Friday, December 30, 2005
These lives we lead are so complex, fragile, precious, fleeting, joyful, hurtful... I am comforted by the gentle and loving twenty-three year union that David and I have had.
Please click on the above link and then click on the video (Sigur Ros). Poignant is a good word.
Monday, December 26, 2005
David and I went to see Brokeback Mountain on the 23rd which, I believe, was the first day it showed in an additional four or five theaters (suburban mall type theaters) after it's very limited release in Denver. After it's inaugural showing in Denver at the new Opera House (not really a movie venue)--which David attended--it opened at the Mayan theater. The Mayan is what I call an "artsy-craftsy" venue where mostly independently produced, small budget films show on small screens with horrible acoustics and--being kind--dated audio.
Let's begin with the short story.
Annie Proulx (pronounced proo) took six months to write the short story of the same name, while she admits on her website that she usually takes only three months to write a novel. The short story was published in The New Yorker magazine in 1997.
While I know a wee bit about writing and do devote my days to the craft, I certainly am not as accomplished as Proulx and I do have to admit Brokeback was the first of Ms. Proulx's works I've read. Two things: I found the story clipped and to the point; it's as spare a short story as any I've read which, in most cases, is a good thing; secondly, I found the characters, Ennis and Jack (in the short story) to be a bit, um--dare I say it--stupid or, at least, a little ignorant. These two characters, Ennis and Jack, seemed not to have a clue about the world other than their very small corner of it. Remember, this was 1963. Jack Kennedy was in the White House (and would be assassinated that same year); the Cuban missile crisis had occurred; Sputniks from the Soviet Union had scared the bejesus out of every god-fearing American (bomb shelters were being dug in suburban back yards, for god's sake). And, Ennis and Jack... Well, even cowboys, even in 1963 watched tv and occasionally read newspapers. I guess I wish that Ennis and Jack had not been so insularly portrayed. I mean, wouldn't it have been neat if, on one clear and starry night on Brokeback Mountain, as they pressed their backs against the good earth and stared into the night, Jack would have said:
"Why lookit there," Jack said, as he pointed to a pinpoint of light that moved slowly across the moonless sky. "I bet that is one of them Sputniks." Ennis propped his head up on his palm with an elbow to the ground and followed Jack's outstretched arm.
Ennis chewed a bit on his toothpick before he said, "Uh-huh. Could be."
The sexuality in the short story was, I believe, Proulx's best moment; it was portrayed so matter-of-factly and natural that it took a back seat to the love story which Brokeback Mountain irrefutably tells.
Now, to the movie.
The movie was absolutely--with a few minor exceptions and enhancements--beholdin' to Proulx's story. She says herself that she was literally "...knocked for a loop..." when she saw the movie and how literal the translation was.
I loved the movie. Please see it. Please read the short story.
Now, ya'll straight men with maybe a little too much blubber around your middle and maybe a little self-conscious about that receding hairline and maybe not likin' even the thought of fulfilling the little woman's needs anymore; yes, ya'll straight men might want to stay away from the movie or you might not want to read the short story. See, I've got this theory that there's a whole lot of hetero men out there who, like Jack and Ennis, had some pretty strong feelings about another man or boy in their lives and they may well have, at one time, acted on that impulse to touch and be touched; love and be loved ... by another man. The other part of the theory is, of course, that the man I've described above is scared shitless to relive anything at all to do with that moment, day, week he may have had with another man/boy a thousand years ago when such things could just be forgotten, hidden, tucked away somewhere in the baggage of that man's or boy's mind. Or, indeed, would that moment, day, week more likely be tucked away where the special things are stored; where, at the end of days, those images become more precious than life itself?
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Once again, there is no fucking war on Christmas.
Anyway, here's what Media Matters put together on O'Reilly's latest absurdity. Video included.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Mary wrote a post on her blog, Drunken Lagomorph, about her beloved friend, Harley, who her father had to "put down" recently due to old age. Here is the link.
Christmas, for me, is time for family: remembering, reliving, laughing, crying through everything that has passed before, everything that has meant something to you during the past year or, yes, past decades. This something does include--for those of us who profoundly respect the lives, the souls of our four-legged friends--the death of a friend.
When I think about the dogs I have loved and lost, I'm always drawn to reread a quote that Barry Lopez included in his book, "Of Wolves and Men." The quote is from Henry Beston and it reads, in part: "For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they moved finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."
The two pictures, above, are two of the last pictures I took of Calvin who passed two years ago from the affects of lymphoma. Mary's post about her beloved Harley has inspired this post which is for all of you who love your four-legged babies; who understand the intensity of respect and devotion that our four-legged friends are due.
From my journal:
Calvin was diagnosed with Lymphoma about four days ago. I had thought he was not "himself" for over a month or more. It's so important to act on first impulses with the children. the lymphoma is apparently a quick killer, in that the internet tells me that, on average, death occurs within one to two months of diagnosis. I was so angry yesterday when we got the referral to the oncologist from Dr. Leach and David called and they said they were so swamped that they couldn't see him until Monday. God, this is my Calvin. My little boy who is dying of cancer. Each day the cancer digs deeper into him. we need quick, definitive action. If chemotherapy will prolong a good life for him, then we need to do it quickly. We cannot wait because the oncologists office is "swamped" after the holiday. Jesus!
Well, I'm really not very good at this. In fact, I'm really lousy at this. Just returned from the oncologist. Basically Calvin has about a month to live. Six months of chemotherapy would result in only a total of nine months of reasonably good life for him. The redness in his eyes is called something like "ovulitis" and it's actually inflammation of the eye and also blood in the eye caused by the lymphoma. Because of the ocular involvement, Calvin's prognosis is worse than if he didn't have it--or so the oncologist said. The doctor also said Calvin's other lymph nodes are enlarged and his liver and spleen are also slightly enlarged. The oncologist said that since Calvin is so large, six months of chemo would cost about $5,000 for only nine months of quality life. Doesn't make sense. Oncologist sent us home with prednisone. They said the prednisone will make Calvin very thirsty, hungry, but may help with his eyes not getting any worse. Riding to the oncologist I was afraid to open the windows of the Explorer; afraid the cold air would be harmful to him. But, Lord, on the way back I opened the windows up and let him have the joy of putting his head out into the breeze--flying like the birds...
David seems to be taking this better than me. Maybe not...
God bless my little boy, Calvin. My sweet, little boy...
Much sadness last night. David said his friend Leesa called him and she started crying when he told her of Calvin's prognosis. She called back shortly after that with another friend, Janet, on the line and they all had a great three-way cry. I cried alone. I have no friends with whom I can share such deep, hurtful sadness. I think about the 30-40,000 people who have died in Iran as a result of the terrible earhquake in the city of B... The grief of the families.... The loss of life and homes and futures. Calvin's imminent loss is, for me, no less than the loss a parent must feel for a child. He is our child. I will do the prednisone today and watch him very closely for side effects.
New Year arrives with Calvin doing well on the prednisone. The hemorrhages in his eyes have cleared up and he's developed a voracious appetite. David and I have decided to do walkies today. Don't know how many more walks we will be able to take Calvin on. We have also acknowledged that we must understand Melissa is NOT sick and must treat her accordingly or as "normal" as possible. Melissa has been very clingy lately in the front yard. I'm sure she understands something is up. Jim McIntyre had to put his 13year old Mason (a black lab, I think) to sleep. Very sad. Also, Marla's pig--Twiggy the Piggy--passed last night. She was twelve.
No, I'm simply not very good at this. Calvin has over the last several weeks begun to weaken. He will play and fool around in the front yard for a while and then he'll just sit down and stare off into space. Then he'll lie down. After he rests a bit, he'll get back up and play a little. Sue wants to have him over to play with her two Goldens. We've decided nto to do that. Too much stress on his system. I even wonder if continuing our "walkies" three times a week in the park is really too much for him. But, he loves it so...especially riding in the Explorer with his head out the window in the breeze. As close to flying as he can come...in this life. Woke up about 2:45 this morning. Very agitated about something. Got up and went downstairs and, as I always do first thing, look out the back door to see if the kids are ok. This was the first time Calvin has been out of his house at that hour (the times I've been up). He was lying on a blanket, just looking around. He was not asleep. I went and got my robe and came back downstairs and gave him one of the huge milk bones we bought last weekend and Melissa got just a rawhide stick. Even at 3am he was absolutely voracious. At times he appears to be doing so well. At other times, it is obvious we're losing him. This is not easy. I have not and do not believe I will ever be able to reconcile the inevitable. I am not good at this.
Well, my boy has made it this far. He continues to tire fairly easily, but still loves the ride to the park and the walk through the park. The other day I was petting his tummy and happened to run my hand over his front leg arm pit. His lymphnodes were as hard as rocks. Does that hurt? For Calvin, pain was defined by his triple pelvic osteotomy (twice) when he was not yet a year old. So, swollen lymphnodes may be insignificant. Today, however, was the first day since he has been on the prednisone that he did not inhale his breakfast. He waited until Melissa was done with her breakfast, he finished off what she had left and then he ate only the few goodies in his bowl, leaving 95% of his breakfast uneaten. I'll watch him through the day.
Finally called the oncologist day, as my boy is moving past his 60 day threshold. I wanted to know what we should be looking for from here on out. Julie called back and was very nice and understanding. She asked if his lymphnodes had gone down with the prednisone. I told her they hadn't. She then said that what we're probably going to see is the nodes in his neck beginning to obstruct his breathing and he will be coughing a great deal. Also the neck nodes may obstruct his throat in such a manner that he's no longer able to swallow food. She also said that the enlargement of nodes in his stomach or intestines may cause problems with his bowel movements. She also said that he will become more and more lethargic. God bless our little boy.
Our boy wouldn't eat his cheese (with prednisone) this morning. So, I tried wrapping the prednisone in bread, his other favorite food. He wouldn't eat that either. He wouldn't touch his food. Melissa seems to be terrified of Calvin. I had to give her her breakfast in her house. Also had to take water to her. She is so confused, depressed. Yesterday I babysat my grand nephew, Aidan. His mom wanted to see Calvin so she went to the back porch. I was holding Aidan and just stepped out on the step to the porch and Calvin leapt up and got Aidan's foot in his mouth. Didn't draw blood, but left a little scrape. Jesus! Don't know if I should continue giving him the prednisone. I think maybe we'll have to make a decision Monday. (Today is Friday.) Have contacted a mobile Vet who will do in-home euthanasia. I don't want him passing in the Vet's office. He is such a strong little boy. He has fought this for so long.
On March 14th, 2004, a Sunday at approximately 11:30 a.m., our boy was euthanized. John Grout, our contractor and dear friend, had done work for a vet and John actually arranged for the vet to come out to our house. Our boy was ready. I only regret that he became frightened by the sound of the electric shaver. David and I held him. He passed quickly.
Hmmm... Tammy Wynette singing "How Great Thou Art," came on just as I worte the last sentence.
Good-bye Harley. You'd do well to hook-up with Calvin who loved to fly. I'm sure he'd show you the ropes.
Dubya's administration has been built on the rock of hot buttons: insidious terrorism, gay marriage, abortion, theory of evolution, pansy-assed liberal political correctness and, yes, the "war on Christmas."
There is no "war" on Christmas. This is a hot button perpetrated by Dubya's running scared administration and the media wingnuts who have bought into this latest hot button non-issue to include Bill O'Reilley, Cavuto, Tucker Carlson, etc. And, of course, the usual Christian fundamentalistic suspects -- Dobson, Robertson, etc.-- are just absolutely giddy with this phoney baloney bullshit hot button.
Dubya's base voraciously feeds on hot buttons like surly curs on the sweet suet of real or imagined (nylabone) meaty appendages.
I understand the transit workers' issues. But, then, I myself spent twenty-three years as a "public servant" and not once, ever--even as bad as things occasionally became during my tenure as a public servant--was there an inclination to strike. Being a public servant--in any capacity--does, I believe, carry with it an additional responsibility beyond that which private sector workers contend. A public servant must first, last and always devote their efforts to the best interests of the city or the state or, indeed, the nation under which they serve. That does not include the shutdown of the transit system of the one of the greatest city's on the face of the earth during the holiday season.
Reminder to Dubya: YOU are a public servant!
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
(Note: In 1981, after experiencing more than a decade of what was called "Urban Renewal" in lower downtown Denver that destroyed many of Denver's most significant landmarks, I wrote the following poem, which was published in Denver's "Out Front" magazine in July, 1981. I suspect that no one who is not a native of Denver and pretty close to my age will recognize the references I make. But, in light of my unkind piece on the "revitalization" of downtown Oklahoma City, I thought it only fair to express my thoughts on the sad, sad devastation of many of Denver's crown jewels in the name of "Urban Renewal" back in the '60s and '70s. )
Dear Lady Denver
tell me old girl
does the face lifting still go on?
do those thick-fingered surgeons of
steel and stone
still build up
where your soul was torn down?
hear me out.
I am your native son
(and there are precious few of us).
take some time from your
fancy modern gyrations and
listen to one who remembers.
I am one who remembers
when the Old Prospector
was as untouchable as the clouds
and as curious to a young boy
as a jet plane in a steep climb or
a Colorado Winter's first snowfall.
Now the Old Prospector has come down to earth.
He collects pennies at the Towers and
silently stares as he is touched by tourists
and passed by an endless parade
of fume-spewing autos.
I cannot help but think
his shoulders have stooped a bit.
Do you know Old Girl
that I am one who remembers when
there was no Zeckendorf
where noontime loafers putt
on fake green grass and
there was a time--I know you recall it--
when those long-robed
pony-tailed devotees of Hare Krishna
didn't dance their simple jig
to the tinny sounds of finger cymbals
on 16th Street.
Listen, Dear Lady,
Do you know
there used to be a Windsor
where Hayden Simpson and his friends
in a room where the echoes of your youth
still haunted those
elegant high ceilings and
there was an opera house called Tabor
that was your pride and joy
'til the sleazy cinema
corrupted its foundation and
brought the bulldozers
to rid you of its plight.
there is so much
to remember Old Girl.
there is so much to be sorry for.
All that which used to be
could still be
If only you would have realized
what you were losing.
Excuse me, Dear Lady:
The wine is gone;
The music has stopped;
The fire is out.
I feel that I must be going.
But, Dear Friend,
The next time a high-rise
let's get drunk on the heady wine of our memories,
to the sweet sounds of ragtime.
(NOTE: The picture in the upper left hand corner is the Old Prospector which used to stand atop the Mining Exchange Building, a picture of which is directly below the statue. The Old Prospector now stands outside Brooks Towers. Status of the Mining Exchange Building - gone. The building in the upper right hand corner is the Tabor Grand Opera House. Its status - gone. A picture of the Windsor Hotel is below that of the Tabor Grand Opera House. It's status - gone.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I guess it was inevitable that the Ford Motor Company would cave to pressure from good Christians and stop supporting faggotry by placing ads in gay magazines/tabloids which expose the niceties of Jaguars and Land Rovers. The American Family Association, based in Mississippi (where else!), had apparently threatened Ford with a boycott if they continued to pander to the homa-sex-yall consumers who, most likely, have more disposable income than Bubba with his metallic blue, dual-wheeled 350 that, sadly, he has to hide behind the pile of rusted "classic" cars and old farm machinery in his front yard 'cause he's missed the last three payments on the rig. Here are the details.
I love Ford products. I've got a Lincoln myself and would have a hard time transitioning to GM or Toyota or Honda or, well, one of them 'foreign' outfits. I do find it quite amusing that Ford would find the threats of the Mississippi-based American Family Association more significant than the buying power of gay men and lesbian women who, the last time I checked, surpass mid-stream America's earning power by more than two to one and who, incidentally, are eminently more financially able to buy those Jaguars and Land Rovers.
AlterNet provided a piece on Don Rumsfeld ("....Mad as a Hatter") that was interesting, revealing. You might want to check it out. It reads, in part:
I can't say whether or not he was mad from the start, but I can tell you with some degree of certainty that he is now. And he's getting worse. Each successive news conference he sounds more and more like the character, Dr. Charles Montague, who was head of "The Place for the Very, Very Nervous" in the 1977 Mel Brooks flick, High Anxiety.
Don got so nutty during his weekly news conference last week that Joint Chiefs head, General Pace, had to reel him in; not once, but twice. The first time was when Pace used the accepted term, "insurgents," to describe the indigenous fighters in Iraq.
Rumsfeld interrupted, waving both hands over his head, to announce that over the weekend he had had an epiphany. We've been using the wrong term entirely to describe the Iraqis killing our troops over there, he pronounced from on high. They are not "insurgents," they are "Enemies of the Legally Elected Iraqi Government," or EOLEIGs. (Guess we know now why Donald never made it as a corporate jingle writer.)
Now ask yourself, what kind of person but a nut, would make such a pronouncement at a time when American kids are being blown up by the dozen each week? And to do so with such pompous grandiosity, on TV, and to cynical, hard-boiled reporters! Only a madman, a person so deeply confused in his own mind that he thinks his absurd ruling actually is contributing to a solution.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
In my novel, "A Circle of Magic," I note that: "When I was a child, the Oklahoma license plate expressed to the world that 'Oklahoma is OK.' I don't know if I asked my father the obvious question ('Daddy, why is it OK?'), and I don't remember him explaining it to me, but as I left Copperthwaite's office, I was struck with how gray the city still seemed. What the hell had they--the OK folks of this OK city--been doing for all these years? Where were the trees? Where were the street performers? Where were the street cafes? Were there any OK architects who had managed to imagine anything other than those perpendicular boxes? And where were all those lovely Spandex-wearing bicyclists who roamed most great American cities every hour of the day, every day of the year?"
Our Courtyard by Marriott hotel featured a channel devoted entirely to the exciting specter of a revitalized downtown Oklahoma City. The endless loop of civic propaganda began with a message from Oklahoma City's mayor who began his little happy message with the words, "Oklahoma City is a faith-based community..." Yup, that about summed it up for me and I immediately turned the channel.
The picture you see above is a portion of the water channel that runs through what is called "Brick Town" in lower downtown Oklahoma City. In Denver, this portion of the core city is called Lodo where, decades ago, a redevelopment effort turned what was once a blighted area into an exciting, thriving community of loft dwellers, retail outlets, restaurants, bars, hotels and curio stores.
Sad to say, Oklahoma City's quite recent foray into the revitalization of their lower downtown heritage has--as I experienced--resulted only in a dirty green-watered canal and scads of bars where folks happily tip their brews and watch sports events on stategically located television sets hanging from ceilings.
I guess it's important to report that the OK City is getting ready for the state's centennial celebration that, I believe, will take place in 2007. They've even erected a dome upon their statehouse with an Indian standing atop looking off into a northeasterly direction where, I'm sure, he's awaiting more kindly attention from the politicos in Washington from where all good things--including Indian rights, benefits and an affirmation that reservation gambling joints ain't all that bad--will shortly be forthcoming. Yes, the OK City is gearing up for their centennial.
As much as I'd like to be there, I don't think I'll be able to make it for the celebration.
God bless my Uncle Murlan, who will be 91 this February. He loves Oklahoma and George W. Bush and all things that wreak blindlingly of God and Country and mother and apple pie. That's okay. I don't mind his devotion to the OK City.
But, please lord, deliver me from my Oklahoma ties. No good can come from this. Please, Lord, let Oklahoma do it's thing without me, without me nosing around in the red-dirted swamp of lost opportunities and ill-placed priorities.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
This by Mike Litwinn in this morning's Rocky Mountain News provides a good read with regard to what has come to be called "Bush's Bubble" within which he has sought solace from the reality of the world. The piece reads, in part:
You knew it was a select crowd not only because of the $1,000-a-plate price tag for the Marilyn Musgrave fundraiser - and, for the record, she was not wearing a pink skirt.
No, this was the real giveaway: Many people in the audience - for all I know, all of them - apparently still believe George W. Bush knows what he's doing in Iraq.
I know, it sounds crazy. But I was there to see it myself.
And then there's the nearly 100 percent dissent-free world in which Bush travels. It is Dan Froomkin of WashingtonPost.com who calls this world Bush's bubble - one in which there's almost no possibility of Bush ever hearing a discouraging word.
Bush's post-Thanksgiving-weekend schedule, Froomkin notes, includes speeches at the U.S. Border Patrol office, an Air Force base, the Naval Academy, two Republican fundraisers and one Republican donor reception.
In other words, he's going no place where he might bump into either, say, John Murtha or the Denver Three.
(Picture above from Rocky Mountain News - David Zalubowski@AP)
I've been fighting the mother of all colds since I returned from Oklahoma (Oklahoma's revenge) and haven't felt much like posting. But, I couldn't pass this one up.
You, of course, recognize our great leader who dropped by Denver yesterday to boost the reelection campaign of Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado's 4th District Congresswoman who, in a prior post, I've described as:
Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado’s Fourth District Congresswoman, believes – as quoted in the Denver Post – that “…Some of the things in the culture wars are not easily understood, but people get this one. And they feel very strongly about it.”
What Rep. Musgrave sees as the latest battle in her “…culture wars…” is gay marriage. She explains in the Washington Times that, “Marriage and family are the most important institutions in existence. Unfortunately, they have come under attack. The traditional values Americans hold are being traded for counterfeit marital unions.” She went on to say, “It is important to secure this institution and protect it from distortion.” To this end, Musgrave has cosponsored the Federal Marriage Amendment which would amend the Constitution of the United States with a definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The amendment would further provide that issues with regard to marital benefits would be left to state legislatures and not courts.
Institutions are, of course, fundamental components of a culture. But, then, the American dream, the American promise provides a place for and tolerance of cultural differences. The key to the strength and resiliency of the American republic resides in its ability to embrace, indeed to celebrate the differences amongst us all.
The American experience is, however, littered with the ignoble attempts of the self-righteous to impose upon us all cultural values that belie the essential promise of this nation which is the respect and protection of each person’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
But, then, we all know that. Or, do we?
I believe what concerns me most about Rep. Musgrave’s stance is that multiculturalism in America is apparently not something she celebrates but, rather, something she battles via her culture wars. One need not delve very deeply into Rep. Musgrave’s comments to understand that this small town champion of conservative Christian values has little tolerance for most other facets of multiculturalism – quite aside from gay marriage. She is a product of small town America where open highways over flat plains seem to lead ultimately, inevitably to an insularism not only of the mind but of the soul as well.
The fundraising for this ignoble nitwit took place in a room in the Comfort Inn directly across the street from Denver's Brown Palace Hotel (Yes, Unsinkable Molly's husband built it). Attendees paid $1,000 per plate for lunch and $5,000 if they wanted to have their picture taken with Dubya.
Those attendees were certainly Dubya's base. How many of us could pay a thousand bucks for lunch? I'm reminded of Dubya's words before another fundraiser: "This is an impressive crowd, the haves -- and the have mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base."
(The above picture is from the Rocky Mountain News - Mandel Ngan@Getty Images.)
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Hi. I'm back from my four days in Oklahoma City. I flew in from Denver, my little sister and her two precious babies, Jack and Kate flew in from Rutherford, New Jersey, and my Aunt Blanche (who is 88) flew in from San Francisco because--it had been reported to us--that my Uncle Murlan, who will be 91 in January, was ready to bite the big one; on his last legs and infested with Alzheimer's.
First of all, let me say that in spite of Uncle Murlan's age, physical maladies and the slight stroke that has affected his speech somewhat, he appeared to be in good shape. His color is good, his mind is good (his memory is exceptional) and he--at least, while we were there--showed no signs of dementia.
Curiously, my cousin Bobby told me that he and his brother Mike had, not so long ago, purchased a fifth of bourbon for Murlan to consume at his leisure. Well, uncle Murlan--loving bourbon as he does and did throughout his adulthood--downed the fifth fairly quickly (no mixer) and, as a consequence became the mean drunk that appears to run in the family (except for me--I just get sleepy or horny) and Uncle Murlan--drunk as a skunk at 90 years old--identified his son, Mike, as an enemy of George W. Bush's America and vociferously demanded he leave the premises. Well, cousin Bobby and Mike, got Uncle Murlan in his pjs, put him to bed and listened for almost an hour to Murlan's raving that he was being held against his will and please, please, wouldn't somebody help him escape the confinement. Suffice it to say, cousin Bobby has decided that Uncle Murlan will no longer be allowed the sublime pleasure of another fifth of bourbon.
All in all, the trip was okay. More on this later.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
I'll be leaving tomorrow morning for Oklahoma City and will return on Monday. Sweet Melissa will be in charge while I'm gone.
And, no, one doesn't just go to Oklahoma City for the fun of it. It ain't fun. But, my paternal uncle turned 90 recently and, well, I do think it's better to let them know they're thought of, prayed for, remembered while they're still with us rather than once they're gone.
My little sister, Michelle, and her two precious babies Jack and Kate will fly in from New Jersey and my favorite aunt, Blanche, will be coming in from San Francisco. Blanche is 87 or 88 herself, but maintains the energy level of a forty year old who has never tired of the fascination of this world. Indeed, Blanche is one of the co-founders of the International Federation of Women's Travel Organizations.
Suffice it to say, it will be great to see the family, but Oklahoma... Well, let me just provide a portion of a short story I wrote some time ago that deals with my stint in the U.S. Army.
After Basic Combat Training at Polk, I headed for a short stay at a base out in the hell-hot Northeastern Texas scrub. The base was so close to Oklahoma that it might as well have been in Oklahoma.
It was on this base in Texas that one of my fellow soldiers -- who happened to be a Texan... born and bred-- was so distressed at being that close to Oklahoma that everything that bothered him about the Army was not the Army fault, but the fault of that, "Goddamned, tes-tic-u-lar, red-dirted, pile-of-shit-- I can fuckin smell it man!-- OK state with its hardon hangin over Amarillo." I wasn't really sure what he was talking about until I took a look at a map of the United States. "Yessir," he would continue, "when an evil Texan dies he don't go to hell. No sir, the Good Lord sends that bad boy straight to Oklahoma!"
And, that pretty much sums up my feelings about Oklahoma.
(But, I'm taking a travelling bottle of Wild Turkey 101 with me to ease the pain!)
See you, Monday.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Monday, November 14, 2005
Sunday, November 13, 2005
George W. Bush, September 17, 2002
(Just thought this bit of wisdom from our leader was appropriate here.)
Listen to audio.
I have been thinking a bit about the Intelligent Design (ID) imbroglio after noting that Pope Benedict XVI quoted a fourth century saint, Basil the Great, to support his remarks. What the Pope said was that the universe was created by an "...intelligent project..." The Pope went on to quote St. Basil the Great (via Live Science): ",,,saying some people, 'fooled by the atheism that they carry inside of them, imagine a universe free of direction and order, as if at the mercy of chance.'
"'How many of these people are there today? These people, fooled by atheism, believe and try to demonstrate that it's scientific to think that everything is free of direction and order,'' he said.
"With the sacred Scripture, the Lord awakens the reason that sleeps and tells us: In the beginning, there was the creative word. In the beginning, the creative word -- this word that created everything and created this intelligent project that is the cosmos -- is also love.''
I suspect there are a whole lot of scientists who believe profoundly in Darwin's THEORY of evolution and who are NOT atheists, as the Pope apparently believes. However, I suspect those same scientists (whatever their religious beliefs may be) do not believe Intelligent Design belongs in public school classrooms--even in Topeka.
Intelligent Design is religion. If the Pope quotes a fourth century saint to support his argument then, yes, there's a wee bit of a suggestion that ID harks from that thing we call blind faith which is the fundamental component of religion, all religions. That's fine. Preach ID from the pulpit; holy roll it and speak it in tongues; let Pat Robertson, once again, make himself look foolish (maybe a bit of demetia setting in) when he pontificates on the subject. This is all okay. But, keep it out of the schools. It's religion.
An excellent article in Live Science reports that: In an August interview with National Public Radio, Republican Senator and ID supporter Rick Santorum stated exactly what he believed those implications were for evolution. Asked why he, a politician, felt compelled to weigh in on what was essentially a scientific debate, Santorum replied:
"It has huge consequences for society. It's where we come from. Does man have a purpose? Is there a purpose for our lives? Or are we just simply the result of chance? If we are the result of chance, if we're simply a mistake of nature, then that puts a different moral demand on us. In fact, it doesn't put a moral demand on us."
By adding morality to the equation, Santorum is giving the scientific theory of evolution a religious message, one that does not come on its own, said Kenneth Miller, a biologist at the University of Colorado.Like Santorum, Miller is a devout Roman Catholic, but he believes evolution can only explain how life arose and how it diversified. Why there is life at all is another question entirely, one that Miller believes is outside the realm of science.
Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, expressed a similar sentiment. "The questions of purpose are not part of science," Krauss said. "How you interpret the results of science is up to you, and it's based on your theological and philosophical inclinations."
Another article in Live Science provides an excellent explication of why Intelligent Design (ID) is NOT science. The article takes pains to provide both sides of this issue and focus on two principles which are key to the argument: irreducible complexity and specified complexity. If you have the time and want to understand the meat of this issue, you really ought take a look.
Finally, Live Science provides the following conclusion: After examining ID's two main arguments, the answers to the original questions--what does ID offer? And what can ID explain that evolution can't?--is not much and nothing, leading scientists say.
"The most basic problem [with ID] is that it's utterly boring," said William Provine, a science historian at Cornell University in New York. "Everything that's complicated or interesting about biology has a very simple explanation: ID did it."
Evolution was and still is the only scientific theory for life that can explain how we get complexity from simplicity and diversity from uniformity.
ID offers nothing comparable. It begins with complexity--a Supreme Being--and also ends there. The explanations offered by ID are not really explanations at all, scientists say. They're more like last resorts. And, scientists argue, there is a danger in pretending that ID belongs next to evolution in textbooks.
"It doesn't add anything to science to introduce the idea that God did it," Provine told LiveScience. Intelligent design "would become the death of science if it became a part of science."
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
This morning's Rocky Mountain News includes an excellent piece by columnist Bill Johnson on the shameful and embarrassing behavior of this ignoble politician.
P.S. Flatlanders are those, usually from rural, flat land areas of the country, who, indeed, believe the world is flat; that Dubya is doin' a fine job; and that gay men and lesbians have never worn a uniform and died in defense of their country. Additionally, flatlanders believe in intelligent design, as the good folks in Topeka have made abundantly clear.
"What hope does a young person have who's been born in a quartier without a soul, who lives in an unspeakably ugly high-rise, surrounded by more ugliness, imprisoned by gray walls in a gray wasteland and condemned to a gray life, with all around a society that prefers to look away until it's time to get mad, time to FORBID."
Whatever efforts Mitterrand made to address the "gray" lives of these forgotten people failed.
This is a good read and does quite succinctly describe what's going on in France today.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Village attacked after rumors of cow killings
LUCKNOW -- A Hindu mob attacked a Muslim village in northern India, torching homes and killing three people after hearing rumors that cows, considered holy by Hindus, were slaughtered for Islamic celebrations, police said Sunday.
Hindus from neighboring areas attacked Mehndipur village in the northern Uttar Pradesh state on Saturday night and set fire to dozens of houses after being told villagers had killed the cows for a feast to mark Eid-al-Kitr, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the day before, said S.B. Shirodkar, a local police chief.
He said a police investigation revealed that no cow had been slaughtered in the village.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Okay. Now I understand.
I posted recently on Denver’s passage of an citizen-initiated ballot measure that decriminalizes the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. The measure passed, by 53% of the vote.
Today, perhaps ironically, the Rocky Mountain News reported that the first arrest in the United States on a charge related to marijuana possession occurred in Denver on October 2nd, 1937. The News story reports that: “On Oct. 2, 1937, in the somewhat shady Lexington Apartments at 1200 California St. in Denver, Samuel R. Caldwell became the first person in the United States to be arrested on a marijuana charge. Caldwell, a 58-year-old unemployed laborer moonlighting as a dealer, was nailed by the FBI and Denver police for peddling two marijuana cigarettes to one Moses Baca, 26."
“If you're wondering why it took the U.S. government so long to bust a pot dealer, it's because until the Marijuana Stamp Act was passed - on you guessed it, Oct. 2, 1937 - cannabis wasn't illegal. Certainly, it had been vilified in newspapers with headlines such as ‘Murder Weed Found Up and Down Coast: Deadly Marijuana Plant Ready for Harvest That Means Enslavement of California Children.’”
The News story went on to report that: “Harry J. Anslinger, for example, commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, was a vociferous foe of cannabis. In his book, Assassin of Youth, he labeled marijuana ‘dangerous as a coiled rattlesnake,’ and anguished, ‘How many murders, suicides, robberies, criminal assaults, holdups, burglaries, and deeds of maniacal insanity it causes each year, especially among the young, can be only conjectured.’
“Indeed. Texas cops insisted that because it fueled a "lust for blood" and imbued its imbibers with ‘superhuman strength,’ pot was the catalyst for unspeakably violent crimes.”
The News story reported the sentencing judge’s remarks: "’I consider marijuana the worst of all narcotics, far worse than the use of morphine or cocaine,’ thundered Symes from the bench. ‘Under its influence, men become beasts…’”
So, now I understand.
The first picture, above, shows Samuel R. Caldwell prior to smoking that doobie; the second picture shows him after finishing that doobie.
Oh, the humanity!
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Someone obviously let this dog smoke a joint!
I can count on one hand the times I've smoked a little weed. It really irritates my sinuses which may be more of a Catholic guilt thing instilled in me by my mother rather than a real physical reaction. Mother was the last of the big time prohibitionists, placing marijuana just a wee bit higher on the mortal sin ladder than alcohol. My father was a cop and, though he enjoyed his booze (never within the presence of my mother), his passion in enforcing the law against drug use was rabid.
My parents have passed on (is there weed in heaven?), but I do wonder what their reaction would have been this morning after reading the newspaper and discovering that Denver voters passed an "Initiated question" (that means folks walked the streets and hung out at Safeway getting signatures on a petition) to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana? The Denver Post reported thusly.
I suspect my mother would have wondered what the world is coming to. My father, who had mellowed immensely before he passed, probably would have shrugged his shoulders with the understanding that the only constant in life is change.
Our Mayor, John Hickenlooper, who became a millionaire brewing and selling beer, booze and bar food, devalued the vote as something just "...generational..." and "...symbolic..." Federal and state laws still prohibit the possession of marijuana. Politicos have been quick--their backs stiff with the righteousness of it all--to declare federal and state law will be enforced in spite of the Denver vote.
Gotta wonder, though, how many folks have stumbled out of one of Hickenlooper's bars and have climbed behind the wheel of car and, well... You know where I'm going with this.
Oh, well... Why do I care? The stuff bothers my sinuses.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Sunday, October 23, 2005
I've always been partial to singers whose voice communicates a bit of pathos which, as you'll see, Bright Eyes does. David, my partner, won't listen to any performer with less than what he believes to be a perfect voice. His ideal is Beverly Sills. David was a music major in college and has perfect pitch and, well, suffice it to say, our music preferences are on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Anyway, I've discovered Bright Eyes and the songs I've downloaded from iTunes tell me I'm accumulating a goodly sum of "Alternative" tunes. Didn't know I was into "Alternative," but if that's what Bright Eyes is categorized as, then, yes, I'm into "Alternative."
Here are some lyrics of one of his latest (I think) songs that I thought were at least interesting and, at most, profound:
"We are Nowhere and its Now" (Bright Eyes with Emmylou Harris)
If you hate the taste of wine
why do you drink it till you're blind?
And if you swear that there's no truth and who cares
how come you say it like you're right?
Why are you scared to dream of god
when it's salvation that you want?
You see stars that clear have been dead for years
but the idea just lives on
In our wheels that roll around
as we move over the ground
And all day it seems we've been in between
the past and future town
We are nowhere and it's now
We are nowhere and it's now
I don't know... Maybe a little nihilistic. But, I like it. No apologies. I like it.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
There is a tree in Berkeley Park where the Cormorants perch as they wait for the perfect moment to dive into the lake where, hopefully, sustenance will be provided. The tree is dead and has been dead for some time. This shot, which silhouettes the Cormorant, is one of my favorites.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Back in mid-July I took this picture of the street in downtown Denver that leads directly to the main entrance (right across the street) to the Colorado Convention Center.
I sent the following email to Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper which explains the circumstances under which the picture was taken:
My partner and I took a city hike to downtown Denver this past Sunday with the specific intent to see the big blue bear at the Colorado Convention Center. We arrived there quite early in the morning -- probably no later than seven-forty. There was a convention going on at that time, with significant people walking the sidewalks to the CCC. It was disgraceful to see the drunks and derelicts spread out over the sidewalks over which the conventioneers were walking. Hopefully, you will be able to view the picture I took of this disgrace. What's up with this??
The response to my email came from the Denver Police Commander responsible for this particular area of Denver. She said:
Thank you for sharing the picture with me. I am the police commander for the area you describe. I wanted to share with you that nothing in the picture is illegal. We are trying to get a sitting and lying ordinance written in Denver but currently we have no tool to adequately address this issue. There is a brand new law that was passed only about 1 month ago that if they are completely blocking a sidewalk then we can cite them. In this particular case they would not be in violation of that law.
I understand how frustrated you are and the City is trying to work through this complex issue. I always encourage people if they believe they are seeing something illegal to call the police. Please use the 720.913.2000 number for non life threatening and of course 911 for a life threatening issue. We continue to try and address the issues as they arise.
Commander Deborah Dilley
Denver Police Department
My response to Commander Dilley was as follows:
Thank you for your timely response.
I'm sure you have a better understanding of what can and cannot legally be done about this issue. One would think that the loitering ordinance might, at least, be sufficient and defensible for officers to rouse these folks and ask them to move on before the conventioneers start walking down the sidewalks to the CCC.
It has become a complex issue due to the current (and past) administration's "pie in the sky" notions that the homeless want to be housed; that housing is the first step toward healing all the other demons that infest these unfortunate folks. I don't buy that argument. But, then, that's not your job, nor am I seeking comment.
I really think it is unfortunate that while Denver wishes to put its best face forward, so to speak, when conventioneers visit our wonderful city, that that face ain't so great when they're greeted with what my photo so vividly describes.
Again, thank you for your timely response. I appreciate it.
Then I received the following email from the Executive Director of Denver's commission to End Homelessness:
Thank you for taking time to forward the photo of homeless individuals sleeping on the sidewalk in downtown Denver. Will you please tell me what the exact location was, so I can notify our outreach worker, Mike McManus to ask him to go to that location, identify who the homeless individuals are, and make every attempt to get them connected to services. Our outreach workers generally know who the people are that sleep out on the streets (parks, under bridges, etc) and work with local service providers to get them off the streets, connected to overnight shelter, and other services such as the Stout Street Clinic to address mental illness and/or substance/alcohol abuse. If any of these individuals are homeless veterans, then we can connect them to a program administered by the Department of Human Services that links them to jobs and housing as well as treat the root cause(s) of why they are homeless.
I will wait to hear from you so Mr. McManus can do the appropriate follow up.
Commission to End Homelessness
I began this post in the way that I did because it's instructive to point out, as the Commander noted, the lost souls sleeping on the sidewalk that morning were doing nothing illegal. In fact, the response to my suggestion that Denver's loitering ordinance be utilized to handle this problem was that, unfortunately, Denver's loitering ordinance has been ruled unconstitutional.
So, welcome conventioneers!
The "outreach" efforts described by Ms. Ortega are, of course, commendable. In fact, Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper (the Hick)--not unlike a whole bevy of Democratic mayors around the country--is going to "end homelessness" in ten years at a cost to Denver's taxpayers of about $13 to $15Million. In fact, it appears that the Hick (or Huck--for Huckster) is proposing something over $1.5Million for the 2006 budget to begin this lofty program that, among other things, envisions building, I believe, over 3000 apartments or condos for the homeless.
Now, as well meaning as these folks are, do they really believe that in ten years we're not going to be seeing the same images as the above picture portrays? Are they really that naive? Not that one wouldn't hope to be able to end homelessness, but--and I haven't yet done my homework on this one--I have heard that many, many of these programs around the country have failed, and failed miserably...all on the taxpayer's dollar which, as we know, dwindles more and more each day.
Definition of Mall Rat: Slang
A person, especially a teenager or young adult, who frequently passes time wandering through shopping malls.
My friend Brian provided me with a copy of an email he sent to Mayor John Hickenlooper with regard to the outrageous behavior of Denver's mall rats who hang out around our 16th Street downtown mall and also haunt Lodo, bullying the patrons of bars and restaurants for money or handouts.
For example, my friend Brian took an out-of-town guest, who was attending a conference in Denver, to dinner one night. The young woman didn't finish all of her dinner, so she asked that it be boxed. A mall rat approached her and asked for her leftovers. She said no, and the mall rat proceeded to berate her for being fat and stupid and heartless for not helping out someone who was hungry.
Brian's email to the Mayor brought several emails from, once again, the well-meaning folks connected to the Hick's lofty idealism to end the outrage of homelessness, addiction, hunger and mental illness. Brian even got an email from a non-profit that works with "troubled" teens.
Okay, this post is getting a wee bit long. And, perhaps, I should do a two or three-partner. But, one stat I've heard is that since the inception of Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty," in about 1964, the Feds have spent in excess of $11Trillion in an attempt to, yes, end homelessness, addiction, hunger, poverty and give those on the bottom rung of society a step up, a helping hand, a pull on the bootstraps...all on the back of our tax dollars. Has it worked? Has any progress been made? I look to the 9th ward in New Orleans as exposed by the ravages of Katrina and ask that question again. Has it worked?
I don't know what the answer is, folks, but the Hick/Huck is, I believe, barking up the wrong tree. Throw money at it, he's concluded. I'm wondering if we--as a city and a nation--haven't been there, done that.
Isn't it time for maybe some new ideas. Isn't it time for maybe some new approaches that just might work to, at least, assure the image I captured this July (above) isn't still there ten years from now?
Monday, October 10, 2005
Ground Zero for Denver's Columbus Day Parade--the earliest established (historically oldest) Columbus Day parade in the country--was 15th and Wazee Streets in lower downtown Denver, right outside the main gate to Coors Field. The revelers came in numbers, as did the protesters, as did the Denver Police Department.
David and hiked from our Northwest Denver home to lower downtown Denver specifically to see the parade and, of course, the antics of the protestors who, over the past decade or more, have attempted to shut this parade down by utilizing intimidation and civil disobedience which usually manifested itself in blocking the parade route with their bodies.
Denver's City Council, however, passed this year a more stringent ordinance that makes it more difficult to avoid successful prosecution pursuant to a charge of blocking or disrupting a legally permitted parade. In past years, charges against the protesters who have disrupted or blocked the parade have never, to my knowledge, resulted in any convictions.
Be that as it may, as soon as David walked into lower downtown, into those steel and stone canyons, we heard the tom-toms and the chants of the protesters who, apparently, had decided to peacefully--if not quietly--walk through lower downtown to Ground Zero. Their gripe, of course, and what their chants reflected is their belief that Columbus initiated genocide against indigenous populations (native Americans) on whatever "new world" soil he happened to trod.
The protestors (on cue and I do believe in consultation with the Denver Police brass who were on the scene and clearly communicating with the protests leaders) breached the street barricades and about twenty folks who wore whiteface masks ran to the middle of the intersection. They screamed bloody murder and moaned and groaned as they writhed in the middle of the street. They then dropped down and quietly lay prone on the asphalt. It was great street theater symbolizing, of course, the claimed acts of genocide by Columbus.
As the catcalls from the protesters on one side of the street were answered by mostly elderly white-haired Italian women on the other side of the street, the Denver Police Department continued to shift their significant presence around the immediate area, giving all spectators and observers, protestors and parade participants alike a pretty good understanding that if the shit was going to hit the fan, they were their with significant strength to handle it. They even brought the SWAT Team into the intersection, but without helmets or riot sticks.
During all this time, the police brass seemed to be in continual communication with the leaders of the protest. Good move on both of their parts.
When the parade participants were nearing Ground Zero, the Denver Police Department gave more than ample notice through a bullhorn three times that the folks writhing on the asphalt in the middle of the intersection were in violation of the law and if they didn't move they would be arrested. At that point, the street theater continued, as a contingent of protestors brought backboards (the emergency type boards that accident victims are placed on) into the middle of the intersection and began carrying the moaning, screaming bodies out of the middle of the intersection. The protestors then dumped what appeared to be watered down red paint across the middle of the intersection where the Italians would be marching.
Once everyone was out of the middle of the intersection, a Denver Fire Pumper pulled into the intersection and hosed down the fake blood that had been spread over the street. Once again, there seemed to be a very obvious coordination of all of the protestor's actions with the police; that is to say, the cops knew in advance what was going to happen. Or, maybe better said, the cops knew in advance what the protests leaders had told them was going to happen.
So, the Italians reach Ground Zero, the protesters hoot and holler, the cops stand ready, I take pictures and, well... All's well that ends well.
I hope you enjoy the pictures. And, I do believe all sides of this annual event: the cops, the protestors, the Italians, the observers acted wisely and carefully. Yes, it is a very, very costly event given all the barricade rental, police and fire overtime. But, what is the price of assuring First Amendment rights to everyone. Mayor Hickenlooper seemed to think he could dicker a bit with the First Amendment rights of both sides of this annual event. He quickly found out he was wrong.
Maybe the Hick will butt-out next time.
p.s. Also marching with the Italians, were contingents from the Libertarian Party, Cowboys of Color and (this might have struck some protestors as a little ironic) an Inca or Aztec dance troop.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Citing concern that state and local authorities might be unable to contain and deal with such an outbreak, Bush asked Congress to give him the authority to call in the military.
The president has already indicated he wants to give the armed forces the lead responsibility for conducting search-and-rescue operations and sending in supplies after massive natural disasters and terrorist attacks - a notion that could require a change in law and that even some in the Pentagon have reacted to skeptically. The idea raised the startling-to-some image of soldiers cordoning off communities hit by disease.
Um... Haven't I seen pretty scary movies about the military moving in on communities where disease or aliens or whatever happen to land/infest?
Please note the following: Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate dean of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and director of its National Center for Disaster Preparedness, called the president's suggestion an "extraordinarily draconian measure" that would be unnecessary if the nation had built the capability for rapid vaccine production, ensured a large supply of anti-virals like Tamiflu, and not allowed the degradation of the public health system.
"The translation of this is martial law in the United States," Redlener said.
Scary stuff, ya'll. Sounds kind of like John Ashcroft still has the President's ear.
This fro Stephen Pizzo (News for Real) via AlterNet, provides that we are in for one hell of a recession. Pizzo writes:
Recessions begin when consumers suddenly discover they can no longer keep pace with their bills. And this one has already begun.
Of course George W. Bush will blame it all on the war and two hurricanes. In fact, it's a direct result of his own flawed economic policies and the "borrow and spend" lifestyle he sparked, not only within government, but consumers as well.
I am referring to the looming recession. It's going to be a doozie. And it has begun, as it always does, when consumers suddenly discover they can no longer keep pace with their bills.
This is a particularly bad time for consumers to be tapped out. It comes at the beginning of the holiday spending season which can account for nearly half of many retailers income for the year. It comes just as gasoline prices reach European levels, hitting low-wage workers hardest, especially if they have to commute to work. It comes just as the first chills of winter begin spreading south from Canada and as heating oil and natural gas prices spiral to unheard-of highs.
Finally, although 99.9% of the time I disagree with Denver Post editorialist, Al Knight, his thoughts on Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper's can't we all just get along bullshit with regard to the Columbus Day Parade is right on. Please read if you have the time.