Monthly Archives June 2022

Squeezing the “Tao Te Ching” Into a Jam-Packed Week

All right, so that is a little joke in the headline, yes? Need I explain it? The ancient Chinese text emphasizing peace, stillness, patience, emptying the Self, the unity of opposites, being rather than doing, or at least being completely there in the doing? Squeezing that into one’s week?

Funny, maybe a little bit? Tiny smile?

I laugh in order not to cry. Or rage.

Dear Tao, help me in my laughter.

It is the tail end of a week that has seen renewedly breathtaking revelations of an ex-president’s overt and relentless attempt at a coup, followed by rapid-fire Supreme Court decisions that on successive days 1) declared open season on gun violence victims by approving open carry across all 50 states of our union, and 2) ruled on a case that will amount to the outlawing of all abortions in probably half the United States almost immediately.

The devastating symbolism of the court’s one-two punch: force women to...

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Tenth Annual Songs of Summer

Ten summers ago, this space decided to kick off the season by digging into the vault of popular songs devoted to the unrepentant joys and indulgences of summer. Fun season, fun music, fun blog post.

Three songs had made that cut, with multiple readers sending in suggestions/lamentations about others that they thought should have. So when summer rolled around again a year later, it seemed right and proper and, well, traditional, to offer up a second volume.

So here we are, 10 years in, the field of potential songs grown a bit thinner, most of the low-hanging fruit almost picked clean (all previous iterations listed in order here), but with classics still available to those with some idle time on their hands.

And if “idle time on their hands” isn’t the very quintessence of summer, we should hardly bother to talk or write or listen to songs about it at all, should we?



Every season has its charms, bu...

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Watching My Granddaughter’s Gymnastics Class While Congress Debates AR-15s

                     WHILE CONGRESS DEBATES AR-15s

                                   By Andrew Hidas

Everything to live for,
the everything
stretched out
before them,
gamboling like lambs
let loose
to bound
and bound
in the
tall grasses of spring.

Parents on their phones
up above, a half-eye at
most diverted from Facebook,

the glowing faces
of their daughters
lost in the jumble of
limbs below.

“He shot my friend that was next to me and I thought
he was going to come back to the room, so I grabbed
the blood and put it all over me.”

That was Miah the other day,
testifying to a House committee
on the trickery she used to save
her life, though what nightmares still
await that life we can only, grimly,

“Sweet Miah,” Uvalde’s only pediatrician
called her, trailing off at the same hearing
after describing the scene at ...

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Brilliant Songs #29: K.C. Douglas’s “Mercury Boogie”

The light & the dark, the transcendent & tragic, the hopeful & hopeless—it’s all mixed and jumbled up, both gladdening and tormenting us in alternate takes, asking us to swallow it whole as the price of our humanity. Surely, the dark forces that seem all around us at the moment are real enough, and they want nothing more than to have us surrender to their come-hither, sucking sound of despair.

They tempt us, the ultimate menacing seductress, to give in, give up, lose faith in the notion that goodness and beauty and even lightness of heart can persist, can still have a say, in the face of recurrent evil.

Evil wants us to think that joy is trivial and inappropriate to our circumstance, that art and music and dancing are frivolities, for dillettantes only, unfit for somber times.

Persisting in hope, joy, play and art is the ultimate, meaningful riposte, a political and spiritual act, a necessary means to co...

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