‘She’ will rise

we-will-rise

Last night CNN Films premiered We Will Rise, a moving documentary about girls in Morocco and Liberia overcoming extraordinary obstacles of patriarchy and poverty to gain an education and alter the course of their lives. The movie features First Lady Michelle Obama—an inspiration of her own accord, CNN’s Isha Sesay, Freida Pinto, and Meryl Streep.

Andra Day wrote and sings the movie’s anthem, Rise Up, a thunderously motivational work appropriately selected to herald the documentary’s theme.

The film and song get me thinking poetically:
In spite of today’s headlines rampant with abuse and misogyny,
Michelle Obama and her supporting company
Rise up in furtherance of what a young girl’s life should be.

Anyone that watches this telling CNN documentary
Should be moved seeing such potential stunted by poverty and stupidity.
Thus, I come away inspired to nurture every sapling tree
That bears the fruit of wise and benevolent matriarchy.

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Nothing trumped up here

ketchup-blog

Because a significant number of American men seem to believe they are superior to women, let’s solidify that viewpoint by supporting a guy, who says and believes the following:

1. “I would never buy (my wife) any decent jewels or pictures. Why give her negotiable assets?”—Vanity Fare, September 1990
2. “I mean, we could say … that look doesn’t matter, but the look obviously matters. Like (a female journalist) wouldn’t have (a) job if (she) weren’t beautiful.”—Last Week Tonight, 2014
3. “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military—only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”—Twitter, May 2013
4. “If (she) weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”—The View, March 2006
5. “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that … ? I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”— Rolling Stone, September 2015
6. “The answer (to what should be done about a woman who has an abortion) is that there has to be some form of punishment.”—MSNBC, March 2016
7. “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”—Esquire, May 1991
8. “I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing. If you’re in business for yourself, I really think it’s a bad idea. I think that was the single greatest cause of what happened to my marriage …”—ABC News, 1994
9. “Well you know, pregnancy is never — it’s a wonderful thing for the woman, it’s a wonderful thing for the husband, it’s certainly an inconvenience for a business. And whether people want to say that or not, the fact is it is an inconvenience for a person that is running a business.”—NBC Dateline, October 2004
10. Identifying specific women as: Fat. Pig. Dog. Slob. Disgusting animal.—Various public venues over the years

An outlaw’s call to arms

sturgill-750x375

Earlier this year, a 38-year-old country boy heavily influenced by a three-year stint in the Navy, his family’s coal mining roots, and his father’s career as a state cop working undercover narcotics, honored his new son with the release of A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. I had heard Sturgill Simpson’s music a couple of years back, but didn’t fully appreciate him until purchasing his latest work,  which he wrote (except for a haunting cover of Kurt Cobain’s In Bloom), composed, arranged, and produced.

One of the most distinctive aspects of his album is the meshing of outlaw country sensibilities with a rolling rhythm and blues pulse pumped through the tunes by The Dap Kings horns. The album’s standout arrangements and orchestrations gain provocative layering from lyrics that reveal, prod, and inform.  A Call to Arms, one of my favorites from the nine-cut LP, exemplify the quality of Simpson’s work:

Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran
North Korea, tell me where does it end
The bodies keep piling up with everyday
How many more are they gonna send
They send their sons and daughters off to die
for some oil to control the heroin
Son I hope you don’t grow up
Believing that you’ve got to be a puppet to be a man
They’ll cut off your hair and put a patch on your arm
And strip you off your identity
Tell you to keep your mouth shut boy and get in line
To go and meet your maker overseas
Wearing that Kim Jong Il hat while your Grandma’s selling pills stat
Meanwhile I’m wearing my can’t pay my fucking bills hat
Nobody’s looking up to care about a drone
We’re all too busy looking down at our phone
Our ego’s begging for food like a dog from our feed
Refreshing obsessively until our eyes start to bleed
They serve up distractions and we eat them with fries
Until the bombs fall out of our fucking skies
Turn off the TV
Turn off the news
Nothing to see here
They’re serving the blues
Bullshit on my TV
Bullshit on my radio
Hollywood telling me how to be me
The bullshit’s got to go

Events of Seinfeldian proportions

seinfeld

Here it is Thursday. I try to craft something creative, provocative, fun, or insightful every Wednesday. Lately, I’ve become a miserable failure at achieving that goal. In all honesty, I got lazy this summer; took off the better part of two months. Not that I was sitting around idle, although Jane might take issue with that claim. Despite her protestations to the contrary, I have been undertaking significant tasks with a Herculean effort. For example:

  • Dealing for several weeks with a recalcitrant homebuilder that has required me to pursue a laundry list of potential fix-it/repair types to address a bi-fold door issue that no one seems willing to tackle. Status: ready to call in the California Bar;
  • Arranging for a window repair company to replace windows with broken seals and a balancer. Status: Two down, one window and balancer to go;
  • Journeying to our second home, which I affectionately call the Desert Pig, to conduct repairs in anticipation of retaining a new sales representative to move our lovely abode at a distress sale price. Status: new agent on board; new MLS working; one atheist leaning toward reciting prayers learned in Catechism class nearly sixty years ago;
  • Responding to an Audi recall for a heating/cooling software adjustment that resulted in our learning that the passenger door panel had been incorrectly reassembled and the latch spring sprung when the collision repair company botched a post-accident repair. Status: Waiting eight to ten weeks for Audi to ship parts from Germany;
  • Receiving a Toyota recall, identified as an Interim Notice, informing me that our Prius curtain shield air bags located in the side roof rails may explode. Toyota has identified the remedy, but the repair isn’t available yet. Status: Rolling the dice while waiting on the dealer to manufacturer the necessary repair parts
  • Finding dead rats in the back yard, only to have our son discover a cozy, paper-towel lined nest tucked inside our built-in barbecue. Status: Consumed the better part of the morning vacuuming, hosing down, and disinfecting the entire insides; need to apply netting to cover entries.

And, that litany only represents the highlights. With all this activity going on (and, please, note I’m unable to check any one of them as complete yet), it’s a good thing I haven’t been trying to learn guitar and complete a fourth novel. Oh, wait …

Labors of love

luigi-and-liberatta Luigi Gallo and Liberata Caravetta on their wedding day

This summer’s unofficial end stirred my soul … or, at least, reminded me I needed to get off my butt and back to some serious writing. Earlier this summer, I finished SCAM, the novelized retelling of an international con artist and counterfeiter. At this time, I’m trying to gain legal clearance to publish. Robert Baudin continues to weave a tangled web, even in death. More recently, I started a third installment about my investigative reporter Nick Lanouette and his stumbles through historical events, when I decided to slow down and let my nostrils feast on the proverbial roses.

The break from this blog and a reduced writing schedule afforded an opportunity to enjoy family and, by happenstance, further connect with my Italian ancestry:

When my maternal grandfather, Luigi Gallo, left his home in Spezzano Piccolo in 1914 at the age of 17, his youngest sister, Maria, was yet to be born. He didn’t meet her until he returned to Italy for a visit in 1960. At that time, Maria had a four-year-old daughter, Tonina, with whom I have exchanged letters for several years in a loving effort to extend a long-line of correspondence she had with my mother.

This knot of connectivity frayed over the last couple of years. I wrote Tonina in January, but received no response. The apparent loss of that string of familial ties had been nagging at me. Then, last week, I was thrown a very unexpected lifeline.

I received a notice that #Susy Morrone liked my F. James Greco Facebook page. An accepted friend request revealed that Susy, who lives in Northern Italy, is Tonina’s granddaughter. Our exchange resulted in Susy contacting #Concetta Lucchetta, who lives near Tonina and considers her an “aunt.” I was pleasantly astounded when I learned from Concetta that she had composed Tonina’s letters to me all these years.

So today, I look forward to the joyful labor of renewed correspondence with Tonina … through Susy and Concetta … with the knowledge that my once tenuous connection to my grandfather’s homeland and family has been rejoined and strengthened through another generation.

Midnight mechaphilia

CUSTOM HARLEY MOTORCYCLE CHROME EXHAUSTS 3D DUAL HOT RODSL

Note: As previously stated this past March, I toyed with poetry during the 1990s. This morning I felt like sharing another little pyrite nugget, a metallic note that roared onto the page in October 1991.

Chrome-plated lynx
slinks through the night.
Lips of steel,
Womb of velvet.
Hard, dark streets
taint the sheen,
pit the veneer,
tear the membrane.
Morning awakens upon the
despoiled.

No more middle-ground on guns

Law School Graduation #1 Bar Admission Ceremonies Day

Almost forty years ago, on the day I was sworn in as a member of the California State Bar, I already knew that I would likely never practice law. I possessed a critical flaw for an attorney: I could comprehend and argue both sides of an issue—as successful attorneys must—but my tendency was to immediately seek the middle ground; to pursue what I perceived as just and fair.

For more years than I can recall that personality trait has influenced my stance on gun control. Although I found little rationale to justify our current laws and have readily argued for change, I could sympathize with arguments supported by reasonable interpretations of the Second Amendment.

The accumulation of ever-intensifying gun violence has made it more and more difficult to rationalize current permissive national law, which has become less and less supportable by legal precedent or the Constitution and more the product of successful National Rifle Association lobbying.

Reading an op/ed piece in Sunday’s LA Times [Five arguments against gun control (and why the are all wrong), http://eedition2.latimes.com/Olive/ODE/LATimes2/, p A21], finally pushed me over the edge. I highly recommend it to anyone questioning whether we should continue to allow continued legal ownership or possession of automatic or semi-automatic rifles (or, for that matter, handguns).

On this issue, I’m done with the middle ground.

America is really the only nation that is orderly with an almost unchallengeable state, and yet has a gun-death rate similar to much poorer Latin American nations experiencing low-grade civil wars and disorder.
Yes, many of our firearm-related deaths are suicides. But our firearm-related homicide rate is noticeably higher than every comparable industrialized nation. And furthermore, there seems to be a strong correlation between reduced access to firearms and a reduced rate of suicide.

~Michael Brendan Dougherty
(Robert VerBruggen, Do Guns Cause Violence. The MarkUp, Real Clear Policy, August 27, 2015, http://www.realclearpolicy.com/blog/2015/08/27/do_guns_cause_violence_1403.html