It’s warming up and getting closer to Earth Day. Like every spring there’s a winter’s worth of trash in our yards, streets, and highway ditches, much of it comes from drive-thru restaurants and beverage barns.
No need to do the research or to manufacturer some story, because I personally witnessed it. Several years ago my wife and I volunteered to pick up litter on Foraker Street between SR 138 and the 7th Street Bridge. From just one side of that very short street, we filled our pick up truck with trash that was, as stated, carry out wrappers from fast food, and tossed beverage containers, especially beer cans. Not a single resident offered to help and within a couple of months, it was as littered as ever.
A week or so ago I published a photo of Donald Trump on which someone had Photo-shopped a set of male testicles to replace his chin. It was obviously gross and offensive and I’m sure the artist meant it to be. When I chose if from other such photos I meant it to be offensive, for the simple reason that most everything Trump has or does is offensive. He is a person who thrives on being offensive.
A Facebook friend challenged the photo as being totally disrespectful and I replied that, yes it was and rightfully so. I argued that respect is something earned and never owed. She countered that she was brought up as a small town country girl and taught to respect her elders. Well most of us were brought up to respect our elders and to respect authority. In teaching government I was always instructed to respect the office if not the person in the office. Throughout my career, I both followed that tenet and preached it to my students. Over twenty years into retirement and faced with a breed of politician atypical to America, I’ve changed my views about dispensing respect like it was trick or treat candy. You just can’t threaten a trick anymore, you actually have to roll over, bark twice, sniff my ass, and hold out your paw to earn a dab of respect.
I followed a Facebook thread today begun by a former student who was reacting to the unfolding college admittance scandal. She was relating how hard she worked to get into college and to pay her own way without help from others, including her mother. There is nothing unique about this woman, she did it the way most of us did it, on our own merits and our own labors. She wasn’t whining or bitching but instead, just expressing the disappointment she felt that American higher education is so difficult for the most while others can evade the hurdles with little more than monetary bribes from their parents.
I recently received a news feed that I found interesting. Not important, just interesting. The Axios-Harris Poll did a study of what companies are preferred most by Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.
For example, Democrats for whatever reasons prefer buying products made by Kraft-Heinz while the favorite GOP product is Chick-fil-A. I can only suppose that the John Kerry connection to Heinz explains the Democratic choice and the Chick’s opposition to all things same-sex draws the loyalty of the moral high ground crowd.
Over the weekend my wife and I watched a PBS special titled, Talking Black in America. It dealt with the untold number of African American dialects spoken in America and how it all came to be. I was especially impressed with how important language is in black history and culture and how versatile many are in switching back and forth between standard-English and African American English.
It reminded me of a time I was in a fast food line near the Mexican border and how the clerk had was so adept at switching between English and Spanish. My brain has never been that flexible.
We’ve had forty-five presidents in our nation’s history and there’s a prevailing myth that anyone, regardless of wealth, can grow up and join the club. While it is possible, and we do have examples, to be born poor and make it to the White House, is not the normal way things happen, especially in the modern era.
Everyone knows about Lincoln being born in a log cabin and splitting fence rails for a living. But besides Abe, there are a number of others who had similar humble beginnings. On the list of those who weren’t born with a wooden spoon in their mouths would be George Washington, the Roosevelts, John F. Kennedy, and the Bushes.
Last evening we watched an Independent Lens (PBS) production titled Black Memorabilia. Basically, it spent an interesting hour focusing on the memorabilia that has and continues to reinforce African American stereotypes. Those stereotypes that have been used to demean, belittle, psychologically harm, instill fear, sell products, and continue to be profitable as the collector market explodes.
In all the flea markets and auctions I’ve attended I can’t recall coming across such items. I have, however, seen a lot of Nazi memorabilia changing hands. Being a child of the WWII era I have a cursory interest in these items but never had the desire to own or collect them. Just touching an SS lapel badge feels kind of slimy to me. Continue reading Considering Black Memorbilia→
Back in the ’50s, it was quite common to see bent willow furniture sitting on people’s porches and patios. A childhood friend had two chairs on their porch and I always loved sitting in them. They were handmade by an older man who lived in a small shack along a nearby creek. The creek and surrounding wetlands gave him all the raw materials he needed.
He would build single chairs as well as couches and side tables. The fellow didn’t have a car or truck so he pushed a large two-wheeled cart loaded with his furniture up and down the village streets peddling his wares. On days he didn’t have furniture to sell he would push his cart around town hauling away people’s scrap metals and newspapers.
I believe the only piece of willow furniture we ever had was a small child’s rocking chair that one of our daughters used for her children.
Several years ago I was driving through the Florida Panhandle and came upon a large pickup truck with a cab-over rack. The vehicle was heavily loaded with beautiful bent willow furniture. I don’t know where they were from or where they were going but I sure wish I’d chased them down and brought a couple of chairs home.
It’s been a long time since I gave the subject any thought but today I came across a video of a young man in Kentucky who’s keeping the craft alive. If I wasn’t so damned old now I’d look the guy up and place an order. I’ll post the video below and hopefully, this will bring back some pleasant memories for you.
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Recently I pulled into the drive-thru at McDonald’s and in front of me was a car with two teenage boys. They weren’t paying attention and keeping up with the line. So, expecting a flock of angry birds I honked my horn. It woke them and from then on they mostly paid attention.
What I noticed, when their heads weren’t bobbing to something I wouldn’t recognize as music, was that both were either smoking cigarettes or vaping. I could fault them for that but at their age, I was on my way to becoming totally nicotine addicted and working my way towards two or more packs a day. The brief experience made me reflect back on my own experiences.
I guess that I began smoking around age twelve, if not younger. That would have been 1954 and I continued smoking until 1982 at age forty when I attended a smoking cessation class and six weeks later snuffed out my devil weed. So, I smoked 28 years and have been smoke-free for 36 years.
In 1954 a pack of cigarettes in New York was .23 cents and I was smoking one or two a day. By 1960, the year I graduated from high school the price was .26 cents and I was consuming a pack a day. In 1982 cigarettes were .82 cents a pack and I was smoking three packs a day and if I went bar hopping on Friday night it would be another two packs for a total of five.
I’m old enough to remember when Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos ruled the Philippines until the people finally rose up and ran them out. Of all they stole from the nation’s treasury the attention focused on Imelda’s love of shoes and the 2,700 pairs of high-end shoes found in her closet.
Imelda and her shoes
Jim & Tammy Faye before the fall
Jim and Tammy Bakker were another couple whose fall from grace made the news in the 1980s. Their ill-gotten wealth came from bilking the vulnerable through their evangelical television programs. When the hammer fell it wasn’t just a closet full of shoes the investigators found. It was millions in collectible cars, jewels, furs, homes, planes, luxury air-conditioned houses for their pets, and high-end mascara for Tammy’s eyes.
I recently posted a Facebook criticism of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy and how it was separating children from their parents as leverage to force congress into building his fecking wall.
As of this writing the number of incarcerated immigrant children is approaching 3,000 and whatever federal agencies have a hand in this none seem to prepared to handle the numbers, offer appropriate housing, medical care, psychological counseling, or have any system to prevent parents from losing track of their children
This zero toleration policy and the separation of so many innocent children is almost without parallel in American History. It is the creation of extreme political ideology and supported by xenophobia and the inherent racism of too many Americans. To justify the separating of parents and children the administration has even resorted to inaccurately citing cherry picked passages from the Bible.
I continue to be amazed that so many Trump voters remain supportive of him. If you as an American wanted someone in office that would undermine America’s basic and important institutions, someone who thinks the Constitution doesn’t apply to him, someone who wants to continue widening the gap between the rich and what little remains of the middle-class, someone who insist on rewarding our enemies while pissing off our age-old allies, someone whose ignorance of foreign affairs that America is no longer seen as a leader, someone who lies to you an average of nine times each day, someone who has emboldened racial, ethnic, and religious bigotry in America, someone who seems dead set on tearing down so many of the social and environment gains this nation has made, or somebody who reigns over a nation whose children will likely never earn more than their parents, then Trump is your guy.
I recently read a scathing article on Trump written by the noted economist, Jeffery Sachs. Sachs pretty much said what I just said but he did it much better than me and with a great deal more knowledge and experience. You need to read Sachs’ words and you’ll find them at this link.
By the spring of 1969 I had two more classes to take to fulfill my requirements. I needed to take public speaking and a literature elective. Public speaking was required of all students seeking a career in teaching. I was so fearful of it I put it off till the very end. Turned out I feared for not, I loved it.
The literature class I decided on was Science Fiction Literature. Both classes were summer classes and I quickly learned that Catholic nuns went to school in the summer and they were serious about getting all the As. The other lesson was that literature teachers who are serious fans of Sci-Fi also take summer classes.
Jerome Graille is a French cigar box guitarist and if you have any doubts about the range of music that can come from a simple box, a stick, and four wires, check out this video. You can also find more of Graille’s work at his website. You might consider supporting him by becoming a patron.