Friday, December 21, 2012

Why I live here

In a couple of months, I will have lived in Brattleboro longer than I have lived anywhere else - including the town in which I grew up. Brattleboro has changed a lot since I moved here, and, of course, in some ways it hasn't changed at all. It's that kind of town, which may sound like everyplace.

When I moved here, I had been living in Boston for 8 years. I loved living there, but the area in which I could afford to live was dangerous. I refuse to cooperate with muggers and, after achieving my mid 40's, was unable to win battles with teenage thugs - I was beginning to take stitches. I'd been working for Columbia and Tri-Star, which had changed hands and been purchased by Sony. After a few years of their ownership, Sony decided to downsize and a week before Christmas 1994 closed well over half of their film offices across the country. I'd spent 20 years in film distribution; the other exchanges in Boston were also closing, and there were no more jobs in the film business to be had. For a number of reasons, I moved to Brattleboro.

That move proved financially ill advised. In fact, it destroyed a good bit of my life and was a rather poor choice in many respects. I would probably have done better to return to New York City and looked for work there, but I chose to move further out, to be closer to natural spaces, where I could garden, where young children would be growing up with faces full of smiles and wonder, places where the costs were less and I could afford to live a little better. After many years, as the town I had grown to love changed, and my circumstances had become reduced, I began to think about moving elsewhere.

This morning I woke to a messy wet snow which was in the process of switching to rain. The streets had been plowed, pushing the wet heavy slush upon the sidewalks. Since I retired, I've been doing my old Friday morning radio show from 7am until 9am on our local community station. After next week, another show will be expanding into part of that time-slot and I will probably stop. At any rate, this morning, after the show and after tending to a few station chores, I set out on my walk home.


I'd barely gotten a half a block - in fact, I was right in front of the Congregational Church - when the bells began to ring in their steeple. I looked up to the clock, and noticed that it was 9:30am. The bells kept ringing; they weren't tolling the half hour. I crossed the street to stop at the Post Office; the bells were still ringing. And then it occurred to me - it had been exactly one week since the horror that had taken place in Newtown, Connecticut. I froze. And for some reason or other, without thinking about it, I took my hat off and held it over my heart while I stood there. A woman rushing to take a large unwieldy package into the building saw me, looked at the church steeple and stopped to stand silently in the rain beside me.

The ringing of the bells ended, and we went our separate ways. As I continued on my way home, other church bells were ringing in the distance. Then the bells from St. Michael's Catholic also began to peal.

And that's why I live here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

'Twas a week before Christmas...

Dear Friends,

'Twas a week before Christmas and all through the blog the spam bots are posting, the works they do clog. My nerves now stretched all tense and raw, their notes defecation that sticks in my craw. Within the comments are nasty links put there by meanies who are nothing but finks. The blogger can't take more of this pap, so moves have been taken to stop all this crap.

Now, my Christmas humor tilts towards the sick, the bloat of the season I so like to prick. But recent events are holding me back, they have tainted the season with covering plaque. The things I would post,  once fun and nifty, now seem mean or somewhat too shifty.

Snaps of corybantic kids on Santa's lap and such, now seem to be - well, just too damn much. The fun of the season is fading away, with monsters and demons left here to stay. Let us banish them then, with all of our might, to make the season Happy and Bright.

So bring out the nog and tasteless humor, let tacky holiday tunes spread like a rumor. And to those spammers whose odor doth linger, I giveth you my middle finger. Let us then cover the sad and lingering pall with fun and good wishes - dahoo dores to all.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Every year it gets a little harder...

It has been busy, very busy. In my little world, it has become a struggle to get anything much done. I may be retired now, and I must say I'm enjoying it so far, but the projects in which I invest myself have suddenly expanded to take up most of my available time. Everything takes extra time now. A simple trip to the grocery store has become complex. I don't want to complain; when you can't afford a car, it's a blessing to have a bus system.  Except the bus to the grocery store doesn't run an understandable schedule anymore. It works for the bus company, but not for the people who use it. That seems to be the way of the world these days, things stopped making sense some time ago.

My little experiment in ending email overload and in blocking the spam bots attempting to post to this blog has shown progress. I've allowed everyone to post comments again without all the annoying eye and typing exams. We'll see how it goes. As far as my email problems, I've unsubscribed from a lot of mailing lists. Some of them are still still sending me things. It's better, but still out of control.

Every year, it gets a little harder. I'm sure any number of generations before mine has made the same statement. That doesn't mean it isn't true. It gets worse at this time of the year, a time when we used to be able to find a bit of magic in the season. I realize I don't get around much anymore, but I've been noting that there don't seem to be as many lights this year decorating people's homes, bringing color and joy into the darkest stretch of the year. It seems like fewer people bother each time the season comes 'round. I imagine that was once said about the number of bonfires for Yule celebrations long ago.

For the past few days the horrible tragedy in nearby Connecticut has consumed the country, and it seems, a good part of the world. Reporters are reporting - often inaccurately while trying to one up the next reporter, responding to the pressure to have something new, the need to have more information as people try to make sense of something that doesn't make sense. Bloggers are blogging, tweeters tweeting, and the rest are posting to Facebook. Everyone uses the tragedy to push their own agenda. Stop the drones. Institute gun control. Oh, my God he was a loner with problems. He must have been on drugs. He must have been off his medication. He was sick. As though that excuses anything. As though gun control will stop this madness. In China, a madman stabbed 22 children. As though that is less heinous because he didn't have a gun.

A few brave souls will note that this has happened before. Just last week, in a shopping mall. And just recently in Minneapolis, and Tulsa, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, a movie theater in Colorado, a coffee bar in Seattle, a college in California. They were all loners. They were all sick. They want publicity. We need gun control. No one asks how it is that people have broken, lost their minds, gone on rampages.

No one wants to look at our world the way it is. We live in a time when, unless one has money, you eat fake food full of chemicals and genetically modified poisons. If you have a problem, well here - you can pay into a scheme to help you purchase medication that alters your mental processes. The sky, the air, the water have been fouled. The rich have gotten richer. Everyone else tries to cope, to do with less, and everything has gotten a little harder. Even the bad for you food costs so much that it is said that 1 out of every 5 people in the country needs assistance, and those benefits are being cut. Donations to the food shelves which try to take up the slack have been falling off. In the sate of Vermont, where I live, 1 person in every 7 doesn't have enough to eat. For the last couple of years, the problem has been given a slightly nicer tone by replacing the stark word "hunger" with the term "food insecurity". Words and phrases have lost their meaning as they become twisted to hide the truth, to obfuscate, to spur sales, or get around laws in the growing corporate environment to produce a product for pennies less, to make more riches for the already rich, to twist circumstances to raise prices to make ever more profits, ever more profits, pay the people less, ever more profits.

Our school systems don't have enough money, and with laws like those requiring the teaching of creationism and labeling evolution as a 'theory', our children aren't receiving a proper education in the sciences. Or the Arts. Or History. Or...

Our entertainment industries push and promote violence in games, in movies, on television. Explicit gory violence, exploding ganglia in intimate detail. The aftermath, the effect on people in the story or the game, isn't dealt with. It's bloody, clean, dispassionate, removed from reality.

Reality is programmed on tv. What does it say about us that one of the most popular shows in the country follows the antics of a white trash family proud of their dumpster diving and their obnoxious child 'Honey Boo Boo'?

And, oh, my God, the fiscal cliff. Our federal budget is out of control. Time to cut welfare, medicare, medicaid  social security, food stamps, college loans, money to education, money to the arts, if it helps people get by, it needs to be cut. They are the enemy.

A guy I know is posting videos and articles to Facebook about the state of the world - today he had a video of the tv show "they" don't want you to see because it exposes what has gone wrong with the country. It's an episode of Judge Judy. A black male hasn't been paying - something, whatever, he gets government aid, his rent is paid, he gets food stamps. He is the problem. He and his ilk are bleeding the country. I used to work in a supermarket. I know this Facebook poster. He and his family live in subsidized housing. They work menial jobs in the kitchen of a nearby school. They get by with food stamps. Should I tell him that he is the enemy too?

We live in a world that no longer makes sense. Where women's bodies have magical ways of shutting down and preventing rape but maybe still getting a pregnancy for God. Where we used to be raised to believe that we could and should make it on our own, the great lone American Hero,  and where we now find ourselves in a world where we need help. If one can get by the shameful humiliation. The frustrations of everyday life are causing everyday people to break. It's the world the corporations, the bosses, and the rich have made. It works for the them, but it doesn't work for the people who ride the bus. Every year it gets a little harder.

What is strange isn't that there are so many mass killings, but that there are so few.