Category Archives: silence

Predicaments

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I have thought for many days about what would I have done

differently in an early February conversation during a break

at work.  So many times during my life I have stood up for a

situation or cause, only to find out later this alienated me from

a friend.

 

I was so excited and passionate about seeing the movie, “Selma.”

I have been taught that by being silent one is quietly accepting

another’s words or choices. This is not a good position to be in

when making friends. I feel that if my friends don’t think along

similar lines, it is not a strong friendship but one of convenience.

Over the past six years, I have built a close-knit group of people

who get along together, joke and lighten each other’s days at work.

 

 

My fellow coworkers, Tammy, Melvin, Felda and Mary Jane are

part of this group. We have enjoyed sharing weekend experiences

and expanding our minds in lively conversations. There are many

fringe friends who join in and stop by our table. I enjoy meeting

such a wide variety of people at my warehouse job. This is one of

the best positive aspects of my work.

 

It is not generally a good idea or tactful while in a work place,

to express controversial opinions. Yet, my table mates and I

have seen eye to eye on the subject of acceptance. Some of us

even voted in elections the same way. We started watching

some of the same t.v. shows to be able to share about these.

 

 

Little did I expect, someone I cared about would be making a

rather outrageous statement in response to a movie review.

Here are some quotations to lend support to my response.

 

 

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

~Eldridge Cleaver

 

A longer version, expanded from the above thought includes

the following words which are also true:

“. . . but the perpetual human predicament is that the answer

soon poses its own problems.”

~Sydney J. Harris

 

The old Latin rule of the law of acquiescence would apply here,

“Qui tacet consentire videtur” means one who is silent is seen

to have given consent. To acquiesce is to accept or to comply.

 

I was mentioning how many things about the Civil Rights period

despite being raised in a conscientious and active participant

family, I had missed. I was describing one of the early details of

a particularly disturbing scene where children in a church were

killed in a bombing in the film, “Selma.”

 

Out of nowhere, my ‘close’ friend,  Felda said,

 

 

“We, in our country, believe in love and cannot ever understand

people who are raised in a “culture of hate.”

 

I emphatically agreed with this, thinking she was talking about

bigoted people who are ‘taught’ to hate people from another

group from their own. In other words, I was thinking she

meant to be talking about ‘whites’ being part of the ‘haters’

specifically, in the Civil Rights movement.

 

As I nodded and said, “I agree,” I noticed a quiet pause in the

conversation. Tammy (Ohio country girl) and Melvin, (son of

immigrants from an island off of Portugal) did not join in.

 

Felda helped me to realize who she was talking about by adding,

in a most definite direction I would NEVER agree with,

 

“Why do blacks get taught to hate whites in America?  In the

Philippines, everyone loves others. We were ‘slaves’ in our own

history, but we ‘don’t hold it against you.'”

 

Okay, now I knew where silence would not be appropriate. I

had to dig myself out of a hole, so to speak. I said that she did

not understand the trials, tribulations and how people who were

slaves, or had slave ancestors, were affected by their treatment.

They may have possibly been taught to ‘mistrust’ white people.

 

Inside my head for a moment, I thought possibly only coming

here to live in the U.S. (and marrying Jason, an American) in

the 1990’s may have given Felda less understanding of the

long history, prevailing ways and practices which continue

going on from when the Civil War ended in the 1860’s, into

the present. The other two of  her friends have always been

less outspoken and didn’t try to contribute or interpret what

she meant by her hurtful words.

 

I added,  “This is not how this conversation was meant to go.”

 

I had hoped that by talking about “Selma,” to help everyone

at this table understand why fear and distrust could become

part of a familial pattern of handling people. The small town

in Mississippi had many people showing their prejudice against

the blacks. I had especially thought the Filipinos (what they

insist on being called at work) would have empathetic feelings

coming from their own personal experiences of prejudice.

 

I looked at Melvin, who is sophisticated and warm.  He had

served in the Army, traveled Europe and was raised in an open

minded, accepting and loving family. He would give the shirt off

his back and has often been found this brittle cold winter, under

the hood of a fellow employee’s car trying to fix or replace a part.

Actually, the speaker of this unfortunate point of view, had been

‘only charged for car parts’ when she had needed four brakes

replaced by Melvin and other repair assistance.

 

I wondered why Felda had said this about blacks, without any

clarification? Did she intend to hurt Melvin?

The rest of the people at the table were either Filipino or

white.

 

Melvin shrugged. He knew it was pointless to mention that

this person who arrived in America, married an American,

may not completely understand the racial issues, tensions

and dynamics here in the United States.

 

Melvin felt my eyes on him, urging him to ‘speak up.’ Finally,

he responded by saying,

“My people are not nor have ever been descendants of slaves,

but I feel a lot of sympathy for the blacks here. I get the same

kind of attitude from whites as they do, I get followed around

in jewelry stores, I have been shoved while at a peaceful protest

rally by a ‘white supremacist’ cop and have been taken aside to

be shouted at. I would ‘never measure up to the white people’

in my Army experiences. This came from more than one officer

in the Army.”

 

Melvin quietly expressed his thoughts on a tough issue,

“I will share this additional thought: black people raised in the

South are different from black people raised in the North. To

be honest, unfortunately their perspectives are not the same.”

 

I went on a limb and put my thoughts out there for friends

who had included me in christenings, birthday parties and

delicious meals at parties where we sang karaoke together,

 

“I need to study your islands’ history better of what you call

‘slavery.’ I am not sure that slavery there was the same as

slavery here. I have the misunderstanding that your culture

may have a history of servitude.  Sometimes smiling when you

were crying inside, but this is probably inaccurate. Meanwhile,

I would never agree with your statement about the black culture

being raised to hate whites.”

 

As far as research, there are considered to be 130,000 to as

many as 160,000 people in the Philippines who are part of

sex trafficking, indentured servitude and this is from an article

on October 9, 2013 from the newspaper called, “The Manila

Times.”

 

I wished to re-emphasize my opening remarks to them.  I didn’t

realize the total impact on everyday activities of black people from

those who felt ‘superior’ to an entire race until recently. I heard

‘snippets of history’ in school. Like not being allowed to ride in

the middle or front of a bus, Rosa Parks ‘took a stand’ for freedom.

I saw firsthand the water fountains, restaurants and other public

buildings in the 1960’s. They were labeled, “For Colored People.”

I knew this must have been hard or rough on anyone living in

their skin color. We read together my kids and I about the

Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman.

 

I just finished a great book by Tara Conklin, considered historical

fiction called, “The House Girl.” It has the legal aspects of the

reparation act for families of slaves.  Every other chapter is about

a young woman called “Josephine” who worked in a slave owner’s

house. She learned how to paint from her ‘mistress.’ Later, the

‘house girl’s’ art work is given credit to her owner. Learning is

ongoing.

 

I was truly interested and asked,

“How long ago in Philippines’ history were there slaves?”

 

“Selma” brought back memories of partial lessons for me.

It depicted Ku Klux Klan members, cruelty and ‘hate crimes.’

Who could ever wish to bomb churches and not allow people

to gather in protest?

It is hard to imagine but not right to brush uncomfortable

subjects under the table. Seeing these violent acts on film,

brought back how recently this had happened. It made me

wish to promote this movie, as I did last year when I saw the

fine film, ’12 Years a Slave.’

 

Felda, Mary Jane and May have not looked me in the eyes

since this happened. I continue to say, “Good Morning” and

ask how their family members are, ask how their weekends

went, etc. They give me short answers and have been sitting

at their own table, talking in their own language. I don’t regret

my words, but was sincerely meaning to defend Melvin, along

with my own grandchild’s heritage.

 

My oldest daughter’s son, Micah is 1/4 black. His father’s Dad

plays an integral link to his life and comes to family gatherings.

 

Micah has overheard their complaints about prejudice. We

talk openly about how his own father has been pulled aside

roughly by teachers, coaches and strangers. When he shows

his ‘independence’ it is sometimes considered ‘an attitude.’

This happened with my coworker and friend, Cheryl (who

recently lost her grandson to illness). She has been told, she

says that she “has a chip on her shoulder.”

 

Micah was in preschool when a fellow  4 year old asked him,

“Is your Daddy a terrorist?”

 

This fills my eyes with tears, my heart with sadness and my

mind with fear for Micah, too. It is ‘still out there.’ Even in the

minds of immigrants who feel that black culture is ‘filled with

hatred.’

 

Here is an update on getting an ‘excuse’ written for my eyesight

and concerns for safety while driving heavy equipment. My phone

call with my ophthalmologist left me without anything promised

in writing and another appointment made in April.

 

I visited the optometrist who seemed more interested in helping

me. She wrote a well thought out letter, including the reasons I

would not be a safe candidate for ‘heavy bulk’ at the warehouse.

 

She wrote about my lack of depth perception, my monovision

while wearing a close distance contact to read fine print and a

far distant contact to see far away. She mentioned my not being

able to judge distances, especially in the narrow passages while

driving backwards with the double pallet riding equipment.

 

Her professionalism and need to be clear, may have included

details which won’t help my cause:

“Robin’s peripheral vision and depth perception would be

greatly improved by wearing single vision distance only

spectacles instead of contact lenses. Obviously, if the patient

is in a warehouse, she should be wearing safety spectacles.”

 

I have been wearing contact lenses throughout my six years

at Advance Auto Distribution Center. I am most confident

while reading the tiny UPC codes, picking the correct items

to place into bins, hampers or gaylords. (Containers which

are actually huge cardboard boxes for Open Stock and used

in heavy bulk on top of a wooden pallet and plastic pallet.)

 

I won’t change to regular glasses to carry out my job nor to

bifocals. I am not sure I would be as confident in performing

my job with single vision glasses. The reason I chose contacts

was because I used to have to take off my glasses to read the

fine print, use the RF’s (tablet computers) and now, new piece

of equipment,  a Bluetooth computer on my arm.

 

As my good friend, Jenny, honestly suggested work may try

to force me to use glasses and go to work in heavy bulk.

I am ‘screwed.’

 

My ophthalmologist who had told me he could not write a letter

until I came in for another appointment. I will hold out for Hope.

An April letter request will hopefully include all the parts that

Dr. Wagner wrote without the details suggesting I switch to

glasses or ‘safety spectacles.’

 

Thanks for your concern about my work situation with my

vision and cross training into heavy bulk work once again.

When I tried this for eight weeks of a summer, I managed

to run into metal racks, back into a pallet on the shipping

floor knocking the products over and wearing my nerves

into a frazzle.

 

I need to find a way out of this physically demanding area

without leaving my job. I have a much better salary than

other positions listed in the newspaper and have finally

earned three weeks’ vacation this year. If necessary, as many

have mentioned, my being fired for refusing to go to heavy

bulk may be my ‘release’ to a better solution. There were such

great and positive suggestions from all of you. Thank you.

 

 

If you have had a stressful or awkward situation at work

please feel free to comment and add to the conversation.

 

Anyday Serenity

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There was a great inclusion from a site called, “Girlfriends in God,”

in my monthly church bulletin. I enjoyed this, along with a few other

worthwhile and meaningful quotations.

Hope this finds you peaceful, content and relaxing on this fine morning,

afternoon or evening.

 

You may find their website at:

http://crosswalk.com

http://www.girlfriendsingod.com

 

“Count your blessings instead of your crosses.

Count your gains instead of your losses.

Count your joys instead of your woes.

Count your friends instead of your foes.

Count your smiles instead of your tears.

Count your courage instead of your fears.

Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.

Count your health instead of your wealth.

Count on God instead of yourself.”

 

(You may substitute Allah, Mother Nature or other form of

a Higher Being.)

 

This is a positive way of explaining a horrible experience. . .

I always like when people use pets to explain life’s situations.

 

“~Death~ What a wonderful way to explain it
A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the

examination room and said,

‘Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.’

Very quietly, the doctor replied, ‘I don’t know. . .’

‘You don’t know? You’re a Christian man and don’t know what’s

on the other side?’

 

The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side

came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the

door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager

show of gladness.

 

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, ‘Did you notice my dog?

He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside.

He knew nothing except that his owner (his master) was here, and

when the door opened, he sprang in without fear.

 

I know little of what is on the other side of death. But I do know one

thing. . . I know my Master is there and that is enough.'”

(No author was listed. Please let me know if this is unknown or if you

know a name to tag this with.)

 

C.S. Lewis wrote of many subjects, some were Christian and some were

fantasy/science fiction:

“Every day in a life fills the whole Life

with expectation and memory.”

 

In Psalms 128:5 there is a lovely wish for those to hear. I like the idea of

psalms being songs and positive Old Testament wishes:

“May the Lord continually bless you with human’s blessings

as well as with human joys.”

 

A Prayer by Thomas Merton:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself and the fact that I think that I am

following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in me in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And know that if I do this you will lead me by the the right road

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost

and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never

leave me to face my perils alone.”

 

This prayer by Thomas Merton is featured in his ‘Through the Year”

daily devotional book.

 

Teddy Roosevelt’s Hiding Place

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It is amazing to read another side of a person you may have studied

in Social Studies or in American History classes. Theodore Roosevelt,

Jr. faced horrible losses and a singular joy all in a short period of time.

The pain was so much he needed to get away. He needed to ‘wallow’

in his sorrow and be alone while grieving.

 

“The Light has gone out of my Life.”

 

These words were found in a personal journal, carrying the weight of

true sadness. Theodore Roosevelt’s wife died and in a short amount

of time later, his dear mother died.

 

Both women died in the same house.

Both loved ones died on the same day.

 

The joy was his daughter, Alice Lee.

 

The cause of his wife’s death, as so often happened in the past, was

due to this precious baby. I remember seeing this in movies, in books

and my mother mentioning how common this ‘death during childbirth’

occurred. He was 26 years old, handling the baby by himself. We don’t

hear about the details, except that he chose to escape. His family must

have taken care of baby Alice, while he was gone.

 

“The Elkhorn Ranch” became his place of healing and solitude. This

is place is in North Dakota.

This journey is an incredible story. One where Theodore Roosevelt

sought nature for his grief counseling. This led him to incorporate

the idea of preserving nature into his future plans. Taking care of his

country had not been originally part of his political plans. Teddy

himself said this (paraphrased):

“I would never have been President if not for my experience in

North Dakota.”

Once renewed, he came back to New York and ran for political

offices. . . all leading up to his saving land for National Parks.

 

When the story was mentioned in a brief account on CBS Sunday

Morning, I noted that this story originated from February, 1884. It is

approaching 131 years since Theodore Roosevelt retreated from the

dual deaths, the birth of his daughter and got out of the public eye.

While rustling cattle out West in the Dakotas, he again met death.

Freezing wintertime caused sickness and his herds of cattle died.

 

The image of the sole remaining rock, the only remaining part of

the Elkhorn Ranch’s foundation that is left, was shown. A historian

leaned over the rock, as if studying all of the details of Theodore

Roosevelt’s rocky, rugged path in life.

 

The beautiful miles and acres of land surrounding this place, still

are pristine. The cottonwoods glistening in the sun while shaking and

making a hissing sound captured my attention.

 

But the personal tragedies that Theodore Roosevelt endured is what

really held my interest.

I had to know more. . .

 

As a child, Theodore was a sickly, asthmatic boy. His family was well-

to-do and had him home-schooled. Something in Teddy’s spirit made

him a fighter.  This gut instinct would carry out throughout his life. He

joined athletics, hiked often in the outdoors, and embraced the idea of

trying to strengthen his body.

 

As if he were laughing at the ‘fates’ and was challenging them to a duel,

Teddy wanted to overcome his childhood weakness.

 

Theodore successfully graduated from his home-schooling,

proceeding onward to Harvard for his undergraduate studies.

He successfully went on to Columbia Law School. He met and

married the wealthy Alice, who he lost.

 

Theodore came back from his escape in the Dakotas, having spent

a wild time there. He had ‘licked his wounds,’ found solitude and

regained his determination to make an impact on the country.

There were several steps, you may read about, that led him to

become a politician running for different offices. He rose through

the ranks, showing his acumen for politics.

 

The road to Theodore Roosevelt becoming President was an

interesting political story but I am more interested in his life’s

choices.

 

Again because of a death, President McKinley’s assassination,

Theodore’s path got altered.  Through tragedy he rose to this

place of  leadership, being sworn in shortly after the death.

 

 

Six years later, he met and married his second wife, who he had

five other children with.  His family life is not detailed in the

articles I read, but may be found in historian’s accounts and his

family stories. There are surely many biographies about Theodore

Roosevelt to fill in some of the gaps I have left open.

 

Theodore Roosevelt died at age 60, somehow this makes another

impression on me, one of sadness. I will be 60 this year.

Teddy’s life just seems like it was too short.

I feel his brief life was one filled with great contributions.

One that may be considered “a Force to Reckon with.”

Here’s how he made a difference. . .

~Created the “Rough Riders.”

~Won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize due to his successful negotiations

and mediation between Russia and Japan, ending the war.

~Appointed the first Jewish man to his Cabinet.

~Talked about different races, if they were to be admired or disdained,

he believed each one should be taken individually and considered on

their merit. His open-minded comments sometimes were muffled by

his outspoken, out of context, racist comments. (See what he said

about Indians, for example.)

~Open door policy about Immigration, but again stressed that

the individuals needed to become American and respect the

country that became their own, leaving behind the country they

left.

~Created “Square Deal” and its unique way of political thinking.

~Went on safaris where the hunted animals were made part of

the Smithsonian Museum’s exhibits. Some have not been as sure

that this was a scientific or worthwhile project. These days, it may

be ‘frowned upon,’ by animal protective league members and

preservationists.

~Spoke out and acted for Conservation and Preservation.

~Directly responsible for Congress approving Eight National

Parks.

~”30 million National Parks and Forests” are his unspoken legacy.

(This high number was mentioned in the news essay, I am wondering

if this is meant to include international park numbers influenced

by his great works.)

 

The above interpretation of Theodore Roosevelt’s life

was written by Robin O. Cochran, (1/6/15).

 

 

Two famous quotations by

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. :

1.  “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do

is the right thing.

The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

 

2.  “Courage is not having the strength to go on,

it is going on when you don’t have the strength.”

 

Nature thoughts:

 

“Between every two pines

is a doorway to a new world.”

John Muir.

 

“The wonder is that we can see these trees

and not wonder more.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

“Plant trees.”

J. Sterling Morton.

 

A book to read, newly written:

“The Art of Stillness,” by travel writer Pico Iyer.

It highlights a wide variety of people, including

famous rock stars, artists and ‘thinkers’ who have

found solace in solitude. It also features yoga,

meditation and how being ‘still’ can lead to

success.

“By slowing down and sitting still one can

spark creativity and even adventure,”

“Men’s Health,” January,2015  issue.

 

 

Comparison: 2 Survival Movies

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My family likes to discuss and analyze movies after we watch them.

There are two fine movies we watched where the theme was survival.

Both movies have been given critical acclaim and awards. They have

outstanding casts and performances. One is about man against the

sea while the other one is astronauts against the odds, up in Space.

My brothers, particularly, are science-oriented, while I am more into

character development and overall “impressions” or “feelings.” I liked

both of these movies, for different reasons. We agreed the following

movies are worth your time, if you have not already seen them:

 

1.  2013’s “All Is Lost,” with Robert Redford,  playing a man who has

decided to embark on an ocean adventure aboard a boat. It is directed

by J.C. Chandor, who also wrote the intensely fascinating screenplay.

This story is about a veteran and resourceful sailor lost at sea, in the

Indian Ocean, when the movie opens.

Having been a member of Mariner Scouts, co-ed sailing experiences

aboard sailboats on Lake Erie, I know I would not be fully prepared

for being stranded on a lake; let alone the barrage of challenges the

man is faced with in this film.

In most cases, the mariner (R. R.) is able to cope. For example, when

the boat fills up with water, he can use a hand operated pump to get

the water out of the boat. When he wishes to find his location, due

to loss of radio waves, he is forced to use a hand-held sexton. I was

amazed when I looked this navigational instrument up to find how

old this was. Before 1757, the sextant was built differently and was

called an ‘octant.’ Both devices use the angles of the sun’s position

to figure out location. It has to due with comparing two locations,

one can be ‘celestial’ and using the level of the water or the horizon,

as the other ‘fixed’ location. When the character is able to find a ‘busy

section of the ocean,’ which means it is a thoroughfare for water

vehicles, I am amazed.  But I believe this is possible due to his vast

knowledge about the sea. This is called ‘the shipping lanes’ in the

water of the ocean. He compares and measures them, using a map.

He is able to naviagate this way, which they show him carefully

calculating this procedure.

 

I don’t want to let you know any further details about this movie,

since you may sometime spend a few hours watching this great

actor, showing his ability to literally carry out many of the physical

tasks presented to him, as a strong, older man. Along with “carrying”

the whole movie on his shoulders, as an actor. My youngest brother

took it home from my Mom’s house, (where both brothers, Mom

and I had watched this) so that he could view this one more time.

This expresses something impressive to me. It means it was such a

powerful story, it captivated his interest enough to see it twice in one

weekend.  He will help ‘weigh in’ on the next movie’s review, too.

 

2.  2013’s “Gravity,” with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney

playing two astronauts with different levels of experience, while

out on a space shuttle proceeding through what was supposed to

be a routine journey.

This movie was co-written by and directed by Alfonso Cuaron. It is

“billed” as a science fiction thriller, but many scenes seem very real

and believable. The astronauts who watched the private screening,

were pleased, overall, with the emotions and the beautiful filmography.

They may have seen some imperfections and mentioned them, along

with flaws in the details. They probably were thrilled to have been

asked along for the ride, since there were not many complaints among

them.

My brothers both had a few times asked to ‘stop the movie,’ to rewind

along with discuss something that seemed to be ‘far-fetched.’ They

really felt the scene where the debris was flying at the astronauts,

shuold have sent them to hide behind the sturdy Hubble spacecraft.

Also, one brother felt that Matt (George Clooney’s character) should

have not been using up his extra energy and jet packs by ‘playing’

and ‘tooling around the stratosphere.’ He is often characterized as

an easy going character, this is true once again in the action movie,

“Gravity.” He has the qualities of ‘laid back’ and confident astronaut

definitely ‘down pat.’ Matt is senior officer and experienced veteran

while Sandra Bullock’s character, Ryan is on her first mission. She is

the medical engineer. There were ‘holes’ in her choices, not showing

a strong ability to think ‘outside the box,’ nor being aware of her

surroundings. (She passes some wires that are giving off sparks,

but doesn’t think about potential fire danger. I gave a sharp intake

of breath, with a strong premonition when she did this. It was very

apparent to me; so not sure why Ryan doesn’t notice them.)

There are a lot of loopholes in “Gravity’s” plot. Which if I mentioned

all of them then you may not be surprised when they occur. If you

are like I am, you prefer to hear a short synapsis and not be given too

many plot devices. I am sure that this would not be a good review if I

let you know too much ahead of time. Nor will I reveal the endings of

either movie I am talking about.

 

Summary of Mom’s and My Opinion on Both Movies:

The way Mom and I are, we were enthralled by the way Earth and

Space looked. The much played comment by Matt (George Clooney)

in movie trailers was (paraphrased), “Enjoy the view.” This would

be our strongest reason to suggest you see, “Gravity.” It is why people

leaving theaters would be so excited. There are many positives that

outweigh the negatives.

When Mom and I watch movies, it takes a major upset to get us

to give up on a movie. We would have probably let the problems

within the scientific and technical realm, ‘go.’

We sometimes sit together, leaning against each other or holding

hands. The excitement and danger in both “All Is Lost” and “Gravity”

seemed quite realistic. We held on tight in several parts of the man

facing eminent death upon the sea and when the astronauts kept

drifting away from secure holds on their positions. Both movies tell

engrossing stories, gripping and holding your attention.

 

We felt when “Gravity” was finished, (Mom and I) one must suspend

your disbelief and enjoy the adventure of the movie.

When we concluded our discussion about “All Is Lost,” we felt this

could have represented a real person’s experiences. At the end, we

wished we could learn his name. It seemed totally believable, which

makes this movie almost like you could be able to read an autobiography

of this man.

 

 

 

100 Pieces of Paul Simon’s Life

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Celebrating 50 years of performing, writing and contributing to our

mental psyche, Paul Simon recently spent three hours, 180 minutes,

to help elaborate for a new exhibit at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall

of Fame. There will be a small piece of this exhibit shown at the

Cuyahoga Community College (CCC), sponsored by the R and R Hall.

Paul Simon was inaugurated into the R & R Hall of Fame when he

was part of the duo of Simon and Garfunkel, then later he was doubly

awarded, as a solo artist of majestic proportions.

The curator/archivist, Karen Herman said Paul Simon was very

generous with his time, completely answering the interview questions

expanding on them and allowing the entire tape to be included in the

new exhibit.

What will you see there?

Here are several of the 100 new items that interested me and captured

my imagination:

1. A 1957 hand written letter from Art Garfunkel to Paul Simon, while

he was away at summer camp. Who out there knew they were friends

from such a young age? There is a postmarked envelope and personal

letter with messages in Art’s young handwriting to his friend. This life-

long friendship was ‘news’ to me. I knew they collaborated and sang

together as Simon and Garfunkel, but did not know they both attended

prep school and were close through all these years.

2. The first guitar that Paul ever owned. This is an acoustical guitar

made by “Stadium.”

3. The lyrics written in his own hand of his best-selling song, “The Boxer.”

The CCC has many other parts of the special exhibit about the writing of

this famous song. There was an interesting ‘tid bit’ that when Paul was

writing the song, he inserted the vocal bridge of, “Lie-la-lie” originally

and fully intending to substitute using words, adding them later. Once

he completed the passage, it ‘stuck,’ remaining in the song.  Paul left

the song as is, after practicing with Art and going ahead with recording

the bridge within the song. (I am wondering, is this how we got that

‘riff’ or ‘bridge’ in the song, Mrs. Robinson, that goes “Coo, coo, ka chu?”)

4. Photographs abound in the exhibit. Personal ones, like his sweet but

serious face as a toddler in 1943.

5. Did you know Paul had enrolled as a DRAMA student (not Music!)

at the Queen’s College in New York City, NY? I studied this photograph

of Paul’s college sophomore year, picturing him as a dramatic actor,

seeing him as one who may have made Robert DeNiro or Dustin Hoffman

envious.

6. I have more than 3 two-sided 45 records, including Sound of Silence,

Only Living Boy in New York, Cecilia, Bridge over Troubled Water, The

Boxer and Mrs. Robinson. The only one on exhibit at the R & R Hall of

Fame is, “Me and Julio Down by the School Yard.”

I ponder donating my 45’s… naw!

7. Paul’s Grammy Records, all are on display. Donated to the R & R

instead of having them collect dust on shelves or be displayed in his

home set of cases.

7. The notes, handwritten on a notepad with the lyrics and sound

development for his album, “Graceland.” In this interview, Paul gave

us insight into his own personal writing style. He always writes his

songs music first. This surprised me, when Paul shared this processing

information of songwriting. I pictured his writing his lyrics first. They

are so poetic and meaningful, one could then imagine trying to place

the piano or instrumentals into the pieces. He also shared that he does

not always put his ‘best material’ into the first line of his songs. He feels

it is important to ‘build the drama and meaning’ as the song progresses.

By the way, Paul Simon’s unique musical combination of South African

and Zulu-Western, along with including Zydeco and Tex-Mex sound

influences, made his album an international success. The voices of many

friends appear on tracks in this album, including the Everly Brothers

on the title track, “Graceland.”

Female singing artist, Linda Ronstadt, performed with Paul Simon in

the lovely song, “Under African Skies.” The controversy behind this

album brought attention to our united stand against apartheid with him.

 

 

The part of the installation of Paul Simon’s body of musical artistry

which will travel, is going from major city to city. This will come to

museums and other public viewing areas, which will include an

admission charge, going back towards the Cleveland’s upkeep of their

entire building that embodies almost all genres of music, which have

had influences on each level, including rock and roll. There are so

many international exhibits, which I would recommend taking more

than one day to view. Paul Simon’s exhibit alone is considered to

need half an hour to 45 minutes to listen and absorb the information

given. As far as the CCC exhibit, Songwriters and musicians may be

happy to study the details of one song, “The Boxer.” There are images

of New York, the tickets for performances, the notes and personal

memorabilia attached to this iconic legend of a man, Paul Simon.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit will cover 1500 square feet.

 

 

Patriots’ Day: Solidarity

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There is a quotation being volleyed about called, “The Slurry Walls of Life.” I

received it twice now. Once, from someone far away, but a U.S. citizen, and the

second time I read this was in our September church newsletter. Neither time

was an author given credit. This upsets me, almost like I am ‘pirating’ someone’s

thoughts. If you happen to see this, with an author attached, please let me know!

I hope these words will hold something meaningful to give to you,  a few days

ahead of  the actual Patriots’ Day.  This quote comes exactly as I received it, no

editing or changes made.

 

I think on the actual day of 9/11/14, I will be silent. . .

 

“As horrific as 9/11 was, it could’ve been even worse if not for a 30 year old

engineering feat. Reaching some 70 feet underground, a 3 foot thick concrete

structure called a ‘slurry wall’ surrounded the base of the World Trade Center

complex. Designed to prevent the Hudson River from flooding the basement,

this wall prevented New York’s subway system from flooding and countless

additional people from dying on September 11, 2001.

 

A ‘slurry wall’ is constructed by pouring a thick, goopy mixture of powdered

clay and water into a deep, narrow trench. The solution coats the sides,

preventing water and soil from collapsing the trench. Pipes are then inserted

through the slurry, and concrete is pumped into the trench, pushing the slurry

up and out.

 

At the World Trade Center, the concrete formed such a strong wall that even

two airplanes and the falling towers didn’t fracture it. Part of the ‘slurry wall’

stands at the 9/11 Memorial site, a symbol of resilience.

 

Sometimes God uses life’s ‘slurry’ to make us stronger than we ever thought

possible. We might wish something yucky hadn’t happened- – until we discover

it was part of what sustained us, making us resilient and enabling us to rise out

of the destruction and death to an awe-inspiring new life.”

(Author Unknown)

 

This much I could research, that the original ‘slurry walls’ construction, under

the World Trade Center, were supervised by a man named, Arturo Lamberto

Ressi di Cervia. This building supervisor passed away at age 72 in August, 2013.

He lived almost 12 years past that day of sadness, to see this job become the

base of the Memorial. The construction workers need to feel satisfaction in their

awesome work on the ‘slurry walls.’

 

Arturo Lamberto Ressi di Cervia’s professional crew poured the walls of support

that survived the crashes. Construction supervisor, Mr. di Cervia, must have

felt a little better that his workers’ wall held back further destruction and may

have prevented more deaths.  Although, it is nearly impossible to be proud of

your accomplishments, in the midst of death and sorrow.  Acknowledgment

to the crew only seems ‘right’ to do, as to ALL the workers who came to the

rescue of the ones injured, helping to unbury the living and the ones who died

on this horrific day. Rescue dogs wore themselves out, helping to find so many

‘buried’ people.

 

There is a fine article (not containing the above quotation) from a man named,

David W. Dunlap, written about the construction of the ‘slurry walls.’ Dunlap’s

article was published on 9/11/13/ in the New York Times:

“Looking to a Wall that Limited the Devastation of the World Trade Center.”

 

A Sentimental Scottish Tale

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The Bagpiper

(in his own words, anonymously written)

As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently, I was asked by a funeral

director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had

no family nor friends, so the service was to be at a paupers’ cemetery.

This was in the hills and back country.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and being typical

man, didn’t stop for directions.

I finally arrived, an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently

gone. The hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only diggers and

a crew left. They were sitting under a tree eating lunch.

I felt badly and apologized for being late. I went to the side of the

grave and looked down. The vault lid was in place. I didn’t know what

else to do, so I started to play.

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around.

I played my heart out. I gave it my best performance filled with my soul.

I’ve never played before for a homeless person, but my imagination gave

me a picture of this lost person, lonely and afraid.

As I played, “Amazing Grace,” for my final song, the workers shed a few

tears. We tend to be an emotional country, here in Scotland. Funerals are

serious business.

We were all weeping together.

When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for the car.

Though my head hung down low, my heart was filled with joy.

As I opened the car door to my car, I overheard one of the older workers, who

may have been a little deaf. He was not whispering, but using a rather loud

voice. . .

“I’ve never seen nothing like that before and I’ve been putting septic tanks in

for twenty years.”