Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Fin d'Annee Sentiment

Nina Simone: For All We Know, 1961

For all we know
We may never meet again
Before we go
Make this moment live again
We won't say goodbye
Until the last minute
I'll hold out my hand
And my heart will be in it
For all we know
This may only be a dream
We come and we go
Like the ripples in a stream
So baby, love me, love me tonight
Tomorrow was made for some
Oh, but tomorrow
But tomorrow may never, never come
For all we know
Yes, tomorrow may never, never come
For all we know

- words:Sam M. Lewis;music: J. Fred Coots (Coots also wrote the music for Santa Claus is Coming to Town.) That's Nina's longtime collaborator Al Schackman on guitar. For All We Know is the first song they ever played together, back in '57. Bobby Hamilton drums and Chris White provides bass. The same lineup played at Newport in '60. Since the song was her set closer, what better way to say goodbye to '06. Best to you.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday Card Season


And let the Peace we're supposed to remember at this time of year truly find you.
(The card was devised and executed by a future graphic artist enrolled in the New Bedford Art Museum's afterschool program. I think he's eight. Just in case the wider world of the internets has trouble remembering that the biggest city near my mooring has something besides tragic bar imbroglios. The captains of the local Salvation Army corps are Gerald & Debra Morgan. Yep, New Bedford actually has two Captain Morgans.
Everytime I hear the Talk Radio Generation and their crossed-arms complaining cant about "whatsamatter with kids today." Everytime the Viagra Generation throws malnourishing snacks, PlayStations and DVDs at the problem. Everytime X generation is frustrated that the previous two boorish nitwits ruined our ecology, our economy, and our collective soul in the selfish pursuit of capitalism and war. Whenever I get discouraged by my own gloomy responsibilities...
Kids still wear hightops and skateboard and read comicbooks and listen to music their folks don't understand. And for a little while, they brandish a glimmer of the future: the tangible dreams, the demand for progress, education, and improvement. And hope.
And with so many "manger scenes" demanding attention among lighted deer and blow-up HomerSimpsonSanta figures, you'd think someone might notice that kid, and what a kid -- ANY kid -- represents. Happy Holidays.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Soles'n'Bowls

  • Guns and strippers will always make the front page, first story in the newscast. And they’ll go right on with Full Coverage© of the Breaking Story™ for a week, all the while complaining that we spend too much time on the bad and not enough on the good.
  • Guns and strippers are really great timekillers. You can do sidebars on the NRA and assault weapons, special reports on the families of sex trades workers, meaningful moments on mental illness and gun permitting, a commentary on bravery, a station editorial praising the police, a scathing rebuttal on community standards. I’m sorry I’m not an assignment editor now.
  • When I was younger, I had “an uncle” in the Massachusetts State Senate. He always told me interesting stories about Massachusetts politics, and instilled in me an understanding of local politics. One of his favorite lines was, “When I retire, I’m going out as Mayor of Fall River.” So...
  • There’s a “speak your mind loudly and rashly without thinking much” guy running for Mayor in Fall River. He’s honest about his service to the city as City Councilor. He’s honest about his success at the American Dream (He owns a restaurant). He’s honest about his heritage (He’s a Portuguese immigrant.). He’s honest about his ambition (He wants to be mayor.) He’s actually argumentative and chillingly simplistic. He should learn that he’s really just candid, inconsiderate, and tactless. Which I guess means honest in the SouthCoast.
  • This journal was cited by Keri Rodrigues from local radio. Luckily, every six months or so, I have my finger on the pulse. Hanx, K-Rod!
  • And don't forget: Tonight starts Hanukkah. To keep you up on the latest swing in CHanukkah Caroling, H.M.S. Impossible presents Kenny Ellis:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

For those Googling© "New Bedford" to find "strip club shooting" stories...

New Bedford and surrounding environs are just as shocked by the violence you're probably searching for right now. This is not a part of our culture. Two isolated incidents of unstable people perpetrating unspeakable acts in a year is two too many as far as this sailor is concerned.
But be very sure of this:
New Bedford is one of America's first cities, and (for a few years) was actually its wealthiest. From its earliest inhabitants, the Wampanoags, to its most recent arrivals, the Mayans, we who have dropped anchor here have always found its harbor pleasant, its winds reliable, and its fields worth working.
You out in Montana or Florida or California surely have your moments that might shame you. But we all share the moments that shape us.
From the crosstrees here on Apponogansett harbour, I have been so humbled and enheartened by the outpouring of support I received just as I continue to recuperate from Lyme disease and kidney failure. I am glad every day that I was served by Saint Luke's Hospital in New Bedford. Every one who helped me -- from Emergency Room personnel to doctor's receptionists -- worked with passionate professional eagerness. To this day I haven't been able to properly thank everyone who took the time to send regards. I have been embraced by the extraordinary arts community (of which I have always been a fringe actor/director/writer) and I add my voice to theirs. We urge the world to look at New Bedford and remember us, not those headlines. Remember the woodworker who devised a lasting memorial to his beloved in the form of a travelling museum exhibit. We hope that you remember the many souls who stood in the cold to shout down civil rights abusers -- whether over last weekend or over the last two centuries. We want you to remember that our museums look to the future by providing our young people education and opportunity. We want the world to know that we are pulling off economic recovery thanks to stubborn creativity and a love of the hard work it takes.
We urge you to continue Googling© "New Bedford."
(or you might start by clicking some of the links in this entry)

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm a square-rig sailor and a hockey guy who appreciates redemption. The news about Laura Gainey pains me greatly. She was washed off the Picton Castle Friday night, prompting a two-day search of the Northwest Atlantic. Laura's dad is Bob Gainey, a lifelong Hab and now Canadiens' G.M. The Picton Castle (homeport, Lunenburg NS) is one of the sweetest barques a-sail, with a crew every other ship envies and a terrific support organization of professionals and volunteers. As the search continues, my thoughts are with you all, just a few hundred nautical miles to your west. Peace.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Soles'n'Bowls

"People of integrity don't force their beliefs on others, they make sure that others can live by different beliefs they may have," Mitt Romney, 1994
I am not a Captain.
I am not legally permitted to be the commanding officer of a vessel. But you can trust me to plot a course, steer the boat, set sails, and even enact repairs if needed. Hand reef and steer. I would be Captain without benefit of title. Now, for many people, that’s just fine. A lot of folk own their boat and act as “Skipper” without ever even knowing that there’s an option to be an official, Coast Guard-certified Captain. Because of certain circumstances (owners who wouldn’t log hours, being at sea at time of testing, returning to port and getting a real job, etc.) I never got a Captain’s license.
You can make a darned good skipper without a license. It’s a legal issue, simply semantics to those unfamiliar with maritime law. But I should’ve gotten my license. I would be more legitimate. I enjoy being Mate of the Third Watch, but Captain would get me a better salary, and … respect.
There’s a problem with a legal issue here on The Beach. The legal issue of marriage. There’s a gang that believes gay people shouldn’t have the same rights as straight church-going types. Y’see, the Massachusetts Constitution never said “Gays can’t marry.” So gay couples can marry. And do. But some people, whether because they believe biblical injunctions against homosexuality, or whether they reject the othered as a general rule, want to change the Commonwealth’s Constitution by taking away one group's right to marry. They think that the government should recognize a special kind of ticket for gay couples, and a specialer, more legitimate kind of ticket for straight couples.
The gay marriage opponents wanted to put a question to ban gay marriage on the next ballot. “Let the people decide,” they say. They argue that the legislature should be fined for not voting on their proposal that gay marriage should be banned.
Well, they’re wrong.
The legislature chose to recess and ignore their constitutionally unsound request. Plus, the Legislative Branch is only providing what it‘s there to provide: a "check and balance" to the politician in the Executive office (see above) who’s using this issue cynically and politically. Because even he knows you can’t leave a civil right to popular vote.
Tomorrow, the misguided who insist they have the right to take away others’ rights are going to stand at New Bedford City Hall, beat their bibles (or whatever) and hide behind their ill-conceived notion of a democratic theocracy, flagrantly and proudly indicating their basic misunderstanding of The Process. As usual, their most dignified response is jumping up and down, stamping their little feet on the deck.
And hope that some people who love each other, pay taxes, raise children, and contribute to society get to stand on the dock.
I originally wrote a big long diatribe against these individuals, but I’ll avoid pirating their selfish incivility. In fact, I plan to watch their "demonstration" and try to understand their desire to waste their energies.

I’ll be standing across the street with my arms crossed.
Because the temptation to throw something may be too strong.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Soles'n'Bowls

A few years ago, I spent about a week living aboard at a marina in Connecticut. The folks who docked there all season were upset about the future new management of the marina, who were going to take away the convenient soda vending machine located near the convenient shower facilities. In fact, they were concerned that these new owners were going to take away the shower facilities. A couple of the live-aboards, including a year-rounder who worked as a harbor pilot, laughed this controversy off as ridiculous. "Sure," he mused over a gin-tonic, "That soda machine is convenient, well-stocked with plenty of ginger ale and other mixers, including the cola that cures hangovers when applied correctly. But the new management isn't taking over until next season. What's the foul? Plus, those lubbers can pick up whatever pop they drink at the convenience store on the way home."
Well, up here in the Commonwealth where I find myself docked, the current management has decided to take away somebody's soda machine. Let me explain: Mitt Romney, the current lame-duck Governor of Massachusetts, has slashed funding to a wide range of programs, using his "9-C powers" (which may or may not be constitutional). War memorials, healthcare, safety, housing, the arts. Look here. (It's the Mass.gov site.) Maybe he's trying to punish the voters who didn't vote for his hand-picked successor in the last election. Maybe he thinks Americans are so stupid that they'll elect him President in '08. Maybe he's trying to get the Massachusetts legislature to reconvene and get one last ditch effort to put the gay marriage ban on the ballot so some people who don't understand Constitutional democracy can use their supposed rights to deny the rights of others.
The local media tends to stay fixated on the simple cuts, like local theaters, development offices, and war memorials.
The fearful and incurious use this as an opportunity to bash nonprofits. Those knuckledraggers claim they don't want their tax money going to arts they can't understand. "If them artsy-fartsy thee-ay-ters and museums can't stay open, it's "cuz they don't appeal to mass audiences." In the SouthCoast, some people really believe that (a) the grants that arts programs receive come directly out of their pockets, and (b) those artsy-fartsy types are failing, and shouldn't be rewarded for failure, and thus shouldn't get those moneys.
Here's a sloppy little math lesson: Let's use the New Bedford Art Museum as an example. They'll lose $50,000 if Romney's cuts stand. If there are (2004 numbers here) 2,660,046 taxpayers in Massachusetts (yeah, I know, that's federal taxpayers, but stay with me here), each of them gave 1.87 cents to NBAM.
So don't start whining to me that they're taking money out of your pockets. 1.9 cents isn't money. Not compared to the $3 NBAM entrance fee. Or free if you're a member. Or anyone can get in for FREE on AHA! night, the second Thursday of every month. (They let in 150 people free on a slow AHA! so that's NBAM paying two staff people for 4 hours so 150 people can see the place for free.) And you wanna not give them 2 cents? Because you don't understand watercolor paintings? Or watercolor isn't popular enough?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
(Oh, by the way, the new management at that marina got new soda vending machines.)

"At Dusk" by Mike Mazer, courtesy American Society of Marine Artists. See Mike's scenes of New Bedford at NBAM through December 31.