Sunday, April 29, 2012

Norah Jones - Peace

Sunday poetry

What I Will

I will not
dance to your war
drum. I will
not lend my soul nor
my bones to your war
drum. I will 
not dance to your
beating. I know that beat. 
It is lifeless. I know
intimately that skin
you are hitting. It
was alive once
hunted stolen
stretched. I will 
not dance to your drummed
up war. I will not pop
spin beak for you. I
will not hate for you or 
even hate you. I will 
not kill for you. Especially
I will not die
for you. I will not mourn
the dead with murder nor
suicide. I will not side
with you nor dance to bombs
because everyone else is
dancing. Everyone can be
wrong. Life is a right not 
collateral or casual. I
will not forget where 
I come from. I
will craft my own drum. Gather my beloved
near and our chanting
will be dancing. Our 
humming will be drumming. I
will not be played. I 
will not lend my name
nor my rhythm to your
beat. I will dance
and resist and dance and
persist and dance. This heartbeat is louder than
death. Your war drum ain’t 
louder than this breath.

~ Suheir Hammad

Friday, April 27, 2012


Alicia Keys - Lesson Learned

Yesterday's Lesson

I've come to the realization that when it comes to politics, you can’t depend on anyone.

You’d think I’d have learned this by now but I’m a slow learner.

I’m thinking specifically about people whom I assumed leaned at least slightly left – one runs a progressive website, for Pete’s sake – but who regularly use Facebook and Twitter to direct so much snark, sarcasm and snide remarks toward liberals that the only label they deserve is “bitch.” (I’m not being sexist – one of them’s a dude.)

Yesterday, the Michigan Board of Canvassers – the body charged with approving or denying state ballot proposals – deadlocked along partisan lines and failed to certify more than 200,000 petition signatures collected by people wanting our democracy-killing emergency manager law, Public Act 4, to be placed before state voters. (I’ve written about Public Act 4 before. Google it.) Although the two Democrats on the board wanted to certify the petitions, the two Republicans supported a challenge seeking to disqualify the signatures because – and get this – the petition circulators used the wrong font size in the petition headings.

Regardless of the fact that this was a b*llsh*t reason to disqualify the signatures – most previous challenges based on type size and formatting have failed as long as the substance of the petitions and the number of valid signatures were clear – the thing that gets me is that people I thought I knew felt it necessary to ridicule the petition circulators for neglecting to do their homework and giving the Board of Canvassers a reason to send them packing. One even tried to make the case that as long as we have hungry kids digging in dumpsters for food in this state, we ought not to concern ourselves with less important issues like, you know, assaults on representative democracy and stuff.

I tried to make the case that there was no need to be derisive – that the signature collectors were fighting the good fight and deserved respect for their efforts even though they didn’t cross all their t’s and dot all their i’s (after all, they did collect 203,238 signatures, 40,000 more than the number needed to place the question on the November ballot) – and we’re allowed to care about more than one issue at a time but it was like trying to communicate with my ex-wives: they were so busy distracting and condescending and ignoring my points that our conversation went nowhere.

So not only did I learn that this important challenge to our emergency manager law is probably heading to the state Court of Appeals instead of the November ballot, but I also realized that just because people are thought to be progressive or insist they’re unbiased doesn’t mean they are. They might be more invested in composing clever Facebook posts and arguing than in working to improve government or at least supporting those who do.

We really do learn something new every day, don’t we?

Source: Huffington Post.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fauns Have To Eat Too

Roy Sludge Trio featuring Duke Levine - Hot Dog Fingers

Sludge and Stupidity in Delhi Township

I’m compelled to write about sludge.

Anita and I ran across several “No Sludge Dryer” yard signs in our neighborhood recently so we decided to learn more about the issue. It turns out we’re being asked to vote in 13 days on Phase II of a two-phase plan to process sludge – the stuff we flush down our toilets, wash from our bodies and clothes and rinse down our drains – and the “No New Taxes” folks are rearing their ugly heads.

Sandra Diorka
Delhi Township’s population is just over 25,000. Right now, we produce around four million gallons of sludge per year and pay around $38,000/year to transport it to farms to be used as fertilizer. Officials want to turn this liability into an asset and sell the treated sludge to interested buyers which include Michigan State University.

The first phase of the sludge project approved by the township board in 2007 cost millions and involved implementing a “Class A” treatment process (sludge must be “Class A” before it can be sold or given away). Phase II consists of building the sludge dryer. If Phase II is voted down, all that money spent in Phase I is lost.

I realize this is a local issue but it’s representative of a problem we have today: too many voters make decisions based on flawed information, lies, emotion and selfishness – and we all suffer the consequences.

Sandra Diorka, Delhi Township’s Director of Public Services, made the following points in a well-written article that appeared in the Holt Community News:

  • Dried sludge can be burned for fuel; burning it destroys/removes pharmaceuticals, hormones, detergents and sanitizers from our fields and water supplies.

  • Dried sludge is a renewable fuel, so we’ll be reducing the use of fossil fuels to generate power. 

  • Delhi Township will save enough money through reduced operational costs and raise income from selling the processed sludge to pay back the project’s cost in less than 20 years. 

  • Building the sludge dryer now to take advantage of state grants will save more than half of the project’s costs; we’ll need to cough up $2.6 million rather than $5.1 million.

Delhi Township Supervisor Stuart Goodrich and a resident named Florence Drullinger wrote persuasive letters to the editor that appeared in the same issue. Goodrich and Drullinger both support the project; Goodrich pointed out that we already have a green light from the U.S. EPA and the state Department of Environmental Quality.

How much will building the sludge dryer cost sewer customers? $1.20/month. That’s right: less than $15/year/household. Opponents surely spent more than $15 to manufacture and deliver lawn signs to the ignorant, misguided residents who agreed to reveal their short-sightedness for all to see.

Diorka says, “Paying a bit more for sewer service will result in considerable long-term savings.”  I sure hope the majority of my neighbors don’t decide to be penny wise and pound foolish on May 8.

Sludge dryer photo courtesy Komline-Sanderson

Sources: Delhi Charter Township, Holt Community News.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody

Why I'm Still Boycotting Brawny

David and Charles Koch 

I receive regular e-mails from a woman named Melody, a recruiter and employment consultant in Detroit, about job opportunities. Most relate to positions for which I’m not qualified or that are too far away but Melody’s messages give me a feel for the job market in southeast Michigan so I welcome ‘em.

Today one of her messages strayed from the norm:


In the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin...the Koch company which manufactures paper products is paying for Zimmerman's legal fees because they feel he had the legal right to bear arms and shoot Trayvon. We are asking that people everywhere band together with us and pass this information on and NOT purchase any of the following items because your money will be paying for Zimmerman’s lawyer fees. Please do not purchase any of the following: Angel soft toilet paper; Brawny paper towels; Dixie plates, bowls, napkins, cups; Mardi Gras napkins and towels; Quilted northern toilet paper; Soft and Gentle toilet paper; Sparkle napkins; Vanity Fair napkins and Zero napkins.

I’ve written about the Koch brothers before (see “Why I Boycott Brawny and Mardi Gras,” January 13, 2012). They’re the unscrupulous billionaires who’ve bankrolled the Tea Party and are waging war on Obama. They help fund the Mackinac Center, a far-right “think tank” with ties to almost everything that’s bad, including Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s conservative policies, union-busting, eliminating government funding of the arts, privatizing prisons, bashing public schools and denying the reality of global warming. Oh, and they’re behind the effort to make it harder for people to vote.

Is anybody surprised that they’re now linked to Trayvon’s murder?

Victim and Murderer
I’m not sure where Melody got her information, although the Koch brothers do help fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the evil entity that’s behind Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law – which kept Trayvon’s murderer, George Zimmerman, out of jail for 45 days. (The law’s been used to excuse neighborhood brawls, bar fights, road rage and even gang violence.) ALEC – which disseminates “model legislation” to right-wing politicians throughout the country and also advocates that private, for-profit businesses take over schools, prisons, public transportation and social services – has or had ties to the National Rifle Association, the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation, the American Petroleum Institute, Amoco, Chevron, Shell, Texaco, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Phillip Morris, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, among other bad actors. (Visit this website.)

It makes sense that the Koch brothers are willing to fund Zimmerman's defense. Conservatives have been demonizing Trayvon and siding with Zimmerman since the story broke, and Zimmerman's become the poster child for the “Shoot First” laws that the NRA loves.

I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody discovered that the Kochs are underwriting Ted “I Prove My Masculinity By Slaughtering Animals and Threatening Democratic Politicians” Nugent’s sputtering career. And I use “career” loosely.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

In Our Hands

The Strokes - Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)

Sunday poetry

Bent to the Earth

They had hit Ruben
with the high beams, had blinded
him so that the van
he was driving, full of Mexicans
going to pick tomatoes,
would have to stop. Ruben spun

the van into an irrigation ditch,
spun the five-year-old me awake
to immigration officers,
their batons already out,
already looking for the soft spots on the body,
to my mother being handcuffed
and dragged to a van, to my father
trying to show them our green cards.

They let us go. But Alvaro
was going back.
So was his brother Fernando.
So was their sister Sonia. Their mother
did not escape,
and so was going back. Their father
was somewhere in the field,
and was free. There were no great truths

revealed to me then. No wisdom
given to me by anyone. I was a child
who had seen what a piece of polished wood
could do to a face, who had seen his father
about to lose the one he loved, who had lost
some friends who would never return,
who, later that morning, bent
to the earth and went to work.

~ Blas Manuel De Luna

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Amazing Tree

Moodorama: Never Mind

Sunday poetry

Never Mind

Never mind the pins
And needles I am on.
Let all the other instruments
Of torture have their way.
While air-conditioners
Freeze my coffee
I watch the toaster
Eating my toast.
Did I press the right
Buttons on all these
Buttonless surfaces
Daring me to press them?
Did you gasp on seeing what
The mailman just brought?

Will the fellow I saw pedaling
Across the bridge live long
After losing his left leg,
His penis, and his bike
To fearlessness?
Will his sad wife find
Consolation with the
Computer wizard called in
Last year to deal with glitches?

Did you defuse the boys’
Bomb before your house
Was under water, same
As everything else?
Aunt Til grabbed her
Silver hand mirror
Before floating away.
The dog yelped constantly,
Tipping our canoe.
Silly dog.

~ Dorothea Tanning

Friday, April 13, 2012

Uh oh

The Doors - Riders On The Storm

Now we can ride without helmets or sense

Floridian Frank De Los Reyes wasn’t wearing a helmet when he crashed his Harley-Davidson in 2008

My governor is an absolute idiot.

I just learned that Rick Snyder repealed Michigan’s decades-old motorcycle helmet law yesterday. So now we have to deal with the likelihood that my state will soon be populated by even more people whose signatures consist of “X”s and who think Rush Limbaugh is a voice of reason.

Under the new law, riders 21 and over can ride helmetless if they’ve passed a safety course or have been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least 24 months. Oh, and they’re required to obtain additional insurance in case they crash. (Motorcycle passengers also have to be 21 and carry additional insurance if they want to ride sans helmet.)

Gary Busey
I have two words for supporters of the repeal: Gary Busey. The actor who earned an Oscar nomination back in 1978 for his portrayal of Buddy Holly was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident ten years later – he wasn’t wearing a helmet – and he hasn’t been the same since. Doctors think he probably suffered permanent brain damage, which would explain his ridiculous endorsement of the Donald’s failed presidential bid last year.

I visited the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) website and learned that the number of motorcycle-related deaths in 2007 was about 37 times the number in cars, and that almost 4,300 cyclists died in 2009. Clearly, motorcycles are dangerous. Yet Michigan’s chief executive – a member of the party that wants to insert ultrasound devices into women’s genitalia and determine who can get married yet claims to be the “party of less government” – apparently believes he, not the experts, knows what’s best for motorcyclists.

More from the IIHS:

  • Helmets are the principal countermeasure for reducing crash-related head injuries, a leading cause of death among unhelmeted riders.

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 25 studies of the costs of injuries from motorcycle crashes "consistently found that helmet use reduced the fatality rate, probability and severity of head injuries, cost of medical treatment, length of hospital stay, necessity for special medical treatments, and probability of long-term disability.”

  • A 1996 NHTSA study showed average inpatient hospital charges for unhelmeted motorcyclists in crashes were eight percent higher than for helmeted riders ($15,578 compared with $14,377).

  • According to a 2000 motor vehicle occupant survey conducted by NHTSA, 81 percent reported that they favored mandatory helmet use laws for motorcyclists.

  • Among motorcyclists who reported not always wearing helmets while riding, 57 percent said that a helmet law would encourage full-time helmet use.

So now we have another example of how my beloved Great Lake State, once a national leader in forward-thinking public policy, is going backwards faster than a stick of butter melts in the sun. Say what you will about government regulations, but this one made sense and protected public health.

Snyder’s signature on Senate Bill 291 proves that he’s no tough nerd, shrewd politician or misunderstood public servant. He’s just an idiot who’s not above pandering to the knuckle-dragging segment of Michigan’s population – which is about to get bigger.

Rick Snyder photo courtesy Lon Horwedel/

Sources:, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Tampa Tribune.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Zuckerberg and Peres Dig This

Peter Gabriel - Red Rain

Sunday poetry

Spring Reign

Thank you whoever tuned the radio
to rain, thank you who spilled
the strong-willed wine for not
being me so I’m not to blame. I’m glad

I’m not that broken tree although
it looks sublime. And glad I’m not
taking a test and running out of time.
What’s a tetrahedron anyway? What’s

the sublime, 3,483 divided by 9,
the tenth amendment, the ferryman’s name
on the River Styx? We’re all missing
more and more tricks, losing our grips,

guilty of crimes we didn’t commit.
The horse rears and races then moves no more,
the sports coupe grinds to a stop, beginning
a new life as rot, beaten to shit, Whitman

grass stain, consciousness swamp gas,
the bones and brain, protoplasm and liver,
ground down like stones in a river. Or does
the heart’s cinder wash up as delta froth

out of which hops frog spawn, dog song,
the next rhyming grind, next kid literati?
Maybe the world’s just a bubble, all
philosophy ants in a muddle,

an engine inside an elk’s skull on a pole.
Maybe an angel’s long overdue and we’re
all in trouble. Meanwhile thanks whoever
for the dial turned to green downpour, thanks

for feathery conniptions at the seashore
and moth-minded, match-flash breath.
Thank you for whatever’s left.

~ Dean Young

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lovely Luxembourg

Photo by Christina McChesney

Frankie Valli - Can't Take My Eyes Off You

Basie's Birthplace Not All Bad

I intended to write a less-than-flattering post about New Jersey.

It had been near the bottom of my “States I Want to Visit Again” list for years – ever since I learned that it’s the car theft capital of the world, the largest chemical producing state in the nation and the setting for “Jersey Shore,” one of the most putrid shows ever to appear on television.

Governor Chris Christie
Additionally, its obese Republican governor, Chris Christie, gives me the willies. Christie endorsed Robotron Romney last October, vetoed a bill a few weeks ago that would have legalized same sex marriage in New Jersey, and sings from the same hymnal as other Republican politicians, advocating less taxes for millionaires but more on poor families. (He cut his state’s earned income tax credit – as did Michigan – and slashed programs for women and seniors.)

The latest tidbit that was motivating me to trash Jersey was the news that gift card companies are leaving it because a new law lets the state claim the value of unredeemed cards after just two years. The companies say it’s too difficult to comply with changes in the state’s unclaimed property law requiring gift card sellers to obtain ZIP codes from buyers so the state can claim the value of unused cards. (Without this information, the value of unused cards would revert to the companies or the state in which the company is incorporated.)

According to the Associated Press, state officials saw unused gift cards, travelers' checks and money orders as potential new revenue sources, projecting $79 million for the last fiscal year. But retailers sued last year so most of the potential income has yet to be seized. A federal judge temporarily suspended the collection of ZIP codes but lifted the injunction. The case is pending.

The Cast of "Jersey Shore"
(In my state, unclaimed property like gift card balances, tax refunds and safety deposit boxes revert back to the state – it’s called “escheat” - and we passed legislation to snag this unclaimed property sooner in order to generate $208 million for fiscal year 2012. But New Jersey’s apparently the only state trying to collect personal data at the point of purchase in order to help collect unused gift card balances.)

I’m not keen on protecting the profits of corporations like American Express – one of three companies that have threatened to abandon Jersey so far – but I object to the state requiring consumers to divulge personal information so it can grab money to balance budgets that reward the rich and punish the poor.

So I was just about to write a nasty post about the Garden State when I was reminded that Kim Kervan Casey – one of the coolest and most compelling individuals I’ve ever known – hails from there. (I wrote about Kim and her family last August; click here to read “I Miss the Caseys.”) I decided to find out who else had or has ties to Jersey and came up with the following names, among others:

  • Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
  • Jason Alexander (George Costanza from “Seinfeld”)
  • Count Basie
  • Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora
  • Zach Braff (Dr. Dorian from “Scrubs”)
  • Danny DeVito
  • Longtime Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank
  • Poet Allen Ginsberg
  • Actor Ed Harris (Pollock, A Beautiful Mind, The Truman Show, Stepmom, Sweet Dreams)
  • Singer/songwriter Lauryn Hill
  • Whitney Houston
  • Brian Keith (Uncle Bill from “Family Affair”)
  • Actor Nathan Lane
  • Cartoonist Charles Addams
  • Queen Latifah
  • Author Fran Lebowitz
  • Funnymen Jerry Lewis and Joe Piscopo
  • Dionne Warwick
  • Actor Ray Liotta (Goodfellas, Smokin’ Aces, Unlawful Entry)
  • Actress Bebe Neuwirth (Dr. Lilith Sternin, Frasier’s wife, on “Cheers”)
  • Shaquille O'Neal
  • Astronaut Buzz Aldrin
  • Magician David Copperfield
  • Donald Fletcher Holmes (inventor of polyurethane)
  • Author Norman Mailer
  • Jack Frikkin' Nicholson
  • Joe Pesci (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, My Cousin Vinny)
  • Chairman of the Board Frank Sinatra
  • Actor/director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Zach and Miri Make a Porno)
  • Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen
  • Meryl Streep
  • Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan

I realized that it wouldn’t be right to trash a state that has given us so many amazing, cool, great folks. Plus I visited the Jersey shore once – my family visited Wildwood – and didn’t encounter a single person named Snooki, The Situation, Pauly D or JWoww.

Maybe I’ll trash Arizona instead.

Sources: Associated Press,,,, Washington Post,

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hoodies and Skittles

The Sunday Drivers - Dancing Queen

Sunday poetry


for Brad Gooch

We snort all our coke
on the way to the party.
We bring the new album.
We dance while we listen.

The band is two women
whose husbands control them.
They do not speak our language.
Each syllable’s an obstacle.

They are in love with a man.
He is in love with another.
But they’re in no hurry.
They could wait forever.

And when they are out
on the make for a lover,
they’ll always find him.
They are the tigers.

We are stoned too stoned to.
We dance till we’re tired
and listen to lyrics
we mouth like a language.

What we feel, when we
hear them, is inexpressible.
We can’t put into words.
Maybe our dances show it.

ABBA lives for their music.
We long for each other.
They see what we’re doing.
They put it on record.

They play it, we listen.
We are absolutely stunned.
We feel, and they know
more than anyone can say.

~ Dennis Cooper