Who?

Who,

  • publicly mocked a physically handicapped man?
  • promised Mexico would pay for “The Wall,” then shut down the government when Congress wouldn’t and now funds it with taxpayer dollars appropriated for our military?
  • said “I love the old days when campaign (protesters) would be carried out on a stretcher folks.” “I’ve actually instructed my people to look into” paying legal fees for supporters who punch out protesters!?
  • boasted of grabbing women by the “pussy”?
  • paid a pornographic movie star $135,000?
  • had children separated from parents in families seeking asylum,?
  • called Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists chanting “Jews will not replace us!”, driving a car into a crowd killing a young woman, “good people”?
  • with gun deaths Daily News and mass shootings in America commonplace, with Australia’s and Britain’s restriction on gun ownership resulting in drops in gun related crime, with Canada’s parliament considering a “full ban” on handguns and assault weapons, welcomed Wayne LaPierre to the White House?
  • with his own intelligence agencies in unanimous agreement that Russia meddled, and continues to meddle in, our elections, believes Vladimir Putin that they did not?
  • establishing a model for discrimination, even violence, against Muslim, and by extension all non-Caucasians and non-Christians, bans citizens of Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, North Korea, Yemen and Somalia—his “Muslim Ban”—from entering the United States?
  • boasts and blusters liked a Sixth Grade Bully?
  • ignores, indeed flaunts, centuries-old protocols of civil decorum and discourse?
  • appears ignorant of, again indeed flaunts, standards for ethics, morals and honesty?
  • disputing irrefutable evidence and scientific proof of Global Warming, puts corporate profit over the future of the planet?
  • stunned a National Prayer Breakfast by responded to Arthur C. Brooks’s call to love your enemies with, “Arthur I don’t know if I agree with you.”
  • as the Washington Post reports, “In 2017 . . . made 1,999 false or misleading claims. In 2018 . . . added another 5,689, for a total of 7,688. Now, with a few weeks still left in 2019 . . . has more than doubled the total number of false and misleading claims in just a single year. . . .  (After) 1055 days in office . . . made 15,413 false or misleading claims”?
  • was never loved?
  • and on
  • and on
  • and on

Will it never end?

Live Theater Revisited

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.  It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
–Macbeth, Act V, scene v
–William Shakespeare

Morose sentiment notwithstanding, the corpus of he who penned poor Macbeth’s prose is testament to a profound belief in Life’s significance!

As always, the Bard’s metaphor is spot on.  Life is theater.

To expose and explore the human experience, theater employs props, busy-ness and dialog.  Live Theater’s props, our “Stuff,” go far in defining its performers.  When I was a kid, props were few and simple.  Today, costumes in an average American’s closets, shelves and drawers would clothe a neighborhood.  Overflowing great-rooms, kitchens, bed- and  bathrooms, props fill garages, basements and attics.  Rented storage spaces are stacked with chairs, sofas, tables, beds, boxes, PCs, TVs, and microwaves with like-new exercise bikes, dirt bikes and road bikes parked against the walls.  Auctioning contents of abandoned storage units is cottage industry.  Wal-Mart, Costco and Amazon are Live Theater’s Prop Masters.  Since few can’t afford a ticket, for upwards of twelve percent interest and penalties, Visa, Master Card and American Express sell stage money

Then the busy-ness!  Blaise Pascal postulated, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” But who would pay, much less sit, to watch a silent performer stage-center for ninety minutes, even with an intermission?

After a five-thirty a.m. alarm and a stop at Starbucks, we crowd Interstates and streets in fender-to-fender combat with Jaguars, Kia, F-350s, eighteen-wheelers, pickups with dented fenders and Harleys.  Ten hours later, following a commuter combat act encore, we retreat to happy hour at “Larry’s Lair” or home to crash in front of the thirty-five inch, flat-screen Motorola.

In Live Theater much of what passes as dialog is serial monologs.  While a twenty-four hour tally of the words spoken on planet Earth may not rival the number of atoms in a kumquat, most of us don’t really listen.  iPhones, iPads, lap-tops and social networking propel dialog into forms few imagined even three decades back.  Echo, Alexa and the www render notions of privacy anachronistic.

So what makes Live Theater significant?  What did Shakespeare and poor Macbeth know?  What drives the sound and fury?  What powers the strutting and fretting?  Hiding among the props, the busy-ness, the dialog, what makes Life not “a tale told by and idiot”?

Relationship!  People!  Life Theater takes significance in the comedy and tragedy,  the confusion and conflict, the pain and joy, the love and, yes, the hate, the everyday vitality of human relations!  What matters, really matters, and, ironically, makes me happy is your happiness.  Caring for others almost as much as for my own dear self makes Live Theater worth living.

Witch-hunt

Donald Trump calls Bob Mueller’s report and Congressional impeachment inquiries “Witch-hunts.” Lest we be unsure about the term, by Trumping-up allegations regarding Hunter Biden our President provides a textbook example of a Witch-hunt.

Snow Globe

Mind is a snow globe, a crystal sphere with tiny people, animals, trees, houses inside.  Thoughts and feelings are snow flakes.

A child, I became obsessed with shaking my little globe, fascinated by the mini- blizzard, not realizing the swirling flakes make the people almost impossible to see.  So I build snow people, images of how I think others think, feel, believe, even I suspect, look.

I continue to shake, plan, scheme, worry, to build snow people.  What if I stopped?  If I allowed the snowflakes to settle, what would I see?

I’m told if I stopped creating my blizzard, let the flake settle, if I’d just sit and look, really look, I’d see others, and myself, as we really are.  Even in knee-deep drifts, snow on our heads, flakes on our noses, we’re all perfect just as we are.  No need for snow people.

The Crick

June 15, 1906, the night Mama was born, a Biddlecome girl drowned in Ferron Creek.  Mr. Biddlecome’s wagon was caught in a flash flood.

After finding the body, the searchers stopped at Grandpa’s cabin near the mouth of the canyon.  His daughter’s birth became wallpaper where the image of an alabaster body with hair fanned like a raven’s wings on a wagon’s floorboards hung like a gilt framed daguerreotype in Grandpa’s memory.

Ferron, Utah, owes its name to U.S. Deputy Land Surveyor A.D. Ferron, its settlement to Mormon faithful sent by Brigham Young to colonize a half-dozen, what many would call “God forsaken” outposts, on the east flank of a southern tip of Wasatch Range.  Ferron owes its existence to that slim green artery meandering among sandstone cliffs and clay hills.  Apart from an atmosphere, without water human survival here  is no different than on the gray landscape where Neil Armstrong took his “great leap for mankind.”

Most times Ferron creek meanders among sandbars, swirls around fallen tree trunks and limbs and pauses in pools barely large enough for suckers and minnows.  But once or twice in summer the northerly jet stream swings south pushing Pacific clouds over southern California and north.  When dark clouds bank up against Big Mountain, thunder reverberates down Ferron canyon and locals know a flash flood is coming.

If ten square miles catches a third of its annual rainfall in thirty minutes clay hills shed water like a duck’s back.  Raindrops form trickles and trickles grow to streams pushing eleven months’ leaves, twigs, branches, tree trunks, mud and rocks down the main canyon in a moving dam.  At the mouth of the canyon the six-foot tall morass surges over the creek banks in a flash flood!

To call a flash flood a “religious experience” is a stretch, but for me the first one came close.  With rain or snowmelt I expect a stream’s level to rise, slowly, sometimes quickly, never all at once.  First it’s a grumbling from upstream.  Then, under the cottonwood and willows branches or around a bend comes a rolling wall of debris.  An out-of-control display where men in straw hats pause beside half-loaded hay wagons and cat-skinners in hard hats throttle back to watch.

In summer I lived with Uncle Grant, the South Ditch Water Master.  When dark clouds banked up and thunder rumbled on Ferron Mountain, we’d drive to the head of the ditch to raise the “sand gate” so the flash flood would continue down the main creek, saving the South Ditch from being clogged when the debris dam rushed from the canyon.

Around age ten I became Keeper of the “Crick.”  After Daddy died Mama gave me his long-barreled, single-shot twenty-two.  In the coldest of winter I’d race home from school, grab my rifle, crawl through a barbed-wire fence and cross John Cook’s field to the Crick.

I knew every twist and bend, channel, sand bar, and pheasant roost.  I’d wriggle through secret rabbit runs under thickets of wild currant.  I checked out Louie’s cabin.  Epileptic and with one bad eye, Louie lived in a never-painted frame house at the crick bridge.  Built from scraps and driftwood with a clay bank for a back wall, Louie’s six-foot-square cabin was a cobbled-together affair with a small table, chair and  mud fireplace.  A hideout only a ten-year-old farm kid could appreciate.

Then, it was almost dark!  I had chores!  I’d leap the Crick, sprint across John Cook’s pasture, lean my twenty-two against the trunk of an apple tree and sneak to the woodpile to split kindling and fill coal buckets in the dark.

The Crick wasn’t about rabbit trails or Louie’s cabin.  It was about Being, here, now!  What you saw was what you got.  A dependable place where time stood still.  No agendas, no egos, no parents, no teachers!  On the Crick life made simple sense.  Even flash floods belonged.  Feelings I lost.

I wonder about my last day on the Crick.  I couldn’t realize how supremely significant turning my back on it for the last time was.  Then I sat behind Janet Jenkins in seventh grade math and suddenly a brown-eyed freckled-faced girl with a black ponytail became somehow  .  .  .   different?

Ferron has grown but hasn’t really changed much.  The biggest change is the Millsite dam where the creek’s backed into a reservoir.  There’s a marina, even a golf course.  Up at the mouth of the Canyon, where the Biddlecome girl drowned.

A New Deal

With appreciation for Habitat For Humanity and others, and despite an urgent need, more homes for the homeless and prisons for the less fortunate is dumping more dirt on a dam.  As the reservoir’s area and depth increase a higher dam is futile.  Someone needs to say, “Hey!  Where the hell is all this water coming from?  Grab a canoe.  Let’s paddle upstream and see.  Maybe we can ditch the water to agriculture, industry, cities.”

With over half its workforce in bread lines, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave America “The New Deal”, the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Projects Administration (WPA) its Crown Jewels.  In the CCCs, for three hots, a cot and a stipend young men were set to work building

bridges, roads, trails, fire lookout towers, airport landing fields, dams, ditches, canals, camp and picnic grounds, lakes and ponds; worked in tree and shrub nurseries, on insect and plant disease control; in fire prevention, rangeland, and steam improvement; stocking fish and assorted emergency work.*

Works Projects Administration (WPA) employees constructed over a half-million miles of roads

10,000 bridges, airports and housing, schools, libraries, courthouses, hospitals, sidewalks, waterworks, and post-offices  .  .  .  museums, swimming pools, parks, community centers, playgrounds, coliseums, markets, fairground, tennis courts, zoos, botanical gardens, auditoriums, waterfronts, city halls, gyms, and university unions.  Most of these are still in use today.

It’s Tennesse Valley Authority constructed dams for electrical power and irrigation.*

I’m surprised and heartened to learn It didn’t stop with sweat work.  Under “Federal Project Number One” the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in its Federal Writers’ Project, (FWP), Historical Records Survey (HRS), Federal Theater Project (FTP), Federal Music Project (FMP), and Federal Art Project (FAP).  How’s that ?  Government dollars for artsy, fartsy nonsense!  Anathema!

I enumerate The New Deal’s projects and accomplishment to demonstrate where there’s a will there’s work.  Not “make work,” significant, substantial work.

Could today’s America stomach a New Deal?  As I see it, government employing the homeless would face three roadblocks: Bureaucracy, Free Enterprise, able and willing workers.

With five hundred of America’s most inflated egos pushing, shoving, schmoozing, cajoling, wheeling-dealing, and threatening, it’s astonishing anything gets done in Washington D.C—Some argue it doesn’t.  Fact is, without a heavy-duty shove from “K Street” any hope that Congress would pass legislation to help the homeless, dispossessed and mentally ill makes a Megabucks ticket seem a reasonable bet.

Roadblock two: On any suggestion of Government hiring folks for work it is not and otherwise would not do would trigger shrieks of “Communism!”, “Meddling in the Free Market!” from Business.

Roadblock three: Despite our homeless tragedy, finding able and willing workers is a challenge.  Folks sleeping on sidewalks in tents and under tarps appear to fall in three groups: workers who’s jobs were shipped to China, Mexico or India or were sacrificed to financial profit, those who have never been employed, and the mentally ill.

A century back  America’s work ethic was dramatically different.  Most of those in nineteen twenty-nine bread lines had worked, knew how to work and wanted to work.  Likewise, most of today’s laid-off workers would grab any chance of a paycheck.

I hope it’s only my prejudice but many of today’s homeless appear to have grown up where few people held steady jobs.  For these folks, learning to crawl out to a five-thirty alarm and show up eight hours a day five days a week would seem to demand cradle-up retraining.  The means to break this cycle demands wisdom far beyond my poor power.

Confronting America’s mental illness crisis is, to the contrary, a no-brainer.  When Ronald Reagan knocked funding for Federal mental health treatment and research in the head, the mentally ill were shoved off a cliff and have never climbed back up.

In the end, fixing homelessness, its causes, implications and consequences is a choice, a matter of will, i.e. Public dollars.  Do we give tax breaks to the top five percent or invest in the ten percent who, through happenstance, can’t or wont work or suffer brain diseases equivalent to cancer?  For a pittance of what we spend on rockets, satellites and space stations, for putting men on the Moon and Rovers on Mars, for Cassini’s snapshots of Pluto we could at least attempt to ingrate the homeless into the workforce here on Earth.

The New Deal demonstrates where there’s as willingness to make the effort, to invest the dollars, to think out of the box, there is worthwhile work for the homeless and otherwise unemployed.  Can that century-old model be exporter into twenty-first century America?  Given today’s Politics, Business and, despite available bodies, the questionable nature of an able, willing Workforce, the prospect appears bleak.

In an arctic or temperate climate a roof overhead is essential.  By itself, more housing treats only the symptom, not the root issues.  More dirt on the dam allows the reservoit to grow larger and deeper.  Switching metaphors, housing by itself is a band aid on a growing abscess.

*Wikipedia