Sunday, December 08, 2013
Thursday, December 05, 2013
When we think of Nelson Mandela, he is usually smiling (a trait he shares with Bishop Tutu & Mahatma Gandhi). It isn't the pasted smile of a celebrity or the smile of someone intending to deceive you. It is the smile of a man more accustomed to smiling than frowning. Despite the great trials he had endured. His smile reached people before his words did. It communicated his irrepressible hope.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Friday, November 29, 2013
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Friday, November 22, 2013
Nov 22, 1963
I don't think I had any strong feelings one way or another about JFK. If I expressed any, I didn't know what I was talking about. I remember the weekend & funeral as extraordinary, out of the realm of experience for everyone, a combination of tragedy, sadness & fascination.
JFK wasn't spoken well of around my Republican home. He certainly livened things up around the White House, the antithesis of the grandfatherly Eisenhower. All the Camelot stuff, generated while he was in office, was so much silliness to me. You had to be blind to believe Jack wasn't cheating on Jackie. He didn't seem especially "liberal," except in his cultural tastes, which even he admitted was Jackie's sophistication. In 11/63 We knew The Beatles were coming soon. I didn't expect the level of hysteria they had generated in England. They didn't come to America because Kennedy was killed, but a wintry, post-assassination melancholy created a vacuum for their "Yeah Yeahs" to fill. By the end of 1963, "I want to Hold Your Hand" was creating a major buzz among younger teenagers (11 to 15, the older ones were somewhat resistant). Kennedy's death & the British Invasion have always been linked for me. Kids were quick to put Kennedy's assassination behind us. It took only six or seven weeks.
I sent Jean a list of everyone currently on my prayer list. Unsurprising she isn't certain I pray. Here is my prayer, from Paul the Apostle in Romans:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Not even our own doubts are sufficient to separate us.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Early on I tried to emulate Joe. But Joe was trying to get attention by pushing others away. I came to that tactic later. I tried to get attention by being clingy &whiny. Youngest kid. I needed my brother Jim's broad taste in Top 20 music. His work ethic didn't catch on with me. I needed Jean's conventional approach to high school culture, the dances & the dating. Jean had the most influence on how I made my way through high school socially, particularly as a junior & senior. But Joe gave me (or rather I stole from him) much of my creative foundation. I took it, packed in a rocket, & lit it, & followed the rocket.
Joe has always been able to make astute, even caustic observations about other people, less insightful toward himself. We're all like that, substituting confession for self-awareness. But he wasn't able or willing to express himself though music or writing, although he's had all the basic tools for doing so. I've always wondered what stopped him? Some deep insecurities? Jim preaches & sings. Jean sings, & any party or holiday she organizes has her personality all over it. I make poems. Even as a recluse I stick my head out of my burrow & make loud clicking noises.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Our two relatively contented middle siblings can handle the practical stuff fine. If he resists the surgery they'll find a way to make him have it. But like Joe, I reside among the underclasses, poor & psychically beaten down. I want to tell him to pull himself together & give it one more try. Just one more. I know in his small world he is talkative, funny & well-liked. Well, it's a world! You got a place to live, food, two cats, a lady friend.
Of course, my PC, an e machine,which has given me four years \of good service, chooses this week to go all glitchy on me. I wasn't able to open up files or write, but it somehow repaired those problems. Images are distorted & the web browsers messed up. Might be time to buy a netbook. I need this PC working well. I need a big screen & a full size keyboard. When you don't game, the requirements for a PC drop way down.PC themselves are all the way out. My eyesight isn't great & I appreciate a large screen & large font when I need it.
Monday, November 18, 2013
THE WAR MONUMENT
takes us hostage to a myth of optimism,
a community where no babies
are abandoned in garbage cans,
wise old women in lawn chairs
fanning themselves with astrological charts,
highways repaved but never widened,
all retail clerks brothers and sisters,
good manners among neighbors,
no one too rich or too poor,
the serene aftermath of war
our fertile real estate.
A cat in the dark alley
knocks over a garbage can,
cockroaches pass through poison
as through a slightly unusual room,
don't be afraid, what you see
is a reflection in the window
of an oriental woman
peeking over her glasses
while she works at a sewing machine.
A soldier clothed in green patina
marches past the public library
for his proud Gold Star Mother.
We are taught our wars are kindnesses,
favors we do for our enemies.
Peace is also a litany of greed,
fading uniforms, reams of paper
with secrets printed on them.
Waking up in a strange hospital,
hearing the butterflies screaming.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Barnegat Light NJ
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
On November 13,
Monday, November 11, 2013
Although having a day to honor veterans is right, I wish we had established a separate day for them & kept Armistice Day, which was about the end of a war & the establishment of peace. A day devoted to peace. Rarely see the word "peace" in print anymore, why is that? I was born on Armistice Day. It was changed a few years later. "Ami" in my mother's maiden name Amidon has meant peace or a quality of peace all the way back into proto-Indo-European language. God's joke on a hot-tempered child whose growth spurt screeched to a halt at 5'6", but endowed with a scorpio's penchant for creative, patient revenge. Oh yeah, in case I inherited the gift of blarney from the Irish side, I was given a stutter that didn't subside to a controllable level until I was in my Twenties. You have to learn to write poems, kid.
Signing a truce is not the same as making peace. It's better than fighting, but it does not reconcile. Nations make & observe truces, as do families & individuals, but use them to avoid getting to the heart of the matter.
Rules for 21st Century War
Prevent a free press from learning the truth & it won't need to be censored for trying to report the truth.
Never reveal who is getting rich from a war.
The true costs of a war are so mind-boggling high that hardly anyone finds them believable. Don't worry about it.
When stirring up the populace for a war, in no case predict & include the costs of the aftermath of a war, which are paid for by citizens for 100 years after the war in the form of medical care & survivor's benefits. As of March 2013, two children of Civil War veterans were still receiving very modest annual payments.
Ship bodies of fallen soldiers home quietly & quickly disperse them across the country. Hide the most grievously injured.
Call veterans "heroes" but keep them so patriotically stirred up by slights both real & imagined that they'll cheer cuts to social service programs without noticing vets & the V.A. are getting screwed too. The vets of WWI & WWII didn't fall for this scam. Know your history.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Thursday, November 07, 2013
I used to "mayorize" the Rahway City newsletter. I'd count the number of times the mayor's name was mentioned in the copy provided to me & find more places to insert "Mayor James Kennedy." I wished he had come to me to edit his occasional speeches, which didn't even sound like him & lacked his sense of humor. He could be quite droll in an Irish sort of way. Like Brendan Byrne, a politician I admired & a funny man. Rahway has a great river & cool train station, a politician can't go wrong waxing poetic about those, especially when he can truthfully blame the flooding & pollution on upstream towns. Freeholders were pains-in-the-asses because hardly anyone can name their freeholders, but freeholders have egos just as out-sized as any other politicians.
* These columnists hardly exist anymore. The newspapers they worked for are gone or they were laid off years ago in staff cutbacks. But I'm thankful I had the opportunity to do it at all as a "nonprofessional."
Labels: about writing
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
Locally, a young woman I supported for Board of Ed came in 4th for three available positions. Her insurgent slate, well-financed by the County Democratic Committee, endorsed by the mayor, grabbed two of those seats. She lost because she was positioned 8th on the ballot, & all the slick flyers, robocalls & door-to-doors couldn't overcome that. An incumbent had the #1 spot, he came in second. The #2 position candidate came in first, & the #6 position came in third. There were several candidates listed not actively running - I don't know why they bothered to run. The BoE election is "nonpartisan" but pits the County Democratic machine - nothing to brag about as a "democratic" organization except they tend to be very liberal - against a BoE machine autocratically run by a single boss with right wing tendencies. The young woman took the defeat quite hard. But before BoE elections were moved to the general election in November, the BoE fortress was almost impregnable. But with the superior campaign resources of the Regular Democrats to counter the slick official mailings of the BoE paid for out of the school budget, three BoE members have been picked off in two years. This at least will bring some transparency to the Board. If the BoE were genuine progressive reformers & didn't constantly manipulate stats to make the schools look better than they are or run the system like parochial schools, I would support them.
Monday, November 04, 2013
It's all about the money
Unless Chrstie's win tomorrow results in Repugs winning the state legislature, media analysts will have to see it as a singular victory for an individual. People outside Jersey often have difficulty understanding that we aren't an especially ideologically partisan state - the point of going into politics here has always been to steer money (especially Fed money) in one's own direction, one's own town or district, with ideology a distant second - but rather one where we cling to our many strange, often baffling traditions & prejudices.
Labels: New Jersey politics
Sunday, November 03, 2013
Saturday, November 02, 2013
Something I loved about Atlantic City
Labels: Atlantic City
Friday, November 01, 2013
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Boston Red Sox
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Hurricane Sandy one year later
Early reports & photos from Cape May County are alarming. Coastal communities are already underwater, & the main storm surge & most dangerous high tide aren't due until evening. Coastal flooding in north Jersey has occurred at levels associated with the height of noreasterns. Sandy projected to come ashore south of Atlantic City. My live cam links have been going down one after another, the remaining working sites apparently so busy I can't get on to them with my slow internet service. More wind than rain here in Elizabeth. The heavy rain is only about 20 miles south now. Jersey has had many bad storms over the past fifty years, but none with the devastating tidal surges of the March '62 storm. The tide comes in, stays in, & structures that could withstand a fast-moving storm are battered into rubble,Whatever I was expecting - & I was expecting a very bad storm - it was worse than I imagined. I was briefly outside walking around that evening. Then the brunt of it hit. I thought my windows would blow in. The power went out. It was long scary night. There wasn't much serious damage in my neighborhood, thank heavens. The day after the storm, while thousands picked through the rubble of ruined homes & businesses, my neighbors were raking wet leaves.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013)
Bradley Beach NJ
Friday, October 25, 2013
Dave Herman, legendary NYC rock DJ, alleged pedophile
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Cory Booker stomped radical right Repug candidate Steve Lonegan in a special senate election last wednesday, 55% - 45%, low turnout. Lonegan tried to make something of it being closer than expected. Well yeah, For two reasons. Every right wing ideologue in the state voted but only a low percentage of everyone else. Booker ran a lackluster campaign, spent only a fraction of his $11 million campaign war chest. No TV ads, No GOTV street money. He didn't need to receive 60% plus of the vote. Booker has another election next year, possibly against a stronger opponent. He's the senator-elect & Lonegan is finished in Jersey politics. Gov Christie endorsed Lonegan but subsequently was never seen with him.