“I don’t even think Jesus could change my mind. . .”

Because it remains too hot to work in the garden, I’ve been holed up indoors watching  movies. Some are so forgettable that they’re just background noise while I work on other projects, however lately I stumbled upon two in a row that addressed how easily people suspend reason for blind faith. First, I should say that my spiritual beliefs are based on personal experience and would probably shock my agnostic and atheist friends but I keep them to myself. Nor do I want to discuss anyone else’s beliefs – unless they want to tell me about a UFO or BigFoot sighting, of course.

Now to the movies I saw.  The first was simply called Bernie.  I’d seen clips of this movie before but wasn’t interested because of the synopsis: “A Texas town comes to the defense of a mortician’s assistant who shot an heiress  in the back and then stuffed her body in a freezer.” Sounds like a slasher movie, right?

Actually, it’s based on an incident that took place in 1998 in Carthage Texas.  Because I knew that going in, I assumed that all of the interviews in the movie were interviews with the townspeople of Carthage. Then I recognized a couple of famous actors.  Whoops. 

Probably not the actual prosecutor in Carthage Texas.

The story’s a familiar one: a young man becomes the companion of a wealthy old lady. Eventually he gains access to her finances, then grows tired of her clinginess and shoots her in the back. However, there’s a twist. After the murder, he uses her money to become the town’s most popular philanthropist. They all love Bernie!  Even when the body’s found and Bernie confesses, they refuse to believe he could have actually committed murder.  Perhaps because no one liked the old woman, or perhaps because they’ve benefitted from her murder.  One by one they look into the camera and say things like: “It’s up to God to judge, not me” and  “I don’t think even Jesus could change my mind [about Bernie’s innocence].”

The case became the first in Texas history where the prosecutor requested a change of venue because of bias in favor of the defendant. (BTW – he was convicted in a different county)

The second movie was Inherit the Wind, a fictionalization of the Scopes (Monkey) Trial of 1925. A teacher is arrested and put on trial for teaching evolution to a group of southern high school students, igniting a wave of hatred and threats of violence. The defense attorney, played by Spencer Tracey, attempts to argue to the court and the town that God’s greatest gift to mankind is the ability to wonder and if children are told it is a sin to wonder, civilization will spin in reverse.

Seeing these two movies almost back to back answered a question that has bothered me since the election.  How can so many people who claim to be Christians back a man who espouses a doctrine of isolationism, mocks handicapped people and brags he can shoot people on Fifth Avenue and still be worshipped?  And not just support him,  but with a blinding certainty that is frightening to those of us who want to retain our freedom to wonder.  

It’s like a character in Bernie said “I don’t even think Jesus could change my mind. . .”  Not even Jesus.“Darwin had it wrong. Man’s still an ape,” Gene Kelly as E. K. Hornbeck of the Baltimore Herald to Spencer Kelly in Inherit the Wind.

Tell Everyone You Know!

Love St. Judes

Buffalo Tom Peabody's blog 2

A short story about Dreams…

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Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz, known professionally by his stage name Danny Thomas had a dream…

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Danny Thomas was born in 1912, the son of Lebanese immigrants and raised in Toledo Ohio.
As the founder of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Danny’s dream came true. Groundbreaking for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital…

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A magnificent dream come true, saving children’s lives at zero cost to the families! St Jude Children’s Research Hospital also finding cures and developing therapies that save children’s lives.

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At this very moment Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and Congressional Republicans have a nightmare for you… ending Medicaid and taking Healthcare away from over 30 million Americans.

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I choose to stand with an American Hero, Danny Thomas! I choose to make the dream come true for all!

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Your best friends,
Buffalo Tom, Gunther, Iggy & Larry
July 21, 2017

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#ThursdayDoors: Sky Hearts

I haven’t been blogging or writing much lately.  The reason: the heat. The heat steals all my ambition and leaves me longing for short days and long nights, the rain, the fog and particularly the drizzle. Even when a cool breeze is blowing, being outside this time of year requires pockets full of Kleenex. Allergy medicine only renders me more useless. However today is Thursday Doors and so I have roused myself sufficiently to finally move on from Janis Joplin.

This is the entrance to American Conservatory Theater (ACT), also known as the Geary, in downtown San Francisco.  It’s a non-profit theater and acting school which has launched the successful careers of innumerable actors since it was built in 1910. The doors are not that fancy unless you look at the detailing around the portico.

The Curran Theater is right next door.

This theater hosts commercially successful plays and musicals whereas the ACT focuses on pieces that are meant to be discussed and analyzed.  There are, of course, hundreds of theaters in San Francisco but these two along with the Orpheum (which is further down Market Street) are the biggies. Of course, we were in the City to see a play so finding these theaters and their doors was something I expected to do. No surprise there. However it’s always the unexpected that is the most fun to share.

Like a plane forming a heart over Union Square. I have no idea why.  A marriage proposal?

And then after lunch we stumbled upon this interesting “window”?

A peace sign made of license plates.  On the other side of the wall is this most unusual conference room.

Sure beats the conference rooms where I spent way too many hours of my life. I don’t know why CEOs think something creative is going to come out of a boring, drab room with no windows but they do. We would not have discovered these two delightful places had I not had to pee. They were both in the basement of the hotel/restaurant where we’d chosen to have lunch: The Zeppelin.

If the heat’s not getting you down (or even if it is) head on over to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors event. Perhaps someone else has stumbled onto something unique while trying to find a place to pee.

If you’re going to San Francisco

Poster from the Fillmore circa 1966

On Sunday we were invited to the Geary Theatre in downtown San Francisco to see A Night With Janis Joplin.  Had it been any other play we probably would have said no. You see, over a million people were expected to descend on downtown San Francisco on that same day for one of the largest Pride Parades in the world.  If you’ve ever been to downtown SF you know it’s a densely populated area, particularly down Market Street (the parade route).  An extra million people during the middle of the day would definitely impact our ability to get to the theater, even on mass transit. But Janis Joplin is San Francisco. And so we went.

We arose from the bowels of the Powell Street station into the heart of the parade which we were unable to see but heard. It was so disorienting to be in the churn of revelers that I had to pause and check the iPhone to get our bearings.  But finally we shuffled through the glitter, the rainbow balloons and the confetti and made to our destination.

The “play” got off to a raucous start with the actress playing Joplin belting out Piece of My Heart with such ferocity that I began to wonder how the poor gal was going to make it through the next 90 minutes without doing irreparable damage her throat.  But luckily the playwright had a plan.  “Joplin” pauses every now and then to tell her audience about her life and each of the jazz and blues legends who inspired her, then summons their ghosts to take over the stage while she rests her vocal chords. Later she  returns to demonstrate how she took their songs and interpreted them for the rock genre. One of the songs was Summertime from Porgy and Bess.

Here’s Joplin’s interpretation:

Another was Odetta’s Down on Me, an old Spiritual or Freedom Song:

For this song, Joplin actually changed the lyrics, deleting the Bible references.

Our friends were split as to which versions they preferred but I loved them all.  Books can inspire movies, plays and even other books but in the end they always belong to the writer, whereas a song always belongs to the heart of a singer.

Do you have favorite interpretations of songs that veer wildly from first renditions? If so, I’d love to hear about them.  It’s kind of an obsession of mine.

Flaming Balls of Gas

It’s that month again; the one in which I get to turn another year older. When I was a child I got it into my head that the date of my birth held the key to my destiny. That I had been sent to earth for some special reason. By this logic anyone born on my birthday was special too. This idiocy was reinforced when I found out how many famous people were born on May 26th. 

John Wayne was born May 26, 1907. He rode horses and shot guns.  I tried to ride a horse once but the critter paid me no never mind (as my grandmother would say) galloping off into the desert until it finally got tired.  Luckily it knew the way back to the barn because I sure didn’t.  Clearly being a cowboy star was not in my stars.

Sally Ride was born May 26, 1951. At one time I wanted to be an astronaut. My motives were entirely selfish.  I wanted to sail off into space to find the mothership that deposited me on Earth like a demented stork with a sick sense of humor.  But then I hit high school and realized I have math dyslexia.  I can’t even copy down a telephone number without transposing the numbers.  Plus they drink their own urine in space,  Yuck. Did I ever mention that  I’m a real picky eater?

Stevie Nicks was born on May 26 1948 and Peggie Lee, May 26. 1920. I tried out  for choir once and sang so beautifully that the choral director suggested I consider a career in comedy.

Indeed, of all the celebrities born on May 26th (Dorothea Lange, James Arness, Jack Kervokian to name a few) the only one I feel a kinship with is Isadora Duncan born May 26, 1877.  I love to go barefoot in the garden. I love to dance in loose clothing. And I suppose one day my scarf will get caught in the spokes of a Bugatti and that will be end.

As I got older I realized that having my picture taken all the time or reading about myself in “stars who’ve aged badly” would have ended, well, badly.  Very badly.  It’s a good thing my path was not one that led to celebrity.

Do you feel a kinship with any celebrity born on the same day as you or are the stars just flaming balls of gas twirling out in space?

ThursdayDoors: Prayers for the Hopeless

Last week I did my patriotic duty and showed up for jury duty. Unfortunately I showed up on the wrong day. Heck, I wasn’t even there in the right month.

I blame my blunder on having to reschedule twice and, in the process, getting confused. Yeah, right.

Anyway,  not wanting to waste a morning (and because I had no desire to get back on the freeway during rush hour) I decided to wander around the small but historic town of Martinez California.

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Martinez is the county seat, thus most of the courthouses are located here. The sheriff’s deputies don’t let you take pictures of the security entrances for some reason so I took the above shot from across the street.  The men standing in front are offering free prayers for those entering the courthouse. The town is filled with signs also offering hope to the hopeless or the guilty but only if you’re willing to pay

Martinez is also full of antique stores. I’m not sure what the two have in common.  Perhaps you know.

I stopped at funky cafe down near the railroad station

where, while waiting for an egg sandwich, I picked up a black journal lying on a driftwood table.  It was filled with drawings and scribbles from patrons also waiting for egg sandwiches:

One person loved her thighs.

Another waxed philosophical.  He or she is far wiser than me.  But perhaps “My Life is a Mess 101” is a college class.

This one had a slightly more positive message.  Perhaps a bit of weed helped.

Some drew pictures describing how they felt with no words.  I’m not sure but the guy in the upper left of this scribble seems to be holding both a joint and a penis.  If I were to guess, I’d say a disgruntled teenage girl drew this picture.

Every page of the book was filled which meant I was not invited to participate. As I flipped through the pages, a young man, not more than fifteen, with torn and dirty jeans and carrying a heavy backpack entered and asked politely to use the bathroom.  The staff, themselves all young, tattooed and multiply pierced, agreed then stood beyond the counter whispering. The boy was in the bathroom for about ten minutes, then exited and asked to buy a chocolate croissant.

“Did you run away?”  the staff asked almost in unison to which he answered, “No I’m homeless.”

As I left the cafe, one of the older staff members (the manager?) was sitting at a booth with the homeless youth. The scene lightened my mind as I walked back to my car past the prayers for the hopeless brigade and the bail bondsmen’s offices. I knew that magically a blank page had appeared in the black journal for someone lost.

Please visit Norm Frampton’s #ThursdayDoors event for more pictures of doors and their stories.

 

Two Oars Cutting the Water

A fitting post for Mother’s Day and beyond from Duke Miller.

tin hats

(Dedicated to Teresa and Marshall.)

I have never loved until now.  For years the word scarcely escaped my lips.  Women would wait and still they waited until I was no more.  In my family I only used it with my father, mother, and one of my grandmothers.  As to my sisters, the word just didn’t seem right.  Was a brother meant to love his sisters? Of course, but I was an idiot back then.  I could not see, since my eyes had been poked out with burned sticks at Christmas.

I spoke love to one of my grandmothers. Nanny was a religious woman, a piano player, and born of the depression and because I had asthma and the air was clean in the tiny town where she lived, I’d visit in the autumn and spring.  I could roam freely down the limestone rock streets.  Sometimes the tornadoes came and we…

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