I’m BAAAACK!!

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I’ve been on a rather long hiatus from blogging because sometimes life takes you in some of the most unexpected directions. But now I’m back at it; more energized, more opinionated and even more in your face than ever! So let’s do this and do it BIG!

Blake Lively’s New Lifestyle Site

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I did a quick drive-by on Blake Lively’s new “lifestyle” website called Preserve.us. Welp, that was a serious waste of time. I’m all for capitalism and entrepreneurship; have no issue with people getting paid. But where I draw the line is, celebrities going live with these websites (Gwyneth Paltrow and her idiotic GOOP site comes to mind) selling merchandise that is either far too expensive for the average person. Or loaded with products that can be bought at any supermarket, department store or my personal favorite, Bed, Bath and Beyond, for much less. Blake Lively’s site is full of inane ramblings, random over-used quotes, odd pictures and quite frankly a very depressing tone emanating from the home page….bizarre.

Then when you look further and go to the product prompt, there’s BBQ sauce mixed with jewelry, clothing, pillows and other items that visually, makes no damned sense. Just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean you should. I feel Ms. Lively should probably do what she does best and that’s walk red carpets, wear fabulously expensive designer clothes, cuddle up to that hunky bundle of goodness husband of hers and just be a TV and movie star. Lets face it, she’s not Kim K who can make a dollar out of 10 cents for doing nothing. But I’m sure she’ll do well selling her wares to other celebs and the wealthy who have disposable income to burn. After-all, they’re usually the ones who keep celebrity sites afloat anyway. I mean outside of a handful of star-struck fans but that’s another topic I’ll save for later.

Raising the Minimum Wage…Why Not?

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Today I was reading where Gov. Jerry Brown backed a plan to raise California’s minimum wage to $10.00 an hour by 2016. A number of Los Angeles-area business groups criticized the legislation, saying it would unfairly burden companies. And according to the article in The Huffington Post – Los Angeles, Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, called the hike “obscene” and said it’s unrealistic to increase wages 25 percent in two years.

Well isn’t that special and of course the requisite reasoning for these businesses objections is that the legislation is done by people who don’t understand business. And they would have to pass the costs along to their customers and clientele. HOGWASH!! or BULLSHIT!!!!, you choose. California’s minimum wage is $8.00 which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. However, states like Washington ($9.19) and Oregon ($8.95) are  higher.

Most of those who support this legislation says that the hike will add about $4000 annually to a worker’s paycheck thus with the extra money, they can infuse the local economy with much-needed revenue.  How bad can that be?

I feel the problem is not that employers aren’t able to pay employees a fair living wage, it’s that many of these multimillion dollar businesses simply don’t want to. Many of the owners are motivated by greed; they’re money-whores. They have been allowed to cruise for decades with hiring illegal immigrants, low-balling wages, paying no health insurance to many of their employees ( and this is done by keeping the employees below what would be considered full-time) and in some cases,  inciting an atmosphere of fear. Their stance, because of the over-saturation of unemployed people and illegal immigrants willing to work, is that all of their employees are expendable. If the employee puts up a fuss, then SEE YA! And the reality is that they will probably have that position filled within a few days, if that long.

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I  saw a couple of months ago where the owner of the restaurant chain Mr. Chow, Michael Chow, sold his small mansion, and I’m gagging at the idea of a “small” mansion, and bought a behemoth. Michael Chow is apropos of many of these business owners and restaurateurs who are out there putting up a stink about minimum wage. And I use him as example because he comes from affluence. His father is a renown Chinese actor and his mother comes from a very wealthy family. This is why most of those business owners have no clue. They’ve never had to work for minimum wage, they’ve never had to travel for hours to and from work and they’ve never had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. They don’t have to figure out how to pay for glasses, braces, clothing, food, shelter, school supplies and college. That’s a given for them.

Many hop into their Rolls Royce Phantoms, Bentley’s, Jags and what not,  leave work and pass by their employees standing at the bus stop, and don’t even see them because they’re invisible and go home to their mansions in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, the Hollywood Hills or wherever they decide to lay their expensive hats and handbags. Unfortunately, most couldn’t care less if they tried about their employees plight.  I have seen many domestic helpers coming out of the Hollywood Hills on foot, down perilous hills, around dangerous curves all the while their employers were luxuriating at their plush, palatial estates.  You would think that knowing their helper doesn’t have a car, they could at least take them to the bus stop. Oh Hell no, what was I thinking.

According to CNBC, California is number 9 on the list of where the wealthiest 5% in the nation lives.

Percentage of millionaire households in 2011: 6.01%
Millionaire households: 750,686
Total households: 12.49 million

To me this is obscene. I don’t begrudge anyone their hard-earned success, but a lot of the wealthiest people’s success comes from family wealth and connections. It puts a person WELL ahead of the game when you have everything in place to succeed. It’s the same with housing. We have an influx of new apartment complexes going up here in Los Angeles almost every few months, but the vast majority of working people can’t afford to live there. The rent is starting in most places, anywhere from $3000, $6000 to upwards of $13,000 a month. Who are these millionaire/billionaire developers building these complexes for if it’s not for their own ilk?

Even with a minimum wage increase to $10.00 an hour, most people still have to live in undesirable neighborhoods or way out in the Valley where the apartments are cheaper, but there’s stiff competition to rent the ones in better neighborhoods. Living in the city where it’s convenient to everything…within walking and short driving distances to supermarkets, pharmacies and shopping complexes, FORGET IT, unless you have stayed put in a rent stabilized apartment for years.

It saddens me to know that we are fast becoming a nation where fiction is now becoming fact. We are moving toward the Dystopian societies of the films Elysium and Soylent Green. The gap is widening between the rich and poor and the middle class is being slowly squeezed out of the equation entirely. So I ask again,  why not raise the minimum wage to something where people can live comfortably with some semblance of dignity and respect? Well I guess raising the minimum wage would mean the wealthy just couldn’t buy another expensive toy…and we can’t have THAT, now can we?

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Happy To Be Back Blogging!

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Hi everyone, I’m happy to be back blogging because I took a much-needed break from blogging to concentrate on my screenwriting and film productions. I also must tell you I had a serious case of writer’s and blogger’s block. I had these ideas and stories floating around in my head but damn, it was HELL trying to get them on paper.

I was literally staring at my screen looking dazed, confused, bewildered and just plain CRAY…CRAY…CRAZY!! Writer’s block is a bitch! But after clearing my mind and life of the clutter and dumbfounding silliness,  I am back to being my old disturbed self who hears those wonderful creative voices in my head on a daily basis.  They keep me company you know. 😉

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Oh and by the way, if you DON’T hear voices, then you’re either not as creative as you think, or the medication is working too well. Just puttin’ it out there!

In any case, I will try to keep my momentum going  from here on in and blog until my little nimble fingers look embalmed as Johnny Depp’s did in his version of Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows. ImageAnd as a side note, I thought that movie was funny as Hell…I know I may be the only one, but that’s just how I roll.

Well my little chickadees that’s it for now and I’ll be seeing you soon out in the blogosphere.  Have a great weekend, do something fun and stay creative…PEACE!

eyes29

 

Throwback Music Friday – The Smooth Sounds of the Whispers

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I’ve been on a break because I had surgery but today I’m feeling better and particularly nostalgic. I remember back in the day when music soothed your soul, got you on the dance floor and your parents didn’t have to worry about the message in the lyrics. The message was clear, love ruled and raunchy wasn’t even on the radar.

Today, I know some of you probably haven’t heard of this group but not too long ago, their songs were the “baby-making” music of a generation. A slick soulful group comprised of twin brothers Wallace and Walter Scott, Leaveil Degree, Nicholas Caldwell and Marcus Hutson who died in 2000. Of course anyone who is into R & B would know the fabulous and dynamic Whispers.

Their career started back in the 1960’s but I became aware of their sound in the 80’s with such hits as In the Raw, Just Gets Better With Time, In the Mood, Rock Steady, And the Beat Goes On and It’s a Love Thing. 

With an over 40 year career under their belts, they were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003. They were given The Rhythm and Blues prestigious Pioneer Award in 2008. And with an overwhelming popular vote, they were inducted into the SoulMusic Hall of Fame at SoulMusic.com in 2012.

Here you go, I’m overloading you with my boys…Just Gets Better With Time, In The Mood, In The Raw, It’s A Love Thing and a surprise…who knows what song number 5 will be, but I guarantee it’s as sweet as honey, The Whispers yall!

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Today is a day to celebrate women. Women who have fought the good fight for fairness and equality for women and young girls globally. Though we have made great strides in education as well as our professional and personal lives, there’s still a long way for us to go. In the US alone, women earn about 77% of men’s salaries in 2011 compared to 77.4 % in 2010. We’ve actually lost ground in some sectors.

Over two-thirds of women in the world—up to 76 percent in some countries—have been targeted for sexual and/or physical abuse at some point in their lives, according to United Nations statistics on women. Yet we had members of Congress fighting tooth and nail to not reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act,  legislation that would make it easier to prosecute crimes against women, including domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking. The bill also extends protections to gays and lesbians and women of Native American tribal lands who are attacked or abused by non-tribal residents.

We also have another all out assault on women’s reproductive rights where some Senators, Congressmen and Governors feel that they have a “moral imperative” to legislate a woman’s body as if we’re not intelligent enough to make informed decisions. Trying to stop contraceptives from being covered under our work insurance but Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications for men, are completely acceptable. However, they should stop saying they’re pro-life when in actuality they’re pro-fetus. This legislation has nothing to do with anything other than men trying to dictate our actions.  And laws of this nature will disproportionately affect rural and impoverishment women because they won’t be able to seek abortions out of the states with these Draconian laws as those who are wealthier. Thus causing more children to be abandoned, abused, thrown into a system that is painfully outdated and flawed and so goes the cycle of poverty for the children and their mothers.

Rape and honor killings are at a fever pitch in countries like India and throughout the Middle East and those women are in danger just running errands or going to the movies. Africa is one of the biggest shames of them all, because some African women in particularly dangerous regions, are serially raped on a daily basis. They are impregnated, infected with STD’s including HIV/AIDS, maimed and genitally mutilated.

Yes, this is a day to embrace our triumphs and acknowledge our struggles, but under no circumstances should we ever be lulled into a false sense of security that we’ve finally arrived. We must still keep up the offensive not only for ourselves but women all over the world. We should not rest until every woman and little girl has the same opportunities as men and boys. Gender should NEVER be an obstacle to success and happiness.

Peace, love and blessings to all of you…until next year, Besos!

Throwback Music Friday….It’s Baaaaaaaack!

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Last Friday I was unable to post my favorite ol’ skool jams because I was in meetings about a new docu-series I’m writing and producing. But I’m back this week with a two-fer…one of my favorite bands of the 80’s and 90’s, Depeche Mode.

Depeche Mode is an English Electronic Music group formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex. The original line-up included Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher and Vince Clarke. Clarke left in 1981 and was replaced by Alan Wilder until his departure in 1995. The band continued as a trio with Gahan, Gore and Fletcher.

Depeche Mode has sold over 100 million albums and singles worldwide making them, arguably, the most successful electronic music  band in history.

This week they released a single from their new album of the same name Heaven. So here it is,  Depeche Mode’s haunting new single Heaven.

As a bonus track, I’m including my sentimental favorite, Policy of Truth from 1990’s Violator.