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

Friday, July 7, 2017

Violence

Little Miss Huckabee Sanders almost made me throw up today. The epidemic of kids murdering kids in Chicago is a "MORAL PROBLEM," opined the predictably permanent tabula rasa, spawn of the man who once said there is more freedom in North Korea than in Obama's America. 
In Dostoyevsky's great work, Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov has a dream, an ugly, grotesque nightmare, that is so effectively narrated that its horror made me almost unable to get through it, and still does. I ask of you the patience to read the excerpt below:

"… He ran beside the mare, ran in front of her, saw her being whipped across the eyes, right in the eyes! He was crying, he felt choking, his tears were streaming. One of the men gave him a cut with the whip across the face, he did not feel it. Wringing his hands and screaming, he rushed up to the grey-headed old man with the grey beard, who was shaking his head in disapproval. One woman seized him by the hand and would have taken him away, but he tore himself from her and ran back to the mare. She was almost at the last gasp, but began kicking once more. 
“I’ll teach you to kick,” Mikolka shouted ferociously. He threw down the whip, bent forward and picked up from the bottom of the cart a long, thick shaft, he took hold of one end with both hands and with an effort brandished it over the mare. 
“He’ll crush her,” was shouted round him. “He’ll kill her!” 
“It’s my property,” shouted Mikolka and brought the shaft down with a swinging blow. There was a sound of a heavy thud. 
“Thrash her, thrash her! Why have you stopped?” shouted voices in the crowd. 
And Mikolka swung the shaft a second time and it fell a second time on the spine of the luckless mare. She sank back on her haunches, but lurched forward and tugged forward with all her force, tugged first on one side and then on the other, trying to move the cart. But the six whips were attacking her in all directions, and the shaft was raised again and fell upon her a third time, then a fourth, with heavy measured blows. Mikolka was in a fury that he could not kill her at one blow. 
“She’s a tough one,” was shouted in the crowd. 
“She’ll fall in a minute, mates, there will soon be an end of her,” said an admiring spectator in the crowd. 
“Fetch an axe to her! Finish her off,” shouted a third. 
“I’ll show you! Stand off,” Mikolka screamed frantically; he threw down the shaft, stooped down in the cart and picked up an iron crowbar. “Look out,” he shouted, and with all his might he dealt a stunning blow at the poor mare. The blow fell; the mare staggered, sank back, tried to pull, but the bar fell again with a swinging blow on her back and she fell on the ground like a log. 
“Finish her off,” shouted Mikolka and he leapt, beside himself, out of the car. Several young men, also flushed with drink, seized anything they could come across—whips, sticks, poles, and ran to the dying mare. Mikolka stood on one side and began dealing random blows with the crowbar. The mare stretched out her head, drew a long breath and died. 
“You butchered her,” some one shouted in the crowd.
“Why wouldn’t she gallop then?” 
“My property!” shouted Mikolka, with bloodshot eyes, brandishing the bar in his hands. He stood as though regretting that he had nothing more to beat."

And now please think how many human African slaves were starved, worked to near death, brutally beaten on beautiful ante-bellum manicured estates. Each of their murders was an Active sin, an Active crime, committed by White America. 
What we are now standing back and allowing to happen in Chicago and other places to young people, especially African-American teenagers and young adults is also a crime, but a crime we PASSIVELY commit by things like standing back and doing nothing except feeling morally superior. Just hearing of each murder should make us all as sick to the point of vomiting as the Dostoyevsky horse dream does to me. AND THESE ARE HUMAN BEINGS, NOT HORSES. THEY ARE OUR CHILDREN.
Note: In 1979, the great actor John Hurt portrayed Raskolnikov in a superb three-episode TV mini-seriers. If the horse scene is in it, I've blocked it out of my mind! I think I'll see where it's streaming. 
EVERYTHING'S CONNECTED.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Worse than Watergate

Nixon never, never, and never would have, let an unfriendly foreign power, let alone one run by a KGB agent, hack into or meddle in or influence any United States election. Yet he was guilty of impeachable offenses and resigned 2 years and 2 months AFTER the Watergate break-in took place and was reported all over the world.

Trump WILL BE taken down, hopefully to a traitor's noose, but St. Elizabeth's Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Washington, DC. It may take years. Sun Tzu said it around 500 BC. It's been said more than one way since Plutarch lamented the slowness of juststice. Today's expression adds hope: "The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine."

We will be shouting truth after truth for years. MLK's "fierce urgency of now" makes it difficult to be patient. Every day is full of danger. But we all know people who will laugh at our outrage, looking straight at evil but neither thinking or caring what it is they see. It could take several years, but we will be vindicated, the insane criminal will be found guilty of soooo many crimes, and the wheels of justice will succeed.

I can hardly wait.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Violence is okay now, like hate and greed. Oh Boy!

The late Bill Buckley wanted something else just as much as he wanted his conservative movement to flourish. He wanted to keep the kooks, misanthropes, the Birchers, white nationalists, the neo-Nazis OUT. Most commentators consider him to have been successful, especially considering there are 4,500 species of actual cockroaches and possibly an infinity of human RWNJ ones. And one of those was really deadly.
In 1960, conservative Protestants and Catholics were in strong opposition to each other. No more. Today evangelicals form a social and political monolith. But I could find you in one hour over a hundred protestants on the right who will secretly admit that they think their Catholic friends are going stright to Hell. My childhood among right wing fundamentalists taught me that, unlike Catholics, nothing about social responsibility. We rushed over Matthew 25 or ignored it. Every sermon was about how to save your ass from Hell. Sometimes preachers were grateful and moved that God provided Christ's crucifixion and resurrection as a way to be "saved." But mostly it was shouting, banging on the pulpit, telling you how you were BORN on your way to Hell, and the only thing to do was to be BORN AGAIN. The rhyme that still echoes in my brain was "Repent, Believe, and Christ Recieve." Repent from your drinking, smoking, dancing, card playing, movie going, adultery and fornication, or just your lust. And what would show the world that you were born anew? Well, when you still did that stuff, say you're sorry. 
At age 5, as my dad backed out of our parking space after church one Sunday, my little voice came from the back seat, asking a question that had been bothering me from parts of that morning's sermon. "Daddy, if Jesus loves the little children of the world, red and yellow, black and white they are precious in his sight, WHY DON'T WE?"
Do you know what I was taught about social justice? That my works, deeds, and actions do not matter to God, "lest any man should boast." Only the grace of God could save me, and once saved it seemed that everyone acted as though they had been give a Get Out of Hell free card and so could do anything except work for Social Justice, pinko commie BS. If you are unfamiliar, read about the Christian Right's interpretation of Christianity. Why do they say Jesus would "pack heat" for just one thing?
Do we all learn in history class that the Southern Baptist Convention broke away from American Baptists and established itself because American Baptists were Abolutionists. The whole Convention was born to support SLAVERY. I don't have enough friends to covene enough fingers and toes to count the people I have heard say they HATE Lincoln, that he was our worst persident, and that they are GLAD HE WAS ASSASSINATED. 
Okay, back to Buckley. When he began in the Seventies to make nice with the Falwells, Bob Jones University, he defeated or abandoned his goal to keep out the kooks and haters. He opened the door wide. They came in droves and they hijacked the Movement, making any legitimate conservative movement impossible. In the early days, I even wrote Buckley a letter, begging him not to fool around with those fundamentalists. I was nobody. I'm sure nobody read it.
Don't be nostalgic for Buckley. If he were here, he would not be able to keep the kooks out anymore.
What we have is a Republican Party controlled and dominated by HATE, GREED, and the quest for POWER, power to control everyone else, to get everyone else's money, to disregard even everyone's very life. We have thugs and goons and pieces of merde who are hostile to education, to knowledge, to books, to science. They are even hostile toward scientific work that might save their own lives by curing cancer and Alzheimer's.
We've got Trump, refusing to shake hands with Merkel, shoving the leader of Montenegro, a Balkan state of about 600,000 people, not knowing Israel is in the Middle East, ad infinitum.
And we've a brand new jewel in our crown today, Greg Gianforte, Montana's newest Representative, who truly attacked, assaulted a reporter the night before the election. And the voters who used to be law and order types cheered him and elected him.
It all comes back to the voters. Something is wrong with our voters. Even Appalachian Trail fan Mark Sanford said that SOMETHING WEIRD IS GOING ON OUT THERE.


Greg Gianforte

Thursday, November 10, 2016

OMG!


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.

Godspeed.