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New Years Post Delayed. Of course.

I guess I won’t be listing “Stop Procrastinating” as one of my resolutions. I do plan to up the ante on loudmouthed, opinionated rants, gratuitous Trump-bashing, and other forms of intimate journeys of self-discovery. There may be a little bit of wise-assery, too. I mean, I’m just guessing, but….

In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of Jennifer Lopez exercising her constitutional right to bear arms. jlo-bear-arms:

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Friday Morning Rock & Roll Idols: The Jam

The Jam were the coolest, and not well known here in the USA, but even after all these years I’d argue they were one of the great bands of their generation.  I can’t help thinking how much better my youth would have been if their music had been bombarding all of us from the radio instead of all that disco and classic rock.  Of course, in western Pennsylvania some of the radio stations are still keeping the same 20 or 30 songs in heavy rotation as they used in 1980.  Listen and believe….

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Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like

Katrina Torres: Pro-Bowl “Streaker”

2014 Pro Bowl

This isn’t a timely post–as usual, I didn’t watch the Pro Bowl, but I read a reference to this young lady the other day and followed up. It’s a fun story, as it turns out–and she wasn’t really streaking, exactly. The best part is that she was all over the field, as quick as liquid mercury–one of those teams ought to hire this girl to return punts–and would probably still be running–and you’ve got to love those chest bumps with the players.

http://msn.foxsports.com/buzzer/story/pro-bowl-streaker-says-she-did-it-for-special-reason-and-deion-sanders-saved-her-012814

Screenshot_3 (2)

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Ruby Bridges

God bless America, Land that I love
Stand beside her And guide her
through the night with a light from above–
from the mountains to the prairies
to the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home.

Ruby-Bridges-first-african-american-to-attend-a-white-elementary-school-in-the-South-Nov.-14th-1960

My friend Laura shared a link on her facebook page that led to a copy of the photo above, and a small paragraph about Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old girl who was the first student to participate in the integration of the New Orleans, Louisiana School system.  If you’re anything like me, you learned her name for a few moments in school–maybe not even her name, only glancing at the iconic photograph, recognizing that integration happened, and moving on.

What stuck with me–not her name, sadly–was that while several students volunteered, passed the requisite tests, and were permitted to transfer to the then all-white school, Ms. Bridges was the only one who actually went. I recall thinking, they let her go alone.  Of course, she had the federal marshals to protect her–a six year old girl!–from the angry crowds, but what company is a marshal to a little girl?  She would later say that she thought the crowds at the school were gathered there to celebrate mardi gras!

Teens Shout At Police Officers During Protest

And what about these bitter, angry, terrified southern housewives and mothers who–I guess–in some unfathomable, deeply misguided, ignorant way looked at the arrival of this small child as the destruction of their good, Christian way of life?  (note the chubby blond kid has a sign that says “All I want for Christmas is clean, white schools”–ironic, isn’t it, that the arrival of a small child–just before the holiday season–could throw everyone into such a tizzy?)  Did they grow to understand they were on the wrong side of history, did they pray to their god for forgiveness of their hate and cruelty?  Or did they live out their lives, poisoned by spite Tea-Party-Hubrisand fear, huddled in their shacks and mobile homes?  Note the placard held by one of these pleasant ladies above–“states rights”–and its relevancy today; the Teabag Party is still using the same strategy to cloak their own angry, bile-soaked agendas.

9046086-largeThe ignorant masses didn’t just reserve their spite for the black kids, mind you–white families who sent their children to school were harassed mercilessly as well, harangued as traitors and “communists”–a word the lunatic fringe still uses today to describe their adversaries, though I’ve convinced there isn’t a single one of them the actually knows what the word truly means–they employ it as a convenient catch-all, a synonym for “bad.”

You’ll find some excellent details here: Fifty years later, students recall integrating New Orleans public schools–A good article and some great pictures.

the-problem-we-all-live-with

The thing that sticks with me about this story–and the many more like it–is that apart from all the tales of individual and small group heroics–from little Rosa Parks to the Kennedys, from determined, defiant black sharecroppers demanding their right to vote to the young, ivory tower idealist freedom riders who joined them in risking their lives in a struggle to make this country what was meant to be, not what the smallest among us would have it be–the fight is so long, so drawn out, so utterly ridiculous.  More than 50 years has passed since Ruby Bridges took that walk, and our nation still bears racism like a cross on our shoulders.  And heck, we’re all about building a giant wall to keep out the tired, the poor,
the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, not to mention the wretched refuse of teeming shores, the homeless, tempest-tost…and so on.  And then there is discrimination against folks whose definitions of love and attraction lie in the swift waters and eddies outside the mainstream persist, our squinting suspiciously at a world full of people whose skins come in countless shades of brown–as if every one of them has a bomb in his underwear.

Imagine what we could accomplish if that energy was directed elsewhere, at genuine problems, instead of all this static. The thing is: I can’t.  I can’t imagine that better world, and doesn’t that just suck?

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What About “The Quick and The Dead?”

The second of two strange cemetery/signage combinations we stumbled upon on vacation this summer. We concluded that this is a Zombie reference, and quickly moved on. Zombies may play slow, but what they lack in speed they more than compensate for with persistence.

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It All Comes Down To This

It All Comes Down To This

The dirt is free. It’s the hole that costs you.

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A Response to Ryan Kearney’s Camping Idiocy

In a recent article that appeared in The New Republic Ryan Kearney writes at some length about why camping is only for white people, making the point that for something that is the opposite of luxurious, it is prohibitively expensive.  He claims “A backpack, tent, and the necessary gear will run you at least $1,000.”  That’s ridiculous, of course, and even though it’s sort of off the subject for this blog I’ve decided to call him out on his bullshit.  So, without any research, I’ll going to jump over to my favorite outdoor supply website, Campmor, and see what I can find….

For this, I’m assuming a typical greenhorn, dayhiking and car camping in moderate weather conditions.

1. Tent: Coleman Sundome, 9’x7′ sleeps 4.  $64.96

2. Sleeping Bags: Too many good deals to choose for under $40

3. Ground Cloth (buy a tarp from WalMart) <$10.00

4. Coleman-Style Stove For Car Camping: Century 20K BTU $44.99

5. Hiking Boots Hi-Tec Ocala Waterproof Boots $69.96.  A non-waterproof version of this old-school, simple and reliable boot is actually available for under $50,  Just saying.

6. Backpack.  Jansport Catalyst $49.97  A real hikers daypack with lots of straps, pockets, loops and adjustments adaptable to a lot of activities and a significant upgrade from the kind of backpack most kids already have, although in most cases a simple daypack works fine to carry water, snacks, and a rain jacket.

7. Rain Jacket.  You can spend anywhere from $30 to $300 for a variety of technical rain gear, but for most of my life I’ve employed a simple, $7 rain poncho that I bought at a Penn State football game in 1984.  It’s impermeable, but breathable, has a hood, dries quickly, and folds down to about the size of a Pop Tart box.  And unlike a regular rain jacket, the water doesn’t cascade down the jacket and soak your pants. Campmor can fix you up with something similar for $4.  That’s right.

8. Cookware. We have a bunch of old Boy Scout mess kits picked up for a quarter here, a dime there, at yard sales over the year.  Here’s a fancy new version, still a steal at under $8.00, that you can use to prepare, serve, and consume all your meals.

And that’s all you need.  It’s more than you need, really.  For one person, you’re in the woods and on the trail for $275.00. Add $170 three more sleeping bags and a second backpack for a family of four and you’re still under $500.  Most campsites in developed campgrounds cost less than $20 for tents–backcountry is usually free. Pack groceries from home and a fantastic vacation can be had for well under that $1000 Ryan wants you to spend on gear–although, fair warning: Ryan is going to look whole lot cooler than you with his fancy name-brand gear and gee-whiz tech.  On the other hand, show a little initiative, look at yard sales, Craig’s List, and similar outlets and you’ll find excellent gear for next to nothing–if you even need gear at all.  When I was younger I’d hit the woods in canvas sneakers, an old canteen, and a brown bag lunch.