Saturday, December 24, 2016

In search of Princess Laia

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Princess Laia has been rushed to a hospital in Los Angeles after apparently suffering a serious heart attack while in flight there from London yesterday.
The news comes as a shock since we are all wrapped up on nostalgia these days after she reappeared in a squeal Star Wars film last year.
She touched our lives in a way many of us do not fully understand, part of a myth that came real at a time when we all desperately needed something to fill the gap we all felt in our personal lives.
The reunion only went to show how we are all aging together, and that she has become an icon of a generation that is in the process of passing on, leaving behind a marker for what was, not so much of what will be.
We live in perilous times, when all the promises for a bright future dim and become the harsh reality few of us predicted let alone prepared for, of children who have become so spoiled as to presume they deserve things without the struggle and pain that their parents (us) and our parents and their parents before them went through, and now have to learn the lesson over again the way those generations unlucky enough to get born into times such as these have had to, so that we might rebuild a vision of the future we were denied.
Star Wars came out at the end of the 1970s just when the fabric of our lives was starting to shred, and we came to realize that the high hopes we’d had coming into the 1970s did not seem to be materializing, musicians, artist, poets and such forced into manual labor so similar to that which our fathers labored we were rapidly becoming our fathers.
Then, dangling before our eyes, the way the space ships in the film dangled from hidden strings, we got introduced into a new, brighter, and mythological future, filled with heroes and villains we came to love and hate as if they were real.
Laia was the woman we all wished we could love, and did from afar, not because we knew who she really was, but only that which she was to us.
Media is full of stories about her struggle during the flight, mingling fact with fancy as she struggles against a power far more lethal than Lord Vader, in a conflict we all must face and are coming to face with her: our own mortality.
Today is my best friend’s birthday. He would have been 67 had he lived, passing away at the age of 45 in the mid-1990s when we all had already come to face the morality of our parents and their parents, and glimpsed our own on the horizon.
Carrie Fisher’s age surprised me. She in fact is younger than we are, a mere 60, when the rest of us have already passed through half our 60s and plunge towards that age when we can no longer deny that we are old.
I sincerely hope she gets better, both for her sake and our own. We still need her to help guide us through this dark universe towards some brighter future. We need to know there is still hope for us.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A poem for the inauguration of President Donald Trump

Abe Lincoln once said:
“All the armies of Europe, Asia and African combined…
With Bonaparte for commander
Cannot by force take a drink for the Ohio [River]…”
If we choose to stop them,
This is even truer now than in the pre-war years
When Lincoln said it.
“The danger,” Lincoln said, “If it every reaches us,
Must spring up among us, it cannot come from abroad.
If destruction be our lot, we most ourselves be its author…”
A forewarning of the events that would later shake our nation
In war we ball by different names
Depending on which side of the Mason Dixon Line we live:
The Civil War, The War Between the States,
The War of Northern Aggression, a war we continue to fight
Despite Gen. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House,
Because the issues that gave rise to that war
Continue unresolved, despite all the blood spilt
In places such as Gettysburg and Manassas,
We live as divided now as we ever did,
In a nation populated by people
Who do not hear each other because
We do not listen to what others says,
Our war is no longer a war between north and south,
Or even east or west, but on some ethereal landscape
We cannot see or touch, but only feel,
Though the pain is just as real and so is the bloodshed
This all coming at a time when we see ourselves
As something less than what we really are.
Donald Trump campaigned on the idea of
Making America Great Again
In truth, it has never ceased being great.
We have simply forgotten it,
Losing our vision in the petty squabbles
Unworthy of a great nation,
Passing judgment on people who disagree with us
Based on personal prejudice and ignorance
We ourselves have created,
An exchange of hostilities that might make
Fort Sumter seem tame
Yet filled with fears no more real
Than the ghosts in the closest
and monsters under the bed
We feared as children.
We make them real by own relentless assumptions,
Each degrading remark contributing
To our own downfall, from within, not without.
It is not ISIS or the Russians or even an asteroid from space
We must fear most but our lack of faith
In who we are as a nation
And what we are capable of doing as a people,
Black or white, gay or straight,
Liberal or conservative.
By faith, I do not mean religious faith,
Though it is made up of the same substance,
Out of which all faith is derived.
Mrs. Obama talked about hope and its loss.
Hope is not the answer.
Faith must be.
Father that we as a united people can accomplish anything,
Overcome any barrier, whether it be terroristic theater from without
Or more potent and ultimately deadly threat
Of a divided nation within.
We need to rebuilt the faith that Lincoln help recreate,
A faith that we can learn again with far less bloodshed,
To listen to each other, feel each other’s pain,
Elevate each other so we can see the best of those we opposed
Rather than the worst,
We must have faith that can overcome all those things we fear most,
And then, indeed, like a dreamer waking from some terrible nightmare
We can remember just how great we really are.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Blue Collar or black

Sept 29, 1979

I get the idea of college from an incurable Dead Head with an incurable growth of cancer on his chest, a need to escape this place full of dust and sweet perfume, the slave trade warehouse work life in which people like us are trapped, our lives tied down to a time clock and a weekly pay check we can’t make stretch to cover rent, meals and the few beers at the local pub on Friday nights, we all resenting the welfare checks we see other people collect when we cannot not, this struggle to make sense of a world that feeds some and lets others starve, with someone like this Dead Head figuring out that if he can get his ass through college he might get out of this rat trap and maybe find a better rat trap where he won’t have to envy the welfare crowd, and won’t feel like a racist when he sees them doing better than we are, working half as hard, and so I start thinking maybe I might go to college, too.
But I soon find out that kids on campus don’t like white people like me, even though they’re white people, too. We remind them too much of their parents who grew up and fled places like Paterson for places with fancy names like Wayne, so they aren’t reminded of where they come from, father who labored most of their lives for companies like Continental Can, rubbing shoulders with black men wearing the same blue collars they do.
The college kids don’t hate blacks; it’s hip to be block, and they act more black than the black kids on campus do, shamed by parents who don’t like blacks, calling people like me racist because we came to college ten years after they did, too late to get steered down the twisted path some professors want to mold us to.
I’m not racists. Though my family is, living on the border of the ghetto in a house my grandfather broke his back to buy, filling every window with a WWII era carbine for that time when they believe the riots will spill over into our neighborhood out of the black side of town.
But I’m not ashamed of my family the way these kids are of theirs, because I have worked the way my uncles worked, and understand just how scared they are of losing everything they worked so hard to get, when they mistakenly believe black people get too much handed to them and still want more.
I know it’s not like that; but you can’t argue anybody out of being scared.
Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the college kids, who really have had the good life handed to them, lives built on the backs of their hardworking fathers they are so ashamed of, never having lived except in some safe place where they don’t actually get to meet any black people until they come to schools like this, or understand just how hard life can be, blue collar or black, with blue collar and black fighting over the crumbs some rich man leaves, calling it a pay check or a welfare check that neither blue collar or black can feed his family with.
Even the black kids on campus don’t get it, somehow magically elevated out of a ghetto only their father’s truly understand, desperate to cling to the noble traditions of their race, but rapidly becoming whiter than the white kids are, because in a white world like this, it may be the only way to survive.