November 2017
Vol. VII, No. 300

November 2017

“Klaoudia,” 180 x 360 cm., oil on canvas (www.vangelisrinas.com/en/)

“Klaoudia,” by Vangelis Rinas, 180 x 360 cm., oil on canvas (www.vangelisrinas.com/en/)

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: If the predictions of Dr. Guy McPhersons scienceare borne out in our shared, analog world, 2017 may well be this magazines last year of publication; Homo sapiens last year on a habitable-for-living-beings planet Earth. Thus, our roster of writers leads off, this month, with Guy, and then follows on with essayists whose human hearts and inquisitive minds I have been so honored to make (better) known to you over the past decade. If Guy is here to tell us that our time is fast running out, due to Global Warming, the rest of us are here (still) to embody the dearest and clearest messages of what humankind was all about, at her and his and its best. Helen Noakes, one of the four dual-nationals on our roster, meditates on Immigration and Thanksgiving. Anita Sullivan and Skip Eisiminger look up, in awe, amidst best-loved ones, as Totality occurs overhead. Jean Carroll Nolan celebrates, in prose and poem, that giant of the equine tribe, Barbaro. Diana Farr Louis, in a vivid slice of memoir, writes of the ephemeral glory of human mobility, its diminishment, and the love that then comes as a lasting benison. Ross Konikoff, in a sly tribute to his dancer-wife, writes of his history as a less-than-willing tanguero. Tim Bayer, returning after a long hiatus, shares a dance-themed video. Alexander Billinis opens up and shares a Pandoras box (without any of the bad stuff). Claire Bateman brings us a poem by Nin Andrews. Sensei Jerry Zimmerman suggests an approach to living in even a world where we, and the sequoias, are facing The Sixth Extinction. And Publishing-Editor Elizabeth Boleman-Herring closes out our November offerings with a letter to poet Vassilis Zambaras.

A world we're unequipped to inhabit is upon us.

A world we’re unequipped to inhabit is upon us.

Going Dark

“Your Magic Number,” By Guy McPherson

SAN ANTONIO Belize(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017—Every mentally well person older than twelve knows that everyone dies. Yet, essentially, everyone acts as though the concept of death applies only to non-human animals . . . and to other people. Rather than living with death in mind and, thus, with urgency, we occasionally take an online longevity quiz to comfort ourselves and then go on living as though we’ll make it comfortably to the century mark. A similar mentality afflicts entire cultures. Among the best known societal delusions covered in this space is those climate-change projections indicating that all will be well until 2100. After that, look out! (Read more . . .)

A Greek Thanksgiving Turkey.

A Greek Thanksgiving Turkey.

Waking Point

“Giving Thanks,” By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017—I am an immigrant. Although I became an American Citizen decades ago, I shall, in my heart, always be Greek. And by extension, I look at some of the customs of this country from the periphery Am I so different from other immigrants? I don’t think so. I see newcomers to the United States struggle with the effort to comprehend values and behavior which, from my experience, will always be baffling and sometimes dangerous. And if those Caucasians born here demand assimilation, might I ask why America continues to have St. Patrick’s Day and Columbus Day parades, Chinese New Year and Cinco di Mayo celebrations? Each of these draws immense crowds which consist not only of descendants of the respective cultures they honor but the general public as well. (Read more . . .)

The author and a friend watch the eclipse in a hay field. (Photo: Tim Sullivan) 

The author and a friend watch the eclipse in a hay field.

On The Other Hand

“The Summer of Two Eclipses,” By Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017—Last night, I slipped out the front door shortly after dark to check on the moon. Statistically three days shy of full, the dear orb had entered that phase when it seems to sink into a terminal soporific roundness, as if this time it has truly and finally arrived, like a teenage emperor declaring in full arrogance, “I will never wane again!” The not-quite moon fools me every month; I always think, “Surely tonight it’s full!” when, actually, I’ve missed it by two or three days, either side. But last night’s round-ish moon looked sunken and ghastly, an unhealthy dark orange, not its usual crisp brilliant yellow. The moon is being choked like the rest of us by fires raging virtually unchecked along the forested central mountains of the Pacific Northwest from Canada through Washington and Oregon to the California border, and filling the skies on either side with their residual smoke. On a map, the fires could be a fatal wound gashed across the solar plexus of the world. (Read more . . .)

Lena Fraiser, granddaughter and celestial illustrator.

Lena Fraiser, granddaughter and celestial illustrator.

Skip the B.S.

“Darkness at 14:37 EDT: Eclipse,” By Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017—Halfway through the sun’s projected lifespan of ten billion years, our star still hoards 99.9 percent of everything in the solar system. How a concentration of gas can burn so long and still hold Pluto in its orbit while ripening all the grapes in Concord escapes me. The problem, of course, is mine because the sun and its light do both and much more. Despite its lengthy expenditures, our “yellow dwarf” is still large enough to contain 1.3 million Earths. Indeed, it is this barely conceivable magnitude which accounts for the 4.3 pounds of sunlight striking the Earth each day, the five million neutrinos per second that fly through every square centimeter of the Earth’s surface, and the ninety billion hydrogen bombs exploding at its core every second. However, given that the sun has made only 20 revolutions around the black hole at the center of our galaxy, as stars go, it’s a mere youth. (Read more . . .)

“Barbaro, and Jockey Edgar Prado” (Painting by Robert Clark).

Barbaro, and Jockey Edgar Prado.

More Light

“Barbaro’s Flight,” By Jean Carroll Nolan

SEASIDE California—(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017—Horse racing is an odd sport, comprising in equal parts hard-headed business decisions, abuse and coddling of the four-legged principals, and glorious, epic performances that generate passionate love. I once wrote about the horses who can’t run well, who do not win often enough to, in the eyes of their connections, justify the cost of keeping them, and are therefore sent to slaughter. It is an ugly and horrible business, when viewed through that lens. I know full well that the majority of thoroughbreds do not win, are not legendary, do not garner admiration far and wide, and come to a variety of ends, based on the inclinations of their owners and on sheer luck. A few go to retirement facilities, some retrain as riding horses, some compete in eventing (steeplechase, dressage, horse shows), some, as previously noted, go to a slaughterhouse, to end up as dinner in Japan or Belgium, or as pet food. It is a crap shoot and, since I am a lover of beasties, I am deeply disturbed by the fate I know awaits many of the athletes on any given track on any given day. (Read more . . .)

One of our stupendous beaches reachable only by a disastrous road.

One of our stupendous beaches reachable only by a disastrous road.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“Two Summers To Remember,” By Diana Farr Louis

ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017—For the sake of symmetry, my misfortune should have happened next year, exactly 60 years after the first, the one that would change my destiny. But when this July found me curled up on the Andros sofa instead of slicing the sea like a goggled dolphin, my immobility took me back to Boston in 1958. This time a fall up one of those invisible single steps that often surprise the unwary or perhaps one too many bouncing rides in a jeep on the appalling roads down to our stupendous beaches caused a disk to herniate, trapping a nerve and sending excruciating pain up and down my left side. I could drive but I couldn’t walk; and could barely make it to the loo. I couldn’t stretch out, had to sleep squeezed into a fetal position aided by double doses of Panadol but unaided by anti-inflammatories. And swimming, though prescribed by the doctor, who would soon be off diving in Indonesia, did not help but rather exacerbated the ultrasensitive nerve.  (Read more . . .)

Argentine tango stars Carlos Barrionuevo and Mayte Valdes: the 3-minute love affair.

Argentine tango stars Carlos Barrionuevo and Mayte Valdes: the 3-minute love affair.

West Side Stories

“The Tango Capitulación,By Ross Konikoff

MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017— Right around the mid-20th century mark, the Buffalo Public School System decided to include, as part of its comprehensive physical education program, a course in ballroom dancing. Even at this rudimentary level, I found it terribly embarrassing having to shroud both the inner and outer manifestations that occur when a 13-year-old boy makes his first physical contact with an 13- year-old girl. To make matters worse, our instructor was a former ballroom dance champion, hopelessly embittered after having been abandoned by her longtime partner. Despite her steep 3-month-long descent from National Championship competition at the Hollywood Palladium Ballroom in Los Angeles (with Lester Lanin himself waving the baton) all the way down to teaching pimply-faced teens the Box Step in a suburban Buffalo Middle School, my own dilemma eclipsed hers by a mile. (Read more . . .)

Grandpa dances across the generations.

Grandpa dances across the generations.

Won Over By Reality

“Intergenerational Pas de Deux,” By Tim Bayer

BRIGHTON New York—(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017—Grandparents can connect with grandchildren on some topics but are often worlds apart on others. Dancing is not typically one of the arenas where the generational gap is bridged. However, I have found a video where a grandpa dances across the gap with his granddaughter.  (Read more . . .)

A selection of stamps from my late father’s collection.

A selection of stamps from my late father’s collection.

Roaming East Roman

“The Stamp(s) of History,” By Alexander Billinis

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017—Moving is never easy. It involves a fraying of nerves and, in my case, analog pounds from work and stress; it always costs more than you anticipate. Things get lost, and broken. Sometimes, however, things are also found. During the chaos of my family’s recent move, items lost or forgotten (particularly when, as in our case, we have moved some ten times over the 14 years of our marriage) suddenly (re)-emerged. Not for nothing do I refer to myself as the “Roaming East Roman.” Sometimes, however, things are also found. During the chaos of my family’s recent move, items lost or forgotten (particularly when, as in our case, we have moved some ten times over the 14 years of our marriage) suddenly (re)-emerged. Not for nothing do I refer to myself as the “Roaming East Roman.” As I returned from our new South Carolinian home to finish off the move from our former Chicago home, I wearily opened yet another box, one long sealed, likely from before our eight years in Europe. Unlike Pandora’s box, this one was full of good things. (Read more . . .)

The poet Nin Andrews.

The poet Nin Andrews.

Speculative Friction

“Nin Andrews ‘The Artichoke,’” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017—In a 2008 interview with Nin Andrews, Writers Digests Robert Lee Brewer draws out a marvelous answer from her about a shift in her writing style, when she moved from a focus on the surreal to story-telling: “I tend to do the opposite of what I am told. Write what you know, my first teachers suggested. But I have never been a big fan of reality. Reality feels like sandpaper on my skin. Sometimes I think I would love to escape the everyday world, and just move into the imagination forever. Music, philosophy, dance, poetry, paintingthey all help me do just that. Like good drugs, they offer an alternative to reality. So initially I tried not to write my personal story.  (Read more . . .)

The Lincoln Tunnel: the hour-plus-long stop-and-go Manhattan slug fest.

The Lincoln Tunnel: the hour-plus-long stop-and-go Manhattan slug fest.

Squibs & Blurbs

“Wheels in the Tunnel, Roots in the Ground,” By Jerry Zimmerman

TEANECK New Jersey—(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017—My new role model is a tree. We’ll get to that in a moment. Twice a month I drive from New Jersey through the Lincoln Tunnel into the heart of New York City to teach Aikido. Over the years, this 11-mile trip has devolved from an easy 25-minute lope to an often hour-plus-long stop-and-go Manhattan slug fest. Stalled between my fellow road warriors beneath the Hudson River, my anxiety amps up in direct proportion to my shrinking “on-time window.” Will I be on the mat to lead the warm-up? I feel myself slowly morphing into that old Disney cartoon character, a frustrated Goofy behind the wheel in traffic, teeth gnashing, pinwheels for eyeballs, and black smoke pouring from his ears—I hate this!  (Read more . . .)

Vassilis Zambaras at home in Meligala, Greece. (Photo: Michalis Karagiannis)

Vassilis Zambaras at home in Meligala, Greece.

By Way of Being

“Dear Vassili,By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

LIMBEAU Florida(Weekly Hubris)—November 2017—Dear Vassili, on Facebook recently, you asked me if I’m doing any better; I have to say that, honestly, I’m worse. A month ago, triggered by Hurricane Irma (and storms always take me right back to Kevin’s drowning, I retreated from the world completely. I stopped speaking to anyone but my spouse and my 15-minutes-a-month shrink (all that American health care permits), turned off my ancient flip-phone, and waxed full-bore agoraphobe.  (Read more . . .)

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