Tuesday, October 28, 2008

South from Vermont

I headed south through rural Vermont toward Massachusetts, where I passed Mt. Graylock, Melville's whale, and the rest of the Berkshire's, beautiful country at the heart of 19 century American Literature. I wanted to get out and climb, but I had no harpoon, so I Ishmaeled it out of there and stopped at the MassMOCA museum for a stroll in converted industrial buildings to absorb whatever they were showing. The best exhibits included Anselm Keifer's sculpture and paintings. The controversial sculpture (Connecticut courts forced the owners to remove it) filled a room with concrete and rebar, contemporary ruins to complement the giant landscapes exploring war. Earth erupts in blood and flowers. Jennifer Holzer's Projections pleased as well with its elaborate use of space to project bilaterally the poems of Wisława Szymborska into a dark warehouse-sized space filled with giant amorphous shapes. Words shined on me and seemingly through me. Eastern Standard: Western Artists in China was more problematic. Some of the images were stunning, but some photographs and video installations seemed rather to sneer at the environmental degradation occurring in China. Art revealing the obvious isn't art, and it's useless as journalism. Regardless, it was a fine way to spend a morning on my way to Woodstock.

After the museum, I passed through Stockbridge along with a plethora of vintage vehicles there for some kind of auto show. Because of the traffic, I didn't stop to find Alice's restaurant or wander through the antithesis of MassMOCA, the Norman Rockwell Museum. I had to go to Woodstock. I had to find my way to the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery. I had to find Amy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Interregnum: Trip Interrupted by Trip and Cold Water and Politics

I promised to blog but I'm so far behind I'm trying to remember remembering the details of my journeys--devil's horns under my seat--but it will all come out, Woodstock and California and the adventure of living without hot water for 6 weeks. Stay tuned, loyal reader. But in the midst of these interruptions, I interrupt myself with a rant:

I. The Free Market is My Weakness

Economic crisis? What crisis? A serious depression would have been the free market solution they've been promising all along, because a true free market is absolutely Darwinian and mercilous. Now we find out how those free marketeers react when they step out into the real wild: "Help me, mommy." Every promontory leads to an abyss and woe to those without precious metal parachutes. Most of us carry lead and bears are at the bottom, snarling, hungry.

In summary: capitalism, of course, capitalism, Capitalism, Capitalism!, CAPITALISM! CAPITALISM! CATACLYSM! Oh, socialism. . . . Better red-(faced) than bread (lines, that is). Just think of the "bailout solution" as, like, ANWR's for banks, where cash can still run free, protected by fiscal rangers to keep out the greed poachers and the financial "drill-baby-drillers."

I suppose. Better if someone had figured out ideas of balance and fairness, you know, like, rules, like, say, in baseball, where competition reigns, but you generally don't get four strikes and you have to stop at second if the ball you hit bounces over the center field wall.

Look, the free market isn't all bad. It's great for ipods and fast cars and boner pills and giant fake breasts and anal bleaching and baldness and cell phones and single malt Scotch and reality TV and make-up and golf clubs and fine, leather fetishwear and all things chia.

It's just lousy for antibiotics and health care and education and nation building and natural disaster recovery and our voting procedures (those softwares are a protected trade secret, your honor). You don't want someone looking in your jaundiced eye saying first, "We've got a spectacular new ocular peroxide treatment that will take that yellow out, pronto, Susie. No one will ever know you have scirrosis." You don't want Blackwater thugs on the streets of New Orleans with semi-automatics and immunity and no clear chain of command (that's a trade secret, your honor).

Yes, the free market can do some things better, but certainly not everything. And it's funny how so many of those so-called free marketeers adulate the military so much, despite the fact that it's the biggest social(ist) program in American history, despite Donald Rumsefeld's attempts to auction as much as possible to the least competant but most well-connected bidder. It's hippocrazy season again.

II. Christian Fundamentalism (What would Jesus Do [without you]?)

Clearly, if you were are a born-again, fundamentalist evangelical Christian who believes that global warming is God's will and Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, don't you have to vote for him? I mean, if you're completely right about prophecy included in a selected anthology compiled a few hundred years after quasi-historical events? Don't you have an Obama sign in your yard? Clearly, God isn't omnipotent enough to handle Armageddon without your personal intervention, which is why you're so interested in Israeli politics, after all. Clearly, that "Render unto Caesar" detail wasn't about separation of church and state. It certainly was not about that Roman governor who sentenced your community organizer to death. So, yes, a true believer and avid reader of Left Behind books would have to vote Obama.

III. Rovey Wade

This is the most egregious fake political issue in history. This is where liberals are most conservative, and conservatives most liberal. Roe vs. Wade is a conservative decision. It keeps government out of your decisions as long as possible. The government has no business, as it were, in your lady business, period (no pun intended), or lack thereof (ok, intended). I'm pro-choice and anti-abortion with respect to my own personal decisions (nuance alert: I don't believe life begins at conception, nor do I confuse seeds with trees, and I am, to follow through, snipped), but I don't presume to impose my personal values out of inspired self-righteousness on others. In fact, I have yet to meet anyone who is truly pro-abortion, who would like to see abortion figures increase (though many pro-lifers are for the death penalty and would cheer more executions; go figure).

The problem is, pro-lifers are being manipulated (Karl). No one tells pro-lifers that Roe vs. Wade also protects women from forced abortions. No business in your business? Why should it work for the free market but not for your body? Ok, it doesn't completely work for the free market (see above), but I don't think anyone advocates late term abortions as a method of birth control, either (though, ironically, post-term abortion [capital punishment] remains popular). A significant personal and spiritual ambiguity exists here, and a decision should respect a woman's choice and her faith, whatever it is, and should ultimately strive to preserve her health. Roe v. Wade does that.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Leaving Vermont

The next morning was wine-slow and blinky, but we ate breakfast and I packed to leave. The plan was to head to New Hampshire and stop at an amazing wine store Wyn had talked about where you could get free Ch. Haut Marbuzet and we looked at maps and drank coffee quietly, weary of the previous evening's celebration. It was time to leave Wyn and Shawna's lovely home and company and head south, toward Woodstock, then home, but I had a day to kill before Woodstock.

I got in the car and drove down the hill, the gravel drive, and at the end of it, I made a financial call and decided not to go to New Hampshire. Decided to head back toward Bennington where I had spotted a motel that boasted of $35 rooms, and it was near enough to Bennington to explore the town a little more and to enjoy hiking and the view of the small lake across the road. Cash only. I liked the guy that owned the place, his hat and his moustache. "Cash only," he said, but he let me go into town to get some.

The hike lacked the beauty or views of the hike up Hogback, but it was exercise and I needed that. I stepped in mud. Later I went into town for coffee and people were gathering. A woman was chatting familiarly to several people and then she announced that she would read poetry, so I stayed in solidarity. She even read a few about central California, where I'd moved to Georgia from. Spring wildflowers and I even heard her say "Oxnard." I smiled, thought of Jackson Wheeler. She read about it as though the coastal mountains were exotic and amazing. It is. They are, but if you live there, Vermont is exotic and infinitely greener and the towns are small and Vermont seemed a liberal paradise.

I applauded the poet's efforts and went searching for something to cook in the room that night for dinner, found a nice grocery store with decent wine selection and purchased a few things for dinner, naan and a good Spanish wine and cheese and headed back out of town to make dinner (naan pan pizza and pasta and salad) and enjoy the spartan room. It had the same shower my house in Georgia had when I bought it, something plastic and cheap, suitable for summer camp. I smiled at that. It was a quiet place, a quiet night. I sipped a little of the Spanish and thought about Woodstock, about seeing Amy.