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The Roots of Friendship

“Writing is the time-honored tradition of rolling up your sleeves and selling your soul…for a net loss.”
-Bushrod Sinclair

That said, the writing is going well here in the AZ, or should I say the 520? Anyway, my first TV pilot script is coming along nicely. A novel and two screenplays are on the way. All in all, productivity on many fronts.

I get by with a little help from my….
I would propose that the most beneficial people in our lives are the friends we make along our paths through life. Maybe they’re lifelong friends who knew us back as snotty-nosed peers, or maybe they’re a local barista who always knows your drink (and serves it to you before you’re even at the register) and becomes a part of your unofficial family. These connections are vital. Our long-time friends are the roots that harken to our past.

I recently visited one of my ol’ friends in the Pacific Northwest. From the moment I landed, she and I were yakking and laughing and reminiscing, and that energy and joy didn’t ebb the entire three days I spent with her and her family. We’ve known each other for 36 years. Yep, that’s right, since the 70s. Hard to believe. Our friendship even survived one of my weekend movie recommendations: “Zombeavers”  I made it up by suggesting we watch “Grand Budapest Hotel“, and that seemed to buy me some much-needed good will, at least with her eldest son. He’s one of the most literate young people I know, and anyone who’s almost finished with David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” at the age of 18 is worth knowing. Actually, I should probably have him on speed dial. I’ll have to work on that. I should add that the parmesan/garlic salmon she served up last Friday might have been the best meal I’ve had all year. So, so good!

One thing I tend to have in common with my friends is a love of music. And thanks to Twitter, I discovered Duran Duran will be playing Red Rocks on September 20th. So I/we bought tickets and my friend from the PNW will finally get to visit Red Rocks. Ironically, I purchased tickets to see Florence and the Machine at RR the night before, so it’ll be a great weekend of high-altitude music. For those of you who aren’t familiar:

and/or

Back to friends: Our new acquaintances help keep us fresh and in the moment. They engage our curiosity and teach us new things. They tell us about new books, movies, and yes, even music from a new perspective. They don’t know our history, share our background, and they provide new commentary in our lives. Fresh friends. That’s what I’ll call them. And my baristas in Tucson have been just as welcoming as the folks in Gillette who took care of me (possibly at the expense of the other customers), and for that I am grateful. Other than a miscommunication when they thought my name was Drew; they’ve been spot on!

Movie Reviews (Boiled Down)
My rating system:

“See this movie!”  I think that meaning is clear.
“Solid Film”  A well-made, if not totally inspiring film
“Meh”  Well-made movie in a genre that I may or may not care about.
“A Swing and a Miss”  Movies that just don’t click, but are uniquely interesting
“Don’t Bother”  Move along, there are better uses of your time…like doing your taxes.

“Spy” – See this movie!  Hilarious.

“John Wick” See this movie!  Keanu Reeves back on track.

“A Pigeon sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence” See this movie!  Now I need to track down all of Roy Andersson’s feature films and other works. I felt this movie was the closest cinematically to the films I’d like to make. Genius, in my opinion. Here’s the trailer:

“En Bruges”See this movie!  Older film, but how did I miss it to begin with?

“A Deadly Adoption” –  Don’t Bother  I don’t even know what to make of this…

“Jurassic World” – Meh  This movie stayed with me for the better part of 30 minutes after the last dinosaur died.

“Love and Mercy” – See this movie!  Great pic about musical genius, Brian Wilson. John Cusack and Paul Dano are wonderful as younger and older Brian Wilson.

I’ll have another Free Form video ready for July 4th. Until then. Stay cool!

Yours truly,
Bushrod

Fortunate sons, public makeovers, and my shortest short story adapted into a movie!

Please play this video while reading the text…

Don’t tell my niece or nephews but this morning I woke up and had mint chocolate chip ice cream for breakfast. It’s extremely rare that I have ice cream in my freezer; I had company for dinner last night and picked it up for desert…and breakfast apparently. And it got me to thinking:

How fortunate I am to have been born a straight, white, male, and in America no less. All that’s missing is a huge trust fund, but thankfully my folks and mentors taught me how to work hard, make bank, and save a little. Now, I don’t feel fortunate because these traits in fact make me superior (or make me feel superior) to those that were born otherwise; although I suppose it could be argued, rather easily, that a natural arrogance forms when doors don’t consistently slam in your face. No, the reason I am grateful for the result of my birth is the time and energy I haven’t had to spend trying to accommodate myself into someone else’s pigeon hole.

I was born straight – I never made a choice to be attracted to women, that’s just how I’m wired. I have never been attracted to men; which saved lots of time in my youth, because in my 20s that would have doubled my chances of getting laid, and I didn’t need any more hours of bedtime, as it were. For many though, matters of sexual and gender identity aren’t so cut and dried. There is no rational reason those in the LGBTQ community should be shamed or made to feel less than whole. Surprise! They’re humans! They are not an insidious plot by the devil to destroy our communities, schools, and PTOs. Nope. They’re people. They have feelings, dreams, hopes, and some of them probably like mint chocolate chip ice cream just as much as you and me. They shouldn’t be mocked, harassed or targeted. They are simply nature working its finest magic, and sometimes nature’s revelation is challenging to comprehend. Such is the case of Ms. Caitlyn Jenner.

Hardly the first to make a gender switch, but clearly one of the most public transitions. Many have struggled with her decision for various moral and/or ethical reasons. The world isn’t as simple as we long pretended it was, and many are coming to grips with this now that people like Ms. Jenner feel inclined to discuss it publicly. Many in society opposed women’s rights, civil rights, and now the rights of the LGBTQ community. The struggles of women, people of color, and the aforementioned LGBTQ folks are real, and many have lost their lives (by harassment, retaliation, and bullying) to further their specific causes. Namely, to just be treated humanely and equally.

A while back, several friends of mine posted pictures/memes of Rosa Parks on Facebook, holding her up as an example of how black people should behave when faced with oppression; this in the wake of the civil unrest in Baltimore. My friends may want to stick their nose in a history book at some point. While Rosa’s courageous act was the focal point (and she was arrested), the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott was also necessary to keep pushing the issue of segregation to the forefront. Both Rosa and the boycott were required. Just refusing to move to the back of the bus didn’t fix anything. What it did do was get the ball rolling.

And is it just me, or are you appalled that a mere 50 – 60 years ago we were still dealing with segregation in the good ole United States of America, where all men* are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Thankfully, the times have been a changin’. And some do not like the changes. It may take a generation of equality to filter out the hate and bigotry, but I am convinced it will happen. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is only half a century old, barely enough time for a tree to mature, and with diligence and patience these issues will someday fade to the background…although I don’t believe they will ever fully disappear.

I placed an asterisk by men in the previous paragraph, because I would argue that we are still in the throes of the battle for women’s rights. Equal pay anyone? Age discrimination? Maggie Gyllenhaal at age 37 too old to play the love interest of a 55 year-old man? WTF? Actually, that deserves that I write it out: What the fuck!?!

I could go on and on about this. What’s so hard about equality?

And finally, I wrote a short piece on some of the memes in response to Caitlyn Jenner’s transformation. One of my friends (and probably others based on FB comments) felt I was judging them for disagreeing with Caitlyn’s choice. Here’s what I wrote:

People comparing the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to the courage of our veterans may want to look up what the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is for – it’s for an individual’s contributions that “transcend sports”, it wasn’t meant to say that Caitlyn Jenner is better, or more courageous, than all of our veterans. There’s no comparison.

By the way, for those of you who didn’t know, Caitlyn Jenner is an avowed Republican, and I would guess values the sacrifices and contributions that our veterans have made to preserve our freedoms.

Please stop minimizing and marginalizing everyone you don’t agree with. 

Or, just keep posting stupid fucking memes and photos with the intent of dividing us all. Remember: the Conservatives and the Liberals need us divided to keep making money, and they’re doing a great job.

Cheers,
Bushrod

All I requested is that people stop “minimizing and marginalizing everyone you don’t agree with”. The friend who called pleaded with me that he wasn’t judgmental, but when I pointed out that posting a meme comparing the fuss over Caitlyn to soldiers, he had in fact made a judgment. He got a little sore. And when I mentioned that using images of servicemen to portray civilians negatively will only erode support for our soldiers over time, he relented…a bit. And there have been some interesting items come to light, in wake of all the posted memes.

We’ve got too much to worry about together to let the two political parties, corporations, and lobbyists tear us apart!

That’s it for now. No movie reviews this week, but I’ll leave you with a short film made from a Twitter Short Story I wrote called “Shoes”. Until next time…

Here’s the link to my movie and short interview.  And here’s the movie:

Cheers!
Bushrod

May 20th and such, as well as Free Form #3

I was pressed for time last week, so I’m adding last week’s blog to Free Form #3.

But first, twas sad seeing David Letterman say goodbye earlier tonight. I made it all the way through the finale without a tear until he started to introduce Paul and the band. Memories. I remember watching Zippy the Monkey Cam during college. (sigh) Onwards and upwards.

Free Form #3

Last week’s blog post:

Sounds like…1, 5, 7, 20, or 36….*

In early March of this year, a jury ruled in favor of Marvin Gaye’s family and awarded the family almost $7.4 million in a copyright infringement case regarding the late Mr. Gaye’s 1977 hit (and totally awesome song) “Got to Give it Up (Part 1)”. Watch:

The case stems from the Gaye family’s allegations that the Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams song, “Blurred Lines” used too much inspiration from “Got to Give it Up (Part 1)” and therefore infringes on the song’s copyright owned by Mr. Gaye’s family. That’s simplifying the court case tremendously, but for our purposes that will do. Here’s “Blurred Lines” (don’t worry, it’s not the version with topless women):

To be clear, I have no dog in this fight; I don’t know any of the parties involved, but merely for the purpose of full disclosure I will say this: I have been using “Got to Give it Up (Part 1)” for my workouts since 1992. I love the song and can listen to it all the time. “Blurred Lines” is a solid toe-tapper, but it doesn’t even rate with the original. In fact, I prefer Weird Al Yankovic’s parody, “Word Crimes” to “Blurred Lines”, but I digress.  And here’s “Word Crimes”:

My ears do not hear much similarity between “Got to Give it Up (Part 1)” and “Blurred Lines”, much less a direct rip off. I just don’t hear it when I compare these two songs. And dear audience, just know that I listen to a lot of music and I believe I hear subtly in a song as well as the next person.

Still, I understand why the Gaye family filed the lawsuit. They feel they have to protect their intellectual property, in this case the music to “Got to Give it Up (Part 1). If they don’t protect it, someone will take advantage of them and rob them of their royalties. In my opinion, Mr. Thicke and Mr. Pharrell did not steal from Marvin Gaye’s hit. Keep in mind, this case has already been decided. For all I know, there may be an appeal in process right now.

Here’s why this ruling scares me: it will hinder creativity.

There are several areas of the arts (music, dance, theater, film, writing, poetry, etc…), and the fundamental building blocks of these particular arts (musical notes; dance moves/choreography; words, shots, and scenes) are finite. Right now the world is creating content like crazy! You name it, it’s out there and someone is writing it, rehearsing it, and/or recording it. Which also means, they’re possibly re-using something and doing so totally unaware that a similar work has been created.

Let’s imagine that I wrote a song called “Won’t Stream Over” with a catchy guitar hook and some killer lyrics about battles ahead, the TV page, and a chiming chorus of “Hey Now, Hey Now”, and then the attorneys for Crowded House (my favorite band BTW) rang me up and said, “Um hey, about your dopey tune. We think there’s a problem.” And for the sake of argument, let’s say that I’d never heard of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” I have created a work of art with no prior awareness/knowledge of an existing piece of art, and now I’m in trouble, rightfully or not.

At this point, it would be impossible to listen to all the musical recordings generated over the past 40 years to know where you stand creatively. The simple math of listening to all the music in the world, much less retaining all the variations, would do you in. You wouldn’t have any time to write any music that could be considered a copyright violation because you’d be too busy listening to tunes (and hopefully sleeping and eating a bit).

Think there isn’t a mass of content out there? Think again:

Twitter for example, averages around 500 million tweets per day. Some of those half a trillion tweets are garbage, and I recall an old adage that someday a monkey would be able to randomly write a Shakespeare play.  However, there’s whole lot of clever out there too. For instance:

or

(And you should follow both of these clever women on Twitter…get an account in you don’t have one!)

Having a Twitter account can open up worlds of insight and comedy, as well as skank and shenanigans. It’s like getting invited to Dorothy Parker’s salon, only better, because you’d never actually get an invite from Dorothy!

Anyway, cleverness never ends online. That’s just how Twitter works! Then there’s Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, youtube, and lest we forget, there’s also an entire realm of cleverness in day-to-day life. You remember real life, right? With all of this content, I am certain there are creative lines being blurred (pun intended), and we should just learn to live with it.

Last Fall, Disney sued JD Deadmau5 for attempting to trademark his signature “mouse ears”.  Check it out:

Now, Mickey Mouse has been around since 1928, and I realize most corporate lawyers love, repeat LOVE, pissing matches.  But I believe we are entering a new era of artistic repression caused by content creation and subsequent copyright/trademark issues.  At one point I worked for Kenny Rogers and someone tried to sue his Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurants for cooking chicken over a wood-burning stove.  What? Yeah, I think cavemen and women were cooking chicken that way a few thousand years ago, but that’s just a guess.

As a matter of fact, the same problem occurred as I was brainstorming what to name this weird era we’re entering. First I thought of muselock (already taken) then ponderlock (ditto) before settling on conjurelock.  Henceforth, conjurelock shall be a noun describing the inability of a person to create, not because they aren’t able, don’t have access to the tools or materials to create (e.g., access caused by gridlock), but because the content already exists without their prior knowledge of it existing.

For creatives, this is a problem and a worthwhile challenge for all artists.

For those non-creative types out there, imagine if you could copyright a spreadsheet function and no one else could use it.  Be kinda limiting, no? That’s my point. It’s a tool unavailable to you.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for the week. So let them written, so let them be dumb!

Movie Reviews (Boiled Down)
My rating system:

“See this movie!”  I think that meaning is clear.
“Solid Film”  A well-made, if not totally inspiring film
“Meh”  Well-made movie in a genre that I may or may not care about.
“A Swing and a Miss”  Movies that just don’t click, but are uniquely interesting
“Don’t Bother”  Move along, there are better uses of your time…like doing your taxes.

“Fury Road” – See this movie!  Yeah, it’s just a chase, and all the major females are knock-out/supermodel types, but damn: it’s a prophetical tale of our future.

“Maggie” –  Solid Film  Well made film by Henry Hobson, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin. Unique storytelling…like I haven’t seen in a while.

“An Honest Liar” – Solid Film  Interesting documentary about The Amazing Randi, a magician who has spent the better part of his life debunking horse shit spewed by “psychics” and “mentalists” and other goofballs.

And that’s all the B.S. we have time for this week!

Cheers!
Bushrod

*Those numbers 1, 5, 7, 20, and 36 are variations on what some consider to be the total number of plots available for stories. Very limiting.

Social Media, baseball in the Big Apple, and Björk at MOMA….

Social Media and the Little Guy (rural municipality)
The importance of government social media to small communities in rural areas cannot be understated, particularly municipalities and rural areas that have limited local media coverage.  A government agency will need release information and/or a message/story/rumor may appear (via local of social media), and the local government agencies better be monitoring what is happening locally…and what is being said about local government.

From Spring 2009 until February, 2015, I served as Public Information Officer (PIO) for the City of Gillette – which meant I was also the administrator of the City’s social media sites.  During this time, I was fortunate to work for City Administrators, Mayors, and City Council members who saw the benefits of social media, and their words to me were: “get the city’s message out there.”  Which I did, I think.  Creating nine Facebook pages, and one Twitter page, for the city’s different entities (main City page, animal shelter, parks & beautification, etc…) and for elected officials (Mayor and a few members of the City Council).  Can you say headache?

First up: Gillette is a small city in northeast Wyoming – estimated population 32,000.  There are no local TV Stations, one radio station news director, and two local newspapers.  Just before I left as PIO, the City’s main Facebook page had around 7,800 likes (follower/fans).  Keep in mind that not all of those 7,800 people were current Gillette residents; many former residents enjoy keeping up with the goings on in Razor City, a popular nickname for Gillette.  (FYI: There is no connection between Gillette Company and the City of Gillette,)  We never really picked up any steam with Twitter in northeast Wyoming, which is a shame.  At any rate, I would say 7,800 is a very respectable number of follower/fans.  And with some simple math we can arrive at saturation rate of 24% (Facebook followers (7,800) divided by population (32,000)).

Let’s put that into perspective: I recently moved to Tucson (population 520,116) and their main Facebook page has 5,133 likes.  The Tucson Police Department’s Facebook page commands 12,662 likes.  That’s good outreach, but if even if we add the main page and police department page to compute saturation, we still only get  a 3.4% saturation rate (followers (17,795) divided by population (520,116)).  I realize there are many, many other socio-economic factors that come into play and this is oversimplification, but ultimately, I believe higher social media saturation rates in smaller municipalities have everything to do with local media.  There are seven TV stations in the Tucson metro area; again, none in Gillette.  (I just did the quick math on New York City:  3.9% saturation rate…)

It’s also my belief that the City of Gillette did, and still does, an excellent job of outreach with social media.  The staff continues updating current information and leverages major events by having the City Facebook page be the source of public information.  Being the source of local government information in a small city keeps the citizens updated and knowledgeable…and ticks off the few local media business owners.

A couple rules to follow with social media:
Humor works – Keep it light.  Social media is an informal place; treat it as such.
Alerts – If there is a major event in your community, emergency weather announcements, traffic info, public safety, be sure to announce it on your organization’s page.
Respond as much as possible – If people post on your Facebook wall or page, do your best to respond to as many of their posts/comments as possible,  Even by simply ‘liking’ their comment.  It’s worth noting you should add a note on your page information that states “A like is not an endorsement”.
Keep it current – update on your page two or three times per day with relevant information.

I guess if you look closely, you could make a case that HARK would be the acronym, but I digress.  Social media is a powerful tool, and I see so few government agencies using social media to its full and proper potential.

Who is using it well?  The public.  Government needs to get on board and start using social media for transparency and openness.  More on this subject in two weeks!

And now, onto the fun stuff…

I spent last weekend in NYC just wandering around, visiting museums, theater, movies, and taking in all there is to do in the Big Apple.  Twas cool in Gotham – which is a plus when you’re walking.  I will cover musing from my trip in my next Free Form video (hitting a computer screen near you next Wednesday!), but a few of the highlights were the Björk exhibit at MOMA.  Björk’s music has never resonated for me, but after the exhibit I felt I had a deeper appreciation of her sound and lyrics.  And hey, I even got to see a Swan Dress.

The only theater for me on this trip was a performance of “The Other Mozart“.  A one-woman play about Mozart’s elder sister, Maria, an equally talented musician who was thrown to the curb of obscurity due to gender.  She’s a woman!  The horror!  The play is very well done – if you get a chance, see this show.

And two final highlights from the trip:

The first was wandering through the West Village, I stumbled across a Little League baseball game at James J. Walker park, pitting the Astros against the Athletics.  Coincidentally, my nephews both play for the Astros, albeit in Sierra Vista, Arizona. I paused my peripatetic efforts momentarily to take in the ball game.  Much to my delight, the kids in NY were having as much fun as in AZ, with only a smattering of hovering mothers and anxious dads.  Play Ball!

James J. Walker Park – West Village – NYC

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Bill Stone Complex – Sierra Vista, AZ
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The final highlight from New York City was a trip to Village Vanguard.  Purchased as The Golden Triangle in 1934, a speakeasy, by Max Gordon, who renamed it the Village Vanguard.  Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Bill Evans, and Stan Getz are just a few of the musicians who have performed at the Vanguard.  The intimate atmosphere and layout of the venue provide very effective acoustics, and as I settled in and listened to the Barry Harris Trio I felt as though the drummer’s high hat was at the table next to me.  Priceless.  Also, I’m a stickler for people shutting the hell up during live musical performances, and that’s expected at the Vanguard.  Bushrod finally made it to the Vanguard.  What a night!

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Musical Four-play
Four bands/musicians you need to be listening to, but may not know it:

James McMurtry   With his new record, “Complicated Game”, James McMurtry returns with his first original material in 7 years.  Mr. McMurtry writes songs that the folks in the middle understand all to well while adding the details relatable to those people on both coasts.  Songs like “South Dakota” with its blunt chorus: “There ain’t much between the pole and South Dakota/ And barb wire won’t stop the wind/ you won’t get much here but drunk and older/ you might as well re-up again.”  Later on, the narrator and his family lose all their livestock in a tragic early October blizzard.  (Author’s note: having driven across South Dakota immediately after this blizzard I can say this song catches the hopelessness of life on the Plains, as I stopped for a pitstop on a side road and am still haunted by the sounds of livestock wailing to their deaths in the deep snow.)  Anyway, here’s the first single, “How I’m Gonna Find You Now”.


Brown Bird   I was fortunate to see Brown Bird at Music Fest Northwest a few years back.  Founded as a solo act by the late Dave Lamb, Brown Bird’s lineup had evolved over the years, and on the particular September night when I saw the band they were a duo: Dave and MorganEve Swain.  When they appeared onstage, MorganEve looked badass, and a few numbers into the show Dave casually mentioned that MorganEve had slammed a finger in the car door shortly before their set started.  Although she was clearly in pain, the music didn’t suffer and the band has been one of my faves ever since.  Sadly, Dave was struck down by leukemia a year ago.  MorganEve – the badass – followed through with the band’s final album, “Axis Mundi”.   Since they will never tour again, here’s a video of Brown Bird performing “Blood of Angels”.  Dave Lamb you are missed by many!


Sinead Lohan   Where is Sinead Lohan today?  I have no idea, but her songs haunt me.  She’s off the radar for a reason and that’s her business, but holy shit I love her music. She hasn’t released an album since 1998.  The world’s loss.  Check this out:


Kitty LaRoar   If you’re in London, look up Kitty LaRoar.  She’s sultry, can sing, and even throws down some percussion in this video.



Movie Reviews (Boiled Down)

Before these brief reviews begin, I need to give a shout out to The Loft Cinema in Tucson for just being there.  Having spent the last fifteen years in the movie purgatory (Gillette, Wyoming), I have longed for real cinema.  Thanks to The Loft Cinema, I have found it!

My rating system:
“See this movie!”  I think that meaning is clear.
“Solid Film”  A well-made, if not totally inspiring film
“Meh”  Well-made movie in a genre that I may or may not care about.
“A Swing and a Miss”  Movies that just don’t click, but are uniquely interesting
“Don’t Bother”  Move along, there are better uses of your time…like doing your taxes.

“Tangerines” – See this movie!  If you see one movie this year, see this one…and take 6,000 of your closest friends.

“Salt of the Earth” –  See this movie!  Excellent documentary on photographer Sebastião Salgado and his eye for humanity.

“Ex Machina” – Solid Film  Cautionary tale about the complications of artificial intelligence.

“Phantom of the Paradise” – Solid Film  This film isn’t for everyone, but it’s a must for Brian Depalma fans…

“True Story” – Meh  Well done but too by the number to be much more.  Who couldn’t look at Felicity Jones all day though…am I right?

“Merchants of Doubt” – See this movie!  This film provides great insight into the PR folks who have told you that smoking doesn’t cause cancer, and other silly things…

“Man from Reno” – Solid Film  A nice film noir effort by director Dave Boyle.

“Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck”  See this movie!  Director Brett Morgen brings his vision and talent to shine a spotlight on Kurt Cobain’s life.  Well done.

And that’s the truth and bs from Bushrod Sinclair.  See y’all in two weeks.  Free Form #2 will be available here next Wednesday.

Peace/Later Gators,
Bushie

More or Less…and movies and music

Resources.  How and why are they allocated?  Now that I live in a desert, water and water conservation issues are front and center.  Over the past few weeks, the New York Times has mentioned the drought in California in several editions, with specific mentions to the Gordian knot that exists in regards to California water rights; desalination plants; and conservation plans.  The woes of the Rio Grande were also highlighted in a front page story by Michael Wines.  In his story, Mr. Wines mentions some farmers in El Paso who have rights to the final trickle of the Rio Grande.  And indeed, on a recent trip to El Paso to visit a high school friend, I learned that my friend pays an annual fee for irrigation channels to be opened to flood and irrigate his yard and garden.  Ringing his property is a shallow moat – which for most of the year serves as a dry depression in his lawn.

Even my hometown of Gillette, Wyoming faces challenges with water.  In 2005, Gillette’s water customers consumed more water than the city’s water utility could produce.  The temporary fix was an all-encompassing water conservation program followed by multiple water rate increases.  The long-term fix was to build a second pipeline to ensure water to its customers which will be completed in late 2016.  With a growth rate of 48% from 2000 to 2010 as the city boomed from a coal bed methane boom, building a second pipeline made sense, if only superficially.  Nearly 80% of Gillette’s water during its peak irrigation season (May through September) comes from the Madison Aquifer located approximately forty miles to the northeast of Gillette via the appropriately named Madison Pipeline.  The Madison Pipeline is a vital piece of infrastructure to Gillette and subsequently to the nation – as Gillette and Campbell County produce coal that provides America with 10% of its electricity.

And here is where the underlying problem with resources comes into play.  While I would argue building a second pipeline is necessary for redundancy of the infrastructure, and the regional water service area that it serves will definitely grow in the next decade, most of this water is only needed for the peak irrigation season (e.g., watering lawns).  In particular, watering non-native grasses.  Make no mistake, my hometown will need a second pipeline, but sooner or later, the question needs to be: is watering non-native grass the best use of a dwindling resource?
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The City of Tucson uses reclaimed water to water many of its parks, golf courses, and other facilities.  This was done primarily out of necessity, but is recreational irrigation the best use of a dwindling natural resource?

Conservation programs have done wonders for domestic consumption, and most municipalities offer rebates for low flow toilets and showerheads, etc…  What needs to be addressed is non-domestic consumption for irrigation and agriculture, and this needs to be a holistic approach.  Just saying, “almonds are evil,” isn’t going to work.  By the way, almonds are not evil…but they do use a helluva lot of water. The Department of Interior ranks water use very highly among its concerns.  Unfortunately, any recommendation from a government entity will be highly politicized and debated ad nauseam.

At what point do we as a society recognize that the Earth’s resources are limited, and the conspicuous consumption that is rampant in America cannot be contained?  We need to have this conversation now!  Clean air and water need to be the priorities, but energy production and consumption, manufacturing and necessary raw materials, as well as our agricultural industries need to be factored into the mix.  Or we can just stick our heads in the sand and hope it all works out.

Mother Earth simply will not accommodate unsustainable growth, and that is where we, as a nation, a planet, and a race, are headed. If you get a chance to ask a presidential candidate a question, I would make sure to ask about a comprehensive strategy for America’s natural resources.  Until raw materials can be delivered via Fed Ex from another world, this is the only planet we’ve got, and there are too many “ants on the planet” for humans not to make a difference.

Musical Four-play
Four bands/musicians you need to be listening to, but didn’t know it:

Mutts   Can I just say that I love this band and be done with it?  No.  There is so much to love about their rock and jazz infused tunes, and yes, the first thing you’ll probably notice is that lead singer, Mike Maimone, sounds a whole helluvalot like Tom Waits when he’s crooning.  That’s not Mike’s fault.  Here’s the first single (if there is such a thing anymore) of their latest album, “Fuel Yer Delusion Volume 4” titled “Everyone is Everyone”.  This is not safe for work (NSFW), so you’ve been warned.

The Whiskey Charmers   Carrie Shepard, the lead singer, and I both worked for the same production company in Los Angeles; albeit at different times – she was hired just after I left in 1998.  Somehow fate intervened and we met 16 years later in Wyoming when I booked her band to perform at Gillette’s brewfest.  Give this band, and their new album, a listen.  Here’s “Neon Motel Room” from their self-titled album, “The Whiskey Charmers”.

Lily Virginia   Somehow I stumbled across Lily Virginia on Twitter.  Odd, right?  Anyway, I was captivated by her vocals and her song, “Atlantic”.  The lyrical repetition reminded me of standing on the beach and thinking about the person I love, with only the incoming waves as my company.  Check it out:

Erisa Rei   Another talented songwriter with a haunting voice and a passel of solid songs I fumbled into on Twitter.  I don’t spend that much time on Twitter…really, I don’t.  But when you find a songwriter like Erisa, it’s totally worth it.  Here’s her song “Like Dominoes”.

Movie Reviews (Boiled Down)
Before these brief reviews begin, I need to give a shout out to The Loft Cinema in Tucson for just being there.  Having spent the last fifteen years in the movie purgatory (Gillette, Wyoming), I have longed for real cinema.  Thanks to The Loft Cinema, I have found it!

My rating system:
“See this movie!”  I think that meaning is clear.
“Solid Film”  A well-made, if not totally inspiring film
“Meh”  Well-made movie in a genre that I may or may not care about.
“A Swing and a Miss”  Movies that just don’t click, but are uniquely interesting
“Don’t Bother”  Move along, there are better uses of your time…like doing your taxes.

“Wild Tales” – See this movie!  Six vignettes that aren’t for the faint of heart but reveal life in all its glory.

“Red Army” –  See this movie!  Excellent documentary on Russian hockey and life behind the Iron Curtain.

“Furious 7” – Meh  Okay, if you don’t believe in physics or the laws of gravity, see this movie.

“The Woman in Gold” – Solid Film  This whole doesn’t equal the sum of its parts.  Lead actors are very good though.

“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” – See this movie!  A Japanese woman thinks the movie “Fargo” is real and sets out to find the hidden loot.  What more could you want in a movie?

“It Follows” – Meh To be fair, many people are raving about this movie.  I found it to be lacking in anything but STD metaphors.

“The Wrecking Crew” – Solid Film  Documentary about the sessions musicians who cut some of the music industry’s greatest hits and never got credit…until now.

“Giuseppe Makes a Movie” See this movie!  To me, this film is the epitome of what documentary filmmaking is all about.

“What We Do in the Shadows”  Meh  Mockumentary about New Zealand vampires.  If you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll enjoy it.

And that’s the truth and bs from Bushrod Sinclair.  See y’all in two weeks.  Although, I will start alternating the blog posts with visual poems every other week.  I’ll post the youtube links here as well.

Peace/Later Gators,
Bushie

Peace of mind…not much else…

Deciding to upend your life by quitting your job and moving to a new state can provide peace of mind or it can send you into a panic.  My decision to leave a great job, working with great people, in order to spend a year writing a novel may turn out to be a disaster or it may pay off.  Fear is a wonderful catalyst.  I have always said I am going to write a novel; now is the time to do just that.

So I left a life, and a gazillion good friends, and moved from Wyoming to Arizona in late February, 2015.  Life is still good, still different, still amazing.There are so many people I am thankful for – people who came into my life and are just flat-out good people.  They understand why I had to leave Wyoming and get on with improving my health and following my dreams.  Hey, I am 47.  If not now, when?  Oddly, I made a similar change 17 years ago by quitting my job on Friday, February 13, 1998.  My last day on the job this year was Friday, February 13, 2015.  Sometimes the coincidences just line up like the stars.

Anyway, so I live in Arizona now.  Tucson to be precise.  A couple of my good friends first invited me to Tucson in 1995, and I have happily been returning ever since.  A few years back, my sister moved to Sierra Vista – just 80 miles away or so – and two years ago my mother moved here.  So, it’s not like I’m alone.  I have friends and family here, and I continue to make new friends as the days carry on.  The weather has been phenomenal.  I know the temps will be scorching this Summer, and shouldn’t we all be more than just a little concerned about the early high temperatures across the West?  The desiccation in California is going to affect us all – we just don’t know how much just yet.  When I made a recon trip to Tucson in mid-February to find an apartment and get set up, it was disheartening to see how dry and brown the landscape was all the way from Wyoming to Arizona (via Utah and Nevada), with very little snow to be seen except for a few dollops of white high up on the mountains in the Wasatch Mountains in UT.  Scary.

I realize Mother Nature has thrown some moisture into the mix since then, but not enough if my opinion.  Oh well, I moved to the desert, wouldn’t be polite to complain about a lack of water.  Besides here’s a shot of my dashboard taken in Wyoming last December:
IMG_1519So, Tucson.  What’s not to love about it?  The Loop, a bike path project years in the making and still under construction, provides excellent outdoor activity.  The Loft, a fantastic, local independent movie theatre, that shows all genres, shapes, and sizes of films is to die for.  In my hometown, there would usually be one movie a month that was worth seeing, and the Academy Award nominated films would rarely arrive in our theaters until after the Oscar broadcast.  Kinda late then guys.  Here, at The Loft, they show all manner of documentaries, foreign films, independent films, you name it.  For me, that’s heaven.

And ultimately, I’m closer to my immediate family.  My sister and her family used to live in North Dakota – just a couple of hours away from my home in Wyoming.  When my nephews were younger I used to see them all the time.  When they moved to Arizona I naturally didn’t see them as much as I would have liked, but that has changed.  In fact, I’ll be in attendance at several of their Little League games this Spring.  Awesome!IMG_1696

I can see my nephews in person rather than through Skype.

When I left Gillette and moved to Tucson, I told myself to rest and recover during the month of March.  I needed rest badly.  I have a rare, slow-growing form of cancer that wears me out.  The grind of my former job did nothing to alleviate that, and a month of rest is just what the Doctor ordered…without any Doctor actually ordering it.  As I write this, it is Tuesday, March 31, 2015.  My month of rest and recovery is over, and tomorrow I begin writing.  Writing every day.  I’ll work on screenplays, stories, poems, and yes, a novel.  It is all well and great to say, “I want to write a novel,” but having something to say is just as important.  There are several stories I want to tell.  The hard part will just be sitting down and prioritizing which stories to tell first.  I have freedom (YES!) but along with that I am self-employed now and must earn a living through my writing (SCARY!).  A tricky proposition to say the least.  Keeping structure in my day is of utmost importance.  Writing every day is not a habit yet.  Let me amend that statement: writing what I want to write about is not yet a habit.  For the past six years I have written all manner of documents every day.  Speeches, press releases, white papers, letters, social media posts, all of it.  But that was for the City of Gillette, not for me.  Now, I get to tell the stories I want to tell.

It’s my aim to post a new entry here every two weeks.  That’s how I’ve scheduled it – we’ll see how it goes.

During my R&R month, I also checked off a couple of items on my bucket list.  Here are some pictures:

Dante’s staircase into Carlsbad Caverns  Note to morons: if you’re going to take a flash picture in a cave, make sure no one is walking towards you.  Kinda wreaks havoc on the irises, if you know what I mean.
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The Very Large Array or VLA for short, just west of Socorro, New Mexico.

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And Sloan Park!  Spring home of the Chicago Cubbies!

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That’s it for this month.  More later!

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