Monday, September 28, 2020


Our Founding Fathers saw the writing on the wall.

People weak. Humans full of their human frailty, subjected to the will of their own selfish egos, much like tyrants or kings. They saw people capable of taking advantage of political landscapes, as they would use friendships in high places to get their little “good ole boys club” what they wanted, leaving the rest of the society to fend for the crumbs. They saw the potential of “cronyism,” though they would not use that word since it was first uttered in 1840.

According to the dictionary, “cronyism” is known as “the practice of appointing friends or associates to positions or otherwise showing them favor due to having a relationship with them, rather than for their qualifications.”

Yes, such a practice holds the seed of corruption for sure. For in this scenario it isn’t about the good of the people, but the good of the friends. Not the good of the many, but rather the few.

But where did this all start – this concept of giving favors to friends over the desire for the good of the larger population?

Well look no further folks.

You were there.

You saw it unfold.

You knew it was happening.

Hell – you may have even taken part in this despicable act.

And you let it happen.

That’s right; I’m talking about: “Cuts and cuts back.”

Remember that?

This was the popular practice in grammar school when you were in line with the rest of your classmates, and a friend approached you wanting to be placed into line next to you. Well, you couldn’t just give your pal “cuts.” For that would put an extra person in front of you. The ingenious move would be to:

1. Give your friends “cuts” in front of you.
2. Then quickly cut back in front of your friend.

It was a perfect system. The friend already in line lost no ground, and the pal newly in the line would be way ahead of the rest of the pack.

Who else could fashion such a system but an 8- or 9- or 10-year-old?

For this is the level of consciousness where such behavior belongs.

It’s cute, it’s quaint, and it doesn’t really hurt any people.

The worst case scenario: a bigger and tougher kid towards the back of the line approaches the two little cheaters and pushes them around a bit for their mischief. Maybe, if they’re lucky, someone will see this minor act of breaking law-and-order and make it right. Kick the new kid, and maybe even the other kid, out of the line. That’s if they are lucky, and have the chance to recognize at a young age that there may be another reality to which they aren’t yet attuned.

That reality would be called “other people.”

The immature mind of a child mainly sees only his or her needs. As we grow, we expand to include others, as we broaden our field of reference and awareness of a collective good.

Heck, we’ll forgive the kids in line at school and even ourselves for the minor infraction in the act of “cuts and cuts back.” Young minds are immature because … well, because they are immature.

The adults who carry on such shady shenanigans? Sorry, there will be no excuses.

We won’t allow it. We will cut it off at the pass. No “good ole boys and girls club.” No cronyism. No special treatment. No two tiers justice system where one group or individual is given different treatment because of who they are, or who they know. Everyone will live under the same rule of law – keeping it all fair and square. We’ll call it a "Constitutional Republic," and we’ll fight for it in the name of the free.

And if any fanciful folks do so happen to go to that self-serving, selfish place, they’ll just have to take the consequences, learn the lesson, and then apply the principles of true equality and freedom the next go around.

Oh, and they’ll also have to go to the back of the line.

Right where the Founding Fathers envisioned it. 


James Anthony Ellis can be reached at

Monday, September 14, 2020


(I thought of another prose that could be part of a concept album, touching on the topic of bringing the sacred to our Earthly experiences. Find it in your discount bins at any participating Tower Records.)
On the surface we may suffer, as we ride the wild rides
Falling and scraping our knees, in the playgrounds outside
The fragile frames fight gravity, from the cradle to the grave
The body can be the home of the free and the brave
And yet tragedy can strike it down with one fatal blow
As we push and pull our way along the pathways we go
Disease and viruses can attack, and force decay
And so I pause … and so I pray
Relationships continue the glory of the wicked unknown
Revealing secrets about ourselves even we had not known
There is he and she and then me and we
Pushing us beyond barriers, so we can be who we can be
Discovering new hearts, new eyes, open to see
Uncovering the truths that shall set us free
But first we may walk through darkness, as we fight, separate, betray
And so I pause … and so I pray
Communities, societies, nations hold hushed destinies
Broken systems, politics, prisons, crimes, felonies
A shutdown shuts us up and then shuts us down
Corruption now normal, once hidden underground
Children abused, misused, or even missing out of sight
An empty swing set, squeaks and sways silent in the night
What is our birthright, what do we all deserve
Leveraging leaders forget the masses they are supposed to serve
The power of the people must stand up and have its say
And so I pause … and so I pray
Moving from the outward to the inward in one brief motion
I see where I must first put my energy and devotion
Delusions – a free-for-all for the sickened mind – hold no power
As we evolve … in the end … in the final hour
We hold out for the truth, and we envision the best
The illusions dissolve and die, and are simply laid to rest
I’ve got to get out of my head, out of my own way
And so I do what I must do, even in this passion play
In contemplation and meditation, the chaos and static simply fades away
Because I pause … and because I pray

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Sixth Sense


Spoiler alert: The Sixth Sense voted film with best twist | Film | The  Guardian

I wasn't really looking for a sign or anything.

Just a simple connection.

I knew such a connection could come in various forms. When you are talking about the "other side," there are so many ways to go beyond the veil and connect: meeting up with a loved one in the dream-state, a sensation when a song comes on the radio, an emotion arising from out of nowhere, a communion during a meditation, an actual apparition.

I was looking to make contact with my mom, but no big deal, no big drama. Perhaps just a simple hello.

It was last Wednesday. I was at the dentist. 

And the thought came to me. "Oh hey, where are you Mom?"

You see, once upon a time, when I was a kid, my mother would take me to the dentist. Like any mother would, I imagine. And during those very scary times, with my little body and mind filled with fear, I held solace knowing that she would be near, if even just sitting in the close-by waiting room reading a magazine or looking at the fish. 

Flash forward three years ago - not too long after she had passed away - I was sitting in the dentist chair again. This time as an adult. This time in San Diego. Though I still held a similar anxiety and dread. In fact, this dentist visit was downright scary, as I was having some surgery done. Because I felt the same sort of fear I held as a kid, wouldn't you know it! Out of nowhere, my mind was filled with a childhood memory, and the room was filled with a presence. I recall sitting there as emotion rushed up in me, thinking - no ... knowing - my mother was once again here for a son going through one of those tough times. 

I started to tear up out of love. The dentist asked, "Are you OK; am I hurting you?"

"No, you are not."

That visitation from my mother was so real to me. I really could feel her presence. Some may scoff, think it a figment of my imagination, and that's all right. I know what I know. And I know my mom's energy and her presence. I know it so well, that in other subsequent visits to the dentist, I have thought of her and then asked, "Hey ... where did you go?"

Included in these other visits was the one last Wednesday, which didn't hold the same fear and dread as previous visits. And since I didn't feel my mother's presence, I figured the easy-peazy procedure did not warrant a long-distance trip to some dentist office in San Diego. 

Coincidentally, earlier that day, at breakfast, my wife Jennifer and I were talking about current affairs that included a childhood memory of mine - how my mom used to put my milk money into an envelope, so that I wouldn't lose the two coins in my pocket as I walked to school. Remember milk money? Did you ever have a mom who put your coins into an envelope for you? 

Mine did. And that memory, talked over breakfast, brought back good feelings of loving support. 

On the dentist visit later in the day, the thought of my mother did indeed cross my mind. But nothing too grand. I thought she may have other things going on. I don't know her current schedule; I've no access to an online calendar or anything. Even so, I did float the idea that it would be nice to connect somehow ... you know ... if it works out. 

Upon leaving the dentist office, I thanked the office staff there, grabbed my phone, knelt down to tie my shoe, picked up a random nickle and penny at my feet, put on the headset of my phone and get to my car. After getting home, I recounted the story of my dentist trip.

Not even fully noticing what had happened there, Jennifer had to remind me of our previous conversation - how my mother would place into an envelope my milk money ... a nickle and a penny.

Six cents.  

Not two nickles. Not one penny. But a nickle and a penny. 

Six cents. 

Doesn't sound like much. Not too much to find on the ground. I mean it couldn't even buy some milk nowadays. Not even close. 

But it was nice to find. It was a pleasant memory, a lovely sign from the universe. It was a wonderful connection to rekindle.

 The Six Cents - Patrick M. Kelly's Bulletin Board


Friday, September 11, 2020

It Will Come Upon Our Shore

You've heard the song before. It speaks of the tragedy, darkness and ugliness that happens in a location that is - thankfully - far away from where we stand.

It all happens over there ... over there.

Over there, over there
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming
The Yanks are coming
The drums rum-tumming
So prepare, say a prayer
Send the word, send the word to beware
We'll be over, we're coming over
And we won't come back till it's over
Over there

This was the sentiment, here in the United States back in the early- and mid-20th century, when war took place in far-off lands, in a foreign theater that would not be observed except in newspaper clips, photojournalism, history books, some TV news segments, or war stories. The results we could view in the ticker-tape ribbons streaming down the parade on Broadway in New York, in victory. Or in the PTSD of those returning from the likes of Vietnam, in defeat. 

The most we would see of war came in documentaries on WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam, sit-coms like "MASH," and on the news segments if we could stomach it. Even then, though, it would be taking place on a small rectangular or square flat screen, from which we could turn our gaze and once again be in a family living room. 

Home sweet home. Safe. 

Yes, in 1941 there was that initial shock of being hit at "home," on our own territory's soil, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in the famous day of infamy. Shock-waves ushered us gladly into WWII. However, somehow even with this close-to-home hit, we still knew war, battles, bombs and terror took place ... over there.

It wouldn't be until September 2001 when the real wake-up call would come - on a Tuesday morning, sunny, clear sky.

Suddenly in the flash of a newscast, broadcast time and time again, over and over, we realized it could happen anywhere. It wasn't just "over there" any longer. Terror and war could arrive in our own backyard. It could come upon our shore. It could happen here.

No longer would there be the cinematic image of just dust being kicked up in the desert, or jungle villages being blown up with foreigners running for their lives, sometimes terrorized and naked.

Now it was a large US city - skyscrapers collapsing under the weight of the unknown, and bodies jumping towards their final release. It was here. Or at least nearby.

For those of us not living in New York City or Washington DC or in an empty field in Shanksville, PA, we still may subconsciously and even consciously think to ourselves: well, it didn't happen here. It was over there in another part of our country.

Still not in the backyard. Still not on our shores.

That was until 2020 came along and the terror of radicalized "protestors" decided to take their "protests," campaigns, angst, and hired directives, towards other target cities within our country. Hell, even the small, quiet town of La Mesa, a neighboring city to my own, was the site of rioting, looting and burning. It was right there in my backyard. While visiting my bank in the late afternoon, I was mere feet away from the marching crowds that became, a few hours later after being joined by the mob, menaces designed to destroy and terrorize.

Yes, terror. The terror is here. The terrorists are here.
Innocent people walking down the street being screamed at, being struck from behind, being shot, being killed. Those with a sane mind would have no trouble defining such actions as terror-filled.
Here. Right here. And getting closer. 

And so - if this is the case, what can be done?

Perhaps it all comes down to defining the word we've been using all along in this piece. "Here." If we used to consider horrors happening over there, how would we define this term "here?" 

I would imagine we could determine that "here" would start and end with a border - at Canada to the north, Mexico to the south and some form of ocean to the left and right. I guess that would be the case if you consider yourself an American, with US borders defining you. 

And yet.

What if we expanded ourselves to include other countries, other nations, other continents? What would "here" look like? What if we embraced the entire globe as our own, with its inhabitants not "over there" somewhere, but here ... on the planet on which we stand? 

Now I'm not suggesting we dissolve borders of nations, just as we don't dissolve bodies when drawing healthy boundaries around our persons or homes. 

But if there is an underlying interconnected quality between us all - can we really be left without impact when another nation falls or experiences disaster, drought or devastation? 

Perhaps our salvation will come when we no longer feel safe because trouble is something that takes place far away in some distant land. But rather, our salvation and safety can come from embracing the reality of our unity. 

A tall order. 

But it's the only option that ushers us out of the slumber of separation that would have us go careless in the face of cities and humans left in rubble and trouble. 

We have to create a new paradigm, and live from that heightened state of mind. We are all connected. And everyone counts. When our brothers and sisters are harmed, it can impact the collective humanity, just as when our hand hurts it impacts the human on the whole. 

Someday we may all wake up to this. 

Maybe when it really counts ... when it's really real.

Maybe when it truly comes upon our shore.

James Anthony Ellis is at a lot of the time.