Art’s Visual Media(/Life) Reviews: My Life With Jazz

Art’s Visual Media Life Reviews

Jazz has been one of the great loves of my life. I know, I get it. Jazz is not popular music. Jazz appeals to musicians and people with unusual tastes. It can’t be forced on anyone. It’s pointless (as I learned painfully) to throw it into the mix at a party. It’s a good way to get thrown out of a party.

It’s possible that you know nothing about Jazz. You might have seen films like “Bird” or “Round Midnight”. In spite of its relative obscurity, Jazz has nonetheless crept into our Pop Culture like the ink from a cephalopod. That is…an octopus or a squid.

Jazz has been for me a lifelong experience. I first heard Louis Armstrong when I was twelve. I was in the sixth grade! I had joined the Capitol Records Club, and ticked Jazz as my favorite category. I don’t know why. I had been listening to classical music, especially that of Richard Wagner, and I was getting a bit bored. Thank you, Capitol Records Club, for sending me this LP in the mail. I eagerly withdrew the vinyl record from its sleeve and put it on my blue and white Zenith Portable Stereo Record Player. This rig was built like a suitcase. There were snap-locks on each side and those opened up to become speakers that deployed to the left and the right. For a kid in the early sixties it wasn’t a bad place to start with regard to sound systems. The MacIntosh and Dynaco amps and pre-amps were cool as hell, but I could wait. In a couple of years I would be all over amps and pre-amps until my basement began to look like a used electronics warehouse.

I put on the Louis Armstrong record and held my breath. The music began with a blare of brass. At first it sounded like some kind of Asiatic music, it was  alien and incomprehensible. I heard charging rhythm and thickets of notes. My confusion lasted about half a minute. Then, as if someone had rotated my brain, I started to hear that shining trumpet of Satchmo and it started making sense. I’d been playing trumpet in the school band since I was in the fifth grade. Okay, that’s only a year. I hated practicing and did as little work as possible. I was a Natural and I could coast on my good ear. I could play a little bit.

The Atomic Mr. Basie

The next album I acquired was recorded by Count Basie And His Orchestra.  The album cover was a photo of a mushroom cloud, all scarlet shades and orange flame. It was called, of course, Count Basie Explodes! I put that on the record player. I oh so carefully lowered the tone arm with its precious cartridge transducer until the needle hit and the speakers went “hissssssss” for a second or two before the wildest most confusing outburst of twenty two instruments raged forth and I thought, “Aww shit.  Asiatic music only bigger.” Again, it took a little while for the music to come around and reach my precocious ears. 

The mail man drives down the street in his little cart. He’s bringing another record from Capitol Records Club. Miles Davis’ “Birth Of The Cool”. This is one of the most important jazz records ever recorded. Miles had organized a curious group, an eight piece band otherwise known as an octet.

I didn’t have many friends in the fifth and sixth grades. I had Jay, who was a fellow musician and jazz fan. His mother was a jazz fan.  This was in suburban St. Louis in 1962. It was rare but it happened.

My mom, on the other hand, wasn’t gonna support this shit at all! If I had to play the goddam trumpet, she often screamed; at least I would play respectable music like Mantovani or Andy Williams.

No mom. No. Not happening. I’m going my merry way and you can screw yourself.

My bedroom was at the far end of the house. I had some distance. Some. I could play what I wanted while my mom popped Seconal and slept away her life.

By this time I’m fourteen and I’ve moved into Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderly and…ultimately…John Coltrane. If there is a magnificent Ganesh-Guru Hindu Monster Elephant Deity of Jazz Music it is John Coltrane. He was doing the impossible. His ideas were so deep and complex that they became equal to the founding of a neo-Buddhist philosophy. A School. A dynastic lineage of Consciousness. 

Coltrane became my teacher. He became thousands of musicians’ teacher and remains so to this day. Get on Youtube and join the session. It’s alive and well. The young musicians, the ones who are serious, want to study and learn. And music’s everywhere. It’s in the air. Then it’s gone. That’s what Eric Dolphy, one of the unsung monsters of Jazz, said at the end of one of his precious recordings. Both Trane and Dolphy passed in the sixties. They were young. We don’t really know what happened. How did these magnificent musicians leave the scene so suddenly? It was shocking and it knocked me off my feet. I had yet to understand how dangerous was the jazz life, how stressful it was to make a living play Jazz.

Fortunately, we were left with other dynamic musicians. We had Charles Mingus and his epochal release of the album “The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady.” This is some of the most sensual music ever recorded. It outrages church goers, it shocks listeners who aren’t prepared for music so graphic as to be well….erotic.

I developed new Jazz heroes. Ornette Coleman was sawing his way through musical tradition and his ideas caused fights on the Lower East Side.  Imagine that: ideological fistfights over varying philosophies of Jazz. Strange but true. Jackie McLean kept the tonal orthodoxy but added intensity and adventure. I was pushing sixteen at this time and my world was filled with all this musical color, all these vibrant creative characters who courted addiction and death to get through the pressures of the jazz life. 

By the age of sixteen I had acquired a set of drums and my instrumental voyages took on the nature of a student: a dedicated student of a peculiar art form. That was my jazz. That was my passion and I was about to leave home in the summer of ’65. I was determined to meet the by-now world famous Ornette Coleman. And so I did…but that’s another story. It’s in another book. 

Confessions of an Honest Man, by Art Rosch

You can find a fictionalized story which mirrors many of Art’s young life in Confessions of an Honest Man: https://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Honest-Man-Arthur-Rosch-ebook/dp/B01C3J0NK2/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Confessions+of+an+Honest+Man&qid=1601086887&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

Want to be sure not to miss any of “Art’s Visual Media Reviews” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.hn


Obsession: Craving Flashlights

Flashlights.  Who would think of flashlights as the subject of a passionate obsession?

I had no idea what was coming as I scanned the pages of Amazon for ordinary household flashlights.  Things have changed and I was about to discover another dimension, a new subculture of obsession. Flashlights!

It began when I bought a slender black flashlight from the local hardware store. It cost thirty bucks; a bit pricey but it was rechargeable via a USB cable, and it looked really cool.  The battery was included. The word “TACTICAL” was splashed all over its package, like this was some kind of ninja self-defense weapon. Indeed, it was solid black.    I liked its weight and heft, its balance and setup. As evening fell I took the gizmo into my office, turned off the lights and pressed the switch.

Holy Shit!  A circle of brilliant radiance spilled across the room like the light from a movie projector.  I was not expecting this. The flashlight had features like “zoom” and “strobe”, and, for all I knew, “kill” or “maim”.

I had, in effect, a Magic Wand. This was my introduction to the world of modern flashlights and those who love them.  The tech has changed.  Teeny LED bulbs can now emit awesome degrees of light, powered by modest Double A batteries.  Some devices have multiple LEDs in specially designed arrays. A handheld flashlight can light up a stadium.  This is power, which is hypnotically attractive. I needed another flashlight.  Maybe two, maybe three flashlights.  I went into the almighty catalogue, AMAZON, to peruse the flashlight market.

Now we get to the reviews. There are astonishing numbers of reviews for every goddam product on Amazon, from diapers to defibrillators.  It is possible to get a consensus about anything at all.  Want to buy a dildo?  Look up the many devices and their reviews.  Did this particular dildo do the job? Was it flexible enough or too unyielding?  Here is a real product with nearly 700 reviews.  It’s called “Rechargable Personal Wand Massager with 20 Vibration settings, variable thrust, flexion, USB port, realistic texture, suction cup, money back guarantee.” The pictures leave no doubt.  Personal wand massager my ass!

Why are these dildos so huge?  Where are the normal sized penis replicants that won’t cripple you?  I don’t know.  What does this priapic gigantism say about our culture? Never mind.  Let’s return to flashlights.

The reviews sometimes run to pages.  Everyone wants a voice, wants to be heard.  Maybe these reviews give people their voice.

Some of these new death-dealing tactical flashlights run to six hundred bucks.  What do you get for six hundred dollars that’s different from the thirty dollars I paid for my Litezall  field flashlight? Let me read the reviews.  Yes, the light is extremely bright.  Among its features there is an emphasis on self defense.  “Blind an attacker with the sudden flash of the Thrunite AB9000.”  Or, “The Fenix L20,000 will stun an assailant better than pepper spray.” Yes, they are brighter than shit.  You can’t use them at home if you have children.  Take one to an empty stadium. Another benefit of the six hundred dollar flashlight is its amazing battery life.  You could turn it on and leave it on for a week.  I don’t know when such a demand will arise: maybe some disaster will call out this flashlight’s virtues. Who needs a week of 9000 Lumens?

I have so much fun looking at flashlights online! I love it.  Just writing this article threw me back into my obsessive mode, as I compare the specs of hundreds of black anodized titanium flashlights.  I have six of these hand held monsters but my favorite is still the first one, the Litezall USB S2000. I’m also fond of my Gearlight ArcFlash, with its zoomable front lens, with its maximum light circle diameter of thirty feet.  Awesome!

These flashlights are made in China.  They’re well made, beautifully crafted. They’re impressive yet they’re affordable.  Thirty bucks for a light that can stop an advancing hippo?  Do it.

(For help withdrawing from flashlight addiction, contact “Nameless Flashlight Addicts, at the following website: http://www.myeyesmyeyes.com)


Ant Man And The Wasp: A Critique Of Marvel Movies

When I watch a movie from the Marvel Comics empire I have to remind myself NOT to view this material with an adult mind. It’s better to watch with minds like those of my grandchildren, aged ten and thirteen.

            Last night we watched “Ant Man And The Wasp”. My grandkids loved it.  I endured it. Marvel movies are bloated with filler, that is, every “BOP! POW! And WHAM!” takes up screen time and makes for a longer film. Each mighty punch sends characters toppling end over end until they land with such force that their booties excavate the pavement or shatter all the windows in an office building. Such destruction! Miraculously, no one is crushed by the falling buses or lethal shards of sky scraper glass. unless that injury is an important plot device. Otherwise, the hordes of innocent bystanders are blessed with hair’s-width escapes from catastrophe.

            It seems to me that good writers are those who go the extra mile.  Lazy writers are those who go right up to the mile before the EXTRA MILE, then dust their hands together and stop.  That’s what’s frustrating about Marvel movies. The producers know that they can inject a liberal amount of fake fighting and harmless destruction into the script.  How much?  Fifteen minutes? Twenty?  Maybe half an hour of combat-without-consequences?.  IF (and we are) raising children with this stuff establishes a dangerous idea, that is, “THERE ARE NO REAL CONSEQUENCES”. There are just provisional outcomes that can always be changed by using a time machine or some deus ex machina, some easy way out.  Kids absorb this data hungrily and without critical thinking.  They love the bop!bam! stuff and don’t seem to be frustrated by the relative emptiness of the script.

            “Ant Man And The Wasp” deals with some heayy concepts, like the world of Quantum Mechanics, the realm of the minute sub-quark particles. The visuals are pretty amazing in their depictions of these mysterious areas.  “Someone” I thought (but did not speak aloud) has been smoking some DMT or ingesting psilocybin.”.  I took a few moments to explain Quantum Mechanics to my grandkids.  They’re super-bright little people who are inherently more evolved than I am. But  they’re still kids.  I have to tell myself to chill; watch the Marvel Universe with a clear mind and just have fun. The kids understood my explanation of quantum reality as “part of a continuum, from the mighty sizes of galaxies to the infinitesimal sizes of sub atomic particles. BUT..if you live in any of these places then it all looks normal-sized to you and your friends”.  Right?  Right.

            A few minutes ago my grand-daughter came into my office and asked “Whatcha doing, Poppa Art?” I said that I was writing a review of the movie we saw last night.  I explained my point of view and she seemed to grasp that a world in which no one REALLY dies is a bit fatuous.  I explained that Marvel’s tactics remove the real terror from their productions.  We all know that none of the heroes will die.  That there’s always some last-minute rescue, or the sequel will resuscitate the seemingly annihilated people.

            Haven’t our movies and TV shows always been like this? The soft-peddle American media archives are full of plots with happy endings. The hero always triumphs; the frustrated couple always get their passionate kiss.  Yeah, it’s always been like this but in 2020 we are seeing the maturation of world-shaking technology that is changing the tenor or our lives from the ground up..  There’s more technology, more ways to soften the blows of so-called REALITY.  As if to compensate, REALITY amps up the blows, grows more furious with each passing year.

            For my grandkids, I fear that reality has never been less real.

            The soundtrack of “Ant Man And The Wasp” brings a relentless rhythmic figure, a continuous percussive BAH BAH bu BUH BUMP BUMP that induces an excited state in the viewer. It is so pernicious that my sleep was disturbed last night until I got up at around three in the morning and quietly played some Joni Mitchell.  THAT was the last thing I heard before returning to bed and snoring away the next four hours. It’s important to understand this level of aural hygiene.  The last sounds you hear remain in your head until you hear something else.  If you want to sleep, you need to ditch the agitating sounds in favor of something soothing.  It works that way for me, anyway. 

            I explained the thrust of this essay to my granddaughter: that none of the heroes REALLY die and that makes the movies way less scary.  I think she grasped my point but I don’t really know. The universes in which we live are so different. We’re family, we’re close but I can’t escape the sense that people live light years apart despite being in the same room.

            I’m less worried about the future when I see how these kids cope.  Quantum Mechanics? They don’t care; its just something people say that means invisibly tiny stuff, like stuff that makes bacteria look HUGE by comparison! 

            They get it. They know that bacteria are too small to see, so why not even smaller stuff that makes invisible germs look huge?

            If we take care not to squash the imaginations of these grandchildren, they will be better prepared for the turbulent future that is roaring towards them with all of its dangers.


“Mind Fields”: The Air In The Sky

Mind Fields

 

The Air In The Sky

May 23, 2020

 

All night the distant roar of the highway

augments the silence

wrapped around the house.

There is no wind, the Mimosa hang still.

crossing speed bumps.

trucks chatter half mile away.

Sound of a jet fading above low clouds.

My belly is full.

My feet sink into the carpet.

I wear only a torn t-shirt.

My bare legs are slightly bowed

but shapely.

I am old

and strong. My pains avoid me.

We have a treaty signed

by the doctor.


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


The Later Seasons: “Thirteen Reasons Why” Takes A Dive

Part Two: The Later Seasons of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY

The story is told. Hannah is dead. The series is popular enough to warrant funding for more seasons. I’m reminded of the Road Runner cartoon, where Wily Coyote follows Road Runner off a cliff. Road Runner doesn’t fall. He just stands there and says “Beep Beep”. Wily zooms over the edge of the precipice, stops dead still…and doesn’t fall. He stands next to Road Runner. He’s about to grab Runner in his evil claws but then he looks down. Way way down there is the bottom of the gorge with a teeny strip of road. When Wily realizes that he is standing on empty space, only then does he fall! EEEEeeeeeoooop! Puff of distant dust down below.

The three following seasons of “13 Reasons Why” bring to mind the dilemma of Wily Coyote. The first season received critical and audience acclaim. The series was banned by numerous school districts and libraries, the putative reason being “that it glorifies suicide”. This smacks of the disingenuous (I think it’s really about the sex, lots of it) but it put a rocket under the series’ ratings and created a demand for further content. Imagine telling an adolescent that a “hot” series is banned and forbidden. That’s like leaving a mouse trap sprung with the bait still in it. What an insult to the inventive intelligence of today’s teenagers. The writers and producers of this series got the funds to make yet another season. And another. And, yes! Another! Three more seasons! They’ve run off the cliff and don’t know yet that there is no ground under their feet. Netflix is usually so canny with regard to marketing and deploying content. That doesn’t mean they don’t stumble occasionally. Everything that follows season One is a reason to allow the characters to utter the same dialogue, hundreds of times. 

“Are you okay?” asks Clay’s mom.  “I’m fine,” says Clay, all surly and concealed. He is clearly not fine. His teenage brow is wrought, his eyes are tormented. “You can tell me anything, Clay” says mom. “Absolutely anything. We love you unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done”

Mom has no clue what Clay has done. No one knows what anyone’s done. Has Jessica fucked Bryce without Justin knowing? Has Justin robbed a bank in the next town and raped a prostitute? Has Clay masturbated in front of the school principal? No one knows but people will say anything about anyone to get revenge. Teens live in a hot mess of drama like an X-rated Shakespeare play fueled by hormones. They’re dripping with pheromones and committing real crimes. Anyway, it isn’t about what anyone’s done. It’s about what they’re capable of doing. Bryce has raped Hannah, Jessica, maybe Clay’s mom. Bryce is a real villain who provides a lot of emotional energy to the series. Bryce has raped just about everybody, including the dog. Justin’s a drug addict, but now he’s clean. Uh oh. He’s not clean. He just bought a bunch of dope from his mother’s boyfriend.

There’s a curious variation of competence and skill in the casting. The actor who plays Clay Jensen couldn’t act his way out of a police lineup. That’s an apt metaphor because Dylan Minette has trapped himself in a repertoire of basic emotional modes. He plays “sensitive teen stricken with guilt” until I want to strangle him. I wanted to like him. He’s so nobly protective of Hannah. His obsession and unrequited love are sloppy sausages filled with angst. In the end it just seems like he’s fishing for credibility. He’s the series’ star but he’s also the worst actor in the ensemble. Whose decision was that? Most of the others fare pretty well. The roles aren’t terribly demanding and that strikes to the core of the problem with this as drama.

This is really a soap opera. It’s about bad decisions and catastrophes. The drama is predictable and sour. The plots are so thin that if they turn sideways they become invisible. We can speak the coming lines before the characters get to utter them. After the first season, the stories are fatuous and boring. They are soaked with the psychological arrogance of the writers and producers. “We know what’s going on with high school kids.” They seem to say. “These kids are the same age as our kids. We’re good parents; we’re Woke. We understand their issues.”

Season One was a siren and a rotating red light on an ambulance roaring down the street. The episodes reek of parental terror. “Our kids are dying!” they scream. Seasons 2.through 4 are a paper whistle from a carnival. The terror is gone.

Fuff! Tweet!  The ragged ass follow-on seasons of Thirteen Reasons Why can’t stand up under their own weight. 

Watch the first season of this teen-angst drama and leave the rest alone unless you’re a glutton for punishment. (See my review of season 1 here.)


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


Want to be sure not to miss any of “Art’s Visual Media Reviews” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


“Mind Fields”: The Big Grief or Computer Wipeout

Mind Fields

Mind Fields

May 2020

“Enter Password”.  Okay.  I type in that which I remember as my password.

“Password Incorrect”.  That’s what it says. Small wonder.  I may have used a hundred different passwords this week, just to log into Google. I had a computer wipeout, a big one, and now my browsers have forgotten my cookies: they’ve forgotten my cakes, my donuts, and my fritters.  I have to re-up the whole password thing.

“FORGOTTEN PASSWORD?” Click here. OK.…it says it will send a link to my email account.

R..uh R..oh.  I need a password to get into my email account. I can’t recover my password until I recover the password to my email account.  Is that a Catch-22? Yep, A classic!

I try guessing some of my go-to passwords, things that contained my year of birth.  Sometimes I base a password on the Hebrew year.  What year is this for Jews? It’s the twenty second of the month of Iyar, in the year 5780.

Yep. I think my password is Jew!5780.  I’m a Jew. This is private humor, not chauvinism. Click. Wait a moment. Then: “Password Incorrect”. Passwords used to be simpler.  That was before paranoia became normalnoia online.

Without the right password, I can’t do shit. I can’t even get into my email to collect my reset password. I’m screwed.  The logical conclusion is that I need to invest in some password management software.

I buy Password Manager.

Enter Password, it says. I know, I’m supposed to invent one.  My “master password” it’s called. When I click “enter Master Password” I am asked to fill out three pages of “Profile Information”.  Remember when Profile was a bad word? Now you’ve got to have a profile.

I have a lot of folders on my outboard USB drives labeled “Bathwater”.  I can’t name password list files as “Password List Files”. I call them “Bathwater1” or “Samurai9”  “Let me see what I’ve got here.  I’ve learned the hard way to date my entries into this file.  I began this file eleven years ago and it’s gotten grotesque.  Shit. Two hundred pages of passwords.

I have backup drives.  I have USB devices containing mountains of data: tens of thousands of pictures, files of my writing work going back twenty years. I thought that getting a terabyte USB drive would give me space for a long time.  Hah! How naïve! I’m looking right now at three USB drives containing ten terabytes of space.  Yeah, available storage space, filling up fast.

If you’ve ever had a massive computer wipeout, I hope you’ve got a backup.  The struggle you’re about to endure will drive you nuts! It is almost better not to have a backup.  Almost.

My computer wouldn’t boot unless I did nutty things.  Go into BIOS, re-arrange boot drives, that kind of stuff. This is a sure indication that my computer is a mess.  The C: drive needs to be restored.

The backup software I use is called Acronis True Image. But today Acronis doesn’t see my backups. It isn’t True and it has no Image. I have other backups.  I take no chances  Maybe Windows can see the Windows Image Backup (that is, the WIB) that I made a few months ago.  Oh, look!  Windows sees it, there it is.  The backup to the backup, thank god.

I’m a compulsive ‘backer-upper’.  I back up everything to USB drives, discs, the Clouds, I back it up! In theory, I should be able to do a System Restore or recovery without much effort.  I suspect that our entire universe is a backup!

I have six Acronis backups spread all across my drives.  I found the most recent backup, clicked “Yes” on Acronis and then waited an hour and a half.  I left my office for a while.  When I returned I saw this message, which I now paraphrase: “Acronis worked its ass off to restore your backup but it couldn’t find ‘such and such’ a file and is unable to complete the restoration.”

It took me six hours of trial and error to reach this point.  I wanted Acronis to work; mostly because it cost me seventy dollars when I bought it in 2011. Do I have an assumption? To whit: Windows products aren’t as good as outsourced software.  The Windows defraggers, searchers, keepers, sleepers and beepers aren’t as good as software that costs a hundred bucks.  Maybe I’m wrong; maybe Windows can get the job done.  My “WIB” was waving at me.  “Press OK and I’ll do it, FREE!” Windows 10 is waving at me and I’m too much of a snob to let it do its Thing.

I went to sleep without a functioning computer.  I am seriously co-dependent with this machine. My sleep was interrupted by binges on chocolate bars.  These candies shoved themselves into my mouth.  They muted my frustration.  In the morning I’ll punish their wrappers.

Here it is: another morning.  I’m going to try my WIB, my Windows Image Backup.  I think the folders are stored on USB drives “N”, “F” and “K”.  I’m going into my files to do a search.  “WIB BACKUP”.  I enter the terms. Hoping, hoping. Not expecting anything.  I’ve had so much failure this week that I’ve become apathetic.  Jaded. But…..

Omigod. The search program sees my wib.  My WIB!  All right. Let’s see if this will do the job that Acronis failed to do.  Let’s see.

“Do you want Windows Backup to restore your files?”

Hell yes!  I’m desperate.  I click “Restore Files” and watch as the dialogue window indicates that some mysterious work is being done.  My WIB has been seen and has been pressed into service.

Fifteen minutes later: “Oh my fucking god!” It’s done.  My computer has been restored with the humble Windows Image Back The Fuck Up from Windows Ten 64 bit Home Pro Edition and I am so thrilled and surprised.  Why should I be surprised? It was that assumption, to whit: Windows software is no good.  It’s got to be some hundred dollar hookah from which I puff.

Not so. Not so.  Windows Ten took good care of me. If there’s a Windows Eleven or a Windows Twelve, I’ll be there, first in line to buy the damned software.

There’s no escape.


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


13 Reasons Why: A View

Art's Visual Media Review

Suicides are complex events. They can be acts of rage, despair, even noble sacrifice. There’s no way to generalize suicide. I spent six years as a hotline volunteer, counseling those who were thinking of ending their lives. I was trained to never be judgmental. I was trained to listen. Sometimes that’s what it takes: someone who listens.

Thirty years ago I discovered my mother’s lifeless body lying sideways across her  bed. Her lips were blue, her face the color of a bruise. There were two empty bottles of Nembutal on her night table. She had taken her own life.

I reveal these personal experiences because I’ve just finished watching the Netflix release of “13 Reasons Why.” It’s a dramatic series about suicide, adolescent bullying and rape. I have a familiar relationship with suicide. Watching the series, based on the book by Jay Asher, shook some bones in my own closet of secrets. It made me realize that secrets can be dangerous.

The TV series is not only powerful, but it occupies a unique niche as entertainment. The episodes are never repellant, though they can be brutally heavy and painful. I was glued to the story as it dealt with traumatic issues without getting preachy or sentimental. I am aware that people are upset about the series. They fear ‘copycat’ suicides, they fear that opening the subject will encourage more adolescent suicides.

I worry that we’ll lose more of our children if we don’t engage in discussion about bullying, rape and suicide.

The book/TV series involves the suicide of  fifteen year old Hannah Baker. Before taking her life Hannah leaves a box of cassette tapes. This is her legacy, her suicide note. On these tapes she describes the people and  events that lead to her death. These tapes are narrated in Hannah’s voice as the series proceeds. They single out key people who betray, misunderstand or criminally abuse Hannah. By the end of the series we have heard and witnessed her story.

The teenagers in this series are portrayed as emotionally isolated. Each character inhabits a solipsistic landscape full of intense but unexpressed feelings. These kids can’t or won’t talk to their parents. Their parents may as well be from another universe. The kids can barely talk to each other. It seems as if American teens are the loneliest people in the world. The stress on them piles up. They’re supposed to be preparing for college, right? Then what? The job market? There are huge demands made on adolescents to prepare for the world’s chaos, for a job market that may change beyond recognition by the time they’re ready to look for work. Sprinkle in a ton of sexual angst. Are these kids depressed? Hell yes, they’re depressed! Where does an adolescent get help for such lethal depression?

The French have a pithy folk saying. “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. This is true at a basic level, but things HAVE changed and changed profoundly. When I compare my experience of high school with today’s high school, I have to wonder: what happened?

The Internet happened. Smartphones, laptops, and tablets happened. The effect of having these tools and toys is that gossip travels with the speed of light. It travels fast and it travels far. Gossip is a staple of interaction among high school age people. Girls gossip ferociously. Boys lie shamelessly. Digital media can transform an ordinary event into a ruinous assault on one’s reputation. An adolescent’s reputation is crucially important.  Reputations are built on perceived sexual behavior. Sex is now everywhere. Children have sex younger and they have it more promiscuously. They are oblivious to the emotional consequences of sex until they’re embroiled, confused, deeply hurt and maybe pregnant.

Adolescents face a different world today. In my time at high school the great threat was nuclear annihilation. Today such threats are multiplied. The teenage imagination must deal with a world where politics is so rotten it’s seen as a futile joke. An atmosphere of threat is pervasive. We face unpredictable, but real disaster from climate change, terrorism, tsunamis, volcanoes, earthquakes, plagues natural and plagues man-made.  The earth is moving under our feet. How does a young person come to grips with the future if the future is so uncertain? The pace of change is dizzying. The nature of the future is beyond imagination. How does anyone think rationally in such an irrational world?

THESE ARE IMPORTANT ISSUES! We need to talk to our kids. We need to be available to our kids and we need to train people to help our kids. We’re not doing any of these things. The funding for counseling in school is vanishing along with funding for band and arts programs. Parents are so busy coping with economic pressures that they have no time or energy for their children. This is tragic and points to a fundamental flaw in our culture. Time is money and money is time spent away from our kids. I don’t know what to do. Circle the wagons. Slow down. Pay attention. Now I’m guilty of being preachy and I apologize. Watching “13 Reasons Why” scared me.

I fear that in our short-attention span culture, these issues will reach a media peak, the fuss over “13 Reasons Why” will reach a crescendo and then disappear. We can’t afford to let that happen.


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


Want to be sure not to miss any of “Art’s Visual Media Reviews” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Better Call Saul: Part One Of A Review

Art's Visual Media Review2

BETTER CALL SAUL:

A Collision Of Two Worlds

When Breaking Bad appeared on television it became a peak moment in the history of the medium.

The world may be fucked up but television has never been better. If you use your remote with discernment, you will find incredible things to watch through your three hundred channel cable box. In its seventy year reign over the American psyche, there has never been more or better television. Nor has the human race been closer to mass tragedy. The importance of television expands as we get quarantined in our homes. TV’s always been important. Now it’s running a close second to Survival itself. I’m not sure we wouldn’t go insane as we wait for the stay-at-home orders to lift. We need TV. Desperately.

The Arts often flourish in times of decadence and turmoil. When a civilization becomes ill, a host of artists arise to attempt its healing. When Breaking Bad ascended to the pinnacle of great art, it created a new space for the production of yet more great TV.

I refer to the spin-off of Breaking Bad, the superb series, Better Call Saul.

We first met Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad. He turned up as the criminal defense attorney for Walter White and his confederates. His character was somewhat clownish. I made the unconscious surmise that series creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould did not take Saul Goodman seriously.

I was wrong. When Breaking Bad was seen and done I grieved because there was nothing as great to continue watching. Then Better Call Saul appeared and once again I was taken into the wry, dark, ironic world of Gilligan and Gould.

Better Call Saul has just completed its fifth season and may be ramping up for the sixth. Saul Goodman is the sly pseudonym taken by attorney Jimmy McGill. “It’s all good, man.” Jimmy himself explains the pun of his name. He’s a bit of a wild man, an outsider in his profession. Some would call him a shyster or ambulance chaser. He gives himself to the lost souls of the streets. He represents clients who are too dirty to be touched by more principled attorneys. For “principled” read snobbish. Saul doesn’t mind getting grubby.

The story arc of Better Call Saul is one that exposes the inner workings of two distinct worlds. One is the world of the drug cartel. The other is the world of middle class America. It is Saul Goodman who provides the bridge between these two worlds. In Breaking Bad it was Walter White who played the fulcrum character who bridged those worlds. Walter was a high school chemistry teacher who, when diagnosed with terminal cancer, turned to the manufacture of methamphetamine to provide for his family when he’s gone.

Saul is pressured into representing a Cartel lieutenant, a terrifying character named Lalo Salamanca. It is the Salamanca Cartel that is at war with other cartels for control of the drug trade in the Southwest. The series takes place in Albuquerque and the scenery is full of vast desert tracts. Out there, in the desert, dead bodies routinely disappear.

Albuquerque is a pleasant city, but its location makes it a prime route for drugs smuggled through Mexico. It’s home to the drug barons who maintain operations on both sides of the border. Jimmy McGill, aka Saul Goodman, is drawn inexorably into the cartel’s workings. In the first few seasons the conflict centers around Jimmy’s relationship with his brother, Charles “Chuck” McGill. Chuck is a famous and powerful corporate lawyer who is afflicted with a bizarre form of OCD. He’s allergic to electricity.

Jimmy takes care of Chuck when his allergies render him completely helpless. Jimmy wants to emulate his big brother. He’s put himself through law school and waits to pass the Bar Exam. Chuck does everything to sabotage Jimmy. From Chuck’s lofty position in the world of the courts there is no place for a clown like Jimmy McGill. Chuck’s brother is an embarrassment. Jimmy is hurt and bewildered by Chuck’s hatred and malice.

Lucky for Jimmy, he forms a relationship with attorney Kim Wexler. It’s Kim who keeps Jimmy grounded. Without her steadying influence he might spin off into some outer limits of legal brinksmanship. It is in fact Jimmy’s “edge” that attracts Kim. Behind her business suit and neatly wrapped pony tail is a wild child who savors the antidote to boredom that Jimmy provides.

Like Jimmy, the relationship itself often flirts with disaster. In spite of Jimmy’s ‘danse macabre’ the couple survives with their love intact. This love, this loyalty and unconditional regard, is the glue of the series. As long as Jimmy and Kim love each other, things will be all right.

Things will work out.

Tune in to Part Two of my review of Better Call Saul on the last Friday in May.


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


Want to be sure not to miss any of “Art’s Visual Media Reviews” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Nightmare With Tracfone

Art's Visual Media Review2

I am preparing a review of “Better Call Saul” but I’m not finished.  Instead I will relate an experience that I had with a cell phone provider, I.E. Tracfone.  Consider it a public service:

 

Nightmare With Tracfone

“God damn it!” I shouted into the cell phone. “I’m done with you, asshole, done done done! Go Fuck yourself, you motherfucker!” My wife stared at me in total shock. I hadn’t blown up like that in decades. If ever: in fact, I don’t remember the last time I lost my temper. Well, yes I do but that was fifty years ago and I was enraged with a particular girl. That’s a long time to go without blowing my cool. I did not, however, keep my head this week. Not after dealing with my cell phone carrier, i.e: Tracfone.. It may be that their service people are coached to present a hostile front to customers asking for refunds. After three days of agony dealing with Tracfone employees I ended the encounter screaming into my phone,

I can’t remember being as angry as I was now with this asshole fuck-turd Tracfone employee who was probably twenty six, living in a shitty condo somewhere in Reseda or Toluca Park. I don’t really assign blame to this hapless cubicle worker. I have compassion. I know I’m living a better life than he is. This essay is my revenge on Tracfone and a cautionary tale to anyone who has a mishap with a cell phone carrier.

I’ve used Tracfone for years without problems and the advantage of Tracfone is that they’re cheap. Like 90- days- with -unlimited -calls – for thirty – bucks cheap. I could keep going for months at ten bucks a month, and so I did, for seven years. Then I lost my phone. It was gone. No searching could retrieve it. The finder-app said it was on Third Street in Santa Rosa. I did a couple of drive-by searches. Alas, the phone was gone. I needed a new one. Everyone needs a cell phone. What if there’s an emergency in your 1998 Jeep Cherokee with the rattling fan belt? What if you can’t text your lover, your spouse, your kids, your granma? Phones possess dramatic intensity. This is the twenty first century! Phones are highly charged emotional extensions. They carry family, friendship, love, sex, money….all kinds of drama.

And I had lost mine. I needed a new one, quickly. I got on the Tracfone website and ordered a modest but decently cool phone costing $131.09. Then I waited. I expected delivery in no more than two days. Everything comes immediately these days. Drones drop your shit on your porch five minutes after you order. UPS robots open your back door and leave it on the couch by five o’clock. Things really move! But the phone didn’t arrive. And I waited yet another two days, still there was no phone. I needed a phone. Doesn’t everyone? Does life proceed without cell phones? Clearly it doesn’t. So, I tried again with Tracfone. I needed a phone, asap. I ordered a hundred dollar phone and asked Tracfone to expedite the shipping. I tried to order the drone service but Tracfone isn’t up to speed in that way. I did the next best thing: overnight shipping. I received that phone the next day. Where was the first phone? The one that costs $131.09. No one knew. I had never received a confirmation e-mail, a fact that should have raised a red flag. Of course, in this world we walk through a forest of red flags daily, so it meant nothing. Three weeks later there was a knock on the door, and a Fedex driver handed me a box. I accepted the box. I shouldn’t have. But I did, and therein lies this whole agonizing tale. It was, of course, the missing phone. I didn’t need a phone anymore. I took it down to the post office, paid fifteen bucks to ship it back to Tracfone. It was received by Tracfone in two days and I asked for a refund of $131.09. According to the phone agent, I should receive my refund within three to five work days.

I used the new phone for a while. Let’s give it a name. Call it Stylo 4. Then one morning I awoke to a seemingly normal day. It turned abnormal as soon as I tried to make a call with Stylo 4. I dialed a number and a neutral female voice said “Your device has been de-activated. If you wish to speak to Tracfone, please stay on the line.” So I held, and shortly had the Tracfone robot and went through three sets of identifications and options until I finally said that word, “Other”, which means that non of my problems were addressed by the previous robot. So I got another, more senior, robot.  Again, after enduring the list of options, I uttered that loaded word, “Other”. I waited another ten minutes, then, finally, I got an agent.

Why has my phone been de-activated? The agent asked for the ID number or the EIMI identification code for the phone. I read it off the little red booklet, then I double checked the phone itself. The numbers matched.The Tracfone employee stated, quite simply, “That’s the phone that you returned to us.”

Huh? I’m holding this phone in my hand, I explained. I’m reading the EIMI number from this phone.

“We’re sorry, sir, but that’s the phone you returned to us.”

“No,” I said calmly, “it’s clearly not the phone I sent to you. I never opened the box on the other phone, the one you sent to me, the one that took three weeks to arrive, the one that cost $131.09 and is slated for refund directly into my bank account. I already had another phone, that I bought from you, Tracfone, for about a hundred bucks.”

“Would you please read the number again, sir.” I did so.

“Sir, that is the phone that you returned to us, according to the EIMI number.”

“There’s some mistake here. Can I speak to your supervisor?” Then I made a random hand movement, accidentally touched a number on the dial pad, and was disconnected. I had to start over again. I began with the first robot, then the senior robot, punching number after number. I asked for an agent, then a supervisor, and I arrived at the same deadlock at which I had arrived before. Tracfone is telling me that I returned the very phone upon which I was presently speaking.

“Does it occur to you that this is flagrantly impossible and that perhaps there’s been a mistake at your end?”

“Sir, your refund will be deposited in your account within thirty days.”

“Thirty days? I thought it was three to five days.”

“Your account has been marked and referred to our dispute department. Are you trying to obtain a free phone?”

I was shocked. “Of course not. Forget the refund for now, OK?. Please, just re-activate my phone number because I’m an elderly man suffering from Recalcitrant Plebny, Mono-Amine Insufficiency and a serious case of Portofino.”

Must I continue? I don’t want to. I spent nearly three days on the phone with Tracfone (the only number with which I could connect) and got nothing, no re-activation, a delayed refund and a black mark against my name. I think the black mark happened because after so many hours of going around and around I lost my temper and shouted “I’m sick of you assholes, I’m done I’m done, so Fuck You!”

Then I went to Walmart and purchased a Samsung A10e, a nice little phone. I’m signed up with Sprint and I’m paying $45 a month for the privilege of no longer dealing with the morons at Tracfone. I call them morons but I think that they’re just following company policy, to whit: Obfuscate, delay, confuse, deny, denigrate, de-activate.

That’s my cautionary Tracfone tale. Does any of this sound familiar? Is the world crazy? Of course it is.

For a further take on the basic humor and craziness of cell phones, go to my essay, “Total Cell Phone Ban” Click here: Complete Cell Phone Ban Coming Soon


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He hearkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


Want to be sure not to miss any of “Art’s Visual Media Reviews” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: The Claw

 

Mind Fields

Mind Fields

Sometimes it takes a claw,

one claw that you can, with great struggle,

grow out of your soul. With that claw

you can grab something, anything,

to hang on to. It may be a branch, a stick,

a crevice in the mighty cliff of Being, no matter.

Your claw gives you purchase. Hang on.

No matter what. Hang on. You’ve made a claw.

It isn’t the last thing you’ll make. It’s enough

for now, to survive, gain strength, pull pull

The energy is in the claw.

Pull, up, to where the sun shines.

Along the way, there may appear

another claw, or a finger, something

left over from before, from the dark.

Claws change into hands. Then the hand

sprouts an arm. And the arm is connected

to all kinds of things, your body, now humanized,

now breathing. You pushed this sharp, arching bit

of dross, the last clipping on your floor

and it became a means for getting up and out

of the deep well where you thought you might die.

Sometimes it takes a claw.


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.