Monday, October 17, 2011

so the u.s. sent troops to uganda the other day, and i haven't heard a word of it, even in my fairly sophisticated and worldly crowd; people don't discuss these things, or argue, or even ask why. when i mention it to people they are surprised, as if it's not in the papers, or on television, and they have no reason to know it or even keep track. we are fighting the lord's resistance army. nobody has ever hear of that either.

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


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