no pics today, but some stories


Blood pressure still high this morning but beginning to drop. That’s good. I hope I can modify my behavior enough to help stave off high blood pressure for a few years.

In the meantime, I seem to be assailed by scenes of life.

A man with one eye, the other covered by a jaunty eye patch, talks intensely to a woman who is facing surgery. He listens intently to her, attempts to ameliorate her anxiety with his own expansive responses, gesturing. He anticipates her reactions to her surgery. It seems to be based upon his own surgery in which he lost his eye. He doesn’t specifically say that. But it does seem that way. And so the woman’s impending surgery is to the man as much about the his experience as her own future.

I listened to a New Yorker Fiction Podcast of Joyce Carol Oates reading Eudora Welty’s short story, “Where is the Voice Coming From?” Welty wrote this story within twenty four hours of Medgar Evers murder.

It’s an amazing story written in the clear prose of Welty. As is sometimes the case when I listen to these podcasts, I find myself distinguishing between the writer of the story and the reader. Oates has never been someone who interested me as an author. When she said that Flannery O’Connor never wrote in the first person, I thought she was wrong.

I checked it out and it seems she was right. O’Connor’s vivid stories spring to life in my brain containing such unique and bizarre characters that I remembered them as though they had been written in the first person.

Another thing Oates said that inspired me to ponder was that no one in 1963 was reading The New Yorker magazine if they were racists in the south. I thought that was weird. Welty herself was born and died in Mississippi. Flannery O’Connor was born and died in Georgia. Surely they had white racists friends who read the New Yorker occasionally.

The Princeton prof Oates seemed to be falling into the weird stereotype that all bigots were/are southerners and that northerners are more sophisticated and bigotry free.

I’m probably reading into her comments, but it got me thinking about my own early life in the south. As an adult, I realize that I was raised on the white side of town in Greeneville, Tennessee. It took me a while to understand that many of the gentle good people I knew at that time were, in fact, most probably convinced of the supremacy of white people, i.e. racists.

I only remember a few times noticing black people in Greeneville. One time is not so much a memory as an apocryphal family story that when I saw my first black person, I remarked that he was a “chocolate person.” All very cute. Although my memory of this story does not include how the person being talked about by the little white boy reacted.

Another memory (scene) was watching Ralph Waddell, father of my childhood friend, Reggie Waddell, at a Harlem Globetrotter’s game in Greeneville. My Dad had told friends that he knew one of the players on this team, had gone to school with him, I believe. Ralph, a stalwart church leader in Dad’s church, walked over during half-time and stood near where the player Dad had identified was practicing lay ups.

I remember Ralph as natty in the southern way. Bowtie, pressed wool plaid pants, standing with his hands in his pockets near the basketball player. How did he look to the player? It must have been disconcerting to have this white man (whom I now remember had puffy almost childlike cheeks and horn rim glasses) standing there before asking him if he knew Paul Jenkins. I remember the player admitting that he did know Dad in a very few words. This seemed to satisfy Ralph. He, Reggie and I returned to our seats for the game.

Ralph was good man. He might never have read The New Yorker. However, my beloved 2nd Grade Teacher, magically named Mrs. Disney (like the TV show!) may have. I like to think that she did. I think of her as sensitive and intelligent. I seem to remember her as a classic aging southern beauty with age spots showing on an exposed throat.

I’m pretty sure Mrs. Disney was complicit in the racism of the south at the time, the Jim Crow, and other terrible things.

Welty wrote her story the day after Medgar Evans was shot in June 1963. She mentions the Kennedys in it. JFK was to be shot a few months after Evans murder and the publishing of Welty’s thinly disguised fiction.

Shed no tears for Antonin Scalia: Let us not praise the man who gave us Citizens United and Bush v Gore –

I think I’m becoming addicted to the FAIR podcast, Counterspin. I was listening to an old one this morning while cleaning the kitchen. They interviewed the author of this article as a corrective on the dominant media take on Scalia. Worth reading and thinking about.

Violence in Blue | Patrick Ball | Granta Magazine

I have this bookmarked to read. I have found some top notch writing in Granta Magazine and even subscribed to it for a while. Patrick Ball, the author of this article and a statistician, is doing work about gathering information about police violence world wide.

Tensions Simmer as a Small Town Seeks Answers in a Boy’s Killing – The New York Times

Another long read and example of good journalism from the NYT. The story is a fascinating one and is ongoing. The “simmering tensions” in the headline are definitely racial.

Italian Cuisine Worth Going to Prison For – The New York Times

The oddity of a gourmet restaurant in a prison and ran by prisoners.

When the Tide of Islamophobia Reached My Hometown Mosque – The New York Times

A chilling on the ground look at hate in the USA from one of the hated.

Waiter, Where’s Our (Political) Spinach? – The New York Times

We say we want good election reportingr, however we tend to read more about the horse race.

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