21 September 2021
Ambition? ha!If all I've heard is true,There's nothin' much I can doTo change the world, it's irreversible.But in what it lacks,It's got a taste that smacksOf somethin' irresistible.Gonna raise hell ...Rick Nielsen, from "Gonna Raise Hell"
20 September 2021
19 September 2021
I think rituals help. A psychoanalyst pointed out that cultures that hold rituals around food have less eating disorders than cultures that don’t. And our culture is a good example. Do you eat standing up? Do you eat in your car? Do you eat walking down the street? Or do you actually sit down and have a few moments of silence? Do you say a prayer and bless the food? Do you have some intention of receiving the preciousness of the food into your body and being? When you do, then you start to sense a connection because you are actually practicing the act of showing up and being present for something.
We may fall short, but our imperfection does not relieve us of our obligation.
Don't miss the Q & A afterward.
“I know there isn't no beast—not with claws and all that, I mean—but I know there isn't no fear, either." Piggy paused. "Unless—"
Ralph moved restlessly. "Unless what?"
"Unless we get frightened of people.”
William Golding, from Lord of the Flies
18 September 2021
17 September 2021
On this day in 1787, the United States Constitution was completed and signed by the delegates of the Continental Congress.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
15 September 2021
14 September 2021
A secret came a week ago though I already
knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds
are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.
I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite-
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation
and now they’re roosting within me, recalling
how I had watched them at night
in fall and spring passing across earth moons,
little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing
on their way north or south. Now in my dreams
I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,
the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying
me rather than me carrying them. Next winter
I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado
and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching
on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye
and I’ll return my dreams to earth.
In the year 1904, when the Herald office was destroyed in the great Baltimore fire and we had to print the paper for five weeks in Philadelphia, I was sent ahead to look for accommodations for the printers. I found them in one of those old-fashioned dollar-a-day hotels that were all bar on the first floor. The proprietor, a German with goat whiskers, was somewhat reluctant to come to terms, for he had heard that printers were wild fellows who might be expected to break up his furniture and rough his chambermaids, but when I told him that a beer champion was among them he showed a friendly interest, and when I began to brag about Bill’s extraordinary talents he proposed amiably that some Philadelphia foam jumpers be invited in to make it a race.The first heat was run the very next night, and Bill won hands down. In fact, he won so easily that he offered grandly to go on until he had drunk twice as much as the next-best entry. We restrained him and got him to bed, for there had been some ominous whispering among the other starters and it was plain that they were planning to call in help.The next night it appeared in the shape of a tall, thin man from Allentown, Pennsylvania, who was introduced as the champion of the Lehigh Valley. He claimed to be not only a beer-drinker of high gifts but also a member of the Bach Choir at Bethlehem, and when he got down his first dozen mugs—the boys were drinking from the wood—he cut loose with an exultant yodel that he said was one of Bach’s forgotten minor works. But he might very well have saved his wind, for Bill soon had him, and at the end of the setting he was four or five mugs behind and in a state resembling suffocation. The next afternoon I saw his fans taking him home, a sadder and a much less melodious man.On the first two nights there were only slim galleries, but on the third the bar was jammed, and anyone could see that something desperate was afoot. It turned out to be the introduction of two super-champions, the one a short, saturnine Welshman from Wilkes-Barre and the other a hearty, blond young fellow from one of the Philadelphia suburbs, who said that he was half German and half Irish. The Welshman was presented as the man who had twice drunk Otto the Brewery Horse under the table, and we were supposed to know who Otto was, though we didn’t. The Celto-Teutonic mongrel had a committee with him, and the chairman thereof offered to lay twenty-five dollars on him at even money. The printers in Bill’s corner made up the money at once, and it had grown to fifty dollars in forty minutes by the clock, for the hybrid took only that long to blow up. The Welshman lasted much better, and there were some uneasy moments when he seemed destined to make history again by adding Bill to Otto, but in the end he succumbed so suddenly that it seemed like a bang, and his friends laid him out on the floor and began fanning him with bar towels.
Bill was very cocky after that and talked grandiosely of taking on two champions at a time, in a marathon series. There were no takers for several nights, but then they began to filter in from the remotest wilds of the Pennsylvania-Dutch country, and the whole Herald staff was kept busy guarding Bill by day, to make sure that he did not waste any energy on malt liquor in the afternoons. He knocked off twenty or thirty challengers during the ensuing month, including another alleged member of the Bach Choir, two more Welshmen from the hard-coal country, a Scotsman with an ear missing, and a bearded Dunkard from Lancaster County. They were mainly pushovers, but now and then there was a tough one. Bill did not let this heavy going interfere with the practice of his profession. He set type every night from 6 p.m. to midnight in the office of the Evening Telegraph, where we were printing the Herald, and never began his combats until twelve-thirty. By two o’clock he was commonly in bed, with another wreath of laurels hanging on the gas jet.
To ease your suspense, I’ll tell you at once that he was never beaten. Germans, Irishmen, Welshmen, and Scotsmen went down before him like so many Sunday-school superintendents, and he bowled over everyday Americans with such facility that only two of them ever lasted more than half an hour. But I should in candor add that he was out of service during the last week of our stay in Philadelphia. What fetched him is still a bone of contention among the pathologists at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, to whom the facts were presented officially on our return to our rehabilitated printing plant in Baltimore ...
Smithsonian tells the story of how the flag that flew proudly over Fort McHenry inspired an anthem and made its way to the museum ...
On a rainy September 13, 1814, British warships sent a downpour of shells and rockets onto Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor, relentlessly pounding the American fort for 25 hours. The bombardment, known as the Battle of Baltimore, came only weeks after the British had attacked Washington, D.C., burning the Capitol, the Treasury and the President's house. It was another chapter in the ongoing War of 1812.A week earlier, Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old American lawyer, had boarded the flagship of the British fleet on the Chesapeake Bay in hopes of persuading the British to release a friend who had recently been arrested. Key's tactics were successful, but because he and his companions had gained knowledge of the impending attack on Baltimore, the British did not let them go. They allowed the Americans to return to their own vessel but continued guarding them. Under their scrutiny, Key watched on September 13 as the barrage of Fort McHenry began eight miles away."It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone," Key wrote later. But when darkness arrived, Key saw only red erupting in the night sky. Given the scale of the attack, he was certain the British would win. The hours passed slowly, but in the clearing smoke of "the dawn's early light" on September 14, he saw the American flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory.
I'll be coming again like an old dog in painBlown through the eye of the hurricaneDown to the stones where old ghosts play.Ian Anderson, from "Old Ghosts"
13 September 2021
CARL R. FIRCHAU (1884-1973)
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TAO TE CHING, Lao Tzu
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Spitzweg, The Bookworm, 1850
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