Remember the logo at the end of Looney Tunes cartoons? Concentric orange-red rings with Porky Pig at the center stuttering “tha tha tha that’s all folks!” That was on the cover of the French philosophy magazine I get each month. In the place of Porky Pig, the Statue of Liberty. Below the closing statement “That’s all folks!” is the statement De La Fin De La Démocratie En Amerique (The End of Democracy in America). Wow. A lot of us have been aware of the death of democracy – or at least some hollow, phantasmal semblance of it pushed and propagandized by the media and history textbooks – for at least the last 20 years – but to find this acknowledgement from an overseas European country is stunning. Downtown Seattle looks like a war zone. Tent cities, graffitied buildings, boarded up windows. I’m a crusty, cynical, misanthropic septuagenarian and I’m still shocked by the rapidity of our decline. Not to mention the deep sadness and tragedy of it all. The magnitude of suffering. Nancy Pelosi getting all huffy-puffy and red-faced and indignant because Wolf Blitzer, of all people, persisted in asking her why she was holding up the stimulus bill that had been offered when so many people are suffering. That segment had volumes to say about classicism in America. It wasn’t so long ago she sat in front of her $24,000 refrigerator bragging about all the ice cream she has. Good God. Meanwhile, Trump has wasted no time going around spreading coronavirus to his loyal fans. If you were to ask me for an image that best illustrates our predicament, I’d say The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
I love the sound of rain in summer and early fall when there’s still enough leaves on the trees to make the rain audible. There’s something really rich about that sound, fertile and quiescent. It’s soothing. Thuds and crashes from the kitchen above our bedroom put an end to the reign of the rain. I don earphones and watch the French news on my laptop, stories about Prince and the subterranean vault containing tons of his music in his palace in Minneapolis and the woman who has been curating it, the melting of the tundra in the Arctic, a man rising out of a deep crevasse where the earth has sunk due to the melting of the permafrost carrying the huge bone of a prehistoric rhinoceros, the exhaustion of nurses due to the coronavirus picking up speed again, a woman deeply moved when she meets the gendarme that saved her during the floods last week in the Alpes-Maritime department. Next day, 7:40 p.m. October 12th, I conclude a bout of proofreading by watching Stevie Ray Vaughn perform “Texas Flood” live at the El Macombo, July 20th, 1983. The El Macombo, turns out, is in Toronto, Ontario. This is the same place where the Stones put on a surprise show in 1977, the one where Margaret Trudeau (mother to current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) was observed partying with the stones, somewhat to the embarrassment of then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. She’s been a busy woman since then. In 2010 she authored Changing My Mind, a book about her personal experience with bipolar disorder, and in 2014 she visited Mali as an ambassador of WaterAid Canada. The French humanitarian Sophie Petronin arrived in Bomako, Mali, in a white flowing traditional dress after her release from Islamic extremists (strange word, ‘extremist’) last Friday, October 8th, 2020. She’d been helping orphans and other children suffering from malnutrition in the northern city of Gao when she’d been abducted on Christmas Eve, 2016. I watch Gabor Maté give a talk for the Bioneers on YouTube. He talks about the importance of treating disease holistically, taking in all the factors impending on a life, nurturing a life, poisoning a life, inducing a life, indoctrinating a life, soothing a life, including a life, abusing a life, excluding a life, grooming a life, dooming a life, bejeweling diffusing ballooning approving a life. The water we drink, the food we eat, certainly, but also vibes, emotions, including the emotions of our mothers when we were in the womb, it goes that deep, that broad, that far. And how alienated we’ve become. Alienated from nature, alienated from ourselves, perverted by false values, the stresses of a materialistic, competitive culture. Instabilities and uncertainties pumping our systems and internal organs with stress hormones, cortisol and adrenalin. This is followed by Kurt Cobain’s heartrending, shattering version of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” on MTV’s unplugged series in 1993. “My girl, my girl, don't lie to me / Tell me where did you sleep last night / In the pines, in the pines / Where the sun don't ever shine / I would shiver the whole night through.”
Monday, October 12, 2020
Friday, October 9, 2020
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
R left this morning to get some unsalted peanuts and a new scooper for our litter box at PetCo, then a flu shot and some groceries at Safeway. I returned to watching the Jimmy Dore Show on YouTube. She returned minutes later. Our left rear tire was flat. Again. This tire has been patched not quite a year ago. We called AAA and a truck arrived within a half hour. AAA is an amazing service. They always arrive in a timely fashion, even when they’re busy and the city is teeming with automotive mishaps, and get you back on the road in an embarrassingly short amount of time. AAA roadside assistance drivers are automotive wizards. The AAA driver changed the tire and discovered a big fat nail stuck in it. We speculated on where we might’ve driven over a nail in the road. The most likely culprit is a home remodeling project up the street, at the steep part of Bigelow where the road crests. It’s a bit dangerous there, the western sun in your eyes, people driving fast over the hill on the downside, people rocketing up. It’s amazing there aren’t more collisions there. This is where various workers, electricians, plumbers, glaziers and carpenters have been parking their trucks, half on the sidewalk, half off, creating yet more hazard. It’s also messy, bits of wood and glass and plaster strewn about. The nail might’ve fallen off of a truck. There are lots of remodeling projects and building construction in our neighborhood. Home expansion and remodeling has been going at fever pitch for the last few years. The intensity seems to increase with every catastrophe, the latest being Trump’s testing positive for Covid. We drove out to Carter Subaru on Aurora to get the tire patched. They’ve got a nice waiting room there. We found a desk with several stools and I got out my French edition of Les Chants de Maldoror, a New Directions English translation and a French dictionary. R brought Revenge of the Lawn, a collection of short stories by Richard Brautigan. It’s a nice waiting room, spacious, everyone wearing a mask. It was quiet as a library. Two women with a big white poodle sat together, the poodle ‘s forelegs on one of the women’s lap as she caressed and petted him and he returned the affection with a big wet tongue. A middle-aged rather rugged looking man with a beard did paperwork at a small table. Another bearded man sat in an armchair reading a book. There was a TV on, but it was close captioned with the sound off. I wish they did this at the airport, where the TVs are ubiquitous. I wonder if we’ll go to the airport again. The pandemic feels endless. It keeps getting worse. And yet they’ve opened the fitness gyms. That’s insane. We prefer to exercise outside, where we’ve been able to work out a new running trail with fewer people to dodge. It was disappointing not to go for our usual run and feed the crows and scrub jays. It was a beautiful sunny day, uncharacteristically warm for early October. A warranty covered the tire repair, which helped take some of the sting out. We stopped at PetCo on the way back, got three big bags of unsalted peanuts and some canned cat food, and returned home. Hot dogs and three-bean salad for dinner, we watched people in the mountain villages of the Alpes-Maritime department in the south of France dig themselves out of the mud left when the rivers were engorged by three months of rain in ten hours, swelling over the banks and collapsing houses and tossing cars like dice. A man used a bow to shoot a rope across a river to use as a line to deliver food and other items to the villagers still trapped on the other shore.