Sunday, December 30, 2012
The frozen light
Labels: Elizabeth NJ
Fort Lee NJ
Friday, December 28, 2012
My friend Gina will be very busy for the next two months as she moves her fine framing business from large space in a strip mall to a free standing building about a mile away near the center of Millburn NJ. It's an expensive proposition, getting the new space in order, but the rent there will save her a bundle. The old location wasn't doing her any good. The owners of the strip mall couldn't keep the other retail spaces occupied, including the anchor space that should have something like a large chain clothing store. in it. The economy for her kind of business has not been good since several years before the current recession. Much of her corporate work went away; framing for new or expanding offices. But she can be profitable functioning as a smaller business with lower expenses, & still be able to do corporate work. She's shown sacrifice & remarkable perseverence hanging on to her small staff. Forunately, has a part time guy wrking as a sort of project manager, frees her from having to micromanage the move. She has keep running her business & minimize down time.
I don't underestimate the hassles. I moved a smaller business & it was hard enough. But I also went through two total relocations of WFMU, where I had no responsibilities but was quite aware of the details & headaches & daily unexpected problems. The manager felt free, rightly so, to unburden himself with older DJS when he found us sitting in the kitchen. It was the daily shit he couldn't put in the staff memos or e mails.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
A Christmas Day tradition
One of my cousins was an outrageously insulting brat. True, I was also brat, my three older siblings certainly capable of calculated brattiness, & together we were, on occasion, conspiratorially bratty. But we also had good manners when required (the lost courtesy of standing up when an adult entered the room for the first time & stepping aside from your seat until the adult chose where to sit), & speaking rudely to grownups was a grievous act even I rarely transgressed. My cousin R was eye-poppingly rude, the popping eyes being my dad's with his then undiagnosed thyroid condition. R had, in his own home, a wonderful collection of toys, but we doubted he had any friends.
Two my uncle's three kids were legendary (to us) wallflowers. They shrunk into invisibility upon contact with us. Trying to engage them in conversation, or any shared activity, was pointless. You were lucky to get four word sentences out of them. Our grandfather adored them, which was infuriating. My sister, a small girl accustomed to dealing with three brothers & our friends, could have easily grabbed each by the hair, cracked their heads together & thrust them into the coat closet by the front entrance, kicking the door shut with her heel, & chosen the exact moment when no adult would see her doing it. But they were harmless, defenseless creatures, really, friendly actually, & my sister could play the good girl well. My aunt's dapper husband (the boy brat's father), whose sports coats I coveted when I was old enough to appreciate such things, recognized early on that my sister was a spirited, male-savvy female worthy of his compliments. Our two ultra-shy girl cousins weren't even in the game.
So it was, on the occasion of these Christmas gatherings, that my three siblings & I found a rare solidarity. We had to band together just to keep from being bored to tears. In our own home, we had to protect our turf.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Nor was the holiday celebrated with any religiosity. Overt religious enthusiasm was not appreciated in my family, although all four kids received 8 years of Methodist Sunday School education, & one of my brothers became a Methodist pastor (perfect Sunday School attendance record). My grandmother, the Roman Catholic in the house for my first ten years, was stubbornly & dutifully observant. Of the four kids, I think I was only one especially curious about her faith, which she noticed. Didn't prevent me from mocking it; I went along with a lot of nonsense in my family to get along, including racism after I came to think it stupid & unnecessary.
Certainly something in our upbringing went awry for all four siblings to consider each other nitwits to one extent or another, if we were totally honest about it. We've succeeded in socially avoiding each other throughout our adulthood, except when required by special events, although none of us has ever resided more than three hours travel from all the others in New Jersey. I used to believe this was unique to our family. I realized it was quite common but for the close physical proximity; most siblings like us scatter to distant places & pretend they want to be together. I did socialize with my sister regularly for a number of years & would have with my oldest brother if I hadn't found grounded conversation with him frustratingly evasive in someone so talkative (he was so evasive he'd move & I wouldn't find out where for a year). The only two relatives I think I can chat with to any extent are my pastor brother's son, a born again libertarian with gentle disposition he is trying to leaven into practicable, ethical Christianity, & a step-nephew who sent me some writing last summer just before he got married, to critique (he didn't ask for it specifically, but I know he wants me to like it), & which I have avoided along with several CDs sent for my succinct appraisal. I have resolved to attend to these over the next week. Poems sent to me by poet friends are read promptly; the most I might suggest with those are brief edits, a snip here, a snip there, but rarely, since even their idiosyncrasies have attained mature, self-aware craft.
Many of my friends & acquaintances are such fine writers than I need only to read what they write without applying a critical eye. My friend Carrie, for instance, has prepared so many legal briefs that she gets right to the point in her occasional lengthy e mails. No mystery there: Ulysses S, Grant became one of the finest American prose writers by way of his plainly expressed, concise Civil War battle reports, considered the best in the United States Army, which he incorporated generously into his great Autobiography (Eisenhower was generally a second rate prose writer, as his battle reports were loaded with the bureaucratic language of a corporate commander). Lawyers have become some of the best contemporary writers of Private Eye & police procedural novels.
To get back to Christmas.... It's a grumpy post. The best Christmas Eves I had were the intimate, late night parties, before our small group moved apart or had kids, that were intended as a respite from family obligations: The only tradition was the party itself. Our gifts were inexpensive & we knew what to give each other. In such company there's no "small talk. "
Cecilia Dale - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Sunday, December 23, 2012
A few minutes later, his mom, who lives near him, comments: "You are going away???" The day before Christmas Eve & it's the first she's heard of it.
His cousin then calls him a "Weirdo." Among the older (my) generation in that family, weirdo was the all-purpose word for a Democrat, a non-protestant, a vegetarian, a woman with a college degree, & anyone who liked jazz. Someone in the younger generation is carrying on the tradition.
My FB friend comments that they're visiting his wife's relatives.
Then to rub it in (inadvertantly?), his wife comments: "Yay! I can't wait."
One of the benefits of marriage is that it can open an exit door in your own family.
Atlantic City NJ
Friday, December 21, 2012
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Johnny Maestro - Christmas Serenade
Monday, December 17, 2012
Every act of violence
Every act of violence indicates a failure of some kind. Doesn't matter if it is a criminal act, the act of a senseless madman, self-defense, a state execution, a revolution, or a war. We compound the failure by refusing to acknowledge it is a failure.
Any Christian who invokes God in the name of violence worships "The Great Deluder,' as theologian Walter Wink names this false deity.
First Moloch, horrid king, besmear’d with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents’ tears,
Though for the noise of Drums and Timbrels loud
Their children’s cries unheard, that pass’d through fire
To his grim idol. (Paradise Lost 1.392-96)
But it is equally mistaken to write, as one person did, that the "God of love" "does not allow violence." God surely does allow violence as an expression of free will. The violence is perpetrated by us, not by God. God is not punishing anyone. We punish ourselves. In Dante's Inferno, the damned are not forcibly driven to the banks of the River Acheron, but drawn to it by their own perverse natures, a profound psychological insight for its time. Such is the attraction of violence, especially redemptive violence; the false idea that violence redeems & heals. Most Christians never question the concept of redemptive violence, taken from the inaccurate history in the Old Testament, a common misinterpretation of the Crucifixion, & long human experience of an unwillingness to see what occurs when one rejects it.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Saturday, December 15, 2012
fired a gun? Yes, many times.
A hand gun? Yes. A shotgun?
Yes, several of those. Even a musket.
Do they have much of a kick?
It depends. Does the trigger
give any resistance? That also depends.
They are all different -
you never know what to expect
until it actually goes off.
You have to aim it at a target,
whatever you want to shoot.
I've fired a World War One deck cannon
with a caliber the size of a soup can,
& a replica Revolutionary War cannon
you could stuff with rusty nails.
Professional historians asked my dad
what his cannon would do to a Redcoat
if you loaded it with nails, a question
dad was always willing to address.
A poem that sat unfinished for a long time. You can tell the final two stanzas are different from the first three, glued on. But I think it works because I move from a desultory tone about a topic that doesn't particularly interest me into an animated explanation of why modern weapons don't interest me. The poem is also for anyone who mistakes me for an anti-gun ownership ideologue
It's natural to be outraged by the murderous carnage at Newtown,. The good people of that place do not need a million condolence cards & 10,000 teddy bears, or whatever those who believe there's an absolute right to the possession of military assault weapons say we ought to be doing in lieu of expressing outrage. It's the same after every mass murder: save it, not now, show compassion & empathy, don't politicize it. That is an agenda; trying to silence the outrage. The most compassionate thing we can do is to fan our outrage & not let it go this time. The people of Newtown will be feeling the outrage too when the grief starts to wear off.
Friday, December 14, 2012
The good people of Newtown don't need a million cards of condolences & 10,000 teddy bears. But when they emerge from their grief & begin to feel outrage, they will need our outrage.
My district state senator on FB referred to the mass murders as a "random act of violence" & suggested "random acts of kindness." He 's a liberal Democrat but he can't possibly be that naive. I pointed out that this attack was a planned & wildly successful targeted mass killing.
There was a time, fifteen years ago, when some local politicians actually listened to what I had to say, knowing I had legit public bully pulpits, although I rarely used them to criticize local politicians.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Who wants to hear Springsteen's new material?
The Who made it for me, especially Bellboy, an unusual choice, with the tribute to Keith Moon. We should be grateful Sir Paul didn't sing "Hey Jude," or more pathetically, Lennon's "Imagine."
All the talk about "working class" people, I suppose one can think of unionized cops & firefighters earning $80,000 plus OT as working class in spirit. There are damned nice split levels down there in Bon Jovi's hometown Sayreville, & Toms River. In a backstage interview Springsteen mentioned Sea Bright, the sliver of sand with one of the highest per capita incomes in Jersey, across the bridge from his own exclusive town. I haven't shed a tear for Sea Bright, which exists because of the generosity of big government & the unending care of the Army Corps of Engineers. The damage to bayshore communities Union Beach & Atlantic Highlands, though, is heartbreaking. The Union Beach volunteer fire dept had its firehouses wrecked. They were in the newspaper recently begging for individual donations. I commented, seriously, that they should threaten to disband. The idea of Union Beach having to pay for professional fire services ought to scare the town government into writing a few grants & renting some temporary quarters. Nobody in Jersey wants to reach into their wallets & pay for another town's fire dept, except at carnivals & spaghetti dinners. As it is. the state's suburban taxpayers subsidize all the urban depts.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Sunday, December 09, 2012
The difference is that marriage equality just legally ratifies what already exists, what has always existed, but which has fallen out of the closet over the past 35 years.
Gays & lesbians have always had same sex marriages. In fairly recent times some homosexual couples like composer Benjamin Britten & singer Peter Pear made no serious attempt to hide their lifelong relationships. Britten didn't want to present himself as a "confirmed bachelor" as so many barely closeted gays did, including some of Britten's closest friends in the arts world.
Marriage equality won't result in a huge increase in same sex "marriages." The new law is a necessary formality. Most of the couples getting married in Washington state today were already married in their hearts & living together. Now they have the rights & legal protections of the laws of the State of Washington. Aside from the matter of adopting children, which infuriates the religious nitwits, & some resentful employers having to recognize & extend health insurance to same sex families, I can't think of anything that would affect straight bigots negatively. Maybe if one's rich old lesbian aunt dies & now suing her legal spouse for the inheritance would be a guaranteed losing effort.
Cape May NJ
Saturday, December 08, 2012
OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - Washington state will usher in same-sex marriage on Sunday as hundreds of gay and lesbian couples exchange vows in mass weddings on the first day they can legally tie the knot — and the biggest party will be in Seattle.
Washington, Maine and Maryland became the first U.S. states to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples by a popular vote, with the November passage of separate ballot measures that marked a watershed moment for gay rights.
Washington's law went into effect on Thursday, when hundreds of couples lined up to apply for marriage licenses, and the first legal same-sex weddings are due on Sunday after the expiry of a three-day waiting period required of all marriages.
Diane Butzberger and Amanda Russ of Tacoma plan to be among the first of 140 couples to get married at Seattle's City Hall on Sunday morning in a feted mass celebration.Dear Nitwits of America:
I'm sorry you lay awake night after night imagining what "those people" are doing. I'm sorry you're in emotional turmoil all day, appetite ruined, your marriage & relationships destroyed. I'm sorry you're a bigoted idiot with no gay or lesbian friends you can be happy for & with.
Friday, December 07, 2012
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Dave Brubeck, 1920 - 2012
Springsteen was the "star" of the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors, but Dave received the classier musical tribute. It features an all-star quintet, the Jazz Ambassadors of the United States Army Field Band (Dave had played in a jazz band attached to Patton's Third Army during the Battle of the Bulge, the only integrated unit in the army at the time), & his four sons, fine musicians all who often performed with their dad.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
The Marketts - Bat Cape
"Until that time" is from Jackie Gleason in Soldier In The Rain. "Just close your eyes & pretend to be asleep" is from Jack Nicholson as a late night radio talk show monologist in King of Marvin Gardens, two of my favorite "small" movies.
Monday, December 03, 2012
Bob Costas can imply the need for a total ban on handguns to an NFL audience on national TV. That's 'courageous." It's also easy. Discuss reforms to gun laws & gun design, & people's eyes glaze over. Since the N.R.A. opposes everything, it doesn't make any difference if one supports potentially effective reforms that don't challenge a sane, law-abiding citizen's claimed basic right to own a handgun, or if one stakes out the ban 'em all position of Costas.
Illegal guns are the problem in Jersey, & not just the handguns a gangbanger can stick in his baggy pants waistband & use to jack a car or shoot a convenience store clerk, although those guns are the biggest problem. There's serious ordinance out there possessed by known violent criminals & by crazed, paranoid white guys in the suburbs, much of it military grade adapted for civilian use by the manufacturers. We couldn't keep a national ban in place on that kind of armament.
Sunday, December 02, 2012
Jersey City NJ
Saturday, December 01, 2012
There's two main events happening now. One is Advent/Christmas, The other is a huge, hodge podge Solstice festival draped with pseudo-religiosity that has exerted itself upon many cultures since ancient times, & which we have transformed into a grand celebration of American consumerism.
Look at the Christmas they were celebrating in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." A few parties, a few gifts, a family dinner with the rare treat, a cooked goose, & the general air of good will. Ebenezer Scrooge wasn't resisting our contemporary holiday. He was just a mean-spirited, greedy capitalist who wouldn't give Bob Cratchit a day off & a small bonus. Ironically, the Scrooges now are right wingers defending Scrooges.
I don't know what conservative Christians are bitchin' about. Non-Christians recognize what's going on here isn't "Christmas." So do a lot of Christians trying to maintain some detachment & a sane perspective. You can certainly participate in both "festivals." But understand that they're not the same, only entwined. Don't expect retailers to unravel them for them. Businesses do what they have to do to sell us stuff from Chia Pets to new cars.