|2 Nov 2008 @ 11:55|
My epitaph? My epitaph will be, "Curiosity did not kill this cat."
---Studs Terkel (May 16, 1912-October 31, 2008)
A school of trout
the color of water!
People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.
The vote gets sung out in Ohio. Photo by Michael Gruber.
Maybe it was the Depression, and how all the people had to pull together to get us out of it. Maybe it was the New Deal, and all those agencies planting trees, building dams, cleaning up towns, cities, the countryside, encouraging art, literature, music, theater, movies. Maybe it was uprooted people, from the Dust Bowl and lost jobs, traveling around, bumming around, looking all over this great land for a new home. Maybe it was whole families of folk music collectors and performers: the Seegers, the Lomaxes, the Carters. Maybe it was radio, broadcasting jazz and country from small towns, heard by producers passing through, who stopped and brought them to the big cities for us all to hear. Maybe it was Woody Guthrie, riding the rails, writing down and singing out what he saw. Maybe it was World War II, making us all get together again to fight Fascism. After all that there was such relief, we just had to celebrate ourselves.
So it was that we kids, just entering school in the mid and late nineteen forties, got taught folk music in our classes. In my small city in western New York, where Sicilians and Swedes shared each other's very different cultures in order to manufacture furniture, we didn't sing that stuff every day. A few classes had pianos and teachers who could play them, but most of the time we had to depend on just one itinerant music teacher who visited each of our half dozen neighborhood grade schools once a week. But when she came she taught us the great American cowboy and folk songs those families of collectors had found in the mountains and prairies. We developed a pride in being American by learning our heritage that way.
By the early 1950s, folk music had gained such popularity we heard it on the radio. You could hear live performances like the Grand Ol' Opry and big bands and jazz groups from Chicago and New York and New Orleans at night, when AM radio carried a long way. But there were records on the juke box too. Probably most popular of all was a singing and playing quartet called The Weavers. Their records were on Decca, and they had big arrangements, with dozens of violins and choral singers, of tunes we had sung in 3rd grade. Wow! On Top Of Old Smoky...and then one we hadn't heard before, called Good Night Irene. And around that time, I heard them sing another "new" song, which was called This Land Is Your Land...and I loved it so much I was overjoyed to learn some people even wanted it to replace our National Anthem. More >
|21 Jun 2008 @ 11:14|
Dead, our white bones lie silent
when pine trees lean toward spring.
Remembering, I sigh. Looking ahead,
I sigh once more.
This life is a mist. What fame?
But, but, but...The Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Hudson Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Reason Foundation, the American Freedom Coalition and the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (among others) have been spending considerable time and energy explaining that all is well with the world and that things could get even better if we would only come to our senses and get government off the backs of corporations...
Government is harmful and corporations and corporate libertarianism are a boundless good. I mean, ask DuPont, Chevron, Mobil, Monsanto, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, General Electric, General Dynamics, Philip Morris, Chemical Bank, Texaco, Westinghouse, the Western Coal Council and the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
---comment yesterday evening by Anonymous
So what does this kind of "individualism" mean? Freedom from government? Okay, then does that mean we don’t want any of the services only government can provide? Such as good roads, schools, parks, public safety, clean air and water, oversight, restaurant and food inspections, fire and police services, health care, etc.?
I guess once all these “intrusive” government services (which steal our freedoms) are gone we can finally begin to enjoy the blessings of true freedom. Remember: “tax dollars don’t belong to big government, they belong to you.” Oh yeah? Then who is government if not us, a reflection of who we are? Even if bought up by every corporate interest with a lobbyist we still choose our reps. Select them.
---comment yesterday by Paul Quintanilla
A monumental undulating steel wall by Richard Serra will be the first thing you see when you step inside the new Broad Contemporary Art Museum, Renzo Piano's three-story building for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
I have a colleague at work who talks all the time about his piece of the pie. He's also semi-retired, a few years my junior, which placed him in Viet Nam as a Marine. Nearly every day he boasts he's a conservative, and often identifies me, in front of faculty and students, as his "favorite liberal." He means it mockingly though, and is not known as someone who listens patiently to someone's argument against what he believes. He comes from coalmining stock around here, learned to work hard as a boy, took tough discipline knocks, and found out what he thinks is important in life his own way. He attends an evangelical church and doesn't like uppity women---and let's 'em know it. He didn't think America was "ready" for a woman president. I've never heard him mention the name Barack Obama.
I'm not sure what he means exactly by his piece of the pie. I don't think it's limited just to stuff he can buy with his hard-earned dollars. But that's a lot of it. He hates taxes that limit his spending because the money seems to go to lazy, no-good people through the hands of corrupt bureaucrats. He follows the boss' orders (unless he can avoid it by laying low) but generally doesn't tolerate being told what to do. He often mentions his distaste for anti-littering campaigns---but chastises students more than anyone else if they toss something onto the ground. He's a pretty average joe I guess, especially in his own eyes.
I used to indulge him in the past more than I do now. I think he's gotten the point, over the last year especially. that I won't good-naturedly laugh off his jagged barbs anymore, but now come back in kind. He's not sure what to do with that, since I'm not sure he learned anywhere that there are good things to come from open discussion. He prefers a chain of command I think, where rank largely has been earned through demonstrable accomplishment. Corporations have been filled with men like this in the United States...but as to whether women approve of this approach---well, that would be a different article. This is about that piece of the pie, whether such a pie really exists, and what you really need to do to be part of it. More >
|16 Mar 2008 @ 11:12|
I know what the great cure is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world.
New Year's morning
in the house where I was born.
For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river.
I thought Friday was particularly black. I envisioned it being called Black Friday someday. The bottom was dropping out of the American and world economy. Had anyone even bothered to construct a bottom for it? To save the day the Fed was starting to bail out greedy banks again...and using our taxes to do it. China was killing the marchers in Tibet. Bush overruled the Environmental Protection Agency, even in its pathetic weakened state, to benefit coal-fired power plants and other industries that emit ground-level ozone that gives us smog. I sent out and posted Tom Toles' cartoon for that day showing Uncle Sam in bed with a barrel of oil and oozing extra excitement at how expensive "she" was. It was a black day dawning.
I began to get replies to the cartoon from resonating friends. Reid Sinclair, a lecturer in management systems at OU and active Episcopalian in Appalachian ministries, sent me a copy of a letter from his brother-in-law in Houston. It so happens the man is none other than the esteemed Rolfian analyst Nicholas French. He was sharing the dour forecast of a close friend of his named Jim Swayze. I thought if these guys can feel bad too, I must not be completely out of synch. More >
|30 Jan 2008 @ 10:27|
There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is rapture in the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music is its roar.
I love not man the less, but nature more.
In my middle years I became fond of the Way
And made my home in the foothills of South Mountain.
When the spirit moves me I go off by myself
To see things that I alone must see.
I follow the stream to the source,
And sitting there, watch for the moment
When clouds rise up. Or I may meet a woodsman;
We talk and laugh and forget about going home.
To establish ourselves amid perfect emptiness in a single flash is the essence of wisdom.
The photo, taken by my daughter Ilona, is of the toxic iron/aluminum mix constantly flowing out of an abandoned coal mine at Snow Fork, Ohio. Snow Fork is the most heavily polluted stream in the Monday Creek watershed. A look at what it takes to clean it up is at this pdf [link] .
When the company moves on to---uhhh, greener pastures and meadows, it seems as if the taxpayer gets handed the bill for cleanup and care for displaced workers. I don't know who thinks this is such a great system. I know there's nobody cheerfully cleaning up any mess I may leave out from day to day. But then, I guess I don't provide wages to people for jobs that create my mess. I guess that must be the secret of success and wealth.
I suppose there are some companies that clean up the mess, and maybe even do it out of gratitude to a community that provided workers---rather than for a tax incentive. But the coal companies didn't in Appalachia, and the people left behind, many lured from homes elsewhere, sometimes struggle for generations to get back on their feet. That people eventually drink the water from Snow Fork is a testament to what can be done---but it's costly.
In other areas where coal was king around where I live, people are turning their legacies into historical projects. At New Straitsville, there's a cave where disgruntled workers huddled to form a union, and the United Mineworkers was born. Now there's a park and museum at the beautiful site. Inside you can learn about a misguided job action that purposely set a fire in the mine 125 years ago, and it's still burning today.
Up the road apiece at Shawnee, a place that once was a boom town is rebuilding. Grants are needed and slowly they are gathering. The architecture at Shawnee is unique and amazing, but the town is very poor and first the people need to become inspired. An astonishing theater at Shawnee is being restored, but it takes years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to do something like that. If it gets done it will be a showplace for the whole region. The owners run a giftshop across the street, and you should stop by.
These are a couple of the towns of a ravaged area becoming known as the Little Cities of the Forest...or of the Black Diamonds. Chunks of coal used to be called black diamonds when they were the main fuel of US industrialization. Since the State ended up with a lot of the land, Ohio has established state forests these past 70 years for recreation and hiking. The museums and restorations are coming along as people regain the pride they have for these towns, many of them built by the companies but now Home for 3 generations.
In neighboring Pennsylvania we hear about another approach. Erik Reece, who teaches at the University of Kentucky, has written about radical strip mining over the last few years. Most people in coal country know his name by now, because he has brought so many Appalachian problems to national attention. He has a new article in the current issue of the Orion magazine, and it's about turning the mess into art...which transformation takes quite a stretch~~~ More >
|25 Nov 2007 @ 11:18|
Space and Time! now I see it is true, what I guess'd at,
What I guess'd when I loaf'd on the grass,
What I guess'd while I lay alone in my bed,
And again as I walk'd the beach under the paling stars of the morning.
Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul.
There is no end to the opening up that is possible for a human being.
---Charlotte Joko Beck
The painting by John Schutler is Home to Thanksgiving, published 1867 by Currier and Ives.
I'm sure Americans gathered around their tables on Thursday, grateful for companionship and family...but uncertain how far the "commonwealth" spreads anymore. What we still can hold in common, even the values, seems up for grabs from all sides. Conservatives talk about compassion, but the world they live in resembles the cave and Hobbesian misery.
At more than a few Thanksgiving dinners, probably the name Scott McClellan was mentioned. He was the cute press link to the Oval Office for 3 years, dancing around questions daily. Much of what he had to do was keep things secret. We're at war and only Commander Decider can know...or the case is in litigation and it wouldn't be proper to comment...or Congress is investigating and we'll see what they find out. On April 21st next year a book by McClellan will be published, entitled WHAT HAPPENED: Inside the Bush White House and What's Wrong with Washington. Probably nobody would have noticed this coming event had not its distinguished publisher, PublicAffairs Books, put an excerpt bombshell on its website:
"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.
"There was one problem. It was not true.
"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the President himself."
The item really hit the news the day before Thanksgiving, and so there were whispers and hushed tones midst the dressing and drumsticks Thursday. What will happen? Will anything happen? Why do we feel like conspirators with such talk? Is this East Germany before the Wall came down..or is this the Free World? Why does the war machine roll on, looting the Treasury, robbing us blind? In a column on July 6, 2007, Joe Galloway asked why the Bush administration "looks remarkably more like an organized crime ring than one of the arms of the American government?" It must be fear that silences the nation. Cat's got our tongue. More >
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