Monthly Archives: March 2009

“The Day You Were Born, All the Flowers Bloomed”


“…and nightingales sang around the baptismal font.” Today, which as it dawns dresses the fields in new colors, we have the mañanitas, and De colores, and many videos.

Our friend César Chávez, one of the very greatest of all Americans, was born March 31, 1927. He lived to be 66, but he would be 82 today. It is so like him to have been born in spring. Axé, César.



Filed under Movement, Songs

Regin Dahl

Regin Dahl died in Copenhagen on this day in 2007. His life marked several.

Tín er degningur
handan líkdampsins flókar.

Dit er morgengryet
hinsides ligdunstens tåger.

Yours is the daybreak
beyond the corpse-reek’s mists.

His father is on a stamp and I would be curious to know more about this man than is known.

When we visited we would eat lamb and speak of the islands further north.

I know the poem quoted here does not truly fit the present circumstance. And yet it does.

Dit er morgengryet. Yours is the daybreak. Morgenens ro.


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Filed under Poetry, Songs

Letters One Might Write

Dear visiting colleague, I place you far above my head and if you ask me for a letter I will pour out my brain. I so wish we could recruit or retain you or any people so sane and active as yourself. –Yours very truly, PZ.

Dear former colleague, if we could cover expenses and you could fit it into your schedule, might you consider giving a talk here in exchange for a truly great time that will musically blow your mind? You have become the person we are waiting for.

I am nobody to speak on matters so exalted. Yet it is true what they say, your work is “cutting edge.” It also fits perfectly with the purposes of our program, although my own research interests motivate me to invite you now. –Yours very truly, PZ.

This week I wrote both of these letters, being the person Reeducation claimed lacked “humility” and “honesty.” –Yours as ever, PZ.



Filed under Banes

Glenn David Andrews

It is the weekend, so we must sing. This is Glen David Andrews. This block of Decatur Street is a little like Fisherman’s Wharf or Disneyland, but he is not at all.



Filed under Songs

Baba Ghanoush

This baba ganoush is really good and note — you do not need a blender to make baba ghanoush. I had always thought you did, forgetting that blenders are new and baba ghanoush, old.


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Filed under Arts

On Abuse and Addiction


I think one of my students is on drugs.  It is the only thing that would explain her erratic behavior and the mysterious reasons given for it.

I recognize her behavior because I had mysterious problems too — mysterious because I did not understand them or their cause — as a result of my abusive relationship with Reeducation and therefore with myself.

I have been saying things are wonderful lately but it is only because I have flashes of brilliance. For a long time I thought I had lost access to these entirely. I have had Reeducation removed, but some days I still have its habits.


In retrospect I realize that I undertook Reeducation to learn how to handle family alcoholism, although I did not realize at the time that that was my precise purpose. I only knew there was something seriously wrong with me. I had long planned to see someone about it once I was well enough established in life to be able to pay for this.

One day I told Reeducation in passing that I had seen a wonderful set by a famous jazz band. That is how Reeducation discovered that living in New Orleans and not yet having acquired friends who shared my musical interests, I was going out by myself. With some thought I had developed a modus operandi to do this without getting hit on. Imitating some incredibly cool, older Black men I had seen, I would choose a tiny table with only one chair, order club soda, tip very well, close my face, and leave after the first set. This worked very well. You could work up until the 10 PM news, go out, see one set, and be home in plenty of time to be at work early the next day.

Reeducation could not believe it. At my age and station I should be getting drunk, staying out until all hours, and picking up men in hopes of getting pregnant. I was incredulous that so great a degree of self destruction should be considered typical. At that time in my life I had not yet met anyone who would come up with a program like that.


Now, however, I have encountered such people and I understand much more. I have strong reactions to such people, reactions I am studying.

Example A

Just before last Hallowe’en I met through a consulting job a woman who wanted me to go with her to hear music in New Orleans. Now, I will drive to New Orleans on a whim. But to go from Maringuoin at night with a virtually random person, to wander randomly in the French Quarter, seemed odd. I had an informal party to go to, involving some mutual acquaintances, and I said look, I am not going all the way to New Orleans, at night, with someone I don’t know, but you’re welcome to come to the party.

She did and the experience was chaotic and draining, although I could not define why — it was just a feeling. There was a strange aura about her. Having no particular commitment to her, I just cut her out of my phone lists. In retrospect I realize that she was an alcoholic and I had known it. The main pieces of evidence was that while she claimed to be looking for friends, it was quite clear that in reality she was only seeking drinking partners. The indirect piece of evidence was how on edge I felt — enough so that when later that weekend I encountered some other people who were differently invasive and who I now know are their own alcoholic environment, I felt myself bare my teeth: “don’t you even try, I have had enough already, push me any further and I will absolutely bury you.”

Example B

Early in the Mardi Gras season I actually did go to New Orleans with a relatively new friend. She is related to the “differently invasive” described above but on the surface does not resemble them. I felt drained in a way I did not understand, but in the same was as I had after meeting the Hallowe’en woman described above. After that I did not see a great deal of her, but weeks into Lent, when I did, I realized that she, too, was an alcoholic and understood why I had found her to be so draining. And as luck would have it, I ran into our mutual friends later that weekend. Once again they began pushing on boundaries, telling me in this case that I should be more tolerant of their friend. Once again I found myself virtually baring my teeth at them, willing to do whatever I could to prevent them from making me feel guilty enough about having perceived the drinking problem that I would admit that the real problem was that I had perceived it.


It is my understanding that in science, if you repeat an experiment and get the same results, you can say there is a pattern. You can hypothesize that there is a real phenomenon out there — that you are not just imagining it, not just wishing it. You can therefore begin to analyze and interpret it.

And some postmodernists say the scientific method is oppressive. Reeducation said intellectual activity alienated one from reality. I have always found the opposite.

I also find it interesting that abusive people want you to mistrust your intellect, and overestimate the power of your imagination and will. What you observed is wrong, but those bruises, for example, are there because you imagined them into being.



Filed under Banes, Resources, Theories

21st Century

Are you used to writing of the twentieth century in the past tense yet? I mean, using was instead of has been? Are you used to the idea that we are now standing outside the twentieth century?



Filed under Questions