28 Jan

Calif-A snapshot of US today: Sometimes life is like high school exams. I think this as I blog opposite an investment conscious guy wearing a blue, ‘Chicago Cubs’ tee shirt. He scours the money section, like it’s his manual with an almost religious fervor. I take a break and join the cue that is now fifteen people deep, all waiting inline at the local Starbucks patiently, as if it’s a coffee train station, like we’re all at the high school cafeteria all over again.

These days, as grown ups, it’s okay to wait. A wait in line means a treat. Personal phone time on one’s mobile phone.

We have been socialized to drink coffee every morning from exotic nations like Africa, Guatemala. We feel like we’ve traveled to these nations, when we haven’t every day. In line, we are socialized to happily spend money via internet based phone companies pressing growth areas like ‘smartphone spend’ apps, services, IT systems with major franchised store owners. It is the ‘mobile wallet’ culture that the corporate kids of America, are all for, to transact virtual dollars quicker into their own virtual worth accounts.

Each day we pour phone time into their corporate banks. They sit on top of us, like privileged wasps, drilling down into the honey of the sweet fruit of our labor. We envy their ‘clever’ over our drudgery. The trade-off for their privileged spots is that now they work with government, banking merchants and news agencies to provide our world views, in a boxed screen, like a QR code-reading, single eye, we hold in our hands.

We don’t know yet, if the eye can read us too. But it can map and track our habits. Each one of us is like a social guinea pig. Or lives via our telephones can be read, like a personal tabloid. Transparency in a digital age is the only cultural way forward, if we live in a world, where nothing is secret or unknown about us.

I notice today, that it is rare that anyone talks to each other in the cue as neighbors of community would, standing side-by-side. We don’t care, we have control of the world in our palms as our trade off. Or so we think.

If you’re a little old school, you might want the feel of papyrus newsprint in hand (the invention of Egypt and China), of wood that has been beaten to a pulp, pressed, dried and inked with journalists and politicians or corporate spokes peoples words placed on them in 26 characters of the English alphabet, with a Z being more apparent here in America than many other English speaking nations.

Instead of talking to the person beside us, we reach for a copy of the Wall Street Journal. That always makes us look smart, sorts the men out from the boys, or women out from the trophy girls with bucket loads of salon time, like we know what a buck is – an important American trait, I don’t yet possess – or maybe never will. Today, a circus of orchestrated volatile news occurring in the Middle East, shouts terror, violence – the subliminal subtext leans towards ‘more security measures needed.’ Nations are played out like their own reality TV show. Any attention in a ‘competing’ global economy is better than ‘no press.’ How else will anyone else know you exist and the tourism dollar come your way, or not. Politicians can sacrifice their tourism draw, with other nation’s leaders in secret trade offs. They become villains, to aid nations as not-so-secret-unlikely allies in a super powers race. They take turns being terrorists, in the way or nations they’re politically courting. We live in a reality TV culture, so such narratives are easily read, more and more – as if a big TV spectacle. Even the terrorist’ or ‘religious unrest’ orchestrated ones too.

The gratification of the terror-lines is that it makes you feel incredibly thankful we’re standing in the land of the military-protected, brave and the free of the US.

Like, where else would you want to be in the world right now, except somewhere incredibly protected from all that stuff out there? Doh! That’s a no brainer. Especially if you have a family on your  mind. Again, we are encouraged to remain safe, and not travel. We’re in the best place.

With every terror story, you love your government and fellow man even more in that moment. It is how politicians get attention, as they compete against the very perks that the corporate-artistic oft-married sector offer their people (like entertainment on the internet and telephones). Even though we switch the TV channel when government comes on – in the privacy of our homes. Or, we still don’t want to talk to our fellow woman or man, right at our elbow. I am just as much a culprit of this culture of individualism in my own ‘uniqueness.’

The ambiance of the coffee shop, segues between a lull of jazz elevator music, or folk lore ballad laments of loss or moving beyond that yawn that we’ve indulged ourselves to much in perhaps in many column inches of recovery reflection– into, the real world of ‘the hard grind.’ Over the cafe stereo, lyrics like “once upon a yellow bonnet” conjur up mythological key words of the wild west narratives of American history. We are meant to ride out again and ‘conquer.’ What though? is the unanswered question, but it all sounds good. The music segues between country folk, or lyric-less jazz. The unrest you see in newspapers, has the edge taken off it, by the melodic rather inane, yet pretty musical lull track.

With everything being so scary projected from newspapers, or headlines flashing across telephones we begin to believe even more that we need more security, that all people should be monitored more. If they’re not, if there is any kind of upheaval in the world, stock market figures go down. We are punished financially. Our ‘ability to compete’ is impaired by the latest wave of world politics, news and unrest.

We find religious differences and disputes annoying. To be financially rich and trade on virtual money, our reward system tells us, it’s much easier to all just be atheists. As a trade off, we pretend we don’t need to be spiritual. Inside, we are becoming more like spiritual anorexia, bowing to a virtual buck, more and more. Darn those people, ‘buying’ their way to heaven is the sentiment, as we fail to see that the stock market is a religion too, lead by high priests of this culture. Many claim to not be religious or discriminatory of religion either, so they often go undetected.

If we were atheists, that would ‘logically’ tidy up all of the religious volatility in the Middle East rather nicely, so we wouldn’t have to bother about the jerky journey of stock market bumps so much if there was no ‘unrest’ in the Mid-East over significant religious sites -Israel-Palestine being a key catylist of Mid-East’s domino effect on all Arab nations relations with the Jewish-Christian worlds belief systems.

Suddenly, in all of the elevator music coffee cue reading today, our eye may catch the story of John Paulson, the anti-Madoff of last year’s headlines, who actually made $5 billion for his clients. $5 billion!!! A hedge fund investor who gave back to clients (posted a profit for shareholders) and not stole or cried poor. Wow, that’s refreshing. Our brains explode like wannabe uber-Capitalists, fueling a stock market American dreamer’s fantasy-like dream. We may breathe a sigh of relief, ‘the dream’ is still within our reach, of our telephone screens.

Our belief in the stock market reward system is restored by John Paulson. He maybe our hero in this fickle minute of news spotlighting. We forget about all of those ‘religious nutters’ of the Mid-East quicker than a tap on our touch screen phones. John Paulson is suddenly our new Zuckerberg-esque, demi-god like guru of financial success to emulate, listen to, read about, aspire to, perhaps.

Today I think to myself that via virtual communities we have kinda become so easy to manipulate. We don’t care. It’s mostly fun. We have choice on our telephones over the internet. Just not the good people of Egypt today – their internet is cut off today. They’re not US though, so we don’t really care much. The next celebrity picture or scary headline has already distracted us, and whisked us away, on the coffee train to our Western future. In a way, we are demi-gods unto ourselves with our telephones in hand, worshiping our own creations of our own personal choice, living life stuck between the phone apps that offer us usefulness according to our own whims and fancies. They rule our lives each day with our morning coffee community rituals.

What we need is a conscience app. I know I do.

The sad thing about stock market volatility with Mid-East peace status, is that chances to earn on the stock market for the layer just below the ‘elite’ are frozen with Middle East upheaval happens. There is no trickle down. That is a myth the rich and politicians often conveniently believe, yet evidence of this is thin on the ground. If you’re like me, committed to living a life beyond lies more and more, it means we all must get more creative to live, eat, have dreams that can become tangible in such a culture that is based on words that are full of virtual promise, not always manifesting in tangible, concrete results. Our culture is about the immediacy of the sound bite in a moment, not always what will eventuate for reals – to real and precious people – just as important as ourselves.

These people, don’t have phones, or blogs to share their views or even be heard or raise their hand and say ‘remember me?’ So for them, we must do more, somehow. The conscience app would help us all have built-in conscience moments in our day to think of others. If not, we are like Nazis in old German times. We are no different. Our nazi uniforms are our self-indulgent phones, if we are not contributing to others or community like we are capable of. Being conscious is what it’s about. Not half asleep, to others around us.

Unfortunately, security and a sense of global calm goes hand in hand with stock market projections, forecasts, financial well being–that allegedly feeds back down to grass-roots level neighborhood economies and communities. The little people without fat, continue to suffer some more – with each bombardment of concerning news from outside the US. There is a whole generation of people who are ghosts, walking around, who are not factored into wealthy peoples spread sheets. We often don’t even notice them, because our faces are looking into our phones.

Today the Middle East rules America, with a humanly felt sense of slight apprehension and fear, as reflected in this news headline - Egypt Cuts Internet, Deploys Riot Police – Confidence is eroded a little.

It is interesting how some governments cut internet privileges as the opium of the masses is turning the ‘internet’ on or off as a mechanism of control. Rather than empathize with Egypt’s conflict, we don’t, instead something more fun (easier) distracts us and we feel special that we have internet and they don’t. We are like children, that have unlimited access to the candy jar. And we like that, a lot with our mobile phone usage. We want online sugar darn it! Faster internet is the symbol that has come to define ‘true liberty.’

Most of us, will probably settle for that.

In Egypt, a display of government censorship kicks in so there are no outside distractions. Suddenly Egyptians in Cairo are no longer global citizens online. They are very much Egyptian with little outside world contact. Time to interact with each other, or, with the military might of riot police and people deployed with … wait, guns. Or todays buzz word, tanks. As a contrast the WSJ runs a story are .

It feels like high school a bit don’t it? Internet privileges cut like a school detention penance. Patience is needed for stock market players in this new crises. Egypt is this year’s Afghanistan distraction. A place far far away from America, that costs us all somehow in the realms of the ‘exotic’ from our ‘Western’ world views. Egyptians are now the new spectacle as ‘terror entertainment’ effecting stock market growth and thus the US economy’s progress. Simply because they are different – and unknown – and their desire for answers of democracy within Egypt – and protests towards this effect, are costing us here in the West. How insensitive!

We forget that Afghanistan is rich in minerals and Egypt in natural gas and particularly gold. They are just ‘trouble’ today. The people of these nations are not often not human, via our telephones. They’re usually pictured with blood, or fire and billows of smoke behind them. A people in constant crises.

Egypt’s unrest provides the timely distraction of the US government announcing they will most probably post the worst national deficit ever, ahead. The sweetener of an Arab speaking nation’s turmoil? Rahm Emanuel is okay-ed again for the Chicago Mayoralty race. We can relax, Rahm is a winner. There is nothing more important than local government. (Personally, I am a Rahm fan).

This man was released from being the President’s Chief of Staff in the nation’s capitol, to stand for Mayor of Chicago, a city. We get the message that US cities are vitally important with Rahm as the star potential future Mayoral candidate for all Mayors to emulate, admire and look up to. The mayoral star system is getting a shake up. Lofty (Rahm) is the star model. His heroic race, reminds us, that community is in good hands. The President will mirror Lofty’s journey, into office for a second term. But with Lofty, we see how it’s done. Change looks like Lofty’s new appointment as Mayor, our need for that is appeased, so that Obama gets a very fair chance, at a second term in Office in tough times, he inherited. A man who took on what Obama did for America in government, deserves that.

Somehow in all of this, we get the headline that isn’t all bad, scary news too. The latest scan of the economic state can be logically explained too. Today. That being The .

I am interrupted by the mid 40′s man with a hat whose a musician and could pass for being part Kiwi hobbit (awesome!), whose wife Kristen is preggers with pink hair. They own the aptly named Sirens Salon here in West Hollywood on Spaulding Ave, in Hair Capitol America. (BTW – they in no way, necessarily share any philosophical views I may have on this blog :)

“Hey man. I really dig your tee shirt, where did you get that?”

They are the coolest people ever. Mellow, fun, upbeat, interactive. We chat, as the dude in the blue Chicago Cubs tee, finishes the WSJ’s money section and looks pleased with his investment options today.

The one thing that unites us all today in California’s largely silent, postmodern fashion defining, street chic community, is a love of the humble cotton tee shirt, with something fun splashed on it.

Because I am internet and coffee addicted, I choose to live in reality. My tee shirt says “addict” – white screen printed letters on grey cotton. Why everyone wants it. I don’t know? Today they do. I break the news that it was a second hand store purchase so you can’t run out and just buy one too. He’s disappointed. If it was in his size, I’d give it to him. Every rocker needs a tee like this one.

Tee shirts to me, are like very quick tattoo-ed cotton skins. We live in a world of telephone skins. Screen images quickly change in our hands at least 30-40 times each day. It makes sense that a new tee shirt each day, goes hand in hand (affordably) with this ‘cultural progression.’

I get most of my tee shirts second hand. I aint too proud to wear a $4 dollar tee shirt to remain in the US as a newbie – to participate, but mainly learn. It’s sometimes, the only way you can do it, and still contribute to American life and culture. Otherwise, there would be no new voices living within America, and culture would be becoming like the red sea, with not enough fresh water in. I am fresh water in to America, cutting living costs has allowed me to be that in reality. I am grateful for the opportunity to still be in the US. It’s exciting being with Americans post (or mid) recession. You see the spirit of the American people at times in duress, and wow – what a nation! Fun people.

In spite of the rocky patches that do shake or knock us around a bit, since I’ve been here, I still love America and being in it. I’m not the Uncle Sam, touted in this story today in the WSJ, pictured below. Even though, secretly, I wish I was really an American-Maori Uncle Sam like him too. He sounds like an okay guy from Miami, this Uncle Sam. Who knows, maybe I’ll become more like him. :)

Of course, I do realize that this story is not, telephone friendly. It’s too long. Lol!

A cultural sharing moment - What does your special American State look like? This was ours this morning. Share yours if you want to, in a comment (or link) below to your blog or Facebook. Thanks.

[email protected] by Horiwood.Com, Hollywood California USA. 1.28.11~


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