Voice of a degeneration

Like every other writer I know, I’m the voice of my generation. Apparently, my voice just isn’t loud enough to overcome our collective screams of desperation. That said, I feel obligated to continue trying, partly because I have the rare privilege of being a writer with a day job, which is being a writer -but with some deadline panic to keep it interesting.

I’m a cockroach-less in the Gregor Samsa sense and more in the “I’ll outlive you in the nuclear holocaust” sense because, like most writers, I’m a survivor. I have an uncanny Gump-like facility for falling up. I…


This much I know I love: California Craft Beer Week starts on a Friday and ends on a Tuesday-11 days later.

That’s a helluva week of beer and precisely the kind of math I do after I’ve had a couple of pints (and by a couple, I mean multiply everything I say by a factor of two). This recalls the “fuzzy logic” some mathematicians made vogue in the ’90s, but with more fizz.

Fuzzy logic is “employed to handle the concept of partial truth, where the truth value may range between completely true and completely false,” according to the mathematical…


As the world turns

Even though it’s over, 2020 is still getting worse. Case in point, scientists have discovered that, due to a variety of circumstances, the Earth apparently spun on its axis at an increased rate last year. Yes, our collective merry-go-round is going faster-hang on tight.

Though the increased speed added up to only a mere second lost, that’s all the time we need to confirm the world is indeed spinning out of control.

With a speedier globe comes a requisite set of 365 shorter days. Given the unprecedented misery of 2020, perhaps shorter is better. Unless it’s your birthday. The shortest…


“The darkest hour is just before dawn.” Like many Gen Xers, I was introduced to this concept in a Mamas and Papas lyric crackling away on an FM station on a Volvo car radio. It was the ’70s, and the aftermath of Watergate and the war in Viet Nam hung pungently in the air like a great cloud of skunk weed. In California, there was a relative dearth of precious fluids-a simultaneous drought of water and gasoline, and our wine ran off to France and won the “Judgement of Paris.”

Jesus was both everywhere and nowhere at that time, though…


Remember writing in cafes? My own obsession began with Christine’s Cafe in Petaluma in the mid-’80s but quickly metastasized into San Anselmo’s Cafe Nuvo and finally into San Francisco’s North Beach.

This is where my cohorts and I vainly searched for traces of the Beats, who, by the early ’90s, were so heavily productized and marketed to those of us born under the sign of X that one could hardly think of On The Road without The Gap’s reminder that “Jack Kerouac wore khakis.” …


If you’re reading this, I will presume that you’re still alive. Congratulations. This is a difficult feat to accomplish these days. Maybe even more difficult than reading this while dead, not to get us into any sticky religious implications.

Just know that the universe has a habit of conspiring against you, Dear Reader-what with the ongoing infernos, plague, heat waves and all, not to mention the political strife and looming second civil war. Despite all this, you persist, you survive and you’re spending this hard-won moment of life reading these words, for which their author is both humbled and grateful…


No word yet if smoke taint will obliterate this year’s wine grape harvest, but the tri-county area has brewed up a backup plan in case 2020 proves to be a year without a vintage.

As tempting as it is to say that we have a “Plan B for Beer,” the fact is this has always been the region’s Plan A. Before Vineburg there was Hopland and before you look that up to prove me wrong, consider that we are on the eve of October, which means Oktoberfest is coming soon.

I predict there will be no Halloween this year, so…


Any other Gen Xers remember, back in the ’80s, when the Gipper was going to push the Button, causing the world to bloom with mushroom clouds? We didn’t know how good we had it. That atomic version of the apocalypse was swift and blessedly scientific. Moreover, it was backed by an “us versus them” dogma that was at least comprehensible.

Fast forward into the aberrant timeline we’ve managed to trip into (anyone read the Berenstein Bears lately?), where the moral calculus of our leaders is even more dubious and the End is Nigher than ever, thanks to the cowboy quartet…


Artists are better at coping with challenges-because we’re crazy. Last spring, Artnet News published an interesting piece about researchers from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence-yes, apparently there is such a place-that found that creativity correlates with psychological weakness … (wait for it) … and mental strength (phew!).

“In 1963, the pioneering creativity scholar Frank Barron wrote that the ‘creative genius … is both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, occasionally crazier and yet adamantly saner than the average person,’” writes Rachel Corbett in a piece that boasts the longest headline ever published: Artists Are More…


In times of crisis, some Westerners are fond of saying that “crisis,” when written in Chinese, consists of the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.” This is an interesting, even optimistic notion, that also happens to be wrong. It’s the kind of aphoristic observation that culty CEOs like making when they go “full guru” in front of their minions. Danger and opportunity aren’t just “two great tastes together at last” for these guys, it’s a panacea for nervous shareholders at best and justification for profiteering at worst.

Victor H. Mair, professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania…

Daedalus Howell

Author of Quantum Deadline and writer-director of Pill Head (both at Amazon). Editor of the Bohemian and Pacific Sun. https://daedalushowell.com

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