Tuesday, March 31, 2009
For a number of years I've been mentioning that the problem of the 21st Century is no longer the Color Line. It's actually religion. Sorry DuBois. It seems that whenever Obama steps into a church or has anything to do with religion - controversy follows. Forget his race for a moment;
the issue is the other R-word. Is Obama blessed or just lucky? What does this guy believe in? Too much science is like too much salt. Religion wants everything to be sweet. Don't you have faith? Or as Langston once said - " Ask, your mama."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Obama Administration has stopped using the expression "War on Terror." They will be more specific when it comes to who are the US enemies. Look for more specific references to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Too often the inability to define an enemy can result in everyone becoming one. We also confront the problem of facing a terrorist incident that no one wants to call terrorism.
The battle over language is key when one thinks about finding a key to the future.
Old language will keep one in the past. It's no fun being "buried" by words and expressions that are outdated. It's like being cast in one of those old rap videos.
Shake your booty and die.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Because I was on the road the last two weeks, I didn't have a chance to follow the controversy around Caryl Churchill's play. I did recall seeing a few emails in my box regarding it. There is an article by Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon in The Nation (April 13, 2009). Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza was presented in a couple of American cities, including Washington D.C.
As Kushner and Solomon mention in their essay, "Any play about the crisis in the Middle East that doesn't arouse anger and distress has missed the point."
This is the power of art. Controversy however must always lead to conversation. Conversation is about dialogue. Dialogue opens the door to peace. Peace opens the door to our hearts. Our hearts create art and soon we discover the cycle of love if we have vision to see beyond the controversy.
Anti-Semitism has been mentioned. It often raises its head when something critical about Israel is made. We've been struggling to separate government policies from people and religion. Palestinians are not invisible. If we don't hear their stories we can't create a new one. Everybody is shouting and no one wants to hear. Meanwhile, artists must attempt to build bridges with their paintings and poems. We must hear the new music, find the common language.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
No matter how many days I live there are things I just don't understand. For example, who are the people who shit all over the public toilets with no shame? Where do they live? Let's flush them out into the open.
We are not going to move forward as a nation or earth society unless we begin to ignore terms that are outdated or just chain people to misconceptions and powerlessness. These terms are used by the media and they manipulate us into thinking they are bad. Here are a few:
1. Big Government. What's wrong with big government? Shouldn't a government just work ? Why does size really matter? So much discussion about size makes me think we're talking about sex.
2. Taxes. Shouldn't everyone pay them? Where do we get money to keep our society going?
3. Race. Why isn't race a good thing? Do we all want to be the same? One man's black is another man's white.
- Karen Armstrong
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Treve de blues
- Leon Damas
Compassion is my art
- Grace A. Ali
God makes stars. It's up to producers to find them.
- Samuel Goldwyn
WELCOME TO THE E MAG. AN INTRODUCTION INTO THE WORDS OF OTHERS.
MY GUEST TODAY IS IBTISAM BARAKAT. We met in Abu Dhabi just a few days ago.
I read an online interview in which she discussed the Palestinian situation in the Middle East. I found her comments about wounds to be very interesting. I contacted her and asked her a few questions of my own. What follows are remarks by a remarkable woman.
The car in the scar --
maybe it is not your make, but it's likely your model
March 28, 2009
Abu Dhabi - UAE
Living with wounds:Some people live inside a wound, swim in it from side to side, sleep by the edge like one sleeps by a lake, then go into the wound again in the morning.. Some live inside a wound like one lives inside a big villa, from room to room, this is the memory of being hit and not being able to bleed or plead, and this is the memory of my home stolen, its outside redone, and the walls around it smoothed over so that I won't be able to climb it at night. Right here in this room the embroidered cloth is nothing but minutes of my life waiting for myself to be on my side and speak to me. And this tea kettle goes on boiling. The sage and mint become dry in the summer and become green in the Spring, then dry out again, all on the kitchen counter.
This is the second floor of my scars...
Some people have wounds that are valley-deep.. one cannot climb up without losing all the weight and all the waiting too.. But they climb up although the sun is on the other side and the rain comes and does not leave.. The wounded wish they could talk to the rain and let it go..But rain loves wounds.. it wants to wash them.. rain loves wounds because it wants to grow flowers for the wounded person.. and so tears grow the flowers in the valley.. and people might come to visit you because of the pain-watered flowers that grow so tall from your valley.. taller than the stems of the reasons that wounded you.. and your wound can become a flower too and can reach the sun to dry itself after it bathed in big the tears.. and it can become a towel so big like the desert.. and it can become a sunset spreading itself all over the world to calm it down.. and it can to become anything it wants to become.. if you get out of its way.. in order to see it, and in order to see other ways too.
A wound is not a lesser form of life.. for it can become a book; it can become a loaf of bread, and an umbrella, and a big laugh, and a clock ticking toward a new time.. a path of minutes ticking.. taking you to a place that would not have ever opened up without the passage through this wound..
A wound is a tunnel, a highway, so many people traveling.. Slow down, open up the window and ask the person in the other lane.. What wound have you come from? But keep your eyes on the path. The crossroads are coming.. always coming...At Last.
Sometimes I look at the Atlas and I see wounds in countries, separated by borders.. people have scraped one another off plains, mountains, seasides.. I run my hand over the many places, and fold the paper, and give it all a hug.. That's how I can embrace 6 and a half billion people at once ...
Atlas.. at-loss of how to love you, my wound, and my wounder and my way.. my world.. At last I know what to do..when a wound reopens. A wound does not wish to close forever any more than a book wants to do .. it reopens.. in the right hands it reopens because it wishes to be understood fully.. And if understood, it is then healed and becomes a book that you can use for your pillow.. or as a step to reach the top shelf in your kitchen on the days you do not want to read in it.. Words do not mind people standing on them.
But some wounds are like holy books in temples and dictionaries in big-city libraries; they must stay open for all to see, to brush by them, to find the meaning of a word in them. And some wounds are mouths.. they open.. speak.. close.. then silence.. silence.. and you feel so alone who someone who must shout does not.. but then they speak again..
I listen to a wound when it reopens .. this mouth that kisses life.. sometimes it sings.. sometimes it speaks poetry that I cannot understand.. And sometimes it screams and gives nothing.. but when the sun is crisp and hangs in the sky like an orange that can feed the entire world, and when i have no to-do lists, some wound screams and gives birth to a field of questions.. birth frantic rush is dizzying, and I know that my wound is on your side, like a pocket, endless with possibilities.
And perhaps each wound comes with a key, like a door.. it open, reopen.. can be entered and exited too.. all entering and existing will know the story.
A wound is a response to a call like the heart answers the Guest is response to the call for prayer.. This Guest is forever there, and is forever to be invited, over and over.. But your wound happened on the day you answered a knock that was not meant for you and the one at the door was not meant to stay. A quick reply would have been enough but you sought a friend in someone passing like a cloud.. and so your longing began and stretched across the sky and the skin of your soul tore up into a wound..
Each person heals in a different way.. finger prints, foot prints, voice prints, and healing prints.. For words people, printing is the path .. As I hold your hands, I know that your finger prints on my finger prints changes my writings of my destiny.. and thought prints.. and pain prints.. and ecstasy prints.. And it is all a draft anyway.. A draft that comes through the door of the wound.. And I get drafted to other people's questions and they to mine.. But all wounds are self-inflicted.. because all things in the universe are self-included.. which part of the self, of the verse, do you like to sing in the morning when you wash your hair.
The car in the scar
A person is healed when she is no longer too wound up about a wound, and can hold hands with what was toward what would be, and listens to the songs of wounds like one listens to a grandpa filled with intuition. Joy jingles in one's pocket like car keys when one has a a grandpa so wise.. He says that scars are friends who are hard to make, then when the time comes, comes like the evening of a day, you know that a scar has a car in it .. you have the keys.. it can take you anywhere you like. You choose the destination.. I am heading East to see your smile.. Wait for me.
Ibtisam Barakat is the author of the memoir, TASTING THE SKY: A PALESTINIAN CHILDHOOD.
But sooner or later the hills will take it back, give it to the animals.
- Louise Gluck
- Wallace Shawn
Friday, March 27, 2009
Sunday there is going to be a special 2-hour series premiere of THE NO.1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY. Jill Scott in the lead role. Feel-good television is what Entertainment Weekly calls it.
I'm going to pass. If anyone wants to review it - I'll post it. Send to: email@example.com
I spent the day in New York visiting my mom. She will be 90 in a few months. I drafted an essay I might share with my editor at NPR. Maybe it could run in May for Mother's Day. Sometimes it feels so strange being back in New York. The city no longer claims me. I've become so much the stranger. Even my own mother shook her head when I left her. She reminded me to stop laughing and become more serious. Maybe I'll take her advice this time.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
With the economic blues being sung around the country, pay close attention to what I call the "politics of reduction." Recession can travel with its R-buddy -racism. Programs, projects and even institutions can be eliminated without any mention of a political agenda. It's just economics baby! Maybe we can't afford to be equal right now. Maybe we can't afford to fund the black shows and exhibits. Mayor Fenty (DC) wants to no longer fund "D.C. Emancipation Day." Do you remember the days of slavery? Might new ones becoming? Clean the slate and start all over again? Slavery as stimulus? Remember when we thought Lincoln fired us from our jobs? Was that Recession or Emancipation? With John Hope gone - someone please explain. It's getting dark outside - too dark to see.
Writer's Blogs: What Works (& What Doesn't)
by C.M. Mayo
March 25, 2009
Please go to the link below to sign a letter to President Obama calling for "...concrete changes in U.S. policy towards Cuba that will allow for the uninhibited flow of art, culture, information, ideas and debates, as well as travel by artists, cultural workers and professionals, and arts and cultural aficionados between the two countries."
You will be in very good company, including Harry Belafonte, Jackson Browne, Mavis and Yvonne Staples, Arturo O'Farrill, Peter Coyote, Danny Glover, Herbie Hancock, Daisy Zamora, Graham Nash, Eddie Palmieri, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Margaret Randall, Pete Seeger, Vinie Burrows, Poncho Sanchez, and the 2005 National Poetry Slam Championship Team from New Mexico.
Sign this letter from U.S. Artists, Arts Presenters, Arts Educators and Cultural Scholars in support of Cultural Relations with Cuba, at
Thanks so much,
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Lannan Literary Symposium & Festival
Georgetown University: March 30-31, 2009
Siah Armajani, James Fenton, Carolyn Forché, Yusuf Komunyakaa, Harry Mattison, Khaled Mattawa, Ken McCullough, Dunya Mikhail, Brian Turner, the Khmer chanting of U Sam Oeur, the poetry of Saadi Yousef For a complete program and schedule visit http://lannan.georgetown.edu/symposiumfestival_havoc.html
- Elie Wiesel
for my heart
has become a country,
and I want all people
to live in it.
- Ibtisam Barakat
Often in the early morning hours I correspond with my fellow writer Charles Johnson in Seattle. We exchange information and personal updates. Sometimes we talk about race. There are times when white racist remarks circulating in the media just irk us. I found myself telling Charles the following:
It's just a distraction. As artists we need to keep doing the work that is positive and nurturing.Some of this negative racist stuff is nothing but white people "cleansing" themselves. Some folks need a "deep tissue" massage to get at those hidden racist cells. Obama is good medicine for our nation. I can't wait until our bodies feel better and we can hug folks without pulling a muscle.
WASHINGTON, DC -Street Scenes: Projects for DC, in collaboration with Provisions Library and the Institute for Policy Studies, is presenting British artist Jeremy Deller's “It Is What It Is; Conversations About Iraq,” at the National Mall in Washington, DC, on March 26, 2009.
The project features a RV towing the wreck of a car that was blown up by a bomb attack in Iraq.This project, co-sponsored by Creative Time, was commissioned by the New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Hammer Museum (Los Angeles).
The first part of the show was the installation of the destroyed car at the New Museum, which included specialists sitting on a sofa discussing the Iraq war. The second part of the project is a three-week, cross-country road trip, during which an RV tows the wreck to cities across the US. Riding in the RV are Deller, Jonathan Harvey (an Iraq war veteran and recently demobilized Psychological Operations platoon sergeant) and Esam Pasha (an Iraqi refugee, artist, and former translator for the Chief Advisor in the British Embassy of Baghdad).
The RV will visit Washington DC on Thursday, March 26. It will be on view from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm at the National Mall on Jefferson Drive SW, between 12th and 14th Streets.Deller aims to spark a public dialogue with this project.
As he said in an interview with The Art Newspaper,“To speak with someone who has been in Iraq, has fought there or has lived under a regime, is fascinating to me. I'm setting up a series of opportunities for people to meet and their conversations are at the heart of the project.”Deller adds,“I thought it would be interesting to travel in this holiday RV with this destroyed car on a flatbed lorry behind us.It's one thing to do something like this in New York, in a liberal environment, and it's another to turn up at truck stop in Mississippi.”
This local iteration of the “It Is What It Is: Conversations about Iraq” has been made possible by the support of the Institute for Policy Studies, Provisions Library and Street Scenes: Projects for DCFor information on Street Scenes: Projects for DC: www.streetscenesdc.com
For information on Provisions Library: www.provisionslibrary.orgFor information on Institute for Policy Studies: www.ips-dc.org
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts
At the 2008 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference in New York, Blackbird sponsored a tribute to the work of Carol Houck Smith, a celebration of the persistence and care she showed to many poets during her editing career at W. W. Norton.
Carol Houck Smith died December 1, 2008 at her home in New York City.
You will also find in our pages excerpts from Smith's obituary as it was prepared by W. W. Norton and a brief remembrance of her by Ellen Bryant Voigt.
For the Carol Houck Smith feature, visit the Blackbird v7n2 Features menu directly at http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v7n2/features.htm
or enter Blackbird v7n2 through our splash and foreword page at http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/
Blackbird is a joint venture of the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and New Virginia Review, Inc.
The latest news from my friend Ms. Pornpimol Kanchanalak in Bangkok. Notice her use of the term 5th Inning at the end of the essay. She recently read my memoir.
The Japanese won the inaugural tournament three years ago, beating Cuba 10-6 in the finals at Petco Park in San Diego.
Should little black boys run around with ashy knees now that we have a black president?
Monday, March 23, 2009
What Mike Slive, chairman of the N.C.A.A. Division I men’s basketball committee, and his minions have left us is a tournament high on predictability and low on charm.
- Pete Thamel, NY Times
Lance Armstrong arrived at a hospital in central Spain after suffering a hard crash during the first stage of a five-day race.
A flip off his bicycle took "Today" show co-host Matt Lauer off the air Monday with a shoulder injury. (Note: a deer jumped on the path)
AOL is leaping into original "news" content with PoliticsDaily.com. AOL’s site will be “polypartisan” and focus initially on commentary rather than breaking news, Marty Moe, senior vice president of AOL’s MediaGlow content division, told TheWrap.
Is "polypartisan" the same as Jeffersonian?
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Frank Rich lifted the following quote from a letter-to-the-editor:
President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived.
I agree that you can't ignore the anger and populist outrage over the AIG bonuses and the economy, and a whole host of issues in general. But there's more to that letter-to-the-editor from Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, California that Frank Rich didn't print. So I'll print it here on e-Notes.
This is a defining moment for his [Obama's] presidency, and how he responds will determine the trajectory of his term. He needs to deal with the excesses within the financial industry with the same toughness and conviction that President Ronald Reagan brought to bear during the air traffic controllers’ strike. To date, he is sorely wanting.
This brings up another issue. After the air traffic controllers strike and the bust up of their union, salaries began to slide in certain sectors that were once the foundations for creating a vibrant working middle class. Some actions implode louder than words.
As a Katrina moment - there's a difference between doing something that might work (and we may disagree on the how), and doing nothing. Is this a fair comparison? Is it fair to the people who were directly affected by the neglect and horror of the hurricaine? Maybe, maybe not, but the quote makes great press.
Just as in the campaign, the obsession with Barack's anger continues -- Does Barack Obama get angry? Will he express anger in a way that will make a great media moment? When will he fulfill his angry black man creds? Will we find out in his 5th Inning?
Look for "anger" to be a barometer of the Obama presidency.
Maybe the President's listening to "Kind of Blue" on his i-pod.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Every Saturday, I post the President's Weekly address on my eclectique916 website. You can view it there or at http://www.whitehouse.gov/.
I just finished and dropped off my taxes yesterday. On a gut level, I know I'll owe. I'm self employed. You just can't predict what income will come in from year to year. A good year is to estimate it just right and you owe nothing or something like $100. Owing can indicate another good year because you under estimated your income and came out with more profit than you thought (but put the extras away just in case). In other words, I can't predict. So many forces outside my mind, body, and soul influence the ins and outs of cash flow. So many choices I have to make. I don't have cable, but I'm not giving up DSL.
So I share my thoughts about the National Budget submitted by the Obama Administration with E-Notes. Today I have to provide content for 3 blogs, so don't blame me for the economy of words.
I have friends I call on who are only concerned about the meat and potatoes of issues and not the politics. They are not tied to any political party or agenda. They will vote Republican or Democrat. [I'm not sure about 3rd parties.] And they can pretty much give me a good idea of where the middle ground is. I talked to one of these friends this week about the AIG bonus bomb and what she thought about it. She said she didn't care about those AIG bonuses. She cares about having healthcare.
Today volunteers will be on the streets talking to people and rallying support for the national budget submitted by the President to the Congress. Next week, the budget goes into debate on the Hill.
The Congressional Budget Office has already delcared this budget a blue print for weakening the economy by increasing the deficit by $1 trillion a year according to the Washington Post. But let's look back 7 years ago (March 2, 2002) at the CBO and its projections in a report by the "News Hour's" Paul Soloman with Barry Anderson, then Deputy Director of the CBO (one of the numbers crunchers):
BARRY ANDERSON: For 200 years, we forecasted not ten years out, not five years out, but only 18 months out. You look at the private forecasters; they're really not doing too much more than that right now. I know the Congress needs estimates that go out ten years and we will supply them. But we make no bones about it that there is an awful lot of uncertainty about what our projections are ten years hence.
PAUL SOLMAN: Would you bet me $100 that your projections will be within 10 percent of the ultimate reality?
BARRY ANDERSON: No, and the reason being is because I would bet you many times $100 that Congress will enact legislation that will change those projections somewhere different than the $5.6 trillion. But I don't know what legislation they're going to enact.
PAUL SOLMAN: And you don't know if it will make the number higher or lower.
BARRY ANDERSON: Exactly.
In all fairness to the CBO, I did go to the source - the Director's Blog - and encourage readers to do the same. Note the emphasis on "current laws and policies" in its projection. Meaning, if policy remains the same, these are the projections. And what the office offers is an analysis not policy.
I believe strongly, the economy says more about human behavior than numbers. On "current laws and policies," those AIG executives are entitled to those bonuses. This has been the practice for some time and no one complained as long as everyone was cashing in - Wall Street's verison of "spread the wealth." In terms of behavior and ethics, they suck. So what do you do? Where do you put your focus and energy in terms of changing the policy to curb the behavior.
This week, on "The Tonight Show" President Obama continued his three talking points about the budget: education, energy and healthcare.
This is where I'm shifting my attention. My friend doesn't have a healthcare plan even though she has a full-time job. I'm not sure she's up for the fight about single-payer, universal vs. private, public whatever. But I'm sure she's very interested in a healthcare plan that's affordable, available, and attainable no matter what your present medical condition, age, and/or income.
As my sister said to me, the budget should be looked at as a moral document. After the debates, what the final national budget looks like remains to be seen. But it will certainly reflect what this country truly values.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Loose rhetoric about a minimal commitment in Afghanistan is counterproductive for another reason: It exacerbates suspicions, already widespread in South Asia ,that the United States will tire of this war and retreat. These doubts about our staying power deter ordinary Afghans from siding with our coalition against the insurgency.
- Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman op-ed in the Washington Post
What can I say about Afghanistan except it ain’t your Senators’ Vietnam. When people say it was safer to cross the road when the Taliban were in control, take a clue. [See "News Hour" report by Margaret Warner.
But can you trust any religion or leadership that outlaws music?
Workshops are Free. Call 202-387-8391, or RSVP at www.wdchumanities.org
Here's the schedule to learn about funding requirements:
Tuesday April 14, 2009 Noon to 1:30PM
Anacostia Community Museum, 1901 Fort Place SE
Tuesday April 14, 2009 5:30PM to 7PM
Humanities Council of Washington, DC, 925 U Street NW
Tuesday April 21, 2009 5:30PM to 7PM
Southeast Neighborhood Library, 403 7th Street SE
society were rooted in lust when in fact they were rooted in greed.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Starting tomorrow through Sunday, I'll be blogging on E-Notes while E. Ethelbert Miller, is on assignment reading poems, signing books and sharing chapters from his new memoir The 5th Inning.
E-Notes has over 5,000 readers. Why are my hands sweating?
Look for more questions. E-Notes always questions. Look for less sports updates. I just don't keep up until the final 4. Hopefully the E - Notes will fill in offline. Look for some calendar stuff of interest to E-Notes readers (either you're E sharp, E flat or E natural - pick a note).
Look for late updates. E-Notes clocks in before 7 am. I'm just waking up.
Should I use my South Park persona as my icon image?
In France labor unions are planning a nationwide strike on Thursday, to call for a tax increase on high-income earners.
Class warfare around the world is going to increase. Lines are being drawn. So few with much,
so many with less.
About 10,000 arts organizations, or 10% of the U.S. total, are at risk of folding according to the organization, Americans for the Arts.
Technology makes it easy to lift parts of someone else's music, video, or other digital creations, tweak it, and call the result one's own.
- L. Gordon Crovitz
It might be important to begin monitoring the number of US soldiers that are wounded or killed in Afghanistan under the Obama Administration. Wars can quickly grow and the unfortunate thing is that so do casualties. It would be sad to withdraw troops from Iraq only to place them in harms way in another country. Sooner or later we are going to have to ask ourselves - what are we trying to defeat? It seems we are trying to "contain" radical Islam. But how does one halt the spreading of a faith - a way of looking at the world and one's relationship to God? So many ideas fighting for air in the world. What do you believe in? What would you kill or die for? Maybe this is the problem. We would rather kill than love. Some people would rather die than live.