Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Poet

He is a link between this and the coming world. 
He is a pure spring from which all thirsty souls may drink. 

He is a tree watered by the River of Beauty, 
Bearing fruit which the hungry heart craves;

He is a nightingale, 
Soothing the depressed spirit with his beautiful melodies; 
He is a white cloud appearing over the horizon, 
Ascending and growing until it fills the face of the sky. 
Then it falls on the flows in the field of Life, 
Opening their petals to admit the light. 

He is an angel, 
Sent by the goddess to preach the Deity’s gospel; 
He is a brilliant lamp, 
Unconquered by darkness 
And inextinguishable by the wind.
 It is filled with oil by Ihstar of Love, 
And lighted by Apollon of Music. 

He is a solitary figure,
Robed in simplicity and kindness; 
He sits upon the lap of Nature to draw his inspiration, 
And stays up in the silence of the night, 
Awaiting the descending of the spirit.

He is a sower 
Who sows the seeds of his heart in the prairies of affection, 
And humanity reaps the harvest for her nourishment.

This is the poet—whom the people ignore in this life, 
And who is recognized only when he bids the earthly world farewell 
And returns to his arbour in heaven.

This is the poet—who asks naught of humanity but a smile. 
This is the poet—whose spirit ascends 
and fills the firmament with beautiful sayings; 
Yet the people deny themselves his radiance.

Until when shall the people remain asleep? 
Until when shall they continue to glorify those who attain 
greatness by moments of advantage? 
How long shall they ignore those who enable them to see the 
beauty of their spirit, 
Symbol of peace and love?

Until when shall human beings honour the dead and forget the living, 
Who spend their lives encircled in misery, 
And who consume themselves, 
Like burning candles to illuminate the way
For the ignorant and lead them into the path of light? 

Poet, you are the life of this life, 
And you have triumphed over the ages of despite their severity. 

Poet, you will one day rule the hearts, 
And therefore, your kingdom has no ending. 

Poet, examine your crown of thorns; 
You will find concealed in it a budding wreath of laurel.
-Khalil, Gibran, "The Poet"

Monday, July 24, 2017

winds of change

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.”
-Chinese proverb

H/T KM

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Don Q...

In short, his wits being quite gone, he hit upon the strangest notion that ever madman in this world hit upon, and that was that he fancied it was right and requisite, as well for the support of his own honour as for the service of his country, that he should make a knight-errant of himself, roaming the world over in full armour and on horseback in quest of adventures, and putting in practice himself all that he had read of as being the usual practices of knights-errant; righting every kind of wrong, and exposing himself to peril and danger from which, in the issue, he was to reap eternal renown and fame. Already the poor man saw himself crowned by the might of his arm Emperor of Trebizond at least; and so, led away by the intense enjoyment he found in these pleasant fancies, he set himself forthwith to put his scheme into execution.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The coldest winter...

"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in Amsterdam."
-Not-Mark Twain

KHVI

‘Oft have I heard that grief softens the mind,
And makes it fearful and degenerate;
Think therefore on revenge and cease to weep.’
-Queen Margaret, in "King Henry VI"

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Local has its privileges

I took an overnight flight to Amsterdam via Detroit.  At check-in, I asked for a window--and then again at the gate, but they said it was full but I had an aisle.  At the moment the doors closed and there was still an empty seat between me and the fellow on the other aisle, we both cheered. "Business class," I said.  Then I noticed an empty row, window and aisle just couple of rows up.  "First class," I smiled.  The flight was not close to full--I guess they just wouldn't part with the moneyed classes.

I watched a wonderful French crime drama called "The Eavesdropper," which sounds even more profound in French...."La Mecanique de l'Ombre."

I wrote already of our beautiful arrival.  We arrived early, just before 6 am, but already light in the Dutch skies.  I helped a nice octogenarian couple off the plane with their suitcases to their airport escort.  I cleared customs and hopped the train into the center, beaming at being back in Amsterdam.

I arrived into Centraal just after 7am, and I headed to my usual stomping grounds at Hotel Beurstraat.  It was too early to check-in, so I left my stuff in storage at the hotel.  I made some initial arrangements for four days with a note. As I scratched the lazy black-and-white cat Figaro, I was told to come back at 11am after the previous day's check-out.

I wandered through the naked and empty streets and canals of Amsterdam.  The bleary Amsterdam crowds all gone to bed, and just the crows remaining to pick at the scattered trash.  I drank coffee after coffee as I beat back the jetlag.

Nearly 11am, I returned to the hotel.  There was a younger Turkish fellow at the desk.  I mentioned my reservation and asked for the usual room with shared bathroom.  I had expected $50 and was prepared for $60.  I had stayed prior earlier in the Spring at 40 euros because I knew Figaro.  I knew it was the middle of high season in Amsterdam, so I thought I was prepared.

Then he said, "320 euros."

"What?!?" I protested.  I explained that I had been coming here for a long time, and it was never that high. I had been here in the high season, and it was never double.

He dug in.  80 euros per night, it is always like this in high season.

I protested.  I was just here just a few months ago for 40 euros, it couldn't have doubled. I know this place, I pointed to the cat and said I even knew Figaro.

There was another couple there about to fork over for their room at 80 euros, and I knew I was stuck at the moment.

He said to ask the owner who was not far away.  I protested, explaining that I was practically a regular.  The owner stayed out of the fray and said of the guy at the counter, "I am the owner, but he is the boss."

So I grumped and said I would think about it as I stormed out (with my stuff still in their storage).

I stopped back in to ask a question, but no one was at the desk.  So I glanced over desk at the ledger and saw the actual prices.  I knew he was full of shit, and just wanted to cheat both me and the other guest who was checking in at  the same time.  I was done.

I asked the other discount hotel on the block, one which I had stayed in once prior, what their rate was.  It was 90 euros for a room with a private bathroom.  I would stay there out of spite if I couldn't do any better.  I would rather pay more for a room with a lil more, than double for a room I had already stayed in.

I got some coffee and tried to find options on the internet but the tablet was slow and dying of power.
So I went with the other cheap hotel on the block.  I chatted with the fellow in charge for a bit, and got him to offer me a deal.  Rather than 90 euros for the night, and 105 euros for the weekend (Fri, Sat & Sun), he could give me the economical room for 80 euro tonight and 90 per night for the weekend.  And now I had options.

The room was not much.  It did have a shower, but had an underground bunker feel despite being on the top floor.  But at least I had a room for the night at the same price as the original.  It felt a little claustrophobic, and it did not get past me that I was technically paying more for it than my preferred room--even being overpriced, so I was slightly cutting my nose.  I could make a final decision the next morning before I either had to check out or buy in.

The day and evening passed.

The next morning, I woke up late with a jet lag haze. I made my way back to the original Hotel Beurstraat, where I would check to see if one of the desk fellow I knew was there.

Sure enough, it was a Slovak fellow who I had met before.  We chatted in Czech for a bit as I played with Figaro.  He had a room for me.  Same room.  It was 70 euros per night, but since I was a regular guest, he knocked 10 euros off per night for the weekend.

So 60 euros in the end.  Because I knew some Czech, and Figaro.

Henry V


"He which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us."
-Henry V

News

I love listening to the news on the radio in Dutch.  I have no idea what the announcer was saying, and I am quite happy with not understanding her words.

Haarlem

Eating toasted pistachios in Willie Wortel, shelling the toasted, glazed nuts as I shed cares.  Just watching the giant Molen de Adriaan windmill spin its giants arms in the midday wind, as trumpets blare in the window and in the speakers above.  The rotating arms are hypnotically turning in the distance.

I am enjoying the slow vibe of Haarlem on a Saturday day trip from Amsterdam.  I was just in a very different Harlem earlier this month. Viva la differencia.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Local is lekker

Local knowledge is getting a 10 euro discount per night--in the middle of the summer high season in Amsterdam, because I knew some Czech and the cat, Figaro.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thoughts on Amsterdam

We arrived to the sun peeking out over the horizon.  Three-armed giants peeked out of clouds, anchored in the blue seas.

The sun cast its golden light across the skies as we entered the Neatherlands.  I beamed almost as bright as the rising sun as the daylight lit the windmill giants. Holland and its windmills always sloughs off all my stresses and strains.

We landed at Schipol Airport, docking past an auspicious sign that said: New Beginnings, Here I come.

As par for the course, I am mending tattered windmills in Amsterdam.  But it is a place of peace for me.

Amsterdam is always an unecumbered smile.

Some words of wisdom that I found on a found fortune cookie rang in my head through my long journey here.  I kept these words close to my heart:

"Everywhere you choose to go, friendly faces will greet you."

Some thoughts on Amsterdam:

-I am shocked that no one wears a helmet. Amazed, really.

-One of the things I love most about Amsterdam is its familiarity at this point.  My grandmother used to refer to impressionist paintings as "old friends."  Here in Amsterdam, I find "old friends" in canals,  colorful gingerbread houses, breakfast treats like warm onion cheese bread, kafe verkert and a cat named Figaro.

-If you don't know the Solillaquists of Sounds, look them up.  Especially their album, "No More Heros."

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Froggy

I am going to sincerely enjoy watching the whole Trump clan frog-marched off to jail. Truly so. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Hijacked American Presidency

"Every now and then we are going to have to do this: Step back from the daily onslaughts of insanity emanating from Donald Trump’s parasitic presidency and remind ourselves of the obscenity of it all, registering its magnitude in its full, devastating truth.

There is something insidious and corrosive about trying to evaluate the severity of every offense, trying to give each an individual grade on the scale of absurdity. Trump himself is the offense. Everything that springs from him, every person who supports him, every staffer who shields him, every legislator who defends him, is an offense. Every partisan who uses him — against all he or she has ever claimed to champion — to advance a political agenda and, in so doing, places party over country, is an offense.

We must remind ourselves that Trump’s very presence in the White House defiles it and the institution of the presidency. Rather than rising to the honor of the office, Trump has lowered the office with his whiny, fragile, vindictive pettiness.

The presidency has been hijacked."
-Charles Blow, "The Hijacked American Presidency"

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Wuv in an elevator

A middle-aged white couple entered the Washington Square Hotel right before me.  I walked to one elevator, but it was a few floors up, so I walked across the lobby to the other elevator.

As I arrived the door opened.  But the gentleman didn't seem to like the looks of yours truly, and kinda-awkwardly beckoned his wife away from the opening elevator.

I got in and watched them standing awkwardly outside the elevator as the doors closed so they could wait for the next one...

So I got in and pressed my third floor.

Then I pressed every floor on the way to the top of the 9th floor, as I whistled Aerosmith's "Love in an elevator" as the car ascended.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Questions


"Even the genius asks questions"
-Tupac Shakur

Scratch

I watched a man today, who invented "the scratch," scratch. Turntablism at its utter Next Level finest.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ground Zero of Gay Pride

We arrived by train to the Big Apple and hopped in taxis. We headed towards Washington Square, but the taxi driver didn't want to go there.
"Big parade, too crazy." He was referring to the giant Gay Pride Parade and we needed to get to Ground Zero of the festivities.
"It is very dangerous," the taxi driver intoned in what I took to be a Nepali accent.
"Umm...it is not dangerous, it is gay," I laughed in reply.
The area was shut down for traffic and the driver let us off to walk the rest of the way, down past half-naked men dancing on fire escapes.
This sounds like the start of a good joke: So a Colombiana, Algerian, Tunisian and Indonesian walk into a Gay Pride Parade....
But indeed parade met blockade, as we tried to get across the few blocked blocks of Greenwich Village. Our street was literally just a block a way from us, but on the other side of the Gay Pride Parade. Every twist and turn in our path, we were met with blockades of fabulousness.
And in our tortuous path, we passed the Stonewall Inn.
Everyone was having a gay ol' time, but we were miserable in the hot sun with all our luggage as we traversed block to crowded block with the sun beating down. I ended up a luggage-wallah with a broken suitcase balanced on my head.
After the hourglass was long empty, we crossed over enough to get up and arrived to the block we needed. A long trek for a short distance, c'est la vie. Have a fabulous Gay Pride Parade, New York.

Trump is what happens when a political party abandons ideas

Great article by Bruce Bartlett on how "Trump is what happens when a political party abandons ideas"

Monday, June 19, 2017

Progressive Islam

“Allahu akbar,” chanted a female voice, uttering the Arabic expression “God is great,” as a woman with two-toned hair issued the Muslim call to prayer. In another major break with tradition, men and women — typically segregated during worship — heeded the call by sitting side by side on the carpeted floor.

Ates, a self-proclaimed Muslim feminist and founder of the new mosque, then stepped onto the cream-colored carpet and delivered a stirring sermon. Two imams — a woman and a man — later took turns leading the Friday prayers in Arabic.

The service ended with the congregation joining two visiting rabbis in singing a Hebrew song of friendship. And just like that, the inaugural Friday prayers at Berlin’s Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque came to a close — offering a different vision of Islam on a continent that is locked in a bitter culture war over how and whether to welcome the faith."

A fascinating story on a feminist progressive mosque in Germany, and apparently there have been similar such places in California, Denmark and Switzerland.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day Thoughts

“We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more.”
 -Albert Camus

This quote from Brain Pickings was one of the first things my father, Dr. Stephen Rockower said to me this Father's Day morning. Happy Father's Day to a man working to such ends.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Xenocide

From Orson Scott Card's "Xenocide":

"Just because your former understanding of the purpose of your life is contradicted doesn’t mean that you have to decide there is no purpose... Just because one cause you believed in turned out to be false doesn’t mean that there aren’t other causes that can still be trusted.”

 “No matter how smart or strong you are, there’s always somebody smarter or stronger, and when you run into somebody who’s stronger and smarter than anybody, you think, This is a god. This is perfection. But I can promise you that there’s somebody else somewhere else who’ll make your god look like a maggot by comparison. And somebody smarter or stronger or better in some way. So let me tell you what I think about gods. I think a real god is not going to be so scared or angry that he tries to keep other people down.... A real god doesn’t care about control. A real god already has control of everything that needs controlling. Real gods would want to teach you how to be just like them.”


why the Israeli-Palestinian peace process fails

“Our American friends offer us money, arms and advice. We take the money, we take the arms, and we decline the advice.”
-Moshe Dayan

 A good piece on why the Israeli-Palestinian peace process fails.

On life

"Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself"

Sunday, May 14, 2017

All the President's women

I think it is worth pointing out that regarding the few women in Trump's cabinet: one is the wife of senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: another is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, Mercenary Par Excellence and one of the key links between the Trump Campaign and the Russians. And lest we forget, Linda McMahon--the head of the WWF.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The War on....

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
-John Erlichman, Nixon Administration Domestic Policy Advisor and Watergate co-conspirator

Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is trying to revive the War on Drugs as a tool for oppression.  This is a vehicle of repression; it is a mechanism for suppression.  This has been done before, by Nixon and his corrupt gang.

Meanwhile, the war on truth and sanity continues to unfold with President Trump.  If I were pitching this to Hollywood as a script, it would be rejected as being too far fetched.  This is bad authoritarian comedy.  We have a gold-plated con man in the Oval Office, and just for even more chuckles, he is a Russian Manchurian candidate.  Here is a crazy listicle of why Comey's firing is an absolute shit-show.

Do the Republicans have any integrity left?  Did they ever?