Lindsay Lohan and the Celebrity Personality Makeover

Sometime over the summer I was reading an article in the Los Angeles Times about San Francisco poet, August Klenizahler.   I read how he was the bad boy of verse, and how he has alienated fellow poets with his critiques of their work.   He has  disenfranchised himself from the Academic literary scene by pronouncing their writing programs”multi-million dollar Ponzi schemes.”   All in all, he has pissed off a lot of people in the literary community.

Kleinzhaler’s legacy is he literary tradition of two fisted poets and story tellers who have sometimes allowed  their colorful reputations to surpass their  writing talents.   Their drinking and fighting gets in the way of their careers.   They show scorn where they are supposed to display humility.   He openly sneers at what he terms the bullies of his business.  Whether it is an act or genuine, or a little of both,  you have to love the guy for what he is.  Aside from all this he is a very talented writer who can select the images that can pronounce the truth of a scene or an incident.   That plays like music on the deeper emotions.

Whether Kleinzhaler will mellow with age is still out with the jury.   Whether he will be embraced as a curmudgeonly literary icon, much like Charles Bukowski, remains to be seen.  Whether he will undergo a  personality makeover is doubtful.   Depending on your own view of the world and the need for success and acceptance, August Kleinzahler seems incapable of either enduring that ungainly process or possessing the good sense to turn his career around.

The article about Kleinzahler started me thinking about any number of artists are born with a skull full of demons who cause them to abrogate their successes with acts of contrariness and self-destruction.  Kleinzahler may well have a reason for confrontation.  There is much to be said about his critiques of the middle brow hacks out there in the world of Academia who pass off what meager talent they have for creative achievement.   I have known a few of them myself, to say the least.   But I digress, since this is not really the point of this story.

As for the other artistic personalities, they may have  what to them seems like rational perspectives for choosing disruptive behavior.  Others may have been influenced by the wrong people, or let the celebrity go to their heads.  Some succumbed to the demons who have been lurking around since childhood.

Some get over it, and some don’t.   The ones that do get over it and straighten out their lives make good subject matter for the media.   There they can confess to a certain degree about their previous transgressions and then explain how with the help of whatever it was that helped them, they overcame these demons and returned to the path of righteous.   Well, all right, if not the path of righteousness, then at least they gathered enough sense to put their careers back in order.

Some, like Bukowski, a talented drunken brawler, are elevated to to iconic status.   Ron Jeremy comes to mind as one who has been pronounced some kind of national treasure.   Jeremy, of course, was not known for drunken brawler, but made his headlines as a porn star with plenty of stamina.  For awhile there it seemed everywhere you went someone was extolling his virtues, telling the world what a nice guy Jeremy was.   I believe he is.   Not that I know him, other than having sat across from him in the deli now and then.   Out in the Valley where the bulk of the porn films are made.   It just seems odd some would deem him a national treasure.

There have been many others who were the bad boys and girls of celebrity. After years of drug and drink soaked depravity, fighting and fornicating in all the wrong places,  they became freak show attractions. The only attention they drew was the kind of attention they no longer wanted.   They were laughed at and, worse for any celebrity, finally disregarded.   The trash dumps of Hollywood are littered with their bodies.

Dennis Hopper comes to mind.   He was an absolute pistol in his younger years.  He was renowned for his doping and orgiastic behavior.   He had gone from the heights of fame and approval to the depths of his profession.   And then he cleaned up his act, put on a suit and after years of persuading the Hollywood powers that be, he became respectable.   He was allowed to work again and established himself as a consummate actor.  He is a renowned art collector and an artist himself.    He even votes Republican sometimes and he is the spokesperson for a major financial group’s retirement investment fund pitch to Boomers.   That’s a long way from Taos, New Mexico and other reaches of Bacchanalian history.

Barbara Hershey was another.   She along with what may be the contributing factor to her career downturn, her then boyfriend, David Carradine.   Hershey, after being considered for years the stoned out, loopy, crazy cosmic hippie, cleaned up her act and, yes, put on a suit, and, after some years of persuasion convinced the Hollywood powers that she was reliable once again.  Carrdine, after years personal craziness, drifted back into the bosom of acceptability.   It may have been a Zen thing, in his case.

The list goes on.  Mickey Roarke, after winning kudos for his acting portrayal in the new film, the Wrestler, is about to join the ranks of the redeemed.   Always talented, Roarke was distracted by his personal demons until it was all he could do to find an acting job.  Now he is redeemed, sober, the aged, craggy, veteran of his own personal wars.

And then we come to Lindsay Lohan.   The verdict is not only out on Lindsay Lohan; the court has yet to even convene.  Lohan is still going through her own travails as a club crazy practitioner of libidinous and inebriated activities.   She is involved in a romantic relationship with another woman, which in Hollywood,  despite these allegedly enlightened times, can prove a deal breaker for the leading actress.  As far as her being the leading actress her revolving door relationship with rehab can prevent her from being insurable on any major motion picture.

So if Lindsay Lohan is eventually going to get her act together, she will need to change that act.  She will need to undergo the Hollywood celebrity personality makeover.   It begins of course with sobering up and being much less of an attraction for the tabloids.   Then comes her ability to assure people she is sober and reliable, capable of doing what she is asked.   She may even need to put on a suit.   And then, lastly, as with all the others previously mentioned, there is the matter of talent.   While some are lucky to go places despite their lack of talents, once you fall off the proverbial horse, without talent, you can do all the personality changeover you want and nobody will care.

Talent is it.  Talent is why your industry and even the public will look past the demons and misdeed.   Talent is why they will begin to hope you can make a comeback.   Because, without talent, you can climb back on your horse, but you still ain’t going nowhere.   Not even in the movies.

Frontier Justice? Justifiable Homocides Are Up, According to FBI

There is a cliched line in too many movies to remember where the protagonist proclaims,” he never killed anyone who didn’t deserve killing,” or something to that effect.   And despite all the socially sensitive rhetoric to the contrary a good many of us have contemplated, however briefly, those we wouldn’t mind seeing removed from the face of the Earth.   They may be the distant evil, the Osama Bin Laden’s or the molester and killer of juveniles they find in some distant state.   Or they may be something we know, someone we know only too well.  But there have been times when we think the world would be a better place without these people sucking up our precious oxygen.

According to an article in the USA Today, as well as dozens of other publications, the FBI has reported justifiable homicides have been on the increase over the past couple of years.   The article reported that 391 killings at the hands of the police were proved justifiable.  The common citizenry is lagging behind, having racked up a mere 254 justifiable homicides during the past year.   That is close to one a day.

Certain law enforcement analysts are claiming this increase in justifiable homicides is a result of changing attitudes on the streets.  Police feel more threatened, more overwhelmed by dangerous criminals with advanced firepower, so they are more prone to put them down, rather than risk death and injury trying to arrest them.   As for the public, the article says that citizens are taking greater responsibility for their own defense.

I would think to some degree this is a modern day version of frontier justice.   Or, as the old blues song goes, “I would rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.”   I realize gun ownership is a hot button issues.  It was more so a few years back.   There are pros and cons and the beat goes on as it does with any issues deemed controversial.  Passions build on both sides.

More to the point, people with guns can screw up and in a drunken rage kill their neighbors or, even worse, their loved ones.   At the same time an armed citizenry gives criminals pause.   Let’s face it, until the police come rescue you from a home invasion, the police being as understaffed as they are, all that could be left of you and your family is another gnarly story for the six o’clock news.   Besides, neighbors and fellow citizens love it when someone protects himself by shooting down the bad guys.

We have instant hero grocery store clerks.   We read stores of women who were would-be rape victims but left their would-be rapists lying dead on the sidewalk.   I recall a story in Santa Monica, where the poor store owner was robbed time and again, and each time he shot it out and often killed the robbers.  He was famous, sure, but he was like the fastest gun in the West.   Idiot armed robbers trying to make their reputations in whatever club they belonged just had to try him.   The store owner finally gave up in disgust and sold the business.

I think it is fair to say that part of justifiable homicide is the fact that there is little doubt someone is trying to harm you.   If someone is trying to harm you and is killed it means they are killed in the middle of the crime.   They are not killed later that afternoon or the following Thursday.   Frontier justice is dealt out at the existential moment of the crime.   So with the economy as bad as it is, a trials being so costly, one could argue shooting down violent criminals is saving cities a lot of money.   It may be a specious argument, but I’m sure I’m not the first one to make it.

So in the coming year, with people really upset about the economy, I mean really pissed off, I suppose we will be seeing more justifiable homicides.   After the country was raped by its politicians and bankers, I would dare say the common criminal doesn’t stand a prayer.

Financial Meltdown Remedy–Stashing Your Cash in the Home Safe

Selling Safes

As the financial crisis worsens more people are taking their money out of banks and buying home safes.   They feel their valuables are better protected when it is closer to hearth and home than it is in a bank that could fail at any minute.   They are stashing gold, jewelry and cash.  According to an article on CNN, home safe sales are up by at least fifty percent.

I am sure the trend is catching on.  And with the trend come the bragging rights.  We often love to brag about the most insipid of things.  In communities where life is too often measured by who has the nicer car and who maintains better lawn care,  this is a one more topic for the cocktail and barbecue circuit.   I am sure we will here from people who ten minutes ago didn’t know a safe from a cab stand, all about the intrinsic qualities, the locking devices, style, weight and, naturally, the size and cost.

The financial meltdown is hardly funny.   But aspects of running out to buy a home safe that you believe is safer than banks, is pretty funny in a darker way.   It reminds me of the old timers and miser of yore who hid their money under the mattress, or in the cookie jar or the cut out pages of a book.   My grandparents long ago employed one such fellow who discovered to his dismay that my grandmother on a cleaning spree unwittingly donated the cobwebbed books and, consequently, his money to the Salvation Army.

With mattresses now so technologically advanced, it is really difficult to hide more than a few bills under one.   Too much cash can ruin the rest on a Tempurpedic.   The cookie jar is a tough place for stashing gold, and the safe, well, as good as it is, it’s vulnerable to burglars and home invaders.

Banks are guaranteed.  Your home safe is not.   It is really, really tough to crack a bank safe, cracking a home safe is a whole different matter.   Yes, they may be harder to crack than before, except for the smaller ones you can either carry out the door.   Or the ones set in the drywall that can be cut out and, yes…carried out the door.

The really good, expensive,  home safes may be impervious to the blow torch or maybe even to dynamite.   Well, some small amount of dynamite.   But they are not impervious to someone sticking a gun in your face and ordering you to open the safe, before they kill you.   Will this happen?   As the economy continues its downfall, you will see more crime.   You can’t count on much, but you can sure count on that happening.

The geekier burglars will hack in to vendor databases and find out where you live.   Intercept your mail.  Whatever.   So what’s the trend, then?   Install an alarm system.   That will protect your house and your safe.  Until the geeky techno burglar bypasses your alarm and gets into your face, or waits in hiding until you come home, sticks a gun at your head and orders you to open up.   Burglars driving by will see the new alarm sign and figure, ” there has to be a safe in there.”

Now I’m not saying someone shouldn’t have safe.  Probably they should.  A good fire safe is excellent for protecting valuables against a fire.   It’s a great place to stash some cash for emergencies and some of your jewelry and the kind of bonds you can easily have replaced.   It’s great for your prized autographed Babe Ruth Baseball or a document signed by Abraham Lincoln.   Whether it is good for stashing gold bullion, as some are wont to do right now, well that is another story.

So what to do with most of your cash, your valuables, and, if your are lucky enough, your gold coins and bullion?   Stick them in a bank.  After all, that’s what banks are made for.

Business Remains Steady for the World’s Oldest Profession

The world may be going to hell in a hand basket, but the world’s oldest profession is enjoying a steady business.  According to an article in the the New York Daily News, business is pretty good.  However, there is one difficulty–there is less business at the upper end, so to speak,  where fantasy call girls are getting anywhere from $1 Thousand to $4 Thousand and hour.

I guess that’s where the belt tightening operation is taking place.  Fewer players are loosening their belts and letting their pants fall and paying that kind of money.  Instead as one Madame Sadie reports in the article, her girls are doing a brisk business at $260.00 and hour.   Still not the cheapest time, but cheaper than the $1 Thousand.   The article doesn’t say whether she offers block booking or group rates.

It was a wise group of writers who over the centuries have pondered how way death and depression can lead to sex.    Or it can lead to a lack of a sex drive.   But here, apparently, the Wall Streeters and related businessmen need a bit of relief from the reality their own professions, are now in shambles.   It is a game of music chairs, what with the dwindling amount of brokers and bankers, and the number of chairs are rapidly dwindling.   Putting it simply, a lot of these guys are going to be out of work.   And before they resort to Internet porn, perhaps this is a last hurrah, a remembrance of the better times.   Hard to say.

Even Said admits that her clients are calling her prostitutes less frequently.   They are holding out, let’s presume, for when the drive really builds up, rather than the regular…regular.  Others are getting only a half hour’s worth, where the once retained the girl for an hour.   So there is a downside.  It would appear this is something like people getting haircuts.  Leave it go a couple of weeks longer.

At the end of the day, or night, it is nice to see that some businesses are maintaining.   The employees are making some money.  Now if they only had somewhere to invest it….

Is Fannie Mae to Blame for the Financial Crisis?

What I find in so many articles about the financial mess we are in is the greatest focus is on Fannie Mae. While no doubt Fannie Mae had much to do with the debacle we are now facing, there are multiple lenders at multiple banks who when freed of such elements as oversight and regulation and the need to maintain certain reserves, lent money to everyone and anyone.

In many real estate scams, the great flipping fiasco,  “home buyers”  were provided with loans for different properties totaling well in the millions. There was no qualifying or the qualifying financial statements were false. In most cases these were not minority borrowers.  In fact, far from it.

But, nevertheless, they were part of giant flipping schemes, misleading their lenders and then borrowers on the actual value of the property by having appraisers who were well paid for their efforts falsify the documents and assess the value of these houses at artificial and specious rates.  Sometimes they worked independently and more often they were “straw buyers” front people for the real money, the people who would actually buy the house and then flip them for cooked value and greater profits.

Every bank got into the act and every bank resold their mortgages to the unsuspecting and to foreign investors who had no idea what the true value of the properties were. There is one case in LA alone, relatively small on the bigger picture, where through bribed appraisers, stand-in mortgage brokers and willing banks, they took off over $148 Million. It’s an elaborate scheme, but thanks to the lack of regulation, it has been repeated all over the country. Las Vegas and Phoenix were particualrly notorious for this type of criminal operation.

By comparison, the Billions that banks and mortgage brokers raked off  by issuing irresponsible and unsubstantiated lines makes the aggregate $48 to $50 million in golden parachutes to to the unworthy members of Fanny Mae pale by comparison. Their severance packages while regrettable and undeserved are a drop in the bucket compared to the grab bag of interests and the hundreds of millions and billions paid out in bonuses and profits for issuing irresponsible loans that were motivated purely by greed.

Like everything else of this nature, Ponzi Schemes, Pyramid Parties, the Savings and Loan debacle some years back, it soon becomes a game of Musical Chairs. It all works fine and everyone is happy dancing in their own delusions until the music stops and there are no more chairs left. Then the panic starts.  In this case it proved uncontrollable panic and now we plummet to near financial ruin, much to the surprise of the entire nation.

The bottom line is that regulations are there for a reason. And if they are outmoded or 20th Century regulations, as some contest, then they have to be upgraded and brought current. But the one overriding factor, no matter what century, is that if you reduce the necessary reserves a bank or lending institution must have at the ready, then you invite disaster. It ha happened time and time again, from people who were unqualified buying stocks on margin, which lead partly to the ’29 crash, to the Savings and Loan mess, to this. It is a very simple premise really–have enough capital in reserve to pay for mistakes and avoid catastrophe. It was ignored and then dismissed.

Personally, I believe there is ample blame to go around. From the venal jerks at Fannie Mae to the venal jerks at the banks and mortgage brokers around the country. Just what we have seen  so far pretty much defines the general pattern of perhaps criminal behavior. The lenders were given a license to steal and they took advantage of it. Couple all that with a consumer society that doesn’t really produce anything anymore, and consumers who seek instant gratification, taking loans they can never afford to repay, taking loans for their own housing flipping scams, taking home equity loans to buy assorted trinkets and beads, and you have a disaster in the making.

In this case the disaster is already made. We are now living in its aftermath and trying to survive. But pointing fingers at minority groups who bought homes they should have never bought or the people, the simple minded bureaucrats of Fannie Mae and company who were pressued into granting these loans, or even the brokers and corporate criminals alone, or these three fools, no matter how incompetent, seems to miss the point.   Blaming the Fannie Mae, is like blaming a single taxi for gridlock.  We are all to blame.   For being greedy.  For being so stupid.