Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Must Be the Season

I've been traveling across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana for the past week. On occasion, I pick up a public radio station, and keep in touch with what's going on. Quite a week. The economy stumbles again, then goes all amusement park ride on us, 31 Navy Seals die in one helicopter crash, people become lost and found in the wilderness, a group of Bonnie & Clyde siblings still on an unbridled rampage, thousands more children in what's left of Somalia starve to death. Ironically, this is the month of Ramadan. It's traditionally a month of starving. The images become paradoxically baffling...double difficult to swallow.
The weather continues to baffle. 39 straight days of 3-digit temperatures in the dried to a flaky crust Southwest, and heavy flood runoff still swelling rivers and streams in the Midwest. And in London...fiery outrage about what? Police brutality..unemployment frustration?
Is this what folk/pop singer Donovan called a "Season of the Witch?" Seems like it.

My fellow teachers picked the wrong weekend to march on Washington. Ah but planning anything is always such a crap shoot. Too bad it had to coincide with the debt ceiling fiasco in Congress.
In Montana, I saw many many flags, veterans license plates, and way too many "Private Property" signs. It's still Frontier land, but quite beautiful. There is a wisp of diversity in towns like Missoula and Bozeman. I wanted to ask some of the more conservative, chauvinist/patriots just what they mean when they say that those Americans who have died in Afghanistan are protecting out freedom. How is our freedom related to an unwinable land war in Asia. Where are the lessons of Vietnam when we need them most? If Afghanistan goes the way of Vietnam, we'll be buying carpets in Ikea and Wal-Mart in 10 years and all those who gave their young lives on the supposition that they were protecting our freedom will be forgotten. Freedom to do what? Freedom from what? Oh, I know it sounds good...it sounds morally correct, but is it?
Recently I saw a film on the life of folk singer Phil Ochs. If you don't know the name or the body of work from his tragic 35 years on this planet, then you've got a real treat in store. Ochs once wrote and recorded a song called "Love Me, I'm a Liberal. One of Och's friends interviewed in the film makes the point that if you replace the President's name (L.B. Johnson at the time) with Obama, (or Clinton, Carter) the song is just as accurate and just as relevant today. We vote for one thing and get something else.
Today, after 2000 miles on the road, I arrived back in Portlandia, took a shower, and turned on the news to catch up on the crumbling economy. On CNN, I caught the end of a piece on education. The reporter referred to Obama's Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, as the "top educator" in the country. Top educator is someone who never taught a day in his life.
Washington...we have a problem.
On the last night of my stay with my sister in Bozeman, the sky turned a silvery black and spit out some thunder and lightening.  Ominous end to my attempt to drop out for a week.  In a few minutes, the ever-changing landscape offered up a rainbow.  I ran for my camera.  I've photographed a few rainbows in my time.  Mostly the trout variety.  But this one I really wanted to capture.  Just a reminder...just a reminder that it's not over till it's over.

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