Friday, July 31, 2009

shaken, not unstirred


Youth has no age, Picasso said.
In the long run we’re all dead.
We can’t deny this troubling truth
by claiming everlasting youth
after it has passed us by,
when, unprepared to ever die,
we’re forced to turn another page,
yellowed, mellowed by old age.

Learning from defeat far more
than victories, we call out “Fore!
never ready to retreat,
conceding that we’ve met defeat
because we’ve aged and lost our spring,
preparing for another fling,
our senior years a lagniappe
coming without handicap.

Although youth has no age I will
continue to feel young until
the long run catches up with me
and brings me to reality,
for though youth really is confined
to those who’re young, the undersigned
will take Picasso at his word,
by life still shaken, not unstirred.

On July 28 Thomas L. Friedman wrote a column in the NYT celebrating the near-victory in the US Open by 59-year old Tom Watson (“59 Is The New 30”):

Watson’s run was freaky unusual — a 59-year-old man who had played his opening two rounds in this tournament with a 16-year-old Italian amateur — was able to best the greatest golfers in the world at least a decade after anyone would have dreamt it possible. Watching this happen actually widened our sense of what any of us is capable of. That is, when Kobe Bryant scores 70 points, we are in awe. When Tiger Woods wins by 15 strokes, we are in awe. But when a man our own age and size whips the world’s best — who are half his age — we identify. Of course, Watson has unique golfing skills, but if you are a baby boomer you could not help but look at him and say something you would never say about Tiger or Kobe: “He’s my age; he’s my build; he’s my height; and he even had his hip replaced like me. If he can do that, maybe I can do something like that, too.”

On July 31, 2009, Charles Bock responded enthusiastically to Thomas Friedman's article by quoting Picasso, who said, “Youth has no age.”

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/31/09

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If Sarah Palin Looked Like Golda Meir

If Sarah Palin looked like Golda,
older and Alaska-colder,
would she be warming cockles
of our hearts in her debacles?
To have a race within your pocket
you do not need to be a rocket
scientist, but if you whine,
and do not reach the finish line,
the voters aren’t inclined to give
you their support as Tel-Aviv
once gave to Golda. Sarah Palin,
weepin’, gnashin’ teeth and wailin’,
cranky, crass and somewhat screechy,
prim, unpresidential, preachy,
aware electors will not choose her
is acting like a most sore loser,
by casting blame left, right and center
on every media tormentor,
collecting grievances like rent
while hoping to be President,
encouraging eviction of
the voters who don’t send her love.
It’s problematic. Why does Sarah––
compared with Golda clearly fairer––
do this, abandoning Alaska?
Perhaps we’ll find out if we ask her,
but since most probably we can’t,
just let her whine some more, and rant:
like dead fish that can’t swim, she’ll molder,
far more forgettable than Golda.
Of course if she were half as smart
as Tina Fey, she’d win my heart,
but since she isn’t, hope, not glory,
is her republican sad story.

Inspired by an observation made by Mike Murphy, a former John McCain strategist, made about Sarah Palin, commenting on her resignation from the position of Governor of Alaska and her rants about what she called “American apologetics”. Mike Murphy’s comment was cited by cited by Maureen Dowd (“Sarah Grabs the Grievance Bag From Hillary,” NYT, July 29, 2009).

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/29/09

Monday, July 27, 2009

grain of sand

See time as a grain of sand0
and heaven as the glass
you hold with care within your hand
to watch each moment pass.
Every instant lies below
our noses and our eyes,
and stay, not going with the flow,
if greeted with surprise.

Inspired by an article on Huell Howser by Robert Lloyd in the LA Times on July 26, 2009 (“Sucks and awe with Huell Howser”). Lloyd claims that Howser’s approach to life is not far from that expressed by William Blake:

To see a World in a Grain of SandAnd a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your handAnd Eternity in an hour.Or half an hour, as the case may be."A lot of people say, 'You've been doing this so long, you've been everywhere. Aren't you about to run out of places to go?' " Howser said. "What are you talking about, 'everywhere'? You could tell me that I couldn't go outside of a five-mile radius from where we're having breakfast right now for stories and I wouldn't blink an eye. There's enough right within five miles to keep me busy the rest of my life. Why are we looking so hard? It's right under our noses."

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/27/09

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

defying common sense

Defying common sense by being not quite sure
about the questions that lie far beyond
scientific certainties may help us to endure,
so long as we’re aware we’re being conned,
while being so inquisitive that we do not
allow our minds to fall asleep, and dream
of what may be not just the plot but counterplot
behind the facts that are not what they seem.

Inspired by an obituary by Nicholas Kulish on the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski in the NYT on July 21, 2009:
Leszek Kolakowski was born Oct. 23, 1927, in the city of Radom, south of Warsaw. Like most Poles of his generation, Mr. Kolakowski knew hardship early. Under the German occupation of Poland during World War II, Mr. Kolakowski and his family were forcibly relocated to different towns and villages. Because the Germans had closed Polish schools, young Leszek had to teach himself and take exams in the underground school system that was created. After the war, he studied philosophy first at the University of Lodz and later earned a doctorate at the University of Warsaw. He took a teaching position there, rising to chairman of the history of philosophy section. Early in his life he embraced Communism as a reaction to the destruction inflicted upon his country by Nazism, greeting the Red Army as liberators after years of German oppression. But a trip to Moscow intended as a reward for promising young Marxist intellectuals proved instead to be a turning point, exposing for him what he described as “the enormity of material and spiritual desolation caused by the Stalinist system.” In an interview with The New York Times in 2004, Mr. Kolakowski said, “This ideology was supposed to mold the thinking of people, but at a certain moment it became so weak and so ridiculous that nobody believed in it, neither the ruled nor the rulers.”….
In a noted lecture in 1982, Mr. Kolakowski said the cultural role of philosophy was “never to let the inquisitive energy of mind go to sleep, never to stop questioning what appears to be obvious and definitive, always to defy the seemingly intact resources of common sense” and “never to forget that there are questions that lie beyond the legitimate horizon of science and are nonetheless crucially important to the survival of humanity as we know it.”

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/21/09

Friday, July 17, 2009

stains of ink

Transforming tears into large stains
of ink, the victims who remembers
the burning horrors of terrains
where Jews were transformed into embers
defies the evil once decreed
by enemies of love and peace.
Tears won’t cause the loss of seed
to cause the heartache to decrease,
but if remembered, seed may yet
recover once the stain has dried,
but never will if we forget
how much of it was burned and died.
No stain should cause men to forgive
the crime that makes us shed our tears,
but it may speak to those who live,
so Jews transported once like steers
and slaughtered like repugnant vermin,
may be redeemed by those who think
about them not as seed for sermon,
but trees of life sustained by ink.

Inspired by an article by Michael Kimmelman about Countess Elisabeth von der Schulenburg (“High-Born Prussians Who Defied Their Origin,” NYT, July 16, 2009):
Fritzi, as Count von der Schulenburg was called, served as an officer with the same Potsdam infantry regiment in which Mr. Weizsäcker served. He recruited several of its younger officers for the resistance. Mr. Weizsäcker remembered him with awe: “He was the one to tell us what was needed,” he said. “I saw him just four weeks before the 20th of July, and he told me that soon we would be where we want to go, that we would be called back to Berlin, that we would have jobs to do. “He was not typical high nobility,” he added. “Fritzi was down to earth, provocative and, my goodness, very courageous — the one who inspired us, the one who reminded us that we could not possibly wait until this terrible war found its own end.” Fritzi’s granddaughter, a trustee of the July 20 1944 Foundation, my friend and German publisher Elisabeth Ruge, recalled the other day that it wasn’t until the 1950s that Fritzi’s wife, Charlotte, received a war widow’s pension. Pensions in Germany could be denied in the case of high treason, and German bureaucrats decided to apply that rule to the executed plotters after the war. Ms. Ruge told me that when her grandmother protested, authorities replied that Fritzi had joined the Nazi Party in 1932. It was a German Catch-22, never mind that Schulenburg made up for his mistake, finally with his life.
As Mr. Mommsen has pointed out, even Schulenburg’s interrogators at Gestapo headquarters and during the trial that was a formality to precede his hanging, by piano wire at Plötzensee prison, were impressed by the clarity of his convictions and his composure — by his absolute calm, as Tisa discerned from a photograph of the courtroom scene. Fritzi had been a quiet boy, she noted in an unpublished memoir, but: “During these years of war he had become more serious, a man of immense willpower and self-control, with a look intense and determined. His wit and his quickness sharpened, like the good fencer he was.” After her brother’s death, and with the end of her second marriage, the countess needed a while before despair yielded to a new “daydream of community and love,” as she wrote. The church promised redemption from the burdens of past sins, which, she wrote, weighed on her “like the heavy rucksack I had carried about so often on my wanderings.” But she wondered, “Could I just leave it at the roadside and bounce on, happily ever after?” In a nutshell this was the question Germany faced. Countess von der Schulenburg’s life became a metaphor for the post-war era, a metaphor not lost on the writer Heinrich Böll and others who sought her out. “They saw in her,” Ms. Ruge said, “someone who had a deep understanding of what had happened in Germany, who represented the new Germany but came out of the old one, and who had managed through her independence and sense of freedom to make something good of herself.” The countess’s drawings of coal miners turned them into demigods; those of Jews turn ink stains into tears. That said, she preserved into her 90s her wit and unstuffy lightheartedness, her wonderment at life’s mysteries, among them the family bond. “Tisa saw human nature in all its complexity,” Ms. Ruge said. “Again and again she started something new, finding another place for herself in the world. She loved her family, she was loyal to it despite her differences, despite the fact that at one point it denounced Fritzi as a traitor, because she was tolerant and saw from the family’s failures that you can go through life and make yourself blind.” “But she knew that to criticize the weaknesses of others you’ve got to understand your own weaknesses,” her great-niece added. “And she saw what it meant to forgive.”

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/16/09

Thursday, July 16, 2009

from jfk to obama without malaise

When Kennedy was President
we thought he was from heaven sent,
but then we had all hell to pay
when substituting LBJ.

Nixon was the man to hate
before he fell at Watergate,
and though he wasn’t quite adored,
we got along quite well with Ford,
who really wasn’t all that dumb
and could cross roads while chewing gum,
but sadly was a passing phase
replaced by Carter and malaise:
we gave him up like a bad habit
when he was hissed at by a rabbit.

Reagan made us all feel great,
presiding not four years, but eight;
when he told Gorbachev, “Pull down
that wall!” we knew he was no clown.
Born with silver spoon in mouth,
Bush Père presided and went south,
Felled by Clinton, whom, like Reagan,
brought home, or so it seemed, the bacon,
without the famous beans of jelly
that Ronald put inside his belly.
Potus-poent romps with Monica,
no saint, made Bill ironicker
than JFK, who’d also cheated,
but no one tried to get unseated.
No Marilyn, the gal he shtupped
made him appear to Starr corrupt.
Impeached, but not removed because
he lied despite Pinocchian schnoz:
he learned that if you’re not a wiz
you shouldn’t waffle about “is”.

Second Bush seemed somewhat zany,
and hid behind the chair of Cheney,
embarrassingly W’d,
and getting into trouble you’d
expect a leader to avoid,
which made the pundits most annoyed,
but kept us safe, although he killed
the language with most words he spilled.
He sent into the mortuary
his foes, condoning tortury,
which liberal bleeding hearts still vexes,
but goes down well in hearts of Texas.

Since the economy has melted,
like Bush, Obama will be pelted,
unless he rids us of malaise,
for which he may have means and ways.
The moment that his rule began
we all thought he might be the man
to make us feel, like JFK,
proud of our homeland, USA.

Inspired by Dwight Garner’s review of Kevin Mattson’s “What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President,” in the NYT on July 15, 2009, and an article by Gordon Stewart in the NYT on July 14 concerning the speech Jimmy Carter gave from the White House in July 5, 2009 (“Carter’s Speech Therapy”). Stewart writes:

IN the summer of 1979, as millions of Americans idled in creeping gas lines, President Jimmy Carter was preoccupied with matters abroad: first he was in Vienna completing SALT II with Leonid Brezhnev, next pleading for it before Congress, then away in Japan and Korea, hoping to rest in Hawaii afterward. Instead, a White House reeling from approval numbers lower than Nixon’s urged Mr. Carter to get back home fast and do something. In other words, make a speech that would silence the mobs and revive his presidency. The networks cleared their schedules for July 5, 1979. We speechwriters hacked together a draft of what was to be the president’s fifth speech on the energy crisis since taking office, and sent it to Camp David, along with word that we didn’t much like it. No one there liked it either, and on the morning of July 5, The Times blared, “President Cancels Address on Energy; No Reason Offered.” When the White House press secretary, Jody Powell, eventually said the president was listening and thinking and writing, it wasn’t spin. Some 130 V.I.P.’s from Gov. Bill Clinton to Walter Cronkite were shuttled in and out of Camp David to offer their advice on what he should tell the nation. The great and wise talked and talked, and the president took careful notes. For 10 days a country already speechless with rage had a leader who said nothing. Some of the notables spoke in apocalyptic terms. Others seemed to be stocking up on even more than stories, as stewards feared they could run out of glasses inscribed with “Camp David,” while helicopter crews were far too polite to comment on the clanking jackets of departing dignitaries. Actually, Camp David is a wonderful place when you’re not trying to write your way out of it.
Meanwhile, mostly secluded in a cabin, sometimes working day and night shifts, my colleague Hendrik Hertzberg and I wrote and rewrote what we had no idea would still be known 30 years later as “The Malaise Speech.” Looking out the window of the lodge where we went to eat and avoid nervous glances, I saw Clark Clifford glide by on a bicycle and wondered how such powerful people managed to keep their hair looking so lordly. Later I learned he had fallen off. I worried it might be a metaphor for our unfinished speech….Contrary to later spin, the speech was extremely popular. The White House was flooded with positive calls. Viewers polled while watching found that the speech inspired them as it unfolded. To this day, I don’t entirely know why the speech came to be derided for a word that was in the air, but never once appeared in the text. Still, the “malaise” label stuck: maybe because President Carter’s cabinet shake-up a few days later wasted the political energy that had been focused on our energy problems; maybe because the administration’s opponents attached it to the speech relentlessly; maybe because it was just too hard to compete with Ronald Reagan and his banner of limitless American consumption. The real reason is probably that there was never any way the Jimmy Carter we all know would avoid saying: “There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice.” Where the speeches of Reagan and Barack Obama evoke the beauty of dreams, President Carter insisted on the realities of responsibility and the need for radical change. Mr. Carter’s sense of our own accountability, his warnings about the debilitating effects of self-centered divisiveness were the speech’s true heresies. They are also the very elements that keep it relevant today.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/16/09

Monday, July 13, 2009

islands of rights, seas of powers


The land that's our land, rightly known as ours,
has power islands within seas of rights,
and rights in islands within seas of powers,
each barking orders in most unsoundbytes.

Judicial activists resist constraint,
while tyrannical majorities attempt
to sail on seas of power while they taint
rights with intentions Founders never meant.

Those who cannot do may try to teach,
and those who can't pass laws may use the bench
for hermeneutics that can overreach,
extrapolating rights laws don’t entrench.

When we read texts we should interpret, not
impose interpretation on each clause
that weren’t originally in the plot
conceived by Founders, writing rights and laws.

If we don’t do this, we are implying
that the original, like “Seinfeld,” merely
is about just nothing, not relying
upon old texts that we don’t read sincerely.

Inspired by an article by Randy E. Barnett ( in the WSJ, July 13, 2009. The article is called “The Seinfeld Hearings,” because Barnett thinks the Senate hearings on the confirmation to the Supreme Court of Judge Sonia Sotomayor will, like the “Seinfeld” show, be about nothing. Professor Barnett teaches at Georgetown Law and is the Author of "Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty" (Princeton, 2009).He quotes Princeton professor Stephen Macedo who has described the New Deal as transforming the constitutional order from "islands of powers in a sea of rights" to "islands of rights in a sea of powers". Barnett writes:

The second empty issue to be discussed is the bugaboo of “judicial activism” and its conjoined “twin “judicial restraint,” which today’s judicial conservatives have inherited from New Deal progressives. But what exactly is “activism”? Is it activism when any popularly enacted law is held unconstitutional. Neither Democrats or Republicans truly believe this, however, since they want judges to strike down laws as unconstitutional when doing so leads to the right result (but not when it doesn’t).So judicial activism means thwarting the “will of the people” when critics agree with the people, while they complain about the “tyranny of majorities” when they disagree. We can do better. Supreme Court confirmation hearings do not have to be about either results or nothing. They could be about clauses, not cases. Instead of asking nominees how they would decide particular cases, ask them to explain what they think the various clauses of the Constitution mean…Don’t ask how the meaning of these clauses should be applied in particular circumstances. Just ask about the meaning itself and how it should be ascertained….Of course, inquiring into clauses not cases would require senators to know something about the original meaning of the Constitution. It would interesting to hear what Sen. Al Franken thinks about such matters, but no more so than any other member of the Judiciary Committee. Such a hearing would not only be entertaining, it would be informative and educational. After all, it would be about the meaning of the Constitution, which is to say iut would be about something.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner July 13, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

mr. ahmadinejad

Mr. Ahmajinedad,
world leader with the creepiest smile,
did not count each hanging chad,
and therefore doesn’t hear Sieg Heil
as often as the Great Dictator,
who, like him, knew how to beguile
masses, though he used a greater
shtick, and had a lot more style,
despite pomposities Wagnerian,
considerably more versatile,
though just pompously an Aryan,
appearing far less puerile
encouraging smart uniforms,
and Mädchen, who though they were vile,
would adulate in sensuous swarms
their hero, and in single file
march to his orders. Ahmajin-
edad has less success, but while
he’s more opposed to sex and sin
there’s no way to bring him to trial.

Inspired by Clyde Haberman's description of Mahmoud Ahmajineda as "not exactly a beacon for democracy" and "front-runner for the title of world leader with the creepiest smile" ("In the 7th Inning, Stretch, Sure, but Don't Move," NYT, July 10, 2009):
Consider a pronouncement this week by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president and front-runner for the title of world leader with the creepiest smile. Mr. Ahmadinejad is not exactly a beacon of democracy. But even he seems to understand that using the police to enforce cultural values is probably not a good idea. “Cultural issues should be dealt through cultural channels, and I am against security confrontations,” he said. Wouldn’t you know that New York City, its Police Department and the New York Yankees find themselves in sync with him? The police, they all agree, have no business enforcing cultural values. To be more specific, they have no business stopping anyone who wishes to wander around while a certain Irving Berlin song is being played. The song is “God Bless America.” It is played — usually in the Kate Smith version — at every Yankee home game during the seventh inning. All baseball teams performed this ritual after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But before long, most stopped routinely doing so. How many times in a single game is it necessary to assert one’s patriotism? Isn’t the pregame “Star-Spangled Banner” enough?

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/10/09

Thursday, July 9, 2009

there simply must be jews


“There simply must be Jews
in any great adventure,
like gifts you can’t refuse
though you may choose to censure.”

A knight told this to Arthur
In Spamelot, a scam
where order of the Garther
requires eating ham.

Though Jews believe the Lord’s way
is not for them, they have
on many shikseh broads sway,
because they make them laugh.

They love the pretty tights,
of girls of the right age,
and primae noctis rights
receive when on the stage.

The peoplelove to watch
the Jews in large percentiles
grab shiksehs in the crotch,
the gospel of the gentiles.

The shiksehs fill the stews,
and Jews eat them like cholent
or bees who must abuse
a flower being pollened.

It’s Jewish gals and guys and
Above all it’s Mel Brooks
together with Ms Streisand,
who balance Broadway’s books.

You should, if you’re a Jew,
succeed in Broadway like
in other places you
can’t do if you’re a kike.

Inspired by a song in “Spamalot” which I saw at the Ahmanson Theater on July 8, 2009 (see Youtube:

In any great adventure,
that you don't want to lose,
victory depends upon the people that you choose.
So, listen, Arthur darling, closely to this news:
We won't succeed on Broadway,
If you don't have any Jews.

You may have the finest sets,
Fill the stage with penthouse pets,
You may have the loveliest costumes and best shoes.
You my dance and you may sing,
But I'm sorry, Arthur king,
You'll hear no cheers,
Just lots and lots of boos.


You mahve have butch men by the score
Whom the audience adore,
You may even have some animals from zoos, Though you've Poles and krauts instead, You may have unlevened bread, But I tell you, you are dead, If you don't have any Jews.

They won't care if it's witty,
or everything looks pretty,
They'll simply say it's shitty and refuse.
Nobody will go, sir,
If it's not kosher then no show, sir,
Even goyim won't be dim enough to choose!
Put on shows that make men stare,
With lots of girls in underwear,
You may even have the finest of reviews.

You're doing great!

The audience won't care, sir,
As long as you don't dare, sir,
To open up on Broadway
If you don't have any Jews.

You may have dramatic lighting,
Or lots of horrid fighting,
You may even have some white men sing the blues!
Your knights might be nice boys,
But sadly we're all goys,
And that noise that you call singing you must lose.

So, despite your pretty lights,
and naughty girls in nasty tights,
and the most impressive scenery you use...
You may have dancing mana-mano,
You may bring on a piano,
But they will not give a damn-o
If you don't have any Jews!

You may fill your play with gays,
Have Nigerian girls in stays,

You may even have some schiksehs making stews!

You haven't got a clue,
If you don't have a Jew,
All of your investments you are going to lose!

There's a very small percentile,
Who enjoys a dancing gentile,
I'm sad to be the one with this bad news!
But never mind your swordplay,
You just won't succeed on Broadway,
You just won't succeed on Broadway,
If you don't have any Jews!

Arthur, can you hear me?

To get along on Broadway,
To sing a song on Broadway,
To hit the top on Broadway and not lose,
I tell you, Arthur king,
There is one essential thing...
There simply must be, simply must be Jews.

There simply must be,
Arthur trust me,
Simply must be Jews.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/9/09

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

uighurs, tibetans, jews

In China, Moslems called the Uighurs
are fighting to be free
of rule by Han Chinese. It figures
that they want liberty,
just like the other captive nations
the Han now rule, Tibet
the largest, but their expectations
aren’t likely to be met.

The Han call freedom fighters in
both places terrorists,
and almost certainly will win
by force of arms and fists,
but no one cares about these Asians
here in the west, because
we fear our vital trade relations
might suffer, with a loss
of our prosperity, and let
the Chinese use their terror
in both East Turkestan, Tibet,
committing a grave error
based on our need to save the dollar
from falling, which it might
if we grew hot beneath the collar,
declaring might ain’t right.

It seems we need Han Chinese more
than they need us, and so
we can’t show them that we feel sore
about the Uighurs’ woe.
By contrast, since we need much oil,
with Dreyfusard “J’accuse”
we may, when Jews protect their soil,
hurl at them our abuse.

Inspired by the news concerning the massacre of more than 150 Uighurs in Urumqi, the capital of East Turkestan, a region the Chinese government calls Xinjiang and is trying to repopulate with Han Chinese, displacing the ethnically and culturally different indigenous population. Erik Eckholm in the NYT on July 7 writes about the exiled leader of the Uighurs, Rebiya Kadeer, whose fame does not yet parallel that of the Dalai Lama, but may do in the future. While Ms. Kadeer condemns the Chinese government’s excessive use of force, she said that the Uighurs “also condemn in no uncertain terms the violent actions of some of the Uighur community.”

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/7/09

Sunday, July 5, 2009

only ead fish


Only dead fish, Sarah Palin
declared, go with the flow,
but when, like Sarah, you are failin’
to make sense, you should go.
Being crazy like a fox
cannot always solve––
unlike salmon cured to lox,
or monkeys that evolve
into the human species––all
the problems in Alaska.
The lady is a tramp: don’t trawl
her with a net and ask her
for answers adding to pollution.
Avoid all brainy storming,
for it won’t lead to evolution,
and may cause global warming
if you should swallow hook and sinker
the ideas that she spouts,
for each one’s bound to be a stinker,
like fish that die in droughts.

Inspired by Maureen Dowd’s Op-Ed in the NYT, July 5, 2009 (“Now, Sarah’s Folly”):
As Alaskans settled in to enjoy holiday salmon bakes and the post-solstice thaw, their governor had a solipsistic meltdown so strange it made Sparky Sanford look like a model of stability. On the shore of Lake Lucille, with wild fowl honking and the First Dude smiling, with Piper in the foreground and their Piper Cub in the background, the woman who took the Republican Party by storm only 10 months ago gave an incoherent, breathless and prickly stream of consciousness to a small group in her Wasilla yard. Gobsmacked Alaska politicians, Republican big shots, the national press, her brother, the D.C. lawyer who helped create her political action committee and yes, even Fox News, played catch-up. What looked like a secret wedding turned out to be a public unraveling as the G.O.P. implosion continued: Sarah wanted everyone to know that she’s not having fun and people are being mean to her and she doesn’t feel like finishing her first term as governor. She can hunt wolves from the air and field-dress a moose, but she fears being a lame duck? Some brickbats over her ethics and diva turns as John McCain’s running mate, and that dewy skin turns awfully thin….
Palin’s speech is classic casuistry. After girlish burbling about how “progressing our state” and serving Alaska “is the greatest honor that I could imagine,” and raving about how much she loves her job, she abruptly announced that she was making the ultimate sacrifice: dumping the state on her lieutenant. Why “milk it,” as she put it, when you can quit it? “Only dead fish go with the flow,” she said, while cold fish can blow out of town. Leaving Alaska in the lurch is best for Alaska. She can better “effect change” in government from outside government. She can fulfill her promise of “efficiencies and effectiveness” by deserting Juneau midway through her term — and taking her tanning bed with her. “We need those who will respect our Constitution,” said Palin, who swore on the Bible to uphold the Constitution. She said she can’t fulfill that silly old oath of office in the usual way because she’s not “wired to operate under the same old politics as usual.” Naturally, she dragged the troops in, saying that her trip to see wounded soldiers overseas “fortified” her decision to give up because “they don’t give up.” She refuses to succumb to the “politics of personal destruction.” It’s no fun unless she’s the one aiming those poison darts, as she did when she accused Barack Obama of associating “with terrorists who targeted their own country.” Sometimes, she explained, if you’re the star, you have to “call an audible and pass the ball” and leave at halftime, “so the team can win” somehow without you. The maverick must run free when greener pastures beckon. The musher must jump out of the dogsled when warmer climes call. As Palin’s spokeswoman, Meg Stapleton, says, “The world is literally her oyster.” But just remember, beloved Alaska, it’s all about you.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/5/09

Friday, July 3, 2009

when life is not a drama


When life is not a drama or
a comedy, it’s farce farce
that though we try we can’t ignore
when falling on our arse.
When people hear this in a rumor,
often quite distorted,
it stimulates their sense of humor
as soon as it’s reported.
Embarrassment like this becomes
for us the bottom line
that’s cherished by our so-called chums
who love to see us whine,
and though they seem to sympathize
once we have bruised our butt,
they really laugh and analyze
the farce’s final cut
that’s edited to show how we
at best are merely clowns,
and really cannot wait to see
the mirth of our meltdowns.

Inspired by David C. Nichols’s review of a performance at the Theatrum Botanicum in Topaganga of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” by in the LA Times, July 3, 2009:
Anton Chekhov famously described "The Cherry Orchard" as "not a drama but a comedy, in places almost a farce." That is exactly how it blossoms at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. Chekhov's final masterwork receives a gracefully rewarding production that uses aerated humor and inventive pertinence to illuminate its heartbroken core. Freely adapted by Heidi Helen Davis, who also directs, beautifully, and Ellen Geer, Chekhov's pre-revolutionary Russian aristocrats wind up outside Charlottesville, Va., circa 1970. Despite fleeting awkward moments, the narrative ploy is impressive, generating unusual accessibility and emotional fluidity. The ex-serfs of the original are here descendants of slaves. Upper-class heroine Ranevskaya becomes Lillian Randolph Cunningham (Geer, in a delicate, luminous turn). Returning home after years abroad, Lillian cannot escape the tragedy that haunts her, even while she avoids facing the imminent auction of her family estate. As if enabling her denial, Lillian's brother, Gates (William Dennis Hunt, atop his game), elegizes incessantly, even to bookcases, without much meaning, as noted by his niece, Anna (a fine-tuned Willow Geer), and everyone else. Conversely, starchy Velina (the superb Tippi Thomas), Lillian's adopted second daughter, quietly deplores Mama's spendthrift impulses and awaits a proposal from well-to-do Lawrence Poole (a towering Steve Matt). The grandson of owned men who worked this plantation, Lawrence's calmly ruthless capitalism suggests one by-product of the civil rights movement. Another is the smoldering radicalism of eternal student Terrence Moses (Marc Ewing, aptly intense), once the family's tutor, now smitten with Anna and perhaps the clearest-eyed person in the play.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/3/09

Thursday, July 2, 2009

getting laid in the afternoon


Getting laid just after noon
is for square people very much
like drinking cocktails far too soon,
but those who’re cool and love to touch
each other in their private parts
before the sun has set should be
allowed to practice loving arts
ad lib in early p.m,, free
of criticism from those pur-
itans who think that people should
avoid all sex in their amours,
like early films of Hollywood,
until the light begins to fade.
and in the afternoon avoid
the plan they have of getting laid
as if it were a hemorrhoid.

It wasn’t Henry Miller who
first found that often early post-
meridiem is the best time to
have sex. I think it is when most
philanderers prefer to play,
because it leaves the nighttime free
for people with whom they must stay
in contact, and thus lets them be
attentive to their wives whom they
more easily deceive by cheating
by dallying close to midday,
to consummate a noontime meeting.
Hot brimstone, it is said, awaits,
all those whom I’ve described above,
but, pace Revelation, gates
of hell seem closed to those who love.

Moral:If you are twitching like a loon
for sex, because you cannot govern
your id, tryst in the afternoon,
but don’t leave buns inside the oven,
and stick to someone whom you trust
won’t talk about you to the press,
and keep quite mum about your lust,
yes, even if you must confess.

Inspired by Nico Pitney’s blog concerning the matrimonial delinquencies of Governor Mark Sanford of South Caroline in Huffington Post on July 1, 2009:

Hemingway said that the problem with Henry Miller was that he got laid in the afternoon once and thought he invented it. Governor Mark Sanford got laid in Argentina two weeks ago and the way he continues to go on about it, you'd think he cracked cold fusion. The man won't shut up. If Henry Miller talked about his sex life as much as Governor Mark Sanford talks about his sex life, people would have started thinking he was some kind of perv. So today Mark Sanford needed to amend the number of times he kissed the Spider Woman in the last year, for those of you keeping score at home. Now it's five, including two overnights in New York, one for general fornication and one more - approved by his wife! - that was supposed to be just to talk about old times. Sort of an adultery exit interview….Okay, now clearly Mark Sanford is just a twitching loon who should be locked up before he hurts someone. What's cool is that he isn't even out of office yet, and he's already talking about God opening doors. Our former favorite disgraced Christian egomaniac, Sarah Palin, waited until the week after the election, when she told Fox News: "Faith is a very big part of my life. And putting my life in my creator's hands - this is what I always do. I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. And if there is an open door in '12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."
The open door to which they refer, of course, is from Revelation:"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." -- Revelation 3:8….Evangelical business advice always comes back to Revelation 3:8. God opens doors. Like this one: Your opportunity to buy these timeshares. God wants you to get rich working from home. The same way he opens the door to a Palin Administration. Immediately followed by the Apocalypse. Don't say you weren't warned. I'm not sure Mark Sanford's going to like the door that God opens for him, though. According to Revelations 21:8, adulterers and liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. Forever. Even if you've been to Argentina, and gotten used to the heat, that's still gonna hurt.

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 7/1/09

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

female fireflies and I


Macho fireflies that flash
their signals to the females which
they hope will wink and let them crash
with them, relieving id and itch,
find out, as soon as they’re beside them,
that they must die and be devoured
while trying to have fun inside them.
By feeding, females are empowered,
as soon as males have been digested,
immune to all the greedy spiders,
a species fireflies detest;
they float around as firegliders,
hunting for more males who’re randy
and learn too late, when they are dorsal,
that making love ain’t fine and dandy
for males who are a dainty morsel.

When I flash you, do not blink twice
if you intend to eat me, or to call
the squad that is in charge of vice,
for that would not be nice at all.
Blink only if you are prepared
to let me go once I have laid you,
and do not cause me to be scared
if, when I leave, I haven’t paid you.
I’m not a firefly, you know,
but just a human male in search
of fun with dames who make me glow,
and don’t harm me in their research.
If I am to be eaten, I
would rather it be by a spider
than by a female firefly
who, inhumanely, acts rough rider.
Many dames think I’m a doufus,
like Groucho, ducking in the soup
he got into when known as Rufus
Firefly, inglorious dupe.
Since I, like him, fear greedy guts,
I make sure while I’m making love
to guard my heart and soul and nuts,
whether under or above.

Photuris fireflies obtain their lucibufagins from male fireflies of the Photinus species. Gina Kolata reports (NYT, 9/2/97) that Thomas Eisner at Cornell showed that the lucibufagins that the females ingest when they eat the males protect them from hungry spiders.

I polished this poem on 7/1/09 after reading about Sara Lewis’s work with fireflies reported by Carl Zimmer in the NYT, June 20, 2009 (“Blink Twice if You Like Me).

© 1997 Gershon Hepner 9/2/97, 7/1/09