Burning the American Flag

Burning the American Flag, A Letter to Senator Feinstein

 

[I am submitting this piece in honor of Colin Rand Kaepernick because in his eyes, he feels an injustice has been committed against his people. Until those people feel apart of this great country, he has a right to protest. In kind, attacks of his not standing for the National Anthem deal in the realm of free speech assurances. In not standing for the flag is akin to being able to burn the American flag. Both acts are ultimate manifestations of the right to free speech and protest. A way to measure the morality of a position is how it infringes upon the rights and freedoms of another person. If someone takes offense in Kaepernick’s not standing for the American flag, and then demands that he do so, speaks of the need to control. It is egotistical in nature and beneath the intentions and spirit of our forefathers.]

Dear Senator Feinstein,

 

I noted your chief co-sponsorship of the constitutional amendment that would have given Congress the power to ban desecration of the U.S. flag and have so composed the following.

 

This whole issue has to be resolved and put to bed given the fallacy it embodies.

 

Your argument that as a young girl the picture of the Marines raising a flag on Iwo Jima gave you a ‘bolt of electricity’ and made you see the flag as “More than a symbol,” should not now preclude you from being able to tell the difference between seeing the flag as “More than a symbol” and so legislating that as the lawful interpretation.

 

A symbol is “An arbitrary sign (written or printed) that has acquired a conventional significance,” (See: wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn) which assumes, in your case, that the conventional significance is limited to your experience of the flag.

 

You cannot possibly legislate a particular interpretation, especially since the sign is an ‘arbitrary’ one.

 

Moreover, the flag is an inanimate object, which if your legislation had so enacted, would have been protected over the constitutional rights of an individual to elect to burn the flag as say for reasons that he/she wished to engage in the freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, and/or to petition the government for a redress of grievances, if any of these be the cases.

 

People should always be more important than things: Flying a Flag over another Person’s Rights.

 

The very act of burning a flag is American.

 

It used to be the case that we could laugh at ourselves because we had the self-confidence that our flag would still be there.

 

The flag is nothing but a symbol. It stands for liberty and justice for all, even those who would burn the flag to prove this point. To weigh the punishment of a flag burner against the flag burner him/herself is to miss the point of freedom.The American flag must stand for eloquence of the idea that we have a right to act in a manner that supports our views, to protest, unless we are hurtful to another, but the pain someone may or may not feel to the viewing of an enflamed yard of fabric raked from cotton, the result of dried and stretched chemicals, and/or dyed (changed from its original form), forgets that I care more for the American or No American who burns our flag and his ideas for doing so than the flag itself.

 

The flag is nothing but a symbol that changes with the Americans who represent it. It can never replace the acts that gave it meaning, nor can it stand or have been memorialized unless those acts occurred. No one by burning the flag can erase this meaning, but a person who arrests or incarcerates another for burning the flag incinerates freedom.

 

Is there a psychological law at work in the mind of the person who wishes to stop flag desecration? Is it a person who would hope they could wield power over another, implying that they do not have power over themselves? Is it to blame when sympathies are not shared? Isn’t the person blamed more important than the condemnation?

 

I love my country and support the people in it; but I will not support the rights of an inanimate object over life itself. In fact, I do not fly the flag because I believe it is presumptuous. That which makes my country great are ideals that tolerate differences of opinion, embrace all peoples, but it is not so proud as to fool itself into thinking that it can stand on its laurels. The flag is a representation only of success or glory, this country shall be perpetuated in righteousness, not the laggard of blame. Our country’s greatness stands on the words of our forefathers and by the actions of good men who have followed them in protecting those ideals, not as symbols, but as actions against real threats. – Mario Savioni, Wednesday, June 28, 2006 12:42:21 AM.

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First Experience with Shapr

My first meet from Shapr, a Networking app, Aaron Charles-Rhymes (a multidisciplinary designer/developer specializing in Graphic, Production, UI/UX, Visual Design, and Web Development, innovative creator that works hard to find design solutions in brand identity, print, packaging, and marketing) who said that he saw problems with user interfaces that he could repair visually and via code correction. I told him that this was marketable and that he should begin by surveying company sites, analyzing them, suggest edits, and see if he catches a job offer as a result. Is there anyone here, who might suggest a contact for him?

He suggested that I initiate a freelance effort that might turn into a full-time position or band together with friends and do a startup, if I like risk (which I do not, having worked at the same place for 24 years, although as a shop steward for most of that time, implying imminent danger) with the help of angel investors, but wait until things are working out, then cross-over. He recommended watching a video called “Welcome to Silicon Valley” by Ympact that inspires him.

First Love Poem

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Sophia sips coffee

In Oakland irreverently.

She pushes paper while listening.

Knitting a hammock to lay in,

There’s dog-walking and

Yoga, cooking, and Coptic book binding

As explained in The Private Library.

She’s closed the chapter on the end of the world.

Says its her word against time.

She bakes her way into silver linings

Via two-steps.

She hears the Withering Spoon.

Reality is fictionalized through

Witchery and Wild Love.

Sources her ethics

Through Americans, pillows, and breakfast.

Her mouth is an art object.

Hiking with puppies

And binging on Netflix.

I am curious

Wanting to share, and

Grow together like hair.

I ride my bike to get Euphoria.

Could this be you?

I like ice cream, but my body

Abhors it.

I have photography at the Oakland Museum,

But it is locked away.

I would love to make more

With you and I don’t mind dirt.

I love hiking and conversations,

But not steep overlooks.

The Truth

 

You either recognize the truth or you deny it. The truth is always there. It always seems to implicate a decision, where making it for truth seems to go against our better judgement because we can’t seem to see the way out. It always goes against what seems to be for the better, at least on the surface. Going with truth seems to imply some faithful leap. But, often we go to the very edge and are forced to jump. There is no way to avoid the truth. It is old and willing to wait. It is your only relationship with time. It is eternal. What you are afraid of is just to push you into what you know you must do. To be good is what your spirit desires. The whisper is constant. We make beautiful things with ourselves. We have beautiful insides. We love and we care. We have this empathy for others. We are often overwhelmed with what is asked of us. But, that is all that life is, this constancy of giving and believing. The head fights the heart, everything we do sometimes is against logic. But the heart is courageous. It isn’t cold. It isn’t unkind. What is good in us lives. What is bad in us dies.

Trump and Republicans

Reporter Julia Edwards Ainsley said President Donald Trump expects to sign an executive order that includes temporary ban on most refugees and suspension of visas for Syrian and six other Middle Eastern and African countries.

Stephen Legomsky, who was chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration, said “Legal arguments could claim the executive orders discriminate against a particular religion, which would be unconstitutional.”

“Another order will block visas being issued to anyone from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, said the aides and experts, who asked not to be identified,” according to the Reuter’s piece posted on Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017.  (See: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-immigration-exclusive-idUSKBN1582XQ)

2. Yasmeen Serhan said that President Trump signed executive actions to advance the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines, projects aimed at constructing pipelines from Canada tar sands to Texas and oil fields in North Dakota to southern Illinois that were once blocked by the Obama administration. (See: http://www.theatlantic.com/liveblogs/2017/01/news-today/514214/14138/?utm_source=atlfb)

3. Matthew Daly, Associated Press, December 16, 2016 said “Congressional Republicans quietly closed a year-long investigation into Flint, Michigan’s [drinking water with lead,] faulting both state officials and…Environmental Protection Agency, [where] contamination affected nearly 100,000 residents. “

Sanders had already called on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, to step down.” (This line taken from: http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/18/politics/flint-water-democratic-debate-clinton-sanders-snyder/index.html, whereas Daly’s article is found at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/house-gop-quietly-closes-flint-mich-water-investigation/#.WId_LRprdsw.twitter))

4. Michael Biesecker and John Flesher, AP, Jan 24, ’17, said Trump administration instituted media blackout at Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding new contracts or grants. (See: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/trump-issues-epa-media-blackout-suspends-agencys-grants/)

All That Jazz

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TRIBU CAFE

In tin and metal planters an assortment of fern and other green plants move erratically in the wind. The metal gate signifies a demarcation perhaps on sunnier days when one could imagine tables and chairs with white tablecloths aflutter in late spring and October. 

The structure that houses the cafe (Tribu) is modern with its thick cement walls and square pillars. The melody of bass and piano lightly fills my heart with a mellow magic of love. Two people (bassist and pianist) not even looking at each other meld spiritually. 

It makes me think of my life and where I can go next. It colors the bland LOW COST APPLIANCES – SALES – SERVICE sign across the street. 

Izumi stands at a distance listening and then comes over: “Writing a book?” she says.

“No, this experience,” I say. 

When you listen to music, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and stories get shortened. Every human being takes on a glow. The women become more beautiful and the men become friends.

I can’t help but notice a woman who looks like Kristen Stewart, her thin and supple presence. Her controlling activities, her man sitting around the corner out-of-sight.

I’m going through a period of my life where I recognize that who I am attracted to is no longer attracted to me and vice-versa. I sense also that the next phase of my life will be about substance and conversation and less about sex. I will be learning about women. 

Nao looks up in the air as she plays the piano. The bassist Mark Williams plays beautifully. What does that mean, I imagine? It is as a little voice whispering eloquent phrases like T.S. Eliot‘s poetical works, pulsations of the heart. “While he took from them their ability to infuse poetry with high intellectualism while maintaining a sensuousness of language.”

“Rainy Day jazz lunch,” Izumi says.

Across the street at the light a young man kisses his girl. She seems delighted. He looks down at his cell phone and she carries a pizza box. Her delight fades to purposefulness. His, however, is like that of a happy journalist, who upon hearing about juicy news shares it with the world. She must have seen or felt me. It is all seriousness after that. I’m like an assessing presence, a killjoy, a troll.

Meanwhile, Izumi sings: “Our love is here to stay?”

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(Izumi Hayakawa,  Nao Suzuki and Mark Williams at TRIBU CAFE.)

“What are you thinking? What are you going through?” She continues. Cars pass. People have destinations, responsibilities, places where they want to be. We are so consumed by the president-elect that we don’t see ourselves against the backdrop. How fragmented is our purpose? Our roles? How do we fit? The melody softens our self-criticism and loves us as we are. 

Izumi sings. Nao will eventually go back to Japan. I am alone on the side of the room with sunshine, but where everyone has left. The other side is enshadowed, but every seat is taken. Izumi is courteous and looks over at me singing to the room as a whole: “My heart serenading you… My prelude to a kiss.”

Caitlin Moran in How to be a Woman says that with puberty, her sexual interests arose. Chemical and physical property at work make this music internal-reaching. 

A dog jumps into a car with a mere suggestion of its female owner, a man at the wheel. She gets in, very little conversation, and they drive away. 

Often this is the essence of life. Familiarity and past experience. The rain has stopped. 

Another couple, he on the phone in purple running shoes, and she adjusts her shoe and looks back. 

This other woman, the one who looks like Kristen Stewart, also looks like Lauren Bacall. I’ve become suspicious to her. 

I think the instrumental leaves an open space for my voice to fit but then Izumi’s singing also conjures the desire to sing along.

I can give you anything but love.”

Lauren Bacall and her man are outside laughing. I feel like the laughter is meant for me, but I am sure I am oblivious to them.

Such as I do not have, relationships are built on time spent, maneuverings among and between personalities. I close my eyes expecting to see someone I know. Turning away to see if they’ll sit next to me. But, I am delusional, such as I do not know myself in relation to the long line of suitors, other than me. We men pay no attention to other men, who are busy with the women we have crushes on.

Rain enshadows the mountains in the background. The girl with her dog passes. 

A woman with her boyfriend, late to the event, sits at my table, and sings to her boyfriend: “Why Not Take All of Me?” Her voice is nice. I am tempted to ask Izumi to have the band back her, but they played the last song. I say this because in the back of my mind is this poem Emily Rosen wrote that basically explains the unification of women and men’s desire which is to be acknowledged for the greatness and talent they feel they have. At the moment, the couple sitting next to me have reduced to conversation. The food arrives. They eat and she coughs toward me. She takes a sip, and then begins singing even louder: “Why not take all of me?” She reaches toward me and takes the salt shaker with a vengeance. She wants to be recognized, to be allowed to be a part of the focus of the room, which is now the bassist and the friends of Izumi (all women) in various states of departure. 

This late arrival keeps singing while the Raiders game is on. There’s a quiet to the room so she can be heard. Her wanting to be part of the melody of life, to be found in our individuality, to have something to give, and to be of value, becomes apparent to me. 

The couple talk about having freely given time without compensation. Someone got the man’s music lessons for free. So much of the soul is given away for free. I have argued for an economy based on what purposes men and women have, but I guess we would all just sit around humming to each other, and live in places like the Ghost Ship drinking coffee.

 

Writing to Strangers

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You are a tiny bit taller, perhaps you could shave your callouses and I could grow a head of hair? I like that you are kind. You’ll have to be, my intelligence is all I have. I am positive about literature and art, indulge myself in reading. I wrote a story today… I take that back I published a story on my blog that I wrote a long time ago. It is amazing how close we adhere to a type of writing, how we tend to look at things in the same way. I was married. It was raining. The island of Oahu was flooded. It was New Year’s.

I read a piece that said that relationships to last need only a bit of kindness. I think you’ve hit that nail on the head. Tenderness and charm are fun to look at and feel. Being cared for, garnering affection, there’s this passion and wildness, you say.

I believe in the truth. That’s basically how a person feels. As I get older, who attracts me becomes less and less who is attracted back. I am at the stage, where I have to pretend I am not interested because if interest is made known, there might be laughter if I am lucky. Often it is discomfort and at times anger. The word “creepiness” comes up. As a Cancer, you might understand that absolute truth in this. As a Cancer, I understand it and obey it too. I am very romantic. I have to be in love to make love. Otherwise, I would rather be alone.  But, like you, I am tired. I read something recently and it said that you just know, there are no second thoughts with love. So often, I say to myself I can settle, there are parts of people I can live with, but usually not the whole, and so I do not feign attention. The last woman I was in love with was in ’99. The rest have been measured against and failed. There are so many details that have to be dealt with that the task seems impossible. Bowles in a cameo in the movie Sheltering Sky said that we only fall in love 4-5 times and then we die. I have fallen in love three times, and all of them were my opposite. Of late there was a woman, who wrote stories antithetical to my own. I tend to write about unrequited love. I reach out only to have my hand slapped. I have written and done art so many times that I am at this phase where I am only saving my money to retire. At times, I get tired reading. Currently it is Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman, which gives me all the answers as to who you might be. Next is Siri Hustvedt’s A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women. I wrote a book that forgets some of this title. In Moran’s treatise, I see that women have the same drives, our bodies are both victims of chemistry and visual stimulus. I love Moran’s language. Her English phrases are halting and fun. I like the way the English abbreviate, using only “university” or “hospital,” for example. Why waste definite articles?

I too want to wake up next to some fleshy force that gets me giddy and racing. I want to hear lovely-expressed words that make me sweat and writhe. I don’t want to wake up alone. I need devotion and apparently blind love. I want the grit of life again.

Unscheduled Event (1988)

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At home, I shiver while winds run into louvers, like trains through corridors in a government building. The temperature is 65, chilly for Hawaii. It requires a thick coat to keep warm and a family of friends sitting on a long couch in a damp house, where rain drops and termites work together to provide the water spotting on the black and white tiles. This is the second day of freak weather and I think it is worse than Hurricane Iwa. It rains so hard you can’t get to the East side of the island from either the North or South. In some places the water reaches five feet and furniture floats. Cars flood, and some press against landslides filling highway lanes as rain gushes across them.

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Teenagers having fun in darkness, pull bicycles in waist-deep water on the Waimanalo side past the point only Mac trucks can go. We watch as water sputters from our exhaust pipe, a collection tube in this weather and flooding. We drive, my wife and I, to the Nui Valley road block where drivers sneak highway-left and find depth too deep by car, or by truck unapproachable. In the confusion we wait imagining an accident as the fire engine horns blare. Waiting for a half-hour, we steal along side streets… We are late for a New Year’s Eve party in Hawaii Kai.

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Where Nuuanu Pali Road and Pali Highway meet, we ask an officer how we can get to Hawaii Kai, he says we can probably go by way of Likelike Highway. Near Kailua we drive alongside of a Mercedes as the rain rushes though our wheels in a quiet brown; after which there are the results of a landslide in my lane. The engine cools and the carburetor is flooded for twenty minutes. It is dark and unfriendly. Cars line the highway, but where are the people? I see a woman without a raincoat trying to make it to a police officer’s car; she is hesitant. She decides against it, disappearing into the darkness. Trying the car, we are along the railing. We might be comfortable except we have a party to go to. It is 12:30AM. The car starts. Driving slowly is my wife’s request. In crossing the Waimanalo Bridge, water is up to our doors.

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Pulling into the 7-11 near Castle Hospital, we have dinner. Eating barbecue beef, orange juice, and an ice cream sandwich.

It is 3:30PM waiting in our apartment as the rain and wind rush outside, moving like a train against the covered windows or down the roadway between the buildings. Weathermen are nonchalant, ignorant of the devastation. Unable to get to their parties, people shiver in their homes seeking sympathy from regular-scheduled programing. – 1988

Herding Cows

Money drives the cows in this land.
A treacherous sea of willing souls
Aimless and perfunctory.
Frightened by the mill
That churns their bodies,
They have no other movement
But forward.
It is not a movement we would recognize:
To carry arms and play army.
But, it seems that most men
Have no purpose in America,
Don’t measure their actions,
Don’t take account of what they are doing.
From Mexico to Oregon,
The grass-fed cows walked.
Their loins lean and their
Flesh gamey.
What was weird was how
What fat they had was orange
And twisted.
It coated the system with
A plaque that only angioplasty
Could remove.
The doctor, if they made it that far,
Would take a simple wire
With a sharp tip and bang the insides
Of the aorta and all the plaque would
Be absorbed by the body.
Their hearts were still at risk;
Once you dislodged the truth,
It was possible that it would migrate
To the brain and cause a stroke.