To Tony, with love, from Buk

A note before I start this: sometime, someday, I will have to dig up, re-key, and post the poem I wrote that was at least partly about the death of Charles Bukowski. (Re-key because the Jaz drive that I saved a lot of my UVA files to is a piece of crap.)

Tony is sounding a little down on his blog tonight. So I channeled Bukowski at him in a comment, which I reprint here in its entirety. Read it, then go give him some love:

I’m not sure that Bukowski never whined. You could, if you were feeling uncharitable, interpret his works as one long cry for help. Or you could do what I think it is you do, and interpret them as a celebration of where he was, and the joy of being able to write, and the perplexity that the rest of life wasn’t that simple. It’s like he says, “you get so alone at times that it just makes sense.”

A toast to Bukowski, who would have known exactly what to do about this war: switch the radio to Mahler, open another bottle of wine or three, and go screw some broad.

And with that, I’m off to sleep.

Washington State in the spotlight

New York Times: “Pacific Northwest keeps watch on many vulnerable points.” In which it is pointed out that a state with 2400 miles of shorefront and a long, forested international border might have a lot to worry about from terrorism, even were it not in the midst of a massive economic crisis that makes adequate staffing of security posts impossible.

Makes me wonder whether the two healthy businesses in town—Microsoft and Starbucks—could find a way to step up and help the private sector.

Keep on marchin’

From the weekend, lots of protest notes around the blogosphere:

  • Esta notes that the riot police had to be called out in Richmond (“Richmond has riot police?”)
  • George notes that the protests in San Francisco didn’t necessarily convince people on the fence (“Graffiti, destruction of public and private property, disruption of traffic, and destroying police cars do not exactly bring me around to their cause.  In addition, it alienates more peaceful protestors who might actually be able to intellectually articulate their point of view”)
  • Tony posts a brilliant photo essay that bridges the Oscars and the pro- and anti-war protests in LA.
  • Jessamyn talks about the disconnect between protestors’ rhetoric (“shut down the town”) and reality (“my electricity and water were still running safely, as was my network connectivity and phone. There were no holes in the walls of my house and my life was in no danger. My family and friends were likewise fairly safe. Food was readily available and inexpensive. I could take a bus to within about eight blocks of my final destination and I like to walk. I had no shopping to do, or businesses to visit, and I feel comfortable among teeming throngs of activists. Shut down? Not to me.”)

Now, a confession. I still haven’t been to a protest. This is probably creeping suburbanism at its worst, but I have this funny feeling. It says I shouldn’t go to a protest unless I’m so sure of my convictions I’m willing to get arrested. And I’m not there yet. But God bless those who are.

Long day, long rehearsals

It’s concert week again, and there are lots of rehearsals all week. The Cascadian Singers are doing an ambitious program of song in the Bellevue Art Museum on Saturday night, called “Doppelgängers,” where the concept is that we alternate between different settings of the same text. I think there are five or six “Doppels” in the concert, most in the first half with liturgical texts around the Byrd Mass for Five Voices (though there are two really cool settings of the Pater noster at the end of the first half, including the most chant-like Stravinsky I’ve ever sung). The concert is also the premiere of the winners of our annual composition contest, including a very cool setting of some Blake poetry and a new setting of the text of “The Silver Swan.”

It’ll be a very cool program and well worth the travel to the east side (hint, hint, all you Seattle bloggers!!).

To get there, though, I have two more long rehearsals. Thank goodness Lisa is out of town this week or she’d be really grumpy with me.

—Except that today I turned down a job as a tenor section lead in a local choir because it would take up too much family time. Does that balance it out? Probably not.


…to Priscilla and Scott, who were married today in Las Vegas. Hope you have a lifetime of joy together.

I wasn’t able to watch the ceremony—I was in meetings all afternoon, went straight from work to rehearsal, and got home after the Internet video stream had expired. But I’m sure the service was more solemn and wonderful than anything in Las Vegas has ever been.

Are you being watched? Secret surveillance on the rise

Washington Post: U.S. Steps Up Secret Surveillance: FBI, Justice Dept. Increase Use of Wiretaps, Records Searches. This is pretty disturbing:

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Justice Department and FBI have dramatically increased the use of two little-known powers that allow authorities to tap telephones, seize bank and telephone records and obtain other information in counterterrorism investigations with no immediate court oversight, according to officials and newly disclosed documents.

The article credits the PATRIOT Act, which loosened restrictions on when these “national security letters” and “emergency foreign intelligence warrants” may be used, for the increase in use of these tactics. With no checks and balances, these powers may be the most immediate threat to civil liberties out there.

Do I exaggerate? I don’t think so. Remember, the secret court that oversees the requests for these warrants has said that the Justice Department isn’t doing a good job of justifying them. And much of the case for war was made with dubious information. Can the Justice Department be trusted to process the information it already has? If not, why should we grant them a blanket right to reach into our bank and telephone records?

Qui custodiet custodies?