Wednesday, November 30, 2011

'Twas in another lifetime

A crashing, rolling, frightening Thunderstorm happened the night of the Fourth of July the year I was 10 or 11 years old. A fireworks display at the Hudson Plaza in Ohio -- you would, like, sit in your car in this big shopping mall parking lot & watch the fireworks.

(I suppose everyone would have sat on their cars, or on the grass if it hadn't been storming.)

Or -- how was it? Did the storm come later, as the fireworks ended & everyone headed for home? Or did those northeastern Ohio patriots set off big professional-size fireworks right during a Thunderstorm? Not sure...

But for some reason I could never forget the excitement / danger of the evening: going to see fireworks! - excitement!
A ferocious thunder-and-lightning Rainstorm! - danger!

It was an intense, stormy, loud, dark, lightning-flashed, sloshy slashy wet drive home.

And the next day I woke up to find out that the largest tree in the backyard had been hit by lightning and was now horizontal instead of vertical. You could actually do more things with the tree in that position. A while later it got moved out of there, but temporarily the tree was more fun than when it was upright -- you could climb it better, & the branches with their outer tips touching the ground, made a space that was clubhouse-like. Or maybe a -- "fort."

Having the tree down seemed exciting and new, and strange -- and fun.
How unexpected!
How fascinating!
Let's go!

And on that same summer morning I learned that a young woman from our church was killed the night before in the storm. She and her boyfriend were driving and there was a tree down across the road and they didn't see it until too late and crashed into it. They were both killed.

I didn't know her personally; only knew her face from church, and her name, Karen (something) was familiar, at the time.
She had a mother and a grandmother who came to church also. There didn't seem to be any man -- any father -- around, just mother and grandmother, and Karen. She had dark brunette hair and pale, light skin. (When a person who sells make-up / skin-care "does your colors" they call that type a "winter" ...)

The death was shocking news. Someone else's tragedy, but nearby. Caused by the same thunderstorm we had driven home in.

And I remember my father, who was the minister, returning home, that day or maybe another day, from visiting Karen's mother and grandmother -- the standard (I imagine) consoling, being there for the people, pray if they want it...
and when he got home he was unloading to my mother -- he was concerned / aggravated because he had the impression that the mother and grandmother -- this unprotected family of women -- were leaning toward buying (selecting?) funeral (what's the word, "accessories"? "products"?) that were more expensive than what they could sensibly afford.

Like -- the most expensive coffin, or whatever.
A person would be sort of -- expressing their grief, and acting out their shock, by -- spending a lot, by Getting The Best -- "Nothing's too good for Karen!" ...

I think he felt like the funeral person -- funeral director? undertaker? -- was -- either steering, guiding, these bereaved & shocked women toward spending more money than they could really afford, for profit's sake, OR -- at any rate, not steering them -- failing to guide them toward a sensible, realistic decision.
Fine line, maybe.

Maybe it's good for people to spend a lot and let part of the Grief Pressure out, that way.
But I think my father felt like, "Sure, now you're bereaved and shocked; by this time next week you're gonna be bereaved & shocked & broke." He didn't want to see that, and yet there was probably nothing he could properly say.
(Can hardly come out with, "Hey ladies! This dude be rippin' you off...!")

The sun was very bright, the morning after that storm.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

seat by the Eastern wall

"Well! I think that's been absolutely smashing!"
said Bridget Jones's mother (mum) in a passage from The Edge Of Reason, sequel to the Diary.

"Absolutely smashing" would be a fun phrase to integrate into our American way to speaking but we don't...some things are just -- British.

"petrol" for gas
"mobile" for cell phone
"lift" for elevator
etc. etc.
It's the same language, and yet different...

"Absolutely smashing!"
"Absolute smashing...!"

I don't think it's a sell.
I like it when they say it, though.

I think, sometimes, about the difference between a day when you go to work and a day when you don't.
The thing is imperative.
When you have to be at work -- get to work -- it's an imperative. A thing you have to do, by a certain time. It's a push. An imperative.

When you like your job and the people you work with, and it gets to be Friday and you are HAPPY that it's about to be the Weekend, and you ask yourself, "Why am I happy to not come back here for two days? I LIKE to work here. I don't not-like to come to work, so why is the weekend then such a Joy?..."

Because humans need some days -- hours, time, when there is no imperative.
No place you have to be.
No thing you have to do.

We need a break from Doing Things, so that we can come back and Do Things again.

There's a wonderful book titled Waiting For The Weekend, which tells some history of how weekends and holidays got started in the world. You study back about the ancient times, and it was -- every 4th to 8th day, being set aside for market or rest, or both.

Religions and governments would give edicts, dictates, policy, (scrolls and the like) to say, "On this day, you will do no work." But really, it was mostly the religious and government guys observing what people naturally did anyway, and then making it their own policy -- sort of -- putting oneself More In Charge by -- "A-hem!" mandating --
stuff people were --
Already Doing.

Legislating common sense, one might say.
Or -- taking credit for a great idea by putting in writing what was happening anyway.

And the things we look forward to Doing in our free time!
Sometimes the planning and dreaming can be more fun (and possible) than the actual doing, even when the weekend does arrive. Recently I noticed the same idea in two different films -- in both Fiddler On The Roof, and My Fair Lady, a character imagines if they had financial security and (thus) leisure, one of the things they would do is -- spend more time on Religion.

I thought that was interesting.
In My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle sings,
"One day I'll be famous, I'll be proper and prim
Go to St. James so often I will call it St. Jim..."

and in Fiddler-Roof, Tevye sings,
"If I were rich I'd have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray.
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I'd discuss the holy books with the learned men,
several hours every day.
And that would be the sweetest thing of all."

There's leisure, and --
the Imagining of Leisure.


Monday, November 28, 2011

hold on

In recent months I was re-experiencing and -enjoying "If," the poem by Rudyard Kipling, then, recent weeks, I read some in Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason, by Helen Fielding and found that Kipling poem, bobbing up in a wild, typically Jonesian scene.

[Bridget's on phone with her gay friend Tom -- Tom wants Bridget's mother's phone #]:
"What do you want it for?" I said suspiciously.
"Isn't she in a book club?"
"Dunno. Anything's possible. Why?"
"Jerome's sensing his poems are ready, so I'm finding him book club venues. He did one last week in Stoke Newington and it was awesome."

"What is it about book clubs?" I said when I'd put the phone down. "Is it just me, or have they suddenly sprung up from nowhere? Should we be in one or do you have to be Smug Married?"
"You have to be Smug Married," said Shaz definitively.

"Oh, hello, darling. Guess what?" My mother. "Your friend Tom -- you know the 'homo' -- well, he's bringing a poet to read at the Lifeboat Book Club! He's going to read us romantic poems. Like Lord Byron! Isn't that fun?"
"Er...yes?" I floundered.
"Actually, it's nothing special," she sniffed airily. "We often have visiting authors."
"Really? Like who?"
"Oh, lots of them, darling. Penny's very good friends with Salman Rushdie. Anyway, you will be coming, darling, won't you?"

"When is it?"
"A week on Friday. Una and I are doing vol-au-vents hot with Chunky Chicken."
A sudden fear convulsed me. "Are Admiral and Elaine Darcy coming?"
"Durr! No boys allowed, silly. Elaine's coming but the chaps are turning up later."
"But Tom and Jerome are coming."
"Oh, they're not boys, darling."

"Are you sure Jerome's poems will be the sort of thing that..."
"Bridget. I don't know what you're trying to say. We weren't born yesterday, you know. And the whole point about literature is free expression. Ooh, and I think Mark's coming along later. He's up doing Malcolm's will with him -- you never know!"

-------------------- [and on the Night-Of]:
Was greeted by Mum, wearing a very strange maroon velvet kaftan which presume she intended to be literary.
"How's Salman?" I said as she tut-tutted about my lateness.
"Oh, we decided to do chicken instead," she said sniffily, leading me through the ripply-glassed French doors, into the lounge where the first thing I noticed was a garish new "family crest" above the fake stone fireplace saying "Hakuna Matata."

"Shh," said Una, holding a finger up, enraptured.
Pretentious Jerome, pierced nipple clearly visible through black wet-look vest, was standing in front of the cut-glass dish collection, bellowing belligerently: "I watch his hard, bony, horny...{some of my own deletions here}...I grab," --

at a semicircle of appalled Jaeger-be-two-pieced Lifeboat Luncheon Book Club ladies on reproduction Regency dining chairs. Across the room I saw Mark Darcy's mum, Elaine, sporting an expression of suppressed amusement.

"I want," Jerome bellowed on. "I seize his...{can't type it inthisblogtryingtobeopenminded}..
"Well! I think that's been absolutely smashing!" said Mum, jumping to her feet. "Does anyone fancy a vol-au-vent?"
Is amazing the way the world of middle-class ladies manages to smooth everything into its own, turning all the chaos and complication of the world into a lovely secure mummy stream, rather as lavatory cleaner turns everything in the toilet pink.

"Oh, I love the spoken and written word! It makes me feel so free!" Una was gushing to Elaine as Penny Husbands-Bosworth and Mavis Enderbury fussed over Pretentious Jerome as if he were T.S. Eliot.
"But I hadn't finished," whined Jerome. ...
Just then there was a roar.

"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you." It was Dad, and Admiral Darcy. Both paralytic. Oh God. Every time I see Dad these days, he seems to be completely pissed, in bizarre father-daughter role-reversal scenario.

"If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you," Admiral Darcy bellowed, leaping on to a chair to a flutter from the assembled ladies.
"And make allowance for their doubting too," added Dad, almost tearfully, leaning against the admiral for support.

The pissed duo proceeded to recite the whole of Rudyard Kipling's "If" in manner of Sir Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud to the fury of Mum and Pretentious Jerome who started throwing simultaneous hissy fits.
"It's typical, typical, typical," hissed Mum as Admiral Darcy, on his knees, beating his breast, intoned, "Or being lied about, don't deal in lies."
"It's regressive, colonialist doggerel," hissed Jerome.
"If you can force your heart, and nerve and sinew."
"I mean it fucking rhymes," rehissed Jerome.

"Jerome, I will not have that word in my house," also rehissed Mum.
"To serve their turn long after they are gone," said Dad, then flung himself on the swirly carpet in mock death.
"Well, why did you invite me then?" hissed Jerome really hissily.
"And so keep on, when there is nothing in you," roared the admiral.
"Except your nerve," growled Dad from the carpet. "Which says to you" -- he leapt to his knees and raised his arms -- "hold on!"

There was a huge cheer and round of applause from the ladies as Jerome flounced out slamming the door and Tom rushed after him. I looked despairingly back at the room straight into the eyes of Mark Darcy.
"Well! That was interesting!" said Elaine Darcy, coming to stand by me as I bent my head, trying to recover my composure. "Poetry uniting the old and young."
"The pissed and sober," I added.
At this Admiral Darcy lurched over, clutching his poem.
Excerpt from Bridget Jones: The Edge Of
Reason, by Helen Fielding. Copy-
right, 1999. Penguin Group, New York.


Friday, November 25, 2011

10 to 20 more years

[excerpts from The Agenda]
"If you let 10 to 20 more years go on where the middle class keeps losing ground,...this won't be the America any of us grew up in."
--Bill Clinton. May, 1991

The Soviet threat was evaporating, and foreign policy would not play a big role in the campaign, he predicted. Instead, the economy would be the decisive issue. America's economic system was out of whack -- great for the wealthiest 20 percent, who were getting richer, but lousy for the other 80 percent, who were sinking or treading water. The working- and middle-class alienation could help him win in 1992. These groups constituted the vast majority of voters, and they felt insecure.

...Hillary Clinton watched the forces and ideas at work on her husband. ...He was indignant about what the Republican policies had done to the average person -- little or no wage increases, job insecurity, the fraying of the safety net. As governor, he had paid the price. He had told his wife once with some bitterness, "It would be great to be the president like Reagan, who cuts taxes so that every governor, including Republicans, had to raise them."

During a trip to Japan several years earlier, Hillary Clinton had overheard a conversation between her husband and a Japanese executive. "You could do a lot to stimulate your economy," the executive told Clinton, "if your executives in American industry weren't so greedy." Her husband replied that American executives were being given permission to grab the most at the top by the Reagan economic policies, which were designed so wealth would allegedly trickle down....

Professor Stanley B. Greenberg was devoted to studying the crisis in the Democratic Party and the defection of middle-class and working-class whites -- the so-called Reagan Democrats -- to Republican presidential candidates in the 1980s. These voters held the balance in national elections, and Greenberg argued that they wanted to return to their party, to come home. Party leaders had to reach out to this disaffected and forgotten middle class, which saw itself squeezed -- paying for programs for the poor and tax breaks for the wealthy, while getting little in return from government. The middle-class crisis presented an opportunity for the Democrats. Buried in the article, Greenberg also invoked the magic phrase "tax relief."

Later, when he asked Clinton for his reaction, the governor replied, "I've read it three times."

Clinton told Carville and Begala...that he was personally shy of a populist label. Populism seemed to him too anti-government and anti-business. He wanted to chart a course without reference to old labels. ...
----------- Begala had studied the strategies of Republican operative Lee Atwater and agreed with Atwater's analysis that politics was divided into populist and elitist issues. On social issues, Begala believed, the Democrats tended to take elitist positions and the Republicans populist ones; on economic issues, it was the reverse.

Both parties had nominated their elites in 1988 -- Dukakis and Bush. Neither man nor his ideas had been embraced by the public. The 1992 campaign had to be fought on economic ground....

When Clinton announced his presidential candidacy on October 3, 1991, at the Old State House in Little Rock Arkansas, he said that his central goal was "restoring the hopes of the forgotten middle class." He made ten references to the middle class in his seven-page announcement and promised a middle-class tax cut. "Middle-class people are spending more hours on the job, less time with their children, and bringing home a smaller paycheck to pay more for health care and housing and education," he said.
---------------- [end excerpt]

{The Agenda, by Bob Woodward.
Copyright 1994. Simon & Schuster,
New York.}


Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Flexible Thinkers

Yesterday, typing and trying to analyze-and-understand things -- and I thought and typed the following:

The vet called it "misplaced territorial aggression": because Genie couldn't get at the "foreign" outdoor cat, she turned her territory-protecting instincts on her housemate cat, with whom she ordinarily got along great. ...

That's what I wonder, if -- when we had the common enemy of Soviet communists, there was a balance in the world, a long-standing balance, crossing a couple of generations -- and then with that gone, it was like a vacuum, and some people's "territorial aggression" (or general, formerly submerged hostility) got "misplaced" onto their fellow Americans. And they became like Genie-the-cat, attacking their friends and neighbors and co-workers.

In his book, Get Anyone To Do Anything, David J. Lieberman, Ph.D., writes -- in Chapter 21, "How to Get Any Group of People to Get Along" --
[quote]: Whether it's bickering friends or a feuding family, these techniques will quickly melt away disagreement and provide a core of unity among all members.

Numerous studies conclude that division among people dissolves when there is an opposing outside threat. External events arouse our need for affiliation and we will seek out support, creating a heightened sense of unity. Civil warring, intersocietal conflicts, and internal unrest often cease when a common outside enemy comes on to the scene. Conversely, individuals will turn their attention and hostility on one another when no outside forces are present. {italics mine}

[My own insert: Pres. Reagan (in 1989): "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" And -- great, they did, but then who were we supposed to be suspicious of, and mad at, if not Soviet communists? -- we lost our "outside threat," or common enemy, and people began turning on each other in our own country -- road rage, deteriorating atmosphere in some workplaces, hate-radio and rant-tv, etc. ...?...]

[back to Lieberman]
The fastest way to instill cooperation within a group is to (a) create an external threat or (b) simply set your group against another group in some form of competition. A common enemy brings opposing sides together faster than any other type of group cohesion technique.

This phenomenon is also characteristic of how people respond within their own lives and minds....It's for this reason that those who have nothing going on in their lives are often the most neurotic. Without an external focus to occupy their attention their mind begins to turn in on itself. But once an objective is created our attention is turned outward. So too do groups who are confronted with a serious issue find that infighting quickly gives way to this new objective.

Also interesting is a study done by Ross and Samuels (1993) who found that the name given to a game has greater influence on the level of competitiveness than the individuals' personalities. They found that when participants played a game they believed to be called Wall Street they were much more competitive than their counterparts playing the same game, believing it was called Community Game. This is so fascinating because something as seemingly minor as the name of the game can override the members' personalities. Therefore, we can reasonably conclude that within your group careful consideration should be given to the name of subsets as well as the overall group name. For instance, if you have two sections of your group with names such as The Righteous and The Victors, chances are you won't be inspiring as much cooperation as with names such as Common Ground and The Flexible Thinkers.

-----------[end quote]
{Get Anyone To Do Anything, by David J.
Lieberman. Copyright 2000. St. Martin's
Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.}


Wednesday, November 23, 2011


A couple of years ago I was puzzling about some things, and I asked a friend what he thought about it -- recently I found a spot in one of my notebooks where I wrote down notes about that conversation:

-------------------- I asked R what happened in the 13 years when I was out of the Local Swirl -- working on a statewide level, as far as travel -- I said, Is it me? Did I get too accustomed to being only with people in a relatively narrow demographic and -- lose perspective? Or did society and daily culture become meaner and stupider in those 13 years?

R said people's style and behavior became meaner and stupider. He didn't think about it -- he spoke immediately and decisively.

He said, "I don't know why."
I asked, "Is it the whole country, or is it just the town where we live?"
R said, "It's the whole country."

And it wasn't like -- wanting to "put down" people -- it was just behavior we were wondering at. was like, random, scatter-shot hostility, and deliberate rudeness -- not everywhere, but in a lot of places.

In September I read this -- when the book and tapes were coming out from Caroline Kennedy, with 1964 interviews given by Jackie Kennedy...this Comment was on the internet:

--------------------"When I read... during breakfast that May morning that Jackie had died, I ...cried, ...not just for Jackie's passing but more especially for the final passing of what was a better, more American era, one of hope, challenges to our better selves, far-sightedness and elegance. Had I known then how far we were to descend since 1994, I would have cried ... much longer."

That Comment-er was noticing things similar to what I had noticed, I thought....

Trying to imagine a reason, or reasons, for these transformations, I've blamed reality shows, talk shows, economic changes that harm working people, Congress' lack of responsiveness to Real World Challenges, the undeclared war on America's middle class...

and an idea which keeps re-surfacing is this:
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, it was this -- seismic change on Planet Earth. Communism was no longer a threat. And it strikes me that maybe -- lacking the Soviet Union as Common Enemy, Americans unconsciously turned that warehoused Mistrust and Hostility on each other.

Like -- I used to have a cat named Genie who lived a long and happy Cat Life -- one of the few times when she was NOT happy was if she would see an outdoor cat walking by outside in the yard. She would freak out, on these occasions, and attack the other cat, Chess, whacking him with her paws, running at him, and snarling like a cheetah. It was really scary. Once she knocked over a piece of furniture in my writing studio.

The vet called it "misplaced territorial aggression": because Genie couldn't get at the "foreign" outdoor cat, she turned her territory-protecting instincts on her housemate cat, with whom she ordinarily got along great. ...

That's what I wonder, if -- when we had the common enemy of Soviet communists, there was a balance in the world, a long-standing balance, crossing a couple of generations -- and then with that gone, it was like a vacuum, and some people's "territorial aggression" (or general, formerly submerged hostility) got "misplaced" onto their fellow Americans. And they became like Genie-the-cat, attacking their friends and neighbors and co-workers.

I wonder if there is anything in this theory.
David J. Lieberman has a chapter on this type of bonding, and creating a sense of unity through opposition to a common enemy in his book, Get Anyone To Do Anything.
Going to look it up.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Chess Pacific,
cat of thoughts;
alert and
and restful
and smart;
a man of affection
and style, courage, and
imagination --
with studied peacefulness
on the
under the lamp-light
to God and the universe.


Monday, November 21, 2011

hubris and pronouns

I read this on the internet --
the pub. is called "InvestorPlace"
I'm re-typing it here, so that I can think about it and try to learn what there is to know.

Bank of America CEO Takes Hubris to New Level by Chastising Public
by Jeff Reeves / October 26, 2011 3:34 pm

Bank of America is one of the most hated companies in America -- and for good reason. BAC stock is down 50% this year and over 85% from its 2008 peak. Bank of America plans on instating a $5-per-month debit-card fee at the beginning of next year. It took billions in bailout money while regular Americans continue to face stagnant wages, runaway inflation and no relief from the brutal realities of both the housing market and job market.

But apparently Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan thinks we are all being a bit too hard on him and his cronies.

"I, like you, get a little incensed when you think about how much good all of you do, whether it's volunteer hours, charitable giving we do, serving clients and customers well," Moynihan said to employees last week, according to a Bloomberg report. "You ought to think a little about that before you start yelling at us."

{Insert from BluCol. Lit.: that's a mixed up paragraph -- at the beginning the pronoun "you" appears to refer to Bank-America employees; then in the last sentence "you" suddenly seems to refer to someone else who's "yelling at" bank of am. ...These folks are mixed up -- or careless...And also -- "clients and customers"? Aren't those two words for same thing?}

[Reeves article, continued]: Really? Do you really want us to think more about the antics of Bank of America and expect that reflection to benefit you?

OK, fine. Here are a few musings citizens are chewing over:

Your predecessor, CEO Ken Lewis, was indicted by the SEC on civil charges but never faced jail time. Whatever fines and legal fees he ultimately will incur for his tenure are more than offset by a jaw-dropping $125 million severance package.
Even as you proposed to gouge consumers with a $5 debit card fee, Bank of America wrote a final paycheck worth $6 million to former wealth-management division head Sallie Krawcheck. Another manager, Joseph Price, got a $5 million payday. That means the first 2.2 million debit-card charges will go solely to paying off these BofA lackeys.

Your $5 fee just so happens to coincide with"tests" by JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo over a $3 fee, prompting calls for an investigation that the big dogs in the financial sector are colluding to roll out fees at the same time -- browbeating consumers into suffering through the charges because there will be fewer alternatives.

The government is suing BofA (along with 16 others) for its role in the mortgage debacle.
Bank of America placed 28th out of 30 in a recent American Banker survey of bank reputations.
The list goes on. And through it all, the pompous Moynihan is due up to $10 million in performance-based cash and bonuses this year.

{Blu.Col.Lit: "Performance-based." Hmm. Sounds like a phrase that gets attached to make it sound like somebody deserves the bonus they receive. If I paid someone a bonus, I wouldn't call it "a performance-based bonus"; I'd call it a "bonus." Period. I'd only be nervous about justifying it with a phrase such as "performance-based" if I thought it wasn't justified. And if I thought paying the employee a bonus was not justified, I'd just -- keep the money! - (hello?) There's definitely a nervous sort of language of trying to fumble around & make things sound legitimate. Hmmmmh.
When I think of "performance," think of singing - dancing: did Bank of America's Brian Moynihan perform "Proud Mary"?...}

[back to Reeves]: Sorry, Brian. It's not us -- it's you. And boneheaded comments like this one are just further proof that Bank of America's hubris knows no bounds. Maybe you had a sympathetic audience among your employees when you made that aninine statement, but the rest of America isn't fooled one bit.

This trend seemed like it started with the Enron thing -- what year was that?
It seems like after that you hear so much about two things:
-- executives basically looting companies, sometimes bankrupting them,
&, 2
-- business basically being adversarial to consumers: like -- How can we rip them off? What can we get them to believe? How can we batter money out of them? How can we trick them and fool them?

It's behavior unbecoming in this Free Country that we love.
We were supposed to be setting an example,
but since collapse of Soviet Union it seems like some sectors of our business community have run wild, in a negative way.

Instead of taking the opportunity to lead, and innovate, they took the opportunity to basically loot and rob companies, & cheat consumers, while screaming about "government regulation."

I asked a guy once, Why, after Pres. Reagan de-regulated the airlines, did air service not get better and cheaper, but instead became worse and more expensive?
I was like, 'That's the opposite of what we thought de-regulation was supposed to do.'
He answered, when companies are that big, de-regulation doesn't work; greed takes over.
He was a lobbyist, at the time -- (Oh, one of those bad words), and a --
Republican -- another bad word, to some folks, and, on the other hand,
something to be touted & worshiped, to other folks -- truth is,
Neither! -- just ...folks...


Friday, November 18, 2011

smite me

Idealistic Student, (to Reb Tevye): "Money's the world's curse!"

Reb Tevye, (to the Heavens): "May the Lord smite me with it --
and --
May I Never RECOVER!!"

("Fiddler On The Roof")


Thursday, November 17, 2011

it's paradise

Hoagy Carmichael.
Hoagy --
was the man's name.
Hoagy Carmichael --
wrote this song:

Memphis in June,
A shady veranda

Under a Sunday blue sky

Memphis in June
And Cousin Amanda ’s
Makin’ a rhubarb pie

I can hear the clock inside
Tickin’ and tockin’
Everything’s peacefully dandy

I can see old Granny
'Cross the street
Still a-rockin’
Watchin’ the neighbors go by

Memphis in June --
And sweet oleander
Blowing perfume
In the air

Up jumps the moon
To make it that much grander
It’s paradise
Brother take my advice
Nothing’s half as nice as --
Memphis in June

[Instrumental - piano]

Memphis in June
And sweet oleander
Blowing perfume
In the air

Up jumps a moon
To make it -- that much grander

It’s paradise

Brother take my advice

Nothin’s half as nice
As Memphis in June


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

fish or cut bait

During a discussion of funeral plans, Jackie was "very well composed," said Gore. She proposed that instead of a standard eulogy, the service include brief remarks with quotes from Jack's speeches and favorite passages from the Bible. She...requested...Ecclesiastes 3:1--8: "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven...." (It would be two more years before "Turn, Turn, Turn," the hit song by The Byrds, would popularize those verses as a call for world peace.)

...Sorensen couldn't help being amused by Jackie's Ecclesiastes request. He remembered when Jack had read the verses to her with the coda, "and a time to fish and a time to cut bait."

----------------- {end Excerpt}
[Grace And Power, by Sally Bedell Smith.
Copyright, 2004. Random
House, New York]

To every thing
there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born,
and a time to die;
a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak...


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

disappearing railroad blues

Thinking yesterday of Carl Sandburg, then reading up a little about him (doesn't feel right to say, "I googled Carl Sandburg" -- sounds a bit disrespectful, or improper...) -- come to find out, among the things he wrote is an epic poem entitled "Good Morning America" --

that only makes the song "City Of New Orleans" run on an obsessive endless loop in brain...

good morning America, how are ya?
Don't you know me, I'm your native son?
I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans,
I'll be gone 500 miles when the day is done. ...

Willie Nelson, Arlo Guthrie, and all the boys...

...and turns out was written by Steve Goodman
(whose name I can't forget because of the song, "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" -- David Allen Coe, " a friend o' mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song, & he told me it was the perfect country and western song..."

back to top -- it seems reasonable to me to imagine that the phrase "good morning America" was probably borrowed by songwriter Steve Goodman from Carl Sandburg's poem title...

somewhere read that Bob Dylan traveled down to North Carolina in early 1960s, to meet Carl Sandburg. At that time, Dylan was very young, and Sandburg very old. ...Bob turned up with some friends on the Sandburg front porch, and the newly popular folk singer ("Blowin' in the Wind," "The Times They Are A-Changin'...) told Mr. Sandburg, "I'm a great admirer of your work" -- Carl Sandburg had no idea who Bob Dylan was, but invited him and his posse in for tea and sandwiches and apparently sat around and visited for a while.
would love to have heard that conversation ...
[where's a 'reality-tv' yahoo with camera-and-recording-equipment when you NEED him?? they record all the wrong stuff...!)

"Fog" is the well-known, short Sandburg poem -- fog comes on little cat feet...
sometimes people joke -- The cat comes in on little fog feet ...


Monday, November 14, 2011

little feet

76. Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

--Carl Sandburg


Friday, November 11, 2011 overheard party conversation...

Some people who influence your life, clearly and straightforwardly say and do things to
help you, and encourage you. Others have a more round-a-bout path -- you learn from them, too, if you're listening and can "dig" it -- they aren't directly engaged in Your priorities or enthusiasms, but they share theirs, along with their knowledge and stories and observations, aloud mostly because they like telling it.

And you can be entertained / enlightened or not -- you may absorb at will. Like crackers on a plate -- you can take one if you want to.

------------- The vagaries of fortune, the gratuitous bitchery, and random meanness people may encounter; whether an individual allows events and jerks to "beat them to death" psychologically, is partly in the individual's control (we can consciously choose our response) and partly not.

[selection / "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.
[Alfred Lord Tennyson,
from the poem "Ulysses"]

Thursday, November 10, 2011


"Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites, — in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity, — in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption, — in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves."

-- Emund Burke
Irish political philosopher
1729 - 1797


Wednesday, November 9, 2011


The power of
is amazing:

this moment in human history is an Opportunity
(it seems like)
for Business leaders in the "Real World"

to take the lead
and build their own power,
and rival Wall Street banks-too-big-to-fail and other corrupt organizations,

by modeling
civilized behavior
positive accomplishments.

Congress doesn't lead;
Real People in the Real World
can build positive power,
by leading.

By -- just doing it.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

forgotten mantra

Yoga is difficult.

Ehrm -- A-a-ack.

Think I wasn't cut out to be a Zen Buddhist yogi.

(If I were practicing meditation, I'd probably wind up like the Jeff Goldblum character with the cameo in the film Annie Hall: at a swingin' Los Angeles party, he is intense on the telephone (a "cord-ful" phone), his back turned toward the crowd noise, speaking urgently into the receiver, "Uh, yes I -- forgot my mantra!"

That'd be me. ...)

Doing it (yoga) on bedroom carpet this morning, thought -- how LONG can thirty seconds last??!
On a sheet of paper pulled from a magazine I had, are -- 6 or eight pictures, showing a position, or pose that you're supposed to get into and then hold for 30 seconds.

Then you go to the next pose, and do that one for 30 seconds.
And that's exercise.
It really is.
In Western-world-mind, we're used to exercise being -- go, go, go. Step, step, step. Pedal, pedal, pedal. Jump, kick, twist, bounce -- lift, lift, lift.

In the Eastern-style, it's supposed to be -- stretch, make effort, and Relax-in-the-effort. And hold.
And the ubiquitous admonition: "Don't forget to breathe!"
(At least when I follow the pictures from the magazine I don't have annoying exhortations like that coming at me from the TV, as is the case when following a show...)

I keep a clock with a second-hand next to me, & position it, with each new Yoga position so that wherever my face is, I can SEE that clock so I know when I'm done holding the pose.

I adjusted the 30-seconds to 25, for each pose.
Enough already.


Friday, November 4, 2011

there ain't no time to wonder why

A recent article in the New York Times about the "Occupy Wall Street" movement attracted Reader comments.

I copied-and-pasted two of those comments here -- to contemplate.

Comment 1 refers to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision: that decision said that a corporation is a person.

One might think, Well, it doesn't seem like that's true -- why would our Supreme Court say that?
Apparently that decision let down the flood-gates that had been preventing powerful multinational corporations from drenching political candidates in financing.

Comment 2 mentions farm subsidies. (Now, since I live in a state where agriculture is an important industry, I tend to buy into the idea that farm subsidies are in essence a "cheap food" policy: if we [our government] didn't help farmers stay in business, then two multinational corporations (or should I say, two "persons") would own all the land, hire the farming done, and maximize profits to themselves: i.e., a loaf of bread would cost $1400, etc. ...)

Comment 2 also mentions the 99% and the 1% -- looked it up, they're referring to statistics which say in the past 25 years 1% of Americans have increased their wealth while the other 99% have slid back. (It isn't 'cause folks aren't working harder, that's for sure!)


These people hate that they have no voice, they have lost any chance to express their opinion, and have it matter to those who no longer represent them. The systems sells its influence to the rich because they alone can afford it. The corporations, take Pre-Tax profits and buy their influence, and the Supreme Court rubber stamps this undermining of the fundamental democracy that is supposed be the government OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE and FOR THE PEOPLE, by ruling that the corporation and all its money to undermine the nation is a person, a citizen. When did we last see a corporation return from war in a body bag ? If this doeasn't outrage you, you aren't much of an American.


I believe we currently live in a Corpocracy not a Domocracy, our country currently is run for the large corporations not the people. The Corporations get the tax breaks. Even Congress, takes the tax breaks away with one hand and gives them back to the large corporations with the other hand. Just Sleight of Hand. For a current example look at the farm subsidies. We are 99% supporting the 1%
------------------------------ [end NYT Reader Comments]

People are upset, or psyched up, when they write, we can hear it when we read it. That doesn't make them right; it also doesn't make them wrong.

I don't know -- in the past four years I've met so many people who Don't Vote (I had no idea) and when the automatic words comes out of my mouth reminding them that their vote counts, they should vote, go-team!, whatever -- the person will say, "It doesn't make any difference." "There are no people like us in Congress." "They don't care." And it hurts to admit in my mind that they're not wrong.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

blind love

Thinking about people doing things they feel stupid (and embarrassed) about later, made me think of Blind Ambition, and made me think next of "blind love"...

Blind Ambition was the name of a book written by John Dean, of the Nixon administration. Dean wrote the book about his own experiences during the events encompassed in what we called

The title of that book sums up the author's predicament, for which he blamed no one but himself.
blind ambition
It's like -- you don't see that you're doing wrong, because you want to
go to the top
achieve the high goals of your president.

Really, when you think about it that way, the crimes & misdemeanors of today's wall street crowd -- the "banksters," some call them -- are all for the simple goal of

their personal stratospheric Wealth

at least the Nixon crowd did the stuff they did for a Goal
of serving their president -- and, of course, they thought -- the country ...
(yikes -- Somebody, call Charles Colson! - we got somebody worse! -- seriously, just kidding...)

There's a theory that the Personality of a Politician / Would-Be Leader includes
1) a love for people
2) a need to be loved by people a singer or dancer or actor, etc. -- the candidate meets the cheers of the crowd as something he loves, craves, needs, and never wants to lose...

on the
flip side
of that, the candidate greets, smiles, shakes hands, hugs, laughs, and rubs-shoulders-generally with the crowds because he Loves Those People.

Even his opposition -- the people who compete against him, and sometimes call him names -- he loves them, TOO, damn it--he can't help himself...!

That's just a trait that -- if a person has it, they have it -- like being left-handed...

And if a person's organization and discipline of their sexual feelings is not strong -- if sex and love overlap and mix in -- and if the person has any history-or-habit of casual physical promiscuity, it's a pretty simple recipe (easy-bake!) for making some silly mistakes.

I know one thing, if I live to be a thousand years old,
have to read or hear
about the sex life or romantic life of ANY
politician or other public figure,



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

that highway sound

The motor cooled down, the heat went down
That's when I heard that highway sound.
Cadillac settin' like a ton of lead
A hundred and ten a half a mile ahead.
Lyric from Chuck Berry's song, "Maybellene." Many rock experts call that the first rock-and-roll song.

I was reading, lately, two books by Bob Woodward (the Washington Post reporter who, along with fellow reporter Carl Bernstein, stumbled upon the events which came to be known as "Watergate"):
Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate

The Agenda

Woodward's writing style is plain, straightforward -- reporting:
This happened.
This other thing happened.
These people planned this;
these other people tried that;
so-and-so said this.

Not elaborate, or flowery. The style is impartial. He doesn't write to "lobby for" anything. He tries to present facts, and what they may mean.

[From The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House]: -----------------There was lots of resistance from the economic team.

"That's Nixon," said Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, comparing Magaziner's idea to the Republican president's largely unsuccessful price freeze in the early 1970s.

Hillary argued that an immediate freeze would save an estimated $28 billion.

President Clinton backed his wife.---------------- [end excerpt]

Chuck Berry's songwriting is like that, too -- the straightforward, This happened, then this, then -- THIS!-style.
You might call him the Bob Woodward of Rock and Roll.
Or -- Bob Woodward could be known as the Chuck Berry of journalism.

Maybellene, why can't you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can't you be true?
You done started back doing the things you used to do.

As I was motivatin' over the hill
I saw Maybellene in a Coup de Ville.
Cadillac rollin' on the open road,
Nothin' out-run my v8 Ford.
Cadillac doin' about ninety-five,
It was bumper to bumper, rollin' side to side.

Maybellene, why can't you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can't you be true?
You've done started back doin’ the things you used to do.

Peeked in the mirror at the top of the hill,
just like swallowin' up a medicine pill.
First thing I saw that Cadillac grille
Doin' a hundred and ten, droppin' over that hill.
Uphill curve, downhill stretch,
Me and that Cadillac neck and neck.

Maybellene, why can't you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can't you be true?
You've done started back doing the things you used to do.

The Cadillac pulled up to hundred-and-four,
The Ford got hot and wouldn't do no more.
It then got cloudy, it started to rain,
Tootin’ my horn for the passin' lane
Rain water blowin' all under my hood,
But I knew that was doin' my motor good.

Oh -- Maybellene, why can't you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can't you be true?
You done started back doin’ the things you used to do.

The motor cooled down, the heat went down
That's when I heard that highway sound.
Cadillac settin' like a ton of lead
A hundred and ten a half a mile ahead.
Cadillac lookin' like it's settin' still
And I caught Maybellene at the top of the hill.

Maybellene, why can't you be true?
Oh! Maybellene, why can't you be true?
You done started back doing the things you used to do.
"Maybellene," Chuck Berry