Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Where Do I Begin? Part 1

Where Do I Begin?

Arming Yourself for
the Economic Changes Ahead

Part 1

The other day I was watching a local program where several professionals were being interviewed about the effects that the economy has had on their lives. Some where very high ranking business people who had been laid off due to the economy and had to take much lesser positions where they could find them. One such man was a bank president who had to take a job running a flower shop for far less than he had been making per year. He’s actually one of the lucky ones, for many people can’t find ANY kind of work. I saw a letter written to an editor of a national newspaper where the person could not believe that people couldn’t find work. He claimed that his car dealership was strapped for employees and couldn’t find any. I chuckled when I saw this, I know what it takes to sell cars, but still the salesmen sing the same old song of “anyone can do it”. It’s tough to find work because so many people are applying for the same jobs in fields that they have experience in and have credible backgrounds that they can rely on. Businesses searching for employees are looking outside the area of experience.

But let’s say for instance you have been out of work for about a year and a half now, maybe you have sent out 350 resumes in your field, and perhaps you have had 30 interviews, but someone else has been picked. As the form letters now go, “another candidate” has been chosen. It could very well be that the employment world of the last 50 years or so is now over with. Dad or Mom may have pent 40 years with the same company, but that doesn’t happen anymore, in fact, living by the “seat of your pants” has become the norm in our economic society. The days of employer loyalty to an employee are also over with. You could be replaced on a whim at any time.

Going With The Flow

So what’s the new paradigm for work and surviving in these turbulent times? Businesses all around my area, and it’s a nice, high end area where I live, are closing and going out of business. Brick and mortar stores are being defeated by some great unseen force. The creative community also has a real problem with this force. Photographers, Graphic Designers and Video Production alike are also flooded with amateurs who have the equipment for production and work cheaper than a professional. The internet is to blame for much of this, as major companies like newspapers are now going under for lack of advertising dollars due to the ubiquitous existence of computers in the home. We may still have newspapers around for the next 50 years or so, but they will be specialized entities. Your grandchildren will never see a New York Times or a Los Angeles Times, and possibly no USA Today either. Back in the 1960’s when TV produced a new television show, like say, “Bewitched”, the living room was set up with the television as the main focus of the room. Future TV shows will no doubt have the computer in that place, that is, if TV remains anything like it is today. Who really knows where we are going with today’s technology? What will it be like?

For you and me and those generations to come, we had better come up with a game plan that moves with the future as quickly as it changes. The answer to this is of course, education and knowledge. If I am to adapt to a continuously changing environment than the tools for adapting are paramount in my study. The world still moves on its legs of business. Business is what moves the world. So you had better be prepared with the axe, chisel and jackhammer of business. Your kids and their kids now need this information simply for basic survival.

That’s what this ongoing portion of the blog will deal with. Where do I begin? What information will we all need to acquire in order to become recession proof in our own individual lives. We’ll being in part 2. See you there.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: The Old Liberal Three Step

The Old Liberal Three Step
by J.J. Jackson

Anyone who has spent any time at all arguing with a more liberal minded person on issues relating to the powers of the federal government knows the old Liberal Three Step. The dance has been around for the better part of the last century and is the tried and true way for people who have no respect for individual liberty, limited government and our Constitution to justify any and every duty they want government to undertake. Once again we are watching this dance being performed over the issue of Obamacare.

The first step in the Liberal Three Step is to cite the "general Welfare" clause of Constitution whenever a liberal has a "great idea" he or she wishes to implement. They claim that the "general Welfare" clause is such a broad grant of power, because it says the word "general", that it gives the federal government near unlimited authority to do whatever Congress or Presidents can dream up. Of course this flies in the face of the truth not to mention the Tenth Amendment.

The first argument I heard for Obamacare (socialized medicine) was this "general Welfare" clause argument. And I heard it often. But it is easily shot full of holes.

First of all our founding fathers specifically stated, on numerous occasions, that the "general Welfare" clause was not a broad, carte blanche grant of power to Congress enabling them to pass any law they saw fit. Alexander Hamilton, who is often misquoted and often misrepresented as some sort of screaming big government liberal, said in Federalist 83, "The plan of the convention declares that the power of Congress, or, in other words, of the national legislature, shall extend to certain enumerated cases. This specification of particulars evidently excludes all pretension to a general legislative authority, because an affirmative grant of special powers would be absurd, as well as useless, if a general authority was intended."

Hamilton further discussed this later on during the debate over the concept of a national bank saying, "the foundation of the Constitution is laid on this ground: 'That all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved for the States, or to the people.' Whence it is meant to be inferred, that Congress can in no case exercise any power not included in those not enumerated in the Constitution."

James Madison, who is considered the father of the Constitution and the preeminent authority on the document for his time, said in both Federalist 41 and 45 that Congressional powers under the "general Welfare" clause were limited. In the later document he explicitly called them, "few and defined."

Thomas Jefferson in his 1817 letter to Albert Gallatin said on the issue, "Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated."

Further, it should be noted, that since this is what our founders understood the term to mean and since there has been no amendment to our Constitution which changes this meaning then we are stuck with that interpretation. Anyone see health care/insurance anywhere in the enumerated powers? Nope? Oh well! There goes the "general Welfare" clause argument down the drain.

Having failed at the "general Welfare" argument, liberals then jump to the second step of their dance. They haul out the Interstate Commerce clause. This clause states Congress has the power, "To regulate Commerce ... and among the several States." Liberals claim this gives them a broad regulatory authority to regulate anything that might be construed as interstate business activity. This clause, they claim, gives them the power to institute Obamacare on the grounds that health insurance companies are interstate entities engaging in commerce between several states.

But now let us return once again to the founding fathers and see what they meant without equivocation. In Federalist 22, Alexander Hamilton said plainly that taxes imposed by individual states, at their discretion without regulation, on goods traveling across their territories from other states would resemble the "constant trammels" of the German empire where such acts had rendered major avenues of commerce "almost useless."(see 4th paragraph) In Federalist 42 James Madison said of the commerce clause that its power was for, "the relief of the States which import and export through other States, from the improper contributions levied on them by the latter." (see 11th paragraph) In Federalist 44 Madison again states that the commerce clause regulates only, "the power of the States over imports and exports." (see 8th paragraph)

In 1878 Madison noted at the Federal Convention that the federal power to deal with interstate commerce was limited. He noted that the issue at hand was a state taxing the products of neighboring states that were either to be sold within their boundaries or that were simply passing through them to other states. Such acts would thus inhibit commerce and the free flow of goods. He said, "it would be unjust to the States whose produce was exported by their neighbours, to leave it subject to be taxed by the latter. This was a grievance which had already filled N. H. Cont. N. Jery. Del: and N. Carolina with loud complaints, as it related to imports, and they would be equally authorized by taxes ... on exports."

In the same notes and on Tuesday, the 21st of August, 1787 Mr. Elseworth said that the power of Congress to make regular trade between the states would, "protect them against each other." Further that, "Should this not be the case, the attempts of one to tax the produce of another passing through its hands, will force a direct exportation and defeat themselves"

Here again we see what the Founders meant by the Commerce Clause. They meant it to be a way to prevent states from infringing upon the commerce of their neighbors; neighbors who either wished to do business within their borders or with other states that would require the travel of goods of one state to pass through them before reaching their final destination in yet another state. This application of the Commerce Clause is not nearly broad enough to allow liberals to succeed in this argument that the Commerce Clause allows them to regulate businesses that happen to do business in multiple states.

So liberals sigh and move to the third step of their dance. This third step is to invoke the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. The Supremacy Clause is Article VI, Clause 2 and states, "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof ... shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

The liberal doing his or her little dance claims that because Obamacare is now the law that it is de facto protected by the Supremacy Clause and must be abided by. This is a silly argument to everyone but the liberal making it of course. Logically if Congress does not have the power to pass a law under the Constitution but passes a law anyway should it be considered protected by the Constitution? Liberals, of course, say enthusiastically yes. Of course liberals have always been for arbitrary and capricious government.

Based on this logic however certain conundrums arise. First of all think of a bank robber. Robbing banks is an illegal act. But if someone robs a bank and commits this illegal act does he get to keep the ill gotten gains of his actions? If you apply liberal thought processes protecting Obamacare under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution then you are left with no other choice but to say that the bank robber's actions are now legitimate because they have happened.

It is pretty simple. An illegal act is undertaken. That illegal act is successful. So, therefore, that illegal act becomes legitimate by default. Yeah, I know, it sounds so stupid when broken down. But that is in a nut shell what liberals are saying in using the Supremacy Clause to argue in favor of Obamacare.

If tomorrow the Congress were to pass a law reinstituting race-based slavery in the United States, in clear violation of the 13th Amendment, would we as citizens just sit back and say, "Oh well ... its the law you know!"

Hell no! We would not do that.

Of course like any dance, the old Liberal Three Step repeats itself. After having gone through three steps and having their arguments thoroughly debunked and shattered the dancer returns to their home position and begin step one all over again. So liberals start back with the "general Welfare" clause argument again which will be debunked again, then move on to the Commerce Clause argument which will be debunked again, and then return to the Supremacy Clause argument only to also have that debunked again. Then they will wash, rinse and repeat as needed hoping beyond hope that at some point if they keep saying the same discredited arguments again and again eventually these arguments will magically become true.

It will not become true. But they hope to be able to change that reality by a sheer force of will and this is what continues to drive them.

About the Author

J.J. Jackson is the Pittsburgh Conservative Examiner for and owner of American Conservative Daily. He is also the lead designer for The Right Things - Conservative Political T-shirts and his weekly articles can be red at Liberty Reborn.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Ecoquest Business

Ecoquest Business Opportunity

I watched Ecoquest from a nearby window, so to speak, as a friend of mine actually got involved. I will say up front that their top item, a space age air purifier, is a darn good product. They have many other health related products too, and they all are marketed as MLM. Fortunately, the company has been a round a while, so you have a pretty good idea that they aren’t going away tomorrow. I’ve had that happen, years ago I bought some ATM machines to place in stores, right before the company got shut down by the Justice Department for violations. But Ecoquest seems a stable outfit.

The problem is with the process and, of course the MLM. For those of you who don’t know, in MLM (Multi level Marketing) the system is flawless. One person begats two, two begat four, four begat eight and so on, as a down line is created. This is a great system. It should make millionaires of everyone. But it doesn't. The system is run by flawed people. If you don’t listen to the MLM purveyors, you know that it’s extremely difficult to get to ten down line people, and then the bottom seven are always being changed out again and again. People don’t always work at the same level and with the same competency for making MLM run like a smooth machine. You need to know this, before you pluck down your hard earned cash.

Years ago, I knew some folks who were in Amway. You know these guys, the ones with the circles and the white board. Years later I ran into them and asked them how the Amway was going? Well, they weren’t millionaires and had long given up on the home meetings. This is common, I have found. I have not met anyone who lives down the block from me who is in MLM and owns big houses and boats and vacations six months out of the year. You meet these people at the seminars. You get them on the phone. But never just randomly do you run into them. And I live in a high end entertainment neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Well, back to Ecoquest more specifically. A great product, but as with anything, cost! cost! cost! If you don’t have capital you can’t make these business models run. The sales people never tell you that, they just want to sign you up. But if you listen to all the sales chatter and the handling objections and sales resistance talk, which is all it is... then you will crash yourself. Can you sell? Have you worked a job where it was commission only and been able to make a living? Salesmen will all tell you anyone can sell, but that’s simply not true. Nor is it true that products sell themselves. But salesmen will never say that.

Ecoquest’s air purifier is about $750.00. There is a lot of up line involvement so it’s divided up as much as possible. But, have you ever bought an air purifier for almost $800? It doesn’t help that other in store brands are like $75. This product MUST be sold. Sorry. The concept is to have the customer place the machine in their home for a week or so to see if they like it enough to keep it. Now the machine I saw worked pretty well, as far as I was able to tell. But who stays home all day? Some claims my friend was told would happen when displaying the machine, did not in fact happen, and he was told, “Well, that doesn’t always happen.” A good point since most sales will tell you that the examples used to sell you the product or service is not a typical result. Your results may vary. Which makes me wonder, how they can sell me anything at all??? If you can’t sell me the typical result.... why should I buy??? Freak things happen all the time, sometimes you hit lucky seven, but not everyone does. How can you sell to people with the lucky seven hit when it rarely happens? Do you see what I mean?

Anyway, the machine stopped working after a few months, probably because it was an old display model. No one ever bought one of his machines, the price sent them screaming for the exits. You have to be able to sell, people. And what’s worse, California passed a law against selling anything that creates ozone. This machine only put out about .02% of ozone which was considered relatively safe, but then the machine was replaced with another model the next year, one which did not have any ozone. Huh??? Consumer Reports also slammed the product along with the Government, Ecoquest’s reply was that the Government and Consumer Reports just got it wrong, they didn’t understand the technology. But, changing the machine to comply kind of makes you wonder, if what they say is true.

More power to you brother, if this is your thing. Make it work for you! This is just one man's take and there are many pro and con on the internet for you to find. Just keep one thing in mind for me. Remember that buying a distributorship or home business is NOT the same as getting a new job. You don't buy in and then begin to get paid. A business is and should be treated the same way you would treat a tomato plant.... buy your seeds for one plant, then feed it, let it grow, feed it, let it grow, and then when it is firm enough in itself, get a second one. But all of that will cost you something time and again before you begin to reap returns. That's the natural law of things.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Batman: Under the Red Hood

Batman: Under the Red Hood

(2010) Pg-13
75 min. Warner Home Video

Genre: Action & Adventure, Animation

Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, Neil Patrick Harris, John DiMaggio, Jason Isaacs, Wade Williams, Alexander Martella, Vincent Martella

Director: Brandon Vietti
Screenwriter: Judd Winick

Back in the early 90’s there was a truly great Batman cartoon produced by Warner Brothers that managed to “hit the nail on the head” in getting the concept of Batman correct for a mass audience. The executive producer, Bruce Timm, has been the gate keeper for the animated character ever since. It’s a good thing too, as the animated movies take what is now a classic production and expand in directions, both in expository and in 2-D animation, that the TV series simply had neither the time or advantage of modern tech to include.

Warner Premiere’s Batman: Under the Red Hood is perhaps the most well structured and thoughtfully written installment in the now building pantheon of animated features which build on the past television series. More adult oriented than a Saturday morning cartoon type installment, and darker in its overtones, the convolution begins with story line from around 1951 with the criminal who would become the Joker, the death of the second Robin (Jason Todd), and then continues with the sudden spree of vigilantism being performed on Batman’s turf by someone known as the Red Hood. Students of Batman lore will see the that the light at the end of the tunnel is a oncoming train.

The Red Hood is a ruthless killer who begins regulating the drug trade of Gotham City while muscling in on the criminals who have the territory scoped out for now. A criminal called the Black Mask, who looks a lot like Captain America’s Red Skull, isn’t too crazy about the Hood’s ability to move around his town decapitating members of the Mask’s organization and plugging up the business works. Logically, knowing the Joker and his involvement with “Red Hood” history, Batman heads to Arkham Asylum in typical investigative commencement. When the Joker is found to still be maleficently impotent, Batman heads in a new investigative direction, a more direct one and the first meeting with the Red Hood, with assistance from Nightwing (the first Robin) “smells” like three day old fish. Even the casual fans will not need to be told that Batman is pursuing a criminal with a special “homegrown” edge.

The Red Hood knows his way around Batman’s inner torment too, and this makes him a little more dangerous than usual. He seems to know how to throw Bats a few psychological time bombs as well as some physical ones, and there are quite a few, by addressing old wounds that deal with his history of creating the Joker, failing to save Jason, what Robin’s both present and past have meant to Batman as well as Batman’s personal commitment to Gotham City as a whole. The final scene is a real nail biter, having been built into with mental, emotional and also some physical cache that is pulled off with intelligence and style that can only come from a studio with professional chops that both knows it audience and respects its need for validation.

Action sequences abound and are well thought out ahead of time as all characters involved actually seem to be worthy of field maneuvers on the fly that remind one of classic chess moves along side the bruising physical action. When you say Warner Brother’s animation these days, I doubt that Bugs Bunny is the first thing that comes to mind anymore. Voice acting is well delivered and amazingly directed also. There’s no Kevin Conroy this time for the voice of Batman, but Geenwood gives us a convincing turn and shows the world that Batman is a voice that takes special control and thankfully can be done by more than one actor. Ackles Red Hood is at first a little jarring, but once you get into the story it becomes understood why certain choices were made. It’s the Joker here that surprises. There is no Mark Hamil around this time either, done with great controlled panache by DiMaggio of “Bender” fame instead. I missed the wild abandon of Hamil’s Joker, but on further study have come to see the directoral choices made in the story telling this time as being correct in presenting a Joker who seems a bit more sedate for most of the action. He does, of course, never fail to disappoint in proving to all concerned by the end of the movie his loose cannon insanity which makes him the top tier villain that he is.

It is quite obvious that the movie has a whole back history booklet that is attached to the main story line here, and this gives a heavy air of importance and reality that viewers rarely get in a vehicle which is timed out at say, 20 minutes, for commercial television. Overall a top flight production on all counts which deserves more than just straight to video release, I believe. Not for kids, to be sure, but not offensive in a solicitous way either. This is the thinking man’s Batman. And that final scene, what a doozy!

5/5 Stars

Friday, August 20, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: EWI/Robert Allen No Money Down Real Estate

EWI/Robert Allen "No Money Down Real Estate"

It was quite a few years ago when I first read one of Robert Allen’s books, and it was quite the read. I remember feeling as though it was for people who had more ability than myself. Today, though, I do feel as though if I gave it the hard work it requires, that indeed it would be possible to pull it off. Well, it is a lot of work. It’s a lot of unconventional work, and I think that is where the rub begins.

There was a time when the Robert Allen people came into town for a one time, one day seminar and offered you a three day seminar for another time. Naturally, of course, as anyone who has gone to these things can tell you, there is a lot of selling. What gets me, and I find this a bit amusing, is that you can practically see the yellow legal pad full of lists of sales resistance and objections throughout the day long presentations in one of these meetings. The single day meetings are just a sales pitch. You won’t learn anything about the business, they know better than to let the cat out of the bag on this one. You’ll receive only a small share of the concept, just enough to wet your appetite. Then, at the end of the day, they let you know that the three day course they are offering in order to become one of their associates is usually $3995.00, but, of course, if you join today, it’s only $1995.00.

The company has gotten smart about this, and I guess the economy has forced their hand, but now the three day seminars are free. And I went to one of these. The thing is though, as they really do reveal a lot more about what it is that they do, it’s really just another upsell. This time, the upsell is more like $15,000.00 at the end of the three days. I suppose if you are really motivated, and know you can do this sort of thing, then more power to you. I would never want to dissuade anyone from something they feel they can accomplish. But what is it exactly that you are doing? That’s the real issue. The presenters are very sharp, they handle the audience with power and grace, and obviously they are deep into the process. I applaud them for their professionalism. I do not agree with the core value of this program, however.

What’s it really about? What is required is for you to go looking high and low for desperate and on the edge sellers, who have no real estate broker. They don’t like realtors, I think it’s because realtors operate within the real estate broker system, and that’s a "no no". This might be a 1 out of 100 job, and still you might have to wait for the 1 seller to reach a panic state before you can make the deal. And that’s the rub, for me at least, because it promotes a kind of “vulture” mentality which waits for the carcass to go almost belly up before the buyer swoops in.

So, you make a deal, to sell the house for the seller. Then you increase the price arbitrarily, whatever makes sense to the training. When you sell the house, you just take the profit for yourself. More specifically, you have a house worth $20,000, a desperate seller, and you increase the sale price to $26,000, sell it and pocket your $6,000. This is all done outside the regulations. Now, it’s not illegal, they have been doing it for thirty years or so. But you have to wonder how moral it is. All you did was make deals and re-arrange situations over payments and ownerships, all without banks and real estate sales people, depending on the desperate condition of your individual seller, and you pocket $6,000. It’s possible to do, .....but is it right?

The speaker I saw was quite proud of the fact that he often just made things up in order to manipulate the situation for events to head in the course that would be most lucrative for himself, all within the law, of course. But, I had to wonder, if I had joined up, how long would it be before imaginary manipulations became reserved for myself?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: No Going Home, An Interview With The Homeless Part 2

No Going Home
Part 2

An Interview With The Homeless

John worked as a taxi driver in New York City for over a decade before becoming disenchanted with the “living inside of a pinball machine” existence of the big city and he hopped a greyhound bus headed west. After ending up in Southern California he landed a job as a 7-11 night clerk. What he didn’t expect was the clientèle that frequented these kinds of haunts in the middle of the night. All too often the customers would grab beer and snacks and just walk out. There were also a few hold-ups at gun point over things such as a submarine sandwich or a bag of donuts.

“I could have been killed over nothing,” John tells me shaking his head in confusion. “So I got the hell out of there.

In 1996 he moved to Santa Monica but has only been able to find part time work. “It’s hard to find anything here,” he admits. “If I had known it was like this, I would have stayed where I was.”

John was now one of the huge hordes of single men who are homeless on the streets of Santa Monica. Statistics show the majority of homeless are single men with no families and no employment. The total of Los Angeles homeless is around 90,000 and a big section of that is ensconced in Santa Monica. A huge number if you consider that a football stadium can seat about 66,000 spectators.

He was at the time commuting from a mattress store where he was earning $9 dollars an hour, part time, from the area in which he now lives, but the bus trips every day take almost two hours each way. The cost took huge bites from his salary which was about the same as he makes from welfare now. Santa Monica was cracking down on the deluge of homeless men and women who peppered the streets and choked the third street promenade, turning away many customers who would otherwise spend money in the over priced, affluent area. Northridge is like small town America in comparison and sometime in 2007, after sleeping on the streets for a year, he was laid off from the mattress store. Another invisible victim of the mass recession.

“I was at first sleeping on the corner in a sleeping bag, and then I started to feed the stray cats. I built them some homes and then decided I needed one too. So I built this tent.”

There were no stray cats to feed in Santa Monica, he couldn’t find any. The cats here in Northridge disappear during the day and no one knows where they go. After some time of taking care of the kitties, he ran into an entire society of people who do the same. Feral cat activists will donate food to John so he can take care of the “lost boys” of the cat world.

One person who is a feral cat defender and supporter of John’s work, has told me by phone that John is really a very kind hearted man. “He takes a real offense at the state of forgotten cats and people who don’t have much.” It was when John was ticketed by the railroad company for pitching his tent on the property that his defender became enraged. “They don’t care about anything but money. If John were to die today, they would simply call the coroner and have his stuff trashed. It would be all over before you knew it.”

In 1880 the railroad was such a problem that newspaper reporters and settlers to the area were convinced that it represented corporate greed and political corruption that was taking over the country. That’s 1880! The attitudes of the railroads all across the country towards locals was so prevalent that it even inspired movies like Once Upon a Time In The West.

A few months ago the railroad sent a Union Pacific police officer to John’s tent. These men are fully commissioned and work with local, state and federal agencies, so I am told by those who know. They were alerted to John’s presence by the railroad tracks by local businesses and citizens.

“While we are certainly concerned for the homeless,” I am informed by email. “We certainly have to look out for the health and welfare of all citizens and businesses in the area. The presence of someone trespassing on the railroad’s land poses a dire threat and danger to everyone.”

According to John, “The police officer was not listening to anything I had to say. He seemed to hate poor people. I explained to him why I am here several times and he turned a deaf ear to me.”

John was then told that if he did not leave within three days that he would be ticketed. He was then given a summons to appear in court in a three counts criminal case: Lodging without permission, trespass on rail property and general trespass. The courts biggest concern is for the health and well being of the surrounding citizenry, and this is a misdemeanor crime, so says the courts.

The local councilman also states that there have been consistent complaints to his office about the man living in a tent behind the store just a block or so away from the councilman’s office. The office would not say just who had made those calls, since all information must be kept confidential.

A staff member of the office visited John also, and during the visit referred him to some services that could assist him. The councilman’s office repeatedly states that its concern is for both John and the public. Not a short time later the matter was then considered to be a county problem and no longer a case that could be handled by the councilman’s office.

A long time real estate assessor tells me that if indeed it is a county problem, then the Railroad cannot legally serve trespassing documents to John based on the very spot he has chosen to live. “Because of the flood channel below him,” the assessor states. “John is not on Railroad property.”

When John went to court that day, several people who had taken up his cause also showed up to provide the court with the homework on property ownership vs. county land that the assessor had discovered. The prosecutor was taken aback and befuddled to see the evidence. Evidence that should have been basic investigative work for any prosecution office. The prosecutor asked for a continuance.

John has been defending himself since his court lawyer told him to just plead guilty to trespassing and get on with his life. John still faces trial in the near future and the prosecutor’s office has yet to respond to the legal land ownership evidence. There has been nothing but back and forth between all offices concerned and the case is stalled until someone can discover if John has broken any laws at all.

How this all began is a real mystery though, since newspapers have also gotten into the fray. They have found that those so called businesses that complained about John are all smoke, as no one will repeat the often chanted mantra of the system that local businesses complained. In fact, many told the papers that they have no problem with John at all. Most local employees and citizens didn’t even know he was behind the store.

John says that ever since the local mall sold space to several high profile retailers that his tent has been visited often by police, security guards and three people who flashed fake police ID’s and then messed with his belongings. He filed a crime report with the police but was ignored.

Investigating the incident has been difficult to do since no one knows who has jurisdiction. So the impersonators get off scott free. The local police have repeatedly offered city services to John but he has refused to take them. Admittedly, the police say, the complaints they get are about the cats he feeds, not about John. “His personal behavior has been quiet and reserved,” the police say.

PATH, People Assisting the Homeless, has said, “The system is failing to respond to John’s needs in the proper fashion. Finding him a place to live is the answer, not wrangling over who’s property he is on.”

According to PATH, the longer a person stays on the street the more emboldened they become as to remaining there. Even if John loses in court, he will still be back on the street somewhere, and probably the whole process will start all over again with a new group of people.

During our last midnight run to feed cats, John and I stop at a McDonald’s and he offers to treat me. I decline and he declines to eat for himself. “I’m like this,” he tells me. “Because my father was abusive. He would come at me with a stick for the littlest things. He thought I was lazy.” He then takes a long moment to stare unfocused out of the window. “I can’t shake it. It’s just the way it is.”

“What about you, John?” I ask him. “What are YOU responsible for?”

He perks up and says, “The cats.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: No Going Home, An Interview With The Homeless

No Going Home

An Interview With The Homeless

Seven days ago a man known only as “John” walked out of a court hearing for trespassing on railroad property so he could return to his “area” and feed his stray cats that roam the neighborhood in a tree lined area of Northridge in the San Fernando Valley.

“Cats have no reason to be hungry,” explains John, who although a foreigner, speaks English like a college professor. “Cats love their life, like people should. They never worry about not being better than they are. They’re cats. Its enough.”

Only a few hours ago, during the usual scorching heat of the valley, John had sat in his tent near a lonely stretch of railroad, quiet and weed riddled, listening to the news on the radio. The radio blasts its report across the seemingly forgotten stretch of rail tracks which seem almost forlorn by any train that may have once come this way. The radio reports on the death of a famous star, John looks off into the distance at the rails that go on and on and seem to only come together somewhere at the bottom of the crest of mountains that surround the entire valley.

“Jeeze, that’s so sad,” he finally chokes out in a light whisper. “We were born on the same day. He dies, and I’m still here.”

As the sun sets and the heat of the day begins to abate, there is a brief respite as gentle breezes begin to announce the oncoming cool of the desert night. He quickly forgets the harassment of the legal system and the death of a famous person as kitty cats begin to seemingly show up from some hidden dimension that they alone are aware of.

John has an old blue mountain bike that he attaches three or four old plastic grocery bags to in which he loads lots of cat food. He generally walks the bike, every night, for about six or seven hours, up and down the back streets of Northridge giving to the only creatures he knows that ask for nothing, demand nothing, harass him about nothing, they just simply “are”.

I offer to give him a ride around the streets instead, my only real contribution I can handle myself at the moment, and John agrees. “Thanks, it makes it easier, “ he tells me with sorrowful eyes that have spots and specks in their white areas that move me to distraction. Though I never mention it.

He sits next to me in my car, ripe as a trash can full of fruit left out in the midday sun and it’s all I can do not loose my lunch. It’s not a revelation I am proud to admit. He wears a long coat, which once had stuffing inside of it that made longitudinal puffs from head to toe, but now only bares tears and curious burn marks where long lost stuffing once found its own type of liberty long, long ago. He has on a green suit coat and grey slacks that do little to hide the complete lack of any leg volume beneath their obviously smeared fabric patterns. Beneath the coat is a v-neck t-shirt that has not been washed in so long I hate to even make a guess as to its current age. He is bald except for a ring of wild white hair around his crest, but the hood of his puffy coat is functional enough to help with the cold of the evening.

It’s rather late in the night when we return to the car after a cat feeding episode and I absent mindedly turn on the car radio. In the disk player is an old Stephen Curtis Chapman album I still like, and the song His Eyes has just begun. John stares straight ahead, he seems fixated on the lyrics.

His eyes are always upon you,
His eyes never close in sleep,
And no matter where you go you will always be,
In his eyes.

The song ends and John seems shocked and saddened. “I haven’t heard that song in a long, long time.” He wistfully morns. “I hear lots of hateful stuff on the radio these days, lots of deep, dark voices that really can’t sing. The beats drive me crazy. Just crazy. Why don’t they play more songs like that one anymore?”

He seems concerned with lots of trivia about the world and his own life, much to his own distress. Whether he realizes this or not, is hard to say. Right now he seems very far away from concern over the legal fight with the railroad that wants to kick him out of his makeshift home near the tracks.

The Valley has an unusual way of marking the haves and have nots in that there is a literal “temporal” shift in neighborhoods the further east you go toward the Santa Susanna mountains. Glossy malls and chain stores give way to sudden influxes of small business stores like laundromats and carnecieras. John lives behind a store just over the tracks in a neighborhood that seems to be still reinventing itself, even after all this time since the destructive earthquake of 1994.

On another day, one where the temperature is some 90 degrees plus with no humidity, John tells me he has already fed the seagulls and pigeons, something he does twice a day. His radio is once again blaring the news across the stultified railroad tracks, solitary and cut off from the daily movement of the teaming populace only about 50 yards away at most, yet his home is largely invisible to the daily grind. He turns the radio off and offers me some boxed cookies from the 99 cents store and some fruit juice, the bottle is marked with something like tar and seems to have been kept in a trash bag. I ignore my natural revulsion and appease him, though inwardly I wish I had not.

“I receive a monthly welfare check,” he tells me between cookies. “I get 200 dollars a month, and food stamps.” He continues matter of factly, with little sign of remorse or self effacement. I can’t help but cringe inwardly as I remember my own figures for living requirements here in Los Angeles, those requirements that run along the costs of $3500 a month just to live here comfortably.

“I’m gonna get a job someday,” He tells me. “A man’s gotta work.”

He stares at the cookies in his hand as if they might suddenly jump from his grasp if he doesn’t keep and eye on them. He gets up and grabs an old plastic bathroom stool so we can get out of the sun and sit inside of his tent which he bought at a local store for around $100 dollars. A thick tarp has been thrown over the tent, which is necessary for reflecting the valley’s harsh midday sun. Unfortunately, John has chosen a spot to live on that is cement in every direction. Cement that turns into a baking sheet in the day and an ice trey at night. Nearby there is a railroad spur used at one time to supply goods to local businesses. There are no trees to provide him shade. There is only the long, torturous railroad track that stretches out to forever, visually bobbing and weaving in the afternoon heat, and seems to call to anyone who might pass by to join it in its dissolution.

Inside John’s tent he has a large stained up mattress and a small cage for his cat named Desiderata. He tells me the definition of the word means, “those things desired or wanted.” I don’t mention that I am quite familiar with the term.

Little multi-colored car fresheners shaped like Christmas trees hang openly all over the interior of the tent. On one wall there is a sheet of paper on which is written a poem that has faded with the sun’s rays. I ask him what the poem was since it is now impossible to read.

“It’s something I once liked a lot,” he tells me. That’s all he volunteers.

There are also small Christian crosses and American flags decorating the tent walls with a dizzying randomness. “I’m religious,” he tells me as he gestures to the crosses. “I would rather die hungry than steal.”

The interior of the tent is stacked with his belongings. He literally lives among his possessions. He shaves every day and has a makeshift shower with a gas can that hangs from a support bar that has little holes poked in it to create a shower effect. Not surprisingly, the gas can is bone dry and pushed back toward the rear wall. There is a narrow flood control channel with tumbling water a few yards beneath the small concrete bridge way where he lives, and I can only guess where the facilities are.

He tells me he doesn’t use drugs, he only smokes. He buys the cheapest smokes on sale, and he has made his own filter out of plastic straws and old cigarette filters. He can’t stop smoking even though his father, whom he seems to imply was abusive, always hassled him about it.

John is the fourth child of 11 who once lived somewhere between Jordan and Damascus, he’s not quite sure anymore just where it was or what the town was called. All he can tell me is that his family fled the area during the Six-Day War.

“You know those old Vietnam films you see with all the helicopters? That’s what it was like, complete pandemonium (his word). Tanks and helicopters were shooting at everyone. Everyone was running.”

He learned to speak English in school but didn’t have much stomach for studying. “Besides, my father wanted me to work.” He says with a long breath.

He left school surprisingly, at the seventh grade, and got a job as a cement mixer. He made about $6 dollars a week. “We needed to help my dad,” he explains. “ It was important to support the family. We got sixty cents a week for ourselves, but that used to last a week.”

The 70’s were a turbulent time, but John was a kid with kid concerns. He could then buy a Pepsi with three cents and a pack of cigarettes with the same. When caught smoking he would be beaten and kicked out of the house. He would go to special places in the town where he could meet other kids who had also been banished from the house. Many of the kids in his forgotten land were victims of abuse in the home.

Sometimes these kids would organize and sneak back into their own homes to rifle through the food stores or take some of dad’s money. They would all then go hide someplace and smoke all night.

John says his mother was a good hearted woman who used to feed stray cats. His brother met an American girl and moved to New Jersey, then his brother sent for him to come and live here in America with him.

“That was 1976,” he says, nodding with solicitous affection. “The whole world was different then. That’s when America was truly America.”

more on this next time

Friday, August 13, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: National Dissolution and Soren Kierkegaard Part 4

National Dissolution
and Søren Kierkegaard

Part 4

So let’s finish this blog post. If I ever have to type the name “Kierkegaard” ever again it will be too soon.

As we have said, Existentialism has no real basic tenant or rules, in fact it even disowns it’s own title of “Existentialism.” This idea of allowing for anything and everything all in the name of non-structure has found its way into the church. The results have been a myriad of theological view points. Things became so bad at one point in the recent past, that one so called theologian announced that “God is Dead.” Now just about any social cause has become the linchpin of theology. We have: urban theology, black theology, liberation theology, Hispanic theology, process theology, rhetorical theology, and a cornucopia of others. It’s no surprise that with the birth of each new theology the ascendancy curve becomes smaller and smaller.


The rise of all this confusion has not left the Christian world without its bruises. Basic questions as to mission and purpose are renewed consistently. In the days after World War II, churches, denominations, and major movements across the country operated on the basis of a basic conservative set of theological ideas. But as we have seen in the beginnings of a new century, those questions are still not settled, many problems of which relate to arguments over shaded gradations of word meanings. Of course, it all depends upon what the meaning of the word “Is” ... is.

The purpose of the coming of Christ has become a major point of contention and has been co-opted by libertarian theologians. Their answer is that Christ came to the world to bring economic liberation to the masses. The old answer was that Jesus came that all may have eternal life which was lost at the time of man’s fall from grace. Since God loves everyone equally, and “went to the wall” for his fallen creation, it makes one’s head hurt to think that anyone would question this. You’ll have money, and you won’t have money all through your life, but you will die one day, and what happens then?

Even Salvation has its equivocation in the contemporary Christian church. Believing in Jesus now brings probation, not salvation. There are now new definitions of everything caused by the insidious influence of the virus known as existentialism. Faith, imputed righteousness, works, are all now up for grabs as to the true meaning and definition of these words, and thus, as a result so is man’s understanding of their place and results in keeping in line with what God says is truth and not just what we have intellectualized as truth.

Thy Kingdom Come

We now have a group of people who can be known as “Reconstructionists”. These are folks who believe that the role of the church is to take over the world, improve social structure, and prepare society for the return of Christ. Christians should have actual dominion over the political structure, is their mantra.

Kingdom now” theologies are an ever increasing problem which offers instant everything. Instant healing, instant wealth, instant “whatever you want” if only you’ll embrace the Kingdom. With all this confusion over meanings and purpose, we often have more questions than answers. Little do most realize that this confusion is little more than a smoke screen and the true purpose of it all has never changed in and of itself for hundreds of years.

Alexander Wept, For There Were No More Worlds To Conquer

The ancient Greeks had a language which was pin point specific in the use of words and meaning. They had seven different words for “love”. They knew that “Eros” was not “Agape”. When Alexander the Great conquered the world of his day, little did he realize that in the coming age just after his life that Christianity would be born and the Word of God would be transmitted in the world wide Greek language of the day. This happening was no mistake. This was no serendipitous chance meeting of a populace that had many different languages but now was inundated with the pin point accuracy of the Greek language. This was divine purpose. Existentialism has now muddied the waters of language so much that any discussion can vere wildly off into an argument over just what has been said and meant by the most basic of words in any conversation. If you don’t believe me just try to have a discussion on evolution and see how far off the point one can get.

Somebody Loves You, You Loves Somebody

This dissipation, dissolution creates confusion in a populace. The result is vulnerability in a culture. Effected by this vulnerability, the world may find itself all too ready to accept a new voice which puts straight the crooked path of understanding and truth. A new global voice, a new plan for the future, a new hope which will be novel but certainly plausible, would logically be the next step. Who would this person be? How would the world see someone who offers all-embracing, panacea-style theology? Existentialism is only the first salvo in what can only be something ominous on the horizon. It has already begun in the recent past, a past we all know actually happened. We’re not talking about ancient history here. We all know events from the 1800’s until today DID happen. They continue to effect us on a daily basis. For those forces that never sleep and have thousands of years to implement a game plan, it is no big deal to move millimeter by millimeter toward a final desired result. “A final solution”, if you get my reference.

He loves you, too. Depending on how you define love. ------------------------------------------------>

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: National Dissolution and Soren Kierkegaard Part 3

National Dissolution
Søren Kierkegaard

Part 3

The final product of Kierkegaard’s arrival in the west with the translation of his writings can only be described as theological and philosophical dissolution. Irrational thinking and feelings took hold of logic and articulate thought and inculcated themselves within the fabric of popular society. The thinking of the world now became a set of self contradictions that bowed and gave homage to a gospel of confusion.

Objectivity is Subjectively Objective

Just to set up a definition for the term Existentialism is to belie Existentialism itself. Existentialism is itself not really a philosophy. It is a label for a myriad of rebellions against traditional philosophies. Living existentialists do not want to have “intercourse” with the affiliation to existentialism. To someone outside the “club house of the somnambulant”, it may appear that perhaps the only thing existentialists have in common with each other is, in fact, a severe aversion to each other. It may indeed be best if the term “existentialism” were perhaps allowed to rest in the dust bin of history all together.

This isn’t even a school of thought, like most valid philosophies are. The most well known existentialists, Jaspers, Heidegger, and Sarte; don’t even agree on basic points. Pascal and Kierkegaard were so called Catholics or “Bible Christians”. Nietzsche and Dostoevsky were impassioned anti-christians and fanatic Greek-Orthodox Russian imperialists. Rilke, Kafka and Camus tread an even farther distance from the beaten path. The more we look at major proponents of existentialism, the more we see that they are in reality just a disenfranchised group of individualists.

In simple black and white, the true definition of existentialism is this: The refusal to belong to any school of thought. The rejection of any body of beliefs whatsoever. The view that current traditional philosophy is superficial, academic and remote from life and therefore useless and dissatisfying.

If you break a crumb in half... you have two crumbs

Existentialism actually makes a “career” of floating on the shifting waters of a great ocean. Having contradiction and anomaly at its heart of hearts, one could say anything about existentialism and it would be true. For those who support it, “the moment” is everything. There are no causes, no consequences, only interaction with the outer world is paramount. As any Freudian psychologist would ask with world shaking importance, “How do you feel about that?” As true existentialists would report, it is our feelings in the moment that make up reality. Having unfortunately seen movies like Saw 5, I can understand where in our society this kind of thinking has become a broken mast aboard a ship caught in a violent storm, which darts and spins out of control in hapless abandon, threatening to cripple or disembowel any who are foolish enough to remain standing on the tilting bow of its ship.

Atheist existentialists promote a form of thought that denies any priority or common ground of morality. The only thing that is right is what is right for you. It’s a good thing we have laws and law enforcement. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Nothing is true, nothing is false.

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

I close my eyes, Only for a moment, then the moments gone. All my dreams, Pass before my eyes, a curiosity. Dust in the wind, All they are is dust in the wind. Same old song, Just a drop of water in an endless sea. All we do, Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see, Dust in the wind, All we are is dust in the wind, ohh Now, don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy, Dust in the wind, All we are is dust in the wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Dust in the wind, Everything is dust in the wind - A song by Kansas

Gee, it’s just a pop song, you might say. But composed minds understand all too well that there is a difficult strain of insanity that runs through the whole exercise of existentialism. Incomprehensibly, it has become a major tenant of thought of our day. Today’s western civilization is now replete with colleges whose philosophy departments are built upon the ground floor tenants of existentialism. College students everywhere have been poisoned by the brainwashing effects of this non-philosophical point of view. When sending your kids to college, you really have to consider just whom you are giving your money to. What are you supporting? The mental contagion of existentialism has become a pandemic of sorts across not only America, but outwards toward most of the world. Is it even possible to root out and destroy a virus like this? One whose main position is : “what feels good, do it.”

So Meet Me At Midnight Baby,
Inside the Sad Cafe....

We received the rebell
ious, raging youth culture of the 60’s from the womb of existentialism. From the stolid society of the 50’s Happy Days, we shifted towards a culture of boys who look like girls and girls who look like boys, and transvestites who were allowed Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame, when just 20 years earlier such persons would have been run out of town on a rail. I haven’t even touched on the subject of Homosexuality since the appearance of existentialism and the “mustard plant” it has grown into since this day, because there is just to much to say at this time and it would take us off the current subject for too many paragraphs. But trust me, there is a TON to be said about it’s insidious presence in our society. Another blog, for sure.

College students of the 60’s became college professors and spread their agenda toward the next generation of children. Along came the free sex thing, free love, narcotics use for fun, orgies, seances, not to mention “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and the “Suicide Solution”. Of course, Ozzy defended his song as NOT a call for teens to commit suicide, using all the precepts of equivocation, a ground floor practice of Kierkegaard, to be sure.

Hey, Teacher! Leave Those Kids Alone!

But hey, existentialism is fun, right? Say good bye to the "squares". Goodbye to sleeping with your windows open at night. Goodbye to knowing your kids could be kids in their young life before they ever became knowledgeable about adult matters, both lofty and base. Goodbye Opie Taylor, hello Jake Harper of TV’s Two and a Half Men who says things like: “Anyone want to lick the beater?”, after he bakes muffins that are a running joke based on the euphemism of muffins being a correlation to female body parts. Anyone who has seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show knows what a “sweet transvestite” is, and how funny and friendly they can be.... right? Goodbye to Elvis’ “Only Fools Fall in Love” and hello to Rap music’s “F*** a Stupid B*tch”.

Yeah, we’re just having fun.

Like Darwinism and Marxism, existentialism panders to the lower base instincts of mankind. It is not just a potential alternative school of thought, but is reprobation itself. Even the most pagan of philosophies from the past held to some form of logic, some form of intrinsic organization and they usually attempted to redefine truth. This can’t be said of existentialism.

Since the 60’s, existentialism has cleaned up itself a bit. It is now a corporate shill in an Armani suit, a modern woman who teaches 2nd graders, and even a cool, progressive preacher. It looks for all the world like sophistication. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck. Epistemological nihilism always leads to death even when it is served in “cups of Kool-Aid”.

Surely You Jest... Stop Calling me Surely....

Back at the end of World War II, classic liberalism expired. That’s when Kierkegaard and the religious existentialists were discovered by leaders of education and ecumenical denominations in America, Brittain, and the European continent. Neoorthodoxy was born, existentialism in religion was now in fashion. A popular proponent of this was a man named Heidegger. A well known source on such subjects states:

Existentialism, through Heidegger, has influenced and formed existential theology, especially in the work of Barth, Bultman, and Tillich and Macquarrie. This approach stresses the existential moment in hermeneutics and preaching, in which humanity is summoned to respond to the call of God to live an authentic life. Jesus is the perfect example of an authentic existence. The nature of being, as outlined by existentialism, has led Tillich to interpret God as the “ground of our being” rather than as a being at all. This effects both theological epistemology and ontology. Existentialist philosophy asks the fundamental human questions of existence. Theology’s task is to provide the answers.

Other writers such as Marcel and Weil have adopted an existential approach to theology in contrast to clinically abstract theology. For them, theology is participative and incarnational, emphasizing the ontological weight of human experience. The key is dialogue and communication as an individual (The “I”) with the eternal “thou”. This leads us to faith and assurance.

That was as tough to write as it was for most to understand, I am sure, but it calls attention to the relevancy of neoorthodoxy and its advent. Disillusioned liberals at the end of World War II felt betrayed by the pseudo Christianity that they had adopted and promoted throughout the world. Needing a new ground floor upon which to stand, they began to turn back to orthodoxy, but they were NOT willing to re-embrace the Word of God as truth. They stopped short despite the revelation that their first rejection was instrumental in the most dangerous time span mankind has ever seen.

Did God Really Say That?

Using the power of equivocation so prevalent within existentialism, they infected the Christian faith with words that only sounded like the real thing when referring to Christian paradigms. True believers were deceived by a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak, as they sat in churches naively believing they were receiving correct and sound doctrine.

As an example: “All scripture is given by inspiration from God.” The neoorthodox theologian uses the word inspiration but removes its meaning. To this way of preaching, inspiration is not what happens when God gives his word, but instead what happens when the word impacts a human spirit. Therefore, for these folks, the Bible isn’t “THE Word of God”, it only “contains” the Word of God. Inspiration is now an experience, not a definition of provenance relating to Holy Scripture.

Salvation too, is equivocated. No longer is it a cleansing of sin by the shed blood of Christ, but now it is a psychological experience with the personality of Jesus. Terms like “holistically” and “realization” are now added in to tweak the true message. The effort is now on improving the human spirit and moving mankind ahead, rather than the rebirth of a fallen mankind by turning to a loving creator.

We cannot, of course, blame Kierkegaard for all of these events. Many are the result of the beast born from his seed, but he does still hold fast the title of “Father of Existentialism” and therefore it is essential to include his insane ramblings when considering our present philosophical and religious conditions.

One more chapter of this swill to go.... if you are still reading

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Flipped


Rated: PG [See Full Rating] for language and some thematic material

Runtime: 1 hr. 30 min.

Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy

Theatrical Release: Aug 6, 2010 Limited

Starring: Callan McAuliffe, Madeline Carroll, Aidan Quinn, Rebecca De Mornay, Penelope Ann Miller, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Shane Harper

Director: Rob Reiner
Screenwriter: Rob Reiner , Andrew Scheinman
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

Back in my days of creative writing class the other students would look at me funny when I discounted the too often used device of writing human interest stories. But they are ubiquitous, and there is good reason for this. All the explosions and 3-D effects in the world are no match for well drawn characters with interesting personalities.

In Rob Reiner’s Flipped we get a sharp, professonially done look at the small world of two kids who live across the street from each other and the forces that move them as they grow up within their respective “family worlds” and the social world that they share.

Juli and Bryce are two extremely recognizable kids who start out as the boy crazy girl who has a thing for Bryce, and Bryce is the boy who embarrassingly hides behind his mother’s skirt to get away from Juli. Juli has a thing for Bryce’s eyes, no doubt recognizing in some hidden part of her brain a quality she knows to be familiar. Little does she as a child know that at birth her mind is a blank slate and the first thing her eyes will see on a regular basis will be her own mother’s eyes. With this dynamic in mind, who wouldn’t make intuitive connections about feeling love for anyone who’s eyes also carry that quality.

Bryce is somewhat more vanilla than Juli and finds her demonstrative and overt moves toward him to be incomprehensible and intrusive. He is a good kid though, and being non-violent and well mannered puts a lot of energy into finding ways to avoid his would be paramour. His own example of familiarity with Juli’s type are one generation removed in the qualities of his grandmother, who for the film has now passed away. But Bryce’s Grandfather recognizes Juli all too well, and in a bit of humanitarian indulgence honors Juli’s, and his lamented wife’s position on the world and its myriad of pleasures and crushing disappointments.

The story is told in the style of “The Wonder Years” with shifting points of view voiced over by both Bryce and Juli as they both explain their unique positions on events that they both experience during the flow of the overall narrative. We’re given inside views to their thoughts and motivations during events and shown how divergent and confused mere social contact can actually be, not that we really needed to know about this. In the meantime we learn things about Juli and her family and also Bryce and his family. We learn that Juli’s family is poor and have the worst kept house on the block. Bryce’s parents have many assumptions and opinions on why Juli’s family operates the way they do and unfortunately “bring down” the value of the neighborhood. Juli’s father is called a dreamer, a man who paints landscapes instead of taking care of the lawn. It isn’t until Grandpa breaks that “fourth wall” in his friendship with Juli that the bigger and more important issues come forward in all their prejudice correcting finality.

Bryce learns about Juli from the position of his own enforced exile, and as he sees her climbing an old sycamore tree to get a view of the sprawling majesty of surrounding nature, or caring for home grown chickens in her backyard or being charitable toward a boy in school who is ignored by everyone, he begins to find that perhaps he has been remiss to avoid her all these years. For Juli, her own maturity and development toward her own future “Norma Rae” personality, slowly comes to realize that perhaps her youthful judgments of Bryce have been all smoke and mirrors and, in her own words, “Bryce has never really been my friend”. She then turns her back on him. Bryce valiantly tries to save the day and fails in his own methods as he panics at the thought of having missed and wounded a girl who’s rivers run deep. He then draws on his genetic smarts and wisdom, manifested in his grandfather, and pulls a sweet “hail mary” move which hits Juli right where she lives.

This is a really sweet movie. Someone I know told me that if I went to see it, I’d be crapping rainbows. And yes, that is just what happened, but that’s not all that happened. It was a great pleasure to watch masterful directing and a well written script with a revelatory narrative. The actors are all amazingly up to the job, with one lone sour note (and I think this was just a poor choice of directive focus) among a wonderfully orchestrated story about humanity we can all identify with. Its great to see Hollywood green light something that isn’t just concerned with bringing in massive profits, but actually pays homage to what movies truly can be and what they do best.

You surely can go to see Rob Reiner’s film and not worry about being assaulted by the crude and hate filled language and attitudes of what mostly comes from the industry today. There is one nasty word which was a bit unneeded and also a scene in an ice ream shop that seemed overwrought and manipulative of the audience, but not to worry, nothing here remotely resembles the social deviant predilections of a Judd Apatow film.

Go see this film. Crap rainbows.

4/5 stars

Escape The Hezbollah