jazzoLOG - Category: Opinions    
 Learn To Play Ball77 comments
picture20 Sep 2008 @ 16:54
Butterfly listens
at the flowerpot:
true teaching.


And do not change. Do not divert your love from visible things. But go on loving what is good, simple and ordinary; animals and things and flowers, and keep the balance true.

---Rainer Maria Rilke

Old gnarled trees
darken the trail:
Where is the temple bell?

---Li Po

The drawing by Luis Quintanilla in Barcelona, 1938
Today's headline: Bush asks Congress for $700 billion for bailout

Growing up from boy to man: play some kind of ball and watch cowboys. Those were the keys to American success in my childhood. Eventually become fulfilled in business was what a guy was supposed to do, to be. I took one course in economics at Bates. The prof was young, bald and interesting, but I don't remember any of it. Not a word. It was a foreign language...without translation. There was a girl in the front row, beside his desk, I found fascinating...and so I spent the semester staring at her, until finally she noticed. I do remember Kay, from Springfield.

Baseball I liked and still do...sorta. I have to say when the Dodgers left Brooklyn, the very heart of the game cracked somehow. Now, I don't know how all the leagues work even, and I never liked pinch hitters to say nothing of these designated hitter dudes. The sound of an aluminum bat makes me sick. I never was very good at playing it, but I had some cherished moments doing so. I connect baseball more with jazz than selling cars, I guess because of the notion of teamwork...which seems to be for the support of the individual rather than the other way around---on top of which sits the owner. Or at least it used to SEEM to be like that, before football became America's preferred sport. Jazz players remain on the economic edge, but baseball stars make millions.

I went to the movies most Saturday afternoons, and usually one of the double features was a Western. Cowboys I got to know---oh, not the ones that actually herd cows: I mean the cleancut nice guys with a beautiful horse and powerful punch, who had to leave Melody Ranch (or whatever) to clean up the town and toss the rich saloonkeeper and his gang into the hoosegow. Or as we moved into the "adult Western," Shane alone and haunted keeping the open range safe from the greedy cattleman and available to the average guy like you and me and Brandon de Wilde. And Jean Arthur.  More >

 Apocalypse Anonymous33 comments
picture13 May 2008 @ 09:52
Winter solitude---
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.


Loneliness, my everyday life.
The sweeping winds pass on the night-bell sound.

---Ching An

Science...means unresting endeavor and continually progressing development toward an end which the poetic intuition may apprehend, but which the intellect can never fully grasp.

---Max Planck

The fresco is titled The End of the World, Apocalypse, created by Luca Signorelli from 1499 through 1502, in Orvieto Cathedral, San Brizio Chapel, Orvieto, Italy.

Bill McKibben's latest essay, Civilization’s Last Chance: The Planet Is Nearing a Tipping Point on Climate Change, and It Gets Much Worse, Fast, may have appeared first in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, but it's making the rounds fast. Common Dreams put it up yesterday and it has 146 comments so far. [link] When I read it my first thought was to send it out too, but then I realized I was too depressed to do it. What's the use, I thought. People who will read it already know and either are changing their own personal habits or sending money somewhere. Those who won't read it are the problem.

Psychotherapist and professor of history Carolyn Baker linked it in her newsletter and made this comment: "I have great respect for Bill McKibben, but unlike me, he is still waiting for some miracle of mass consciousness to save civilization. In this article he says we are 'nearing' a tipping point which in my opinion, we have already crossed. I believe that climate change now has a life of its own and that our best human efforts cannot stop it. In contrast to McKibben, I believe that it is only the END of civilization that can save what is left of the earth and its inhabitants, and for me, that cannot happen soon enough."

A friend of mine said a couple years ago, "The sooner we run out of oil the better. Aren't a hundred years of war about the stuff enough?" NASA climatologist James Hansen, quoted in McKibben's article, thinks burning coal to make our electricity is what's done it. President Bush said the U.S. is "addicted" to oil...and then advises us to go shopping. The guy sounds like a pusher. I remember his father being interviewed on television, sitting on the family cabin cruiser in Kennebunkport, in the midst of the gasoline shortage during his administration. At the end of it he was asked if he didn't want to urge Americans to conserve gas. He chuckled audibly...and then said, "Sure, conserve."

Is this the problem? Are we addicts now? I mean real addiction to stuff. Do we think we can't live without gasoline engines and the shopping mall? Or is it I don't want to live if I can't have it? I remember a guy in AA telling me once, "Before I gave it up I used to feel all I wanted to do was drink and smoke until I die." Maybe AA is the answer for consumerism too. Carolyn Baker thinks it is...and so last week she offered her 12 Step Plan to kick the habit. Maybe she's got something here.  More >

 What's With Hillary?34 comments
picture24 Feb 2008 @ 13:25
We must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.

---Indira Gandhi

If we knew that tonight we were going to go blind, we would take a longing, LAST real look at every blade of grass, every cloud formation, every speck of dust, every rainbow, raindrop---everything.

---Pema Chodron

An adult is one who has lost the grace, the freshness, the innocence of the child, who is no longer capable of feeling pure joy, who makes everything complicated, who spreads suffering everywhere, who is afraid of being happy, and who, because it is easier to bear, has gone back to sleep. The wise man is a happy child.

---Arnaud Desjardins

The photo of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, taken by Melanie Burford for the Dallas Morning News, held my attention this morning from the instant I saw it. I think it's a great American face there, worthy of Mt. Rushmore. I'm not kidding, and I'm not saying it's a stone cold face. I mean that's a presidential face we're looking at. There's no doubt in my mind this candidate could handle the job. Except...except...

What is wrong with that picture? This is a portrait of a person in conflict. Cover the left side of her face as you're looking at her. In the half you see there's even a flicker of a smile, an openness, a quality of friendliness that I know she has. Now cover the other half. Woe, there is a person you wouldn't want to cross. Something unforgiving there in someone who's been banged around a lot.

I attempt this crude and rather adolescent psychology on Hillary Rodham Clinton because a certain unpredictability has permeated her campaign as well. If you watched her in debate with Barack Obama Thursday night, you saw it too. I didn't know what she was going to do next. She seems genuinely to like the man when she's standing right in front of him, looking him in the face. But then she'll go back to the it-should-be-in-your-own-words thing, and draw a shudder of disappointment from Obama, and boos from the crowd. Who is this person?

Maureen Dowd goes after it this morning, and while I do some shuddering myself at the masculine/feminine behavior characteristics in the column, I think she's on to something. She thinks Clinton is calculating her different approaches to impress various voting groups. She wants to be tough and macho for some, and sensitive and understanding for others. I think I have to differ with Ms. Dowd on this, though I'm really glad she noticed the stuff and decided to write about it. I'm not sure Senator Clinton is in control of how she's coming off. I think she's reeling from blows received in the ring.

Bill Clinton will be in Athens tomorrow, and I'm afraid the announcement came too late for me to clear my calendar. I do hope to get to it before it's all over, trusting he'll be an hour late like most of these guys. Former President Clinton is the first, and I hope not the last, of the big names to get to this important corner of the state. As the rest of the Ohio continually reminds us, we're rather different here. Some people even refer to Southeast Ohio as the West Virginia part of the state. There's some truth to that, going all the way back to glacial times. But let's not get into climate change.

Or maybe we should. When ARE these candidates going to mention it? And did you see McCain's record of environment votes? [link] Check out the fascinating final part of that blog entry to see how the new legislators, who replaced NINE of the 12 so-called "dirty dozen" in the last election, are doing.

Here's the link to Maureen Dowd's column this morning. [link] Let me say in another criticism of it (and I'm grateful to my online acquaintance Elle for reminding me of this), while Shirley Chisholm's presidential run in 1972 may not have been taken seriously she definitely was a serious candidate. I supported her too, just as far as she could go. [link]  More >

 Ernest Chappell's A Christmas Carol78 comments
picture22 Dec 2007 @ 13:11
Four years ago I wrote an article about a radio production of Dickens' Christmas Carol that my father constructed in our hometown back in the 1940s. He had based his presentation on an RCA Victor set of 4 12" 78 RPM records of the story, produced by famed radio personality Ernest Chappell in 1941. Nothing I've ever written has yielded such a prolonged response. Google still carries it and eventually Wikipedia picked it up in its entry about Chappell.

Each year I get requests from people in at least the English-speaking world for CD copies of that old RCA release, which of course is long gone in its original form (although EBay sometimes offers one I understand). In my original essay, I offer to make a copy for anyone---and that offer still stands.

In honor of radio drama and all the actors who made a living in that unique format---and who had such a huge impact on my life---I've decided to re-post the article...and some of the comments that have appeared since. My main motivation is the interactions with those people who want a copy, and the stories they tell of how much this production meant to them and their families. Hopefully the search engines will be reinvigorated and other people will get some answers---and maybe provide more!

The image accompanying this version is of the cover of the original set of records. It was sent to me by a contact this year in Ontario. The photograph I refer to at the beginning of the essay can still be seen at the original printing here [link] .  More >

 This Is Worse Than Viet Nam28 comments
picture17 Sep 2007 @ 09:57
People in the West are always getting ready to live.

---Chinese proverb

If you're afraid of being grabbed by God, don't look at a wall. Definitely don't sit still.

---Jiyu Kennett

When the mind is not aroused, this is discipline.
When the mind is unmoved, this is concentration.
When the mind is not obscured, this is insight.


Frank Rich is a columnist for The New York Times who focuses on American politics and cultural trends. His column yesterday~~~

Will the Democrats Betray Us?
By Frank Rich
The New York Times
Sunday 16 September 2007

"Sir, I don't know, actually": The fact that America's surrogate commander in chief, David Petraeus, could not say whether the war in Iraq is making America safer was all you needed to take away from last week's festivities in Washington. Everything else was a verbal quagmire, as administration spin and senatorial preening fought to a numbing standoff.

Not that many Americans were watching. The country knew going in that the White House would win its latest campaign to stay its course of indefinitely shoveling our troops and treasure into the bottomless pit of Iraq. The only troops coming home alive or with their limbs intact in President Bush's troop "reduction" are those who were scheduled to be withdrawn by April anyway. Otherwise the president would have had to extend combat tours yet again, mobilize more reserves or bring back the draft.

On the sixth anniversary of the day that did not change everything, General Petraeus couldn't say we are safer because he knows we are not. Last Sunday, Michael Scheuer, the former chief of the C.I.A.'s Osama bin Laden unit, explained why. He wrote in The Daily News that Al Qaeda, under the de facto protection of Pervez Musharraf, is "on balance" more threatening today that it was on 9/11. [link] And as goes Pakistan, so goes Afghanistan. On Tuesday, just as the Senate hearings began, Lisa Myers of NBC News reported on a Taliban camp near Kabul in an area nominally controlled by the Afghan government we installed. It is training bomb makers to attack America. [link]

Little of this registered in or beyond the Beltway. New bin Laden tapes and the latest 9/11 memorial rites notwithstanding, we're back in a 9/10 mind-set. Bin Laden, said Frances Townsend, the top White House homeland security official, "is virtually impotent." Karen Hughes, the Bush crony in charge of America's P.R. in the jihadists' world, recently held a press conference anointing Cal Ripken Jr. our international "special sports envoy." We are once more sleepwalking through history, fiddling while the Qaeda not in Iraq prepares to burn.

This is why the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq, including those more accurate than Mr. Bush's recent false analogies, can take us only so far. Our situation is graver than it was during Vietnam.  More >

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