Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

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Boston Red Sox

Congratulations. Historic &  deserving World Series win in six games over the Cards,  Entertaining Series for me, having no particular like for either team, I found myself rooting for the Sox to win one at home.  Emotionally, deeply satisfying  for a city still dealing with the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. & they beat some great pitchers.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hurricane Sandy one year later

I posted this on the afternoon of 10/29/12
Early reports & photos from Cape May County are alarming. Coastal communities are already underwater, & the main storm surge & most dangerous high tide aren't due until evening. Coastal flooding in north Jersey has occurred at levels associated with the height of noreasterns. Sandy projected to come ashore south of Atlantic City. My live cam links have been going down one after another, the remaining working sites apparently so busy I can't get on to them with my slow internet service. More wind than rain here in Elizabeth. The heavy rain is only about 20 miles south now. Jersey has had many bad storms over the past fifty years, but none with the devastating tidal surges of the March '62 storm. The tide comes in, stays in, & structures that could withstand a fast-moving storm are battered into rubble,
Whatever I was expecting - & I was expecting a very bad storm - it was worse than I imagined. I was briefly outside walking around that evening. Then the brunt of it hit. I thought my windows would blow in. The power went out. It was long scary night. There wasn't much serious damage in my neighborhood, thank heavens. The day after the storm, while thousands picked through the rubble of ruined homes & businesses, my neighbors were raking wet leaves.

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013)

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Bradley Beach NJ

Massimi's Steak House

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Dave Herman, legendary NYC rock DJ, alleged pedophile

They were telling me EL&P mattered, Bad Company mattered, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the greatest LP since whatever by the Beatles. The week before they decided Springsteen was the Next Big Thing they were saying Buzzy Linhart was the Next Big Thing. They got lucky, that's all, & if they say they had something to do with it they're full of it. Springsteen changed his music, changed his band, changed his manager. I didn't give a flying F about Dave Herman. Ever.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Marriage equality took effect in Jersey midnight Monday with some high profile weddings.  A court order, upheld, the weight of public opinion shifting, Gov. Christie dropped his appeal to stay the decision.  That opposition was to be his "plausible deniability" when he campaigned the the Repug  right for the presidential nomination - beginning the day after reelection victory.  Jerseyans didn't want marriage equality on the ballot. I think Christie personally doesn't care one way or  the other about marriage quality. I doubt he wants to be president so he can roll back all the Obama extensions of federal benefits to same sex married couples working in Federal government & serving in the military.  But he has to run against candidates who want to do just that.  It got to the point where if you were legally married in a marriage equality state, you were legally married on every military installation in Jersey & unmarried the moment you stepped off it. Unjust & absurd.

Cory Booker stomped radical right Repug candidate Steve Lonegan in a special senate election last wednesday, 55% - 45%, low turnout.  Lonegan tried to make something of it being closer than expected. Well yeah, For two reasons.  Every right wing ideologue in the state voted but only a low percentage of everyone else.  Booker ran a lackluster campaign, spent only a fraction of his $11 million campaign war chest. No TV ads, No GOTV street money. He didn't need to  receive 60% plus of the vote.  Booker has another election next year, possibly against a stronger opponent. He's the senator-elect  & Lonegan is finished in Jersey politics. Gov Christie endorsed Lonegan but subsequently was never seen with him.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Most of the MSWs I've met at the psych clinic are damn near useless. They're like junior therapists. If you went to them homeless & hungry they'd think their job is to get you to apply for a library card so you can use the internet to research shelters & soup kitchens. But an old school social worker sees the immediate need, looks in her giant old-fashioned Rolodex file, finds out which church is serving on that day, calls over & asks them to reserve you a plate if you're late, then calls around to the shelters for an open bed & reserves a place for you there. Then she asks you to come back tomorrow, fed & somewhat rested, to discuss your problems & begin the process of getting a handle on them, first by arranging reliable meals & safe places to sleep. I had a friendly argument with her over how to deal with stuttering teenagers so as not to further traumatize them. I was the stutterer & telling her what I needed & so rarely got. ice young woman, she's leaving, we'll see how the next one is.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Jesus seals the deal

My trusted online friend Fran linked to series of paintings of the American Jesus that are at once really funny  but deeply disturbing. I always listen to Fran even when she going right over my head.
When I was young, as with a lot of protestants, Jesus was too human. That's important because the humanity, the human face, is the spiritual evolution in Christianity  allowing the Easter story to mean what it means. God is humanly comprehensible. The face is every human being, not the guy in the paintings. If you are of a Franciscan temperament, you include the face of the sparrow.

 Later, Jesus became a kind of intellectual exercise I went to whenever it interested me. As my body began reminding me  of my mortality  more than  my intellect did,  Jesus became more elusive & paradoxical.  But elusiveness & paradoxes can stir me up, intrigue me & disturb me, & I chase after them. I think Jesus is being the kind of Jesus I need right now. He has my attention & he's keeping it. He's still human but he's also being spirit, & you feel spirit & even channel spirit but you can't get hold of it.  "How  is it," this spirit seems to ask me, "that I know every subatomic particle in your body, & their history from the beginning of time, & your true name, & you don't know any of these things, much less where every sparrow falls? Yet I remain just as human as you are." He's not an so much an American Jesus as a Jesus who  know how to slip  between the second & third lines of  a haiku.

So what's the real deal from Jesus? It's that the abyss isn't necessarily there. It wasn't there when I was 13 &  looking at the dark winter sky on a bad night in my home & thinking, in some way,  "People die, & you don't get to say goodbye or find out who they really are."   It wasn't there when I was 25 & staring  into  one  believing I had come to the end of art. & it's not there now. But I still see it.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bradley Beach NJ

View north toward Ocean Grove & Asbury Park

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Treasures of the Sea

One of the earliest poems I had published was titled "Heaven of 1001 Auto Parts." It was a mildly humorous tale of accompanying a friend to auto parts stores & junkyards in search of a part he needed for his car. Of course, he was Virgil & I was Dante. It would have made an entertaining short newspaper column. I persisted in hammering it into a poem. Later I realized one could make a poem like a cat walking on piano keys, but you couldn't make the cat play "Mary Had a Little Lamb." "Heaven" would never be included in a "Selected Poems," if I were in the process of selecting. But it reminds me I always liked titling poems. Even if those titles were the best thing about them, like a crappy boardwalk souvenir shop called "Treasures of the Sea." You know what's in it, but you go inside anyway.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bum Trip to New Jersey

From Dave Roskos' Big Hammer zine, not sure of year. I don't write poems like this anymore. It's a good poem but it's a poem a lot of poets could write. I gradually changed over to publishing poems only I could write.

If I wrote this poem now, the truck would be loaded with exotic parrots illegally imported from Guatemala, squawking nonsensical phrases in English & Spanish, the truck driver extremely anxious the cop would hear them, ask for the bill of lading, & conclude the trailer didn't sound like 5000 crappy ratchet wrench sets from China.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Linden NJ

Swan Motel

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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

I used to believe if I understood something well enough - a work of art or piece of music, it wouldn't be ugly anymore. But some things just stayed ugly.


Monday, October 07, 2013

How is it that Ronald Reagan became the Republican's Franklin Roosevelt. I'll concede Reagan his reputation as a speechifier & phrasemaker, & that the nation needed someone more cheery than Jimmy Carter. But Reagan the President wasn't nearly Reagan the Ideologist. Ronald Reagan enjoyed being President too much, & was too smart to push a far right conservative agenda the vast majority of Americans didn't want & hadn't elected him to do. He was elected to lift the spirit of post-Vietnam malaise, & this he did, & he did it mainly through speeches & launching a thousand ships that had nothing to do. I rather enjoyed seeing those old strategically useless battleships come out of mothballs: Reagan's Navy. No more Pearl Harbors for him. He took a wartime President's conviction that an "enemy" also has to be outspent into economic collapse: the Soviet Union had been tottering in that direction since the early Sixties. He funded oppressive right wing governments & insurgencies & conquered Grenada. He was FDR writ small.

 Uber-conservatives of course say Reagan is the Father of the Conservative Resurgence. To which I say yes, but what is that? The establishment of an invasive National Security State? Democrats were equally complicit in it. Selling the government to big corporations & banks? Yup, Democrats were in on that too. Rolling back abortion rights? Some real success there. But since Reagan the score is this: Republican Presidents: 12 years, both named Bush. Democratic Presidents: 16 years, one of them African-American, & if it hadn't been him she would have been a second Clinton. Opposition to marriage equality -  remember, this has been a central issue for Repugs, their symbol of the Moral Collapse of Western Civilization - a Big Fail. The dominos fell against it for a few years, but they were patiently set up again & knocked in other direction.


Sunday, October 06, 2013

Atlantic City NJ

Rolling Rock Beer sign framed by The Traymore Hotel

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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Charles Olson never fully endorsed Joel Oppenheimer's poetry. This disturbed Joel, but Olson was correct; Joel wasn't an Olson guy. Joel was, to be sure, a Black Mountain College poet, he learned from Olson, but he was as much & probably more a William Carlos Williams, Paul Goodman, M.C. Richards Black Mountain Poet, those very different influences jostling each other in his poems, along with archy the cockroach. Olson was too much an ideologist.  I gave Olson his due as best I understood him,  but I don't like him much.* His use of American vernacular rarely sounds comfortable. He was a bully - intellectually & literally as an intimidating physically large man, & some young poet ought to have given him a well-deserved punch in the nose. Projectivism is as unnecessary a "school" as one might imagine it - who needs manifestoes? Paul Blackburn was a far, far superior "open field" poet. I spent a lot of time with Blackburn's writing, eventually putting it aside in my own poems except for his wonderful Provencal "translations." Oppenheimer came to realize Olson no longer mattered much even to Olson's own disciples. & that's about the time I met Joel.

* Talented poets disappeared into Olsonite masters programs at a few select universities & emerged several years later writing cramped, indecipherable poems.  I knew one, He was a nice guy. I said to him once in a rare display of literary candor, "Your poems sound wonderful but I don't know what the hell they mean. This bothers me because obviously you intend them to mean something. I don't write many poems with the intention to mean anything."


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Battle of the WWII Memorial

The single most infuriating action of this first day of the Shutdown was Republicans claiming they had reopened the  World War Two Memorial, brushing aside a few Park Police with no interest in enforcing the closure (& perhaps had been advised not to),  moving a couple of sawhorses,  then claiming they had done a heroic deed in opposition to the DEMOCRATIC SHUTDOWN. As it turned out, Democratic Senator Tom Harkin was also there for this  mild act of mass civil disobedience that was really initiated by a crowd of  justifiably pissed off retired citizens who didn't care who the hell was responsible, & didn't require the  intercession of any politician/

So here's the Repugs, who had said, openly, that if The President & the Democratic didn't give the Repugs what they wanted - the delay or repeal of the Affordable Care Act (& a list of other stuff) - they, the Repugs, would shut down the government, laying off 800,000,  inconveniencing millions, disrupting important Federal programs & operations - claiming on the day the shutdown went to effect that Democrats had caused the shut down.  Do you remember Democrats threatening a shutdown?  I don't. The Repugs attempt to extort unconditional surrender by Democrats, then say Democrats refuse to "negotiate." But Repugs had nothing to offer in advance.

It should be remembered that when Lee surrendered unconditionally to Grant at Appomattox. the "negotiation" was over where.  when & how Lee's remaining Army would hand over its arms. a formality. Grant added, on his own initiative, an offer to to feed Lee's troops (mainly with captured Rebel rations), permit officers to keep their personal sidearms. & allow anyone owning his horse to keep it also. which benefited mainly officers.

What possessed Repugs to think they had won some war? It's really a group of radical Republicans holding the rest of their Party - which is already plenty right wing - hostage. How do they do this?  Well, even our conservative Repug  congressmen in could be challenged & defeated in primaries by candidates further to the right.

"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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