Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10. Free 'Pussy Riot' - Nov, 2012

According to several aging Russian hippies, bootlegged copies of The Beatles music had as much to do with the downfall of the Soviet Union as any politician or political movement.

The songs of the Beatles - banned by the Soviet leadership in the 1960's - permeated an underground Russian youth culture so thoroughly, that by the time that generation reached maturity in the 1980's, a majority of Russian society had little or no stomach left for Soviet ideology.

They were over it. Art - in the form of music - had enlightened them in ways beyond what even John, Paul, George, or Ringo could have intended.

Art and creativity can do that. It can change the way entire generations think.

'The Soviet Union' is a historical relic now. In its place are Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, and several other smaller independent countries.

Russia is currrently ruled by one Vladimir Putin, and his hold on power is so absolute that you can be arrested for criticizing his policies.

This is what happened to performance-art-feminist-punk-band Pussy Riot.

In February, earlier this year, they staged what has been called a flash-mob-style invasion of a Russian Orthodox church and performed their "Punk Prayer," before being arrested.

They have been found guilty of disrupting public order, and hooliganism (I thought you had to be involved in a drunken fight outside a soccer game to be convicted of hooliganism). Two of the band members have managed to flee the country, and one saw her conviction dropped (because she was actually arrested BEFORE she had a chance to perform the offending song). Two members of Pussy Riot remain in prison, sent to what are described as 'penal colonies.'

I and many of my friends identify, in one discipline or another, as "Artists." For the most part we only have to worry about superficial things; Am I making a living at this or do I have to get a day job? Will I get the Million-dollar contract or do I have to settle for something smaller?

It's easy to lose sight of deeper issues.

There are no more courageous Artists in this world right now than the five members of Pussy Riot.

Earlier today I joined Amnesty International. I had been thinking about it for some time.

The recent Presidential campaigns in the U.S. left me feeling a little, shall we say, UNDERNOURISHED, regarding the issues that actually seem to matter.

But this is not about living in one country as opposed to another. We are a planetary family. What happens to an Artist in Russia affects us all.

-Peter Wick
November 14, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

9. It's 2012 - Do You Know Where Your Doomsday Is? - Oct. 2012

I've been studying up on the end of the world. It's about two months away, on December 21, 2012.

It turns out that the Mayans, The Sumerians, and Nostradamus all agreed that December 21, 2012 would mark a catastrophe for our planet.

At least we think Nostradamus agreed.

He wrote something about a ball of fire and a trail of sparks, and everyone who knows anything agreees that he meant a comet would wipe us out two months from now.

A few dissenting analysts think he just foresaw those Youtube guys who accidentally light their butts on fire. But what do they know!?

The Mayans had a five thousand year calendar that ends December 21. The Mayans, everyone knows, were gifted at predicting the future. They once predicted "The seas shall rise," and by god, sometime in the last five thousand years there were some really big waves that washed up on some stuff and got everything super wet.

They figured out how long a year on Venus lasted.

Most alarmingly, they predicted how intense Steve Buscemi would be in HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." There's a hyroglyph, on the wall of a Mayan pyramid, of a man's face that looks so much like the poster for season 3, it cannot possibly be a coincidence.

Of course, as stand-up comedian Heneghen pointed out recently, they seem to have missed that whole part where the Spaniards come and wipe them out with war and disease. But who are we to judge? Which of us has never missed the forest for the trees?

The Sumerians are a tougher nut to crack. They left lots of tablets with symbols and pictures on them, but they are all in a dead language that no one has been able to fully translate.

So, while there is a series of tablets that many interpret as saying that a "planet beyond Pluto will make it's first appearance in the Solar System since 36,000 years ago, destroying all currently existing planets," it is also possible, according to some, that these tablets alternatively say, "There's a yummy thing in my pocket that I'm not going to share with you and - oh, darn it, it's all melted now and I have to go scrub my pants on the big rock in the river."

It's just hard to say who is right.

Of course none of this answers the most important question; how do you survive the end of the world?

The answer is simple:

Just before the comet strikes...


Peter Wick
October 13, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

8. Curiosity - September, 2012

I don't want to sound like too much of a nerd.

I mean, I'm NOT a nerd, am I? I play soccer every Saturday. I've been talking football with some friends since the new NFL season started.


But really....I sort of am one.

I have fallen totally and completely in love with a robot.

When I last wrote in this space, two months ago, it was a silly little thing about aliens from outer space. since I wrote it, NASA has landed one of the most amazing pieces of machinery -The Curiosity Rover - on Mars. the machine is driving around our neighboring planet, taking pictures.

Curiosity has more charisma, to me, than a Movie Star. It flew thousands of miles through space, dropped onto an alien planet, and just started driving around.

The pictures - bleak, barren, empty - are absolutely stunning to me.

When I look out my bedroom window now, at the view of distant mountains circling the north and east of Los Angeles, I no longer see Los Angeles, or California, or even the United States of America. that's too small.

I see Planet Earth, hurtling through space around a hot burning ball. We are all along for the ride, with absolutely no control over our destiny.

It wouldn't take much to snuff out our entire species, to crush our little cosmic bus. It has happened to bigger balls in space.

And now we have visited another ball.

There isn't much there. No plants, no creatures. Maybe there is some water, or ice. Maybe a few of us will visit in 30 years.

I find the whole adventure invigorating.

It is a welcome distraction from the small problems we take so seriously on this little ball; who will be the next President of one of our little pieces of land; will the next little gadget be faster than the last one?

I was reading an article recently that described the next iPhone as "technology."

No, I said, almost out loud. That's not technology. That's a gadget.

"Curiosity" is technology.

I have been re-reading Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles." I had to pick it up again, especially after NASA named the spot where Curiosity landed, "Bradbury Landing."

Visiting the NASA website, I also looked up the Cassini Probe, which has been flying around a pretty big ball, Saturn, for eight years now. It is telling us a lot about a very interesting smaller ball, Saturn's moon Titan, which may have a sub-surface water ocean.

It makes you realize that all the little squabbles betwen us and our brothers and sisters (all the other human beings who may or may not look different from us) are really quite pety and small-minded.

So someone believes some religion or other. Someone hates someone else. Some country thinks they are the best country ever.

As a species, I think we need to just get over ourselves.

Quit arguing about who deserves the best seat on the cosmic bus, settle in with our family of 7 billion brothers and sisters, and enjoy the ride.

-Peter Wick
September 15, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

#7. Democrats, Republicans, and Aliens from Outer Space

I have been surprised to come across, not one, but two important news items involving Aliens from outer space recently.

First, reported by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, a recent Presidential poll found that Barack Obama is leading Mitt Romney by a staggering 65% to 35% when respondents were asked who they trusted more to deal with an invasion by Space Aliens.

Now, you might be tempted to think this was a joke. I certainly did, until I read another story in which an ex-CIA Agent confirmed that the Roswell, New Mexico incident of 1947 was in fact a crashed Alien space craft, and included dead Alien bodies.

This could turn the year's election on its head...but not in the way you might think.

In 2008 the prestigious journal, National Enquirer, reported that Barack Obama had wrapped up important support from space Aliens during his Primary battle against Hilary Clinton.

Why? Why would the space Alien Politicos back Obama? Had Bill Clinton squandered his Alien support while he was President?

And if Obama has the support of extra-terrestrials, can we really trust him to handle the coming invasion?

This is not to suggest that Mitt Romney would be better. I agree with the 65% who do not trust Mitt Romney to respond adequately when staring down Alien photon torpedoes.

So, what are we to make of all this? Are we trapped? Are we doomed to re-elect a President who may already be in cahoots with those who are about to invade us from space? Is our only option a starched technocrat who will probably be anti-space-Alien only until it helps his career to become pro-space-Alien?

These are rhetorical questions, dear readers. I do not have the answers.

The game may already be over.

Does anyone know how Ron Paul feels about space Aliens?

Hm? He IS one!?


Dennis Kucinch?

Never mind.

-Peter Wick
July 12, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

#6 - Violence - June, 2012

I hung out with some relatively new friends last Friday night; drinks at a bar on Venice Beach, California; a healthy dose of happy drunkeness (less by me than by a girl who, for her sake and mine, I will call 'Mary'), a late-night run onto the beach was a celebration of life... it's simplest form, fun, wondrous, mysterious, but mostly just fun.

It took my mind off the events of 2 weeks earlier. A little more than a year ago, during the first handful of months of 2011, I was in a Seattle stretch of what was basically a 5-year-long Seattle-Los Angeles split of my time. I became a semi-regular, during those months, at a little cafe and bar a block from where I lived, called CAFE RACER. I call myself a 'semi-regular' because, compared to the real 'regulars,' I was a pretender. There were several good people who almost seemed to live there.

I made a point of showing up when Amy was bartending - and not just because she seemed to erase a drink or 2 from my tab at the end of the night. I would arrive at 7 or 8 in the evening as Len, the Chef, was closing the kitchen. I really just wanted to hang out with Amy, but she was working, so when Len would pull up a bar stool and settle into his post-shift beer, we struck up a comfortable friendship.

Len is a good guy, quit a computer job to go to culinary school. I overheard him once telling Kurt, the owner of Cafe Racer, that he had been looking on Craigslist for Chef positions in Hawaii. Two weeks ago, on Wednesday, May 30th, about 5pm, I received the first of several messages from friends in Seattle. A mentaly ill gunman who had been kicked out of Cafe Racer for being obnoxious and disorderly, came back and shot 5 people.

Len took 2 bullets, luckily missing his spine and vital organs. Bleeding, he called 911. The mentaly ill gunman later took his own life.

Things were confusing that night. No one had all the names of the victimns. I had to ask Amy, via text message, the very unusual question, "Hey, you haven't been shot have you." I sent the message as the horrifying thought crossed my mind, what if I never hear back? Thankfully she replied. She wasn't there when it happened.

This is difficult to write about, but I am doing it because it happened. There is no escape from this fact. I am also writing about it because it only took 3 days for a different shooting in a different city to replace it in the headlines. First there was a mall shooting in Toronto. This week it was 3 dead at Auburn University...and 4 more in Sacramento.

As I write this Len is still in the hospital, but doing well. He is the survivor of the Cafe Racer shooting. 4 others are dead.

So many thoughts cross my mind as I sit writing - don't get too preachy (the mentally ill gunman had a concealed weapons permit), don't get too maudlin (real people deal with real tragedies every day somewhere in this world), don't be too selfish (the two people who I knew the best at Cafe Racer are alive).

In the end I just come away with a renewed sense that guns matter. I have grown tired of going to movies where people are shot for sport (just about every action blockbuster ever made). I am relieved when guns are portrayed with some sense of their real impact (check out the D-Day scene that opens Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" again).

In the end I have no real insights, no solutions. I guess it is worthwhile to remember - in the midst of all our planning and ambition and focusing on the future - that right now might be your whole life. Celebrate it. Go for a late night run on a beach somewhere.

And think about Len...wish him a full recovery.
-Peter Wick, June 14, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

5. The Guy Who Saves String - May, 2012

The guy who saves string...A crazy invention from the mind of Woody Allen, from the short pieces he published years ago. The guy who saves string shuffles oddly down the street, mumbling to himself, obsessing over string, how to save it, and how he can find more of it. It is one of those mental images that makes a you laugh the first time you read about it, and nearly every time it pops into your thoughts from then on. So...when I began unpacking a 15-year-old box from my storage space, and pulled from among the stacks of useless old papers, a single piece of string, I realized I had some self-examining to do. Technically it's bigger than string. It's either a very long shoe lace, or the kind of lace you tie swim trunks around your waste with. But let's be honest; it's string...and I saved a box...for 15 years. There are many different reason for saving things: -Reminders of important events in your life. -Ideas jotted down that you might someday carry out. -Things that once influenced or helped shape who you have become. This is a piece of string, though. The only reason I can come up with that might explain why I saved it, is that I was convinced that sometime in the distant future something might desperately need to be tied up. That doesn't help me much. I want to go into denial about this. There are other things in this box from the 1990's that I can't explain: -Empty envelopes... Apparently, on several occasions, I received something in the mail, opened the envelope, took out the contents, and saved the empty envelope. And it isn't as if I opened it carefully, planning to re-use the empty envelope. No, I tore the damn thing open...then saved it. -A Tennis magazine, with Yannik Noah on the cover. At least that is slightly interesting today, since I have been watching his son Joakim play basketball for the Chicago Bulls. That helps a little. Sometimes you save something on gut instinct; Maybe, just maybe, this magazine with this tennis player on the cover will resonate in some unique way in the future. I suppose I was thinking the piece of string would resonate in some unique way someday; "Oh yeah, remember that time when we had the string, and we used it um....tie that....that the other know with this piece of string?: "Yeah, that was awesome." Nope. I have LOTS of self-examining to do. And don't even get me started on the expired old driver's license of an ex-girlfriend... Peter Wick May 14, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

4. Gay Divorce - April, 2012

I have a few friends who have marched in the street over the issue of gay marriage.

When California's Proposition 8 banned gay marriage in the state, one friend in particular - a straight female - joined a crowd of people who shut down Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles.

When she asked why I did not join the march, I said, "I've been married....and divorced. I don't see myself spending a lot of time and energy supporting marriage. Divorce? Maybe."

So, when I read this past week that a lesbian couple, married two years ago in the state of Maryland, were having trouble getting a divorce, I decided it was time to rise up and join the cause.

My position is a simple one: Divorce is a right that no one should be denied. Divorce is one of the great gifts bestowed on us either by a divine creator or, if he doesn't exist, at least by a Divorce Court Judge. It is a gift of importance and great magnitude. No one, rgardless of their sexual orientation, should be denied the right to get the hell out of a dysnfunctional relationship.

Those who say divorce should only be between one man and one woman, have obviously never heard my gay neighbors arguing at 3 in the morning. Technically they are not married, but they sure act like an old married couple.

All of us are created equal. None of us should be denied the right to STAY in a bad relationship if we want to. None should be denied the right to be bored with their partner of 12 years - the inalienable right to go out to dinner out of sheer boredom, to sit numbly over your food brooding over the fact that you've had nothing to say to each other since 2004.

So also should none of us be denied the right to passive-aggressively jab at each other with snarky zingers until the divorce lawyers intervene and try to keep things at least moderately civil.

In short, this lesbian couple must be granted their divorce, and quickly, before expensive plates get broken.

It is the humanitarian thing to do.

Step up to the plate, Maryland.

Grant the divorce.

Do not allow prejudice over sexual orientation to cloud your judgement.

Let these two miserable Ex's walk away from each other, for cryin' out loud!

Peter Wick
April 13, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

3. No More Sexy Girls on Motorcycles, Please - March, 2012

There are certain things about a person, about me anyway, that have to be explained over and over. I don't want to keep explaining these things, but they keep coming up.

It happened again recently with the issue of girls, sexiness, and motorcycles.

I SHOULD think motorcycles are cool. I SHOULD love the ethos of individuality, travel, and power, that a motorcycle represents.

I SHOULD think there is nothing sexier than a sexy girl on a motorcycle.

Certain events mark a person's life, though. There is nothing we can do about certain happenings. They stay with us.

I don't remember exactly how old I was, maybe seven or eight.

We lived about 40 miles outside of Seattle. It was the "country" more or less. We were on 2 acres. The neighbors had 5. An entire 10-acre neighboring stretch had maybe 4 houses on it.

My brother Dan, a couple years older than me, was friends with Mark, who lived in one of the houses down a dirt road. Mark was also older, and I tagged along after them, just wishing I could be as cool as they were. That's your perspective on the world when you're the youngest of a group.

Mark owned a mini-bike - a small motorized machine that he would buzz around on. Living with so much open space invited it. The fact that he owned and rode what was bascially a miniature motorcycle at such a young age made him the coolest person in the world, I thought. I thought this until he and Dan goaded me into sitting on the damn thing myself.

Mark had created a jump. It was simple, a tilted peice of plywood, rising from ground-level to a height of maybe 3 feet.

Mark and Dan took turns jumping off it. They would rev up the bike, speed toward the plywood ramp, and fly off the high end into the air

They actually took flight. More surprisingly, though, they always managed to land perfectly.

It looked fun.

Deep down I knew that it was the sort of fun that I should just watch, not participate in. But older brothers and older friends have their own ideas, and they wouldn't take no for an answer.

I protested as forcefully as I could, but I was powerless.

Suddenly there I was, on the bike, throttle in my right hand. I had no idea how to use the brake.

The thing took off, faster than I could control

Steering it at all was a crap-shoot

I was arriving at the plywood ramp at the wrong angle. I hit the bottom of the ramp in a panic.

The front wheel lurched to the left.

I drove - tumbled, really - off the side of the ramp, wheel first, into the grass.

I had no control, and no idea what was happening.

All I remember is grass and wheels and an engine on top of me and a screaming sound, that seemed to be coming from ME.

I scrambled to my feet and ran. I just ran.

I had to get away as far and as fast as I could.

I heard someone yelling. It might have been Mark yelling after me about what I had just done to his bike.

I didn't care. All I cared about was distance. I had to be as far away from that machine as possible.

So...I apologize.

I apologize to an ex-girlfriend, and to what might have been a would-be girlfriend who were sure they would wow me with their sexiness on a motorcycle.

It was probably true...You are sexy on a motorcycle.

I just can't be a part of that. And yes, I agree, I am almost certainly missing out.
-Peter Wick
March, 14, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2. Cheney Emails Declassified - Feb. 2012

Ten years after the fact, the CIA has declassified documents from the first years of the Bush-Cheney Administration.

While our researchers are still going through the many documents, looking for an actual news item, we came across these emails from the former Vice President, and found them interesting.

March 12, 2001
To All White House Staff: Whoever has been eating my Jolly Ranchers is going to die.

March 14, 2001
To All White House Staff: Listen clowns, you have to stop telling jokes in the hallways about my heart attacks. I am listening to everything!

In case you missed the earlier memo, we are calling them "Heart Attacks" so the public does not get confused. In fact what is happening is that my micro-cell power pack is running low. It makes me twitchy.

March 16, 2001
Attached is a list of staff members I would like to invite on my next hunting trip (Fun! Yeah!?)
[attachment missing from CIA files]

March 17, 2001
In Case of Emergency:
Hi everyone; my inventor - I mean "Doctor" - has informed me that I need to give all key staff members the following instructions, should I suffer a serious "heart attack" in your presence.

Since I do not technically have a "heart" in the strictest sense of the word, please do not panic. Simply follow these instructions, and everything will be fine.

1. At the top of my back, just below the neck, is a small panel. Press the red button, and a door will open on my chest.

2. Inside my chest you will find three plug-in jacks. Use a normal, everyday extension cord. Plug one end into a near-by wall socket, and attach the other end to the red jack in my chest.

Re-charging should take about an hour. Please do not make me do anyinterviews, or talk to the media, until fully charged.

April 7, 2001
To All White House Staff: Very Funny! Ha ha! Tee freakin' Hee!

Did I mention that I am listening to everything!?

So, Bob, David, Sam, Lisa, you are all going hunting with me next week.

Non-negotiabe. And you're going to enjoy it, whether you want to or not.

I'm excited! Getting twitchy just thinking about it.

-Peter Wick
February 14, 2012