Sunday, December 26, 2010

Women Muralists in 1980

I want to share with the muralists at Precita Eyes in the Mission these images from 1980.  Click on the subject line above "Women Muralists in 1980" to see a brief slide show of images women artists painted on the side of the Galleria de la Raza in 1980.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Veterans For Peace

Photographers captured the passion of the die-in staged by Veterans For Peace/Veterans Against War at the U.S. Federal Building in San Francisco on Thursday, 16 December 2010, the bodies of veterans and their supporters blocking doorways.  On the milder side, for a few photos of people, and a review of the wonderful signs at the preliminary demonstration, click on the title above "Veterans For Peace."
In Washington, D.C. (as reported on the Democracy Now website), "an estimated 135 people were arrested outside the White House in an antiwar protest led by the group Veterans for Peace. The protesters were detained after chaining themselves to the White House fence. Iraq War veteran Mike Prysner urged continued civil disobedience to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mike Prysner: "They’re not going to end the wars. And they’re not going to do it because it’s not our government. It’s their government. It’s the government of the rich. It’s the government of Wall Street, of the oil giants, of the defense contractors. It’s their government. And the only language that they understand is shutting down business as usual. And that’s what we’re doing here today, and we’re going to continue to do until these wars are over. We’re going to fight until there’s not one more bomb dropped, not one more bullet fired, not one more soldier coming home in a wheelchair, not one more family slaughtered, not one more day of U.S. imperialism."
"Among those arrested were the Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I joined some friends -- and strangers with signs -- outside the S.F. Federal Building on Seventh Street, San Francisco, waiting to see if the U.S. House would follow the U.S. Senate's approving of giving tax breaks to the rich.  A Homeland Security man found some way to scold us, but we were grateful then to have his vehicle to hold up one of the signs:

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Happy Autumn

December 2010

Happy Autumn: Anthem for an Altar to the Seeming Dead

This year the falling of leaves is a celebration –
swatches in burgundy, amber, umber, yellow,
scarlet – the warm colors of antique tapestries.
These leaf shapes, everyday and ancient, are each
a vowel or word in the deeper text we live.

In this happy time, Sherrill, Michael, the two
Roberts, and the one Bobby – my beloved dead
never truly departed – hunger for reviving speech.
The falling leaves are not notes from the dead.
The only language we share now is in a place
beyond sadness where bright leaves laugh.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Random Thoughts, and Pictures from the Oakland Museum

While too much energy is being absorbed by the issues of establishing civil rights for gay men and lesbians in regard to marriage and service in the military, it may be fully warranted by the positive effect this "distraction" would have on all those more life-threatening issues, by causing one more change in those rigid, strangling defintions that are nonsense venerated only because they are ancient. Any clear mind would see through these unquestioned habits of thought. Even those who mouth those prejudices stumble in trying to make the irrational sound rational. If the state really lived by their definitions of heterosexual marriage, most heterosexual marriages would be declared illegal. According to their definition, men and women only marry to propagate the herd, not for any feelings of intellectual rapport or emotional attachment.

In a negative form of the Golden Rule -- the more common Leaden Rule -- they did Saddam Hussein as he would have done. He understood death by hanging, having known the world as cruel form his birth. The U.S. showed him nothing new while they pretended to be different from him. And via film, the population was able to gather at his gallows as a sick entertainment. Where vengeance rules, the most heinous villain begins to seem pathetic; his conquerors, seem, in their own right (wrong), butchers of the butcher. As my old college mentor used to say in farewell greeting: "Onward and downward."

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Film, "127 Hours," and the book, "The Fall of the US Empire -- And Then What?"

On this New Moon evening...

December 2010

Those involved with the film, “127 Hours (director, Danny Boyle),” must surely receive the honors they deserve. (James Franco was finally given a great and demanding role, and I suppose he was selected as co-host of the next Academy Awards in anticipation of a Best Actor nomination.) The film is a perfect mate to the recent film “Into the Wild (director, Sean Penn),” that many of us felt should have received that year’s Best Picture Oscar.
While meaningful in its own terms (enduring and surviving the most dire circumstances – a portrayal of the incident when hiker Aaron Ralston, his arm pinned down by a fallen boulder, had no choice finally but to cut off his own arm), the film takes on other meanings, some of them epic.
The biographical characters in both “127 Hours” and “Into the Wild,” one surviving, one dying, mature and arrive at the same insight, expressed in their own words, that the “individualism” that is part of the U.S. “faith” is a dead end delusion: Humans survive and thrive because of a blessed interdependence.
Seeing “127 Hours,” while reading Johan Galtung’s “The Fall of the US Empire – And Then What?,” the film became another in the thousands of current phenomena seen, from Galtung’s analysis, as symptoms of the death (we hope) of the American Empire. Aaron’s rash, self-absorbed behavior mirrors the current American collective myth.
While respecting Mr. Galtung’s copyright, which forbids me quoting him at length, I have to believe he would not mind my quoting his Dedication:
“To a country I love, the United States of America: You will swim so much better without that imperial albatross around your neck. Drown it before it drowns you, and let a thousand flowers blossom!”
I hope everyone will read his book – I have not reached the “And Then What?” portion of the book yet, but from what I have read so far I recognize what many know about our current U.S.A., that as the central “faith” of U.S.-as-Empire dies, those on the periphery, losing touch with that foundering center, begin to form coalitions with the others on the periphery in what might possibly be outposts for the possible post-Empire U.S. – The U.S. as a republic, for Mr. Galtung spells out the convincing facts that the U.S. position on the earth is already that of the latest dying empire, with all the conditions of previous dead empires.
Many of us know that the best comes from extragovernmental people-to-people responses to human needs. (I think of organizations like that of friend Gregg Biggs’s World Neighbors – organizations that help the underdeveloped set up microeconomies, etc.)
After the recent election, which seemed to fragment both the political right and the political left, leaving rational and compassionate people with no national leadership, I suggested to Dan Beam in the Crossroads Café that the pockets of progressive compassion and rational planning that exist in many separate places across the “red” and “blue” states might feel less helpless and hopeless (confronted by a bizarre electorate, and feeling under assault) if they reached out to each other and formed a bond and, perhaps, a common vision.
Those at the table came up with various progressive sanctuaries, naming “Austin,” “Boulder,” and probably most university towns. Dan suggested that such a concord of disparate “colonies” be called an archipelago (“a chain or cluster of islands”). For me it would be the Archipelago of Earthumans. A way to feel human solidarity.
I immediately fear that any such construct would become static and moribund in its own way, torn apart by inner dissensions, like all other constructs so I thought the first principle of that archipelago should be a frequent reminder, from Groucho Marx: “I would never belong to any group that would be willing to have me as a member.”
I might hope, however, that with religion being an automatic source of conflict that religious talk be carried on outside, and that those in the archipelago would limit its ethical code to the Golden Rule, an easy touchstone that conveys empathy, compassion, equality, fairness.
The intent is only to imagine or begin to create the post-Empire republic, or to begin to think in non-Empire terms, pan-human terms.
I thought I would ask people to add to the comments on this blog their own list of possible “islands” in the “archipelago,” understanding that sometimes that would be only part of a city, and keeping in mind that any individual in any obscure place in the US who looks forward to an end to Empire-thinking should not be excluded from such an archipelago.
Your sites for such an archipelgo in the Comment sections, please, and then perhaps following this fantasy notion, maybe someone would actually begin to form those links.
Mr. Galtung has been interviewed on several of Amy Goodman’s Democracy now programs, if you go to and search for "Johan Galtung"
or possibly paste this in your search engine: