So much devastation, so few resources. There are the horrors of war and the devastation of cities and culture. There’s the devastation of our ideals by a government that should never have been allowed to hold power. There’s the devastation that nature can bring by flood and fire and earthquake and tornado.
Somehow, we endure.
I hope to find a way to rise above devastation. To keep on keeping on. I get discouraged. Demoralized. I had thought this would be a time in my life when I could get look back and see how far we had come. It seems no matter how far you think you’ve come, it doesn’t take much to undo it.
I want to believe that what goes around will come again. Education will be valued. Art will be supported and treasured. Truth will be recognized as singular, not negotiable. Those who want to save the planet will win over those who would despoil it.
I want to live to see it. Some might call it motivation!
A little less than a month ago, on December 27, 2016, actress Carrie Fisher died after suffering a heart attack on a plane. Her death was followed the next day by that of her mother, Debbie Reynolds. The world, especially that part of it which (like me) was brought up on Star Wars as a staple of our pop culture, deeply mourned the loss of the classy lady who not only played Princess Leia in the movies but epitomized her. This article is not an obituary for Carrie Fisher. If you want one of those, I highly recommend the touching piece by the Burning Blogger of Bedlam giving tribute to “the people’s princess.” I loved Princess Leia. You loved Princess Leia. We all admired her courage, determination and grit. Carrie Fisher, who went through a lot of hard knocks in her life, will be greatly missed.
Yesterday (January 21, 2017), the day after the inauguration as President of the United States of a fascistic know-nothing who detests women and just about everybody else, millions of people in the United States and around the world–including even Antarctica!–took to the streets to support women’s rights, feminism, empowerment, diversity and to express in no uncertain terms their opposition to the viewpoints of President Trump. I took part in one of these marches, in Eugene, Oregon. Like everywhere else, the crowds that turned out vastly exceeded what authorities expected. There were (reportedly) 750,000 in Los Angeles and over 1 million in Washington, D.C., dwarfing the tepid and pathetic “crowd” that turned out for Trump’s lackluster inauguration. In Eugene I’m told police expected 1,000 marchers. The number who showed up? Over 10,000.
I was struck, during yesterday’s march, by one recurrent image: the face of Princess Leia as an icon of resistance.
Carrie Fisher, as she appeared in 2015. Her outspoken views are part of the reason why Princess Leia resonates as a symbol.
I saw Carrie Fisher’s face in a lot of places. Many people, men as well as women, were carrying signs with her picture (one of them is shown at the top of this article). I saw a woman with the symbol of the Rebellion from Star Wars tattooed on her arm, and I saw a man with a patch of the same symbol on the back of his denim jacket. In one of the most touching tweets I saw about the march, Fisher’s Star Wars co-star and friend Mark Hamill referenced Leia as a symbol of women’s empowerment, linking it to Fisher’s own strongly-professed beliefs during her lifetime. His tweet included an image of a woman, evidently from the Los Angeles march, dressed as Princess Leia.
When women’s rights are under attack in real-life America, can a science fiction princess help us defend them?
I meant to start this yesterday. Yesterday was January 20th 2017. I tried not to watch live TV so I ended up spending the whole day watching episodes of Star Trek.
BBC America runs them all day long. I soon realized I was watching them because the Star Trek Universe is the way things are supposed to be. The Earth has no poverty. Everybody has jobs. The planet is doing just fine.
The only problems in the 24th century are Romulans and grouchy Klingons.
But eventually I had to come back to reality. All day today, January 21st 2017, I have been watching live TV. All day. I just finished watching the new President give a speech from CIA headquarters in Washington DC.
It was sort of a stream of consciousness rant. He mostly talked about himself. He pointed out for some reason that he has been on the cover of Time Magazine more than anyone else in history. Yes, he said “In History.” Of course, that’s a lie. The person who was on Time Magazine’s cover most often in history was … Richard Nixon! Why? For being President. But he was on the cover a lot more because of Watergate and the fact that he was the only U.S. President ever to resign in disgrace. Trump may be bad for the country but he’s great for irony.
He then complained about the crowd estimates for his Inauguration. The “dishonest media” were reporting that 250,000 people showed up. He said that he saw maybe a million. Two “sort-of” sentences later he said that he saw at least one and a half million people! Why was he so obsessed with this topic?
Well, as he was giving this speech an actual half million people were in Washington DC protesting against him! There were marches on every continent, including Antarctica. Seventy countries, 673 towns across the world held HUGE protests; 370 cities in the United States alone. At least one protest in EVERY STATE! And here’s the thing that really surprised me.
When he finished, I expected the mainstream media pundits to start dissecting every crazy thing he said and waste hours pointing out why 90% of what he said made no sense. But no, the media just interrupted the coverage of all the protests, aired the speech and as soon as it was over they went right back to the coverage of the protests. They ignored him.
That is when it hit me. The media are covering the real story. It’s bigger than you think.
To put this in perspective, I’ve been in the news biz for a long time. I rarely went out in the field, but on my first time out I covered the anti-Vietnam war protests in May 1970 in Washington DC for my college radio station, WVHC.
It was a big deal. More than 100,000 people showed up. I was up on the stage at the base of the Capitol looking out over a sea of people, shoulder-to-shoulder as far as the eye could see. Then, Country Joe and the Fish sang “The Fish Cheer”. But instead of Fish it was F#@K. More than 100,000 people where chanting: “What’s that spell? F@#K! “What’s that spell? F@#K!
Aah, the good times. That’s it. Those were good times. Even though we were there to protest a horrible war, everybody was upbeat. It was positive. It was a real movement. It took years of war in Vietnam, a war which had taken thousands of lives to get people to the point where they were willing to get up, get out, and march.
Today I watched more than 500,000 people march in Washington. I watched Madonna tell the new President “F@#K You. The news outlets are reporting that these are the biggest and most widespread protests in history. Biggest. Protests. Ever. It’s not hyperbole. It’s true and real and important because …
IT’S ONLY HIS FIRST DAY IN OFFICE!!!!!
The other interesting thing is how diverse the crowds are. All ethnicities. Women, men, young, old. The placards are great. My favorites:
“There is so much wrong, it cannot fit on this sign.”
“We Shall Over Comb”
I can see the baby boomers realizing that they have to get out of their recliners, go out into the streets — and do it again. The thing that keeps coming out is how positive all these marches are. This new “Women’s Movement” has been much bigger than anybody anticipated. I’m not surprised. To paraphrase Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto when he was told of the successful attack on Pearl Harbor, “I feel all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill her with a terrible resolve.”
Many are complaining that a lot of these people:
“Didn’t vote for Hillary”
“Didn’t vote at all”
“Where the hell were all these people before the election?”
You know what? It doesn’t matter. They’re here now. Will it continue? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s a flash in the pan, either. It’s more like a shot heard round the world — with the whole world shooting.
On January 20th 2017, a door closed.
On January 21st 2017, a window opened. Through that window appeared rays of hope. Right now, that is pretty much all we’ve got. I hope we don’t fall out.
Oh yeah, and don’t take the brown ant-acid.
From Marilyn: A big thank you to my cousin, Dr. Roberta Goldberg, who actually got up and went out and did her part in keeping American great and keeping America AMERICA.. We ARE great. She took pictures — another thank you!
It’s the time of year when I set aside my blogging cloak and don the cloak of book judge. From now until the end of February, I’ve got a lot of reading to do. it means I’ll be visiting you less often and posting less. I’m sure you will all manage with less of me for a few weeks. I won’t forget you.
I hope these books are better than the last batch. I worry about the state of literature.
I’ve also picked up a miserable head cold. Why is it that I am brave and stalwart in the face of major adversity, but a pathetic whiny lump in the face of a runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat and all that other stuff? And yes, Garry’s got it too because caring is sharing and we really care.
It’s a new year. The last one zipped by in hyperdrive. A year ago today, we had just returned from Arizona. This year, no such luck … but it has been a surprisingly warm month. Just one snow of any measurable amount. Other few little snows have not rated being shoveled, much less plowed.
I really wanted to do just one picture this time, but the variability of the weather has made that difficult. We have been alternating springlike warm weather with deep winter cold and snow, often in as short an interval as 12 hours.
Photo: Garry Armstrong – Bicycle by the wall in Uxbridge
Photo: Garry Armstrong –Winter at home
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
My back door
Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong
«The Changing Seasons 2017» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the newer version (V2) where you can be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month.
Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2017. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcomed.
These are the rules (want the full introduction? Click Here), but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking.
The great Cardinal Guzman sponsors this challenge and it is my favorite. He is a wonderfully gifted and imaginative photographer. Whether or not you decide to participate, please visit and look at his amazing photography. You’ll be glad you did!
A birthday party was the perfect prescription for those of us trying to wrestle with the state of our nation and the new administration in Washington, D.C. Our friend Dave invited us to share his birthday. Nothing fancy. No presents. Just a few friends, snacks, drinks and a small cake.
Dave lives just a few miles from our house and the 2pm start meant we had enough time to socialize and get home for the two NFL playoff games. We have priorities!!
We heard laughter as we arrived. Always a good sign. I counted maybe eight faces as we went inside. Good for me. My poor hearing means I don’t do well in large groups. I looked around and knew everyone. Another good sign. There would be no forced conversation with strangers.
It was a (mostly) baby boomer gathering and birthday boy, Dave could’ve been singing “When I’m 64.” He wasn’t singing. I promised myself I wouldn’t discuss politics. After a few hugs, kisses, and handshakes, guess who and what was the focus of our jibber-jabber? No one mentioned his name, the new President. The guy with the orange hair. President Obama’s successor. The reality show star. But we could feel his eerie presence, lurking like a shadow.
The conversation ranged from new cabinet nominees, to health care, to repeated questions about how this guy became our Commander-In-Chief. Even though half the folks in the room were normally Republicans, no one (apparently) had voted for him. But someone voted for him because he’s in the White House.
Meanwhile, talk about health care and the lack there of, not to mention the unfortunate quality of same, segued into cemetery plots. The cost of burials. We compared traditional burials with cremation. Marilyn reminded us about drive-through cremation, the economical alternative to getting planted in the traditional way. Francesca said they bury them vertically in parts of Italy because there’s no more room. The burial biz could be bigger than plastics for new graduates. There was a longish couple of silences while we all digested how we would each have to deal with “the big sleep”… possibly sooner rather than later.
Time for the birthday cake and a round of “Happy Birthday” for Dave. We sang with gusto, each in our own key. Our enthusiasm compensated for lack of musical talent.
It wasn’t an easy segue. I asked a couple how their kids were doing. They are now young adults, one in college, another graduating high school. Another long pause and segue into the cost of college. Would Mom and Dad be around to see how their daughter and son fared professionally? A bit of a crap shoot, that.
We segued back to cemeteries and the cost of dying. Someone talked about time payments. Apparently, if you don’t keep up your payments, some places will dig up the bodies and stack them like cord wood. We laughed. Ruefully.
I noticed everyone casting furtive glances around the room. I blushed a little because I realized I was the oldest in our gathering. Marilyn assured me I look younger than her, certainly younger than my years. Thanks, Mar.
I looked at my watch and loudly announced we had to get home to feed the dogs, my best move to end the talk about dying and the prohibitive cost of funerals, not to mention grave maintenance. You need a multi-generational maintenance contract or they’ll toss your bones in the big pit. In any case, it’s not like you’ll be around to make sure they keep their end of the bargain.
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