I apologize for my neglectful ways, regarding this blog. I didn't think it had been that long since my last post. When I looked at my notes, I realized what seemed no longer than a blink of an eye, had been a little more than a month ago, since I gave you my thoughts about art and culture; particularly, dealing with the removal of art from our public spaces. My, how time flies when you're having fun and are as busy as hell. Both are the reasons behind my absence.
At the beginning of November, I started taking care of my grand baby, while my daughter and son-in-law toil in their respective salt mines. This latest wrinkle in my life has been a commitment, but also, an amazing labor of love. You don't stop to think, I didn't, anyway, when you sign up for such an endeavor, how much time, to which, you're actually committing. Until you have a need to probe deeper, twenty-four hours seems like an eternity, certainly enough time to accomplish just about anything, anyone could possibly want done. As every normal human fully understands, nine hours a day, adds up to some real time, over the course of a week, and the weeks don't stop coming at you. I've never been accused of being normal, but really: Who would've thought, time is so persistent and never-ending?
It had been a long time, since I've had to pay attention to such everyday things, as hour of the day and schedules. What is so obvious to anyone who clocks in at a particular time, every single day of the week, slipped by me. God bless all of you who have regular jobs with bosses, to whom, you must answer and be responsive, in order to get that weekly paycheck, entrepreneurs, like myself, do not receive. Working for oneself at home has its benefits, but a regular paycheck isn't one of those. Nobody ever said, "A writer's life is a normal one."
My irregular schedule is the reason as to why I can take care of my grand baby, five days a week, ostensibly, until The Crack of Doom. I call my new endeavor, Grumpy Daycare. This name began as a funny thing to say, but has stuck. I am Grumpy and my wife is Granny. The name also conjures other images. As you can imagine, going from having no schedule whatsoever to being at the beck and call of a three month old baby, made me a bit grumpy, to say the least. I had forgotten how demanding babies can be. Whaaa, pay attention to me! Whaaaa, change my diaper! Whaaaaa, feed me!
Once you cut through their cute facades, babies are such tyrants. These little podlings(Yea, I know. This term spikes of being an alien, but who hasn't thought of babies as being some alien species?) seem to think the world revolves around their wants and needs. They cry, and their caretakers dance to their tune; changing them, feeding them, and making silly faces or whatever appears to suit the fancy of these little dictators. Before you know it, nine hours have passed, and the parent of this tyranical, bundle of cuteness has returned to bring their podling back to their homestead(Perhaps, for The Mother Ship to study us silly humans). For you see, time does fly, when you're having fun!
Being around a baby on a regular basis gives one a fresh outlook on life. These little darlings are windows into our own souls. Probably, because these podlings are constantly probing for the meanings of our lives and transmitting the data back to The Mother Ship, but don't hold me to that conception. If there is a superior race of aliens studying us(Since they came to us, there would be no other way to see it), I wouldn't want to get on their bad side. No matter what lies behind the inquiry, babies make you think. Through their growth, which seems to happen daily, and their unconditional love, babies get you to see the most mundane aspects of life, as if, for the first time. It's the most uncanny(And maybe, unsettling) part of being a caretaker for these tiny podlings.
The other day, little Zara caused me to reassess how we learn to do the things we do. Her full name is Zarathustra Dragonslayer, but we simply call her, among other things, Zara. How many names can one being have? It would seem as many as everyone in the family can create, but I digress. What's new?
As I watched my little Z(There I go!) figure out how to get her pacifier back into her mouth, it occurred to me, what a complicated task that could be. Little Z surrounded her coveted device with both of her hands. Then, she pushed the pacifier up her chest and toward her mouth, inch by breathtaking inch. It looked like a military operation gone awry, with the small device appearing to have a sentience of its own.
She would get the pacifier almost into her mouth, then it would tip and fall away from her. Each time, she shook her head, cooed like an owl, and pulled on the ribbon, connected to the end of the Great Device of Sucking Satisfaction, to bring it back onto her stomach and begin the operation again. It was so funny to watch. After a good half-hour, she finally got the pacifier into her mouth. The next time was slightly quicker, and now, Zara puts it into her mouth like a pro, most of the time, anyway. They do say, practice makes perfect!
That incident reminded me, nothing is ingrained in any of us. We are all born as blank slates. Throughout our lives, we cause information to be written onto those slates. There is nothing we can't learn. We just need to give ourselves time to understand, whatever it is, we desire.
No matter how much we think we know, our slates never have everything written on them. I guess they call that realization, wisdom. Time, patience, and persistence are all that's required in order to make sense of even the most complex of tasks. Life gives us experience, which is turned into wisdom and written upon our slates, to make them that much, less blank.
Now, you know the rest of the story behind the grumblings of Grumpy Daycare. As such, I leave you with one last thought: No matter how much you may love The Dark, you need to fill the darkness of your mind with the light of knowledge, and as much of it as is humanly possible!
Art is what distinguishes an enduring and worthy culture from a group of people thrust together by happenstance. Dark days are upon us. There are those who seek to erase all art and history that contradict their worldviews. Art and history intertwine to create a record of how far the culture has come, and how far the culture still needs to go. Erasing these twin cultural markers leaves a hole, from which the culture can't climb. Somebody smarter than myself, once said, "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."
It seems with each passing day, another statue of a former cultural icon is being removed from the public forum. Doing this is akin to burning books. However pure the purpose for expelling these works of art from our public spaces, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions!
The heroes of The Confederacy, first and foremost, fought for liberty. Their brand of freedom was called, States' Rights. Yes, The Southern States were slave-owning states, and that was an evil in dire need of a remedy. Sadly enough, the central issue of The American Civil War wasn't slavery, but the succession of the Southern States from The Union. To erase that point from our history is to forget the hardships the slaves endured to secure equal rights. Their battle ensued long after the dust of The War Between The States had settled.
These statues were created by sculptors, who put their heart and soul into their work. We cringe when we hear about fundamentalist groups, like ISSIS, destroying ancient relics. In a country as great as The United States, we don't expect that sort of behavior to occur on our soil, and yet, it is happening. Maybe not to the same degree, but nevertheless, the purpose is to erase something significant from our collective memory.
Attacks upon art aren't limited to the removal of statues of men of questionable propriety. Our public schools have become another kind of cultural battleground. Textbooks, the building blocks of any decent educational system, have been revised to either delete historical events deemed inappropriate, or to change the narrative so drastically, the original events are no longer recognizable. Education has been transformed into a process of indoctrination into a world, certain people have deemed is in dire need of significant transformation. It is no longer about the search for truth. In the end, everyone will be worse off, and art is just the first victim of this destructive trend.
Every subject has been attacked in this manner, but none more depressing than the subject of literature. Classic works of great authors and poets, like Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Poe, Hawthorne, and Lord Byron, have been replaced on the curriculum with Harry Potter and Maya Angelou. No offense is meant to be thrown at J.K. Rowling or Maya Angelou, but their works haven't stood the test of time.
Literature is more than the telling of a good story. Although, that is important, it isn't the whole story. Literature is is a collage of themes, conceptions of conflict, vocabulary, literary devices, and grammar. There is so much to be gleaned from the analysis of proven classics that just isn't possible with modern stories. Critics say, "Nobody writes that way anymore," but maybe they should.
Excising this body of work from our public schools, deprives our children of the lessons that shaped our lives and our culture. An important piece of any educational system is to pass wisdom down through the generations. That piece is what helps to create a cultural identity that transcends generational differences. It's the glue that binds us.
I don't think the divisiveness of our country is an accident of history. Destruction of our commonalities has led us to this great divide. Artists of every stripe must stand firm and refuse to acquiesce to the denigration of their art and our heritage.
If we are to survive as a country, we must rediscover as a people what made us a nation in the first place. The unadulterated truth, with warts and all, must be explored in order to restore some modicum of civility within our public discourse. The alternative should be unacceptable to every red-blooded American. Artists, through their art, are in a unique place within the span of history to help restore that which has been deleted and forgotten. Only history will tell whether artists rose to this challenge, or fell prey to the times!
Now that you know the rest of the story behind, Raging Against The Dying Of The Art, I leave you with one last thought until we meet again on these proverbial Fields of Athenry. Don't let anyone blind you with the brilliance of their ideas at the risk of knowledge, imagination, and all forms of art!
Tiny bubbles make me happy, make me feel fine. A great song I could listen to until the end of time. All energetic songs have that affect on me. Don Ho outdid himself with that one. Let's lift our glasses to toast the Hawaiian crooner. May the angels appreciate you as much as we did and still do!
Back from The Blades of Grass Tour, I'm getting back into the swing of things. Vacations are great for recharging the batteries, but they tend to get you off your game. My mojo has been slow to get a move on at an acceptable speed.
The Tour had a slower pace than previous ones. The tempo was pleasurable, akin to the song, Comfortably Numb. Sometimes the pace is so frenetic, I return more exhausted than when I left to count the blades of grass on the battlefields of yore. That wasn't the case with this past Tour. Leaving the blades of grass in my dust(counted in the tens of millions, at last count, but don't hold me to that), my batteries have been recharged. I am ready to stand on it and get my trains moving once more at the speed of thought. Whoo-Whoo!
Tiny bubbles of knowledge were everywhere to be found. The Newseum in DC had an exhibit from the old Checkpoint Charley in Berlin. It's a miracle what people can endure, and endure they did. Communism and the East Bloc fell, and The West continues on its merry way. History gives a perspective you can't find elsewhere. Seeing the artifacts, makes you feel like a bubble, floating in the stream of time.
There is something special about walking along The Mall and looking at the monuments from every angle. Standing in front of The Lincoln Memorial, makes you feel small and insignificant. Listening to the fountains of The World War Two Memorial spew umpteen hundreds of gallons of water every moment, validates the fact you are alive and free because of the sacrifice of so many for generations of people they would never know. Each step I took was a celebration of life, liberty, and all that is entailed with being an American!
Go figure, Mount Vernon had changed considerably since my last visit back in the early nineties. George Washington's historic estate had added many features. There were people in period dress, telling stories relevant to The General's time, and a tremendous museum with all manner of artifacts. Then, there was a 4D theater with a clip about Washington's role in The Revolutionary War. I had heard of 3D movies, but 4D was new to me. During a bit on Valley Forge, the theater got cold and bits of ice spit at you. It was an uncanny experience I won't soon forget. Everyone should go there at least once. I promise it's well-worth the price of admission!
My grand baby grew another inch or two during my absence. Babies do grow fast at her age. Her growth rate is astounding by any measure, but I'm biased on that account. She is most likely growing at a normal clip, and my mind is probably exaggerating the matter.
Just the other day, as I took care of my grand baby, after she drank her formula, she made the cutest, little bubbles around the corners of her mouth. I'm not sure what the deal was with that phenomenon, but my granddaughter smiled and was having a good time. As my wife is given to say, "She was full, fat, and happy!"
Now that you know the rest of the story behind Tiny Bubbles, I have to get my nose back to the proverbial grindstone. I leave you with one last thought: Don't let the sun catch you smiling, or it will never give you a bubble of darkness!