Archive

Archive for June, 2020

Quarantine Diaries – Day 106 (“The President does read….”)

June 30, 2020 Leave a comment

I suspect we all know where this is going.

As cases rise everywhere…..and the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good has done a Houdini, the writing is on the wall. There will be more sick, more dead, and more forced quarantining in the days and weeks and months ahead. There is absolutely no good news about this on any horizon. Schools are all set to re-open come mid August, but we’re not even in July yet, so there’s plenty of time for that door to slam shut. It seems increasingly likely that once again kids are gonna be sitting in the bedrooms interacting with teachers via Zoom. Places that were shut down for months and just recently re-opened, will be shut down again. And such will be the financial impact, they may not survive the second go-round. All because of the knucklehead minority. It might be 10% that are charging into stores or bars sans mask, red-hatted and shouting “….grrrrr freedumb…..grrrrrr…my rahts!”, but that’s more than enough to keep this thing alive and kicking for months more. Or longer. They’ll be no football this fall. Basketball is doomed. Minor league baseball has just announced there won’t be a season. If the MLB attempts a shortened season, it will last as long as the first few teams are infected with the virus. So….days. Weeks? 2020 is already over…..all that’s left is to hunker down and hope some sort of leader emerges that can talk us off the ledge. Our nation is on the brink of a complete nervous breakdown.

200629131855-01-missouri-protests-couple-firearms-exlarge-169Even what passes for amusement these days, 2 uber-white barefoot St Louis attorney’s pointing guns at passers-by (and inadvertently, each other), terrified that brown people are going to go all french revolution on their gilded mansion, is ultimately sad and utterly pathetic. When short fat millionaires in pink golf shirts are starting to wave AK-whatevers s at people walking down the street, and are still overshadowed by the Karens they married wading into the fray frantically pointing a pistol, the culture wars may be getting a tad out of hand. The only thing that prevented a blood-bath was the self-control of the protesters. Argue that all you want. You’ll still be wrong. And most likely, racist as fuck.

In between this and an endless barrage of videos showing people losing their minds in grocery stores over being asked to wear a mask in an effort to not kill others, my sense of humor is deserting me. I stopped following people on social media. I’m only interested in dogs.

George Washington is getting paint tossed all over him, the poor slave-owning sod. Donald Trump is more worried about rock-climbing spidermen of BLM painting dick signs on Mount Rushmore than he is about your grandmother on a ventilator. Or, for that matter, the US troops he allowed his bromance partner Putin to put bounties on. At this point the guy commits treason every 8 seconds, but we’re all so dead inside nobody can focus long enough to figure out how to frog-march him out of the White House in shackles. I think part of the exhaustion is the rubbernecking at the car-wreck variety. We’re wanting to see how batshit crazy he’s willing to go to fire up his shrinking base. Short of donning a white hood and burning a large cross on the White House lawn, I’m not sure he’s capable of shocking us anymore. Or them for that matter. All that’s left is the November death march, and the bookies in Vegas giving us odds on whether he’s gonna leave the White House willingly, or have to be dragged from the freshly re-furnished bunker kicking and screaming.

Texans have taken to the streets waving #BLM signs……but these ones say “Bar Lives Matter” because Ken and Karen might be fine with cops murdering black dudes, but they ain’t taking this no Miller-Lite drafts thing sitting down. Say it again boys and girls. Ain’t no such thing as white privilege, even if you think George Floyd ain’t as important as happy hour at TGIFs.

And last but not least, the White House press secretary was forced to make the following statement…

“The President does read….”

Because more than a few people out there suspect that….you know….he doesn’t read at all.

I’m guessing that’s the first time in the history of our nation that such a statement seemed necessary. The literacy of the President, one would think, would have been covered during the election, if not well before. But….well…..there were other things happening at the time I guess. “But her emails!” and all that.

“….Grrr….MAGA…..Grrr…..Benghaziiiiiiiii” and what not. It’s easy to take things like comprehending written words for granted.

It also kinda sums up how far we’ve regressed. And how doomed we are.

Say it again boys and girls…

“The President does read….”

Good luck in November. Assuming we make it that far.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Quarantine Diaries – Day 102 (green?)

June 26, 2020 Leave a comment

We’re “green” now. Just in time for the largest single day total of positive cases since the pandemic began.

This makes sense only in America, circa 2020, where sense has taken its ball and gone home.

bournemouth-beachesWe’re all about to be chased back inside again, and deep down everybody knows it. All you need to do is look at Texas and Florida and California. Look at fresh cases ravaging India. Look at the insanely crowded beaches in the UK. A pandemic can only be defeated by grown-ups, and the world is filled with narcissistic children. My incomprehension no longer has any boundaries. I have no reasonable expectation that our residents are going to somehow act more responsibly than Texans or Floridians or Californians. Dumbness is geographically neutral. Kinda like the virus itself.

In the midst of all this madness, President Trump is asking the Supreme Court to overturn Obamacare, which would strip health care from millions of Americans. In June 2019 the President  promised to unveil a “phenomenal” new plan that would be “less expensive than Obamacare by a lot”. He said this would take place “in two months, maybe less.” As usual when his lips are moving, he was lying. There is no new plan. It’s just more casual cruelty from a gargantuan piece of stooped orange-tinted shit. Those he couldn’t kill by pissing on a pandemic he’s coming back at for round two. It’s moral treason, and it’s tolerated and cheered on by the mindless trolls that make up his diseased cult….many of whom are already dead or will die from the virus he called a hoax and were or are covered by Obamacare themselves. Again, this only makes sense in America, 2020.

Remember. The cruelty is the point. His supporters don’t care that he’s not making their lives better. But they adore that he’s making yours worse. They will gladly die to own the libs.

I asked somebody I know who lives in Houston if folks down there were wearing masks. “Democrats are. Republicans are not.”

That’s where we’re at.

An entire political ideology no longer gives a shit if they kill others. Even themselves.

Right now I can’t remember how things were before this all started. When we all sorta blithely went about our days, working and playing and gathering and shaking hands and bro-hugging. Enjoying a movie at the movies, or sitting in a restaurant or a bar without worrying if the lady sneezing at the next table just kick-started wiping out half the place. Going to see a band. Going for a walk and not crossing the street when somebody without a mask is heading your way. Being self-conscious of even handing a cashier money. I’m vaguely aware that things used to be that way, but damn if I can remember. Calling to my kids every time they leave the house to ensure they have a mask. I mean…..there’s even photographic evidence and everything of such normalcy. But I got nothing in my melon. It’s like somebody ran a magnet across the hard drive. I haven’t put gas in my car since the beginning of March. I heard gas prices were low? Are they still?

My dog has stopped looking at us funny because we’re all home all the time. He’s in the groove now, and sometimes just resorts to isolating himself in his bed, for his own mental health break. He’s not afraid of waking up to an empty house. He thinks this is gonna go on forever.

I still go for long, wandering walks. I used to take things in. Sights and sounds. I never brought music with me. My senses were too acute…..heightened just by walking outside. Now I don’t feel anything. I jam headphones in my ears and crank something loud. I go as fast as I can so I can get miles over with and get back home. I can bury my head in a book and pretend. I’m sure there’s a name for feeling this way.

Partly this is why. When asked what his top priorities for a 2nd term are…..the President of the United States said this…

“Well, one of the things that will be really great, you know, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I’ve always said that. But the word experience is a very important word. It’s a very important meaning. I never did this before — I never slept over in Washington. I was in Washington I think 17 times, all of the sudden, I’m the president of the United States. You know the story, I’m riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with our first lady and I say, ‘This is great.’ But I didn’t know very many people in Washington, it wasn’t my thing. I was from Manhattan, from New York. Now I know everybody. And I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes, like you know an idiot like Bolton, all he wanted to do is drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to kill people.”

That’s a real quote. Word for word. From a man who holds the same office that Abraham Lincoln held. And a man who continues to inspire fanatical devotion from people at least smart enough to mark a ballot.

Our nation’s hysterical idiocy has driven me to rank depression. Our dumb motherfuckery has overwhelmed my senses.

I’m going back to bed.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Guilty Me (new song with Bret Alexander)

June 23, 2020 Leave a comment

Guilty Me

written by Tom Flannery and Bret Alexander
download mp3

Bret Alexander – Vocals, guitars
Tom Flannery – vocals, guitar
recorded in quarantine from our separate bunkers

They say now’s the time for love
when the pushes turn to shoves
guilty me guilty me guilty me
build it up or burn it down
learn what matters in this town
guilty me guilty me guilty me

Some kind of war to cleanse the sin
that each and every one of us were born in
swept away by the tide
trying to reach the other side 
guilty me

Out of time or out of touch
I’m not sure it matters much
guilty me guilty me guilty me
who’s to say or who’s to blame
either way it ends the same
guilty me guilty me guilty me

There was a song
you had to learn
like a child you sing along as cities burn
it spoke of light at tunnel’s end
you irritate me my friend
guilty me

Some will try to keep us down
try to turn this ship around
guilty me guilty me guilty me
well I’ve taken all I can
it’s high time to be a man
guilty me guilty me guilty me

What have I done what can I do
that will make this a better place for me and you
I don’t know how we’ll make it thru
but I’m busting thru with you
guilty me

Categories: Uncategorized

Quarantine Diaries – Day 99 (a little push)

June 23, 2020 Leave a comment

It’s getting to the point where I’m no fun anymore.

Stephen Stills wrote those words over 50 years ago.

They seem particularly relevant now.

We’ve had a nice stretch of weather. I like to sit out on the front stoop late at night and ponder. Enjoy a beverage. Watch the cars as they fly down the road, in a hurry to go nowhere. Always with a soundtrack for company. New Dylan record. Latest from Joe Henry. My homemade Tragically Hip playlist. I love the Drive-By Truckers at times like these. And Jason Isbell. There’s that latest Neil Young I’ve been meaning to get to. Maybe tonight if the storms don’t finally roll through. That’s what they’re calling for. A few good days in a row are all we can hope for ’round here.

My cat roams outside most days….and she’ll appear out of nowhere like an apparition, and perch herself on the front stoop and join me in my surveying. She’s pretty inscrutable. Based on her past, I’m not sure I’d want to read her mind. But she seems a bit out of sorts lately as well. These last few months seem to have cut down on her wandering. She doesn’t venture as far, or for as long. We used to fret about getting her inside before closing up for the night. Now, she’s right by the door. She’s seems over this shit, and needs her bed.

Behind me in the house is all that I hold dear. All that I love and treasure. All that I would kill and die for. And even so, times like these can make me feel like a fraud. I should be stronger. But I’m not.

Lincoln called it “the tired spot”. Churchill and Nick Drake wrote and sang of “the black dog”. And how many men and women with guitars have articulated the blues? How it can descend on you with little warning, and hang around for days or weeks at a time. Our county “opens” on Friday, which I suppose is a good thing, especially for the businesses that have been hurt so bad by the shutdown. But the virus numbers coming in are pretty dire. A second wave is just about inevitable. If we were all vigilant, masked, and distance conscious, we might weather it. But we’re not. So it’ll be the difference between lighting a match, and lighting the matchbook. To defeat this thing requires overwhelming force……everybody pulling in the same direction. In 2020? That’s impossible. Even with people dying. The lack of empathy is staggering. It breaks the heart. So more will die. Needlessly. Americans fighting Americans…..a little mini civil war.

And so it goes. I pretend to be ok just about all of the time, but I’m not ok. And neither are you. We’re scared and nervous and pissed off and feeling pissed on.

protesters-try-to-topple-andrew-jackson-statue-near-white-house-062220The injustices were always there. Scabbed over. These last few months have ripped the scab off, and the nation is freely bleeding out. We need something and somebody to salve the wound. But instead we get buckets of salt tossed into it. So it festers. But all the while the young learn more and more about the things that were skipped over in history class. That our founding fathers were not made of granite. That even our nation’s national anthem was written by a man who owned other human beings. That the civil war was (and is) more than a chapter in an outdated history book….and that it didn’t settle things by a long shot. It’s no secret that a map of the confederacy and a map of current red states looks frightfully similar. And most importantly, that none of this newfound knowledge means much if the generation we failed decides to stay home in November.

As statues continue to tumble, it’s ironic that the movement is being accused of trying to suppress history, as if lionizing men like Robert E Lee and Andrew Jackson hadn’t done that for generations already.

So one side moves….and the other entrenches. All in the midst of a pandemic that won’t go away, no matter how many times the president clicks his heels together and chants “there’s no place like Tulsa….there’s no place like Tulsa…” Our kids are about to head out, piling into school buses and classrooms and dorm rooms, all in the name of defeating something by pretending that it’s already been counted out. That keeps me up nights. I haven’t slept in 99 days. And I don’t see any sleep coming over the horizon. Despite the tired spot.

Change is inevitable. Most prefer it so sneak up on them…..the way our Iphones improve, or how we no longer have to use a dial-up modem.

But sometimes change requires what we’re used to being torn down….and that scares folks. But it shouldn’t. Some things just need a little push.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Quarantine Diaries – Day 94 (how deep can we dive?)

June 18, 2020 Leave a comment

200618095730-coronavirus-model-florida-6-18-vpx-exlarge-169Covid-19 cases are spiking around the country. Which is not really a surprise to anybody who has been paying attention to anything behavioral or virus-related over the last few months. Or one who has a basic grasp of past history.

There’s no vaccine…..so there’s that. Maybe there will be? Soon? Nobody knows. Such things take time. Until there is…everybody is gonna have to remain vigilant. Look out for yourselves and those around you.

But….well….you know….

The virus was losing steam because folks were home, and following the guidelines being set by people who know a lot more about such things than the rest of us do. Masks. Social distancing whenever possible. Avoiding large crowds. This is really not rocket science.

The President and his crew can say the virus is gone all they want. But it’s not gone. And at his next rally, in which he’ll surely laugh off such alarmist talk to arouse the tiny-dicks, he’s forcing all attendees to sign a waiver to promise not to hold him responsible if in fact they do get sick. Only a nation as staggeringly dumb as ours can shrug off  stuff like this with a “ggggrrrr….MAGA!…”

(By the way….interesting that his first covid-rally is being held in Oklahoma…..a state that probably had of grand total of 6 people vote for Hillary in 2016, but only because they couldn’t read the ballot. Make no mistake….this is nothing more than a Presidential gang-bang. The drop-lets will be a-flowing….)

The massive protests against police brutality against African Americans that have broken out all over our nation are inspiring for sure. And unstoppable, really. But viruses don’t care about social causes, no matter how just they are. So it is what it is. Undoubtedly these gatherings are contributing to the resurgence of the cases. Both show no signs of relenting anytime soon.

And then of course, perhaps most insidious of all, are those who just don’t give a shit. They ain’t wearing a mask (many, though not all, protesters are), they’re getting right into your grill to make sure you know they ain’t gonna wear a mask because “grrrr my rahts Freedumb…grrrr” They are convinced they ain’t gonna die because the President doesn’t wear a mask and Jesus and Robert E. Lee statues are protecting them from this hoax, and they really don’t give a shit if you die or not. They’re just gonna own the libs, and that’s that. Not sure how far they’re gonna take this “my rahts” stuff. What’s next? Shopping naked because the store can’t force you to wear pants? These are the same folks who considered it entirely okio-dokio for bakeries to refuse to sell cakes to gay couples. The hypocritical dumbfuckery on display is lost in a fog of casual cruelty. It’s like a third of the nation suddenly woke up with the self awareness of Ivanka Trump.

A unmasked-Trumpian sheriff in Arizona who declared that he would refuse to enforce any measures put on the books to stop the spread of the virus, has now tested positive. Cases in Arizona have increased 31% in one week. Anybody see any connection? Portions of other states that waved everybody in are now slamming the doors shut again. Florida has more positive cases than ever. 3200 in a single 24 hour period. A single re-opened bar infected 16 patrons in one night. The bar subsequently closed down. Again. And so it goes.

The governor of Pennsylvania has been recognized by the CDC as one of 3 governors in the nation who have seen a decrease in cases for 42 days in a row.

As thanks for this, Republicans want him impeached.

In Asia, people who come down with a common cold frequently don a mask, out of concern for their fellow humans.

Americans? Yea, not so much.

The other side of all this, of course…..is without some sort of massive government relief effort, many of us just ain’t gonna make it. Businesses have already shut down. Others are hanging on for dear life. Another shutdown is the final stomp on the fingers. Bars. Restaurants. Movie theaters. Concert halls. Salons. Independent contractors of all stripes. All of them, on life support. They cannot sustain themselves in the midst of a virulent virus like Covid-19. They need the kind of monetary infusion that is normally reserved for Wall Street. So far at least, they haven’t gotten it. If history is any guide, we might not let big bank fail, but local businesses are on their own. Because….”grrrr…socialjzzzzzm….grrr…”

How deep into this can we dive without not being able to hold our breath any longer?

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Quarantine Diaries – Day 92 (fantasy land)

June 16, 2020 Leave a comment

Just trying to keep my head above water. Working. Writing. Playing. Singing. Collaborating. Walking. Talking with my kids. Playing with my dog. Trying not to look out the window. It’s dark out there.

I’ve been working from home, and every morning I log in and check the news. Inevitably the various outrages of the previous 24 hours slap me in the face like a Monty Python fish. Even the occasional good news…..an astounding NASA mission or a historic Supreme Court win for the LGBGT community, seems to quickly get swallowed up by a relentless barrage of shitiness.

I keep thinking we’re better than this, but what if we aren’t?

We move forward, and then we forget that we’re standing on one of those airport conveyors…..and everything gets rolled back as we slap each other on the back. And then the same bad things happen, and we can’t believe we have to fight the same battle all over again. The truth is increasingly harder to get at, and people divided from each other tend to only look for what buttresses their own world views. So in a way, the truth has become almost irrelevant. Certainly that’s true of the President and his supporters. Headlines aren’t driven by the smartest, they’re driven by the loudest. And the loudest sells the most product.

CovidDr. Fauci has been shrugged aside as the pandemic rages on. He’s too reasoned. Too steady. He doesn’t rant or rave or deal in conspiracy theories. He gives his best medical opinion, which has increasingly become something that nobody wants to hear anymore. Lock downs are unofficially over…..social distancing and masks have largely become a thing of the past. Large gatherings are everywhere. Protests. Political rallies. Malls. Or just backyard yahoos. Schools are opening up in the fall. Fauci has been shelved because he keeps saying “but….but….”

It’s been a tidal wave fuckthisitis, and he stood there long enough to get washed away.

We won’t admit it out loud but most seemed to have made the collective decision that some folks are just gonna have to get over it and die, because nobody can sustain another round of being bunkered up for months at a time. Money runs out. Patience runs out. Mental health runs out. You get tired of looking to the horizon for the cavalry. There’s no leadership out of Washington. States are on their own. Cities and towns are on their own.

It’s both understandable, and slightly appalling at the same time. It is, no matter how you try to spin it, survival of the fittest from now on. Covid-19 has uprooted some pretty nasty stuff about our natures.

There’s still marching in the streets. People finding energy from years of being tired. Tired of being treated differently because of the color of their skin. And more and more white people are standing alongside them now. It’s not our fight, but maybe it should have been all along. For generations most of us did not engage in outward discrimination, but we did turn away. We snickered at the crass jokes. Or shared some ourselves. Is there much difference anymore? To me that’s what these protests are about in 2020. That’s why the statues are being torn down. The old excuses are coming down as well. If you won’t stand up for the rights of others, what right have you to demand these rights for yourself?

Everybody wants “normal” again. But normal is what got us here. Surely that will no longer do, right?

Healing requires human touch. Closeness. Eye to eye. Cheek to cheek. And yet here we are, bobbing and weaving, some staying away out of fear, and others in our faces because of hate. It’s been the most extraordinary year of our lives…..and nobody has any idea how any of this is going to end. All we can seemingly agree on is that we want it to.

But first, the summer will roll on relentlessly. Heat and storms and ice cream cones and barbecues and flag waving. There’s nothing to distract us anymore. No baseball or NBA playoffs…..no Sunday afternoon Tiger Woods rally or highlight-packed evening Sportscenter. So we just sit and stew, trying to pretend things are getting back to normal when we know damn well they are not.

Before we know it the leaves will turn…the kids will be back in school. And it’s a wait and see game from there. What happens if the kid next to you in class, or the girl down the hall in your dorm, tests positive? What happens if a teacher does? Do you shut it all down? Send everybody home? Hold your breath?

Or do you just say….”good luck kids….please turn to chapter 13…”

To not expect these scenarios is to be living in a fantasy land. But then again perhaps that’s the one most of us prefer to be in right now.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

King’s Highway (with John Ginty)

June 15, 2020 Leave a comment

King’s Highway
written by Tom Flannery
download mp3

Tom Flannery – guitar, vocals, harmonica
John Ginty – piano, organ

When history bounces off the head
we’re left with all this shit instead
boarded up dollar stores
tiki torches and shameless whores
black is white night is day
broke down on the king’s highway
on the king’s highway

Distant drums and marching shoes
from Boston to the Charleston blues
loved and lost and never learned
set the fire and watched it burn
all that talk nothing to say
broke down on the king’s highway
on the king’s highway

King’s highway is where I’ll make my stand
a back road thru this promised land
on the king’s highway
on the king’s highway

Bad news always flows downhill
it finds a way when it finds the will
we take what’s good and we shout it down
and drive the have-nots out of town
I wanna die right where I lay
broke down on the king’s highway
on the king’s highway

There ain’t no signs to say you’re there
when there ain’t no rules I guess that makes it fair
on the king’s highway

Categories: Uncategorized

Mountains High and Rivers Deep (new song with Bret Alexander)

June 14, 2020 Leave a comment

 

Mountains High and Rivers Deep

written by Tom Flannery and Bret Alexander
download mp3

Bret Alexander – Vocals, guitars
Tom Flannery – guitar
recorded in quarantine from our separate bunkers

There are fights worth losing when days go by
and all you hear is children cry
so you draw a line is somebody’s sand
with no deviation from the master plan
you stare into the eyes of those
who dress the wolf in them silly clothes
and watch your children as they sleep
dreaming mountains high and rivers deep

Orwell back in 84
drunk as a monkey on the dance floor
daring us all to sing along
with the same words for every song
lock us out or lock us in
punish the sinner but not the sin
watch your babies as they sleep
dreaming mountains high and rivers deep

Peaceful hearts ain’t loud enough
when it gets time to call their bluff
no more wait and see
’till they bury me
help me up I’ve had enough

Seen it all but you ain’t seen this
you take notes I’ll keep a list
of everyone who let us down
starting brush fires all over town
who to believe and who to trust
what are they gonna say about us
watch your babies as they sleep
dreaming mountains high and rivers deep
dreaming mountains high and rivers deep

Categories: Uncategorized

Quarantine Diaries – Day 87 (flags and statues and NASCAR oh my)

June 11, 2020 Leave a comment

Do we really have to do this rebel flag gibberish AGAIN?

Each time I think we’ve reached a nadir of dumbness, my fellow Americans lift me up forcibly and carry me to the edge of a hole they’ve just dug, and it’s already been filled to the brim with even more stupid.

My life these days is like being locked in a room with Talkback-16 on an endless loop. The stupidness is stupefying.

I mean….NASCAR is Bubba Central, dude. And even they are fed up with the garish spectacle of overweight sun-burnt goobers waving a pro-slavery terrible-towel. It’s like the NRA saying “you know what, you’re right…..people don’t kill people, guns kill people”.

When Walter Cronkite came back from a Viet Nam trip and shit-talked the war, President Johnson knew the walls were closing in..”If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America” is what he famously said.

Well Bubba’s……this is your Cronkite moment.

This is your wake-up call. Look around you. There’s nobody left. All you have is that pointy-headed pillow-case with the eye holes in it that your Daddy left you in his will. And the skunked Natty-Ice in the fridge.

The civil war is over. 618,222 men died. The south lost. Slavery was abolished. If you don’t believe me, you can look it up. It was in all the papers. And I’m pretty sure a book or two has been written about it. They may even mention it in history class.

If you live in a state that attempted to secede from the union and you still jizz on the flag, you’re a racist dolt but can at least take comfort in the fact that there are plenty of folks in northern states with dead union soldier ancestors who every night before bed wrap themselves up in the flag that killed great great great granddaddy, so you are not quite at the bottom of the gene pool. Congratulations on that at least.

Waving that flag is you having a conversation inside your own head….

“I don’t like black people but I can’t say I don’t like black people because people will think I’m racist which I’m not because I went to school with Luther and he was black so that means I’m not by default but still ALL LIVES MATTER dude…..FREEBIRD!! ain’t nobody gonna tell me that I can’t watch the Dukes of Hazzard whenever I want to…so I’m gonna OWE ME SOME LIBS so you try to pull this here flag from my cold dead hands Hoover boy!!!”

Which roughly translates into “MAGA” because in 2020 big long words are definitely elitist and fake news.

Guess how many Nazi flags you see flying at German racetracks? You don’t see any. Because fuck the Nazis. You see what I’m saying?

Now, how many statues of Wilheim II and Hitler do we have in the US? How many of Emperor Hirohito? If the names don’t ring a bell there’s always google. We don’t have any. Because we fought wars against them. And we won those wars. We don’t erect statues for losers.

Except for, you know….

davisSpeaking of statues of losers, those are coming down. General Lee is being trolled HARD in Richmond, and just last night Jefferson Davis was vanquished by Yankees yet again, ripped from his pedestal and left lying in the middle of the road. Does this mean that when I go to the library all the books about Lee and Davis will suddenly be gone, having been wiped clean by those big meanies from ANTIFA? It does not. When somebody makes the argument that getting rid of the flag and the statues equates to “erasing history”, I instantly suspect that they’ve never read a book in their fucking lives. If these people were on debating teams they’d be tasked only with making sure the actual participants had water. I just can’t anymore.

We should never stop studying the Civil War. And its slavery-supporting leaders. Lee. Davis. Their rationalizations and prejudices and at time political and military genius. Museums and libraries and classrooms should echo with the fog of this war. All so that the lessons learned can be those that appeal to the better angels of our nature, so that we do not tumble into a like cataclysm again.

You’d think the one thing we could agree on, in a time when we’re extra busy trying to out-patriot each other, is that traitors to the United States should not be lionized. You would of course be wrong.

No military general in our nation’s history has been responsible for more American deaths than Robert E Lee. Can you imagine an Erwin Rommel University? But Washington and Lee University in Virginia has a $1.6 billion dollar endowment. Only in America.

Lincoln once said “Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.”

How much strain can passion endure?

In a bit…

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Quarantine Diaries – Day 84 (rally)

June 8, 2020 1 comment

It was time.

My girls had already been to two local BLM rallies. They’ve always been on the right side of history. They’ve stood up when standing up was called for. Women’s March. March for Our Lives. And now again. They don’t sit on the sideline. They’re vocal. They get involved. They try to change things and they do it by example.

There was another rally this weekend. In Carbondale. My oldest asked me to come. So I grabbed a mask and we drove up together. I’d never really been to rallies like this before. She was in the lead here……I was following. She had the signs……she reminded me to bring extra water….suggested where to park……what time we should arrive. All of it.

Carbondale is 96% white. One percent of its residents are African Americans. It has never been known as the liberal capital of NEPA….and for pretty good reasons. There’s an old valley joke that the best thing to ever come out of Carbondale was an emtpy bus, but that used to sting a bit because my Dad was born there!

But you get the idea.

You can’t tell me that a change ain’t gonna come. If it was happening here, it can happen anywhere.

On the drive she told me about all the facebook chatter of the rally being broken up by rabid, armed anti-protesters…..wild-eyed redhats marching over them hills. All sorts of armchair Trump lovers were making all sorts of online threats, and as a result there promised to be a large police presence. I wasn’t that concerned, telling her that cowards are the ones who threaten publicly. No radio chatter at all is what truly frightens. Or the whispered intelligence of a certain few. But still, hearing all this made me glad she wasn’t attending alone. You just never knew.

We were one of the first ones there. About 30 minutes before it was set to start. In a nicely shaded park directly in front of the town police station. I was wearing a black Bob Marley t-shirt, and immediately saw a guy wearing the exact same one. We caught each other’s eye at the same time…..and that’s how I met the Mayor of Forest City, a lovely man from the Bahamas who regaled me with about 20 fascinating stories in 15 minutes. From hobnobbing with the Marley’s themselves to the emotional day in Philadelphia years ago when he was officially declared a US citizen. I could have talked to the guy all day. Everybody kept saying “hello Mayor” and I was thinking it was a nickname or something and that’s when he told me it was indeed earned. And he gave me his card.

Forest City, you’re in damn fine hands with Mayor Glinton.

The park was filling up……black, white, young, old. Nothing truly out of the ordinary until 2 heavily armed open-carry dudes arrived…..and it was kinda jolting to see. But more than the guns strapped to their chests and under their armpits (initially I assumed they were toys…..they were not), folks were more amazed that they were clearly on OUR side. It was bizarro world. Everybody sorta shrugged and that was that. We’re clearly not in Kansas anymore.

There was a series of speakers. With no sound system or megaphone, it was hit or miss. Some were pros at this, and you could hear them across the street. Others seemed to be self conscious and almost whispering…..and nobody could hear a word. A few stood out. A young girl, maybe 6, perched on her Mom’s shoulders. “My life matters!” she said. Loud and clear. “My life matters!” A young black woman gave an impassioned speech on the racism she’d faced as a child of mixed-race parents. Two black men exhorting, pleading…..that they’d had enough. And finally an extraordinary moment. The young organizer of the event invited the Carbondale Chief of Police to speak. About the whitest looking guy in the history of white looking white people.

The cops were unobtrusive. On the fringes of the crowd. They’d heard the rumors too, and the organizers made repeated reminders that they were there not really there because of us, but for us. To protect us.

carbondale_chiefBut a few in the crowd were having none of it. Maybe 3 or 4 white guys. Anti-police signs. Shouting down the chief as he tried to speak. Things got really uncomfortable really fast. Some in the crowd tried to talk them down, and were met with curses and snarls. This thing could be over before we marched anywhere. All it would take was one shove….one punch. And this was infighting…..nothing to do with the dreaded hordes who promised to crash the party at all. I almost laughed to myself. Progressives once again bashing each other over the head over the pesky details.

A black woman stood up, one of the organizers……and stared them down. She was clearly out of shits to give. The chief was a guest, her guest, and as far as she was concerned, if they didn’t want to listen to him they could fuck off and go home. And then the most extraordinary thing happened.

Maybe 10 folks, all black, formed a half circle in front of the chief, and kneeled in protective formation. A human shield. And that was that. The taunting stopped. I’m probably making it out to be a bigger deal than it was. I mean….the chief was never in any danger or anything like that…not with half the force across the street. But still. It was something I never thought I would see in 2020 America. And it made my fucking day. It really did. I wish I’d taken a picture. It might win awards.

The chief spoke. Forceful. Eloquent. What we were seeing on TV was not him…..not his department. It wasn’t all cops. It was a malignant minority. And we listened, And no matter what you felt about the institution of policing…even if you didn’t want to admit it you knew that all of them weren’t that guy with his knee on the neck of George Floyd. Maybe too many of them were….but it wasn’t all of them. And it wasn’t the Chief of Carbondale, PA

And so we marched. Hundreds of us. Throughout the town. Chanting. Words familiar now to all. No justice, no peace. Say his name. And a half dozen others. There was no hint of violence. There was no menace. That had all been dissipated. And there was no counter protesters. Not a single one. Cars held up honked in solidarity. People on their porches raised their fists. The day was hot. It was sticky. But it was also remarkably cool. Even when I looked to my right and discovered I’d been marching alongside my armed boyos nearly the entire time.

I’ve got strong opinions. I’m not shy about sharing them. But I’m no firebrand. I take people one at a time, and if I sense an aura of goodness, I’ll extend a hand.

The protesters and the police, on this day at least, were a window into where we’ve been, and where we could get to. In the overall scheme a things, our little rally was beyond insignificant, but at the time, for every one of us, it was what real democracy looks like.

In a bit…

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized