Category Archives: observation

Pat Buchanan says Trump might win. Pat who, you say?

In a recent interview, citing wide-spread discontent among the white working class, Pat Buchanan said that Trump might just win this election.

You remember Pat Buchanan don’t you? You don’t?

This election has been more about the media deciding what we should be thinking rather than about the issues or even the candidates.

They have artfully succeeded in turning this race — between a pompous ass who will say anything to get attention and an extremely qualified candidate who’s main sins are her husband, that she’s a woman, and a politician — into a horse race where the pompous ass might just win.

Yet this same phenomenon is true in most elections, it’s just that this year, with Trump as a candidate, it seems even more untenable and over the top.

The media has dumbed everything down to the 3rd grade level, “Trump said what?” is on the first page.

Editor’s comments: “What Trump said is a lie.” are buried much later reserved for the small minority who are not just passing by.

Buried still further, but you really have to dig for it: “Most of what Trump says is a lie, well 80% or so at least. At least!”

And then the next day, almost the same headline. And the same buried analysis.

This is not done in the service of the public, or even to dumb us down as that already seems to have happened. What it does do is make for a good story that even a child could grasp: i.e. He said, she said with no pretense of the most rudimentary character judgments or even the facts. It grabs eyeballs. It’s easy to understand. And most importantly it sells advertising.

So who is Pat Buchanan you ask?

Pat Buchanan was a senior aid to Presidents Nixon through Reagan. He was the original host of CNN’s Crossfire. He ran for president in 92, 96 and 2000. He has been a contributor on CNN, MSNBC and now with Fox. In his hey-day he was considered somewhat of a right wing extremist, but now post-Tea-Party and Post-Trump, he seems a little less extreme, even though his views have not changed.

But how much of what Pat Buchanan says is simply to say something or say anything? Just like Trump says anything. Just like most of the rest of the media seem to just be saying anything.

So, simply stated, you should listen to Pat because he is still speaking.  He still has a platform and a megaphone. He’s been a commentator for so many years that now he’s famous just for being famous.

And he thinks Trump could win. It makes a good story. At least it got him another interview didn’t it?

why I don’t want to live on this planet any more

First they came for the proofreaders… (why I don’t want to live on this planet any more)

So I saw this cute shirt. Just one problem, well maybe two.

First problem may seem minor but it’s actually really huge, because while the sentiments of this shirt might seem at first to be clever and cute they are actually superficial and banal, if not just poorly thought out.

I mean can’t you come up with anything better than “I don’t want to live here anymore?” What next, are you going to cry about it? Do you think you are the first one to come up with the idea of escaping reality by claiming that the current reality is somehow beneath you? Like you don’t live in an entire culture that increasingly does nothing but try to escape?

Bad show I say. Instead why don’t you get truly clever and come up with a slogan that instills in young children the need to take more civic responsibilty? Then maybe in another 20 years or so we could start to dig our heads out of our asses, take some responsibility for what’s going on and not be quite in such a mess that we find ourselves in now.

Second problem, who the hell did the proofreading? Don’t you see it?

Dear “very clever shirt-makers”: if you have the audacity to put Trump and Clinton in the same category, at least give a shit about your stupid shirt enough to spell Hillary’s name right.

Which leads me to another tangent:

First they came for the Proofreaders, and I did not speak out,
Because I was not a Proofreader.

With such faith in spell check, soon we’ll all be riding in self-driving cars and then why not self-driving helicopters, drones and nuclear substations. Hey, the whole world could be put on auto pilot. And then how far off are we from having Governmentgoogle?

But I digress…

Revealing my sources…

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out,
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out,
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out,
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.

three almost new things about the subway this summer

  1. Door standers
    More people who stand in front of the doors and won’t move to let you on or off.
    Not really new, it just seems more prevalent this year and they seem more brazen like standing wherever they want is a right not a privilege.
  2. Pee smell
    This really isn’t new either, but it’s still trending and the pee smell keeps moving from station to station. I guess the urinators are on the move too. I wonder if they walk while they pee.
    Tips for people who pee in the subway: Avoid the third rail.
    Tips for Riders: When a subway car is empty, there’s usually a reason and that reason is often, but not always, a pee smell that reeks to high heaven.
  3. Fans
    Still no fans on the platforms. Not even on the hottest days. Didn’t they read the memo I sent?

Trump or country

The Republican National Convention turned into a successful Trumpfest after all. This had been in doubt for many reasons. So many invited speakers had declined to accept, so many establishment types had attached significant disclaimers to their support, failed to endorse him at all, or had even spoken out against him. And then there was always the possibility that the pledged delegates would mutiny and attempt to throw him out.

There are many reasons Trump has been snubbed by his fellow Republicans. Some clearly reject him because they see him as a buffoon, certain to lose and drag down the rest of the ticket. Still others profess high-mindedness and argue that Trump doesn’t measure up to their standards. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said he can’t support Trump because of “Some of the things he said about women and about Muslims and about religious freedom….” LINK

Others see Trump as a loose cannon, as a danger to foreign diplomacy and national security. They have rejected him by professing that their love of country is greater than their allegiance to their party. Rep. Scott Riggel (R-VA):  wrote that, “My love of our country eclipse (sic) my loyalty to our party, and I will not support a nominee so lacking in the judgment, temperament and character needed to be our commander-in-chief. LINK 

Trump has engendered a level of animosity so strong that many Republicans have even chosen not to attend the nominating convention. Even Sarah Palin who was one of the first to endorse him, ultimately chose to stay away, because she said that Cincinnati was too far away. LINK

There is a long list of establishment Republicans who have refused to endorse Trump.
(SEE NOTE 1, below)

And when you look at the list of speakers who did speak at the RNC, most can be categorized as either:
1) newcomers seeking the national stage,
2) also-rans struggling for political relevance or
3) party leaders who more or less had to show up.
(SEE NOTE 2 below)

So there remains a shadow of doubt about how many of them were actually bona fide endorsers and how many just showed up for their own reasons. As a group they give the appearance of people simply falling in line.

Contrast this list with the list of pols who have refused to endorse. Rather than falling in line, the non-endorsers have chosen to stand apart. The non-endorsers most often share a stated sentiment: that in nominating Trump, their party has gone too far.

Even before the rise of Trump, moderate Republicans had started to become an endangered species. Over the last ten years or so, there has been a growing sense that the Republican party had become too extreme, that they had moved too far to the right, gone too far in their support of deregulation and big corporate donors and too far towards intolerance and xenophobia.

For moderates there was a growing sense that the party had left them behind. And many have changed their party affiliation or chosen to leave politics entirely. And this trend has dramatically increased since it became clear that Trump would be the nominee. LINK

And many who remain loyal, seem less interested in governing for the good of the average citizen than in their own political survival and their party’s cling to power. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who spoke at the convention shares the predispositions of this latter group in putting his party ahead of the country.  As Senate Majority leader, his stated goal was to make Obama a one term president by blocking and discrediting him at every turn. LINK

McConnell led the “party of No” in resisting useful reforms that could have helped many ordinary citizens during one of America’s worst economic downturns. As leader of the naysayers he thought that discrediting Obama would return his party to power and allow them to ultimately retake the presidency.  LINK 

And while many would-be voters did end up blaming Obama for the lack of progress in Washington, he nevertheless sailed to victory for a second term. Even so, McConnell stayed the course and has attempted to block Obama at every turn. Ask Mitch McConnell, what’s more important, the country or his party. If he says it’s the country, it’s only because he’s a good liar and can rely on most people’s deficit attention span.

In an earlier article, I stated that the reason why many Republicans had distanced themselves from Trump was because they feared that his plain-spokenness would expose the true nature of their party platform. That with Trump, it would become less of a secret that the party had veered to the right and could no longer hide its tendencies toward racism, xenophobia and misogyny. LINK

The party had been steadily mutating in this direction for many years. In the process, the question of party versus country has become almost moot. For in the mind of a true believer, the cause and outcome are inseparable, there can be no middle ground and no other way forward. Simply stated, only the Republican party can do what’s best for the country.

So it is only natural that ultimately most Republicans would rally around Trump. The alternative is unthinkable. In the mindset of the true believer, the party leads the country and not the other way around. The good of the party is the good of the country. This is a real lock-step moment. And all that was needed was a focal point and in some ways if could have been anyone. Trump may have not been their first choice, but they can live with that. They will make it work. He will just have to do.


Republicans who won’t support or endorse Trump (as of Jun 9, 2016)

Rep. Scott Riggel (R-VA):
Gov. John Kasich (R-OH)
Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA)
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL)
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Gov. Bruce Rauner (R=IL)
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)
Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC)
Rep. Scott Riggel (R-VA)
Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI)
Rep. Mark Hanna (R-NY)
Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD)
Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney
Former Florida Gov.: Jeb Bush
Former president: George H.W. Bush
Former president: George W. Bush


Republican Senators, Governors or Notables who spoke at the RNC

1) New Comers (in office less than a full term)
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AK)
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WS)

2) Struggling for relevance
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) (former Presidential Candidate)
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WS) (former Presidential Candidate)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (former Presidential Candidate)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (former Presidential Candidate)
Rudy Giuliani (former Presidential Candidate)
Newt Gingrich (former Presidential Candidate)
Jerry Falwell Jr.

3) Ceremonial (had to speak)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (Senate majority leader)
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WS) (speaker of the United States House of Representatives)
Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) (Republican vice-presidential nominee)
Reince Priebus (chairman of the Republican National Committee)

Doesn’t seem to fit the other categories
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (in office since 1997)


Trump in the Republican rear view mirror

Donald Trump has engendered a level of revulsion previously not thought possible in a presidential candidate. And it’s surprising how so much of this ill will emanates not from the opposition but directly from the Republican party.

One must wonder, what do so many Republicans see in Trump that terrifies them so? Some Republicans will argue that Trump is so flawed that he is unfit to be president. That their love for the country is more important than their allegiance to the party. They might say that Trump is beneath them, that their party is better than that, that they profess to be a party of principle, tolerance and equality. So how could Donald possibly represent them?

When we look at Trump’s rhetoric we see a character who is xenophobic, racist, misogynist, pro-business, uber-capitalist and anti-regulation. But how different are these sentiments from the prevailing Republican world-views of our times? Let’s compare just a few items, just for fun.

THE WALL (xenophobia and racism)
Factions of the Republican coalition have wanted to build the wall for just about forever. It’s just that most of them have been better wordsmiths and called it “border security”. Fear of invasion from the south has been an important Republican niche issue for a long time. And before it was fear of Hispanics, it was fear of other new comers. Certain Republicans have always seemed big on fomenting fear of the “other”, whoever the “others” might be at the time.

We have always been a nation of immigrants, but have also always been a nation of racism. It’s always been easy to get people upset about some other group coming to take away their jobs or change their way of life. Certain Republicans have always been keen to exploit this fear. And have used it effectively as a niche issue to help them cling to power.

So the establishment Republicans who now boo Donald should just give him a pass on “The Wall”. Same message as before, just way more blunt coming from him.

FEAR MONGERING (more xenophobia and racism)
Republicans have succeeded in branding themselves as the party of national security. This strategy has worked hand in hand with exploiting the “fear of the other”.

After 911, it was easy to paint all Muslims as the enemy and this fear undoubtedly became a part of the unspoken rationale for going to war. The lead up to the war in Iraq was particularly troubling because it was entirely based on exploiting the public’s fear. The public was fed fudged intelligence reports hyping the idea that at any moment Saddam was ready to strike with weapons of mass destruction. And an overwhelming percentage of the Americans bought into this idea and agreed that we needed to invade. The fact that Iraq was a Muslim country made these arguments even more persuasive.

Trump is not the first Republican to fan the flames of fear and paint Muslims as the enemy. Since 911, fomenting the fear of all things Muslim might just as well be a part of the official Republican plank.

So the naysayers should give the Donald a pass on “Fear Mongering” too. He may not be as articulate, but essentially he’s saying the same thing that other Republicans have been saying for years.

WOMEN (misogyny)
It’s pretty clear that Trump doesn’t like women much. If you are a woman and you speak out against Trump you can almost rely on him to retaliate by insulting the way you look. According to Donald, women are all basically just gold diggers who can only get ahead with their sex appeal. And nowhere does Trump suggest that women have any other value than their looks and their duty to please men.

This is also the view of a particular niche of the Republican coalition that is comprised of men who actually fear women as equals. These are the same men that oppose women’s rights to control their own bodies even to the extent of putting the interests of an unborn child (read the interests of the father) over the interests of the woman. And here there is an undeniable connection to the notion of an ideal Christian family where men reign supreme and the sole purpose of women is to bear children and please  men.

So dissenters should give Donald a pass on his brand of “misogyny” too. He’s not that far off from the rest of the Republican flock.

These are just a few of Donald’s core beliefs, some which establishment Republicans seem most keen to distance themselves from. It would seem that Trump shares more similarities than differences with important factions of the Republican coalition. So, why do establishment Republicans fear him so?

I think the obvious answer is simply that they are afraid that he will expose them. By putting some of their core “values” into plain English, Trump has done a huge disservice to the Republican party. In being so blunt, he has exposed much of their worldview to be angry, racist, misogynist, reactionary, plutocratic, not to mention sometimes just damn poorly thought out.

And also (at least in theory) he has done the rest of us a big favor. By putting some aspects of the Republican world view into plain English, some of their ideas just start to sound bat-shit crazy. So no wonder Republicans fear him. He stands to expose the real agendas they have worked so hard to gloss over for so many years.

What they see in the mirror and what scares them most is their own reflection.
And they didn’t even see themselves coming.

another reason we don’t like Trump

Trump bills himself as this genius businessman developer. But his design taste has a lot to be desired.

I’ve never been inside, but from the outside Trump’s properties look cheap and tacky. The poor signage says so much about the man.

Certainly nothing special about this facade. Looks like the cheapest of everything, except perhaps the sconces. It just evokes a huge feeling of blah.
Nothing says cheap-ass better than a cheap-ass broken sign. (Notice that the counter (inside) of the “O” in TOWER has fallen off.)

The man can’t even make a decent sign. Is this really who you want running the country?

vote Bernie: nothing’s stopping you now

End of Democratic Primary Means Anyone Who Ever Wanted to Can Now Vote for Bernie Sanders

This article convincingly states that since the Democratic primary (as declared by the media, the Democratic Party, and the Hillary Campaign) has effectively been over for months and months, that it’s now OK for everyone to vote for Bernie. This all to make the party platform more legitimate by giving Bernie more power at the convention, mend fences and get the young people (that Hillary failed to excite) out to the polls in November.

So if you haven’t had your primary yet, you can still make your vote really count by voting for Bernie. It just makes too much sense.

that irritating (Bernie) (Hillary) Donald supporter

After the Bernie rally, I approached what was left of the crowd just to feel the vibe. I was soon waved down by my neighbor who was there with a friend. My neighbor thought Bernie’s speech was interesting.

And her friend chimed in “But I wonder whether he’s really qualified to be president.” (This was one of Hillary’s most recent talking points.)

In our conversation, my neighbor shuddered at the thought of a Trump presidency which she saw as the worst of all possible evils. She wondered who would do better against Trump, Hillary or Bernie. I told her, that actually Bernie had polled better against Trump.

My neighbor’s friend said that it was fine to talk about the changes Bernie wanted to make, “but how was he actually going to make any of that happen?”

I told her that I felt, “At the very least it was time to start having a conversation about changing the status quo.” “In the aftermath of the 2007 financial crisis,” I said “there was very little attempt to fix the system.” “Dodd-Frank was just a band aid on a system that needed to be completely reformed.” “Wasn’t it time to start holding people accountable?”, I asked.

“Yea, yea, yea,” my neighbor’s friend said, “but that’s what Bernie just said, I already heard that.” She pivoted, clearly irritated and said, “As a woman, I just think it’s time to have a woman President.”

“I can understand why you would feel that way,” I said. “It’s really wrong that we’ve never had a woman president, but it’s also time to think about changing the status quo of our unequal economic system.”

And she pivoted again and blurted out, “I just can’t deal with this now.” And she quickly turned to leave. My neighbor, followed her, even though she had seemed to be enjoying our discussion. In an attempt to close out our conversation, my neighbor turned and said, “Let’s all say a big prayer for the country.”

In this year’s New York primary, I’ve seen this same scenario play out dozens of times in slightly different ways. I’ve worn a Bernie shirt in my hood and got many puzzled looks from my neighbors. I’ve knocked on doors for the Bernie campaign and gotten looks like: “Why are you here? Isn’t Hillary the nominee? Can you please go away?” And people who I’ve known for years have abruptly ended conversations and indicated that to question the inevitability of Hillary’s candidacy would come to no good.

And by and large, the news media has taken much the same tact. No matter the result of each primary, each story seems to begin with a Hillary inevitability statement. And looking back, they took this tact even before the first vote was cast. And more recently Hillary’s surrogates and even Hillary herself have expressed extreme frustration that her candidacy could even contain a question mark, like it’s an absurdity that the primary process is even continuing.

If anyone deserves to be president, it’s Hillary. From a resume point of view, her qualifications, are more impressive than any of the other candidates. She has groomed herself for the Presidency to be her most impressive success in a long line of impressive successes. But still the notion that now it’s her turn, the notion that anyone actually deserves to be President is unsettling to me. And what perhaps bothers me most is that so many of her supporters share the view that her candidacy is inevitable, that now it’s simply her turn.

I have no doubt that Hillary will make a good president and help bring about progressive changes that I personally believe in. And I truly feel that it’s long past due that this country has had a woman president. But still I question if she’s really the one we need at this moment.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen very few moments that held the possibility of rapid progressive change, very few game changers that could change our core values, that could change the way we do business, that could give the status quo a really good shake. And in Bernie, with the excitement he has generated, not just in young people, but in a wide swath of the American fabric, I see such a game changer. In Bernie, I see a rare opportunity to effect something more than slow incremental change. And I feel a real need to seize this moment.

One wonders under what circumstances a Trump presidency could be possible. While my own crystal ball is rusty, I do know that Trump’s odds increase when his supporters begin to turn off their minds, to no longer check the facts, to forget the practical implications of Trump’s fantasy solutions as well as to dismiss the possibility that anyone else could be the candidate. At this point it’s easy to start blocking out inconvenient facts, like the rules of the primary process or that the nomination is not yet a done deal.

As a Democratic partisan, it’s tempting for me to believe that Trump’s supporters are simply uninformed. But because an important part of their psychology is their belief in the man rather than an analysis of his ideas, I’d have to concede that much the same thing is currently going on with Hillary supporters. Both camps seem to be marching lock-step behind their candidates and mentally blocking out any new information. This makes it easy for both sides to stop paying attention, to stop listening and yes to become steadily more uninformed.

In this political cycle, it’s disturbing that there are so many similarities in the way the faithful are supporting their front-runners. In my opinion, the same mental submissiveness that could be a gateway to a Trump presidency has a hold on far too many Hillary supporters. And history tells us that this type of blind support can easily lead to mistakes on a grand scale.

So Hillary supporters should at least take notice. They would do well to realize the extent that they are emulating the mindset of their opponents. And they need to find a way to keep their minds just a little more open, to exercise just a little more caution, and to express just little more humility. And while I concede that the path ahead for Bernie has become more of a long shot, the nomination is still not a done deal. So listen to me Hillary supporters, you need to find a way to “just deal with this now.”

And while we’re at it let’s take my neighbor’s advice and “Say a big prayer for the country.” Mere humans seem all too prone to making bad choices, even for what they truly believe are all of the right reasons.

why won’t you return my e-mails? part 2

In the last few weeks I’ve had occasion to send emails to a number of people that I’ve been out of touch with for some time. I was very shocked that I only got a less than a 5% response rate.

It’s true that I asked a few of my recipients for favors, like acting as my reference in an upcoming job hunt, so I can understand some hesitancy to respond. Still, I’ve known many of these people for years, some even for decades.

The near total lack of response was surprising, considering how well I thought I knew some of the recipients.  It was actually quite maddening, if not a bit depressing.

In trying to figure what happened, I got really reflective and wondered if somehow, I had wronged them all. Was I really being a jerk when I thought I was being nice? Was I completely misguided in how close I thought I once was to some of them?

I soon discovered that I was not alone in all of these feelings. It’s a definite trend that people don’t respond to emails, even from people that they know and like. And it drives everyone crazy,

One researcher noted, “We’ve seen an increase in the nonresponse rather than just politely declining. You delete it and hope it goes away, just like if someone comes to your door and you pretend you’re not home.”

Another writer noted that in some cases, that “No response is the new no.” But added this this is often not always true. He cited that “sometimes people would put aside an e-mail to give a longer, thoughtful reply later, but then waited too long and felt embarrassed to send it.” So there’s lots of possibilities.

It’s clear that unanswered e-mails cause everyone a great deal of anxiety. The most common suggestion for ways to get a response is to send a polite reminder. I sent reminders to my list and got a 20% response rate.

The next most common suggestion is just to accept that many people are just never going to respond.

My own personal theory is that in a culture where technology is moving faster than our brains, that we’re just too overwhelmed and busy multitasking to weed out the good from the bad. Perhaps spammers and endless ads everywhere have just inundated us to the point that we have begun to just ignore everything.

For another perspective, one writer asked several Buddhist monks, why they thought people didn’t respond to e-mails. The last of the responses came from a monk who responded that,

“Patience is the ability to end our expectations.”

How Buddhist of him.

And yet can someone really wait forever? On my third reminder, I told people how important they were to me. This increased by response rate to 60%.

So if you want to do it right, you can review this: E-mail Etiquette 101

But don’t miss this…

A wise person at the New Yorker put together a calendar for the whole year of why people don’t respond to e-mails.  Why the People You E-mailed Aren’t E-mailing You Back, by Week

This really explains so much. As for my own situation, I remain hopeful that the rest of the people on my list will still send me a response. Someday.

why won’t you return my e-mails? part 1

When I was a teenager, I used to talk to everyone I’d meet. One day I met some white middle class New Yorker Buddhist types who said that they chanted all day as a way to get whatever they needed or wanted. They would chant for their food and they’d get food. They’d chant for their cigarettes and they’d get cigarettes. (Yes they really used this example) Myself I was amused that the cosmic powers of the universe would be so kind. But after all, this was a pre-anti-tobacco-litigation era.

The chant these Buddhists used was

“Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”

Which roughly translated means that each person has the power to overcome any difficulty in life.

Recently I sent out a ton of e-mails to old friends and acquaintances and got almost no response. I found this very frustrating, if not a bit depressing.

So to be proactive I have devised my own chant to deal with this problem. It goes like this,

“Hey bro, don’t dis my email yo.”

Seems like many many people have this same problem. I’m hoping that that this might be of help to others.

Or for you purists out there, here is the traditional 24 minute chant.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo – 24 Minute Chant.

And the traditional 1 hour chant is here.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo – 1 Hour Daimoku – Chanting

Best of luck. I hope this helps.

lunar year of the fire monkey 2016

  • Firecracker Ceremony in Sarah D. Roosevelt Park

In 1997, former Mayor Gulliani banned firecrackers in Chinatown as part of his “broken windows” policing policy. Before the firecracker ban, during lunar new year, dragons would dance menacingly in front of storefronts until the owners came out to throw lit firecrackers at them. The dragons would then dance mockingly on top of the firecrackers and then go on to the next store front. In 2003 Mayor Bloomberg allowed the reintroduction of firecrackers at officially sanctioned events, giving us the firecracker ceremony in Sarah D. Roosevelt park.

The firecracker ceremony never starts on time because innumerable officials must give innumerable speeches to thank innumerable people in two languages. The firecrackers are strung on a high wire which is not quite high enough to let everyone see. But even with the wait and partial view, the firecracker ceremony is more than worth it for the the sound and the crowd.

After the firecracker ceremony we wandered through Chinatown, where dragons still danced in the streets and confetti filled the air. We looked in the shops, grabbed a bite to eat and tried to be respectful when we peeked into a few temples. It’s was an interesting and fun day.

R.I.P. Paul Kantner, Signe Anderson; January 28, 2016

kantner_andersonI was always a huge fan of Jefferson Airplane. But to me, Paul Kantner was just another one of the guys in the band. Because for me, it was always about Grace Slick who I had a huge crush on from the time I was fourteen.

I learned more about Paul when he and Grace got together in 1971 to make an album called Sunfighter and create a baby named China Wing Kanter. For someone only fourteen, Sunfighter seemed epic,  indeed a wondrous trip through rock, folk, history, animal instinct, overtones of imagined cannibalism, almost a whole other very strange world.

As for Signe Anderson, I wouldn’t have even known who she was had she not died on the same day as Kantner. I have since learned that she was the original singer for the Airplane but made the decision to leave when she learned she was pregnant. She continued to sing for the rest of her life, but never regained her chance at significant fame.

We should celebrate both Paul and Signe for being extremely brave people.

Paul just kept exploring, he kept pushing his music further, he tended to stay constructive, he saw the problems with the world, but yet believed that humanity would rise above it. He believed that one day we would ascend to the stars.

Signe for her part probably couldn’t see into the future any better than most of us, but she had the foresight to know what was most important. She had the wisdom to know that being a mother was more important than chasing after fame. That having a home was better for the child than being on the road. The strength to give up so much in favor of a simpler path, makes Signe seem to me as the braver of the two. And I think Paul was extremely brave.

The dead are never that far away. Thank you for your brave spirits. R.I.P. Signe and Paul!