Saturday, December 22, 2012


2013 DATES (all Saturdays): April 13, May 11, June 8, July 13, August 10. INTERESTED bands/performers, dancers, theater acts, juggles etc—email me, or Jadwiga McKay, or call Marta Osborne at 828 280 1555.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obama's Stimulus, Romney's Austerity

AT the last presidential debate, both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent majority of their tussle around military spending, Iran, Israel, Pakistan etc—all the macho Captain America posturings and “national security” cautionary air. What about global economy? Aside from China, what is the trade policy on Russia, Brazil, India, Southeast Asia. What about the European Union? All this “threat to America” should be set aside—instead, focus on formulating a more sound economic/trade relations with the world...
     A glaring look at the debate also articulates Obama's edge in the race. Romney appeared tensed, scattered, unconvincing–and he agreed with Obama on most issues (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iran). The Massachusetts politician didn't present one smartly thought out foreign policy agenda. The president was more firm and convincing—although I don't necessarily agree with some or most of his arguments. Romney contradicted himself on not just one issue. It's as though he forgot what he kept on hammering out in his campaign speeches...
     I am particularly concerned that they didn't discuss or even asked by the moderator about how they'd deal with Russia being a member now of WTO (as China's main competitor in "stealing" American jobs and patents), China gaining control in South China Sea (a main trade gateway and defense fort), and what about the European Union? It bothers me that the debate centered on national security in re Iran and Pakistan... It sends a chilling message to Americans and the world that Muslims should be hated instead of looking at the global situation as a business negotiation and mutually beneficial compromises.
     But then, let's leave foreign policy for a bit and focus on economy.
     Mitt Romney’s best argument on the campaign trail is consistent but weak: Under President Obama, the American economy has remained gasping. That is not hard to argue. But if we scrutinize the Governor's proposed economic policies, well—Americans should worry more. He favors the same austerity measures that Germany and Britain have been implementing to rescue the economic downturn—as though he isn't looking outside his window what's going on in the West.
     Austerity refers to a policy of deficit-cutting by lowering spending via a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided. Austerity policies are often used by governments to try to reduce their deficit spending and are sometimes coupled with increases in taxes to demonstrate long-term fiscal solvency to creditors.
     Textbook wisdom says that in an event of a downturn, governments should go into deficit to stimulate demand. That trick, after all, saved America from the Great Depression. But times are changing so fast. Recent European data and analysis by the International Monetary Fund underscore that austerity in the middle of a downturn not only doesn’t help but leads to even higher ratios of debt to economic output. The IMF projects that Europe's economy is expected to shrink even more this year, and that the US economy will only grow by 2 percent.
     Republicans who are almost unanimously in favor of austerity tried their shenanigan in New Jersey. NJ ranked 47th in economic growth last year. When Gov. Chris Christie took office in 2010 and began to impose austerity measures, New Jersey ranked 35th in its unemployment rate; now it ranks 48th.
     Bottomline, Obama's massive stimulus program and Germany/Britain's US Republican-endorsed austerity aren't working for the West.
     Needless to say, the president's $700 billion rescue of Wall Street in 2008 created only at least 1.4 million jobs, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That wasn’t enough. Moreover, the 93 percent income gains from the 2009-10 recovery went to only the top 1 percent of taxpayers, says economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty.
     So what's going on? Americans should head East... Drop Europe and ponder countries that are doing exceptional work with their economies. I mean, even the “lowly” Philippines has recently donated money to a cash-strapped IMF.

Friday, October 12, 2012

US Presidential Elections: It's All Foreign Policy

U.S. PRESIDENTIAL elections.
     What American voters must dig in deeper is Washington's ever-intensifying relationship with global economy/regional security, especially that Uncle Sam's European allies are in disarray. World Bank and IMF are virtually penniless and tempest roars on the streets.
     Historically, most US presidents devote more energy while on campaign trail on domestic issues than overseas—but about a year or two after they are elected, they seem to focus an ever increasing amount of time to the rest of the world. The Balkans consumed Bill Clinton. George W. Bush launched two wars. Barack Obama paid much attention on revamping counter-terrorism policies, rebalancing priorities on the Pacific Rim, prosecuting a war in Libya, and wiping out Osama bin Laden.
     Without spending too much rhetoric on foreign policy, it is apparent that both candidates' tactical teams are looking beyond the West: Asia, Southeast Asia, South America. They have reasons to be wary. The playing field has become tight in the past few years. China has emerged big like the proverbial dragon, Russia launches huge stakes in Antarctica's melting icebergs for oil etc etc. India and Brazil—and most Southeast Asian countries—have muddled bidding for the world's factories with China and Russia.

NOTWITHSTANDING President Obama's campaign pledges to fix the economy, few weeks following his proclamation in 2008/9, he embarked on a trade mission to China—for obvious reasons. Apparently, such gesture didn't manifest into good tidings. Hence these days, as Mr. Obama runs for re-election, he takes on tougher line toward Beijing...
     The White House has filed two major cases in the past three months against China at the World Trade Organization. On the same day as the latest trade action, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced plans in Tokyo to help Japan deploy a new missile-defense system, which has aroused suspicion in Beijing.
     Then figure this out: Why did Washington gave a no-visa policy to Taiwan—a privilege that China doesn't enjoy although the Chinese is tops in terms of bringing in tourism money to the US. Washington has, time and again, rejected the suggestion that the United States was pursuing a cold-war-style containment of China... Let's wait and see. Meantime, we have to ask: Why is it there are renewed war exercises in South Pacific—at a time of Chinese “bullying” in contested islands in South China Sea?

BUT hold up, let us also look into how the presidentiables stand on North Korea, Iran, Mexico (it is NOT an illegal immigrant perch, it is an important economic partner), Colombia's drug wars, Libya (remember, Libya is an OPEC power), Afghanistan (take Kabul out, then worry about your next medication/pills--this country is a pharmaceutical minefield).
     Not Obama or Romney have presented credible or consistent stand on these matters, as yet. Americans can't just say, "Let's just look within." Whatever Washington decides on outside and beyond affect America's smallest town and biggest cities. Look what happened when Bill Clinton got China into WTO in the 1990s...
     If the 1 percent/Wall Street pushes for Russia, India and Brazil in re factory/outsourcing alternatives besides China and Southeast Asia, expect recession to go worst than the Great Depression. But then, we are all numbed by apps, FB, tweets, and Smartphones, so it's dim.

MOREOVER, I don't get the point why Romney/Obama (esp. Mitt) had to harp on education and the middle class. Education? College grads are waiting and bussing tables and cleaning houses just to pay rent. So Massachusetts made good in educating its youths under Romney? But for what? Where are the jobs that levels with such good education? Even Harvard scholars are caught cheating...
     And the middle class? They are living on their beat up sedans. History says many exodus to America for greener pastures... But the US has become simply a place to hang out and chill place for the contemporary rich (check Chinese and Brazilian tourist data in NYC alone in the last 4 years)--while brilliant Americans leave families and fly to Saipan or Hongkong or Guangzhou province to supervise workers. The world order has tilted.
     America has more than ever couldn't survive without its allies. Whoever wins in the coming election, must convince his constituency that life and living will improve drastically—because Washington is adapting a more decisive stance in regards foreign policy.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Traveling Bonfires presents 
SEPT 11 (Tues), 8 to 11 PM, 
with James McKay (from England), Laura Hope-Gill, Caleb Beissert, Pasckie Pascua, and Aaron Price. 
Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, 
1 Page Avenue, Asheville

at The Altamont Theater, SEPT 2: 
WITH: James McKay (emcee), David Hopes, Griffin Payne, Caleb Beissert, Eric Steineger, Pasckie Pascua, Jeremy Rice, Barbie Angell, Kevin Evans, Ekua Adisa, Mike Cook. Music by Aaron Price 
and Vendetta Crème.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

MY UPCOMING GIGS, as featured poet

[1] JULY 24 (Tuesday), 9 to 11 PM
with Caleb Beissert, Aaron Price, and Sarah Phoenix Noel

Battery Park Book Exchange 
and Champagne Bar
1 Page Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 252-0020
Part of “Peace is a Flower” Summer 2012 Gig Series

[2] AUG 8 (Wednesday), 
8 to 10 PM.
Mind Gravy Poetry, produced by Al Black
Drip Coffee, 729 Saluda Ave at Five Points, Columbia, SC
Part of his "Red is the Color of my Night" road gigs for summer of 2012

INQUIRY: Catherine Durner Ball, 828 252 7798 or Marta Osborne, 828 280 1555,

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Love on Credit

THERE’s a certain disturbing parallelism how we wade along an acquired credit card/financial loan culture and current way of life—with the manner in which we have come to regard love (primitive, pristine kind of love) and try to sustain a relationship. It sort of feeds each other, in some absurd yet socially-acceptable way… 
     In our quest for life’s comfort and convenience in pursuit of happiness, we buy in to a “give me some good stuff now and I’ll pay you later” ticket that has been sold to us the moment we sign up as member of society. It seems to be the most normal, smartest, and reasonable way to live a life—a social contract that is facilitated by a bank or any societal/community edifice that is erected and fueled by corporate profit.
      Problem is, we are, most often than not, unaware or oblivious of the longevity or future of our capability to pay—since, like addiction, we savor the moment and disregard what’s up next. “Next” is taken care of by a job arrangement that is as shaky as an unpredictable weather, or some inheritance money or business savings that could dwindle in time as inflation and recession hits reality check. Although bigger acquisitions (cars, business capital, houses, education) take 15 to 20 years of nonstop payment, the enticement of present comfort and convenience that these acquisitions offer is stronger. We want these amenities and luxuries now, so we got them on a mouse click—yet we don’t really own them, yet… We have to work hard to fully own them later.

IN LOVE, we know we feel it when it happens—we have it inside. We know it’s reality within than without.
     Despite current studies that say lesser people show interest in marriage or committed relationships, majority of single people—61 percent, according to Pew Research—still hope to get hitched and savor matrimonial bliss. We all want to hold on to love.
     Last Valentine’s Day, consumer expenditures reached almost $18 billion, according to a National Retail Federation finding—up 8.5 percent from 2011. A Time article, citing business and academic sources, estimate that an average of 220,000 wedding proposals are pronounced on Valentine’s Day each year (10 percent of the annual total in just one day). And that, 70 percent of singles said they wouldn’t mind a blind date for the occasion.
     Meantime, romantic fiction accounts for more than $1 billion annually in US sales. Harlequin—the brand name alias for romance novels—sells more than four books each second. Many are still gasping over Stephenie Meyer’s silly vampires in love and whoever The Bachelor or The Bachelorette chooses as his/her longtime mate…
     But LOVE is not a daydream, reality TV, or Shakespeare’s sonnets. We want a piece of that good stuff—and we want it to last, we want to touch and feel it. Love has to enter into a social/human “contract,” or a relationship (partnership, marriage) to be able to, at least, acquire a semblance of holding on to love.
     Pretty much the same way we treat material acquisitions—we try our best to find the man/woman of our dreams on the get go. We have to be sure that the person we want to coexist with under one roof, and build a family with—is also financially capable of paying back what both acquired, or help both enter into more acquisitions to make life “more convenient.”

HENCE, we keep on looking—and we prefer convenience and accessibility, as well, in terms of finding the right partner. Dating sites—which number an estimated 1,500 with a projected net worth of $2.1 billion, based on recent figures—offer that user-friendly service. There are about 54 million singles in the US, and some 5.5 million of those use dating services. Smartphone users spend on average 81 minutes using mobile apps compared to only 74 minutes on the web.
     You see, even finding love and relationship is tied up to business—hence, finding lovers and spouses has got to be business-like, too. But aren’t relationships—and love—like life, an interactive flow of reflex/response that is nourished and nurtured as two people work around it? Compromises and negotiations, patience and tolerance, synergy and teamwork. Isn’t happiness/good living and love/relationships working projects that are built and fortified as both work around the bittersweets and rollercoasters of life? That life and love aren’t gift-wrapped packages—signed, sealed, delivered—and all figured out?
     The financial burden of living has gone too steep to climb, too high to hurdle, that the only way to make sense of life is to find someone who is physically/materially capable of bailing us out of what we have acquired. Sadly, when we meet that life’s partner who’s financially capable—we often go on acquiring more…
     So where do we place LOVE in that context—that ridiculous itch, swashbuckling idiocy, unreasonable insistence—that make us all human, when focus has shifted to paying bills and loans and we are frantically working for the money like there’s no tomorrow? Love needs time and attention, beyond the constraints of hours spent and dollars paid, far from the limits of gilded four walls. It is difficult indeed, given the circumstances that seem to entrap us, but there is always a way. We just have to start somewhere, somehow. It is on how two people in love talk about it, if they have ample time for those moments, that is. And if they do have time, the next ultimate move is... Just do it: Give love the chance to regain its bearings and be the way it is--for two people's lives. Love can wait, but not for long. It doesn't pause when it decides to stop--unconsummated, unattented love dies a natural death.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

THE JEREMY LIN STORY: Race, Business, Game, Himself, and New York City

IF Jeremy Lin were of Italian, Greek, or other European descent, there likely would not have been a comparable article speculating about this topic.” –A post in NYTimes message board.

In response, let me elaborate on Jeremy Lin:

(1) HIS RACE: Look back in time, the “firsts” in competitive sports, in terms of hurdling the racial barrier in white America—Sugar Ray Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, and most recently, Tiger Woods (golf) and the Williams sisters (tennis), who excelled in sports games that were once dominated by whites (whether they were Irish, English, German, Italian, Swedish, Australian etc). Jeremy Lin is the first legitimate Asian-American sports personality who actually created such a tremor of an impact. It’s uprecedented, it’s new, it’s novelty. Imagine if there are 15 other Asian-American superstar millionaires in NBA, would people be this Linsane? There’s Ichiro Suzuki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Lincecum (and the upcoming Yu Darvish) in baseball, Troy Polamalu in football, and Manny Pacquiao in boxing—but Lin, so far, is a lot more than his game of basketball. For one, he is Taiwanese or Chinese descent: We are talking about the most gargantuan heap of humanity on Earth—who, whether we are happy or not, kind of controls the world’s economy at this point in time. When the Chinese of the Universe yell “LIN!” expect a tsunami.

(2) THEIR BUSINESS: Time Warner and MSG fixed their quarrel in the name of cable TV profit, all NBA arenas that Linsanity visits posts record-highs in attendance, sale of shirts and merch is simply Linsane (there’s even one dude who just moved to copyright“Linsanity” as trademark), and VOILA! Chinese all over the globe are watching like the kid is their biological kid—Asia bought TV/NBA coverage rights in all Knicks games, which means moolah generated from this hoopla is even bigger than the Super Bowl. And corporate America is just warming up.

(3) HIS GAME: It all boils down to his game. Lin can play ball, no doubt. He is a multi-tasker: he shoots, passes, steals, rebounds—and he’s only 6’3” and 200 lbs. He is not the typical ball-hog or selfish ball player, he makes his teammates look good as well. He turns the ball over quite frequently—it’s primarily because he’s all over the court most time (more than 36 mins per game), handles the ball 80 percent of the way, and takes more risks than the average point guard. More than all, he wins games. When he was given the nod to take the floor by his coach, he almost single-handedly put New York Knicks back in a winning pace from a badly-losing situation.

(4) HIMSELF as PLAYER: His rise to stardom is an enticing and intriguing Hollywood feelgood blockbuster. After receiving no athletic scholarship offers out of high school and being undrafted out of college, the 2010 Harvard University (Economics) graduate reached a partially guaranteed contract deal later that year with his hometown Golden State Warriors. Lin seldom played in his rookie season and was assigned to the National Basketball Development League (D-League) three times. He was waived by Golden State and the Houston Rockets the following pre-season before joining the Knicks early in the 2011-12 season. He was again assigned to the D-League and continued to play sparingly. In February 2012, he unexpectedly led a winning streak by New York while being promoted to the starting lineup.

[5] HIMSELF as HIMSELF: He has sterling humility—a trait that is not usually seen in most superstar athletes these days. He doesn’t trash talk, he acknowledges God and his teammates before he even mentions his achievements on a particular game. Before he shot to prominence, he was crashing in his bro and friend’s couches—since he wasn’t even sure if his non-guaranteed contract will amount to anything. That was about two weeks ago. He is the ideal role model: Modest beginnings, immigrant dreamer, accomplished academic background, God-fearing, humility/determination/perseverance/hard work, exceptional ball player. No wonder, people from 5 to 75—irrelevant of color, creed, culture and social standing—come out to join Linsanity. He is the personification of the Great American Dream, especially at these times when the Dream seems to be fleeting away…

[6] NEW YORK CITY. Linsanity happened and is happening in New York City, the grand stage of America’s insane love affair for bombastic melodrama, boisterous fanfare, and magnificent corporate brawn.