No War on Syria

Barak Obama wants to attack Syria, a secular state that poses no threat to our country.

The President and the Secretary of State claim that the Syrian government has used poison gas against its own population. There’s no reason to believe them. The Syrian government is winning; why should it use a weapon that could draw an international response? The physical evidence suggests that the weapons were home-made by the rebels, who are known to possess a supply of poison gas.

It’s reasonable to suspect that the Obama administration’s true motives have more to do with natural resources, geopolitics and Israel than with avenging a few hundred dead civilians in Syria.

The U.S. administration wants war and is trying to manufacture an excuse. We’ve been supporting the rebels in Syria for years. Many of them are foreign mercenaries. They are aligned with the most reactionary forces in the region, notably fundamentalist Saudi Arabia.

Lately we have heard a lot of empty talk about Dr. Martin Luther King. It’s too bad, because Dr. King’s most important teachings are as useful today as they were in 1968. He said,

God didn’t call America to do what she’s doing in the world now. God didn’t call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war… And we are criminals in that war. We’ve committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I’m going to continue to say it.

Friends, I urge you to join me in speaking out against a U.S. attack on Syria. Attacking Syria would constitute a war of aggression, which…is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

Sucking in the Seventies

Rolling Stones Ticket July 24, 1978

July 24, 1978 was a hot day in Anaheim, California. I was there with 50 or 60 thousand friends to see The Rolling Stones, with Peter Tosh opening the show. A few months shy of my 20th birthday, I was one of the younger audience members.

The scene was as decadent as any I had ever seen at a rock and roll show. There was no assigned seating. Stretched out on the field somewhere under the blazing sun, I saw somebody in an old Stones t-shirt nearby take out a mirror and a razor blade. He chopped a piece of cocaine into the finest possible dust. I was impressed with the dope fiend’s dexterity. Next, he carefully moved the drugs off of the mirror and into a little bottle. Working with the precision of a lab scientist, he added water to the bottle and shook it.

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw next. Our innovative drug user then put a dropper into the bottle and squeezed the rubber end. He raised the dropper out of the bottle, leaned his head back, and put several drops of the cocaine solution into his eyes!

“F***ing hell,” I thought to myself, “That’s pretty hard core for three in the afternoon, isn’t it? Maybe this guy thinks he’s being moderate because he’s not using a needle. Wow, I suppose the optic nerve is a pretty direct route to the brain…”

After the audience had a couple of hours to get good and loaded, Peter Tosh took the stage. I still remember being surprised and delighted with how musical and tight the performance was. Mick Jagger joined them on stage to perform “Walk and Don’t Look Back,” which went over well. The opening act wrapped up and the audience was happily anticipating the Stones.

Hours later, the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band took the stage. They played with obvious indifference. Watching each casual, sloppy attempt at playing a song made the audience increasingly angry. This band sucks! They charged us all this money ($12.50) to show up higher than we are and not even bother to pretend to have fun with us? No way!

Angry fans with good arms started throwing shoes at the Rolling Stones! The band had to start moving around a little just to get out of the way of the flying objects headed their way, but it did not improve their poor musicianship. Finally, Mr. Jagger had enough. The band stopped playing and he stood at the front of the stage. “C***suckers! If you’re going to throw shoes I want all of them!”

In reply, for several minutes the air was thick with shoes flying toward the stage. The band took cover. Everybody within 20 feet of the stage rushed for cover too. After a suitable delay, some people with big brooms came out and swept thousands of shoes off of the stage. The Stones returned to play a few more songs and call it a night. Everybody left happy, though many were barefoot.

July 24, 2013, was a warm, sunny day in Anaheim. I returned to the same stadium 35 years later to the day, to watch the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim win an exciting afternoon game against the Minnesota Twins. The audience and the venue both were a lot tidier and better groomed than back in 1978.

Angels Stadium

Giant Snake in the Yard

Rainbow told me something was up. Dogs will tell you a lot if you are willing to pause long enough to listen.

She came to the sliding screen door that separates my home office from the downstairs patio with a nervous expression. At first I ignored her but she was insistent, raising her ears up halfway and wrinkling her forehead, occasionally shaking her head towards her right and pointing.Snake!

Imagine my surprise when I slid the door open, poked my head out and turned left – to see a huge snake, several feet long, trapped by a roll of garden netting! I jumped so quickly that all of my clothes were left in a pile behind me. Once I put them back on I went and grabbed my camera and Lana.

“Hey, Ms. May! You need to come look at this – it’s something you haven’t seen before in our yard, and I don’t think you’re going to forget this anytime soon!” She paused her preparations for the Del Mar Junior Lifeguard program to join me, grabbing her iPhone to snap the photo below a few seconds after I took the first one in this post.

OK, there’s a big snake in my yard, trapped by garden netting. Now what? Looking at 14 year-old Lana reminded me that I’m the grownup and ought to Take Charge, seeing as how I Know What to Do.

Right.

Carefully, gently, I grabbed the roll and slowly rolled up the netting as I raised the whole thing. The snake pulled back with remarkable strength, trying to get out of the net. As I started to raise a big part of the serpent’s body off the ground I noticed just how strong and heavy it really was. Suddenly the snake’s head popped free from the plastic netting and the snake was free and wholly back on the concrete. It slithered off as fast as it could!

Out of sight, out of mind. Great job! Well done!

Snake!

Research discloses that this snake likely is a model representative of Arizona Elegans Occidentalis, otherwise known as the California Glossy Snake. For additional reptile coverage in these pages, see here, herehereherehere, and especially here.

New Home Stereo System

Netbook & Bluetooth Speaker

Audio is my favorite media form. Sound artists always have captured my attention and my imagination more fully than the visual arts.

Years ago I wrote an inspirational tech piece about installing a new hard drive in an old Fujitsu laptop. Finally the time came to retire that ancient device – but the ‘new’ hard drive still had plenty of viable life in it. I reformatted that hard drive and stuck it into this venerable Toshiba Mini NB205 Netbook.

Although my audio collection is vast, my conventional music collection will (mostly) fit on a 650 GB hard drive. Coincidentally, that is the size of the drive that went into the old netbook. I copied my music to the midget laptop. Next, I added a small Bluetooth dongle.

To the left of the little computer is a Logitech Mobile Boombox Bluetooth Speaker and Speakerphone. It is a one-point stereo speaker, with two one-inch drivers. This is a spectacular device! Wired gave it 9 out of 10 with a rating of “nearly flawless, buy it now.” I paired it with my phone as well as with the netbook. The sound is warm and clear across the frequency spectrum. Although one doesn’t expect much bass through speakers this small, this set delivers a surprising punch. From the other side of a moderately sized room the stereo separation is startlingly good as well.

Cylinder recordings Cal Stewart’s Uncle Josh made late in the 19th Century sound remarkably good on this 21st Century setup. Modern Internet radio stations such as Radio Suby Nice, Triple J from Australia and KUSC from LA are crisp and clear without being too sharp. MP3 files I made from my large collection of ECM Records releases from the mid-to-late 1970’s continue to delight me as much as they ever did. Classical music, jazz, rock, rap, international music and acoustic music of all kinds sound fantastic and are totally portable.

Sometimes it worth pausing a moment to reflect on how dramatic these changes have been. I remember being amazed by the idea that a C-120 audio cassette could hold two whole hours in such a compact way. Moving my music collection required transporting a couple of carloads of records and tapes. These days a USB hard drive about the same size as a Compact Cassette in its box can hold a terabyte of data. I’ve got easy access to a lifetime’s music collection anywhere I go in high fidelity…remarkable.

A Farewell to Debz

Mrs. Freed's 5th Grade Class, 1968

My sister in-law Debbie lost a fight with cancer a couple of days ago. She is the Girl Scout in the second row; I am a couple of rows behind her and slightly to the left. This was the only group photo from my grade school years that was in color. Maybe that’s why it still looks modern to me…yet the picture will be 45 years old in a few months.

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Here is a picture of Debbie from a few years ago, posing with the Guardian of Forever. I’d like to have a picture taken on this set! My mom worked on every iteration of Star Trek, from the first season of the original series through to the last TV series about nine years ago. I’ve written about what it was like being ten and going to the Star Trek set for the cast and crew Christmas party in December 1968. Nobody dreamed the show would become a titanic money-making franchise back then.

City on the Edge of Forever is one of the best episodes from Star Trek’s original series. It also offers a splendid glimpse behind the curtain of the “creative” process of network TV in the 60’s. In a nutshell, Harlan Ellison’s script was rewritten in ways that made the finished product more respectful to authority than Ellison’s. City on the Edge of Forever still is a classic episode, one in which everybody in the cast is good – in part because for once they are working with some really good material.

If you’re curious, follow this link and watch the whole episode right now. Maybe somebody can explain to me how it is that the show is available on CBS, since it was on NBC originally. It still is a little novel to see the original Star Trek series in color; we didn’t get our first color set until 1972. What’s up with this apparent preoccupation with color vs. black & white pictures? Maybe I should get into some black and white photography during the second half of 2013!

Reverend Gary Davis wrote a number of great songs. Here is my favorite performance of one of these songs, from one of the Grateful Dead’s finest live shows.

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Four Eyes

Renaissance Faire guy with Four Eyes

Here is another winning photograph from my dad’s vast archive of shots from the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. This one comes to us from the spring of 1980. I imagine this is not something you see every day. Definitely an eye-catching picture!

33 Years Ago Today

Volcano Explodes

May 25, 1980 was a memorable day. This was the day I graduated from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, the Garden Spot of the Pacific Northwest.

What everybody remembers about May 1980 was the explosion of Mount St. Helens on the 18th.  Here’s a picture I took that day from behind the Adult Student Housing complex at 2701 North Main Street.

Gigantic clouds of volcanic ash were falling across Forest Grove the afternoon of May 25, 1980. It was harsh enough that my parents got out of town without staying long enough for dinner.

Introducing gerrypearce.com

Gerry Pearce 1980

It is a little startling to notice that today is the 10th anniversary of my father’s death. This is an ideal occasion to present gerrypearce.com. This website contains a few thousand pages of original written material, with much more to come. In time it will contain the best photographs from the thousands he left behind and some of the home movies he shot at the Renaissance Faire and at various science fiction conventions over the years.

The few years my dad really prospered as a writer were when he had a salaried job at Walt Disney Studios, turning out TV scripts for The Wonderful World of Disney. He also wrote hundreds of syndicated TV shows for Bill Burrud Productions. Throughout his professional life, from the 1950’s until a couple of months before his final illness, Gerry wrote stories for science fiction and mystery magazines.

My dad spent several decades working on a book about the plight of the Palestinian people, entitled Generations of BetrayalTwo different versions of this book are available at gerrypearce.com.

The 2003 version of Generations of Betrayal is the last project Gerry completed. He wrapped up the final edit of this book days before his final illness took him away from the word processor for good. 46 chapters are available for you to peruse right now, in HTML format.

The 1981 version of Generations of Betrayal is 26 chapters long, presented here in PDF format. This one came very close to being published.

On this new website, one thing you’re not going to encounter is any commentary from me. I’m trying to give my dad a chance to speak to everybody without any interference. If you have any reaction to the material, I’d be curious to know about it.

My dad was an enthusiastic letter writer. I’ve collected quite a few of his letters with an eye toward publishing an edited edition someday. If anybody reading this has more, I’d be curious to have a look.

Thinking about the day, ruminating on reality, I’m reminded of one of my favorite Fred Allen lines:

“Live each day as if it’s going to be your last — and one day you’ll be right.”

A Tale of Two Mustangs

Many of us have fond feelings about cars we had when we were kids. Here’s a 1980 picture taken in Forest Grove, Oregon, featuring me and my 1968 Mustang. I drove this car for many years, from college through law school and into the early years of my professional life. Although everybody agreed it was a cool car, it was far from fancy. It had “three on the floor” and a little 200 cubic inch “straight six” engine. It did not have air conditioning, but it did have a black plastic interior well-designed to retain heat.

For me this blurred image has a vaguely dreamlike quality. Could this picture really be 33 years old? The field in the background has been richly developed during those years. Was that shirt one I’d bought in ’73 to wear at my graduation from junior high? Inside the car I can see that my disassembled racing bike is in the back seat. Wasn’t that fancy bike stolen right out from under my nose at Venice Beach seven or eight years later?

1980_0904_scott_pearce_mustang

Here is a 2013 Mustang Fastback, which I rented for my latest excursion to Redwood Country. The modern car is quite similar to the one that was built 45 years ago, but it is more comfortable and has more modern conveniences. It was fun to drive around northwest California in this car…but it did serve to prove that nostalgia is a longing for something you couldn’t stand anymore. I’m much happier with my Sebring than I ever was with a car with a hard-top.

2013_0420_mustang

4/20 Graffiti Wisdom

2013_0420_graffiti

Highway 20 is a magnificent place to drive. You take the 101 into glamorous Willits, Gateway to Redwood Country, and turn left towards Fort Bragg. A series of remarkable events found me on this wonderful road on April 20, headed to Garberville in southern Humboldt County. The graffiti is from a rest area bathroom off Highway 20. Here’s a sample of the local color!

2013_0420_trees