Archive for 'Larger Forces at Work'

On the 10th anniversary of 9-11-01

September 11, 2012 by , under Larger Forces at Work.

 

Enough chit chat.

 

 

 

A recent survey revealed that 30+% of Americans could NOT remember what YEAR the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were instigated.

 

That disgusts me.

 

Sunday is 9-11. I don’t need to tell YOU it was 10 years ago. You are here, and you can read. It’s the other 30% about whom I worry, everyday.  I intend on watching the 3 documentaries I own of the events on 9-11-01. It’s 4 1/2 hours of film footage. It will be a long evening.

WHY do I do this? I’ve been wondering, because I don’t enjoy it

Why? Because I don’t want to forget, and I don’t want to lose sight of what ignited this last phase of Middle Eastern war. It has become a misguided, side-stepping, displaced set of aggressions. People in New York are suing the E.P.A. due to illnesses caused from breathing the dust of fallen buildings. Our soldiers are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are glancing over at Iran…
Had we stuck to what we really needed to do – NEEDED to do – which was find all the killers AND their cohorts – and eliminate THEM – and NO ONE ELSE – we would have lost less world esteem, fewer American lives, fewer Afghan and Iraqi lives, and billions of dollars would be here at home. If THOSE killers were dead – we would be moving ahead in an entirely different fashion. We wouldn’t be in-fighting and out-fighting with sad, substitute aggressions.

===

Soon after the event, I wrote this:

“Monday, September 17, 2001 12:52 PM Six days after the attack.
Subject: “Smoldering Rubble”

My friends,
Having the INTENSE need to express myself the last few days, I tried to “organize” my feelings & thoughts into words, paragraphs, and themes with a beginning, middle, and end. You know, make myself intelligible. I failed.
Instead, I send you a few personal layers of smoldering rubble, which I’m trying to grasp and identify:

- I never thought we were safe…nor did I think we were so vulnerable.
– You can feel it everywhere you go. People are sharing the sadness, and yet, also ready to SNAP – at the wrong person, an insignificant action, a misdirected emotion – and make things even worse. It is a time to be careful with our fellow citizens.
– I have always been disappointed in the low level of security at our airports. The Israeli model is sensible.
– I have mixed feelings about the Media. Their intrusions are often coarse and disgusting – especially with innocent people that DESERVE their privacy. Yet, we live in a CULTURE, and this time our CULTURE was attacked, and we need to experience it as thoroughly as possible.
– What we decide – especially about terrorism – and WAR – is quite dependent upon our what we absorb and interpret through these days.
– After the Space Shuttle disaster, there were CREEPS that immediately began producing “humor” about it. I’ve seen NONE this time, and I hope I don’t.
– I resent the media’s Warholian repetition of images and sound bites – which eventually become emotionless, and then entirely abstract. I detach from that which originally brought me close. How many times can I watch a plane full of people slice into a building full of people, before it is just a plane and a building, then a video product, then a series of background shapes moving in now familiar patterns, like a LOGO? Perhaps, since I know better, I am angry at myself for reaching that point.
– I’m a “Baby Boomer”. I was born after World War Two, wasn’t conscious for Korea, and was very much against the Viet Nam War. This is the first time in my life I have felt “ready” for War. It is not a feeling with which I am comfortable.
– I tried listing ways to be of help in the emergencies. I decided I was more a hindrance than anything, and would be of most use just staying the hell out of the way – so that stronger, faster, healthier people could do something of real, immediate value. I am irritated with my body. Yes, with age can come wisdom, but there is a downside that I can’t deny.
– I am embarrassed by any American that has shown anger towards other Americans, simply due to ethnic appearance. Faced with the situation, I will not passively allow it to continue.
– I am grateful to each person that fought against Germany, Japan, and Italy in the 1930′s and 40′s.
– My Father was never willing to describe his experiences in WWII. He died with his secrets. I think he would now discuss those years with me.
– My definition of “Hero” has now been personified in fire fighters that run into a building as others run out, and, any of the high jacked plane passengers that chose to fight and die – sooner than later – for the sake of strangers ahead in another targeted building.
– I had a dream last night. I was watching video clips of people committing suicide by jumping off the World Trade Center buildings, before they were burned alive. Of course, this really happened. To my surprise, the Media has shown very little of it to me. I’m afraid my blank spaces are requiring they be filled with the Truth.
– Eventually, the site of the World Trade Center will need to be covered over, as was the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, acknowledging it as a mass grave.
– September 11, 2001 will be for the younger generation what November 22, 1963 is for me, and December 7, 1941 is for my Mother.
– Members of “Generation X” have often lamented to me that they don’t have huge markers for their lives – no World War, no Great Depression, no Viet Nam, no Woodstock… My response has always been “You don’t want markers like that”.
I ask them now: “You have your marker. How does it feel?”

Soon after the event, I also wrote this:

“October 16, 2001:
I was never “Patriotic”. Even as a child, the early morning classroom ritual of repeating the “Pledge of Allegiance” struck me as empty. I could’ve repeated those words in my sleep (which was NEARLY the case anyhow), and they’d become abstract sounds, with all potential meaning lost to me… like so many other rituals demanded of children.
By High School, in the late 1960′s, the Pledge continued, but I was now refusing to participate. I stood during the ritual, but would not repeat the words, nor place my right arm across my heart. It was The Times… At times, merely the Fashion Statement of a young, sheltered, counter-culture wannabee, and, as I approached military draft age, a serious gesture with as many real consequences as I was willing to face.
Viet Nam came and went “without” me. None of us were left untouched, but I didn’t have to deal with the draft issue by leaving this country one way or another. I’m grateful for that. I DID leave the U.S., and it was partially due to The Times, but only because I was sick & tired of what I saw, and how I felt about it.
Nearly 35 years have passed. Most of those years had nothing to do with issues of Patriotism. My days were centered on my career, my art, my daily life & relationships. My personal version of “patriotism” has been feeling love for, and a willingness to defend, the important parts of my life.
Today, for the first time in my life, I bought and displayed an American flag on the front of our home. My history makes this a moment of some ambivalence, but mainly it just feels right. Feels. Right.”

“Every December 7th”

December 7, 2003:
December 7, 1941.
62 years ago.

Most of us reading this now weren’t around then, yet I think about that day each year as it comes by. It was truly THE defining moment for my parent’s generation, as JFK’s assassination was mine, and the terrorist attacks of 9-11-01 probably are for the next.
There’s no way to evaluate which moment had a larger impact on those who were hit by it. That’s too personal. Yes, my parents (still in high school), and their parents (my grandparents), were aware of Hitler’s aggressions in Europe (though no one seemed to take his book “Mein Kampf” all that seriously), and there was constant debate about U.S. involvement in “the war over there”. (Italy and Japan were lower on the list of concerns.) So THAT wasn’t a surprise. And, IF you kept up on politics, you would’ve known we were pushing the Japanese to the edge with boycotts and blockades. You might have surmised something from that. Yes, the attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Center was a shocking and deadly event, but terrorism was not a new concept to the world at large, and we knew we weren’t winning any popularity contests. And yes, the Presidential assassination was awful for many reasons too.
And no, I’ll never forget them. I don’t WANT to.
When I try to find the common thread in these events, it’s NOT the VIOLENCE, because we’re informed of violence every single, solitary day – from local to international levels. It’s not the SCALE of the events, because we learn of mass population slaughters, starvation, and contagious diseases in one country or another on a regular basis. Nor is it in the WAY these people died, for other ways are equally horrendous.
What it IS, is US. US in the U.S. We, as a people, have been involved in a lot of violence, but most of it happens in other places – not OUR place – not within the territory nor the living memories of our Story Tellers, the History people. They’re gone now. There’s no one left to speak to us about the Civil War or Manifest Destiny. No “eye witnesses” remain. It’s “just” History.
Violence hasn’t vanished. Groups of our people have faced and still face it to this day. The difference is the “WE” – the “US” – on “OUR TURF”. This was what made Pearl Harbor a turning point. It was on “OUR” Naval base, even if not in our country. It was OUR President, and OUR city of Dallas. It was OUR Pentagon, OUR airlines, OUR Twin Towers, OUR New York City, and OUR people.
The thread is: our false sense of security – our “bubble” – which was burst again – and we’re not used to that. It doesn’t happen often. It seems like each generation gets their one big shock.
Bless this country that I could grow up in an Indiana neighborhood in the 1950′s, without as many of the daily fears that kids carry inside them now. Bless the days that I COULD take COMPLETELY for GRANTED…as though I was born into the magic… as though I had the automatic RIGHT to assume such a life.
That’s NOT how it happened.
As I played in the sandbox, raced my bicycle, or hiked in the woods, all the adults in my neighborhood – at least those that survived World War II – silently carried the physical and psychic wounds of 20 years of Great Depression and World War that wounded and destroyed millions. Had THEY not done what they had to do, MY life, and YOUR life, would not resemble ANYTHING like what we’ve known, probably assumed, & appreciated them to be – to this very day.
Bless those adults.
Most of us have had the luxury of being dilettantes in a gritty, real world that never lets up. So carry your “marker” – the Assassination, the Terrorism of Sept.11 – for they are valid. But understand: they stand out due to contrast, and we remain privileged.
THIS is what I think about every December 7th.

“Saddam likes Frank Sinatra”

December 14, 2003:
Okay. Saddam Hussein’s caught. “We got ‘im”. Good. I’m glad.
For the first couple of hours on television this morning, the facts were disseminated (even if with terms like “spider hole”, “rat hole”, and “hovel”), and I listened closely. I want the facts. But, once you’ve given me the facts, say so, tell me you’re now going to repeat those facts, and stop trying to keep me with you.
Don’t get baroque… and I don’t need to be entertained.
NOW, everyone on tee-vee, running out of new facts but wanting to keep the audience, has begun waxing poetic, philosophical, psychological…”What would you say the proud people of Iraq, with their rich past, are now feeling and thinking, as they learn about the U.S. capture of their Evil Ruler?”
“We’ve begun to see a lot of violence, since the announcement. We can’t tell if the Iraqi people are retaliating or celebrating due to Hussein’s capture…”
Yeh, we REALLY understand these people, and have a good grip on what they want, need, & will accept. Yeh.
Did you know that little Saddam was abused as a child? I didn’t.
Hey, you know who I haven’t thought about in awhile? That old dude in, uh, was it Afghanistan, Iran, or Turkey? The guy hiding in caves…what was his name? I’d forgotten about him, what with all this Iraq business. How long’s it been since those two buildings in New York City were destroyed, anyhow? You know when I think of those buildings? When I see ‘em during the opening of old repeats of the “Friends” tee-vee show.
Did you know that Saddam liked Frank Sinatra and Johnnie Walker?
I didn’t.
~

(The following are 9-11-01 memories of my Cousin Connie:)

“September 11…
Wow… I was at work very early (like 7AM), working on the internet and email. Suddenly, about an hour later, the net went bizarro… slow.. weird.. then my IM popped up with a message from my friend Laurie from Philly.
“TURN ON THE TV!!! PLANES HAVE CRASHED INTO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER IN NYC!”
My mind was confused. A plane had crashed into the Empire State Building in the early 1940′s due to bad weather, was this the same thing??
I ran into our multi-purpose room and turned on the TV…smoke, destruction, flames, shock.
I grabbed the phone.. who do I call??
I called Mary.. who now lived in Sioux Falls SD.
Mary USED to live in NYC.. she worked for Citicorp as a VP. She was making a call at the World Trade Center the FIRST TIME the extremists tried to bring it down. They used a truck bomb in the basement parking garage to try to blow up the building. Mary had to walk down 92 floors trying to breathe, trying to see, trying to survive. She was in the hospital for nearly a week due to lung and eye problems.
Her first item of business after being released from the hospital was to tell her boss she wanted to transfer. WHY?? Why the hell not! She told him she would NEVER again be in a building where the Fire Department could not reach her in an emergency. Citicorp had a processing center in Sioux Falls SD. The tallest building in Sioux Falls was 12 stories. She demanded the transfer. To hell with corporate climbing! She just wanted to LIVE!!! When I called her she was already crying. We watched and cried together for over an hour. She kept saying ” I TOLD everyone they would not stop until they destroyed it. They want us dead.”
I pulled the TV into the main part of the library and left it on. People staggered in and out all day, not talking, but just needing to be with other people. It was nightmarish. Then the plane hit the Pentagon. I got scared. My friend Sue from high school was a long-time civilian worker at the pentagon. I tried to email her, but nothing. I emailed her at home. Nothing. I tried to call her at home. The lines were blocked. I was so afraid she was dead. Three days later I got an email from her. She was safe, but the area where she worked was destroyed. She was on the other side of the Pentagon, doing someone elses job that day, because someone had called in sick. Her boss was killed, her office was destroyed. She was working from her garage at home for the foreseeable future while repairs were made.
Then the planes stopped flying. A week of no planes, no contrails, no noise. I think that scared me more than anything. In my entire life, there had never been a day when no planes flew. They even had the National Guard out at the South Bend Airport WITH GUNS!
To add to this weirdness, my son Rusty had won a trip to the Mexican Rivera to a golf resort. He was scheduled to fly down the day they lifted the NO-FLY provisions. The travel agent must have called him 1000 times that week: it was on, it was off, you cant take golf clubs (they could be used as a weapon), you need all kinds of new paperwork, etc. He was nervous, I was nervous. He and his buddy (who had also won the the trip) drove to Chicago O’Hare at MIDNIGHT and slept on top of their luggage for an 8am takeoff. At 2 am, the bomb sniffing dogs came in. Then the drug sniffing dogs came in. Then they were individually searched (down to their underwear), then they had to open their bags and unpack everything and even squeeze out toothpaste (plastique) and turn on computers and cell phone(timing devices for bombs). Then they searched the empty airplane. Finally at 9am, they were released for the FIRST FLIGHT after the no-fly ban. Scared? You betcha!
Rusty said through the entire process (2am to 9AM) no one said a word. No one complained, no one objected to ANY search. Everyone knew it was for the common good. When airborn, the flight was so quiet. People kept writing letters home ” just in case” and handing them to the stewardess.
When they landed in Mexico, the resort had sent a bus to pick everyone up. They even had booze, but no one wanted it. They just were freaked out. Rusty said it was the lousiest week of vacation he had ever had. The return trip was better (only 3 hours of searching rather than 6 hours!), but it was a nerve-wracking week for everyone. When he walked in the door, we fell on each other like we had been apart for YEARS, not a week. We were both emotional and stressed. 911 was now HERE, in South Bend, and we were there. He still has trouble talking about that flight. He still has problems flying. He used to LOVE to fly, especially in private planes. Not any more. He takes nothing for granted.
Connie”

(The following are memories from my friend Genny)

“”September 11, 2001 was a gorgeous early fall day here in Eastern Virginia. The sky was a spectacular blue, the humidity was low, and the temperatures were mild. Joanne was 3 years old; I dropped her off at day care around 8:30 and drove up to my library office about ten miles away. Things started to become surreal shortly after 9AM. One of my staff members had the CNN website up on her computer, and it showed what appeared to be a small plane that had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. Pretty soon it became clear that it was not a small private plane but a jumbo jet. The web became more and more difficult to surf as news sites crashed under the weight of users trying to access them. Telephone service became spotty (Brent’s number at William and Mary rang a fast busy), as did email access. Eventually, we set up a television in a large meeting room so staff members and users could have a glimpse of what might be happening. I know I saw one of the towers collapse live on the Today Show. I remember Katie Couric reporting that she had spoken with someone in the building who said, “We’re f-ing dying up here.”
I received a call from a colleague based in Rhode Island. He told me a weird story about a plane that had crashed somewhere in Pennsylvania. Somehow I also caught wind of another crash at the Pentagon. It started to feel like something was working its way down the Eastern seaboard, and it struck me that this area might be next. We’re a “first-strike” zone with Norfolk Naval Base and a host of other military installations nearby. I knew that if something awful were to happen, I would not want Joanne to experience it without her mommy close by. So I just left the office.
As I drove down the highway with radio reports playing, I kept thinking what I was going to tell Joanne. I didn’t want to lie to her, but I didn’t want to frighten her unnecessarily, either. When I arrived at her daycare center, her class was in the midst of naptime. I hung out for a while in the infant room, enjoying the companionship of the babies and their caregivers. We exchanged tidbits of things we had heard; it was clear there were a lot of rumours flying around.
As usual, Joanne finished her nap long before her classmates. I hugged her and took her out in the hallway to collect her things. I distinctly remember her saying in her enchanting little voice (a combination of baby timbre and clear articulation), “Mommy, why are you here so early?” I took a deep breath and told her “Joanne, there’s been a terrible accident in New York City. Two big buildings have collapsed. Lots of people are hurt very badly, and some of them have even died. Grown ups like me feel awful about it. I came to be with you so I could feel better.” She considered this explanation for a moment and asked me three unforgettable questions. “Mommy, is New York City very far away?” I answered yes of course, deciding there was no point in bringing up the Pentagon. “Were there any children in those buildings?” I said no, assuring her that the buildings were places were grown-ups went to work. It’s just as well that I didn’t know about the onsite daycare that was safely evacuated. Finally, she said, “Were there any ladies there with babies in their tummies?” I still marvel at that one. I told her that I really didn’t know but I very much hoped there weren’t. Gosh love her, the longer I think about it the more I see that she was making a very logical attempt to assure herself that she and her little peers weren’t in any danger.
We left the center and I took her to Target to buy the Disney Little Mermaid Barbie she had been wanting. She was delighted, and I felt better. If only for a little while.
–Genny”

“9-11-01 x 5″
(The following is an exchange of thoughts between myself and good friend James, over the subject of 9-11-01):

As I said I would, over the last three nights I have watched the three films I own about the September 11th, 2001 attacks.
Each one has a different feel. They were made from different bases: Two French documentary film makers following recruits for the NYC Fire Department; the assemblage of hundreds of personal documents made by civilians; and, the events as experienced through the newsroom staff at CNN.
They are SO different, if it wasn’t for the images of the Twin Towers and the dust covered avenues, I’m not sure you would recognize they were all about the same event.
I don’t think that’s bad, I just think it’s more reliant on interpretation than I had expected.
So goes History. It’s not only a patchwork quilt of moments (and by implication, those left out), but various viewpoints on the moments themselves. As time passes, the quilt WILL shrink and fade… as fewer people need its confirmations and symbols. The entire quilt will then be used as a piece in the larger quilt…but this too will shrink and fade. And it too will be sewn into the larger quilt.
So goes History.
For now, for me, this IS one of the larger pieces of my small life, and it matters to me, as it does many others.
Ronn.

Ronn,
As I told you, I am still awaiting United 93 to arrive in my mailbox. It didn’t come today, so my guess is it will arrive instead on Monday. How apropos.
My fiance and I discussed why she would not watch the film with me. Her answer was that she already knew how it would end and she didn’t want to watch a movie about people dying. Furthermore, she wasn’t really sure she was ready to watch a movie about a subject so fresh in her memory. She finally agreed to try and watch it, but didn’t promise to make it through all of it.
As she and I were discussing this, I was busy downloading something I’ve had for a long time now, but never in its’ full form: the Howard Stern show from 9-11-2001. Surprisingly, he stayed on the air the whole time while New York was in a total state of disarray. For one day, he found himself completely out of his element. It begins as a typical Stern show; he degrades an obese woman who sues a New York hospital for being unable to provide her with an MRI, promises lots of naked women in the studio, and about 2 hours into it, begins telling a story about kissing Pamela Anderson.
He, his crew, and a caller are discussing whether or not he could have “closed the deal” when he interrupts, saying: “I hate to interrupt this story, but I have a breaking news story. I mean, this is real important news, so I have to read it. Apparently, a plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center.”
For the first few seconds after that announcement, there is shock, disbelief, and confusion. What size plane was it? How bad is it? The towers and the Empire State Building have been hit before; is this terrorists? Was it an accident? Howard doesn’t know, but he says, “You know, I’m auditioning for Dan Rather’s job. This could be my ‘Dan Rather story’”, and goes back to more important matters. That’s right, whether or not he bagged Pam Anderson.
Moments later, he mentions the accident to the caller. The caller says, “WHAT? You’re kidding! They’re right outside my window! Let me look! OH MY GOD! They’re on fire! And I mean not some little fire! The whole thing is in flames! Oh, uh, I gotta go to my roof and see this! I’ll call you back!”
At this point, everyone on the show decides they should turn on the TV and watch what’s going on. While they watch, there is more talk of terrorists, discussion of who’s in the building, the size of the hole, how the fires will be put out, and, of course, Pam Anderson. Nothing really earth-shattering. And then, they see the same image many of us had the grave misfortune of seeing that day. The second plane hits Tower number 2. A sound of collective shock hits the airwaves and Howard yells, “Oh my God, we’re under attack! We’re under attack!…We’re at war.”
Panicked phone calls begin coming in.
“It’s them towel-head bastards!”
“Howard, what’s going on? All the news channels are completely out!”
“This is chaos! It’s like Armageddon.”
“We should bomb everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE who opposes us.”
They go back to the TV around hour number 3 of the program, just as the first tower collapses. I jumped a little further, only to find myself at a point in the program as the producer read a statement about people jumping out of the towers to their death. At this point, I absolutely, positively had to stop listening. I felt like throwing up. Shortly thereafter, some jackass decided to go drag racing down a nearby street. The squealing of his tires, the roar of the engine, and the sound of him peeling out scared me so much that it reminded me of the last time I had a scare like that. Shortly after 9/11, at about 3 in the morning, I was sitting downstairs alone in my apartment. All of a sudden, a set of jet fighters roared overhead. It sounded like they were flying just inches above my roof. This was completely new to my neighborhood. They never circled around, but for the next few minutes, I kept waiting to hear explosions in the distance.
I was 21 years old when all this happened. I was living alone for the first time in my life. Was I scared? Nah. I was young, stupid, and incredibly cynical. I was watching the media exploit another story. I mean, how many times was I going to see the towers fall as they went to commercial? How many times were the planes going to crash into the buildings? And when the flags began appearing in the background of the footage, who were they trying to fool with this “Rah-rah-sis-boom-bah-USA-USA-USA” mentality? (The countless tribute specials, flag merchandising, T-shirts, footage of government officials singing “God Bless America” etc did not help.) I asked why we were so special. Things like this happened all over the world, sometimes for days, weeks, months. And the fact that my roommate, whom I now believe to be sociopathic, was saying things along the line of “I’m glad this happened” didn’t bother me. I have a homemade DVD of footage from that day. Wanna guess how many times I’ve watched it since making it? That’s right…zero. When all was said and done, it was just another day.
I watched the CBS 9/11 documentary with a slight interest. Perhaps the most shocking thing I noticed was that profanity was being allowed on TV before 9 PM. Five years later, people are now calling for the profanity and some of the more shocking images to be edited out of the film. Does anyone else recall when they asked the same thing of a certain Spielberg film when it made its network TV debut? Seemed absurd to me then, seems absurd to me now. Sometimes profanity is necessary.
So here I am, five years later, faced with United 93. I was hoping I’d get a chance to view it on or before 9/11. If the mail system works in my favor, I’ll have that chance. I’m going to have to bolster myself for this like I never have before. Schindler’s List was the first dramatic film I saw in my then 15 years of life. When I left the theater, I observed people crying, shaking, openly weeping. I was in no way connected to those events, but I walked out
knowing I had seen a very powerful film. If done correctly, I realize United 93 could bring things out in me that I’m not used to. I may cry, I may want to scream; even now, my stomach is doing knots thinking about it. My head is spinning, my palms are sweating, my heart is beating as if it wants out of my chest.
I’m not sure what changed within me in 5 years to make me afraid to recollect a moment of my past. But, for the first time in my life, I understand that I HAVE to see this film. Ready or not.
James

James,
Your memories and thoughts on 9-11-01 are very thoughtful and elegant.
You’re older. Now you’re understanding that your fears are grounded in real possibilities, and, there but for the Grace of God or Pure Dumb Luck, YOU could’ve just as easily been one of the people who faced the 2 choices: burn to death, or, jump from 100 stories high. You now understand that you, and everyone you love, are equally vulnerable, and the lesson isn’t to stay out of New York or tall buildings – the lesson is it happens anywhere at any time for any reason, and you may become one of the members of that moment.
You’re not just older, you’re much more mature, and you’re one of the most honest people I know. Honest people aren’t just honest with others, they’re honest with themselves. You acknowledge your flaws, but you work at change. I can see that you’re going to lead an honest life, with your nerves more exposed to pain and pleasure. You will see more…so, you will also feel more. You’ll like it & you’ll dislike it. You’ll feel more for yourself, and for others. You are now leaving the confines of your ego more often.
I can’t tell you where your path will lead, or what the inevitable obstacles will be, but I CAN say you WILL be faced with decisions about how many walls to put around your sensitivities, and all I can suggest is you try to avoid building them as often as possible. You’ll only look back wishing there were more doors – that you’d FELT MORE – good AND bad.
Recollecting your Past is something adults do differently than children. Children use the Past as a reference source for the Present, and only later, the Future. Adults begin using the Past not only as that, but as a gauge, a scale, a clock, a measure of Righteousness. Have you used YOUR TIME wisely? Have you added to the quality of Lives, have you the time to change, to correct, to turn a glimmer into a habit? Your mortality has arrived wearing fewer masks.
If you’re anything like me, this phase will also shift. I’ve come to a place where I accept much more as being too complex and needing too much time and energy for me to manage the change – especially by myself. The daze of my wanting to adjust the world purely through my individual Will, are over. I see the Inevitable, and I accept – only sometimes with sadness – the Inevitable. You’re being revisited by your increasingly detailed ideas about Death.
I have seen hundreds or thousands of photos and films of THE moments of death over the last couple of years. It’s part of the World War II study package, you could say. It’s unavoidable. In the last few days, as I’ve watched the documentary footage of 9-11-01, I see those people caught high in the buildings responding to their situation in various ways also. Some made final calls to loved ones, and said their good byes. All the messages I have heard were about Love. Some left messages, bluffing about their status, as an attempt to comfort those who would survive…
Aside from the brave fire fighters & police who had a much deeper understanding of the circumstances and CHOSE to face their almost certain death, we now know, through testimonies, there were civilians inside the buildings who hung back, trying to get the elderly, the handicapped, the overweight, the children, the hurt out first. We know that these people died horrible deaths – by choice. I have also seen film of the pedestrians outside running along NYC streets, trampling over those who have fallen… and trampling over those who have stopped to help the fallen.
I have seen the footage of Jews and Slavs digging their own graves, then passively kneeling in front of the Nazis, so they could be shot in the head & fall conveniently into their own dirt holes. I have read about the groups who refused to cooperate, and instead chose to attack the weapon laden soldiers with bare hands and their last breath of energy …sometimes harming no one, sometimes killing a few Nazis before being killed themselves…sometimes managing a few escapes – to fight another day with the Resistance Movement. I have read about Flight 93, where many of the passengers decided to fight back, attempting to save the innocent others ahead, from another jet crash attack. I have seen the photos of concentration camp members who ran to their intentional deaths on the electrified fence.
We have choices on how to Live, and sometimes, how to Die. I honor those who make the Ultimate Choice for the chance to not only remove an Evil, but help an Innocent survive.
We’re going to die anyhow. The real choice, if given one at all, is HOW.
Ronn.

“Referring to 9-11-01 in 2006″

I don’t know what YOUR plans are in relation to five years having passed since the date of the attack, but I have been collecting documentary videos of that day, and intend to view them all on this anniversary.
I know the media will be showing lots of footage, but it will be abused with stupid commentaries, useless interviews, unnecessary filler, and unintentionally surreal advertising. I don’t want that experience. I DO want to give this moment in our history the attention it DOES deserve.
True, they are numerous events in the 20th century. You might want to add to my list. I have made every effort to keep it as significant and unexaggerated as possible. I’m focusing on only those monumental and devastating events I see as affecting the majority of our population in serious, numerous, lasting ways:

  • 1917: OUR entry into World War I.
  • 1929: The start of OUR Great Depression.
  • 1941: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – OUR entry into World War II.
  • 1945: Our completion and military use of two atomic bombs to end WWII with Japan.
  • 1963: The assassination of our president John F. Kennedy.
  • 1968: The assassination of American leaders Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
  • 1969: The first Moon landing.
  • 2001: The successful mass murder of Americans, by Muslims, in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C..

I share personal scars from 1963, 1968, and 2001. I don’t try to hide them, and I acknowledge them publicly.

“The Traffic of Suicides”

Saturday night, I watched the 2002 film “9/11”. This is the French documentary that follows a few rookie fire fighters through training and their early weeks on the job in New York City. It is THIS camera duo who, by pure ugly “luck”, filmed the planes hitting the World Trade Center buildings (which is footage you probably saw). It was also these two men, the Naudet brothers, especially the one assigned to follow the departmental Chief, who entered the Center and kept filming, while the top floors burned, and the buildings were headed towards total collapse. This is NOT Oliver Stone junk. This is the REAL thing.
They would capture the last images of many frightened, doomed, determined, brave fire fighters. My heart aches when I see these shots, my anger reminds me it does not dissipate, and I, again – with a renewed sense of awe – keep these people in mind as THE DEFINITION OF HEROISM.
These men KNEW there was little chance of returning once they began climbing up those stairwells in full gear, with an extra 60 pounds each on their backs, and thousands of people rushing down the stairs in a panic, and none of the 80 elevators working (in fact, those shafts became the conduit for explosive, ignited fuel to shoot all the way to the basements, making each floor explode from the pressure) – they KNEW. You can see it on their faces.
To get up, it would take them a full minute per floor. They faced 78 floors of climbing before hitting full fire and complete devastation… or at least that’s how it appeared at the moment.
Meanwhile, paper, glass, metal, fire, and body parts rained over the streets and rooftops of N.Y.C. for blocks. People were suffocating in the smoke. With the camera crew in the lobby of one building, you hear a slow, constant rhythm of HUGE, explosive bangs just outside… which are people jumping to their deaths – their bodies hitting cars, streets, overhangs – average people choosing this over burning – some jumping together – co-workers – hand in hand. In fact, the bodies were soon falling at such a fast rate, that firefighters and others who were now told “MAY DAY, MAY DAY!! EVACUATE!!!!” needed to wait inside for police, who were standing on the outside, to signal WHEN they could run out of the doomed building, so no one was killed by those people smashing to the ground from eighty or more stories up.
The police were directing the Traffic of Suicides.
This is 120 minutes of inspiring behaviors and personal sadness brought about by the Evil of those killers.
I WILL NEVER FORGET.

Finally, I wrote this:

“Yesterday was a day in which I gave no time to studying World War II books or documentary films.
I spent most of yesterday, my day off, viewing and reabsorbing the hours of documentary films I have on “9-11″ – WTC, Pentagon, and United Flight 93 airspace attacks.
Here’s how I feel about reviewing it: it’s a double-edged sword. If it wasn’t for the medias, we wouldn’t be nearly as informed as we are and we would seldom see evidence of any event. This is the good edge.
The other edge is the edge that removes the edge. The medias, in their rush to compete for an audience, will repeat and sensationalize and repeat and up the ante and repeat relentlessly – until we are all numb from the blitz.
Upon a first viewing, a person trapped 80 stories up in a building and waving for help – only to be left with the hopeless choice of burning to death or jumping to death – is beyond powerful. It is their Ultimate Truth. Most of us don’t ever FACE such a final nightmare like that. We cling to splinters of Hope in the face of every challenge. We think of reuniting with our Loved Ones. We think of Home, and our Past, and our Plans for the Future, and THIS IS NOT THE TIME to die! We have learned that this energy alone is the Force which gets us past the challenge and forward into our lives….but not for these people…and it’s on film for us to see.
See it too many times…and that person becomes a dot of colors in a dark rectangle with gray & black movements exiting against the blue backdrop. See it too many times and those colors become the inconsequential grain of a much larger shape. See it too many times and a poet might wax it into a huge granite tombstone symbol as existential cruelty of the human race. See it too many times, and the historian will finally shake her head and say
“Thus it was, is, and shall ever be….” Shrug.
I don’t want this to happen to me. Yes, I can’t help but think these things, and I don’t try to eliminate them. I DO try to keep my humanity specific and heart felt. THAT person called (or tried to call) those s/he loved – tried to comfort them – tried to say goodbye with a little bit of Grace in a completely chaotic Earthly Hell.
I remember the media blitz. I remember going numb. I also remember shutting the medias off when I “felt” the lack of feeling.
“TIME” can do the same thing to you… TO you.
I watch because it’s the only way I can honor their lives…by revisiting their horror…and by not turning away when they jump, or start up the stairs on a doomed rescue mission, or stay behind, reaching into the flames, helping others out first.
I watch because I don’t want to forget… and “forgetting” doesn’t have to mean it’s out of my head. It can mean having no feelings about it anymore. “It was a bad time… sure… but I’ve got things to do… and anyhow… thinking about it won’t bring them back. I mean, watchya gonna do, huh?”
You’re going to either file it away as something in your Past that isn’t any fun to think about, or, you’ll pull out the file, go through it, and do more than remember… you’ll FEEL. Those dying in Afghanistan and Iraq are FEELING, and no matter how you want to read the tea leaves of Politics, people like you and me are exploding into “pink mist” everyday with 9-11-01 as a major U.S. cause for reaction.

 

There but for dumb luck or the grace of a god go you, and you, and you, and me.

 

I REFUSE to take that for granted or let my memory go numb.
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I REFUSE.

 

 

 

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S.A.D.

August 26, 2012 by , under Larger Forces at Work.

 

 

Any Winter any Year, A.D.:

3:00 in the afternoon, and it looks like dusk. A chilly drizzle is thick between the sun and me. How dare it…

 


 

Even when I lived in the Land of Sun 350 Days Each Year (Southern Arizona), I resented those 15 days of gray. I am someone who NEEDS LOTS OF SUNLIGHT. A good friend in Colorado is the same way (and HE gets MUCH more sun there than I do in Virginia).  Especially with the onset of Winter, we both sink into a seasonal depression that can only be attributed to the lack of natural light.

There are special lamps and other lighting devices designed to fight this depressive effect. They were invented in one of the Scandinavian countries. (Spend a Winter (a Lifetime) there, and you’ll understand why.)  A year ago I researched these appliances.  This week I told my friend about them.  His response (and the lack of sunlight was already working on him) was: “I can’t get one of those. The design is just TOO ugly!” My comeback was: “Yes, but once the lamp helps you, you won’t care!”

Yes, a joke, but it’s almost true. The acronym for this sunlight deprivation is “S.A.D.” – which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. I prefer to think of it as Sunlight’s Absent Depression.  They’ve probably saved the lives of many people stuck under the blanket of perpetual twilight.

When I lived in Holland (see photo above), Winter days were very short, and the nights very long. In summer, just the reverse: the dawn began about 3:00 a.m., and evening about 10:00 p.m. You’ve heard of “jet lag” – well, THIS is “planet lag”! Dutch Winter didn’t help my condition at all.
It’s something I hadn’t given any consideration at all when deciding to move there. NOT that it would have DETERRED ME, but it did catch me by surprise. (Isn’t that what your 20′s are all about… NO deterrents and LOTS of surprises?) I moved there for the social, political, and educational reasons. Once there, and these “other things” began DAWNING” on me (pun intended), I finally took the time to browse a globe. Well, what about THAT?! Holland is at the same latitude as Central Canada! THEY probably see an occasional Polar Bear!! Me – who thrives on warm, dry air and bright sun – put myself in the Northern Land of the Chilly Windy Misty Gray Sky…

Best laid plans…


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Is my little brother going to live with us forever?

August 25, 2012 by , under Larger Forces at Work.

 

Today I am taking a break from studying the Holocausts of World War Two for what I know will be a couple days of Light Summer Reading – “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” by Bill Bryson*.  It arrived in the mail yesterday. 

The morning sun is coming in through the front of the house, I have coffee here next to me, the dishwasher is running, two loads of laundry need attention, and the book awaits.  I have a couple errands… but they can take a back seat.

- (soon after)

* By page 4 I am laughing out loud.

- (later)

I can’t imagine anyone NOT laughing their ass off reading this wonderful book.*

The point of view is that of a boy born into the middle class of 1951 Midwest America in Des Moines Iowa.  Although it has those slants, I think girls and other ages would love it too.  The era was unique, that’s for sure, but THAT era was really a pause in a larger era.

What kids found waiting for them in the 50′s (and beyond) was a world run by their adults with beliefs, habits, and personal scars established in the preceding two decades of Great Depression and World War.  These adults were forced to make every effort to literally SURVIVE their entire youth.  Many did not make it.  Anyone who had the luck to receive lesser blows in that gauntlet were, I AM CERTAIN, privately wounded for the remainder of their lives and quietly grateful for the way-too-short time of plenty and peace to follow.  They watched their children grow through and take entirely for granted a period that was an ANOMALY in American history.  Their children believed life had always been and would always be like what they saw on that every day they awoke.

What reaches beyond that time and place are the things most fortunate children seem to discover, question, and twist into personalized, mystical explanations so sufficient any adult consultation is unnecessary.

What is “too high” in a tree?

Where do babies come from?

What does a Squirrel think about?

Was my Grandpa joking when he said he had a dinosaur as a pet?

Is my little brother going to live with us forever?

What would it be like to live inside that Lilac bush?

Do any people have tails?

Where EXACTLY does God live?

Can you make a bomb out of this stuff?

Q:  Were the wild Strawberries under the shady cover of Poison Ivy sweeter?  A:  Yes, it was a requirement.

 

Things like that. 

 

And, the answer was, more often than not, “Yes!”

 

 

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I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

August 24, 2012 by , under Larger Forces at Work.

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Sinead O’Connor’s album “I do not want what I haven’t got” is playing. (Isn’t that the title?) It HAS to be her very best work. Her voice, the instruments, musical scores, lyrics, her heritage and passion all came together in an Artful album.

Sadly, soon after its release, she blew her career to pieces with public displays of political anger that did NOT work on ANY level. She did NOT make a strong statement (merely felt strongly about it), did NOT change one iota of the situations disturbing her, and did NOT assist her own career – with longevity in mind. Being bald (political statement & good publicity), beautiful (always useful in our world), having serious talent & the accompanying motivation, a great voice, and a fairly unique vision, WITH A STRONG FOLLOWING ! was not enough for her. She was impatient. She was immature.

It only took a few of those “Saturday Night LIVE Sinead is unreliable and out of control tearing up photos of the Pope in front of the camera” stunts to get professional doors slamming in her face. I must admit, I TOTALLY understand her goals and emotions. I believe she was earnest. I could list some of my own gestures that were filled with honest concern and bullish movements in the china shops of my world. I don’t need to mention them.  They’re embarrassing.

She felt she had power. She was young, involved, and successful. Sinead didn’t want to waste precious time with a “plan”. Perhaps she thought that since the music biz was fickle, and her time was probably limited anyhow, it was best to “strike” while her iron was hot. I can’t say. But, the spotlight fell on her… HARD. She was burnt by the heat.

Old sayings come to mind: “Choose your battles wisely”, “Think things through”, “Don’t act with haste”, “Prepare for the long haul”, “Don’t burn your bridges” (a personal favorite and weakness), etc. etc. etc. Old person sayings.

You couldn’t make ME listen to that stuff either, and most of my “power” was generally the product of youthful delusion. You know… big fish/small pondism. As I grew, the world got bigger right along with me. SURPRISE!!! It was during this time that I learned I was not cut out for the attention that came with overt success. I preferred working solo in the trenches (teaching, for example), but without the leeches, mud, and stink of low tide (committees, for example). I’m not a good team player. Some people are. I am not. That’s all. It’s made life more difficult, the way I see it. I tried all the standard maneuvers such as pretending to like someone I didn’t, showing fake respect for the babblings of higher-up idiots, keeping my promises and deadlines no matter how silly… all that social-business gaming.

BUT, by the time I was 20, I’d absorbed the belief that being open & honest was a +++PLUS+++ and could make life EASIER. You didn’t spend energy remembering lies, and people appreciated truth as much as you… even truth that was ACTUALLY THE TRUTH!! I carried this into adulthood.

Wrong moves, deluded one. The problem was, I had comrades. A group formed (yes, mainly the same group of friends that were also artists), and we held the same beliefs. Gee, THAT gave us a sense of being on the right track, and we cultivated one another. We built the Ivory Tower together. We reveled in the facts, the honesty, the SECURITY of KNOWING where you stood with yourself and friends. How could ANYONE in the world want ANYTHING OTHER THAN THAT? How indeed.


(… Do you smell something burning?)

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Survivors Amongst Us

August 22, 2012 by , under Larger Forces at Work.

 

Part One:  October 30, 2002

I’m finally reading “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, written by William Shirer in 1959. I find it ASTOUNDING how this book was assembled and written with such thoroughness, style, accuracy, and relative speed from the ashes of a devastated world.

My copy is paperback, printed in 1968 – the 5th printing in less than a decade. It was still selling in huge quantities 23 years after the end of WWII! The book is 1,500 pages of small print and even smaller footnotes. Incredible. I’m only 75 pages into it and have already needed to tape the cover back on. A yellowed paperback just seemed somehow appropriate to me when I purchased this chronicle.

The book was a best seller. THAT requires A LOT of readers. I asked myself: “Could there BE be BEST SELLER HISTORY BOOK – NOW – with 1,500 pages of small type and no pictures?” I’ve been in better moods than I am at the moment, but my answer is still a considered “No.”

Try and come up with a contemporary equal. I dare you. Imagine the book of 1,500 pages that documents every tiny, related speck of a moment, conversation, and person involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks. With no pictures. And all those footnotes. Now imagine that the book isn’t PUBLISHED until 2025 – 14 years after the incident occurred. Do YOU think it would be a “BEST SELLER”? I don’t. Yet, that IS what happened to Shirer’s book. It happened without the cover sporting a color laser 3-D blinky image or the promise of silicone engorged privacies.

My point, if I have one, is I am bothered at the ease at which we Baby Boomers and the Youngers so casually place the Great Depression and World War II on a dusty, old shelf at the same out-of-reach height as many other events over the last 70 years… as though we aren’t reaping the hard-won gifts given to us by those that suffered. WE have SURVIVORS – PARTICIPANTS of these MONUMENTAL events – walking among us even today. THEY do NOT forget these horrors or take for granted what it took to give US what we have.

 

 

Part Two:  August 23, 2012

My past attitude embarrassed me and I began changing my behavior.

(Note: It is now 10 years after the above writing.  I have continued studying World War II.  My library now contains not just that one seminal book, but nearly 52,000 pages of books and 554 hours of documentary film footage. I DID change my behavior, and I am better for it.)

 

 

 

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Retirement Home for May Flies

August 21, 2012 by , under Larger Forces at Work.

 
I’m listening to talk radio. Most people make their arguments for or against something contemporary by comparing it to something in the past. That’s natural. So, this guy calls the talk show to make his point about the concern-des-la-momente and this is his comment that jumped out at me:

“…and in the OLD days – a decade a ago…”

SAY WHAT? WHAT IS HE? A MAY FLY??? How is it he came to such a compressed vision of time? An American antique is 100+ years old. A Chinese antique is 500+ years old. A decade for a Giant Tortoise is a weekend in the Gulf. A decade for our Earth isn’t a single grain of sand on her largest beach.

Of course most of us judge the VALUE of “Time” by the human life span. It’s a tad egocentric, but it’ll do for the daily grind of comparison thinking. So, how does a mere DECADE become The Olde Daze for some one that could be your very own neighbor?

Well… we judge Time by Markers. Markers are events that represent a significant change in our awareness. Significant changes can be huge and wonderful, awful, or just so intensely different that the past seems isolated:

  • Starting school.
  • First two-wheeled bicycle.
  • The start of menstruation.
  • First bra.
  • First shaving razor.
  • First date, first dance, first crush.
  • First car.
  • First love.
  • First orgasm.
  • First intercourse.
  • Graduations.
  • Reaching military draft age.
  • The divorce of parents.
  • The loss of feeling secure.
  • Reaching voting age.
  • First career.
  • First eyeglasses.
  • Serious crimes committed against you personally.
  • Serious violations of your privacy or honor.
  • Serious attacks upon your institutions.
  • Marriage.
  • First serious disease.
  • First gun.
  • First purchased home.
  • The births of children.
  • Menopause.
  • The death of a loved one.

Etc.

This guy may have had SO MANY events packed into his decade – a serious illness, deaths of loved ones, going back to school, a new career, a divorce, a new marriage, even being robbed outside the hospital on the same night his child was born… his last decade FEELS like – in fact IS, for him – the OLD days.

So, I picture the retirement home for May Flies… and they’re talking about the oldest resident… who’s not in the best of health, but still “alive and kicking”… having reached the Remarkable and Grand Old Age of 26 hours…

 

Time to fly.

 

 

 

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Stand up

August 10, 2012 by , under Larger Forces at Work, What Really Matters.

 

 


For years I have studied World War II.  Every day.  My library of books, photos, and documentary film has grown much larger than I ever anticipated.

Currently, I’m working on “I Will Bear Witness (1943-1945)” by Victor Klemperer.  I have come across references to his diaries in other books about WWII.  I can see why.  He made a serious and dedicated effort to document the 1930′s-1940′s world of Germany, Nazis, Aryans, and Jews in larger concepts; the propaganda, violence, insults, and secrecy of the Nazis; the “special” daily horrors visited upon Jews, their relatives, and anyone who dared even smile their direction; and his personal feelings, issues, weaknesses, pettinesses, and an ever-shifting sense of doom.

I’m 400 pages in.  It is now January 1945.  For Jews and other “sub-humans” in Germany, this is the 12th year of ever-increasing hate and segregation.  Rumors of Nazi weaknesses as well as their exterminations are the daily (secret) conversations among the few surviving Jews in Dresden (his home town).  “Night and Fog”.  Disease and starvation join with fear and exhaustion.  Moral issues lose ground to Existential demands.  One cannot stay angry – it requires too much energy, hope, and thought.  One cannot retain grudges – everyone needs others at every turn.  One cannot remain distant because closeness is needed, but one cannot become close because at any moment someone will vanish or die.  Dresden has been spared the now-constant Allied bombing of other German cities, and though they hope this continues, they also want the Nazis bombed into oblivion.  The “race” is on: “Shall I die by Nazi bullet or gas, shall I die by Allied explosion or fire, or, shall I, unlike almost everyone else I have ever known, survive both?”

And, IF I survive, WHY?  WHY?!??!??

For Klemperer, the reason for his surviving was to continue the diaries as Witness even as the Gestapo made continual raids on remaining Jewish living spaces looking for anything contraband – from unused fabric, tobacco or extra food to a secret radio or his diary writings (which would have brought his immediate execution).

He succeeded.  He Witnessed.

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Now stand up in your current state of ease and safety.  Look at what has not been taken from you, notice your lack of perpetual, real fear, and acknowledge your opportunity to think tomorrow still has something positive to offer.

 

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Copy. Cover. What’s the difference & who cares?

August 9, 2012 by , under Larger Forces at Work, The Antiques, Design and Art World.

 

August 9, 2012:

It’s raining. Beck is inside on the stereo doing some rapdisco funkthang.

I like Beck just as much as the next fella. He’s a talented musician. So is Lenny Kravitz, Phish, whoEVER… There IS a lot of talent out there doing their best to make SOMETHING of “value” in an atmosphere of total cultural and economic insecurity. (You may need some historical awareness or memory/time put in, to understand this short rant… but here we go:)

 

True “Modern” means consciously breaking with the past, and finding new solutions/expressions… not for the novelty, but for improvement / advancement of culture. Examples: Bauhaus design in our own early 20th century, Penicillin, and “designated drivers”.

“Contemporary” means anything that is currently available for consumption – even if it revels in the past. Example: Ethan Allen reproduction “early American” furniture. This attitude is based on the supply & demand of fashion. Fashion is contemporary. Nostalgia is contemporary. As you read this line, this moment is contemporary, but not yet nostalgic.

“Postmodern” means returning to the past to cherry-pick ideas and bring them forward with (hopefully) at least SOME creativity hidden in the shish-kabob of historical attachments. Example: the brilliant Italian Memphis Group designs of late 1970′s/early 1980′s Italy.

“Retro” is contemporary. (In the 1980′s, it was called “New Wave”.) It means producing new things designed look/sound/etc. like a period of the past. Example: Burger joints (a few of the McDonald’s, all the Sonics, and Rally’s) designed to look like those drive-ins of the 1950′s. This attitude is totally based on nostalgia and opportunism. Examples: The new BMW “Mini” car, the Plymouth Prowler, the Chevy HHR, Southern cuisine, and the B-52′s rock group.

“Rip Off” means copying that which has already been done. Example: Much of what we come in contact with each day. This attitude is totally based on greed and the lack of courage to be truly inventive.

 

You see? It’s that old Art vs Craft, Invention vs Tradition, Creativity vs Repetition thing again! And before a couple of you get your delicate bloomers in a wad, hey, I like traditions too! I like the tradition of holidays, stop signs, safe food, families, and my watching a film every night…

“Modernism”, as a very conscious (you might even say SELFconscious) movement, began around the end of World War I. It lasted, in one form or another, until the mid-1960′s. After that, Nostalgia took over again – which existed BEFORE WWI. (Art Nouveau was a nostalgia movement. “The machine is destroying us all. We need to grow more flowers, and live in the woods.” If this sound vaguely familiar, review the 1960′s counter culture movement…). Modernism, on the other hand, said “The solutions of the past aren’t working for us anymore… we need new answers for a world that hardly resembles what has come before.”

Considering what happened between 1860 and 1920, it’s no wonder. The mechanization of war, the industrial revolution, the car, electricity, the light bulb, camera, plane, train, the telegraph, telephone, radio, drug cures, you name it…………. it’s ASTOUNDING, really. The list feels endless.

 

Anyhow, I feel lucky that my formative years were within the last decade and a half of Modernism. Why? Because there was an all-encompassing optimism built into it. A FAITH that humans could, with enough effort, make a difference… and, with dedication, do ANYTHING we chose to do. Modernism allowed humans to think we could change the world for the better (or worse, if we weren’t careful)… and in fact, we created the evidence. We want things faster? Okay, we invented them. Bigger? Smaller? More powerful? You got it. What else do we want? Was it all for the better? No. But, would you rather live in pre-industrial America? I’ll just speak for me here:   No. NO way.

 

 

So Beck, Lenny, WHOEVER – god bless them all – are mere results (NOT causes) of our post-Modern illness in this culture too insecure (thus weak) to truly, TRULY look forward with the confidence I experienced (and took for granted) the first 13-15 years of my life.

 

Am I getting Nostalgic? Sure! I look longingly back at a time when we didn’t look longingly back.

 

PS: Anyone without conscious, personal memories before, say 1965 or 1970 is probably out of luck relating to this one… unless they’ve done a lot of reading and discuss such things with us OLD MODERN-minded folks.

BTW: Copying off the paper of another school kid near you WASN’T called “Covering”… except with your arm.

 

 

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The Rebels: Indiana & Arizona

July 31, 2012 by , under Larger Forces at Work.

 

I have lived in BOTH states in the U.S. that do NOT participate in the “Daylight Savings Time” concept… Indiana and Arizona. Bless them.

Guess what? The world spins, and while it spins it revolves around the sun – sometimes we have more light, sometimes less! GET OVER IT! Do you also want faux-control over the seasons? I mean, I love Fall… so maybe I could pressure my Virginia representatives to write a bill asking for “Fall Season Extension Time”. You know, like an extra week for Fall, which could be taken away from our hot, humid Summer. I like THAT!

Why am I even ranting about this? I’ll tell you why! Yesterday my neighbor and I were killing some of that “non-customer” time we’re seeing too much of these daze, and we got on the subject of reprogramming electronics. It’s something I hate. THAT got me on CLOCKS. THAT got me on D.S.T.. 

I said to him, “I’ll bet you I have AT LEAST 20 clocks that have to be retimed – TWICE A YEAR!!” He laughed. I guess I always sound extreme. It’s my style. But I’m not and to prove it I counted the clocks I have to deal with – clocks ON my person, clocks in vehicles, clocks in my store, clocks at home, clocks in my office… You’re laughing? You haven’t counted!? They’re on your DVD player, stereos, cell phones, dashboards, toys, walls, computers, nightstands, phone answering machines… AND TWICE A YEAR THEY NEED REPROGRAMMING, AND EACH ONE OF THEM REQUIRES A DIFFERENT SEQUENCE ON A DIFFERENT MENU!!!!!!! I hate it.

So he says: “Well, then don’t change them, just remember what time it is.”

Uh huh. Who do you think you’re talking to? Hello??? It’s ME, The Man With a Bad….. whachacallit… a Bad…. you know, when you can’t remember things……… a Bad Memory?

I said “THAT’S even MORE WORK than that damned reprogramming!”
I counted 22 of them. At least. I swear.

Ridiculous.

 

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Wal-Mart doesn’t need me

July 31, 2012 by , under Larger Forces at Work.

 

Unless something bad happens and it doesn’t get resolved, I ALWAYS try to give my business to the places that do a good job at a fair price, with a friendly, personal attitude, and is, preferably, an independent or local franchise business. There are already plenty of people supporting the Wal-Marts of the world. They don’t need me – not like the small stores.

Today - a day off – was composed of habits. I went to my local video store and spent about an hour choosing films I’ll watch (some with my wife) this coming week. The manager, Greg, welcomed me, we chatted, and he showed me a new photo of his freshly graduated Marine son… a good looking black man with blue eyes. He makes a striking presence.

While on my errands, I saw one of my bank tellers out on her lunch hour. We waved. I took a coupon with me to

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the nearby sandwich shop where both women employees welcomed me, and only after they made my my sandwich, did we discover my coupon expired. They gave me credit without my asking. I thanked them. (Id forgotten to check it with my reading glasses ON. Sigh.)

My neighborhood residents waved as I sat in the driveway cleaning years of road crud off the mag wheels of my Miata. THAT inspired me to clean the interior. While the top was down, yellow leaves fell into the car. I LIKE leaves in the car. It further blurs the idea of “interior” and “exterior” – as a convertible sports car should. It doesn’t even seem to bother my wife… in fact, on certain trips, she has helped me PICK leaves OFF the most colorful trees and “decorate” the Miata floorboards with them.

The mailman came by while I worked out in the driveway. We greeted each other and I asked if he could directly take a letter I need to mail. He could, and I thanked him.

Emails today were mainly e-chats with two old friends.

My wife, Pat, came home. I asked her how her slide presentation about “Kitchen Design Through the Years” went with the Kiwanis Club that requested her. Sounded like it went fine.

It is time to describe a day in which I wasn’t facing sociopaths, jerk-wads, crazy insistent people, and people handling unidentifiable meat in strange ways. Today was truly A Day Off.

 

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