Faulty Towers

That Time I Agreed
With Donald Trump

Like at least an arguably 100 million Americans, and countless around the world, I too am embarrassed and horrified by the ghastly, and tasteless, Donald Trump for President circus. When, and how, will it all end? To be honest, though, I never liked the guy.
But there was a moment, and it’s no wonder that it was one of the darkest in recent history, when I agreed with this ogre. Who for all I know, would likely squash me like a Manhattan cockroach, if given a chance, or care about it. Fortunately we never met.
As for what’s not too like about a white, rich bully who made his fortune in the most undignified way – inherited by his equally despised dad -, and whose business acumen can be measured by four multimillion dollar bankruptcies, it shouldn’t really be up to discussion. ​
Hey, for all it’s worth, we don’t really know he’s as rich as he boasts, and compared to all other lies he’s been telling, some uglier than others but still, all lies, the claim of being a billionaire may be reality only under his fading orangutan-orange hair.
I’m not being original here. Most New Yorkers have hated Trump since the time the Twin Towers were being built, and his daddy Fred was giving him the keys to the family loot. And if you didn’t dislike him before, you do now with his gag-inducing media coverage.

A MOMENTARY LAPSE OF REASON
Sure, Woody Guthrie wrote ‘Old Man Trump,’ about his slumlord father. But in these witless times, we can see not even Bob Dylan, for one, coming up with something, even if full of contempt, that wouldn’t be misappropriated and wind up adding to the cult of Don.
The man has made a point in appearing vile through the years even in photo-ops, and while adding his name to the facade of mediocre buildings and shady casinos, he’s also been pictured next to quite a morally questionable bunch too. Just Google it.
But there was that moment, and again, I’m not alone in it, when reality was so punishing that at least briefly, bent everyone’s perception of it. And I agreed with the creep. That was 9/11, but hold it before hating me for linking it with his name.
In the weeks, then months, and then years after the attacks, all one could hear was, ‘rebuild,’ start over, erect something that would show the bastards that they had accomplished nothing. (more)
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* Of Birds & Beams

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Quantum Leaks

The Deaths of Two Pablos &
the Latin American Sept. 11

Just as the exhumation of Pablo Neruda’s remains got under way in Chile, Wikileaks has released another trove of U.S. documents. This time, they relate to the same period of the poet’s death, days after the Sept. 11, 1973 coup that ousted democratic president Salvador Allende.
As for the other Pablo, April 8 was the 40-year anniversary of Picasso’s death, who was also targeted by a dictatorship, that of Francisco Franco, but managed to outlive its reign of terror. Thus what took place decades ago remains relevant even to these indifferent times.
The 1970s was a dark period for most of Latin and Central America, with widespread military coups and disregard for human rights. It was a time when blood-thirsty rulers, under the banner of fighting a mostly fabricated Communist threat, were let loose to persecute and assassinate political opponents.
What’s disturbing is the fact that they may have had help from Washington and the Vatican, as the Wikileaks papers attest. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Pope Paul VI, both central to events of the period, are shown to be aware of what was taking place down South. They just chose to do nothing to prevent it.
Kissinger’s role has long been discussed, as there’s an overall consensus that the generals who disrupted by force so many democracies in the region could not have remained in power for as long as they did without political support and funding from Western powers. Despite all claims to the contrary, he’s staunchly denied any role in the Chilean coup.
But the papers also show that the Vatican had downright dismissed mounting allegations and evidence of almost indiscriminate murders and serious violations Continue reading

South American Way

On Neruda, Garcia Marquez
& Argentina’s Stolen Children

The world remembers two Latin American writers who both received the Nobel of Literature, Chile’s Pablo Neruda, who would have been 108 yesterday, and Colombia’s Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose mental health is reportedly deteriorating. Both were active in the struggle against the wave of military dictatorships that took over the continent for over 20 years, starting in the 1960s.
While there are doubts about Neruda’s cause of death, there’s much sadness about Garcia Marquez’s condition. But the week also had another sight that things are no longer as bleak as they once were: members of the junta that ruled Argentina during the time were convicted of having stolen children of many members of the opposition, who they also stand accused having killed.
It was a dark time for South America, as one by one, almost all governments in the region fell under the iron-fisted control of its military. A whole generation of political leaders, who opposed the status quo, were killed or ‘disappeared,’ and it’s been taking a long time for all the facts about the period to come to light.
Both Neruda and Garcia Marquez became well known all over the world, their work suffused by what was going on around them. They were natural symbols of the resistance in their countries, either by Continue reading

Crossings

Golden Gate & Brooklyn Bridges
& Those Who Used to Build Them

We’re slightly past the halfway point in time between the anniversary of two landmark bridges, one in each of the U.S. coasts: the Golden Gate, in San Francisco, will be 75 years old on Sunday. And last Thursday, its was the New York Brooklyn Bridge’s 129th year celebration.
Arguably the most famous crossings in the country, they’re marvels of architecture on their own distinctive styles, and, at the time of their opening, each became briefly the world’s longest suspension bridge.
Curiously, as beloved and celebrated they’re now, their construction faced fierce opposition: the Gate, for ‘ruining’ the view of the mouth of San Francisco Bay; and, this being New York, the Brooklyn Bridge, for having an ‘adverse’ impact on the area’s real estate.
Opening day for both, though, brought hundreds of thousands of people who walked on their decks with pride. Throughout the years, as they both stood longer than many others built and fallen along the way, they came to symbolize the spirit of the cities they serve.
HALFWAY TO HELL CLUB
Before May 27, 1937, when the 1.7 mile suspension bridge built by Charles Ellis, Joseph Strauss and Irving Morrow opened to the public, it’d take San Franciscans a 27-minute ride to cross the bay.
Considering its length, strong currents and 70mph winds whipping the area, construction was relatively fast, lasting four years. In the end, 11 men died during it, but 19 others, who fell from the bridge but survived, formed the ‘Halfway to Hell Club.’
Since its opening, though, the Golden Gate has been known also for a grim statistic: the 1.200 people who jumped to their death from its Continue reading

Of Birds & Beams

Migratory Birds Get Lost
Within 9/11 Twin Beams

From a distance, it looked like silver confetti. Or shredded paper from a ticker tape parade. But it turned out to be 10,000 trapped birds that momentarily had lost their sense of direction. The “Tribute of Light,” those two beams of light that are lit every Continue reading

The Other 9/11

Chile Also Had Its Own
Day of Death, 37 Years Ago

A street performer helps to

mark the tragic military coup of

September 11, 1973.