I began life born in south London surrounded by the cockney accent, one of the most recognizable accents in the world. Next, my parents took me to Cape Town in South Africa where, for the most part, I learned to speak.
My base accent, therefore, is South African. But by now it's layered over with various accents from various countries in which I've stayed long enough to accumulate an accent. It's a blend of South African, British, French, Kiwi ie New Zealand, Aussie ie Australian. It certainly has a lot of Californian pronunciations with traces of Fijian thrown in to the final mix. Its origins, while intriguing to people, are not immediately recognizable, and the original cockney is totally bleached out.
Given my accent, I'm often asked "Where are you from?", and I often counter-ask "Do you mean where was I born? or do you mean where did I grow up? or do you mean where did I immigrate from?" (the answers are London England, Cape Town South Africa, Nadi - pronounced Nandee - Fiji).
That's how I've learned almost everyone who asks me "Where are you from?" really wants to know where I grew up. So I tell them I grew up in Cape Town South Africa. And that's true - interimly. But ultimately I grew up - in the Zen sense of the words - in a house on Franklin Street in San Francisco. Really.
In place of introverted modesty here, there's full blown Self expression. And that's just the Franklin House itself I'm talking about - we'll get to its people in a moment. A large Douglas Fir is transformed into an extraordinary Christmas tree. It's lit to the point of not merely twinkling like a traditional Christmas tree. Rather, it emits dazzling white light. Even more remarkable is its main set of decorations aren't traditional glass orbs. They're Japanese Geisha fans. They're not merely hanging decoratively on the tree, splayed wide open, symbolically representing Christmas like ordinary ornaments. They're fanning the Spirit of Christmas from dying embers into a roaring blazing empassioned fire.
Outside the main upstairs suite window, three single lights in formation are clearly visible from Franklin Street below. This audacious display evokes the three wise men, Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior, the magi arriving to celebrate the first Christmas. It's brilliant. It's evocative. It's bound to be controversial. But then again, Werner Erhard's not exactly known for meekly kowtowing to the status quo. If anyone else did it, it would reek of false bravado and inauthenticity. But when Werner does it, amazingly it raises the consciousness of everyone and anyone fortunate enough to be in the vicinity of the experience. If anyone else did it, it would be a self aggrandizing boast. But when Werner does it, it's a breakthrough for humanity, amazingly it's a new possibility of being for human being. And even after the amazement wears off, what you're left with is its obviousness. You're left with "Why didn't I think of it myself?".
A staff meeting is in progress. A complicated, complex set of plans is set in motion for activities which will occur in the Franklin House over the next few days. Everyone gets to input what's wanted, what's needed, and in what sequence things must happen to expedite these impossible plans, these sheer grandiose conjectures that you have to be so far out there on the edge to even give them the tiniest chance of succeeding.
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