Saturday, December 31, 2011

Burning Spear - No More War


Friday, December 30, 2011

Fooling around with few  year-end music lists; best cocktail/tiki/exotica;  albums I've uploaded to You Tube in entirety;  a Henry Mancini list. But that's old stuff & I got stuff I haven't listened to yet & one more day to qualify for a 2011 list. Book Fav lists are impossible. I keep a list of every book I read, but I rarely add a  note to remind me of why I liked or didn't it. I   liked two period crime   novels  by Sandra  Scoppettone this year featuring a woman who takes over her boss' private eye business in NYC during WWII when he enlists  in the Army, where everyone speaks in stylized 40's movie dialogue. They were very entertaining & I thought they'd make great movies. The actors I imagined  in the lead, Marissa Tomei or Katy Sagal, are too old for it now. In The Last Gig & Sick Like That, Norman Green's P.I. Alessandra “Al” Martillo, took over her employer's agency in contemporary NYC when he was shot, but she's an entirely different kind of character;  dark, violent, street-tough, sexually driven but incapable of real intimacy. If I browse the list I can come up many crime novels I really  enjoyed, & few I disliked but finished anyway. I read True Grit for the first time. Although the newer film is  closer to the novel's spirit of Biblically-inspired vengeance-as-justice (a great American theme we still debate seriously),  & the character  of Rooster Cogburn,  the John Wayne version didn't seriously betray either one.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Next stop: Iran

URBANDALE, Iowa - Texas Gov. Rick Perry opened up a new line of criticism against President Obama today, saying he hadn't shown the proper courtesy in welcoming troops returning home from the war in Iraq.

"It really disturbs me that after nine years of war in Iraq, this president wouldn't welcome our many heroes home with a simple parade in their honor," Perry said during a meet-and-greet with the West Side Conservative Club here. He speculated that there was no parade due to the war's unpopularity among Democrats.

Fishing for a issue. Whew. The government's home front strategy for the Iraq War under both presidents was to hide the true costs of the war,  so we wouldn't be aware of how many military personnel were there as they were deployed & redeployed like  a deadly version of three-card monte; how many dead; how many wounded; how much money was borrowed & wasted.  It was a series of short cons adding up to one big con.  The first con, if you recall, was connecting Saddam with the 9/11 conspiracy. Most Americans still believe that one, so the rest were relatively easy.

March a few thousand soldiers, the last to serve in Iraq,  up Broadway or Pennsylvania Ave., & we're supposed to think, "Gee, mission accomplished!  That didn't take  much."  Sheese, the Repugs would have a field day with that! We'll be "honoring"  vets for decades to come with cutbacks in vet benefits & medical care, as we continue to deny the price America had to pay to rid the world of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction & install a radical Islamic government  we expect to be "friendly" to the United States.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I was reading the comments on a nice story about two generations of Elizabeth cops in the same family,  five in all, & the posts descended into A. Gripes about cop salaries. B. What an awful place is Elizabeth.

I don't know how much cops here make, & I'm aware too many of them aren't residents of the city, & I saw a patrol officer the other day who couldn't be described as anything other than fat & out of shape. But before you complain about city cop salaries, it's good idea to ask yourself why you're not a cop in a city.

As for hating on Elizabeth, there's a lot to not like about Elizabeth, or any city in Jersey. What I mainly  don't like about it is its cultural blandness (I probably wouldn't feel that way if I were Cuban or Colombian). This was a more interesting city when my mom was growing up here. She grew up in Elmora Hills, the suburban west end that extends over to a few blocks from where I live. But she attended public schools when Elizabeth was a manufacturing powerhouse with ethnic enclaves: Italian, Irish, Polish, African -American, Jewish, German, Hungarian. Mom didn't revel in diversity, but she wasn't intimidated by cities & she knew a calzone from a perogie. She didn't discourage her kids from going to cities, in fact, she even encouraged it by  giving me money to see first run blockbuster movies  in New York with my friends  & not warning me to stay away from 42nd Street.

I admit it's been a long time since I considered Newark & Paterson places of interest I liked exploring. But if you dig into the knee-jerk rants some people make against Elizabeth (or Newark, or Jersey City for that matter), you realize, because they are so bigoted & misinformed,  that  they are likely terrified of all cities. They'd hate Chicago & New Orleans & San Francisco & Los Angeles. They'd hate London & Paris & Rome & Amsterdam & Madrid.  They probably hate Honolulu.  There have been city haters since the establishment of the very first cities. They invoke deities to destroy cities & are beside themselves with glee when some natural catastrophe befalls a Sodom or a Lisbon.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nice having Hanukkah & Christmas overlap this year. We were also mercifully  spared most of the "War on Christmas" crap. It should be obvious by now, especially on Black Friday, that it's a war we wage on ourselves & has nothing to do with religion or saying "Happy Holidays" as a simple courtesy to non-Christians.  Back in the 1920's & 30's anti-semites  were accusing Jews of undermining the Christian religious significance of the holiday.

I used to know a few Jews with "Hanukkah Bushes." Now I know Hindus, Baha'ists, wiccans & atheists that take what they like from Christmas tradition, most of which originally came from pagan practices anyway, along with ancient tales from Persia grafted on to the original oral accounts, It was  pagan practices centuries ago that turned Puritans  against the observance pf Christmas. But Northern Hemisphere humans need a festive holiday to get us past the solstice & the six or seven weeks of darkness & cold until the frigid clear day in February when we first feel the heat of the sun on our backs. I worked for a Indian guy with American wife, they celebrated a form of Christmas even though she' participated in his Hindu sect & temple (which apparently didn't require a renouncing of Christianity). Hindus love festivals, colorful decorations & lights.  He believed Hinduism was the "mother" of Christianity, & Jesus had spent his so-called "lost years" in India receiving instruction from holy men. He was o.k. with all the signs & wonders surrounding the birth of Jesus - he just disputed that they were unique.  Of course great holy people have extraordinary births; the circumstances, he said, predict  what kind of holy person the baby becomes. The place, the weather, the position of the stars, the visitors, the supernatural beings, how animals react,  he said, all mean something.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Twas the day after Christmas

Christmas Eve can be a little tricky for me, emotionally. But that's largely because I've rarely had an "ideal" Christmas Eve. For a number of years my then-female cohabitant & our next-next door neighbors co-hosted small late-evening parties for local friends, all of us had earlier obligatory family functions. Small gifts were exchanged, party  food consumed & much beverage imbibed. Those parties broke up around 3 or 4 am. Later, I had a few sentimental type Christmas Eves with another girlfriend,  tree in my apartment.

Apt building next block.
I often spent Christmas Day at my sister's for a traditional dinner, very theatrical in the Norman Rockwell mode.  But when I no longer had a car this pleasant six-hour excursion , or an overnight if I decided to attend Pottersville Reformed church on Christmas Eve & packed a sports coat & tie  (Rixons do not do church casual),   turned into a three-day, two-night  production before my shrink began providing me with an efficient snooze-inducer named Ambien. I had no lap top or wifi,  had to check my identities as a venerable WFMU  DJ &  & respectable minor poet & writer at the door along with my heavy winter jacket, & suffer being called "Bobby" by my brother-in-law, Only three people may call me Bobby: My sister, & two WFMU DJs , Stan  & Monica.

It became too much. By 2002 I felt like the most expendable & least liked  of the guests. I naively  believed I should be commended for surviving a depression that institutionalized me for a week, followed by retina  surgery (I've had four) that rendered me legally blind in one eye thus ending any hope of retuning to bookstore employment requiring me to heave 50 pound boxes & read long packing slips with minute print,   In 2002 I should have been arranging  a six-figure malpractice suit against an eye surgeon, but I wasn't yet aware my eye was permanently  ruined (the surgeon hadn't told me) or of the statute of limitations. So there went my one chance at a modest doublewide in a Cape May County trailer park with the usual nautical decor, & a Hyundai Accent, collecting SSD & working part-time in-season at a miniature golf course.

 My therapist at the time - I saw her every week - was struggling to get me to accept  this changed  situation & use all the benefits it made available, & which  I was  irrationally resisting. "Why?" she would ask, again & again. I knew but I was afraid to say. It took another 10 days in Ward 2B, no one  knowing I was there, to make the point for good. I walked away from that semi-voluntary  incarceration determined  that for anyone who could not accept & besupportive of my condition & situation, I would become as best I could a  courteous but distant character. I would not let others put me down & undermine my worth  anymore,  whether they did so openly or subtly. That is reserved to me. You can believe that what I put out on the internet is the "real" me or decide I'm behind a curtain pulling levers that manipulate  a phony persona. But any poem, good or not so good, signed by me, is not the creation of a phony.

The most remarkable thing about the community, or communities of friends & acquaintances spread across the internet from California to England, is that none of them are fakes or phonies. They may go months posting political gripes, recipes, funny photos, favorite music mp3s, or hardly anything at all, & then, boom, something bad happens to them, which they write about with candor. Because they are talking to friends.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Morristown NJ

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Christmas Serenade

Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge

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Mele Kalikimaka

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve: A Recollection

My parents put a lot of effort into Christmas, making it quite magical, particularly when I was very young, 4, 5 years old. They had a feel for tradition & theater. Fans of Norman Rockwell or Doctor Spock, read on.

Christmas Season started when dad stapled up the strings of colored lights around the front porch. A some point he added two funky giant candles he'd constructed out of cardboard cylinders, cellophane, & light fixtures. Everything he designed looked designed by a dad.. There were lots of decorations tacked or taped inside the house, & our one classy display, a beautiful creche set probably purchased at Woolworth's in the 1930's. When dad knocked an opening between the living room & a narrow "playroom" addition he built on the side of the house replacing a wraparound porch, it became a kind of stage complete with draw curtains, spotlights, cotton snow, figurines, & the nativity scene. It looked like we had family puppet shows. Over time, the Holy Family & Three Kings were joined by small wind up robots, plastic dinosaurs, & various H-O size train accessories. Mom was into baking Christmas cookies, some of them flavored with ashes from her Raleigh cigarettes. In my earliest years, the tree wasn't put up until late Christmas Eve after the four children were in bed. So Christmas Eve was more about anticipation & mystery. It's supposed to be about those things.

Mom made spaghetti for Christmas Eve supper, was fast & easy, & she'd be pretty busy for the next 24 hours. One of my brothers wanted his wife to continue this "tradition" which she justifiably rejected as too peculiar if not cultish. After supper, we were put in the care of "Nana," our resident gramma, & mom & dad went to  "visit" Phil & Gertrude Sprague, an older couple with a teenage daughter who lived next to the high school. Mrs. Sprague was a piano teacher & none of us became good pianists. In fact, all our presents were stashed at the Spragues; it was futile to try to hide them anywhere in our house. I'm sure mom & dad loaded up on a few drinks before they loaded up the car.

Meanwhile, back home, we put out cookies & milk for Santa & hung stockings in the playroom. My parents came home after we were in bed & supposedly asleep. They carried in the presents & dad brought in a Tree, probably kept in a neighbor's garage. No doubt this was a romantic moment when they had only one child, but it was high-pressure time for them later, working against the clock. Furniture had to be moved; the tree set up in a stand; lights tested & burnt bulbs replaced; the tree decorated with the many old ornaments we stored in the attic. Certainly, some presents had to be wrapped. Every year one of us got a bike or some piece of child machinery that had to be assembled & tested. Then they filled the stockings. I have no idea what time my parents got to bed, but at 5 am they were yelling at us to to go BACK to bed for another hour. For the first few conscious years of my life, I really had no clue how it was all done, or who did it, & don't recall caring if I knew. It was magic; or as I would call it now, amateur shamanism.

One year, my sister Jean & I encountered each other in the hallway outside our rooms, propped up each other's nerve with whispers, & crept through the murky predawn shadows, down to the landing where one could lean over & peek through the bannister into the living room. I lost my balance & tumbled halfway down the steps. I wasn't hurt, but I was so alarmed, afraid not only of being caught but of actually SEEING the presents & somehow ruining the magic for everyone else, that I scrambled back upstairs in a panic, vowing never again to break the Immutable Law Against Peeking, for which I'd been obviously & instantly reprimanded by Santa Claus (probably tipped off by Baby Jesus in the creche). But the living room was dark, as if nothing actually existed there yet.
Although I later suspected sneaky oldest brother Joe of giving me a push then dashing back to bed. Eventually, mom & dad got up, put on their robes, went downstairs, cranked up the heat - in the early 50s this meant a coal furnace, turned on all the lights, & called the four excited kids downstairs.

(reposted from 12/24/07)

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What Child is This?

A tribute to lawn & live nativities, all of which, however kitschy or corny capture something of the magic,  mystery,  miracle,  joy & sadness.The basic tableau is so established that it is rare to find alternate interpretations.

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My Christmas present this year came in form of a WFMU DJ, newly returned to staff after a long absence. requesting me as a fill-in at the suggestion of the station manager. Although I haven't done a show in a few years & my embouchure is messed up, & I look like crap, I was so tempted to sneak in & do it, except it included an hour of board op - sitting the home studio board for a remote broadcast, & I should not be entrusted with that responsibility  on my first show back in several years.. It's one thing to screw up your own show getting reacquainted with the set-up, I can cover that up - I used to create studio "accidents" on purpose - warped records, damaged CDs, electrical shocks, even falling off my chair   - quite another to incompetently mess up someone else's program out on location. The invite alone is a gift.

Friday, December 23, 2011

aloha Christmas

Christmas sneaked up this year. Have to remember to tune in Letterman tonight for the hit-the-meatball challenge with Jay Thomas, Jay's annual telling of his crazy Lone Ranger story, & the incomparable Darlene Love singing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"  - a Phil Spectorish production that must blow about half of Letterman's music budget for the year.

Mulling over some favorites, weirdests, of 2011. Nothing astonished  me so much as videos of  the Japanese tsunami, as amateur videos were posted on You Tube for months afterward.

The oddest was discovering I'd been "unfriended"on Facebook by my sister for declining to attend a birthday party. If she was 15  there'd be nothing remarkable about it. But she's 65. Still not quite over high school, apparently.

I know know if this was recorded in Hawai'i, L.A., or Nashville.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

happened last night, makes to day the shortest day of year, then we begin inching toward March equinox.

Last night a large building in the  huge old Burry Biscuit complex caught fire. A total loss of the  building, they have to let it burn &  hope it doesn't spread.  The fire   chief describes the inside as "a maze." It's over a mile east of here, with breeze blowing from west we have no smoke in this neighborhood.  Burry moved out over a decade ago. Burry had a Girl Scout cookie contract & was a major local brand. Interlaken Bakery was in there for awhile, they mainly made wafers for ice cream sandwiches. The facility was subdivided & had several businesses. It's a pretty crummy stretch of road now near the Newark border.

When I was a kid, Burry had a unionized workplace, you could earn a living there. The company was  renowned for its men's & women's  softball teams, playing  in the highly competitive industrial leagues,  considered semi-pro because it was believed that companies recruited ballplayers & gave the best ones special privileges. The teams also played  "traveling" independent ball clubs.  The men's teams  had  some   former college & high school men stars;  I don't know where the women learned to play at such a high level back then.   Newspapers assigned sports reporters & photographers to cover the most important games (Burry, Esso Refinery,  Linden Arians, Raybesto Brakettes, Budweiser Belles. The Arians & Belles were still playing in the '80s,  I used to go to their games, their league was struggling).

That vast  adult amateur  sports scene lasting from the '30s to the '70s, including bocce clubs & thousands of bowling leagues, is gone now. I played in one of the last bocce leagues in the late-'90s, for Renna Graphics, on  a  lousy gravel court behind Rahway Library,  just a goof for us except when we played an Italian-American club & got destroyed.

(By the numbers bowling remains a very popular game, but the leagues have collapsed, which may say something about our social order. My mom played leagues for years, I was never under the impression she was into bowling, it  was her weekly night out. )

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I had a piano student, nice boy, his mom had been a doctor in the Soviet Union, was taking med school classes here toward her American license   while working in a meat packing plant. She used to bring me whole pastramis.

I offered to accept a pastrami or corned beef every so often in lieu of money for that lesson, the meat was worth more than I charged.  She said no, she got one every week for free,  they were gifts to me.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Senator Menendez Repudiates DOMA

Discrimination against same-sex marriages cannot be tolerated in our society as a matter of law
By Robert Menendez

Since my vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act 15 years ago, like tens of millions of Americans, I have reflected deeply and frequently about this issue. During this time, I have engaged in discussions about the issue of marriage equality with friends, family members, colleagues and of course, the people I serve in New Jersey. I have heard and listened to many different views.

But for me, this comes down to an issue of fundamental fairness. For me, this comes down to the principles I learned as the child of immigrants and that I cherish as an American: that we believe in equality for all people under the law.

So today, I am announcing my support for the Respect for Marriage Act, which repeals DOMA and ensures that all lawfully married couples — including same-sex couples — receive the benefits of marriage under federal law. 
No American should have to wait outside a hospital room while a loved one suffers inside. No American should lose inheritance simply because the federal government does not recognize the couple’s marriage. No child should feel that his or her parents are somehow less equal under the law than a best friend’s parents. 

This kind of discrimination cannot be tolerated in our society as a matter of law, and it should not be tolerated. Two people who want to be committed to each other should be able to enter into marriage, and they should receive the benefits that flow from that commitment.
What took him so long? His daughter & son agree Wicked, the long-running gay allegory musical, is his favorite Broadway show.

Senator Robert "Bob" Menendez is a fairly good senator;  New Jersey doesn't have a tradition of electing great &/or colorful senators. Our governors tend to be characters. The guy Chris Christie beat, Jon Corzine, was the first outright boring elected governor we've had since I was a kid.  Menendez is a polished, urban politician, & if he comes across as sort of a stiff, I have seen a You Tube video of him dancing the salsa with an attractive young woman at a campaign event. There are over 1,500,000 Latinos in Jersey (well, we ain't California), most of them legal,  giving him an almost untouchable base in any race against  the country club candidates  Repugs tend to run for the office.

On the whole Menendez is one of the more liberal members of the senate, so far as he's given an opportunity to be safely liberal. Over the years as a congressmen & senator he's tended to duck some issues by  not co-sponsoring progressive  legislation (so he isn't  on-the-record  if the bills never come to a vote) or casting a "safe" vote, as he's done with anti-flag-burning laws & DOMA. He's vocally against giving Cuba any slack, although his parents fled fascist Batista, not commie Castro.  Of course, he accepts plenty of moola from the finance, insurance and real estate industries.  A reform Democrat  he ain't. Voters  don't pay  much attention to the fine print legislation that benefits big business. He's up for reelection in 2012 & it won't do to attach himself to Barack Obama's coattails. New Jersey is more   Clinton territory. Barack can draw &  impress a crowd here, but Jersey Democrats go nuts when Bill or Hillary show up for an event. They are money-in-the-bank at fundraisers.

So what changed Menendez on DOMA? No doubt he's sincere. The urban Latino & African-American Democratic base in Jersey is at best generally indifferent to gay rights. But the suburban middle class part of the party, as well the much-coveted independent, educated suburban women, are  long past debating gay rights. Jersey's most prominent gay rights organization, Garden State Equality, can channel a lot of support, monetary & practical, into local races. The GSE chairperson, Steven Goldstein, is very outspoken about who he likes & doesn't like & knows how to get media attention. If you're a Democrat, you gain nothing by getting on Steven's sh*t list. No conservatives will change their votes to you, but many Democrats will decide not to give you money & will skip over your name on Election Day.

Republicans can't win statewide in Jersey running on conservative social values. Not even pro-life, anti-marriage equality Chris Christie did it. He put those positions on his campaign resume & then ignored them except when speaking to Repug audiences, making his successful campaign for governor about the only issue that uniformly gets suburban voters riled up: property taxes. Those suburban independent women actually like Gov. Baggy Pants. 

It won't be easy to beat Menendez. Being "liberal" isn't the kiss-of-defeat in Jersey. You can call Menendez a boss, an insider, a deal-broker, a professional politician, & he's all of those. But he comes across as a serious, studious, wonky person; he's all of those too. I'm glad he came around on marriage equality.  His daughter, Alicia, makes talking head appearances as a political commentator on cable networks. I think she had much to do with  changing her dad's mind.

(You can argue that all Broadway musicals except La Cage Aux Folles are gay allegories, & the spirit of La Cage is like  Charley's Aunt & Some Like it Hot in its cross-dressing mistaken identity plot.)

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Seaside Park NJ

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Zuzu's Petals

Maggie: Waddya want, Mary? You want the moon? Just ask for the moon and I'll give it to ya.

Bob: Not you, too? My annoying brother-in-law couldn't watch that movie without reciting every line of dialogue.

Maggie: Hater. This movie is flawless.

Bob: That's how I feel, so I told my brother-in-law to shut the hell up & watch it. *
It's A Wonderful Life. The rage, despair & abusive behavior George Bailey shows when Uncle Billy loses the money were repressed in him all along as a result of giving up all his reasonable dreams to make other people happy, & Bedford Falls, not Pottersviile, is a dreary alternate reality driving any intelligent person trapped there to madness. For Dante, both could be circles of hell. Bert the cop's irresponsible use of his gun, shooting wildly at George (who has no weapon) on a Pottersville street filled with Christmas shoppers is very much the kind of stupid, thug cop you'd find in a Bedford Falls terrorizing teenagers, whacking hippie hitchhikers 25 years later & burying them in an abandoned quarry.  This is why I like the movie.  (None of these thoughts are original.)

* Not true. Actually I went upstairs to the guest bedroom, listened to the radio  & read a book.  When my sister & brother-in-law went to bed I came back downstairs & watched a Dave Letterman repeat. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

The World's Shortest Woman

World's shortest woman wants to be Bollywood star

NAGPUR, India (AP) — A high school student in central India was recognized as the world's shortest woman by Guinness World Records on Friday as she turned 18 and said she hopes to earn a degree and make it in Bollywood.

Jyoti Amge stood just 62.8 centimeters (24.7 inches) tall — shorter than the average 2-year-old — when Guinness representatives visiting from London measured her at a ceremony attended by about 30 relatives and friends in the town of Nagpur, in Maharashtra state.
She's adorable, a perfect Indian woman only tiny. If there's ever a Bollywood musical version of Mothra, cast Jyoti as The Mothra Fairies (they were 12" tall).

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In Memory of Christopher Hitchens

The very old Anglican Bishop of Cork  & the extremely old Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork took to their sickbeds at the same time.  Each desired  to outlive the other.  As it turned out, the very old Anglican Bishop passed on to his maker first. The Monsignors gathered around the Catholic Bishop & inquired if there was some statement he'd like to  make on the sad occasion to the Anglicans of Cork.

"Yes, " said the old priest, propping himself up on his pillows. "Say that now he knows who's the real Bishop of Cork."

Love him or hate him, Christopher Hitchens was a very good writer.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

4,500 lives too late

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces formally ended their nine-year war in Iraq on Thursday with a low key flag ceremony in Baghdad, while to the north flickering violence highlighted ethnic and sectarian strains threatening the country in years ahead.
"After a lot of blood spilled by Iraqis and Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the ceremony at Baghdad's still heavily-fortified airport.

Almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives in the war that began with a "Shock and Awe" campaign of missiles pounding Baghdad and descended into sectarian strife and a surge in U.S. troop numbers.

U.S. soldiers lowered the flag of American forces in Iraq and slipped it into a camouflage-colored sleeve in a brief outdoor ceremony, symbolically ending the most unpopular U.S. military venture since the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 70s.

So "ends" a war to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction it never had, toppling a brutal dictator who, in a perverse irony, was suppressing both Iranian-backed radical Shiites & the Saudi-backed Sunni terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks. A FB friend reminded us today of a quote from Ernest Hemingway:
"The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector."
What does your shit detector tell you about the "end" of the Iraq War? Is it over for us? Ya think?

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Billie Jo Spears (January 14, 1937 – December 14, 2011)

"Get Behind Me Satan and Push." 1968. The title itself was mildly  scandalous.

In this building there's a crowd of guys
with old familiar thoughts upon their minds.
That's a lot of hands a reaching out to
grab the things that I consider mine!
And the president pursues me
even though he's old and hair a turnin' white.
Mr. Walker it's all over…
I don't like the New York secretary's life!
(Ten years before Dolly Parton's "9 to 5.")

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

(Reuters) - Reality TV star and property mogul Donald Trump said on Tuesday he will not moderate a planned debate among Republican presidential hopefuls after all but two candidates declined to attend.
"I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate," Trump said in a statement. "Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate."
I'm sorta disappointed. Trump was perfect for this, despite some Repug candidates saying it would be "unpresidential" to participate. A shameless self-promoter & proud one-percenter, who better to serve as ringmaster for the Repug clowns?

A substantial portion of the Repug base is willing to vote for Trump. Why is he inferior to Newt or Mitt or Herman? All these candidate exist inside bubbles, Trump inside the biggest bubble of them all - Trump World. Has anyone of Trump's wealth contributed less to the betterment of the human race? Would anyone  more quickly  become disenchanted with the responsibilities of being  President?  What do you mean I have to put my treasure in trust & I can't use my presidential powers to build luxury golf courses & condos  on military bases?


Monday, December 12, 2011

Protestant Sharia

The Learning Channel's "All-American Muslim," a reality show focusing on a group of Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan, has been a target of the Shariah panic industry ever since it started airing. On Friday, hardware retailer Lowe's pulled their ads from the show in response to a protest campaign from the Florida Family Association.

The Washington Post published the FFA's statement on why it objected so vehemently to the show.
"All-American Muslim’ is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law," the Florida group asserts in a letter it asks members to send to TLC advertisers.
The Florida friggin' Family Association? Lowe's is afraid of the Florida friggin' Family Association?  Who are they? 100 idiots, 10 asshole committee members, & a website?

We non-Muslim Americans, because we're so influenced by Saudi Arabia's fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam & utterly freaked by Shiite Islam (which are  enemies to each other, btw),  buy into a monolithic Islam in which all  Muslims practice their faith  the same way, interpret the Koran the same way, & are raised to hate The Great Satan United States even when they are born here, & they all  want laws in America to permit the stoning of female adulterers.   If you believe this, you must believe all Jews are ultra-orthodox Zionists, Roman Catholics are privy to a secret Papal agenda,  the Dalai Lama is the king of Buddhists, & Fundamentalist Protestants want to take over the American government. O.K., that's a trick statement. Fundamentalist protestants do want to take over the government. But not all fundamentalist protestants. Only the ones in groups like the Florida Family Association, which has as its agenda a form of Christian sharia & includes suppressing freedom of religion & speech  for American Muslims,  as well as insisting that criticism of Fundamentalist Protestantism constitutes  criticism of  all Christians, since they, like religious fundamentalists everywhere,  practice the only legitimate form of the religion.  Maybe the Southern Baptists want to stone female adulterers, I haven't looked at their website recently.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Elliot Lawrence - Fascinating Rhythm

From the album "Hi Fi-ing Winds" (1958).


Denville NJ

Cocktail lounge at the China Royal

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Friday, December 09, 2011

Had a friendly chat with my brother Jim this afternoon. I asked, "What's so important you leave two messages on my phone?" I knew what it was about. He was offering to pick me up tomorrow & deliver me to our sister's for a birthday party for our oldest brother.  He assumed I wasn't going because I have a poor relationship with my sister. I said no that's not it. I don't feel physically up to going & if I did I'd just rent a car & drive up for a few hours.   Jim has his own issues with his siblings (including me), some are  similar to  mine, some are different. But he speaks his mind when he's of a mind to,  & I  like that.

As the pair of siblings with the "conventional" middle class lifestyles, the absence of a close relationship between  Jim & my sister has been for me  proof of our generation's familial  dysfunctionality. They had the  normal "occasions," the kids, the holidays, the graduations. But they stayed in their individual family bubbles.  I know the "problem," the reasons they give, which I dismiss as mere surface rationales. These conficts don't begin when you become adults; you carry them into adulthood. But I wasn't observant enough of their  relationship with each other when they were kids. As the youngest, I focused on my siblings as a trio, sort of a three-headed, six-armed entity, or as individuals with whom I was either at war or trying to entice into an alliance against the others.

So I'm glad they're getting together.  Yes, it would be better if  I was there. I have my reasons for admiring all three of them with the insight only a youngest sibling has.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

John Lennon

When Yahoo recently renovated its e mail  (asking $20 for something called Mail Extra I don't need), it didn't say it was shutting down POP service, which was taking  forwards of my AOL mail into the Yahoo box. Or maybe it was AOL that changed.  So yeah, Happy Halloween & Thanksgiving  to you, too.

Received an annual Christmas e mail from old old (high school era) friend with attached PDF file I know contains everything  about what his grown kids have done over the past year. I haven't opened that attachment in many years.   I  appreciate being on his list to receive it. But if you're gonna send those & expect them to be read,  you should send them snail mail with real Christmas cards.

I used to consider this one of John's more boneheaded political songs (did he  write one that wasn't?),  but now it sounds quite catchy &  prescient, funny, too. Springsteen ought to add it to his concert repertoire as an encore sing-a-long.


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

USS Arizona


Waiting for rain to ease up so I can walk up to the mailbox.
My nephew messages me on Facebook that his father wants my phone number, so I should send it to my nephew.  Huh? I already have my brother's home address,  phone no, & his e mail.  Demonstrates how much we're in touch. A peculiarity of my family. Back in my later adolescence, when I resisted participating in any family gatherings, or did so grudgingly,  I assumed everyone else was kind of tight, that they communicated & visited  & cared about each other like "normal" family. Later, I realized not only were they much like me, they were in some ways even worse.  I became so aware of the distances, detachment  & indifference  that those became common  themes in my poems.
Back from the mailbox. Was doing alright, bundled up & reasonably dry until I stepped into a puddle that appeared about an inch deep.  Rain at 45°F.


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Rutgers Women, first report

Rutgers women's basketball team is 8-1, ranked No. 11 in the AP poll. Their first loss came  last night to No. 9 Miami, in double-overtime, after blowing a 16 point  second half lead. A game they probably would've won in regulation had it been played at Rutgers Athletic Center with Big East refs & not in Florida. They proved they deserve a top 25 ranking.

The difference between this year & last year's disappointing team is more experience, a bench of talented Freshmen, & multiple scoring threats. Always known for Coach Stringer's defense, Rutgers had lagged  behind in a women's game that more frequently requires 70 points to win. A week from today they have a home game against No. 7 Tennessee, THE game  (UConn doesn't come to the RAC this season). Two elite coaches, Pat Summitt's  teams  usually get the better of  Stringer's. We shall see.

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Monday, December 05, 2011

Hubert Sumlin (1931 - 2011)

Playing with Howlin' Wolf for two decades, Hubert Sumlin was a creator of a library of fundamental electric guitar blues riffs. Any guitarists knowing their stuff learn  from Hubert  Sumlin.

On his own after Wolf died,  Hubert became one of the most admired & beloved guitarists in the world. Just the other day he was named 43rd on the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Best Guitarists, but of course Keith Richards,  Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page & most of the other living rock guitarists ahead of him on the list would gladly have stepped aside to let him move up. Keith was especially fond of him.

This photo was taken  on the shabby Asbury Park boardwalk five or six years ago, in front of the space age Howard Johnson's,  a hot summer afternoon, before the boardwalk's  more recent renaissance. WFMU radio host Glen Jones, who knew Hubert,  encountered him at the bluesman's  Saturday night Stone Pony gig & invited him to drop by for a live broadcast the following afternoon. Hubert showed up with his guitar, a funky old amp was somehow procured for him, & the master musician provided a  loose, entertaining set.  As you can see, he  didn't  "dress down" for the occasion.

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Sunday, December 04, 2011

Beach Haven NJ

Jersey fish-themed postcards is one the categories  I collect. This may be a stock  postcard image; just change the location. But' it's so artfully arranged.

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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Miriam Burton - Yoruba Woman

From the album "African Lament" (1961).

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Friday, December 02, 2011

My apt building, which I admit is a bit seedy, goes through up & down periods. It's a down period now.There's some really disreputable acting tenants here, & I strongly suspect a couple of recent arrivals  are total pigs. There's a  tenant now who walks around with a prison stare permanently stamped on his face,  meant to communicate that everyone is merely an object to him. It looks authentic.  He''ll need it again  if he's doing what I think he's doing with  his cellphone,  which would be illegal, & if he's as intelligent as he looks, which is not very.  I mind my own business.

The problem is that the recession has made it a tenant's market & my landlord,  who'd rather be  mildly discerning, has to keep the building filled. But even the high rise Cherry Hill building up the street is looking kind of shabby out front,  the shrubbery overgrown & always a "For Rent" sign stuck in the lawn.  My old apt in Rahway went  through similar phases; the landlord there would resort to  no-lease rentals, usually accompanied - I don't know why -  by  an increase in loud domestic disputes, some requiring police intervention.

I'm an aging bohemian, & bohemianism is essentially a bourgeois condition no matter where you are. It's an adaptation of a middle class lifestyle. If necessary, you get rid of almost everything except your books, music, art, & curious objects. Your home is arranged for either solitude or a salon - a place for other bohemians to hang out. I am separate from the other tenants here, a mystery. I tell them nothing.  I know at least one of them  believes I'm a recovering dope addict or alcoholic. I look like one. But people prefer conjecture to fact, & some of the tenants here are really bored.

In an ideal world I'd be residing in "artist" housing, something a lot of towns wish they had but nobody has really figured out how to do, which is why it's so rare. I'm aware of only one such building in the entire state of NJ. When a town says it wants "artists," it doesn't really mean painters, poets, dancers & musicians. It wants gallery-owners, architects, high end craftspeople,  National Geographic photographers,   & professional actors with regular gigs doing commercial voiceovers, all residing in the same neighborhood & paying market rate rent.

(If you put this building in the same kind of neighborhood in Jersey City or Brooklyn, at the same rents,  it would be filled with hipsters. )

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

"Friends are forever,

everything else is a bonus."
 Herman Cain, book inscription to his alleged mistress
"I was so far ahead of the pack, the crowd had to run after me with torches to show me the finish line."
Herman Munster

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"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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