Restless Brain Syndrome
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I just added to that post down there some data I just read today about one of her major accomplishments -- "ACES" -- oil tax policy and the results of that. Here is the data as of today: : “Oil tax returns filed with Alaska has increased 383% since ACES was passed….and annual capital expenditures have nearly doubled since FY2007 … 13% if Conoco Phillips development occurred in Alaska but Alaska contributed 34% of their income. .. oil and gas jobs increased more than 15% between 2007 and 2012." You can read the whole article here.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Monday, December 3, 2012
Friday, November 30, 2012
Thursday, November 8, 2012
The Public is largely unaware that the purchase of the dogs and the equipment does not come from City tax dollars. The money is donated by individuals and organizations through fund-raising events like the event I played at last month. The volunteer members of “Dollars for Dogs” provide and manage this service. In 1975 the Anchorage Police Department had no canine unit. That was the year Officer John Flora was
shot and killed while investigating a burglary. His widow established a memorial fund in his name, with the expressed purpose of raising money to start a canine unit for APD.
Ten years later, Officer H.B. Hanson, a K-9 handler, was fatally wounded while helping another K-9 team apprehend an armed suspect. A memorial fund in his name was also established to benefit APD’s K-9 Unit. Both memorial funds were combined, and Dollars for Dogs, Inc., a volunteer organization, was entrusted with the management of the funds.
Since 1985 Dollars for Dogs, Inc. has worked tirelessly in support of the Anchorage Police Department and citizens of Anchorage. This kind of support, and having high-caliber officers, has helped to make the Anchorage Police Department K-9 Unit known throughout the United States and Canada.
Our goal has been to ensure that each officer has available the finest dog, equipment and training to protect and serve the public. With the donations received from private citizens, businesses, veterans organizations, and service organizations like the Pythian Sisters, Rotary Club, Lion’s Club, and others, our goals have largely been met. The Anchorage Police Department does not have to rely on the usual government bid process to buy their K-9s or equipment, consequently, they are able to afford the best available. My son, Jason, is a K-9 officer and member of the SWAT team.
Monday, October 8, 2012
Most of my fire service friends in Alaska remember Captain Stan Shafer who was in charge of my EMS division for about 10 years before he died in the mid '80's. Well, last Saturday I was playing the fundraising gig when a blond girl walked up and started chatting. I didn't recognized her until she introduced herself. It was Stan Shafer's daughter, Melany, who left Cordova about 25 years ago. She is a teacher now.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
Alaska has had a good-neighbor relationship with the Russians for many years, going back to before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Our State officials were having congenial conversations with their folks, as well as between our Eskimos and their Eskimos, much to the confusion of the national, hard-line politicians on both sides.
In July 1988 seven Eskimo walrus hunters were trapped on a drifting ice floe for three weeks and not only did the Soviets perform their own search, they allowed our National Guard and Coast Guard to search Soviet waters, along their coast line. Between their forces and ours, they covered over 93,000 square mile repeatedly before the hunters were located.
In October that year, when 3 whales were trapped behind a large ice floe, the Soviets sent an ice breaker to assist the local Eskimos who were using chain saws to open a series of breathing holes for the whales heading toward open water.
In December 1988, a devastation earthquake struck Soviet Armenia killing tens of thousands of residents. At 7:00 a.m. I called the Governor's office and suggeste he send an Alaskan Search and Rescue K-9 team to help earch the rubble. Governor Cowper called me back at noon and said the U.S. State Department nixed the idea, assuming there were enough searchers over there already. So, the governor explained, he contacted Soviet Foreign Minister Edward Shevardnadza who wanted the K-9 team. So, Soviet Ambassador Yuri Dubinin made the request official and it was done. (page 320, of my book, Fire and Ice).
The spring of 1989, during the grueling clean-up operation following the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, the Soviet Russians sent their super-skimmer, Vaydaghubsky. In mid-summer, the 425 foot vessel cruised into Orca Inlet to say “hello” to us residents of Cordova. 41 crew members were shuttled in to town by local fishermen for a day-long visit. (page 202, of my book Fire and Ice).
The next year, before the collapse of the Soviet Union, a couple of ships on their way to Washington state pulled in for fresh water and supplies, bringing a theater troupe. They went to the high school gym and put on a couple of plays. We hosted, and fed them well. I and the other members of the fire department bought cases of champagne and met them at the dock (see right-side photo 0f one of our fire engines crammed with drink and ice. The photo was on the cover page of the last edition of the "Soviet Times" magazine.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I missed the "Guns v Hoses" hocky game and the Sunday jam session in Spendard. Well, at least I wasn't sloshing around out in the Bering Sea.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Anchorage, during the dedication of the statue for fallen firefighters held on Sept. 11, 2010, an ex-Chicago firefighter saw the CFD patch on my 11-month-old grandson and took the picture to send back to his buddies in Chicago. Of course, my older son Jason (Anchorage P.D.) is holding him. Ain't life good?
Saturday, August 21, 2010
I put the 5-minute video on youtube.
Here's another one: This made national TV news and became part of a TV documentary. An avalanche ripped through a Cordova (Alaska) neighborhood taking out several buildings (homes). One was the home of one of our firefighters, Jerry LeMaster. It killed his wife and buried him 30 feet down in the snow and rubble. After 6 hours we got to him. TV news was there and recorded it. This is also one of the stories in my book Fire and Ice. Here is the3-minute news story.
In case anyone is interested in what it's like fighting a fire inside a 100-year-old hotel, check out my crew in this 4-minute video. It's not very clear, however.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
And if you folks are heading for the Alaska Firefighters and Fire Chiefs conference this year, I'll see you all there (the week of September 21st). Stay safe and keep your wits about you out there. Remember, two California firefighters were just killed.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Leonid (Leo) Grinberg is a Russian-American, gritty blues singer that I was honored to accompany on "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know". He was kind enough to allow me to include it on the CD I'm currently recording and hopefully will be released by late summer. I will be playing that number with him in a concert at the Anchorage Performing Arts Center September 12th. But, a couple of weeks ago, we performed that piece at a fundraiser for the Alaska Theater for Youth. Joining us on electric violin was Lena Lukina, a young Russian classical violinist who tore into the blues number with real soul. I know, they look pretty American to me, too.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I wrote the following piece in July and it's been read by thousands of people, many of whom wrote and called me to express their gratitude. I wanted to write a complimentary piece without taking cheap shots at any other individual. Anyway, it was suggested that I post it here as well. Here goes:
"The last 45 of my 66 years I've spent in a commercial fishing town in Alaska. I understand Alaska politics but never understood national politics well until this last year. Here's the breaking point: Neither side of the Palin controversy gets it.It's not about persona, style, rhetoric, it's about doing things. Even Palin supporters never mention the things that I'm about to mention here.
"1- Democrats forget when Palin was the Darling of the Democrats, because as soon as Palin took the Governor's office away from a fellow Republican and tough SOB, Frank Murkowski, she tore into the Republican's "Corrupt Bastards Club" (CBC) and sent them packing. Many of them are now residing in State housing and wearing orange jump suits. The Democrats reacted by skipping around the yard, throwing confetti and
singing "la la la la" (well, you know how they are). Name another governor in this country that has ever done anything similar. But while you're thinking, I'll continue. Notes added below since the original publishing of this post.
"2- Now with the CBC gone, there were fewer Alaskan politicians to protect the huge, giant oil companies here. So, she constructed and enacted a new system of splitting the oil profits called "ACES". Exxon (the biggest corporation in the world) protested and Sarah told them "don't let the door hit you in the stern on your way out." They stayed, and Alaska residents went from being merely wealthy to being filthy rich. Of course the other huge international oil companies meekly fell in line. Again, give me the name of any other governor in the country that has
done anything similar. Here, too.
"3- The other thing she did when she walked into the governor's office is she got the list of State requests for federal funding for projects, known as "pork". She went through the list, took 85% of them and placed them in the "when-hell-freezes-over" stack. She let locals know that if we need something built, we'll pay for it ourselves. Maybe she figured she could use the money she got from selling the previous governor's jet because it was extravagant. Maybe she could use the money she saved by dismissing the governor's cook (remarking that she could cook for her
own family), giving back the State vehicle issued to her, maintaining that she already had a car, and dismissing her State provided security force (never
mentioning-I imagine-that she's packing heat herself). I'm still waiting to hear the names of those other governors. Ditto on the data
"4- Now, even with her much-ridiculed "gosh and golly" mannerism, she also managed to put together a totally new approach to getting a natural gas pipeline built which will be the biggest private construction project in the history of North America. No one else could do it although they tried. If that doesn't impress you, then you're trying too hard to be unimpressed while watching her do things like this while
baking up a batch of brownies with her other hand.
"5- For 30 years, Exxon held a lease to do exploratory drilling at a place called Point Thompson. They made excuses the entire time why they couldn't start drilling. In truth they were holding it like an investment. No governor for 30 years could make them get started. This summer, she told them she was revoking their lease and kicking them out. They protested and threatened court action. She shrugged and reminded them that she knew the way to the court house. Alaska won again. Yep, new Pt Thompson info since this posting appeared.
"6- President Obama wants the nation to be on 25% renewable resources for electricity by 2025. Sarah went to the legislature and submitted her plan for Alaska to be at 50% renewables by 2025. We are already at 25%. I can give you more specifics about things done, as opposed to style and persona . Everybody wants to be cool, sound cool, look cool. But that's just a cover-up. I'm still waiting to hear from liberals the names of other governors who can match what mine has done in two and a half years. I won't be holding my breath.
"By the way, she was content to to return to AK after the national election and go to work, but the haters wouldn't let her. Now these adolescent screechers are obviously not scuba divers. And no one ever told them what happens when you continually jab and pester a barracuda. Without warning, it will spin around and tear your face off. Shoulda known better."
#1- Oops, I shouldn't have used the "CBC" (Corrupt Bastards Club) depiction, which was a different unrelated event, but instead used "GOB" (Good Ol' Boys). Sarah's narrative is accurate, mine is funny.
#2- Another reason we got "filthy rich" was because her approach to State budgeting was exemplary. Check it out:
FY 2009 Operating Budget: $11,200,000,000 ($11.2B)
FY 2010 Operating Budget: $9,700,000,000 )$9.7B)
Net Cut in Operating Budget: $1,500,000,000
Total Percentage Cut in Operating Budget: 13.4%
FY 2009 Capital Budget: $2,632,000,000 (after she vetoed $268 million)
FY 2010 Capital Budget: $1,800.000,000
Net Cut in the Capital Budget: $832,000,000
Total Percentage Cut in Capital Budget: 31.7%
Overall FY 2009 Budget $13,832,000,000
Overall Proposed FY 2010 Budget: $11,5000,000,000
Net Reduction in Overall Budget: $2,332,000,000
Total Percentage Cut in Overall Budget: 16.8%
All that might explain why, before she left, she deposited $5 billion in the bank for a rainy day and also why--during the 2009 recession--only Alaska and one other state grew private-sector jobs in this country.#3- Also added after original posting "pork"
FFY07- Murkowski's federal requests total: 63 projects @ $349,497,000
FFY10- Governor Palin's federal requests total: 8 projects @ $69,100,000
It's 80% not 85% ... oops
#4- With the pipeline bidding process, we (the public) watched the entire thing on TV -- including the opening and reading of the bids.
#5- Re POINT THOMPSON added after original posting (from Tommy Report Petroleum News 8/09) "...Cashman also notes that it's unlikely that Exxon/Mobil would have started drilling in Point Thomson had Governor Palin not taken a tough stand with producers... Even under ACES, Exxon/Mobil and its partners should be able to recoup more than 45% of their $1.3 billion cost of developing their phase 1 Point Thomson project , it is doubtful the Point Thomson partners would have made the decision to move forward with the high pressure gas cycling project under ACES if they weren't in danger of losing their leases tot he State of Alaska."
(Feb '10) Well, they started drilling (the first drilling there since 1983. February 9th They hit a pocket containing 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That's a shit-load of gas ... now equaling 25% of all the gas in the North Slope. Palin sure has a knack for making the right decisions, huh?
I forgot to mention in this original posting the a couple of years ago, Palin also posted the State's checkbook and ledger on line, displaying any check over a thousand bucks, who and what it was for.
Because of ACES, in her first 12 months in office, State revenues doubled!
Added 3/22/13 from A Whitney Pitcher article, since passage of ACES to today the following has occurred: “Oil tax returns filed with Alaska has increased 383% since ACES was passed….and annual capital expenditures have nearly doubled since FY2007 … 13% if Conoco Phillips development occurred in Alaska but Alaska contributed 34% if their income. .. oil and gas jobs increased more than 15% between 2007 and 2012." http://conservatives4palin.com/2013/03/whitney-pitcher-will-aces-be-discarded.html
Almost as an aside, Palin had an unprecedented nearly 90% approval rating in Alaska. Then, literally overnight (somewhere around August 30th, 2008) we were informed that she had been totally inept the entire time. Wow, how'd that get by us?
MORE STATEMENTS RELATING TO SARAH PALIN ADDED LATER (12/20/09)
Since my Palin statement went viral and in addition was printed in her book Going Rogue, my blog site(s) received more attention than when it was used just to keep friends informed of my activities. Even my 30-minute appearance on a radio show originating in Missouri prompted questions about Alaska. So, even though I don’t intend to write political statements there are some things that I will address here (resulting from my preparation for the radio talk-show) that do relate to Sarah Palin:
To bring it into perspective for residents of Missouri, I explained that ANWR is about 33,000 square miles, or half the size of Missouri. The plot being eyed for drilling (about 3 square miles) is similar to the size of the Springfield, Missouri airport. I was asked how the caribou might react to drilling activity. I quoted from Palin’s book that the population of caribou near the transalaska pipeline increase from 5,000 in the 1970’s to 32,000 by 2002. I surmised that after eyeing the drilling rig from a distance and noting that whatever it is, it doesn’t eat caribou, the animal as likely as not would go sit on the edge of the platform and pick it’s teeth. These animals go where the food is. They’re not stupid. To stop moose from tearing up the crab apple tree in my front yard, I have to leap – screaming – off my porch, banging on a cooking pot with a spoon. The moose stays there, but the neighbors threaten to move. In Cordova, after the airport runway was lengthened which accommodated boeing 727’s and 707’s, the local moose refused to be intimidated by roaring jets, snow plows, and sanders. They continued to cross where they always had until one of them was struck by a landing 727. The moose was vaporized, the planes front landing gear collapsed and it slid to a stop on it’s nose. So they put up a fence. I was driving by one day and saw two angry bull moose charging into the fence trying, unsuccessfully, to tear down the obstruction to their tradition paths. They just are not frightened by things that they don’t perceive as a threat. Period.
Sarah got it wrong in her description of a “Death Panel” as a committee of bureaucrats indifferently resisting the pleas of those least among us. Here is how it would really work: You have a serious ailment and need a special treatment, but a lot of other people do too. Your doctor helps you fill out a computerized application for treatment. Each “dimension” in there (your age, gender, prognosis, income (maybe later)… your political affiliation…(probably much later… etc) would be given a numerical “weight”. Your application is submitted online. The computer program evaluates (scores) your application and places you on the list. Sometime later, your doctor calls you in his office to read the print-out he just received. You see you have been placed #8 in category “S”. With shaking hands, you flip the paper over and look for category “S” and find that “S” stands for “Sayonara “. You see, a real “panel” is way too personal and they don’t want to have to explain their decision to someone standing in dread and panic. The REAL panel is the group that designed the computer program with its dimension “weights”. That way, the people you contact to protest your ranking can feign torturous sympathy while they assert that there’s nothing they can do …they defer to “the system”. There’s no way you can grab a system by the throat to make it listen. You’ve dealt with organizations who rely solely on computers to answer you; you know I’m right about this.
BRIDGE TO NOWHERE
The mainstream media tries to pretend they don’t know what the “Bridge to Nowhere” really is about. Commentators said in mocked surprise that Alaska wanted to spend a ton of money building a bridge to an island where only 50 people lived. I asked on the Missouri radio, “how many people actually live at your airport?” Then I said, “Suppose you couldn’t drive out of your town because all the roads were destroyed. Suppose you could only fly in and out, like residents of Ketchikan. But then, a huge mote was dug around your airport and filled up with water, I imaging you’d like a bridge there”. But what happed is that after Sarah took office and started looking at bridge designs, especially bridges that would span heavily navigated waters, the cost estimates continued to climb. Finally, she said it was just too expensive and another way would have to be developed to transport passengers into and out of Ketchikan. Bridge to "nowhere” my ass.
What happens when a pack of animals eats itself out of house and home (decimates the population of its normal prey) lay down and slowly starve in the snow, or go off to when they might find more food? And that location may very well be that clump of trees right behind your house, where they crouch and wait… like in my town. December 20, 2007, three Eagle River women took their dogs out for an evening walk. They were attacked by a pack of wolves. One dog was killed and one was hospitalized. April 27, 2009, Two joggers here with 3 dogs were followed, then attacked by wolves. One of the dogs was killed. September 10, 2009, a hunter in the interior was attacked by a wolf. He had to be hospitalized. In 2002 a 6 year-old was attacked in Icy Bay, and last winter, here in Eagle River a teenager on a bicycle was accosted by a wolf and saved himself by jumping off of his bike and taking refuge in a nearby car. The wolf “mauled” the bike’s tires and seat. Yep, that’s what happens after they kill all their normal prey, they eat Fido (maybe Fido’s owner). Added later: May 2010, a 30-year-old blond, pony-tailed special ed teacher from Philadelphia accepted a teaching position in Chignik Alaska. She enjoyed the outdoors and jogged regularly. She was jogging one morning and apparantly was listening to her ipod and never heard the wolf pack bearing down on her from behind. She was mauled to death and partially eaten. One cannot be flippant when telling this tragic story.SARAH PALIN IS A QUITTER
True story. Everybody uses the phrase “Do the Math”. Okay. You have a job that pays $175,000 every 12 months. But it costs you – personally – half a million dollars every 8 months to keep that job. Do the math. Besides, she couldn't get any work done except deal with the law suits by the screechers.
Let’s be apolitical and view things like a person who has been acutely aware of employer/employee relationships most of his adult life… like me. I have personally liked all of our governors (my employees), but was very pleased to see Sarah, as soon as I hired her to run my “organization”, she: 1- Cut my expenditures for the first time. Not the rate of growth, but and actual cut. I can’t remember that happening before. 2- Increase my profit share with the contractors… my split of the profits from my product. 3- Expanded my product line (natural gas). 4- Reminded our contractors who the boss was (Thompson Point). Yep, my new senior employee did all that a little more that half-way through my contract with her. Is that an employer’s endorsement for re-hire? You betcha.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Assulting an officer can result in "hard time" in a federal pen. If that wasn't bad enough, we figured that since it was war-time (Viet Nam), they could shoot us. But, what-the-hell, there was no where we could run off to, in the middle of Alaska, so we just went back to the ship to await certain incarceration.
They next morning, he was no where around until about noon. Then he walked back aboard ship with his arm in a sling. He'd just returned from the hospital where they tended to his broken collar bone (thanks to Westover's boots). He never said a word to anyone about the event.
I noticed yesterday, the sixty-something Westover now wears crepe-soled footwear. Ahhhh, maturity.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
UPDATE: Ron Cole died January 2010. He was a good man. One time he flew to Anchorage on his own time and own expense and retrieved an old senile man who was in danger and brought him back to Cordova. He did that at my request. In turn, I would scuba dive to recover murder weapons for him or submerged bodies at no charge. Those were the days when people did things like that.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Also, at the party was another guy with a recording studio who said he will try to work up the percussions I want for some of my tunes. Musician's union president Joe D'Entrone was there and it turns out he has a taste for the same kind of poetry I do. He didn't remember me or that I gigged with him once downtown at a store opening a couple of years ago.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Last Sunday, I went to the Wilda Marston Theater for Tom Lambert’s Christmas concert. Tom Lambert was at the grand piano, Liz Santoro on bass, Bill Barry on sax, I don’t know who the drummer was, blind guitarist Tony James was the guest musician, and vocalists were Bridget Sullivan and Elena Gonzales.
Tony James played a solo piece that just choked me up upon hearing some of the substitute chords he created. His wife said she sometimes does that too. I also asked him if he knew any bass players that can play a slapping electric bass for a new arrangement of a piece I’m going to record (Joe Levey’s “Cool Daddy Joe”). He knew one from years ago but couldn’t remember his name. Later, when I asked Tom, he gave me the name of Carl Wilhelmi.
Bridgett Sullivan’s vocals were crisp, and ringing as Sunday bells. Elena Gonzales’ tone, was deeper and smokey. She maintains surprising control singing at the lower end of her vocal range. When she sang one song in Spanish, she reminded me of Sade. I was chatting with her afterwards but never told her that since seeing her last August, I’d been planning to ask her to sing “Dreamsville” on my CD.
By the way, Tom is probably in Cuba right now. He told me he’d always wanted to go there and he’s been studying their rhythms for several weeks.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Last night at the State Fair’s “Sluice Box” the Matt Hammer Band scored a knock-out. We played for 2 hours and rocked the house. On stage was Matt Hammer, Lona, John Nyman (drums), Frank Iarossi (bass), Stu Schulman (pedal steel), Doc Schultz, Ed Christiansen (lead gtr). Not there from the recording sessions of Surreal Sessions were Kurt Rieman (organ), Mike Merrill (tenor sax), Kyle Stersic (alto sax),and Paul Schlomer (harmonica). I noticed Matt’s daughter snapping some photos but I don’t know if they will make it onto his website or not.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Contact me at email@example.com
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Reading Simon Winchester’s A Crack In The Edge Of The World (Harper Perennial), about the ’06
In my poem Lazarus on a Spur Line I described the contrast between a deserted railroad train car, a rusting inanimate—lifeless—object, upon which, inexplicably, life begins to grow. The greatest mystery of all. But I’d never thought about that on such a cosmic scale as Thomas or
The universe, the cosmos, I wonder which word describes the “out there” with the greatest immensity? Scientists have pondered what lies at the outer edge of the universe? One physicist says it doesn’t end. Can that be? If the universe is nothingness, then I suppose that nothingness doesn’t end, because if it did, it would have to end in something. What something? I mean, is there anything more nothing than space? Is there anything more dead, more silent, more cold, more black, more forlorn, more empty? Well…it’s not empty. There’s planets and stars. But look at the other planets—the ones we’ve been able to see. “Dry pounded surface…dry as an old bone.” Gray as concrete dust floating in the cold, silent, dead-black, black-dead, ghost-gray, dead body gray, mummy-dust they are. Yeah, certainly as far as the eye can see or Hubble can be, and maybe as far as far is, and is is forever. Except…except…what the bloody-hell is that? The one thing in that immenseness that never ends, the one thing that is not a star, yet glows; iridescent, luminescent, bright as first life…a baby’s smile…the blue ball…“…the blue and green and white ball hanging in it’s ink-black sky…one organized entire immense living system…with the self-contained look of a live creature…a gleaming membrane of bright blue sky, this rising earth…the only exuberant thing in this part of the cosmos.” One solitary, tiny ball suspended in eternal and endless nothingness. What are the odds? Join me for a drink, Laz?
When I began writing my 3rd book, I started with some exercises based on my memories. I remarked to myself that people remember, not in epochs, but in snapshots. So I jotted down numerous snapshots. Then in the year it took me to write the book "Fire and Ice" I'd forgotten about my list of snapshots and never inserted them in the book. There's not enough to justify another book, but too dear to me to throw away like table scraps. So, I thought I'd put them here. These are some snapshot taken during my 34 years in firefighting, ambulance runs and search and rescue operations in
into random flashes of scenes in no order nor logic.
Mostly, we remember, not in epochs but in snapshots.
Sometimes I flip through these snapshots after I turn off the light.
I've seen the ER doc absently brush chunks of vomit off her smock at
as the bleary-eyed medics stood like numb statues,
the snow flakes melting on their jackets.
to offer protection against the moaning wind.
I've stood in front of the crowded Saturday night sidewalks
as our medics picked him foul and witless from the pavement.
Sympathetic Joanie; sober and meticulous Vicki; amused Kyle;
backdropped by the jovially bellowing crowd
Joanie always saw the best in everyone,
always had a kind and uplifting comment for the least of us.
And she meant them.
Regarding others, for her the glass was always half full and filling up fast.
Vicki, the captain, would be the last to seek peer approval.
She was straight forward and never bothered seeking homogenized words.
She laughed readily or spit out admonishments whenever needed.
A simple, early-evening house fire.
Gently blowing curtains of gray smoke
wisping through the sidewalk crowd –
silent people with handkerchiefs to their noses.
A rescue operation in the dead of winter
and the fog of exhaled breaths puffing in the moonlight
while everyone else in town slept
The father of a dead child can't absorb the finality of it,
clutches the child's shoe and can't let go
Young people committing suicide….
No – too sterile
Young people killing themselves.
streams of rain water running off helmet brims and
Glistening on the black coats under the stark lights of the fire engines.
Looking up at the streaks of rain cutting through the harsh street lights.
The middle-aged transient man who lived his life alone,
found dead in his bed, looking like an over-inflated rubber doll.
He was swollen and dark, completely naked
except for the white glove on his right hand.
We strangers had to move him.
His final humiliation.
The silent and beaten crew at the fire station, drinking beer,
glances at me because I'm supposed to say something,
but I'm too beaten to think.
Our most veteran member says, "God decides who lives and dies. You don't."
and puts an end to it.
Monday, July 14, 2008
In the late 60’s it became synonymous with the intellectual – mystical in it’s depth…peeing into the soul. Well over-dramatized. But many art forms, accredited with deep introspection created awe in spectators. Authors from Tennessee Williams to Jack Kaorak donned facial expressions and postures of world-weary wisdom. Well, why not? I feel nostalgic thinking back on those days. Hemingway was an icon, the act of writing was revered, peering into the soul of man now days is clinical and cynical. Miles Davis and John Coltrane were Ayatollahs of a music form that kept people spell-bound. Listeners hung on every note. Two or four bar phrasings were composed like lines of poetry. The tone, texture, volume, and attitude of the musician were like reading the lines aloud. The music itself spawned poetry and painting. Album covers like Mancini’s “Peter Gunn”, or a Getz/Bryd album sported paintings.
The works of composers that have survived for four hundred years, the classical works, have been studied and performed all these centuries are listened to with reverence. But listening to one pianist playing a Beethoven piece, is not much different than listening to another pianist playing the same piece. It has occurred to me that it is the mastery of finger dexterity rather than creativity: Mechanical repetition leading to duplication. On the other hand, the Modern Jazz Quartet, played Bach in an entirely unique way. With a classical orchestra they played it through completely. Then the orchestra backed away while the MJQ improvised spontaneously, meticulously running riffs over the chord changes until it was time for the orchestra to join in again to play it as written again. One jazz pianist was caught playing classical pieces one afternoon in the night club he’d been performing at. He said he did it to practice. I have a CD with jazz flutist Hubert Laws playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Not so rare. Now hearing a classical musician play jazz, well, that would be an oddity.
Tony “T” Soprano is the head of the New Jersey mafia family. His enforcer is Paulie Walnuts. Paulie’s been around a while and was the enforcer for the previous family boss, Tony’s dad. So now Paulie is in his sixties but tries to keep in shape by lifting weights. Paulie was the toughest member there even when shooting an old colleague and friend “Big Pussy”.
Well, some of the guys from Tony’s crew sort of adopted an orange cat that they found and the cat hangs around the office which is a back room of the strip club, Bada Bing. But in the office the orange cat sits motionless on the table staring at the wall-mounted photo of recently deceased gang member, Christopher.It gives Paulie the creeps who, at one point, was going to chase it away with a broom. The photo was moved, and the cat stood at the new location and stared at it.
Near the end of the episode, Paulie in near panic reveals to ”T” (while they sat at the sidewalk table in the sun) that when he (Paulie) went to meet a guy in the wee hours at the deserted Bada Bing, he swears he saw—for just a second—the Virgin Mary in there. Paulie had previously been humbled having barely survived prostate cancer. He reveals now his ominous feeling of doom when the cat is around. He’s certain that with his murderous past, his afterlife will be really fucked. Anyway, “T” doesn’t get it, and just blows it off. Paulie suspects the cat knows something that no one else knows. The cat follows him around whenever it isn’t staring at the photo of dead Chris.
You’ve been falling apart lately, Paulie Walnuts.
Being the same age, I understand.
But ‘dis takes the fockin’ cake.
Aw, Paulie…Christopher’s cat visits Chris’s distant dimension,
But straddles the space to yours.
And even if nobody else knows who he is,
But you can’t scat the cat with your broom.
He, in his omnipotence, is not the devil.
You see, the devil is an evil creature;
But this cat’s not that personal.
He is merely death
And did I mention patient?
Well, if that ain’t enough to unmake a made guy,
how about seeing the Virgin Mary in a deserted titty bar?
Hell, I’d fall apart, too.
But I know where you’re coming from:
When you look up and see that
there’s more behind you than in front of you, and
see you cannot dictate how the game will end.
Your prostate heralds your fortress crumbling,
You sense worms breeching the walls.
Your pumping iron makes rusty sounds
in your yellowing years.
I can see more scalp through your pompadour.
Cold fear slowly cinches your throat, you start freezing up.
You were immortal in your strength when you shot Big Pussy, you big pussy.
Now humbled and hugless, creaking under the weight of your foreboding,
distant “T” cannot grasp the depth of your dread.
Your Brando eye-flick of fear asked father “T” to
repair your falling fortress with his godfatherliness.
Then you sighed resigned to his inadequacy
Death approaches on cats paws and snuggles…
snuggles the sidewalk sun, patient in his orange eyes.
Perhaps the cat’s like me; of them all, you were my favorite.
Perhaps it’s small comfort to know, Paulie,
we’re all afraid of cats.
I was thinking, maybe the Virgin came to tell you
That God bestows his love even unto pricks.
Scamper back to ‘da Bing
And don’t forget your rosary.
It may not be too late for you
To get unfucked.
Ben Stein produced a movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" lamenting how teachers who teach creationism face termination in high schools and universities. Then he created a blog where folks could comment on the movie's content. I was told about it and read it. Holy shit. These two side really hate one another. Religious fundamentalists are nuts and Darwinists and smug and condescending (and generally not that well informed). So naturally, I had to put my 2 cents worth in. Either people have grown tired of Steins blog and no longer read it, or those that do don't want to comment on my statements, which follows...........
I don’t want to detract from
As an aside, and in line with what Ben Stein maintains,
Anyway, back to the topic. Not only was Wallace more astute than
Ben Stein is right. There is a real danger that accompanies the arrogance found in the scientific community: When science becomes an authoritarian institution with curious puritanical overtones. Don’t get me wrong…if it weren’t for those people with scientific tendencies, you’d be reading this in some cave somewhere while freezing your ass off. As a species, we abhor the inexplainable. As a species, we cannot resist the compulsion to self-examine. But in doing so, we reduce man to a machine, made of lots of little component parts. The next step of course is to tinker. Tinkering is okay. Tinker away cancer the way small pox was tinkered away. Great. But if you come to believe that Man is nothing more than the sum total of the chemical components that make up his body, then you’re missing the point; a really big point about this “upright heaven-facing speaker.”
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