Tuesday, February 28, 2017

#ThrowbackThursdays - #ROW80 - Artwork For Sale (Ha Ha)

I posted this four years ago today and when it popped up in my Facebook feed I was delighted, because I remember how damned silly it was and I'm all for silly. I've done nothing but brood and carp over Trump and it ends NOW. I'm getting back to my fun, 100% fact-free posts and getting in shape for the A-to-Z Challenge that begins April 1, 2017 and in keeping with last year's theme, I'm going to continue to write about all of the hoo-ha that goes on around here on the Avenue. Nebraska Avenue, that is. There's just too much “specialness” going on to not take advantage of the human condition or the everyday idiocies I see, and boy howdy, there are a butt-ton of 'em, whatever a butt-ton is.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my little journey into the Visual Arts. My dear friend, YumaBev, or Bev Mittan-Ribaudo, who has Parkinson's Disease, is an actual, real-live, award-winning photographer, along with her Wonderful Husband. Just think of me as the anti-Bev. And, oh, yeah, I got those e. t. blues treated and am playing up a storm on the viola.

The trip to Japan was a smashing success in that I came back alive and Japan is still standing! I'll have more posts and tons of pictures to write about; I've just been busy unsnarling my life, since my phone never left Florida, along with my mind, apparently. I've been spending the time getting playing, practicing and caught up with doctor's appointments and untangling the fine mess that my bank made when they canceled my card 3 weeks early, because it wasn't a “chip” card. All is well and my financial status is good. Sheesh! Anyway, enjoy this little post that I originally wrote for #ROW80, four years ago today!

This is not just any artwork. This is artwork of the finest photography taken by my ever-shaking hand. Call me the anti-YumaBev. In terms of clarity, form and content. This here is some murky stuff. Just take a ramble through some of my fine pictures:

Jim and cat napping. If you look in the left 1/3 of the picture, you can imagine two white paws, very restful. Price: free.

See, I helpfully pointed them out. This is free also, should you wish to possess it. Actually, just copy the damn thing.

Animals make cute subjects for photographers, since I am not one, I find them to be a singular pain in the ass to try and take pictures of, yet I persist. This is what happened, when I was testing my new camcorder one night, which also has no night filter, and lent that extra-special dimension of creepiness we all hope for when we're taking pictures of the family doing family things about the house. . . alone. . . and in the dark.

I think I had some artsy-fartsy idea of seeing the cat through a victorian era lamp, but what I've appeared to have captured is some Lovecraftian "Colour Out of Space" horror that resides in our living room. Best call out Chthulu from under the kitchen sink. He's been napping far too long anyway. He needs to go on va-cay. Price: I give you Skittles to take this off my hands.

Before I took the famous picture of Mama kitty napping with Jim, I had to test the camcorder to see if it was photo-graphing or if it was taking moving pictures. Since I don't see well in the dark (or the light for that matter) it was highly necessary to stand in the kitchen and press several buttons at once on a device about which I knew nothing. (Gee, Mary, couldya have gone in the bathroom, shut the door and turned on a light? What? And ruin all this fine art and fun!) This is what we referred to as "learning" when I went to school to become a computer engineer. We had these things called "books" but hardly ever read them. This was a much more fun way to learn and also un-learn the messes we made that were referred to as "programs."

Anyway, I discovered the proper sequence for producing still photographs after many stops and starts and some amazingly amazing non-action sequences of my stove-top. Of course, I couldn't be bothered to turn on the light, because, eyes and I didn't want to wake the little darlings snuggling in the next room.

Bonus points for my finger in the lower right. Price: Let's haggle.

I haven't even gotten around to the videos yet. YouTube pisses me off. Every time I upload one, they say, "this seems a bit shaky, do you want us to fix it?" What, and ruin my great art? How do you know that's not part of my artistic statement on the world, YouTube?

Here's a picture I took of Mama and then I kind of morphed it with Pic Monkey. She was all sprawled out on the bed, happy as a clam.

It was too blurred, so I filtered it, and removed most of the shadows. She loves to sleep like this.

The only other pictures I've ever taken that were worth a damn was the one down below of her on my blog and some of my viola and the one I took of the house down the street. I'm no photographer, but it sure is fun taking pictures and I'll have more of my "artwork" on display during the A-to-Z Challenge, 2017!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


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.


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 #IWSG! Here come the links! 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

#amwriting #blogging – POLITICS NOW

I sat here for approximately fifteen minutes looking at this stupid computer screen, just trying to think of a title of this post and I just couldn't come up with one. Possibly because the state of my country has become of such over-weening concern since I returned from Japan and I cannot seem to think of anything else. I've had some minor financial things to do that are to be expected when being out of country, or out of residence for over a month, but that has been nothing compared to the things I've been reading, seeing and then trying to process in some way that make any sense at all to anything I've experienced in American life over some 60-plus years, and I'm coming up with nothing, bupkis, nada, nichdo; my mind is either a confused mess or a blank.

Whether it's trying to create analogies with information I'm seeing now from previous experiences to try and figure out where this is all going and coming up with either a giant hole, or a huge apocalyptic nightmare, or pretend I'm some sort of modern-day Kremlinologist (which I was damned good at, but THIS sucks!) and learning about the Rasputin-like Steve Bannon and the terribad Jeff Sessions (Really?) and the less-than mediocre picks for Trump's Cabinet and his choice for Supreme Court – which 54% of the vote HAD dictated that the previous President should have chosen, by the way, you stupid Democrats, it always circles around to looking like a country and a world, that is close to coming off of the rails.


This is not the REAL cabinet; but the real deal is a whole lot motlier-looking and the people in the real cabinet had on terrible clothes, slouched and looked all together unprofessional, so I found this mock-up on the Indiana Star website of sports figures made up as Trump's cabinet. They'd probably be better than the meatheads he's trying to get confirmed anyway.

I truly wonder if our allies and non-allies have ever stopped to wonder what it would be like to have a less-than great, or even good America on the planet, as I think Donald Trump is determined to make us, by looting the coffers of whatever he can loot for himself and his buddies, with nary a peep from any watchdog agency, Congressional or otherwise. Although Trump is determined to tell us he's going to “make America great again”, there's never been any real indication that it was less than so, and financial and other indicators bear this out.

A very valued and trusted friend has also pointed out to me, that since the end of World War II, our own war dead has dramatically fallen, although our engagements in war zones at times may seem profligate. I am making no excuses for George Bush's hare-brained rush into Iraq and Afghanistan back in 2003, but with the exception of terrorists and terrorist-states, such as ISIS, countries have abided by rules of engagement, which have lowered military and civilian casualties dramatically.

So, it would seem that our own danger, as during the McCarthy years is actually from within, at least, that is how I parse it out. Yes, we have become more divisive and the atmosphere is much more toxic and bellicose; more than I have ever seen and each time Trump issues an edict, signs a directive, makes a phone call, or any move at all, folly and confusion ensues, with back-tracking and alternate facting all the way.

Who in the HELL came up with this Orwellian term? An “alternate fact” is a lie, pure and simple. When Kellyanne Conway babbled some nonsense about the “Bowling Green Massacre” and then Chelsea Clinton called her on it, what did La Kellyanne do? Bitch at Chelsea about some Bosnian shit. That right there is called misdirection and dissembling, and is the first bastion of a liar. What in the FUCK would Chelsea have been able to do at that time, other than possibly find Bosnia on a map? She was a school-girl at the time of the incident and was in no position to be making policy.

Conway never did answer Clinton on Twitter about that; she couldn't because she made it up out of whole cloth. Two men were arrested in Bowling Green on weapons charges, but that is a long way from a massacre. The only thing that died in this fiasco was the truth, and Twitter made the most of it, with hashtags #BowlingGreenMassacre#NeverRemember and #AlwaysForget, as people held fake vigils for the Bowling Green Massacre that failed to happen. 

Although I'm laughing at the absurdity of this and thinking of the millions that would have shown up to Trump's Inauguration had they not been cut down in the line of fire during this horrendous Massacre that was not reported on, or at least missed us in Japan, I DID have to remember, (or is it forget?) that the news cycles in this country have become notoriously quick and even though I was only gone a month, it's a damned shame I wasn't here to wear a black armband, or ribbon or something for a few minutes in remembrance of the millions slain. Damned shame.

Of course, Twitter, being Twitter, much hilarity is to be had over this nonsense. It's actually a blissful relief and a reminder that all is not dire when you see drivel like this.

This is how we veer off into the absurdity of the New Administration. This is also coupled with the Holocaust Remembrance, that was Jew-free this year. Thank goodness; they've been hogging the whole thing to themselves for years and we KNOW other folks died there, too, in some camps or in battles, or during sieges or something. It was just insane back then, from September 1, 1939 to August 14, 1945, when we finally ended World War II. So, we know some holocaustin' was going on, and it wasn't just Jews, so we just didn't even bother with them this year.

They went the way of Fred Douglass who “has done a really good job” and more and more people are knowing about him all the time, because he's done such a really good job. When Trump talked about him for Black History Month, I completely forgot who he was, and I felt like ole Freddie was right there in the room with me; Trump did such a swell job of bringing him to life. I hope we get to here more such encomiums with such descriptive terms. I cannot wait until he talks about George Washington Carver, botanist, scientist, and an expert witness, who, during segregation was routinely called to Washington, D. C. to deliver expert testimony. He was granted extra time, because it was thought that he would be “slow”. *snort* Trump will tell us that he was a really, really good guy, who does a good job, which would be a neat trick, since Carver died in 1943.

Frederick Douglass? George Washington Carver? Trump's Random Black Guy? Just my hero, Muhammad Ali. All the same to the Donald. I'm sure he thinks Ali "does a real good job, so many people are coming to know him!".

But these along with all of the crazy stories about praying for Arnold during the National Prayer Breakfast, so that he does better on Trump's show “The Apprentice” and hanging up on the Australian Prime Minister, are mere sideshows, to the main issue itself: where is America going with Trump at the helm?

This also raises more questions; will Trump survive four years, or will he finally commit an actionable crime that the DOJ will hop on and appoint a Special Prosecutor to begin Impeachment proceedings? If this happens then, we will have to put up with Mike Pence for the rest of Trump's term. Pence will be a good little soldier – I hope  and just try to keep the ship off the shoals.

I have been done with the GOP for years; I seldom vote for a GOP candidate, and it's generally a local one, in the General election, as I am a registered Independent, but I'm now also done with the Democrats as well. They have had every opportunity to push back against Trump, as did Reince Priebus, ex-head of the RNC (him and his stupid, goddamned, fucking loyalty oath*; that back-fired spectacularly!)  and every other GOP'er who were NEVER, EVER gonna support Trump. From that evil devil Ted Cruz, to bloated Chris Christie, they all fell like a bunch of dominoes before the monolithic Communist juggernaut, much like the oft-maligned Truman Doctrine – which in reality has proven to be wrong.

*The link is an article written by Jason Linkins of HuffPo and is one of the most lucid pieces of writing on this subject, and I highly recommend you read it, if you don't know much about that part of the GOP's history. 

The Democrats just basically rolled over and gave up when HRC lost the election. It was not until their own voter base began to call and email in desperation and in droves - clogging up Congressional inboxes -  and asked them to do something regarding the immigration ban, regarding the seven states and Muslims, that they were finally prompted to act. I was already over them. My own Senator, Bill Nelson, Florida-(D) last tweeted about Gene Cernan's death, until someone booted him in the ass on Twitter and told him to GET BUSY (Don't look at me in that tone of voice!). Really? Gene Cernan, Senator?

But for that, I'm done! Personally I think it best if the Dems just sit back and let Rome burn. I really think this system is so beyond saving that we need a good train wreck to shock everyone out of their complacency and start really taking things seriously. I may not always sound serious and I'm the last person to let a serious time get in the way of my funnin', as we say here in Florida. The fourth estate – mainstream journalism – needs to be ethical and punctilious in its fact-checking, lest it run afoul of the fifth estate – bloggers like me and outliers. We – still speaking as the fifth estate here, need to be diligent in fact-checking what our politicians and media are saying and doing and reporting, because truth is a rare commodity in the political arena and news needs to be fair and unbiased.

Once upon a time, all the news did was report the FACTS, and editorializing was strictly held to be a separate function in any news organization. It's true that newspapers were recognized as conservative or liberal, but they were restrained in their views as such and they were open to printing opposing views. Bill Maher made a very good point about the demonstrations and violence at Berkeley University over the speech that was to be given by famous internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos, invited by Berkeley Young Republicans. Berkeley owns up to the fact that they had an obligation to provide a platform for Milo to give his speech, and they are right, as is Maher. Progressives and liberals do not have a right to condemn what Trump says, hateful as it is, and then quash another speaker for the same thing. Just because someone gives a speech that we may label as hate speech, this does not give us the right to quell the speaker. He/she has that right. For us to defend the 1st Amendment, means we defend it all the way, not cherry-pick the parts we like; this is dangerously close to Trump territory, who already has a bill in the works that could very well quash parts of the 1st Amendment. The Fifth Estate is watching this carefully and hopefully, the Fourth Estate is on this, as well.

This. . . guy. I started a petition for his recall from Marquette County. He is a "family and faith" values kinda hypocrite and a coward. In the face of this heat, he's closed all of his social media accounts, but not before I informed him I was pitching for his recall. Sometimes, the fifth estate crosses boundaries into the third estate (the vox populi, as it were).

The Berkeley incident also gave a hapless Michigan GOP gorm, by the name of Dan Adamini to remark that “another Kent State” would be timely right about now. Yes, by all means; let's ratchet up the tension in this country from demonstrations to shooting students. Then, we can call out the U. S. National Guard, declare Martial Law and have Missile Parades and we're all done. Curfew's at 6 pm and you'd better be home from your shitty job at Mickey D's, or you'll be shot on sight. That's how you fix this country, by God!

But this new Administration has fostered this sort of thinking and it is now rife and seems to be okay. We can legitimatize the KKK and take them out of their sheets and take away their guns and moonshine and put them in tweed suits and call them alt-Right, but it's still the same old White Supremacy crap. Along with this comes the “it's okay to hate innalekshuals, wimmen and free-thinkers” nonsense, too.

You can see why I would go merrily down this road; we're less than three weeks into The Donald's reign of Terror and the country is in total upheaval, or something close to it. I am no longer proud to be an American and am considering where my next home is going to be. My better 2/3rd's and I have discussed it; lots of muttering over the phone. We still have obligations here in this goddamned place until the end of 2017, so we're trying to behave and not bring chaos down upon our heads before the balloon goes up – another worry. The Donald and nukes; shudder. Maybe we'll end up on an island and just play jazz forever.

In my case, my 2/3rds'll make room for some Beethoven, along with some moonlight, and it will be all right.

Anyway, I've summed it up as well as I know how; I still have little to no clarity on where any of this is going and it's partly because I doubt Trump himself knows what he's doing from moment to moment. I feel better for venting, but that's all. The people I've written about, I will be watching, via my usual methods, which I never discuss. Just know that I have some formidable resources at hand and I also have kick-ass computer skills, courtesy years spent in the trenches at IBM and Verizon, and a good degree. Again, I'm through with any Dem currently holding office and will vote against ALL of them in the 2018 elections; too little too late. I' counting on the GOP to self-immolate by 2018 and we'll hopefully have just seats of cinders who will miss votes and do about as much as they've done as they did during President Obama's terms. But, by then, I may not care. Peace out, and have a good week!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Upon returning from Japan, I find myself coming in on the middle of a really good movie and having no earthly clue as to what the plot is about. To say that crossing the International Date Line and living on an island Nation, touring, seeing practically the entire country from a bus, train, or airplane and rehearsing with four different singers and playing five different programs, all while schlepping "Wolf" (my viola), 50 pounds of luggage, a growing collection of plastic bags, souvenirs and cloth bags, losing mittens, gloves and slipping and falling on ice and dance floors, not to mention down stairs and escalators - a sad trail of bags, luggage, upside-down Wolf (in his case), flowing majestically down the escalator, as I did my best "Mr. Bean" impression to keep from connecting my noggin with the well-placed metal object, that was suitably just-my-height, left me more than a bit tuckered out upon returning to the United States, but resulted in a nice, days'-long nap. 

If nothing else, I got into terrific physical and playing shape! We had a terrific time and I made new friends, as well, as catching up with old ones. Being out of the circuit for a while has been weird, and it feels good to be back. I will have much, much more to write about in the days to come. I really didn't have time to do any serious writing at all on this tour; there just wasn't time, but I did jot down some ideas for later work. I leave you with this iconic picture of Mt. Fuji, taken from early on in the tour. Such a beauty and a harbinger of what was to come; Sapporo and 305 miles as the crow flies from Siberia and we felt every negative degree of it! It was exhilarating and fun and I don't want to do it again for another 2 years! Happy #IWSG'ing!