Tuesday, May 29, 2007

New Subject

On the way home from buying Forever Stamps-- the stamps that the USPS says will always be good, regardless of how many rate increases they make in the future, which come in a slab of 20, which should certainly last us forever-- I heard yet another reason we shouldn't be so incredibly goddamned ashamed to be Americans.

The Chinese, in the face of increasing complaints about lax food & drugs standards & approvals, have decided to execute the head of their version of the FDA. According to the Beeb story (linked), this is a guy who was ejected from the Commie party last year. The Beeb story includes some interesting tid-bits about what defects have been observed in some Chinese products, but they neglected the bits reported on the NPR report I was listening to on the way home. Like the pesticides and poisons that have been found in dog and cat food, not to mention-- God forbid we should mention-- TOOTHPASTE. Sure, as Americans we can worry about our carbon footprint (the Wifey and I have measured ours) and despair that the by-products of industry and produce are poisoning the environment. In China they don't bother, just shove the poisons right into the products. Cut out the middle man! And when the news comes out that they're selling poisons, not only to their own people, but across the globe, they pick their man and, what? Sanctions? Fines? Impeachment? Nah! Just go ahead and kill the bastard.

Don't go and paint me all Johnny Rah-Rah, though. I know we're not perfect over here, either. America, God bless 'er, does have her faults. But at least when the state kills someone over heare, it takes 15 years and some of us still think it's a mistake. Call that the rationality of the national animal, anyways.

OK, OK. New subject.

Last night I watched a very interesting documentary called Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus. The majority of the film consists of the kind of fish-in-a-barrel documentarising that you would probably expect to find in this day and age-- and no, it isn't Michael Moore's fault; suprisingly little actually is Michael Moore's fault-- but the thing that came most to light, repeatedly, is how close the original proponents of intelligent design and the bedrock evolutionists (a contradictory notion in itself) are in their actual thinking, and how the whole intelligent design question doesn't really become objectionable until it gets hijacked by right-wing hacks bent on fomenting bile in one constituency or another, including the shadowy PR machine ( a for-profit campaigning company that refused to show it's face to the filmmaker) hired to convince school boards and educational "administrators" (don't blame me, it's what they call themselves) that "Intelligent Design" means "Prayer In Schools."

Fact: Evolution is a theory. Fact: no one has a complete map to the Origin of Species. Fact: That doesn't mean evolution is Satan worship, and it surely doesn't mean your God is right and everyone else is wrong. To hell with me? To hell with you!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Respite/Upside, Downside

So I am back again. The Gig For All Seasons is in recess for ten days. I didn't write yesterday because we were busy doing family stuff, most of which involved waiting for various family members to return from various family outings so that a small assemblage of family members could then go out for barbecue. I had St. Louis style ribs and beer. It was good.

I have also been working more on the poem I want to write about the near defunct mall where I work. But before I get to that, there's this, from today's front page at Wikipedia:

...that over 100 million people in Indonesia lack access to safe water and more than 70 percent of the country’s 220 million population relies on water obtained from potentially contaminated sources?
No matter what people might like to say about Wikipedia being unreliable, the above is most assuredly true. Say whatever lousy thing about the town you live it, it doesn't suck nearly so much as it would suck to live in Indonesia. In that spirit, the next installment.
The last one left the two commentators a bit cold. To say the least. Also, I think they only commented becauise I had previously challenged that no one ever reads the posts that contain poetry, because people have been brainwashed by bad English teachers to think that poetry has to be psychically painful and brain-numbingly bad. This next bit is about the place whjere intersubjectivity and community come together tyo create that wonderful, sometiems squirmily uncomfortable recognition of self, other, and place. I am not so sure it happens the same way in Indonesia, although logically I guess it must. Imagine you are passing someone, imagine it's someone of another race and another culture, a total stranger, and your eyes meet, and you pray:
. . . awake, awake to me
Ye somnabulist, raise your eyes to meet mine, to say
Hello, to say fare the well,
For I declare that there is, indeed
World enough and time
To speak, to say
Hello; How is your world today?
My world is bold and blue and bright and sun-lit
Over tumbled stones and flea-bitten storefronts
The mangy curs of rotten commerce.
World enough and time for us, my friend
To exchange well wishes in this fractured world
O beautiful for damaged cars
And flowing waves of gray
Busted asphalt in this beaten landscape
Surrounding this face-fallen whore of Kapital and commerce
This freak-faced clown
Lain down drunk in the gutter
Amongst the remants and ruins
Of all the best intentions.
I swear there is world enough and time,
Hope and aspiration
For, at least, a smile and a nod.
Frreedom, O, Freedom,
The games, the games
Go on.
It's a phase. It's in progress. I have almost-- almost-- decided to open it with a quote from a Don Henley song:
"O beautiful for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening . . ."
I also intend to include an invokation against politicians and civic administrators, whose grand plans for the mall (the city bought it God knows how many years ago) keep netting nothing:
You do not represent us.
Hate us, revile us as you will, reduce us, deny us,
We are here.
But I don't know where it goes yet.
It occurs to me that the process here is mightily akin to the way Big Sur Poem and Molested in Modesto came together, although whether that means anything or not is anyone's guess.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Under Orders

I am more than tired. I am exhausted. The Gig For All Seasons requires that I read 120 to 160 essays by fifth graders PER DAY. And score them. Think about that for awhile.

In the mean time, Joe (whom nobody cares about) has exorciated me to write. So here are notes for a new poem about the place where I work, a mall on the West side of Charlotte that has been dying on the vine for two decades. It is on the side of a hill, and from the edge of the crumbling parking lot, you can see the downtown skyline, which the mall itself pre-dates.

It's gonna be called, um, er, I don't know, say THE PLACE I AM. Nah. But something like that. Maybe.

I had a job once
Guarding an un-built coliseum
Patrolling a scraped-clean moonscape
That died absurdly into a summer-green treeline.
I joked that my job was to make sure
No one stole the stadium.
It was a good enough joke, and funny at the time.
But it was also wrong.

This is what the theft of place feels like.
This is what the theft of place feels like.

So I wrote something. Feel better? To be continued.