Archive for December 21st, 2017

Christmas Lights

Don’t think that life is somewhere over the rainbow. What you’ve got right now, with your family, your friends, your house: this might be as good as life is ever going to be. Life is not happening on the other side of the rainbow. We are on the other side of the rainbow.

—rabbi Shaul Praver, upon Shabbat, for Noah Posner

I was leaving to go to work and she woke up before I left and I’ve actually been teaching her Portuguese and so our last conversation was in Portuguese. And she told me good morning and asked how I was doing. And I said that I was doing well. She said that she loved me and I gave her a kiss and I was out the door.

I’m not mad. Because I have my agency to make sure that I use this event to do what I can, to do whatever I can. I want to make sure that my family, my wife and my daughters, are taken care of, and that, if there is anything I can do to help anybody, at any time, anywhere, I’d be willing to do that.

Robbie Parker, father of Emilie Parker

All the guns are gone. They became gone when the Americans understood that they didn’t want to live in fear anymore. When they understood that fear is over. That it is no longer necessary. That it is a product of the lizard brain. That the brain is bigger Emilie Parkerthan that now. That the lizard brain peaked hundreds of millions of years ago. That its day: it is done.

The guns gone even from the police. When Jerry Brown was governor of California there the first time, sometimes Ken Kesey would wander down from Oregon, stop in at the state capitol, and there hold forth to whoever might be around. Once he held forth on how the police needed to “lay the gun down”; they would never be accepted as part of the community, he said, could never do their job, until they did. Brown himself at one point strolled in, listened a bit, then scoffed: “It’s not going to happen. The police are not going to lay down their guns. Let’s talk about something Real.” Kesey smiled, and then he said: “Oh, but it is Real.” And he was right. We are in that Real now.

There are no guns in the nation’s military. And the nation doesn’t have a military. America is at peace with its neighbors, Canada and Mexico. And so, no military is necessary.

There is one gun left among the Americans. It is in a museum. People come by, and they look at it, and they wonder: what were they thinking?

In the early reports out of Newtown, I was struck by this:

Connecticut is reaching out to other states to help with autopsies because they don’t have enough medical examiners.

There was no shortage of people with guns arriving on the scene. There never was. But for healers, Connecticut had to go out of state.

And I thought: that is precisely the opposite of the way it should be. Always, there should be a surfeit of healers, always on hand. But for guns, a call must go out, to bring them in, from far and far and far away—ten thousand leagues, beyond, the wide world’s end. Because the age of the warrior, it is over. We’re in the era of healers now.

All the guns were gone that day the children of Newtown died. Everyone knew it then. It just took some a while longer to accept it. Because children, they are like Christmas lights. Soft and warm and glowing; never to be broken. And they are like that all of their lives. Because there is no such thing as a grownup.


And I Must Say I Feel Pretty Goddam Good Right Now

After 113 years defiantly facing Union Avenue, the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest was pulled from its pedestal at exactly 9:01 p.m. on Wednesday night.

Secured with straps—let’s call them shackles, with Forrest finally on the receiving end—it swayed under trees for a delicate seven-minute journey to the back of a flatbed truck, whose company information had been covered in tape, a clandestine precaution. 

A little less than an hour later, covered by a blue hood and standing upright, Forrest made his last ride to parts unknown, down a street representing that which he once sought to destroy. Once again, Union had prevailed.

Chris Herrington

This happened because people mandated it and wanted it. Take ‘Em Down 901 is now Took ‘Em Down 901. Those two symbols of white supremacy stunk up Memphis’s parks for TOO LONG. And as of 9:01 last night, they were finally moved. My hometown has never looked better.

Tami Sawyer

It’s important to know why we’re here: The Forrest statue was placed in 1904, as Jim Crow segregation laws were enacted. The Davis statue was placed in 1964, as the Civil Rights Movement changed our country. The statues no longer represent who we are.

In the days after the August events in Charlottesville, we saw an avalanche of support come together behind our efforts. So it’s important that we not forget the sea change that made today a reality: Republicans and Democrats, a unanimous city and county government, Gov. Haslam, scores of diverse members of the clergy, prominent members of the business community, and citizen demonstrators came together to support the same cause.

In all of my life in Memphis, I’ve never seen such solidarity. To all who have joined the effort: THANK YOU.

Jim Strickland

Party To No Covenants

There were times when he was capable of rejoicing in himself as a singularity—a man without a story, secure from tribal delusion, able to see the many levels. But at other times he felt that he might give anything to be able to explain himself. To call himself Jew or Greek, Gentile or otherwise, the citizen of no mean city. But he had no recourse except to call himself an American and hence the slave of possibility. He was not always up for the necessary degree of self-invention, unprepared, occasionally, to assemble himself.

And sometimes the entire field of folk seemed alien and hostile, driven by rages he could not comprehend, drunk on hopes he could not imagine. So he could make his way only through questioning, forever inquiring of wild-eyed obsessives the nature of their dreams, their assessment of themselves and their enemies, listening agreeably while they poured scorn on his ignorance and explained the all too obvious. When he wrote, it was for some reader like himself, a bastard, party to no covenants, promised nothing except the certainty of silence overhead, darkness around. Sometimes he had to face the simple fact that he had nothing and no one and try to remember when that had seemed a source of strength and perverse pride. Sometimes it came back for him.

Robert Stone


The Truth About The Tubes

Let There Be Lights

The French are a people who, in the immortal words of National Lampoon, “fight with their feet and fuck with their faces.”

They are also good with light. We know this because the first successful photographer was a Frenchman. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. His first photo was of rooftops.

His second photo was of a nude woman. This, too, is French.

Mary was nude when she gave birth to Jesus. Which is not often mentioned in the Christmas stories. We also know, from the true-life non-fiction tome The Da Vinci Code, that after the crucifixion, which did not actually happen, Mary went with her son Jesus, and her daughter-in-law, also named Mary, up into France, where they all ate cheese and drank bordeaux and raised the children of Jesus. Of which I am a direct descendant.

Everything is connected.

Some people might think it might be a little cold for Mary to be nude when giving birth to Jesus, there on December 25. Except that Jesus wasn’t actually born on Christmas. The best guess is that he was, in truth, born in March. Which would make him a Pisces. And in March it wouldn’t be that cold, if you were nude and giving birth to Jesus. Especially if you were in the manger, and there receiving warmth from the kindly animals.

We know that the animals were kindly, and that they were in the manger, because that is why at midnight every Christmas morning all the animals all over the world are gifted for a bit with human speech, if they feel like speaking it. This is the animals’ annual reward for being kind and warm in the manger, when Mary was nude, and giving birth to Jesus.

We know this “Night The Animals Talk” is Real because my friend David cared for the rodents at the college Rat Lab, and one early Christmas morning he was there, and he Recorded the rats, when they talked in human speech, and then he transcribed their remarks, and I put them in a Newspaper, of which I was then the editor.

That newspaper is probably there somewhere down in the basement. But it would take a Miracle of Jesus to timely find it. So I am not going to try.


When I Worked

December 2017
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