Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
Mum mum mum mah
I wanna hold ’em like they do in Texas, please
Fold ’em, let ’em hit me, raise it; baby, stay with me (I love it)
LoveGame intuition, play the cards with spades to start
And after he’s been hooked, I’ll play the one that’s on his heart
“We have not yet gathered up the experience of mankind in the tilling of the earth; yet the tilling of the earth is the bottom condition of civilization. If we are to assemble all the forces and agencies that make for the final conquest of the planet, we must assuredly know how it is that all the peoples in all the places have met the problem of producing their sustenance out of the soil.”
My daughter Amelia’s wedding is less than a month away and I don’t know how I will get there. There is Chapel Hill, N.C. where Joanna, Amelia’s older sister, graduated with a BA in English and also with honors received nurses training necessary to receive registered nurse certification.
There at Chapel Hill I will hold my three-month old granddaughter Juliet for the first time.
The easiest way to make a donation is to log on to your PayPal account and donation–please, please–$18 to me at this email address: [email protected]. Or, there is a PayPal tool below to simplify (or complicate) your generosity.
A haircut is required for me to scoot Amelia down the aisle and to hold granddaughter Juiet Mae in my arms [Preferably not simultaneously].
Going from there to Greensboro, I will be officiating at the unveiling of my mother’s headstone.
I will be reading the first Psalm at the unveiling and recite Kaddish. Afterward, I will take ten minutes of the family’s remembrance of mother to talk about Mother’s affection for Bialik, the Walt Whitman of still modern Hebrew poetry.
Pay Pal Donation Instrument
“Give away Amelia; hold Juliet”
Maimonedes rules for charity recipients
Partial thank you note to HV:
“Under the terms of Maimonedes’s Codex of Jewish law on charities, as a first priority recipient, I have an obligation to repay you this money when I recover from my ongoing reversals of fortune.
“Congratulations, you are the first donor to be eligible for my new policy of following 12 Century Law written in Arabic.”
I will be discussing Maimonides, spiritual growth, and my career goals. Here are the real issues I face–begging bowl in hand–regarding my charity requirements.
Fulfilly my potential as one who is disabled and elderly
Overcoming the obstacles I face including being able to pay for diapers
Hoping to avoid the reality of nursing homes
Maimonides on Charity (tzedakah)
“One of the most widely referred to sections of the Mishneh Torah is the section dealing with tzedakah. In Hilkhot Matanot Aniyim (Laws about Giving to Poor People), Chapter 10:7–14, Maimonides lists his famous Eight Levels of Giving (where the first level is most preferable, and the eighth the least):
“Giving an interest-free loan to a person in need; forming a partnership with a person in need; giving a grant to a person in need; finding a job for a person in need; so long as that loan, grant, partnership, or job results in the person no longer living by relying upon others.”
I am preparing to become a grandfather; Joanna’s due date is early April, 2016
“Driving to the World Series of Rodeo in Oklahoma City while listening to the Eagles over the radio” might be considered an eccentric way of saying, “My elder daughter Joanna is pregnant. The due date is April 2016. I am counting down the months ahead when I will be handing out cigars–chewing gum, chocolate and real tobacco cigars while announcing, “I am a Zeyda.”
In my culture Zeyda is all the title required to command respect for my wisdom, sagacity, and mindfulness. [Yes, there are the parents Joanna and Jade to consider.]
With a grandfatherly purpose (which will be revealed) I write about the 1972 World Series of Rodeo with deliberate intent. The appearance of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is deliberate.
“Keep on Trucking,” especially in this R. Crumb rendition, is a lifetime motto although as I prepare to become a Zeyda my mind turns to 1972 and the Gusher Club in Oklahoma City
The news that I am about to become a grandfather has been occupying all lobes of my brain.
Except, like Donovan’s Brain, my brain has expanded to prepare for Amelia and Javier’s wedding August, 2016, Chapel Hill, NC where I will be giving away the bride to Javier Blanco a sergeant in the Spanish Army. Amelia and Javier live in Toledo [not Ohio]. The wedding will be officiated by my friend Adam Phillips.
You Tube Note:
When I came to the emergency room a week ago Thursday, a massive infection swept through my body. On my site, I will provide a list of names of the physicians who saved my life. I will also tell you about my doctors, the staff–wonderful staff–who paraded in and out my room. When I arrived, I was so infectious that I could not kiss you [whoever you are.]
Now you can kiss me. Toward the end of my stay only hospital workers had to wear gowns when entering my room. They also had to shed gowns immediately upon leaving. Visitors did not have to wear gowns. The gown-precaution was to reduce the remote chance that the oncology patients on the forth floor might catch a germ from a hospital worker.
Immediately after this film, my physician in charge walked in without a gown and shook my hand without a glove. Yesterday, Dr. Salmon Haroon told me that it is safe for me to visit my daughter Joanna who is pregnant with my first grandchild.
This video will be the first of future efforts to work with hospital architects and maintenance administrators to make Mt. Nittany hospital rooms more accessible while at the same reducing costs. In February I plan to publish an academic technical report for the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center on this subject.
In 1972, after flying back from the New York courthouse where I obtained an annulment from Vicki, I became a legal resident in the State of California. After living with a good friend, I decided to live alone which also pleased Hadley.
On the flight from the annulment, Mary, a California-raised nurse then living in New York, was on vacation. A brief conversation about the fact that she was wearing yellow glasses may have contributed to our arranging to sit next to each other. Deer hunters wear yellow glasses to better kill their prey trying to hide behind trees. Why Mary was wearing yellow glasses from JFK to San Francisco airport….
I explained to Mary that I had a lot of business ahead of me:
–Renting an apartment
–Traveling to REMOTE Northern California where I had spoken to legendary cartoonist R. Crumb by phone in NYC, but whom I wanted to see in person
–Preparing to drive from San Francisco to Lubock, Texas and then take a bus to Oklahoma City where I would be lodged at the World Series of Rodeo headquarters hotel, drink with cowboys and cowgirls and the author of Dallas North 40 in the Hilton’s Gusher Club and cover bull riding and the other events three hours a night for five nights and several blurry early mornings.
Mary said she would spend her vacation helping me find an apartment. She said helping me generally sounded like fun. However, first we had to go on a helicopter ride.
We flew from the San Francisco Airport to the Oakland Airport where Mary had reserved an automobile. She called her sister whom she had been planning to visit. It was a private call. Then, she drove to the house I shared with Hadley on Bernal Heights. http://www.datapointed.net/2010/02/more-steeps-of-san-francisco/bernal heights
“I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!” Less than 12 hours after delivered his I Have Been to the Mountaintop speech (excerpted below), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed.
I have been to the mountaintop
It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.”
And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.
And I don’t mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
“If, when you have entered the land that the Lord your God has given you, and occupied it and settled in it, you shall be free to set a king over yourself… Moreover, [the King] shall shall not keep many horses or send many people backed to Egypt to add to the horses. ‘You must never go back that way again. ‘”
–Deuteronomy, 17:14, Jewish Publication Society translation (2)
I am musing over the idea of being a grand father. Grand father.
Amelia Altalena Solkoff (r) with Javier Blanco. The couple will be married August 2016, Chapel Hill, NC
Observations on my maternal grandfather
My San Francisco Noe Valley apartment was like living in San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House
Winslow, Arizona. Yes, the radio was playing “Well, I’m a standing on a corner/in Winslow, Arizona/ and such a fine sight to see…” just as I picked up a hitchhiker
“Take It Easy” by the Eagles, lead singer Don Henley
Well, I’m running down the road tryin’ to loosen my load I’ve got seven women on my mind,
Four that wanna own me, Two that want to stone me; one that says she is a friend of mine.
Well, I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me
Come on, baby, don’t say maybe I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me
We may lose and we may win though we will never be here again so open up, I’m climbin’ in, so take it easy
Well I’m running down the road trying to loosen my load, got a world of trouble on my mind lookin’ for a lover who won’t blow my cover, she’s so hard to find
Take it easy, take it easy don’t let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy come on baby, don’t say maybe I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me, oh oh oh
Oh we got it easy We oughta take it easy, Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can don’t even try to understand Just find a place to make your stand and take it easy
Flashback Three Weeks Earlier: Mary and I drive to R. Cromb’s remote hermit-like retreat
The “side trip” to Crumb’s kitchen in the woods took place before Mary returned to NYC. Also, the visit took place before I obtained a car stopping at Winslow, Arizona en route to Lubbock, Texas where I dropped off the car and took a bus to Oklahoma City.
My experience with R. Crumb took place in 1970 where I worked for Scanlan’s Magazine where Crumb published two covers–illustrations that so dominated the front cover critics in New York City (for personal reasons unwilling to provide coverage to Scanlan’s) could not help but provide us with coverage because Crumb’s work is so startlingly good and mind bending.
In addition to being research director at Scanlan’s and co-author of a cover story on Russian pornography, my job was to get in touch with Crumb when we needed him. Wikipedia’s account of Crumb’s whereabouts is incorrect. He was not in the South of France, as reported. Rather, Crumb and his wife lived in a community so remote that it made calling him by telephone extremely difficult and time consuming. I figured I might get enough to pay the rent if I interviewed Crumb. I also greatly admire Crumb and Ralph Steadman. Here is Ralph Steadman.
[Note from this site’s lamentably non-existent Protocol Editor who regrets the confusing manner in which this posting is being put together and who wonders about the relevance of my becoming a grandfather to a story involving R. Crumb, the World Series of Rodeo, Martin Luther King, Jr. and virtual reality in the construction industry. This is an elaborate way of saying that I may come back to this side-trip to R. Crumb or I may focus my attention on the fashion show put on by the wives of rodeo cowboys. This posting is coming together. However, I have not reached a conclusion–in my mind Yes; in practice Not yet. Please be patient. Festina lente.]
Shocking bull riding footage
“Sometimes it is prudent to know when to give up.” In February, 2011 I published these words plus the following two paragraphs on rodeo. I was writing a column on a subject totally unrelated to rodeo. Rather than get to the point immediately, I wrote about the rodeo. No relevant reason explains why I decided to write about the courage (perhaps misguided courage) of a cowboy who was waiting to ride a very angry bull. The hold of my now 43-year-old experience with rodeo still emerges when I least expect it. The relevance of rodeo to my prospective grandfather hood indicates….
The handler applies the fully charged cattle prod to the rear of a bull bred for ferocity. The cowboy—Slim really is his name—holds onto his hat with his left hand. In his right hand are the reigns, two strips of leather held on tightly at first, but capable of falling apart to help the rider jump away from the bucking bull to safety after the regulation eight second ride is complete.
The maximum score is 100 points; 50 for the rider and 50 for the bull. A mean angry bull is the most desirable because he gives the rider the opportunity to make the most money. This bull is mean. When the bull jumps higher after the cattle prod, Slim smiles with optimism. The gate leading to the ring fails to open. Historically, when the gate sticks, a confined maddened bull has been known to break both legs of a rider. Slim, who attended rodeo schools, is aware of the danger.As a reporter at the World Series of Rodeo at Oklahoma City (before it moved to Los Vegas), I am sitting next to the handlers on the inside wooden planks of the chute. It took considerable effort to get permission to be this close to Slim—close enough to watch his pupils dilate into huge ovals displaying a fear he cannot disguise. The lead handler asks Slim if he would like to wait 20 minutes before beginning the ride. Slim nods him off. The gate opens.
Six-time World Rodeo Champion Larry Mahan guided me through the inside world of professional rodeo
Peter Gent, former receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, provided me with detailed comparisons between professional football and professional rodeo
I convinced Peter to report on the fashion show in which cowboy wives exhibited the latest style–the layered look. The two of us were the only males in a large room filled with women drunk on cold duck, describing their lives, disclosing names of the women cheating on their husbands, providing up-to-the minute cancer reports on a friend recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Nothing bonds two journalists together like sharing exclusively a mind-altering view of life on a seemingly different planet.
[Note: This video from Gent’s movie version of North Dallas Forty contains language not suitable for minors and others who like English expressed without non-stop obscenities. Note required on what is fit to publish and why,]
“Peter Gent, a receiver for the Dallas Cowboys of the 1960s whose best-selling novel “North Dallas Forty” portrayed professional football as a dehumanizing business that drove pain-racked players to drug and alcohol abuse, died Friday in Bangor, Mich. He was 69.
Gent (pronounced Jent) never played college football — he was a basketball star at Michigan State — and he caught only four touchdown passes in five seasons with the Cowboys.
But he achieved an enduring niche as a writer, most notably with “North Dallas Forty,” his first novel, published in 1973. He contributed to the screenplay for the 1979 movie of the same title in which Nick Nolte played a role drawing partly on Gent’s career.
Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone. Everything that I’ve got is just what I’ve got on. When that sun is high in that Texas sky I’ll be bucking it to county fair. Amarillo by morning, Amarillo I’ll be there.
They took my saddle in Houston, broke my leg in Santa Fe. Lost my wife and a girlfriend somewhere along the way. Well I’ll be looking for eight when they pull that gate, And I’m hoping that judge ain’t blind. Amarillo by morning, Amarillo’s on my mind.
Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone. Everything that I’ve got is just what I’ve got on. I ain’t got a dime, but what I got is mine. I ain’t rich, but Lord I’m free. Amarillo by morning, Amarillo’s where I’ll be. Amarillo by morning, Amarillo’s where I’ll be.
“A long long time ago/when we were young and pretty,/we ruled the world, we stopped the time, we knew it all, we owned this city/Running with the crowd, carefree and proud I heard somebody say/….”
My mother Miriam told me [when I was a freshman at Druid Hills High School in Decatur, Georgia in 1961] of her attempt to convince her Aunt Marcia (Tanta Masha) to have a Thanksgiving celebration in 1933 when my mother was eight years old.
Tanta Masha, married to Sol Demick [a sweet, bald man who worked at a delicatessen] and my grandmother Suschi Schneider’s older sister, ran my mother’s household in The Bronx (of course, of New York City) with an iron hand.
Tanta Masha and my mother did not get along, “Probably,” my mother said, “because we were so much alike.”
Why my mother and grandmother (whom I called Bubbie) lived with Sol and Marcia Demick and their two sons Norman and Alvin (Vremmy) is a story for another occasion. My mother said that in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt became president, Thanksgiving [first established as a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln’s executive order] was not universally celebrated the way it is today.
In fact, my mother said, FDR (whom my mother adored) was responsible for Thanksgiving’s widespread celebration (probably at the suggestion of FDR’s political adviser then Postmaster General James A. Farley) as a way of including the immigrant community into the lumpy American melting pot (and not incidentally securing their vote.)
So taken with FDR’s appeal to celebrate Thanksgiving, my always precocious and astonishingly serious (and beautiful) mother appealed to Tanta Masha to celebrate the holiday complete with turkey and Norman Rockwell-like trimmings.
[Note: Yes, I am aware that Norman Rockwell’s iconographic Freedom from Wantpainting first appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1943.]
Mother explained that for Tanta Masha, Thanksgiving complete with turkey and cranberry sauce [hint: cranberries will later take on great significance in my life] meant a great deal of unwanted work and expense she and the family could ill afford. [When my grandmother talked about poverty—and indeed when my father did—they spoke with an understanding of pain they could never express successfully in words but the pain came through clearly and on the mark like the early promises of digital sound and flat screen high-definition television.)
“With Tanta Masha, everything was a power struggle,” Mother explained. Then weeping unexpectedly, Mother described how Tanta Masha had outmaneuvered my mother—bitterly angry that Mother’s goal to become a good American had (as she explained it) been stolen from her by an unfair trick.
Tanta Masha asked her sons Norman [who died unexpectedly this year] and Vremmy [about whom more needs to be said than can fit neatly into this section] (Mother’s cousins were really more like brothers than cousins), “How would you like to celebrate Thanksgiving with hot dogs and baked beans?” My mother’s dream of patriotic desire had been robbed from her by what she conceived of as a mean parlor trick.
In the long run though, Mother prevailed (as she always prevailed when something Important was at stake). And so, for me Thanksgiving evolved into the holiday of the year—significant in a way I will try to define, but whose root structure now clearly runs deeply into the ground holding generations fixed in place.
Thanksgiving has become the holiday that defines me as a person, as a father, as a family man, as a citizen in ways no other holiday can. What makes this definition especially auspicious this year (a year of enormous change in my life)….[Let us wait and see what happens next after I have completed cleaning out the oven and stuffing the fresh turkey that is now in the refrigerator.]
This photograph taken in 1990 is especially significant.
The photograph shows some of the people I love most in life. The six-year-old girl, front row left, is my elder daughter Joanna Marie, now 28 and engaged to be married.
The infant, back row right, is Amelia Altalena, my 22 year-old daughter who graduated from college in May.
The grinning young woman, back row middle, is my sister Sarah Schmerler.
The woman seated is my grandmother Celia Pell, my Bubbie, shown here in celebration for the last time outside the Jewish Home for the Aged in Riverdale where by some miracle my mother Miriam Pell Schmerler top left was able to obtain for Bubbie a private room at the most beautiful home for the aged in the universe–a room overlooking the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge where there is a collection of art so wonderful it will knock your socks off. Especially notable is the fact that I am shown, holding Amelia in my arms, and I was then able to walk. Four years after this photograph was taken I became a paraplegic. At the time I was merely a procrastinator–a vice sadly that continues to this day.
The photograph was taken in my mother’s apartment in Inwood, a neighborhood at the northern tip of Manhattan Island. At the time my mother, a Hebrew educator, was a newly enrolled graduate student–then 65 years-old–at the Jewish Theological Seminary where she later received a doctorate in Hebrew letters after completion of her thesis on the Roman Catholic Church’s significant decision to change its theological doctrine so that today the Jewish people are no longer blamed for the death of Jesus Christ.
In my mind’s eye, I think of this photograph as being taken at Thanksgiving. But by November of 1990, my former wife Diana, my two daughters, and I had relocated from Washington DC, where I lived and worked for 17 years–many of them heavily influenced by Edward R. Murrow’s Thanksgiving Day broadcast “Harvest of Shame” which I had viewed in my grandmother’s Brooklyn apartment and which changed my life (as if I were on the road to Damascus). In November of 1990, we relocated to Durham, NC where I began a new career as a senior technical writer for Northern Telecom–a career that I loved.
Not shown in this photograph is my favorite (and only) nephew Asher Benvenuto Simonson, now 11, who was not yet a gleam in his father Robert Simonson’s eye.
What compelled me to write this Thanksgiving posting is one consequence of this month’s Hurricane Sandy. This posting begins with my mother’s attempt to have a real Thanksgiving overruled, among others, by her brother-like cousin Vremmy (a nickname from the Yiddish name Abraham Meyer), one of the most influential people in my life, publisher of Arts Magazine, who arranged for publication in The Washington Post of an advertisement for my book Learning to Live Again, an advertisement which appeared in the book review section with a photograph of Joanna, then one, and me.
Vremmy died shortly after the advertisement was published leaving his widow Theresa Demick, an elegant and cultured delight in my life and that of my family. Theresa, one of the victims of Hurricane Sandy, was on the 16th floor of her apartment building when the storm hit wiping out the electricity.
Somehow, Theresa managed to get to the street where she wandered around aimlessly, taken to the emergency room of a nearby hospital, diagnosed with dementia. Now, thanks to the efforts of my sister Sarah, my brother-in-law Robert, and others, Theresa has found a safe berth at the wonderful Jewish Home for the Aged in Riverdale–the wonderful wonderful place where my grandmother lived out her final years with pleasure and respect. Although Theresa suffers, her knowledge of art remains in tact and Sarah feels confident that Theresa will be able to work with the home’s magnificent collection–Theresa safe from harm.
Not shown in the photograph is my sterling prospective son-in-law Jade Kosmos Phillips because Joanna did not meet him until 22 years later when they met while Joanna was working as an ambulance driver–the romance beginning in typical Joanna fashion when she insulted Jade who is a firefighter/paramedic.
The photographer is my now former wife Diana who blessedly drove up from Durham to New York with Joanna earlier this week to comfort Theresa–which should serve to reassure Amelia who also was close to Theresa and who is celebrating Thanksgiving in rural Spain near the Portuguese border, where she is teaching English.
Tom Connolly, my drumming teacher and friend just arrived and we will now celebrate Thanksgiving, cooking and playing the drums. Tom has invited beautiful women over who are younger than Amelia but who, if they come, I will flirt with shamelessly as I have in the past. After celebrating, making music, and flirting, I will return to you to post my Thanksgiving letter of thanksgiving (or wait for a more auspicious occasion when I have completed work interrupted by an intense case of the flu which has caused me to feel as if I live on another planet).
On Thanksgiving Day, Americans everywhere gather with family and friends to recount the joys and blessings of the past year. This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives. As many pause to lend a hand to those in need, we are also reminded of the indelible spirit of compassion and mutual responsibility that has distinguished our Nation since its earliest days.
Many Thanksgivings have offered opportunities to celebrate community during times of hardship. When the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony gave thanks for a bountiful harvest nearly four centuries ago, they enjoyed the fruits of their labor with the Wampanoag tribe — a people who had shared vital knowledge of the land in the difficult months before. When President George Washington marked our democracy’s first Thanksgiving, he prayed to our Creator for peace, union, and plenty through the trials that would surely come. And when our Nation was torn by bitterness and civil war, President Abraham Lincoln reminded us that we were, at heart, one Nation, sharing a bond as Americans that could bend but would not break. Those expressions of unity still echo today, whether in the contributions that generations of Native Americans have made to our country, the Union our forebears fought so hard to preserve, or the providence that draws our families together this season.
As we reflect on our proud heritage, let us also give thanks to those who honor it by giving back. This Thanksgiving, thousands of our men and women in uniform will sit down for a meal far from their loved ones and the comforts of home. We honor their service and sacrifice. We also show our appreciation to Americans who are serving in their communities, ensuring their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay. Their actions reflect our age-old belief that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and they affirm once more that we are a people who draw our deepest strength not from might or wealth, but from our bonds to each other.
On Thanksgiving Day, individuals from all walks of life come together to celebrate this most American tradition, grateful for the blessings of family, community, and country. Let us spend this day by lifting up those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 22, 2012, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together — whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors — and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.
Click on Memoto hear the After Pumpkin Pie Trio perform: “Thanks. Giving.”
The spirit of Jack Kerouac (as photographed by Tom Palumbo) returns with our song to wish us all a free-spirited conclusion to Thanksgiving Day, 2012. Kerouac is my daughter Joanna‘s favorite author as she takes an after dinner drink in Durham, N.C. before returning to her nursing school studies. For daughter Amelia Altalena, where her computer is broken in rural Spain, it is now 3:18 tomorrow morning; celebration must wait for Skype repair as all my dear readers for whom I am thankful, will await the writing of the forthcoming Thanksgiving Letter.
Afterthought. The idea that I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving appropriately–including, of course, a prayer of thanksgiving–comes as a surprise now that my guests have left. Tom, whom I met at Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe, across the street from my apartment, is relocating to Philadelphia to pursue a music career. State College, sadly, has not yet developed the resources to support musicians serious about their work. The idea of getting together was a spontaneous thought Tom had earlier this week.
Katie’s presence surprised both Tom and me. She was in town visiting friends. Tom was sure she would not come–not recollecting clearly that he had invited her. Neither Tom nor Katie could remember how they knew each other–perhaps through a mutual musical connection. As I helped Tom load his many drums in the car, where Katie accepted Tom’s offer to drive her to her friend’s apartment, I told Katie I do not understand how she arrived here; it is almost as if she never existed at all, but she certainly quickly warmed to the spirit of the occasion, banging drums with enthusiasm. Childlike percussion noise-making now goes on my list of Thanksgiving rituals.
I end this posting for tonight with the words I first heard Edward R. Murrow broadcast on television after Thanksgiving dinner in 1960 (words I recall each Thanksgiving):
“This is CBS Reports Harvest of Shame. It has to do with the men, women, and children who harvest the crops in this country of ours, the best-fed nation on earth. These are the forgotten people, the under-protected, the under-educated, the under-clothed, the under-fed. We present this report on Thanksgiving because were it not for the labor of the people you are going to meet, you might not starve, but your table would not be laden with the luxuries that we have all come to regard as essentials. We should like you to meet some of your fellow citizens who harvest the food for the best-fed nation on earth.”
These are the words that inspired me to publish a book on agriculture policy. These are words that cause me concern in the all-too close seasons and months ahead as I view with alarm the world’s adverse weather conditions, short supplies of soybeans and grain, astonishingly high future prices, and by calendar year 2013, a world where people will starve (not because, as has been the case for decades, they do not have enough money to afford food), because there will not be enough food to feed the world’s population.
Yes, automation and other developments have changed the visual portrayal that came to my grandmother’s living room television in 1960. In this global economy, the men, women, and children who harvest our food may not be U.S. citizens or they may not be harvesting in the United States the food we have on our Thanksgiving table.
In Spain, where my younger daughter is currently teaching English, the agricultural attaché at the U.S. embassy in Madrid told me that organic vegetables are a major agricultural export from Spain to the United States.