Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Lost time is never found again.

–Benjamin Franklin

The clocks moved ahead by an hour this morning despite my protests. Even though I have wasted more than my fair share of time in my life, I am at an age where I hate to see an hour just taken from me. That feeling on waking to find that it’s an hour later than I was expecting makes me rush out of bed and my morning begins on a frazzled note.

So this morning–what’s left of it–has found me searching for something to play for this week’s musical selection that would stave off my lost hour panic. Something that would slow me down so that it feels like that hour is still there, somehow.

My search takes me down dead end streets on YouTube with songs that just felt wrong which only served to aggravate me more. But somehow– and don’t ask me how– I spotted this song by a group of musicians unknown to me, a French group called the Tarkovsky Quartet.  It was a composition titled Nuit Blanche (White Night) and, as I listened to it play, felt that it was the right song for this wrong morning.

So, give a listen. Most likely the idea that time springs ahead doesn’t bother you. But if it does, this song is a lovely way to spend a few minutes of time without feeling you’re wasting it.

Have a good day.


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Don’t like to mention my dreams too often here but I woke up this morning from one where I had just put on an album on an old record player and the first song was Frank Sinatra singing the Aretha Franklin classic Chain of Fools, a song I am pretty sure Sinatra never covered. He did a pretty good job with it in my dream.

I didn’t have to think too much about where this dream originated.  Watching the craziness that goes along with this completely dysfunctional White House and everything that is related to it, especially the ongoing Russian investigation, is mind-boggling.  The ineptitude, greediness and sheer ignorance  that reveals itself on a daily basis is totally nuts, especially yesterday’s manic meltdown on national television by Sam Nunberg, a former aide to the person some folks still consider to be the president of these United States.

You can see it all beginning to crumble and fall apart before your eyes. It’s like sitting in a huge stadium where the entire field is filled with standing dominoes. As you watch nothing seems to be happening for the longest time. Nothing is moving. Then at the edge you notice a tiny shift and suddenly dominoes are falling in what seems to be large chunks in every direction.

As all of this is happening, the obnoxious stadium announcer is yelling over and over, “Fake News!”

And in the blink of an eye, it is over.

I have a feeling that is what we are watching at the moment. The tiny shift at the edge of the pattern has taken place.

The dominoes are tumbling.

So, first thing this morning, I  get into the studio and find a version of Aretha’s Chain of Fools with the lyrics shown.  As it plays, I am struck how the words of the song could apply to the people who thought this was a good idea in the first place, those folks who voted to turn this country into the world’s largest dumpster fire. Fools backing a fool and a liar.

The chain of fools- and I think I am being kind to say that they are just fools- has been broken.

Couldn’t find a Sinatra version so give a listen to Aretha and pay attention to the lyrics.

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Every generation has positive and negatives aspects during the growing up process that are unique to that time. As you age, we tend to glorify what we believe to be these better aspects to, for some unknown reason, show a generational superiority.

Oddly enough, we do the same with the bad aspects of our time growing, as though it gives us both an excuse for our shortcomings and a way to say that we are battle-hardened and tougher than the current generation as a result of having gone through that time. You now the routine: I had to fight off a grizzly bear every morning in order to walk two miles uphill through waist-deep snow just get on the school bus– all without breakfast. Or shoes.

But thinking about the our plague of school shootings makes me think I how fortunate I was to have gone to school every day without worrying that someone was going to walk in and start shooting. There was already enough stress in going to school without that threat of mortal danger hanging over your head.

I can’t even imagine how I would have felt if that had been happening when I went to school.

Fortunately, we didn’t have those kind of events at that time but we did have terrible things happen. And even though they didn’t reach the level of these tragedies, they still left a mark.

I went to a small rural grade school. I can’t remember if I was in fourth or fifth grade but one weekday afternoon a girl one grade below me came up missing. A search began and they found her body in a dump site on a creek not far from the school. Soon after they charged a disturbed high school boy with her murder.

I remember that weekend when that happened so clearly. The world changed drastically for me and, I am sure, for many other kids in my school. It that short time school and the rest of world suddenly seemed like a much more dangerous and dark place. There was now a gray sadness I had never known.

We lived in an isolated old farmhouse and at that time I was sleeping upstairs by myself. At night, I would often turn on my little portable radio to drown out some of the creaks and groans that the old place made, noises that would make the younger me think that Dracula or the Wolf Man were just outside the door–Frankenstein or the Mummy never bothered me because I figured I could outrun those guys.

But on Sunday nights the only broadcasts I could get at that time of night were religious programs. They always had a feeling of hellfire and damnation which always bummed me out a bit even at the end of a good weekend. I remember how awful I felt that particular Sunday night in my bed in the dark when Billy Graham’s Hour of Decision came on.

His voice and words gave no comfort at all.

In fact, it made me feel even more fearful, alone and sad. I still can hear the train whistle that came across the fields from the tracks that ran along the river which was about a half mile away. It added a cold and mournful tone to that moment that still lingers with me.

As I said, I can’t imagine how I would feel if I were a kid today. But based on that moment almost fifty years ago, it would not be good. Kids should not have to worry about such things.

Here’s my choice for this week’s Sunday morning music. It is fittingly titled When I Was Young from one of my favorite bands from the 60’s, Eric Burdon and The Animals. Try to have a good Sunday.

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Truth exists. Only lies are invented.

Georges Braque


I am in the studio, looking at a new larger painting on my easel that is nearing completion. The words above Braque clang around in my mind as I look at it.

The painting is strictly an invention, a representation of a nonexistent place.

I ask myself, “Is it therefore a lie?”

No, of course not.

The painting is a true expression of my emotion and existence. That place represented on the canvas exists within me.  And maybe within others who see its symbolic truth.

But I think I know what Braque means with his words. I have some paintings in the studio that I know are lies, not done with honest emotion. They aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, a few have a shiny appeal and have an appearance of truth in them. But there is something just a bit off in the way they come across to me, like hearing the words of a well constructed lie that you know in fact to be untrue.

And if that feeling comes across to me, it no doubt does the same for some others, as well. Not everyone. Some people don’t want to look beyond the surface and are willing to accept the lie before them because it somehow fits their own needs. For them, it is an acceptable truth.

It is a useful lie that serves a purpose to fill their personal need.

And that is okay.

Well, at least it’s okay in the realm of art which is based on personal and subjective preferences.

In other aspects of this life, I think we are finding that this casual acceptance of invented lies can have dire consequences.

Hopefully, truth prevails…


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Every 60 Hours

Every 60 hours.

There is a school shooting every 2 1/2 days in the USA.

Overall, there is a mass shooting every 36 hours. Every day and a half.

To be fair, not every school shooting is a mass event. Some are just guns being discharged in a school, sometimes without injury. But sometimes there are events like the 17 students murdered yesterday in Florida. And all mass shootings involve four or more people being shot or killed.

Apparently, the thoughts and prayers route isn’t doing too well for this particular subject. There doesn’t seem to be much thought going into stemming this tide of death and all those prayers fail to move a god whose silence seems to be replying, “You figure it out for yourselves.

You figure it out for yourselves— that is ultimately the answer.

When you hear a politician offering thoughts and prayers on an every other day basis, what you are really hearing is, “I have no thoughts on how to change this without upsetting the special interests who pay me. And by saying I am praying means that it is not my responsibility and is in the hands of God.

Ultimately, everyone says there is little to be done. It’s too big an issue and obviously too difficult to solve without sacrificing some divine right to own an assault rifle. Instead, we shrug our shoulders again and again and opt to instead sacrifice our children, ourselves and the society in which we live.

Some of us will go out and buy guns in response to these type of things, thinking that if we are armed to the teeth and feel a tiny bit of security for ourselves, it is now  okay.

But do we want to live in the type of world that this sort of thinking creates?

Apparently, the answer is yes because we continually choose to take no action whatsoever, thinking that all the multitudes of thoughts and prayers will magically kick in at last.

Thoughts and prayers? Stick that phrase where the sun don’t shine, pal.

Thoughts and prayers are empty words when real action is required.

We have to figure it out for ourselves and until we make that decision to do so, to take personal responsibility and sacrifice in the name of change for a greater good, we will go through this again and again and again and again.

Until it hits every school, every community, every family. Maybe then we will see what we have become and will decide that a change is needed.

Until that day comes, we have our  thoughts and prayers.


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This morning I was shuffling through some stuff and came across the great photo shown above. It’s a photo the great photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt took in 1950 of a University of Michigan drum major leading a group of kids across the campus lawn.

It has a wonderful effect in that it never fails to make me smile broadly. The joy in those kids mimicking the drum major is palpable.

Now, that’s a parade.

Which brings me to the news that broke last night that a certain person in Washington has given his directive to the Pentagon that they plan for a huge military parade with columns of marching soldiers, tanks and all sorts of armaments flowing down Pennsylvania Avenue in the District of Columbia.

At first blush, you might think that sounds great. Why not?

But when you consider the history and symbolism of such parades, you begin to ask, “Why?”

Military parades are not part of our national identity and have happened infrequently, the exceptions being at the ends of those wars when we have had citizen troops returning.

When you think of such parades, images of those in the Soviet Union, China and North Korea come to mind. These were conceived as shows of strength from these countries but were, in fact, signs of weakness and insecurity. The need for bravado and the flexing of military muscles is meant not so much to impress the outside world. Were we in the US really filled with fear at the sight of tanks and troops marching in Red Square?

No, these parades are designed from a stance of weakness and are meant to instill unquestioning, fervent nationalism as well as to stifle dissent within their own countries by showing the absolute might of those in power.

And this proposed parade falls into that same category, in my opinion.

These shows of strength not who we are and are not necessary. They show our weakness in a pitiful need to conspicuously show the military strength that everyone in the world knows we have. When we spend more than all of the other major powers in the world combined, they know.

Not to mention the cost, most likely in the range of a hundred or so million dollars. At a time when we are adding a trillion dollars to the national debt this year, wouldn’t there be better places to direct those funds? Maybe in helping those many, many soldiers suffering with PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder?

I doubt those folks will be marching in these parades.

And all to appease the vanity of a weak and needy leader who kowtows to despots and dictators while constantly attacking his own government, a fool who believes that we are somehow constitutionally bound to stand and applaud for him.

Nobody can tell me when to stand and when to clap.

This ability to defy acts of authoritarianism might be the right that makes me feel truly American. Not some ridiculous military extravaganza.

Give me a drum major and a bunch of kids any day. Now, that’s a parade.

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This new small painting is titled and never looked back… and is headed to the annual Little Gems show at the West End Gallery. It’s a piece that reminds me of the Depression era and the Dust Bowl refugees who forced from their homes by a hostile environment and a pitiless economy, leaving all they ever knew behind. I can only imagine the feelings of loss, the anxiety, the confusion and the anger that must have been constantly running through these people’s minds.

To have to leave one’s home– and never look back.

I know this is hardly a happy subject to face on a Sunday morning but I worry that we will someday soon face the same sort of situation. It has happened in one instance recently, if you consider the many people of Puerto Rico who have lost everything in the past year and how they have been forced to leave their island home. They are the current modern day Okies.

You may say this an unfounded worry, given the strength of our economy. And you’re probably right, at least for the short term.  But with the deregulation taking place in the financial sector, the shredding of the social safety net and unparalleled wealth inequality– a mere 6 people have more wealth than the bottom 50% of the global population, 3.7 billion people– we are setting the stage for a huge economic crash when the economy eventually sputters, as it will given its cyclical nature.

I know that I sound like a bummer filled with gloom and doom. I don’t mean it that way. I am just sending out a cautionary note that if we continue to ignore the lessons of the past, we will relive them. Not necessarily in the same way. We may not be Okies jammed into old trucks, heading out west to pick fruit. I don’t have the imagination to think what our lives might be in the next critical situation that comes our way. But I do know that it won’t be good unless we begin working now to avert the worst of it.

Okay, enough. Today’s Sunday morning music is a classic Dust Bowl era song from Woody Guthrie that was in my mind when I was finishing up this painting. It’s title is I Ain’t Got No Home in This World Anymore.

In the 1950’s, Guthrie lived in public housing in Brooklyn that was built with public funds by a NY developer by the name of Fred Trump – yeah, that guy’s father. Guthrie noticed the fact that people of color were not allowed in that development and later wrote new verses for this song that called out the racism of Old Man Trump, as he called him. This discrimination throughout Trump’s network of developments persisted for nearly 25 years until a Civil Rights lawsuit was brought by the Federal authorities and was settled in the late 70’s. Here’s a link to an article outlining more of the details.

Like I said, we relive the past.

Give a listen and have a good Sunday.

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