Monday, April 30, 2012

International Jazz Day

Leave it to UNESCO to take the fun out of International Jazz Day by listing reasons it's good for us, like "Jazz stimulates intercultural dialogue and empowers young people from marginalized societies." UNESCO probably has an International Reggae Week in January when all the bureaucrats attend a conference at a luxury resort in Jamaica.

Jazz has the musical & spiritual  power to  create before & after moments in one's life.  Right away I can name three records that had the effect on me.

Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra with an all-star lineup of New York-based musicians & arrangements by Carla Bley.  Kurt Weill meets free jazz meets songs of the Spanish Civil War popular front. It's an album that perfectly accomplishes what it sets out to do, musically & politically.

Monk Alone, a two record compilation set, never released on CD, of Thelonious Monk solo piano performances recorded  for Prestige in the 1950's. Album was divided into two sides of Monk originals & two sides of Monk performing a variety of old popular songs, some of them pretty corny but "recomposed" by Monk with respect & humor.  The personal diary of a genius.

A number of Coltrane albums. I'll choose Ascension, a long, intense, dissonant, free work with seven great horn players.  I can't admit to liking the album, only to admiring it, but I really tried, & it stretched my ears to good advantage for other music, including Trane's.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Atlantic City NJ

Electric car from Atlantic City to Longport, for Ocean City

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Pete Fornatale died. Pete was one of the  group of fine FM DJs during WNEW's brief period as a commercial sort-of free form radio station in the late-Sixties.

I don't remember much about Fornatale during that time except his voice & that he could do interesting sets.  I must have listened to him often enough.  I was more a fan of Rosko & Alison "The Nightbird" Steele; they were "rappers" in the language of that era, radio hosts who talked about topics other than music & read poetry, & I tuned into them as much for their personalities as for what they played.

By the mid-Seventies, even earlier,  I had lost interest in commercial rock FM.  I didn't like art rock, progressive rock (prog), or the manufactured soon-to-become  "classic" rock of  Bad Company. I had limited patience for  singer/songwriters like James Taylor. My tastes in music went far beyond rock (the direction of mainstream rock encouraged looking elsewhere), & I was  a disgruntled consumer soon to be attracted by  "punk" & "new wave."

For a period there it was good  to turn on the radio  & occasionally hear a live concert of Randy Newman, just him & a piano, when hardly anyone bought his records. Or Elton John before he turned into  Captain Fantastic. Or the Allman Brothers (I have soft spot for southern rock). But Richard Neer, another "legendary" FM DJ & now a sports talk radio host, waxes nostalgic about the days when he could play an entire side of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. That's  why I never listened to Richard Neer. *

 Pete Fornatale had a taste of real  creative radio freedom early in his career &  was actually paid for it, & then had to dance in chains (except for his later WFUV programs at Fordham). Sometimes the chains weren't all that heavy, but no doubt they  always chaffed Pete to one extent or another. He was at the mercy of his employers & managers.

* Someone gave me Tales from Topographic Oceans  by Yes for my birthday; it went back  to the record store the next day.Also reminded by someone that there were, in fact, much more adventurous DJs than Fornatale on commercial New York radio, naming Michael Cuscuna as one of them.  At WFMU from the beginning I was determined to do a kind of free form not exclusively musical, which meant resisting those regular listeners who complained about too much talking.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Butter Dance

If you said, "Plus-sized Indonesian woman meets soft butter," I'd say, "Oh yeah, I can definitely get with that scene." I wouldn't be expecting this scene:

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Monday, April 23, 2012


Every spring around now for about two weeks something gets in the air, a flower or flowering plant, that kicks up pesky allergies, & i get puffy-eyed, runny nose, sneezy, coughy, then it stops, I'm good all summer until something else does it for a couple of weeks in September. It's usually a minor annoyance, no big deal. I take an over-the-counter antihistamine if I need anything at all. We all know people with bad allergies; cats, pollen, nearly all perfume fragrances, food. The serious plant allergy people really suffer from April through October. But every three or four years these couple of spring weeks nail me. I stepped outside awhile ago & Wham!, I'm sneezing & coughing & my nose is pouring. The only other time that happens is from cheap perfume in an enclosed area. I've stepped into elevators, sniffed & immediately muttered Oh no, invariably there's some adolescent girl reeking of a super-cheat perfume knockoff probably from a store downtown selling gold jewelry, no-brand electronics, disposable cell phones & phone cards promising low per minute rates to Guatemala & India &, of course, imitation fashion perfume. if Beyoncé has a line called "Pulse," the store will have "Pulze." A short ride later I step out hacking & serial-sneezing & you just can't lose that stink indoors. The local newspaper headline today was about allergies, result of mild winter & rain & mold, etc. So I figure I'm still getting off easy compared to many other folks.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stranger things have happened

From a column by Melinda Henneberger:
On Wednesday, the Vatican announced a crackdown on American nuns, charging the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents most of the country’s 57,000 women religious, with falling prey to “radical feminism’’ and falling out of step with church teaching on women’s ordination and homosexuality. The response from the general public was enormous and overwhelmingly sympathetic to the sisters. The forced reform immediately sparked online petitions, tributes and T-shirts that say, “I’m with her.”
Whenever one thinks Roman Catholic Bishops can't do worse damage to themselves, they find another way. How could they underestimate the high regard & affection of American Catholic laity for the declining, aging population of Sisters in religious orders? Or don't they care? Probably a bit of both. The only real "authority" the Sisters have is moral, which is exactly that constituent of power the Bishops have lost. So the Bishops use the power they do have to accuse the Sisters of being morally in error. It's a comedy as written by Dante Alighieri: priests sluggishly pushing boulders inch-by-inch up the mountain of Purgatory, yelling accusations at the Sisters as the women march past them on the way to Paradise.

Of course, I'm not familiar with Catholic feminist theological arguments for the legitimacy of female ordination. Ordained protestant pastors, female & male,  are merely  protestants with specialized training;  they have no supernatural powers not hypothetically available to every Christian, & among those metaphysically turning wine  into blood isn't on the list.  But now, through the sophistry of the Vatican's greatest male minds, a married Anglican priest may  repudiate Anglicism & through the mystery of Catholic sacramental ordination become a married Catholic priest among celibate, unmarried priests.  Yet the Pope can confidently assert woman will never be priests. Stranger things have happened in the 2000 years Christians have been waiting for the end of time, which is what the Pope means by never.

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Palisades NJ

Palisades Amusement Park

Located in the towns of Cliffside Park and Fort Lee.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

If you asked me to make a liberal/progressive case for the Obama adminstration that didn't include "the alternatives are far worse," I'm not sure what I would say.  Had I fallen asleep four years ago & woken up today, I'd have to say Barack Obama became mostly the kind of president I thought he might become & hoped he wouldn't the two times I voted for him. It's a measure of America's disappointment with Obama that Mitt Romney is polling neck-in-neck although hardly anyone actually likes or trusts Mitt. Romney wouldn't have beaten Bill Clinton, Al Gore, or Obama in 2008.

Mitt is every bit as bizarre as he seems to be. It's not an act. I think, Does he have any hobbies? Has he ever read books for pleasure?  Did he learn anything interesting about France during the two years he resided there as a Mormon missionary?  No, no, & no.  He's one of those white kids in white shirts & ties who walk around my neighborhood in pairs. Except he's an extremely privileged, wealthy & elite version of one of those guys. Don't kid yourself about the Latter Day Saints; privilege, wealth & family name count for a lot with them.

My only statement on the "Fido" controversy. Barack Obama was a child residing with his stepfather in a strange land with, to us, some very strange customs. Matter closed, no reflection on his character.  Mitt Romney was a grown man who figured if a dog liked  riding in a car with sociable humans & sticking its head out a  window for crazy & wonderful  blasts of assorted smells up its nose, it would be delighted if  isolated & terrified in a cage on a car roof where it could conceivably become dislodged, fall on to the highway, & be trapped as it was run over by 18 wheelers, the Romney family unaware of its horrific end. I wouldn't do that to a dog; you, I hope, wouldn't do that to a dog. Mitt did. He thinks it's funny.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Levon Helm

A bummer news week.

Levon was born in 1940 in Arkansas,  & he was one of those special musicians old  enough to participate as a teenager in the development of rock & roll, & young enough to reap the rewards as it morphed into "rock."  A superb drummer (I rate him nearly in a class with Al Jackson Jr. for his economical funkiness) & singer, he could do both at the same time, but would just as soon play country blues on a mandolin.  He didn't need to "appropriate" anything to play rock & roll. He played it as naturally as a peach tree produces peaches.

I wasn't a big fan of The Band (liked them a lot with Dylan). After their classic second album I thought they became robotic live performers, their albums uneven & too dependent upon Robbie Robertson.  Levon really shined as a freelancer after The Band broke up. He became one of the most beloved of rock musicians. Once you knew his work you never underrated him again.

I do owe The Band in a strange way.  Invited to a party of WFMU DJs in the late '70s to watch the debut TV  screening of The Last Waltz, The Band's farewell concert, finding The Band, as I mentioned, robotic, & many of the guest performances awful or nearly so, &  seeing the DJs' uncritical enrapturement  with the group & movie, pretty much convinced me that, although they were an affable bunch like you'd find in a friendly frat house,  they were out-of-touch, narrow,  & that I could do  free form radio better than most of them, unusually self-confident for me. The bar wasn't set that high.   After I joined WFMU, I found a small group of DJs there who felt the same way I did; We gradually raised the bar, easing these other "classic rock" type DJs out the door & on down  the middle-of-the-road, &  became fixtures on the WFMU schedule for years afterward. A number of them are still on the staff, & one who joined shortly after me became the station manager, a job he holds to this day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

At the Library

I was standing on a kiddie chair at the branch library, which is how most people browse the top two shelves of the new books section, when I heard a voice ask, as if calling from afar, "Sir?" Took a few seconds to realize I was the "sir," because I had to step out of one universe & into another. I looked down & there was the young part-time guy who mainly reshelves books looking up at me. He'd seen me numerous times before returning & checking out books.

I said, "Yes?"

He said, "Can I help you, sir?"

I had some difficulty processing this, so I said, "What?"

He repeated, "Can I help you, sir?"

I consider browsing the stacks at the public library one of the finest personal experiences known to humankind, emphasis on personal. I never look lost or confused at my local library. I don't like even being thought confused, it's like disrespecting a gangbanger. I was turned loose in a public library at a very young age. I fixed him with my steeliest Scorpio glare (I do have one, not often displayed), & said, in a fairly hushed, even tone of voice, "I'm looking at books."

He stood there gazing up at me for a long moment, his expression slowly changing as he realized how close he'd come to a terrible miscalculation, said, "Oh," & walked away.

I was about to call after him a favorite phrase of my dad's when he saw his kids lounging around on Sunday afternoon: "If you can't find something to do around here, I'll find something for you to do."

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Dick Clark

A guy I was pretty good friends with in high school made a good living for awhile  working for the radio side of Dick Clark Productions, before moving on to other profitable radio jobs.  The last time we got together, lunch in a Jersey diner, we had almost nothing to say to each other. I respected his career in commercial radio at the mic & then  in management & consulting, as he did my alternative radio experience, but there was little connection between the two, even musical. We both went away disappointed, I think.

Dick Clark became a success in his twenties with American Bandstand,  lived a long time. & was already a kind of living legend in the 1970's. He cultivated the image, no one really minded. When my older sister was 11, 12,   she went directly home from school every day to watch American Bandstand from Philadelphia on a black & white TV. It was broadcast live. She knew all the most "popular" kids on the show by name. They were celebrities. She was typical of Bandstand's audience; not-quite-teenage girls who bought records with their allowances. Dick Clark was a famous man. He genuinely liked teenagers. Never talked down, never lectured or moralized on Bandstand. (although he authored a book on dealing with the difficulties of teenagedom, when teenagers were still perceived as young adults, maybe adolescent versions of Dick himself. By the time I was a teenager we considered ourselves a separate species.).

Dick Clark sold a lot of Clearasil in his day. 

I don't think Dick Clark had any special commitment to rock & roll. The impression he always gave me was that he didn't particularly care what comprised the Top 20 or Top 40 provided he was somehow making a buck off it.  If he was making a buck, it was "rock & roll." His advancement of it was more a matter of timing than personal taste.

Dick great gift was as  a creator of no-budget, pure profit TV.  Take hit records, construct teen shows around them. Take  "bloopers" from regular TV shows,  turn them into a weekly TV show . Solicit funny home videos, build a program around them. Invent "awards," invite celebrities to dress up, show up & collect them. Appropriate New Year's Eve in Times Square, sit there like he thought up & organized the whole falling globe thing, pre-tape a New Year's Eve "party" to fill the time between ten pm & midnight.  Dick didn't create "content," he invented formats, contexts.  He did executive produce some peculiar movies, including Psych-Out, about hippies & starring Jack Nicholson as "Stoney." Dick Clark was all-American.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Proletkult Poetry Series

Dave Roskos, poet, publisher, editor, event & reading series organizer, saves everything, which now makes him a historian & archivist of Jersey's "alternative" poetry scenes, particularly New Brunswick. There was traffic between the alternative venues & 'zines & the "establishment" poetry scenes around the NJ State Arts Council when it funded individual poetry fellowships (very few 'zine poets received grants), The Dodge Poetry Festival, The Poets-in-the Schools program, & some college-based scenes. There were also middle-ground reading series like Barron Arts Center in Woodbridge (in the '80s & '90s a complete social scene that extended post-reading to the Director's home or a local bar. It's where I met Dave Roskos) , Barnes & Noble stores, etc.  More poets from the alternative poetry scene participated in establishment activities than establishment poets (most of them college & school teachers) ventured into the punky bars of New Brunswick. Only a few were truly successful  straddling both; it took a good deal of effort.
Top-billing usually meant you went on last. Most poets coveted this. When top-billed, I often requested to open the reading. Organizers generally didn't mind.  I  am not a demonstrative performer & I preferred not following a theatrical poet. In any case, I was always anxious & I found it difficult to listen to & enjoy the poets preceding me. I didn't want to second-guess my poem selection & fight urges to change it based on what other poets were reading & the reception they were getting.

The Court Tavern reading was the only time I read with David Cope, a Michigan poet,  one of my oldest friends & literary allies. It was a thrill for me, & Dave remembers having a great time in the packed, smoky downstairs room at The Court.  Dave loves New Jersey. We took Dave to Asbury Park at its blasted nadir & he loved it, saw right into it.   Dave & I, though very different, touch at some  crucial points in the how & why of poetry that make our poems go well together. Michael Pingarron was a gifted Latino poet who survived a terrible accident that nearly killed him, had to regain his power of  speech, went on to finish college,  became a schoolteacher in Newark, & died when he tripped walking his dog outside his apt building, concussing his head on a curb. A great loss.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

too warm

I don't like 90 degree days in April. If you like a 90 degree day in April in New Jersey, maybe you'll love a 120 degree day in July. Because we're headed there folks, year by year.

A great April day is mid-sixties, maybe a thunderboomer late afternoon, with a beautiful red & purple sky sunset, perhaps even a rainbow in the east.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Newark NJ

Anheuser-Busch Brewery (Budweiser)

The really strange thing about this postcard, the entire city of Newark is gone, replaced by green fields & trees. The brewery is visible from Amtrak trains, U.S. Route One, & on flights into Liberty Newark Airport.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

American Religious Freedom: 4 essential documents gathered

Disclosure, While I was raised in the United Presbyterian Church during the civil rights era, the emphasis was on the words of Jesus not the irrational belief system of St Paul [my italics]. I was lost forever to religion in 3rd grade when I read Roy Chapman Andrews book on the 1920s Gobi Desert expedition, where he first discovered dinosaur eggs, and learned the basis of evolution. I believe everything we have is of man's invention with no supernatural help, including our concepts of God. Deism and it's rational basis is the only religion I would claim for my own and I truly admire our Founders for establishing these religious rights for all, universally. Unlike many I am not a "fallen believer" but a never believer.

An example of how so many KOS diaries go terribly wrong. Very instructive, informative, & well-researched, it should be a convincing argument against American Theocracy. But first the diarist adds a gratuitous remark about St. Paul, thus alienating all the creedal Christians (Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, etc.) who might otherwise appreciate the diary, by saying, "I'm not an idiot like them." Then the diarist claims that learning about dinosaur eggs in the third grade convinced him "everything we have is of man's invention."   Heck, in the era before plate tectonics was defined  I used to look  at the globe & like thousands of other kids was convinced the east coast of South America & west coast of Africa had once been stuck together & someone ought to figure out how they broke apart. Since I wasn't raised as a literalist or fundamentalist, certain powers & properties of God were just not to be fully understood, but science elevated the glory of God by expanding the realm & our comprehension of the universe. When plate tectonics finally arrived in the science books, I thought they were marvelous! If God created  them, they must have been  planned in the first nanosecond of the Big Bang.

Taking an unnecessary swipe at  your own mild childhood faith also will not endear you to people of other faiths.

Deism doesn't get you any cred with atheists, &  a God with no "stake" in creation isn't worth bothering with at all, since we cannot interact with it.

Oh, the trauma of mainline protestant sunday school in the Sixties: The Life of Jesus coloring books; the donuts  & apple juice at Halloween; all those terrible Christmas songs & garish decorations & chrysanthemums & absurd good cheer; the midwinter smorgasbord where they make you pig out on Swedish meatballs & apple crumb cake; The Easter Egg Hunt. Terrible!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cory Booker recounts risking his life in dramatic fire rescue of Newark neighbor

At 9:30 p.m., the call came — a fire at 433 Hawthorne Ave.

At 9:35, when Newark firefighters arrived, they saw Mayor Cory Booker. He was doubled over, struggling to breathe. Rescue workers immediately treated him with oxygen.

But by 10:15, Booker, his right hand singed by second-degree burns, was tweeting that he had just saved his next door neighbor, Zina Hodge, from a kitchen fire and was on his way to University Hospital.

Booker said that as he arrived home from a television interview Thursday night, he noticed a member of his security detail leading two women out of the house next to his South Ward apartment. The officer, Alex Rodriguez, told the mayor there was a fire in the second-floor kitchen.

Booker and two other officers helped the women out, then went inside the burning building where they found a man trying to douse a kitchen fire. The man was rushed downstairs, but Booker said Jacqueline Williams, one of the women who was already out, told him her daughter was still upstairs.

Instantly, Booker tried to run back in. But Rodriguez, charged with protecting the mayor, forbade it. He was quickly overruled.

"It wasn’t easy," Rodriguez said. "I was trying to hold his belt, but he gave me an order."

Fighting through flames and thick smoke, Booker tried to locate the 47-year-old Hodge.

"When I got through the kitchen and was searching for her and looked back an saw the kitchen in flames it was really a frightening experience for me," Booker, his hand still bandaged, told a throng of media outside the house this morning. "I didn’t think we were going to get out of there."
Booker is the first honest, quality mayor Newark's had in generations, so if he wants to bask in this for a day or two, fine. He doesn't reside in a very good neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Madalyn Murray O'Hair Bans the Bible (A childhood fantasy)

Scene: Robert Gordon Public School, Sixth Grade, presided over by Mrs. Dill.

Mrs. Dill:  Robert, it's your turn to read the psalm today.

B but I ss tutter Mrs. Dill.


You you nn know what hhhhappened last time.

You'll do better this time. You may read Psalm 117, it is very brief. I've bookmarked the page. 

(Bobby whispers in ear of friend sitting in front of him) Jeffie, what I'm gonna d do this is the lllast tttime I'll hhhave to rrread it.

(Bobby goes to front of room, picks up Bible & opens it.)

Sa sa psalm one sevenTEEEEN

P praise the lllLORD, all you nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nations;

extol him, all y you pee pee pee pee pee pee pee pee pee pee pee

(class starts snickering.)

Mrs. Dill: Robert, are you serious?

I ssstutter Mrs. DDDill.

Alright, continue.

I sss start again.

Ppraise the lllLORD, all you nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nay nations

extol him, all y you pee pee pee pee pee pee pee pee pee pee pee

(several students applaud)

For gggggRATE is his la la la la (sung as music notes) la la la la la la la la la la love
t t t t toward us,

(Door at back of room opens, tall, frowning,  elderly gray haired woman enters, the feared Principal Miss Titus)

an the fa fa fa fa

Miss Titus: Sorry to interrupt Mrs. Dill, a word with you please?

fa fa fa

Hold on Robert.

(Miss Titus & Mrs. Dill confer at the side of the room in whispers, Miss Titus shows Mrs. Dill a sheet of paper.)

Mrs. Dill: You mean that atheist woman won?

Miss Titus: Yes, I'm afraid so.

Mrs Dill says loudly: Oh thank you Jesus, Mary  & Joseph & all the blessed saints in Heaven.

Robert, Bobby, you may take your seat now.

B b but I havea  another llline ttto go,

That's alright sit down. Class, we'll go right to Arithmetic this morning. Take out your workbooks.

Bobby smirks at Jeffie.  Jeffie, smirking,  raises hand.

Yes Jeffrey?

We got the psalm, how come we don't say  the Lord's Prayer no more?

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I was going to post a vid of the KISS appearance on last night's "Dancing With the Stars," but it's already been blocked.

In all my years on radio, I think I've rarely ever played music that qualified as pure kitsch. That is, music made & recorded in bad faith, that denied the artistic or moral values it pretends to contain. Music the equivalent of Thomas Kinkade paintings. Because there is a difference between lousy art & kitsch. Lousy art may be made by "outsiders" - uneducated, naive or crazy people, or children or elephants with paint brushes attached to their trucks. Lousy art can amuse & may be instructive & even profound on occasion.   Kitsch is designed to deceive. That is why kitsch is the preferred art of totalitarian regimes. Art without truth, but made for  people who desperately need to be reassured that a lie is  the truth. Even when it completely secular, as in Stalinist Russia, it drapes itself in false spirituality.

Norman Rockwell is not kitsch. Well, not generally. His Americana pictures are idealizations & caricatures of  a life & culture  Americans recognized. Most Americans knew they were how we wanted to see ourselves, not necessarily what were were. Although the situations were contrived, the settings & scenery were not.

Kinkade was a nasty, abusive drunk who financially ruined the sincere people that bought into his mall gallery chain because they confused his business with the "vision" of "light" he presented in his paintings & assumed he was his paintings & therefore also his business.  He certainly was, but in ways they could not know.  I'd rather have hung around with a drunken, raging Jackson Pollock, who at least made some connection between the immediacy of his splatters & a Charlie Parker alto solo & insisted he was "in" his paintings as he created them.

Kinkade knew what he was doing, & the knowledge ripped him to pieces.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


"Who shall be saved, liberated, healed? The fourth gospel says: The world! The reunion with the eternal from which we come, from which we are separated, to which we shall return, is promised to everything that is. We are saved not as individuals, but in unity with all others and with the universe. Our own liberation does not leave the enslaved ones alone, our own healing is a part of the great healing of the world."
Paul Tillich

I saved your seat. Stand up, don't fidget, stop staring at the bald man.

2009 Easter blog entry remembering Community Methodist Church.

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Westfield NJ

Presbyterian Church steeple from Mindowaskin Park

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Saturday, April 07, 2012

Augusta National

Find me ten women, no, not even ten, find five women wealthy enough, social prominent enough, successful enough in business, that Augusta National Golf Club would consider them for membership if they were men; only five qualified women angry enough at being prohibited from membership in Augusta National they're willing to say so in public,  & I will change my mind on the importance of country club equal rights among the one-percenters.

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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Maundy Thursday

Judge refuses to drop charges against U.S. Catholic bishop

(Reuters) - A Catholic bishop in Kansas City must stand trial on charges that he failed to report a priest found with pornographic pictures of young girls on his Church computer to police, a judge said on Thursday.

Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, faces one misdemeanor charge that he failed to tell authorities that Church officials had found disturbing pictures of unclothed little girls that appeared to have been taken by a popular local priest, Father Patrick Ratigan.

Finn's defense sums up why we detest these men. With divorce, birth control, abortion, LGBT rights, Catholic moral law takes precedence over civil law. The Church has its own rules. But charged with failure to report to police child pornography found on a priest's computer, this is what Finn claimed:
Missouri statutes requiring clergy, school teachers and others to report suspected child sexual abuse were "vague."
also, Bishop Finn
had no duty to report the situation to authorities, because he was not the "designated reporter" within the diocese and could rely on someone else within the diocese to notify authorities.
The judge tossed out those grounds for dismissal. Finn was trying to claim that  weak civil law took precedence over his Christian moral obligations.   I suppose Finn believes only  God & The Pope have the power to punish him.

Except for a few isolated, courageous voices among the Bishops, here & recently in Ireland, these clerical executives seem to have little or no sense of the evilness they have permitted & covered up.  It reaches all  the way to  Pope Benedict XVI. Why is that so?  Why are  they not  grief-stricken & shamed? Why are they not engaging in extreme expressions  of atonement? These morally corrupt Bishops should be crawling on bloody knees & hands to Shrines of the Blessed Virgin,  resign their offices, & retire to austere & silent cloistered monasteries, never to show their faces again.

Lawsuits by victims of perverted priests have emptied the coffers of Archdioceses & in some places bankrupted them. Hundreds of schools & parish churches are closed. Some deserve to be shut down, but in no instances does the  Church admit it is due to the cost of pedophile priests.  But laity connects the dots. Only ultra-conservative Catholics, like those represented by Rick Santorum,  defend the Bishops. They want to return the Church to the era before Pope John XXIII & Vatican reforms.*  For them, if Father O'Malley in Going My Way was raping altar boys, just quietly transfer the Singing Priest from St. Dominic's to St. Mary's, & if Ingrid Bergman notices, she's just a nun, she can be sent to Borneo.

*Some Catholic conservatives  blame Vatican II reforms for the child abuse.  But systemic abuse in Ireland - including what amounted to child slavery - has been traced back long before Vatican II.  The Church hierarchy longs for the days when it operated in secrecy, was immune from civil law, & it was almost unheard of for laity to criticize or question priests, who were dictators in their realms.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Rutgers Disappointment

C. Vivian Stringer, the Rutgers Women's Basketball coach, is one of the most successful coaches never to have won a national championship. John Calipari at Kentucky removed himself from that list this year. Among active Div 1 coaches she's the winning-est.

The 2011-12 Rutgers Scarlet Knights, a team stocked with players who arrived with gaudy high school reps, was knocked out in the first round of the WNCAA. They played erratically all season, went 2-6 against ranked opponents (Lost to St. John's before Red Storm were ranked), 22-10 overall. They were expected to be better. Not Notre Dame or UConn better, or Baylor or Stanford better, but maybe better than Tennessee, Miami, St. John's & Georgetown. A Sweet 16 or Elite 8 team. They had five game mid-season losing streak.

Rutgers went to the Championship Game in 2007 led by an All-American, Cappie Pondexter. Stringer has been looking for another Cappie ever since. But none of her highly-rated recruits develops into a true "go-to" leader. There's a flaw somewhere, in Stringer's recruiting judgment, in how she develops young players.  She has another potentially great  freshman class  for 2012-13. But Rutgers fans are running out of patience. The Big East is changing over the next few years; Syracuse, West Virginia & Pitt, three schools quitting the BE, are not the consistent powers in the women's game they are in the men's. UConn, Notre Dame, Georgetown, St. John's aren't going away.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Chris Christie for VP?

Listening to conservative talk show host John Batchelor last night. His guest suggested Romney would name Jersey gov Chris Christie as VP candidate,  putting Jersey into play for Repugs.

I see lots of problems with that. First, Jersey has not been polled for a Romney/Christie ticket, so it's not known what effect his candidacy would have in a state that is  otherwise safe for  President Obama.*  I think the idea is that Jersey could be pulled into the Repug column without large campaign ad buys in the expensive New York City media market.  Christie isn't "popular" in Jersey in the sense of being admired, doing a great job (he's doing o.k. in the approval ratings, but Obama stays a few points ahead).   He's "popular" in the sense of being a national political celebrity, a rarity in Jersey politics. He entertains. But there are other problems:

Christie is not much of a Tea Party / Christian Right guy. He endorsed Romney early & enthusiastically. He's urbane, he likes cities. As Governor, he needs Federal  dollars & programs,  lots of them. I haven't heard him complain about too much money  flowing here from Washington DC.  Of conservative "moral values" he prefers not discussing them in detail.  He vetoed the Democratic-passed marriage equality law without rancor or preachiness, no sermon about the War on Christians.  He said he would do it & he did.  But he worked with Garden State Equality, the major Jersey LGBT rights organization, on writing & passing strong anti-bullying legislation.  He's a Catholic but has nothing positive to say about Rick Santorum, & has no special relationship that I can detect with Jersey's Catholic Bishops.

If this sounds like I like him, Christie is one of the few prominent Repugs I wish was Democratic, with no change in his bulldog personality. I don't care about his weight, but he ought to have his suits tailored better, especially his baggy pants. Is he up to the rigors of a two-month, non-stop national presidential campaign?

It would help Christie to be the  running mate on a losing ticket.  He has his eyes on 2016. He believes he'll be re-elected Gov next year & in an excellent position to hit the campaign trail in 2015.  Romney's advisers may conclude Christie isn't quite the VP candidate they need.  Yeah, Christie is a big-talking guy who "takes it to the unions" blah blah. But he's more interested in working on behalf of the corporations, one percenters, the polluters,  the usual fat cat Repug beneficiaries, the quiet deals, not for placard-waving geeks from Oklahoma.  Sometimes he gets into trouble not just for what he says, but for who he says it to: veterans, senior citizens, teachers, who ask him questions at his town meetings & get rudely shouted at from the podium. I cannot see Christie taking up the Repugs' outrageous  anti-women meme so Romney can get off those issues, which have hurt him deeply with women voters. Christie needs their votes to be re-elected next year.

* There was a poll in Feb. Without Christie as his running mate, Obama leads Romney 49 percent to 39 percent. With Christie, Obama’s margin over Romney narrows to 49 percent to 43 percent.

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Monday, April 02, 2012

Falklands 30 years

USHUAIA, Argentina (Reuters) - Argentine President Cristina Fernandez marked the 30th anniversary of the Falklands war on Monday with sharp criticism of Britain for maintaining "colonial enclaves" and a renewed call for sovereignty talks.

First of all, the British, Spanish & French all laid claim to the uninhabited islands now known as The Falklands. Had the Spanish claim stood, Argentina could have inherited it. But neither the British nor Argentinians have natural sovereignty over the islands. They're 290 miles from South America.

Second, The Falklands are a self-governing British Overseas Territory, & the inhabitantS are & consider themselves British citizens, not a colonized,  oppressed indigenous people, since The Falklands had no indigenous people to conquer.

 When the Argentinian military attacked & occupied the Falklands on April 2, 1982, I was working at Upsala College Bookstore.  After the Brits decided to retake the Islands (What else would one expect them to do?) & dispatched a naval task force, we taped a map of the North & South Atlantic Oceans to a wall & followed the progress of the fleet. We were rooting for the Brits all the way.  Not because we cared so much about The Falklands, but because Argentina was ruled by a despotic military junta that was torturing & "disappearing" thousands of Argentinians. Their invasion had to be a desperate effort to prop up a tottering government, & the inevitable  British victory would likely knock it over altogether. It was a terrible miscalculation by the Argentina military, especially the navy, which may have thought Britain's cost-saving decision to withdraw an ice patrol vessel from the South Atlantic , its only ship  on regular duty there,  indicated an unwillingness to defend The Falklands. Britain had no contingency military plans for an Argentinian invasion. 

The British keep a first rate navy & very tough Royal Marines for just this sort  of problem. They were not going to allow free British citizens  with British rights to fall under the rule of the Argentinian junta, period. So it was, in my opinion, a war of liberation. Plus there was the matter of potential oil & mineral discoveries Great Britain was no way surrendering. 

There was never a doubt in my mind or the minds of my coworkers that the Brits would win this one. Might be tougher than they expected, & was, but win they would. The United States Navy thought it was impossible

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Sunday, April 01, 2012

Manasquan NJ

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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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