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February 2002


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We Hope To See You At Our Next Celebration

Sunday, February 10, 2002
Kafka's Kastle (Bruce Taylor's Condo)

For directions: Please phone Bob Olson at (425) 747-3879.

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Art Sharing
Sunday, January 20, 2002

Sorry there was no Art Sharing/potluck in January: we had to cancel at the last minute. Our fearless leader, Bruce Taylor, was brutally, but temporarily, (thank the heavens!) felled by a mysterious infection. Roberta Gregory made a valiant effort to contact as many folks as possible, and then posted a note on Bruce's door. After two days of helping support Harborview's payroll as an inmate, Bruce is now home, back to work, and feeling much, much better.

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Other Stuff

Bruce Taylor goes Big Time! Bruce had his article, "A Brief History of Magic Realism" appear in the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America Bulletin. The article's title and Bruce's name was right on front cover! It don't get any better than this. this magazine is the flagship publication of the organization, is internationally distributed, and has immense clout in the field. Bruce is very, very happy.

Bruce's retirement may be postponed yet again, due to unexpected financial considerations. He will retire, probably more toward the end of March.

Bruce's novel class will be starting again in early February at North Seattle Community College.

If you want to advertise something your are doing in our newsletter please call Bob or Bruce. This is an excellent free bulletin board for your announcements.

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Bruce Taylor's Editorial: Infinite Wisdom, Infinite Compassion

Here it is; we're entering 2002, and the biggest news right now, aside from an estimated 60 billion dollars to be spent on the War on Terrorism, (which sure as hell isn't going to end in my lifetime), is the Enron crap with Vice President Cheney stonewalling what he knew about it. And, of course, we all know that the savings evaporation of the thousands who worked for Enron and the massive hole it left in the economy isn't NEARLY as bad as Clinton's Whitewater scandal and his diddling a white house intern -- to Right Wing Nuts. Wow. Amazing how people get so upset with sexual crap in the White House, but people losing their life savings, "Oh, well, just the "genius of c(r)apitalism" (inserted "r" mine), as the Secretary of the Treasury, I believe, commented. Now there's a sympathetic fellow, eh? A seventy billion-dollar crash and burn job, where all sorts of people get lied to and hurt, and it's the "genius of capitalism"?

Well folks, these are the times we live in, and, I guess the people who were paid off to smear Clinton aren't getting as much to smear the Bush presidency, are they? Where are the sensational headlines about immorality in the White House this time? Where's Kenneth Starr now that we need him? Maybe we should call him back and tell him to investigate Bush and Cheney's cozy relationship with Enron. He was so obsessed with Clinton's morality, isn't this right up his alley? Boy, what do you suppose would have happened in the popular/sleaze press had Clinton and Gore had shady dealings with Enron? What do you think?

So, what does this have to do with art? With all the horrors that we see around us, from a never-ending 60-billion-dollar war on terror, to a 70-billion-dollar implosion of fraud and corruption, folks, these are tough times for artists. It's a very toxic, poisonous, politically correct culture, and it feels really unsafe. Yet, yet, what is to be done? What is to be done is the only thing that can be done, stick together, do your art to the best of your ability, and certainly take care of your financial base; (Enron stock is pretty cheap, I hear, but probably not the investment right now - if ever again.) Ever wonder what 70 billion dollars would do? Or 60 billion? Ever wonder what kind of world it could be with that type of money available for schools, space exploration, dealing with global warming, deforestation, monies for the Arts? You know something? It's not gonna happen that money like that is going to be freed up for artists, much less the general good of the 99 percent who aren't nearly as wealthy as the top one percent, who are getting all the tax breaks. Be that as it may be, and as utterly cynical as I am becoming, one thing I will do is my art, my writing, and try like hell to live by the words of Buddha, the one man in history who I most respect and admire: "Infinite wisdom. Infinite compassion."*

*(Given that Buddhism is one of the fastest growing religions in the world, I guess I'm not the only one who feels this way. Maybe someday, in the far, far distant future, maybe long after I'm gone, maybe a lot more people will come to know "Infinite wisdom. Infinite compassion." After all, the only major religion that has never had an international war fought in its name just might have something going for it.)

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An Essay by Sarah Byam Ingersoll:
It's Not Fair, Really

For some reason, which I can neither understand nor forgive, we never get to do it over.

We don't get to do high school over, though by the time we finish college, we have some understanding of why we suffered in utter geekdom. We don't get to do college over, though by the time we've had ten years of experience in the workforce, we realize what we should have studied and why. We don't get to develop discipline retroactively, so that we have it now, when we need it to be habitual - now that there are so many more demands on our time.

We never get to do it over. And somehow that seems patently unfair.

What is worse, our experience does not even prepare us for the future. Changing as quickly as it does, the present bulldozes over us. We find half of what we know becoming obsolete as we try to keep up with the generation coming up behind us. We would warn the younger generation, but they seem to know already how to float from one uncertainty to the next with facility and, more importantly, what we could pass on, they would not possibly listen to - because we never listened to the warnings from our elders. I mean, really, I should have studied computer languages, not human languages.

And yet, how many warnings can you listen to?

How many ways can you prepare for yet another recession, yet another round of layoffs? Regret is like this magic bullet that would fix it all if only we could go back in time and listen to the person who told us to do - which thing? The key is, we did listen to something, to someone. And who is to say that we would have avoided any more pain by path B than we have gotten from path A.

What if a certain number of thumps of the head goes part and parcel with it all?

In America we look at percentages, at the one in a hundred, or a thousand, or a million, who transcend adverse circumstances to succeed. We think this proves that success is possible, if only the other 99 percent of us would get off our collective lazy asses. I like to look at the other side of that percentage equation.

What happens to all the actresses who don't make it in Hollywood? What happens to all the brilliant, top of their class students who couldn't finish college because government funding was cut. What happens to the ones who finished college, but studied something having to do with people rather than business or machines? What happens to the ones who studied business and machines, but who find themselves now suddenly dropped out of the failing dot.com economy?

Safety is an illusion. I have lived through two regional economic downturns that were so bad that people were standing in line hundreds deep for jobs at McDonalds. Unemployment rates in some counties reached 30-40%. I live in Seattle and I can tell you, things out here are going to get worse before they get better. Right now everyone is just holding their breath and praying.

We slip, from working for our dream, to working for survival, and we take these small failures very personally. They are not personal. They may well be part of the process.

The things is, we thought we were done with it all. We thought we had achieved a new era of global stability. We thought there would be no more wars. No more depressions. No more had times. And yet our lives have never really settled into good times - not for long enough to get comfortable.

So is this all so new, or did we really need to ask our parents - Mom, Dad; Grandma, Grandpa - how do you survive hard times?

Because, even though they don't come on us in great world-wide crashes, but fast, lateral, domino-tilting shock waves - hard times come. To the 40,000 families laid off at Boeing. To the restaurants where the people who worked at Boeing ate at. To the 50, 000 families who used to work at the World Trade Center. To the people who work at non-profits, who are losing their jobs because money is going to New York relief and not other charities. To airline workers. To technology workers whose companies were vastly over-valued and whose stocks were brought into line with the crash of September 11.

We don't get to do any of it over.

We don't get to have saved more and spent less. And there is no such thing as a secure industry. We don't get to have maintained better extended families so that our resources are not spread out so thinly when we need to depend on each other for support in hard times. We don't get to have had better communication between our security agencies. We don't get to have had better foreign policy or have asked our older neighbors how best to use the power we found accidentally lying in our laps. We don't get to have been less na´ve.

It's not fair, really.

But then we are, as Americans, so very young.

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A Poem by Rex B. Valentine

From Belt to Suspenders

My belt size is increasing
as I am growing older.
I'm really not obesing,
just narrowing my shoulders.

But now my pants are dragging;
My belt is at a tilt.
So I have stopped all bragging
About how well I'm built.

I think I'll wear suspenders;
They'll give me peace of mind,
And when I'm doing benders
You won't see my behind.

I guess it doesn't matter,
Long's I won't be getting fatter.

(Poem given to Bob Olson at the Writer's on the Beach Conference at Ocean Shores)

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A Poem by Carl Sloan


Exercise in the primal
so we'll write with vigor.
"How-ool. How-ool."
"Ool, ool, erool. How-ool."
"Identify the animal within you."

Everybody having a
howling good time.
But taking it seriously
really getting into it.

Big gal left of the speaker
even looks like a wolf
moistening her lips
with flicking tongue.
Remembering the taste of blood?
Carnivore searching for flesh?
Keeping my head down
case she looks this way.

"Free your creativity.
Let the animal in you come out."
"I'm a wolf."
"I'm an orca."
"I'm a bear."
"I'm a jaguar."
"What kind of animal are you?"

Nobody mentions jackass.
I bring it up merely
for completeness,
you understand.

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Last updated:  Febuary 28, 2002