Evolution of American Protest

September 25, 2021

(also known as Don’t do this; don’t do that.)

1774:

“Don’t Tread on Me!”   

 Patriot Christopher Gadsden designs a serpentine symbol to depict–and protest–the tyranny of the British king, George III.

DontTread

1863:

Don’t Destroy our Union!

President Abraham Lincoln commemorates the brave sacrifice of soldiers at Gettysburg who gave their lives in the cause of keeping our United States united.

“. . . we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  

       President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg battlefield dedication.

1881: 

Don’t fling me in dat briar patch! 

Southern author Uncle Remus documents the struggle–the desperate plea of B’rer Rabbit as he pleads with B’rer Fox not to inflict a most dreadful fate. 

  “Do anything you want with me – roas’ me, hang me, skin me, drown me – but please, Br’er Fox, don’t fling me in dat brier-patch”

    B’rer Rabbit, as reported by Uncle Remus, later consecrated as classic myth by Walt Disney’s crew of cartoonists.

1920-1930:

Don’t take away our booze!  George Cassiday 

1953:

Don’t mess with my blue jeans!  Marlon Brando

1955:

Don’t mess with my blue jeans.   James Dean

1956:

Don’t Step on My Blue Suede Shoes” 

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uke1B0FpIZ8    Elvis Presley

1969:

Don’t you know its gonna be all right.”  John Lennon

“You say you want a revolution; well you know, we all wanta change the world. You tell me that it’s evolution; well you know, we’d all love to change the world; but when you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out. Don’t you know it’s gonna be allright!

1972:

Don’t mess around with Slim.”  Jim Croce

“You don’t Tug on Superman’s cape
 You don’t spit into the wind
 You don’t pull the mask off that ole Lone Ranger, and
 You don’t mess around with Slim”

2000:

Don’t mess with my jeans! 

Jeans

2021:

Don’t mess with my genes!  

DontVax

Glass Chimera

That is the Question

September 20, 2021

To be, or not to be, that is the question:

to be a law-abiding citizen of our USA,

or a rebel at the Capitol insurrection?

to be constructively active in our American way,

or to wreck our Capitol on a trumped-up suggestion?

To do, by riot, what ought not to be done?

No! let them do the right thing and repair our Union!

To assault our Capitol in another riotous run?

No! but by orderly governance cast out the confusion!

So on August 18 the trumpers didn’t come

for another riotous Capitol run.

Selah.

Capitol

Glass half-Full

The Nucleotides of Life

September 14, 2021

The story I wrote about genetic engineering and buried treasure in New Orleans is found in Glass Chimera, which I published in 2008.

GlassChpic

In the novel, Robby Davis is student of microbiology at Theseus University in the year 2000, four years after Dolly the sheep had been cloned in Scotland. Under the tutelage of Dr. William Theseus, Robby is studying DNA, and the nucleotides of which its double-helix strand is composed.

Robby has also recently developed a fascination with a certain young lady, Rosa. On one particular evening, Robby and Rosa are strolling along on the levee in New Orleans. Here’s the scene in chapter 12 of Glass Chimera

            “Life is incredibly complicated,” said Rosa as she watched, across the river, the West Bank shimmering from daytime browns and grays into nightly jeweled darkness. Then she turned, looked at her new friend.  Reflections from the cityscape were like sparks in her eyes. A breeze whispered.

            Ever the dork, Robby downshifted his own musings into a credible follow-up: “You know how complex a computer is?” It was half question, half answer.

            “Yes.” 

            “As incredible as it all is—what people can do with computers—its all based on memory systems of only two characters: zero and one.”

            “Uh-huh. They make up bits and bytes.” She pulled the band off her pony-tailed hair, and it cascaded gloriously upon her shoulders.

            “As seemingly infinite as all those combinations are, based on only two characters—the composition of the biological world is based on four characters.”

            “Oh yeah?”

            “Yeah.  G, A, T, and C.”

            “The T is thymine.  I remember that one.”

            “Thymine, cytosine, guanine, and adenine: building blocks of DNA. So, while artificial intelligence is constructed upon a base of two, original  intelligence of the natural world is built upon a base of four.”

            “As if the possibilities of a two-based system were not great enough to do everything that needed doing.”

            “Yeah. Whatever multiplicity of permutations can be assembled, or even conceived, with the two-base system is then squared and cubed exponentially by the expansion into a system built upon four.  It’s mind-blowing, isn’t it?”

            “Like I said, life is complicated, . .”

Glass half-Full

The Mournful Sound

September 12, 2021

An Attack of Volcanic proportions Erupted through New York City skyline 

The two-jet Assault inflicted a Crash of Earthquake proportions, which collapsed the World Trade Center into a heap of smoking rubble: the deadliest 911 emergency in American history, on the morning of September 11, 2001, a day that lives in infamy.

9/11

More than 3000 dead.

But our dreadfully mournful sound goes back much further in time.

We had more than 2400 dead at the Pearl Harbor attack 60 years earlier, December 7, 1941, a remembered date that has persisted in infamy. The mournful sound on that day arrived as  whining engines of Japanese dive bombers. 

One appropriate way to ponder the tragedy of such immense death-events is to listen to the  sound of tragedy, as it has been rendered to music. On this 20th 9/11, I recommend Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, as performed by the Detroit Symphony:

Barber Adagio

Another military attack comes to my mind when considering the panorama of tragedy in this country’s history.

On June 25, 1879, our 7th Cavalry, commanded by General George Custer, attacked Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho people in the battle of Little Big Horn, which was fought in Montana, June 25-26, 1879.  700 American soldiers died. The death toll among the victimized natives is not known.

Something

In that tragic battle, we white-privileged attackers were the aggressors.

44 years ago, this was the  mournful sound that I composed while pondering that tragedy:   

Sitting Bull’s Eyes     ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u71LxQ4YDb0)

Smoke

The Manipulation of Dissent

September 6, 2021

Stalinist Russia’s oppressive control of eastern Europe lasted for about forty-five years. The Czech and Slavak dissent that ultimately succeeded in driving the Soviets out of their region was a long, clandestine groundswell of popular discontent.

After the peaceful Velvet Revolution of 1989, a prime motivator and spokesman in that freedom movement, Vaclav Havel, was elected President of the first post-communist Republic of Czechoslavakia, A few years later, the new nation split into two separate republics.

From 1975 to 1986, Czech writer Karel Hviždala conducted an ongoing clandestine autobiographical interview with Vaclav Havel, who was already an internationally recognized playwright. 

Their interview was later published in a book, Disturbing the Peace,  by Alfred A. Knopf in 1990.

The contents of that periodic exchange between two dissident Czechs provides  profound insight into the interaction—sometimes constructive, sometimes confrontational— of conservative and activist resistance factions under the weight of a repressive regime.

But strangely, the internal strategic disagreements between those Czech groups reminded me of recent disagreements in our American cultural and political scenario.

Vaclav Havel describes the conditions that would be required, as stated by a certain bureaucrat, to allow a compromise between dissidents and the Party bureaucracy. This dispute was regarding a confrontation that came up in 1965. 

Havel explains the situation this way:

 “ . . . we (dissidents)  (would be required) to come out and say exactly what we were. But such a thing can only be suggested by someone who subscribes to an ideology and believes that anyone who doesn’t subscribe to it must therefore subscribe to another ideology, because he can’t imagine anyone not subscribing to an ideology.”

So the bureaucrat’s proposal was more about identity politics  than about the actual issues that the discontented Czechs were trying raise.

This description of communist politics in 1965 seemed, to me, eerily similar to our present American political and cultural skirmishes. Nowadays in the land of the free and home of the brave, you have to declare yourself one identity or the other. There is no more in-between.

No more middle in America. According to our 2021 way of practicing politics, you’re either a socialist democrat or a trump republican. 

Hus3

I don’t like it one bit.

Glass Chimera

Up on Cloud Nine

September 3, 2021

Somewhere back there in time . . . I think it was long about ’67 or so, I went to The Who? concert in my hometown. Right in the middle of the event, as they were singing raucously about the existential crisis of growing up in my g-generation, suddenly Pete Townshend’s up there swinging his guitar around like an axe, tearing up amplifiers and microphones and actually wrecking the whole stage.

It felt like a wild dream. Maybe the ’60’s were a dream; I don’t know. As to whether they were a good dream or a bad one, I guess it would depend on whether you had to go to Vietnam, or not.

This Who memory returned to me yesterday, along with a host of other old episodes, drug up from the vaults of time. 

A few days ago, my friend Fred loaned me a book, Richard Perry’s autobiography, Cloud Nine, about his life and his many years producing records with famous and and infamous rock stars.

There was no mention, so far, in his book of the Who’s infamous in-concert destruction, but the trail of memories that Richard retrieves from those halcyon days is quite a trip, if you catch my drift.

After putting the book down for a few minutes, with my mind full of those old rock memories, I felt like Guy Noire, pondering life’s persistent questions. 

Questions like . . . who the heck was Billy Shears?

Well gollee, y’all. Richard Perry answers that question in his book! 

Cloud1

So I was reading Cloud Nine while whizzing through a cloud at 30,000 ft. This musically trained kid in Brooklyn had, during the course of his lifetime, finagled his groove through Brooklyn and Detroit, Los Angeles and beyond, into a high-flying career, the recollection of which makes for some interesting reading.

The guy started his career before Elvis even  had a hound dog. Through his retelling of those long-gone days, I learned who was responsible for naming the new musical trend,  rock ’n roll. . . where the new vibes had originated (Cleveland) and the DJ guy who coined the phrase that Freed our g-generation to go hog wild with the twist and the frug, the watusi and the whatsittoya, instead of us being confined to the ancient foxtrot.

It pays to read books, y’all! You can learn stuff from them.

This world is about much more than what’s gleaming at you through online pixels and phony phone spells.

Remember my  prediction here, kids. There will come a day when you discover that ancient manuscript, the Book!

Richard’s book turned me on to the backstories of Dave Brubeck changing the world with 5/4 time, how Streisand got her groove back when she came to a stony end, how Fats Domino made a comeback, the struggle that Nilsson had with his quest for love, which is tragic but I guess that’s just the way the story goes.

And there are so many stories out there, y’all!

In the mists of Cloud Nine we catch backstory glimpses of a half-century of grooves and boob-tube whooswhos . . . we hop on an irregular  magical mystery tour, including the behind the scenes breakups, shakeups and wakes of that Act you’ve known for all these years and . . .  who the heck is Billy Shears?

But seriously, so much happened back in the 20th-century and you may remember a lot of it with a little help from your friends. 

We might even all get up and dance to a tune that was a hit before your mother was born, though she was born a long, long time ago.

If y’all catch some ole rock ’n roll memory trails,  you  can thank Alan Freed for rock ’n roll, and before him there was Bo and Satchmo, Fats, BB, Chuck, Sam Cooke   and Dave and  Barbra and even Ed Sullivan and the act you’ve known for all these years, along with the lovable Billy Shears!

So go read a book! Learn some stuff.

Any book.

King of Soul

Vaclav Havel’s Advice

August 28, 2021

A world war began in 1939 when Adolf Hitler sent his nazi fascist war machine across the Czech/German border. That firestorm of destructive militarism flamed for six years before Allied armies drove the damn nazis out.

In 1945, the Russian Soviets occupied most of eastern Europe when Allied troops drove the nazis of Germany and the fascists of Italy back into their holes.

That Czech nation where World War II had first erupted was occupied during the wars’ conclusion by the Soviet army. The Russian Soviets established their oppressive communist regime in Czech lands and the adjoining land of Slavakia, as they did throughout the entirety of eastern Europe.

In 1968, the Soviets extinguished a nascent democratic liberation movement in the Czech lands when they sent military tanks into Prague to forcefully show the Czechs who was in charge. It was a bloody frickin’ mess when the Russian militarists squelched Czech rebellion at that time.

But in 1989, the 50-year military oppression of the Czech and Slavakia lands was concluded when a popular groundswell of peaceful protest persuaded the Soviet communist regime to withdraw back to Russia. With nary a shot fired, that so-called Velvet Revolution returned the Czech lands and Slavakia to their own people.

Wenc'89

The success of that peaceful revolution became manifest largely through the peacefully effective leadership of one gifted man, Vaclav Havel.

In his 1997 book, The Art of the Impossible, Vaclav published a collection of speeches that he had delivered in the early ’90’s when he was serving as the President of  a free, democratic Czech nation.

Reading his speeches, you will find: In 1992, serving as President of the Czech Republic,  Havel delivered a message to the World Economic Forum in which he explained our changing world in this way:

“The fall of communism can be regarded as a sign that modern thought—based on the premise that the world is objectively knowable, and that the knowledge so obtained can be absolutely generalized—has come to a crisis. This era has created the first global, or planetary, technical civilization, but it has reached the limit of its potential, the point beyond which the abyss begins. I think the end of communism is a serious warning to all mankind. It is a signal that the era of arrogant, absolutist reason is drawing to a close, and that it is high time to draw conclusions from the fact.

“Communism was not defeated by military force, but by life, by the human spirit, by conscience, by the resistance of Being, and man, to manipulation. It was defeated by a revolt of color, authenticity, history in all its variety, and human individuality against imprisonment within a uniform ideology.”

And I would add . . . oppression is defeated by a rejection of any uniformed jihad.

And one more thing . . . oppression is  defeated with a peaceful conversion away from of our hyper-capitalistic  transformation of this planet into a trash heap. 

Glass half-Full

From Prague to Helsinki

August 24, 2021

About five years ago, Pat and I visited Prague, Czech Republic. Walking around in that historic Bohemian city was a fascinating experience. 

In Wenceslaus Square, a tour guide talked glowingly about Vaclav Havel, a pioneer for Czech freedom(1977-89) and later, their first post-Soviet President in 1990. Vaclav Havel had addressed a huge crowd of Czech citizens from a balcony there, in Wenceslaus Square. That crowd-gathering event culminated in the historically peaceful “Velvet Revolution,” which ultimately brought democratic liberation that drove out Soviet communist domination.

Here’s an explanation of how the Czech people peacefully apprehended their nation away from the Soviets. This plaque was posted in a Prague museum display that depicted what life was like for Czechs and Slovaks in the pre-liberation communist eastern Europe.

VelvetRev

This summer, I am reading a collection of speeches that Vaclav Havel–playwright/President had delivered, over the course of his latter-20th-century lifetime, to his fellow Czechs, and to other Europeans and to many gatherings of world leaders and avid listeners around the world. 

I was reading, In his speech-laden memoir, The Art of the Impossible,  a message he had delivered to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in 1990. The speech was delivered less than a year after the Czechs and their like-minded eastern-European brethren had sent the Soviets packin’, back to their Soviet digs in Moscow.

As years had passed in post-Soviet eastern Europe, Vaclav Havel became a leader of international reknown, and rightfully so. Leading his Czech fellow-citizens as the first post-Soviet elected President of Czechoslovakia, Havel offered a unifying suggestion to his fellow-European heads-of-state.

At the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, May 1990, the bold Czech President spoke highly of  The Helsinki Accords, a treaty which and been agreed upon in 1975. He told them it would be an appropriate unifying framework into which the Czechs, the Slovaks, Hungarians, Poles and other post-Soviet eastern European nations could enter into a security agreement with the other European nation-states.

President Havel emphasized the principles of unity and security that could be actuated and strengthened using the Helsinki Accords as a basis.

As I was reading his message a few nights ago, the mention of Helsinki in this collection of  Vaclav Havel’s liberating orations reminded me of a recent connection that I have made to that far-north capital city, Helsinki. 

Helsinki is the home base of Anssi Lihtonen, a podcaster with whom I recently communicated online, as I provided musical content and conversation for his musical survey radio show.

Anssi, domiciled way up north there on the south coast of Finland, listens to music  that has come to ears from different parts of the world. When he finds music that meets his high listening standards, he communicates with the musicians, interviews them, and features their music on his “radio” (whatever that means nowadays) show up there in the far north and throughout the world wide web.

So, a couple of nights ago, when I was reading Vaclav Havel’s high opinion of the Helsinki Accords, I thought of my one and only online Helsinki friend, Anssi. 

And I thought perhaps you might want to hear what he and I talked about during our “radio” show conversation on the wwweb Cosmic Turtle show.

Check it out: Cosmic Turtle

https://idaidaida.net/episodes/cosmic-turtle-2021-07-05

Turtle

Glass Chimera

Thank TSA no more 911s

August 20, 2021

How do you feel when you’re required to take your stuff and shove it?

Are you inconvenienced—maybe even offended— when you have to shove your carry-on luggage and your other stuff, the ever-present cellphone, maybe even your shoes and belt . . . through that hi-tech TSA tunnel at the airport?

But hey, think about it this way: No Worries!

That’s right. No worries. Because of our Transportation Safety Administration doing their jobs so dutifully every hour of every day in every airport of this nation, we don’t need to be concerned about:

Another 9/11 terrorist attack!

We don’t need to worry that maybe we’re traipsing aboard a replay of United 93; we know we’re not going to be wrestling terrorists with box-cutters at 30,000 feet over Pennsylvania.

We resent those zealous TSA attendants, but we ought to be giving them a standing ovation.

We have not had another 9/11!

Instead of frowning at those people, we should thank them every time we go through there.

No more 9/11s!

All of that TSA security that drags us into tedious searches on the way to fly the friendly skies—it works! We are effectively being protected by our people on the front lines of American safety.

And let us not forget when and why all this airport security was put into place by our government.

The TSA was established so that we would not have skyscrapers burning and crumbling in full sight while the nation and the world watch in horror.

An let us not forget a few other details about that entire post-9/11 security ramp-up that brought the TSA.

When the TSA was established, we did not yet understand where the Al qaida threat was coming from.

Later, when our intelligence people traced the hijackers back to their Arabian connections and their Afghanistan hideouts, we took measures to prevent those criminals from ever pulling such a deadly disastrous stunt again.

And it worked. 

Furthermore, when we  moved our troops into Afghanistan, shortly after 9/11, we tracked down the terrorists and put a stop to their destructive plans to destroy our American peace and security.

We even executed the ring leader, Osama bin laden.

The result is, we now have a safer America, a safer world, and our mission in Afghanistan has proven successful. 

Now it’s time to get out of there.

Because the possibility of another 9/11 is next to 0, thanks to our guys and gals who tracked down the Al qaida criminals; thanks to our TSA people who work unceasingly around the clock to keep us safe as we fly the friendly skies. . .

TSA

Our friendly, protected skies. 

No more 9/11s.

No more need to hunt down terrorists in Afghan hideouts!

No more need for American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Thanks to all the uniformed men and women who protect us in places all around this dangerous world.

TSA has got this thing now.

Thank you, TSA!

Glass half-Full

It Is No Easy Task

August 16, 2021

What Americans need to understand about our withdrawal from Afghanistan is that there never was any easy way out.

Two Presidents ahead of him decided not to take the risk—not to take the political hit of withdrawing our troops. 

Joe decided it had to be done; he decided to take the risk.

Now he’s taking the political hit. 

There never was any easy way out. 

President Biden’s decision is an act of courage. 

And our guys and gals over there are on a mission that had to be undertaken. 

The Russians and the Brits preceded us in trying to get that country fixed.  

We need to shore up our own defenses on the home front to prevent another 9/11.

Those American citizens who support the President’s decision ought to be glad that he does not have a Watergate noose around his Presidential neck, as Nixon had in his post-Vietnam withdrawal in 1973. 

The trauma of Vietnam and Watergate was too much for this nation to take, so we allowed our Congress and Court to boot Nixon out.

But Joe does not have a watergate skeleton in his closet; so we need to get behind him, supporting him and our troops and our diplomats who are desperately working to rectify the tragic path of this foreign venture.

God bless America, land that we love!

Glass half-Full