Friday, September 30, 2011
It won't do to call him childish names, as the kneejerks at Kos are: "Dough Boy" & "Christie Creme." It didn't work in Jersey & it won't work anywhere except, maybe, Eugene, Oregon or some other jogger's organic food paradise. It's dangerous to assume Christie's podium belligerence wouldn't stand up well to Obama's famous cool. Jerseyans have been underestimating Chris Christie since he was George W.'s pick for Jersey District Attorney. Whatever shenanigans he's accused of committing while District Attorney are the sort of things that bore voters within 30 seconds.'
We have a government that can't fix the economy, regulate banks, end our wars, improve education, bring manufacturing jobs back to America, get immigration under control, or make any sort of far-sighted policy, But the government endlessly nags Americans about our weight & what we eat. The cheerleader of the naggers: The svelte First Lady serving her White House garden veggies at state dinners. Millions of Americans would identify with a fat guy running for president. & they wouldn't all be Republicans. Christie is comfortable in cities & unlike most of the current Repug candidates (Herman Cain excepted) he doesn't fidget nervously around African-Americans. If you walked him down a state fair midway, he would quite naturally arrive at the corn dog stand without a reminder from a campaign aide. Tacos, knishes, Swedish meatballs, ribs, red beans & rice, Jambalaya, Ho fun noodles, spinach - pigeon pea dal, corned beef & cabbage, cannolis, he could shovel it all in with appreciative, guiltless gusto. Taste by taste, vote by vote.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I had to go downtown to Radio Shack for a new mouse. I look at stuff, but there's few bargains at Radio Shack.
Speaking of bargains, the Bargain Man store went out of business. Bargain Man had the most awesome inventory of utter crap, it was almost mind-boggling. A "bargain" is something of reasonable quality for which you pay less than you might expect to pay. Nothing at Bargain Man was a "bargain" because you got what you paid for - crap, mostly made under what surely were slave labor conditions, much of which it was difficult to imagine who would buy it at all.
Bargain Man also sublet floor space for small shops run by caste-bound men from Gujarat working out their merchant dharma selling gold jewelry, luggage & umbrellas. At least half the stores in downtown Elizabeth are dharmic imperatives.
Conditions looked right for a rainbow, but none sighted.
Labels: Elizabeth NJ
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
All mimsy were the borogoves
“Is a title worth it?” she asked, rhetorically. “Does a title shackle a person? Are they someone like me who’s maverick? I do go rogue and I call it like I see it and I don’t mind stirring it up in order to get people to think and debate aggressively.”WTF is Sarah Palin talking about? If you read it very slowly, it begins to make sense. What is this language: go rogue, shackle-y, contemplation piece in my process? Good heavens, the woman believes she's qualified to be president & she speaks Jabberwocky.
“Is a title and a campaign too shackle-y?,” she continued. “Does that prohibit me from being out there, out of a box, not allowing handlers to shape me and to force my message to be what donors or what contributors or what pundits want it to be? Does a title take away my freedom to call it like I see it and to affect positive change that we need in this country? That’s the biggest contemplation piece in my process.”
Labels: THE election
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The Harry Robinson Crew - Stompin' at the Savoy
Monday, September 26, 2011
Dad's only book
The Company of Military Historians, Military uniforms in America: the first thirty years, index to the plates, published in 1979. 80 pages. Since the Company of Military Historians publishes collections of prints of soldiers from all sides in the Revolutionary & Civil Wars, drawn as historically accurate as possible in their uniforms, ordinance, & field gear, dad's book may have been a companion to the art folios. I've never seen it. It must have been in his library, probably with a collection of CMH folios, & should be in my sister's hands now that dad's second wife passed away. It's a family treasure, for my niece & nephews.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Go to church or go to jail
Serve Time In Jail...Or In Church?This is so wrong, so blatantly unconstitutional. The offender is given a choice only between church or jail. What if you have no church? What if your religion is not represented? What if you're an atheist? What if you're a wiccan solitary? What if the offender is me, or you, & we know it's nuts & wouldn't happen where we live? Maybe ... just maybe .. it could pass constitutional muster if community service was the third option. The "state" is saying you observe an approved religion for one year or go to jail. Your case will be dismissed only if you go to church. But don't think this is some new right wing religion idea. It's the way these people are, a small town in Alabama. But it's still so wrong that the first person to challenge it will find the ACLU paying legal costs. The town of Bay Minette, if it's too stubborn, will spend thousands of dollars of taxpayer money defending this ridiculous policy, & lose.
BAY MINETTE, Alabama --
Non-violent offenders in Bay Minette now have a choice some would call simple: do time behind bars or work off the sentence in church.
Operation Restore Our Community or "ROC"...begins next week. The city judge will either let misdemenor offenders work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine or go to church every Sunday for a year.
If offenders elect church, they're allowed to pick the place of worship, but must check in weekly with the pastor and the police department. If the one-year church attendance program is completed successfully, the offender's case will be dismissed.
Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland says it costs his department about 75 bucks per inmate per day. Rowland says the ROC program will be cost-effective and could change the lives of many people heading down the wrong path.
So far, 56 churches in North Baldwin County are participating in ROC.
Rowland says the program is legal and doesn't violate separation of church and state issues because it allows the offender to choose church or jail...and the church of their choice.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Rookie Manager Don Mattingly is bringing in the Dodgers at about .500. He stepped into a nightmarish situation there. It's presumed by many that The Mets front office is grooming feisty former Mets second baseman Wally Bachman for the manager job. But I think when feisty Terry Collins is done - he's a good judge & motivator of young ballplayers, The Mets will not be looking for another feisty, & it wouldn't surprise me if Mattingly were offered the job, provided he improves the Dodgers next season.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Carl Lewis, Olympic medalist, political aspirant, spiritual advisor
In reversal, federal appeals panel decides Carl Lewis will not be on ballot for N.J. SenateSpeaking of privilege & entitlement, I read the residency requirements & if they are constitutionally valid Carl doesn't meet them. He hasn't resided here four years. In 2009 he voted in California. I was surprised that any court sided with him. But he's Carl Lewis! There must be more to being a state senator than I'd thought, considering all the money spent to keep Carl on or off the ballot. It's not a celebrity office. Most people don't know which district they're in & who represents them. I can't recall the names of my assembly reps, although I can picture one of them, an overweight Hispanic woman. My state senator, Ray Lesniak, resides part of the time a few blocks from here. The rest of the time he's at his NYC Soho loft, his million dollar bayside house at the shore, or Paris, France. He's a lifelong bachelor.
TRENTON — A federal appeals panel this morning reversed its decision from just one week ago and ruled former Olympic track and field star Carl Lewis will not be on the ballot for state Senate after all.
"This isn't about residency. It's about keeping intact their privilege and their entitlement. They never wanted this to be a race," he [campaign manaager Chris Walker] said.
"And it makes you wonder why. When Carl Lewis, who was inducted to the New Jersey Hall of Fame, who was welcomed in by Gov. Christie himself and has represented this country over 20 years, and now, when he wants to step into a different arena to raise the level of consciousness amongst people, you say no?"
You don't have to reside in Jersey or be among the living to get into the Jersey Hall of Fame. Is it a qualification for office? Calling Bud Abbott (b. Asbury Park) & Lou Costello (b. Paterson).
What level of arrogance permits a candidate's spokeperson to say Carl is here to "raise the level of consciousness among people"? If I want my consciousness raised I'll learn to meditate or take up pot smoking again.
I wouldn't say I was certain Davis was innocent. I didn't read about any evidence that completely exonerated him. But his arrest & trial, the investigation & prosecution, cast reasonable doubt all over his case.
We know innocent people have been executed because of the number of death row inmates exonerated through DNA evidence. If you reason that it's acceptable to execute the occasional innocent person in order to ensure the capital punishment of the guilty, you ought to ask yourself what percentage of innocent is acceptable? Then apply the standard to some situation in which you are the innocent person serving that purpose of a supposed greater justice. Say to cover up a faulty model of radar gun, or an unreliable DWI test, or the profiling of dark-skinned people at police road checks, or even an inaccurate parking meter that gives 55 minutes for an hour worth of change. All of which, by-the-way, have been taken to the courts & won by private citizens who had a lot less to lose than their lives. The radar gun did catch actual speeders, the DWI test nabbed some drunk drivers, the profiling caught some fugitives wanted on outstanding warrants, & you shouldn't wait until the last minute to feed the parking meter. You're just the unlucky exception caught in the wheels of justice, so stiffen up & take it as a price of law & order.
It makes economic sense to abolish the death penalty. It costs twice as much in basic expenses to incarcerate a prisoner sentenced to death. The State pays for up to two decades of appeals that can amount to millions of dollars in legal fees for the inmate & the costs of upholding conviction. The motives for fighting appeals aren't always to preserve justice; they may be to protect careers, cover up shabby police investigations, & prevent the exposure of incompetent legal representation for poor people unable to afford quality criminal defense attorneys. Taxpayers pay less for life sentences.
An especially gruesome, heinous double murder is being tried in Connecticut right now. Home invasion, sexual assaults & murders of a mother & her teen & preteen daughters, the perps burned the house in an attempt to destroy evidence. It's a death penalty crime if there ever was one. One murderer already convicted & sentenced to death, the prosecution has a tight case against the other. But is this a one--in-five, or one-in-ten example in terms of the level of brutality & the weight of evidence? A sociopathic racist was executed in Texas this week for dragging a black man behind a truck. No one seems to have protested that one. I'm saying that I would give even these vicious criminals life without parole if that's what it takes to keep one innocent person out of the execution chamber.
I don't like the company we keep among most active death penalty nations: China, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia. In the Americas, only the United States has carried out executions over the past two years.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I am a college basketball fan. Football is undermining the Big East, arguably the best basketball conference in America, but the weakest of the conferences with an automatic BCS football bid. There's two Big East schools in Jersey, one in New York City, one in Philly, & two - Syracuse & Notre Dame - with large alumni fan bases in the NYC metro area, The Big East Tournament, played at Madison Square Garden, has in some years been so exciting that it made the NCAA Tournament anti-climatic.
Syracuse & Pitt have opted to join the ACC, Sometimes Pitt has a really good football team. Syracuse hasn't been a power for a long time. Both have great basketball teams year-after-year.
Briefly, it looked as if the Big East would crumble. Rutgers & UConn would certainly receive invites from ACC, Rutgers possibly from Big Ten.
The Big East would still be a pretty good basketball conference if it dropped all the football schools. Assuming Notre Dame remains independent in football (the Irish have a very lucrative TV deal all to themselves), they stay. Plus St. John's, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette, DePaul, & Villanova ('nova has a fledgling football program, hoping to upgrade to BCS level but may now be having second thoughts. That's 8 schools, back to the predominantly Catholic league it was at the beginning. IF BE wanted to be larger, it could try to steal a school or two from Atlantic Ten, Temple & Rhode Island would be good fits, especially the latter if UConn leaves BE.
But the fate of the Big East depended on what happened far away in the Big 12 & PAC 12, conferences producing National Championship contenders every season. If PAC 12 expanded to a superconference with four schools from Big 12, the Big 12 would collapse, creating a ripple effect as more Big East football schools sought the security of larger conferences, the remaining Big East scavenging the ruins of Big 12. PAC 12 wisely decided to stay a far west conference for now, Texas wouldn't compromise or share its lucrative cable network, & the Big East stayed glued together, with one traditional football power nobody else wants, West Virgina, because it has a lousy media market. The Big East is also the only conference willing to let Notre Dame, with it's huge, exclusive TV contract, stay independent in football. In all other sports from basketball to fencing, the Irish are a Big East school.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Count Basie - Reach Out, I'll Be There
Monday, September 19, 2011
Grilled Cheese on Whole Wheat Bread Seasoned Peas & Carrots Jell-O
So pathetic. If what Munn claims is true - she wasn't aware her kids received subsidized lunches - there's some reckoning on the way for the Munn children, who either tossed the lunches mom packed them or pocketed the money she gave them for lunch & not telling her. That's unlikely. This is just one of those perks politically-connected people thoughtlessly accept when they complacently believe they're invisible or protected from scrutiny. It's also the kind of chump change benefit real power disdains in order to play bigger games with important money. Munn is a gavel-whacker, as provincial as an Atlantic City convention in February or a $100-per-seat charity dinner-dance at a local restaurant, formal dress optional but there's a red carpet on the sidewalk. The Star-Ledger knows where the real power is in Elizabeth's Board of Ed, & those men won't hesitate long before throwing Munn under the school bus. Any competent criminal defense lawyer can defend against & maybe even beat these charges, but it won't be cheap; it'll cost Munn far more than the $2,682 of grilled cheese, seasoned peas, & Jell-0 she's alleged to have stolen.Elizabeth Board of Ed. president arrested on state charges of lying to obtain free federally subsidized lunches for her kids
ELIZABETH — The president of the Elizabeth Board of Education was arrested at her home early this morning on state charges of lying to obtain free federally subsidized lunches for her two children.
Also charged was the ex-wife of a school principal whose daughter was also received reduced-cost meals, along with the husband of another supervisor whose daughter had received free lunch under the program that helps feed the children of needy families.
Charged were Marie L. Munn, 46 who heads the Elizabeth school district; Angela Lucio, 35, the ex-wife of school principal Carlos Lucio; and Peter W. Abitanto, 42, the husband of Marlene Abitanto, the district’s supervisor of custodians, according to a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office. He said all three were charged with third degree theft by deception and third degree tampering with public records or information.
I'm sure the speculation around Elizabeth & Union County is that Munn, Abitanto, & Lucio aren't the intended quarry, but rather three birds the attorney general's office wants to start singing.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Fort Monmouth NJ
Most of Fort Monmouth is on a peninsula surrounded on three sides by tidal estuary & marsh. Much of the marsh is now developed, the old dredged channels silted in.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Fort Monmouth closes forever
Fort Monmouth closes to cut costs
EATONTOWN — Under an overcast sky that aptly reflected a somber mood, the retreat call was sounded and the American flag was lowered for the last time at Fort Monmouth today. And with the final 12 folds of Old Glory — before several hundred people on hand to pay their respects — came tears from some of the more hardened sort the fort produced.
A sad day. Not only because of Fort Monmouth's great history in New Jersey, especially for development of radio communications & radar. The Fort was a unique, compact, versatile property located between New York & Philadephia. I thought some use could found for it in the interest of "national security." * It also had a classic golf course - Suneagles, a marina & a motel. The Army gave it away. Maybe the Army is keeping the course. The Fort is best known as the home of CECOM (Communications & Electronic Command) & the Signal Corps. Research & development was based there, with several other sites in Monmouth & Ocean Counties.
The Base Closing Commission "said it would cost $782 million to move Fort Monmouth’s mission to Maryland. But by 2008, however, the cost had risen to $2 billion, the commission acknowledged."
My cousin's graduation from West Point was badly timed with the end of WWII - he missed the career-boosting combat experience he had expected to have. The atomic bomb ended the war a year earlier than projected. His first posting was with the Communications Corps. to occupied Japan, where he helped set up an FM radio network. Military FM was developed at Fort Monmouth, including a brilliantly-designed backpack transmitter you see in old war movies. His first job was to install a relay station to feed radio transmissions to headquarters in Tokyo. The problem was that Mount Fujiyama was in the way of the FM line--of-sight signal. Supposedly, it couldn't be done, but he was a green 2nd Lt. &, as he said, telling me this story, "You're ordered to do it, you damn well better do it." So, in desperation, he calculated some angles, crossed his fingers, & successfully bounced the signal off Mount Fujiyama into Tokyo. Fort Monmouth was his command base. He was assigned there for a year in the 1950's, but he was frequently in touch with it throughout his career. I visited the Fort while he was there, don't recall much about it..
Around the time my cousin was in Japan, an Army team based at Fort Monmouth, Project Diana, successfully bounced a radar signal off the moon, from an antenna built near the Fort in Belmar.
* The Fort closing had been talked about for a decade before the decision was made in 2005. After 9/11 I figured the Army would want to keep it, given it's proximity to New York..
Labels: growing up
Friday, September 16, 2011
Forward, to the past
I don't get this. For the past year, national polls measuring views on full marriage equality, when the choices are simply yes or no, come up about evenly divided. Northeast & West Coast are more in favor than South & Midwest. But when there are three choices; full marriage equality, domestic partnerships / civil unions, or no recognition, around a whopping 70% of Americans favor some kind of legal recognition for gay & lesbian couples. The hinge remains the word marriage. In Michigan, the legislature is acting against the preferences of a large majority of its constituents.
Michiganders & Americans support basic legal rights & protections for same sex couples. Approving a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man & a woman, as Michigan did, doesn't change that. A lot of straight people, mainly over the age of 40, have problems applying the word marriage to same sex couples. Michigan voted against gay marriage, not against civil unions, & if they were polled today it's what the polls would indicate. Most Americans by large margin want same sex couples recognized in some way as legitimate households, if not as husband & husband or wife & wife. True, Michigan has some very rural districts. In New Jersey, I doubt if any Republican has been elected to the statehouse with a mandate to roll back Jersey's civil union laws (despite what a few of them may believe), as he or she did not win election based on that issue. I suspect the same applies for most Republican legislators in Michigan. A large majority of Jerseyans support our civil union legislation, & there's been remarkably little complaint about it. It went into effect, we accepted it.
If there's a problem in Michigan defining a domestic partnership, if the state civil service commission has defined it in such a way that it could result in an abuse of benefits by couples that are not really committed "partners," the state legislature should deal with that matter & tighten the eligibility requirements with some stronger contractual standards, not use it as an excuse for homo-bigotry.
Unless The United States morphs into a theocratic police state, always a possibility if we stay on the road we're traveling, the next few generations of Americans will be repealing all these anti-marriage equality laws & amendments, except in Mississippi.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
We're "The Garden State," really
N.J. state Senator asks Gov. Christie to veto $420K 'Jersey Shore' production tax credit
TRENTON —A Democratic state Senator and a national coalition of Italian Americans are calling upon Gov. Chris Christie to block a tax credit awarded Wednesday to the production company of the hit MTV television show “Jersey Shore.”
“It is disparaging to Italian Americans. He should veto it, ” said state Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex), a frequent critic of the show who supports the film tax credit but said the state should not reward a television show that paints the state in negative light.
I went to high school in Jersey with dozens of people like the cast of Jersey Shore, & to be fair only some of them were of Italian descent. Maybe other Jerseyans have different experiences, like the state depicted in the slick magazine New Jersey Monthly. My guess is that Jersey Shore has brought far more than $420,000 into our economy during its four season run, with a fifth recently wrapped. Tax credits are given for that purpose, & if the recipient delivers, we have no gripe. No doubt Mr. Good Italian-American, State Senator Joe Vitale complained long & loud about The Sopranos, too. The Sopranos, one of the best TV shows in television history, received no tax credits. I suppose Boardwalk Empire, being "historical," isn't bad for the state's image, although the basics of the show are true enough. We Jerseyans are intrigued by our old corrupt political bosses, like Nucky Johnson.
It's ridiculous how touchy some people are about the state's image, as if one could control it. So let's hide the dying & bankrupt city of Camden, our honky tonk boardwalks, our obese governor, our current corrupt political machines, the fact that we suffer massive flooding in both cities & suburbia after heavy rainfalls, the presence of a dozen ethnic varieties of organized crime, & we'll henceforth be known only for restored Victorian mansions, upscale restaurants, Bruce Springsteen, The Pine Barrens, some pretty lighthouses, the new & sure-to-be fabulous Atlantic City Casino District designation that pretends it isn't attached to the rest of Atlantic City, Jersey Fresh produce, & a handful of remaining picturesque dairy farms.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
It's 9/14/01. three days after the terrorist attacks. America is in shock. So is New York City & the metropolitan area. But New York isn't listening to the rest of America. & the rest of America isn't really listening to New York. Watching, not listening.
The political face of New York is Mayor Rudy Giuliani. On 9/14 President Bush comes to town. He hasn't been a factor so far in the post-attack consciousness of New Yorkers. He wasn't there on 9/11 & he wasn't leading. Giuliani was. Giuliani has been bluntly honest about the scope of the destruction & the security measures put in place.
New Yorkers are confused & fearful. Will there be more attacks? They're also in motion. It's an international city comprised of an extraordinary variety of people, many of whom detest each other yet coexist peacefully for the most part. They're proud of this. It's what the hinterlands don't like about New York. A tremendous amount of effort is directed from all over the city toward smoking Ground Zero. Already one can feel movement to begin healing this tremendous rent in the fabric of of the city. The four outer boroughs & Manhattan above 14th Street are untouched. New York is not a city that can put up a "Closed" sign for more than few days.
There's anger, yes, & some anti-Muslim & anti-Arab attitudes. Most New Yorkers don't feel comfortable with this, at least not yet. Maybe time for that later, time for hate. For now, what you feel out of New York is mostly sadness, resolve,. & compassion.
On 9/14 families of the missing are still posting & passing out "Have you seen?" fliers in an increasingly pathetic hope that loved ones may be unidentified in hospitals or traumatized into silence & hiding. The workers in The Pit toil on, exhausted, determined, frustrated. They know the truth. They don't want to say the truth. They can't admit it yet & no one expects them to. Mostly dust & fragments. This isn't earthquake rubble. It's only a matter of timing, how long before announcing the DNA experts are coming in.
Your son, daughter, wife, husband, father, mother, friend, are gone.
On 9/14/01 President Bush goes down into the pit & is handed a bullhorn. Here is the transcript of that visit.
President Bush: Thank you all. I want you all to know -- it [bullhorn] can't go any louder -- I want you all to know that American today, American today is on bended knee, in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, for the workers who work here, for the families who mourn. The nation stands with the good people of New York City and New Jersey and Connecticut as we mourn the loss of thousands of our citizensNo one remembers what President Bush said. He had nothing of consequence to say. Amazing if you think about it. What America heard was "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"
Rescue Worker: I can't hear you!
President Bush: I can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people -- and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!
Rescue Workers: [Chanting] U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
President Bush: The nation -- The nation sends its love and compassion --
Rescue Worker: God bless America!
President Bush: -- to everybody who is here. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for makin' the nation proud, and may God bless America.
Rescue Workers: [Chanting] U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
Ground Zero workers did what one would expect them to do; vent patriotically. But the President himself needed to take a more balanced tone. For the second time in four days he failed to establish his own leadership & voice, gave the situation over to others.
We needed to step back & be calm. We needed to follow the conspiracy back to its roots & follow the funding of the conspiracy, which would have taken us beyond bin Laden & the Taliban. To where? We needed better intelligence & diligent international police work before we mobilized our armed forces for invasion.
On 9/14 the 9/11 attacks became not a global tragedy, & not local tragedies, & not even personal tragedies, but a collective national insult. It was too soon. We decided it was another Pearl Harbor before we certain who had attacked us.
On 9/14 the Bush administration began beating the war drums. Our leaders had the balls to ask young people to die by the thousands for America, in Afghanistan, which we expected, & in Iraq by turning Saddam Hussein into Saddam bin Laden, but they lacked the courage to ask Americans to pay for it. In this President Obama is not that different from President
When we finally cornered bin Laden a decade later, we dealt with the man who had the answers to many of our questions by putting a bullet in his head.
America should have listened to New York City. All of New York City.
"Hate is too great a burden to bear," said Dr. King. Yet for a decade we have preferred a generalized hatred for Arabs (Saudis excepted), Muslims of all kinds, & a "War on Terror" (as if terror had one source we could conquer - Norway should teach us something about that), & the creation of a national security state to reforming our financial institutions, repairing our infrastructure, developing a sound energy policy, & a thousand other challenges that would give us the kind of bright, hopeful future that would absorb any blows terrorists directed at us, & undermine their credibility & appeal around the world. The world can plainly see that we are becoming less & less of what we claim to be.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
The best part of "I told you so"
Then I noticed that when he was hanging outside on the stoop, which he does for many hours each day, he wouldn't even look at me as I went in & out of the building, total eye aversion, like a guilty little kid. I never saw the moped again. I figure he either busted it completely or, even better, the cops took it. The latter would make me in his mind an eerily prescient person. The best part of "I told you so" is never saying it or even insinuating it.
Labels: Elizabeth NJ
Sunday, September 11, 2011
The only poem I wrote about 9/11
Martin of Tours, as the Burning Towers Fall
When I turn again, witnessing the horror,
When I turn again, sharing the grief,
When I turn again, bearing the suffering,
When I turn again, my thorny crown blooming roses,
I turn away from retribution.
Demonic Powers! I embrace you until death!
Draw closer to me now, taste my love.
The only poem I wrote about 9/11. It's difficult for me to recapture the emotional state that produced it. But I was strongly resisting letting media or politicians define the meaning of 9/11 for me. Something evil had happened. Evil is not destroyed by shooting at it, by imprisoning it, by executing it. It is as at best only constrained. In that sense, evil's power is equal to love. But evil is destroyed by love. This is a profoundly disturbing truth, because who believes he or she has love strong enough to conquer evil? No, our human inclination is to pick up a weapon & try to slay it. To do that we have to make someone or something the embodiment of evil, & ourselves warriors for good.
I'm not naive. I understand what it takes to protect & preserve one's self, one's family, one's country. One may ask for God's blessings in battle. But when Martin of Tours took his first steps toward sainthood (makes no difference to me if these stories are legends or facts), he made himself unfit to be an officer in the Roman army.
This poem is consistent with what I've always expressed in my poetry. But the voice here is one I hadn't used before & haven't since. It was published at the now-defunct website Poets Against the War (mainly Iraq). I was never comfortable placing it in that context. I had to use the Wayback Machine to recover it.
Jersey City NJ
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Toward the Unknown Region
Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Words by Walt Whitman
DAREST thou now O soul,
Walk out with me toward the unknown region,
Where neither ground is for the feet nor any path to follow?
No map there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.
I know it not O soul,
Nor dost thou, all is a blank before us,
All waits undream'd of in that region, that inaccessible land.
Till when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds bounding us.
Then we burst forth, we float,
In Time and Space O soul, prepared for them,
Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil O
Flight 93 took off from Newark International Airport. I lived six miles away directly in line with the runway. It took off at 8:42, 4 minutes before Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower. I may have heard it fly overhead as I was watching Good Morning, America, , just before the first news bulletin.
Flight 93 poses several what ifs? of 9/11. What if the hijackers of Flight 93 had not inexplicably delayed their takeover of the plane until passengers learned of the fates of the other three jets? What if the terrorists on any of the other three jets had also delayed their hijackings?
The courage of the passengers on Flight 93, their determination to stop the terrorists' plans, is one of the great heroic moments in American history, which is filled with such moments. We can believe that passengers on the other three jets would have done the same. The 40 people commemorated at Shanksville represent not only all the acts of valor that happened on 9/11, but also all the acts of valor that would have happened had people been given the chance to perform them.
Friday, September 09, 2011
I'd also reread some of Paul Tillich's existential theology for dummies books, & had tackled his more difficult History of Christian Thought. It was one those books where I had to read some paragraphs four or five times & move on hoping maybe they'd eventually make sense. I'd also read theologian Walter Wink's The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium, a fairly radical examination of the politics & agencies of domination in which Wink updated difficult (& I had previously considered quaint) concepts of angels & demons as psychic & emotional energies generated by institutions, communities, families. These energies could be positive or negative but are usually a mixture of both. Some are darkly mindless & oppressive. I'd also read a wonderful brief history of progressive religion in America, a title & author I just can't recall, too bad because I'd like to read it again. It was very refreshing to read a counter-history to the revisionist shit churned out by the religious right, which had opposed just about everything good & just & enlightened in American history. I was reading about the natural history of New Jersey, the earth underfoot, the beaches & marshes. I was trying to ground myself in arts & ideas that had been tested & had endured.
The upshot is that the events of 9/11, shocking as they were, were not for me primarily political or nationalist, they were not Pearl Harbor or Fort Sumter, which had announced themselves to wise observers long before they actually occurred. The 9/11 attacks were the latest expression of the irrational, demonic horrors the human race has always generated, & which are in a very real sense why the highest forms of the great religions exist - to help us understand & cope, & see through & into their true nature, not to wrap us in ignorance & superstition. Like everyone else, I knew the day would be a singular, life-changing passage. It was, even more so than the assassination of John Kennedy (which I experienced as young adolescent, & quickly put behind me). For all the human tragedy & suffering, 9/11 was very much about symbols. I've never believed the conspirators cared how many Innocent people they murdered, 1,000 or 100,000. That was incidental to their goals. I don't believe they intended to completely knock down the Twin Towers. I believe they wanted two jagged, smoking, half-destroyed structures in the New York skyline. I believe the complete collapse of the Towers foiled them. There was nothing left to photograph, no strong propaganda image, no destruction of symmetry. The art of Islam is very big on symmetry, on abstract completeness. It's not difficult to imagine that a radical Muslim would consider the Twin Towers the epitome of western arrogance. They would not like the design & meaning of the Pentagon, either. What happened to the Pentagon was more what they were after. The valor of Flight 93 passengers prevented an attack on the Capitol or White House, we're not sure. I don't intend this coldly, but 9/11 was planned as global theater. It was staged for television. At Pearl Harbor, the Japanese wanted to sink America's Pacific carrier fleet & paralyze our war efforts for the minimum two years it would take to rebuild. It was a practical military strategy, & it failed by luck on our part. Al-Qaeda had no army, no navy, no air force. They did it with only 19 suicidal fanatics. That was their message to us.
Those of us fortunate not to have lost loved ones on 9/11, or been present at the scenes of death & destruction - I don't need to recall the images burned into my mind & yours, they were more traumatic in person - were able to distant ourselves ever so slightly, by one method or another. One had to do it, or risk succumbing to madness. New York City didn't go mad. America did.
The pity is that in the aftermath of 9/11 America was not guided by the responses & attitudes & spirit of New Yorkers & those who know New York City & the metropolitan area. But that's for another post about 9/14.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
The Lost Decade
I don't think I've ever said anything more cynical than that anyone who supported the excessive measures we took & the endless war we've waged in response to 9/11 & failed to personally profit materially from them is an All-American sucker. Just ask the folks who turned the redevelopment of Ground Zero into a multi-billion dollar white collar criminal enterprise, passed the outrageous costs on to everyone else as toll & transit fare increases - lying about why those hikes were necessary. Instead of going to jail they get to stand on the podium on Sunday, weeping crocodile tears. But a tiny slice of the 9/11 bonanza.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
I ordered a new printer & an answering machine. With the printer, I tried to balance ink costs with a few functions I absolutely wanted, without spending much, & I chose a model with far more positive than negative geek & amateur reviews. You just have to hope the machine isn't too cranky & that the self-cleaning doesn't eat up the colored inks. They're gonna get you on ink no matter what the projected cost-per-copy is. That's the game. I haven't had a printer for a long time. My old answering machine lasted over 20 years & suddenly began acting crazy. Hardly anyone uses answering machines anymore, there's only a couple on the market. I wouldn't need one, except that my phone is also connected to the downstairs intercom & door buzzer, I have no way of telling intercom from phone call without picking up or screening the call. Of course, there are a number of idiots in this (or any) building who'll buzz in anyone. When the Watchtower people knock, my first reaction is to want to ask, "Who the hell let you in? Because I know I didn't."
Also ordered Adele Kenny's new book of poems. When one's poet friends have "real" books published nowadays (rather than self-printed chapbooks - see above printer), you should buy it if you want to support their art & can afford it. Poets can't afford to give away dozens of copies just because you happen to know them. Poets are lucky if they find publishers that cover printing costs & do some promotion. I used to receive lots of "review" copies when even small publishers allocated a substantial number for that purpose. No more. A small volume of poems in a hard copy is a work of art, far nicer than downloading an e book. Only over the past few years have I come to appreciate Adele's classiness, her fine taste, & her Franciscan spirituality.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Monday, September 05, 2011
The Things We Did Last Summer
Sunday, September 04, 2011
Beach Haven NJ
Saturday, September 03, 2011
I like many of the silly movies he produced, by other directors.