About Dean Balsamo

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

Ye (Kanye) + Ideation Hub + Sneakers

Ye (Kanye) + Ideation Hub + Sneakers


Given our news cycle this is “ancient” history but I was waiting to see if anyone would delve into the ideas Ye (Kanye) presented in the Oval Office a couple of weeks ago.

Unlike most in the media, when I live-streamed the meeting on Periscope, I saw a man in the midst of a creative fire ( a Kundalini experience?) who used Persuasion strategies—including the unforgettable “theater” …something great Persuasion often demands…to outline a series of proposals with a visionary flavor to them.

Of course our puny pundits– so good at stirring the pot but so bad at knowing what’s in it—displayed their usual lack of understanding.

Mesmerized by the “theater” and the on-going attempts of a man to free himself of the prison of the mind—all they could do was dismiss everything Ye said.

His statement about Time not existing? Well Einstein said the same thing with “Time is a persistent illusion.” And don’t self-realized Masters include the idea as a tenet in their teachings?

And who doesn’t want “fly” planes and cars or Stop & Frisk re-considered?

chicago underpass

But the thing that hit me was Ye talking about the Yeezy Ideation Center.

When I heard that….I had a vision of…SNEAKERS and…

A girl in Kazakhstan with SO Side Kicks from Chicago….

A Tunisian boy in the Belleville area of Paris with Blues—sneakers with an indigo cast –from St Louis…

And our son’s friend…researcher during the day…online curator of collectible sneaker designs at night–selling a pair of Hops—with their red-rust soles—out of Milwaukee –to a collector in Japan.

The brands are hypothetical but the potential to make them isn’t.

I can see Ye’s Ideation center established in cities throughout the Midwest with teachers and students working in an immersive environment –bringing sneaker designs to the table—developed in their own communities. It seems like a natural product growing from the communities hosting the creative hubs.


My feeling is they wouldn’t have a hard time selling them– as anything associated with “urban” culture here in the US is enjoying some great momentum here and among youth cultures throughout the world. The movies Get Out and Black Panther are great examples.

The timing for getting a sneaker production ecosystem going in the Midwest couldn’t be better.

This week The Economist in an article entitled The Producers says this about manufacturing in the Midwest:

“ Industrial output is on a tear, and the last few months have seen the best run for growth in manufacturing jobs since the late 1990s.”

 They also say, “Jobs are moving geographically. Since the recovery started, the East North Central region, which includes places like Michigan and Illinois has captured a share of employment gains that exceeds its share of job losses during the recession.”

The magazine contrasts this with the East Coast, which has seen none of the gains in this sense.

Chicago Lake Michigan

With this kind of wind at Ye’s back and his Yeezy brand opening up an office in Chicago –it seems like a perfect time and perfect product to look at producing in an Ideation hub.

The sneaker project’s economies of scale could be positively impacted if Ye would use his persuasive powers on Adidas.

Right now Adidas has a Speed Factory in the Atlanta area. Its AI-driven processes, 3D printing and skilled robotics operators means …design to product…and shipping takes weeks instead of months and only several hundreds workers versus the thousands needed in an Asian factory.

Ye understand the process since his own designs go through it. What if he spoke to Adidas about doing a second Speed Factory in the Midwest?

It could handle both over-runs and special projects for Adidas. It can also manufacture the sneakers developed in Ye’s Ideation hubs. As Jobs said, “Real artists ship.”

All the elements seem to be there. And when you add Ye’s association with the products coming out of the hubs…you’ve got all you need to see the sneakers blow up around the world. If they’re branded in conjunction with Ye I don’t see how they can miss.


Speaking about Brand …and it’s importance in marketing, it’s worth discussing what Ye brings to the table in this area because of the potential he has for doing any number of things….

Including running for President in 2024.

I know what you’re thinking…I’ve lost my mind. But as the last Presidential election proved…we’re in a new era of politics.

Spending the most money doesn’t guarantee you win.

The game has changed. And Ye has two of the most critical things politicians of the future will have to have in order to make a serious run at the highest offices:

Ye has a huge Brand. And he has a huge Social Media presence.

These are currencies with the most clout in today’s political landscape. If he continues to hone his skills in the Art of Persuasion he could be the person to beat if he chooses to run. If the general economic climate holds I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ye throw his hat in the ring. America should be ready to up its visionary prospects for the future by that time.

Dean Balsamo




If Enthusiasts can stop circling the wagons and if researchers can punch a hole in the Ivory Tower we could enter a Golden Age of Exploration when it comes to our ancient relationship with cannabis.

That’s the feeling I got after attending a recent presentation here at Santa Fe’s Temple Beth Shalom by Israeli expert Dr. Nirit Bernstein – one of Israel’s top researchers into cannabis as medicine— the Israeli focus on the plant.

Under the state’s auspices she’s out to prove cannabis can be used as what we typically label “medicine”….a substance that gives predictable results.

Cleverly entitled 50 Shades of Green, Dr. Bernstein was knowledgeable but also warm and engaging. As a speaker she paced her audience and stuck to the spine of her story: Israel’s concentration on cannabis as medicine.

The underlying theme unfolded as she spoke. Basically we have a plant that’s been a part of human life for 10,000 years— as number of ancient burial sites attest – yet science is only beginning to understand how it’s various properties act.

THC for instance was only discovered (by an Israeli researcher) in 1961. And although the plant has hundreds of elements, only relative handfuls have been studied from the standpoint of scientific research— because it’s been Scheduled for so long.

And as Dr. Bernstein said since we’re talking about medicine –a whole different dynamic is at play in the study of cannabis. The number one consideration from this vantage point is: Standardization. 

This means protocols have to be followed that others investigating cannabis are not bound by.

It was a stark take-away from the talk when compared to our Wild West approach here in North America—where the distinction between “medicinal products” and what we typically call “medicine” tends to get blurred with the influence of the recreational component.

She called the Folk Medicine derived tinctures of yesterday and today, tablets and balms etc. “Medicinal Products.” She didn’t put down all the testimonials we hear from people who have successfully treated medical conditions. She just drew a line between her strategies and our approach.

Because of our particular history Enthusiasts here–Amateurs in the original sense of the word—spearhead most of the research with strains, cultivation methods and propagation because unlike Israel –which began five years ago –official support for cannabis research has lagged behind.

Is one approach better than the other? Who can say? When you travel the world you come to accept that different cultures and countries have their own way of doing things.

In Cairo for instance, though it’s officially illegal…it’s all around you.

Israel is also concerned with the sane kinds of things regarding cultivation and usage but with a different set of parameters.

I think each side can learn from the other. For instance Dr. Bernstein comes to cannabis with an expertise we normally don’t see or hear about: Soil and Water.

She shared some of her insights. As in the case of growing inside…versus outside.

She seems to favor inside growing because it offers more of the kind of standardization you have to have with medicines–that’s its essence. The thrust of Israel’s work is finding benchmarks—stable indicators of the kind of actions to expect from cannabis as a medicine.

Inside plants tend to be manicured —the whole plant gets light— the buds from top to bottom have a consistent composition of cannabis elements. A definite plus if you’re growing it to use as medicine.

By contrast outdoor plants have an uneven distribution of light. The buds at the top have full potency whereas the lower ones—who receive less light— show a much greater difference in their composition.

And when it come to adding things to the soil for growth and pest control she pointed out that some substances can actually cause a REDUCTION in CBD and other elements we might want to see.

That’s why I liked her emphasis on using Botanicals in this regard. This is Israel’s preferred method of treating soil for their cannabis. It’s less likely to interfere with the plant’s production of beneficial products.

I don’t know much about Botanicals but it sure sounds more “pure” and “organic.” Definitely something cultivators could be looking at.

All in all with so many now getting access to cannabis and the means and methods to discover it’s properties in a deeper manner—whether gonzo bio-hacking and experimentation or research in the lab– it’s looking like cannabis is at the forefront of what the late/great Terrence McKenna called The Archaic Revival.

By Dean Balsamo


Robots and Gender

Robots and Gender

By Dean Balsamo

(Indigenous Warrior- Mexico. Museo Nacional De Anthropologia)

If the accusations, resignations and incidents of the last couple of years have taught us anything it’s that


The biological imperative we arise from— guarantees we Homo sapiens view everything with a male or female gaze.

Hell. We label everything from rock formations and cloud patterns to cars and cannabis as male or female. It’s an integral part of our relationship with the world. We can’t escape it. It’s built into our genes.

That’s why I found a recent article entitled It’s About Time To Talk About Robot Stereotypes by Matt Simon on Wired magazine’s website so surprising.

As a long time subscriber I’ve watched it sacrifice its outlaw steampunk attitude and climb on board the corporate Silicon Valley train. Now it’s all social engineering and virtue signaling.


The author makes the case for robot designers and those who use them—the rest of us—to avoid gender as much as possible when creating our robots.

He lumps our biological attachment to gender in with “social problems, ” that he hopes robot designers will help mitigate by removing as much of our legacy associations with gender as possible.

Further on he says, “Why go backwards? Why refer to gender norms from the 1960’s “ (what about the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s on up to the present day?)…

And says this about the process: “The struggle is against capitalism’s tendency to gender every product it can.”

So even though capitalism is only a few hundred years old he’s using it retroactively to explain the human race’s predisposition to gender?

Now we’re supposed to drop our associations with gender—driven by our biology just like that when it comes to interacting with robots—our future selves?

(from the author’s Sapien Suite. Mixed media on paper)

Granted we all want to mollify the more negative aspects of gender differences but c’mon is it really possible to treat robots as a blank slate at this point?

We’ve already sexualized AI. Our attachment to our phones already makes us “cyborgs” according to Musk. We’ve already put a gender spin on things

A more realistic approach comes from Randy Eady a futurist in Florida with a twin focus on developments in care-giving robots and human mind expansion.

Randy’s Profile Link:


I recommend looking at his posts in my feed and on his Facebook page to get a feeling of where we’re heading in these areas. It’s clear from what I can see that even the care-giving robots are being designed with a serious nod to gender.

Studies indicate that using features we see as male, female, and animal on the robots –awakens more interaction and attachment on the part of the humans interacting with them.

You can’t “sell” the robot to Homo sapiens without gender. It’s the best entry point for getting humans on board with our Robot future selves.

Take a robot security guard for instance. Who’s going to be more effective at their job–the tall robot with broad shoulders, a deep voice and a mean glare or a doe-eyed, soft-voice robot with a demure manner and stature?

The need and drive for gender in robots is most clearly seen in the evolving sex bot industry built on the legacy history of the sex doll which they can’t ignore if they want to be successful. Can you imagine intimate relations with a sex bot without gender? The robot designers can’t.

And neither can David Levy the author of Love + Sex With Robots — one of the seminal books on the subject.

Reading it, I’m convinced as the author suggests, that by mid-century intimate relations between fem/male sex bots and humans will be commonplace in our society because the robot makers are following Best Practices in this regard.

And those are based on…. The Orgasm. The drive for sexual pleasure will make the sex bots irresistible to many humans as the various gender-related signs of attraction and affection become more realistic…more…human.

It’s as primal as that. The urge to imprint gender on our robots is inescapable. How do you overturn a legacy with a million years behind it—over night?

The biological meme that divides us into sexes acts something like a shape-shifter—carrying its design strategies even into the non-human robot.

Gender is our entry point into life and wherever life takes us. And the more pronounced the gender differences and more fine-tuned they become –the more successful will robot designers be in getting humans on board with them.

Ironically I can see our current society’s attempts to blur the differences between the sexes triggering an equally pronounced drive to create hyper representations of idealized male and female attributes in …our robots. Fantasies become embodied in the robot.

Will the robots replace the sexual relations we now (hopefully) enjoy with other humans? Maybe for some.

But for the majority intimate relations with sex bots will be more a way of adding a different sexual experience to our lives than replacing human contact.

Who knows…some of the traits and attributes we find desirable in our robots may even begin to surface again in our human-to-human relationships.

We can only imagine what Freud or Reich might have to say about the matter.

He Smashes through the Saga

like a Comet Through Butter

And writes his story

like pictographs on rocks

with his own piss.



Mexico City: Our Pilgrimage Paths

A psychogeographical (from the Situationist movement) tour of Mexico City exploring the history-charged atmospheres of its landscape.

Calavera, pyramids, cannibals, headless bodies swinging to a narcos tune.

No it’s not the Bardo. It’s the blood-drenched earth of pre-Conquest Mexico forever stamped on the people who occupy it.

That’s my take on Mexico’s fascination with the macabre. It can’t be helped—it grows from the land itself.

It’s what fuels Mexico’s fantastic sense of the monumental and the ability of its arts to work with epic themes and aesthetic excellence.

With things this primal no wonder Surrealists and the Russian Avant Garde were taken with Mexico City.

The psychogeographical pilgrimages we made to our sacred sites on a recent trip to Mexico City (or CDMX as the locals now call it) continually features themes around suffering, violence and bloodletting.

But it’s all good. The city takes on a new resonance when you dig a little deeper. We had a great time. The people we encountered were warm and welcoming—even street toughs I met. It was tranquil.

Aztec blood mingles with that of the Christ in a symbiotic understanding of what Campbell would call “Redeemer” cultures.

This was my second visit to Mexico City in the last five years. The first gave me the general lay of the lay of the land. The second deepened my understanding of the country’s mystique.

In Colonia Coyoacan—about 10 miles from the city center—we visited Frida Kahlo’s home/museo. It’s everything you’ve seen in countless articles over the years except for a “temporary” exhibit that rivaled a set in a B horror film or something by the Mexican director who did The Shape of Water.

It was a surprise as so many other things in this city are—like the Russian influences ( both modern countries date back to 1917) and some of the things we saw in the anthropological museum.

As you can see below:

A cold, sterile white-tiled wall, like something you expect in a morgue–was constructed as a backdrop for the braces—in all their creepy glory—which Frida wore most of her life after being impaled in an accident when she was young.

The story here is Diego Rivera stashed them behind a locked bathroom door, they were discovered, and now the museum shares them with the world.

Then we headed to a place I had long wanted to visit—Leon Trotsky’s home. It was the place he lived when an ax was buried in his head by a Spaniard duped into carrying out the assassination by a KGB agent who hatched the plan in Santa Fe, NM according a book about spies in our area published a few years ago.

Though only blocks away from Frida’s, few took the walk to the home of her one time lover. I wasn’t surprised to find it was located at the edge of the colonia next to a busy highway minus any of the refinement found in the rest of the area.

As a former Communist sympathizer in my youth, I still revere Leon Trotsky for the fact that he epitomizes the classic view of the worker-intellectual. I’m reminded of the Jewish relations of an old girlfriend in Los Angeles who lived by a similar credo back in the late 60s.

Although the grounds of his compound were pleasant—trees, flowers, sunny:

Picture of the author in Trotsky’s garden.

The inside was another story. Unlike the Trotskyites I knew in college and the ANTIFA of today– the house was Spartan. Left as it was when he died—the atmosphere that remains–reminds me of a large jail cell—minus marks of time on the walls or even pictures.

Gray. Austere to my senses. Cold and uninviting. It reveals a man who walked the talk. The only daylight entered through widows high up by the ceiling of the towering walls. Maybe he was trying to recreate the gray skies of the homeland he was exiled from.

The amazing thing to me is although this intellectual for the masses–who mobilized the masses when the Bolsheviks took control after the first and only free election in Russia—he didn’t act like your garden-variety fundamentalist.

He had a great love for art and its romantic associations —seen in his friendship with Diego and Frida. An unusual revolutionary fusion of sensibilities.

The next day we made the obligatory trip to the “pyramids” by which everyone means the Teotihuacan complex about an hour out of the city. Last occupied by the Aztecs–no one knows who actually built the man made mountains of the Sun and Moon and supporting temples.

You have to imagine the complex’s old days– rituals of beating hearts being torn out of sacrificial victims from structures decorated with figures of their sacred animals–because the authorities have removed everything of value. They make some of best examples available for viewing in the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia the magnificent complex of buildings in Chapultepec Park –housing artifacts –even replicas of temples—devoted the various indigenous cultures of pre-colonial Mexico.

Here we saw skeletons of sacrificial victims laid out in dirt—the way they were found at the ancient sites.

And the famous so- called “Calendar” stone of the Aztecs which is actually now known as a sacrificial slab where warriors were ritualistically killed. It’s the most popular place in the museo for Mexicans to take photos of themselves

But the most startling find here was…the cannibals. The museo has a diorama of cannibals feasting on another human being while children play in the background. I’ve never seen anything like this in a regular museum. The details in the depiction blew my mind. It’s both gruesome and fascinating—like a car accident you can’t look away from.

Cannibals feasting.

The final leg of our web of pilgrimage paths took us to 122 Monterey, an apartment building sandwiched between light industry and non-descript buildings in the Colonia Roma area…about a mile from our place in nearby Colonia Condesa.

This is the location of the apartment in which Beat icon William Burroughs—pulled a William Tell performance piece with a pistol and an apple on his wife’s head. It turned catastrophic when he missed. And killed her.

I knew about the incident but never knew where it happened until we found a small note in a guide book someone gave us. None of the Mexican people we spoke with had a clue about it.

The door at 122 Monterey.

When we got there we found no plague. No nothing about what had happened here many decades ago. Just a black door a workman was painting on a building that was for sale. That’s Mexico City.

Dean Balsamo


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.