn't stand him during the Bush years. I have a vision of him whispering in Bush's ear, but we never knew for sure what Cheney was saying, or thinking. What has been revealed is a pattern of shocking, wrong, law-breaking decisions and activities, that have hurt our country and diminished what America means and stands for, in the rest of the world.

Now, he's no longer whispering -- he's talking, attacking -- telling anyone who will listen -- (and he's got plenty of listeners in the Republican Party) -- what's wrong with every single decision, statement, or policy that Obama makes.

Will Dick Cheney ever be cited, or punished for his wrong-doings? Will he ever shut up? The headline hungry media turn to him, quote him, and publicize his declarations, as if he were still a vice president, not a bitter man, in poor health, trying to stay alive.

I'm shutting him up with my XXXXX's.

What's the point of this XX list?

It's a way of excising/cutting/trashing the deeds and words of characters who are playing roles in my life.

I haven't hurt them. The XX people on my list, are hurting me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


l still feel out of sorts when I remember last January --being told by my literary agent to submit new manuscripts on a "Kindle sized- page."

Huh? What? While I was gasping, trying to figure out what she meant, she mentioned the Sony Reader, and told me not to worry ... if I brought in a manuscript on 8 x 11 paper, they'd fix it. "We have the equipment --we shoot it, and get it onto a memory card. "

THIS was the new way my agent was going to be trying sell my novels to publishers?

I'd seen a Kindle on – a small, 4" x 6" gadget, bigger than an Iphone, but gee -- a 4" x 6" page? I'd spent umpteen years formatting my books with 40 lines on a page with inch-and-a-half margins.

I studied a Sony Reader on Sony's Website, with a sinking heart -- having experienced the feeling of becoming a "has-been" in the dance world, I couldn't bear the idea that "has-been" was (with my agent's new requirements), happening to me as a writer.

(I've recovered as I will explain in a minute.)

The "Kindle," created by Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, is a booming business. In a recent Newsweek Magazine interview, Bezos said he'd been working on the "Kindle" and developing a Kindle book list for a few years.

Bezos told the interviewer -- "Steven Jobs (CEO and co-founder of Apple) once predicted the Kindle would fail because 'people don't read anymore.'" Bezos immediately proceeded to prove that the Kindle wasn't failing -- it was providing 48 percent of the physical sales.

The interview gave me the heebie-jeebies. Bezos thinks the ink on paper book will eventually disappear. There will still be novels, stories that writers write, but actual physical books will be replaced by new technology.

Yikes!!! Did he mean technology, like IPHones and "apps," so that the Kindle titles he's collecting can be "read" on the latest new portable devices?

Bezos, who looks like a nice guy in the Newsweek photo, actually stated, unequivocally -- "I don't want to read a 300 page book on my computer."

When the interviewer asked. "Do you still read books on paper?"
nice guy Bezos replied, "Not if I can help it."

That remark is still booming in my brain.

Okay, yes, sure -- times have changed -- I saw a promo on the innovative, new, fantastic, amazing, thrilling, top-most, unbelievably fabulous app -- "IPumpstretch" -- one-inch nifty, neat photos of the exercises, plus a heart rate/calories-burned app. (People are buying it and loving it.)

And if you buy the yellow gizmo and yellow cord (it fits your phone), you can use your IPhone like a weight -- toss, shake and swing it in an delightful exercise routine involving lots of major muscles.

I hereby, as an authority on exercise, loudly declare -- "WHAT A CROCK!"

With "Kindles" and IPhones on my mind. I watched for the 4th time, "Fahrenheit 451," the movie made in 1966 about a new world without books -- where books, and homes with books were burned.

The movie has a sad, happy-ending, as Oskar Werner and Julie Christie, the lovers, survive by joining an hidden village where people live, who hate the new world and become a "book." Each person knows one book (every single word in one of the works of Dickens, Poe, and Shakespeare, etc.) and can tell it, so when books are no longer illegal, a book can be "told" and printed as a book again.

Have a look at Francois Truffaut's and Ray Bradbury's world without books.

So, "bravo" Bezos, for creating Amazon, the unique online store that has everything you might want in books, even a help line where you can talk to a human.

But I'm sorry, Bezos -- I am not buying Kindled books or a "Kindle" -- for me, kindle is just a wooden stick or a twig for lighting a fire.

If books go the way they seem to be going, I'll tuck myself into my speedy, new PC, and read quite happily a 300 page or a 750 page novel -- like one of mine that's in my virtual library on my Website, The

Monday, January 4, 2010


Joe Wilson, the GOP congressman from South Carolina who shouted out during President Obama's health care address, "You lie!" (after Obama said the plan will not cover illegal immigrants) -- Joe's still around.

The shock he gave folks, the insulting disrespectful rudeness, still echoes. Will he be rewarded by voters, re-elected? Or will the Democratic Iraq War Veteran who ran against him in 2008, defeat him in 2010? (I'm hoping for the latter.)

Governor Mark Sanford, of South Carolina, weepy, blabbing about his love affair with the Argentinean lady -- he's still asking his friends, devoted supporters, to be understanding, and forgiving.

Will his wife forgive him? He's got things to do for the next few months, with Boeing bringing money and jobs to his constituency, but his term ends in 2010 -- the SC constitution says he can't be re-elected -- so, we may never know the end of his love story. (Goody goody!)

Rod B., the impeached ex-Governor of Illinois, who was everywhere, promoting himself, seeking jobs, stardom, tons of money, stature, on every talk-show, hair blown-dry, pouffed up, sprayed -- I haven't seen him for -- gee, two weeks?

This guy is an egocentric, invincible, semi-celeb, whom we'll remember for another year or so, while he's working on getting another guest spot on Letterman, Leno, or maybe Rachael Ray. Hmm -- maybe he'll get Connie Chung to make another comeback with him in the guest seat, and I'll have to remember how to spell Blagojevich.

What about Michael Steele, Republican National Committee chairman, who's informed us about their plans for Health Care, for handling the war, and terrorism?

Since the poor guy only earns $223,000 a year, lately, he's flying around the country (first class, all expenses paid) making speeches for $8,000 to $20,000 a pop, selling the RNC's philosophies -- annoying some of his buddies and some of us -- but yay, hurray -- he's around much less!

Adam Lambert, the sexy, indefatigable, almost-American idol, who's head-to-toe, gorgeous -- will he be knocking us out with a rock and roll beat, belting out low-down high notes -- bumping and grinding, seductively teasing everyone -- gay, or straight?

No way will this hunk quit. I'm betting we'll see him soon -- turned on, and ON all the channels, not censured -- hey-- with shouting congressmen, sinful and impeached governors, RNC jabbery nonsense, (and of course the latest batch of big-name, bed-hopping stars) Lambert is ... well, he's relatively tame.

Whatever the guy does -- it'll be interesting, unpredictable, more fun than last year's silly, ugly, nasty, mostly boring stuff.

I've got to admit -- I'm looking forward to another viewing of the almost-Idol-Adam.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Here is Usain Bolt -- breaking the world record for 100 metres.

This man is THERE, on the moment, at the moment.

Note: he's the last to go down into starting position.
Note: his back is up higher than other backs.
Note: his knee that touches the ground is lower than other knees.
Note: he takes off from the starter blocks, faster than anyone else.
Note: -- my God, he's in second place -- in first -- his acceleration is breathtaking -- unreal.

In Beijing, at the 2008 Olympics, after Bolt broke the 100 m world record, he pounded his chest in celebration, raised his arm, and saluted the heavens in a Zeus-like pose – that's why he' s called "Lightning Bolt."

An athlete from Trelawney -- a small place north of Kingston, Jamaica -- this 6ft.5, 212 lbs., twenty-three-year old, who broke the 100 m record at the Beijing Olympics, broke his own record in June 2009 in Berlin by 11 seconds, and then, in the 200 m, did it again.

Running, the simplest purest form of athleticism, depends on nothing but the runner's body and soul. As another winner, Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic gold medal sprinter, says -- "Bolt has made people stop and re-think what humans are capable of doing."

As a former athlete/choreographer, I notice what I've noted -- just as Ralph Mann, biomechanist for the U.S. track and field team, who studied Bolt's record-breaking runs, did -- "First off, when he leans over at the start, Bolt's butt is up higher than those of the other racers. That produces power from the big monster muscles in your body. The big old gluteus maximus, the big old hamstring. At 10 m into the Berlin 100, Bolt is already in second place. At 20 m, he's in first place. If he was in seventh, I would be impressed. Exceptional is too soft a word. He's astounding as a starter."

Bolt's long legs are an advantage. Mann suggests, "If you stop the tape at 4.8 sec. you'll see that his left knee is particularly high off the ground. This, combined with the length and strength of his legs, creates the power that leaves the others behind, and spells first place for Usain."

Is it Bolt's physical gifts, or his spirit that makes him special?

His background -- extreme poverty, a strong, loving father who taught him discipline and from whom he's inherited joie de vivre (French says it better than English), and life in a poor village trained him -- toiling in the fields at a very young age, fetching water, and running, sprinting, racing, day after day, many times a day, on a stone-strewn, grass track.

The story of child to victor, and what his future may bring to him, his family and to Jamaica -- it's a story we've heard, and seen a few times before. It means international fame, millions in earnings, and endorsements. This year, Bolt took in around $4 million in endorsement income from Puma, Gatorade and local phone provider, Digicel.

It means fans, paparazzi, books written about him, television interviews, maybe a movie, and of course, probing questions about his private life -- his girlfriend, is he on drugs, has he ever been, and does he take any performance-enhancing substances?

No, this guy is clean! Yes, he passed every drug test. But we know about other athletes who claim they've never been on drugs, and the temptations that come with sudden wealth and fame -- the offers and possessions that are at your door when you're an international celebrity.

What comes to mind is our Tiger, the inspiration and hero to blacks as well as whites. As I read about Bolt, I can't help remembering young Tiger, and his Dad -- all the moments we've seen, shared as Tiger rose, and became the Tiger Woods whom we've loved, and admired, and lauded for years.

Life has brought us "Lighting Bolt" -- to watch, observe as he grows and dances -- he loves to dance. He's already sharing his wealth with the poor in his country, with his "9.58 Super Party."

The money raised by the event will help refurbish the health clinic Bolt's already established in in his home village. The party has already turned into a national annual celebration, with Jamaicans and tourists flocking to celebrate with Bolt at the old sugar plantation he bought, near his home, where slaves once labored.

"Joy to the world," we sing at this time of year. And that's what I'm feeling and hoping. Joy to the world that another super marvelous, extraordinary hero/athlete is here, for our kids, and us to observe, enjoy, share, admire.

Like Tiger woods, folks. We don't have an ending to Tiger's story, he's young and he has miles to go ... But wow -- wonder of wonders -- we'd got Usain Lightning Bolt, lighting up the sky.