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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

Portrait of A Young Poet: 06



This cartoon was published last year in The Indie.

Birthday of One of My Favorite French Authors

From today's The Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of the aviator, the author of The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, born in Lyons, France in 1900. In 1935, he and a friend entered a contest to break the record for the fastest flight from Paris to Saigon. They crashed 200 miles into the Libyan desert with no water or food, and survived for three days before they were rescued by a Bedouin... The Little Prince is also narrated by a man who has crashed in the desert... Saint-Exupery insisted on serving in the Air Force during World War II, even though he was too old to fly. He flew his last mission in 1944 and was reported missing after a reconnaissance flight. He said, "War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus."

Are Men only Interested In Sex, Beer and Sports?

A new study... suggests that "half the men in most parts of the world don't know what is expected of them in society and three-quarters of them think images of men in advertising are out of touch with reality. As the world is drifting toward a more feminine perspective, many of the social constructs men have taken for granted are undergoing significant shifts or being outright dismantled," said Tom Bernardin, chairman and chief executive of Leo Burnett Worldwide. "It's a confusing time, not just for men, but for marketers as well as they try to target and depict men meaningfully," he said...
from AdPulp

Men should not be defined by sex, beer and sports. That's as insane as saying America is defined by NYC, LA and Chicago. Sure, those three cities are representative of the country but they do not define the nation as a whole. The real question should be why is the world "drifting toward a more feminine perspective"? Last fall I attempted to investigate that very question regarding the American male.

The author Weldon Hardenbrook offers four major "Models of American Masculinity": The Tough Guy (John Wayne; always the lone, friendless victor), The Archie Bunker (belittling his family to establish his personal worth), The Wimp (Dagwood Bumstead, the submissive, can't-do-anything-right bum) and The Athlete model (self-worth through athletic achievements or athlete worship). He then concludes the chapter with this:
"These are not the only phony icons of masculinity... There is the comedian, who hides his true self behind an endless stream of jokes... There is the little tycoon, who falsely equates masculinity with financial security and insulates himself from family and friends in a manipulative world of wheeling and dealing. But each of these images is just inappropriate... Following them has not helped the American male."

As an artist/poet several individuals have told me that it is great that I am so in touch with my feminine side: "You're so expressive, sensitive." I'm not sure how to take a compliment like that. I wonder if it's the opposite. Maybe I'm more in touch with my masculine side and that allows me to be more creative.

Based on Weldon Hardenbrook's analysis, I resemble The Athlete model; replacing athletic achievements for creative achievements in order to establish self-worth. In other words, please people by being bookish, artsy-fartsy, or the misunderstood wounded poet. I chose to abandon this model of masculinity. One of the keys to true masculinity is a balance of strength and compassion. It's toward this model I approach.

Marketing needs better marketing

Somewhere along the way, people were sold that marketing [equals] advertising... Maybe it's because marketing has a marketing problem.

Marketing is not about trickery or even insincerity. It's about spreading ideas that you believe in, sharing ideas you're passionate about... and doing it with authenticity. Marketing is about treating prospects and customers with respect, and realizing that it's easier to grow the amount of business you do with happy people than it is to find new strangers to accost.
--Seth Godin

The Writing Life - Lesson Fourteen

I returned from writers group tonight with mixed thoughts about writing and the writing life. Tonight five young writers met at the UNCA library and wrote in response to a prompt one of the members provided. The session produced a good seed of literature I plan to revise and offer to the literary deities. But I can't help recalling today's The Writer's Almanac. Why write? and to whom?

From today's The Writer's Almanac:
It was on this day in 1928, Sylvia Beach invited James Joyce and Scott Fitzgerald to dinner at her apartment over her Paris Bookstore Shakespeare & Company. Fitzgerald became drunk. He said he was such a fan of Joyce's that he would throw himself out the window to prove it.

Neither writer was having much success. Fitzgerald had just published The Great Gatsby, and it had not been selling well. Joyce's Ulysses wouldn't be published outside of Paris for another five years. Both men died 13 years later, less than a month apart, with no money and very few readers.

Write for the people 200 years from now. That's the writers' adage on writing well--or at least writing high literature. Another writer I am familiar with agonizes on how to approach his first major work. For young writers it is often more appealing to get a book published than to write a piece of literature that English teachers years from now will require their students to read. I remember my economics professor at the university required his students to read a mystery novel based on a solving a crime using economic principles and theories as clues. In high school, my civics teacher (do they even offer civics class in today's public school?) read Animal Farm as a way to teach about government. Last Saturday, June 25th, marked the birthday of George Orwell (author of Animal Farm and 1984). The Writer's Almanac mentioned:
He spent the last years of his life writing 1984. He died a few months after it was published. It has since been translated into 62 languages and has sold more than ten million copies.

It was George Orwell who said, "Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows, that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention."

I think of the brave young writers as we sit around a table in the library and work out our passions in ink or graphite on paper. I am becoming a fan of each of their work. Throwing myself from a window wouldn't prove how much I enjoy their hard work nor how much they inspire me. It is exhausting work.

In working-class France, when an apprentice got hurt, or when he got tired, the experienced workers said, “It is the trade entering his body.” the art must enter the body, too. --Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

The pain and weariness of writing means it’s entering my body. Why write? I write to encourage and challenge the brave young writers around a library table. I write with urgency because a lot can happen in thirteen years. To whom do I write? I write for you and I write the the beautiful souls who invited me to be part of a writers group.

Rejected!

Received another rejection to a poetry submission over the weekend.

The rejection was in the form of a poem. I laughed it off in front of my wife as being quite novel, but I was truly disappointed. Rev. Yuengling advised the rejection was one step closer to success.

I imagine a poetry editor looking at his/her hands, adjusting papers on a desktop, sipping a hot bean beverage and glancing at my submission idly while thinking "I wonder if it will stop raining long enough for me to play golf?" or "I think mauve is a great color for the guest bedroom" or "Did I remember to feed the marsupial?"

A rejected poem provides me the to opportunity to go back the drawing board. I can respect where an editor stands concerning the publication of my poems. Sure beats indifference.

I took Rev. Yuengling's advice and submitted my poems to four other literary publications.

Call for HTML help

An anonymous reader commented that this website is very difficult to read. The major complaint was the "pea-green" colored font. The main body font is supposed to be brown (5B4A1E). Does anyone else have trouble reading this blog?

Woah, Dude!

I just realized... I've been blogging for almost a year. Last July I started by posting several published articles. Over 280 posts and here I am ... post 284.

Rediscovered Short Stories

Cleaning out some old folders the other night, I discovered some old short story sketches I had written several years ago. They're not too bad, but they're not that good either. They are rough drafts of a novel I'm not writing. My first reaction was to post them on 1000 Black Lines.

I've read other blogs that post chapters of novels in progress. I guess that's a cool idea and good exposure for the writer. But I didn't want to do that because the writings are pieces to a novel I'm NOT writing. So, there is not a beginning, middle and end-just scenes.

Maybe I'll post them in a series. Maybe I won't post them at all. I can't decide.

RE: The Case Against Perfection

Marketing Playbook offered a great list of quotes regarding excellence vrs. perfection. Here's an abridged version of the list:
"Perfectionism is the enemy of creation, as extreme self-solitude is the enemy of well-being."
- John Updike

"I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business."
- Michael J. Fox

"Strive for excellence, not perfection."
- H. Jackson Brown Jr.

"A diamond with a flaw is worth more than a pebble without imperfections."
- Chinese Proverb


These are all great quotes on excellence, but Marketing Playbook forgot one great quote:
"Be excellent to each other."
- Bill S. Preston, Esq.

Too many distractions

After the last posting I thought I'd direct you to a few items I've been reading regarding the the sin of democracy and its bond with capitalism. Which brought me to this economics essay. I'm not even going to weigh in on this discussion. Talk amongst yourselves... I've got a manuscript to finish.

"High court OKs personal property seizures"

The CNN headline says it all. For long time readers, you know I don't generally cover political topics, but the Supreme Court ruling has me... I'm... speechless.
Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development

I own a home in a working-class neighborhood. Across the highway and in a secluded neighborhood which features Andi McDowell's residency as well as other celebrity homes. Which homeowner do you think the City of Asheville will target?

Scrutiny Hooligans reported:
The Supreme court handed down a ruling concerning the scope of the "eminent domain" clause in the Fifth Amendment which says... the government may raze property... of/from a citizen if it is to be for public use... "Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community" and thus whether it can be defined as "public use". Local officials and city governments now have to power to interpret "public use" as they see fit. Now city governments all over the country can run rampant with total disregard for citizens property rights by simply justifying that... leveling your home to build a Starbucks will create jobs and tax revenue and thus is for public use.


Captain's Quarters doesn't like this ruling either, but offers a great solution:
This does a tremendous injustice to the property owners... in the United States. This puts the entire notion of property rights into jeopardy. Now cities can literally force people off their land in order to simply increase their tax base...

I recall the words of Mark Twain, who famously lost a copyright case involving a bootleg publication of one of his novels despite having the law clearly on his side... Upon his loss, he remarked that since the judge was so cavalier with Twain's property, Twain planned to offer the Judge's house up for sale -- and if he got a good enough offer, he might let the buyer take the contents as well.

Can anyone come up with a good use for Justice Stevens' house? A bowling alley or a Bennigans, anything that improves the tax base for his community? We could urge its confiscation under eminent domain and perhaps put in a Mark Twain Museum instead. Now that would be justice.


You know the words to the song... Pave paradise... put in a "public" parking lot.

Imagine if the City of Asheville didn't like your politics (say your a peace activist or an anti-abortion activist) and decided the community needed another Wal-mart. After all, another superstore means more jobs and revenue for the community. Or say the local government didn't like your church or synagogue (because it was too traditional or conservative) and decided to bulldoze into a new library.

What's so wrong about this ruling is that it completely ignores the spirit of a community. One element that sustains a community is the people, like me, who work hard to own a small home--a sanctuary. This cannot be easily measured by tax revenue. Another element that is challenging to measure is community benevolence--when individuals sacrifice small luxuries to provide for a neighbor or friend who needs the basics (food, clothes, shelter).

A big, greedy government just doesn't get it.

What a waste--all the years of saving to own a home for my family and it doesn't mean a thing. I've heard Costa Rica is a nice place to live. Anyone want to move to Costa Rica with me?

Portrait of A Young Poet: 05



This cartoon was published last year in The Indie.

The Writing Life - Lesson Thirteen

Yesterday I received an email from a writer/friend with a very kind complement. The nature of the complement regarded my ability to produce articles/essays/poems on a regular basis. The irony is that I don't think I'm doing enough -- haven't hit my stride.

I remember when I was in high school I ran a race -- 4K -- as part of my father's company picnic. I won the 4K but not by technique. I realized whom I was racing -- runners who could beat me and runners I could ace. In a 4K race it doesn't take long to separate the two categories. Besides, I didn't have much time to waste either.

Of the three I knew who could win the race only one runner was truly my equal and I paced myself with him. Not knowing what I was doing, I hit my stride. The challenge was when to sprint the final portion of the race. I didn't know my rival's capacity. So, I took a gamble and waited until the final stretch to sprint. I didn't look back. I just sprinted with an urgency to accomplish the task at hand. Like I said, I won the race but not by technique.
After Michelangelo died, someone found in his studio a piece of paper on which he had written a note to his apprentice, in the handwriting of his old age: “Draw, Antonio, draw, Antonio, draw and do not waste time.”
--Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

That's how I approach writing. I'm not sure I have the correct techniques, grammar, or whatever. I know the difference between the masters and the amateurs. Yet I am not sure I've hit my stride. There is an urgency deep inside me to make the most of my time -- to pace myself with the masters. Several people I know have already fallen behind. I can't explain it. It just is. Write, Matt, write and don't waste time! That's what keeps me writing.

Shortest Night of the Year

Last night I made a special trek out to purchase some must-read material for a topic I am studying. In the parking lot of the bookstore I looked south to see a deep red full moon -- the solstice moon -- just above the mountain range. Took me awhile to find the books (had to ask for help -- took me most of that time to admit I needed assistance). When I left 45 minutes later, the solstice moon was a bright orange and looked like a Gulf Petrol Station sign (minus the "gulf" in the middle of the logo).

On the shortest night of the year I spent most of it reading one of the books I purchased. I probably could have read through until morning, but I forced myself at 2 AM to close the book and go to sleep. Morning came much too quickly.

Faith in Disbelief

Still working on that essay. Here's another quote that might find it's way into the final composition:

William D. Waltz (editor of Conduit) writes,
"There are great flocks of atheists in Alaska and Florida and even Ohio. But, it wasn't until I migrated east that I met so many for whom disbelief was second nature. The surprising thing was that the majority of these people weren't even interested in God as a concept. Their lack of curiosity mirrored a similar propensity demonstrated by evangelicals I had encountered back in the Bible Belt. Those New Englanders may have pitied me for being concerned with such nonsense, but I felt sorry for them as well, for they had no religion to rebel against, no god to curse, and they lacked one dynamic intellectual catalyst. Their certainty canceled what had been for me, an exhilarating and enriching journey, not because I found God or God found me, but because I found doubt." Later he continues, "Many of my fellow Ohioans were, like me, lapsed Lutherans, muddled Methodists, confused Catholics or godless Jews. Albatrosses may have hung about our necks, but our doubts burned brightly."
(Conduit, Fall 2004, Volume 15)

Summer Solstice

From today's The Writer's Almanac:
Today is the summer solstice, the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. Today is the longest day of the year, and tonight is the shortest night... it's that slight tilt, only 23 1/2 degrees that makes the difference between winter and summer and allows most of the plants we eat to germinate. Wheat and many other plants require an average temperature of at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit to grow; corn, 50 degrees; rice, an average temperature of 68 degrees.

I sure hope this means I'll actually see sunlight today. The office light against the eggshell white walls defeats the idea of summer.

I'm a Cultural Creative?


You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative


69%

Romanticist


56%

Fundamentalist


44%

Postmodernist


38%

Existentialist


31%

Modernist


19%

Materialist


13%

Idealist


6%

What is Your World View? (updated)
created with QuizFarm.com


I wonder how precise these things are? The results are rather startling, for me anyway. Of course, you may examine this and nod your head up and down saying, "Yup, that's him." Just doesn't seem possible to be part of the top three and not explode.

Got Another Rejection Letter

Maybe it's just me, but I think editors are responding quicker to my poetry submissions. I used to wait for six months to receive a rejection letter. Now it's down to about two months or better.

John Doyle CD Release show

Sunday afternoon, I was listening to Celtic Winds as I read the newspaper and heard an interview with John Doyle. I listened to several traditional tunes from this former/founding memeber of the Celtic group Solas.

During the course of the interview they announced that he would be performing locally:
The Grey Eagle
John Doyle CD Release show
Thursday, June 23, 2005
8pm
$15

Uninteresting Booklist

Running late for work today because I had to drop off the Dodge for a few preventative maintenance jobs. Gave me time to scan through The New York Times:
Law enforcement officials have made at least 200 formal and informal inquiries to libraries for information on reading material and other internal matters since October 2001, according to a new study that adds grist to the growing debate in Congress over the government's counterterrorism powers.
-- By ERIC LICHTBLAU read "Libraries Say Yes, Officials Do Quiz Them About Users" at The New York Times


This got my attention because I used to work at a library. At first I thought, no big deal. If you have nothing to hide than why should these inquiries bother the majority of Americans. After all it's only 200 inquiries in the last four years. But then I was reminded of The Writer's Almanac piece I commented on a couple weeks back:
It was on this day in 1942, a newspaper in Warsaw published the first account of Jews being gassed to death in a concentration camp... The first concentration camps were set up... for political dissidents, unionists, social democrats...

First it's only 200 inquiries. Then 2000. Then 20,000. What next?
The New York Times story "Libraries Say Yes, Officials Do Quiz Them About Users" went on to read:
Last June, a library user who took out a book there, "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America," noticed a handwritten note in the margin remarking that "Hostility toward America is a religious duty and we hope to be rewarded by God," and went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Agents, in turn, went to the library seeking names and information on anyone checking out the biography since 2001.

The library's lawyers turned down the request, and agents went back with a subpoena. Joan Airoldi, who runs the library, said in an interview that she was particularly alarmed after a Google search revealed that the handwritten line was an often-cited quotation from Mr. bin Laden that was included in the report issued by the Sept. 11 commission.

The library fought the subpoena, and the F.B.I. withdrew its demand.
-- By ERIC LICHTBLAU read the complete story at The New York Times


I'm not an alarmist. When I see a patrol car driving up next to me I don't freak out because I know I'm driving the proper speed limit and obeying the traffic laws. But I'm also not crazy about politicians who might abuse the Patriot Act in order to identify "political dissidents, unionists, social democrats" or other groups of concern.

Besides, I think the F.B.I. might be disappointed in my uninteresting selection of books about comics, graphic design and poetry.

Father's Day

From today's The Writer's Almanac:
Today is Father's Day, a holiday in this country that goes back to a Sunday morning in May of 1909, when a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd was sitting in church in Spokane, Washington, listening to a Mother's Day sermon. She thought of her father who had raised her and her siblings after her mother died in childbirth, and she thought that fathers should get recognition too.

So she asked the minister of the church if he would deliver a sermon honoring fathers on her father's birthday, which was coming up in June, and the minister did. And the tradition of Father's Day caught on, though rather slowly. Mother's Day became an official holiday in 1914; Father's Day, not until 1972.

Mother's Day is still the busiest day of the year for florists, restaurants and long distance phone companies. Father's Day is the day on which the most collect phone calls are made.


As I listened to the minister's sermon about Father's Day this morning, it struck me that anyone can be a father. The only thing required to be a father is a man with functioning plumbing, a willing female partner and nine months of disorientation. But a patriarch sacrifices for his family knowing that his commitment to his wife and children are an investment in the next generation's children. Patriarchs provide a legacy for their children. They do not abandon their heirs to the mercy of 18 years of child-support checks. I think Sonora Smart Dodd knew this when she thought of her father's legacy. So, why don't we rename the holiday Patriarch's Day? Actually, I think I already know the answer.

BONFIRES AT PRITCHARD PARK

BONFIRES FOR PEACE AT PRITCHARD PARK
June 18, Saturday
2pm to 9pm

VANESSA BOYD, DAWN HUMPHREY, KIMBERLY SUMMER, CROOKED ROUTES, DASHVARA, HAIR by KATIE KASBEN & PHUNCLE SAM

EMCEE: Pasckie Pascua (interjecting poetry reading)

Quote of the day

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
--Attributed to Voltaire
originated in "The Friends of Voltaire", 1906, by S. G. Tallentyre (Evelyn Beatrice Hall)

THE INDIE, May-June 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The Indie published my article "The Roman Catholic Church and the new Pope: A faith-based reality instead of a reality-based faith" in the May-June issue.

The Indie, May-June 2005 Issue features banner stories:
- "Summertime flings, corporate fleas, Wal-Mart dreams, 3rd World trinkets" by Pasckie Pascua
- "The Beasts and I (Part 3 of 4): The Care and Feeding of Moloch" by Michael Hopping
Plus feature:
"Jobless America: Outsourcing Prosperity!" by William Hughes
And Special Philippine supplement:
"I belonged to the merchant marines" by Jason Baquilod

To obtain FREE copies of this issue...
go to their website The Indie
or write:
The Indie
70 Woodfin Place, Suite 01
Asheville NC 28801

or call:
Tel # (828) 225 5994


SPECIAL NOTE: The Indie is a free magazine and I'm sure they would appreciate a small donation (to cover postage) when you request a FREE copy.

And furthermore... It appears that the Mountain Xpress exercised their journalistic right to ignore The Indie as a relevant Asheville publication. Reading from left to right: Free press is alive and well in Asheville, by Nelda Holder, attempted to investigate various publications available in Asheville but neglected to mention The Indie (as well as a couple other free magazines). Thankfully, the readers of Asheville responded. Here's an excerpt from a letter sent to Mountain Xpress and forwarded to The Indie:
The two omitted or ignored newspapers and magazines? The Indie and Rapid River. The Indie has exemplified what a community should be, and it has been existing at least three years... This courageous little rag commands respect from downtown community luminaries and old-timers like Emoke B’Racz of Malaprop’s and Ann Dunn of Asheville Ballet School, as well as the WNC Peace Coalition—who continually supports its efforts. Indie writers Michael Hopping, Pasckie Pascua and Matthew Mulder's writings deserve respect and attention. It’s also the ONLY publication in Asheville that consistently promotes local poets and musicians via their Traveling Bonfires shows in and beyond Asheville.
--S. G.

Thank you Asheville readers... especially those of you who consider The Indie a publication that deserves "respect and attention!"

Portrait of A Young Poet: 04



This cartoon was published last year in The Indie.

The Bonfires at Bearly Edible

Almost forgot to mention this.

The Traveling Bonfires are back in Asheville, June 16, at Bearly Edible.

UPDATE: from an email I received this morning...
A TRAVELING BONFIRES INVITE.
As a "preview" to the "Bonfires for Peace at Pritchard Park" event/concert this Saturday, June 18, we are presenting an intimate Traveling Bonfires show tonight, JUNE 16 (THURS, 7pm to 10pm), at Bearly Edible on 15 Eagle Street (near Fine Arts Theater), downtown Asheville. The show is free.

What DID Jesus Do?

Here's another quote I read as I research the essay I am composing:
The Jesus I met in the Bible would be more concerned about curing AIDs than outlawing homosexual marriage, more troubled by world hunger and violence than an erosion of "family values".
--David Schmike, Utne, March-April 2005


There's stories in the Bible about Jesus feeding the hungry and healing the sick and disabled. But I don't remember anywhere in those stories of Jesus leading a family values rally, anti-war vigil or a pro-life demonstration.

Read the Map

I'm working on an essay and came across this quote in Sy Safransky's Notebook

I dreamt that instead of worshiping one God, I was free to worship as many gods as I wanted. But I wasn't satisfied with the new gods I chose. I missed my old God, he self-assurance and occasional flashes of temper. My new gods seemed so eager to please. They spoke slowly, too loudly, as if I were a foreigner asking for directions -- not like my old God, who'd say "Read the... map."
-- The Sun, May 2005


Maybe I spend too much time listening to new gods and goddesses that I don't read the map. After all, these new gods and goddesses via for my attention like a telemarketer or a direct mail package that advertise a new credit line or some must-have, can't-miss offer. Maybe I'm a bit burned out from church-ianity and how it's often more about politics than faith and true spirituality.

Fan Favorite & Favorite Fan

We were discussing poetic forms and poets during writers group tonight (yes, I made it). Our discussion reminded me of one of my favorite poets.

I BELIEVE IN YOU
by Gibran Khalil

I believe in you, and I believe in your destiny.

I believe that you are contributors to this new civilization.

I believe that you have inherited from your forefathers an ancient dream, a song, a prophecy, which you can proudly lay as a gift of gratitude upon the lap of America.

I believe you can say to the founders of this great nation, "Here I am, a youth, a young tree whose roots were plucked from the hills of Lebanon, yet I am deeply rooted here, and I would be fruitful.

And I believe that you can say to Abraham Lincoln, the blessed, Jesus of Nazareth touched your lips when you spoke, and guided your hand when you wrote; and I shall uphold all that you have said and all that you have written"

I believe that you can say to Emerson and Whitman and James, "In my veins runs the blood of the poets and wise men of old, and it is my desire to come to you and receive, but I shall not come with empty hands.

I believe that even as your fathers came to this land to produce riches, you were born here to produce riches by intelligence, by labor.

And I believe that it is in you to be good citizens.

And what is it to be a good citizen?

It is to acknowledge the other person's rights before asserting your own, but always to be conscious of your own.

It is to be free in thought and deed, but it is to know that your freedom is subject to the other person's freedom.

It is to create the useful and the beautiful with your own hands, and to admire what others have created in love and with faith.

It is to produce wealth by labor and only by labor, and to spend less than you have produced that your children may not be dependent on the state for support when you are no more.

It is to stand before the towers of New York, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco saying in your heart, "I am the descendant of a people that builded Damascus, and Biblus, and Tyre and Sidon, and Antioch, and now I am here to build with you, and with a will.

It is to be proud of being an American, but it is also to be proud that your fathers and mothers came from a land upon which God hid his gracious hand and raised His messengers.

This poem was written for the first edition of Syrian World Magazine published in Brooklyn, NY in 1926


I read poems like this and poems by other masters and I ache inside. Part of the ache is from the impact of the poem itself and the other part is from the knowledge I have so much to learn as a young poet/writer.

This weekend, my wife had been reading a long poem by Robert Pinsky and mentioned how she could see me writing a work like his. I mumbled something about why he wrote that poem and some of the history behind the poet and then I stopped. She expressed confidence in my abilities as a poet. I was dumbfounded. I told her how encouraged I was and then spent most of this last weekend writing new poems, editing old poems and organizing semi-finished poems for a chapbook contest. My wife is my favorite fan.

Dude, I can't believe I missed these events

Last Thursday I got an email announcing:

THE BEAT TO BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE CONNECTION
A celebration in poetry and music with a tribute to poet Robert Creeley


I had plans Friday night and couldn't make it.

Then Friday I found out about an Asheville Bloggers gathering to happen on Saturday.

I had plans Saturday afternoon and couldn't make that either.

This afternoon I found out that I also missed the Second Annual Naked Bike Ride (also last Saturday afternoon). Actually, I guess it was such a success most of Asheville missed it as well. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think a half dozen partially nude folks riding bikes through downtown Asheville is going to attract much attention. After all, this is Asheville -- where mothers breast-feed their children in public.

Oh, well, so many Asheville activities... so little time.

I hope I don't miss writers group tonight.

Bloggers of Asheville Unite

Scrutiny Hooligans has invited Asheville bloggers to unite! Woo-hoo! I think I can actually make it to the event.

UPDATE: Argh, I missed the gathering because I forgot I was supposed to be a wedding at Warren Wilson's Chapel.

Ponder, Theorize and Pontificate

Been reading a lot of material that seems to stimulate thoughts about faith and spirituality. Sy Safransky (The Sun), William D. Waltz (editor of Conduit) and David Schmike, (Utne) have written stuff that has lead my thought along this path. Along this line of thought, I read an essay by Rich Mullins (Making/Being Made) from his book The World as I Remember It where he lists different ways people come to The Bible.

Speculating about it will make you a philosopher and people will think you're really smart. Pontificating about it will make you an orator and people will love to hear you talk. Adulating it will "make you its No. 1 fan" and enable you to present it as a trophy. Attacking it will "make you a skeptic and people will admire your honest, blind determination..." Adapting it will make you a favorite or popular in your sphere of influence. Systemizing it will make you a theologian and "people will quote you" with authority. Criticizing it will "make you a scholar" and multiple academic degrees will be showered upon you. Theorizing about it will "make you an expert in biblical slants on contemporary issues..." Pondering it will "make you a mystic and people will turn to you for spiritual advice..." Practicing it will make you a good, moral person.

I know how I come to the Bible. I ponder, theorize and pontificate. Much to think about. . . Of course, the obvious conclusion would be to stop thinking about it and just practice it.

Rejected

Received two rejection notes from poetry publishers.

My folder of rejection notes is becoming uncomfortably heavy.

Sedaris Coming Soon

David Sedaris visits Malaprop's on Friday, July 1, 2005! This is a ticketed event so order your tickets early. Call Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe: 828-254-6734.

Now all I have to do is check between the car seats for loose change.

Load Your Own Fax Paper

Good article on TalentZoo.com titled "Does Size Matter?" It's basically a trade article about big agency versus small agency and the pros and cons to each. Here's an example:
"SMALL PLACE RESOURCES: You’ll be doing your own comp here. Not to mention sending faxes and loading copy paper. There aren’t going to be legions of people around whose job it is to provide backup. If you’re young, that’s not all bad. You’ll get a taste of different sides of the business. You know. Pay your dues. Earn your stripes."

I still consider myself young. I've been doing this line of work for almost ten years. I enjoy the small agency model because it allows a variety of tasks and responsibilities. But fer cryin' out loud... get someone else to load the fax machine.

Star Wars

Am I the only one who doesn't give a rat's posterior about Episode III?

Oatmeal for Breakfast

Last night I sat on the back porch, rested my head against a canvas camp chair and stared up into the heavens. A patch of sky flanked by an oak tree (to the east), tulip poplars (to the south) and the cottage eaves (covering the north and west) presented an odd crescent. It's been a brutal few weeks and an evening meditation offered my fatigued mind some rest. Thought maybe a cold Samuel Adams Ale or Killian's Irish Red would be nice right about then, but the refrigerator was empty of such treats, only necessities this month--so, no smooth caramelized malt beverage. Last month held too many doctor visits. That means this month we feast on oatmeal for breakfast.

I heard the kitchen door open and my son asked if he could pee outside (he's toilet training). I glanced at the secluded backyard and said yes. I don't remember if he did or didn't for he quickly took to picking up twigs and placing them in a plastic bucket. The tree leaves grew darker green and the evening sky deepened to a somber shade of blue. I looked to the forest to the east of the cottage. It was already night in the woods and I wondered about the raccoon visitor from last week. I can't imagine moving anywhere else. Yet, something deep inside tells me there's another place.

Americanese

Found this linguistic test online. I think it pretty well pegged me. So, does this make me a Southern writer or a Northern writer?



Your Linguistic Profile:



60% General American English

20% Dixie

10% Upper Midwestern

10% Yankee

0% Midwestern


Biodiesel

Just read Biodiesel: It Isn't Just For Hippies Anymore posted on Scrutiny Hooligans. There are some great facts and links referenced. I did not realize that cars (diesel vehicles) require no modification in order to use biodiesel fuel. The only thing I didn't find was a consumer cost per gallon to run a car. There was a figure from 2000 regarding $1.21 to $1.99 per gallon for homeowners heating oil customers. There was indirect mention that biodiesel typically runs $.10 higher than petroleum diesel (which currently hovers somewhere between $1.48 to $1.58 per gallon). Still, very informative read. I think I'd like a (bio)diesel truck.

Lactivists and Public Breast-feeding

Reading through The New York Times during my lunch break and came upon this piece that begins:
The calls for a "nurse-in" began on the Internet mere moments after Barbara Walters uttered a negative remark about public breast-feeding on her ABC talk show, "The View."
-- By AMY HARMON, read the full story at The New York Times


Both of my children are (or were) breast-fed. I don't speak for my wife, but I prefer to have our children breast-fed than to feed them an artificial substitute. Feeding children formula is as unnatural as raising children on television reality.

Several things surprise me about this story. One, The New York Times Magazine ran a feature story several months ago about the dangers of breast-feeding (Toxic Breast Milk?). That article was a poor example of the breast-feeding issue. I guess this is part of their equal opportunity reporting.

Second, 70 percent of mothers breast-feed their children, which is up from fifteen years ago (only 50 percent). This is good news but still not as high as European mothers.

Lastly, why is this even a story? Barbara Walters felt "uncomfortable" at the sight of a mother publicly breast-feeding her child. Here in Asheville, it's not a big deal. In fact, it's encouraged if not praised. I suspect the reason Barbara Walters felt "uncomfortable" is because she (like many Americans) view breasts as a sexual object (need I say Pamela Anderson?) and not an object of motherhood.

People make you feel like you're doing something dirty, almost," said Rene Harrell, 26, of Chantilly, Va., who said she was recently asked to leave a Delta airport lounge in Atlanta as she nursed her 8-month-old son, Elijah.
read full story


There is nothing more wholesome than a mother nursing her child. It's difficult to imagine someone asking a nursing mother to leave a Starbucks or IHOP or bus for the simple fact that her child needs food. My wife and I have never been asked to leave a restaurant or cafe because she's nursing our child. In fact, some waitresses will ask the age of the child.


Rich Flisher, 39, a neighborhood resident passing by the nurse-in. "I do prefer it if you're discreet, but hey, I'm behind you. Go go go."
read full story


It's sad to think American mothers have to be "Lactivists" to protect the very nature of what it is to be a mother.

The Writing Life -- Lesson Twelve

Each Monday night I join a small group of writers at UNCA. We congregate at the library and find a study room (usually complete with four chairs and a table) where we write from a weekly prompt. We play with letters and words and stream of consciousness for roughly thirty minutes and then we read what we've written in our best Ira Glass sounding intonation.


It should surprise no one that the life of the writer... is colorless to the point of sensory deprivation. Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world... Writers read literary biography, and surround themselves with other writers, deliberately to enforce in themselves the ludicrous notion that a reasonable option for occupying yourself on the planet until your life span plays itself out is sitting in a small room for the duration, in the company of pieces of paper.
--Annie Dillard, The Writing Life


For a couple weeks the library was closed. So, the group met at a tea house (I missed all those meeting due to illness). But a library seems the most appropriate place for writers to met and work and discuss and encourage one another.

I told this to the group last night before we left, that I had considered signing up for a summer poetry class but I backed out. A lot of these writing classes are filled with older people (I am generalizing a bit... but not much) who have wanted to write poetry their whole lives and now that they are retired they finally have time to fool with words. I didn't want to spend the 70 bucks when I can gather each week with an intimate circle of young (twenty- or thirtysomethings) writers who have an intense passion to compose verse and lyric.

We don't want to wait until we retire to seriously pursue the writing life. So, we write amidst the towering stacks of other writers--c'est la vie (that's life).

Morning Cup of Java

I'll never be able to look at a cup of coffee quite the same way.

I read Bluegression's genesis and considered that my life is not an accident.

No Coffee for 12 Days

Last night I broke my coffee fast of twelve days with two cups of coffee at IHOP. Wasn't like I was banning myself from my favorite bean beverage for moral or health reasons. Just wanted to give yerba mate a try as preferred warm/hot beverage. Yerba mate with a spoon of sourwood honey goes well with toast and eggs at breakfast time. I could get used to it. In fact, it makes a good afternoon and early evening drink as well.

However, that diner coffee with a bit a sugar and cream sure tasted good last night.

The Great Disbelief

Just found this as a draft. Sometimes I begin to write something and hit the "Save as Draft" button and forget to publish it. So, originally intended to be published June 1, 2005.

From today's The Writer's Almanac:
It was on this day in 1942, a newspaper in Warsaw published the first account of Jews being gassed to death in a concentration camp. This was the first time the news of the Nazis' "Final Solution" became public... The first concentration camps were set up not for Jews but for political dissidents, unionists, social democrats; then homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and Gypsies. The first people the Nazis exterminated were the mentally and physically disabled...

It's that last line that penetrates my soul. The mentally and physically disabled were the first to go. The helpless were the first to be exterminated. The defenseless were the first killed. Only bullies and tyrants prey upon the weak because they lack compassion but also because it's easy to murder someone who offers little if any resistance. What cowards they were.

My youngest sister fits in the category of the first. That's partly why I felt compelled to write the banner story, "A Terri Schiavo Epitaph," for the April issue of The Indie. My sister requires daily assistance, not to the extent that Terri Schiavo did. But the mentally and physically disabled need the mentally and physically fit to care for them as it is our duty as ambassadors of compassion. What happened to Terri was domestic abuse by a negligent husband. After all, isn't easier to exterminate the weak than provide for them?




I thought about posting "A Terri Schiavo Epitaph" here on 1000 Black Lines, but I decided against it. One reason is because I would prefer that you request a copy of The Indie. Secondly, I am a little embarrassed by the way the article seemed to meander around the point I was attempting to make. Many parts of the Terri Schiavo saga were of great interest to me personally, but may not have been for the reader. Rabbit trails are entertaining in conversation but in prose they discourage the reader from finishing the story.

What frightens me is that every person has the propensity to be a Nazi. It's simple. It's easy. Divest yourself of compassion for mankind and dehumanize a person or group of people. Look at the progression the Nazis used: "political dissidents, unionists, social democrats; then homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and Gypsies." You see how the Nazis executed people who didn't agree with their politics or people the didn't like or people the thought were not useful to society in general.

Could that happen in America? I don't know. I hope not. But look how easy it could be: political activists, unionists, democrats (or progressives or republicans), homosexuals (or monogamous heterosexuals or polygamous heterosexuals), Jehovah's Witnesses (or Christians or Muslims or Buddhists or Atheists) and Hippies (or peace-niks or punk-rawkers or graphic designers or marketeers). This frightens me, yet also galvanizes my pursuit of and practice of compassion toward all mankind.

This might sound alarmist. It did almost 60 years ago.
The Writer's Almanac goes on to state that even after...

...the story reached the public, it was met with disbelief, even by many Jews...

Has history taught us nothing? Practice compassion today, before we read of more atrocities in the papers or on the web.