Nostalgia and Newspapers and Me

Right now and for the last couple of months I have been feeling my way into a new part-time job which is not so new because I did it seriously for a good number of years but is very new because I have been out of it for a greater number of years and things have changed over time. But although, buying new tires, trying to make adjustments to keep work afloat at a logistical level and other transitions have made this as lean a time as any before — I am GRATEFUL FOR THE WORK I HAVE GOTTEN.  If am still working at this job in August then I will post it publicly on some of my blogs and social media sites. But it is not a job with lots of guarantees and I am also coming from a place where it would be foolish for me to take anything for granted. There have been many blessed and happy times in recent decades but what there has not been is a path I felt I could walk forward on into the future. But I still hope for it. I hope for it partly because I remember feeling that there was a path forward. Having felt that way once I can manage to hope to feel that way again. But it’s not a very strong hope.


Recently, I had occasion to look through some online archives — which I often do for research but this time with myself as the object and I am adding some of the clippings to this blog that I have been neglecting. I hope that they give a bit of a feel for the past for which I am sometimes nostalgic — but only a sliver of that past and that nostalgia.

Today, I am not posting clips from the vermilion, Straight Street, Bonnes Nouvelles or the Daily Advertiser where I regularly wrote and was written about at various times.  That will be for some other time to come or not to come.  I am posting a few clippings from the Abbeville Meridional  online archives in this post in my blog in a single run together montage below. They are just a relatively small portion of the things written by me and about me in that paper from the 1980s and the 2000s.  Also some badly reproduced pictures of me and by me accompany these articles. I have done a lot of work around here in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana and a good bit of it has been in the public eye to some degree or other but I have not had a career which led to feeling that I have a foothold from which to project a future path. In fact quite the opposite.  I am always teetering on the edge of not making my minimal obligations no matter how much those are restricted and I am feeling pretty tired when I look back at the large investments of time which have produced no value for me at all, or at least too little to really matter much.  But the truth is that I still want to believe that all the bad things over my shoulder and obstacle in my path are the lesser story and that there will be tomorrow brighter than today — most people want that.

 

 

This is a weekend a bit like and a bit unlike many others It’s 10:08 on Saturday and I am at the public library using the public access computer and realizing that I am short on time, energy and money to accomplish everything that I would like to accomplish. I am also aware of larger trends of challenges and even some joys across the board of life. But at  the back of every life the actual challenges, regrets and obstacle are different — so are the ways that we find hope. I am a Christian and although I do a poor job of modeling Christian hope I do in fact derive hope from my Christian faith and its object. Also I realize that lots of people as good as are better than I am in many ways have challenges and limitation just as great as mine.  But I do feel that  few people  if any have a mix of challenges that closely resembles mine. I have memories of being able to talk to more people more openly about more of my life than I can today although I was never the most open and connected person I know. This blog post is still full of generalities and obfuscation — which I dislike in writing and speech.  I have always needed the occasional biggish break to make my way compared to people who get by on the fruit of well laid plans and such breaks have become more rare.

One thing I realize is that I have made lots of choices and choices have consequences. That does not mean that I believe every outcome of every choice is fair and predetermined. But I do believe that I have had the chance to make a great number of choices — more than most people and perhaps more that my share.  Every freelance article, every school I enrolled in over the age of 18, my only marriage, my handful of serious romantic relationships, the property I bought and sold, the business and occupational licenses I worked to acquire and had to let  lapse — are all more choices than some ever have. I have done a lot of unrequited good and also remained relatively unpunished for some bad deeds. I have lost on reasonable risks backed by hard work and been cheated but I have been spared penalties I deserved as well.  Breaks in the sense I mentioned earlier are simply the presentation of more capacities and opportunities to choose. It may mean very bad outcomes for me — but I can hardly complain if my run of choices and breaks is getting near the end.  But today I am nostalgic and toying with hope — and am aware of all the ways that I am not really on top of the present. But mostly missing the youthful vigor that did not need to be on top of things to bring a full array of energy to meet the day’s challenges.

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The Gulf South History And Humanities Conference 2017

This year my academic paper was about the Huey Long assassination. I discussed its link to Acadian history and culture and that will be further discussed below.  But this was connected to a previous event. Last year I presented at the Gulf South History and Humanities Conference and blogged about it here and here . I also tied it into other posts and pages I am not likely to do as much this year. A key article from my research should appear at this link. Evangeline Girls Abbeville Progress August 2, 1930

The trip was more pressed for time and energy this year and I came back tired to continue trying to make a go of a new job. But it was worthwhile. I was beset with more logistical difficulties than usual but  there was paper presented which I thought was worthwhile.  Many of the pictures here in this post are from the Evangeline girls Collection at the Acadian Museum. Or they are from the Dudley Leblanc exhibit at the same museum. But the most relevant documents have not reproduced for this format in the limited time that I have had to devote to thispost.

I presented again at the Gulf South History and Humanities Conference. This year it was held in the Pensacola ,Florida area in the city of Pensacola Beach at the Pensacola Beach Hilton. It was held on October 5,6 and 7.  I traveled down and back with Warren Perrin of the Acadian Museum and he and Cristine Broussard of Steven F. Austin State University were my fellow  presenters in a session titled Acadian History and Culture.
We had an early morning slot and attendance was down at my session and some others compared to last year. Partly this was due to Hurricane Nate’s threatening presence. This storm caused many people to shorten there stay at the conference. My thanks to Dr. Brian Rucker and Pensacola State College for hosting the event this year. I took no pictures of the Conference trip this year.


An excerpt of my paper appears below. I may choose to blog more about this event later

Blood​ ​Feud:​ ​Acadian​ ​Ethnicity​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Killing​ ​of​ ​Huey​ ​P.​ ​Long.​ ​Why​ ​Mic​ ​Mac​ ​genes​ ​and
arrogance​ ​killed​ ​the​ ​Kingfish​.

The argument of this paper is spelled out in numbered bullet points below. I will announce those bullet points by speaking a number before each point after hearing that the rest of the speech is fairly optional. Depending on how much time I have for any questions I can ramble along with some uncertainty of memory about a great number of points and materials. But before I begin this speech I wish to acknowledge the work of T. Harry Williams who wrote what will always be the definitive work on Huey Pierce Long and of Davis H. Zinman who wrote The Day​ ​Huey​ ​Long​ ​Was​ ​Shot,​ ​September​ ​8,1935.​ While I bring a different perspective to this work and have in that perspective a certain inevitable critique of those works — I do not directly contradict a great deal of what they do say. Nor does this paper purport to recast all measures of the importance of Huey Long or his place in history. Nonetheless my style is at time contentious and so I make the contentions openly in the argument. So here are the bullet points:
1. No history has been written of Longism which takes Acadian history very seriously or
frankly is rooted in a very deep and professional knowledge of Acadian history and
culture and so for that very real reason and others less flattering to our profession on the
same lines the importance of Dudley Leblanc in understanding the Long phenomenon
and his death have never been given fair treatment or scrutiny. This paper seeks to
correct that as regards his death.
2. Huey Long was killed by Dr. Carl Austin Weiss one of the most skilled physicians in the
state of Louisiana and the South shot Huey Long because he accused his father-in-law
and therefore his wife and children of being of Negro descent. Weiss is of course not an
Acadian name per se and neither are Summers or Perrin (the name of my colleague in
this session — though not in this paper. But Weiss was deeply connected to the Acadian
community. Most importantly, he is connected in the way which is at the very heart of his
assassination of Huey P. Long.
3. it is not much known that his wife Yvonne Pavy had been an Evangeline Girl a part of
Dudley Leblanc’s retinue which involved certification of both Acadian ancestry and
appearance by the Association of Louisiana Acadians. The Evangeline Girls had a
history going back to the Longfellow-Evangeline State Park they were symbols of the
Acadian culture and people and appeared also always in a political context of some kind
with state and national leaders as symbols of Acadian culture and the Acadian people in
national political conventions for example.However, the zenith of their function was in a
set of pilgrimages of reunion made to old Acadie (or Nova Scotia) by Acadians with the
President of the Association of Louisiana Acadians Dudley Leblanc. Arguably the most
important of these pilgrimages was the first made for an anniversary of the publication of
Longfellow’s Evangeline. Yvonne Pavy, later Yvonne Pavy Weiss was one of the young
women to represent the region — she was a college graduate and a French Teacher and
her father was the prominent Leblanc supporter and Long opponent Benjamin Pavy.
4. The long-standing political feud between Leblanc and Long as well as a whole historic
narrative is epitomized in this crisis. But that larger narrative of struggle is important both
men were much bigger than state politics, both had followings across the nation and the
world. Both symbolized a response to issues that galvanized many people who could not
vote for them in any office they ever held. There was a long history of direct antipathy
and Long had used crippling physical violence against Leblanc supporters on a number
of occasions. Benjamin Pavy was among Leblanc’s most important supporters in this
struggle.
5. Race was not an issue that either man could or did ignore. Both Long and Dudley
Leblanc wrote and spoke about race. In his advocacy and defense of the Acadian
people’s importance and cultural and historic significance Dudley Leblanc did not shy
away from dealing with racial prejudices which had existed in the old Acadie because as
new arrivals came in they found that the Acadians had intermarried and interbred with
the MicMacs.
6. Finally, it was virtually inevitable that Dr. Weiss would try to kill Huey P. Long when he married into the Pavy family and the blood accusations were made which impinged on his reputation. In fact Weiss acted out of a sensibility and cultural framework deeply tied to Leblanc -ism. That is a term not actually ever used unlike Longism. His killing of
American Dictator Huey P. Long was an act of political and cultural resistance to a kind
of ruthless identity genocide as well as being a personal act. Without understanding the
context in which he lived one cannot understand the context in which he died. Nor can
one understand the significance fully of the man he killed.
So, I will not go through these points in perfect order but those are the points that I will try to touch upon ….

Hurricane Harvey, the Eclipse and Other Events

One wonderful thing that has happened to me is the birth of my niece Esme Rose Granger to my sister Sarah and her husband Kevin.  That little child is a wonder and a wonderful addition to the family and I pray that she will be healthy and safely see her life develop and blossom in all the best ways. But I know that regardless she is born into a loving nuclear family and extended family too. It was a joy to meet and hold her. Her mother assured me that it was the easiest delivery of the seven children she has brought into the world. But as difficult as childbirth must be the challenges of parenting only begin there. The whole family is in my thoughts and prayers.

I am very aware of wonders right now although I do not feel as wondrous as I would like to feel.  Esme has been a wonder as all children are and in special ways as well. The eclipse that passed over North America was another wonder, it was not at its full glory here but was still impressive to me.  The fury of Hurricane Harvey largely passed me by although I have spent a lot of sweat and time cleaning up from the storm. There was little flooding and less damage than expected and I did not spend much time photographing the effects that were near to me.

In this part of the United States of America we had a 78 percent eclipse of the sun at maximum. It produced some very interesting effects but not so much up in the sky as down on the ground. The shadows between leaves under trees produced a panoply of blazing crescents amid the shade such as is never seen at other times. Each once produced by a sunbeam with a moon shadow built in. Those are the pictures here.

 

 

There has been a lot going on around me since my last post and this will do little justice to the whole picture and timeline of those events..

For details on Hurricane  Harvey coverage look at the stories linked in this post such as the ones  here and here.  For a map of what the federal government is doing see this link and this one. For places to donate funds link here and here  and here. Although my click through rate for this blog is low I feel that his discharges my duty  as a blogger for now.  For me other  than raising and lowering furniture, cleaning up debris and staying in touch with a few people I care about in the affected zones there is not much to say or write just now. and not many  pictures to support whatever I would blog.

I am just checking in for now and hoping for better things to discuss in my life soon.

The Trump Administration and My Politics

I read Tsun Tzu, the ancient military strategist from China’s Imperial past long before I lived in China. I have blogged about him before. I wrote about Mao’s reliance on Sun Tzu when I was  writing one of the seminal posts in this blog. China was very fresh in my mind in those days. One thing that has changed since that early post is that I have since managed to read through Mein Kampf and some other books by the founding and influential Nazis. But they are not at the center of this discussion.

Perhaps the best literary quality of what might be called successful political manifestos and plans for cultural change would Saint Augustine’s City of God and the collaborative Federalist Papers of America’s founders Jay, Hamilton and especially Madison. Not so long ago in the East, Chairman Mao Zhe Dong actually produced a book of some literary interest — the once ubiquitous Little Red Book was a sort of mutlipurpose book which was a reworking of Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” , Mao’s own art of war which any cultural conservative with his resume would have to produce having had his experiences and on the other hand it was a radical experimentation with making Marxian and Hegelian theory and the Communist Manifesto into something Chinese. It is a sign of Mao’s talents that he could create a brief and readable book which largely accomplished these goals.

I have never read Hitler’s My Struggle or Mein Kampf and the fact that I mention it is probably more than I am normaly inclined to do in writing. I have not read The Turner Diaries although I believe that the author is still alive and is my fellow American. These I think are manifestos which resemble mine in being personal although the Turner Diaires are unique in actually being a novel. I do not despise all anger and violence and the sense of an urgent need to do something. My disdain for these books comes from another place and embodies other criticisms.Hitler was a socialist who is somehow lumped with the right like Mao he killed a lot of people in his own country. Mao admired George Washington far more than most foreigners of his stature ever have and maintained that admiration his whole life. Hitler imitated some of the American experiment but I have always despised Hitler and yes I have always admired Mao. I visited his tomb in Beijing with great respect and bought mementos as gifts. However, I could certainly have schemed against him and shot him if we had been fated to meet as adversaries. I simply would have done it with respect.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
― Sun TzuThe Art of War

The most obviously current challenge facing the Trump administration is the confrontation with North Korea.  North Korea is a subject of discussion in this blog fairly often.  A recent post has dealt with the subject of North Korea primarily. In addition Asia has long been a major subject of interest here. I have recently posted on my Facebook timeline a You Tube link related to what North Koreans think about Americans and another to what South Koreans think about the U.S. Army. 

Those are among the small efforts that I can make to try to provide a glimpse of what the situation is like along the Yellow Sea where I lived in China amid Russians, North Koreans, South Koreans and the Chinese — among others. It is in fact a challenge for this part of the world to be well understood across much of the republic. It is not clear that we are communicating well with any of the parties in the East nor all that badly either. Much is currently unclear.  That is not likely to be entirely accidental.
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
― Sun TzuThe Art of War

It has been over a dozen years since I walked around China, and especially Yantai’s Korea Town. For me the chances I made there for influencing the way things have worked out have slipped away. One of the things that has happened as I have gotten older is that  I have slowly reached the point where very few of my minutes are spent hoping for a specific set of advantages such as one might play for in a set of business deals if one were a major worldwide developer. In many ways there is far less resonance between my life and that of Donald Trump in recent years than there has been in the past. Although our lives have never been much alike. I could try to find a few good things to say about this administration generally but I am not likely to do as much of that as I possibly could. I am an American and I support the American President in his efforts to promote our interests. Many who do support each and every country affected by this crisis nonetheless have reason to question the capacity, skill, information and even intentions of their leaders  — how one balances doubt and support varies from country to country. Su Tzu had a few thoughts about what made a leader successful in conflict.

“Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:
1 He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
2 He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.
3 He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
4 He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
5 He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.”
― Sun TzuThe Art of War
I am not likely to do much of that in this post. The  fact of the Trump Administration’s existence and its communications of policies and messages is more of my concern today than other things are. This has been a difficult week at a personal level — a week of moving ever in a downward spiral. But that is much the same pattern that typified my week on any given week of the Obama Administration. Neither the Trump Administration nor  the Obama Administration excited in me great hopes for the future. Neither have I blamed either administration in a large and significant way for the lack of hope that I often feel. Presidential politics provides one set of frameworks for the world in which I live my life. Both Trump and Obama have tried to modify and amplify the effect that their presidency could have in many of our lives. But for most people, I am not sure that the personal impact has been all that great. That is only if one takes a very narrow view of the office. At another level every Presidency has a great impact. I have recently mentioned the Roosevelt legacy in politics and whether one discusses Franklin, Eleanor or Teddy — the Roosevelts were also a transformative force.

But I am not confident that President trump will move in the transformational directions that I would like. I have set out an agenda in this blog and I still stand by it. It has cost me a great deal — and I had severe limits on what I could afford when i began to write it. But having written policy statements, model constitutions and cultural criticism — one stands by them. At least this one who is me does, whenever possible. But since the Conservatives became the majority in the UK Parliament and Trump was elected here the interest in the politics put forth here has declined overall.There have been spikes of interest in this blog, even very recently. I am hopeful that it may yet have its role to play. This has been a week of getting things into a lower orbit in some ways. I am simply aware of the constant trend toward pairing down expectation and limiting exposure to the internal risk of having to focus on the barest kind of public existence.

 

This is a different day than many I have had and yet there is a definite connection to it’s seemingly countless dates which are its mates across the course of my life. But it is also a day in the Trump administration and this blog has not focused on politics nearly as much as it did during the Obama Administration. I am only checking in here to say my politics have not changed but the President has and we must face the future he is leading us into.  This is a challenge and we must recognize that fact — yet there is more than winning which is desirable.

“What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.”
― Sun TzuThe Art of War

My Present: Games, gambles, gambols and Gammie’s:

This year has been a year of many great disappointments, in a life that did not lack for disappointments before. This is a theme I have addressed in recent blog posts and will probably revisit. But although I feel weary and bitter –I have few regrets. I am going to discuss my current position in life as an American man through the lens of another American man who died at 60 years old but clearly shaped his world by 53 in a way that I have not.  I have found all efforts to make real progress or secure any real opportunities for my life stymied and setback in far too many ways to enumerate. I have often said to my closest confidantes that I have no real talent for happiness. That has been true throughout my life. I also have a growing sense over recent decades that the worst of a bad lot is yet to come. But if there will be a bitter harvest yet to reap that does not mean that I am filled with regrets, in fact I am less burdened with regret each year.  Foreboding, exhaustion and a sense of the goodness dripping out of life I know in abundance — but regret diminishes annually.

What is not lacking in life for some is terribly lacking for others and it is the whole realm of soul searching, gut-checking and the like. I mean only a particular family of introspection and not every possible kind of introspection. There are kinds of self acknowledgement and examination which create more ennui and those which resemble the football player who watches the tapes of his game. In this post I am  (among too many other things) discussing the latter. How many of the readers of this post will instantly recognize the following line, I do not know — but here it is:  if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. I don’t think the evidence that I have dared greatly is as obvious as the evidence that Teddy Roosevelt did and yet as I sit placidly editing this post I think of myself as one who has dared greatly.
August 3, 2017 is the occasion of the Hall of Fame Game broadcast on NBC. It identifies the moment when professional NFL football  returns to the screens across America. I’m watching the heat of a house with very little working air conditioning. Hot as it is it is the evening and a cooler than usual summer evening. There is a chance it will defrost over the course of the night and work as it should. But I am not sure that is the case. The defrosting of an AC unfit can take longer and given the type of case and the fact that I don’t own it or the house, there is no way for me to be sure that the freezing of the unit is the issue. I’m sure that this is the step to take next in servicing the unit. Playing football early in the season gets hot in Louisiana. The Hall of Fame Game far to our north is probably not cool for the players.  But it is a worthy celebration of the game. The Hall of Fame Game is part of my life right now.

Like other posts I have created that deal largely  with someone else’s words in this blog — this post is still largely about me as I have sat in the Vermilion Parish Library in clothes I usually use for yard work but not yet dirty or sweaty and my leg braces which I love not to wear but when I do wear them I never wear them for yard work. My shorts there, tucked under the public access computer revealed the braces which I often am less than eager to display although I have. It’s also a post about me laying across my bed.  It seems one of those days when one is beyond really caring about the outcomes of most of life’s past stages and such. I am by circumstances drawn to look at my life and the world thought the lens of a particular set of words by a great — but imperfect man. A man who abounded in courage and activity but could also reflect and think. he was not a poet or a singer and yet one part of his huge output of words is read in a poetic light and has a certain song like quality, so I am blogging about it.  I have blogged about Frank Sinatra’s song My Way and used it to discuss other issues. In that song he has the lyric “regrets  I have a few, but then again too few to mention.” That is in fact a sentiment that resonates with me more as I age. I have more bitterness but fewer regrets than when I was younger.  I am going to wrap this post around a set of quotes as I also did with a post quoting Bruce Springsteen and one quoting  Billy Joel this past year. The three songs involved in those three posts linked before have very little to do with one another but the are all  by American men with big popular careers who sang songs they wrote rooted in personal experience. I have never done a post about Kipling’s poem If  , but if I had done so it would be a good bridge to this post because this post is not about a recent popular song and how it relates to something that I want to say but rather about a presidential speech from the early twentieth century from which a portion is often excerpted as an inspirational sort of prose poem.

If was written in 1895 and published in 1910 the same year that former President Teddy Roosevelt gave the speech that this post is written largely about. It is quite possible that Kipling had Roosevelt in mind along with others when he wrote this poem. It is also possible that Roosevelt knew the poem fairly well. To my knowledge it is possible that neither work was much influenced by the other very directly but there is a connection in larger terms according to the poetry foundation…  Kipling was one of Teddy Roosevelt’s connections to poets and literary artists that actually mattered:

The Kiplings lived in America for several years, in a house they built for themselves and called “Naulahka.” Kipling developed a close friendship with Theodore Roosevelt, then Under Secretary of the Navy, and often discussed politics and culture with him. “I liked him from the first,” Kipling recalled in Something of Myself, “and largely believed in him…. My own idea of him was that he was a much bigger man than his people understood or, at that time, knew how to use, and that he and they might have been better off had he been born twenty years later.” Both of Kipling’s daughters were born in Vermont—Josephine late in 1892, and Elsie in 1894—as was one of the classic works of juvenile literature: The Jungle Books, which are ranked among Kipling’s best works. The adventures of Mowgli, the foundling child raised by wolves in the Seeonee Hills of India, are “the cornerstones of Kipling’s reputation as a children’s writer,” declares Blackburn, “and still among the most popular of all his works.” The Mowgli stories and other, unrelated works from the collection—such as “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and “The White Seal”—have often been filmed and adapted into other media.

So there can be no question of whether or not Roosevelt’s view of empire and imperialism in Egypt, India, the Philippines, Panama and Korea as they appeared in his public policy were at least minimally influenced by Kipling. Nor is it at all likely that Kipling’s literary vision in a number of works was untouched by his experience of Teddy Roosevelt. One is aware that both shared many interests and attitudes and a certain perspective on how to live. But that goes beyond my  scope in this post.  Part of this post is going to be about my interest in trying to compete on Jeopardy.  I am mentioning that because Kipling and Roosevelt both use images and suggestions of competition and sport in the broadest sense — the GAME — to describe what they envision as the virtuous life. I spent time in the Philippines and Colombia and had friends in both countries, and still do. .Both are countries where Teddy Roosevelt’s darkest and direst legacies are remembered. But even from their points of view, he is a man one can understand. He was not a man of absolute and blind hatreds and greens. He could do great things and he did. He was in many ways the kind of man Kipling calls for in If.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream- -and not make dreams your master;
If you can think- -and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on! ‘

Kipling had a rousing end to his poem and there is time and space to point out some kindred notes in the speech we are discussing here. I will say that France,  England and the larger United Kingdom as well as Roosevelt’s United States of America all had different understandings of class but class is a theme that is important in this final verse and in Roosevelt’s speech.

 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings- -nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And- -which is more- -you’ll be a Man, my son!

 

Here is the paragraph in full that precedes the famous part of Teddy Roosevelt’s speech. It is not my place here to point out all the connections that exist between the two but simply to declare that such connections exist.

It is well if a large proportion of the leaders in any republic, in any democracy, are, as a matter of course, drawn from the classes represented in this audience to-day; but only provided that those classes possess the gifts of sympathy with plain people and of devotion to great ideals. You and those like you have received special advantages; you have all of you had the opportunity for mental training; many of you have had leisure; most of you have had a chance for enjoyment of life far greater than comes to the majority of your fellows. To you and your kind much has been given, and from you much should be expected. Yet there are certain failings against which it is especially incumbent that both men of trained and cultivated intellect, and men of inherited wealth and position should especially guard themselves, because to these failings they are especially liable; and if yielded to, their- your- chances of useful service are at an end. Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as a cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one. The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities – all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.

Two fundamentally different men were saying some things in different ways but the passions, ideals and event the weaknesses of both men have lots of common qualities.  I am not sure at all that the age of Roosevelt and Kipling is really as near to us in spirit as it is in time compared to most ages of history and literature.  Neither man much describes the life I have lived for I have largely lost and they felt themselves largely to be winners and the difference illuminated all of their words compared to mine.
This is a day when I have been running errands and was hoping for a small deal to come through, but as of the time that this post is going up it looks like it will be a while before I know it will come through or not come through. Perhaps it is only delayed but perhaps it fits into the pattern of ever constricting possibilities and  lessened opportunities which define most of my life today. So like a lot of American men who are not happy with their own future I enjoy watching the men in the arena of professional sports living out their potential and being rewarded in grand ways. Like many others I feel I too have played a few games that matter although things have not worked out so gloriously as  the glories that this game celebrates.

All I can say with certainty about my prospects for the rest of my life is that they are not good. The work I have poured into novels, projects, businesses and ventures which have not prospered can never be replaced, and the costs have been borne while undertaking many more prosaic things. I have drunk fairly deeply of personal and social defeat at many levels.  The questions that realistically face me today are not about whether I will know success or failure. My only fantasies that have any hope of coming true are those which are tied to plans and dreams  about levels above or below the point at which I feel that I would sort of break even in life. The other thing I can say is that in terms of realism and experience as I have known it, things are likely to keep getting worse in all sorts of ways over the foreseeable future. Every major sign as to the direction of things is toward the worsening of most or all things that matter. I have taken some risks in life there is no doubt about that, I do not feel that I took a lot of unjustified risks — but when one risks one must be prepared to loose. The more one loses the more risks one must sometimes take. Like a team with the lower score and the clock against them in football — I must play the long odds. Gambling becomes the conservative position.

Another game in my life right now is Jeopardy. This year I took the online test to qualify as a Jeopardy contestant. I very much doubt that I will ever appear on the show but I took the test. I have been watching the game on television and playing the J-6 game on my own on the computer as often as possible since I took the test. I have not been called for the audition, interview section of the process yet. I likely will not be, but if called I think most people who are called are not actually invited to appear on the show. If I do appear on the show, then the second place finisher receives a compensation prize of 2,000 dollars and the third place finisher receives a compensation prize of 1,000 dollars. If I were to defeat my two well selected and qualified opponents then I would have to beat long odds to win more than once. I figure that if I won four times it would make a real difference for the rest of my life that would probably make everything more than worth it and would change the status and outlook of my remaining years. The odd of me winning the Jeopardy game four times are more or less infinitesimal from the point of view of my current position as one who has not been invited to the interview stage.   But I honestly believe that this is my most realistic chance for a good and prosperous old age.  I don’t think it is even a particularly close thing. Nor do I think that it would be all that great — simply that it would make a more positive and tolerable old age more plausible as an outcome. That is my best shot at a modest prosperity. To win a hundred thousand dollars on Jeopardy. There are no other paths leading to good and prosperous outcomes. At least none that I can see ahead. The gambling chances are the best ones for this man who can no longer gambol along reliably on dependable legs.

 

 

 

I have just recently turned 53 and my life no longer has the blush of the fresh rose upon it. But I am not sure that it ever had much of that. Right now I am in the ongoing process of  watching  the Ken burns film The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. The second episode is titled, The Man in the Arena and ends with the famous excerpt  from his Citizenship in a Republic speech delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris on the 23 of April 1910. The best known part of the speech is below.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

I am writing some of this blog post on August 3, 2017. It is the birthday of my niece and godchild Anika Claire Spiehler, besides being the Hall of Fame  Game  day.  I have invested alot of my life in her and she is a great person but the truth is I did not contact her successfully on her birthday — another defeat in a string of many.  August 3 was also a day in the deep summer of South Louisiana with its heat and humidity, the AC stopped working in the place I live — that I still call Gammie’s house. It is a day in the year that I am 53, and like almost everyone, far less successful than Roosevelt.

Of course he and I had different goals but even allowing for that he laps over the lines to achieving some great success in addressing interests that are more my interests than his own. It probably is a day in a year that I thought I would not reach at all if I did not reach it in a better state of mind, well-being and prosperity than the one I occupy. One of my interests in life has been the connection between France and the United States. On that point I wish to quote Theodore Roosevelt:

France has taught many lessons to other nations: surely one of the most important lesson is the lesson her whole history teaches, that a high artistic and literary development is compatible with notable leadership im arms and statecraft. The brilliant gallantry of the French soldier has for many centuries been proverbial; and during these same centuries at every court in Europe the “freemasons of fashion: have treated the French tongue as their common speech; while every artist and man of letters, and every man of science able to appreciate that marvelous instrument of precision, French prose, had turned toward France for aid and inspiration. How long the leadership in arms and letters has lasted is curiously illustrated by the fact that the earliest masterpiece in a modern tongue is the splendid French epic which tells of Roland’s doom and the vengeance of Charlemange when the lords of the Frankish hosts where stricken at Roncesvalles. Let those who have, keep, let those who have not, strive to attain, a high standard of cultivation and scholarship. Yet let us remember that these stand second to certain other things. There is need of a sound body, and even more of a sound mind. But above mind and above body stands character – the sum of those qualities which we mean when we speak of a man’s force and courage, of his good faith and sense of honor. I believe in exercise for the body, always provided that we keep in mind that physical development is a means and not an end. I believe, of course, in giving to all the people a good education. But the education must contain much besides book-learning in order to be really good. We must ever remember that no keenness and subtleness of intellect, no polish, no cleverness, in any way make up for the lack of the great solid qualities. Self restraint, self mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution – these are the qualities which mark a masterful people. Without them no people can control itself, or save itself from being controlled from the outside. I speak to brilliant assemblage; I speak in a great university which represents the flower of the highest intellectual development; I pay all homage to intellect and to elaborate and specialized training of the intellect; and yet I know I shall have the assent of all of you present when I add that more important still are the commonplace, every-day qualities and virtues.

 

The  little known quote about France above is from a speech is well known for another part that is usually applied in the most personal ways and only vaguely in a public service way.  But this paragraph about France is the paragraph which directly follows the most famous part of the speech. The part I am referring to is usually printed, read and published alone as an inspirational prose poem and titled, The Man in the Arena . This part of the speech is personally edifying and is intended to inspire and many people, like me do find it personally edifying. The rest of the speech is known only to very few, relatively speaking. I am quoting another part out of order and will slide some other sections around as the post drags on. The point of the next section is that this speech was about individuals but it was about individuals in the context of citizenship and their role as citizens in a republic. It was not just about individual living their own lives with no social context.

 

Today I shall speak to you on the subject of individual citizenship, the one subject of vital importance to you, my hearers, and to me and my countrymen, because you and we a great citizens of great democratic republics. A democratic republic such as ours – an effort to realize its full sense government by, of, and for the people – represents the most gigantic of all possible social experiments, the one fraught with great responsibilities alike for good and evil. The success or republics like yours and like ours means the glory, and our failure of despair, of mankind; and for you and for us the question of the quality of the individual citizen is supreme. Under other forms of government, under the rule of one man or very few men, the quality of the leaders is all-important. If, under such governments, the quality of the rulers is high enough, then the nations for generations lead a brilliant career, and add substantially to the sum of world achievement, no matter how low the quality of average citizen; because the average citizen is an almost negligible quantity in working out the final results of that type of national greatness. But with you and us the case is different. With you here, and with us in my own home, in the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average women, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional cries which call for heroic virtues. The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation. Therefore it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher.

 

 

 

 

It is none to easy to put the time we live in and the time Roosevelt lived in next to one another for good measure. Despite, the famous part of the speech — Roosevelt was a critic as well as a man of action. He was introspective, religious, well read and an historian. He was a man devoted to family and culture. The contrast between him and all recent presidents at a personal level is striking. The exceptions are the one term presidents George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter both of whom were enormously successful compared to most men but remarkably shabbily dispatched as Presidents.  Only they can approach (in my view) his kind of personal resources in approaching the post. The challenges we face are greater than those he faced. But I wonder if our internal resources are his equal.

DL Menard remembered…

I have looked back on recent years with mixed feelings and some troubled thoughts but one bright spot was meeting DL Menard a few times.;;
This is his obituary in the New York Times.  He was a legend in many ways…. My cousin Billy Massie’s death prevented my attending recent ceremonies in Erath honoring Native Son and local musician  and songwriter D L Menard. I was going to be part of a group of Acadian Museum related attendees. However I had seen him in recent months at the Acadian Museum Cafe in Erath where this picture was taken by me. We talked for a while.

I
Back in  time just a bit   in 20011 D L Menard
joined with L’Angelus to play for a Family Missions Company fundraiser called Music for the Mission from Madeleine Square.

I had quite a few picture of that including some with D L  but most are currently lost or inaccessible.  Family Mission has a tradition of raising funds through music.  The link here connects to music made by those involved in the FMC life daily. 

So Mr. D.L. Menard was part of my life and many others through the recent past but he is enshrined in a mural at the Museum Cafe and written up in the New York Times mostly for things he dis in the fairly distant past.  I listened to and sang along with his music then but I had not conversed with him at any length before 2011.

This post is just a mention of a man who was known for a body of work and for friendship, making  furniture and being a pillar of the Acadian  Community in Louisiana.  I was glad to have known him.

Cops, Women, Movies and What I might blog about more if I were really a celebrity….

When the Aurora  theater shooting was perpetrated there was a whole series of issues in the way the event was handled that I found very upsetting. I wrote some things about police handling of the investigation that were among the angriest and most offensively worded things that I have ever written. It was a desperate attempt to attract more attention to reforming police procedure, reporting on mass shootings, reporting between agencies and public police relations. Of course I got no response from any of the parties I tried to offend — not the police, the mainstream media or the sort of half-breed institutions  that act as part media and part police. No response except some evidence that some isolated elements in both media and police took offense and put me on their enemies list. Fair enough, I have earned lots of enemies but although I hate reading those words I  still think that if I was not so universally ignored it might have prevented some of the horrors of police – public connections and relations that have plagued us ever since. Yes that is egotistical, but if you read this blog regularly you already know that I am fairly egotistical. Insulting the most capable group in society of inflicting harm was not a choice I made lightly even in the heat of anger.

O. J. Simpson’s legal team demonized the police so he could get away with murdering his wife and her associate or lover — his tactic succeeded despite the lack of any relevance to anything. I suggested that the police needed to disprove that a man dressed entirely like a cop, in a place cops were known to work and who shot with skill was not in fact a cop. I suggested that this lack of confronting that issue was inexcusable. I did it in ways that were over the top. But my goal was to start a discussion — I failed to achieve my objective where Simpson’s attorneys did achieve theirs. I never said a cop did it and I laid out the facts that Holmes probably did it and said so clearly to those few who can actually follow an argument they do not like.  But I achieved no discussion whatsoever of how to handle situations when a cop may have run amok. That was around this  time of year in 2012. All of the corrosive events since then may make many people (whose point of view I can’t respect) feel that such criticism contributed to the bad will sense. They are basically fools and self-deluded cowards but many of them hate people like me on sight so this won’t gain me new enemies really — they sense that I dislike the status quo they don’t wan’t criticized  as soon as they see me. Still I would apologize for how angry those words were if I thought it meant anything.
When the Lafayette theater shooting occurred in 2015 and the killer was not dressed like a cop in the view of hundreds of witnesses and the reporting was in my mind sane I said nothing negative about the cops or the cop reportage media industry. I focused on the victims and shared reported links about them such as this and this which emphasized their great human beauty as people. I also shared other links like this. Until this sentence I have never mentioned that Train Wreck is a disturbing movie which many people would find offensive and hard to watch in any of my other treatments of this topic. That is true although as I wrote with empathy in the Charlie Ebdo massacre I never took up the Je Suis Charlie Ebdo tag. I actually think Amy Schumer has some serious things to say in the film and they need to be said. I am not at all sure she says them in a way that deserves major feature film distribution acroos America. But until now I did not mention that and I did focus some attention on the killer and his horrible points of view which led to this crisis. A post or two on that shooting made this blog. So my criticism harsh as it was had a very specific context. Positive posts about police have appeared here , here and here. But that first post which I do not link but which is still here on this blog and elsewhere will haunt me for the rest of my life with a long and more complete line of ghosts than most people have.

So two lovely women who are part of the Acadiana community which I have loved and lived in were killed at a movie about women’s issues that were offensively portrayed by a man whose whole life was devoted to offensive behaviors and thoughts. the cops and media handled it well and that scarcely lessens the tragedy. That is not the kind of writing I would like to do about women, movies are cops but it beats the Aurora piece. I have blogged about the Louisiana Story and the Blob which have been big parts of my life. I have also blogged about other movies such as here  for LA LA Land,  here for a local film and here for the classic Belizaire the Cajun and here for other films. Films are a major interest of mine.

In my brother’s recent foray into feature films I had a chance to shoot the pictures below of an attractive young woman, Dasha Nekrasova a Belarus native who grew up in Las Vegas and lives in Los Angeles and is making a movie in Louisiana. It reminds me of a time when I was able to think of cops, women and movies all in a different and more hopeful way than I can now. It reminds me of a time when my past life was less complex. That being said I was never the kind of person cops look like and say “he is a good citizen and we want to be on his side” with any kind of universality. I have a certain instinct for trouble, am usually unhappy and they usually sense both things pretty quickly.
I have never really known what it is like to move forward in life without feeling that terrible tension between what was going on and what is tolerable in the world but I am trying to understand things better. All the good things in life get more distant to me as I age even when they are present. But I did  feel connected to something better seeing this girl/woman telling an American story.

 

A walk in the Park

Yesterday Jude Meaux, Philippe Boudreau and a I — along with other people spent some time in Godchaux park while my brother John Paul Summers was (as far as I can tell) Director of Photography and Co-Director with Peter Ambrosio who is Director, Writer and Executive Producer on a new project that John Paul and his Infinite Focus business are filming in Acadiana. We got a chance to do some work and the home base for the day was at my parents house nearby.

It was great to see JP work. My general rule in recent years is that nothing ever works out in my life for the best but it was possible to remember better days and I was happy to see JP doing well. I taught him a home school film class when he was in elementary school and I have followed his growing interest in film since then.

Films are always interesting and the project was one which interested me a good bit for a whole variety of reasons. I am tempted to optimism by such events as good day but regular readers will know that the temptations never last long i never succumb to them entirely.

 

But the day was  a good one and local film community players such as UL Professor  D. Broussard were on hand as were many people with whom my brother has developed relationships.  Peter knows John Paul’s (and my own) first cousin Taso Smith who moved out to LA to work with his band Youngblood Hawke.  Tasso also spent plenty of time here (despite being a San Antonio guy)  and thus the connections were made. Jude, Philippe and I have all spent some time in Drama and media and so this was a good opportunity to reminisce

Titles may change and I am not really associated with the project directly nor entitled to speak for them but the whole thing looked great and the lead whose actual name is Dasha Nekrasova and who has worked with Ambrosio before  was an attractive and commanding presence even before the magic of post production.

Sunday girl Dasha Nekrasova 1

While these phone based bandit cam shots don’t really capture the magic they do create a sense of the project. I hope that more films will be made in the area and I salute the ones that are being made. I hope to here more from Peter and JP in the future as they make quite a team. Best wishes from me to all involved in this project.

 

I will highlight this film in this blog when it comes out if I can. All photographs were taken by me in a public park without encouragement  or discouragement  of the dour lurking relative cam…

Counting Down to 62, and thinking back.

If I could collect the money I am vested in for Social Security because of having made the payments necessary to be permanently vested then I would be 62 years old. It would not be a lot and it would be much better if I had a good job and was earning more FICA credits, but there is no reason to hop that anything in my life will improve before 62. If I can survive till 62 then I can perhaps hope for some meager harvest of the crops sown in my still meager but much better days from 1979 to 1995 when I paid the most FICA and the years from 1995 to 2005 when I paid some.  But if I had to guess I think my death benefit will be all I ever collect. Nine years is a long time in a life where things almost always get worse. But this post at 53 is not about looking forward but rather about looking back about nostalgia.

Today I was helping a friend set up a Facebook page for the Table Tennis operation which he feels passionately about. He is quite a bit older than I am and table tennis keeps him in shape and engaged with other people and he finds a way to make a few bucks off the sport as well. Once upon a time I played a bit of the sport but that was a long time ago.  I have little nostalgia about those days but not very much because there are so many other things to be nostalgic about. There are many songs about nostalgia or expressing nostalgia in American popular culture but one of the ones that stands out for me is Glory Days, by Bruce Springsteen. Here are a few lyrics:

I had a friend was a big baseball player
Back in high school
He could throw that speedball by you
Make you look like a fool boy
Saw him the other night at this roadside bar
I was walking in, he was walking out
We went back inside sat down had a few drinks
But all he kept talking about was:
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

I suppose that my friend and I have discussed his path through life and his past quite a bit — although we have never shared a beer over it . His journey was accompanied by different music than the Boss’s most of the time. Although I fancy he knows Springsteen a bit. But He is still fortunate to be more involved in many of the pursuits of his  youth than some people — like me for instance  — generally are at an earlier age.

roc77 002 (1)

Rocky Russo remembers the glory days of his life as an outdoorsman and hunter with these photographs.

I was never a Bruce Beast as a few of my friends self described themselves, but I was a the owner of a few albums that I enjoyed listening to. One of Bruce Springsteen’s songs that I liked was Glory Days. For those who want to see a video it should be available here.

Nostalgia takes many forms. Looking back in times takes a different tone because of why one is looking back, what one is looking back at and how one is  looking back at the past.  The

My first cousin once removed, Charles William Massie III died this July.  Among other things he and my Dad cut and suctioned my snake bite and tourniqueted my leg and helped rush me to the hospital. He also helped me wash an eye popping out of my head from an allergic reaction and helped rush me to the hospital again a few years later.  He had a longer obituary in the Abbeville Meridional but here is a link to his obituary at the funeral home where I attended his wake. Big Billy and I shared many experiences outdoors and indoors, hunting, religious and familial over my whole life. Yet we were not that close when he died.

I am entirely sure that life will hold a few surprises in each day that I continue to live and breathe. But this year I have run into a number of women with whom I spent some time many years ago and we have had fairly decent visits,. I am made aware of how much my life is about limits and impossibilities compared to the years in the past when there was more hope and I think some of them are reminded of times when they found social life a bit more exciting than they do today. But perhaps our exchanges are not all that close to the one described in the next part of Glory Days.

Well there’s a girl that lives up the block
Back in school she could turn all the boy’s heads
Sometimes on a Friday I’ll stop by
And have a few drinks after she put her kids to bed
Her and her husband Bobby well they split up
I guess it’s two years gone by now
We just sit around talking about the old times,
She says when she feels like crying
She starts laughing thinking about
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

In this year and many years ( twelve to be exact) I have not had any kind of regular girlfriend and the general trend in my life has been towards ever greater isolation of all kinds since I got back from China in 2005. Before China I had been increasingly isolated every year since 1995. So China was just an island of intense social and occupational engagement. But in the years from 1995 to 2004 I wrote for newspapers and taught in public schools as a substitute — recent years have not had those kinds of public engagement for pay. My  Dad has been in the mode of trying to retire more and more and discusses his declining ability to pursue some of his outdoor hobbies. I think of  the next lyrics in Glory Days when I think of talking with him.  Although few of the facts are similar still I empathize with the narrator’s connection of nostalgia across generations. It is something that as it grows in us connects us to older generations.

My old man worked twenty years on the line
And they let him go
Now everywhere he goes out looking for work
They just tell him that he’s too old
I was nine years old and he was working at the
Metuchen Ford plant assembly line
Now he just sits on a stool down at the Legion hall
But I can tell what’s on his mind
Glory days yeah goin back
Glory days aw he ain’t never had
Glory days, glory days

This year and part of the past one have formed a unit as I have been back in Abbeville and living in my grandparents old house and trying to get the grounds back in shape with limited time, energy and resources. Eve the resources to put photographs of the glory days of that house and its occupants seem to be in short supply.  But it is a place of nostalgia. This is the year not of the great parties or the family trip to Sea Island,  Georgia but the  trip to local sites during the greatest flood in memory with an open would wrapped in plastic, a ruined cell phone. The year when one of the highest sites in the parish which did not flood still held a lot of water because I had not yet removed the fallen ceiling and caused me to loose even more equipments and supplies than I would have lost just from the torrential rain damage itself . The glory days of the house were definitely in the past despite it being a high and dry place.  Flood damage came too in the form of cars parking to escape the flood and trying to leave when it was too wet. Flood damage came in opportunities lost when I had just started to find a few after moving in and in time and cost of donated labor treating flood related  injuries and buying cleaning supplies. There were other things too but compared to many others we had nothing worth noticing.

 

The truth is that this year, although I have spent time with family I have spent a good bit of time with two old friends named Philippe and Jude. I don’t give their last names and a great deal of what we talk about is better times in the past. Though we have known each other those were not mostly times spent together so the stories are new  — we are not exactly the same age — but all count Abbeville as our hometown. We rarely drink much together but on occasion Jude and I share a drink. We do smoke together, a much despised habit and one that never held me really in a habituated position until recently.  But we have a few places we occasionally go whether drinking or not. and we are nostalgic together there more often than not.
Now I think I’m going down to the well tonight
And I’m going to drink till I get my fill
And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it
But I probably will
Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture
A little of the glory of, well time slips away
And leaves you with nothing mister but
Boring stories of glory days
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days
Glory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl’s eye
Glory days, glory days

 

 

One of the places we have been is Twin Peaks in Lafayette. There the waitresses (Katelyn and Leah in these pictures) have less nostalgia and lives more directed to the future. Of course they are cute too and since I cannot afford to do much or go anywhere very often I don’t worry much about the higher than normal prices (which are not that bad — and the food is good). The young girls smile and chat a little and make you feel the present is a kind of present and I have no qualms of conscience about that, in a society of vast sexual problems and maladjustments in terms of every aspect of identity, relationship and interactions between the sexes there is certainly still room for some to object that the food is served with a side of flirty display. I don’t mind saying I find real girls knowing their cute and making a little conversation as they serve you a hamburger refreshingly innocent. Whether this is up to the date, nostalgic in itself or a trend for the future I DON’T KNOW.  But I do know that   in a life in which the best  is mostly in the past it is fun to go to places like this and hope that the girls have life with a more fun present and future. I know that not all of their experiences are fun. But it is an interesting phenomenon in our society today. Links to the experience can be found here and here.  It is perhaps a bit like getting involved on some of the sets of the hit series Mad Men except in a bar that is a fake lodge. But whatever it is it serves a break from the dismal pervasive feeling I often have about much of everything. I have only been twice so far. The reasons I ended up there are too complicated to put here but if I can I will probably go back. I promised Katelyn and Leah I would post these pictures — so I did.

 

June 2016 to July 2017

I have long been under the certain sentence of ever diminishing expectations. But I do not always blog and act as if that were the case there are happy and good moments to seize and I believe in seizing them. In addition, I am always ready to lay out some of whatever resources i have to make a better future. That always means what I see as a better future for myself and what I see as a better future for  someone and something other than myself.   But make no mistake, those many acts which are good in themselves and fit into some kind of good vision in my mind are far indeed from a plan for success. If by a plan one means a realistic set of steps and initiatives that will lead to a better outcome.

I also have had my moments of happiness snatched from the fires of poorly apportioned idle and busy misadventure which will shape most of those hours that are likely to make up any month in the near future or have made up any months in the past.  Those moments do not all fit one type in a neat way either and not ever one involved in one moment would approve of the other moments. In addition there are relationships in my life which have varied a great deal from one another in many ways and are divided  between those which undoubtedly have great substance that anyone could measure and those which are a combination of fleeting interactions, online connections and third-party interactions  — all of those have been observed differently by different people. People have judgments about how meaningful such connections are and if they grant that they have meaning they may have opinions I don’t share about what that meaning is.  For example my most meaningful relationship in terms of romantic or other connections was with my ex-wife of about eight years but I have not seen her (except in a handful of online pictures), heard her voice or spoken to her since the day she called me to meet at one of our favorite restaurants ostensibly to discuss our separation and a potential reunion but actually to serve me with divorce papers. So she really has  no part in my life present or future. Other people whom I barely know have had some impact on my life in recent years. Most of my relationships fall some where in the middle. But I would say that my capacity for relating to people in general diminishes a bit more and more each year. There are eddies in  that current. But the general trend is towards more isolation.

 

There has never been a time when I was a total recluse and there has never been a time when I felt myself to be completely adjusted to and engaged in the world in a way that I thought really fit me. But I have also always known that I was not alone in that experience. Many people have found a better sense of fit and place in life and many people have not. One struggles to make the best one can of what one is doing in the world, struggles to survive and thrive, to deal with responsibilities and help those one cares about and to try to make a difference in the bigger picture.

It’s not all that easy to say how the world is doing this year.  My most recent post was on North Korea and I have a lot of personal connections to the subject matter of that post that I have tired to describe. But not all my posts in this blog are of that type.  I have recently posted largely about Saudi Arabia — with which I have little connection. The world is a big and complicated place. It’s pretty clear that I can observe a mixture of good and bad things going on in my own life. I hope that anyone reading this feels that he or she can tell a few things about the direction of his or her own life. That’s mostly the kind of blog post this is.  Just some imagistic remarks and picture in a blog that has fewer readers than it once did and is less connected to other influential blogs than it once was.  But there has been a history of ups and downs and the blog might possibly have another upswing some day. But when its readership narrows my political and social blogging tends to diminish in ambition and scope. I don’t delete the old content but in the newer content there is a more confined tone.  It’s political here from time to time but even in the discussion of politics each post is mostly a reflection on my own life. My life had more followers on this blog at some times in the past than it does now.  I can’t really say if that could be said to be good or bad. I only know that declining blog readership is one of many factors defining my shrinking life.

The month of June is not the most  electoral or political month of the year. June is the month of my birthday and Fathers Day. It’s a season for me personally to keep  track of the progress or lack thereof in my life. The year in the title of this post is the year that I was 52 years old. The year has been one of extraordinary failure and reason for despondency even in a life that has known very little hope for a long time. I am driven or drawn to commenting and posting on why that might be and how that bleak reality plays out. Of course, my life has a political context but really it is very  hot and humid and the grass and weeds grow very fast and I struggle at times to keep up with the outdoor things I try to take care of with the limited resources that I have and that makes me feel  less preoccupied with politics in many ways.

 

This is the first post I have mentioned that I am supposed to be presenting another presentation at an academic conference this year.

I have made some progress but I have not gotten as much done as I would like but I have a huge foundation of work on the subject. Of course, my very pessimistic point of view reminds me that it could fall through despite assurances to the contrary. I feel a keen limitation in needed resources and then there are the distractions of life. But in the meanwhile there are hopes that by October it will be a good and worthy presentation. That also falls into the middle ground between daily survival and the larger scope of social and political aspiration.

I also experienced three significant  deaths in my life this past month,  the deaths of Charles William Massie III and Monsignor Richard Von Phul Mouton were both deaths of people who at various times had been very close to me.  In looking for Big Billy’s death notice I discovered that my friend Christian De Prinz had died months earlier and it had escaped my attention. That and a few other significant events have shaped my perception of the world more than the political scene has this last few months.  I suppose that the situation in national politics worries more people than usual. But how many more and how much more the situation worries them is not clear. I suppose that I will be alone with my thoughts many times before the world changes its perception of its own situation a great deal.

The shooting of Steve Scalise hits fairly close to home as I received numerous emails purporting to have been written by him and we have many mutual connections — although I actually do not know the man. So we are back into my life of ambiguous relationships. This has been a remarkably tough year as things go. but perhaps the future will be better.