Back to Gloucester

Nice paddle in Gloucester Harbor on Saturday. Boston hove into view distant but clear to the south, Thacher Island (we think) to the north, with its twin lighthouses. Looked like something from Tolkien. It was the former first site of the federal witness protection program by way of Joe Barboza Baron (more on that in my next book.)

The traffic was light, although we kept getting downwind of a lobster boat that was chumming the beds–folks, that is one ill wind. Gloucester is an odd city. Architecturally, it’s kind of a mess–the best buildings are mostly vinyl sided or have additions that don’t fit well. No classy Newburyport…It has a ramshackle feel.

Naturally no trip was complete without a visit to the temple of working class glamour, the Crow’s Nest…Still humble and hard working, with a fleece on display for sale that is covered in dust…

One more Memorial Day…

I saw Memorial Day from one end of the state to the other today. I saw the parade incubating in Lee at 8 a.m.; a parade just over in West Springfield; and the festivities in my chunk of the state after the event. Costumes ranged from desert khakis to Knights of Columbus finery to country girls wearing their best dress. Memorial Day–we have to hold it because our brain cells are so frail.

Does anyone know offhand to what war the monument at the top of Mt. Greylock is devoted? (Hint–think blue uniforms.)The most moving, i think of all stationary tributes is the one on Beacon Hill to Robert Gould Shaw and his African warriors–but they fell to prove something much bigger than who had the right to what tariff.

Pity the warrior–his blood and sacrifice is rarely honored in any meaningful way. Politicians only pay tribute when they want to APPEAR to care. Usually the soldier for him is just a tool to uphold his (usually bungled) policy. If you doubt me, got to any homeless shelter where you’ll see the vets are over–represented. For those that respects the armed forces, all the more reason to be thrifty with their lives and not waste them in error.

Where’s Our Piece of the Facebook IPO?

They talk about Facebook’s IPO being worth $100 billion, or trillion, or whatever. That is a scam–because all that money is going to some investors and employees. We, the people that are backbone of Facebook will get nothing. Facebook is a bunch of mediocre search engine, web publishing, and messaging technology. We should be getting dividends for populating it with data. It isn’t the genius of Zuckerberg that made facebook–it was US taking the time to let our data be exploited. We got our friends and family aboard–FB never did that. If we left, FB would be NOTHING. The case of MySpace illustrates that point….

Motherness Day

I might as well offer my own meditation on motherhood….I had a very strong mother–and naturally that is a doubled edged razor. We fought, we loved, we hated at different times. We reconciled before her going home day (according to her faith) and that is the memory of her that I consider to be the “last word” on the matter. The crippled airless body that she became later, more machine than human, was not my mother. (Kids–don’t smoke. It’s not a glamorous way to go…My mother would have wanted me to tell you that!)

She seems like a dream, and it’s in dreams where I see her nowadays. What remains? Many personality traits, along with my freckles and red flecks of  hair (now graying fast). Certainly she taught me the sense of fairness, decency and loyalty to family and friends. She would not even hurt her enemies. But I also have had other mothers–good, kind women who taught me things as I grew up and who gave me love and support. I know who they are–some are still here, some not. They did me many kindnesses and never asked for any type of compensation.

Certainly, we’d have no civilization without the quiet work of women/mothers–their sympathy, patience, wisdom, gentle chiding, the faith they have in all of us even when we offer only bad promises. Well, as I’m slipping into preachy talk, I’ll snap it off now….I think anyone who reflects will see it should be “Motherness” day.

Beating Our Swords into Swings

What a weekend. Saturday in Woods Hole and then the Vineyard; today East Providence on the bike path. So many lovely spots. There is nothing like that blinding Cape Cod light–I can understand sun worship when I’m there on a bright clear day. Bit of trivia–the halo in Christian iconology is a holdout from Egyptian sun-adoration.

The little guy loves the bike path especially, they have a wonderful playground and he can’t get enough of the swing. When I think of the money wasted in bombs and drones and things that destroy–money that could rebuild or own fracturing and ailing infrastructure, economy, and cities–I could weep.

A Vice Rarely Indulged

Worshiped at the shrine of Wal-Mart today…Now I must do some penance for exalting so false a god….I think no matter what happens, nuclear holocaust or revolution or plague or whatever, one will be able to find sanctuary at Wal-Mart….It will endure and prevail. When I want to feel as if I’m at the center of history and American culture–it’s Wally’s World all the way.

Dante Sent to Hell

I watched with little amusement and much distress the animated version of Dante’s “Inferno.” I suppose anytime when one makes a cartoon about a semi-sacred subject one is going to encounter some problems. Can one imagine Augustine’s “Confessions” or Aquinas “Summa Theologica” as cartoons? (There was a scene in a Daffy Duck cartoon where he sends the Big Bad Wolf into the open book of the “Inferno” where he is consumed with flames. )

Anyway what truly distresses me is that the whole meaning of the poem is missing. The crucial relationship with Beatrice is ruined–she is Dante’s paramour here and he goes to hell to save her. In short, he’s not the Dante of the poem, but Orpheus. He is also a crusader who wields a sword and kills monsters in hell….This sort of revision is on the par of “The Passion of the Christ.” Perhaps I am not surprised by this–this violent piece was not drawn from the poem, but rather from a Japanese video game….

A Thought on Diet

When people ask me why I don’t eat meat, I really think the question is inverted. I think it requires a huge leap of faith (pace Kierkegaard) to devour a corpse and feel it is somehow attractive or beneficial. In short, I’m inclined to ask: “Why WOULD I want to eat meat?” It only tastes tolerable to most people if it’s cooked or spiced. So it’s not naturally attractive….and Big Agribusiness has made it most unpalatable….For instance, just think on pink slime for a moment….

On the Big Spaces Out there

Been watching and ready heavily about the “Big Bang” which is, in fact, an impossibility if one considers it literally. There is no noise in space. Big flash, maybe. It seems to me, however, for someone to say there was a Universe Inception is as believable that Chronos ate his children until Zeus.

That aside, this expanding universe doesn’t offer me the consolation of a hell…(I doubt I’d qualify for the other place). Hell is preferable to nothing–that there is no force caring enough either punish to me or reward me. That thinking indicates the possibility of mercy. But nothing cannot be made anthropomorphic.

But then again, I share my lack of overarching purpose with great oceans, planets, suns, mountains. This inorganic matter doesn’t think or feel or worry that some primal non-living purpose created it.Ah, these are the limits to the mammal. Genetics makes us throw ourselves at the void and hope we come out the other side intact.

The Repose of the Great Ones

Visited the graves of Thoreau and Emerson today. Idyllic spot overlooking the woods of Concord. I thought, in a hack way, this is where great writers and thinkers always are, above and looking down in serenity at mortals. Thoreau loved peace and quiet–didn’t even like the sound of the iron horse chugging through Concord to Fitchburg. In the midst of my reverie, five military jets flew out of Hanscom to Fenway Park (so I was told was the destination), all but blowing out my eardrums.

I mean, you couldn’t get away from the roar–all so that those that enjoy watching engines of war overhead could feel inspired that someone else was on the business end of an American bomb or something…. I decided that at least the scene was no longer schmaltzy. Thoreau also hated war, too….but he’s not in a position to protest. But his words are.