Friday, December 30, 2011

As of this date.....

the Sewer Raccoon News will no longer be sent out unsolicited.
We have retained an undisclosed mailing list that will
go out with every post.  Persons on this list are those with whom we
have had some interchange; all others occasionally desiring to 
read the SRN are invited to Google it.

Thank you, and happy new year!

Ring in the old, out with the new

we take stock at the Odd Fellows Hall.

Of treasures we have many
though shekels wane
in circumstances and  the economy;
of words,
we will remain at the
 telegrapher's key;
of true friends it rains cats and dogs;
well, minus one signficant cat -
vastly diminishing the deluge;
of lov-ed ones, they answer:
and they are there.

Gauzy good health
gauzy good luck in the year of the rat
the uncertainties of these times
offer a net that could well
be breached.

What might the new year bring?
everyone wonders



Thursday, December 29, 2011

A reasoned voice predicts violence

"There Will Be Violence, Mark My Words"

By Michael Thomas, Newsweek
28 December 11

magine a vast field on which a terrible battle has recently been fought, the bare ground cratered by fusillade after fusillade of heavy artillery, trees reduced to blackened stumps, wisps of toxic gas hanging in the gray, and corpses everywhere.
A terrible scene, made worse by the sound of distant laughter, because somehow, on the heights commanding the dead zone, the officers' club has made it through intact. From its balconies flutter bunting, and across the blasted landscape there comes a chorus of hearty male voices in counterpoint to the wheedling of cadres of wheel-greasers, the click of betting chips, the orotund declamations of a visiting congressional delegation: in sum, the celebratory hullabaloo of a class of people that has sent entire nations off to perish but whose only concern right now is whether the '11 is ready to drink and who'll see to tipping the servants. The notion that there might be someone or some force out there getting ready to slouch toward the buttonwood tree to exact retribution scarcely ruffles the celebrants' joy.
Ah, Wall Street. As it was in the beginning, is now, and hopes to God it ever will be, world without end. Amen.
Or so it seems to me. It was in May 1961 that a series of circumstances took me from the hushed precincts of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where I was working as a curatorial assistant in the European Paintings Department, to Lehman Brothers, to begin what for the next 30 years would be an involvement - I hesitate to call it "a career" - in investment banking. I would promote and execute deals, sit on boards, kiss ass, and lie through my teeth: the whole megillah. In consequence of which, I would wear Savile Row and carry a Herm├Ęs briefcase. I had Mme. Claude's home number in Paris and I frequented the best clubs in a half-dozen cities. But I had a problem: I was unable to develop the anticommunitarian moral opacity that is the key to real success on Wall Street.
I had my doubts from the beginning. A few months after I started to work downtown, I ran into an old friend from college and before, a man later to become one of New York's most esteemed writers and editors.
"So," he asked, "how do you like what you're doing now?"
"I like it quite a lot," I said. And this was true: these were new frontiers for me, the pace was lively, the money was good enough ($6,500 a year), and there was so much to learn. But there was one aspect of Wall Street that I found morally confusing if not distasteful: "There's one thing that bothers me, though. It's this: on the one hand the New York Stock Exchange has sent its president, the estimable G. Keith Funston, out into the countryside, supported by an expensive, extensive advertising campaign, to exhort the proletariat to Own your share of America! As if buying 50 shares of IBM or GM in 1961 is as much of a civic duty as buying a $100 war bond in 1943."
I then added, "But here's the thing. At the same time as Funston's out there doing his thing, if you ask any veteran Wall Street pro how the Street works, the first thing he'll tell you is: The public is always wrong. Always." I paused to let that sink in, then confessed, "I have to tell you, I have trouble squaring that circle."
And that was back when Wall Street was basically honest, brought into line thanks in part to Ferdinand Pecora's 1933 humiliation of the great bankers of the Jazz Age and even more so because of the communitarian exigencies forced on the nation by war. From Pearl Harbor to V-J Day, greed was definitely not good, and that proscriptive spirit lingered on right up to 1970, when everything started to change, and the traders began their long march through our great houses of finance, with the inevitable consequence that the Street's moral bookkeeping grew more and more contorted, its corruptions more elaborate, its self-interest less and less governable. What someone has called the "Greed Wars" began.
But now, I think, the game is at long last over.
As 2011 slithers to its end, none of the major problems that led to the crisis point three years ago have really been solved. Bank balance sheets still reek. Europe day by day becomes a financial black hole, with matter from the periphery being sucked toward the center until the vortex itself collapses. The Street and its ministries of propaganda have fallen back on a Big Lie as old as capitalism itself: that all that has gone wrong has been government's fault. This time, however, I don't think the argument that "Washington ate my homework" is going to work. This time, a firestorm is going to explode about the Street's head - and about time, too.
It's funny; the Big Lie has a long pedigree. A year or so ago, I was leafing through Ron Chernow's indispensable history of the Morgan financial interests, and found this interesting exchange between FDR and Russell Leffingwell, a Morgan partner and Washington fixer, a sort of Robert Strauss of his day. It dates from the summer of 1932, with FDR not yet in office:
"You and I know," wrote Leffingwell, "that we cannot cure the present deflation and depression by punishing the villains, real or imaginary, of the first post war decade, and that when it comes down to the day of reckoning nobody gets very far with all this prohibition and regulation stuff." To which FDR replied: "I wish we could get from the bankers themselves an admission that in the 1927 to 1929 period there were grave abuses and that the bankers themselves now support wholeheartedly methods to prevent recurrence thereof. Can't bankers see their own advantage in such a course?" And then Leffingwell again: "The bankers were not in fact responsible for 1927–29 and the politicians were. Why then should the bankers make a false confession?"
This time, I fear, the public anger will not be deflected. Confessions, not false, will be exacted. Occupy Wall Street has set the snowball rolling; you may not think much of OWS - I have my own reservations, although none are philosophical or moral - but it has made America aware of a sinister, usurious process by which wealth has systematically been funneled into fewer and fewer hands. A process in which Washington played a useful supporting role, but no more than that.
Over the next year, I expect the "what" will give way to the "how" in the broad electorate's comprehension of the financial situation. The 99 percent must learn to differentiate the bloodsuckers and rent-extractors from those in the 1 percent who make the world a better, more just place to live. Once people realize how Wall Street made its pile, understand how financiers get rich, what it is that they actually do, the time will become ripe for someone to gather the spreading ripples of anger and perplexity into a focused tsunami of retribution. To make the bastards pay, properly, for the grief and woe they have caused. Perhaps not to the extent proposed by H. L. Mencken, who wrote that when a bank fails, the first order of business should be to hang its board of directors, but in a manner in which the pain is proportionate to the collateral damage. Possibly an excess-profits tax retroactive to 2007, or some form of "Tobin tax" on transactions, or a wealth tax. The era of money for nothing will be over.
But it won't just end with taxes. When the great day comes, Wall Street will pray for another Pecora, because compared with the rough beast now beginning to strain at the leash, Pecora will look like Phil Gramm. Humiliation and ridicule, even financial penalties, will be the least of the Street's tribulations. There will be prosecutions and show trials. There will be violence, mark my words. Houses burnt, property defaced. I just hope that this time the mob targets the right people in Wall Street and in Washington. (How does a right-thinking Christian go about asking Santa for Mitch McConnell's head under the Christmas tree?) There will be kleptocrats who threaten to take themselves elsewhere if their demands on jurisdictions and tax breaks aren't met, and I say let 'em go!
At the end of the day, the convulsion to come won't really be about Wall Street's derivatives malefactions, or its subprime fun and games, or rogue trading, or the folly of banks. It will be about this society's final opportunity to rip away the paralyzing shackles of corruption or else dwell forever in a neofeudal social order. You might say that 1384 has replaced 1984 as our worst-case scenario. I have lived what now, at 75, is starting to feel like a long life. If anyone asks me what has been the great American story of my lifetime, I have a ready answer. It is the corruption, money-based, that has settled like some all-enveloping excremental mist on the landscape of our hopes, that has permeated every nook of any institution or being that has real influence on the way we live now. Sixty years ago, if you had asked me, on the basis of all that I had been taught, whether I thought this condition of general rot was possible in this country, I would have told you that you were nuts. And I would have been very wrong. What has happened in this country has made a lie of my boyhood.
There should be more to America, Gore Vidal has written, than who pays tax to whom. It has been in Wall Street's interest to shrivel our sensibilities as a nation, to shove aside the verities of which General MacArthur spoke at West Point - duty, honor, country - in favor of grubby schemes and scams and "carried interest" calculations. Time, I think, to take the country back.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A TIME FOR OUTRAGE, by Stephane Hessel

Stephane Hessel, 94

A World War II concentration camp survivor and fighter in the French resistance argues that people should fight to reclaim the rights of life and liberty, which have been eroded by governments since the end of World War II.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Yuletide at the Odd Fellows
Perched atop the Putney building
on the top right 3rd floor unit
one sees the constellation 'Festoon Fox'
illuminated in the loft
through the right window.
Children especially gather on the
street below to ooooo and ahhhhh
and some are heard to exclaim,


Monday, December 26, 2011


Leland creeps up behind me and shoots us with his new ultra-dandy phone, for which his brain is only an accessory.
(He paid for the phone machine with his own money).

Barefeet in the Odd Fellows hall.

Gramaw's fruit cake. A hit, always.

Four glass Christmas goblets given by Sue Pojaski.  Girl in background hopes she was not included in the picture.

Above the previously shared crab Santa ornament hangs the bristly raccoon ornament from
Sally (Martin) v. Briesen.

Dee adorned in octogenarian June Bjorklund's historic angel costume, from June's many costumed enactments at the Congo, Eastern Star, and many other venues.
Dee also goes barefoot.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A cup of kindness yet.......

Today is Christmas Eve.
G. Keillor 12-24-11

It was on this day in 1914 that the last known Christmas truce occurred along the Western Front during World War I. In the week leading up to Christmas, soldiers all over the battlefields had been decorating their trenches with candles and makeshift trimmings when groups of German and British soldiers began shouting seasonal greetings and singing songs to each other. On occasion, a soldier or two would even cross the battlefield to take gifts to the enemy. Then, on Christmas Eve, the men of the Western Front put the war on hold and many soldiers from both sides left their trenches to meet in No Man's Land, where they mingled and exchanged tobacco, chocolate, and sometimes even the buttons from their own uniforms as souvenirs. They played games of football, sang carols, and buried fallen comrades together as the unofficial truce lasted through the night.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Could be there be bats in those belfries?

At the Odd Fellows, there are so many nooks and crannies through which bats could squeeze that it is not unbelievable that we have nocturnal winged visitors in the dark hours of night.  Looking for long hair to tangle in.

I have a hand tool for catching them when they circle overhead. It was made to be  a landing net for fish, and many have been the lunker and smaller species of piscatorians that I've landed in this old net.  There was one I never could catch, already written about.
Catching bats in this net is easy, like swinging at a tennis ball, 
although bats will zig and zag, per their nature.
A determined fish-or-bat netter will snag the creature,
whereupon the bat is taken outside and carefully released,

Still Fickle Bat

A bat I thought was you
Fluttered around my head
Last night after the lights
were turned off

I opened the door
To let you find your way out
But you stayed
Would not go
Winging around my sought repose

Nibbling my ear lobes
The way you used to do
 I went out myself
And you followed me

Joining another bat
Zig-zagging in the darkness
Both of you exchanged squeaks
And left

I lay awake a long time
Wondering if you’d be back
 The only way to keep you
Is to set you free

[DD 2007]]

Or, perhaps I just spent too much time studying the bat-like 1995 Maryland crab ornament,  before retiring last night?


The nicest, brightest upper-apartment Christmas lights

are found next door to us, at 312 South Street.  There must be two identical apartments above the stores at that one address.  They each apparently have side-by-side bay windows, and are accessed from the street through a Gothic doorway (right).  While I was taking this picture a woman came out of that medieval door and entered a car parked across the street.  Pulling next to me she rolled down her window and said, "You like my lights?"

"Yeah, I love them!  So very cheeerful for our street.  I live next door to you."

She said as she drove away, "You oughta see the INSIDE!"

Unfortunately for the quality of this digitally-shot exposure (I tried several) her interior lights were also blazing.  Those bright ceiling lights somewhat diminished the many strings of colored lights bannering her window glass.  But maybe I will try again when she has the lights off.

Meantime, I'll rack this sighting up as a simple antidote to the outlying Waukesha dwelling's massive, electric meter-spinning illuminations.   So bright and lustrous that people at Christmas-time take drives through these 'better' neighborhoods, to o-o-o-o and a-h-h-h-h as they slowly meander the streets and lanes.  Have been there, done that.

I'd invite them to see what this up-beat girl did with her 'lesser' windows.  Take a drive down South Street between Grand and Clinton.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

From SRN to Jack Hill, this date:

I thought of you when studying this picture.  It's a Xmas gift from one of Dee's home companioning clients.
The cookies are sumptuous-looking, too good to eat, but get a load of that plastic container.  The form is used all over - in the supermarket deli self-help counters & etc - YET IT IS GREAT. 

      And to think that my old HS friend made his fortune in plastics.  Yet he's still humble enough to eat with me at Jimmy's Grotto!


This photo was sent to the raccoon news by Rev. John Helt yesterday.  The Helts removed the old inverted cone heat-losing fireplace that came with their house, and replaced it with an energy efficient state-of-the-art enclosed wood stove.  It's what you see straight ahead when entering the front door.  A warm welcome, instantly.

The added mantle gives a justification for the traditional rifle, the feel of a fireplace and a place for the hanging stockings.


The article from today's Freeman says that people stood outside on the sidewalk and cheered when this controversial old gas station and later fruit stand came down.  The cheerers might have been from the YMCA, and/or backers of their expansion plans, who knows?

It seems downright un-Christmasy, even if the hungry clawed crane is red and the demolished roof is green.
One more casualty from my Waukesha youth, in the name of PROGRESS.

  If I had a nickel for every time I walked as a kid past that charming, blending-with-the-neighborhood 'filling station'  I could buy many many of cups of Steaming Cup coffee.

And the Cup, across the street from our Odd Fellows hall,  used to be Morey's News Stand.



Lee, now home for Christmas from Houston,  enjoys a piece of Cleo Glasenapp's stained-glass candy.
When told where it came from, Lee took a piece and, breaking it, said, 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thank you, Jesus

play BALL!


I oppose

A friend sends this
as a memorial to Mona:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Out to pasture, in style

Old folks get to ride, too

On Wheeling Island in West Virginia there was a rooming house
we spotted a few years ago on a walk across the ancient suspension bridge 
spanning the Ohio River.

From the looks of the house's exterior, the elderly hosteled there
were treated to cleanliness, mirth and merriment.

 The residents probably got to ride plenty of
fully -connected merry go round horses in their day.
Fancy should run the full gamut in life.
It looks like Wheeling Islanders know how to put their old folks
out to pasture, in style.

Of interest today:

1.  From RSN

Christopher Hitchens: Reason in Revolt

By Robert Scheer
Hitch is dead. Not, obviously, his brilliant body of work, or the stunning examples of a grand and unfettered intellect that will forever survive him, as will the indelible record of his immense wit and passion. But, sadly, a life force that I had assumed as an indissoluble part of our political and literary landscape, as well as my own close circle of friends, has ended, and with it an indispensable element of our collective moral code.
Christopher Hitchens could be wrong; we had harsh public debates about the Iraq War, but I never doubted that, even then, he was coming from a good place of humane concern. In that instance, he allowed his great compassion for the Kurds and his justifiable loathing of Saddam Hussein to overwhelm a lifetime of opposition to the arrogant assumptions of America’s neocolonialism. Despite the vehemence of our debates, both public and personal, he and his saving grace and wife, Carol Blue, held a gathering at their home to discuss a book I wrote on the subject. This was a man unafraid of intellectual challenge and committed to pursuing the heart of the matter.
That was his driving force, a seeker of truth to the end, and a deservedly legendary witness against the hypocrisy of the ever-sanctimonious establishment. What zeal this man had to eviscerate the conceits of the powerful, whether their authority derived from wealth, the state or a claim to the ear of the divine.
Hitch was the opposite of the opportunistic pundits who competed with him for public space. He took immense risks, not the least in offering himself for waterboarding before concluding it was unmistakably torture, or challenging the greatness of God, knowing full well that he was exposing himself as an object of wildly irrational hate.
So it ever was with the Hitch I knew for decades, going back to the young ex-Trotskyite challenging ex-Communist and fellow Brit writer Jessica (Decca) Mitford through nights of lively debate about everything, and then joining that equally grand and kindred spirit in several drunken and rousingly heartfelt renditions of “The Internationale.” Much like Mitford, Hitchens became world famous and well rewarded and, like her, Hitch was to the end singing that worker’s anthem on behalf of the deluded and abused masses with whom, for all of his personal success, he most profoundly identified.
He was a great man, perfect in his intellectual courage, but I am reminded more of the writer, profoundly dedicated to his craft and committed, for all of his sparkle and bouts of excess, to a prodigious workaday effort at making this a better world. In his memory I offer these lyrics from “The Internationale,” as I recall his somewhat inebriated and ever bemused, but no less heartfelt, rendering of these verses:
Arise ye workers from your slumbers
Arise ye prisoners of want
For reason in revolt now thunders
And at last ends the age of cant
Away with all your superstitions
Servile masses arise, arise
We’ll change henceforth the old tradition
And spurn the dust to win the prize.

That was him. A slayer of superstitions, thundering reason in revolt.
Lift a glass to comrade Hitch.

2. From today's NYTimes:

Panning Salon

The record $52.4 billion spree shoppers went on from Black Friday through Cyber Monday was really just for show. Beneath the holiday spending, consumers are grouchy. You can sense their mood just by scanning the posts at consumer-review sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp.
“Produce59” at Trip Advisor had this to say about a room at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Fredericksburg, Va.: “The heating/AC unit was nice and quiet; however, the thermostat is on the wall, so turning the knobs directly on the unit will not get you any results.” We’ll keep that in mind. (“ExArmyRN” had this nit to pick: “It would have been nice if the mini-refrigerator had a small freezer section.”)
Viaggio Ristorante and Lounge in Chicago is positively reviewed, but “Johnny T.” logged in at Yelp to say this:
“The salad was passable ... The orecchiette was ... a little less than a-ok. Serviceable, perhaps... I enjoyed the white beans but there was no heat to the dish ... This was bland. I added red pepper flakes to the dish in search of some sort of seasoning. At the end of the meal, I was left feeling confused.”
Who are these people? I’m not sure, but they are more exacting than professional critics.
If you’re staying at, say, the Econo Lodge in Cave City, Ky., what do you expect at breakfast time? “Tropicanadan” weighed in at Trip Advisor: “The breakfast was adequate but unremarkable.” Really? At an Econo Lodge? In Kentucky?
If the consumer-review Web sites are any indication, the American consumer has become a pain in the neck. Maybe we were spoiled in the blinged-out 1990s and early ’00s and have yet to adjust to hard times. Take “Lisa C.,” of Millbrae, Calif., posting as follows at Yelp after having visited a Starbucks with her boyfriend:
“the barista ... looked at me confused when i said ‘grande hot apple chai’ as if he didn’t know what it was ... then he said ‘apple juice infused into chai tea?’ i responded, ‘yeah...’ my bf usually gets that ‘ice vanilla latte with restretto (sp?)’ and they stared at him too ... my drink didn’t taste that well ... something was off balance and i ended up tossing it...”
We used to understand that convenience comes at a price. The food you get at McDonald’s or Burger King is not meant to be a major culinary event. But now the chains, perhaps in response to customers hopped up on Food Network shows, have gone upscale. McDonald’s plans a $1 billion, Starbucks-like makeover of its restaurants, and Burger King has Whopper Bar restaurants. With the new frills come new expectations. After visiting a McDonald’s in San Diego, a Yelp contributor, “Caroline B.,” wrote:
“The Gelato was some of the worst I have ever had in my entire life. The ‘Watermelon’ looks like pink colored wall putty and had no discernible flavor of fruit of any kind. No one in our group was able to stomach it. I actually threw it away.”
She went on to say that she was no fan of the restrooms. Not because they were dirty. Because of their “faux marble and faux flowers.”
You can’t help wondering whether a full-fledged depression might be the only real cure for what ails us.
Jim Windolf is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on December 18, 2011, on page SR3 of the New York edition with the headline: Panning Salon.


After Dec. 31, the Raccoon News will be working on its fifth year of existence.  The first post was made on that date in 2007.
The random blog-diary was set up for us by then UW-Madison college student son Leland who perhaps unknowingly gave us something we've loved to do.

We are nothing if not survivors so far.
And many said it would not last.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Guthrie 2011 Christmas letter


This year's text as follows:

Friday, December 16, 2011


I caught a brass ring
While riding the merriness of
My life

In the person of Denise Means
From Pleasant Valley, Maryland;
In the conduitous way of

Through natural selection
Of associations
So did many others catch “my” brass ring

In Waukesha and elsewhere
Those folks know who they are
Some think I don't deserve Dee in
my life

And maybe just a few think
They do not deserve Dee
Who is wholesome and pure

To gracefully bear their burdens
With bibles and mops
Year after year,

Her life.

As to My Life and the Dixes'
Let no one imagine that
- except for frail slips -
We take our brass ring
For granted.


Regrettably our aging typesetter mispelled the gorilla's name in the SRN.
it was supposed to be

Milw, Zoo's 'Samson' shown in his long-time glassed cage
Find below a letter to the Editor of the Milw. Journal published in 1981
setting forth our beliefs on the incarceration of animals in zoos.

This clipping is old and yellowed, yet 100% reflective
of our position today.

New Redneck Party news


Redneck Party's Co-founder Jeana Brown pickets as GOP Gov Scott Walker comes South to raise money for his recall election. We might be Right to Work States in the old South but We Know Right from Wrong. Taking away Collective Bargaining Rights away from everyone across this Nation is Dead 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Re Job Creation

Walker Recall Passes Half Million Mark

By Ruth Conniff, December 15, 2011 THE PROGRESSIVE

At noon today, Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Mike Tate announced that the recall petition drive against Governor Scott Walker has passed the half-million mark. Volunteers had collected 507,533 signatures as of December 15.

That's just 32,675 signatures shy of the total needed to trigger a recall election.

Today's date is significant because it is exactly half way through the two-month window allowed by Wisconsin law for collecting the 540,208 signatures that would trigger a recall.

But Mike Tate upped that number, asking volunteers to do better than the minimum requirement and shoot for a goal of 720,000.

"From Superior to Beloit to La Crosse to Milwaukee and all points in between, the people of Wisconsin are rising up," Tate said.

Tate pointed out a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows Wisconsin leads the nation in job losses, even as the governor justifies cuts to schools and social service programs as part of a job-creating strategy. Walker is "kicking more than 65,000 families off health care coverage just in time for Christmas," he added.

"The people of Wisconsin have said enough is enough," Tate declared.

"Scott Walker continues to spend millions on misleading TV ads trying to convince voters that his drastic cuts to education and other 'reforms' are working," said Meagan Mahaffey, executive director of United Wisconsin, the group that is coordinating the recall effort. "But the people of Wisconsin are not buying his lies and are moving at record pace to stop Walker's destruction and recall him from office."

United Wisconsin endorsed the new goal of 720,277 signatures--or 33% of the 2010 general election turnout, as opposed to the 25% required by law to launch a recall.

As I noted in a blog yesterday, some grassroots activists have endorsed the idea of pushing for 1 million signatures to show the breadth and depth of the opposition to Walker, heading into a 2012 recall election.

Which counties the signatures are coming from will also play a significant role in the possible outcome of a recall election.

United Wisconsin today released data from selected counties, some of which tend to vote Republican:

Specific signature totals from selected counties include the following:

8,007 signatures or 128% of Walker’s 2010 vote total in Douglas County

22,365 signatures or 124% of Walker’s 2010 vote total in Eau Claire County

21,558 signatures or 91% of Walker’s 2010 vote total in Rock County

7,375 signatures or 84% of Walker’s 2010 vote total in Oneida County

6,972 signatures or 81% of Walker’s 2010 vote total in Grant County

Tate went long on sports metaphors in his announcement. The half-million Wisconsinites who have signed so far, he said, would fill "seven Lambeau Fields," and he added some more totals for Camp Randall and the Milwaukee Brewers' stadium.

"You have done something amazing," Tate said. "But now is not the time to get complacent. We'd like to fill Lambeau a few more times."