Friday, October 28, 2011
this was especially true in kansas, where they had the royals, but royals games were a little wooden, empty, not as good on radio as cards games. one thing you could say about the cards: they made it into the series every once in a while. they have a long history of colorful players: the deans, brock, flood, gibson, musial (he was from pittsburgh, it was always pointed out- but, he was before my time, in in my era, it was hard to conceive of a true homerun hitter on the cards; they were all base-stealers)...with such a colorful history, and teams that were always in the race, it was just better pulling for the cards.
lots of arkansas and oklahoma are wild mountains - in oklahoma they're called the ouachitas, and they are in the southeast corner, wild in the sense that outlaws used to hide out there, sometimes for years, and nobody would even come looking for them. it really felt like the west, but the mountains themselves, kind of like the ozarks, were wild and deep and it was hundreds of miles to anywhere. i loved this country, and would try to imagine living there, but couldn't. how would you make a living? it seemed like the land was very inhospitable; even the farmers weren't doing all that well. but it sure was beautiful, especially when the sunset or sunrise would pick the fog out of the mountains.
last night's game was wild, texas would score, and the cards would come back and tie it, and this happened twice, and finally in the eleventh, or something, the cards just popped ahead and won. i'll get some pop art up if possible, but it was like midnight when i got to bed and i was excited; it was fun to come into work because there are so many cards fans around. my friend the cub fan, boy was he kind of ornery, though; that's one of the things i never did like, it always seemed to me you could like them both, if it got right down to it. maybe that's not possible though. maybe seeing all those happy card fans was just too much for him to bear; i'm not sure. one secretary wore the red cards stuff as a halloween costume and i almost said, that's not even a costume; you wear that stuff all the time. birds on the front, pujols' name on the back, a rally squirrel on her shoulder. but all those cards fans brought smiles to work. they're living for the series, just like me; it's a good year. yes, it's gone a little too far, mixing baseball and halloween costumes, baseball and cold wet fall weather; it's already the 28th; we carved pumpkins today and will probably take our costumes on the road to tomorrow's party, which fortunately, does not cross-schedule with tonight's final game.
pressure on because of the strike, everyone has pretty much taken sides and there are a lot of things going on around town related to it; it's my job to figure out what exactly they are striking over, if in fact it actually comes to pass. so many people are what i'd call spoiling for a fight; it's kind of like a wartime mentality. but, as i told my wife, i've got my head in the sand, my nose to the grindstone, and the radio on tonight, where it's once again a close game but the cards appear to be hitting well, as they do when i'm listening. these days they aren't so much of a base-stealing team, but they're still plenty exciting and i've been enjoying listening a lot. i wear an old mariners hat to work and finally today took to saying, this is actually an anti-texas hat. told one secretary, actually i've hated texas longer than i've liked the cards. but of course, it's only hate in a baseball kind of way, we don't actually know these guys from anyone, some of them are no doubt former indians. that one secretary says, we don't hate texas, we just want them to lose, in this case, because we love the cards.
i'm driving around a lot these days, around town, and i notice we've got two things from canada, the geese, and the trains. the trains will occasionally speak french to you, if you happen to see the canadian national words spelled in french, and i imagine the geese are bilingual too, but they're mostly just arguing when they get around here, because we have a lot of juicy looking fresh-water lakes and they try to figure out whether to stick around, for how long, when to take off, which direction, etc. they get a little disoriented, because the lakes are all over the place, and the weather is a little topsy turvy, wind could be coming from anywhere, you can't even tell what's north. or maybe they're like the birds in our yard; they find the juicy berries; they get drunk, then they don't know what to do. the birds in our yard were smashing into our window, and i was convinced it was because they were drunk, but my wife wrote on the window with highlighter and that seemed to ease the problem. the reason i mention canada is that i heard a good story from canada, actually it's on a blog i've linked to for many years, and it told about how the #occupyvancouver folks were cooperating with the police, and they thought they'd help the police keep costs down, so they got the police to train their security volunteers in cpr, so the police wouldn't have to hang around with their expensive patrolling way, and could go mind their own business somewhere else. this remarkable degree of cooperation made me jealous, it's as if canada just figured out a better way to live, so that they wouldn't have to have all this conflict all the time, they could be all polite and civilized and all. it could be related to the fact that hockey is the national game, and hockey lets everyone get out their yayas, or their aggression, if they have it, so they can be civilized in the rest of their lives.
then they talk about these occupy folks with hashtags, as if they all live on twitter and that's their address, all mail goes here. each community has its own hashtag, all mail goes there, all messages delivered to that hashtag, you can see everyone and everything with that handle alone. it's the name of the community; it's also the address, in an online kind of way, for all comments. those hashtags (pound signs) are back.
back to the series. i'm working on laundry, and dishes, and want to get something done before i literally keel over. it's the seventh? time for a stretch.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
high holy days are on their way, and this is what i call them: halloween, all saints day, all souls day, dia de los muertos, guy fawkes, sadie hawkins, actually i'm not so much into all those put together, as much as i am, just that it's so beautiful out. cold, yes, rainy, yes sometimes, but, just really nice. it's a busy time; rumors are flying about the strike, kids need halloween costumes, the term is busy, the roads are busy, and, believe it or not, my partner and i have started practicing christmas songs in preparation for an annual gig. we like this; it's good music. but it fills me with panic that the busiest season approaches.
the kitties, well, the kitties are down to two and we are almost certain to unload at least one of those if not both. the older one, we found a home for already. i think he/she will be ok; i send this kitty my best wishes as he/she goes to live among saudi students in the heart of the student area, where life is pretty wild. these guys are pretty wild too. they don't however have any particular superstition about black cats though. if you think about it, my music partner said, probably the reason it's hard to find owners for black cats is that people are superstitious, though they don't want to admit it.
so now rangers are up by two, i'm blogging the series, it's the bottom of the tenth, cards' last chance. the zero hour (as thursday is, for us, here in strike-land). do or die. pressure is on. the heat came on in my building at work, and that's a complete turnaround for the plants, which have been living on an air-conditioner for months, but are now in a warm-earthed jungle. the heat is on.
it occurred to me, as i was on wall street turning on pleasant hill, that the occupy folks ought to come out on our wall street, since it is in fact called wall street. wall street in our town starts way out there by that forest, on pleasant hill, and comes down through some woods to a student area, near where one of my sons live, by the university, up past a kind of run-down area, and also a corner where some guys hang around, out of work, or looking for work, or just hanging there on that corner. near there is this gas station that some guy bought and tried to turn into a hookah bar, but i'm not sure if that ever got off the ground or even if it is still a going concern. up the far northeast side it goes by a mosque and a school, and keeps going, but i rarely get out there beyond the school, and don't even know how far it goes. you could occupy wall street, i figure. why not? it's not like we have an actual financial district.
so i spend a lot of time driving around town, listening to african music (this keeps the boys quiet, since it has these wild rhythms and chants, and languages that the young one likes to pick up), and much of this is actually on wall street, since it's a decent road and i like it. so i guess i could say i'm occupying wall street. and i have my complaints, but i don't carry a sign, i just drive by the place. one of my complaints is that i don't have a costume, and halloween is upon us. i got two for the little boys, but i may have to go to a grownup party, and for these, well, grownups really need me to be dressed in one. ah, but what can you do? i haven't even had time to think about it.
i have other complaints, but who would care? it's the peak of the season, life is quick, everyone is busy, the cards' season is on the line, people's lives hang in the balance, with a strike around the corner, and i'm thinking, a day at a time. that's how it is for the kitties; they'll all come to a better place, i hope. they'll be delivered. and that's what i'm thinking, another turn of the wheel, and it'll all look different.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
the world of cat rescue is another welcome diversion but no sooner than i was pretty much totally diverted, having caught three cats under the house of my son and his roommates who had somehow inherited this cup-overflowing kitty-litter scene, than my wife, who really needs diversion much more than i do, more or less took over. she knows cats more than i do, and she cares more, and knows how to tame wild cats and even how to handle them and make sure they'll get basic care with whomever they are given. i however would have been much less particular, just giving them to any friendly face who would agree to walk the other way; this might doom them to inexperience, or improper care, but we'd be rid of them sooner, without all the talking and scaring the poor victim out of agreeing to take them. given the whole story, of how they ruin your furniture, sleep in your laundry, sneeze on your head in the middle of the night, bring a mouse in for your dining pleasure, etc., it's a wonder anyone with the facts would ever take one in the first place, but if they do, my philosophy is, don't hang around asking questions. one cat rescuer tried to get me to get recommendations from their vet in order to be assured that they at least take cats to a vet once in a blue moon (we do, for example), but once again, i say, don't even grill them, just unload the poor things. they are surely likely to have a better life in one place than the other, and in fact, if one doesn't know a cat rescue, they are pretty much doomed at the animal shelter and that's where they'll end up. on top of that, you have these ads on craigslist and elsewhere of people willing to take your cats, but there's this suspicion that these people sell them to animal labs, or even eat them, people being desperate and of as little principle as you can imagine. no, i don't know this happens, but i shudder at the suggestion.
so we saved a teenager (black, sex unknown), and three tiny ones (two grey, one black)- gave away one grey one, it appears, successfully, but failed, in spite of having two or three homes lined up, to unload any of the others. we have some promises and some possibilities; we're working on leads. the little ones at least may be claimed very soon. there's a question of a black cat on halloween...is it true people will use these for demonic purposes? if so we saved him(?) just in time...and maybe we can get him through the holiday...then again, maybe not. how long will it take? my wife sauys that some people in the country are always willing to take another barn cat. she says, this is bad for the birds, it kills birds. but i say, sounds like the best life we've heard of so far. he might be hungry, might have to eat a mouse here and there, but at least he wouldn't be dead, or in a no-kill shelter that reportedly has 400 already, but they live in cages, and, though they could find room for one more, it might take a while. it's an ongoing drama, but, it's in my wife's hands, more or less. her network isn't quite as wide as mine, but it's more reliable, in that she is more likely to tell them all the facts right off, and they are more likely to know and care about kitties, rather than be the bilingual but feckless types that fill up my department...
i was trolling around the occupy sites, occupy cleveland, occupy wall street, and making pop art, and using the pictures by saturating and posterizing colors to make pictures less clear, more dramatic, when it occurred to me that, like frogs in a steadily heating cauldron, the whole thing is heating up slowly but considerably and generating, picturing, glorifying, or provoking conflict of any kind is really somewhat distasteful especially since we're in the middle of a strike negotiation and the conflict is boiling toward an inevitable climax which should be happening here in the very near future. it's a matter of conflict wherever we turn, where, on the one side, it's, you stop working, you go off the job, you lose your insurance, you lose your vacation, you lose your seniority, the strike might last quite a long time, all the classes will be covered, there will be a plan in place, life will go on as usual, except that everyone that goes out will be frozen out, stay out, out of work, out of luck, out of the loop, etc. on the other side is this hankering that, having been insulted, slapped in the face, disrespected, treated as marginal groups that aren't needed, there is but only one solution, and that is to walk out, all together, in unity, and watch them writhe in their own hollow words. so it's conflict left and right, storm on the horizon, possibility for ripping lives asunder not to mention friendships, marriages, collegial work relationships.
so, in order to avoid all such conflict, or at least not think about it constantly which is bad enough, i take to saving kitties, or working on colleagues to help in the effort, and i also, by the way, cut and harvested kohlrabi, turnips and radishes, all this in the morning while i was making three lunches, getting kids dressed, getting homework and pens collected for the ride in, the usual morning routine with hot coffee and a wary eye outside at the changing weather. they say a cold rain is coming in, which is typical for this time of year, in fact usually socks game six and game seven as it's a pretty regular turn of the earth and letting the world serious get a little too close to halloween it's pretty inevitable that there will be some pretty bad-weather baseball, and all when players have played right through june july august and september, all of which are pretty dry. around here this late october deal means that the birds eat the ornamental berries out in the front, get drunk, and come crashing into the front window, though my wife finally took a highlighter and put thin lines on it, which the birds can see and we don't. and the gingko tree: it's due to drop all its leaves on a single day, but we're not sure which day that is, maybe tomorrow (i doubt it), more likely a little closer to the big holidays. halloween is what, monday? then the saints day, and all souls day, then strike day, guy fawkes day and sadie hawkins day all in the matter of a couple of weeks. stunning, the gradual change from the bright splashy yellows, to the mellower browns, the soft peace of early winter. the high holy days, so to speak.
conflict is like this: each side gets madder and madder. they can't really communicate. they know it's better to work it out, that letting it turn to full-scale war will be the ruin of everyone, that it's gone too far already. but they get into bad habits of perception: they begin to see each other as the enemy, they begin to be unable to see each other in any other way. now you might think that i'm thinking here of the unions and the administration, well i guess you could say that. or maybe the occupy protesters and the police, who have been going at it in various cities, though i've avoided that whole scene here, and didn't even drive by it today though i might have had a chance if i'd gone around. or you might think i'm talking about divorce, which i thought of for a minute, because here two people who told the world they loved each other are all of a sudden screaming and yelling and unable to think of each other as anything but enemies. but no, i'm actually thinking of the cards, who are in the entertainment business, so therefore see their texas brethren as enemies, only insofar as they have to beat them in an athletic contest, and win or lose the people are entertained, and pay the big bucks, and dress in red and such, and everyone wins, that is except the dude who fell from the upper bleachers and a couple of other random victims. it's much more wholesome, thinking about baseball. maybe i'll write a story, or make some music. i've got to get out of this vicious cycle.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
1. 37% back occupy protesters
2. pete seeger visits
3. occupy camps become shelters for the displaced
4. occupy protests in casper wy, muncie in, charleston wv, spartanburg sc, oklahoma city ok, little rock ar, etc.
5. submit your story about the occupy movement...
6. police actions, conflict in various cities: cleveland, oakland, chicago, melbourne australia, etc.
7. get your free downloadable web posters
8. my own pop art, a humble contribution...
that's hard to remember in a town that is probably 90% between the ages of 18 and 23, and on weekends like this one maybe more like 99%, since all the old farts like me are holed up out on the edges, knowing better than to venture into town. but i'm at the breakfast joint this morning, with my older sons, 19 and 23, and i press them for details. since halloween rioting and partying in general is a tradition in this town it's of more than passing interest whether it turns violent, how violent, how big, how much, which windows broken, etc. and who was involved, and, if violence was directed at anyone, whom.
they say that there was a lively interchange between the occupy protesters and the student partiers, many of whom had wild costumes and had to walk right past the "occupants" as i call them. those occupants have gravitated across the street so that their tents now guard the interfaith building that houses our quaker meeting, with its overgrown garden and twisted pines, brush by the railroad tracks and more-or-less uncut grass. they were in and out of the place, and double in number, and still in significant number across the highway in the grounds of the metal bucky-dome frame that the university threatens to take down. a steady occupying presence, on both sides of the street. so apparently everyone was drunk enough to tell the truth and shout at each other as the revelers walked by, and one was even dressed like a protester, and another was dressed all environmental, just for mirth i suppose. and that gets them branded as "the 1%" which is now the bad word for anyone you don't like, or in my case, the milk i don't like. i've begun using terms like "the half-and-half" or "the two percent" for people like me who are ambivalently making enough money to actually pay taxes, and feel like i have some say in what's going on, if only i had enough time to use it.
but to get back to last night, there was, apparently, quite a bit of serious partying, some wanton violence but not much which is reassuring, and of course there was the big cards victory, world serious, fourteen to six, which, i must say, couldn't have got much bigger, unless of course they win it all which still could happen. some people are dressed all up in this redbird stuff, all red, red and white with s-t-l all over it, but you can accuse them of not actually wearing a costume since they tend to wear that stuff all over the place, to work, on the streets, anyway. a real costume would be if they wore the other team, but then, that would force them to go meet and talk to someone from the other team, and know them well enough to actually borrow a costume from them.
reminds me of a friend of mine back in the day who borrowed the costume of a police officer, and this guy had long hair all the way down his back which was supposed to mean, back at that time anyway, more or less the opposite, so he thought there wouldn't be much questioning of his true credential, since, if anyone knew him, they'd know it was a costume. but it was such a good costume that he was talked into going to some fringe parties, not the ones he'd originally intended to grace, and at some of these they didn't know him so well, and in fact, he'd hidden his long locks pretty well in the getup that he had, and to make a long story short, everyone thought he was real, and then got really angry with him after all their friends had run away out the back door, or flushed the drugs down the toilet, or whatever. and they kind of turned on him and chased him out of there, kind of like you would if you thought you could get away with it, with anyone who wasn't really welcome at your party.
so there was the elation of the cards victory, which is not shared a hundred percent by the way, cubs and sox fans each having significant presence in town, and all these student revelers going about drinking and wilding, and the protesters trying to hold signs and hold up a highway location even as it gets steadily colder and the classes become steadily more serious, and even require some homework occasionally. but there's more: a strike is looming in the air, and everyone is a little on edge about that, because it could blow your whole semester and make a lot of work go straight down the toilet so to speak, and jobs & careers could be lost in the process too of course. and this is truly a one-horse town, the university is all there is, so when the university teeters on the brink of disaster, so does virtually everyone, it's felt right straight down to the homeless and the other powerless. whole classes of people are feeling marginalized.
then there's the police scandal, and i've more or less let that one go, because it's on the city level, and it involves our neighbor whom we love, him and our family, and because it involves who investigates whom and how is certain information obtained and we are entirely out of the loop, except that his wife comes over occasionally and fills us in, but even then we don't hear much and certainly don't even ask to hear what we do hear. it'll be a wild year to trick or treat, that's all i can say, but with but a week to go and we don't even have costumes, i'm sure we'll be too busy to actually stop and visit with the neighbors on our way around; and, as to the question of whether it's actually dangerous neighborhood, one in which people wander around stealing things out of parked cars, i can only say, anything can happen, and maybe they could steal some of the leaks out of ours. you can only make so much of a costume, you can make a good car look like a humble one, and a police car look unmarked, but in a town like this people don't even use turn signals, because everyone knows where everyone is going, and the bottom line is, you mostly only get robbed if you happen to own something. i worry about the older boys, wandering around uptown where drunks are often getting rolled and relieved of their money but, once again, you clearly don't have much if you walk out of a restaurant with dishwashers' soak all over your midsection; maybe you'd think they'd go after the 1%, but then, if they hit the 1%, then surely the police will throw the book at them.
so then, nationwide, the pressure is on, the protesters are keeping it up; their ranks are swelling and they aren't leaving places like zucotti park or the financial district of chicago where they just arrested 130 of them. in some places a good hard cold snap might send them indoors for tea but in a place like this that doesn't happen until maybe mid-january. as the pressure rises it changes the political climate; people wonder about all the stolen money, the useless wars and the economic injustice involved when "too big to fails" walk off with billions and all the young people with babies are forced to face a bleak and desolate job market, or leave the country. one could make money, maybe, making t-shirts that say, "99%" on them, in various incarnations. or, one could go into the police business, since they seem to be getting a lot of overtime.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
1. occupy carbondale
2. alcuin and flutterby blog
3. we are the 99%
4. Why Rush Limbaugh Is Freaking Out About Occupy Wall Street
Matt Taibi, Rolling Stone, 10/18/2011
5. Occupy Wall Street: The Movie Connection
Gary Susman, Moviefone, 10/10/2011 - story of the clown, Guy Fawkes
6. Anonymous Gathered to “Occupy Wall Street”! [Pictures]
Hi Tech Analogy, September 18th, 2011
7. Occupy Wall Street protests put spotlight on stressed middle class
Gannett's aggregation (scroll down)- news from every place
Friday, October 21, 2011
my big discovery from trolling the occupy sites was that the clown figure is actually guy fawkes, and came from a modern scary movie; i've become fascinated with this clown figure (see the occupy pop art) at least for the time being as he has a lot of contrast and really sets the other stuff up. he also is a bigger figure on the world stage, for whatever reason, than here; they've also taken in the 99% idea and, in some places, tend to gather quite large audiences for a good long time. the cold weather is already chasing them here, though, sadly, and i doubt they even recovered, locally, from having their tents removed the other night, though this is a weekend in october, and the campus, and town, tend to get pretty lively in their own right, giving the police more to do than just make a bunch of protestors unpitch their tents. the history of this town says: the whole month belongs to the wild crowd. the police will have to guess exactly where the party has moved, and i obviously am the wrong one to ask.
a little guy in our house got sick, and this set us back a little, and sent me home today to make pop art while he slept it off. i keep thinking of the rainbow people as i see these massive encampments, tents, sleeping bags, people hanging out on the streets, class-war signs, and i'm sure there are rainbow people among them, but these protestors, compared to the rainbow people, are much less clever about getting in the police's bad graces, learning the ordinances, etc. the rainbows were also egalitarian, also somewhat averse to having a coherent political message. also a bit fly-by-night, here one day, gone tomorrow. one would bring greetings from the far corners of the continent, and tell what was happening in some encampment on the opposite coast, and you'd learn far more than you do by, say, reading about it in the mnainstream press. i'm hoping to collect a number of occupy sites; i find them mostly trolling for images, but it's a pretty active community online, strong, united at least for the moment. perhaps able to exert some pressure, and get something done politically.
when i found out that the clown dude was guy fawkes i got a little start, as i've always taken guy fawkes quite seriously though i've never lived in england or really understood what the whole holiday is about. apparently people still burn fires on his behalf, and even light firecrackers, though it's mostly against him, as he was a catholic seeking to overthrow a protestant government. so, are the fires anti-catholic? divisive at all? just hooliganism? and what about this clown dude - does he inspire anything besides the feeling, as one person pointed out, that high drama is involved, with the sharply visible black-and white dramatic mask. i don't know. i've started to use him in the art, hoping i'll figure it out as i work with the image.
i taught an extra class this week, and that has made me more tired than usual and also somewhat spinning from the high exposure to both entirely new people (there are many) and a parade of others passing through, with their various complaints and comments. so many of the new ones are saudi, and i've become quite familiar with that culture (though not the language), and many others are chinese; this is an interesting and baffling contrast and keeps us hopping. we have so little time to worry about the strike, or the tent encampment, much less the cardinals who are in the series, or even the field trips out to six flags. things are hopping.
i call it show your colors month, because, in my view, the bright display of nature around us stirs in us, fears of winter, and at the same time, desire to show the world our best, our true self. a leaf is its true self all its life, but at that one moment, when it is its brightest color, and it lets go of its little hold there, and drifts down to the ground where it becomes part of an orange pastel that slowly turns to brown; that is its moment, at that moment you see it perhaps most clearly for what it is. i used to notice this when i moved people (in an old truck)...surrounded by boxes of possessions cast asunder, where they couldn't get at them, being between one apartment and another, they'd show more of their personality, out there on the edge like that, than ordinarily. maybe these encampments have experienced some of this intensity.
which then, again, brings us back to the rainbow people, who of course would bathe in this intensity though they'd often (by reputation at least) bathe in nothing else. i myself always loved camping, had no problem with a group of people sleeping in tents for a day or a week, getting that wood-smoke smell in their whiskers, and the being in the woods, of course, would relax you, make you healthier, make you sleep better (tonight, by the way, is supposed to be a meteor shower, but i, in my usual habit, am unlikely to be awake at the pre-dawn darkness and may miss it altogether)...in any case, the intensity of their lives, being between homes, between jobs, between any poles of permanence whatsoever, would sometimes impress you in such a way that you'd want to go home (to any home), get warm, curl up by some fire, and eat a store-boughten fig bar. their campfires would be wild, and social, and musical, and would carry on well into the morning for all who were up to it, and the dreams of the next place up the road would come tumbling out, usually someplace warmer, since, as i mentioned, i generally associate rainbows in this area with october...then i'd wonder, is key west really that much better? at the moment it would seem that way.
then, in this town, october was always known also as the big drinking month. it would culminate on halloween with a blowout party that happened every year but through the nineties became steadily more violent until the city and university moved aggressively to wipe it out sometime in the early oughts, 2003 maybe. people would fill the so-called "strip" with drunkenness and lewdness, yelling and shouting and basically getting drunker and drunker, and not going anywhere. an old couple passed through town and made a connection at our house, since they were friends of my parents, and were involved in some bicycle trip down the river that required them to take the train back up the river into the heart of the strip of our fair town. but this train, city of new orleans, arrived at this bar area at about 1:30 or 2, and this being october, this place was hopping, and everyone was drunk. at this time of night, one sees everything, drunkenness, drunken driving, people saying all kinds of things, urinating on the tracks in front of the train, etc. the poor folks were shocked. but hey, it's show your colors month, these kids are doing what kids do.
so the drinkers are out drinking, the cards fans are all wearing their birds, and their red, and their s-t-l hats, and saluki fans are out there doing their saluki thing, and the poor police, of course, are trying to maintain some kind of order, and not look too bad beating up people. i myself am making a lot of pop art, and playing african music again as i drive through town. the pop art is somehow soothing, seeing these faces, millions, all kinds, with urban architecture as background; this clown dude, of course, is like waldo, appearing all over the place. but the wall streets of various towns, around the world and around the us, are kind of like the next place up the road, it's a permanent road tour. i shrink from a political statement of any kind; i find guy fawkes all over, some places with a dollar bill on his mouth, but again, i don't take sides in a 1600 political battle, except maybe quaker sides. tonight i was out there, near the strip, printing wal-mart books, and saw some young lads hitting the sidewalks going for a drink, yet it was only about three; they were in for a long evening i'm sure. i'm long gone, long home, by the time it gets started down there, about eleven or twelve, but i know enough about it to stay away, and, like i said, i'm shrinking up by a fire with a warm glass of milk, usually. so when the old folks came around that one year, in october, and pointed out what a wild town i lived in, that the train would stop in the center of it at two in the morning and it would be full of wild and shouting young people, and i'd forgotten all about it, didn't even remember how wild it could get. studying africa is kind of like that. here's kenya, sick and tired of wild militants sneaking in and kidnapping tourists, sends an army across the border to clear out the militants, and everyone gets caught in deep mud & muck and things get worse before they get better. the militants, like the rainbow people, are more likely to say, we live like this, we're used to it, a little bad weather isn't going to clear us out of our forest or send us to shelter. but for the rest of us, seeing that kind of instability as a way of life is a little rattling, and reminds us, how good it is, to have a place to raise a kid, for a decade or two.
this one rainbow guy i met, was hitchhiking to alaska one summer, with his little kid, when the rains came down and washed out the highway, and we were all stuck in this far northern canadian town for about a week while they put the road back together. it boggled my mind, how you'd manage to do something like this with a kid, yet he kept it all together, made a little money while we were stuck there, got back on the road like we did, and off to the next place up the road...we'd sit on our backs, and watch the northern lights swirling above us. i never asked, for whatever reason, what happened to the mother, or whether they were on the lam or what; obviously, if you're hitchhiking, you'd expect to be checked once in a while. among this community there was a maxim: of course it's possible. they could have hitchhiked to the southern tip of south america, and that would have been possible too, lots of people did it. but as a way of life? i'm not sure it was, for him, a way of life, or for his kid; he was probably just going from one place to another. sometimes i'd like to get out there again, see those stars in different sets, maybe see the ones south of the equator; maybe i've spent a little too long under the usual orion. but i'm also grateful; you see those old guys, some of them hard drinkers, some thrown in jail in spite of their best efforts, or just worn out but needing another hike out of the woods, as they are constantly pulled back to town by their need for warm food, a little money, the earthly pleasures. i'm grateful, because i'm home, and hope i can stay this way. the clouds are looming above, and you always wonder, you go to bed sometimes, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. but, the fact that i've made it this far, and am home again, that i'm grateful for. and with that, i'll throw you some pop art, and go to bed. to see the whole exhibit go here...
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
the protesters had found this place, in front of the bucky-dome, perhaps because the frame dome made good pictures and could be seen by a lot of traffic; in addition, they were across from gaia house, a funky old building that we use as quaker meeting, which sympathizers could let them into thus letting them use the bathroom in the middle of the night or perhaps make a cup of warm tea. there were as many as fifteen or twenty tents there, even at the peak of the cold rain, but this probably upset the university grounds crew who were doubtless worried about the effect on the grass and the appearance.
as i scan the world of images in order to make my pop art i'm struck by how the protesters like to go right up against these wonderful old buildings that invariably house the federal reserve, or the big banks; these guys own the best of the world's architecture. we in this tiny town are architecture-starved, so that to me the best part of scanning images is finding fine old buildings to feast my eyes on. there's no shortage of fine, old stone work contrasted with young fresh angry faces. but, in this town, there was an absolute lack of two things: fine old buildings, and, and actual financial district. we don't have either. there wasn't even anywhere they could march; no repository of anything more than a month's pay. their choice of the bucky-dome was interesting because quigley, that ugly old 50's era building, actually houses the architecture school, and that's ironic; then, bucky himself, who favored sustainability and right design, well who knows what he would say about a score of muddy tents outside his aluminum dome-frame. it made a good picture, yes, but as far as i know the press didn't even catch it.
while cruising around the web i encountered this interesting article that is now buried in thousands of words, most angry, directed at the protesters by the financial community. quick to point out the financial and economic ignorance of the vast majority of protesters, and be offended by nose-rings, ipods, etc., but then, this writer was also keenly aware of the billions that had been stolen from the american people on wall street, and even eager to give them tips on where to look for it. i have said for many years that if you live in this country and you are not angry at all the money that has been stolen, the billions in wars gone to halliburton, cheney and friends, the vast sweeping hand that, in the name of the american taxpayer, parks soldiers in korea, germany, uganda, iraq, afghanistan, etc., most of the time not bothering to ask for permission, granting fortunes to gun dealers and leaving people starving, oh well don't get me started. anyway what struck me about this article again was the contrast: one guy, right in the middle of it, angry at all the loot stolen over the years; thousands of protesters, also aware, believe it or not, of how they've been fleeced, they and their children, and their grandchildren, and they have nothing else in common, except that anger.
i also had and raised five children in confidence that, with the u.s. as my home it would have a bright future for them and their offspring, a place of hope and rebirth and genuine good attitudes about a multitude of things including equality, peace, racial harmony, civil liberties. i have begun casting my eye at places that seem to hold more hope in the long run, in terms of being able to promise and keep these things; it seems to me that, when a few hundred trillion in debt, you've kind of sold a little too much of your future. in greece protesters demand simply going bankrupt and forgetting the debt, forcing the banks and the world to just shove it. this, if i'm not mistaken, might cause the whole system to come tumbling down, but worse, if it gave us ideas, and we were to do it, then it would be another world war two. we may have forgotten, but whole sets of devastating wars were caused by basically the economic squeezing of entire peoples, who in their austerity, frugality, lack of money and lack of hope, began to lose everything except their sense of nationalism, and who then simply turned that anger on those around them. could it happen again? in the big picture, i have no doubt.
in this sense, learning and knowing history hasn't helped me much; it's given me a bleak sense of foreboding for all the suffering to come. i have hope in some ways: that if stealing continues it gets increasingly harder to do under the watchful eyes of populist occupiers, in league with the voices from within that identify the thieves and even have some idea of where the stolen loot is (switzerland no doubt, right next to gaddafi's loot)...back here in carbondale, however, i feel helpless to do anything except make pop art, and, as i did today, accidentally reroute my chauffeur-driving tour (dropping off & picking up kids from school, etc.) so that i can see a lone bicycle, unlocked, next to the bucky-dome frame, a chair nearby, not sat in, signs gone, and a hard rain falling.
the kids have taken to rancorous baiting of each other on the way to school, rain or not, they're back there in the back seat, calling each other names, being mean, and doing whatever damage they can without being seen in the rearview mirror. at one point i threaten them with radio or bluegrass or something, and the little one likes that option; in fact, he even listens carefully to talk radio and picks up a few ideas. there is so much water in the street, it threatens to turn into one of these small-town floods, where a small-town sewer system just can't handle it all at once, but the car handles it ok, and everyone is orderly on city streets, which is actually better than such places as boston, or bangkok, or mexico d.f., where you take your life in your hands every time you step out. at home, we change the furnace filter and turn on the heat. i work, i eat, i rest, i yell at the boys, and i occasionally check in on the turmoil on the golden continent, or maybe i could say, the hungry continent. i'm grateful, again, that i've had my dinner, that i've even had dessert, that i sit here warm inside a spacious house, with lots of clothes, a couple of cats prowling around too lazy to hunt for the mice. another holiday season rolls around, grandchildren coming, but the winter is coming too, and that means, i suppose, that occupy the north will turn into occupy the south, or, the hardy will get real hardy, and real clever about their protest tactics. somehow i don't think it will mellow out and float away; it certainly hasn't in greece.
the rainbow people used to come through this area in the fall; they'd have their fall gathering deep in the shawnee and use carbondale, or perhaps harrisburg, as a meeting point and a place to panhandle or dumpster-dive before grabbing a can of beans or two and heading back into the forest for a few weeks. they'd often leave here the minute it got cold, telling everyone they wee headed for key west or some such rainbow gathering-point, but who knows where they'd end up or even if they could be said to "end up" anywhere. the other day when my son walked over to the occupy encampment he said he ran into a couple of old rainbow guys, but then, this was sunday morning, not a good time to catch the young student crowd at their best. the reason i mention it is, the two cultures have a bit in common: their own language, their own communal lifestyle and way of doing business, and communicating; a global network, and global ways of reaching out to it; and, a fairly loose, even maddeningly vague program in spite of a long-term commitment to change and survival. when the weather changed, around here, you'd see these folks passing through town, and everyone recognized that as a sign of fall. the leaves come loose from the trees, and in their greenish-orangeness, turning toward orange, drift down and share their color for a spell. it's show your colors month, which, as you may be well aware, is not, to me, the most beautiful (easily eclipsed by the understated brown hues of november)...but, in any case, makes for a bit of raucous interaction, out there in the world of human experience.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
yet the 'occupy carbondale' demonstrations are getting larger, picking up steam. sunday when we were at quaker meeting it consisted of about three tents and maybe half a dozen people, but today, people were yelling at cars, and then i saw maybe ten tents, twenty or thirty people. they are not in the center of the town's financial district, but we have had trouble figuring out exactly where that would be. they are however across from quaker meeting interfaith center where they can use a building, its kitchen, and bathroom.
earlier in the day i'd weeded the interfaith's garden; it had been planted earlier in the summer then almost totally neglected. some vegetables were in there but could only be found by weeding; i had the impression that people had tried to pull vegetables out, and had missed some entirely. gardening i found to be the most spiritual of exercises; i literally hunger for simplicity, one vegetable at a time. and the clock ticks down toward our first frost; do you think that will thin out the "occupy" folks?
my students went out and asked a number of americans questions like what they thought of arab spring, and were surprised to find so many who had no clue what it even was. one said, even my 7-year-old nephew knows about gaddafi. ah yes, and their opinions matter, because they elect guys like bush who destroy the world for decades to come. in the light of that situation i started applying my pop-art skills to documenting the occupy movement, which at least gets in people's faces and asks what's going on. people have been stealing money, is what's been going on, they start wars, and that helps their buddies, and it's all on the backs of our children and their children, and it's enough to make a baby mad. but in the process of making pop art i've renewed one of my old themes, which is when i can contrast old east-coasty architecture with rage and expression, so it's a glorious time for pop art. hope it can continue.
out in the country, about 18 miles south in the heart of the shawnee, at a winery which has a pond with huge fish in it, and buffalo across the road, a quaker woman married a french geologist and there was a wild wedding where my child stole a few grapes from the vinyard and fed the huge fishes, but mostly people ate fine duck and other delicacies and had a fine wedding on a beautiful day. it reminded us of our own wedding, ten years ago, the last wedding held by our meeting, which was also outdoors, with people in a circle, free to speak, with plenty of silence and a fresh breeze. the kid was taking some of the fine chocolates from the tables; later the bartenders got in league with him and they were popping dark jellybeans from the bar. the idea of a fine, slow, three or four course meal was of course lost on him, though he ate some of the duck. people danced well into the night and toasted with fine wine from the south of france, home of the groom. vows were spoken in both french and english.
as for me in my own escapist way i've become totally absorbed in forty acres of dry scrub rangeland in northwest south dakota, and headlines from the golden continent, which turn up all kinds of things including undersea volcanoes in the canary islands, one country invading another, and the various residues of arab spring itself, landsliding downhill into disorder. in south dakota a county land service shows me how dry and arid a patch of land is, and by clicking on a settled place nearby i find the name of b.c., a famous actor, and think for a while that i have a famous actor as a neighbor out there on the plains, but then i look again, and it seems much more likely that he's c.b., name backwards, a small-plane pilot who takes a friend up in an old cessna, and shoots coyotes, in winter, when they're easy to see, and takes state animal-control money to do it. i wouldn't tell him how to do his job, and i've never lost 10% of my own sheep, so i don't know if it's worth all that airplane fuel to kill a few pups, and i also don't know if he's the only guy who's really irritated that the government wants to extend its powder river testing grounds for its b-1 bombers, which don't actually bomb the coyotes, but just do practice out in the wide open spaces like c.b.'s ranch where you've got hundreds of acres of whatever strung along together and turning into dry valleys with maybe a few scrub trees here and there and dusty paths that probably act as roads, to some degree, i suppose. remember that the county seat has three hundred something people; the town where you'd get coffee has maybe thirty. the army probably figures, what the heck? maybe they could practice on the coyotes.
at the wedding, one of the bridesmaids is named cybele, and i mention my favorite movie of all time, which is called 'sundays and cybele', which she was named after, and which may have put the name on the map, though it didn't stay there for long. when the web was new i got my students to mention their favorite movie which required me to mention mine, and i did, and later while searching for some evidence of the movie, on google which was new at the time, could find only my own post. now i can see, it was a 1962 movie; i'd seen it, maybe, in about 1968, because i was old enough to at least recognize that in its french-ness it was different from any movie i'd seen before. i will now embark on a campaign to get one of my grandchildren named 'cybele,' as it's an excellent name, not spoilt by hundreds of pretenders, and, as she pointed out, easy to google. i went back and read about the movie itself; it had a plot. but, if i remember correctly, what was really french about it, besides the setting, was the photography. it carried you into another perspective.
i explained to some tourists from boston, at the wedding, how this particular area was part of illinois, yet still part of the south; settled by mountain people, on the border of free and slave states, the kind of border where people will never forget the civil war, no matter how hard you might try. at the john a logan museum they'll tell you that john a himself should have been a reb, but sold out to the highest bidder, which happened to be the north, but sold out his buddies in the process, and though he got fame, and riches, and is even credited with starting memorial day, not to mention the local junior college, he was actually nothing better than a traitor to the local confederates, and when they put up a bronze plaque pointing out his birthplace, people always steal it and melt it down for scrap. so i'm telling this guy, out here in these borderlands, people don't forget the civil war; it lives on, you live and breathe it, along with the fog in the valley and the sunset over the koi pond, the rolling hills and the winding road back to civilization. when the war comes to your home, when it's fought in the hills around your house, and people escape one side by crossing one of the rivers, and walking up and down the hills in the area, maybe you tend to remember this stuff through the generations, better than if you'd just sent a few local boys off to some other land, to kill someone and then come home and put a life back together.
the father of the groom stayed in france and couldn't make it to the wedding; he didn't take to flying very well. the last time he'd flown, it was a colonial war, many years back, and something bad had happened, over the mediterranean, or somewhere, and now he wasn't so good at just up and flying wherever he wanted. out of his comfort zone, he'd fall apart and you wouldn't want him to be there, i guess.
do they fight colonial wars still? i'm not sure how i'd feel if i were the lord's resistance army, of course those guys are well-known to be brutal and ruthless, kidnappers and thieves, and there's a bit of disorder, slipping down around the continent out there, pirates on both sides, militants so bold they provoke a regional war. one side of me says, let it go, pick vegetables, carry on with the green-onion, october-pepper omelettes. another says, demonstrate, get in their faces, until the people, finally, get some kind of rein on where this handbasket is heading. it's a big country, and there was a little too much money out there for a while, our there where folks could steal it and in fact got in the habit of stealing it, living off stealing it, stealing it and calling it "junk bonds" or "liquid assets" and now, hey, one thing i can say about this country, and this is good though it doesn't start out that way: we may be naive, we may be a little ignorant (another student said: don't ask us where djibouti is)...but, we get out there in the streets. we take hold of these problems and try to do something about them....and sometimes, it's possible to turn things around, with a bit of cooperative spirit and true recognition of the problem. in greece the average person, the middle-class stakeholder, is pretty much used to not paying taxes, but here, it's really only the rich who are used to it, and they're only going to be that way for a little while, because they aren't the majority; any day now, they'll see the writing on the walls. and just like gaddafi, and ben ali, they will be urging the bankers in switzerland to cover them up. good luck...the world is getting smaller, and it's getting that way fast
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
tonight there was this amish family in the kids section though, and they had five kids, a couple of them too old to romp in the play structure, but the littler ones, in their bonnets and homemade dresses, having as much fun as anyone and mixing right in with my kids, black kids and a couple of local redneck kids. we parents are all kind of divided into these categories; i actually found myself almost staring at the amish, they were so different, yet actually i could have walked up to any group and started talking, i'm sure, if i weren't so tired. they were actually speaking another language, though i suppose you could say that about several of the groups. they also, however, were without the general hostility you sense in other folks, especially there in the inner hallway. they'd just moved here, i figure. i should have welcomed them to the area. half the time, though, i feel a lot like an alien myself, with my kids of different colors. the older one picked up on it right away, and wanted to leave; he didn't even see the amish. the younger one made friends with a couple of black kids and was off and running, he could have stayed all evening. outside, the moon seemed to be getting larger. it was warm, and clouds were coming by. when the amish left, i looked for a horse and buggy, but didn't see it; maybe they went out the other way, over by the rural king.
someone asked about the strike the other day at quaker meeting and we all jumped about a foot. of course it's on our minds, we're about to go out, everyone could be divided up and split, friends & enemies. a strike is like a war, except that usually you live to see how stupid it was, unless you're from coal and steel country like me, then your collective memory might tell you otherwise. in this case, we'll probably live. it was good, on balance, to get out of town. now, i wait for my cell phone to charge (sometimes, i plug it in, and it's so overloaded, it can't even get started - this seems to have been true, for most of this evening...). so, my dear reader, you get a chance again to hear my rambling. it's approaching peak of the season here - clear air, colored leaves, a gentle breeze, cool in the evening, a good time for fall break. but alas though the university has a fall break (today and tomorrow) and local schools are off (today), i'm not off, and my wife is sick, so i'm running around, covering bases, making finals, preparing etc. yet taking the boys to the park, or wherever, and out to mcdonalds and to get milk again and medicine & whatever. so i sit here, late at night, and the cell phone still isn't charged.
my sister appeared on a european youtube newscast about the occupy wallstreet business, and she said, basically, that these kids are at least asking all the right questions. of course, we've been asking these questions for years, but at least they're standing there, right in the middle of the street, disrupting traffic and asking questions. and getting arrested, i presume. my sister looks a bit european, i think, that's why they approached her; they figured they could understand her accent, and they're right. i tried to show that youtube to my students, but alas, my class was double booked, and we were shunted off to a side hallway where classrooms have old dinosaur overhead projectors but no internet. maybe tomorrow. so much on the news, so little time. earlier i had shown this gruesome video of climbers dying on k2, second highest mountain in the world, and my partner wouldn't show it, basically, in respect to the people we see dying. how can you do a listening exercise, as you sit and watch people dying, she asks. good question. my students blew the exercise too. maybe it was that, or maybe it was just that they can't listen too well, or read the questions. i'm not sure.
but in any case, finals are tomorrow, and i ground them out, i've got three hours in a row, and i'll be all coffeed up, and just sit there and watch them suffer for a spell. and take a little fall break myself, after it's over, which should be about thursday.
which brings me to my last point. sixteen years in this town and every year i'd noticed, the city schools gave columbus day off, but the university wouldn't, thus its name which i called annual childcare nightmare spectacular. of course they'd call it indigenous people's day, or teacher inservice day, or parents fend for yourselves day, so i came to call it indigenous childcare nightmare fend-for-yourself spectacular, or whatever. but there is, i hand you this, beautiful weather, you can count on it, the rains aren't due to start for another couple of weeks. now i see they're calling it "explorers day" as if to water down the columbus part, are they ashamed of him, but not collectively ashamed of what we did to the "indigenous peoples"...i'm not sure, but with every permutation i get some new combos to try out. indigenous childcare explorer day, exploration of makeshift childcare alternative stop-gap measures, or should i call it, stay up way late, if you hope to get anything done at all, and hope to pick up some of that lost sleep a little later, maybe in a faculty meeting, or at a strike informational session, or better yet, a retirement information gathering and those keep flying by, like i'm some kind of whatever, chopped liver, nowhere near ready.
so this evening, as we go from 10/10/11 to 10/11/11, this means, a certain kid turns ten around here; he already had his party, three friends sleeping over, sprawled out, taking up space, staying up as late as they possibly could, playing tricks on each other, wanting to go outside and scream at the moon but i wouldn't let them, the police chief goes to bed early, we have to put a lid on that kind of fun, i guess. i kind of wouldn't mind seeing a bit more of that fun, kids tearing around in the dark, tripping over stuff, screaming their lungs out like they did at that campout, but, it's a new day and you don't want to attract too much attention, they'll accuse you of "occupy lark lane" or some such and drag out the ordinances against too many 4-square balls in the driveway. or, balls that roll down into the street obstructing traffic. it is, after all, fall, and sooner or later all will freeze thus leaving bendable skin of stale old 4-square balls almost totally untreatable even temporarily, or run over like an old raccoon which you also see, it being so dry at the moment. the leaves change dramatically, showing their colors, oh what the heck, i'll give you some occupy pop art, what i figure is, just look at the color, stop worrying about what it means, which is, lots of young people out of work. trouble, for days, if not months, years. in every city. and lots of world press coverage, just ask my sister, and i believe she's right, at least they're asking the right questions.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
went on a campout with four boys and a number of quakers who occupied a woods campsite, millions of stars, leaves beginning to bust out in blazing color, for a saturday evening and sunday morning. these things are like a religious holiday to me, well water, breaking firewood, sitting by a fire, coming home with campsmoke on the clothes, but an enormous amount of work, airing out tents, cooking and washing by hand, rolling up sleeping bags etc. came home behind on my homework & exhausted. the boys had a great time though. a friends' boys came and tore up the place, grabbing guitars and trying to knock over the tent, etc. but all in the spirit of fresh-air good-time fun; they were totally inspired. they were doing occupy giant city campground...
showed a movie of wall street to my class of international students. they are from "arab spring" countries where the main sticking point is a brutal dictator that kills people and does what he wants regardless of how they feel. well, actually, most are from saudi which has a gentle and in-touch king who might allow women to drive but nevertheless watches nervously as regimes topple in nearby countries...they are surprised that, even in the u.s., with its freedom of speech, there could be such unrest. the ticker at the bottom of the newscast shows all financial indices...dow jones, ftse, hang seng, nasdaq, plummeting. people are in the street marching and getting arrested, accusing the nypd of various crimes and injustices. i feel, suddenly, nonpolitical. i have argued that wall street is stealing money out of the system, for years. yet i never imagined they'd be called on it.
it's changing times, turbulent times, and my attention to the news has revealed a huge ozone hole over the arctic, worst ever, which will cause the whole thing to melt and head down our way. this, maybe, i could strike over, or at least get out of my chair. that, and the fact that they might close the pool, where i swim, presumably for budgetary reasons. the men's room is down to one shower and that one leaks badly; they've cancelled the morning swim which leaves double the swimmers, roughly. time to protest. the administration tells chairs and deans to prepare for a strike...how? by making "class is cancelled" signs? or hiring scabs? from where? for how long? not that it's my business. i try to keep my head down. in fact, i'm happy to have a job, even for a little while.
i started africaweb, which is an online resource, which takes about ten or fifteen minutes a day and alas that would ordinarily be blogging time. but it's fun, it's like traveling, specifically to various african countries, at least with my attention, and, i'm feeling rather worldly though i'm also aware that i'm ignoring vast swaths of the place, whole countries that surely have news just as much as, say libya and its transfer of power. shell buys out the nigerian military; pirates get busy off the coast of benin. it's an interesting place, but my little site may have to adapt and survive; or, i may have to, being left out of a job, or without insurance. life is fleeting, temporary, like that leaf dangling off of its branch, half green, half brown, deciding whether how or when to drift. and when it does, it falls o so gently, and maybe catches a tiny fall breeze.
the tents get a little stale, wrapped up as they are, unused, for most of a stifling summer. they air out fast though in the clear blue crisp fall air. many of those stars, i haven't seen for years, or at least since the last campout, which may even have been in a slightly different season, so, the sky might have been a bit different. nevertheless they are all up there, witnesses. they're there, even if i remain here in town, where i can't see as many of them.
we got a second car, as it was getting inconvenient to have me on a bicycle all the time, with so many kids to schlep around and the weather getting crappy. i was doing well on the bike, enjoying my few minutes out in the clear fall air, but huffing and puffing a lot at the upgrades especially on dixon street where it's the last leg of a very long steady uphill. my tire would get only slightly flatter in the course of a week so that by friday i'd be huffing even more...but, hey, occupy dixon street...occupy the student center...oh well, maybe i should just occupy my bed. i've been burning the candle at both ends, so to speak.