It’s hard not to sit back and gawk at the great ironies in the world today. The United States elected a reality TV star as a disastrous president who nearly destroyed the beacon of democracy in four short years. Italy elected a fascist Prime Minister just 79 years after Benito Mussolini nearly destroyed the place that introduced democracy to the world. And the son of Indian immigrants has become the Prime Minister of England, the remains of the fallen empire that once counted India among its most-valuable possessions. I can’t help but shake my head in disbelief sometimes. But then I remember that the concentration of wealth in the world today has bought and paid for these figureheads much the same way that fundraising paid for the menagerie of animals at my local carrousel.Continue reading Dead gods and rich people
I watched a thunderhead build momentum over the Siskiyou mountains all day on Thursday. Up and up it went, 20,000, 30,000 feet into the sky, white, billowy protrusions folding and unfolding from its anvil base along a column that seemed to stretch from the earth to the high heavens.
The gleaming-white column softened and turned pink and then peach and then salmon in the glow of the setting sun. I drove along the upper Rogue River trying to think about fish and fat salmonflies, but my mind was on that cloud and its ominous intentions.Continue reading In the tempest
The racism I grew up with was subtle. Not so subtle I didn’t recognize it, but subtle enough that it could live there in the background without offending too many people.
Without offending me enough to do something about it.
And I’m convinced that is why it’s still around in 2018 and factoring into a national election.
Racism is like Himalayan blackberry bushes. A thorny species in the rose family, these plants were brought in for fruit production in the 1800s, but they quickly spread out of control and changed the landscape by out-competing native plants. Each spring they pop up through the bark dust like other weeds, but you can’t just pull them out. They’re stubborn, and they have thorns. So you weed everything else and swear you’re going to come back for it. But you don’t, and they grow bigger. Continue reading We didn’t weed out racism when we should have
I remember the first time I heard Rage Against the Machine’s self-titled debut album.
I was a junior at a country high school. My brother and my best friend were deeply into punk rock, and I wanted to date this hottie college girl named Cheryl Carpenter.
I was all over the place, at times trying to fit in with the rednecks and the true-blue farm kids, and at other times trying to be what I saw my favorite others around me being.
I hadn’t really found a place for myself yet. Continue reading Raging for Twenty Six Years
This is not really a how-to essay. I’ve always hated anyone telling me how to raise my kids or giving me books about parenting.
But we’re living in the last days of the American constitutional federal representative democracy, and we have front-row seats to its rapid descent into hell.
What better teaching moment could you possibly ask for? Continue reading How to talk to kids about the end of democracy
I stopped by an old friend’s apartment to commiserate tonight and to wait out the hellish Portland traffic.
We drank a couple of Sticky Hands IPAs, and I relived some Facebook conversations for him, since he quit it a few weeks ago.
I’m a little envious of this and tell him so.
But he’s not unaware of what’s going on. He knows about the latest antics of our orange wannabe dictator. He’s aware that the Senate silenced a female member while allowing her male colleagues to read the same words she attempted to.
It’s been a challenge to change my perspective this week.
I’ve been coming at this from one angle since all hell broke loose on Tuesday night.
Finding the negatives lying around on the floor, picking them up, weighing them, and then moving on to the next one. Continue reading evitcepsreP yM gnignahC
2120 – Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest region of what was once the United States of America.
Only shards of history survived the cullings.
And by shards, I’m being generous.
We passed history down from one person to the next in small groups around burning wood with the flames casting shadows on our surroundings for ten thousand years.
We marked the rocks with the images in our mind drawn by flames. And pounded reeds flat and bleached them in the sun and made up words to describe the images and the actions around them in complex relationships that became written language.
And then we maximized efficiency and built printing presses to make short work of storing our history in volumes in libraries.
But war, as it does, burns away the words with fire and rhetoric.
We digitized history and made the whole thing accessible to every human being in small, hand-held computers. And we shrank it, until millions of volumes could fit onto the tip of a needle.
History compounded is a radioactive element biding its time until transmutation releases energy and blows itself into shards and larger chunks.
And so we’re left to tell our story one generation to the next, to pass along the DNA of our existence, sometimes in rich detail and sometimes in shards too small to understand why we keep repeating our mistakes.
I pieced this all together from the slivers of information I have gathered over my lifetime, which evenly spans the turn of the 22nd Century.
I inherited some of it and found most of it, extracting it willingly or unwillingly from its hosts. Oh, yes, history is a parasite. Or didn’t you know that?
History periodically blows itself up, so we must pick it up in shards or larger chunks and piece it together and determine that we will never kill each other in large numbers again for resources. But we can’t fight history’s innate need to repeat itself, and so we become willing hosts, corrupted and finally destroyed as the shards and larger chunks to be pieced together by a future generation.
In this way we have eked out our existence on this rock for this brief moment in time.
Sliver by Timothy Alex Akimoff copyright 2016
On Thursday, around our dinner table, I couldn’t help but think that my kids are becoming really great liberals.
If liberals means they espouse a political ideology founded upon ideas of liberty and equality.
We discussed the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the State of the Union address, the economic impact of falling oil prices and, of course, school testing, a topic they are all too familiar with and opinionated about.
As I listened to each of them make a case for or an argument against some aspect of our discussion, it dawned on me that they have become what I had hoped they would.
Thoughtful question askers.
I was fast becoming a Young Republican at their age, bent on making my worldview, the one I had fashioned as a second generation immigrant, work for me.
“Where y’all from,” asked the big bouncer at a nightclub called Stella Blue.
“Chicago,” someone replied.
“Welcome to the middle ground,” he said after checking our IDs at the door.
Upstairs, the club was an ironic polar opposite of its “Dead” namesake.
American-flag-themed Budweisers, a dance floor with bad dance music, a digital disco ball, five public radio employees and a whisky-voiced, bleach-blond bartender with electric-green-tinged contact lenses.