Friday, June 17, 2016

#A-TO-Z-CHALLENGE – LETTER “P” - PUTIN'S CONDOLENCES TO ORLANDO

                                                                                                                    

            Спасибо, Россия .
Спасибо, президент Путин .

Warning: Be prepared for one long post!

Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm still farting around with the A-to-Z-CHALLENGE. I'm all the way up to Letter “P”, but as per usual, my crazy life has intervened. The five kittens are all healthy and growing like weeds. The little lavender female is the most adventurous and friendliest of the bunch, although they all are friendly and sweet. The big ginger-swirl kitten had something wrong with his nose, I thought, until I realized he was just falling asleep head-first into his food dish. They're pretty well-potty trained, and are ready for the part I'm gonna dread; deciding who gets to stay and who has to go. My fixed income will not allow for five cats. I already feel like I'm feeding livestock, and on some days, I could probably plow the kitchen floor and plant crops; they're so messy. But, they're kittens, and they're just at the very tippy-point of learning to be fussy cats, (they've started grooming one another) with all the licking and preening and what not.


Once again, the Wallace gene strikes. Out of the roughly 45,000 pictures I took of these little boogers, these are the only two that show anything resembling "kitten". I have tons of murky, blurry out-of-focus pics for my nascent "Paranormal TV" career, which will start just as soon as I get back from Japan, unless I just keep going east to Novosibirsk to play in their orchestra.

But, life intervened in another very surprising and spectacular way recently. I've been playing again, as many of you know, and as it turns out, I am going to Japan in January, 2017 to play for the entire month. I signed the contract last week. I've gotten my paperwork ready for my passport and Alex and I are going to go down to the Clerk of the County Courthouse to apply. He needs to renew his passport, as his dad in the D. R. isn't getting any younger, so we're doing this together.


The last time I was in Japan, it was in the heat of August. This time, it will be winter and I am really looking forward to this. The country is gorgeous. We will NOT be playing any "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto", but a combination of well-known sound-tracks from movies on the first half of the concert and then, we will back, "well-known Japanese Matinee-type singers". Not too sure what that means, but I'm assured a fun and first-class trip! Being a red-head is a plus. We bring good luck to the Japanese. I still have no gray hair; I just dole it out to people.

Anyway, I'm glad I got a head start on this, because the entire orchestra's passports are handed over to the Japanese Embassy here, for work visas and such, and they will be returned to us, when we all meet up in Orlando, on January 2, 2017, to rehearse. And this brings me to the nut of this post.

Orlando was horrific. In a country where the horrifying seems to occur with stultifying, mind-numbing frequency and the death-toll keeps rising, each atrocity is just piled on top of one more atrocity. It doesn't surprise me in the least, that this latest massacre exceeded the death-toll, executed by a single agent, for whatever weird, twisted, although probably logical reason, to him, EVER. Most assuredly, at some point, this death-toll will be topped.


Medical teams awaiting 1st responders. I do not know if all of the survivors were treated at one center, and in a case like this, the morgue will not be overflowing, because cause of death is apparent. What is so mystifying to me, is this: in any of these tragedies, the people committing these crimes have such a burning hatred and sustain it for so long. They have to get the weapons, ammunition, and explosives (as in James Moore's case, when he booby-trapped his apartment in Aurora, CO and it took authorities about 72 hours to get into his place) and plan, then execute their plan. I'm a bit of a sociopath, when it comes to harming people, but I do it only out of necessity and have NEVER lost a night's sleep over it. I know two muggers who are still running; but I would NEVER do anything like this. My mind simply cannot conceive of doing anything remotely like this.

When this happened, people were once again, trotting out labels: “Radical Muslim”, “terrorist act”, “hate crime” (they're all hate crimes; this is the stupidest, most reductive term; like “hate” speech – meaningless), and what I think has been missed in this case, as in the Root case, but was so patently obvious in the James Moore and the Sandy Hook shootings, is mental illness. Omar Mateen was abusive to his first wife, hated African-Americans, hated women, yet had a friendship with a Drag Queen. Again, people are trying to apply a label to someone, who is so complex, you really cannot do so and do anyone, or any group of people justice. I'm not even sure this is something gun control can fix, nor is it even an argument I want to have. Both sides have their points, but, as far as background checks and all of that, even the FBI had to give up on Mateen, when an investigation went nowhere. I've survived three home invasions; the most serious one being the one where I DIDN'T have a gun, but a lamp, then six weeks later, a colleague is killed; beaten beyond recognition and there were guns in the house. I believe it's all about attitude. I can be one scary bitch if I have the incentive, and two black guys hovering over me while I was asleep, was all the incentive my lizard-brain needed to go bipolar; it was over quickly. A gun would not have made an iota of difference.

It's rather like the sex offender who, once again, in Orlando, answered his door, only to be attacked by a young man. The s. o., who had been out for 20 years and was living a quiet life and registering, because he is required to, by law, and by law, is also not given the privacy that the rest of us are given – his address is readily available via the Internet - fought back and held the young man, until the police came. When the young man was asked why he attacked the s.o. - and it turned out later, others, he said “To seek forgiveness with God for sins I have committed.” That answer right there, is reason enough to do away with the Registry and allow people who have already served sentences and are on the straight and narrow – 95% of s.o.s do not re-offend, and 90% of s.o.s are known by their victims – to live in anonymity. Even law enforcement are coming around to see this for what it is; over-reaction. Something America is good at.

What we are not so good at is equality, nor freedom, nor safety for our citizens. If anyone in our society deems it necessary to go to a social club or a place of “sanctuary” to feel safe, or to be themselves, then guess what folks? Not a damn one of us are safe or free or equal. We have become even more short-sighted about this since the campaign for the 2016 elections have heated up. Never has the country been so divided on so many courses and that is intentional. Just because I don't like what Donald Trump has to say, doesn't mean I'm going to lay one up aside the head of a Trump supporter. How stupid is that? I've created a martyr. Same thing for the idiots who are for Bernie! I like Bernie, but if he doesn't win the Candidacy for the Dems, I'm not going to start terrorizing or smacking around Hillary supporters.

courtesy: www.youtube.com

I love these assholes who say their votes don't matter, so they don't vote. Sorry pal, but you live in a country where you pay taxes and you do benefit from the goods and services of our local, State and Federal government, so yes, you are obligated to vote. It would help if you knew how the government is supposed to work, and what the three branches of the Federal Government are, and why they are set up to check and balance one another. It would also be a terrific idea if you knew what the Bill of Rights was and how it applies to your everyday life, because it does. I hate to say it, but Americans are some of the stupidest, laziest people I've ever run across, yet they are the first ones to stand up and holler about how great this Goddamned country is. Maybe 40 years ago, but not now, and not in my lifetime.

I have never seen people get so hysterical over an election and I thought 2012 was crazy. But, I digress, or got off the beaten path a bit, because this is a micro- version of what is going on in the macro- geopolitical world stage.

It is known, or should be known by Western Leaders, that Vladimir Putin is not a “regular guy” leader. Boris Yeltsin was, maybe. Mikhail Gorbachev is more of a Philosopher and his writings and his legacy that he left the world, by opening the USSR to the west reflects that, for good or ill. It was Winston Churchill, who once said of the USSR “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” So much for Winnie.

courtesy: www.history.com

Winston Churchill. His was probably one of the most adroit and astute minds of the 20th Century. Whether it was guiding his country through World War II, and coming whisker-close to losing the war during the Battle of Britain, or negotiating with the very astute and conniving Joseph Stalin and having to be the more realistic of the pair, with both FDR and the Harry Truman, after FDR's death, Winnie was able to handle it all. 

Probably the main reason the people remained so mysterious to him, is that he was always looking at them from a great height; the geopolitical height, rather than getting down on the proletariat's level and understanding them and their lives and how they lived. Of course, he would never have been allowed to do such a thing; Stalin would never have permitted anything like that and for generations, the USSR apparatchiki strove hard to make sure that nothing but perfection ever radiated forth from the gigantic monolith that was CCCP1.


Joseph Stalin, from the SSR Georgia, born Josip Vissarionovich Djugashvili, he later changed his surname to "Stalin", Russian for "Steel". Technically, a colleague of mine, due to an education by Jesuit Priests, however, he took away the parts that he could use to manipulate and cow others around him. Lenin's last will and testament originally stated that Stalin should not even be part of the Politburo, much less Premiere of the USSR. Upon Lenin's death, Stalin had all of the copies of that last will and testament found and destroyed, and systematically over approximately a decade, he did away with everyone who had that will and testament in their possession. Paranoid in the extreme, once he had finished decimating the top leadership in the Politburo and had driven Trotsky (the Architect of the Red Army) to Mexico City, and finally assassinated in 1940, he turned to the Red Army Generals and began decimating them. When Germany attacked on June 22, 1941, Stalin had little to counter with, and had to re-build his army, as he was fighting off an invasion, that saw the Nazis as close as six city blocks from Moscow. Stalin's USSR bore the stamp of his rule, well into the 80s, until Mikhail Gorbachev began his program of first "Perestroika" (Listen) and then "Glasnost" (Openness).

courtesy:wikipedia.com

Hey! It's me again! I must admit. I'm a sucker for this old Soviet-era style of artwork. I play on Russian fb (vkomte.ru) and there are all sorts of games featuring cats in Soviet-style Navy uniforms and such. I'm an idiot.

No, you had to catch them unawares and it turned out not so hard to do, because, they were, naturally, just people. People love to talk about the things that matter to them. The KGB agent who secretly baptizes his children. The gangly teenagers, who love the western jeans given them as gifts and have learned a sort of half-assed English to match your half-assed Russian. Everyone giggles at everyone else's gaffes, because it all sounds horrible.

No one really cares, though. It's fun and you all pretend your spies, tee hee. The Babushka who yells at you when you come out of your Moscow hotel in the morning with a hangover and your viola, and no hat or scarf, thankful, that yes, you were pulled from that snowbank by “Yuri” your “guide” - read KGB-escort - who was probably drunker than you were. You double-check to make sure he's not still in the gutter. Oh! Here he is, with blintzes and hot tea! You both laugh and look away, because, you're still not sure if you're going to be in trouble when you get to rehearsal. You're not, but decide to behave after that.


I happened across this by luck; a modern-day Cossack family, serving their country. The last I had heard of this was during what we call World War II, but what is known to Russia as the Great Patriotic War. When the men and women dismounted from their horses and turned in their swords, the men went into the T-34 tanks, that were churned out by the thousands east of the Urals, and shipped west, or they flew YAK fighters and bombers against the Nazis. The women fought alongside their men; often times as "night witches" flying wooden and cloth airplanes, that had no defenses, but carried bombs to drop on the supply lines and ammo dumps of the Nazis, behind enemy lines. The witches were highly successful and the women also fought alongside in the infantry, although this was much more common in the South than in the North.

courtesy: pinterest.com 

I'm not seeing a great, big mystery here, folks. Not anywhere. The Cossacks who went to the Great Patriotic War, went in families, as they had done for generations. I believe we had families who fought together in the Civil War, and some who took up arms against one another. In the case of the Cossacks and the Russians, they really had no choice. The Waffen SS were out to destroy them all. The parallel is a bit more apt, though, due to the humane practices of General Heinz Guderian or the Wehrmacht in the South, who actually began enlisting some of the Ukrainians and Southern Russians – whom Stalin would later execute for committing treason, understandably – after the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk.

Truly, the only thing mystifying to me, about the Russians is that they have had more than their share of misery and hardship and heartache and yet, they can be so damn happy and not just because they drink vodka, which is one letter away from their word for water. Russian mysticism is something I DO understand, and it's partly because, as my mother used to say, I'm fey. What a laugh. I'm like 71% left-brained, and not really dominated by any magical thinking, although I do have a tendency to wander off a bit, and not just rhetorically.

So, let me get to the point of this whole entire post, regarding Vladimir Putin. He called President Barack Obama, and gave the President his heartfelt condolences, regarding Orlando. People seemed stunned by this, regarding Putin's “stance” on the LGBTQ segment of the population in his own country. I think some of his own citizens may have been a little questioning, and then when they thought about it, their very Russianness took over and they went back to what they were doing.

You may remember a post I wrote on the lovely tear-drop Memorial that was commissioned by Russia and is overlooking the New York Skyline. It is in Bayonne, New Jersey and when I was researching that post, I found out some interesting things. Vladimir Putin was there when the Memorial was first dedicated, and building began, and it had already been decided to build it in Bayonne, because the majority of the Fire fighters who died in the twin collapse were from Bayonne. The Memorial also overlooks NYC when you look through the fissure where the “tear drop” dwells. President Bill Clinton was there when the Monument opened and Vladimir Putin and the Memorial's sculptor and Russia are very pleased with the results. You have to work to go and see it, and that's the point of it.

courtesy: cluesforum.info

This was written about in the Daily Mail out of the UK and it was written from the viewpoint of someone who thought that the U.S. had just put this here and not really cared about it at all. When I did some digging into why it was in this specific place and what it symbolized, I got it immediately. This is very Russian  in it's expression, placement and the spare quality of the overall look. Vladimir Putin was extremely pleased with the way it turned out, as was it's sculptor, Zurob Tsereteli and President Bill Clinton was on hand when the statue was completed and dedicated. Each victim's name is somewhere in or around the Memorial, and Mr. Putin was on hand himself as ground was broken, and building began.

This is something Putin understands; he may be very politically conservative, but he understands and does have respect for, human nature. By doing these things; he was the first Foreign Leader to call George W. Bush on 9/11, and by calling President Obama, he's showing that for whatever geopolitical crap is going on in the world, we're still the human family. Yes, Syria is a thorn, but Russia's goals there are not our goals and we would do well to remember that. Ukraine? I've said all along, that one day, they want one thing, the next something else; this is the result of several centuries of territorial conflict and inter-marrying. We have NO business being there, or advising there.

He reached out to us; that kind of moral support is indelible and invaluable. He is representing his people, and I believe expressing his own feelings – not that he's a soft, or sentimental guy, but he understands the shedding of blood in that way that Russians always seem to do, more so maybe, because of the nigh-on close to extinction they've either suffered at the hands of others, or alas, themselves, in ages past, and my experiences with Russians have always been more on the positive side than the negative. Just because our current geopolitical views aren't in harmony doesn't make the Russians or their President monsters. They are flesh-and-blood human beings. With his gesture, he is reaching out to us, and we should respond in kind.


I myself have made fun of ol' Vlad "the Impaler" Putin. Usually when he's riding a bear without a shirt on, or some other nonsense. In this case, I have to say, "Thank you, Mr. Putin". Just because I don't always agree with your politics, okay, well, most of your politics, doesn't mean that I can't recognize one person reaching out, literally and an entire country reaching out figuratively with good wishes and healing vibes. You've done it in the past. Thank you.

I'm not making excuses for the Russians, nor am I giving them a pass. All cultures and histories, are blood-soaked at some point, or another. The old adage of “those who do not learn history's lessons are doomed to repeat them,” is really a tired and worn out one, I think. We just seem to invent new ways to inflict misery upon one another. We have no farther than our own “Trail of Tears” in the U.S.'s recent past to see how evil and conniving people can be, when it comes to the extermination of those we think are beneath us.


I have heard through my little grapevine that things are not as bad for LGBT people as they seem. I don't know if I believe it, however. I do know this: there seems to be an awful lot of looking the other way and demonstrating that passes unnoticed by the "official eyes", so who knows what the hell is going on. Without being in Russia, on the ground, it's hard to believe what you're hearing. Again, I defer to Mr. Churchill on this.


Yes, Russia is having a bad time of it in Ukraine, and some of their policies in Syria have made their economy sag a bit. None of that is relevant. It's not as if the U.S. hasn't blundered into some quagmires and had her nose bloodied. President Putin is not Stalin, nor a monster; he's simply a man, the leader of Russia who is extending sympathy and wishing for a speedy recovery for the injured. Putting aside the issue with his stance on LGBTQ people, I find it a humane and reassuring gesture, coming from him and his people. Thank you, Russia. Thank you, Mr. Putin.
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