Winter Soldier

March 19th, 2008

~ Ours is not to wonder why.

NPR radio is carrying the Democracy Now program “Winter Soldier”.  The war continues.  War continues.  The Winter Soldier event is a series of those from in “Empire Service” that have “served” in Iraq or in Afghanistan or have served up their children to destroy or be destroyed (or both) in these “foreign lands”.  Suffice it to say that these “Americans” have little in common in their experience in the lands of their foreign experience with my foreign experiences as may have been revealed in the posts upon these pages.  The lands I knew are destroyed.  They have been destroyed by war and have been destroyed by that substitute for war called “capitalism” (banks and banking, debt and debting).

Lee Harvey Oswald was a United States Marine.  He learned to do what he was told, when he was told.  He may have been trained in special operations, he may have just become used to special operations (while in the Marines).  Either way, the Marines changed the man; the Marines killed him (or the Army killed him, Ruby was in the Army if not in the Marines, it does not matter, ship or shore it takes both to get “over seas”).  War is wrong.  Empire is wrong.  There is nothing on any battlefield worth killing for, the “battlefield” is only a place for killing.  The winter soldiers have learned that.

I follow the Dow (Jones market average of “industrials”) a bit; a pulse of the world, of the Empire, of the Marines in “service”, the blood of their veins, the “money engine” that keeps them flying and dying and fighting and failing and falling in the desert sands and in the Courthouses of Dallas (Texas) and other courts of God and man and of mother’s too (and sister’s).  “Day dabblers” (some call themselves traders, or is it ‘traitors’ as in “day traitors”) write in and post their posts about the why’s and where fore’s of the ups and downs of the Dow and of the economy and of the money supply if not of the food supply.  They don’t seem to realize that all the wealth has gone to war (like flowers, every one) since about 1940 (let’s say January of 1941).

World War Two cost $35 billion (total), a bit more for the “wounded” GI’s that came back ‘home’ without ever coming ‘back home’, too damaged to talk about the war, too angry to be fair about it, too bitter to make sure that war would never happen again.  A billion was for the ‘bomb’; a billion or two more for the napalm and B-29’s (and other planes) to fire bomb the cities of Japan and Germany and Holland (even).   The war started America royally on the road to debt (after WW I the USA was the greatest creditor nation).  More bombs (read nukes) cost billions more, a million man army standing to “defeat the reds”, submarines and ships to invade Murmansk or send missiles to Moscow; billions of debt begin to add up, a few billion at a time.

When I graduated from High School LBJ said there was money for “guns AND butter”, and space, and body bags and more napalm and nukes (of course).  I said no (in time), refused more ROTC (training), walked away from guns and the gun thing, talked to friends, spoke up, led a march or two.  Either way you look at it, the events in Dallas were an exercise in “friendly fire”, maybe the Marines, maybe the President, maybe just Wall Street in action, feeding the engines of industry, helping the Dow to soar or climb with the ever climbing debt.  As the Warren Commission said (Allen Dulles), “it’s what we ‘found’, not necessarily the ‘truth’.  Why look harder when ‘you’ like what you find?

Dulles (Commission Member) was never a Marine, he was a ‘secret agent’ type of guy, back room planning, “patsy” type people playing at being Marines, Marines playing the part of patsy’s, working for Wall Street, working for the President, working for war.  I watch the Dow for the “war news” I guess; to see how much and how many (dollars) are going into the industrial machine to make the case for war and more war.  War was “sold short” today by an exact (and chilling) 293 points.  Who will buy some war?  War for sale every day (but not this “Good Friday”), a day of peace perhaps, pray for peace.

A “soldier” (from Iraq) described the carnage done in the name of each ‘American’ and said “each one of us, each one of you, is responsible” by your actions and inactions and apathy.  I object.  I am not (responsible).  I do not support this war, do not own stocks, do not support companies that do.  (Or I try not to.)  Each day the “election returns” on the war, the war referendum, comes in; Dow up, Dow down.  How high the moon; how high the Dow, who can live in a world without war (or would want to)?  Ask Amy Goodman.  Ask this soldier.  Ask me.  Tomorrow may be the first day of Spring (I hope), a passing of winter, VOTE NO (to war).  Vote early.  Vote often.  Sell! (for peace).

[2008.03.19 / Wednesday – Winter Soldier]

Take Pictures Now

March 12th, 2008

~ Old letters, old silver, old photographs; full speed ahead.

A book about the Titanic sits (among other books) on my coffee table.  It is a pretty book, a picture book, containing pictures and illustrations and photographs of art and silverware and artifacts that were once aboard the Titanic, or could have been or should have been.  Some are from the Titanic’s “sister ship”, built “just like her”, surviving for awhile after the Titanic sank.  I read “A Night to Remember” when I was in fifth grade as I recall, I had seen the movie long before, black and white thing, stark images in the day and then in the night; a “great” ship, testimony to speed and wealth and privilege and technological arrogance, even the “hope” of the steerage class in a faster carriage to their “future” (estate).  The book is there (on the coffee table) to remind me, of childhood memories and of lessons learned in childhood.

I liked the Titanic I guess, it was a “wonderful ship”, the emphasis being on the word “wonder”.  I would of liked to have once been on the Titanic, to have seen it (before it sank), but always realizing that the price of such a “once” experience would most likely have been coupled with the price of being on the Titanic when it was sinking (unless one managed a perfect shore visit with a perfectly timed ‘exit’ before it sailed, knowing someone who would die (perhaps) and saying ‘goodbye’ before they died and before they knew that they soon would die or at least suffer on the ‘long boats’ in the icy waters of the north Atlantic with just the stars to see and with which to seek ‘wonder’).

With terms like “ship of state” abounding when we were young it is not surprising (perhaps) that many boomers have always viewed the Titanic as something of a metaphor for America, even though she was of course a British ship, headed of course for America (the dream), a dream ‘she’ would never reach, “a shore to far”, too much ice and too great a technology and too large a hubris; but you know the story, steerage (passengers) and tonnes of freight locked inside, locked into the great downward descent, three minutes of life left when the last of the water filled the last air pocket of each compartment, the ‘freight’ was always dead, the water was unnecessary, no “just add water” to end the material appeal of the material things, with the steerage things were different (of course), life struggling for life in locked compartments, there are few pictures of the steerage (passengers) boarding and sailing on the Titanic, no diaries of their lives or deaths, no front page photographs or illustrations of the “silent majority” who died silently (or not so silently) on the Titanic (in the books), the picture books about the Titanic and the “wonder of it all”.

The market went up 416 points yesterday, a “great huzzah” for the market, a great “technical” rally for those who place hope with technology and who don’t remember that the Titanic was at “record breaking speed” when she plowed into the ice (berg) moving at a more natural pace in the north Atlantic waters.  If it happened today there would be a lot more pictures, more photographs, more photographs of the ship and the boats and the tear streaked faces as couples said goodbye and as workers held to their stations about to die and as others locked the doors (to steerage) making people die (below decks, without one last glimpse of the stars, to see the wonder one last time, or the ice or the water as a sea, before their death in the holds of a heartless technology).  It is a metaphor for the heartlessness of the “ruling class”, of their “efficiency”, of their ability to avoid “unpleasantness” even during unpleasantness.  Some ships take a hundred years to “sink” (perhaps) or for the message of their sinking to really “sink in”.

My family was always a “photographic family”, lots of pictures, of lots of things; scenic scenery, people, a few of the family even, but mostly pictures of the way (other) people lived, how they worked, what they did in the course of their everyday life and travels and challenges.  Most of those “in the old photographs” are dead now, their cities have died, the world they knew has died and yielded to new cities and new houses and “new times” that they (were they still alive) would not know, recognize, or remember.  Empire (like the Titanic) seeks to erase the past, to rob people of all their yesterdays, what they did, where they were.  Empire says we are all ‘steerage’, locked in, no means of escape, helpless to save the sinking ship that they know is sinking, with a few (far too few) Empire lifeboats at the ready to be manned (shipside) by the dead pushing off the ‘lucky living’ to a new life in a post-Titanic world.

But there are differences this time between the metaphor and reality.  Let there be no mistake, America is the Titanic; she is going down, it will be very sad and very messy, no “watery grave” to quickly “cover it all up”.  But the differences are worth noting.  This time the “steerage” has cameras, there will be lots of “before and after” pictures, lots of ‘memories’, a living record of the calamity and the cost and of those that both caused it and were (mostly) victims of the great calamity.  This time there will be more than a record of the names of the steerage (folks), we will know something of their lives (before) and of how they struggled (afterward, after the ‘berg’, before the ‘ship’ “hit bottom”, broken apart on the bottom (of the sea of history).  Don’t “raise the Titanic”, just remember, just revisit the lesson and maintain a healthy respect for ice, cubes of remembrance in each glass of wine (perhaps).

The second difference is that America has no “sister ship”.  America is unique, the ‘one’ goes down, and it’s all over, no silver to borrow, no stately staircases to take pictures of, no “four stacks” sailing elsewhere for a haunting picture of a troop ship moving troops to a war begun after the real war was already lost, lost in the north Atlantic, ship down, a technology moving far too fast, a design “shortfall” (we’ll correct it next time).  There will be no “next time” for America, one ship (of state), one chance, one “go”, and all too quickly (hubris, arrogance, technological triumph, design flaws and all), and it’s all gone.

Five minutes before the Titanic struck the ice she could have been saved, damaged perhaps, limped to port, repairs made, water tight bulkheads raised, more boats added, enough for steerage (folks) even.  “Could have”, “would have”, “should have”; it didn’t happen.  No more “what if’s”, no more “timely intervention”, no more “change of heart” with those that had no heart, good “company men”, helping others to die, while they themselves die so that a few lifeboats might sail away; better that they all died (perhaps), maybe then there might have been no war (no first world war, nor therefore no second).

“Titanic Vanishes”, the headlines would say, “not a trace”, “no survivors”.  Only strange “radio signals” in the ether, ghost messages about ice and an iceberg, German’s deny everything, no U-boats in the area, peace talks seem necessary to prevent war.  It would be a different book on my coffee table, I would have different neighbors, live in a different city, live a different way; live in a world without war (maybe); looking forward to a hundred years of peace when I turn but ’64’ (years of age).  No war debt, no living veterans of any war, no grieving widows or mothers or sisters or brothers, no Empire; America meeting its one time promise, infrastructure modified, structural defects fixed, attitudes of command (and leadership) changed, but it’s all too late.   “Could have”, “would have”, “should have”; it didn’t happen, it will not happen, ice ahead, no “green house warming” to save you (or anyone), take pictures.

In the early days (of our family) we would wait to take pictures (of our house) after we knew we were moving.  By then, of course, everything had changed.  Things were the same (almost), but the “spirit” was gone, ‘we’ had decided to “sell” or “move” or “move on”, and with that decision life itself had changed; the house was not the same, we had already (mentally) left.  Eventually we learned to take a few pictures as we went along, of “every day life”, before a move changed everything.  If one has ever moved, ever changed work locations or work, ever known a death, one knows of what I speak.  One knows that they “should” take more pictures (if pictures are important) to capture those everyday things of life that is life that seems like they will never change.  Things do change.  Things change quickly.

The fear is not of “quick change”, but of “sudden change”, like the Titanic thing; five minutes that might have happened, five new minutes that did happen, five minutes to learn what happened, five minutes for panic or planning, five minutes to say “goodbye”.  It doesn’t have to happen in this way.  But it can.  For some it will.  Even steerage (passengers) can still leave this ship, put together ‘lifeboats’, hide in first class passageways behind the potted palms, get ‘off’ the ship or prepare for life in the ‘open sea’ where class no longer matters and money is pretty much worthless.  Bernanke is now the captain, and Bush too, and countless others with no greater wisdom (which means none) who know the ship is doomed and do not care for who’s on board; chivalry is truly dead, they are captains of a “death ship”, and they do not care (for themselves or for anybody else).  Don’t be fooled by their smiles, their ‘smiling faces’ (song lyric alert).

If you are new to this site, read or reread the past posts.  I increasingly find there is little new to say.  There are ‘pictures’ (in words) of the past and of the present.  There are a few pictures of the future maybe, the more pleasant possibilities.  I try to stay away from danger, from unnecessary sorrow, from needless loss.  Each day (of life) is a gift (not just a day of science).  Each thing (or person) I see will soon change, some things will soon be gone, others will soon be changed, I should take more pictures (Now), so I might remember, before I forget, before they make books built around evening gowns and lifeboats and not of the lives of hopeful emigrants never to become immigrants, never to live their dreams of “America” in America.  We are all emigrants perhaps, let go and live, find better boats, walk up (or off) different planks, do not die in the “fastest ship”, you will die far too fast (as advertised).

The story of the Titanic is far too sad for words, or for any deep thought about the fates of those aboard.  All pictures are trivial in portraying the travail.  All accounts were written by the living while alive and not the dead while dying, not physically so much, as is “the death of hope” before the reach of new hope arrives.  Take pictures Now.  Remember what was lost.  Remember how it was.  The Titanic was a prison, a prison ship, it locked lives away from life, underpaid coalers shoveling coal 24 hours a day breathing coal dust (black lungs) so that gowns could dance and gangsters could play at being “gentlemen” and have their names remembered for their (what was really) buffoonery and madness.  Beware in where you place your “hope”, your “trust”, your “god”; there is no magic sign in “416”, nor in any Dow (save down), until it does not exist, sunk beneath the waves, at peace at last, no longer anything but a beacon (and a reminder) of the deep (of how deep the bottom).

There was a woman aboard the Titanic that was certain it would sink.  She upset the other passengers with her dire warnings, the crew sedated her but she continued on, whispering the warning, coughing out the words, telling all she could, being a nuisance or a prophet or just someone who might have seen the obvious, or known.  There should be statutes of this women in shipyards, her face should shine from coins, her portrait should be at every post office and in every office of the federal reserve and greet each visitor to the White House.  Empire does not honor those that know (or knew) or saw things coming.  Write “Fallon” on your money, on the bathroom stalls, on the subway walls (graffiti is something I normally don’t believe in, but this is an emergency).  If graffiti is really illegal, don’t write with marker or paint, just write mentally, see “Fallon” everywhere, see it wherever graffiti is, take warning.

Fallon is of course the Ghandi of our time (meaning this past year), the last best hope of peace, the last hope of a “soft” landing, the last hope of the “final five” minutes of hope before the “crunch” of ice against steel as a metaphor for a naval guy soon gone (April 1st) to the pages of history.  Take Pictures Now.  Take Pictures Now!  TAKE PICTURES NOW!  (You decide).

[2008.03.12 / Wednesday – Take Pictures Now]

A New Cycle

March 6th, 2008

~ Thoughts to those waiting on the border.

As a member of “my” generation, as a “boomer”, or as a “war baby” I grew up with the sense that all was not right with the world; or more properly “in the world”.  Sure, I was tempted by all the “things”, all the machines that were thrust into my life and the life of those about me; they were enchanting at time, alluring, even colorful too in a “fresh and shiny” sort of way, like a new car or a new toy or a new rubber stopper for the drain.  But the interesting “things” in life were alive (not dead).  There were people in my life, and plants, and lots of animals.

Now, except for a turtle who is still hibernating, and except for people there are few animals in my life, save a neighbors dog or cat or two, often annoying in the way that ones dogs and cats can imitate the worst of that which can be human (traits).  The Empire does not regard living without animals (as a part of ones daily life) as “poverty”, as being “poor”, as being without “wealth”.  It is (of course).  Animals are one of the things that make life rich, their absence makes one poor.  The same is also true of plants, but this post is more about animals (I think).

The “rich” of course often own animals, missing the important point that “owning” animals is not the point; owning is just the point of accepting responsibility for care and behavior, personal responsibility.  If one hires someone to feed the race horses, herd the cattle, tend the sheep, milk the cows then that person does not own these animals, except in a distorted and abstract self-deluding way.  I learned this early in life when I thought I wanted a duck and chickens (near Easter probably, in spring hope springs eternal).  My parents promised that they would “buy” them (the feathered friends) if I would promise to feed them, clean out their home (the chicken house), and collect the eggs (so their daily efforts would not be lost to waste and ‘rot’).  I agreed (needless to say).

Most animals are more diverse than (machine age) people.  They are harder (perhaps) to train and to be taught to “jump through hoops”, more independent, often wise in a simple or collective sort of way; certainly more aware and more intuitive.  It is hard to lie to most animals.  They are easy to talk to; they like (usually) other animals and have no interest in or use for machines (other than a carriage or a plow in the case of certain cooperative and sympathetic draught animals).  Most animals are rather open, they are not usually jealous (unless taught to be jealous) and will share their lives with anyone (and everyone) who passes by.  It is this “collective ownership” (really “collective presence”) that is the greatest contribution of animals and the reason why a world (and life) without animals is so poor.

When my father went to Burma (in 1951) he mailed back pictures (photographs really), in the form of 35 mm slides that he had taken of Burma and his life and work there.  His work, as I have mentioned before, was to build an airport, a jet airport capable of accommodating the newest and fastest plane on the planet, the British built “Comet”, the ultimate machine in its day (perhaps) (Unless one believes that war machines, like jet bombers, are more worthwhile and useful than “civilian” machine type tools).  Many of his pictures were of machines building the airport (machine) for the airplane (machines) that would use the airport once all the animals were properly and effectively removed from the airport site.

The other pictures, the majority probably, were of people places and animals.  There were elephants of course, lots of elephants, elephants working alongside man (and with women) moving teak (logs) and bathing in rivers and walking along the roadside on the way to work or on the way home.  Horses pulled carts and carriages, oxen did too.  Water buffalo waded in the fields, pulled plows, lived along with men and women and children in the villages.  There were giant turtles (three feet long) lurking in the pools of religious temples, diving through the water lilies.  Cobras and various much more poisonous snakes crawled about in pits at the public zoo (having been wisely removed from other public places).  Tigers prowled in concrete cages (at the zoo too), but mostly all the animals were not caged, but were abroad in the city and in villages and as a part of life.  In Burma life was lived as it should be lived, richly, in animal richness.

When my father returned from Burma (to Berkeley, California) needless to say I wanted to see some animals.  We had a few brine shrimp (sold as a gag gift) in Berkeley and a goldfish (as I recall).  Even the police department had no horses.  The MacBeath Lumber Yard had a very improbable picture of an African elephant moving Burma type teak, so much for a consciousness of “living with animals”.  He took me to the San Francisco Zoo, very unlike the Rangoon Zoo in pictures.  I was not impressed, no snakes, too many cages, only cages.  We stopped (on the way home) to view the Bison grazing at Golden Gate Park, kept “safely” away from people, not like the Buffalo in Burma.  It was a disappointing day.  A week later he left again in another machine (another plane) for Canada.

In Carson (City) things were better.  We lived within seven blocks of the State Capitol Building with two horses, chickens, two ducks, a cat, a dog, and lots of almost wild quail.  Within a block or two there were cattle and sometimes sheep.  There were a lot of horses around; people rode them to the hardware store, used the steel loops in the cement to tie the reins, maybe walked across the street to drop a dollar in the slots.  I rode my horse to library once, brought home groceries on my horse, tied her up in front of the federal mint to get cool under the poplars (both the horse and me).  Nobody owned a mule (as I recall), most used tractors (machines), no donkeys either, people preferred pickup trucks and buying gasoline with lead added, didn’t have time to “feed the critters”, too busy “making money” (to buy gasoline and insurance).

In America most (now) associate animals with “the rural life”, “life on the farm”, “life in the country”.  My experience is “city life” with animals, urban life, “modern” life.  Those that profit by selling machines have been “quick” to malign and to banish animals (except for a “pet” or two).  It is machines that are “dirty”, not animals, some people are dirty about their care of machines, some were dirty about their care of animals (that’s all).  It takes an infrastructure to have animals effectively integrated into human life, once that infrastructure is destroyed everything changes.  In most of America it has been the passage of “laws” that have created the poverty of an “animal absent” life in the cities of America, outside of the “zoo prisons” that municipalities seem to often cherish.

So we return to the beginning (of this post).   There is “something wrong” with America, there is something missing.  Animals are missing.  They were rounded up, banished, sent away to die or to be eaten and to never return to a life with humans.  The animals have been replaced with machines, lots of machines, lots of dead machines, dirty and dying for ever more expensive energy and fuel to keep them running and running things.  The modern “cock crowing” is a gasoline mower or a gas blower or the blast of a forced air furnace; grating, discordant, write a poem about the “magic” (moment) of a power mower breaking the dawn of silence.

We all live in the ruins of a failed Empire, an Empire of war and death and machines and dead fuels fueling a dead quest for dead power.  And we live in the ruins of a once sane civilization of life and living beings and a world once (substantially) free of debt and free of worry and free of the sickness and sicknesses that an ill-conceived “machine age” has brought to man (and mankind, women and children too).   There is a border where these two worlds meet; it is a border that runs through every persons life, build it up or tear it down or move away from the border (regions) and embrace your choice.

When given a choice, buy another machine (or don’t).  Use a machine (or don’t if you can).  “Voting machines” don’t vote, except for other machines; but this is not about “political power”, animals can’t (and won’t) vote, they depend upon people for their life and livelihood and what their life “looks like”; it’s not about the farm or “animal farm”, it’s about what is important in life; other life or just more machines.  You decide.

Post Script:
A recent poll suggested that as many as 20% of those over fifty are considering plans to leave America and to live elsewhere, taking most or all their money with them.  Most of the destination cities have chickens running in the streets, donkeys wandering along alleyways, horses or camels or bullocks pulling carts or carriages that are not just novelty rides for tourists.  It’s a beginning, or might be a nice ending to a life largely wasted by a bad beginning (in America, with machines).  All the “car people” will stay (or flock) to America of course, buying gas at $10 per gallon, hiring machines to haul their dead machines home again or to an ever bigger dump.  You will know these people by the size of their debt and by their discontent, living with machines and only their machines; maybe talking to a neighbors car just doesn’t make it anymore.

[2008.03.06 / Thursday – A New Cycle]

The Demise of the El Rey

March 2nd, 2008

~ Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

It was an early morning call, meaning in this case a telephone call.  A neighbor and a friend was calling.  “Do you smell smoke?”, the voice stated, not really a question.  “The El Rey is burning; it’s all over the news.”  Images of boom trucks with FCC call letters on their sides and satellite upfeeds and “pretty” blond girls with microphones as big as a Paris Hilton nighttime fantasy held firmly (or loosely) in their hands, pretty faces for news that is not pretty.  This is sex and the (burning) city, America at its finest (hour), a William F. Buckley “hard on” that might capture the Bull (Bill) Buckley reality (which is not very real) but may be “engaging” (for awhile).  It was “engaging for awhile”, for some, I guess.

Willie Nelson wrote an excellent song (or two, or a hundred), “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys”.  William F. Buckley’s mom failed the boy; W.F. Buckley should have grown up to be a cowboy, Texas ranch, wide open spaces, dusty west-Texas air, longhorn cattle with hides “wanting” branding; no “Yale” to it (or about it).  America might have been better, “sorry” Willie, good advice but to the wrong person, Texas to Texas, Texan to Texan, age to age; “one wore a star, one wore black” (country song about ‘Willie and Billy’, maybe).  One went “east”, one went “west”.  My money was always on Willie.

The smoke billowed up from the 6 AM fire, the dark smoke of old timbers and hot embers burning  unrepentant before the fall of water from hoses and later fire hoses brought in to “fight the fires” of inflation and conflagration and the burning issue of arson in restaurants and eateries that often are located next to old theaters and remodeled theaters that have lost their silver screens if not their shifting seating.  The El Rey was a theater once, built in 1941, “before the war” when Bill Buckley was “sweet sixteen” or something, probably still living in Texas, probably still able to become a cowboy, or still able to “sign-up” with Uncle Sam if not as some “cow hand” with some outfit (of his choice, maybe).

(The album is “Waylon and Willie”, RCA; 25 centavos at the library sale, if you’re “lucky”).  The whole album seems to be about “Buckley” this morning, good Texas name for a cow hand.  Is there even an (old)  photograph of Bill Buckley wearing chaps and a bandanna and a low slung cowboy hat, lariat in his right hand (no book or pen), dust on his furrowed brow, worry on his face, a long trail in his future, work and sore muscles and not just “yachting on the bay”, red wine at the table, white wine and books in the study of his living room?  I think not.  But I hope so.  His money could have “bought that”, a picture worth a thousand words, something “pretty” for his desk (very large), open to anything, and closed to everything (perhaps).

Mark has an older brother (like I do) born about 1939 or something.  His brother saw movies at the El Rey.  10 cents for admission, 5 cents for “car fare”, 10 cents for a new toy after the movie.  A movie costs 100 x that much now, the toy does too.  No “car” can get you to the movie and the toystore and home for a nickel or a dime or a dollar; much less in a reasonable time.  Maybe that’s why Bill went east and went to Yale instead of going west to the shores of Okinawa or Iwo Jima or the staging areas near Manila where they were waiting for the invasion in case the bombs didn’t work and Japan didn’t surrender.  Yale was a “sure bet”, east coast sanctuary from the “west coast” troop transports that were making America “safe” for a “new conservatism” that might defend “Asian Wars” but would never have to fight (in) them.

Take your socks off Bill, loafers for “loafers” without socks, preppy ties, button down shirts by the fifties (fold), an easy going smile hidden beneath an easy going smile; there was a smile on that face (wasn’t there), I was never sure.  His hands were large, good for ropes, roping cattle, not the ropes of yachts and sails and sailing knots, honest ropes thrown out over honest cows with real and honest horns (though a bit too long as the needs of cattle might be).  Someone said he changed his shirts about five times a day, I don’t know, I never did his laundry, he had a wife for that, or sent it out, better laundries in Stamford (Connecticut), which maybe is why he moved from NW Connecticut.

I met William F. Buckley once.  In his home, sitting in his study, a large room overlooking the living room.  It was a summer evening, fireflies in the air, a beautiful garden; I believe that Buckley liked gardening, his heart was in the soil, not just “out to sea”.  Things were different in 1972.  I fought the war in Vietnam (fought against it).  Bill supported the war; just like he had supported segregation (of schools) and McCarthy (and the witch hunts).  He was what gave “conservatism” a bad name and gave Barry Goldwater the “willies” (or do I mean “Willie”?).  He owned the Manchester Guardian then, bought it for a “voice”; some read the paper in Nevada, cowboys who were “conservative” but were still not sure about the “east coast” power elite.  They were never ‘sure’ about Buckley, too much like Rockefeller, no big banks or big business in Nevada that needed defending; just cows and cowboys and a few gamblers with “bright lights” electric bills.

Iwo Jima would have been good for Bill.  Travel expands ones “horizon”.  A “good fight” makes it clear why ones fighting, or why one shouldn’t fight.  I am not sure the El Rey is worth saving (or will be “saved”), smoke and water damage mostly, it was really “next door” that burned, a restaurant or a bar or maybe both or maybe neither; I have never been there, never saw a movie in the El Rey, never really liked Bill Buckley, though I am kind of glad I met him (once), like fireflies on a summers eve, nice to look at, a cheery glow, bright light but nothing really to say (that is worthwhile).  A cowboy learns the value of quietude and being quiet.  Bill Buckley can be a cowboy now, a better dream previously unfilled (perhaps).

“Organic” life brings things together in unexpected ways.  Meeting Bill Buckley on one day on the way to a movie, stopping by his house with “movie loving” friends, not much to do on quiet New England evenings in the country (side).  On the other hand, I don’t know which event of this day I will remember (most); Buckley’s death or the El Rey burning.  Goldwater (earlier post) is dead now, now Buckley; old theaters also die (or just fade away).  Sometimes the cameras are there (news or otherwise), sometimes not, sometimes it’s just juxtaposition and nature and (random) memories with no more meaning than fireflies in the night, flickering wings, a brief pale glow and then they’re gone; not worth noticing or maybe all that is worth noticing.

“I saw fireflies once…”  Goodbye Bill, thank you Willie.  I really hope they save the El Rey.  Tomorrow is another day, and still is “today”.

[2008.02.29 / Friday – The Demise of the ElRey]