25 March, 2013

Losantiville Lines: The Sweet Snows of Spring

We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side. -- Kahlil Gibran

Bouncing up and down the Ohio River as I've been doing, I am thinking about the merits of having a vehicle; nothing grand, you understand, or anything to go into debt for. My thoughts are tending towards a respectably older model small truck, extended cab, with some kind of cover over the bed. I'd leave it parked on some jaunts, naturally; I still think public transportation is a necessary thing and I plan on taking advantage of it whenever possible.

But since Porkopolis likes to drag it's cloven hooves through the matter of public transportation, and since Ohio's current Governor is a mook of the highest order, short range public transit is limited to the Greyhound Bus, or the middle of the night Amtrak runs. And while I don't object to the bus and I love to ride the train, I'm starting to think it might be nice to have some flexibility, transportation-wise.

The semester at NKU is running out quickly. In some ways, it can't go quickly enough. The experience is good, and I am enjoying all of it but the usual tedium of having to be on someone else's clock -- albeit a loosey goosey part-time academic clock. But I am ready to move on. Towards that end, in addition to my two classes and phone-based tutoring, I volunteered to teach a colleague's ENG 101 for the rest of the semester on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

That means more papers to read. But it also means a bit more money to put towards the endeavor of updating my pack and person, as well as saving cash for the Travel Fund.

I'm looking towards the summer. DaveFest up in Mount Carroll, The Kid's high school graduation and move to North Carolina, spending more time down river, and a jaunt north to the tar sands around Williston, North Dakota.

And hopefully, along the way, some hootinannying, some storytelling, some musicification, and some poetisizing.


And also some gardening planting, some booze brewing, and other such semi-domesticatifications. I may even make soap.

Don't forget that copies of End Notes to the Deep Atlas of Time are available. There are also a few few few copies left of The Crossing of St. Frank and Whitman By Moonlight. See the tab CHAPBOOKS, ETC for more details.

Gawd Bless.


In spite of all prestidigitation indicating the contrary, this recent late season snow is STILL not the ever impending ZOMBIE-SNOW-POCYCLPSE. Not yet. Not now. We will now return to our regularly scheduled ennui.<\i>

Location:Cincinnati, OH

14 March, 2013

Losantiville Lines (The Louisville Edition): Pope Francis and The Dirty War

Social Conservatives tend to love dictators. Dictators are good at keeping the traffic moving. - From Travel Journal

When a General named Videla took control of the Argentinian government in 1976, it was, like all military juntas, about putting things in order. The previous government under Peron had tried to institute reforms that were intended to be neither Capitalistic nor Communistic in nature; Justicalism was, in theory meant to address economic and social issues without resorting to the growing Neoliberalism (unfettered profiteering spouted by Friedman and his Chicago Boys) and the dark Stalinism that was being passed off as the only alternative to Capitalism. 

Peron's ideas were corporatist and nationalistic, but they were too ill--formed and vague to take on any of the hints of fascism that underlie such political notions. They were, however, anti-capitalist enough to attract the attention of Henry Kissinger -- who, with the weight and power and in the name of the United States, secretly backed the coup that unseated the democratically elected President of Argentina. 

Under Videla, opposition was squashed violently. Thousands of people disappeared, liberties were systematically erased. This was El Proceso, the process to set Argentina on the right path -- a path that included merciless neoliberalism and inclusion in a continent-wide plan hatched by Chilean Dictator Pinochet (who was also put into office by a US backed coup) called Operation Condor. 

El Proceso eventually got another La Guerra Sucia. The Dirty War. 

No one was safe. Not even the clergy. 

Now keep in mind that in spite of more than a few rabble rousers, the hierarchy of organized religion, and the Catholic Church in particular, has always stood on the side of The State. Christian Dogma has long held that the human race, being a fallen critter since Eve ate the poisoned apple, needs their evil natures kept in check -- the rule of law being the only instrument other than divine grace that can fit the bill.  

It's not surprising then, that the Archbishop of Buenos Ares would try and contend with a dictator by focusing on things other than politics.

It is surprising that the head of church in the capital city would turn a blind eye when Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalica, both Catholic priests were taken by government forces. Yorio later claimed they were kidnapped because they visited the city's slums as part of their duties as priests. Yorio also claimed that Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio was complicit in the kidnapping because he refused to sanction the visits and even ordered the priests to stop going. 

The priests were held for 5 months.

Bergoglio later claimed to have interceded on their behalf, securing their release. This did not keep him from being indicted later.

Coincidentally, another priest was eventually convicted of not only aiding in the disappearances of dissidents, but of torturing them while in custody. And last year, Videla himself was convicted of instituting a program that would systematically kidnap the infant children of known and suspected dissidents.  

There is nothing to suggest that Bergoglio knew about the torture committed by a priest under his purview, and other than the statement of Yorio there's been no proof publicly presented that he had any connection to the kidnapping of Jalica and Yorio.  And he probably didn't know about Videla's plan to steal children.

But he certainly knew the kind of cruel despot Videla was. And it's difficult for me to understand how a religious institution that produced Father Haggerty, Ammon Hennacy, and Dorothy Day also elevated to it's highest seat a man who saw the face of tyranny and looked away.


13 March, 2013

Losantiville Lines (The Louisville Edition) Garlic and Journalism

Objective journalism -- it's what we teach. And it's what no one reads. -- J.Atkins, journalism professor

While on the can this morning I read through a local paper here River City -- not the local tentacle of Gannett, but a locally produced arts and entertainment rag. The contents ranged from a cover story of a local brewmaster.. which was not so much an article and more a Q&A advertorial... to some local music write-ups and some interesting splice of life pieces. There was no news, local or national, to speak of.  

Granted, it's a focused publication put out by some passionate and dedicated folk with a specific audience in mind; and from what I can gather, it's not meant to face off with LEO, Louisville's free alternative weekly that is NOT, unlike Losantiville's one and only CityBeat, a wholly owned subsidiary of Village Voice Media. 

The Arts don't get nearly enough attention nationwide. Locally, however -- and it doesn't matter what locality you happen to live in -- news doesn't  get much attention, either. And in culture that is driven entirely by niche-focused marketing in every aspect from shoes to Presidential candidates, the news is yet one more thing that's tailor made for the savvy consumer. 

But as I've written about before -- in various blogs and in newsprint -- one of the problems with media is that people say they want objective journalism, but they really want something else. They want a straight shooter, but with a slant they already agree with. They claim to want the facts, but only when those factoids reflect a reality they can live with rather than the one that exists. 

This true whether you're trying to unseat a mayor and city clerk as part of a personal vendetta -- Nina Cooper, Bob Sisler, and Doris Bork, I'm talking about you -- or whether you're so focused on 2nd Amendment paranoia and the creeping specter of mis-categorized Socialism to notice that a so-called environmental President is about to rubber stamp a giant  sludge pipeline that will stretch from Alberta, Canada and end in Texas. 

We can't improve transportation infrastructure in this country -- thanks in large part to a GOP Congress that wouldn't pass the Jobs bill last year --  but we can build a pipeline that will be an environmental, economic, and military boondoggle for years to come.

But as as long as someone is making a quick buck and someone else is doing all the hard work, the system can limp on into perpetuity. 

All that matters though is there will soon be a new Pontiff and Rand Paul will keep on trying to keep himself in the  national spotlight rather than serving the people who, in spite of common sense, elect him to office.

11 March, 2013

Losantiville Lines: Daylight Saving Time

You find such interesting things on the bus.

I couldn't ask for better weather to start Spring Break. And even though the rain rolled in after midnight last night, it was neither violent, nor unwelcome. The sound of rain, like the sound of trains and enough bourbon, help me sleep. 

(I hope my friends up in the flood plains of Northwestern Illinois are also faring well this morning... particularly anyone along the Plum River in Carroll County and the immediate area around a certain property adjacent to railroad tracks owned by the Canadian Pacific Railroad. I had heard via the rumor mill that a certain Mr. Parker -- a prominent land owner, volunteer fireman, and disgraced banker who once threatened to sue me for using his name in a well researched article regarding his bog and its part in flooding of 17 homes along the Plum River -- ended up selling the property to the railroad. But since rumors of this nature are a combination of fact, lies, and blind naive optimism, it's difficult to trust without further verification.)

So, well rested as I am on this rainy Monday morning, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the notion of Spring Break, which don't fail to catch my attention, in the spirit of collegiate professionalism and the socially responsible communication of information that is the watershed mark of any civilized society.

1. Spring Break is earlier than it used to be.

It was once understood that Spring Break coincided with the religious observance  of Easter. While I don't adhere to that particular religious inclination, it does seem unfair to those who worship zombies and egg laying rabbits. 

2. This past Sunday (yesterday) was the day when everyplace in the country except for Arizona and a small strip of land in Indiana turn our clocks an hour forward.

The sick and  twisted nature of Daylight Savings Time is commonly known and often complained about; but people still persist in believing, against all logic, that turning a clock an hour forward or back somehow adds to or takes away from the hours in a day.

**Correction and addendum: most people don't change their own clocks anymore. "Smart Phones" have taken on this responsibility for  us.  So, not only is the country deluded about the nature of time and space, we have taken yet another step away personal responsibility by letting our phones be in charge of whether there are 23 or 24 hours in a day.

3. Spring Break, as a concept, only exists for those who teach, or those who are students.

And I was told by one of my students that most of my colleagues in higher education assigned work to be done over the break.


Not only that, but most of my students have jobs, especially since the cost of higher education tends to increase (6% per year on average since 1980) while teacher's wages either stagnate or increase at pace not equal with the increase in tuition.

Related, tangentially, is the fact that while unemployment (in the flawed way the record of is measured and kept) is down, those who are working are having to work longer for less.

One might suppose then, that assigning work over the Break is intended as some life lesson... getting the kiddies accustomed to never getting a chance to breathe, rest, relax, or bask in the sun with a jug of wine and a pliably attractive person they wouldn't mind seeing naked.

In my experience though, that assumes far too much intelligence on the part of the bean counters who run institutions of higher education.

4. On the other hand, scheduling Spring Break to coincide with the annual "Spring Forward" mode of Daylight Savings Time seems to suggest that someone, somewhere, wants to whittle away the little bit of time afforded to students and teachers for rest, relaxation, and naked wine drinking.

This, along with factoid #3 suggests to me that while there may not be an organized plot to make people miserable, there is a widespread and perhaps systemic need to pass on misery, stress, discontent, and thwarted desire.

The solution, Dear Readers, is an obvious one. Find someone you might want to see naked, and -- if you are at all suspicious that they too, want to see you naked -- go in together for a cheap jug of sweet wine. Then go in search of sunshine. Or cozy cover from the rain.

And ignore all that Daylight Savings Time crap. All it was ever intended to do was sell more lightbulbs. 

Addendum: Along with that jug of sweet wine, take poetry. For example, a copy of END NOTES FROM THE ATLAS OF DEEP TIME, which is available, conveniently, through this website. 

03 March, 2013

Losantiville Lines: Downsizing, Upgrading, Minimizing

T.J. has been on my mind.

I met T.J. in 2000, while I was living in New Orleans. I met him before I started working my job as a dental receptionist. That meant I had plenty of time to wander the Quarter, The Riverwalk,and a decent part of Mid-City around Canal Street, orienting myself to the city. I had, in order to help myself learn my way around, purchased a city map; not one of those touristy ones, but a street level map. In addition to having a fondness for maps, I was lucky enough to wander the streets of The Big Easy before the intrusion of Garmin or Google maps.

T.J. was camped out along the Riverwalk. I say camped, but to be fair he probably slept at one of the local shelters or snuck into the park at Jackson Square hoping to avoid the frequent rousting by the NOPD. He was, nonetheless, parked in a high foot traffic area, where he insured the safety of his bindle by puking in a near perfect circle around it. He bragged to me that he could almost always do this, and even when he couldn't, he could muster enough to take a piss around it... though never in daylight.

He made his living pan-handling. I never found out exactly what made him choose that particular line, or why. I think I understand now, maybe. T.J. lived on the road; he explained to me that he traveled between Knoxville, TN, and New Orleans... wintering in New Orleans and summering in Tennessee. It had never occured to me before that such a pattern made sense; but, as T.J. pointed out, and as I have ruminated on in the years since, it's good enough for the birds.

I've been sitting out the winter in the Ohio Valley, keeping a not too strenuous schedule as a part-time departmental work horse in the Literature and Language and an online writing tutor through Union Institute and University. And it's been nice. I spend most weekends in Louisville with the most amazing Traveler's Angel, Amanda. Then I come back to Cincinnati to teach and plan my next jaunt.

Oh yes my next jaunt is on the horizon. The issue for me is not so much whether I will go out or whether I will not go out; the issue is when.

I'm obligated to the end of the semester, and I have The Kid's high school graduation in early June, out in Norfolk (still the most unpleasant and unfriendly place I have ever been... and I have been to Coalinga Junction, California.) At the end of May, I'm planning a trip, accompanied by Amanda,back to Paint City... otherwise known as Mount Carroll,in the state of ILL(INOIS) to participate in the annual DAVEFEST which coincides with Mount Carroll's Memorial Day Celebration, MAYFEST. The latter is quaint, though improving with the addition of a beer tent that necessarily overcharges and the not-unexpected over enforcement of the local Police and County Sheriff's Departments. The former is a campfire, a group of sundry musicians and other nar'dowell types, and a chance to visit friends whose company I miss probably more than they miss mine.

After DAVEFEST and after The Kid's graduation -- for which I will endure the company of her mother (the feeling is mutual, I'm sure), Step-Daddy Tailhook McShorty, and Plus-1... the two-legged gastropod my daughter is entangled with -- I plan on another jaunt. Initially, I was planning a North to South trip down the East Coast, revisiting some places and hopefully some people I saw last winter and continuing on down the coast, around Florida, to the Keys and back up, possibly hitting New Orleans before heading back via some as of yet undetermined route and mode of transportation.

But then there was that other thought. That's right.


Before deciding to settle in for the winter and earn some money for the Travel Fund, I was pondering a jaunt up to North Dakota, to around Williston where the oils sands are. Why? Well, while I am no fan of cold weather -- anyone who knows me knows this -- I am intrigued by the notion of boom towns. I'ave already seen what happens when the boom goes bust. But I am curious as to what a wild northern boom town looks like in this year of our Lawd, 2013.

The boom town is still there, and will be. And Gawd willing, the temperatures in July will be a bit more palatable.

But you can be assured I am not packing for the beach.

I will save my southern trip for a more logical season, following the seemingly specious wisdom of T.J. and the natural sense of most flying fowl.

Being as I have been... albeit temporarily... stationary, I also decided to update and fine tune my traveling gear. For one thing, my blue rucksack, which served me many a mile and lasted longer than it's Chinese sweatshop handiwork and $26.00 price tag could have possibly allowed for, needed replacing. And it didn't escape my notice that on my last trip out, I ended up carrying a few things I didn't need, didn't have a few things that could have been useful, and encountered a few situations... like having to sleep on the side of the road in Southern Ill(inois)... in which having a few simple, lightweight items would have come in handy.

Keeping an eye on pack weight, I have managed to reduce what I carry and add a few things that would have been useful.... which, will still keep my pack weight manageable. although my new blue rucksack is stronger, a bit bigger, and American made. I wanted to make sure that if I have to walk 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 miles that it won't be cumbersome. I also wanted to make sure that both my new pack and I could stay dry.

Never fear, Dear Readers. I will still be in touch while out exploring just what new and wondrous world can come from finding an even more efficient way of squeezing a non-renewable resource out the Earth to the betterment of our Capitalistic Republic as well as to the profit margins of those poor poor oil companies that have done so so badly in this economy. (Ahem.)

Location:Cincinnati, OH

02 March, 2013

Losantiville Lines: Down River Chorus, Version 1

The world is already cut up and we are snarling over scraps
deliberately dropped by a pale paternalistic hand
to keep us wanting and to keep us from wondering
what it is on the table we're not supposed to see.
--'Philosophy of a Dog', Cincinnati Daybook

The semester is over at NKU... or, over for me, at any rate. The last class meetings were this past Friday. Endings are always a bit anti-climactic; at least they are for me. In a writing classroom, all the real work is done well before the official clock runs out.

I enjoyed being back in the classroom again, and hope to do more of it. Of course, I also hope to dig back into some good old fashioned honorable muckraking. And I am preparing for another jaunt -- the sometime ago writ of toot off to the northern country, North Dakota and maybe Montana. Specifically, I'm making plans to visit Williston, ND, and maybe Rigby which, according to some map or another, is the geographic center of the North American Continent. I would also like to visit the northern part of Montana I didn't get to see when I was out there last year -- that vast part of the state that's on the northern side of the Rocky Mountains, sweeping up to and past the abstract line that has been determined to be the Canadian border.

Travel enough and you begin to realize that the lines on the map are more of an idealized abstraction than a reality. It is our insistence on making them hard lines that they become and stay hard lines. Ask the Dakota Indians, the Lakota or Sioux where the boundaries are, you have a very different map.

The truth is that maps are constantly being drawn and redrawn. The maps in our heads, private and collective, are always under revision, and are under constant threat of erasure. We map out our individual landscapes and change them based on changes in employment, marital, relational, and any other number of personally significant mile markers, totems, and landmarks. We redraw collective landscapes based on war, and the exchange of property and the delineation of those multi-national corporations whose arbitrary lines are not the same as those inscribed on geopolitical maps.

These revisions and erasures happen all the time.

And yet there is no end to the call to defend these lines. I can't help but notice among Facebook memes the harbingers of doom and death. So much money is made on the backs of our cultural fear and paranoia, and yet rather than look to see who is profiting (Defense Industry, gun manufacturers, makers of better police gear, private security and private army corporations, big oil, lobbyists, and the politicians who are more effective beggars than any panhandler I have ever seen or met.) we perpetuate the cultural death march.

Though I have spent the winter more or less stationary, I have spent the time wisely; and I am looking forward to what life has to offer and to teach me. Being a traveller is not always about being on the move. Sometimes it's about standing still and feeling the rhythm of the world as it reverberates in your bones, calling out those ancient songs and poems that only your voice can give life to.

Location:Louisville, KY