Etchings in the Sand…

Thoughts and Photos from the Desert…

Monthly Archives: May 2007

The Road…


To listen to the Slate Audio Book Club on Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, you can download the audio file here, or click here to subscribe to the Slate Audio Book Club feed in iTunes.

This month, Slate‘s Audio Book Club looks at Cormac McCarthy’s best-selling post-apocalyptic road novel, The Road. Is the book a lyrical meditation on existential questions of survival? A gimmicky parenting manual? An exploration of the role of religion in modern life? Meghan O’Rourke, Katie Roiphe, and John Burnham Schwartz discuss these and other questions in the podcast.

John is especially effective as he probes well the McCarthy style and spirit.

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Powerful Weapons…

I haven’t given much attention to the John Edwards campaign. In fact, I’m leaning over backwards to avoid getting interested in any campaign this early in the game. But this Edwards quote is wiser, fresher and more provocative than anything I’ve seen in many moons:

“We need a post-Bush, post 9/11, post-Iraq American military that is mission-focused on protecting Americans from the 21st century threats, not misused for discredited ideological pursuits. We need to recognize that we have far more powerful weapons available to us than just bombs, and we need to bring them to bear. We need to re-engage the world with the full weight of our moral leadership.”

As far as “moral leadership” is concerned, that is something largely forfeited by now and that has to be earned anew, but defining those “powerful weapons” could open a fresh opportunity for Mr. Edwards and for the American people.

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Scary II …

Following up on my “Scary I” poem from yesterday, I quote a story from yesterday’s Los Angeles Times that should push those of us who remember the saga of Haight-Ashbury a bit closer to the edge.

   


From the Los Angeles Times

NOT A LOT OF LOVE IN THE HAIGHT

(Gutter punks roam where, 40 years ago, flower children protested the war in Vietnam.)

By John M. Glionna
Times Staff Writer

May 29, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO — From his second-floor apartment at the counterculture
crossing of Haight and Ashbury streets, Arthur Evans watches a new
generation of wayward youth invade his free-spirited neighborhood.

The
former flower child was among the legions of idealistic wanderers who
migrated here during the Vietnam War to “tune in, turn on and drop out.”

But
Evans, who has lived at the same address for 34 years, says he has
never seen anything like this crowd, who use his flower bed as a
bathroom and sell pot outside his window.

They’re known as
gutter punks, these homeless kids with dirty dreadlocks and nose rings,
lime-green mohawks and orange spray-painted faces, who panhandle with
cardboard signs that riff on their lifestyles. “Please Help Us Get
Un-Sober,” one reads. Another: “Please Give Us Weed, Beer or Money.”

Sometimes
aggressive, they block sidewalks as they strum guitars or bang on
bongos. Gangs of them skateboard down the middle of Haight Street. Some
throw used hypodermic needles into a nearby pond they call Hep-C Lake.
(For rest of story click on :

http://www.latimes.com/news/la-me-haight29may29,0,4307925.story?coll=la-tot-topstories&track=ntothtml

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Scary…

My friend Antony quotes the scariest poem I’ve come across in ages. Pushes one right to the edge – where, I suspect we need to visit from time to time.

Advice to Myself
Louise Erdrich

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

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Suburbs…

I picked this up somewhere and found it to be one of those quotes that tends to hang around and make one think a bit.

“Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.” – Bill Vaughn

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Memorial Reservations…

Tomorrow is Memorial Day and there is an underlying sadness so often forgotten in the increasing commercialization and holiday atmosphere that have largely taken the day over.

Someone had to die and loved ones had to painfully work their ways through the loss. We remembered all this and bowed our heads in reverence.

It is perhaps easier to understand and even justify laying down one’s life in a wartime with some noble cause. Of late the military adventures of this strange nation of ours have stretched the imagination and even the sense of decency. We do not understand or appreciate why so many of the best and brightest of our young men and women are making that ultimate sacrifice in this “war”. We are sickened at the repeated images of their families left alone now – without them.

Somehow hitting the Memorial Day sales and clogging the airports and highways doesn’t ring true in the face of perverse tragedy.

I would suggest instead a day of national silence. And then the relentless holding the feet of this president, his people  and our congress to the fire until the last of our young people are returned home to us.

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