“Treat The Earth Well, It Was Not Given To You By Your Parents, it Was Loaned To You By Your Children.”
Ancient Native-American proverb
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. A PRELIMINARY COMMENT ABOUT RECENT COMMENTS:
Someone commenting on my previous T&T post wrote, “It was amusing but not particularly funny.” I’ll have you know Mr. Commentator it was neither amusing nor funny. It was ridiculous. If you want funny how about this:
Q. What was Harpo Marx’s favorite joke?
A. “ “.
You didn’t get it? Didn’t think it was funny? Don’t know who Harpo is? Well, Mr. Critic as Groucho says, “If you want to see a comic strip you should see me in a shower.” That not good enough? Then “Those are my principles, if you don’t like them I have others.”
B. POOKIE’S DAZE:
January and February are dreary months. Grey skies, naked trees whose spindly branches scrape the heavens, slick damp ground, chilling breezes creep through every crack and the silence. In the mornings when I look out through the sliding glass doors to the back yard, I see only the bleakness of the season — a forlorn flower or two, naked trees and gray skies.
Naida and I spent the past few days watching the impeachment hearings. They fit the season. Dreary and dismal best describes the level of misery to which this nation has fallen. Again and again, the trial managers presented the facts and law that under the rule of law led ineluctably to the verdict they call for. Sadly, it appears the rule of law in our society has been shredded beyond retrieval.
The weekend arrived and I was getting restless. Not energetic mind you, just antsy like there is something I should be doing, exercising perhaps, or singing, maybe even taking a long hot bath. Instead on Saturday, we went to the coffee at Nepenthe Club House. That evening we watched “The Two Popes” on Netflix — great acting to go along with splendid shots of the Vatican and Castel Gandolfo. On Sunday while Naida was off visiting some old friends, I took Boo-boo the Barking Dog on a long walk through the Enchanted Forest. I am always amazed that no matter how many times I have walked through those woods over the almost two years I have lived here, I still find paths I had never walked on before and groves of majestic trees I had never seen.
I returned home to discover that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash. Perhaps, as far as history goes, his death is of little importance in light of the real possibility that our nation and even our world is poised on the brink of dissolution if not outright destruction. Nevertheless, the death of someone whose life, exploits and youthful enthusiasm have been cut short must sadden us all. Like a feather brushing up against my consciousness, it makes me wonder if it presents an analogy for our age, nation and indeed us all — the hero’s dreams and his enthusiasm for his future come crashing down in an uncontrolled helicopter. Good-by Kobe, I hope you find whatever it was that you devoted your life to.
I then took a nap, my usual remedy for depression. Later we watched a Nordic silent movie, Swedish I believe, in which a woman throws her three-year-old daughter over a cliff and then she and her lover die frozen to death in a snowstorm. It is interesting how it can be that even when you do little of anything to make you sad, it still can be a miserable day. But then again “tomorrow is another day.” (Scarlett O’Hara)
A few days later, the weather became warm for this time in the year — not balmy but lacking the cold wet chill of the winter months. In the early evening, Naida and I decided to take Boo-boo the Barking Dog on a long walk along the banks of the American River. It was a pleasant evening. There was a slight pink blaze in the sky to the Southwest. The naked trees painted dark stripes across our view of the river. We stopped for a bit at some benches along the path then continued our walk up to the Guy West bridge where we turned away from the river and meandered back home through the Enchanted Forest.
The pastel colors of the evening.
Naida and I rest for a moment during our walk.
A few days later the surprisingly balmy days continued so I drove into the Golden Hills. I picked up HRM after school at the Skatepark and took him to Nugget Market in Town Center for a healthy lunch of pepperoni pizza and soda. We had a great talk. I enjoy believing that I am the older wiser person guiding the callow youth past the rocky shoals of adolescence — an affectation, I know. He on the other hand, given his sweet temperament, probably considers it as spending a little time indulging a garrulous and lonely old man.
The next day, I returned to the Golden Hills for my physical therapy appointment. Before the appointment, I picked HRM and Jake from school and drove them to a nearby restaurant called the Relish House that served pretty good hamburgers. They chatted away about cars. H was excited that he had spent a day or two “detailing” Dick’s Mom’s automobile, a 30-year-old Honda. The car became Dick’s after his mom died and he promised it to H when he becomes old enough to drive in a year or so. H’s Mom objected and upset him very much.
It is mushrooms and camellias season in the Enchanted Forest. We had little or no winter this year — perhaps half a shiver’s worth. Now we seem to have slid into early spring without a cry of protest or a whisper of regret. Climate change will beguile us all for a moment or two before we may need to chant Kaddish. Perhaps this is the rapture, a moment of delight followed by eternal darkness.
Today we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. We walked from our house to the clubhouse in the balmy morning. There were a few announcements today, The Super Bowl Party tomorrow, Happy Hour next Wednesday and a few more things. Then we got down to small conversations. Winnie and I exchanged treatment stories and our distress over the impeachment hearings. A man whose name I have forgotten and I discussed vests and Bangkok. After browsing through the clubhouse library and finding nothing trashy enough to attract me, we left to return home.
Later that day, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills. HRM and Jake wanted to “detail” it — basically a car wash on steroids. So, gathered at Dick’s house were the two boys, Dick, Jake’s father and me — a gathering of the guys discussing cars. I know nothing about cars. I barely know how to drive them. So, my role in the discussions was to nod knowingly at what I had hoped were appropriate moments and at other times to look suitably serious.
Later this week, I have my immunotherapy infusion appointment. The past few days were days of disappointment. Disappointment in the results of the Impeachment, the Super Bowl, the pizza I devoured recently, and the movies on television I watched during the past few days, but as my favorite philosopher has observed, “It’s always something (Rosanna Rosannadanna)”
Then, of course, there was the Iowa Democratic Caucus to add a bit of levity to the week.
Can Impeaching Trump help Republicans to hold on to the Presidency and the Senate and Save the Republican Party?
There may be several ways to argue that if the Republicans in the Senate were to join with the Democrats to remove Trump from office, it may benefit the Republican party. It may also assist them in holding on to the Presidency and the Senate Majority.
For example, if after hearing from witnesses and reviewing whatever documents are produced, 20 or so Republicans join with the Democrats and vote to remove him from office, what happens next?
Pence becomes President and perhaps installs a somewhat more competent and arguably less controversial administration. He and his administration urge us, the nation, to come together again and reject the partisan political warfare that has so divided us. They then can go on to continue the pro-business, anti-immigrant and other policies of the current administration but with a more humane face. They could, for example, in order to show their good intentions, dial back on some of the more inhuman policies imposed on those seeking asylum on our Southern Border, and/or reverse the rhetoric regarding climate change, probably without taking effective action.
The at-risk Republican Senators can be buffered somewhat by voting against removal or by some other strategy. There would be plenty of time to repair the damage between the trial and the election.
One of the so-called moderate and well-known Republicans like Romney could then become the nominee. I suspect, as a result, Democratic enthusiasm for activism generated by Trump’s behavior would abate with a resulting fall-off in Democratic voters at the polls. Meanwhile, the 10% or so of Republicans who have left the party may flock back to support the more respectable business-oriented moderate. The older Trumpites can be relied upon to continue to vote and vote Republican because they always do so. They are also easily frightened by Socialism and open border Democratic candidates. The Trumpite radical activists, always a small percentage of the voting population, becomes the wild card. They would be somewhat like the more radical Democrats have been in several past Presidential elections.
I suspect there are other ways this can happen, but we should not assume there are not clever political operatives on the Republican already gaming options like this.
We should remember the 30 or so Senators not up for reelection in 2020 and at least 10 of those who are up for reelection have little fear of the blowback from Trump voters. Also, some of the 30 we know have Presidential aspirations. Removal of Trump may and probably is viewed by many of them as a positive.
Just ask yourself, if Trump is removed and a more “respectable” candidate replaces him, would you still vote for the Democratic candidate for President if the one we nominate is someone you abhor? Would you vote for a third-party candidate or stay home from the polls? Will the independent voters who may be troubled by Trump’s behavior stay home or vote for the moderate candidate?
Like most politicians, Republicans seek by whatever means possible to preserve their power and position. Neither courage nor martyrdom should be expected of our elected officials even though we may honor those few who do. Political calculations are rarely what they appear to be on the surface.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
This is a continuation of several posts from a diary I had written more than 55 years ago.
More than a few times during my life, I have abandoned everything, taking with me only a suitcase and leaving everything else behind — From New York, to King of Prussia Pennsylvania; from there to Rome Italy and then back to Naw York; then to Cape Cod; then across the continent to San Francisco; then to Chiang Mai Thailand, followed by Jomtien Beach and Bangkok; then back to the US to El Dorado Hills and finally to Sacramento. Through all those changes, I was rarely accompanied by more than a single suitcase.
Every time I opened that suitcase upon arriving at my new home, I would find two diaries at the bottom. One from 1963 and the other from 1964. One with a brown cover and one with a red. I do not know why they were there. I never remembered packing them and rarely, if ever opened them. Instead, I would throw them into the bottom of a drawer there to remain unopened until I moved again. A few weeks ago, I opened the one from 1963 (brown cover).
I decided to post the entries here. I do not recall most of what was written there including many of the people and events mentioned and certainly not my thoughts and interpretations of them. Although I am sure the diaries were written by me (I recognize the penmanship), I do not recognize the me that appeared there. I was a bit of a shit. Probably always have been. I cannot apologize for what I wrote or did then. It is what it is. I was callow and shallow, sex-obsessed, and had not yet experienced the magical but alas ultimately fraudulent liberation of the Hippy Years.
I have added some commentary from myself to myself 60 years before — sort of like a memoir with a critique of my young self by my old self. But who will critique my old self? Worms, I guess.
Monday, February 18, 1963
I am beginning to get adjusted to studying again. My marks have not arrived yet.
I wore my double-breasted suit to school today. I received a few compliments. I think I will wear it to the party on Saturday.
Muriel McDowell is my date Saturday. Perhaps we will not end up living with each other but I hope we will at least enjoy the time we spend with each other.
I am beginning to lose interest in my “business deals.” They seem to be childish fantasies that I suspect will never be realized. I wish only to be a lawyer.
Thursday, February 21, 1963.
I received my marks yesterday, two Bs and a C. The C was in Domestic Relations. My cumulative average was a B, however. These marks are mediocre. I despise them. I need to do better next term.
I feel I am thinking clearly again. I am experiencing that part melancholy part happy feeling that usually results in things coming out well.
Someone said that anyone who writes should write as though they were writing the great American novel. I am not so sure about that but I guess I should try to be less sloppy in the future.
Friday, February 22, 1963
I did not meet with the men who took today’s 25-mile walk. I tried to. I hope they do not misunderstand. I will be hard-pressed to explain.
Mom and dad had another argument. This one raged for several days now. Mom told me she was thinking of getting a separation. I suggested they try marriage counseling.
I think she will take my recommendation although my opinion of marriage counselors is not very high. I think, however, just talking it out could be helpful. Mon was very distraught. She was crying today.
It is dad’s fault I believe. He seems to have great guilt feelings about his many business failures and insists on bragging about how hard he works. Any comment about either his failures or his workload no matter how innocuous enrages him because he sees it as an attack on him.
Tuesday, February 26, 1963.
I wrote to Tad tonight. Did not review my pleading notes.
Luis Maiello returned from Hollywood. He has become a beatnik. We went to a bar Sunday night and had a deep conversation. He is full of childish notions. They seem to consist mostly of themes from stage plays, movies, and his arty set. I was amazed, however, how knowledgeable and perhaps brighter he seems to be now than I had assumed him to be in the past. Although I thought his perceptions and ideas a bit infantile and unrealistic, he presented them with such vigor and enthusiasm I was hard-pressed to disagree.
We met a few European domestics. One and Irish girl with a nice ass seemed to have an eye for me but my poor financial situation prevented me from taking advantage of it.
Monday, March 11,1963.
A short summary of things that have happened since I last wrote here:
1. I have not studied. I am infected with second-semester malaise again.
2. I had dated Stephanie again. I must watch my step.
3. I am having difficulty dating Muriel. I called twice but she was dating someone else.
4. Received a letter from Tad. He is coming to NY on March 16. I will be happy to see him.
5. Completed the brief with Dick Perles.
6. I have stopped talking to several members of my class until I can pay them back for what they did or until they make it up somehow. My anger with Gio, I think, will last forever.
7. I need to find out why I feel so lethargic all the time. If I could only act more vigorously I would succeed.
Wednesday, March 13, 1963.
Once again, I have not kept to my study schedule.
Laziness, I am afraid will become the major cause of failure in my life.
I called Stephanie today. I shouldn’t have. I think I am pressing her too hard, I know I have many years yet. I should focus more on sex and less on virtue and fidelity.
Cassius Clay beat Doug Jones by decision, not in the four rounds he predicted.
Sunday, March 17, 1963.
I have never had such a miserable weekend. It is not that I have been defeated, I have never entered the fray in the first place. I walked through the halls of the hotel like the poor lost soul. Perhaps that is who I am.
I met a lovely blond girl with an Irish name. We were supposed to meet. She was late. I left the meeting place to search for her. When I returned, having not found her, I caught a glimpse of her disappearing into the elevator followed by a pack of drooling suitors.
Perhaps now I can get back to some serious school work and refrain from silly activities like this or at least stop writing about them.
A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
Here in T&T, I write about my so-called “adventures.” I call them adventures even if they often are no more than sitting in my recliner watching Ethel Waters sing “His Eyes on the Sparrow” in the movie Member of the Wedding. Unlike my own ersatz adventures, my friend, Richard Diran, who goes by the name of Burma Richard, gemologist, ethnologist, artist, photographer, smuggler, a man of action, restauranteur, and soldier of fortune, is a real adventurer who goes on real adventures. The following post from his blog “Burma Richard” (http://www.burma-richard.org/2014/02/winter-in-japan.html) briefly tells about his visit to Japan a few years ago.
Winter in Japan
Over the New Year celebration, my wife and I went to Japan. Deep in the mountains of the Japanese Alps is a very ancient town called Hida Takayama. Some of my wife’s family lives there and some of her school friends.
Neolithic stone implements can be found there proving that it has been inhabited for thousands of years. During the Heian Period, two powerful clans, the Genji warrior clan, and the Heike who were a more of an aristocratic clan fought a war that saw the Genji defeat, Heike, in 1185 AD. Many of the Heike fled from Kyoto, their former seat of power to the Hida Takayama area and continued their artistic culture.
The town has many beautiful and original buildings from the Edo Period from 1600 to 1868.
Close to Takayama is Shirakawago which is a world heritage site, a very mountainous and cold region. Until very recently Shirakawago was extremely remote but tunnels were bored through the mountains making access to that region easy.
There is a Japanese style inn run by an eccentric old man with a wispy white beard who owns the mountain where bear still roam. He brews his own sake. He sprays water on the trees creating a crystal ice forest one frozen layer at a time. If the temperature is sub-zero, he will step outside and make soap bubbles that freeze instantly and float through the forest like glowing orbs. At minus 10 degrees Centigrade, the large flowing bubbles crystallize as dancing glass spheres reflecting the colored lights hidden in the ice.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Always carry a flashlight in case there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
C. Today’s Poem:
Along with being an amateur folklorist and musician, Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a lawyer practicing in rural North Carolina during the 1920s. At the time, the manufacturing of beverage alcohol for non-medicinal purposes was illegal in the United States due to prohibition, but North Carolina residents nevertheless continued their longstanding tradition of making a form of illegal whiskey called moonshine. Lunsford frequently defended local clients that were accused of the practice, and the original lyrics and banjo accompaniment to “Good Old Mountain Dew” were written during the course of one of these cases. In 1928, Lunsford recorded the song for Brunswick Records.
Scotty Wiseman, of the duo Lulu Belle and Scotty, was a friend of Lunsford’s. When Lulu Belle and Scotty needed one more song to finish a 1935 record for Vocalion Records, Wiseman suggested using the song his friend had written. To make the piece appeal to more people, Wiseman added the modern chorus and replaced verses about a man appearing in court with verses about making moonshine. Two years later, at the National Folk Festival in Chicago, Wiseman showed his version to Lunsford.
There’s a big hollow tree down the road here from me
Where you lay down a dollar or two
You stroll ’round the bend and you come back again
There’s a jug full of good old mountain dew
They call it that mountain dew
And them that refuse it are few
I’ll hush up my mug if you fill up my jug
With that good old mountain dew
My uncle Mort, he’s sawed off and short
He measures about four foot two
But he thinks he’s a giant when you give him a pint
Of that good old mountain dew
Well, my old aunt June bought some brand new perfume
If had such a sweet smelling pew
But to her surprise when she had it analyzed
It was nothing but good old mountain dew
Well, my brother Bill’s got a still on the hill
Where he runs off a gallon or two
The buzzards in the sky get so drunk they can’t fly
From smelling that good old mountain dew
By Bascom Lamar Lunsford and Scotty Wiseman.
E. Giants of History: Smedley Butler.
Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881, – June 21, 1940) a United States Marine Corps major-general obtained the Corps’ highest rank authorized at that time. At the time of his death, he was the most decorated Marine in US history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. He also won two Congressional Medals of Honor.
Butler is well-known for having later become an outspoken critic of US wars and their consequences. He also exposed the Business Plot, a purported plan to overthrow the US government and assassinate Franklin Roosevelt. After retirement from the military, he ran for Senate as a Republican but was defeated. In 1932 he supported the military bonus marchers at their encampment in Washington DC and was there when Gen. Douglas MacArthur led the attack on them killing several veterans. He later became a spokesman for the “American League Against Fascism.”
War Is A Racket
By Major General Smedley Butler
WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
D. Apologies, Regrets, and Humiliations:
My friend the Old Sailor, responded to my last post with the following comment:
“Hairspray Tom would swim over to Hassle Island for $100 he’d have to crawl across the waterfront stopping traffic but when he rolled into the water he was like a fucking sea otter. Monte was always betting on him.”
The Old Sailor, Deep Sea Diver, Pirate Treasure Hunter and Good Friend of Mine.
I am not sure what it says about my post, but Hairspray Tom must be quite a man. I’d bet on him. Maybe I will start a Hairspray Tom fan club.
“In the absence of any gods to do the creating of life, life has managed, against the odds, to create itself. Yet the humans who have evolved on the planet believe in their hearts that there are such things as gods, magic, cosmic purpose and million-million-to-one chances that crop up nine times out of ten. They seek stories in the world which the world, regrettably, is not equipped to tell.”
Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 2). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.