Archive for the ‘Boston Globe’ Category

How Are Things in Glocca Morra

These were times of fear. It came during a sense of great loss. Over wealth. Over freedom. Over loss of life.

Mob rule. Politics. The devil in history.

Addictions. Issues of liberty. Russia Mafiya. Evil. The contract killing. In the wake of the KGB. The devil in history. All the things that came together as a system collapsed.

Mob rule. Politics. The devil in history. In the wake of World War I. The laws passed. Politicians who exploited constitutions, in times of fear. Evil.

Times of fear. The aftermath of genocide.

A lot of the world carried a disbelief in the devil. Evil seemed to be asleep, in the popular view in 2000. Then came September 11, 2001. It was much more than the current American view that evil was directed against one nation. It was much more than those 19 people from overseas? It was what had happened globally. In Spain. In London. In Saudi Arabia. In Morocco. In Kenya. In Yemen. In Somalia. In Turkey. In Mumbai. In Bali. In Jakarta. In the Philippines

Terror. Times of fear. Power. The fight in the north of Ireland. The fight of Basque separatists. The battles within China and within Russia over ethnic minorities that desired power.

The patterns are present which reflect deep currents in global sociology which work against any effort to transcend divisions.

Division. Divide and conquer. It was the mantra of terrorist and political parties.

Hunger and politics were inter-connected. So was politics and religion.

Ireland. Today there was a story in the Boston Globe about the Irish returning once again to Boston. The writer presented an update on how fast the world could change. For ex-patriots returning home in the 1990s. And now headed back to Boston.

Ireland. I have commented in the past about the title one of the more popular books sold in Ireland in 2007, Vanishing Ireland. Technology had changed generation and a nation, so much that the Vanishing Ireland book became a best seller. There seems to be a silent grieving, an expressed longing, a spiritual-type hunger, expecting things to be the same. And in all of its wake, returning to your life, carrying on, amidst the change. All that the Celtic Tiger had done was to get the romance out of the system. When Ireland had conquered the ghosts of the past, with jobs, with peace, a secularism had come in which changed the nature of the Irish. And with it had come a new division. Welcome to the European Union. Where everything seemed based on wealth. And in all of its wake, expecting things to be the same, when everything is based on wealth. The devil in history.

The Ireland these ex-patriots returned to was not the place that they had known. There was no comment upon any ill-will directed at the European Union that had poured money into the place to help the economic boom, which had become an economic bust. Deflation was close to 6% over the past 12 months. There was just an unstated acceptance, about everything, as these ex-pats returned to day to day Irish life.

Wealth and technology. Technology had changed a nation, so that there seemed to be a silent grieving, among the ex-pats. Still with a longing. Nostalgia was also some kind of spiritual hunger, for what forefathers and foremothers always had had. And with silent grieving, the same type of conflict of the hungry with the well-fed. That was always the conflict within religion, a conflict over those who strongly professed religious belief, in conflict for what ever reasons with those others without.

These were times of fear. Over the void left. It came during a sense of great loss. Over wealth. Over freedom. Over change and the effects of change. Over how the void would be filled. Over what had in the past had always been there, at least before many native-born had left the first time. They were now leaving again for Massachusetts.

When you left for economic necessity, how could these former ex-patriots complain? Yet theirs was a witness to how the world had silently changed. Even in a place like Glocca Morra. Or Camelot.

The past is always with us. Sometimes it was not even quite past.

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Troubadours

A troubadour was out the window. Walking by my place. Energetically strumming a guitar. I could not hear the sound. But how could you not stare and wonder about the sounds? And who he was doing this for? Wondering about his direction in the neighborhood and what he was singing about.

My reactions to this scene was a feeling that this was 1969. When other youth his age had, with so much potential, so much to say. And the direction where they took the potential. In such a vastly changing world. But in a world that had little changed. Except there was now such little sound of protest by the young about the situation of the world. Of the wars. Of the injustice.

Little protest except by a “journalist” like Dawn Zuppelli. The hackers of the world that had replaced the honest protesters of 1968. Of 1969. Of 1970. The world of hackers. It was a week after my computer caught a virus. Dawn Zuppelli is a journalist, last August with Rochester IndyMedia. Long after the Republican National Convention has left St. Paul, after someone had read a posting here dated September 4, 2008, I read yesterday her Facebook page which lists her interests in the IndyMedia website as well as AK Press, which is currently promoting the 1st North American Anarchist Studies Network Conference.

Too many journalist were like baseball players. Like David Ortiz. You wondered what was inside. Who was to be trusted. Which ones were honest.

Troubadours energetically strumming guitars and singing . These guys seemed to have set out, unconditionally, not held down by conventional thinking. A work of art, a song, a response to the times. From an artist’s imagination comes original art, important precisely because it does not start out with clear knowledge.

It was why music and the arts were sacred. As was honest journalism, written at the start without clear knowledge, looking for the reasons, offering an explanation on why something happened.

Journalism called forth the same need for honesty that politics was supposed to. That troubadours used to bring. Artists, in search of a point to view. Learning to play an instrument. Until you could do your own version of a song. Until you gave voice to a new rendition. Learning a personal viewpoint from lives experiences. Presenting the new sounds of protest by the young about the situation of the world. Of health care. Of the wars. Of the injustice. A troubadour in search of his own identity, a clear sense of identity that work for him/her. In the search for meaning each day.



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The Race for the Cure

Enhancements. Some women paid for them. It really did not happen amidst the poor. They had other things to worry about. Enhancement might attract the attention of a richer man. Time would tell of the depth of a relationship. Not many people really cared about those enhancements. Unless you were paying the plastic surgeon for the reconstruction. Or unless it was your daughter.

There are forces apparent on a generation schooled in the era of moral relativism. In business, in sports. Listen to the quotes on Manny Ramirez, posted on MLB.com.

Washington General Manager Manny Acta: “It is sad because this guy is going to get his name tainted forever.”

Oakland manager Bob Geren: “This is an unfortunate thing to happen, but the rules are very clear.”

Giants catcher Bengie Molina: “I’m not anybody to judge anybody. I’m not going to judge Manny.”

Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker: “Fifty is a long time. And that’s really going to hurt the Dodgers. And it is going to hurt his reputation. I just hate it that another star goes down.”

Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel, Ramirez’s former hitting coach in the Cleveland Indian organization: “I’m kind of sad about that. But I don’t know what to say about that. I’m sad. I saw him when he was in rookie ball.”

The cost of enhancements. The moral relativism.

I love Charlie Manuel. Even before today. Since he was a rookie in Minnesota. Since those days, he has seen the world. The poverty. He knows how poor a kid like Manny was. In either the Dominican or in the slums of New York. But Manny is now 37. He has made his millions.

The world should be sad and disappointed. Over what he is doing to his own body. And OUTRAGED over cheating. The baseball world should wake up to the meaning of what is going on, in a game that has become a living science experiment. It was like the world of spies and counter-spies. Who do you trust among these players? Any of them? And why am I watching this? Why am I watching these experiments in human growth hormones mingle with the natural athletes?

It was not just about enhancements. Not when the game was a competition. Not when the game was about the past and the future. That was the selfishness of either an uneducated group of users or this entire generation schooled in the era of moral relativism. These graduates asked not to be judged. Like the Giant catcher.

Speaking about a post on MLB.com. and the cost of enhancements, all this was going on as newspapers were dying. MLB.com is paying a writer to travel with the team. In the case of the Dodgers, one of only two daily “beat” writers. Beat writers who used to follow a team from coast to coast, to bring you a sense of the heartbeat of the game, and the pulse of the players. In a day when there was, in my sense, a bit of heart disease in the game, based upon these quotes.

The day was coming soon when the game of baseball itself was gonna need a heart transplant. If anybody even cared, after watching this generation of players. But in the words of Sonny and Cher, “and the Beat Goes On.” The beat after the Mitchell Report. But without the “beat” writers who have not really been given access to this modern era of players. Without the “beat” writers who never really have brought the story of steroid use to the public over the last 15 years. And I sure did not expect MLB.com beat writers to reveal the transparency of a team. There seemed to be a conflict of interest for what was once called publicists. With MLB.com paying writers to cover a team, with Major League Baseball forming their own network with their own announcers, who expected criticism, much less transparency. These “beat” writers, the true critics, had been, in the era of agents, denied real access to the modern players anyway. And about the time that steroid use started. The day was here where the organic player was in need a special place just like grocers put old-fashioned organic food in the grocery stores, and maybe would charge us more. If that was possible.

From one generation to the next, baseball has provided a language to communicate that there was a sense of transcendence about life greater than I. Baseball communicated that there was a connection between me and others. My teammates. To all who played the game. Like a religion, baseball was a spiritual experience in a world where people felt closer in ritual. Baseball was all about the depth of a relationship.

Hall of Famer Juan Marichal: “I was wrong thinking he was a pure, natural hitter and that he would never use anything that would help a player do better. I am very sad to hear a player of his caliber could be involved in such a thing. I consider it cheating the game to have a positive test.”

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki: “Him being out 50 games is huge for the Dodgers lineup. It takes the best player in the division out for 50 games. That gives us a little window of opportunity so hopefully we can take advantage of it.”

Those honest windows of opportunity in a game with a lot of deceit: welcome to baseball in the 21st century. It was truth being stranger than science fiction. Why am I watching these experiments in human growth hormones mingle with the natural athletes? When I had never wasted my time on science fiction.

Even in the era of moral relativism, those 10 Commandments never changed. The tenets of the past remained for the present and the future, without enhancements. The failure amidst all of this was in the teaching the graciousness of the game, the “gentle” part of “gentlemen,” to the souls of the young. Whether players had come from the PAC 8 colleges or the barrios of Latin America, in an age of diversity there should be lifelong banishment for steroid use. The Barry Bondses, the Roger Clemenses, the Manny Ramirezes

David Howman, director of the World Anti-Doping Agency: “It is regrettable that the sport does not identify substances involved in positive cases. Baseball needs to be transparent.”

A lack of transparency was what had caused the collapse last September on Wall Street, which did not happen over night. Ah the politics of the game which also now had limited transparency. So this was what had been taught to those guys who majored in sports administration.

George Bush had been the managing general partner of the Texas Rangers about the time Bud Selig came to power in the current system. That current system under Selig with no distinction to the American League or the National League. The narrative of the story of baseball under Bud has been an acquiescence to the player’s association, a looking the other way, with a lack of regulation. From the commissioner, to the general manager, the managers, the umpires, everyone was making too much money and looking the other way while cheaters just kept on cheating. It sounded a lot like Wall Street. So why was I watching this? I would not compete myself again a cheater for recreation, after I did it all week on Wall Street.

I was a Juan Marichal fan growing up. Reading MLB.com, he seems one of the few people who could connect the sense of transcendence about baseball, about what he did in his life, that was greater than himself. Someone should tell Dusty Baker, this was more than about the Dodgers, or Manny’s reputation. The waters of free agency had made all of the guys just Prussian soldiers, going through the motions.

“And the Beat Goes On.” In 50 more games. In the polluted waters of free agency. It was a new era of globalization. When that local newspaper was owned from far away. When local politics was decided by political contributions from Hollywood. Or maybe from China. It was the era when the players came from afar, when an owner in Los Angeles was a parking lot owner in Boston. When scattered stockholders throughout the world were interested only in bottom lines. And no one really cared about anything except money.

Those enhancement might attract attention for a while, of those of us with money to spend on tickets. Until we looked at what was underneath it all.

Time would tell of the depth of a relationship. Time would be the judge of the depth of love of the game of kids who grew up amidst all of this.

The Race for the Cure might be a new name for the entire decade of baseball, not that division competition in the National League West. Those enhancements following the last baseball strike had worked for a while. Until someone actually figured to look underneath it all. Now that we all knew what was under the current game, it was time to change this unending behavior.

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The Day the Music Died

For all that it mattered, Obama had my vote until he kicked 3 reporters off a plane in the closing week of the campaign when their newspapers endorsed the other candidate. It was in 2008 that I set out to write about the threat to democracy when newspapers died. The news reports on the news is like watching a loved one with cancer. The deathwatch was prolonged, but the end result is fairly obvious.

A generation has come of age with a free news media. Without the news, I would not be on-line with the anticipation of excitement which I bring to the desk each evening.

Today I read a piece by Neil Macdonald of the CBC News. If you have never had the pleasure of watching the news produced from Canada, you have missed one of the Cadillacs of the industry.

Macdonald writes: “Many of the people who govern us do not believe the public has a right to know very much at all. This is not a conservative or a liberal thing.”

“George W. Bush and his group were obvious stonewallers. But the Obama administration is, in some ways, even more controlling. Barack Obama has taken up the Bush practice of pre-selecting and notifying reporters in advance that they will be called upon at his press conference, leaving all the others to act as props. Obama’s people are also famous for what’s called message discipline, meaning no leaks.”

“Were it not for newspapers, the American public would likely not know that its former president had authorized secret CIA ‘black’ prisons abroad, where government operatives were free to torture detainees. Or that the U.S. government was wiretapping American citizens without judicial permission. Or that returning veterans, their minds and bodies shattered, were suffering in the dank squalor of a mouldy military hospital.”

http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/03/31/f-rfa-macdonald.html

Amidst the age of bailouts, it was rather noble that not a newspaper was asking the government for loans that the industry might survive. Without newspapers, we are all of us more vulnerable. Whatever your beliefs, whatever your political affiliation. Anyone who has not given thought to subscribing to the local news at this point in history, to save an institution that has provided a formidable part of a democrat society, will rue the day when their town no longer has reporters out sniffing out stories of corruption, dishonesty, or well thought opinion pieces.

Newspapers for the most part are about figuring out what things are worth. Newspapers are about integrity and setting standards which politicians are expected to meet. And newspapers are about those who walk among us, and learning through the obituary page who is now gone. Sadly, the newspapers in my town, both of them, do not appear to have a life expectancy of more than a few months.