Friday, January 30, 2004

New Yahoo Discussion Group
I was invited to join "The Revolutionary Art Collective."
Their logo: fist clutching strand of barbed wire, below block letters "THE STRUGGLE," on a red background.

"The revolution will not be a cliche."
Gil Scott-Humorless

If the person sitting next to you on a train at 7 am pops open a tupperware bowl, & what's in it smells like cheap dog food and looks like cheap dog food, it is cheap dog food. No substance is like cheap dogfood.

Lady Astor: You smell, Mister Churchill.
Winston: That is incorrect. I stink. You smell.

I don't believe I'm an excellent poet, based on the overall quality of my poems. What's long puzzled & disturbed me is that I'm not considered an especially interesting poet. I sort of became an inconsistent poet because it interested me to become one.

Off Zoloft now, over two weeks, some remarkable changes - better physical sensitivity, notably touch. Also anger welling up, unbottled, expressing outward (depression is inward), & definitely seeking targets, a few of whom/which actually have it coming to them. It takes a dangerous load of pent-up anger to become even righteously pissed off while taking Zoloft. That isn't good. Because it inhibited me, Zoloft ended up making me even more depressed.

There are always side effects. Welbutrin simply isn't as strong as Zoloft - it's not a zombifier - but it causes mild tintinitus, makes me slightly off-balance, & most strangely, constantly tries to switch my brain into a pre-sleep mode, which my body refuses to obey. Zoloft was quite the opposite. I was often so listless that I couldn't prevent my falling asleep - tough on anyone who loves reading & listening to music..... zzzzzzzz. The claim that Zoloft makes one more like oneself is a lie. It brings out other true qualities - I became more courteous, generally more accepting, less easily bugged by situations that are too unimportant or too distant to warrant getting upset over. But aren't these also indications of mature outlook? I went on Zoloft at age 51, I'm now 55. & at this point I'm willing to risk the premature ejaculation (which you can bet your pheremones Zoloft cures & unfortunately then some) just to feel a libido again. I need my libido for much more than sex, which I don't have anyway. Like being human. For months before I ended up back in hospital I'd been complaining to my therapist about feeling emotionally numb, distinterested in my own welfare, let down by a mental health system that doped me up yet wouldn't act as my advocate in practical matters, & inauthentic - which I understood even if she didn't.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Ted Koppel interviewed Kerry & Dean post-election, the contrast between the two candidates was startling. Kerry was stiff, "on," waving Ted's questions aside so he could deliver meaningless rote lines of campaign script to us, "the people," real vision this, real change that, blah blah, trying so hard to be "presidential" that he seemed not to be enjoying his victory at all. Yeah, he'd make a pretty good President - but he's still a cardboard politician. Dean was relaxed despite the loss, informal, direct, answering Ted's questions as honestly as he could (wouldn't discuss campaign strategy) - that is, Dean WAS speaking to the "the people." I like the guy. If this were an election that couldn't be won by Dems, like 1984, I'd say sure, go with him. Because the Dean way, the MoveOn way, is what has to happen in The United States, & especially in the Democratic Party, if Democrats are ever to provide a factual rather than fictional alternative to the Corporate Way - which goes unchallenged in the Republican Party. Kerry looks & sounds wooden, over-rehearsed, because he is The Machine. He doesn't understand any other way of being in politics. He's the kind of politician who says, "Don't put the cart before the horse."

Of course, Sharpton's Preacherman must always be acknowledged; he's not speaking just for & to a black constituency - he's representing the unfulfilled traditional goals of Democratic transformative liberalism, rightly judging as jiveass the professed liberalism of the major candidates. Dean & MoveOn are something else, increasingly necessary; odd echoes of ancient Democrats; Jefferson & Andy Jackson; & a re-assertion of anarcho-libertarian ideals - there are places I meet my conservative counterparts, in matters of privacy (pot, sex); freedom of speech & movement; common sense (for fiscal sanity, against SUV MPG & tax exemptions), & even foreign policy (war really isn't a matter of left versus right). These are the "grassroots" of the coming new coalition. & you kin bet yer rusty Clinton for President button that Hillary's already thinking about how to put it all together, should Bush be (Lord grant us otherwise) re-elected.

The Democratic Party needs - & is getting - another reform movement, but this one isn't coming with the official approval of the DNC; it's going to happen because it's already happening. Senators & Governors & wannabees better take a long, hard look at how Dean & MoveOn recruit & raise money; at these initial stages of an inevitable process. In the near future that process may not have the wherewithal to nominate & elect specific candidates, but it will definitely have the power to veto them.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Is it too much to ask that we be given the names of our soldiers slain in Iraq & Afghanistan? shown where they were killed? The twisted, shattered helicopter in a field, the mangled humvee on a highway. I am sick of numbers: three yesterday, six more today, six yesterday, ten more today. Do not spare us the daily details, posted where we cannot miss them.

Can we bear the picture of flag draped caskets riding a conveyor belt off an aircraft? Where are the wounded being hidden? Let us see their disfigured faces, the empty sleeves of their uniforms, their wheelchairs. We must, if a war is necessary & just.

The fine print

As of Monday, Jan. 26, 514 U.S. service members have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense. Of those, 355 died as a result of hostile action and 159 died of non-hostile causes, the department said. The department did not provide an update over the weekend.

The British military has reported 55 deaths; Italy, 17; Spain, eight; Bulgaria, five; Thailand, two; Denmark, Ukraine and Poland have reported one each.

Since May 1, when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 376 U.S. soldiers have died - 240 as a result of hostile action and 136 of non-hostile causes, according to an AP analysis of releases from the Defense Department and U.S. Central Command.

Since the start of military operations, 2,541 U.S. service members have been injured as a result of hostile action, according to the Defense Department. Non-hostile injured numbered 399.

The latest incidents reported by the military:

Three soldiers operating under the 101st Airborne Division were reported missing after being lost Sunday in the Tigris River in Mosul, Iraq. One soldier was in a patrol boat that capsized. The two others were part of the rescue effort.

Army Pfc. Ervin Dervishi, 21, Fort Worth, Texas; died Saturday in Baji, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the vehicle in which he was traveling; assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Sunday, January 25, 2004


A New Hampshire voter said he sees "terrific choices" among the candidates but has reservations about many of them. He worries that "the days of liberal New England politicians winning the White House are over," which makes him doubt Kerry's electability. Which liberal New England politician is this voter referring to? Here's all the Presidents who were born in New England:

John Adams
John Quincy Adams
Franklin Pierce
Chester Alan Arthur
Calvin Coolidge
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
George Herbert Walker Bush
George Walker Bush (B. 1946, New Haven, Conn)

How many "liberals" there in the sense we use the word now? Zero. JFK nailed Nixon with taxes, the "missile gap" & the five o'clock shadow; not civil rights, universal health care & environmental protection.

I don't care which current Democratic candidate is the most "Democrat." Rather than question them on "issues," I'd prefer unrolling a map of the United States, an electoral college map*, with all the available votes written in the states. Massachusetts would be blue for Democrat. The other 49 states would be red, for Republicans. "Worse case scenario," I'd say, but there's hope. Now, don't gimme no song & dance about taking it to "the people." The people elected Gore; unfortunately, the states didn't. If you don't already have an electoral strategy, you should drop out now. If you do, we would love to hear it. Begin by explaining to us Democrats how you're gonna take Missouri, Florida, Iowa, Oregon & New Jersey away from George W. Bush. Because right now they're in play, Mister Candidate. Oh no, seems that George grabbed Arkansas & Wisconsin too. Tough break. Tell ya what, pick one, tell me why it's going for you, & I'll make it a split.

Oh looky over on the left coast, I handed California to Dubya. Must be the "Arnie" factor. Close, but apparently too many gays & pot smokers up north stayed home. Got any ideas for changing that? Now how you gonna pull enough votes outta New York City & Chicago to carry New York & Illinois? Is North Carolina winnable? It's south of Virginia, which is or ain't? Add 'em up, fellas.

With all due respect to my more uncompromising liberal & leftist friends, whose views I generally share: You all told me McGovern would win, Reagan could never be elected, Reagan could never be re-elected, Dukakis would win, Gore was a walk, & now I'm rather surprised you're not claiming Howard Dean can carry Texas. You're dancing on the moon, still.

*Check out the Mississippi & Ohio River valley states in 2000. Then click on 1992.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Howard Dean got an old-fashioned ass-whuppin' from Democratic Party regulars (that is, the common folk, yellow dogs, etc) in Iowa, & I am proud of them, because they did something I hadn't expected: they spoke for me. Their message was simple: "Not here, not yet, Howie."

I am not a party regular, meaning I'm not active at the ward level. But since I vote Democrat nearly all the time (sometimes for dissident factions in local primaries), I resent the primary process being pirated by two small states that do not represent the broad demographics of the Party. It was a well-intentioned reform but... Just as with the G.O.P., Democrats have to deal with various "button issue" groups representing constituencies & agendas that are aligned with the Party but not actually a part of it. Republicans have a religious Far right. Democrats have a secular left wing. It is a fact that neither the right nor the left by itself has the slightest idea of how to successfully elect a Presidential candidate by gaining an Electoral Majority out of Fifty States.

Only two Democrats have been elected President since 1968, & both candidates unseated incumbents who were not depised by Americans. Those two candidates, Carter & Clinton, had a lot in common. Both had a sense of border state populism, where you can wrap yourself in the Stars & Stripes & still advocate progressive ideas; both could talk liberal enough when up north & reasonably moderate elsewhere; & both could express belief in God without jiving. Stray too far from that formula & you get Michael Dukakis, a good guy sucker-punched by Bush Sr.

I'm not an Al Gore fan; not anymore. Here's a hail fellow who found ways to insult both Clinton & Lieberman. We tend to forget that had Al humbly asked Bill to make a few targeted trips to Florida during the final weeks in 2000, that absurd peninsula probably would have gone Democrat without much dispute. As for Bill Bradley, I was proud to have him as my Senator, but off the basketball court he's always been a banker's son & an egghead who couldn't even fake a regular guy personna. But that's the sort of Senator we nearly always elect from Jersey. So their endorsements of Dean were techno-geeky rather than truly felt. [It's our governors - Dick, Tom, Christie, Jim - who enter office on a first name basis.] Dean needs to ask Dollar Bill why $100 internet donations - as much as I support the concept - do not constitute reliable political "base."

What's struck me about the Dean campaign up to now is its unreality, as if it existed mainly in cyberspace where an equally cyber-creation, MoveOn, got to insinuate a big endorsement, plan the strategy, create the ads, send out barrages of e mails almost daily, hold the election & count the votes. One Howard Dean existed there, strangely fascinating some of my most leftist friends & acquaintances like a hypnotist swinging a pocket watch, while a corporeal manifestation of the man was running around Iowa & apparently bellowing at people too much. Iowa wasn't about who spent the most money - in that sense, it worked out pretty good.

Welcome to The Game, Governor Dean.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Here's one of the ads the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) is running in newspapers to highlight conservative opposition to a Constitutional Marriage Amendment.

I'm being bombarded with pro-Dean e mails from liberal-left friends & orgs. None completely convincing from their left perspective. There's a tone of desperation in the daily barrage of spam I receive from MoveOn. & watching West Wing puts a surreal spin on it, given that Martin Sheen was on board early with Dean. Other old-time liberals I know are more cautious: John Kerry isn't exactly centrist sellout. I wanted to like John Edwards - sucker that I am for enlightened Southern & Border State Democrats (I was born nine days after Truman was elected) - he failed to stimulate.

Anyway, that "tone of desperation" is justified. Bush is shaping a reelection campaign that more & more resembles Nixon in '72. But its weakness is that it is a pastiche; War President, Peacemaker, Space Travel Visionary (yawn), Agent of Christian Righteousness, with a messianic post-convention return to New York on 9/11. Bit of Reagan here, Kennedy there, even Clinton, not to mention Moses. Then, amazingly, one expects him to break into a verse of Woody's "Deportee" down in old Monterrey. Bush's handlers figure if they bury him in enough bullshit, no Democrat will be able to dig him out by November.

Current Temperature, Rahway NJ: 5F, wind gusts to 30 mph.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Rutgers, Notre Dame, Seton Hall women's BB teams lurking just undernear the Top 25. The "Lady" Knights beat several ranked teams, lost some games they oughta have won. Problem is that the Big Easties get to kick each other around from now on. Despite scaring #1 UConn at the RAC, don't expect much more from Rutgers men this year. I don't see the team "jelling" on the likes of Pittsburgh, Miami, or even the rapidly sinking Wildcats, all away games. With Rutgers men even Monmouth isn't a gimme.

update: Rutgers beat Monmouth 78 to 75 in OT at the RAC. One wishes Monmouth had won, they deserved it. Rutgers women have lost two straight Big East road games - the Ladies better start scoring more than 60 points; Notre Dame gals handily defeated UConn.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Evbatic asks: "What treasures have you won from skeeball."

My fav skeeball prizes, long lost, were simply some red ballpoint pens stamped "Asbury Park Casino" & for which I could probably bilk 5 bucks each on ebay from Springsteen fans. If I found one, I could easily counterfeit them from Spencer Gifts or some cheapo catalogue. Crane games, old-fashioned type, were good, I have lotsa stuff from them floating around this here desk drawer (Bob opens drawer, sees little plastic hot dog charm & a pink & white whistle).

She asks: "What was the last thing I wanted so bad you could almost taste it?" Sheese, I'm a Scorpio, I'm evil. But Saturday night I just wanted another warm body in my futon bed. Instead, I closed it up into a couch & snuggled against the back. It was OK. Right now some pea soup & croutons would be tasty.

Strange museum item, looks like a Marcel Duchamp piece:

It's Russian composer Prokofiev's Tuning Fork at the Museum of Regional Studies in Donetsk, Ukraine

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Sorry to report the death of poet Charlie Mosler, New Year's Day, of complications from a stroke suffered one week earlier & which had put him in a coma. He will be missed by the many poets & musicians & artists, including myself, who knew & worked with him. Our love to his wife, Rona.

Charlie was a difficult man. Met him over 25 years ago, liked him even though we disagreed on almost everything from music to religion. But we both preferred the more "cool" reading style of the Fifties to the later dramatized "wow" type for winning slams. Charlie published very little - claimed his poems were made to be spoken, but he was also paranoid about theft. & his poems changed little over the decades. I'm glad I got to see him one more time, at Edie's this past November. No premonition it was to be the last time.

Charlie's well-known misanthropy - don't kid yourself, it was largely real - was an armor with vulnerabilties. Charlie had a deep respect for jazz musicians - a respect with components of both devotion & envy. Charlie also wanted to be liked personally but had difficulty opening up to it. So he tended to keep people - & situations - at arm's length. He was liked all the same. He rarely flattered, which made his compliments count for something. As an artist, he watched his own back without screwing others in the process, & was a very loyal guy. Within his sharp capacity to see things, he usually saw them as they really were. He might come up against self-imposed limits, but was most often correct. He left a lot of really excellent poems, which now belong to us just as Charles Mosler the Poet does.

Some poets have a kind of poetic authority. There are very good poets who don't have it, because an artist grows up to & into it by stages; it is directly related to an authenticity of personal character. I think of Charlie's ubiquitous black folder, which he sometimes clung to, I swear, like an old lady's purse. But he could just as well have left it in his car on most occasions; he had plenty of authority without it.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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