The tortured writer

I might also have titled this “the tortured reader.” (there are a ton of news stories I haven’t yet gotten to today)

Most creative people have a bigger audience than themselves and I am no exception. While I write for myself I can’t help but look over my shoulder whether its making snow sculptures, news or posting on my blog. We are social creatures and we do not operate in a vacuum. We differ in how much we let our audience sway us. Some people pander to the masses. Others confound the masses for a smaller slice of audience. But even this smaller slice may tempt us to pander to their particular interests. At its most isolated a creative person may begin to pander to his/her own peculiarities.

This is a lot of preface to say I check my blog stats almost every day to see what’s cooking. I’ve been a very spotty blogger since a little before 2019 began. Its not my first drier spell but it is a sign that I’m keen to do something more than reach the smallish audience I’ve pontificated before for the past 13 years. My eight loyal readers know I’ve agonized about writing a book for ages. In fact, my first serious foray into writing was self publishing a 200 plus page adventure novel for young readers. It was a great test of my perseverance but a creative disappointment.

Yesterday I attempted unsuccessfully to write a third weekly column for the Duluth Reader. I had a subject I was eager to write about. So eager was I that I went to the Duluth Public Library at noon and spent a couple hours researching old newspapers on microfilm. Rather than print out the stories that caught my eye I simply took a cell phone picture of them. This is the picture that would have graced my column had I finished it.

Finding this was almost a confirmation that God or the fates wanted me to write the column. Here’s the story. Continue reading

Piss n’ Vinegar Politics

There is an asinine level of outrage on the American right over some female Congresswomen who have dared to tweak cherished tropes. For years Republicans have accused anyone of faulting Israel over the abandoned peace talks of being an anti-Semite. Or, to be fair, maybe this began with the cheerleaders of AIPAC. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, following the President down the Twitter hole recently tweeted. “Its all about the Benjamins, baby.” I guess that since Benjamin (like about 40 percent of all American names) has a Jewish origin it was said by her critics that she was using a Jewish trope. Really, Ben Franklin was about as far as you can get from Jewish. Of course, suggesting that Republicans craved Jewish money may have had more resonance and I’ll be the first to admit that Jewish bankers have been pilloried in Europe all the way back to the middle ages as occupations involving usury (charging interest for borrowing money) were shunned by Christians. Often this was a wonderful charge to bring when a King decided he didn’t want to pay the bankers back. But back to Ilhan…

If this was part of her charge the only part that was correct is that politicians fund raise mindlessly. In recent decades the political machines expect them (the non-multimillionaires) to prove their worth by spending 30 hours a week like pimpled high school drop outs grubbing for money on the phone. But if suggesting that the money that funds American politics is driven by the 1 percent of Americans who are Jewish Ilhan was dead wrong. AIPAC, Soros and Bloomberg wield lots of money but not enough to overcome the PACs that fund Congressional campaigns.

The real complaint against AOC and Ilhan is that they are full of piss and vinegar. That line from Ilhan about the ” …Benjamins Baby.” That is so sassy and hip. It could have come from Donald Trump who has gone deeper into the gutter than Ilhan by saying the Nazi imitating torch bearers of Charlottesville were full of “fine people.”

I like a little piss and vinegar in my candidates. Piss and vinegar is a reaction to stuff shirts who often seemed to be above the average person’s travails. As much a I detest Donald Trump you have to give him credit for finding the P and V that a lot of Republican voters were desperately looking for. Of course, the original Republican full of Piss and Vinegar was the man Donald Trump called a loser for getting shot down over Vietnam and getting caught. What Trump was really saying was that McCain was a sucker for being a patriot when he could have claimed to have a bone spur and gotten out of the war.

The problem with Trump is that he is also full of shit which reminds me of the crass joke I thought was really funny when I was 13.

There were three scientists who wanted to see how long a pig could go without pooping. So, they put a cork in the pig’s butt and waited. The pig swelled up and swelled up until he almost didn’t fit in the laboratory any more. Being prudent scientists they trained a monkey to remove corks from various objects and when it was sufficiently adept they stood back as far as they could from the pig and set the monkey loose.

Weeks later the three scientists woke in the hospital and began comparing notes. “The last thing I remember is buckets and buckets of poop,” said the first. The last thing I remember said the second one was oceans and oceans of piss,” said the second. “All I can remember,” said the third, “is that poor monkey trying to put the cork back in.”

I’m no longer in junior high and as proof I’ll note something that I missed when I heard that joke 57 years ago. How the heck did piss get past that particular cork into the punch line?

More books one purchased one read and another reviewed

I had Claudia order this book five or six months ago. As she’s been stuck at home recuperating from her heart surgery she suggested I read it to her. Its quite slim. By Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon, was completed in about 1931 but only recently published. A Barracoon was a place where African prisoners were held before being put aboard the ships of Scottish and Yankee slave traders. Hurston learned of the last living slave from the last shipment of slaves to the United States (the ship “Cudjo” was transported on ran a Civil War blockade) and went to interview him about his life.

The book faithfully records his simple dialect for the sake of authenticity. It reminded me of something I have been thinking about recently. Black Americans sound different today than they did when I was a kid fifty years ago. Although a few blacks have sounded “white” since the days of house slaves; the vast majority, deprived of educations and sequestered in slave quarters, developed a distinctive patois. In the 1960’s Julian Bond was an exception with his then distinctive Middle American voice. (Here he is in 1982 making some sound observations about Socialism that would echo in the face of today’s Republican hysteria on the same subject.) Today the acting world is re pleat with black actors whose voices betray only the slightest hint of growing up in an inner city or south.

Here’s Cudjo talking about the Barracoon: Continue reading

More on Ilhan

I am pleased that the new Congress members have stuck up for Ilhan Omar and added Islam to Judaism in a resolution opposing unfair criticism. My initial defense of Congresswoman Omar could similarly be amended. So today when an old friend “M” emailed me out of the blue and asked for my Minnesota perspective on the subject I replied by sending him my colunm as well as an even more nuanced critique from Minnesotan and New York Times reporter, Tom Friedman.

Here’s M’s Query:

——– Original message ——–
From: M
Date: 3/7/19 6:42 AM (GMT-06:00)
To: Harry Welty
Subject: Ilhan

What’s your perspective on Ilhan Omar?

“Omar sparked a new firestorm one week ago for criticizing what she called “the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” again comparing organized political support for Israel to lobbying efforts for “the NRA, or fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma.””

Inquiringly,M

I sent this reply to my old friend:

On Thu, Mar 7, 2019 at 9:03 AM harrywelty wrote:

M _ _ _ _,

This is a column I sent in to our local tabloid immediately after the firestorm.

http://m.duluthreader.com/articles/2019/02/15/16051_you_have_my_sympathy_ilhan

Tom Friedman had a more nuanced critique at the Times.

https://nyti.ms/2XHiybp
Bloviatingly, H

Hollywood Influence and Juan Percent

Although I disabled the comment function on my blog from the beginning in 2006 I did so with some reluctance. I like intelligent argument. Lately I’ve been playing devil’s advocate with some folks on Facebook that some would call trolls. Sometimes they surprise me and offer up genuinely useful information.

“Juan Percent” has been weighing in on my content for several months on the Reader webpage. Usually its been snarky or smart ass stuff. But while I’m not averse to snappish comebacks they really don’t accomplish much. I’ve found that Juan is willing to engage in give and take. He recently played devil’s advocate with me on my column about the private conversation that Billy Graham had with Dick Nixon. I’ve copied it below but you can also find it on the Reader’s Webpage.

Here’s Juan’s challenge:

“Eight year’s later his cover was blown when the infamous Nixon tapes were made public. They were damning. ”They’re [the Jews] the ones putting out the pornographic stuff,” Graham told Nixon. ”The Jews stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain,” he continued.”

Harry, this is heady stuffy. I ask you – If the Jews HAD a stranglehold on this country, (through the media: movies, and news) would that be good or bad?

Here’s my Reply to Juan:

Juan,

If they did it would be troubling. They did have a significant presence in Hollywood. Still do. I would argue that this presence has been very positive. That would take another column just to skim the surface of my argument.

I could make the same argument over the control of Fox by confederates of Roger Ailes considering the reliance of so many baby boomers on its “fair and balanced” news.” But rather than call it a “stranglehold” I would say the same thing I said about the possibility that Jews had a stranglehold on “pornagraphic” Hollywood in the early part of the 20th century. It would be troubling.

That’s the price we pay for the 1st Amendment.

By the way, should you like to send me an email I’ve finally posted it on this page of Lincolndemocrat.

Deferring to print

Yesterday I seem to have decided to put more emphasis on print over pixels. I took the “Glaciers?” post and turned it into a Not Eudora column for Duluth’s local tabloid The Reader. I told the Reader I would be trying to write weekly columns for them instead of every other week. I added that if that was too much they could publish the column I sent them the following week when they expected my contribution. I don’t know what they will decide to do with it but my head is full of ideas I’d like to see in print.

I work much harder to tighten up printed materials than most of my blog posts which are frequently short and therefor easier to edit. I haven’t attempted to average them but, other some long reveries of several thousand words, most of my posts are probably closer to letter-to-the-editor length 250 to 400 words. In Reader columns I strive for 800 words although my Sympathy for Ilhan column with its prologue was probably closer to 1,300 words. You could tell from the full version they crammed on a single page the week before last. They had failed to include seven paragraphs in their initial publication. You almost needed a magnifying glass to read it in the full version.

Anyway, the column I’ve just written is titled “Glaciers and Galaxies.” I took it from the local to the cosmic.

I may attempt to write a short blog post daily in the future with a similar intent to expanded for Reader columns or other print projects. I can’t predict if my blog output will stutter. Stay tuned.

Glaciers!!!

I was going to use a different title for this as my previous post suggested. It was to be “Read this you climate denying numnuts“. But “Glaciers!” is better because it reminds me of a family story.

This post was prompted by a story in the DNT a couple days ago but couldn’t find it on their website. But this will do. This news article stuck a cord in me.

When my children were little I developed a reputation for tiresome pedantry. (endless and boring explanations) Rather than getting all bent out of shape over my reputation I put it to good advantage with my nephews. One day I tried putting them to bed with the story of “Mr. Boring.” Mr.Boring talked about glaciers. He spoke slowly with big words and his super power was putting people to sleep. For a year or two afterward my nephews wanted me to tell them more Mr. Boring stories.

The starting point for original boring story were our Great Lakes which even now are full of the water that melted 10,000 years ago from the glaciers which covered half of the United States and all of Canada. A mere 10,000 years of rainfall has not been enough time to flush and replace the snow and ice that had accumulated over millions of years in the lake basins gouged out by the glaciers. And even now, 10,000 years later the ground beneath our feet is still upwelling like a cushion freed from our butts after we stand up.

But I’m not sure I ever considered that the original glacier was still in existence. A tiny remnant still exists covering one of Canada’s arctic islands. But it won’t be there for long. It survived two and a half million years but will be gone in a couple hundred more. As the story says our climate is warmer than when the mile thick North American glaciers began melting. This new climate is also turned its attention on Greenland and Antarctica as it hasn’t since our earliest ancestors stood up on the steppes of Africa.

To me the tribulations of a man who never expected to be President but only wanted to build his brand and his billions while blaming his expected defeat on election fraud are just piffle compared to what ten billions of humans will do to the Earth.
Panicking Republicans are manufacturing new crises to stave off the assault on their President’s. OMG -Minnesota has an Israel-bashing Muslim congresswomen !!! AOC has a Green New Deal!!! And don’t forget Socialism! or Impeachment!. Maybe they should have thought about that more when they tried to impeach Bill over mostly consensual sex.

Meanwhile the Earth is burning……..literally.

Putting the patient thru her pace-making

Claudia and I are almost through two weeks of convalescence. My part is nursemaid. I fleetingly thought of taking a picture of my sweetie in her week of hospitalization but it was a fleeting thought. So many tubes, bruises, medical monitors, rumpled bedding and flimsy hospital gowns. So instead I present a sketch of mine from our patio circa about 2000. The chief difference today is that the book she is reading is on her cellphone.

The surgery to replace her aortic heart valve was a success however there were two disappointments. First, Claudia is an old…..ish, Iowa girl who’s uncle raised pigs on a farm. We were hoping she would get a “pig” valve to celebrate her family’s history. She still shares the farm with her siblings. Sadly, it is a bovine valve. Secondly, the original valve was so cluttered with calcium that in removing it nature’s electrical wiring had to be replaqced with the insertion of a pacemaker.

We will both have to return to the year 2000 when we first became empty-nesters and took up oenology. (the study of wine) Her beta blocker will make further consumption of this noble spirit rare indeed. I will visit the considerable wine cave in the basement only rarely no longer get regular reminders of my former school board colleagues whose picture stares up from the 4×8 election plywood billboard I designed for one of her campaigns. I needed it to rest wine racks on.

I’ve done little writing for the last month with this preoccupying my thoughts. The medical treatment NOT the dearth of alcohol to follow. But I have done a lot of reading and thinking. I’m not alone. NPR had a story today about geriatrics on their last legs pining to see the Mueller Report released before they visit St. Peter.

Today I might try to crank out a column for the Reader. I almost feel like weekly columns are pent up inside my head clamoring for escape instead of the mere every-other-week column I’ve been producing to date. I’m thinking about shifting more of my words to print than to the blog. I’m still undecided about this. I have to fuss a lot harder when something is going to print.

But. I am about to write a blog entry with a subject that has long been on my mind. It will have a little ruder title than I generally attach to my Reader columns. I think my eight loyalists will be able to handle it, civility be damned.

Where did the last two months go?

I just now pulled out my 2019 calendar from its spot next to the computer. I’ve kept them by my side for a quarter century. Until now I’ve been far more likely to enter important dates in them than in my cell phone’s calendar. Apparently that’s changed. This is the first time I’ve looked at the paper calendar since I tucked it away after Blue Cross Blue Shield sent it to me for advertising purposes. There is not a single entry in it and today is the end of February. One sixth of the year is over and I’ve not used it once. I did notice that February is “American Heart Month.” How appropriate. My wife came home yesterday from open heart surgery. The first 24 hours of freedom has been challenging but both the patient and nurse are doing well.

And that’s what I meant for this post to be about given the inactivity of my fingers blogwise. My eight loyal readers deserve to know how things turned out. The hard part is done. Now the long part begins…….probably eight weeks worth of healing.

I haven’t completely given up writing. I still have my bi-weekly Reader Column. I found time the day before I brought Claudia home to crank one out. I’ll link to it in the next post. My limited blogging has not stilled my busy mind. There are a wealth of subjects I’d love to have written about. For instance the fact that Duluth is the home of one of the actors in the hit Fox TV series that Claudia and I just discovered – Brooklyn 99. Its the only story I read in today’s Trib although I gave the NY Times a good work out…… Just as well. Its got a brief mention in my column in today’s Reader.

The helpful distraction of snow

My children are in town to sit beside their Mother in the ICU as she recovers from surgery. I am grateful. It gives me a chance to slip home and feed the cats, run errands and shovel the snow which is poised to break a February record for inches fallen.

As I was doing this today an intrepid young reporter from Fox News who has lived but three weeks in Duluth walked up 21st Avenue (In the street of course as I have for the first year ever completely given up on trying to shovel the sidewalk along the avenue) and asked me if she could interview me about the treacherous traffic on our Avenue. I warned her that I wasn’t your typical random interviewee as a well known local eccentric. She interviewed me nonetheless.

Its silly but I’m happy to have something to share with my eight loyal readers:

https://www.fox21online.com/2019/02/20/cars-battle-hills-amidst-inches-of-snow/

Serious Family News

To my Eight loyal readers,

I have had something on my mind for several weeks which helps explain the paucity of my posts. An inquiry from my Father’s Aunt Nancy a couple minutes ago merited a reply. In fact, after finishing it I decided it was as good a way as any to bring my readers up to speed on the personal side of my life.

As an aside. I came home from my rehearsal with the Duluth Symphony Chorus tonight and found Claudia listening to a CNN New Hampshire Town Hall for Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. We were both very impressed.

Now to Aunt Nancy’s email

Hi, Harry

Reports are the you have had huge snowfalls this winter.  Are you still creating wonderful sculptures.

And, is there a sight where I can view? All is well here — just huge amounts to rain and more on the way.

Nancy

And here is a lot more reply than Aunt Nancy probably expected:

Nancy, Happy New Year. 

February has been very generous. Around 30 inches. But I got my sculpting in earlier. Just after the new year a big baby ended up on my lawn. He had cheeto colored skin. Someone knocked his head off so I made a replacement sculpture. 

Check this news story out for – https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/government-and-politics/4551237-duluthian-creates-trump-snow-sculpture – the first sculpture then this news story about its replacement. https://kbjr6.com/news/top-stories/2019/01/14/welty-changes-u

The last couple weeks I have been more focused on Claudia. To our surprise she Learned she needed an aortic heart valve replacement. The surgery is tomorrow morning. We will check into the hospital at 5:30 AM.

Claudia’s health is stellar and the operation while dramatic has become routine. We are optimistic she will come through like a trooper. I will keep you posted.

A Weld in my future?


I just caught a whiff of a challenge to Donald Trump in 2020 that greatly appealed to me. Skimming a couple of news stories and headlines on the Internet it appears that one of my my last remaining Republican heroes, William Weld, will be challenging Donald Trump. I just found a twitterfeed (I think that’s what it was) and donated $100.00 to his campaign. If he ends up running as a third party candidate I’ll wish him well but support a Democrat instead. But as a fellow who recently forced myself back into the GOP as a anti-Putin candidate for Congress I will be happy to help Bill Weld.

He’s been out of circulation for years. He’s a year older than Trump but he’ll have my support and unlike Trump he’s not taking a sub lethal dose of Rosuvastatin. I’ve mentioned Weld a few times on the blog. I’m sure I only had good things to say about him. Look for yourself.

I’m not happy. The Reader cut seven paragraphs from today’s Column

I’m sure its an accident.

Without the reader is tossed into an ocean without a view to the coast. Normally I don’t publish them to this blog. Instead I link to the Reader’s online site. Today I’ve put the whole column together on the blog. You can read it in the post that proceeds this one.

I’ve asked them to print it whole next week. My eight loyal readers don’t have to wait. Just go back to the previous post.

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."