Saturday, August 1, 2020

old is the mode

A Taiwanese octogenarian couple who run a small-town laundry service have become an online fashion sensation by modelling abandoned clothes on Instagram....
The couple hope to use their new social media clout to promote the concept of “environmental fashion”.
“Instead of following fast fashion and keep buying new clothes, we hope people can see that old and second-hand clothes can be fashionable if you arrange and combine them in new ways,” said Reef. “This would cause less damage to the earth and the environment.”

half-assed bias

Even before the worldwide flu epidemic sank its public-relations talons into China in December 2019, a half-assed bias was circulating in my mind. Not serious, mind you, but still nudging: I really did not want to communicate with people who grew and hid behind au courant beards and likewise I vowed in a whisper not communicate with people sporting and failing to doff aviator glasses (often with mirror lenses). I was sick of not seeing the honest face of whomever I was talking with.

And then along came the virus and the preventive masks.

Masks on top of masks.

Ick.

How was I supposed to be in an honest conversation with someone hiding in this way. Where was the bear-bottom person I blithely assumed I might be talking to?

Now, seven months into the "pandemic," many, if not most, are wearing masks. Since there is little or no contact anyway, the bias failed to get lift-off. Everyone's hidden. And if everyone is hidden, is anyone really any longer "hidden?"

I still don't like it, either as fashion statement or health-provider. Beards.

Where you at????

Yes, yes -- I know: Beards are fashionable as well as being health-reminders. In fashion....

I still don't trust you, whether or not you play sports.

As I say -- not serious. Just nudging ... like my old stand-by's about people with blue eyes or blond hair ... weak.

What a lot of tripe my mind confects.

PS. A spate of hot weather lately ... 80's into the 90's F. And humid in large measure. Hurricanes are brewing between Africa and the Caribbean and the plain old flu season lurks. Thank goodness the air conditioning hasn't yet gone down. Poverty creeps and nips up the economic ladder. Jobs are lost. Financial safety nets are withdrawn.

Keep your eyes on the prize ... George Bush and then Donald Trump accomplished the one thing the wealthy wanted -- a reduction in taxes. Everything else is eyewash.

Friday, July 31, 2020

tomato season

I wonder if anyone can/will connect the dots between U.S. President Donald Trump's disdain for migrants/farm workers and the fact that getting a real tomato is nigh on to impossible in this, the tomato, season.

Monsanto has taken over tomatoes. Tomatoes are now perfectly red and ripe and.... PHONY!

A real tomato is the kind of orb that was once boosted from a neighbor's yard, bitten into and then posed the problem of trying to figure out how to clean up the dribble-and-drooze that dripped down onto the white shirt I insisted on putting on this year ... again.

Monsanto or other likely suspects have created a thick-skinned-no-juiced thing that a migrant worker might have picked with delicacy, but a machine can pick quicker (thick skin). People actually buy this shit as if it were a "tomato." Yes, Virginia, big farma has caught you by the short hairs.

These days, real tomatoes are referred to as (of all fucking things) "heirlooms." Lumpy, bumpy, irregularly shaped and colored ... and drizzly. Lord, I used to love 'em. You treated them with care. The skin was as thin as the juice was juicy.

No doubt there's a link between Trump and the lousy tomatoes in my supermarket. Of all the D.C. scams and hi-jinx, tomatoes (in season) burn my torches most brightly.

Wish I had the savvy and energy to track it all down and find a box/basket for Donald Trump in his next lifetime.




Wednesday, July 29, 2020

advertising ... lest we forget

Slip-sliding around the television channels the other night, I came upon some historical retrospective that seemed to take place around the turn of the last century. Specifically, the comment that caught my attention was a reference to the very first recognition and use of advertising. I want to say somewhere around 1900 or something like that, but that doesn't seem quite right ... anyway ...
... The advent of advertising and the fresh-off-the-frying-pan summation of advertising as an exercise in the attempt to 
... get people to buy things they don't need.
... Imagine that -- knowing what you actually need and then going to the store and buying that thing. Period.
 
What would stores look like? What would rows and rows of more and more stuff become? What would anyone's life be like without the advertising assault? Just buy what you decide you need and can afford and then move on.

But, but, but ... the mind is so awash in advertising these days that imagining life without it seems ... well ... unimaginable.

My neighbor Joe once went to Kenya with his church group to help build school houses and dig wells. He took two suit cases with him. When he returned several months later, he had one. "I didn't need all that stuff," he said of the satisfying lessons he learned among those who had less than he did.

Try spending a day -- hell! half a day -- without buying anything you don't need. Imagine a day without advertising of any sort.

In the early days of advertising, I once sent a quarter to a radio ad address that offered wildflower seeds. In my youth, I thought that if I sent the quarter, they might delete the ad and stop interrupting the soap operas I liked listening to. Count me as an early sucker, obviously, though there was less followup junk mail than there is these days.

Try it ... go to the store. Buy what you need. Go home.

Monday, July 27, 2020

corporations and cops and, well, you know, the usual suspects

Corporations, as in other times, seem to know which side their bread is buttered on:
Big corporations accused of driving environmental and health inequalities in black and brown communities through toxic and climate-changing pollution are also funding powerful police groups in major US cities, according to a new investigation.
Trump is using federal agents as his 'goon squad', says Ice's ex-acting head. Some of America’s largest oil and gas companies, private utilities, and financial institutions that bankroll fossil fuels also back police foundations – opaque private entities that raise money to pay for training, weapons, equipment, and surveillance technology for departments across the US. The investigation by the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit corporate and government accountability research institute, and its research database project LittleSis, details how police foundations in cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Washington, New Orleans and Salt Lake City are partially funded by household names such as Chevron, Shell and Wells Fargo.
The best democracy money can buy?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

heart-breaking and arrogant

-- My sister, a licensed social worker with a penchant, irrespective of licensing, for helping people, told me the other day that she had seen an uptick in patients seeking help since the advent of the worldwide flu. In fact, she had been turning people away. (This dovetails, anecdotally, with my feeling that the world flu epidemic is as deadly, if not more so, as a psychology-crusher, a heart-breaker worse than death.

I look for suicides, if anyone's computing such things, to rise up in the same way it did during the Depression-era 1930's and might at that time be noticed en passant by such as the Philidelphia Inquirer, which I once consulted on another matter. Heads in the oven seemed, at that time, to make good one- or two-paragraph filler.

-- I might have made a more easy person in this life if I had sat at the head of someone's table -- you know, the table at which the man sits at the head and rules, has rigidities understood and acceded to. It is easier to acknowledges class and stature than to attempt to leap over the class boundary. The older I get, the more I am convinced there are, in fact, classes in this society. Not good, not bad, just classes because there is not enough time or capacity to go-classless so to speak. Believing in classes is as ridiculous as not-believing in them. The movie "Heaven's Gate," however imperfect, put me in mind of this.

-- I slept much of this day away. It's another -- five? six? seven? -- hot and humid one. Blessedly, the air-conditioning has gone off only tick-tock briefly. Humidity brings me to my knees. How did we survive without air conditioning in the brick-oven of Manhattan before air-conditioning?

-- In a blip of television yesterday, a nun-actress accuses a priest-actor of "arrogance" in his profession. "Arrogance" may not be pitch-perfect as a descriptor, but it's pretty damned close when it comes to religion.

No insult intended: Give it a chance, and anything can be arrogant.


Saturday, July 25, 2020

bring back spittoons?

In an early colonial compendium of good manners was a phrase that stuck with me:
"... and if you must spit, spit in the corner."

At 80, I can see what I never did at 40 -- the usefulness of spittoons. I know sports guys and possibly duck hunters spit a lot, but spitting as a manly or polite way of conducting life just never seemed to cross my bow outside a spitting contest with the black smith who visited and did the shoe-ing at the school I attended when young.

Is it too soon or too arrogant to raise up yet another cry/whinge/plaint "Bring back spittoons?" Or does it clash too forcefully with the bling nation we are being weaned away from as the flu epidemic drowns the world?

By deploying troops in Portland, Ore., as of late, Donald Trump has substituted his brand of fascism for Bernie Sanders' unexamined "socialism." Just a quirk, I suppose. I think Trump had always wanted a fascist role model, but I think he struck too soon. There's too much push-back. Yes, the lords will be lords and the peasants will be relegated to the role of peasants, but will Trump emerge as the latest Duce?

Someone has to give Trump a door to walk through ... to lose the presidential election Nov. 3, while seeming or claiming to win. This is spittin' material, I wot.

Friday, July 24, 2020

the murder that cannot be adjudicated

Passed along in email ... long-ish, but a hell of a read.
Mario Escamilla was furious. A colleague of his, nicknamed Porky, had just stolen his jug of raisin wine. So the 33-year-old Escamilla grabbed a rifle and set out to reclaim it. He had no idea he was about to get tangled up in one of the knottiest homicides in history—a killing that also raises serious questions about how humankind should handle the first, inevitable murder in outer space.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

rant time: CLOSE ALL AMERICAN SCHOOLS for the rest of the year

With any luck, the current epidemic sweeping the world will wipe out at least two words I think of as utterly deserving of demise:

HERO .... and ... NORMAL.

People who currently go to work, if you ask them, are likely to say they go to work because they have to work .... they need the money ... they have bills to pay ... hero-ism is bullshit for others to wave around as if they knew what they were talking about. If, at the one extreme, death is an act of heroism, then every graveyard counts. Anyone can die ... get over it! Whimper, whine, piss and moan ... get over it. There is nothing heroic in death. There is only death ... or birth... or life. Get...over... it. Stop dragging others down with words like "hero."

And as to "normal" -- isn't it time to recalibrate that word. Normal as is boutiques and bling and tea shops and pinch pottery and art displays perused by woeful, thoughtful thin women and small cups of strong coffee that cost too much and clothing people only wear once, if at all, and large plates with small-smaller-smallest-but-or-so-arty displays of 'gourmet' food that leave a hungry man hungry and toreador pants with a new name in a new time and rising neck lines to match rising pandemic lines ....

C'mon!

JUST CLOSE THE SCHOOLS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR. ALL OF THEM. NATIONWIDE.

MANDATE MASKS. NATIONWIDE.

WILL THERE BE LOSSES? YES THERE WILL. AND BLOOD AS WELL. AND A GOOD DEAL OF SANITY. DO IT ANYWAY AND STOP LOLLIGAGGING. YES, I DON'T WANT TO DIE, BUT, AS ABOVE ... GET OVER IT.


RE-FUND THE POLICE. IS THERE A DANGER OF FASCISM? YES THERE IS BUT THE FASCISM IS PROBABLY PREFERABLE TO THE RELIGIOUS MALFEASANCE THAT MIGHT OTHERWISE BE APPLIED UNDER THE LABEL OF 'HEALING.' WHEN THE EPIDEMIC IS OVER -- OR TAMED OR WHATEVER IT IS GOING TO BE -- THERE WILL BE A NEED FOR A UNIFYING FORCE. EVERYONE .... EVERYONE WANTS TO BE SAFE AND THE COPS ARE THE BEST OF WHAT MAY BE SEEN AS A BAD BARGAIN. BROWN, PINK, BLACK, WOMAN, MAN ... EVERYONE WANTS TO BE SAFE. NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO BE A CHRISTIAN OR JEW OR MUSLIM OR HINDU OR BUDDHIST OR WHATEVER-THE-FUCK-ALL. WHICH IS WORSE, ASSUMING SOME SORT OF LEADERSHIP IS WARRANTED? -- POLICE FASCISM OR RELIGIOUS FASCISM?

SO WHAT'S NORMAL?

I HAVE NO CLUE, BUT IT ISN'T PINCH POTTERY AND COFFEE SHOPS AND BOUTIQUES. MAYBE, FOR STARTERS, IT IS TIME TO GET THE BALL ROLLING WITH

CLOSE THE SCHOOLS.

CLOSE ALL SCHOOLS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR. NO EXCEPTIONS. FUND FRAZZLED PARENTS. FUND, WHERE POSSIBLE, THOSE WHO WILL LOSE THEIR SHIRTS IN THIS BLOOD-LETTING. KEEP THE FASCISM TO A MINIMUM ... WHATEVER THAT MAY MEAN.

RE-INSTITUTE SPANKINGS FOR THOSE RUNNING AROUND SPREADING DISEASE. SERIOUS SPANKINGS. S-E-R-I-O-U-S.

Monday, July 20, 2020

World War II on drugs

Methamphetamines in World War II

During World War II, German pharmaceutical company Temmler marketed methamphetamine tablets as a nonprescription drug under the brand name Pervitin.
Methamphetamine triggers a response in the body that’s similar to adrenaline, heightening alertness and a willingness to take risks.
Japanese, U.S., British and German military personnel are reported to have used the stimulant to enhance endurance and ward off fatigue on long campaigns.
Kamikaze pilots received high doses of Pervitin before suicide flight missions. Japanese factory workers also used methamphetamine to work longer hours.
The German army ordered front-line soldiers and fighter pilots to take military-issued stimulants that contained a combination of methamphetamine and cocaine.
And you thought "Breaking Bad" was something new, novel and wondrous.

"Black" and "white" -- AP

NEW YORK (AP) — After changing its usage rules last month to capitalize the word “Black” when used in the context of race and culture, The Associated Press on Monday said it would not do the same for “white.”
The AP said white people in general have much less shared history and culture, and don’t have the experience of being discriminated against because of skin color.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

a letter to my sister

Sent this to my sister today:
We, you and I, are the children of Vishnu.

In Hinduism, there are three baseline deities or suggestions: Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver; and Kali, the destroyer.

Preservers are the ones who, at least initially, lead "white bread" lives. Playing by the rules, saving against the day when all might be lost. There comes a time when the rules are not enough and white bread seems hopelessly bland and in need of the Italian waiter's grinding of pepper over the food.

The children of Vishnu -- I like the ring of it, so I write it. Preserve, protect and, in the end, immure. To have been more daring -- wowsers!

My shrink of six or eight years, Jack, once told me he was wary around social workers because they were frequently too rule-bound. White bread.

If you put some study into it, there is no dividing line separating Brahma, Vishnu and Kali. The one floats into the other and then back. The children of Vishnu are the children of Brahma and the children of Kali. White bread is quite daring right up until the moment when it is not. The rule book is imperative ... except that it is not. White bread creates. White bread destroys. White bread preserves.

The children of Vishnu. A life of preservation and protection. And then curiosity gets the best of us: What is it, precisely, that we are protecting against? To know becomes more interesting than to protect against the unknown.

White bread. Bland. Un-spiced. I coulda had a V-8.

Still, if you or I were to study it and see the melding of things, how much time might have been wasted -- taken away from more important things.

Like Tiddly-Winks.

1919 photo -- epidemic masks

That was then.

This is not yet then.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

keep it simple

Sent this email to my friend Frank LoCicero a couple of days ago:

Don't you wish someone would come along with a wet cloth -- as once at the end of a grade school day in the class room -- and erase everything written so far ... and replace it with?

1. Everyone has to wear a mask. Period. 
2. Schools will not open this year. Period. 
3. Harried and cash-strapped parents will be subsidized. 
4. Lying will be tagged as such. 
[No more lollygagging. No more knicker-twisting. No more playing the liberal version of Donald Trump, pretending either that it doesn't exist or that analysis would make things better.]
I, like a lot of others, I suspect, am exhausted by all the analysis and reporting and drum-beating and squishy shit ... quit fucking around. Just do it. There's probably a lot more to be said, but this'll do for a start. Stop dithering. It solves nothing to suggest a solution is anywhere in the offing.

Wear a mask.
Mandatory.
Don't open schools this year.
Mandatory.
Finance those who are up against the financial wall ... just do it.

funeral home

My Zen friend Dave ordered yesterday, "now don't you die before me.." When I said I was ten years older than he, he refused to relent: I still had to leave last. Oh well, bound te be a disappointment to someone.

Yesterday, Elizabeth and Olivia, my wife and daughter respectively, went to the funeral home to work out the details of coping with 1. this dead body when it arrives; 2. and Elizabeth's, when it arrives. It's nice to think that as many wrinkles as possible would be ironed out in advance. Somebody's got to pick up the body. Somebody's got to burn it. Somebody's (possibly) got to spread the ashes ... mine, with luck, at Angel Falls in Ashfield ... north of here. I didn't pick it for the name, but rather because it's a beautiful, running-water place.

OK ... one more thing out of the way.

point of view

Ben Franklin suggested: "Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

Frank Locicero's pea-sized grandmother, who came from a hungry Sicily had another take: "Eat slow, but eat a lot."

Wisdom seems to come in all shapes and sizes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

vice-versa

Just because others are acting stupid does not mean you are necessarily being smart.

And vice-versa.

the way of the world?

Men put their fingers in light sockets.
Women clean up the mess.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

covid19 sillies



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, July 13, 2020

thumbs-down to Facebook

I've probably made my preferences known in the past and yet feel some need to state them anew:

I hate Facebook.

I have done so for years. Its promises of closeness and connection are diametrically opposed to the resulting separations that are nourished. Yes, people need to get rich, but the lies they employ while on that quest ... it's like a spoonful of castor oil. Yuck and ick.

It has taken me a while to get used to hearing people talking outside the front door and to peek into the street and see a single person talking into his or her (phone-holding) hand. If there ever were a social-distancing tool (the kind recommended in the current flu epidemic) Facebook is it.

But people are used to it. It's the new wave. It's up-to-date. And it's bullshit. The 'friends' and 'connections' Facebook pretends to usurp are weak tea beside the touch of a hand or lips. People -- flesh and blood people -- are left out of Facebook's equations.

what hour? what day?

I never imagined saying it, but here it is: Today, I am grateful that the sun rises in the East. Without that marker, I would have had little or no clue as to whether today were last night or, instead, this morning.

I awoke and the confusion began: Had I just slept through the night or just completed a nap?

Since I am accustomed to knowing what day of the week or hour of the day I inhabit, this felt like a royal clusterfuck: Should I be craving breakfast or dinner? An old habit -- being accustomed to things and then finding the accustoming is entirely -- what? -- "arbitrary" perhaps. I wasn't especially hungry for anything.

Oh well, the sun straightened things out a bit ... as did the computer clock. It's Monday morning, chillun, and time for a doughnut and a bit of orange juice and half a banana. It's straightened out and yet now the shadow of the "arbitrary" haunts the "accustomed" realm.

Those more glued-together will find all of this a quaint matter, one that can be brushed aside ... a fogie moment. Strange to get so accustomed to being accustomed and meanwhile ... meanwhile everything is wobbly, to say the least.

As the Buddhists say, all compound things come apart. Being accustomed is a matter of compounding: It's Monday because the sun rises in the East and the garbage cans are out. I am accustomed to it. And yet that custom moves on shaky limbs.

Suck it up, Sally!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

in memoriam newspapering

Ever since my squeezed-out-retirement several years back, I have wondered idly how I might make an article of some sort out of those years of journalistic/newspaper experience. I never could seem to get a hook or a handle on it.

Well now, I don't need to wonder and fiddly-fuck around any more.

My friend Dave passed along a New York Times article that does all the work and then some. No need for me to put my oar in the water. Just a very damned good article (minimal 'democracy' prating and whinging): I feel that I can rest easy even if the article did appear in what I consider the general arrogance-maw of the New York Times:

AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Muzzle to butt plate, in the words of the old movie "Babe," the article sums things up:

"That'll do, pig."

Saturday, July 11, 2020

where/who is Donald Trump

Strange to think that a year ago, literally every other news story contained President Donald Trump's name. Literally.

Today, his name is almost entirely absent from those headlines. Such is the nature of the flu epidemic that has consumed the world.

Well, it couldn't happen to a nicer fellow.

I got a haircut and can prove it

In the interests of full-disclosure and yet with profound shuddering, I append herewith a photo-result of a haircut I got yesterday. I now know what my teacher, Kyudo Nakagawa Roshi, was talking about when I asked to take his picture in aid of an interview I was then writing. "No," he said of the photo. "Why?" I asked. "I am getting old," he said.

And behold, I am old. Inside, of course, I am 35 and full of piss and vinegar... full of smug, male plans and nostrums. But photos don't lie and ... well ... voila! I am old and have the evidence to prove it. Reminds me of one of my life's all-time favorite lines uttered by Mary Gizzy (no shit) about a woman not present: "She's ugly and her mother dresses her funny."

Ugly and his mother dresses him funny.

The sign above the graveyard reads:
As you are now
So once were we.
As we are now,
So you shall be.
Photo evidence calls into question my interior sense of a person without wrinkles and weakness. I wonder where wrinkles go when they want to take a break. Anyway, I have a haircut and it's as close as I am ever likely to come to the shaven head of a monk.

OK... I've 'fessed up now.

Wrinkles ... and, with my teacher (who is dead), I am old.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Wait! Oklahoma belongs to whom?


The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a large part of eastern Oklahoma remains a Native American reservation, a decision state and federal officials warn could throw the entire state into chaos.
The court’s 5-4 decision, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, means that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal cases against Native American defendants in parts of Oklahoma that include most of Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city.
“On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise,” Gorsuch wrote in a decision on Thursday, joined by the court’s liberal members. “Forced to leave their ancestral lands in Georgia and Alabama, the Creek Nation received assurances that their new lands in the west would be secure forever ... Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian [Native American] reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.”

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

keeping a distance

My diet these days is largely cottage cheese, orange juice and an occasional liverwurst sandwich ... largely, in short, gum food while I wait for a lower insert of false teeth (the old one got lost around this maw of stuff) to be shaped.

At the doctor's yesterday, my weight was down to 130. Once, when muscled, I topped 200. Eating is nice, but not that compelling these days. I'm not depressed about it.

The doctor, whom I visited and whom I like, told me that there has been a rise in requests for downers in this time when so many are so lonely at home.  "Eat what you like," he said. "But watch your salt." Naturally, salt is what I crave upon hearing that salt is somehow on the shit list.

Everyone wears a mask ... except Donald Trump, of course. In Europe, various countries have barred U.S. citizens from entering based on Trump's self-centered, lackadaisical and politically-charged posturing. As the Somali security agent once put it on TV when assessing a pirated western oil tanker: "If you do not share your wealth with us, we we share our poverty with you."

The U.S. is being shared with. A third-world country.

Masks give me a case of claustrophobia. They increase my desire for needed oxygen. They hide more of what was already hidden behind Facebook and other healing 'solutions.'

It puts me in mind of the schizophrenic patient once quote in a book I read: "The air is still, here -- the air between the things in the room. But the things in the room are no longer here."

Businesses of the cafe variety are getting clobbered. Churches are being clobbered. "Social distancing" (six feet/two meters) creates yet more rifts and schisms. Sports and their stadia are denuded. News outlets struggle and strain to say something new ... but there is nothing new: the drum beat hums like an impatient principal idly imagining what punishment to mete out. Fingers drumming on a desktop.

I wonder how many bank robbers are rejoicing: "I don't know what s/he looked like, officer. S/he was wearing a mask."

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

bustin' up the neighborhood

There came a day in the mostly-forgotten past, when Hershel, the Korean 'War' (it was never declared as a war and remained a 'police action') vet with a limp who used to live across the street, seemed to have skipped his meds and in an apparent fury, attacked his neighbors' front doors with an ax.

It was the news of our lily-white neighborhood at the time. I missed it all because I worked a swing shift and was sleeping. Hershel hit my neighbor to the south and my neighbor to the north. For reasons I'll never know (perhaps because I once took him some brownies at Christmas... maybe because we occasionally talked books together), my front door remained untouched, un-axed.

Someone eventually called the cops and they took Hershel away. They rebalanced his chemistry. His limp remained the same and his furies, of whatever sort, went untended, I guess. But Hershel's ax cut a hole in the ever-widening gentrification of a neighborhood that was once agricultural and salty with sweat and, dare I say it on Hershel's behalf? -- honesty.

Time passes. Hershel got stuck in someone's kind-hearted loony bin. He had been sent off to war and came back with the marks of war ... dark scars. Men like Donald Trump thrive on guys like Hershel.

Was there ever a greater anti-war plaint than

"I sent them a good boy, and they made him a murderer," cried the mother of one of the soldiers at My Lai (My Lai Massacre 1969).
Imagine! A mother says that about her son! Nine months in the womb. Subsequent years of nurturing and hoping a praying (just like any mother) and some blue-suit, big-mouth, blow-hard ... god, it defies descriptives!

A sense of shame is useful as events wisp off into forgotten-land.

Across the street, a lawn sigh proclaims "you are loved." The sign is part and parcel of Pat's Christianity and, perhaps, kindness.

My sense is that it is best to keep religion out of the business of 'healing.

Just because everyone agrees does not mean something is true.
 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

of boobs, real and imagined

-- If I judge by what I see on TV, the advent of  Covid-19 has been accompanied by a rise in the decolletage among women. Where once boobs were all but exposed, suddenly necklines are more or less at neckline level. Without really going the distance, here is one bit of evidence that others have become aware of some changes.

Strange to think that the word "sexy" in the male vocabulary relates almost entirely to what is covered (and might be uncovered). The drunken Saturday night crowd crowing, "Take it all off!"  to the twinkling strippers would hardly be satisfied if in fact she did take it all off ... hell, that would just be a naked woman. While sexy, that would be somehow less sexy, I imagine, than the roaring male, desire to ...to... to do what? See a naked woman??? To rip to shreds the distance implied by sexy attire??? Is that sort of intimacy really as intimate as implied ... or is it a greater distance?

-- Yesterday, I thought to get a haircut. But barbers are on the epidemic's shit (transmission potential grows in the barber's chair) list so now I need an appointment. Today, I asked my wife, who likes shopping, to check around for a store-bought set of clippers. "Fuck it!" sez I, "let me just take it all off. Ain't nobody looking and it saves the bureaucratic hassle."

My attitude does not help my former barber to return to cash-flow city -- an economic infusion, however small, into what amounts to a languid and languishing economy. I would like to help my barber, but bureaucracy is a luxury item I am unwilling to invest in. So ....

When I was 11, my mother took me on a trip to Italy. It was 1951 and summer and close enough to the end of World War II (there were bullet shells still littering the bottom of the sandy sands where I swam in the Mediterranean) so that when she dropped me off at an Italian barbershop for a crew cut, my mother's passable-but-imperfect Italian could not convey what a crew-cut might be like. She returned after whatever errand she was running to find me in the barber's chair with a reverse Mohawk ... one buzz-cut strip from forehead peak to rear neck nape in accordance with military custom (short-shorter-shortest) ... there was nothing to do but cut off the lot. The cut hair was a quarter of an inch long. And now, so many years later, I'm looking to do the same again -- cut the lot off and skip the extras.

-- Got out my curmudgeon's regalia yesterday and wrote to the Public Broadcast System's news outlet asking if anyone had heard anyone, anywhere suggesting that U.S. President Donald Trump was a "clear and present danger" to the United States. It's a little late, I realize, but still ... Trump continues to go from here to there without wearing the mask that many people are wearing as a small attempt to curb the spread of the disease. He plays on racial divisions. He encourages ignorance. He is a divider of people. In Trump, you can see why Romans, among others, waxed wary of the herd and crowd.

Wasn't it Lincoln who said approximately, "You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." It surely does get tiring putting fools in the catbird seat, allowing Republicans to renege on their promise for a healthcare plan, etc. etc.

Is there anything Trump can do other than die? As he pretends towards a second term as president?  The Republicans got the tax cut they wanted from him. Put that together with the tax cut they got from George W. Bush ("the shrub") and ....

The rest is old orange rinds and volume.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

oyez! oyez!

I wonder if it isn't a kind of linguistic cuticle or perhaps has a kind of harmony with the finality of the dropping guillotine (ka-chunk-thunk!) ... how did the old French "Oyez! Oyez!" wrangle its francophile/Norman ways into long-term, latterday common court parlance?

Latin? OK. Greek you can kind of imagine. But a French twist rattling through the annals of jurisprudence? Are there other examples? I can't think of any.

English courts use it.

The Supreme Court (U.S.) employs it.

"Oyez! Oyez!" -- Listen! Listen! Shut up and listen!

First of all, it sounds weird with its (English) willingness to pronounce the 'z' as if it were in a comic book.... "oyezzzzz." Second, the English can be notably snooty about their neighbors across the channel. On the other hand, the French (merci Lafayette!) did help the colonies put the Brits in the revolutionary bushes ... maybe it's a nod to that bit of assistance.

I can't think of another French word that has held on so long without being eclipsed by some rotund bit of Latin or similar solemno-phone. How did that happen? I dunno. Maybe, lacking much history, the U.S. wanted to seem a bit kulturni.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

sayonara chochka

Yes, Virginia, shit flows downhill.

In Northampton, Mass., USA, my current hometown, one of the city's cash cows -- Main Street parking fees -- has been eased, apparently in a nod towards Donald Trump's suggestion that businesses should be given space in which to bounce back. (And you thought Trump never did anything nice for you! :) )

This city is awash with chochka shops ... pinch pottery, unfettered use of the word 'artisan,' paintings, comfortable, expensive and hand-stitched shoes, 'bagels' that hardly resemble a dyed-in-the-wool bagel outside its shape, and other tourist-friendly sales.

It's nice to remember that no rich person ever got that way by being nice.

Northampton is pretty much a lily-white environment with restaurants that aren't really as 'Indian' as you might suppose or hope, not really as 'Chinese' as you might think or wish, etc. Lesbians and LBGTU folks find Northampton a pretty friendly place. Colleges and their sometimes well-heeled inhabitants dot the horizon... which is one of the reasons 'Chinese' and 'Indian' have a taint of white bread lifestyle, a Chinese restaurant owner told me once. You want the real McCoy? New York City is 175 miles to the south.

Disease, of course, doesn't care much whom you bed down with It doesn't mind what dangles from whom. But who's buying chochka these days?  When city residents dutifully don the requisite masks meant to inhibit corona-19 ... well, "shop till you drop" falls away in the rearview mirror.

But the city needs money and parking fees raise a lot of it, so cutting parking fees is not a joke for the city of Northampton. People need their gig-economy jobs. They need to get out. They need to get away from the kids. They need to feed the kids. I sometimes think that, in the midst of this worldwide epidemic, it is the lack of touching and proximity that will kill people quicker than any 'distancing' quarantine or other draconian rules.

Yes, Virginia, gravity is as gravity does.