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“Culmination”- Now at the West End Gallery



Each man is always in the middle of the surface of the earth and under the zenith of his own hemisphere, and over the centre of the earth.

-Leonardo da Vinci



As we count down the last four days of this excruciatingly long year of 2020, I was looking for a a painting that had to do with the endpoint of things. I immediately thought of the piece shown here, Culmination, that is currently at the West End Gallery.

Its title came about because I saw the path in it as being the trunk of a tree with the paths going off each side as its limbs. The Red Tree at the top was the endpoint of this tree much like each of us are in our own genealogies.

Genealogically, each of us sits at the very top of a pyramid where everyone below us in that pyramid has endured wars, illnesses, pandemic and plague, persecution and imprisonment, and even slavery and holocaust just to get us to this place and time. We are the culmination, the very pinnacle of our family tree. 

For now.

Eventually, we are just part of the trunk with a branch that goes on and on. Or one that breaks off and abruptly ends.

I thought this piece would fit well with the end of this year. So many of the things that came to bear in this strange and awful 2020 were the culmination of events, lives, and organisms that developed and grew– and often worsened– in the years and decades before.

They all seemed to converge to make this year feel like an endpoint, a culmination of some sort.

For some, it was the ultimate endpoint, maybe the end of days as the evangelicals call them. For some, it felt like the end of democracy was all too close to its end here. And this year certainly felt like it marked the end of civil discourse and civility in general.

And of course, for hundreds of thousands of families, the pandemic brought an end to the lives of all too many loved ones. 

2020 was a year that sits atop a pyramid of horrors and atrocities. Hopefully, as it draws to a close later this week, it’s a position it maintains for a long time to come. The year that pushes it further down this monstrous pyramid is not one I wish to endure.

Have a good day, okay?

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“Sublime”– Now at the Principle Gallery



Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragin’
Will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

–Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’



I’ve heard this Bob Dylan song hundreds of times over the decades since it first came out in 1964 and a particular line in it always jumps out at me, even in idle listening. The line is: Don’t stand in the doorway/Don’t block up the hall/For he that gets hurt/Will be he who has stalled.

I have always read it as being about the inevitability of change and that those who try to stand in its way rather than trying to adapt are the losers in the end. The fact that it is used in a verse that refers to senators and congressmen makes it pointedly topical, especially in times when the present Senate Republican majority leader has been heard telling a group of big donors in recent days that he will oppose and stall every bill put forward by the Democrats, even bills he considers good bills. He said he would not allow them any victories.

That means he also will not allow the American people any victories, any gains, as he darkly tries to stall progress and change. We have seen this act before and have suffered from his mean-spirited intransigence.

But try as he might, change will come, in one way or another. It can be slowed or stalled but it is only temporary and eventually it bursts through all obstacles, usually obliterating them in the process. Like the lines from the Dylan song.

So, for this last Sunday in this monumental and often awful year of 2020, I thought it fitting that I play a version of this song, probably one you haven’t heard before. It’s from a 1969 album called Dylan’s Gospel from a group called The Brothers & Sisters of L.A., which was a group of L.A. based studio backup singers organized to record an album of Dylan covers in a gospel format. The group included some pretty high profile studio singers including Merry Clayton who I have wrote about here in the past. She is best known for her searing vocals on Gimme Shelter from the Rolling Stones. She is the lead on today’s song and knocks it out of the park.

The album was not a commercial success so this was the only effort from the group but it left behind several powerful versions of Dylan’s songs including The Times They Are A-Changin’.  So, let’s wrap up this year with some gospel firepower, brush aside the barriers and let the times a-change as they surely must.

Have a good Sunday.



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“In These Days”- Now at the West End Gallery



SEPTEMBER 1, 1939

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
‘I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,’
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.”

― W.H. Auden, Another Time



The poet W.H. Auden wrote this poem, September 1, 1939, as the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, marking the beginning of World War II.  I realize that many of you may not enjoy poetry but I think this is one that deserves a few minutes of your time, one that speaks of that time and this time. The final two verses resonate with me and mirror my own feelings as I watch the death toll from the pandemic grow with each passing day– over 6000 deaths here in the past two days alone– and the acts of sedition taking place within our government and the courts as dishonest men attempt to undo the will of our electorate.

Both are insidious, slowly creeping upon us so that many of us pay little attention and go about our days trying to act as though nothing is taking place. If the deaths were violent and amassed quickly within a day or so, we would respond with an outcry and greater action. The same with the attempted coup d’etat we have at hand. Both plod forward in a slow manner so that we somehow think it is almost normal.

It’s not. And thinking, reasonable people can see this. It brings despair but it also brings out, as Auden put it, an affirming flame in many. A stirring to action in a time when so many are complicit with their silence and the loudest voices are from the worst among us.

In the end it comes down to this, again from Auden:

There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Do not let your guard down. Be careful out there and have a good day.

If you don’t like to read poetry, here’s a fine reading of this piece from actor Michael Sheen.



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Say the word and you’ll be free
Say the word and be like me
Say the word I’m thinking of
Have you heard the word is love?

It’s so fine, it’s sunshine
It’s the word, love

— The Word, The Beatles



There’s a lot of things I could comment on today. The pandemic is raging with over 200,000 new cases a day the new norm and 3000+ deaths per day in its sights. We have a lame-duck president*** who ignores his responsibilities to whine endlessly and claim without a shred of evidence that he was defrauded in the election even though his attorneys have admitted several times in court that they are not alleging or showing evidence of fraud. Instead of accepting defeat graciously and doing his duty, he cries and blusters about an election in which he was defeated by 4.4% of the vote, a landslide amount in any election.

The current count shows him trailing by about 7,000,000 votes. To put that amount in perspective, it’s the combined number of voters– from both parties– in West Virginia, South Carolina, Kansas, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota. That’s a lot of folks.

But I digress. I don’t want to talk about that. Let’s talk about something more upbeat, say, the fact that the album Rubber Soul from the Beatles was released on this date back in 1965. It was their sixth album and marked the beginning of a remarkable four album arc — Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the White Album— that both ignited and marked a sea change in pop and rock music.

It is a great, great album that still stands up well after 55 years. Every song is a winner. I want to share a song but with every track being so memorable, it’s tough to choose one to highlight. Any one would be a solid choice but I am going with The Word this morning.

Give a listen — say the word and you’ll be free–then have a good day. Be careful out there.



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Interviewer: My feeling from talking to readers and friends is that many people are beginning to despair. Do you think that we’ve lost reason to hope?

Kurt Vonnegut: I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka “Christians,” and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or “PPs.”

To say somebody is a PP is to make a perfectly respectable medical diagnosis, like saying he or she has appendicitis or athlete’s foot. The classic medical text on PPs is “The Mask of Sanity” by Dr. Hervey Cleckley. Read it! PPs are presentable, they know full well the suffering their actions may cause others, but they do not care. They cannot care because they are nuts. They have a screw loose!

And what syndrome better describes so many executives at Enron and WorldCom and on and on, who have enriched themselves while ruining their employees and investors and country, and who still feel as pure as the driven snow, no matter what anybody may say to or about them? And so many of these heartless PPs now hold big jobs in our federal government, as though they were leaders instead of sick.

What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they cannot care what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!

— Interview with Kurt Vonnegut , In These Times Magazine, February 2003



I recently came across this short interview with the late Kurt Vonnegut from early 2003. He was describing a different set of people in a different circumstance and time but the underlying motivation and methodology of those people in charge remains the same. There is a direct line from those people to the current group of people in power– actually, some are the same folks– who are staging, as Vonnegut puts it, a Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat

We saw that yesterday in perhaps the most insane press conference since, well, the Four Season Total Landscaping affair. The time gap between displays of sheer insanity is getting shorter and shorter. But yesterday was as nuts as it gets with Rudy Giuliani, with his clown makeup running in streams down either side of his face, spewing incoherent nonsense that sought to subvert the will of the American electorate. Talking about Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, interfering in our election among a litany of other absurdities.

I’m no doctor but I believe Giuliani would no doubt fall into the “PP” category referenced above.

The whole thing was comical in its absurdity and ineptness.

For right now. For the moment.

But it sets a dangerous precedent that will linger and no doubt come back to bite us at a point further down the road. It lowers the bar for the next “PP” who is most certainly biding their time in the wings. They will come along with their air of certainty and self-assuredness that appeals to our peasant nature, that part that resides in many of us that deeply desires that someone tell us what to do and what to think. We want to be led and will willingly follow most anyone who confidently moves to the head of the pack.

And sometimes those confident folks turn out to be psychopaths.

What is happening, this Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat, is not an anomaly, not something that we simply get past. We think its just about this one man, Donald Trump. Yeah, I wrote it. But this is about an arc of action that has been forty years or more in the making. And its arc is far from complete, may not have even reached its apex. In fact, we may only be witnessing a preview of what could be on our doorsteps at some point in the near future. 

We now have a large group of folks in our society who have a massive distrust of experts, scientists, and the media and are prone to avidly listening to and following any sure-speaking conman spouting conspiracies and accusations that prop up their own prejudices and worldview. They will create strawmen to sell to their eager followers, foils to blame and knock down even as the facts don’t add up in any way.

There is a whole class of folks like that now. Some of them might have seen the Giuliani dog and pony show yesterday as a prime example of pure truth-telling. Sure, it’s crazy and doesn’t really make any sense at all, falling apart under close examination. But these folks aren’t looking to dispel falsehoods. They aren’t willing to look closer and will take it at face value. After all, it was said with such confidence that it must be true.

That is going to be a problem for a long time to come and how it manifests itself should be of concern to us all. I’ve been worried about this time for decades now. The arc was evident even back in the late 70’s and early 80’s and has been accelerating more visibly for the past 25 years.

Vonnegut could see it as could many others. It’s easy to see but hard to avert or combat. The damage is done to our foundations now and there will be more if we fail to shore them up. Whether we can repair our foundation is in question.

Answers?

You got me there. Just keep grinding, I guess. Keep slogging forward and try to do good things and set good examples. Try not to hate.

It’s all I know to do. 

Have a good day and do something good.

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I only understand friendship or scorched earth.

– Roger Ailes



I normally don’t like to put quotes up by those people who I find reprehensible but this short quote above explains so much.

It’s from Roger Ailes, the late serial sexual abuser and fired head of Fox News. It was Ailes who served as the engine driving the darker aspects of cable news that feeds American public willing to believe even the most suspect drivel so long as it fit in with their own beliefs and prejudices. 

He was also a confidant, adviser and friend to the current president.*** 

And I would bet my life that if he were to be asked whether he agreed with this short statement from Ailes, he would most likely say, “Yes. Bigly.

As I said, this explains so much.

A scorched earth policy, for those of you not familiar with the term, is a military tactic where a retreating army destroys anything that might be of use to their opponent. It usually means burning fields, destroying buildings and homes, disabling utilities and so on.

In short, making that place practically uninhabitable for some time to come.

Now, some businessmen like Ailes and his ilk like to think of themselves as warriors and treat transactions like combat and their business rivals like enemies. Anything goes in trying to win. If someone does not side with you, you destroy them in any way that keeps them from opposing you now or in the future.

Scorched earth.

While, this ugly and often cruel method may be somewhat acceptable solely in a business environment, where those involved put themselves there by choice, it is not one that can be transferred to governance.

Governance is for the totality of the citizens. Even those who do not vote for you or those who openly protest when your policy decisions adversely affect them. To preside over a nation means you act as a caretaker for that nation.

All of it. Every person in that land.

That is not a concept the current president*** understands or accepts. He sees anyone who stands in opposition to him, even in a perfectly civil and legal manner, as being an enemy that must be punished if not destroyed.

For the past four years he has viewed more than half of this nation as his enemy.  

He never looked out at the people of this nation and simply saw nation of American citizens to whose care he was entrusted. He saw the crowd as being his people and his enemies. Those who would protect him and those who would attack him. They were always broken into two camps. 

And from day one, he has put that perception to the test. He never tried to bridge the gap to bring the two sides closer together, never sought to extend a hand of help or unity. In fact, he seemed to take pleasure in punishing or taunting his perceived opponents. And the more he taunted and punished his enemies, the more they spoke out against him and the more his people defended his every move, even his most egregious actions. 

And the divide grew wider. Now, much to his delight, his people see the other side as their enemies, who they wish to hurt and destroy.

Scorched earth style.

The unfortunate truth here is that in their adulation of this selfish fool, they are willing to scorch the very land where they live.

Their economy. Their security. Their democracy. Their future. 

It is obvious that the president*** has lost and by a wide margin. When all is said and done, his opponent may have over 80 million votes with a 51% majority that gives him a nearly 4% gap of victory.

That is an overwhelming defeat in any election. 

Yet, instead of now heeding the voice of the American people, he would burn the soil and homes of this land before he retreats. He is setting fires every day before he leaves with the hope that this country will be so ablaze that the next administration will be facing an impossible task in putting out the many fires in trying to stabilize the nation.

He has proposed a war with Iran. He has gutted vital defense departments and tried to our make open to our foes military methodology and secrets. He has sped through the sale of public lands to his business cronies. He has attacked our very democracy through is constant and unsubstantiated accusations of voter fraud.

Just this morning, he fired his head of election cybersecurity because his statements verifying the security of this year’s elections didn’t line up with the false and flawed narrative he and his cronies are feeding to his people.

In my eyes, this president*** has not shown any real love for this country or the people in it. He loves the power and prestige of the office, loves the perks and the constant flow of attention and adulation he receives in that role. But when it gets down to the nitty gritty, he doesn’t love the people of this country. Certainly not those who he sees as his enemies.

And not even his people because he sees his defeat as their failure, not his. They didn’t do enough for him.

A lot of these folks will be badly hurt by his scorched earth tactics but he will try to keep a bridge or two open for them. But it’s not done out of love for these folks. They have failed him and he will never fully forgive them for that. But he knows he may want to use them again in the future, either for protection or for profit. Most likely for profit. 

As it is with any good conman, you don’t give up on your marks until you get everything you can from them.

Then it’s scorched earth once more.

Let’s hope he doesn’t fully burn this joint to the ground on his way out. For ALL our sakes.

 

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“Real Power”- At West End Gallery



I was just going to post a song as I do every Sunday and be done with it this morning. Then I came across this post on Twitter from a longtime RN working in a small Plains community that both broke my heart and angered me. Her name is Jodi Doering and she is from Woonsocket, South Dakota, a state which saw an almost 70%  Covid-19 positivity rate this past week. This is what she wrote last night:

I have a night off from the hospital. As I’m on my couch with my dog I can’t help but think of the Covid patients the last few days. The ones that stick out are those who still don’t believe the virus is real. The ones who scream at you for a magic medicine and that Joe Biden is going to ruin the USA.

All while gasping for breath on 100% Vapotherm.

They tell you there must be another reason they are sick. They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that “stuff” because they don’t have Covid because it’s not real.

Yes. This really happens. And I can’t stop thinking about it.

These people really think this isn’t going to happen to them. And then they stop yelling at you when they get intubated. It’s like a fucking horror movie that never ends. There’s no credits that roll.

You just go back and do it all over again. Which is what I will do for the next three nights. But tonight. It’s me and Cliff and Oreo ice cream. And how ironic I have on my “home” Hoodie.

The South Dakota I love seems far away right now.

It made me sad because I so appreciate the work done by nurses and aides in the healthcare system. It is difficult, crucial, and dangerous work that often comes without thanks or any acknowledgement of appreciation. They are under fire, putting their own lives at risk every day while helping others, from this pandemic and their task is only going to get more difficult in the coming weeks as the cases pile up. These huge numbers we are seeing across the nation will be followed a few weeks later with equal jumps in deaths and hospitalizations. The fact that these folks in healthcare are facing such dire prospects just breaks my heart. I have read and seen numerous such testaments of nurses crying as they suit up with their PPE to head into work. The emotional toll being paid by these people is yet to be seen.

But it also made me angry because of the sheer selfishness and stupidity of those people who refuse to believe that this pandemic is real and that they have any obligation to take any measures at all to protect themselves and others. They are part of a large segment of our population that has chosen to reject any objective reality that doesn’t suit their own desires or beliefs.

This is not an organic thing that just happened. It was originally fostered as a political tool that preyed on low information voters, bombarding them with falsehoods, misinformation and disinformation. It was so effective that they could create complete fields of belief and disbelief in the people that were targeted. But once this wave of selfish stupidity is unleashed, it becomes unmanageable and irreversible.

Kind of like putting the toothpaste back into the toothpaste tube. 

My anger stems from the utter irresponsibility of those who sought to enable and profit from this behavior. It also extends to the danger that this irresponsibility has wrought. It has created dangers for us in so many ways. It imperils our health, both physically and mentally. It imperils the validity and credibility of our electoral system.

Jodi Doering, like so many other healthcare workers sharing similar experiences, is a real person who is shouldering a great burden. Not a bot spreading disinformation. The pandemic is a real and deadly threat that we cannot pretend doesn’t exist. Nor can they ignore the very real results of our election. You cannot simply wish away these things away. If that is inconvenient to you or upsets you, that is simply too bad right now.

This selfish stupidity must come to an end. I don’t know how and that makes me crazy because of the fear and anxiety it creates in me because I know this group can be made to believe anything and accept any form of behavior.

That has been amply demonstrated.

There’s way too much toothpaste out of the tube now.

Okay, I have vented. I wish I had more answers than concerns for you.

Let’s hear a song. I am going with a song from AC/DC. Well, a version of an AC/DC song. It’s Thunderstruck, one of the biggest hits from the Aussie rockers. But his version is from Steve’n Seagulls, a Finnish– yeah, from Finland!– bluegrass group that has made a name online for themselves with their quirky videos set in a rural Finnish setting of their covers of hard rock classics. For example, this video has over 112 million views so maybe you’re already aware of it. But it’s a great, energetic way to kick off this Sunday, especially given what I wrote above.

If you can cure selfishness and stupidity, please do. For the rest of you, have the best Sunday you can muster.



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Rockwell Kent- Clover Fields



President-elect Joe Biden is on a path that will show him winning close to 51% of the votes with what will most likely be a margin of over 6 million votes. It is, objectively speaking, the largest electoral rebuke of a sitting president since FDR unseated Hoover in 1932.

It seems that the people have clearly spoken. Even so, with a sitting administration that seems more hellbent on undermining our democracy than even pretending to address the pandemic that is now fully out of control across the country, it seems like a lot of folks need reassurance that the will of the people will be carried out. To that end, I felt that this post from a few years back, written at the time of the damaging government shutdown of early 2018, still applies.

Plus, I was needing to see some Rockwell Kent paintings this morning. That always does me some good.

Believe in reason and have a good day.



 

Rockwell Kent- The Trapper

 



Force against reason: reason, because it has the power of enlisting forces to fight for it, will win. From the recognition of that truth has come democracy.

-Rockwell Kent



There are a lot of things that could be said this morning, especially with a governmental shutdown taking effect overnight. This shutdown is the symbolic culmination of the political attitudes of the past twenty years that have led us away from compromise and reason as a means of governance. I am not going to go into my own grievances here.

I’ve done that enough.

But I will say that for all the anxiety this government produces as it tries to force itself closer and closer to some form of autocratic authoritarianism, I am somewhat optimistic. And that may be because I agree with the premise of the quote above from one of my favorite artists, Rockwell Kent.

I do feel that we are in struggle right now between force and reason, that the direction in which we are being directed via deception and fear-mongering– the force here–goes against the ideals and virtues that we have long professed as the basis for our democracy– reason.  The idea that reason is enduring because it has the ability to enlist those who will fight for the truth of it is reassuring to me and seems to be backed by history.

What we are experiencing is reminiscent of the way other empires have ended, when the beliefs that grew these empires are set aside by rulers who see themselves as being above those ideals and virtues. But I believe we are still a nation with enough reasonable people to resist the forces of greed and nativism that have descended upon us.

And that gives me hope, even on these days that seem so dark.

So, thanks for reminding me of that, Mr. Kent. Here’s a video of some of Kent’s landscape work, primarily of some of my favorite landscapes from the Adirondacks, Vermont and Greenland. The format of the video is a little cutesy for my taste but it shows a lot of great work from Kent and features the music of Edgar Meyer and Joshua Bell. Can’t go wrong with that combo.

Have a good day and stay reasonable.



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“Human beings, whatever their backgrounds, are more open than we think, that their behavior cannot be confidently predicted from their past, that we are all creatures vulnerable to new thoughts, new attitudes.

And while such vulnerability creates all sorts of possibilities, both good and bad, its very existence is exciting. It means that no human being should be written off, no change in thinking deemed impossible.”

― Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times


“It is a happy faculty of the mind to slough that which conscience refuses to assimilate.”

― William Faulkner, Light in August


Yesterday was an interesting day. A good day.

A good and decent man and a strong and smart woman of mixed race and immigrant parents were declared the victors in our presidential election. Throughout the country and around the world spontaneous celebrations took place with throngs of people ( almost all masked, by the way) taking to the streets. A total release of emotion. Dancing. Singing. Banging drums and honking car horns. 

A cacophony of  joy. 

In Paris and other cities around the world the church bells tolled. 

I would like to think that witnessing this explosion of celebration might cause those who have steadily supported the divisive rhetoric and vindictiveness of the current president*** watched this and wondered how his loss could have possibly triggered such elation and joy. I would like to think that it made them feel cracks taking place in the shield of the cognitive dissonance they have maintained for the past four years, being fed as they have been a steady diet of pure falsehoods and subsisting on beliefs and .conspiracies that do not align with any sort of reality.

Living in their self-contained bubbles doesn’t allow them to even consider the possibility that their reality is not everybody’s reality.

I have to admit this applies to both sides to some extent. But the blind allegiance to the lies, vitriol and cruelty of this president*** is beyond anything seen on the other side. It is complete acceptance of every lie as truth even when their own eyes tell them it is not so. Their support for him even when confronted with facts is an amazing bit of pretzel logic that rationalizes his every action. In the four years since his election I have yet to hear anyone speak of their support for him in anything but broad generalizations and mischaracterizations of events.

They want to believe so hard that their kind rejects the reality that is before them.

I think yesterday went a long way toward bursting that bubble for some of those folks. Not all, of course. There were counter-demonstrations, though much smaller and less ebullient. And largely unmasked. Even when it comes to their health and a raging deadly pandemic, many still refuse to accept the reality that is so apparent to all others.

But for many, it had to be illuminating to see how country and the world reacted. It wasn’t a reaction to a political victory. People celebrated when Obama was elected but even that was dwarfed by yesterday’s outpouring.

This was a reaction similar to the winning of a world war or the toppling of a tyrant. It looked like something from a movie where the citizens of Earth have turned away an alien invasion.

To witness that from the other side had to be a mix of bitterness and bewilderment, probably wondering how so many people could be so wrong. And probably even more so, if they watched President-elect Biden’s speech last night, heard him speak in positive terms about unity and moving ahead together. Where was the anger? There was no promise of American carnage, no threat of retribution or revenge. Not raging with grievances. No us and them.

It was an extended hand and a promise to speak to and for all Americans. It was sane and calm and delivered in terms of unity and future built on hope, not fear. 

It most likely didn’t resemble in any way the strawman that they come to fear and hate. The future he spoke of includes them, doesn’t push them to the side or minimize their concerns. 

Like I said, yesterday was probably a day of illumination for some. The future doesn’t have to be dark, doesn’t have to be built on demonizing or blaming others. It can be okay, maybe even better than okay.

All they have to do is allow the possibility that there is sometimes another way of thinking about things.

Hopefully, yesterday cracked some bubbles and some new light was shed on their minds. Like Howard Zinn, whose words are at the top of the page, I believe in the potential for people to change their way of thinking.

Okay, enough. I am writing this off the top of my head so I apologize if this is not as concise or focused as I would like.

For this Sunday morning music let’s go with a song, Anthem, from Leonard Cohen whose message is most fitting today for this post: 

Ring the bells (ring the bells) that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That’s how the light gets in

Have a good day. There will be tough days ahead, but let’s hope there are many more good ones to come.


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Betrayed and wronged in everything,
I’ll flee this bitter world where vice is king,
And seek some spot unpeopled and apart
Where I’ll be free to have an honest heart.

― Molière, The Misanthrope


Sorry I’ve been away for a couple of days but it was unavoidable as I had fallen into a small Black Hole that formed in a closet in the studio, just behind a stack of records. I was transported by it to the 7th Dimension of the Time-Space Continuum and was stranded there. I had to wait for the bus that brought me back here just minutes ago.

What have I missed? Anything important?

Actually, I just didn’t want to record any reaction to what was happening. Early Wednesday morning, I knew my emotions were too raw and that the process was not far enough along to make any real assumptions. If I had written it would have been too angry, disappointed and disillusioned.

It would have been something in the vein of the lines from Moliere’s The Misanthrope, shown above. 

It looks like this phase of the process is coming to an end and the reign of our wannabe dictator will come to an end. I thought this would make me want rejoice and yell out “Hallelujah” to the heavens. But it doesn’t. My happiness is dampened because, of course, of the weariness of the battle and the fact that there is much more danger and division ahead in the phases to come. Hopefully, we endure the rough ride and come out on the other side, where we can try to patch things back together, try to somehow repair the extensive damage this abomination has inflicted on this country.

But can we? Has he done irreparable harm?

I certainly don’t know. I can only speak to how he has affected my small world. 

And I worry that the damage he has done to my own view of my country and my fellow citizens is permanent.

And therein resides the greatest part of my immense loathing for this creature.

I have survived this world thus far by clinging to small bits of hope, to pursuing ideals that were based on some sort of goodness. Honesty. Empathy. Generosity. I have tried to find the better part of those folks I come across.

I have believed that this country did indeed have greatness but that it was never in our past. We were only on our way to greatness at any point in our 250+ years of history as a nation. I believed that our greatness was in the future and that we would slowly approach it so long as we pursued the great ideals of equality and justice for all. 

And even then, we might never reach it. But so long as we kept moving forward, that it would be okay.

But this creature has made me doubt my beliefs, made me question even the possibility of future greatness. How can any nation survive and progress towards any sort of, to use the words of the Constitution, a more perfect union when it is broken into two halves that seem to share few beliefs and values? How can it go on when  half wants to move forward and half wants to return to some imaginary point in our past? 

Because of this creature I find myself becoming more and more like a misanthrope. He has me feel judgmental and bitter towards people I don’t even know. I find myself asking how anyone could embrace his brand name hatred and vitriol, how they could blindly accept his ludicrous accusations and lies. How could they turn a blind eye to his barely veiled racism and open corruption? How could they think that the road to any sort of greatness ran through this soulless, selfish creature? 

Is this how I will forever be– angry and distrustful? Will I ever be able to restore the belief in the ideals and virtues that have sustained me for the many years of my life? Can I ever believe that these values are still shared with the vast majority, that we are willing to work as one to move forward toward that more perfect union?

I truly don’t know.

There are too many balls still in the air, too many potentials still out there for both disaster and redemption, to make any sort of determination. I doubt that I will ever be the same as I was before this creature slimed his way into our lives. I will always have doubts now, even greater uncertainty in who and what we are as a nation and what we might one day be.

In the words of the always wise Jiddu Krishnamurti:

When you once see something as false which you have accepted as true, as natural, as human, then you can never go back to it.

I am certainly going to try to maintain my optimism, try to regain my starry-eyed idealism. But I do not know if I will ever fully be the same. His words, his actions and his effect on the people of this nation have changed me.

And among his many crimes, that is one I will never be able to forgive.

But now, I am off to try to recoup some of that which was lost. Off to the easel where, as Moliere wrote:

I’ll flee this bitter world where vice is king,
And seek some spot unpeopled and apart
Where I’ll be free to have an honest heart.

Be careful out there and have a good day. Now get off my lawn!

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