Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, May 24, 2003

My family life seems to be heading back to its normal course here on the northern tip of Kentucky…I’ll be grateful for some peace and a regular schedule.
Talking with friends around the country and the occasional mental health care professional it seems the climate of fear so fanned by Washington corporate constituency and the sugary dissembling of their pet news outlets is taking a severe toll among many segments of the population.
One imagines White House imagists are busily spray-painting disinformational memes one a whole new series of Presidential speech backdrops. The anxious American public might want to consider the particular paraphrased advise of a favorite movie Wizard and “pay no attention to that man [in front of] the curtain…”

It has been two weeks since I called Congressman Steny Hoyer’s office about a promise he made to a caller on C-SPAN’s Journal to seek information about the status of Marine Colonel Joe Dowdy.
Colonel Dowdy is the former Commander of 4,000 troops comprising Marine Combat 1. He was removed from command without explanation shortly after the Battle of Kut at the end of the first week of the Iraq II War of alQaeda Distraction on Friday April 4, 2003. No government or news organization has mentioned the status of the Colonel or his family in these many weeks of corporate media focus on “our troops”.
While I certainly don’t hold Congressman Hoyer responsible for the disappearing of the Colonel, I deeply regret the odd lack of candor evidenced by his staff’s failure to reply to my request.
But, then candor might distract from a game plan intent upon greater corporate and political power. According to this morning’s Washington Post story about the elevation of the “telegenic” Paul Bremer over the wacky Jay Garner:

The appointment of…the new head of the U.S. reconstruction effort in Iraq, portrayed by the Bush administration as part of a smoothly running postwar plan, was a hastily arrived-at decision by a White House increasingly worried about collapsing civil order in Iraq…The decision to dispatch Bremer…came after senior White House advisers and President Bush agreed that both the image and reality of the reconstruction effort were flagging, officials said.

US Senator Robert C. Byrd

I, again this morning, emailed Senator Bobby Byrd to express my support for his brave and erudite criticism of the arrogant occupant of the White House.
I would highly recommend Peter Carlson’s feature about Senator Byrd in this morning Washington Post headlined, The Senator Votes Nay.
Three days ago the Senator said this on the Senate floor:

…The American people may have been lured into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation, in violation of long-standing International law, under false premises. There is ample evidence that the horrific events of September 11 have been carefully manipulated to switch public focus from Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda who masterminded the September 11th attacks, to Saddam Hussein who did not. The run up to our invasion of Iraq featured the President and members of his cabinet invoking every frightening image they could conjure, from mushroom clouds, to buried caches of germ warfare, to drones poised to deliver germ laden death in our major cities. We were treated to a heavy dose of overstatement concerning Saddam Hussein's direct threat to our freedoms. The tactic was guaranteed to provoke a sure reaction from a nation still suffering from a combination of post traumatic stress and justifiable anger after the attacks of 911. It was the exploitation of fear. It was a placebo for the anger…We cower in the shadows while false statements proliferate. We accept soft answers and shaky explanations because to demand the truth is hard, or unpopular, or may be politically costly. But, I contend that, through it all, the people know. The American people unfortunately are used to political shading, spin, and the usual chicanery they hear from public officials. They patiently tolerate it up to a point. But there is a line. It may seem to be drawn in invisible ink for a time, but eventually it will appear in dark colors, tinged with anger. When it comes to shedding American blood - - when it comes to wreaking havoc on civilians, on innocent men, women, and children, callous dissembling is not acceptable. Nothing is worth that kind of lie - - not oil, not revenge, not reelection, not somebody's grand pipedream of a democratic domino theory. And mark my words, the calculated intimidation which we see so often of late by the "powers that be" will only keep the loyal opposition quiet for just so long. Because eventually, like it always does, the truth will emerge. And when it does, this house of cards, built of deceit, will fall.

Friday, May 23, 2003
A sudden family crisis has prevented my posting for the last few days. I apologize. I'll be posting soon if only to take up some of the slack left by the vacationing Horse who, I hope, is frolicking with the wife and little horses.
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Today is Primary day in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. If you are a registered resident please take a moment out of your busy day and vote.
I’ve scanned the local channels this morning but I can’t seem to detect a story about the primary buried within the First Forecasts, Birthday wishes and recipes. Our local Clear Channel television station promotes a “news” segment called “Your story” wherein viewers gift-wrap feature story ideas for our tireless (wink, wink) local news team. Perhaps I should have phoned or emailed:

Hi Eyewitness News Team,
My kitty cat loves to drink out of the toilet and would like to watch political news coverage on local television. Could you make her kitty dreams come true by doing stories on toilets and by covering local political events like today’s Kentucky Primary?

As the American media continues its slow implosion, I’ve been watching for stories that have received zero to minimal American press attention.
On Sunday the London Guardian printed a story about the ancient Iraq city of Ur being vandalized by US troops. I’ve been unsuccessfully waiting for the story’s appearance in the American press. In brief, the Guardian says:

One of the greatest wonders of civilization, and probably the world's most ancient structure - the Sumerian city of Ur in southern Iraq - has been vandalized by American soldiers and airmen, according to aid workers in the area. They claim that US forces have spray-painted the remains with graffiti and stolen kiln-baked bricks made millennia ago. As a result, the US military has put the archaeological treasure, which dates back 6,000 years, off-limits to its own troops. Any violations will be punishable in military courts. Land immediately adjacent to Ur has been chosen by the Pentagon for a sprawling airfield and military base. Access is highly selective, screened and subject to military escorts, which - even if agreed - need to be arranged days or weeks in advance and carefully skirt the areas of reported damage. There has been no official response to the allegations of vandalism - reported to The Observer by aid workers and one concerned US officer.

While still on the not-in-US papers-beat, a fascinating report about an ongoing Pentagon project in this morning’s London Guardian contains a word that I’ve not read before, “petabyte”:

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency says in its documents that it is trying to design software that could access and analyze an unprecedented amount of data, ``measured in petabytes.'' In computer jargon, a byte is what it takes electronically to represent one letter of the alphabet. A petabyte is a quadrillion, or 1,000,000,000,000,000, bytes…such an accumulation of data would dwarf most existing databases. One of the largest databases on the Internet is 100 terabytes and contains an archive of five years' worth of Web pages. But that's just a tenth of one petabyte.

Logo Art: WKRC, US Government

Monday, May 19, 2003
I’ve enjoyed ignoring the computer for a day or so.
Every day now the garden is giving up a few beautiful ripe strawberries for brief tours of duty on scoops of Graeter’s vanilla ice cream or hot waffles.
Ah, spring, we’ve hardly known ye. My beautiful phoenix-like rose bush is a riot of blousy rain-tossed blossoms sleepily upstaged by newly bloomed white hosta, a soon-to-bloom daisy variant and some spry looking beginnings to a couple of pumpkin vines. Pumpkin vines in my inner city front yard, though fenced and regularly patrolled, may prove to be one of my all time worst ideas…stay tuned!

A few weeks ago I posted my recipe for Roasted Pepper/Parsnip Soup and I hope I few daring souls attempted it if only for the fun of waiting for the grocery checker to ask of the parsnips, “What’s this?” Anyway, without sidetracking into the shocking vegetable illiteracy of our youth, I would highly recommend revisiting the recipe and eliminating the parsnips to create Cream of Roasted Pepper Soup. Amazingly delicious either hot or chilled and has a beautiful color. The recipe in brief:

Seed and section a Red and Gold Pepper. Drizzle with Olive Oil and a little Sea Salt. Broil until lightly blackened. Cool.
Sauté 1 chopped white Onion in ½ stick of butter. Add 4-5 peeled and chopped Garlic Cloves. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Add 5-6 cups of Chicken Stock and ¼ cup cream and bring to a boil. Remove skins from cooled peppers. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add peppers last 5 minutes. Cool. Process cooled soup in blender.
Heat and/or chill and serve

Fascist, by Michael Sharpe

On the news front I'm hearing more and more people say that they have banned cable TV news from their homes. Several people have told me that just briefly hearing a few well-known cable voices results in “throbbing” headaches. I think we are all going to have a headache before this upcoming election year is over no matter the position of your TV power switch.
My Midwestern health club is a microcosm of America in a hotbed of Bush country. The locker room televisions that I’m unable to switch off have been loudly tuned to FOX for the last several years and political conversations, not personal ones but the loud all-locker-room-can-hear ones, are few and far between. The Club is 140 years old and is largely ruled by tradition and the general consensus of older member opinion. Granted in these days of wild tattooing, body piercing and other particular male adornments one can acquire a wider eyeful of humanity than one may have wanted at 7am on a weekday morning than at any other time in the club’s long history.
A few particular members of known far right ideology have been recently taking loud all-locker-room-can-hear personal exception to some members’ ill-advised personal behavior. One mean little fellow with klannish tendencies has occasionally described his regular visits to the foulest pornographic recesses of the Internet to anyone so unfortunate as to be within hearing distance. He displays a Santorum-like knowledge of the minutia of sexual deviance. I’ve laughed over the years, as I’ve sat in the sauna or lulled in the whirlpool, observing this gentleman stalking some perceived impropriety and have generally written him off as a nut. But, today, he seemed more a dangerously directed kind of a nut and I’m afraid I lost my temper at his likely FOX-inspired all-involving excess.
I entered the club to his loud mid-stride speech demanding access to the computer entry records for the weekend. A friendly club employee met my eye and rolled hers knowing full well that this dude, when dead, will never get a bronze memorial lobby plaque.
As I dressed he, in a neighboring row of lockers, loudly described his weekend discovery of a tryst-like event in the steam room. I say tryst-like because he described only one transgressor and lets just leave it at that. Anyway, our sauna Sherlock suddenly turned Gestapo and described his demands for the offending member’s name and membership card with a great deal of, I’m sure, embroidered bravado and detail of imagined goings on. I noticed that he had one active listener with two other fellows hunched and non-participatory. By now I had finished dressing and was actively eavesdropping. Suddenly, our gentleman oblivious of the wedding ring on many an offender finger, escalated the rhetoric with a sweeping condemnation of all gay people and my personal camel back snapped. I stormed up to him and said, “J--- C--- guy I don’t even know you but I sure as hell know you’re the guy who hates queers. You know a lot of us come in here to work out and relax in quiet. But you seem to take it upon yourself to inform us all occasionally with your great knowledge of perversion. You know what I think, fella? I think you are a little too interested.” His listening friend stormed up and said to me, “All of you people…” I pushed up into his face and said, “What people? What are you accusing me of being?” Sherlock shoves his arm between us as his buddy backs down and says, “Nobodies accusing you of anything.” I said, “Listen, I’m not saying the actions you’ve described are right. I complained to management about this very thing. I just don’t like having to listen to you.” I left to jeers urging a return to “talk” that escalated into accusations of the same complicity I had interrupted except now directed at me. Forgetting my Discman, I returned to the scene of the crime and said to the still hunched men in the locker row, “I’m sorry for yelling but the guy bugs me and you guys are old enough to know Fascist speech when you hear it."
I, for one, am not going to let it go unchallenged.

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