Sunday, September 24, 2023

Post No. 212: How I Long for the Days of a Gal Like Judge Judy in My Life

© 2023, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

I haven’t written a post since March of this year. That I choose to do so now suggests that the past 6 months contained more than its share of wackiness about which I must try to make sense.

I filed papers to formally establish The Institute of Applied Common Sense ™, and despite using it for the past 15 years with only the permission of its original creator, Curvin O’Reilly, and my mentor, Willy Hopkins, no one else chose to seize on the concept in the intervening period.

Why am I obsessed with Judith Sheindlin, who I’ve been watching since 1996? She has become less and less amused by litigants with each passing year, and that is just one thing that we have in common.

I sent a text to a buddy acknowledging my infatuation upon my return to California. Such precision and clarity of thought, I noted. No frigging nonsense. From his silence, I suspect he thought I had gone off the deep end when I mused that we could live in a fantasy world all our own. I even contemplated passing out flyers: “Man seeks Judge Judy type female; Looks, age, and sexiness unimportant.”

Several months ago, I realized we had a standing, virtual date. I found myself glued to the screen while she eloquently expressed what I could only quietly think, “You’re both so stupid.” My favorite? “Mr. Jones, I can legally give you rights to the dog left by your wacked out, former roommate, but I recommend that you simply return the dog, and remove both her and her mother from your life.” When asked what he wanted to do, the man who described himself as “compassionate” replied, “I want to keep the dog.”

Every single day, she suggests to parties that having negative energy in their lives is unhealthy and not the preferred option, and yet they always smile and point to Door No. 1.

Oh, how I long for the days of a gal like Judge Judy in my life.

Earlier today, while communicating with a former girlfriend of 50 years, I found myself walking down the street laughing at, and talking to, myself about the current wackiness. I’ve become concerned that residents in my newfound, bedroom community, where there is absolutely no crime, might feel “uncomfortable.”

I take some degree of comfort in the straight-shooting lay version of Judge Judy who joined my Facebook page, who regularly shares, “Another Week of Stupid,” alluding to our elected leaders.

Despite all, the assessment of my 1980s secretary, friend, and confidante, that the world is spinning “out of control,” seems spot on. Madison Avenue feels similarly, as we watch back to back prescription drug commercials with people dancing, as No. 2 becomes easier to do. My money is on the firm which can repair your destroyed home and lost possessions, “Like it never even happened.”

Oh, how I long for the days of a gal like Judge Judy in my life.

So, placing this in the proper ADHD bi-polar context, I just returned from the laundry room, after the most invigorating conversation with a stranger about the fact that all four washers are working at the same time for the first time within the past year (with remote wi-fi monitoring), and found it stimulating. I suggested to her that last night was a good night to return to my more than adequate version of a college dorm room, and touch base with you folks.

COVID really messed us up, in ways that are not immediately apparent, except to the Chinese and Russians, and it paved the way for the emergence of Corporate Drug Dealers.

And that’s what I’ve concluded at 72 years of age, using my world-class education, as I walk down the streets of Paradise. I am reminded there’s nothing more fascinating than the human capacity to adapt, as I watch the latest episode of the History Channel’s The Unexplained. Last night’s episode explored how they divided 80,000 pieces of the body of Buddha, and distributed them to disparate locations around the globe, so that hundreds of millions could worship them. The most sacred item (one of his teeth) landed in Sri Lanka, and others around the corner from me in Rosemead.

Good night, Los Angeles, where I no longer choose to live, despite the excitement generated by that guy who pulled a butcher knife on my subway car a couple of weeks ago, which I might have mistaken for a machete, as 25 people scrambled on top of one another within a moving, confined space. It provided a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Up close and personal.”

[I managed to almost complete this piece without one mention of sex, Nora O’Donnell, Halle Berry, Shyanne Malone, or Jessica Alba.] It’s been an exceptional 6 months.

Oh, how I long for the days of a gal like Judge Judy in my life.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Post No. 211: The Problem Being A Forward Thinking, Solution Grounded, Pragmatic Optimist

– © 2023, The Institute for Applied Common Sense™

If I did not know better and did not have the input of hundreds who studied under my mother during the 1950s – 1960s, I would suspect that she was a reincarnated, ancient Chinese philosopher. Always trying to get me to see both sides of everything, thus suggesting therein lies potential solutions. She was bigger than the racial and gender parameters generally assigned to her.

Here once again, I find myself at 3 am reading the National Review, which I am compelled by her memory to absorb on a daily basis, along with watching Fox News, in an effort to: (a) understand the mindset of the conservative / authoritarian governance faction; (b) determine whether there is a commonality of interests amongst a super majority of American citizens; and (c), being a "forward thinking, solution grounded, pragmatic optimist," try to articulate some amorphous consensus around which we ordinary everyday citizens can coalesce.

Contrary to many, I honestly believe that both sides in this ideological and cultural war should listen to and try to understand one another, because the stakes are bigger than any faction, no matter how defined or framed. As hard as I try, I find myself intellectually incapable of defining the word “woke,” other than the time I get out of bed. A central tenet of democracy is consensus finding. However, the professional politicians, like the handlers of heavyweight boxing championship contenders, can’t have that. There’s no money to be made.

Believe it or not, my distant cousin, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and I have not conferred on this idea of dividing up the country. To her credit, she came right out of the blocks advocating it, while those of you who have followed my roller coaster views know that I consider it an option of last resort before bloodshed. Despite coming from two dramatically different types of idiots, our positions have been severely criticized and labelled illogical and insane by 99% of the voting public, or at least the professional, non-resolution oriented talking heads on the media outlets.

And therein, perhaps, hope springs eternal.

Back in 2008, my writing mentor, Willy Hopkins, suggested I take a side on issues occasionally to develop an audience of any value. I ignored his advice, stating I preferred having both sides throw rocks at my positions. All I ever wanted was to have 2 or 3 readers say, “Hmmm.” “Interesting,” is the highest compliment in my view.

I am sure that my cousin from the great, sovereign state of Georgia is dead serious about her position, while I have proposed a national divorce facetiously on occasion, and to stimulate some debate on others. My primary motivating consideration has always been the avoidance of bloodshed, not the practical difficulties, and yet many consider bloodshed to be a periodic, necessary evil, before civilization returns to its senses.

I’m not a fan of politicians. They have few socially redeeming values. The vast majority of them cannot successfully maintain relationships with spouses of their choosing (as opposed to pure happenstance like citizens), successfully provide guidance to the offspring of their delusional blood flow distractions, or even balance their household checkbooks, and yet they have somehow convinced us that they should be our leaders regarding the big policy issues in life.

I invite you to read this piece from National Review, in depth, to gain a better appreciation of how complex a country we really are. No monolithic nothing, according to this analyst. It might also prompt some really creative approaches so we can surgically and strategically focus our work at the local and state levels, to avoid backsliding on individual freedoms and choices. I have to give the National Review writer his props, having exhaustively analyzed the s_ _ t out of the statistics, to show us that there are no true blue or red states, let alone “The American People.” The manipulators impress upon us that we are in separate camps since that advances their interests and enables them to further manipulate us.

I found the following quote at some point within the past couple of weeks and realized that although an ancient Chinese philosopher did not pen it, she could have: “The most powerful way to heal someone is to listen. Don’t think or judge. Just listen. People start to heal the moment they feel heard. You can’t be a healer if you refuse to step outside of your own emotions and view things entirely from the perspective of the other person.”

Our purported elected leaders aren’t in the business of listening. They are in the business of framing, to advance their own interests. The sooner we recognize that, the better off we will be without them, and their manipulative influences.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Post No. 210: She’s So Fine, There’s No Telling Where the News Went

© 2023, The Institute for Applied Common Sense™

SPOILER ALERT! Today, I’m an Equal Opportunity Offender. The success of this post is based on how many groups I manage to offend.

Despite my appreciation of consequences in life, I’m not concerned; because (unlike politicians) no one is paying me for my inconsequential nonsense (unlike politicians who we pay and whose nonsense is consequential). There is nothing like the power of money, having prompted the Vatican “Founding Fathers” to propose “greed” as a Deadly Sin. A black friend of mine is sending out proposals this week to KKK chapters, to build their websites, if the price is right.

I called him a few minutes ago to warn him that despite my failure to identify him and his location, he might see some protesters out front. He said that he would be on the lookout and get him promotional materials ready. He noted that he tried to join several of the chapters from which he solicited business, but he couldn’t get past the application question whether he was a Christian.

And yet, many were confused about the motivations of Herschel Walker, which upon investigation, arguably go back to 1983. Unlike the inability of police to identify “motive” amongst the mentally ill, I always say, “Follow the money, or lack thereof.” Its accumulation promotes unparalleled devotion and loyalty. Its absence has long term ramifications.

I delayed posting this for 7 days. Michael Richards of Seinfeld’s Cosmo Kramer fame destroyed his career in less than 100 words, and forfeited millions. Then I thought, “I ain’t getting paid. People ain’t reading my nonsense. Why should I care?”

A positive feature of old age is not worrying about offending others. To some extent you don’t care. You realize that by uttering a phrase which was unacceptable just 9 weeks before as an employee, no one will call from HR, or, as a business owner, serve you with a lawsuit. Despite my concerns about the current divisive environment, something is “unsettling comfortable” about being able to identify those who do not wish me well. Don’t forget about the convenient sudden onset dementia option. “He used to be so sharp.” You can get elected president by simply noting, “I was just joking.” And then there is “I'm just a dirty old man” option available when needed.

As one of my former girlfriends oft says to me, “Greene Man, but you digress. Focus.” I move to prospective “offended group No. 21.”

After a full year of drinking California Kool-Aid and breathing smog, I may be delusional about manipulation by elected leaders of “deeply divided” citizens. I don’t think so. I regularly speak to ordinary citizens of every variety, including friends of 45 years. I’m convinced (like Obama), there is more that binds us than divides us. Consider the reactions to George Floyd, the Buffalo supermarket massacre, Tyre Nichols, and Damar Hamlin.

It’s the professional politicians who stink, along with their sycophants. (I got that from one of my die-hard Trumper friends of 45 years.) On one of my no income platforms, someone noted former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, an academic I enjoy while on Kool-Aid, suggested a memo to media outlets.

Paraphrasing, he ordered that they stop referring to “labor shortage,” and try “living wage shortage” instead, along with “hazard pay,” childcare,” “paid leave,” and healthcare” shortages. Of my readers, 97% cheered as if they won the Super Bowl. I asked, “Is it because it’s (a) not true; (b) needs more detail description; (c) scares / discourages people leading to anxiety; (d) the media has too much power / influence; (e) we ordinary citizens can't handle the truth, or (f) a combination?

They pretty much obliquely suggested that the message to “the American people” needs to be crafted, framed, and spun, in pursuit of their goals. They engage in the same tactic about which they complain of the other faction. Heretofore, I appreciated why professional hubris and greed merchants felt citizens lack sophistication / ability and right to make their own informed decisions. But the fact that those of us not seeking elected office felt the same way caught me off guard.

Admittedly, Overbooker, once again, I digress. Focusing now, the most disgusting phrase which the most disgusting people in our country utter is “the American People.” We are not some monolithic body. Perhaps the local “Founding Fathers” were prescient opting out from direct democracy?

For those of you on the young side, click here to watch an entertaining video explaining the title of this piece. For older folks who still read, click here for lyrics, which you may have been previously reticent to sing or whistle out loud in our politically correct world.

I’ll just keep choosing my news outlets based on who captures my visceral attention, as I scan channels, with the sound off. I know the names of all 173 of them that really matter.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Post No. 209: Sneaking Peeps Down Rabbit Holes During Negro History Month

© 2023, The Institute for Applied Common Sense


Many of us find ourselves complaining about the role of new media and social networking platforms in our lives, particularly that of kids.  Seattle recently sued Big Tech companies for a purported detrimental influence on the mental health of kids, which implicitly acknowledges the futility of parental involvement / responsibility.

While I appreciate the value of formal education in my life, it was not nearly as eye opening as two recent periods on internet platforms: (a) blogging since 2008 on Google’s Blogger platform; and (b) engaging folks on the Facebook group page I started, “Black Baby Boomers Who Seek a Better Future for All.” The page was prompted by my desire to better understand Donald Trump and the huge segment of the population, including Christian Evangelicals, who considered him akin to the Second Coming.

Consideration of and being open to widely varying, different views and positions, followed by revisiting our own, can't be anything but a good thing in my silly but pragmatic world. And here it was I thought that dementia was going to spoil the fun. One of our group page members has often forced me to use the phrase, "While I agree, I have a slightly different take...."

People on the platforms (and even friends throughout life), have always complained about the absence of hard and fast positions on my part regarding much in life.  I quickly disabuse them of that notion by informing them that I know the position that I would take should both Jessica Alba and Halle Berry pay me a visit, alone, and naked, should they be so inclined.

I was just saying yesterday that many of us in the late 1960s - early 1970s espoused anti-establishment views.  We campaigned against tradition and the old rules and values. Now, many of us appreciate how important they were in our lives and wish that we could bring them back, many of which cannot be rescued.  

The real institutions of value, I suspect, have changed with the times in some respects, but have continued to embrace the same fundamental rules and principles which existed long ago.  Consider, for example, the Seven Deadly Sins.

During my teenage years, I was the least experienced, least sophisticated, clueless creature on the planet, still trying to make sense of things.  It was a constantly changing landscape during those days, as it arguably should be with young adults.

In my dedicated effort to derive some modicum of benefit from my experience over the past 71 years, plus have forward thinking dominate my remaining years, history suggests that black folks have no choice but to at least intellectually segregate ourselves, take care of our own, build our own businesses and thus create our own jobs, with the ultimate goal of improving our communities as components of a civilized and evolved society.

I argue on a daily basis that while I consider it important to "appreciate” history, there is a danger associated with being consumed by the past, its wrongs, and wishful thinking. Interestingly, most protest and ask why I wish to deny our history; in response to which I ask, "Has humankind solved the racism issue?"

Black Baby Boomers are the last significant group with segregation, in all of its various forms, appearing prominently on our resumes. That's why duty requires us to seek a better future for all.  We, as societal members, ought to get the best out of that “learning opportunity,” as mucked up as it may have been.

In my view, every country and society, throughout history, has been built on gaslighting segments of the populace, beating them into submission, or instilling fear to suppress their interests. One of my partners used to refer to management as "herding cats," and the governance of citizens is most certainly not any easier.

Our challenge here in America is one of expectations in that our documents set a high standard. Reading the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address might make one stare up in the sky as if they were handed down by Providence.  I often use the term "aspirational" to describe them.

The stark, pragmatic reality is that humans will never live up to the ideals outlined. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't keep trying, and yet we should always keep in mind the inherent limitations of humankind. My favorite Clint Eastwood /"Dirty Harry" line is, "A man has got to know his limitations...."

So, the most significant difference between being 17 and 71 is simply more experience under our belts and thus the ability to reduce the number of stupid things we do.  But we still have to at least keep trying to engage others and keep taking peeps down potential rabbit holes. 

Simply put, rigidity is counterproductive.

P.S.  As I put the finishing touches on this piece, PBS was featuring a revival of the Youngbloods singing “Get Together.”

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Post No. 208: Desperately Seeking Solutions; When There Are None - At Least Not Long Term


© 2023, The Institute for Applied Common Sense


I may be the most conflicted black man in America – situated somewhere between the towns of Hope and Pragmatism, USA. 

Reeling from having viewed the savage beating of Tyre Nichols, yesterday I called one of my former partners whose father was a civil rights icon.

I told him I was visiting a local shop, where 1 of 5 black people I encounter per week in my latest Southern California home, generates his version of southern fried chicken. Neither sushi nor saag paneer would do. I needed to perform an immersion back into time.

I considered having Jessica Alba and Halle Berry work with me to produce some entertaining, dancing video for this post, but they were not immediately available for the price I was willing to pay.  However, I do have a musical selection, if you can make it to the end.

I often tell the story of how my parents and I were traveling in the Deep South in the mid-1950s, and stopped for gas. Being a thirsty 6 yrs. old, I saw 2 water fountains, one clean and sparkling white, the other dirty and grimy where I suspected mechanics washed their hands. 

I gravitated to the clean one, but before I could take a drink, I felt my Father’s hand snatch me by the rear collar, while shaking.  He turned me around while trembling, and whispered, “Don’t you ever do that again!” 

Suffice it to say, I’ve long known my place in America, along with the real deal.  While I didn’t envision that black mechanics working at the station might come out to whip my ass (and that of my Father), perhaps I should have.

About 3 years ago, as the 2020 presidential election approached, I started a Facebook group page, Black Baby Boomers Who Remember, which was later changed to Black Baby Boomers Who Seek a Better Future for All

All I wanted to do was share accounts of segregation with young people, and encourage them to vote, thus emulating the efforts of the old NAACP, which my Father held so dear.  I called myself following in his footsteps.

What I found most fascinating was that Black Baby Boomers spoke of the “good old days” and how solid our little villages were, despite being sprinkled all throughout the Deep Segregated South. I realized that many of us were “conflicted.”  

I had three, deeply held, but controversial positions.  One, that racism will never be eliminated, being DNA / gene driven for survival evolutionary purposes. Two, that we need to talk less about the past (while recognizing the importance of history and repeated patterns), and come up with some new, creative approaches for tweaking our system since humans do not change in the long term. Three, having had a little legal experience, I argued that those in power have the ability to give, and the equal ability to take away.  I developed a mantra – watch the debate on abortion, and you will see what is about to take place in the civil rights arena.

I found myself surprisingly emotional over the past couple of days.  Not about anything specific; just things in general on the planet.  But I’ve thought about three things the most: (1) how sad I am that my Mother only lived to 52 and did not see America at its optimal best; (2) how happy I was that my Father lived two weeks shy of 97, and saw America get better during his lifetime; and, (3) how happy I am that my Father, a WWII vet, died before he saw this world seemingly descend into chaos, again.  While it might not have surprised him that 5 black police officers beat the crap out a 148 pound black man, it might have destroyed his optimism, and the optimism he shared with me.

Thus, the conflict in me runs deep, and arguably should in us all. Ain’t nothin' new, as Marvin noted in 1971 in What’s Going On

Lest there be some confusion on the part of the "twisters" out there, I love this country with all of my heart, soul, and every fabric of my being.  Our aspirational documents are works of art and science.  They don't get any better and are considered marvels by every freedom-loving creature. It is we humans who screw up the system in the application of whatever we come up with.  Just look back 5,000 years.

The best that we can do in the short term (our lifetimes) is to engage one another, despite our fears and apprehensions, and recognize that for complex issues, there are no real solutions, and definitely not simplistic ones.  There are only trade-offs.

With that mindset, we just might maintain some modicum of optimism and generate some longer lasting, more effective band-aids, before we go out. 



"There Are More Than 2 Or 3 Ways To View Any Issue; There Are At Least 27"™

"Experience Isn't Expensive; It's Priceless"™

"Common Sense Should be a Way of Life"™