Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Balloon Man

This video gave me a slightly nightmarish WFMU dream last night. The typical DJ nightmare - all radio DJs have them - involves a strange or changed studio, or being late for a show. But in this dream WFMU was having an open house party. The station has an "open door" for volunteers during the annual marathon fund-raiser, a lot of people may be there for some shows, never an open house party where it's packed elbow to elbow. You have to know someone to attend the big in-house  holiday party. The station's crowded Final Night of Marathon event got too large & is now mostly at Maxwell's in Hoboken. In my dream, manager Ken & I were the only staffers who showed up. Therefore, we were responsible for everything. Ken kept finding me like he wanted me to do something specific, I was willing to help in any way, but he never asked, he always got distracted & swallowed up in the crowd. The only other person I recognized was a particular nincompoop cashier from Pathmark who'd probably be working the popcorn wagon at Walmart entrance if he wasn't in the Union. But there was an ample food table, a buffet.  At the end of the dream, Ken was last in line & putting scrambled eggs on his plate.  Me, I'd had enough of the party & left by waking up.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Tom "The Hammer" DeLay

 "What's a little pain when we can party?" 
Tom DeLay on Dancing With the Stars

Hammered: What Punishment Will Tom DeLay Get?

When my dad began taking an active interest in local politics in Fifties, he really  believed Republicans were more honest than Democrats. Based on the local party organizations of the era in Union County NJ, he probably had some reason for the belief. The only Republican county organization in the state with a rep for serious corruption was  the one in Atlantic County built by "Nucky" Johnson & run by a powerful state senator named "Hap" Farley, a Johnson protege. During the Farley era, you couldn't pick a copy of Atlantic City Press without seeing his name & often his photo  somewhere on the front page. Farley sponsors bill. Farley meets with Governor. Farley goes to Washington. Farley attends banquet.

By the time dad began losing interest in local politics - he had gotten  into  Revolutionary War reenacting -  I think he had been largely disabused of his  notion.  He never abandoned Richard Nixon, but he didn't like the guys around Nixon. He was totally disgusted when a major Republican politician in Jersey, Nelson Gross, was convicted of perjury & fraud for involvement in illegal campaign contributions. Gross went to prison for a few years, continued to profit in private business, (his life came to a tragic end in 1997 when he was robbed & murdered by three teenagers).

In the Fifties, Southern politics were still Democratic, & were  corrupt & virulently racist (Although many hid behind "populism").  Then came the Southern Strategy in Repug politics,  which produced sleazeballs like  Texas Tom DeLay. I wonder what dad would have thought of him? I don't know. My Republican relatives have just gotten screwier right along with their screwy party. They can't explain to me how Barack Obama is more liberal than Lyndon Johnson.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Asbury Park NJ

6th Ave. from Boardwalk

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jimi Hendrix Birthday


Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

A day I experienced as a stock clerk when I was caught in the middle of a dept store riot over loss-leader rolls of wrapping paper.  The few times I volunteered to work this day at Pearl Arts & Crafts store (Friday was a day off), the insanity occurred at the Toys R Us next door in the strip mall across from Woodbridge Center Mall  & initiated a month of parking lot hell & psycho-drama scenes between children & the parents crazy enough to bring them to a toy store in December.   On the whole I liked working at Pearl that month. The store was busier but not often crowded, lots of decorations, & most of my time was spent answering questions & straightening book dept shelves, & helping out a bit with children's stuff.  The craft dept absorbed most of the wave. They had aisles of  "little doo dads" & it was a disaster zone on  Monday mornings. Since I worked Sundays, my book area was always in fine shape. During those years, Christmas Day itself was wonderfully anti-climactic.

Holiday season is an annual source of amazement & dismay. Yesterday I was reading & wondering why the hell we're still defending an  economic & military powerhouse like South Korea 60 years after the Korean "police action."  North Korea doesn't have China & the Soviet Union  propping it up  anymore.   South Korea, thanks to us,  has its own  large, well-equipped armed forces.  Why are we spending billions "protecting"  nations that can  protect  themselves, are in better or at least no worse economic condition than us, but give us The Finger when we ask for mildly favorable trade & monetary policy concessions? We shouldn't be whipping President Obama for it, but rather asking why those nations are screwing us when it ought to be as obvious to us as it is  to them that our "empire" is hollow & collapsing & we need to redirect our resources back home & stop wasting lives & treasure overseas when millions are jobless or underemployed  here & our infrastructure is falling apart around us.  Those other countries will  use  us until we're all used up. They're  driving ahead, while our eyes are fixed on the rear view mirror.  We just handed over the House of Representives to politicians who think it's 1955 - or ought to be, when plate tectonics were a fanciful idea &  it was inconceivable for priests to molest children, & the two big Commie nations  had their own empires. But back then, President Ike was successfully promoting a grand system of interstate highways. Now we treat a  needed & long-overdue new rail tunnel under the Hudson like a bridge-to-nowhere.  

So we ignore all that & line up outside Best Buy & Walmart for hypnotic 3D HDTVs.  On the way home we stop to buy powerball lottery tickets, which allow us to dream right along with the bankers & war profiteers who  are ripping us off.

This isn't  a bah humbug post.  I have no problem separating the beautiful & meaningful religious observances from the secular craziness that has become so important a "holiday" to our economy. I don't like it. But I don't think generic  "Happy Holidays"  sales signs in big box stores constitute  a "War on Christmas."   We invented this month-long festival.   Real war is the  War on Christmas.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving leftovers

With the physical condition I'm in, I wouldn't be going anywhere today even if I had somewhere to go. But I still have plenty to be thankful for considering what I've been through this year. Due to some family problems, a dear friend had to cancel the dinner she was looking forward to hosting. The day might at least go easier for her if the San Diego Chargers were playing (& winning).

We always had an excellent spread when I was growing up. The first time I had a Thanksgiving dinner elsewhere, what struck me most came at the beginning, a family able to say a simple grace without embarrassment or someone cracking a joke. I like less the round-robin practice of having to say what you're grateful for. I mumble the usual stuff when I might want to add, "I'm grateful Neil Young made a loud rock album with Crazy Horse this year instead of some whiny collection of folk songs."

The craziest family dinner I attended - I'm sure I've written about this - was a girlfriend's huge extended family, They were hitting the boxes of candy before dinner. kids weren't really expected to stay seated at the table, which was gigantic with leaf extensions in. There  was an enormous amount of food without a single green vegetable in sight. The family had a lot of large men.  The dinner didn't end; the pies & cookies came out but the turkey & leftovers just moved into the kitchen where they stayed on the counters & everyone was free to pick at them until they were finally packed into Tupperware & distributed among guests, more or less according to need as far as I could tell.

Families have Thanksgiving traditions, some so fixed & ritualistic, proceeding from scene to scene (incuding the same relative who falls asleep afterward)  you feel like you're just an actor playing a part. But this family's Thanksgiving seemed chaotic. The chaos was the tradition.

What annoys me most? The woman who can't stay seated during the meal & is constantly running in & out of the kitchen. My sister doesn't do this.  You need something, she tells you where it is. She eats. A bigshot at the head of the table who thinks his turkey carving is an art. My dad did this, considered the electric carving knife a fabulous invention, but frankly he wasn't all that great at it. The best way to serve turkey is put it on display while it's resting, & hack it up it in the kitchen.

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Thanksgiving from The New World

Kamuela Philharmonic January 6, 2008 at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea Conductor and music director Madeline Schatz.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

supermarket night

ShopRite parking lot so packed tonight Gina & I went over to Pathmark. We concluded it was a combination of Thanksgiving & Jewish shopping night a day early. Pathmark was not crowded. Pathmark is also,I think, going away store by store.  Lousy sales, rude cashiers.  The one here is trying to attract the Hispanic & the food stamp shopper. But this city has a half-dozen supermarkets aimed at Hispanics, all send out weekly flyers, & if you can get to Pathmark, you can go to ShopRite 1/4 mile up the same street & get more value for your Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program debit card.

quotin' the Bible

A few days ago, an old friend asked why I posted Bible quotes on Facebook.  Mainly because I receive a quote via e mail every day, & if it's not one that makes me think, I go to a random Bible quote website & keep clicking until one stops me. I love the Bible. Many poets & writers do. Emily Dickinson & Walt Whitman stood on it, although neither could be called a "Christian."   I also love Jesus.  Not in the way Jesus & Paul demand, which requires not only a surrender very difficult for a person of my temperament, but also a community.  Christianity is for me a radical faith. It is, as I often say of Catholicism,  which I obviously admire, "a practice not a denomination."  I believe it is profoundly a faith of peace, with pacificism at its core. The pacifism was an identifying characteristic of Jesus communities for the first three-hundred years, & wasn't reasoned aside until after Constantine claimed its spiritual power was the deciding factor in his military defeat of Maxentius. That's also when institutional Christianity eagerly took on the trappings of Roman culture & government.

I absolutely detest the mixing of American Christianity & militant nationalism, wrapping the cross in the flag. I'm aware that American Methodism is, well, an American invention, it's an American denomination, organized differently from the British version. I'm comfortable with that. But I also appreciate Catholicism's catholicity, its global view.

The Methodism I encountered as a child was undogmatic, impatient with theology, loose with doctrine, & in love with singing. It disliked conflict & encouraged friendship.  It expected you to grow in faith, but understood you might also grow away from it. But if you grew away, it hoped you would take  with you at least a sense of moderation in one's habits & routines, empathy for suffering, & good manners.  All those qualities could be - & are - perceived as weaknesses by right wing religionists.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Beautiful People: If 60's Were 90's

Many Hendrix purists detested it, but I loved this 1994 album of mashups by some Brits calling themselves The Beautiful People. It was done with care, love, respect, & lots of humor. I think it proposes, through a leap of decades & technology, one direction (of numerous possibilities) Jimi's music may have taken.

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Monday, November 22, 2010


I have most lucid dreams just before I wake up & during naps. They're probably just fresher & easier to recall,

This morning, my ex-girlfriend's long-deceased dad wandered into a dream. I was with her for years, then not with her for years.  I had no idea why he was there, the dream wasn't making any sense to me. He just seemed to be out for a stroll & looking around.  When he was alive, I felt he neither strongly liked nor disliked me.     A devout Catholic, he certainly disapproved of  his daughter & I residing together without blessing of Holy Matrimony, but he loved her dearly, & she was by his standards rebellious before she met me,  in the sense that she stubbornly did what she wanted.  She was a very talented young woman.  For him, I failed in all the basics; not Catholic, not married to her, not employed in  a respectable vocation. But she was equally  responsible. I wasn't preventing her from going to church, wouldn't  have objected if she did. She was my third Catholic girlfriend.

In the dream, he was healthy, middle-aged, wearing a tweedy jacket I think, & sporting a small mustache. Maybe he had always wanted a mustache. He was a man of good manners. He said something, I don't remember what, then he turned & began walking away.  I said, "Wait, can I ask you something?"  He turned around & said, "Sure."

"Are you in Heaven?" A question I had never before dared to ask dream characters.

He looked a bit puzzled. He either wouldn't or couldn't answer the question, the dream froze & faded.

Clearly, he was in a good place wherever it was. If  he was only my memory of him, then I remember him fondly. He'd been through a lot, had three daughters, a saintly wife, & he appreciated peace.  He represented a part of my life, the relationship,  that  "died," & which I've thought about far too much.    Most of the characters I meet in dreams are inventions, I don't know who they are, although they're faintly familiar, some  of them are strangely amusing, so they're probably extensions of me, just as  dreamscapes are visual representations of one's mind.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

You betcha by golly wow

Frank Rich: Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha

What might bring down other politicians only seems to make her stronger: the malapropisms and gaffes, the cut-and-run half-term governorship, family scandals, shameless lying and rapacious self-merchandising. In an angry time when America’s experts and elites all seem to have failed, her amateurism and liabilities are badges of honor. She has turned fallibility into a formula for success.
On This Week, George  Will dismissed Sarah Palin as unprepared, uneducated, a quitter, & a mere celebrity (this time for her cameo on DWTS), predicting she wouldn't run for President, as if his smugly  saying so makes it so.  I laughed. With his Princeton Ph.D, Pulitzer, &  inside-the-Beltway arrogance, Will is almost  as much an enemy to Tea Partiers as Barack Obama. Frank Rich explains why.

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North Plainfield NJ

Blue Star Diner

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Saturday, November 20, 2010


Called library today & reserved The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol 1. Twain dictated it when he was old, it's "a jumble," he admitted. He also agreed with his publisher that it could not be published  at that time in its unexpurgated form, so the versions that later appeared heavily cut the rage, bile, cynicism, score-settling, & political rants. Twain was a bitter old man. He had his reasons. He suffered from depression. Personal tragedy; he  out-lived his wife & two of his three daughters. A business failure  had him lecturing around the world to pay off debts. & by 1900,  the "progress" he had documented in the second part of Life On The Mississippi with all the literary aplomb of a Chamber of Commerce brochure had turned America into an imperialist aggressor abroad  & a  cruel exploiter of human labor & natural resources at home. Like George Carlin in his last years, it was tough for Twain to be funny. But he still could be very funny.

Vol 1 doesn't contain much omitted material. But Vols 2 & 3 will.  Vol 1 is 760 pages & since I  don't plan of giving up fiction I figure I ought to get started.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Suddenly, Tammy! - Beautiful Dream

From a 1996 album. I really like this song, very good economical lyric, a poem, really, & Beth Sorrentino is a lovely pianist, still performs around NYC. An "alternative" band, no guitar, they signed a major label deal & got dropped before they had much of a chance.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

National Unfriend Day

Yesterday was National Unfriend Day, dreamed up by talk show host Jimmy Kimmel as a day to get rid of  all Facebook friends who aren't really friends. Kimmel defines "friend" as someone you'd loan $50 to. That's too limiting. Currently, I have 202 Facebook friends. including "Goulash Hungarian," the actual food not a nom de plume, & figured I could drop a few. But the vast majority of them I "know" in the sense of knowing who they are & why they're Facebook friends.  The few doubtful ones either rarely post or I have them on "hide." I've ignored a goodly number of friend requests.  The more friends you make on Facebook the farther astray you wander from people with a  fairly direct connection to you, & the more friend requests you receive. Also, I'm not trying to increase an audience for something I'm promoting, which would, of course, be me. As it is, few of my Facebook friends even bother to "like" what I post. For some, it may be because they don't see what I post. But I have a number of regular features I think are entertaining: You Tube music I choose & upload in lieu of doing a radio show; several categories of postcards (Jersey Gin Mills, Jersey Hot Sheets motels); an occasional poem.  I'm pretty generous with "like"   whether I actually "like" it or not.

It annoys me when Friends post 10 music videos in an hour, or  a link to every online article they read. That's clutter. I also dislike cryptic tweets. If you tweet,  keep them on Twitter, please. & those "copy, paste & repost" paragraphs.  The other day, someone posted a chain message for  "Mental Illness Awareness Week," which happened over a month ago & went unobserved here because I discuss the subject any time I please.  & too many poor snapshots of your cat or kid.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Windy day

I was running the a/c fan over the weekend. Took it out of the window yesterday just before a rain-wind storm arrived from the south, blowing & rattlng against that window. The a/c was on almost constantly all summer,  PSE&G  was paid plenty for it. Still gusting out there.
At the lab yesterday to leave a "sample."  A man there born in 1923, I overheard.  Small guy, staring at TV,  smile on his face, I had to poke him when his name was called. Looked like he never worried about anything. Going half-deaf probably made no difference, he heard enough long ago.

I had a pal in high school, guitarist, his band practiced in his basement rec room. Also, his cute sister held court in a kitchen well-stocked with soda & chips. His mom jabbered loudly on the phone. It was practically an open house with all the teenagers wandering  in & out & hanging around.

Meanwhile, dad sat placidly in an easy chair in the living room, long wire running from the TV to an earbud plugged into his left ear.

"How does your father stand the noise & chaos?" I asked.

"He's deaf in his right ear," said my friend. 

Billionaire New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg  has his minions again stirring up talk about an independent presidential candidacy.  This allows him to shrug off ambitions we know he has, which is supposed to make us believe he stands apart from (& above) petty partisan party divisions, & therefore we ought to beg him to rescue us by running for president, although he disdains the public mud wrestling this would require of him.

In the context of New York City, Bloomberg is, like him or not, a proven  politician & a tough cookie.  But Manhattan is one of the most provincial places in America, & no one from there is more provincial than a multi-billionaire who travels the world in luxury & brags about riding the subway to work. It's not hard to figure why he believes he could bend congress to his will the way he does New York's contentious City Council. Hubris.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stanford 63, Rutgers 50

California 66, Rutgers 57. 

Here he goes with women's college ball.

For the first time, I'm  having serious doubts about Hall of Fame Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer.  Actually those doubts began at this time last year, but I suppressed them.  Every season since the Scarlet Knights Championship Game appearance in 2007, her teams have jelled less; women's ball has become more offensive-oriented; she's made some risky, dubious recruiting choices; & she takes the team to the West Coast to open the season where they're  battered by  Cal & Stanford & come home tired, doubting, & dispirited enough to subsequently lose some early games they should win. C. Vivian rarely blames herself or her system for these losses.  Last year they squeaked into the NCAA Tournament & immediately showed they didn't belong there. This year they weren't ranked in the preseason polls, although they have  Top 25 talent.  But St. John's & Georgetown are ranked, with DePaul hanging just outside.  Of course, UConn & Notre Dame. Which means Stringer's star is shining  a bit less brightly.   At least this year she cautiously concedes she needs to think more about offense. A defense oriented team like Rutgers will never win The Big One in this era. unless they have a couple of high scorers.  Too few games when three Rutgers players score in double figures. Something has to change, either C. Vivian  or the  person holding the head coach job.

I'm done.

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Honolulu Lulu

A strange one from the Sixties: Jan & Dean's Pop Symphony No. 1 (did they expect a No. 2?). Who was the intended audience? But Jan & Dean were pop music studio auteurs specializing in quality "product," & this is their album, not an easy-listening knockoff, they put considerable  effort into it & it's filled with humorous musical touches. I find it very charming. "Honolulu Lulu" ("Queen of the surfer girls") is my fav Jan & Dean single.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Our Miss Brooks

I've been listening to  an old radio show, "Our Miss Brooks, " starring Eve Arden.  Miss Brooks was a feisty, acerbic, smart, single, independent high school English teacher, a remarkable radio character for the time, certainly a cool role model for young women.  The era is the late 1940's. Connie Brooks is underpaid, not unionized, subject to the whims of a tyrannical boss, her principal, who orders her to do extra work (or "favors") - some of it menial, demeaning, or absurd, she's often in fear for her job for reasons unrelated to her teaching skills. The principal lives very comfortably.   Miss Brooks'  car is usually in the repair shop; a student drives her to school in his jalopy  most days. Some months she can't pay her rent on time - she resides with an elderly woman;  occasionally she can't afford a cheap lunch in the school cafeteria. She has an unrequited crush on Mr. Boynton, a biology teacher, but he's also  broke most of the time,  despite being much more frugal than Miss Brooks, who is a soft touch.  Boynton maintains his classroom menagerie of frogs & hamsters at his own expense.  At the center of the show is, I think, an economic reality of the era for school teachers. By the time I entered high school it had changed, although job security - tenure -  rather than salary was the greater attraction. A funny show.

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A little girl wearing a pink dress
stands by the reception desk
in the mental health clinic,
her eyes fixed on a man
holding an unopened red umbrella.
There is nothing peculiar
or remarkable about the man
except for the red umbrella
he has brought on a sunny day.

"Latisha, come here," says her mother,
a tall attractive woman with
tightly braided hair. Latisha
doesn't hear her mother. She is
gazing at the man with an umbrella.

"Latisha, What are you looking at girl,
come here." But Latisha is over there
by the reception desk, looking
at the man with the umbrella.

Her mother gets up, walks over,
gently takes the little girl's hand,
leads her to the seats. The eyes
of girl never leave the man
holding the red umbrella.

Latisha, if you would be a poet,
you must stand over there,
as if your soul depended upon it,
you must stay over there until
your mother brings you over here.
© Bob Rixon


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mixed sports metaphor of the day: "If it's all being done with smoke & mirrors it's going to come out in the wash."

Medford Lake NJ

Church in the New Jersey Pine Barrens

(A bit creepy, just like the Barrens)

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Saturday, November 13, 2010


"Going forward, no nation should assume that their path to prosperity is simply paved with exports to America."
President Obama

That's something the rest of the world already knows. Particularly India & China, which view their own populations as the greatest potential markets for their own goods.

We shouldn't judge the President too harshly for his failure to turn this overseas trip into a series of smiling photo ops & announcements of trade agreements. The multi nation summits were scheduled long ago, & he used them to add on State visits to India, Indonesia, & South Korea he no doubt now wishes he hadn't. Presidents usually arrange for some done deals in advance of their trips, requiring only their ritual public signatures when they arrive.

The emerging global economic order is not something America has the power to prevent. We could've channeled it more to our advantage, but that would've required consumer adjustments (sacrifices) we were not willing to make. The average American's view of India is not only outdated, but colored with  caricature. I like  Indians.  Why not take advantage of our job out-sourcing & loose immigration & work visa policies? The educated, hard-working middle class Indians back there are just like the ones here, their number is growing. India is also an ancient culture (or cultures), which America is not. They are rooted in it, but it also holds some heavy baggage of caste, class, seemingly intractable poverty, & regional contention. Remarkable how much of it they've managed to lighten in sixty years. We must find a way to be friends & allies. We can help each other in so many ways, standing up to China,  against Islamic fundamentalism, providing markets for our goods - if we  manufacture goods they want & need.  India will not be bullied by us. They never were. We weren't their colonial power (although we supported England), & they hovered in the Soviet Union sphere-of-influence as we favored Pakistan when Pakistan was an important piece of our USSR containment policy. They're not a Gandhian nation, yet they still honor Gandhi; something about the Mahatma has always appealed to Americans. We also went up against England when the odds were against us, & with far fewer grievances. Bur where we had the guns, Gandhi only had the numbers - & a longer view of history. We need to take a longer view now. Our current President has the capacity for that view - no potential Repug president does -  & for planning & acting upon it, but we haven't the patience. Americans aren't noted for patience. We need a "new frontier," or something.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Big Scream the poetry 'zine

Positive  response to "November 11" poem on Facebook.  Poet Dave Cope got dibs on it for his Big Scream 'zine, which is where the poem likely would've been published 20 years ago. Big Scream is probably the longest running regularly published poetry 'zine in America. My poems first appeared in B/S about 30 years ago, when it was mimeographed, & it had been in existence for awhile at that time. Early on, I tried to get published in "prestige" literary mags, neat, often expensively printed periodicals.  I did get some poems in New York Quarterly & a number of lesser known mags.  I was trying build a "resume." But I became concerned with the company I was keeping in those publications, the  conservative range of poems they accepted. I wanted outlets for all the kinds of poems I was making, & I needed editors & readers who would try to understand & maybe even like them. I would do the same for their poems. So more & more I turned to alternative 'zines. Many of the poets I've known for decades published 'zines, & I considered them heroic & a little bit nuts; Dave Cope, Jim Cohn with Napalm Health Spa (now online) Dave Roskos & his large, messy, lovable Big Hammer,  Mike Selender's Lactuca,  Joe Weil's Black Swan among them. I even bought a working mimeo for $30 at a church rummage sale, but I searched in vain for an electronic stencil cutter so I could publish a 'zine with drawings like the stuff  coming out of St. Marks Poetry Project in the Seventies.  When cleanly made, mimeo had a true print quality unlike the copy machines that gradually replaced them.

Sometimes I held back my more conventional poems from Cope,  knowing he would patiently follow my lines all over the page. Sympathy for 'zine editors eventually pulled me over to the left margin. I figured  they would print more of my poems if the poems required less effort to type, & I'd send  eight or ten poems if I had them, bound to be two or three they'd  accept without reservation.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I still don't feel well, but I have good reason to feel blessed today.

 Nice thing about Facebook, lots of birthday greetings.  Carrie Cann sends me a lovely Jacquie Lawson animated e card I watch three or four times because subtle things happen in the background or off to the side.

I'm not a religious believer in astrology. Rather, it's like what an artist friend says about standing by the ocean: She knows where she is. In Jersey, there's the ocean, the land, beach stretching off north & south, & the Sun rises unobstructed  exactly where & when it's supposed to. The great mountains of the far west unsettled me until I reached the Pacific. Then I knew where I was, & I was comfortable from Oregon all the way to San Diego.

Astrology is a place to stand. You have your Sun Sign, your birth place & time, & all the myth & symbolism of the planets arranges itself exactly for you to interpret. You could probably pick a date at random & still learn something about yourself. When someone tells you their Sun Sign, they're giving you a certain view of them that's usually helpful if you give them plenty of wiggle room, because Sun Sign is broadest, most generalized of astrological personalities.

Much of what makes me seem "Scorpio" is probably attributable to this season in this part of the Northern hemisphere. It's the beginning of a 5th season here, Fall fading, less sunlight, many years it gives way in early December to damp, cold, drizzling days. So if your birthday is now, you look back at summer & won't see farther ahead than Christmas, which gradually brightens up the season as we approach it (if you like Christmas). Additionally, I was born on Veterans/Armistice Day, Martinmas (after St. Martin), so war - specifically the aftermath of war, affects my birthday as something America ponders on this day, though not with the depth of Memorial Day. It's a minor holiday, but important enough to close schools.

My Scorpio "taste" for vengence is more likely from being the youngest of four siblings.  Revenge usually had to wait, had to be schemed, & indeed it often tasted best "served cold." The moodiness was inherited from mom, the temper from dad. It adds up to Scorpio.

Scorpio was ruled by mighty Mars. Pluto was assigned to us after it was discovered, puny ball of ice.   Maybe we're Mars again now that Pluto is no longer a "planet."

Scorpios are represented by a stinging Scorpion (as the lower less evolved  order of the sign) &  soaring Eagle (as the higher).   I choose to be represented by the Horseshoe Crab, an inoffensive living fossil that scours the bottoms of our bays, moves to deeper water in Winter, then, in May, comes ashore by the many thousands for a week-long orgy of fornicating & egg-laying.  The most desirable females are big, old, & encrusted with barnacles. Birds time their migrations to be in Jersey at Horseshoe Crab time, there are so many tiny eggs to be consumed.   Many Crabs don't survive, more killed by the sun than by birds, who don't find them very tasty, maybe it's the blue blood & that they're mostly shell, not much meat. Then the Crabs return to the water & you don't see them again for another year, only molted shells & the occasional casualty of tide or age.  They aren't even crabs, but are distant relations of spiders. Horseshoe Crabs are not what they seem to be. The "stinger" tails are not stingers but tools for levering themselves off their backs when waves turn them over. They might pinch you by accident. Blue Claw Crabs do it to hurt you;  I've seen people jump out of boats to get away from pugnacious Blues. I go nuts when I see beach strollers mistreat Horseshoe Crabs.

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November 11

"peace is the absence of triumph"
joel oppenheimer

leaves falling
on a day off from school
usually a chilly breeze
drawing winter closer

each year my birthday
had a sadness
from promises not kept:
the end of war

Armistice Day
a wreath quietly appeared
beneath a World War One statue
on the corner of Chestnut & Clay

my father's tin soldiers
antique gun collection
cans of black powder
Civil War library

who was the enemy?
why was I marching?

yet the wars went on
in the world
in my family
& in myself

from stuttering words
to a stuttering life
there was no peace

what to celebrate
over withering marigolds
in my mother's garden?
triumph is a trumpet
signaling another war to come

a soldier who begins with trumpets
ends up face down in the mud
crying out for his mother
for God to let him live

a desire for triumph
is a desire for war
how difficult it was to believe
those marigolds would grow again
in some distant springtime

if we wait for spring
to bring renewal
we will die

if we wait for wars to end
we may not end our own

if we wait for peace to come
we may find no peace
while we are waiting

only in a spring
that cannot wait
for its season
is there love enough

© Bob Rixon

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gary McFarland: America The Beautiful

This forty year-old, six-movement "concept album" is making my 2010 favs list. I wasn't  aware of the album's existence until this year.  In 1969, McFarland had no audience for it. & the "environmental" theme was fairly new.  The album is brilliant, not perfect, I'll be writing more about it. "Suburbia" is the third movement, the band  first rate, the arrangements unusual.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Same cabbie to & from shrink's office today, attractive younger African American woman, on phone at one point  arranging a haircut for son. You're not supposed to talk on cellphones while driving, but many of the cabbies here have running chats with friends & family.  Dropped off at CVS on way back. Walked rest of the way from there, starting at my normal pace, but after a block I had to slow way down. Glad to see the Chinese guy's market up corner is open again.  Buy bananas there. Beautiful weather. Shrink was an hour behind schedule. They were verifying all insurances today. I know mine is  up-to-date because I receive a summary every few months of what the clinic charges (a lot for a 10 minute consult every other month) & what it collects (not much but what it deserves for a 10 minute consult),

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Monday, November 08, 2010

underperforming recovery

Sheesh, it's winter out there:  44 degrees & windy.

In a tough economy, old stigmas fall away

PARAMUS, N.J. – The Goodwill store in this middle-class New York suburb is buzzing on a recent weekend afternoon. A steady flow of shoppers comb through racks filled with second-hand clothes, shoes, blankets and dishes.

A few years ago, opening a Goodwill store here wouldn't have made sense. Paramus is one of the biggest ZIP codes in the country for retail sales. Shoppers have their pick of hundreds of respected names like Macy's and Lord &Taylor along this busy highway strip.

But in the wake of the Great Recession, the stigma attached to certain consumer behavior has fallen away. What some people once thought of as lowbrow, they now accept - even consider a frugal badge of honor.
The Great Recession is over. Now Wall Street Journal calls it an "underperforming recovery."

There 's been a large Goodwill store located on busy Route 18 in South River NJ for years.  A former girlfriend used to shop there, so did I  when I went with her, & I never noticed the customers generally looked "downscale."  It was a regular stop for many mall-hoppers & bargain-hunters.

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Belmar NJ

Regan's Yacht Club

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Friday, November 05, 2010

America: Yawn.

Keith Olbermann suspended From MSNBC indefinitely Without Pay

On the AM radio I pick up here, New York market,  distant stations later in the evening, I would say that 95% & more of the political talk shows are conservative / Republican & viciously anti-Obama. In NYC on AM, I know of only one consistantly "liberal" station, & it's aimed at a Black audience. So it's o.k. to shill for favored politicians & political views, providing millions of dollars in free campaign advertising, but not o.k. to contribute a few grand in campaign donations?

Do we have any idea, or even care, who is buying our politicians with enormous amounts of money & interest group campaign ads not directly authorized by the candidates, but approved by their staffs nonetheless?

Fact is, Olbermann did break NBC rules. But apparently so have a few of MSNBC regular conservative talking head  guest commentators. They must be "subcontracted"  & exempt. What are the Fox News rules? How much does Rupert Murdoch himself contribute to right wing candidates.

America: Yawn.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

X - Around My Heart

Thundering, anguished mid-tempo rocker from when X tried, with success in this song if not in the whole album I think, to move beyond punk.


Priorities: The sex lives of public school teachers

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself."
Walt Whitman
CNN Exit poll: Highest Priority for Next Congress
Other/No Answer

Cutting Taxes (19%)
D 26%
R 72%
O 2%

Reducing Deficit (39%)
D 33%
R 64%
O 3%

Spending to Create Jobs (37%)
D 68%
R 30%
O 2%

One might ask: How did Repugs get 30% of the voters who actually favored government job creation after they voted? It seems nutty to me to vote for a Repug/Tea Party candidate if you're pissed off that Obama didn't spend enough, & the candidate you voted for  may even oppose funding crucial,  justifiable earmark projects in your state or district.

I haven't seen figures for total R & D votes cast on Tuesday, but when the dust settles I suspect America will be about as evenly divided as we've been in all the even year elections since 2000.  The Repugs have neither the power nor the national mandate to repeal everything  Dems passed,  repudiating even George W. Bush as too liberal, as many have.  They're supposed to help fix the economy.

Look at it this way:  Sen. Jim DeMint,  a right wing & Tea Party hero, campaigning in South Carolina, can get away with suggesting that unmarried female teachers who engage in sex  should not be permitted in classrooms.  South Carolina, a place whose  attractions & culture  outside of, maybe, Charleston, escape me, loves the guy, or at least the white folks do.  & this Senator presumes to speak even for conservatives who could care less about such private behavior,  or understand the futility of caring.  He'd be laughed out of Jersey , & we're not quite as "blue" here as generally thought.  DeMint has an "agenda" that isn't really America in 2010, if we look at the whole map.  But he believes he does. That doesn't concern only me, or Democrats, but also John Boehner & establishment Republican bigshots who, until this year, figured they were conservative enough.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Throwing Muses: Fall Down

So what does it mean?

It means Americans won't know who to blame in '12.

It doesn't mean populism is over, or the Democrats are finished, or Republicans are the new permanent majority (which they thought they were only a few years ago, or Obama will lose reelection (he'll have to change his leadership style to win), or the federal guvmint will be torn down. It doesn't mean any of that. Two years ago Obama carried Indiana & Virginia. Americans are frustrated & angry, & in America, if we vote, we have a choice of two major parties. If not one, we have the other. Americans expected more & better results for the past two years. Republicans were the beneficiaries this year. If you think it's a smashing conservative ideological victory, I'll bet you're an ideologue & you're wrong. I thought the Obamaniacs were wrong in '08 & that it was a unique election win. I think Americans want bipartisan cooperation, & we're still not gonna get it.  It's a pleasant, hopeful  delusion  I was  forced  to give up when  Repugs kicked out most of the centrists & the remaining few became sniveling, prevaricating cowards.

America voted  the anger this year that Jersey & Massachusetts expressed a year ago.

MA reelected the Democratic governor & all the reps. Blue again.

In Jersey, Democrats as expected handed back a House seat they barely won two years ago, but was still close. That's all. In the only two state senate special elections, Democrats won those, too, which included a pick-up.

The issues that really matter to me are great issues that affect small lives. It's always a step ahead, half-step back.

It could be to the good if  we have an opportunity for addition by subtraction. As Repugs attempt to roll back the "big government" of the past few years,  Americans will learn (again) that we want much of the big government, & know how much of it originated with Repugs. As Repugs try to dismantle health care reform, Americans will probably say, "Stop. Not that part, or that other part." It was never explained to us clearly when it was passed.  We'll see it was smart to save the American auto industry.  Maybe, as with the old Repug congress, we'll see K Street calling the plays & buying what lobbyists want (Tom DeLay is on trial right now).  America did not vote in a solution on Tuesday.  It won't be long until we discover we elected an alternative we've already experienced, & rejected.  But where will we turn then?

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

I'm  abstaining today. The election here isn't the same one the rest of America is having. My councilman & congressman are safe. There's a ballot question I don't understand. It won't be the worse thing if three Republicans manage to get themselves elected to the nine member Union County Board of Freeholders due to low Democratic voter turnout.   But I've received no mailings from Repugs. They had a slim chance this year & didn't even try.

Anyway, I'm sick of being told to Vote Vote Vote  even if it means voting for one douche bag to keep another douch bag out, or to ratify a candidate in a one party town. I think America is really screwed up, perhaps irreparably. We have 24-hour memories, can't function without inventing enemies, & our political reasoning  is an endless series of outrageous non sequiturs.

Do expect out-of-control spinning by both parties when results are in. Many of the Repug candidates headed for victory knocked off incumbent Repugs in primaries. Probable that Repug party "discipline" & unity in Washington will more resemble Democrats. Rand Paul has his own mind & agenda & doesn't think he owes the party bosses.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - For Me

Uploaded this number today as a birthday gift for a former co-worker at Pearl Arts & Crafts. I like a lot of Brasil '66 songs from their Sixties LPs, but at WFMU I alternated between "For Me" & the beautiful "Like A Lover (O Cantador)."


Get ready for beat down

Democrats will take a heckova beating tomorrow, worse than they deserve.  They'll give up the  congressional seats they grabbed in '06 & especially '08, lose the House, maybe the Senate, though the latter is a longer shot.

Wisconsin is foolish if it throws away Russ Feingold, a great senator who really has tried to reform national politics.  Of course, his McCain/Feingold campaign financing reform now has so many loopholes that we don't know who is financing campaigns. & we need to know. We should have a right to know.

When  the Repug establishment invited Sarah Palin in  & made her a political superstar  (& was unable to restrain & control her), it was just a matter of time - two years - until some truly wacky Palin facsimiles arrived -  Christine O'Donnell in Delaware & Sharron Angle in Nevada. Angle might win. If she does, Nevada deserves her.  Like Alaska, Nevada feeds amply at the federal money trough (much, much better than New Jersey), & Harry Reid, like him or not,  knows how to keep that trough filled.  I don't think the Repug bosses can control Sharron Angle. In that sense, she might even be good for our politics. She can't do much damage as a freshman senator, but she can  make a lot of amusing noise.  The Beltway Repug leadership, although delighted to take control of the House, knows that control means it will bear a proportional share of the blame in  '12.  It will also have to somehow  block Palin's presidential ambitions as it weighs the possibilities of a Jeb Bush candidacy, or some other guy who understands what it's actually all about (keeping the trough filled).

President Obama got off the fence too late. Did everybody but him see this coming a year ago?  It's wasn't his responsibility to help - upfront or behind the scenes -  exiled & ex-Repugs like Charlie Crist & Lincoln Chafee.  He could always issue dry, pro-forma endorsements of Democrats from the White House & then stay away.  Obama should have been whistle-stopping  through America from  Day One of his administration, smacking down traditional Democratic targets & worrying less about  the bipartisan support he never got for legislation filled with ideas  he picked up from Repugs.  Americans have little patience for detailed explanations  - or rational debate the Repugs smartly declined  to have with him anyway. He should have learned from Bill Clinton  that no negative allegation  from the opposition, however nutty,  can go unchallenged.


"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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