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Newsletter


November 2003

Contents


Art Sharing
Sunday, October 5, 2003

Looks like lots of folks had other plans--however, Carl Sloan, Fran Hall and Pippin Sardo showed off delightful and colorful ideas. One of the main topics was film, movie making and Magic Realism. (Fran Hall is taking classes in film making).

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Bruce Taylor's Editorial

Feet of Clay

At this writing, a few days before BOOKFEST, I looked in the program book and, alas, name wasn't listed as a presenter. I looked at all those people who were presenting as those who had published more, done more, more famous, richer, better career etc. ad nauseum, and I realized, as I felt the dismay rise, like bile--ooops--feet of clay, being a "Typical American" again--comparing myself to others and finding my self "less-than", "worth-less", "not as good as"--of course, if I were wildly successful in this society, I could go the opposite way with arrogance--"I've achieved more," "got more awards than--", "that means I'm better than--", "a more accomplished artist/writer/etc. than--" which is the opposite side of the coin--using other people to define whether or not you are ok as you are.

This is the society in which we live and it is toxic. No matter what you do, it's never "good enough". This is all a product of competition, which is a "I win-you lose" mentality. So, if I "win", it means I compare myself to you, find that I have achieved my goals, am better than you and there must be something inherently flawed with you. If I lose, you are better than me, I go into shame and guilt because I'm flawed, not good eough, etc.

Since when was Artistic Expression a competitive sport? But, in our society, it is. And when I saw all those other names of People Who Are Doing Better Than Me, and Who Are More Famous, and Are Somehow More Worthy Of Love/Adoration/Attention than me--Boy, what shame/dismay/despair. That, as Julia Cameron says in The Artist's Way is the Fame and Fortune Drug working. What it says is that you can never be content. You can never enjoy what you have accomplished. You can never be satisfied. It's almost like an addiction where what you get is never enough - because it seems that oneself is never complete, and that's a big bottomless pit to keep filling. It can never be filled.

To be happy and content with life is seen as a "loser" mentality. To not keep forever stiving to be The Best, now and in the future, the best that's ever been - Boy, that's quite an assignment. While one is working on the Statute of Oneself that will outlast Time, the Universe, etc., while one is doing all this striving to be the best,-well, um, it looks like "God"/"The Great Spirit"or Buddha has probably already beaten you to the punch -- whoops--someone else has done it better and guess what? There's nothing you can do about it. So you REMAIN "not as good as--" --no matter WHAT you do. What a bummer!

In the end, there's no such thing as "being better than", because somewhere, sometime-someone will always be "better than" YOU, better than you ever could be. What are we all left with? Yup. Not As Good As No Matter What I Do.

That's exactly where this all leads. That was sure the conclusion Tolstoi reached when he wrote his fine story, "How Much Land Does A Man Need?" I've written about this story before--but to refresh minds--a gentleman in the l800's is in France buying as much land as he can get but it's just never enough. He meets a traveler in Paris who tells him to go to the steppes of Russia, where, for "x" amount of money to a certain tribe of people, he can have as much land as he can walk off from sunrise to sunset:; but, the catch,-he must get back at sunset or he loses the money and the land. So, our hero thinks “Good Deal” and finding this tribe, plunks his rubles down. Then, at sunrise, he goes off to walk his land. We know what happens. He walks off so much land that he has to run like crazy to get back and,-just at sunset, as he reaches the top of the rise from which he began, and leaps for his money, he-has a heart attack. In the end, how much land did he really need? Six feet for his burial.

Even though I'm not on the Bookfest Program this year, even though I'm not famous, you know something? Even though I still feel the sting of Not Good Enough-What’s important is how I act on those feelings. I think I'll act on them by just letting them be there and recognize what they mean. I need to simply keep writing, submitting, making contacts and keeping on the best terms with myself. Once realizing this: the only time I fail--is when I cease doing that which I love. Really enjoying my writing is all that really matters. That is all the "six feet" I really need.

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A Poem By Karen Stein

“The Kitchen Shrink”

She spilled her insides out
Weekly to Anna.
Emotional peelings,
Scoops of feelings, a core
Issue or two, some
Times coming clean
With a hidden fear
Or buried indiscretion
Some fruitful flaw or matter
Which vegetated below
Her conscious mind -
Weekly, all this she
Poured
Down her drained, gullible, and
Self contained teenage daughter
Purging herself
With her self appointed
Kitchen shrink

And, Anna
Having no garbage disposal
Would find her feelings clogged
And inhibitions frozen
In this insolvable
Onslaught of human waste
Excreted in a form
Indigestible, deplorable, not biodegradable
The toxins built
Until the mental
Methane they produced
Erupted in a blaze
Of flaming anger
The white heat
Of which
Lay waste the kitchen
The House and all
Reduced to cinders
And the arsonist
Encased in white
Was driven off
To get another jail -
A lifer -
Prisoner of her
Mother’s absent mind

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Bob Olson's Thoughts

- 1 -

Who Wants to Join the Army?

In these critical times, American soldiers, sailors and marines are sorely needed throughout the world; yet, who wants to join the army or any military service? Recruitment must be way down because all the privileges for soldiers are being cut to meet government expenses. However, we need not worry, as Donald Rumsfeld explains, “We don’t need a larger Army. When we call all of our reserves into active service we have all of the soldiers we need.”

American soldiers, sailors, marines and air force men and women fall into two categories: full-time servicemen and women, and reserves called into active duty. Reserves undergo military training one weekend a month. They may be called into active service at any time, with the understanding that their civilian jobs will be held for their return. The reserve military is intended to fill support positions relieving full-time soldiers for combat or hazardous duty. Not so today. Today reserve servicemen are placed wherever needed, sometimes on the front lines of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As our country fights George Bush’s War on Terror, while most Americans face economic catastrophe, unable to hold their jobs or pay their bills, patriotism still thrives. We support our troops! Does President Bush support our troops? Here are some of the shortfalls:

  • When President Bush officially declared the War in Iraq was over this immediately cut the hazardous pay for all soldiers and their families..
  • A group of retired military officers is presently protesting Bush’s decision to stop retired soldiers from collecting both military and civilian pensions.
  • A pentagon regulation is now being enforced that charges wounded American soldiers for the cost of their meals while hospitalized.
  • Reserve soldiers are placed into dangerous service beyond their limited training and capability.
  • Reserve soldiers usually have their tour of duty extended, causing undo hardship to them and their families.
  • Very often reserve soldiers find that their civilian job has not been held for them. Their company has either been downsized or gone out of business.
  • When soldiers are temporarily returned home for R&R they are flown to the East or West coast, and then expected to pay their own way, on whatever arrangements they can make, to get home.
  • Who would want to join the army under these circumstances? Americans truly support our troops as they face constant danger throughout the world. Our soldiers, and all other American workers, face disaster as security disappears. Yet, while most Americans struggle to survive, President George Bush’s tax cuts for the rich identify his priorities. The only soldiers better off today are the Iraqi soldiers who fought against us and are now being paid by the American government.

    - 2 -

    On Friday, October 17, 2003 Bill Moyer’s TV program Now revealed how to have a successful school system under President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind Program” - LIE.

    Rod Paige, the former superintendent of the Houston, Texas schools and our current Secretary of Education, is the designer of “No Child Left Behind”. The Houston schools receive “excellent” ratings under this program; however, the top administrators responsible should go to jail or prison, because it is a felony under Texas law to lie about testing results. Under “No Child Left Behind” guidelines, Houston schools are rated “the very best”. Educational, administrative practices in Houston seem to be typical for Texas, where a false measure of educational achievement is indicated because:

  • A reduced high school dropout rate indicates “zero” dropouts in Houston. (This seems strange when only about fifty percent of the students entering high school complete high school.) A school administrator (who is a retired military officer with a doctorate in education) is “punished” with custodial duties - for revealing that students who do drop out of school are simply “not listed” on the next report. These students “disappear” from the statistics - as though they never existed.
  • Two high school counselors state that the high testing performance on the No Child Left Behind program at their school really measures only a select group of students - those with high previous test scores. All other students, even those with college bound abilities and aspirations, are labeled “special education”, reclassified and reassigned to remedial classes to keep their test results from tainting the school’s performance. It is against the law to arbitrarily classify students for special education. These illegally reclassified students have their college dreams dashed when they are eliminated from school testing by a phony process that labels them “special education” to grade their school a success instead of a failure.
  • Of course in Texas No Child Left Behind really means no “privileged” child left behind, just like tax cuts for “all” Americans means tax cuts for “privileged” Americans in George W. Bush’s country.

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     Last updated:  March 7, 2002