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October 2018
Vol. VIII, No. 309

October 2018

Clearings In The Woods

Painting by Tomás Sánchez, from his “Door of Perception” series.

Painting by Tomás Sánchez, from his “Door of Perception” series.

Painting by Tomás Sánchez, from his “Door of Perception” series.

Painting by Tomás Sánchez, from his “Door of Perception” series.

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: Autumn is here. Again. Though throughout so much of the world, it is still, interminably, summer,” that now distorted and protracted hot season in the time of global warming; in the time of mega-storms and fires. In the time of our general grief. Nevertheless, columnist Burt Kempner returns to us this October, following a long sabbatical, and opens his monthly parable with a quote from poet Wendell Berry: “Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.” And, despite the facts on the ground, Burt, and the rest of us do wish you joy. Diana Farr Louis, who witnessed so much horror this year when conflagrations consumed the Greek mainland, files an autumnal letter from Andros . . . celebrating the Greeks, her beloved husband, Harilaos, and Maggie Logothetis’ fish cakes. (Bless you, Diana.) Dr. Guy McPherson & Pauline Schneider share a byline here on a column titled Planetary Hospice,” and open with a quote from spiritual activist Stephen Jenkinson: “The meanings of life aren’t inherited. What is inherited is the mandate to make meanings of life by how we live.” Dr. Skip Eisiminger and Honorary Doc Ross Konikoff leaven our offerings with a piece on dontopedology,” and Mike Pences bedtime stories for The Baby in Chief, respectively. Tim Bayer,  back from a cross-country road trip, shares  a musical sequel involving 28 trombones. Claire Bateman features the poetry of Oregonian Eric Simpson, and William A. Balk, Jr. offers up an encomium to The Souths great Prince of Scribes, Pat Conroy.  Elizabeth Boleman-Herring mourns the loss of her friend, Mexican-Mykonian painter Luis Orozco; and Jean Carroll Nolan celebrates late-season (Hell! All-season-) baseball. Helen Noakes surveys the wolf beneath the skin” throughout human history. And we close out our October issue with a reprise of David Christopher Loyas archived column, Apollo 13, The Mission & The Movie.”

Tribal dance in Govi-Altai Province, Mongolia, 2012. (Photo: Karthik Anand/Flickr.)

Tribal dance in Govi-Altai Province, Mongolia, 2012. (Photo: Karthik Anand/Flickr.)

Pinhead Angel

“Hope Triumphant,” By Burt Kempner:

GAINESVILLE Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—A story has come down to us that the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the mystical Jewish sect, the Hasidim, once received word that his people were undergoing great suffering. He made his way into the deep woods to a clearing, built a fire and sang a wondrous chant. Conditions immediately improved for the Jews. Years later, the Baal Shem Tov’s chief disciple received similar news. He called his followers to him. “I don’t know the words to the chant our Master sang, but I do know where the clearing in the woods is and I also know how to build a fire.” He worked with these attenuated tools and the outcome was similarly successful. (Read more . . .)

By evening, the clear sky over Andros was grey-brown with smoke from the fires at Mati.

By evening, the clear sky over Andros was grey-brown with smoke from the fires at Mati.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“The Summer That Came & Went,” By Diana Farr Louis

ANDROS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—“With the first drop of rain the summer was killed.” (Με την πρώτη σταγόνα της βροχής σκοτώθηκε το καλοκαίρι.) This first line of Odysseas Elytis’s poem “Eleni” sums up the essence of summer in Greece. Rain is simply not part of it. We are used to a final thunderstorm in early June and perhaps another around the 15th of August, which is the one that heralds the coming of autumn even though it’s inevitably a false alarm. But what happens when it rains all summer long? Not every day as in Connecticut this year or England most years, but almost every other week, and for days at a time: at the beginning and end of June, at the end of July, and several times in August and in September, too. And not just gentle showers that nourish the plants but torrents that flooded the streets, turned parking lots into marinas, and caused geysers to gush from blocked drains. (Read more . . .)

The late, great Planet Earth.

The late, great Planet Earth.

Going Dark

Planetary Hospice,” By Dr. Guy McPherson & Pauline Schneider

SAN ANTONIO Belize—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—The ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction is driven by abrupt planetary heating at a rate approximately 10 times faster than any prior extinction event on Earth. Emissions of greenhouse gases and the rate of extinction during the Sixth are proceeding at about an order of magnitude faster than during the Great Dying, the worst of the five prior Mass Extinction Events. The Great Dying, which occurred about 250 million years ago, led to the demise of more than 90 percent of the species on Earth within a period of about 900 to about 19,000 years (the virtual absence of multi-cellular life in the wake of the Great Dying, along with the absence of humans, constrains greater precision in estimating the timing of this extinction event). Ultimately, of course, every species goes extinct, just as surely as every living being dies. Ours is the seventh identified species in the genus Homo, and our six known predecessors have already blinked out. (Read more . . .)

Prince Philip asked if Aborigines “still threw spears at each other.”

Prince Philip asked if Aborigines “still threw spears at each other.”

Skip the B.S.

“The Varieties of Dontopedology: Misspeaking,” By Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—On first meeting Lord Taylor, an African-British peer, in the House of Lords, the Queen’s husband inquired, “And what exotic part of the world do you come from?” “Birmingham,” Lord Taylor said in his defense. This “scientific” example of “dyspediora,” also known as foot-in-mouth disease, reminded me of a disturbance in the House of Eisiminger when I was about twelve: Dad was driving Mother and me home from the Gravelly Point complex of government offices in Arlington when I saw a sign at the entrance that read in part “US Corps of Engineers.” “What’s the Corpse of Engineers, Daddy?” I innocently asked. He was no more amused than when I misspelled his rank, “k-e-r-n-e-l,” on a seventh-grade spelling test. I’ve been rehearsing sentences in my head and double-checking my spelling ever since. My parents contributed to my love (and fear) of English in the most roundabout way I can imagine. Dad occasionally told his male friends in the bowling alley of the comely British woman he’d met in a bar during the war who invited him to “Knock me up some time.” (Read more . . .)

In his master’s monstrous shadow. (Cartoon by Daryl Cagle[http://www.cartooningforpeace.org/en/dessinateurs/daryl-cagle/].)

In his master’s monstrous shadow. (Cartoon by Daryl Cagle.)

West Side Stories“The Trump Saga: Part 477,” By Ross Konikoff

MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—Last night, I received a transcript from an unnamed source, relating an incident that took place recently inside the master bedroom of the White House. I thought it prudent to share it only with my closest friends, so please keep this under your hats. This past Sunday night, President Trump asked Mike Pence to come to his room and help calm him before bed. The president, already adorned in his golden pajamas, climbed into bed as Mike pulled up a chair next to his bedside and gazed deeply into the president’s eyes for a full minute before the president finally spoke. “Mike, my little friend, a truly great vice president, really, really great, the best vice president I could dream of. Mike, you little dog you, talk to me! Tell me how loyal you are to me.” Mike helped lower the president’s head down onto his pillow. “I am so blessed to serve you. You’re a god of a man, a man’s man with perfect judgment and wisdom, a man who speaks his mind, a leader of leaders: to gaze upon you is to know love, to be loving and loyal, now and forever.” (Read more . . .)

Bringing it with the brass!

Bringing it with the brass!

Won Over By Reality

“An Impressive Collection of Bones,” By Tim Bayer

BRIGHTON New York(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—The sequel is often not as entertaining as the original; the son not quite so stellar as his father. (This is especially true in regards to movies.) But, for whatever reason, there seem to be a number of musical sequels that are as enjoyable as the originals. One example that immediately springs to mind is the Eagles’ original “Hotel California,” released on December 8, 1976, and followed, in 1994, by “Hotel California, Hell Freezes Over,” from MTV Unplugged. This year, my own short list of excellent musical sequels has been increased by one. The new addition to the list is “Bonehemian Rhapsody,” recorded in 2018 at the International Trombone Festival. (The original, 1975 version, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” is by Queen from their album, A Night At The Opera.”) (Read more . . .)

Eric Simpson.

Eric Simpson.

Speculative Friction

“I Build a Thing & It Never Breaks,” By Eric Simpson

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—Eric Simpson has lived in Berkeley, Kansas City, St. Louis, Lawrence, KS, and numerous other places, but returned to his roots in southern Oregon in 2009, where he now resides. He is the recipient of the Art Kreisman Award for Creative Writing from the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University (June 4, 2015). His writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, In Communion, St. Katherine Review and other publications. My Heart Did Not Break By Eric Simpson:My heart did not break for three decades and then it did and I began to see things from inside out, and the outside lost sheen and dust/Interior worlds, my own hands, tight skin stretched over other tissues, cellular hooks, latticework, hollow wires pulsing cells through carrying pieces of sun to enliven the lifeline on my palm, read by a girl when I was fourteen pretending to be a gypsy or psychic as a romantic fraud for the mutual benefit and promise implicit in the slightest impact of skin on skin, her index finger tracing the spine of my hand, sending chills of pleasure through my entire body, warmth broadening up through my gut to radiate . . . . (Read more . . .)

Signing Our Prince of Scribes.

Signing Our Prince of Scribes.

Epicurus’ Porch

“Thief of Hearts, Prince of Scribes,” By William A. Balk, Jr.

ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—On March fourth, two years ago, the world lost a loquacious, generous, and gifted writer; a troubled soul, who made his life work out of his struggle to overcome his difficulties; a liar who made a great truth from his life. And I lost a friend. When Pat Conroy died, a great many people also lost a friend; I am discovering only now, more than two years after his death, just how wide a swath of deep friendship he plowed. Not all those friends even had met Pat while he lived; now, when I introduce visitors to the new Pat Conroy Literary Center in Beaufort, some who know Pat Conroy only through his books have found themselves unexpectedly weeping, confessing deep dark passages in their own lives—passages only survived, they swear—because of the intervention of Pat Conroy through his books. Some months after Pat’s death, I was approached by Pat’s friend, the editor Jonathan Haupt. I had written a memory of my friend Pat Conroy for this esteemed journal, Weekly Hubris, which had almost coincidentally appeared the day after his death. Jonathan asked if I would submit an adapted version of that essay for inclusion in a collection of memories about Pat to be published by the University of Georgia Press. (Read more . . .)

Luis Orozco, in one of his Mykonian studios.

Luis Orozco, in one of his Mykonian studios.

By Way of Being

“A Half-Century of Seeing with Luis Orozco,” By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—The last time I saw Luis, in 2011, he and his third wife, the East German painter Dorlies Schapitz, were alive and well, holding forth from their last small gallery in Hora, the capital town of Mykonos. Since I was in Greece every year, had been in Greece almost every year since Luis and I met, in 1960, I took it for granted that I would just see Luis . . . “next year,” as I always had. Usually, we avoided good-byes. My husband and I came in late autumn, after the tourists departed, spent several weeks in the company of Luis and Dorlies, had a few memorable evenings at the Lotus Bar, shared a few good late-fall dinners, al fresco, and then melted away without farewells, only to see them again the following year. Then, in 2010, after Luis (and his adopted island) celebrated a half century of his painting on Mykonos, cancer felled Dorlies in a terrible coup de foudre. Her death coincided with Greece’s economic crisis, and Dean and I felt very far away, and helpless, in New Jersey; then, Florida. The exigencies of life, moving, and economic hardship prevented us from returning to Greece after 2011. In my heart, though, I felt it would still, always, be . . . “next year.” When had I not had Luis in my life? (Read more . . .)

“Khrush,” of the Oakland A’s.

“Khrush,” of the Oakland A’s.

More Light

“Baseball is Life,” By Jean Carroll Nolan

SEASIDE California—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—As I write this, on Monday, September 24, the Oakland A’s, my beloved baseball team, sits in second place in the AL West. Their performance in the first bit of their season, like the lot of the policeman in “Pirates of Penzance,” was not an ‘appy one, though signs of life were perceptible in the two or three weeks preceding the All Star Break. The campaign opened in gloomy awareness that we had finished dead last in our division for three disheartening years in a row, and attendance on opening day demonstrated just how discouraged fans had become, registering a dismal 28,000. Baseball people predicted a better outcome than weary, heartsore fans anticipated, although, as is usually true, Oakland had vivid and talented players, flying completely under the radar in this smallest of small markets. Since the break, however, the team has been hot, and today boasts a 94 – 62 record, good only for second against the juggernaut Astros, but still reflecting a .604 winning percentage, and, (please, powers that be), a shot at home field advantage in the wild card battle with the Yankees. (Read more . . .)

Furious roars, monstrous displays.

Furious roars, monstrous displays.

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—In 1816, a young woman on holiday with her husband in Italy accepted a challenge put to her by her famous host. The host, whose celebrity, even by today’s standards, had reached rock-star proportions, was Lord Byron.

Forced indoors by continuing inclement weather, Byron and his guests were plagued by ennui. The inventive poet proposed that he and each of his guests—his doctor, John Polidori, a fellow poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shelley’s wife, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley—write a tale of horror. (Read more . . .)

American greatness.

American greatness.

Renegade Lens™

Apollo 13, The Mission & The Movie (Revisited),” By David Christopher Loya

BURBANK California—(Weekly Hubris)—October 2018—There was a time when America had achieved genuine greatness—greatness that to this day remains unparalleled in this country in terms of substance and achievement. It wasn’t born of cheap slogans woven onto truckers’ caps made in China, and hawked by a grifting, meretricious, carnival barker to unconscious masses desperate for meaning, any meaning, while imprisoned in pockets of rural and suburban desperation. Nor was it a greatness achieved through victory in war. Many may cite the conclusion of World War Two as the apotheosis of American power but, over the course of human history, other nations have claimed the title of the world’s most powerful country. No, though the dynamics of World War Two were in many ways unique, America’s emergence as a dominant power in a major conflict was not. The greatness I speak of remains to this day unmatched; and it came about in the 1960s and early 70s, during an otherwise particularly tumultuous era in American history. (Read more . . .)

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