To the Point

There comes a time in every epoch when pragmatism simply evolves into extreme acquiescence and surrender to the forces of apathy and do-nothingness, a guarantor of the status quo in all of its easy, democratic criminality--its fortress of greed. You could line up all the pols in the U.S. in a straight row and examine them head to toe and not find a single man or woman capable of admitting, never mind ending, the corruption of their vocation--Buddy Dooley

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Good Finish

I do this for the symmetry, of course, to make this the perfect blog.

For all of you.

Wherever you are.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Real Work

A young, Canadian filmmaker explains himself.

This reminds me of the automatism I've experienced in the workplace, the soul searching that accompanied the deadness of my world as I prepared daily to confront the reality of industrialism--which I thought of not as a noble quest, but rather as the shits.

The four biggies in my case were, in order, a plywood mill, a frozen food plant, a mobile home factory, and a wire rope factory.

These jobs tried to kill me.

In the plywood mill where I went to work the summer after I graduated from high school, I stood on a platform in front of a massive, ostensibly fully-automated dryer that fed sheets of damp veneer into its hot belly. I was there to turn the machine off and on with a push of two buttons, one red, the other green. If the wood did not burn up in the intense heat (fires were frequent and controlled by another worker), it passed to the opposite end of the dryer, where it was "graded" and loaded onto carts to cool before being moved to the plugging, plying and gluing phase of the operation.

The dryer was fitted with a pair of spider-like armatures designed to feed the veneer into the machine a single sheet at a time.  It was a good theory, but in practice it seldom worked properly and I spent most of my time separating the veneer by hand before feeding it into the dryer.

For this monotony I was paid $9 and hour, a decent wage in 1969, and was able to go off to college in the fall.

In the summer of 1973, I tried my hand in a frozen food plant, where once more I found myself standing for long hours on another platform in front of another conveyor belt, a slave to time and tedium, as I graded fresh cauliflower before it was taken to the packaging and freezer sections of the plant.

I've forgotten what the job paid, though I'm sure it was not even close to what plywood paid. That summer, on the graveyard shift, a worker in the freezer warehouse was killed when a load of frozen beans fell on his head as he tried to stack a pallet.  He'd climbed down from his forklift to check his positioning when the palletized load crashed down and flattened him like, well, a bean.

My third blue-collar job was in a mobile home factory after I got out of VISTA.  It was just before I moved to Portland, Oregon to stay, in 1977.  The trailers were Commodores, I believe, and it was sort of an interesting process--as least the small aspect of it I saw seemed to be.  In fact, I spent all of my time standing--that's correct--on a platform bending metal of various widths at 90 degree angles.

To relieve my boredom with this one I spent breaks in the yard doing push ups to try to strengthen my skinny arms.

The wire rope factory was the last of my heavy-duty industrial jobs. There on the first day I went through a safety seminar, run by a young man with a missing hand.

He'd lost it the previous year to one of the heavy cutters used to section wire rope.

He was the most uniquely qualified employee of any factory I've ever been in.  He had that one thing every employer covets in a worker--experience; and he really loved his work.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Few Myths Exposed

One of the more popular and enduring accounts of America’s past is that of its religious founding. Belief that the British-American colonies were settled largely by religiously devout people in search of spiritual freedom, that the United States government was founded in part on religious principles, that the Founders intended to create a “Christian nation,” and that America is a specially chosen nation whose success has been directed by divine providence has resonated in the national psyche for generations. Versions of this account have existed since the founding era and have persisted through times of national distress, trial, and triumph. They represent a leading theme in our nation’s historical narrative, frequently intertwined with expressions of patriotism and American exceptionalism.

A closer look at magical thinking.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Two by RP Thomas

I like this work.


Cultural Revolution!

Finally, in recent months Obama has also, through executive action, made solid gains on immigration, wage discrimination, climate change, and foreign-policy issues, including an opening, after more than a half century of Cold War and embargo, to Cuba. These accomplishments—and potential accomplishments, like a rigorous, well-regulated nuclear arrangement with Iran—will help shape the coming election. In no small measure, Obama, and what he has achieved, will determine the parameters of the debate.

Ten days that shook the world.

Now, if we could only find peace, economic justice, and jobs!  Amen.



An activist and youth organizer named Bree Newsome climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina capitol in Columbia early Saturday morning and pulled down the Confederate flag still flying on Statehouse grounds, telling media, "we can't wait any longer."

Very cool.  Good job, Bree.


Friday, June 26, 2015

New York, New York

For some reason I hadn't read Joseph Mitchell until recently, when I picked up Joe Gould's Secret at the library. (In case you're slower than I am, which you can't possibly be, Mitchell's story follows the daily rounds of a down-and-out NYC Bowery denizen, Gould, who claimed for years to be working on a project he titled "An Oral History of Our Time.")

It turned out that the book never existed, and this seems to have affected Mitchell in deep and mysterious ways, ultimately leading him to a hellish case of writer's block.

I really enjoyed that, so I went back to the library and checked out My Ears are Bent, Mitchell's 1938 collection of his early newspaper stories.  Mitchell was a roving reporter of the type that seldom works on newspapers these days, and a great storyteller and stylist.  By age 30 he was working at The New Yorker, where he stayed for the rest of his life, though in his later years he didn't produce much.

Reading the book, in conjunction with watching New York:  A Documentary Film, has become a full-immersion in the soul of NYC's past.


Marriage Freedom

Go ahead and get married then.

But as usual make sure your prenups are in order.


The Counterculture

American music continued to evolve as an expression of cultural change. The phonograph became commonplace and the mass appeal of music further commoditized its expanding genres. In the 1920s and 1930s, music was a significant contributor to the arts scene of the Harlem Renaissance, a social revolt against racism that began as a literary movement led my Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. The 1930s and 1940s brought swing music into the mix. The expertly arranged music of Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington appealed to romantics and dancers during World War II and allowed the big bands’ soloist to show off their chops. Some of these soloists rebelled against swing’s conventions and standardized charts and invented bebop. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and Curly Russell emerged as fiery soloist in “cutting” sessions downtown after the big bands and their dull fans went home for the evening. In kind, some critics lambasted them, disputing bebop’s musicality. After all, you couldn’t dance to it.

My essay is up for the weekend at CounterPunch.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

What If?

A link from RP Thomas of Talent, Oregon.

Says it showed up at his FB. Worth a watch for sure.

Thanks, RP!


Our Road

You work your whole life. You pay your taxes – boy, do you pay your taxes. Unlike upper-middle and upper-class folks who have tax preparers and accountants to help them with their taxes and find deductions and loopholes and so forth, you get slammed every year and you can barely keep afloat…then, the worst happens.

You get old and disabled and you can’t work any more and your disability/social security isn’t really enough to live on and you never were able to get much retirement money together so the government gives you something called SSI. Between that and Social Security you still don’t have enough to live on but what can you do?

Diana Bulgarelli telling it like it is.

I can tell you where my taxes went in the main over a 50-year working life.  For numerous wasteful, bullshit wars--not a single one that I supported.  Furthermore, I don't think they kept me "free," either.


Clown Car Damaged, 6-3

What goddamn menaces these creeps are!

The old bromide "activist judges" makes a reappearance, and it makes as much sense as it ever did. That is to say none.

Maybe my neighbor, who wants to beat me up, can beat them up instead. Ha! He probably agrees with them, though it would be opposite his interests.  Imagine that...

This was a crucial decision.  Not all SCOTUS decisions have this magnitude or meaning.  We're literally talking saving lives here.  It doesn't get any bigger than that.

Of course in the Repubs' opinion it isn't about saving lives at all, but rather something more sinister--greed.

Have I mentioned that I don't like any of these Kochsuckers?


Revised Alt-Everything

Available now at Amazon, the new edition of Alt-Everything.

It's my best work, so don't hesitate.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Personal Apocalypse

It was also in 1947 that Berryman began drinking heavily. Curiously, given his later long-term and profound addiction, Berryman wasn’t much of a drinker before the age of 33 (or much of a poet, for that matter). His wife, Eileen, had begun taking evening courses in psychology and wasn’t around nearly as much to look after him. He needed looking after. The drinking escalated quickly into a large problem. He also began taking Dexedrine to get going in the morning and Nembutal to get to sleep at night. He was now travelling regularly to New York to see his psychiatrist, James Shea, in an attempt to stave off his depression. Whether Shea helped him is questionable; what is certain is that Berryman emerged newly fascinated with psychiatry and his own buried psychological issues, especially the suicide of his father just before his 12th birthday, the story of which had been camouflaged by his mother. He also began to read the central texts of Freud, Fechner, Reich and others, which made a tremendous impression on him. Freud and psychoanalysis were to become major themes for Berryman, as they already were for Schwartz, and were about to be for Jarrell and Lowell. By 1953, Lowell was ‘gulping’ Freud and telling one and all that he was a ‘slavish convert’. These poets were, of course, not alone in their fascination. After the Second World War, with veterans returning en masse with psychological trauma, psychoanalysis – both the practice and the language associated with it – permeated the culture and country. Neuroses and mental illness acquired a sort of glamour, making their way into Hollywood, Time magazine and the salon conversation of intellectuals. Schwartz, Lowell, Berryman and Jarrell probably didn’t need the encouragement. Be that as it may, it was off to the races.

What a great pleasure Berryman has always been for me.  In my estimation, perhaps America's greatest poet.  He cracked up to be sure, something I can relate to.  Life, friends, is no picnic.


Poem of the Day

To My Muse Early in the Morning


The touch of
your fingers on
my balls
is like the
drunkard’s wine
or the killer’s
bullet, yet
not even
they compare
nor give as much pleasure,
nor measure up.

The touch of
your fingers on
my balls is
an opiate
my love!
It is an
ecstasy finer
than an erotic dream,
finer than reams
of exquisite prose!

My lovely,
lovely muse
I have it in for you,
as you do
for me.

Let us dance
together tonight
on an imaginary
in an
imaginary room
in an imaginary
clinging like
insects to
our fragmentary lust,
us and
and nothing more.


I knew that day
and the day before
as we walked the
path along
the river;
I was yours
under a sweat-soaked
to do with
to hurt
to laugh
to weep.

What is more
you leaned against
the riverwall
and beckoned me
like a whore;
on your lips
the words formed
like perfect sweets—
come dumb poet,
you pathetic man,
into my arms
need me.

How could I resist
such a clear song?
What man could
other than the killer
or the dead?


On our first date
you did not hesitate
to tell me
I ruined the years
before that day;
your honesty!

Your bitchiness
impressed me so
I began to ruminate
while denying
your real ambition—
to touch my
balls was
your solution.

With some care
and contrition
I allowed you the
opening move,
a tremulous hand
under the table
flitted against
my knee and then…
and then
the coffee in
the cup before me
swirled up
like an ocean swell
and drained
out in my lap!

A small case
of the nerves
I imagine,
yet I wanted
you my lovely
lovely muse;
how I ached
for you!


We have been
together now for years
with your fingers
touching my balls,
and you have only
gotten better;
how can a man
at sixty be so childlike,
so full of
love for his
muse that he feels insane,
yet clear in one thing—
that his muse’s
touch is all
he can claim
to know?

from Nightscape in Empire & The Talent Poems

Note:  I actually don't put much faith in muses.  The imagination is tricky, and writing a poem is difficult.  Making one mainly involves hard work (and it's easy to get lost), but sometimes you run into a thought that doesn't want to go away.  It doesn't spare you or cut you slack.  The muse is the root of musing.  I feel muses are fundamentally unreal, an aspect of imagination that one might associate with unwieldy romanticism, likely the products of a slight derangement and a sense that anything is possible, even faith in an imaginary muse.  And it occurs to me that this is about as close as I'll ever get to explaining what I believe faith--or writing--means. Anyway, we all seek perfection; few, if any, of us ever get there.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Nabokov had a ferocious disregard for Hemingway. He also disdained Lawrence and other Anglophone writers from whom he learned and borrowed, such as Faulkner, whom he dismissed with lengthy screeds spluttering with appalled rage. Hemingway was special, though, bestriding the era as an unequaled commercial colossus. In 1940, Hemingway was dominatingly present, with the publication in October of For Whom the Bell Tolls, his long, sporadically excellent, crowd-pleasing novel of the Spanish Civil War. Nabokov admitted in later years to having read some Hemingway (he never admitted to reading Lawrence). In an interview Nabokov granted in the ’60s he said, “As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early forties, something about bells, balls, and bulls, and loathed it. Later I read his admirable ‘The Killers’ and the wonderful fish story.” “Bells, balls, and bulls” conflates For Whom the Bell Tolls with The Sun Also Rises, and “the wonderful fish story” is no doubt The Old Man and the Sea, another crowd-pleaser but definitely minor Hemingway. “The Killers,” all dialogue, was virtually a screenplay—for Nabokov a mark of triviality.

Nabokov was an opinionated prick.  But he was good enough to get away with it, so we don't mind.


Monday, June 22, 2015

New Cover?

A new cover for my second edition of "Alt-Everything?"

The title essay is a history of the formulation of countercultural thought in the U.S.  A segment of the essay concentrates on the 1950s.  The old stuff in this photo with a couple of hep cats seems apropos. My daughter's photo, which I'll have to steal.

We'll see.

I'm making some other revisions to my work at the moment, adding, subtracting, etc.

Seems like the right thing to do.



When all else fails, talk about the weather.

Portland's 10-day forecast.

Holy smokes!


Saturday, June 20, 2015


With all the loud cheering I'm hearing from Providence Park down the street, Portland better be winning its match with Houston tonight by at least 1-0.

I'm not gonna look it up, see how it went, who won, why, how, etc.

Because I don't care.

Go Timbers!


C'mon, Man!

Hey, it's baseball, but where's the sporting spirit?

The perfect game was ruined by a cheap ploy.  You never-ever step into a pitch and take the free pass--hit by pitch--when your opponent is working on you with two outs in the 9th, a strike away.

Either hit the goddamn ball or not, especially when you're down by six runs and he's been brilliant and you haven't!

For arrogance this surpasses even the long-ball watchers who jack a homer only to watch the ball sail over the fence before trotting around the bases like Reggie Jackson, smearing it in the face of the pitcher.

What happened to the gentleman's game?



Holy shit, Mitt has finally said something I agree with.

Didn't think that would ever happen! I wonder if he believes it...

Of the '16  GOP candidates, Cruz is noticeably quiet.  Or I've simply missed his take.  (I'm not curious enough to look it up, either.)

This lady is likely part of Rubio's base, betcha.

Meanwhile, in Mitt's beloved Utah, a minor league baseball team has decided to forego its planned "Caucasian Heritage Night" after people said: WTF is that?

The shooter's manifesto (may not be verified).


Friday, June 19, 2015


The start of yet another weekend.

Did I miss anything earlier in the week?    Doesn't seem like anything significant happened--except more mayhem.

Oh well, maybe next week will be better.


Thursday, June 18, 2015


A friend of Round Bend Press gifted 10 ISBNs to this endeavor today.

I'm humbled.

To those among you who don't know, this is like giving life-saving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a drowning victim pulled to the shore of a vast lake--in winter--when all hope of his/her survival was theretofore lost.

We're breathing.

We'll publish at least 10 more books here in the next months (how many?) and Round Bend Press and the authors will own all of them.

Sorry Amazon, etc.

This is big business leading up to the sixth year of my derangement.

BTW, check out Round Bend Press Books.  It's not kids' stuff.


New York History

I've seen fragments of this history of New York from Steeplechase Productions off and on since it premiered on PBS in 1999, but until recently I haven't sat down and watched it with the attention it deserves.

The initial seven segments appeared pre-9/11.  Some of these I've seen, at least in part (I watched part 3 last night).

Ric Burns--Ken's younger brother--went back into the project after the towers came down and looked at their history.  I know I haven't seen that segment, but I want to work my way there chronologically.

Yep, my weekend is planned.  First-rate filmmaking.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What Debate?

All of them (including Bush) agree on handing over the largest share possible of the country's resources and public assets to private corporations and banks. All of them (including Bush) want to shred the social safety net and privatize or slash Social Security. All of them want to bust labor unions, especially teachers unions, and privatize public education in the name of "school choice."

They all favor "free trade" deals that outsource American jobs and balloon the trade deficit. All (but one) of them want to bomb or invade any nation in the world deemed a "threat." None of them see global climate change as requiring urgent measures to move the world away from fossil fuels.

They don't particularly like women's reproductive rights. They're against net neutrality and the Affordable Care Act. They've vowed never to pass a new tax on the rich or corporations. They despise the EPA, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. They're against any federal debt relief for student loans. They're against raising the minimum wage (and some of them don't even believe in the concept).

So what in terms of public policy is left to "debate?"

Joe Palermo would like to know, and so would anybody else with a lick of sense.


Monday, June 15, 2015

The Sad Part

It's a vicious circle of hypocrisy: Americans dependent on the safety net are urged to "get a job" by the same free-market system that pays them too little to avoid being dependent on the safety net.

Theft, Part 1: The Average U.S. Household Pays About $400 for Safety Net Programs for Low-Wage Workers 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, $45 billion per year in federal, state, and other safety net support is paid to workers in the bottom 20 percent of wage earners. Thus the average U.S. household is paying almost $400 to employees in low-wage industries such as food service, retail, and personal care. 

Because you can't say it too often, and because the conditions have always been there, and because I'm goddamn sickened by it.

As I look back on my own unremarkable working life in the "service industry" I'm not disinclined to blame myself for the events that led me to where I am today, but by the same token I think I was very aware of my circumstances.  Hell, maybe I lacked a sense of humor.

I rebelled early and often and I paid for it.  I couldn't have lived with myself had I not occasionally jerked myself out of certain bad circumstances or forced the hand of my various and uneven owners, largely by voicing my opinions about reality.

Pride is a powerful thing.  So I gamed the greasy spoons until I was 50, which is when I cracked up. Boy, did I hate kitchen work after that. I'd stayed in it far too long, essentially because it was easy and I couldn't think of anything else to do.

My experience in other jobs was sketchy at best and just as uninspiring.

But the bottom line is exploiters are exploiters, and damn do they like to deny it.  The sad part is they can, which is why things need to change now.

I know I would have been a better employee and person if I'd been paid more than a subsistence wage.  Like a hedge fund manager watching the ticker, I'd have greedily flipped those eggs and laughed all the way to the bank.


More Ornette

Ornette Coleman, the composer and multi-instrumentalist, died on June 11th in Manhattan. He was 85. Though health challenges in recent years had been a constant struggle, Coleman’s relevance as a visionary artist kept him at the helm of the “Change of the Century”; this jazz revolution began some 60 years ago but lives far beyond his mortal years.

The challenge Ornette posed to listeners, to musicians and to the public in a period of anxious social upheaval matched the tenor of the times. With roots in Texas blues and then years spent on the road before endeavoring deeply in the Los Angeles jazz scene, Ornette’s concepts were stirring, indeed, radical on every level. His vision of a liberated melody, harmony and rhythm, aka Harmolodics, reflected the abstract expressionist movement in visual art and yet held such a visceral connection to the blues, to African American folk forms, that it was anything but abstract. A closer listen revealed the entire spectrum of the Black experience as it pushed outward.

The rest of the story.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

What's the Matter with Wisconsin?

Having gutted public sector unions in Wisconsin, attacking organized labor in one of its proudest strongholds, Governor Scott Walker now has his sights set on another of his state’s glories, the University of Wisconsin.

His target is the entire university and college system, but what sets him off most is Wisconsin’s “flagship” campus in Madison.

Some of America’s most nefarious capitalists — the Koch Brothers, especially — are telling him what to do; and rightwing public policy think tanks, like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), are telling him how to do it.

This is the bad news.   The good news is that Walker is a flyweight – no less risible than any of the other buffoons seeking the Republican nomination for President in 2016.

Educating Wisconsin's "workforce" ought to be left to educators and not dimwits like Walker, says Andrew Levine, who has emotional ties to Madison and a wonderful ability to not mince words.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

En Madrid

Manuela Carmena, a 71-year-old retired judge who ran on an anti-austerity, anti-corruption, anti-eviction platform, is set to become the next mayor of Spain's capital, Madrid, after her leftist Ahora Madrid protest party on Thursday agreed to an alliance with the Socialist party.

Agence France-Presse reports that Carmena, who will be sworn in on Saturday, "has said that one of her first steps as mayor will be to try to prevent people from becoming homeless by doing away with evictions when possible and providing alternative accommodations when it is not."

She's kicking ass and taking names.



(Thomas Boyd photo)

T&F Champions!

Women champs!


Food and Insanity

I made a batch of pseudo BBQ boneless pork ribs yesterday.  I don't have an oven or grill so I finished them on the stove top. Not optimal, but they were pretty darn good anyway.

Simple, with a nice payoff for minimum effort.

Pretty tender.  I think I'll have some again today with another dollop of baked beans.  Store-bought, because who in the hell can bake beans without an oven?

As I type this someone across the courtyard is having an early-morning conversation with herself. Sounds like it's getting heated.

I wouldn't want to be her alter-ego about now, because that poor person is getting the worst of it.



Black lives have always mattered to white America primarily as a source of economic exploitation. And white American authorities have never been particularly squeamish about killing and maiming Black Americans in defense and advance of that exploitation. Untold millions of Black slaves were tortured and murdered so that Southern tobacco, rice, sugar and cotton planters could extract vast quantities of surplus value from them. As the historian Edward Baptist has recently shown, the violence that was systematically inflicted on Blacks in the forced labor camps of U.S. cotton slavery generated much of the economic surplus that drove the United States’ emergence as a modern capitalist and industrial state before the U.S. Civil War.

Paul Street scores with another amazing essay at CounterPunch.


Friday, June 12, 2015

The Cost of Corruption

The time has come (it's past due like a lot of people's rent) for a new approach to housing the poor.

Many politicians and their subalterns haven't fully grasped the scope of the problem, to be sure, but many people around the country know the score. However, those people are rarely in a position to impact the crisis. Sometimes they work for organizations that poke at the problem, hoping it will go away; more often they erect the "services" panacea--that is, extra levels of bullshit one must navigate in order to get out of the rain.

Frances Fox Piven called it "regulating the poor."

The homeless numbers shoot up even as organizations like Portland's Central City Concern, in concert with the politicians and developers, toy with the problem--the 30% solution, wherein a federal subsidy is handed to the "non-profit" (this particular one has a $30 million a year budget and employs 400, which is to say it is, unfortunately, "too big to fail") to nibble at the edges of a profound problem.

After a long wait, and for approximately a third of your income if you have one, CCC might have a place for you--but more likely, because the entire enterprise is a numbers game, it will not.

And the numbers that really count--that is to say dollars--are very sweet for an outfit like CCC, which gets to charge "market rates" for its units. Who determines those rates?  Why other landlords, of course, at the beck-and-call of a government that says it's perfectly reasonable to pay a full third of your limited income for shelter.

Talk about a capitalist construct!

Multi-millionaires, or simply higher-income workers in general, don't do it, but the poor and shrinking middle-class are expected to. A person making the dough can eschew luxury and get along fine; the poor cannot eschew the basics.

The percentage the poor pay for the basics is always higher than what a well-off and frugal worker pays for basics.

The poverty industry is one helluva racket.

Homeless shelters pick up some of the slack in the burgeoning homeless equation, but as any self-respecting homeless person will tell you the shelters are overcrowded, frequently dangerous, and a poor alternative to sleeping under the stars, unless it is freezing outside.

But of course the problem is compounded by more inanity.  You can't sleep in the park. Why not?  Don't ask, move along.

And we all know what that boils down to, right?  People don't like to think about the homeless, and they absolutely loathe looking at them.  Never mind it's midnight and the taxpayers are mostly in bed snoring.  The very thought--someone is sleeping in my park!!!--gives them nightmares.

Poor people!!  Eeeeeeeeek.

So the cops are paid to protect the rose bushes and the sweet dreams of the comfortably-bedded, not the outlaw campers.  The cops will tell campers it's too dangerous to sleep in the park.  But is it as dangerous as the shelter?

How about the jail, where the camper will end up if he ignores the guy with the billy club?

The poor have few options.  For every unit that is part of a political plan to merge so-called "affordable" housing with the "community" at-large, two more homeless people appear.

Somewhere along the line the meaning of the terms "low-cost" and "affordable" became skewed. For low-wage earners there is no such thing as affordable housing at this critically-late date.

The terms are simply jargon now, codespeak among politicians, developers and poverty technocrats cashing in on our deliberately-designed inequity, the corrupt system.

Which brings me to this 2012 history of rooming houses in the Northwest.  Bring them back.


NHL Portland?

Is Portland about to get a National Hockey League franchise?

The original pro hockey team in Portland was called the "Buckaroos."

The current team, for junior players under 19, is called the "Winterhawks."

Interesting.  We'll see how it shakes.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Deadly Things

A quiet meeting this past March in Saudi Arabia, and a recent anonymous leak from the Israeli military, set the stage for what may be a new and wider war in the Middle East.

Conn Hallinan at CounterPunch.

Nowadays, official killing demands the nurturing of an elite esprit-de-corps among the killers. Their work must be done in strict secrecy so we, the public, can remain ignorant and “safe in our beds” while the killer elite remain aloof and unaccountable. Furthermore, it’s important to be able to easily marginalize those of us deemed by the killer elite and their promoters to be overly-delicate, moral scolds.

John Grant at CounterPunch.



Source: Esquire


RIP, Ornette Coleman

 (Photo by Lee Santa, NYC, 1970)

Learning by ear, he played alto and then tenor saxophone in rhythm-and-blues and society bands around Texas, backing up vocalists and practicing the honking, gutbucket style that made stars out of Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb. But he had already become entranced by the new kind of jazz known as bebop, and by Parker’s heady, imaginative phrasing.

In 1949, he joined Silas Green From New Orleans, a popular traveling minstrel-show troupe on its last legs. He was fired in Natchez, Miss., he said, for trying to teach bebop to one of the other saxophonists.

In Natchez, he joined the band of the blind blues singer Clarence Samuels. While on tour with the group, he said, he was beaten by a gang of musicians outside a dance hall in Baton Rouge, La., for playing strangely; as the climax of a story he would repeat ever after in variations, they threw his saxophone down the street, or down a hill, or off a cliff.

The rest of the NYT obit.

See Lee Santa's photos of Ornette Coleman and other jazz greats, and read his collection of favorite anecdotes from his life as a jazz fan/photog.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Poet Laureate

As if reading my subconscious mind, RP Thomas sent me this link re: the new US Poet Laureate.  I'd noted the announcement earlier and never got around to posting it as I brooded about my lost Bloggie all day.

Can a man be a blogger without a Bloggie?  Can he be a man?  Half a man?  Half man, half something wild and unknown somehow connected to the blogging self?

Thanks, RP.


Lost Friend

(Photo by Bloggie)

I guess I was in more than just a daze as I trudged through the Washington Square Mall yesterday, distracted by the shiny merchandise and the sheer terror induced by my surroundings.

On my quest to find a new pair of eyeglasses in the wasteland of an American mall, I managed to screw up my existence.

Apparently I became so crazed I lost track of my Bloggie!  It is missing, and I'm thinking it must have fallen out of my pocket during my bus ride to or from the hellish place.



Here, There and Everywhere

The FBI agents who broke the International Football Federation scandal in late May by getting a bunch of foreigners arrested in Switzerland are naturally convinced that their sole purpose is to combat corruption. American ideologues who advocate “R2P” – the “right and responsibility to protect” – have no doubt that U.S. armed intervention is a suitable way to protect human rights. Air Force officers who bomb people in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen take it for granted that they are eliminating terrorism.

After all, bad things like corruption, violations of human rights, terrorism, exist in the world. Wasn’t the United States of America created by the Founding Fathers, if not by God, to rid the world of bad things? FBI agents, mainstream editorialists, Air Force pilots, all enshrouded like space-walkers in the isolating cocoon of American self-righteousness, are not equipped to doubt their own good intentions.

Trouble is, a growing majority of people in the world outside that cocoon definitely have their doubts.

Diana Johnstone hammers away at the hypocrisy.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Growing Small

I went out to Tigard on a city bus this morning and picked up a pair of glasses at this huge mall called Washington Square.

There's a Washington Square in San Francisco and one in New York, and likely in several other cities.  This place is not like any of them.

I'd never been there before and I'll never return if I can help it.

I'm still trying to get the creepiness of the experience out of my system this evening.

It had been a long, long time since I'd been in a mall, so the experience threw me into cultural shock.

Or was it financial shock...

I had to wait an hour or so for my glasses, so I found the most appealing spot for my sensibilities in the entire, vast wasteland, which was Dick's Sporting Goods. I'd never been in a Dick's Sporting Goods store before today.

Place felt like it was designed to sap the appeal of sports as its first function.

I felt more of my once great love for sports bleeding out of my body. I grew very tired, like the essence was being drained from my being--like I might collapse right there among the fly rods and golf clubs.

I looked at the guns, which sort of scared me. What would I do with one of those?  I was in a mall, after all.  It was a sick thought, one I would not have had but for recent news stories.

I found an exit.  I needed air.  I watched a semi trailer fasten at a loading dock.  That was interesting for a few moments--something familiar from my past work-life.

I asked a passerby for the time.  She answered reluctantly, like she thought I was a nuisance. Indeed, perhaps I am.

Earlier, I'd looked without success for a wall clock in Dick's, thinking it must be true.  They don't want you to know what time it is when you're trapped in the store.  You might see the time and realize you have to be somewhere else at that very moment.

I walked the length of the mall for the third or fourth time, my eyes roving for the hidden clock. Nothing. Until the perturbed lady told me it was 11. I knew it was later than that.

I wanted the exact time, dammit.

I thought of all the awful things that might happen in the next Dick's Sporting Goods company meeting when the manager confronted the retail clerk about a missed sales opportunity.  Me roaming around the store unattended.

You let him walk away.  You're fired!
Gimme a break.  The guy didn't have any money.  I could tell by looking at him!
Alright.  You can keep your job for now.  Don't let it happen again though.
That clown will never be back.

My glasses were finally ready. I put them on and walked to the transit station.  I waited 10 min. for a bus, and when it came I got on and the driver got off and the bus sat there for another 15 min.

I read, testing my new bifocals.  They seemed to work fine, as I soon discovered the book I am reading is quite good.  I had wondered about that, not knowing because I wasn't seeing all the words.

I got off the bus near Portland State.  That is when I noticed something about bifocals that I wasn't aware of--when you walk and look down at your feet while striding along you seem to shrink.

It's an odd sensation.  I felt about half my actual height, which is over six feet.  I seemed smaller than usual, and everyone and all of the inanimate objects around me appeared to be taller.

A hedgerow which I know is only as tall as my hips suddenly appears to be shoulder-high as I walk past it.  My legs have shrunk!  It was taking me a long time to gain distance, like a a kid walking with adults.

I'm seeing the world for the first time like a little person, I realized.

I had become one of the little people.

When I got home I took the glasses off and I have not put them back on.  I have returned to normal size for now, but I'm not looking forward to tomorrow.  If I put the bifocals on when I'm outside the world may crush me.


Morning Errand

I head out to Lens Crafters at Washington Square (all the way to bumfrickin' Tigard) this morning to be fitted for a new pair of specs.

Cool.  Be able to see again.

Hope I'm not disappointed with what I see.


Monday, June 8, 2015

The Book and the Reviewer Suck

The new bio is panned, sort of, which is fine, and Edmund Morris is vilified (which is plain wrong), and Ronald Reagan comes out smelling like a rose.  And we know that ain't right.

Here you have a piece-of-garbage review of a piece of garbage, something conjured from a wall of mirrors--a post-post-post rightist method-mythology.

Jesus Christ, who buys this shit anymore?  The current GOP lineup of clowns, their 1 percent benefactors and the 20 percent of American voters who remain stupid enough to follow them?

How does that add up to a profitable book?  O mystery!

The bio sounds awful, the premise is sordid (Reagan as appealing and cognizant of reality?); the review is secretly ejaculatory (the reviewer loves Reagan's legacy and cums on it), and ahem, Morris was right despite this jerk's argument.

Reagan was the first clown-car driver of the right-wing revolution that has since placed this country unceremoniously in the dark night of its demise--with no trickle-down jobs, no livable wage (that wasn't true 35 years ago when Ronnie set his task to fuck up the unions), and perpetual war-for-profit.

Let me put it to y'all this way.  There are many more billionaires in the US now after Reagan, and so many more ultra-poor that you'd better hide your shit in a hurry before your neighbor steals it.

Morris was advanced $3 mil for his access and truthful peek at Ronnie.  He had to produce something, as unsavory as he knew it would be.  He essentially said there was no there there.

Hell, anybody with sense knew that in real-time.  So why would anyone bother to read another bio of Ronnie?


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Paul Street

As I said to a friend I ran into after Sanders’ talk last Saturday, “how is Bernie gonna sheep-dog me back into the Democratic Party when he can’t even bring out the Dennis Kucinich pie chart” (the diagrammatic presentation of the U.S. federal budget showing the disproportionate share of taxpayer spending that goes to the military)? “I’ve got to have my pie.”

Sanders’ silence on “defense” spending undermines his claim to embrace the “Scandinavian model” of social democracy. As Sanders never notes, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have tiny military budgets. They would never be able to fund the health care and safety-net programs that Sanders says he admires (without noting that the “Nordic Model” countries have been moving in a neoliberal direction for years) if they were saddled with military expenditures on the proportionate scale of the U.S.--Paul Street.

While the mainstream media says Sanders will push Hillary to the left, yet another CounterPuncher says it ain't gonna work that way.


Triple Crown Winner

First since 1978, going away.

As recently as this, another view.


LOL, Segura

Just had a good laugh while watching the Brewers vs. Twins. A good laugh is something baseball doesn't always offer.

Milwaukee's Jean Carlos Enrique Segura falls back after a close inside pitch appears to hit him on his right hand.  Slo-mo shows the Twins' pitcher hit Segura's bat mid-barrel instead. The ball glances into the catcher's forearm before falling harmlessly away--foul ball! Right?

No, the ump without the benefit of the replay has bought the act and motions a hit batsman, sending the hitter down to first.

But wait!   Segura must feel guilty.  He stops halfway to first for "treatment."

A pair of trainers come out of the Brewers' dugout and begin working on the presumed hand "injury" for five minutes as the play is reviewed upon Twins manager Paul Molitor's appeal.  Segura is playing it for all it's worth, working the hand like it's badly damaged and he might not survive the ordeal.  You see, he really wants to head down to first base.

Meanwhile, the catcher is actually banged up a little and has rubbed off his forearm bruise.  The crowd has seen the replay and grows agitated.  Many, like me, are laughing.

Ha!  Borrowed from soccer--the fake injury!  With a name like Jean Carlos Enrique Segura and given his improv performance chops, maybe the 25 year-old Dominican ought to move his act to the futbol pitch.

Or Hollywood.

Segura! Segura! Segura!

Eso fue loco, hombre.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Don't Go, Jon

Jon Stewart was definitely on his game last night.


The Word

Andrew Levine, with his undercurrent of wisecracking humor and flashes of clarity and insight, helps me through my days.

This one ought to be turned into a movie for the masses.


Notes from the Academy

Twenty-eight years ago Russell Jacoby argued in The Last Intellectuals that the post-WWII expansion of higher education in the U.S. absorbed a generation of radicals who opted to become professors rather than freelance intellectual troublemakers. The constraints and rewards of academic life, according to Jacoby, effectively depoliticized many professors of leftist inclinations. Instead of writing in the common tongue for the educated public, they were carrot and sticked into writing in jargon for tiny academic audiences. As a result, their political force was largely spent in the pursuit of academic careers.

Jacoby acknowledges that universities gave refuge to dissident thinkers who had few other ways to make a decent living. He also grants that careerism did not make it impossible to publish radical work or to teach students to think critically about capitalist society. The problem is that the demands of academic careers made it harder to reach the heights achieved by public intellectuals of the previous generation. We thus ended up with, to paraphrase Jacoby, a thousand leftist sociologists but no C. Wright Mills.

The merely academic, by Michael Schwalbe.