Saturday, September 19, 2009

Meanderings: A Tapestry of Sorts

The evening started with a most enlightening view of Chicago inbreeding on Beck's show, followed by a Lifetime movie. I'm sure you know the kind. You're channel surfing, and you pass LMN. Don't pause, not even for a moment, otherwise you wind up watching a two hour potboiler about some woman being abused by her husband, lover, or in tonight's movie, her shrink.

Afterward, one channel away was a movie about Georgia O'Keefe. This week's opus followed one last week about Dorothy Parker. Initially, I envied them both, not their talent, but the entree into circles with interesting people, the achievement. I've been on the what-have-I-done-with-my-life kick lately, or more to the point- what haven't I done with my life. I console myself with a thought I picked up reading Woolf's To the Lighthouse that somehow domesticity, the pull of family, hampers achievement. Only as I learn more about O'Keefe's painful marriage, I have to rethink my previous supposition.

The other day I discovered that someone I know in passing is in an unhappy situation. My first thought was to blurt out "Leave him now when you are young, so you won't realize thirty years down the road that you sacrificed your life to his dysfunction and are left with ashes of the life you could have led." I didn't say anything, however, because as Sherwood Anderson realized, "whatever I said would have been a lie."

That, I guess, is the truth. It is such a nebulous thing. I have friends who envy me for essentially dropping out of the rat race. At the same time I envy their success, their independence. Who knows what choices we make, should make? Of one thing I'm sure, we are called upon to make such life shaping decisions when we are least suited to, when the fever is in the blood and reality is yet to bare its teeth.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Art of Politics

New George Will column on the NEA brouhaha as symptomatic of "the Obama administration's incontinent lust to politicize everything." What a turn of phrase! How true.

Will has hit the nail on the head. Was it objectionable that the President was to address school children and exhort them to do well in their studies? No. But the accompanying study materials, put out by the Department of Education, made clear a political agenda. In the case Will cites, powers at the National Endowment for the Arts sought to use the recipients of their largess to advance the Obamian agenda. It is amazing that none of those in charge at the NEA seem to grasp that turning their organization into the propaganda wing of the administration was not only unseemly, but wrong.

This tone deafness is symptomatic of this administration, which seems to be unable to see beyond the person of the President, which assumes that no one could object to the glorification of same. It is this cult of personality thing, the insidious infusion of all things Obama into all things, that is truly scary, that has thousands massing at the Capitol.

So read the column....just the swipes at the art world make it worthwhile. Ever been to the top floor at MOMA?

Patrick Swayze: End of an Era

Contrast the media treatment of Patrick Swayze's death to that of Michael Jackson: disappointingly little appeared on the news about Swayze's death compared to the wall to wall coverage of Jacko's. Too little vs too much.

Yet to the cuspers, I suspect, Swayze's death was more personal. Although it came out in '87 something about Dirty Dancing was emblematic of our generation. It could be that Baby's travails, her movement toward adulthood with its attendant loss of innocence, reflected our own. Never great art, it has stood the test of time.

And Mr. Swayze? His courage and determination to live make his demise all the more poignant. RIP.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Healthcare: Riddle Me This

There are lots of things about the present healthcare situation that confoose me. For instance, as good ol' gal Coulter points out in her umpteenth column about liberal healthcare lies, why can my employer deduct the cost of my health care on his taxes; but if I have to pay my own, I cannot? Or in the marketplace, why is it that if I cannot afford health insurance or if I pay my own, that is... have more of a catastrophic plan, I have to pay out of pocket, say, $200 for a procedure. If, however, I am fortunate enough to have an employer type plan in which I pay 20% of the very same procedure, I pay not $40 but $20, because the insurance provider deems the procedure to be worth $100. I understand they negotiate, but in effect the people with the least coverage are charged twice as much. Maybe these are some of the things that need remedy. Duh.

Bearing Witness

I am reminded that Jung did not believe in co-incidence when I mull the events of the past week. The theme emergent there is one of remembrance. There was first and foremost the anniversary of the 9/11. Then there was that rather odd day when I had the encounter with the gentleman dying to visit Cuba "before it changes." That evening as I started to regale the hubster with the story, he stopped me. "Don't tell me," he said. "I can top that."

Seems he was at a job in a tres exclusive building. The condo was being renovated, so the electrician was there, so was his wife. At first, he was elated to discover they were Cubans from the island. In the course of the conversation, she must have raised the issue of my visiting the benighted island. My beautifully trained husband said, "Oh, no, she won't go as long as the dictatorship is in power." She not only countered with "She's wrong. The Spaniards have done wonderful things, beautiful hotels...," but more importantly that her family supported the system. Precataclysm they had nothing.

"And what do they have now?" I interrupt. "What are they doing here anyway?' You know the drill. Remembering my own experience that day the larger point dawned on me and depressed me to no end. Of all the things that have been lost in this night that never sees the day is the truth. The generations which lived and worked in the old Cuba are dead or dying, both here and on the island. The propaganda machine has been working full tilt for over a century.

It's as if a huge chunk of Cuban reality has been excised. Those who grew up in the system know nothing else. Those outside can not possibly imagine that Hispanics were capable of creating a country which, despite its very real problems, rivaled many Western European nations. No one cares about those very credible statistics Fontova cites. Their bigotry colors their perceptions. To their eyes, Cuba was a third world country, not Cuba was a developing nation that has been dragged relentessly backward.

It was in this context that I came across some mail from the Cuba Archive. Now that provided some comfort. Visit here. Thanks to their efforts at least some truth of what took place will be told. It reminds me of I Was Cuba, the volume of photos from the Ramiro Fernandez collection, which was started at his grandmother's suggestion as a way to keep his Cuba alive. For in the end all we can do to carry on the legacy of our parents is to bear witness.