Monday, February 28, 2011

people in this world

Chapter I
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
... In consequence I'm inclined to reserve all judgements....
[end excerpt -- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald]
Last Friday, was posting about the Culture Fair & joking about "WASP" stereotypes.
Checked internet to see how they define WASP, or if it was even referred to --
I found the Wikipedia definition / description to be wanting, and unbalanced.
It says,
"White Anglo-Saxon Protestant or WASP is an informal term, often disparaging, for a closed group of high-status Americans usually of British descent with a Protestant background who supposedly wield disproportionate financial and social power."
--------------- Whew! I need to lie down!
Besides being a run-on sentence, that long, choppy, exhausting claim seems out-of-whack, to me.

As I understand it, "WASP" means what the letters stand for -- and yes, it probably came about because of some kind of -- needing to label a certain group of people. They're the people who do not usually get labeled, and my understanding, from very small and humble background, is it means you are more fortunate than some people simply because there doesn't tend to be "prejudice against" you, and partly because of this, you have an obligation to be concerned with
a sense of fair play, and
a low-key, inclusive patriotism.

Obligation, not privilege.
The privileges which come with wealth are available to anyone, of any race, color, or creed, who can make the Money.
When Wikipedia says it's "disparaging" -- that's a strong word. The word "WASP" doesn't carry much "sting" (pardon pun) -- and then it says, "a closed group" --
what are they talkin' about??
There isn't a closed group, that I'm aware of.
And then it says, "high-status."
I don't even know what that means.
I mean, I know it's a word, but I get the feeling that the Wikipedia description is using it in a non-legitimate way -- to sort of whack people over the head with...

The "WASP" term only means that your ancestors came from England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, basically.
Does that give anyone any "status"? Well, in earlier times, some people believed that coming from "an old family" was something. Where they know the family history...
The way I see it, where one's ancestors came from may be a point of family pride, as in being proud of your own family's adventures and accomplishments, but it isn't a way to be "better than" anyone else, if that is what "status" is supposed to denote. History's just history; it's past. What is meaningful in the present, is how we treat one another, and the work we do.

If I look at my family background & compare with an Hispanic friend, the case could be made that England simply got tired of my ancestors centuries before Mexico got tired of hers! -- i.e., maybe my ancestors were just more obnoxious than hers...?!

Wikipedia is a great tool, for fast reference to things you want to check out, but it isn't totally accurate. It's just people sending in the info that they know, or think they know.
It's an interesting resource, but it "ain't gospel."
(Think maybe the guy who wrote that got the word "WASP" mixed up with the word "parochial snob.")
[Gatsby] -- Reserving
judgements is a matter
of infinite hope.

Friday, February 25, 2011

white bread and martini

Recently in the town where I live they had a Culture Fair.
This is a new tradition, as of the last few years, when a number of Hispanic and Asian (Karen and Maung) people have come to our community.
The poster invited people to share aspects of their culture.

Dances, traditional costumes, fabulous gourmet foods, presentations about cultural traditions -- it's always great.

But WASPS usually see themselves in a facetious light, when thinking of events like this. We usually want to see the other cultures, which seem exotic to us, because they are new (new to us).
But -- what would we bring to a Culture Fair?

Dishes of cottage cheese with a slice of pineapple?
Sandwiches made with white bread, cut into triangular quarters?
Funny golf clothes?
Maybe a presentation on how WASPS change a light bulb -- it takes two, one to call the electrician, and one to mix the martinis.
(Kinda lies there like a lead balloon, doesn't it? LOL)
Or -- only mildly amusing -- GAL
[giggling a little]

That is the only "WASP joke" that I know:
How many WASPS does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to mix the martinis, and one to call the electrician.
The answer can go the other way around --
Two. One to call the electrician, and one to mix the martinis.

I haven't been able to make a ruling on which way is funnier.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

ever have the feeling

Big Jim was no one's fool; he owned the town's only diamond mine.
He made his usual entrance, lookin' so dandy and so fine...
--Bob Dylan
"Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts"
Blood on the Tracks LP

Ever have the feeling that you're just suspended in a moment, with a question mark over your head? (Like in the comic strips -- the question mark is in a bubble over your head, with a little comma-shaped thing pointing to you....)

I've never had Satellite TV; I don't live in the country, so I've only just had regular cable, at times. ... I was aware of, but not personally familiar with, the variety of options when people have the multitude of satellite channels.

...A cloudy summer evening, some years ago, I stopped by someone's house, by invitation -- on my way to an out-of-town meeting happening the next day.
In the living room, on a black leather sofa, he was lying with a remote in his hand, switching back and forth between two channels on a large TV which sat over in the corner, by the fireplace.

He clicked bakc and forth -- a minute on one station, maybe 45 seconds on the other -- back and forth.
One of the channels was playing a "religious" program (send your check to this address!)
and the other channel had
hard-core pornography.
(He was like, "Why is there a question mark hovering above your head?" -- ha, not really...)

I don't know what I expected, that evening,
but I know it wasn't that.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

accent-u-ate the positive

The Glass Steagall Act
by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.
"Gramm" is Phil Gramm, former U.S. Senator from Texas.
I met him, once.
1996, Gramm was a peripheral candidate for president in early primaries -- he and, I think, one or two other candidates dropped by our state legislature.

Presidential candidates are always in a hurry.

A pair of swinging doors between our House of Representatives and the lobby flew open, and Senator Gramm, after only a second's hesitation to get his bearings -- (which way outta here?) -- came toward me, fast. Smiling, and eager, he had a curious posture -- first, there's this face coming at you, and beyond that, the neck, craning forward, and then the body, hurrying to catch up.
------------------------- (At that time, I didn't know he'd been a college professor at Texas A & M; reading that info now, I can totally imagine him being that type -- leaning forward, hurrying, bearing down on you..."Where's my chalk?")
That day in 1996, the senator came straight to me because I was the only person in the lobby at the moment. On an antique wooden desk in the House lobby, there would be a huge three-ring binder, with every House bill and resolution inside, so you could look things up, and read every bill to make sure it wouldn't adversely affect your client(s).

I had gone into the lobby to listen to the itinerant, unreasonably optimistic, marginal primary candidates, and read bills at same time.
Meet-and-greet; grip-and-grin;
that's what you do when you campaign. Personal contact with as many people as possible. And when there's only one, you greet her, on your way to the
exit, and the

Smiling, intent, radiating enthusiasm; he shook my hand, looking for all the world as if he'd been waiting his whole life just to meet me.
For some reason the enthusiasm and energy of politicians, which is not really based on anything logical or reasonable, resonates with me.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

memories of you

Sidney Lumet,
Making Movies;
Janis Joplin,
Joplin In Concert
Dawning realization over past few months -- the Glass Steagall Act was something they ("THEY") passed in the 1930s in response to the Depression -- to make banks more secure, and stable. The Glass Steagall Act was in effect all those years, from early 1930s until sometime in recent years when Congress got rid of it -- repealed it -- and lo and behold, what do we have in banking sector and Economy --?? Catastrophic Instability. (Hello?!)
---------------- It sounds to me like one of those situations where it "wasn't broke" and they tried to "fix" it. ...
I had only peripheral awareness of the Glass Steagall Act -- recently when someone commented on a story in NY Times, they mentioned the G.S. Act, and it looked somehow familiar, but only vaguely.
(You know how it feels when you hear of something and you know you've heard of it, but only rarely and long ago, & you know that you never think about it?
Halston, or
lowest common denominator, or
arteries. ...)
(I like to trace knowledge and impressions -- where do they come from? How do I know this? How do you know that?) --
Glass Steagall Act:
Note 1. Think I have an overall (and simplistic) concept of the Great Depression of the 1930s because my mother and father remembered it from their childhoods. (My parents were a little older than the average age of my friends' parents, and consequently I had a feeling of knowing different things from what other people my age knew -- partly because my mom & dad were a little older and so had memories of an earlier decade, & also because they would talk about it.
When you're a little kid, if there's any influential adult in your life who has a sense of story and will Talk -- past you, rather than "down to" you -- it's a gift, and it's something no one can ever take away from you.)
From television, books, and family, my Idea of "the Depression" was --
everyone was poor,
it was terrible,
there was widespread unemployment and even hunger
in America,
things were in black-and-white (?!), and
after it was over the government made some laws and rules and fixed things up so that it could
never happen again.
I remember wondering what the "stock market crash" was -- pictured a rack of clothing on wheels rolling fast, and crashing into something ...
and I asked and my mother explained it in some kind of way that I could understand.
The main thing, to me, was -- that
That was what I wanted -- assurance, or reassurance.
Everything is OK, now.
Bad things, like Hitler and the Depression, happened in the
but they don't happen Anymore.
This is the Modern World.
(This is the key to being a natural optimist: total ignorance -- right?!)
So now I think the law they passed so that it could
was surely the Glass Steagall Act.
Later when we had to learn it in school --
high school, probably,
college, probably, -- maybe even junior high --
memorizing, to answer test questions correctly --
it made a lasting impression on me because I had the feeling that this was the thing that created the letters "FDIC" and made Banks and the Economy Stable, and Sound. So that people could Work Hard and Make Money and Make Progress and Succeed In Life.
It was the idea of -- in America we have capitalism (way better than communism!) and we have a free market, but the government has to help, too, because if you don't have laws & FDICs and such, some people will get carried away, and then you have a Stock Market Crash, and stockbrokers jumping out windows. And you don't want that.
------------ So then, jumping ahead in time, from 4th grade forward to Grown-Up Life; when I was working as a lobbyist, in the 90s, in our state capital a guy talked to me about Congress changing something in the law which would allow financial institutions which are not banks to offer some of the same services banks offer. He said it was a bad deal, because these Other Financial Institutions would not have to abide by the same rules and restrictions, and meet the same requirements, as Banks do.
In lobbying, that's called the problem of the "level playing field."
Often the thing someone's lobbying for is something which will skew the "playing field" in their favor so they can make more money.
(That's why it's easier to kill a bill than to pass one. And -- you WANT it to be that way.
---------Some people complain about Congress and their state legislatures and say, "They don't get anything done." Sometimes it's better that they "don't get anything done." All the stuff that gets proposed -- you don't want it "all" to "get done," believe me!)
The guy who told me that, about the new federal regulation -- or deregulation -- I wish I could remember him -- think he was one of the lobbyists for bankers in our state, or maybe their association head, or both. (He was only talking to me because I was there -- not because I could do anything about his issue.) I didn't have a thorough understanding of what he was talking about at the time, partly because you get so busy worrying about the things you're paid to worry about -- but now, looking back on that elusive, cloudy memory -- I-bet-5-dollars-I-don't-have-right-now, that what he was worrying-about / referring-to, was the Glass Steagall Act.
Checking facts, discover: Congress repealed GSA in 1999, & that would coincide with time-period in which that Lobby Conversation would have occurred.
That brief conversation from 12 or 13 years in the past, together with my then very superficial picture of what it meant, has been coming into focus recently -- like turning a dial and getting the Picture Clear.

Friday, February 18, 2011

tell me fancy, tell me plain

Marilyn Monroe said (or rather, sang) that
"Diamonds are a girl's best friend."
Men named "diamond" are at the pinnacle of the
with banks,
and the Economy,
and the recession / depression...
Pinnacle of -- what?
Jamie Dimon, of JPMorgan Chase, and
Robert E. Diamond Jr., of the British bank Barclays...

Are "diamonds" a bank's best friend?
Are these guys anyone's friends?

to try to Understand -- reading article, "The Ruinous Fiscal Impact of big Banks"
written by Simon Johnson, who is the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (what's that? / sounds good)...
article was published February 3rd of this year...
[excerpt / beginning]
----------------------------------The newly standard line from big global banks has two components -- as seen clearly in the statements of Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and Robert E. Diamond Jr. of the British bank Barclays at Davos last weekend.

First, if you regulate us, we'll move to other countries. And second, the public policy priority should not be banks but rather the spending cuts needed to get budget deficits under control in the United States, Britain and other industrialized countries.

This rhetoric is misleading at best. At worst it represents a blatant attempt to shake down the public purse.
-----------------------------[end excerpt]

I can tell you fancy, I can tell you plain
You give something up for everything you gain
Since every pleasure's got an edge of pain
Pay for your ticket and don't complain

Silvio, silver and gold
Won't buy back the beat of a heart grown cold
Silvio, I gotta go, go
Find out something only dead men know...
[Bob Dylan, "Silvio," from
the 1988 album,
Down in the Groove]

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eat the Glass Steagall Act

[from Eat This, Not That!
by David Zinczenko, with Matt Goulding]
--------------------Waiting for some good news that...reveals a shiny silver lining...? We've got it for you. The past 3 years have been a challenge -- both in the United States and around the world -- thanks to what appears to be a small group of balding men in suits and ties with private jets and mysterious jobs and the magic power to make everyone else's money instantly disappear.

How do they do that?
Well, we're still working on an answer to that one. We're not quite sure what happened to the other half of our 401(k), except that it had something to do with things called credit-default swaps, subprime loans, and the Glass Steagall Act, which only the very smart guys who lost all the money in the first place supposedly comprehend. (And we thought understanding "high-fructose corn syrup" was a challenge.) But we do know that when the economy gets tough, the tough do one smart thing: They cook at home.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

man the ships

...After sunset in the gathering dark
we went to sleep above the wash of ripples.

When the young dawn with finger tips of rose
touched the world, I roused the men, gave orders
to man the ships, cast off the mooring lines;
and filing in to sit beside the rowlocks
oarsmen in line dipped oars in the grey sea.
So we moved out, sad in the vast offing,
having our precious lives, but not our friends.
[the year 800 B.C.E,
epic poem "The Odyssey"
by Greek poet, Homer -
translated / Robert
excerpt, from Book IX]

Monday, February 14, 2011

a poem about work and leisure

a poem about work and leisure
"take 2 (days)"

LEISURE gives us a break from WORK.
WORK gives us a break from LEISURE.
The WEEKEND offers freedom and catch-up.
MONDAY offers Opportunity for Accomplishment.
LEISURE gives us a break from WORK.
WORK gives us a break from LEISURE.
Need a break from quiet; give me hustle / bustle.
Need a break from Have-To; give me
Unscheduled Time, no requests or demands
Need a break from mountains
Give me plains
Need a break from flatlands;
Gotta have Mountains!
Need a break from the Rolling Stones
Put on Ellis Marsalis "Heart of Gold" CD
and let it play smooth
like trickle of a brook
in the woods
in the spring
in the quiet
under your feet
when you stand on the little
and hear the cool
on a quiet
and when you're Back to Busy in the City
and the Office and the Manufacturing
and the Go and Hurry
and Another Day In Paradise
and that's great too when you
hit your stride
and feel the pride
and anyway when you get enough
of sophisticated slow jazz
play Rock Island Line
for a break
like the
Work - Leisure Break Routine


Friday, February 11, 2011


(re: yesterday's post)
Jacqueline Kennedy wrote in a scrapbook for her children,
"Remember how much your father and mother loved poetry. Daddy wouldn't have been what he was without his love for language."
"He's a silly bastard.
I wouldn't hire him to run a -- cathouse."
----------------------Now, THERE'S a "love" for "language" ! : ) : )
[excerpt from The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, by Caroline Kennedy]:

As a child, the poems I loved best were those where the distance isn't far between the world we live in and an entirely different and magical one. My mother sparked this interest by making those poems part of our daily lives, awakening in us a sense of limitless possibility. When we drove past the East River in Manhattan and saw the tugboats pushing their barges, we would talk about all the faraway places to go, and how other travelers had gotten there. She would quote lines from The Odyssey and "Sailing to Byzantium" by W.B. Yeats.

...My mother lived her life with a spirit of adventure. She loved to ride horses at full gallop, explore faraway places, and read about those who approached life the same way. She shared this love of heroic adventure with my father.

One poem that was special to both of them was Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Ulysses." My mother had memorized it with her grandfather when she was ten years old. She introduced it to my father, who often quoted from it in his speeches, and later the poem became identified with my uncle Bobby as well.

from "ULYSSES" --
Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world...
...for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Off all the western stars, until I die...
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are, --
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
-------------------------[end Excerpt]
"Remember how much your father and mother loved poetry. Daddy wouldn't have been what he was without his love for language."


Thursday, February 10, 2011

are they crazy up there?

music CD by band called
Ten Years After.
blog called That's Why,
(Lisa G.) - Feb. 9 post.
JOHN F. KENNEDY TAPES: A "F***-up" over Furniture
Under that title on You Tube,
a conversation between President Kennedy and an Air Force General:
the situation was -- Mrs. Kennedy was going to have a baby soon (this is summer, 1963) -- and a room was reserved at an Air Force hospital and some folks at the hospital got carried away with the excitement and ordered in special furniture from Jordan Marsh (the department store) & some Air Force guy had his photograph taken in the room -- the picture got into the press, and the you-know-what started hitting the fan from the Oval Office --
Kennedy didn't want extra expense and special furniture and the attendant negative publicity, and he seemed offended at both the invasion of privacy & even more at the -- silliness, the triviality of personal details of the First Lady's accommodations being fussed over, exaggerated, celebrated, and put in the press.
Plus, it would look like the military's wasting money on personal stuff, & the Pentagon's budget might as well be cut, according to some in Congress --
Can't blame him.
The conversation is hilarious.
"see that fellas picture by the bed --
and that furniture they bought from Jordan Marsh?
what the hell have they --
are they crazy up there?...
You just sank the Air Force budget!
--that silly bastard with his picture next to the bed....
Furniture back to Jordan Marsh's --
I mean, he's a silly bastard
I wouldn't have him running a -- cathouse - !
Is he crazy too?
Christ, they're not all incompetents...
...and all in that funny (in a good way) Boston Irish / Harvard accent which sounds terse and yet lilting at the same time -- like a jolly song, even though he's so Ticked Off. ! It's

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

they have more money

Love and Theft CD,
Bob Dylan
The New York Times,
"We Are All Egyptians"
(Nicholas D. Kristof)
The New York Times,
"Speakers' Corner on the Nile"
(Thomas L. Friedman)
F. Scott Fitzgerald:
"The rich are different from you and me."
Ernest Hemingway:
"Yes, they have more money."
My father used to tell that story.
Later, somewhere I heard or read that the true origin of that exchange was this:
Ernest Hemingway said to Dorothy Parker (another writer of the 1920s - 30s, etc. Era),
"The rich are different from you and me."
And Dorothy Parker gave the gently sarcastic rejoinder,
"Yes. They have more money."
That tricky Ernest Hemingway "re-wrote" the anecdote and re-told it to all the "literati" he could find, giving himself the punch-line!

(The Hemingway book I want to read is, A Moveable Feast. ...)


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

the age of omelets

Eat This, Not That!
a book by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding
I'm a fan!
It's a useful handbook --
10 foods you should eat every day:
eggs; green tea; garlic; grapefruit; Greek yogurt; avocado; quinoa; bell peppers; almonds; Swiss chard --
with substitutes listed for each...
Foods for Energy --
Foods that cure --
Foods to help us feel more relaxed and less stressed --
Carrots! Yes!
Flaxseed! Already putting it on salad, 4 x / week!
it isn't a "diet" to be "on," and then go "off of"
and then we're right back ...
It's a Lifestyle.

The heart of their theory is -- eat an actual potato, rather than potato thing-a-ma-jigs from fast-food-restaurant...
just -- actual food
that's really appealing to me, right now
Going to learn to fix sweet potatoes,
because my man David,
and my man Matt --
say so.

Garlic -- good on several fronts -- fights cancer; strengthens cardiovascular system; decreases fat storage; promotes healthy skin, and helps keep us -- (I'm assuming) -- vampire-free.
This is totally my trusty handbook.


Monday, February 7, 2011

avoid quicksand

A couple of times recently, have thought:
is the main Thing in life.
What can we do?
What is possible?
What can I (/we) get done, today?
What's do-able?
It goes back to the quotation which says,
"Politics is the art of the possible" --
and a person right away thinks,
Hello, that's Life.
Life is the art of the possible - !
Of course -- some people might misunderstand the idea & start applying the idea of, "Is it possible?" to a lot of things, & answer himself, "No! It isn't!"
--------------- I think one wants the idea of "possible" to be taken in the sense of -- possibilities. Like -- "Could we do that? Is it possible? Maybe...let's try it!" And -- make a plan.
-------------NOT -- answering every single idea with, "No. It isn't possible."
Then we would just be mired in nay-saying, sinking in quicksands of "can't."


Friday, February 4, 2011

what's wrong with Hosni Mubarak?

"I'm just explaining to him that if the press sees
sex and drugs behind
the left hand,
you could park a battle carrier behind
the right hand, and
no one's gonna f----n' notice."
--[dialogue from the movie Charlie Wilson's War]
.................... Thinking about Egypt makes me think of that movie.
Reading yesterday or day before, news reports and comments from other readers, learned:
++ Hosni Mubarak has been in power 30 years
++ It's not a democracy: it's authoritarian (totalitarian? -- is that different?)
++ There's no minimum wage in Egypt, so most people work hard and are very poor.
++ Only a small number of people in Egypt make a lot of money, and they are the "friends and cronies" of Mr. Mubarak.
++ In the street protest situation currently going on, there are 3 entities:
1. demonstrators, who want Mubarak out, & to have democracy
2. group of people who support Mubarak and sounds like they're picking fights with the demonstrators, and
3. the army; they're watching. (Or -- that's what they were doing when I was reading.

That country's citizens are having a "Network" Moment: like in that movie, they are having the feeling of, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
On some spots / You Tube, people are Commenting in:
"Power to the people"
"We are all Egyptians"
------------ ok
[Charlie Wilson's War]:
-- It's not that simple -- when an Afghan freedom fighter gets captured, it can't be with an American made weapon on him. That's how a Cold War turns into an actual war, & that's something you want to keep a good eye on.
-- So anything we give them, has to look like it could've plausibly been captured from the Soviets.
-- You know who's good at that?
-- Israel and Egypt.
-- That's right.
That film chronicles the covert war in Afghanistan during the 1980s, when the U.S. allied with Israel, Egypt, & Pakistan, to help the Afghan freedom fighters drive the Soviet communists out of their country.
(And the minute the communists left, terrorists moved into the vacuum...):
In the film the CIA guy says, "The crazies have started rollin' into Kandahar like it's a fuckin' bathtub drain...."
-- You're going to be our man inside the Israeli Parliament.
-- I'm not in the Israeli Parliament.
-- That's what's gonna make you so effective!
[that's why I love this film...]

-- We're gonna need your arm around Menachem when he finds out that we're workin' with Egypt and the Saudis.
the process
of forming the alliance...

NOW -- the alliances shift.
What happens in Egypt affects Israel, and all the relationships over there -- it will re-balance, for better or worse, whole world, in some way.
Mubarak may be a louse, but things can always get worse, that's the problem.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

get your ticket at the station

Had an epiphany about the "Information Age" --
on the Internet, you can find answers
to questions
you didn't ask.
It allows you to be in a proactive position in a different way than people could, before.
When I found the song
"Rock Island Line"
on You Tube, and listened to various versions of it --
I remembered
that I had thought of that song in two other contexts in my entire life.
Once when I was a very small child, someone -- an adult -- said,
"The rock island line!"
In sort of a rhythmic, strong, enthusiastic way.
And I remembered it, for some reason.
It sounded interesting, or kind of exciting, or -- like something you should find out about.

But I never did --
and then later when I was maybe in junior high, there was this commercial for a collection of records you could send away for: hit songs by a variety of artists -- and they would play just two or three lines from each song, to entice peole to buy the collection -- and one of the songs was Johnny Cash, "Oh the Rock Island Line is a mighty good road, yeah the Rock Island Line is the road to ride..."

His distinctive, compelling voice would catch my attention, & I would wonder about that song.
And then now -- 700,000 years later, somehow I accidentally happen across the song on You Tube -- now I finally get to hear it - !
It was like -- I had wondered about the song,
and then the Internet answers what I had wondered about.
answers the unasked question.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

ride it like you find it

Oh that Rock Island Line is a mighty good road,
Oh that Rock Island Line is the road to ride,
Yes that Rock Island Line is a might good road,
If you want to ride, you got to ride it like you find it,
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line.

Jesus died to save our sins -- hooray to God,
We're going to meet him again!


I may be right and I may be wrong,
You know you're gonna miss me when I'm gone.


A B C W X Y X,
Cat's in the cupboard, but they don't see me!

Now that Rock Island Line is a might good road,
Oh that Rock Island Line is the road to ride,
Yeah that Rock Island Line is a might good road,
And if you want to ride, you got to ride it like you find it,
Get your ticket at the station on the Rock Island Line.

play the version uploaded by
"Rock Island Line - Lonnie Donegan and his Skiffle Group"
on You Tube
(there's a picture of a record spinning on a turntable)
Like Lead Belly, this guy gets a lot of power out of just voice & guitar -- no electric, no drums...and every time he sings the chorus he takes it a little faster - !

Scroll down, one of the first few Comments says, "My Dad had this record, and my brother and I wore it out!"


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

jump down turn around

Rock Island Line led to other Lead Belly tunes (including "Hitler Blues").
Led to song called
"Pick a Bale of Cotton" --
--------------it's such a curious feeling / sensation to hear something you haven't heard since you were in high school,
or middle school,
or grade school,
or before you were ever in school,
and have not thought of
(this keeps happening to me, with You Tube)
----------------------------the Remembrance comes out of your own mind, and heart, and you really forgot it was there. It's like --
opening your purse and finding you have $500,000 in there that you forgot about,
like --
I cannot name it.
am all out of descriptions
"Pick a bale of Cotton":
a song -- you can find a variety of renditions on You Tube
it's a classic of Lead Belly; the
Lonnie Donegan version
tripped a sleeping flower in my brain files to wake up and it's like looking into
a television set
and seeing myself, knowing that other little kids & I
learned to sing this song--
and it was before I was in kindergarten
AND -- have not thought of it, or heard the song, since --

that appreciation and love which many middle class Americans had for the folk music of 50s / early 60s got sort of closed down and hidden away in the face of
advancing wave of
psychedelic rock
protest marches
uncertainty about the war
controversy about a variety of social issues and customs
three assassinations
...was like, the happy, bouncy Folk music kind of
didn't express all that, and it got set aside
like white shoes after labor day.
People needed boots.

and anyway, hearing this unbelievably peppy, soaring version of
"Pick a bale..."
by Lonnie Donegan
gave me the gift of Remembering, and Totally Knowing
that at a pre-kindergarten age, I learned, with other children, to sing this,
and -- as I listen now, to

"Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton;
jump down, turn around, pick a bale a day"

I know for a sure thing
that back then, I was singing,
"Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton;
jump down, turn around, pick a bale of hay" - !!
--- (instead of bale-a-day...)

[what was I doing?? proposing diversification in the agricultural sector of the economy,
at the age of 4?
...just messing up the words - !]