Wednesday, September 2, 2020

#AMWRITING #BLOGGING - AMERICAN NAZI (REPOST)

NOTE: I started this on August 13, 2012 and for some reason never finished it; it needs to be told now, as all we seem to be lacking are the snappy jackboots, parades, and apparently, we don't even need someone who can hold an audience in his thrall for seven hours or chew rugs. . . yet.



One of my fascinations has always been history and current events; I've been wanting to blog about it. Just about any history will do. The unfortunate fact that I am starting with White Supremacy, American Style has a LOT to do with Charlottesville three years ago and my own uncomfortable experience several years ago, when Hartline #2 and #18 took me to the Doctor, while I still lived in Tampa. I was one of the few white people around, and I found myself looking at the day’s TBT, Tampa Bay Times**, a rather fine, free bird-cage liner, with that Wade Page shooter and a Swastika emblazoned on the article itself. Since I couldn’t very well stuff it in my mouth and didn’t have my backpack and a only a very small purse, I had to proudly carry it. I hate that kind of shit. As if, possession of a newspaper with a swastika implies that I, a fair-haired, blue-eyed person somehow approves of such goings on. Racial guilt.
** I recommend reading this article for a quick who's who, and what's what.

courtesy:nytimes.com      

Shooting outside Sikh mosque on August 7, 2012. 

Anyway, my headlong immersion into history began with a bath in the events leading up to WWII, via my own father, who lived some of them; but he himself was quite the armchair historian and we didn't make shit up; we verified. All events, starting with the end of WWI, right on through Viet Nam (“Robert McNamara, that son-of-a-bitch!”, I heard my father growl every morning, as he shaved. I can also attest to the fact that directly after Charlottesville, I climbed up out of a sick bed, after having been in the hospital for a week with bradycardia and a low bp (I was probably dying, but was too stupid and stubborn to realize that), I got up and went on a protest march, were we listened to some very inspired rhetoric given by members of the Islamic-American community, The Tampa Communist Maoist Collective and #BLM, along with the Tampa Police Department. We were all one and we all marched and sat in several downtown intersections, snarling up traffic, while people honked in, what I hope, was solidarity. 

I've had quite an eduma-ca-tion. I would be intellectually deceitful if I said there wasn’t a powerful fascination in trying to understand why one group, race, nationality could so coldly, precisely and methodically shovel another group, race, nationality into ovens like so much coal, based on a RELIGION(?).  I am sad to say, that after 30 years of trying to figure out from so many different angles, artistically, culturally, economically and historically I still don’t. But ahh… there’s that nasty bete noire, religion. God, what nightmares. If some superior being were ever to show itself, we would be cinders. Seriously. We would be deemed unfit to continue our existence. But I went back to study and learn, because the roots of such deviant behavior don’t just spring up; there is a reason. Turns out I had to go all the way back to the Diaspora.

This is not getting to the bus and my embarrassment. I talk to everyone; and had a good time with the usual folks. I am a rarity here; a white person. I am very comfortable with this. My parents, being from Scotland, were completely color-blind. My Grandfather Wallace, with his kids in the old flivver, saved a man from a lynching during the Depression. His kids had no idea what was up. The man was on the back roads of Michigan looking for a job. Grandpa Wallace took him back for a meal and a helper for a few weeks. My folks never understood that fuss.

I worked, went to school and lived in the equivalent of the UN. I had an Egyptian neighbor. He would be taking his daughter for a walk. I’d say, “hi, how are you?” He’d say, “We are just only sleep-walking.” One night, there’s pounding on my door. It’s the Iranians from across the hall. “Can you come look at this, please?” they ask. I look. “Is this supposed to be funny?” It’s the 3 Stooges. “Trust me, it’s hilarious.” I say. The next morning, I am called to prayers. Well, actually the muezzin blows his tinny little horn on his portable tape deck. I watch as the men bow and pray, bow and pray.

At the teaching hospital, where I pretended to work, but just asked a lot of questions, because the docs there love to teach, Indian Dr. Das, the Head of Cardiology stopped me. “”You are good with sounds, you play viola.” Since when, but okay. He’s babbling at Dr. Stepniewski, who’s Polish; another Cardiologist. I’m like, “you guys need a translator, you're going to kill a patient”. I ended up translating their conversation; the patient survived; I just hope she didn't end up with two left arms, or something.

This is all leading up to this: the "otherness" and how white supremacists play to that. There are approximately 100 to 150 active to semi-active bands, such as Panzerfaust Records(now defunct, but follow the link; those assholes need to be put out of business too) that promote hate music. They will actively try to recruit junior and senior high kids as they are the easiest of targets. The thing I found interesting is that they are using music to inculcate these hate values into people, particularly the young. Death metal particularly. I love music, the harder, the more metal the better. Despite the fact I am a classically trained violist means nothing. Beethoven is my god. Were he alive today, he’d be writing and playing metal. Beethoven also believed in the brotherhood of man. Think very carefully about that.

There are other groups of skinheads who are diametrically opposed to these ideals and should be promoted. They refer to themselves as SHARPs, or Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. I love music. The fact that it is being used by people like Wayne Page, now deceased and his ilk is anathema to me. Peter Simi, who is associate professor of criminology at the University of Nebraska met Page in 2001 in California. Professor Simi’s specialty is hate crime and hate groups and I’m paraphrasing.

What is most alarming is the rising rate of proponents of white supremacy in the military. Because of lower recruitment rates, standards were lowered and white supremacists were allowed to join. Evil begets evil. I know from several people who have been in prison, done hard time that white supremacy abounds there. It should also be stated in the interest if fairness that an equal number of Latino and Gang Bangers reside there as well.

Here the original post ends, but I think that the gangs in prisons, by and large, exist as protection (see the wonderful “OZ” if you have not done so. It fully explores this subject.) and once out, most people who are NOT career criminals – and I can speak with authority -- having been housed with felons, leave that life behind. They return to normalcy.


Yet, today, we have one of the most anti-semitic, and if not yet, we will see, jew-baiting, hating Presidents as a Leader of the Free World. We might expect something like this from someone like Vladimir Putin, but guess what? Putin is above all, a statesman and he will not stoop to this sort of rhetoric. I am NOT a Putin apologist, by any means, but, BUT, when you have a Holocaust Memorial Day and do NOT mention the Jews, you are not far from calling out the the SS, the SA, and getting the ovens ready. I am inflammatory and I mean to be. Bring your shit on, Trump. 306 electoral votes my ass! YOU are our American Nazi!


God Bless anyone who has read this far, and I truly hope you have, because what I have to say next is said out of fear and hope. I'm going to provide two links that talk about the recent RNC and the events in Kenosha, WI. I see a country running dangerously close to the tipping point of madness. If, IF we wish to have an election come November 3rd, and a fair one, which seems to be less and less likely for a myriad of reasons -- USPS being sabotaged; Trump deciding he will not accept the terms; Law Enforcement, not including Military, stupidly getting involved; Barr's gang of ne'er-do-wells showing up uninvited and shooting random people; any number of any other things, not to mention Dems deciding "we've got this; may as well stay home!", we ALL really need to collect ourselves, be calm and do ... NOTHING! Stay home! Don't protest. Don't go out and do something that will provoke the authorities. 

I admit, there's much to be changed, up and down the line, but RIGHT NOW, sixty-four days prior to the election, we need to NOT give Trump an excuse to declare some bloviation of an excuse to declare Martial Law and keep his fat ass in the White House. We need for an orderly (as much as possible) election, and as fair as one as possible to occur, so we can get him OUT. The damage he's already caused is immense, and we need no more! I'm going to stop talking now; I think you're all smart enough to understand the danger our Republic is in and that we ALL need to unite and take a deep breath. Let's worry about fixing messes and addressing wrongs, after this election. If we don't settle down, 2016, may have been our last Presidential election. Have a great September! Here come the links! 




Wednesday, July 1, 2020

#IWSG – JULY 2020 CHECK IN – THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ELIJAH McCLAIN


I haven't checked in, or written a great deal, lately. Time and events have been rather overwhelming and when I do write, I find I write out of a sense of urgency, or because I'm so enraged by what I've witnessed, I cannot hold it in. My orchestra is on hiatus, for how long? Who knows? I live in a Red State, which has completely and very ham-fistedly bungled any head start the Medical Community possibly had on containing the Coronavirus and they re-opened much, much, too soon, as we are now seeing. The global window is rapidly closing, and there is a new swine flu virus in Asia, that is, supposedly, not transmissible to humans, although people who do work with swine there, have tested positive for it, but are asymptomatic, and there are no signs that the virus is transmissible from person to person*.

Shortly after I wrote my previous post regarding the evictions en masse in the lower-income housing not very far from my house, and the heart-breaking image of the children's toys came the death of George Floyd and the Revolution took to the streets. I really had nothing to say on that, other than, “about time” and “I can be your Trotsky, should you need one”, but felt the people were eloquent enough in their righteous anger and fury over the dis-enfranchisement and the breaking of the contract that America should have kept with Black Americans and POC. Besides, I mentioned “fault lines” in my last post prior to all of the civil disobedience and Here. We. Are. We all do want the same thing and deserve it: equal treatment under the Law, Safety, and Fairness. What could be easier?

                                                                                                                               courtesy of:junkee.com                                                           
Elijah McClain

But, apparently, we still have nameless gorms who prefer living in the bad old days of Jim Crow and “Whites Only”, or more recently "White Power". Again, I'm really glad my folks aren't here to see this travesty of a country we've become. I remember my father and his sister telling me of the time they were driving in the old flivver, with their father, Grandpa Wallace, in like 1937, in the back woods of Michigan, and they happened upon three white men, trying to string up a black man, who was on a lonely road, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. My grandfather, being a Wallace, stopped the car and like something out of “To Kill A Mockingbird”, confronted the men. He stood them down. Being the cowards that they were, they left the scene, leaving the black man alone.

My father was pretty young at the time and I got most of the story from his older sister, Mary, my namesake. It seems the black man was walking the back roads of the lower peninsula of Michigan, looking for work. His people were in Illinois. My Grandfather came from a long line of crofters in Scotland. Sir William was originally a farmer before he led armies. He was also literate, having been schooled by his uncle, the local Priest. Anyway, his great-great-great-great, many times over grandson took the man home and fed him, and gave him a place to sleep for a few weeks, while he helped my Grandmother with chores and my Grandfather in the fields. Winter was coming, so when the hard frost hit, my folks paid the man, and sent him home. My folks being of Scots blood didn't hold with all of this “colored this” and “colored that”; they had also known oppression in their day. , However, I really, really digress.

This is about the life and death of Elijah McClain; a young man I barely heard of until this week. There were a few things in the news about him. But, there's been so much lately. We started the year with an Impeachment Trial, Kobe Bryant died, which was huge and then, went right into Covid-19, with a side-helping of Aliens, courtesy of the U. S. Navy, in the early days of the Pandemic; I guess on the off-chance we'd all have whip-lash and have forgotten how to read. We closed the Economy, and then, when cases slowed, we opened the Economy, and... OOOPS! Too soon! Now, we're dealing with exponential increases in cases of Covid-19 and our global window is closing. We may as well just throw in the towel. Period.

But, back to Elijah McClain. A gentle-souled, sweet young man who lived in Aurora, Colorado. By all accounts, he was a wonderful person. He worked as a massage therapist and his clients loved him for his sweetness, warmth and the way he lit up a room. He played the violin and on his breaks, he would go to the local animal shelter and play for the homeless cats and dogs there. “It soothed them,” one young lady said. I wish I knew more about Elijah. I wish I knew him when he was alive.

One night last year, on August 24, 2019, Elijah went to get his brother an iced tea. He wore an open ski mask because he suffered from anemia and he would get cold. I know what that's like. Someone called the police and reported a “suspicious person, wearing a mask and waving his hands”. Although unarmed and just listening to music, police say a “struggle ensued”. A carotid hold was placed on Elijah and when he didn't calm down, he was injected with Ketamine**, a supposed “therapeutic dose” to calm him down. It put him into cardiac arrest. He was transported to the hospital and put on life support. His family finally had him taken off life support on August 30, brain-dead and covered in bruises.

                                                                  courtesy of:Junkee.com                                   

Elijah, playing his violin to the stray cats in the shelter. It soothed them the shelter workers said. My cats love it when I play.

This is the bare-bones, brief story. For months, the body-cam footage was not released by the APD. When released, an officer can be heard admitting that Elijah had done nothing illegal prior to his arrest. Another officer accuses Elijah of trying to grab one of their guns. In the meantime, Elijah can be heard trying to say he's turning off his music; he vomits, and says his house is “right there”, then apologizes. “I wasn't trying to do that. I just can't breathe correctly.” One of the officers can be heard threatening to sic his dog on Elijah and also that he showed an “extreme show of strength when officers tried to pin back his arms”.

Very little of the officers' protocol can be observed however, due to their contention that their body cams all fell off during the arrest. The autopsy was inconclusive, and subsequent news reports seemed to point to McClaine himself as the unwitting cause of his own demise, because he struggled so, but, as Mari Newman, an attorney for the McClain family stated at the time, “Whatever the report says, it's clear if the police had not attacked Elijah McClain, he would be alive today.”

The officers, as officers in just about every one of these cases, with the notable exceptions of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and most recently Rayshard Brooks, got off, initially, but a ground-swell of outrage and a plea from the Aurora, CO community and then, the nation, led the Attorney General of CO to re-open the Elijah McClain case and take a good, hard look at the injustice that was done to this fine, young man.

As a musician, I feel this. As a human being, this is just beyond the pale. Last Thursday evening, there was a violin vigil held for Elijah McClain in Aurora, in a park. Many string players showed up to play and practicing social distancing, they were playing Pachelbel's “Canon in D”. I know this piece by heart. I can riff on it, play it blues-y, play it jazz-y, play it in my sleep, play it upside down. But, I didn't get to hear much of what these talented, young musicians were doing, because the cops showed up. They showed up and they did what they do best. They threw a bunch of pepper spray or tear gas and they were in full riot gear. I could not hear any music over the screaming of “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!” My poor kitty Allie could hear this and she got distressed. What is so wrong with us as a country that we can no longer assemble as is OUR RIGHT UNDER THE LAW! Not just any right, but our 1st AMENDMENT RIGHT!

These people weren't preaching sedition, or treason (why bother, we have a treasonous bastard for a President?), nor were they plotting the overthrow of the government, although it may be time to start thinking about a major change, because this shit ain't working!

 courtesy of:@ohsnapitztab via the CUT            

MUSIC transcends color, sex, orientation, religion, culture, time and belongs to everyone. I will NEVER get to hear Elijah McClain play, but boy, do I wish I did. I think I really missed out on something lovely. The more we take the beauty and grace out of our society the uglier we become. I, for one, don't want to see this happen. Say his name. Elijah McClain. Remember him. Say his name. Someone must; I know he's indelibly etched upon my heart.

====================================================================


*CNN Report, June 29, 2020
**Ketamine was approved for use on humans in 1962. Prior to that it was used primarily as a horse tranquilizer. It is known as Vitamin K, Special K on the street and is known to cause seizures, dementia and can cause arrhythmia when used in people with heart conditions.

Monday, May 25, 2020

#AMWRITING #BLOGGING - WE ARE A NATION OF HOLLOW DREAMS


For the last three months I have been in a voluntary quarantine. As soon as I heard about the Coronavirus and the first cases were announced in Seattle, I went straight to my PCP and in our short-hand lingo, discussed triage, supplies and what it all would mean for me, as I'm high-risk. Having worked in a tertiary care facility for four years, I knew that I was way down on the list for any kind of care, other than palliative, and in five minutes, I knew that I would be staying indoors for the duration of whatever this was, until a suitable vaccine was cobbled up, by our health industry.

I just had no idea that beneath the layers of what seemed to be a functioning (albeit, a dysfunctional one) nation, lay fault lines that were well-nigh insurmountable and that, moreover, the Powers-That-Be would not be swayed by a mere Pandemic to let their Better Angels out to save the day. No, all this lay ahead, to be peeled back in an ugly and rapacious manner that becomes uglier and meaner each day.

In early March*, when it seemed that we would have most of our work force staying “at home”, with the exception of the essential workers, and it was being bandied about in the House and Senate regarding Incentive checks and PPP for small businesses, there was also discussion about rent and mortgage “forgiveness” that would allow people to stay in their homes or apartments if they were furloughed. It was called H.R. 6515 and introduced 4/17/2020. This was to take care of folks to make sure that the homeless population didn't worsen, and to keep PEOPLE IN PLACE, during the Pandemic.
*Not precisely sure of the time lines, or when this was first talked about. 

I hate changing tracks like this, but I must at this juncture; one of the reasons I haven't blogged as much as I used to, as everything has overwhelming, but this, this is too much. My fiancé came home the other day from work (he works for the DOD and IS essential) and had a small children's bicycle, and a kids' hot-wheels toy in the trunk. I asked him where they had come from.


We, of course, have no children. We're going to fix them up and give them away; it just breaks my heart to see them.

It turns out that there is an apartment complex about ½ mile from our house, and it is for lower-income people. Our dog, Ripley, always runs over there and plays with all the other dogs when he gets off of his chain, or out of the house; we're familiar with the people there. So, James told me that people are being evicted right and left there. There are toys, clothing; kids' clothing, furniture, all piled up out there. I'm just enraged. What happened to all this “forgiveness” of rent? Is it because we're living in a Red State, but this doesn't translate to a Black or Brown State? Did the money just disappear into some fat cat's pocket up there in Columbia, or Raleigh, or wherever?


The toys are well-used and also well-kept. The children obviously were proud of them.

Every one of those toys is some kids' ruined dream; a failure on the part of this country. We can't teach them, we can't house, feed, or clothe them. What is wrong with this society, and what do we have to fear by teaching everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, to the best of our ability, to be the best that they can be. NO child should have his or her dream, or ideal kicked to the curb by some money-grubbing fat bastard who doesn't need another goddamned dime from the American Public, or from anyone, period!


We have no way of knowing where the families may have gone, or if they're homeless. We're in a small town. So, they're probably in Greenville, or Spartanburg.

The Pandemic laid bare the fault lines that may have remained hidden for five years, or a decade. This country has become a weakened shell; a former chimera of itself. Our infrastructure has rotted to nothing. Bridges collapse daily, killing people in cars trying to cross them. Dams burst, flooding towns; two in Michigan burst last week. We have a golden opportunity to put together another CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) to re-build our infrastructure, yet, our government is so corrupt with nepotism and incompetence and revolving door-ism, if Trump doesn't like the cut of someone's jib that nothing gets done, except some more GOP judges, who are unfit to judge dog shows are packed onto benches, because right-wing matters. If Trump doesn't like the news, he either lies about it, or he lies about what he just said, claiming it was "sarcasm". Who does that?


My baby Glenn, wondering why Mama's crying.

I've said this before and I'll say it again; two of the finest Americans who were at total opposites of the spectrum as regards politics are no longer with us and I'm talking about my parents. My father used to joke about how he was to the right of the John Birch Society and my mother used to say she was a bomb-thrower (Anarchist, for those not in the know), yet, we had some of the best political discourse around our dinner table that I'll never forget, and I'm so goddamned glad they're not here to see this mess of a country. I have a passport and don't think that I'm not thinking about maybe packing it in and making it back to the Auld Sod, as an Ex-Pat, when all of this shit is over. I'm so done with whatever is going on here and I'm not even sure if the U. S. is able to see its way out of the mess that is COVID-19.

As long as people keep lying to themselves and going outside and doing all of the things that are counter-intuitive and playing politics, there is going to be THIS Pandemic. Coronavirus don't care if you're GOP, DEM or INDEPENDENT. It's not about politics. It's not about your stupid freedoms. You're not having a “Rosa Parks” moment, by defying any government's (Federal or State's) orders and herding up together with your friends. Your Civil Rights are not being trampled. Imagine this were WW II. Would you go outside in London during the Blitz, because the German bombs were taking away your rights to stand in the streets and get blown to bits? I thought not. Think on that, this Memorial Day, and remember those who died for us, so we could live.