One Tiny Fish and the Confederate Flag

It seems no matter how much I try to keep my blogs and podcasts light and easy, life at times insists I make them heavy duty.

I am watching a small blue fish less than two inches long struggle for breath. “Blue Boy,” as I have come to call him, had survived an injured tail fin from a previous mishap. Now I watch him flipping that broken fin, struggling to move. To a fish, movement is life, and I feel the same way. If I ever stop moving, I will die. 

I have witnessed this struggle before in the small water world that I am god over. This little environment needs me to keep it ecologically safe and the lives that dwell there alive. They depend on me, and when something goes wrong, it is my failure. They didn’t screw it up, their lord—I—did. Unlike us humans, they don’t have a choice.

As I watch this small life fading, Chloe Cat comes to my feet and meows. It’s dinner time, and she needs clean water, fresh food, a warm place to sleep, and lots of love. Chloe, like my past furry four-legged friends, will only be in my world for a short time, and ours is the only world she knows. It is absolutely unconditional that I make her precious life as safe and happy as I can. I wonder why we can’t always feel the same about our fellow human travelers in this short life span we are given.

I spent a lot of time in battles today I knew I couldn’t win. I have a god-awful habit of doing that. I’m still swinging at windmills and trying to send fast balls into the bleachers.  As I watched, a small fish struggled for air, took one last breath, one fin still attempting to swim, then he died. I wondered why I spent such intellectual capital fighting that battle. Someday I’ll struggle for my own last breath.

My family dates so far back into southern ancestry and aristocracy that if you do a search of the name Sanders during the Civil War, you’ll find the books and bloody ground are littered with it, and yes, it is part of my blood line. I was born in Fort Sanders Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee. My dad was from South Carolina, and my mom, a Cherokee, was born in the mountains of Tennessee and oppressed just as much as African-Americans. I have no love of my long line of southern history, deservedly blown to hell in the Civil War. I feel no sense of loss on the removal of the Confederate flag. Family members on my dad’s side, the privileged, tried to maintain a life based on oppressing and murdering other human beings, but I did not adopt their standards. The Confederate flag is a shameful rag and nothing more.

There are more thoughts on this subject and other things on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Join me there.




Memories, Monsanto, Hair, and the Pachuko Hop

Sometime around 1973, I found myself sitting in a restaurant in Washington, DC, more precisely a health food restaurant called Food For Thought. I was listening to the song “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel (1970 # 4 hit) and falling in love with the waitress as she moved to the beat up and down the aisle. For however long it took me to eat a banana, walnut, apple, yogurt, and granola salad, with honey, of course, I was in love. I never got to know the waitress’s name, but for 42 years she has danced up and down the aisle of my memory just as she did on that wooden floor in a place called Food For Thought, and she forever will be remembered as Cecilia. That was a great afternoon, and it was all real, especially the food.

Monsanto has its claws down my throat as they sue the state of Vermont. With Governor Peter Shumlin's signature, Vermont became the first state in the country to require foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to carry a label. The effective date is July 1, 2016, but whether it goes into effect depends on defeating legal and constitutional challenges, and there are many challenges by Monsanto. Currently, 29 states have bills in the works, with Oregon gearing up for a GMO-labeling initiative that will appear on the ballot this November, and Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association keep on suing. While there has been speculation Starbucks was part of this suit, the company has stated those allegations are completely false.

Donald Trump has thrown his wiggy-ness into the presidential race, and it’s not the first time wigs have been involved. Back In 1834, political opponents of President Andrew Jackson organized a new party to contest his Democrats nationally and in the states. Guided by their most prominent leader, Henry Clay, they called themselves Whigs (nothing to do with wigs, by the way) and disparagingly referred to Andrew Jackson as King Andrew. The Whigs were immediately laughed at by Jacksonian Democrats as a party devoted to the interests of wealth and aristocracy, but they won the presidential elections in 1840 and 1848. However, by 1852, the popular issue of the day was slavery, and the Whigs fell out of favor.  The “cotton” Whigs moved to the Democratic Party, and the “conscience” Whigs formed the new Republican Party.

 Rock History:  On June 2, 1956, in Santa Cruz, California, there was a dance party, and 200 teenagers packed the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on that Saturday night to dance to the music of Chuck Higgins and his orchestra, a Los Angeles group with a regional hit record called “Pachuko Hop” (catch this rocker on YouTube).  The Santa Cruz police entered the auditorium just past midnight, and according to Lieutenant Richard Overton, found the crowd dancing suggestively, presumably triggered by the “provocative rhythms of an all-Negro band,” and shut down the dance. The next day, June 3, 1956, the city authorities announced a total ban on rock and roll at public gatherings, calling the music “detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community.”

There’s more on “Pachuko Hop” and Chuck Higgins, morality, lack of morality, music, and other wigged-out things on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Come on in.



Me, Political? I’m a Music Man!

One of my very good friends from Rambling Harbor, the aquatic specialist formerly known as Swamp Woman, who is always very soft spoken and mostly keeps her opinions to herself, looked at me the other day and said so sincerely, “It must be hell to be in your head,” after listening to some dissertation I had just finished on the state of the state of something.

Ha! She has no idea! I'm sitting here trying to write my blog for next week and going totally blank. I want to remain nonpolitical, but the song "Master Jack” by Four Jacks and a Jill will not leave my tangled grey matter alone. Over and over, I hear what a strange world we live in...  and damn, ain’t it the truth.

In my opinion, there are some things that were meant to go together, peanut butter and chocolate, scotch and soda, and music and politics, especially folk music, which I will talk about in the podcast. I have been trying to avoid as much as possible that last combination and concentrate on just the music, but that’s almost impossible for me.

The late Howard Zinn, after being beaten at a peaceful demonstration, said that if you try free speech The Man will be there with sticks and guns to stop you. He went on to say that from that moment on, as he rubbed the lump on his head, he was no longer a liberal but a radical. I too have felt those lumps of peaceful free speech, in Chicago in 1968 and in Wounded Knee in 1973.

In “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” Bob Dylan’s statement about not needing a weatherman to tell which way the wind was blowing did not refer to the astronomical climate but the political one and to the Weather Underground. Today you need a score card to keep the candidates for president straight. At this time, there are 10 candidates from the Republican side of the barbed wired fence. One more and they could start a football team, and I hear the candidates don’t all have deflated balls and there are some females.

My conservative friends think I’m a liberal, and my liberal friends know I’m a radical, and my radical friends think I’m insane, all of which makes it difficult for anyone to agree with me completely. As of this date we do not have the NVRP, the Non-Violent Radical Party.  There is a book and a documentary film about Howard Zinn, both called You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train. If there is one thing that makes me more politically angry than anything else, it’s the term neutral. As my dad used to say, “Do SOMETHING even if it’s wrong.”

There are more nonpolitical thoughts—hee hee—and musical notes on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Join me there.



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