26Jul

Thinking, Part One: Starfish

This blog turned into almost 2,000 words, and I said to myself, “That’s not a blog, it’s a short story.” The last thing I wanted to do was whittle it down from the magnitude of verbiage it once was, so I decided to present it in three parts, one each week for three weeks and no part connected to any other part. If you miss a part or lose interest in a part, stop reading and feel free to sing “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes.

Many years ago at the end of the Vietnam War, a friend told me she hoped I would say our work is finished, and believe me I wanted to say that more than anyone. My entire adult life had revolved around that war. But instead I said there was still so much more to do.  Look at hunger, homelessness, and nuclear proliferation, to name but three battles to wage. I think that annoyed her mostly because she knew I was right.

Perhaps you wish I would lighten up and talk about the good ol’ days of broadcasting when vinyl delivered the music, weighed 10 pounds, and was played on a thing called a turntable. Sometimes I do that and more. Just get me started on Ted Nugent and the Brave Arrow tune (you remember Brave Arrow, one of my spirit guides, who wrote “I’d like to stick my arrows in your nuggets, Nugent.”)

All life needs protecting, and we are indeed our brothers' and sisters' keepers. Since we two-legged animals have the resources to protect the rest of life, WE are the guardians, whether those lives live next door or across the ocean, in the mountains or under the sea.

This belief is not based on deep religious convictions but simply on what is right and wrong, what is good and what is not. There are so many things on our little planet that need to be changed, it can be overwhelming, and “What difference can I make?" is a fair question to ask. This reminds me of the story “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley, which tells of a little man walking on the beach, picking up starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. An old man who was watching asked him why he was bothering. “You cannot possibly make a difference to them all,” he said. To that the little man replied, “You're right, I can't, but I am certainly making a difference to this one."

 In the podcast, among other things, there are thoughts on Deflategate and new rules (or not) for NFL umpires, songwriter Wayne Carson, and the Beatles’ “Sexy Sadie,” an alternate title to one of their songs. Do you know the original title? Join me for the podcast on the shores of Rambling Harbor.

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19Jul

Old Things

 Cyril Connolly was a literary critic and writer as well as the editor of the literary magazine Horizon. He once said it’s better to write for you and have yourself than to write for an audience and have no self. How woefully difficult that is when there is a carrot-shaped dollar bill waved in front of your nose.

Tom T. Hall, singer-songwriter, penned a song called "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine” in which he declares that the three things in the title are all that’s worth a dime in this world. Simon and Garfunkel’s “Old Friends” from 1968 is about the importance of those who have been our friends for many years.

I don’t own an eBook or a Kindle and likely never will. I do own books, and some I have had for years. Some were inscribed to me by hands no longer in this world. I like holding them, knowing what other hands had passed over their pages. Other books came to me used, and I have no idea who their owners had been. The mystery of who had sat for hours reading the words that the author had put there, words that had made a child smile, sitting under a tree on a warm summer day, or an old person whose feeble hands could barely turn the pages, find joy in the words, sitting for hours in a rocking chair on a porch. Someday words and memories are all any of us will have left.

I like old things, not because I think they are better made or have greater material value but because old things have much to tell us. Even in their silently kept secrets, they tell stories. I think part of my love for old things is that they are survivors. They have escaped landfill.

I have a small book in front of me now, published in 1926, titled Last Poems. It’s a translation from The Book of Indian Love, and it has lived longer than I may. It has seen 89 summers of hands and love touch it, and when I hold it I feel I’m holding a piece of the time and place when it was new.

Here’s a poem I wrote about old things.

                     olddresscropped.jpg               Old Dress

Old dress I really must know

Where was the party

And with whom did you go

Who wore you so proudly

And danced with such flair

Straight into the morning

Like floating on air

The wine stains

How did those get there

A hand waving

 Through music

And slicing the air

Just a slight little quiver

That’s how it got there

Old dress

your party has ended

You rest now alone

With your memories sealed tightly

Of one you have known

She who danced

In ribbons and bows

Keep your secrets

Old dress

I’ll not ask again

For answers to questions

I feel we both know

 There are more thoughts, old and new, on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Please join me there.

 

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5Jul

Web Watching, Gunpowder Snorting, the NRA, and Eye Color and Alcohol Addiction

In the tune “Tower of Song,” Leonard Cohen suggests that the rich are watching us, that they have their channels in bedrooms of the poor, and the Boomtown Rats knew “they” were always looking at you. I’ve been shopping for headphones, headphones, as valuable to a disc jockey as a hammer is to a carpenter. Once I get used to a certain set of headphones, I tend to wear them at least until the foam wears thin, and the time has come to replace them, so I went shopping online. Now everywhere I go—Facebook, my own website, etc.—there are ads for what? Headphones! All I can think of is they are watching me. The watchers are everywhere.

The effects on the brain of snorting gunpowder are yet to be determined. Some reports indicate that people have seen images of Ted Nugent chased by wolves, and some say they have seen Sarah Palin wearing a bullet called FMJ, or Full Metal Jacket, and yes, that is a real bullet. Apparently Sarah wears the bullets as pasties, especially when she is on her way to the Willard, the Hotel, that is, on Pennsylvania Avenue, just down the road from the White House. According to Sarah, she can see Russia from there. Yeah, the rednecks and the NRA and some Republicans snort that stuff—gunpowder, dude—the new high of the lowest. All this may simply be conjecture on my part—or not.

Speaking of the NRA, Yahoo News just blew the lid off a scandal that might spell serious trouble for that association. It seems the NRA has been illegally funneling money from contributors to their political action committee, the NRA Political Victory Fund. The problem with that is the NRA accepts contributions from people for a lot of reasons, including gun safety training and education, which have nothing to do with politics.  By shifting this money to their PAC, which uses it to donate to Republican campaigns across the country, they’re choosing candidates for people by way of donations, which is not only unethical but illegal.

A study by geneticists at the University of Vermont revealed a link between eye color and alcohol dependency, suggesting it occurs more frequently among people with blue eyes and less frequently among those with dark brown eyes. The study, which offers evidence that alcohol dependency has a genetic component, involved a sample of 1,263 individual genetic profiles pulled from a database of people diagnosed with at least one psychiatric illness, including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, addiction, and alcohol or drug dependence. To echo an old Crystal Gayle song, that really makes my brown eyes blue.

There are more random thoughts just a player click away in the podcast, which is often very different from the blog. Join me there, on the shores of Rambling Harbor.

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