Sep 22 2012
In the wake of 9/11, on Saturday, September 22, 2001, eleven years ago today, my friend Martin Baumgold decided to stand at the Seventh Street Park in Hudson, New York to demonstrate for peace. The world needed to find peace, and he saw that. He’s been at it since. Every week. Every Saturday. People have come to stand with him, and they have gone away. New ones have come and they too have gone away. Usually, there are 3 or 4 or even 5 people standing at the South side of the Seventh Park on Warren Street. Martin is undeterred, he stands anyway. He’s not the leader of a movement; he just hopes that others will stand with him. But even if they don’t, obviously he’s in it for the long haul.
Mar 31 2012
Yesterday, I wrote (in the third person) to tell you with certainty that I had won the Mega Zillions jackport, more than $500 million. Some of you greeted this news with your usual skepticism. I didn’t mind. You were clearly mistaken. And anyway, I was on my way to the bank.
I awoke this morning to discover to my shock and anger that nobody, that’s right, nobody was camped at my kitchen door waiting for the nouveau nouveau riche (me) to arise and to begin to dispense money in accord with my vaunted, self declared philanthropic inclinations. No. That did not happen. Nobody was there.
Why was nobody there, you have the nerve to ask? Because a vast conspiracy had emerged over night and through connivance had deprived me of my winnings. In fact, of all of my winnings. Not only that. They gave my money to their minions in other states far from here.
This shall not stand. I demand a full investigation of this fraud. And I want my $5 back.
Mar 30 2012
Your Bloguero has been busy. He went to town and secured not only his own financial future, but his membership in the (almost) 1%. Yes, your Bloguero joined the teaming, unwashed masses at the Mega Zillions machine. But there is one pertinent exception relevant to your Bloguero. It’s this. Your Bloguero is going to win the prize. It is a done deal. No equivocation. No doubt. Done. Your Bloguero has already won the prize. You and he have to wait a bit for confirmation, but as your Bloguero is so often told, the check, in this case a huge one, is in the mail. And your Bloguero’s belated career as a philanthropist is about to begin. Nobody knows this yet, except for you. But your Bloguero is fully expecting crushing crowds of people seeking his largesse and advice to assemble early tomorrow at his kitchen door right after they find out he won.
How did your Bloguero accomplish this feat? How did he escape the teaming, faceless masses and enter the uberrich? Well, you might ask. Very well, your Bloguero will tell you. First, your Bloguero donned his clown nose because winning zillions isn’t serious business. Nope. It’s all clowning around. It’s light, it’s easy, it’s joyful. It took a little work for your Bloguero to ferret out the nose from where it was hiding, but voila! He donned his classic, red clown nose. Ready to win. Listo! Second, your Bloguero donned his lucky, fuzzy Elmer Fudd hat. The hat that could be worn only by Ignatius Riley or Elmer Fudd. Or your soon to be Zillionaire Bloguero. Why? Because winning all of the cash is outrageous in the most delightful way. Millions of
suckers people think erroneously that they have won, but there will be only one winner. All of those people realize this on some level. What they don’t realize it that the winner is your Bloguero. Your Bloguero is filled with gratitude to all of those who funded his success, especially all of those who will be eating Value Meals and Ramen noodles for the month of April because of their vain efforts to win money destined only for your Bloguero.
Your Bloguero gave his lottery ticket seller a few dollars and explained he wanted the winning ticket. It was that easy. Your Bloguero wondered, “Why am I wasting money? If I put a single, crumpled dollar bill, one I found under a couch cushion, into this event, I would win Zillions with that crumpled dollar. My pizza change would transform my life. But this isn’t about saving the unnecessary dollars I spent on the extra tickets. No. That $4 is going to be lost in an impending, vast sea of moolah, an ocean of green so wide that the other side has vanished.”
Your Bloguero loves the impending excitement, the breathless excitement that comes just before it is revealed to almost everyone’s complete surprise that your Bloguero is now ridiculously rich.
Your Bloguero is going to give away 90 percent or more of the winnings. He will tithe himself. The rest, the remaining $55million or so, is as good as gone. Your Bloguero is really looking forward to the giveaway. Your Bloguero wishes we could all win, but there you have it.
cross posted from The Dream Antilles
Mar 24 2012
To be clear, your Bloguero is going nowhere. Really, he isn’t. It’s just that the format of “This Week In The Dream Antilles” has become obsolete. Outmoded. Not useful. Despite a mountain of his excellent intentions, your Bloguero hasn’t been keeping to the task. Yes, he’s put the headline up weekly, “The Week In The Dream Antilles,” but what does he do then? He doesn’t write a digest. No. He does something else. Something else entirely. Whatever you may call it, one thing is clear: it’s not the digest of the week’s stories at The Dream Antilles. And it’s been months since your Bloguero actually kept to the task and posted an actual digest. So, your Bloguero wonders solipsistically (you already know he talks to himself), “Ah, Bloguero, Sr. my friend, why are you keeping up this digestive kabuki? (Your Bloguero loves to punish himself). Why not instead just write a weekly essay for all of these wonderful group blogs. And drop the conceit of writing a digest of essays? Won’t that free up some of the neurons in your cranium?”
There you have it. But that’s not all. There’s this, repeated in its entirety:
Yet Another Broken Heart
President Obama got it entirely right when he said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” That captures it in a sentence. A broken heart, and profound sadness and anger at the shooting of Trayvon Martin. And that’s why, today, students across South Florida, who understand from their own experiences how easy it is to be hassled, frisked, shot, or killed, walked out of school in protest. The death of Trayvon just is too much to bear. What else could they do?
And that’s why so many people are wearing hoodies today in solidarity with Trayvon and to symbolize their desire that justice be done. I’m one of those. What else can I do?
And that’s why there are demonstrations in many cities that begin with the horror of the death of Trayvon Martin and go on to inevitable questions about the role of police, the constant frisking on the sidewalk. And the incessant of stopping of cars. And endemic surveillance and following and watching and stopping to ask questions. Was it Justice Brandeis who wrote in dissent about the right of the people to be left alone?
It’s obvious. There’s something incredibly wrong going on. And it’s not new. No. It’s been going on in one dreadful form or another for more than half a millennium in this hemisphere and for more than 400 years in what is now the United States of America. And it continues. In its simplest terms, it’s dehumanization. It has a long, horrible, degrading, exasperating history. And it continues. It continues in many forms. Some are new, but others are age old. And it is persistent. And I have no idea how to stop it. It has such deep roots and so much momentum. And despite all of the justified anger and all of the profound sadness, it continues. Nobody seems to be able to stop it.
Here’s the heartbreak: your teenager goes to the store to buy an iced tea and Skittles. Can he have two dollars? Sure. He doesn’t have any money. He says he’ll be right back. But he doesn’t come home alive. He gets shot for no reason whatsoever. And he dies. Can you imagine this? And then the person who killed him isn’t even arrested.
And why isn’t he arrested? Is it because the police are stupid? Or incompetent? Or racists? Is it because the prosecutors are incompetent or racists? Or because the law of self defense has been so perverted that its been transformed by a state legislature in awe of the NRA into a shield for wanton killings of unarmed people by people with guns? Is it all of these things? Is it more than that? Is it something incomprehensible? Does it even matter why there’s been no arrest? Doesn’t the lack of an arrest speak volumes about the situation?
Here’s the heartbreak again: your teenager did nothing wrong and he’s dead. And nobody gets arrested, or charged, or indicted. And you and many other people suspect that your teenager has been murdered. But there’s no arrest. The police mumble on about the strange, new, self defense law and how somehow that ties their hands from making an arrest. And they won’t make an arrest. And the person who should be arrested goes into hiding. And the police chief steps down temporarily. And now there’s a new state prosecutor and now there’s a federal, civil rights investigation. But there’s still no arrest. I wonder. Will there ever be an arrest? How long do I have to wait, and what exactly am I waiting for?
I wonder. How many thousands of parents have a version of this terrible event? How many parents have buried their children? How many children were lynched and killed before Emmett Till? And how many killings of children have there been since? How many parents’ hearts have been broken when children have been killed? How many soul crushing, heartbreaking murders of children have there been? How many oceans of tears have been shed because of events just like this one?
My heart is again broken. The murder of Trayvon Martin is inexcusable. It’s yet another drop in the ocean of suffering filled with parents’ tears at the loss of their children. And the tears of the rest of us who feel their suffering. And it continues to grow.
cross-posted from The Dream Antilles
Mar 17 2012
This is beyond profoundly disturbing. It’s about the slaughter of elephants in game preserves in Africa. This story is making your Bloguero sick. Hence, a too brief essay, for which he apologizes, and restraint in writing, so he doesn’t explode in a torrent of expletives. And, yes,your Bloguero knows this is supposed to be the Friday weekly digest, but because of this story, your Bloguero cannot get his mind around that.
Mar 10 2012
A 2006 photo: Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey with Sgt. Rex in Iraq
Have you noticed that sometimes your Bloguero completely loses his equanimity? Your Bloguero thought so. Be warned.Here it comes again. Nothing, nothing at all makes your Bloguero lose it like military bureaucracy. Your Bloguero points out that there is a reason, a very good reason why all of the vehicles the army owns have FTA scratched into them. And that reason has to do with how the army handles the very many small, non-life-and-death matters that matter to the soldiers.
This week began with efforts to remove vile, misogynist Lush Rimshot from the AFRN airwaves. Senator Levin sort of helped, but not enough that any desk chair jockey with scrambled eggs on his headgear would read his statement as requiring anything, or even threatening to require something, or starting a painful Congressional inquiry. No. In dealing with the military bureaucracy, the only thing that really matters is an order. “May I please have some more, sir,” just doesn’t get it done. That is uniformly (your Bloguero knows) greeted with scoffs. And raised eyebrows. And it’s ignored. Especially if it involves changing anything. No. An order is what it takes to change anything. And only an order will do. Will AFRN get such an order about Lush Rimshot’s program? Time will tell.
And then, today, there was this item. Your Bloguero knows. There are a whole lot of very important things that need doing, that merit your attention, that deserve widespread notice. Your Bloguero knows all that. Yes, there are big, important things that deserve ink. But your Bloguero wants something small. Your Bloguero would like to point out that a very simple, short order that the dog, Sgt. Rex, be discharged and given to his former, loving handler, ex-Cpl. Meagan Leavy, would make your Bloguero, ex-Cpl Leavy, ex-Sgt Rex, dogs and dog lovers and citizens everywhere very happy. Ecstatically happy.
For just this once, do you think the military could cut some of the red tape bs and just send Sgt. Rex home? You know what to do. Start with Senator Schumer and President Obama. Let them know that Sgt. Rex and Meagan Leavy need to be reunited. And they need it now. Then go on to others who need to hear from you about this.
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest of essays in The Dream Antilles. Usually it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now, it’s something else entirely. To see what essays were in the past week you have visit The Dream Antilles
Mar 03 2012
Your Bloguero missed his self imposed, usual Friday deadline. The dog ate his homework. No, he just got a cold and wouldn’t get out of bed. This is what your Bloguero does on the very rare occasion when he has a cold. When he feels sick. He doesn’t call the doctor, and he doesn’t go to the pharmacy for something to knock out the unseen invader. No. He just gets in bed. Pulls the covers over his head. And he stays there. He explores in depth that fuzzy zone between awake and asleep, being thinking and dreaming. He doesn’t eat. He has soup. And broth. He drinks water. He travels only as far as the bathroom. He does not communicate with the outside world.
Today, after three days, he is much, much better. Thank you. The cough is almost gone, his nose is red but has stopped dripping as much. He is weak and spacey. Very spacey. Very altered.
At some point early this morning, your Bloguero had a dream.
In the dream, your Bloguero was driving his father, who passed away two weeks ago, to catch a train. He was an old man in the dream, just as he was before he passed away, in his 90’s, frail, frequently short of breath, entirely conscious, cogent, alert. First, your Bloguero was driving a VW bus with his dad. They had to abandon that and start driving another car. They failed to put Dad’s suitcase in the new car. They spoke briefly about it and headed for the station anyway without it. They’d come back and get it. Later. When they got to the station, your Bloguero simply could not navigate the parking lot. Every road went the wrong way. All the arrows on the pavement went the wrong way. All the turns were forbidden. Finally, frustrated, your Bloguero parked the car illegally, in a no parking no standing zone, and began to walk slowly with his Dad to the station. Dad has to walk pretty slowly because he gets short of breath from chronic heart failure. But there’s a problem. They didn’t know where the entrance to the station might be.
In the distance, they saw some uniformed men tending a parking lot, and there was a policeman there. They could ask them where to go. The sun was shining, it was bright, and it was hot. Your Bloguero had, as he had for the past few years, his Dad holding on his right arm, walking slowly with him, hanging on. Dad said, “We have 20 minutes.” Then he said, “I can’t go this fast. I have to stop. I have to wait.” They stopped. And stood still in the hot sun. Who, your Bloguero wondered, was he to hurry his father? Who was he to be concerned about making the train? How dare he? Your Bloguero said, “I’m sorry, dad, I’m really sorry.” Your Bloguero woke up crying.
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest of essays in The Dream Antilles. Usually it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now, it’s something else entirely. To see what essays were in The Dream Antilles in the past two week you have visit The Dream Antilles
Feb 24 2012
Alexander Borodin (1833-1857)
Last week, there was no This Week In The Dream Antilles. And no explanation for that. Your Bloguero spent the week in hospital with his Dad, and then on Friday, February 17, his Dad passed away. He would have been 93 on March 10. He did not suffer, and he was not in pain. He had a remarkable, productive life. And your Bloguero, who is filled with gratitude for having such a wonderful father and teacher and friend, deeply grieves his departure.
So there was no This Week last week. And there’s not going to be much of a This Week this week either. Your Bloguero finds himself feeling untethered, inarticulate. Unable to write an honest sentence. Much less a paragraph. And he’s not sure what might be next.
There are just two things quickly to tell. First, your Bloguero’s dad was a life long pianist and music lover. He’d forgotten more classical music than your Bloguero ever learned. Just before his passing, your Bloguero asked his current top 10 in classical music. His answer: Borodin, firmly in first place for the string quartets; Sibelius in second for his symphonies; and all of Rachmaninoff in third. After that, your Bloguero learned, it gets complicated. Very complicated. Supposedly great composers get dissed for all kinds of failings. Never mind what.
Your Bloguero suggests that you listen to Borodin, and see whether you can discern how Borodin, rather than the many others whose names start with the same letter, got into first place. Here you go, just a taste of the Second String Quartet:
Failing to find words to describe precisely what about the Borodin String Quartets makes them so extremely great, for which your Bloguero craves your forgiveness, your Bloguero can offer you only this remarkable poem by Charles Bukowski (1920-1994), “the life of Borodin”:
the next time you listen to Borodin
remember he was just a chemist
who wrote music to relax;
his house was jammed with people:
students, artists, drunkards, bums,
and he never knew how to say: no.
the next time you listen to Borodin
remember his wife used his compositions
to line the cat boxes with
or to cover jars of sour milk;
she had asthma and insomnia
and fed him soft-boiled eggs
and when he wanted to cover his head
to shut out the sounds of the house
she only allowed him to use the sheet;
besides there was usually somebody
in his bed
(they slept separately when they slept
and since all the chairs
were usually taken
he often slept on the stairway
wrapped in an old shawl;
she told him when to cut his nails,
not to sing or whistle
or put too much lemon in his tea
or press it with a spoon;
Symphony #2, in B Minor
On the Steppes of Central Asia
he could sleep only by putting a piece
of dark cloth over his eyes
in 1887 he attended a dance
at the Medical Academy
dressed in a merrymaking national costume;
at last he seemed exceptionally gay
and when he fell to the floor,
they thought he was clowning.
the next time you listen to Borodin,
This seems oddly fitting for This Week this week.
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest of essays in The Dream Antilles. Usually it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now, it’s something else entirely. To see what essays were in The Dream Antilles in the past two week you have visit The Dream Antilles.
Feb 10 2012
First, Salvador Dali. Then, Willard. It’s the anagrams that keep on giving. And oh what strange things, what strange associations the mind makes.
Your Bloguero is informed that the surrealist leader André Breton coined the anagram “Avida Dollars” for Salvador Dalí, to tarnish his reputation by the implication of commercialism. Very clever. And intentional. But when your last name is Romney, and the letters that spell “money” are obvious and comprise 5/6ths of your family name, you have a big problem. Especially when the US economy is in the gutter, and you’re running for president in 2012, and you want to claim that you can end the depression. And it escapes no one that you have tons and tons of money.
As if that weren’t enough, the problem is exacerbated by the design geniuses who created Willard’s logo. Look at these awful examples:
They made the “R” essentially unreadable by turning it into a flag-thing, leaving you, dear reader, with a 5-letter scramble that can only spell one thing, “money.” Just look at it. Just think about it. Look at this terrible logo. Ask yourself, “What’s the word that comes to mind.” You don’t think, “Oh, he’s the guy to fix the economy.” Nope. You think, “Money. He has tons of money. He’s really, really, really rich.”
This isn’t rocket science. When you think about Romney, because you see his name somewhere, it’s unavoidable. The mind is in control. You have to associate his name and logo with the word “money,” of which Willard has far more than anyone else.
This inevitably feeds the meme that he’s a very, very rich guy and that he’s, therefore, totally protected and completely isolated and thoroughly out of touch with the middle class, the poor, and probably even a lot of people who think of themselves as rich, just not as rich as he is.
How can he ameliorate this? Certainly not by making speeches about the glories of capitalism. Or talking about his success in plundering companies. No. Goodness. The reminder of all of these unfortunate associations dominates his name. Look. Look at his name. You see it. It’s not his fault. He didn’t make up the name. It’s not a nom de guerre. Would that it was. No. It’s right there in his birth name. He has it. His father has it. His kids have it. R+money.
And unfortunately, once you focus on these letters, just one time, dear reader, you cannot miss it. Again. You cannot forget it. You cannot look at his name and not think, “Oh, money. There’s his money again. It’s R+money.” Whenever you see his logo, you automatically think, “Oh, money. R+money.” And that involuntarily and automatically associates with the thought “out of touch.” With privilege. With not being like your Bloguero and you. With being rich and having the world handed to him on a sterling silver platter by a liveried butler. With Richie Rich.
His handlers and Faux News try to shield him from the devastating anagram by referring to him solely as “Mitt,” a monicker (like Kimberly and Muffy) that reeks of the upper class, prep schools in Connecticut, being a legacy (and not the sharpest tool in the shed) in the Ivy League, and the kind of privilege and seashore homes and yachts and snootiness that you can imagine. He’s part of the people that Jay Gatsby aspired but was unable to become because of the source of his funds. You can fill out the entire picture.
But look, it gets worse. “Mitt” isn’t really his first name. His first name is really “Willard”, and that name, which your Bloguero and Al Sharpton prefer, reminds of just one thing, rats.
Yes, your Bloguero can hear you complaining. “Come on, Bloguero. This ‘analysis’ if that’s what it is, is too far fetched for us. We don’t believe in this kind of semiotics.” Hah. Don’t be skeptical. And don’t be silly. This is a problem as old as Shakespeare:
‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
Oh, be some other name indeed. Don’t like the Bard as a source? Fine. How about Marshall McLuhan instead, “Diaper backward spells repaid. Think about it.”
Before its too late, and it may already be just that, Willard needs a logo that manages to obscure this name problem. Something simple that makes all the letters the same size and font. But look. Willard’s been running for president for an eternity, and, if you didn’t understand this already, he just doesn’t get it.
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest of essays in The Dream Antilles. Usually it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now, it’s something else entirely. To see what essays were in The Dream Antilles you have to visit the Dream Antilles.
Feb 03 2012
A new window has opened for your Bloguero on the meaning of “insignificance.” Your Bloguero is delighted to be able to tell you about it and to allow you to infer, if you wish to, how he and you may now be the zenith of insignificance (Note: or the nadir of significance, if you prefer).
On Ground Hog Day the “celebrity businessman” who calls himself “The Donald” endorsed Willard for president. (Note and digression: your Bloguero does not refer to this person as “Mitt”. He will never refer to him by that name. “Mitt” is a preppy, friendly, brotherly, harmless sort of name. “Willard,” the candidate’s real moniker, reminds of rats and is, therefore, preferable). It wasn’t much of a surprise. It was an ersatz “surprise.” A manufactured event. So, of course, there were front page stories, and videos, and the kind of breathless oohing and ahhhing reserved for contrived, fabricated, apparently meaningless events. (Note and digression: Your Bloguero notes that such oohing and ahhing isn’t required and never accompanies really breathtaking, really surprising events. The Egyptian Soccer Riots for example. Those are accompanied by eye popping incredulity. By gasps. By screams. They don’t need a
laugh oohing and ahhing track). But your Bloguero digresses.
And in the midst of the simulacrum of excitement, CNN reported deep in its story:
It was unclear whether Trump’s decision will have any impact on the Republican race. A Pew survey last month found that 64% of definite and likely GOP voters said an endorsement from the reality television star would make no difference to them.
In the survey, 13% said it would make them more likely to back a candidate, while 20% said it would actually make them less likely.
May your Bloguero translate this paragraph? 84% of “definite and likely GOP voters,” almost 6 in 7, said The Donald’s endorsement didn’t matter or would make them less likely to vote for whoever the Donald chose to endorse. Your Bloguero wonders who “definite and likely GOP voters” might be and whether, having scrutinized the potential nominees, admitting to be a “definite or likely GOP voter” might be tantamount to admitting that one had a diagnosed thought disorder or suffered from delusions (Note: Even if the assertion that these people are mentally ill is problematic, your Bloguero does not retreat from it. If the reader is more comfortable with the venerable assertion that they are “fools,” the reader may so edit the previous sentence). But your Bloguero digresses. A further translation: even among the zealots nobody gives a hoot about The Donald’s endorsement, or they just don’t like it.
Your Bloguero was talking about “insignificance.” If an endorsement actually hurts the candidate, why would the candidate show up to accept it amidst all the oohing and ahhing reserved for such obviously fake events? Wouldn’t the candidate be better served by actually campaigning in Nevada or Maine or making speeches to likely primary voters, the people whose votes he needs to receive to win a primary? Put another way, what kind of loon seeks out and accepts an endorsement in New York City, which is not having a primary this weekend, that will hurt him with voters in states having primaries he is running in? Why would Willard show up to kiss The Donald’s [expletive deleted]? Thereby, as the Bard said, hangs the tale.
How naïve even to ask such a thing. As if this had to do with voters. As if this had to do with directly seeking votes. Tsk. Tsk. No. As everybody by now knows, the candidate is always better served by fellating a ginormous donator like The Donald than by doing the actual campaigning, the shaking hands, the eating corn dogs, the VFW halls, inspiring his GOTV workers. (Note: the adjective “ginormous” refers to The Donald’s money, and not to any part of his anatomy). The old school, get out the vote stuff. The old routine of getting votes directly. This, herman@s, is not about The Donald’s appeal to voters. It’s not about old school politicking. That, as your Bloguero and CNN have pointed out, is the definition of “insignificance.” Of no importance. Without importance. Without meaning. With no significance. Meaninglessness. The Donald’s appeal to voters is the very definition of “insignificance.”
No, this is about something else. You know what it is already. Admit it. Ok. If you insist, your Bloguero will tell you. It’s about money. Dinero. Moolah. Cash. Greenbacks. What used to be called “bread.” Surprise! It’s about Citizens United and the spigot of funds The Donald claims to possess and to be willing to turn on in the service of Willard, and the supposed message from The Donald’s explicit endorsement to other fat cats to pony up. To pay up. To buy the votes. To buy the TV attack ads. That’s why The Donald is significant, and we, compadres, aren’t. We’re insignificant. We cannot fund a campaign that is about meeting our desires. Nope. All we can do is vote for whatever candidates others have bought for us. We are that insignificant.
The opposite of “insignificance,” the precise antonym is what Willard expects from The Donald. And what he showed up on Ground Hog’s Day to attain. How many zeroes are in the number?
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Usually, it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For the essays you have to visit The Dream Antilles.
Jan 27 2012
Last year there was a fierce Winter. Huge, frequent snowfalls. Extraordinary, aching, persistent cold. And this year, as if finding mercy, Winter has so far been quite mild. A deep snow at the end of October melted quickly. There has been no extended, sub zero cold. And there has been little snow. Yesterday’s foul weather warning was unjustified: the feared storm turned into copious rain. Streams and ponds and lakes are not fully frozen. In short, mud season has arrived early and it may persist.
Mud season turns the world monochromatic. The sun is weak. The sky is overcast and gray. There is no snow cover. Fields and forests and dirt roads are all brown. And so we wait. We make it a practice not to complain. Not to jinx whatever clemency we’ve received. We wonder. Is the future a plunge into growling arctic blizzards, or is it a slow but muddy slog toward the Equinox?
Looking For a Sunset Bird in Winter
The west was getting out of gold,
The breath of air had died of cold,
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight.
In summer when I passed the place
I had to stop and lift my face;
A bird with an angelic gift
Was singing in it sweet and swift.
No bird was singing in it now.
A single leaf was on a bough,
And that was all there was to see
In going twice around the tree.
From my advantage on a hill
I judged that such a crystal chill
Was only adding frost to snow
As gilt to gold that wouldn’t show.
A brush had left a crooked stroke
Of what was either cloud or smoke
From north to south across the blue;
A piercing little star was through.
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Usually, it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For the essays you have to visit The Dream Antilles
Jan 20 2012
Joe was enthusiastic. He bought a .32 and a box of bullets at a pawn shop and was headed across the fields to shoot some beer bottles. Target practice. “Man,” he smiled at me, “Man, you need one of these, too. For protection. You can never tell what will happen around here. You have no idea how crazy these people are.” He got there before me. He, too, was from New Jersey. Maybe he knew what he was talking about. But we weren’t supposed to have guns. We were supposed to be non-violent. But maybe I did need protection. There were a lot of people around who were not thrilled at our arrival. There were rumors. And, of course, threats.
The police headquarters was on the dusty, main street of the town. On the white side of the tracks, down the block from the gin, across the street from the drug store. I walked in in the middle of the afternoon. The old police car was parked out front. The street was quiet, it was hot, and there was a single officer inside. He woke himself up, pulled himself out of the wooden armchair he was leaning against the bars. I put the brown paper bag (he would have called it a “sack”) on the counter, and quietly informed him, “There’s a gun in there. It’s mine. I want you to look at it and write down the serial number, and I want you to take my name and address, so that if I have to shoot somebody, you’ll know it was me who did it.”
He didn’t seem at all startled by the request. He already knew who I was. And why I was there. He knew all about the rumors. And the threats.
In the bag was a heavy, black, snub nosed .38. A police special. It wasn’t at all for shooting targets. Neither beer bottles, nor small animals. If you wanted to hit something, or more likely someone you’d have to be standing right next to it or him. But this gun had one enormous virtue. When you fired it in the dark, it was very loud. Like a cannon. And it made a bright yellow flash. In other words, it was perfect for me. One squeeze of the trigger would scare anybody to death. Including me. You’d think of just going home. Or back to wherever you were before. You wouldn’t think about much more than that. You’d want to leave.
After my visit downtown I put the loaded gun under my pillow. And life went on more or less as before. Community organizing. Playing with the dog. Going to meetings. Visits to the store to buy single cigarettes. Trips down the highway to buy cheap, hot beer. Answering questions from distant supervisors about what was going on. The constant talking of organizing. Eating barbecue. Putting coins in the jukebox. Talking some more. Visiting the neighbors. Talking some more. After a while, it wasn’t a big deal any more that there was a bump under the pillow. I took it for granted. I continued to watch my back. And my step. But the ugly rumors continued that they would get me.
One Fall Saturday night it was cold and raining. I was alone at home watching television. Home at the time was a run down, rotting shack in the edge of a small cotton field near the railroad tracks. The dog was sleeping on the floor. A leak in the roof near the entrance was dripping into a coffee can. I heard two or three cars pull up, heard their doors slam, and heard the occupants yelling and bumping into things. They were calling me all kinds of unkind names, telling me how they were going to beat my posterior, telling me immediately to bring my buttocks out of the house. When I looked out the window, it looked like they might be carrying shotguns or rifles. I couldn’t recognize any of them. I turned the lights off. I went to the bed and reached under the pillow. They continued to yell epithets and threaten and describe the things they were planning on doing to me. They said they were going to inflict various kinds of physical injury on me, burn my house down to the ground, and kill the dog who they thought only barked at white people. It was true about who the dog barked at, so he started to growl and bark at them. I quietly opened the window at the side of the house, pointed the gun toward the sky, and fired a single shot. Boom. The boom echoed around the town. As I was afraid it would, it scared me nearly to death.
“Oh hell,” one of them shouted. “I told you he’d shoot. Let’s get the hell out of here.” They jumped back in their cars and drove off into the rain.
My heart was pounding. I was shaking. I picked up the phone to call Joe. “Listen,” I told him. “Something just happened. You know that gun I got?”
“Did you just shoot somebody?”
“Nobody got hurt. But I’m shaking. I need you to come and get me and let me stay at your house tonight. Just for tonight. I don’t want to be here if they come back tonight. It’s too scary.”
He came and got me. To my unending gratitude, they didn’t come back.
Instead, one afternoon about two weeks later one of them drove off the road in his pick up truck. He intentionally ran over my dog and killed him.
This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Usually, it appears on Friday. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For the essays you have to visit The Dream Antilles