If I had a Website...

I'd promote my book

'Cloud of Expectation' by Mike Westphal

Book 1 of the In America series


It’s about the lake, the bicycle, and the lawnmower.
It’s about your first girlfriend.
It’s about playing basketball till you drop.
It’s about your grandparents
rock 'n' roll
and catching snakes in your bare hands.

It’s your childhood
through a stained-glass window
Adolescence
going over the rapids


It’s perfect for your bedside nightstand or your teenager’s backpack --- gift him/her a copy.

It’s a book for those who remember
the America we knew.
It's nostalgia with an edge.

Let me say the unspeakable: could this be the book
to unite Clintonians and Trumpistas?

Available on Amazon: 'Cloud of Expectation' by Mike Westphal

Mike Westphal, a science and math whiz, dropped out
of college to become a dishwasher, a day laborer, and
finally acquired a trade as a carpenter. Along the way,
he learned many unfortunate truths, chiefly about women.
Nevertheless, he retains a trusting and sunny outlook. He
currently owns a bar in Texas.
 'Westphal' is a nom-de-plume.

I'd stir up discussion

“POLARIZED” “BROKEN”

How often we hear these words. Earnest reporters shake their heads. Worried commentators give us their advice. They say we must speak to one another. Listen to each other. Understand the other. The person who disagrees is not your enemy.

Well-meaning platitudes, bland and insufficiently thought out. They are almost always from ‘liberals’, but liberals and all their forms of pleading are despised as weak, laughably weak, by the illiberal. “Pablum-puking liberals” --- that about sums it up.

The question is, How did these ’polarized’ constituencies come to be formed? I shall call them the ‘nice’ and the ‘nasty.’ Let us just go ahead and admit it. The ‘nice’ came to be so through a lifetime of ‘putting themselves in the other person’s shoes.’ Through ‘listening’. Through ‘feeling’. Through ‘empathy’. These are the very traits that are mocked every day on conservative talk radio. So now, telling the nice to have ‘empathy’ for the person who despises them, and says so loudly, is like asking an exhausted bird to keep flying. It may be out over the ocean, and have no other choice but to fly, and flying is what a bird does anyway, but it does become tiring.


--- continued ---

POST-ELECTION BLUES

1

Now we must listen to the post-mortems; the analyses of why Hillary lost, brought to us by people who have as much belated insight as a drunk who’s just been mugged. “Somethin’ hit me.” In many cases, they are too heavily anchored in the rational to understand the pounce of the irrational, so their analyses, doggedly aboveboard, are paper constructions next to the meat and bone of the hungry beast that slinks in the bushes, waiting to tear them apart any time opportunity fills the air and the blood calls.

Talk radio was part of the cause of Hillary’s loss: it had created a unique, enthusiastic, and indeed fanatic audience over the last quarter-century and trained it to think like a wolfpack. Talk radio spilled over into the middle mainstream and colored the water. Ostensibly talk radio was a forum for people to discuss the nation’s problems. But it had trained people to think in a manner that cannot lead to any problem’s solution. Let me do a comparison.

Rational people, like myself, see problems here there and everywhere, and we lean back and look over the situation and use our common sense to home


--- continued ---

N.P.R. and the ‘LIBERAL PRESS’

NPR is often cited by the right as a ‘liberal’ media outlet. I often wondered at this. With all its reports of mom-and-pop businesses grown large, we-started-selling-our-tomato-sauce-and-look-at-us-now . . . real cheerleading for sticktoitiveness, gumption, follow your dream, sell mom’s recipe, all its encouragement to strivers, all its belief in market success, NPR had somehow been declared the enemy of all that is right-thinking and American, the mouthpiece for the socialist elites. What were these people talking about?

I finally realized that it had to do with tones of voice. NPR speakers were helpful, encouraging, and worst of all, KIND. These tones of voice were anathema to listeners who knew where you were coming from by your tone. These humane, gently inquiring voices --- this was how ‘liberals’ spoke. A real conservative was known by his barely contained anger. His voice was hollow inside, ringing with harsh self-idolization on the outside. He was ‘stentorian’. He disapproved strongly . . . of you and whatever you were doing. This tone was comfortable to the ‘conservative’ listener, while the meek-shall-inherit-the-earth mewlings of the pussies at NPR could only have sprung from a spiritual perversion as odious to a conservative as rotten-egg gas to a city plumber. Content


--- continued ---

I'd gather a bouquet of praises

The author as Harry Potter
Westphal’s voice drifts assuredly between the plainspoken and the lyrical in a buoyant, unpretentious style still able to achieve moments of brilliance. Kirkus Reviews
I so enjoyed your first book --- I couldn’t put it down. Gertrude Barnstone
Rich with personal and historical detail and sparkling with clear and concise diction . . . an earlier and simpler America . . . Larry D. Thomas (2008 Texas Poet Laureate)

Readers' Reactions From Amazon

This guy can write.
Do yourself a favor and buy this book . . . I firmly believe this is a book that should be read by all!
Particularly delightful are the colorful descriptions of fishing in Arkansas. I highly recommend this . . . You won’t be disappointed by the author’s unique writing style – part narrative, part prose, part poetry.
Mr. Westphal’s writing style is pleasing and relaxing . . .

A last word from Kirkus Reviews:

An accomplished, lyrical portrait of a locality over several generations.

I’d post little scraps of writing

AN UNFORTUNATE CHOICE

Chisel and hammer: my hands fly
like birds over the door’s edge
cutting a mortise
faster than the lady of the house can believe.
Screws turned deep in the wood,
I hurry on to the next door.

After hours, at the bar
a song grows in me and bursts out. My hands
dance over the stained keys, exult,
attack, coax sweetness out of the
hammers and strings of this old hulk.
It’s my throw-down --- my defiance
of encroaching mediocrity
which laps at me from all sides.
Can you do this? Like hell you can.

But I follow neither of these careers, you see
though both, judiciously practiced,
would lead me to a full life and a happy death.
No, instead
I “want to write.”


IN THE DARK OF THE SUN

Each religion is a failed try
at opening a gate
to let the dull, doomed, and miserably incomplete
members of the human race pour through
and grasp in their clawed hands
the sunlight of an ineffable spiritual reality.

Yahoos, Calibans, mud-bathers
they need it so badly
if only for reasons of self-esteem.

Ribs askew
along their bony sides
poking each other in the eye
as they ascend the ladder
they climb into religion’s kettle, crying,
Look at us! We’re the people of God
bathing in the milk of his approval.
Those others, the devil take them!

Americanism is one such religion and
I hear its bathers every day on the radio:
snarling, prideful, dumb,
saved, wrapped in the flag.

I had a naïve belief in the goodness of “the people”
until I heard them speak.


NEVER WRITTEN

Used to be, I carried a book-plan around in my head. How’d it get there? Well, our brains masticate experience --- chew it up, turn it over, re-work it. Turn it into paste, spread it on bread. An idea forms, a picture of Christ on toast. Sometimes an idea becomes a righteous cause. ‘This ought to be a book,’ you say.

So where did this idea come from?

Well, I was in residential carpentry back then.

Hammers and nail-guns shot spikes into the yellow pine. Whap, whap --- the sound of new housing construction. The air was filled with a fresh new-wood smell. We strapped our tools on, limbered our bodies up, set up the sawhorses and scaffolds, marked the 2x’s and cut them, ate wrapped sandwiches for lunch, then in the afternoon we might find ourselves in the Zone, where the body strikes at the speed of thought, and every move you make is like Bruce Lee at his best --- you zip along in clarity, conquering all. A red haze hangs over everything, your blood-soul fills the air like a genie. Finally, you swing down from the rafters, drop to the floor: the creaky sated slowness is starting to catch up with you. “Roll ‘em up!” goes the call. The air is cool, the sun hides in the West. You take a last sip from the big water-cooler.

Pine woods surrounded our trucks --- ragged remnants, half-bulldozed. Start your engines.

Stories were told, as we drove away, or sat on the bundled lumber: stories of people we’d worked with, stories --- everybody had one --- of terrible accidents, or girlfriends, or bosses who never paid. In those years of riot and plenty, when oil money rained down and work sprouted up everywhere, an army of men streamed in from everywhere to answer the call of the Paycheck; rootless, they might shift from offshore platform work to residential carpentry to downtown skyscraper construction: just guys who liked to put their bodies into the job, who liked being out in the wind and the sun, and had an affinity for tools. Job-hopping, it was like the Wild West. You could quit one job, find another, easy.

We worked in the country, we worked in the town.

One day, watching a cherry-picker that had levered too close to a transformer --- the men aboard panicking as the electricity arced and lightly fried them --- the man beside me reminisced about his uncle who had carried a metal rod and brushed against something he shouldn’t have --- the electricity blew a hole in his leg as it exited. He lost some fingers too. Then he told me about his workmate crossing from the pier to the ship on, of all things, a ladder --- a lurch, and down he went --- someone found his body half a mile down the channel. I myself had once been trapped in an attic, my foot on a pipe as my chest touched a power line that had lost its insulation --- the rattling voltage had paralyzed my muscles. But part of me was out of the immediate pathway of the current and using these muscles I pulled myself free. “Might have found you like a fried rat up there,” the boss chuckled.

Then there was the load of pipe come loose & dumped on the highway.

Or the guy who met a girl at a dance hall, took her home, and in two days, while he was at work, she called a moving van and stole all his furniture.

It seemed to me that these stories of the horrific and the comic might be collected and woven into a narrative. I would put three guys, a boss and two helpers, on a simple homebuilding job; craft the guys carefully, give them girlfriends or wives, have them tell their stories as they sit and eat or knock the nails in, tell the stories in a round-robin like the travelers in the Canterbury Tales, while the house gets built. Maybe at the end I could have someone fall off the roof and break his thigh --- the investor, hopefully.

To gather the material I’d use not only my own memories; I’d circulate among the residences where the old carpenters and oil-riggers still hung out --- chiefly AA houses --- and pay them for their tales, pay them based on how many lines their stories contributed. I knew that time was short, because these men’s work had been rendered obsolete by the downtown’s completion and by low-wage Mexican competition, and they were quickly disappearing. One of my old helpers recently died an alcoholic’s death, another one was taken by leukemia. What stories they had, you wouldn’t believe! Deranged practical jokes, digging up a Mexican graveyard, a mangled man’s last cigarette.

But that project along with others had to be left undone. Now it drifts out there in the ether, a ghost-project, my informants dead, the rest scattered --- what a tale the guy with the $200,000 settlement could have given us! He spent a year in Hawaii and then returned to work for me hanging sheetrock. He’d seen three of his workmates killed in a single accident --- a fifty-story fall --- and only escaped by the most unlikely of chances.

Across the street from me one day a man was driven into the earth by a load of corrugated metal that tipped and slid.
Another, dawdling his pneumatic gun, shot himself through the scrotum. Nailed to the wooden beam, he sat there grinning.

So the ghost-book never took flesh. Spectral and yearning, it whispers to me sometimes, haunts me. I could write a spook story about the netherworld of books that never got written, a limbo where they drag their rags about and try to impress each other with their now-gone prospects. A dark willow hangs over the river where the books congregate and sometimes catch sight of the king of them all: Ralph Ellison’s Sunraider tome, a lonely monarch who has too little in common with the rest but sits down for a moment nevertheless out of noblesse oblige, then moves on. Half of him rests in the world of men, half forever shambles through limbo.

And then there were the works of the Roman writers scraped clean from the parchment so the monks could copy the Bible. O mourn, people!

Oil-rigging accidents were the worst. Possibly the drilling companies preferred to hire men who had no families, maybe even were on the run, because no one would demand death benefits after the spinning chain took off half his head: just . . . send him back for a closed-casket burial.

But the broiling world of human need and financial necessity was always more pressing on me than hypothetical book-writing. I had discovered I was a natural parent --- good at it, liked doing it --- but creating a stable relationship that enabled me to exercise this talent was a problem. Life was a churning mess. Book-writing --- lonely and unremunerative --- was not a high priority, only a dream. Nevertheless, my typewriter was a frequent refuge. In the end, though, I left the world of construction. I keep my truck and tools and still fantasize a covert return. And when I meet another construction guy, his conversation might be tedious, but I know he is my brother. The feeling is there, right in the middle of my chest. We understand the same things. Fist bump, bro. Let’s go find a job.


I'd sell it to teachers

Young ladies! Listen up! Ahem!

You’re on the lookout for a book that will inspire your young charges --- suck them in, grab them & whirl them, dance them to the Music of the Spheres, hook them up to the Important Things In Life, maybe Teach a Valuable Lesson --- something not written in the gray undistinguished prose of so many YA novelettes, all those Newbery Prize winners --- something with a bright thread of John Keats running through it --- something that will leave them elevated, reflective, and, in times to come, breathless, somewhat grateful.

In previous years teachers have fixated on The Light In The Forest, Go Ask Alice, The Outsiders, A Day No Pigs Would Die --- all with varying degrees of success. And the internet --- especially Amazon --- is filled with comment by surly teenagers who hate the adult-level Victorian novels forced on them in high school. Silas Marner. Great Expectations. Far From the Madding Crowd. You know the rest. (You and I may like these, but we are grown-ups, and we know that Tess of the D’Urbervilles is no snack for a restless teen.)

Some teachers have settled on assigning Harry Potter to the class. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Well --- here at last is your answer. A book that draws deep on the wells of traditional Americana. A book that celebrates the stream of promise that runs through our country and its people. A book that bounces on the springboard of the present, then spins through a two-and-a-half.

This book is my own Cloud of Expectation, and I heartily recommend it. Buy a copy for yourself, then rush to order four or five dozen for your classes.

A note here. One page in the book contains two Naughty Words. Two Very Naughty Words. I know these are not suitable for secondary-school students. Accordingly, I have prepared a second edition in which the page containing these two words is removed. Don’t worry, it works. Buy the Createspace edition for yourself, then the Xlibris edition for the class.

And leave some comment on my website. Thank you!
        Mike Westphal

I’d seek answers to life’s persistent questions

IS IT A VIRUS?

A few years ago I developed a feeling for the Canary Island Date Palm. I liked its looks, the splay of its fronds, its horny bark. I said to myself, I want to grow these things. Raise them. And sell them.

So I rode around town, finding good-looking adult palms that were ready to drop berry. I sawed some berry-branches out of a tree. I collected the dates off the ground. I must have had two big buckets-full of the things. I shaved pulp from seeds and planted them in moistened zip-lock bags of soil, as per the internet instructions. And I was not disappointed, for in a matter of weeks the green-and-white shoots were worming their way out and calling to me with all the tender poignancy of newborn babes in a cradle. It was time to move them into the nursery.

Accordingly, I built a large box of cedar pickets and treated pine, buried the seedlings just below the surface, and waited. And was aghast, over the next few days, to see bird tracks and rodent tracks and uprootings galore. I had created a big feeding-box for the neighborhood.

Quickly I put together a screen top, quite attractive, and hinged it to the box along one side and let it down. The plants were saved, and over the next month I watched them grow and reach upward till they touched the screen. Now it was time to transplant. I had been saving 24-oz polyurethane soft-drink cups and had quite a supply.

The seedlings took root and grew quite encouragingly, stretching big blades up and looking for all the world like the hardy roadside grass that I left behind in Arkansas. How long would it take, I wondered, for the trunk to develop and the long leaves differentiate into


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I’d pitch it to teenagers

Written For You

As a child
you could barely tell yourself
from the unending sunlit eternal
the trees & skies
you were part of it all.

As a teenager
you’re jerked into the Now
into more urgent realms
of need and anguish
brooding and doubt
magic and fear
loathing and beauty
rude health of the body
demanding its due
soul looking into crevices.

This book’s for you
along with its companion, Book II
soon to be issued.

Read ‘em, then hook up with other readers
in the comment section below.


--- comments ---

I’d ask for help in bringing my work to NY publishers’ attention.

1

Only big-time publishers have the means to take a book nationwide. Only a big-time publisher, once it (or he? or they?) decides your work is commercially viable, can line up the Big Names who will say nice things about your work. By log-rolling, and tugging on coat-sleeves, I’ve collected a few cover blurbs on my own --- personal acquaintance seems to be the coin of the realm, and thank God for that --- thank you Larry, thank you Gertrude --- and when I set up this website I’ll mail book copies to a dozen-and-a-half newspapers that still maintain a review section. But if these reviewers don’t see that Big Time Muscle is behind a book, then they have little reason to read it, let alone put their name on a review. It will simply not help their career to use valuable newspaper space to promote a self-published book. Say nice things about a HarperCollins book, and the Big Boys in New York will smile and send you more books to review. Your career is assured, lifted off the runway, running strong. You have gained clout, and the first rule of clout is, don’t squander it. Don’t use valuable column-inches to praise something that will not help you.

For a self-published writer of ambition, this presents a problem. I think that my book is an American classic. The reactions I’ve had from acquaintances to strangers range from strong liking to crazed enthusiasm. These reactions are of course colored by personal contact, shaped by diplomacy, and stoked by social necessity, but they confirm what I already know --- that my child is a beautiful child. Unjustly neglected, of course, and shut out of the party --- no cupcakes for you today, dearie. So one must become an outraged parent, half-mad, beating on doors. One must list the reasons the book will be a commercial success. One must say why this book will burrow into the heart of the reader and make itself a nest. One must develop the lines of promotion carefully, teaching the soulless tin-eared morons in the advertising department what must be said.

“An amalgam of Ray Bradbury and Bruce Springsteen”
“Captures something essentially American”
“ --- moments of beauty when, poised at the edge
of time, we are ready to fall into life . . .”

In the meantime, let us try to make this book an Amazon/Createspace success. If we sell fifty thousand copies, then that should get the attention of the New York calculators. Then I can unscrew the lid and let Books II and III out of the can. Because I think you will agree, this is a book that should be read by as many people as possible --- after being tumbled through the commercial wash it should come to rest, dried pressed and folded, on the American bookshelf. Read by every tenth-grader. Recognized by bigwigs. In the canon.


Part of the problem is people do not belileve that any more classics can be written. Classics are all written by those frozen icons, nineteenth-century men --- Poe and Cooper --- and turn-of-the-century women --- Wharton and Cather --- and the day of the classics is over. Ipso facto, no more can/will be written. It's all over and done.
Well, this proud author contends that his book should be hand-fed to middle-school students or high-school students every year in perpetuity. Like 'The Outsiders', right? Like 'Roots' --- make it a 'useful' book until it reaches 'classic' status.

This is madness, right? The writer is a fool who should not be indulged. Or --- IS HE?

2

Although the book is teenage-accessible, it is written for adults. All the books my teenage friends and I enjoyed, fifty-sixty years ago, were written for adults. The phenomenon of what the industry calls 'YA' books --- 'Young Adult' books --- has grown up in the intervening years. Back then, of course, the publishing industry did have its 'juveniles' --- the Hardy Boys, et al --- but after the sixth grade, no one I knew read them. We quickly moved on to adult writing, to 'pulp', an American invention, written for maximum speed and unobstructed comprehension. Great talents learned the trade and mastered its techniques under these new rules. James M. Cain, H. P. Lovecraft, and Philip K. Dick, to name three wildly disparate writers, grew up under the happy anarchy and tough discipline of 'pulp'. It was the people's revenge on Henry James. It set a style that went worldwide.

One step up were the mass-circulation weeklies, the 'slicks'. Here the better writers trained. The story still had to 'move', but style and implication crowded out the two-fisted whiskey-soaked obvious. Dames no longer signaled their availability. Guns were seldom carried.

It goes without saying that the themes and style of the pulps are anathema to today's YA writers. Sailor Steve no longer slugs it out with the pimps at the waterfront. Phil Marlowe is no longer cracked over the head by a gun butt. These things are forbidden --- cheap thrills, be gone! The blood-and-thunder romances that enraptured earlier generations of pubescent boys are quaint historical artifacts now, and justly so. TV and movies have taken their place. Into the breach rides a posse of concerned adults. They realize that the young have problems, issues, dark and troubled souls. They mean to offer help: to encourage them, buck them up, show them the way. They are a cautious lot, and have evolved a set of values and standards that they think will guide the young reader in the right direction. Only, one has the impression that these are adults writng for other adults' approval to see who can be the most motherly, the most caring, the most instructive, and the most encouraging, while hiding these goals behind a story they have tricked out in baubles to hold the kids' attention. One would think the kids would sense the hand of manipulation, and squirm away from it. That is not what real writing does. Because these writers are not real writers; they are helicopter parents.

My little book, while it may actually do some of these things invadvertently, is a piece of real writing, and will be received with gratitude by a generation unused to such but ready for it. Hosanna! It has what all those Lord-of-the-Rings clones don't have, all those Madeline L'Engle imitations: fire, sharpness, intelligence. Just what my friends and I looked for when we read unguided by cautious adults.


It's not 'The Grapes of Wrath'. It's not the Second Coming. But it's something, and it ought to be out there.


3


WHY REVIEWERS WILL NOT READ YOUR SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK

It dirties them. It's like dipping their name --- their hard-earned name --- in rancid water. They mean to use that name to advance their fortunes. That means , "Get more assignments from major publishers." It does NOT mean, "Get more cripped introverts to send you their weak-ass poetry." It does not mean, "Throw open your mailbox to a thousand Star Wars knock-offs."

BUT WHAT IF YOUR SELF-PUBLISHED BOOK IS A GEM OF LITERATURE, A POTENTIAL BEST-SELLER, A PERPETUAL FOUNTAIN OF REVENUE?

Then why didn't an agent take it?

AGENTS HAVE MUNDANE MINDS, THEY THINK IN TERMS OF PROVEN GENRES, THEY PLAY THE PERCENTAGES. WELL-USED PANDERING TECHNIQUES BEAT OUT LITERATURE EVERY TIME.

I'll play Pilate. What is literature? (Washes hands)

LITERATURE IS UNFORGETTABLE. IT MAKES A NEST IN THE HEART OF THE READER. IT ENLARGES YOU. YOU FEEL AWE AND GRATITUDE.

Well, best of luck, Sophocles. I'm sticking with my vampire romance. There's nothing like a sexy vampire to arouse the teenage girl in me.


Now for something completely different. Written October-November 2016, we proudly present ---


BEFORE THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN

    • First there were the Town Halls.

Then there was the Tea Party.

Then the rise of Donald Trump.

During the televised Town Halls of 2005-10, we saw people rise up in angry confrontations with their congressmen and senators. Their statements were tightly reasoned, tightly focused and internally coherent, but seemed to be based on a set of beliefs that bore no relation to any reality we knew. “Why are you betraying the sovereignty of the United States?” “What have you done to stop sharia law here?” “You should be in jail for treason.” Arrow-point eyes impaled the hapless senators.

Then, in the outdoor gatherings of the Tea Party we saw a broader spectrum of the same accusations, the same dreadfully limited understanding of how things actually work, the same readiness to believe in nonexistent but alarming ‘facts’, and in the conspiracies allegedly behind them. We saw dunce-level mis-joinings of cause and effect. All of this hid behind or opportunistically joined with a concern for the budget and the Constitution --- when it did not parade happily hand-in-hand with them.

Plainly these feelings and opinions were widespread before Donald Trump rode in to harvest them.

Where did they come from?

During the Town Halls, observers --- Jimmy Carter and Chris Matthews --- attributed the inexplicable behavior to ‘racism’. This is largely incorrect. There are other irrationals in this world besides racism.

When the Tea Party arrived, observers credited the Koch brothers’ money with creating a slew of ‘astroturf’ organizations and rousing the rabble. Again, incorrect. Money brought organization to the wild and tangled garden but did not create it.


2

In the 1990’s, people began to listen to talk radio the same way I listened to rock ‘n’ roll radio at the age of fourteen. Back then, I was getting


--- continued ---

Then --- written back in October/Nobember 2016 ---

IF I HAD A WEBSITE . . .

I’d explore the topic of Hillary hatred. On the internet we find a whole range of Hillary-hate, and I do not use the term ‘hate’ lightly --- as many do, using it to stigmatize simple disagreement or reservations about a current dogma. Having reservations is not hate; being reluctant to jump on a particular bandwagon is not hate. To mischaracterize anything from nuanced disagreement to blundering stupidity as ‘hate’ is a favorite liberal sleight-of-hand --- or fallacy --- it is the liberals’ equivalent of the ‘communist’ smear which was the right’s favorite tarbrush in the 1950’s. ‘Communist’ was applied to everything from union activism to simple kindness to common sense.

However, Hillary hatred is real and widespread, and by listening to its enthusiasts and promoters we can gain an insight into the human condition --- a sad and disturbing insight.

Today’s extravaganzas of mischaracterization take me back to the early 1990’s --- to Bill’s first term --- when Hillary was widely portrayed as the communist bitch from hell who was manipulating her amiable dunce of a husband into turning the United States into a communist nation. Nowadays, of course, she is viewed as the capitalist tool whose mission, on behalf of the 1%, is to divert and bury progressives’ hopes --- all the while enriching herself through bribery and favoritism. And, of course, LYING about it all. That’s a long journey to make in one lifetime.

Let us start at the bottom. “Hillary is a lying cunt, she should be taken out and shot.” Posters of this type are usually on the right. They go on and on, a phonograph needle stuck in one groove, and squeeze repeated pleasure from finding new and inventive ways to acid-scald their target. It reminds me of


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I'd do a section called...Curmudgeon

Angry, ill-natured old man whacks you with his cane & vents because the world has changed without his permission & he doesn’t know what the hell to make of this menagerie


1: the High Five

For two decades now I have perched in the DJ box on Friday and Saturday nights, spinning CD’s. I play the lounge singers; the saxophone heroes;


--- continued ---

And one of particular interest to democratic socialists

VENEZUELA

What are we going to do about Venezuela?

Our hearts grew proud and big with Hugo Chavez. We watched as the international coup-plotters went down in flames, rejected by the people of Venezuela and defeated by their righteous fury. All so beautiful. Our hearts were the open heart of Jesus, a Jesus no longer turning the other cheek.

And now we watch the


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I’d promote unceasingly

ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA

1

Times change. But once, time slowed and change crawled.

Once, there were the corner grocery, and wooden houses; big trees for climbing; backyard vegetable gardens, and woods within easy bicycling distance. And no danger. Once mama sent us to the corner store with one-dollar bills and some change wrapped up in them. Once our dad taught us how to change spark plugs;


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