Emotional Rescue: Short Takes on Aretha, Catholicism, Casinos, Omarosa, and Other Topics
Today is Thursday, August 16th, 2018. The scattershooting begins….
I woke up to the news Aretha Franklin has died. All her tributes are well deserved and I won’t rehash the outpouring of adoration for this remarkable woman and her immense talent. In my lifetime there have been only two artists who could take any song and their interpretation was certain to improve upon the original. Ray Charles was the first. Aretha Franklin was the second. That’s it. Either master of music could turn the most ordinary song into a rousing chorus of mass elation. Either could take a gospel song, a patriotic anthem, a rock standard — the source didn’t matter — and make it their own sound.
I also can’t resist the temptation to emphasize how Aretha’s passing is yet another blow to real music and genuine talent, which as the years pass seems to be in shorter supply. Elton John, who has been a vociferous critic of modern recording abominations like Autotune for years, hammered this point in his tweet this morning when he wrote: “The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church. Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated – she was one of my favourite pianists.”
R.I.P. Queen of Soul.
I can’t even fucking comprehend this.
Yesterday, we learned 300 Catholic priests sexually assaulted more than 1,000 children. But here’s the real shocker — these terrible acts happened in just the state of Pennsylvania!
One state! Hundreds of religious pedophiles. A thousand victims.
We can presume that state borders don’t stop pedophilia. If these horrors are happening in Pennsylvania, one can reasonably suspect there are probably just as many predators and their victims in the other 49 states, and many foreign countries. In other words, this is likely just scratching the surface.
Something must be done. Now. Something should have been done decades ago, but a religious institution that’s been directly responsible for more misery in the world arguably than any other entity remains virtually untouchable. Where is law enforcement? Where’s the church’s morality? Where’s our collective outrage? These buildings should be shut down and sold off.
Indeed, the hundreds of billions in assets of the Catholic Church, so much of it attained by theft, fear, and deception should be stripped away and distributed to the victims of this awful mind-warping institution.
All organized religions are corals and smokescreens. It’s time to stand up to our mass ignorance and collective denial.
The casino industry is in trouble. It’s no longer growing. The numbers are stagnant, and demographic shifts in coming years will only make problems worse.
Casinos did this entirely to themselves. Corporate greed. Over-expansion. Mass saturation. Parking fees. Retail shakedowns. Absurd resort fees. Less bang for the gambling buck. Every gambler knows this. Every tourist realizes this.
All the major casinos in Las Vegas saw their revenues drop in the first half of the year — this decline despite a so-called “boom economy.” Earlier this week, Resorts World, the new $4 billion mega-casino that recently opened in New York’s Catskills, reported losing $58 million in its first five months of operation. The future looks even bleaker since new casinos are scheduled to open and/or expand in nearby states Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
I never thought I’d write these words but — we have enough casinos already.
Except in Texas, of course, where there should be casinos. Smart policy would be to close about a third of the casinos in the saturated Northeast and shift them to Texas. Of course, this won’t happen. Stupidity is epidemic — in corporate casino culture, in politics, and certainly among fearful little minds.
I don’t have much good to say about the flash-in-the-political-fryer, Omarosa, Donald Trump‘s latest distraction-de-jour. Yeah, she’s a gold-digging, attention-craving nobody. She’s probably lied on many occasions. She’s utterly worthless.
Trouble is, President Orange Idiot hired her. Multiple times. He plucked her from obscurity to be on his awful faux-reality show, “The Apprentice,” then after she proved utterly incapable of working with anyone else, next she was brought in personally by Trump to one of the highest-paying adviser positions in the White House.
Yeah, Trump created this beast. The moron hired her. The idiot made her relevant, again. Now, she’s turning on the ringmaster and trying to create her own circus.
Yet another scandal. The backstabbing couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy.
Please. Go the fuck away!
Finally, a few shorter more personal thoughts:
— A friend of mine, George Wattman, has become a beekeeper. A few months ago, he bought some hives and now raises bees. A big part of his motivation was doing something good for the environment. Bees are essential to life and our survival. This is such a good thing. We need more bees. We need more people like George.
— I wish more of my friends would run for public office. Even if it’s just a small position. I realize politics opens candidates up to scrutiny and criticism. Many years ago, I ran for a city council seat, and it was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. It’s probably too late to do anything this year in 2018, but I urge my friends and colleagues to get involved and consider doing more to improve our communities.
— In that vein, it was pleasing to have lunch with my pal Nick Christenson, a few days ago. During our discussion, Nick informed me he’s volunteered as the chairman of a progressive organization intent on turning out a big vote in Nevada’s congressional district #3. He’s adamant that this midterm election coming up in November is absolutely critical to our future. If you are upset by what you’re witnessing on so many levels, be sure and register to vote. Better yet, get involved.
— If someone were to ask me what’s the best evidence of an open mind and the most reliable indication of being a voice worth listening to, it’s philosophical and moral consistency. Most social media interaction has become hopelessly siloed to an echo chamber of perpetual self-aggrandizement. Want to know who to listen to and learn from? Look for people who occasionally break away from conventional expectation and tribal instincts and defend ideas, people, and principles thought to be outliers. An open mind is a gift. A closed mind is a curse.
— Finally, I’m eternally grateful for all the kind thoughts and interactions my posts receive on Facebook. I wish I could thank each one of you, even those who disagree with many of my ideas. In fact, pressure testing of ideas is vitally important. So, I owe many of those who ask questions a debt of gratitude. All I can say is — thank you. Please do keep posting comments.
Until next time. Thanks for reading.