Hollis MacDonald — Missing From The MIA


Wherever I go I love to visit art museums.  A museum’s collection reflects the values of a community, what people hold dear.

In my home town we have the Minneapolis Institute of Art with its world class world view.  A little of everything, from pre-ancient to post-modern, each piece is an example of the highest quality.  Its Rembrandt may be the finest in North America.  The Van Gogh is among his best found anywhere.  The eclectic quality of the extensive collection makes the MIA an ideal teaching museum.

My grandchildren, girls now eleven and nine, lived in Europe and when I visited them I took them with me trekking through galleries of works of humanity’s enduring beauty.  They are children after all and I would rather not they grow up with memories scarred by forced-marches with Granpa, so I limit our tours to their own spans of engagement.  They are resilient and curious children and they have been known to go more than two hours before showing temperaments of disenchantment.  I tend to lead them to something they might have seen on a poster or in a book, like Mona Lisa, or a place they might recognize, like Venice or Rome, or by someone they may have heard of, like Pablo Picasso, and from there we wander, room to room, pausing to gaze at whatever attracts the eye, and we keep moving, flowing along towards the next attractive thing, and the next.  They read the wall didactics out loud.  They are home now and we keep up our museum field trips in the Twin Cities where there are several, and they are familiar enough already with the MIA to lead me around to what they care to see first, and next, and eventually we get lost at a place they never been before we find our way out.  Some museums you can see the whole thing in an hour or two.  The MIA asks return visits.  There’s enough in there to sustain wonderful wonder.

Could The Heart But Know The Way     1967                 oil on canvas    51 x 45″

In my twenties, decades ago, I used to have a job at the MIA making AV programs in the education department.  The size and floor plan of the place has doubled at least since then, and even if the core of its collection is familiar to me the layout has changed with additional gallery space and we easily get lost, which is to say Granpa doesn’t exactly know his way around any more.  When I worked there the museum had just undergone a vast expansion to enable it to expand its collection, put on more and bigger special exhibitions, and pursue a goal of open storage, showing its whole collection instead of keeping a lot of it stashed in storage out of sight.  I was telling this to Clara and Tess, my grandkids, lost again trying to find our way out down a stair route somewhere on the periphery, when I recognized a wall as a remodeled area that used to be my office.  The kids paid little interest since the actual office didn’t exist any longer, there was nothing to see but a wall.

And it was time to go.  Later, thinking about memories of that office, I remembered the painting hung on my wall: Could The Heart But Know The Way by Hollis MacDonald.  This painting was something tangible I could show the kids to illustrate my granpa story next time we visit the MIA.

It hung in the office of the head of docents where I first saw it.  The image stunned and soothed me at the same time.  Sinister and celestial.  Playful yet dangerous.  Foreboding but hopeful.  Burnished etherial colors defined eccentric concentric and opposing shapes seen from a perspective of space probe geometry.  I passed by that office at least a dozen times a day.  When the head docent left for a job back east the painting went away to deep storage.  The new occupant preferred Hudson River School.  Gallery space was precious.  The focus of the paintings collection did not favor contemporary modern and even within this narrow niche this painting was not considered critical to the curator, who was more interested in the 17th century, as I recall.

The artist was from Minnesota, an unknown with sketchy baggage.  They said he was once a great star who went to New York expected to impact the scene like Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and David Hockney but something happened — nobody said exactly what but they described it kindly as a nervous breakdown — and he returned to Minneapolis broken and bitter, beaten, disillusioned, unfulfilled and sad, a hasbeen nobody.  His style fell out of fashion.

I didn’t care.  I liked the painting.  When I learned it was in deep storage I asked the registrar if it could be put in storage on my office wall.  A day or so later a guy from the crew measured my wall and the next day the crew hung the painting.  If no one else wanted it, I did.

It was bigger than I remembered from the docent office.  The title made no sense to me.  I all but forgot the artist’s name.  The painting endowed my often harried office with sublime serenity.  Sincere serendipity.  Innocent bliss.  Naive iterations.  To me it was an undiscovered masterpiece.

A year or so later I enrolled in a theater arts class at the university.  One slushy autumn day I was loitering in the commons of the theater arts building on the West Bank campus when a bearded guy several years my senior wearing a wool knit hat and coveralls came in from the inclement outdoors wheeling a bicycle.  He was the building’s maintenance engineer.  Being a smartass I made reference to a sign that said no bicycle parking indoors and he shot me a look that melted my spine like who the hell are you.  “This is my building,” he said as he passed me by.  I looked at his name badge.  Hollis MacDonald.  “Wipe your feet when you come in here.”  He walked his bike across the commons to his office.

He was almost there by the time I realized who he was.  By then it seemed unseemly to chase after him at the moment.  The more I thought about it I didn’t want to risk embarrassing either of us by suddenly coming on like I knew his life story, coming on like a suck-up — something told me he despised suck-ups.  I hoped for another better chance to chuff him about his art without invading his privacy, stalking him or implying I felt some kind of cosmic connection to him, but the semester ended and I never saw him again at work at the U.

untitled     1960s

Another few years later, still the 1970s, I was driving on W 26th Street, a one way arterial going west across south Minneapolis.  Just past the intersection of 26th and Nicollet Ave (that’s pronounced Niklit) something caught my peripheral eye and made me look in the rearview mirror and see people painting a wall behind the corner building, the Mark Richards beauty salon.  I knew the style in a flash.  I parked the car and went to the scene where Hollis MacDonald directed a crew of kids from Whittier Park painting colors to his designs of hearts and arrows against a whitened wall facing the alley and the parking lot.

Hollis seemed more congenial than when we first met, but he made little eye contact and kept his attention focused on the project on the wide wall.  I’m sure he did not remember me.  Still bearded and gnarly, now he was outdoors on a summer day and instead of coveralls he wore shorts and a tee shirt paint stained.  Concentrating on his wall he barely suffered this fool’s interruption for long, even if all I could do was praise what I was seeing.

He gave orders to the kids through a staff of teenagers who acted as camp counselors instructing the day campers what Hollis wanted them to paint.  There was a knurled modesty about him and a light in his deep set eyes while he bossed the kids and explained what they were doing.  He was having fun.

I admired the mural for decades.  The concentric hearts eventually faded away.  Today I cannot pinpoint exactly when they disappeared.  The mural faced the wrong way on a one way street, so it was hard as hell to see it.  It may as well have been painted on the underside of a bridge.

Ages have gone by.  I wonder what my grandkids would think of the painting once hung in my office.  I went to the MIA website to search the permanent collection.  Museums these days have beautifully accessible websites.  I searched by artist’s name because I couldn’t remember the name of the painting but nothing came up.

Back on the internet I googled Hollis MacDonald and learned he had died two years ago.  I found a picture of the painting and its title.  I searched the MIA website again by paintings by title and got nothing.  I double checked the spelling of MacDonald.  The Google reference to the painting gave its MIA accession number 67.27 (27th work acquired in 1967) and I searched the collection that way and got nothing.  At last I went to the Contact Us page and asked what ever happened to Could The Heart But Know The Way by Hollis MacDonald.

The answer did not come within 24 hours, as many websites promise these days.  The reply arrived after two weeks.

In the meantime I went back to Google.  After forty years forgetting him and respecting his privacy, now I wanted to know all about Hollis MacDonald.  Now that he’s dead.  The whereabouts of his MIA painting unaccounted for in its virtual inventory.  If I hadn’t found a picture of Could The Heart But Know The Way on the internet I would have doubted my memory such a stirring and soothing image actually existed.

He was a real guy.  Born in 1928 in Minneapolis, he grew up near Broadway and Emerson, the city’s near north side.  He served in the army.  He graduated from the Minneapolis School of Art, now known as the Minneapolis College of Art & Design — MCAD — which shares campus and heritage with the MIA.  He earned an MFA from Cranbrook Academy, a fishy sounding name for any grad school to a bumpkin like me but nonetheless an institution called the cradle of American modernism located just north of Detroit.  He worked as a security guard at the MIA — it’s never unusual for working artists to day jobs (or night jobs) at museums — and this was back in the era of the original museum’s footprint, the old McKim Meade & White monticello parthenon, before Kenzo Tenge expanded its architectural consciousness with bold annexes and vast lit gallery space rebuilding the Institute into a formidable exhibition space aimed at the 21st century to come, this the era when I came to work there, long after Hollis MacDonald.

I may have come to work at the MIA at the beginning of its era of cosmopolitan outreach from a burgeoning metropolis, but I came after another golden age era of its director Tony Clark.  All the museum people who knew him spoke about him with a hilarious respect for his aesthetic eye and scholarly integrity.  He was an art historian’s art historian.  On the internet I found a page of criticism Tony Clark wrote as MIA Director:

“These paintings of Hollis MacDonald are genuine landscapes of the imagination, in which nearness is also far, catastrophe and terror are also triumph and serenity.”  He concluded saying the paintings “bear important human testimony.”

untitled     1960s

I found a review by noted Minneapolis Tribune critic John K Sherman dated Sunday, June 6, 1965 describing Hollis MacDonald’s one man show of 30 canvasses at the Bottega Gallery downtown at 8th & Hennepin as “brilliant”.  The critic wrote:  “MacDonald’s large paintings might be called a combination of mystical landscapes and epical still-life — form superimposed on form, leading the eye into deep space while riding on lyrical and nuanced color that makes direct emotional impact.”  Sherman concluded, “It bespeaks an original and seeking mind and gratifying skill, in this day of fuzzy forms and half-stated ideas or suggestions thereof, in clearcut expression and shapes the eye can seize and grapple with.”

These testimonials say why Hollis was expected to make it big in New York City.  If these same voices felt betrayed when he came home a failure, no one extrapolates for the record.  The MIA accessioned — museumspeak for acquired — Could The Heart But Know The Way in 1967.  About the same time the Walker Art Center, MIA’s counterpart and rival specializing in modernism, accessioned a companion piece called The Way Is Not Easy, and at this time they aren’t showing it.

I learned from the internet Hollis maintained a studio in a former concertina repair shop on the fringe of old downtown east.  Other known titles of his paintings from the 1960s include once Again The Fallen and Another Good Soul Goes Under.

The website http://www.mnartists.org provided archival proof of life of this self-kidnapped guy who by all accounts had all the credentials.  Smart.  Deep.  Asked in 1965 about nudes in art, the 37 year old answered, “They’re over worked.  Eveybody’s using them, but few artists are saying much with them.”

I never saw a human figure in any of his paintings.

The Way Is Not Easy     1964  Walker Art Center      oil on canvas   49 x 36″

Concurrent to his brilliant one-man show downtown at the Bottega he was also simultaneously among 95 Minnesota artists exhibited in the MIA’s biennial celebration that year — the MIA celebrated its centennial, two massive expansions later, just this last year.  In a Bottega show interview Hollis was asked about the Institute Biennial and he said, “It’s a good reflection of contemporary sickness.  It’s trying to make a little show of good things instead of showing what’s going on in art locally.”

He may have been speaking truth to power, biting the hand or burning bridges en route to New York City.  In the transcripts of the same interview he showed (off) the irascible edge I recall from my brief encounters ten or twelve years later.

Asked to categorize his paintings he replied:  “You want a label?  Ah… Romantic Expressionism, how’s that?”  In the age of pop art and op art, the guy sounded poised to take on all icons.  Who was this guy?

After Hollis described his mode of painting for the existential moment, the interviewer (unidentified in the transcript — it could have been himself) says, “Then you paint just for yourself and not the viewer?”

“Not exactly…” Hollis replied.  “It’s kind of like making love… you can’t tell when you’re giving and when you’re taking.”

untitled       1960s

After the 1960s until his obituary, which described him as a colorist, there is scant coverage of what happened to him.  No mention of shows or reviews in New York.  No paintings since.  The obituary said he retired from the University of Minnesota but not that he had been a janitor.  He was survived by no wife or children.

An article published in 2009 in mnartists.org called Unsung Alchemist: Hollis MacDonald by Sean Smuda caught up with Hollis in his later years.  Smuda himself an artist, photographer, grew up in a household where his parents owned Hollis MacDonald paintings and didn’t realize who Hollis was until they met as neighbors when Hollis moved into Smuda’s apartment building when Hollis was near 80 years old.

In a reverent and touching profile Smuda befriends the old man and searches the soul of the artist whom he refers to as the alchemist after Hollis’ affection for a book, Fire In The Crucible by John Briggs.  Smuda paints a portrait of a man who lives the “crossroadss of genius and failure” every day.  “Any apologies he makes for himself,” Smuda wrote, “which he does with contradictory frequency, sound like obfuscations, the sort of disappearing-act typically employed by scholars and mystics hopingto obscure their philosophical vulnerabilities.”  Smuda described him as a “gruff mystic who has no need of society, but has a lot to say about it.”

Smuda called him cantakerous and recalled how his parents put up with his company yet spoke of Hollis as a cautionary tale of what might happen if you devote your life to art.  And Smuda sketches in the lost epoch in New York: Hollis broke up with his wife Karen and became a hermit unto his studio, stopped exhibiting and socializing.

This the nervous breakdown the people at the MIA whispered about so loudly.

Smuda likens Hollis’ imagery to Paul Klee.  I see Joan Miro.  Hollis said he admired Arthur Dove.  I wondered about the 30 canvasses from the Bottega show in 1965 and wondered how many paintings of Hollis exist.  Through the internet I can only find six.  Nothing since 1967.

A research librarian at the MIA eventually responded to my inquiry about Could The Heart But Know The Way saying bluntly the painting was deaccessioned in 2014.

I wrote back:  Where is it now?

I hoped it had been sold, donated or otherwise acquired by another museum like the Weisman, somebody who would actually appreciate it and put it on view.  Where my grandkids could see it.

untitled      1960s

Over the next five days a correspondent from the MIA Visitor and Member Services acknowledged the deaccession of the painting but could not account for its whereabouts; then assured me the painting was still in storage at the museum but he did not know the reason for its deaccession.  I asked if he would find out.  And how was its existence tracked?  How can anybody see this painting if it’s in storage but deaccessioned?

Deaccessioned is a synonym for disowned.  Hollis MacDonald disowned by the MIA.  Same year as the artist’s death.  I couldn’t summon the cynical heart to see a conspiracy theory in the making.  The irony seemed all too appropriate though.  Undeserved and unjust but not unbelievable.

Steve from Visitor and Member Services — by now we were on familiar name basis — emailed me:  “The painting is in storage with the artwork that is not on view, and is tracked in our system as any other stored artwork would be.  None of the paintings in storage are available for public viewing.  (Most of our collection is in storage.)

“It appears the previous curator did not feel the piece was relevant to our collection, and suggested it to be deaccessioned.  The accessions committee of museum trustees voted to accept that opinion.  Deaccessioned pieces are typically stored until another institution is found that has interest.  Sometimes deaccessioned pieces are sold.  At this time, no decision about this piece has been made in that regard.”  He concluded our correspondence:  “If I hear more about this painting’s next phase of life, I’ll look up this email chain and let you know.”

Hard to put a sinister bend on such cordiality.

If nobody else wants the painting I’ll take it, hang it in my house.

I don’t understand why Hollis MacDonald is not recognized, why he is obscure.  Do I look at his paintings and fail to observe the irrelevance?  Am I so much bumpkin I fail to see the obvious ugly?

Far as I can find Hollis MacDonald had no criminal record and especially no accusations of sex predation.  Yet the art community of his home town shuns him and his work as if his symbolism and visual memes were not hip enough at least, too heinously commonplace at worst, his moral character vile or pathetic, a moral plagiarist, a failure to act stellar.

All I know about Hollis is hearsay and gossip.  By his paintings I am awed.  I hoped his civil service pension kept him comfortable enough.

I engaged Sean Smuda in correspondence and informed him Could The Heart But Know The Way was deaccessioned from the MIA.  In some way I meant to enlist an ally in case something fishy became of the painting.  Mostly I wrote as a belated fan.  I didn’t want to feel sad for Hollis and I drew comfort knowing Hollis had a friend to the end with Sean.  I asked if Hollis died happy.

“Hollis remained consistently driven and differentiating,” he wrote back, “as though the tough-nut aesthetic, philosophic and social questions that obsessed him could crack open in an explosion rather than a slow reveal.”

photo by Sean Smuda

He kindly assured me Hollis had friends.  His last years he lived in an assisted care facility, as most people do his age.  Sean visited him regularly, and a coterie of social workers befriended him and helped him relax.

A certain middle aged female Presbyterian minister developed a crush on him at his advanced age and they talked metaphysics and God’s beauty.

None of this explains why there’s no evidence he produced any art the last 40 years.  And no evidence he didn’t.

In the folklore of the MIA you would think he would be legend.  Instead he’s disowned.

Sean said there’s interest in a retrospective exhibition but acknowledges it may be years away as these things go.

There’s talk of a body of his work going to the Minnesota Museum of American Art where my Clara and Tess can go view them with me — after they get drivers licenses and register to vote at this rate of attrition.

Hollis left no offspring to remember him or emulate him genetically.  His paintings are all he left this world as what Sean Smuda called his blueprint for others to follow, not a dynasty it appears but a subtle and nuanced tribe of orphaned enigmas.

Of inspiration and essence Hollis himself said, “I try to make a painting… that lives.”








Digitalysis and Hillary Clinton


Used to be the stuff of archives, historians and libraries.  Discovered documents.  Long lost letters.  Musings of the bard.  Caesar’s notebooks.  Leonardo’s Codex.  Dead Sea Scrolls.  Written words, unintended for publication, found among the random mementos of long deceased luminaries, used to go centuries — millennia — until unearthed and analyzed by the scholars.

Now everybody’s e-mail can be trafficked for instantaneous access to pop history.  In real time we can witness pithy deliberations of a political party or governing department.  We can see candidates debate issues and consequences and make policy recommendations.  We can judge their scenarios and make fun of their grammar.  We can watch, listen and read their words and claim to derive insight into their thought processes and motives in advance of any actual history taking place.

Hackers enable you and me to justify our demand to know the inside story.  So gullible for anything labeled True Story, yet so paranoid of being hoaxed, we trust nobody and still fall prone to conspiracy theories when lone wolfs band together.  This is America where we need no pundits or elite intellectuals to interpret data, just give us the data.  The paparazzi of the internet troll day and night.

No wonder Hillary Clinton kept her own server at the State Department.  Who trusts the privacy security of any government intranet platform right now, even the FBI?  Classified may not mean mishandled or abused.  The innuendo of something going on will affect the vote.  Unanswered allegations taint the fact that all the e-mails in question remained perfectly secure and confidential until the FBI hacked them open.

Between the earliest days of Edward Snowden and the pursuit of Anthony Weiner, the secret reach of government into the cybersphere is well known and accepted as a working meme of the 21st century.  It is an unfortunate irony that Hillary Clinton’s fate entwines with Weiner.  The words Clinton and Weiner in the same story don’t connote well even if their denotations couldn’t be further apart.  You can bet Donald Trump has his own server and always will.

FBI Director James Comey is famous for his stance for civil liberty by his opposition to provisions in the renewal of the Patriot Act authorizing covert domestic surveillance.  He’s also clashed with hardware makers over back door encryption access to data banks on computer devices used by criminals.  Using a proper search warrant to examine a laptop seized from an unrelated federal investigation he — we can say it is he here because he is the director and has made a public statement via Congress that an investigation is in progress — is examining a trove of e-mails pertaining to Hillary Clinton to determine if any of these missives in any way show willful treachery against the United States of America, which is what her political opponents charge is already true.


650,000 is a lot of e-mails.  It’s amazing that a laptop computer has memory capacity to store so much information.  Think of future historians poring over unearthed memory chips.  What will they think of our middle class ponderings?  What the FBI determines from Huma Abedin’s e-mail isn’t being challenged as spousal privilege, focused only on her communication with her boss doing government business.  They bureau is looking for messages sent and received through a non-government server that are of a secret nature — state secrets — and determining whether these secrets were conveyed deliberately by said private server to intentionally secure the information against a government secured server.

Most of what what one expects to find is Good Morning Boss, How Goes…  But what if on a bad day in an unguarded moment of passion somebody wrote somebody they are so glad they’re on a private server secure from government control because government servers are constantly getting hacked from without and within, would that get leaked to the media?

Recall the days of J Edgar Hoover when we used to worry about being subject to mail cover surveillance for opposing the Vietnam war.  We used to talk in code about reefer on the phone because we were paranoid of being tapped.  Those days are gone the way of hijacking the Pony Express.

As a portable laptop today sports the computer capacity it used to require a unit the size of a house in the days of J Edgar Hoover, so advanced are the means of surveillance.  Algorithmic software programs seek and sort megamega information like lightning.  James Comey risks his own top secret technology when he can confide to Congress before the election that the e-mails were reviewed and nobody broke the law so let’s end the innuendo and put away this notion of e-mail criminality.  It won’t end, though, even if the FBI gets hacked and all the e-mails go public.

Spyware is bad, invades privacy, compromises individual liberty and corrupts personal identity.  Spyware is good when it catches perpetrators of evil.

Malware is really really bad, like home invasion and kidnapping for ransom.  Malware is good when it disrupts evil regimes and despots who plot catastrophic goals.

State Secrets are what undid the Soviet Union, specifically the government’s increasing inability to control information.  Globalization and its culture without borders has democracized knowledge in a cacaphony of tongues never witnessed before on the planet, bringing immense potential for shared understanding.  Yet bad political leaders seek new ways to control propaganda, manipulate information, censor criticism and consolidate power over cybersphere, which is all data and all media.

If this historic presidential campaign means anything it foretells the power of metadata in daily life.  E-mail, Facebook and Twitter.  (Remember when DOS was the name of a computer language you had to learn for work?  Now it’s an acronym for denial of service.)  A candidate openly invites hackers to go after his opponent’s computers, so what would stop him from using the power of the presidency to hack your computer or mine?  He questions the validity of the election process, casts aspersions on the privacy of the voting system and scorns the honor system as if he knows personally how to rig the outcome, and he is believed without proof because, like metadata itself, it’s out there.  He implies he will use the means to track every undocumented immigrant and deport them.  He says he doesn’t know if the Russians hacked the DNC or not, but he admires the governing methods of Vladimir Putin.  In the digital hands of Donald Trump the cybersecurity of the modern world could go nuclear.

Hillary Clinton called half of his supporters a basket of deplorables.  Soon we will see a measure of just how big that basket is and who will beg to identify with that other half.  The deplorables are not the same as les miserables though they will self-select themselves in the aftermath of the vote and make themselves evident by their behavior after inauguration day.  Maybe it isn’t half of them, but there is a basket of people who side with Trump for deplorable reasons.  They will push their point of view and demand attention.  Like caesar on a balcony, Donald Trump rallies crowds with the ghost of George Wallace, mobilizing jackboots and evoking law and order while inspiring vigilantes, and it scares me what a society or world order it portends — terrifies — terrorizes me.


Hillary campaigns like the nerd girl running for student council.  I try to get inside the heads of those who despise her.  Like hacking into their mindsets.  What’s the grudge?  Who is she to them and what has she done and what does she symbolize that makes her the enemy of the state to so many people?  Are liberal public servants deplored as a class by a certain class?  Maybe not, as her detractors trend across all social classes.  It’s the liberal philosophy Hillary Clinton epitomizes that her craven critics deplore.  It’s the professional public servant who preaches social justice and equal opportunity who wrote It Takes A Village and espouses principles of community cohesion.  She sees government as an instrument of progress towards a better society and a better world based on enlightenment as a way we govern ourselves as a free society.  She believes all people should have health care insurance.  She sees our infrastructure as a path to environmental sustainability and jobs, believes in peace through diplomacy, and realizes that the good standard of living and exceptional prosperity of the USA isn’t cheap and the cost of sustaining and growing a vibrant and fluent middle class has to be shared by taxpayers who benefit most from the economy and make the most money.  She has given speeches to Wall Street, and why not, they’re a powerful institution like the FBI.  It’s not about the little people unless you call out the big people.  Hillary Clinton expressed a vision of borderless trade — free commerce around the planet — this includes unimpeded internet — and if not as mighty as I Have A Dream, it seems a modest version of Imagine There’s No Heaven, Above Us Only Skies.


When supporters of Donald Trump say this country is going the wrong direction I am alarmed and don’t understand what that means.  It suggests we should reverse ourselves and go back.  We should reverse civil rights.  We should unfund education, shrink our economy, reduce productivity and decrease jobs.  Roll back regulations protecting air and water quality and prohibit shady financial dealings and prevent monopolistic predatory practices in the consumer marketplace.  It suggests a return to subsidizing coal mines.  When I hear people say the country is going the wrong direction and Donald Trump will make America great again, I wonder what is so wrong with who we are that people cannot see how great it already is.

Troubling enough the negative direction Donald Trump leads this country.  Presumably the other basket of his supporters are afraid of him — afraid if he wins he will fire them if they don’t join his locker room fraternity.  When he said he preferred war heroes who weren’t captured, someone should have said they preferred businessmen who didn’t cheat workers and investors and go bankrupt.  Who ever heard of a business that actually used a tax cut to actually create a job instead of padding profits and dividends?  No one should earnestly suggest hacking his tax returns, invading his privacy, not even for the sake of history.

His word is no good.  He should not be elected.


History gets written by victors, they say.  Today thanks to mega-metadata we’re always on the verge of history.  The verge of victory.  We talk of living on the right side of history as if we truly know what historians will say about us in the future.  We anticipate — those of us who see ourselves inching the right direction — for all our flaws we will strive for that more perfect union.  We shall overcome our deplorable history of slavery and subjugation of native peoples as evidence of mistakes never to make in the future.  Even white women were not allowed to vote until 1920 — that’s less than 100 years ago in a country 240 years old.

In less than a week we should elect Hillary Clinton the first woman President of the United States.  That would be cool.

History could be determined by the intercession of the FBI.  Wouldn’t that be huge.

Que sera.




Summer’s gone.  Been wearing long pants for a week.  Socks and shoes.  Slippers.  It’s hard to let go of that season of balm, lush green, iridescent flora, sultry breezes and the scent of earth and fresh water.  Life at the 45th parallel, far from ocean beaches but surprisingly close to freshwater seas, thrives and throbs with such glorious grace it’s like eden and heaven incarnate, with Utopia and Elysian fields and Atlantis mixed in for good measure.

Summer here is so nice we celebrate it early, set out the yard furniture and wear short sleeves as soon as the snow melts and the lawn greens up for the first mow and ice is off the lakes.  Trees barely bud and the lilacs hardly bloom when we hear those pre-dawn songbirds, windows open, our pith and sap run like rivers, and spring it may be to y’all by your calendar or market cycle, in the hearts of Minneapolis it’s already summer.  The next months only get better.  We prolong summer in every way.


The daylight aspect, after all, declines from June 21, when civil twilight in the morning commences about four a.m. and evening twilight fades after ten at night on a clear day.  There’s as much daylight November 1 as February 8, least of all December 22, and in that span there isn’t much to illuminate outdoors that isn’t gray.  No wonder all the colored lights.  Winter alas is otherwise a prison sentence of light deprivation and hard labor in a hell of subzero cold — Celsius and Fahrenheit combined.  Kelvinville.  Essentially you serve your sentence with good behavior.  Go to work, go to Target, celebrate some holidays, try to keep busy and warm, make your own fun, pay your bills and try to live as routine and normal life as possible by acting as if this cold habitat inflicted upon us by our ancestors or employers isn’t so bad, just a minor inconvenience compared to X (insert your favorite worst place in the world) and this is a just penance for the privilege of miraculously living in the best place on the planet the other nine months.

Serve your sentence — be sure to get your time in the exercise yard.  Serve your time and get out feeling righteously entitled to be free again.  Liberated.  Exceptional.  Mid-sentence escape to Mexico, fly over the wall free on bail, for a scent of outdoor flowers, get wind of open air music and taste food cooked near the ocean, get extradited back after Valentines Day.  Serve the rest of your sentence getting your mind right until spring springs you out of the slammer of winter.  Another year when you walk free like a political prisoner convicted of civil disobedience.


Fall comes.  Like sudden cones in a construction zone everything goes all blaze orange.  Pumpkins deck the terrain in every direction like an occupational army.  It’s sad to realize soon you will be under arrest again.

It isn’t so much the kids are back at school as seeing them wear coats at the bus stops — when kids wear coats and jackets there’s a sign it’s getting nippy outdoors.  Clip the deadheads in the garden.  Tasseled prairie grass looks like overripe wheat.  Time to bring indoors the hibiscus and potted palm from the front porch.  No frost yet — unusually late — the nights gradually chill down and the days don’t catch up.

Funny how a 50F degree day in March feels so warm but so cold in October.

Get out the woolly hats.  Sweater.  Layers.


Brilliant slanted sunlight inflames the arbor life of the cityscape and all over the countryside so the forests everywhere go allout strange.  Foliage so lush and green goes reluctantly ablaze.  Oaks go red, maples golden and all shades orange, lindens and elms left after the Dutch Elm plague go gold.  Amazing how the photosynthesis stops and the chlorophyll goes away, the decomposition and decay begins, and yet the trees never look more alive.  Stunning.

A friend summarized it’s no wonder autumn colors inspire photographers and painters to replicate such scenes as we commonly see in northern America in our woods.  I’m reminded of the Barbizon school of painters, Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet.

Then, just as sudden but predictably inevitable, beneath skies gloomy gray from a sun unseen somewhere slanted south, a light not so much up there as over that way, the leaf colors dim to beige and brown.  The wind picks up and leaves cascade in the air with gusto like it’s raining postage stamps.  Leaves blanket the lawn like a jagged parquet floor.  Leaves clutter the sidewalks like patchwork tattered welcome mats.  Leaves blend in with what is left of the garden.  Trees go naked and gray.  The silvertone sky shows through the skinny limbs.  Surrender the leaves.  Time for rakes and bags.


I remember my kids playing in piles of leaves when they were little.  I miss that.  I miss being younger and more fit to the chore of raking the lawn in the fall, look at myself advancing in age, grudgingly declining in stamina and dexterity, considering a future when I might have to give it up and hire a service — not just the leaf raking but shoveling snow off my sidewalks, which comes next.  Not so much eden or heaven.  Speaking of life and art, the thought of shoveling snow reminds me now of Marcel Duchamp and his piece called In Advance of the Broken Arm.  Cue icy cold wind.  Shudder.

In Advance of the Broken Arm, Marcel Duchamp 1915

This is mainly a grid city of avenues and streets.  I live on a corner.  Today they are sweeping my cross street and there are No Parking signs on the boulevard poles allowing the sweeper trucks and zamboni looking vehicles to mop the gutters as well as thoroughfares.  Three, four five pass throughs.  Good to see my city taxes at work.  It’s funny as long as I remember as long as my wife and I have lived at this homestead, the street sweep of the cross street has ever been scheduled too soon in the fall: most of the leaves in this wooded neighborhood and my yard are still up in the branches of the trees and don’t fall en masse until about five days after the sweep.  I imagine some other neighborhood gets swept clean after the peak fall, but my street (not always my avenue) goes all winter with leftover leaves smutched into icy pavement.  It’s not pretty.  I suppose now that I am at a certain stage of my life with time on my mind if not my hands to contemplate such things maybe I could pester city hall to swap out my street’s annual fall street sweep pushed back two weeks, shall I say to satisfy my own obsessive compulsive sense of order.

No.  Nature will take its course, of course.  My responsibility to civic duty is to keep my homestead up to code, so to speak, and said chores are enough if not entertaining.


In the stillness of an autumn afternoon, no hurry to see the brown leaves fall, no hurry to see another Sagittarius birthday, it’s so hard to let go of summer.  Was it just this summer, or do I go through this every year?  Or is it this fall — is it falling harder on me than ever?  Time for a little cognitive therapy, and time for a little zen.  Replace the screen windows with the storm windows of glass and think how many years we’ve done this.  How many more?  Supposedly smart wise intelligent and hip people plan ahead for such contingencies, so perhaps I should bone up on these essential questions of existence.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda.  Might, maybe, oughta.  Wanna, gonna, go.

Rockenroller as I claim to be, it’s the voice of Frank Sinatra I hear in my head — a guy of my father’s generation — singing that last verse of that song A Very Good Year about the days grow short, the autumn of my years, and I see it playing on a hi-fi turntable in my mind, the Reprise label going round and round, and try to put a good spin on it.

Seems like yesterday my son went trick or treating in the Halloween Blizzard dressed as the Punisher.  Winter came really early that year.  Leaves froze on the trees and lawns and in the streets like tannic popsicles.  We got through it.  They sweep the streets again in the spring.  Summer comes back.


Naughty Words

Dred Scott

I truly hate to use the word nigger, even in my personal journal, but there’s no way to talk through the word without using it.  Just calling it the N word doesn’t do it justice.

We were not allowed to say it at home, and it was not allowed in the neighborhood where I grew up, or at school.  Not at home for very good reason because it was offensive to people we were close to, and it was a naughty word.  In the neighborhood it was almost as bad as fucker (you put a mother in front of that one and you might never see the light of day again) but worse than shit or asshole combined, and any kid who said it could get called in or sent home for a licken and a virtual mouth wash with soap, and the rest of us forbidden from playing with that kid for a while.

At school you could get expelled, or at least slapped.  The nuns at St Simon of Cyrene tried to teach us basic civility.  One nun cleverly baited a notorious badboy in class by using the word niggardly.  When the badboy predictably snickered, sister asked him if he knew what niggardly meant, and he replied, “To be black.”  For the whole class — we were all white, of course, and properly shocked — the nun defined the word, and I recall thinking, oh great, now there’s license for the local knuckleheads to go around referring to stingy people as niggards.  You know how kids seize new words.  But nothing more came of it.  That nun knew exactly what she was doing.

When referring to race, out of respect, we were encouraged then to refer to black people as negroes  — a term now reserved for that baseball league where their great players played before Jackie Robinson made it to the majors.  Some still used the word colored and insisted they meant no disrespect, only being descriptive.  We were race conscious then, our biases were challenged, and we grew up aware of how privileged we were to be white.  How lucky we were to be northerners free from the stains of slavery that corrupted the white people who lived down south.  (Never mind Dred Scott.)  We were proud that black people could move up here and escape the hate, like we could share desegregation as if sharing our abundant water supply.

Of course we were very naive.  Few of us really knew any real black people.  I did — my dad had connections — and I could vouch for their positive character.  There was every reason to imagine they were every bit as cool as the Four Tops or the Supremes.  Willie Mays.  Sidney Poitier.  It seemed only charitable to give a helping hand to those less fortunate who were just starting out in our Great Society.  Some of us speculated that Dr Martin Luther King Jr would be president by 1980.  Maybe that’s why he got shot.

There were no gangs back then shooting up the streets with guns.  Not here.  As if we knew.  From the perspective of our Roman Catholic parish where I grew up, it looked like a sure bet by the time we grew up and got jobs, got married and had our own kids, the whole subject of racial discrimination and segregation would be settled forever in our future culture, and America would be way advanced in leading the world (as opposed to the commies) in matters of peace and justice.  There was every reason to believe the conflict of race relations we saw in the news would be solved in our lifetime, we shall overcome.

What went all Robert Burns gang aft a gley can best be attributed to the magnitude of forces unforeseen and unintended that clash and contend endlessly for righteous power in this complexly indifferent universe.

In other words, the real world is composed of elements that cohese and conflict, realign and repel, and no social order ever emerged is perfect.  With adolescence came encounters with contradictions, awareness of conditions subversive of my privileged kumbaya.

Medgar Evers

Bob Dylan sang, “A bullet from the back of the bush took Medgar Evers’ blood.”

It was appalling to see race riots.  One was forced to examine the point of view of people so outraged they burn down their own neighborhoods.  Weren’t things going well?  I guess not.

Venturing into the real world I heard that word nigger again.  Used with the same defamatory pith as the kid who called me one because he thought in the heat of the moment I was worse than a shitty asshole, almost a fucker.  Used it the way we imagine nazis spoke of Jews.

Later, liberation language co-opted the word to symbolize anybody oppressed, as in the thesis The Student As Nigger, or the phrase I ain’t your nigger.  Comedians jumped on it for discomforting laughs.  An ex-Beatle and his Japanese-born spouse recorded a song called Woman is the Nigger of the World.  Cavalier work crews might refer to the foreman as the HNIC — Head Nigger In Charge.

Meanwhile Amos ‘N’ Andy and Disney’s Song of the South were withdrawn from public view as entertainment that shamed their white producers and predominately white audiences as well as the black characters portrayed in the stories.

There was Black Like Me, a confessional written by a white guy who used a pharmaceutical to darken his skin so he could pass for black to go undercover to experience being black so he could write a book.  Norman Mailer published his essay the White Negro to describe the phenomenon of white hipsters counter-assimilating black culture.  This accounted for Allen Ginsburg and Elvis Presley, and presaged Eric Burdon and Eminem.

How do you expect people to react when Charles Manson interprets the Beatle song Helter Skelter to predict a race war?

Ralph Ellison became highly visible.  To Kill A Mockingbird placed the onus of racism on the heads of white education.  Does everyone know by now why the caged bird sings?  Cornell West reminds us Race Matters.  Malcolm X urged people to do liberation by any means necessary.  Muhammad Ali fought the system.  With his Soul On Ice Eldridge Cleaver reminds the persecuted to know where your shoes are at all times.  FUBU came into fashion.

The term African American emerged as the preferred moniker for common polite discourse.  Polite discourse remains possible.  People of color replaced colored people.  Negro — that baseball museum in Kansas City.  Black is most common.  Black is ever the new black.

Rap music and hip hop reclaimed ownership of the word nigger, as in NWA — niggers with attitude.  Sometimes you see it spelled niggah.  The word is locked in a tabernacle of niggardly utterance.  Maybe it’s good riddance, but not to the point of censorship of Mark Twain in public schools.

What now, and what next?

A legacy of organized street narcotics marketing, dramatized in the mafia conference scene in the Godfather, has fostered lost generations of career criminals, addicts and prison lifers.  Any wonder why some call us white devils?

Some law enforcement officers behave with deadly force as an extension of the mentality of bring the fire hoses and sic the dogs.  There are bad guys in the bunch.  The rest attempt to keep the peace in the face of defiant criminal exceptionalism, facing death.

Black gunslingers spray bullets all over the place, and it’s not for a righteous cause or to prove black lives matter.  It’s hate on hate — hate crimes, not even crimes of indifference or ignorance, or accident of birth.

Lawless defiance, vigilantism and brutal police tactics, along with palpable disregard for life by individuals within black communities, have made black lives madder.  And madder.

All this from the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and all the indignities of disparities, despicable repression, cruel history — add it all up and who wouldn’t have an attitude?

Say it loud…


Black people, please don’t be mad at me.  How I was brought up I would have gladly given up my seat on the bus to Rosa Parks, and probably have, countless forgettable times but didn’t take credit for doing an obviously courteous thing.  You know what I mean.

I’m a white guy trying to live right and do right by my fellow human beings.  I try to atone for wrongs inflicted in any way by me, bearing in mind the core of the Serenity theme of knowing the difference between what is my own responsibility and what is not.  I vote.

I’ve tried to raise my own kids to embrace an open humanity and live by codes if integrity and justice.

I am sorry for the conditions that provoke the confrontations and the antipathy based on race.

No words can express how bad I feel.

My desire is not to shush anybody.

I want an end to the madness, a cease in the fighting words, a civil dialogue to replace the need for civil disobedience.

I want to feel more than a sense of Dred when the race card is in wordplay.  We’re all players.  Everyone at the table has a stake.  Let’s begin with a code of civil conduct that does not justify reprehensible behavior.

What you see is what you get.  Say what you will.  Tell it like it is.  Address the violence.  Stop disparate treatment.

(I know — cure the sick, raise the dead.  Or raise the sick, cure the dead.)

Or damn us all if we don’t listen to our own profane words of retribution.  Are we doomed to keep repeating ourselves?

Kids pick up this kind of stuff.

I’m just saying.

Buffalo Kelly Rides Again


As a kid, I packed heat.

I wore a sidearm. Strapped a big iron on my hip, just like Marty Robbins, one of my idols of the day.

As a little boy, nothing made me feel so vital every morning as getting dressed, putting on my cowboy hat and strapping on my gunbelt.  A few birthdays and Christmases and I owned quite an arsenal.

Toy guns, of course.  Cast alloy replicas of authentic firearms of the Old West favored by the good guys and bad guys portrayed on TV and in the movies.  Modeled after guns made by Colt, Remington and Smith & Wesson (which I mispronounced Smith & Weston without any adult correction) all made in the scale of a child’s hand.  Some of the metalwork was scrolled along the barrels like they were engraved and finely tooled.  The handles either had some kind of rough grips or were mother of pearl smooth.  The trigger and hammer mechanisms worked with varying smoothness, depending on toy manufacturer – I seem to recall Mattel as being of high quality and most realistic to a discerning kid under eight years old.  And there were the holsters, stitched leather and snug against the hip, belts tooled with cowboy baroque designs and cinched with big bold buckles.  Some holsters had ties for the thighs to facilitate a quicker draw.

How can I reconcile American gun culture without confessing my own complicity?

My earliest TV and movie heroes carried guns.  Hopalong Cassidy.  Gene Autry.  Roy Rogers.  Wild Bill Hickok and his old pal Jingles.  Cisco and Pancho.  The Lone Ranger – my heart still stirs when I hear the 1812 Overture.  Wyatt Earp.  My namesake, Buffalo Bill Cody.

I most liked the ones who favored pistols.  Bat Masterson carried a trick cane.  The Rifleman lacked a certain savoir faire.  Yancy Deringer – not to be confused with Henry Deringer – relied on a sneaky little pistol that reminded one too much of John Wilkes Booth.  Josh Randall the bounty hunter carried a sawed off Winchester carbine, a little overhanded for my taste but kind of cool aesthetically.

Above all I admired the ones who righted wrongs and came to the aid of the downtrodden and the victimized.  Yule Brenner and Charles Bronson’s Magnificent Seven.  Paladin for hire, who dressed as a gentleman in the city and embossed the image of a chess piece on his calling card – for all I knew about chess it might as well have been the jack of spades.  The Maverick brothers, Brett and Bart in nice suits, reluctantly distracted from their livelihoods playing poker to help somebody unfortunate.  John Wayne and Gary Cooper and every epic drama based on a theme called Shane.  Destry Rides Again – a crush on Marlene Dietrich – “and don’t be stingy baby.”

Nothing like a shotglass of Pepsi at the Long Branch Saloon of my dreams after confronting the bad guys of my fantasies in a shootout on the streets of my own personal Dodge City.  Good guys came and went, but every week of every year there was Matt Dillon the US Marshall, the plain spoken righteous quintessential good guy standing tall against the forces of bad in Gunsmoke.  The star, James Arness, was from my own home town.

“Hey Buff, let’s play guns!”

Didn’t have to ask me twice.  Me and my friends, as we used to say before we were taught good grammar, shared for a time a common fanaticism for gunplay.  Dressed in cowboy hats and gunbelts we chased each other around the neighborhood, hiding behind garages and taking cover behind birdbaths, swingsets and sandboxes, all pulling triggers.  We shouted pow-pow-pow and blam-blam to enhance the ambient sound effects.  Then there were caps – paper spools of dots of gunpowder threaded through the chambers of some toy guns like a movie through a projector or like an old school computer punch tape that synchronimously detonated with the impact of the hammer and made a loud explosive crack like a firecracker, obviating any need to verbally pow-pow and bam-bam.  Caps also emitted the burnt aroma of what Francis Ford Coppola in another weapons context would later describe as Victory.  Caps generally annoyed grown-ups and became forbidden long before we were discouraged against pointing our guns at each others faces.  So it continued blam-blam-blam until we all finally gave up our puny pistols for Daisy air rifles and their hefty pump action pop when we evolved to more sophisticated games of combat.


From the early days we did not play Cowboys and Indians.  It was always cowboys and cowboys, or just cowboys.  Nobody wanted to be Indians.  Up north of where we lived we encountered real Indians living in teepees on reservations, and among us guys there was a tacit understanding it seemed wrong to play at persecuting people so obviously picked on and bullied – like picking on someone not your own size.  We weren’t interested in being cowboys either, or cared about horses, saddles, or acting out the humdrum routine of herding cattle.  It was all about posses, and chasing rustlers and thieves and no ‘count polecats and bank robbers.  It was about hideouts, forts and territory, somebody’s back yard.

From there it progressed to cops and robbers as the themes on TV changed.  Gradually the westerns diminished and detectives and private eyes came into vogue, and I acquired a snub-nosed .38 complete with shoulder holster to wear concealed under my Sunday sport coat like Jeff of 77 Sunset Strip – wondering if Kookie would ever graduate from parking cars to getting a license and solving his own cases.

There were experiments with forays into galactic space gunfights with ray guns that generated sparks, the forerunners of phasers, but they didn’t catch on.  We had some fun with water pistols crafted in the designs of Lugers and Berettas, but they had to be refilled with water all the time and we were too impatient to take time outs.

Then came the war movies and TV shows like Combat.  John Wayne went military.  The focus of entertainment went from winning the wild west to refighting and redefeating the nazis in World War II.  Audie Murphy.  That’s about the time me and my friends took up Daisy air rifles.  Me and them, playing jungle war in the wild woodlands of the nature preserve along the swamp they called the lake, that last summer playing guns.  Man that was fun.

I don’t remember any grown ups strictly forbidding us from playing with toy guns.  There was no event transforming our behavior – no one shot out an eye, even though it got darn close when somebody discovered you can pack the barrel of an air rifle with dirt and shoot little mudballs, a practice we made a pact to disavow except at inanimate objects and squirrels.  I don’t recall any formal decree from a parent or authority person telling us to stop playing guns.  Looking back I would hope somebody saw through the fun we were having and saw the crazy violence we imitated and said, we have to stop this.  We just stopped.

Maybe it was like St Paul the evangelist who wrote about putting away childish things.  For me, I cannot point to any transformative revelation.  Nobody said to me, look at what you are doing – you are entertaining yourself pretending to kill people.

Maybe it was sports, or rock and roll.

I never went hunting – men in my life didn’t hunt, except for an estranged grandfather who never got to know me.  The first time I fired a real gun was at summer camp, under strict instruction and supervision.  It was a breech load bolt action single shot .22 rifle fired from a prone position on the ground.  It was scary to shoot a permanent hole in something at a distance, even if it was a paper target.  Later I fired shotguns at cans in the woods, and then at clay pigeons.  I was awed by the force and scared of what could go wrong.  I never got comfortable with the responsibility.

Along with the rest of the toys of my youth, my guns disappeared.  Today they would probably be illegal because they were such faithful replicas and so similar to real weapons.  Whether I chose not to keep them or I just let them get tossed out, the timing coincided with a phased awareness of firepower and death.

Even in my musical soundtrack I can trace awareness of the futility of the life of a gunfighter, from the lessons of the ballads of Marty Robbins – how come the guy from the West Texas town of El Paso sings the song if he ends up dead – and the most blunt cautionary tale from Johnny Cash, Don’t Take Your Guns To Town.  My mom likely presumed I would grow out of it, playing with toy guns, and I did.  By the time the Beatles White Album came out I was ready to be transfixed by the John Lennon song that goes, “Hey Bungalow Bill / What did you kill? / What did you kill?”

In the movies, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid brought the Old West into the 20th Century by deglamorizing gunplay.  On TV the western genre went away in a puff of Gunsmoke.  Doctor shows took over.  Little House on the Prairie and the Waltons cozied in.

And hard news journalism.  There was a bloody war in Southeast Asia.  The whole world watched.

Somewhere in there I got delusions of peace and love.  A yearning for a society and a world without violence.  Seemed doable.

So in my life I never owned a real gun – an admission these days which could cause me harm, I suppose, from somebody who knows I’m unarmed.  Not owning a firearm seems to run counter to the demographic trends that show more and more people are armed with guns in their households and taking advantage of conceal and carry permits.  Do I feel left out?  Not when it comes to having the right to choose not to make up reasons to own a gun.The sense that everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right for me.

It’s a dangerous world.  Agreed.  Cars crash and we are allowed to treat them like toys.  We use cars for transportation and we regulate and license their use.

Violent crime exists, and wars.  Gun crime occurs with appalling frequency.  People arm themselves for protection, I get that.  Fear is a basic motivator.  Self defense is a basic instinct codified as a right and doctrine of law.  If you outlaw guns, the saying goes, only outlaws will have guns – and the police, our hired peacekeepers.  And the armed forces who defend our country, of course, against regimes who would kill us all and trash the Constitution with its Second and all Amendments, all of them armed with guns to use against us supplied by who knows who of the worldwide arms trade.

Like Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee I feel responsible for the gun craze, and I can’t take it back.  I think of kids today and the allure of video games that simulate the killing of human beings more graphically than any kid of the 1950s could imagine, yet there is no proven causal relationship between video games and violent behavior, and this is a free country.  The same could be said of toy guns in my day.

There is a serious worry about the allure of real guns.  The allure of real bang-bang pow-pow.  The illusory intoxicating smell of victory.  Real caps, as in cap your ass.  The empowerment of solving a problem impulsively and with an aura of impunity with guns.  Joining up with others to solve perceived wrongs, take territory, impose ideas and creeds, and change the world with guns.

I look at succeeding generations, and the next ones, and I wish I could reset my example.  Our culture has defined itself repeatedly by legends of the Old West, and what sticks is the image of the gunfighter.  Are we so ignorant that we are doomed to repeat it?  Can this be altered without denying the past?  In the age of Star Wars and Quentin Tarantino?

What comes to mind is advice from Leonard Cohen’s song about the Old Revolution:

“Into this furnace I ask you now to venture/ You whom I cannot betray.”

I know, this brings us back to the beginning.

The other day one of my neighbors held a family picnic, and there were kids all over, sometimes playing in my yard.  One little girl about 8 had a toy gun.  It was bright blue and had a boxy stock with a bright red barrel, and she kept peppering a younger boy with orange nerf bullet projectiles.  At a pool party I recently attended I observed kids shooting one another with colorful toy water guns called Super Soakers, and I heard one kid cry out, “Not my face!”  There must be something primitively hard wired into sisters to torment little brothers by any means at hand.

It was interesting to observe these modern toy guns were conspicuously designed not to resemble in any way a real firearm.  Whether manufactured voluntarily or mandated by some state law or federal regulation, you cannot mistake these toys for the real thing.  The days of little boys running around with replica Colt .45 Peacekeeper Army pistols appear to be over.

If a consensus can be achieved to regulate toy guns for a greater good, rather than try to take them all away, then real grown ups ought to be able to negotiate meaningful regulation of lethal firearms, as if regulating a well regulated Militia.

There Are No True Stories Here

What may ring true or seem true commingles with the creative suppositions of the reader and the subjective sublime of the writer.  There may be facts presented or maybe a pack of lies offered, but no truths.  Just stories.  They may seem realistic.  Or not.  They may evoke fantasy or belie imagination.  Could emote rantings like a false religion.  Might seem to make sense out of no sense at all.  No promises.  There will be stigmas, and stigmata.  Graphomania, apophenia, ekphraisis, pareidolia perhaps, and maybe a smattering of agoraphobia.  Some serious kidding, and maybe a little folderol.  But no true stories here.  Suspend disbelief at your own risk.  Nobody is stopping you from critical thinking.  Welcome to the website of Buffalo Kelly.