Welcome to my website. This is quite fulfilling, like an indoor hobby. When I was a young boy I enjoyed building model airplanes. Then came sports and I was forever outdoors unless I was listening to records or the radio or watching television. I've always had a restless mind. Today's software and the internet is so empowering: I organize brief writings, collect images, create graphics, correlate links and present them on these few pages. Originally The Temperate Zone was the title of my first novel. I discovered this in 1987 while fiercely writing for long hours each day. The story is yet unfinished and is stored in the company of many others. Today much of my attention is directed toward business. Working with this website version of The Temperate Zone keeps me connected to the dreams and ideas that propel my imagination. It's a positive reminder and encouragement for me to believe in myself and never turn away from them.
My friend Dennis is a problem solver and has a heart as big as the African Bush Elephant itself. During a career change he determined to pioneer a new field which he titled, "Pachydermitology" for the science of creating creams and moisturizers for the suffering beasts. While Dennis was successful in developing an elephant anti-wrinkle cream, he found that the lack of potential clients in the US, particularly Beverly Hills and Miami, broke his business plan. The formula is unused today, save for several Shar Pei in Pasadena who have the skin of a Daschsund.
A Recent Journey Through the Status Quo by Will Harcourt
Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) Bob Dylan (1941-)
A great man died recently, as many great men, women and children do each minute of each hour of each day. In 1964, five years before this historic picture was taken, Bob Dylan said, "...the times they are a changin'." Time and circumstances are always changing, even if the changes are barely detectable, for individuals, families, small towns, large cities; great countries. Dylan predicted a shift in our mainstream culture and he was right. The long-reaching changes that germinated in the sixties can rightfully be underscored with that single phrase. One event began when John F. Kennedy declared that America would put a man on the moon within the decade. On July 21, 1969 that prediction came to pass. Neil Armstrong set man's first foot on the moon as Kennedy lay in his grave at Arlington National Cemetery, the victim of the most horrific assassination in our history. The sixties were a great and terrifying decade that permanently changed the American psyche. With all of the national events and cultural phenomena that have passed since Mr. Armstrong's monumental moment, my concern over present day circumstances and the fate of our country is greater than it has been for decades.
It often takes some time for me to gather my thoughts before I begin to write. On July 20, 2012 I was sitting in my apartment in Greenwood Village, CO. It was about 10:30 pm and I was restless. My customary late evening would consist of Letterman and Craig Ferguson, but the new Batman movie was premiering after midnight and for the first time ever I searched the internet to find the best place to see the film. From my location, the Century Theatre in Aurora had the most spectacular screen and audio. That would be my choice if I decided to go...which I did not; my predication for hating crowds kept me home that fateful night when a mad young gunman killed innocent people in one of America's calmest places to live. Our internal violence is not based on centuries of religious disputes, land rights, ethnic cleansing or revolving dictatorships. Since the settling of the west, the Civil War and the repeal of prohibition, our domestic violence is largely race on race, drug related or the acts of impulsive killers, but now we have an apocalyptic new breed of young people who plan mass executions; an especially disturbing creation of our own making. It's not the zombie wars or exotic model vampires; it's modern America where soon the neighborhood watch will become the neighbor watch focusing on quiet people who keep to themselves. Before moving to Denver I lived in the Philadelphia area for over thirty years, where murders are so proficient that the nightly news is a reading of the dead. It's time to take hold of the runaway violence in America street by street, community by community, in a non-violent movement to end the killing by simply placing our bodies in the way of bloodshed and saying, "No more!" Would our politicians take notice and formulate a policy that does not compromise common sense or the second amendment? One wonders. Living in Colorado for 11 months began to sensitize me again to the sanctity of life, and then the shooting in Aurora, and then I traveled to New York on business where my thoughts for this editorial started forming.
It's a political season in America, the big season; presidential politics accompanied by a national policy debate all geared to influence voters in one direction or another; to retain party loyalty or inspire defection; to maintain independence until the final moment of choice and then vote your conscience...political conscience and moral conscience and religious conscience...all balled together in one pull of the lever or punch of the card or push of a button, and so the country will go for another four years; except that we don't change the country anymore with elections, we just change or retain politicians and parties; minorities and majorities. In 2008 American elected its first black president based on his promise of change. Many reflected on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, how this event was the fulfillment of his message of hope delivered in his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech from the Lincoln Memorial to 200,000 civil rights supporters in 1963. King changed America and when Barack Obama beat Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary on June 7, 2008 (the day she suspended her campaign) I was overjoyed, dancing in the streets overjoyed. I am a dreamer and a "President Obama" was possibly a dream come true, but it wasn't too long before the air left the balloon as he deflated into a party politician. In spite of a hopeful 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, Mr. Obama has proven to be inept at changing America, unless we allow him the additional years he requests to recover from the Bush "inheritance". For all of President Obama's intelligence and now, four years of presidential experience and perspective, his preeminent message to America is a rally call to class warfare. The alternative is to vote for upper management: Mitt Romney, an anti-Obama candidate whose innocuous campaign slogan, "Believe in America" is a futile command for us to believe in Mr. Romney. What for? America is in trouble; all kinds of trouble; deep, long-lasting trouble and our state of politics tops the list. In a time of great need for (I'll pick just two) gun control and revenue reform, we're debating birth certificates and personal tax disclosure with a modicum of emphasis on the pertinent issues of the day. We will hear a lot of rhetoric during the conventions and the debates, but nothing will change. It's depressing.
The economy and job creation is at the center of this election, but they really aren't political issues. The economy will take many years to recover and when it does, no sitting president will deserve the credit. The private sector creates jobs and revenues. One would hope that as the Chief Executive Officer of the nation, every president would take personal responsibility for the federal budget and tax policies that favor business development. A government with sound financial practices and constitutional accountability would certainly help the private sector by minding its own bookkeeping and spending habits, but like most of our personal scores, our country's credit rating has been lowered. Do our politicians run their personal finances with the same reckless abandon that they use in managing our fiscal policy? From the information on their tax returns, they do not.
Our political malaise and the Aurora shooting were weighing heavy on me as I entered the Lincoln Tunnel to meet a gentleman from Chile at the Four Seasons Hotel in midtown. Juan had been on Long Island visiting his vineyard. I was there to talk with him about dedicating his Chilean vineyards and others of his friend's to my company, Flawless Spirits, and the opportunities for mass distribution in China. After introductions and backgrounds and business, our friendly chat steered toward open seas. I was seeking an ally, someone to sympathize with my disdain for conditions in America in 2012, but Juan would have none of it. My groans about the national debt were met with a reminder that the entire world depends on the American economy for its leadership and stability and that the U.S. will never go bankrupt. I thought, "Stability? Is he crazy?" He didn't think so. Having lived on Long Island with his family for a dozen years, his perspective was a blend of American growth with the personal enhancement of being Chilean, educated in Germany and working in Japan and Australia. Juan's children were traumatized by his decision to move the family back to Santiago. "How, Papa, could we leave America?" "For a time, niños," was his answer, "Only for a time."
As I left Manhattan I decided to stop in Jersey City, NJ and have a look at the condominiums in a building called: 77 Hudson. Part of the Flawless Spirits strategy is the acquisition of a company just a few miles from there. Purchasing a penthouse with a dramatic city view has always been a goal. If I will be spending considerable time on the east coast, what better way to live than with easy access to Manhattan and incredible views at 1/3 the cost of an apartment on the island? The unit on the 48th. Floor was adequate in its construction and design, the building amenities complete; but what really got to me was the uncompromised view of lower Manhattan. There, where the twin towers once stood, was a tall, gleaming structure 3/4 clothed in bright glass: the new Freedom Tower. I was a regular visitor to the World Trade Center, but it took a few seconds to comprehend what was before me. Thoughts of that morning were quickly followed by gratitude and pride. My heart rate jumped and my eyes watered as I absorbed the presence of the building and an overwhelming sense of patriotism. After all of the delays, debates and criticism, my nation was completing her new monument to freedom, enterprise and resolve. As watching the towers fall into dust was etched in my memory, so was seeing the incomplete Freedom Tower for the first time. I returned to Colorado with a renewed sense of peace...and then came the shooting at the Empire State Building where an angry man took his hostility against a former office rival to its ultimate limit, killing him on the street with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun before being killed in an exchange with two police officers eight feet away whose 16 expelled rounds wounded nine bystanders.
It's true: America is a complicated country and being an American is often complicated. While this election is maintenance rather than reform and new ideas, the twelfth amendment of the constitution dictates that we select a president every four years; senators and representatives every six and two; regardless of the qualities of the candidates. I don't expect a change to our electorate protocol in my lifetime, but I do expect that our process will implode at some point in the future unless there is a radical rise in the behavior and performance of our politicians. The press could once be trusted for unbiased political accountability, but no longer. We're on our own now. To help alleviate the stress we flock to movies about superheroes with dazzling visual effects and guaranteed happy endings where the salvation of our country is secured by a noble one or few. We laugh at satirical comedies like "The Candidate" to assuage the realities portrayed in "The Ides of March". Well, we all love movies.
The hope for change is too strong a currency for presidential candidates to devalue, but when will their motives, integrity and courage reach beyond popularity to compel those under the rotunda to join a commitment for change and the absolute requirement to protect and improve our society? Will our politicians ever grow-up? Will change prevail? Perhaps in the America of our near future with the sons and daughters of a new immigrant nation. Our current parties are working diligently to acquire their allegiance.
I hope that our next generations take some cues from the sixties, where great challenges and reforms were met with courage and conviction: Where city occupations were well-organized political demonstrations with clear platforms, not a grabass free for all to attract television attention. Where the message of "Make Love Not War" transcended World War II and Korea and brought the Vietnam War to its knees. Where men and women dedicated their youth to changing the status quo based on an agenda of creating a better America, not the perfect storm for political and personal gain: Men like Neil Armstrong, who risked his life to answer the call of a deceased president and fulfill a national promise that he made.
Are the times a changin'? Certainly they are. It may just take a while longer until we see it in the flesh and receive it at the ballot box.
Vietnam Protest Kng's View First Footstep
The Latest - Booze, Clues and Reviews
SX Latin Brands / SX Liquors
David Knight is an Australian gentleman with an extensive background in global business as a senior marketing executive with Ebay and Pepsico. Five years ago he decided to end it all...corporately speaking. David had spent most of his highly successful career in Hong Kong, India and the Asian continent. After settling in Silicon Valley he became enamored (not hammered) with the spirits industry. David and his wife decided to launch a line of blended spirits specifically designed for the ladies. Their six products are made in Mexico by fifth generation master distillers and they are delicious. Distribution is underway in the U.S. Check it out. www.sxliquors.com
click for Orsen Welles radio broadcast of H.G. Wells War of the Workds
I have been around as long as America's space program; from monkeys to the X-15; Gemini, Apollo; Challenger and now the exploration of Mars. Mankind is drawn to the angry red planet. Past civilizations worshiped Mars by naming warrior gods who dominated the universe. Modern man wonders if Mars was once the home world or a base for aliens who inaugurated our species or if an existing, inscet-looking underground force is plotting the interplantery invasion that Hollywood has been predicting for years. So, why then are we innocently strolling about Martian terra firma with remotes? Well, science is searching for signs of life and businessmen seek new opportunities for land development.
In the future we will likely be living and working on other planets, but not for the reasons we currently debate. The environment will not be destroyed; global warming will not radically alter anything and an expanding population will not deplete all of our resources regardless of what politicians and protesters claim. The theories, technology and transitions needed to protect and guarantee our planet's survival from man's abuses are well underway. It's the future of our culture that is uncertain. Escaping the human drama by relocating to Mars may be a viable option in fifty years, but unfortunately the Victoria crater and other prime Martian locations are unihabitable to anyone other than nomads with breathing devices. While Mars is not Pandora, who knows what other heavenly bodies are out there? Mankind is absolutely determined to explore and escape to another world. As this becomes real, let's hope that the galactic destinations available are more than enormous red rocks.
Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film is a study of the relationthip between two men in the years following World War II. There is much speculation that the back story is based on the foundation of The Church of Scientology, but The Master's focus is on the student/mentor dynamic and the aspects of loss...Loss of love, self-control and spiritual development. Mr. Anderson has not taken an indepth look at real or imagined cults, but the story works and there are good performances which seems to be the director's specialty. Other Anderson movies iinclude, There Will be Blood and Boogie Nights which have fantastic performances in them. The Master will not be considered Paul Thomas Anderson's best film, that is yet to come, but it is solid work from an emerging, provocative auteur.
Sophist's Choice - Observations, Anecdotes and Embarrassments from the Missionary Position
"A sophist may make a thing appear to be what it is not; but this is very different from showing what it is." A Grammar of Rhetoric and Polite Literature by Alexander Jamieson (1840)
A Polish Winter's Dream by Will Harcourt
This picture reminds me of a time in my life shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I was a confident, newlywed executive in my mid thirties who had proven himself to be dependable and trustworthy to the CEO. At his sudden order I was assigned to a secret project that began with a meeting in Frankfurt. The EVP, who was also the CEO's brother-in-law, was in charge on the ground in Germany. I only knew a few of the facts and nothing of the reasons for the trip. Our primary contact was a Polish national named Roy who, as a younger man, had made a daring escape from the Russians through Eastern Germany to Paris where he hid before moving to the United States. It was Roy who urged the CEO to back this trip to meet Roy's contact, an Indonesian denim king named Yanto who was traveling from Jakarta and had offered to pay our expenses at the five star Steigenberger Hotel Metropolitan. The CEO instructed me to take copious notes, arrive at my own conclusions and report them directly to him. An enraged EVP instructed me to pack for seven days and to keep my mouth shut the entire time.
Seven days turned into two years away from my beautiful wife. It was a scavenger hunt; the months spent traveling throughout eastern Europe, the Baltic, Ukraine and other countries of the former USSR searching for buried treasure. My constant companions were communist dealmakers and profiteers from all points of the globe including many with hijacked Mercedes S classes, flashy jewelry and insane notions of wealth and influence over a concrete block world drenched in the stench of burning diesel fuel and the lowest grade of black market coal. A huge, red-sickled beast was dead and the jackals that had maimed it wanted all of the fat for themselves.
There was one winter night outside Zielona Góra Poland: I was a member of a group of twenty men that had reserved a former Party dacha for a weekend in the woods. When wild boar with horseradish and turnips was finished along with many bottles of Italian red wine, young prostitutes imported from Moscow entered the great room. I yearned for the comfort of another displaced soul; a solitary rendezvous in a mansion deep in the wonderland of frozen Poland where the endless, slow march of time would stand still for one night. A tall, thin, lovely woman with long dark hair wearing black stockings, garters and a bustier under a wool trench coat approached the table and sat next to me. She poured us wine and spoke quick Russian sentences, tugging at my sleeve. My head was tilted down and slowly shook back and forth. I said, "No, but thank you," as I showed her my wedding ring. She squeezed my hand and then raised my chin with two fingertips until our eyes met. In pleading broken English she whispered, "Please, take me to America. I do anything. Please, please, take me to America." I looked away, through great leaded windows where outdoor lights illuminated the grounds. Massive conifers were swaying in the wind and snow was falling. All my life I had waited for a moment like this. I said, "A storm's coming..." but she didn't understand my words.
A disc jockey had arrived. Loud music was playing now. The men and the other prostitutes were drinking and laughing and shouting. We left the table together, then she turned toward the party and I walked across the hall to the staircase that led upstairs to the bedrooms. Before ascending I looked back, wanting to remember her face, but the air was thick with cigarettes and cigars and smoke from the hearth. From that distance I saw only shadows; dancing shadows with squealing voices drunk and delirious from their capture of the KGB dacha in the dense Polish forrest. Those were interesting times.
The Red Doors by Will Harcourt
I gotta say that I am pleased that the guys who invented Google are rich. They deserve to be. Almost all of us find what we need today by using their search engine technology, which is astounding. That's where I found these red doors. I love doors: interior, exterior, wood and metal, English, Scandinavian, European, Indian, Asian, Chinese, Japanese, Polynesian, South American; they are recognized by their cultural design and carving. These doors are from Colombia where, as in most Latin countries, doors are painted with vibrant colors. What was I doing on Google looking at Colombian doors? Well, I'll tell you. It started after I got fired from my last job in 2009.
I was excused from my executive sales position for making too much money which was, for me, a first. I had been fired from jobs before when I was young. By the time I was twenty four years-old I came to the conclusion that I should be self-employed and I was for most of my adult life, but in early 2006 I took a job with a small company that was in deep trouble and, over three-and-a-half years, I led them out of the woods and into a very profitable working model. But once I started collecting five and then six figure commission checks, the owner forgot that I had actually earned the money and deemed me an unnecessary expense, so, off I went. This was the jumping-off point for an extended, ugly, flaming downward spiral. Self-pity grabbed me in a headlock and dragged me to my favorite bar where I stayed for the next year; seething, drinking...searching for a way to avoid any further heartbreak in this life. Then, while wandering the internet late one night in my apartment, the synapses of my tequila saturated right brain began firing. I still had some cash and it needed to last indefinitely. My mission was to flee society for protection and preservation and write the novel that I'd been avoiding forever. So, the logical question was, where could a drunken, rebellious, renegade American run to stretch his money and fulfill his destiny? Bang! Bang! The answer: Cartagena, Colombia.
Cartagena had everything going for it. The many years of cocaine violence had moved to Mexico, the conversion rate was fourteen pesos for every dollar, the history and the architecture was alluring; a forted port city with good beaches and great little beach villages to the north. With nearly a million pesos I could live quite sufficiently in olde city Cartagena: Drinking tequila in the late morning and aguardiente until late at night, I would become Guillermo: the proud champion of men, women, children, the elderly, crippled dogs or cats and birds and lizards alike! Eventually I would meet a beautiful young prostitute with shining dark hair and almond eyes and save her from the streets. Maria Elisa would then look after me, doing my shopping, cleaning and laundry for a healthy wage while I wrote at a metal mosaic table on my balcony overlooking the limestone fountain where lovers and the lonely gather in the square below.
As I studied image after image of the city, I happened upon these villa doors facing the sea. They were old and battered...as was I. They were a faded, peeling, blistered bloody red...as was I. They were locked from the outside...as was I. Waiting for me behind these doors was an empty, forgotten, cold stone palace desperately in need of a King who, like the dusty rooms and decrepit furniture, yearned for a fresh start. These would be the doors to my future...if I could only get to Cartagena and open them. I created this graphic and set it as my laptop background as a daily inspiration to gather the courage to change my life forever. I actually told some friends of my plan. They ignored it as they did with most things I said during those dark days but, as it came to pass, I never went to Colombia or wrote the novel and I have yet to rescue a prostitute. I went to California instead and after a few dangerously deranged months in LA, I came back to the east coast and checked into a rehabilitation center.
Today I have far more than Cartagena could have provided. When I go there now it will not be to run away, but to enjoy the freedom that is securely mine; not just from an obsession with alcohol, but the freedom that comes from a true liberation that affects every aspect of your psyche, soul and spirit. Every door is open to me now, but I still really like the old ones. Time and events do take their toll, but the character that's created is breathtaking, especially to like survivors of the storms that these red doors have seen. I wouldn't change them at all.