Thursday, October 1, 2015

In Our Element

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” Gil Scott-Heron

Chicagoan Gil Scott-Heron was 21 in 1970when he recorded “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox” on which “The Revolution Will Not be Televised” appears, a forerunner of hip hop and rap.  Critic John Bush called the album “a volcanic upheaval of intellectualism and social critique.”  Another cut is titled “Who’ll Pay Reparations on My Soul?”

Driving to Grand Rapids, Michigan, I thought of Seattle Joe Robinson while listening to ABBA’s greatest hits (good to sing along to, as we have done on road trips) and the Accept CD “Blood of the Nations” (good to stay awake to) that Joe convinced me to buy a couple summers ago.  My favorite cut, “Time Machine,” contains these lines:
Out beyond the rainbow, cross the milky way
Passengers without a choice, slowly turning gray
On through the night, shine on forever

Going insane as we ride the time machine

I arrived at Phil and Delia’s to find Anthony exercising in preparation for a soccer match.  From a certain angle he resembled Delia’s recently deceased father, Gonzalo “Gun” Soto, something I’d never noticed before. Tori’s new puppy, Luna, immediately affixed herself to me and never stopped shaking, as two veteran cats were doing their best to freak her out.  Miranda showed up in a dress after working at Hollister and interning at a nearby elementary school and before she was off to a Social Work seminar.  After Phil arrived, we took off for Tori’s high school volleyball game, where big sister Alissa joined us.  Recently promoted to varsity, Tori played great as a backcourt setter in a losing cause. It was quite cold at soccer, but I had brought a Michigan State hoodie Alissa had given me, which elicited comments from numerous Spartan football fans.  MSU is ranked second in the nation, trailing only Ohio State.  Back at Cherrywood Court, I had a bowl of Delia’s tasty chili and gave out jewelry and purses from Midge to remember her by, happy to be with my grandchildren. 
 Andy Grammer

Delia filled me in on “Dancing with the Stars,” which I haven’t watched since Sarah Palin’s daughter competed.  Zany actor Gary Busey is a contestant, as is once-shamed cooking show hostess Paula Deen.  Reality TV personality Kim Zolciak from “Real Housewives of Atlanta” suffered a mini-stroke while in rehearsal and withdrew.   Chaka Khan was one of the first to get eliminated.  The biggest surprise was National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos, who, along with two friends and a Frenchman, disarmed an armed attacker aboard a Belgian train.  Supposedly he had never danced before being selected to be on the show.  I predict he’ll be a finalist.  Delia showed me a music video of contestant Andy Grammer’s summer hit “Honey I’m Good,” which showed couples, including same-sex, indicating how long they’d been hitched. Two old folks had signs reading 72 and 73 years (they couldn’t agree).

Wednesday Phil, Delia, and I checked out Grand Rapids ArtPrize, starting at the Gerald R. Ford Museum.  “Men of the 14th,” a sculpture by Gary Arens, depicted his great grandfather and Henry Rochell, who died in battle at Bentonville, West Virginia, shortly before the end of Civil War hostilities.  At a museum fountain were Andy Sacksteder’s bronze figures “Reach” and “Splash.”  While checking out Justin La Doux’s “Troll Bridge,” Delia informed me that U.P (Upper Penninsula) Michiganders refer to those south of the Mackinac Bridge as trolls.  It was hot and crowded inside the museum, but I paused to admire Anni Crouter’s “Triple Play” depictions of tigers.  They reminded me of a watercolor drawing of two tigers by my mother that I gave Anthony.

Many artists were on hand answering questions and encouraging people to vote for their entries with handouts the size of postcards or business cards.  I had told Phil to keep me close to bathrooms, so at each stop he’d point out facilities.  Delia teased him, but I was thankful.

On a bridge above the Grand River was a unique installation entry by Jack O’Hearn called “The Camper.”  Inside were kitschy knickknacks - dolls, games, pictures, books - and kids inside digging it.  In the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel were several huge installations, including a heart one could walk through and a huge waterfall composed of different colored shaved wood. Nearby was the Lumber Baron Lounge, named for the city’s founders. 

Walking through an underpass, we came across Ruben Ubiera’s massive mural “In Our Element” that employed illustrations of veiltail goldfish in distress to symbolize the planet under duress.  In one graffiti-like frame Ubiera had written “The Revolution Will Not Be” followed by a TV set on which was the word LIES.  Ubiera, a Miami resident, told a reporter, “Having been invited to such a competition inspires and motivates me.  The city is gorgeous, the weather is beautiful, the people are amazing and young.  The food is out of this world.  I’m just hoping I can do something that the residents will be proud to have in their vicinity.”  He succeeded, and “In Our Element” is a top-20 finalist.

Our outing concluded at Main Street Pub in Wyoming.  My fried clams, fries, and salad cost just $9.99.  Since Phil had a free meal coupon, the total bill was under $30, including tip and a delicious brownie with whipped cream and ice cream with spoons for splitting three ways.

IUN Communication Secretary Dorothy Mokry’s mother, Serbian immigrant Soka Dragic, passed away.  Just last week Dorothy sent me a sympathy card and a Native American poem entitled “I’m Not Here” that contains these lines:
Don’t stand by my grave and weep
For I’m not here, I do not sleep
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond’s glint on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle Autumn’s rain.

A “Just for You” American Greetings card from Chris and Myrium Young expressed the hope that I be granted “peace of mind and spiritual peace.”  It included this quote from Genesis 28:15: “And behold I am with thee, and will keep thee. . . .”

With crybaby Majority Leader John Boehner resigning, apparent successor Kevin McCarthy put his foot in his mouth gloating that the House Benghazi investigation accomplished its purpose in reducing Hillary Clinton’s popularity.  Ray Smock wrote that McCarthy “stepped in a big steaming turd of his own making even before he faces election as the next Speaker.  As Gene Robinson of the Washington Post said, it was one of those moments when a politician slipped up and told the truth.”

Inexplicably, while in America, Pope Francis met with Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who spent several days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  She was with several dozen others, and apparently Francis was unaware of who she was.  Conservative Papal Nuncio Carlo Vigano, who arranged the audience, may have been looking for a way to embarrass Francis.  Ray Smock wrote:
  The Pope and the Church have not accepted gay marriage and I don't see them doing it anytime soon. The Pope asked us to pray for him. I will pray for him. Here is my prayer: “Dear God, Please help the Pope and the Catholic Church to accept all of Your creatures, all created in Your image, in all their social, cultural, and sexual variety. And, God, I could sure use a winning lottery ticket. Amen.”   It is the least this atheist can do.

By mistake I scooped up a Xeroxed page from “Incendiary Occupations” by Michael M. Seidman, about the 1968 Paris riots, that hopefully Jonathyne Briggs can do without.  While modern gadgets of social interaction were lacking, Seidman observed:
  Most students and demonstrators either owned or had access to a transistor.  An astounding 400,000 per week were reported sold during the May crisis. Protestors and barricade builders listened to the news, which boosted their spirits by showing that they were part of a mass movement that was rattling state power.  The mass-media spectacle could help propagate the revolt, but as Gaulists were to show at the end of the month, it could also promote the restoration of order.

Subbing for our bowling opponents, longtime league officer Judy Sheriff, carrying a 145 average, opened with three strikes, had a poor second game, and finished strong, as the Engineers dropped the third game and series but still garnered 4 of 7 points, no thanks to me.  Judy threw almost every ball perfectly but without much speed, often leaving a disappointing number of pins.

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