The Faces of Awe — Music (Secret Society)

I belong to a
Secret Society.

requires no fee or
preexisting condition.
To join
You must

Everyone can belong.
Many lose their ability to
boogie woogie.

As a consequence
Unfortunates forfeit
membership in
the sacred society of
Rock and roll.

Gonna tell Aunt Mary
About Uncle John
He claims he has the misery
But he having lots of fun
Oh baby

We take shelter in
Le petit Richard.

Well, it’s one for the money
two for the show
Three to get ready
now go, cat, go.

Rockabilly rapture.

Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I’m in.
I am everyday people, yeah, yeah

the democracy of dance.

“Well we made a promise
We swore we’d always remember
No retreat, baby,
No surrender.
Like soldiers in the winter’s night
With a vow to defend
No retreat, baby,
No surrender

Many things are
worth fighting for:
the planet, and
Rock and roll.

The Faces of Awe — Collective Effervescence 2


Rock Concert:
Squeezed in,
Until we dance.
Exhilarated by
Social contact,
We let go.
Euphoric community.

Football Game:
My 50th reunion spills over to
The annual big game.
Boring until
Jefferson’s TD.
The party stops to
Focus on the action.
30 seconds left
Tie game.
Henderson drops back to pass
Decides to run
We jump up and down
Scream and hug,
Bonded in

Church Service:
Sunday morning
Relatives’ megachurch
2500 worshipers
Singing “new wave” hymns.
TV pastor
“God’s love”
John 3:16.
“God loves you wherever your are.”
Ends with
Jesus loves me—this I know,
For the Bible tells me so:
Little ones to him belong,
They are weak, but he is strong
Moved by the

The Faces of Awe — Collective Effervescence


Surrounded by like-minded
I feel safe.
In my sangha
I can be vulnerable.

My daily practice
Integrates with my life.
My sangha shares my goals,
We adopt the same path forward.

I know everyone and
they know me.
Together we struggle and
Hold each other accountable.

The Faces of Awe – Moral Authority

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Life is available only in the present moment.”
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind.”

In Thay’s presence
I am peaceful
And focussed.

Spiritual energy.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.”

Each life is sacred.

“I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

My moral cornerstone is
Respect for all beings.

“My actions are my only true belongings.”

Morality is active.

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness.”

Life is filled with blessings.

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”

To live is to be connected.

The Faces of Awe – Nature

Playing in the Santa Monica surf
Tumbled over

Encountering the great sequoias
Holding up the sky.

Surfing in an
Early-morning fog tunnel.

Staggering as the
The planet palpitates.

Relaxing at Tassajara
Baking in the stone-walled sauna
Plunging in the creek
Soaking in the communal tub
Exfoliating on the redwood deck
Absorbing the milky way.

Swimming from Alcatraz

A Child’s Christmas in Westwood

Sunny days
Riding my bike around San Fernando Valley
Passing palm trees and orange groves
Traversing vacant lots and ranchettes.

Christmas began when Santa floated down Hollywood Boulevard
Escorted by Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy
USC pom-pom girls
Bob Hope in a red convertible.

Christmas songs
Christmas tree lots
Bell-ringing Santas
No snow.

Christmas culminated with Grandma’s feast:
Days of shopping
Hours of baking
Tedious preparations.

Mother drove our Chrysler sedan
Over Laurel Canyon Boulevard
To the great house on Kelton Avenue
While Bill got car sick.

Lilly Izenour didn’t drive
We chauffeured her around Westwood Village
the A&P, Ralph’s, Desmond’s,
and the Fox theatre for a Disney film.

Grandpa reclined in a red leather chair
Wearing his holiday vest and slippers
Sipping bourbon
Listening to the radio.

On Christmas morning
Well scrubbed and dressed
We attended the Westwood Methodist Church
Where Grandpa was an elder.

Harry and Lorene, Betty Jane and Tommy arrived
With Terri, Jan, Jill, Nancy, and Claudia
We opened presents
Under the giant tree.

The women cooked
The men drank
The grandchildren played
The house filled with aroma.

In the eye of the Christmas storm
Sat the reliable O’Keefe and Merritt
Two ovens and two broilers
Space for one turkey, a casserole, and three pies.

At four o’clock
Fifteen sat down at the long table
Grandpa said a desultory grace
Carved the mammoth turkey.

Stacks of garden vegetables
Mountains of potatoes
Overdressed head lettuce
Quivering molds of jello.

Pumpkin pastry with real whipped cream
Apple and mince pie
Punch & Judy ice cream
Peanut brittle.

The women cleaned up
The men smoked cigarettes
I read “The Hardy Boys”
The radio blared the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Father drove our Chrysler sedan
Over Laurel Canyon Boulevard
Into the San Fernando Valley
While Bill got car sick.

2022 Midterms: What We Learned

The final midterm votes have been counted. Rather than being swept away in a “red wave”, Democrats increased their Senate majority (51-49) with the re-election of Raphael Warnock. And the Republicans gained a slight House majority of five votes (222-213) — with one Democratic seat (VA 4) open because of death. Here are three observations:

1.The United States is deeply polarized: This shouldn’t come as a shock.  What surprised me was that in an election where Trump wasn’t on the ballot, Republicans voted in big numbers.  Many of their voters seem locked into a mentality of “any Republican candidate is better than a Democrat.”

In the midterms, Democrats ran hard and Republicans did, too. While Democrats can take pride in the fact that they defeated dreadful Senate candidates, such as Herschel Walker, the fact remains that, in Georgia, Walker garnered 1.7 million votes. In Arizona, another dreadful Republican candidate, Kari Lake, garnered 1.27 million votes in an unsuccessful campaign for governor.

Republicans drank the Trump kool-aid and voted accordingly. More Republicans voted than did Democrats.  It took a focused Democratic effort to (temporarily) stem the dark tide.

In 2024, even if Donald Trump is not a viable candidate, it seems likely that Republicans will operate in a different reality than do Democrats.  What will it take to bridge this gap?  Perhaps recognition that we have to unite in a response to climate change.

2. It helps to be an incumbent: All the Senators running for reelection, won their seats — including the dreadful Ron Johnson in Wisconsin. Democrats picked up the open Pennsylvania Senate seat when John Fetterman defeated Mehmut Oz. Only one incumbent governor lost, Democrat Steve Sisolak in Nevada. Nine House incumbents lost their re-election campaigns: six Democrats and three Republicans.

The key element in these races was support of “independent” voters. According to the Cook Report (, where incumbents had the support of Independent voters, they won. (For example, in the Nevada Governor’s race, Sisolak lost the support of independents.)

Three excellent Democratic Senate candidates — Barnes, Beasley, and Deming — were defeated because the Republican Party ran negative racist ads.  Because of Trump the GOP has become the party of white supremacy — another indication Republicans are operating in an alternative reality.

3.The House races were very close. In the House of Representatives, the Republican margin of victory was five seats. The closest five Republican victories (AZ 1, CA 13, CO 8, NT 17, NY22) were decided by 10,249 total votes; for example, CO 3 was decided by 546 votes. Just a bit more effort could have resulted in a Democratic victory.

The blame for the Democrats loss in the House can be allocated between New York and California. In New York the Dems lost five blue seats.  ( ) In California the Dems lost one blue seat (CA 13) and failed to swing several winnable seats because of low voter turnout. (In California, total 2022 turnout was 10.9 million. In 2021, for the recall election, it was 12.8 million. In 2020, turnout was 17.7 million and in 2018, 12.7 million.)

Writing in the Cook Report, David Wasserman observed: “Despite warnings from both parties that the midterms were existential to the future of the country, Americans cast just over 107 million votes for House, down from 114 million in 2018… The decline was highly uneven: in districts that are 75% white or more, turnout was on average 72% of 2020 levels (by total votes cast). But in majority/plurality Black districts, it was 61% of 2020 levels, in Hispanic majority/plurality seats it was just 57.9% of 2020 levels. Across all majority-nonwhite seats, it was 60.7%.”

(For an alternative perspective, the 538 website ( argues that “Republicans flipped a net six seats because of redistricting.”)

What’s ahead?  We’re in a period of dramatic transition.  If you watch the stock market — not a task for the faint of heart — you know that at least once a week there’s a change of opinion about what direction the economy is headed.  Today it’s a bear market; tomorrow it’s a bull market.

There’s a lot happening in the United States.  We’re still struggling to get out of the pandemic.  The impacts of climate change are more evident. The war in Ukraine indicates that the global order is shifting.  The US economy is volatile.  Trump has (so far) eluded prison.  Etcetera.

The retirement of Nancy Pelosi indicates a shift to younger Democratic leadership in the House.  I predict that this will happen with Democrats in general, and that Joe Biden won’t run for reelection in 2024.  There are many Democrats who would be acceptable replacements.

Donald Trump has had a pathological impact on the Republican Party.  In 2024, I don’t expect him to be a viable candidate, but I do expect his malignant influence to continue.  Recent polls indicate that many Republicans prefer DeSantis to Trump.  (Another possibility is Elon Musk.)  Republicans are struggling to replace Trump with pathetic clones.  The GOP is afraid to root out the malignancy.

I’m hopeful that 2024 will be a change election.  In the meantime, hold on tight; we’re traveling through rough water.

Notes from the Battlefield

60th Stanford Reunion

Sue: John would have been here but he had a heart attack.  Last year, Barbara died from cancer. You remember Ken? He was in a terrible auto accident. Cynthia went hiking and fell off a cliff…

Lou: I live in Beverly Hills and have a pied-à-terre in New York; and a condo in Aspen and another in Wailea. I spend a lot of time in Vegas. I just bought an Aston Martin. I can’t stay very long, I’m working on a new deal…

Chris: We live in Chagrin Falls. My husband, Paul, is an anesthesiologist. We have three children: Paul Junior works on Wall Street. Janice and her family live on a ranch outside Whitefish, Montana; I often go there to help Janice with her daughters. Mason is in Los Angles, struggling to find himself.

Nick: Are you going to the Arizona State game? I go to all the all the games; my tickets are on the fifty-yard line. The “boosters” are unhappy with coach Shaw. Do you remember my key block in “the big game”?

Nell: Do you mind if I smoke? I’ve given up all my vices except for cigarettes. Coughs. I’m doing better now since I gave my heart to Jesus.

Larry: I’m an Uber driver.  It works with my schedule because I go to one or two meetings a day. My wife and I were meth addicts. I got into recovery; Lucy didn’t and now she’s dead.

Sally: Ed wants to say hello but he can’t talk much since his stroke.

2022 Midterms: 10 Takeaways

The dust from the 2022 midterm elections has almost settled and it’s time to consider what we’ve learned.

1.There wasn’t a “red wave.” For months we have been hearing that Republicans were going to achieve a historic victory in the midterms: take control of the House and Senate and deliver a massive repudiation to Democrats, in general, and the Biden administration in particular.  This didn’t happen.  Democrats maintained control of the Senate and, at this writing, the House is narrowly divided.

2. Trump floundered.  Many of us feared that not only would Democrats be clobbered but also Donald Trump would emerge from the election in a strong political position.  This didn’t happen.  In general, Trump-loving candidates didn’t do well; for example, Arizona Senate candidate, Blake Masters, lost “bigly.”  Trump has decided to run for President in 2024, but he’s not a strong as he once was — he’s no longer a “king maker.”

3. The “Election-denier” movement floundered.  Donald Trump sponsored a set of candidates who were united not only in their feasance to Trump but also in their belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.  Many of these zealots ran for governor or secretary of state offices, where they would be in a position to directly influence election results.  In general, they lost.  For example, Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Kari Lake in Arizona.

4. The Mainstream Media was wrong:  In the run up to the election, the mainstream media — notably the New York Times — predicted a red wave, based upon their contention that a combination of these factors would sink Democrats: President Biden’s poll numbers, persistent inflation, and historical mid term trends favoring the Party out of power.  The 538 website said that voters (narrowly) preferred Republicans over Democrats.  The last minute polls were very favorable to Republicans.  For example, the 538 website average showed Mark Kelly ahead in Arizona  by slightly more than 1 percent (he won by more than 5 percent).

The mainstream media, and the last minute polls, were wrong.  There are many explanations for this discrepancy.  I think there’s a simple answer: young women overwhelmingly preferred Democrats.  (  “Exit polls show 72 percent of women ages 18-29 voted for Democrats in House races nationwide. In a pivotal Pennsylvania Senate race, 77 percent of young women voted for embattled Democrat John Fetterman, helping to secure his victory.”  Young people in general preferred Dems ( ) “Early estimates suggest that midterm turnout among people under 30 was the second highest it’s been in three decades, outpaced only by 2018 — the election after Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential win.”

In addition, Independent voters preferred Democrats: “Independent voters made up 31% of the electorate and they favored Democrats over Republicans by a margin of 49% to 47%, a stark break from the past four midterms in which they voted by double digits for the party out of power, according to exit polls.”  ( )

5. This wasn’t a classic midterm election, it was a reprise of 2020.  Even though Joe Biden and Donald Trump weren’t on the 2022 ballot, the overall vote reflected the same factors evident in 2020.  For example, in 2020 Dems narrowly carried Arizona and in 2022 Democrats also narrowly carried Arizona.

6. Why was the election close? If, as I believe, the 2022 election was actually a reprise of the 2020 contest between crazy Donald Trump and responsible Joe Biden, why was it close?  Why did so many Republicans vote for Trump surrogates — the architect of the January 6th insurrection — and  a Republican Party that seems unable to stand up to him?

There are four answers to this question: the first is that there is a substantial MAGA cult; that is, there are millions of seemingly normal Americans who are spellbound by Trump. If it seems harsh to call them crazy, we can at least agree that they have an irrational attachment to Donald.  The second answer is that there are millions of Republican voters who if not enamored by Trump, at the least live in his shadow.  These voters, most of whom  live in Red states, are bombarded with MAGA news 24/7.  (As a result, they truly believe that Hunter Biden is a graver threat than Vladimir Putin.)

The third reason why the election was close was because of Republican gerrymandering.  For example, in Arizona, Democrats won the Senate seat, Mark Kelly, and Governor’s race, Katie Hobbs, but lost AZ 1 and AZ 6; as a result, Republicans gained two seats.  The fourth reason why the election was close was dark money.  Republican Oligarchs poured an unbelievable amount of money into certain races.  For example, in North Carolina, Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley lost to Republican turkey Ted Budd, even though she outraised him; sadly, she was deluged by racist Republican dark money ads.  (Same thing happened in Wisconsin.)

7. What’s wrong with Florida? I’ve moved beyond being surprised by Florida, where mini-MAGA Ron DeSantis won the Governor’s race by 19 points over Charlie Crist and lightweight Marco Rubio won the Senate race by 16 points over Val Demings (an excellent candidate.)  Maybe Florida has been contaminated by proximity to Donald Trump.  Anyway, Florida is MAGA land.  Don’t go there.

8. What’s wrong with Texas? We have good friends who live in Texas; every two years they tell us: “this is the year Texas turns blue.” It’s not happening.  Governor Greg Abbott (a flea weight) defeated Beto O’Rourke by 11 points.  The only Texas good news was that Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo overcame a well-funded effort to replace her.  Other than that, bleh.  I’m not going to Texas,

9. Hey, New York, get it together.  If the Democrats lose control of the House, many will blame New York where they lost five blue seats.  ( )  There’s a lot of New York blame to spread around.  Let’s start with Governor Hochul who won by a tepid 5 points and had no coat tails.  (Senator Schumer won by 13 points.)  Democrats got a lot of MSM criticism for having no message; that wasn’t the case out west, but it appears to have been true in New York.  Shame on you New York.

10. Two Americas, two strategies.  We traveled from very blue Sonoma County (California) to slightly  blue Washoe County (Nevada) to get out the Democratic vote with members of the Culinary Workers’ Union.  And we did it.  In the final analysis, Washoe and Clark Counties tipped the Senate vote in favor of Catherine Cortez-Masto.

While we were going door to door, one of our Nevada companions observed: “In Nevada there are two political strategies.  Republicans run negative ads and augment them with fake polls.”  (In the days before November 8, there was a flurry of Republican-sponsored polls showing Catherine Cortez-Masto losing badly.)  “Democrats run positive ads and go door to door to get out their voters.”

Summary: Democrats won big, but they could have won by more if only Americans would stop watching MAGA TV.  America, just say no!  Go outside and smell the roses.  Savor democracy.

Lost Our Way

Had a nice vacation
Terrific place to stay
Until we took a hike
And quickly lost our way.

At first the the trail seemed easy
Then we hit a strange detour
That sent us down a tangent
Where the footing was unsure.

It should have a been a warning
When Google failed to work
But I was sure I knew the way
And acted like a jerk.

We wandered into a ravine
Avoiding poison oak
Myra started grumbling
“I wish this was a joke.”

“Lets’s head downhill,” I said
“We’ll just follow the sun.
“I’m pretty sure this path
“Comes out on Highway One.”

The temperature got warm
“It feels just like a sauna.”
We encountered civilization
Green fields of marijuana.

Turned out the plants were owned
by the “Demons” motorcycle gang
They came roaring up
Delivered a profane harangue.

Myra started cryin’
“We’ve gone from bad to worse
“I’ll never leave alive
“Your hike has been a curse.”

Fortunately, Spike and Bruno
Were more than hairy hunks
They drove us to their friends
A group of Buddhist Monks.

We sat beneath ancient oaks
And drank their icy tea
Then hopped into their pickup
For the trip to our B and B.

I’ve learned my big lesson
That I must confess
Never leave your home
Without a working GPS.

Velma Can’t Dance

Music at the Farmers’ Market
Gave me my big chance
To show off some fancy moves
Only, Velma didn’t dance.

This particular Friday
Everyone jivin’ on the green
I joined them and called out,
“C’mon Velma, it’s a scene.”

Velma downed her Margarita,
Shook her head no,
Then her friend, Maxine,
Dragged her on the floor.

Velma shuffled her feet
“I don’t know what I’m doin’.”
I took her hand in mine
Seized my chance for wooin’.

At first I took it slow
Tryin’ not to rankle
Velma began to smile
And then she turned her ankle.

I helped her off the floor
Sat her in a chair
Reverend Jim rushed over
“I’ll take care of it from here.”

He removed her shoe
Started massagin’ her foot
Velma smiled and sighed,
“That sure feels good.”

Jim picked up Velma
“I’ll take her to the doc.
“You stay here, boy
“We’ll be back by 8 o’clock.”

I watched them drive away
Feeling’ I’d been had
Then Bobbi Sue took my hand
“Ain’t no time for feelin’ sad.”

Got a chance to show my moves
Out there with Bobbi Sue
She laughed and moved close
Showed me smooth moves, too.

At 8 o’clock, the music stopped
Bobbi Sue was in my arms
“Velma’s not coming back
“Pay attention to my charms.”

I took her home
Soon it was after Two
Turned out she had a lot of moves
And a colorful tattoo.

I learned my big lesson:
When you’re starting a romance
Keep your wits about you
Pick someone who can dance.


“I couldn’t sleep last night,”
Cheryl said, when I arrived.
Grabbing her heavy bag, I said,
“You can nap on the plane.”

“What if this doesn’t work out?
What if we don’t like each other?”
I sang a few bars of
“Que sera, sera…”

“I don’t like to fly,”
she said, squirming in her window seat.
I clasped her hand
“If you get anxious, I’m right here.”

“This airport is crowded and muggy,”
Cheryl grumbled, as we waited for our luggage.
I picked up her bag,
“The limo is air-conditioned.”

“This resort is fancier than I expected,
I may not have brought the right clothes.”
I slipped my arm through hers.
“We can go shopping together.”

“I’m afraid I look fat,”
Cheryl muttered, eyeing bikini-clad girls.
I put my arm around her
“I love the way you look.”

“Our suite is wonderful,”
she beamed, giving me a hug.
I smiled,
“Special vacation for a special lady.”

“I’ll slip into something comfortable,”
Cheryl chortled, taking off her clothes.
My heart pounded,
“I’m glad you’re relaxing.”