Saturday, June 30, 2012

WELCOME TO GLOBAL WARMING

It's hard to believe that there are still people who think global warming isn't real, or isn't a real threat, or isn't anything we can do anything about anyway. They may be right on that last point, or at least partially. It may have gone too far to reverse in my children's lifetime.

But going through what is our fourth heat wave of the year here in Jersey with Summer only days old, and watching those wildfires in Colorado on TV, which are only the worst for the moment, and the temperature breaking records across the country that'll exceed last year, which broke more records for heat than any in history, etc.

Why aren't Democrats and "liberals" and "progressives" and in fact everyone challenging the right and their corporate masters the way the right challenges actual scientific evidence as though it's fabricated just to take their gas guzzlers or guns or etc. Even the fact that the oceans are rising because of the melting Arctic ice cap faster than "liberal alarmists" were predicting, especially on the East Coast of the USA because that's where the gulf stream has slowed down, due to global warming, so instead of the two inch rise that has occurred elsewhere and is already causing problems we now have a four inch rise that is eroding beaches and islands and if it continues as predicted will leave parts of lower Manhattan under water by 2020 [by only an inch or so, so the city will probably find ways to deal with it by then, though by 2050 they're gonna have to have a much more ambitious plan]!

Remember only a decade ago when the right was dismissing the threat of anything other than normal weather flucuations as fiction, despite the vast majority of scientists offering endless factual evidence to support their predictions? And how these scientists were warning that by 2015 we would start to see drought and flooding becoming more widespread and lasting longer, and stronger storms and tornados, and rising sea levels and all that? And now it's happening and has been happening for a while, and yet the right and its influence on our media and our politics, as well as the influence of energy company money, etc. seems to squelch any real high level discussion of what we are all living through?

It used to just be the Inuit or some islanders or some country we didn't pay attention to who were suffering through the impact of global warming, but now it's all of us. And yet it doesn't top the news shows or political debates or speeches etc. It's like one of those cheesy horror movies where we all know that it's not a good idea for those teens to camp out all night or whatever because the bad guy is about to start slashing, only the bad guy is global warming and those teens are all of us. Hello! Wake up! Run for help!

No? OK, let's just all be the victims of corporate greed and addictive consumerism until Colorado becomes a desert and Florida is under water and the rest of us are filling sand bags, hiding in the cellar, or fighting over potable water or food because farms can't produce thanks to a lack of rain (the Mississippi is so low that ferries that go from one side to the other in some sections aren't running, there's not enough water!) and heat waves that last a month, or there aren't any more natural seeds just one seed created in a lab by Monsato, or whatever corporation, and the defect in that one genetically altered seed turns out to self destruct, or just hasten our individual demises, if the obesity etc. doesn't do it first.

Talk about heads in the sand. I know readers of this blog are aware of all this, but why aren't we all in the streets protesting what's happening to the planet ala the Arab Spring? I shouldn't write posts when I'm tired, but I have. Maybe after some sleep I'll have an answer.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

PS TO LAST POST

It all worked out. The more working class mall nearby had a couple of stores with amazingly low prices on suits, both owned and run by Arab guys who were super nice. I found a linen, or at least part linen suit one of these guys sold me for less than an expensive meal with some friends.

In a department store I found a pair of shoes on sale, and the lady behind the counter showed me how I could even get a further discount on them so that they were less than an expensive lunch. So I'm all set. I did look into new frames for my glasses that were a lot more exciting than the ones I wear now, but maybe I'll put that off for a while.

I actually don't mind so much going to this mall because there's not that many people in it usually when I'm there, and I love the great mix of people. When I was young it would have been mostly Irish and Italian "Americans," but now it's mostly African-American, Arab-American, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans with a minority of European-Americans (although many Europeans now have African and Arab and Asian antecedents) and many of them were speaking another language or with heavy accents.

I did see a gaggle of "white" young teenage girls with no accents except Jersey and when they spied a friend they tried to run to her but they were all wearing ridiculously stilted and platformed high heels that made it impossible for them to stand up straight and almost impossible to walk, let alone run. I saw some older women wearing them too and I have to admit, I dug the platform shoes women and some men (including me) wore back in the seventies, which were more or less based on the platform shoes from the forties (Carmen Miranda et. al.). But even though the women I knew who wore those then, like one of the loves of my life who came from Costa Rica so had the right, as I saw it, to wear them, and looked good in them, they also sometimes had trouble keeping their balance, especially after a few drinks.

But the current style look ugly to me, with the spike like heels and then what looks like two or more inches of sole. There's an ugly imbalance to them before they even have to be walked in. Oh well, I ain't no fashionista, but like all of us, I knows what I like. Hope those girls don't have too many leg and back troubles when they get older from them.

Here's what I mean. They look like cartoon shoes, like Minnie Mouse should be wearing them:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WOOPS

Meant to post yesterday but was so tired I forgot. On Sunday I drove my fourteen-year-old and one of his friends to a skateboarding camp in PA, about a three and a half hour ride or more depending on traffic, but gorgeous landscapes including the last half hour or so in Amish country (saw many horse drawn buggies full of families probably returning from church).

A friend of mine came along to keep me company on the ride back (though he slept for at least half of it and would have slept for more but I woke him to see a big black bear on the side of the highway, not in the woods but on the mowed grass section—though of course by the time my friend opened his eyes we had passed the bear). But I did all the driving (my choice) and it hit me the next day.  I used to be able to drive for ten or twelve hours only stopping for gas, but I guess those days are gone now.

So Monday I was wiped out but had a busy day, including looking for a cheap summer, or at least light, suit for a wedding I'm going to on Saturday, and for some shoes, since the only ones I have are my old Beatle boots from actually before the Beatles hit it big here and they got that name, so they're pretty raggedy and I haven't used them in years (but keep because I only wore them for what seemed like many decades and the ones I used since then wore out and have no sentimental value so are long gone).

Someone told me I could find what I needed in Banana Republic and the nearest one is in a fancy mall in this part of Jersey, the Short Hills mall, where I almost found a suit at Banana Republic, that was pretty reasonable, though for someone who rarely buys clothes—I spent most of my life wearing whatever I was given as gift or I picked up in second hand stores—I find what others call reasonable or even cheap to still seem like an awful lot. But the size choices were limited and I couldn't find anything in mine.

Interesting how my conservative friends are always touting the benefits of capitalism and the free market but how the actual choices available in the marketplace in the good old USA have often become extremely limited since I was a boy back before the rightwing Republicans, especially Reagan and Bush/Cheney, started dismantling all that FDR and Truman did to make the country more economically fair and equal. Back then they sold shoes, for instance, not just in every size but in every width. Now it's the widest common denominator.

Anyway, I hate shopping and I don't like malls so I speed walked through that fancy one on Monday trying on clothes and checking sizes and price tags etc. and shoes and came up empty. Then I had some friends over that evening and watched an old movie on TV and got up yesterday and dealt with some family matters that needed immediate attention and then hopped a train to the city and did 34th Street.

Since the brain operation my mind gets really exhausted from too much stimuli, so walking down one of the most crowded streets in Manhattan popping into stores trying to find shoes (found one I dug but never in my size) and a suit (found a few that more or less fit but were way too conservative for me) was very challenging. After what seemed like hours of that, but was more likely an hour and a half, I headed downtown to see what I could find in spots that used to have second hand shops or cheaper clothes etc. like the Village and East Village and even Soho when it first changed over from empty warehouses and manufacturing lofts to shops back in the '70s.

But everything was either way too upscale, as they say, meaning too expensive for me, or not there anymore (and Soho was as crowded as 34th Street). I saw there was a "digital gallery" in the basement of the building I lived in through much of the '70s and early '80s, on Sullivan Street below Houston, and stopped in to ask how long they'd been there ("three years") and then asked if Jerry (my old landlord) had passed since it was his basement ("yes, four years ago"). Where there had been two Italian "social clubs" anchoring each end of the block there now were sidewalk cafes and boutiques.

A few old places remained (the cheese shop and one butcher) but otherwise the gentrification was so complete I couldn't afford anything being sold around there. But even on The Bowery, which has changed the quickest in recent years, it was too expensive for me, and even the lower East Side except for one second hand shop I found, but it wasn't the second hand stuff I wanted, the slim suit jackets from the '60s that I bought in the '70s and '80s but more like used suit coats from the '90s. Oy.

By then I was so exhausted I needed to sit and rest and met my good friend the poet Simon Pettet at a really terrific and cheap Vietnamese restaurant on 1st Avenue, but by the time I got home I could barely think, let alone talk, so vegged out watching Alfred Hitchcock's SABOTEUR, not one of his best but with the great closing scene of Robert Cummings trying to save the bad guy from falling from the head of the Statue of Liberty. A very stylized movie made in 1942 at the start of the war and way overestimating the number, or at least the activism and power, of Nazi agents in the USA at the time.

By the time it ended I was too tired to remember to post, let alone have the energy to (as you probably have read here, I type with two fingers while looking at the keys and since the brain op have more difficulty doing that so spend a lot of time correcting typos etc. etc.). So here's a morning one before I return to our local much cheaper mall where I should have gone in the first place to see if I can find some shoes and a cheap lightweight suit, since this Saturday in the city is supposed to be in the 90s with humidity almost as bad.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

U SAM OEUR (ANOTHER HERO)

Posting about Ai Wei Wei reminded me of all the others I consider heros who are much less known and acclaimed.  U Sam Oeur is one of them, a poet from Cambodia I met in the '60s in Iowa City when we were both in The Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. He was in the International Writers Workshop, I was in the one with mostly USA college graduates [actually it turns out Sam was in the MFA program, see Ken's clarification in the comments section].

I stood out a little because I was married with a child on the way, a veteran of four years in the military (the GI Bill was helping me pay for my schooling, thanks to Democrats), and working on a BA and MFA at the same time (first time they allowed anyone to do that) because I wasn't a college graduate yet. And Sam stood out because he was Cambodian, originally studying something a lot more practical than poetry when he wrote a poem that got someone's attention who got him to Iowa. That brought us together into a friendship I was grateful for.

That's Sam above, in my apartment in Iowa City sitting at my desk around 1967 (and James Joyce playing the guitar in the photo under the one of Dylan doing the same). If you want to learn about his amazing life, he wrote an autobiography called CROSSING THREE WILDERNESSES (Coffee House Press 2005) with help from Ken McCullough, another poet at the Iowa Workshop, who had been a minor league baseball player before getting his MFA there in poetry [see photo at bottom]. Sam writes of our friendship in it:

"I formed a particular bond with Mike Lally, who was very 'hip.' Norman Mailer wrote a pamphlet entitled The White Negro, and Michael fit that mold. He had a quick mind, was a good poet, knew his music, but more than anything else, he could run circles around anyone when it came to talking politics. He didn't have much use for white people, though he was one of them. Whenever there was a panel discussion with senators and other big shots, Michael would usually be called upon to represent the far left, and he was always the most articulate person on the panel. I recall in a discussion about Ho Chi Minh, Michael made Uncle Ho seem like Mother Theresa. I'm not sure why we became friends—on the surface we were exact opposites, but on the inside we were brothers."

Although I no longer have such a quick mind and have use for plenty of white people (and other things that have changed since then), when I read Sam's take on me back then I am moved and touched by the power of tolerance and love and poetry.



But most importantly, in CROSSING THREE WILDERNESSES Sam tells how when Pol Pot's murderous legions took over Cambodia, Sam destroyed anything that would identify him as an intellectual (especially one who had worked for the previous government when he went back to Cambodia after Iowa) except for some pages of poetry (Emily Dickinson among them if I remember correctly) which he buried near his home and then tearing his clothes and covering himself in dung he acted the role of a crazy man so that when the youthful Khmer Rouge soldiers came to get him they mostly found him amusing and thus didn't execute him but took him to one of their crude concentration camps, keeping their distance because of the stench.

He lost everything, including family members, but managed to save a son when after being confined to a camp he'd sneak out to catch by hand crayfish in a nearby river to take to his son to eat so he wouldn't starve like so many campmates were doing. (One of the only early photos of him in his book is the one above because almost all of his personal photos were lost or destroyed by the Khmer Rouge.)

Ah, read his book and you'll see all he went through and transcended and why he is one of my heros. He ended up back in the USA in the 1990s working with Cambodian youth gangs in this country and still believing in "the power of literature" as it says in the copy on the back cover of his book.

I saw him back then, and he had the serenity of Nelson Mandela or the Dali Lama. I attribute his lack of resentment and anger for what he and his family went through to his spiritual beliefs, but also to his belief in that power of poetry.

[Here's a photo of Ken McCullough and me in my DC "commune" in 1972.]

Friday, June 22, 2012

UPDATE ON AI WEIWEI (A TRUE HERO)

If you don't know who Ai Weiwei is you can look him up on the internet for his amazing accomplishments and heroism [and here's one of many posts about him I've done on this blog], but the short version is he's a world renowned artist whose art I was already a fan of when he started becoming more and more politically engaged in the struggle for human rights in his native China.

He chose to confront the authorities there even though he could have moved to New York or Paris or wherever and lived the life of a highly successful artist with riches and fame. The Chinese authorities have made him pay, though not as much as they may like to (thanks in part to his international fame) by bulldozing the building that housed his art studio and putting him in prison with conditions he has only hinted at but which kept him isolated from family and friends and even his lawyer etc.

He is out but not allowed to leave the country and lives under the threat of being imprisoned again at any moment and yet he continues to speak out and fight injustice.  Here's the link to his latest communication from yesterday's UK Guardian.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

ANOTHER RIGHTWING MYTH

Too hot to write much today (third major heat wave this year and it's only the first day of Summer! but "global warming is a hoax" still according to the right).  So here's another visual, this one giving the lie to the idea that private corporations do things more efficiently than public:


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

PS TO LAST POST

Didn't mean to make it sound like there aren't good things about team sports or good people playing and coaching them. Some of my best friends....etc. Just that there doesn't seem to be the same scrutiny from either those engaged in team sports or outsiders observing, as there is say for Catholic priests.

Or as much support and approval in many communities (like mine) for kids who prefer skateboarding and other non team sports. Not that skateboarding can't be competitive, but in general everyone skates at the level of their ability and/or courage, interest and commitment, and most of the time no one gets any flack for what that turns out to be whether impressive or not.

WHY DOES THE OBVIOUS SO OFTEN SEEM INVISIBLE?

Maureen Dowd's op-ed piece yesterday in The New York Times summarizes, I suspect, a lot of folks reaction to the Sandusky case revelations. My own experience as a boy was that we kids, or at least a lot of us, knew who the sexual predators were, among them priests, policemen, older boys and girls and—not in my case but in ones I heard of—family members.

Obviously these horror stories are as old as humanity, and society has been secretive about them for that long as well, it seems, with the exception of some artists who portrayed in art and writing, including plays and later movies and TV, some aspects of sexual predation. But what movies can you think of that have addressed these kinds of authority-figure sexual predators outside of Catholic priests? I can't think of any, especially any that address these horrors in sports culture.

I live in a town and an area that for boys and girls is often focused on team sports and team sports culture, the kind that fostered Jerry Sandusky and allowed him to get away with preying on boys. I played team sports as a boy but rarely found older boys or men I looked up to in that arena. I stopped playing either because I couldn't—or didn't want to—keep up with the macho fantasy behavior both on and off the field, or because the older boys and coaches and some of my peers put me off with their adherence to codes and behaviors I found dishonest and often cruel.

My fourteen-year-old had some natural athletic ability as a boy that coaches always wanted to exploit or encouraged him or me to use for their sports and teams (his first day of lacrosse he scored goals and the same in basketball and other team sports back when he was six and seven and eight). But, like me, he didn't like the culture, the atmosphere, the behavior of the teams and coaches he was part of, so he lost interest and ended up preferring the more individualistic sports of skateboarding and snowboarding and inline skating etc.

It feels like the entire community favors team sports above all others though. And despite the stories I hear of angry parents actually getting into screaming matches and sometimes physical fights at games, even when the players are seven and eight and nine etc. and know people who don't communicate anymore with old friends because of fights like that at games, or hear of sadistic coaches or serious injuries etc. etc. team sports still dominate my community, including barbershop talk etc.

Yet the local skateboard park isn't much bigger than the average living room (and in my hometown next door there is no skateboard park), and there's all kinds of laws that prohibit my son from skateboarding around town. And even though kids do it anyway and for the most part aren't issued tickets, older people frown at them or even yell at them to stop. I was in front of our apartment house not long ago when an older woman approached me and asked if my younger son and his friend who had just skateboarded across the street to my car in the parking lot that I was walking to were mine? I said one of them was, and she said they scared her the other day skateboarding and if she ever saw them skateboarding on our street again she'd call the police and make sure they were ticketed or had their skateboards taken away (that has happened to my son already).

It's almost like a bad 1950s movie about juvenile delinquents or a 1960s movie about "youth" and the generation gap. And in light of the Sandusky case seems like exactly the kind of hypocrisy that I grew to hate as a boy and then teenager and continue to as a man. How can all these institutions that supposedly represent the best of adult organization and interaction—team sports, religions, police, etc.—continue to protect sexual predators or just physical cruelty and sadistic or semi-sadistic behavior, while continuing to condemn, or at least censor or prohibit or denigrate, individualistic expression of what is supposed to be at the heart of these institutions, like the art and style and sports that allow for each to express themselves independent of the group.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A SWEET FATHER'S DAY IN THE BERKSHIRES (TOPPED WITH A SWEET VIDEO OF JOHN SMITH AND LISA HANNIGAN)

The day couldn't be more beautiful. Blues skies with white cloud puffs, the lush green foliage covering the hills and mountains, the lakes shining in the sun, a lovely brunch with all my children and my oldest son's son (my granddaughter elsewhere with my son-in-law, her father). Couldn't be more grateful.

Lots of warm wishes and cards and all, and then a new Internet friend, Jen Ward, sent me a link to this lovely video of John Smith playing and singing with Lisa Hannigan singing harmony, in a boat on a similarly beautiful summer day (only it looks like they're in Ireland), ah my people:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

HEY INTERNET COMPUTER LAND JIVESVILLE YOU YOU'RE MAKING MY LIFE MORE COMPLICATED INSTEAD OF EASIER (SOMETIMES)

Haven't missed a day of posting in a while. One of the reasons was/is I was trying to post a video, but since I downloaded an upgrade to my software a week or so ago I now can't get a lot of videos on Youtube and elsewhere.

People have suggested remedies, which haven't helped. Hopefully when I see my oldest son this weekend he'll be able to figure it out for me. Part of my problem is my laptop is over three years old now so in computer terms it and the system it uses is ancient history and incompatible with some recent software (and yes, I know I can upgrade the system. but unfortunately the point at which my MacBook Pro's system is demands I actually physically install, not download, a newer version, i.e. find a teeny weeny screwdriver somewhere and actually physically open the bottom of my laptop and take out the old one after actually physically purchasing the next level up and inserting it, and from there I can download at least the most recent upgrade though in three years that'll probably have some new challenge that'll make it seem a lot easier to most folks to just buy a new computer, which I take it a lot of folks do these days as a matter of course).

I also had joined Linkedin because so many folks kept inviting me to and I thought I'd be helping them in some way by adding to their connections. But I quit because they notified me that my password had been stolen by some deliberate hacking (I heard it on the news on NPR days before I was notified by Linkedin) and therefore all my passwords throughout the Internet were now compromised. But when I tried to change my password on Linkedin the process kept throwing up barriers that made it not worth the time and effort so I just quit Linkedin instead. Though I'm not sure that doesn't still leave me vulnerable.

They warned that my email address list could be compromised, and it seems to have been since I now get all kinds of emails supposedly from friends in my online address book that obviously aren't from them and are either junkmail or what they call "phishing" expeditions. But, interestingly (and hopefully my oldest son can help me with this too) when I try to change the password for my email it won't let me!

Ah, life in the age of... Hey, have you noticed how movies from even just several years ago don't have any of the devices and ways of using them that now seem so normal? It seems odd enough in a film when someone has to find a phone to make a call to stop a murder, or whatever, instead of just using their cell phone. But it's become equally as odd that they don't have a smart phone to look stuff up, and all the other conveniences my iPhone provides that balances out all the aggravation from my recent encounters with my laptop that I started this post with.

As always, there's "good" and "bad" in everything, my choice how I react. Last night it was by giving up.  Today, I'll give it another shot.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

QUOTE FOR THE DAY

"and in a sense we're all winning
 we're alive"

—Frank O'Hara (from the poem "Steps")

Sunday, June 10, 2012

THANK YOU HATER!

And thank you Simon Pettet (and DANGEROUS MINDS) for hipping me to this video [which breaks my usual avoidance of the usual (including mine) obscenities on this blog, but this is too good to miss]:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

STAGE BEAUTY

I caught this flick a few nights ago on cable and was stunned at its artistry. But then, how could it miss being stunning with the two leads being Claire Danes and Billy Crudup, two of the most courageous movie actors we have for my taste.

It's a period history set piece in many ways, but uniquely so, partly because of their brave performances. Danes [full disclosure I read poetry with her at a charity event a few years ago and found her jut as you might expect, beautiful, curious and bright with no "movie star" persona at all, if anything more humble than most folks, let alone actors] plays the first woman to act on stage in England, replacing Billy Crudup's character, Ned Kynaston, as the reigning interpreter of Shakespeare's Desdemona.

The history is mostly made up but based in some reality. Kynaston was a real person known for his portrayals of women and especially for his Desdemona. We know about him from Samuel Pepys diary (Hugh Boennville brings Pepys to life perfectly I thought) which the play this screenplay was based on was based on (is there an echo in here): both by Jefferey Hatcher. And it is true that Charles II (played with his usual hilarious aplomb by Rupert Everett, well worth the price of admission) reversed the previous Puritan law against females playing females on stage and banned men playing them (thus ending Kynaston's career, though the movie posits an eventually righteous triumph despite the ban).

As in most period movies, there's a lot of behavior and speech that is more contemporary than period, as well as emotional resolutions that are highly suspect historically. But the deeper truth of human failings and aspirations resonates in the writing, the directing (Richard Eyre) and especially the acting. STAGE BEAUTY is worth watching just for that alone. I highly recommend checking it out and staying with it to the end, a way too modern ending for that period but totally satisfying in an open ended, ultimately unresolved way that seems more true to life than any history lesson.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

RAY BRADBURY R.I.P.

I know you've probably already heard the news because, surprisingly (at least to me), it was all over all the media (network news and cable channels and newspapers and Internet etc.). But I still wanted to add my two cents. Bradbury gave me so much reading pleasure when I was young (my first wife, Lee, and I used to read him to each other before we had our kids).

It wasn't the more famous books and stories FAHRENHEIT 451 or THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES that got to me. But the less fantastical DANDELION WINE and stories like THE WONDERFUL ICE CREAM SUIT. In my mind he was twinned with Jean Sheperd, another great story teller from the generation before mine. They both maintained a sweetness despite their sometimes ironic or dystopian visions of the future or the past. At heart, they seemed like optimists despite the realities of the worlds they came up in: The Great Depression and World War Two.

I miss Sheperd (I mostly encountered him as a radio storyteller at night in bed in my attic room as a kid—fortunately his voice still lives on the classic holiday movie he narrated from his story it was based on A CHRISTMAS STORY) and will miss Bradbury now. But his voice lives on as well, in his books and stories, some of which remain timeless.

Here's the obit from his hometown (as a teenager and adult anyway, he was born elsewhere) paper (and mine for the seventeen years I lived there as an adult), The L.A. Times.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

QUOTE (+ EDITED QUOTE) OF THE(SE) DAY(S)


“Oh, how the rules change when Black Folks come up to bat! It's like you told us the game was Basketball, we showed up with sneakers, and now its Ice Hockey. Race continues to trump all other concerns. With all the achievements realized by President Obama, why the Democrats can't sell their agenda remains a mystery to me.    Regrettably, Progressives are lousing the opinion shaping wars in the electronic and print media. When you consider what will happen to all the progressive legislation since FDR if the Republicans retake the White House, it becomes a very scary picture.

Wake up Folks and get the vote out.” —Kenyon C. Burke,  Ed. D (a Civil Rights pioneer in New Jersey and elsewhere back in the day and still going strong)

And here’s my revised version of a post from Lydia Rivers that Doc Burke  sent me and others:

HERE’S SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT!

Once Obama was elected, all of a sudden,
folks got mad and want to “take America Back”...
BACK TO WHAT/WHERE? Who took it?
 

After The 8 Years Of The Bush/Cheney Disaster,
Now They Get Mad?

They didn't get mad when the Supreme Court
stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.
They didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy
company officials to dictate Energy policy and
push us to invade Iraq .
They didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a
country that posed no threat to us.
They didn't get mad when we spent over 800 billion
on said illegal war.
They didn't get mad when Bush borrowed more
money from foreign sources than the previous
42 Presidents combined.
They didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars in cash
just disappeared in Iraq .
They didn't get mad when Bush embraced trade and
outsourcing policies that shipped 6 million American
jobs out of the country.
They didn't get mad when Bush/Cheney didn't catch
Bin Laden.
They didn't get mad when Bush rang up 10 trillion
dollars in combined budget and current account deficits.
They didn't get mad when they saw the horrible conditions
at Walter Reed and other military hospitals.
They didn't get mad when we let a major US city,
New Orleans , drown.
They didn't get mad when we gave people who had
more money than they could spend, the 1%, over a
trillion dollars in tax breaks.
They didn't get mad with the worst 8 years of job
creations in several decades.
They didn't get mad when over 200,000 US Citizens
lost their lives because they had no health insurance.
They didn't get mad when lack of oversight and
regulations from the Bush Administration caused
US Citizens to lose 12 trillion dollars in investments,
retirement, and home values. Etc. etc. etc.

They finally got mad when a black man was elected
President and decided that people in America
deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick.

Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, job losses
by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the
rich richer, and the worst economic disaster since
1929 were all okay with them, but helping fellow
Americans who are sick...saving the auto industry…
getting Bin Laden…actually reducing government
spending compared to Bush/Cheney…actually
creating jobs (but not fast enough because the
rightwing Republican Congress and governors
et. al. were cutting government jobs like cops and
teachers, faster than private sector jobs could be
created and corporate fat cats would rather sit on
their profits than invest in the economy while 
there's still uncertainty around the globe and 
just maybe because it will get someone more
sympathetic to their greed elected)...etc. etc. etc.


[And in many ways the above goes for a lot of
folks on the left as well as almost all on the right.]

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

MONEY AND ELECTIONS

When I was a boy, watching the 1956 Democratic Party Nominating Convention on a black and white TV with my "ward healer" father (i.e. Democratic Party chairman of our town who could get out the vote so well he could call the local election results almost exactly, and smart enough, despite only a seventh grade education, to do the same for state and national elections), when then Senator John Kennedy gave his nominating speech my father said, "He could be our first Irish Catholic president."  I asked him why he thought that and he said, "Because his father has enough money to make it happen."

It isn't always the case that money wins elections, but it's almost always the case. Today was one example. It looks like the huge amounts spent by the Koch brothers and other rightwingers in the Wisconsin recall election (eight to one compared to his Democratic opponent by most accounts) won Walker the right to stay in office and continue to carry out rightwing policies that favor the wealthy and hurt the working person. As my father also taught me, just because someone wins an election doesn't mean they're the best person for the job nor that the people who voted for them knew what they were doing.

If the Democrats don't learn the art of staying on message and keeping the message short and to the point and the rest of us don't vote or contribute to their campaigns, this doesn't bode well for the Fall elections. Since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision is what made it possible for these rightwing corporate behemoths to outspend those who threaten their interests the Dems have got to get a clear and simple message out, which is that yes, in fact we ARE better off than we were four years ago at the end of an eight year stretch of rightwing Republican policies being enacted and enforced, policies that destroyed our economy.

Of course, most folks, especially those who get their news from rightwing sources like Fox and Rush etc. don't even realize that under Bush/Cheney millions of jobs were lost and under Obama that was stopped and reversed and jobs have been created but just as fast as they're created the rightwing Congress folks and governors et. al. eradicate jobs in the public sector.  It's like they almost want the economic growth to be slow enough that they can call Obama a failure when he has actually succeeded where THEY failed. See, already that message is too nuanced and not simple enough for the right and the folks they have been able to sway with their billionaire backed ads.

Let's hope the center and the left get out and vote in the interest of all of us and not just the billionaires.

Monday, June 4, 2012

HERE'S WHEN I MISS THE YELLOW PAGES

Yeah I know, you can find them online now. But it ain't the same. I just looked up hardware stores for my town in Jersey and one top site said there were one hundred and forty-four listings for hardware stores in my little town, which in fact has none. They all disappeared when Home Depot built a giant store in a nearby town.

I was originally looking for a locksmith to open an old footlocker, the listings for those were extensive as well, there were even several on my street which is only a block long and mostly residential. The street numbers listed online didn't match up to any on my block, and when I called I got someone with a foreign accent who had no idea what a footlocker—or a trunk that isn't in a car—is. One guy said he'd drill the lock off (great for the old printed matter in the locker including first edition books etc I'm sure).

So I tried "hardware stores" because I know there are still a couple left in a few nearby towns, but instead of them popping up I got hundreds of listings for businesses like the locksmiths I kept getting, which, wherever they're actually located (none of them would say, unless they just lied and said they were in my town which we both knew wasn't true) seem to be a dispatcher and roving "technicians" who also have no idea what a footlocker or trunk is.

I did get the hardware store in a nearby town where the guy knew what I was talking about and said he had several skeleton keys for old footlockers and trunks one of which might work, otherwise he could pick the lock, but I'd have to bring it in. A good sized footlocker full of books etc. and on which the old leather handles have long since rotted (it was originally one of my older brothers who had it in WWII). I'm not bringing it in by myself, that's for sure.

I probably already wrecked the lock anyway trying to pick it myself or force it open. Man they made things well back in the day. I suppose now a footlocker full of books and printed material would just be virtual so the virtual locksmith could pick it from some remote office in another country.  Then I'd be the one not knowing what they're talking about.

QUICK, THINK OF A WORLD LEADER YOU WOULD COMPARE TO THE GREATS OF THE PAST

Yeah, I couldn't think of any either. I suppose we always need our elected representatives to be the best we can find, but these times certainly are demanding some strong leadership skills and I don't see them.

There's some politically shrewd ones (Nethanyahu) and some smart ones (Obama) and some staunch ones (Merkel) etc.  But where are the leaders willing to lead on the climate change crisis (including the diminishment of fresh water sources) which is the gravest long term and soon to be short term catastrophe facing all of us, or smart enough to see that "austerity" measures are not working in the worldwide financial crisis?

Obama may have beliefs I agree with in these areas, but he has not done a good job of leading on them. of course if Romney wins in November it will be even worse. And yes, I do believe the lesser of two evils is a better choice than no choice at all.  Maybe in a second term, if he wins one, Obama will be able to achieve more in these areas, but even then he'd have to have the support of Congress, which means the Democrats would not only have to win the House but also win more than sixty seats in The Senate (since the right has somehow won the filibuster battle meaning they have overthrown The Constitutions stipulation that a majority vote in The Senate is all it takes to pass a law etc.).

There are those two women in South America (in Chile and Brazil) whose policies and stated beliefs seem pretty righteous, but whose leadership skills may not be great enough to help them change things in their own countries let alone the world.  And yes, it's clear that the best leadership may often come from masses of people forming movements that influence policy decisions, but obviously that only goes so far: witness the Egyptian elections where the beliefs of the majority of the demonstrators that brought down Mubarak are not represented in the top two choices in the runoff, or in our own country where the rightwing media brain washing machine works so efficiently that working people continue to mostly vote against their own interests and in the interest of billionaires and corporations that deprive them of their rights, their economic security and their futures.

Which is not to say that all times aren't challenging for those alive in them and that humankind doesn't improve over time at least for long stretches. But it feels like a tough stretch we're in now.  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

MELODY GARDOT

There's all kinds of charisma. Last post I was talking about Marilyn Monroe's (once in a poem I pointed out something that struck me in the mid 1950s when I was hitting puberty: the three sexiest movie stars in the world at the time were Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando and Bridget Bardot, hmmmm....). But the kind of charisma that a few music creators generate is something different than MM's. But no less sexy or transcendent.

Here's the latest musically charismatic creator in my personal pantheon: Melody Gardot (hmmm....).  Not only is she an exceptional singer and songwriter and performer, I believe she also is a survivor of severe brain trauma that left her with many of the difficulties I had post-brain-op only hers were much more severe. As part of her recovery, she got into Astrud Gilberto, the Brazilian singer who made "The Girl From Impanema" famous, and Gardot even went to Brazil to study the music up close and learn some Portuguese.

Just to show you how successfully she's incorporated that influence among others into her amazing new album [I guess that should be CD] THE ABSENCE check out this YouTube video of a live performance of her song "Mira" (I have speakers attached to my laptop—thanks to my oldest son Miles—so I can get the full sound, especially the bass, with extreme clarity, but I think even just through computer speakers you will feel the urge to dance in your seat as this song builds into an irresistibly rhythmic expression of joy [though many of the songs on THE ABSENCE are darker they are still as musically compelling]):



Friday, June 1, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NORMA JEAN

Someone said it's Marilyn Monroe's birthday, or the anniversary of her birth, today. The impact she had was so universal and lasting I'm sure it surprised many who survived her. At any rate, here's just one minute of her responding to the press on returning to Hollywood after being away for awhile in the mid-1950s, and as uneven as the sound is, and the quality of the print, the power of her charisma still transcends time and medium to charm the heart once again. At least mine.