Wednesday, October 31, 2012

when we canvassed

Most of those initiatives, referendums, items on our Voting Ballot that are not individuals running for office, are pretty well worth voting "No" on, most years, most of the time.  Once in a while there's something where we voters want "Yes."  This year, about 6 minutes of research told me that, for my taste and priorities, it's "No" on all of 'em except 14.

The rest of them, this year and most others, seem to be --
something the legislature didn't want responsibility for -- "let's turn it over to the people!"
somebody who has a good deal and wants an even better deal,
by passing something or, heaven help us, changing the State Constitution....

---------------------- Thinking about the Election, I started remembering past elections -- and over the years, the "thrill" of voting has sometimes started to feel more like a "chore" instead...(less like a Bob Dylan concert and more like, say, vacuuming.)  But then unexpectedly it can again become a thrill.  (Put away the vacuum cleaner -- Bob Dylan's coming to town!)

When I was a senior in college I worked as a volunteer on Ronald Reagan's campaign for president, stuffing envelopes and typing press releases at the campaign office in downtown Boston.  You got off the trolley at the Park Street stop and walked on the crowded, bustling sidewalks to a small suite of non-sparkling, low-rent rooms in a tall building.  There was a woman there named Barbara Pond, whom I sort of bonded with, and "followed" -- like a mentor, and I remember a guy named Bernie Sweeney (one of my professors said, of him, "Ooh! -- lace-curtain Irish!" just from hearing the name...).  Bernie Sweeney had a patient, impassive face and attitude in the midst of campaign hurly-burly. 
He -- paced himself, at his desk in the corner.

I liked going down there and helping, and expressed my enthusiasm by inviting everyone to a party at my apartment in Brookline.  My space was student-y, and stereo-centered, and in someone's basement....and yet the amount of self-consciousness, nervousness, or pressure to measure up that I felt about that party was Zero - !  (Looking back, that seems amazing, lol.)

It was easy -- maybe it's kind of like the person who accomplishes something because he didn't "know" that he "couldn't."  There was an ease and happy froth of having a common goal and yet not a horrible amount of pressure on any one person -- it was just sort of a "together" effort.  And that ease and casualness and good-will just flowed right over to my little party.  I invited everyone and everyone attended and it was fun.

The idea of a Republican such as Reagan winning in Massachusetts was somewhat foreign, and when he did win in Massachusetts it was like frosting on the cake.  (A newspaper carried headlines that Carter had won in the Bay State because they went by the early returns -- so it turned into a sort of "Dewey Defeats Truman" situation.)

Reagan was the candidate I wanted to vote for, and work for, that year not because I didn't like Carter, but it seemed like things were bogging down a little bit, with the energy crisis, hostages in Iran -- (my Italian professor said, "I think the Ayatollah is going to get aya-told something!"), 18% interest ....Ronald Reagan seemed like a nice guy who wanted to help.  He was optimistic -- I think he called himself "the eternal optimist".  (Like President Obama -- when I read sections of his book, The Audacity of Hope, I thought of Reagan and the attitude of "Yes we can do this!)

------------------------When we heard last week that George McGovern had died, I remembered the 1972 presidential campaign, and mentioned to a co-worker that I had volunteered on that campaign in 8th grade, & she kind of looked at me like that was a "different" sort of phenomenon....but perusing Hunter Thompson's book about the '72 campaign, came across various passages about kids being involved in that campaign -- it was not so unusual, that year.
------------------- [excerpt, H. Thompson]: 
MILWAUKEE, WISC. -- The George McGovern field organization has become a legend.  Gene Pokorny has been hailed as the "best young political organizer in the history of this country"...
A bunch of beautiful, euphoric, very young McGovern volunteers were having a completely informal victory party in a block-long two-story brick warehouse, formerly used to store toys.  ...

They had all worked in the Fourth District, the Polish South Side of Milwaukee, a section that even the McGovern staff crossed off as the inviolable turf of Muskie, Wallace, and Humphrey.  McGovern had not only won the district but beat Wallace by eight thousand votes.  At the warehouse at 3:30 in the morning, nine or ten of the volunteers gathered around to talk.

"Tell everybody we really love George McGovern," said a blonde girl.

"The district coordinator we had was really great," said another girl.  "Every time you came back he'd say, 'I know you'll go out one more time.'  But he worked later than anybody.  And he had a great way of getting little 13-year-old kids to work so they wouldn't just hang around the office."

"I came from Utah for this primary campaign."

"We came from Springfield, Illinois."

"When we canvassed we thought a lot of people were against us.  We got really discouraged, it was freezing cold.  You'd get a whole bunch of uncommitteds and then you'd hit three favorables in a row and it was an amazing up.  The people were good to us, they were impressed that we were out in the cold and they let us come in to get warm.  They were impressed I had come from Michigan to do this."

..."Some of these people were weird," said another girl.  "I asked one guy, 'What do you think of McGovern?' and he said, 'I'd vote for him if he'd turn Christian.'..."
"This is the old politics," says Joel Swerdlow, the 26-year-old who ran McGovern's operation in the North half of Milwaukee.  "We have precinct captains, ward leaders, car captains, the whole bit.  That's the only way you win.  But instead of patronage bosses and sewer commissioners, we've got young people who work because they're interested in the issues."

"I have to crash," the girl from Utah said...."But I have to tell you something first.  I've been here less than a week and yet I know so many people here well, 'cause they're beautiful people.  Even if we'd lost, we'd have won so much."


Monday, October 29, 2012

northwest passage

A few years ago I listened as a woman told me that her mother and her mother's friend had gotten so carried away watching the 2004 presidential campaign coverage & commentary, that they had declared if George W. Bush won re-election, they were moving away to another country.  (Usually in these types of statements people specify Canada, preferring it, for some reason, to Mexico -- if we're limited to a contiguous nation....but I don't recall that she named which country these ladies were going to -- maybe it was to have been any country, just so long as "W" was not president of it.)

News drifted in, in 2008, that a long-time acquaintance was moving to Canada for certain if Barack Obama were to win that election.  (They didn't move to Canada -- all their stuff is here....   : )

Surely people who say these things do not really plan to move out of America, even as they're making the statement -- it's probably just a momentary expression of frustration.

And that's why politics makes people mad sometimes -- like life, and like golf, it can be frustrating.
The empowering thing for a person to do is to recognize two things --
1) The world is not going to end if the other candidate wins, get a grip, &
2) It's an election not a junta -- it won't be a huge difference in our lifestyles or our human rights, or anything, regardless of which candidate wins.

If the presidential candidate that we vote for wins, fine!
If the presidential candidate that we did not vote for wins, --well -- that's the way the cookie crumbles, and we go on with our lives, just the same the next day.  Unlike in some countrires, if our favorite candidate loses, we don't have to pack all the belongings we can carry on our heads and run for our lives.

When I was in 8th grade I worked on South Dakota Senator George McGovern's presidential campaign -- stuffing envelopes, mostly, in a second-floor room of a downtown building in Kent, Ohio, along with my friend Robin, and some college kids.  A few days before the election my father, watching news on TV in living room, said with a disappointed sigh, "I don't think McGovern has a Chinaman's chance."  (don't ask me what kind of chance that is -- that is the first and last time I ever heard the expression, "a Chinaman's chance."...)

On Election Night I still thought maybe McGovern could win -- because I had no understanding of, nor interest in, polls and predictions, and I was naturally optimistic and excited -- and I had stuffed all those envelopes!   And as the black-and-white murmurings on our TV screen sort of started to become clear and I could see and hear that Pres. Nixon had indeed already won re-election, pretty early on, I thought of the "Chinaman's chance" and burst out, in that same frustration that makes people say they're moving to Canada -- "I hate Nixon!"

And my dad said immediately, kind of shocked at my outburst, "Oh now, we never hate the president.  Don't say that.  He's our president."  And he added with a sort of subtext of irony, "He's the only one we've got."

Nora Ephron wrote about that phenomenon of "Life goes on," or -- "There may be great events, great issues, and great struggles in the world but we still have to live, in our individual daily way"...
[excerpt, Introduction, 1970, to Wallflower at the Orgy, collection of Ephron articles]:
I should say that almost everything in this book was written in 1968 and 1969, and almost everything in it is about what I like to think of as frivolous things.  Fashion, trashy books, show business, food....

One night not too long ago I was on a radio show talking about an article I had written for Esquire on Helen Gurley Brown and I was interrupted by another guest, a folk singer, who had just finished a twenty-five-minute lecture on the need for peace. 

"I can't believe we're talking about Helen Gurley Brown," he said, "when there's a war going on in Vietnam."  Well, I care that there's a war in Indochina, and I demonstrate against it; and I care that there's a women's liberation movement, and I demonstrate for it.  But I also go to the movies incessantly, and have my hair done once a week, and cook dinner every night, and spend hours in front of the mirror trying to make my eyes look symmetrical, and I care about those things, too.  Much of my life goes irrelevantly on, in spite of larger events.  I suppose that has something to do with my hopelessly midcult nature, and something to do with my Hollywood childhood.  But all that, as the man said, is a story for another time.


Friday, October 26, 2012

run for it

[excerpt]--------- "What do you see?" whispered Bopo.
When Olah did not answer he crept up to the flap and added his eye to the slit.  Then his heart turned to stone within him, for, hanging from a thorn bush at the edge of the clearing was a large square of red deerskin!


That piece of red deerskin hanging in the bushes meant only one thing.  The council had voted for the immediate destruction of the two boys.  The girl, Wawena, had failed.  It was but a matter of minutes, perhaps, before they would be led to the post, bound back to back, and left to the red tongues of flame reaching out to sear their quivering flesh!  The sun was down; it was dusk in the village.  One moment more might be too late!

Both boys threw themselves flat on their stomachs and peered under the bottom of the teepee.  There were guards in front preventing any escape in that direction.  There were, of course, others in the rear -- but they would see.  So, cautiously peering beneath the rear wall, the boys came face to face with -- Wawena.

She had waited long to get to them.  The sentry placed to watch the teepee at the back had gone for a chat with someone behind the next lodge, and she had found her chance.

"Everyone is at the council!" she cried in a whisper.  "Here, let me cut your bonds.  What, you are free?  There is no better time to escape than now!  I tried to get provisions to the canoe without being seen, but once the dogs got what I had placed, and another time there were too many children playing nearby for safety.  So there are no provisions.  Run to the river -- take your pick of the three canoes there--"

"But I don't understand!" said Olah.  "You hung out the signal on the bush, the red buckskin!  We though they had decided death--"

"No, not yet!  They are still debating!  And I didn't hang that skin up.  Old Buffalo Woman was dyeing leather for a dancing costume, and hung that up to dry.  I couldn't take it down without her seeing me.  But we must not talk any more.  The sentry may be back at any moment!  You have a clear path now!  Go!"

The two lads ducked out under the buffalo hide, and crouched ready to run, but Olah glanced back.  There sat Wawena as they had last seen her, slumped against the teepee like a sack.  Olah slipped back to her and hissed in her ear.

"Quick!  What are you sitting here for?" he gasped.  "Hurry!"

"No," she returned, "you'll need all your wits to beat them, and you can't afford to be hindered by a girl!  I will stay here!"

"No!" said Olah, roughly seizing her arm.  "If you won't go with us, we will remain.  That is final!"

Wawena saw that he meant it.  A look of intense joy came over her sad little face.

"All right," she said, stiffening her neck as one does before diving into icy water, "I'm with you!  Now run!"

At that moment a sudden flare of light shot from near the council lodge.  The flap had been thrown open, and the glow from within was reflected from the green brush outside.  There were voices, and the sound of thudding feet.  The council had ended!

But, whatever the verdict, the boys did not wait.  Three forms crept out from behind the teepee and shot toward the river bank.  The boys had started slowly to keep pace with the girl, but they soon found out that this was not needed.  She was as swift as a rabbit, and outdistanced them both by two lengths.  Over the bank!  A long slide down the clay side of it!  And there, on the gravelled shingle were the three canoes, bottom up.

Bopo picked the smallest and lightest hastily.  With Wawena's help he turned the craft over and launched it, while Olah was smashing the other canoe bottoms with a large rock.  Crash!  Creak! went the ripping birch bark and splintering wood shells of the fragile canoes.  A few well-aimed blows and they were out of commission.  No man could chase them on the water now.  But on land -- that was a different thing.

Two dogs, running along the river, saw them and began to bark.  The curs yelped and howled.  Wawena tried to quiet them, but through some sixth sense they knew that something was amiss in their village.  And, in answer to their yowlings, came a long wavering whoop from above.  Someone had discovered the escape!

Olah gave a hard kick to the shore as he leapt swiftly into the stern, and the agile boat shot outward like a startled duck from cover.

"The paddle, quickly," he hissed.  He heard Bopo rummaging in the bow, and then a silence.

"Didn't you find a paddle under those canoes?" Bopo demanded.  "There's none here!"

"Oh," cried Wawena under her breath, "I might have known.  They always take the paddles up to the teepees after dark!" and a silence, a dread silence, fell on all three.

Meanwhile the canoe was being taken by the current, and hurried along parallel to the shore but not far out.  Back at the landing a tall form rushed to the bank edge, stood silhouetted a moment against the sky, then dropped to the beach below.  A howl came, then shouts, and cries.  They had found the demolished canoes, had discovered one was missing.  Wawena listened.

"I hear Scar-Face," she whispered.  "That voice above all the rest.  He says that the canoe is drifting downstream, and for them all to get their bows and shoot from the bank!  But I also hear Red Wolf, and he is ordering them not to shoot!  But I know Scar-Face!  He will kill us all!  He will go to the buffalo ford!  Oh, we must have a paddle!" and she shivered in the bottom of the canoe with excitement and fear.

"I have it!" she cried at last.  "Not a paddle, but some good substitutes.  On the other side, if we can reach it, is a shallow pit where the women have been digging clay for cooking pots.  Their shovels are made of buffalo shoulder blades lashed to short poles, and they usually leave them in a cache at the side of the pit.  If we can reach it in time, they will make good paddles!"

Olah and Bopo were not Chippewa lads for nothing.  The canoe is the burdenbearer of the woodland Indian.  It is his horse, and his plaything.  And many a race had these boys run against each other on their home lakes, with paddles left behind.  So now they knelt on the bottom and, with hands slashing backward like the feet of a duck, little by little they edged the canoe in toward the other side.  It took Wawena little time to locate the pit in the darkness, and in a minute or two she appeared on the shore with four clumsy shovels in her arms.

"Nezesheen!" cried Olah.  "Good work!  You are a true Chippewa, because you think fast and not like the slow Bwanoz!"  So saying he took the largest for the stern, balancing it in his hand.  Bopo selected another, shorter in the handle, while with a smaller one Wawena crouched in the center and amidships.

"Now let them come," cried Olah, his head high, and feeling every inch a warrior.  "Now let them try to get us!  They are turtles, running on the land, but we are swift trout in the water.  We shall soon outdistance them!"
--------------------- [end excerpt]
from a children's book, long out-of-print, called Claws of the Thunderbird, written by Holling C. Holling.  Copyright 1928 by The P.F. Volland Company, "Joliet, U.S.A."

When I read that now, (which I read when very young and heard read-aloud when even younger), it reminds me of the determined spirit of people I work with -- where, if one thing doesn't work you figure out something else to do and, as I heard someone say one day in his office, "Failure is not an option."

-----------At the front of the book there's an intro titled, "To the Reader":

All this happened many, many summers ago, before the heeled boot of the white man crunched the sanded shores of Kitchi Gami, Lake Superior.  Then the trails were run by soft moccasins that made no sound.  Then no bark of rifles disturbed the woods, and deer and moose went to their deaths heralded only by the twang of bowstring and the hiss of feathered shaft.  The smoke of coal fires spread no haze against the sun in those days, nor was there steel for knives, nor yellow lumber for houses.  Copper there was, and stone and bone and flint, and with these four things the Chippewa and the Sioux made weapons and hurled defiance, one at the other, across the forests and the plains.

If you look at a map, you may see Lake Superior, the Great Water, lying with his tail in Minnesota where now stands Duluth, with Superior, Wisconsin, on the opposite shore and a long sand island between....
There are others who say there was once a great battle fought, but when and where it was, nobody seems to agree.  Yet, when the fire has sunk to slumbering coals and the memories of old men wander along the misted trails, they will tell you that it was a great battle, a great battle, indeed!

I have never seen the Thunderbird, but there are those who have, for they will tell you so.  And when the thunder roars, and the loose bark flaps on the wigwam roof in the gale, and the rain seeks every opening, and forked lightning seethes in the black night -- then are the old women watchful, and the old men remember strange tales.  Then, for them, the Thunderbird flies once more!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

just tell it like it is

In 1980 Nora Ephron wrote,
--------------- We are now in an era when the I-lost-my-laundry-while-covering-Yalta school of reporting has become an epidemic; when serious books that involve reporting often tend to be suffused with the author's admiration of his own investigative techniques; when the narcissism of the press almost outstrips the narcissism elsewhere in the country.  The image of the journalist as wallflower at the orgy has been replaced by the journalist as the life of the party.  ------------------- [end excerpt]

I did not read this in 1980, I only just read it this year, & it reminded me of what I sort of felt, or sensed, at that time, that journalism had become a little bit weird -- it seemed like "everyone" wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein, in that post-Watergate period of time.  You can't be someone else, and you can't manufacture news (or shouldn't) but -- I noticed that tendency....

You know -- Watergate
actually happened, and was
actually discovered,
slowly, gradually, by two Washington Post reporters
doing their normal, every-day

Then some writers afterwards, all over-excited, seemed to try to frame stories as if they were like Watergate and (not subtle) putting the word "gate" as a suffix after, like, everything.  I thought that was dopey and it turned me off to the idea of pursuing journalism at the time.

Around 1983 or -5 or something, watched a local person in reporting capacity getting aggressive and pushy and kind of loud, while asking a plain regular question to a -- local person, & I was surprised -- like, What are you Doing?  This is not a big "Crime" or something, this is routine, you could ask the question in a regular voice. 

The tendency to "dramatize" was perhaps beginning there and has sort of built to the seemingly baseless hysteria you sometimes witness, now, over -- like -- nothing.

Around the same time (mid-80s) my father, a life-long Democrat and middle-of-the-road liberal, got kind of upset because he thought Sam Donaldson was being too loud and aggressive and disrespectful to then-President Reagan, hollering questions as the president was heading for a plane. 

Few circumstances could be contrived that would have induced my father to ever vote for Ronald Reagan; however, he was "Our President," and my dad just thought that the television reporter's behavior and tactics were disrespectful and inappropriate.  And I kind of agreed.

It definitely seemed to be a trend.  The press sort of -- running amok.  (A-muck?)

Nora Ephron:
[1980]  ...There's nothing here [in her collected magazine articles] extraordinary or brilliant; I am a journeyman, and if these articles work, they work as examples of old-fashioned journalism.

[New York, 1970]  Some years ago, the man I am married to told me he had always had a mad desire to go to an orgy.  Why on earth, I asked.  Why not, he said.  Because, I replied, it would be just like the dances at the YMCA I went to in the seventh grade -- only instead of people walking past me and rejecting me, they would be stepping over my naked body and rejecting me.  The image made no impression at all on my husband.  But it has stayed with me -- albeit in another context.  Because working as a journalist is exactly like being the wallflower at the orgy....------------
[end excerpt]

{Wallflower at the Orgy, by Nora Ephron.
Copyright Oct. 1970, Viking;
July 1980, Bantam, div. Random House NY}


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

governments purely elective

In his farewell address at the end of his term as President, George Washington warned us about too much partisanship, calling it "spirit of party" in the parlance of the time:

...The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils, and enfeeble the public administration. 
[Washington gridlock]

It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection.
[Chicago 1968]

 It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion. 
[Rupert Murdoch]

Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty.  This within certain limits is probably true and in governments of a monarchical cast patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. 

But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged.  From their natural tendency it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose; and there being constanty danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it.  A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

it's YOU!

Last night we heard an excellent debate on issues and visions for America, between incumbent President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney.

The form and format of last night's debate was better, I thought, because they had a desk at which to sit.
(That's what we need in this country -- More Desks!)
And the moderator did a really good job.  I'm sure the moderators at the first two debates were trying their best, but that's not an easy role and -- well -- last night went better, I thought -- this moderator was more confident and on top of things.

(If it was me, I would probably get my "condition," or "Disorder" that I generally get if I encounter someone who is well-known -- I'd tell them who they were, like when I saw Paul Paulson....
"You're Pat Paulson!  You're Pat Paulson!"

"You're Barack Obama!"
"You're Mitt Romney!"
"You really are!!...However, now cannot remember own name--Hmmh....")

----------------------------------- I liked it when Gov. Romney said if elected he would "label" China as a "trade manipulator."  Label them.  Declare them.  And he said something like, Free-market competition is fine, but that doesn't mean they can roll all over us....

(Walk all over us.
Roll all over us.
Label them -- roll out the labels....)

Romney was emphatic about redressing the trade imbalance between the U.S. & China:  he said they have to stop
-- holding down the value of their currency,
-- stealing our intellectual property, and
-- counterfeiting products --(I think that was what he said....)

Both Pres. Obama and former Mass. Governor Romney said we need to remain a strong ally to Israel;
Romney said the president was right to increase the use of drones;
when Romney's questioning of the Administration's "moving heaven and earth to get one guy" (Bin Laden) was brought up, the president acknowledged that question as one of balancing priorities, and revealed that Vice President Joe Biden had expressed a similar position...

These are not people who are in wildly extreme disagreement with each other. 
Extremists might not like that.
I do like that.
I scribbled it down when Gov. Romney said, "First I want to underscore the same point the president made...."

Voices that say Pres. Obama is a
"far-left" guy
Mitt Romney is a "right-wing extremist"
are living in a dream world.
(Or saying it because they are Paid to say it on tv...)
You don't get elected in Massachusetts by being a right-wing anything.  It's probably the most Liberal-Democrat State in the country (the only state to go for George McGovern for pres. in 1972).
He got elected there; he's a centrist, like Obama; have a nice day.

Both of these people, who could be
a) Making More Money
b) Living A More Relaxed Life
in the private sector
a very hard and difficult job laden with crushing responsibility, wherein, as an added extra bonus -- idiots call you terrible names and say mean stupid things about you 24-7, everywhere.

Aren't we blessed?
(Not -- blessed -- by the idiots, but I mean by the fact that any upstanding hard-working sane human even wants to offer himself to us as a public servant in that posistion....)

The flip-side of the Power is the Service.  And the service is really all there is; power is fluid.

I think whichever candidate is elected, he should hire the other one to work in his administration.  (That'd fix the scathing pundits!)...And more importantly, consolidate talent and good-will on one team.


Monday, October 22, 2012

speak; whisper

"The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher plain."
--George McGovern, 1922 - 2012


"George McGovern -- always a gentleman and an outstanding member of the Greatest Generation.  RIP."
--U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, via Twitter

"George McGovern was a self-made man who served our nation, in war and in peace, with courage and conviction.  He worked hard on behalf of South Dakota, and made history as the only South Dakotan to be nominated for President.  Linda and I extend our sympathies to the McGovern family."
--South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard

"Ann and I extend our condolences to the family of George McGovern, the unwavering standard bearer of his party and a hero of World War II."
--Former Massachusetts Gov. and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney via Twitter

"George McGovern dedicated his life to serving the country he loved.  He signed up to fight in World War II, and became a decorated bomber pilot over the battlefields of Europe.  When the people of South Dakota sent him to Washington, this hero of war became a champion for peace.  And after his career in Congress, he became a leading voice in the fight against hunger."
--Pres. Barack Obama in an emailed statement

"As the Democratic nominee for president, Senator McGovern put principle over politics and stood up for what he believed in.  He lived his values, dedicating his life to fighting the scourge of poverty here at home and around the world.  The forces of social justice lost a great fighter today, and Senator McGovern will be sorely missed."
--Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., email


[excerpt Politico article, written by Katie Glueck]:

When former Vice President Walter Mondale lost his bid for the presidency in 1984, he paid a visit to Sen. Geoerge McGovern, who, 12 years earlier, similarly lost his presidential race in a landslide.

"I remember when, after I lost my race for president, I went to see George," Mondale told POLITICO in an interview Sunday.  "I said, 'Tell me how long it takes to get over a defeat of this kind.'  He said, 'I'll call you when it happens.' 
I would say his legacy was -- war hero, a brilliant progressive who was able to put in a long and productive life serving progressive causes," said Mondale, a Minnesota Democrat who worked with McGovern in the Senate before serving as President Jimmy Carter's vice president from 1977 to 1981.

"He not only served them in public office, but over the years, he wrote several books, and each had this theme in them -- the progrsesive, decent idea that as Americans, we should be helping each other have a good life."

Mondale, 84, praised McGovern's work on anti-hunger initiatives, citing his record of reaching across the aisle to promote such causes.

"I would say he was more liberal than a lot of his colleagues, but they still respected him, and his work on hunger and nutrition connected him across the board," including to Bob Dole, the former GOP presidential candidate and Senate majority leader, Mondale said, also noting that McGovern was "very well-liked" in the Senate.


George McGovern]:

I am fed up with a system which busts the pot smoker and lets the big dope racketeer go free.

I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.

No man should advocate a course in private that he's ashamed to admit in public.

Politics is an act of faith; you have to show some kind of confidence in the intellectual and moral capacity of the public.

The longer the title, the less important the job.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken-hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be -- yeah,
There will be an answer -- let it be.

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me,
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be,
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

{Lennon / McCartney}


Friday, October 19, 2012


Go with the flow! was the watchword in 1964, when Ken Elton Kesey, ex-wrestler, "Most Likely to Succeed" at Springfield (Oregon) High, star attraction in the Stanford University writing program, and, at twenty-nine, the author of a hugely successful first novel, lay down his pen for a more direct raid on the consciousness game.  The "flow" was acid's undertow, which grabbed at the ankles like a deep current welling up from a distant shore.

{excerpt, Sweet Chaos - The Grateful Dead's American Adventure}

"I'd rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph," Kesey told Tom Wolfe, who celebrates Kesey in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test as "the Sun King, looking bigger all the time, with that great jaw in profile against the redwoods. . . ."  With One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Kesey was a seismograph, recording vibrations from deep within the culture.  The novel's mental hospital, presided over by Nurse Ratched, is a supple metaphor for the politics of adjustment, which dominated the 1950s.  Anything that fouled the smooth workings of the "Combine," as Kesey calls the tyranny of consensus -- with its impersonal, clinical face, not so different from the 1990s -- was crushed.

Now he was messing with the vibrations themselves....his early raids on the cultural mainstream, which included, on one occasion, turning up in Phoenix, Arizona, during the 1964 presidential campaign decked out in American flag regalia and waving a huge placard saying, A VOTE FOR BARRY IS A VOTE FOR FUN.

Nineteen sixty-four was the year Kesey took to the road in the 1939 International Harvester bus, which today lies moldering like a giant turnip in a ravine on his Oregon ranch.  The gaily painted 1948 replica stands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, next to Janis Joplin's Porsche.  In the summer of 1964, speed freak Neal Cassady was the designated driver of the original bus, as he had been for Kerouac and his gang in the 1940s and '50s, when the long-distance vehicle of choice was usually an old jalopy. 

Cassady, who was famous for streaking through the night as his companions slept -- the car's left-front wheel cleaving the median line while the chassis shimmied at ninety miles per hour -- was useful for another reason.  He tied the new hipsters not only to the glorious past but also to a blue-collar Dionysian fantasy (which is where the Hell's Angels come in) that winds like a holding stitch through American bohemianism.  Packed with Pranksters like a fun house on wheels, the magic bus, Furthur (as it was called), circumnavigated the country in a slipstream of lysergic acid, dispensing more roadside mayhem in that breakaway year than a circus on the run.

In 1964, the ground the Pranksters shook was already heaving underfoot.  The summer of 1964 was when the rebel '60s can be said to have parted company with the '50s.  The New Left broke away from the old Left, and from liberals -- first at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, where liberal Democrats sold the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party down the river (or so the rebels believed), thus ending a brief but historic alliance between blacks and whites. 

The second turning point came with the shelling of an American destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin by a North Vietnamese PT boat, followed by massive U.S. air attacks on North Vietnamese bases in reprisal.  Almost overnight, President Lyndon Johnson parlayed the Tonkin Gulf encounter into a major incident, and sailed a de facto declaration of war through a largely liberal Congress. 

The third turning point arrived with the triumph of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) on the University of California's Berkeley campus in the fall of 1964.

It was this trio of prophetic events that social historian Todd Gitlin suggests gave birth to the "[radical] movement's expressive side," along with "the politics of going it alone, or looking for allies in revolution . . . [and] the idea of 'liberation'; the movement as a culture, a way of life apart."  Here is when the seeds of what would later be called "identity politics" were sown; also the idea of the personal as political.  At the same time, the very notion of "a way of life apart" was intensified by the arrival of psychedelics.

...Meanwhile, it's funny how the psychedelic bus trip is never mentioned in the same breath with the year's climactic political occurrences, as if culture and politics run on separate ... tracks, which by and large they do.  ...In popular history, headlines are reserved for the arranged event:  not the magic bus, but the Beatles' 1964 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.  Political milestones mark the triumph of law, like the passage of 1964's Civil Rights Act, rather than landmark steps toward political change, such as the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

{Sweet Chaos, by Carol Brightman.  Copyright,
1998.  POCKET BOOKS / Simon & Schuster - New York,

---------------------------------- I sit there and I read that and I understand -- some of it.  Not all of it.

I wonder if The Who's song "Magic Bus" is about the above-referenced bus....?

Never run outta stuff to wonder about....


Thursday, October 18, 2012

street fight

(Nah -- na-na)

Evry-where I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy --
'Cause summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy
but what can a poor boy do
'Cept to sing for a rock n roll band
Cause in sleepy London town
There's just no place for a street fighting man --

Hey!  I think the time is right for a palace revolution
But where I live the game to play is compromise solution
Well, then what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n roll band
Cause in sleepy London town
There's no place for a street fighting man...

..."Street Fighting Man"
written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
album:  Beggars Banquet
recorded May 1968
released August 31, 1968  (U.S.); July 20, 1970 (U.K.)


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

binders full of women

The phrase "binders full of women" is said to be "going viral" on the Internet.

It was a gently-funny moment in last night's presidential debate when Governor Mitt Romney took a question about work opportunities and pay, for women, and he was telling us how, when he arrived at the Massachusetts statehouse, he perused a list of possibilities for high-level state jobs (or maybe cabinet, I don't know...) and they were all men, and he said, "Why don't we have any women on this list?"  And his people went looking for qualified women, & they compiled lists, and the governor said, by the time they'd done their work, We had -- many women to consider, for those positions -- (warming up to his story) -- we had -- "We had binders full of women!"

I noticed that when he said it, listening --and partially watching-- the proceedings on Internet:  my lips involuntarily formed the words and repeated them..."binders full of women..."  : )

It seemed different, to me, that the president and challenger didn't have podiums to stand behind.  While one talked, the other seemed to be standing, just -- out there by himself, podium-less....
Maybe they had podiums and came out from behind them, to engage at closer range -- I don't know, I was doing stuff while it was on, wasn't "glued" to screen....
...And their dark suits looked the same, to me.

My "take" on this second debate between President Obama and Governor Romney is that it was more energized, vigorous, than the first debate, and that -- the candidates sound amazingly like each other.

They're both in favor of -- er -- women...
and they all wanna save the "middle class" or -- bring it back, or something.
They both favor a "good" economy rather than a poor one.
(It's kind of like the old joke where the one guy tells the other that the minister preached a sermon on sin, and the other guy asks, "For or against?")
Safe to assume both candidates want a Good Economy.

As I listened, I thought,
Romney sounds like Obama -- like yeah, what he said, but me doing the job, instead of him-!
That's always the position the challenger is in, to some extent.
The incumbent has his record (the good parts) to remind us about, but also, anything in the World that's wrong Anywhere, will now be blamed on him by the challenger...!  Lyndon Johnson likened it to being "a jackass in a hailstorm -- all you can do is stand there and take it..."

Some viewers will complain, I think, anytime they think two candidates "sound alike" -- "They both sound alike!  Why should I bother voting?  They're all the same!"  But really, in a civilized society / democracy, the candidates shouldn't be too far apart -- if it was like that, then we'd be like one of those third-world-waking-nightmare-of-a-country where every time there's a change in power, or leadership, it upsets the whole applecart of everything and their whole economy-way-of-life, everything careens wildly in one direction or the other and life becomes untenable.  (That's why they emigrate here!)

The minute the debate was over, voices of television journalists (or tele-prompter-reading anchors, whatever they are) chimed in to tell us what we just voice said something about how this debate was more energized, or something, than the first one, & then an over-exicted guy jumps in and says, "It was a street fight!"

Honestly, where did these people go to journalism school, the Dominican Republic?

In a mall in the Dominican Republic?

It was nothing like a "street fight," you're engaging in overstatement, exaggeration, and sensationalization, which is the opposite of what your job is -- you're not on the Kardashians or the Real Housewives, quit dramatizing, and report it like a grown-up professional.

Thank you and good-night.
Or, as Edward R. Murrow would say,
"Good night and good luck."


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the unknowable

Yesterday, writing and thinking about rock critic Greil Marcus, thought -- I could write about rock and roll and blues music, etc., but mine would come out all,
"I really really like it.  I really really really really really really LIKE this!  It's really really really really really GOOD!  Turn It UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I could do three hundred pages of that, but "They" probably wouldn't publish it....(sigh)

Flipping through a book about the Grateful Dead lately -- the author includes descriptions of (feel like must Whisper this) the LSD that was available in the early 1960s....SEKIY  ("yikes" backwards)  ...The way the "trips" are described -- I'd read it, and then read the paragraph again, & still not be sure of what the author was trying to give us -- maybe it's indescribable.

Something about -- an opening up of a "seam" in the mind and then the person could see and understand things that they couldn't see and understand before.  But it wasn't too clear what was seen and understood -- seemed like maybe something about how each person is not separate, but all part of one big entity.  Which sounds kind of like religion, in a way.

(That's something I've noticed -- some people leave "Society" ("drop out; tune in...") but then they form, or get into, some other group and wind up with the same amount of "rules" or even more, than Society originally had, so what was the point?)

But getting back to the "acid trips":  I was sort of thinking that when I listen to music, sometimes, maybe the positive impact, and thrill, that I experience is kind of like that "seam" opening up in the mind -- only I don't have to worry about dying accidentally, or whatever.  (And the getting naked and running in the woods near Palo Alto -- yeah, they can keep that, thanks anyhow....)

In elementary school and junior high in Rootstown, Ohio, they had programs in the classrooms to scare us (ehr--mm--I mean, educate us) to Never Take Drugs.  Worked on me -- mission accomplished!

Contemplating the Grateful Dead, and remembering how I never really heard their music until I went to college -- and was thinking about how in today's world, kids have everything at their fingertips, with the internet etc. ...

Sometimes when the cuckoo's crying
When the moon is half way down
Sometimes when the night is dying
I take me out and I wander around, I wander 'round

Sunshine, daydream, walking in the tall trees
Going where the wind goes
Blooming like a red rose
Breathing more freely

..."Sugar Magnolia"


roads, seas, times, years

...a few questions...

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes and how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind
the answer is blowin' in the wind

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes and how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes and how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?
The answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind
the answer is blowin' in the wind

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes and how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes and how many deaths will it take 'til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

[copyright 1962, Warner Bros.]

That was my first Bob Dylan song that I ever heard, and I "heard" it by learning to sing it, in 4th grade, in music class.  Mrs. Creswell told us she was going to teach us a song that was written by a man who was "...kind of a -- hippie...." 

Her tone was like a warning,
but her words were like a promise. ...!


Monday, October 15, 2012

I don't buy the concept

Two years ago rock critic Greil Marcus was interviewed by Michael Mechanic, for Mother Jones --

MJ:  Shuffle your iPod and name the first five songs that pop up.

GM:  Don't have an iPod...
1.  Jan and Dean, "Dead Man's Curve"
2.  Robert Johnson, "Come on in My Kitchen"
3.  Kim Carnes, "You Keep Me Hanging On"
4.  Supremes, "Stop!  In the Name of Love"
5.  Cyndi Lauper, "Money Changes Everything"

MJ:  If you don't have an iPod, what was it that you just shuffled?

GM:  My head.

MJ:  Three records or singles you never get sick of listening to?

GM:  Cream, "Crossroads"
Crickets, "Looking for Someone to Love"
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "American Girl"

MJ:  Name a guilty pleasure -- something you like to listen to but don't like to admit it.

GM:  ...I don't buy the concept.

MJ:  Do you have any new favorite bands that we might not have heard of?

GM:  Jockey, Yellow Fever, Woods, DeSoto Rust

MJ:  Let's say an alien came down and wanted to hear the Dylan album that best demonstrates what he's about, which one would you hand the creature?

GM:  Another Side of Bob Dylan.  Confuse the thing.  No reason to give away all our secrets just like that.

MJ:  Can you still listen to Dylan for pleasure?

GM:  Reminds me of what John Lennon said when asksed who the new Chuck Berrys and Jerry Lee Lewises were:  "Are they dead?"  Bob Dylan continues to release odd and unsettling records, and to do odd and unsettling things on stage.  So the term "still" seems meaningless to me.  But the real answer is simple:  I listen to Bob Dylan for pleasure more than I listen to anyone else for pleasure.

I really like that guy.  Greil (Greil??) Marcus.  From California, I think.  Has written these books:

The Doors:  A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years
The Old, Weird America:  The World of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes
Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus:  Wrirtings  1968-2010
When That Rough God Goes Riding:  Listening to Van Morrison
Like a Rolling Stone:  Bob Dylan at the Crossroads
Lipstick Traces:  A Secret History of the 20th Century
Dead Elvis:  A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession
Mystery Train:  Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music

I want them!
And a beach...


Friday, October 12, 2012


...recalls a time "when Hollywood regularly turned out smart and engaging films that crackled with energy and purpose." 

A few blog posts ago, on September 25th and 26th, I found myself being -- shall we say -- somewhat critical of the current State Of Film.  Reading Comments on Internet, discover others feel same way...then today clicked into The L.A. Times for no particular reason and found an article about a new movie directed by Ben Affleck called "Argo" I read it, the article made it sound to me like "Argo" meets the standards I was talking about, or trying to talk about....Reading the article, I thought, Well Ben Affleck, it was nice of you to read my blog and then go out and get to work and make a film addressing my concerns about quality....!  Thank-y'...(!)

Article in L.A. Times, written by Oliver Gettel:
Three movies into his directing career, Ben Affleck has reached back to the 1970s with the political thriller "Argo."  Based on the true story of a daring, outlandish CIA rescue mission during the Iranian hostage crisis in which the agency disguised six U.S. Embassy employees as members of a Hollywood film crew, "Argo" is full of period details...even a Serpico-like beard for Affleck, who also stars as CIA exfiltration expert Tony Mendez.

Affleck's throwback approach seems to extend beyond production design as well, with the film's old-fashioned combination of smarts and suspense earning favorable reviews and comparisons to the work of Sydney Pollack ("Three Days of the Condor") and Alan J. Pakula ("The Parallax View," "All the President's Men").

The Times' Kenneth Turan writes that "Argo" recalls a time "when Hollywood regularly turned out smart and engaging films that crackled with energy and purpose."  Affleck handles his double duties well, delivering a "reined in" performance while he "easily orchestrates this complex film with 120 speaking parts as it moves from inside-the-Beltway espionage thriller to inside Hollywood dark comedy to gripping international hostage drama, all without missing a step."  Affleck is aided by cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto's "beautifully textured shots" and "the brisk, propulsive editing of William Goldenberg."

The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern agrees that Affleck has come into his own as a filmmaker, writing, "as director and star of 'Argo,' he has deployed a studio's full-scale resources on an intrinsically dramatic story, and the results are nothing less than sensational." 

Morgenstern also commends Argo's Hollywood subplot, which dramatizes the involvement of actual filmmakers in the rescue mission.  John Goodman "brings his droll wit to the role of [real-life Hollywood makeup artist] John Chambers," and Alan Arkin steals his scenes as the sharp-tongued has-been movie director Lester Siegel (a composite character).

The New York Times' Manohla Dargis calls Argo "a smart, jittery thriller" with a "doozy of a story."  Working from a script by Chris Terrio (based on Mendez's book "The Master of Disguise" and Joshuah Bearman's 2007 Wired article "The Great Escape"), Affleck "embellishes the official story without eviscerating it." 

He also displays a touch for pacing, "easing from the high anxiety of the opener . . . into something looser, mellower and funny" in the Hollywood scenes, which provide an effective counterpoint to "the increasingly tense, perilous situation in Tehran."

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times finds ARGO to be "both spellbinding and surprisingly funny," with many of the laughs coming courtesy of Goodman and Arkin...."The craft in this film," Ebert says, "is rare."

...LA Weekly's Karina Longworth ... adds that ARGO is "an embodiment of the kind of quality, adult film that really shouldn't be an endangered species."  Who says they don't make them like they used to?

[end article, written by Oliver Gettel]
THAT'S what-uh-was talkin'about...!