Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Meaning of Jimmy

I wonder what happened to Jimmy, sometimes.

My first professional gig in New York, my first actual job there, was as a light and sound engineer at a cabaret theater called The Ballroom.

Jimmy, ostensibly, was the floor manager of the bar and restaurant part ... no doubt having taken the job proudly; won the position from numerous other qualified applicants and fulfilled his duties with zest and purpose ... once.

By the time I knew Jimmy, he'd become installed:  a figurehead, fixture at the end of the bar, where he'd plant each day and into the night, quaffing cup after cup of port and vino ... Occasionally yelling out, "86!" - whether the kitchen was actually out of a menu item or not.

It didn't matter to Jimmy, who scarcely realized where he was by the middle of each nightly shift ... let alone who he had bartending or waiting tables for him (who he was "managing", in other words) ... who might have been playing in the cabaret ... or whether blurting out "86!" in a crowded restaurant, for no good reason, was a good idea.

In work, as in life, there are comforts, nostalgia, stagnation, complacency, habits (for we are creatures of all!) ... which creep in and combine with routine, daily boredoms, lethargy, apathy, to freeze one in place ... annihilating zest and purpose, rendering one meaningless.

I wonder what happened to Jimmy, sometimes ... and sense, in the end, we are all of us, Jimmy.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Two Nations, Under God?

It's been a long year ...

Last May, in the wake of the Donald Sterling nonsense, I commented -- rather vehemently -- about the old fella's 'mistreatment' at the hands of certain "hating and seething" "thought police" ... "angry, directionless ministers beseeching ... already converted choirs" that Sterling was worse than just a crusty curmudgeon, left up to his neck in societal sea change.

I empathized with Donald Sterling  - not unlike my own 'old man', a creature from another era; many decades and learning curves behind the new prevailing winds of (surface) tolerance and color-blindness.

In Germany, which has its own shameful past to get past, there was this, a cartoon caricature à la Charlie Hebdo, but in one of Deutschland's more respected publications ... As a loose analogy, let's imagine if this howler from The Onion made it onto the New York Times' print pages:,32540/

So understandably, Germany, then die Außenwelt, grew a little on edge when Der Spiegel called out Süddeutsche Zeitung's disturbing depiction of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, by chiding, Jüdische Hakennasen-Krake greift sich die Datenwelt?" ... which roughly translates to, 'Jewish hook-nosed octopus grabs the data world?'

Is that what you're saying with your cartoon, Süddeutsche???

... prompting a not-quite-heartfelt tweet of apology from SZ, and a bemused sanitation of the original offending / offensive representation:
Facebook swallows ...
Back in the U.S., beneath the low-hanging clouds of Treyvon Martin (and increasingly noxious fumes of his killer), there was the late summer incident in Ferguson, Missouri, leading to civil unrest throughout the fall ... but this was an incident which, though tragic, unnecessary and poorly handled, was not, initially, black and white ... and, I argued, should not have been less cut and dried than a simple case of bad against good, right from wrong, law and order.

Simpl(isticall)y speaking, what happened in Ferguson either exposed still lingering racial divides in the U.S., or tried its damnedest to undo many decades of racial and societal progress made.  I desperately wanted to believe the latter ... that we, as a nation, had come so far;

that despite Ferguson, those race-baiting and flailing were just trying to fan flames which, for the most part in the second decade of the third millennium, were refusing to do anything other than smolder ...

That the United States had, in fact, made progress; had come a long way in terms of race and tolerance ... and that apart from the
amplified and emotionalized series of events sprung last summer, it could not be argued that progress had not been made ...

I still believe this.

Even in the most recent obscenity, the cold-blooded, shot in the back killing of black Walter Scott by white (southern) ex-cop Michael Slager, there is the overriding question of law and order ... If I, myself white, got out of a car at a traffic stop and ran away, defying a police officer's first request to remain in the car; then fighting to relieve that cop of a weapon, before running away again ... Would I be shot too?

Would, or could, you?

The question of why Walter L. Scott was running ... just what he was thinking ... remains not only unanswered (though it's been suggested he fled because he owed child support), but largely unasked; certainly not dissected nor addressed in the media or public discourse at large.

Regardless, "black lives" (all lives) certainly matter.  This goes, or should go, without needing to say.

Despite this ^ ^ ^

I still want to believe ...

Monday, April 6, 2015

Head ... Case

or, München (ist für die Birds!)

Skulking up Schwanthalerstraße recently, past the Deutsches (on the left hand side) ... the Nokem store and that hookah place, I double take as I notice a large bird -- tweeting and making strangled noises auf Deutsch -- flying down the otherwise empty street toward me, my own beak directly in its sights.

I'm not sure whether to freeze or keep walking ... duck or run ... fight or fly away myself.   I decide, after giving it some thought, just to stand there and shit my pants.

Photo of Jglo - distorted Jeff Glovsky

This fiendish Archaeopteryx, apparently sensing my response, pulls up at the last moment ... leaving me to marvel at the sanctity of life and nature ... with an excretion of some sort dripping down my forehead, but otherwise, none the worse for wear from our run-in!

Nonetheless, since then, I'm wearing a diaper.  On my head ... just in case.

Better sorry, and safe ...