Archive for July, 2011

True Stories of Inspiring American Leadership

July 28th, 2011

Wounded Knee is part of our family’s history.  Leonard’s great-grandfather, the first Crow Dog, had been one of the leaders of the Ghost Dancers.  He and his group had held on in the icy ravines of the Badlands all winter, but when the soldiers came in force to kill all the Ghost Dancers he had surrendered his band to avoid having his people killed.  Old accounts describe how Crow Dog simply sat down between the rows of soldiers on one side, and the Indians on the other, all ready and eager to start shooting.  He had covered himself with a blanket and was just sitting there.  Nobody knew what to make of it.  The leaders on both sides were so puzzled that they just did not get around to opening fire.  They went to Crow Dog, lifted the blanket, and asked him what he meant to do.  He told them that sitting there with the blanket over him was the only thing he could think of to make all the hotheads, white and red, curious enough to forget fighting.  Then he persuaded his people to lay down their arms.  Thus he saved his people just a few miles away from where Big Foot and his band were massacred.

Mary Crow Dog, Lakota Woman (Grove Weidenfeld 1990).  This story bears a striking resemblance to a well-attested incident in the life of Sitting Bull.  There are differences.  In Sitting Bull’s case, the soldiers already were shooting, and Sitting Bull was accompanied between the lines by a small group of followers.  Sitting Bull sat down and in an unhurried

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Parte per te stesso

July 17th, 2011

I was going to begin this sentence with the phrase “in these times of massive lunacy,” but when, looking at the national political scene, could one not have described it thus?  Just the other day, Senator Orin Hatch (Shit-for-brains, Utah) trotted out once again the idea of a constitutional amendment requiring the federal government to have a balanced budget, just a bare two years after the federal government saved his ass and everybody else’s from economic catastrophe by (cue drums) deficit spending.  Meanwhile, the liberals’ Great Hope Obama calls for “shared sacrifice” to reduce the deficit, with cuts to social support programs coupled with raised taxes on some of the playtoys of the rich, as if there were some parity involved.  It brings to mind Anatole France’s quip that “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”  At the same time, on the right wing the Tea Partyers and their associated stooges for the megarich like Eric Cantor (Dickhead, Virginia) insist that the social contract should not apply to them, at least not insofar as they are expected to contribute to society – they’re perfectly happy to receive government benefits –  while across the room the progressives flounder in a myopia which cannot perceive the difference between Haley Barbour and Barak Obama.  A plague on all their houses.  As did Dante seven hundred years ago, I declare myself a Party of One.

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Pledge Break

July 9th, 2011

If you like what you read on this blog, let me tell you, the book behind the blog is even better!  It’s the world’s only up-to-date authoritative guide to the sights, sounds and smells of hell!  Over seven hundred years in the making!  Our staff has visited the places we tell you about, not once, but twice!  Information you can’t get anywhere else! Thirty-four fact-and-description-packed cantos!  If you read only one canto a day, it works out to less then what you spend every morning for a cup of coffee!  Show your support for locally produced, free range, grass fed, organically grown, no antibiotics literature!  Buy it, you’ll like it!

Next week we will return to our regular blogging, whether or not we meet our goal of 100 new volumes sold.  But we certainly will blog in a perkier manner if we do!

The Tree of Life

July 3rd, 2011

I saw Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life yesterday, and when I left the theatre, around midnight, and crossed the parking lot, the trees and lights and cars looked more sharply focused, with clearer, more saturated colors, brighter highlights, more richly detailed shadows, than they had before, and everywhere I turned my eyes was full of life and motion, even though there was no wind.  It’s a powerful film.

There is no narrative as such, although there are narrative elements, and much of the central third seems roughly chronological.  There’s a man, Jack, who is now a successful businessman in some major city.  He may be an architect.  He’s having some sort of crisis of identity in his profession.  Much of the film focuses on his life as a boy in Waco, Texas, in the nineteen fifties.  The focal point of view in these sections is Jack’s, mostly, but it is unclear whether we are seeing things as they happened or as he now remembers them.  His mother is idealized.  He was a troubled early adolescent.  (Who isn’t?)  His relationship with his father was and remains troubled.  His father’s relationship with himself and with the mother was troubled.  Jack is the eldest of three brothers.  The middle one, the sensitive, musically creative one, died at the age of nineteen, devastating the mother.   The movie doesn’t tell us how or why he died.   The youngest brother was just sort of there, a mere vague presence, so far as Jack was concerned.  At the end of the movie, Jack experiences some sort of reconciliation with his brother’s death and his father’s emotionally brutal masculinity and other issues residual from his childhood.  He looks up at the cold, glassy skyscrapers he inhabits and smiles, a warm, embracing smile.

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