Thursday, December 20, 2007

Burl Ives Debate Erupts, Dividing Town

Peaksville, MD – The question of late folk-singer Burl Ives’ viability as
minstrel of Christmas cheer has sparked a heated debate in the small town of Peaksville and is threatening a holiday tradition that has been observed for the past 100 years, through three scarlet fever outbreaks and two world wars. The “Tree and Tunes” ceremony that once fostered a sense of goodwill and community pride has become a source of vitriol and bitterness. At the heart of the rancor is a controversy over Burl Ives and whether his unique vocal stylings should be allowed in the line-up of holiday music played at the event.

The conflict over Burl Ives first began when Wilma Myers, a member of the music committee for Tree and Tunes cut Ives from the play list referring to him as a “large, unsavory man”. The comment offended fellow committee member Dave Shivers, a large man who bears an uncanny resemblance to Burl Ives.

In a flurry of e-mails, Shivers defended Ives, calling him a “beloved icon of wholesome family entertainment and everything that is good in America.” Myers sent a stinging reply in which she described Ives’ singing as “god-awful”. Wrote Myers, “It sounds like my drunken Uncle Clem singing up through the furnace vent, the way he used to do when he’d get soused and sneak into my parents’ basement around the holidays.”

News of Myers' comments about Burl Ives quickly spread through the town, and Burl Ives fans of every stripe have come out in force, demanding his inclusion in the holiday proceedings. Those supporting Myers in her efforts to stamp out Burl Ives have formed a counter group, calling themselves the “Burl Ives My Ass Coalition,” or BIMAC. As a response to the crisis, the Tree and Tunes Council has scheduled open town meetings to try to resolve the issue. More details as this story develops.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Night Of The Radishes

Noche de los Rabanos (Night of the Radishes) is celebrated the 23rd of December in the Zocala, where dozens of puestos contain radishes specially grown and carved to illustrate scenes from Oaxaca's past and present. It is a perfect opportunity for artisans to highlight Oaxaca's 16 distinct indigenous groups, including the legendary Tehuanas of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Additionally, the radish displays may take on a religious theme, as does this one of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Beauty That Surrounds Us

Some things take so long
But how do I explain
When not too many people
Can see we’re all the same
And because of all their tears
Their eyes can’t hope to see
The beauty that surrounds them
Isn’t it a pity

“Isn’t it a pity”
by George Harrison

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hemp Intelligence

Farming 10,000 acres of hemp will provide as much paper, building materials, and pulp as 41,000 acres of forest.

- US Dept. of Agriculture, USDA Bulletin 404

Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Americans were legally bound to grow hemp during the Colonial Era and Early Republic. The federal government subsidized hemp during the Second World War and U.S. farmers grew about a million acres of hemp as part of that program.

Hemp seed is nutritious and contains more essential fatty acids than any other source, is second only to soybeans in complete protein (but is more digestible by humans), is high in B-vitamins, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Hemp seed is not psychoactive and cannot be used as a drug.

The bark of the hemp stalk contains bast fibers, which are among the Earth's longest natural soft fibers and are also rich in cellulose. The cellulose and hemi-cellulose in its inner woody core are called hurds. Hemp stalk is not psychoactive. Hemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber.

According to the Department of Energy, hemp as a biomass fuel producer requires the least specialized growing and processing procedures of all hemp products. The hydrocarbons in hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels and gas. Development of bio-fuels could significantly reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce wastewater contamination. Hemp's low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and its creamy color lends itself to environmentally-friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical by-products.

Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found. Hemp paper can also be recycled more times than wood-based paper.

The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not recognize the value of industrial hemp and permit its production.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Autumn In Srinagar

Srinagar, nicknamed" Paradise on Earth," is in the heart of Kashmir, in India.

"Delicious autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns"

- George Eliot

Thursday, September 20, 2007

For Danette

In loving memory of Danette Velez, wife and mother of five, a caring soul I was privileged to cross paths with, who ended her battle with cancer on Thursday morning, September 20, 2007. Here is an excerpt from her journal:

Life is messy work

I read a quote from an anonymous writer the other day. It said, “Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty, well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming, “Wow! What a ride!”

Painting by Lacey Lewis, artist and friend of Danette’s.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Most Capable Brain

she skews like her sister
two live-wire curlicues
those lapis eyes
always testing the deep
they share
a most capable brain
a globe that is turning
casting shapes on the wall
a Bering land bridge between them
an archipelago near the floor
the fleeting hem of a skirt
tonight the bathtub's a moat of petals and candles
the world is flying across the room
in pink rubber
hey girls throw to me
like you can throw time
fate is a tangled metal
look up how it's twisting
two daughters in a swing
they're my honeychain
life's a fine powder drifting
a door you left open
and someone skipping out back

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Can You Burn This?

Can you burn this?
swollen paper in limp binding
tired leather lavender
these furtive introspections
chewing holes like moths
a measure of Epsom and alcohol
hand it over
feed the pile
a fine brisk madness in the fire
the heady overtow of smoke and leaves
betrays the coming season
here now the air deranged
there goes a letter sailing
don't worry
the good bits yours to keep
hear the jangling
your blood like fizz
ho ho
Ashes aren’t to ashes
Ashes aren’t to dust
they're jagged wishes flying pretty
Float on steady down
in the dusk you see it gleaming
a light that's yours to bear
wrap your hair in fallen leaves
growing expectant like the moon
full of October

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Not Any Big Red Cat

Not this
Not any
Big red cat
my muse appearing
thinks he is
don’t be taken in
it’s rhythmic
but he’s a bounder
so scattered
I don’t believe
In any big red cat
The trees are straining
against my weather
They’re clear blown out of here
A field stripped and yellow
The wheat has left
All scattered
Have learned to land that way
Dead-ahead horizon
My muse appearing
goofy big red cat
stop standing around like a man!
holds out the absurd
guileless, pretending
don’t follow
it’s all stick figures jumping
marbles spinning
sea monkeys my parents gave me
don’t believe it
Not in any
Or anything close
To big red cat

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Space Suit Rebellion

Special orange partial pressure
Fishbowl polycarbonate
Precious sealing neck-ring
Zombie? Me?
Sleepwalking the moon
Wearing lunar boots and gloves
The rigors of exploring
Transfer of heat
Thence to space
Thence to space
From the skin out
The head is free to move within
Help keep the head!
Prevent ballooning
Remember Vostok
Harsh and airless
Double-ply rubberized parachute cloth
Keep the body fluids from boiling away
Wiley Post drove a Lockheed Vega
Celebrated supercharged aluminized
One high-falootin’ altitude
Leads to another

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ode To A Hoky German Rock Band

Gamma Ray from Hamburg, Germany

Gamma Ray, oh Gamma Ray Band
your concept is so edgy,
your image so start-a-linggg
your lead singer is so frightening
you're blowin' my mind

Gamma Ray, oh Gamma Ray band
your guitars are like lasers
your stage effects are awesome, man
but why you only tour in Japan?
cuz no one plays your records here

Gamma Ray, oh Gamma Ray Band
your chords all sound the same
you have big gamma rays painted on your van
I think that I'm your only fan
but you are rock and roll, man

Friday, August 24, 2007

All Rise

What has come to me?
When I have watched the universe
The discovery
That everyone
Gets common
So strange
And perfect again

From "A Day"
by Inara George on the cd "All Rise"

'To hear the record is to understand. Inara's thoughtful lyrics and optimistic, vulnerable voice offer a wisdom and sense of irony that can't be served by the naïve and ambitious youths who dominate today's airwaves. Her phrasing is unique, yet strangely reminiscent of male singers, like Leonard Cohen or Nick Drake. And how the record sounds seems to defy context, gracefully blending the nostalgic and the contemporary, the organic and the synthesized into an immensely palatable, and wholly consistent, soundscape all it's own."
Review from CD Baby.
For more info visit:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Biologists Have Arrived

The great extrapolator has drawn up the map

That which you deny
You bring into existence
Those endless novelties you seek to destroy
Are brimming and budding
They’re bursting the seams of your neatly sewn conclusions
Circumnavigating the globe
For the sea you left behind
With your succinct and drastic closures
drawing up your belts of life
As if they could contain us
You place the azoic at will
As if you could move hemispheres
We fail to understand the middle depths
Living within our own smallness
The ocean is calling our bluff
I allow for the primordial slime
To bring us to terms with regions
Immeasurable and unexplored

That which you cut down to size
Falls neatly into your hands
A lamb for your iron
A stone for your enduring mark
Easily crushed and scattered
You boil down your conclusions
A reduction of syrup
A minor treacle
And jar them like bottom mud
A novelty for your shelf
A conversation piece

The biologists have arrived
With sea bed in their hands
That which you deny
They bring into existence

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Plight of the Moderately Gifted

…simply moderate giftedness has been made worthless by the printing press and radio and television and satellites and all that.

A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communications put him or her into daily competition with nothing but world’s champions.

The entire planet can get along nicely now with maybe a dozen champion performers in each area of human giftedness.

A moderately gifted person has to keep his or her gifts all bottled up until, in a manner of speaking, he or she gets drunk at a wedding and tapdances on the coffee table like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers.

We have a name for him or her. We call him or her an “exhibitionist.”
How do we reward such an exhibitionist? We say to him or her the next morning, “Wow! Were you ever drunk last night!”

Excerpt from the book "Bluebeard", by Kurt Vonnegut

Bold Dizzy Joy of Childhood Playthings

Dorit, Bronze, Double Ring and Couch by Franz West

Ypsilon by Franz West

Laube, Meeting Point 3, Ypsilon, Dorit, Bronze, Double Ring, Couch by Franz West

My heaven holds the bold dizzy joy of childhood playthings

Forms larger than life

Fantasies molded into cheerful towers

which greet my easy soaring

as I glide past their tops

coming to rest

on a luminous shore

So happy so warm

A blanket of wind

Clouds weaving their shapes for me

forever and ever
the bold dizzy joy
the sweet air of love

Sculptures by Austrian sculptor Franz West on display at Lincoln Center in NYC in 2004.

For more information see:

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hello Lemon

Hello lemon
This wide life opens
Tingles like money
The smell of heaven
Clean with hope
Beginning, beginning
A bright spot
A burst of lemon
This new day

Poem inspired by the song "Hello Lemon" by Mike Andrews, from his cd "Hand on String."

See more about Mike Andrews at his website:

Hand on String, by Mike Andrews

Friday, August 17, 2007

Riki Tiki Tavi - Mongoose Is Gone

Everybody who read the Jungle Book
knows that Riki Tiki Tavi's
a mongoose who kills snakes

When I was a young man
I was led to believe there were organizations
to kill my snakes for me

ie the church
ie the government
ie school

but when I got a little older
I learned I had to kill them myself

Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone
Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone
Won't be coming around
for to kill your snakes no more, my love
Riki tiki tavi mongoose is gone

From the song, "Riki Tiki Tavi", by Donovan

Images are Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
in the TV show, "The Avengers".