Friday, July 20, 2018

Thurgood Marshall Story Is Powerful Reminder of Many Important Truths

This week I saw the film Marshall for the first time. The film, based on a true story, retells an early case legal case by Thurgood Marshall, the young attorney who would later become the first black man to serve on the Supreme Court. It's an impressive film, made all the more so by the acting of Chadwick Boseman, the star of Black Panther and an actor I definitely want to see again.

This summary by a reviewer on expresses my take on the film as well.:
This enjoyable and inspiring movie is a worthy contribution to the courtroom movie genre. It memorializes the great Thurgood Marshall (who later won Brown v. Bd. of Education and sat on the Supreme Court). The film brings to life a forgotten rape case in Connecticut that Marshall tried early in his career when he was the solo staff lawyer at the NAACP. The story focuses on the plight of a black man accused of raping a white woman and it highlights issues of racism in the courtroom and on the streets. The movie recalls the classic films "To Kill a Mockingbird" (which also involved a black on white rape case) and "Anatomy of a Murder" (which also involved sexual issues and in which--like many real trials--we're never sure just what actually happened and who is telling the truth). The writing is sharp and witty and the acting and direction are great. Particularly strong is the emerging partnership and friendship of Marshall and the local lawyer, Sam Friedman, who had never tried a criminal case and thought he would just sit next to Marshall during the trial and do nothing. But the judge forces Friedman to conduct the trial with Marshall serving as his adviser--and he rises to the occasion.

Here's an excerpt from another review:
The actors in this intelligent film are all first rate and believable in their roles. Film is strong in mystery and suspense. The film is part of history but very entertaining from start to finish. It's an uplifting and positive film for everyone to enjoy. There are great believable interpersonal relationships. The film is high quality production including the music score. There is no detail that was spared. Plenty of great symbolism in the film for example the images in wall frame pictures in court room. I do expect actor and/or actress and other film awards in the future. Marshall 2017 is a must see film.

I only later realized that I had seen Boseman before on the screen. He played the role of Jackie Robinson in the film 42. I predict him to be the next Denzel Washington, a serious actor who will leave a legacy. He's well on his way.

One feature of the film, which takes place around 1940, is the reminder that blacks were not the only people discriminated against. Jews were not permitted into certain establishments, country clubs, etc. You may recall Jack Nicholson in the film Chinatown asking if the nursing home accepted Jews.

Near the end of the film, the prosecuting attorney tries to work a plea bargain with Sam, the attorney forced by circumstances to defend this black man charged with rape and attempted murder of a white woman. Friedman's response is one of many great lines in the film.

Loren Willis: "I thought Jews were supposed to be smart. You sound just like the Negro."
Sam Friedman: "That's the greatest compliment you could have given me."

In the closing arguments, as Sam trickled drops of ink into a glass of water, I thought of Perry Mason's manner of making vivid a point he wished to get across to the jury. And though we never saw the discussion that took place when the jury deliberated, I imagined the Henry Fonda film 12 Angry Men, and how what appears an open and shut case can become altogether other when honest dialogue occurs.

The DVD is available on Netflix. It comes with my highest recommendation.

Related Links
Marshall @
Emmett Till

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Local Arts Scene -- Third Thursday In Superior Tonight and Niiyo-wiij-anishinaabeg Tuesd

Composition by Joe Geshick
Original drawing by George Morrison
In recent years I have been running into a few new concepts that may have been out there but I hadn't given much thought to. One of these is the notion of mindfulness, which is defined as "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique."

The idea of mindfulness syncs up with another concept which many of us became aware of 40-50 years ago, that of living holistically. I can't say I've lived that conscientiously, but the notion certainly has gained more appeal as I get older.

I mention all this because it seems to me that in many respects that Native peoples practiced these things in a manner that we could have learned from had there been an attempt to do so. Native culture was a holistic relationship with the elements, with the earth, with one another, and here in the Northland many features of their culture have been re-emerging.

One way to gain a window into Native culture is through the arts. This coming Tuesday the Duluth Art Institute is hosting a closing reception July 24 for the exhibition Niiyo-wiij-anishinaabeg, which is translated "Four Friends." The exhibit has been currently on display in the Great Hall at the Depot.

The four friends include the three artists and a space holder for you, the viewer, to become a part of the relationship the artists all have in common, creating art to build community and relationships among humanity. As you explore each unique piece, you're invited to reflect on your path as you experience "traveling with friends together" (wiijiiwaagan). The exhibition includes sketches by Joe Geshick and George Morrison as the blueprints for what would become their master works and signature styles. Carl Gawboy has eight new works on paper that storyboard the artist's first major book project, set to be released later this year.

* * * *

Tonite it's Third Thursday in Superior

Bee sure to check out the Honey Bee Fest 
(follow This Link)
Two days of great music and more.
"Let me tell you 'bout the birds and the Bees."
No, it's actually much more than that, though it's
so beautiful there you just might fall in love again.
It's kinda what happens at Oldenburg House.

* * * *

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Mona Lisa North Shore Drive

As we headed up the North Shore's Scenic Highway I couldn't help but think of William Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive, my introduction to cyberpunk back in the late 80's. (Hence the title of this blog post.) The main character is Mona, a girl with a murky past and an uncertain future whose life is on a collision course with internationally famous Sense/Net star Angie Mitchell. In Gibson's world you go places you don't expect, with threads that unwind, sprawl and eventually return you to your own main storyline. And so it goes...

Sunday afternoon I took part in a Mona Lisa photo shoot featuring Ramona M in front of the lens, under shooter Dan Pugleasa's adept direction. As in Gibson's thrill-ride there's an international character in the story, and ours was Umm-e-Kulsoom, a young woman here in the States as part of a July exchange program involving journalists from Pakistan.

Umme from Pakistan played a role in the saga.
There are some people who will rush off and do an adventure with less thought then they would give to crossing the street. I used to be that way. Because I’ve become less inclined to impulsiveness over the years, perhaps making me a little stale, I accepted this invitation to tag along and write about this Mona Lisa photo shoot, Ramona Marozas modeling the iconic subject who appears in DaVinci's painting. Dan Pugleasa -- Less Traveled Photography -- believed he'd found the perfect location. As in brick-and-mortar retail selling, photographers also have a "location, location, location" mantra running through their heads.

The scene he envisioned turned out to be a secluded point where the Sucker River spills languidly into Lake Superior just North of the New Scenic Cafe. The privately owned waterfront property welcomed us warmly, as did its owner who was giving his dog a workout by flinging a toy out into the lake at regular intervals. As it turns out, he himself had been to Pakistan in recent years on international business.

Warm, but not yet mysterious.
After a short exchange, Dan, Umme and our Mona Lisa scoped out setting, selected a backdrop and proceeded to get down to business. It was something of a play in three acts. In the first act, Dan focused on capturing the Mona Lisa reproduction. Mona had come dressed for the part, wearing a crown of flowers. She had clearly been practicing "the look" and getting the hands lined up right, fingers laced over the wrist just so. The DaVinci Mona Lisa did not have one of her hands decorated with Henna, but no matter. It was not a detraction.

It was apparent Ramona had been working on how to capture the mystery in her expression. It was as if she were disengaging herself from herself on the inside, becoming removed from herself as it were, the grey-blue eyes becoming distant, perhaps lost in time while Pugleasa's camera clicked and snapped.

The second act took place in the lake itself, as both cameraman and model became immersed out by an outcropping of rock thirty yards from the shore. Act three involved our Pakistani guest who with great enthusiasm took control of the camera, directing her subject into various postures and positions.

Lining up the money shot.
After a timeless interlude, the four of us hiked back through the forest and up the trail to the car, soon heading back into town. As in William Gibson's story, the Mona Lisa will be jacked into cyberspace... to be enjoyed by fans in her new iteration.

Here are a few of the shots that were captured... each a story.

As long as we're being capricious, whimsical and wry, we might as well close out with a poem about that chimerical smile and the look mirrored in her eye. 

Mona Lisa Smile

She has a mysterious smile
Folks wonder what it means
It’s been written in the text books
And envisioned in some dreams

Nat King Cole crooned a song
About Mona Lisa’s smile
Folks have wondered curiously
And studied her awhile

Did she smile because of love?
That wistful little grin
A thought perhaps in her mind
As she remembered him?

Did her face appear in a dream
Her talented artist had one night?
Or was it, in fact, the face of the man
Who sketched his own mirrored sight?

Of course no one will ever know
The true story of the smile
But it’s great fun, don’t you think?
For she truly could beguile!
Marilyn Lott

EdNote: For the record, only the three high caliber photos at the end are Dan's. I can only take credit for the inferior work that precedes it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Introducing Miriam Hanson, Voice of Highway 61 Revisited, KUMD's "Dylan Hour"

When the community lost John Bushey, KUMD host of Highway 61 Revisited for 26+ years, the loss was felt by listeners around the world. Locally, there were practical questions being raised regarding the show he'd created and carried the banner for. How long will listeners accept re-runs? Who will step in to fill John's shoes?

John himself was the selection committee and after much consideration the nod went to Miriam Hanson. From her first weeks on the air it became clear she had the touch. Besides having that perfect pitch radio voice, she's assumed responsibility for all that precedes each week's production.

Now that she's settled in, here's an inside look at the new pilot behind the instrument panel.

EN: What is your background as far as where you’ve lived, gone to school, career?

Gazing up at Skye's  installation, "Shakespeare's in the Alley."
The Great Hall, 2018 Duluth Dylan Fest
Miriam Hanson: I grew up in Duluth, and went to University of MN, Twin Cities securing a double major in Spanish and Portuguese with a minor in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature (cum Laude). I lived in La Ceiba, Honduras for 6 months volunteering for a micro-finance NGO in order to do research to write my graduation thesis. This led to an interest in living abroad, so I returned to La Ceiba after completing my degree to teach 4th grade at a Bilingual School. This led to being recruited to teach a small private group of expat children on the island of Roatan in the Caribbean (a Honduran island off the North Coast of the mainland). I ended up growing this school to 112 students with 21 teachers and eventually selling it and returning to Duluth after doing some extensive traveling and adventuring (including sailing across the Pacific Ocean and becoming a full cave diver in Mexico). For the last four years I have been working as the Health & Wellness Advocate at Jeff Foster Trucking, developing a culture of wellness in the company.

EN: Impressive resume. How did you first come to take an interest in the music of Bob Dylan?

MH: As a 15-year-old, I had a lot of friends who were just beginning to pick up the guitar and pick out tunes. Dylan is in the learner's wheelhouse as far as simple chord progressions and melodies. I then stumbled across Highway 61 Revisited on KUMD. Every Saturday, I tuned in to the Grateful Dead Hour and then Highway 61 Revisited with John Bushey. I picked up The Freewheelin Bob Dylan and the rest is history!

EN: Was there a specific song or album that really spoke to you and drew you in? What was it and how did it affect you?

MH: Freewheelin' was my initial way in to Dylan. I remember listening to "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," and being sort of confused at how it sounded so kind, and nice, but I knew there was more to it. I liked the informal language; the way it was punchy and fun to sing; and the sweet sweet fingerpicking.

EN: Were you surprised when John asked you to consider being host of the show after his passing?

(L to R) Teague Alexy, Miriam, Marc Gartman
MH: As I started to get to know John and spend time with him, we seemed to develop a confidence rather quickly. John seemed to be a person of few barriers who clearly wore his heart on his sleeve and was very comfortable with me straight away. He invited me to be a guest on the show a few times and he indicated that he was impressed by my song choices. I think I surprised him with my selections and he was excited by my unique (to him) perspective. I think he also liked my voice. More than anything, when he was undergoing a rather arduous treatment session at the Mayo, I mailed him a card to express to him what influence his show had had on my development as a person and what a powerful and meaningful experience it was to leave Duluth, literally travel around the around the world for 18 years, only to come back and find him still here crafting this program. This card really moved him, so much so that he invited me to come in to the studio and actually read it on one of the shows. That was quite an honor. So, no, I wasn't entirely surprised because he had talked to me about taking over the show for him as he became more ill.

EN: What do you like most and what do you find most challenging?

MH: I am astounded at the vast collection that John carefully gathered. It is incredibly exciting to start exploring this collection and to have each show start putting itself together as one song leads naturally into the other and calls the next song forth. It was and is challenging to try to make a professional-sounding show without ums and ahs and spaces and all that. It can take some time as I am totally new to the software. The most challenging part is the technical side and creating time to do it.
* * * * 
Thank you, Miriam, for your time. And for your dedication.

Related Link

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Engage it.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Noteworthy Events for the Calendar: Two Art Walks and a Honey Bee Festival

Did you know that bees can see all colors except the color red? I didn't know that. Furthermore, I'd be curious how scientists know things like that.

Bees play an important role in our world. They make an essential contribution to the pollination of flowers and 400 hundred kinds of agricultural plants, or approximately 1/3 of all we eat. They are also hard workers and make great role models for our children. (At least in the old days when kids paid attention to bees and weren't on the iPhones all the time.) And who doesn't love honey? In fact, if there were no bees, there would probably never have been the expression, "You're my honey." What would be say then? "You're my blueberry" just doesn't cut it.

All this to say that we're less than three weeks away from the Honey Bee Folk Festival at the Oldenburg House in Carlton.

The first annual Honeybee Folk Festival will feature local bands from the Northland and a few surprises from outside our region. In addition to truly great music we be a ton of information and fun pollinator friendly activities goin on.

The Music Lineup is shaping up like this:
Northern Shoveler, Gossamer Strings, Lowland Lakers, Black River Revue
Moonlight Community, Northern Shoveler, Woodblind, Four Mile Portage, Superior Siren, Feeding Leroy, and LASKA

The honeybee celebration will begin in earnest on Friday 3:00 p.m. with a pronouncement from the Mayor of Carlton and the Carlton City Council stating the City of Carlton has become a Pollinator Friendly Town as outlined by the Pollinate Minnesota organization.

Special Pollinator Friendly Activities will include:
City of Carlton – a Pollinator Friendly Town
Honey Bee Poem and Story Hour
Bees and Blooms Hike – Jay Cooke State Park
Bee Lodge Construction
Presentations from Master Gardeners – U of MN Extension

There will also be vendors on hand selling:
Beeswax candles
Health/beauty products
Hives and beekeeping supplies
Cough syrup
Pollinator-friendly perennials
Area potters and artists who have incorporated bee images into their work
Honey based fruit spritzers and made-from-honey alcohol products (White Winter Winery)
Pollinators Blend Peace Coffee (Magnolia Cafe)
Food items that include honey

Now tell me, if we didn't have honey bees, how would we have ever gotten the expression, "The Bees Knees"? 

Art on the Planet sells Kris Nelson's Art Chairs, Shawna
Gilmore paintings, Esther Piszczek's Zentangle art,
and a number of my paintings as well.
Check it out This Coming Thursday evening.
Superior residents from "back in the day" remember that Thursday Night was a "thing."  Most businesses were open later as a way to drive traffic to the downtown area by offering shopping opportunities after the regular business day. This meant that people with day jobs could still stop in to browse and buy after THEIR work day was over. It became such a popular option that it even generated significant shopping traffic from Minnesota and the greater Douglas County area. Some businesses made a point of sidewalk sales or other deals that could be had only during the extended Thursday night hours to further boost business.

The small business community of Superior has been collectively encouraging visitors to come out to our business districts like The Good Old Days on the Third Thursday of each month to simply stroll the neighborhoods/districts and see what the business community of Superior has to offer. New and established businesses are participating as well as hopeful additional businesses from our East End, Billings Park and North End business neighborhoods.

This campaign follows the insights of Thursday night initiatives already established by businesses like blue arrow boutique and Shannon's Stained Glassery in reviving the past proud tradition of extended hour Thursday night shopping or dining in Superior later after work or during their children’s night activities.

Participating businesses have been offering special events or incentives such as street performers, special sales or samples during extended hours, etc.

Here at Art on the Planet/Wine Beginnings we host the sweet sounds of Similar Dogs to offer a musical background during the #ThirdThursday extended hours.

This summer is a good time to stop in to some favorite businesses, explore new businesses, browse a bit and re-discover the renewed vibrancy of the Superior small business community.

Art on the Planet
Where Fine Art meets Fun Art


If you Google Fourth Friday Art Walk, you'll find that all kinds of places are hosting designated evenings for the arts, from Prescott and Lee's Summit to Fairhaven and Wilmington. Big cities like St Louis and towns like Belfast, Maine are throwing out their welcome mats for arts activities. A half dozen years ago here in Duluth, an informal trio of galleries began coordinating their Second Friday Art Crawls with great effect. Today, a host of galleries, artist studios and related creative businesses are continuing this Ark Walk tradition in a bigger and more vibrant way.

The Downtown Duluth Arts Collective has provided a more formalized framework to help promote and grow this year-round art night adventure. The best part of having the art walk take place on the same evening is that people can schedule their other activities around it.

For what it's worth, an art crawl makes a great date night for friends, lovers and married couples. For little to know cost you have entertainment, and a little finger food along the way...

This month's Arts Walk will be FRIDAY JULY 27.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Books as Wall Art? Here's a Novel Idea...

Yesterday from 11 a.m. till 4 p.m. Bayfront Park hosted its annual Taste of Duluth festival, which features music in the park and all variety of vendors, from food and drink to miscellaneous crafts, jewelry, hot sauces, mixes, wall art, etc. The Republican and Democratic parties each had a tent on the west end of the walkway, with an aisle in between. Two of the featured bands were Laura Velvet & the Bookhouse Boys, and the Centerville All Stars. The music was great but the heat was stifling, and I'm guessing that half "the crowd that might have been" was sitting on a beach somewhere. Or swimming.

One of the vendors was The Pink Hammer Shop, an Etsy entrepreneur who makes mixed media signs and wall art featuring upcycled maps and books. As you likely know, I love books. Here are some images from Jennika Nevala's display interspersed with quotes about books, along with a link to her Etsy store at the end. Enjoy!

Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends. ~ Dawn Adams

Of all the diversions of life, there is none so proper to fill up its empty spaces as the reading of useful and entertaining authors. ~ Joseph Addison

Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life. ~ Mortimer J. Adler

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. ~ Ray Bradbury

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. ~ Joseph Brodsky

A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

The pleasure of reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books. ~ Katherine Mansfield

Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures. ~ Jessamyn West

Books had instant replay long before televised sports. ~ Bert Williams

To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry. ~ Gaston Bachelard

He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself, as in all weathers, as in all fortunes. ~ Barrow

Reading is not a duty, and has consequently no business to be made disagreeable. ~ Augustine Birrell

The mere brute pleasure of reading --the sort of pleasure a cow must have in grazing. ~ G.K. Chesterton

A room without books is like a body without a soul. ~ Marcus T. Cicero

* * * *
Related Links
The Pink Hammer Shop @ Etsy
For REAL books visit Zenith Bookstore in West Duluth

* * * *
Do you have a favorite quote about books? I'd like to hear it.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Dylan and Shakespeare: Birds of a Feather

Photo credit: William Pagel
Warfield Theater, San Francisco
When did Dylan first start being compared to Shakespeare? I believe that at some point in the 90's such a comparison was being made, though at the moment I'm not finding it. This reviewer from the Guardian made the comparison explicit when Love and Theft was released. His review was written the day before the Twin Towers were slammed into, published that morning and lost in the rubble. It's an explicit comparison by a longtime fan named Matthew Tempest. Interesting name, inasmuch as that was Shakespeare's last play and now the title of Dylan's last studio album of original songs. The article title is right on target, so direct: Dylan's a modern Shakespeare.

While unearthing that I came across this insightful story in a 2010 blog post by David Charles titled Bob Dylan and William Shakespeare: A Reference Guide Part I. Mr. Charles has assembled numerous references to the Bard in Dylan's lyrics, many of them obvious, such as the famous line, "Shakespeare's in the alley" which the artist Skye borrowed to title her massive installation that was on display here during Duluth Dylan Fest in May.

The date was removed from this Big Think blog post but it's a more recent comparison, titled Was Dylan the 20th Century's Shakespeare?

My own earliest reference comparing the two great literary figures was in 2012 in a blog post titled Shakespeare and Dylan: Birds of a Feather. One common denominator between the two might be to see the extent to which both artist's sayings have been incorporated into our common culture. Here's just one hilarious example of the extent which Dylan permeates our culture. It's a story about five Swedish scientists who made a bet to see who could sneak the most Dylan references into their research papers. I am absolutely certain that this is not an isolated incident.

Painting by Ed Newman
A number of years ago I wrote a blog post about all the pithy sayings that originated with Shakespeare that have become part of our common day-to-day speech. On the anniversary of Shakespeare's death (April 23, 1616) Dan Rather did a radio monologue that consisted of Shakespeare sayings that have become part of our lingo today. It was much longer than you can imagine and included familiar sayings like, "All the world's a stage" and "There's a method in his madness" (paraphrased) and "Brevity is the soul of wit."

In a similar fashion I believe there will be more Bob Dylan lines quoted as part of daily life than any other writer from our generation. Here are some lines and images that will be remembered a long time.

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

The Times They Are A-Changing.

"Come mothers and fathers,
Throughout the land,
And don’t criticize,
What you can’t understand."

Positively 4th Street:
"Yes, I wish that for just one time,
You could stand inside my shoes,
You’d know what a drag it is,
To see you."

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

All Along the Watchtower
“There must be some way out of here,”
said the Joker to the Thief.
“There’s too much confusion,
I can’t get no relief…”

“Tangled Up In Blue”

“Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man play a song for me
... in the jingle jangle morning I will follow you.”

Like a Rolling Stone
“How does it feel to be on your own,
No direction home, like a complete unknown,
Like a Rolling Stone.”

“God said to Abraham kill me a son…”

“Sometimes even the president of the United States is gonna have to stand naked...” (People will be quoting that for as long as there is a United States.)

“May you stay forever young.”

"You can always come back, but you can't come back all the way."

The Man In Me
"The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein’ seen,
But that’s just because he doesn’t want to turn into some machine."

Like a Rolling Stone
"When you've got nothing, you got nothing to lose."

Not Dark Yet 
"Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain."

To Ramona 
"The flowers of the city,
Though breathlike, get deathlike at times.
And there's no use in tryin',
To deal with the dyin',
Though I cannot explain that in lines."

You’re a Big Girl Now
I’m going out of my mind
With a pain that stops and starts
Like a corkscrew to my heart
Ever since we’ve been apart

"It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" 
Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying

Actually, it's impossible to eliminate any line from It's Alright, Ma because on any given day a different verse can speak to you. Alas....

* * * *

After Dylan released his last studio album of original songs, Tempest, there were an ever increasing number of comments and references to how much Dylan and Shakespeare have in common. How apropos it was that when the Nobel Prize was awarded to our contemporary Bard, the Nobel Prize people even made comparisons between the two men.

For those who missed it when Dylan's acceptance speech was first given, I have included it here. I'd intended to quote the portion where he discusses Shaekspeare's relationship to his art. Because ll rights are reserved as regards reproduction of the lecture other than to use the embed code permitting this audio reproduction, I have included it here in its entirety.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Engage it.

The Art of Perennials -- Wanda's World

One thing nice about the teaching profession is the summer vacations.
Wanda Pearcy, as assistant professor who teaches art at UMD,
has turned her summer vacations into this summer tradition:
the Summer Plant Sale. You might call it "green art."

If you like perennials, you'll love Wanda's garden.
It's peaceful here. She'll offer you a chair, and for a short spell you will
forget about time. 

Most summer weekends 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Scary Thoughts: A Collision of Worldviews


Opinions are like navels. Everybody has one. Some folks, however, are more influential than others. Occasionally, a few of these influential people make statements that make my hair stand on end. 

I remember when a former governor of Colorado proposed the scary idea that we should not give medicine to anyone over 70 in order ease our health care burden. (This statement from the 90s inspired my futurist flash fiction story Please Come Soon.)

Well, here are some other scary ideas which a number of rather influential people have asserted. Some of this could be funny if they aren’t kidding.

I've sought to verify the accuracy of these quotes, but if there are any errors
I would like to correct them to make sure they accurately reflect beliefs of those cited.
* * * * * * * *

The right to have children should be a marketable commodity, bought and traded by individuals but absolutely limited by the state.
—Kenneth Boulding, originator of the “Spaceship Earth” concept (as quoted by William Tucker in Progress and Privilege, 1982)

EdNote: Hmmm. Really?

We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into the Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion—guilt-free at last!
—Stewart Brand (writing in the Whole Earth Catalogue)

EdNote: I'm all for the idea of slowing our lives down. I liked Small Is Beautiful. But the idea of being bombed into the Stone Age doesn't have a lot of appeal for me at the moment.

We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place for capitalists and their projects…. We must reclaim the roads and plowed land, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness millions of tens of millions of acres of presently settled land.
—David Foreman, Earth First!

EdNote: And where do you propose to move all these people who presently live here?

Everything we have developed over the last 100 years should be destroyed.
Pentti Linkola 

EdNote: I get it that you're unhappy with all the television commercials, but really? It’s always easier to destroy something than to actually create something. Now what?

If you ask me, it’d be a little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that won’t give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other.
—Amory Lovins in The Mother Earth–Plowboy Interview, Nov/Dec 1977, p.22

EdNote: I’m not sure I follow the logic here.

The only real good technology is no technology at all. Technology is taxation without representation, imposed by our elitist species (man) upon the rest of the natural world.
—John Shuttleworth

EdNote: I’m sorry you feel that way, John.

What we’ve got to do in energy conservation is try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, to have approached global warming as if it is real means energy conservation, so we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.
—Timothy Wirth, former U.S. Senator, Colorado

EdNote: I thought we'd already learned that the end does not justify the means. I guess post-modern logic doesn’t have to be logical, right?

I suspect that eradicating smallpox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems. —John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

EdNote: I suppose that we can always go back to having large families so that at least a percentage of them survive into adulthood. Is that the plan? 

Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs.
—John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

EdNote: I prefer a worldview that honors our humanity. Being made in the image of God does not mean we hate the earth. We’re created to be caretakers, not destroyers.

The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing... This is not to say that the rise of human civilization is insignificant, but there is no way of showing that it will be much help to the world in the long run.
—Economist editorial

EdNote: Do you really believe that?

Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental.
—Dave Forman, Founder of Earth First!

EdNote: That's one way to do it, I suppose. 

If radical environmentalists were to invent a disease to bring human populations back to sanity, it would probably be something like AIDS
—Earth First! Newsletter

EdNote: Really? What does your mom think about all this?

Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, is not as important as a wild and healthy planet… Some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.
—David Graber, biologist, National Park Service

EdNote: I can see where the seed idea for 12 Monkeys was germinated.

The collective needs of non-human species must take precedence over the needs and desires of humans.
—Dr. Reed F. Noss, The Wildlands Project

EdNote: I guess we’re not on the same page here either.

If I were reincarnated, I would wish to be returned to Earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.
—Prince Phillip, World Wildlife Fund

EdNote: I hear that reincarnation is making a comeback. Maybe you’ll get lucky.

Cannibalism is a “radical but realistic solution to the problem of overpopulation.”
—Lyall Watson, The Financial Times, 15 July 1995

EdNote: Just curious what you’ve been smoking, Lyall. I suppose you're familiar with the joke about the two cannibals who were eating a clown and one says to the other, "Do this taste funny to you?"

We, in the green movement, aspire to a cultural model in which killing a forest will be considered more contemptible and more criminal than the sale of 6-year-old children to Asian brothels.
—Carl Amery

EdNote: Where do you come up with this stuff? When something is wrong it’s wrong.  

To feed a starving child is to exacerbate the world population problem.
—Lamont Cole

EdNote: Oh? So we should stop building or supporting orphanages? Why stop at the children? Might as well close the food shelves if that is your attitude. Might as well stop sending meds to the Third World as well. Tell Bill Gates to keep his billions to himself and build a bigger house.

* * * *

To paraphrase Woody Allen, "I'm not afraid of the end of the world. I just don't want to be there when it happens." It's hard to believe some of these people were serious. I'm curious how many have had a change of heart since uttering these declarations. 

To paraphrase the title of a film I once enjoyed: "It's a sad, sad, sad, sad world."