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November 10, 2018

Hell comes to Paradise

This is so horrific and sad. We took a vacation trip to Paradise, California last summer and loved the town. It's right in between the mountains and the valley, so there are evergreens lining the streets. Just beautiful. My comments were, "It's a lot bigger than I expected," and "Wouldn't this be a great place to retire?" We heard a fantastic concert at a wonderful community theater and stayed in a friendly motel with a lovely garden and pool. I remember many of the businesses and houses that are now shown on the news, burning to the ground. What could be worse than a whole town destroyed in one day?

Plus, Paradise is/was the home of my favorite cowboy singer, Sourdough Slim. Hope he and his family are fine.

An explosive wildfire like this is a new phenomenon, a firenado. Climate change the cause? Duh. What to do? Check out Sweden, which just reached it's renewable energy goals for 2030. It's hard but not impossible -- yet -- to intervene, change our lifestyles, follow enlightened leaders and scientists, and find a new interrelationship between humans and the earth. We do something or we're ruined. We do it now or there is no Paradise for the kids anywhere.

Happy trials, Martin

November 8, 2018

Reconciliation? Time to come together?

Reconciliation with Nazis? Reconciliation with racists, sexists, xenophobes, misogynists, homophobes, Islamophobes, deplorables? Reconciliation with believers in the National Enquirer, in Bigfoot, alien abduction, in televangelists? Reconciliation with liars and cheaters, bought and sold by corporations? Reconciliation with gun-addicts, rapists, thugs, bullies, criminals?

I don't think so.

The President of the United States says: I am a Nationalist, not a Globalist. We know those are code-words for 'Nazi' and 'Jew'. We know where Trump's sympathies lie. No, I will not support the rise of a new Hitler or a Fourth Reich. Who would? Who is? Despots and wannabes around the world. The radical right fringe, as in KKK. Those who previously kept to the shadows and should go back there, but came out in the open when their ideal leader got power (by stealing). Is he lashing out now because he's losing his grip? Yes, but that makes the wounded animal more dangerous.

Rural - urban, coastal - center, black - white, college grads - middle school grads, men - women, blue - red: I am sick of the division of people into two teams. Yet I can't put myself in the others' shoes either. I can't imagine being a Trump supporter, just can't suspend my ethics and critical intelligence that much. An invasion of refugees, really? Lock her up, really? Enemy of the people, really?

What's the alternative? Fight. When it was the Vietnam War - fight. When it was Nixon - fight. When it was nuclear arms and nuclear power - fight. When it was civil rights - fight. When it was the women's movement - fight. Gay rights - fight. Immigrant ban - fight. Trump's presidency - fight. In any (nonviolent) way you can - fight.

I was hoping for the super victory that would end this bad dream, and our need to fight, so I could just go back to my work, hobbies and homelife in relative tranquility, like in the Obama years. Get off Facebook, no news, pet the cat, read a book, sit on the porch and watch the sea. Instead, I will need to keep my dukes-up attitude a while longer, and, in my very small far-away way, keep the struggle going. Stand up to the brutes and goose-steppers, the haters and money-grabbers, along with many millions of comrades. We are the majority. Standing for the law and the truth and equality and what's right. Things will get messy now, but we shall overcome. Will we make it through this? Of course.

Happy trials,

Mutt: Are we back?
Jeff: I've got a weak back.
Mutt: How long you had it?
Jeff: Since about a week back.
Mutt: Ha ha.
Jeff: Ha ha.
Mutt: You kill me.
Jeff: Wanna go hunting?
Mutt: I'm game.
Jeff: Bang.
Mutt: Ha.
Jeff: Ha.
Mutt: Get this: chronic illegal parkers suffer from parking zones disease.
Jeff: Ouch. How about this? The Irish government is wealthy because its capital is always Dublin.
Mutt: Double ouch. You know the best way to communicate with a fish is to drop them a line.
Jeff: Why can't a bicycle stand on its own? 
Mutt: Because it's two tired?
Jeff: No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
Mutt: I used to be a shoe salesman, till they gave me the boot.
Jeff: What did the painter say to the wall? 
Mutt: I know this, I know this. One more crack and I'll plaster you!
Jeff: Bravo. And old steelmakers never die, they just lose their temper.
Mutt: That one, I don't get. Old policemen never die, they just cop out.
Jeff: Unfortunately, old sewage workers never die. They just waste away.
Mutt: Some Spanish government employees are Seville servants.
Jeff: Ready? This is good. A man hit another on the head with a soda bottle, killing him. In court, he claimed he was influenced by the song "Let's Get Fizzy-Kill".
Mutt: Oh, we are so funny.
Jeff: We crack us up.
Mutt: Ready to hit the streets again?
Jeff: Don't agonize, organize.

October 6, 2018

I Really Don't Care. Do You?

Sexual Assault: Republicans: NO, WE DON'T CARE.

The non-conclusion of the rape doesn't matter. The drunkenness doesn't matter. The 'who do you believe?' doesn't matter. The politics don't matter. The crying and yelling don't matter. (I'm exaggerating, all that matters.)

These Republicans are saying: You, woman, were raped and we don't care! You, woman, don't count; we, rich white Christian men, say we love and respect you, woman, but when it's time to show that, we say, 'oh grow up', 'boys will be boys' (translation: young men have a right to rape women) and worse. Plus, you, woman, cannot abort because we say so and you must obey. You, woman, are our property, like slaves.

Be like Melania, seen but not heard, look good and shut up and produce a son. Not like Stormy or Karen McDougal, or the 20 Trump victims, etcetera. We, Republicans, say: Blame the victim, and ignore the woman's chorus outside yelling "NO, NO, NO!" Whose pain and anger is more real, more important, anyway?

Power. This is all about power. Rape is about power. (Male superiority consists exclusively in physical strength.) The abortion debate is about power, not ethics. (Will all you anti-abortionists adopt those unwanted babies you force to be born? I thought not.) Women's bodies belonging to men is about power. To grope, to score, to obsess over. When women are truly equals, beings not objects, freed from male domination, there's no going back. We're getting close.

Amazons are coming. Look out the window, women are active, women are strong, women have been abused and will not stand for it anymore. Men and boys better get on board. Rape culture must end.

The old white men (and the women they've brainwashed) behind this last-ditch effort to maintain control will lose. They know that. That's where their desperation comes from. This horrible sequence of events, starting with 'grab 'em by the pussy', seems so hopeless. Actually, it's a signal of the end of patriarchy. This will not stand. The sexists will fight, but we--women and enlightened men--will fight harder and win. It won't be easy. What is?

Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court; Trump is still President, McConnell, Grassley, Graham, et al. are in power, but not for long, people, not for long. Play the long game. Right now, the slavery-supporting politicians of the 1850's are still burning in hell. Wrong side of history.

These are the names of the misogynists that will live in infamy:

Chuck Grassley
Orrin Hatch
Lindsey Graham
John Cornyn
Mike Lee
Ted Cruz
Ben Sasse
Jeff Flake
Mike Crapo
Thom Tillis
John Kennedy
Mitch McConnell
John Thune
John Barrasso
Roy Blunt
Cory Gardner
Lamar Alexander
John Boozman
Richard Burr
Shelley Moore Capito
Bill Cassidy
Susan Collins
Bob Corker
Tom Cotton
Steve Daines
Mike Enzi
Joni Ernst
Deb Fischer
Dean Heller
John Hoeven
Cindy Hyde-Smith
Jim Inhofe
Johnny Isakson
Ron Johnson
James Lankford
Jerry Moran
Rand Paul
David Perdue
Rob Portman
Jim Risch
Pat Roberts
Mike Rounds
Marco Rubio
Tim Scott
Richard Shelby
Dan Sullivan
Pat Toomey
Roger Wicker
Todd Young
Jon Kyl
Joe Manchin

THANK YOU: Anita Hill, Christine Blasey Ford, Debbie Ramirez, Julie Swetnick, Ana Maria Archila, Maria Gallagher, Alyssa Milano, Nadia Murad, Denis Mukwege and so many others.
And let me add: Rosa Parks (arrested in 1955, Civil Rights Act 1964) 
Say it loud: ERA NOW! (passed in 1972, still awaiting ratification)
Believe Survivors! 

Mutt and Jeff are busy getting arrested at a protest rally in Washington D.C.

September 3, 2018


Almost. I still have to cross the Southern California desert and a couple other bits, but--hell yeah!--I made it to Canada, completed Washington, stomped down those rocky Northern Cascades. It nearly finished me, yet the PCT is mine. It is home.

The roots, dust, flowers, trees, rocks, critters, birds and bugs, the smoke veil this year (every year?) -- it's all mine. A couple weeks ago, I saw a black bear eating berries and yelled, "Hey, get off my trail!" Stupid. He looked at me ... what? Yet it is mine as well as his. And yours if you climb up, over and through. You don't get to just look at photos or films though, you gotta earn it.

'It' is real. Everything real. No filters, phones, computers, TV. No one telling you what to think, buy, be, believe. Touch a tree trunk, a boulder, fingers in the grass, feet in the creek -- that's life. Not a representation or interpretation. No manipulation, the mountain doesn't care, it's just there. I sat by a lake thinking it would have been similar a million years ago. Freeze, thaw, repeat. Without me.

Why do we do it? Why'd I spend six years walking up and down mountains? Sleep on the ground, poop in the woods, eat the same slop over and over? No easy answer, the answers are continually changing, foggy, a mystery, a beautiful mystery. But a space for the organic natural world -- I need this grounding. I need the silence, the solitude of high places. Perspective.

As I flew south from Seattle to San Francisco, I could see the peaks that marked my long path: Cascade Peak, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Goat Rocks, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, Three-Fingered Jack, Mount Washington, The Three Sisters, Mount Mazama/Crater Lake, Mount Thielsen, The Trinity Alps, Castle Crags, Mount Shasta, Hat Creek Rim, Mount Lassen and The Sierras. It was my journey through time and space backwards, a touching fly-over of memories. The flight took 2 hours, the walk 6 Augusts. Walking is best. Slow is deep.

Next adventure? Life. Real, unfiltered, active.

Happy trails, Martin

May 23, 2018

Tom Wolfe ... Philip Roth

Two of my favorite writers gone in one week. Oh my. Thanks for enriching my life.

This is the artist, then, life's hungry man, the glutton of eternity, beauty's miser, glory's slave. Tom Wolfe

Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise. Philip Roth

March 24, 2018

At War with Myself

Today::: is a big day:::
the March for Our Lives will take place in hundreds of cities, besides Washington, where it will be massive, historical. NRA, find a hole and crawl in. Then pull the hole in after you.

the lights go off at 8:30 pm for the Worldwide Earth Hour, an hour of darkness to raise awareness about environmental problems and solutions. Energy companies, we have the switch.

poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti turns 99 years of age in San Francisco. He is a movement for good and a light in the dark.

so where's the war?

in Europe, among the million horrible things Trump is doing, one stands out -- the trade war. I know he later said he'd make exemptions, basically contradicting himself as usual, but leaders here have to take it seriously until further notice. He said he'd do it, he signed it, we believe it's coming, so unless we're well-behaved kiddies, we're next. Tariffs on steel mean no Levis, no peanut butter, no Harleys. Over here they say that a trade war is a real war, you declare war on us, we are now enemies, we fight back, it can only get worse before a truce is declared. I am a citizen of the EU and the US, hence today's title.

i'm so tired of this shit. I want to get off of facebook and twitter, stop watching CNN and BBC, stop letting this sicko dominate my days. I want to get back to writing and music and my quiet homelife, get my sanity back, find my smile again, wake up rested and let all the difficulties of the day just slide away. Yet I feel like I'm constantly in combat mode without the adrenaline of battle. Yet I can't just opt out, that's irresponsible, there's no room in the sand for another head. Yet keeping up on everything has worn me down and worn me out, which is exactly what Trump wants, and, although I tell my friends that his days are numbered, he's winning against me today. I can't keep up the fighting without some amphetamines (isn't that what he uses?). Thus the lack of polit-blogs of late.

and then I see the Parkland survivors, and I am inspired and refreshed. We all have a connection, all been touched by the ripple effect of school shootings. Mine is Cleveland Elementary in Stockton, 1989, a guy hid behind a building and picked off little kids playing during lunch hour with a semi-automatic rifle -- five dead, 32 wounded. I used to teach at Cleveland. This was after I'd been in Italy for ten years, but the guy who did it had gone there as a child, about the time when I substitute taught there, maybe even in one of my classes. So, yeah, enough is enough. Make it stop. Make it stop. Politician, do your job to protect us all against gun violence; you were not elected to sell more guns for your buddies.

i may be old and weary (or maybe I'm just faking it for the pathos effect), but the teenagers that are marching today are YOUNG AND STRONG and the hope for a better tomorrow. It chokes me up that they are so passionate and articulate and savvy and right. Right on! You make us old warriors proud! When I was your age, I marched regularly against the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, nuclear power, other causes, now it's your day. Thanks for your courage. hashtag Never Again.

happy trials, Martin

Mutt and Jeff are on assignment in the nation's capitol.

February 3, 2018

Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

Caged Bird
Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

January 8, 2018

In Memoriam 2017

Al Jarreau
Alan Jabbour
Bobby Freeman
Charles Bradley
Chester Bennington
Chris Cornell
Chuck Berry
Eddie Kamae
Fats Domino
Glen Campbell
Greg Trooper
Gregg Allman
J. Geils
James Cotton
Jim Fuller (Surfaris)
Jimmy Dotson
Jimmy LaFave
Joni Sledge
Junie Morrison (Ohio Players)
Katie Lee
Keely Smith
Larry Coryell
Maggie Roche
Malcolm Young
Pete Kuykendall
Pete Moore (Miracles)
Ric Marlow (songwriter)
Ritchie Adams (songwriter)
Rosalie Sorrels
Rosie Hamlin
Sylvia Moy (songwriter)
Tom Paley
Tom Petty
Tommy Allsup
Valerie Carter
Walter Becker
Wayne Cochran
William Melvin Kelley

Anthony Scaduto
Dolores Kendrick
Gladys Hansen
Henry Mathews
Jack Collom
Joanne Kyger
John Ashbery
John Schultz
Kay Byer
Kevin Starr
Mari Evans
Nat Hentoff
Peter Sears
Richard Wilbur
Robert M. Pirsig
Roger D. Abrahams
Sam Shepard
Sir Derek Walcott
Thomas Lux
Thomas Meehan
Tullio De Mauro
William H. Gass

Adam West
Barbara Hale
Bill Paxton
Dennis Banks
Dick Gregory
Ed Lee
Harry Dean Stanton
Jean Moreau
Jerry Lewis
Jim Nabors
Lillie Mae Bradford
Martin Landau
Mary Tyler Moore
Professor Irwin Corey
Roy Halladay
Shelley Berman
Sir John Hurt
Sir Roger Moore