Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shana Tova Umetukah

I changed the station on the plastic Sears Silvertone solid state AM radio from WFAN "Let's Go Mets!" to ESPN 1050, & there it will stay through the World Series.

(It isn't a "collectable" radio, never treated it like one, got it for a few bucks at a flea market )


Down it goes, up it goes, down, up.

Down it goes, up it goes, down, up. What gets me about a volatile stock market is the market part. It really is. If the soft shell Chesapeake crabs look good today, you better buy 'em even if there's fewer of them & they cost more. If the broccoli is getting a bit old, have a "manager's special" & get rid of it before it has to be thrown in the garbage. Freeze in the orange groves today & the price of orange juice in the supermarket strangely increased yesterday (maybe that's an oil analogy).
One can imagine lots of individual investors reading ticker tape, on the phone yelling "BUY, SELL, BUY, SELL," as they mull over whether to purchase a new Bentley or jump out the window, but the wealthy Bumsteads don't drive the market. I suspect most Americans have no idea what's happening to their money, why credit loosens & tightens, where their pension funds are invested. We prefer the illusion of stability on a long incline, where even the descents are part of the ascent,

The descent
made up of despairs
and without accomplishment
realizes a new awakening    :
which is a reversal
of despair.

Poet William Carlos Williams means a "world unsuspected" opened up by descent, not American optimism. American economy can fail. America can become unfree. America can descend - maybe descending right now, maybe has been descending for 40 years but we can't see it yet, we thought we were going up, like the stock market.
Much of what we regard as "true" about America is religion, bequeathed by the radical Calvinism of the pilgrims & puritans. Our faith is constantly tested, not yet disproved. The ascent of China, India, the European Union we may attribute to our increasing ungodliness. Put a godly person in the presidency, a George W. Bush, a (hoped for by some ev- xtians) Sarah Palin, we rationalize all the apparent descents as actually part of an overall ascent, God's Plan. Even the secularist conservatives buy into this at 11 am Sunday morning, as they haul in the New York Times from the front yard, sip their Bloody Marys, & rant on about the current Democratic antichrist, latest in a long line of horned beasts disguising themselves behind the American flag lapel pins.

The Lord's ways are mysterious, providing us with an antichrist so nakedly adorned with the middle name "Hussein." Truly the Clash of Civilizations. I would have expected the Devil to be more subtle, to cast up someone with a perfectly Biblical first name like "Sarah" & a reassuring Norman Conquest surname like "Palin," making gender & hometown the attractive novelties (he had a number of options for VP), & she wouldn't even have to quote the Bible, because the Devil knows that nobody quotes the Bible better than the Devil.

Who is her Karl Rove? Maybe Karl Rove? Would anyone now dispute his demonic qualities?
For me, both Repug candidates are demonic characters. I don't mean that they actual demons, or that I'm intent on demonizing them, although I do. John McCain has already reminded me of both Froggy the Gremlin & Mighty Mouse, & those images offered themselves to me, I wasn't looking for them. I don't research this stuff, just as I rarely resort to a thesaurus for synonyms. The most precise word often turns out to be a word I never use, & so I feel dishonest using it. Which is also why my blog rarely rises above "middle school" on the vocabulary scan. Although "demonizing, " gremlin," & "thesaurus" might push this paragraph up to high school level. I don't think it does a grammar check.

I'm tempted to add "talking to myself" to the post label list, it's too depressing to think of how often I'd want to use it.
But I know it's not true.
Even when I'm  boring 
for days on end,
I'm read by a few.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

H R 3997 for other purposes

H R 3997 RECORDED VOTE 29-Sep-2008 2:07 PM
QUESTION: On Concurring in Senate Amendment With An Amendment
BILL TITLE: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide earnings assistance and tax relief to members of the uniformed services, volunteer firefighters, and Peace Corps volunteers, and for other purposes

That's how it's listed on the dot gov roll call page. Other purposes.

Of New Jersey's delegation, 3 Dems & 4 Repugs against; 4 Dems & 2 Repugs for. The latter 2 Repugs are retiring. The bill lost a state where many, many thousands of residents depend directly on employment in the financial sector. How confusing is that? Liberals hated it as much as the conservatives, & anyone who says Nancy Pelosi's inexplicably partisan speech when she needed a bipartisan majority sunk the bill in a matter of minutes is nuts. She's a paper tiger. As for McCain:
You know, remarkably, some people have criticized my decision, but I will never, ever be a president who sits on the sidelines when this country faces a crisis. I know that many of you may have noticed, but it's not my style to simply "phone it in."
Is he referring to a particular president "sitting on the sidelines"? My Friends, hehehe, McCain cannot "lead" in the absence of a crisis. So, in only one month he has adopted three for himself in which his leadership was not required or even strongly solicited. A McCain adminstration would stumble from crisis to crisis, from red alert to cry wolf, but with hardly a mission-accomplished photo op. When there is no crisis he can embrace as a nation-saving cause (see Rudy Giuliani) he will invent one, a frightening prospect. You're supposed to know when it's enough just to pick up the phone. Cheney has conducted his business mostly that way for 8 years.

We wait in vain for a peace plan, an energy plan, a health plan, an environmental plan, an education plan, an infrastructure plan. The guvmint sends us "free money" & tells us to spend it & everything be fine, & it's not. A few weeks ago they spent $84 billion on a fix. Then in a mere three days they come up with a plan to rescue the whole freakin' economy. That would have to rate as the greatest three day miracle in 2000 years. No wonder Americans are doubtful. We don't understand what's happening or why. We have problems with the simple stuff: Who attacked us on 9/11 & how old is the world?

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Sunday, September 28, 2008



No miracle

& a sad way to close Shea Stadium. Marlins 4, Mets 2.
But we expected this when Billy Wagner went down, right? He was slowly sinking before the All Star break. The bullpen lost another one today, the must-win. But when you get knocked out by one game, the very last game, every loss this season becomes a must-win. Two more wins in April would have put them in the playoffs.
Last year we were stunned. This season there was little the Mets could do to prevent the outcome, not during September, short of a spectacular offense. Ollie Perez did his job. Scoop up the dirt.

I know today was a Mets event, but it was also the Shea farewell, so it would've been a capper if Joe Willie Namath had been invited. What other athlete in Tom Seaver's exalted class made his rep there?


Leonia NJ

The Radio Dispatched Color TV Clinic.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Newman's Own

He was around forever, not so long ago with Letterman discussing Indy cars, & beating Leno in a go kart race, two fellow automobile crazies.

I was in Park Theater in Roselle Park, a Saturday, I'd watched some cartoons & westerns, movies ended, theater cleared out, I ducked down in my seat & stayed, easy when you're about 3 feet tall. Adults entered, some high schoolers, late afternoon show. Lights dimmed. Long Hot Summer came on, sweaty sex Southern theme (Faulkner, not Tennessee Williams), Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Orson Welles.
The Long Hot Summer
seems to know what a flirt you are.
Seems to know your caress
isn't mine to possess.
How could someone possess a star?*
I was clueless. The usher waving flashlight beam in my face telling me I had to leave. Adult entertainment.

Joanne Woodward made that afternoon so memorable. Of grownup movie stars, she was my first love. Newman already had her. & stayed with her for fifty years. Love is better than grand.

Paul was in some wildly popular movies. Very cool actor with teenagers from late Fifties into Seventies. The Hustler; Hud; Harper; Cool Hand Luke; Butch Cassidy; The Sting. A few dogs in there, too. Some of the characters' potboiler names: Ben Quick, Brick Pollitt, Ram Bowen, Chance Wayne, Hud Bannon, Steve Sherman, Lew Harper. Adult entertainment.

So much of his film acting was such a pleasure to watch. The Hustler; Hud (beyond antihero into yuk territory; Cool Hand; Sometimes a Great Notion; Drowning Pool; over-the-top Buffalo Bill & The Indians; Slap Shot; The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, a peculiar John Huston movie; Absence of Malice; The Verdict; Mr. & Mrs. Bridge; Nobody's Fool; Road to Perdition. Directed Rachel, Rachel & produced They Might Be Giants for Joanne Woodward. Let tough guy character actor Richard Jaeckel loose in Sometimes A Great Notion, got Richard a deserved Oscar nomination.

Newman was always linked in my mind with Marlon Brando & James Dean. Dean is three movies, two Oscar nominations, & a fatal car crash. Marlon, the greater actor, lost control of his weight & his career. Newman had a sense of vocation as well as of craft. Every project had his attention, nothing was make-or-break. He got to drive race cars in Winning & fought Steve McQueen for top billing, equal pay & dialogue in Towering Inferno, & moved on. He had a career being Paul Newman, self-deprecating as he used his name to channel millions into good causes, but the movie roles were singular. Even Fort Apache The Bronx, at once depressing & weird, like you'd seen it all on Kojak without the R rating, has it's pleasures with Paul Newman running around in it.

*Nobody ever points out that the career of lyricist Sammy Cahn coincides with the long decline of the so-called "Great American Songbook." I just did.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

The Default Candidate

Watching the mean, cranky, psychotic, puny little man that is John McCain, who even with his wife's $100 million won't get himself a decent set of teeth, playing the POW card, telling outright lies, clenching his jaw as if he were wishing it was still legal to string up black men, and finishing up with a rant about experience, as if his running mate wasn't the biggest embarrassment in American political history, I was once again reminded that this election is a referendum on all of us. It's a referendum on whether we are still such a racist country that we are willing to elect such a vile, corroded, soulless excuse for a human being, and his willfully ignorant, religiously insane running mate, simply because their skin is white.

And I fear terribly that we are.

Jill at Brilliant At Breakfast

It is painful to watch an American hero lose his integrity because something in him tells him that his heroism is a transcendent qualification. John Kennedy, George McGovern, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, & John Kerry all might take issue with that sort of self regard. Fortunate is the hero who has to tell his story only once, to the storytellers, & wisely knows that is all he needs to say. For all his second-rateness as a senator, rarely a senate leader, McCain did show us something worthwhile in his unsuccessful 2000 campaign, which he proceeded to throw away by not being what he had claimed to be: a maverick. In the current Repug party, we can call Senator Olympia Snowe & Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger mavericks because they are neither bigots nor religious zealots, or concerned about pleasing bigots & zealots, & they work "across the aisle" because they must, & it gets things done, & they aren't doctrinaire. Many Repugs would purge those two from the party tomorrow. I still view McCain as a "default" candidate. The actual candidate is Sarah Palin, but she's like the inexperienced pitcher with the good scouting reports the organization had planned on bringing to spring training next year, but who gets called up after a month in AA ball because the bullpen is empty & the team is desperate.

Michael Shaw has a sharp commentary on two New York Times photos of the event. He thinks McCain was more effective rhetorically. But the photos capture McCain's strange personality. Shaw writes that one photo suggests Obama is the paternal figure, looking at McCain & touching him, as McCain avoids eye contact. But I see the pair as the angry, closed father, & Obama as the son who nonetheless respects & connects with him. Of the two, Obama is the well-adjusted personality. He likes people generally. The primary & sometimes most difficult act of compassion is acknowledging another's humanity, which is a step beyond acknowledging their existence.


We had a nasty coastal storm here in Jersey, kicked up 16 foot waves offshore, blew in last night, poured rain. Memorable only for shore town public works depts when they check out how much beach they lost (except Wildwood, which gets wider). It's the unnamed storms that chew up the coast. This was the first offseason nor'easter, & if one of those storms moves slowly enough, heavy rain or not, & the sand-piling bulldozers haven't had time to stay ahead of it, stuff falls down & floats away.

Look Mets, here's the deal: When you give up six runs you lose more than you win. Doesn't make any difference how you give up the runs, or which innings they're scored in. If, at the end of the game, the other team has six runs, it's more likely you'll have lost than won.

Trotskyite Degenerates*

So what is America learning this week? That John McCain tried to convince us he's one of the Senate's top bananas & now we know he isn't, if we didn't already know it. He suspends his campaign in a panic, rushes off to D.C. (stopping by first to see Couric), but ends up sitting at the same table with Obama in a photo op arranged by that Great Statesman George W. Bush.

Aide: You better sit on this phone book, Senator McCain.

The American people are furious, just furious about the $700 bil. We're still paying for the wars, then they send us checks to fix the economy, it doesn't work & now they want the money back - for a start. Dems say maybe that amount's a bit too low, Repugs say they might be cool with it if rich folks get off the hook, throw in some highest bracket tax breaks. We want to blame somebody, but the tentacles of the beast go every which way. The only Senator with the right to take it from the outside is the only overt socialist in the room, agree with him or not, hello Bernie Sanders of Vermont. It wasn't his beast. Odd thing, Wall Street owned the guv'mint, & now guv'mint is buyng Wall Street. Maybe Repugs really are secret Trotskyites.

* "The stench of carrion rises from the vile, base Trotskyite degenerates." Nikita Khrushchev, Moscow, January 1937.


Thursday, September 25, 2008


The pod of dolphins that swam into the Navesink River at the start of summer is still there. One died of pneumonia, apparently it'd been sick for months. They certainly enjoyed themselves, food was plentiful. They are beautiful creatures, we humans love to watch them. The argument is about whether or not they can find their way out. I don't understand why they couldn't. The Navesink/Shrewsbury system of estuaries isn't all that large or complex, it isn't like Barnegat. Much of it is too shallow to interest the large mammals or they'd have become stranded on mud flats in the narrower creeks. The tides clearly show the exit routes; I imagine the dolphins can feel those & also taste the salinity. The Shrewsbury main channel has strong currents & leads directly to Sandy Hook Bay & the ocean. So if it's time for them to leave, why don't they? I don't see how they could be "lost" in the Navesink. One marine biologist suggests that their internal biological compass is directed south when water turns cold, & south in the Navesink system is a dead end. Evacuating the dolphins is potentially more dangerous to them than leaving them be.
I'm not the one to tell this world
How to get along
I only know the peace will come
When all hate is gone

I've been searchin'
For the dolphins in the sea
And sometimes I wonder
Do you ever think of me

Fred Neil, "The Dolphins"

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Are they insane?

Suspend the campaign? Neither McCain nor Obama needs to be in Washington DC, they're both senators who can make their influence felt in congress from anywhere, fer cripessake one of them's gonna be president, & they can fly there to cast their votes. There may be a bipartisan "fix" to the financial crisis, but hey we're deciding on the next four years here, on a whole range of issues - health care, energy, war, peace - minor stuff like that - & there's only six weeks left to do it. Let's give these two guys & their running mates byes. You can keep on campaigning. It's alright with us. Show us your multi-taskin' skills. John? John?

One task at time. Have to suspend campaign & go save America.

McCain is jive ass, & yes it is possible he's so habitually jive ass that he believes his jive ass self isn't jive ass at all, but that just means he's hustling people on another level. The jive ass giveaway is when he says, "I'm suspending my jive assing campaign & keeping it real." Which means, of course, that his campaign rolls on, & the new tactic is that he "suspended" his campaign, & he's a lying jive ass.

Letterman not pleased McCain cut & run on a scheduled appearance tonight. Dave liked McCain - might be past tense now - & the Senator could have sat in the guest chair for four segments talking about anything he wanted. Letterman thinks he should have sent "his second string quarterback." His replacement as guest: Keith Olbermann. Not Amy Sedaris. Not Regis. Not Elvis Costello. Not any of the other usual short notice fill-ins. Keith raised the possibility that one of the four debates might have to be canceled, given how few dates are available, & guess which one? The VP debate! Imagine how Palin's handlers are freaking out trying to prep her for it, two weeks to go, her independent poll numbers dropping, & the bar already set at "I'm only 95% clueless."

BTW, attempting to track down the source of the "Biden Dropping Out Internet Rumor" I never heard until it popped up as a Fox News headline, Google takes it in a big circle through right wing websites until it ends up right back at Fox. It seems to be a combination cosmic balance / girl fight fantasy of Hillary vs. Sarah, so of course Joe has to be written out of the comic book.

What Obama & Biden could do as candidates & senators is not suspend the campaign, but reorganize their schedules, do both jobs, do them well, show how energetic & prepared they are compared to the venerable geezer.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The McCain/Palin campaign would collapse overnight if a video were discovered of Sarah Palin speaking in tongues. The vast majority of Americans have never personally witnessed the phenomena.

There are many anti-charismatic fundamentalists who consider speaking in tongues a dangerous & demonic form of worship & not at all an expression of the Holy Spirit. Here's a page titled Chaos with sound, from from ultra-fundamentalist website.

From a pentecostal website, an 8 minute RealAudio file, Mystery of Tongues, with some examples along with Holy Ghost preaching. Google turns up videos.

You might think, "Sounds like they're just having some fun." In a way you'd be right. They meet together by common consent. Some meetings are more intense than others. It would be downright disappointing at many churches if someone wasn't flopping in the aisle, & there are congregants who can be expected to stand up, get out there & fall down right on time every week if nobody else does. Other places it's a special event, they'll bring in guest preachers who specialize in moving the unmoved, even the children do some moaning & writhing.

As someone who has listened to & enjoyed religious trance music & sound from all around the world, I accept the practice as human. However, in pentecostal protestanism, speaking in tongues accompanies doctrines & theologies I find unsophisticated at the least. The Holy Spirit has plenty of creative means to exert itself, joyfully, poetically, & in community, without resorting to babble. Even the Klingon language that developed out of Star Trek has linguistic substance. Nobody knows what tongues mean unless the speaker provides a translation. I would imagine angel communication is either telepathic or as orderly & expressive as Classical Latin or Greek. Some tongues sound like poor imitations of Latin. Many orthodox Christians of literal minds explain the Pentecost as possibly xenoglossy, a paranormal event during which the Disciples miraculously learned the languages of the countries they would evangelize. Following the Resurrection, this would be a wondrous thing but an almost minor miracle by comparison. Speaking in nonsensical syllables or angelic language would have been no help to them. I prefer to believe it was the moment when they collectively comprehended what they had become in community, because they would have lost heart & faith had they not carried a strength & spirit of community with them as they went their separate ways.

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Sacked Indian Workers Murder CEO

Sacked Indian Workers Murder CEO

The Indian head of an Italian auto parts company has been beaten to death in a suburb of Delhi, allegedly by a group of sacked workers.

Lalit Kishore Choudhary, of Graziano Transmissioni India, died at the company factory in Greater Noida.

Police said more than 100 dismissed workers entered the factory vandalised machinery and attacked Mr Choudhary.

The confrontation came after a long industrial dispute. The workers denied killing Mr Choudhary.

Nearly 300 workers at Graziano Transmissioni were dismissed two months ago after they demanded pay rises and allegedly ransacked its offices, the AFP news agency reported.
There's also labor violence at other factories in India because management will not comply with worker safety demands.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), another industry lobby, said in a statement that "such incidents are bound to sully India's image amongst overseas investors at a time when India is making all-out efforts to make the business environment investment-friendly."
It's one of the costs of industrialization. From what little I understand of India, labor laws are archaic & were designed for nationalized industry but only 6 ot 7% of workers hypothetically protected by the laws are actually unionized. The laws discourage independent union organizing, which was thought to be unecessary in the old socialist planning model. Without union scrutiny, foreign corporations skirt the laws, workers who lose their jobs fall into the underground economy & face abject poverty. Employers take advantage of this fear by exploiting workers in wages & safety. The unions compete with each other for regional political influence rather than organizing for national solidarity. Sheese, it's like India wants to leap directly to the contemporary American model. Eliminate 20,000 unionized jobs, "retrain" workers into lower-paying nonunionized occupations (tech service, retail store slave), then they'll be damned grateful when 2,000 manufacturing jobs are created by foreign companies at 1/2 the wages of unionized jobs. Also downsize nonunion middle management (those trusting & loyal suburban Republicans) & use the savings to create a small number of upper tier executive positions protected by golden parachutes. Could almost make someone wanna kill a CEO.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Da Mets Lose Another

Chicago 9, Mets 5.
2 1/2 behind Phillies in division, 1 ahead of Brewers in wild card.
This is not about a collapse. It's not Jose Reyes going mental & Willie Randolph catatonic, everyone else hoodoo'd except David Wright.
The Mets started a pitcher named Jon Niese (?), he gave up six runs in three innings including a grand slam. Six more Mets pitchers gave up three more runs, not bad actually for the relievers. Mets scored six runs yesterday & the bullpen lost it. The problem isn't in the dugout or the bats or the clubhouse or the zodiac. They can't win with what they ain't got: arms. Yo, Mets, if you get in the division series, you better sweep: Martinez, Santana, Perez, no manana.

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Some Brida

Now I'm at the library. I returned Brida by Paulo Coelho, a 1995 "novel" copyrighted 2008 in this translation. It was on the 14 day shelves & I was the first to check it out. I've never read Coelho. I got 10 pages into the book & didn't like it. Flipped through it & didn't find anything to like. Brida opens in Ireland, involves a vision quest & Celtic magic, & fantasy, & a spiritual teacher in the woods, & Coelho was getting it wrong. Not that his "message" wasn't right.

It's perfectly alright to bullshit in this literary realm, on this particular, partly imaginary Island, but you have to know where you are. You know you're there when you can crawl up into the asshole of a magic horse to trick an ogre who will chop off your head if you can't solve his riddle. You're there when you overhear a conversation between a cow & a fly. You're there when you're stumbling home in the dark from the pub & a door in the far hillside near a well & a grove of trees opens, music & golden light pouring out, then it closes. It's nonsense if you assume it could happen anywhere to anyone, maybe some Brida, no matter where she's from, & that all spiritual paths lead to Universal Truths. We start out seeking what we believe is owed us; treasure, wisdom, unconditional love, an answer to a question. We go stumbling up the road.

It's not my place to approve or disapprove of a writer beloved by Madonna & serving as the UNESCO special counsellor for “Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences”. For the first time at this library branch, returning a book, a librarian asked me, "How did you like it?" I replied, "I didn't read it. Maybe later."


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Yankee Stadium Farewell

Yankees 7, Orioles 3
Very classy night at Yankee Stadium. Babe Ruth's 92-year-old daughter threw the ceremonial first pitch, & she enjoyed it, smiling & waving. Following the game, an Orioles player was on his knees on the mound collecting souvenir dirt.
John Sterling has announced every Yankee radio broadcast since 1989. It was very difficult for him to end his post game show tonight.
Johnny Damon's three-run homer in the third inning was caught by a Mets fan from Trenton at his first & only game at the old Stadium.
Tonight is the final game at Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately the Yankees will miss postseason this year for the first time since 1994, no Subway Series to close out Yankee & Shea Stadiums. Some blame pitching, others say it's underperformance, a few put it on manager Joe Girardi, but it could be punishment by the baseball gods for firing manager Joe Torre - who is taking the Dodgers, a weaker team, to the playoffs.

I wasn't much of a baseball fan as a kid. I was lousy at the game. My brother Jim was a big Yankees fan & a good ballplayer, my mom listened to Yankees games on the radio while she ironed, my dad coached winning Little League teams. We weren't a baseball family, none of the sentimental father-to-sons rituals. But Dad's company, M&T Chemical based in Rahway NJ, had season box seats on the third base side at The Stadium. Dad was sometimes able to get hold of tickets for a day game. They were great seats. So I found myself in old Yankee Stadium looking closeup at these guys who were household names, legends in their own time; Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford. The games didn't hold my interest, but I loved the atmosphere. I became something of a regular baseball fan in the 70's, Yankees by default until a friend convinced me I had a right to choose my own religion & I switched to The Mets. But it was impossible to develop anything stronger than indifference toward the Yanks. I listen to The Yankees on the radio. I like radio baseball. I went to some games at the renovated Yankee Stadium, saw Reggie Jackson hit a homerun ("Reggie Bar" opening day 1978). Saw Dave Winfield, Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry, Chris Chambliss, Gaylord Perry, Graig Nettles, Goose Gossage. I'm grateful that I've seen Yankee Stadium. It's been a long time since I had any desire to pay the inflated ticket prices & make the trip to the Bronx. Yet, the Yankees sell out game after game. You can't go to a Yankee game on impulse anymore, certainly not as a bargain. But sportswriter Moss Klein noted in the Star-Ledger that the Yankees averaged about 20,000 attendance in 1961, the season Maris & Mantle chased Ruth's home run record, with one of the greatest baseball teams ever.

There is no existing sports venue in America even close to Yankee Stadium in legend & significance. Inside, it hardly resembles The House that Ruth Built, but it's basically the same place. It's seen some of the greatest moments in baseball. Most memorable for me is probably the Chris Chambliss first pitch, walk off home run to win the 1976 American League Pennant, a classic TV sports event. Also boxing, football, Popes, & of course, a Billy Joel concert. I met a woman who claimed Pope John Paul II looked directly at her & sent her a telepathic message at Yankee Stadium; she wouldn't tell me the message. The Knute Rockne "win one for the Gipper" speech was at Yankee Stadium, one of many games Notre Dame & Army played there against each other & other teams.

The good news: the new Yankee Stadium is called "Yankee Stadium." & there will still be bleachers, if half as many.

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Highlands NJ

Twin Lights & Shrewsbury River Bridge in 1909.
A favorite place, favorite view.
A telegraph tower on the hill looks like a third light.
Train station on the right.
When I first visited this place there were very few structures on the slope below the lights, it had always been that way in all the old photos in the Twin Lights museum, & it never occurred to me that most of the land wasn't owned by the state, & then condomimums covered the hillside.
click on postcard to enlarge

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Earl Palmer

Great musicians are dying all the time. Usually they're old. The Rix Mix could easily be a music obituary blog. So could a lot of other blogs. We resist. Should I write about Mauricio Kagel? No. I know hardly anything about him. Richard Wright? He'll get as many words as Pink Floyd sold records. Great musicians are born all the time, too. Then there's Earl Palmer, 84, premier New Orleans session drummer in the 50's at Cosimo Matassa's studio. Little Richard, Fats Domino, Lloyd Price. Moved to Hollywood, more work there, played on so many great records & movie soundtracks he couldn't recall them. Didn't try. Sinatra, Righteous Brothers, Jan & Dean, Beach Boys, Ike & Tina, Ricky Nelson, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, The Monkees, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello. The trifecta of classic Warner Brothers private eye TV show soundtracks: 77 Sunset Strip, Hawaiian Eye, Bourbon Street Beat. Played on plenty of bad records. Local 47 of the American Federation of Musicians. Look up drummer Hal Blaine you get pages of discography, gold records. Hal needs to tell us he's a legend. We know, we know. Earl gigged & went home. Maybe something to do with coming from New Orleans. Something to go home to, like a good supper. Nothing to prove. Working regular is proof. Earl, I hope your heaven is everything you loved about The Big Easy.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Sarah Palin C List Celebrity

We know now that Sarah Palin is an A List celebrity with the Repug base and a B or C List celebrity with everyone else. She has good public speaking skills learned for a possible TV career, but take away the VP thing & she's no more interesting than Michelle Obama & Jill Biden, & in some respects not even as accomplished as those two women, with no advantages as a working mother & definite disadvantages in her education. It's altogether probable that Jill Biden knows more about just about everything than Sarah Palin, & what she doesn't know she could learn quickly. Even moose stew. If Sarah Palin is qualified to be president, so is Jill Biden.

Rachel Maddow made a case that Palin is nasty & dishonest enough to qualify as the next Dick Cheney, but I wasn't convinced. Cheney is an evil man of long government experience & extraordinary deviousness. You can't train Palin to replace him in a matter of months. Palin hasn't demonstrated that she has the skills to manipulate a president behind the scenes, destroy reputations, while insulating herself from accountability. Whether or not it is possible to learn these skills as the governor of Alaska, I don't know. Certainly not in less than two years on the job. She has no proven successes yet. For a start, she has to get off-the-hook on Troopergate.

So Sarah will continue to draw the adoring crowds at partisan events, & others will have a look at her out of curiosity. Perhaps the quasi-libertarians will wake up & realize she isn't Barry Goldwater with a vagina, she's a nutty pentecostalist who believes in demon possession. Conservative is inadequate to describe her. Staid Southern Baptist women who wouldn't dream of speaking in tongues are more tolerant & understanding of gay men just from regular contact with their local hairdressers, not to mention having better taste in gospel music, most of the Bible committed to memory, & an attitude that sin is sin & Satan more likely to manifest himself through a bottle of whiskey than via any supernatural forces.

When Jill Biden comes to town campaigning, quietly, meeting with smaller groups, women will immediately recognize her as the rock she is; a mother, grandmother, homemaker, teacher; a "Christian woman" if that's important. We have to compare Sarah with Joe. & it's no contest - Sarah wins on looks, Joe on experience, & they both enjoy the spotlight. But if Sarah is also running on her credentials as a "family values" mom, then she's running against Jill Biden, & comparisons are appropriate.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blogger is behaving strangely

This post isn't showing on my list, although the atom feed sees it. Yesterday, edits were appearing in the published blog but reverting to the previous version when I opened the edit window. An entire paragraph kept disappearing. With good reason hardly anyone using blogger wants to give advice on these kinds of glitches, because they've had them also, & you don't want to suggest anything that might be irreversible,
Dear Pastordan:

The Brewers are struggling, but they never had a real chance against Lou Pinella's Cubs, & they're in the Wild Card race. The Badgers are ranked 8, Packers 2-0, I'd call that a pretty good Sept. in Wisconsin.

A lovely day. I walked to the clinic, needed the doctor to fill out a form for another matter, & it is not a lovely walk. Along the way I found a perfectly fine Star-Ledger on top of a garbage can, brought it to read in case I had a long wait. Also had a novel in my backpack. The wait was reasonable & the doctor was familiar with the form. Stopped by main library on way back, picked up a couple more novels. I'd like to get into the history section there. Not today.

Discovered why I walked straight into a telephone pole Friday night in a place I'd walked hundreds of times at all hours in all weather. Although the pole is set back several feet from the curb, there had been no sidewalk around the base, it was sticking out of a large, square section of dirt, so even if you were looking down while walking, you'd go around it. But within the past month the city installed a new curb, fancy brickwork next to the curb, & an entire block of brand new concrete sidewalk, & now the pole is literally in the middle of the sidewalk. When I walked into it I was on automatic pilot, & there never had been a pole sticking out of the sidewalk at that point, because for me the sidewalk didn't run into the pole, until I painfully learned on Friday night that now it did. But it is a reminder to be attentive.

I sidetracked into South Amboy once, driving up Route 35 late one afternoon, staying in the right hand lane as I day-dreamed, the through lane became a gradual exit lane & I drove over a mile before I realized I wasn't on Route 35 anymore, & the surroundings were totally unfamiliar, I didn't know where the hell I was exactly. So I just kept going until I recognized a gin mill I'd been in once to hear a band, & from there I basically followed a trail of local dives where I'd heard bands to get to a road I knew would take me out of South Amboy.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Close Call

Around 7:30 I was about to cross 1st Ave. at the intersection of Elmora Ave., Just after sunset, the worst time of day for seeing. This is a busy, unpredictable intersection, a fast through street meeting a three block retail district, drivers have a variety of destinations & goals, you pause at the curb even when you have the green & the white pedestrian figure. I noticed a maroon car was coming on & appeared determined to make the left in front of me, had the vibe. Then I saw a boy, about ten, pedaling his little bike across the street, with the light, in the crosswalk, the maroon car was turning & not stopping. I yelled, "Whoa!" as the car bumped into the rear tire of the bike. It tipped him over but it was a nudge rather than a hit & I knew immediately he was unhurt. I asked if he was alright & said bring the bike over & make sure it's o.k.

The car pulled over & out stepped a thirtyish woman wearing maroon scrubs - guess she likes maroon. She asked the boy if he was alright. She had the solicitous voice & demeanor of an underpaid opthamologist's assistant ("Lean back, I'm going to put these drops in your eyes now, don't blink.") She walked to the front of her car, examined the bumper then came back & began lecturing the kid he should be more careful. Of course, he should be more careful, but he's a freakin' kid, & he's a bit frightened, & he was doing the right thing crossing with the green in a legal way, & he was fine & I think his bike was undamaged. A close call, that's all. I listened to her for a few seconds & said, "You should be more careful." She said, "Me? I was careful." Like the doctor told her to just dilate the patient's left eye & she forgot & dosed both. I wanted to get to the library. I said, "Lady, if that kid had been hurt, I would've hung you. Learn the lesson. He will." She looked astonished, & indignant, too. She probably got back in the car, called her boyfriend, & whined all the way home, driving with one hand on the wheel.
Later, I'm trying to read a newspaper in Dunkin' Donuts, choosing my selections for the New Jersey Hall of Fame, I have Paul Robeson, Larry Doby, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, William Carlos Williams, Count Basie, & Abbott (Asbury Park) & Costello (Paterson), & wishing the more culturally significant & likable novelist Mickey "Mike Hammer" Spillane was nominated instead of F. Scott Fitzgerald, & Rutgers grad Ozzie Nelson instead of Rutgers grad economist Milton Friedman. The TV there is permanently tuned to Fox, why I don't know, it used to be CNN. I can't enjoy myself, O'Biley is on, I can't see him but I hear him, he has Dennis Miller commenting. In O'Biley's presence Miller takes on all the qualities of a nasty little Irish fascist with an irritating nasal voice that could saw sheet metal & who never expresses any of his heartless opinions in the bar until he's sure there's nobody bigger around to twist his ugly head off.
Note to the clueless full time male cashier at Pathmark: You had it coming when head cashier Maxine relieved you & said, "The line shouldn't be backed up like this." That young woman two customers in front of me had three WIC vouchers, one dozen cans of Similac formula, two large jars of Gerber apple juice, & two identical boxes of Gerber cereal. You don't have to be Einstein. If you're in UFCW Local 1262 , you should get on your knees every night & thank the Lord you're not selling popcorn from a cart at Walmart.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You can eat me but don't bite me

Jeri Smith-Ready: Wicked Game (2008)

The short blurb for this book enticed me to click through an ad on someone's blog. That's how I read a humorous vampire novel in the vampire/goth, "urban fantasy" sub genre of the women's romance novel genre; If that's what Wicked Game is. The novel appears to be targeted at women in their late-teens to-late 20's with broad tastes in party music. I can ask a friend at Romantic Times for an explanation, but why bother? Unlike the romance market, the female P.I. books I consume have large male & female readerships & very little sex even when the protagonists have current intimate relationships.

The premise that grabbed me: A young woman, Ciara Griffin - a con artist trying to go straight, takes a job at a struggling radio station in a Maryland college town. Although the station reaches D.C. & Baltimore, it is small market, & the owner plans on selling it to a notorious media conglomerate unless the ad revenues are increased, & quickly. During the day, the station programs syndicated talk radio crap. But from 9 pm to 6 am it offers superb, authentic genre music by its house DJs: blues, Fifties, reggae, Sixties, goth, grunge/punk. The reason those DJs are so good is because they're all vampires, frozen in the musical eras they inhabited at the time they became vampires.

The vampires are also psychologically stunted, unable to grow culturally or intellectually, slowly becoming ever more distant from the real world; this is what ultimately undermines a vampire's desire to go on existing. These DJ vampires reside in the basement of the station building, have routine, unexciting lives, feeding themselves through an underground network of humans who get an erotic thrill having their blood sucked every two or three weeks. The station's owner, an independent middle-age woman, is also a vampire, & perhaps the most complex & intriguing character in the book. She would be worth a book of her own, but alas, she meets a tragic end.

That's enough for me; lots of plot challenges. Add a romance with the grunge DJ , the youngest in real years, who fits the mold of a handsome, troubled, slightly bad boy studmuffin/hero. Smith-Ready goes way beyond that, to a commune - a nest really - of conservative bloodsuckers preferring invisibility & stirred to violent opposition by our station intern's success at promoting her DJs as vampires - knowing listeners will believe it's just a marketing ploy, convincing the DJs to do outside gigs (only at night, of course), & making the station profitable. There's also the return of her dad, a grifter recently released from prison; & a quasi-governmental agency charged with keeping track of America's vampire population &, if necessary, killing the rogues. It's all very silly stuff, although the vampire commune is well described & chilling; they keep a herd of humans who supply blood in exchange for having all their basic needs satisfied. It is made clear that some of these humans had terrible lives before they found the vampires, so the lifestyle is an improvement, but one they aren't free to leave. It's a kind of cult faith-based charity. There are a few interesting conceptual tweaks of vampire personality, needs, & physiology, particularly the graphic descriptions of what occurs when a vampire is staked or decapitated; think black hole. The supernatural, superpower qualities are still there, but played down. Ciara is educated, creative, self-assuredly hip, not fearless, but her background gives her an advantage, & she takes deserved revenge on another woman, using her as a pawn in an elaborate con.

Except for some blood-sucking encounters straddling PG-13 & R, there's only two major sex scenes in the book, of which the first is by far the best. Ciara, her judgment clouded by horniness, beds hunky Shane, the grunge DJ. He's going down on her & she' s having a splendid time when Shane finds the inside of her thigh even more irresistible than the parts he's tickling, & bites her. Of course, Ciara reacts angrily, kicking him away, not realizing his fangs are curved, & gets so torn up she needs stitches. If she'd stayed still while he retracted his vampire teeth, she'd only have suffered small punctures that would've healed quickly. But he was a bad lover. This sets their budding relationship back a bit, since she's in pain for several subsequent chapters. By the end, he's learned some boudoir manners. What are Ciara's long term prospects for love with vampire? Most likely she'll become bored with him.

Smith-Ready is building a niche marketing scheme around Wicked Game, turning it into a series, not her first series or scheme. She's a smart popular novelist. Although I'll never be a fan of her books, I appreciate her savvy management, unobjectionable tastes in music, offbeat humor, & good looks. You need humor to do vampire, it need not be campy. Anne Rice is tediously unfunny.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Hail Sarah, our sweetness and our hope!

Oh, & did I say I think McCain's choice of Palin is fucking brilliant? So far. Brilliant like a Hail Mary pass from the enemy's end zone that's caught way down field & the receiver is zig zagging toward the goal line & about the only hope the opposition has is that the receiver will trip.

This is the most astonishing campaign I've ever seen. I believe it is the last gasp of presidential free elections in America & we could blow it. I've believed since December 2000 that we were two national elections away from that point, & that was before 9/11. I think the next administration, using "election security" as a primary rationale, could game the system in ways that can never be repaired. That's how frightened I am by the prospect of Palin/McCain. Why? Because Americans are willing to toss away any rights we don't personally need or use. As somebody said, "You don't understand liberties until you try to take a few." & liberty for most Americans can be distilled to a few rights, the most important being the right to consume resources; essentially a right to shop & a right to be entertained. The economy? It'll get better, it just goes in cycles. Iraq? We'll win there eventually, hardly any Americans are killed now. Reproductive rights? Nobody has a problem getting condoms & birth control pills. Free speech? If you really love America, you never say anything bad about her & have no reason to worry about what you do say. Gay rights? I don't care what they do in private. Congress? Doesn't do squat, let the president decide that stuff - as long my rep brings home some pork. Education? We have to stop other nations from educatin' their kids better than we educate our kids. Religion? What's the big deal? You're either a Christian or a Jew. Just choose one & shut up. No law says you have to go to church.

McCain represents the financial & military corporate interests, Palin the big energy & conservative Christian interests, & there you have the team & the tent. Wrap loosely in a mild "reform" or "maverick" package - The same but different, Buddhists say - give frustrated white folks a number of excuses not to vote for the black man with the strange name - because a lot of white folks just don't want to vote for a black man with a strange name even if what he says makes sense & he sounds mostly like he plans on doing the right thing.

An established empire doesn't have to produce or compete. An empire has to threaten, conquer, exploit, & demand tribute. Citizens must be placated before they become mobs. Give us cheap grain & the occasional victory parade & let us play in our backyards with our tech toys, barbecue grills, & little doggies, & Caesar can dress the "Republic" anyway he wants. We won't care about the legions "guarding" the polling places.

Tell me why it couldn't happen.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Somers Point NJ

Wonder Ship Bar & Cocktail Lounge at Stretch Inn, Somers Point NJ.

There were evenings when the bars & juke joints on Bay Ave. could be heard across the bay in Ocean City, advertising the amusements that dry island didn't offer vacationers. The rest of Somers Point was quiet, with modest houses & bungalows; grass struggling to grow in a sandy soil that favored blueberries, corn, & poison ivy; crushed quartz in the concrete streets glistening under the streetlights; a sweaty, malarial nighttime climate; clouds of mosquitoes emerging from the marshes at dusk. I loved it.

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Category Two

Nothing much can be done with the fools who are told to evacuate before a hurricane, have the time & means to evacuate, & do not evacuate. But what if they do not send their children to safety? I've seen these people on news reports after Gustav & today. Maybe they should be charged with endangering the welfare of child. A DUI with a child in the car gets that charge added on. Stupid & selfish, & they - they're always men, maybe the women are shamed - have the audacity to recount the nightmare for the news cameras. The footage ought to end with cops snapping handcuffs on these guys as they protest, "Hey, what did I do?"
The sea coast damage was not unexpected, & was too familiar. The destruction around Houston was shocking. This should dispel any misconceptions people might have about hurricane strength categories & the relative dangers they pose. Hurricane Ike was Category Two. Imagine a Cat One pushing a ten or fifteen foot surge into Jersey's shallow bays & narrow estuaries behind a high tide that cannot drain because of the surge, along with 80 mph winds & torrential rains. Hurricane Isabelle was a Cat Two when it slammed into the Outer Banks in Sept. 2003, but the most widespread damage was in Virginia, & extended up the tidal rivers including the Potomac, & sent floods roaring down from inland mountains. It's s scary to think how a slight deviation at sea could have driven Isabelle up Delaware Bay with the worst section of the storm wrecking the Jersey shore from Cape May to Barnegat Bay.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Drill Baby Drill with Sarah

Scene: Governor's office, Juneau. Picture window of snowy mountains. Desk. Phone.
Sarah Palin wearing a camouflage outfit, out-sized rimless glasses, Marge Simpson hair, bright red heels. She's standing by desk holding a military assault rifle in one hand, phone in other:

Sarah: "Gotta run, Arnold. Let's get together soon & discuss the Inauguration BALL." Hangs up. Polar bear appears at window. Sarah shoots at it. Presses intercom button:
Sarah: "Bristol?"
Bristol voice : "Yeah mom?"
Sarah: "I just saw another freakin' white thing. Endangered, my ass. & try to reach that guy Rove again, I'm ready to speak boobly babbly here, they're asking all kinds of stupid questions now. Bush doctrine. Moose stew. Legal marijuana. "
Bristol voice: "Yeah, mom."

Sarah paces, muttering: "Juneau, Phoenix, Little Rock, Sacramento. No, Montgomery, Juneau, Phoenix....."

Wriggling salmon appears at window. Sarah shoots at it.
Sarah: "Mindless sex, that's all those fish want. They're like teenagers."
Sarah paces back & forth. Goes to to intercom.
Sarah: "Bristol?"
Bristol voice: "Yeah, mom."
Sarah: "You all alone?"
Bristol voice: "Yeah, mom."

Door opens, man enters wearing coonskin cap, enormous rubber boots. He is unshaven & filthy from head to toe, smeared with crude oil, a bloody fur draped over his shoulder, which he throws at Sarah's feet. A cameraman follows him through the door.

Sarah: "Whoa, careful with the Lower 48 shoes, my handsome carnivore. Are we filming your Alaskan reality show or mine? Oh, it doesn't matter."

Band plays.

Todd sings: "Lay Lady Lay, Lay across my big brass bed. Stay Lady Stay.."
Sarah, frozen & staring at him, interrupts: "You had got me on lay big fella." '
She backs toward desk & drops rifle as she lays down.
Sarah (to camera): "My friends, anyone peekin' in that window just gonna see
my hands holdin' my ankles & a pair
of red heels wavin' in the free
& glorious State of Alaska where
more than 80% of the revenue action
is derived from petroleum extraction."
Todd ambles toward desk, reaching to open the desk drawer.
Sarah: " Hey, Hemingway, no environmental protection, just drill, baby, drill."
Bristol intercom voice: "Yeah, mom?"

Fade out to instrumental version of "Lay Lady Lady. "

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Hurricane Ike

The eye of this great storm tightened as it approached the Texas coast & it appeared to be intensifying. But the tidal surge was already pushing in ahead of it.


Friday, September 12, 2008

The Sarah Palin Wig from Wigsalon: To get the Sarah Palin look, simply bobby pin back the upper layers of this high quality Raquel Welch "Valentine" wig style, which is truly beautiful in it's own right, and let the longer layers fall freely.

I was walking home from the train station about 10:30. Not enough drizzle to use the umbrella, so i was hunched in a little, in no hurry. After the couple of busy Colombian cafe & beauty parlor blocks, it gets kind of dark. I was thinking & not looking straight ahead, & I must have been distracted by something, maybe the Burger King across the street, & WHAM walked directlly into a telephone pole that sticks out of the middle of the sidewalk just before the corner where I turn toward my place. I gotta tell you it rattled my brains. As I took stock of the situation I realized I wasn't seeing stars, my forehead didn't hurt, maybe a slight scratch. But within a minute my shoulders & neck began to ache, they took the brunt of it. I came home, gobbled two aspirin, I feel alright.

Plunk your magic twanger, Johnny

I won't post a photo of John McCain for comparison because this connection was on such an unconscious, childhood level that it took a long time for me to get hold of it. Omigosh, he's Froggy! Just let it happen. Older readers know.

To see him in action, here's a 13 second clip. .

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Waving the Bloody Shirt

Channel surfing last weekend, I came upon some 9/11 documentaries & quickly moved on. We commemorate 9/11 in the New York area, quietly for the most part, but I don't think we like to revisit it. That day was local news, & local news for long afterward. Everyone here knows at least one person who knew someone who died, & everyone here knows someone who worked in or near the twin towers. It was personal. For weeks, local nightly news broadcasts had firefighter funerals, for months newspapers listed the names of the confirmed dead. Was anyone not traumatized? I thought I wasn't, until I realized low flying jets made me anxious. About a year passed before that reaction faded away. Afterward, we had a very real underlying anxiety about mass transit & suicide bombers, which the federal government encouraged in order to keep Bush in power. Many of us thought the steps taken to "secure" trains & subways were futile, as if the evil loonies were too stupid to find the exposed ports, railyards, & chemical storage tanks, or step on a train at a suburban station, or blow themselves up inside a shopping mall. A total police state couldn't prevent those. Just as cell phone cameras were becoming common, we were expected to refrain from taking photos of public spaces & buildings. It was getting screwy.

This year, we saw a kind of madness in Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. If this were the decades after the Civil War, we would've said Rudy was "waving the bloody shirt," a phrase I wish we could bring back & apply to any politician who, like Giuliani, climbs on the "True American Hero" pedestal. Some heroes win elections, some do not, most - if they survive their heroic acts - do not run for office at all. In the New York area, no politician since 9/11 has unseated another by waving it. 9/11 seems to have a different political significance away from New York City.


Barack with Letterman

Dave gave Obama a full 1/2 hour. LeBron James nearly bumped. LeBron said he didn't mind. He was probably hanging with Barack afterwards, they're tight. Barack was presidential in a relaxed way, serious, humorous, hit his points, cautious but got one zinger on the Lipstick on Pig "controversy." Rational answer to VP question, that he'd have no reason to pick someone other than Joe Biden because of Sarah Palin. A great image came into my mind about that, some international crisis or complex domestic problem, Barack consults in the Oval Office with Joe Biden, who's seen it all (& can say, concerning many matters, that he's seen worse). McCain brings in who? Joe Lieberman, not the VP. Barack reminded me of John Kennedy on Jack Paar's old Tonight Show in 1960, which must have been revelatory at the time, a man who would be president so comfortable in front of TV cameras & a studio audience. Kennedy also stayed with his talking points, but made the scripts sound unscripted. For all the reliance upon TV presidential candidates have, we've had only three since Kennedy as comfortable with the medium as he was: Reagan, Clinton, & Obama. Four since the beginning of the television era.

Craig Ferguson is a new citizen. He still thinks Americans are smarter than our news media. America calling Craig: Look at the guys at the top of the ratings. We put them there. But he has a point when he says that if politicians' personal families are "off limits," then stop parading them around stages & having them profiled in magazines.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Supermarkets hate empty shelves, so when advertised items are sold out they routinely fill the space with similar full price items, leaving the sale signs. It's an especially effective practice for the frozen food section, where windows are fogged & frosted, shelf tags difficult to read, & nobody likes holding the fridge door open & sticking an arm inside for any length of time. A customer might be in a hurry & thinking ahead to the strawberry-banana yogurt & half & half in the next aisle & tryng to remember to pick up a heavy jar of tomato juice on the way to checkout. Which is how I bought the two packages of Bird's Eye Premium Select Brussels Sprouts at twice the price of Pictsweet sale brand. It was only a couple of bucks, & they are swell frozen veggies, but I was annoyed at myself.
Ordering a piece of classical music I already have. Except for a few major works by favorite composers, I try to avoid this. & I don't even care for the composer, Richard Strauss. Everyone knows his fanfare from "Also sprach Zarathustra" used in the movie 2001, & would recognize the cartoony motif from "Til Eulenspiegel." Those tunes are from tone poems. I don't like the idea of tone poems that tell "stories." I can imagine my own stories, thank you. When I want stories I listen to country music & blues. I've always enjoyed "Death & Transfiguration," a tone poem by Strauss from 1889. Forget the 'story" of some German guy on his deathbed remembering his life & expiring slowly at the end - "transfiguring" - & the piece sounds like first rate movie music from the 1950's. I have a so-so version that was sufficient for a long time. Last night, listening to it through earphones, I thought, this is played too slowly, there's important instrumental parts in the large orchestra I can't hear, I appreciate this music, it gives me pleasure, the only thing by Strauss that does, why don't I have a really good recording? Some of best ones are under $8.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Presidential Religion

Of the four major party candidates, only one has a "denomination." Joe Biden is Roman Catholic. Barack Obama doesn't have a congregational membership, so he isn't in the United Church of Christ, which doesn't have doctrinal tests anyway. John McCain no longer wants us to think of him as an Episcopalian, but until he's baptized by immersion, he won't be accepted as a full member of his Baptist church. Sarah Palin identifies herself simply as "Christian." She prefers Assembly of God churches but doesn't consider herself pentecostal - which isn't by itself a denomination.

Biden & Obama are both by confession of faith well within the traditional consensus of Christian orthodoxy. McCain & Palin espouse broad conservative religious beliefs & values only a few of which are requirements of trinitarian orthodoxy, the remainder are interpretive, especially any expressed or implied belief equating the United States with Zion, The Promised Land, The Chosen People, or the Kingdom of God now or in the future. Those are all beliefs unknown to the Second Council of Nicaea long ago, & held - too commonly - only in this country.

The Southern Baptist Convention is far from the only measure of being a Baptist. Pentecostal expressions are varied & pentecostalists, like Baptists, can be stubbornly independent, just as they were when they set up a tent at the edge of town. The Roman Catholic Church is very much in flux, contrary to the impression the bishops try to give. If there are ever 80 million Catholics in America & only 1000 priests to serve them, all the priests will be bishops & Catholics will serve themselves.

& that's our religious lesson for today.

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Negro President

Garry Wills: Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Power. Houghton Mifflin (November 1, 2003)

If one greatly admires Thomas Jefferson, one might as well learn about the "bad" Jefferson from another admirer, Garry Wills.

The bad Jefferson here isn't the Virginian gentleman owning & selling & having sex with slaves. Reprehensible & selfish as those were, they were TJ's private hypocrasies for the most part, they didn't change the course of the new nation.

This book is about the 3/5ths Clause of the Constitution, how a slave - nonvoting "property" - equalling 3/5ths of a white man by census skewed the Electoral College, the House of Representives, & American politics & policies toward the slave states until the Civil War removed it. It's about Jefferson being elected president in 1800 with electoral votes supplied by the clause, by the power of the 3/5ths of a human "negro," using it, abusing it, promoting the interests of the slave states & Virginia's slave traders, seeking to extend slavery through the Louisiana Purchase, & becoming the reactionary he claimed to despise, suppressing free speech & calling political dissent "treason." Slavery enslaved Jefferson. His much-desired "Agrarian Republic" was a vision of slave owners with human chattel working their farms, men who wouldn't get their own hands dirty & instead built a mansion culture of Walter Scott fantasy chivalry, ridiculous mannerisms, & bad poetry. Wills examines Jefferson & his successors mostly through the actions of his dogged opponents: Timothy Pickering, John Quincy Adams, & others. He shows how Jefferson led to creeps like John Calhoun, & bizarre alliances with northerners. It's a dry book, unfocused in ways, not a whole lot of action.

Learning about Lincoln as a skilled politician ultimately enhances Lincoln, because one feels Lincoln's moral agenda weighing upon him even when he's admitting he'd save the Union rather than free the slaves. Lincoln believes with all his heart & mind that slavery is an abomination, & although he knows he may be required to preserve it, he will do nothing to nurture it. Thomas Jefferson was an old man before he lost any sleep over his personal responsibility for the evil that threatened to destroy the nation he was so instrumental in creating, when he finally heard the "fire bell in the night" that awakened him & filled him terror. How different America might have been had he heard & heeded that bell while he was president, applying his great intellect & imagination to undermining the perverted power & practices of his own class & allies.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Our Chris Smith

Like you, I am very concerned that many of our schools and universities have lost their way, having become bastions of moral relativism and moral compromise with the culture of death. Too many university presidents, administrators, professors and deans, including those at faith-based institutions of higher learning, often care more about their football team scores and their basketball team records or being progressive, than advancing the culture of life. It’s appalling, it’s a cause for sorrow and it has to change. Our schools need to become oases of goodness, sound moral teaching and, they must become agents of change in the culture. Our students must find the God of the Bible and Biblical values in the classroom, on the campus.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Yes, Jerseyans, that's our Chris Smith. Is be suggesting that we turn public schools & colleges into sectarian schools & colleges? Or is this devoutly conservative Catholic saying that Notre Dame is too nuts about football & Georgetown excessively gaga over basketball? A little late for that. Anyway, we have Catholic colleges in Jersey with awful basketball programs. What is meaning of progressive in this context? Is Rutgers promoting a culture of death? May feel like one by December, at least at a part of the school in Piscataway. Princeton? Don't they still wear straw boater hats there? Chris graduated from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey) in 1975, so maybe he feels deprived of a collegiate experience at a faith-based institution.

Does Chris Smith speechify like this when he's campaigning in his home district? Or does he mainly remind everyone of his constituent services? It's difficult to sell moral relativism as a serious issue here, unless it's about politicians hiring immoral relatives for no-show jobs. If Smith wants a debate over moral compromise, I hope his opponent, Josh Zeitz, accepts the challenge. Then they can discuss what is really "appalling," a "cause for sorrow" & "has to change." It's the "Biblical values" Chris Smith has supported in the White House for 8 years.


Serena Williams

Serena Williams beat Jelena Jankovic, 6-5, 7-5. A straight set win & I'm still surprised they had the strength to hold the trophies over their heads. I'm always surprised. I think tennis is most intense, physically punishing sport. The psychological demands are tremendous. We watched Serena refuse to surrender to a third set, stand her ground, fight back, then slowly establish an ever so slight mental advantage over Jelena, making an opponent who had had the advantage feel the exhaustion & pain, too. But it has be be part of an athletic attack. & it can go on for hours & hours. A tennis player knows immediately the difference between a physical impossibility & a mental mistake. Only a pitcher in baseball is so naked. When a pitcher throws a best pitch at a great hitter & it's hit safely, a good pitcher shakes it off. But a mistake can unravel even a good pitcher. A good defense behind a pitcher can compensate for a mistake. But the tennis player must provide her own defense. That's a tough game.

Thinking about this because I had a klutzy day, & there on TV was an exhibition of unklutzy beauty. My day started off splashing half & half on the floor, a couple of tablespoons while coffee was brewing & the plastic cup went off the table & bounced just such a way to splatter it four feet. Would've been nothing if the cup had simply tipped.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cape May NJ

Trade Winds Shop, Cape May NJ
"Unusual Things From Many Lands"

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Saturday, September 06, 2008


There once was a lady Alaskin
who on the Repug stage was baskin'.
"Here's my salmon & mooses,
my guns & papooses,
a qualified mom multi-taskin'."

A CNN viewer commented that Sarah Palin is like the dancing baby commercial.
See it once, maybe twice, it was either amusing or, as I found it, freakish. Then they kept running it. Sarah Palin is boring. She has an irritating voice, silly hair, beliefs & avocations I try to ignore. Although I'd love to take the popular boat trip up the Alaska coast, & have a mild curiosity to see Iceland, I have little interest in cold climes. I like soft-peaked green mountains with wide farm valleys, the Shenandoah & parts of northwest New Jersey. I look at Palin & wonder how she avoided having ten children & I don't want to learn the answer. She's surrounded with dangerous beauty in Alaska & yet there's no poetry in her. She may be grace-filled in a protestant sense, but she isn't graceful. Or gracious. She's a person I have no desire to know or know about. She's not sexy; that's a rebuttal to the Tina Fey comparisons & to those who can't imagine pillow talk so entertaining it makes you want to do it again. My reaction to Palin is basically, "You don't belong down here in the Lower 48, or Hawaii. You're a fringe character, & that's fine, there's all sorts of cable shows we can watch about you. Go home."

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11 pm: My sneakers had a washing. I was doing alright with an umbrella, damp - not drenched, when I realized I'd have to get my feet soaked crossing the street. Some kids were running around in the rain over on Gina's block..
We've had beautiful later summer weather here, great if you have a place at the shore or work outside. But it hasn't been "interesting" weather. Now there's a tropical storm coming up the coast. We just had what I suppose were some rainy outer bands. Hanna is still hundreds of miles south. I don't know if she'll kick up really large waves - probably more a washing machine ocean. The path is forecast to cross into Jersey from Delaware Bay & then back out to sea. It's raining hard in central VA & on down into North Carolina. I guess we'll just have a showery, windy, warm, humid Saturday. Gina, in Asbury Park with her boyfriend, says I should skip feeding her cats if it's too stormy. How stormy would that be? Her place is three blocks away. If Hanna was a full-fledged Category 2 hurricane & the local fire dept & every hysterical weather forecaster on TV told everyone to stay inside, I'd use those cats as an excuse to go outside.

Checking out wave heights at the NOAA buoy data center, I learned that a freighter collision last November finished off Ambrose Light Tower at the entrance to New York Harbor, it's been decommissioned & will be torn down & not replaced. So ends the long & noble history of Ambrose Channel lightships & towers. That weather station is gone, too. The large Sandy Hook Pilot Association ship - a floating rest station & hotel - will remain in the area.

It seems like an unusual number of buoys are adrift off their moorings this year - including Station 44004 east of Cape May, & some turned off for lack of funding. I can't help but think it's due to federal maintenance cutbacks, & wonder if it's creating a hazard for smaller boat mariners who rely on the local buoy readings of water & wind conditions. Maybe these types of buoys are becoming obsolete; expensive toys for people like me to use for internet voyaging.


Friday, September 05, 2008

It's amusing that every act & statement by the Repug nominees is examined & judged. Convention week is the time to do it. But 95% are distractions & of minor significance; bloggers targeting their personal peeves like Alaska's "Christian Heritage Week" - which has precedent in the multitude of special interest proclamations issued at all levels of government all the time. Just pay attention to the first 15 minutes of town council meetings & note the occasions when half the audience leaves before the important business begins. The White Protestant Ruling Minority becomes envious when anyone else's "heritage" is honored. We don't give much thought to this in New Jersey, where not so long ago the primary political power struggle was between urban Irish-Catholics & wealthy Anglos of no strong religious views from colonial era families.

There are important issues in this campaign & it would be wise for Democrats to stick to them. Palin does have experience as a star high school basketball player, beauty pageant contestant, TV sports reporter, & small town politician. She's ambitious, comfortable in the spotlight, not accustomed to losing. The general impression I have of her is that she wears the pants in a large family where the husband is frequently absent: Her matriarchal power is implied rather openly acknowledged. Sorry, Todd, but like that kid Levi, you're mainly for stud service. Playing "Barracuda" by Heart is a real headscratcher given the song's murky lyrics. They'd be wise to drop it lest people become fixated on "You lying so low in the weeds /I bet you gonna ambush me / You'd have me down on my knees /Now wouldn't you, Barracuda?" Both Palin & Biden are loose talkers, could be some fun moments over the bext two months. But they're only the VP candidates. They may yet trip themselves, but I doubt they can be tripped.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

baby ev'rything is alright, uptight, out of sight

No reason not to smile.

Thanks to Muzikal & MaryScott

The White Goddess

It is pathetic that what gets the Repug base fired up is a hope that their presidential nominee is elected & then kicks the bucket so that the truly sanctified agent of the almighty on the ticket, a Sarah Palin, ascends to the office.

This is actually blind White Goddess* devotion by the most goddess deprived religious demographic in America, conservative Calvinist protestants. Their natural hunger to fill their tremendous spiritual vacancy is both touching & frightening, & should have been predictable. They were ready to defend their goddess & die for ther before they even knew who she was, so deep their desire, so great their relief. Perhaps McCain, who views his entire life as that of a willful, rebellious warrior-leader out of Greek myth, was unconsciously in need of a goddess protector, & intuitively moved to find one.

Her first appearance over the weekend was in her fertility/birth manifestation, which was conveniently deflected on to the minor daughter goddess with the swelliing belly; distasteful for this crowd to dwell upon the implications & images. She had no time to demonstrate her love manifestation, & politically risky to do so, but had to move directly to her death manifestation, in her speech to devotees incapable of comprehending a complete goddess of seamless spiritual fabric. The dilemma arises when the cyclical meaning of the White Goddess is wrenched into the linear-historical mode, a dimension that destroys her, with death becoming disconnected from fertility/birth & the cycle broken.

To speak of these matters to these people, of wholeness, of the beauty of eternal return, requires that one become apostate. Culturally, they have nothing but deep & troubling Appalachian songs they no longer acknowledge or understand, wonderful poems in which they dream of defying gravity, yet the men in them praise goddesses as they murder mortal women, then grovel in the ground, comparing themselves to moles.

*Book by poet Robert Graves proposing a lost prototypical supreme goddess predating the various god pantheons that have come to us from historical antiquity, particularly those of northern Europe. Reading it won't hurt your poetry. Might inspire peculiar political commentary.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Troubling statistics

Fewer N.J. women receiving prenatal care

The number of women receiving early prenatal care in New Jersey has declined slightly during the last decade, largely because many do not have regular access to doctors or cannot afford to pay medical bills, according to a report released today.

The Prenatal Care Task Force report, released by State Health Commissioner Heather Howard, found teens, minorities and unmarried mothers are at higher risk of poor birth outcomes, including low birth-weight babies. Yet they remain less likely to receive early prenatal care, according to the report.

Uninsured mothers in New Jersey had the lowest rate of trimester prenatal care - 73 percent - while women with private insurance had the highest rate - 96 percent - across all racial and ethnic groups.

The overall average for prenatal care in New Jersey was 89 percent, according to the report, based on birth and infant death certificate data from 1990 to 2004.
These are troubling statistics. Successful early prenatal care programs would show a continuous steady rise. We can guess at a few of the causes. One would be that poor women & teenagers wait longer before confirming a pregnancy, from denial or any number of reasons. Another would be the fear many undocumented women have of entering the public health care system & calling attention to themselves. Prenatal deportation? Sounds cruel, but it's happened. It could be up there on the right wing agenda along with overturning Roe v. Wade & ordering teenagers to stop having sex or else suffer the consequences. Let's call it the Sarah Palin Agenda until we hear otherwise.

These numbers are discouraging, but they they don't have to stay that way. The expansion of SCHIP to all uninsured children & a greater attention to child health in schools will bring many more families into contact with regular health care, & those families will become accustomed to using the resources & more likely to urge others to do the same. For those families, we need more family care clinics conveniently located in the neighborhoods where they are needed, not two bus rides away on the other side of the city, phasing out hospital emergency rooms as primary care providers.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Enquiring Minds


Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin attempted to quietly have her daughter Bristol get married before news of her pregnancy leaked out, the NATIONAL ENQUIRER is reporting exclusively in its new issue.
Does this mean Repugs are winning or losing the cultural battle in supermarket checkout aisles? Hey, Democratic operatives didn't place this headline on the National Enquirer website. Remember, that newspaper just trashed John Edwards. The Enquirer is taking credit for the Palin story. This is a publication that smells money in scandal like sharks smell blood in water. But they have to get juicier to stay ahead of cable news in this one.

Also "Babies, Lies & Scandal" from US magazine.

Note to Kos: Find us something good, something lurid or really nasty. Don't give us Jews for Jesus founder speaking at Palin's church. That guy does more church gigs than Willie Nelson does concerts.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Fresno State 24 Rutgers 7

I nearly posted yesterday predicting a 10 point Fresno State win. Not because I know much about Fresno or Rutgers football, but because I watched a number of Western Athletic Conference games last year, most with Hawaii, & concluded that it was a hard-nosed collection of schools with only one stadium in paradise. Now that it is again possible to defeat Hawaii, & considering Wisconsin & UCLA are also on their nonconference schedule, Fresno was very motivated to win the opener. Motivation is a traditional weakness at Rutgers. Rutgers could lose nine games this season, with the potential for a privileged, wealthy few watching five of them from the new luxury boxes. & I hope every loss shrinks Coach Schiano's dream of replacing Joe Paterno at Penn State & pushes him a step closer toward a successful head coaching career at Hofstra & a modest, comfortable home on Long Island.

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The levees are holding the water

& so is Bristol Palin. Apparently a photo making the rounds showing the Palin family with a protruding tummy on Bristol was taken more recently than we thought. The young woman looked pregnant, & now we know she is.

There is no "choice" in the Palin family. Of course she has to carry the baby whether she marries or not. That's their religion. However, if she delayed telling mom & dad, she & the baby lost months of prenatal medical care.

What does it tell us about trusting abstinence? What does it tell us about the relationship between Sarah & Bristol Palin? Sarah Palin did not know her daughter was sexually active (most moms I've known in my own generation have been able to make reasonable guesses where a daughter or son was not forthcoming). What counts is what a parent does after learning about sexual activity. Order the teenager not to have sex? Turn the situation into Romeo & Juliet? Or say, if you're going to do it, you must use protection.

You'd have to be a really ignorant 16 or 17 year old not to know that when male semen enters a female vagina there's a strong possibility that an egg will get fertilized. By that age you're past the unscientific stupidities & superstitions of how to avoid becoming pregnant. You know there's only two ways to prevent it: Use birth control or don't have intercourse. This is why counselors focus on the unconscious reasons teenage girls want to become pregnant, on their parental relationships & family "scripts."

In the Palin family, becoming pregnant is a path to becoming the center of attention. It worked for mom. Five times. It's how an oldest daughter & a second oldest "invisible" sibling takes the spotlight off everyone else, if she fails to do it any other way. She hides the seriousness of an intimate relationship she's having; that's part of her invisibility. She may want to escape the family altogether. We can take a wild guess here that Bristol is not a happy, well-adjusted teenager. Big deal. This situation is not a matter of moral failure. The protestant right considers sex outside of marriage at any age a moral failure requiring a properly moral response to "consequences." They're against stocking condoms in the high school nurse's office. Bristol's pregnancy is a private matter & doesn't concern us; she & her baby will be well cared for (my personal opinion is Bristol should wait a year before marrying her boyfriend. She might decide the baby deserves better than the guy who fathered it). The larger policy issues it raises of how we prevent teen pregnancies & provide support services & health care must concern us.

John McCain might as well have a sitdown with Todd Palin as with his own advisors.

I'm not very susceptible to political conspiratorial paranoia. But I can't decide if McCain's choice of Palin was as simple a matter as it seemed to be - a "Hail Mary" pass to fire up Evangelicals & pull in a few disgruntled Hillary supporters, & Palin wasn't sufficiently vetted; or there' s some other crazy plan inside the highest circles of a Repug administration that doesn't expect to turn over the White House to a Democrat. The inability or unwillingness of the Repugs to groom & annoint Bush's successor prior to the primaries suggested to me that they might not be concerned about who ultimately got the nomination.

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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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