Since I haven’t posted for a couple of days I thought I should today. Eileen and I are spending a few days in Chelsea, Michigan, staying with my brother, Mark, and his wife, Leigh. We arrived Thursday about 1 PM or so. I had planned to duck out and go practice organ at a local church, however I was enjoying visiting with Mark so much I deliberately let the time slide by and didn’t go. I called them at 3:30 to see if I could play a little later than 4 PM the originally agreed upon limit. At 4 PM there is a violin lesson and the church has asked me to stop playing at this time. I was wondering if there was a lesson on Thursday as well as Friday. It seems there was so I didn’t bother going over that day.
I’m feeling pretty good about the scheduled organ music for this weekend so I didn’t mind skipping it Thursday. I did get over on Friday afternoon.
Afterwards, I stopped at a little used book shop in Chelsea called Serendipity Books.
It was a rainy afternoon, a perfect ambiance for a short visit to a used book shop. I managed to find a few books.
I have been reading an ebook of Tales from Earthsea by Urusula K. Le Guin. I found a copy at this shop. It was fun to figure out I’m on page 153 of 280 pages. As the bookstore person said when I confessed I was reading ebooks, when you are reading a real book you can see so clearly where you are in the book, much better than an ebook.
My friend and former teacher Craig Cramer mentioned the fact that Frank Zappa was friends with Nicholas Slominsky, “composer, conductor, and advocate of new music” (from the blurb on the book). Slominsky was not on my radar. I had never heard of him. He sounded interesting. I was delighted to find a book by him at this little shop and snapped it up.
Charles Baxter’s name has gone past me recently. I’m not sure where, but I remember him being referred to as a “writer’s writer.” This little collection of essays looked very interesting. The title essay is very pertinent to our present perilous political situation. He insists that the devaluation of public rhetoric has a direct impact on the art of words. Ain’t it the truf!
Though I have read the big collection of Amiri Baraka’s poems, there are many poems that are not in it. I found Funk Lore on the shelves at my local library in Holland. This morning I read a section that I needed to jot down somewhere to remember. Here’s as good a place as any.
we only live
where the flag
where the air is funky
Inside the hole
in the American soul
that space, that place
empty of democracy
inside burned boundaries
of a wasted symbol
X humans, X slaves, unknown, incorrect
crossed out, multiplying the wealth of others
from The X is Black (Spike Lie)
This is from a longer work called “Incriminating Negrographs” in which Baraka takes Spike Lee to task about his movie about Malcolm X. I haven’t seen the movie but have read about Malcolm X. The “X” is a name taken to show the lack of identity of a slave heritage. This little section reminded me of the book on Slave history I am reading. The lines about the hole in the American soul empty of democracy hit me hard. That’s where we live now.
Jackie Calmes of the Los Angeles Times: Conservative Media and U.S. Politics – Shorenstein Center
“They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing” Conservative Media’s Influence on the Republican Party – Shorenstein Center
This is a link to a pdf of Calmes’ 2015 paper
Two or Three Ideas by Wallace Stevens…. pdf
In his book on the poet Keats Harold Bloom mentions this essay by Stevens.