Sunday, July 29, 2012


John Legend - Save Room

Sunday poetry

New Rooms

The mind must
set itself up
wherever it goes
and it would be
most convenient
to impose its
old rooms – just
tack them up
like an interior
tent. Oh but
the new holes
aren’t where
the windows

~ Kay Ryan

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rockin' It

Queen - 'We Are The Champions'

2012 Olympic Games Endorsed by God

When I clicked on a video in YouTube earlier today, I was forced to watch a Visa commercial that included the dramatic claim, “Over the next 17 days, athletes will become legends,” spoken by none other than God himself (aka Morgan Freeman) before I could hear the song I chose.

That’s exactly the kind of commercialism and hyperbole that has soured me on the whole Olympics thing.

I guess it’s sacrilegious to pooh-pooh this EXTREMELY IMPORTANT ATHLETIC EVENT mere hours after Queen Elizabeth II opened it and Paul McCartney performed “Hey Jude” for the 27 millionth time. My own mother took exception to my “Olympics Scholympics” status update in Facebook.

I tried to explain myself by commenting:

I like the idea of top tier athletes from around the world coming together to compete in an atmosphere of goodwill. I don’t like the fact that the Olympics has become a multi-billion dollar opportunity for corporations to flex their muscles, politics and myopic patriotism to trump international tolerance, and Bob Costas to prattle on ad nauseum as if his perception is worth more than gold. (Does that guy ever shut up?!) And didn’t Robotron Romney head up the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City? ‘Nuff said.

Speaking of Romney, apparently he’s in London to watch the Olympics and embarrass Americans by insulting the British prime minister, calling perceived preparation mistakes “disconcerting” and publicly revealing that he met with the head of Britain’s MI6 secret spy agency (a clear no-no to intelligent world leaders who know when to boast and when to use discretion). This caused London Mayor Boris Johnson to slam Robotron in front of 60,000 people in Hyde Park and James Chapman, political editor for the Daily Mail – the United Kingdom’s second biggest-selling daily newspaper – to famously tweet, “Do we have a new Dubya on our hands?” The answer, sadly, is apparently so. (See video below.)

Anyway, my friend Mark Richardson posted a compelling response that shut me right up:

I think there is still room for the Olympic spirit somewhere underneath all the corporate logos. When the teams parade into the stadium, you see the looks on the faces of the athletes. Most of them are people you will never hear about, and you can just tell they are embarking on the most awesome experience of their lives. Imagine being a wrestler from Togo, or a swimmer from Samoa, and walking into that place. I think the Olympic torch still burns brightly for them.

I do like the fact that the Olympic Games feature competition in several sports, including but not limited to beach volleyball, gymnastics, archery, swimming, basketball, boxing, cycling, soccer, fencing, table tennis, weightlifting, blogging and synchronized sewing (just kidding about the last two). And it’s cool that one of this year’s competitors, 17-year-old champion gymnast Jordyn Wieber, hails from DeWitt, a small city 20 miles north of my home in Holt, Michigan. Go Wieber!

So I guess I won’t prohibit my kids from watching some of the Games of the XXX Olympiad since they’ll be on television until August 12 and my son in particular has been eagerly anticipating them. But there will be no flag-waving, dammit, and I’ll be fast-forwarding through the Visa commercials.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Photo by James Long

Mary J. Blige - Family Affair

Sunday poetry

Family Tree

Hush little baby what you crying for?

Yo’ mamma didn’t want to leave you on that bathroom floor

She 16 and I think you number foe

After the garbage man leave, we ain’t seen them no moe

Yo’ daddy, granddaddy, they all the same

Since everyone a girl child, sooner or later there be pain

Don’t blame her none, she know what best

Her daddy, her granddaddy

She just cleanin up the mess

~ Kareemah El-Amin

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Evergreen Cemetery, Florida

Photo by Ron Broome, Florida Native Photography

Janet Jackson - Control

Mourning and Shrugging

The site of horror in Aurora, Colorado
In 2006, firearms were used to murder 27 people in Australia, 190 people in Canada, 59 people in England and Wales, 18 people in Austria, and 10,177 in America.
                                                      ~ States United to Prevent Gun Violence
There are over 30,000 gun deaths in America each year, nearly 12,000 of which are homicides.
                                                     ~ Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Wayne LaPierre can kiss my fat ass.

The Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association is lucky that he’s armed at all times, I’m sure, because if I ran into him in a dark alley and he weren’t able to fill me full of holes in a matter of seconds, his welfare would be in serious jeopardy.

Wayne LaPierre
Why, you ask? Because violence begets violence. As the chief apologist for all the nutcases who destroy lives, families and the fabric of this country with Glocks, TEC-9s and AR-15s – and as one of the biggest contributors to the corruption and ineptitude of Congress that I can think of – this man irks me more than my birth father, two ex-wives and estranged daughter combined. I believe he is indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds and the broken hearts of thousands. If punching him in the nose could lead to tougher gun laws, that guy would be walking around with a swollen schnoz the size of a Kia Sorento. (No, I’m not actually using “What’s the Diehl?” to threaten another human being. You get my point.)

A depressing but well-written article in The Atlantic entitled “Why the Aurora shootings won’t affect gun laws” points out that if the Trayvon Martin and Gabrielle Giffords shootings didn't lead to policy change, the Colorado tragedy probably won't either. The article quotes Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, who disputes my perception of LaPierre’s employer:

"The political reality is that the NRA is not as powerful as people believe, but there has not been enough grassroots activism and political support for tough gun laws. For members of Congress who have 50 things to care about, a vote for tougher gun laws can get you into trouble without much political reward."

In a land where unjustified war in Iraq is allowed to be waged for more than eight years, The Nuge is thought to be newsworthy, Gilbert Gottfried is thought to be funny and the few who do take to the streets and parks to protest greed and class warfare are ridiculed and marginalized, I’m inclined to think Glaze is right. The American people just don’t object to sh*t enough.

Consider these facts:

  • Charles Whitman shot and killed 16 people and wounded 31 others from the clock tower at the University of Texas in Austin on August 1, 1966. 
  • William Ray Bonner shot and killed seven people and injured nine others in Los Angeles on April 22, 1973.
  • John Parish shot and killed six people and wounded four others in Grand Prairie, Texas on August 9, 1982.
  • George Banks shot and killed 13, including five of his own children, on September 25, 1982 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
  • Kip Kingle shot and killed two students and wounded 22 others at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon on May 20, 1988. He was just 15.
  • James Edward Pough shot and killed nine and wounded four others in a car loan office in Jacksonville, Florida on June 18, 1990.
  • James Swann shot and killed four and injured five in random drive-by shootings in Washington, D.C. between February 23 and April 19, 1993.
  • Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris shot and killed 12 students and a teacher and injured 24 other people at Columbine High School – 20 miles away from Aurora – on April 20, 1999.
  • Benjamin Smith shot and killed two and wounded nine during a three-day shooting spree in Illinois and Indiana in early July of 1999.
  • Mark Barton shot and killed nine and injured 13 more on July 29, 1999 in Atlanta.
  • Jeff Weise shot and killed nine and wounded five others on March 21, 2005 on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northwest Minnesota.
  • Jennifer San Marco shot and killed seven in Goleta, California on January 30, 2006.
  • Charles Roberts IV shot ten little girls between the ages of six and 13 in an Amish one-room schoolhouse in Nickle Mines, Pennsylvania, killing five, on October 2, 2006.
  • Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia on April 16, 2007.
  • Patrick Burris shot and killed five people in Cherokee County, South Carolina in the summer of 2009. 
  • Jared Lee Loughner shot and killed six people, including nine-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, and injured 14, including Congresswoman Giffords, in Tucson on January 8, 2011.
  • James Eagan Holmes shot and killed 12 and injured 59 – including an infant – in a packed movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado late last Thursday.

This long list – which, sadly, is the tip of the iceberg – is courtesy of the NRA (which was founded in November of 1871 to promote marksmanship, not fight responsible gun control). I sure am glad that the knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, NASCAR-loving, Larry the Cable Guy-worshipping cretins who comprise its current membership care more about protecting the Second Amendment than about protecting mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, grandparents, best friends, coworkers, cousins, teachers, students and other victims of gun violence.

I was listening to the radio last night and caught The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne and David Brooks from the New York Times discussing gun control and the NRA. Dionne referred to a column he had just written about the gun lobby and the worshipers of weapons. His conclusion: “Awful things happen, we mourn them and then we shrug. And that’s why they keep happening.”

223 West Jackson Blvd., Suite 802
Chicago, IL 60606

Aurora theatre photo courtesy Reuters.

Wayne LaPierre photo by Gabe Skidmore.

Sources: New York Times, Huffington Post, NBC News, The Atlantic, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Washington Post, States United to Prevent Gun Violence.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Miles Casey Protecting the World

Erasure - Man In The Moon

Sunday poetry

The Man in the Moon
He used to frighten me in the nights
of childhood,
the wide adult face, enormous, stern, aloft
I could not imagine such loneliness, such coldness
But tonight as I drive home over
these hilly roads
I see him sinking behind stands of winter trees
And rising again to show his familiar face
And when he comes into full view
over open fields
he looks like a young man who has fallen in love
with the dark earth
a pale bachelor, well-groomed and
full of melancholy
his round mouth open
as if he had just broken into song.
~ Billy Collins

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Huey Lewis and the News - The heart of rock & roll

All the News That's Fit to Skew

“Bain Capital is like the ex-girlfriend Mitt tries to crops out of his profile picture but everyone can still see her arm.” ~ Andy Borowitz

This is what bothers me.

Instead of reporting about Robotron Romney’s lies within the context of….well, Robotron Romney’s lies, the media insist on burying the information in articles focused on the political race. The powerful opposition research arm of the Obama campaign. The “He said and then he said” b*llsh*t which turns people off and makes it so the actual information doesn’t get out.

Robotron lied about his role at Bain Capital, the Boston-based venture capital firm he founded back in 1984. Securities and Exchange Commission documents have surfaced showing that Robotron was head honcho from 1999 to 2001 – a period during which the company outsourced boatloads of jobs and drove companies it purchased into bankruptcy. Being the oily, integrity-challenged politician that he is, Robotron denies that he called any shots during this time.

Instead of shouting, “Romney’s a disingenuous, untrustworthy, mealy-mouthed jackass!” from the highest mountaintops, journalists – and I use that term loosely – frame the news in the context of the horserace, with poll numbers and rebuttals and references to message resonance and party affiliation. (See this Associated Press article.)

It’s all part of the disconcerting fact that the media are distorting reality and perpetuating a false equivalency in order to remain relevant, to sell ads and newspapers, to prop up the conservative, to keep people interested in a race that was already over until the Fourth Estate decided to resuscitate one candidate’s corpse and turn a shellacking into a cliffhanger.

Regular “What’s the Diehl?” readers know that I’m not the biggest fan of polls. It seems to me, however, that when the writing’s on the wall – such as when a recent Quinnipiac University poll finds Obama leading Robotron 54 to 34 percent among single voters or a recent Bloomberg poll finds Obama leading 53 to 40 percent among likely voters who view Robotron as “out of touch” – people ought to see it.

Instead, we’re told that the race is really, really close and Robotron’s expected to take this state and that state and Obama’s being hurt by voter frustration over the economy and his campaign has yet to hit its stride.

I’ve been more than a little critical of the POTUS in the past and I remain disappointed in some of his decisions and positions, but I know this: 1) he’s a hell of a lot more concerned about the plight of regular folks than the Mormon from Massachusetts, and 2) in a perfect world, Obama’s superiority over Romney in nearly every way would be trumpeted by reporters, not squelched.

Sure is an imperfect world, huh?

Sources: Detroit Free Press, Huffington Post, Bloomberg News.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Myleigh Victoria

I Started a Joke - Faith No More

Sunday poetry

the missing degree

You had steel girders for cheekbones,
a fortified frame, a daily team to polish
your many metals, tighten your edges
You had a crew to winterize you—
and bring you back to spring again.

You didn’t age, or sink 
into the leveled ground. Everything stayed
nearly as promised: you were as fresh
as the first blueprints that inked eager hands.


Through the shimmering frame—a swirl of dust motes,
colliding and conceding,
the sun hitting at the right angle, blinding.

And a forgotten slab of basement concrete tilting
downward ever so slightly: a sneaky subtraction of degrees.
A corner keeping watch

over a family of possums. A fluff of gauzy
insulation pushing its way out.

A person might feel, on some cooler night,
the degree that was missing, the unprotected space

and shiver, glancing suspiciously toward measured walls.

~ Prairie L. Markussen

Read more poetry of unusually high unusualness at Clutching at Straws.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

You're Welcome

Richie Havens - Freedom (Woodstock 1969)

Why Cooper's Admission is a Big Frikkin' Deal

I hate it when I disagree with someone I respect.

It happens at my new job every day. I really dig my boss and think she’s one of the sharpest, most compelling individuals I’ve ever met. She’s also domineering and has no problem reminding me in word and deed that she’s the boss and what she says goes in each and every instance from now until the end of time amen.

So I’m conflicted because part of me really wants to bond with her and learn from her and another part thinks being myself is more important than submitting and kowtowing and restraining. So far I’ve resolved my inner conflict by reminding myself that she signs my paycheck but who knows how long that’ll work?

Hayden and Hoffman et al
I’m also conflicted by a conversation I had yesterday with a guy in Facebook whom I respect a lot. This dude traveled in the same circles as Tom Hayden and the late Abbie Hoffman – two in-your-face radicals who stood up for their beliefs when not doing so would have been a hell of a lot easier – and was a member of Students for a Democratic Society or the Weather Underground or one of those leftist terrorist organizations of the 1960s. In my view, if someone’s marching in the streets for a better world while I’m still sucking a pacifier in a crib in metro Detroit, that person deserves my respect no matter what position they take on a particular issue. Not deference, perhaps, but respect.

So when I posted a status update declaring that I’m not even a little interested in Anderson Cooper’s revelation that he prefers men to women and this guy disagreed with me, insisting that this was a big frikkin’ deal, I wasn’t sure what to think.

My wise elder wrote, “Ignoring sexual preference is in the same category with ignoring race. We’re not living in a post-homophobic America anymore than we are in a post-racial America. Hatred is alive and well and gaining steam. So every little bit helps. If this has a positive impact on the thinking of any clueless closet homophobes, it’s a good thing.”

I responded with, “As long as we justify giving a sh*t about who someone gets naked with, people are gonna think that’s an issue worth exploring. I’m not making any grand statement about a post-homophobic, post-racist society. I’m saying I don’t care one iota about Anderson Cooper’s sex life. Period.”

I added, “Did you hear they’re dying in the streets of Syria at the hands of their own country’s soldiers? Did you hear that radiation from Japan’s destroyed nuclear facilities is threatening the world? What about how Mitt Romney wants to reverse the tepid gains we’ve made with health care reform? These issues are all being overshadowed by a television personality’s anti-climactic disclosure that he prefers to date people of his own gender. I’m sure the starving children of Georgia and Darfur are thanking their lucky stars that this assumption has finally been confirmed.”

Then Mr. I-Probably-Smoked-a-Joint-With-Timothy-Leary-While-We-Were-Levitating-the- Pentagon-But-I-Don’t-Remember wrote, “Most of the problems you mention have racism or sexism or xenophobia as a major component, so the overall issue is one that is worth raising. I also don’t think we have to ignore Issues 5, 6 and 7 just because Issues 1, 2, 3 and 4 are very important. Also, we have a lot more power to challenge homophobia in the U.S. than we do to stop a civil war in Syria, for example. Mitt Romney’s campaign is being fueled in large part by racism and homophobia. It’s all connected. But I’m sure Cooper would be the first person to say that we should focus on Syria over Kim Kardashian. I guess people can only take so much grim news.”

He makes some good points, doesn’t he?

This is why I’ve decided, obviously, to devote some space here in “What’s the Diehl?” to Mr. Cooper’s public disclosure of his sexual orientation. If this post or my Facebook conversation with my sage pal impact positively on the thinking of any closet homophobes who happen to visit my blog, it’s a good thing.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Kiss

Stevie Wonder - All In Love Is Fair

Sunday poetry

The Fair 

The idiot goes round and around
With his brother in a bumping car
At the fair. The famous idiot
Smile hangs over the car’s edge,
Illuminating nothing. This is mankind
Being taken for a ride by a rich
Relation. The responses are fixed:
Bump, smile; bump, smile. And the current

Is generated by the smooth flow
Of the shillings. This is an orchestra
Of steel with the constant percussion
Of laughter. But where he should be laughing
Too, his features are split open, and look!
Out of the cracks come warm, human tears.

~ R.S. Thomas