Robert Moses won.
Wars happen because politicians everywhere fail to do their jobs properly. We failed to choose better leaders.
Many young people enlist in the armed services because they have no other prospects. We failed to give them opportunities.
Too many veterans who did great service for the rest of us are living in despair after having been abandoned by leadership that brought them home broken and crippled. We failed to keep promises that were made to them.
Parades and statues aren’t enough.
45 years ago today, unarmed students who’d been protesting Nixon’s escalation of the Vietnam War were fired upon by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University. Four students were killed, nine were injured. Two of the dead had been crossing the campus to their next classes, dozens of feet away.
The state’s governor had fearfully compared the protesters to Nazis, Communists, and the Klan, calling them “un-American,” “the worst type of people that we harbor in America,” and declared “we’re up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled.”
Today’s Conservatives are far more skilled at blaming the victim for their cowardly, incompetent behavior.
May the Fourth be with you.
A swift recovery from today’s dentist visit to fill two cavities. To my surprise, it was the least-unpleasant such procedure I’ve ever undergone. By far.
I traditionally have a swift and specific reaction to the effects of novocaine: equal parts panic and nausea. But today was the first time I had my own music available on headphones for the duration.
After skipping through some plaintive Radiohead and introspective R.E.M., I realized what I really needed was the post-modernist accompaniment of a previous decade’s high melodrama. Cue Alexander Courage’s 1965 soundtrack for—what else?—Star Trek‘s second pilot episode.
It worked better than I’d hoped. Space-opera suspense functioned amazingly well to satirize the sight of a masked, lab-coated professional leaning in to mutilate, then repair a tiny portion of my deadened head. Thanks to the serendipitous timing of two practitioners separated by almost half a century (and possibly half a planet), I found I had to work hard to not bust out laughing at least twice during the procedure, and entirely forgot to feel either panic or nausea once the music pitched up into the danger, mystery, and terror of old-style action-adventure network television. Even the arch dialog associated with some of the musical cues worked to my advantage.
I try very hard to make other people laugh when circumstances permit. Today I found a way to do that for myself, the ability for which I’m grateful to every actor or comedian I’ve ever admired or tried to emulate.
It’s been a couple of days since my smarter half had the opportunity to briefly interview the incomparable Alan Alda for her employer. I was happy to assist with the nominal tech necessary to capture audio of the conversation. The interview went well, and he graciously gave her double the fifteen minutes she’d been promised.
I could barely contain my glee, skulking in the next room while trying to overhear the back-and-forth. To say I am enormously proud of her ability and erudite charm is to fall short of the reality.
A link to the interview itself will be appended here once it’s up.
UPDATE: And here it is.
My immigrant mother didn’t understand Halloween, and so I wasn’t raised to participate in it. She hated the full evening of apartment-doorbell noise, and I mostly lost out on experiencing a bit of kid socialization. I bought into her irritation because I had no idea what I was missing.
Too many years later, I realized it was kind of fun to roll some dice and pretend to be someone else in a game for a few hours. Then, even more years later, I realized I got an even bigger kick out of dressing up and pretending to be someone else onstage for a couple of hours.
Don’t waste your kids’ time filling them full of your bullshit.
I was nine. The space program was a reason for me to have optimism about the crazy, chaotic world I’d been born into. It encouraged my interest in science and the future. A huge national effort of engineering and planning devoted to something other than someone else’s idiotic war.
This was the reason America had been founded. This was what we were supposed to be about: solving enormous technical problems, striving to reach places we’d never seen, hoping to learn things about the universe. Nothing to do with killing millions of people over ancient bullshit land grabs.
I watch “From the Earth to the Moon” every two or three years. For several hours I revel in the memory of a time when I was part of a culture that took pride in accomplishing things that bettered all our lives—not just those of a few billionaires.
And then the final episode’s end title leaves me crying uncontrollably for the end of my wonderful space program, and for the end of my optimism. I grieve for both in a way I never have for any human being.