Monthly Archives: July 2009

I feel the chill wind of cheapness, how about you?

Before you ask, no. I didn’t give in to temptation.  

And thanks to all those lovely people who wrote to me in various forms, supporting and encouraging me not to break my diet and eat the free cake being given away at Starbucks yesterday.You should be very proud of me for not lapsing.

starbucksI mean, I went to Starbucks, of course. How could I not? It was Free Cake Day, an occasion always worth celebrating. But I didn’t take part in the festivities. I just bought a bottle of water and sat there like a doofus on the sidelines, drinking it while I did some writing, the way I sometimes do.

But that was it.

That said, you know what’s odd? Not only was I not eating free cake, but nobody was.

I’ll pause for gasps.

Starbucks was empty and the cabinet  jam-packed with unsold cake. The staff looked quite depressed, I thought. Though not as depressed as the cake. It was like visiting an animal shelter. And as you know, I’m all heart. I wanted to gather up the stray and abandoned muffins and sad-looking croissants from the cabinet and put them in a place where they’d be safe and feel loved. My stomach was the first place that came to mind.   

There can only be two reasons for what I gather was a failed PR campaign.

a) Either promoting your special offer on Facebook doesn’t work, which is entirely possible. And something I can vouch for, actually. I put another couple of books up for auction on eBay the other day. No fuss. I didn’t promote the fact. I just mentioned it half-heartedly in passing on Facebook. And guess what! There’s been only one bid. ONE! I’m heartbroken. I’ll never do that again. Facebook as a promotional tool is dead to me. It’s rubbish. Tell your friends.   

Alternatively, b) the economy is so bad, and people such utter cheapskates, that, while they wanted free cake – of course, because cake is a staple, right? Nobody says no to cake – they didn’t want to pay for the coffee that went with it. Presumably these are the same folks who arrive at Disneyland eager to go on the rides, but who refuse to pay to get in. Or who see that a great book is up for auction on eBay and don’t bid for it. Bastards.

Anyway, Free Cake Day – which, fingers crossed, will happen annually and perhaps be made into a national holiday – came and went without incident. 

That means I’m still on the raw food diet, and feeling better than ever. Results after sixteen days are amazing: tons more energy, great skin, increased mental acuity (listeners to the BBC show last night will not have noticed this, sadly, since I was all over the place and appeared not to be able to concentrate on one thing for even two seconds), a few detox symptoms, but not many, and a tingly sensation in my legs, which may or may not be the onset of shingles.

Next challenge: an Italian restaurant Friday night with friends. There is nothing raw on the menu. NOTHING. Even the salads have cooked or processed stuff in them. Which means I may be faced with the ignominy and embarrassment of taking a packed lunch with me and nibbling at it while everyone else eats. Oh dear.   

In short, though: hurray for me. Only 84 days to go.

www.cashpeters.com

Buy Cash’s travel book, Naked in Dangerous Places,  HERE.

Watch Cash’s movie, Fast and Very Loose HERE.

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The Downfall of Mankind, Part 1: Free Cake.

starbucksSo here we are, then. The 21st has arrived. Free Cake Day at Starbucks. Every customer who buys a coffee before 10.30am is given a free cake.

Right now it’s 8.42am.

But I’m on a 100% raw food diet, which excludes cake in all its wondrous, tantalizing, artery-blocking forms. (Read previous post: HERE)

Yet, to play Devil’s advocate for a moment, the cake is free. Which surely renders void any diet currently under way.

Stabucks storePlus, God wouldn’t have inspired Starbucks to have a Free Cake Day if  we weren’t meant to take advantage of it, would he? After all, he’s a deity, not a diety. To turn your back on a free offer of this magnitude would be like looking a cake horse in mouth.

Or then again, maybe it’s a test. A test of my resolve. Of my commitment to cleansing my body of all past cakes.

8.47am.

The nearest Starbucks is ten minutes’ drive away. If I don’t move soon, then all the cake will be gone….

www.cashpeters.com

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A deluded underdog rises once more.

Weirdest thing. Over the weekend, somewhat inexplicably, my new travel book Naked in Dangerous Places got the wind behind it and began racing up the Amazon charts.

That’s an incredible development. For me it is, anyway. For you, probably less so.

But what’s even more incredi – oh, and by the way, thank you to all thoseGT people who bought it; you won’t be disappointed – but what’s even more incredible is that my previous travel book, Gullible’s Travels, the Adventures of a Bad Taste Tourist, did even better. For a while there, GT was fair rocketing along, picking up sales at every turn.

I was flabbergasted. And even now I have no idea what caused this outpouring of desire to own my work, I’m just glad it happened.

Publishers of course, have a real downer on Amazon. They’ll tell you, scornfully – and I’ve been told this many times – that the Amazon ranking is meaningless. That the company gives no rational accounting of how book sales are tallied, therefore it all seems pretty much random and can’t be trusted. That’s the corporate line.

naked book 2Well, fair enough. But if both your books – both – having languished a little of late in the low numbers (which I guess, by that token, means nothing either) suddenly take off like Derby thoroughbreds and careen up the chart past hundreds of thousands of competing works, then, call me deluded, but to me that says people are buying them.

One book without the other could be a freak happening. Together, though? Come on, publishers – who are you kidding?

Alas, by Sunday, the ranking had dipped, indicating that the feeding frenzy was over (or that sales were still fierce and the Amazon ranking really is meaningless). Still, a few more weekends like that and, who knows, I might even be tempted to write a third one!

Incidentally, remember a couple of weeks ago when I put three signed copies of Naked on Ebay? They were, I’m delighted to say, snapped up right away. But then afterwards I got complaints from people who either didn’t know about the auction or were outbid, saying they were really disappointed, and that won’t do.

So I’ve put two more books up there. (HERE and HERE)

If they sell, they sell; if they don’t, they don’t. But at least you have a chance to purchase a copy of what I guarantee is a very funny book, while also knowing that, unlike every other Naked book out there, this one will be dedicated specifically to you. I mean, that’s got to be worth something, right?

 www.cashpeters.com.

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Free cake? Now???? Damn you, Starbucks.

Oh crap, what am I going to do?

Starbucks has just gone and made July 21st “Free pastry day.”

Visit one of their branches before 10.30 am, buy a coffee, and they promise to give you a free muffin, slice of pound cake, doughnut, apple fritter, or “gluten free orange valencia cake.”

Now, you don’t know me, so you’ll have to take it on trust when I say that this presents me with a mad-crazy-impossible dilemma. 

Because of course I’m still on my 100 day challenge.

100 days of eating nothing but 100% raw food. And that includes my favorite thing in the world – cake. All cake. Cake, in the context of the diet, being interpreted very broadly indeed. It’s basically an umbrella term covering the entire spectrum of cakes, tarts, and pastries, including, but by no means confined to muffins, pound cakes, doughnuts, apple fritters, and even, and especially, “gluten free orange valencia cakes” – whatever the hell that is; it sounds disgusting. Still, I’d eat it. It’s free.  

My God, what’s a guy to do?

I can’t touch cake, period. That’s just the way it is. No exceptions.

And yet…

I mean, the cake is free, after all. And something tells me that whoever devised the 100 day raw food challenge never saw that one coming. They didn’t envisage bloody Starbucks having a special promotion and giving away free stuff halfway through, did they? Who could?

Ooooh, here’s an idea. I guess I could go in on the 21st, buy a coffee, throw the coffee away – that’s not allowed on the diet either – get my free cake, then bring it home and keep it in the freezer until October 12th, when the 100 days is up. That’s one solution.

But it might also be a waste. What if I pass the 100 day mark and my body is in a whole new phase of inner cleanliness by then and doesn’t want cake any more? Unthinkable, I know, but it’s possible. Not only will I have apple-frittered away a whole bunch of valuable time driving all the way to Starbucks early in the morning, but, and more importantly, I’ll have wasted a pastry. One of God’s greatest inventions.  

This is torture.

Right now I have no solution to the problem. But I have until Tuesday to come up with a plan. That’s way too much time, of course, and I know I won’t get a wink of sleep tonight, thinking about what to do.

Damn you, Starbucks.

www.cashpeters.com.

Check out the promo video for Cash’s new book HERE.

Then buy a signed copy HERE. Or HERE.

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Those pesky women of color. What next – equality?

It’s Casual Friday here on the Swami. To celebrate, I’m writing this naked. Go feast on that!

My head’s still spinning from last night’s historic on-screen bust-up between BuchananRachel Maddow and Pat Buchanan on MSNBC, over Sotomayor’s about-to-happen appointment to the Supreme Court bench, which Buchanan thinks is a disgrace. A disgrace, I tell you.

Why? Well, because Sotomayor’s not a white man, for a start, and only white men are fit to decide what’s right and wrong in this country, everyone knows that. And how do we know? Because, of 110 Supreme Court justices so far, 108 have been white men, a fact Buchanan is proud of and wants to keep that way, thank you very much.

Which is why he’s angry. Angry at the Obama Administration for:

  •  refusing to stand by historical precedent, a precedent of active discrimination against pesky women, especially pesky women of color;
  • for breaking up a revered Old Boys’ Club; and, worst of all:
  • for promoting Sonia Sotomayor, a Latina with more experience on the bench than any previous appointee, male or female, to the highest judicial position in the land.  I mean, good grief, what were they thinking?

“White men were 100% of the people that wrote the Constitution,” Buchanan bleated in his bizarrely high-pitched drone, “100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks, who were 90% of the nation in 1960 when I was growing up and the other 10% were African-Americans who had been discriminated against. That’s why.”

He is further outraged because he sees Sotomayor’s appointment as unashamedly shoe-horning diversity into an institution that didn’t need it, simply to have her there. It’s affirmative action in action. Mixing things up just for the sake of it. An abomination.

Well, needless to say, Maddow came the closest I have ever seen her to combusting on screen, which is why it’s riveting television.

The video is HERE, so you can watch it for yourself. 

Obviously, Buchanan’s point of view is archaic, creaky, and embarrassing. Although it’s laudable, I think, that he had the nerve to speak the unspeakable.

In Britain, he’d have been branded an insane, racist hack and given very little air-time to make his point. Here in America, however, even those with fringe, incendiary, or lunatic viewpoints are allowed to grandstand for a little while, provided it keeps the ratings bubbling along nicely. And the Maddow-Buchanan argument certainly did that, I’m sure.

What’s interesting to me, though, is that there were times when I found myself siding with Buchanan, something even I find hard to believe, since I disagree with him on almost everything. Generally speaking, the second he opens his mouth on any topic he offends me.

Nevertheless, last night I could see his point.  Just a little.

A policy of levering people of different races into various positions simply on the basis of the color of their skin is as wrong and indefensible as excluding them for the same reason. People should rise to the top on merit, and be afforded the opportunity to do so, because they’re the best at what they do, not allowed to kangaroo hop over everyone else for reasons of variety, or, conversely, dragged down and pushed out of sight because they’d spoil the status quo.  

I left Britain twelve years ago, just as Tony Blair was getting his feet under the desk at 10, Downing Street. Other than very briefly, I have not been back since, so all I know about the place is what others tell me.

But what others tell me isn’t good. Not at all.  

Every one of my friends wishes they could leave too. They cite Blair’s policy of affirmative action and the European policy of zero border controls as the reason. As a result, apparently, Britain is now flooded with immigrants from all over the world. A tiny country is drowning in a sea of foreigners who have brought not merely diversity – which in these enlightened times was the plan: cosmopolitan is best; even an island can’t stay insular forever – but a debasing of the very society the immigrants sought to join. 

In the process of allowing almost anyone to settle within its shores, the UK lost its identity, or so goes the argument. Britain isn’t Britain any more.

Instead of integrating, learning the culture, and accepting standards, principles, and traditions built up over a rich history dating back dozens of centuries – the very elements that made Britain Britain – the immigrants stuck with their own. They brought their culture and traditions with them and set up camp, making their own little world within the British world, living as part of but separate.

I hear this time and time again. “Britain isn’t Britain any more.” And the British – what would be in Pat Buchanan’s terms the real British – feel they’ve lost control of their destiny, that it’s been hijacked.   

Next year I’ll be returning for the first time in a decade, when Naked in Dangerous Places is published there, so I guess I’ll find out for myself how much of this is true, or if my friends are hysterically exaggerating, which quite honestly is not beyond them.

All the same, it was against that backdrop that I watched the Maddow-Buchanan slap-down last night and was able, at least in theory, to see where Buchanan was coming from. To him, the heresy that is affirmative action meant overturning a noble institution that had functioned perfectly well all these years without being updated, destablizing it with random diversity. A dangerous policy.

As long as white males are in charge, he believes, the country will be stable, sturdy, solid, and….well, America. But give too much leeway to minorities, let them subvert the old ways, and America won’t be America any more.

Broadly speaking, that’s goofy nonsense, and Maddow was right to shoot it out of the skies.

Having said that, though….I get it. I know what he means. 

Or, rather, I empathize with his fear. He doesn’t want to see happen to the great US of A what has allegedly happened to Great Britain. He doesn’t want, in other words, America to lose its greatness or its identity on the road to doing the right thing and seeming progressive and open. Because, as we all know, some of the biggest mistakes have been made with the best intentions.

Hm.

www.cashpeters.com

Read Cash’s new book: Naked in Dangerous Places.

Watch Cash’s little movie, Fast and Very Loose.

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Paul McCartney 1, Michael Jackson 0.

Am I the only one to spot the bitter irony of Paul McCartney performing live on the Letterman show last night, mere days after the memorial service to Michael Jackson?

McCartney’s 67. Jackson was 50. 

McCartney looks to be in good health. Jackson was a closeted gay, anorexic, lying, conniving drug addict.

McCartneyIt’s one of McCartney’s oft-told stories: how Michael Jackson paid a bundle to acquire the rights to Northern Songs, publisher of all the Beatles’ hits, snatching them from right under McCartney’s nose. But when an incredulous McCartney, who’d wanted the catalogue for himself – natch – raised the matter, Jackson’s reply was nothing short of creepy and callous, delivered with high-pitched, silken defiance: “Hey, Paul, it’s just business.” 

Bye, click, gone.

Despite claiming to want peace and happiness throughout the world, or whatever else he thought his image would benefit from, when this little simple test of his humanity came up, Michael Jackson failed it big-time.  Since the day I heard that, I never really liked him.

And now he’s dead. So what was such chicanery worth anyway?

I often think about stuff like that. You hear of businessmen who are forever taking the low road, screwing people over, cheating the system, making a fast buck at someone else’s expense – investing their entire life, in other words, in things that don’t matter: making huge bonuses, buying massive twin_towershouses, acquiring status symbols and possessions and homes and trinkets by the truckload. Then, one day, they’re killed in a car accident or a helicopter crash, or they get sick and pass away unexpectedly from cancer, or the tower they work in is hit by a passenger jet and they’re crushed by flaming rubble.

What use then the big house and the trinkets, hn? All the power and wealth on Wall Street didn’t make them even the tiniest bit invinicible. When it came down to it, they were as mortal and as vulnerable as the rest of us, they just wasted the opportunity to show it.   

The older I get, the more my bigger, less practical dreams slip away and I find myself craving ordinary things. Simplicity. Honesty. Friendship. Straightforwardness. Trust. Sound sleep. An easy conscience. Comfortable conversations with stimulating, untroubled people. And so on.

Yet this isn’t about age per se, it’s about a subtle realization that comes knocking once you’ve acquired a certain amount of maturity: that, as per the life_never_struggletitle of the Stuart Wilde book, Life was never meant to be a struggle. That the philosophers and authors and songwriters and, god forbid, even the Bible, were right: in the end it is all about loving one another and doing the right thing. Treating people the way you’d like them to treat you. Making peace with yourself and the world around you. Life, boiled down to basics, is really quite uncomplicated. Only our egos would have us believe otherwise.

McCartney himself has always espoused these simple values, at least publicly, and I like that about him more than I like his music. And guess what, he’s still alive and performing. In fact, as I watched him thrash out a surprisingly authentic version of Get Back at the Ed Sullivan Theater last night, I did feel a certain amount of vindication on his behalf. That the good guy – the peace and love and heal the world guy – had won after all. While the trickster, the fool, the lost soul – who sang about healing the world on a grand scale but clearly didn’t realize that he should begin by healing himself first – didn’t. There’s something distinctly satisfying about that.

TV Swami – he feeling melancholy and wondering if it’s the raw food diet. He crave chocolate cake.  

 www.cashpeters.com.

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The vultures are circling again.

Ever seen a show called Bridezillas? Here in the U.S. it’s on the increasingly popular WE network, “The Network for Women.” Or, more specifically, “the network for women who’ll happily watch hours and hours of ancient reruns and bland, substandard crap without complaining.”

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Last night on the BBC we were discussing Bridezillas and I played clips.

It’s a reality show – an “unforgettable” one, apparently – about highly-strung and difficult brides-to-be and the men who, contrary to all the laws of common sense, are prepared to marry, and presumably later on, divorce them.

From what I hear, the series has become quite a phenomenon in the world of low-grade trashy entertainment, running for six seasons and attracting a massive 2.5 million viewers, even becoming the foundation for WE’s TV offshoot, The Wedding Channel, a new network devoted to everything marriage.  Ooh, just what we need.

The reason I bring this up is because the production company behind Bridezillas came sniffing around my heels recently, asking if I wanted to do more TV. Nothing official, just a quick email, a casual inquiry.

I almost took the bait too.

My lovely little travel show, Stranded with Cash Peters (someone has kindly uploaded a short clip of the Cambodia episode here) aired three years ago, which is a long time to be away from the public eye. And although it wasn’t a major hit, the people who did watch it loved it to bits. Not a week goes by when fans don’t write and ask what happened to it, when it’s going to be rerun, why episodes aren’t available on iTunes. (The answers are to be found in my new book, Naked in Dangerous Places).

Furthermore, it’s tempting, when you’ve been in TV for a while but aren’t currently, to feel immediately flattered by the attention of producers and eagerly grab anything you’re offered, just to be center stage again.

Yet I dither.

First, I am more than happy right now writing books (the new novel is a little firecracker; you’re going to love it, I promise), and hardly yearning for another stressful adventure any time soon.

Second of all, making Stranded put me in hospital three times and left me permanently scarred in all kinds of emotional and psychological ways, thanks largely to certain people at the production company, who were monsters.

And lastly, quality shows cost money to make. That’s why there’s so much abysmal trash on our screens right now and why viewers of any intelligence are being driven to abandon the box by the million each year and find something more entertaining to do with their time.

There are only limited amounts of talent and money to go around, that’s the problem, and these days a lot of non-talent and miniscule budgets are being funneled into shows targeting the Dimwit Demographic: undiscerning, uneducated, unthinking, unmotivated, undemanding, unconscionably low-octane minds; minds that find Spencer and Heidi Pratt (nee Montag) or Ant and Dec intriguing, who’ll watch any show that Ryan Seacrest is in or executive produces, and who believe that Transformers is high art.  High schools nowadays are basically factories mass-producing these kinds of people in their millions.

In other words, minds that can’t tell the difference between good and bad, quality and trash, or subtle hues and bright, gaudy colors. They don’t need expensive programming, extraordinary stories, good writing, hosts with personalities, material that challenges the intellect or raises the bar emotionally; it’s all a wash to them. Basically, if a series doesn’t have these basic elements: lots of noise, bright colors, people shouting, and dinosaurs – well, screw it, they’re grabbing the remote and returning to Bridezillas, which has all four in spades.

So there we are.  I’m not expecting to hear from the producer guy again, especially after I told him yesterday that, if I did succumb and do more TV, I’d prefer to make a quality travel show, a holistic health show, or a combination of both. That’s usually enough to send TV people running from the room with their hands over their ears, yelling, “Quality television – noooooooo! Aaaaaaaaaghghghgh!!!!”

Well, so be it. Until all the stars align in an appealing way, I’m in no rush. And if they never align again, that’s fine too.

I have a health book coming out in the fall, I’m mapping out a sequel to the novel (did I mention that it’s a real firecracker?), and I have to travel to Britain and Australia soon to promote Naked in Dangerous Places when it’s published there. So all in all, I’m doing okay.

Fame and celebrity can wait a little longer.

TV Swami – he say NO to Bridezillas.

www.cashpeters.com

Watch Cash’s little movie HERE.

Buy Cash’s breath-catchingly funny travel book here.

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