Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thirteen O'Clock Flight To Psychedelphia

Marlins 8, Mets 1
Phillies 6, Nationals 1

Other than cleaning out their Shea Stadium lockers, the only trip the Mets are taking tomorrow is the one in the classic old garage-psyche song by Plato & the Philosophers.

I can be somewhat philosophical about it because the Phillies have been my #2 team since I was a kid listening to their games on the radio down the shore in the Richie Ashburn era, & I was rooting for them make the wild card. So Philadelphia, I raise my tunafish hoagie to you. Now I gotta study your roster & figure out how you won all those games in addition to the ones when you kicked the crap outta the Mets.

Cape May NJ

Phillies fans showing us the 2007 Mets are now "sleeping with the fishes."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Newt's Not

Gingrich decides against 2008 run for the White House

WASHINGTON: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will not run for president in 2008 after determining he could not legally explore a bid and remain as head of his tax-exempt political organization, a spokesman said Saturday.

"Newt is not running," spokesman Rick Tyler said. "It is legally impermissible for him to continue on as chairman of American Solutions (for Winning the Future) and to explore a campaign for president."
This is a disappointment. Gingrich was the preferred potential candidate of James Dobson of Focus On the Family, & I so looked forward to Newt & Rudy Giuliani jawing at each other over family values.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

the drunk on the sidewalk

If you're an Elizabeth cop on foot patrol late on a warm, humid afternoon, & there's a man lying in front of a liquor store, & this man is beet red in the face & so drunk that he can only prop himself up his elbows, & cannot get to his feet & move on, & cannot speak intelligibly, it does no good to stand over this man & berate him for his condition, as if the drunk has a shred of human dignity left to lose. He knows he is an alcoholic. He knows he is drunk. He knows he is sick. He knows he cannot stand up. He might not know exactly where he is. He might also be dehydrated & suffering from heat exhaustion.

I came within a hair of saying, "For Christ's sake, & I mean Christ literally, just call an ambulance." I trusted this officer would soon tire of badgering the man & use the little radio hooked on his uniform. I do not feel good about walking away from that little drama. But this is true, I was nearly home & really had to go to the bathroom.
(I recall now giving this alkie a buck late one night last month in front of that store on my walk back from the train station, he looked so terrible, I thought better he should have his chance at a drink & sleep than go mad. I'm not the Salvation Army.)
Main Library "Closed due to mechanical problems."
Signs of Bush's screwed up economy: More vacant storefronts in the Hispanic/Italian Elizabeth Ave. business district. These aren't big downtown crapola stores folding, but small family-owned retail stores & botanicas in a distinctly ethnic neighborhood. Recession bubbling up, middle class?
Pitching for the mostly awful Tampa Bay Devil Rays tonight, gave up one run over six innings, leading the American League in strikeouts, ERA of 3.48, a 23 year old named Scott Kazmir, a top minor league prospect the Mets traded in 2004 for a couple of beat up pitchers who ain't even on the roster anymore.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Unfinished Poem

Pigeons of New Jersey

Crowding the cracks & ledges in the chasm
of the Great Falls of the Passaic
below the footbridge where Dr. Williams
& Allen Ginsberg looked down at mossy boulders,
the rising mist & mulled over
the consequences of Hamilton's America.

On the Atlantic City Boardwalk,
the bigshots who strolled here,
Capone & Trump, & the Irish girls
flocking to the sea from Philadephia,
my grandmother in Nineteen-Eighteen
throwing popcorn.

Get a certain distance into a poem & realize it's dictating an idea rather than bringing the things. But fragments can be put to other uses.


Deadly Scare Tactic

This is incredible:.
Shock at archbishop condom claim

The head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique has told the BBC he believes some European-made condoms are infected with HIV deliberately.

Maputo Archbishop Francisco Chimoio claimed some anti-retroviral drugs were also infected "in order to finish quickly the African people".

The Catholic Church formally opposes any use of condoms, advising fidelity within marriage or sexual abstinence.
"Condoms are not sure because I know that there are two countries in Europe, they are making condoms with the virus on purpose," he alleged, refusing to name the countries.

"They want to finish with the African people. This is the programme. They want to colonise until up to now. If we are not careful we will finish in one century's time."
About 3 million of Mozambique's 19 million inhabitants are HIV positive.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What Word For This?

a word to begin a game of hide & seek
a word to disguise a meaning of the thing it names
a word to make a promise not kept

a word never spoken
a misunderstood word

a single word for driving home
in a drizzling rain
after midnight
while remembering
someone I loved saying goodbye

what word for hearing Billie Holiday
& knowing the words of her song are lies


Meet the Mets

It was two years ago, during Willie Randolph's first season managing the Mets, that I expressed some concerns about his clubhouse managerial style; undemonstrative, unflappable, even a bit on the glum side. It was late in July. The Mets were blowing games on fundamentals, mostly fielding errors. It must have been eating at Willie the Yankee Second Baseman. The team acted young, inexperienced, & incomplete. Although Atlanta wasn't having a great year, the chances of catching the Braves were slim. But the Wild Card was very much an open question. Why, I wondered, wasn't Willie whipping up underdog fever in these guys by pointing out that if they stopped beating themselves they could be in the playoffs, where it became short series & anyone's game? Why wouldn't he Invoke the Magic? Last year was a skate to the Division Title. They tied the Yanks for best record in the majors but neither team won the pennant. This year they came into the stretch with a 7 game lead - thanks mostly to the Phillies & the Braves stumbling over each other, & proceeded to give it up. The Phils beat the snot out of them. It's like the Mets became so distracted by the bulldozing Yankees that they lost sight of their own approaching finish line. You'd think they're a .500 ballclub playing out the string. Because that's exactly what the Mets are right now. A team without leaders. A team doubting itself.

(Nationals 10, Mets 9. They woke up too late. )


Monday, September 24, 2007

Presidential Deniers

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a religious fundamentalist. Religious fundamentalists must deny historical & scientific facts to make "reality" correspond with literally inerrant scripture, so it's a small step to denying other stuff they consider unpleasant or inconvenient. We have plenty of them, too. Three are running for the Repug presidential nomination. Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, & the existance of homosexuals in a theocracy called the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was elected president by a landslide & the people of Iran are stuck with him until the next election. Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, & Tom Tancredo deny evolution. I suspect the latter two believe the Earth is about 6000 years old. This makes no sense to me. If one wants to believe in a Zap! Pow! God, the Big Bang is much more impressive & awe-inspiring than a combination of Zeus & Paul Bunyan deviously stashing marine fossils on mountaintops & pressing faked hominid footprints in ancient African mud.

Iran has no homosexuals because the law does not recognize their existence. Therefore Ahmadinejad states a legal fact. But homosexual acts carry the death penalty. Except perhaps for the extreme punishment, American fundamentalists want to reinstate those kinds of laws here: Refuse to legally acknowledge sexual orientation, strictly prohibit certain sexual activities (applying also to heterosexuals). The justifications for these laws are entirely religious.

Ahmadinejad is but one extreme example of a worldwide reactionary drift. If you haven't noticed, we have a reactionary president. George W. was put in office with the support of fundamentalist mullahs & their militarist allies. He's an expert denier, too. Watching these two demagogues face off is frightening, they are both so wrong-headed, so ignorant, so poorly prepared for their powerful positions. The Iranians made a terrible mistake electing Ahmadinejad, & Americans made a terrible mistake giving Bush constitutional legitimacy in 2004.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Remembering snail mail

I am one of those people who laments the end of snail mail letter writing. Not that I do much about it. E mail is a worthy replacement, but the ease of exchange pushes that mode toward snippets of information rather than lengthy, informative missives. I have only four correspondents sending me e mails like old-fashioned letters. One of them is a distant cousin in England, another lives three blocks away, but I'm certain they'd all be hard copy letter writers in an earlier era. One person actually mails me letters in envelopes from time to time, scrawled on stationary, sometimes running up the sides of margins with arrows pointing the way, usually inspired by a newspaper clipping she enclosed. But she's in her 70s & I've long wished she'd surrender & plug the old computer someone gave her into a cheap dialup ISP & get herself an e mail address. Then she'd hear from me quite often. She's someone I'd send brand new ragged but right poems before I ruined them with revisions.

I carried on a regular correspondance with only one of my girlfriends, a nursing student. Her letters from school, in a fairly neat cursive, were long but grumpy, coursework was hard, she was always tired. In addition to classes she rotated through the various hospital wards & all shifts, some uplifting, some depressing, but always as the lowest in the staff pecking order. From the start, her education instilled in her the R.N.'s contempt for most specialist doctors. I saved those for about ten years, then selected a few examples & tossed the rest. Seeing the letters, bundled with string, only reminded me how badly I treated her.

Another friend wrote great letters after she moved to Chicago. When she came back to Jersey, I preferred visiting her because she served delicious cocktails in plastic glasses shaped like fish, & after we had a few she had a way of making me feel like the handsomest guy in the world even though we were never intimately involved.

Through the 1980s I exchanged long letters with poet David Cope in Michigan. Now a full time college teacher with many books of poems to his credit, Dave was then the boiler room man & janitor at a small elementary school, a job he liked, & he had free time in the middle of the school day to write his many friends. My letters to Dave are in the collection of the U. of Michigan library named for poet Anne Waldman. I made carbon copies of most of the letters, bound in the year-by-year journals I used to keep. They are generally not of a high literary quality. I'm just sneaking in those library storage boxes on the archival importance of Dave's voluminous correspondance with Allen Ginsberg.

Which reminds me I have a few letters to compose, to my distant cousin, & to the guy from upstate New York who smartly decided to use his musical expertise writing for money rather than free form radio DJing for nothing. The woman without e mail gets a phone call.


Cape May City Boardwalk

What you see is still what you get.
I always feel obliged to walk on it although the victorian houses & shopping district are the attractions.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Jena 6

Pam musing over at House Blend on why the Jena 6 story never got much attention in the big progressive blogs. Interesting discussion, & she's hesitant to slam anyone, classy gal that she is. Although there's a case to be made against Daily Kos. There's so many diaries posted on Kos that there's really no excuse why so few dealt with the Jena situation after it began appearing at the edges of MSM news. But I happen to think the most typical Kossites are middle class white guys who were hooked on Risk as kids. As grownups, they are nearly mirror counterparts to the middle class white guys on the conservative blogs. In their fantasies they make strategic decisions, move armies around, hire & fire generals & cabinet secretaries, manage campaigns for president & senate, issue executive commands, & call for the firing of any dissenters in the news media. Of nooses hung from "white only" trees & 16 year old black teenagers charged & tried as adults in rural Louisiana, that's too local. It's like running for town council or stopping a new Walmart or joining "Friends of the Library" or (gasp!) volunteering for a church committee. They'll be backpedaling now that this formerly provincial matter galvanzied the outrage of just about every Black American.

My excuse? None. I've been reading the Associated Press stories for months. But I take a rather off-handed approach to current events here, & my readership is very small. I don't think it's the start of a new civil rights movement. The leading presence of Al & Jesse & the deep South location gave the demonstration a nostalgic air for generations too young to have marched with Dr. King. Solidarity is good. Nothing in recent memory was more overtly & destructively racist than how the Executive Branch of our federal government reacted to New Orleans after Katrina, & it's still going on, too. With that terrible example at the top, how could it not embolden bigots in the muck at the bottom?


Yom Kippur

from Rabbi Jill Jacobs:
Modern history has taught us that there is no such thing as an innocent bystander. Modern history has also taught us that “just following orders” does not excuse immoral behavior. When we wrest religious authority out of the hands of a single individual, we hold the entire community responsible for our collective action or inaction.

It is for this reason that we utter the vidu’i(confession) in the plural. None of us, I would assume, are guilty of all of the sins listed in the vidu’i. However, by living in a world that allows these sins to occur, we are — by association — complicit in these crimes. Just as we can no longer rely on the Kohen Gadol [high priest] to pray for us or to atone for us, we cannot depend only on our political or religious leadership to solve the world’s problems.


Shut up I'm talking

It's worth giving some talk show guests a little extra time. Speedtalking actor James Woods steamrolled Craig Ferguson last night. Showed a great car bomb clip from Shark; told three incredible O.J. Simpson stories - including getting hit on by a very married Nicole Simpson while O.J. was out of town*: demonstrated his iPhone camera without a hitch; & owned up to his preference for younger women (although that now means under 45).

*also being seated next to Nicole at a dinner party before he knew who she was & listening to her complain about her marriage to an unnamed person; & unexpectedly attending the O.J. trial, O.J. turning, smiling at him, & reaching out in view of the courtroom camera to shake his hand like an old friend, which Woods was not.
Coincidental with the approaching Yom Kippur, but apropos, I went to the dentist today to begin the process of atonement for decades of indifference & outright neglect. I knew this day was coming from a visit a year ago, I decided then I might as well hang on a little longer since it was already too late. I have other middle age problems (no recurrence of the joint & lower back problems that afficted me at a younger age, thank heavens), but I can't deal with those unless I give myself a chance to eat properly again, & regain some minimal self-assurance about my appearance. This is going to take up most of the fall season, but while I wait for the insurance approval I can get a new prescription for eyeglasses.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's a joke, son

On Wednesday I voted against habeas corpus & on Thursday I voted to condemn free speech, I gotta tell you I just love being your United States Senator. What's that you say? War? What war?
Ms. Brilliant comments on the wussy-asses.
Great sky here in the moments after sunset. A photo couldn't have captured it, & it faded fast. The edge of a wide band of high, reddish clouds was overhead, angling from southwest to northeast, & beyond it to the north the open space of cloudless pale blue. The show disappeared completely during the ten minutes I spent in 7-11 reading newspaper headlines.

Happy Second Blogiversary to Street Prophets. I hang my hoodie there everyday for a little while or more & discuss things spiritual & progressive politics through a "faith" oriented prism. Although it's an offshoot of Kos, SP is about 1/1000th the size of The Orange Monster & attracts few of the Kossack regulars. A lot of the diaries aren't political. There's a daily Kaffeeklatsch & "prayer closet." A member posts a "Daily Office" based I think on the Anglican cycle. We've been discussing Yom Kippur & Ramadan. Some members of the community post very personal, even confessional, diaries. If you generalize too broadly in a rant about "fundies" or evangelicals, you might get quick education on the varieties of conservative religious belief. The Catholics are all laity-power types, which is my kind of RC. There's doctorate level protestants whose seminary theology goes way over my head. Occasionally, a troll wanders in from the far eft or far right, & more than once we've turned those threads into recipe exchanges. Earlier this year, SP'ers collaborated on cookbook. We have a couple of quilters. Over the first year, it was entertaining to watch how SP sorted itself out, with no outside direction, into the structure of a congregation, a reminder that none of that has anything to do with specific religions or doctrines. We have a sort of "pastor" who sort of directs traffic, but if you disagree with him you can stand up & throw a cream pie at the pulpit, something I've often wanted to do in church.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's the stretch, Mets

Willie Randolph is being philosophical about the Phillies nipping at the Mets east division lead, how the champagne will "taste sweeter." But the scary thing is, the 2nd place west division Padres have the same record as the Mets. So if my team doesn't win some games, the Mets risk falling completely out of the playoffs if they don't finish at the top, where they've been sailing along all summer. The Yanks became such an extraordinary team after the All-Star break that it didn't bug me too much when they caught up to the Mets in wins. Subway Series! I got concerned in August when the Mets started looking more like the Brewers & Cubs, good with suspiciously streaky ups & downs. I never believed they could dance through the playoffs, but in postseason the Mets always depend on mysterious cosmic energies - which either work for them or are absent the scene. The regular season is a different matter, the miraculous event wins a game here & there & is duly noted & appreciated, but it's still a 162 game grind.

(update: Mets 8, Nationals 4.)


A disappointed author

I'm disappointed. I thought I had an essay included in an important anthology, & I got bumped from it in the final stages when it all gets squeezed together. I can accept the editorial decision without anger, those things happen, I've been on both sides of that desk. I know where I stand in relation to many of the other writers in the book, I felt honored to be considered for inclusion, especially since I'd forgotten about the essay, wrote & published it in a 'zine about 20 years ago from an even older journal entry. It's an amusing piece, I wouldn't have given permission if I thought it misrepresented me. I don't have high standards, but I do have a few, & one is that I would never let an old crappy thing get reprinted in hardcover. At least I escaped the embarrassment of finding out at the release party. Fortunately, I hadn't bragged about the book to anyone. I must have a copy of the omitted piece around here somewhere, I'll dig it out & blog it, a fantasy on B movies. But as sometimes happens when my prose weaves a certain way, I sensed a poem in the fabric, which I shaped into this economical faux sonnet for Karen Black, from the 1980s. Although the essay slipped away into storage boxes, I kept the poem & liked it enough to stash it in the bag of words anyone can open.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Don't taser me I am a student

Automated phone call from PSE&G today a reminder I hadn't paid my electric bill in couple of months. The cumulative charges are less than what homeowners run up every month, but the utility cuts off service on length of nonpayment, not on the amount. The rates have gone up over the past year. The little bar graph in the bill shows that my usage is consistent - rises a lot during summer & a little during winter, falls in spring & fall. So I paid it along with an overdue phone bill, which is always the minimum charge since I use phone cards for long distance. I switched to phone cards a few years ago when a dial up ISP, without my realizing it, added a number to the list that incurred a low but continuous AT&T long distance charge that knocked me over when I got the bill. So I canceled the long distance service, switched to phone cards, & never went back. It's annoying to dial all those numbers, but at least I know who & where I'm calling, & I make few distance calls anyway. My $20 cards expire before I use them up.

I watched the video of the Florida student getting tasered when he wouldn't relinquish the microphone at a John Kerry Q&A. Yeah, I'd say it's excessive use of force by campus police. But on the other hand, it's damned foolish to put up any kind of resistance to cops carrying tasers & loaded guns (note tattoo on cop's forearm), even in a lecture hall that John Kerry couldn't generate enough student interest to fill. It was different than the sorry Rodney King beating, where a bunch of thug L.A. cops assaulted a man laying on the ground & when he squirmed & rolled in pain they yelled at him to stay still & beat him some more because he didn't conveniently become unconscious. I'm certain Andy's lawyer is already mulling over the long-term possibilities & I hope he wins enough money for graduate degree tuition at a more respectable university. The large number of drunken &/or criminally-inclined students in the University of Florida student body & on its athletic teams certainly demands a well-armed campus police force, but it's doubtful any of them would have attended the Kerry function.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Constitution Day

Thinking about this but it's bumming me out.
A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.
Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism
I believe we crossed the line in the 1994 midterm elections. The Clinton/Gore/Clinton administration, though hardly far left or even very liberal by European standards, represented such a profound cultural-generational shift that it had to be marginalized, rendered ineffective, & destroyed if possible. Bill Clinton was a non-militarist - unique for a Post-WWII president but not unusual for a Boomer - assuming office after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was perceived as tremendous threat to the "military-industrial complex" President Eisenhower fruitlessly warned us about in 1961. Americans were talking about "peace dividends." But 1994 proved that right wing radicals had taken over the Republican Party, they weren't authentic conservatives, & they were using a specific form of peculiarly American protestanism to prop up their claims to moral superiority. All Republicans (& not a few Democrats) are collaborators in the coup d'état that subsequently occurred in The United States in the 2000 presidential election.

The Constitution is being methodically reduced to a symbol, like our national flag something to be saluted.

All the Democratic presidential candidates have some idea of what they're up against. Chris Dodd is the one candidate I believe understands the situation in all its terrible reality, & also understands how he contributed to it. I think guilt is part of his motivation for running. However, I'm not endorsing the Senator.

All of the Republican candidates, even Romney & Huckabee, are confident they can beat any Democratic candidate. Right now, their confidence has some justification. Republicans will do anything necessary to win, sell their children's souls to Satan if that would guarantee it. The stakes are that high. They're stuck with Iraq, which doesn't mean they can't turn it to advantage over the next year. Giuliani, a divisive, ruthless man, has shown the way. All of them will resort to demagoguery.

To succeed, a Democratic president must be very wise, very careful, very strong, & an expert politician. He or she has to extricate us from Iraq while engaging in difficult, delicate international diplomacy. There must be a "100 days" domestic agenda for the American public. But the trickiest task this president faces will be making changes in the Pentagon & throughout the vast federal bureaucracy. This is inside work requiring the expertise of insiders. Of the three top contenders, I think Obama has the smallest chance of accomplishing what must be done to bring America back to the Constitution. Hillary is the best prepared, & I don't discount the revenge factor in her motivations; she's angry & means to settle some old scores. That's fine with me. But most of her (& Bill's) biggest antagonists & enemies are gone from the national scene now. She's built bridges across the aisle in the senate, & Bill has even built a bridge to the Bush clan. I'm concerned that she's too invested. John Edwards is also angry. He's been thinking about what he wants to do as president for a long time. I haven't yet got a sense of who he would bring into his administration, his "brain trust."

On Constititution Day I'm thinking of how America can save the Constitution. The surest way to throw the Constitution away forever is by electing another Republican president.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Asbury Park NJ

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Push Back

From "190 arrested at D.C. protest."
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Robert "Buzz" Patterson, speaking from a stage to crowds clad in camouflage, American flag bandanas and Harley Davidson jackets, said he wanted to send three messages.

"Congress, quit playing games with our troops. Terrorists, we will find you and kill you," he said. "And to our troops, we're here for you, and we support you."
That's a report of a smaller counter-protest a few blocks away. But the irony is that it also describes the dress & the views of many people who are against the war. & it's a challenge for the anti-war movement; the necessity of broadening the activist war opposition, which has to be kicked up to a another level now. For a start, it's time to gently ease Cindy Sheehan off the stage, with grateful thanks, & replace her with war veterans, officers & enlisted. Bring out the bikers & the American flag bandanas. Make it clear that we do want bin Laden & his minions; that we stand with all those who have endured terrible terrorist attacks around the world, that we love America & that we believe the Bush/Cheney junta has made us weaker, not stronger; that our miltary has been misused & abused by this adminstration. Let's bring the troops back, give the Guard & Reserves a break, refit, regroup, rethink our strategy & tactics, listen to our allies like Great Britain. Bush has told us what he's going to do; screw the troops, screw the American people. There's no choice but to push back, hard, at Bush, at Congress, & at the presidential candidates.


Praying Mantis

Good deed for today: Rescued praying mantis from the apartment stairway, apparently came in through open window, sitting on the wall, strange triangular head, brownish color with well-developed wings.. It fluttered down the steps where I managed to slide it into a folded piece of paper & deposit the insect in a bush outside.
Rutgers 59, Norfolk State 0.
Michigan 38, Notre Dame 0.


Friday, September 14, 2007

DJ Geezer

I had to make a special trip to Jersey City tonight to fill out a form, nearly 3 hours there & back for a task that took all of 5 minutes & involved writing down the same information I put on the previous form in May. I have to do it or I could lose my fill-in status & station privileges at WFMU. I'm 7th or 8th in seniority among about 100 staffers at the station but down near the bottom in responsibilities & ambitions & that's the way I want it right now. For the part asking what my "regular duties" are, I turned to DJ Bryce & said, "Aside from answering phones & stuffing some envelopes during the marathon, standing at the dollar table during the Record Fair, being kind to new DJs who have no idea why a strange geezer is hanging out in the record library, & doing a few fill ins during the year on less than 24 hours notice, isn't it enough that I'm Rix?"

"I love you," Bryce said.

"I realy do listen to Beethoven at home," I said.

"I hope so."


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bush wins again

A sad, disappointing night. George W. Bush declared victory for his Iraq War policy, & he had good reason to if that policy is a permanent American miliary presence in Iraq. Because he will leave office with the policy in place. He entered office wanting to put the United States military in Iraq, & he did. It will be up to the next president to change it. As a Republican, he's betting the next president will be a Republican. Congressional Democrats have neither the will nor the power to stop him. Bush can say anything he wants. Of course his speech was absurd. But it doesn't matter. He's certain both history & God will absolve him. Only his own political party could force his hand now, & it won't. Bush accomplished what he set out to do tonight, which was to prevent Republicans from making common cause with Democrats this month.

I haven't located a list of all 36 nations Bush says have "troops on the ground in Iraq."

John Edwards:
In January, after years of evidence that military actions cannot force a political solution, the president announced a military surge to force a political solution. In May, he vetoed a plan to end the war, demanded more time to show the surge could work, and Congress gave it to him. Now, after General Petraeus reports the surge has produced no progress toward a political solution, what does the president want? More time for the surge to work, when we know it won't.

Our troops are stuck between a president without a plan to succeed and a Congress without the courage to bring them home.

But Congress must answer to the American people. Tell Congress you know the truth - they have the power to end this war and you expect them to use it. When the president asks for more money and more time, Congress needs to tell him he only gets one choice: a firm timeline for withdrawal.

No timeline, no funding. No excuses.

It is time to end this war.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The surge

It's a dangerous folly for a president or a commanding general to predict troop reductions a year in advance (even with conditions) as a way of placating a nation that wants those reductions much sooner if not right away. It creates false hopes. It's also an act of desperation. This kind of "marketing" is like when a store increases the price of something then promises a coupon that only reduces the cost to the old price. But it's a bloody war, not a product.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Louie the Handyman

If your name gets selected for the "Grand Slam 5th" on the Yankee radio broadcast, you win dinner for two at a nice restaurant. But if the 4th Yank batter in the inning hits a grand slam homerun, you win a Toyoya Camry. This was tonight's 5th:
- B. Abreu doubled to deep left center
- A. Rodriguez singled to shortstop
- H. Matsui flied out to deep right center, B. Abreu to third
- J. Posada walked, A. Rodriguez to second
- J. Giambi homered to deep left,Posada, Rodriguez & Abreu scored
Announcer John Sterling was decent enough not to mention how close one woman came to a new car.
Louie the Handyman shows up this morning with a printout list from the state inspector of all the repairs he has to make in the building. He walks in & wanders around, "It says here paint ceiling in bedroom, cracked window sill livmg room, electric switchplate bathroom, overhead light fixture bedroom, molding on bedroom window - I don't see no problem with window - install chain lock front door..." I was here for that inspection & except for the chain lock none of them are familiar. So I ask Louie for the list & have him show me, & it turns out he's reading another apartment. I point to my apartment, & there's the chain lock, adjusting automatic door closer, repair & paint bathroom window, which he already did because it was on city inspection list, & I had him replace the damaged bathroom ceiling tiles that aren't on the the list because it happened later, & he was finished in 20 minutes & out of here instead of spending all morning doing work that didn't need to be done. But I'm at home & probably more alert than many of the other tenants, & I wonder how many things on his list Louie won't be fixing today because he's in the wrong apartments fixing things that don't have to be fixed.

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The greater tragedy

The worst thing about 9/11, as it has turned out, is that George W. Bush was President when it happened.

In the aftermath of the attack, our greatest fear here in the New York area was that it would be only the first of many terrorist acts. I expected those acts, if they occurred, to be smaller; individual suicide bombers blowing themselves up on subways & buses, sabotaging refineries & pipelines & chemical storage tanks. It's the kind of terror campaign that could have wrecked our economy, causing businesses & hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people to flee New York City & its surrounding cities & suburbs for safer regions. We never believed 9/11 itself would wreck New York. New York City had, over the previous 25 years, struggled back from a very bad place. Most of America probably doesn't realize how large a city New York is or how much of it has been renewed & revitalized over the past two decades. As long as we -New Yorkers & those of us living nearby- felt reasonably safe, New York would continue to go forward & prosper. Instead, it was New Orleans & a hurricane that showed what happens almost overnight to a great American city when it is left defenseless - four years after 9/11!

George W. Bush is the greater tragedy that befell America after 9/11, because the Iraq War is a more tragic thing, & he brought it upon us, with the never-ending death & destruction & waste of lives & resources, & the terrible suffering of the Iraqi people. The war was justified on the basis of lies & it is sustained by lies, & because of it all of the good will extended to us when the planes crashed & the towers fell has disappeared. The opportunity, the possibilities of that ugly, transforming day, gone.

All of the lives lost & the damage wrought on 9/11 can be blamed on Al Qaeda & Bin Laden, regardless of what our government did or did not do to prevent it. But all of the American lives lost & ruined in Iraq, who is responsible for those?

Osama Bin Laden still mocks us. The Taliban are resurgent. We remain in debt to the House of Saud. What have we learned?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Living Dolls

Their kisses feel like real kisses
And when they cry they cry real tears
But what's left in your arms
When the static clears
Donald Fagen, "Tomorrow's Girls"
Spock's Brain meets I, Mudd? A facial expression that communicates the complete absence of thought in a living, ambulatory human is not easy to achieve. Try it & the best you'll do is probably boredom or incomprehension.

Britney at the MTV Awards: Maybe this young woman's gonna be alright. She wasn't into her performance, that's a good sign, that scene really is mostly a load of phony crap capable e of inducing a drug-like stupor in both participants & viewers. At age 25 & with two kids Britney's over-the-hill for the 10-13 year old girls who comprised her core fans, & she's lost the tense, anorexic, sexless body they worship. She has no movie career. Unlike Madonna, she's always been a creation of her producers & songwriters. She ought to just stay in Vegas.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Astroland Coney Island

The Rix Mix celebrates Astroland Amusement Park
on the Coney Island NY boardwalk.
Hope this isn't the end for you, old pal.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sing with angels, Luciano

Moved by the spectacles of Luciano Pavarotti's funeral & another inarticulate speech by our president, blogger Jurassicpork rails out against American culture & education by praising 19th Century Italian opera & the paintings of traditionalist artist Andrew Wyeth in Art: Do We Have It?. I enjoy Pavarotti & Italian opera & Andrew Wyeth. But I also revel in the "skewed relativism" that infuriates Jurassic. I've been promoting & skewing culture in a relativistic manner for a long, long time. I was fascinated by the odd juxtapositions of genre & style & quality well before I appreciated the mixes & contrasts in any self-conscious way. That's what happens when one had, as an impressionable youngster, an unsettling feeling that the only thing Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Gerry & the Pacemakers, The Supremes, Napoleon XIV, The Beatles, & Petula Clark had in common was that they all had hit records in the Top 40. New York AM radio was playing only the hits in a rotation that made no musical sense, but was nonjudgmental.

In popular culture, Pavarotti coexists with everything else, neither for nor against anything else sharing the stage. He understood this. I could argue that an unwillingness to separate "high" from "low" art is inherent in Italian culture. As one might expect in a country built on the ruins of the Roman Empire & where masterpieces of art & architecture are as common as billboard advertisements.

There's nothing remarkable about someone being both a political leftist & a cultural reactionary. But let's have no cranky, conservative snobbery about "adolescents whose sole cultural contribution to America is in wearing its clothes backwards and having committed to enduring memory the lyrics of thousands of heavy metal and hip hop songs while not being able to perfectly recite a single line by Shakespeare or Keats." William Bennett could say that, or a grumpy uncle. I had to memorize chunks of Shakespeare & Tennyson (& Longfellow & Edward Rowland Sill) as tedious assignments from bored old public school teachers, & I'll tell you it did me no good. Amazing that I wasn't totally turned off, & sought better teachers & other paths to classic poetry, & to contemporary art & music. George W. Bush may be more representive of his generation of Americans than we are willing to admit.


Friday, September 07, 2007

"to be meek, alone, beside a big dark lake at night -"

Planet News, 1961-1967 (Pocket Poets)
by Allen Ginsberg
It really pays to read Allen Ginsberg in the original City Lights Pocket Poets series. Each one has the special flavor of its cultural period in America. Planet News traces Allen's transformation from weary Fifties beat figure (1961) to his flowering as the bearded, iconic hippie prophet in the Uncle Sam hat (1967). Allen Ginsberg, Superstar.

Allen is approaching Forty as John Kennedy is killed & the old, leftist folkie beat scene gets k.o.'d by the one-two punches of The Beatles & Dylan Electrified. So, A.G. brings it all back home, "Here at the atomic crack-end of Time XX Century..."

Of the several small epics within Planet News, "Wichita Vortex Sutra" is the Ace. This long plane flight - actually one section of an infinitely long spin toward the Event Horizon - brings us face-to-face with the Vietnam Apocalypse & the growing cancer on America's soul, to be continued in the Fall of America.

But the beauty-soul of Planet News is found in the shorter poems: the lovely "Galilee Shore;" "Big Beat" & "Portland Coliseum," where The Beatles astonish him, no easy feat; The legendary "First Party at Ken Kesey's with Hell's Angels," Allen doesn't seem terribly impressed; Crowned the "Kral Majales" in the short Prague springtime; "Death News" of his friend, poet William Carlos Williams; Waking up the Royal Albert Hall crowd with "Who Be Kind To," can you envision Marianne Faithful? & let us not overlook "Patna-Benares Express," "I Am A Victim of the Telephone" & especially "Why is God Love, Jack?" Yes, that Jack.

At last, The Pentagon Exorcism: "Pentagon awake from planet-sleep!" & of course it never has from that day to this. But it did rise ten feet off the ground & spin like some nauseating carnival ride. At least, that's what I heard. Beautiful thing.
( review 2000)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Language Disclaimer

81 year old comedian Jerry Lewis & 39 year old comedian Eddie Griffin got in trouble for their language on stage this past week. Lewis slipped up on the schtick he's been using since 1945. Griffin was performing his standard routine.

A few weeks ago I was reading the newspaper & not watching something on HBO when Def Comedy Jam came on. This is what I heard over about ten minutes of standup comedy:
Welome to Def Comedy Jam blah blah blah nigga blah blah muthafuckin shit blah blah nigga blah blah shit blah blah nigga blah blah shit blah blah muthafuckin nigga blah blah bitch blah blah etc.

I put down the newspaper when the comic, a black guy, insulted a black woman in the audience for having a close-cropped haircut, a style I happen to like. She was quite attractive. Maybe my appreciation of beauty is faulty. The African-American audience, which looked far more upscale (& even pimpified) than a Showtime At the Apollo crowd, reacted with hilarity. I turned it off. Clearly, this narrow ethnic dialect humor was not for me any more than the Yiddish punchlines of Myron Cohen working an adult crowd in the Catskills circa 1955. Why should I complain? It did bother me when I passed a young father in my neighborhood showing off his baby daughter, about a year old, to a couple of his pals, & one of them was tickling the little girl in pink & saying over & over, "You're such a cute little nigger." But I must be wrong to take offense. I'm a white poet who rarely finds any need for "bad" words in speaking or writing. What do I know about acceptable usage in black vernacular?

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Calling Gen. Jack D. Ripper

This story with undertones of Dr. Strangelove:
BISMARCK, N.D. - A B-52 bomber was mistakenly loaded with five nuclear warheads during a flight from North Dakota to Louisiana, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

The bomber carried advanced cruise missiles as part of a Defense Department program to retire 400 of the missiles, the Military Times said, quoting three officers who spoke on condition they remain anonymous because they were not authorized to discuss the incident.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Product

As so often happens, the best weather of the summer is the week after Labor Day.

If you're interested in the business of the recorded music business, The Music Man, Lynn Hirschberg's NY Times mag piece on Columbia co-head Rick Rubin is a must read. I'm a consumer. I'm rarely concerned with "product" because I have no problem finding it & almost no contact with popular "popular" music, the product big record companies sell. Product that sells is good product. Product that doesn't sell is product that sucks. The problem facing the music industry isn't one of quality, but that it's giving away the popular product through file sharing & 99 cent downloads of individual songs. I mostly buy classical music, which has never been more diverse, more interesting, or available at such bargain prices. You could easily build a first rate collection of classical music legally & not spend more than $10 on an album.

From Nat Hentoff, History Will Not Absolve Us:
If and when there's the equivalent of an international Nuremberg trial for the American perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Guantánamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the CIA's secret prisons, there will be mounds of evidence available from documented international reports by human-rights organizations..
Again & again, George W. Cheney has posed himself in front of American soldiers & reassured us that the plan-of-the-month is working, that Iraqis really do crave democracy & want to cooperate with Americans. The small problem is Iraqis won't prove it by not killing Americans or each other. "Securing" Anbar Province means it becomes Sunni territory, not part of a unified Iraq.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ten Albums in the Sixties

that made big impressions on me:
Sure, all these are considered major or minor classics now, but none of them came to me on the recommendation of rock critics. I bought a lot of LPs on the basis of hits, buzz, suggestions from friends, chance, or because I was already a fan. I had a higher opinion of The Beach Boys & The Stones records than the devotees of those groups; the former had no megahit & the latter was another step away from raw R&B. Nobody else I knew enjoyed or cared about The Mothers except my girlfriend, the album was hilarious & very daring, & a bunch of Zappa's lines entered our private code. I didn't even like The Stooges, but the overall tone of the album ("I Wanna Be Your Dog") fascinated me at a time when rock was headed in entirely different directions, I'd hardly have considered them influential, given that the record went into cutout bins only months after its release.

I did love Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, it was recognized immediately as a special record. While I admired the achievement of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band , nothing on that record gave me as much pleasure as "Rain" & "Paperback Writer." Highway 61 was my Pepper, the watershed record that changed how I listened to rock. No that's not true; "Like A Rolling Stone" did.

We all listened to & liked crap. Crappy bands often made great singles - still do, & sometimes you had to hear the album with the hit on it to know the band was crappy. Sometimes an album revealed the opposite, an under-rated band. It was a fun time also because we weren't overwhelmed with new music; no regional "indie" records made it into New York area stores without a major label distribution deal. There were whole other music scenes going on in England & Europe that didn't get here all. Although choices were fewer, & we missed out on many wonderful records that had to wait until the 80s & later for rediscovery, Sixties music was less complicated & easier to share & compare.

The All Music Guide reviews say pretty much what I would about the albums.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Wildwood NJ

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Souvenirs of me

That was a strange summer, 1992. Much would change for the better by the following summer. I was working at Pearl Arts, mostly frame dept, very boring, & the book area I wanted to concentrate on was still neglected & wouldn't shape up for another year. I was hanging out a lot at the Broadway Central, a bar in South Amboy that had an odd Soho atmosphere because it was owned by a a pretty good artist. The place had no jukebox & the sound on the TV was rarely turned up, but the owner's taste in music was good, I'm not a bar type & I felt comfortable there nursing beers. There were decent bands on weekends.

The woman in "Balloon" came into Pearl for frames for a photography show, & it turned out we had mutual acquaintances. Later I learned they wouldn't have given her good character references. She had been a club dancer, nice body, without projecting much sensuality, maybe she could turn it on & off, & she was quite strange. I sensed she was probably bisexual. We had that one "date" at Seaside Heights. We didn't click. I made the mistake of loaning her two favorite records she found looking through my radio show bag in my car, appreciating her interest & thinking if she got into them we'd have something to talk about. Never saw those records again. She "forgot" them the few times we got together. Since I knew nothing was gonna happen between us, it annoyed me enough to drop by her house unannounced, she wasn't home, so I asked her crone of a mom to look for them, which was pointless. Maybe she played & enjoyed them, I hope so, but in'92 I wasn't of a mind to replace my records with CDs at ripoff prices. I think she kept them as souvenirs of me.



My desk accumulates clutter
pictures on the walls hang
above piles of records & books
paper poems & dirty dishes

I stirred myself from this sanctuary
for a ride on a carousel
with a beautiful woman

We drove to the boardwalk
she won a stuffed minah bird
by busting a balloon
revealing the secret prize

I beat her at pinball
but she shook enough tokens loose
from from the poker slots
to get plastic backscratchers
for us both

Then the night became mist

I had gone searching again
for something I lost years ago
& when we pulled into her driveway
I wondered if I had revealed
the wrong part of myself

What if I had shown her where I lived -
the facade I had built of words
fronting a house as empty
as the boardwalk arcades
on the icy nights of January


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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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