Friday, October 31, 2008

John, Sarah, Curly

Now John McCain proudly says, "I'm going to Washington & I'm bringing Joe the Plumber with me."

Are we freakin' idiots? McCain gets hold of something, he can't let it go.

First, Senator, you aren't going to Washington because you're from Washington & you've resided there for the past 30 years when you weren't at one your 6 or 7 or whatever homes elsewhere.

You inflict Sarah Palin on us & now you want to bring along as an advisor some knucklehead you stumbled over on the campaign road. Why? So he can walk around the White House saying, "Nyuk Nyuk" like his inspirational hero, Curly from the Three Stooges? Are you running for President of Moronica?
If the poll numbers hold up & even break a little toward McCain, as they probably will, Obama will carry New Jersey by at least 10 points, a landslide. Which means there are now "Obama Republicans" rather than "Reagan Democrats." Or maybe we should call them "Al Gore Republicans." Gore rolled over George W. Bush here with Ralph Nader on the ballot. Jersey has hundreds of thousands of Repugs contemptuously labeled "country club" & "Rinos (Republican in name only) by the national party insiders & our own homegrown wingies. It's obvious nobody listens when Tom Kean & Christie Whitman speak to their national party. Yet they're expected to defend the indefensible, & unfortunately too often do. Obama is clearly the sort of politician former Gov. Kean prefers; moderate, neither dogmatic nor vindictive. Kean knows Barack isn't a "socialist" & isn't particularly a city liberal.

John McCain ought to be popular here, but his selection of Sarah Palin was both a sellout to the far right & a bad personal decision. His chances of carrying Jersey this year were almost nil anyway. Yet it seems he didn't even consider that if suburban women here wouldn't be fooled by a "hockey mom" without the common sense to slip condoms into her sexually active daughter's pockets, she'd be a tough sell in suburbia in plenty of other states.

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Dusty Anderson, 1944

I'm not so much a "leggy" guy, but I know a classy witch when I see one.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Elizabeth Dole bearing false witness

It's come to this:
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 30 (UPI) -- North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Kay Hagan Thursday filed a lawsuit against Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole over an ad suggesting Hagan is an atheist.

Hagan announced the defamation suit after the Dole campaign refused to stop running the ad, which seeks to link her to an atheist group, The Hill reported. Hagan said the Dole campaign faked her voice in the ad to make voters think she doesn't believe in God.

"Elizabeth Dole's attacks on my Christian faith are offensive," Hagan said in a response ad that began airing Thursday.

Hagan, who has taught Sunday school, said she is running for office to help boost the economy and create jobs instead of "bearing false witness against fellow Christians" -- a suggestions that Dole broke one of the Ten Commandments.
That ought to be something to shrug off, but it is defamation in the context of southern politics. & it is an outrageously unchristian lie, bearing false witness on a matter of faith. Dole claims to be a Methodist. Her pastor should be infuriated. Her pastor should supply Dole with this statement from the United Methodist Church document, Called to Be Neighbors and Witnesses: Guidelines for Interreligious Relationships.
As we take seriously this calling to be witnesses and neighbors to people of all faith communities, old and new, we become aware of the biblical caution not to bear false witness (Matthew 19:18) and the admonition to live at peace with all people (Hebrews 12:14). How are we to avoid bearing false witness unless we know our neighbors and understand their faith commitments? How can one truly love a neighbor and hold back what to Christians is the greatest of all gifts—God becoming present to people in Jesus Christ? How can we live peacefully together, unless we are willing to be neighborly? How can we say we love our neighbor if we are unwilling to be attentive to the message and the gifts which God has given him or her? Love of neighbor and witness to Christ are the two primary attitudes United Methodist Christians must affirm in their relationship with persons of other faith traditions. When we affirm our love for the neighbor, we discover that God has given us another gift—people in other faith communities. We join hands with them to fight against the evil powers and principalities of this earth.
Does this have to explained to you, Liddy?

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Congratulations to the Phillies & fans. Tampa Bay was a fun to watch this year, but the Phils looked bigger & badder & they were, though not by much. The city of Tampa Bay didn't earn their team; playoff games not sold out, thousands of shameless Floridian Red Sox fans in the seats.

Wednesday night's finish of a suspended game was just right for people who find baseball too slow & the games too long. Playoff & series games feel longer even when they aren't. Last night's 3 1/2 innings took 90 minutes from pregame to players celebrating in a pile on the pitching mound. There was a home run & a runner thrown out at home. It was nice & tidy & passed quickly, & the 11 o'clock news covered the rioting partying on Broad Street.

Happy Birthday David

My nephew turns 40 today. Freaks out my sister a little bit, but she was young when she had him, she's no geezer.

I ignored my 40th, & the following year went to dinner with some friends, & was given a nice watch by one of them who thought it was my 40th. I said, I'm 41, but I just decided to wait a year to celebrate.

David was born when my Nana was dying - I miss her every day still - & seeing her first grandchild was the greatest going-away present possible. David should always know that he brought joy to her face. Nana was a tough lady, an independent & strong-willed Irish matriarch, had been widowed for 35 years, contentedly enough so I always suspected, & I never saw her look so soft, she melted, he went right to her heart, & we had a glimpse of the woman who decades prior had taken in her own sister's two orphaned sons & made them her own. That was a gift he gave to us, too.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Proposition 8 Happy Family

Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
I think of this ballot proposition as the "Happy Family Law." So I image searched "happy family" combinations. They weren't all titled "happy family" but they all showed up on the search pages. Your happy family under Prop 8 should resemble one of these, except for no. 9, which will be forbidden.

1. Happy White Family. 2. Happy Black Family. 3. Happy Hispanic Family. 4. Happy Chinese Family (Restaurant entree). 5. Happy Christian Family. 6. Happy Jewish Family (ceramic figurines for sale). 7. Happy Atheist Family. 8. Happy Senior Citizen Family (Sen. John McCain & his mom). 9. Happy California Family. 10. Happy Aryan Family. 11. Happy Republican Family (Norman Rockwell, 1943, used on a current Repug website). 12. Happy Democratic Family (& we hope Happy First Family).

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Without A Trace

An ambitious FBI bureaucrat brought in to run the New York missing persons unit, & keep demoted unit head Special Agent Jack Malone under tight control. Jack's become a loose cannon, obsessed, depressed, estranged from family, inclined to methods that violate rights to say the least, seeing a psychiatrist following a near death experience last season. Two missing females are minutes from likely death, one a child abducted by a serial murderer, the new boss & Jack are working on that one & following all the rules. Rattled, losing ground on both cases, the boss lets Jack off the leash. Jack drives directly to the suspect's brother's house, kicks open the door with gun drawn, wraps a wire coat hanger around the guy's neck, tells him he'll die in 30 seconds, & strangles him until the wretch gives up a key piece of information, & the child is rescued unharmed in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

The new boss no longer wants the job, too much pressure, but he still thinks Jack is playing some game to advance himself. Jack's shrink knows better.

Jack Bauer's methods against terrorists on 24 have influenced cop shows. Lt. Caine in CSI: Miami, who began as a follow-the-evidence cop, went to Brazil for an unsanctioned revenge killing, & since then has engaged in offscreen torture & often threatens to kill suspects while they're in custody. Even the detectives on Cold Case, supposedly the clean team in the Philly PD, are getting reckless. I haven't seen Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in awhile, but Det. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) is an interesting character as personally haunted as Jack Malone - all her cases are sex crimes, & she's erred on occasion by not acting forcefully enough. I wonder how she's doing now? Ah, the Bush/Cheney years.



Not here, although temp is 39, but there's frozen something on the radar across western & northern NJ, & I bet my sister has a slippery street out on the edge of Hunterdon County, where deer eat the indian corn wreaths off her front door.

Wasn't so cold walking home last night, but I couldn't tell if the slight, infrequent plops of precip on my head were rain or ice.

A familiar encounter outside 7-11:
Wherever I've resided, there are people whose relationship with me is limited almost entirely to asking me if I have any change or a cigarette. Even when we know each other by name. This is a rather narrow view to take of fellow humanity, & for some it's a habit remaining when desperate need is gone. I used to complain about the rehab center clients mingling outside the building up the street where I attended an art class. A few of them had intimidating personalities or sizes. One time, I bought a pack of cheap, crappy brown cigarillos & passed those out generously to all the supplicants, but I knew they were almost unsmokable. After a few days no one asked me for anything.


Monday, October 27, 2008

The road narrows

A whole year ago when I visited John Edwards' website & found a clearly organized, comprehensive campaign platform. He had positions on poverty, health care, education, the environment, energy. Most of them I agreed with, some didn't go far enough for me. But Edwards had done his work since the 2004 campaign. Fortunately as it turned out, Edwards candidacy didn't catch on. Unfortunately, his thoughtful, progressive platform didn't catch on, either.

The road has narrowed since then. Who talks of poverty now in this campaign? Where's education, the environment, energy? What about two unfinished wars? It's all taxes & vague change & religious demagoguery & slogans aimed at reassuring white middle class entitlement. Those entitlements are at least four: 1. Not to be poor. 2. Not to have to deal with the poor. 3. Not to be disturbed by wars the government happens to be waging. 4. To have everything the middle class wants from government without being told the full price. Bridges just shouldn't fall down. Wars should just pay for themselves. Wall Street should save itself but guvmint should pass laws against recessions although guvmint is the problem except when it isn't, & taxes are socialism when they do what they're supposed to do: redistribute wealth. If it is socialism, we in Jersey ought to ask why the feds treat wealthy Alaska as poor only because we have more rich people, when we also have more poor people, more children, more highways, more schools, more crime.

In some ways, poor & working poor people are more aware than middle class people. Poor & working poor people generally understand what government can & cannot provide for them in practical & visible aid. Poor & working poor people understand the cost of a subsistance lifestyle, & its limitations. Working poor understand that their earned subsistance lifestyles are not culturally dignified by the middle class; being poor with dignity is almost impossible in America now (compared to my parents' generation). That's one big reason young people from working poor families fill the military. The poor do not always understand the price of government services, but they do experience the inefficiencies & wastes in providing those services, & know that some of those servioes are less than second rate because they are wasteful.

Perhaps one positive from the current economic crisis is that it will be easier for the middle class to imagine becoming part of America's working poor, & thus better understand low wages, lack of adequate health care, driving lousy old cars, paying over 50% of net income for rent, scrimping on food. Live that way for awhile & see how your dignity holds up.


All hell broke loose

All hell broke loose in Newark over the past week with a spate of street shootings. It proves how much havoc a few sociopaths can cause, & Newark produces a lot of them, & they rip up Newark's most neighborly neighborhoods like Vailsburg & Forest Hills. What can be done about them? To make matters worse, Newark has some group called the "Special Police" of rent-a-cops with a "separate command structure", & one those police officers arrested a local CBS cameraman filming a March Against Street Violence - surely the organizers wanted news coverage - & so far no explanation has been put forth WHY the cameraman was told to stop filming & then manhandled & arrested when he correctly refused to put his camera away.

Whew. Hope I signed in. Having problems getting browser to accept google's security certificate. It seems to be originating in Firefox & affecting IE. But when I can "sneak" in through IE, Firefox is OK, although it still won't give me the goodle search page sometimes. I get a page with a 0 in the upper left corner. Doesn't help at all when I go through steps for accepting the certificate.

On reading the first chapter of "No Death, No Fear"

An unfinished, unedited short essay from 2004, written for poet Jim Cohn, never sent. Too jumbled to complete, maybe there's a few worthwhile thoughts in it.

On reading a chapter of "No Death, No Fear," by Thich Nhat Hanh

When I say I am a scairdy cat, I am being jokey about something very serious. I have always been afraid. Afraid of what? Of abandonment, separation, of not being loved. Afraid of success, of failure, & of everything in between. Afraid of what I know & of what I do not know. Because I was born, I am afraid of dying.

Even the mild, humane Methodism in which I was raised did not explain why I was born; What it teaches about death has never made much sense to me. Eternal life is an oxymoron. Which leaves annihilation as the alternative; extinguished, snuffed out like a flame? A simile, like a flame. What is a flame? A flame is a passage for matter. It converts one kind of matter into a combination of energy & another kind of matter. So what does it mean to be extinguished like a flame?

I have thought about these things all of my adult life, & wondered about them in different ways as a child. Perhaps I was closer to understanding as a child, in rare moments of settledness, these moments almost always connected in some way with nature. I can still vividly recall the blooming, twisted magnolia next to the garage, a tree I could easily climb & be in the midst of colors & scent that intoxicated me. All the Jersey beaches of my life have been essentially the same beach, as contiguous to each other as this present moment is to other every present moment. The inlets that separate them are merely submerged beaches.

In the 80's I was a poet who went on to radio, & the more comfortable I became with the medium, the less poetry I featured on my programs. I realized that doing a free form radio was itself an art, with about the same rate of successes, of being fully in what I was creating; I was delighted by the absence of any resulting artifact, but for waves diffusing in space. During the 90's, I turned to prose, to the medium of the short newspaper essay, the "column." As with radio, I still considered myself a poet even as I made something other than a poem. I was aware of what I was doing & why. The poet tries in the making of poems to have as direct an experience as a dancer, a painter, a musician. An "audience" has a different kind of experience, also direct, but not the originator. It not a second hand experience, neither is it exactly first hand, as the artist experiences it. Knowing that the vast majority of literate Americans do not read poetry & do not know how to read poetry, why should my goal be to make them read my poetry? Or to concentrate upon audiences of other poets or captive audiences in classrooms? I wanted to point to the possibility of direct experience without the intermediary of poetry. Just look at it, do it, see it, hear it, & you might experience what poet experiences before the words go on to the paper. You will certainly become the dancer in your world. So I often wrote about what I had experienced in those places & events I had in common with readers, & simply tried to show them how easy it would be to experience it for themselves. I have rarely hesitated to use pieces of my poems in my prose if I thought it would help. I don't worry about stealing from myself if something I have written tries to manifest itself another way.

The irony here is that I often act without fear, & as a "teacher" (which I believe is on the path most poets take) my message has always contained, "Don't be afraid." But I was teaching to do as I say, not as I feel. For I am still trapped in the concepts, which I hope will not be understood by others as merely "concepts," but as "experiencing." I am afraid,

In the beautiful 14:5 of John's Gospel, Thomas asks Jesus, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus answers, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me." Conservative Christians (mostly protestants at this point) interpret it to mean salvation is exclusive of all those who do not know of or believe in Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ. I wonder, what is this "way," who is this "I" & who is this "me" speaking at the small Passover gathering in the Upper Room. It is a voice I may have heard elsewhere, entering the world through the confines of human consciousness, into a particular culture, using the metaphors that are all we have to describe the indescribable? Is it understood out-of-context, a chapter that begins simply. "Do not let your hearts be troubled." The gentle message Thich Nhat Hanh brings from Buddhism.

Essay ends there. Yes I did read all of the book. If you ask Thich Nhat Hahn,"Where was Jesus before he was born?" he will ask, "Where was Jesus after he was born?"

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bridgeton NJ

WSNJ FM in Bridgeton was true community station.
Established in 1946, the dawn of the FM era, it was owned by one family from 1971, broadcasting from southwest Jersey across the farmlands & pinelands & Delaware Bay. But like a family farm, it became too valuable a property. The owner was old, & regulatory changes made it possible, by manipulating FCC rules, to sell the frequency, push aside any community objections, & move the signal closer to big market Philadelphia. The owner died before payment was made & the $20 million was deposited into his estate. WSNJ AM, with a weaker signal, was sold locally. But the FM station was the pride.
When Upsala College folded, it was almost a miracle that WFMU, already located in the biggest media market in America, was able to avoid the fate that befell WSNJ only a few years later.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Nasty weather.

Nasty weather. Not good for baseball in Philly. I'm waiting for the rain to end before I walk up the street to feed Gina's cats. Gina is foster-caring four kittens in an upstairs room, they're well provided for until tomorrow, I'm under strict orders not to look at them lest they get loose. I think she wants to keep one. She lost a cat a over a year ago, & her semi-feral outdoor cat, Creamsicle, disappeared last month.

I've had one shower this week that was steamy enough, which means the temp isn't hot enough for dishes. But if the landlord thinks he's saving money, the heat came on the other night at 3 am & it got so stuffy I had to get up & turn off the radiator.

I took no. 17 Pittsburgh & the points, they're overrated, but a no brainer I figured given Rutgers offense. Rutgers kicked Pitt's butt. Go figure. Mike Teel was due one. Rutgers is mediocre team, not a bad team. They've had only one really awful game this year, against North Carolina. But having raised expectations, Rutgers has also raised up some very obnoxious fans. The Scarlet Knights can beat Syracuse. Army is no patsy this year but it's a home game, & I don't like their chances against South Florida or Louisville. Big East football is very strange this season. Soon we can turn our attention to our preferred Rutgers team, the basketball women.

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Life In the Field with Ashley Todd

Life in the Field "is a group blog starring the 50 College Republican field representatives and you."

Well, now it's 49 College Repugs after they hastily deleted Ashley Todd's posts, the backward "B" girl arrested in Pittsburgh. They're a dull bunch, but you have to remember Karl Rove is a god to them. You can still find some of Ashley's posts in google cache. She writes on 9/28:
So, I had an interesting time in my second time in NY. Finding a hotel was hard, since the UN was meeting, and the only Kinds were very skeezy. And i paid 200 bucks for the honour of staying in these usually "by the hour" type places...Ew.

But!! We did do really well at Queens, Combining efforts with the RJC, and getting aout 350 people total, Plus more at Yeshvia!! Total count was 615- WAY COOL!! Plus we did some great work getting the two clubs official for the schools!!

It's yeshiva, Ashley. You spelled it wrong in two posts. I'd have thought the Repugs would find you some some nice white family in Howard Beach to stay with. The Field Negro (different kind of field) writes how he knew upfront your story was bogus:
The weapon of choice to rob poor innocent white women at the ATM machine, is a hand gun. Or, as we call them in the hood; an "Air Mike Tyson". And another thing, no self respecting black robber would see you at the ATM, and just take the $60 you just took out. No Ashley, he would tell your ass to take your card and clean out whatever you had in that bitch.
No doubt the same thing occurred to the Pittsburgh police. Hire a good lawyer (don't expect the RNC or College Repugs to pick up the tab, mom & dad have to do it), plead out as a mental case, & get back to Texas fast as you can. You'll be a hero down there & can probably use this to get a good job. But thanks for "helping" John & Sarah in western PA. The Obama campaign still wishes you a speedy recovery.


Five Words

Words that appear to have been coined after the 2008 US presidential candidates.
(From Wordsmith.)

obambulate (o-BAM-byuh-layt) verb intr.
To walk about.

(by-DEN-tayt) adjective
Having two teeth or toothlike parts.

(PAL-uh-noad) noun
A poem in which the author retracts something said in an earlier poem.

(MEEK-en) verb tr., intr.
To make or become meek or submissive.

(BAR-uhk, the first syllable is the same as in barrel) verb tr., intr.
1. To shout in support: to cheer.
2. To shout against: to jeer.
A building used to house soldiers.
verb tr., intr.
To provide with accommodation.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gotham suckered

The people of New York City have been had, suckered, betrayed. They voted twice by referendum to impose term limits on elective offices, & the very council members subject to term limits overturned the expressed will of the people. How is that possible? It's outrageous. Whatever possesses the council to believe the current economic crisis is worse than the fear, uncertainty, & sorrow following 9/11, when suggestions that an election be postponed for a few months & Giuliani's term extended were rejected? "Don't change horses in the middle of a stream," say Bloomberg's supporters. Lincoln used that in 1864, a somewhat different situation.

I have no strong opinions on Mayor Bloomberg's performance as mayor. But Bloomberg is prepared to spend 60, 70, 80 million or more of his own dollars to crush anyone opposing him for a third term, yet was unwilling to put term limits up for another public vote & spend any of his dough on convincing New Yorkers to repeal it. The council vote is a travesty, an insult to the democratic process. New Yorkers indicated in polls that they were willing to give Bloomberg a third term, & also overwhelmingly for a new referendum. So I think it was up to Bloomberg to change their minds on term limits, not strong arm the city council into doing his bidding. Bloomberg was able to do so because he isn't a bitter ideologue like Giuliani; some of the most liberal council members owe him for supporting their pet projects. That nonpartisan largess may make him look good for a third term, but it doesn't earn him a bye.

(One pleasant result of an Obama win would be finishing off Rudy Giuliani. He won't starve. He can make his millions as a lobbyist & giving speeches to any group that cares to pay his fee, rant as an occasional cable news guest commentator, but blow flames out multiple orifices as he powerlessly watches Bloomberg & NY Gov. David Patterson ushered into the White House for what will be announced as "friendly discussions with the President during an informal lunch of New York deli sandwiches." )

Second fender bender on this corner in a week. Probably caused by sun glare. Surprising I haven't seen a really serious accident on my street; cars come through here 45, 50 mph, accelerating from the traffic light a block down & trying to beat the light a block up. I hear them all the time, if they went out of control they'd plow through a row of parked cars. Cherry is a narrow, tree-lined, one way residential street, but it's actually a main connection during afternoon drivetime from the county courthouse complex downtown to Morris Ave, a very major road that heads north to Union, the Parkway, Route 22, Springfield & Summit. I'm by the Morris Ave. end of that stretch, where commuters smell freedom. The big accidents occur over by Kean University, a large office park, & Schering-Plough on Morris. Sometimes the road is closed, emergency vehicles bunched up 100 yards beyond the police barricade, no easy detour.

This is Jersey driving. You need to know more than one way of getting from one place to another, & hope you choose the alternative before you're trapped.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A respectable Republican cloth coat

I don't begrudge Sarah Palin her $150,000 wardrobe / beauty upgrade paid for by the RNC. She's the star, & she isn't rich. Always sneaking family expenditures into her governor's expense account. Sarah speaks at political fundraisers where other women are wearing at least that much money head to toe total. Why should she play the proletariat beggar, a trailer trash mouthpiece for billionaire war profiteers? In the event Sarah loses this race & concludes she can't be President of the United States, or it'd be too much of a hassle to try, it's possible she won't even run for reelection as governor, keep everybody guessing about her national political future to maintain her celebrity status, & when money from the book deal, FOX TV contract, & speaking fees roll in, she'll move to the lower 48 & own more shoes than Imelda. Because that's what she originally wanted before she ran for mayor: media celebrity, the all-purpose, I'll do or say almost anything for money celebrity that encompasses personalities as distinctly different as Anne Coulter, Pamela Anderson, Rachel Ray, Paris Hilton, & Marie Osmond. She'll be charging $25 grand just to say grace at prayer breakfasts.

What disappoints is that Sarah didn't choose her new wardrobe. It was purchased for her by a Repug operative named Jeff Larson. Could anything be more frustrating for Sarah than to be denied shopping sprees at Neiman Marcus, Saks, & Barney's? (Barney's men's section is also popular with wealthy dykes, so I've heard.) If you're old enough, you'll recall the grand prizes of 15, 10, & 5 minute toy store shopping sprees Mickey Mouse Club used to have, those winning kids knew exactly what they were looking for, & which aisle; all high end toys. Sarah would have done the same kind of research. But everybody wants to see Sarah & hardly anyone wants to see John, so they got her running around nonstop.

Still, we're a long way from VP candidate Dick Nixon's 1952 "Checkers" speech:
Well, in addition to the mortgage, the 20,000 dollar mortgage on the house in Washington, the 10,000 dollar one on the house in Whittier, I owe 4500 dollars to the Riggs Bank in Washington, D.C., with interest 4 and 1/2 percent. I owe 3500 dollars to my parents, and the interest on that loan, which I pay regularly, because it's the part of the savings they made through the years they were working so hard -- I pay regularly 4 percent interest. And then I have a 500 dollar loan, which I have on my life insurance.

Well, that's about it. That's what we have. And that's what we owe. It isn't very much. But Pat and I have the satisfaction that every dime that we've got is honestly ours. I should say this, that Pat doesn't have a mink coat. But she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat, and I always tell her she'd look good in anything.
Any aspiring male politician who needs to look good in a conservative suit should invest in good conservative suits, & own at least two better than he can afford, & take that attitude as far as he can. Which reminds me of the guy I knew whose fiance advised him to get a fine suit, so he did, but it was a fantastic Italian design completely inappropriate for employment interviews. We all agreed he looked terrific. He didn't really want a corporate job, & eventually started a screen printing business out of their garage.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008


"What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection
of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another."
-Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

"Nature is garrulous to the point of confusion, let the artist be truly taciturn."
-Paul Klee

"Besides the Autumn poets sing
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the Haze—"
-Emily Dickinson

"Nature is, above all, profligate. Don't believe them when they tell you how
economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil.
Wouldn't it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place?"
-Annie Dillard

"The marigolds are
the last to go,
spiteful of seasons,
a colony of tiny
orange petals grouped
around a mystery."
-Bob Rixon


Monday, October 20, 2008

campaign endgame

The most true thing Obama has said about John McCain is that he is "more of the same." That is a knowing junior senator speaking of one of the most powerful senior senators. Not more of George W. Bush - which would be giving credit where it is not due - but more of the people who placed Bush in the White House & have controlled him for 8 years. Those people made McCain more powerful, & the Republicans in the Senate have consistently done their, & his, bidding. Few were more loyal team players behind the scenes than Sen. John McCain. Obama has never underestimated John McCain's power; when he arrived in Washington, that power was among the most supreme in the Senate. McCain believes he can gain enough power through the presidency to control or demote the most corrupt &/or radical of repug powerbrokers. But Obama believes that defeating John McCain is doing a great service for America, because it's the only sure way to bring an end to "more of the same" in the Executive Branch. Only the purge of a party switch can accomplish this.

The next two weeks will be interesting for watching Obama's campaign endgame. He has one. He had a terrific endgame for the primaries, based on having already "won" the nomination & not doing anything to lose it. Basically, he just let Hillary run out the string without much competition, because he had nothing to lose by conceding those primaries. Hillary's campaign team was essentially an extension of the establishment Democratic organization. There should have been no doubt that they were coming over to Barack after the convention; they were always as invested in the down ticket races as much as in Hillary. Barack could not have handed his organization intact to Hillary, since it was designed as an insurgent campaign treating Hillary & then McCain as incumbent candidates. In a sense, Barack ran as Bill Clinton '92 against Bill's own wife, a wonderful irony that Bill himself no doubt appreciated "at the end of the day."

Barack is in better shape in the polls than he had planned at this stage. He had expected a stronger campaign from McCain, a less divisive VP candidate than Palin, & couldn't have predicted the economic disasters, all of which were to his advantage (McCain's selection of Palin was intended as move back to the model of a "weak" vice presidency with the possibility of grooming the VP as a successor). He has unlimited media & GOTV money. He has to continue the rope-a-dope tactics, allowing McCain & Palin to swing wildly & inconsistently. But he has to come off the ropes to deliver a real knockout rather than the TKO he achieved against Hillary, something much more than the one state electoral margins of Bush's two wins. Virginia in is play. Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada. A strong showing in North Carolina could take out Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Repugs are in trouble down ticket everywhere, in surprising places.

Last winter, asked about his lack of executive experience, Barack said, "Watch how I manage my campaign." So far, he's managed it brilliantly. I've been thinking about Saul Alinsky all year, although I haven't read the great community organizer & theorist since college. Alinsky's methods have long since been adapted not only to the merely liberal causes he considered too passive & too compromised in aims, but also by the religious right. Both Barack & Hillary know Alinsky intellectually, but only Barack has strong grassroots experience in community organizing. Hillary rejected Alinsky, unable apparently to separate his methods from his radicalism, she created a top-down elitist organization, woke up too late to the reality that she had been out-organized by Barack, & lost. I don't think many candidates can adopt the model Barack constructed this year, but all future presidential campaigns will draw upon it.

The protestant far right, with an aging or discredited patriarchy, its button issues undermined by the economy, couldn't find an acceptable candidate in the primaries, was forced to coalesce at the last moment around a vice presidential candidate 4 years short of national political credibility; although Palin unified most of that part of the party base, she couldn't expand it - has, in some ways, isolated it - & reflected poorly on McCain. Palin became the deal breaker for Repugs from Chris Buckley to Colin Powell, proof that the protestant far right would sell out every traditional repug principle that hadn't already been abandoned by neocons, & even put the nation at risk in exchange for someone who at least pretends to lose sleep over gay marriage.

Barack has bought time for a three network 30-minute TV commercial (CBS, NBC, Fox) that runs on 10/29, before Game Six of the World Series, if the series goes to six games. It better be an interesting half-hour.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Atlantic City NJ

Sea lion pen at Captain Starn's.

Click on photo for full effect. It was as depressing as it looks here.
Captain Starn's was a huge, old tourist trap seafood restaurant at the inlet end of the boardwalk.
I didn't get up that way much when I stayed with my grandmother, but I visited the poor sea lions on a few occasions. I'd completely forgotten the pathetic attraction until I came across this postcard.
Starn's was shabby, like the rest of the city. I have no idea where they got the animals or what happened to them during winter. The water was murky & trashy. They sold sardines I think, but of course people threw all kinds of crap, from the adjacent snack bar.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008


Fox, go easy on those Sergio Leone style full screen closeups of Boston manager Terry Francona.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chicago Tribune endorses Barack

Tribune endorsement: Barack Obama for president

However this election turns out, it will dramatically advance America's slow progress toward equality and inclusion. It took Abraham Lincoln's extraordinary courage in the Civil War to get us here. It took an epic battle to secure women the right to vote. It took the perseverance of the civil rights movement. Now we have an election in which we will choose the first African-American president . . . or the first female vice president.

In recent weeks it has been easy to lose sight of this history in the making. Americans are focused on the greatest threat to the world economic system in 80 years. They feel a personal vulnerability the likes of which they haven't experienced since Sept. 11, 2001. It's a different kind of vulnerability. Unlike Sept. 11, the economic threat hasn't forged a common bond in this nation. It has fed anger, fear and mistrust.

On Nov. 4 we're going to elect a president to lead us through a perilous time and restore in us a common sense of national purpose.

The strongest candidate to do that is Sen. Barack Obama. The Tribune is proud to endorse him today for president of the United States.

This is remarkable. The Tribune was Abraham Lincoln's unwavering Chicago newspaper through two elections & the most dismal Union battle losses - that's how long it's been Republican. It has never before endorsed a Democrat. Never. Two third party candidates, Horace Greeley & Theodore Roosevelt, both disaffected Republicans. Not Franklin D. Roosevelt. Not Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson. Not Lyndon Johnson against Goldwater. Barack Obama is the first.

McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate--but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin's exposure to the public. But it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country.
Of Barack Obama:
Obama is deeply grounded in the best aspirations of this country, and we need to return to those aspirations. He has had the character and the will to achieve great things despite the obstacles that he faced as an unprivileged black man in the U.S.

He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.


A crock of

I was thinking about this last night as I ordered an inexpensive used copy of The Crock of Gold by James Stephens. One of my all-time favorite books, a 1912 Irish fantasy novel, I ignored all four of the above when I loaned it over 10 years ago. It was a book I picked up now & then for inspiration, always remembered where it was stored or shelved. The cover was taped on. I'd underlined passages. Somehow I've gone without. The entire book is available online for free, but that's not how I want to read The Crock of Gold again. I may not even reread the entire book. I need it back in my book collection, near my bed when it arrives. Of the books I own, the percentage of fiction or fantasy of any kind is small, all paperback. A lot of my books are practically irreplaceable, especially the poetry books, which doesn't make them valuable, only difficult to replace. A Crock of Gold hasn't gone out-of-print since 1912, probably why I put off getting another copy. It was always available. I'd just let the urge to read it pass. I long ago osmosed the novel, & whenever its influence shows up in my prose, the influence is good. So many other influences are not good, or not used well.

James Stephens became friends with James Joyce in the 1920's; they were almost exactly the same age. Joyce was stalled on Finnegan's Wake, & seriously considered inviting Stephens in as co-author. Now I think The Crock of Gold a great Irish novel every young writer ought to read, & Finnegan's Wake a novel no writer needs to read.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mighty Oaks?

Officials: FBI investigates ACORN for voter fraud

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is investigating whether the community activist group ACORN helped foster voter registration fraud around the nation before the presidential election. A senior law enforcement official confirmed the investigation to The Associated Press on Thursday.

A second senior law enforcement official says the FBI was looking at results of recent raids on ACORN offices in several states for any evidence of a coordinated national scam.
A very misleading headline. Voter fraud is when a vote is fraudulently cast or fraudulently counted. You can register all the names in the local cemetery with the address Row X Plot Y. But if nobody casts those votes, or those registrations are rejected before they are entered on the rolls, no voter fraud has occurred. Anyone can write "Mickey Mouse" on a registration form & drop it in the mailbox. You don't need ACORN. If anyone in that organization has been fraudulently registering as a way of earning money, shame on them, it's a scam alright. But it isn't voter fraud, & I doubt many if any of the phony or duplicate registrants would've actually voted. Does it promote voter fraud? It could, but you'd have to show me where it has succeeded.

At street fairs & flea markets & other events, Dems & Repugs at tables ask everyone, "Have you registered to vote?" They sign up hardcore homeless, gangbangers, Thorazine foot-draggers, anyone. Nobody asks for official I.D. Here's the form, fill it out. Over at the rehab place where I used to take an art class, people were constantly bitchin' about Bush "policies," all of them were given the opportunity to legally register, & I'd bet not one-in-ten of them bothered to vote. Nor was there any organized effort to get them to vote, absentee or in person, by ACORN or any organization. The efforts are to register people. That's easy.

Getting people to vote is far more difficult. Unless you see a person fill out & seal an absentee ballot, or pick them up at home & drive them to the polling place, you can't be certain they voted at all. Well-organized local campaign operations devote Election Day to getting out the vote, old, reliable GOTV. I used to receive phone calls from local Democrats on Election Day asking if I needed a ride to go vote. At the polling place there are people called "challengers." Their job is to make sure your name really is "Mickey Mouse" or "Joe-the-Plumber" & that you legally reside in that district.

If massive voter fraud through phony registrations were possible, we'd still be doing it in New Jersey. Actual election fraud happens other ways, more difficult to prove; mainly through various methods of voter disenfranchisement, including fear tactics (they'll arrest you for all your unpaid parking tickets, they'll detain you until your illegal immigrant cousin turns himself in); trying to throw out the baby with the bathwater - dumping 1000 legit votes over one illegit; frivolous on-site challenges that back up lines for hours; computer "errors." The Palin/McCain campaign wants to throw suspicion on millions of legitimate voters; they want us to believe Obama can win only if hundreds of thousands of voters wearing Mickey Mouse masks suddenly show up at schools & libraries on Election Day in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, & New Hampshire, on buses driven by radical left community organizers, & nobody will bother to ask, "Say, are you the real Mickey Mouse?"


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Later: "No one could have coached McCain to be this bad." Robert Shrum
Meaning if this was the best McCain had - & of the three debates it probably was - he doesn't have much of anything. & too many Americans are certain of it now.

Phillies 5, Dodgers 1
Phillies win pennant. As expected. The Phillies looked bigger & stronger. But it was fun to see the Dodgers, a just o.k. ball club in a weak division that Red Sox reject Manny Ramirez cheered, pushed, & carried into the playoffs & easily past a superior Cubs. & manager Joe Torre got some payback on the Yanks plus a little something extra in his paycheck.
The stock market is insane. It goes up 800 points. Then a few days later it goes down 800 points. Between those two days it's not like there were stupendous revelations that the economy would continue to suck. Who possibly could have been taken by surprise? Buy. Buy. No, Sell. Sell.
Started for library around 6:30, to return a couple of books, check one out, then head from there to nearby Shoprite, half-price Chock Full O Nuts coffee sale, buy two or three cans of New York Roast. Pleasantly dull walk, a long looping trip altogether. Went about a block & felt like I was walking through soft sand, the energy level you get with a cold. Is this journey really necessary right now rather than tomorrow or even Friday? I decided it wasn't, with some disappointment, my library jaunts are enjoyable but I knew I wouldn't enjoy this one, going there, being there, coming home, I'd be draggin' my feet every step of the way, with runny nose & occasional coughing jag. Go home Bob, sip orange juice, you can even watch the Phillies-Dodgers game instead of the debate.

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Blog Action Day: Poverty

Right now I got nuttin' done. I have a general theme, but I also have a cold & I can't seem to concentrate on writing for more than a paragraph. I'll just autoblog this now & maybe post the various notes & fragments later. But you can click through the banner & see what else is happening.

Neal Hefti

By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 15, 2008
Neal Hefti, a former big band trumpeter, arranger and composer who worked with Count Basie and Woody Herman and later composed the memorable themes for the movie "The Odd Couple" and the campy hit TV series "Batman," has died. He was 85.

Hefti died Saturday at his home in Toluca Lake, said his son, Paul. He did not know the cause of death, but said his father had been in good health.

"Everybody in the music business loved Neal Hefti," radio and television personality Gary Owens, a longtime friend, told The Times on Tuesday.

"He was one of the really great arrangers and composers of all time," Owens said. "He worked with all those guys -- Charlie Spivak, Harry James, Woody Herman -- and he made arrangements that were just spectacular."

Described as "one of the most influential big band arrangers of the 1940s and '50s" in "The Encyclopedia of Popular Music," Hefti turned his attention to composing for film and television in the 1960s.

Among his credits as a film composer are "Sex and the Single Girl," "Harlow" (one of his most famous tunes, “Girl Talk,” came out of the score), "How to Murder Your Wife," "Boeing Boeing," "Duel at Diablo," "Barefoot in the Park," "A New Leaf," "Last of the Red Hot Lovers" and “The Odd Couple,” whose theme he reprised for the 1970s TV series.
Half of the obit. Back in high school, Neal Hefti was one of my heroes, part of a younger generation of Hollywood composers that came out of jazz & the big bands, not syrupy European late-romanticism. Mancini, Hefti, Pete Rugolo, Kenyon Hopkins, Earl Hagen, Quincy Jones; & sympatico conservatory-trained composers like Elmer Bernstein, Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith, Lalo Schifrin. In the Fifties, when Count Basie rebuilt his band & retooled his sound, Hefti was one of the arranger-composers Basie invited to contribute to the new book. Basie took that sound to Vegas, & it became "The Rat Pack" live show, tight big band style. The old Tonight Show Band leaned on it for decades.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sarah Palin '08

From a Scranton PA newspaper report of the Palin rally held there:
Cindy Castellani, 33, of Lakeville, was wearing a red sweater and pushing her 9-month-old daughter Lilian, also wearing red, in a stroller.

Ms. Castellani was attending her first political rally. She said, "I want to hear Sarah speak in person about how she's going to change Washington. I was not convinced about John (McCain), but it has everything to do with Sarah now."
Sentiments like that along with hot sales of Sarah Palin '08 buttons could make one wonder just who is running for president on the Repug ticket. The party base Palin "energized" doesn't trust John McCain, maybe doesn't even respect him much anymore, & a large portion of that base certainly views him as the vehicle for his VP candidate to become president, preferably as soon as possible. God has it all worked out; there's no other way to explain why Palin's on the ticket instead of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, an evangelical conservative who would have played well to broader demographics, is less polarizing, & whose experience, education, & family would not have become major issues. He is not meant-to-be. Sarah Palin is.

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Monday, October 13, 2008


James McBride: Song Yet Sung (2008)
A story of slavery on Maryland's Eastern shore, 80 miles from freedom. Some large plantations, but also culture of small farm & fisherman slave owners we never hear about much, where a single slave may determine a white family's economic survival, & economic failure may mean being sold deeper south. A mystery of the code used to arrange escapes north. Not saying nearly enough about the novel.
Carl Hiassen: Native Tongue (1991)
Howard Frank Mosher: On Kingdom Mountain (2007)
Entertaining novel of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom in the 1920's. The admirable main character, an eccentric, 50-year old spinster, doesn't have enough hours in the day to do all she does & know all she knows. I'm not certain this occurred to the author. So what.
James Lee Burke: Pegasus Descending
Richard A. Thompson: Fiddle Game
A rare violin as bail collateral, a murder, a bail bondsman on the run.

Karen Armstrong: The Bible: A Biography
I'm more than inclined to agree with many of her opinions, but the subject is so large, the book so short, skims over or omits so much, that it's not always clear how she arrived at some of those opinions. She sells lots of books. Most enlightening in how the "Old Testament" came together. Most refreshing in that Armstrong doesn't treat The Bible as a project of supernatural literary asemblage, but neither is she trying to diminish it as a book of faith.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Barnegat New Jersey

The sesquicentennial celebration for Barnegat Lighthouse kicked off on Saturday.
Old Barney is receiving a new Fresnel lens soon.

The annual "Lighthouse Challenge" is this weekend. Lighthouse enthusiasts - they are legion & dedicated to the cause - visit every existing lighthouse in New Jersey. It sounds more fun than it probably is, no sooner enjoy one magic place than you have to race off to the next, & much of the driving isn't exactly scenic. But it's a bragging thing if you're devoted to lighthouses, & lots of people come from out of state, collecting their Jersey lighthouses.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Doing Nothing

I have a sneezing, runny nose, low fever, tickle throat cough cold. I don't feel sick enough to take the over-the-counter meds that turn you into a numb zombie; it was a day to put up with annoying symptoms & go with the listlessness, stay inside all afternoon & read a book. Later I had to walk up the street to feed four cats, so I ran a small load of wash at Gina's, then sat on the couch wrapped in an afghan, channel surfing sports, one cat behind my head, another next to me, & when I became too drowsy - as the cats shifted from doze to serious sleep, fine tuning their positions - I turned off the TV, pushed myself home, & drank a large glass of orange juice. Gina's next-door neighbors have a spacious Sukkot booth in their driveway. The Rabbi's entire family can fit in there with room to spare. In Brooklyn, booths the size of broom closets are squeezed together in front of apt buildings.

For several years I've been catching, when I could, reruns of Da Vinci's Inquest, a great Canadian cop show set & filmed in Vancouver, shown late Saturday on Channel 2. Just when I was closing in on seeing them all & finally making sense of the show's seven year trajectory, CBS took it off. It's a very unusual show. Some plots were one episode, some carried over, some were just dropped. One of the best episodes, the two crimes weren't even solved & the next episode made no mention of them. The show gave a sense of the monotony of investigations. The coroner & the detectives are always stopping for coffee or lunch, knocking on doors where nobody's home, standing around crime scenes that utterly puzzle them, you see how they start with almost nothing & there's no CSIs arriving in Hummers. Da Vinci, an investigator for the coroner's office & a former cop, carries a small shoulder bag, & is not immune to the sights & smells of crime scenes, muttering as he pokes around a rancid or brutalized body for an I.D. Really dogged, professional cops. Guns are rarely drawn. The weather is often wretched, cold & drizzly.

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Dear Sen. McCain:

Don't bother Obama about "repudiating" Rep John Lewis. Rep. Lewis knew Dr. King personally. He was beaten nearly to death by racist cops on the Selma to Montgomery March. Like you, Rep. Lewis is something of a "maverick," & an old soldier in his cause. Be a man, call him, & deal with it. If you convince him he's in error, that your campaign rhetoric shouldn't remind him of the way George Wallace enabled & incited bigots with code words & tone, he'll repudiate his own comments.

You can sure that when Radical Sarah tells her flying monkeys to see how "radical" Barack is, they won't go to his website to find out. A candidate who won't admit he's a fundamentalist Muslim & commie terrorist associate (as if they're compatible) is hardly going to tell the truth about about taxes, health care, the economy, the environment. His website is just a front for, I don't know, maybe the conspiracies of the Elders of Chicago. They'll confirm Barack's "radical" ideas where they've always heard about them; wingnut radio, church, local rumor, & spam e mail if they have e mail.

How come John McCain's call for reasonable debate hasn't reached his VP candidate? Oh well, he changes his tactics daily.

North Korea, which has a brutal Stalinist dictator & was test firing missiles this week, is now off the "terrorist list." But the professor who steered a $49-million dollar grant to Chicago schools from the Annenburg Foundation is unforgivable.

You think Cheney's a miserable bastard? Just wait till Radical Sarah occupies the office &, with little else to do, conspires with Todd to settle all the scores, all the insults & indignities heaped upon her by her enemies on the left & in mainstream media, same difference, exorcising the demons.

In a matter of weeks, our federal government has shifted to a new level of state capitalism or state socialism - there are varying opinions on which one, but the agreement is that something extraordnary has occurred, something radical, setting precedents not easy to repudiate. Like cell phone eavesdropping on love chat between soldiers & their spouses, this could be the way it's always gonna be. Call me old-fashioned, but it would be good to see some real things purchased with these billions of federal dollars; maybe some clean energy, a few bridges to somewhere.


Friday, October 10, 2008

You know their names

We've lost half of our wealth during the 2008 bear market.
There are people who say that isn't really wealth but rather
a collective fantasy of wealth. Could be something to it, look at
what's happening in Iceland, & listen to the prime minister.
Back to fishing & thermal energy, he advises, after his nation
went broke trying to be Great Britain's piggy bank.

Now that the Connecticut Supreme Court has overturned that state's ban on same sex marriage, Sarah the Harpy can shriek to her adoring, rabid crowds about activist judges, moral values, & how in Alaska only a married man & woman are permitted to find a baby under a cabbage leaf. Oh yeah, the global economic crisis is the fault of socialist, homosexual, Wall Street terrorists. "You know their names, " says McCain. "You will know more of their names."

Remember, it was economic crisis that pushed Germany over the edge, turning Germans into victims & Jews into scapegoats.

Meet Sister Carol Gilbert and Sister Ardeth Platte, Dominican nuns. Six years ago they sneaked on to a military base & painted crosses on an unmanned missile silo with their own blood. Oh, those Catholic idealists! They served time for the antiwar protest. Recently, they learned the Maryland State Police had placed their names on a national terrorist watch list. You know their names. You will know more of their names.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A 7-11 is never your corner store

Last night I decided I have a cold, not allergies. I get hit with allergies twice-a-year for brief periods, not seriously, it isn't a ragweed thing. I haven't had a cold in a few years, an unexplainable mystery, unless they were so mild they fooled me. I average two, fall & early summer. Sometimes a child's sneeze has certain ripe sound & I think, "Here comes my cold." When I taught piano, I considered it important to have my fall cold as early as possible, since it usually made me immune to the various mutations the kids spread around all winter. I'd clean the piano keys with Lysol & frequently remind the kids, "If you need to sneeze or cough, stop playing."

Some kids won't stop what they're doing even to throw up. Ask any elementary school teacher. Of course they booger everything they touch.
A 7-11 is never your corner store.

A man paid for his USA Today with spare change. The clerk counted it & said there was only 66 cents. The customer said he had counted it & there was 75 cents. This went back & forth, yes, no. I had a half pound of change in my pocket, reached in, pulled out a dime, handed it to the clerk & said, "There, he has his newspaper." The clerk, recounting the change as he put it in the register discovered he had 85 cents, the customer had given him the correct amount.

I used to stop by a 7-11 every day driving to work. I always got a medium coffee. Sometimes I bought a paper, danish, orange juice, a pack of smokes, sometimes nothing except the coffee, always paying the same clerks. One morning I was preoccupied, probably sleepy, filled up the cup, it was all of a dollar if that, & absentmindedly strolled out of the 7-11 without paying. Leaving a line of waiting customers, the clerk followed me out of the store yelling, "You didn't pay for that coffee." He was a clerk I had seen five times every week for months. Embarrassed, I went back in & paid for the coffee, but I never again set foot inside that place. I found a friendlier store, slightly out of the way, added maybe 3 minutes to the commute. The store had a middle-age woman cashier with 6 piercings in each ear, I asked her how she came to have so many & she replied her daughter had talked her into it. I also asked her "If I ever forgot to pay for my coffee, would you just remind me the next day?" She said, "Of course, what else would I do, chase you out to your car? That's silly."

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John McCain versus The Penguin

Not only would Burgess Meredith have loved it, he would have done it on SNL with Tina Fey. Think skit with Barackman & Biden.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The minoxidil man

Yesterday as I was walking by the Exxon station by downtown Elmora NJ, a tall, young white guy carrying a brown, plastic shopping bag approached me & asked, "Do you want to buy some Rogaine?"

That was a first. I've been offered deals on lots of different things on the street, from crack & sex to umbrellas on sunny days & kittens in shoeboxes, but never hair restorer.

It was dusk & the light wasn't so good, maybe he didn't notice that I'd need to dunk my head in a bucket of minoxidil, or have enough foamy Rogaine to coat my scalp like shaving cream.

I have hair. Sufficient hair that if I grew it long I could comb it over this way & that, in various swirls & patterns, & people could laugh at my thin follicles of vanity. I stopped trying a long time ago. I could grow a ponytail; I grew one in the 90's trying to look like a Vietnamese gangster I saw on a TV cop show. Rogaine wouldn't have helped since my mid-twenties. Although my hair's been receding & disappearing at a slow but unstoppable rate, it was during the first post-adolescent decade that I learned for sure which side of the family provided my hair genes: mom's. That's when I lost the cowlick at the front, & much more, quickly. Then the pace eased off.

Some women care much about men's hair. If you own enough of it you should have it professionally cut, it's not expensive & the cute young haircutter washes it for you, too. You must dye it, otherwise you'll never "score" like the commercials assure us men we will if we but rid ourselves of the dull gray in our hair, if not in our personalities. Older men with full, dark locks ride surfboards, play "Sunshine of Your Love" on guitar, & attract slim, blonde sixty-year old groupies wearing bikinis, oh I wish they all could be California Girls.

But most women I know anywhere around my age are too aware of the processes of time on their own bodies to make-or-break men based on the amount of hair on our heads. If a man feels better with more hair, get more hair. But there's a "ta dah" moment in every relationship when the truth has to come out about everything for both parties, the hair piece, the botox, the face stretch, the Cialis wearing off. You blow out the candles when morning arrives.

Keep the Rogaine or whatever stolen poison was in that bag. If I grew my hair back I'd have to learn to play guitar & stand up on a moving surfboard.

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Thatone for President

Think about it. What would it take for a young black senator from Illinois to best a war hero & respected senior senator from Arizona? It would take desperate times in America. The war hero would have to represent the party of an incumbent in office during a period when Americans have had a tremendous amount of shit heaped on us in under 8 years. Johnny, you have to admit, That One is a remarkable man. He might have coattails, too.

I still believe the narrowness of Barack's poll lead is entirely attributable to his skin color. A young white senator from Illinois with the same kind of personality & message would be destroying McCain/Palin at this point. Many people think this election is about specifics. It's not. It's come down to white Americans trying to find the guts to express a deep, generalized resentment. A little bit of it in '92 just enough to knock Bush I out of office. What can you do when McCain & Palin are angry, too, but for all the wrong reasons? They're not angry about the wars, or New Orleans, or gas prices, or repug corruption, or bridges falling down, or the economy. The Bush/Cheney era hasn't hurt them, except to make this election difficult to fix. It doesn't add up for those two. They're just angry that Barack has a chance of winning.

P.S. Nevermind if "that one" is red alert code for "he's the antichrist." Repugs have a lock on those voters, & those voters are certain McCain is preparing the way for the Almighty's real choice.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

When McCain mentions "Bill Ayers"

[If a 508 point stock market plummet doesn't snap tonight's debate on topic, nothing can.]

My start page has seven top five headline news feeds & until an hour ago only one was about tonight's presidential debate, BBC. Most of the other headlines suggest what McCain & Obama ought to be discussing. I wonder if McCain will do a "Palin," ignoring the questions & going directly to his agenda, which is smearing Barack Obama.

We would have to be a nation of idiots to accept this smear strategy so late in what has felt like an endless campaign. Sarah Palin was an unknown until a month ago & we still don't really know her. We've forgotten that Barack & Hillary knocked each other around for six months in the primaries. McCain largely received a pass from media because the repug nomination was decided early on & he won it mostly by default, without the Evangelical portion of the party base, & using only his "Maverick War Hero" reputation. So we didn't see McCain pushed by his competition until now. This ugly side would've come to the fore last winter had any of the other repug candidates been able to go mano-a-mano with him across the country. Imagine how much we would've learned from McCain-Giuliani showdown.

For a man who spent five years in a hellhole, McCain is not taking the pressure in stride from a young, supposedly inexperienced politician from Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii. Barack's personality makes sense when he's connected to Hawaii. He's an aloha guy. Chicago toughened him up, made him raise the level of his game. But Hawaii has a Jewish governor; a Chinese, Portuguese & Hawaiian Lieutenant Governor; Japanese-American Senator; a Chinese-American Senator; an Anglo representative; a native-born Japanese rep; a Samoan-Mormon mayor of Honolulu. Obama irrationally infuriates John McCain, & I think it's mostly the aloha part of Barack, his generosity & poise. Barack plays basketball, McCain wants to get drunk & butt heads.

Here's tonight's NCAA Division 1 Debate Drinking Game from College off-the-record:


Monday, October 06, 2008


Gregory A. Boyd: God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God.
Read this on a whim. Protestant Bible literalists - who come in 57 varieties - are forced to reconcile some contradictory passages regarding God's omnipotence & omniscience. They aren't very good at it. So they get hung up on matters of free will, predestination, foreknowledge of history, & salvation. Their churches & denominations split over those issues until they invented some of the most moronic expressions of Christianity in the history of the faith. They're uncomfortable with mystery, clueless about metaphor; the miraculous befuddles them in ways it rarely does poets & naturalists. This easy read for laypersons presents a "progressive" evangelical solution. It's an obvious middle way & one wonders why it took so long to admit it was "possible" all along. Not my way. I think it must be a hard sell to fierce Baptists & Presbyterians who consider Boyd an unrepentent liberal for this theology, & for his refusal to align his conservative religion with hard right politics.

I've never given a lot of deep thought to how God plays with unum Deum, factorem coeli et terrae powers, but I do sense play in it. I just run into paradoxes. A long essay by French philosopher Henri Bergson, Time and Free Will, originally published in 1889, was very helpful at one point. The Vatican of his day accused him of pantheism, a good recommendation. One of Alan Watts' popular Hinduism for Dummies lectures, which used to air on WFMU, offered a metaphysical suggestion that worked, to my mind, with the Judeo-Christian concept of time, & with quantum physics.

Lance Morrow: Evil: An Investigation.
Sort of. TV host Craig Ferguson likes this book So relentless in the examples he presents that I had to take a break & put it aside halfway through. Also repetitive, more a collection of essays coming at the same subject from slightly different directions. His view is traditional rather than conservative or liberal. Morrow admits he has no unique insights. He concludes that yes, there is evil, & that its opposite is hope rather than good. Didn't we already know that?

Now I need write about some novels.

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Jane Case Weaver

A memorial service was held yesterday for one of Rahway's most highly regarded & remarkable residents, Jane Case Weaver, Janie, as some called her.
She was on her bicycle Sept. 11, going to get her hair cut, when she suffered a massive heart attack, and despite efforts to revive her at the intersection of West Scott and St. Georges avenues, she died, according to her daughter, Christina Weaver. Jane Weaver was 78.
Jane was the daughter of former NJ Senator Clifford Case, or as I consider him, "The last good Republican," another legendary Rahwayan. Jane Case Weaver was an enlightened, free-spirited soul, fought against the de facto segregation in Rahway when other white residents preferred to ignore it. When I moved to Rahway, I first encountered Jane riding her bicycle & wondered who she was. I was introduced to her & she never forgot my name. She will be mourned & missed.

Jane is peeking out second from left behind her father, next to husband Bill in this photo from Election Night 1960, Jane's daughter, Christina, lower right. (click to enlarge). That was my first campaign. My dad, a repug committeeman, had me delivering flyers around his district, preferable to the option of household chores.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Newport Lights

Walking back from the 7-11 I passed two cars that had pulled over after a minor fender bender. Nothing to see there. A young woman leaned out the passenger side window of the first car & asked me, in a New York accent, "Mistah, do you have a Newpawt?" No doubt about it, that kind of event would trigger a major craving in any smoker or ex-smoker, the ex's could be excused for indulging. But specifically a Newport? I'm not sure I ever knew a male who smoked Newports. I've known plenty of female college students, poets, artists, & dancers who smoked Newport Lights, often in combination with a Diet Pepsi, the latter preferably in a cup over ice to cut the carbonation.

I recall many lovely afternoons in the company of Claudia, my painter- young mother-older woman friend (by two years, it seemed like a lot at the time), chatting in her living room about the beautiful new Minimalist Music, & lack of interesting art in Soho galleries, & which poets were underrated or overrated, while her toddler son tranced out on Sesame Street in his bedroom. Claudia was the epitome of the Newport Lights / Diet Pepsi woman, sophisticated but not snobby, feminist but not in a condition of outrage, outside categories of hippie or punk, inclined to depression by brain chemistry & life's absurdities, the latter including a premature marriage to a pleasant man that was only alright & so she sensed wouldn't survive, & ultimately didn't, but she appreciated the equilibrium & security. I liked her. We were two young artists. "My neighbors think I'm a fortuneteller," she'd say. "No, " I'd say, " they think you're a Jew because you're married to one & not a blonde." They probably also thought she was having an affair with a college guy. Claudia may have been my first real female friend, when I learned to accept, reluctantly yes, sexual attraction as something I wasn't compelled to act upon like an adolescent just because it was there, but could enjoy as a natural spice.

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Jersey City NJ

The Hebrew Home for Orphans and the Aged of Hudson and Bergen Counties.

Seems a good idea to put the orphans & the old folks near each other.
Those ladies on the left hadn't run out of hugs to give.

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Why am I awake at four-fifteen am?

Because this is when a freakin' smoke detector decided to announce the batteries were weak.
But still strong enough to squeak every 30 damned seconds.
Popped out a battery, now it'll shut up.
"Dave, what are you doing? Dave, stop."


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Strong Coffee

Check out this funny fictional letter from Gen. George "Little Mac" McClellan to Gov. Sarah Palin. He's the guy who called Lincoln a "gorilla" - something Robert E. Lee wouldn't do. Lee didn't underestimate Lincoln, but he sure took McClellan's measure.

Sara Palin attempting to link Obama to Sixties terrorism through the 65 year old philanthropic Woods Fund of Chicago is an OUTRAGEOUS SMEAR. Right out of the old Richard Nixon playbook. I mean Nixon's really old playbook circa 1950. I remember Nixon, & you, Sarah, are no Nixon. You'll pay for this, it is the worst possible political karma for you right now.

Woke up with tension headache across my forehead & in neck, I hate that. I'm in bed asking myself why before I get up:
  1. Too cold in the apartment last night. Heat not on yet.
  2. Need new pillows.
  3. Eyestrain.
  4. Final intake of caffeine yesterday in form of hot chocolate was earlier than usual.
  5. Strange Dream.
Only cure is to get up, put on socks & flannel shirt, take an aspirin with the coffee. Hitting snooze button won't help. In the dream, a yappy little dog chased a couple of mice around a room, caught a squeaky one near a fireplace, & ate it. A bit gross, but not a nightmare; I was amused by the dog, even proud of it, & I have no love for house mice.

I passed on calling a taxi to get to the dentist yesterday when I realized the rather bleak-looking day was excellent for the mile+ walk. The clouds broke open on the way home. As expected, the dentist, a short, attractive Polish woman, was not delighted to see me, but courteous & professional. She had my chart & there was nothing to do but ask her to put the insurance request through once again & have new x rays taken. The outcome didn't change. She knows I won't be a regular customer. The oral surgeon she brings in every other Saturday is getting a big piece of the insurance, but she doesn't have to refer her patients elsewhere & hope they come back. I have to trust her experience. Her office is no frills but she looks & acts competent, & touches you carefully. She doesn't advertise; name, addess, phone in yellow pages. No neon sign in her window, no happy smile posters hanging in her small waiting room, no grab for the off-the-street whitening & bonding business. She has a large, loyal clientele that somehow found her, & two professional people I trusted highly recommended her. My guess is she makes oodles of money taking any kind of insurance, working hard, & keeping her overhead low, & she flies to Poland every year & dispenses many gifts to her relatives.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

The morning after

The morning after she was worse than she appeared last night. Coached to run the time out in a format that wouldn't pressure her to answer the questions. We've watched debates in which the candidates were frustrated because they couldn't hit & explain all their points. Not only was Palin trying to avoid answering questions (& largely succeeding), she often got her information wrong when she did answer them. If our expectations are that a candidate ought to be able to give a good account of her knowledge & experience, whatever her actual views, & not simply survive the 90 or so minutes without saying something undeniably bizarre, there's almost nothing good one can say about Sarah Palin's performance. She was awful. On reflection, a lot of people must be thinking that this morning. How can one pass a test by refusing to take it?

I'd like to see an interview where Palin is asked all those questions again, assured that she won't be rebutted, but that she'll have all time she needs to answer them, & we're willing to wait until she does, even if there are long moments of silence while she gathers her thoughts.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Two years outta Nowheresville

Although I spent the debate in an online chat with other liberals & found plenty not to like in what Sarah Palin said & how she said it, I couldn't find anything that would upset me if I weren't predisposed to loathing her. A TV debate favors canned answers. Joe Biden, expectedly, was better at making his sound a little less scripted. Obviously there wasn't much depth beneath Palin's statements, she really was sliding on the surface, & there were moments when if she had another minute I think she would have run out of factoids & phrases & babbled something really stupid. Her ramble around the topic of education was especially frustrating because that's one area where she ought to have shown off some personal knowledge & not ignored the question. So while she didn't know much about anything, or bother to pretend she did, nobody thought she would, & she showed confidence & poise in saying whatever she wanted to say regardless of what she was asked (she's not as insecure as liberals believe). Those rather than policy points are what stick. Both she & Joe came across as what they are; a young pro & an old pro. Overall I'd guess she "lost" the debate; that is, she won't bounce the poll numbers either way but she can still hurt the campaign. The only "win" for her is if media turns off the spotlight, & I doubt that will happen. But in the meantime we're back to McCain vs. Obama.

The stories of all VPs who suddenly became president are the same ( except LBJ, who had big ears & x-ray vision); they were pretty much clueless when they took the oath. Other men closer to the president were more prepared, but they weren't in the line of succession. Presidential candidates don't choose running mates on the assumption the VP will take over. If they did, they'd usually choose better. They wouldn't choose Andrew Johnson or Harry Truman, who were among the least "qualified" available. We're very fortunate that many of our presidents completed their terms, even when they were mediocre presidents. If Palin expects to learn on the job, I don't think McCain is inclined to teach her. There isn't a darned thing he'd turn to her for, he doesn't look comfortable with women, & I think she'd be merely decorative in his administration. But then it's remarkable that we've had two VPs in a row who weren't kept out of the decision process, the current VP arguably a decision-maker.

Maybe one Palin negative I couldn't pick up on was this: If she came across as genuinely "small town," even people from small towns might sense that she's probably still too small for the job she's seeking. If you've known small town mayors, you'll know it would take a very, very long climb for them to reach the White House, & Sarah left Nowheresville only two years ago.

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I surrender.

I'm having my bad teeth taken out. I haven't a remote or cowardly rationale remaining to put it off. I knew this was inevitable 15 years ago, & decided then what the window would be for it happening, & I'm in that window, been in it for awhile, fiddling around & delaying for reasons good & bad. Now the good reasons are finished. Twice I had the insurance approval, & twice I decided not yet, didn't regret the first & only slightly the second. I'm a little sorry for not doing it over the summer, but this season is OK, better than January. I have to go through it alone with support from friends online, that's my current situation in this city & I'll work with it. It's a six week process & the whole middle part is just waiting & drinking a lot of high calorie smoothies. I don't have a toothy grin to protect or preserve, never did, you will not find that kind of smile in any photo of me going back to childhood. Even then when I was happy I tended to look a bit stoned.

I have a major birthday this year, nobody's throwing me a gala at a theater or making me Poet Laureate of the Boardwalk; I deserve the latter honor, the laurel wreath ceremony should wait until next summer, & I wouldn't show up without a functional set of teeth anyway, as I would expect a buffet sampling of my favorite boardwalk treats.

I also vowed to clean my apartment. I mean clean, not just pick stuff off the floor. & also take the comforter to the laundromat with the big machines. Despite the messy pile of dirty clothes on the floor in front of the closet, there's always clean clothes in the closet. But that blanket doesn't fit in the washer downstairs.

The Haitian couple in the adjacent apt had one of their rare domestic arguments today. She does 90% of the yelling. It's in creole, but I can tell she repeats words & phrases, laying into him over something, he loudly grunts, after he's taken enough he starts yelling back, then they slowly quiet down. The two kids weren't there. She got so mad once that she locked him out & he literally broke the door in, I wasn't around for that event, heard the story when I arrived home & Louie the Guy Who Fixes Stuff was repairing the door. I think it was so embarassing to them - they're church people, plus the landlord may have charged them for the door - that nothing like it has occurred since.

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Let's see, the VP debate starts at 9, probably goes about 90 minutes followed by 1/2 hour of spin & dross I'd skip anyway unless something really wacky happened, '& the equally important Dodgers-Cubs game begins at 9:30, that'll work out alright. I can tune in the game during the debate's commercial timeouts.

Bluegrass great Ralph Stanley recorded an Obama radio spot that's running in southwest Virginia. Everybody down that way must know Ralph's a Democrat - he proudly voted for Harry Truman - it' s good to have Obama connected with Ralph's fine music. .

If Sen. Jim DeMint says the bailout is socialism & Sen. Bernie Sanders won't vote for it, how socialist is it? Read Bernie's interview.
Bank of America which is the nation's largest depository institution has taken over Country Wide, which is the nation's largest mortgage lender and they've absorbed Merrill Lynch, the nation's largest brokerage house. Now you tell me what happens in five years if Bank of America teeters, do you have a doubt for a second that they're going to have to be bailed out?
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT
I don't want to raise Jeff Jotz's Touchdown Jesus hopes too much, but I just looked at the Notre Dame schedule & even a football dummy like me sees they could run the table between this weekend & the USC finale. & who can say what shape USC will be in by then.

"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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