Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks for Appropriate Gratitude

I have been thinking recently of appropriate and meaningful tributes, and how candles on a sidewalk or a flashy mySpace page are not appropriate and serve only to announce: "Forget the dead guy. Look at how much I am grieving, world!!"
The eulogies I have delivered here recently for my pets and companions -- my shipmates -- do not exempt me from such indictments of self-indulgence : I too hope that someone many years away might ... say something nice.
But NOT build a cairn of stuffed animals and plastic flowers.
A stone's throw from my aunt's home in the South End of Fall River, there's a veteran's memorial to Army Corporal David L. Miller. Every so often, while doing laundry at the laundromat across the street, I'd walk over and see it.
Veteran's memorials are everywhere. There's one just a half-mile from stately Goon Manor, way out here in the country.
But the fact that they are ubiquitous does not diminish their significance. In fact, it reminds us of and legitimizes our gratitude as a people. On a piece of land, we saw fit to thank a member of our armed forces whose final sacrifice ensured that we could.
Shamrock at Fall River-tastic has assembled a brilliant post and leads a lively discussion about that very memorial, and how elected representatives took that memorial, relocated it, and placed another there, dedicated to Paul McGovern, who owned McGovern's Restaurant up the street.
I commented to Shamrock this way:

I "grew up" in Tiverton and I think that I remember being at McGovern's restaurant twice.However: Every moment of my life --whether I'm on American soil or not -- I enjoy the freedoms and comforts and rights and privileges that Corporal Miller devoted his life to protecting and ensuring. Thank you for pointing all of this out, Shamrock.

And I mean that.
And I also mean this: I often read that Paul McGovern sponsored the appearance of Tall Ships during Fall River Celebrates America. If he was a sponsor from 1989 to 1996, I am thankful to Mr. McGovern because I participated during those Parades of Tall Ships, as a broadcast commentator or (more significantly and more often), as TallShip™ crew.
If the Bounty benefited directly from his largess (I don't know, maybe he donated food), I would probably have been the first crew member to suggest putting a small and tasteful plaque in the galley thanking him.
I would not have put a four-foot high granite monument midships, to replace the ship's roster commemorating the original Eighteenth Century crew.
But I do wish that I had the opportunity for a harbor sail, a hearty handshake, and sincere "Thank you."
And while out there, we could both thank Corporal Miller.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks for Growing Awareness

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
25 November

By resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999, the General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and invited governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize activities designated to raise public awareness of the problem on that day. Women's activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981. This date came from the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).
On 20 December 1993 the General Assembly adopted
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (A/RES/48/104).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks for Sidewalk Sanctity

I was Catholic Ivy League. In hoc sidewalk vinces ... I suppose might be an appropriate slogan.

Friday, November 21, 2008


  • from BBC News: A teenage student attempting to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world has admitted he is "a little crazy" to do it at his age.
    Michael Perham, 16, from Potters Bar in Hertfordshire is the youngest person to have sailed across the Atlantic alone. He set out on his latest voyage from Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, on his Open 50 Racing Yacht on Saturday morning.
    He will be alone at sea for over four months and his only contact with family will be through satellite link-ups
  • I think he's a little crazy for leaving any place named "Bar." Particularly if circumnavagating alone. A Voyage for Madmen, indeed.
  • At least there'll be something to post on your MyFacePageBookTube, Mike. Actually, Mike's site is TotallyMoney, but while the world is watching him (and you can too, click here or check The Gam every few bells), the NY Times published this article, Teenagers' Internet Socializing Not A Bad Thing." It's anecdotal, a little condescending, and reminds me of the usual story that you read every few years that relates condescending anecdotes about television, telephones, rock'n'roll, smoking, jazz, cell phones, long hair, Socialism, punk rock, piercings, video games, tattoos, comic books, dancing, Republicanism ...
  • However: if spending all of your time online is okay, when do you have time to learn to tie a tie or tuck in your shirt or discreetly hide your gum or pleasantly avoid incarceration?
  • Because of my apparently rare and obscure medical condition (my inability to walk through walls or become invisible at will), my team of nephrological, endocrinological, and opthalmalogic experts suggested that I get a flu shot. A compliant patient am I, so I had some SpongeBob pajama-clad eight-year old at the medical multiplex poke me with a pharmaceutical company-manufactured immune system enhancer to inflict pain upon and immobilize my left arm. So that I couldn't pick up any flus with it.
  • This is the only time I have suffered any negative effects from a "flu shot."
  • Oh, and I do realize that I have just made myself a target of Google™ "flu symptom" searches and we'll show up as a blip or something on the new Google™ Flu Trends site. Which, rather than track actual flu outbreaks, tracks how many people have typed the words "flu" and "symptoms" into their Google™ thing.
  • So, in light of the week's unpleasantnesses:

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Maybes. Baybelline. B'leen. When I first met Maybelline, she was a fearful and filthy grayish mass of matted dreadlocks and mill detritus. Her brother, Pooh, was barely any cleaner, although he purred more readily and didn't spend his days hidden under a bookshelf. The two had been cared for by a ceramics artist in an underused mill.
I can't offhandedly deny the significance of any of this. Even the fact that art supplies were stored under the bookshelf where she chose to hide. Even recently, she would crawl under there to be quiet, brood, evade the annoying and playful others -- perhaps even to recall her antisocial art school days. Long after she had eschewed the unkempt and unfriendly hipster lifestyle and preened herself clean and soft; soft in another, much softer world.
Sure, I'll freely anthropomorphize and poetically endow my animal companions with traits that may or may not be honestly present or possible. (But then again, it's taken me a long while and some serious persistence to stop calling a boat "she." )
Maybelline was the last of the Five Minnesotans, the cats who allowed me to share their quarters with my Beloved. Rescued with her brother from a horrible fate in a plastic bag in a freezing Minnesota park, she could have ended up "the bitter one." But the huge all-knowing tabby overlord Mouse ("...Mouse, king of the house") and his tiny partner Tuki, and the monochromatic polydactyl feral Lucy, and even her own pathologically affable brother Pooh, would all know her as The Defiant One.
If everyone was laying in the sun, she would be behind the sofa. If everyone hid under the bed from visitors, she would be rubbing legs and acting the amiable hostess. If everyone else silently crept in and out of the litterbox attending to necessities, she would noisily scratch the sides and floor, sometimes without even utilizing the facility for its intended purpose. She would say goodbye to all of them, outlive them all. And with each removed dinner bowl, each empty place on the berber in the sunroom, she took stock of every indignity and disappointment, took a deep breath and steeled herself.

Even the new guy, Tommy, knew that he could get away with only so much.I'm not touching you...
She took the doctors' description of her stoically. She was not ever merely a "grey-and-white short-haired domestic."
She also chose to ignore his prognosis. "A yellow kitty dies," he had said, practicing his utterly incapable bedside manner, explaining the effects of liver damage. Out of sheer insolence and a month of eating and drinking and apparently evacuating bilirubin, she was no longer a "yellow kitty." But she was a much thinner shipmate, relying upon those sinewy muscles that she had developed years before (while leaping about that mill) to take her place on the bed, on the chairs, on the couch.
For years, she sat or lay on the couch between us two servile bipeds, maybe for offerings from snack plates or maybe for warmth.
Which is exactly where she ended up on Tuesday. Dignified and comfortable, she refused lunch and exhaled that breath that she had been holding.
That breath filled with the tastes of chicken and kippers and clay dust and Duluth rain.
And she left her crew alone and together in the New England sun.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Your ThirdMate Eyes a Course...

Today, I read in the online version of Fall River's Herald News that New Year's Eve celebrations in Fall River are scuttled because that stinky guy elected by the old ladies who live upstairs from the polling places says he doesn't "have the municipal or CDA resources to be able to do it."
These are the same people who went to Church to pray for that whiz-bang maverick whipsnapper Walnuts McCain and his screwball sidekick Pockets Palin. Bob Correia, similarly, is one of those politicians who not only believes that citizens should not know what their government does, he is, himself, a little unclear on all the details as well. But that's okay, because he is also oblivious to the current "Know About Your Government" fad among younger citizens, so some rules or protocols simply don't appeal or apply to him.
Especially when everyone else is dazzled by his beauty and charm, clear speaking voice, unmistakable conviviality and intimate cordiality. So obvious here:

(And, personally, I'm not fully consigned to anyone who diminutizes his own name in order to make himself "accessible." My name is PJ and my ears are bleeding...)
Where was I? Oh, right: FirstNight FallRiver Fail. The article is a beautiful eulogy, cobbled together out of the fifteen or so stories that should have run in the Herald's onion skin-and-toxic ink pages right after Christmas in order to work the Former Troy into a frenzy of nostalgia remembering its small-town love affair with one night of merriment. I can especially admire any reporter who buries the lede because he can't pass up an inappropriately juvenile banality. "Night-night," indeed.
But here's the thing:
Nearby New Bedford has an unplanned surfeit of First Night celebrations.
Sometime over the Summer in New Bedford, probably between the national favorite SummerFest and the world famous Working Waterfront Festival, somebody decided that AHA! Art·History·Architecture, the downtown business/arts/music/civic extravaganza held every second Thursday and envied and emulated all over New England, should be in charge of the New Year's Eve activities, since AHA!Art·History·Architecture is damned well-practiced and good at every other family-friendly city-promoting thing it steps in, including last year's partnership with FirstNight New Bedford.
And AHA!Art·History·Architecture isn't rife with characters, conflicts of interest, allegations of double-dipping and rumors of nepotism. So, FirstNightNewBedford was ... I don't know... advised that their services were no longer needed ?
But a month ago, FirstNight New Bedford started running press releases in the local paper, looking for volunteers, drumming up partners and sponsors. So, I went to the FNNB website, saw the tremendous list of sponsors who had already signed on, and I couldn't help but think that it was 2003.
Because that was the date on some of the pages.
I always get that FirstNight 2008/FirstNight 2009 thing all muddled because FirstNight 2008 was actually held on the last night of 2007. So who knows?
First Night started in 1976, as a capper to Boston's Bicentennial. Of course, it spread to other local towns and cities when civic leaders got sick of people asking "Didjago ta FirstNight Boston?" and eventually it became a big money-making franchise called First Night International, with dues and initiation fees, and rules and all sorts of complications that you would never dream of as you're driving home slightly buzzed and numb of extremities from your last night of the old year festivities that aren't forcibly non-alcoholic. Go ahead, stumble around their site (although I should mention a trigger warning to PTSD sufferers) and wonder how anyone would want to pay money to license the use of a confusing title that is both complicated and incorrect as well.
So, move the party.
By that, I mean either bring the kids to New Bedford or move the FirstNight over to Fall River. There's a highway, you know.

(shamrock and Tom Paine at Fall River-tastic have more)

Monday, November 17, 2008

For Evan

When I first listened to radio -- and when I started to work in it -- commercial radio was a continuous homogeneous succession of fairly sedate accent-neutral voices playing inoffensive music and reporting news, sports, and weather, with little or no editorial content.
Commercials voiced by business owners were rare and clever distractions that rewarded those sponsors who paid to humiliate themselves in the public arena in the name of retail. They did not sound professional, they had no place on the radio, and that was the joke which made those spots so effective at bringing in revenue.
Unfortunately, hearing lousy voices on the radio became commonplace, normalized. Then, radio became filled with people who had no place on the radio, mean-spirited uninformed negativists with their regionalisms and carelessness and their vulgar hollering and self-important unreasonableness.
Gosh, anyone could do that.
And anyone did.
Last Friday, local radio talk host Evan Rousseau was "laid off" from WBSM. I have no idea why, and the professional reasons I would give are probably not the actual reasons for his layoff. Evan and I worked together some, and I found Evan to be personable and affable. He throws himself into whatever he does -- radio, theater, civic activism -- with undiscerning enthusiasm.
Which I guess is the preferred contemporary alternative to "practiced cultivation."
Don't get me wrong: I know for a fact that Evan is technically competent. He worked mornings for a long time getting to know the board and idiosyncrasies at WBSM, acting as "producer" and co-host and then getting his own show. His brain is full of enough information to allow him to talk at least to the next commercial break and engage others in conversation -- or what passes for conversation on WBSM. He is a popular local personality. And he works on some community affairs with a serious dogged zeal. Which makes him a hero to the few who notice and appreciate that kind of civic-mindedness.
I couldn't listen to his show because his bizarre collection of addle-brained and fatheaded callers sometimes dimmed my glow for the Whaling City.
And ... he sounded like ... someone who had no place on the radio.
Umms and ahs and uhs and mispronunciations and inaccuracies and unsubstantiations and a just plain unpleasant voice. All of the things local radio thrives on, or seems to require these days.
Earlier this year, the news of Keri Rodrigues leaving WSAR caused great consternation. Radio discussion boards buzzed for weeks, the local newspaper ran stories, and there was no shortage of discussion, speculation, and debate over her abilities, qualifications, and future employment.
But none of that for Evan.
Is it because Evan did not address or inspire controversy the way Keri did? Because his show merely waded carefully along the shoal of safe topics that interested a very small covey of New Bedford unsophisticates?
Or is it because the "professionals" who came out so vehemently for and against Keri's place on the radio cannot appreciate Evan's place in his own town?
That says an awful lot about the people in radio.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hey, Mom...

So I saw this cat at the shelter, and I thought, well, Christmas is coming, and, if you're interested, I can ask the nice people...

(copy from the HUmane Society & Shelter - SouthCoast) Hi, we are Siamese and very sweet! We were found in an apartment all by ourselves in Fall River on 10-17-08. We are a little shy at first, (still a little unsure with whats going on) but once we get to know you, we are very affectionate and talkative! I am a 2 year old female and Lucas is my son - he is about 1 years old.

They're from Fall River, so I anticipate no language problem.

Friday, November 14, 2008


  • The scientist who claimed to have found a "dinosaur dance floor" was recently corrected by paleontologists who explained the 1000 footprints as erosion. Marjorie Chan, a researcher at University of Utah says: "I'm interested in the truth, no matter what the outcome is." In science, the outcome IS the truth, Marjorie. But then again: Utah.
  • On the other hand, Utah is nice enough to baptize people who may have died without the benefit of being part of the Mormon faith. Like Jews who died in the Holocaust, That's so-o-oo thoughtful of the Mormons.
  • Hafdis Huld will save the economy of her native Iceland if she releases her cover of Sam Brown's "Stop" like everywhere. Starting with on her next album. You may remember Hafdis before she became inescapably popular, from the Reyka vodka ads and still delightful site. Those were the days. Kerry from Red Grape Records sent me "Stop." Thanks, Kerry.
  • While I'm at it, no one will mind an ancient wheeze from my yellowing message to Kerry's partner, writer/producer/Renaissanceur Calum MacColl: "I sail traditional boats and sometimes dock at seaside music festivals, sometimes bumping into Calum's uncle Pete Seeger [Peggy's his mum, but I didn't have to tell him that]. Pete’s daughter Mika and her husband Joe live in Tiverton RI, a town I called home. So that would make Calum my half-neighbor-once-removed. I'm surprised we never met."
  • I'll drop a name anywhere. Don't get me going on about the Malvina Reynolds connections.
  • Sam Brown, who worked with Jools Holland, did a duet with the original Marillion's Fish, which is funny because Fish is the name of another band on Red Grape.
  • Remember those holiday hahas you felt when you first laid eyes on the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 take on Pia Zadora's breakthrough performance in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians ? Of course you do. And ao do the folks who made that and now that making fun of movies is universally known as "riffing" they've gone and made it all over again under their Cinematic Titanic aegis. See? Right here.
  • Strangest thing: my machinery played Hafdis' "Stop" and segued into Lili Haydn's "Someday" from her debut. And then into k.d. lang's cover of Julie London's "Don't Smoke In Bed." A really nice set. The songs.
  • And yes, I know that it's a Peggy Lee tune, but c'mon: I don't immediately think "Peggy Lee" about anything.
  • Except maybe paint.
  • Really: what is that white? Peggy Lee White.
  • Oh, and here's the overwrought melodramatic Eighties video of Sam Brown singing the song that Ms. Huld has recorded for a Mercedes ad, which I've found myself humming while replacing the storm windows.

  • Oh, and Pete Seeger and his grandson Tao are performing, part of the ongoing benefit for the Ritz Theater in Newburgh NY.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

yeah, um, so, that Africa thing...

The New York Times has a neat "exposé" abut how everyone was fooled into believing that story about Sarah Palin not knowing that Africa is a continent. Turns out it was the guy wearing the elegant straw-weave lampshade in the above picture which accompanies the article. As far as I can tell, it was all a failed attempt to get the attention of Hollywood, where he could make teevee shows based on characters who say ludicrous but believable things like that. The woman responsible for another well-publicized hoax (a run for the vice-presidency by a semi-literate, criminally opportunistic backwater narcissist) blames "bloggers" for lying and making her look dumb. Now, the Times is her favorite newspaper, you betcha.
No mention was made of the witch-burning cult or the secessionist group or the callous, ignorant and insensitive remarks demeaning civil rights and questioning patriotism. Or the degradation of political discourse by supporters of the party that allowed her to monopolize the public's attention when it is painfully obvious that the public -- ALL the public -- deserve so so so much better.
The Times also had no problem putting an advertisement for a "Holocaust historical" right there on the webpage next to the story. The film is based on a book by the celebrated John Boyne, who has just published his own Mutiny on the Bounty fan-fic, about a fourteen year-old described as "captain's valet" or "cabin boy." First: everybody knows that any self-respecting fictional cabin boy is supposed to be a girl (cf.: starboard), but there you are. It also appears that Eighteenth Century kids had to be pickpockets and prostitutes because of the lack of texting and Xboxes. Some of the reviews make it sound like MuTEENy on the Bounty. There's nice stuff about the commander. But with "important dark elements," which I assume are sex and/or violence.
The author claims that he "...loved writing the book. There was something very freeing about writing through the voice of an uneducated 14 year old at the end of the 18th century. It allowed me to say anything, write anything, even make up words if I wanted to."
That is obviously what I'm doing wrong as a not-yet-published nautical historical fictionalist. Trying to remember all the detaily language about British Navvy boatiness, trying to recreate the actual setting and atmosphere just as my time-ravaged brain recalls it. And here's this famous author guy just "making up" his own words. You can read his journal entry here.
At least we know where they might film the movie-izement of it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What's the DHL

Smiles: False Advertising.I live on a former cattle ranch.
All right. It was once a series of huge grazing pastures for milk cows, complete with barns and sheep and dogs and cats and swampers and rusty antiquated equipment that was evocative of a simpler time but very hard to actually identify. Because that's what New England was for a really long time. Eventually, the cows moved to their retirement villas in Naples and the farm became a grape-producing concern with hundreds of acres of vines.
At least I don't have to mow it.
It's probably obvious, what with it being the Twenty-First Century and all, that the vineyard relies upon delivery services now and again for supplies.
And we get deliveries from L.L. Bean, Science City, and Powell's Books.
It's always a pleasure to meet the drivers of the UPS and Federal Express trucks.
They're pleasant and capable of comprehending complex instructions like "Put it in the office" or "Leave it on the stairs." Plus, there's Cheryl, the English dressage rider and bartender who drove for FedEx. And probably modeled.
But the DHL drivers were not that kind of lot.
Seriously. I have watched as these tools peel out and leave divots in our crushed quahog shell/gravel road. I have seen them leave those pre-printed "call us for your stuff" notes that say that "no one was at the address." While I was at the address. I would sometimes see them pull into our large driveway and do nothing. Not even eat lunch.
I can understand appreciating the view-- which is, frankly, spectacular. Verdant vines and extravagant leaves hugging our rustic grapestakes, those cryptic numbers on the endposts, ancient crossarms dripping with foliage and sometimes a tantalizing glimpse of shining bunches of Gewürztraminer . I could see stopping for a moment on your delivery route to catch a breath of the sweet air, to even just imagine the rhythm of a living and productive organism, a family's farm.
I don't take it for granted.
So, it really comes as no surprise and even as a small relief, and it doesn't particularly bother me that they won't be showing up anymore.
I do, however, hope that those guys find better employment in a field that doesn't require whatever it is that was so difficult about being a DHL driver.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

North Burial Ground, Providence RI

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"All is well..."

I, of course, wish the crews and passengers of the thousands of vessels, whose locations you will see when you click on the image above, a safe ride and hope that the sea lays down nice for them all. (Particularly Bounty since it seems that they're chasing Paloma down.)
Now you can see why I put the NOAA link of all the named North Atlantic storms over there on the right. Sure, I'm an armchair captain. And periodically checking the ship tracker might seem to make me a nosey voyeur. It rarely gives destinations or conditions, but sometimes you'll see a "note."
In some cases, it's a good thing to just see "all is well."
Wish we had this stuff when I was a kid.

Friday, November 7, 2008


  • And then I realized that some forward-thinking someone wanted to remember this historic election by keeping a souvenir. Like that Obama lawn sign.
  • So positive and confident that Barack Obama would soon be the Forty-Fourth President of the United States, he pulled over in an overwhelmed, albeit ravaging vandal, kind of reverie. And took the sign.
  • All is forgiven.
  • Congratulations to the artists and organizers like Chuck, Ken, and Captain Tom for completing the New Bedford Panorama mural project. On time and under budget, I expect.Quansett Street, across from Taber Mill
  • NEW YORK, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NWSa.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) cut its full-year forecast and posted a worse-than-expected 30 percent drop in quarterly profit because of falling TV advertising. Shares dived 12 percent. Nelson Muntz, brevity in social commentary
    The international media conglomerate said display advertising at its Web holdings, including the MySpace social network, was beginning to weaken, and that it was instituting stringent cost-cutting measures company wide.
  • Of course, the display advertising had already "weakened" morally and intellectually.
  • While you're still feeling politically-motivated, go sign on to Bail Out Main Street before everybody forgets that there's still a crisis effecting us all.
  • The "Proposition" format cannot circumvent the due process of the judiciary and elected representatives, especially in the case of civil rights, and this whole CA Prop 8 thing never should have gotten to the ballot anyway. The California Constitution has an equal protection clause. What was anybody thinking?
  • Oh, they were thinking of going to the Supreme Court. Which is what they're doing.
  • Of course, somebody might challenge the constitutionality of the California Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, arguing that it discriminates against the people who disagree with that sort of thing.
  • Which reminds me of Chuck's comment a couple of days ago: "... decide this election on votes cast, not litigation, and get about repairing our nation." Catchy, eh?
  • We did learn this, though: If your entire campaign is based on repeating invalidated talking points and demanding your opponent resign, try not to use radio ads to accuse your opponent of having "chutzpah." Particularly if he's Jewish. (Sholley vs. Frank, MA 4th District)
  • Speaking of lawnsigns: of the eleventy-hundred or so McCain signs I saw in my town over these past few months, only two had the name "Palin" on them.
  • Oh, and the members of the NORTH AMERICAN Free Trade Agreement are the United States, Canada, and Mexico. None of which are countries on the continent of Africa. (see above: Nelson Muntz, Simpsons)
  • President-elect Barack Obama talked to the real French President Nicolas Sarkozy for a while yesterday.
  • Everything is happening this weekend. Like Jess's show at the Plymouth Center for the Arts, Jeff & Benares and Michael Troy and Ian Thomas and The Maybees at Gallery X's Whaling Country Showcase, and Jimi and Steve's new band Thunk! in Brooklyn.
  • Bo'sun and Assistant HarborMaster Marty is a one-man Ashley's Book of Knots at the Whaling Museum. Around four bells in the after noon watch tomorrow.
  • Just a month and a half and the days start getting longer.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

While You're Celebrating...

Join me in wishing a "Heck of a Happy" to The Reigning Queen of Burlesque, Miss Exotic World 2008, Coney Island's own Miss Cyclone, the lovely, the fabulous Angie Pontani !Sometimes the view FROM the White House is pretty nice, too. (picture courtesy: Corio Restaurant & Lounge . Thank you.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

and thank you, Jason

Jason Smith, a real hero of the New Bedford Obama'08 Campaign and Pumpkinhead Ted, "Swingin' on a Power Chord."

Remember, remember the Fifth of November

Today, I am proud to be an American.

Of course, as we have learned over the past two years, a statement like that leaves me open to being called a traitor or a terrorist who wasn't proud to be an American before.
I knew that when I awoke this morning FoxNews would still be there with its bogus jovial hogwash, that my local radio stations would still be freely devoting their airtime to cranks who find daily reinforcement for their sociopathy, that the online newspaper comments and forums will still be filled with monstrous characters and their wanton callowness.
I turned to these outlets and was exposed to those same ignorant and impotent voices as I waited for news or weather -- and even that information isn't presented very well, or even accurately in many cases. Because those outlets have been tainted and corrupted by their profane associations.
Barack Obama's victory is more than simply about a black man in the White House. The entire campaign was about moving forward in a realistic manner, understanding and accepting the massive potential in America. What America has now accomplished cannot be negated or neutralized by these petty whiners and their pointless, baseless nonsense. The Obama Administration will allow me to bid adieu to those "superstitious, xenophobic morons."
Although I know it's not The New Altruism, permit me just this one bit of egoism. Today I celebrate knowing that I can turn off those voices and ignore them entirely.
They are finally exposed as exactly what they have always been:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

from The Starry Plough, Berkeley CA...

Shay Black, leading the Starry Session [sic] in the Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys' (Corrigan Brothers) instant Irish singalong classic, "There's No One As Irish as Barack O'Bama."

So, I get this e-mail...

... I don't think Byrne will mind me sharing it. It's a "bulk mailing" after all...

Pardon the bulk mailing. I Can't Vote. I am an immigrant with a Green Card and, therefore, I am not eligible to vote in a federal election. FYI - I can get drafted (luckily, Daniel Berrigan burned my draft board's records) and I pay taxes, yet I cannot vote for President. On Election Day, I see my neighbors heading to the nearby elementary school to cast their ballots. The voting booth joint is a great leveler; the whole neighborhood - rich, poor, old, young, decrepit and spunky - they all turn out in one day.
But most of you can vote. What can I say? The Republicans have made us less safe than before 9/11, bankrupted this economy, started an illegal war they can't - and don't intend to - finish, removed what sympathy (after 9/11) and respect the world had for the US, and have robbed US citizens of many of their basic rights. Global warming? What's that? Science and education? Investment in our future? No, thanks - we'll stick with a good 'ole hockey mom. Ignorant, and fucking proud of it, as is always the case.
Although it looks like a shoo-in, it ain't over 'til Florida. And there are plenty of racists in this country who will vote against their own best interests. So please, get to your local elementary school, post office, town hall, or whatever, and cast your vote and make this a country we can all be proud of. We can get out of this mess, and life can be better than it is.
David Byrne

David Byrne is appearing at New Bedford's Zeiterion Theatre, November 30.

UPDATE (8:45 a.m.): I voted this morning at the Russells Mills Engine House. At one bell into the morning watch (or 8:30), 349 ballots had been cast. I enjoyed a short wait, but also remember the primary when the place seemed deserted and the tally at the time was probably a third of that.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Your Thirdmate's Official Final Election'08 Statement

Barack Obama put together a 33-person panel committee to address the creative economy. From his site:

Our nation’s creativity has filled the world’s libraries, museums, recital halls, movie houses, and marketplaces with works of genius. The arts embody the American spirit of self-definition. As the author of two best-selling books – Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama uniquely appreciates the role and value of creative expression.
Reinvest in Arts Education: To remain competitive in the global economy, America needs to reinvigorate the kind
of creativity and innovation that has made this country great. To do so, we must nourish our children’s creative skills. In addition to giving our children the science and math skills they need to compete in the new global context, we should also encourage the ability to think creatively that comes from a meaningful arts education. Unfortunately, many school districts are cutting instructional time for art and music education.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that the arts should be a central part of effective teaching and learning.
The Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts recently said, “The purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists, though that is a byproduct. The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society.” To support greater arts education, Obama will:

  • Expand Public/Private Partnerships Between Schools and Arts Organizations: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will increase resources for the U.S. Department of Education’s Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination Grants, which develop public/private partnerships between schools and arts organizations. They will also engage the foundation and corporate community to increase support for public/private partnerships.
  • Create an Artist Corps: Barack Obama and Joe Biden support the creation of an “Artists Corps” of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and their communities. Studies in Chicago have demonstrated that test scores improved faster for students enrolled in low-income schools that link arts across the curriculum than scores for students in schools lacking such programs.
  • Publicly Champion the Importance of Arts Education: As president, Barack Obama will use the bully pulpit and the example he will set in the White House to promote the importance of arts and arts education in America. Not only is arts education indispensable for success in a rapidly changing, high skill, information economy, but studies show that arts education raises test scores in other subject areas as well.
  • Support Increased Funding for the NEA: Over the last 15 years, government funding for the National Endowment for the Arts has been slashed from $175 million annually in 1992 to $125 million today.
    Barack Obama and Joe Biden support increased funding for the NEA, the support of which enriches schools and
    neighborhoods all across the nation and helps to promote the economic development of countless communities.
  • Promote Cultural Diplomacy: American artists, performers and thinkers – representing our values and ideals – can inspire people both at home and all over the world.
    Through efforts like that of the United States Information Agency, America’s cultural leaders were deployed around the world during the Cold War as artistic ambassadors and helped win the war of ideas by demonstrating to the world the promise of America. Artists can be utilized again to help us win the war of ideas against Islamic extremism. Unfortunately, our resources for cultural diplomacy are at their lowest level in a decade. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will work to reverse this trend and improve and expand public-private partnerships to expand cultural and arts exchanges throughout the world.
  • Attract Foreign Talent: The flipside to promoting American arts and culture abroad is welcoming members of the foreign arts community to America.
    Opening America’s doors to students and professional artists provides the kind of two-way cultural understanding that can break down the barriers that feed hatred and fear. As America tightened visa restrictions after 9/11, the world’s most talented students and artists, who used to come here, went elsewhere. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will streamline the visa process to return America to its
    rightful place as the world’s top destination for artists and art students.
  • Provide Health Care to Artists: Finding affordable health coverage has often been one of the most vexing obstacles for artists and those in the creative community. Since many artists work independently or have nontraditional employment relationships, employer-based coverage is unavailable and individual policies are financially out of reach. The Obama-Biden plan will provide all Americans with quality, affordable health care.
    Their plan includes the creation of a new public program that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health care similar to that available to federal employees. Their plan also creates a National Health Insurance Exchange to reform the private insurance market and allow Americans to enroll in participating private plans, which would have to provide comprehensive benefits, issue every applicant a policy, and charge fair and stable premiums. For those who still cannot afford coverage, the government will provide a subsidy.
    His health plan will lower costs for the typical American family by up to $2,500 per year.
  • Ensure Tax Fairness for Artists: Barack Obama supports the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Act amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow artists to deduct the fair market value of their work, rather than just the costs of the materials, when they make charitable contributions.

John McCain, although his site has no specific details, answered the Americans for the Arts Action Fund with this:

John McCain believes that arts education can play a vital role fostering creativity and expression. He is a strong believer in empowering local school districts to establish priorities based on the needs of local schools and school districts. Schools receiving federal funds for education must be held accountable for providing a quality education in basic subjects critical to ensuring students are prepared to compete and succeed in the global economy. Where these local priorities allow, he believes investing in arts education can play a role in nurturing the creativity of expression so vital to the health of our cultural life and providing a means of creative expression for young people.
And that's it. A 180 BILLION DOLLAR sector of our economy, addressed in four sentences.

John McCain and Sarah Palin (and the supporters who revere the old fear and ignorance of the passing Reagan-Limbaugh years) have continually insulted me and every one of my friends who makes a living making art, music, and education. They have used their teevee channels, their blogs, and even commandeered online public newspaper comments and forums in order to regularly reinforce a culture of common boorishness. For eight years, they have been sore winners, disdaining and destroying the Constitution they so eagerly hide behind.
We know what to expect when they lose.
McCain claims to have "a firm hand on the tiller" but does not understand the metaphor. He cannot envision building and strengthening a diverse economy, because his hand is "firm," which is not a realistic qualification in a helmsman nor in a skipper. He can't see the changes in the weather or obvious tell-tales. And I wouldn't trust his loose cannon of a running mate anywhere near my quarterdeck.
A true captain doesn't ignore or deny his crew or cargo. And to encourage anyone aboard to do so is to court disaster, rough seas or fair.
A President leader cannot deny the existence of the creative economy - an entire working and tax-paying segment of the population -- some of whom are hockey moms, gun owners, Christians, NASCAR dads, and, yes: mavericks.
Because after you throw away all of the misapplied and hackneyed metaphors, ALL of us Americans are real.
And deserve better.
And the conniving little coward who stole the OBAMA yardsign can put it back. No questions asked.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

If you see this guy...

Portuguese Mafia

... urge him to have a pleasant day, won't you?