Burbank’s Mayor & Vice-Mayor do the Limbo on North Evergreen Street’s 2017 “National Night Out” © Ashley Erikson

Are We Living Through the Death of Money, Future Human?

What would you do if you woke up one morning and went to the shower but the water didn’t turn on? If you checked your phone and it was dead and black? If the lights were off, refrigerator dark and warm, and your car wouldn’t start?

Where would you turn and what would you do?

That is what would happen — and much more — in case of an EMP attack. Thinking of disaster can focus the mind on what’s genuinely important and valuable.

I’ve been somewhat depressed lately because I’ve been writing about the enclaves of the wealthy.

Billionaire” comes with everything you see pictured, inside and out, including its own theater, “candy wall,” a garage with cars and motorcycles and — the helicopter featured in “Airwolf.” That is what a “spec house” is. Fully-furnished and ready-made.

Here’s the “candy wall.”

“Developer” Makowsky may be somewhat excused for his effort in creating the “experience” that is “Billionaire.” His previous spec mansion launched a bidding war between Jay-Z, Beyonce, and other luminaries, eventually selling to Minecraft creator Markus Persson for $70 million. “Billionaire” is just bigger than its predecessor — it basically has the same crap inside and out except “more of the above.” Apparently the original spec mansion came with cases of Dom Perignon.

So if you owned “Billionaire” and the Russians launched an EMP attack, you could eat all that candy and drink the champagne until it ran out.

No worries! Perfect!

The instinct of some, well-trained and addicted from 40+ years of nonstop promotion of gross consumption, vice, and plutocracy, is to think

If I had that mansion I’d be set in case of an apocalyptic disaster!

You’d have all the entertainment you wanted! Surely dozens of ‘babes’ would be hanging out ready to cavort nude with you all over the glass-fronted structure. You’d have weeks worth of massage oil, plenty of water stored in your 800 gold plated toilet bowls, and of course — candy to eat and champagne to drink after you barbecued the last of the filet mignon, pheasant, and bioengineered woolly mammoth steaks.

Gas grill no fire with no power. Got a match? It’s a mighty hump down the hill to Bel Air Foods for charcoal briquets and even worse going back up.

JEEVES!

Where did Jeeves go? Look at all those little people running around down below. Where’s my GUNS?

I’m sure it will be very effective to hide behind your “babes” when the looters arrive, proud owner of “Billionaire.” They’ll be super impressed when you tell them how rich and important you are.

Maybe you could fly away in your “Airwolf” helicopter.

[it’s non-operable, for ‘show’ only — not to mention — EMP]

I’m sure your neighbor Petra Stunt (Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter) will help! Or maybe Jay-Z and Beyonce! They all have mad outdoor skills like knowing how to skin and dress game [the great human Anthony Bourdain knew] and purify water.

So you don’t die from dysentery ya know —

So once again as is the case in our diseased age, I have spent my time talking about the thin, lifeless, laughable obsessions of soulless brutes.

So photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield has made a multimedia project called Generation Wealth.

“I notice no matter how much people have, they still want more.”

Not all people, Lauren. Only the ones you’ve been photographing, filming, and hanging out with. Mega-rich people are soul-diseased addicts. They’re not going to help anybody else any more than a diehard opioid addict in the final stages of their disease is going to make life better for their family or themselves.

They talk about the 1% but the reality is that 85 people own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population: 3.5 billion people. The math on that is horrifying if all you care about is money.

I am a science fiction writer and a good one.

It doesn’t matter who owns or buys “Billionaire.” It doesn’t matter that the world’s so-called “wealthiest man,” Jeff Bezos, purports to want to spend his insanely huge amount of wealth to benefit others “any day now.”

The people that program the algorithms that run Medium are so conditioned by wealth addiction and the preoccupations of individuals like Bezos, Elon Musk, Larry Ellison, or older billionaires like Carlos Slim Helu that they cannot see what is evident in front of all of our faces.

Rich people don’t matter.

The rest of us do.

A hundred years from now, it is likely that no one living will know anything about Jeff Bezos other than his name, if even that.

Today, no one knows much about Marcus Licinius Crassus — no relation to rich King Croesus. He was ancient Rome’s version of Jeff Bezos.

Do you see even massively-exploitive Thomas Edison on this list? Nikola Tesla? Any of the Roosevelts? The man who invented stainless steel is not on this list. Neither is Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin. Nor is Marie Curie, the first female Nobel Prize winning physicist. On this list are no novelists, no filmmakers, no fashion designers, no teachers. Maria Montessori isn’t on this list. Neither is Gandhi, nor Tolstoy.

I truly believe that the problem today, the cultural and moral rot, is that the wealthy have sold their excuses for addiction to too many for too long. They force their tastes and interests on others. Their shallow materialism has chipped away at the real things which give our brief lives meaning and value. The scales have tipped too far in the direction of tissue-thin amoral greed and vice.

I don’t care if that Minecraft guy spends every single day hiring prostitutes to dance the Macarena, gobbling Raisinets, and speeding around Bel Air on the tricked-out Harley that came with his spec mansion.

It’s no more my business than it is his business what I do.

I, like billions of others, choose a healthier way. Healthier for myself personally, healthier for our planet, and healthier for our children and future.

For weeks, I have been writing sometimes sickening, soul-killing profiles of wealthy enclaves, from developments near me along the coast where mini-mansions go for $10 million and up to gated Malibu estates on “Billionaire’s Beach.” There are many Billionaire beaches, rows, and streets in the world.

It all crystallized this morning when I wrote a profile of a very different place.

North Evergreen Street in of all places, “Beautiful Downtown Burbank.”

The homes on this street are slightly above Southern California’s insanely inflated home prices but they are really down-to-earth, “normal” single-family residences. It isn’t the homes that make this neighborhood extraordinary.

It’s the people.

No amount of money can buy the reason North Evergreen Street was chosen by Reader’s Digest as one of the ten “Nicest Places to Live” in America.

My classrooms are not filled with mean-spirited Game of Thrones fans whose dreams consist of throat-cutting weddings or rapes of 10-year-olds. They aren’t filled with young people who aspire to live like “The Queen of Versailles” or her husband, timeshare ‘billionaire’ David Siegel.

Over the past ten years, I have seen the number of students who say they want to be “rich” or “famous” decline to less than one out of ten.

When class ended this past semester, a gorgeous young woman and her boyfriend came up. She was shy, insisting I wouldn’t be interested. He held her phone up to me.

“She didn’t think she could write a poem but she was inspired by our class this semester.”

And the poem was magnificent.

I don’t think it’s a yearning for past days, nor is the solution to be found in the past except in an understanding and reckoning of all that is good that has come before.

The solution is in our DNA, in our bodies themselves, which is why I feel somewhat at peace despite the unrest, misery, and unhappiness the great majority of us endure.

We do not have 7.6 billions so all can work to make places like “Billionaire” or fuel lifestyles like that pursued by Jeff Bezos.

We have 7.6 billion because there is so much more ahead of humanity.

I think we are living in and among not the death of humankind but the death of money. It is among, if not the greatest of destructive addictions.

Money can’t buy what they have in that wonderful neighborhood in Burbank. Money can’t buy love, it can only buy someone’s time. Money is just a lie.

Maybe this is the time travel we truly need. We need to take back our time from the billionaires. And even more, we can’t let them take our immortal souls.

I didn’t think of this first: Tolstoy did.

We are 7.6 billion. We are the many. They are the few.

We should all know the words of Spock by now. And for the record, Spock wasn’t referring to desires for non-essentials like money or power. He was referring to giving up his life for others because he cared more about them than he did himself.

The richness of our lives lies in human connection and the moments we live. Not money.

Please: enjoy your candy wall. Play some foosball. Watch TV with your boughten friends over the edge of your infinity pool. Have sex in your glass walled house. You have really made it billionaire. You’re on top of the world.

According to Harlan Ellison and my grandmother, “You’ll go far Amy, because you have heart.” Author of 40 books, former exec., Nebula Award nominee, Poor.

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