The Rich Don’t Have to Justify or Explain Themselves

The Rich Don’t Have to Explain Their Deviancy

O.K., that’s it. I may try to explain the aberrant art that I like to create (internal link) but I no longer feel compelled. Not after this. Not until the rich justify what they call art.

According to the US version of the Sun (external link), the winning film at Cannes last night was, well, you can read this for yourselves. I’ll jump back in at the end of these texts and photographs.

“Shock-fest Titane – a film about a woman having sex with cars – took home the top prize Palme d’Or at Cannes last night.”

“French director Julie Ducournau is only the second woman to take home the prize for the movie, one of the wildest, sexiest and most violent films ever shown at the Cannes film festival.”

“It tells the story of a young woman who has sex with cars, kills without a care, and pretends to be a boy despite being pregnant by a vintage Cadillac.”

“The news was revealed early at the closing ceremony in an embarrassing slip-up by jury president Spike Lee.”

Caption: Titane is considered one of the most controversial films of the year. Credit: Capital Pictures

Caption: Spike Lee announces French director Julie Ducournau wins the top prize for her film Titane Credit: Getty

I wrote recently (internal link) that Italian photographer Paolo Roversi was being celebrated by Sotheby’s despite having taken pictures of young and naked women that Jeffrey Epstein would have enjoyed. Even the model who posed for those photos came on camera to deify, or perhaps enable, this photographer.

It’s all about money. We all know that. And fame. And now race, gender, and what you identify yourself as. Look at Spike Lee. I doubt he and his red glasses are rich but he’s famous and black. Any charge against him and his predilections could only come from a racist. He’s untouchable. And obviously of eminent taste.

Sigh. I’d like to write further but feel their isn’t much more to be said. Maybe later.

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Can Writing a Certain Amount of Words a Day Improve Your Writing?

Can Writing a Certain Amount of Words a Day Improve Your Writing?


NB: I can’t transcribe properly without saying things like period, next line, new paragraph and so on. Therefore, I would not be freely speaking in this recording but rather dictating.


Can you improve as a writer by writing aCertain amount of wordsEvery dayI have heard this deviceOver the yearsRead this advice over the years I remember a BradberryThere are other great writersThatSet similar things to travel Nas in this in this equation is thatThese ridersUsually her very well educatedReally well grounded in the classicsAnd they hadA much deeperAll of inspirationMost of us do todayThat thatThink a lot of that time would be better spentReadingWritingGreat poetryThere Hass to beSensorsEvisceration there Hass to be some sort of backgroundAndWithout itAnd if your background is onlyOh I don’t know newspapers todayBlog post like mineIf you’re not reading MelvilleFastlane wanting to read those ridersYour exposure to beautiful writingBeautiful turnFrases turns it freezesIt’s going to be limited to noAnd soYou’re 1000 words a day may just beReciting from the veryIs it vocabularyI think it’sLet’s back upIf you were havingRightSomething right thereAnd then thisQuestionableYou as a writerBirdhouse to singI don’t play guitar but I found a songGuitar players on YouTube andThey want to practiceThey want to playI knowIn the third grade try to play violinMy dadEdit a good idea at the timeNo interest in itLearn to hate it more than anything else I’ve really blessedTo it andSo starting at the beginning thank youHave toI want to writeTo begin the process at allIfIf you doRather than 1000It’s a day thing I thinkDirection is betterAnd you can come up with any number of exercises on your own750 words without anyThat will force the force you intoThinking of looking at thingsDifferentlyReally practiceJournalism a newspaper openingsWho what where when why howNews report himTrying toRewrite what they’ve doneMake it better andThat’s in a lead into lyingI really encourage people that want toGet into writing toNewspaper especially weeklyIt’s takenLook at how that’s done because what happens is if you getNewspaperEven as a freelancerPaid very littleYou will be under a deadlineRestrictionAndThat may help you improve much more than directionRightJust going to be repeatingAnd that’sSpeaking of that nightShe gonna do thisThe vanTry try a conflict storyAnd put it in the 750AnswerSomething inDirectionI’m not trying to organize your lifeI just get back to workQuestion is originally isDoes writing a certain amount every dayAgainBe better spentThese riders encouraging itClassicsI think thatSo good luck to you and your readingI am


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Gerad Manley Hopkins and the Beauty and Power of Descriptive Writing

Hopkins (internal link) was lucky to have falcons around. In my home town of Pahrump, Nevada, we do have something winged that looks like a little falcon. It may be a Cooper’s Hawk, however, and not a Peregrine Falcon. Whatever it is, I sure couldn’t describe it like this:

The Windhover / To Christ our Lord

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

Comment: And if you are not convinced of this guy’s writing:

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Comment: “For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim . . .” I hope you have handled a trout or been close. If so, you know what an amazing line that is.

The Caged Skylark

As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage,
Man’s mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells —
That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life’s age.
Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage
Both sing sometímes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
Yet both droop deadly sómetimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.

Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest —
Why, hear him, hear him babble & drop down to his nest,
But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.

Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound, when found at best,
But uncumberèd: meadow-down is not distressed
For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bónes rísen.

Comment: Whoa. This is deeper than Lake Tahoe. I’ll have to read an analysis. At first read it is a wonderful but depressing account of any caged animal but the comparison to Man and his flesh bound prison, well, let me read up.

Comment on the reading: One word: Brilliant!


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A Rock With a View

Instagram is the friendliest of the socials:

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Original Photographs and the Impossibility of Everything Connected to Them

After your article proposal has been accepted your next challenge will be providing photographs to accompany the text. I hope you can take them yourself.

The world of Nat Geo doesn’t exist anymore for freelancers. You will not have a photographer assigned to you. If you want to write about Mount Etna, bring along every kind of camera to take high resolution photos on your visit. And don’t think you can wing it with other people’s photos or ones you’ve bought yourself.

Expect every editor to require model releases and a permissions note for any photo you submit in which there is a person clearly visible or if you’re using another photographer’s work. An editor may not be that strict but maybe they will be.  Check before going into the field. Their answers may be devastating.

Few people these days want to fill out a model release with their identifying information. Getting permission to use someone else’s work is a complete time trap. Finding out who can give you permission to use a photograph is dead end detective work. It can take months and months and months to get permission to use a photo. Which may be tolerable for a book deadline but not an article. In my requests, I got a reply only 5% of the time. And then the photographer or group wanted big money.

These stock photo groups and even non-profits like county history museums have no idea of the pay scale for freelance writers today. It’s nothing. Many magazines like Rock&Gem will pay $250 for an article. Yet when a group finds out that you want a photo for publication they think you own a gold mine. Let’s go back to Mount Etna.

Alamy is a typical stock photo service. Getty and Adobe are a little more expensive. They want $69.99 for a single photo of publishable quality if you are using it in a magazine. Sounds somewhat reasonable if you are getting a few thousand for an article. Which as a freelancer you’re not. But wait, there’s more!

It turns out this price is only for magazines of under 2,500 circulation. What kind of magazine is that? A literary review? Good grief. That’s small even for a regional. To get a copyright free release of high resolution, the only practical solution, you’re going to pay $245.00. These goofballs must think magazines have a budget for photos that exceed what they are paying the writer. $245 for a single photo!

This is why I have contributed many, many high resolution still photos and videos of different natural areas to Creative Commons, the first pull point for photos for Wikipedia. I have put them all into the public domain. No fee to me, no credit needed. We’re all starving artists out here. All of us need to contribute photos if you can to this cause, no matter what you think of the editorial orientation of Wikipedia.

Some contributions to these pages. All links external:

Carol M. Highsmith is a professional photographer. She has contributed THOUSANDS of photographs to the National Archive and put them into the public domain. A monumental and ongoing contribution:

I think only one in twenty writers are independents who support themselves entirely by their writing. Most professionals are those who write in their work for someone else, like a government agency or some private business. Self-supporting writers are rare and getting rarer. But I digress.

I had a bitter experience in which I wanted a close up photo of a mineral for an article I was writing for Rock&Gem. I approached the leading mineral photographer in the country for a photo that was in his stock library. He would not budge on his price even though he knew Rock&Gem well and was continuously published in their magazine by staff. His demand was so high it would have made my article completely unprofitable, I would have actually lost money. But he didn’t care even though he was in the trade and knew we writers make nothing.

So, why would a writer take on a low paying assignment? Too many reasons to list but a low paying article is still a resume builder. It gets you respect and can open higher paying doors later on. I get access to sites other people can’t simply because I’ve been published. And I assume you are interested in what you are writing about to begin with and support that trade or hobby.

Everyone is entitled to make money but writers shouldn’t be forced to lose money. Take photos yourself. Get better at photography. More cameras. The last article I wrote was for California Wildlife which is operated by a state agency. They paid for 11 photographs. I took them all. It is extremely rare these days that a magazine will pay separately for photos. Very rare. Usually you just get one price for an article. A side note.

I’m putting together composition images from low resolution photos off the net. Sometimes from fifty year old films and stills.  I’m not crediting photographers because I don’t know who they are and I _never_ get responses when I ask different agencies for help. A single collage photo might use  25 different film grabs or photos from different websites. Who are all these photographers? And would they or their agencies understand that I have never sold a single work?

What’s happening is that people are making copies of copies of copies of photos with no trail behind them. Look at eBay. You have companies making a living selling the work of uncredited photographers. Thousands of posters and stills reproduced and sold without credit. I’m not doing that. I didn’t create this environment but I am living in it. Trust me, in my writing for the web, for books, and for magazines, you’re going to hit silence when asking for permission. And if you do find someone, a miracle, they are going to want big bucks. As Dylan says, money doesn’t talk, it swears.




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Mr Flood’s Party

A long one by the writer of the shocking Richard Cory. (internal link). Our protagonist climbs a hill to get drunk while looking over his old countryside. To remember things past.

Did you catch the reference to Roland? That means The Song of Roland (internal link), an epic poem and a beautiful one if you can find the right translation. “We, too, heard the call,” is the takeaway from that poem. That short line will stay with you forever. “We, too, heard the call.” I ramble.

I think the wonderful lines in this poem are, He set the jug down slowly at his feet / With trembling care, knowing that most things break / And only when assured that on firm earth / It stood, as the uncertain lives of men / Assuredly did not, he paced away,

That set of lines is exactly why I don’t write poetry. It is impossible for me to come up with something like that. I can write in The Law and I can turn out magazine articles and edit other people’s work but I  “. . . leave heaven to the angels and the sparrows.”

Mr Flood’s Party
by Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935)

Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night
Over the hill between the town below
And the forsaken upland hermitage
That held as much as he should ever know
On earth again of home, paused warily.
The road was his with not a native near;
And Eben, having leisure, said aloud,
For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear:

“Well, Mr. Flood, we have the harvest moon
Again, and we may not have many more;
The bird is on the wing, the poet says,
And you and I have said it here before.
Drink to the bird.” He raised up to the light
The jug that he had gone so far to fill,
And answered huskily: “Well, Mr. Flood,
Since you propose it, I believe I will.”

Alone, as if enduring to the end
A valiant armor of scarred hopes outworn,
He stood there in the middle of the road
Like Roland’s ghost winding a silent horn.
Below him, in the town among the trees,
Where friends of other days had honored him,
A phantom salutation of the dead
Rang thinly till old Eben’s eyes were dim.

Then, as a mother lays her sleeping child
Down tenderly, fearing it may awake,
He set the jug down slowly at his feet
With trembling care, knowing that most things break;
And only when assured that on firm earth
It stood, as the uncertain lives of men
Assuredly did not, he paced away,
And with his hand extended paused again:

“Well, Mr. Flood, we have not met like this
In a long time; and many a change has come
To both of us, I fear, since last it was
We had a drop together. Welcome home!”
Convivially returning with himself,
Again he raised the jug up to the light;
And with an acquiescent quaver said:
“Well, Mr. Flood, if you insist, I might.

“Only a very little, Mr. Flood—
For auld lang syne. No more, sir; that will do.”
So, for the time, apparently it did,
And Eben evidently thought so too;
For soon amid the silver loneliness
Of night he lifted up his voice and sang,
Secure, with only two moons listening,
Until the whole harmonious landscape rang—

“For auld lang syne.” The weary throat gave out,
The last word wavered; and the song being done,
He raised again the jug regretfully
And shook his head, and was again alone.
There was not much that was ahead of him,
And there was nothing in the town below—
Where strangers would have shut the many doors
That many friends had opened long ago.

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Attention Walmart Shoppers!

Yup. This is a true order confirmation. Walmart online shopping. Whatever makes money. I doubt Sam Walton would have approved but there is a new generation running his company. For better or worse.

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Climbing Milestone Mountain by Kenneth Rexroth

I know Rexroth (internal link) from his translations of Chinese and Japanese poetry. I have none of his books anymore because I always gave them away. Those collections are that beautiful.

Here we have a personal poem with Rexroth in the Sierra. Not “Sierras” but I will forgive Rexroth since a poetic license is a strong one. This must have been about the Spanish Civil War.

Every liberal on the planet thought it a just cause to war against Franco; perhaps this time their socialist dreams would come true. Unlike that messy Russian Revolution that simply replaced Czars for dictators.

George Orwell served in Spain in an unarmed role and later wrote a great book on how infighting among countless factions doomed the struggle against Franco. It was called Homage to Catalonia. I think Hemingway went over, too, as an ambulance driver. But I could be wrong..

Back to the poem and the mountains.

Climbing Milestone Mountain, August 22, 1937

By Kenneth Rexroth (1905–1982)

For a month now, wandering over the Sierras,
A poem had been gathering in my mind,
Details of significance and rhythm,
The way poems do, but still lacking a focus.
Last night I remembered the date and it all
Began to grow together and take on purpose.
We sat up late while Deneb moved over the zenith
And I told Marie all about Boston, how it looked
That last terrible week, how hundreds stood weeping
Impotent in the streets that last midnight.
I told her how those hours changed the lives of thousands,
How America was forever a different place
Afterwards for many.
In the morning
We swam in the cold transparent lake, the blue
Damsel flies on all the reeds like millions
Of narrow metallic flowers, and I thought
Of you behind the grille in Dedham, Vanzetti,
Saying, “Who would ever have thought we would make this history?”
Crossing the brilliant mile-square meadow
Illuminated with asters and cyclamen,
The pollen of the lodgepole pines drifting
With the shifting wind over it and the blue
And sulphur butterflies drifting with the wind,
I saw you in the sour prison light, saying,
“Goodbye comrade.”
In the basin under the crest
Where the pines end and the Sierra primrose begins,
A party of lawyers was shooting at a whiskey bottle.
The bottle stayed on its rock, nobody could hit it.
Looking back over the peaks and canyons from the last lake,
The pattern of human beings seemed simpler
Than the diagonals of water and stone.
Climbing the chute, up the melting snow and broken rock,
I remembered what you said about Sacco,
How it slipped your mind and you demanded it be read into the record.
Traversing below the ragged arête,
One cheek pressed against the rock
The wind slapping the other,
I saw you both marching in an army
You with the red and black flag, Sacco with the rattlesnake banner.
I kicked steps up the last snow bank and came
To the indescribably blue and fragrant
Polemonium and the dead sky and the sterile
Crystalline granite and final monolith of the summit.
These are the things that will last a long time, Vanzetti,
I am glad that once on your day I have stood among them.
Some day mountains will be named after you and Sacco.
They will be here and your name with them,
“When these days are but a dim remembering of the time
When man was wolf to man.”
I think men will be remembering you a long time
Standing on the mountains
Many men, a long time, comrade.

Kenneth Rexroth, “Climbing Milestone Mountain, August 22, 1937” from The Collected Shorter Poems. Copyright © 1966 by Kenneth Rexroth. From The Collected Shorter Poems (1966)

Purple clusters of sky pilot flowers (polemonium eximium), Sierra Nevada, California

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B-B Brought to Life

More neural filter messing around in Photoshop CC.

Original black and white:


So nice to see people walking without a cell phone attached to their head.

After colorization with a neural filter:

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No Qualifiers

Assertive and confident writing attracts the reader and brings certainty to your writing. This makes people read further. Qualified or hesitant writing produces uncertainty which writers must always fight against.

“I think Bob is a good person.”

No, no, no, no.

“Bob is a good person.”

Why use I? It only exists to enable the word “think.” Which you do not want.”I think” is mush. State what you think without writing “I think.” Take a stand. Declare. Hunter Thompson always did:

“Hubert Humphrey is a treacherous, gutless old ward-heeler who should be put in a goddamn bottle and sent out with the Japanese current.”

Above all, don’t use the word “belief.” If you want to believe something, go to church. Your readers want certainty even with an uncertain subject. How does that work?


Quantum physics may answer how the universe is arranged, however, scientists can’t agree on which explanations or theories make the most sense.


Quantum physics seeks to answer how the universe is arranged. In this unsettled field of research, however, scientists disagree as to which theories make the most sense.

I removed the qualifying word “may”which improved things. After writing these two examples, though, I realized that these sentences were completely pedestrian. They all needed a rewrite.

Much better

Why is the universe arranged as it is? Quantum physics seeks the answer. Researchers in this unsettled and evolving field, however, disagree on which theory best explains the ordering of the stars.

State a question and then answer it. Then lead into a discussion. That’s always good.

In the case of this writing exercise, what if a reader disagrees that QM seeks to answer the arrangement of the universe? Let them write you. But don’t feed the rest of your readers mush like “may” as in the first example. Ditto for “perhaps” and “maybe” and “usually” and “sometimes” and all the other qualifiers which muddy writing instead of clarifying it.

That’s the way it is? No, not always. Walter Cronkite leaned so far left it was a miracle he could stand up straight. But he used this line to close every broadcast. In his mind, that’s the way things were. No need to say “I.” Tell people what you think without saying “I think.” Make a stand. Declare. Exceptions?

Only for poets like Eliot:

“My nerves are bad tonight. Yes, bad. Stay with me.
“Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak.
“What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
“I never know what you are thinking. Think.”

I think we are in rats’ alley
Where the dead men lost their bones.

From The Wasteland (of, course)

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