All posts by mjh

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Appreciating Connections

A tentative connection formed in my mind. One piece was a NPR story about CPE Bach, whom I had never  heard of. I felt the speaker’s appreciation for this Bach — I dare say, I appreciated his appreciation in a way that echoed later, with an article about an Edward Hopper picture I might not have looked at twice, certainly not with the eye of the reviewer, or his enthusiasm. Why, I wondered, do these pieces seem different from countless others I read every day?


Is my reaction connected to the way my neighbors speak to each other now? No longer the quick “how’s it going?” as we pass each other, but a more concerned “how are you coping?” paired with a pause and eye contact. Mind you, we are not “essential,” which is to say, we are comfortable and safe, so why the concern? What has changed — what’s gone or arrived that makes us appreciate … more.


When I was a kid, my dad developed the habit of bringing me beer mugs as he went on business trips. (That didn’t seem the least bit odd, at the time.) Eventually, I picked up the habit of buying beer mugs on trips of my own. At its peak, my collection numbered over 100. I displayed many of them in bookcases. I washed them once or twice a year. 

Decades ago, decades after the habit started, I got rid of most of them. I kept a few mostly for their beauty and potential value (doubtful). I know where a couple of these originated. Here are a few.

Only a few are authentic Kruge mit Deckeln aus Deutschland
Only a few are authentic Kruge mit Deckeln aus Deutschland
Only a few are authentic Kruge mit Deckeln aus Deutschland
Only a few are authentic Kruge mit Deckeln aus Deutschland
Only a few are authentic Kruge mit Deckeln aus Deutschland
Only a few are authentic Kruge mit Deckeln aus Deutschland
Only a few are authentic Kruge mit Deckeln aus Deutschland

The Night Eisenhower Died

General Dwight David Eisenhower died the morning of March 28, 1969 in Washington, DC. I was soon to be 14 years old. The night before he died, something extraordinary happened, something I’m remembering 51 years later.


I doubt that at the time of his death, I appreciated how respected and beloved Eisenhower was. It would be decades before I knew of his vision for the Interstate Highway system (mixed blessing / blunt instrument that it was). Even longer before I heard his warnings against the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex (why is that 3rd leg always forgotten?). That warning is more relevant today.


But none of this mattered to me at the time. What mattered was something unprecedented, something you can’t imagine in this age of 24 hour media choices. In those days, TV signed off, went off the air, each night, posting a bizarre image and blaring an awful tone to wake anyone tired enough — or drunk enough — to fall asleep with the tv on. Static ruled the night.


But not this night. For the first time, not just in my life but ever, TV stayed on to be ready to tell the nation whenever Eisenhower died. I don’t remember how I knew this was going to happen. I was a child of television (and CocaCola) and my biological parents indulged me in many ways, including letting me stay up this night.


To fill the hours, my DC-area station broadcast movie after movie after movie — did I stay up all night? There was Gypsy and Auntie Mame, both masterpieces with Rosalind Russell. Was this the first time I saw Goodbye Charlie or Some Like It Hot (Tony Curtis in both)? Or John Goldfarb, Please Come Home or What A Way to Go (Shirley McClaine and Dick Van Dyke — “Hop. Hop. Hop to Hoppers.”) Some of these must have been on other afternoons, after Dark Shadows, no doubt. (I hear the theme to the Early Show as I write this.) They couldn’t all have been on that night. (I’m sure about Auntie Mame.)


But, Grandpa, why this random synaptic dump now? Well, we may run out of TP and ammo, but we never could have imagined running out of media. It’s everywhere, so much so, one can binge and binge and binge while they crank out more. Perhaps you remember the Writers’ Strike? (And Dr Horrible?) While everyone everywhere holds their breath, the Industry does, too. How long before there is figuratively “nothing to watch”?


So, while you scan online for hand sanitizer, I’m stockpiling beloved films. It’s a life-long list. Perhaps, I’ll save On The Beach for last.

It won’t end with us

If I were in my 20s, I’d be drinking in a crowded bar, thinking “so long, Boomers. Good riddance!” It’s true, we’ve left you a horrible mess. How can we ask you to sacrifice more to save our lives?


Understand, some of us tried to change the world for the better. Fifty years and more ago, we marched for the environment, for equal rights, to oust a corrupt president, and to end the war. We celebrated diversity, freedom, and peace. Some of that redounds to you.


Our biggest mistake was thinking the Enemy of Progress was Age. “Never trust anyone over 30,” we said. We didn’t understand: the Enemy of Progress is Concentrated Wealth. The Rich don’t have to be greedy and selfish. Some aren’t: Bill Gates, for example. But do you think the Trump kids and their spouses were progressive at any age? It’s wealth without compassion, wealth unable to share, wealth afraid, that fights progress. It defeated the Boomers (corrupting many of us). Unethical Capitalism and its Profiteers are your enemies. They’ll make you sick, sell you a cure, and bill your survivors for the funeral and commemorative plate.  


The other enemy we laughed off is religion corrupted by reactionaries. Do you think Jesus was anti-progressive? Hell, even the Pope is more progressive than Mike Pence. The unholy marriage of conservatism and church, funded by the Rich unwilling to share, has poisoned us all.


So, sorry for the mess. Sorry to ask you to sacrifice more and more of less and less. Odds are, your kids will blame you. Some things never change.


peace, mjh 

Luke the Lovehound’s 10th anniversary

Luke came home 10 years ago today (on 3/7/2010). He makes every day better. Thank you, sweet boy.

Help Stop Gun Violence

No one wants to take away guns from responsible gun owners. However, if you rage and howl about civil war and cold dead hands, you are NOT a responsible gun owner — you are a zealot. The angrier you are, the more dangerous you are with a gun — that’s not responsible. 

Now, assuming you are calm and sensible, as I hope the majority of gun owners are, you have an extra responsibility to speak to the nuts and rein them in. 

Stand down. Calm down. Work with others to develop gun measures that help reduce gun violence and also help punish those who use guns non-defensively. Stiff-arming us and shaking your weapons in the air while opposing everything as the paranoid “slippery slope” does no one any good. Help control gun violence. Prove you are responsible and decent, not a zealot.