Missing

She never took it out
on someone else
if she was having a bad day;
that’s character

Her humor was dry
always forgiving, with a wry smile
if you took too long
to get the joke

Her laugh was infectious
one of the best all time laughs
especially when I did something
really stupid.

She walked about with a grace
a confidence, unaffected
by what others thought
of her.

She did those schizo-woman things
us men will never understand
counting letters on her fingers
to see if they divided by five.

I miss her boundless faith in me
that made me feel when she was near
so much more
than what I was.

I miss
that she could see
what I might be
even when I couldn’t.

I miss her smell

I miss her taste.

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The Mommy Wars – from the Archive – 2014

Nothing has changed since 2014.  If anything, it’s getting worse.

A young Mitt Romney (front and center) at Bain Capital – the “money shot”

Some 63 years ago (yikes!) in 1959 I got my first job on Wall Street. I was still a teen working full time in the mail room of Citibank and would go to college later.

I noticed something right away. There were no women on Wall Street. Well, ok, there were some. There were older middle-aged spinster ladies who never married and worked as “private secretaries”; and there were a few hot young college girls, mostly from the Ivy League working as “assistants”.

Almost all of them lived in Connecticut, the Elysian fields of Northern New Jersey or in small studios in tonier parts of Manhattan. None of them lived in Brooklyn.

The older women worked because they had to; the young attractive ones were looking for a husband in order not to have to work. Yes, I know; this sounds like a broad generalization but that’s kind of the way it was in the ’50s. Women were “home makers.”  In banking and finance or stock trading there simply were no women who didn’t spend their day typing. Even bank tellers were all male and at that time the teller positions paid enough to support a small family. As soon as one of the young grads “snared” a husband, she quit – or was let go as soon as she became pregnant. No pill back in those days.

Within a decade would come Betty F. and Gloria S. and Wall Street would be in a tizzy over braless women in minis and hot pants. Personnel Departments would soon be called Human Resources and wrestled with dress codes for the office. Suddenly there were women at work who were more interested in a real career rather than emulating their mothers.

Now what exactly is “work”? The first definitions in the American Heritage Dictionary define “work” as

“Physical or mental effort or activity directed toward the production or accomplishment of something. A job; employment: looking for work. A trade, profession, or other means of livelihood.

Something that one is doing, making, or performing, especially as an occupation or undertaking; a duty or task: begin the day’s work. “

Most of us, the vast majority, view work as what we have to do to make a living – to keep a roof over our heads, to put food on the table, keep the lights turned on. The vast majority of us have no accumulated wealth to live on for any extended period of time and thus we are forced to sell the only thing we have of value – our labor, either physical or mental. We may not like what we have to do but we do it anyway.

Why? Because the vast majority of men and women do not have a CHOICE as to whether or not to work.

Today many jobs do not pay a living wage forcing single people to take multiple low paying jobs or seek roommates. For millions of married couples or those living together both have to work to make ends meet.

When children come to these couples the first major issue is whether or not they can survive on one income if mommy stays home as a full-time mother. For millions the answer is “no”. These mommies go back to work because they have to, not necessarily because they want to – for these women there is no mommy choice. The couple needs the money. Tens of millions are in that boat.

I find it incongruous that those who so fervently support “family” do not support paying a living wage to those who work full time.

Other couples will find ways to sacrifice and make ends meet if mommy wants to stay home. Once she makes this decision to stay home and spends several years out of the work place she may no longer have the skills necessary to support herself again if the need should arise – i.e. divorce – especially if she had a low skill job to begin with. She is now totally dependent on her partner to provide the basic necessities of life. Tens of millions of women know this is true.

My mother was a stay at home mom – an Italian woman who grew up when the highest ambition for women, especially immigrants, was to make a home. She cleaned, shopped at the food store, cooked meals, never learned to drive (not that we could afford two cars) took care of three sons.

But she never called it “work”. Poppa worked. “Work” was something you got paid for doing, especially when you really didn’t like what you were doing but did it anyway. “Work” put food on the table.

My wife worked for the first ten years we were married, until we had a son with profound disabilities. She quit her job and stayed home and cared for him and the two daughters that came later. I was doing OK and we could make it on one income. But she never called staying home “work” – and it was difficult for her because she always felt dependent since she no longer earned a portion of our income.

She raised our girls to always be able to take care of themselves. She had not gone to college – Italian girls didn’t go to college then – tuition money was spent on sons, not daughters. She made me promise our girls would be college educated. They were and graduated fine schools with no debt. At the end of her life, after caring for a disabled son for ten years and raising two fine daughters, she felt she had not accomplished anything special. Of course she had, but she didn’t see it that way.

What about those who have always had a choice, from the very beginning of their lives? Those born with the proverbial silver spoon?

Before the last Presidential election (Obama – Romney)  there was a storm in a teacup when Ann Romney and Republicans became irate when Democratic strategist and pundit Hillary Rosen stated that the nominee apparent’s wife “hadn’t worked a day in her life”. Mrs. Romney tweeted in rebuttal that she raised five boys and “Believe me, it was hard work!”

What Rosen actually said was “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing.”

We knew what Hillary Rosen meant.  Rosen meant a paying job outside of the home.

Now no one is denying that staying home with a bunch of kids yelling “Mommy! She’s looking at me!!” or writing on the bedroom walls with crayons is work – however there is a vast difference between the struggles of “ordinary folk” and the likes of Mrs. Romney.

Mitt reported “income” in excess of $20 million the year before his nomination – and he didn’t “work” for it. That’s twenty million. The money just flowed in from his “investments”. And because it is “capital gains” it was taxed at a lower rate than your meager income for which you worked so hard at that job you might hate.

That twenty million is not Mitt’s wealth mind you. Oh no.

That twenty million is the amount Mitt’s wealth earned.

How big a stash of wealth does it take to earn twenty million in a year?

As someone who spent his life in banking and finance I can safely assure you it takes a gigantic pile of money to earn twenty million in “income” in a year. Like you didn’t know.

Ann Romney is the daughter of a millionaire industrialist, born in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and attended a posh private school along with Mitt, the son of then Michigan Governor George Romney. They dated and agreed to marry. She converted to Mormonism, took religious instruction directly from the Governor and attended Brigham Young University. She and Mitt married when she was 19 and she had her first child while still in college. She dropped out of school and finished her education through the extension program offered by Harvard.

She was a stay at home mom from day one. She never “worked” a day, using the colloquial “work”.

Mitt and Ann have several multi-million dollar homes and she admits to having a Cadillac at each for her use when she happens to be in town. She is a nationally ranked amateur equestrian and has won a gold medal in the dressage; a member in good standing of the horsey set.

Do you think she had help with those kids? Someone to clean the vast interiors of her homes? Scrub floors? Cook meals? Cut the grass and trim the hedges? Do you think she worried about the quality of the kid’s schools or a lack of health insurance? Do you think they stood on the corner in the rain and took the school bus on busy streets? Did she worry about what she was going to do if her old clunker of a car broke down? Did she worry about tuition money for colleges for her kids?

You don’t really think she was “working” do you?

Wake up and smell the coffee.

It borders on obscene for Ann Romney and those like her to equate themselves with “stay at home moms”, noting how hard and difficult it was for her to raise her sons – on an income of millions a year.

It is almost like, having absorbed Rosen’s remarks, she is saying to other women “Staying home with those kids was work too!”

Yes, Ann, we know. Staying at home with kids is work. But not for you.

Tell it to the single mom waiting for the bus at 7 A.M. on her way to her first low paying job before going on to her second low paying job – in order to put peanut butter and jelly on the table for dinner. Tell it to the couple dropping the kids off at Grandma’s because they both still have to work. Tell it to women with no healthcare insurance. Tell it to women with no retirement benefits save a meager social security check – which Mitt’s party  would like to take away. Tell it to women who don’t have a choice.

Tell it to the women at the Club.

Sorry but in the humble opinion of this old guy Ann R never worked a day in her life and had absolutely no conception of the economic struggles the average American woman goes through. She stayed at home because she could and she stayed at home without a care. It’s as if she missed the decades since the fifties in their entirety.

I saw those young women on Wall Street fifty plus years ago – hoping to latch on to a man going places and planning to stay home in a grand house in Connecticut raising the children without a care.

Ann Romney can no more speak for working women or the average stay at home mom than Mitt can speak for the average working man.

This week it was Gwyneth Paltrow who had to walk back comments:

“I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening. When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult,” she said. “I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”

These folks deserve an honored place in the Museum of the Totally Out of Touch.

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Cruising With Suzanne Pleshette – from the Archive

“Suzanne Pleshette”  with some sharply dressed, well muscled geek (still wearing his U.S. Army issue eyeglasses) – 1969

While I was In the Army and stationed in Eritrea in the mid-60s my wife JoAnn got a job with The Greek Line, a passenger steamship company operating out of Piraeus and New York. The formal name of the company was the General Steam Navigation Company of Greece. It’s offices were in downtown Manhattan about a block from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and up the street from the draft induction center where conscripts reported everyday.

JoAnn was hired as secretary for the New York Resident Vice President. Since she was smart and ambitious she was soon chartering vessels but of course still got paid as a secretary. That’s the way it was.

The office consisted of a large main floor and and a balcony of offices for use by the Goulandris brothers, the wealthy Greek owners when they visited from Piraeus as well as JoAnn’s boss. I visited the office regularly after I was discharged from the military (I worked nearby) and the place definitely struck me as low key. The owners retained their humble roots and one would never know they were wealthy upon meeting them. They were salt of the earth and treated their employees as family.

A radio was always on. While visiting to take JoAnn out to lunch the tune “Zorba the Greek” began playing. Instantly the volume was turned up and Greeks came out of their offices for some mid-day Syrtaki on the balcony to clapping hands and waving handkerchiefs. Definitely a fun place to work.

The company originally was in the business of trans-Atlantic crossings but the era of the jet age was dawning and business was down. The offices of Cunard and the Italian Line were a block away and passenger traffic across the Atlantic was slack. Italian Line had two magnificent new ships – Michaelangelo and Raffaello – Italy as a destination and fine Italian cuisine. If they couldn’t fill their ships nobody could.

So Greek Line started cruising to Bermuda and the Caribbean. Of course her ships were nothing like the monsters of the sea today. The Olympia was well under 30,000 tons and could dock on Front Street in Hamilton – a distinct advantage when going ashore. No need to take a tender – just walk down the gangway.

Treating the employees like family included “Take a free cruise”. Anyone in the employ of the Goulandris could take any empty stateroom and enjoy during vacation time. Just go down to the ship and get on. Nice deal especially on weekend “Cruises to Nowhere”.

But JoAnn couldn’t swim.  Didn’t like the water.  Stayed away from it.

After five years or so with the company she was urged to celebrate her birthday with a trip to Bermuda. On the house. So she spent some time on board while the Olympia visited port until she felt safe.

It didn’t help that in the office was a picture of the Lakonia and a memorial plaque. The ship sank after a fire in December 1963 costing the lives of 128. No one ever spoke of the Lakonia.

Well, after a few visits to the Olympia she felt comfortable enough and we set sail for Bermuda.  She and I on deck, drink in hand moving gracefully under the Verazzano, the sky a canopy of stars.

Everyone in the company knew JoAnn, knew she never took advantage of the company bennies and wanted to make sure she had a great time. We were treated like red carpet celebs. We ate at our own table for two while everyone was eight.  . Special wine delivered by the wine steward each evening “compliments of…..” so and so.  Champagne.  Flowers from the office.  Dinner with the Captain.  Just us and the captain.  JoAnn and he were on a first name basis.  Formal wear the night before we arrived back in New York.

Dressed for dinner.

“Who are those people?” Our identities soon became the talk of the ship. Rumors abounded.  Young Greek royalty?  Children of some shipping magnate?  Daughter of the owners?  Hehe.

Suzanne Pleshette?  “Is that Suzanne Pleshette?  Who’s that guy she’s with?” Chatter every night in the dining room.  We laughed and all the ship’s staff kept the secret.  JoAnn didn’t want any passengers to know she worked in the office – she didn’t want to hear any complaints while on vacation.

olympia03

“Olympia”

So we partied. Ate. Drank. Toured Bermuda. Made love.

We spent one warm day in Bermuda out on the water (she was getting into smaller boats!) Touring the island and taking the sun. After we got back to Hamilton and were walking to the ship we noticed people in the street were looking at us. Why are we being stared at?

When we got back on board and looked in the mirror we knew why. A deep breath and an “Oh my god!” We were burned as red as any lobster.  Red.. I mean red. I haven’t been burned as badly since. Luckily it was only our face, arms and thighs.

When our Greek waiter saw us at dinner he recommended we apply vinegar to the burns to provide relief and avoid skin peeling.

It worked. We laughed when folks passing in the corridor would whisper  “Do you smell salad?”

We had a great time on the only cruise we ever took. A couple of years later babies would come and the “fun” would be over.  Real life had begun.

After Bermuda it would be Florida to visit Nana and Poppa with the kids. Disney World. Universal Orlando.

Until our 25th anniversary and our trip to Kona Village on the big island of Hawaii – but that’s another post.

The Olympia was eventually sold to Carnival Cruise Lines and was the second ship Carnival ever owned.  It sailed under its new name Caribe and was eventually scrapped in 2009.  The Goulandris family still operates a ship chartering business in Greece and London.

Our cruise photo sits in our daughter’s office.

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Embracing Hungarian Neo-Fascism

Tucker in Hungary

“Hungarian-style soft fascism is now the GOP’s brand and they’re doubling down on it, believing to their core that by the end of 2024 they can do to America what Orbán did to Hungary — and therefore never face consequences or serious political opposition ever again.”

The Conservative Political Action Committee is meeting in Budapest, Hungary this week and it started off with a bang.  Now usually when the right wingers get together in America for their annual doo-dah we get to see an assortment of men in white wigs and tri-corner hats; a few times there was a golden-idol of Donald Trump.

Not this year.  This year the key-note speaker was the Hungarian neo-fascist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.  You remember him from crony Tucker Carlson’s fawning TV show on Fox News.

Orban, relishing the American conservative spot light opened the conference with a  powerful call to arms:

“Conservatives in Europe and the United States must fight together to “reconquer” institutions in Washington and Brussels from liberals who threaten Western civilization ahead of votes in 2024.  “Progressive liberals, neo-Marxists dazed by the woke dream, people financed by George Soros and promoters of open societies … want to annihilate the Western way of life that you and us love so much.  We must coordinate the movement of our troops as we face a big test, 2024 will be a decisive year,”

Thunderous applause from American Republican rightists.  “It’s not entirely clear what Orban meant by “troops” but it’s obvious that he believes their movement is global and that they must join forces to fight their common enemy. You’ll note that while he normally rails against immigrants polluting their Great White culture, he is now equally focused on “progressive liberals, Neo-Marxists and promoters of open societies.” :

He went on further :

“Part of the picture of the decade of war facing us will be recurring waves of suicidal policy in the Western world. One such suicide attempt that I see is the great European population replacement program, which seeks to replace the missing European Christian children with migrants, with adults arriving from other civilizations,”

That’s right, Orban is the world’s most important proponent of the so-called great replacement theory.  I guess the Buffalo killer was one of those soldiers that needed to be “coordinated.”  He didn’t get the memo to wait till 2024.

While it’s fashionable in some circles to compare Donald Trump and the modern-day GOP to Hitler or Mussolini and their fascist movements from the 1930s, what’s happening on the international stage right now is actually somewhat different and, once in power, far harder to stop or overthrow.

“The problem with the old fascism was that it was too brutal and militaristic: it offended voters’ democratic sensibilities, killed way too many people, and caused nearby nations to respond militarily to its perceived threat.”

This softer and gentler system, neofascism, still employs many of the same political and rhetorical tools old-fashioned fascists used to gain power, including white supremacy, ultranationalism, and a general embrace of crony capitalism.

“But it does all of them within a more populist wrapper, seemingly driven from the ground up, and acquiring elected power by manipulation of social media; crony-owned “news” outlets and talk radio; buying off politicians (legalized by conservatives on the Supreme Court in 2010); and subtly rigging electoral systems with devices like voter-roll purges (legalized by conservatives on the Supreme Court in 2018) and voter suppression.”

Steve Bannon celebrated Orbán as “Trump before Trump,” and Casey Michel on the NBC News site Think noted: “From targeting migrants to inflaming an ethnonationalist base, from attacking the press to whipping up nativist conspiracies, from ushering in unprecedented corruption to tearing down basic democratic protections, Trumpism is increasingly indistinguishable from Orbánism.”

Of course Tucker is in Budapest this week.  I’m sure he wouldn’t miss it for the world.

“If you care about Western civilization and democracy and families and the ferocious assault on all three of those things by the leaders of our global institutions, you should know what is happening here right now,” Carlson said.

For anyone who’s followed Hungary’s trajectory under Orbán, Carlson’s paeans to the country’s supposed “democracy” are laughable. Under a decade of Orbán’s rule, Hungary has transformed from a bright spot of political freedoms to a cautionary tale in how a right-wing authoritarian can dismantle a democracy, piece by piece, while helping his cronies profit along the way.  You cannot be rich in Hungary unless you are tight with Orban.

Orban been pushing the great replacement for many years. And he’s turned it into policy which right-wingers across the globe are watching very carefully. Aside from attacks on democracy and a free press, his Christian Nationalist values translate into a crusade against LGBTQ citizens and immigrants, as well as a strong push to make women give birth to as many children as humanly possible. All of this is in service of preserving Hungary’s cultural purity, which Orban believes is under assault from modern cultural forces.

“Our homeland, our common homeland, Europe, is standing to lose in the population contest of the big civilizations. It’s important to say that it’s a national interest to restore natural reproduction. Not one interest among others — but the only one. It’s a European interest too. It is the European interest.”

Orban has instituted many policies encouraging Hungarian women to have many children but interestingly has not yet banned abortion, although they do make it as unpleasant as possible. That’s one issue in which the U.S. is about to become the global leader of the far-right white nationalist movement.

The next step in curbing the Great Replacement is forced childbirth.

None other than CPAC’s Chairman Matt Schlapp made it explicit in an interview from Budapest on Thursday:

“”Roe v. Wade is being adjudicated at the Supreme Court right now, for people that believe that we somehow need to replace populations or bring in new workers, I think it is an appropriate first step to give the…enshrinement in law the right to life for our own unborn children,” he said…

“If you say there is a population problem in a country, but you’re killing millions of your own people through legalized abortion every year, if that were to be reduced, some of that problem is solved,” Schlapp said. “You have millions of people who can take many of these jobs. How come no one brings that up? If you’re worried about this quote-unquote replacement, why don’t we start there? Start with allowing our own people to live.”

Asked again if he agreed with Orban’s comments about European countries “committing suicide” by embracing immigration, Schlapp said: “I think Orban is skeptical of their solution, and I think in America we have a solution that could be right around the corner.”

There you have it folks.  The cure for “Replacement Theory” is to totally ban abortion.  Banning of the morning after pill, abortion pills and contraception  will follow.

Oklahoma banned all abortion yesterday.

Himmler knew all about it.

PS – A Trump endorsed candidate for state representative (R – Michigan) Jackie Eubanks says that if it came to a vote in the full legislature she woul vote to make birth control illegal.  “Sex aught to be between one man and one woman in the confines of marriage and open tolife.   Absolutely.”

Sounds like Sister Mary Margaret.

Millions of women should toughen up, squeeze their thighs together in protest and buy a vibrator.  You can get a really nice one at Lelo.

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On Propaganda – from the Archive

A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth

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There was no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals. For intellectuals would never be converted and would anyway always yield to the stronger, and this will always be “the man in the street.” Arguments must therefore be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth was unimportant and entirely subordinate

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Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated
are confident they are acting on their own free will.

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This is the secret of propaganda: Those who are to be persuaded by it should be completely immersed in the ideas of the propaganda, without ever noticing that they are being immersed in it.

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Propaganda must facilitate the displacement of aggression by specifying the targets for hatred.

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…the rank and file are usually much more primitive than we imagine. Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious.

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Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.

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The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.

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Not every item of news should be published. Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose.

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We enter parliament in order to supply ourselves, in the arsenal of democracy, with its own weapons. If democracy is so stupid as to give us free tickets and salaries for this bear’s work, that is its affair. We do not come as friends, nor even as neutrals. We come as enemies. As the wolf bursts into the flock, so we come.

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It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.

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The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never escape from it.

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.A media system wants ostensible diversity that conceals an actual uniformity

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There is no need for propaganda to be rich in intellectual content.

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Whoever can conquer the street will one day conquer the state, for every form of power politics and any dictatorship-run state has its roots in the street.

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The masses need something that will give them a thrill of horror.

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Joseph Goebbels  – Reich Minister of Propaganda

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We Might Have Gone to England – from the Poetry archive

We might have gone to England
British Air in Business Class
spent Summer time in Westminster
placed flowers at the Cenotaph

Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge
Cotswolds, Stratford, see King Lear
You wanted so to visit England
I wanted so to take you there.

We might have cruised Bermuda
or St. Thomas Virgin Isle
or maybe sailed to Santorini
or up to Luxor on the Nile

but you always wanted England
perhaps we’ll go next fall
a five star room at Claridge’s
an evening stroll on down the Mall

Shop all day at Debenham’s
Mayfair for high tea and scones
have a peek at Downing Street
Fulham, Chelsea, Hyde Park, Sloan’s

Come join me on my evening walk
the cranes have just returned you know
the squirrel in the jacaranda
is watching as we stroll and talk

Tonight perhaps a quiet dinner
in a candle’s evening glow
the children will be home for Easter
plan just when we’d like to go

Sitting over Lean Cuisine
in my robe, myself alone
I’m planning for our trip to England
I promise you this time we’ll go.

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Last Summer’s Affair – from the Poetry archive

Laying my head on your stomach
while the sun streamed through the blinds
forming stripes caressing your contours
just for a moment I thought of biting the thighs
of your perfect body.

Your sea green eyes animate Summer
terns and gulls off the starboard bow
your smile raising the waves
structuring the water
billowing the sails of boundless passion.

Tonight I will undress you
still covered in sand
tasting of sweat, salt and Coppertone
remains of a day at the shore
where no one knows, for we two give no clue
while hiding in plain pose.

But  Autumn comes, the Summer’s gone
“it’s time for us to both move on”
just one last kiss, a last caress
it’s time to dress for fall.

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Buffalo and White Supremacists

The Buffalo killer

Remember the massacre at Aurora, Colorado, maybe 20 miles from Columbine?  Yeah, I know.  Barely.  Aurora was before Newtown and after Columbine and Virginia Tech.  And well before Fort Hood.   Add to these El Paso, a South Carolina church, a Pittsburgh synagogue, a Parkland high school, an Orlando gay club and now a Buffalo food store.

These are just the barbarous acts I have written about during the years I have been on Word Press.  There have been plenty more.

Remember Isla Vista?  Probably not.  Too many mass murders to remember them all.

It was the first one committed by a young self-identified male “Incel” – the “involuntarily celibate.”  We’ve had several more since then.

Six young people, between 19 and 22 years old, were gunned down by Elliot Rodger, a young man who had absolutely no problem buying three semi-automatic handguns and 400 rounds of ammo.

Eliot Rodger

The killer’s 141 page “manifesto” (yes, they all seem to write these long diatribes on line before the murders) revealed a monumental sense of entitlement, an obsession with clothes and “looking good”, being accepted by the “cool kids”, playing World of Warcraft  and getting a “hot” blond girlfriend for sex.

He was the well off son of the media; his father a Director of “The Hunger Games.”

He walked red carpets, flew “Upper Class” on Virgin Atlantic to London and France, Malaysia and Morocco.  He was obsessed with World of Warcraft, masturbation and porn.  He wanted a “hot girl” for sex.

He never got one.  He began to rage on Youtube about how those “blond bitches” threw themselves at “jerks” and not at him.  He began to buy guns.  No one did anything.

The “manifestos” have changed these last few years.  Young white supremacists are now gunning down blacks and immigrants because those once dark corners of the net have told them white people are being “replaced in their own country.”  Many neo-fascists in our government have embraced this conspiracy theory.  Tucker Carlson, Fox News most popular host, spouts his Nazi rhetoric every day.

Dylon Roof

A 180-page document, purportedly written by the 18 year old Buffalo killer, gives plans for the attack and makes references to other racist shootings and to Dylon Roof, the South Carolina murderer of black people studying the bible. The document also outlines a racist ideology rooted in a belief that the U.S. should belong only to white people. All others , the document said, were “replacers” who should be eliminated by force or terror.  The screed noted that “the (black) shoppers there came from a culture that sought to “ethnically replace my own people.”  The attack was intended to intimidate all non-white, non-Christian people and get them to leave the country, it said.

Inside a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, a white man with a history of antisemitic internet posts gunned down 11 worshipers, blaming Jews for allowing immigrant “invaders” into the United States.

The next year, another white man, angry over what he called “the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” opened fire on shoppers at an El Paso Walmart leaving 23 people dead, and later telling the police he had sought to kill Mexicans.

“Three shootings, three different targets — but all linked by one sprawling, ever-mutating belief now commonly known as replacement theory. At the extremes of American life, replacement theory — the notion that Western elites,  manipulated by Jews, want to “replace” and disempower white Americans — has become an engine of racist terror, helping inspire a wave of mass shootings in recent years and fueling the 2017 right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Va., that erupted in violence and the torch light march of white supremacists chanting “Jews will not replace us!”.

If that ain’t Nazi I don’t know what Nazi is.

But replacement theory, once confined to the digital fever swamps of Reddit message boards and semi-obscure white nationalist sites, has gone mainstream. In sometimes more muted forms, the fear it crystallizes — of a future America in which white people are no longer the numerical majority — has become a potent force in conservative media and politics, where the theory has been borrowed and remixed to attract audiences, retweets and small-dollar donations.

The same ideas, sanded down and shorn of explicitly anti-Black and antisemitic themes, have become commonplace in the Republican Party — spoken aloud at congressional hearings, echoed in Republican campaign advertisements and embraced by a growing array of right-wing candidates and media personalities.

Young Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson.  Dad was President of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and a Director of Voice of America.  He grew up in a home overlooking the La Jolla Beach Country Club and went to elite private boarding schools in Switzerland and Rhode Island.  His stepmother was Patrcia Caroline Swanson, heiress to the Swanson Enterprises fortune.

‘No public figure has promoted replacement theory more loudly or relentlessly than the Fox host Tucker Carlson, who has made elite-led demographic change a central theme of his show since joining Fox’s prime-time lineup in 2016. A Times investigation published this month showed that in more than 400 episodes of his show, Mr. Carlson has amplified the notion that Democratic politicians and other assorted elites want to force demographic change through immigration, and that his producers sometimes scoured his show’s raw material from the same dark corners of the internet that the Buffalo suspect did.”

One in three American adults now believe that an effort is underway “to replace native-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gain.”  The poll indicated that these folks mostly watch Fox News.

Our Buffalo suspect appears to have immersed himself on web forums like 4chan and 8chan, where versions of replacement theory abound. That is also where the suspect, before setting out to slaughter black shoppers in Buffalo, posted his 180-page compendium of racist arguments and internet memes.

He wrote that he got his news from Reddit. He began browsing 4chan in May 2020 “after extreme boredom,” he wrote, and quickly found a gateway to anti-Black and antisemitic replacement content. Reflecting the most extreme versions of replacement theory, the suspect deemed black people, like immigrants, as “replacers”: people who “invade our lands, live on our soil, live on government support and attack and replace our people.”

Tucker Carlson has spouted these same memes for years to his mostly old, virtually all white audience and his fascist voice gives these ideas legitimacy.

“Why is diversity said to be our greatest strength? Does anyone even ask why? It is spoken like a mantra and repeated ad infinitum,” our suspect wrote. The line nearly matches one of Mr. Carlson’s go-to attacks on Fox. “How, precisely, is diversity our strength?” Carlson asked in a 2018 segment. one of many in which he has hit on the question. “Since you’ve made this our new national motto, please be specific as you explain it.”

“What we are seeing is the inevitable result of the normalization of white supremacist Replacement Theory in all its forms.”   Tucker Carlson may lead that charge — but he’s backed by Republican elected officials and other leaders eager to amplify this deadly conspiracy.”

Kevin McCarthy, House Minority  Leader has hesitated to condemn his own colleagues. When Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) participated in a white nationalist conference earlier this year, McCarthy criticized the event itself but said the lawmakers wouldn’t face any internal party discipline.

On Monday, Representative Stefanik doubled down on the idea that Democrats are plotting to reshape the electorate through underhanded means.  “Democrats desperately want wide open borders and mass amnesty for illegals allowing them to vote,” she wrote on Twitter.  She ignores the fact that non-citizens cannot vote and there is no evidence that they do.  No matter.  They’re immigrants.

A Republican state lawmaker with ties to white nationalists suggested the racially motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket was staged by government agents.

Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo,” Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers wrote. The first-term lawmaker has built a national profile among far-right extremists with incendiary rhetoric, diehard support for former President Donald Trump and an embrace of white nationalism.

And so it goes on.  Young white boys who aren’t getting laid, sitting in their rooms jacking off, wander into the dark corners of the web where platforms allowing “free speech”  talk of patriots  and saving their race from extinction by white heroes.

Our Buffalo suspect makes threats in school a year ago.  The cops take him for a mental evaluation.  He is released.  No one follows up.   He drives 200 miles with his legally purchased weapons, his body armor and high capacity magazines and kills ten black people who are out shopping for groceries.

We can now watch our GOP legislators wring their hands and send their thoughts and prayers.

Fascism is upon us.

 

 

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The Princess and the Nerd – from the Archive for Prom Season

1-30-2009-03 

The Princess and the Nerd – June 1, 1963 – At the Ft. Hamilton High School Prom.

Did you ever think about how you got to where you are?

Everyone does at one time or another. How did I get here to this place, this time and these circumstances. What happened? How can this be? Or perhaps, boy am I lucky!

Any life has crossroads – important moments when we make choices. Or moments when the unexpected happens – moments when our future is determined and yet we are completely unaware of what has just happened and of the life that is to come.

Bad things can happen to us. Perhaps looking back after your divorce you wonder how you made the dreadful mistake of marrying that horrid person; yet out the awful marriage you have children you adore and who adore you. You can’t picture your life without them. You look at your wedding pictures and wonder how you got from vowing everlasting love to hating each other even as you love your children beyond measure.   Would you do it all again knowing if you didn’t you wouldn’t have those kids?

Did you know when you were at the crossroads?  Looking back, can you recognize the instant? Perhaps the moment you first met that now hated spouse but thought at the time he or she was cute? If you had passed him or her up you would not have married  and your life would have taken a different course – without those kids you love.

Everyone has that moment – it is simply not possible to recognize it at the time; nor know how it will turn out

Sometimes the moment is so innocent.  Someone saying “hello” at a college Halloween party to a guy laying in a casket. A girl you have met before saying “Hi” to you as she is leaving an ice cream parlor. You didn’t remember her name but she remembered yours.

Both of the above ended in happy marriages. I guess its just as likely each might have been non-events and totally forgettable. But they were not.

Fate? As an incurable romantic sap I think love finds you when you least expect it.

Hinsch’s – Where we met.

The picture of the nerd in the Buddy Holly glasses and the laughing pretty brunette in gold is me and her at her prom in May 1963. I was 20 and she was 17. She said hello to me when I least expected it. She remembered my name.  She went back into Hinche’s Soda Shop with me and we had coffee. I had gone there that night to perhaps meet some friends and hang out.

How quaint.  Who knew that the Fates were in Brooklyn that night.

Over coffee while discussing her upcoming graduation and future plans I discovered  she had no prom date. Her boyfriend, Lou, also known as the “bread crumb king” (his family owned an Italian  bakery) had broken up with her.

“Want to go to the prom? I’ll take you” blurts I. Another fateful moment. She barely knew me. So I arranged with her to call the next day and she would let me know. She gave me her phone number.  No smart phones then.

She made the mistake (fates again) of telling her mom and sister that some guy she knew asked her to the prom. “Go! Go!” was the response. The lucky fates were riding high.

So she said she would go with me. Her mom made the dress.

 

The Statler Hilton Hotel

It was at the Statler Hilton (now the Pennsylvania Hotel) in Manhattan – fancy digs for a high school prom almost 60 years ago. We had our picture taken.

She is laughing – because the background curtain exactly matches her homemade dress and shoes.  Perfect!  Smile!  Snap!

The instant is frozen forever in time – the princess and the nerd.

We went nightclubbing afterwards with friends – to the old Living Room where Tommy Edwards was singing (“Many a tear has to fall…but it’s all in the game!”) and the African Room where the MC, noticing her shiny blue green eyes recommended I keep plying her with liquor. Brandy Alexanders. Legal drinking age was 18 then.  “Night Clubs” fifty years ago meant small tables, intimacy, food, drinks and entertainment.  If you wanted to dance you went to a dance hall – like Birdland.   We were all danced out by the time we hit the clubs.

We rode the ferry to Staten Island then to Brooklyn (there was no Verrazano Bridge yet) – two kids kissing at the front of the boat on a warm starry night, kind of like Leo and Kate, with the skyline silhouetting us. We got my car and watched the sun rise kissing at Plum Beach – home of the “submarine race watchers”.  Brooklyn people know where that is.

Sunrise at Plum Beach

Her father was not pleased when I brought his daughter home well after sunrise – around 10 a.m..  “Well since you kept my daughter out all night you might as well come to the barbecue this afternoon!”.   It was Memorial Day weekend.  He wasn’t smiling.  But she was.

We married seven months later over frantic objections from our parents.

The instant my life was determined is in that picture – It sits on my dresser…..and now is forever memorialized in the ether of the internet.  We were together for forty years.  We had four children together and buried two together.

She will laugh eternally and I will always be the lucky nerd on whom the Fates smiled.

She was gone eighteen years on April 19.

P.S. – Hinch’s Soda Shoppe closed a couple of years ago.  Before it did, my eldest daughter and I sat in the very booth where I met her mother before we left to start our new lives in Florida.

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Luna – For Tonight’s Lunar Eclipse

Lunar eclipse tonight in the eastern U.S!

Tutmoses gazing ‘cross the Nile

saw your image on the water

Cleopatra held Caesar’s hand

and kissed it by your light

Nero plucked his lyre

while you shined on burning Rome

Did Mehmet look upon your face

atop the walls of Byzantium?

You shined that night

on Santa Maria

and when they came for Atahualpa.

Watched the Sioux ghost dance

and the Mahdi pray outside Khartoum.

Cixi sat in her pavilion, drank tea and reminisced.

Did your visage ache the doomed

along the Volga that  Christmas?

Watching countless Romeos

caress the breasts

of  Juliet

you shined on me as well tonight.

Am I one with the infinite?

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