Saturday, September 9, 2017

Grocery List

This month marks the one-year anniversary of my father’s death.

I’m heading back to the Detroit area for a few days soon. That’s where he lived much of his life, and that’s where he died. Aside from the funeral, it will be the first time Ive been to his grave.

My father was creeping up on 89 years old when he breathed his last. His health and mobility had declined dramatically over a period of less than two years. I can’t be sure, but I think he was ready to go.

I don’t have much in the way of fatherly memorabilia. But most of his stuff remains in the house his widow still occupies; maybe I’ll be able to pick something up.

On several occasions I’ve had to rummage through the personal effects of someone who recently died, and been encouraged to choose something as a keepsake. Sifting through a lifetime’s worth of someone’s stuff: what a strange experience. Once was for my paternal grandmother, and the other my maternal grandfather - oddly symmetrical, it seems.

In the case of my grandmother, I chose a small cut glass clock that didn’t work. Honestly, I did not want that artifact, but was pressed to choose something. It has resided on my daughter’s dresser ever since.

From my grandfather’s stuff, I chose an old union booklet. This struck some as a little peculiar, but it had, and still has, an odd value to me. He belonged to the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. His dues were all paid up.

A few years later I came into possession of one of his awls. I’m not a carpenter, but it’s perfect for rounding out the inside of brake and shifter cable housing on bikes. They compress when cut.

What about my dad?

There was no great purge of worldly possessions (at least, not when I was around). There isn’t much I want, frankly.

I already value a slip of paper I found tucked into one of my books (Ironweed). I must have shoved it in there as a bookmark once, during a visit. It is a most trivial thing: my dad’s grocery list from four or five years ago. But it means something to me, perhaps because it is so commonplace.

The physical objects our forebears leave behind may serve as memory triggers, but far more important is how they’re imprinted on our psyches. For most of us, our parents are encoded into our brains. We carry them in our heads, cradle to grave – and that is what matters most.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Real Donald Trump

His Twitter handle is, “real Donald Trump.”

Well, we got to see the real Donald Trump on August 15, in a press conference from Trump Tower. There isn’t much I can add to the megatons of criticism that is, quite properly, raining down on this morally bankrupt pig.

I’m going to add to it anyway. Heather Heyer could have been my daughter.

A recurring phrase among his supporters has been, “Let Trump be Trump.” They’ve done just that, and the results are as repulsive and horrifying as they are predictable.

The Internet was down at work on the day of Trump’s presser, so we all got to leave early. Was home in time to see the disgusting spectacle, live on MSNBC. This repugnant filth, this so-called president, all but formally repudiated his condemnation of the racist thugs who rallied in Virginia a few days earlier.

I won’t re-hash it. But make no mistake – as if you could – those neo-Nazis in Charlottesville brought all the trimmings, from swastikas to sieg heil salutes.

They rallied with torches on Friday night. On Saturday, Heather Heyer was struck and killed by a car that deliberately plowed into protestors. Yet Trump said: “I think there is blame on both sides.”

A CNN analysis, published without a byline, cast Tuesdays press conference as “a moment ripped from the darkest pages of history and transposed into the 21st Century.” No argument with that. It concluded: “[Trump] appears to have abdicated any claim to the traditional presidential role as a moral voice for the nation and the world.”

Uh, no. Donald Trump has never had, and never will have, even the tiniest claim as a moral voice for the nation or the world.

My daughter has already been to an anti-Trump demonstration, at which I photographed a Trump thug-in-waiting (see below). She turns twenty in a few days. My heart breaks for Heather Heyer, for Susan Bro, for Mark Heyer, for Elwood Shrader.

We have seen the real Donald Trump. He is a moral degenerate.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Blood On His Hands

Trump’s utter failure to call the appalling violence in Charlottesville, Virginia what is was is not the least surprising.

The death of a thirty-two year old woman was directly related, and the deaths of two state troopers in a helicopter crash was ancillary, to clashes between neo-Nazis and counter-protestors. The neo-Nazi terrorists came to Charlottesville for a “unite the right” rally, called because city officials planned to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee from a public park.

They also came to provoke.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump at a news conference a few hours after the deaths. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

On many sides? David Duke and other known racists spoke to the neo-Nazis. Trump failed to condemn them. He made zero reference to the neo-Nazi terrorists, and their clearly racist and hate-filled agenda. His reference to Barack Obama was apropos of nothing. His remarks expose his complete lack of leadership, as well as his indifference to, and ignorance of, social realities in the United States.

As if we needed further proof.

From what I saw, the white nationalists came to Charlottesville with helmets and other protective gear, like bulletproof vests. Many of them were probably also armed. I don’t know that for sure, though one who was arrested had a concealed weapon. Clearly the intention was at very least to incite violence.

It’s reprehensible, though not surprising, that Trump went straight to “don’t blame me!” rhetoric. At that time no one had blamed him. But blame him we should. He knows perfectly well that he furthered the toxic and divisive environment that led to the Charlottesville deaths.

He only condemned the violence because politically, he had no choice. This racist, divisive fraud could not care less about what happened, and the root causes he almost single-handedly provoked.

At left is thirty-two year old Heather Heyer, the woman killed when a neo-Nazi thug deliberately plowed his car into protestors. Less than twenty-four hours ago, as this is written, she was alive. Her name belongs now with Goodman Chaney Schwerner, Emmett Till, and countless others, who died needless deaths because of white racists. Her blood, and the blood of the two state troopers, is on Trumps hands.