Made a quick overnight trip to the Berkshires for a friend's 60th birthday.
On the way up yesterday, listened to Harry Shearer's "Le Show" on which he read a news story about how open pit waste burning at bases in Iraq is now being blamed for all kinds of illnesses showing up in troops who served there. The company that ran them was Brown and Root, a Texas based company that we protested against during the Viet Nam war for their overcharging part in that, and out of which came Haliburton, the same company Cheney fronted and shilled for for eight years and more and which was awarded non-bid contracts in Iraq which not only overcharged but led to all kinds of disease and death.
My friend had some old friends of his over, and among them was a guy I hadn't seen in a while, so we caught up and part of that included the fact that he and everyone who served in his company in Viet Nam, all of whom were exposed to Agent Orange, have come down with all kinds of strange cancers, some dying from them.
Aside from that sad news, the gathering was a celebration of life (and even that news inspires gratitude for every day we have "above ground" as Whitman put it).
And then, as if sent from the Spirit of the Universe to console me for the realities of this unfair and often cruel world, on the way back to where I was staying with the radio still on NPR, there was Marian McPartland, the English accented elderly jazz piano player who was one of the female pioneers in jazz, still alive, still creatively and technically vibrant and original and among the greatest who ever practiced that art, reassuring me of what I've always known, that it is in art, of all kinds, that I find my solace and my inspiration and the balancing out of the harsh realities of life. May you also.
And may we all acknowledge and be grateful for Marian McPartland and her show—"Radio Jazz" I think it's called—she's been broadcasting for those who never get to live jazz clubs or don't follow that great American art that much, where she makes it accessible and brings things out of her guests that are as surprising as she is (like ray Charles playing such technically proficient jazz as well as other musical approaches to interpreting melodies and harmonies etc. that the appelation "Genius" is almost too limiting).
One of the gifts of life is that she's still doing it (I could hear for the first time in her voice the effects of aging in a way that made me realize we are so lucky she is still practicing her art).