Saturday, August 25, 2007


American’s have a love/hate affair with their garbage. Clearly they hate it because they don’t want it around and can’t wait to get rid of it. However they clearly they love it because they keep making more of it. Garbage, trash, refuse, disposables, rubbish, junk, waste, debris; crap by any other name would still smell as sour. There is so much garbage created that the Fishkill Landfill, outside NYC is the only other manmade object visible from space after the Great Wall of China. Except the Great Wall was built about 1000 years ago from stone blocks not Diet Coke bottles and Pampers.
In Europe recycling is free however they charge you by the pound (kilo) when your trash is hauled away. But that is silly European garbage and doesn’t contain American culture. Yes, our culture is one of consumption and with everything consumed (unless it is a buffalo and you are an Native American Indian) there is garbage left over. That’s our culture; Earn, Buy, Consume, Dispose, Repeat.

According to the Clean Air Council:

 American’s in 2005 generated approx 4.5 lbs of waste per day. That is 1642 lbs per year or another way to look at it: 16, 420lbs per decades. That is more than 8 tons of garbage per person per ten years.

 Each year, Americans trash enough office paper to build a 12-foot wall from Los Angeles to New York City.

 Americans toss out enough paper & plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times. (most of those countries than lie along the equator will have no use for those items, because they are starving to death)

 Almost 1/3 of the waste generated the U.S. is packaging.

 Every year, Americans make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
(This last statistic shows some promise of being useful because had this been done prior to 2000, there would have been a greater likelihood “W” would have stayed in Crawford, TX)

 The amount of glass bottles Americans throw away every two weeks would have filled both World Trade Center towers.
(All of those bottles may have stopped them from collapsing)

 Forty-three thousand tons of food is thrown out in the United States each day. In one year that amounts to 15, 695,000 (Fifteen Billion, six hundred ninety five million) of wasted food. (How long has it been since you heard the line, “Finish you dinner there are starving children in Africa!” It use to be china but not anymore)

 America is home to 5% of the world's population, yet it consumes 1/3 of the Earth's timber and paper; making paper the largest part of the waste stream at 37.5% of the total waste stream.

And America is only 300 million people.
If China's per capita resource consumption were the same as in the United States today, then its projected 1.45 billion people would consume the equivalent of two-thirds of the current world grain harvest. China's paper consumption would be double the world's current production. There go the world's forests. If China one day has three cars for every four people, U.S.-style, it will have 1.1 billion cars. The whole world today has 800 million cars. It would need 99 million barrels of oil a day. Yet the world currently produces 84 million barrels per day and may never produce much more.
Source: Lester Brown, American Scientist Online

Well it’s a good thing that America, which represents about 5% of the world’s population has been able to consume about 25% of the world resources otherwise that huge military build up would have been a waste of our money. As it is, we are ready to fight to the death, (or at least send our young people to fight to the death for us) to protect our right to consume as much as we want, as quickly as we can. We are discouraged to think. We are encouraged to consume. If the opposite was true we would see more educational programming than commercials, right?

There needs to be a new plan put into place as we are ‘greening’ the planet which involves people no longer being able to ‘send out’ their trash but will have to live with it as long as it remains solid waste, once it has dissolved you can simply flush it down your toilet, nobody will know. But as long as it is solid it needs to stay with you, at home, in the car, at the office, on vacation….the trash stays with you! Soon people will be looking for ways to compost those old items that you can’t give away.

Since you have already got that burial plot picked out, why not do the planet a favor and bury your garbage in the hole, while you get cremated and fed to the gold fish. That second home may soon be the primary dump as people will be looking for creative ways to do something with their trash. Storage units are a big business these days as people have more stuff than will fit in their homes, but trash units will need to be ten times the size of the current lockers because we throw away more than we keep. But since we will no longer be able to throw anything away, ever again it will change the way we live. It will be consider a gracious and loving act to steal from people and they will thank you for making their loads lighter and their apartments roomier.
The rich will be able to hire the poor to keep their trash for them thereby increasing gainful employment for those who have lived without but are now not going to be given the choice. Since there are more poor than rich, the poor will be competing with each to get the business of keeping the trash of the rich. They will impress upon their prospective clients that they are poorer and therefore will have fewer things to buy and less trash of their own. These people will have lots of empty space that can be filled with the garbage of the wealthy which will in turn give the rich more space of their own, that allows them to consume more things. Since the poor are most likely the ones making the stuff the rich are buying doesn’t it makes sense that it goes back to them in the end? Now that is what I call recycling.
© Michael Marlin 2007

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Recently an idol was born although manufactured would be a better adjective and I might say it is nice to see something manufactured in America these days. It won’t be long before China starts importing their own idols for us to worship since we have been consuming pretty much everything else they send to our shores. But American Idol has just selected a fresh 17 year girl who is now our very own “diety.” I heard it said by one of the judges that this was a singing contest, not a popularity contest so why don’t they call it American Singer? Because we won’t worship at the feet of a singer, we need idols since long ago our spiritual connection to the real thing got supplanted by our cell phone connection. And you know what happened to the last batch of us who choose idol worship over “you know who.” It doesn’t matter because in less time than it take for a fish to mature, we will have forgotten this idol and our attention will be turned to the newer, shinier idol, who is even now, at this writing waiting in the wings.

I have been in show business, since 1975 where my first stint was with the circus as an elephant groom so I can dish some dirt on the industry with more credibility than most. One of the most poignant things I have ever heard was from a well known British Singer/Composer Anthony Newley who said, “Performing artists and entertainers in America are like Kleenex, you use them once and throw them away.” This I heard in 1985! Of course by that time I had been retired from my shovel for some ten years but I should have kept it as it would be useful even today. It takes a shovel and the willingness to resist the gag reflex when watching the industry fabrication phenomenon.

The definition of a fad is something that is created from the top and moves down. A trend on the other hand starts at the bottom and moves up. Fads are created by the industry executives with the hope that it moves far enough down the food chain that us single celled thinkers can consume it. Trends are created by the rest of us, the people who are referred to as ‘grassroots’ and when they take hold the top of this chain responds and gives us what we have already been giving ourselves. The Grateful Dead, Phish, organic food, recycling, Fair Trade were not created for us, but created by us and that is why they lasted. Okay, Jerry died but everybody does, his music however lives on.

The Dead were America’s longest running band with some 25 years of playing and touring…..what is the likely hood of our new Idol making it to one tenth of that with a prominence and fan base that will last longer that 2.5 years? By that time she will be leaving the gleam of teen hood and becoming an adult woman and we all have seen what happens to immature singing stars once they hit twenty. They are doing everything they can to stay in the public’s eye which inevitably means humiliating themselves for all of us to see, because the only thing that holds American’s attention more than watching a star rising is watching it crash and burn.

So to our new winner, “Save your money like they won’t buy your records tomorrow, don’t believe what the press writes about you, make and keep your friends on the way up because if you are nice to them today, they will be there for you tomorrow when all the ticket buyers have long gone home and forgotten who you are.”

© Michael Marlin 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Paris Hilton & Why We Don't Have Royals


It use to be when you would invoke the name of Paris what came to mind was the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Bistro’s, or rude Frenchmen. Nowadays Paris is always followed with, “Oh her” referring to the heiress to the Hilton Fortune who has just landed a stay at the “Big House” where room service is bread and water. Given her flagging ratings in the daily media this is just the thing she needs to bounce back. It didn’t put a dent in Martha Stewart image though she does seem to be decorating more with stripes these days. Jail is now becoming something of a default detox center but in this case it is American’s who will have a break from the Paris Habit.
What made America different than the Old Country is that there was to be no royalty in the New World. Though we said goodbye to Dukes, Earls, Viceroys, Counts, Kings, Queens and Jacks we didn’t rid ourselves of the need of someone more powerful than us who would offer their protection and do our thinking for us. In the old country the royals were groomed, schooled, mentored, tutored to take on the roll of ruling the masses. Sure there was always the odd ball who insisted that the moat be filled with cream cheese but they were the exception to the rule. You don’t need a lineage or breeding to be in front of the adoring masses today, you just need money. Paris may have the lineage of Conrad Hilton but her breeding has only been demonstrated on the internet. American’s have been duped into accepting celebrities as a poor substitute for royalty. Royalty takes years to develop as it requires doing deeds of great merit, casting off barbarians, forging alliances, acquiring lands and grinding the serfs underfoot. Today all it takes is a couple hundred million dollars and it doesn’t matter if you inherited it or made it all selling porn on the internet, American’s will flock to your image and lay tributes at your alligator skin clad feet. What you say or do isn’t nearly as important as how much money you have because with the latter you can buy people’s opinion about what you say and do. In the end you won’t care because even though people may loose interest, your money will continue to make it.
© Michael Marlin 2007