Monday, May 30, 2011

Etude en orange

Helas, pauvres Larry,
(et nous pauvres)
nous ne savions
pas bien lui!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

All things

in due time

Son Lee
home from Houston
no longer dwarven.
We loved him then,
we do now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

O lovely pussy, o pussy my love

The owl and the pussycat
(with sequal: Bong tree adventures)

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat.
They took some honey, and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! Too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling Your ring?'
Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Come to find out
after these two love-creatures
tired of each other
in the conventional sense
- yet could not keep their
hands off each other -
they did this

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The troubled church of his mind


The only time I found myself at all interested

in the concept of a time machine

was when I first heard that baldness in a man

was traceable to his maternal grandfather.

I pictured myself stepping into the odd craft

with a vial of poison tucked into a pocket

and just in case, a newly sharpened kitchen knife.

Of course I had not thought this through very carefully

but even after I realized the drawback

of eradicating my own existence

not to mention the possible existence of my mother,

I came up with a better reason to travel back in time.

I pictured myself now setting the coordinates

for late 19th century County Waterford, where,

after I had hidden the machine behind a hedge

and located himself, the man I never knew,

we would enjoy several whiskeys and some talk

about the hard times and my strange-looking clothes

after which, with his permission of course

I would climb onto his lap

and rest my hand on the slope of his head

that dome which covered the troubled church of his mind

And was often covered in turn

by the dusty black hat he had earlier hung from a peg

in the wall.

(another by Billy Collins)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wrinkled old men of the seeds

First sown

by Marge Piercy

Peas are the first thing we plant
always. We lie full length
on the cold black earth and poke
holes in it for the wrinkled
old men of the seeds.

Nothing will happen for weeks.
Rain will soak them, a white
tablecloth of snow will cover
them and be whisked off.
The moon will sing to them:

open, loosen, let the pale
shoots break out. No,
they are pebbles, they sit
in the earth like false teeth.
They ignore the sweet sun.

Then one unlikely day
the soil cracks along miniature
faults and soon baby leaves
stick out their double heads
and we know we shall have peas.

"First sown" by Marge Piercy, from The Hunger Moon: New & Selected Poems, 1980-2010. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

As I sat down one evening, was in a small cafe.......Pete Seeger

As I sat down one evening,
'Twas in a small cafe;
A fifty-year old waitress
To me these words did say:

I see you are a logger,
And not just a common bum,
'Cause no one but a logger
Stirs coffee with his thumb.

I had a logger lover;
There's none like him today.
If you poured whiskey on it,
He'd eat a bale of hay.

He never shaved a whisker
From off of his horny hide;
He hammered in the bristles,
And chewed them off inside.

My logger came to see me,
One dreary winter's day;
He held me in a fond embrace
That broke six vertebrae.

He kissed me when we parted,
So hard it broke my jaw;
I couldn't speak to tell him
He forgot his mackinaw.

I watched my logger lover
Trek out across the snow,
A-headin' gaily homeward
At forty-two below.

The weather tried to freeze him,
It tried its dalgarn best;
At a hundred degrees below zero,
He buttoned up his vest.

It froze clear down to China,
It froze to the stars above;
At a thousand degrees below zero,
It froze my logger love.

They tried in vain to thaw him,
And if you believe it, sir,
They made him into axe blades
To cut the Douglas fir.

And so I lost my logger,
And to this cafe I've come,
And it's here I wait for someone
To stir coffee with his thumb.
Live in Melbourne, Australia on his world tour in 1963, at the time he was still blacklisted. This is a funny song.....first sung to me by Dick Lee in the 1950's, I think it was.

Monday, May 9, 2011



Britain’s Radiohead Gets a Musical Makeover by Lawrence Jazz Department

The music of the inventive and popular English alternative rock band Radiohead gets a major makeover in Lawrence University’s ambitious Radiohead Jazz Project.

A dozen Radiohead songs, rearranged for large jazz ensemble format by an international array of composers, make their world premiere March 8-9 in a pair of performances by the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and the Lawrence University Jazz Band. The concerts, at 8 p.m. both nights in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center, are free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Contact the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749. (It already happened, sorry.)

The project was hatched last summer, when Fred Sturm, Lawrence’s director of jazz studies and improvisational music and colleague Patty Darling, director of the jazz band, discussed the feasibility of a Radiohead large jazz ensemble arranging initiative to bring added relevancy to the music their students play.

“I’ve heard too many collegiate jazz concerts that don’t include a single selection composed within the lifetime of the students,” said Sturm. “I want my students to be able perform the music of their time, not just the music of their forebears. Radiohead has been an international phenomenon for 25 years. Our students grew up with their music. The jazz-influenced works of Radiohead seemed the perfect focus for a jazz big band program.”

Darling, in collaboration with Williamette University’s James Miley, who was among the first to arrange Radiohead works for the large jazz ensemble, compiled a list of more than a dozen Radiohead tunes they felt best lent themselves to jazz ensemble. Among the choices were the hits “Kid A,” “Idioteque,” “Knives Out,” and “Paranoid Android.”

To generate the music, Sturm recruited an international group of jazz arrangers — Germany’s Florian Ross and Sherisse Rogers, staff arranger for the Netherlands’ Metropole Orchestra — as well as young American composers with an affinity for Radiohead’s music, including collegiate jazz faculty members from California, Texas, Oregon, Kansas and Iowa. Sturm and Darling each contributed one arrangement to the project as well.

“This project has been a wonderful opportunity for musical growth,” said Darling. “The students get to experience firsthand how these talented writers approach Radiohead’s music, how they alter the forms and harmonic structures and orchestrate for jazz ensemble. We are hoping that this project can serve as a kind of primer for contemporary arranging and composing.”

Many jazz solo artists and small ensembles have recorded Radiohead songs, including pianist Brad Mehldau (“Exit Music from a Film,” “Knives Out”), saxophonist Chris Potter (“Morning Bell”) and singer Jamie Cullum (“High and Dry”).

“Radiohead songs are among the ‘new standards’ being explored by jazz soloists and combos,” said Sturm, “and packaging them for the large jazz ensemble is a logical progression. This project is the first grand-scale effort to arrange multiple Radiohead compositions for the jazz big band.”

Formed in 1985, Radiohead released its first album in 1993 and achieved notoriety in their native United Kingdom shortly thereafter. International recognition followed shortly and in 2005, the five-member band was ranked 73rd in Rolling Stone’s list of “The Greatest Artists of All Time.” Many consider Radiohead the most inventive and successful band in the modern rock era.

In recent years, the band has traded conventional instrumentation and standard song forms for rhythms and grooves seldom found in the rock genre. Radiohead lead guitarist and principal arranger Jonny Greenwood claims the band draws many conceptual elements from jazz.

“We bring in our favorite jazz albums and say: ‘We want to do this.’ That’s what we do and that’s what bands have always done, since the late ’50s — a bunch of guys in England listening to American blues records and copying them. In our case, it’s jazz.”

Radiohead’s latest CD, “King of Limbs,” released in mid-February, has drawn praise for its jazz influences. In its review,The Chicago Tribune says “The new Radiohead never resolves the friction between the physical freedom of dance music and the carefully constructed architecture of more insular, inward looking art-pop. Its reference points are abstract jazz-fusion albums that implied funk without actually embracing it: Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew,” Herbie Hancock’s “Sextant.” That’s heady, serious territory.”

Following the March premiere, the Radiohead Jazz Project will be performed at three of the nation’s top collegiate jazz programs: the University of North Texas, University of Miami and the Eastman School of Music. Sierra Music Publications, one of the major publishers of large jazz ensemble music, will distribute the print music as a series in the fall. In September, the HR Big Band in Frankfurt, Germany will record and tour with the project.

“We think we’re onto something very special,” said Sturm. “There’s tremendous enthusiasm afoot among professional ensembles, university programs and high school jazz ensembles about this music. We hope it will have a great future and we hope that audiences will love it, too.”

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The raccoon news' daughter Erin played music at Lawrence as an undergrad. Now with her library science masters from UW Madison under her belt, she walks the lanes of the Lawrence campus with the likes of these members of the jazz ensemble, under the direction of Prof. Fred Sturm. Eerin's position is Ass't Prof. and University Archivist.

We receive these Lawrence campus doings advisories as Erin's parents. Play this clip at full volume and enjoy!

Friday, May 6, 2011

YIBAWEans eschew cranial rugs

Once a week, The New Yorker magazine arrives here. The current issue has Donald Trump throughout the magazine in their little random sketches on a theme.

Of course, we here hope that Trump and Palin will be the Republican candidates............. that's just us.

Search our "Yibawe" subject.

In Memorial to 'Surely' the push reel lawnmower


In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman
that plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained,

"We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

That's right, they didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they returned their milk bottles,
Coke bottles and beer bottles to the store.
The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and
sterilized and refilled,
using the same bottles over again.

But they didn't have the green thing back her day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have
an escalator or elevator in every store and office building.
They walked to the grocery store and didn't
turn on a
300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she's right.
They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't
have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an
energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts - wind and solar power
really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from
their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady is right,
they didn't have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had on
e radio, or maybe one TV in the house - not a TV in every room.
And the TV had a screen the size of a
small pizza,
not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they
didn't have electric machines to do everything for
When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used
wadded up newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn.
They used a push mower that ran on human power.

They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club
to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right, they didn't have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty, instead of
using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water.

They refilled pens with ink, instead of buying a new pen,
and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away
the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But they didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar and kids rode their bikes to school
or rode the school bus, instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi

They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to
power a dozen appliances.

And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed
from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But that lady is right.

They didn't have the green thing back in her day.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

At the bottom of the ocean

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist

Farewell to Geronimo

There is only one good thing about the fact that Osama bin Laden survived for nearly 10 years after the mass murder at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that he organized. And that is that he lived long enough to see so many young Arabs repudiate his ideology. He lived long enough to see Arabs from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen to Syria rise up peacefully to gain the dignity, justice and self-rule that Bin Laden claimed could be obtained only by murderous violence and a return to puritanical Islam.

We did our part. We killed Bin Laden with a bullet. Now the Arab and Muslim people have a chance to do their part — kill Bin Ladenism with a ballot — that is, with real elections, with real constitutions, real political parties and real progressive politics.

Yes, the bad guys have been dealt a blow across the Arab world in the last few months — not only Al Qaeda, but the whole rogues’ gallery of dictators, whose soft bigotry of low expectations for their people had kept the Arab world behind. The question now, though, is: Can the forces of decency get organized, elected and start building a different Arab future? That is the most important question. Everything else is noise.

To understand that challenge, we need to recall, again, where Bin Ladenism came from. It emerged from a devil’s bargain between oil-consuming countries and Arab dictators. We all — Europe, America, India, China — treated the Arab world as a collection of big gas stations, and all of us sent the same basic message to the petro-dictators: Keep the oil flowing, the prices low and don’t bother Israel too much and you can treat your people however you like, out back, where we won’t look. Bin Laden and his followers were a product of all the pathologies that were allowed to grow in the dark out back — crippling deficits of freedom, women’s empowerment and education across the Arab world.

These deficits nurtured a profound sense of humiliation among Arabs at how far behind they had fallen, a profound hunger to control their own futures and a pervasive sense of injustice in their daily lives. That is what is most striking about the Arab uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia in particular. They were almost apolitical. They were not about any ideology. They were propelled by the most basic human longings for dignity, justice and to control one’s own life. Remember, one of the first things Egyptians did was attack their own police stations — the instruments of regime injustice. And since millions of Arabs share these longings for dignity, justice and freedom, these revolutions are not going to go away.

For decades, though, the Arab leaders were very adept at taking all that anger brewing out back and redirecting it onto the United States and Israel. Yes, Israel’s own behavior at times fed the Arab sense of humiliation and powerlessness, but it was not the primary cause. No matter. While the Chinese autocrats said to their people, “We’ll take away your freedom and, in return, we’ll give you a steadily rising education and standard of living,” the Arab autocrats said, “We’ll take away your freedom and give you the Arab-Israel conflict.”

This was the toxic “out back” from which Bin Laden emerged. A twisted psychopath and false messiah, he preached that only through violence — only by destroying these Arab regimes and their American backers — could the Arab people end their humiliation, restore justice and build some mythical uncorrupted caliphate.

Very few Arabs actively supported Bin Laden, but he initially drew significant passive support for his fist in the face of America, the Arab regimes and Israel. But as Al Qaeda was put on the run, and spent most of its energies killing other Muslims who didn’t toe its line, even its passive support melted away (except for the demented leadership of Hamas).

In that void, with no hope of anyone else riding to their rescue, it seems — in the totally unpredictable way these things happen — that the Arab publics in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere shucked off their fears and decided that they themselves would change what was going on out back by taking over what was going on out front.

And, most impressively, they decided to do it under the banner of one word that you hear most often today among Syrian rebels: “Silmiyyah.” It means peaceful. “We will do this peacefully.” It is just the opposite of Bin Ladenism. It is Arabs saying in their own way: We don’t want to be martyrs for Bin Laden or pawns for Mubarak, Assad, Gaddafi, Ben Ali and all the rest. We want to be “citizens.” Not all do, of course. Some prefer more religious identities and sectarian ones. This is where the struggle will be.

We cannot predict the outcome. All we can hope for is that this time there really will be a struggle of ideas — that in a region where extremists go all the way and moderates tend to just go away, this time will be different. The moderates will be as passionate and committed as the extremists. If that happens, both Bin Laden and Bin Ladenism will be resting at the bottom of the ocean.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

4th of July in Pleasant Valley MD, showing barn made of discarded billboards (a waste not want not recurring theme)

A must read:


Regret to inform loss of 2nd chicken at the Helt preserve. Weasel chased away without its kill.

Our Reply:

You are in our thoughts and prayers. Such a hacknied saying, "You are in our thoughts in prayers...."
I do hope you get that fucking weasel. USA, USA....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Etched in gray

In Memorium

see previous post

Man, defender, speaks for bird

From John Helt to racconage this morning:

Bloody Monday began with news about bin Laden's apparent demise. Then, sometime last night, a stealthy and deadly predator broke into the Oconobanks coop compound and dragged out Henrietta Hen. I have not found her carcass, but the quantity of feathers and blood and relatively small hole in the chicken wire gap between nails through which she was obviously dragged by the killer suggest that she could not have survived. The trail of feathers and blood led to the woods.
She was my favorite hen, enjoyed being held and petted (sort of), and faithfully laid a small brown egg every day. Almost every day I would carry her around the yard and talk with her (she was very verbal, too) and sometimes sit with her on my lap in the sun and feed her saltines. She was very interested in my old silver and gold fillings, and would try to peck at them if my mouth was open and too close to her curious beak. Henrietta was Hulda's partner, often the two of them leaving Helen alone to fend for herself. Now we will see if the alliances shift or whether I will just have two loners. Hulda must not have been too broken up by the murderous night raid, since she laid her usual oblong egg this morning as usual.
I spent an hour this morning cleaning up the compound and replacing all lower-coop chicken wire with plywood. By the looks of things (my expertise limited to an occasional viewing of CSI on TV), the operation went down late night Monday/early morning Tuesday. Nature persists in "running red in tooth and claw."
Just thought I'd let you know, as CNN, Fox, BBC and Al Jazeera seem to be focused elsewhere yet today.
~ One down, two to go

Our answer:

Life deals another cruel blow for bloody feather-gatherer:
Henrietta the Hen didn't ask for as much as she got under the 'ownership' of John Helt; a deeper interchange with a fine human was to be her blessed lot, not a hen in an egg factory, her. She went to her end a repositor of Helt-bestowed gentleness, as many of the kind words, questions, and gestures she could ken, for a hen.
Alas, but not for a lack of care in establishing new digs by Pere Helt in the erroneously cited Oconomowocbanks trailer park. It has been ever thus in the world - Truth forever on the cross, sitting hens forever in invadable coops.
Lightly taken not to be. Here's a man whose agrarian
themes have taken him through separation from his mascotian miniature goats, numerous cats (some stray, always loved) and now, Henrietta.
A beast that only wanted to live Heltian and lay eggs. Indeed, may she rest in peace. She asked not for much. The least we can do here on South Street is take down the celebratory Christmas lights from our ledgian legendary Fox. Or, maybe not? Festoon Fox may not have intentionally eaten a chicken in his entire life! Gunned down by a hunter? Nay, the lights of his afterlife will remain, methinks.
Thus we humans stumble on through the maze of existence.
Our condolences eggian, ovan,heartfelt, profound.....
David and Dee

John replies:

I believe even the fox stands in solemn salute, paying quiet tribute to the brief life of another creature, albeit feathered. I would like to think that millions of years of dinosaurs, perhaps more bird than reptile, continue to tilt the balance away from the more mammalian among us. We have many more millions of years to catch up, perhaps one bantam hen or cat-snatched songbird at a time....

(SRN footnote: Your thoughts, condolences may be sent to John c/o

Monday, May 2, 2011

Swinging from an off-beat wig-tilt:

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist

Silliness and Sleight of Hand

President Obama buckled.
On Wednesday, he released his long-form birth certificate, but not without chiding the media and his detractors for their “silliness” in forcing the issue.

No sooner had he released it than Donald Quixote was off to his next windmill: the president’s college grades.

Donald Trump is still playing to suspicions of President Obama. And it’s no longer theoretical. It’s theological. For the detractors, truth is no longer dependent on proof because it’s rooted in faith: faith that American exceptionalism was never truly meant to cover hyphenated Americans; faith in 400 years of cemented assumptions about the character and capacity of the American Negro; and faith that if the president doesn’t hew to those assumptions then he must be alien by both birth and faith.

This is how the moneyed interests — of whom Trump is one — want it. That is how sleight of hand works: distract and deceive. They need this distraction now more than ever because the right’s flimsy fiscal argument — that if we allow fat cats to gorge, crumbs will surely fall — is losing traction.

It’s losing traction with voters as the Supreme Court continues its crusade to put corporate interests above those of citizens. Just Wednesday, it ruled that there is a way for businesses to keep consumers claiming fraud from banding together in a single class-action lawsuit.

It’s losing traction among workers. Gallup reported this week that a majority of Americans worry that they won’t have enough money in retirement. And that worry is well founded. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s annual Retirement Confidence Survey released last month, 56 percent of American workers said they have less than $25,000 in retirement savings and investments. Twenty-nine percent of those said they have less than $1,000. At the same time, the average Wall Street cash bonus in 2010 was nearly $130,000, and the Republican budget proposed by Representative Paul Ryan seeks to dismantle Medicare and lower taxes on the wealthy.

It’s losing traction among young people as it was reported last week that the unemployment rate for workers ages 16 to 24 reached a record high last year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Meanwhile, last summer, student loan debt exceeded total credit card debt for the first time, and the Republican budget seeks to slash Pell grants.

It’s losing traction with families as the national average price of a gallon of gas is nearing $4, while oil companies are reaping record profits while taking billions of dollars in government subsidies.

(There’s something immoral about giving handouts to entrenched corporate interests with armies of lobbyists while seeking to cut those to hungry children, struggling families and frail seniors.)

It all loses traction as more Americans begin to see the far right for what it truly is: a gang of bandits willing to sacrifice the poor and working classes to further extend the American aristocracy — shadowy figures who creep through the night, shaking every sock for every nickel and scraping their silver spoons across the bottom of every pot.

In fact, Gallup reported on Thursday that unfavorable views of the Tea Party, which was cheered and championed by billionaires and business interests, had jumped to 47 percent this month, a new high, while last week it reported that approval of Congress among Republicans and independents had dropped to a depressing 15 percent.

So the right needs to backfill its shaky fiscal reasoning with political segregationist rhetoric — amplifying a separation of the “us” from the “other.”

State Senator Jake Knotts of South Carolina last year called President Obama — along with the state’s governor Nikki Haley, who is Indian-American and a Republican — a disparaging slur. When pressured to resign, he refused, proclaiming that: “If all of us rednecks leave the Republican Party, the party would have one hell of a void.” Do tell.

This is not to say that all Republicans are tolerant of this behavior. Far from it. But the party has taken the strategic position that in some cases it’s politically advantageous to allow demagogues and xenophobes, sectarians and homophobes to not only see the party as a sanctuary but as a place to rise to its top.

In the last several months, Republican state lawmakers and party officials have said the most reprehensible things about Hispanics, gays and blacks.

State Representative John Yates of Georgia compared the state’s threat from illegal immigrants to the threat from Hitler in World War II and suggested that border agents should be allowed to “shoot to kill.” State Representative Curry Todd of Tennessee compared pregnant illegal immigrants to multiplying rats.

State Representative Larry Brown of North Carolina suggested cutting off financing used to treat people with H.I.V. and AIDS because they are “living in perverted lifestyles.” Brown also drew criticism in October for an e-mail he sent to fellow Republicans in which he used disparaging terms about gays.

And David Bartholomew had to resign as the Virginia Beach Republican Party chairman after forwarding an e-mail that joked about someone taking his “dog” to the welfare office and saying: “My Dog is black, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English” and has no clue “who his Daddy is.”

In 1965, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described how the strategy of separating people with common financial interests by agitating their racial differences was used against the populist movement at the turn of the century, explaining that “the Southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow.”

He continued that Jim Crow was “a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man.” He called this “their last outpost of psychological oblivion.”

But the right, with a new boost of energy from Trump, is reaching for new frontiers. The language and methodology are different, but the goal is the same: to deny, invalidate and subjugate, to distract from real issues with false divisions.

Trump is helping the right shape new weapons from old hatreds, forming shivs from shackles, all the while patting himself on the back and promoting his brand.

But his point of pride is the right’s mark of shame.