Sunday, November 16, 2008

Forest fires make for beautiful, if eerie sunrises

A Beverly Center wannabee (that's the nicest way I can put it) threw her cigarette into the street, oblivious to the connection with the grey pinkish-orange skies overhead. I almost ran into the street to pick it up and chase into the Starbucks after her.
We're in some sort of 21st century Pompeii. The sky this afternoon was even worse; over 40 miles away from the fires. I can't even get to the beach to breath.... the air is sinister.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Nov 4, 2008, 6:14 am

The poll workers were still setting up a tape for the lines that were projected to occur-- and I was first in line!

There were three young pollworkers and two older pollworkers scrambling to get ready.

Luckily, the lights from the the interior of the beauty shop meant I could read while I was waiting, and the canopy was overhead to protect me from the showers that never materialized. At 6:18, the next voter in line appeared behind me as the flags were being hung outside the polling place.

And then there were three.

At 6:32 there were four-- and more arriving, searching in vain for parking. The sole Anglo present was the poll captain. At 6:35 my downstairs neighbor arrived with two others in tow, and a fellow who was lost trying to find his polling place down the street.

At 6:59 the number four bus slowed down and stopped as the bus driver looked over the line (my polling station was in the middle of the block), then he continued on his way.

As the poll opened, the line already snaked to the corner at Wilton Place.

"Inch bessek," I greeted Andy, the poll worker just inside the door (his name sticker indicated he spoke Armenian). He only was startled for a split second; in this 'hood, anybody is likely to speak any language. At 7:14, I was joking with my downstairs neighbor still in line as I left. The sun came out and it looked glorious.

Not until I got on the bus did I realized that Esperanza, the nervous adult poll worker, had forgotten to give me my ballot stub--only my I Voted sticker. So I went back and got that sucker! The downside was, our polling place didn't get any of the ballots with the date printed on them... there was nothing to indicate that it was from this election at all. But I'll know. I'll have to keep it with my official sample ballot.

I went to Groundwork Coffee for my semi-legal (first) free coffee offered to voters today (I'll head over to Starbucks for the other later, when the buzz wears off). The CNN building was running very generic election news on it's electronic ticker sign across the street, as if they were downplaying the historical significance of the day. Mother Nature was providing a show overhead, however, with marvelous swirling clouds begging a photographer to take their picture. If not for a few puddles and the rain-washed windows, you might have never known that it had showered much of the night.

Gee, it feels good to be alive right this moment.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Let America be America Again by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But oportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker, sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt out basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!