A Dude Is In the Mood for Some Gratitude

What better time to count our blessings but the national orgy of food, booze, and sloth? One that’s based on a false history involving dining peacefully while in reality White settlers were oppressing the indigenous Native Americans known as Thanksgiving. Don’t forget watching overpaid millionaires beat the hell out of each other on television, also while insulting Natives. (You finally ditched your racist mascot, Washington Football Team, but I’m looking at you, Kansas City Chiefs). Turkey Day proceeds our other orgy of consumption: buying stuff on Black Friday. But for many, it’s Buy Nothing Day. Also in protest, you can commemorate the National Day of Mourning. (Watch the Livestream at 1 pm Eastern.)

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Snow in Austin, Winter in America – Still

A year and two weeks ago, I wrote Snow in Austin, Winter in America, based on a powerful song by Gil Scott-Heron. I think that post is some of my best work, not necessarily prize-winning, but in trying to capture a mood. (You should go read it now. I’ll wait.) The street poet, progenitor of rap, musician, and author was a voice of conscience regarding the state of Black people in America, among other things. He could also lay down some serious grooves to go with his strong words; Winter in America is in a minor key and has a great blues flute solo. I wrote that post right before coronavirus began its whirlwind tour of the US — just before it went viral. (Ha!) It was a few months before the modern-day lynching of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. (Not ha.) Scott-Heron died on May 27, 2011, a decade ago later this year. What would he have to say about Floyd’s killer, Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin still being out on bail awaiting trial and maybe even getting some justice for George (yeah, we’ll see about that)? Time marches on. But as Sting once sang,“History will teach us nothing.” The prophetic music and lyrics of Scott-Heron and others like him (Marvin Gaye comes to mind) are relevant — still. Maybe in GSH’s poetry we can find a little solace in these cold and dark days. Or maybe we’ll get pissed and take action somehow. It is Black History Month, but is there more to it than history?

Scott-Heron performing at WOMAD in Bristol, 1986
Gil Scott-Heron in 1986. Source
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Nonviolent Justice for George Floyd & Breonna Taylor et al. (P.S. I Bicycled 2,500 Miles in 5 Months)

For the record, I join the majority of sentient humans with brains, hearts and consciences — people who know the difference between right and wrong — and oppose the unnecessary and allegedly illegal police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Closer to home, police killed Botham Jean in Dallas and Mike Ramos right here in Austin, That’s just four among the many, Many, MANY more people of color abused and murdered by police brutality and institutional racism. I’m also opposed to violent protesters distracting from the message of nonviolent social justice.

There’s not much more to add that millions of others aren’t already saying. But I will try to speak my truth as a white ally. By the way, there’s a pandemic still going on. Meanwhile, far, Far, FAR lower on the spectrum of things that matter is this. I still rode my bicycle every day in May for a total of 488 miles, averaging 15.74 per day, totaling 2,501 for 2020 thus far. And my knees hurt. Probably from biking every day in May for … you get it. If I do not report this, the government-backed terrorists win. So report I shall. Bear with me as I write a post that may make no sense but has to be said.

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Verisimilitude: Leap Day Twenty Twenty Poem

Sitting at my keyboard
wondering what to type
college friend emails from India
she ain't got no Skype
Once did yoga on her lawn
sun-drenched shorts of orange 
light dappled her auburn hair
nothing rhymes with orange
I've no right to write poetry
just a simple bike ridin' dude
but who says I can't rhyme
and speak of verisimilitude?
Barely rode my bike this week
cuz of my damn temp job
gotta pay the man rent, man
or land on the street, a slob
Have you heard the news today?
oh boy, every day a new doozy
while the tyrant rants and sycophants blather
I'd really rather just take another snooze, see?
It's sunny out there but pitch dark inside
seconds, minutes, hours pass relentlessly
time's on no one's side but its own
never ever can shake this baby called ennui
Can't get no satisfaction, though I try sometimes
through time and space I move this body of girth
endless campaign, killer virus, stock market crash
Antarctica's melting; not to worry, people of Earth!
Don't worry, be happy, this too shall pass
worst form of government, 'cept all the rest - democracy
real Americans do retail therapy, Netflix and chill
problem is telling truth from lies, what's real from hypocrisy
Honesty is hardly ever heard, word to your muthah 
zone out to your jams, take your medicine and sleep
put on a happy face, fear not, and be of good cheer
might as well jump to conclusions and take a faithful leap

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Snow in Austin, Winter in America

Snow fell from the cold, dark skies on my bike ride home from the gym. The frozen precipitation is rare in Central Texas, especially in relatively mild winters like we’ve been having. So it’s a wondrous sight when it does snow. I felt lucky to have been outside riding when it came down. Light, white, wet kisses on my face melted quickly. Some accumulated on car hoods and lawn chairs, and the roommates and dogs were happy to see and feel it, too.

Of course in other places, there are no romantic notions about snow, because they’re drowning in it and shoveling it by metric ton. Another substance is also being shoveled in similar quantities, but it’s brown, smelly, and comes out of the back end of a cow. And by that of course, I can only be referring to the State of the Union, which was by some accounts a total snow job. Winter isn’t coming, Jon Snow, it’s already here. The revolution will not be televised. It’s winter in America.

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