The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories

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Death of a Superhero

It seems odd to attack and destroy a national hero, but, then, this is part of American culture, or any culture, when the wrong people are in charge. Naturally, I’m talking about Lance Armstrong—perhaps the greatest cyclist who ever lived—and the USADA—an agency of the U.S. government, unassociated with cycling or Olympic sports—who will almost certainly manage what a grand jury or international cycling itself could not achieve, namely, ban Lance for life and strip him of his Tour de France titles. The question, of course, is why. Why spend the time and money? The answer lies, in part, on the war on drugs and its importance in American culture and, also, I suspect, on Lance’s obdurate personality. But, when you think about it, how could he have achieved his seven Tour de France victories without being a hard man? How could he have won without using every means at his disposal? Why would anyone be naive enough to imagine otherwise?

One can only assume that when a grand jury failed to indict Armstrong, all of its evidence was turned over to the USADA. This was done in extremis. The USADA is not a legal forum, but an agency of the U.S. government whose decisions are made by a panel of experts. There is no due process, no ability to present a case or question witnesses, no legal recourse after the decision is made. Essentially, the USADA can and will do anything it pleases. Lance’s only option is to challenge the panel’s legal standing to make a judgment in this matter. Sadly, it is highly unlikely that he will succeed.

How quintessentially American this is. When we discover our superhero is flawed and human, we relish seeing him flayed, bowed, and bleeding, so we can pretend we are patricians sitting in judgment on a wounded gladiator in the Colosseum. The thing I love about Lance is that he will never give us this pleasure.

July 10, 2012   Comments Off on Death of a Superhero

The Burning Wind

I sweep across the earth as a dark shadow
I remember from my dreams
The bird of pain I know so well,
While squirrels lie panting on the grass
More brown than green
And leaves, loosened by the summer sun,
Cascade in sheets of yellow,
Now driven by a burning wind
I finally understand
Because I no longer have the power to resist it.

July 8, 2012   Comments Off on The Burning Wind

Now while stars are falling…

Now while stars are falling like firelit dewdrops
and the ring of mist like some belted milky way
casts shadows of a mauve too purple
to lightly pass,
I forget which sun’s too animate rays
have exploded pollen’s fragrant grasp,
but I, who wear no clothes but the ones I have on,
who sing no other songs but my own,
though magic is for fainter hearts
and echoes are my recompense,
like some noisy songbird sing singly
just before the breaking wave of dawn strikes
the already bruised heel of night.

June 17, 2012   Comments Off on Now while stars are falling…

Knowest Thou This?

These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

June 3, 2012   Comments Off on Knowest Thou This?

You may go…

On my walk through the state park (Fort Snelling) today, I encountered several teachers and a group of young students all speaking German. To say the least, I was surprised. I turned and asked, “Deutschen?” The lead woman looked past me and said to a wayward student, “Bleib stehen,” and then turned to me and said, “Sie darfen gehen.” I laughed. She, of course, thought it was funny too. It turned out they were from the German immersion school in St. Paul.

May 11, 2012   Comments Off on You may go…

View from My Window

May 6, 2012   1 Comment

Holy Shit…It’s So Liberating

In my entire lifetime, I have never once turned the other cheek. Because I was a sensitive, mousey boy, my parents took it upon themselves to toughen me up and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. As a consequence, I don’t take shit from anyone.

But, oddly, I did today. What in hell is going on?

A neighbor walked toward my car as I was exiting my garage. In deference to his having the right-of-way, I waited for him. When he was a few yards from me, he glared with thinly disguished contempt and made no attempt to acknowledge me. In essence, he was saying, I’m cutting you dead. This didn’t surprise me. He’s part of the clique of people that run the neighborhood. I don’t comingle. My strategy has been to ignore them, though one does pay the price with unplanned chance encounters such as this one.

Without knowing what I was doing—was I channeling Gandhi? have I been doing too much yoga?—I raised my hands and put them together in the universal symbol of peace. My lips moved and I found myself repeating the word, “Namaste.”

This had no effect on him—he walked away—but it certainly did on me. I had spontaneously returned love for hatred. I had never once done this before in my life. Holy shit. It’s so liberating.

May 1, 2012   Comments Off on Holy Shit…It’s So Liberating

Who Is Ellen Parr?

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

–Ellen Parr

May 1, 2012   Comments Off on Who Is Ellen Parr?

Forest Tent Caterpillars at Work

April 30, 2012   Comments Off on Forest Tent Caterpillars at Work

Pink Trees

April 10, 2012   Comments Off on Pink Trees