Shivering at the beach

Writing, to me, is not a chore but a necessity.

Especially while under house arrest… Because what would I do, if I did not have this magic crutch to lean on? Drink? beat my wife? throw things at my TV set? hit the streets and hurl pétanque boules at the cops… or at the rioters? I doubt that any of those things would relieve my weariness…

Yes, I am weary… The pandemic, the demonstrations, the vandalism, the underlying hate from all sides bubbling to the top… I find it very depressing…

Even though I never pretended to be an Emile Zola, a Victor Hugo, a Dumas, or even a Paul Féval, I still enjoy putting words and thoughts on paper. I am particularly fond of humor, lambasting pomposity and stupidity.

I was predestined to be a jester. The good fairy who leaned on my crib a long time ago decided my fate. You will be an imp, a teaser she decided. My last name is probably what inspired her. There is only a very short step from my actual patronym to the word effronté (cheeky) and this became my nickname in middle school.

I am not in middle school anymore but I have kept my impertinent spirit and I still like to make fun of people. But life is becoming increasingly complicated… It is now politically incorrect to make fun of almost anybody… I never liked the “politically correct” philosophy anyway and it presents a big handicap for me. I thrive on deflating big egos.

Nowadays, it is extremely problematic to pock fun at anybody without running into heavy flak. Are we drifting toward a quasi-religious state? “Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. “ Oh yeah? Don’t count me in Mister!
Not too long ago, it was a free for all… you could make fun of anything and anybody. Now sanctified subjects are like toilet paper… scarce.

But I know that people are more receptive to pictures than words. And as luck would have it, I love to snap pictures.
Yesterday, I was enticed to go to San Francisco’s Crissy Field East Beach. A very popular area. It was sunny in Marin County and we assumed that we would find the same weather conditions in San Francisco.

Well, nothing was farther than reality. The beach was engulfed with fog and it was cold and blustery. And we were pitifully underdressed. It was not terribly comfortable but it was still a very invigorating experience.

With my camera full of snapshots, we left the beach around noon. Back in Marin County is was 20 degrees warmer. We had lunch at the Boca pizzeria (plenty of open space) and called it a day.

I hope that you will like my collection of pictures and tell me about it. If you don’t, tough beans!

Ta ta for now…

Alain aka effronté

Preconceived ideas are the problems

Most (or many) people harbor preconceived ideas about various subjects or issues. They will blame or praise any event before even becoming aware of all the facts. But life is never what it seems… it is neither all black nor all white. Every story has a great variety of shades… if you take the time to scrutinize it.

Few people are logical. Most of us are prejudiced and biased. Most of us are blighted with preconceived notions, with jealousy, suspicion, fear, envy, and pride. Dale Carnegie

In our video clips driven society, what is often seen as the ultimate truth is just part of a much larger picture. For example, are all demonstrators violent?  Are all black people innocent victims? Are all cops brutal and racist? It is impossible to generalize.

This of course does not excuse the needless brutality of some cops. But it sheds some needed light on recent events. Our society is becoming so extreme, so polarized that a return to an American Civil War is not an unthinkable fiction anymore. And keep in mind that more than 620, 000 men died in this conflict pitting Americans against Americans.

 The old French revolutionary slogan Liberté, égalité, fraternité is what should be encouraged and promotedin America today. Not Make America Great (and utterly disunited) Again.

Violent demonstrations and the rhetoric level need to come down. If you want to be heard, don’t shout. Just find someone who wants to listen to you so the right people hear your thoughts.

Progressive captains of industry should be the natural leaders of such movement. And some, like Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, are… People like Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg should also jump in the fray and add their voices to the cause.

They have the forum and the means to bring about necessary reforms. Silicon Valley should be heard and add its might to the reform movement. One single voice (and the cash) of one CEO would have more impact than 20,000 angry demonstrators.

Don’t rely on politicians. They are just mercenaries following the scent of money. If you really want something to happen, throw barrels of cash at the problems. How do you think that the Panama Canal was completed?

“The United States spent almost $500,000,000 (roughly equivalent to $9,169,650,000 now) to finish the project.” Wikipedia

Think about it

Race is not the problem. Flagrant economic inequality is. Preconceived notions and hatred will crumble like cookies when everybody will make a respectable living and be able to afford decent housing.


The whole world is a cactus

The whole world is a cactus
It is impossible to sit
In life, there are only cacti
I pride myself on knowing it

Aie Aie Aie! Ouch! Aie Aie Aie!

In their hearts there are cacti
In their wallets, there are cacti
Under their feet there are cacti
In their vests, there are cacti

Aie Aie Aie! Ouch! Aie Aie Aie!

To defend myself from their cacti
In my turn I put cacti
In my bed, I put cacti
In my pants, I put cacti

Aie Aie Aie! Ouch! Aie Aie Aie!

In their smiles, there are cacti
In their bellies there are cacti
In their good morning, there are cacti
In their cacti, there are cacti

Aie Aie Aie! Ouch! Aie Aie Aie!

Words: Jacques Lanzman
Music: Jacques Dutronc


Les cactus