A Fire Update

Just a general update on things for friends and family. My neighborhood and family are safe. Ashland, where the Almeda fire began, is safe. The wind has abated but red flag alerts remain.

Gas stations and stores are busy with exhausted, worried out of towners. The Almeda fire started as a grass fire by a BMX park in Ashland but then spread west and north. The initiating source remains under investigation. Pushed by 40MPH plus gusts, the burned through Talent, then lit up and destroyed Phoenix. South Medford was next. The last word that we had, last night, was that the fire was contained. We’re looking for better info.

Meanwhile, spot fires had been going on, threatening other areas of Medford, Central Point, and Eagle Point, to our north and west. Those seem to have been extinguished. Interstate 5 is open in both directions.

Note: a rumor is going around in certain political circles that Black Lives Matter went along Interstate 5 starting fires. They offer no evidence. Police are working to dispel the stories circulating on social media. To me, these rumors increase the evidence of who this people are; at a time when everyone needs help and should come together, they use lies to plant seeds of distrust. There’s the wildfire that needs to be put out.

We’re under a request to limit water due to the water used to fight fires. We remain at Level 1, ready to go. There are other fires burning in Jackson County. Temperatures have dropped today. Locally, we’re expecting highs in the mid-eighties. But the temperatures will then return to the nineties and perhaps over one hundred. While the immediate worst threat has subsided, staying alert and ready is required.

Our air is smoky. I jump to the conclusion that it’s probably from smoldering areas of our fires. The smoke might be from California to the south, or other fires in Oregon up north.

I’m relieved that we survived here, but the losses suffered by others can’t be overstated. The impact on Talent and Phoenix, our neighboring towns, is like what happened to Paradise, California, and we all remember that. Buildings, homes, and possessions are gone. Our resources through government and charity are stretched. Assessments are still being conducted, and the fire monitored for hotspots. Only when the authorities are assured everything is out will the people be allowed to return to their places, make private assessments, and begin rebuilding.

Tuesday’s Theme Music

As the coronavirus, economy, and politics dominate the days in negative ways, I thought of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush performing Peter Gabriel’s quiet and hopeful “Don’t Give Up” (1986).

The song is about struggle, trying, getting beaten, and trying again.

Though I saw it all around
Never thought that I could be affected
Thought that we’d be last to go
It is so strange the way things turn
Drove the night toward my home
The place that I was born, on the lakeside
As daylight broke, I saw the earth
The trees had burned down to the ground

Don’t give up, you still have us
Don’t give up, we don’t need much of anything
Don’t give up, ’cause somewhere there’s a place where we belong

Rest your head, you worry too much
It’s going to be alright
When times get rough, you can fall back on us
Don’t give up, please don’t give up
Got to walk out of here, I can’t take any more
Gonna stand on that bridge, keep my eyes down below
Whatever may come and whatever may go
That river’s flowing, that river’s flowing

h/t to Genius.com

Thought it fit today’s mood well.

 

Saturday: Four Things

There has to be four things today because it’s the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the U.S., right? 

  1. Best fourth of July celebration for me is the first one with my wife. She wasn’t my wife or girlfriend yet. I was fifteen and she was fourteen, and she was just a girl I’d just met a few days before. Yep, just a smart, long-haired girl who captured my attention from the first time I saw her. Fortunately, I had the same impact on her, she claims. Guess it was fate.
  2. I subscribe to the Hulu service with commercial breaks. I don’t like spending money on streaming services. They’re an indulgence, so I try to minimize the cost. I’m watching two shows on Hulu, “Cardinal” and “Justified” (again), so I don’t think it’s worth paying more for it. They’re like an awkward, gamboling puppy with their commercial breaks, erupting in odd points in a scene (butchering the tension or mood). They usually show two or three commercials, and they usually cut off , and then cutting off the last twelve seconds of the final commercial. If I was that advertiser, I’d be demanding better service. My cynical aspect (which occupies about ninety percent of my mind) suggest Hulu does their breaks deliberately to motivate me to pay a few more dollars a month to avoid commercial breaks.
  3. Watched Hamilton on Disney Plus last night. Had the captions on, and it’s a good thing. It’s a continuous flow of life, song, revelations, and relationships, and worth every damn piece of praise that I’ve read or heard. I recommend it to you so you can witness for yourself.
  4. Gonna be a mellow day in spirit. I’m going for a walk in a little while…after I write. A pair of jets did a flyby to mark the moment when the parade would’ve begun but there are no parades in town, although our friend and state rep did a singleton parade. Pam Marsh wears the Statue of Liberty outfit every year, has for years. The mask is new…so is the Black Lives Matter sign…and the coronavirus on a chain… We’ve watched the town parade from her front year for the past ten years. It’s a potluck where everyone attending brings a food or drink. We’ll miss the parade but Pam is carrying the torch for it (yeah, get it?). We’re fortunate to have such an intelligent, energetic, and concerned person as our friend and rep. Did I mention her sense of humor?Pam July 4

Yeah, got my coffee. Yes, it’s a holiday, and it’s time to write like crazy, at least one more time…

Friday’s Theme Music

Cyndi Lauper’s 1986 song (wow, so long ago, in retrospect), “True Colors” gave to mind today as I perused the news.

Everything seems like political news in the U.S. in this era. Trump wants to stop Bolton’s book from being released, using the conflicting reasons, it’s all lies, and it’s all classified, making the book classified lies, which I think would be a good name for a music group. “Classified Lies”. Think they might be a one-hit wonder.

Karens — white women who call the police for calling on Blacks for living while being Black — have been caught showing their true colors, smugly declaring how right they are in hateful tones, demanding that Blacks go back to where they came from or stop what they’re doing, or police! The tactic seems to have been solidly ingrained into their psychic, as they have little fear of using it. Oh, how often when the video exposes their true colors do they sob about how sorry they are, how they didn’t realize. Sure, too late; we see your true colors.

More on the right insist that wearing masks and social distancing doesn’t matter, they want to invoke herd immunity. “The economy,” they scream. Many are ‘pro-lifers’ who also screamed against abortion choice and spread rumors of death panels when the ACA was being debated. Now, the possibility of spreading death doesn’t bother them. Life isn’t so precious as the economy. They’ve shown their true colors.

As protests supporting Black Lives Matter and against police brutality rose and spread, some people spoke up for the police even as video evidence of their abuse and disregard spread. True colors were shown.

Yes, the pressure to stand somewhere and declare yourself often exposes true colors. It’s a good song for Juneteenth, 2020, as we see too many people’s true, ugly colors.

Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg wrote “True Colors”. I didn’t know that until I read it on wikipedia.org. Cyndi Lauper puts a beautiful spin on it. While I mock the true colors of racists and the right wing in the light of current news, the song is an antidote to such trumpshit.

No, “True Colors” is more supportive of the protesters standing for change, because more of us, a majority, are awakening to the wrongs manifested in our names, and are trying to put it right.

You with the sad eyes
Don't be discouraged
Oh I realize
Its hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow

Show me a smile then
Don't be unhappy, can't remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

h/t to Lyrics.com.

Monday’s Theme Music

We had a Black Lives Matter/Defund the Police protest and march in Ashland this weekend. My wife and I didn’t attend; her underlying health issues increase her vulnerability.

But we drove down to check it out. Hundreds attended. It was peaceful. Most — probably ninety-plus percent — were masked but social distancing wasn’t observed, so mixed bag. Holding our breath on that as the case count continues rising in Oregon.

Young and old, Black, White, Asian, and Latino marched. Later, as we talked about it during “Sixty Minutes”, my wife asked, “Why do we need to keep doing this? When will it permanently change?”

Good question, one that stayed with me this morning. The question prompted a recall of a 2007 Foo Fighters song and video, “The Pretender”. Dave Grohl said in interviews that 2007’s political unrest influenced him when he wrote it. Watching the video, well, you see the same themes as in 2020: protests, taking a knee, confronting police, violence escalating.

Big difference exist between now and 2007. Videos emerge almost weekly of police killing people, almost always Blacks, for little provocation. Too many times, it was brushed aside, hidden again and again. But as it’s happened, it’s just become, too much. The expression, “Black Lives Matter”, arose to express the gulf we see as Blacks were killed or had the police called by Whites for being black. The expression, “Being Karen”, became the code for privileged White people who called the police for such a list of shocking reasoning about why Black people weren’t supposed to be there, or why they were a threat.

“The Pretender” speaks to these things. All those things done by the police hat were hidden or protected are being exposed, again, again, and again. That’s the momentum that keeps this wheel spinning, and will until, finally, Black Lives Matter.

Send in your skeletons
Sing as their bones go marching in again

They need you buried deep
The secrets that you keep are at the ready
Are you ready?

I’m finished making sense
Done pleading ignorance, that whole defense

Spinning infinity, boy
The wheel is spinning me
It’s never ending, never ending
Same old story

Friday’s Theme Music

I remembered the Killers’ song, “Human” (2008) this morning. The song has never been a favorite, and its success surprised me. Different tastes, right?

Many were enamored by the line, “Are we human, or are we dancers?” The line evolved from a Hunter Thompson throwaway line about the United States raising a generation of dancers, afraid to step out of line.

The whole thing came back to me as I noted, with some pleasure and approval, that young people were heavily involved in the Black Lives Matters protests. One of the most disheartening parts of protesting in my fifties and sixties was the absence of young people. Didn’t they care? Or were my values so out of step with their values?

Older generations often malign younger generations. My generation, the boomers, were no different. It takes time to filter the world and yourself. Bursts of rebellion against expectations and norms are required and expected, but the way each generation finds to act out and express itself remains different. Social media is the thing now, not taking it to the streets, so the protests are a throwback, old school.

Yeah, rambling. Not sufficient coffee yet to form coherent sentences. Here’s the music. See if you can spot the line (hah!).

Are we human
Or are we dancer?

My sign is vital
My hands are cold

And I’m on my knees
Looking for the answer

Are we human or are we dancer?

[Bridge]
Will your system be alright
When you dream of home tonight?

There is no message we’re receiving
Let me know, is your heart still beating?

h/t Genius.com

That is all.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

So, reading and listening to news reports (“He was only shot three times in the back, not eight, with three shots in his side” — doesn’t change that he was armed only with his cell phone and was in his own backyard), an old Rolling Stones song started streaming through my mind.

The police in New York City
They chased a boy right through the park
In a case of mistaken identity
They put a bullet through his heart

Heartbreakers with your forty four
I wanna tear your world apart
You heart breaker with your forty four
I wanna tear your world apart

h/t Lyricsfreak.com

This song was released in 1973, over forty years ago. Pathetic how little has changed, with police shooting black men for little or no probable cause in America, a trend that’s being carried over to homeowners, who fear fourteen-year-old black boys asking for directions. Sad. Sickening.

Here it is, with the bizarre title “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” by the Rolling Stones, from 1973.

I Can’t / I Can

Meditating and calming is hard today. My heart is with Dallas. My heart is with the people the police killed. My heart is with the officers and family killed by snipers.

I can’t digest the reasons a traffic stop ends in death. “I have a gun. I’m permitted to carry it.” Four shots later, dead. Some witnesses say the shots were fired before the officer finished saying. It’s contested. John Scalzi writes what I think. I can’t imagine, I can imagine, I can remember moments when an officer confronted me, but I never thought about being shot and killed. I’m white and male. It’s a different world for me.

Police are called to a convenience store. A black man is outside. Police arrive, confront him, taser him, wrestle him to the crowd. They see a gun. Bang. The narrative is contested. No one is agreeing about what happened, about what videos showed, about who remembers what.

Black people are being killed for broken tail lights. Shot in the back eight times while running away. Because they’re a threat.

Protests break out. Trials, investigations, inquiries are conducted and almost every time, from small black child with a toy gun to people tasered and on the ground, the results return, “It was justified.” The officer feared…. The officer followed proper procedures….

So, who is surprised? Someone else says, “I’m fucking tired of this. I’m fighting back. I’m taking it to them. See how they like it when they’re shot and killed without provocation, because they’re not the ones who did anything, but the system is rigged and has provoked me to this response.” And they get up there and start shooting at officers.

How many trigger words are in those sentences I wrote that people would contest? Many, many. We ‘know’ more violence isn’t the answer but we ‘know’ that nothing has been changed to protect people from being shot and killed by a good guy, bad guy, or police officer, with a gun. We know fear is rising. Imagine being a police officer right now. Imagine being a black person. Imagine being in Dallas when the shots are fired. Imagine being in a car and reaching for your wallet when shots are fired.

There will be responses. There will be posts like this. There will be prayers and pious statements that our hearts are with the victims, whether they’re officers or citizens, of this rising streak of violent death by guns, as I wrote in my first paragraph, as I, weary of these dire headlines and violence, struggle to understand. The NRA will remain silent. They’ve learned not to speak out at these moments. Bad PR. Others will make foolish statements. Some will challenge and mock, “See, those fucking police officers were good guys with guns.”

Yeah.

Reading the officers’ accounts of going into Orlando after that mass shooting – how many days ago? –  they tell of the darkness and uncertainty in the club, of going through carefully to find the shooter. Add some good guys with guns shooting at what they think is the bad gun with a gun into that charged environment of darkness and uncertainty.

But we know the future. There will be protests. Marches. Calls for change. Petitions. Blog posts. Prayers. Statements. Maybe sit-ins. Gun sales will rise again.

We know the future. Just look to the past. You don’t need to travel far.

Just travel to June.

 

What Doesn’t Matter

Black lives matter.

All kids matter.

All children matter.

All men matter.

All women matter.

All peoples matter.

All actions matter.

All lives matter.

 

All pets matter.

All wolves matter.

All lions matter.

All animals matter.

All plants matter.

All fish matter.

All fowl matters.

All life matters.

 

All air matters.

All water matters.

All lands matter.

All energy matters.

All rights matter.

All freedoms matter.

 

All matters matter.

 

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