Thursday, November 27, 2008

Forget the turkey. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without...

...Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant." (This video uses clips from the original movie along with a 40-year anniversary performance in the original church.)

Not-to-fun fact: After 40 years, the fine for littering is still $25. Or at least for leaving trash out early...and they do dig through it and take photos as evidence...not 8X10 glossy photos, but digital photos. And they still send our kids to war.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"Each moment is a place you've never been."
~~Mark Strand

Saturday, November 22, 2008

45 years ago: the Kennedy assassination

Before people were asking "Where were you on 9/11?" the universal question was "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?"
A few years ago when I was in Dallas, I visited the museum in the school book depository and the grassy knoll. I was most struck by how small it is...physically, at least.
To commemorate the day, here are links to an article in today's Dallas Morning News, a link to Ralph Schuster's pretty comprehensive site on the subject, and, below, a recording from Dallas radio station KLIF from that day:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Street corner philosopher

One reason to support the bailout (this according to the fast-talking guy at the bus stop): The Commons are already too crowded. We don't need to add more white-haired guys sitting on the park benches playing checkers huddling over the board when the wind blows. He demonstrated this, laughing, and explained, you know, to keep the pieces from blowing away.

I say fast-talking because in just under ten minutes we—I use the term loosely, my part consisted of smiling and nodding knowingly—went from the financial crisis to sex education (These kids don't know anything about the birds and the bees. They think they can just love each other.) to the value of a good woman. (Every man needs a "first lady," which, as it turned out, was someone who paid the rent and did the laundry.) From there we tackled local government spending. (The city is dark, except for the bus stop, which is so brightly lit you can see it from all the way down the street.) That led fairly seamlessly to a fear of city hall officials. (They are scarier than anyone you'd run into on the street.) And, once we were on the subject of the everyday guy on the street, what is up with having prisoners cleaning the streets? (They should just have them clean the streets around the prisons and give the jobs cleaning the rest of the city streets to people who didn't get in trouble and are just trying to get by. And, BTW, people would take these types of jobs if there wasn't so much paperwork involved in the whole job process.) And, finally, to get back to the whole financial thing, did you ever notice that there's an open enrollment for healthcare but not the stockmarket? (Healthcare is more important, but even if you have a crappy plan, you can only change it once a year. But if you want to invest in the stockmarket, they'll take your money any time of the year and let you chase that dream, even though your dollar is like the silver ball in a pinball machine, ricocheting and bouncing around. Maybe you'll get an extra game, maybe you’ll lose it all, maybe you'll tilt.)

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"The morning news will not be the same without the foul specter of Richard Nixon glaring out of the tube. But the war is over now and he lost....Gone but not forgotten, missed but not mourned; we will not see another one like him for quite a while. He was dishonest to a fault, the truth was not in him, and if it can be said that he resembled any other living animal in the world, it could only have been the hyena."
~~Hunter S. Thompson, from "The Scum Also Rises" (1974, on Nixon's resignation)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Today in history: "On Nov. 13...

...Felix Ungar was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either."
~~Golda Meir

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Why I'm not glowing

I just got a message from a friend saying that if I wasn't glowing about Obama, did I have time for coffee/dinner. I'm actually a little disappointed that he even considered the possibility, as we tend to be likeminded in our cynicism towards all things. But I guess I can appreciate his caution. This past week the buzz has been palpable. I don't particularly share it, so I've been keeping my mouth shut. (No small feat.)

I did vote for Obama, and I think it's a definite change in the right direction, of course. But I don't share the belief that our economic and racial problems are solidly behind us.

Is he the next FDR? I don't think so. At least not today. The jury's not only still out, but they haven't even gone into the deliberation room. There are a lot of clever coincidences, it's been 75 years since Roosevelt took the reins, but, aside from the nice, round number and the fact that he saw us through the Great Depression, I think the comparisons are stretching it a bit. And everyone's getting into the act. Joe Nocera noted in his column in the New York Times yesterday that there are similarities in their initial press conferences: Roosevelt saying "action, and action now" and Obama vowing to "act swiftly." Let's not forget the fact that his speechwriters have access to Roosevelt's speeches and that he has "invoked the spirit" of Roosevelt during his campaign, so it's hardly a meaningful coincidence.

And then there's the whole race-relations thing. Yes, again it's a step in the right direction. And with this election and Italy's response, we've made great comparative strides. But it's no longer a thing of the past. I don't think in Western Pennsylvania they're all holding hands and singing "Kumbaya."

Hope and optimism are fine (so I hear), but, honestly, the man (and, he is a man, not a god or some other mystical entity) hasn't even taken office yet, so all the dancing in the street is a bit premature. I just came across a poll on Yahoo: "Who is the greatest President of all time Obama, JFK, Roosevelt or Lincoln? (Please be excrutiatingly honest in your answers.)" It's really at least eight years too early to even consider the question, let alone write the history books.

There's going to be a lot of disappointed people after the buzz fades and the hangover sets in. Hopefully as a nation we're not collectively puking in the toilet the morning after. That's about as optimistic as I can get.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Election Day in Massachusetts

So, today I voted.

If everything goes my way, I'll be able to take the extra money and get high and go to the dogtrack.

Okay, I'm only kidding about two out of these three positions.

Tuesday Quote of the Week

"Great creativity begins with tolerance."
~~Yo-yo Ma

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Some photos...

...from the White Oak Plantation in Baton Rouge: