A Personal Odyssey To The Land Down Under

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September 1, 2012 · Posted in Commentary · Comments Off on A Personal Odyssey To The Land Down Under 

Kron wants to retire to the sheep ranch where he grew up.



A few months shy of my 70th birthday, I pulled my tired body full of aches and pains and the broken hubris associated with a divorce and headed to Australia. My cousin, who has several hundred acres of vineyards in Moama in New South Wales, sent me a ticket.

I felt like I had been spiraling down into an abyss of old age and failing health since the divorce, which left me unsure that I would even be able to deal with the normal travails of modern aircraft travel.

When I panicked because I lost my cell phone, which wouldn’t even be needed until I got back to Los Angeles, a kindly Virgin Australian stewardess took pity on me and found where it had slipped beneath my seat. Perhaps she was not  the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, but healthy and warm and affectionate, and she seemed like an angel to me. After she helped me calm down, she passed by my seat a couple of times later, and her fingers gave me a reassuring touch that felt wonderfully libidinous. Read more

Poems For Labor Day

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September 1, 2012 · Posted in Miscellany · Comments Off on Poems For Labor Day 

 Every Day Is An Act of Resistance: Selected Poems by Carol Tarlen (Mongrel Empire Press) edited by Julia Stein and David Joseph is the  first poetry book by Carol Tarlen, a San Francisco radical poet who died in June 2004. Jack Hirschman in his introduction says that in North Beach in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, Tarlen was writing some of the best poetry around.

Detroit poet Jim Daniels says about Tarlen’s work, “This book is simply a treasure. Carol Tarlen’s poems bring the human and political together in rich, heart-felt ways….”

Janet Zandy says this about Tarlen: “Tough girl, quiet Quaker, brilliant poet, worker for the working-class…. Her luminous poetic voice is large, direct, high-steppin, and justice-driven. Go ahead … read her poetry, teach it to your children.

Julia Stein wrote an obituary/biography, “Death of a Poet,” which was first published in Pemmican and then on the blog caroltarlenlives. If you want more background information about Tarlen’s life, work, and death

The book can be ordered from the Mongrel Empire Press website:






It was, finally, all she wanted

to be alone

in the back conference room

her empty desk mocking

her silent telephone

her supervisor’s anxious face

desperate to delegate

a rush job xeroxing

twenty-three travel vouchers

and their supporting documentation

Read more

Symptoms of U.S. Decline

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September 1, 2012 · Posted in Commentary · Comments Off on Symptoms of U.S. Decline 

Leslie Evans

In his State of the Union address this year President Obama declared, ”Anyone who tells you that America is in decline, or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”


Mitt Romney says the same thing, excepting a few admissions of slippage he feels he can blame on Obama, harping on America’s “exceptionalism” and the supposedly pending new “American Century,” the last one, proclaimed by Time magazine’s founder Henry Luce in 1941, having run a bit shorter than planned.


The counter argument was voiced by Jeff Daniels as the fictional news anchor in HBO’s new series The Newsroom, in a clip widely circulated on YouTube. Asked why America is the greatest country in the world he responds, “It’s not the greatest country in the world. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next twenty-six countries combined, twenty-five of whom are allies.”

Read more


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September 1, 2012 · Posted in Commentary · Comments Off on THE NIGHT THE LITERARY STARS FELL INTO ALIGNMENT 


Samuel Clemens, his star burned brightly in the literary heavens

By Bob Vickrey


Word had spread quickly that a formal dinner scheduled at the Brunswick Hotel in Boston would bring together some of the greatest American literary figures of the day under one roof.


The Boston Daily Globe had leaked the story that among the attending guests would be the distinguished writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes.



Oliver Wendell Holmes, another star of that evening back in 1877

There were also rumors that Samuel Clemens, the most famous writer of the day, might be among the guests attending that evening. Read more

Reflections On The Movie “Hope Springs,” But It Barely Does, Of Course

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September 1, 2012 · Posted in Commentary · Comments Off on Reflections On The Movie “Hope Springs,” But It Barely Does, Of Course 

By Phyl van Ammers


Few seats were empty in the theater that showed Hope Springs, and the film had been showing for a week.   From that evidence I conclude I do not, after all, live among alien beings after all.   The others in the audience could be Tea Party people.   It didn’t matter if they were, although, from what I’ve heard, they are.


I had seen the new Total Recall in the same theater the previous week, and the seats – except for mine – had been empty.  That film grew out of a short story by Philip K. Dick – “We Can Remember It For You.” Blade Runner emerged from Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  A Scanner Darkly is a pharmaceutical exercise.  Critics characterize Philip K. Dick’s writing as science fiction but it can be more accurately described as the inside of a tripping brain: all of it makes me afraid that, when I die, things will be like Hamlet’s soliloquy and that requiescat in pace is a hoax.   Alien beings might enjoy Philip K. Dick movies. Read more

Adventures in the Hinterlands Continue

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September 1, 2012 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comments Off on Adventures in the Hinterlands Continue 

By Honey van Blossom

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste.)
Honey van Blossom

Heat, crickets sawing love songs, hawks, turkey vultures, raccoons, poison oak, the side-blotched lizard, enormous oak trees sculpting a sky the Klein blue at the sun’s zenith and that becomes an improbable violet at nine o’clock in August makes up the first level.


The second level was comprised of the Chupcan (Concord) and the Volvan (Clayton).  Both people spoke Bay Miwok.


Fr. Crespi, who created the narrative for the Spanish colonization of Los Angeles in 1769, passed through here in 1771.  The Spanish soldiers called the area Monte de Diablo, which the Concord history website mistranslates as “devil’s thicket,” but which means of course the devil’s mountain.   The Franciscans brought the Chupcan, and I suppose the Volvan, to the San Jose and San Francisco Missions by 1804.


The third level began in 1828. Don Salvio Pacheco petitioned the Mexican government for lands in the valley and received the “Monte del Diablo” land grant in 1834 to pasture 850 head of horned cattle, a flock of sheep and 30 head of horses.   The 17,921-acre grant covered the valley from the Walnut Creek channel east to the hills and generally from the Mt. Diablo foothills north to the Bay.   The Pacheco Adobe, center of his landholdings, is on Adobe Street in downtown Concord Read more