Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tomorrow's Headline: Pope Fallible

And so the great era of deregulation, and maybe American capitalism, comes to a rather simpering end.

Today on Capitol Hill, Alan Greenspan, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, admitted to Henry Waxman's oversight committee not only that he had been mistaken about the ability of markets to self-regulate, but that he was "shocked" at the "credit tsunami" that has washed over the banking institutions of our (formerly) capitalist nation.

Hearing this was like hearing the President say that aliens had landed and one would soon address the United Nations. It was like hearing the Pope address the crowd in Saint Peter's Square with the news that Jesus had been proved not to be the savior and was never to return. It was like seeing Sarah Palin give us chapter and verse on the constitutional separation of powers.

A good question now would be: who was this Greenspan guy, anyway? And why did everyone trust him so much, and for so long?


Rachel, Rachel

The political season has produced a new female star. She's got daily, national exposure on television. She's visibly partisan and not unattractive. She is a darling to the base and a thorn in the side of those she disagrees with. And she's not from Washington, DC.

It's not Sarah Palin.

It's Rachel Maddow, and she's from western Massachusetts. Unlike Palin, Rachel really knows a lot about the issues. Always well-informed, she gets her points across with keen, but not cutting, wit. She knows how to be funny. And she doesn't mind hearing opposing views. Despite her obvious liberal leanings, she regularly invites arch-conservative Pat Buchanan onto the show. They parry in most entertaining fashion.

She calls the Buchanan segment "It's Pat". Does Pat know it's the same name as a once-famous skit on Saturday Night Live about a sexually ambiguous creature named Pat? We're not sure, but we're pretty sure Rachel does.

Maddow's ratings have been a pleasant surprise for her employers at MSNBC. Actually it has been rather a shock. She's now the second-most watched show on cable news. Can this be the dawn of literacy and intelligence on television news? Don't get too hopeful. But it kind of feels like it might be.


Monday, October 20, 2008

September Sky

Last month, my family and I drove to the top of a mountain in the Catskills and I shot a perfectly clear sky several times. When under a vast empty space, take a moment to notice; you might sense your presence in the universe, no matter how unimportant you think you are. I saw no reason to shoot anything else that day.

Luchy Edwards

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Will miss this winter:

The valiant beauty of wildflowers buoys me. I love pulling over to the side of the road to shoot them but unfortunately don't always have my camera with me.

It's good to be "In a world not vague, not lonely, not governed by me only." -- Richard Wilbur


Thursday, October 16, 2008

To Troy!

There's a spanking new center for the arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) is a beautifully designed, 220,000 square-foot facility perched high on a hill that overlooks Troy and Albany. The building alone is worth the trip. Inside, there's a 1,200-seat concert hall, a 400-seat theater, and two studio spaces, configurable as traditional black-box theaters or as fully immersive environments. But the selection of cutting edge performances and films shown are the real reason you'll want to go. My favorite:

The Wooster Group's: THERE IS STILL TIME..BROTHER, directed by Liz LeCompte

This is an interactive 360-degree anti-war film. Inside a cylindrical room completely surrounded by a projection screen, there are 45 rotating stools. Be sure to take a turn with the person sitting on the controlling stool (or yell as you enter "I get the control seat, I called it!"). You decide the film's focus within its multiple narrative. Do you want to see graphic war imagery or explicit sexual scenes? Scott Shepherd explains the process (he's very funny) while Kate Valk plays a blogger named Moira - as always, she's mesmerizing. You can watch Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck's farewell scene from the 59 film of Nevil Shute's novel, "On the Beach" or Kate and Scott perform that scene simultaneously. Ari Fliakos gives an eerie performance as Tanner, a British soldier describing the massacre after outnumbered British troops battle the French for control of Fort Calypso. Nearby, a banner is seen fluttering in the wind reading: 'There is still time... Brother'."

But don't wait too long, the show closes on October 19.

Luchy Edwards

Hey Joe, Where You Goin' with that McCain Pamphlet in Your Hand?

Joe the Plumber? As they say on SNL: "Really?... Really?"

The so-called plumber is a real person, but a fictional creation born of the rather casual interplay between fact and wishfulness that has become a hallmark of the hapless McCain campaign.

Joe has been touted by McCain as representative of the average middle-American McCain wants to help, but here is what we know today about Joe:

He is not a licensed plumber. He is not a member of the plumber's union. He does not make anywhere near $250K per year and therefore would qualify (in all likelihood) for a tax cut under Obama's plan. He would like to buy the business? Who knows. Who cares.

Also, he says he doesn't like the idea of Social Security. That sure puts him in the mainstream! He also appears to owe some back taxes, and has a couple of leins against him. Good, solid citizen, this Joe.

I'd offer him a break; except that he mentioned he'd long thought he'd been raised in the South, but then found out he'd been born in Toledo--and that he was annoyed to find out he was a "Yankee".

This annoys the American in me. I remember we lost about 600,000 of our countrymen defeating secessionists who actually wanted to die for the sake of enslaving other human beings. And this misinformed McCainiac thinks it's okay to claim he's upset he's not the rightful spawn of these losers?

To the world, all Americans are Yankees. Can you imagine if an Obama supporter said he was sorry to learn he was an American (of any type)? Why is it ever okay for the right to talk about "Yankees" and "The East Coast" as if they don't owe us every bit of loyalty they claim to owe any other American?

Who are these benighted nincompoops trying to claim the flag belongs to them, even while wishing they could fly the rebel flag instead?

Please Joe, go back into hiding before you hurt yourself. You've already made a fool of McCain.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Lay me not beneath a drop ceiling
or recessed lighting of any shade of pink.
Make sure there are no pamphlets nearby
or postcards with the little faces
of saints, or any gilded book to be signed.

You can lay my heart inside the birdcage
of an old willow, if it is autumn,
or if it could be arranged – a dogwood, a magnolia
if it’s the right time of year
and the petals are ready to fall in drifts across me.

Or maybe just somewhere where you can hear water,
a beach where the gulls stand silent on lightpoles
with the bay creeping up to the shore,
an inch at a time, like a crowd coming close
to mourn their fallen king.

Tell everyone – no one has to say a word,
nor must they be silent,
nor do they even have to show up at all –
the little waves of the bay will trip over themselves
to keep coming in, keep coming in,
keep coming in
and even if no one says the right words
or the wrong ones, it will still
all have happened, any how.

Mark Aiello

Palin Again and Again

Recently the National Review said that Palin means "again" in Greek.

Sarah Palin may be headed for defeat (still too early to know). She may be turning off more voters than she's inspiring. She may be winking and bumbling her way back to a diminished governancy in Alaska. But one thing is certain: she's not going away.

You will be seeing Palin again, no matter if it's on the lawn of the Naval Observatory or in front of the sporting center in Wasilla. Her fans are many and they are fervent. Her crowds identify with her on a subrational level and she seems much to enjoy the adulation. Perhaps more notable, she takes particular joy in transmitting not-so-muted messages of race and cultural hate to what has rapidly become a dangerous, potentially violent rabble.

When she winks, she's winking at Joe Sixpack--him with a shotgun at the ready. When she says "community organizer" she means (and everyone knows but few will say) "African-American activist"; using the words in much the same way words like "urban" and "minority" once were freighted with pejorative intent. When she says "palling around with terrorists" she means "he's an Arab" (or else why would a uniformed sherriff precede her with a reference to Barack "Hussein" Obama). And when Joe Sixpack gets the wink and the message, he shouts back "Kill him!"

She'll be around for a while--playing the pipe of race hatred. She'll be with us--lying with particular glee in response any question asked. She seems in fact to prefer lying to the truth. It seems as if she believes lying proves her cause the more just--any means to an end, right?

What we have witnessed in Sarah Palin is nothing less than the birth of a new and dangerous strain of American fascism. With truculence and aplomb, she rejects any notion of deceny, truth and fairness in pursuit of her extreme right wing agenda. When she introduced us all to her style and her ideas at the Republican convention, we saw a crowd giddy with delight that someone was finally talking to "the base". As weeks progressed, the saner part of America became chilled to the bone by her obvious lack of qualification, her eagerness to lie, and indeed her mossback political agenda itself.

But she is not going away. Win or lose, Sarah Palin is the new, winking, "you betcha" face of right wing hate and violence.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Been long gone

It's been almost a year since any of us posted on this blog, so I've decided to revive it. We had a lot of fun writing poems, literary criticism, and personal observations about cultural and political events - I plan to encourage my buddies to pick up where we left off.

I will start with a subject I should know a lot about (since I've been practicing for almost 8 years) but it's so vast and complicated that I still feel like a novice. That is yoga. I started with 3 friends in 2000. We took turns meeting in one another's living rooms, moved the furniture to create space and had very hands on guidance into form, purpose and meditation. Our teacher got pregnant in the course of that year and after she had the baby it was very hard to have a class. She'd teach while breastfeeding or trying to quiet the baby down. So I sought a solution. I tried out various gyms and finally decided to sign up at the gym in my building complex.

This is an ugly, dirty little place, but it's convenient. I can run into my room after a long day at the office, change quickly and be in class in a matter of minutes. They only offer a handful of classes per week, but the teachers are pretty decent and most people there are laid back and friendly. Rain, snow or cold weather are never an issue and I can make it back in time for dinner with my family.

On weekends I practice at a yoga center in the beautiful town of Hudson in Columbia county. The room there is large with shiny wooden floors and a very high ceiling. There are statues of Buddhas and Hindu goddesses, candles, plants, and billowing red and orange curtains on very large windows. It's the opposite of the cramped little room in NYC. This place exudes soulfulness. The teachers there play an accordion-like instrument while we chant and they speak about the philosophy behind the practice with depth and good humor.

In both places I've seen many teachers come and go. Most are amazing athletes, you can tell they were once professional dancers or gymnasts. Some start out and stick with a simple approach and humble attitude, true to the yoga spirit. Many, unfortunately, decide to become rock stars. In an effort to seem exciting, they ask us to do insanely complicated movements while showing us "how easy" it is to do them. And there are the ones that bring religious fervor into the mix, talking about Easter philosophy through some innate need for devotion. I try to learn something from each session. I won't do insanely difficult poses because I know how precarious it all really is and I have an obligation to protect myself from injury. And when a teacher gets on a soapbox, I just focus on what he or she knows about form.

This morning, I went to the center in Hudson. I hadn't been to yoga in a week and really felt it. When I arrived feeling tired and weary I was glad to hear we would focus on the heart chakra which is considered the seat of waking consciousness. The poses we did were meant to release blocked energy and I left thinking about what it means to have an open heart.

Courage is what fuels trust and trust fuels love which in turn fuels compassion. Compassion then makes its way to the beginning, to courage. If you forgive your human frailties, limitations, if you don't take yourself too seriously, you cannot help feeling that way towards others. So if you're not afraid of punishing yourself or being hurt by others - if you trust, your heart opens. And the more you do this, the better you get at it. It's best not to over analyse and compartmentalize this process but it's one that mankind really needs to work on.

When the heart is open, it frees the mind so that living with passion even at the risk of suffering great disappointment is possible. Holding two opposing views and understanding them simultaneously is possible. Seeing that opposing forces are one and the same opens the door to awareness so that life is not perceived on the surface but with great depth. When the heart and mind are open, all boundaries melt away and connectivity becomes more and more obvious as reality.

It's a long journey. I've got my whole life to go, and that includes the past.

Luchy Edwards