You can’t go home again because, by the time you get there, they will have torn it down in the names of “progress” and “development.” Or, should you find your home, the neighborhood will be gone, especially the most historic homes and buildings that made the place what was.
Looking at Atlanta’s penchant for tearing down the historic old in favor of the nonessential new, the late historian Frankin Garrett called this so-called development “municipal vandalism.” I had the good fortune to know this man who had a great office filled with old reference books at the Atlanta History Center. He had a photographic memory of everything that ever happened in Atlanta, but was the most nostalgic and angry about landmarks that had been wantonly bulldozed for parking garages and new buildings without souls. Atlanta’s city planners learned their craft from General Sherman’s “urban renewal” work there in July of 1864.
When I was in high school, my mother told me my father couldn’t go home again because the natural forests and even the orchards of his youth had all succumbed to development. In many cases, houses–as Peter Seeger would sing about in “Little Boxes”–that were made of ticky tacky and looked all the same. I didn’t really understand what Mother meant until I reached the age my father was when she said it.
I have many memories of one of the first houses I knew as a child in Decatur, Illinois, a wonderful Queen Anne home with a beautiful vegetable garden and adjacent sidewalks which were perfect for my new tricycle. However, municipal vandals bought the land and tore the house down. This current patch of grass, entry drive way, and parking lot represent anti-progress:
My brother, who still lives in Florida and makes occasional trips to Tallahassee, still drives past the house my parents owned between 1954 and 1986. When we closed up the house for good, the front yard was still filled with pine trees. The current owners have decided to celebrate concrete with a few landscaped areas for decoration. Our “personal fifty-acre wood” behind the house has now been converted to an “upscale” subdivision that can be seen from the backyard of this house where I grew up. I’ve seen both via Google Maps, but I haven’t been back since 1986 and that’s just as well, for I would probably destroy all that hardscape with dynamite and a backhoe:
The older I get–and today’s my birthday–the longer my “municipal vandalism” list gets; places I never want to see again because of what people have done to them. My memories are much better than reality. I last saw San Francisco in 1987; I was surprised then by the amount of “development” that had occurred since my family lived there. “Progress” continues to occur, so I’ve retrieved my heart from that my city by the bay and hidden it in a forest that people have yet to “develop” into something that pales when contrasted with Nature’s work. I won’t bore you with my personal list of places where one bastard or another had no sense of history and/or no sense on the environment.
You probably have your own list.
P.S. I set my novels in the past because, in my imagination, it’s still there. The most recent of these is “Lena,” the third novel in my Florida Folk Magic Series.
The match between two of the sport’s biggest stars – with 28 Grand Slam titles between them, plus personalities and marketability which have helped them transcend tennis – was one of the most eye-catching permutations when the Roland Garros draw was made last week.
What a surprise, I’m in a minority on Facebook in that I watch tennis matches, including the one this afternoon between Williams and Gorges. Williams seems to be getting stronger as the tournament goes on, but Sharapova is a tough competitor.
The older I get, the more I favor players who are “ancient” and still playing. Yet, when she entered the French Open, I thought Serena’s chances of winning the whole thing were a long shot. She’d been away a long time. But she looks good so far.
“If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go.
“Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have always. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own.
“And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.”
Major Michael Davis O’Donnell
Listed as KIA February 7, 1978 The Wall-USA
I remember because it’s impossible to forget.
I remember that when Maya Lin’s design for the wall was unveiled in 1981, it generated a lot of controversy for it was nothing like any memorial the public had ever seen. I liked it immediately and was relieved when it wasn’t changed or belittled by the close placement of other statuary. The Vietnam War was nothing like any war the public had ever seen, in part because we saw it on television in our living rooms, tallied successes and failures in body counts, and reacted and ultimately protested when–after initially supporting Hồ Chí Minh’s fight against French colonial rule–the U. S. became in involved in a new North-South civil war that seemed to have no end.
The body count is displayed on this wall and cannot be ignored. The wall was dedicated in 1982 and has, in the years since, become a site that draws people to it, where people see the names of the dead whom they knew and simultaneously see themselves reflected back by the mirror finish of the black granite. The wall currently has 58,318 names on it arranged in calendar order to match their dates of death.
I finally visited the wall last June on a family trip to Washington, D.C. I knew one name on the wall, an old friend from high school. I didn’t trace the name as many people do. I couldn’t. As you can see in the photograph, Mike’s name looked back at me while I was taking the picture. Perhaps, if I read them all, I would find other names I know, but I can’t. My consciousness isn’t deep enough for such knowledge.
Yesterday, a friend of mine began a discussion of the school shooter problem with a measured status update that, rather than looking for simplistic solutions, clearly invited people to look at the culture and the nature of our society that are behind what might be called an epidemic.
While most of those commenting seriously tried to talk about why people with access to guns today are becoming school shooters when young people have, for years in this country, had access to guns (hunting, trap and skeet shouting, informal target practice) and–until recently–didn’t kill their classmates in mass shootings.
Other commenters didn’t like this approach for various reasons centering on beliefs that (a) so-called profiles of school shooters also described a lot of other people who “suffered the same problems” but didn’t become shooters, (b) the solutions–such as get the guns, arm teachers, put metal detectors at school entrances–were clear and, if approved, could be implemented before efforts at understanding today’s youth would get off the ground, (c) psychology is a “soft discipline” that most insurance plans don’t even cover, so how could it possibly be expected to solve what people believe is a law enforcement issue.
Some people said they thought the media–both news and social–helped fuel the problem by inciting copy cat killings, contributing to the so-called easy fix approach through non-stop panels of experts, and by providing a fame of sorts to the shooters. Others speculated that non-stop texting and social media use made today’s youth more isolated while giving them the impression they were tied into a larger whole.
In his “Psychology Today” article “‘Profiling’ School Shooters,” George S. Everly states that While the debate rages on gun control and is not likely to be resolved in the near future, renewed interest in “profiling” those who are at highest risk for committing violence has emerged. However, we must proceed cautiously as no predictive paradigm in behavioral science is perfect, especially “profiling.”
The emphasis here is not, I think, to come up with a formula that predicts who, amongst people suffering similar problems, will be the next shooter. To me, what’s important is considering conditions which appear to have impacted shooters to date and using them not as predictions but as issues to address in schools, families, and perhaps society itself.
Every’s list of primary factors, includes:
Males who were students or former students at the school–that is, they were part of the target school’s population.
Anger and revenge from people who had been bullied or felt they had been treated unfairly.
Individuals who were socially awkward and had few friends.
Media contagion as a motivator to frustrated and angry individuals.
Dysfunctional family situations.
Individuals who expressed frustration/anger through social media posts or some form of “art.”
My list oversimplifies the article, so I encourage you to read it. Whether or not such indicators are within the purview of school counselors is not for me to say. I suspect they are already overworked with a career-choice focus. Parents and parent associations might discuss these in relation to their own children, though we don’t expect a dysfunctional family to have a family meeting and vote to become functional.
Those who think rooms full of youths who are all texting others who aren’t there rather than interacting with those they’re sitting next to certainly have an issue to study. Why do kids do this? Does it isolate them and/or cripple their social skills of dealing with people more directly?
The legality of looking too closely at these indicators might pose problems, such as muzzling a free press, stifling free speech, or the school’s intrusion into emotional issues that parents think belong within the family’s discretion.
As a former journalism teacher, I think there is much the press can do to act with greater caution and restraint in its reporting. “Sitting on a story” for hours and hours during periods when no new information is available not only gives rise to inaccurate reporting and reliance on the opinions/speculations of experts, but ignores other news around the world. For shooters who are looking for their 15 minutes of fame, this endless coverage gives them more fame than they ever dreamt of.
We saw how the Ferguson, Missouri violence was fueled in part by the lies told–and perpetuated by the media–about the Michael Brown shooting by people who claimed to be witnesses who weren’t even there. A lot of violence occurred based on those lies, and even after they were proven false, many people continued to believe them. A network I won’t name was taking phone calls after the Santa Fe, Texas shooting from people that did not appear to have been vetted who claimed to have been there. Were they really there? The network took their comments as gospel, something no good reporter would ever do. In this approach, the network wasn’t a news organization but another cog in the social media spreading viral information that could only incite more incorrect views on causes, and perhaps our next shooting.
Addressing these so-called indicators isn’t a quick fix. Personally, I am more interested in knowing what in society has changed that has allowed/facilitated this epidemic. Some people think “getting the guns” is a quick fix, yet they seem to have no idea that much of the prospective legislation bandied about so far wouldn’t have stopped many of the shooters and/or would be unconstitutional. Trying to repeal or alter the Second Amendment is a process that–even if Congress starts the procedure–would take years and would probably fail. Not a quick fix. Others suggest metal detectors at school doors which, of course, would have to be manned. So far, the costs appear to be higher than school system budgets. Not an easy thing to do even though it seems so obvious.
I don’t have the answer. And, it might be possible that even if we knew exactly what had changed in our society to create this problem, it might include a slough of so many things it would be hard to address. However, what doesn’t help, is intruding into a civilized Facebook post that’s looking for reasoned discussion with a single-quick-fix solution and then slamming those who don’t agree with it.
If this Facebook thread mirrors society as a whole, we’ll never stop the shootings. Meanwhile, as one survivor of the Santa Fe, Texas, shooting said in an interview, “It’s been happening everywhere. I’ve always felt it would eventually happen here too.”
Let’s hope public policy doesn’t become fatalism.
A friend of mine has continued some helpful resources:
A selection of stuff for the blog today because my bad cold makes me too tired to write an exciting post. However, we will be speaking of magic again soon.
The yard is out of control. If you have a yard, you know what this means. My wife and I planned to rein in the unruly grass and encroaching weeds even though we hadn’t yet recovered from our one-week trip with family to Disney World and Universal Studios. But then it rained. Dang, we had to postpone our yard work. Several days ago, somebody didn’t secure the pasture gate and we found our yard full of cattle. Not the first time this has happened. They ate some of the grass before we chased them back into the pasture.
While in the Orlando area, I was lucky to finally meet
my publisher whom I’d worked with on line for quite a while but had never met in real life. Great times at a cool restaurant in Sanford. Her husband, my wife, my brother and my brother’s wife were there as well.
Speaking of my publisher, Melinda will be happy to know that I finally ran out of excuses and have added new scenes to Lena, the upcoming third book in my Florida Folk Magic Series. The series begins with Conjure Woman’s Cat.
NPR wants you to fill Twitter with “your haikus, tankas, limericks and the nonsensical, and we’ll feature some of our favorite bite-sized verses online and on the air.” Learn more here.
FROM MY FACEBOOK AUTHOR’S PAGE: Napoleon Hill’s statement that “Whatever The Mind Can Conceive And Believe, The Mind Can Achieve” separates, I think, those who succeed from those
who don’t–this depends on how one defines “succeed.” Or, as James Allen wrote many hears ago, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” Everything I know about magic can be based upon these and similar statements. Whether one is talking about magic or the processes of daily living, many people limit these statements because they either don’t see that people are more powerful than they know or because both statements force a person to acknowledge his/her responsibility for his/her “lot in life.”
Photo from the trip: Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. There were long lines, of course, but it was fun seeing this re-creation as well as my two granddaughters’ reaction to it. They each bought an interactive wand which, if you used it just right, made things happen in many of the store windows.
When stuff falls on the floor, it (the stuff) clatters. This is what happens when people try to spring forward into daylight savings time when they first wake up. Florida’s trying to stay on daylight savings time. I’d rather see the whole country standardize on standard time instead of the “extra sunshine” nonsense. I love the sound of clocks hitting the floor: doesn’t everyone?
Several days ago, I was convinced spring had arrived. Rain had jump-started this year’s crop of weeds in the yard. The buds on the Japanese Magnolia were about to zap into full bloom. Then we had a hard freeze and flowers everywhere got ruined. Then it rained again. At least we’re not living in East Glacier or Browning, Montana where February was a record snowy month.
Better vision today after going back to the ophthalmologist Wednesday so he could use his lase to get rid of the cloudiness in my right eye and, while I was there, touch up a few missed spots in my left eye.
For reasons unknown, everyone’s eyes glaze over on Facebook whenever I mention I’ve been watching tennis and/or that I’m happy that the Williams sisters won their matches at the tournament in Indian Wells, California. I guess most people don’t like tennis or are unaware that the Williams sisters have dominated women’s tennis for a quarter of a century. I thought I’d mention this in today’s post so your eyes would glaze over, too.
I pre-ordered my Scots language copy of the first book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane. Amazon was proud of itself for saving me 5 cents because pre-orders lock in the price; then they had to apologize for delivering it late. It was supposed to arrive on the 8th and it’s still not here. If th’ book isnae ‘ere by Tuesday, a’m aff tae speil bagpipes in th’ amazon affice.
It’s comfort food week compliments of my wife’s dentist. He extracted a compacted molar several weeks ago. Things seemed to be going well with her gum healing up until the bone spurs appeared. (Think of chewing food with a cactus in your mouth.) So, we were back to the dentist two days ago so he could make another incision and grind down the spurs. That means soft food: mac & cheese, ravioli, ice cream.
I’ve been thinking about Angi Sullins’ comment in the introduction to her book Doorways and Dreams. She (and I agree) doesn’t see real magic as the stuff out of Harry Potter. Instead she says that it’s a “more-ness shimmering behind our everyday reality.” It shimmers in our dreams and meditations and sometimes in things one sees out of the corner of his eye. I figure that has long as it’s there, it’s a practical energy we can use to better understand and create the reality going on around us. If you’ve read my books, you’ve seen how it works.
My trusty spell checker has informed me that “platterings” isn’t a word. Well, it is now, due to an ancient law that if a writer uses a combination of letters intentionally, that combination becomes a word. The word means “the skill and technique of plating and serving foods (or anything else) on a platter.”
This week, I’ve enjoyed reading (re-reading, I think) the original 1818 version of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.” What a heart-breaker, and so much better than any of the film adaptations. I don’t mind the introduction in this 2016 reprint, but have found the annotations to be mostly unnecessary and when they ramble on, quite irritating and superfluous.
The blurring vision in my left eye has been much less blurry ever since undergoing the painless YAT laser procedure several weeks ago. This coming Wednesday, the ophthalmologist will fix the right eye. If things go well, I can not only say goodbye to the blurring vision, but the eyestrain that creeps in after a day with books and the PC.
I seldom know why people suddenly find old posts and start reading them. Lately, it’s been my memory lane post about a former Kellogg’s cereal called Krumbles. It was my favorite cereal when I was growing up; that means that Kellogg’s got rid of it as soon as the company found out I was addicted to it.
Weeds, brought on by evil spirits and/or a lot of rain, suddenly showed up throughout our yard. So, I went to the nearby CITGO station and filled up the gas cans for the mower. You know what happens when you do that: more rain, with minor flooding in various places around Floyd County, Georgia.
When the movie “Picnic” came out while I was in high school, I wondered whether Kim Novak–introduced in that movie–might go to the prom with me and then consider marriage. I thought of her again when my wife and I saw the movie on TV the other night. My wife thinks my long-ago crushes on Novak, Suzanne Pleshette, and Natalie Wood are amusing. I think of them as the ones who got away. <g>
If you buy a lot of books on Amazon, have you signed up for Amazon Smile? When you do, Amazon makes a small donation to the charity of your choice every time you purchase a book. So, my personal reading addiction is helping a nearby horse rescue farm called Sun Kissed Acres. We heard about it when our neighbor across the street went out to look at a horse advertised for sale and found it on death’s door due to lack of even minimal care. He bought it and immediately contacted Sun Kissed Acres where the staff brought the horse back to life and named it “Miracle.”
I hope you discover a few miracles of your own this coming week.
I don’t normally flatter people because some of them, and some who see me doing it, think that flattering is the same as sucking up to. I’m of two minds about that assessment: (1) So what? (2) I don’t care.
Thank you to one of my psychologist friends on Facebook who posted a video about the stigma people face who need psychiatric medications. I won’t mention her name, but you can find more on the subject at The Mighty.
The Olympics and the dedication of the competitors have been an wonderful respite this week from the more distressing news and the polarized political machinations resulting from that news. Many hours of enjoyment here even with sports I don’t usually follow.
My novel Eulalie and Washerwoman has been on sale for 99 cents throughout the weekend thanks to the efforts of my publisher Thomas-Jacob’s promotion of books by every one of its authors this past week. You can learn more about our upcoming sales and new releases by signing up for our newsletter here.
As a writer and a reader, I enjoy the reviews on BookerTalk, the most recent being a look at Muriel Spark’s first novel The Comforters: “She went on to write a further 21, gaining a reputation for blending wit and humour within darker themes of evil and suffering.”
The local tire store for patching and remounting a tire that picked up a nail. The tire was one of four I bought from them within the last six months, but without the expensive hazard insurance.
To the local Publix store that tossed a head of radicchio into my grocery sack for free when neither the cashier nor her supervisor could find it on the cash register display even after I spelled it out.
My ophthalmologist for using a YAG laser capsulotomy procedure to fix the blurry vision in my left eye on Wednesday. The blurriness occurs within a small percentage of those who’ve previously had successful cataract surgery. Now my vision is almost as good as an eagle’s vision. <g>
“If people can’t purchase marijuana or alcohol at the age of 18, why should they be given access to guns? I have had this conversation with my friends too many times. We shouldn’t have to talk about this. This country needs stricter laws to help prevent other kids, like me and my classmates, from ever having to experience this. Words mean nothing. Actions do.”
“These social pathologies are something like strange and gruesome new strains of disease infecting the body social. America has always been a pioneer — only today, it is host not just to problems not just rarely seen in healthy societies — it is pioneering novel social pathologies have never been seen in the modern world outside present-day America, period.”
After every school shooting, we hear about the nation’s outrage. Yet, as the most cynical remind is, after each school shooting, there are no substantive changes. The grim satire in “The Onion” three years ago focuses on where we are in solving this problem: “At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past five years were referring to themselves and their situation as ‘helpless.'”
People have argued for years that the environment in which they are raised is a contributory factor to the actions of criminals and the actions of mentally ill people. Umair Haque’s article suggests that much of the negative stuff we see going on in society today arises out of what might be called a pathological mental health plague. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say. It’s well worth looking into even though the results of “fixing it” will take years and most Americans want quicker solutions.
As I write this, I know that even a “perfect guns and mental health fix” doesn’t address the pattern of shootings, as John Finnegan, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota sees them. Any “fix” is little more than a Band-Ade.
According to Finnegan, as quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, “The response that these young men choose is heavily influenced by our culture. That means we have to focus on creating a culture of abundance and not one of scarcity, where we are trying to keep people away, trying to be exclusive and bully and harass people. It is in that kind of culture where people who do have these mental health challenges may very well find a way, using firearms, to feel that they have some kind of agency in this world.”
As a disclaimer here, I must tell you that I am a pacifist and military conscientious objector and believe that the armed populace that has arisen out of the United States’ culture is a mistake. I do not agree with the prevailing legal interpretation of the Second Amendment. Yet, that is what we have. So I think we must find ways to responsibly limit guns without those limitations causing gun owners to think we are en route to repudiating the Second Amendment.
And, we must stop de-funding other measures that some say will reduce the number of shootings:
Why is school security funding always on the chopping block? Would the Parkland shooter have gotten in the school if there were one access door with a TSA-style security system?
Why is community mental health always on the chopping block? Yes, the shooter in this case had access to care, but he stopped going. Shouldn’t this have raised a red flag? Shouldn’t this have put him into a “can’t buy” gun database?
In the wake of the Parkland shooting in Florida, some have pointed out that if every rule in popularly proposed gun control legislation had been in place, it would not have stopped this shooting. That’s a sobering idea.
Gun control scares all of the legal gun owners in the country because many of them think that every control will chip away at their Constitutional rights until–in time–those rights will disappear. I wish those who advocate gun control (in one form or another) would “reach out” to legal gun owners and to the NRA and say that we must work together to fix this problem. If we don’t, you will ultimately lose all of your rights. Much better to participate in a sane solution.
Gun control comes down to many technical matters, including semi-automatic vs. automatic, velocity of the round, magazine size, stopping power of the round, rate of fire and other issues. The first step seems to be coming to an agreement about which, if any, of these: (a) increase the efficiency of a shooter, and (b) do not substantially impact the legal use of the weapon.
We must agree on terminology. The AR-15 is not an assault rifle even though its design and ammunition have similar technology to the updated versions of the military’s M16. Sure, it looks like the kind of weapon the bad guys are carrying in the latest military thriller movie, but it isn’t used by the military. Perhaps we should talk less about getting rid of the AR-15 and more about reducing magazine capacity and the velocity of the round.
And, perhaps we should talk more about what one must do to purchase such a weapon, including those available at gun shows where standards seem to make them easier to purchase than from a dealer at his store.
I don’t have the answers for this, but I think it’s going to take a coalition of law makers, law enforcement, mental health agencies, and the NRA to arrive at a solution we can live with. What are we waiting for? Polarized debates are not fixing the problem. Sure, we need to look at prospective environmental factors and so-called psychological factors over the long term. Short term, we shouldn’t need another Parkland to start working together instead of making this a liberal vs. conservative debate that leads, once again, to nothing happening.
My contemporary fantasy novel The Sun Singer is free on Kindle today and tomorrow. If you download the book, I hope you enjoy this hero’s journey story about an every-day guy who stumbles into an adjacent universe where he’s pulled into a civil war. If you like the story, you may also be interested in Sarabande, the sequel from Thomas-Jacob Publishing. Sarabande is only $3.99 on Kindle.
I’ve been following the news today about the collision of Amtrak’s Silver Star (service from New York to Miami) in South Carolina early this morning. As of now, there are two fatalities (from the Amtrak train crew) and 116 injuries. It appears at this point that a misaligned switched sent the passenger train onto a track with a parked freight train. This is the third in a recent series of Amtrak incidents and, in addition to the first concern about the dead and injured, it comes at a bad time inasmuch as the current administration wants to cut Amtrak funds rather than expand them.
A Facebook discussion thread today focuses on the problems of people who work at home. Friends, neighbors, and (sometimes) family assume that writers, online college students, and others who are home all day are available at any time to do errands, babysitting, and goodness knows what else at a moment’s notice. Speaking for writers, I have to say that deadlines are deadlines whether you work at home or out of an office. People don’t seem to understand that he work-at-home writer has deadlines from the publisher, conferences, tutoring, articles and other obligations.
I thought when my vision got blurry several years ago that cataract surgery would fix it. And it did. But now things are getting blurry again. My eye doctor tells me that a small percentage of cataract patients develop a film over their eyes that needs to be removed with a LASER procedure. So, on Valentines Day, I’ll be at the local hospital’s outpatient surgical center having another eye thing. I’m sure all of you will send expensive gifts
We’re having spaghetti tonight because it’s easy. I hope you have a wonderful Sunday night supper as well.