Art Brings Us Close to the Eternal

Just when humanity brings you down once again and you are at the edge of a cliff staring at the abyss; The storm has overtaken you and there seems to be no way out; Your most beloved has departed suddenly and for no rational reason; A work of art may pierce your soul. Art redeems the purpose of your existence. Art resuscitates you. The breath of inspiration fills you once again.

Art is what differentiates us from the animals. Its’ very existence is unique to the human experience. Art makes us laugh and dream. Art has the power to make us cry and then inspire us to create. It can transport us and give us hope. When the world has gone mad we can find solace in it. We can escape into a painting perhaps. Lose our breath at the sight of a sculpture. Close our eyes and hear the sounds of heaven with songs that seem to come from the angels themselves. We might very well read ourselves into a fantastic saga of trial and redemption.

Art lifts our spirits bringing us close to the eternal. It is no small wonder that many of the worlds religions have directly inspired our most wondrous and precious art. In these days of great confusion and delusion let us remember the artists. Let each one honor the artist in themselves to lift us out of our darkness or if more tribulations are necessary to turn them into an appreciation of our shared humanity and wondrous diversity.

“The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages”— Banksy

“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”— Banksy

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Self Imposed Chronophobia; Daylight Hoarding Time

We like to do everything big in these great United States. We like Big TVs, Big sodas filled with 64 ounces of soda, Big Movies with lots of explosions, Big Hot Dogs with Twelve inches of Paradise* and Big surprises like the Foxholes on Fox News interviewing Thomas Jefferson back from the grave. So isn’t it a bit strange that twice a year we settle for changing the clocks by a mere one hours time? This only raises the heart attack rate by a measly 4.9% couldn’t we do better than that? Everybody enjoys feeling groggy and out of sorts don’t they? Think of all the productivity we waste with this salacious somnambulism! Glorious indeed to waste time dreaming by the coffee machine!

We need an online petition here and a national movement for Daylight Hoarding Time! Let’s change the clocks by two hours twice per year and not settle for less. Bigger is better so the more time we challenge ourselves with the more heroic we will feel. Even people living in the extreme northern and southern longitudes of our great country will feel the dramatic changes in daylight and darkness twice per year. Rouse yourself out of bed like a crab fisherman! Grab your pants and shave like a fireman! Stop this half assed routine now and declare yourself a Daylight Hoarder supporter!

After you read this column you need to go to your household clocks and change them all ahead one more hour. If you have a DVR from your local cable company with a clock on it switch immediately to Direct TV because they have no clock on their units. If you have a pet rooster go and wake them with a boat horn! Pretend everyone else is wrong and in the wrong time zone as you boldly live your life as a Time Hoarder. Stand up for your rights and declare yourselves free Americans! Maybe we can bring the heart attack rate up to 10%! We do it big here! Why settle for less? Turn your clock ahead an extra hour and damn the constraints on your own personal reality!

* Please see The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

“The Pope smokes dope, he likes to smoke his grass, the Pope smokes dope, he likes to smoke at Mass!” — Anonymous

“Fear prophets and those prepared to die for the truth; for as a rule they make others die with them, often before them and sometimes instead of them.” — Umberto Eco

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Art Brings Us Close to the Eternal

Just when humanity brings you down again and you are at the edge of a cliff staring at an abyss. The storm has overtaken you and there seems to be no way out. Your most beloved has departed suddenly and for no rational reason. A work of art may pierce your soul. Art redeems the purpose of your existence. Art resucitates you. The breath of inspiration fills you once again.

Art is what differentiates us from the animals. Its’ very existence is unique to the human experience. Art makes us laugh and dream. Art has the power to make us cry and then inspire us to create. It can transport us and give us hope. When the world has gone mad we can find solace in it. We can escape into a painting perhaps. Lose our breath at the sight of a sculpture. Close our eyes and hear the sounds of heaven with songs that seem to come from the angels themselves. We might very well read ourselves into a fantastic saga of trial and redemption.

Art lifts our spirits bringing us close to the eternal. It is no small wonder that many of the worlds religions have directly inspired our most wondrous and precious art. In these days of terrrible tragedy and devastation let us remember the artists. Let each one honor the artist in themselves to lift us out of our dilemna or if more grieving is necessary to turn it into a remembrance of our shared humanity.

“The highest art is always the most religious, and the greatest artist is always a devout person.” — Abraham Lincoln

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” — Freidrich Nietzsche

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Elitism; the Snobbery of Riches; the Delusions of Faith

Don’t you just love those people who truly believe that they are better than every body else? Those chosen few who mark themselves above the masses. They look down on the poor folk who need help. Those pitiful masses tired and poor, yearning to breath free will find no quarter amongst the elite snobs. All they crave is a  hand out any way. Why should a country that is a haven for the rich provide for such miscreants? How can we care about such fools that won’t even take responsibility for their very own lives? Why none of them have even heard of our illustrious God who has so thoroughly blessed us.

What a country we have created. We have a daring and old book that proclaims that those we disagree with we should smite. Rule upon tenet is laid out and every sin imaginable is covered if you have the gift of discernment. Gather around and your sins will be forgiven. There is enough delusion here that we can rule the world and smash in the heads of any society that would disdain and doubt our ancient and bloodthirsty God. Let us scream his name every Sunday and rally our delusional masses to do our murderous bidding. Never mind! We are better than they! Our God tells us so! No need for the Necromancer! We have a rich prophet. He is rich and he is on television and he claims he cares for us and he claims he speaks the truth so isn’t that enough?

Oh no, wait a minute! You mean that rich bastard is a liar? He doesn’t really care for us at all? He has faith in a God, our God he claims as his own? Strange, cruel and ancient religion —show us that it isn’t so. It cannot be. Our God never lies and He is so damn pure! What’s that you say? He was married? That’s a lie! Our God was never married. He was too busy smiting our enemies. Now we’re confused. Better turn on Fox News. They’ll set us straight. They never lie to us. Look who owns them, Rupert Murdoch! Why as pure a man never walked the earth! Damn this reality, change the channel. Put on: Who Wants to be a Millionaire and restore our faith in the American Dream. There there now that’s better.

“Sandwiches were invented by the Earl of Sandwich, popcorn was invented by the Earl of Popcorn, and salad dressing by the Oil of Vinegar.” — Tom Robbins from Still Life With Woodpecker

“So nowadays hard-minded men with hard muscles and hard hats are relieved from their jobs on Sundays because of an archetypal psychological response to menstruation.” — Tom Robbins from Still Life With Woodpecker

New Colossus by Emma Lazarus from the Statue of Liberty:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Bullies Should Not Be Rewarded

If you have never had the experience of being chased or taunted by a bully consider yourself fortunate. The terror of walking down the hall in high school and being grabbed from behind and thrown into the boys room for a game of mum’s the word is something you will never forget. Maybe you spoke funny, perhaps your hair was long compared to the norm or your shoes were out of date, your glasses were as thick as coke bottles, who knows? Who knows what made the bully and his gang so hostile and what gave them such a superior air? Could it be the fact that they came from the wealthy side of town and you were from the other side? No matter because suddenly there you were, alone, surrounded by troglodytes led by a fiend landing numerous punches all over you and if you made so much as a peep they punched you even harder. Thus the name of the game: Mum is the word. No you will never forget such an experience.

Imagine now this same bully running a management company. Perhaps his management consulting company does very well and makes tons of money. He leads ruthlessly with his clever band of financial pirates and vacuums up smaller companies. He promises their upper management golden parachutes while he runs the regular employees into the ground. He creates impossible debt for these companies while promising them the world. Oh well, didn’t work? Credit run out? No problem just burn it to the ground. Best of all is everything is legal. Heck he can even hide his profits through tax loopholes and numerous incentives to keep his money offshore. Create wealth? No this bully just takes it.

Several more years down the road and this certain bully is now running for the most powerful job in the world. He is using the same tactics that he has used all his life. Remember now this is the guy who used to lie to the principals face without batting an eye. The guy who could cheat, lie and beat up innocent people without suffering any consequences. His idea of diplomacy is the mobs’ idea of negotiating. Punch first and ask questions later. There is no way the United States needs a guy like this sitting in the White House! Surely he would run this country into the ground and take the environment with him. He would also take care of all his wealthy friends by continuing to give them tax cuts while the middle class and poor bleed to death. Any credibility the United States has with the rest of the world would be destroyed by his simplistic and bullying tactics. Fellow Americans: Bullies Should Not Be Rewarded!

“The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool” — Stephen King

“The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there… and still on your feet.” — Stephen King

Get off your cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Soft Drink Danger and Other Reasons to Leave Home and Vote

This past week saw a wild rumpus ensue when the sometimes controversial Mayor of NYC, Michael Bloomberg decided to ban the sale of sodas over 16 ounces that contain 50 or more calories. Considering all the very real dangers that face us every day it is interesting to zero in on something as relatively harmless as what some consider to be a rather delightful beverage. While it is a fact that government needs to establish certain regulations to protect the populace isn’t this notion of controlling what we choose to drink going a bit far? Next will we be required to consume vegetable juice every day to ensure we get the proper dose of fiber and nutrients? Why not? If the government can forbid us drinking sweetened soda why shouldn’t it require us to drink vegetable juice?

Here’s an idea for all health conscious mayors across the country. Put a ban in place on the use of elevators in all buildings except in emergencies. This would require everyone to use the stairs. What better way to get a work out particularly if one works on the 50th floor? Maybe all the public water fountains should be boosted with vitamin c. That way we could prevent the rampant scurvy that is occurring in our cities. Have the TSA enforce a rule that anyone who wanted to ride the subway for twenty blocks or less would be turned down and forced to walk instead. Never mind inclimate weather! The harsh conditions might burn even more calories. For that matter steakhouses should be forced to serve beef in 6 ounce portions or less. Otherwise a heavy fine should be levied against them to fund cardiologists nationwide!

Dear reader it is easy to see how easy it is for government to overstep its’ bounds and dictate our lives. The Declaration of Independence states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Has the mayor of NYC read these very words? How can it be dictated to us what our personal definition of happiness is? Perhaps ones happiness is guzzling a big gulp on a hot day and belching at a passing police officer. It is a sad day when our country begins to dictate our habits. The term for that is dictatorship as opposed to democracy. Government need not enforce common sense. Let us concentrate our efforts on more vital matters. Perhaps the proliferation of firearms and the clear and present danger the possession and use of such weapons causes. After all, people don’t consume a soda and drop dead like they do when they’re consumed by a bullet.

 “Speaking for the great white father in Washington and all the American people, let me say we respect you savages for your native ability to instantly adapt and survive in whatever Godforsaken wilderness we move you to. Out there. Sign here.” — Firesign Theater from: Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Facebook Fiasco; Wall Street Strikes Again!

Once again Wall Street has proven it is quite alright to rip off the common investor. The old “hot dog on a string” routine has succeeded in ripping off thousands of small time investors while the big underwriters of the IPO for Facebook have walked off scot-free, for now! Morgan Stanley brilliantly decided to set the price for Facebook’s initial public offering at a lofty $38.00 per share. Now this decision is under question as Facebook shares closed at $32.00 per share on closing Wednesday. Well it seems like business as usual except for the fact that this was such a highly publicized IPO there may be a slight chance that an investigation may yield some form of stilted justice. What a field day for lawyers and regulators alike!

We anxiously await the legal morass and numerous loopholes that will most likely avail the public of little or no justice as usual. The lawyers are certain to make piles of money! Brace yourself for the ridiculous arguments that will proceed from such a clear cut case of the great American rip off. Imagine that! Bankers who are underwriters ripping off the public! As Yogi Berra would say: “It’s deja vu all over again!” How long can this obvious failure of our system of regulation continue? Will the Security and Exchange Commission show their compliance?  What will the fines, if any, be? A few million? What the heck another slap on the wrist to an industry that is rife with corruption. We like to think that China is corrupt and we are clean but please reserve that judgement. Let us see how this plays out. Nice to see it on such a grand scale! Bravo Facebook! Touche!

Thank goodness for the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is high time the American Public payed much closer attention to what goes on in the great world of finance. What will it take for true justice for the American Public? Will we ever really know how much insider trading and tip offs actually go on every single day? Alas, time will tell. Thankfully this has happened on such a grand scale maybe, just maybe the American Public will pay attention, particularly after our collective appetite has been whetted by the mortgage derivative disaster that threatened the banking system of the entire world. Beware of any politician who calls for less regulation! Their Superpacs are most likely being funded by faceless suspect entities with a vested interest in the great American rip off. The time has come for more people like Elizabeth Warren to enter politics. It’s time for honesty and integrity to become the new morality. This nation needs a healing.

“Be a terror to the butchers, that they may be fair in their weight; and keep hucksters and fraudulent dealers in awe, for the same reason.” — Cervantes

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween