Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Current Events’


Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.

Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina


 


GC Myers- Tower of Lies
How long can you stand on a tower of lies?
How long can you endure on a tower built with  lies for posts and boasts for beams ?
How long before you see the folly in reinforcing one lie with another?
How long before the foundations come apart and fail?
How long before truth comes as gravity to pull this tower down?
How long can we tolerate you standing brazenly atop your tower of lies?
How long until the inevitable collapse comes?
How long until we begin to tally the casualties from the fall?
How long before we begin to build a straighter and stronger tower?
How long can you stand on this tower of lies?

The post above ran back in February of 2017. That seems like an eternity ago now. It asks how long you can stand on a tower of lies.

We may be coming to an answer, at last. The past 3 1/2 years has seen the most remarkable amount of lying and deceit ever to spew from an administration. It is without equal in our history.

Not even close.

The whole administration is a tower built from lies, deflections, spittle, tape and hairspray. It is as weak as the fool atop it.

And now the “Good Germans” who continue to shore up the foundations of this rickety horror show now make no pretense of honesty, openly and shamelessly lying for all the world to see. Their words, their ethics, their moral compasses are worthless trinkets now.

It is obvious they will and plan to do absolutely anything needed to maintain power. There are a number of scenarios floating out there that outline sheer power plays right out of the fascist/authoritarian playbook that might be in play soon. As hard as it is to imagine these things ever coming to be in this land, we have to at least look at them, be aware of them.

I know that four years ago, in September of 2016, I worried that the scenario we’re experiencing might be a possibility with the election of the orange creature. But I felt that my imagination was just running wild and that the institutions, our Constitution, the balance of power would surely  be strong enough to hold back the onslaught.

So now, I hope for the best outcome but pledge to be prepared for the worst.

Be aware and prepare.

Here’s another song from people who were in such a situation. It’s Bella Ciao, a resistance song from the Italian partisans, the anti-fascists who fought the underground battle against Mussolini and Hitler during World War II.

Bella Ciao was originally a rallying song for the women who labored in the rice paddies of northern Italy in the 19th century. Their jobs were backbreaking and they were treated poorly which resulted in strikes and riots and the violence that accompanies such things. This was their rallying song. Bellla Ciao translates as Goodbye Beautiful.

This version is from Marc Ribot‘s 2018 album Songs of Resistance 1942-2018 and features the unmistakable vocals of the great Tom Waits. It is a powerful version of a powerful song that still stands as symbol of resistance to authoritarianism to this day.

Let’s hope we don’t have to adopt this song as our own. Be aware and prepare.

 

Read Full Post »


“America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘if you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?’ There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five


I was going to write a much longer entry this morning about the vast income inequality that is the underlying problem for many of this country’s ills but thought I’d share the selection above from Kurt Vonnegut. This was brought on by a study released by the RAND Corporation that was featured in a recent TIME Magazine article pointedly titled, The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90%—And That’s Made the U.S. Less Secure.

Even though they kind of give away the message of the story in that ridiculously long title, believe me when I say that it is an article that should be read. It shows how that if we had simply maintained the same income distribution that the US had in the the three decades following World War II, from 1945 to 1974, that the aggregate income of the bottom 90% of workers would be $2.5 trillion higher each year.

2.5 TRILLION.

That is such a large number that most of us cannot even begin to fathom it unless we break it down into smaller, more digestible bits. Well, in this case, 2.5 trillion breaks down to about $1144 more per month for every working person in the bottom 90% of the population. Or to put it another way, the level of income inequality we have accepted since 1974 costs the median income of the average full time worker about $42,000 per year.

The Counterfactual Column is What Might Have Been With Income Equality Maintained

I could go on with numbers and figures but what I want you to do is imagine if we had maintained that level. You might have to go back to the period fro 1945-1974 to get an idea. It was a time that so many people here yearn for now because it was marked by many of those things to which we all aspire still. The great American Middle Class was at its peak. Think Happy Days, okay? Building and infrastructure increased tremendously as our national highway system was built and suburban communities popped up with housing developments. The average worker could buy a home and prosper with a single income, most often in jobs that came with health insurance and a retirement plan.

I want you to imagine what this country look like now if we had continued that arc?

Our infrastructure would be the best in the world. Our GDP would be through the roof. Our health system and school systems would be among the best in the world. Small businesses would boom because wealth builds from the bottom up, despite what supply-siders would have you believe with their snakeoil concoction of Trickle Down economics. People would not be so upside down in their mortgages or auto loans.

It comes down to the fact that most could live comfortably on a regular job that would have vacations, healthcare, pensions and more free time for ourselves.

There are a lot more examples that I know I am missing. This is just off the cuff so I hope you will take the time to imagine them.

I am not saying it would be perfect. Social problems– crime, civil rights, homelessness, etc– would remain but might not be exacerbated by the high levels of poverty that we see now.

The rich would still be rich but just not as rich. Ask anybody old enough if there were rich folks in those years between 1945 to 1974. The wealthy were still rich as hell. Maybe Betsy DeVos would only have one luxury super yacht instead of the three or five or whatever the hell she has now.

But that is the beauty of the ruse the wealthy has perpetrated on the American people. The average worker worries about the welfare of the richest of us more than those folks in their own economic strata. You see it whenever there is talk about raising the minimum wage. It is the people who make just a bit more than the minimum wage who scream against it the loudest. I think they see it as devaluing them in some way.

And maybe it does. It should. Instead of railing against someone getting a living wage and a better life, they should be yelling about why they themselves aren’t getting a bigger piece of the pie.

You also see it in the people who attend the president***’s rallies. Most of those folks are working class who are rotting for a creature who is peddling policies that go directly against their own self interest. He doesn’t talk about higher wages for those with jobs. He doesn’t offer them better healthcare. Well, he promises healthcare then moves on to a newer distraction without delivering anything at all. He spouts about the stock market and has these working folks believing it is the economy, even though the bulk of them don’t own a share of stock or understand that in order to return maximum profits to their shareholders, these companies need to keep wages and expenses low.

They root for their own lower wages.

I could keep going and going and going. I don’t have an answer except to say that we will never get back to that time if we don’t acknowledge that there is a real problem. And even then, we have so empowered the top 1% that they will never willingly agree to go back to that level even though they would not experience any real decrease in the quality of their lifestyle. In fact, they would be rewarded with a society that would be far more pleasant in which to live.

Okay, that’s enough. At least I got it off my chest.  Just read the article.

And remember that this not from some left wing think tank. It’s the RAND Corporation. Look them up if you’re not aware of them.

Oh, and have a good day.

Read Full Post »

View of California Wildfires From Above the Clouds


“In all your years and all your travels,” I asked, “what do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned about life?”

He paused a moment, then with the twinkle sparkling under those brambly eyebrows he replied: “In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on. In all the confusions of today, with all our troubles . . . with politicians and people slinging the word fear around, all of us become discouraged . . . tempted to say this is the end, the finish. But life — it goes on. It always has. It always will. Don’t forget that.”

–Robert Frost , on his 80th birthday, speaking to journalist Ray Josephs, 1954


What a time it is.

Much of the imagery you see these days is downright terrifying and disheartening, from the apocalyptic fire scenes from the west coast to the images of clashes in the streets between protesters and police to the scenes of armed white supremacists being given virtual carte blanche treatment as they move about the country to the ugly, hateful stupidity displayed so publicly now by the president’s red hatted followers as they gather to piss and moan about “their country” being taken from them.

Oh, what a time it is.

I wish I could quote Dickens and say that it was the best of times, it was worst of times but quite honestly, where is the best of times to be found these days?

I saw the photo at the top of the California wildfires as seen from above the clouds and at first glimpse thought it was a closeup of the coronavirus. It wouldn’t surprise me if they had somehow sprang from the same Pandora’s Box and ultimately resembled one another. The destructive effect of the two on the lives of those involved is much the same, that’s for sure.

I guess I can only look to the words of Robert Frost and many others who have told us that life will go on. Even though they seem wise enough that I want to trust that they somehow know this to be true, these days I find myself doubting them. But for today, I am going to trust their judgement.

Life goes on.

Here’s the Beatles with their Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da which uses that phrase as a refrain. Keep it in mind as you hopefully have a good Sunday.


Read Full Post »


The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.

H.L. Mencken


I have been trying to stay away from current events but seeing this morning that the Department of Justice is looking to take over the defense of the president in a defamation lawsuit brought against the president*** by a private citizen over an alleged rape that took place twenty years ago just raises my blood. The fact that we, the people, are now paying for his legal defense and any subsequent settlement for is beyond the pale.

It is just another mile marker on the road to authoritarianism.

Factor in what is happening under the rulers this thing in our white house so much admires and refuses to criticize, often even as they imperil our citizen soldiers. You have the kidnappings of opposition leaders in Belarus. The poisoning of opposition leader and Putin critic Alexei Navalny in Russia, which was, by the way, not the first such occasion under the Putin regime. And then there is the crazy number of Putin critics and journalists who “accidentally” fall from high rise windows or mysteriously get shot with sight of the Kremlin.

Not to mention the brutal killing and dismemberment of a US based journalist by the Saudi regime that he often coos about, an atrocity that is now barely a blip in a radar screen filled with atrocities.

That’s the world to which our creature in charge aspires. And 40% or so of our population thinks, or in the absence of thought, believes that this is just fine and dandy.

I can’t accept that.

I will not succumb to the dark world being forced upon us. Will not keep my mouth shut. Will not close my eyes to the wrongs being perpetrated. Will not turn my head away from the rampant corruption or the many injustices of this regime.

I won’t do it.

And the 40% of us that are his true believers view this as being unpatriotic.

Well, we obviously have different views on patriotism.

I am going to defer to Aristotle on this: “It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.

If being a good citizen requires me to be less than a good man, then I will cease being a good citizen.

Sorry for the spew this morning. Here’s a song that says this much better than my angry words. It’s from way back in 1984 from Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul and his album Voice of America. You might know him better as Miami Steve Van Zandt from Springsteen’s E Street Band or as Silvio, Tony’s lieutenant and the owner of the Bada Bing Club on The Sopranos. Or from his Sirius radio channel Little Steven’s Underground Garage or from his Netflix series, Lilyhammer. He’s a busy, multifaceted guy.

And a patriot by my and Mencken’s definitions. Here’s his I Am a Patriot.

The painting at the top, The Way of the Brave,  is from quite a few years back. It’s a longtime favorite of mine and one that I used when I last played this song here back in 2009. It still fits the song.

Have a good day.

 

Read Full Post »

2 + 2

****************************

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy.

George Orwell, 1984

***************************

Two plus two still adds up to four.

But just barely.

There is ample evidence that there are some out there right now who are most likely thinking, “Why shouldn’t 2 plus 2 equal 5? If our great leader say that it is 5 and I feel that it is 5, who has the right to tell me that I am wrong?

Based on what I have seen over the past four nights from DC, the world of George Orwell‘s 1984 is just a little too close for comfort.

There is already the embrace of its concept of Doublethink. That’s where one holds two contradictory beliefs to be true at the same time. For example, there are people out there who believe that it was our government who actually flew the planes into the World Trade Center in 2001. Or they might also believe that the current pandemic is the result of a huge Deep State conspiracy.

These same people believe at the same time that this same government, one that is capable of a huge, complicated conspiracy that would require the silence and complicity of literally thousands of accomplices, is totally inept, too stupid and flawed, to do anything well.

We have become people who believe what they hear so long as it doesn’t involve critical thinking and aligns with what they want to believe. But because there is no critical thinking, most don’t even truly know what they want to believe.

They wait for The Word from some elevated other to tell them that.

The Word shall be whatever strokes their egos and stokes their fears.

It is a scary time, one that is not normal in any sense of the word, and we are rapidly descending down a very slippery slope right now. Who knows where we will be when this plummet ends?

Or if it will end.

As Orwell asks: For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?

Use your mind. Think critically. Speak out. When they say 2 plus 2 is 5, tell them they are wrong. Our world is depending on it at this moment.

Read Full Post »

Well, the show at the West End Gallery opened yesterday.

Out of an abundance of caution, I was not there. I wasn’t going to be able to be there for the whole opening which was spaced over seven hours, allowing only ten attendees at any one point. I decided it would be better to free up the space so others could see the show in safety. It wasn’t an easy decision and I fretted over it all day, on a day– the opening of a show– when I normally fret at a pretty high level. It made for a hard day on an already difficult day.

It just seemed like one of those days where everything is out of rhythm, down to the smallest details. Several things in the household were out of whack as well. I am not going to bore you with my whining on all the details. I’ll just say that yesterday was like the emotional letdown I typically experience in the weeks after a show compressed into a few hours, all taking place before the show’s opening was even complete.

Then I heard that Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s cancer had reemerged and she was undergoing treatment. This as unmarked forces in combat gear were deployed by the DHS on the streets of Portland, Oregon, and were forcibly abducting and removing protesters in unmarked vehicles. These were not raging riots in any form. This was just intimidation and use of undue force all under the guise that they were there to keep people from tagging federal buildings with graffiti. The head of the DHS later told NPR that planned on employing this strategy of putting troops on the streets of American streets all around the country soon. It’s a treacherous ploy that allows them to skirt the objections of mayor and governors with the excuse that they are protecting federal property.

Then I later discovered that Congressman John Lewis, an eloquent advocate and giant of the Civil Rights movement had died.

The day just kept giving its awful gifts.

I am hoping today is a better one indeed. It’s got to be, doesn’t it?

I am employing another painting from the West End Gallery show. It’s called Angels Reach. I am not going into what I see in it or what is has to offer me. I will  just come out and say that this is a favorite of mine and this morning I really need to see something that makes me feel good.

Well, if not good at least a bit better than yesterday.

Many thanks to those of you who came out to the West End Gallery yesterday. And special thanks to Jesse and Linda at the gallery who have put in many, many hard hours of work in making the gallery work in these difficult times. I can’t express the gratitude I feel for you all.

Even though there are three Red Trees in this painting, I attach this song, a longtime favorite, to this painting in my head. Maybe that’s why I call this painting a favorite, as well. Give a listen and try to make your day a good one.

Read Full Post »

**********************

“Our worst misfortunes never happen, and most miseries lie in anticipation.”

― Honoré de Balzac

**********************

This quote from Balzac has been paraphrased and changed over the years by others to the more tidy phrase: Our worst fears lie in anticipation.

I usually don’t agree when writer’s words are changed or used to express something decidedly different from their original intention. But maybe speakers over the years have decided that our worst misfortunes sometimes do happen.

Balzac died in 1850, years before the horrors of the American Civil War, World War I and WW II, which carries its own separate list of atrocities that easily live up to the expectations of being our worst misfortunes. We have witnessed concentration camps, the slaughter of innocents in attempted genocides on several continents, extreme racial and ethnic hatred and so many other black blotches on our collective history.

And I am most likely skimming over a multitude of other examples, such as the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

Yeah, in the 170 years since Balzac’s death, we have seen ample evidence that our worst misfortunes do indeed happen.

But even so, there is truth in saying that most miseries lie in anticipation. Because for all the evidence we have of our ability to inflict the worst on each other, most times we come out on the other side without seeing the worst come to fruition.

That brings me to the new painting at the top of the page, an 18″ by 24″ canvas that is part of my upcoming solo show, From a Distance, that opens next week at the West End Gallery. The title of this piece is The Anticipation.

A lot of the work from this show is a result of my reaction to these times but this painting might best sum that feeling of queasiness and dull fear that comes in waiting for the next shoe to drop. It seems to be its own separate symptom of the pandemic, one that even those who are not yet infected experience.

It’s that feeling that you know there is a beginning and an end and, that even while we are in the midst of this thing, it will someday be over and in the past. That is the light at the end of tunnel. But you know you have to go through the rest of that tunnel, have to absorb all the worst it has to offer, in order to get to that endpoint.

So, you trudge and trudge, each step filled with a dark foreboding anticipation. In every dark shadow along your way you see a new imagined demon, one that threatens you with some awful painful fate. The light barely seems to get closer with each day’s journey and your fears grow with your uncertainty as to when– or if– you will finally emerge from the darkness.

The fear of what might happen eclipses your imaginings of hope.

That sounds dire. But remember, even with our rampant thoughts of the worst that could happen, we are still moving forward toward the light in the future and our actions as we move along can diminish or even eradicate those imagined worst outcomes.

In the waiting, our imagination may only see the worst but perhaps it is so we can act to avoid it ever coming to be.

That’s what I am seeing in this painting. There is foreboding but there is the possibility of hope in our own reaction.

So, while our worst misfortunes do sometimes happen, we do not have to willingly accept them as our fate. We have the opportunity to stand against them, to infuse light into the darkness that comes in our anticipation.

Here’s to that light…

 

Read Full Post »

*************************

Fe fe fi fi fo fo fum
I smell smoke in the auditorium

Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown
He’s a clown, that Charlie Brown
He’s gonna get caught; just you wait and see
(Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me?)

–Charlie Brown, The Coasters, composed by Leiber and Stoller

**************************

Busy today so I am going to make this short and sweet. As much as I would like to rub salt into the wounds of the president*** and his pitiful gaggle of attendees at the much ballyhooed Festival of Victimization and Racist Pride ( that would look good on a t-shirt, wouldn’t it?) that took place in Tulsa over the weekend, I am going to refrain.

Thought I would instead simply share a song. It’s an oldie from way back in 1959 from the joyful Coasters that just felt right this morning. With apologies to Charles Schulz, here’s Charlie Brown.

Have a good day!

Read Full Post »

“Sublime”– Now at the Principle Gallery

**********************

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.

–Albert Einstein

*********************

That Einstein, he’s a pretty sharp guy. I hear he’s doing some great work.

I might be having a little fun but the thought he put forward above is relevant to our times. This might be a good time for many of us to pause for a moment and question our own opinions and beliefs.

Does our thinking help create a world that is better not only for ourselves but for everybody?

And by that I mean everybody, regardless of color or ethnicity or religious beliefs or economic status or political leanings or sexual orientation.

The minute you disqualify anyone based on these factors you have already answered the question.

This moment might be the time in our lives when we ask ourselves why we, through our thoughts and beliefs, would want to disqualify anyone from having a better life.

And an even better time, if we truly want to change the world for the better, to change our way of thinking.

 

Read Full Post »

I would normally be writing about last night’s opening for my show and thanking those folks that came out. But that wasn’t meant to be this year so I am back in the studio this morning. And that’s just fine. With everything that’s going on, with the protests and marches for equal justice and the ugly response to them that only seems to justify the need to protest, I just want to get back to work this morning, to return to the inner world as soon as I can.

It’ll be a short trip but it’s one I need right now. Just a little while in that place makes this place seem a bit more tolerable. Makes me think this might actually be a time of change for this country.

And that’s as it should be. After all, this is a country that is always pushing forward to be better. So why should anyone want to remain stagnant and in the same spot when there is clear evidence of injustice and inequality between the races and economic classes of this country? Why would anyone not want police that treated everyone with equal fairness and justice? Why would anyone not want their fellow countrymen to have the same opportunities and treatment, to be treated fairly and without bias?

After all, aren’t we all better off when all of us are doing well? A lot of us like to wave the flag and yell that we’re the greatest nation on the planet. That’s all good and fine but until we address the great inequities of this country, that is not the case and will never come to be.

So long as anyone suffers injustice, unequal treatment and unequal opportunity, we will still be far less than the nation to which we aspire.

Like the song below from the late great Solomon Burke, accompanied here by the fabled Blind Boys of Alabama, says: so long as one us is chained, none of us are free.

That is the truth.

Be kind and try to envision changes for the better. If we can see it, we can be it.

Have a good day.

************

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: