Monday, May 23, 2011

"Song for Dennis Brown" (live) by the Mountain Goats

This is a companion post to my thoughts on The Sunset Tree I posted elsewhere. I felt I had to give this amazing performance it's full due rather than simply embedding among a number of other links.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Daniel Silliman has posted a powerful "immigration story" stemming from his days in journalism.
My story functioned just to affirm the police action, and didn't come close to telling the truth or exposing the mechanisms of power at work.

There's more than one story I wrote as a journalist where I feel like I wasn't able to get anywhere close to anything like the truth, and more than one where, frustratingly, I acted as a cog in a machine that made helpless people more helpless. This is one of those, and one that bothers me.


It's basically impossible to get the public to think about whether or not they really want to be a people or a society that treats people this way -- whether, for instance, they want to be a society that benefits from the labor of undocumented workers while punishing those workers if and only if they encounter some problem or need some help, making it so there's an invisible underclass accepted and rewarded so long as they stay out of sight and trouble, don't need anything like medical help or police protection, but then they're punished to an extreme degree if they can't remain invisible, a system which the middle class and the corporations greatly benefit from without having to take any responsibility for. It seems impossible to call attention to, at least to me.
Please read the rest of it.

Then, if you haven't already, you should check out "The Borders Within," a year-long, award-winning series by Chase Purdy and Tony Gonzalez.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The person who owned the book before irritates me. He–I've decided, based on hand-writing and prejudice, that it's a guy–underlines only dry, factual plot points and descriptions.

"though he's twenty-six and six three."
"Yet in his time Rabbit was famous through the county..."
" the town of Mt. Judge, suburb of the city of Brewer, fifth largest city in Pennsylvania."
" his own line of work, which is demonstrating a kitchen gadget in several five-and-dime stores around Brewer."

Meanwhile, beauty, humor, and poignance pass by unremarked, unnoticed.

The opening paragraph of rabbit, run felt like the first warm afternoon in March, in Michigan.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Truth Claims

Two things I read and heard, respectively:

-"This is fact."
Singular, no article. Some of us are so bold as to talk about "a fact" or "facts." Some even claim to have "the facts." The great ones declare what is and what most certainly is not... fact.

-"You're gonna be on The Wrong Side Of History!"
The gentleman who shouted this was protesting the powers that be. He didn't, you know, shout the capital letters out, but he did repeat those five words, as though reciting a liturgy or mantra.

He's probably implying a progressive view of history, whereby the superior moral standing of later generations exposes the errors of the past. Unfortunately for him History went ahead and Progressed his particular group into the current exploited/oppressed state he's decrying. One would think (I think) he'd have to doubt either one thing (his faction's rightness or favored status in History) or the other (History as Progress).

It's possible, though, that he's no idealist at all. Perhaps he fancies himself a hardened realist. He's merely stating that victors get first dibs at writing history textbooks, and he intends to win. He intends, in other words, to sit in the chair, become the power that be is? and say what's what.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"For Real" by Okkervil River

Live somewhere. These fellas, along with spectacular openers Titus Andronicus, will be at the Rialto in about seven weeks. Prepare yourselves.
I keep my blog–if perhaps not always my daily life–relatively clear of whining and self-pity (at least since leaving the farm). But you'll have to forgive me a little narcissism tonight.

This has been the worst three days of work at Starbucks to date. Every shift has been hell. I previewed Saturday's monster day earlier: 17 hours at work. It was even worse than I expected. The manager at the store I opened for simply skipped my last break entirely. My closing shift that night was terrible. We got out fifteen minutes late. We got out twenty minutes late on each of these past two nights, for various reasons. I hadn't gotten out late from a close in months, and then three nights in a row I get out late.

By the way, the misery of getting out late isn't the amount of time you lose. An extra fifteen minutes of work is not a big deal. But getting out late means that you've spent the entire night working in all-hands-on-deck mode and still couldn't close up shop in time.

On top of all that the past few weeks have been the worst allergy season I've had in at least a decade.

I am ready for this semester to end.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I've seen this pop up around the internet tonight:

"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles." Proverbs 24:17

I remember feeling a little grossed out by the glee after Saddam Hussein's execution (especially given how it seemed so much like a lynching).

For whatever reason--and I don't know that this is a good thing--I feel no such reservations at the moment. I'm glad Bin Laden's dead, and I'm glad we killed him. Good riddance.

Though as Russell Arben Fox writes, "If only I could believe that a well-executed firefight could rid us of all the civic and international damage he has left in his wake."