Saturday, April 30, 2005

Georgia Woman Found, Reportedly Got Cold Feet

It was the Chief of the Duluth Georgia police who suggested Jennifer Wilbanks might be a runaway. But in the forthcoming made-for-TV movie (I'm already working on the screenplay), the drama takes place in a rural section of Georgia: John the jilted groom falls in love with Edith Mae, a local po' gal from Walmart's helping with the search for the missing bride. Jennifer's "prominent" family, angry at their daughter & loathe to lose so much money by canceling the expensive arrangements, realizing Jennifer's bridal gown is a perfect fit for Edith Mae, "adopt" the sharecropper's daughter for the day, & the wedding is held almost as planned.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Appeals committee reverses church trial verdict in Stroud case

On a technicality

BALTIMORE (UMNS)—Irene Elizabeth "Beth" Stroud, who was found guilty of violating United Methodist church law and had her clergy credentials withdrawn last December, won her appeal in a decision announced April 29.

The clergy court had found her guilty of violating denomination law, which forbids the ordination and appointment of "self-avowed practicing homosexuals." Stroud had disclosed that she was living in a committed relationship with another woman.

The appeals committee upheld part of the trial court’s finding but overturned the verdict based on legal error. The committee’s 8-1 vote means Stroud is automatically reinstated as a pastor.

The United Methodists are not united. Just a matter of time until there is a schism in the Methodist Church, or a significant number of moderate to liberal Methodists quit or drift away to more open & accepting denominations. Conservative Methodists would like the latter to happen; no messy, public lawsuits over division of property & power. There are unprejudiced, relatively sophisticated Methodists throughout the Church, even in the South, who openly welcome gays & lesbians to their churches & who understand that pastors like Beth Stroud would never insist that conservative congregations be forced to accept gay & lesbian ministers. But here, conservative is narrowly used, for the Reconciling Ministries movement in the UMC is not advocating huge doctrinal shifts or a radical theology; no one's trashing the Methodist "Articles of Religion," or disputing the Apostle's Creed.

What's remarkable about Beth Stroud is how Methodist she is. She strongly supports the church's traditional Wesleyan committment to social causes, but she's just as comfortable taking a youth group roller skating & attending pot luck fellowship suppers. She uses the non-confrontational, somewhat convoluted "sisters & brothers in Christ" language that characterizes debate & differences of opinion; everyone is "seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit" & "dedicated to growing God's church" & "joining together to light the fire of renewal in our hearts." You get the gist. Sometimes it makes one feel like yelling. Beth is a quintessential young Methodist minister. Her sermons are thoughtful & felt, but her appeal isn't especially intellectual; it's evangelical in a typically friendly, informal Methodist style. One prays, sings, studies the Scriptures, does God's work, acts with modesty & moderation, & always lets the children be first in line at the annual Strawberry Festival. Everything about Beth says, "This is a good way to live." In the UMC, lesbians & gays at all levels of participation are secrets everyone knows. Rev. Beth Stroud refused to be an example of "Don't ask - don't tell."

Thursday, April 28, 2005

It's frustrating that Blogger blogposts cannot be sorted by category, which surely discourages readers who come here via search engines & limits the potential readership. I follow none of the "rules" for creating a "break out" blog & there's little I can do about that without starting a second blog devoted to a single area. My other websites are static; places I park my poetry & a few goofy conceptual pages, I'm not very concerned about how many visitors they get, & I only occasionally monitor the traffic on them. My archived WFMU programs with individual song links get a lot more visitors than the shows that don't have them, but I consider that convenience a "public service" of sorts; I prefer being appreciated as a setmeister. But I'd like for readers to dig into this blog for the topics that interest you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Free Form Radio

Free form is a process that has little to do with whether music is or is not "alternative." The concept of "alternative music" is a bias, & is not the same as alternative programming. Free form is not dependent upon music.

WFMU is a free form radio station wherein most DJs do free form programs but some do not.

The great strength of free form is that every type of music, every sound, can have an equality of emphasis in the free form stream.

Most of the music that flows out of WFMU's broadcasting stream isn't especially strange. But it may attain an unexpected strangeness in the free form context; analogous to watching a variety of items floating down a river; a broken lawn chair, tree branches of various shapes, a colorful beachball, a rainbow oil slick, a dead body. Presented this way, everything is sort of equal. You can watch, accepting whatever comes by next, or you can walk away. & upriver, someone tossing all that stuff in - the DJ.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Lurid Headline

Monday, April 25, 2005

It's not often that a young poet or artist gets a chance to grandstand in the national press. I haven't read the poem yet but Bolles seems like a fairly typical a-hole graduate writing student, if a bit older than the rebellious norm (& his teacher a p/c liberal) & if he doesn't squeeze a book deal out of his 14 1/2 minutes of fame he's pathetic, too. It's all been resolved anyway, unless the guy doesn't like his final grade & sues. Yahoo! News - University Class Bars Student Over Poem: NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Southern Connecticut State University barred a student from a poetry class after his professor said a poem he submitted contained veiled threats to sexually assault her and her 3-year-old daughter.

The student, Edward Bolles, said his poem entitled "Professor White," was meant to be a satirical piece about globalization. In it, a Mexican student named Juan has a sexual encounter with the daughter of his white professor.

Nothing Is Simple

A woman friend called me tonight from her bathtub,
she wanted to drive over & have sex, watch some TV
& get home by midnight. I said, not now sweetheart,
I'm playing along with Mozart on my kazoo (actually it was just
tissue paper & a comb), & I really need to rinse some socks,
& then I'm having coleslaw & canned ravioli. Or maybe
a frozen pizza. How about tomorrow night? We can watch
that new show about the soccer mom who sees the future
in her dreams & her husband is a real jerk. She said
she couldn't do it, she had a job down the shore
installing a dry wall in a chiropractor's office & probably
wouldn't get home until after 8 o'clock.
What a coincidence, I said, I'll also be down the shore
taking blood samples from a pod of dolphins
that mysteriously beached in Asbury Park
on the exact spot next to Casino Pier that local legend
has Wendy going down on a young Bruce Springsteen,
inspiring a song originally titled Born to Hum.
I'm sure we'll be famished when we're done, let's
meet for drinks & sushi at Martell's Tiki Bar.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Astro Alert: Lunar Eclipse in Scorpio
Dear Bob,
This Sunday, we're seeing the first of 2005's two lunar eclipses. Very early in the morning, the Earth's silhouette will pass in front of the Moon, shadowing out its light, but you'll begin to feel the effects 24 hours earlier. This eclipse is focused on Scorpio, the sign of sexuality and the paranormal -- quite the exciting combination! Scorpio is the most secretive and ambiguous sign of the zodiac, and you'll certainly feel a sense of mystery this weekend. You'll also feel a detached focus on yourself, as the illumination of the Moon, which rules our emotions, will be blocked. It's an excellent time to take a step back from the details of your life to see the whole picture. To learn more about this weekend's lunar eclipse, visit The Stars This Week.

In honor of this mysterious eclipse, we're offering you 33% off your Revelations Reading -- from learning what influences affect your personality to seeing how others perceive you, you'll begin to understand how you came to be the person you are today.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

One more for the Stupid Crime File

Add this to the Rahway NJ Stupid Crime File:
A 53-year-old city man was charged after scuffling with officers who tried to arrested him on drug charges, police said yesterday.

Eddie McClary of Park Street was riding a motorized scooter the wrong way on East Cherry Street, a one-way street, shortly after 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Lt. Kevin Sherwood said.

Officers stopped McClary near the intersection of West Milton Avenue and Broad Street. As he was being questioned, McClary tried to discard a bottle that contained what was later determined to be heroin, Sherwood said.

East Cherry is downtown near the police station. The guy also probably got summonses for an unregistered motor vehicle & reckless driving. Previous entries in the Rahway Stupid Crime File include: a local man who robbed a convenience store using his own car, then parked it in front of his house. & another convenience store robber who was chased & caught by the Rahway police bicycle patrol; & the kid who threw his drugs into Rahway River & then crawled up into the storm sewer system, so the cops called in the fire rescue unit, popped some manholes & waited until the kid encountered a few rats.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

'scuse my Latin

The online Latin/English translator translates habemus papam as government tutor.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Viva Il Papa! Hail Caesar!

The first week this blog existed in April 2003, I posted a quote by philosopher Nicolas Berdyaev, from his essay "Master, Slave and Free Man."
"It is slavery in everything; in the acquisition of knowledge, in morals, in religion, in art, in political & social life."
Berdyaev wrote this in order to expose a paradox: We all are totally, utterly free, & we use this freedom mainly to enslave ourselves & each other. Is he advocating chaos? Of course not. He is refusing to advocate slavery. In every institutional religion is some degree of absurd & unnecessary bondage. I saw slavery on display today in Rome; the Curse of Constantine, an emperor who embraced Christianity to win a crucial battle, & later moved the capitol of his empire to a new city on the Bosporus, leaving behind in Italy the structure of an orthodox Church. Freed from 300 years of persecution, this Church was already gathering to itself the power, pomp, & political structures of pagan Rome, which was the only model it had (other than the singular example of its founder). How strange to see that model not only surviving 1700 years later, but praised & embraced, as if there were still sense in 115 hand-picked princes choosing a King-for-Life to rule over one-billion subjects. Il Papa! indeed! The crowd could just as well have been shouting "Hail Caesar."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Happy Birthday, blog

First blog post was on April 18, 2003.
That I've kept it up for two years can be attributed to two things. First, I enjoy writing in short bites & much of what I"ve posted here I would have written anyway. Second, I'm a textbook A.C.A. & so I become doggedly attached to routines, projects, & goals that don't help me much; I have misplaced many loyalties in my life & this blog may well be an example. But like another writing project I pointlessly kept going, a weekly column for Worrall Newspapers back in the Nineties, I know I'm stockpiling a lot of words I would adapt to another context if I could figure out what that context is. Just as my taste in music was ideally suited to free form radio for many years, so my prose writing may be best presented (to myself if no one else) in a chronological form that includes - even showcases - all the digressions, asides, & non-sequiturs of the process.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

DNA to identify victims of wagon train cannibals

DNA to identify victims of wagon train cannibals - Sunday Times - Times Online:
John Harlow, Los Angeles
DNA tests being carried out on the remains of pioneers from a doomed Wild West wagon train may establish whether a Victorian gunsmith from Sheffield was eaten by fellow travellers.

John Dutton, 28, signed up with an 81-strong party led by George Donner, a prosperous farmer, that set off in April 1846 on a 2,500-mile trek from Springfield, Illinois, bound for San Francisco.

The pioneers came to grief in blizzards in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains the following winter and began to die of cold and starvation. The Donner Party, as the group is known, has become synonymous with disaster and despair to generations of American schoolchildren and has spawned memorials, films and even a musical.

Dutton volunteered to set off over the mountains on snowshoes as part of an expedition called the Forlorn Hope, but covered only a few hundred yards before his strength ran out. He is said to have sat down in the snow, lit his pipe and “died without complaint”.

The Forlorn Hope lived up to its name: lost in the snow and maddened by starvation, members drew lots to decide which of them would be killed and eaten so that the others might survive."

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Phone Call

I was unable to make a decision, yes or no. So my decision was to let the online Tarot decide. These two cards clinched the yes, by symbolically suggesting an alternative possibility I had not considered.

Wheel. The path of destiny. Karma on a grand scale. An unexpected turn of good fortune. A link in the chain of events. Success, luck, and happiness.

Sun reversed. Loneliness and uncertainty. Nostalgic memories. The warm passing glow of dusk. Peace without vigilance.

Friday, April 15, 2005

No sightings, but it's likely whale's still wandering in Delaware
State police marine troopers believe the 12-foot iceberg white beluga whale that has made the Delaware River its home away from home this week, is still meandering the waterway today, probably between Burlington and Trenton, but as of noon, there had been no reported sightings.

Whatever dream diner I was in last night, it was a long time ago. Because I was nursing a cup of coffee, waiting for something, & suddenly worried if I had a dollar in my wallet to cover the tab & the tip.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Wis. Governor Rejects Cat-Hunting Idea

When hunters ("outdoor enthusiasts") are the "conservation" activists, be prepared to sit down to a bowl of feral kitty gumbo.

MADISON, Wis. - A proposal to legalize the killing of feral cats is not going to succeed, Gov. Jim Doyle said Wednesday.

'I don't think Wisconsin should become known as a state where we shoot cats,' said Doyle, a Democrat who neither hunts nor owns a cat. 'What it does is sort of hold us up as a state that everybody is kind of laughing at right now.'

He told reporters his office had received calls from around the country denouncing a proposal adopted Monday at meetings of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, a public advisory group, that would classify wild, free-roaming cats as an unprotected species that kills song birds and other wildlife.

Outdoor enthusiasts approved the proposal 6,830 to 5,201 at Monday's spring hearings of the group."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Drawing from history

My Dad would be amused that I'm using Andrew J. Russell & Matthew Brady Civil War photos as sources for drawings in art class, & a few of these will actually be exhibited at Kean University next month. I drew from exercises in basic instruction books, then some simple still life arrangements. Tiring of that, I went to a book of Great Lakes lighthouses with nice color photos. But I just wasn't "seeing" like I see though a camera lense, & my experiments at outdoor sketching weren't helping (& it was cold). I wasn't giving the art teacher enough to help me with. I started using old Civil War photos, mostly simple views of rivers with bridges, with a few trees & bushes & a far shoreline, with wonderful washed out tones in contrasts & perspectives that I could grasp. I sketch them out quickly with a hard pencil & spend the rest of the class time figuring out what's happening in them. The teacher is always leaning on me to use greater contrast; I'm loose enough with the pencil but too cautious when it's time for the 8B softy. I'm getting the hang of it, & soon I'll incorporate charcoals; I like the roughness & smudging. My most recent outdoor sketching attempt was definitely an improvement. My main goal is to sharpen my visual senses; good for photos & poems.

Dad's occasional art was far more precise - he had an engineering background & not much patience for fine art or observing nature - he designed things, & he did one nice pen & watercolor of a Civil War soldier with authentic uniform & equipment - not too good with the face though - that he liked enough to frame & hang in his home office. Later, he switched to the Revolutionary period & became a re-enactor, with costume & working cannon. His approach to history didn't get much attention from me when he was alive (except the cannon), but I was coming at it from another direction, through literature & what used to be "alternative" or parallel histories of the United States: African-American, human rights, & cultural, rather than economics (which talked more of cotton than chattel slavery) & the battlefield. The latter was Dad's thing. I did always appreciate the old photos; stark portraits of the death, destruction, & ruined beauty that a generation long dead experienced. "The real war," Walt Whitman correctly observed, "will never get in the books." But there is no war in my drawings. No battlements, no people. Only rivers flowing beneath bridges that no longer exist.

Monday, April 11, 2005

"I still live on the fantasy income from those summers spent with my grandmother."
Federico Fellini (1994)

Friday, April 08, 2005

The art supply store in the strip mall

Went to Pearl Arts & Crafts store yesterday, bought a couple of sketch pads & charcoal pencils. Am I an artist now? But it's sad to go there. I worked at Pearl for four years full time, which was usually tolerable. I could wear sneakers, jeans & flannel shirts, & carry a cup of coffee around. Then two part-time stints, each about a year, that I enjoyed, rebuilding & running the book dept. The store changed owners a few years ago & now it's neat & organized & dull. Long time employees were fired or quit or grew up, & the personality of the store changed; no more pierced goth girls at the customer service counter, neo- hippies building elaborate holiday displays in the craft area, long-hair rock musicians driving pallet jacks in the warehouse, goateed commerical graphic students explaining air brushes, or spacy fine arts undergrads in the paper & paint sections. In the 90's, young Pearl employees boasted that it was the only store in the strip mall that did not require drug testing - but break time pot smoking was all they did. Customers - including many excellent professional artists & crafters - never knew if the employees would be rude or gregarious, informed or infuriatingly ignorant about products.

Pearl was a buzzin' little oddball community with a spirit existing independently of a management that did nothing to encourage loyalty & pride in the workplace anyway. The store hired people of all ages who
for various reasons wouldn't or couldn't be employed under more structured & closely supervised conditions. Pearl was unobtrusively tucked away behind a Red Lobster & between a Toys R Us & a discount carpet outlet on Mall Alley, a wasteland of middle class over-development along Jersey's share of old U.S. Route One. The store was a disaster when I started in 1991; atrociously managed, uncontrolled theft, unbelievable fire & OSHA code violations; some guys in the drafting supply area even watched porn on a monitor set up for promotional videos. But I enjoyed my younger cuckoo bird co-workers. & the store slowly improved without losing its offbeat qualities - a unique blend of India bazaar, boardwalk souvenir shop, & art supply supermarket. It's all gone now.

When I quit for the third time in 2000 over being denied a raise, leaving a large, eclectic book department that reflected my personality, several retail generations of these "kids" had known me as "Bob from Books." A number of them had been at the store all along, from high school through college, providing a continuity to my time there. I'd observed their changing fashions & tastes. I'd watched them form bands, play local bars & clubs, & break up to form new groups. I'd followed their soap operas of doomed in-store adolescent romances, & attended several weddings. Nearly all of them respected me because I was open-minded about what they liked & did while remaining true to my own ideas; I respected each of them as persons. & they were often surprised - at first- when I ordered a special book or print that reflected something they were interested in. It was my quiet way of being a teacher; that & never saying "no" to whatever creative ideas or dreams were shared with me. Pearl was a very good gig some days.
I shot this photo from the parking lot in front of Pearl.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

How long would you stand in line for a dead pope?

Does one wait in line for 24 hours to have a 30 second glimpse of a dead pope merely out of respect? Of course not. The unspoken reason, which is superstitious & not openly endorsed by the Roman Church in this instance, is that such an effort constitutes a penitential pilgrimage that in some way ameliorates or removes altogether an unspecified number of sins, particularly those sins one does not recall committing. There are also the teenagers who get in line for a few hours then leave simply because it is an extraordinary, exciting "event."

The retail system of buying or bargaining salvation touched off the protestant reformation. This hypothetically includes not only the sale & purchase of indulgences (the Roman Church in response to Luther suppressed the practice), but also all sacramental & apparent attempts at negotiation with God (e.g. buying flowers for the altar, inviting clergy to the country club for a round of golf, extreme self-mortifications like giving up ice cream for Lent, viewing a fuzzy image vaguely resembling Virgin Mary on a window in Perth Amboy New Jersey, signing over one's estate to a slick televangelist, defending or castigating Bernard Law, boycotting Disneyworld for allowing "Gay Day,"
dispassionately rooting for the Liberty College women's basketball team, voting for Republicans).

Monday, April 04, 2005

All the Toys Go Cha Cha Cha

My Monday WFMU radio program. Listen as I misannounce songs, say a living jazz singer is dead, get years wrong, & try to read from tiny CD liner notes. In other words, another typically excellent free form show. Includes one of my all-time fav pop songs.
The staff of the [Newark] Star-Ledger won a Pulitzer Prize in the "Breaking News" category for "its comprehensive, clear-headed coverage of the resignation of New Jersey’s governor after he announced he was gay and confessed to adultery with a male lover." The McGreevey Scandal. The arts & letters prizes were laughably predictable.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Like many people, I turned the other clocks ahead last night (pc changed itself) but didn't go to sleep & had trouble getting my butt moving today. Finally went up the street for coffee late afternoon. Gray day. Things are growing - tree buds covering the sidewalks, tiny leaves on forsythia, crocuses, a daffodil in a sunny spot, horny-bird music. Although there are more migrating songbirds in this neighborhood than where I lived in Rahway, there's less early morning spring cacaphony. On Irving St. by the river the birds - sparrows mostly - started up around 4 am (DST) for a false dawn I'm convinced they sense but we can't see due to light pollution, then they shut up for awhile, & began chirping in earnest at the start of dawn twilight, about half an hour before actual sunrise. This noise would wake me up when the windows were open.

"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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