"About suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters" -- Auden
Supporters of President Bambang cheered
At a rally in Central Java Monday.
Iraqi security forces showed peace signs
Patrolling Basra Monday.
A boy beat the heat in a cool, cool spray
Out near Chandigarh Monday.
People enjoyed the coolness of the Tuileries
In central Paris Monday.
A Canadian civilian contractor relaxed outside
His tent at Kandahar Monday.
Volunteers sorted rubbish
For recycling at Glastonbury Monday.
A man worked stacking sticks
At a Yingtan timber market Monday.
Cliff diver Alain Kohl dove off
A bridge in Frankfurt Monday.
A priest held confession before an ordination
Ceremony in Switzerland Monday.
An Iraqi police officer kissed the national flag
On his police car in Baghdad Monday.
Agnieszka Radwanska returned a ball to Melanie Oudin
During their Wimbledon tennis match Monday.
Israelis collected vegetables to be thrown
At a demonstration in Jerusalem Monday.
An Israeli police officer spoke on his radio
At a Jerusalem shopping mall Monday.
A boy rode his bicycle on the embankment
Of the Danube River in Budapest Monday.
New priests prostrated themselves
During the ordination Mass Monday.
Spanish marines competed in the Fan-Pin
Military race in San Fernando Monday.
A woman displaced by fighting in Pakistan
Sat with her daughter at a U.N. camp
In the Swabi district
There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus -- and you've got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it -- that unless you're free the machine will be prevented from working at all! -- American Rhetoric: Mario Savio - Sproul Hall Sit-In Address
"On June 24, Iranian Superstar Andy Madadian went into an LA recording studio with Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and American record producers Don Was and John Shanks to record a musical message of worldwide solidarity with the people of Iran. This version of the old Ben E. King classic is NOT FOR SALE. It was not meant to be on the Billboard charts or even manufactured as a CD. It's intended to be downloaded and shared by the Iranian people to give voice to the sentiment that all people of the world stand together. The handwritten Farsi sign in the video translates to 'We Are One". If you know someone in Iran - or someone who knows someone in Iran - please share this link."
Share it even if you don't. Reblog it if you can. Push the view count.
Across the street they've nailed the curtains.
They're getting ready for the feast.
The Phantom of the Opera,
A perfect image of a priest.
They're spoon-feeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured.
Then they'll kill him with self-confidence,
After poisoning him with words,
And the Phantom's shouting to skinny girls,
"Get Outa Here If You Don't Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row"
-- Bob Dylan
The Mark Sanford Media Fornication Festival currently climaxing in day-by-day updates, when not interrupted by ignoring where Michael Jackson parked his detachable penis for decades, instructs us yet again in what our media expects of Republican politicians: pseudo-moral celibacy in thought, word, and deed stretching from the cradle to the grave. Democrats, conversely, are expected and required to use their sex organs in ways that emulate and celebrate either Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton, or Barney Frank.
It is of passing interest that the "profession" of "Journalism" itself requires no moral celibacy on the part of scribes ( pride, envy, wrath, sloth, lust, avarice, and gluttony being required activities for advancement -- Current Champions: Perez Hilton and his life partner Arianna Huffington.) The position of the media/entertainment industry en masse is that none of the seven deadly sins are allowed to be present in a Republican. Conversely, all seven deadly sins must not only be present but be celebrated in a Democrat. But since all this is well known and daily shown, we will let this interest in the media's position pass for the moment. Besides, it is futile since long and continuing research into the activities of our media today has shown, again and again, that you cannot insult whores.
Our sermon for today is "What doth it profit a man to gain the office of dogcatcher or above, if he must bid adieu to his sexuality in late childhood?"
Velociman @ Velociworld sez Wiki Rocks discovering this EARTH SHATTERING LEAK OF TRUTH 13 minutes after Jackson was reported dead. It has since been ruthlessly suppressed by the stealth fascists of Wikipedia!
TMZ.com spoke with Tito Jackson, who was grief-stricken. Tito said he so regrets not having spoken with Michael Jackson "in a while."
Can somebody give this man Perez Hilton's address while the cord is still warm?
The president also discusses his shortcomings as a parent, writing, “I know I have been an imperfect father. I know I have made mistakes. I have lost count of all the times, over the years, when the demands of work have taken me from the duties of fatherhood. There were many days out on the campaign trail when I felt like my family was a million miles away, and I knew I was missing moments of my daughters’ lives that I’d never get back. It is a loss I will never fully accept.” -- President Obama in a Parade Magazine article
"That's the trouble with you Americans, Karl. You take no joy in the romance of smuggling. Pass the bong."
Oh, this is going to end well. U.S. ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry, left, and Afghan Minister of Urban Development Mohammad Yosouf Pashtun "rode in a paddle boat on the Band-e-Amir Lake in Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan, Thursday. In April, Afghanistan declared Band-e-Amir as its first conservation area."
The Sierra Club was well pleased with this vital progress.
Pack up your desk Jim Cramer! Now that you're gelded there's a new rage boy in town! It's Carnageman!
"Recovery? I'll tell you what I think. We're in the eye of the hurricane right now. 'Greenshoot' recovery? Bullshit!"
Not safe for work (if you've got any work), unsafe for computer monitors hung in the shed, unsafe for neon tubes, and very unsafe for credit card companies. Yes, it's a pitch but it's a pitch that's a lot of fun getting to. When this man runs out of things to bust up in his shed and heads for Wall Street look out.
MSNBC should put this guy on against Glenn Beck. Ratings duel in the sun!
Via Cobb: The End of Blackmail who observes that, "When living for hope fails, people get wise. People get pissed."
One of the often overlooked transformative projects at Google is "Google Books." Over the past years, with ever-increasing momentum, books new and old have been digitized by Google and made searchable.
Today, the team at Google Books unveiled a number of new enhancements to this service: [Inside Google Book Search: New Features on Google Books] Chief among them is an ability to embed text selections or whole books within other pages with the same level of simplicity as the embedding of a YouTube video.Continued...
No matter what may happen, these images make it clear that the Iranians are going to need more and bigger guns sooner rather than later.
Click THIS LINK and let it play.
In the meantime the smell of the sweet softball media questions ascended so to the wall, where the flies were sitting in great numbers, that they were attracted to the unctuous spew and descended on it in hosts.
"Yo! Get outta here. Who invited you?" said the little President, and drove the unbidden guests away.
Children of Israeli settlers play in a bouncy castle next to the ruins of the illegal outpost of Maoz Ester, near Kokhav Ha Shahar settlement, east of Ramallah on June 4, 2009. The wildcat outpost has been dismantled by Israeli authorities several times over the past few months, only to be re-erected within hours by zealous settlers. -Israeli Settlements in the West Bank @ The Big Picture
Eden on the Potomac
The amazing magical garden of Michelle Obama was harvested with the help of school children yesterday after a miraculous growing season of less than 3 months.Continued...
A supporter of defeated presidential candidate Mousavi is beaten by government security men as fellow supporters come to his aid during riots in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 14, 2009. (AP Photo) - via The Big Picture - Boston.com
Out of the tsunami of images, videos, rumors and reports that wash over the web during these days of Iranian resistance, this single image of a fleeting moment arrested my attention. Clicking on it will make it larger and allow you to see the expressions of the women closing in on the ayatollah's thugs. And in that flickering instant you will see what all injustice and repression fears from the people it oppresses, the emergence of The Furies.
Always female and dating back to the Age of Myth, the Furies were the agents of Nemesis:
The [Furies] Erinyes often stood for the rightness of things within the standard order.... Predominantly, they were understood as the persecutors of mortal men and women who broke natural laws. In particular, those who broke ties of kinship through murdering a mother (matricide), murdering a father (patricide), murdering a brother (fratricide), or other such familial killings brought special attention from the Furies.Here three goons beat a man on the ground with long truncheons. A fourth man turns from the beating as he hears the shrieks close on him from the hijab-draped women. We don't know what is being said, but we can infer from the expressions and the gestures that these women have determined not to let this particular fratricide go forward.
The woman directly confronting the turning thug is especially revealing. She wears glasses and is certainly not the sort that one would think capable of bravery or violence. And yet she raises a bare hand high as if to strike this man who outweighs her and is certainly schooled in torture and murder by the regime. Behind this courageous woman come others also determined, also outraged, also, in a word, furious.
What happened after this moment? We cannot know unless the rooftop photographer can be found and we can see the other frames that came after. The goons could have turned on the women and beaten them. The goons, seeing themselves outnumbered and others arriving in the background, could have retreated to beat and kill another days. All we have now is this instant and the history that will ripple outward from it, for better or worse, in Iran over the coming days and months.
What we do know is that once you can see, in an image such as this, the emergence of The Furies in the Mesopotamian realm that gave them birth in the Age of Myth, their harsh mistress Nemesis hovers above them. And while The Furies are vengeful, Nemesis is remorseless.
All Islamic tyrannies fear their women. Here you can see the reason why.
As the fascist government of Iran begins the massacreof its unarmed citizens today, the world slowly, fitfully wakes to the reality of what it means to have a weakling in Washington.
This report from Britain's Telegraph sounds the first note (The Iranian election: Barack Obama’s cowardly silence :: Nile Gardiner) but it will be far from the last:
The Obama administration's response to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's fraudulent election victory is cowardly, lily-livered and wrong. The White House's refusal to officially question the result or even condemn the brutal suppression of opposition protestors, is undermining America's standing as a global power, and is little more than a face-saving, cynical exercise in appeasement that will all end in tears.
I'm wrong on so many things so often that I usually take extreme pleasure in being right on the few things I do forecast. But I take no pleasure in this observation from last October:Continued...
Attention twitter users. Overwhelmed with material via #iranelections, which currently flows at well over 15,000 tweets per hour. Want tweets from twitter accounts near the epicenter of demonstrations in Iran? Enter the following string in search box @ twitter: near:Tehran within:15mi
File under "Unintended Subtexts of Photoshop"
The images above show the source image and published cover of the Toronto Fun Guide. Can you spot the difference? -- Toronto Fun Guide @ The Inquisitr
One minute and 35 seconds of real reality.
"In this video, I take a look at the economic predictions that President Obama made in February regarding the stimulus plan and how those predictions are corresponding to reality. The answer is: Not well." - The Obama Stimulus: Predictions vs. Reality @ Political Math
New favorite stupid blog: Asian Poses - The Definitive Guide to Asian Poses Hours of cuteness on rails.
A girl ran into water pouring from a stadium’s upper balcony during a rain delay in the MLB game between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday. The game was eventually postponed until Sept. 1. (Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)
The Lobster telephone, a painted plaster sculpture from 1936, will be showcased at the opening of the “Liquid Desire” Salvador Dali exhibit in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday. The exhibit will showcase more than 200 works by Spanish artists. (Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)
You can fool all of the people some of the time;
you can fool some of the people all of the time;
and that should be enough for most purposes.
-- MINIM 14
How Princes Should Keep Faith.
It is not essential, then, that a Prince should have all the good qualities which I have enumerated above, but it is most essential that he should seem to have them; I will even venture to affirm that if he has and invariably practises them all, they are hurtful, whereas the appearance of having them is useful. Thus, it is well to seem merciful, faithful, humane, religious, and upright, and also to be so; but the mind should remain so balanced that were it needful not to be so, you should be able and know how to change to the contrary.
And you are to understand that a Prince, and most of all a new Prince, cannot observe all those rules of conduct in respect whereof men are accounted good, being often forced, in order to preserve his Princedom, to act in opposition to good faith, charity, humanity, and religion. He must therefore keep his mind ready to shift as the winds and tides of Fortune turn, and, as I have already said, he ought not to quit good courses if he can help it, but should know how to follow evil courses if he must. -- Machiavelli, The PrinceHeard in the clinic @ Maggie's Farm Via a colleague from a patient in his 40s this afternoon:
"With my unemployment now with 23 weeks, plus the State's 12 weeks, andthe federal 18-week extension, I figure I can begin looking for a job in November. Since my wife got laid off later, she can wait until December or January. We're both burned out and need a break from work. She's been getting job offers, but there's no way she would take one now. And keeping our income down will help my youngest get a scholarship."Maynard G. Krebs was second banana to Dobie Gillis on a TV show of the early 60s. Cast as a beatnik, Krebs had a deep aversion to work on principle. Here we see the update of the selfish years. No work because, well, they can afford it. As long as they suck on the teat of the state. And that teat is getting bigger. But lots of things can make a teat bigger... such as a tumor on the body politic.
Love's perfect losing moments: Sippican Cottage: The Fireflies Take Their Vigorish
It was a perfect moment there. The sun was just an ornament hung on the Christmas tree of my life. The reeds murmur assent; the muck beats anything a doctor could conjure. She was a flawless diamond hung on a chain of luck around the neck of a muse. I saw it, and knew, that I must lose, right there, if I was to play.I know how he feels. If you don't, go out and get some.
Cobb updates instructions:
Instead of 'Best used if squeezed from bottom', we might have the following fine print:The main theme of of this empowering essay on dialectic discourse is not situationism as such, but neosituationism. Therefore, if postsemiotic patriarchialist theory holds, the application of liberating anterior pressures is the subtext of choosing between prematerialist feminism and the capitalist paradigm of renewed oral reality. “Society is impossible,” says Sartre. So It could be said that Bailey would favor a Rousseauian cum-Hobbisan pan-liberation of all pressures simultaenously resulting in the most empowering externalities.-- Cobb: Seinfeldian Observations on Indefinite Articles
You are your data and you live in a cold room in Tukwilla, Washington with, maybe, 6.5 trillion photographs. Data Center Overload by Tom Vanderbilt
After submitting to biometric hand scans in the lobby and passing through a sensor-laden multidoor man trap, Manos and I entered a bright, white room filled with librarylike rows of hulking, black racks of servers — the dedicated hardware that drives the Internet. The Tukwila data center happens to be one of the global homes of Microsoft’s Xbox Live: within those humming machines exists my imagined city of ether.
David Warren points out that the real high poetry of the moon landing
had been delivered less self-consciously, a little earlier, as the vehicle containing Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down. Paradoxically, that line gained all its poetry from being spoken, not in poetical language, but in mission jargon. It was: "Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed."I've always thought as much myself. Not the arch and over thought "One small step..." statement, but the mission jargon ("Aldrin: 40 feet, down 2 1/2. Picking up some dust.") held the key for that long ago and now long lost moment. We'll go back, I suppose, some time. We'll go back once we shake off the compulsion to live smaller and more restrained lives. It's not for us, the life of limits. We're made for the stars, no matter how many small souls try to anchor us in the mud. We'll go back. And on.
Men like Letterman always end up groping the help. All the Beta males do this. Look at John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Bob Packwood, Newt Gingrich... this will grow monotonous. They're lame, and know it, and so they try to get themselves in a position of power over the men they used to resent, and the women they never had a shot at. But the men are all dorks of one sort or another, and the women they never had a shot at are still out of their range. They can lord it over whatever women are handy, but eventually find that they are in the thrall of someone as defective as they are.
Surprise! Racism works!
This racialism will continue. Why? Because Obama discovered long ago than racial identification brings as many dividends as does the content of one's character or achievement. It is a force multiplier and foolishly left untapped. I fear more, not less, of this, as the tab for Obama's charge-it economy comes due at about the same time dubious players abroad conclude that serial apologies amount to a green light for adventurism. When his popularity dives, I think critics will be seen as biased and prejudicial. -Victor Hanson on David Letterman, Rev. Wright, and Thoughts on a Creepy Culture
[Video goes here but Youtube seems to be unreachable. Friday. 12:23 PM] Back.
I know what you're thinking. "Did he blog for six years or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum webpage, the most powerful handblogged page in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
American Digest Stats
First post: June 9, 2003
Entries: This will be entry 6,900.
Visits: 4,686,425 (But who's counting?)
Through some sort of odd harmonic convergence, the stories and items on the page below represent a pretty fair cross-section of American Digest so far.
Thanks to all my readers for coming by and coming back.
Letterman and barely-legal husband Reggina (Gums) Lesko
in a moment of prenuptial orgasmic happiness.
Now it can be told. In an earthshaking article People magazine has revealed how David Letterman and his long time partner Reginald (Gums) Lasko took Montana's throbbing gay marriage issue into their own hands last month. Together, this loving couple decided to make their own private Brokeback Mountain out of their love's molehole in a ceremony that left the bible-toting, gun clinging yokels of Montana gasping for breath after a hail of laughter.
"Consarn it if that pimply-face twink in a skirt switcheroo he pulled ain't the funniest thing Letterman's done since his open heart operation," said T. Boone Peekings of Choteau, Montana's post office and sex-toy emporium The Love Connection. "Us simple folks out here on the range was feelin' a mite confused about who's the heifer and who's the bull over on the Letterman spread ever since Dave got that Paul Shaffer feller lubed up and used him as a dildo on a rodeo clown at the fairgrounds last summer."
"Yup," said Peeking's pardner (and Montana's number one and only female impersonator) Dina Martini, "the Montana gay pride parade committee of Choteau was plumb spun around on our saddle horns when we found out about those three-ways out at the Letterman Museum of Late Night Top Ten Lists and Prairie Grass. Didn't hardly seem fair, seein' as they coulda invited the entire gay pride parade of Choteau and only made it into a five-way."
Needless to say, when the details of the Letter/Lesko/ nuptials came to light in Secrets of David Letterman's Surprise Wedding Revealed @ People.com the rest of the likker-guzzlin' homofeelish population of Choteau, Montana breathed a sigh of relief.
"We wuz worried bout the young'un" said Daisy Mae Butt, the town librarian. "After all, havin' a five-year-old boy hangin' around a sin-pit of counternatural fornication jes' stuck in our craw. T'warnt right no how. But seein' as they'd both done got hitched now and that both are wearin' dresses, I kin go ahead and order Harry's Got Two Mommies and One Silver Daddy for our five foot shelf library. We ain't got but one twenty dollar gold piece fur book purchasin'."
The fact that gay marriage is still illegal in Montana did not to the marriage of these two hunky minds breed impediment. Reggie (Gums) Lesko and her wife Da-vide merely swapped roles for an hour in order to hornswoggle town drunk and "Justice of the Peace Pete Howard, who officiated the wedding."
"T'warnt no big thang," said Howard in a burst of the finest frontier gibberish. "He'n wuz a she'n and she'n wuz a he'n. Once Regginald, er.. Reginna... got that ball-gag outta Da-vide's mouth, them thar vows rolled offen their tongues slicker than greased Shaffers. I polished 'em off with a 'You may kiss the brides,' which set 'em back on their heels a tad. I had to clear that up with a hearty 'Git 'er done!' Which was when all hell broke loose. Gol-dang it if'in we aren't still scrubbin' out the chapel a month later."
During my years in the cities, returning to New York by air at night mezmerized me during the long approach. Sliding down over the Alleghenies from the west, curving in over the Atlantic from the South, or throttling back and easing off the Great Circle Route from Europe, the emergence of the vast sprawl of lights that defined the Hive always enraptured me. On moonless nights, after the humming hours held in that aluminum cylinder hoisted into mid-heaven, you saw the long continents of dark water or land dissolve into shimmering white-gold strands connecting to clusters of earth-anchored constellations that merged to expanding galaxies of towns, suburbs, and cities until all below was a shimmering web of man-made stars.
As you swept down still lower, these massive meadows of stars resolved to highways and streets, boroughs and neighborhoods, houses and buildings and the yellow prongs of headlights darting under the streetlights. Then you were over the boundary, the runway blurring just beneath your seat. A bump and a bounce, engines reversing, weight shifting forward then back, and you were down and rolling towards the gate. If you were coming in from the Caribbean there was grateful applause for the pilot for the miracle of a safe landing.
You deplaned, grabbed your bags, hailed a cab and soon lurched along the Long Island Expressway, part of those headlights hazed beneath streetlights you'd looked down on only minutes before. The meter clicked past $30.00, the skyline of Manhattan rose behind the gravestones of the vast cemetery, a bridge and a toll and you were back in the Hive.
I loved the Hive across all the long years I lived within it. It was at once exciting and exasperating, densely communal and achingly lonely, empowering and eviscerating, inspiring and degrading. It never stopped coming at you and, on those days when your mental defenses were weak and your emotional shields wavered, it could splatter your soul. The same random evening stroll through downtown that would show you six people ambling along dressed as gigantic baked potatoes (complete with a pat of butter, gob of sour cream and chives), would also show you a wizened bum so diminished that he would drop his trousers, squat, and defecate in the middle of the sidewalk as bond traders in bespoke suits and handmade English shoes stepped carefully around the spectacle seeing nothing, nothing at all.
An old friend with little use for it describes the Hive as, "Hell with good restaurants."
But Hell has its charms no less than Heaven; more it would seem than mere Heaven for how else does it hold so many in thrall for so long? Did not Milton, who being blind saw so deeply, declare, "Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven?" In the Hive as in Hell, there's always someone lower in the ranking than you, until, of course, you become the defecating bum or another one of the soul-gutted homeless set out randomly on the streets as both warnings and talismans of what can happen should you fail to toe the line, talk the talk, and walk the walk that the Hive demands in exchange for your small but continuing prosperity.
These small skills of toeing, talking and walking I mastered early during my time in the Hive. I continued to deploy them with some modest success. I say modest since, just as there was always no shortage of those beneath you in the Hive, so too did the head of souls piled there rise far above you. Exactly how far their relative altitude was above yours was always measured only by the cold metric of gold. And if the Hive is long on anything, it is gold. Except of course that no matter how gold much you acquire, you only have a little of all that there is to be had, a fact that keeps people in the Hive long after there's any real human need for being there. In the Hive there's always more gold to be had. The only thing asked for in exchange is time, of which the Hive never has enough since to be in the Hive is to squander your time at a greater rate than you realize until you turn around, three decades are gone, and at last you know you're running low.
Soon it will be five years since I left the Hive and I've no inclination to return. It's easy to say that my love affair with that life ended in fire, smoke and ash on the crisp and clear morning of September 11, 2001, but that's only a convenient peg on which to hang the more complicated dissolution of an unwritten pact. It more probably began in a car northeast of the city some ten years before when my first wife decided to redefine the word "normal" for my 11-year-old daughter. Or perhaps it began in a hundred other equally mundane moments. In truth, you are either growing into a thing or growing out of it and towards something else, some other phase of this long series of repeated lessons handed out by existence for what you hope is some purpose, although what purpose that might be is always obscure. No matter. As the early Portuguese explorers knew, "It is important to travel. It is not important to arrive."
By the time I left the Hive, whatever had once bound me to it had long since frayed away. The upward pace of a "career" seemed more and more like a pointless marathon, a mere job. Long days spent striving to "exceed corporate goals" came to resemble a game of pick-up-sticks played with cows. Efforts to save an enterprise that one didn't own came down to admitting that the enterprise had no intrinsic worth other than maintaining the vulgar lifestyle of an aging monomaniac who could no longer reason his way through two and two to four. Add to that the compulsion to continue connections with past friends and present family that only seemed to use and never to give, and it all combined into a vast cloud of detritus that obscured the plain and simple fact that while government employees were working 24 hours a day printing more money, nobody anywhere was printing more time. And so, at last, you've got to go.
Yes, as Jack Kerouac, Bard of the Road, wrote "Man, you gotta go." Then he went home.
Okay. Fair enough. But go where? Here? Maybe. But where, exactly, is "here?"
Today, for a week or so, "here" turns out to be a small town up on the northwest edge of the nation. In size and composition, architecture and attitude, it is just about the exact polar opposite of the Hive. Where Central Park in the Hive is a large, long oblong of struggling overused green in the center of an immense slab of asphalt, steel and concrete, the central park of this town is about 15 yards on a side. It's a pleasant patch of cool grass studded with picnic tables and ringed with oaks that drape it in a shawl of shade. At the east end is a brick and cedar bandstand where banjos, guitars and fiddles sing out on odd afternoons and evenings. You'll hear some country and some rock, but mostly you'll hear the strains of bluegrass brought down out of the old Alleghenies and carried far west to these higher, more distant and demanding mountains.
On the west side of the park is a five-foot by three-foot marble faced granite slab in the shape of two tablets donated and erected there by the local chapter of the Eagles. Carved into the marble face in polished script are the Ten Commandments, King James version. It would seem that whatever local chapter of the ACLU exists in these parts has chosen to ignore this blatant eruption of the Christian tradition in the secular town park. One might suppose the ACLU has done this simply because it hasn't gotten around to it. It would, however, be much more likely that the organization is aware that in this town an ACLU suit to remove the Ten Commandments would be answered not with a five year legal argument, but with 30 rounds of semi-automatic rifle fire into the offices and automobiles of those seeking its removal. Since, for all its posturing, the ACLU has devolved into a refuge for moral and physical cowards with law degrees, it's not difficult to see why this stone, largely unread and unnoticed, has been given a pass.
This is a heavily armed part of the nation and, as a result, it is a very civil and polite part as well. The local army surplus store, called "Army Surplus," offers a selection of 40 MM artillery rounds (disarmed) to those locals who collect vintage ammunition or simply to those in need of a paper weight with authority. The local classified bargain hunter newspaper ("Nickel's Worth – One Copy Free") offers free rabbits (with hutch), free pigs (no accommodations included) and free kindling ("2 cords U haul"). One the same page you're offered such amusements as a 50 pound keg of black powder ($75.00) and a pistol grip pump-action Mossburg shotgun with a short 20 inch barrel ("Used twice, like new, make offer.") There are rumors that some folks outside of town own used Army tanks, but these are not listed in the paper although large tanks for storing diesel and gasoline on your land are, along with military level first aid kits. Just the thing for a sucking chest wound.
As I get up and walk away from the shaded picnic table where I've been writing, a man sitting on the bandstand with a lunch sack and a large bottle of Mountain Dew smiles and asks, "Are you vacating that table?" Like I said, when the people are well armed people are very polite.
But of course, that's not the driving reason for civility, only a part of the general community background coloring. Another reason in this town of about 6,500 souls is that -- for all the locals complain about the summer traffic -- the town is not very crowded at all. Yet another reason is that the town is very, very white; so white that even the Native Americans here are, well, sort of pale.
Currents concerns and tensions over ethnic diversity make it to the town via television, radio, and the puffed-up editorials scribbled in the distant Spokane newspaper. A shabby local rag parrots the received line of the American Left, but it is largely ignored except by the 20 odd people listed on its gigantic masthead. The love of diversity is probably taught in the schools along with the other two vital educational truths of our era -- Tobacco, bad; New York Times, good -- but other than that diversity and the other tendentious tenets of these times are just a wisps of smoke on far distant waters. In this town, being white is simply what you are.
If you had any doubt of this, a haircut at the local barber shop ("The Last Male Outpost") would trim your notion shorter than a Marine flat-top. Although sporting a red, white, and blue barber pole outside the shop boasts a Confederate Stars and Bars barber pole on the inside. Taking a seat you can leaf through vintage copies of "Field & Stream," "Guns & Ammo," and the long defunct "The Mother Earth News" ("Build a Compost Tumbler from Your Hot Water Tank!"). There's no New-Age elevator music here, but an always on police scanner so you can be among the first to know "when it all goes down." If you listen while the clippers are whirring in your ear, your barber will tell you that what all women secretly and shamefully want is the one thing they can't have, "The natural power of the male." He'll also reveal that he's trying to get this power working on his third wife.
If you said the right things and listened harder and came by for haircuts at regular intervals for a year or so, you might find out a few other things concerning high-caliber automatic weapons and ammunition stockpiles against that fateful day "when it all goes down," but blunt inquiries from a casual summer drop-in would probably be met with silence and a very bad, very close haircut.
From all of this, if you live in the Hive, you might think you have a clear impression of this town up along the northwest edge of the nation, and file it with similar impressions of other towns out on the edges of the grid and far from the maddening crowd in the Hive. You'd have that impression but it would be a false impression. Not because of anything I've put in, but because of what I've left out. Like any other place, the town has many faces.
It's a town of small houses and tin roofs ("So the snow slides off easy.") A town where the teenagers drive the five block main drag with rap music blaring from their parent's cars. It's a town where there's comedy and tragedy inside a small house with five kids and a hand lettered sign on the fence welcoming the father back from Iraq. It's a town with the plagues of drugs and festering resentments. In that, it's like a hundred thousand other towns and not so unlike the giant Hives of our cities. Looking at only the darker parts of these towns, you'd miss the many other things that there are to see. You'd miss a lot.
You'd miss the rope swing hanging down from the tree over the river and the line of teenagers in tight bodies and tighter swim suits arcing out from the bank and then up and letting go with a shriek at the top of the arc and plunging down into the clear, chill water, laughing and scrambling up the dirt bank to go again, an update of Thomas Eakins great painting, "The Swimming Hole," in real life and real time, right now on an endless summer afternoon.
You'd miss the sweeping panorama of the long lake clasped between the ranges of hills and mountains daubed with vast swathes of pine and cedar; the mountains seeming to hold back the piles of white cumulus far to the north and the west leaving the town and the lake warm under a bright clear sky all down the slope of the day and into the lingering twilight.
You'd miss the small farmer's market setting up around me in the park now as I make these notes. A market presenting for those who wander by hand-fashioned bread loaves with thick crusts still cooling in the reed baskets on the table, fresh cut wildflowers in large bouquets, the seven varieties of garlic with soil still on their roots offered up by the "Two Ponies Organic Farm" -- plowed by, yes, two tired-looking ponies hitched to a harrow. You wouldn't see and taste the "Heirloom" tomatoes, the pickling cukes, the golden beets and the mounds of other produce all centered about the local Cult of the Huckleberry and the several dozen different products derived from this fruit.
You'd miss the ever increasing overlay of people migrating in from other, larger places, other Hives, bringing along with them the omnipresent espresso and pastry shops, the Ahi-tuna centered restaurants, the downtown rock and salsa nightclub where "It's a great place to be gay... or not!"
You'd miss this latest demographic's obsessive concern with a wide and constant availability of mildly superior California wines in their almost infinite sameness.
Following close behind this influx of aging tomb-boomers you'd see the proliferation of shops specializing in giving an antlered, worn-pine, Indian blanket, Western feel to the $500,000 vacation condos and the $2,000,000 lakefront McMansions with floating boat docks sporting 25' Sea Rays. Driving just beyond the town limits, you'd find the immense alien landing sites of Home Depot and Wal-Mart, which haven't managed to kill off the local merchants. Yet. And in all of this you'd rest secure that once in town you'd never be more than five minutes from a Starbucks since, once in town, you're never more than five minutes from anything. Walking.
You'd miss the much-bemoaned (unless you're selling) real estate boom, and the whines about "all those damned Californians that've invaded since that damned Sunset article naming us as the best town in the Northwest." Years back that and, in the manner of magazines that must publish the "same article, only different" time after time, other "best towns" have been named since, but the beat of the boom goes on and prices out those that must work in the Wal Mart in favor of the aging geezers who shop at Neiman Marcus -- via the Internet with free shipping and no sales tax, thank you.
You'd miss the postman actually walking his route through the town clad in regulation shorts, uniform shirt, official US mail sack and baseball cap, with goatee, sleek Nikes, and Blades shades, strolling door to door right down the Oak Street sidewalk where the concrete slabs narrow down to round stepping stones that curve across the shaggy, shaded lawn to the vine-drowned porch of the small yellow house where, quite literally, the sidewalk ends.
You'd miss lounging back on the wide expanse of lawn in the town's Little League field where the peaked white tent has been set up for the music festival like a thousand other small town music festivals, and you'd drink your cold white local wine from a plastic cup as the burning banjos and mandolins of a Bluegrass group you'd never heard of went to work, brought it on, and played their hearts out as the sunlight faded off the hills and dusk rose up by the lake, and they still played on as hundreds bobbed and turned and beat their feet in the looming dark while the red hawk settled down out of the sky onto his nest on the street light above the water.
And you'd miss, late into that same crisp summer night, when the freight train rumbles over the long bridge across the lake on the edge of the town and the sliver of the new moon jumps up over the ridgeline and the train fades off down the tracks and the dark deepens in the yard, you'd miss lying on the cool grass a long, long way from the fine restaurants of Hell, looking straight up forever into an infinite hive of stars.
Previously Published Sunday Reading from the Archives
ABSENT BEING IN A COMA IN A CAVE somewhere on a high mountain in the middle of a cypress swamp, you cannot escape "The Runaway Bride." She is the plat du jour of our blighted age and the story of the decade so far this week. Now that she's back she'll be parsed and probed, drawn, quartered and eviscerated by the rapacious media until she's little more than a damp spot on some surgical sponge.
I hated The Runaway Bride from the first moment it was revealed she was safe and had simply freaked out and taken the geographic cure by getting gone to Vegas. SaneContinued...
Today your job is straightforward. First you must load 40 to 50 pounds on your back. Then you need to climb down a net of rope that is banging on the steel side of a ship and jump into a steel rectangle bobbing on the surface of the ocean below you. Others are already inside the steel boat shouting and urging you to hurry up.
Once in the boat you stand with dozens of others as the boat is driven towards distant beaches and cliffs through a hot hailstorm of bullets and explosions. Boats moving nearby are, from time to time, hit with a high explosive shell and disintegrate in a red rain of bullets and body parts. The smell of men fouling themselves near you as the fear bites into their necks and they hunch lower into the boat mingles with the smell of cordite and seaweed.
In front of you, over the steel helmets of other men, you can see the flat surface of the bow’s landing ramp still held in place against the sea. Soon you are in range of the machine guns that line the beach ahead. The metallic dead sound of their bullets clangs and whines off the front of the ramp. And the coxswain shouts and the bullhorn sounds and you feel the keel of the LST grind against the rocks and sand of Normandy as the large shells from the boats in the armada behind you whuffle and moan overhead and the explosions all around increase in intensity and the bullets from the guns in the cliffs ahead and above shake the boat and the men crouch lower and yet lean, together, forward as, at last, the ramp drops down and you see the beach and the men surge forward and you step with them and you are out in the chill waters of the channel wading in towards sand already doused with death, past bodies bobbing in the surf staining the waters crimson, and then you are on the beach.
It’s worse on the beach. The bullets keep probing along the sand digging holes, looking for your body, finding others that drop down like sacks of meat with their lines to heaven cut. You run forward because there’s nothing but ocean at your back and more men dying and… somehow… you reach a small sliver of shelter at the base of the cliffs. There are others there, confused and cowering and not at all ready to go back out into the storm of steel that keeps pouring down. And then someone, somewhere nearby, tells you all to press forward, to go on, to somehow get off that beach and onto the high ground behind it, and because you don’t know what else to do, you rise up and you move forward, beginning, one foot after another, to take back the continent of Europe.
If you are lucky, very lucky that day, you will walk all the way to Germany and the war will be over and you will go home to a town somewhere on the great land sea of the Midwest and you won’t talk much about this day, or any that came after it, ever. They’ll ask you, over the long decades after, “what you did in the war.” You’ll think of this day and you will never think of a good answer. That’s because you know just how lucky you were.
If you were not lucky that day you’ll lie under a white cross on a large lawn 65 long gone years later. Weak princes and fat bureaucrats will mumble platitudes and empty praises about actions they never knew and men they cannot hope to emulate. You’ll hear them, dim and far away from the caverns of your long sleep. You’ll want them to go, to leave you and the others to their deep study of eternity. Sixty-five years? Seems like a lot to the living. It’s but an inch of time. Leave us and go back to your petty lives. We march on and you, you weaklings primping and parading above us, will never know how we died or how we lived.
If we hear you at all now, your mewling only makes us ask, among ourselves, "Died for what?"
Princes and bureaucrats, be silent and be gone. We are one with the sea and the sky and the wind. We march on.
A friend that edits a magazine writes, to his personal email list of cranks, loonies, and general malcontents:
To all: For an upcoming article celebrating curmudgeons, we're planning a list of "50 things that aren't as good as they used to be" and we invite your contributions. Thanks a bunch. Creativity counts. Crankiness too. Here are two, to give you an idea: Not as good as they used to be: TV News Anchors -- Buncha movie star pretty boys. Chet Huntley had a dog face, but you could trust him. Traveling Carnivals: They've shut down the freak shows and moved them to FOX.My just-off-the-top-of-my-head response reads as follows.
OREOS -- This was, without a doubt, America's greatest store bought cookie ever. And it dominated the market. But was that good enough for the sleazoid 90s "marketing" department? No. They wanted more and even more. As a result they have 'New-Coked' this cookie into oblivion with endless variations on the theme. The heresy began with "Double Stuffed" Oreos. This simple-minded d-oh moment came when somebody thought, hey, let's double the stuffing! It did not matter to them that the perfect proportion of white cream stuffing had already been achieved. Nope, thisContinued...
My uncle has seen fit to have his 100th birthday this week. I'll be escorting my mother to the celebrations. As a result, posting will be light and/or archival.
and I'm sure I'll think of it as soon as I escape from Fantasy Island....
[Humm...Seattle Riga airfare, $1,300. Hotels: $2,000. Gifts and dinners and drinks and flowers and fur coats: $56,859.65. Running with the Blondes: Priceless -- and besides you still have 2 kidneys and you really only need one. ]
The pot that is the seething cranium of the American left runneth over daily in the Obama installation. The latest, but not nearly the last, out of this experimental government is:
Why should the president of the United States address the "Muslim world", as Barack Obama will do in Egypt this Thursday? What would happen if the leader of a big country addressed the "Christian world"? Half the world would giggle and the other half would sulk.
To speak to the "Muslim world", is to speak not to a fact, but rather to an aspiration, and that is the aspiration that Islam shall be a global state religion as its founders intended. To address this aspiration is to breathe life into it. For an American president to validate such an aspiration is madness. America is not at war with Islam, unless, that is, Islam were to take a political form that threatens America's global interests. These interests include friendly relationships with nation-states that have a Muslim majority, such as Egypt, Turkey and Jordan. To address "the Muslim world" is to conjure up a prospective enemy, for global political Islam only can exist as the enemy of the nation-states with which America has allied.