*

*
Lion and sparrow

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Peace train, slowly rolling.

On the advent of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, four civilians have been shot and murdered at Kiryat Arba today, including a pregnant Israeli woman.

The victims were named as Yitzhak Ames, 47, and his wife Tali Ames, 45, Kochava Ben- Haim, 37, and Avishai Schindler, 24, all from Beit Hagai. The Ames couple had six children, including a one and- a-half-year-old toddler.

Zaka volunteer Momy Ben- Haim was dispatched to the scene of the attack with his colleagues, when to his horror he discovered that his wife was among the dead.

“We saw a crying volunteer, and at first we did not understand what was happening – he has seen many disasters before,” Zaka volunteer Isaac Bernstein told The Jerusalem Post.

“Then he started shouting, ‘That’s my wife! That’s my wife!’ We took him away from the scene immediately,” Bernstein added.

Ben-Haim was taken to his home in Beit Hagai by his colleagues.

“When we arrived on the scene, all four doors of the car were open and four bodies were strewn on the road,” Magen David Adom paramedic Guy Ronen told The Jerusalem Post. “We saw that the vital organs had been struck by a very large number of bullets, and that there was no chance of saving their lives,” he added.



Izzedin Al-Qassam Brigades -- the military wing of Hamas -- claimed "complete" responsibility for the attack, according to a statement on its website.


Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for the group, confirmed responsibility for the attack in an interview with the Hamas radio station.


Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, congratulated the attackers, saying the attack was a normal reaction to what he called "the crime of occupation." Hamas, which controls Gaza, opposes direct talks and the continued existence of Israel. According to news sources, approximately 3000 Palestinians celebrated and danced in the streets of Gaza after hearing news of the attack.


Hamas' military wing said it would carry out more operations after claiming responsibility for the shooting.


"This attack is a chain in a series of attacks, some have been executed, and others will follow," Abu Ubaida, spokesman for the group, told Reuters.


Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's executive committee, told Al Jazeera that the timing of the attack "is related to the beginning of talks".


"There seems to be a pattern each time there is an advance [in the peace process] or the commencement of talks, attacks happen," she said.


"The situation here is unstable, unsecure, and people pay attention when there is violence against Israelis, while the violence Palestinians face at the hands of Israelis on a daily basis goes unnoticed."


The U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, issued a statement saying he "is shocked" by the report. "We condemn this murderous act and call for those responsible to be brought to justice." He called on all parties "not to allow the enemies of peace to affect the negotiations about to be launched, and to progress with determination and courage on behalf of both peoples, towards a final settlement."


The head of the Mount Hebron Regional Council, Tzvika Bar-Hai, called on Netanyahu to cancel the Washington talks.

“There is no place for negotiations with those who respond with deadly fire to our hand outstretched for peace,” he said.

“It is time for the leaders of Israel to wake up from the illusion of false peace,” Bar-Hai added.



Ames family pictured with now orphaned children.

Why can't we live together?

Semantics

 "The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and co-operation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life." Adolf Hitler -  February 1, 1933
Senator Richard Russell (1897-1971)

I got a rather nasty letter from a christo/republican colleague today, rubbing a little salt in my raw wounds. According to this friend, I have been scammed like Obama has scammed the country, yada, yada. Really funny stuff.

I sent him back this little tidbit from Focus on the Family which thinks that national programs to end bullying are a backdoor attempt to impose the dreaded gay agenda. To illustrate the love of his comrades.
Republican values in action.

As kids head back to school, conservative Christian media ministry Focus on the Family perceives a bully on the playground: national gay-advocacy groups.
School officials allow these outside groups to introduce policies, curriculum and library books under the guise of diversity, safety or bullying-prevention initiatives, said Focus on the Family education expert Candi Cushman.
"We feel more and more that activists are being deceptive in using anti-bullying rhetoric to introduce their viewpoints, while the viewpoint of Christian students and parents are increasingly belittled," Cushman said.

So if I follow this correctly, if your punk sissy son doesn't try out for the football team, or has a heightened interest in home or floral decoration, and my hormonally charged, sugar baked macho brat gets a hankering to punch his teeth in, it is merely an extension of a forgotten biblical precept probably found in Leviticus somewhere. So back off, you pacifist faggots. 

Anyhow my missive gave way to his response: 
Democratic Values. Robert Byrd    Great Democratic senator a family values kind of guy working his way up to the top of the Democratic party.!!

Ku Klux Klan

In the early 1940s, Byrd recruited 150 of his friends and associates to create a new chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.[10]
According to Byrd, a Klan official told him, "You have a talent for leadership, Bob ... The country needs young men like you in the leadership of the nation." Byrd later recalled, "suddenly lights flashed in my mind! Someone important had recognized my abilities! I was only 23 or 24 years old, and the thought of a political career had never really hit me. But strike me that night, it did."[10] Byrd held the titles Kleagle (recruiter) and Exalted Cyclops.[10] When it came time to elect the "Exalted Cyclops," the top officer in the local Klan unit, Byrd won.
Okay, Robert Byrd was a KKK member 70 years ago. Is that the best you got to illustrate the evils of democrats? Come again?

So he sends me this:

Todays Liberal Questionnaire  
Was Martin Luther King  a Republican?  Yes 
Was Tim McVeigh a Democrat ?            Yes
Did you have the correct answer?
This is a just one classic example of democratic liberal thought bending the truth. Hijacking  the Christian values of a Conservative Black religious leader and claiming them as there own 
And spreading a false propagandist image of a left-wing extremist radical atheist murderer as though he was a  conservative Christian.

Sure Robert Byrd was not a racist if another classic  example of the left bending the truth and revising history..
 BULLSHT!!
Martin Luther King was a conservative Christian!! and his bust is now in the oval office for Obama's  speech tonight saying the war is over!!!

This is laughable on its face, but deserves response. Most black people were Republican, the party of Lincoln, in the early sixties. The reason for this is that the primary opponents of desegregation were dixiecrats, principally the notorious Senator Russell from Georgia.

However, it is a gross mischaracterization to call King a conservative or paint him as a lifelong Republican. His father was a republican who changed sides, he supported JFK in the 1960 election after Bobby Kennedy's phone calls released him from jail after the October 1960 sit-in. King Jr. never endorsed either party. But his actions were not in any way conservative. He was against the Vietnam War, feeling that the money would be better spent on the War on Poverty. He was constantly challenging the dominant power structure, a decidedly liberal occupation. He championed civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance.  He fought against Jim Crow and for blacks' right to vote, desegregate and for basic human rights. In 1968, King and the SCLC organized the "Poor People's Campaign" in 1968 to address economic justice. He marched on Washington, D.C. demanding economic aid to the poorest communities of the United States. King traveled the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would march on Washington to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol until Congress created a bill of rights for poor Americans. Doesn't sound like a typical Republican to me. He prayed for a color blind society but was in no way lulled into thinking that he actually lived in one.


Political labels tend to shift allegiances over time and defy generalizations like my friend makes. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the southern Democrats deserted to the Republican party in droves.  So it is an Orwellian prance through the Looking Glass, where down equals up and black really means white to suddenly make the bald face assertion that Martin Luther King Jr. was a conservative, let alone a Republican.


Tim McVeigh is now a left winger in my friend's private opera. A democrat no less. The facts are that he was a registered Republican when he lived in Buffalo, a member of the NRA who left because he thought they were too soft on assault rifles, and later switched to the Libertarian Party, voting for Harry Browne in 1996. He associated with far right militias and was heavily influenced by the anti-Semitic writings of William Pierce, The Turner Diaries. He hated socialism, the conservative's bugaboo. He hung out at gun shows, not exactly your normal liberal tea party.


***


The upshot is that we are not speaking the same language and facts can be twisted any way we choose. It is like if I was to surmise that Hitler and McVeigh were Catholics nee Christians, so by association all Christians and Catholics are mass murderers and terrorists. The thinking is so simplistic and counter intuitive. You are a deck of cards. Shazamm!


Before I pulled the plug on Facebook I had the misfortune to read some Christian's statement that Jesus wasn't interested in the poor, Christianity had been hijacked somewhere along the way. She said that Jesus would have had more trouble with the rich being heavily taxed since the man from Nazareth had firmly stated that there would always be poor people around. And I always thought he came to administer to the weak and dispossessed. Nope. Creeping liberals, he came to administer the sword and engage in some serious smiting. Silly me.


**


Keeping my ear to the ground, I have heard from a lot of young conservatives lately, and the resounding message amongst the new libertarian Beck types is this: Government isn't here to make it fair for everybody. People should have the freedom to discriminate. It is part of an essential liberty that we have cast aside in the hopes of making a fairer world. Let the market sort it out. There will always be inequities and that is the way it is.


My feeling is that discrimination laws are necessary. It may not appear to be much of a problem if you decide not to rent to one black, jew, gay but if your whole neighborhood won't rent to the aforementioned, it is now an intolerable situation that requires affirmative remediation.


Kids today did not witness the separate drinking fountains of my youth and never saw the marches or horribly unequal schools that I did in the late fifties and early sixties. They want to believe the notion that the playing field is equal for everybody. That they are colorblind and that we all have the same opportunity to succeed. Why do I see that as wishful thinking?


Unfortunately I think that an over reliance on affirmative action and quotas have given a lot of white american males a sense that things went too far in the other direction and that they are the ones being discriminated against. If there is racism in America it's because blacks and mexicans keep bringing it up.  Trying to get over. I just don't think the charges hold up under inspection. Try to live in a black skin for a day. Look at their unemployment rate. I just got the cartoon above from my friend Don. There is a palpable anger towards minorities in this country. Saw one on Obama this morning so foul that I can't even print. 


Its a normal fallback to blame another group's success for your own shortcomings. But the oppressed white christian majority is taking things too far. It's tough times right now for every group with the exception of the super wealthy who have seen their personal income soar in the last ten years. It would be nice if we could stand together in solidarity instead of trying to pick straw men amongst ourselves to victimize. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

What does Evian spell backwards again?

I read a new report today from the advocacy group Food and Water Watch. Almost half of the bottled water sold in America in 2009 came out of a tap. Actually the number is 47.8%. They run it through a filter and give it some sort of springy fresh name. Of course the price of the bottled water is hundreds to thousands times the cost of tap water. The group also found that from 2005-2009, the volume of tap water bottled grew by 66% while the volume of spring water bottled went up by only 9%.

People should be aware that tap water doesn't contain  polyethylene terephthalate, a chemical with questionable environmental effects found in plastic bottles.

According to the report, it takes water to produce bottled water, so the environmental consequences of bottling tap water are magnified. And the containers don't have to end up in the North Pacific Gyr.

So the next time you are tempted to reach for that cool bottle of water from the convenience store shelf, you might pause and consider. Put a glass under your faucet and reach for some home brew. It's just as safe and a hell of a lot cheaper.

Waiting for a miracle - Bruce Cockburn

If I had a gun for every ace I have drawn...

I can't shake the bad taste in my mouth for successfully getting punked. The inevitable next letter just came and I enclose it along with my reply. I have talked to a few friends this morning and I guess I was the only guy in the world not aware of the Facebook Hijack scam. Supposed friend in need just contacted me and worst suspicions confirmed. It was so well choreographed. My friend was due to be in London, the scammer said that he had been mugged in London. Perfect. Have deactivated my Facebook account. I had some interesting interactions on the social networking site, will miss my repartee with Ed, Mark, Jeff and Roy but the thing was a major masturbatory time waster and I am finished for now, feeling majorly violated. I can think of several more productive ways to waste my time.

thank for the money i have pickup the money but i still need to pay some bills and get a flight home...the rate of money is too low so i still need your help all i need now is $865 to complete everything ok...i will def refund it back asap and with the westernunion charge....

keep me posted


**


thanks for fucking me. It will really make me want to reach out to help my fellow man in time of need in the future. I hope that there is a special hell for you and your pathetic, sociopathic brethren. Here's to you getting hit by a bus and expiring slowly of a painful infectious disease.

Robert

***

I have been following the social breakdown/civil war in this country with rapt attention this week. Glenn Beck in his "I have a dream" moment, conservatives questioning our great leader's ecumenical bona fides, murder suicides run amok, the normal offal that we media hounds graze upon on a daily basis.

I took particular note of the opinion piece by Robert Knight that ran on CNN. Knight is a writer for the Coral Ridge Ministries and a a senior fellow for the conservative American Civil Rights Union. He helped draft the "Defense of Marriage Act," the 1996 law in which the federal government defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman, and is the author of "Fighting for America's Soul: How Sweeping Change Threatens Our Nation and What We Must Do." The title of the piece is, America was born a Christian nation.

Now as a student of the founding fathers it always seemed to me that the writers of the constitution took great pains not to adopt any state religion. There is no mention of the United States being a christian nation in the constitution, certainly. 

What I did find intriguing about his piece was the private letter to Pennsylvania House member John Murray dated October 12, 1816 he included from John Jay, the noted jurist, wherein Jay states, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."

When I was young and possibly more naive than I am today, I believed that with enough focus, drive and  perseverance, anyone could accomplish anything. Why, I could have even been elected President of the United States, if the stars were properly aligned and a few things had gone in my favor. Imagine that, a jewish boy...

Now I know that I was mistaken. Christians have a duty to elect Christians, and it must be the right brand of the creed, to boot. Obama is castigated and excoriated as being the wrong type of Christian, JFK was pilloried for his Catholicism. The thought of a gasp, muslim president, or a man born of the despised islamic seed, is enough to give some Americans the vapors. Let alone sikhs, buddhists, jews, atheists, what have you. 

I think that the message to all Americans who are not Christians or even believers is simple: You operate here at our convenience, but don't get the idea that you can run the show. Racial and religious minorities are supposed to be seen but not heard, and if you gum up the works you will see what is coming. We are tired of hearing about crosses on public land, creches and nativity scenes, prayer in the schools. This is our country and if you don't like it get the hell out.

I get it.

***

It was amusing for me to watch Ken Mehlman, the ex head of the Republican National Committee, finally come out with the worst secret in Washington, the fact that he is gay. He wishes that he could have been there for a host of issues that affected gay people and is sort of apologetic. Pure hypocrisy. Worse yet is the idea now floated by Republican apparatchiks like Ed Gillespie that the Republican Party was a big tent, where deviants like Mehlman were welcome.

Mehlman said that he "really wished" he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, "so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]" and "reached out to the gay community in the way I reached out to African Americans."

I quote Gillespie from Atlantic Magazine: 

Gillespie said that "it is significant that a former chairman of the Republican National Committe is openly gay and that he is supportive of gay marriage." Although Gillespie himself opposes gay marriage, he pointed to party stalwarts like former Vice President Dick Cheney and strategist Mary Matalin as open advocates for gay rights who had not been drummed out of the party. He acknowledged "big generational differences in perception when it comes to gay marriage and gay rights as an agenda, and I think that is true on the Republican side."

But, Gillespie said, he does not envision the party platform changing anytime soon.

So lets get this straight, we will welcome you to our party but we won't change our homophobic platform or do anything to make your chosen lifestyle any easier for you to live. The mostly republican congressmen that are caught tap dancing in airport bathroom stalls or chasing pages around the congressional floor will be given the "I am a born again christian, I am forgiven card" to play if they happen to be caught, as they mostly always are. 

Another case of, we will tolerate you - just don't expect us to change. We run this game and it's fixed.

**




Sunday, August 29, 2010

Scammed?

I may have been played successfully for the sap today. I got a Facebook chat message from a good friend who announced that he was in deep shit. He was in a foreign country, the one my real friend is supposed to be this week.

He had been mugged last night of wallet, cash and phone. I asked what I could do to help and agreed to western union funds to him in London. Except that you can't claim without an i.d. of course so it would have to go to the hotel manager. Following me?

I sends the five hundred large plus pays the hefty fee. I email him back on an unfamiliar yahoo email address that bears his true name in the prefix side. What do you call that side of an email address anyway?

***

Now the name of my friend has disappeared from Facebook. I am noticing small inconsistencies in the letter, control questions where I never got an adequate answer. Is my friend actually stranded in Europe or have I been the victim of a beautiful Facebook takeover and the resultant elaborate scam? The woman at Western Union had cautioned me about scams originating from the continent. So simple really, with gullible me...

I just got this note that the money had been received. Would an actual scammer bother to write back a note?


Thanks a lot for all your effort in getting me back home.. I just got the money now and i will be in the next available flight back to the state.
I owe you a lot.
***

I await the fate of this personal conundrum with bated breath and rapt attention. If I am the victim of a dastardly ruse, I will know that I am not the first man to be punked while coming to the aid of his fellow.

Faithfully,


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Shmorgasbord

I have a friend on Facebook who falls in and out of love a lot. It is a tad embarrassing the way she will one moment be waxing prosaically about her newest love interest, only to inevitably slide into the emotional dumper so all her online friends can see her spectacular wipeout.

I bring this up having seen Chrissie Hynde play Humphries last night, sharing the bill with Lucinda Williams. Chrissie's voice was in its normal superb form. She was playing with her new paramour, Welsh folksinger J.P. Jones. They have a new album called "Fidelity" which they wrote holed up in a cramped Havana hotel room together.

Hynde is pushing 60, Jones, the new love interest, is a freshly scrubbed 31. He had been a big fan of le grand dame growing up, with her poster on his wall and had sent her some songs and they apparently hit it off. May September romance, the cougar effect in all its glory. Whatever.

Their portion of the concert was okay, replete with "mommy" wisecracks and between song patter about their age difference and seeming inability to ever have children. But they broke one of the first rules of entertainment, thou shall not bore. Every song was another mutual admiration, self congratulatory paean to their budding romance. It gets old for a listener. Would have liked to hear at least a couple songs of a different emotional temperature, maybe something sad or pissy.

Not only that, the guy is just not a great singer. Okay, not a bad voice if you are getting sufficiently plowed at the pub, but a steel rake on cement next to the sonic royalty that is Hynde. So I found myself wishing that he would shut the fuck up.

***

Lucinda, who I am a big fan of but had never seen live, was fantastic. I had been warned that her shows could be really slow but I was riveted. In all of my years in San Diego (and come to think of it, I was born here) I had never visited the intimate venue. Not a bad seat in the house. Lady next to me said that she had some sort of meltdown in Sacramento. She stopped our show to complain about the sound from the stage monitors. Tempestuous.

She has a new guitar player, a giant of a man named Val McCallum, who shreds. Comes from the L.A. band the jackshits. Or maybe it is the kingshits. I went to the show with fellow guitar player Chip, and we were both blown away by this guy's stunning performance.





Lucinda has a pure voice, lacking in a lot of range, but honest and sincere. I have heard it described as heroin cowboy but not sure if that is a fair call. I love her. Her fans are passionate, I found myself being hugged by a lesbian girl during her encore. Any port in a storm, honey. Chrissie and JP joined her and we stood next to the stage. Fantastic, except for JP bumbling his lines and drop ins. But a very satisfying evening all in all.

Setlist- 1) Blessed
2) Tears of Joy
3) Kiss Like Your Kiss
4) Are You All Right
...5) Concrete & Barbed Wire
6) Crescent City
7) Something About What Happens When We Talk
8 Jackson
9) Greenville
10) Right In Time
11) Awakening
12) Seeing Black
13) Unsuffer Me
14) Come On
15) Honey Bee
16) Righteously

Encore
17) Sweet Side - with Chrissie & JP joining in! Chrissie kneeling in front of Lucinda. Lucinda commented "we made some history tonight"
18) Joy - " don't let Sarah Palin take your joy; don't let the fearmongerers take your joy"


**


I got a call last week from something called Project Ethos. Did I want to attend a spectacular multimedia event that included concerts, fashion show, art exhibits and beautiful people? Gratis as an honored guest VIP, plus one? My wife is in the fashion biz so after checking I said sure. Wanted to see how they got my name, as I am not exactly too far up there on the cool charts. Ethos describes itself as an incubator for  art, music and fashion.

Leslie and I piled ourselves into the old jalopy and headed down for the hour long trip to the big city. I was wearing a decent shirt and had slipped into my better pair of loafers. Slight detour for Bronx Pizza, Spinach Ricotta. We found our way to the high end nightclub, Fluxx and saw a coterie of beautiful people milling about outside.  We met the charming hostess I had spoke to on the phone and she slipped a curator badge over my neck. As a gallery owner, I guess the hopes were that I would help discover some emerging talent. Had I forgotten to tell her that I only handle dead or extremely sick artists?

We were escorted in and a man rushed up to me and asked to see my driver's license. Obviously I did not possess the right cool cred to be invited to such an event, too old, decidedly unhip, not wearing my customary black. He apologized and the night started to spiral downhill. We waited for two and a half hours for nothing to happen, except perhaps view the generally ghastly art. Drank the overpriced cocktails.

There was no where to sit and we asked a kindly security man if we could sit at one of the many empty reserved tables for a moment and rest our old and tired peds until the big shots showed up. Just for a moment, mind you. He was very nice and assented. The media relations girl ran over and told us that he had no ranking and we would have to vacate the area immediately. I tore my stupid fucking badge off my neck and let Leslie know that I was ready to go but we took a walk around the gaslamp instead and  she simmered me down and we started the long wait until 10:30 when the hideous hip hop trio and soon to be major recording artist Sophia Fresh came out and whored themselves around the runway.

All night a persistent thought perambulated through my noggin, what the hell were they selling and what the hell was this about? During the start of the fashion show, it clicked. This was a very expensive venture to sell clothing, to resonate with the trendy mod whatevers. I sometimes attend Fashion Show events when Leslie is doing her thing at the WWIN and Magic Shows in Vegas and the designers here were pretty pedestrian imho, all sizzle, no steak.

We did meet a nice woman who sold medical instruments. Saw a lot of hormonally overcharged beautiful people. But next time I think I will skip it.

***

Looks like Washington Nationals pheenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg is out for this year and probably the next. Twelve big league starts and he is sent to the showers with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow that will require Tommy John Surgery.

I was listening to the crafty left hander Randy Jones rap with Darrin Smith on 1090 Sports Radio yesterday and they mentioned that some healthy high school kids were having a procedure that extracted a tendon from their thigh and reattached it to their arm so that they could become better pitchers. Prophylactically. Healthy kids. Freakishly weird and something that I want to discuss with the bio-ethics professor.  Probably prodded by their overbearing families. Frankenkoufaxes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Harry Partch - Eight hitchhiker inscriptions from a highway railing at Barstow - 1941.



Partch (1901-1974) recorded this version in 1968. One of America's most inventive forgotten geniuses.

Ron Dante's Inferno

It was hotter than hades in Fallbrook yesterday so in a contrarian show of devil may care lunacy, the Blast jumped in the old wagon in search of an even hotter clime. Palm Springs, CA, temperature about 115 degrees in the shade.

Actually had to meet my friend Steve Stoops from Stevens Fine Art in Phoenix, who was loaning the Fallbrook Art Center some beautiful prints for the second Transferring Ink Print Show. Had prearranged the meet and drop off in the broiler that is Palm Springs. We thought that we would spend the day picking the shops up and down the desert corridor.

Most of the shops were still closed for the summer heat and wednesday was not the right day but we made the best of it and managed to score a nice drawing. We ate at a neat little Thai place, Smile and shopped in the mostly modern shops, more Steve's bailiwick than my own.

The Palm Springs Museum is having a great Birger Sandzen exhibition, with many pieces on loan from Lindsborg, Kansas. It is titled Colors of the West, The Paintings of Birger Sandzen. Sandzen (1871-1954) was a Swedish artist, trained in France, whose strong palette of pinks and purples, and vibrant fauvist landscapes are worth a small fortune with collectors.

It is a magnificent show.  If you are in the area don't miss it.  Steve had previously sold some of the paintings on display at the exhibition.

There were several other shows running concurrently that were also worth checking out, a beautiful Van Gogh painting of oranges that is worth the price of admission, and a nice collection of Palm Springs area and western paintings.

Instead of coming up over the mountain in the heat, I  took the 10 and stopped at Hadley's to buy a pound of medjools and a date shake.  Noticed that I was on 0 and coasted into the gas station in Rainbow on fumes. Saved.


***

I saw a first last night. I was lying down on the couch when I heard an owl hooting. I snuck out to the car to get my camera and there were two owls rapping together on the telephone wire. Couldn't get a shot, the moon was still too far to the north for an available light source so I give you instead these pics of the owl on the wire I captured a few years ago.





Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Soon playing in New York

There was a big beef neighborhood quarrel in Beirut today. A real toodoo.

From AFP Beirut:

Two people, including a Hezbollah official, were killed in clashes between supporters of the Shia Muslim movement and partisans of a small Sunni group in Beirut yesterday, an army spokesman said. 
Police said the fighters were using shoulder-launched rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns in the fighting, which continued for some four hours and in which another three people were wounded. 
“A personal fight between a supporter of Hezbollah and another of Al Ahbash erupted just after 7pm in Beirut’s Burj Abi Haidar neighbourhood and escalated into a firefight in which two men were killed, one of whom has been identified as a member of Hezbollah,” the army spokesman said. 
“The army has intervened and is trying to restore calm in the area,” he said. 
A correspondent at the site of the clashes said eyewitnesses had identified the victim as Hezbollah official Mohamed Fawaz. 
Witnesses said the clash began as an argument between Fawaz and supporters of the Sunni group over a parking space near a mosque frequented by Al Ahbash. 
Gunfire and explosions could be heard as the fighting continued late into the evening in Burj Abi Haidar, an area in west Beirut considered a stronghold of parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri’s Shia Amal movement, which is allied with Hezbollah. 
An Amal partisan said that Amal members briefly joined the fight on Hezbollah’s side, but the party later issued a statement denying that claim. 
Troops cordoned off the area and were firing warning shots into the air as several Red Cross ambulances arrived at the site of the clashes. 
The fighting took place as Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah addressed an all-women Iftar. Nasrallah made no mention of the incident. 


When I was a kid it was fists and sometimes dirt clods escalating into rocks. Occasionally dads got into it but very rarely. I can honestly say that we never had much use for shoulder launched rocket propelled grenades in the neighborhood. Or machine guns. Wham-o slingshots were always big.


Apparently these guys in Beirut were arguing over a choice parking space near the mosque and things got a little out of hand. Wait until they have to deal with stalled afternoon traffic in New York City. These guys will really blow their stacks.


I think that these people are batshit crazy. I think that the world gives them pretty much a free pass in regards to this behavior. Oh, it's the fucking arabs, everybody knows that they are insane...


The most ridiculous line of reasoning goes like this: Tell me if you heard it already. If nasty americans don't allow the nice moslems to build their mosque and community center next to the Twin Towers site, impressionable and at risk arab youth are going to become extremists, feeling like Islam is under attack. Hello! If a little societal ire is directed at you because your people are implicated in and responsible for the most despicable manner of crimes against the innocent in decades, is that reason enough for your children to become barbarians? Sounds like very suspect parenting to me. You think people should love you or respect you?


Life is a precious commodity for most of us. It is an affront to our senses to see how cheap it has become in some cultures. Where is the censure in the islamic world for events like today's shootout? Or the constant mosque bombings in Iraq?  Or the targeting of the walkers on the haj?  Three dead over a parking space. Makes a lot of sense.



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mars - Holst, The Planets

Second Thoughts

The liberal party line, which I tend to toe, is that the "good" muslims have every right to proceed with building their mosque a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. After all, according to the new narrative, "scores" of muslims were also killed in the attacks and several were first responders.

I do not know if the aforementioned is necessarily true but the law of averages would hold out that some muslims were killed along with everybody else, so I will mark that as a given.

The question is why build a mosque so close? Does it spit in the eye of the victims and their families? Are we trying to shoehorn this positive image of the faith, along with a worldwide tour by the Iman subsidized by the state department, down the throats of the american public?

Is this a clash between the gods of private property fighting the gods of religious freedom? An attempt to create a level playing field where none may exist and in the most insensitive location conceivable?  Can liberals drop their huge sense of intellectual superiority for a second and engage in a moment of honest self examination?

I have been pretty adamant about the right to build the mosque. But in retrospect, I also think that we dismiss the feelings of the dissenters at our peril. Why build the mosque there in the first place? Is this some islamic remediation plan?  Is our American notion of fair play and equanimity so great that we simply can't conceive that a lot of this faith's devotees are simply vicious killers with a mile wide victim's complex?

I am sick about people drawing a moral equivalence between christians and muslims. It is rare that we get christian or jewish violence in this country, Eric Rudolph and Oklahoma City being the very rare exception.

Look at the Phillipines, or Indonesia, or Iraq and the history of fraternal violence since time immemorial in the arab lands. The internecine conflicts that have ravaged the kurds, bahai, druze, jews and the rest of the smaller tribes that revolve around the sunni/shia axis. The honor killings, the genital mutilation, the subjugation of women.

We are not all wired the same way. In civilization, the land where we try to live, you don't murder innocent people. You don't take down their planes, you don't throw the elderly off of cruise ships, you don't blow up their temples in South America. Or Bali. Yet the Islamic world gets a free pass, under the largely unsupported bet that there is some sanity present there, somewhere. Doesn't there have to be?

I think that the liberal intelligentsia needs to listen long and hard to the pain of their countrymen. They do not feel like we were attacked by individuals, they have cut through the horseshit and know that we were attacked by religious ideologues who dream of a global caliphate. They have a visceral grasp of a truism that a liberal can not accept, because it doesn't fit into his or her notion that all of god's creatures are destined to walk in peace in the Garden of Eden.

Our foes are bright. They tend to come from our own universities and the higher economic classes. They are remarkably well versed in using our own advanced technology against us. They can use us, feed off of us and then attempt to kill us without a hint of guilt, remorse or shame. Witness the recent Times Square bombing attempt. And we march forward, like saps, offering up the opposite cheek for them. Because we are so innately fair, you know?

On an ideal academic level, I can give you fifty reasons why the mosque should be built. Yet I also can foresee the day when we look at our country cousins and say, you know, they were right.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I can't let go.




 Got tickets today for Lucinda Williams and Chrissie Hynde at Humphreys Friday night. Still tickets left, come join me.

Ab actu ad posse valet illatio.

One of the truisms in my line of work is that antique and antique painting dealers share two things in common. We have serious issues with authority and we are all essentially unemployable. I think that another shared quality is the happiness that those in my vocation get from treasure hunting.

Searching through the detritus of the past for a missed gold nugget takes luck, skill, detective work and most of all an eye. The latter is something that can never be learned, taught or purchased, it is sometimes brought forth into the light as an intuitive sixth sense.

The hunting and gathering that we engage in hearkens back to our atavistic roots as early humans, the passion for discovery that launched De Gama and Ponce and eventually pulled us out of the swamp, albeit with mixed success.

Buying art can be a scholastic or a visceral pursuit or even a combination of the two. I come from an academic household and because of that developed an early passion for research. Some of my fellows never crack a book or do a lick of reading about their work, others write tomes and monographs. There is obviously no right way, but I, wanting to see how objects and paintings fit into their particular era, fall pretty hard on the research side.

***

A cantor walked into my shop the other day with this charming little painting.

A sheep rests against a dark coat with a dog filling out the trio. A green jug sits in a large basket in the foreground. Paint very well handled, although the photographs don't capture its intrinsic warmth.

Oil on panel, about 7" x 10". Conjoined Monogram lower right, sticker and stamp on verso. RS?

The cantor was having the bad run of luck that is affecting so many members of our society these days and needed money for some important familial obligations. I offered to partner the painting with him and he decided on an outright sale.

He had taken it to an Antiques Roadshow and the supposed expert, a brash woman from New York suggested that it was english. Offered up a modest value.

Now I am sure that I have seen this artist before. My first inclination was Rosa Bonheur but the glyph was wrong. But certainly not London, it say Wien (Vienna) on the back and has a secessionist era ink stamp. So now I get to break it down and try to decipher the puzzle.

I have gone through my copy of "Artist's Monograms and Indiscernable Signatures" by Castagno, but as yet to no avail. Have sent a pic to Millard, in Santa Fe, the best I know in such pursuits. We shall see.  I love the little jewel. If it rings a bell, please do tell.

***

I come from an unusual background artistically. I painted and drew throughout my life, mostly stopping about fifteen years ago. When we first got into the business, Leslie and I sold off my own paintings and I have never painted again.

My father had an excellent collection of european court paintings - a Gainsborough of dubious vintage, a real Joshua Reynolds which I sold at auction, Hogarth, Peter Lely, even a wonderful large Van Dyke. I appreciate classical painters, the Spanish, the Flemish, the great Italians. Love Rembrandt and Vermeer above all. The side portrait of Degas in candlelight that hangs in the Picasso Museum in Paris.

I rebelled against the patrician over embellishment of my father's aesthetic and sought refuge in the unadorned simplicity of Mission and Maloof. Nakashima. Now my tastes are cycling back to the classics while many of my cohorts have set sail on the uneven boat of modernism. I find that there were no happy accidents with painters through the end of the nineteenth century, they all were quite facile with the brush. I won't bore you again with my soliloquy on current tastes.

**

I saw my father a few weeks ago and my stepmother gave me this wonderful painting, to sell. It was always there growing up, unsigned I think. We called it the astronomer or Nostradamas.

Fairly large and in a lovely and gallant old frame.

A skull sits on a shelf as does a telescope. I don't know where it was purchased.

I have studied it at length. My best personal guess is Dutch or Flemish but painted in Spain. The moorish windows make me think of the south.

There are some inscriptions on the book and some symbology to her jewelry that my more learned friends think might prove to be of an allegorical or non secular nature.

I was going to take it to New Mexico but a curator friend said to hold off and let the experts look at it, so that I might avert a massive financial mistake.

***

Come by the gallery and see these paintings and more. Happy Hunting.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Leslie's Birthday

We had a boffo bash at the Blue Heron for Leslie last night. Really nice time and it finally cooled down enough to be comfortable. Thanks to Juleen and Brigette for all of their help. And Janet and Adria. Carmen and Antoniette both showed up in the same dress, a fashion cunundrum that was made triply unfortunate when Fernanda went next door and picked up the third one from Caravan, Leslie's store. Leslie had assured them that there were only four in Fallbrook, one in each size. What are the odds? So we had Fallbrook's version of the Supremes.



Continued the blog run of early seventies music on the player, which was mostly well received until it got too hideous.

Trupianos did a great catering job with sliced tri tip and mushrooms stuffed with pine nuts, caprese and their insanely delicious eggplant fiorentina. Monstrous and wicked purple cake from the Sweet Sicilian. Appreciate all the friends who showed up to celebrate the occasion and will forgive those that didn't show, just as I beg forgiveness for those that I forgot to invite. Actually got pretty crowded at one point, we were near capacity.

A lot of our party pals were out of town, you missed a fun one but you know that we will do it again. Thanks Ruth and Flor and Elena and David and Ron and Eva and Bri and Morg and Retha and Doug and David and Arnold and Renee and Cassie, Brett and Allie and Jerri and Frank and Carmen and Mike and Vince and Cheryl and Lev and Beth and Michael and Tom and Stacey Pecore and everybody else I haven't mentioned.

Thank you all for the wine and the flowers and for those that brought my sweet wife Leslie gifts. Thank you Fallbrook.


Shecaqua


       

G                                  C
Then I heard my dream was back downstream cavorting in Davenport
      G                      D7       G
And I followed you Big River when you called...

Big River, Johnny Cash

Julie's Bridge

I have known Julie Bowers for over 25 years. We wandered the hinterlands watching our favorite rock and roll band together for a big chapter in our collective life. She returned to her home ground of Grinnell, Iowa several years ago.

A couple of years back, Julie made it her mission to save the old McDowell Bridge near bye on the Skunk River. She organized numerous benefits to raise money for restoration and expended countless hours of effort on the old bridge's behalf. In a world where so many of us are content with chasing our individual carrots in front of life's stick, she devoted herself to an old iron bridge, a historical relic worth saving for everybody. Time consuming work with little pay and little credit.
The Skunk River had its own plan. It started rising several weeks ago and the bridge broke off its moorings and escaped somehow on an ill fated quest for freedom. It's twisted up and resting now somewhere down river.

If you click on the title of this post, you will see a video of the recent history of the bridge that I really find moving. I can't put it directly on the site because the video takes over.

I don't know if it will ever be rebuilt but I think that my friend's work should be applauded. It takes such hard work to attempt to do what she has tried to do. Tip your cap to her. Lets hope that the Skunk River Bridge can rise again. Congratulations Julie for all your efforts. Don't give up.





Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quel Fromage











The story of na na na na


Beg me to stop!

Omar

I had intended to have gone into Africa incognito. But the fact that a white man, even an American, was about to enter Africa was soon known all over Zanzibar. Henry Morton Stanley 

There was a west african man from Senegal selling across the aisle from me in Santa Fe, Omar Keinde. Omar sells african masks and artifacts and I think that they are probably mostly real, although the business is replete with fakery.

I had never met Omar before and he was a little bristly. He is a muslim and it was Ramadan so he had to fast every day. I tried not to slurp or enjoy my food too conspicuously in deference to his condition. He had to feel weak after the long days. Has never drank alcohol, or munched on a memphis style spare rib in his entire life.

Putting a muslim man across from an agnostic jewish man, especially a boisterous zionist, was a brilliant stroke of planning or sheer coincidence and I decided to try a few preliminary sorties and see what made the guy tick.

It was readily apparent that we were coming from a different space. I don't hate peoples, only individual people, but it soon became clear that I wasn't going to get any quick invitation to join him on the next haj to Mecca.

I have always had an interest in geopolitics and having traveled in africa myself, tried to get an understanding of the problems that beset his continent. Unfortunately Omar was having none of it.

I asked Omar about the problems in Sudan, where the northern muslim population is terrorizing the christian south. America's fault, for selling weaponry. Ditto Mobutu, Idi Amin, Arap Moi, Zimbabwe. All the problems are a direct result of white colonialism.

I asked him to name me a stable african country with a functioning democracy and he could not. He defended Mugabe, because did I think it was fair that 8% of the population that was white owned most of the land? Well the country certainly seemed to function more effectively in the old days. Without the brutal oppression of the native opposition party, so effectively enabled by their cohorts in South Africa.

He took great pleasure in the arrest of the Israeli wackjob who was apprehended last week in the stabbing spree, I am sure he was quite disappointed when he turned out to be a christian from Ramle. Couldn't play the old moral equivalence card.

I know that colonialization brought enormous grief to the continent, the french, belgian, british, dutch and italians all getting a piece of the african pie. But there are times when people must draw a line in the sand and move forward. Stop blaming and take responsibility. See the perils of tribalism and stop the hutu, tutsi, kikuyu tribal bullshit. Whole continent is dragging.

***

Omar didn't want to talk about honor killing or genital mutilation. He said that I was a troublemaker. How would you like to sit across from me for a weekend? He took umbrage from the fact that men can marry each other in America but that he could only take one wife. (He lives in New York.) African muslims are notorious homophobes, advocating for execution of gays in many countries.

I asked him to imagine all of the wives getting on his case at the same time but he countered by saying that it was about pleasuring himself. And there you have the classic african, muslim attitude towards women, wrapped up in a pretty bow.

I don't think we found a lot of common ground besides both suffering through a slow show. We choose to think a certain way and then cobble together experiences that reinforce our particular worldview. Omar and I both have a long road to travel before we can communicate and live in the same world.