Friday, October 12, 2012


President Barack Obama October 2012

Nothing is feeling right right about now. Do you feel it like I do?

And at the same time, doors are opening and closing. Cars are starting and moving. Work is there to do and millions are doing it. The foliage is changing in Vermont but not quite with the brilliance I remember as a boy, but that could just be the boy. We can't get everything we once had. Nobody can, not even the filthy rich, try as they might.

Last night Joe Biden did okay during the Vice Presidential debate and so did Representative Paul Ryan. One is a senior politician with all the tricks of his trade on display — half of it crippled by bluster — the other is the new sharpie with all the so-called "facts" as a salesman selling us a line of goods manufactured for his CEO bosses. In my own personal life the past year I've dealt with sheriff deputies and other lawmen who individually act exactly this same way: polite, efficient and as legal assassins, alongside one or maybe two old-style lawmen, much like Joe Biden, filled with old-school charm, bluster, and fighting in a paper bag going out of style. That style has values. And values, good people, are disappearing right before our eyes.

So is a President Barack Obama. He's now left the campaign trail to "study" for a few days before the second Presidential debate. Gone to "study" what? More facts and figures? How to develop and deliver "zingers"? Gone to study how to talk to the American people? Isn't this the same fellow who already wowed the country and the world with a speech on racism? Who went to Europe and attracted millions even before he spoke, and then he spoke and it reverberated around the world? Who rose from a single mother and a phantom father — one white, one black — and took in along his rise some fools and some angels and some hardcore truths and values and put them to work? Who isn't afraid to make mistakes along the way: mistakes get you places as long as you know them as mistakes and repair them with your own hands. Isn't this the same fellow who killed Osama bin Laden for the revenge seekers? Ended the war in Iraq that should have never been a war, and the same in Afghanistan? Dropped drones on the bad guys instead of threatening nuclear war with everyone, and yes some very good people died along the way. Good people die each and every day now. It's what we've made for ourselves.

I won't even go into how Barack Obama's leadership saved a country financially broke, didn't jail the thieves, attempted to put them back into the service for their country only to watch them piss on him now from great heights, this almost zen master from Harvard robes and Chicago street life we have.

Racism. Color. Prejudice. Non-communication is what is killing us. Always has. We haven't learned our P's and Q's. A black man rising in America beyond civil rights is what Barack Obama is, quite a phenomenon. He came with a thrill, a bounce to his step, he galvanized the children and the children in adults, and even the grown ups believed in him. He won past the old guard of stale heroism built on violence and glory and revealed a better heroism built on every day existence of mutual respect, black and white mixing it up like a terrific R & B song, and naively and truly wanting to get down and dirty and work with the opposition who already since Sunday let it be known they wanted nothing in the world to do with him. Have you ever been up against these guys? and I can tell you it's almost always guys, and it's not that they are entirely wrong, some have a very good head on their shoulders and can likewise work with their hands, but they're mainly closed down to their chief habits. They do make the trains run. But the train rails were made by dreamers, inventors, explorers, madmen, chance-takers, leaders, and this is what has scared Washington DC rulers from the time Barack Obama hit town. He's a rail man. He should have thrown a good bunch of them into jail. Instead he forgave them. Instead he revealed them. Instead he asked them to play-ball, the all-American past time and middle ground, and they told him to go fuck himself.

For four years we have watched a very good family man, husband, young heart and champion, make strides and become ruined. Right before our eyes. The black pride and intelligence that guided him, may be the same ingredient that brings him down. Since he came out of nowhere and rose to a personal and public greatness, we expect him to provide and grow greater still. Mostso because he is black, was virtually unknown, skinny, packed with power and glory. There's no time not to show up to a debate. There's no time to have this pride and glory stuff get in the way. There's no time not to act with almost a vengeance because we are frustrated and mad as hell, why isn't he? The savior we've made with really very little help of our own isn't performing the way we wanted — so left and right, both sides of the aisle, we're going to react against him! Unbelievable. The voters are leaving Barack Obama in droves from the carefully nurtured and crafted center (the playing field), that he made piece by piece, because of a combined hot atom mixture of he not performing for us when we wanted. When it counted. And he knows it. And we know it. It's all part of putting down those rails in the wilderness and not knowing what is around the next bend and he's ready to do it, and we're suddenly not so sure. We just may resort to the carpetbagger, the salesmen, the slick conman (and he makes a great speech but remains a sleaze bag and conman, Bill Clinton), the CEO empty-suited who will get just enough done for the middle class, status quo, while the unknowns, mysterious and poor die.

Barack Obama blew it big-time for the world in one debate. I thought he performed just fine with Q & A, but he didn't come down off his pedestal far enough so the smug, the hurt, the ruinous, and his slip was showing. Lenny Bruce would have shrugged it off with a "That? You mean that? Oh don't worry about that" and got it all revived within seconds on an athlete's pivot foot and steered the train back onto its rails. Barack Obama's hard-earned, uphill battle achievements in many of the swing states was once upon a time (as soon as last September) built on slow momentum and belief, assisted by millions of workers who all still have a little bit of dream in them, going against a 'screw-these-dreams let's get down to basics' opponent. It's all about money not dreams. It's all about slick not substance. It's all about a populace rising out of its junk food and junk cultured diet and crying toward and into a wilderness, where rails have gone.

[BA, Oct 12, '12]

photo: nytimes
*I'd liked him to stay where he is for the rest of my life

pier paolo pasolini and maria callas 
 (napoli, september 1970)


Their cheeks were fresh and tender
and kissed maybe for the first time.
Seen from behind, when they turned
to return to the gentle group, they were more adult,
with overcoats over light trousers. Their poverty
forgets it's a cold winter. Their legs a little bowed
with collars frayed like their older brothers',
already discredited citizens. Still, for some years
they're priceless: and there can't be anything humiliating
in one who can't be judged. For, since they do it
with so much incredible naturalness, offering themselves to life,
life asks for them. They're so ready for it!
They give back kisses, tesing the novelty.
Then they leave as undisturbed as they came.
But since they're still full of trusting that life loves them,
they make sincere promises, project a promising future
of hugs, and kisses as well. Who could make the revolution
—if ever one needed to make it—if not them? Tell them so: they're ready,
all in the same way, just as they hug and kiss
with the same smell on their cheeks.
But it won't be their trust in the world that will triumph.
That's what the world must ignore.

1969. Translated by Jack Hirschman 


from In Danger
A Pasolini Anthology
edited, with an introduction
by Jack Hirschman
(City Lights Books 2110)