Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Sort-Of Poem Just Popped Out of Space and Time

In the early predawn of 31 May I awakened as I often do at that time of day.

“It must be about 0430” I thought to myself.

I didn’t need to look at the clock.

My near neighbor in the trees just across the Seine had begun to sing his morning song.

Merles Noirs do that.

Just like robins in North America.

As I listened to the melody loop and repeat and change and unfold  an almost audible thought crossed my mind.

“Soon June”.

For some reason I kept thinking that phrase.

After all, pre-dawn 31 May is almost June.  So the phrase was certainly true.  But I couldn’t shake the feeling of deeper meaning.

As has happened on a few other occasions, usually in Paris, the yellow writing pad seemed to be the only way to banish the thought and get back to sleep.

This sort-of poem quickly wrote itself.

Soon June

“Soon June”

I thought I heard someone say.

“Soon June”

There, I heard it yet again.

“Soon June”

I wonder what it might mean?

“Soon June”

Means it that June is almost here?

Surely it can’t be that simple.

Means it that the end is near?

Surely it can’t be that grim.


If it were the end,

The end of what?

How easy!

If it were the end

It would be the click of the clock;

The set of the chestnuts;

The reddening of the berries;

The chirp of the robins;

The chirp of the merles.

There, I heard it.

The clock just clicked..

“Soon June”

paris 2014 052614 merle noirt 00001

Friday, May 30, 2014

There is a Pattern Here

And it really bothers me.

I have voted for President Obama twice.

And I cannot imagine a republican candidate who– if offered by that religious cult masquerading as the Party of Lincoln – for whom I would vote if Obama were again the alternative.

But I have questions that increasingly haunt me about our President.

One of them is:

“How has the totally obvious Bush dodge on the real costs of his middle east wars been ignored by the Obama administration? Not only did W do a war off the books, he also did not acknowledge the follow on costs – which are probably four or five times the costs of the actual war – to be considered.

And the Senate “Rs” and “Ds” alike just said “my, my” and voted to invade Iraq.

How nice for them.

That gave both sides the chance to tell their cretin voters that they were red blooded ‘Mericans.

They were going to defend the Constitution by waging war in Iraq.

That’s what many of the veterans of that war have told me.

And, while that – to me - is the ultimate indictment of those veterans participation in a really stupid expedition, to say nothing of the US education system (defending the US Constitution in Iraq – come on) it at least gave a premise for the troops to have gone. 

It was sort of like when I was in Vietnam: we were there to defend  - something.

And  was another really, really stupid expedition:

But the question still remains: “why didn’t our President arrive on the scene in 2009 with a fiery sword and  why didn’t he smite the various unclean spirits who were cooking the books and fixing spreadsheets in the endeavor to prove that our veterans were getting the service - implicit and overt - resulting from their service in Afghanistan and Iraq, when in fact they were being denied anything resembling service?”

Maybe he is a closet W supporter. That would be weird, but it would be a facile answer given the screaming fact that it is undeniable that three or four trillion dollars are lurking in the not distant future if the nation were to honor its post Afghanistan and post Iraq war obligations to the citizens who fought those wars, again and again and – in too many cases again.  That would explain why a problem that has surfaced briefly several times during the Obama administration has only recently boiled.

Now it is 2014.

We have just found ourselves – us jokes, we citizens – hearing again that the VA is probably killing people.

The question shrieks, why has this become an issue again, and why has it just seemed to have been there all along. and why are we still hearing, again, that “they” are going to get to the bottom of it?

Why didn’t “they” get to the bottom of it in 2009?

And where has the President been all this time?

Looks to me as if the off-the-books war of W has had the tacit approval of the follow on administration.

Which might be some sort of bi-partisanship, but to what end?

Unless there is a bi-partisan conspiracy in support of stiffing our veterans.

And, given the Bush/Chaney genesis of that possibility and their “we don’t need to pay for this war or residual several decades of expenses” mentality of their great war to banish the world from Saddam’s nuclear weapons, it is really curious that Obama has never stirred that pot.

The problem has become that, finally, people are dying and it isn’t possible to pretend anymore that we don’t have to pay for it.

My question is, “why didn’t our president, who is smart, who is compassionate, who sees things clearly, fix this thing on the moment of taking office?”

The only answer I can conjure really bothers me.

Several other questions follow.

But some other time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Not Dead? No Problem!

There is no research behind this proposition.

I don’t even know which of all the States (members of the United States of America) might be the intended users of my proposition.

I think a few of them are Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri.

There are probably, but may not be, many others.

Whatever the number, or whatever their names and locations in the USA, they all share the same vexing problem: they all like to execute some of their citizens who have been convicted of certain capital crimes.

It is an odd fact that there aren’t many civilized lieus where that sort of outcome still occurs.

But the US is one of the few.

Given the perceived need to indulge in human housekeeping, the places in the United States that still have capital punishment all do it with great god fearing  humanity.

They all use drugs injected into the about-to-be-dispatched offenders.

Apparently that isn’t as easy as one might think, or one might hope – if one thought that the whole thing was a good idea in the first place.

In a nation in which a cat or dog can be “put to sleep” with dispatch, celerity and swift certainty it is not so easy to dispatch a human miscreant.

I’m not just asserting that.

As Bert, my 22 year old cat, lay on my lap last October, just prior to his life terminating injections, I asked the veterinarian why the human execution chambers didn’t seem to work as well as what Bert and I were about to go through.

He gave me a mealy-mouthed, no meaning, answer.

“My, my” I thought.

Moments later Bert slipped into non-existence without a whimper.

The only whimpers were mine.

So – going back to the main stem of this musing – why is it so hard to replicate that outcome in humans?

I just don’t know.

And I really don’t care.

But it is hard for me to ignore the fact that recent American applications of justice via lethal injection have not gone well in the states that have applied them.

I think I have heard that there has been a lot of thrashing around and twitching and unattractive stuff like that.

When I thought I had heard that I made the mental note that I was really glad that Bert had had an apparently much more competent application of life terminating lethal injection.

I loved that cat.

I wouldn’t have wanted him to have had a moment of life-transition fear or pain.

And he didn’t as best as I was able to divine from his exit demeanor; and I was glad.

But for humans recently things have not gone so swimmingly.

So I have a suggestion.

And it is simple and it might even add American jobs.

A baseball bat, as a mandatory piece of equipment for all lethal drug injections in America, would solve the problem.

The minute an about-to-be-dispatched prisoner begins to twitch and moan someone can take the bat and beat him the rest of the way to death.

The only question remaining is who should be the bat swinger.

Since in most cases, the states with aggressive capital punishment regimens have republican, loudly pro-death-to-the-criminals governors, I suggest that each execution be attended by the governor of the state where said execution is taking place.

Think of the political advantage:

The governor can emerge from one of these events spattered with brains and blood and shout with Nixon-like uplifted arms to his or her faithful: “One less threat to our christian faith and beliefs; another unclean spirit has been dispatched”.

That will make re-election hard to deny.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Moveable Concept

My screen saver just displayed a black and white image of Storm Large.

It was some sort of promotional thing I had seen somewhere and in some manner had digitized.

Post digitization it had in some manner crept into my cache des images.

The thing said she was excelling at being the fill in for China Forbes of Pink Martini.

I couldn’t remember having saved that image, but I knew why I had saved it.

Storm Large is probably one of not many entertainers who loom (dare I say?) large on a pretty grim entertainment scene.

If you have ever seen her perform her one woman show you know what I mean.

If you haven’t that is too bad.

Anyway, that is all just prologue to what I have on my mind right now, looking out on la Seine as the sun is beginning to set over Paris.

What that little prequel is supposed to set up for me to say is that, in spite of the fact that I continue to be pissed off about never having been able to get any East Coast publishing interest in - what is now – four books, I have absolutely no right to be pissed off.

Storm has a right to be pissed off.

Maybe she is.

I have no way to know, but if she isn’t she should be.

She is so talented that – if you care about that sort of thing – it is scary.

And yet, as far as I know, she languishes in a halfway-there nook of the entertainment industry that allows her to make a – perhaps fairly good – living, but which denies her stardom.

And if you have ever seen her do any of the various things she does you will be hard pressed to see how stardom can have eluded her.

But it has.


Being published in my personal ethos is the same as stardom probably would be for Storm.

And that linkage does a lot for me.

Because at best I am a literary hack.

But many of that species make good livings writing.

I just haven’t been able to crack the code – if there be one – as to how to do that.

But it all seems fair to me to be denied (my sniveling word for no success) any chance at being published when I consider that a really monumental talent – Storm - stays just out of the prime limelight.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Parrots of Paris

In January 2013 I made this post:

I am now back in Paris and I have been trying to see where the parrots are, if they are at this time of year, and if I can get some pictures of them.

It hasn’t been easy.

Green leaves make green parrots hard to see, their amazingly species-specific shrieks and the amazing volume of those shrieks notwithstanding.

I have gone to Parc Montsouris – where I know that there is a large winter-time population – and Jardin de Luxembourg, Jardin des Plantes and Parc Monceau; I have heard them, but I have not seen them.

All but Montsouris parrots are new news to me on this sojourn, by the way.

Anyway, today things changed.

I was in le Jardin des Plantes.

And I heard a parrot in one of the gigantic sweet gum trees that loom the Jardin. .

I heard it and was staring up into that really tall tree where the sound, but I couldn’t see it.

Too much green was around the sound – leaves and all that.

There was a French family who had also heard it, and, unlike several hundred other people within earshot, they knew what it was and wanted to see it.

The woman spotted it.

She talked me, limb by limb and leaf by leaf to where it was.

I got  bunch of pictures and this video.

I think if you click on the video as it plays it will become full screen video.

The resolution is good enough to support that view.

Here is the link to the video:

And here are a few pictures:

paris 2014 jardin des plantes parrot 051814 00007paris 2014 jardin des plantes parrot 051814 00008paris 2014 jardin des plantes parrot 051814 00009

Friday, May 16, 2014

god Fearin’ ‘Mericans: the Rest of the Story

Through the magic of internet streaming I can choose to occasionally blend the sounds that fly though my open casement from the Seine below with some hometown radio.

It is an interesting mix.

I typically listen to streaming as I prepare dinner.

That streamed hometown radio station is KUOW Seattle – Public Radio.

I just heard a great quote on The "Tavis Smiley Show”: "Rich kids get taught; poor kids get tested". 

So, as long as I have begun to mount my editorial high horse I have another observation driven by something I also heard on NPR.

On "The Takeaway" yesterday I heard an interview with a woman (last name Chomsky - no mention of a famous relative) who put substance to a thing that makes me begin to scream and rant every time I hear a god fearing republican begin to chant his or her mantra about immigration.

What I think, in opposition to the gfr mantra, follows.

Our "Immigration Law" is an unconscionably designed artifice whose mission is to convert an otherwise vital, enthusiastic and upwardly mobile population of brown skinned people, mostly from Mexico - guts brought them here and guts have sustained them since they have been here (just like the colonists of the 1600s) - into felons.

It is an arbitrary and capricious law that says that someone who exercises the human right of going somewhere where he or she can possibly improve his or her condition, and the condition of his or her children, is guilty of a crime similar to burglary and murder.

There seems to be a lack of balance with this law and with its implicit viewpoint, I have always thought.

I have also always thought that the law has a real and vicious purpose having nothing to do with “immigration” or “security”.

Here is what I can’t stop thinking about that law.

That law gives the white power structure the ability to decry as “criminals” a vibrant and aggressive population that they - the power structure - deem to be a threat to their privileged selves and their privileged, but otherwise lacking much in the way of special merit, children and grandchildren.

That law gives various nuts, Klansmen, political opportunists, hatemongers and demagogues - Ted Cruz, a famous Canadian immigrant to America, comes to mind - the fodder for their various self serving "god fearin' 'Merican" (read white) speeches.

I cannot remember a time in my life in which I did not think that our strength comes from our diversity and the admixture of human strains that that diversity will inevitably foster.

How could/can I have been so far off the mark?

I’m sure ol’ Ted has a lot of slime to throw on a question such as that.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Google: The Pain of Trying to Live With It

A long time ago I signed up for YouTube.

And I occasionally posted a movie.  Most of them were tutorials on how to make various cocktails.  The Gibson Martini was a favorite.

Somewhere after I had set up my YouTube account and after my initial burst of video creativity, Google bought You Tube.

I continued to post videos with gusto, assuming that Google would have too much sense to mess with a good thing.

That turned out to be wildly optimistic, at least as how Google’s “messing” would affect me.

I can’t remember all of the iterations of what began to happen then.  But they all had a common theme embedded in weasel words like “to improve the user experience”.

I figured that was probably not a good thing.

It wasn’t.

What happened was that my movie inventory functionally disappeared due to multiple password-centric attempts to accommodate whatever it was that Google was trying to accomplish.

If they had sent me an email in English saying that now that they owned YouTube they felt it would be a good idea to consolidate its functions – and any existing pre-Google movie inventory under a new Google/YouTube password I would have understood and complied, and probably, have kept my old inventory and begun to merge it with new items in the new Google world.

But that isn’t what they did.

What they did was start issuing technical edicts about passwords that, at least in my case, created a morass of dueling passwords.

There was no way to get to the old inventory.

In those days Google had marginal and hard to find technical support available if you accidentally stumbled upon it.

The word “technical” should be emphasized in any discussion of that fleetingly available function.

The upshot of my use of the function was that what I was describing as a problem could not possibly be true and that if only I had faith and recited the Google prayer all would be good.

So I have been spooked by Google Passwords from the outset of my relationship with them.

I have hoped that they indeed had one password for all their functions – functions that began to cascade as they acquired other companies, but I have always harbored a fear of somehow getting crossways to them and not being able to get to my post purchase YouTube inventory or – worse still – being able to post to BlogSpot or sign on to BlogSpot.

Then the plot thickened a bit.

Because I dream of a gigabit post-Comcast world, and since I assume that all those user IDs and “your email” components of they myriad on line accounts that I have, and that I depend upon being able to communicate with and access, I decided that I needed a non ISP email address.

You guessed it.

In spite of anything resembling common sense, I picked Gmail.

Actually, I have two Gmail addresses.

I would have to be nuts to try to explain why I have two and you would have to be criminally distorted to want to know why I have two.

But I do.

And they may or may not duel.

I can’t really tell.  But the fact that there are two has a spiritual link to the reason that I lost access to a valuable YouTube inventory.

I set up both of those addresses for access through Windows Live Mail.

Along with the already Comcast address I have for some time receiving mail – mainly on Comcast – but sporadically on the Gmails. 

It was a sort of dress rehearsal for a post Comcast world.

Then one day out of curiosity I clicked on a link in the Google tool bar. 

It went to a Google sign on page with my Gmail address – my Google ID (the one of the two Gmails that Google recognizes) – displayed and an empty cell for me to enter my password.

Since the great consolidation I get nervous every time I need to enter a Google password.  I constantly expect to be told that my password lacks panache or has been deemed unreliable, or is at odds with the current mix of application oriented opportunities to which I might want to avail myself.

Also, on this day, to the best of my ability to understand I was and had been for weeks already signed on to Blogger and to Google proper (whatever that might mean).

I entered the password and was immediately signed on.

From that point everything goes dark.

The light returned the day I got into my apartment in Paris and signed on to email.

Comcast came in as needed.  But Live Mail was having trouble with the Gmails.  The user ID or passwords were not such that Live Mail could get to the Google servers.

I can’t tell you how much time I have missed to enjoy my time here in Paris that trying to figure out what the problem was (iTunes is a potential casualty if Gmail doesn’t work, and my iPhone needs to be synched, and apps need to be bought and music needs to be downloaded, so this was serious shit).

It got really serous yesterday when I tried to post – that has always worked – to BlogSpot from Windows Live Writer.

“Your password or user ID relationship with this server is fucked up”

Now my life was really beginning to decline in digital quality.

The myriad (Google) searches involved in the quest of the problem and its fix seemed to indicate that the most obvious source of the problem was Google’s two step verification .

“That’s easy to check out” I said to myself.

No it isn’t.  At least for someone as stupid as I apparently am.

Although I can sign on to Google from an apparently infinite number of links, all with the same password and no matter how many current instances of already being signed on to Google may exist I cannot find in my account data any way to get at any security settings.

That was true until this morning.  I got up and turned on the ThinkPad and entered.”How do I turn off two step verification?”

“We thought you’d never ask” rejoined the gods of Google.

And they presented me with a link that, when invoked took me to a sign on which took me to a “turn off two step verification” function which, when turned off allowed me to post the predecessor post to this one.

Assuming that to be a one off event I immediately composed a new post.

“Test” was its title.

“Test” was its content.

But that just seemed too small a thing to celebrate the possibility that I have yet again figured something out and dealt with it.

I am not going to proof this thing so it’s raw from the cow.

If you see this it may – or may not – mean that I can now post blogs and maybe even, if I set up the two Gmails that I deleted from my Live Mail account, receive Gmail.

On va voir.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Paris 2014: Today I "circumnavigated" La Seine ...

... or a big part of the loop here in Paris.

I went from my home down to Pont bir Hakeem and back. 

A lot of image capturing opportunities leap out on that sort of promenade.

There should be some images from le Jardin des Tuilleries but I spent a lot of time under a fully leaved-out chestnut tree while it rained like the cow that once pissed on a flat rock and went on to immortality.

That petit sojourn precluded picture taking.

While under the tree I was approached by a group of five or six young women of some sort of European – but not French – heritage who were all in a class to learn French.

They had been given the assignment to interview somebody on the street or somewhere public in French.

“Je ne suis pas l’un” I said; they giggled and retreated.

Maybe I should have tried it.

After all sixty words is sort of a vocabulary.

But I lacked the courage.

I plan to return to Tuilleries if it ever stops raining and take some pictures there, because the flowers are currently spectacular.

I chose the route through the Tuilleries because I have not seen a Pigeon Dropper this whole trip.

One fairly rich source of Pigeon Drop encounters has always been Tuilleries.

I have been hoping that the clan hasn't all moved off to London or Prague or somewhere because they are really fun to ignore.

(I have blog posts about that phenomenon from previous years.)

(Actually some of those posts became part of my one novel.)

Just as I entered la Esplanade de ben Gurion I saw a familiar figure preparing her stchich. She didn’t recognize me.  I moved to the sea wall and fiddled with my camera.  She went through the prerequisite bending of down to pick up the ring.

I didn’t look at her – and was surprised that she didn’t recognize me from countless previous encounters (these people run in hoards and are wizards of human frailty, so remembering that I am on to the game would have seemed to me to have been a basic job requirement).

Not looking at her – looking still at my camera – I said, “Bonjour Madame; pas ring”.

She looked at me and appeared genuinely mystified.  She omitted the obligatory story of famine and difficulty and small children on the brink (she was wearing the generally accepted UOD of the pigeon drop clan - Armani jeans).

Finally she shrugged and went and joined a group of five or so mixed gender fellows.

One of them turned out to be Gargantua from the just mentioned novel, A Curious Confluence.

I have always wondered if I would ever see him again – except in fantasy – and I moved on.

Anyway here are a few pictures that I shot on the circumnavigation.

I wish bandwidth would let me send a lot of others.

Culling one’s children is a bitch.

One of these pictures is the walkway/bike path under Pont bir Hakeem.  The opening scene of Last Tango in Paris was shot there.

One other has, when I have taken it previously, which has been often, always been labeled the “George Bush Paris Memorial”.

I don’t do that anymore.