Thursday, July 1, 2010

faces at the bottom of the well

"faces at the bottom of the well" is a book by derrick bell about racism in america that was published in 1993. I've stolen the title for this post but beyond that i recommend this book highly.

For beyond 70 days the Gulf of Mexico is the site of an oil spill problem, to put a "best face" on it, and for most people I talk to it's beyond the imagination to totally come to grips with. The hard truth to swallow is that no one knows where the path of such recklessness leads made only more painful by the fact that almost everyone is complicit in this disaster in one small or large way or another. That's the good news.

Persuing the metaphor , however, allows me to suggest that the gushing oil is also a psychotic artist blasting horrifying portraits onto a water canvas in indelible oil. It is a vast painful mural of destruction with more faces than we can count yet is a gallery we must, sooner or later, all attend. Central to the artwork is certainly the faces of wildlife and water, which are the most visible and easily recognized, posed in victims clothing and tossed lazily about in murdered postures. Beyond that are the faces of the people who have lost livelihood and with that, hope and a fixed look upon that background is the images of domestic misery, psychological trauma and worse. And there are thousands of these portraits to be sure, one as agonizing as the next, and we'll stop looking at those, for sure, once we have had enough.
There are also the faces of political and economic indifference that rouse anger and fury even at the most subtle gaze. The corporations and people that manage them glad handing the twisted corruptible polticians create an image that would clench the most peaceful fists among us. So, intricate is the drawing that we can almost hear their derisive laughter and the tinkle of the ice against the glasses of disdain.
There is the vast portrait of toxins traveling on a road that leads where we do not know, save for the fact that, for certain, the journey eventually passes by and even through our house. The sanctuary of distance from this tragedy is surely temporary and this face at the bottom of the well makes that easy for us to see.
My face is down there too, that's me with my jaw dropped open and if you look into my eyes you'll see a man whose feels his feet tied to the tracks on which runs an oncoming train. I am, at least, poised for my own doom, albeit, not at peace with it.
The gallery nestled toxically a mile below the surface of the gulf includes the faces of people not even born yet, who will enter the world with this narrative already in progress and will never be able to reference "life before the spill" and therefore, never truly understand. They will have been cast into a horror movie without audition.
Your picture is down there too. I don't care who you are or where you live, it's down there. Take a look if for only curiosity. I doubt you won't be moved. Perhaps, while we are all down there, examining the face and faces of some mass global collective tragedy maybe we can do something. I'm just hopful enough to think that the paint is not dry on most of the faces. I'm not sure what we should do but I am certain that it won't matter unless we all do it together. The real operative words here are "all" and "together".
I suppose the massive art display isn't just about past and present but is only impressionistic regarding the future. That changing the face of the future requires I ask myself some questions, simple ones really, about why we do what we do. We walk the world swinging a sledgehammer blindfolded without even looking at what we hit. Maybe we should put the hammer down for a year, maybe even a night. Maybe the faces will change and maybe they won't. If nothing else, our arms and shoulders can use the rest.
The faces from the bottom of the well speak to me. They say, if I want to change the way I want to die, maybe I should change the way I have to live. I'm hoping you hear the same message they are crying out. I'm hoping they keep you awake at night. I'm hoping they beg you to put down the sledgehammer. I'm hoping.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Props to the Prez

Not always, but sometimes, I am glad my grandmother was a gypsy. This wasn't a nickname, she was a real gypsy and told fortunes, among other things for a living. She imparted her wisdom regarding fortune telling to me and it really works. I'm good at telling fortunes and perhaps would tell you the secret of the scam but not today. You'd have to ask me really nice for me tell you that. Yes, I did use the word scam, by the way because it was one. People choose their futures, at least according to my grandmother. Suggesting you can see into the future suggests it's actually there to see, which it isn't. When I was younger I would use my powers to impress people and that works too. Even today, people ask, can you really tell fortunes?; in my mind I say, "yes, if you think I can".
So, when I suggest that my friend and confidant, Barack Obama, can really see the future, this is no faint praise. This is the acknowledgement of someone who knows a thing or two about how this works.
Harken back if you will to that magic time of the 2008 campaign, where ever gaffe was a headline, every move, a controversy, and every slip of the truth, food for the zoo animals, excuse me I mean voting public.
Soothesayer Obama made that rather candid observation about how people who cling to their guns and religion do so out of fear and ignorance. These were not his exact words, and I'm too lazy to look them up and I have enough twitter friends with OCD to correct my inprecision, BUT, this was essentially what he said and perhaps the word "cling" was badly chosen but the uproar was audible. Golly, Hilary Clinton even defended this poor offended mass as misunderstood by the urban savvy elitist hoops player who couldn't bowl.
Well, my friends, this week's news should offer our President the opportunity to sit back, put his feet up and smirkingly say, "Hey, I told ya so!"
Like the oracle of Delphi predicted these pigeons have come to roost. The fearful clinging mob of clearly undertstood clowns are just where Obama said they would be. Admit it, Obama called these folks out plain and simple. Journalists are now knee deep in a story they claimed was Obama's gaffe. It ironically turns out, oh great journalists of American politics, that the gaffe was yours.
I think we need to step back from the circus show for a day or two and give our props to the Prez. The headllines should read: "President nails it with clinging to guns and religion claim." They are out of the sanity bag now aren't they? I have no time for the shocked reporter. Step aside you foolish boy. Bring out Nostradamus award winning Barack Obama. Does anyone really want to argue that people in this country when they are frightened and angry cling to guns and religion? Is that really up for debate? Can't we put this one to bed? Hammer the last nail? Put a fork in it? Stop me from one more cliche!
Unlike my grandmother, this was no scam. Obama spoke truthfully about what is the NOW. Someone's gonna get hurt or worse. And we don't need the President or my grandmother to tell us that now do we?

Friday, March 12, 2010

hunchbacks, satire and Rachel

Rep. Massa is the Hunchback of Notre Dame. He is an object of derision with a mad crowd that points, laughs and throws stuff. They cheer wildly as each insult hits its mark. I know this because I stand in the middle of that crowd. These are the times in which we live, and hey, I'm pretty good at it. I'm fairly certain he walked out on stage of his own volition. I'm sure I read his t-shirt clearly that read, "thank you America, can I have another". It's good spectacle so don't tell me to cover my eyes. I'm taking it all in. I am participating in 21st century American democracy, emphasis on the "mock" part. A public whipping takes place every week. It's a different victim in a different landscape with a different nuance, to be sure, but it's a public whipping and count me among the audience making best uses of my interactive technological applications.
This is not a self-loathing moment. If that's your expectation then stop reading now, this is no narrative about epiphany, moral realization and repentence. That ain't me. This isn't about a "despicable" press. My what an antiquated notion! Sentimentality about the trusted Cronkite press suggests I hate baseball because Bob Gibson retired. I watch baseball and hiss the new villains. I watch the news and hurl insults at the latest hunchback.
I am nether proud nor embarrased by any of this as it neither uplifts or demeans me. It is sport and I am only playing a game. These people are trotted out solely for my entertainment. It would be rude not to watch. If you watch cable news and wonder, "who watches this stuff?", that would be me. It's produced for me. It's scheduled for my convenience. MSNBC even repeats stuff so I can work my life around them. That's pretty gracious of them I think.
Being a satirist is the finest, laziest hobby in the world. I create nothing, I just poke fun at the crap you made. And, if you're producing the news, well you create 24 hours daily for crap for me to mock. It's all grist for the mill from the talking heads and technical mishaps to the racist rants landing finally on the hypocritical polticians and the uninformed baboons who interview them. To be fair, I can't even keep up. At least once a week they bring me a hunchback. It is my favorite part.
The sweetest part, I can tell you, is that it's not your lives that I ridicule. It is our lives, and that self awareness that exposes self-mocking makes it all..okay. I only need a laugh or two to insure I'll return again tomorrow. On a good day, you join me.
Rachel Maddow ticks me off. She is an actual journalist. She leaves me no jokes. Worse, if jokes are there, she says them, in a more professional, journalistic and mature way than I ever could. I watch her only for the awe factor. Oh, and to get the news. If every news show was like Rachel's, we would simply be an informed citizendry perfecting our culture through democratic means. My gosh, what a yawner. Where's the sport in that? I'd be off Twitter and calling possible opponents for Yahtzee. I might have real friends again, not virtual ones. My children would not start every sentence with, "Dad can you stop typing for a minute?"; another antiquated notion.
So leave me to the tools of my trade. My orange Boehner, Dumbo Palin, alien Bachmann, Mansonesque Cheney, testicle swinging white sheeted teabaggers, johns Ensign & Vitter & Vatican's own Stupak. And believe me, that is the short list. And once a week, bring me a hunchback Massa. Never ask why I have this grin on my face. And once a night visit Rachel Maddow and wonder how it might be, sadly,
another antiquated notion.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I've seen this movie or Schindler's Pissed

I want to talk for a moment about the HC summit before it disappears from view. I found it predictably a yawner as everyone else I'm afraid. Oh, sure I liked Cantor's childlike enthusiasm and McCain's cranky loser sour grapes thing he had going and other humorous moments. I did set my watch for the end so I could hear Obama's summary which I thought would be the only news of the day, if any. Since it ran long I caught the last exchange before the summary and I'm glad I did. He asked the Republican side if there was any thought to adding to the 3 million people their plan would add since the Democratic plan added 30 million and he wanted to see where the negotiation ended. It ended there. Not a single Republican offered even an answer. Nope. 3 million, and that's it. Obama looked incredulous and he asked it again. Nope, 3 million. That's when it happened for me. I think it was the look in Obama's face that did it. I was now watching the end of Schindler's List. I half expected Obama to say, "This watch ... this watch, surely would buy another few people... this table, on Ebay would make it 3 miilion and two...couldn't it? The oldest story of them all in contemporary history played out in the silence of old, powerful white men. People's lives are a commodity, how much can we raise?
Three million? That's it? Gee whiz, in today's technology you could almost print that out. let me see who would these 3 million people be? Do I know any of them? Print it in my newspaper, like Healthcare lottery winners.. the few, the proud, the chosen! Perhaps then, and only then, we could print the names of the 37 million we have condemned. Who are they ? Do I know any of them? Them, that's the word isn't it...them. Oh my gosh, I know these people, they mow my lawn. Bob, yes, every summer with his two sons, oh my, why them? Surely, we can find a couple of grand for them? They're good people. Let me make some calls, send some emails, get an online petition. I catch my breath. I am no longer mocking Herr Schindler, I am him. We are all. I could go around my neighborhood with a glass jar one day a week and raise healthcare money for Bob, his two kids, and his diabetic wife.

I am ashamed.

The cost of the furniture in the Blair House meeting room would provide healthcare to ten more maybe 20, maybe 30, I don't buy furninture like that, how do I know? Couldn't Congress meet on folding card tables for 20 dollars a piece at Ollie's? Please, Herr Schindler? That doesn't happen in rooms where shame does not make the guest list.

I am ashamed.

What's the price tag, let's raise it ourselves. I'm ashamed I let people suffer even die because of some silly pipedream I have about the "better angels" of Congress. There are no better angels in Congress, I knew that before I searched for C Span.
Then I did the only sensible thing I've ever done about Heathcare in America. I put a glass jar on my desk. I emptied the change out of my pockets and let it clink to the bottom. I put a white paper tag on it that read, simply, for Bob! I drew a little smiley face on it because that's how I roll. I'm putting every penny I can find in that jar. And I'm giving it to Bob, who really does do my lawn with his two teenage sons, and whose wife is diabetic and who I know does not have health insurance. I want his name on that list damn it if I have to pay for it myself. Everyone.. get a name, get a jar.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

once obama time

Okay, my sources tell me, I don't really have sources, just these kind of WebKinz demons, soft and cuddly, in my brain that I listen to from time to time to time, that there is a devious convoluted plot twist forming to the Prez (Big O) plan to non-partisanship. By actually changing the culture in Washington he will drive all members of Congress, regardless of party to their own personal "Oh, S**T" moment. Most Republians have already had theirs but check out the Dems lining up for theirs. You'l hear it as quiet whispers at first, "he's going too fast", "doing too much", you know the code. But, wait until actaul lobby reform, earmark reform, support union legislation and HEALTHCARE. They'll be running into each other in a panic which, is the first step of real bipartisanship. You're wrong if you think it begins with a handshake, it begins with a collision.

Check this out:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

okay I'm a teacher, don't stop reading there's no quiz at the end or writing activity (we call that follow -up in the business by the way). I've started this blog for several reasons the first being so I know what I'm talking about when I talk to students about these things. Secondly, maybe I want to talk to someone other than children and hopefully i can do this without leavng the house. It's a scary world everywhere but my house. And maybe I have some things to say. I have a presonal interest in politics so I'll blog about that. I'll certainly blog about education and the sorry or wonderful state it is in depending if you're talking about the school your kids attend or everyone else's. (More or that thought later) So, this is my initial plunge into the mystic and we'll see where it goes. Comments are welcome, intrusions encouraged and snarking allowed. Look it up if you must but don't pretend you know!

"shoot the monkey"

Obama's election has created a "new" sensitivity (meaning the media attends to it) toward racist notions. White guys just wanna have fun is over or at least on life support. Goodie for something nowadays. The fun part of course are the verbal stumblings from those who don't know this and carry on like McCain won. SHAME ON YOU! I want to dedicate this space to these stumblings if only for laughs but hopefully with a deeper more intellectualized (read boring) notion of how this affects how we play together. I'm collecting "shoot the monkey" moments in political speech in honor of our friends the New York Post and by calling it that allows me to ironically enter the first one. To demonstrate equality let's also hear from those who have found an "air Holder" moment for those who have the courage, no guts, to speak about race honestly, whatever that means? Maybe we'll find out! So let me hear from you!