O the dragons are gonna fly tonight

17 07 2014


I understand the difference between unintentionally and intentionally killing someone, I do.

I understand that Hamas fires off rockets with the intention of killing Israelis, military & civilian alike, and I understand that the Israeli Defense Force fires missiles into Gaza with the intention of killing Hamas fighters, and in so doing, unintentionally kills civilians.

I get it: the purposes are not the same.


When you are aware that your intentional actions will lead to large numbers of unintentional deaths, well, then it’s hard to see how much that lack of intention matters to the unintentionally dead, or to the families of the unintentionally dead.

Or to those of us witnessing the bodies of the unintentionally dead.


If the Malaysian airliner was shot down unintentionally, accidentally, does that make it okay?


I understand, really I do, the thinking behind the statement that Hamas are responsible for the civilian dead in Gaza: were they not to insist upon firing rockets into Israel, it would not be necessary for Israel to fire missiles into Gaza.

But the fact remains: Israel fires missiles into Gaza.

The fact remains: Israelis missiles killed those boys on the beach.


You may argue, if you wish, both that Israel is morally responsible in its attempts to limit civilian casualties and that Hamas is completely responsible for civilian casualties.

You may argue that, if you wish.

But if Israel is not responsible, then how is it responsible?


I don’t know what I would do, how I would think, if I lived in Tel Aviv, Gaza, Hebron, or Jerusalem, if it were me, transplanted from my junior one-bedroom in Brooklyn to an apartment in Israel or the Occupied Territories.

If it were me, would I call those territories occupied, which they are, or would I call them Palestine, which is what some want them to become?

(Judea & Samaria? No: it is still me.)

How would I understand Israelis, Palestinians? the soldiers, the militants, the terrorists? the politicians? the underpaid academics, the cafe-goers and olive farmers and scientists and tour guides and those for whom the land is their home, their everything?

The kids, the families, anyone at a beach in July: that I understand.


From where I sit, in my junior one-bedroom in Brooklyn, it is clear: this must stop!

But of course. How obvious is that observation. How useless it is.

How many people disagree, by agreeing to its extremes; who seek for it to continue, without end, until it all can be finally ended.

Who don’t care what it takes to get to that final end, how much and how many will be destroyed.


All is quiet on New Year’s Day

1 01 2014

I know how to leave.

A job, a city, a relationship: I can book it with a handshake, a grin, a fare-thee-well, and I’m gone.

I also know how to deal with the run-up. I like rehearsals and planning and while packing is an enormous pain in the tuchus, I’m pretty good with the clearing out and stashing away.

All of this is to say is that I prefer the eves to the day (and not just because I’m a night person). It is the time before that I’m accustomed to, and the anticipation that I enjoy. I’m not bothered by endings—I know everything ends—and, against much of my own agoniste sensibilities, I take the view “it’s done; let’s go”.

Beginnings, on the other hand, I’m not so great at. You’d think that I can end because I know what comes next, but the coming-next is the burden, not the gift, of the ending.

New Year’s Eve? So long and farewell. New Year’s Day?

Oh shit, another year.

But let us take a more poetic look at the back and the forth; from Agha Shahid Ali’s A Fate’s Brief Memoir:


There between the planets the cobwebs thicken
Depart now. Spiders look for my heart lest
I forget the final wreck of all that’s human.

Farewell—and if thou livest or diest!
What poverty lets death exert its affluence?
The earth will receive you, poor honored guest,

and I minding my threadbare subsistence—
poor host who could offer you nothing. What brocades
spun from gasps I tear to polish our instruments. . .

threads searchlit, the universe dazzled, burnished blades. . .
Feel a new sun pounding—Dear Heart, this once!
See the famished sighs I’ll lock into braids.

Don’t forget this sight when by desolate chance
from your breath Belovéd! this evening fades.

The thrill is gone

6 01 2013

Bones should have ended awhile ago.

No, this isn’t a complaint about the eighth season—it’s like the seventh season, fine, not like the wretched sixth—but more an observation about exhaustion.

The show is tired, and that tiredness shows. The writers are practically shouting that Angela is going to leave the Jeffersonian, and the whole Cam-Aristoo thing? Hmpf.

The main problem, of course, is that Booth and Brennan have settled into domesticity with one another, and as much work-chemistry as the two had in the first five seasons, they have no home-chemistry. In fact, their lack of a home fire burning is dampening their work-mojo.

(No, I don’t hate that they’re a couple, although I would have preferred that they not be. I also think it would have been better, from a dramatic perspective, if they wanted to go with the whole Brennan-Booth-baby thing, to have had them either tried and failed to make a go as a couple, or have tried simply to figure out how to raise their kid together without the two of them getting together. But, y’know, they didn’t ask me.)

I still like all of the characters, and the plots, hey, the plots are fine, but the frisson has fizzled. There was an unpredictability in the early seasons, an unpredictability predicated in large part of the audience’s ignorance of the characters. As we got to know them, we settled into a kind of comfort with them, which is in and of itself not necessarily a problem.

But it did become one for the writers. Whereas before there was a sense of what if with the characters—a what-ifness heightened by or illuminated by the plots—now there is only a kind of here-we-go-again sensibility, i.e., the comfort with the characters’ quirks has deliquesced into laziness.

It was, I think, in reaction to the comfort that wrecked season 6:  the plots frantically tried to zap some zip back into the characters, so much so that I, as a viewer, thought, Shit, they’d never do that.

Consider the interns on an improvement kick: Clark tried to be more open, and Fischer attempted to find peace and happiness. Now, I’m not against change—trying to do a bit of that, m’self—but these attempts came out of nowhere and, more importantly, went nowhere.

And Brennan, well, Brennan they twisted around most of all, having her go back to patterns she’d dropped in the first or second season, upping her coldness factor and downplaying the curiosity that always took the edge off her clinical approach, and, worst of all, treating her emotions less as a dimension of herself with which she was not wholly comfortable than as something which occurred outside of her, afflicting her.

Example? There was an episode late in season six which involved a runaway deaf girl murder suspect. (Yeah, I know, but that’s part of the territory of police procedurals.) Brennan is just nasty to this girl, nasty in a way that she rarely was with any other suspect, and certainly more than she had ever been to any troubled kid. It took Sweets to remind Brennan of her own fraught childhood—something which never would have been necessary in the preceding (or succeeding) seasons.

Anyway, it seems in the current and last season that the producers figured out how they erred in season six, and returned us to the comfort the show had attained in season five. Clark is back to uptight, Fischer is back to dour, and while I still miss Vincent Nigel-Murray, the crew is complete.

Alas, completeness is the death of drama.

I still watch Bones, and will watch through to the end of the season. I just hope that this is the last.

Listen to the music: Can’t stop the music

21 10 2012

C. told me to rip all of my cds before I got rid of them. If I got rid of them.

I don’t know that I would.

I understand the reason—it’s the same reason that I’m filing away the bibliographic info on all of the printed out scholarly articles I’m going to toss: don’t lose what you have—but there’s something. . . satisfying about an irrevocable purge.

I had tapes of my favorite albums, but I didn’t rush to tape everything else before I got rid of my vinyl. (And I got rid of almost all of my tapes when I left for Montreal.) No, my attitude was what’s done is done, and no use hangin’ on just to hang on. No point in fetishizing the past.

I do that, fetishize objects—most obviously, my books. It’s damned near impossible not to imbue objects which deliver meaning with meaning themselves, and as long as the deliveries retain that meaning, I”m not too worried about my affection for the objects. But when the possession itself becomes the point, well, that’s when I need to rethink matters.

There were a few people who tried to talk me out of getting rid of the albums, certain that I was throwing away irreplaceable treasure (i.e., vinyl), but as I told them: I have a shitty stereo system and I hate it when the needle skips, and I see no particular worth in having to turn the album over after 20 or 25 minutes. Besides, I didn’t really listen to this stuff anymore.

That was the real reason to get rid of the albums: These were singers and groups I’d listened to since I started collecting albums, and my tastes had changed. There were a few albums that I replaced with cds—by Rickie Lee Jones, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, B52’s, Violent Femmes— but most of them? Nope. Done. Goodbye.

I don’t regret it.

Of course, if I really wanted to, I could find clips of those bygone songs online, but I’m fine with leaving them all behind. When something ends, it’s good to let it end.

I had a moment, in some cases, a long moment, with those albums, and those moments don’t matter any less just because they’re over. This is something to which I am slowly reconciling myself, that something can happen for the time being, and that being in time may be enough, may have to be enough.

I don’t know whether this particular musical moment is over—that’s the purpose of this listen-through, to find out—but if I’m no longer moved, there’s no point in pretending otherwise.

But I’d like it not to be. I’d like still to be moved.


Listened to thus far:

  1. *Joe Acker, The Times and Places of Love
  2. Afro Celt Sound System, Volume 2: Release
  3. Air, Moon Safari
  4. Air, 10,000 Hz Legend
  5. Akufen, My Way
  6. Luther Allison, Blue Streak
  7. Altan, The Blue Idol
  8. Tori Amos, Under the Pink
  9. Tori Amos, Strange Little Girls

*Joe was one of the aforementioned downstairs neighbors who decided to shed the jewel cases. He and his wife Tara were great neighbors, early on kindly letting me use their shower when mine went on the fritz. We got to know one another hanging out in the yard with their amazing dog Gracie, and then hanging out in their apartment. They gave me a key to their place so I could take Gracie out during the day or let her out at night if they were getting home late. We lost track of one another some time after they moved out—last I heard, Tara was pregnant with their first kid—but they remain one of my few good memories of Somerville.

And yes, the cd is nice, too. Joe and Tara (who was learning mandolin) were deeply interested in Americana music, and invited me to listen in when they invited friends-with-strings over to play old-timey tunes, but the cd hews closer to the singer/songwriter folk/rock style, which well-display Joe’s meticulous guitar skills and honey-warm voice.