Dateline Bristol – 072013 @ 5:34PM
This week has been nothing but hot! Stupid Hot!
As many of us around the country can attest, it isn’t even the heat or the humidity that can kill you. What kills is the body not being able to cool down. The cumulative effect of an elevated temperature in our cores over an extended period of time can lead to violent behavior and aggression, higher drug and alcohol abuse, depression, lowered ability to concentrate, sleeplessness and a generalized lack of vigor and energy (1).
With all that in mind, this late afternoon is different.
The humidity has broken. The temps have fallen into the 80’s and we’ve spent the day with family and friends at the Bristol Renaissance Faire near the Illinois/Wisconsin border [see link at conclusion of essay].
As I sit here writing, I find myself seated in a woodland clearing around 1574 in the village of Bristol. I feel a cooling breeze on my back coming in from the West. A medieval drum cadence off in the distance is underscoring a frenetic tune from the flutes and the bagpipes who are hellbent on using every last ounce of their players breath in a quickening reel…faster and faster they play. I just looked up from my scribbling here, startled by a blue wood nymph silently watching me write. Sensing my notice, she returned to her pixie stare not 6-feet away. Between guests and cast members in full regalia, an impromptu lute and guitar concert is taking shape some 15-feet to my right.
It’s been a very good day for traveling back in time. I’ve spent the day walking (and walking) amongst people (and steam punkers) from every flavor and stripe of life…no three piece suits present in Sherwood Forest this day. With plenty of fluids of several sorts to assist me in staying cool, my brain took advantage of the olde English break in the action to drift and recupe.
This past week has held all manners of heat all their own. In recent memory, I can’t recall a week when I’ve heard so much talk about race.
Don’t get me wrong. The Zimmerman jury decided the way they did and that’s that. It’s how our jury system of justice works in this country. But what really struck a chord with me this week has been hearing how the verdict has opened doors on some very old memories of many in the black community. If we, as a People, had entertained any idea that racial prejudice was a thing of the Past, that soap bubble was summarily popped as we heard all manners of black men relating their experiences of being tailed in department stores or white women clutching their purses a little tighter when the man who is now our president got onto the same elevator. Whether you listen to the sound of the U.S. Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act of 1964 or the locks on car doors clicking shut as a young black man crosses the street, racial profiling and the fear at its source is alive and well.
This kind of racial ‘heat’ has been simmering for decades. And occasionally, Society takes its cue from the grasslands in the West, bursting into flames which destroy thousands of acres and the lives of those living there. Racial intolerance threatens our national body. We need to cool the flames. I propose the rain capable of extinguishing the flames starts falling around our dinner table and workplaces; with our next door neighbors and fellow shoppers at your grocery store.
Big Brother (CBS) now runs a disclaimer. A respected jazz musician was tackled on stage in San Francisco for dedicating a song to the memory of Trayvon Martin while some pundits on the right tweeted ‘Alleluia’ after the jury’s verdict was read.
As a white man, I can only guess at what it means to be Black, Asian, Hispanic or anything else while the dinosaur of what some remember as America (‘White’) faces its inevitable metamorphosis. It’s already happening, yet parents continue to counsel their kids on how to act in all kinds of situations that could get them arrested, injured or even dead.
Hearing black people I know well speak about their sorrow watching one young man after another entering the justice system sobers me. They mourn far too often when one of those young men enters the morgue because of someone who looks like they do found it easier to drive by and pull a trigger. I can physically feel the pain in their voices as they relate one incident or another where naked racism was on full display…not in the day of Abe Lincoln, but last Thursday.
Rights are rights. Whether its marriage equality, woman’s rights, workers rights or the free market system – none of it is black or white. Cut any member of any minority and they all have one thing in common with the majority. We all bleed red.
Here’s an idea:
We’re all in this Life together. We are all minorities in one way or another. Why not act like the majority we collectively constitute. I can’t change much of what happens in the world, but I can be mindful of being kind with the people I’ll cross paths with this week.
Take a break from the heat. Do what you can this week to heal someone or at least show them some manner of unexpected respect.
Do that and they’ll notice the difference. In fact, my hunch is they’ll think you’re a pretty cool cat…because you are.
Like the song says, ‘Red, brown, yellow, black and white. They are precious in His sight‘. Who are we to do any less?
Helen Amelia Thomas
(August 4, 1920 – July 20, 2013)
At 92, “Thomas was an American author and news service reporter, member of the White House press corps and opinion columnist. She worked for the United Press and post-1958 successor United Press International (UPI) for 57 years, first as a correspondent, and later as White House bureau manager. She was a columnist for Hearst Newspapers from 2000 to 2010, writing on national affairs and the White House. She covered the administrations of eleven U.S. presidents—from the final years of the Eisenhower administration to the second year of the Obama administration.
Thomas was the first female officer of the National Press Club, the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and the first female member of the Gridiron Club. She wrote six books; her latest, with co-author Craig Crawford, is Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do (2009). Thomas retired from Hearst Newspapers on June 7, 2010, following controversial comments she made about Israel, Israeli Jews and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.”
Sources: Picture – 0720_helen_thomas01: http://www.wfaa.com/news/politics/Pioneering-White-House-reporter-Helen-Thomas-dead-at–216280461.html?ref=next and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Thomas
Cory Allan Michael Monteith
(May 11, 1982 – July 13, 2013)
“On July 13, 2013, at the age of 31, Monteith was found dead in his room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver. He had been scheduled to check out that day, but when he failed to do so, hotel staff entered his room and discovered his body. The Vancouver Police Department stated that the cause of death was not immediately apparent, but foul play was ruled out. An autopsy was completed on July 15, 2013. Autopsy and toxicological results were released by the BC Coroners Service on July 16, 2013. The Coroner stated that Monteith died from “a mixed drug toxicity” consisting of heroin, combined with alcohol,and that his death appeared to have been accidental. Monteith was privately cremated in Vancouver, Canada.
Monteith was born in Calgary, Alberta, on May 11, 1982, the younger son of Ann McGregor, an interior decorator, and Joe Monteith, a military man who served in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. He had an older brother named Shaun. Monteith’s parents divorced when he was seven years old, and he and his older brother were raised by their mother in Victoria, British Columbia. After the divorce he saw little of his father due to Joe Monteith’s military service, and he had social difficulties at school. From age 13, he used alcohol and marijuana and started being truant from school.
After attending 16 schools, including alternative programs for troubled teens, he dropped out altogether at age 16. By that time, his drug and alcohol dependency had increased and Monteith turned to petty crimes, such as stealing money from friends and family, to fund his addictions. The turning point in Monteith’s life came when his mother and a group of friends staged an intervention when he was 19, and he began attending a rehabilitation program. Monteith stated, “I’m lucky on so many counts. I’m lucky to be alive.” He eventually received his high school diploma in 2011 from an alternative school he attended in his youth in Victoria. Before breaking into show business, Monteith worked various jobs, including Walmart people greeter, taxicab driver, school bus driver, and roofer.”
Sources: Picture – cory-monteith-13-660: http://www.people.com/people/gallery/0,,20717342,00.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cory_Monteith
Click on the movie poster and listen to one of the best covers of this Beatles classic I’ve ever heard. Performed during the 50th Grammy Awards program, the song has never been more timely than it is on this day. Beauty is oddly deepened out of conflict and loss. Enjoy the track.
Let It Be – by the Beatles in the film, Across The Universe – Performed by Ms. Carol Woods And Mr. Timothy T. Mitchum
Now to the pics of the day…click on (or hover over any pic and you’ll see its descriptive caption.
(1) The Psychology of a Heat Wave By John M. Grohol, PSY.D.
Effects of Heat on the Body: http://www.weather.com/life/safety/heat/article/health-impacts_2011-11-15
Bristol Renaissance Faire: http://www.renfair.com/bristol/
Racial Violence in wake of Zimmerman Verdict:
ChalmersPerforming-thumb-640xauto-8588 (Creative Commons/ Lester Chambers): http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/07/73-year-old_lester_chambers_attacked_for_dedicated_song_to_trayvon_martin.html
PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS: Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission. Visit Eric and see his other work at: http://www.ericephoto.com or http://ericephoto.wordpress.com/
All photos of the guests and cast members of The Bristol Renaissance Faire taken by dan4kent. All applicable copy right and authorship protections are reserved. Descriptive captions shown in pic file name.; justice-for-trayvon-rally-6: http://www.rap-up.com/2013/07/20/beyonce-and-jay-z-join-justice-for-trayvon-rally/justice-for-trayvon-rally-6/ ; Big Brother (CBS) Disclaimer: http://www.tvguide.com/News/Big-Brother-Adds-Disclaimer-Racial-Remarks-1067819.aspx; summer-reading-006: http://www.bookpage.com/the-book-case/2013/06/04/vote-in-our-summer-reading-poll/
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