Monday, August 31, 2009

Almost lost my Homestead websites because I forgot tlo update the info for the automatic yearlty fee. All of those websites need overhauls using updated software, & they don't get much traffic. But I'm attached to them. I built the first of them a decade ago when they were free. Lots of cool stuff was free before the initial internet bubble burst. I used free ISPs for awhile & put up with the huge banner ads. My next online writing collection uses a blogspot template.
How come men in beach volleyball wear baggies but women have to wear bikinis & sports bras? So of course the women all have California beach girl bods with thin legs & tiny asses (I'm not complaining). But what if a woman with Serena Williams' physique takes up the sport? Seems to me a tennis player has about the same basic skills needed in beach volleyball. Serena can move quickly in all directions, jump, dive, block, slam, & serve. Her thighs could crack a coconut. Serena & Venus could probably be one the greatest beach volleyboard teams in the world.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Atlantic City NJ

Steel & Steeplechase Piers, Atlantic City boardwalk.
During my early adolescence, I stayed the week or two before Labor Day with my grandmother (& the week after Easter, & sometimes a week in late June & the week after Christmas). She lived on Pacific Ave. a block from the ocean, not far from Convention Hall & Million Dollar Pier. The Steel Pier was a hike.
Atlantic City boardwalk looked a lot better at night than it did in daylight. All boardwalks do. A.C. was shabby, but the boardwalk was still enough of a magnet to attract vacationers from beach towns up & down the coast, & it was crowded & lively on summer evenings.
One year, my visit corresponded with the Miss America Pageant. Another year, I wandered around the Democratic National Convention, but was ordered home by my parents the day before The Beatles came to town.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Warrior

Long-winded speakers at Ted's memorial Friday evening. Former Iowa Senator John Culver sounded like he'd been hitting the Jameson's, with his crazy story of sailing with Ted when they were classmates at Harvard. John Kerry reminded us why he narrowly lost the election in 2004, a numbing speechifier. John McCain gave the impression he really wasn't an intimate friend, unless he & Ted had been boozing, womanizing pals before Ted sobered up with Vicki. But Orrin Hatch, clean-living Mormon, did have a peculiar, special relationship. Carolyn Kennedy Schlossberg delivered the most coherent & well-crafted, if not the most interesting, testimonial, with a beginning, middle, ending. I was very impressed with the improvised fills of the off-camera pianist as the chorus filed on & off stage. Boston Community Chorus got off to a rough start on "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," but you could hear them pull it together, by the end they were so rocking they couldn't stop. Was Joan Kennedy short-changed? She is the mother of Ted's children, & she is surely grieving, too.

It was Vicki who saved Ted's butt; their relationship is profiled in a New York Times piece, "Kennedy's closest confidante." Recall Ted's condition & situation in 1991, the dissolute, aging playboy of the Palm Beach scandal; a famous politician apparently approaching the functional end of a long career, inviting election defeat if he couldn't straighten up. & there was no reason at the time to believe he would.

Here's the complete text, prefaced by William Wordsworth's own commentary, of Character of the Happy Warrior, quoted by President Obama at the funeral mass. Far from Wordsworth's best, the old poet tries to distance the 1806 poem from British Naval hero Lord Nelson, with whom it had become connected in the public perception.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 28, 2009

I don't recall if I voted for Jimmy Carter or Ted Kennedy in the 1980 presidential primary, or if I even voted. Probably not. Carter had the nomination wrapped up by then. My views corresponded more with Kennedy, but I wasn't an admirer of his at the time; hewas then hardly the senate statesman he subsequently became. Carter's presidency was a disappointment, the Iranian hostage crisis - featured nightly on Ted Koppel's Nightmare news program - was battering his approval ratings. But from Carter to Clinton to John Edwards I've been a sucker for New South & border state Democrats with populist messages. They're never as liberal or as tough as I hope they'll be. It's my Harry Truman hangup. I didn't blame Ted Kennedy for Carter's defeat. Carter managed that on his own. What did he gain by not being more liberal, like Ted Kennedy? Obama should think about that.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Senator Edward Kennedy. His absence from the health care debate this summer, one of Kennedy's signature concerns throughout his long career, was unfortunate. Ted always reminded me why & how I had become a liberal; mainly human rights, & the unfinished business of a progressive Democratic president I knew only from history books & old newsreels, Franklin Roosevelt.

Lefty: Gina's quietest cat, put to sleep this morning. Deaf or nearly so, Lefty always had serious health problems. When I'd arrive to open the cans, Lefty would wander into the kitchen, take any available dish, eat any flavor, then curl up somewhere & sleep. In the winter it was usually a cushion in front of a radiator, but she might be anywhere; on top of a cardboard box, on a dining room chair, I'd hear her snoring. Occasionally, she'd surprise me by playing with another cat. She was unobtrusive, gentle, with an undemanding temperament. I didn't try to force a relationship with her, just gave her a little scritch now & again, she always seemed content enough going her own way.

Ellie Greenwich: Co-composer of brilliant pop mini-dramas with awesome sing-a-along hooks, some of them quite silly; but, taken together, they spoke to & for suburban & working class white boomer teens of the early to mid-Sixties, often passionately. Many of Ellie's most enduring songs are like chants for jumping rope. My personal fav is probably "I Can Hear Music," swell versions by The Ronettes & The Beach Boys.
I can hear music
I can hear music
The sound of the city, baby, seems to disappear
I can hear music
Sweet sweet music
Whenever you touch me, baby
Whenever you're near
Set to a wonderful melody, write it in chalk on the sidewalk.

One of the reasons I loved British bands like The Animals & The Rolling Stones as a teenager was because they admired ( & recorded) the New York Brill Building pop of songwriters like Ellie Greenwich, but understood rock & roll needed to get back to its blues, rockabilly, & live band roots. We laugh now at "Leader of the Pack," & consider it a classic, but I disliked it when it was a hit; for me it was the epitome of packaged novelty pop, redeemed only by the Shangri-Las, who performed it like nonfiction. It was also Ellie's third #1 song in 1964, the Year of The Beatles, & the other two - "Chapel of Love" by the Dixie Cups & "Doo Wah Diddy" by Manfred Mann - were pretty damned good.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Barack H Obama School

Asbury Park considers renaming elementary school

If the board votes Wednesday night to change the name of Bangs Avenue School to Barack H. Obama School, Asbury Park would become one of the first communities in New Jersey and the nation to take action so soon into the president's administration.

"I'm so glad this is coming to a head finally," said Greg Hopson, the board's vice president. "This goes hand-in-hand with our new motto: 'embracing change.' Change is happening. Change is inevitable."

For a city that for decades has been mired in stagnation and decay, change is a big deal. Eager to shed its reputation as a crime-ridden waste of prime oceanfront real estate in Monmouth County, Asbury Park is starting to attract large numbers of tourists again as a massive redevelopment project on the east side slowly takes hold.

But like most of the west side neighborhood where it's located, the Bangs Avenue School has not experienced the resurgence seen along the oceanfront. The school's population is primarily black and Hispanic. Many of the 440 children in grades pre-K-5 are poor and come from broken homes
Built in 1912, Bangs Avenue School was segregated early on but was integrated in the mid-1940s, long before other schools in New Jersey. But [Myra] Campbell said that in her view, Nathan Bangs lost some historical significance after she learned he was part of a committee of Methodist ministers working to oppose the abolition of slavery.
There's a boardwalk town solution: Give the arcade the fresh coat of paint but inside it's the same old prizes.

Also seems premature.

Asbury Park was always a city divided by railroad tracks, an east side & a west side.

Plainfield has a Barack Obama alternative high School for "at risk" students, meaning it basically achieves the positive goal of removing some of the most sociopathic teenage gangbangers from the general high school population until they can be expelled or sent to jail. Does Asbury Park have one of those schools yet?

Elizabeth has a Ronald Reagan Academy, established three years ago, supposedly a higher academic standards public grammar school, with a longer school day & required uniforms. Why Ronald Reagan represents higher academic standards or what he did to help urban schools are mysteries to me, but if his selective academy achieves test results anywhere near what Jersey's suburban schools routinely average, it serves its purpose. If I was raising children here they'd be attending a Catholic School in another town, no disrespect intended toward our public school teachers.

I'd advise Asbury Park to hold off & concentrate on improving what's inside the schools. Anyway, it isn't like President Obama went from 'hood to White House. He attended an elite private high school in Hawaii guaranteed to make any Jersey public school kid envious. There are plenty of African-Americans deserving of having their names on schools, although who they are & why they inspire might need to be explained to kids. Too many of those kids are impressed only by wealthy musicians & athletes, & by the local criminals perversely filling the bleak empty spaces in the lives of fatherless youths.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Had I thought much on it (& I can't say I did), I would've figured Obama to manage a campaign for comprehensive health care reform much the same way he managed his campaign for president. He'd have the plan under wraps; a strategy; line up some support from key Democratic heavy lifters - congress & governors, & health care professionals; have defenses prepared for a variety of inevitable attacks, nearly all of which were tactically foreseeable; distill a populist, easy-to-understand message for selling it based on essential virtues of the plan; confidently unwrap the package all at once, so enthusing his base of "change" supporters that its passage appeared inevitable - even if it wasn't. Of course, it would be compromised & negotiated, but core elements of the plan would be untouchable. Make the pitch quickly with some high profile trips & speeches, then take the wife & kids on vacation & let the team fight it out for awhile.

The complexities demanded a simple overview average people could grasp: this happens here & that happens there, & this is the improved result: everyone is covered one way or another, there's finally real competition to control costs.

Then, as Distributorcap wrote:
If the GOP doesn't like it, let them filibuster - that is their constitutional right (80 votes is not). Bring in the coffee, pizza, cots and tapes of Debbie Does Dallas let them have a slumber party in the Senate chambers. And if any Democrat finds the bill distasteful and wants to go public with their criticism (which is their right) - don't threaten but make it clear there will be no support for them for their bills and their re-election. You must, must, must play hardball.
That's part of DCap's strategy for retrenching & reintroducing health care reform. But this was Obama's I'm a Democrat moment. Because it was impossible, with the current uber-right composition of Repugs, to make it a bipartisan initiative. There's nobody remaining in the Repug party on the national stage who supports moderately progressive reform in anything - not even in the financial sector, much less health care. There's no "moderates" on that side of the aisle with any power. You'd think Obama would've had it proven to him by now.

The economy stumbles along while bankers are ready to order the new luxury yachts they postponed a year ago. "Piss on us some more," say Americans to Wall Street & the insurance companies, "it's our Constitutional right."

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Triple Play

If you're a Mets fan you can only laugh. Behind 6-zip after 1/2 inning on atrocious pitching of Ollie Perez, another one of the Mets' head cases, in the bottom of the 9th, down 9-7, they had guys on first & second, nobody out, & Jeff Francoeur hits into an unassisted triple play to end the game. Now that's amazin'. In losing the game, Mets fans were treated to one of the rarest plays in baseball - only 15 unassisted triple plays & only 2 to end game in entire verifiable history of major league ball. & it wasn't even an exciting play, happening so fast neither fans nor Phillies 2nd baseman Eric Bruntlett immediately grasped what had occurred. If you were at Citi Field today & true blue enough to have stayed to the end of the game, you got your money's worth & then some. An inside-the-park home run, a diving highlights film catch by Francoeur, then the triple play. I'll take those gladly rather than a win.

Yesterday, the 1969 Miracle Mets World Series champs were honored. A team without superstars (the season made Tom Seaver into one), platooning at four positions, nobody figured they were seriously in contention until late August. They were only a few years past being the most inept team of all time - the Lovable Losers of 1962. The '69 Mets were perhaps the most selfless team to win a World Series, & they did so convincingly against the powerful Baltimore Orioles. It was quite a year in New York sports. The Jets won Superbowl III in January against the Baltimore Colts, & the Knicks made it to the second round of the playoffs with the great team that would win the NBA title in 1970. But it was 40 years ago, & I doubt many of the names resonated with younger fans. They hardly did with me - I wasn't paying attention to baseball in 1969.

Labels: ,

Wildwood NJ

Wildwood & North Wildwood, card dated 1975.
The beach is now much wider by the piers & narrows north by Hereford Inlet.
The best beach I know in Jersey is at the Inlet, a constantly changing place of sandbars & shallow tidal pools.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why blogging is good

Joseph Stella The Virgin 1926
By giving credit for your life experience and current spiritual work, the Esoteric Theological Seminary offers you a Doctorate degree in Divinity or Theology, thus enabling you to immediately expand your spiritual horizons to spiritually counsel and/or teach others.

Legally attach Dr. to your name, enhance your pastoral counseling or spiritual healing practice with this respected religious degree. You decide on your focus, based on your spirituality or religious preference.

When you receive a degree, you gain leverage in the field yes, but more importantly you inspire confidence in your clients, the spiritual seekers who come to you for guidance and enrichment.

Esoteric Theological Center

An entertaining website, found it searching for Joseph Stella paintings. Olde ETS, "when I was back in seminary school...." saith Jim Morrison to start one of The Doors' later & lesser epics.

Why not Dr. of Esoteric Religion? Good for the religion biz. The most bullshit Christian preachers often have Dr. harnessed to their names, the mule of the name, doing most of the work. I'm sure you can think of a few. Or Bishop, a title the bearer always had to pull strings to get, protestant & Catholic. Bishops are a good old boys club. They're uncomfortable with women & uncomfortable with gays, & a lesbian bishop would make them most uncomfortable of all.

Bishop Harry Jackson. He lives in the big house up the hill there.

The first Stella painting I saw in person was Voice of the City of New York Interpreted, a huge five panel wonderment at The Newark Museum, the best art museum in New Jersey, really an outpost of New York City. More Stella at Brooklyn Musem. I found a Stella long ago at Phoenix Art Museum, on a 100 degree afternoon. Strange painter, but he did what he pleased, which is never a simple thing for an artist.

Blogging is good because one can do what one pleases!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Clinton Avenue Five

Thirty-one years ago
five teenage boys vanished after playing basketball in Newark, N.J. They were never heard from again.

Their remains were never found, Social Security numbers never used -- and no arrests have ever been made. But the community has never forgotten its tragic loss.

Melvin Pittman, 17, Randy Johnson, 16, Ernest Taylor, 17, Alvin Turner, 16, and Michael McDowell, 16, who have become known as "The Clinton Avenue Five," vanished Aug. 20, 1978.
In May, Newark PD was hinting around they might be on to something, but since then, nothing.


Two years for idiocy

NEW YORK -- Former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress pleaded guilty Thursday to a weapons charge and agreed to a two-year prison term for accidentally shooting himself at a Manhattan nightclub.

The ex-wide receiver pleaded guilty to one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon, a lesser charge than he initially faced. Under a plea agreement, he agreed to a two-year prison sentence and two years of supervised release.

Burress was indicted earlier this month on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment. He faced a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years if convicted at a trial

I know the law is the law. But what do we gain by sending this talented fool to prison instead of using his fame & shame for community service against illegal weapons & gun violence? Do we have to make an example of him & ruin him? He's been doing a pretty good job of ruining himself the past few years, & maybe this was a chance to get straight. I doubt this sentence deters anyone. Instead of warehousing him, we could have him working with kids, as a big brother, giving free football instruction clinics, traveling around to schools. His message: I had it all & I was an idiot. & order him to get counseling. & take away his driver's license. & make him stay home when he's not doing something he's supposed to be doing.

Mandatory sentencing mainly seems to have the effect of filling up prisons with young, anonymous black men who receive an advanced education in criminality, & here the law bagged a celebrity.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stuck inside of Philly

What is the meaning of a dream where I can't get out of Philadelphia?

I don't know why I was in Philadelphia. I had driven there with two others - a poet I haven't seen in a few years & a girlfriend from when I was 21. She may have been registering for college. I wandered a large store & noted that a nearby neighborhood looked kind of run down & probably dangerous. I don't know Philly beyond center city & the historical & arts locations. I've seen a few concerts at the Spectrum in South Philly, easy to reach from Jersey. When I drove to Philly once for a performance at Temple University I followed precise directions & had no idea where I was in relation to the rest of the city.

In the dream, trying to drive back to Jersey, we were on a limited access highway headed toward a Delaware River bridge, but I didn't know which bridge. I was hoping it was the familiar Walt Whitman but it felt more like the Ben Franklin, an old commuter bridge to Camden with confusing connections on the Jersey side. I saw an exit sign for Rutgers, which would be downtown Camden, an awful place, & another for Bristol PA, a town north of Philly with a narrow lift bridge, interesting if you're sight-seeing bridges. If the Rutgers exit went to the Ben Franklin, where was I going if I went straight ahead? I was so befuddled that I stopped the car. At that point I told myself to end the dream & wake up, I was not hassling it anymore. If I figured it out & got to Jersey I'd still have to find the Turnpike, & I didn't want to drive around the streets of Camden, the most unpleasant city in Jersey.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

1966 Shasta

My "gypsy" fantasy, following the seasons from Maine to Florida with a 12 foot trailer.
A laptop now is a complete entertainment system. Add a folding electric moped for states that allow them.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Hawai'i Aloha

Hawaii turns 50 years old as the 50th state Friday, but there will be no grand parades, no dazzling fireworks, no lavish displays of native culture.
Hawaii is marking its 50th anniversary of statehood in a way no other state has commemorated joining the Union; by remembering it was a nation occupied by a foreign power & its legitimate government overthrown by large American corporations in collaboration with the United States military. Its rich & complex indigeneous culture, already suppressed, was simplified & popularized as tourist attractions & for export. I like a lot of Hawaiian pop exotica style in music & clothes. But I also hear Hawaiians singing on many of those charming old records; a popular musician like Sol Hoopii was trying to preserve & be true to something - maybe he wasn't sure what it was - while he made a living in Polynesian-themed nightclubs & on radio in the 1920's. I didn't understand that until small record companies exposed the Hawaiian guitar traditions (a hybrid music) through new artists & historical recordings, the printed song titles & lyrics on the record sleeves strove for some language accuracy, & the liner notes never mentioned "Islands of Paradise."

Reminds me the 500th year anniversary of Columbus discovering America was pretty much a fizzle in 1992. Putting aside subsequent genocidal history, which kept the event from being celebratory anyway, by then we were certain the Norse were the first Europeans to "discover" North America & leave evidence; & the people Columbus found had originally walked here from the continent he was trying to reach.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lake Hopatcong NJ

Sheppie's, Hopatcong NJ, on River Styx,
peculiar name for an inlet on the west shore of the lake.

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

An Aquarian Exposition

in White Lake, N.Y.
Three Days of Peace & Music
August 15, 16, 17

So said the poster, although it ended up on a farm in Bethel.

I rarely talk about being at Woodstock 40 years ago. Several reasons. I was very young. Woodstock wasn't the signature cultural experience of my youth, remembered with soft, hazy nostalgia. I had no such experience. Woodstock was unique for me. Also, hundreds of thousands were there, hundreds of thousands tried to get there, & many more claim they were there. My experiences weren't exceptional. I was part of a giant, accidental crowd gathered for the same purpose; lots of great music in one location at a bargain price. Like almost everyone else, I went to Woodstock with no idea it would be so large & famous. There were many outdoor festivals that summer; the location of the Woodstock festival looked like a nice rural area, & the brochures & posters implied it was well-organized.

My memories of the event have never been really clear. I smoked pot (no acid, no way)., but it wasn't like they were throwing bags of marijuana to the crowd. I think my group brought little or no pot; we wanted to make it to the concert without being arrested. Impressions of it were affected by the Woodstock movie so I'm not sure what happened specifically. Some memories stand out, but did I see the people sliding in mud? I don't think so. Most of the time I was on a blanket in the middle of the crowd, about a third of the way back from the stage as you see the crowd in the movie, near the center, an excellent location for music.

I left work early on Thursday & drove up to the festival with some guys from my band. We hit a bad traffic jam, not the total gridlock that occurred later. We were early enough to drive to the designated parking & camping area on a hill behind the stage, where we pitched a small tent, & encountered some people we knew. I don't think I saw that tent until we left late Sunday afternoon.

By later Thursday evening we had claimed our spot in the growing crowd. It was obvious we couldn't camp out on the hill & wait until Friday; people were pouring in nonstop. From then on, any information we got about the overall event as national news came from the stage announcements or radios. We knew it was gigantic & on the edge of chaos, but that's about all we knew.

What I don't remember: Eating well, using the portosans, seeing a lot of naked people, or feeling that I was surrounded by hippies. In fact, the vast majority of the people at Woodstock I saw & chatted with looked like & were college students. The real hippies, like the Wavy Gravy group, were the exceptions. I was not a hippie. I considered myself a musician, & my band mostly played college frat parties.

The Woodstock bands I most wanted to see were The Who, Jefferson Airplane, & Jimi Hendrix. Missed Hendrix, but got my money's worth from Who & Airplane, Santana, Creedence, Sly, & Joplin.

By Friday night I was annoyed & wasn't certain why I was there. The situation was becoming very uncomfortable, & the folk acts on the first day, though entertaining, weren't who I had come to see.

Looking over Saturday's schedule, I must have been wandering & sleeping late Saturday afternoon into the evening, no clear recollection of Canned Heat, Mountain, & The Dead. I wasn't a big fan of those groups anyway. I know I napped for awhile on top of an old Checker cab owned by a guy I knew from another band that played around Rutgers in New Brunswick. Saturday night's music was outrageous.

The storms on Sunday afternoon sent us & droves of others home, slowly. Of all the remaining acts, Hendrix was the one we really wanted to see, but he was the closer, who knew when that would happen? Conditions were wretched. We were dirty, famished, & exhausted by then, leaving was a unanimous decision. I had expected to be back at my job Monday morning, As it turned out, everyone at the small company where I worked was surprised when I showed up. They assumed I was trapped, the news coverage all weekend had been so alarming.

Strangest experience: At least twice I left my group to get water, scrounge for food, & look around, & found my way back through the crowd without much difficulty, once in the dark. I accomplished this by remembering our exact position in front of the stage; when I returned, I came from the back of the crowd forward, deviating as a little as possible from the selected pathway. But it was a very slow process. Not only did one have to avoid stepping on people, one did a lot of socializing & toking during these journeys. Everyone was surprisingly cool. The further back in crowd, the more through traffic they had to put up with.

I walked down a country road & filled a plastic jug with water from a pump in front of a farmhouse. I wandered through the sideshows. That's where I got something to eat, from some real hippie types serving free food, might have been Wavy Gravy's group. There were only fields of green corn. I think I managed a loaf of white bread trucked in like emergency provisions for a refugee camp.

On the balance, I did not come away from Woodstock with good feelings. I've never liked being in the middle of large crowds. Local 4th of July fireworks are at the limit of my comfort level; I've declined every opportunity to be in Times Square on New Year's Eve. Conditions at Woodstock were so horrendous that I never attended another large one stage outdoor festival, only a few multi-stage events where there's lots of open space away from the stages. I have gone to large peace marches in Washington & New York, on principle, staying at the edge of the crowd during the rally portions.

I didn't trust hippie culture or the radical left, both of which were authoritarian beneath the surface, producing self-appointed "leaders." I didn't believe in Revolution, political or cultural. To my mind, the largest part of the cultural change had already taken place, beginning mainly with the arrival of The Beatles five years earlier. I didn't think rock music was getting better by becoming more artsy & complex. My band couldn't play music created for virtuosos or with advanced, multitrack recording techniques. My exact generation of garage band & club rockers became the simplifiers of the Seventies, the punks, New Wavers, & traditionalists. After Woodstock, in arguments over whether or not Pete Townshend of the Who should have pushed poltical activist Abbie Hoffman off stage, I sided with Townshend, no disrespect intended for Abbie. Leftists always think music is better when hitched to a cause.

Much of what I experienced at Woodstock was alien & disturbing. Some of it confirmed what I already believed. While the passivity & general good vibes of the crowd under terrible conditions was admirable, I've always wondered if the pot & absence of criminal types was more responsible than the peace & love ethos. The Altamont Festival a few weeks later had a very different vibe. Joni Mitchell's famous tribute to Woodstock was based on a view from a New York City hotel room & Graham Nash's hospitality tent account.

The Woodstock film is good because it doesn't try to make you want to be there for all three days. It shows enough of the rotten conditions. You wish you could fly in on a copter, have a look around, hear some bands, & fly out.

I chalked Woodstock up as an interesting experience, glad I went, no regrets leaving early. As I mentioned up top, sharing it with so many others took most of the novelty out of it. Even now I have nothing to add. Thousands of people who spent the weekend stuck on roads outside the festival have tales to tell; that was part of the event, & probably more fun when they pulled over & made a party of it, with their car radios & frisbees. Looking back, I would have rather attended an earlier festival at Atlantic City Racetrack that's slipped into obscurity. I still might have gone to Woodstock on impulse.

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thought loops

My shrink had time to chat a little with me yesterday. He was running late as usual but not busy, & I didn't mind the wait; the walk over there was like a tepid steam bath, drizzly & humid.

The first thing he asks after How are you, Robert? is Any thoughts of suicide? My answer is usually that I'm dealing with them, which is good enough if I'm not really stressed by any external situation. Because I've had those thoughts all the way back into early adolescence. He was glad I was making an effort to take Wellbutran every day. The problem with meds is if they lift me enough, they can increase anxiety, which in turn can send me up or down. Zoloft did that. I've been on awful emotional roller coasters, rode them for decades. The roller coaster, not the thoughts, is what eventually got to me. The highs became higher & more brief, the lows lower & longer. I don't want to go on a regimen of counteracting mood medications, which is what the prescription drug TV ads sell; meds on top of meds. Psychiatrists, unlike most psychologists, are all too willing to recommend one more med to treat one more mood symptom the med you're already taking either doesn't treat or actually causes.

I described to the doctor - I've been his patient for a long time - how suicidal ideation often occurs as a thought loop, out of nowhere, with no apparent trigger except, perhaps, a memory, & when I recognize how I'm thinking I'm able to stop the loop by forcing myself to concentrate on something else. This simple advice was given to me by both a friend who occasionally ideaized & my former therapist. Oddly, the Doc had never heard ideation described as a loop mechanism. He does deal with that sort of thing in patients who hear voices. I hear only my own voice.

But the ability to thought loop is common in creativity. Repetitiveness to the point of obsessional thinking or action is necessary for practice & for development of an idea. Musicians do it all the time. Composers fixate on a single musical phrase until something in it breaks open into what follows. I've stopped in the middle of writing, prose or poem, like I've run into a barrier, gone out walking somewhere, repeating a sentence or line over & over in my mind, almost unaware I'm doing it, & suddenly the barrier drops & words flow as if being dictated. At that point the challenge is to let it flow while also remembering it. If you're a writer, you're familiar with these moments, fishing in your pockets or handbag or backpack for a ballpoint & scrap of paper, anything you can write on. I've jotted key words & phrases on napkins, restaurant checks, matchbook covers, on my arm. I've borrowed pens from waitresses. I recall borrowing a pen from a bar waitress when she brought the check, to complete a thought about the waitress I began when we ordered our first round. All through that evening I'd been distracted during conversation, by her & by what I knew might be the first line of a good poem. Others at the table probably noticed my attention drifting from time to time, I could not put the line out of my mind. One also has to let go of a good line when it goes nowhere.

I used to visit a painter friend, before he moved out of the area, who would have every light in his place turned on, plus the TV in one room & a radio or record player in another, & he'd have a painting-in-progress propped on a table with some paints & brushes next to it, & we'd be hanging out & chatting, but he'd keep glancing at the painting, & as we talked he'd get up, walk over to the painting, & begin working on it. So while we had been talking he had also been fixated on whatever had made him put the brushes down. A lot of painters have the ability to carry on a conversation about anything with one part of the mind while solving a creative problem with another part. There may be more friendships between poets & painters than poets & poets, but that's another blog post topic.

Repetitive thinking can also be channeled into bad memories, anger, & ideation. Many artists are disturbed. For many mental health professionals, creativity is symptomatic expression. But they have differing ideas on how to manage it. My therapist viewed creativity positively as having its own psychological dynamics - she wasn't concerned with analyzng the art itself - apart from the difficulties of an artist lifestyle in America, the encouragement one did or did not receive from friends & family, & the underlying causes of self-destructive behavior, which did concern her very much. She admired artistic people. She was Russian.

Labels: ,

Is it fair to compare Sarah Palin with Eunice Kennedy Shriver? Yeah. While it is hyperbole to call Shriver "the queen of humanity," as one mourner did at the funeral, one expects it in eulogy. Palin is "The Queen of Negativity." What has Palin done, with her real political power & influence, in any way comparable to the positive accomplishments of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who, even with her name & wealth, faced the limitations of a woman in her generation? Eunice also was an outspoken pro-life Christian. Look at what she did to promote life; she drew an entire segment of our society into the open & toward the mainstream. No one now expects a special needs child to be hidden away or warehoused in an institution. In the not-so-distant past, few outside the families cared what happened to those children, their families assuming a lonely burden of effort & expenses. Eunice Shriver did much to change our attitudes, broaden our compassion, expand social services, & raise expectations of what "special needs" people can accomplish. In 1984, conservative President Ronald Reagan presented liberal Eunice Kennedy Shriver with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sarah ought to consider what she can do to earn the Medal. She won't earn it with her mouth. Has she even offered a tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver?

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les & Rashied

The death of Les Paul at age 94 is headline news in New York City today. Les was a local guy. Rightly honored in his time as a guitarist, inventor, technological innovator, he was first & foremost a supremely skilled, open-minded, working musician, performing weekly at a club in Manhattan until June.

Les & singer/partner Mary Ford
"were touring in 1948 when Mr. Paul’s car skidded off an icy bridge. Among his many injuries, his right elbow was shattered; once set, it would be immovable for life. Mr. Paul had it set at an angle, slightly less than 90 degrees, so that he could continue to play guitar."
Also passing was Rashied Ali, a wonderful jazz drummer best known for his playing in John Coltrane's final, most free bands, but who continued to be a strong presence in New York & internationally, & had been scheduled to play at Newport jazzfest on Sunday. Like Les, a musician's musician, if that makes sense, the Rashied tributes will come more slowly but be just as heartfelt.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

White desperation

The embattled white anglo-european minority. Teabaggers. Screaming at healh care reform town hall meetings. A lot of them are recipients of government health insurance called Medicare. My own position is the same it's always been; a form of Medicare should be offered as a public option with income-based fees. Even President Nixon was attracted to the idea before he began drowning in Watergate & had to shelve it.

It surprises me a little that so many people (apparently) have not lost their health insurance through a layoff - unable to afford it independently, have not been screwed over by an HMO, do not know a family struggling under the financial burden of special needs child & running up many thousands of dollars of unpayable debt. I'm surprised so many people believe they have health care choices they don't really have,

I think this isn't really about health care.

We don't want to believe what we suspect - & numbers tend to confirm, that Canadians, Brits, French, Germans, Dutch, Danes, Norwegians, Swedish, are generally more content & have better lifestyles than us. No matter how much the people in those nations gripe about their national health care, America reminds them of what they don't want. They don't want our workplace conditions, either. We just scoff at them, Hah, we're Americans & you're not. Terrific. Take that to the bank in the global economy.

But what constitutes America & Americans is inevitably changing; the time coming soon enough when even a majority of the white Anglo-European populace will be a minority.

We're already in an America of great hopes but lowered expectations. Who with any sense expects their income to rise much faster than the cost-of-living, staying in the same job? Who expects loyalty & generosity from corporations, no matter how long one works for them or how profitable those companies are? We ceded regulatory control of financial institutions & look what it got us.

How long can they keep fighting? How many prejudices can they juggle & maintain? How many objectionable "others" can they have? Centuries of effort staying above & apart from African-Americans. . Then the absurd contradiction of grudgingly, slowly, conceding equality for women while holding to an opposing set of religious beliefs in which women are not & can never be equal. Then gays & lesbians became the despised "other," the alien, not worthy of equal rights. Now Latinos are the outsiders, native born & immigrants regardless of legal status. & perhaps most perversely, so demonizing whites of moderate political views - progressive on one or two issues - that there's small possibility of regaining them as allies in anything. The most shocking thing about President Obama is that it became possible to elect Obama president. The conditions favoring his election may change & go against him, but the demographics of his victory are the future.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On the Waterfront - Commission

Waterfront Commission officials accused of corruption at N.J., N.Y. ports

by Ted Sherman - Star-Ledger -
The bi-state agency formed to combat corruption within the New York and New Jersey ports became riddled with abuse -- misusing federal Homeland Security funding, hiring unqualified cops, and allowing convicted felons to get jobs.

In a scathing 67-page report, the New York Inspector General said the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor had failed in its duties. Gov. Jon Corzine has already fired the New Jersey Commissioner, former State

"This was a total agency breakdown," Inspector General Joseph Fisch said. "Instead of ridding the waterfront of corruption, this agency itself was corrupt."

Established in 1953, after public hearings sparked by a newspaper investigation exposed pervasive corruption involving mobsters and dock workers, later portrayed in the film "On the Waterfront," the quasi-independent commission oversees waterfront hiring and has a police force to conduct investigations. The commission has an annual budget of more than $11 million and a staff of 100 employees.

But the commission had long ago stopped doing its job, according to the report, citing favors to insiders, corrupt dealings, fraud and abuse. In one example, it noted the commission bought a patrol boat paid for by a $170,000 Homeland Security grant, which was supposed to be "capable of early detection of a waterborne attack."

Its role was to "deploy high risk target locations such as the NYC Passenger Ship Terminal, Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne." Instead, it was used to escort guests and VIPs during Fleet Week and other events.
On & on the report goes. It would be instructive to read a list of the guests & VIPs on those harbor cruises, what refreshments they were served.

Coincidentally, the author of "On the Waterfront," Budd Schulberg, died last week at a ripe old age. For all the greatness of that gritty, realistic Brando film, it was most unrealistic when suggesting the power of a criminal organization could be broken by a courageous individual beating the shit out of the local union rackets boss & knocking him in Hudson River (one of the longest, best choreographed, most brutal fistfights on film). There is no Mafia in "On the Waterfront." But on the real waterfront, an evil Johnny Friendly, a wiseguy & likely a capo in a New York crime family, would climb out of the river, lay low for awhile, have Brando's character whacked, & carry on with his business.

Government is packed with agencies formed to be useful in response to a problem, but which become sources of patronage jobs for bothe parties, depending upon which holds the power. NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, as an independent, skillfully plays both sides. Our two candidates for governor this year are a politician who didn't do enough when he could versus a politician who won't do enough when he can.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 10, 2009

Shark Week wrapup

Just because a guy is nuts enough to get in the water with Great Whites, & figures out how to scuba with them & touch them without being ripped apart, I would not qualify that interaction as "positive," but rather as luckily "neutral," & it does not make the Great White seem any the less fiercesome & dangerous to surfers & swimmers. They are still big, stupid, eating machines. I do not advocate killing them. I like crocodiles also, but I would not saddle one up & ride it & have a "relationship."
First really hot summer day here in Jersey. Felt mid-90's earlier, about 90 now, doubt we'll get a thunderstorm, or much of one if we do late. Walked up to Gina's houe around 7 to drop something off, her old SUV was in driveway but not her car, her mail in the box, I figured she was still at work & let myself in the front door, in such a way so a cat won't escape. As I stepped in I heard a shocked , "OH," & there was Gina on the couch, beer on coffee table, news on TV. Her car was in shop, she'd come in the rear door as usual, popped a bottle of Leffe beer, flipped on the a/c, plopped on the couch & zoned out, half-asleep. I apologized for shocking her, but added it was probably good thing I stopped by, it was the kind of warm evening one might be lulled into sleep by the cooling air & suddenly open one's eyes & discover it's almost 11 pm. Then one decides to skip supper & have a "snack," like ice cream or a whole box of pizza rolls, & one can't get to sleep at one's regular hour.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Ocean City NJ

First full week in August, sometimes second, was the week
2 adults, 4 kids, 1 small dog, & all necessary baggage traveled
to Aunt Bella's house in Somers Point, in later years a rental
in Ocean City, for the family vacation.
You're invited to A Week In Ocean City.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The one before Woodstock

Atlantic City Pop Festival 40th Anniversary was a few days ago.

I wrote a blog post about not attending it. Page dedicated to it at e-RockWorld, with I was there memories typical of all rock festivals of the era, a bit suspect as to accuracy. With the exception of The Who (great), & Jimi Hendrix (I didn't see him), the AC Pop lineup was more suited to my tastes than Woodstock. Along with The Airplane, Joplin, Santana , & Creedence, Woodstock acts I liked, AC had the Mothers, Procul Harum, Booker T, The Byrds in their jam band phase, Dr. John, Tim Buckley. There were offbeat unbilled bands like AUM & Lothar & the Hand People. Apparently The Chambers Brothers replaced Johnny Winter. Joni Mitchell flopped, which would have made me laugh, she was insufferable early in her career. I had small interest in CS&N, but AC was their first live appearance, & Neil Young had made them CSN&Y. & whatever their rep now, a full length, live "In-a-gadda-da-vida" from Iron Butterfly, garage band heroes, must have been something.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 07, 2009

We could have

Note Hello Kitty on the flag.

Where are the cheering, chanting "Yes we can" crowds now? Where are they now that Obama desperately needs them for pushback against an all-out attack by the right?

They're gone because he himself has not believed in the "change we can believe in." He himself has declined to be audaciously hopeful. He frittered away his optimistic supporters on behalf of an impossible hope called "nonpartisanship." They were also voting against something in November.

It isn't enough to be "cool." My caption for the cartoon is, "Yes, we could have, but we didn't."

We're missing Ted Kennedy this summer.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Visiting the purgatory of prose & odd text files, the My Documents folder. There are folders in this folder, including one labeled Current Writing, which is anything but current. Some of the files came over from my previous computer & no doubt will go to the next one. No matter how many files I open, quickly read, & delete, I never make a dent in it. These files start out on the desktop, when I clean the desktop whatever isn't deleted goes sliding into My Documents. I saved the lyrics to "Woolly Bully" & "They're coming to take me away, Haha."

I rarely find anything usable in My Documents. Hours of writing.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Nineteen-Forties Woman in Flaked Paint

See her? Click on photo to enlarge. A post up the street by the bank.

Walked to supermarket because I needed the exercise & Chock Full O Nuts New York Roast is cheap this week. A/C is on & I'm hoping outside air gets to fan quality by the time I go to bed.

So a crazy 48 year old guy in PA kills 3 women & himself because he hasn't gotten laid since 1990 & apparently hadn't had a girlfriend since 1984.

First, the obvious, why didn't he see a therapist? I know two people, a man & a woman, who got into strong relationships & married after going through short term therapy. The man was a 30 year old virgin. The woman was about 6' & not a model, so it wasn't easy for her anyway. I thought she was beautiful.

Why didn't he put aside money for a visit to a good hooker a few times every year, something to look forward to?

Or he wasn't abusive enough. A man can go to just about any neighborhood bar & find women who will have sex only with men who put them down. Promising some blow helps.

Most of men I've met with rage toward women have been in relationships, & refer to former wives, lovers. etc. as "bitch" & "slut."

Bizarre excerpts from the killer's blog indicate he had a lot of issues, not just with women, mixed together. Probably wasn't possible to converse with him at any length without the ugliness coming out. When he looked in the mirror he objectified himself, just as he objectified women.

Labels: , ,

Laura, Euna, & Bill

Freed US reporters welcomed home.

A great piece of scripted, positive political theater of the kind we never saw during the previous administration. Everyone came away with something good. There was Bill Clinton getting to play the elder statesman* / knight, a role he obviously loves, he's back on the world stage - & rescuing two attractive young female journalists. The journalists themselves, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, symbols of our free press. Al Gore playing huggy bear. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il playing Lil Mao (that's sure getting old); he's not fooling anyone outside North Korea, so he played it mainly for home consumption, where he's having problems arranging for his inexperienced son to take over the country. In the background, Hillary, who we figure was pulling the strings & using her husband's good global reputation, which was a big part of her resume for her job. & President Barack Obama, health care reform on his mind right now, a fine stage manager & generous actor, able to let others take the short term credit for a diplomatic success while he keeps an eye on the long term possibilities. Obama has to move our difficult relationship with North Korea somewhere in the vicinity of where it was when Bill Clinton left office before he can deal constructively with the supremely important matter of nuclear weapons. So why not let Bill Clinton help out? It just won't do to call North Korea part of the "axis of evil" & shun the nation & let the two journalists be martyrs for Truth, Justice, & the American Way. This is an example of what those of us who voted for Barack Obama wanted from his administration.

* One of our four living former presidents doesn't, & may never, have this stature.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Wrong-way crash driver was drunk, high
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — A mother was drinking vodka and smoking marijuana while driving a vanload of children home from a weekend camping trip that ended in disaster when she went the wrong way on a highway and crashed into an SUV, killing eight people, police said Tuesday.

Diane Schuler, who died along with her 2-year-old daughter and three nieces in her red minivan, had more than 10 drinks of alcohol in her system and a high level of the main ingredient in marijuana, authorities said.

The revelations from the 36-year-old Long Island woman's autopsy helped explain how the woman her family called "an accomplished working mother who always put her children before any other priorities" wound up driving the wrong way for nearly two miles on a suburban parkway before slamming into the SUV.

The July 26 crash on the Taconic State Parkway, about 35 miles northwest of New York City, also killed three men in the SUV. Schuler's 5-year-old son, in her minivan, survived.
It was the only theory I had. Something didn't feel right about all the praise for the woman, & the puzzlement. If you're not lost, or a confused old person, or someone who can't read English, & there's no history of a medical condition that might cause disorientation, the most likely explanation is the driver must have been plastered. & soon we'll probably learn she was frequently high, that it was a problem, & her husband knew it was problem. Maybe during the week she didn't drink or toke until after supper. If she sits on her couch at home weekends & gets plastered, that's her business.

Monday, August 03, 2009

That there's a higher percentage of serious sinners in the city doesn't mean there's a higher percentage of saints in the suburbs. I'd wager the opposite. Saints become saints by going where saints are most desperately needed. Cities have more of everything, except spacious lawns & deer.
Reading "Why I Am a Catholic" by Garry Wills. Out of chapter sequence, as a counterpoint to "The Family: Power, Politics and Fundamentalism's Shadow Elite," Jeff Sharlet's scary expose of the C Street bunch.

Wills' book isn't about why I should be a Catholic, or why you should be Catholic, or even why no-longer-Catholic should be Catholic. He explains, through personal experience & detailed history, why the practicing Catholics I know remain practicing Catholics. These Catholics may not even know much of the history in Wills' book, but they are in the Church he describes, have always been part of it. That Church is a broad & deep river, more broad & deep than the recent Popes (or most Popes), Bishops, & the current lockstep Papist apologists would have us believe. One might say that popes float on this river. The Roman Catholic Church as it existed just prior to Pope John XXIII & 2nd Vatican Council was not an ancient Church, & Wills explains why. The ancient Church is the church of the people, a church that has never been narrowly channeled or steered into full submission to the worldly central authority of the institutional church, especially Vatican authority. The Catholic church of the people, of the believers - which is living & creedal - always the same yet different (as Buddhists say) - survives its popes - who are wrong enough. often enough, for Catholics to suspect they could be wrong about lots of stuff, like birth control, to name only one prohibition most Catholics ignore.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Avalon NJ

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Tasmin & Frederick

Frederick Delius: Orchestral Works. Tasmin Little (violin); Welsh National Opera Orchestra / Sir Charles Mackerras, cond. Argo.

Concerto for violin and orchestra.
Two Aquarelles.
On hearing the first cuckoo in Spring.
Summer Night on the River.
Intermezzo from Fennimore and Gerda.
Irmelin Prelude.
Dance Rhapsodies—No. I; No. 2.

Tasmin Little opened the door to Delius for me. I liked the idea of a Frederick Delius more than the reality: English composer born in 1862 of German immigrant parents; managed his father's grapefruit farm in Florida, where he paid attention to African-American music ( & caught the syphillis that later crippled & blinded him), also resided in Virginia & New York; studied music composition in Germany; settled for life in France with his wife. His music has British folk, a touch of Americana, German late-Romanticism, filtered through a kind of French Impressionism, but a style apart. No one knew where he fit. It didn't concern him, he fit himself fine. Was he born a few years too soon? I was never excited by his most famous instrumental pieces, two of them on this album, "Cuckoo" & "Summer Night." Too descriptive, dreamy & picturesque. I paid no attention to him, although he has very vocal supporters. Recently, I happened to read that the Delius violin concerto is unlike any other, & a Brit violinist named Tasmin Little really knew how to perform Delius, a specialty. Music that isn't about anything outside itself.

The Concerto is different, one movement about 25 minutes, fiddle playing continously from start to finish in what sounds at first like a long, long stream of unrepeating melody. But it does reveal a form after a few listenings. The work requires virtuosity without brightly spotlighting it. The orchestral part fascinates me, it's unlike anything I've heard before & I can't figure out why. The winds & strings play together & separately, always in concert with the violin, occasionally picking up the melody but rarely sounding like it's just accompaniment. For no reason I could point to, the orchestra made me think of The Pied Pipers, a versatile vocal group from the 1940's that could do songs as a harmony group, with a solo singer out front, or combination of the two.

Because of the Concerto & Tasmin Little, I enjoyed the remainder of the album, particularly the two dance rhapsodies. I have some nifty small orchestra Brahms symphonies conducted by MacKerras, I think he likes this music. There must be a 100 good professional orchestras in the British Isles. I wonder if musicians play in three or four of them & they're always racing from gig to gig. But I suppose that's where the TV taxes go. The first time the music of Delius has provided listening pleasure. Always fun to get a composer I've ignored.


"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

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?