April 20th, 2009

alan - joshua tree bloom

Good Morning!!

We are happily enjoying NYC, reverberating to the excitement of the roar, a wave that never breaks.

There's a little siren whoop. Whoop!!

We are heading out in the rain to visit MOMA. It is odd to know we will return to a bay area heat wave tomorrow.

If you missed seeing this woman on Jon Stewart on April 15, here she is.


There is an article in the NY Times today on palm trees that travel to Florida for the winter. They have now returned and are installed in a tropical lounge near Madison Square Park. They didn't fly like birds, but were trucked, which is probably appropriate for life that is used to staying in one place.

I found a few books at the book store at Grand Central Station. One is The Thirteen American Arguments, Enduring Debates that Define and Inspire Our Country. It is by Howard Fineman. I love our heritage. I love his last name. Fine Man.

I appreciate that our new president wants to put himself above the fray on punishment for those who tortured, and perhaps it is time to allow a world court to decide where responsibility and ethics lie.

Happy Day of Change, Adaptation, Momentum, Rest, Activity, and Peace!!
alan - three poppies

Poems about California!

Stephanie is posting CA poems on Connection Well this week.  I resonate to these two and feels a wee bit homesick with them both.

How Everything Was in the End Resolved in California
by Charles Foster


The Changing Light
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The changing light
at San Francisco
is none of your East Coast light
none of your
pearly light of Paris
The light of San Francisco
is a sea light
an island light
And the light of fog
blanketing the hills
drifting in at night
through the Golden Gate
to lie on the city at dawn
And then the halcyon late mornings
after the fog burns off
and the sun paints white houses
with the sea light of Greece
with sharp clean shadows
making the town look like
it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o'clock
sweeping the hills

And then the veil of light of early evening

And then another scrim
when the new night fog
floats in
And in that vale of light
the city drifts
anchorless upon the ocean

alan's flowers

for the sake of argument -

In Howard Fineman's book, The Thirteen American Arguments - Enduring Debates that Define and Inspire Our Country, he explores why we have and need public debate in this country.  I offer a few excerpts.

"We aim high, which makes our failures dramatic - which spurs arguments about them. No one can see the contrast or feel the pain of it more sharply than African-Americans, who, as slaves, literally built the Capitol in which laws were enacted to keep them in chains. But it was also in that very building where other, later laws were enacted to bring them to full personhood.  Cornel West, the Princeton professor, captured the duality that fosters argument, and change. "To accept your country without betraying it," he wrote, "you must love it for that which shows what it might become. America - this monument to the genius of ordinary man and women, this place where hope becomes capacity, this long, halting turn of the 'no' into the 'yes' - needs citizens who love it enough to re-imagine and remake it." So we try, fitfully, and argue about how to remove the burden that history gave to us all."

We are quite a blend.  There are the Native Americans, the Spanish explorers, and various colonial frames that existed for up to 180 years before the convention in Philadelphia.   Then, we began moving west, each group looking for their own Promised Land.  "The paradoxical result was more friction, and more numerous arguments, as the proponents of each fresh utopia worked themselves into a lather of unquestioned righteousness in the wilderness.  Since they never had to look at the world through someone else's eyes, they were all the more uncompromising about their own."

He says we have to "prove that argument is strength, not weakness, and that freedom and security can live together."

We do that "by making sure that people know they have a chance to be heard.  The American way breeds unsettling conflict, but argument is what leads to consent, and consent is what leads to legitimacy.  People accept outcomes that they deplore, because they think the process gives their point of view a chance."

"As long as we argue, there is hope, and as long as there is hope, we will argue.  In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville saw genius in this.  "To take a hand in the regulation of society," he said, was our "biggest concern and, so to speak, the only pleasure an American knows."  This "ceaseless agitation," he wrote, creates an "all-pervading and restless activity, a superabundant force, and an energy which is inseparable from it and which may, however unfavorable circumstances may be, produce wonders.  These," he concluded," are the true advantages of democracy."