Category Archives: VOICE

I Write Because I Must

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Taken In Amalfi, Italy

Writing Bears Witness by RPM

Writing bears witness…What writing brings to my life is clarity and tenderness…it gives me a place to pour out my emotions… to say, I really miss my dad or my mom or my dog….it keeps me sane.

One of the reasons that I must write is that, in a thousand little ways, writing keeps me from abandoning myself.  I often feel that my writing is like a cherished best friend who cherishes me and has only my best interests at heart.  I usually write when I have something that I need to figure out or sort through.

Writing can be naughty – an act of self-possession.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Writing is about energy, about perfect imperfection, about humanity.

Yes, I write because I must!

I Am Missing You

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Photo by Aphrodite/Flikr

Photo by Aphrodite/Flikr

My “I” stands lonely

like an isolated tree in a swamp.

This landscape is denuded.

Okay, I am lying about that!

It is spring.

The lilacs are blooming.

Along with tulips, forsythia

and nisaburo ito.

Through cracks in the sidewalks of sterility,

Dandelions and daisies emerge –

A full company is here.

All of them stand like a church

Without its steeple.

Incomplete…

You are my people.

OUR LETTERS MUST BE READ

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letters_mailJuly, 2011

Now I get it!  It’s sad that when it comes to passion, hysteria (evoked by true passion) has gone out of style.   The world has become superficial.  There are no more “masters.”  Your work has an ability to grab folks where they live and “shake” them.  It’s edgy and it’s in-your-face.  Most people can’t deal.  It either brings out their worst traits (greed, avarice, envy…) or makes them feel as though someone/thing has been thrown into them, crawled through their psyche and swum through their soul…either way, your “derangement” is totally wasted –ends up bringing you grief, misery or abject “pissed-off-itude” until you find a way back to “sanity” by telling them to fuck-off and the project becomes a way to keep the creative genius alive…to verify he exists… to feed the spirit…and it gets better (I did see the difference between earlier and later episodes.)

What you also need (well, what I need)…what I’ve always needed…is to find a soul somewhere with whom to share something in common.  I’m beginning to fear that I’ll be forced to live out my life alone…in a dreamlike state, yearning for more than is really there.  I can’t allow myself to believe that’s true yet.

HOWEVER…

Sanity, while over-rated, I suppose, does have its own rewards.  With a little serenity (as I prefer to call it,) you can take on a new client or task and remain in control.  When that becomes burdensome, you can always lose your mind for a second or two.  I do it all of the time (that is one of my stabilizers!)  When you get back, rest assured, the ingrates are waiting because while you’ve been gone and they’ve had to do it on their own they’ve discovered, if they have a keen business sense, where their talents really lie.

Unfortunately, a keen business sense seems to go hand-in-hand with having a knack for discovering a weakness in others and preying on it for personal gain.

BUT…

you recognize that trait in them and are beyond their control.  So, they can’t get to you now (well, maybe a little, but only in the weaker moments) or cause you any lasting damage.  You just might find a way to turn the tables on them.  True talent MUST prevail.

And you have true talent, Harry.  –r Read the rest of this entry

OUR CHILDREN ARE A REFLECTION OF OURSELVES

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I felt compelled to share this essay by my friend, Helen L. Burleson, Doctor of Public Administration
There was Littleton’s Columbine, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech and now Aurora’s Century 16 theater. Daily on the streets of Chicago and major cities throughout the U S children, especially boys, are killing each other. All of these tragedies have one thing in common – hatred and meanness. There is a culture of hatred within the fiber and fabric of America. Our children not only hate others, they hate themselves. This is the disease, hatred, that is so pervasive in America. Violence is a byproduct of hatred. Let’s get to the root cause. In order for the 1% to exploit all of us, Black, white, Christians and Jews, they have kept us separated for control over us. Scott Walker was caught on tape iterating their philosophy, “DIVIDE AND CONQUER.” As the venerable Nelson Mandela says, children are not born hating, they are taught to hate. When Senator Mitch McConnell says, “our main goal is to make certain that Obama is a one term president,”  we have to ask the question, Why?
Racism is the underlying and root cause of the majority of hatred in this country; and, once a Black man or a mixed race man became President of the United States, all gloves were off. Just as LGBT people feel more comfortable coming out of the closet, the racists feel freer to express their racial hatred. What is the disease of racism that has affected generations of Americans – it is the illogical hatred of an ethnic, or easily identifiable racial group of people. Whenever we exhibit or practice irrational behavior, the pattern sets in and is passed down from generation to generation as factual. Those in charge or control of the media, research and literature then start false, unverifiable theories attesting to the fact group is inferior and should be shunned and kept apart from the rest of the people who have one thing in common – skin color.
Despite the teachings and examples of their parents and older adults, many of the children are beginning to question these teachings because more of them are interacting with Black people, “the untouchable group” and find that they are no different from themselves or their families, they are challenging their parents and the establishment. Now it is not rare to see the mixing of the races in the open. Race mixing is as old as mobility. Once people were able to travel from one country or region to another, race mixing resulted. Many people in America are French/Irish, German/Italian, African/Native American/Irish. Oftentimes these liaisons were not legitimized by marriage. The reason why American Blacks are so varied in color is because of this mixing, often by force.
After wars, many American military personnel come home with war brides and thus America has become mixed both religiously and ethnically. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner, a Jew and Huma Abedin, of Pakistani descent, who follows the teachings of Islam, former Sec. of Defense William Cohen and Janet Langhart Cohen, Real estate magnate Conrad Cafritz and Peggy Cooper Cafritz, Justice Clarence Thomas and Virginia Lamp Thomas, law professor Peter Edelman and Marion Wright Edelman, Civil Rights Activist Frederick Douglas and Helen Pitts Douglas, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Columba Bush and are among some of the noted people in interracial marriages.
The Chicago 7 were college students from wealthy white families who became anti-establishment. One was the son of the president of Commonwealth Edison, Williams Ayers, one was a descendant of the Rockwell Industries fortune, Rennie Davis, one became a venture capitalist, Jerry Rubin, one went on to marry Hollywood royalty, Tom Hayden and became a CA state legislator. These prodigal sons came home and later joined the establishment themselves. The Black youth in the inner cities, also disenchanted by the fate dealt them are also rebellious; but, they are neither equipped nor do they have the resources to act out the way the affluent white boys do, nor are they later embraced and incorporated into polite society. They are sent to prison.Both groups, filled with anxiety and disappointment leading to dysfunction, resort to a more antisocial form of behavior. Wanting power over their lives, the Black youth resort to drugs and guns to assert their personhood, their manhood.
By contrast, many of the privileged white boys get a gun and slaughter as many people as they can. When you look at their backgrounds, you wonder why would they turn to criminal, bizarre behavior – they feel unloved, devalued, manipulated and are guided by self loathing and loathing for others. A brilliant medical student with a quality education, a lovely home, and a glorious future, yet he arms himself and goes into a theater to destroy and take as many lives as he can, thus James Eagan Holmes’ name will live in infamy along with Loeb and Leopold who murdered Bobby Frank and Bill Heirins who murdered Suzzane Degnan.
The underprivileged Black boys, living in crowded undesirable worn out neighborhoods from which whites have fled, attending inferior schools until they are pushed out or are passed on to prison, feel the same emotions that the better off white boys feel and with their internal system on overload, explode and then turn on those closest to them, their competing gang bangers. The origins of this behavior are the same, external hatred internalized that becomes self-hatred, despair, disdain and emptiness.
America has become an incubator for this anti-social behavior based on hatred, contempt and isolating one group from the other. As Malcolm X says, “the chickens have come home to roost.” Another way of saying that is that we reap what we sow and America, especially, in the age of Obama has sown such ugly seeds of racial hatred, that our children have gotten off the track and are headed in the wrong direction. When Joe Wilson, hollers to the President of the United States, “You lie.” When illiterates Joe Walsh, Sarah Palin, and other racists call the President a liar, what are the children to think? We are the adults and are supposed to set the example. When the example is hatred and contempt, then that’s what the children learn. Visit any playground and you will hear name calling: fatty, four eyes, skinny – these are harmless names but still painful to the object of the taunting. When they hear stronger epithets at home, then children start using derogatory racial slurs. As they grow up and become older, the name calling and bullying become more hostile and aggressive.
Until we in America get at the root cause, address the root cause and solve or eliminate the root cause our children will continue to reflect what the adults do.
“Children learn what they live.”

President Trump or Palin? What’s the Difference?

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 31:  Former U.S. Vice presi...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Once upon a time, Americans expected their celebrities to have a modicum of skill for entertaining the masses, and their politicians to have a modicum of skill for serving the public. The former expectation was demolished in the previous decade, with the rise of Paris Hilton and the Kardashians. In this decade, it seems the latter expectation will be demolished. Donald Trump’s recent “potential” presidential campaign run and now the possibility of same from Sarah Palin are signals of this new condition.

Donald Trump has run for president before. He was a potential Reform Party candidate for the 2000 presidential elections. The obscure political party was a tip-off that it was nothing but a sideshow, and Trump delivered with celebrities at every stop and a gold-plated “Trump One” campaign plane. Palin delivered when she ran for Vice President and (thank GOD,) lost!) We all had a good laugh, and both Trump & Palin went home before they had to face any voters but after they got a boost of what they both like best: media attention.

Still, while Trump showed absolutely no inclination of taking any of this more seriously than he did the first time around – he actually was seeking nomination to the Republican party with the intent of running on a platform of “birtherism” and bullying the Arab states into handing over their oil… How was that possible?

What’s truly frightening is that a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll showed that Trump was tied with Mike Huckabee as the top Republican presidential candidate! The Arizona state Senate passed a “birther” bill requiring 2012 candidates to prove they were born in the United States after Trump met with the bill’s author. Serious Republican candidates were actually asked on national television how they felt about being Trump’s vice president! 

Fortunately, Trump will never be president and neither will Sarah Palin.  Neither has any intention of ever standing before the voters – Trump has already left the scene and once Sarah Palin has milked all that she can out of the increased ratings for her reality television show, she’ll ride off into the sunset on a Palin-branded horse…maybe to her new home in Arizona. So the only question worth pondering here is how a nightmarish parody of self-actualization became a contender – or rather, how the American people allowed either of them to be a contender?

Something has happened in this country. The sole genius of Sarah Palin was to recognize the shift in the air. Once she realized that she could earn far more money and attention by pretending to be a serious politician than to actually be one, she left that boring job in the Alaska’s governor’s office and never looked back.

Now she endorses candidates, makes policy proposals, speaks at political engagements – all without having to bother with the messy business of governing (or, for that matter, even knowing what she’s talking about!)  She’s responsible for the rise of all those candidates who never should have been taken seriously and yet somehow manage to suck all of the oxygen, the attention, and the funding out of the room .

I suppose that everyone needs a hustle in our ruthless economy, and Palin and Trump have only given the people what they want. And apparently what people want is endless distraction, even in politics – all the better, perhaps, to pull everyone’s attention away from the desperation of our crumbling infrastructure, terrible schools and bankrupt job market.

But the problem is that this is not a reality show. This is our country. And while we may get the democracy that we deserve, the price we have to pay for our enjoyment of these ridiculous candidates may be much greater than we think.  The Joke is on us!

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Is Your Hypocrisy Detector Working?

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Obama’s desire to rise above petty partisanship to bring the country together was, undoubtedly, what won a lot of right-leaning independents to vote for him in the presidential election of 2008. 

Interestingly, it became a problem that he actually practiced this philosophy after being elected because it  failed miserably!  The resulting  legislation was weakened to the point of impotence in the name of “changing the tone in Washington.”  The stimulus bill was loaded with tax-cuts in order to win a few republican votes. (And we all know Obama  never got those votes. ) He then attmpted  to “reach across the aisle” on health care reform, and abandoned the public option

Many believed the public option to be the most important part of the health care bill because it was the seed that would completely change the system… Had democrats stood their ground and not voted for it, the bill might have died, but everyone would have understood which party was responsible for its failure and  that health care still needed to be addressed and that if any president wanted to accomplish anything in the arena of reform there would have to be a public option.  

It’s not really a surprise that the sole mission of the Republican party was to see Obama’s presidency fail, is it?  It should be obvious  that it was never the intention of the Republican Party to work with democratic President Obama.  They had a different plan and stuck to it. On the other hand, the Democratic Party, because it is filled with moderates and centrists, never draws a line in the sand and sticks to it!   

It’s a challenge for the left to be fair-minded when the far right appears to have no such compunction In public policy, the key point is the RESULT. Thus  the lesson…Obama’s take-away should be; it isn’t about changing policy, it’s about presenting the logic of solutions.  It’s hard to argue with logic.  Which is why it’s so much easier to focus on quick fixes and ready results, whether in the form of mid-term elections or quarterly earnings reports.

The American people have developed amnesia and President Obama, as he said,  “took a shellacking” in the mid-term election.  Let’s hope  he learned the importance of communication about  what is being done. 

In other words, results must be spun as positively as possible in relationship to the recent past because it’s not actual results that you’ll be evaluated on, rather the appearance of results!   Obama won the presidency just after an apocalypse.  We came close to witnessing the complete destruction of our economic system.  recovery from such an event will take at least another 18 months.  If it happens on schedule, Obama will float to reelection on a cloud of patriotism even though some people will hate him and call him a communist.  If it doesn’t happen, he’ll repeat the single terms of Bush 1 and Jimmy Carter…and some people will hate him and call him a communist.

There is a viscerally, critically important distinction to be made between what people ARE and what people DO.   In politics, not “doing” constitutes being a failure.  Turning around an economic cataclysm that was years, even decades, in the making will  require years of smart, long-term planning and making tough decisions as well.  Meanwhile, until we all take the long view, we’ll all have to settle for the illusion of forward progress.

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ARE GOOD WRITERS BORN OR TAUGHT?

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 Traditional freelance writer work system.

Good writing is an art.  Some have the gift and others don’t!  Anyone can become proficient, however.

Those who believe a good writer merely crafts words, however, are off the mark.  A really good writer is one who helps the rest of us see the world differently through their words on paper.  Yes… through what they write we can actually come to see the world from rarified heights.    

That’s the part that can’t be taught.

Good writing requires making choices that require taking risks.  Choices like which thought comes first? Which mode of expression is most likely to succeed? Ultimately, which words, in what configuration, best offer the greatest clarity of expression?  These choices equate to style or “voice.”

A writing course can teach you that these things are necessary and to look at writing in terms of the ideas you want to express, but a writing course won’t show you how to arrange these thoughts and ideas or how to communicate them effectively.  Most people can be taught structure and grammar and how to use these skills. 

What that boils down to is useful mechanics that can be used well enough to communicate concisely, intelligently, effectively, and even gracefully.

Know, too, that there are differences in writing for different media. Vast differences, So, understand who you’re attempting to write for and don’t knock useful mechanics. It’s all that writers — even the best — start out with.

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