Friday, December 31, 2004

A look at ourselves

After watching a movie on Christmas that I very much enjoy called "The Majestic," that deals with what this country became during McCarthyism; a subversion of what it was meant to be, it seems appropriate to write this entry.

Periodically in this nation's history, the government and its people have strayed from the values written into the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. Even the writers of those documents wandered off the track of righteousness through their adherence to the belief that slavery was not a complete abomination. The evil that was slavery was not America's only failed moment. Our annihilation of Native Americans, racial hatred and oppression, Vietnam, Watergate, the Red Scare, secret government experiments on our own people, tolerance of worldwide genocide, and ... the current Administration's rejection of American values, principles and rights are all stark examples of the United States falling far short of the ideals of the treasured documents mentioned above.

As many people in the blogosphere and media will likely give thought to the year in review at this time, and compile lists of bests and worsts, Poetic Leanings would instead like to leave the year with thoughts of something rapidly being set aside by the Bush Administration.

Bill of Rights

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Poem: Butt Why

Butt Why?

Do you think you have some kind of right,
To pollute my lungs and the world all around,
This belief that the earth is a personal ashtray,
Is a view that only serves to confound.

I am eating lunch, if you could just stop to notice,
And I ordered chicken, not nicotine smoke,
While you think your addiction is harmless,
I don't recall asking for soot in my Coke.

Can you hear me, I'm coughing in misery,
And if you had even an ounce of concern you'd repair,
If you need it so badly then swallow it,
Then at least you might save me from this smoky despair.

You smokers care so little for the environment you clutter,
How many butts from car windows can you toss with so little regard,
And if not that, you just flick them wherever,
As if my lawn was a place to dispose and discard.

So stop!
The rest of us are sickened by your pathetic addiction,
And we suffer in ill-health and the destruction you've wrought,
The hazards you bring to life all around you,
Are increased with each pack you have bought.

Copyright SGW 1997

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Plot Against America

Pulitzer Prize winner, Philip Roth, who wrote "American Pastoral," "Our Gang" and "The Human Stain," among others has written a haunting piece of fiction that has to make one stop to shudder in fear. "The Plot Against America" is the story of a nine year old Philip Roth, growing up in a Jewish home, in the Jewish section of Newark, New Jersey in 1940. Charles A. Lindbergh comes out of a virtual nowhere to defeat FDR for the presidency, negotiates a secret agreement with Hitler to keep America out of the European war and establishes a creeping governmental policy of anti-semitism and fascism, slowly becoming a mirror of NAZI Germany.

What makes this story so horrifying is how closely it hits to home. The hidden agendas, religious intolerance, appeasers and collaborators, and the violent discrediting of all dissent are eerily familiar to George Bush's red state America. The fascist tendencies, subtle policy shifts of extremism and the false patriotism of Lindbergh's 1940 America closely resemble Bush's manufactured American everyman-hero.

If you want to read an incredible story that combines real life characters and events with an all-to-possible fictional portrayal, "The Plot Against America" is a must read. It will frighten you as you see what we, Americans, might have become 60 years ago, and what we might be becoming today.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Poem: Boardwalks To Walk No More

This is arguably my favorite piece of my own work. It was also quite popular when I used to perform alot on the Jersey Shore. "Boardwalks" shows the influence of musical artists on my poetry, as this poem is definitely of a Springsteen style.

I wrote this when I was 23 through the eyes of a 40 year old longing to be 23. It is interesting now as I am 40, and sometimes think back to those days of 23. For you non-locals, Asbury is Asbury Park, a shore town that had some of the best music around. The town was a dead down otherwise for many years, but is finally now being re-built. The Pony is the Stone Pony, the rock club that Bruce Springsteen made famous. It was practically a second home for me from about 1985 to 1995.

Boardwalks to Walk No More

Now the Saturday nights are gone forever,
Washed away on the Jersey shore,
Long, peaceful evenings lost in a moment,
Boardwalks to walk no more.

‘Cause when the friends you grow up with are long gone past,
And the people in town ain’t the same,
The waves lose their power, the pier all its splendor,
The beach becomes no more than a name.

Now I wake up from my sleep in a cold, hard sweat,
Put the keys in my car and drive,
Down round into Asbury, along Ocean Avenue,
The shore again seems alive.

I see the pretty girls walking the boardwalk,
I see a guy yelling out from his car,
I see myself in the distance, by the door of the Pony,
With my girl, going into the bar.

The laughing, the singing on a Saturday night,
You and your lover, and everything’s right,
Holding your baby, and dancing real slow,
Closer and closer, swearing to never let go.

But the girl I am holding is a dream of the heart,
The bar a thought of what’s past,
And the sound of the music nothing more than an echo,
Fading so dark and so fast.

For now the Saturday nights are gone forever,
Washed away on the Jersey shore,
Long, peaceful evenings lost in a moment,
And boardwalks to walk no more.

Copyright SGW 1987

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Poem: Bounty of Cancer

Bounty of Cancer

An endearing smile
Surrounding me and encompassing my spirit.
Voice of brilliant, glowing textures
And the energy to survive;
Seeing hope beneath surfaces of struggles.
Compassion shared in these experiences;
Common battles; some won, some lost.
All fought earnestly
All building a family of understanding.
Intertwined paths and journeys
Knowing the fears, dreaded discoveries;
Diagnosed horrors.
Through shared and similar anguishes
The blessings of beautiful people,
Each with a hardship
Yet also mutual love and comradeship.
The bounty of cancer gained amongst one another.

Copyright SGW 2000

Friday, December 10, 2004


I have always loved this song, and the lyrics seemed to come to me today. They are particularly important of late given all the nonsense attached to religion and motivations of greed and profit.


Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

Imagine no possessions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

Written by: John Lennon
© Bag productions inc.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Poem: Cry Rain

I was driving in the rain the other day and the idea that God was crying over our lost ways struck me. This is meant to be a poem of harmonies by weaving together two separate parts of the same poem. The blue is one piece and the red the other. This poem cannot be read by one person, as the blue and red should be read simultaneously.

Cry Rain

Rain bears reminding of God’s bitter tears
Lost are his blessings in cold, hardened fears

He cries for lack of empathy
He cries in souls divided
He cries when people’s endless hate
Forever gets ignited

Every felt raindrop brings stain to creation
Removed from the people He once felt relation

Can’t find morality in religion’s betrayal
Turns with disgust from extremist’s portrayal

He weeps when faced with persecution
He weeps for rights refrained
He weeps in words that seek to hurt
In bigotry sustained

Rain clouds gain pattern from God’s lonely perch
Intolerant speech marks an unholy church

He cries in lost inclusive virtue
He cries the narrow mind
He cries in doctrine twisted ‘round
That only serves to blind

Rain hopes for cleansing what preaching’s disgraced
Compassionate values might be more embraced

Copyright SGW 2004

Monday, December 6, 2004

Movie: Run Lola Run

Last night I watched the movie, “Run Lola Run,” from 1999. I know it received a lot of attention, and I must say, deservedly so. The story in and of itself is not much. The acting is unimportant. However, the way the movie is structured and constructed is brilliant. This was a completely original picture. Tom Tykwer, the writer and director, does a marvelous job of pointing out coincidence and choice, and how simple things can so dramatically alter life based on how everything is woven together. The flash-ahead sequences are a super idea, too.

If you are like me, and you missed this movie, go rent “Run Lola Run,” and see it at once. You will be spellbound by how smart it is inspite of its uncomplicated base.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Movie: Memento

Ok, I know what you are saying: "Scott, the movie is four years old!" Well, it fell through the cracks for me and I never saw it. I rented "Memento" today and I recommend it to anyone else who missed it.

The plot line: A man, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt down his wife's killer.

Guy Pearce is superb in the main role and the direction of Christopher Nolan is top line. This movie will have you on the edge of your seat, keeps you second guessing and thinking, and will even make you laugh a few times. Go, rent it. It is worth the $4.50 at Blockbuster.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Poem: Places I'm Going

As promised, this poem was inspired by the movie "Finding Neverland." It combines real life experiences that allow my imagination to flourish with the dreams that I often drift into. Both reality and fantasy provide wonderful places to go to.

Places I’m Going

Dream of discovering the minds of the past
Riding the currents of waves ever last
Flying the heavens awash in the breeze
Scaling limbed-staircase ‘pon high in the trees
Drifting to places my mind often wanders
Escaped within landscapes as poetry ponders
Thoughts of portrayal of adventurous theme
Simplistically life can be vividly seen
Memory lingers in moments of pause
Baskingly joyous in adulation’s applause
Quietly hidden in God’s earth creation
Peace-given blessing is heartfelt elation
Cuddled up winters with a cat and a book
Driving a distance on a road never took
Shorelines for walking with barefoot distraction
Seemingly drawn by the ocean’s attraction
Imagination and living are interwoven for knowing
Listed above are some places I’m going

Copyright 2004

Friday, November 26, 2004

Humor and religion

"... a sense of humor, properly developed, is superior to any religion so far devised" - Tom Robbins in "Jitterbug Perfume."

"And one must maintain a serious-ass sense of humor to keep sane in an insane country of too much religion with no sense of humor, or much of anything else for that matter" - STP

Finding Neverland

See the movie "Finding Neverland" if you maintain a small piece of child within your adult body and mind. See it if you do not, so perhaps you might find that youthful sense of life once again.

"Finding Neverland" is the story based on the true story of James Matthew Barrie, the playwright who created Peter Pan. It details the connection between Barrie and the hard-luck family he befriends as his inspiration for Peter Pan. It is a lesson on staying young, allowing one's imagination to flourish and to always believe. Barrie takes the struggle of the ticking clock of life(the clock swallowing crock) and creates his Neverland as escape, solace and warm reminder.

Johnny Depp is his usual brilliant self in the portrayal of J.M. Barrie, and Julie Christie is at once suffocating and loving as Mrs. du Maurier. Her transformation is subtle, yet marvelously loving and passionate. Freddie Highmore is reserved, yet convincingly conflicted as young Peter Llewelyn Davies, the source of Barrie's Peter Pan, or so Barrie believes. Peter's line of "I just started writing and I couldn't stop" was felt by this poet with particular understanding.

Director Marc Forster has woven a brilliant story together into a touching portrait of the man behind Peter Pan. It is rare that a movie can make you smile and cry in the same breath, leaving the theater feeling somehow believing enough to fly.

Poem inspired by "Finding Neverland" is forthcoming.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Today is my favorite holiday. Although my family does not fully understand that screwing with Thanksgiving tradition is not necessarily a good thing, it is still a really special day. Thanksgiving is about turkey (in our case barbecued, which is the best way to eat bird), potatoes of some sort, stuffing (although I am not a fan), cranberries or cranberry sauce (I am silly here, loving the canned cranberry sauce and preferring the indented top piece), and some pie or cake for dessert. It is also about watching football!

Goals for Thanksgiving:
1. Eating so much turkey that you cannot keep your pants buttoned by the end of the day;
2. Watching football - both games;
3. Hanging with family and friends;
4. Being grateful for all the food and good living relative to many others (and yes, I donated about a dozen turkeys to the local Food Bank);
4. Eating a bit more turkey.

Ok, on that note, go enjoy your day. Poetic Leanings will be quiet for the rest of the day, but will be back guns a'blazing on Friday!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Poem: She Said No (Rape)

I was in a coffeehouse about seven years ago listening to a co-worker's daughter performing. She spoke about Tori Amos' song, "Me and a Gun," and then said, "And yes, guys, there is such a thing as rape." The words in the song, the singer's comments and the reaction of all of us in conversation after the show, got me to thinking as I drove home. This poem is a product of that thought. It is not based on any personal experience of mine and I am not certain what draws me to it today. At first, I was nervous as to how this poem would be perceived, but I happened to know someone who was date-raped, so I asked her if this piece was out of line or off the mark, or if it had value and was well-voiced. After reading it, she thanked me, said she appreciated it a great deal and apparently passed it on to others. I later heard from about a half dozen other women, some who I did not know at all, who also thanked me for the poem.

Anyway, I hope whoever reads this piece, will come away feeling it has value and purpose. I put it out here for your review, thoughts and feedback.

She Said No (Rape)

She might have looked really fine,
Dressed to kill,
Your mind raced,
Body ached for her,
Perhaps even an exchanged glance,
She sent that "vibe."
So you lured her away,
"Come on, I just want to talk,"
"Trust me."
Yeah right.
So you raped her,
No, she never consented.
Didn’t you feel her palms pushing you away?
Didn’t you hear her screams?
Please stop!
"But she came to my room,"
Like that justifies something,
"She knows she wanted it,"
Does that word need explanation?
You ripped her panties,
You held her down,
She said no,
You ignored it for the Fuck,
She cried in agony,
She begged you,
"Please, no,"
She said no.

Copyright SGW 1997

Some good indy music

I found myself at "The Saint" in Asbury Park last night for Acoustic Night. I love the quaintness of this club, and the owner, Scott, is a gem. Anyone who works as hard as he does to keep indy music alive and well, deserves a plug here, and "The Saint" is currently celebrating 10 years bringing us good music.

I met Mimi Cross seven years ago when she was performing at an environmental festival, and try to catch her every so often. This singer-songwriter has a unique sound and style that can keep you listening for hours. Described as a cross between Ani Difranco, Joan Osborne and Alanis Morisette, this Jersey resident originally from Canada (if my memory serves me) is worth checking out.

However, I have often discovered the best music when I least suspected it, and last night was no exception. If you are in the NY/NJ/PA area, look up this sister act - The Pierces. These girls can sing!! Beautiful harmonies are the main course with The Pierces, and vocal ranges that will have you on the edge of your bar stool come often. They sing original material and have an album coming out at the end of January. Go to their website, find a date they are playing near you, and then go check Catherine and Allison out. After seeing them, you will be spellbound, too.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Poem: Quick Burning Candle

Quick Burning Candle

We are the enemies who we’ll never give fight
Lacking a will for resisting our plight
Spirals are endless in consuming decay
Stuck with no logic to a selfish display
Cultured indifference that belies dangers grown
Destruction assured if our ways don’t atone
Framed by old patterns of harmful neglect
Solutions to problems we ignore and reject
Disdainful obsession of a sacrificed calling
All feel entitled but the greed is appalling
Answers passed over for the future to handle
Yet the flame of existence is a quick-burning candle
Awash with contentment though the failure’s abounding
Dismissing the warnings becomes blindly astounding
The enemy’s ourselves in decisions unmade
What once built this nation has since been betrayed

Copyright SGW 2004

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Founding Fathers Were Not Christians?

Well, actually, for the most part they were, but they were smart enough to recognize the need for a separation of Church and State; something Republicans in large numbers today cannot seem to fathom. I found an article in the Daily Kos Diaries that linked to a piece by Steven Morris that is quite interesting. As a Revolutionary Period buff of sorts, I found this article rather interesting.

While the right wingnuts in this country continually attempt to portray the Founders as being desirous of making the United States a Christian nation as justification for the current fundamentalist extremism, this is an inaccurate portrayal of them. As I stated above, the Founders, by and large understood the need to keep religion and politics in separate corners. Going one step further, several of the biggest names of the Revolutionary Period went beyond this.

Allow me to pull a few direct excerpts from Morris' piece:

Thomas Paine: "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of...Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."

George Washington: "He never declared himself a Christian according to contemporary reports or in any of his voluminous correspondence. Washington Championed the cause of freedom from religious intolerance and compulsion. When John Murray (a universalist who denied the existence of hell) was invited to become an army chaplain, the other chaplains petitioned Washington for his dismissal. Instead, Washington gave him the appointment."

John Adams: "Adams wrote 'This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!'"

Thomas Jefferson: I could go on for days on Jefferson's views of religion, as he is my favorite ( I visit Monticello every few years), but I will stick with what Morris has to say. How's this: "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." This comes from one of Jefferson's famed letters to John Adams.

James Madison: Madison writes in various documents, "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise." "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

Benjamin Franklin: Franklin said, "As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion...has received various corrupting Changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his Divinity; tho' it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the Truth with less trouble."

So, there you have it; some of the greatest minds and leaders of our history were either opposed to Christianity or wanted it to have no place in the governmental framework of this nation. Can the right wingnuts quote any larger figures from the Revolution than Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin? I think not.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Poem: Dear John

First, my apologies for not having a poem for Colin Powell, Ann Veneman or Stuart Abraham, but this poet only has so much to give. I felt it necessary to send off our former Attorney General with a few verses. I also sent a copy to the DOJ to pass along to Johnny-boy himself, so if there are no further postings or this site goes dead, please forward all correspondence to me c/o Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Dear John

The news you’re departing has filled me as such
Too many reminders of the hatred you clutch
Countless reflections in minutest detail
Given to power only fear could prevail
In every expression, with contempt you denied
No room left for wisdom, the message implied
Statues were seen as an image corruption
Naked they stood for a virtued disruption
Lost was the beauty of artistic creation
Perhaps in your pants was a growing elation?!
Threats were a reason for imposing restriction
Every last Muslim had become an affliction
Rights were distractions to the mission at hand
Burdens of freedom you just couldn’t stand
Oppressive detail was the tool of your making
Constitutional values your actions were breaking
Self-righteously speaking with a voice void of reason
Your Department of Justice in its own witching season
Historical writings will portray your small thinking
Extremist and hater, to your name they’ll be linking

Copyright SGW 2004

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Poem: Fear And Hate Is Jesusland

Sometimes I just cannot help myself in ridiculing stupidity. This poem is directed at a large segment of the population who have turned religion into a home for extremism based on exclusion, hatred, simple minds, excess, denial, and fear. This is not an attack on Christianity, but the version being practiced by far too many in large swaths of the United States. Anti-gay, anti-science, anti-immigrant, anti-secular government; there is no difference between American fundamentalism and the Middle Eastern fundamentalism we rage against.

Fear And Hate Is Jesusland

Give me a white man;
Christian values at core.
Faithful, with ethics;
His morals are sure.

Don’t want no homos
And their cultured disparage.
Gay folks love Satan,
In their ungodly marriage.

Afraid they’re contagious.
They’ll peak at our butts.
Our children infected
By these heathenest sluts.

Neighborhoods ruined
When the nigrah invades.
Can’t they be happy?
At least they’re not slaves!

Hispanics, we’ll court you
‘Cuz votes we still need.
But keep a safe distance;
We beg and we plead.

Jews and their money
Are scheisters and lawyers.
American values;
The greatest destroyers.

Foreigners, liberals;
Secularists, too;
We fear all these people
And likely hate you!

Copyright SGW 2004

Movie: Sideways

Go see the movie "Sideways" if you like a smart, witty flick. This movie was thoughtful and tender, yet frustrating and harsh. It brings to the fore many of life's struggles and lessons in diverse and unexpected ways. Paul Giamatti gives his usual superb performance, but he is supported solidly by Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen.

Wine connoisseurs, of which I am not one, will appreciate this movie on a whole other level. For the rest of us, you will sink quietly into the lives of two men traveling the California wine country in search of very different things. Expect to laugh uncontrollably at moments you are the most unsuspecting.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Vienna Teng

I first heard Vienna Teng singing a Taiwanese lullaby on NPR last winter. I loved her voice so I kept listening. The rest of the songs were in English, so I discovered that liked what her message, too.

Vienna is a San Francisco based singer/songwriter who has a soft and gentle voice that soothes and makes one feel at peace with the world. The Stanford grad (with an Engineering degree) is brings a warm stage persona to her craft, as I discovered when I first saw her in Philly in April.

Today I am checking her out in NYC. If you are in the area and free, I suggest you do so to, at Joe's Pub. Her shows are at 6:30 and 9:30. If you can't make one of these performances, go to her website (she has 2 CDs, too) via my link list and find a gig near you. Vienna Teng is worth finding.

Poem: Memorial (Every) Day

While this poem was obviously written on Memorial Day, I think it is appropriate today, too.

Memorial (Every) Day

Bullets have flown by them
Some found their marks
Airplanes menaced their ships
And mines destroyed
They gave their lives
Saved ours
The heroes
Each night could be their last
Death a constant
Homes were so far away
Cold foxhole beds
They fought with grand honor
Selfless fears for a job
Freedom their cause
They gave their lives
Saved ours
The heroes
Wounds that can never heal
Scars define them
Lost friends gone forever
Limbs, eyes and souls
Any freedom due thanks
Serving country
Each day merits blessing
They gave their lives
Saved ours
In every war and battle
Our heroes

Copyright SGW 2004

Footnote: Written on Memorial Day, 2004 for every Veteran who has served this country, from the Revolution to Iraq, and into the future. The wars, just or not, were always fought by heroes. I can never fully appreciate or understand what a Veteran endures. This is my thank you for their service, nonetheless.

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day. Many people not working will take this day as a chance to run errands or relax. Others will work and go about their normal lives. I am not asking for a major effort today. But I do ask for you to remember what this day is about.

I want to say thank you to every man or woman who has served this great nation in all the wars, battles, fights, struggles, and missions the United States has ever known, from the Revolutionary War straight up to, and including, the war in Iraq. Disagreement with our civilian leaders and politicized generals in no way diminishes how grateful I am to all of the men and women of the military.

Because of you I live a fairly comfortable life. You put your lives in danger to protect me, and the American way of life. Thank you. Be safe.

I would ask every American to give thanks to the people who serve in the military today from time to time. When you look at all the flags flying in front of homes, think of the men and women of service. As you go about your business today, give passing thoughts to them as well.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Big Brothers Big Sisters

A bit of a change of pace for me today as the focus has been mostly on politics on this blog. I do have some charitable organization's links on my link list, and one is Big Brothers Big Sisters.

I am a three-time Big Brothers and serve on the local chapter's Board of Directors, so I would describe myself as being someone who knows a bit about the value of mentoring. Today was our annual awards brunch, and you can't help but realizing the value of the program. When you sit and listen, you understand what a difference mentors make in the lives of children in need. The kids generally come from a home with one parent or guardian, most are boys(but girls, too) and they belong to all social classes and racial backgrounds.

Statistics show the following about children in the mentoring programs of Big Brothers Big Sisters:
46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs;
27% less likely to begin using alcohol;
53% less likely to skip school;
37% less likely to skip class

Behind the numbers, evidence is crystal clear that matched children are more confident and get along better with their families. They become more socially adept on all levels.

There are reasons to volunteer as a mentor for selfish reasons, too. There are not to many feelings better than the drive home from a child's house when they have shown they appreciate you or have learned from you.

Click on the link. Find an agency in your area. Consider becoming involved. It is not that time consuming or difficult, and it is extremely rewarding.

I will answer anyone's questions, too, if you comment on my site.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Movie: Ray

I saw the movie, "Ray," today about the life of Ray Charles. I am not going to give a full scale review, as I did not take notes, but I highly recommend this picture. The talk of Jamie Foxx being worthy of an Oscar nomination is justified. I am not a fan of his at all, but he is so convincing in the role, you completely forget that you are not really watching Ray Charles.

The movie does something that many biographies skirt; it shows the full man. Charles had serious problems with heroin, was a womanizer and had issues of disloyalty with friends. This movie shows all of this, and puts it in a glaring spotlight for all to see. It also shows what a musical genius Ray Charles was, and how courageous a man he needed to be in order to get to the levels he was able to attain.

Go see this movie.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Elizabeth Edwards

One of the best parts of the 2004 campaign season was in getting to watch and listen to Elizabeth Edwards. She struck me as warm, funny, intelligent, caring, passionate, and sincere. I enjoyed "getting to know her."

With that in mind, all I can say is all the best wishes Mrs. Edwards. May you come out of your new struggle strong and healthy. You have my prayers.

Poem: Country 'Tis Of Thee

Country 'Tis Of Thee

Minions led on perceived direction
Blindly giving confused reflection
Oppose what’s real with what’s been shown
A core of values that’s overblown
Science, religion are intertwined
In man-made faith of false divine
Shadowed ventures of endless making
Of nature’s gift a grave partaking
The founding core dismissed as such
Cling to greed with selfish touch
An allied balance since left for naught
A foreign scheme devoid of thought
Friends are lost to suffered fools
Fear and hate their strongest tools
My country 'tis of thee is fading
Truth and justice too fast abating
Land of free and home of brave
Diagnosed as rather grave

Copyright SGW 2004

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Poem: Winds of Change

Winds of Change

Winds blowing constant off of New Jersey’s shore
Hoping for change from what four years endure
Country’s been languished in a failing direction
Foolish, our President, who will bare no correction
Blindly led backward by consuming obstruction
Falsely we’re given to a mindless destruction
Losing our place in a world of allying
Left all alone by a truth we’re denying
Feeling the breeze as it flies to the distance
Hoping for change in the wind’s strong resistance
Arise with a strength in renewing conviction
Altering the course from this Bush-whacked affliction

Copyright SGW 2004

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Poem: Timshel(East of Eden)

John Steinbeck is my favorite author, and "East of Eden" one of my favorite books. Make sure you read the footnote below.

Timshel(East of Eden)

East of Eden, fulfillment lies.
What life can offer the garden hides.
If masked illusion should guide the day,
The "happy" shell eventually will break away.
A fleeting vision that the world is pure
Leaves one ill-prepared for what they must endure.
Unfairly held to perfect measure,
Might stop the soul from knowing pleasure.
For where one cannot see a darkened sky,
Tomorrow’s sun shined air is just a lie.
Better yet to know, somewhere within is held,
Hidden parts of evil with goodness meld.
The struggle’s wrought with tribulation;
Makes sometimes arduous, self-preservation.
A delicate balance to not concede;
Within corrupted ways we might recede.
And at the crossroads, in time, all shall know
The choice is ours which way to go.
Thou mayest set right the sins you’ve laid,
And chance the joys of life be made.
So in this war the scales gently quiver
Toward the choice the mind might soon deliver.
East of Eden the spirit knows it’s free
To be what faith and courage will let it be.

Copyright SGW 1998

Footnote: "East of Eden" was written by John Steinbeck. "Timshel" is the Hebrew word for "Thou mayest." "timshel - ‘Thou mayest’ - that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on man. For if ‘Thou mayest’ - it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’" - John Steinbeck.

Poem: A Mountainside Field in Maine

This was written sitting in the rain on the side of a mountain in northeastern Maine, near the Canadian border.

A Mountainside Field in Maine

Mountains cascading one past another,
Some soaring to great heights,
Others reaching only high enough,
To break the looker's distant view.

Rivers nearby,
Sifting through valleys and slumbering villages,
Trees sprinkled about the countryside,
In number; a reflection to the evening stars above.

The looker shuts his eyes to alert his other senses.

Gone are the familiar sounds of traffic, telephones and angry voices,
Present now is near silence - or so it would seem.

For now, the listener can hear birds singing from their nearby stages of branch and leaf,
He hears the wind ruffle through the acres of grass all around him,
And feels it as it gently kisses his cheeks and caresses his hair.

There are many sounds,
But they are soft, inviting and at peace with each other.

He opens his eyes to see the heavenly quiet he had heard and felt,
The looker,
The listener,
He feels a million miles away,
He feels near to God,
He feels so close to nature,
He smiles and closes his eyes once more.

Copyright SGW 1995

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Poem: World Stripped Away

Friday, October 22, 2004 - Associated Press: "Report warns of loss of Earth's resources"

"Humanity's reliance on fossil fuels, the spread of cities, the destruction of natural habitats for farmland and over-exploitation of the oceans are destroying Earth's ability to sustain life." So says a World Wildlife Fund report in an Associated Press article.

"Humans currently consume 20 percent more natural resources than the Earth can produce," adds the WWF report. "We are running up an ecological debt which we won't be able to pay off unless governments restore the balance between consumption of natural resources and the Earth's ability to renew them."

According to the report, the United States is one of the five biggest consumers of nonrewable energy. This story struck a chord with me as it is a subject that I have been giving a great deal of thought to lately. Every time I see a new construction site or another strip mall or read about Orca dying in Puget Sound due to sonar interference caused by the government allowing larger ships into the area or I drive behind another SUV, I feel a pain from deep within. I worry about our future, or if we have one given the way we are wasting away this planet.

The environmental ruin we have wrought on this planet is staggering. And we have a mistaken belief that it won't matter. We can't seem to comprehend that everything is connected and the damage we do in one place effects some other in a harmful manner.

We clear cut forests and wonder why we have mudslides. Cases of cancer and lung disease increase year by year, yet we can't see the tie-in to poor air quality and polluted water supplies; not to mention processed food. The cloud thickens around our cities to the point that a breath of air becomes a strain, but does anyone question the poor automobile mileage and efficiency standards of SUVs?

We mismanage our National Parks by underfunding their upkeep and monitoring, turn a blind eye as large corporations make land spoilation part of their business model and ignore any possibility of developing alternative energy sources so that the same corporations can rake in the profits, made on the planet's limited supplies of oil.

We think that developing land for commercial and residential purposes will keep property taxes low, create jobs and meet growing consumer needs, but we fail to realize how short term these gains are when measured against the lost lands needed for wildlife of all kinds. Every lost field of grass or endangered species or contaminated fishing area or over-farmed land becomes one more break in the chain of life. Eventually, when enough chains have been broken off, our piece in the link will whither away, too. We are like the teenager too sure he will live forever to eat right, exercise, quit smoking or behave in a healthy manner. That teenager will pay at 40, and so, too, will humankind at some fast-approaching moment.

As we overpopulate the planet beyond sustainable levels, ignore mass transit opportunities until our roads become parking lots and pretend conservation should only be something hippies in Oregon do, we die a little bit more each day. This litany of environmental ruin I have laid forth in this entry might seem like Liberal ranting. But look closely at the world you live in. Notice the traffic, extra sun screen you apply now, the number of friends with cancer, the empty strip malls that stand next to a construction site for another strip mall, the gas mileage you get on your SUV, and the number of cigarette butts lying about the smoking area outside your office, and then tell me I am wrong.

World Stripped Away

Strip mall upon strip mall;
At landscapes they eat.
Strip mine affected
With ruinous feat.

Clearing a pathway;
Once was beauteous living.
Now all’s gone for sale,
Passed to builders we’re giving.

No room left for moving.
Traffic a curse.
Each new built construction;
Our world’s all the worse.

Short term the thinking,
Short-sighted gains;
Space since restricted
As clean living wanes.

Politicians so foolish
In the ratables chased.
Redundant; unneeded;
Our planet’s defaced.

More land since been spoiled
With each plow into dirt.
Every tree lost to clearing
Is our future we hurt.

Polluting the rivers
Equals life to extinction.
Smog fills the heavens.
Is this man’s lone distinction?

The world’s all connected;
As this sphere sees reduction;
Exploiting life’s circle
Is a slow self-destruction.

Copyright SGW 2004

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Things that piss me off

Forgive the rant, but I am in a mood.

1. People who throw their cigarette butts out the car window. Really, people who throw any trash anywhere but in a garbage pail, but cigarette butts are the worst.
2. While we are still on the subject of cigarettes, how about the following:
a) People who smoke in homes with children.
b) People who smoke outside the entrance to Sloan-Kettering. Is there anything more ignorant?
c) People who smoke anywhere near me.
3. A space that was once trees, grass and birds turned into another strip mall. Yeah, we really need a third drugstore, fourth Subway and eighth Quickie Mart in the neighborhood. No, five Home Depots in a 2 mile span are not enough!
4. People who think George Bush is a strong man. He is a fucking dope and coward; get over it!
5. The guy who sweats like a pig at the gym and does not wipe down the machine at all. Yuck!
6. The driver who pulls right into the middle of the intersection and does not allow me to turn out of the street I am patiently waiting at.
7. Anyone talking on a cell phone in a restaurant, movie theater, gym, or at a ballgame, in the middle of a busy store so everyone else can listen, or while in the stall next to me in the bathroom (I always think they are talking to me).
8. Oprah Winfrey.
9. Dr. Phil.
10. The person who just disappears instead of showing the courage to explain themselves first.
11. People who don't vote.
12. People who are anti-choice and do not volunteer with children either.
13. People who feel the need to inflict their religious beliefs on me to "save me."
14. Traffic jams.
15. People who do not return phone calls or respond to E Mails.
16. The Yankees, the football Giants or the Devils winning.
17. Fake, right wing patriotism.
18. Selfishness.
19. Greed.
20. Corruption.
21. Politicians who legislate hatred, exclusiveness or separation, and the voters who let them get away with it.
22. The lazy media.
23. My cable bill.
24. Calls from telemarketers, salesmen or fake charities.
25. Cheesy "music." Examples would be Britney Spears, boy bands, Beyonce, and either Simpson sister.
26. Speaking of the Simpsons, how about Reality TV, especially Trump's show. Pure dreck!
27. Foxs News Channel.
28. Interviewers who take 20 minutes to ask a question and end up providing sixteen different answers before the interviewee even has a chance to speak.
29. Racial, religious, sexual, or cultural bigotry.
30. My condo property management company.
31. SUVs. Why do people who live in the suburbs in NJ need a sports utility vehicle?

Ok, that's it for tonight. I feel better now.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Poem: Jersey Shore

I have written many times about the Jersey shore, and many more times I have found it to be my favorite place to write about anything. It is my place for peace, soul searching and escape. It is often my sanctuary and connection to God. I enjoy just sitting, listening and watching. And I enjoy walking barefoot in the outer limits of the surf. I hope this poem provides a strong taste of imagery that expresses a bit of what I mean and feel.

Jersey Shore

Could never exist in life removed
From peace I so adore
Happiness always lies within
Spent time on Jersey’s shore
Sit for hours and close my eyes
Taste the ocean’s soothing breeze
Stand along a quiet tide
Toes touched in gentle seas
Waves beat endless ‘gainst the rocks
Forever joined with sure resistence
Clouds sit high to met horizons
As gulls glide in the distance
Children surf upon the water
Dogs in frisbee’d-chasing pleasure
To and fro the people pass
In boardwalk, journeyed leisure
As daylight fades with setting sun
The air brings cool remind
Alone among the countless stars
Of God, the shore’s defined

Copyright SGW 2004

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Vote For Change Concert's Final Performance

The last show of the "Vote For Change Concert" series took place in the Meadowlands in New Jersey last night, and what a show it was! Led by Bruce Springsteen's unyielding energy and force, the performance was at once inspiring and also demanding; demanding of a more progressive government. If the night's acts could not get the people to vote for change with their words, they would do so with shear determination.

Springsteen led the charge with remarks about New Jersey being a swing state. He mentioned how he had woken up one morning for breakfast and saw in the newspaper that the polls in New Jersey were too close to call and that his beloved "Jersey" had become a state in play. His response was, "What the hell are we doing?!" He said his first thoughts were to "get to the Meadowlands now!" He added, "If you're swinging. If you're swaying. Release the burdens of Republicanism. Be saved!" He asked for volunteers to get out on the streets so that this country could remain the land of great promise that it is.

But the evening was about great music and the night began with Patti Scialfa, Bruce's wife, opening up with a strong set. Her performance included popular renditions of "Rumble Doll" and "23rd Street Lullaby," as well as "As Long As I," which Springsteen joined in on. Scialfa also spoke briefly, stating that "women should not vote with fear, but should vote from strength."

Jackson Browne followed Scialfa onto the stage with a set that started slowly, including a dedication to Daniel Pearl and "Fountain of Sorrow," but quickly built momentum. Browne noted that people had referred to his songs as being more in the form of a speech at times, and he immediately launched into the gentle, yet forcefully haunting, "Lives in the Balance."

"And there's a shadow on the faces
Of the men who send the guns
To the wars that are fought in places
Where their business interest runs"

"They sell us the president the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us everything from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars
I want to know who the men in the shadows are
I want to hear somebody asking them why
They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
But they're never the ones to fight or to die

Browne then slid right into a song of patriotic hope mixed with frustration, "For America," before adding the classic "The Pretender" to the night's set list. It then was guest time as Browne brought out Steve Van Zandt for a performance of Little Steven's "I am a Patriot."

"I am a Patriot
And I love my country
Because my country
Is all I know

This was followed by "Running On Empty," which Springsteen joined in on for a truly classic collaboration, and a spirited ending to Jackson Browne's performance.

Shortly thereafter, Bruce Springsteen took to the stage with a soulful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner performed alone on his guitar. The band joined in for the anti-war, "Born in the USA," with Springsteen leading the charge of the combined message of the mistakes of an administration with too much power and the broken dreams of the people that that power leads to.

Eddie Vedder, of Pearl Jam, joined Springsteen early in the set for a raucous performance of Springsteen's "No Surrender" and "Darkness on the Edge of Town." Vedder also led the E Street Band in Pearl Jam's "Better Man."

After Springsteen sang "Johnny 99," a song of economic despair that turns to tragedy, John Fogerty joined the act. Fogerty played three songs with Springsteen, including the gripping "Fortunate Son," bringing comparisons to George Bush and his life of unearned rewards mixed with the passing of sacrifice to others that has marked Bush's entire rise to power.

The show continued on with high voltage performances of "The Rising" by Springsteen, "Racing in the Streets," with Springsteen and Browne and "Mary's Place," where Springsteen fell into his popular preacher mode. He reminded the crowd that John Kerry and John Edwards would honor the important issues facing our nation and would move the country forward. He added that "America is not always right, but should always be true," a sharp rebuke of the Bush Administration. He voiced disdain for "dime store patriotism," before launching into a "take no prisoners" version of "Born to Run."

The seemingly exhausted crowd found new energy as Springsteen and Fogerty took the stage for an encore set of Creedence classics - "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising" and "Travelin' Band." The night ended with all the performers joining forces for Nick Lowe's "Peace, Love and Understanding," before the climactic Patti Smith song, "People Have the Power," and its symbolism of what we can accomplish if we realize the strength that we all possess. It says "to wrestle the world from fools." What a fitting ending to a show where the raw energy of rock and roll, combined with a message of change, brought the house, and hopefully the Bush Administration, down to its knees.

Springsteen's Set List:
Instrumental Star Spangled Banner
Born in the USA
Lonesome Day
No Surrender with Eddie Vedder
Darkness on the Edge of Town with Eddie Vedder
Eddie Vedder/Springsteen - Better Man
Johnny 99
John Fogerty/Springsteen - Centerfield
John Fogerty - Deja Vu
John Fogerty/Springsteen - Fortunate Son
The Rising
Racing in the Streets with Jackson Browne
Mary's Place
Born to Run
John Fogerty/Springsteen - Proud Mary
John Fogerty/Springsteen - Bad Moon Rising
John Fogerty/Springsteen - Travelin' Band
All - Peace, Love and Understanding
All - People Have the Power

Monday, October 11, 2004

Poem: Winter

Written for a friend who was going through hard times.


The world seems gray and cold outside,
When peace of mind will often hide,
Days flitter past with chilled despair,
And spirits left in disrepair.
A winter’s long in solitude,
And snowy beauty’s misconstrued,
Buried deeply, the growth of life,
All sense of warmth is lost in strife.
A snowball grows without regard,
Keeping out from under’s sometimes hard,
While standing strong is rather rough,
Not giving in can be enough.
A strengthened back might shovel clear,
And build a path ‘round any fear,
For every storm that leaves its mark,
When given time, shall disembark.

Copyright SGW 1997

Christopher Reeve

Many people died yesterday so why should we focus on the famous people; a similar question to when I sent well wishes to Melissa Etheridge. Well, the truth is we should value the non-famous with equal vigor to what we display for celebrities. However, a celebrity's illness or death can evoke strong responses and force issues to the forefront. I offer Lance Armstrong as Exhibit A.

Anyway, Christopher Reeve died yesterday. Mr. Reeve was a valiant warrior in search of answers for spinal injuries, and one battle he fought was for stem cell research. There might be cures at hand for spinal injuries, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease and who knows what else. There are enormous issues in this campaign (Iraq, terrorism, the economy), but let's not let this one issue slip through the cracks. People are dying or suffering with terrible illnesses or injuries. What if cures are within the grasp of honest and wholly ETHICAL research?

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Poem: The Hours

I had a deep appreciation for the three life choices in the movie, "The Hours."

The Hours

Darkness creeps from deep within;
Consumes the all about;
Twisting, turning disrepair
That fills an inner doubt.
Entangled threads that fray and split;
A tear of inner core.
Roots of life begin to pull,
With pain one can’t ignore.
By suicidal tendencies;
Of masks in hidden gloom;
The Hours fraught with endless time
From which its tickings loom.
Choices life or choices death,
Sometimes the path away;
Choices fear or choices dread,
Or chance to live each day.
Darkness creeps from deep inside,
As currents sweep the skin.
Gasps for air in choking lungs,
As means to ends begin.

Copyright SGW 2003

Friday, October 8, 2004

Poem: Bush/Cheney


They hide in their shadows
And hold no regret
Squander our future
Yet act so upset
When questioned of virtue
Or asked for some plan
Blame they shift elsewhere
They don’t give a damn
Devise false compassion
Conceal all their hate
A future providing
Has been left up to fate
An agenda conspiring
Masses they dupe
The lowest of levels
They’ll willingly stoop
Tax cuts for wealthy
Connected to oil
Our natural beauties
They happily spoil
Destroy with no reason
Invade for no cause
Debts left as burdens
Their waste knows no pause
Promote world disorder
Bridges to burn
No need for alliance
In friends that they spurn
Fundamentalist preaching
They imply and invoke
Rights from the Founders
They slowly revoke
On November the second
Vote with a purpose
Remove from their office
This Bush/Cheney circus

Copyright SGW 2004

Melissa Etheridge

I am not sure who reads my blog entries and I am certain Melissa Etheridge does not. However, I am a huge fan of hers, and as a cancer survivor myself, I wanted to send my best wishes for a fast and complete recovery to Melissa in her battle against breast cancer.

The three worst words I have ever heard were "You have cancer." You do not even know how to react. I hope she has many friends and family members for support and that she comes through this as strong as ever.

Good luck Melissa!

Sunday, October 3, 2004

"Sammy's Hill," by Kristin Gore

When I read in Newsweek a few weeks ago that Kristin Gore, daughter of Vice President Al Gore, had written a novel that was receiving positive reviews, I thought, "Ok, it sounds good. Let me buy it and give it a whirl."

"Sammy's Hill" is the story of Samantha Joyce, a Senate staffer working on healthcare issues for Senator Robert Gary, of Ohio. The story is a very interesting look into D.C. culture, the ways of the Senate staffing world, the agendas of politics and politicians, and the whole game that is our government at times. That would make this a worthwhile read in and of itself..

However, what makes this book special is Sammy. She is naive, devoted, sincere, hard working, and determined to make things better. She is also a bit neurotic, clumsy, a bumbler, and unlucky at love. Sammy is not the best with a blackberry, either, which makes for the two most humorous parts of the book.

Kristin Gore gives us a story that is both smart and insightful, yet also loving, cute and laugh out loud hysterical. It finishes with a flourish that is touching just long enough to make the parting moment of the book that much funnier.

I loved this book on several levels. Buy it. Read it. Enjoy it.

Poem: Cancer

On February 1, 1999, I was diagnosed with cancer. On February 5, 1999, I was operated on. Throughout March of 1999, I endured seventeen radiation treatments. These are some of the emotions of that period. Oh, 5 1/2 years cancer-free now!


What can I do?

For fighting anew.

Blood gone askew.

Can I see this thing through?

For the battle to brew.

Success I am due.

No cancer
To that day I am true.

Two traits as my glue.

Copyright SGW 1999

Poem: Two A.M. Hairball

A little humor that cat lovers will appreciate.

Two A.M. Hairball

Lying in peace late at night in my bed
Soundly asleep as the dark hours fled
Deep in a slumber awash in all dreams
Nothing more tranquil; at least so it seems
Strange sudden noises awaken my sleep
I’m up in a moment no matter how deep
For below the foot of my bed echoes most hideous bellows
Reminds me of coughing - it’s my furry, black fellows!
One’s filled with a hacking of a disturbing relent
Another Two A.M. Hairball disturbs all content
It is a chooking and chekking that breaks up the night
Until a heap of their dinner is planted in sight
Gracing my carpet, a mountain of dreck
Yet the worst part is cleaning every last little speck
Every feline companion has known what I speak
Yet the Two A.M. Hairball is not for the weak
The first time you hear it, you think the cat might implode
Then each every after you just wait to scoop up the load
You try lots of tricks to lessen occurrence
Whether treats, meds or diet, nothing’s deterrence
So cat people sleep with an ear for that sound
Certainly deep in an evening the coughs will abound
And sigh or ignore it, it still’s gonna’ come
The Two A.M. Hairball and the cats that they’re from.

Copyright SGW 2001

* Footnote: The words chooking and chekking should be pronounced the way a Jewish person would pronounce Chanukkah. You know, that flem-making sound that some Hebrew words utilize.

Saturday, October 2, 2004

Vote For Change Concert in Philadelphia

"My point of view is pretty simple, said Bruce Springsteen on an overhead screen prior to the "Vote For Change Concert opening, "I think that if you mislead the country, and you take the nation to war, and you put our sons and daughters on the line and the basis on which you have taken the country to war proves false, you lose your job. It's not rocket science. When you do that, you lose your job. "

I could not have said it better or more clearly than the Boss laid it out for us at the "Vote For Change Concerts" last night in Philadelphia. These opening comments included remarks from Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Eddie Vedder, and members of R.E.M. They were one small piece of an inspiring evening that began with an army of Moveon.Org members canvassing the arriving crowds of fans for volunteers or voter registration. Pro-Kerry and anti-Bush shirts were everywhere, including my "Friends Don't Let Friends Vote Republican." I got many thumbs up and kudos for that one. The "Bushit" stickers abounded, too.

Following the comments on the overhead screen, Bruce and Michael Stipe gave a brief introduction for the evening's cause; the need for a more PROGRESSIVE leadership, then brought out "Bright Eyes" for a solid opening performance.

Then Bruce introduced R.E.M., who opened with "One I Love," followed by their typically strong live show. The set list included "Losing My Religion," with the crowd in full voice, and "Man On the Moon," which Springsteen joined in on.

But the highlights of the show were still ahead of us. Fifteen minutes after R.E.M wrapped up, the spotlight honed in on the singular figure of Bruce Springsteen, dressed in black, with just his guitar, performing a rousing rendition of the Star Bangled Banner, a la Jimi Hendrix. The crowd was in a patriotic frenzy right away. The E Street Band then launched into the anti-war "Born In the U.S.A.," the song misinterpreted by President Reagan twenty years ago.

Springsteen later added some songs of social and economic distress, "Youngstown" and "Johnny 99," to the show, following them with the Kerry campaign favorite, "No Surrender." Then the evening really took off as Bruce brought out John Fogerty. Springsteen and Fogerty sang "Deja Vu" and the overwhelmingly potent, "Fortunate Son," among others. Bruce also later added "Promised Land."

During "Mary's Place," Springsteen went into his patented "music preacher mode." If you have never seen him live, he does this alot and it is fantastic. This time, though, in midstream, he called out for someone to be converted. A man in a suit and tie, looking strikingly like Dick Cheney, walked out. Bruce touched his forehead as the man fell to the floor. Springsteen said, "Now say Halliburton three times and heal!" The man rose and said, "I am converted and am voting for change!" A thing of beauty!

The four hour concert wound down with an encore performance of the Nick Lowe/Elvis Costello song, "Peace, Love and Understanding," and the Patti Smith hit, "People Have the Power," performed by all the night's entertainers. Bruce led it with the (paraphrased) message that the "Promise of America is within us."

The show was an unquestioned success. Joined by other shows throughout Pennsylvania, led by John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne, Pearl Jam, and Bonnie Raitt, that will also hit other swing states, the messages were clear: Love of country does not belong to one party, this nation needs a change and new leadership to bring it about, and we ALL must get involved and do our part to make those changes possible.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Poem: Lies Behind the Smirk

Obviously, this was written a few months ago, as the death toll has continued tragically upward from the level stated in the poem.

Lies Behind The Smirk

Twelve more young soldiers have died once again.
Six hundred and counting with hardly an end.
Justification for actions had been borne from a "threat."
Weapons discoveries; we’ve not found any yet!
Distracting the mission from where the danger still lies.
Motivations of power, though our "leader" denies.
Iraq’s for the oil, and the truth sits here bleeding.
While they mock all dissenters, no one is leading!
Loved ones are slaughtered in a shameful disgrace.
Bush speaks before us with a smirk on his face.
His family’s in bed with the oil regimes.
The monies exchanged have only fed our worst dreams.
Saudis and extremists and Republican power;
The root of the cause of this terrorist hour.
And while enemies flourished in the Afghani distance
Our arrogance pulled us with wrongful persistence.
Until now we discover Iraq awash with insurgence.
We opened these doors for more terror’s emergence.
This quagmire was built with a foolish portrayal.
And our country’s been duped by this greatest betrayal.
The love ones since lost, we can never replace.
Still Bush stands before us; fuckin’ smirk on his face.

Copyright SGW 2004

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Thomas Jefferson would be a Democrat

I am just back from a weekend visit to one of my favorite places; Monticello, Virginia. I love Thomas Jefferson and sometimes I just have to get in the car and make the trip down to Charlottesville to say hello.

Republicans would probably be up in arms at the subject-line title above. They would scream at the top of their right wingnut lungs about how Jefferson was a states' rights guy; how he was anti-Federalist. Half of that argument is correct, as Jefferson did believe in a government where the states had total power to govern except for what was implicitly bestowed upon the Federal Government in the U.S. Constitution. Further, I am certain that he would see the size of our current governing structures in Washington D.C., and find it repulsive.

However, Jefferson's being an anti-Federalist does not imply a Republican slant. For all their talk about small government, deficits seem to grow under Republican leadership, not Democratic leadership. Also, despite their talk to the contrary, Republicans are the equals of Democrats in their ability to pork up a spending bill. So, let's eliminate that Republican argument right off since we can clearly state that Republicans spend at a level equal to, or exceeding, that of Democrats.

Staying on this line of discussion, let's also recall that Jefferson was very much opposed to having a national debt, and in fact, significantly reduced the Revolutionary War debts of the U.S. during his tenure in the White House while also completing the Louisiana Purchase. I further believe that while he would be strongly against our tax system, and would likely not like the size of our government, he would be ever the pragmatist and at least have a much more progressive, or Democratic, tax system in place, and would fight tooth and nail against tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the lower and middle classes.

Still, there are several other reasons why Jefferson would be a Democrat. The most obvious one to me would be religion. While Jefferson publicly conveyed support for Christianity and even wrote into the "Declaration of Independence" several references to God and the Creator, he also wrote the "Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom." He was quite clear in that all Americans should be free to practice religion according to their own beliefs, and the matter was strictly and completely personal. Some have even questioned his true religious belief system. There is no question that he would consider the attempted infiltration of religion into our public society by the Bush people and Republican Party in general. The Republicans use of religion in the abortion debate, school prayer(despite the nature of some of the courses taught at the University of Virginia when founded by Jefferson), and gay rights would bother Jefferson a great deal. He would also be sickened by Bush's constant references to God and faith. Jefferson would see it as disingenuous and a slippery slope to try to ascend.
Jefferson would support stem cell research in the name of science. He would support insuring that anyone wanting an education would be able to get one. He would support gay rights(he was wrong on slavery and he knew it). And he would certainly be a proponent of protecting the environment, while also being very cautious about allowing big business too much of a voice in setting government policy.
Lastly, in looking at George Bush, he would see a man with no imagination, no curiosity for knowledge and no interest in detail. He would have no respect for someone who was not well read or well spoken. Jefferson would not approve of Bush's stubbornness and unwillingness to see mistakes and change course. Bush would strike him as a simple man in the worst sense; someone not up to the task of leadership and not of able mind, spirit or conscience.
Thomas Jefferson would be a Democrat.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Poem: The Black and White Cookie

I am heading to Charlottesville, Virginia for a three day weekend, but before I go, I wanted to leave you guys with something ...

I loved Seinfeld. I love black and white cookies. I would really love racial and religious harmony. The first time I performed this poem in public, I had someone hand out fresh black and white cookies to the crowd.

The Black and White Cookie

So big in size these cookies are,
A world of cookie treat,
The black and white stand side by side,
And are equally good to eat.
Not separated within different wrappered places,
They share a common space,
The cookie’s special because of both,
Neither one could we replace.
Perhaps it’s diversity that brings a value,
Or the contrasts which offer something true,
There’s just one thing I’d wish to add,
A cookie of Christian, Muslim, Jew.

Copyright SGW 1997

*Inspired by an episode of "Seinfeld" and my love of Black and White Cookies

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Poem: Puget Sound Orcas

A few years ago, after recovering from cancer(5 1/2 years cancer-free now!) and from having a back surgery that allowed me to do some traveling, I decided there were things I needed to see. One was orcas in the wild. August of 2003, I flew to Seattle, and one of the things I experienced was a ten hour boat ride around Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands to go orca watching. What an experience!! I will go back sometime soon, but here is what I wrote about that day.

Puget Sound Orcas

Soft, chilling waters alive in this Sound
Worlds since uncovered where a beauty abounds
Eyes roam the distance of shorelines of green
Ride to horizons with bluest of gleam
Chance to bare witness to sea mammals resting
Bald Eagle sits in the trees of its nesting
Man’s yet to spoil remarkable visions
Hope he stays wise in his future decisions
Heart starts to race as I glance my first fin
Black and white beauty in their mystical swim
Look all around to the pod we’re among
Bask in the warmth in my skin that’s begun
From every which way are new sights to behold
Glide through the waters with a strength that’s so bold
Just off to starboard, whales coast right beside
Revealing appearance that the waters would hide
Can’t help but marvel at the wonders they bring
Find us encircled in an Orca-made ring
Familial in nature, the pods form a whole
A bonded communion where each has a role
Watching, I smile with grin ear to ear
Puget Sound Orcas are a heaven so dear

Copyright SGW 2003