$mOnEY$MONEY$money$: Huguette Clark died yesterday.

~ Cabaret ~

Money makes the world go around
The world go around
The world go around
Money makes the world go around
It makes the world go ’round.
A mark, a yen, a buck, or a pound
A buck or a pound
A buck or a pound
Is all that makes the world go around,
That clinking clanking sound
Can make the world go ’round.
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
Money money
If you happen To be rich,
And you feel like a
Night’s enetertainment
You can pay for a
Gay escapade.
If you happen To be rich,
And alone, and you
Need a companion
You can ring-ting-A-ling
for the maid.
If you happen To be rich
And you find you are
Left by your lover,
Though you moan and you groan
Quite a lot,
You can take it On the chin,
Call a cab, And begin
To recover
On your fourteen-Carat yacht.
Money makes the world go around,
The world go around,
The world go around,
Money makes the world go around,
Of that we can be sure.
(….) on being poor.
Money money money- money money money
Money money money- Money money money
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
If you haven’t any coal in the stove
And you freeze in the winter
And you curse on the wind
At your fate
When you haven’t any shoes
On your feet
And your coat’s thin as paper
And you look thirty pounds
Underweight.
When you go to get a word of advice
From the fat little pastor
He will tell you to love evermore.
But when hunger comes a rap,
Rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat at the window…
At the window…
Who’s there?
Hunger!
Ooh, hunger!
See how love flies out the door…For
Money makes The world…
…Go around
The world…
…Go around
The world…
…Go around
Money makes the
The world…
…Go around
That clinking
Clanking sound of
Money money money money money money
Money money money money money money
Get a little,
Money money
Get a little,
Money money
Money money
Money money
Money money
Money money
Mark, a yen, a buck
Get a little
Or a pound
Get a little
That clinking clanking
Get a little
Get a little
Clinking sound
Money money
Money money…
Is all that makes
The world go ’round
Money money
Money money
It makes the world go round!

—–

Why hello there, no it’s not Liza with a ZING!, it’s me, Vanessa Libertad.  Blogging about – well, money.

Huguette M. Clark died yesterday.  Know who she is?  Neither did I until I arrived at work this morning, turned on the computer, and Yahoo, MSNBC, and the NY Times bombarded my screen with her presence.  She was a Copper heiress who did absolutely nothing, but inherit billions of dollars from her brilliant businessman/entrepreneur father William J. Clark, lived a lengthy reclusive life, and died at 104-years old without clearly designating whom or what is to inherit her $500 million dollar fortune.

Working my office b-job in the lower-middle class Latino neighborhood of Huntington Park, California, I cannot stop thinking or reading about her.

Why such a fascination, a curiosity, a burgeoning obsession with this unreal specimen? Why do I now suddenly care so much about Huguette Marcelle Clark?

Huguette was born to mother (teenage maid turned second wife) & father (60-something year old billionaire widower) in 1906.  She collected dolls, was married once for 9 months in her 20’s (which was dissolved because he said she wouldn’t put out and she said he deserted her), and lived reclusively from 1930’s-ish through 1963 with her mother.  After her mother’s passing in 1963 up through 2011, she lived entirely alone (except for hired maids), secluded in either her ginormous NYC City apartment or in NY Hospital Wings (even while in good health).

According to caretakers, she liked to watch “The Flinstones” A LOT and once gave her only close friend $10 million to buy property.  She didn’t donate much to charity and seemed mostly to invest in the upkeep of mansions she never visited like her Santa Barbara property, which she hadn’t been to since the 1950’s.  Out of William Clark’s 7 children, she was the youngest.  At around 13-years old her elder sister (age 16) died of meningitis.  She later “excavate(d) a salt pond and created an artificial freshwater lake across from Bellosguardo,” which she named Andrée Clark Bird Refuge in honor of her sister.

When she was 19, her father died.  Between ages 26 – 33, 3 more of her siblings died.  The strange details of her sad, exquisite, and relatively invisible life — from infancy to death — are both heartbreaking and enviable.

I guess when you’re little you don’t think so much about money.  I didn’t anyway.  As I grew older, however, I slowly came to understand how necessary money was to the creation of experiences: art projects, vacations, working cars, kept homes, fine dinners, stable health, college educations.  Money always felt like a moody butterfly that fluttered in and out of existence at the will and demand of an invisible Oz.  I never minded it’s tempestuous enter and exit game, however, as I always felt blest to have or make the exact amount necessary for whatever experience I wished to create.  As a result, I learned to value the invaluable: art, books, love, food, family, conversations, witty friends, old shoes.  Designer this and nose job that not only seemed extravagant, but abhorrently wasteful.  I learned to stretch a dollar a long way.  This sort of whimsical relationship between me and money worked out pretty well up until about a year ago.

Since then, it’s been dawning upon me that money isn’t the type of thing one should have a tooth-fairy relationship with.  It’s dawning upon me that in our present global village, the exchange of goods & services between human beings is now almost completely represented by an exchange of money … and that in fact, money makes the world go round.  Money separates billions of people into unnatural classifications and creates social hierarchies / caste systems.  It funds wars and mass murder.  However, money also funds after-school programs, pre-school teachers, medical research, film projects, natural preserves, architectural restorations, etc.  Money’s a powerful thing.

I’ve also realized money isn’t THE THING it buys.  It isn’t the candy bar or the hummer or the golden globe or the royal crown.  Money is energy and energy is the power to create anything you want — a bomb or a voting booth.  You give somebody money — the power to create — and you’ll see who they really are at the core.  Their values will reflect in what they choose to create.  Money isn’t the root of all evil.  It’s just the mirror held up to it … I’m coming to believe.

The relationship many people have to money, many of the people in Huntington Park for instance, is that money, like power, is reserved for the puppet strings of a select elite. For the white people or the hustlers or the corrupt politicians.  There’s a permeating belief that even if we’re smart enough to make money, we’ll always be making it for someone else because we’re not inherently powerful enough to keep it.  The Man (the government, the credit card companies, the banks, the politicians, etc) will find someway to cheat you out of your hard-earned money, to drain your energy, to steal your power …

I’m starting to recognize this poverty-mentality, this powerless frame of mind.  It assumes:

As if we, the little people the worker bees, aren’t worthy or capable of understanding, nourishing, and managing our money — our personal power.  As if only The Clarks, The Vanderbilts, The Rockerfellers, The Helmselys were chosen by Mother Nature to make money and distribute it amongst us.  As if we’re children waiting for a tooth to fall out so that the magical fairy will decide its worth and … if we’re lucky … leave us a buck under pillow while we sleep … maybe …

I feel that the reason Huguette Marcelle Clark has weighed on me all day is because I can’t fathom anyone with THAT much money — THAT much power — doing close to nothing with it.  She had such limitless potential to create art and help heal other people and preserve nature, etc.  Yet, she exerted NO energy — spent no money — on anything like that … just on keeping herself hidden away for almost an entire century.  The 20th Century: One of the most glorious and tumultuous periods in human history.

It’s sad, really.  I guess you can have all the money in the world, but if you haven’t any personal power — birth-given or decidedly cultivated over time — it’s as if you never had a dime.  Once you pass away, the vultures (lawyers & half-nephews/nieces) swarm above the great yet unused energies/power/money you’ve left behind, baking under the hot sun, for no one in particular.

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Fun Excerpts, Interviews, & Articles on my book “Voting Booth After Dark”

Over the past few months, I’ve participated in some fun interviews, written articles on and published excerpts from my debut book The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive.  It’s a 92-page collection of short stories and poems interwoven into a gripping narrative that follows a group of gay & lesbian Latino club kids during the course of the 2008 presidential elections.  As they plunge deep into the agonizing lows of anxiety and addiction, we see how they affect and are affected by the national politics happening around them.  It’s available for purchase as an e-book & paperback at numerous well-known and independent sites such as Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and GiovannisRoom.com.

Kick your heels up, eat some ice cream, & check em’ out! ;p

BOOK EXCERPTS

  • “Guerilla Reads” featured my video-taped reading of the short story excerpt “Mourning” at the West Hollywood Book Fair.
  • The Furnace Review published the poetry excerpt “Sorrow”  as a sneak peek into the book.
  • This Great Society published the short story excerpt “Anguish” in their May 2011 WORK Issue. 

INTERVIEWS

  • Livin’ La Vida Latina” reviewed The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive & interviewed me on topics such as:

How do you feel your work influences Latinas?

What does being Latina mean to you?

What do you think the future holds for today’s Latina?

  • Sea Minor’s celebrated Dancing with Myself Author Series published an interview in which I answer questions like:

What’s the story behind your middle name “Libertad”?

You’re sort-of broke right? Which means you made this book on very little $$$. Who are some of the core people that helped you bring The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing Repulsive to life?

What are some quotes you turn to for inspiration, guidance, and relief when FEAR tries to strangle you, and force you to sabotage your life?

ARTICLES

If you’d like to read other people’s reviews on the book just click here.

Thanks for your support & hope you enjoy the read!  

Big Hug!  🙂 V


It’s NOT Complicated Enough …

Alas, this Tuesday, per the usual, I found myself miserably overwhelmed with the mounting To Do’s and exasperatedly conflicted about how to approach/attack/attack/approach … walk with grace and serenity onto the beautiful and mortifying yellow brick road of my unfolding life.  Fear of the unknown flogged and beat and raped me into a state of paralysis.  Instead of checking off my various To Do’s with vigorous glory as I’d fantasized doing while lying in bed on Monday night  — I spent most of Tuesday hiding under warm covers, venturing in and out of various states of consciousness.  Nightmares about serial killing con artists in the afterlife plagued my sleep; and Dreams about making my art (books & film) the world over and living comfortably off of their profits plagued my wake.

I’ll give you a quick download of the events taking place within the next 4 months: 1) Going to Grad School for my Masters in Film Theory.  Begin Fall 2011.  Woohoo!!!! 2) Must find summer job that pays more than present part-time job because I need to move out of my studio and closer to college. 3) Need to find new cheap studio or bedroom to move into — preferably with own side entrance. 4) Finishing Promotion rounds for my debut book The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive.  This entails contacting last round of potential reviewers, doing research on Universities & their Women’s, GLBTQ, Latino, & Mental Health studies Departments and pitching their professors my book as possible college course reading material.  As well as offering myself up as an expert speaker on the topics my book discusses: Latinos, Queers, & Addiction within both minority communities.

These are all AMAZINGLY splendid opportunities for personal betterment, I understand.  They’re also 150% mortifying since their manifestations seem to rely on one sole person: Muah.  Now I know that’s not true as I’m blessed to have a phenomenal support system of friends & family, therapy, prayer/meditation, etc … But knowing intellectually and feeling experientially the truth and untruth of something are two entirely different realities.  Suffice to say, I’d had ENOUGH of obsessing about how best to control the outcome of my life.  It was time to check into somebody else’s.

ENTER the Alec Baldwin/Meryl Streep Romantic Comedy It’s Complicated.  Because watching happy rich white people effortlessly enjoy fabulously opulent lifestyles is supposed to make me feel better?  So I thought.

According to It’s Complicated Hollywood continues its beige, more so egg-white, denial of  The Great Recession, which we — as a colorful multicultural country — are still experiencing.  And no, adding an affluent overly-tan Jewish family to an all white-cast does not diversify it.  Thanks for reminding us all of that, Meet the Little Fockers.  In case you haven’t noticed, Jews have ceased being a cinematic minority since 1960.

Her Family

Her Kitchen

Her Living Room

Her Friends

You may be asking yourself right now, “Byatch, why in the hell did you choose, out of ALL movies in the world, to check out on this one?”  I’ll tell you … I don’t own any DVDs except for The Kid Stays in the Picture, which I can’t NOT own because it’s my favorite documentary.  I don’t own any dvds because there are TOO many films that I love and if I own 2 of them, I have to own all of them and that would add a lot of clutter to my life.  Therefore, I had literally 1 movie to choose from.  Netflix streaming doesn’t work on my aunt’s Mac iBook G4, which I’m borrowing at the moment, due to the fact that it’s 1) Ancient and 2) Doesn’t have Intel Pentium blah blah.  I had -$29.35 in my bank account and didn’t get next paycheck until Wednesday so I couldn’t afford to rent a movie.  Thus, I only had my cousin’s collection of dvds to choose from.  Mind you, he’s a 28-year old guy with a girlfriend so it was either 300, The Godfather, or It’s Complicated.  300 is a racist piece of Western-loving Eastern-hating trash, which was not going to make me feel ANY lighter.  I’ve seen The Godfather about 30 times and as much as I love it, it was not going to take me from a dark place into a shinier one.  So I thought, maybe It’s Complicated will cheer me up a bit.  Also, Meryl Streep was in it and I could watch her act in anything.  She’s a bloody genius and a goddess.

As expected, Streep delivered.  She was endearing, lovable, and charming.  The rest of the film, however, was immensely depressing.  It wasn’t necessarily a bad movie. It appropriated all the classic cinematic conventions as it should have.  The movie was, you know, okay.  There was nothing imperfect about it.

In fact, it felt like watching a vacuum cleaner do its job right.  You’re like, “Yeah, my carpet’s clean.  That’s nice.”  Then you sit back down on your couch and realize you just watched a vacuum cleaner for 2 hours.  Depressing.

Let me elaborate:  The story was about a privileged anglo family who went through a mildly quirky set of circumstances (within cush surroundings), which ultimately brought them just a little closer together in the end.  Awwww, who cares.

It felt like I was watching holograms interact.  Where’s the humanity, the frailty, the vulnerability, the struggle, the triumph?  Where was its resemblance to reality?  It seems to me that the studio system has murdered every last introspective, reflective, existentialist romantic comedy writer in Hollywood.

Why couldn’t It’s Complicated have been Annie Hall?  Better yet, Annie Hall with some Cubans and Vietnamese 😉

Suffice to say, Tuesday was crap all the way through.  The Upside: Wednesday rocked.


When The Gloom pounds breast…

… with heavy hand.

 iron fist.

It’s crucial to first watch this …


… and then enact this.

Crucial. 


My Purse Is Falling Apart, but I <3 it.

My granuelita gave me a purse/camera-baggish leather contraption last year that I’ve fallen madly in love with, but it’s falling apart from all angles.

Oh, old little bag, I don’t want to trade you in for a snazzy new one! …  It’s been holding on by a staple in these various ways:

Leather Strap: crumbling like Beef Jerky.  Scissored off deteriorated parts & stapled the rest together.

  

Gaping hole on side continues to widen.  Big as a sink hole.  Originally closed it with printing paper & staples.

Came undone within 2 weeks.  Consequently, I’ve fastened it shut with big fat safety pins, which I enjoy much more.

One side of shoulder straps ripped off  (safety pin holds zipper to bag)

Now I carry bag on shoulder from only the other side.  

 

My Bag from the front — looks as good as new!  SEE, mom 😉


And for Kicks …

My grandma threw this blanket over her porch recliner to give it character.

We are reading The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel together.  According to granuelita, about 20-years ago an old priest gave away most of his books during a Church yard sale since the Church was closing and he had to move. Consequently, he gave her the entire Master Key System series.


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This Movie ROCKED my socks off: “Schooling The World”!!!

Yesterday night I went to the opening night film of the Awareness Film Festival, which is taking place through May 8th.  I saw the documentary called Schooling The World: The White Man’s Last Burden.

I absolutely EFFING LOOOOOOVVVVED IT & found it truly AMAZEDAWGS!!!

The Film’s Summary (according to their website):

If you wanted to change/destroy an ancient culture in a generation, where would you start?

With the children.

How would you do it?

You would change the way it educates its children.

The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th century when it forced Native American children into government boarding schools. Today, volunteers build schools in traditional societies around the world, convinced that school is the only way to a ‘better’ life for indigenous children.

But is this true? What really happens when we replace a traditional culture’s way of learning and understanding the world with our own? SCHOOLING THE WORLD takes a challenging, sometimes funny, ultimately deeply disturbing look at the effects of modern education on the world’s last sustainable indigenous cultures.

Beautifully shot on location in the Buddhist culture of Ladakh in the northern Indian Himalayas, the film weaves the voices of Ladakhi people through a conversation between four carefully chosen original thinkers; anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence; Helena Norberg-Hodge and Vandana Shiva, both recipients of the Right Livelihood Award for their work with traditional peoples in India; and Manish Jain, a former architect of education programs with UNESCO, USAID, and the World Bank.

The film examines the hidden assumption of cultural superiority behind education aid projects, which overtly aim to help children “escape” to a “better life.” – despite mounting evidence of the environmental, social, and mental health costs of our own modern consumer lifestyles, from epidemic rates of childhood depression and substance abuse to pollution and climate change.

It looks at the failure of institutional education to deliver on its promise of a way out of poverty – here in the United States as well as in the so-called “developing” world.

And it questions our very definitions of wealth and poverty – and of knowledge and ignorance – as it uncovers the role of schools in the destruction of traditional sustainable agricultural and ecological knowledge, in the breakup of extended families and communities, and in the devaluation of elders and ancient spiritual traditions.

Finally, “Schooling the World” calls for a “deeper dialogue” between cultures, suggesting that we have at least as much to learn as we have to teach, and that these ancient sustainable societies may harbor knowledge which is vital for our own survival in the coming millennia.

I highly recommend watching this brazen, brilliant, and mind-broadening flick!  It’ll prove a priceless addition to your thought collection.

Please check out Schooling the World: The White Man’s Last Burden Main Website, “like” their Facebook Fan Page, and keep up to date with it on Twitter.

Enjoy!!!!

Big Hug ~ 🙂 V


Osama Bin Laden Dead.

Osama Bin Laden Dead.

Wow.  Who cares.

‎”If we can’t create like gods, we can at least destroy like one.”                  – Howard Good

50,000 troops still in Afghanistan, Taliban rages on, and everyone I know is struggling to make ends meat & keep their houses from foreclosing (if they have one) or paying rent (if they don’t).  We live in a country where anything is possible.  Yes, with absolutely no help from the state or federal government.

Education, Healthcare, Social Welfare programs are all festering in the national porter potty toilet.  We, as a country and people, are being governed — manhandled actually — by politicians that make up the top 1% of rich folk in the US.  They do not directly relate in experience to our “common & everyday” problems, therefore they do not empathize with us or care about helping us out of this bog.  They have created a system in which American companies capitalize on outsourcing our jobs to 3rd world countries — where those employed are exploited by these corporatized sweatshop/slave labor gigs because they have no other means of surviving their dismal circumstances.  Our elected officials have cut our unions!!!  and bailed out The Banks with our hard earned tax dollars — Banks that continue to implement excessive fees & refuse to issue us loans a.k.a invest in our business start ups or home purchases. They raise our taxes, charging us astronomical fines (ex: $70 parking tickets) to pay for the deficit.

Yet, they have enough money to prolong our violent military involvement a.k.a colonization of the middle east.  Not enough money, of course, to offer our sacrificial lambs — The Returning Veterans — proper reconstructive medical care (both mentally & bodily).  In my opinion, The VA (U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs) embodies America’s raped spirit and maps out all the ways the government is NOT helping us recover.

See the new California taxes below:

(copy & pasted from an email sent to me)
THE LOS ANGELES TIMES HAS AN ARTICLE ON THE SUBJECT: “FLOORING IT ON CAR FINES”.

HUGE California Traffic Tickets Fines Effective 01/06/2011
Please be extremely careful in your driving and car registration & insurance matters.  State of California is broke and they are trying hard to squeeze all of us hard to collect money.  Effective immediately, if you do not stop at the red light, be ready to pay $436 in fines or if you pass a school bus with flashing red signals, you will be charged $616.  The state of California is going for blood, so be extra careful in driving, You cannot afford messing with them.  I have been hearing that Highway Patrols are under pressure to issue a lot more tickets than last year with at least 30% increase in fines over 2009, so beware of radar guns, highway and traffic cameras installed everywhere and the tougher enforcement of parking rules.
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Just for your info, the next time you park in the handicapped zone, even for a minute, you will be looking at almost $ 1000 in parking tickets, so it’d better be worth it.
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California needs money, so pay close attention to the rules of the road!
Traffic Ticket Fines (Effective 01/06/2011)
VC 12814.6    $214:     Failure to obey license provisions.
VC 14600(A)   $214:   Failure to notify DMV of address change within 10 days.
VC 16028(A)     $796:  Failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility (insurance)
VC 21453(A)     $436:    Failure to stop at a red signal.
VC 22349          $214:       Unsafe speed,  1 to 15 miles over the limit.
VC 22350           $328:        Unsafe speed, 16 to 25 miles over the limit.
VC 22450           $214:         Failure to stop at a stop sign.
VC 22454(A)      $616:      Passing a school bus w/ flashing red signals.
VC 23123(A)      $148:      Driving while using a wireless phone not hands free, first offense .
VC 23123(B)      $256:     Driving while using a wireless phone not hands free, each subsequent offense.
VC 23123.5        $148:     Driving while using a wireless device to send, read or write text.
VC 23124            $148:    Minor driving while using a wireless phone.
VC 22500            $976:   Parking in a bus loading area.
VC 22507(A)       $976:   Violation of disabled parking provisions, first offense.
VC 22507(B)     $1876:   Violation of disabled parking provisions, second offense.
VC 26708            $178:    Unlawful material on vehicle windows.
VC 27150            $178:      Adequate muffler required.
VC 27315            $148:      Mandatory use of seat belts.
VC 27360            $436:     Mandatory use of passenger child restraints.
Note: This fine may be reduced by completing a court authorized child seat diversion program .
VC 27400            $178:     Headsets or Earplugs covering both ears.
VC 27803            $178:     Violation of motorcycle safety helmet. requirements.
VC 34506            $616:        Commercial Driver – Log book violation.
VC 4000              $256:        No evidence of current registration.
VC 4159              $178:        Notify DMV of change of address within 10 days.
VC 5200             $178         Proper display of license plates.
VC 9400             $178         Commercial weight fees due.
Note: A couple of the fines may be reduced with valid proof of correction.
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What I’m trying to say, kids, is that daddy’s a money -laundering, warring, elitist drunk and we’re on our own.  Completely.  If we want to climb out of the economic & spiritual depravity / heartbreak we’re in — we can not look to our politicians or their next term resolutions to fix us.  We middle-class and lower middle-class folk must look to each other.  Support each other.  Help each other.  Regardless of ethnic background and religious beliefs.

Our present government has his eye set on turning us into a well-oiled Caste system, into China and/or India Part Deux.  A controlled mass of repressed, overworked, & undervalued workerbees who slave away to feed the overstuffed bellies of elected murderers & exploiters — those white collar criminals we like to revere as our governors, military chiefs, & presidents.

There is hope though, I think.  Great hope.  Times like these prove perfect for taking Destiny into our own hands.  When there’s nothing left to lose, best to risk it all.

Time to educate ourselves, start our own businesses, employ each other — and within these burgeoning communities implement a socially conscious standard of ethical & fair treatment in work, play, & love.  I think we have the power to set in motion a precedence for neighborly & professional behavior through one American business at a time.

“Let them eat cake”, Obama says with a charming smirk.

Obviously, I think it important that we continue voting for the policies and politicians we believe in (whether we feel they have a real chance of winning or not) in order to honor the sprinkle of influence the everyday Juan still has over this country.  Still, we can’t wait for national change to trickle down onto us from the upper echelons while we suck our thumbs & pout.  It must come from within us, spread around us, and rise upward.

At this point, we need nothing from our government.  We can confidently take the reigns of our own lives.  I believe that by consequence, over time, the government will eventually twist their arm to our commoner wiles.

I think it important that we try not to steady the unbridled chariot from a place of fear & anger, however, but from a place of self-realized power & faith.  That will most likely avoid, I hope, the birth of more groups like The Nazi Party aka The Tea Party. Nope, my fellow Americans, Latino immigrants are not the cause of the current economic strife just like the jews weren’t for Germany.  The rich politicians you elected to office are responsible.  Let’s please stop misdirecting our angst?

Here are some perception shifting, deeply inspiring posts from out-of-the-box thinker Seth Godin:

The realization is now

New polling out this week shows that Americans are frustrated with the world and pessimistic about the future. They’re losing patience with the economy, with their prospects, with their leaders (of both parties).

What’s actually happening is this: we’re realizing that the industrial revolution is fading. The 80 year long run that brought ever-increasing productivity (and along with it, well-paying jobs for an ever-expanding middle class) is ending.

It’s one thing to read about the changes the internet brought, it’s another to experience them. People who thought they had a valuable skill or degree have discovered that being an anonymous middleman doesn’t guarantee job security. Individuals who were trained to comply and follow instructions have discovered that the deal is over… and it isn’t their fault, because they’ve always done what they were told.

This isn’t fair of course. It’s not fair to train for years, to pay your dues, to invest in a house or a career and then suddenly see it fade.

For a while, politicians and organizations promised that things would get back to normal. Those promises aren’t enough, though, and it’s clear to many that this might be the new normal. In fact, it is the new normal.

I regularly hear from people who say, “enough with this conceptual stuff, tell me how to get my factory moving, my day job replaced, my consistent paycheck restored…” There’s an idea that somehow, if we just do things with more effort or skill, we can go back to the Brady Bunch and mass markets and mediocre products that pay off for years. It’s not an idea, though, it’s a myth.

Some people insist that if we focus on “business fundamentals” and get “back to basics,” all will return. Not so. The promise that you can get paid really well to do precisely what your boss instructs you to do is now a dream, no longer a reality.

It takes a long time for a generation to come around to significant revolutionary change. The newspaper business, the steel business, law firms, the car business, the record business, even computers… one by one, our industries are being turned upside down, and so quickly that it requires us to change faster than we’d like.

It’s unpleasant, it’s not fair, but it’s all we’ve got. The sooner we realize that the world has changed, the sooner we can accept it and make something of what we’ve got. Whining isn’t a scalable solution.

The opportunity is here

At the same time that our economic engines are faltering, something else is happening. Like all revolutions, it happens in fits and starts, without perfection, but it’s clearly happening.

The mass market is being replaced by multiple micro markets and the long tail of choice.

Google is connecting buyers and sellers over vaster distances, more efficiently and more cheaply than ever before.

Manufacturing is more of a conceptual hurdle than a practical one.

The exchange of information creates ever more value, while commodity products are ever cheaper. It takes fewer employees to generate more value, make more noise and impact more people.

Most of all is this: every individual, self-employed or with a boss, is now more in charge of her destiny than ever before. The notion of a company town or a stagnant industry with little choice is fading fast.

Right before your eyes, a fundamentally different economy, with different players and different ways to add value is being built. What used to be an essential asset (for a person or for a company) is worth far less, while new attributes are both scarce and valuable.

Are there dislocations? There’s no doubt about it. Pain and uncertainty and risk, for sure.

The opportunity, though, is the biggest of our generation (or the last one, for that matter). The opportunity is there for anyone (with or without a job) smart enough to take it–to develop a best in class skill, to tell a story, to spread the word, to be in demand, to satisfy real needs, to run from the mediocre middle and to change everything.

¡Note! Like all revolutions, this is an opportunity, not a solution, not a guarantee. It’s an opportunity to poke and experiment and fail and discover dead ends on the way to making a difference. The old economy offered a guarantee–time plus education plus obedience = stability. The new one, not so much. The new one offers a chance for you to take a chance and make an impact.

¡Note! If you’re looking for ‘how’, if you’re looking for a map, for a way to industrialize the new era, you’ve totally missed the point and you will end up disappointed. The nature of the last era was that repetition and management of results increased profits. The nature of this one is the opposite: if someone can tell you precisely what to do, it’s too late. Art and novelty and innovation cannot be reliably and successfully industrialized.

In 1924, Walt Disney wrote a letter to Ub Iwerks. Walt was already in Hollywood and he wanted his old friend Ubbe to leave Kansas City and come join him to build an animation studio. The last line of the letter said “PS I wouldn’t live in KC now if you gave me the place—yep—you bet—Hooray for Hollywood.” And, just above, in larger letters, he scrawled, “Don’t hesitate—Do it now.”

It’s not 1924, and this isn’t Hollywood, but it is a revolution, and there’s a spot for you (and your boss if you push) if you realize you’re capable of making a difference. Or you could be frustrated. Up to you.

Dreams, princesses & the Disney-industrial complex

“Like a dream come true”

Choose your dreams carefully.

Everyone is entitled to a dream. It gives us hope, focuses our energy, makes us human.

Sometimes, though, we get sold a dream instead of creating our own.

Is it really every girl’s dream to become a princess, to be chosen by someone of royal birth and to have a $34 million wedding? Or is that the Disney-industrial complex betraying you, selling you short?

I just read that the folks who brought us the Mall of America are going to redo the troubled Xanadu shopping complex in New Jersey and rename it The American Dream. Is this the best we can do? Shop?

Dreams are too important to sell cheap, to give over to some organization trying to make a buck.

Catherine Casey chose a different dream–to move to Accra on her own to build an outpost of the Acumen Fund. It’s a dream that scales, that pays dividends, and most of all, that she can make come true.

It’s so easy to be sold on the combination of compliance, consumption and approval by the powers that be. Of course, you’re entitled to any dream you like, but I hope you will choose a bigger one.

Hard work vs. Long work

Long work is what the lawyer who bills 14 hours a day filling in forms does.

Hard work is what the insightful litigator does when she synthesizes four disparate ideas and comes up with an argument that wins the case–in less than five minutes.

Long work has a storied history. Farmers, hunters, factory workers… Always there was long work required to succeed. For generations, there was a huge benefit that came to those with the stamina and fortitude to do long work.

Hard work is frightening. We shy away from hard work because inherent in hard work is risk. Hard work is hard because you might fail. You can’t fail at long work, you merely show up. You fail at hard work when you don’t make an emotional connection, or when you don’t solve the problem or when you hesitate.

I think it’s worth noting that long work often sets the stage for hard work. If you show up enough and practice enough and learn enough, it’s more likely you will find yourself in a position to do hard work.

It seems, though that no matter how much long work you do, you won’t produce the benefits of hard work unless you are willing to leap.