Saturday, October 30, 2021
|George Hughes lynching - Sherman, Texas - 1930|
Dolph Briscoe Center for American History/University of Texas at Austin
I am sure you all read the news about the school board in Texas that was instructed to present the pros and cons of the holocaust. House Bill 3979, a new Texas law, requires teachers to present multiple perspectives when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” issues. Teachers couldn't find a lot of good things to say about the nazis and complained.
The author of the Senate companion bill says that it is merely a misunderstanding.
State Sen. Bryan Hughes, an East Texas Republican who wrote Senate Bill 3, denied that the law requires teachers to provide opposing views on what he called matters of “good and evil” or to get rid of books that offer only one perspective on the Holocaust. But if you read the bill, that is exactly what he has done.
These bills are designed to whitewash any mention of slavery or bigotry or sexual discrimination or subject students to any studies that might make them feel uncomfortable or "icky" about our country's history.
|Book burning in Opera Square, Berlin, May 10, 1933. Photo: US Holocaust Memorial Museum/National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD|
A Texas state lawmaker is asking schools statewide to tell him whether they currently hold any of around 850 books on a list he has compiled, explaining that he is targeting materials that "might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex."The inquiry by state Rep. Matt Krause, a Republican, quickly set off alarm among the books' authors and the state teachers association. The unusual request, which was first reported by the Texas Tribune, also triggered confusion in school districts over how to comply with such a wide-ranging query.
He says he likes it when I get personal but we have been friends for over forty years and wanted to make sure. Just doesn't want to see any more birds. Says he is birded out.
Sorry, Vlad. Not quitting the birds. I hope that the intimate posts don't make any of you uncomfortable, that is not the intent. He happens to like the more political and topical stuff but when I write about that I get too angry and worked up and I limit it as much as possible.
I can go weeks without getting intimate and deep or going inside on the blog and sometimes feel like I am cheating myself and my readers so when I feel like spilling I will and this seems like such a week.
It is actually easier to delve into such things when you are feeling good and I do.
So here goes another.
See this oak tree. It stands at the base of my towering redwood, and is now over twenty five feet tall and probably a little wider. I planted it as a 24" box sapling in 1989 with the help of my friend Tom. Couldn't have been much more than six feet tall. From looking at it, you would think it is now a hundred years old.
This is my special tree, this oak.
It was 1990. My first wife had just left me and I was hurting. It was over between us and unbeknownst to me, at least until shortly before that moment in time, she had been unfaithful to me with several characters in and out of town, including one of my best friends. We were clearly done but like Stockholm syndrome, I had a tough time letting go. I was a wreck.
There used to be a metaphysical bookstore in Leucadia called Phoenix Phyre. I went to talk to a woman who worked there who was new agey and did counseling. I forget her name at this point.
The woman had a suggestion for me. She told me to go home and put my hands around a favorite tree, to close my eyes and to visualize tendrils on my feet sinking in to the earth and penetrating the planet to its molten core. Rooting myself like the stalwart oak. Claiming my turf and airspace.
I did what she described with something like this affirmation to my departed, soon to be ex wife, "I thank you for that which you have given me and I release you to the universe. Go your way in peace. This is my home. I belong here. Beat it."
Along with burning the rest of her shit in the fireplace and lighting sage and cedar in every corner of the house to purify the fetid stench of her memory, it seemed to do the trick and I felt better about the completion of a ten year stretch, which more closely resembled a prison term at the end.
This oak is the tree I had my hands around. More than once. It still roots me to my land. It helped me get through crisis and will always be special to me.
I marvel at its beauty and how big it has grown. And appreciate its help when times were tough.
Friday, October 29, 2021
|Chief - Franz Kline - 1950|
Non objective abstraction has been the rage for the last twelve or thirteen years or so now, the 1950's oeuvre finally being safe enough to be palatable for the normal American living room. So we art dealers are careful not to let a good blocky abstraction sneak by.
|Rorschach test blot|
Nary a show goes by when somebody or another doesn't ask what such a work I am showing is supposed to represent?
And I have a pat answer, delivered with a straight face. "Well, obviously you can see, it's my parents fighting."
In Palm Springs last month, a tall patron had the perfect repartee for me. He said he saw an unreasonable father. I cracked up.
Sounds like we have all been in analysis. Or should be.
My friend Jack loves Fallbrook history, as I do. I saw him roaming the street the other day, checking out the buildings with keen interest and asked him what was up?
Jack confided to me that he bought a collection of old photos and negatives of Fallbrook online recently. Included were two pictures of my block that as far as I know, nobody alive today has ever seen before, circa 1918. Fellows pitching horseshoes. He was trying to line things up and make sense of them.
|© Jack Janzen|
|© Jack Janzen|
Hi Robert,Here are some images for you to ponder. The two b/w photos are from a cache of images from 1918. They are two different directional shots of horseshoe players in the vacant lot North of the Mercantile. This is the lot where the Mercantile building was moved to and where your store is today. The hand-drawn map is by Babes Reader from 1980. These are her recollections of the buildings on Main. The oldest are in red. Next to “Nothing” it is written in pencil, “Horse Shoe Court”.
My father was very wealthy but it made no difference because he failed to pay child support.
My mother was perpetually broke, sometimes things got very tight and we were constantly running from creditors and back towards her failed relationships with a string of equally broken men. We children were like collateral roadkill.
It all became too much in 1970 and I moved back to California from New York, but could only make it living in the house with my father and the evil stepmother for one year and headed back east.
I was working from the age of twelve and was essentially independent from the age of thirteen on, much like my wife, and moved out of the house at seventeen.
I mention this woeful preamble once again because I believe that early trauma has seriously shaped my behavior as an adult and I think that such wounds never really heal. You never want to be subject to that much chaos and mishegas so you do your best to build fortifications.
I have written before about the author Dr. Paul Brenner, who wrote the book Seeing Your Life Through New Eyes: Insights to Freedom from Your Past. Brenner says that we build up chainmail to protect us from these types of childhood emotional injuries and many of us carry it on our backs our whole life. I know I do. And it gets heavy. Unfortunately, that which protects us in our childhood can become an impediment when we reach adulthood and it is no longer really necessary to lug around.
One of my personal bugaboos is the fear that the wolves are always nipping at my ankles, propelling me forward, no matter how comfortable I may actually be in reality (whatever that is.) Fear has always been a motivator for me and it is probably not very healthy for me. The sky is too often falling. But it is what moves me onward. And it gets hard sometimes to take a break.
Disaster is always a quick step away in my psyche, and I understand why because I saw our life and safety crumble so many times when I was a kid. You can draw a line in the sand and move forward and I certainly did, but the institutional memories tend to get burnt into your DNA. So I pretend and the irrational fear I conceptualize keeps me out of the poorhouse, or so I convince myself anyway. You never really feel totally secure.
And so I was very interested the other day when I saw this video on YouTube, Catastrophizing, How to Stop Making Yourself Depressed and Anxious. This woman puts a name to my affliction.
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Adobe has launched a powerful and fairly radical upgrade to its Lightroom program. There are some new masking tools, some that depend on AI and other new features that will take a long time for me to learn how to utilize.
Since I am a power user of the product, I had to download and dive in this morning at the risk of not completing some work that is piling up on my desk. Here is a before and after utilizing the new selection tools. As you can see, I can open up the shadows and shine a lot of light on my subject. Vaporized the car too.
The question is, how much? Darkness and shadow has its own virtue and place in the landscape. I do like how the rising sun seemingly bore a hole in the canyon ridge in this shot.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Trust no one unless you have eaten much salt with him. Marcus Cicero
The First Christian Church in Fallbrook, which is not located on church row, has what I think are the best signs in town, year in and year out. Sometimes funny, always worth considering. I snapped the picture above this morning, it sort of threw me.
Now what did that mean? I had never heard of such a thing. Be a light yes, but salt?
Being a lover of language I decided to do some research. The Not Salty N Lit was easy, salty being a current word in vogue to denote crass and snarky demeanor and lit I guess means drunk or stoned.
Let me ask Merriam Websters. Yes, it does mean intoxicated but can also mean excellent in the new street vernacular.
Back to the Old Testament:
Leviticus 2:13 : "And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt."
So salt has an early meaning of being a symbol of a covenant with G-D and was to be included in a grain offering. Ezekiel 16:4 alludes to the fact that newborn babies were rubbed with salt in a religious rite in biblical times.
I have read the bible umpteen times, the new testament at least seven and I don't recall the phrase or aphorism Be Salt and Light. So what does it really mean?
First we have to look to two verses from the book of Matthew NIV.
Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Jesus used the concepts of salt and light a number of different times to refer to the role of His followers in the world. One example is found in Matthew 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Salt had two purposes in the Middle East of the first century. Because of the lack of refrigeration, salt was used to preserve food, especially meat, which would quickly spoil in the desert environment. Believers in Christ are preservatives to the world, preserving it from the evil inherent in the society of ungodly men whose unredeemed natures are corrupted by sin (Psalm 14:3; Romans 8:8).
Second, salt was used then, as now, as a flavor enhancer. In the same way that salt enhances the flavor of the food it seasons, the followers of Christ stand out as those who “enhance” the flavor of life in this world. Christians, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ, will inevitably influence the world for good, as salt has a positive influence on the flavor of the food it seasons. Where there is strife, we are to be peacemakers; where there is sorrow, we are to be the ministers of Christ, binding up wounds, and where there is hatred, we are to exemplify the love of God in Christ, returning good for evil (Luke 6:35).
Salt Without Taste Is Worthless
34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Monday, October 25, 2021
I decided to check out my favorite bird spot on the way home and try to grab some shots before the noontime rain was supposed to start.
It hasn't been all that great up there lately but you have to keep checking in as the cool season is fast approaching and things can turn on a dime. Never know what awaits you in nature, that is what makes it both exciting and challenging.
I had the fast 400mm on the camera, there was no sense piddling around with the slow 600 in this dim light.