Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Essence Of Greg The Bunny

Video Find of the Day

I so love Greg the Bunny. I particularly like the writing as it reveals the characters. In this one we see the essence of Greg followed by the essence of Warren in two tightly written dialogues back to back.

Greg the Bunny: Bath Time

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Video Rodent Leftovers

Video Find of the Day

Contrary to what some people think I do not spend massive amounts of time looking for these Video Finds. I usually start at 11 PM and try to finish by midnight.

Unfortunately, during that time today, some needed functions of YouTube have been down for maintenance. So today, you get leftovers.

Hamster Dance

Memory Tests

Having evidence that my memory stretched back even before my first birthday had an effect on my Mother I could predict now, after another 51 years of experience with human nature, but which made no sense to me at the time.

She wasn't in any danger of being found to be guilty of attempted murder. Not only was there no danger that anyone would believe my memories, but even if it was determined through a revisiting of physical evidence that I was run over deliberately, it was extremely unlikely that anything but my unbelievable memory could indict my Mother as a conspirator. All she had to do is remind everyone that she wasn't the one behind the wheel.

So the rational thing to do would have been nothing but to forget about it.

My Mother was not about being rational, except for public show. She began to test my memory more and more. The tests became an excuse for cruelty. She'd put something away in front of me without calling attention to what she was doing, like a pair of sewing shears. Then the next day, or the next week, she would order me to find it. She would say, "I know you can find it. You remember everything. If you don't find it I'll know you're just pretending you can't."

When I didn't find the missing items I'd be beaten, and sent back to look. When I did find them, I was subjected to rape and torture to remind me that I had better keep my memories to myself.

In hindsight it wasn't about shutting me up or convincing herself that I couldn't remember the attempted memory. Rather, it was about the proliferation of excuses to abuse. What I couldn't see then, because my Mother was so insistent about her rationalizations, was that my Mother was simply a sadist. Any rationalization of torture would do.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tabla Solo

Video Find of the Day

This sort of music makes me wish I could write poetry that had the same effect. Ever changing convergent rhythms.

Swapan Chaudhuri - Guru Purnima

An Unmentionable Is Mentioned

A dramatic chain of events occurred sometime in the last two or three months of 1st grade. I'm sure of the order of the sequence because each event triggers events following it, as a chain reaction. But I'm not sure of the time of the beginning. Maybe as I relate the sequence now in writing for the first time something will occur to me that will date one event and consequently all the others.

The first event that stands out happened in class. A guest speaker came to class to present slides of a recent trip to Hawaii. Among the slides were pictures of a mock ancient Hawaiian village. One of the scenes showed a small hut. The speaker said she didn't know what the function of the hut was in an ancient village.

Ordinarily my classroom persona was that of Kona, while Alex/Alaka'i only observed. But when the question was raised about the hut Alex suddenly took over and stood up and announced, "I know what the hut was for. It was for the women, for when they bled."

You see, the same question had come up in my conversations with Lani and Lono. I had described a mock village and they recognized it as such. I had described a number of things that I had seen when I was 5 or 6 months old, when my parents carried me around a mock village in their arms. They told me what they thought I had seen, based on the descriptions I gave them. [See Godhood: The Downside, posted June 28, '07]

They told me not to repeat the answer about the hut to anyone else because non-Hawaiians are uncomfortable hearing about such things as women bleeding, it's kapu for them, even when they know it happens. But I had forgotten that warning in the more than 3 years since I'd seen them.

The warning was spot on. As soon as I said, "It was for the women when they bled," the guest turned pale and said, "What are you talking about?" in a angry raised voice. As Alex, I clarified the matter, "You know: you're a women. The women go there for their monthly bleeding."

All hell broke loose. The other kids probably didn't know what the discussion was about. I doubt any of the 6 year old girls had any knowledge of menstruation yet. But the teacher and the guest both reacted as if what I had said had been a graphic description of it for all the kids to hear, when actually I didn't say anything that would have been meaningful to anyone who didn't already know what menstruation was.

They screamed at me, calling me horrible and evil. I ran out the door of the class, down the hall, and ran out of the school, with the full intention of never going back.

I ran straight away from the exit for a while, looking over my shoulder occasionally to make sure no one was following me. When I was sure I wasn't being followed I rested a while and thought about what happened. By then I had remembered the warning, and I concluded that the warning was necessary because White People are all sick in their heads.

It's sick to scream at a child for revealing a fact you already know. Kapu or not. Besides, kapu , even Hawaiian kapu, are sick and stupid in general.

My parents were called and told I had run away from school. They drove around base looking for me for an hour before spotting me walking near the base headquarters.

My father didn't know what to make of the whole incident. He asked, "How did you get that idea about the huts?" I told him my friends told me about it. He finally told me that I had to learn not to say everything that comes into my head, "Think about the consequences." I don't think that lesson made a big impression on me.

But when my Mother got me alone she started quizzing me. "That happened before your first birthday! What else do you remember? What do you remember about your first birthday? Tell me!"

I had inadvertently given the secret of my early memories away. She now had reason to believe that I remembered their attempt to kill me when I was one.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Federico Aubele

Video Find of the Day

I heard Federico Aubele on the Mexicana music channel on "Broadstripe" tonight and I liked him so I put some him here. You want more, he has a MySpace page, with free music to listen to. He's not actually Mexican. He sometimes does music that sounds Mexican. He's from Argentina.

Federico Aubele - Postales

Of Teachers, Social Workers, Etc.

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in the spring of 1956, when I was 6 "going on 7". The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

When my parents got me to tell them that I wasn't eating my lunches because bullies were taking them away from me, the solution was for Dad to give me a talk about how I had to be a man and stand up to the bullies, and how when he did that when he was my age he smeared them all over the place, and that was the end of that.

I actually had enough faith in the godhood of my immediate paternal ancestor that I tried what he said try. The next time three bullies walked up to me at lunch and said I had to give my lunch to them, I said no. So they ganged up on me. A teacher broke it up. Incredibly, the fact that it was 3 on 1 meant nothing to the teacher. I got the line, "I don't care who started it." My parents were called again. The fact that the others were stealing my lunch meant nothing to the teachers. They said I should have handled it without fighting. I was quickly coming to the conclusion that teachers are a special class of human, one that never heard of truth or justice. I now know that they are not so special. For example, most social workers employed by social service agencies can also be so described.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Men In Coats

Video Find of the Day

Men in Coats consists of Man in Coat Maddy Sparham (the short one) and Man in Coat Michael "Mick" Dow (the other). They are from Nottingham and Ilkley in West Yorkshire respectively. They have performed in street theater all over the world. This is an extended video of excerpts including some from the London 2002 Royal Variety Performance "in the presence of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales."

Men In Coats Film.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ur-Bungee Jumping

Video Finds of the Day

The original bungee jumping was the annual naghol (or "land-diving") ceremony of the Melanesian natives of Pentecost Island of Vanuatu. The ceremony is meant to insure a good yam harvest. You may think that makes no sense, but I think it makes more sense than jumping off a bridge with a bungee cord tied to your ankles for the jollies.

I first learned of the naghol ceremony from a documentary I saw on TV in the 60s long before bungee jumping was a sport. The documentary only showed the jumping. There was no sound, except for a narrator and symphonic background music. The ceremony is now, naturally, done more often than annually (for the tourists), but the old forms are still followed and we can hear what actually goes on in these videos. The music and the dance tells me another reason for the ceremony apart from the health of crops. It's a community event. It's not individuals showing off.

The first one shows dancing prior to the land-diving.

Ni-Vanuatu Dancing for Naghol on Pentecost Island

Then, one of the dives. Those aren't bungee cords, they're vines. In one respect it's trickier than bungee jumping. The vines not only have to be short enough to keep the diver from hitting the ground, but they must also be long enough that the diver isn't yanked back against the tower on the rebound.

Dive to Earth - The Original Bungy Jump!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Polka of Defiance

Video Find of the Day

I got it into my head that I wanted to post a polka today. I thought, today feels like a polka to me. I found a Finnish polka, and an Al Yankovich polka. Neither felt right. Then I found this one. And I knew it was perfect. It is an allusion to something or other. About screwing, or nailing. Stuff to walls. I think you all know what I'm talking about!

Reformation Polka

A New Jag & Boast

Anitra isn't the only one who has jags. Maybe the only one who has such intense jags, but I have jags, too. My new jag is learning to make my own bread.

I've only made unleavened bread until tonight. I wanted to start out slow to give myself a chance to get used to touching raw dough. I am very sensitive about sticking my hands in goop. I consider raw dough to be goop. I know it's clean goop, but goop is goop.

Tonight, only an hour ago, I made my first loaf of leavened bread. It was a rounded ten inch by five inch by two inch loaf of 100% whole wheat honey bread. Fresh and hot, it was like warm cake.

To make it I had to reduce the amounts by a third and adjust, because the recipe would have made too much to bake in my toaster oven. In spite of the adjustments it came out beautiful.

For that is how the gods dote upon me. They do give me more than I wish they would; I tremble in terror at how I might be required someday to repay them.

I share my glory with my ingredients, the Stone-Buhr whole wheat flour, the Mel-O Pure Honey which I stole from Anitra, the salt, the egg, the yeast, the olive oil, and the lukewarm water. Their sacrifice will surely be rewarded in the next life, perhaps with a mobile form, or appendages with which to scratch itches.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Apache Dance

Video Find of the Day

A clip from a 1937 British comedy called Okay For Sound that features an over the top Apache dance routine. According to some, Apache dances are re-enactments of a specific celebrated street fight. The Wikipedia article says it's an acting out of a generic pimp & prostitute "discussion" of business matters. In some versions the woman doesn't get a lot of licks in, but this one is the exception. Bear in mind this is performance. Nobody really gets hurt unless they miss a step.

The Crazy Gang - Apache Dance

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two Cuban Dances

Video Find(s) of the Day

Two videos of Cuban dancing. The first is a beautiful solo street performance in Cuba. I love the way she mimes putting on makeup with the fan as a mirror.

Cuban Dancing Girl

The description of the next doesn't come right out and say where the video was filmed but the man dancing is Yaofei "David" Huo from Beijing, and is credited with having won a Cuban salsa championship.

Cuban Salsa Master, David Huo

I found a web address for David Huo of but all it got me was my first Chinese 404 page!

Lessons For The Growing Body

In 1st grade PE was called PT, Physical Training. There was no need for it. Every day on the playground I worked up a gallon of sweat.

At first I favored the see-saw with my wife-to-be Kathy at the other end. This didn't work out, as Kathy, as gifted as she was, couldn't grasp the fact that if the bell rings when she's at the bottom and she jumps off suddenly to go running in to class, I would come crashing down and probably suffer a new concussion.

The swings didn't work out because of swing bandits. Bigger kids would stop you, before you could get up to speed, and throw you off the swing so they could have it. A similar thing went on at the slide.

The do-it-yourself merry-go-round was only fun until you up-chucked.

So my favorite playground attraction, besides watching girls cartwheel, came to be the jungle gym. We had a lovely heavy-duty triple-decker with a kind of mini jungle gym on top. I'd climb up one side right-side-up, then keep going and climb down the other side up-side-down. There were kids who wanted to hog the jungle gym, like everything else, but they could only control the top of it. It was that big. It was so big, in fact, that it wouldn't be allowed today, because the danger from falling was so great. I'll have more to say about that as we near the end of the school year with these memoirs.

[Above: Ours was round, had thicker pipes, gravel rather than sand at the bottom, no rubber coating, and a pole from the top down the center to slide down Batman-style. Other than that, this is the basic kind of triple-decker with upper mini-gym structure I'm talking about. By the way, in the winter they had to warn us not to lick it.]

In addition to recess work our teachers also led us in physically active games. We were taken outside and taught games to do with A Tisket, A Tasket, and Ring Around The Rosie. Indoors we were led to play games like musical chairs that weren't supposed to be very physical but became so when kids got rough.

Anyway, all that sweaty exercise we were getting on the playground and in organized games wasn't enough. Our ignorant child bodies had to also be trained in a course of instruction. So we had PT classes.

There were no grades for PT, but you wouldn't know it for the way the PT teacher acted. The guy would make all of us line up in the gym room. Boys and girls both, wearing their regular clothes, would have to line up together and stand at attention while he instructed us by telling us PT related facts. Then we had to touch our toes, do jumping jacks, deep knee bends, and the like.

One day his instruction was a long discourse on how important it was to obey him because if you horsed around you could end up like one kid he had years ago who got another kid's teeth embedding in his brain. Not only did he have brain damage, the teacher said, but the kid whose teeth they were lost them, and almost bled to death out of his mouth. This was the story he told us toward the end of his lecture, after we'd already been listening to the creep for 20 minutes, at attention.

I passed out and woke up on my back to smelling salts. Kathy was leaning in among a crowd of others bent over me, showing more concern for me than she ever showed on the see-saw, strengthening my love for her.

I was seen by a nurse who tried to get at the cause of the fainting. I told her right away about the long standing at attention and the PT teacher's gruesome lecture, but she wasn't satisfied with that. She kept pressing for another explanation. Finally she asked what I'd had for lunch that day, and I had to tell her I hadn't had any. I didn't tell her that my lunch was stolen, because that would have been snitching.

My parents were called. I was turned over to them to take me home early that day. The official explanation for my fainting spell was that I was not eating enough. The PT teacher's lecture and the standing at attention weren't even mentioned to my parents, who just wanted to know why I wasn't eating the food my Mother sent me to school with.

[Below: A do-it-yourself merry-go-round my Mother might have puked from, in her day.]

Monday, October 22, 2007

Çifteli Music

Video Find of the Day

If I've got this right, this is from a 1983 folk festival in Kosovo. The musicians are Albanians from the Tropojë district of Albania, which is in the north of that country, or would like to be. The çifteli is the two-stringed instrument.

Grupi i Tropojës - Melodi me çifteli

Foundry Sand

Foundry sand, AKA green sand, or molding sand is awesome. It's a mix of fine sand, clay, and other materials that's used slightly wet. It is formulated to keep its shape better than ordinary sand and to have a smooth finish when made into a mold, to impart to the molten metal that's poured into it.

My first-grade class had a wooden bin of foundry sand. It was maybe a foot deep with 7 or 8 inches of sand in it. The bin was around 10 feet long and 3 to 4 feet wide. It had a lid that served to keep the sand from drying out overnight. The bin with the sand in it was very heavy, so it was supported by a sturdy table with thick short legs, that raised it to a convenient height for 1st-graders to work in it.

Of course it wasn't there for molten metal casting. It was a deluxe sand box. It was the best sand box I have ever played in.

We kids didn't know what was in the bin until halfway through the year when the school's roaming art teacher came in and told us we were going to do art with foundry sand. She removed the lid with help from the regular teacher and there was all that gorgeous fine malleable sand.

We kids were gathered around the bin shoulder to shoulder and shown how the sand could be molded. Seeing how well it held its shape I salivated. I had to wait for the art teacher to demonstrate how bloody artistic we could be with the stuff.

Finally she let us loose with instructions to do a joint project of constructing a sand city in the bin from end to end.

I was amazed that so many of the other kids had no idea what to do. Two-thirds just stood around waiting for someone to clarify the task, as if they didn't dare risk breaking the sand by making it in the wrong shape.

While the others watched, my area had a system of highways with under- and over-passes feeding neighborhoods with spiral cul-de-sacs. The kids next to me ceded their space so I could continue my urban vision.

While all this was going on the art teacher was at the other end of the room talking to the other teacher. By the time she got back all but four or five of the other kids in the class had given up their space to let me go wild. I'd done most of the city myself.

The art teacher looked at it with wide eyes and said it was great, but said I had to stop and let the others contribute. It was supposed to be a joint project. But the others didn't want to wreck what I had done. The art teacher couldn't hide her disappointment.

The experience left me conflicted. Usually I hated our art projects because there were too many instructions. I could follow the instructions but I didn't like the results. I didn't feel like I'd created anything. Finally we had an art project that was made for me, where there were practically no instructions. What I got to do was entirely my own idea. But I had to be reined in because I was keeping something from the others they didn't want.

I wasn't able to see the whole picture. The real lesson was lost on me because I was overwhelmed by the feeling of rejection. I did fine when the teacher was away. I had an audience even. It was many years before I could look back on it and realize that I had really found a place in art that day.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dancing Hair

Video Find of the Day

I think this is Algerian chaabi music. Not sure. My xenomania is highly aroused. What's up with the hair dancing? What's up with the striped suit? Why do these people play fiddles on their knees? Somersaults? Who is daoudia? How should I pronounce that?


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Satire, Or Just Bad Taste?

Video Find of the Day

How did I miss this for a year?

You know, I think this is satire about homeless bashing and as a homeless activist I should be really really offended at the way homeless people are associated with flesh-eating zombies.

Night of the Zombie

Friday, October 19, 2007


Video Find of the Day

Gnawa is my new word. According to the Wikipedia article of that title, "The Gnawa or Gnaoua refers at once to a style of Moroccan music with sub-Saharan Africa origins or influence, an ethnic group and religious order at least in part descended from former slaves from Sub-Saharan Africa or black Africans migrated in caravans with the Trans-Saharan trade, or a combination of both." The music is hypnotic, incorporating call & response and hand-clapping, and may have originated with healing rituals. In Morocco it has fused with other styles. Here is a fantastic video in the Gnawa style. Stay tuned for the solo dance at the end.

hamid lkessri


One of the reasons I am trying to hurry my memoirs onto this blog is that I'm 58 and feel my memory failing. I want to get everything down before I've forgotten it. I also want to have a tentative version in print that I can go back over and edit and revise as I think of things I left out, or catch mistakes. I'm using not only my memory to write these things but also media accounts of the period (to jog the memory and also place times) and the little bit of documentation I managed to save over the years. my intention is to change the original posts when i find an error, but alert the readers who care that a change is made.

In I Join A Gang I used my class photo album from first grade to get the size of my first grade class. It occurs to me now that the album included more than one class. That's more in keeping with my memory, which was that the class was big, and bigger than what the room was designed for, but not that big. Until I can nail it down I've just deleted the relevant passage.

While at it, in the previous post, Two From Morocco, I made it ululation, not uvulation. Even though I think uvulation is a fine word for it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Two From Morocco

Video Finds of the Day

Every city and town in America has a festival that is about its sense of itself. Seattle has Seafair which is about how we don't make sense to ourselves, which IS our sense of ourselves. In Morocco they have moussem. Here's one of a Berber tribe that features ululation, horses, and muskets.

Moussem/Festival of Sidi Zimri

Then there's this one, which is just too cute.

walid danse

Belated Clarification

1956 rolled in with my first grades ever. I was a disgrace. In one single grading I forever proved I would never be the student my Father had been. Did I tell you he got all As and never missed a day of school, with a plaque to prove it, in all 12 grades? With my first grade report the pressure was off to duplicate that accomplishment, and we were all about picking up the pieces and making the best of the shambles that were going to be my life.

The Federal school system, Fort Devens branch, graded on a numerical scale, 1-5, 1 being the best, 5 being the worst. So the goal would have been straight 1s. I got a 1 in only one subject, penmanship. We had two other academic subjects that were graded. In both "Reading and Literature" and Arithmetic, I got 2s, the equivalent of Bs. We were also graded in Effort, for which I got a 2, and Conduct, where I got a gentleman's 3. Probably, having belonged to a gang was not helpful in the Conduct area.

The Literature that the report card referred to, by the way, concentrated on the Dick and Jane classics. In retrospect what seems most odd was that although all the characters were white, the setting was urban. Our books were from before WWII and there were only urban settings and farm settings. There were no suburbs in our outdated reading materials. I remember one story was all about the kids sending messages back and forth over a clothesline hung between pulleys over the inner court of a tenement building. I had never seen a building like that, and had to have it described it detail.

[Below right: In spite of living in a city in the Great Depression, Dick and Jane and friends still always had plenty of greenery and the occasional white picket fence behind them.]

My Mother was very upset when she saw the report card. I should have got 1s in reading and arithmetic. She said, "Why aren't you learning anything?"

I said I'd been learning a lot.

"So why aren't didn't you get better grades?"

'You want me to get good grades?"

"At least in arithmetic! It's your best subject!"

"Why didn't you say so before?"

Nobody had ever told me before that the goal was to get good grades. All they'd said was that I was supposed to use school as an opportunity to learn.

Since there was so very little to learn anyway in the syllabus, the new instructions made more sense. I was just a little miffed that they took so long clarifying this point.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Video Find of the Day

As my childhood memoirs get into 1956 I am remembering what else went on that year. One of the things that went on was Elvis. His fame started that year beginning with the release in late January of this song.

Elvis Presley - Heartbreak Hotel 56

My Hideousness

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened when I was 6, 1955-56. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

My Mother's nocturnal visits continued. I'd estimate there were around four or five of those a month. Sometimes, as Alex, I would get up after one of the nocturnal rapes and go to sneak out of the house, to find my Father passed out on the living room floor. I'd go back to my bedroom for fear of encountering him when I returned.

One day they did catch me trying to sneak back in at dawn. I expected trouble, but I tried the obvious lie, telling them I'd only let myself out an hour earlier. Rather than the truth, that I'd been out since 1 AM. I was surprised when they bought it. They were prepared to believe that they hadn't noticed my leaving. They knew they weren't all that observant. I learned I could exploit their knowledge of their own weaknesses.

One form of inappropriate contact that increased was the way my Mother rewarded me. Other kids got cookies or candy for rewards, and grew up with eating disorders. I got my bottom petted and grew up sexually confused.

One time there was a drunken party in the Sun Porch, with twenty or more officers and their wives packed in, and it was my bedtime. I was able to undress myself by then and get into pajamas by myself. I came in to see my Mother in my pajamas and told her I was ready to be tucked in. She said she was too drunk to get up and go to my bedroom, and then she turned me around and pulled my pajama bottoms down in front of everyone at the party and pet me. Everyone in front of me dropped jaws seeing this, and I was too young and clueless to know why. I thought they were disgusted by my body. I had no idea that they were shocked by my Mother's behavior. I went to bed thinking I was hideously deformed. No one said anything to my Mother about it, that I could hear.

Another ongoing inappropriate practice was the genital fondling. My Mother continued to insist that I needed my genitals fondled on a regular basis, about once every three days, in order to keep me healthy. How she arrived at three days I don't know, but all the evidence points to that as being how often she herself liked to have sex, so she was probably projecting her desires on to me.

The fondling didn't bother me at the time, and I in fact liked it. She even got me to remind her whenever she missed a session. One time I had just gotten up and was still in my pajamas when I remembered it had been four days since the last fondling. I told her as she was vacuuming the Sun Porch, and she cheerfully stopped and took care of my "need."

If the object really was to eliminate my need for sex she did it all wrong. She always stopped a half minute or so after I began to show signs of arousal, saying that was enough. The effect wasn't to produce any relief but to tease me and make me think about sex constantly.

That's in fact what I did. I spent hours every day day dreaming about rolling around naked with girls my own age. My plan to kiss all of the girls in first grade was supposed to be stage one of a prolonged systematic plan to get a room full of girls to take all their clothes off, form a pile, and let me dive in. A lot of this day dreaming was probably driven by my desire to distance my sexual desires from my Mother, by diverting them elsewhere.

One other form of sexual molestation that I did NOT enjoy started up that year.

My Mother claimed to have a bad headache one afternoon. School was out that day but my Father was at work. The weather was bad so I had to be indoors. She told me she would reward me if I played quietly by myself for three hours. At the end of three hours she had me go with her to her bedroom for a "special" reward. The reward started out the normal reward. She took my pants down and petted my rear. Then she gave me enemas. Not one but many, so many that I lost count.

At first they would just be uncomfortable and embarrassing. But after the fourth or fifth enema I'd have involuntary physical/sexual responses that I couldn't interpret at that age, that were terrifying to me. As they continued they became more extreme and I became delirious and lost control of my bladder, at which point my Mother screamed and beat me, as if it were MY fault.

It was just the first time she resorted to multiple enemas. She used it later sometimes to get herself off on my responses and my distress, other times simply as a torture technique, as she began to at least acknowledge that I hated it.

I'm sure most people would understand how the enema sessions could have been traumatic for me and therefore fueled my later symptoms of PTSD. Actually though, the inappropriate touching that DIDN'T cause severe trauma at the time has been harder to deal with over the years.

Most public discussion of PTSD misses the key point that trauma can be delayed as well as the reactions to it. It's possible for an event to be meaningless to the child to be meaningful and disturbing to the adult who remembers it, and that later disturbance can result in the stress disorder.

Even though I believed it was totally wrong for a mother to fondle her son's genitals when I was 20, It wasn't until I was 35 that it suddenly occurred to me, while I was talking about it to a therapist, that it was wrong when my Mother did it to me, too. Before that, it was just a general rule that I'd never applied to her. I hadn't repressed any memories of it, I had just walled off the part my mind that knew it was a betrayal, because I couldn't face that conscious awareness of that much betrayal.

Whereas I had by then been well used to facing the betrayals represented by the enemas. That was old by then.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nagasaki - Not!

Video Find of the Day

First, Puccini set Madam Butterfly in Nagasaki. Then this song, "Nagasaki" was written, in 1928:

Hot ginger and dynamite
There's nothing but that at night.
Back in Nagasaki where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky woo.

The way they can entertain
Would hurry a hurricane.
Back in Nagasaki where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky woo.

In Fujiyama you get a mommer
And your troubles increase.
In some pagoda she orders soda
The earth shakes milk shakes ten cents a piece.

They kissee and huggee nice
By jingo it's worth the price.
Back in Nagasaki where the fellers chew tobaccy
And the women wicky wacky woo.

-- This is not about the city we bombed. It's about our own fantasies of the exotic, and as always, the exotic is about us.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Video Find of the Day

My favorite excerpt from West Side Story. The song and the dialog leading into it is all brilliant. "There [in Puerto Rico] we had nothing" -- "Now we still have nothing, only more expensive." Perfect.

West Side Story-America

Social Development

My relationships in grade school took an abrupt new direction when I finally learned to tie my own shoes. It was sometime into November, the weather was getting chilly, when the whole chasing the rabbit through the hole clicked.

Immediately, I told Dave I didn't want to be in his gang anymore, and I hoped he wouldn't mind. I was really getting tired of standing along the sidelines watching the other gang members harass someone. Besides, Dave had annoyed me by telling me that my imaginary friend George wasn't real. I knew he wasn't real. That's what "imaginary" means. Duh. But he didn't have to rub my face in the fact that my best friend wasn't real.

To Dave's credit, I wasn't given a goodbye beating. A lot of gang leaders would have arranged one. Maybe he was too new to the business. Maybe by the time he was a teenager and more experienced he would have learned to incorporate those little finesses that define gangdom to the connoisseur. When he wasn't in jail.

Not being part of the dominant gang did mean that my lunch began to be stolen from me regularly. Not by the old gang members, Dave wouldn't allow that. But by other kids that would have stolen my lunch before but had been afraid of Dave's guys.

On the other hand, girls liked me more. I was independent. I went my own way. I didn't have to come running when Dave called. I could tie my own shoes.

Meanwhile, Kathy, the wife-to-be who was placed in second grade, got put in a different class that took a separate lunch time, so we now never saw each other at school. The move had something to do with her being a disciplinary case. I don't recall if she was put back into the other first grade class or what. My parents claimed they knew it was bound to happen -- that was why they didn't let me skip a grade. But I was a disciplinary problem, too!

Anyway, I was therefore lonely for female company. And, at that time, I had no abstract concept of faithfulness. I could be engaged to marry Kathy, that didn't mean I couldn't kiss and hug anybody else. I mean, it was just kissing and hugging. I wasn't marrying any of them. If they'd let me and I knew how, I could have had intercourse with them and it wouldn't have occurred to me that I was cheating on Kathy in any way. The only way I could violate a trust was to promise myself in marriage to another girl.

So I spent more and more time with the girls, getting to know them, and asking for kisses and hugs. Even after I told them I was promised in marriage to another, very few girls turned me down.

An unfortunate incident occurred. A new girl arrived who was gorgeous. I hit up on her at a recess. I got so wrapped up in flirting with her I didn't notice the first warning bell to end recess. By the time the second bell rang I was sucking her face and had a hand halfway up her thigh, and without looking around said, "That's just the warning, we still have five more minutes." Then, after what I thought was five minutes more, but was possibly closer to thirty, I peeled myself away and looked around expecting to see some other stranglers, but there were none.

I was late getting in from recess often, but never this late, and never with a disheveled girl in tow. When we tried to sneak into the classroom the teacher caught us, screamed liked she'd seen a nest of rats, and dragged us to the principal's office, who yelled at me more, threatening to call in my parents.

Apparently they suspected us of fluid exchanges, we'd been so late. I didn't know what the hell they were going on about. I had done everything I could think of to do with her, and none of that was what they were on about, so I wasn't able to confess anything more.

Finally the principal calmed down and deposited us back in classroom. I felt terrible for having ruined my new friend's first day in the class by dragging her down to my level of delinquency.

The principal did call my parents and told them to talk to me. I had to face the same weird questions over again from them. It wasn't quite so bad, because they had trouble with the idea that I shouldn't be liking girls so much.

The result of it all was that I lay low for about two weeks and thought carefully about my previous behavior. I concluded after long deliberate consideration that I hadn't done anything wrong but that I should be more systematic in the future. I decided to see if I could kiss every girl in my first grade class by the end of the year without getting caught.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

'55 Hit

Video Find of the Day

One of the big hits of 1955 was Memories Are Made Of This by Dean Martin and the Easy Riders. Yes! The Easy Riders. The Wikipedia article about the song says it was adapted into a Hungarian song called "Honvágy-dal", an unofficial anthem of the refugees from the '56 Hungarian Revolt. I haven't found that one yet, but I'll keep looking.

Dean Martin

Mandatory Prayer

My first grade school didn't have semesters or quarters or trimesters. It had, I don't know, quinters? Quintesters? Pentaresters?

Anyway we had five grading periods. They ended with the last school days respectively of October, December, February, April, and June.

Since our first grade was our first grade ever, we were all cut slack for the first Sept. & Oct. grading period. We were not graded. Instead school was generally a fun get-together, learn to socialize, fun fest. Each class would start with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord's Prayer. There was a little guided instruction in arithmetic, which I considered lame, some spelling drill, which I also didn't need, and loads of games and art sessions during which I ignored all instructions.

About the Pledge of Allegiance and the prayer: We were told that we couldn't be made to recite the Pledge. Some of the other kids knew what that was about. They explained that you could be a patriotic American or you could be a Jehovah's Witness. I wanted to be a Jehovah's Witness but I didn't know how to fake it, so I faked knowing the words to the Pledge instead.

I think it's interesting that both my first grade teacher and later my second grade teacher refused to lead us in the revised Eisenhower Pledge with the "under god" insertion. They balked for the reason it wasn't traditional. They were even older than 1936-born Congressman Jim McDermott, who famously hasn't got used to the new way.

When it came to the Lord's Prayer there was no conscientious objecting. You had to join in. This was a problem for me, because I never heard it before. At least I'd heard the Pledge, without having learned it. The Lord's Prayer was just complete news to me. My parents, I learned later, recited it every Sunday in church. But I had never joined them in church, and they never had reason to recite it at home. Once a week in church was enough.

WTF, WTF? Give us our daily bread? Our cup runneth over? Who talks like that? Who lets their cup run over? I get yelled at when I spill my cup. Runneth over with what? Who are all these trespassers? They're not going to get forgiven around here, they're gonna get SHOT.

The teachers didn't notice that I was just mumbling the words. The other kids did. That was enough for me to have to hear that I wasn't a good Christian.

I was for the Bible school. I wanted to learn about this Christianity thing I was supposed to be a part of. But it was hard to take that I was already going to be a bad Christian when I was still learning. I was still ready to give it a chance, but the seeds of my rejection of Christianity were there, partly sown by the Fundamentalist's dream of mandatory school prayers, partly by knowing that there was an alternative.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Video Find(s) of the Day

Here's a couple of the videos I found when I was looking for military cadences. The first is a US Army Ranger song that clearly has been influenced by over-exposure to Elvis impersonators. But it's still Super-Duper!

Running Cadences-US Army Rangers

This next one is a cool medley by a guy accompanying himself with guitar so it's more melodious than usual. Also well enunciated. I love the bit about Superman. Posting it here is in no way an endorsement of his ask for monetary donations. I don't think that's allowed on Blogger. Just listen to his pitch and if you have to send him a dollar that's your own disease. Honestly, I'd send him one, but I'm way too poor.

Double Time, March -

Friday, October 12, 2007

It Ain't Proper English

Video Find of the Day

A blast from 1958 or thereabouts, thanks to weirdovideos. This song couldn't have got much radio play in the late Fifties, on account of using the bad word, "ain't."

It Ain't Right - Gordon Terry

I Join A Gang

First grade in Fort Devens happened at a school on base. Unlike the kindergarten, the grade school had a large playground and a gym. I believe there were 4 classrooms, two for first grade, two for second grade. It was a federal school. Children in higher grades were sent to a public school off base, in Ayer.

Of course, I was a baby boomer. There were always too many of us, all through my education, in public school, and in college. So there were too many of us when we all appeared for the first day to be sorted out. All the new incoming pupils had to mass in the playground area with parents or guardians and wait to be processed and given temporary assignments to classrooms. I think I had my first experience of agoraphobia that day. The crowd was overwhelming.

Initially my future wife-to-be Kathy and I were assigned to the same first grade class. Our teacher was named Parent. I thought that was weird. She was a nice woman.

The first few days were spent impressing upon us the importance of a test coming up and cluing us in to the testing procedure. There was multiple choice practice, so we got used to that sort of thing. Then there was a long test, or actually a sequence of tests. It was in fact an IQ test.

We weren't allowed to know the raw scores, but on the basis of the scores some of the kids were offered placement one year ahead, in the second grade. Kathy and I both were granted that opportunity to skip first grade, on account of acing the IQ test.

Kathy's parents went for it. My parents decided that I needed to stay back in the first grade with children my own age, because that would be better in terms of getting me properly "socialized."

So after one week Kathy and I were split up. It was probably for the best. During that first week we spent every free minute we had smooching and hugging, and completely disregarding anybody who had a problem with it, including Miss or Mrs. Parent. And we were still able to get together on the playground during recesses.

Because we were army brats the students that finished the year were not those who started it. Families moved away and were replaced by others all year round. I'd estimate about 10 left, and about 10 replaced them.

There were other kinds of attrition. At least one girl died of pneumonia. At least one boy was suspended for bad conduct. His name was Dave. That bad boy was my best buddy.

Dave organized a schoolyard gang. His peeps ran the playground. They stole lunches from the dorky kids. They made fun of the creeps and freaks. They ran from one end of the playground to the other, every lunch and recess, threatening anyone with whippings who didn't acknowledge their ruler-ship .

But Dave was not a bad kid. If you accepted his ascendancy you could be his friend and he would protect you.

Remember, I couldn't tie my own shoes yet. I also couldn't dress and undress myself. That was still the case. In the classroom Miss or Mrs. Parent and her assistants could take care of the shoelaces. Miss or Mrs. Parent also made special trips to the bathroom with me to help me.

Dave's first reaction to that was to decide I was a retard. He could tie his own shoes and he didn't need special help going to the bathroom. But when I told him I wanted to join his gang he only asked me if I would be loyal and obedient. When I said yes I was accepted, with all my flaws, and Dave personally took care of my shoelaces on the playground.

So I socialized very well, didn't I? The social landscape was harsh, but could be worked!

American Football Is Gay

Sometimes, as a big football contest is approaching, people say things to me, like, "so Wes, who do you want to win the big game?" And I used to say things like, I don't give a crap.

Then they would spend the next fifteen minutes to an hour telling me how I am a failure as a human being because I don't have an interest in football. (Or any other spectator sport, except women's single figure skating and women's single nude gymnastics.)

Being that sort of person that I am, I got tired of always being the one on the receiving end of the criticism. So rather than say I don't give a crap about football, I now instead say Football Is Gay.

Now, the truth is, I don't think football is gay. But I do KNOW that every guy who insists I'm a failure as a human being for not liking football is a raging homophobe.

Sure enough, almost every time I say football is gay, even people who know me well enough to know better protest vehemently. They walk right into a Football Is Gay diatribe, by demanding to know how I could say such a thing. (If they weren't such big loser homophobes they would just say, "So?")

If you want to play along, here are some of the high points of the diatribe.

Tight Ends. Just anyone can't be a Tight End. It takes talent. It requires flexibility. You have to be able to block OR receive. Good practice: on your dates with your boyfriends, alternate as butch or fem.

Of course all football players live for the chance to handle a ball. Some of them, like these, practice for hours dancing around, handling balls. Note that these players have been practicing so long their balls are blue. Hey guys, the trick for preventing that is to let the balls drop gently before "rushing to the next play."

In the picture below we see the main reason women and gays love football. Men in tight pants freely displaying themselves squatting and bending over.

Football fans point to cheerleaders as proof that football is not gay. But these women are not allowed anywhere near the huddles. They are the fag hags of football. When a player does well do any of these women pat him on the butt? Hell, no! It'll be one of their gay team-mates every time! And the fag hags will cheer them both on!

Maybe this wavehead isn't gay. BUT HE'S PROUD TO BE A FUCKING WAVEHEAD?

Seriously, football isn't gay. But here's graphic proof of how homophobic it is. Look at this picture that shows how a typical center sees himself. A lone lion on the field ready to snap the ball to no one in particular and win the game all by his ferocious own self.

Compare that to the reality, and recognize that the denial can only be explained by a refusal to admit that the job entails a hand up your crotch every five minutes, and you're just one boy in a field of 22, all taking turns rolling around in the grass on top of each other.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Benny & Blanc

Video Find(s) of the Day

Jack Benny and Mel Blanc together. In the first video they do a routine that ran almost entirely on timing. They did this routine with slight variation over and over again on both the Jack Benny radio show and the TV show. Benny does long takes between questions asked of Si, the Mel Blanc character. Si always answers each question immediately, sometimes while it's being asked.

Jack Benny - Mel Blanc Classic Routine

This one is fueled by Jack Benny's exaggerated persona, and Mel Blanc's exaggerated reaction. The skit reminds me of a lot of stuff on SNL, except of course that the suicide happens off-stage.

Jack Benny Kills Mel Blanc

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Drum Team

Video Find of the Day

One of the benefits of being an army brat is all the entertainment. Five days a week and sometimes more we had enlisted men marched past our housing area chanting cadence. I was looking for videos of that, and found some, which we'll see later, when I landed on this video of a Swiss drum team. That was another way we kids were entertained. Every once in a while there'd be a formal ceremony on the big marching field. Or a rehearsal for one. We could get up close and follow the marchers around, or just listen to the drummers.

Some people see only the military or patriotic coloring. To me, it's music.


The Swimming Lesson

I don't remember when my Father was promoted to Major, but I know it was while we lived on base at Fort Devens, and I know it happened before the end of summer 1955, because of the swimming class incident.

Periodically I would try to find ways to patch things up with my Father. The usual plan was to ask that he teach me something I knew he wanted me to know anyway. I knew he wanted me to be able to swim, so I asked him to teach me. Actually I didn't ask him directly, but I asked my Mother to pass the request along.

In August 1955 my parents told me to get in the car and my Father said, "We're going to teach you how to swim." He said it just like that. WE will teach you. Not somebody will teach you.

They drove me to a small lake nearby called Robbins Pond. We could have walked there in fifteen minutes. The lake was/is shaped roughly like a strawberry viewed on its side and about 1000 feet across the long way. At the big end of the strawberry there were facilities for swimmers, including a bathhouse, and a diving platform. I knew I was being screwed again when we drove up and I saw a couple dozen other boys within two or three years of my age.

I was taken into the bathhouse and changed into swimming trunks I didn't know I had. There had been some real planning behind this operation. Then I was taken out and handed over to Private so-and-so, who dutifully saluted my Father, who had made a point of being in uniform so the kid would know he was responsible for a Major's son. The Private didn't really seem to care, the salute was just a formality.

Ever since my Mother had held my head under the faucet back in Schofield Barracks (The Screaming) I had a fear of submersion. I was terrified of drowning. So the only way I could be motivated to put that fear aside and ask to be taught to swim was with the understanding that it would help me patch things up with my Father. If that wasn't going to happen, suddenly there was no motivation. All I had left was panic, with no reward for getting through it.

But my parents drove off and left me there, so it looked like there was no way out.

The instruction began with "getting us used to the water." Our instructor had all but one of the kids stand in shallow water up to the tops of their feet. Then the remaining boy crawled from behind through the others' legs and took a place at the front, and the boy that was last crawled through to the front, and so on. When everyone had crawled through, the whole line was moved to deeper water, so the water was now to everyone's knees.

I made it through those rounds by more or less "cheating." I wouldn't have called it that. I would have called it "not drowning." But the Private said it was cheating to hold my head out of the water the whole time. I was supposed to get my face in it. That was the point of the exercise. I thought he was supposed to help me with that, instead of just order me to do it, so i could find out I couldn't.

The third round he had everybody stand in waist deep water and front to back so in order to pass between all the legs it was necessary to stay under the entire way. I refused.

The Private ordered me to do it. I said no. I wasn't putting my head in the water. I could drown. Most of the other kids laughed at me, although a few tried to help by offering advice. "Pinch your nose." "Dunk your head quick the first time, then do it longer." The Private just got pissed. He probably was thinking, "Oh great, the one kid I can't teach and it has to be an arrogant Major's brat." He tried shouting at me.

One really great thing about having abusive parents is it really prepares you for abusive strangers. Some stranger starts screaming at you, and you think, what's this bonehead going to do to me my own parents haven't already done? I may have even laughed at the poor guy.

Finally he seemed to give up. The class continued without me. I sat it out on the beach thinking it was all over except for the ride home in disgrace.

Then the Private announced that it was time for the final exam of the day. This first of three or four classes was to end with a test of what we had learned, namely to confidently hold our heads under water for as long as we were told. I was made to line up with everyone else in waist deep water and he tested each of us one by one. When it was my turn he ordered me to put my head under. I refused. He ordered me again. I started to say no again, but as I was opening my mouth to say it, he grabbed my head and shoved me under. I took water in immediately because my mouth had been open.

I hadn't had a chance to take a breath. I struggled against him, but what could I do. I was six, he was a full grown man, and an athlete.

Just when i thought I couldn't hold my breath anymore, he raised my head up. As I gasped for breath he screamed something at me. Something like, "NOW YOU'RE GOING TO DO WHAT YOU'RE TOLD!"

Then he shoved me back in, again as my mouth was open, trying to get air as fast as I could.

This time he held me down so long I couldn't hold my breath anymore. I released air and started swallowing water.

When he let me up the next time I twisted away from him and waded to the shore, where I fell on my knees and vomited up water.

That was the scene when my parents drove up. The Private couldn't have been in more trouble.

After that there was no more talk about me wanting to learn how to swim. I eventually overcame the phobia. I succeeded in holding my own head under water at age 21 and thereafter, without further assistance; thank everyone for all your patience.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Officer Krupke

Video Find of the Day

I've met 20-year olds who can sing songs from West Side Story. I don't know why it would be necessary for me to promote it. I'm just putting it here in the interest of further exposing my tastes.

I Become Racist

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened late July or early August, 1955, after my 6th birthday. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

After Bible School there was a period of great summer childhood, with nothing particular to do day after sunny balmy day on an army base surrounded by ten acres of well kept lawn and isolated trees, except to run around barefoot trying to make friends with the other kids that would have it, and meanwhile watching clouds glide over the whole thing.

Oh, yeah, and the Davy Crockett craze was in full swing, so I had to have a coonskin cap. There was a lot of Injun killing involved. Nobody wanted to be the Injun that got killed, so we had to all take turns at it.

Now that's odd, because I was accustomed to thinking of myself as white on the outside but red on the inside. Hawaiian Natives, I don't remember if I already mentioned it but I should have, may look golden skinned to the white folk, but in their own minds they're red. Injuns, on the other hand, were always red, in everyone's book. So why would I mind being an Injun?

Well, it's obvious isn't it? Injuns were a fictitious and/or historic race that were always the bad guys on TV and in movies. They only existed to me as villains.

That's not racism. That's just innocence. I got out of that mindset as soon as I got to know real Native Americans.

But one day I had an experience that made a real racist out of me. I was wandering around by myself and I encountered a Black kid my age. I had seen Blacks before. There were Black girls in my Kindergarten class. But I could not believe how black this kid was.

I'd been taught not to stare at people who look different from me. So I didn't say anything about how black the kid was. We introduced ourselves to each other as kids do (Hi! My name's Wes! What's yours? I think he said Jackson), and then we found some game we both liked to play, and it was cool.

After an hour or so my new Black friend said he wanted me to meet his Mom and Dad and his brothers and sisters.

I should have said, this was a Sunday afternoon. Fort Devens had a strict rule that no one should drop in on anyone's house on Sundays, and no one should invite anyone over. The idea was, people who needed a day of rest from socializing wouldn't get it, by being too nice to not invite people over. The base commanding general himself ordered that people stay out of each others houses on Sundays, for there own good.

It was a very good rule, as was proved in the breaking of it. I went to my new friend's house precisely for the reason that the rule was devised, namely, to not hurt the inviter's feelings. Besides, Jackson already broke the rule by asking me, so I didn't break it first.

So we waded into Jackson's living room. They were all as black as he is! There were tons of them! It was like the Mother Nest!

Nobody said anything about the No Sunday Socializing Rule. I enjoyed talking to Jackson's parents. They were nice fun people. I was really happy to meet such good friends.

Later, when I got home I told my Mother I found a new friend, and he was really, really, black, and he took me to meet his family and...


I thought she was being a little crazy. So I didn't argue with her. I just nodded and said, yes Mommy, I shouldn't have gone to see them. I knew I broke the Sunday Rule. I promised never to do it again.

The next morning I woke up with crease marks all over my chest. You know how when you sleep on wrinkly sheets you get crease marks all over where the wrinkles were? I had that. Only I'd never noticed having it before.

Suddenly it dawned on me! That's why my Mother got so over the top about me breaking the Sunday Rule! It wasn't the breaking of the Sunday Rule that had her upset, it was that they were black!

It's contagious!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Another Gospel Music

Video Find of the Day

A 22 and a half minute documentary on Baul, a Bengali cult of wandering minstrels bringing ecstatic music wherever they go.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Tahitian Dance Lessons

Video Find of the Day

A lesson in traditional Tahitian dance for women. If you watch this long enough you will know all the important moves to make when you are dancing! All you have to do is learn Tahitian to understand the instructions!

Tamouré pour Vahiné en une leçon

A lesson in traditional Tahitian dance for men. If you watch this long enough you will know all the important moves to make when you are dancing! All you have to do is learn Tahitian to understand the instructions!

Tamouré pour Tane en une leçon

Captain Jesus

In Seattle the relatives wanted to know how my spiritual education was proceeding. I didn't know what that meant. My parents went to church every Sunday but the Army chapel had a day-care for young children like me that were thought to likely be too disruptive for the services.

But when we got back from Seattle my parents decided to put me in a Bible class. The class had already been in progress for a couple of weeks. I was entered into it in the middle. This was par for the course. I was stuck with a bunch of kids who were more Christian than I was because they started the class at the beginning. Stuff like this went on throughout my childhood. It comes with being an army brat. You're always late for the start of the program. The other kids think they will always know more than you will. You have to prove them wrong, by coming up from behind.

I was determined to get more Jesus knowledge than all those snots put together. I dove into the Bible reader and read four weeks of lessons in one, and by the end of the course I was the smart-ass in the class with his hand up all the time.

At the end of it all, all I got was this lousy certificate. WTF? Since when is Jesus a sailor? Since when am I a sailor? And if I'm so well trained, why is Jesus still standing there? Doesn't graduating mean I can do it myself now? Someone then told me that the Christian way was to let Jesus into your HEART and guide you in all your life.

That can't be right, I thought. If Jesus is going to live my life for me, why am I here? What do I need with a divine parasite in my heart, telling me where to go and what to do?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

New magic Word

Video Find of the Day

-- and the magic word is Căluş. Or Căluşari. The root word is the Romanian word for horse. What we have here is the kind of dancing associated with horsemen off their horses. I think I may have figured out why white people are said to not be able to dance. It's that whole horse culture thang. For two or three thousand years we didn't dance as well as our horses.

Calusul Oltenesc

I like this Căluş-style cimbalon music better.

CimbaliBand - Doina Ascultare si Calus

Road Trip IV

My 6th birthday was celebrated in the living room of my Uncle Fred's house, on Beacon Hill in Seattle. The only thing I remember of note was that I was more interested in the stuff lying around Fred's house than any presents I got, to the annoyance of my parents. I spent the most time with a coffee table book put out by Life Magazine whose title was something all encompassing like The World, The Universe, and Everything, or something like that, that displayed lots of beautiful color paintings of teaming wildlife in all sorts of periods of natural history.

I also played a lot with Fred's poker chips. I liked to stack and re-stack them, creating colored patterns, like these. I thought of each pattern as a visual drum rhythm. I've never cared for poker.

The trip back to Massachusetts seemed to go much faster than the trip out, in my memory. I think that's because we were followed east by a storm that meant there was little to look at but rain washing down the windows and windshield wiper action for hours at a time. I'm sure it all went very slowly while it was happening, but looking back on it there were no outstanding events to spread the time out.

When we got back to Fort Devens the weather cleared. My parents were pretty disgusted.

It occurs to me that I haven't mentioned anything about sexual abuse during the trip. People might get the impression that a moratorium was called. Actually, since I still needed assistance dressing and undressing, and my Mother insisted on giving me baths, there were the same opportunities there were at home. So nothing really changed. There were no long distressing sessions because my father was generally in the next room and would hear if I cried out. But there was still a lot of fleeting inappropriate touching.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Haitian Drums

Video Find of the Day

Sounds great to me... maybe slightly out of synch but not as bad as some I've been looking at.

Folkloric Haitian drum ensemble

Mining Mental Illness

A couple of days ago a man pulled a gun on his psychiatrist at an office building in Seattle's Lower Queen Anne district. Then he crossed town and jumped to his death from the West Seattle Bridge. I missed the local papers' account of it and learned about it instead Oct. 4 at Furious Seasons.

I wasn't surprised by it at all. Seattle has had a high suicide rate as far back as I can remember, at least since the 60s. Jumping off bridges is one of the more effective methods.

Then I found out which building it was that the confrontation with the psychiatrist occurred, and I recognized it. The address is 200 W. Mercer St. That building is very familiar to me.

When I needed state aid for disability due to mental illness in 1988 and 1998, and subsequently whenever the state wanted to confirm that I was still disabled, I was sent to psychiatrists for evaluations to determine the nature and degree of my disability.

I was always sent to 200 W. Mercer St.

In 1988, the interview was 40 minutes and I was approved for benefits. But I found out later that the diagnosis, out of that 40 minutes, was way off. I was diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder, apparently just because when I was asked if I had any close friends I said, "No." Well, I'd just been homeless. He never gave me a chance to talk about that.

I thought that was pretty cheesy. But the 3 times I was sent to 200 W. Mercer St. from 1998 onward showed how much worse it could be. Each of those times I was seen for only 20 minutes. I noticed that I was meeting these guys as other "clients" were on their way out.

Evidently the psychiatrists I saw were seeing people on an assembly-line schedule. 20 minutes for each, with little time between visits. They were probably all evaluations for the Department of Social and Health Services.

In 20 minutes, there's no time to tell a psychiatrist your background. You just have time to tell them your name, age, and weight, what drugs you're taking and not taking, and to give a rough description of your symptoms.

Not one of them was able to diagnose PTSD. In all my dealings with DSHS the diagnosis has been either borderline personality disorder or schizoid personality disorder, neither of which even remotely applies to me.

Those diagnoses weren't accurate for the simple reason that they were made too hastily. They were made hastily because the psychiatrists at that building who were doing evaluations for DSHS figured they could make the most money by cutting corners and dealing with DSHS referrals on an assembly-line basis.

Given my own experiences with the psychiatrists who work out of 200 W. Mercer St., I can't help but think it likely that the man who pulled the gun on one of them and then killed himself may have had cause.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

70 Years of Shagging

Video Find of the Day

Recently I discovered that there is a whole shagging subculture out there. There are shag concerts, shag jams, shag orgies, shag professionals, shag amateurs, even shag carpets!

70 years ago it looked like this.

Arthur Murray teaching/demo Collegiate Shag (1937)

Nowadays it looks modern, with modern dress, and modern college kids -- and scratchy black & white?

Collegiate Shag Jam 2007

Me 1, Stoops 0

I've long had a disagreement with Michael Stoops. Michael has directed the National Coalition for the Homeless for eons and has been a strong advocate for hate crime legislation to protect homeless people. When I ran into him at a speaking gig at Seattle University a few years ago I told him he'd get much better results if he stopped calling them hate crimes and started calling them what they are, terrorist acts against the homeless population.

Last week the Senate successfully attached a hate crimes rider protecting people of maligned sexual orientations and gender choices, as well as disabled people, to the war funding bill. It may be vetoed. But getting it in a bill in national legislation at all was a major success. And that success has in part been credited to the fact that the bill's sponsors characterized it as anti-terrorist legislation.

Last night I listened to a podcast of Bill Maher's HBO Friday night show. You would think that in commenting about the legislation, Bill Maher, a raging liberal, would have been all for it, but it turns out he hadn't heard that it was about terrorism. Neither had his pro-hate crimes laws guests. So there was again the silly argument, stoked by Maher, to the effect, "What are we doing making an emotion illegal?" Which is precisely the argument you undercut when you recognize that it's terrorism against a segment of the population that you are addressing, not the emotions felt toward them as the crimes are committed. You can have your hate, just don't commit acts designed to terrorize whole demographics.

Meanwhile, Dan Savage appeared on the Stephen Colbert Show and got it right, referring to hate crimes against gays as terrorism. He also almost told Stephen Colbert how laws against terrorism against gays also protected heterosexuals like Stephen Colbert, but Colbert changed the subject. I would have told him a lot of people think his marriage is either fictional or a marriage of convenience. He's too pretty to be straight.

Of the three of us Colbert looks the gayest. If you didn't know better you'd think Savage was an off-duty GI in Iraq, or a gay-basher himself. I don't look gay, I look like a satisfied pig farmer.

Anyway, I hope other homeless activists are alert and noticing what works.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Watts Towers

Video Find of the Day

I've never seen the Watts Towers up close. I only know them from pictures. I like what I've seen, though.

This 1957 documentary might have an accidental creepy feel to it because the music sounds a bit like the Twilight Zone theme. I looked up the composer and found that IMDB doesn't know about his contribution to this documentary, but they do know that he wrote the music for a couple of Mister Magoo cartoons.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Video Find of the Day

Samoans rock! Sibilants and all!


Monday, October 1, 2007

Bim Bam Boom

Video Find of the Day

I haven't posted a clip from my favorite movie of all time since June 4. That and only that justifies this.