"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons"
~ T.S. Eliot
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Such a Kind Face!

Well, y'all, America went and did it. 

We've elected Donald Trump, a rich old lecherous crook, a pathological liar who has been defendant in about 1500 civil lawsuits, accused by multiple women of sexual assault, and who faces the charge of having raped a 13-year-old girl. He claims to have "had" more beautiful women than any man who has ever lived and has 5 children by the three beautiful women he married. Of these three, he has abused, betrayed, and divorced two so far. 

We have a president-elect who is a demagogue, a megalomaniac, and a narcissist I believe to be certifiably insane with delusions of grandeur. This man who calls himself a Christian would flush down the toilet the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment by making Islam an illegal religion inside our borders. He has a thing about borders, wants to build a great one, and told the world the the people beyond our southern border are rapists, murders, all manner of criminals. Yet he has no respect for Ukrainian borders and would gleefully award that sovereign state to Vladimir Putin, with whom he has shady ties, as Putin own private playground.

It's not just Latinos that the future President Trump hates. In 1973, after a long investigation, the United States Department of Justice sued Donald J. Trump, president of Trump Management, for illegal discrimination against Blacks in his residential rental business. He now happily attracts the favor and endorsement of white supremacists and white nationalists, the KKK, anti-Semitic groups, bigots of all stripes and patterns. 

There's even more, but I'm sure you recognize him from the drawing I offer and that you really do not need me to add color and paint. Our president-elect says that he has never had reason to ask for forgiveness, not from any person, not even from any god. He seems to be his own god.

America, what the hell have y'all done?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Did He say "Whatever we do for those LEAST in need?"

What a shameful situation to jump out at me from the New York Times  upon my waking. But I forced myself to read, to study every photo, the faces of the homeless old, a rapidly growing problem.

Look at the gizzled and graying men waiting in line. Health issues, including and especially mental health, the jobs lost post-2008 at an age that cruelly leaves a worker unemployable, turning him or her into a pariah.

But we can’t approach meeting the needs of the very people my inspiration spoke of: the least of these, not less in value, but it resources, in circumstances, in luck, in health, in family emotional support not to mention financial…We can’t love and feed and clothe and shelter and give meaningful work because WE HAVE TO CUT TAXES ON THE WEALTHY, THE FATTEST PIGS, DECADE AFTER DECADE FOR ALMOST 40 YEARS. 

We have a populace, being brought to bloom by Trump, that is  good at one thing only, well two, things: hate and greed. I don't want to see what it reaches full bloom.

The Hall of Shame in America is full to overflowing. And they cannot see that to treat our own and the very air we breathe with such contempt is truly national suicide.

It it really our time to fall on our swords? Or can we redeem ourselves? Of course, redemption survives Hellish conditions, still standing, still offering itself to those who will wake up and see the need.

But I don't think we will.

New York Times, May 31, 2016 (click here)

LOS ANGELES — They lean unsteadily on canes and walkers, or roll along the sidewalks of Skid Row here in beat-up wheelchairs, past soiled sleeping bags, swaying tents and piles of garbage. They wander the streets in tattered winter coats, even in the warmth of spring. They worry about the illnesses of age and how they will approach death without the help of children who long ago drifted from their lives.
“It’s hard when you get older,” said Ken Sylvas, 65, who has struggled with alcoholism and has not worked since he was fired in 2001 from a meatpacking job. “I’m in this wheelchair. I had a seizure and was in a convalescent home for two months. I just ride the bus back and forth all night.”
The homeless in America are getting old.
There were 306,000 people over 50 living on the streets in 2014, the most recent data available, a 20 percent jump since 2007, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They now make up 31 percent of the nation’s homeless population.
The demographic shift is mirrored by a noticeable but not as sharp increase among homeless people ages 18 to 30, many who entered the job market during the Great Recession. They make up 24 percent of the homeless population. Like the baby boomers, these young people came of age during an economic downturn, confronting a tight housing and job market. Many of them are former foster children or runaways, or were victims of abuse at home.  (Read more...)

Los Angeles

A 74-year-old man who lives in a tent

Food line, L.A.

Friday, April 22, 2016

PRINCE Rogers Nelson

"Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!" (Hamlet Act 5 Scene 2)

Prince Rogers Nelson has joined the mass movement among our icons to leave us this year.

Price passed away Thursday morning, April 21, 2016. He was only 57, and there is no irony in "only."
This time we have lost a 7-time Grammy winner, a unique person born with a unique talent over which he labored until it was unworldly.
On everything, he wrote it, he performed it, he produced it. All of it. He was a complete musical world unto himself.

And he was perhaps the most beautiful man whose eyes I have ever looked into. Even through paper or cyberspace, the power of his beauty to knock me down and breathless was overwhelming.

"Purple Rain" from 1985 is  the song that was for most people their introduction to Prince although he began performing and recording long before, releasing his first album in 1978. Below in the video of Prince performing this emblematic song "Purple Rain" in a downpour of ordinary rain, though to me no rain is ordinary, at the Super Bowl in 2007. About working in the rain, Prince just said he wished that it had rained harder.

Standing next to Dhani Harrison, George's son, whom you'd recognize anywhere, is Prince during this tribute to George Harrison that took place when he himself was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Prince has a guitar solo begins around 3:18 and goes to over 6-minute end.  That's a three-minute solo. And this is what is called A MOMENT.

If there should be any skeptic out there, Prince in this solo, should wipe you out like "Out! Damn spot! Out I say!" (The Bard's Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 1). The red hat allows you to step off the stairway, right into Heaven.

And then there is this above. "Motherless Child." Paul Robeson sang it. Mahalia Jackson sang it. Odetta sang it. And in 1999, when he was 41, Prince sang it. This performance demonstrates that he belongs in the company of the greats.

There is no way to comprehend how much genius, talent, gift this man who was truly beautiful has taken with him. I'm not even sure we can comprehend all the work he left, so much about to be discovered.

Prince, you have no idea how grieved and shocked we are, the loss we feel. I don't think we have any idea yet either.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015


The Shirtless Horseman

Vladimir Putin sings "Blueberry Hill" in English at a children's cancer charity event in St. Petersburg in mid-December, 2010, according to ABC News, CBS News, NPR and just about everybody, but I missed it for a few days shy of 5 years.

Hi, Goldie and Kurt. Hi, Sharon. Nice peace sign, girl. Hey there, Kevin. Did you build this, 'cause people really did come? Hi, Mickey.

Wassup guys?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Here Comes the GOP Pride Parade!

A few important facts:

The right is having a moment of moral pride.

Some blame France for the attacks on Paris for its having allowed Syrian refugees into France in the first place and for EVER having had an open border.

Some blame the persons of the refugees themselves, forgetting or ignorant of the obvious truth tweeted by Dan Holloway: "To people blaming refugees for attacks in Paris tonight. Do you not realise these are the people the refugees are trying to run away from..?"

Some have been really sarcastic I-told-you-so-a-holes, like Rep. Jeff Duncan, of South Carolina, who said, “How’s that Syrian refugee resettlement look now? How about that mass migration into Europe?" Can't you just feel the memory bounce around in your brain of Sarah Palin's pre-mature gloat: "How's that hopey changey thing workin' out for you?"

Some have pounced upon the tragedy of the deaths or real human beings, people in France who loved their moms and dads, their kids, their pets, and were among those having a clearer recognition of the good and beautiful and a greater knowledge of how to create it than anywhere on earth. Republicans have appropriated this horror to use as ammunition in a PRO-GUN, MORE-GUNS America. The Donald tweeted "Isn't it interesting that the tragedy in Paris took place in one of the toughest gun control places in the world?" And Newt tweeted on Friday, "Imagine a theater with 10 or 15 citizens with concealed carry permits. We live in an age when evil men have to be killed by good people."

All this is prologue. The real business is about keeping refugees OUT of AMERICA. Forget the words on the Statue of Liberty. Anyway, who gave us that thing? FRANCE! Probably wanting to lay down a predicate when they might need our friendship and support. Don't laugh. These things happen. Don't forget how Stanley Ann Dunham Obama had a baby boy in Kenya, yet got the Honolulu newspapers to print his birth notice as an Hawaiian birth, stuck it in there with all the other local birth announcements, and she got the state of Hawaii, only in its second year as a state, to issue an Hawaiian birth certificate for that baby. She was laying down the predicate of citizenship because she knew that her little Kenyan boy would grow up to be President of the United States, but only if she did her part.

And you think violent terrorists are bad people. Hey, so do I. So what do you suggest we do with this embarrassing steaming pile someone's off-leash Rottweiler left at your front door - I refer to the Mississippi man, no, person, no, entity, entity will have to do - this Mississippi entity who bombed a Walmart to protest that business's no longer selling the flag of a country that fought against the United States, a government built by traitors to the United States, that sacrificed the lives of hundreds of thousands of young men to hold up an economy that was totally dependent on slave labor and on the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of slave lives?

More Pride in Mississippi!
(please click)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pope Francis! Why?

It dropped so low -- in my Regard --
I heard it hit the Ground --
And go to pieces on the Stones
At bottom of my Mind --

Yet blamed the Fate that flung it -- less
Than I denounced Myself,
For entertaining Plated Wares
Upon My Silver Shelf -- 

The Pope knew he'd need to sneak around like a cheating lover in order to meet with KIM DAVIS. His spokesman said that Francis "thought it best not to detract" from his broader message and he didn't want to overwhelmed by questions about Kim Davis. See!! He knew he shouldn't do it, but he did it anyway, grabbing that clandestine moment to offer encouragement a most unChrist-like creature.

DETRACT? Dear Pope Francis, you have done way more that DETRACT from the message of Christ that you came to bring us, you know - that message that Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, and even atheist can follow to find an inner peace like no other. This peace comes from totally accepting, believing, WELCOMING the fact the you are responsible for each and every human being and for the earth we all live in. 

But you have NEGATED that. We are divided again. Believers vs. atheist. Rainbow vs. Rainbow Haters. Christian vs. Jew. Protestant vs. Catholic. Muslim vs. Infidel. Baptist (immersion) from sensible people who sprinkle. 

My God, can you imagine what life would be like, what the health of the planet would be like if more and more of us accepted this responsibility? We could be be for any religion or no religion, but we would work together to bring about that "Peace on Earth" that is at this point all talk and no action only at Christmas time.

But unlike Emily Dickinson, I sit here in the quiet and I DO denounce myself.
After all, the Pope is NOT Christ. He is a human being just like me, just like Kim Davis,
one who has made mistakes. I'm trying so hard.

But oh my. How I wish he had not done this. Or even that I just never knew.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

First Pete, then Doc, now Jean.

Jean Ritchie with her dulcimer and her beautiful red hair

I loved Jean Ritchie. I "discovered" her and her mountain dulcimer in the seventies. Just as Pete Seeger inspired me to purchase a guitar, Jean Ritchie inspired me to make a dulcimer my own. You do not have to go through the bloody finger stage with the dulcimer because the strings are pressed with a "noter," for which some true Appalachians used many things, even a clothes pin. Usually, one string plays the same note, called a "drone," throughout a song, much like the droning sound always present in bagpipes. The cultural appeal of Ms. Ritchie and her music captured my heart and soul and never gave it back. 

Traditional Mountain Dulcimer

Jean Ritchie lived in Berea, Kentucky, home of the wonderful and unique Berea College. My first tenure-track job was at Eastern Kentucky University at Richmond, twenty miles or so north of the village of Berea. You could find me in Berea every week, always making a stop at the workshop where stunningly beautiful mountain dulcimers were made. You could watch the craftsmen at work. Ms. Ritchie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Kentucky in Lexington. She lived in New York for a time, and her husband made and sold dulcimers in his shop beneath the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn. She was at her home in Berea when she passed away yesterday. 
Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, and the Newport Folk Festival were among her venues, and Doc Watson and Pete Seeger among the artists with whom she performed. I was blessed to see her at the very special Prism Coffeehouse in Charlottesville, Virginia, several times in the seventies and eighties. She literally changed my life, as I am sure she did for many others seeking to know Appalachia or seeking to know their mountain or Gaelic roots.
Jean Ritchie, savior of traditional Appalachian music, and her family could teach the world a thing or two not only about music, but also about the errors of folks' stereotypes about mountain cultures. 
Jean Ritchie 1922-2015. Rest in Peace. You are already missed. We loved you.

Jean Ritchie "Careless Love" 

A wonderful, loving story from the New York Times. After all, Ms Ritchie and her husband lived in New York for many years.

Jean and Doc Watson