Monday, November 24, 2003

Walkin' after midnight:

Went outside to lock bike up, cool clear night, decided to go for a walk over to Dunkin'. This is risky, not because of street crime but because I've been stopped & unpleasantly interrogated by Rahway police. If I were someone other than a short WASP guy wearing an orange "Surf Club" cap I'm sure it would happen all the time. The walk went without incident, other than seeing a car with the rear door open in a driveway next to an unlit house, which I checked for a dead body then closed.

Doing early afternoon WFMU fill-ins on Thanksgiving & Christmas. Last time I did a Christmas program, many years ago, I had to leave a warm fireplace & drive to the studio on frigid Christmas night & vowed never to let that happen again if I could help it. One of the best services one can render fellow DJs is covering for them on major holidays. Had early t-day dinner a few weeks ago, at Edie Eustice's, a reminder of how enjoyable the occasion can be when one is not considered a loonie, radical &/or duncehead by others at the table. & oh, to be able to have real conversations - from music (classical & jazz) to current events to movies, with Miles & Trane & Billie & Beethoven & Satie as common musical ground. & really great OLD movies everyone has seen. This isn't "high brow" stuff. & it's not even really necessary. I've spent holidays with folks who chat about baseball, NASCAR, Lynyrd Skynyrd, & the Englishtown flea market, that was fine, too.

The problem with conspiracies is that the more complex they are - the more surely they will unravel when prodded & probed. Something goes wrong. Happened in Nixon's White House. Happened in the families trying to cover up culpability in the Seton Hall dorm fire. Happened to Benedict Arnold. After years of rejecting the "single gunman theory" in the Kennedy assassination, I've reluctantly concluded that the Warren Commission probably had it right in the conclusion if not entirely in the details. Surely, if Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro, Lyndon Johnson, the C.I.A., a bunch of neo-fascist homosexual nut cases in New Orleans, a Chicago mafia family (double payback for Bay of Pigs failure & Sinatra being barred from White House) & a sleazy Dallas strip club owner managed to get on the same team, someone - Marilyn Monroe? - would have spilled the beans.

A lot of extremists - right & left - wanted Kennedy dead. Seems most likely that Oswald, with his strange associations & slippery political ideas, picked up on these sentiments & in effect believed he was doing the will of others, if not actually carrying out their direct orders. Others within the power structure may have deliberately placed President Kennedy's brain in harm's way through lackadaisical security, hoping something would happen. Perhaps Oswald believed he would be rescued, secretly whisked off to Argentina or Cuba, & provided with a hacienda & a new identity. He was that weird. & a crack-shot as well as a crack-pot. But big conspiracy? As time passes that appears less & less likely. Many people in danger of being scapegoated - doctors, cops, Secret Service, various aides & flunkies, needed to protect their asses - & their jobs - in the aftermath, which was the "cover up." But for many decades there has been more to gain by telling the truth rather than lying. In a sense, greed never lies.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Dressed to Kill for Power, Unity, God, & Pastor Larry

Although the popular (& patriarchal) Agape Family Worship Center, a mega-church here in Rahway, does not appeal to me theologically, this announcement was particularly unsettling:
Sunday, November 23
Calling All Men! Join Pastor Larry in a show of power and unity. Please wear fatigues to the 9am and 11am services. (Ladies, this is just for the brothers…please wear your Sunday best).

Apparently, it's a tie-in with the church's special men's conference, "Winning the Battle for the Mind." Can't the point be made without literally being dressed-to-kill? Something about it that preaches not to the heart or rational mind, but to the testosterone (or as we say here in Jersey, the guyoonies). Also note that the brothers are brothers but the sisters are ladies.

Hi Bob,

Please don't try to read some additional meaning into a simple request by Pastor Larry. To add, we are in a war and we need to be ready. When the state of Massachusetts can now allow gays to marry, when more marriages end in death or divorce rather than happy ending and when kids having kids...what do you think we should do.

The bible says that satan comes to steal, kill and utterly destroy. Yes....we will be dressed to kill...the devil and his imps that he has sent out to destroy us. Face it, you are either for God or against him. And if you are against Him, you are on the side of satan.

By the way, maybe that could be the title of our next men's conference...Dressed to Kill ( Ephesians 6:11,13)

Jonathan M. Leath
Executive Administrator
Agape Family Worship Center

Dr. Romano R.I.P., Russians on S.S.I., & a Dream

ER killed off Dr. Robert Romano tonight (Thursday), fittingly crushed to death by a burning helicopter. He was the only credible candidate for dying: after his hand was chopped off it became a Hotlips Houlihan or Frank Burns situation - grow or go. He fired Dr. Pratt & obviously that couldn't stand. Romano's only virtue was that he was a great surgeon - he was a total prick otherwise. The only two women he cared about were Lucy, murdered a long time ago, & Dr. Korday - who he lusted after & couldn't have. Kovick is about to begin a serious love affair with a single mom. Carter's playing Dr. Livingstone while the writers retool his character. There's a stupid, lazy pothead intern on the ER staff - they never had to deal with a total incompetent in their midst before. Last week, Bob Newhart's lonely old man guest character committed suicide, a bummer since I'd rather see him than Sally Field drop by from time to time. Abby has a young female Indian intern pal now - maybe they'll have an affair. Of course, the #1 ER rule since the beginning is that no major character is permitted more than 24 hours of continuous happiness.

I'm telling Dr. K how it takes most of my energy just to will myself out of bed, to bathe, shave, eat, put on clean clothes, & often one or more of these isn't even accomplished. & she goes off on a thing about how elderly Russians emigrate to America, use social services, get their subsidized apartments & food stamps & SSI & "don't need to take money from their families anymore." I don't say anything, but I'm thinking, thinking & feeling pissed off, that these people worked their entire lives for a communist regime that made all sorts of problems for my country, killed thousands of Americans with the bombs & guns they manufactured, fed the military-industrial monster we were forced to create to defend ourselves & now cannot dismantle, then their system collapses - & along with it their socialist guarantees - so they come here, tap into our comparatively spare & over-stressed welfare state - having never put a dime into it - & "don't need to take money from their families anymore." So I'm supposed to be inspired by this? It made me even more depressed.

DREAM: Put out for trash, the contents of some guy's room when he was commuting to college in the Seventies, as if untouched for nearly thirty years, including large wooden record shelf unit still loaded with records, plus a smaller bookshelf. Many dull engineering type texts, impression he'd gone to NJIT or Kean. I was on bike, so taking the solid shelves was impossible. Nor could take many records. But they were mostly common Seventies stuff, tho in excellent condition, Steve Miller, Billy Joel & such, of no interest to me. & some Sinatra, all worthless Capitol LP re-packaging, not even curios. I think I found a Music from Big Pink that put aside, maybe frame it. Felt bad I couldn't take the hundred or so paperbacks & trade 'em in at the used bookstore. Poked around inside the desk drawers, maybe some cool pens & drafting tools. Nothing good. As I slammed shut a drawer I heard a clunk & smelled something like turp or a chemical cleaning solvent, & thought, "Crap, whatever that is - is gonna kill the grass," & I quickly got on bike & rode away before anyone noticed it.

Jungian interpretation: It's me if I'd been who my father wanted me to be.

Actual meaning: Many cultural aspects of the Seventies are irredeemable. It really was a load of crap.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Cape May Point: A Letter to the Atlantic City Press

Dear Editor;

The borough of Cape May Point includes one of the most important, endangered, environmentally-sensitive stretches of coast in New Jersey. Millions upon millions of government dollars are spent to protect the real estate of this tiny community with a permanent population of about two-hundred and forty souls. It is a folly for this town to maintain control of its beaches and absurd for it to even make a proprietary claim on the dredged sand, much less charge admission in the summer. Fire those lifeguards, Mayor Frazier, and give it up.

Bob Rixon


Monday, November 17, 2003

Gripes: Cops, Coffee, My Birthday

Whoever was directing traffic tonight for the Kenny Rogers concert at the Arts Center in Rahway ought to have his police whistle shoved up his butt. Either an auxiliary cop or a regular in very foul mood. If you blow the damned thing 15 times per minute for half-an-hour nobody knows what you're trying to get them to do. & it irritates me plenty on a Sunday evening.

85 cents for a Dunkin' Donut! & face it, they really aren't that good - mostly air - you need to eat three just to make your stomach feel like it's got something to do - mainly generate gas. & anyone who believes Dunkin' Donuts coffee is "the best" (many do) has a degraded sense of taste. DD's real competition is Quick Check & Wawa, both of which have OK coffee, cheaper, & you get to put your own cream in. If you don't scream instructions at the counter person in DD, he or she will half fill your cup with milk & dump in four teaspoons of sugar before pouring in the coffee. & don't you wonder what makes DD coffee taste like DD coffee? I sure do.

My birthday was this past Tuesday 11/11 - I'm fifty jive five, & thanks to Rosemary Conte for the scat "happy birthday" on the answering machine & Edie Eustice for inviting me over for an early T-day dinner with Charlie & Rona Mosler, Michael Redmond & Loretta Jankowski, Wayne Smith, Rosemary, Derwin Holder. That's a lot of talent, mostly musical. Two of them were surprised I knew who they were & some of their accomplishments.

But for four years in the early Nineties, my adult life has pretty much sucked. Yes I've been blessed with a number of excellent friends & creative opportunities & an (occasionally painful) gift for seeing beauty in the oddest places. But the life itself - the day-to-day existence - itself has not been graced with much contentment. Why the early 90's? I finished off a college major in Lit, the ease of which gave me a good deal more confidence than I'd had previously; My underpaid job at Pearl Arts & Crafts was tolerable, especially as I met & worked with interesting & likable young people & learned a great deal about all sorts of arts & artists; I met & fell in love with a delightful woman half my age, & felt more fully loved & accepted in that imperfect relationship than I ever had before or have since. & my art - writing & radio - how I go about being a poet - became increasingly clear - that there really was something experimental in it. Unfortunately, my periods of depression lengthened & became deeper while the "up" cycles became lower & briefer - thus less productive - maybe a hormonal thing - I don't know.

Listen to my most recent radio program at WFMU.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

"I intend to talk about race during this election in the South because the Republicans have been talking about it since 1968 in order to divide us. . . . White folks in the South who drive pickup trucks with Confederate flag decals in the back ought to be voting with us and not them, because their kids don't have health insurance either and their kids need better schools, too." Howard Dean to the Democratic National Committee

What could be more true? Dean just needs to drop the Confederate Flag reference.
Mainstream media have always jumped on public figures who recognized that the struggle is economic - accusing them of encouraging class warfare. Malcolm, Doctor King, Robert Kennedy were all killed after they became enlightened. & so was Lincoln, in my modest opinion - no dummy he - hundreds of thousands of poor whites from slave states (like himself) died defending what had impoverished them. Historian Page Smith points out that many white southern & midwestern farmers, inspired by the populist Social Gospel movement, were making alliances with black farmers over 100 years ago. This so frightened the Establishment that it reacted by fomenting the most virulent forms of racism, including a plague of lynchings. So it's a dangerous path. Nixon beat Humphrey & Reagan beat Carter with racist divide & conquer strategies. Bush The First used Willie Horton & Dukakis' own Greek ethnicity - his dark complexion. & Clinton's enemies seethed with rage & jealousy because Bill clearly enjoyed attending & was comfortable - & warmly welcomed - in black churches - whose morally conservative congregations actually believe in repentance & are able to distinguish between matters of personal indiscretion & National Security.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Notes from a rainy autumn evening:

At first I thought something had gone terribly wrong with my vision, had
to stop to wipe off my glasses, but yes, some of the police cars in Rahway
are sporting pink & pale blue roof flashers, the effect less one of an
emergency than of a super size 4th of July sparkler. Very chic.

Demented old man digging through large garbage dumpster at Dunkin' Donuts, he's been around before. An angry madness. "Fuck off!" he shouts at no one in particular. He's especially pissed off tonight because the bin is nearly empty. The donuts in the large, green plastic bags are perfectly all right - they get thrown out twice a day - although I wouldn't chance the ones with cream fillings. Sparrows & starlings in the vicinity are especially plump - perch on a wire above the dumpster, take turns fluttering down to a broken bag, very little in the way of argument or power display, plenty for all. Anyway, the demented old man isn't having much luck. An SUV pulls into the lot, halogen headlights square on his back, he turns, squints & yells, "You let my brother die," then stalks off, up St. George's Ave. across from the dark graveyard.

Barely made it to vote tonight. No local races of interest, mainly I wanted to vote on the ballot questions. I'm against "same day voter registration." The potential for abuse is large. Besides, it's absurdly easy to register, at any time of the year, at the library, post office, social service agencies, senior centers, just about every outdoor special event. Don't even need a postage stamp. If ignorance of the process is your excuse for not registering before Election Day, then I'd rather you didn't vote just because some Party street hustler harangues you with doom & gloom misinformation, hands you a flyer, a form & a ballpoint, then offers you a ride to the polls & the refreshing non-alcoholic beverage of your choice.

Democrats took firm control of the Jersey State Senate & retained
the assembly. Ellen Karcher, daughter of the late Alan Karcher - a
politician of liberal & independent mind I admired - defeated
John Bennett, the Senate President. It's a great opportunity for Gov. Jim
McGreevey to move his agenda - if he indeed does have an agenda. He
has to prove he is a consensus builder, can resist special interests, &
is a good judge of character, none of which have been much evident during
the past two years.

On NYPD Blue, the lovely Detective Connie is pregnant; "I'm happier than I've ever been in my life," deadpanned Detective Andy.

Monday, November 03, 2003

I hold no illusions that I'll be remembered as more than a footnote in the history of WFMU - & that history will be recounted & written by people from both inside & outside the station community. But I do believe any hope of being remembered for my poems & other writings will likely come through my long association with WFMU. I'm certain that poets to come, exploring public roles for themselves (perhaps a few academics also), will discover me in that footnote.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

A Tale of St. Maria Goretti

A Tale of St. Maria Goretti

Corinaldo, Italy, July 5, 1902: Maria is mortally wounded at 3:30 pm by her neighbor, Alessandro Serenelli, who attacked her with intent to sexually abuse her.

Philadephia, PA, Oct. 30, 2003: A man described by authorities as a known sexual predator was chased through the streets of South Philadelphia by an angry crowd of Catholic high school girls, who kicked and punched him after he was tackled by neighbors, police said on Friday.

Rudy Susanto, 25, who had exposed himself to teen-age girls on as many as seven occasions outside St. Maria Goretti School, struck again on Thursday just as students were being dismissed, police said.

But this time, a group of girls in school uniforms angrily confronted Susanto with help from some neighbors, police said. When Susanto tried to run, more than 20 girls chased him down the block. Two men from the neighborhood caught him and the girls took their revenge.

"The girls came and started kicking him and punching him, so I wasn't going to stop them," neighbor Robert Lemons told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Susanto was later treated for injuries at a local hospital. Police said he would be charged with 14 criminal counts including harassment, disorderly conduct, open lewdness and corrupting the morals of a minor. (Reuters)

Official Prayer to St. Maria Goretti

Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God's grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth,with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee (here insert intention), and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.

"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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