The Palace of Malice

On February 7, 2008 the Los Alamos County Council voted to destroy the physical symbol of the Independence of Los Alamos.

On December 21, 2010 5 Members of the Los Alamos County Council, 2 of whom voted in the affirmative in the above cited action, voted to destroy the liberties and rights of the citizens of Los Alamos and to vacate the Charter which was the codification of the Independence of Los Alamos.

The Palace of Malice, akin to Nero's Golden Palace and destined to become home to Ozymandius, will be built upon a foundation of legal chicanery, ruthless manipulation, self-aggrandizement, wanton destruction, and the wholesale abuse of Public Trust and authority --- but at what cost, and borne by whom?

Reality Check -- No community of any size can long survive the destruction of its heritage, the dissolution of its freedoms, and the permanent division of its citizens.

Friday, June 25, 2010

34) The Lamp

I have a small red plastic heart -- one of those little trinket charms that come from a bubble gum machine.  It might be worth a penny.  It was a gift which I've had for years and have no plan to get rid of it.

I also have in the house a lamp.  It is what most people these days would call "god-awful".  It is supposed to be art-deco in style.  Its made out of aluminum.  And it doesn't work.  I have no plan to get rid of it either.

It is said that one person's trash is another's treasure.  A current councilor said to me, "I just don't understand how anyone could love an old barracks."  You don't have to understand why someone treasures something; you do have to respect that they do -- particularly when the thing treasured does no one any real harm.

In "Picture of Dorian Grey"  Oscar Wilde wrote, "A cynic is a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."  We live in cynical times; we live in destructive times; we live in times when the treasures of some are cast aside by those who consider them to be trash.

Before there was the biblical story of Lot, there was the Greek story of Diogenes who wandered the streets of a doomed city holding the Lamp of Truth in his hand looking for one honest person.

The Lamp is my wife's.  It was made by her beloved grandfather and is one of the few things she has of his and of him.

The question arises: is your definition of "trash" so correct, right, and true that it justifies casting aside that which someone else treasures, though the thing in contention does no harm? It is an ethical question. Good luck with that one.  As you wrangle with it, one by one, the public buildings of Los Alamos pre- 1970 are falling.

The Lamp flickers and fades.  Will you let it go out?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

33) When developers get it right

Roger Waterman had a good idea.  It was called Bradbury Row and it was the best idea being pursued at the time.  For that matter, it was one of the best ideas that has been proposed or pursued in Los Alamos in a very long time.

The idea was simple -- acquire the LA Apartments, rehab them, rent them, and use the rental incomes to finance building a retail/commercial portion fronting Central.  This was a great idea -- create a classic mixed use development in a non-destructive manner while preserving buildings of a previous period of Los Alamos history and development.  Had this gone forward, the total amount of the land space would have been brought into full economic use and the addition to Los Alamos in economic activity would have been substantial.

Unfortunately events conspired against Roger's very good idea. 

But it is still a very good idea, and still very do-able -- a mixed use residential/retail/commercial development can still be done.  It would provide housing for single adults while simultaneously creating a shopping promenade that would tie the Mari-Mac center with the older traditional center twixt 15th and 20th.  If you have ever been to the Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade, you know exactly what this would look like.

Reality Check -- which would give Los Alamos the greatest benefit on the LA apartment site: a Bradbury row style development, or a government office building which doesn't earn a dime nor in any consequential way contributes to the over-all economy?

Friday, June 11, 2010

32) The Cosmic Test

So, you are walking along the beach in Santa Monica.  It is early morning and you are the only person out and about.  Well, almost the only person.  You see a transient sleeping on a park bench up ahead.  The person's shopping cart with all the worldly possesions is parked close by, and there is a jacket hanging on the end of the bench.

You have a $20 bill burning a hole in your pocket.  What do you do?

A)  You move to the far side of the promenade and pass on by.
B)  You don't move to the far side of the promenade ---- just pass on by.
C)  You wake up the transient and give the person the $20.
D)  You wake up the transient and offer to buy the person breakfast.
E)   You report the transient to the authorities.
F)  You slip the $20 into the pocket of the transient's jacket and continue on.

I'm not going to give you an answer.  But consider the following:  What is your first reaction upon seeing the transient?  Have you ever really seen one?  What are you thinking?  What assumptions have you already made about the transient?  Is your choice influenced by sex, age, and general appearance of the transient? Why?

Which of the above choices is more about you, and which is more about the transient? Does it occur to you that the choice you make regarding the transient says more about who you are, about your world view, than anything else -- and that the same reasoning/feeling/beliefs that you bring into play here probably also direct most of your other choices?

Why do you/did you make the choice you made?  And why to that?  How deeply are you willing to explore your own motivations? 

What else can you learn about yourself and your relationship to the Cosmos?

How does the above apply to your perceptions of Los Alamos?

31) The Look of Love

When I first moved into the duplex I'm renting, the yard could have been declared a National Weed Life Preserve. So I got busy. My first summer, I dug up the entire front yard. Did this with a shovel and went about a foot and a half deep. Then I got out a hand held 3 prong cultivator and proceeded to go through every inch of the area digging out the weeds and roots systems. Once done I re-planted grass over the whole.

Since then I have done much of the backyard as well; we have put in raised garden beds and they and the beds that came with the house have been filled with flowers and vegetables. In the back there were once a couple of apple trees. These had been cut down some time before I moved in, but they insisted on living and with the watering for the lawn and other things, they came back. This year one of them will actually be producing apples. We will also have summer and other squash, snap peas, green beans, potatos, tomatos, lettuce, carrots, kale, spinach and a variety of herbs for the kitchen. Come winter those herbs will be hanging in bunches in the kitchen ready for use and giving off a wonderful smell.

So how come? After all, I'm just a renter -- why bother? Hmmm..ask my neighbors why they bother. The folks next door to me and across the street are also renting ---- and improving their grounds as well.

The County is about to hire a Code Enforcement Officer. Think that through. If you love, or at least respect, the home, the town, and the community in which you live you work to take care of it. You don't let the grounds go to weed. You don't let buildings fall into decay. You don't see "eyesores", you see a place that just needs a little help -- rather like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. You don't need The Lawn Police, because you do what needs to be done out of respect, and love, of your home, your neighborhood, your town, your community.

The fact that we need a Code Enforcement Officer says a lot about Los Alamos ---- and nothing good.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

30) Summer Reading List

Recently a lady told me her son's theory as to why Los Alamos seems so screwed up. Goes like this: We have very smart people who live here. Their job is to think. They work at their job of thinking 40 hours or more per week. They think. A lot. So when they aren't at work, they simply stop thinking.

With that in mind, here is a Reading List which will require that you think ----

Irving Rein: Rudy's Red Wagon

Alan Watts: The Wisdom of Insecurity

Lao Tse: The Tao teh Ching

Henry David Thoreau: everything he ever wrote.

While you read this, try to apply what you learn to life in Los Alamos.