Monthly Archives May 2020

Taking a Knee

Just as we cannot truly love ourselves until we reckon with the whole of ourselves—our wounds, conflicts, vulnerabilities, aggressions both overt and passive—neither can we truly love our country until we have looked long and hard and beheld its shadows. This is where the “Love it or leave it” sensibility has always been so woefully off base, revealing a shallow patriotism, bathed in stagnant waters of denial.

To acknowledge faults is not weakness but strength and fortitude for the long haul, putting us in right relation with others and the world. This redounds ultimately back to ourselves, the circle of love, acceptance and forgiveness complete.

Yet here we are, 50+ years along, eight of them under a historic first black president—and the catalog of martyrs to the cause of liberation continues to expand.

Willie Brandt knew this, and he carried that knowledge into one of the historic moments in histo...

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Social Distance Is None Too Social

A modest proposal: Can we stop calling the current, epidemiologically-sanctioned six-foot social distance “social?” I find it to be anything but social in the way that we know that word, unless “social” has been relegated exclusively to the adjective phrase, “socially conscious,” which a six-foot separation from other human beings indeed is in the context of protecting others and ourselves from the ravages of the coronavirus.

But “social distance” seems an almost cruel phrase in a time when all manner of sociability is, however justifiably, under siege, laid low, terrorized by a sub-microscopic virus that has ironically grown into a gigantic political football, bobbled back and forth between the left and right spheres of our political divide, both of whom are sounding decidedly anti-social notes of disdain as they watch, with mounting disapproval, the other side go about their lives.

Sigh…

It becomes obvio...

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Pink Floyd and Some Heideggerian Musings on “Time”

The photo off to the side here shows my ancient cat’s pill dispenser. Two pills of different dosage values go down his gullet in the morn (note the “a.m.” slot), two at night (“p.m.”), to keep his wonky thyroid properly modulated. I take a couple of minutes to fill this dispenser every Sunday night, both to save myself the trouble of fishing individual pills out of their respective bottles twice daily, and also as a backup for my wonky memory (for which no modulation is available) as the day proceeds and I ask myself, “Did I give Rascal his pills this morn?”

What strikes me most about this weekly ritual is the increasing feeling, week to week, that I JUST DID THIS LIKE ABOUT…16 HOURS AGO!

And therein lies the problem of time, and memory, and the future, and life and meaning and death and the music and the philosophy that does its level best to make sense of it all and keep us from th...

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What If The Blue Note Grill Can’t Survive the Coronavirus?

What’s going to happen to small businesses in the United States? The ones we frequent with regularity—or at least did until early March. The restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bookstores, shoestores, recreational outfitters, dry cleaners, florists, salons, spas. The places we take our kids to and tell our friends about, whose proprietors often become familiar to us, reliable and trustworthy, mainstays of most every community.

The Covid-19 disaster descended with such alarming force, catching a federal government that seemed to be almost willfully asleep at the wheel, that businesses had little time to prepare in any way for the cataclysm of sudden closure, Pfffft, zip it, unplug your registers, padlock the doors, furlough your employees, we’ll let you know when things can change.

Recent estimates from the U.S...

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Can the Centre Hold? W.B. Yeats’s “The Second Coming”

In what is surely an indication of just how powerful and provocative William Butler Yeats’s 1919 poem, “The Second Coming” is, a critic writing in “The Paris Review” five years ago suggested  it “may well be the most thoroughly pillaged piece of literature in English.” (Personally, I’m inclined to think it may be a dead-heat between it and Robert Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled.”)

Images and phrases from the poem (“widening gyre,” “falcon/falconer,” “things fall apart,” “the center cannot hold,” “blood-dimmed tide,” “rough beast,” “passionate intensity,” “slouching toward…”) abound in popular culture, politics, literature and other arts (even comic books, heavy metal, and as a true mark of distinction, the music of Joni Mitchell).

That’s no minor accomplishment for a poem (a poem!) of a mere 22 lines, more than a century after its publication in the calamitous ...

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