Friday, October 28, 2005

To My Friends On The Right

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald (L), who says he doesn't photograph well, arrives at his Washington office October 27, 2005. (REUTERS/Micah Walter) Posted by Picasa

We must be able to let things happen in the psyche. For us, this actually is an art of which few people know anything. Consciousness is forever interfering, helping, correcting, and negating, and never leaving the simple growth of the psychic processes in peace. It would be simple enough, if only simplicity were not the most difficult of things.

---Carl Gustav Jung

To know that you do not know is the best.
To pretend to know when you do not know is a disease.

---Lao Tzu

Give me, kind Heaven, a private station,
A mind serene for contemplation.

---John Gay

I like to maintain dialogue with people of conservative philosophies, and several get these dispatches I send to cyberspace from time to time. Apparently a few even read them and sometimes lash back when they get mad. This is OK because usually there are other things at the heart of our friendship...and we just go back to those topics. I'm not being demeaning because there are elements of the conservative view, including the basic tenets of Hobbes, that are very convincing to me. I like best to talk with conservatives because I may be wrong about things and they help me be the first to know when I am.

There are two things I know about conservatives that come to mind this morning. One is they allow more secrecy in planning and government than I like or agree with. They respect the sanctity of the huddle. I must admit the intrusion of television technology onto the playing field can spoil the fun. I do not want to learn what the next pitch is going to be, or what the manager just whispered into the coach's ear. But politics is not a game to me, and if Cheney's energy cronies have carved up the world for their financial gain, using the public office of the Vice Presidency to do it, I want to know!

But the second conservative conviction that I think of today I do agree with and respect tremendously. Conservatives believe in playing by the rules. Fascists don't. They believe in making up rules by "necessity" as they go along. And so conservatives I've been talking to are anticipating the announcements by Fitzgerald today as much as I am. When Miers withdrew yesterday one such associate said to me, "Now we'll get a nominee to replace her so far to the right there won't be a confirmation before Christmas!" His remark helped temper my excitement.

The left is going wild on the Internet at this hour. I understand it. I woke up at 3 and had to get down to the computer to read the news. Some of you write or tell me you like it when I chart where I've been because it saves you time. Google News is featuring well over 2000 entries at this hour on who in the White House is about to be indicted, and an extension of the grand jury investigation for more about Karl Rove. Yahoo is carrying the basic AP story , but Reuters' Adam Entous kept updating his coverage until after midnight sometime. You can type in and find yourself with the latest news, but I like Entous' earlier story which appeared on The Boston Globe site last night . It also sums up The New York Times story, appearing in this morning's edition, that says Karl Rove will not be charged today because Fitzgerald is looking for more.

Another excellent summary I think is at BradBlog . There are lots of hyperlinks there to lead your curiosity to the original sources. The most significant I think is the reference to a dispatch from Murray Waas at the National Journal . Here we learn, "Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.
"Among the White House materials withheld from the committee were Libby-authored passages in drafts of a speech that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered to the United Nations in February 2003 to argue the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq, according to congressional and administration sources. The withheld documents also included intelligence data that Cheney's office -- and Libby in particular -- pushed to be included in Powell's speech, the sources said. " While still at BradBlog, especially those of us in Ohio, be sure to check out his writeup of Tom Noe's 3 count indictment of money laundering for Bush and Blackwell . Dana sent this out to her list already last night.

If you want to get farther out, brace yourself for Arianna Huffington's blog, which actually is a legion of liberal bloggers . The latest headlines and links to those sites are also there, and lots of photos. Her own entry today is about Macbeth and Bush and how they both lost their mojo. catch the drift.

The piece that captured most of my attention was an analysis of the whole Bush collapse by Tom Englehardt, who attended both Yale and Harvard and is involved, I guess, in a couple liberal thinktanks and publishing projects. He maintains something called TomDispatch and yesterday put out this essay that TruthOut and a number of others have picked up . Clearly Englehardt is a bit on edge himself , as he chronicles how hard he's been working over the past year for this moment. Yeah well, haven't we all? But further into the piece he gets going~~~

"In all their guises -- in relation to the media, the federal bureaucracy, and other countries -- they actually were dominating isolationists. They took a once honorable Republican heartland tradition -- isolationism -- turned it on its head and thrust it into the world. They acted in Iraq and elsewhere as armed imperial isolationists. Where the elder Bush and Bill Clinton were multinationalists and globalizers; they were ultra-nationalists and militarists, focused only on the military solution to any problem -- and damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
"But when you are a cabal, using such close-to-the-breast, not to say mom-and-pop, methods of ruling, and you falter, whether in Iraq or at home, unilateralism becomes weakness. And when it turns out that what you rule is the 'last superpower' and you've sidelined, pacified, or punished large numbers of people in the vast, interlocking worlds of the governmental bureaucracy and the media, your enemies still retain the power to strike back.
"When something closer to the full story of our moment is known, I suspect we'll see more clearly just how the bureaucracy began to do so (along with, as in this week's New Yorker magazine in the person of Brent Scowcroft, the old multinational ruling elite). In the meantime, it's clear that what the potential implosion moment awaited was the perfect storm of events now upon us. If this moment were to be traced back to its origins, I would, for the time being, pick the spring of this year as my starting point and give the mainstream media -- anxious, resentful, bitter, cowed, losing audience, and cutting staff -- their due. The Bush slide has been a long, slow one, as the opinion polls indicate; but like that famed moss-less rolling stone, it picked up speed last spring as the President's approval ratings slipped below 50%, and then in the ensuing months plunged near or below 40%, putting him at the edge of free-fall.
"If there's one thing that this administration and Washington journalists have in common, it's that both groups parse opinion polls obsessively; so both saw the signs of administration polling softness and of a President, just into a second term, who should have been triumphant but was failing in his attempt to spend what he called his 'political capital' on social security 'reform.'
"Vulnerability, it gets the blood roaring, especially when it seeps from an administration so long feared and admired as the 'most disciplined' and 'most secretive' in memory, an administration whose highest officials (as the Plame case showed) regularly whacked their opponents with anything at hand and then called on their media allies, always in full-battle-mode, for support. Probably the key moment of weakness came in August, when Cindy Sheehan ended up in that famed ditch at the side of a road in Crawford, Texas, and the President and his men -- undoubtedly feeling their new-found vulnerability, anxious over an Iraq War gone wrong and the protesting mother of a dead soldier so near at hand -- blinked."

I hope this has helped you with your Friday morning and the announcement to come later today. Enjoy it, especially if it's payday besides! And get your chores done tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

In Memoriam Rosa Parks

Posted by Picasa

Pride means the end of wisdom.

---Japanese proverb

It is just like learning archery; eventually you reach a point where ideas are ended and feelings forgotten, and then you suddenly hit the target.


We find great things are made of little things,
And little things go lessening till at last
Comes God behind them.

---Robert Browning

Rosa Parks, 1913 - 2005

"I am leaving this legacy to all of you ... to bring peace, justice, equality, love and a fulfillment of what our lives should be. Without vision, the people will perish, and without courage and inspiration, dreams will die — the dream of freedom and peace."

US Civil Rights Icon Dies at Age 92
By Matthew Schneider
25 October 2005

Rosa Parks, a seamstress from Montgomery, Alabama, who would not give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955, died Monday at the age of 92. Historians mark the date of her quiet-but-revolutionary act as the start of the modern civil rights movement in the United States.

If you had seen Rosa Parks walking down the street, in recent years, you would never guess that the slender, silver-haired lady with large spectacles had anything to do with an event that ignited black civil rights as one of the main national issues of the middle 20th Century.

On December First, 1955, Mrs. Parks had finished her work as a seamstress in a Montgomery, Alabama, store and boarded a city bus to go home. She took a seat in the 11th row, behind the seats reserved exclusively for white passengers, as required by the city's segregation law at that time. Blacks were entitled to seats from the 11th row to the rear of a bus. However, the city law said if the first 10 rows were filled, a white passenger could request a seat in the back of a bus. Rosa Parks remembered the bus was crowded with people standing in the aisle when several whites boarded. A white man told the driver he wanted a seat. The driver, who had the authority under city law, went to the rear of the bus and ordered Mrs. Parks and three other black passengers to get up. The others reluctantly stood. Rosa Parks, tired after a day of work, refused.

"When they stood up and I stayed where I was, he asked me if I was going to stand and I told him that 'no, I wasn't,' and he told me if I did not stand up he was going to have me arrested. And, I told him to go on and have me arrested," Mrs. Parks said.

The bus driver called the police and when they arrived he told them he needed the seats for his white passengers.

"He pointed at me and said, 'that one won't stand up.' The two policemen came near me and only one spoke to me. He asked me if the driver had asked me to stand up? I said, 'yes.' He asked me why I didn't stand up," Mrs. Parks said. "I told him I didn't think I should have to stand up. So I asked him: 'Why do you push us around?' And he told me, 'I don't know, but the law is the law and you are under arrest.'"

Mrs. Parks said her decision to remain seated was based on her desire to be treated with decency and dignity:
"This was not the way I wanted to be treated after I had paid the same fare this man had paid -- he hadn't paid any more than I did but I had worked all day and I can recall feeling quite annoyed and inconvenienced. And I was very determined to, in this way, show that I felt that I wanted to be treated decently on this bus or where ever I wasMrs. Parks said.

Rosa Parks, who worked for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP, continued to assert that she had not intended to provoke her arrest.

"I had only intended to go home and take care of whatever matters I had because I had an NAACP youth conference that weekend and I also was getting out the notices for the senior branch of the NAACP (convention). I didn't move because I didn't feel like it was helping us or making things lighter [easier] for us -- me as an individual and us as a people to continue to be pushed around because of our race and colorMrs. Parks said.

Her arrest for violating the city segregation law was the catalyst for a mass boycott by blacks of the city's buses, whose ridership had been 70 percent black.

That boycott brought the young minister Martin Luther King, Junior, to national prominence as the head of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the group that organized and led the protest. The Montgomery Improvement Association also filed a federal suit challenging the constitutionality of the segregation law on February first, 1956. The boycott continued 382 days, until December 20, 1956, when the United States Supreme Court ordered city officials to desegregate their buses.

Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley on February Fourth, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her father was a carpenter and her mother, a teacher. They enrolled Rosa in the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls, a private school that encouraged each girl to "take advantage of the opportunities, no matter how few they were." In those days, "few" was the key word for blacks, especially in the southern states of America. Rosa told a newspaper that blacks didn't have any civil rights. She said, "It was just a matter of survival...of existing from one day to the next. I remember going to sleep as a girl and hearing the Ku Klux Klan ride at night and hearing a lynching and being afraid the house would burn down."

When she was 19, she married Raymond Parks, a barber who was active in black civil rights and voting registration. She attended a small black university in Montgomery for a few years and then worked for the Montgomery Voters League, the NAACP Youth Council and other civic and religious organizations. Having gained a reputation for getting things done, she was elected secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943. At that time the civil rights organization had to spend much of its energy working on cases of white violence against blacks. Aside from beatings and murder, blacks had to contend with peonage, a system where blacks who owed money or were in jail would be forced to perform labor without receiving pay. She said, "We didn't seem to have too many successes. It was more a matter of trying to challenge the powers that be, and to let it be known that we did not wish to be continued as second class citizens."

During the next 20 years Mrs. Parks helped support her family by taking sewing at home. She also worked as a house cleaner and for a brief period as an insurance agent.

The Parks family moved to Detroit, Michigan, soon after the conclusion of the bus boycott because of continuing threats of violence by the racist organization the Ku Klux Klan as well as by angry individuals who held Mrs. Parks responsible for the desegregation of the city buses.

Raymond Parks resumed working as a barber. Rosa, after recovering from stomach ulcer problems, was hired by Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Junior, as a secretary and administrative assistant.

In the following years the shy lady conquered her fear of public speaking and became a spokeswoman for civil rights issues.

In later years, Rosa Parks received honorary university degrees and various awards from civil rights organizations. The city of Detroit, Michigan, named a street for her. In 1989, one of the most unusual tributes came from the Neville Brothers singing group who honored her by writing a song entitled "Sister Rosa." Its reggae chorus is: "Thank you Miss Rosa / You are the spark / You started our freedom movement."

Rosa Parks said she wanted to be remembered "as a person who wanted to be free and wanted others to be free." In a 1984 radio interview she said that sometimes she couldn't escape the fame and responsibility that was thrust upon her:

"I've managed -- someway -- but there are times when I didn't want to take as much responsibility as they put upon me, but I accept whatever comes if it's going to be of any help to other peopleMrs. Parks said.
Rosa Parks, who ignited the modern civil rights movement in the United States when she refused to surrender her seat on a bus to a white man on December First, 1955. Rosa Parks -- dead at the age of 92.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Dear Europe, Get Out Your Woolens!

The Gulf Stream can be seen (red) in this thermal satellite image.
© NOAA Posted by Picasa

As for sitting in mediation, that is something which MUST include fits of ecstatic blissful laughter---brayings that will make you slump to the ground clutching your belly, and even after that passes and you struggle to your feet, will make you fall anew in further contortions of side-splitting mirth.


When the striving ceases, there is life waiting as a gift.

---Saul Bellow

Please do not get caught in that place where you think you know.

---Zen saying

Last month member and chemist Silvia Martinez, who lives in Spain, answered my request for links to articles she has been reading about a decrease in the flow of the Gulf Stream. I had heard dire predictions about this occuring some 30 years ago, but then it was all theoretical and frankly rather confusing. The idea is salt water can't freeze unless it's so cold the salt gets expelled in the process. For the last hundreds of years this has happened in the Greenland Sea most noticeably. The salt sinking causes warmer water from the southwest to flow in, washing the lower salt water southerly and forming a cycle we call the Gulf Stream (since it ends up and turns around in the Gulf of Mexico). More fresh water from the melting of ice age glaciers is diluting the salt water around Greenland to the extent that sinking salt isn't bringing in the same rush of warmer water. Here is the note Silvia sent me and the links.

Dear Richard,
I've been following this topic since a few years, and have read many reports. As you probably know, there is too much especulation & prediction, but few scientific data.
In this report, they comment that the melting ice in the Arctic Ocean is causing that more fresh water goes into the ocean, thus slowing down the Gulf Stream because of a decrease in the salinity of the water:
And this is the Times of London article that the above website refers to, reporting that the Gulf Stream slowdown is already occurring:,,2087-1602579,00.html
Others don't give so much importance to this stream in the context of the climate change:
This is a review pretty interesting and gives a lot of information about these ocean streams as it was observed in the past until the nineties, it's long but IMHO its reading is worthy. Besides, the main page has a lot of interesting reports.
Light and love,

A few hours ago UK's Independent put online its lead story of the day, which warns of a catastrophic winter ahead for countries warmed for centuries by the Gulf Stream~~~

Are we heading for a new winter of discontent?
By Jonathan Brown, Jeremy Laurance and Barrie Clement
Published: 22 October 2005

Britain could be left paralysed by energy shortages, a health crisis and gridlock on the roads if the predicted Arctic winter strikes with severity.

Prolonged sub-zero temperatures after nearly a decade of mild winters could result in the death of tens of thousands of people, with fears that the National Health Service faces the prospect of a full-blown winter bed shortage for the first time since Labour came to power in 1997.

The Confederation of British Industry warned that power shortfalls caused by the rising domestic demand to keep warm and Britain's dwindling strategic stockpiles could lead to factory shutdowns and a return to the three-day week. At present, only 11 days' supply of gas is being held in reserve, compared with 55 days' worth elsewhere in Europe. Consumer groups fear that hardest hit will be members of the two million poor households already struggling to cope with the 40 per cent rise in energy prices since 2003.

Transport specialists also warn that the authorities have not acted fast enough to keep motorways and other routes open in the event of heavy snowfalls. The situation would be worse in Scotland.

Concern has been mounting since the Meteorological Office took the unprecedented step of issuing a long-range forecast predicting the likelihood of a much harsher-than-average winter. The "amber alert" was based on lower-than-average sea temperatures recorded near Iceland and off the Azores this spring. The findings are a typical precursor for a phenomenon known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which has resulted in some of the harshest winters on record. The effects of the NAO were felt most spectacularly in 1963, when temperatures dropped as low as minus 22C, the Thames iced over and large swaths of southern England were blanketed more than a foot of snow for weeks on end.

Forecasters say they are 67 per cent confident that this winter will be among the coldest on record, and are urgently working on models predicting exactly how cold it will be and for how long Britain will freeze. A spokesman said the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott,had been informed immediately, as had the NHS, the Highways Agency and other relevant departments. "We told them to go back and look at their plans. We have had nearly 10 years of warm winters and society has changed in that time," the Met Office spokesman said.

The Arctic temperatures could not come at a worse time for Britain's energy consumers. All six power companies have relentlessly increased prices in the past two years in the midst of worsening volatility in the global energy markets. Average customers can now expect to pay £750 a year on fuel costs. Already two million households are spending 10 per cent of their income on gas and electricity bills. Three-quarters of these are classified as vulnerable - among them the elderly, sick or very poor. "When it is really cold at a time when prices have already gone up dramatically, will people make the decision to keep warm? We pray to God that they do," said Adam Scorer, head of campaigns at Energywatch.

An extra 8,000 deaths are anticipated for every one degree centigrade that the temperature falls below the winter average. When home temperatures drop below 16C, resistance to respiratory diseases falls. Cold air temperatures lead to a rapid rise in the number of strokes and heart attacks.

A DoH spokeswoman said plans were being made to clear beds and cancel operations should the worst-case scenario unfold. A spokesman for the department said: "We are aware of the Met Office's severe weather forecast for this winter but we always prepare for the worst anyway." Concerns are growing that the Government has seriously underestimated the impact of an exceptionally cold winter on business. Sir Digby Jones, the director general of the CBI, said this week that "businesses will shut down" and that the biggest energy users will be forced to "throw the switch".

Demand peaked in the relatively mild January of 2003, when 449 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas were used. This year, total availability will be lower than in previous years at 476mcm - allowing a margin of error of just 6 per cent. Lord Woolmer of Leeds, chairman of the House of Lords European Union Committee, warned that the situation had deteriorated since he submitted a report on the supply situation last year.

North Sea supplies have been run down faster than envisaged over the summer to exploit high prices on the Continent. Meanwhile the European energy market, from which Britain must now import much of its supplies, remains unreformed, and serious doubts have been expressed that it can meet the extra demand.

The severe hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico means that production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been badly disrupted. Consignments destined for Britain have been diverted to the United States. Big industrial energy users, such as steel and chemical companies, may have tohalt production on very cold days to allow domestic suppliers to take precedence. "The Government said that voluntary agreements will be sufficient. But the real danger is that they may not be enough," Sir Digby said.

The Energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, dismissed the talk of a three-day week as "scaremongering". A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman said: "The market is likely to correct itself in the event of any shortfall of supplies. A mechanism is in place to restrict supplies to some parts of industry should the situation require it."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Pause And Applause For Pinter

Playwright Harold Pinter in a rare appearance at the Orange Word Screenwriters Programme, at the British Library, in 2004.
Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

The individual becomes perfect when he loves his individuality in the all to which he belongs.

---D.T. Suzuki

Value judgments are destructive to our proper business, which is curiosity and awareness.

---John Cage

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.

---John Muir

I don't remember how I stumbled across Harold Pinter. It must have been in the mid-60s sometime, but I don't know if it was a live performance of a couple one acts or that terrifying Dirk Bogarde movie The Servant. It might have been Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch duking it out in The Pumpkin Eater. All I know is his plays grabbed me by the throat instantly. I already was a fan of Samuel Beckett, and had staged Waiting For Godot as a student in 1960. Pinter was trickier. For a production of The Homecoming in 1974, my colleagues and I felt we had to build a 2 story house in the theater. Getting the pauses right required actors literally to count off seconds to themselves. One of the eeriest moments of my life occurred in the late 60s as I walked along Fifth Avenue, and Pinter and his wife at the time, Vivien Merchant, came towards me, each on either edge of the sidewalk, obviously in the midst of an argument and issuing forth icy silence. In the instant they passed on each side I was living a Pinter play. O why hide it, my whole life has been a Pinter play. Isn't everybody's?

Giving Us Pause
Nobel laureate Harold Pinter: The silences demarcate the warring lines on the battlefield of words.

by Michael Feingold
October 14th, 2005 5:39 PM

Every playwright of stature has a single most famous line, and Harold Pinter's is undoubtedly (Pause.). The key moments of Pinter's drama, notated as carefully as key changes in chamber music, are those precious seconds of silence in which something important is intentionally left unsaid. The surrounding text may vary from the reddest fury to the tenderest expressions of love or the wooziest flights of surreal fancy, but sooner or later, the Pinter silence, marked off from the dialogue by that tiny italicized word, is sure to fall. As if confirming the inherent truth of his art, Pinter himself was afflicted with a momentary silence last week, on learning that he had been chosen as the recipient of this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. There's something gloriously human—and authentically Pinteresque—in the idea that a master of language could tell the chairman of the Nobel committee, "I don't know what to say."

Words are the dialectical battleground of Pinter's works, sometimes treasured and hoarded like irreplaceable gems, sometimes scattered heedlessly like junk in a looted dime store. His people live by them, betray them, bicker over them, flay one another with them. A Pinter woman says "casserole" when she means "wife." A Pinter man, asked if he went "the whole hog," replies that you can sometimes be satisfied "without going any hog." At times, the words are the action; at others, they exist in a schizophrenic counterpoint to it, placid where the physical life is violent or fast and furious while the bodies onstage remain in utter stasis. The silences demarcate the map of this double battlefield, temporary truces in both the war over words and the war between words and actions.

These perennial clashes are the essence of Pinter's artistic identity, coming from a personal identity which is itself a sort of permanent conflict: English and Jewish, he is an actor who became a poet who became a playwright and screenwriter who became a stage director who became a prominent political figure; with the arguable exception of poetry, he has done outstanding work in all these fields. To examine his work in any of them is to discover more instances of his dualism. While his plays are celebrated for their terse, brutal contemporaneity, his best-known screenplays are steeped in a haunted, pre-modern past (The Servant, The Go-Between, The French Lieutenant's Woman). As a director he has delved in the works of both predecessors and disciples: Who else could have produced notable stagings of such antithetical works as Noel Coward's Hay Fever and David Mamet's Oleanna?

When the news of the Nobel award broke, many reporters mentioned Pinter's outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq, but this was no surprise to those who have followed Pinter's public outcries, both in his works and in active political statement, against torture, against the suppression of artists and journalists, against ethnic hatred and violence. The gratifying paradox is that his stance on these matters has carried weight globally precisely because of the powerful role that violence, torture, and degradation play in his works, from the time of his very earliest plays, like The Room and The Birthday Party. Pinter, the world can agree, is an artist who fully understands the human heart's potential for cruelty, and one of the rare ones who has been able to express it without exploitation. From the interrogation of Stanley in The Birthday Party and the tormenting of Davies in The Caretaker to the evocation of torture in One for the Road and gulags in Mountain Language, Pinter eschews all possibility of letting his audience revel in violence. It is there because it is in us; disconcertingly, he puts a human face on it so that we can see it in ourselves. At such moments the silences in Pinter test the extremes of human behavior: They are the silence of resistance, of terrified or complacent acquiescence, of outrage.

In this respect, Pinter's actor training and actor's instinct are the core of his philosophic vision. The ability to imagine oneself as someone else, which is the essence of all acting, becomes in his hands the terrifying possibility that all human beings possess, of becoming something that is within them but that they never perceive as part of themselves. The past 75 years, which have witnessed inconceiveable cruelties while at the same time making previously unimaginable progress in human healing and comfort, are perfectly expressed in Pinter's contradictory, obstinately convincing works, the products of an artist who, himself a paradoxical figure, has become a guide and a primary influence in his art without ever giving lip service to any shibboleths, dogmas, or ideals of the kind that have so often been proven false by the bitter experiences of his—of our—time.,webfeingold,68923,11.html

Monday, October 03, 2005

Mush & Carolyn: A Burn

The painting by Marshall Arisman was done for an issue of Time magazine on violent crime, and can be seen online here Posted by Picasa

Everything you learned in school as "obvious" becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe; not even the suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuums. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines.

---R. Buckminster Fuller

People born into this floating world
Quickly become like roadside dust:
At dawn, little children,
By sunset, white-haired and old,
With no inner understanding
They struggle without cease.
I ask the children of the universe,
Why do you bother to pass this way?


We are all many persons. Some of these people we know and others we don't---only someone else knows them. Some of these people we like and some of them we don't like....All of this is music; it is the music of our lives if we could only stop and listen. Music doesn't have any meaning; you can't explain it. Eating a meal doesn't have any meaning, either, but if there's no eating there's no life, and if we don't hear music we can't dance. This is our practice---to eat our meals and clean up; to dance to the music of our lives, each one in our own way, and then die when it's time.

---Norman Fischer

What follows are some accompanying notes to a CD I've been assembling and creating essentially as a gift for an old friend whose birthday is fast approaching. Now I think I'll make a few more copies to send out to friends who might be interested. (Let me know if you'd like one.) The reason I decided to publish the notes like this is Mr. Arisman, whom you'll meet, is being honored with a retrospective of recent paintings later this month and continuing through December at the Brooklyn Lyceum (details at his website the link to which is in the text below). I didn't know that when I wrote this, but it does seem like a good opportunity to advertise the exhibition as repayment of the many gifts of his friendship. It looks as if the opening will be October 22nd, and I certainly wish I could be there. If you'll be in the New York area the next few months, you may want to get down to Brooklyn. And if you see Marshall, tell him "Philly Joe says Hello."


This collection is mostly about Blue Note CD reissues, which almost always generously and irresistibly include some alternate takes or cuts never released before. Since all this stuff is from the Golden Era of New York jazz for us older guys...AND recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, every sound is revitalizing.

However, the third cut on this Burn is different and quite personal. When I was a sophomore in high school, one of the seniors who was nice to me and seemed to recognize and encourage a commonality was a guy named Mush Arisman. I first had run into him when I was in junior high because he had a little band, in which he played alto in all styles...but I would say mostly it was a mellow rhythm 'n blues kind of group. It was well behaved enough to get booked for some of our sock hops...and we had plenty of them in the '50s. There also were fraternities and sororities for kids back in the day, and they had dances too. Mush did OK for work...although I later learned he liked art courses even more, and made paintings.

Once a night during the dances, Mush would let loose on that alto, the group would kick in, and we'd have a honking blues that prompted some of us to jitterbug to oblivion. Somehow things turned into dance battles, which Mush would oblige by continuing to play until the last kid turned into a puddle of sweat. When the inevitable BUMP...-badah-BUMP started up, I always excused myself from whomever had been my date and headed for Carolyn Valone. Carolyn and I had been pals since about 1st grade, both liked music and, though we kissed and hugged a couple times, never really ventured into the heat of teen romance with each other---but we went crazy when we danced a fast one. And so, with Mush blasting away, Carolyn and I took on everybody...and always made it to last couple standing. It is quite possible that 50 years later, each of us has a very fond memory of those times.

Carolyn now is professor emerita of art history at Trinity University in San Antonio, but has lived in Rome for many years. I believe her specialty has been to unearth the influence of women upon art, both as creators and patrons, during the Renaissance. A couple years ago I decided to try to find her and so emailed Trinity. The folks in her department were happy to help out and without hesitation gave me her telephone number in Rome. They said she never emailed...and to be prepared for a little wait if I phoned, because it was in a deli downstairs from her apartment and they'd have to yell for her. Undaunted I called the place, and lucked out. Of course she was floored, and surprised me back by mailing a lengthy treatise she'd written. She may be getting more involved with the Internet now, since I see she offers an online course at a site specializing in Rome. The thing is called "Soul Sisters"---huh?---but is about Renaissance matrons who built architecturally amazing churches and monasteries with their inheritances.

As for Mush...I doubt anyone calls him that anymore. I knew he had gone to New York, and I used to see illustrations he'd made in The Village Voice and various leftwing (usually) magazines. For years I had his drawing of a black guy playing an alto sax that was chained around his neck, which I hung lovingly in my record room wherever I lived (you'll meet that guy I think on the CD). I guess fairly recently, one of his terrifying depictions of war and violence turned up on the cover of Nation or something...and I decided to resort to Google. There he was, Chairman of the MFA degree program at the School of Visual Arts in NYC...and even better here~~~ . I wrote, and soon back came a package that contained a book of his work and a CD called Cobalt Blue. That's what you'll hear. Now look, I've tried for at least a year to get more copies of that CD so I can send them out...and I wrote Marshall asking for help and to his agent as well. No dice, so I figure he won't mind terribly if I burn a couple for really close friends. If the thing ever becomes easily available again, I'll buy up a bunch.

I imagine neither Carolyn nor Mush knows whatever happened to each other...and I think it will be my sheer delight to lay this info on 'em. I mean, what good is aging if you don't stumble across this kind of stuff? The thought of the 3 of us sharing some laughs around a little table together is almost more delicious than I can stand! By the way, I don't really buy that story Marshall tells about giving up the alto as soon as he heard Charlie Parker. There's no way he didn't hear Bird by 1956. I mean Tony Haworth would have MADE him listen---but that's another story. BUMP...-badah-BUMP...


Art Blakey, drums: It's A Long Way Down (Wayne Shorter, tenor)
Lee Morgan, trumpet; Curtis Fuller, trombone; Cedar Walton, piano; Reggie Workman, bass (April 15, 1964)

Joe Henderson, tenor: In 'N Out (Henderson) alt take
Kenny Dorham, trumpet; McCoy Tyner, piano; Richard Davis, bass; Elvin Jones, drums (April 10, 1964)

Marshall Arisman, narrator: Cobalt Blue, True Stories About The Art World
Music composed and performed by Chuck Hammer, although Mush sings and plays a little soprano sax (2003)

Hank Mobley, tenor: A Baptist Beat (Mobley) alt take
Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Wynton Kelly, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Blakey, drums (November 13, 1960)

Tina Brooks, tenor: Good Old Soul (Brooks) alt take
Hubbard, trumpet; Duke Jordan, piano; Sam Jones, bass; Art Taylor, drums (June 25, 1960)

Hubbard, trumpet: Arietis (Hubbard) alt take
Bernard McKinney, euphonium; Shorter, tenor; Tyner, piano; Art Davis, bass; Jones, drums (November 30, 1962)

Horace Silver, piano: How Did It Happen (Don Newey)
Blue Mitchell, trumpet; Junior Cook, tenor; Gene Taylor, bass; Louis Hayes, drums (August 30, 1959)