“Still the day looked bright to me.” — James Tate’s Kanizsa Triangle

THE GOVERNMENT LAKE — James Tate

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/07/08/the-last-poems-of-james-tate

James Tate’s final volume of poems has generated several reviews, including one in the New Yorker magazine by Dan Chiasson, who concludes his remarks by using Tate’s “The Walk Home” to indulge in fanciful sentimentality: “Tate’s walk home, filled with elms, maples, and a near-death experience as ‘a car swerved to miss me,’ would likely have taken him right past Emily Dickinson’s house; I read the poem as a sly tribute.”

But why settle for a citation that one can only potentially categorize as oblique, when a direct tribute is ready to take the witness stand? Did Tate not appropriate a line of poetry by Dickinson for the title of one of his books? Wouldn’t sticking to the facts be a more useful tribute to a poet one supposedly admires, while informing readers of pertinent literary conjunctions? At the same time, a thoughtful commentary on “The Walk Home” would also bear down on Tate’s poignant image of the aftermath of a final visit to a physician, “Still the day looked bright to me.” Implicitly, the opposite is true: the shadow side is glowing, too. In this particular piece, Tate seems to be playing (as he often did) with a verbal version of a Kanizsa Triangle, in which one’s identity is revealed through a self-portrait activated by illusion. As much as he claims to admire him, Chiasson falls far short of appreciating the skill with which Tate plays with presence and absence.

I confess I am in no rush to buy a copy of Tate’s final volume, but I do wish to reaffirm the comments I previously made about his work.

FROM MY BLOG POST ON JAMES TATE in 2015:

Although he was steadily prolific throughout his life, it is his early work that will continue to astonish readers. His first book, The Lost Pilot, has a handful of enduring poems, but on the whole is uneven. Given that he was in his very early 20s when he wrote these poems, it is hardly surprising that not every poem has gone through enough drafts. The next two widely available full-length collections, however, The Oblivion Ha-Ha and Absences, remain among the handful of books that are essential reading in their entirety. It’s not that Absences is perfect; that’s not the point of his poetics. His poems want to wake us up from our waking consciousness, that level of daily negotiation that leaves us frustrated with its explanations of reality. The “ordinary horseshit” of ideology gets washed away when we turn to his best poems and gives ourselves to his prancing logic.

In some ways, I believe that if Tate had been gifted with a more devious intellect, he might well have had the following career. Having reached the limits of his early affinities, in 1974 he renounces all his early work and devotes himself to the nascent Language movement. I wonder what would have happened, if that alternative life had somehow come to pass? Would the Language writers have truly welcomed him? I doubt it. There’s an edge of transgressive clowning — in the most sincere sense of the word — that would cause his work to remain suspect in their company. A paradox involving a vortex of welcome and farewell spins through Tate’s work with the grace of friendly solitude, and he refused to consider any other path. Tate was never in any danger of succumbing to the temptation of any poetics but his own quirkiness. As the years have gone by, and his poems missed more often than not, I began to wish that he would give himself a respite that would allow one final gush of utter brilliance. It never happened, but many of us are very grateful that he kept on trying. Without that compulsion, after all, we would not have the gift of his early poems. In the end, his work will always linger at the edges of the avant-garde while refusing easy assimilation into conventional schools, and the best of his work will continue to be a constant rediscovery of an imagination heading off towards unexpected destinations of poignantly startling reverie. Carol Ellis’s recent collection of poems cites one of my favorite images from his poems: “a dark star passes through you on your way home from the grocery.” His best poems are the darkest of stars, and once you have read them, you will never again be the same.

I’m going to eat a dish of blueberries in his memory tonight.

POETRY DAILY: “Wrinkles” by Bill Mohr

Saturday, July 6, 2019

I received an e-mail about a fortnight ago that my poem “Wrinkles” was being scheduled to appear on Saturday, July 6, in POETRY DAILY. That poem originally appeared in the anthology, Beyond the Valley of Contemporary Poets, and was then reprinted in Bittersweet Kaleidoscope and The Headwaters of Nirvana. Coincidentally, I had read the poem, the night before I received the e-mail, at Kauai Community College, and one of the audience members told me afterwards that “Wrinkles” was her favorite of the evening.

Alexis Rhone Fancher just wrote me and said that the poem is indeed on their website. I am very grateful to POETRY DAILY for including the translation in Spanish by Jose Rico and Robin Myers.

https://poems.com

“At the Table of the Unknown” by Alexandra Umlas (Moontide Press, 2019)

July 4, 2019

At the Table of the Unknown by Alexandra Umlas (Moontide Press, 2019)

“If the mise-en-scene of many poems in this debut volume by Alexandra Umlas is domestic, and the prosody traditional, the versification nevertheless belies its suburban context. With an ear attuned to the nuanced placement of the caesura, the empathy of Umlas’s imagination encompasses the multitudinous tensions generated within a home, Just as happy families turn out, in fact, to be different in their hard-won equanimity, so too do Umlas’s poems provide us with a surprising amount of variegated pleasure. Those who admire the nimble dexterity and wisdom of Timothy Steele and A.E. Stallings now have a chance to champion another poet on course to join their company. These poems aren’t meant to comfort you, but there is a solace in the way in which they defamiliarize the ostensible reassurances of daily life, and leave us grateful for incremental rewards, not the least of which is this volume of superb poetry.”
— Bill Mohr, author of The Headwaters of Nirvana and Holdouts: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1992

“What joy opening a first poetry collection to find a fully realized, compelling work of art. . . . . At the Table of the Unknown is a luminous debut.” — Donna Hilbert, author of Gravity New & Selected Poems

“Alex Umlas’s At the Table of the Unknown is a first book of extraordinary maturity in both subject matter and craft. Equally adept at both formal and free verse, Umlas invites us to a feast of delicious sounds and images that reveal the so-called “ordinary” to be anything but. At the Table of the Unknown heralds the arrival of a delightful new voice in American poetry.” — Charles Harper Webb, author of Sidebend World and A Million MFAs Are Not Enough

“(T)hough someone might suppose these poems rise from the environment of a ‘ordinary’ life, in fact they stand as proof there is no such thing as an ordinary life, certainly not when shaped by this poet’s technical skill and embracing moral consciousness.” — Suzanne Lummis, author of Open 24 Hours

“What astonishes me is how each page of her collection opens a fresh surprise, in form, as in content. Alex Umlas has waited long enough and worked hard enough to present us with a brilliant, full formed book of poems out of a fully shaped life.” — John Ridland, author of Happy in an Ordinary Thing

“These poems stay with you because they are earnest in their existential questions, authentic in their scrutiny of everyday life, and combine to create a striking portrait of how Death and the living sing to each other.” — Armine Iknadossian, author of All That Wasted Fruit

“She is a compassionate and honest poet, one equipped with ingenuity and wit.” — David Hernandez, author of Dear, Sincerely

moontidepress.com

Moon Tide Press #166
6745 Washington Avenue
Whittier, CA 90601

Magra Radio Presents: “The Aging Comedian as Letter N”

June 30, 2019

The indefatigable poet-editor-translator-publisher Paul Vangelisti worked at radio station KPFK in the 1970s as a cultural intercessor, and among his many projects were a series of radio dramas as well as large-scale readings, including one of Pound’s “The Cantos.” I believe that the Archive for New Poetry at the Geisel Library of the University of California, San Diego, has digitized many of these recordings.

Last fall, Paul read a two-part monologue I was working on, and decided that he would record me reading it for his current radio station, Magra Radio (on-line). At first Paul was inclined to recruit an actor to record it, but as we worked on the “script,” and his ever alert ear enabled me to trim about 400 words from the final version, we decided that I would be the performer. It was a single take, in his office, on an autumn afternoon.

https://www.magrabooks.com/radio/2019/3/31/episode-6-the-comedian-by-bill-mohr

It’s a fictional “Bill” who is invoked as a narrator in this piece, and all the characters burgeon out of the implausibility of its rancorous humor. As context, it might be best to first view the reading I gave of a piece called “Substitute Teacher,” which was recorded at Century Cable in the 1990s, followed by the prose piece “Death’s Real Job,” which appears in my most recent collection, The Headwaters of Nirvana. For those who are familiar with my writing at the beginning of the last decade, a small part of “The Aging Comedian” will seem familiar, and indeed one of the jokes told in my short article, “The Gossip of Ideology: Sexual Jokes and the Tumescence of Power,” reappears in the broadcast monologue.

http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0311/2-mohr-gossip-of-ideology.php

In advance, a brief warning: listeners might be surprised at the transgressive quality of some of “The Aging Comedian as Letter N.” The motive should be obvious — the current preference by right-wing ideologues for an increasingly vigilant repression of anything that might inspire a liberating impulse. This flash flood of tyrannical debris from Cold War culture, however, was not the only factor in tempting me to conjure a domain of provocative imagery far in excess of my usual satirical delineations. It also aspires to critique the capacity of youth culture to jettison those in previous decades who altered the rules for the reproduction of social life. If the social reproduction of life is a farce of absurd contingency only made more excruciating by the shortcomings of gratifying reciprocity, then the comedy of the reproduction of social life is one of the few salves for those wounds. I have only listened to the recording once, after it was posted on-line, and I confess I was a bit taken aback by the degree to which “rankness is savored,” but not as a sensualist.

It is the case that if you don’t know the punch line to Lenny Bruce’s performance piece (with bongos, I believe), then it is time to renew your acquaintance with a figure whose mythology of self deserves more attention that it has been getting of late. There’s not much likelihood his brief inclusion in a recent on-line comedy series produced by Netflix led to a sudden increase in sales of his books.

I do wish to emphasize how this particular project I did with Paul Vangelisti fits into the catalogue of his current enterprise, Magra Books. While the radio broadcast side also includes archival work (“Breathing Space,” which derives from recordings in the late 1970s), the chapbook series deserves equal attention. Especially pertinent to the piece I recorded is Douglas Messerli’s On Marriage: The Imagination of Being, “an extended reflection upon that other person …. ‘who forces you into perceiving yourself as someone other than your own imagination of being’.”

Finally, although there is an echo of Stevens’ long poem in the title, one should not look for too many allusive convergences. At most, the narrator primarily has the following lines in common with Crispin:

Preferring text to gloss, he humbly served
Grotesque apprenticeship to chance event,
A clown, perhaps, but an aspiring clown.

Holly Prado and 23 Other LA Poets: “How I Got Started”

June 25, 2019

https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-holly-prado-poet-dead-20190625-story.html?fbclid=IwAR0G0noscKi2eGolSFwGd37qs1Belc6X-OJixdrLeZGqxeuemiGv64Xb1jY

Mariano Zaro has assembled a set of excerpts from his interviews with Los Angeles-based poets in which each one talks briefly about their first experiences of writing or reading poetry. Several of these poets were featured in my anthology, “POETRY LOVES POETRY” (Momentum Press, 1985): Holly Prado, Laurel Ann Bogen, Suzanne Lummis, Wanda Coleman, Jack Grapes, and Charles Harper Webb.

The other poets are Lynne Thompson, Gail Wronsky, Marsha de la O, Ellyn Maybe, Douglas Kearney, Luis J. Rodriguez, B.H. Fairchild, David St. John, Amy Uyematsu, Ramón García,, William Archila, Tony Barnstone, Brendan Constantine, Alicia Partnoy, Stephanie Brown, Javon Johnson, Chiwan Choi, and Sholeh Wolpé.

According to these literary self-portraits, many of the poets had their first linguistic alteration of reality at a very young age. At the age of seven, for instance, David St. John was already savoring the incantatory magic of Dylan Thomas’s verse. A few, such as Gail Wronsky, even began publishing in grade school. Others discovered a poem’s power to critique or mock social power while in high school.

Watch full interviews at www.Poetry.LA

I look forward to similar installments that add the recollections of L.A.’s first poet laureate, Eloise Klein Healy, as well as Cecilia Woloch, Aleida Rodriguez, Anthony Seidman, Marisela Norte, Paul Vangelisti, Mark Salerno, Brian Kim Stefans, Amy Gerstler, Dennis Phillips, Douglas Messerli, Gloria Edina Alvarez, David Shook, Carol Muske-Dukes, Harry Northup, Will Alexander, Harold Abramowitz, Kamau Da’ood, Deena Metzger, Ron Koertge, Gerry Locklin, Timothy Steele, Karen Kavorkian, Phoebe MacAdams Ozuna, Robin Coste Lewis, liz gonzalez, Sarah Maclay, Holiday Mason, Michael C. Ford, S.A. Griffin, David Hernandez, Fred Voss, and Joan Jobe Smith. And why not then move on to L.A. Periphery, with poets such as Patty Seyburn and Dennis Saleh from Orange County; Rae Armantrout, Michael Davidson, Jerome Rothenberg, and Joe Sadie in San Diego; and James Cushing and Robert Patrick Sullivan in San Luis Obispo?

At the book launch for Ed Smith’s PUNK ROCK IS COOL FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, I flipped though the rear section of POETRY LOVES POETRY, and counted the faces of those no longer living. Over a fourth of the contributors are dead, and another half-dozen have moved far away or no longer write poetry. Of those still living, I would dearly love to hear Jim Krusoe, Kate Braverman, Dennis Cooper, Martha Ronk, and Peter Levitt talk about how their perspectives on their origins as writers have shifted in the years since PLP was published. It is hard for me to think of this quintet as “old” writers, so I’ll settle for “resilient” this morning.

The first person to write me at William.BillMohr@gmail.com and identify the poet who remembers his first line of poetry (written in grade school) as “Winged avenger from the skies” will receive a small box of books that will include at least one important anthology of the past 50 years. Hint: this poet has become nationally famous working in another area of cultural endeavor. If you can name a poet in Ojai, California whose work you admire enough to have attended one of his or her readings, and can describe that reading in detail, a bonus book will be added to the box.

Bill Mohr reads at Kauai Community College in Hawaii

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The reading at Kauai Community College went exceptionally well, and all of the work that Nicole Street put into publicizing the event made an enormous difference. The school is fairly quiet during the summer, in much the same manner as CSU Long Beach, and I was delighted that a couple dozen people from the surrounding community attended the reading.

Of the poems listed in my potential set list, the ones that got dropped were Waiting in Line at Pancho’s Tacos, The Bulldozer, An Answer, and the Haiku Sequence in KYSO.

I especially want to thank Helen Yamaguchi for making a lei that was presented to me after the reading. Helen is recognized as one of the island’s most accomplished and revered lei makers. When I wore the lei at Lihue Airport yesterday, a number of workers with Delta airlines commented on the lei. The person who took the boarding passes at the entrance to the plane’s boarding ramp asked me, “Are you special?” Flight attendants said they had never seen anything quite like it. Indeed, it was one of the most selfless gestures I have ever received as a poet, and I want to thank her for the honor of this lei.

I did receive news about an upcoming reprinting of one of the poems while I was in Hawaii, and I will share that news soon. In the meantime, I want to thank both Nicole and her spouse Erik for being the most fabulous hosts that one could ever wish for. I don’t think it’s an accident that being at their house enabled me to feel centered enough to write nearly a dozen new poems.

Mohr Reading KCC -1

Bill Mohr - Lei

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Hawaii Reading Poster

(Thank you, Nicole Street, for setting this up!)

Potential “set list”:

Portrait in McVicker’s Garden
Rules for Building a Labyrinth
How to Play Ping-Pong with a Mirror
The Restoration
In the Ocean of Nothingness
One Miracle
Waiting in Line at Pancho’s Tacos
The Bulldozer
An Answer
The Haiku Sequence in KYSO
Complexities
Real Days Off
The Remission
Wrinkles
Why the Heart Never Develops Cancer

Kevin Killian (1952-2019) and Nan Hunt, R.I.P.

Sunday morning, June 16, 2019

Yesterday afternoon, Linda and I drove up to Venice for the book launch, at Beyond Baroque, of Ed Smith’s PUNK ROCK IS COOL FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, edited by David Trinidad and published by Turtile Point Press (Brooklyn, NY). Given that Ed Smith left Los Angeles a long time ago, and has been dead for almost a decade and a half, the event was very well attended. It didn’t hurt that the line-up of presenters included Amy Gerstler, Jim Krusoe, Benjamin Weissman, Michael Silverblatt, Jack Skelley, Jane DeLynn, Sheree Rose, and myself, as well as his book’s editor, David Trinidad. It was almost a reunion party, though a bit of a somber one, since it was shadowed by the news of Holly Prado’s death. David, in fact, started the event by reading one of her poems.

Amy read a single poem of Ed’s that meditated on the history of civilization and non-civilization, and in conflating both Saphho and dinosaurs in a manifesto of sorts, Ed Smith’s poetry demonstrated its continued relevance to the maturation of our current scenes. All the readers are superb veterans, but I especially want to note Benjamin Weissman’s ability to recreate the tone and cadence of Ed Smith’s own delivery. It was the personal highlight of the entire event, along with Michael Silverblatt’s very fine choices of Smith’s poems. His selection comprised a mini-volume, in fact, that was like an EP of Smith’s work. In addition, Michael delivered some deeply heartfelt recollections of Ed’s ability to perform. The best single line of the event was Michael’s observation, “You wouldn’t believe how Ed could work the room, even when there was nobody in the room.”

After Linda and I got home, we found out that Nan Hunt has just died. In addition to a fine pair of books of poems (Myself in Another Skin; The Wrong Bride), she was an activist in our community as a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, a reading series that nurtured many poets in this area at a time when there were not that many well-curated series of any substantial duration. I hope that Laurel Ann Bogen and I can place her literary archives at a local university. They deserve such a repository.

I have also just learned (from a Facebook post by Brian Kim Stefans in response to my post on Holly Prado) that the poet, playwright, actor, and editor Kevin Killian has also died. My first thought was that he must have died in the past few days, and I was just now hearing about it, but when I went to the Wikipedia page, today (June 16) is listed for the day of his death, so this must have happened sometime in the wee hours. I am fairly sure that I saw him walking with a friend at the AWP conference in Portland just a few months ago, so his passing comes as abrupt news. If “to queer a text” is to valorize its non-normative potential, then Killian’s work in every phase of his imaginative endeavors will prove to be a major resource for future scholars, and it would be my hope that Ed Smith’s work would benefit from that expanded context and be equally aligned for its transgressive accomplishments.

In remembering Kevin Killian, I would also like to cite in particular his support of Leland Hickman’s poetry, both through his participation in the book launch of TIRESIAS: THE COLLECTED POEMS (edited by Stephen Motika; Nightboat Books) in San Francisco, but also his written praise of that book. Here are a small portion of his review of TIRESIAS:

“(T)he value of the book is twofold, it returns to print the major work of an interesting poet, and in addition it simplifies and makes legible by re-arrangement, the order and the valences of this work. It is a prophetic, shamanic work fueled by rage, grief and sudden bursts of homosexual feeling….. This new book invites us into a dark wet cave where all the most exciting and painful things are happening all the time, awake and in dreams. Somewhere there’s a whisper, “sonny, hush, stop dwelling on it,” but the roar in one’s ears drowns out that quiet voice.” — Kevin Killian

Holly Prado (1938 – 2019)

Friday, June 14, 2019 — midmorning — I just got home from ordinary errands and heard the devastating news from my spouse Linda, who had been called only a few minutes earlier by Laurel Ann Bogen: Holly Prado died last night. In one of her poems, Holly invoked the presence of poets both living and dead as our most cherished companions in the imaginative journey. “Why go on without such a family?” The first time I read that line, I was immediately struck with the full force of its pertinent acuity. Holly was one of the Great Aunts in the family of poetry, nourishing so many of us with her poems, her prose, and her wise teaching. Our family of poets, especially in Southern California, has suffered an enormous loss.

Holly Prado was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1938, and graduated from Albion College in Michigan in 1960. She moved to Los Angeles in the early 1960s. In the middle of that decade, she started teaching English at Marshall High School, and also joined Alvaro Cardona-Hine’s poetry workshop. Her first published poem was in Apple magazine, a magazine I remember finding at Either/Or Bookstore in Hermosa Beach. It was well done poetry magazine for that time, with a kind of physical production that spoke of quiet craft rather than slick flash. That poem was also chosen by Paul Vangelisti, Neeli Cherry, and Charles Bukowski for their “An Anthology of L.A. Poets” (1972). Her first book of poetry was nothing breaks off at the edge (New Rivers Press).

In 1974, Prado resigned from her high school teaching position, and committed herself to a full-time life as a poet and teacher of creative writing. She was the first Southern California regional coordinator for the California Poets in the Schools program. She also started leading private workshops that put a special emphasis on journal writing. Her writing began to appear in a number of Los Angeles-based magazines, including several issues of Momentum, Bachy, Invisible City, Beyond Baroque, and Temblor. She was one of the ten poets featured in my first anthology, The Streets Inside (1978), and was also featured in POETRY LOVES POETRY (1985). She appeared in over a dozen other anthologies, including Suzanne Lummis’s GRAND PASSION and WIDE AWAKE.

In the mid-1970s, I published her novella-length piece of autobiographical fiction, FEASTS. Among its many memorable lines, one in particular has served as a kind of mantra in my life: “to turn our gold into ordinary ground, the best possible solution.” So much of the ground of Southern California poetry gleams with the radiant palimpsest of our poetry’s debt to her inspiring verse as well as long-time endeavors as a teacher. The family of poets in Los Angeles joins together in sending our mutual sympathy to her husband, the poet-actor Harry Northup, with whom she founded a poets publishing cooperative, Cahuenga Press, over a quarter-century ago. In addition to Holly and Harry, the founding members of that cooperative were Phoebe Ozuna, Jimm Cushing, Cecilia Woloch, and myself. I had the honor of typesetting Cahuenga’s first book, Holly Prado’s Specific Mysteries. Cahuenga Press also published her massive volume of selected poems, These Mirror Prove It. In addition to writing poetry reviews for the Los Angeles Times, she had a compilation of “spoken word” entitled “Word Rituals,” produced by Harvey Kubernik, and released on the New Alliance record label.

Her literary archive is at the Archive for New Poetry at the Geisel Library, University of California, San Diego. The placement of her papers in the middle of the last decade proved to be a fortunate gift, for both Prado and Northup lost all of their possessions in a fire caused by an electrical problem in their apartment, in 2017. It was a mark of the affection the community possessed for these two remarkable poets that $20,000 was raised to help them get resettled. At the time of her death, Holly was living at the Motion Picture Retirement Home in Woodland Hills.

Holly Prado is survived by her husband, Harry Northup, and her stepson, Dylan Northup.

Ed Smith — L.A.’s Droll Punk Poet

Tuesday, June 11

This coming Saturday, June 15th, Beyond Baroque will host a book launch for a collection of writing by Ed Smith, whose work appeared in such magazines as Jim Kruose’s Santa Monica REVIEW and Jack Skelly’s BARNEY, in addition to being featured in my 1985 anthology, POETRY LOVES POETRY. Smith’s archive is located at New York University, and I remember reading some of the pages from his journals when I was doing research at its special collections. I had always admired Smith’s poetry. I knew exactly where Tim’s Bunnies was located on my book shelves, though other volumes by more famous poets were packed away in a storage shed.

The ensemble of writers, poets and literary commentators who will be gathering at Beyond Baroque to celebrate Smith’s life and book is remarkable. All of us who care about the preservation of L.A.’s literary history should make an effort to pay tribute not only to Ed Smith, but to his editor David Trinidad, whose meticulous research has assembled a volume that will interest anyone who is curious about the ambiguous domains of popular culture, art, and poetry.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ed-smith-poems-journals-a-tribute-and-book-launch-tickets-61257964220?fbclid=IwAR1ybdIJVKWhqMrxBANaLuSXNzE3SFOThmjPgGbLt5YhlO1zWz16E8c2Jl4

Turtle Point Press’s publicity statement:

LA’s Punk Poet Ed Smith blazed onto the Los Angeles poetry scene in the early ’80s from the hardcore punk scene. The charismatic, nerdy young man hit home with his funny/scary, off-the-cuff-sounding poems. Punk Rock Is Cool for the End of the World: Poems and Notebooks of Ed Smith brings together Smith’s published books, unpublished poems, excerpts from his extensive notebooks, photos, and ephemera. Come celebrate the irreverent, tweetable, ludicrous, painful, wondrous work of this “punk Dorothy Parker” with Jim Krusoe, Michael Silverblatt, David Trinidad, Amy Gerstler, Bill Mohr, Sheree Rose, Bruce Hainley, Jack Skelley, Benjamin Weissman, and Jane DeLynn.

Beyond Baroque
681 Venice Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291

Saturday, June 15
5 p.m.

On War and Disarmament

June 7, 2019

Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of the landing at Normandy. (The anniversary of the landing at Anzio was hardly noted, as far as I can tell. Quick quiz: name the most famous literary character to take part in that debacle?)

It seemed very odd to have a president at that ceremony whose only protest against the War in Vietnam consisted of his concern to avoid military service. Of course, that would also be more or less be the case if his main opponent in the 2016 election had won instead.

But this is not the most depressing aspect of the current push to expand this country’s military might, all in preparation for another major global conflict. The sad fact is that even the most liberal of the current political candidates have made only the most tepid of commitments to fielding a policy built on the following premise:

A military is strong only in proportion to its capacity to engage in comprehensive disarmament.

I keep getting “personal” e-mail requests from Democratic candidates to support their party. Why should I feed the War Machine, which enjoys feeding at their trough just as much as it does at Trump’s?