White Supremacist Bullshit

Enough with this white supremacist bullshit. White people are not supreme. I know: I’m one and I’m not supreme at all.

It’s long past time we recognize and acknowledge – especially white people in this country – that white supremacy is a greater threat to civilization than Islamic fundamentalism. Both are dangerous for the same reason: they are about to become extinct. And that is a very good thing – even for those whose deepest beliefs will be exposed as delusion.

Just as every person of color has known discrimination and every woman has known sexual harassment, every man has felt the toxic side of masculinity and every white person has felt infected with the disease of white supremacy.

When the next age comes and our ancestors laugh at us the way we laugh at Neanderthals, white men will benefit along with everyone else from a world free of war, poverty, and human injustice. And that makes the fear of those clinging to their privilege so much more pathetic.

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The 20 greatest breakup songs ever – ranked! — Music | The Guardian

On the 40th anniversary of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive topping the charts – and as the UK blunders towards its own acrimonious divorce – here’s the definitive list of tear-stained stonkersHip-hop isn’t big on romantic heartbreak, but this is a particularly fine example. There’s a lot of bragging from Guru about how he’s so…

via The 20 greatest breakup songs ever – ranked! — Music | The Guardian

It’s a nice list – well worth a look and listen – even if it almost criminal to leave off the greatest breakup song ever – Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.”

It was love

It was love. It had to be. What else could excuse such bizarre behavior? He fumbled with his hair, vaguely scratched his scalp, and told himself the same thing over and over: it had to be love.

He turned his key in the lock and braced for the dark emptiness that waited on the other side of the door. His television would do its best to entertain him, as would his computer and an endless supply of music and booze. They would all fail.

How long has it been now? It doesn’t matter. So many people have died, and tons of babies born, since the last time he had tasted all the exotic spices of her love.

He closed his eyes before turning out the light. He couldn’t bear to watch the darkness fall. It would wait – silently, cautiously – for the deepest pit of the night, for him to open his eyes, expand his pupils, and stare into the hungering darkness to ask: If it wasn’t love, what was it?

The Place Where No One Else Goes

I

I went to the place where no one else goes and though it was lonely, that is to be expected. What caught me with my pants down was just how cold emptiness is. So cold I couldn’t tell if I was frozen or burnt or if I just didn’t love all the way anymore.

II

There were echoes so faint that they might have been the laughter of children who didn’t know why, or the cries of the desperate who didn’t know how. There were shadows that disappeared in the light and others that were lost in the dark. There were shadows that were thrown by emptiness.

III

Prisons with bars are the simplest kind.
At least you know what you are up against
Wars with dead bodies make some kind of sense, at least to themselves.
I promised myself
That if I ever
Make my way out of the place where no one else goes
I will do the one thing that I need to do

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Creatures of Habit

Indulgence becomes habit
Habit becomes lifestyle
Lifestyle becomes life
Dirty mind and clean hands
and the other way around
bring more trouble to the world
than creatures of other habits.

You know I hate when we’re fighting
I know you hate it too.
Sometimes it takes a tight grip on the rope
just to keep us alive

Habit becomes routine
Routine becomes rut
Rut becomes excuse for behavior unbecoming and unwittingly
playing into the dirty hands of dirty minds

Please don’t throw that word at me
I will try to listen with more skill
When we both talk, nobody hears,
nobody says a thing worth hearing

Silence becomes escape
Escape becomes habit
Habit becomes ritual
Ritual becomes religion

Excuses become explanations
Explanations become justifications
Justifications become hope
Hope becomes belief
Belief becomes memory
Memory becomes habit
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Uncle Kurt

Of all the people in the world who I don’t know personally, there is no person who has had a more profound and long-lasting impact on me than the author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. His novel Slaughterhouse Five is one of the first novels I read and whenever I am asked to name my favorite book it is the first one that comes to mind. I found it, or it found me, at the time in my life when I was changing from a dependent boy to an independent man. I was becoming many things – atheist, pacifist, vegetarian, musician, writer, lover, pothead, drunk, and left-winger – that I still am today, more or less.

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The latest addition to the Vonnegut library, and one them I am up to my eyeballs in, is called Letters. It is a fascinating glimpse into a life deeply marked by tragedy and humor. His mother committed suicide while he was home on leave before being shipped off to fight in the second world war, where he would become a POW. The thoughts he shares about these incidents with those closest to him, as well as reflections on his marriage, fatherhood, divorce, depression, infidelity, professional accomplishments, and the deaths of those he loves, including himself, make for reading as satisfying as his novels.

My understanding is that I am so odd emotionally and socially that I had better live alone for the rest of my days. During my last years with Jan, there was a formless anger in me which I could deal with only in solitude. Jane did not like it. There is no reason why she should. Nobody likes it. What is it? Well – if I had to guess, I would say that it was caused by a combination of bad chemicals in my bloodstream and the fact that my mother committed suicide. I have finally dealt with that suicide, by the way, in the book I just finished. My mother appears briefly at the end, but keeps her distance – because she is embarrassed by the suicide. And so she should be.

The great appeal of Vonnegut’s writing goes beyond his direct style that reads like a letter from an intimate friend. The simplicity of his humanist message, like Christ’s, makes the truth impossible to deny: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Christ’s came with the promise of heaven; Kurt’s did not.

I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of reward or punishment after I’m dead.

Kurt Vonnegut, like me, was a white man. People who aren’t white, and a lot of us who are, want to hear new stories from other perspectives. Fair enough. We have hogged the cultural conversation for centuries. But the greatest artists in any field illuminate eternal truths that transcend gender, nationality, “race”/culture, sexuality, income level, and age. Finding and sharing those universal truths is the artist’s only job.

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One of those truths is the great equalizer, Death. Kurt died in 2007, and left this thought behind for the end of his days:

If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: ‘The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.

If, instead of carving messages in stone at the end of our lives, we were given little gold plaques at the beginning, with a message for the lives ahead of us, this one from Uncle Kurt might be a good place to start:

Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’

The Sins of the Sky

The long angry light that nobody asked for
throws shadows across all the delicate hopes
of the dreamers and children and adamant losers
who hold all their cards much too close to their vests

The boats that are pushing the barges upriver
never stop for the fishes or catching their breath
they cry for the mountains and seethe at the trees
while quietly ignoring the sins of the sky

The rain that stopped falling by judicial Order
has pooled at our ankles and elbows and knees
while we learn the new dance of evaporation
and pray for the mercy of a blinding disease

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