Thursday, September 29, 2005
and God save the Queen she ain't no human bein'
Tony Blair: Prime minister, Labour leader, punk icon.
"It sounds unlikely but how else could you explain Mr Blair's choice of walk-on music for his big party conference speech on Tuesday? Not the vaguely uplifting soft rock anthem normally chosen for these occasions, something by The Lighthouse Family, perhaps, or U2, but the sound of angry young London circa 1978: Sham 69."
Ronald Reagan's '84 campaign strangely tried to use Born In the U.S.A. (Springsteen stopped that fast) which has these uplifting morning-again-in-America lyrics about my Jersey neighborhood:
Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years down the road
Nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go
I'm a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
& most of September without a single cool breezy night,
the kind that shakes leaves loose, strums the tall dry weeds,
pushes the warmth out of the outside walls,
slows the chirping of crickets, bringing to mind images of jack-o-lanterns,
the oranges & browns of October & the first frosted marigolds,
& even premonitions of gray December,
put the comforter back on the couch.
fold it up tomorrow.
Summer gave us every possible hour & then some.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Bob Dylan: "Just Suck Your Glasses"*
Young Dylan clearly loved working with a band behind him. He was the leader & frontman, it was his band, his songs, he had the spotlight, yet it all sounded so loosely collaborative. It comes across even on the Nashville studio Blonde On Blonde recordings. The live performances are a treasure. This was magic of the highest order. Only a handful of artists & records of all the many thousands I have heard reach that lofty a category. Allen Ginsberg accurately called him a shaman, describing a "column of air" completely focused on breath.
Even as I became uninterested in Bob's later recordings, he held on to my respect. Music traveled on & so did I. Whether or not he wanted to put all of himself into it again was his business & his decision. I assumed he was doing what he was moved to do. Nor did I expect him to explain himself in whatever way it was people kept demanding from him. Because, naively perhaps, I've always thought of him as a friend I met as a teenager. He spoke to me, it wasn't necessary that he also speak for me. I write my own words. The cypher qualities of his art & personality didn't put me off, & they still don't. They didn't put off Martin Scorsese, either.
Fine old poets are uncommon. Poets go crazy. They commit various forms of suicide. They find they prefer growing roses in the backyard. They get paid for showing up somewhere at a certain time & everyone applauds. They become prosaic reactionaries trying to pass themselves off as honest journalists. One can hardly bring oneself to blame them. A few poets keep working at it right to the end.
* Photographer's request for a pose.
Steven Hart takes a balanced look at the documentary at Salon.com
Monday, September 26, 2005
What happened to the young woman is sad & regrettable. We have a long way to go. But I hope her parents don't fight the decision. Better to shake the dust of that place from one's sandals & go. I want those unenlightened Episcopalians & their school to be separate & apart: They represent something old & disreputable that will eventually shrivel away & disappear. That is my faith.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Our Lady Star of the Sea, Atlantic City
Friday, September 23, 2005
No new gay priests (but you can stay, Your Eminence)
I knew very well a Catholic woman who was let's say unusually impressed by the priestly collar. Her deeper fantasies alternated between tall, intellectual Jesuits & randy pirates. If they could play tenor sax, all the better. There's still women like her in the pews, raised strictly to respect priests as fatherly authority figures - stronger authorities in important ways than their own fathers, who deferred to priests & needed the sacramental powers that were dispensed by this higher order of men in black. When these women are intelligent & educated, it's easy to understand why priests fall in love with & marry them. (A good argument for allowing married priests.)
The Roman Church has determined that the best way to restore itself is by pushing the rewind button. It's quite interesting to watch the movie Boys Town (1938), particularly the peculiar character of Dave Morris, pawnbroker pal of Father Flanagan. Now, if they can only find Father "Chuck" O'Malley. Better fey than gay?
Meet a real priest who was both gay & celibate, & a very great person who even after his death continues to prove that love unifies.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
A Poet's Laurel Wreath for Sharon Olds
I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentation at the National Book Festival on September 24, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the breakfast at the White House. (The rest of her excellent letter is here)
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
BAGnewsNotes analyzes photos from the Katrina Prayer Day service at Washington National Cathedral as a White House attempt to "spiritually reframe" the disaster.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I'm not bothered that mice & voles move invisibly all around me in the outside world, but indoors they freak me out. I don't know one is here unless I see it, hear it, or find it stuck to a glue trap. Fortunately, they have been very infrequent visitors (knock on wood). Yesterday I heard a mouse scratching behind my makeshift CD shelves, so I moved enough stuff around there to be sure it had run, probably to the radiator by a front window - the place they seem to enter from no matter what I tape up. Now I was on guard. Later, while here at the PC, a movement caught my eye - it was a little dark gray mouse advancing cautiously across open floor between radiator & me. If I had a cat, the mouse would have had only seconds to live at that point. I chased the mouse back under the radiator, noticed another possible floor crack entry & taped that up, Then I arranged glue traps around the radiator in an unpredictable (to a mouse) way. I don't use baited live or snap traps because I want the mice to stay away, not be attracted.
At four a.m. (an active mouse hour), as I was about to shut down the PC, I heard - over the Russian classical music in my headphones - the telltale squeak a mouse makes when it is hopelessly stuck. It was the little gray mouse - lucky for it & for me, since they are doomed by their struggle if mired for more than an hour or two. I put on my sneakers, got a small bottle of vegetable oil, picked up the trap, carried it & the mouse outside & up the street a few yards, drenched the critter in oil & shook the trap until it fell/slid into a pile of leaves. Of the six mice I've trapped over the past year, three got out alive. & when I catch one, there's another soon to follow, & then hopefully there's none for while.
Telling others about this, the yuck & eeeeuuwww reactions come from apt dwellers & antiseptic suburbanites. People living near parks, fields & woods have to fight mice, ants, chipmunks, squirrels, hornets, wasps, & other critters year round according to season, & most of these folks take a dead or alive preferably dead attitude. In their wars, the second thoughts of human sentiment are as useful as Gen. George Patton worrying about German soldiers having clean socks.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Beach Blanket Bingo, New Millennium Edition
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Post-modern sounds in country & western music
Friday, September 16, 2005
The Great New Society Deal
"So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday and let us rise above the legacy of inequality." Who is this guy? Is he also possessed by the spirit of Lyndon Johnson circa 1964? You have to pardon me if I have doubts. Only a small portion of the President's core political base was hurt by the hurricane, & not everyone can get a job with Halliburton. It won't be long before the Republicans are jawing about more tax cuts for the rich folks at home & griping over the expense of rebuilding a Democratic city in a swing state they may not need to win in 2008, & the Christian mullahs demanding Jehovah Not Jazz in the Ruins of their American Sodom. & if lame duck President Bush (& Dick Cheney looking forward to a Chesapeake Bay retirement) cannot maintain the will to buck that resistance, because he doesn't really believe in what he's being forced to do, will we be surprised?
We can look forward to a great 2006 Mardi Gras. The problem might be holding down the number of people who want to help the recovery by traveling to New Orleans from all over the world & partying as hard as they can. All the Bush Family kids are gonna do their part.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Secure & Lock Down the McNuggets
Richard H. Ebright, a Rutgers University microbiologist, on the disappearance of three Bubonic Plague infected mice from the Public Health Research Institute, Newark NJ.
Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs
So you better do what you know you must
I got a lock of your hair and a bullfrog's eye
And if you break my heart you better say "Goodbye"
I got a yoka mata huba bakwa Juju Hand
This yoka mata huba bakwa sure is grand
Makes your eyes turn red and your tongue turn green
It's the strongest mess that you've ever seen
Mojo hand used to be real strong
It kept you straight when you did me wrong
As time went by you just got so mean
But the yoka mata huba bakwa is the thing
I've got a yoka mata huba bakwa Juju Hand
This yoka mata huba bakwa sure is grand
Makes your eyes look red and your tongue turn green
The yoka mata huba bakwa makes you scream
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Boardwalk Empire by Nelson Johnson. "The birth, high times, and corruption of Atlantic City." Mainly for central chapters on three of Jersey's most infamous, powerful & successful "pay-to-play" political bosses (all Republicans); Louis "the Commodore" Kuehnle, Enoch "Nucky" Johnson, & Frank "Hap" Farley.
Nightmare Town by Dashiell Hammett. Mostly early stories from Black Mask magazine, most of which are new to me. In the title piece, the "hero" unwittingly lands in a town in the Nevada desert that could have been modeled on how Atlantic City conducted municipal business.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Today is my Virgoan sister's birthday. One year she threw a party for herself, hired a clown, invlted the neighborhood kids. Grownups couldn't attend unless accompanied by a child.
Monday, September 12, 2005
"This week, we all saw it; and so did the rest of the world.
And it made Americans feel both compassionate and ashamed."
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Saturday, September 10, 2005
The Next Great Storm
I recalled a spring day about two decades ago,
I was almost trapped on Sandy Hook when the rising tide began
bringing ocean breakers & bay water together at the narrow
southern neck, Route 36 to Sea Bright already flooded as waves
pounded against the high rock wall.
Wildwood has the widest beaches on the Jersey coast but they are
extremely flat; I remembered a gray August day, a hurricane
spinning away over a hundred miles offshore, the entire beach to
the boardwalk covered with about 6 inches of water.
A storm surge surely would have flooded large sections
of the city itself.
At Point Pleasant Beach, a raw, windy saturday evening,
great surf, a huge wave suddenly crashing in, chasing me
& about 50 other onlookers nearly all way back to the boardwalk
as the foaming water churned toward us across dry sand.
I remembered, as I often do, visiting Atlantic City a week
after the "Ash Wednesday Storm" of March 1962, a stalled
northeaster that wrecked hundreds of miles of coast & nearly
wiped out Long Beach Island. Pacific Ave. in front of my
grandmother's place was packed with debris, TV sets mixed
with the splintered wood. Long sections of the boardwalk were
torn up, the midsection of Steel Pier gone, an apartment building
on Absecon Inlet half collapsed, toilets & bathtubs
sticking out, colorful wallpaper waving in the breeze,
made an unforgettable impression on a 13 year old. That summer,
hearing my father's reaction to new construction as we drove
through Longport; "That's crazy." By no stretch was dad an
environmentalist. You had to fix the boardwalks, he said,
but don't rebuild the private homes, don't put houses on beaches,
don't fill in any more marshes. He'd been around the shore
all his life & he'd seen enough destruction. It had happened
before & sooner or later it would happen again. He was a true
conservative: Stop throwing good money after bad. But those
houses on sand have survived for over 40 years. The next
great storm is overdue.
Jersey shore can break your heart. Not just the development
but that so much of it is by & for wealthy people who tear down
modest old shingled houses & plant large McCottages in their place..
Beachfront condo construction that literally cuts off the ocean view
& the sea breezes from families who have lived there for decades.
& the long stretches of dredge-&-fill beaches, courtesy of the
Army Corps of Engineers & taxpayer dollars; true, these offer
a buffer against storms, but it takes some doing to plant one's own
umbrella & blanket on them; many are in effect private strands.
Ocean levels have been rising since the last ice age. No matter what
the cause, we're into a more active storm cycle. But we're humans.
we'll never sound retreat. We want the government to butt out
when we're driving in pilings for new building & yet we expect
subsidized flood insurance for all. Come on storms, do your worst,
we'll be back with our decks, chaise lounges & cocktails.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Emily Messner at Washington Post looks at the rules & regulations; "who had the power to do what" when a State of Emergency was declared.
Facts and Rumors: Federal Power in a State of Emergency
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
"Crisis on the Coast"
Part One Along the water, disasters waiting for their moment
Part Two Amid a fury of construction, a grace of hurricane quiet
Part Three Uncle Sam, insurer of first resort
Part Four A flawed program facilitates building in hazardous areas
Part Five In defense of Jersey's shores
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Bob Denver (1935-2005)
A few years ago as a goof I submitted a few rhymed verses about Krebs to the Bad Poetry Contest at Maynard's Coffeehouse on the Bob Denver website, & won an autographed copy of Gilligan, Maynard & Me!
"Our Cuban Institute of Meteorology is one pillar of our prevention system. We have 7 radars that cover the whole country and are linked to the main meteorological satellites. Our institute was designed by the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR); it functions as part of the WMO and the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami for hurricanes issues.
Civil Defence is another pillar. It mobilizes people and organizes the measures that will be taken at the local level. 48 hours a hurricane approaches, all the local heads of provinces and municipalities implement the emergency plan and organize a massive evacuation. Schools and other buildings are converted into shelters. The vulnerable population is specially taking care of. Committees know who is at risk and needs assistance or special help. During the hurricane, everybody has a specific role to play and acts accordingly. Thanks to the reaction of the people, we can evacuate 100,000 people in less than 3 hours."
Jose Rubiera, director of the Centro Nacional de pronosticos del Instituto de Meteorologia de Cuba and the weather forecaster for the main Cuban TV channel.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
to tweak his style toward my tastes, indulging myself a bit
while hopefully keeping his large regular audience contented
on a beautiful late summer afternoon. But it was bad news week,
so I wanted to get that behind me by playing upfront a 1/2 hour of
New Orleans stuff. But almost subconsciously - given how I set up
free form shows to allow some spontaneity - the storm seemed to
keep popping up in song titles: Morning Rain, Rain Day Women,
Where Were You When I Needed You, Pumping My Heart, Ray-O-Vac,
I'm Stranded, Let's Submerge, even a happy summer song, Shambala
has "wash away my trouble, wash away my pain". A few of these
songs have been in my notebook backlist for months, some were spot
choices. Usually, I'm very glad when I find these threads & themes
afterward in my programs - It means I was operating on a deeper
creative level, but I wish I'd tried more today to keep them out.
I can't fault the songs themselves. It's impossible to really forget;
New Orleans is at the heart of American music. I finally surrendered
in my way, in the two closing selections.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Traveled via train to Point Pleasant Beach yesterday, not so enjoyable as last Friday's trip but better than staying home. NJ Transit schedules an extra train from Newark on 9/2, that train broke down & the passengers got on my train along with the holiday/commuter crowd & I stood in the vestibule all the way to Long Branch where I had to make the "Long Branch Dash" across the platform to the Bay Head Local for a seat, ending up next to a dull couple who discussed hormonal research all the way to Spring Lake, a pretty town nearly as dull they were. If they stayed on the train two more stops they could've gone to Martell's Tiki Bar, a fav of guidos & guidettes that's usually thick with hormonal excretions. More about Point Pleasant Beach & boardwalk later...
At this point every possible take on Katrina/NOLA/Biloxi is being spit out across blogdom. I've tried to work through a what if scenario that places President Bush - or any president - on Air Force One rushing back to D.C. about 9 pm last Sunday, when I posted a GEOS satellite photo on this blog so alarming (along with ocean buoy & coastal station feeds) that I was unable to write anything about it. He then spends most of Monday in the crisis room kicking ass & being, well, competently presidential.
Friday, September 02, 2005
A fitting test for this cowboy President would be to drop him off on Fats Domino's roof with a promise to pick him up in Houston.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Update: DJ Dave The Spazz reports Fats was seen at Superdome, but Alex Chilton & Ernie K. Doe's widow are still unaccounted for.
From Roger Friedman at Fox News
Antoine "Fats" Domino, has not been heard from since Monday afternoon. Domino, 76, lives with his wife Rosemary and daughter in a three-story pink-roofed house in New Orleans’ 9th ward, which is now under water.On Monday afternoon, Domino told his manager, Al Embry of Nashville, that he would “ride out the storm” at home. Embry is now frantic.
Also not heard from by friends through last night: New Orleans’s “Queen of Soul” Irma Thomas, who was the original singer of what became the Rolling Stones’ hit, “Time is On My Side.”
Last night, Allen Toussaint was one of the 25,000 people holed up at the New Orleans Superdome hoping to get on a bus for Houston’s Astrodome. I know this because he got a message out to his daughter, who relayed to it through friends.