Monday, June 29, 2020

PSA For All My Lurkers and Anonymous Folkx

"Here all is strange"

I was feeling beside myself  over the weekend. I got in my car and headed north on the PCH toward Malibu and turned around just about where Pepperdine sits so I could make my way back home to my regular, blessed and somewhere between a Monty Python comedy skit and a Samuel Beckett absurdist drama life.  Silly Walks. The Office of Arguments. Happy Days. Waiting for Godot. The ocean was on my right as I headed south and it led, as always, out to forever. I pulled over to the side of the road and slithered out of the car as other ones whizzed by me. I stood then, on the side of the road, on some rocks and looked out to sea (that phrase looked out to sea) and contemplated the strange world and my own insignificant place in it and the outsized emotions that I've been feeling about everything, knowing nothing. Knowing nothing and knowing more of nothing by the day, it seems. I looked down at my feet and saw this mermaid etched into the rock. Really. Beside myself.

That is what I find so wonderful, that not a day goes by....hardly a day, without some addition to one's knowledge however trifling, the addition I mean, provided one takes the pains. 
Samuel Beckett, Happy Days

St. Louis lawyers,  Patricia and Mark McCloskey,  defending their folly/home/castle/domain/wayoflife 

In today's Reign of Terror-wear, we have striped boat necks, clam diggers, pink polos and belted khakis. I know these people. We (we) know these people.

Back to my PSA for all my lurkers and anonymous folkx:

Black Lives Matter is not a terrorist organization. I imagine you have never really explored what the organization's mission is, so I urge you to do so. Here is their website: Black Lives Matter. Here are some of the statements on their website about their founding, their mission and their intent that jump out at me, a 56 year old white mother of three, pastry cook, English teacher and disability advocate:

We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.

We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.
We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.
We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.
We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

Again, my Lurkers and Anonymous Folkx.
Again, #BlackLivesMatter is not a terrorist organization. I have contributed money and am committed to their purpose. I am not a terrorist, and no one I know supporting the movement is one. We are not brainwashed. We are marching or protesting peacefully with our whole bodies. The work of these women and men is profound and awe-inspiring. I am grateful to be listening and learning about the movement and to bring my own passions and experience standing up for the vulnerable to the table. I am blessed to be on what I believe is the right side of history, as they say. 

To have been always what I am - and so changed from what I was. 
Samuel Beckett, Happy Days

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Go On With Your Thinking

More and more I'm thinking of resilience and sorrow all mixed up together. Meaning, on waking, I want to sleep but not because I want to sleep because (but) I want to not be awake. This sounds
depressed. Sorrow fills me up but doesn't define me in the same way that watching Sophie seize never gets easier. On June 14th, it was twenty-five years since she'd been diagnosed. Muscle memory. I could keep plumbing the depths of sorrow. Fathom the plumb unfathomable. It's down to words. Rage is just a cover for sorrow and everyone knows that.
Carl and I went out on the water yesterday on a whale-watching boat. Everyone was in masks except for a small group of over-dressed ladies who spent the entire time taking selfies. I steered clear of them and anyone else who came too close (oblivion) and found a quiet spot at the back of the boat. I sat in the sun with my face up, watched a couple of pelicans soar, at least a dozen terns torpedo into the water and a hundred or so dolphin dive and swim in the choppy water. It was cold. About halfway through the trip, a minke whale. At some point, mesmerized by all of this and the hum of the boat and the muffled shrieks of the people on the bottom deck, I wondered what it would be like to throw myself overboard, to slip in the water much like Hart Crane did after folding his overcoat over the railing. No one would see. Could one drown oneself? Could one keep gulping water or would the instinct to breathe, to thrash to stay alive kick in? This sounds depressed. The boat rocked me, though, and the late afternoon sun made the chop gold and glint, Carl was off in the distance, his lens raised and the sorrow rocked, too, back and forth, calm and soothing, making me who I am not quite all filled up.
Here's an excerpt from "Winnie," a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks:

Yet I know
that I am Poet!
I pass you my Poem.

A poem doesn’t do everything for you.
You are supposed to go on with your thinking.
You are supposed to enrich
the other person’s poem with your extensions,
your uniquely personal understandings,
thus making the poem serve you.

I pass you my Poem! — to tell you
we are all vulnerable —
the midget, the Mighty,
the richest, the poor.
Men, women, children, and trees.
I am vulnerable.
Hector Pieterson was vulnerable.

My Poem is life, and not finished.
It shall never be finished.
My Poem is life, and can grow.

Wherever life can grow, it will.
It will sprout out,
and do the best it can.
I give you what I have.
You don’t get all your questions answered in this world.
How many answers shall be found
in the developing world of my Poem?
I don’t know. Nevertheless I put my Poem,
which is my life, into your hands, where it will do the best it can.

I am not a tight-faced Poet.

I am tired of little tight-faced poets sitting down to
shape perfect unimportant pieces.
Poems that cough lightly — catch back a sneeze.
This is the time for Big Poems,
roaring up out of sleaze,
poems from ice, from vomit, and from tainted blood.
This is the time for stiff or viscous poems.
Big, and Big.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Dear Leader

Dear Leader,

We are writing you as two of your most devoted followers, filled with excitement at the prospect of seeing and hearing you in person soon at your first rally in months. We have missed your rallies and the freedom they gave us to passionately express our admiration for you and what you've given to this great country. We understand that we will have to sign a waiver that we will not blame you or sue you if we should contract The Covid at the rally, being so close to all your other acolytes. We understand the risks we will all take, but it'll be worth it. We are so privileged to be able to sign this waiver and show our loyalty to you, to God and to the country in His and your hands, and we just want you to know that drowning in our own fluids or becoming permanently disabled as a result would be an honor. We do have a question, though, pertaining to any members of our community who will not be attending the rally. Would they be able to sue us if we carry the virus back? Would they be able to sue you? Please ask Your Great Attorney General Barr to tell us what to do regarding this. We are at your disposal.

See you soon and God Bless America and You!

Tanner and Karen Jones

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Pandemic Book Club Grief In Anti-Racist Time

I becomes she. 

She leaned her forehead on the cool green tile of the dining room table, the peonies' blowsy above her, their blooms bigger than babies' heads. The leader of the book club she'd joined on impulse spoke on, enthusiastic. They were reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She had never read this slim novel, was only aware of the movie and Maggie Smith who played Miss Jean. Each sentence was a revelation and the whole book was imbued with sadness and humor. Sadness and humor. They both drove and defined her. Her, not Miss Jean Brodie. The leader of the book group introduced the Tennyson poem "The Lady of Shalott" and asked for volunteers to read a verse. She raised her hand to do so, waved her hand to be seen, a little block in the upper-left corner of the screen. Do you not know how to use the hand wave? the leader asked her, and she answered No, but she was on mute so he didn't hear her. She couldn't wave and couldn't speak. Nevertheless, (she was now speaking in her head and typing like Miss Jean Brodie or was it Muriel Spark?), she was asked to read Verse 5. Under tower and balcony/By garden-wall and gallery/A gleaming shape she floated by/Dead-pale between the houses high. Her own square on the screen was a photo of her, blurry, brushing her hair back in a beam of sunlight over her shoulder. She looked beautiful and it was only four years ago. Today she looked old. Also, fascism. She thought of her Italian grandmother, her illiterate grandmother, her love of Mussolini. Order. Miss Jean Brodie, too, loved fascism. She (not Miss Jean Brodie) thought of the mindset of the time. It was extravagant to be reading this book today, these times, to have these thoughts. The peonies were as big as babies' heads but also blowsy, sensual. Wanton, her friend had written. Sirens kept wailing over the mute heads on the screen. She leaned her forehead on the cool green tile of the dining room table under the wanton peonies, the slim novel the sirens the awe-fulness of everything.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Notes on L.A.

photographer: Henry Beglinger

Just some thoughts and observations in no particular order and not meant to be tied together or have a lesson or moral:

We are learning that so much of what you've seen on the teevee the last few days about the "riots" in Los Angeles is not the whole truth. Yes, there has been looting and mayhem, businesses routed, property destroyed, and I don't condone it. We have had the constant sound of sirens and helicopters circling, the curfews and the buzz on neighborhood watches shots heard on 3rd and Orange, thousands marching towards 3rd and Beverly, people gathering on Melrose and Poinsettia to sweep and clean. But here, here in Los Angeles, here in my own neighborhood I've witnessed many thousands of people marching peacefully in protest against racism and more specifically police brutality.

I have heard countless accounts from people that I know, that were there, that the "rioting" and looting, that the mayhem in many of these places in Los Angeles was instigated and exacerbated by the police.

Please read this story, written by a good friend of mine who I've known since I moved to Los Angeles in 1998, who lives down the street from me and whose children grew up with mine. Zeke's story is an important one and deserves attention, so if you are so inclined, please share it. If you live in Los Angeles, please send it with a letter to your councilman or woman. The police are under the authority of the Los Angeles city council and the mayor, Eric Garcetti.

photo credit: the world wide webs

Here's the story: The LAPD Instigated a Riot, Falsely Arrested Me and Now I'm a #BLM Activist. I believe it's an account that should help you to pivot toward what we're protesting here: POLICE BRUTALITY AND RACISM. We don't need proof of it from a white man, but perhaps many of you dithering over looters and good cops vs. bad cops and fruit analogies might listen and pivot toward anti-racism action.

My friend Chris said this, "Nineteen percent of police forces in the country are former military. The 2009 Homeland Security report that was trashed warned of radicalized vets in police forces. This is frightening."

Last night, my son Henry joined the protestors marching toward the mayor's residence which is within a mile of our home. Henry is in a general state of upset these days, and he and I talk nearly continuously about everything that's going down. He came back an hour later, sweaty and red-faced. He told me that he'd taken a knee for nine minutes and was standing up when a large cop car pulled up and several heavily armored police jumped out. One huge one shoved Henry out of the way, shouting Get the fuck out of here. Henry came home breathless, red-faced and enraged, but he's alive and unhurt, and we know why.

Aside from the vandals and the opportunists and thoughtless idiots, as well as the clashes between a militarized police and citizens, we also know that there are groups out there targeting these peaceful protests -- groups of radicalized people and racists intent on violence. There's plenty online that you can read about these people and what they're doing to our country. The POSPOTUS is one of them.

Aerial view of my neighborhood
photo from local news agency
There's also this stuff.

And then there is everyone else. My friend Michael B said this on his Facebook post yesterday,
Between today and yesterday, thousands of protestors have marched in DTLA, Venice, WeHo, Hollywood, the mayor's residence, Van Nuys, Pasadena, Manhattan Beach. This morning, religious leaders lead a march downtown to police headquarters and prayed with the Mayor and police chief. The crowds keep growing in size and resolve. I have never been more proud of my city.

It's terrible that property is being destroyed, but killing black men and women has to stop.

Monday, June 1, 2020


Los Angeles, CA
May 31, 2020

It is bigger than everything and anything, what is going on. No question mark. On this beautiful Monday morning I sit in my dining room, my view an expanse of green and sunlight pouring in from the east. A spiderweb glistens, its threads loose, wavy, the air so clear I see gnats eluding it. We have so many hummingbirds this year, and I think they are the air's dolphins darting friendly so much that is good to sip. I'm thinking about atonement and whether this country our country will have the strength to work together as a collective to atone for the brutality upon which we were founded and continued through centuries all the way up to now with children in cages, the disabled having to beg for help, the elderly left to die alone, the dead bodies of children piling up, the dead bodies of black people piling up, the healers in dirty masks. Yet so much bounty. This country taken from those that lived here for thousands of years and then built on the backs of the enslaved. The delusion that is the American dream. The vast inequality. Age-old. The center cannot hold. There is something beyond intense watching hordes of young people break through glass only to grab boxes of shoes and luxury bags. The backs of their heads, their heads in hoodies. I can't get the white girl with the skinny legs and pink hair out of my head. Skateboards used to smash windows. The tank rolling down the street of pristine houses, men in riot gear hanging off, headed to where? I saw a man with a box on his shoulders, clothes wrapped in plastic dropping out of it as he ran while others watched. So much heaviness and anger and wildness in the scrawls of letters across buildings. So much desperation. How paltry in comparison to the plights of other countries, other peoples. Or is it?

The beauty of those who swept the glass and scrubbed away the ugliness. The Korean councilman, the Orthodox Jewish rabbi, the teenaged girl, the black man.

I want to write something funny. Something absurd. Something to tell the truth. Something to evade the truth.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...