About Dean Balsamo

writer, publisher, image maker, voyager, husband, father, dreamer.


While the President set off another shit-storm in his tweets about Google –for once he wasn’t alone–just the most visible critic.

In a previous post I looked at growing concerns around social media platforms


and this week find various Media entities are also wondering about Freedom on Speech online.

According to a New York Times article earlier this week,  a 100 Facebook employees lead by a senior engineer formed their own page called FB’ers for Political Diversity after raising concerns about  the company’s overly left-leaning bias. They want to create a space for “ideological diversity” to combat the “political monoculture” they feel Facebook has created.

Elsewhere at least three major magazines–The Week, The Economist and MIT Technology Review–came out this week with articles examining similar themes concerning the degree of control Google and the other social media platforms have.

The Week’s editorial wonders if Google is ditching it’s original mission statement by looking at a return to China–and following that State’s directives around censorship of online activities–the very thing that Google refused to do when they pulled out of China on 2010.

And while The Economist article largely focuses on the competition Google will now have from China’s own homegrown search engines–it does wonder how Google squares their new desire to go back there –with their former stance of not cooperating with the Chinese State requirements around the banning and blocking of specific sites (like The Economists’ )

It doesn’t look like it’ll be any different in light of what Apple had to do earlier this year–provide all it’s I-Cloud data for Chinese citizens to a central state data center so the government has the same info.

The MIT article, Who needs Democracy when you have data?,  makes it clear China’s developing a Minority Report-styled future for it’s citizens. From the way it’s developing thus far you think all they need to do is add the DNA profiles and they can start sorting out undesirables before they’re out of the womb.

Basically China and social media platforms like Facebook that work with them–because you have to play to stay–are creating a huge demerit based system to rate its citizens on their trustworthiness and reputation–what the hell that’s supposed to mean.

But the State knows it when it sees it. They’re already using a system to collect as much data as it can about each citizen. We’re talking about everything they can possibly find–from unpaid parking tickets to arguments with a store owner, participation in a demonstration, arrests for disorderly conduct, what church or mosque you attend…everything.

It’s a system of values and–like school–demerits. You get too many of the latter and you might not be able to board a train or leave the country–even be allowed to enter Beijing –as recent protestors from the outlying areas found out when they came to do a traditional protest in the capital.

The fact that a Blacklist composed of citizens who have a negative profile according to the state– is the first “product” of this new system–tells you everything about its intentions.

The MIT article is the most comprehensive discussion I’ve seen of the Chinese approach but I was surprised by the attitude of the writer. She opened her piece by denigrating the democratic electoral process we have in the west. She blamed…Brexit and Trump on it’s failings…before in my opinion doing her best to put a happy face on the Chinese efforts as being something all countries will be looking to in the future.

Whoa I thought. We’re talking about the Chinese State. We’re talking about one in five people on the planet being affected.

And we’re talking about companies that work with them–like Facebook. Last week a report came out discussing Facebook’s new strategy for evaluating how much weight to give individual’s voice online. For instance if you object to a site on Facebook–the company reserves the right  to look at thing like your network of contacts among other things in order to gauge your…trustworthiness…echoing what China’s doing.

Did Facebook come up with this all on their own? Or is it a by-product of their work in China–a bleed so to speak?

What happens when Facebook can assemble a better dossier than sanctioned spies and the agencies they work for?

When  their trove of data allows them to craft a more complete profile of you than your own government?

Does it then become another player in the worlds intelligence game…buying and selling secrets with the others in the darker recesses of the Simulation?

Maybe we don’t have take up arms but we sure might want to raise our voices when it comes to making sure our freedom of speech is used to enshrine not silence our rights to think as we want online.

In the end I’ll  take our process, as sloppy and …human as it is…over  technocratic enslavement any day.

Dean Balsamo


The End of the Americans–My Russian Stories

The End of the Americans — My Russian Stories

The Americans TV series was an emotional experience for me—especially the finale. I teared up. Had a flood of memories. I too had contact with Russians during 80’s, the same period as the show.

They were artists mostly. I was an art dealer in San Francisco when I first met them. Later in the decade we were in New York City where I worked for their Russian dealer for a while.

We’ve been so wrapped involved with the Russians over the last 70 years that we might as well call each other “cousin.” We’re like family– we can’t seem to live with or without each other.

As a child in the late 50’s/early 60’s it was impossible to avoid having the Ruskies on your mind. You thought of them when you took your Pavlovian dive under a desk when the air raid siren sounded.

The nuns had you pray for Russia’s “conversion” in their quest to satisfy some Dan Brown-like thread they subscribed too—connecting Russia, Our Lady of Fatima’s prophecies and some report about the Pope turning ashen when he read them. Hey what did we know? We were kids.

You lay this on the Cuban Missile Crisis and you got some first class angst—guaranteed to keep your dreams and nightmares on fire. While Dr. Strangelove– Boris and Natasha blazed new cultural paths.

And my favorite: the Russian Spies. They could be anywhere. I was fascinated with their infilltratration of our country’s P.T.A’s and civic organizations.

When we got our first home—transitioning from our artist lifestyle—to one which now had two children and a house in a “nice” neighborhood– I drew upon my Russian spy lore to craft an avatar for myself during our shift in lifestyles. I dubbed myself “the subversive suburbanite,” in order to convince myself this was just an “assignment” not really me. I was doing it for a large cause.

In schools of the late 60’s—Russian influence was everywhere. Teachers talked the language of Marx and Marcuse. Those crazy Trotskyites (ANTIFA ancestors?) were doing their thing.

But it wasn’t until the 80’s that something akin to infatuation with Russian culture happened. I found the Russians warm, cold, gracious, suspicious, intellectual, primitive, idiosyncratic and great. Pretty much like everyone else in the world—the same but different—Russian.

One of the Russian souls I met towered above the others—above most people I’ve met. Ernst Neizvestny—sculptor and visionary. He died last year. Here’s the link to The Economist Obit on him:


This was the man who argued with Khrushchev about ARTISTIC expression after he called Neizvestny’s work “dog shit,” at an exhibit on the early 60’s.

From my conversations with him there’s no doubt he treated the Russian Premier —with his Stalin-era baggage about the purpose of art –like a Philistine.

Ernst lost the battle. Blackballed for years. Then won the war when Khrushchev –on his deathbed–asked him to do the piece for his tomb.

He was never sent to a camp just forced to be innovative securing materials and creating his works. Secret striving.

John Berger, the revolutionary-minded art critic, wrote a book on him. Pictured below. He traces the artist’s place within the Avant Garde linage established by the early Bolshevik artist-heroes.

I first met Ernst in the early 80’s when we had an opening for him at the gallery in San Francisco. Like many charismatic individuals he had something of a uniform—all black, leather vest, thick platinum ID bracelet. Stocky. A brutalist edge– just like his sculptures. He could have easily been an elder in Sons of Anarchy.

After the opening a bunch of us drank Russian style with him –shouts of “Nostrovia” and shots of Vodka. He embodied the heroic ideal of the artiste. I didn’t see him again until we moved to New York City a few years later.

Another person did a book him. I believe he’s connected with a museum dedicated to the artist’s work somewhere in Sweden.

Here in the States Ernst worked in relative obscurity out of his old studio on Grand Street at the edge of Soho. His twisted sculptor—often with forms of a cross—in the windows—made it look something like one of those old places of worship you could still find downtown then.

He had a huge vision for a monumental sculpture celebrating the unity of the world’s people. And said that Americans and Russians were alike when it came to appreciation for grand– larger than life projects. He thought that appreciation was baked into the large expanses of space both countries possess and the mentality that grew from them.

He inspired me enough to write a Docudrama about his life in Russia. Some how I found a draft—from ’87 I believe. Don’t know which version it might be—hasn’t had much of polish or much revising. I offer it as a product of the times. Can’t believe I did this all on a typewriter.

More Russian stories in another post.

Here’s the link to docudrama:

deans centaur (1)

Dean Balsamo





Freedom of Speech: Redskin-Filters-the Echo

Redskin-Filters-The Echo

Professor and civil rights activist Jerry Farber’s rant “Student as Nigger” galvanized Cali campuses in the late 60’s.

Like any great logline– as soon as we heard it—we got it.Saw the big picture—tasted the details—loved the concept.

Would it work like it did then in today’s online world?

The Totem of Diversity by Dean Balsamo

Jesus I doubt it. Charges and revolts over appropriation— and everyone’s favorite “racism” – would be everywhere.

Including all those friggin TV’s broadcasting the same channel in those lazy airports who take the money and abandon their clientele to the mind-numbing Media bullshit— which now instigates instead of reports.

Until the recent Purge of Alex Jones –the censorship by our internet giants appeared…piecemeal…they took out the fringe things and those damn Russians. 

The censorship sort of slipped under the radar. But Alex Jones? What’s the play here? Are the social media platforms banning him now—in order to a BUILD his audience …make him a martyr So when he comes back on …stronger than ever…they can monetize the hell out of him?

Okay so it’s a little conspiratorial. But we have a serious dilemma. Do we want the dominant companies framing the online world–to determine our rights to freedom of speech on the internet?

I don’t.

At least two of the largest are working hand in hand with the Chinese government to build a massive surveillance state by blocking, censoring and eliminating undesirable sites—undesirable people—that government has designated.   

And while the Purge is being presented as something all about “good intentions” … we all know– what that shit hole country called Hell is paved with.

Sorry. I don’t believe in “good intentions.” What I see doesn’t look good from the point of view of Freedom of Speech.

Ironically along with their censorship, employees at the company whose name means “search” to most people–has a movement to stop the company from working with our own defense/military agencies while willingly cooperating with the Chinese state. Hmm….

This is what I’d like to see happen:

Since these companies didn’t invent the internet –why don’t we take the decision-making process for safe guarding Freedom of Speech away from them and put it under our own Constitution. I don’t care what it takes—an amendment, executive action etc. let’s apply the same rights and protections we enjoy enshrined in our Constitution –online

Make our rights Vertical 

From heaven to hell.

The rest of the world can deal with this space however they want too. But it seems to me real “Resistance” in this country should be directed to a win all sides can enjoy—the freedom to say and think what we want.

I came to this decision in a personal way when Alexa decided –Post Purge—that I now had an objectionable song in my music library….one that only weeks before she added at my request without a problem.

Redskin Rhumba’s a big band tune from the 1940’s by Charlie Barnett’s band. It says everything about America at the time—infectious, you can’t sit still when it’s playing kinda music.

But when I asked Alexa to play it last week she claimed she couldn’t find it. I did a work around with the app and cued it up. But when she announced the song..

She said, “Blip (electronic sound) Rhumba.” Does this mean I now have to say “blip” or do I have to mimic the electronic sound she makes now? Is our music now going to be purged if doesn’t satisfy some algorithm invented in Palo Alto?

So who’s making these calls? And why? We’ve got a mash-up of a country—one whose culture I’ve always felt we should be free to draw from.

Objectionable words, ideas and people come with the territory …hasn’t that always been a given?

In my opinion the time has come to make the US Constitution the chief guide for online activity when it comes to Freedom of Speech. Take it out of the hands of the corporatocracy and put it in the hands of the people.

Dean Balsamo

***excerpt from Jerry Farber’s rant:

(note from this author: “Ah yes the 60’s. I always think – I’ve killed my hippie heart—and than something like this comes along”


The general timidity which causes teachers to make niggers of their students usually included a more specific fear — fear of the students themselves. After all, students are different, just like black people. You stand exposed in front of them, knowing that their interest, their values and their language are different from yours. To make matters worse, you may suspect that you yourself are not the most engaging of persons. What then can protect you from their ridicule and scorn? Respect for authority. That’s what. It’s the policeman’s gun again. The white bwana’s pith helmet. So you flaunt that authority. You wither whispers with a murderous glance. You crush objectors with erudition and heavy irony. And worst of all, you make your own attainments seem not accessible but awesomely remote. You conceal your massive ignorance — and parade a slender learning.




SLICE—Denver: Vangst Cannabis Job Fair


Vangst Cannabis Job Fair

Sometimes you have to throw a variable in to the mix. Shake the box. See if all those bits and pieces you got lying around can be re-configured in a productive manner.

Last week I got the bug and attended the Vangst Cannabis Job Fair in Denver.

The Vangst site (https://vangst.com) bills itself as “The cannabis industry’s #1 recruiting resource.”

I’ve been a subscriber to their missives for about 2 years. And curious about this growing industry for the last 4 years.

I write it periodically as in these early posts from Arcaneword:





But outside of making contact with the people in the retail stores, I haven’t had any contact with owners or upper tier management in the cannabis industry as I did working with upscale grocers around the country in my previous project. I’ve found that there’s a certain amount of secrecy in this regard— totally understandable.


I’m also looking for a partner on a CBD, first-to-market, product line from Hemp, Cannabis’s kissin cousin…. so I thought …

Okay it’s a five-hour drive—a straight shot up 25 from Santa Fe—a trip I’ve taken dozens of times over the years for work and pleasure….

This is my variable.

The event was held at the EXDO Event Center on 35th St., bordering the Five Corners area of Downtown Denver. Like most of the older parts of the city the buildings are low…and the area’s quickly going through the same kind of make-over most of our desirable cities are going through which means: breweries, a distillery, a wine bar, restaurants…did I say breweries….

It wasn’t a huge hall but just right for the size of the event. The cannabis industry is still in its infancy—though it’s already larger than the magazine industry—so you don’t need the typical convention center size…yet.

This gathering reminded me of the early day of the Natural Foods Industry when it was “movement.”

Like the natural foods industry at that time the cannabis world appears to be driven by Enthusiasts, the hard-core lovers and consumers of all things cannabis. There were several speakers on various topics and it was clear they weren’t coming from a corporate background.

At the same there was a start-up vibe seen in the well-scrubbed faces of eager Millennial staffing the simple tabletop approach to the event.

Speaking about appearances. I have to say I was expecting a hall of Rainbow people—stoners basically. Was I wrong. Overall there was, to me, a kind of Midwestern aesthetic to people’s attire…

Most of the attendees looked like they walked out of their **bullshit jobs (the name of a new book by Debt’s author David Graeber) at the bank, phone company, telemarketer’s pit….

And I was surprised by the demographic profile. There were quite a few over 40 and even in their 60s.

Regarding the boomers. After listening to one owner of cannabis company make pointed references in his talk to ….just showing up on time (and not after you’ve had a dab or two) I came away thinking that Baby Boomers could be a valuable addition to the cannabis companies.

(“schwag” from the show–one lighter has a tamping device for rolling/smoking)

Give them a short (4 hours) stint, some training and let them loose. I have the feeling that some of the things I heard about turnover could be addressed by hiring Boomers. They’ll show up on time, have a good work ethic and if studies from Europe are any indication—they’ll work well with Millennial.

As far as the job prospects at this fair went, most of those discussed at the tables were entry-level types: bud-tenders, trimmers, retail handlers of the cannabis. But for most, these kinds of jobs will be the best way for them to enter the industry.

On the other hand some of the cannabis companies in CO are reaching small grocery chain level in their reach.

Native Root was there. They have 25 stores—including two gas stations—in their holdings. And they were looking for a CFO.

As the industry plots it’s course for 20 billion a year—I don’t think it would be a bad idea for some buyers/VP’s of merchandising in the grocery industry to look at cannabis as well.

All in all not a bad event. I think they could have set up a coffee truck and had “lounge” of sorts where people could hang out—get to know others….

But…as a hybrid of a tradeshow/job fair it worked. We had the kinds of industry-related conversations you’d expect (I heard about an angel investors company in Boulder for instance), people were friendly, there was some solid information and some schwag was given away.(though no samples of anything you could smoke or otherwise consume).

I think anyone who’s serious about entering this industry would do well to attend similar kinds of events. Like most industries, relationships—networking—open the doors.

Men’s Style: Signs and Symbols in a French Gangster Film

A few years back I did a series of articles for a site devoted to men’s style. Like most of the sites in this genre, the discussions were largely focused on cannons and rules about men’s kit. It was needed as the 60’s brought such a complete break with tradition that men had nowhere to go to absorb any of the old teachings.

While I gleaned a lot of great information from the sites and applied what I wanted and could to my own life, I found myself drawn to  the signs and symbols of men’s clothing. 

In the article below in  I use  Le Cercle Rouge, a classic French gangster film from 1970 (and inspiration for Tarantino among others) as a jumping off point for examining looking at deeper aspects of men’s style. (dedicated to the recent visit by the French President.) 

Le Cercle Rouge, a Visual Reminder of the Essence of Men’s Style

French Director Jean Pierre Melville’s 1970 film Le Cercle Rouge, is among the most highly regarded, little seen stealth influences on some of the most well known directors of the last 30 years. The starkly costumed looks of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction read like homage to what must be considered the crown jewel of Melville’s multi-picture exploration of American style gangster flicks, with Le Cercle Rouge being likened by some to the idea of westerns shot with a Paris backdrop.

This is a movie you can settle down with a drink, scotch would be perfect, and study. After a while maybe you find yourself thinking heady thoughts. Maybe it’s time you think, to give the pendulum a push, maybe things have gotten just a little too precious when it comes to the opinions, lessons and injunctions you get about what you should be wearing. It’s all this moralistic relativity and lack of standards in general that’s eating away at you. All of sudden all the colors, combinations and volumes you’re seeing from Pitti or New York are suggesting surrealistic or circus clown inspired movements.


“Outfits” not “clothing” anymore you’re thinking. Mixed in the dark or under the influence or both. Not inventions or expressions of true style growing from one’s personality and being  but pea cocking, surface but no content, no direction,  throwing things – anything – against the wall. Me Me Me. And the sunny, unstructured, yet codified modes of display, brown, Italian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. You’re quick to add.

By contrast Le Cercle Rouge stands as an apotheosis to the stream of inspiration that resulted in the  bench-mark looks of classical clothing seen through the lenses of the 1960’s. It’s got a stellar cast, no pretty boys or prima donnas. No posers.  This is Alain Delon and Yves Montand and every person in the film personifying their character’s role to the tee. This isn’t a period piece; it’s a Document of its times where the height of the decade’s stylistic invention is showcased. This film’s a reference library for the viewer’s stylistic vocabulary. There‘s little here that couldn’t be incorporated by any man today. Cuff links, 3 piece suits, rich navy suits and top coats, white shirts, narrow ties, charcoal gray – and because it’s France, a naked woman and some dancing girls.

Some might view this film as an “antidote” to fashion waywardness and poseurs in general. In Le Cercle Rouge men are men. They wear suits, not costumes. Everyone looks impeccable, but the hue, cut, and forms never dictate what the men do nor how they do things even though what we see are uniforms both figuratively and literal. No one is constrained from acting in the way the fundamentals of character and circumstance evoke.  Men are running, rolling, shooting, fording streams, smoking, stealing, fighting, sleeping in and working-living in their clothes with utilitarian gusto. And this association with work should be stressed because unlike most of the stylistic mentors and films normally mentioned online, the figures depicted here are not those of the upper strata, the elites of the society normally associated in our investigations or imitation-worthy style but figures from the gray underbelly with its own codes and standards of behavior but with everyone adhering to an almost mannerist depiction of stylistic mores.

The film’s title is derived from a teaching by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, who used a chalk-drawn circle in red to suggest that those men whom fate has decided should come together, will invariably do so regardless of the diverse paths and individual personalities. And so we see in this film a mélange of different personalities yet though there’s a “good and bad guys” theme, there’s a moralistic, ethical backbone and an anti-hero bias that permeates the story. They struggle and question life – the life they’ve been dealt. They do it with a sense of personal honor.  No matter which side of the line they occupy, they carry on with a dignity and sense of regard for both themselves and those whom fate has brought into their individual lives.

There are no black hats to clearly identify the villains. The principals are ultra chic in a somber way. No self-consciousness. No parody. None of our simplistic irony. Yet all involved understand the lines separating the different sides are constantly moving and yet their choice of attire clearly demonstrates they are all operating on a similar level. The lines might be shifting on constantly moving sands but the uniform-like exactness of their clothing indicates they’re ready and willing to deal with the fates that are dealt to them. Watch it and learn.

Dean Balsamo








Arcane Word 2 : the Heaven Sighting Device – A Structure With Many Sides

The latest issue of Arcane Word,  my periodic stab at publishing takes a look at my Heaven Sighting Device project. You can read about it below and view  and even purchase it from the links below.

The first directly below opens a PDF file you can download and view at no cost.


The link at the bottom of this post-with the cover again – takes you to the Blurb site where you can both preview and purchase a print version Arcane Word 2 on the Heaven Sighting Device.

The phrase, “What if….” is a favorite tool of screenwriters and novelists. Each “what if,” leading to another as story unfolds. That’s the premise behind this issue of Arcane Word, The Heaven Sighting Device.

What if I send this premise out into the world?  I’ve held on to it for years, well before I ever saw the Great Pyramid or climbed that pyramid of the sun outside Mexico City or…or….

The Heaven Sighting Device is something I “saw” some time ago. But now with this step it gets more definition and the chance to move to the next step in it’s proof-of-concept path to realization.

I’m looking for resources from private or public sphere to get formal drawings addressing the specs, materials and some 3-D printed models.

Please feel free to get back to me with any questions and comments. They’re most appreciated.  You can find out more about this project below: click on the link below the picture of the cover and it will bring you to the Blurb site where you can both preview and order a print copy.

  • (you can also order the first issue of Arcane Word about graffiti in Cairo by on the link below.

Ruby’s Girl: My Original JFK Themed Story

Ruby’s Girl: My Original JFK Themed Story

“In 1963 a young dancer saves her life but loses her identity after falling down Jack Ruby’s rabbit hole and the underworld surrounding the crime of the century, JFK’S Assassination,”

This is the logline/premise for the original script I’ve posted below.  I wrote it over the last 9 months as a feature but then again I’m interested in all and every kind of screen for viewing- TV, Web Series etc.

I’d appreciate any comments you have. My email is dean@arcaneword.com

The recent release of documents from the event triggered my desire to share this story at this time. I’ve entered in a couple of contests but the bottom line is, this is my personal contribution to the endless source of stories generated by JFK’s death.

I’ve used the raw material from the event as a Launchpad – not a historical lock – on story. It focuses on the shadow word surrounding it – the world of unvarnished, unrepentant characters and the codes and codes of conduct their world demands. In a way I see the young dancer through whose eyes we experience the story as a proto-feminist- ahead of her time and like a fish out of water she has to find a way of dealing with the world she’s been cast into.

I see this story in  the “institutional” genre – she has to weigh her individual values against those of the “family” she’s surrounded by.

The tone shares elements with Birdman, Baby Driver and Amazon’s Man In the High Castle.

Click on the link below to read the PDF of the script.:

‘s Girl by Dean_Balsamo

My hope is it’s an entertaining way to explore the many aspects surrounding a wound that may never heal but at the same time is a story with mythic dimensions.

Thank you.

Dean Balsamo

A Mini Screed: AI. VR. Robots….

The god-damned robots…..

Answering our calls, cooking pizzas, serving burgers, making trades, passing medical tests, giving absolution, providing unconditional sex…

Where does it end?   Nowhere.

The human species sure looks like it’s transitioning from the “moist robot” of today**….

to an entity that builds on us…..but.ultimately may not be “of us.”

Hawking and Musk, post dire warnings about the AI/Robot threat …and who isn’t thankful for their words. But do you really believe anything or one…is going to reign in AI?

A few months back Facebook shut down two AI systems because they were talking to each other in a language only they could understand.

It looks like an Evolutionary meme driving the human species towards its next great leap:


We can’t  replicate our world fast enough. Our facsimiles are swallowing us whole.

 Star Wars and the Jennifer Lawrence space film show us wonky hybrids.  But aesthetics still have a play – why wouldn’t we have robots on the level of Ex Machina’s heroine?.

(Alicia Vikander from Ex Machina)

Does the  nascent Sex Bot industry give a clue about where the species is heading?

I hope not, right?

 disgusting, degrading, repelling…

Still they’re sorta like the French Postcards..of today…driving technological  leaps just as their paper facsimile ancestors did with photography….and porn on the internet did for chat, sound and streaming…..

Thanks to almost daily articles online about sex bots from publications  like the Daily Mirror in the UK. you get a hit of what one segment of the general public is being fed.

You wonder why you’re looking so far ahead. Maybe it’s “bias confirmation,” Is it a joke or a fad? How can  we grow this close to machines without something (strange?) happening?

For instance in the latest MIT Journal of Technology there’s an interview with a leading scientist working on developing AI/Robots that will recognize the moods and mental states of the humans around them. She says the next five years will bring tremendous strides in the field.

Soon. You enter your office.

Alexa: “You seem a little down today. Do you want talk about it?”

And the tactile world of the bots will grow more sophisticated because customers demand it. And science will supply it in one way or another..

That’s what I got in reading an interview with the designer Stella McCartney (Paul’s daughter) in the latest Fast Company.

Known for her commitment to sustainable and vegan material in her lines, she discusses a company in Brooklyn that makes a product she uses in place of “real”  leather.

Only the company she’s working with isn’t using plastic or vinyl to make fake hides. They’re “growing” leather hides made from collagens, on slabs.

It’s customized for texture, pigment, thickness etc. and not one animal is harmed.

All I can do is take the flesh with the blood

.And Fear of Robots along with Awe of their future…

 jacked into some universal Mind ..in a Cloud…bodies as beautiful mainframes.

Robot Hope is

Robot agony.

Don’t let emotions

Gum up the works.

By Dean Balsamo

** “moist robot-a term Scott Adams, the Dilbert creator uses to describe our present human state from the standpoint of Persuasion-his specialty.

Love Poems for Robots: prose in praise

Some 20 years ago I began a chapbook called Love Poems for Robots.  A little ahead of it’s time I put it aside. But I recently began looking at it as future publishing project.

In doing so I was inspired to write a new entry:

When the Robot Said….

When the Robot said


We laughed.

When the Robot said


We cowered.

When  the Robot said.

“Fuck you.”

We crushed it.

 By Dean Balsamo


Taos: A Hippie Ruin – Artifacts


Penny’s half pit-half-shit- house lies in ruins not far from our land.

“Burned out,” is what the pipeline to the mesa says.

Meet her once. Four years ago-the last time we came to our plot-five miles past the  Gorge Bridge outside of Taos, NM. The same bridge appears in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

Penny. 30-40. A face like a relief map. Paranoid and prickly – like the Cholla dotting the landscape. No surprise.

At first glance her structure – with the goat pen attached – looks made for the Duchampian approach the Hippy-Survivalist-Outlaw culture here employs.

Anything with a roof and walls of some sort qualifies. A broken school bus like Pine Ridge. Or something growing out of the ground – a mash up with debris its owner manages to scrounge.


Taos being Taos… a flexible personality is….helpful.  Penny’s was a fail.

There’s no grid. Utilities.  But justice is served.  It’s harsh like the landscape. What can you do when The Social Contract is the law of the land?


The spirit on the Mesa or “Carson Estates,” as it’s also called – lines up with historical precedent.

In the past, Taos Pueblo – on the other side of the Gorge – sends their “bad hombres” into exile – to this same place.

No water to speak of – at least 800ft down.  Little shade – a few pinons. The road rutted. Sunbaked like adobe.

A big sky, wild sage, volcanic rocks and the occasional tarantula round out the general conditions.

Penny’s ruins leave us a glimpse at her bare bones “vernacular” style. Using a Turkish-inspired approach she puts bottles – wine, beer, water- into her mortar. In this case the mud she mixes from the ground she walks on and applies it over the jerry-rigged framing – a collection of sticks and stones.


Haven’t seen this technique used by anyone for a while.  Reminds me of Guerneville, CA and other Humboldt County stops in my hippy past.

TAOS MESA THROUGH THE WINDOW.As Penny’s house slowly makes its way back to Earth….

Another Hippie artifact is a growing presence: the recycled School Bus.


Since our last trip a collection of them is taking root.  In true hippie speak: they “serve the people.”  With a side – a mad max/depression-era flavor.

Hot meals, sundries – even library services are offered


This is a population defining itself.  After language…and a few other aspects…buying and selling is about as basic as it gets in this regard.



This car stands about a mile into the road. Says everything. New signage.

Almost medieval. Like a city state or town  posting proclamations and expectations – helpful attitudes to hold.

We’ve been coming here over a 24 year period. Its nomadic culture’s doing what most hunter gather ones  do. Settle.

Land loving, land grabbing, squatters….

Free –thinking –until they’re not – freedom- loving- would- be -artists with the terrain-assemble here.

A population in flux. People are digging in.  Can running water and electricity be far behind? My guess is you hear everything you need to know at the school bus general store.