Underground Railroad Rides Again
Sitting Bull's Eyes
Sam Cooke's "Change is Gonna Come"
Notice the four book-cover images above. You will find excerpts from these original novels, further down in this site. Oh, look . . . here's one now, from . . .
In October of the year 1969, students at LSU joined together with the national Moratorium to commemorate all our soldiers who had died in Vietnam. Outside, on the large grassy area call the Parade Ground, we find Donnie, Kevin and a few other friends seated on the grass with hundreds of others, listening to the ceremony. But during a delay in the program, Kevin was sharing with his small circle of friends an account of events that had happened a year earlier, at protests in Chicago, Grant Park, which had been as close as the protesters could get to the Democratic convention a few miles away.
Kevin, again sensing enough delay to resume his account, lowered his voice and went on . . .
“Next thing anybody knows, Hayden’s instructing us to move out in small groups, toward the Loop and, I think, toward the Amphitheatre, or at least in that direction—that guy wouldn’t stop for nothin’—he was hellbent on most of us getting over to where Humphrey and McCarthy and all those other Demos were holed up inside the convention center. Tom was saying we didn’t want to be caught in the large crowd when the cops moved in on us. And he said some of us should go across the street to the Hilton. After that, I couldn’t hear what he was saying because people were getting up and moving around again. But I do remember the last thing I heard from him was ‘I’ll see you in the streets.’ Then it was like a herd of buffalo when we got up and started dispersing toward the Hilton and the Loop.”
The guy in the flak jacket was still chanting. It seemed that everybody was being quiet, except Kevin.
“What happened to Rennie?” Donnie whispered.
“The cops beat the hell out of him,” Kevin exclaimed, his neck craning as his voice amped up into a hoarse whisper. “It’s what they did to Rennie that got Hayden so upset. I mean—that’s what became obvious while Tom was speaking for the last time. He said there was ‘blood in the streets’, or ‘if there’s going to be blood, let it flow’. . .something like that. He was mad; it was all over his face, like it was tragic or something. That was when the whole protest rally turned from one thing to something else entirely.”
By the wonders of pseudo-scientific fiction, we discover . . . in a Glass Chimera deep dive down into the depths of a character's (Mick Basker's) human body, unexpected life forms that mysteriously resemble homo sapiens critters. In one (of several) such expeditions we meet Henry Globin. He is a skilled driver in the CircSystem. But Henry has high hopes for a career transition into the cutting-edge world of RNA-enabled amino-"fishing" expeditions. Let's take a look into Henry's world:
Henry started to run down the concourse in the direction that the RuNAbout was moving. But he checked himself. No need to risk running into someone. The ship would obviously be docking somewhere nearby. So he restrained himself, continued in the direction, east it was, for a good half kilometer. Then he saw it—the sign, in large, archaic wooden letters: HMS RuNAbout, On Time, bound for the Ribosome Islands, and returning to DeeNay, Nucleus
A few minutes after docking, Captain Dean Gene was sitting in the Mitey Kindovue Restaurant having dinner with his core crew. Turning to the first mate, he asked the question, “How are we fixed for ATP, Tom?”
“It’s going on board as we speak, cap’n. The stocking crew is right on it.”
“Good. Where do we stand on aminos supply, Dick?” He looked at the chief angler.
“We’re at about 85% now, cap’n. Based on our projected course, I anticipate no problems in hitting 100% of capacity by the time we reach the Ribosomes. If we get as far as the Canary Centrioles and haven’t caught schools yet, a five degree adjustment to east should take us through the Tuna Lysosomes where we’ll surely catch all the aminos we’ll need for this trip.”
“Sounds good, Dick. I want us to be absolutely as efficient as possible. That means having enough aminos to use the entire stock of ATP, and keep those enzymes busy. You know what I mean?”
“I’m with you, cap’n. My brother Jimmy is one of those enzymes, and I know he’s looking forward to a full load, what with Christmas coming and he wants to get some overtime.”
“Well, yes, mateys. Let’s try and make it a prosperous Christmas for all the folks on the Ribosome Islands. Plus. . .” The captain raised his bushy gray eyebrows for emphasis. “There is a shortage of peptides in the Cell now, ever since August. And shiver me timbers, mateys, let us not forget the bottom line—Proteins! Let’s hear it for the Proteins!
The five seasoned sailors joined together in spontaneous song, while the two wives who were present, somewhat embarrassed, witnessed along with the other two dozen diners in Captain Nance’s Seafood, their jolly, customized rendition of an old sea song:
We sail about on the Roundabout.
And we’re all about what they sing about.
And they sing all around ‘bout the Roundabout,
which nobody can deny!
In chapter 12 of Glass half-Full , we look in on the funeral of a D.C. police officer, J. D. Joadson. In the story, Washington Mayor Cedric Douglass is eulogizing the slain officer, whose death had occurred a few days prior in a bomb incident at the Holocaust Museum. Our character, Aleph Leng, a recent Sudanese immigrant, sees and hears this public service, in Memoriam:
Saturday morning, Aleph Leng attended J.D. Joadson’s funeral.
It’s a good thing he got there early. Zion Grace Temple was overflowing with mourners and rejoicers alike. The death of one dedicated cop had focused the attention of a straining city upon one life, well-lived, that had made a difference. People loved the man.
J.D.’s widow sat in the first row. She had borne no children, but she had borne the pains and tribulations of a man who had given himself to public service. Herself a busy nurse, she had stood by her man for seventeen years. Amazing accounts of mayhem and mirth she had been told: truth tales whispered in desperation, declared in triumph. Oh what a frail, faithful man of strength he had been; and the burden that had been laid upon him was this: to patrol the sidewalks of purgatory, perchance to storm the gates of hell, and yet never fail, never fail, to hold heaven in his heart.
A coterie of distinguished guests for this solemn occasion included not only J.D.’s dear friends and family, but also: the menagerie of friends who had known him on the street, the brigade of law enforcement officers who had served with him, 212 members of Zion Grace Temple, administrators and employees of the Holocaust Museum, a handful of Muslim neighbors, and the Honorable Cedric Douglass, Mayor of Washington.
From deep within the Abrahamic breast of a robed choir the rumble of grief and dignity came forth, slow and resonating at first, without words, then clear and loud: Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…hmmmmm..
Tears. Such a life he had lived.
Voices raised, eyes glazed, souls amazed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
we have already come.
‘Twas grace that brought us safe this far,
and grace will lead us home.
The words had been written 150 years ago by a former slave-trader who had renounced his wicked ways. Grace…that saved a wretch like me.
A shroud of tears veiled many eyes, blurring utterance of words, bleeding their hearts dry of further sympathies expressed, until the honorable mayor took his place at the podium of embattled human dignity. He said:
“We have come together today to honor and remember a man whose life represents the best in us…whose death was suffered because of the worst in us. J.D. Joadson was a man well-loved by this community, and by this city. He died…stemming the tide of human hate. His life was not in vain. His death was not in vain.
“Go to 14th Street today, or any other place within his beat, any other place that knew the beating of his heart, and ask people about J.D. You will not wander far, before encountering the testimony of some person or other who has known him…some person who has seen the dedication with which he protected the citizens of this city, and the citizens of many cities and nations around the world who came here. He was a great man.
“The conviction with which he spoke sternly to those who would violate our peace…and gently to those who would preserve it…was resident within him all his life. J.D. was never known to have strayed from the principles of honor and justice to which he devoted himself…until, by the hand of some foul and ignoble enemy, it was extracted from him: the last full measure of his devotion.
“No…J.D. Joadson did not live in vain. His life goes on in the hearts, the hands, the minds, of those men and women who are inspired by his example. Could that be you this morning? Could it be you who has been inspired by his courageous example?
“Yes. It could be you.
“And, no…J.D. Joadson did not die in vain. His death defeats the dark deeds of those who would seek to rob us of our peace and security. His death defeats those dastardly attempts by malicious haters to make us relinquish our remembrance of the past.
“We, a people whose eyes peer expectantly into the future…we, a people whose minds are informed by the knowledge of those struggles that comprise human history…we, a people who deplore the Holocaust assault upon human life and dignity…we honor him today. May J.D. Joadson be remembered as a man who loved mankind... a man whom mankind loved.
“And I believe today…he’s in a better place, raised from death to life, in Jesus Christ.”
In chapter four of King of Soul, everyday life in Jackson, Mississippi is disrupted the day after Medgar Evers had been killed last night in his own front yard. In the Evans household, maid Aleen is not working today, but rather sitting at the dining room table having lunch with her employer, Cora Jean Evans. As they are talking about last night's murder of Medgar Evers and today's unusual events, children Nancy and Donnie involve themselves in the conversation.
Aleen was pondering. “It all seems so quick now, lookin’ back on it. Our pastor, and some of our people, were workin’ with Brotha Evers, and they stuck pretty close to him—lotta respect for Brotha Evers. But with him dead now, I guess some them from the Ndoub’lACP will be tryin’ to decide what to do about all tha’s comin’ down now. There’s a white preacher, Rev. King, who been helpin’ the coloreds a lot, and working real tight with Brotha’ Evers. As far as them civil rights people go, the one I know most about is that gal that came to Jackson State and got Rosalee—Aerlie is her name. She’s a student at Tougaloo, and I think she from McComb. She came and fetched Rosalee at the house one time. She know a lot of people. You prob’ly saw her on the news, coupla weeks ago. She’s the one who sat at the lunch counter, downtown at the drug store. The white folks dumped mustard on her and insulted her while she stayed there for a long time. That gal—she’ a fireball! With brothas and sistahs like her around, I don’t think white folks will be able to put a stop to us registerin’ to vote and . . . what all. It may take a while, though.”
“But, where . . . where do you think all this is headed? What will happen when most of your people get to voting? What will change?”
“I think most folks my age—it can’t change much for us, but maybe it don’t need to, so much. My husband, Bo—he like his work aw’right, been doin’ it a long time. We do aw’right. He owns his truck, haul produce. We raise a little too, at mama’s home place out in the country, green beans and corn. But our boys—Booker and John and Reggie—they’ll have a better time, we hope and pray. If they can get in college, like Rosalee, get educated, make somethin’ of themselves, that’ll be good.”
Cora Jean was considering this. Then she stood up. “Excuse me. I’ll be right back. Please keep your seat, Aleen.”
Then it was Aleen and Donnie sitting at the dining table. Donnie felt a little funny about it; this had never happened before. In the evenings, the table was usually stocked with supper, most of which Aleen had cooked, before she went home to cook for her own family. Donnie’s sister, Nancy, walked in the room. She’s nine.
“Where’s mama?” she said. She was looking at Aleen with curiosity.
“In the kitchen,” Donnie replied. “Go see her.”
“Go ask her if we can have some sweet potato pie.”
“No. It’s too close to dinner for pie,” objected Nancy.
“No, it’s not. Go ask her.”
“You go ask her.”
“Aw, shucks, Nancy, go sit on the couch. Me and Aleen are talkin’.”
“Talkin’ about what? I can talk too.”
“You’re not a grownup,” charged Nancy, sticking her lower lip out.
Now that was true. Sally was a little smarter than Donnie thought. She had not always been, though.
Nancy walked halfway around the table, next to Aleen. “Are you gonna cook some dinner for us, Aleen?” she asked, meekly. Her brown eyes were wide open with anticipation.
Aleen just smiled at her, and stroked the stray bangs from the girl’s forehead.
“Aw, Nancy, mama’s makin’ dinner,” Donnie declared. “ Today’s different. Can’t you see that?”
“Oh yeah, smarty pants! What’s different about it?” she persisted.
Now Donnie was stumped. Something was indeed different about today, but he didn’t know what, except he knew that some important colored man had been shot and Aleen’s daughter had been arrested.
His sister was involved now, and she liked it that way. She looked at Donnie, challenging him with her eyes. “Aleen’s sittin’ at the table. That’s what’s different!”
Donnie could not argue with that. It’s a fact.
“Are you gonna eat dinner with us today?” Nancy asked.
Aleen busted it with a big belly laugh, her head arched back in delight. “Ha! ha ha, chile, you got a mouth on ya, don’t you! and a big mind, too!”
The child was turning red.
“You just like Rosalee! You gots that thinkin’ cap on, an’ watchin’ an’ list’nin to everything.”
Nancy was basking in the praise. When Aleen’s laughter had subsided, she asked, “Who’s Rosalee?”
Aleen’s eyes opened wide with amusement. She had never felt so uninhibited in this dining room as she did just now. And all because of a child’s persevering curiosity. “Chile! Rosalee is my niece, honey.”
“She’s in jail,” Donnie quipped.
“Oh, she won’t stay in jail, honey. She just in there for a little while,” Aleen explained, putting her hand affectionately on Nancy’s shoulder.
In chapter 24 of King of Soul, we find our main guy, Donnie Evans,an LSU sophomore student visiting Kent State University on May 4, 1970. We see Donnie suddenly surrounded by confusion and chaos as the Ohio National Goard begin their troop movement up Blanket Hill.
Guardman Joe was sweating profusely beneath the plastic visor of the gas-mask. He felt dizzy, disoriented, confused. Trying to follow orders was like trying to thread a needle through a camel’s ass, in a stupor. Noise was all everywhere. Students shouting, throwing rocks, yelling, jeering. Girls cursing them like sailors. High and low and everywhere every whichway in between was sweat and insult and discomfort and he needed to pee and this thing was going down hill fast when the hell would it be over.
Joe felt himself being squeezed apart from the rational world. Inside the mask, sweat and gas were tearing his consciousness far from any civilian sensibility about what should be done here, or not done. What action to take, he could not determine; what direction to move, he could know only by a dim following of his platoon-mates. No longer able to distinguish the voice of his commanding officer from the din of the battle, Joe wandered down into a purgatory of confusion. A stone hit his back. Another stone struck his helmet with a metallic thud that rattled the ridges of his brain.
“Joe! listen up.” he heard. But his mind was occupied with the awareness that now he was standing on level ground. They no longer were trudging down a hillside. Where were they? Where am I?
“Joe! On the count of three, kneel and assume firing position, but do not fire! I repeat, do not fire! This move will be a warning to these bastards. If we have to do it again, it will not be a warning the second . . . One, two, three, down!”
Joe went down on his knee. Struggling in the fog of war to catch sight of some indicator, dimly he saw, while turning head side to side, the profile of his buddies in each direction. But in front, and behind was only. . .who the hell could know what was out there. They looked like ants running around. But it made no sense. Who ever heard of ants screaming?
Breathing hard, sweating, gas burning through the mask. Noise. More rocky ballistics on his helmet.
Cousin Will, walking across the parking lot, looked out across the baseball field to his right. He saw the soldiers in a sort of ragtag arc, an uneven curved line across the middle of the field, not far from the chain-link fence, fifty or sixty of them, kneeling. At one moment they together raised their weapons, pointed their rifles at the students who had followed them over the hill. But they did not fire. After a moment, the group of them stood up and began to move back in the direction from which they had come.
Now on the other side of Taylor Hall, Buddy Jeffrey stood at the edge of the parking lot. With his fierce eyes trained on his nemesis soldiers, he persisted in shouting profusely at them. He had entered the twilight zone of unbounded discontent. When the Guard knelt and positioned their weapons as if to fire, his yelling suddenly stilled. He wondered what the hell they would do now.
A moment later, they stood and began a retreat in the direction from which they had come.
Buddy Jeffrey knew then that the students had won. The soldiers had been turned around; they were retreating. The thrill of victory overcame him and he leaped in the excitement of his comrades overcoming the excesses of the military-industrial complex. “Pigs off campus!” he declared loudly, his voice now hoarse with exhaustion. This was the end of what he had striven for.
Guardman Joe went following his squadmates, trudging and sweating their way slowly back up the hill, guns at ready.
The Guards were cut off from the rational world, their faces bound by sweaty gas-masks that insulated their civilian sensitivities apart from rational evaluation, and removed their attention far, far away from any awareness of the fragility and defenselessness of their foolishly bold oppressors. Finding themselves now surrounded by stone-pelting renegades on the athletic field, they turned and retreated back up the hill, reversing the path of their earlier advance. But something had changed; some safeguard had slipped away, slithered away into the confusion and the sweat and near-panic of this moment. With all caution fatefully fading into exhaustion and beyond the pale of their other identity as civilian regulars—regular guys who just happened to be assigned through this last weekend to an insanely abnormal task, they reached the top of the hill again and there they reached the end of their rope, and so, untethered from any normal sensibility or civilized propriety now they went over the edge as shit happens and one of their brethren took a bullet or some other projectile of hellish disorientation and confused desperation and it suddenly became a conscious thought beneath their collective helmet that someone was assaulting them with unauthorized lethal projectiles fired or so it was that they experienced it beneath their fogged masks. From the rooftop over there in the southward direction some estranged presence or maybe it was a heavy object or a missilic object penetrated their platoon, violated their soldierly brotherhood in a way unanticipated and unauthorized by the law of the land or the rules of engagement or even the bare-naked urge for survival itself. ‘Twas then the ancient reflex of the warrior took ascendancy within their members and suddenly the line of reason and acceptable civil conflict was crossed and they turned.
Pow! Donnie heard it,; it must be the Lexington and Concord rerun. Blam! Boom!
In chapter 20 of the 2007 novel, Glass half-Full, we look in on Detective Nguyen of the metroDC police, as he is searching for evidence in a rape case. He and his partner, Detective Nunez, are questioning the victim, Helen, and her roommate Rachel, following their discovery of a probable lead to the rapist's identity. Detective Nguyen explains: :
“He’s got a chain-link fence around his house with two Dobermans in the yard.”
Sargeant Mendez nodded. “He’s a fanatic, all right. I saw the stuff, too. He was living in his own little Mein Kampf world.”
Rachel, alarmed at the prospect of such a person walking around undetected for so long, said: “I don’t think it’s very likely he was living in his own little world. If he had bookmarked websites on his computer with that stuff, he was probably communicating with others. I’ll bet you he’s in a network. He might have even bragged about some of his crimes to his buddies.”
Helen agreed. “It’s been shown in the histories of some psychopaths that they have a deep need to share their torrid little triumphs with others…bragging.”
“We’ve got his computer, and we have specialists looking at his records now. There may, indeed, be some kind of network around here. We’ve had several hate crimes around here in the last few months,” said Nguyen.
“Duh!” Helen exclaimed, incredulously. “Last night! the bombing at the Belmont Hotel, a convention of mostly black educators. We must have treated thirty people last night. One of them was killed."
But hey, in this life we don't really know what will happen next. One day everything's hunky dory. . . next thing you know the known world is sliding into unknown territory.
Unroll the Scroll
Now for a quick change of venue. . .
Moving from novel #1 to novel #2, we descend into the microscopic world of a human being ... a New Orleans banker named Mick Basker. In Micks's circulatory system we catch a glimpse of Henry Globin, who is a licensed transport operator:
Henry Globin looked up at the bright, white LED sign overhead. Its digitally updated letters were flashing:
Stand by for Next Compression. Next Compression in .50 seconds.
Henry nudged his buddy, Luke O’Site.
“As I’ll ever be.”
The line of passengers was becoming shorter every second. The wait was not long. The Mickey was running along like a well-circulated machine. Henry’s group assumed their places in line, stepped nimbly past the mitral gate, through the aortic valve at just the right moment, and were pumped along with their fellow passengers into the Cerebral Avenue line. It was an intense ride, something like a Jamaican bobsled run with a twist of absolute upside down roller-coaster vertigo thrown in that made for a nice discombobulation and transportational fear-factor rush. “Wheeeee-ha!” Hands up in the air. Swshsh. Uh-oh Better calm down. The platelets were looking at him funny. Better act your age. You are working after all, can’t have too good a time. Shshsshshsssh glrgleshwshgrgleslippingslipsliding gliding careening through arterial slickeriness with minimal obstruction fast and faster and careening and up and down and over and out and I know one thing each time I find myself flat in my pace I pick myself up and get back in the race that’s life.>
“Here’s where I get off,” said Luke. “Airway Drive. We’ve got some unauthorized bacteria infestation on the Alimentary Canal.”
“God be with you!” shouted Henry to his friend, as Luke jumped off the train.
Henry was headed for the Pit, the glandular station right in the middle of Grand Central Neuronic Headquarters. Today he was working as a driver/guide for a group of Corpuscles. It was an important, though quite routine, mission. A few more millimetres of arterial rush, then deceleration in the hypophyseal line, and they were pulling into the station at the Pit Stop.
Pituitary Station. Disembark in .20 seconds, said the sign, and Henry did, at the appropriate time, seasoned traveler that he was. His clients disembarked as well, and dispersed to various points.
“Thanks for the help,” a few of them said.
“Da Nada, man. Any time. I’ll be going back the other way in a little bit if any you guys want some expert company.”
The station attendant, seated behind a sign that said Mitey Kindria, casually asked him, without looking up: “Destination?”
“I’ve got an O2 dropoff here. Then I’ll be catching the return to CircCentral.”
“Step to the right, please. You can discharge your Oxen with ATP for transport to the Energy Department. Then pick up a load of CO2 for delivery to CircCentral. Take the Vena Cava for your return trip. That gate is just beyond ATP on your left.”
“Hey, thanks,” said Henry.
“No problem. Be careful going through ATP, though. There’s heavy activity there. We’ve got a code yellow for acidosis in sector 17.”
“Sure. I’ll keep my eyes open.”
Arriving at ATP, he encountered a long line of Oxen and their handlers waiting to be dispatched. Henry snapped open the leash, releasing the two Oxen he’d brought along, O1and O2. He petted the both of them; they were good little critters, wagging their tails, a protein’s best friend. Having completed his mission, Henry then made his way through the crowded terminal to the Vena Cava gate.
O1 and O2 sat obediently, looking out the membrane at an ocean of cytoplasm. Soon, a trainer would come along and put them to good use. After walking 40 or so yards down the concourse, Henry looked back at the two creatures. They were sitting patiently as Oxen do, protein’s best friend. Above them at the ceiling was a lit-up sign:
Neuropsin II Convention passengers, take Tram B to Sector 23.
16S-type RNA delegates take Tram C to Sector 18.
When Henry arrived, five minutes later, Vena Cava gate, he had a few minutes to chill out. He sat on the floor, gazing out the membrane, beyond the crowded concourses of Mitey Kindria, at an ocean of cytoplasm stretching as far as the eye could see. On the horizon, barely visible in the distance were the Golgi Islands. And far beyond that, Henry knew, was the great Continent of Nucleus, the deep interior of which drew the brightest chromatins and the most talented sugars, movers and shakers who climbed that great double-spiraled ladder of success, making decisions, wonking policies that extended far beyond the nucleopolis itself, to every reticulum in the great hinterland and every centriole between here and the next universe. He aspired to go there himself one day.
But not today, just another day in the life of a specialized protein. He did like his job though. Henry considered himself fortunate to be a guide, and he usually enjoyed the commutes between all his assignments and CircCentral.
But as he watched the great open cytoplasm, his heart was pierced with a pang of desire, for looming up from the horizon was a magnificent sailing ship, with brilliant sails rippling in the breeze, and azure-white sprays jettisoning from both sides of its bow. Henry couldn’t keep his eyes off it.
He stood and watched it for a long time, until it came quite close, and he forgot where he was, and he missed the next Vena Cava push. When at last the golden galleon passed straightway in front of him, he saw the RiboNucleic flag flapping atop the mast, royal blue background with a red orb in the center, and white border. And he saw written upon the bow in gold letters the name of the ship:
Oh, that he were on that great ship! Oh, that he might climb to its apex, and survey from its crow’s nest cytoplasmic grandeur and the boisterous cellular wind in his wings! Such adventure! Such freedom! Where is it going?
The ship is so close. But for this window, I could throw a stone and hit it. I can see the white’s of their eyes. The boat must be docking nearby. I shall meet it at the dock!
Henry started to run down the concourse in the direction that the RuNAbout was moving. But he checked himself. No need to risk running into someone. The ship would obviously be docking somewhere nearby. So he restrained himself, continued in the direction, east it was, for a good half kilometer. Then he saw it—the sign, in large, archaic wooden letters: HMS RuNAbout, On Time, bound for the Ribosome Islands, and returning to DeeNay, Nucleus.
In the outer Washington DC metro, Maucus and Bridget just met at a party. This was a surprisingly favorable encounter, as both of them didn't much care for the party anyway.As it happens, though, Marcus has to leave, but they make arrangements to meet the next day for a bicycle ride.
“Okay, Bridget. I'm outa here.” He smiled, and raised his hands in mock surrender; he started backing away toward the porch steps.
Suddenly, she stretched her neck out. Without touching him, she kissed him on the cheek, then stepped away.
Yes. Now he was wondering at her; he felt drunk with the mystery of her femininity, which was so boldly, so suddenly, rearranging his head. But he was managing a recovery from this unexpected little gift. Slowly, he said, “One o'clock, then, tomorrow. You'll be there?”
“I'll be there,” she said.
Gingerly, he stepped off the porch. There was no need to go back inside. He had discovered what he had been looking for when he came to this strange party.
And then, as quickly as he had appeared, he was gone.
Twenty minutes later, Bridget was still standing on this back porch where she had never been before. The night was quiet, except for the thumping of music from inside the house, and the muffled sound of partying that accompanied its monotony of noise. Bridget knew what she needed to do. It was time to extricate herself: she needed a shabat from the self-effort that she had gotten herself into.
Bridget spoke to no one, but simply stepped off the porch and began walking…around the back of the rambling, ramshackle house, past a garage; she walked along the row of cars and trucks that were parked in the driveway like silent metallic dragons. When she got to the sidewalk, Bridget made an abrupt right turn; staying on the sidewalk, she sojourned along the dark residential street, quiet except for the distantly faint murmur of traffic several blocks away. Who are all these people, that live in these contented houses? What do they do? The sedate character of this neighborhood was fascinating. It was alien to her, but then it wasn’t really. It wasn’t really. She had originated in a place like this, although not nearly as shabby. There was no reason, really, to have alienated herself from this. It wasn’t so bad. These people in these houses were probably decent people; there was evidence of their decency—swingsets and bicycles in the yard. Somehow, to Bridget, the children’s toys in some of these small yards represented something very decent, very natural. There was an order here; it was not alien to who she was. It was alien only to what she had become, or to what she knew she was becoming. She needed a shabat from the self-effort that she had gotten herself into.
Bridget walked seven blocks until she reached Commonwealth Avenue. Then she turned left and went another four. When she reached Venture Boulevard, she waited at the bus stop for fifteen minutes or so. She got on the Westside bus, rode for twenty minutes or so through the bright, traffic-laden night. She knew where she wanted to go.
You will also find here songs and music that I have recorded, with a little help from me friends, over the last 40+ years of my adulthood, such as these these, from my 1977 album, "Something for Everyone . . . Songs of Rowland", and the Saints' Marchin Song and the Mountain Railway song from 1978 project, Revelation 5:9:
And BTW, if the address bar above casts doubt in your mind about the "security" of this site, please disregard it. This website is manned by a struggling writer who has no interest in fouling your security. Just relax and have a look around, scrolling down to discover snippets of the four novels I have written:
Underground Railroad Rides Again
Life's Railway to Heaven
Because we recently visited Jerusalem, in Israel, I would like to share with you this very special song, written by my friend David Browne, which he recorded a decade or two ago, with singing from friends Danny and Donna, and oboe by Jenny. . .
Aliyah Yerushalayim (Danny Donna Jenny David)
If you see a book with the cover that is pictured below, buy it! The author, pictured in the masthead above, finished writing the novel and published it in 2017. King of Soul It's about what happened to America during the Vietnam war.
We read in chapter 5 of King of Soul , about the year of 1964, when big change was brewing way down South . . .
But Liberty and Justice for All is not something that just happens.
As compatriots with liberation and deliverance, liberty and justice emerge triumphant from the very embattlements of human history. Where their zealous advocates manage to grab some foothold in the landscape of human struggle, freedom is fleeting not far behind. Noble aspirations are all summoned up when the careless slayings of men demand value more sacred, more holy, than the mere clashing of weapons and the expiration of breathing bodies.
In our present exploration’s story, the bad news is: there is an inevitable outflow—the shedding of blood—which propels violence to ever higher levels of atrocity.
The good news is: where there’s shedding of blood, Soul is not far beneath.
In the summer of 1964, all of these elements of human struggle converged in an unprecedented way. Way down south, in the piney woods and sweltering fields of Mississippi, a new activist strain of blood-red camellia was taking root in that freshly-tilled civil rights black delta loam. As God had heard the cry of Abel’s blood arising from Edenic soil, he heard now the beckoning of enshrouded laborers, those dead and these living. Their muted cries called forth liberation; they demanded deliverance.
So while black folk of the deep South were struggling to register their right to vote as Americans, a vast brigade of like-minded souls from other regions caught a whiff of their newly-planted liberty, and so the new brigades took it upon themselves to go down to Mississippi and lend a hand.,
Go down, Moses, was the call. Go down, collective Moses.
There were many who heard that call; there was even a man named Moses, Bob Moses from Harlem. He, and others who stood with him against discrimination, planted themselves in Mississippi at the crossroads of injustice and opportunity. Down here in the verdant lap of Dixie where the honeysuckles twine sweetly and the slaves had mourned bitterly, a battalion of wayfaring strangers from far and near came to cultivate the new growth of freedom.
They were filling a void in the whole of the human soul. Robbed of freedom, the Soul of Man wails out a distress call; then in regions afar, the Soul of Man hears, and resonates with action. Deep calls unto deep.
In Berkeley California, Michael Savola answered the call. He knew about the work of the NAACP. He had heard the battle-cry, had felt those deep twelve-bar blues jangling through his heart and across his brain. When Michael got to Mississippi, the civil rights pioneers took him by the hand and lead him into a little church. For the first time ever he felt the flesh and blood plaintive chant of Negroes; they were singing”:
The truth will make us free,
The truth will make us free,
The truth will make us free some day. Oh deep in my heart I do believe The truth will make us free some day!
Because we recently visited Jerusalem, in Israel, I would like to share with you this very special song, written by my friend David Browne, which he recorded a decade or two ago, with singing from friends Danny and Donna, and oboe by Jenny. . .
Aliyah Yerushalayim (Danny Donna Jenny David)
As I am aging baby boomer, recently I was reflecting upon the times in which my generation has been born, come of age, and then moved past youth into middle age and whatever comes after that. I was remembering some great old songs from back in the day, not mine, but classic for our times. So I slapped a few of them down on an MP3 and now I'll share them with you,if that's ok. I hope Dolly and Gordon and Brook and Sam's heirs and Paul and Winona and Naomi don't mind me reminding you what great songs these were back in the day, and still are great songs. Have a listen:
Goodman's ride on the City of New Orleans
Dolly's Coat of Many Colors
Gordon's Railroad Trilogy
Brook Benton's Rainy Night
Sam Cooke's "Change is Gonna Come"
Paul's profound Boxer ballad
Here's a little ditty about my adopted home state:
my silly North Carolina song
We find in chapter 9 of Carey's 2011 novel a word description of the European situation as it happened in 1937.
What had begun, in the shadowed origins of human experience, as the gathering of food and warmth had evolved into something else in the modern way of doing things. By 1937, people and their institutions were all about the accumulation of monetized wealth and political power. In recent centuries, great numbers of humanity were progressing toward unprecedented middle-class levels of prosperity and security. And those who were not succeeding in the race were at least trying to. Lately, with the Depression and whatnot, there was, on the face of the civilized earth, maybe a little more trying than actual acquiring. But pooling resources was what it was all about in most corners of society. In America, the deal had been every man for himself, but that was changing, and now it was a new deal being wrought between the politicians and the deflated capitalists.
Modernity’s debut on the world stage had concocted a multiplicity of ways for men to enrich themselves. The most recent thrust of unbridled wealth creation was the American way., which had sprung forth largely upon the vast potential of having an entire continent of undeveloped resources, newly discovered and ripe for the picking. Thus did the wondrous wealth-generating effects of yankee ingenuity become exponential in their impact, because the historical timing of our American experiment coordinated so advantageously with the dawn of the industrial age. The so-called industrial revolution was picking up steam at just the same time that the new democracy was toddling out of its nascent Enlightenment conception.
In the latter 19th-century, tycoons such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie had harnessed the sod-bustin’, steel-drivin’ inclinations of an energetic, adventurous, young nation. Together they shook the earth with resource-driven productivity from Boston to San Francisco, and in every holler and hamlet in between. Many a fortune was made in the wake of the rails and the cars and the stars and bars of the new frontiering capitalism.
For instance, a smarter-than-the-average-bear dirt farmer in North Carolina had initiated a worldwide tobacco empire that rode on the coattails of those rails. Mr. Duke had initiated his smokin’-joe enterprise on the back of a mule-drawn wagon, along the dusty highways and byways of mercantile America. His high-powered thrust of leafy capitalistic expansion outsmoked his competitors. It happened when he perfected, during the 1880s, the most profitable use of a brand-new machine for manufacturing cigarettes.
Philip Morrow, the young American now in search of English markets for tobacco profitability, was in the employ of that smoking behemoth company of the bustin’-out world. He was finding that the way business is done in the old world is not the same as how it’s tendered back in the States.
The accumulation of wealth in merry ole England was proving to be a beast of a different color. A centuries-old social and economic order dulled the cutting edges of raw ingenuity and sales bravado with which young Philip and his countrymen were accustomed to hawking their wares.
In the old world, accumulations of wealth were much more closely related to wealth that already existed. They were not just pulling money out of the ground like back in the USA. This stodgy old money resided steadfastly within the protective structures of feudal and military institutions. Surrounding every pile of assets was a web of power—political and military density.
But all that had changed radically in 1917. Now the Capitalists and the Democracies of Europe were running scared.
When the Bolsheviks tore down the Russian Czar’s gilt empire, they immediately began exporting their revolution to the world. That’s the way Marx had conceived their grand plan, and so that’s the way they intended to liberate the working world from the rapacity of capitalistic exploitation. They stubbornly undertook their worldwide project in spite of severe infighting and confused disorganization. So in spite of themselves, the Reds were able to intimidate their moneyed nemeses to the West. Fearfully anticipating an onslaught of Communism from the East, the European houses of wealth and power were scrambling for defenses.
Thus did they mistakenly identify, in the late 1930s, the German reich, newly constructed under Hitler’s forcefully vicious methodology, as a wishful bastion of European order and capitalistic vigor. Weren’t the Germans the proud forgers of finely-tuned industry and disciplined authority?
The leaders of the western world were slowly deluding themselves into a tragically misguided assessment of Hitler. Too many of them saw his rise as a potential defense of European order, and the wealth that sustained it.
This confrontation of semi-biblical proportions would hold as captive a newborn republic, Czechoslovakia, soon to be orphaned at the doorstep of Western naiveté.
In Petrograd, and Moscow, and out in the wide Siberian steppes, the intrepid Bolshevik leaders purged themselves of dissenters as they went. Apparently this was an unforeseen part of the newly forged Marxist internal machinery—blood and vengeance.
What the Marxists and the Bolsheviks despised in the gathering of personal wealth they made up for in the accumulation of power—raw, coerced, gulaged power.
The revolutionaries’ starting premise had been the dissolution of the old order, which was, in Russia, the Czar. Then they intended to rebuild society from the peasantry up, through collective power, collective action and collective ownership of the means of production, The whole plan looked workable on paper—appropriating the means of production from the rich and distributing it to the people, the new so-called proletariat. But the working out of their plan was a different animal. As time passed, it could be seen in the heartless manipulations of the Soviets that power was gravitating toward one man, Josef Stalin. And he was no nice guy.
By the late 1930s, this was obvious to Adolf Hitler, because he was doing the same thing, drawing power to himself, although he was casting his net in the German way, which was of course superior, or so he thought, to every other damned nation in the world.
Hitler and Stalin were both, at the same time, eliminating from within their own ranks those who resisted them. And they both used the same methods—murder and fear. Stalin purged those whom he considered enemies of the state, and thereby cultivated rampant fear of insubordination within the ranks. Hitler also killed those who resisted him from within, but his violent strategy went one step further: he elevated, by deceit, his own vengeful struggle (Mein Kampf) to an unprecedented level of hyper-decadent Third Reich policy.
That one man could inflict such putridity upon the world was an offense of demonic proportions. Even Josef Stalin was fooled.
Most folks, including the leaders of the so-called civilized world, were clueless about what was going on behind the scenes in Germany and Russia. The bloody business was being conducted in secret places, under cover of darkness. But there was one group of people who detected early on, as they always have, what was happening to our world. Because they, before all others, would pay the dear price for such highly-organized slaughter.
They saw through the diplomatic smokescreen.
. . . Now how 'bout a little more music:
When the Saints Go Marchin In
We've got a song to sing
In chapter 6 of Glass half-Full, Carey's first novel, published in 2007, we find Marcus and Brigit visiting the Lincoln Memorial . . .
They walked up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
When they reached the top, Bridget was gazing, like most everyone else who ascends here, with rapt interest at the seated statue. But Marcus, holding Bridget’s hand, gently prodded her to keep moving, slowly to the left, through the myriad of ambling visitors.
They came to an inner sanctum. Carved on the white marble wall in front of them were the words of the slain President’s Gettysburg address. Marcus stopped, taking in the enormity of it, both physically and philosophically. He was looking at the speech intently. Bridget was looking at him.
After a few moments: “Isn’t that amazing?
“Yes.” She could see that he was thinking hard about something. The great chamber echoed a murmur of humankind.
“Supreme irony.” The longing of a nation’s soul reverberated through the memorial… in the soundings of children, the whisperings of passersby. Deep within Marcus’ soul, something sacred was stirring, and she could see it coming forth.
“The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here.” He was reading aloud Lincoln's words on the white wall.
But for the echoes of a million people who had passed through this place, there was silence. After a moment, Bridget responded. “…and yet, there it is carved on the wall, for all to see: ‘the world will little note what we say here….’”
“Right, Bridget. Isn’t it amazing?”
Suddenly, amid the noise was a loud shouting.
Marcus could hear where it was coming from. He moved quickly away, toward the noise, to see what was happening. Bridget felt the sudden coolness of air on her hand, in the absence of Marcus’ gentle grip.
As soon as he emerged from behind the marble column, Marcus was puzzled by an incongruous, glistening wet flash of red upon the feet of Lincoln’s statue. What the hell? Instinctively, he ran over to it. He could still hear a constant shouting; it was a ranting. Then his attention settled on the man who was yelling. He had a bucket in his hand, dripping with red paint. The rant went on, and suddenly Marcus was comprehending it: “…you sonofabitch see if you can get that off and then rub it on your white ass, your sorry white ass that destroyed what this country could have been you’re a traitor to your race.”
This must be a dream, a very bad dream. Marcus was noticing the speaker’s bald head, goatee, his moving mouth spouting insult. Then Marcus was deciding to do something. It seemed to him that it was someone else speaking when he asked, loudly, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Now, after the little snatch of reading above, have a listen. I hope Steve and Arlo and Woody's heirs don't mind:
Goodman's ride on the City of New Orleans
Adding a verse to Woody's old song about Grand Coulee
the Ballad of Brett v. Blasey
. . . and switch back again to the reading mode, excerpts from one of these four novels, authored and published by L. Carey Rowland, who is pictured in the upper left corner at the top of this website . . .
In chapter 16 of King of Soul , the novel about 1969 that I published in 2017, we find Donnie and Marcy dining in an off-campus hangout, when they are joined by Donnie's friend, Kevin, who is a political activist. The setting is near LSU,1969:
“Those Yippies—they were really just a bunch of hippies, right?”
Kevin’s face assumed a professorial demeanor. He was in his element now, and it was evident. “You could, uh, you could say that, Marcy, but these people—they had gathered in Lincoln Park, on the north side, a few days before the convention actually started. They are the political version of those folks you’re calling ‘the hippies.’ Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin and all that crowd—they’re not just into free love and smoking dope and all that flower child stuff—they see all of it as a cultural revolution. I wasn’t there when they started doing their thing in Lincoln Park, because I didn’t arrive in Chicago until Monday afternoon. Their public acts—the skinny-dipping in Lake Michigan, smoking dope, nominating a pig for president—they’re trying to freak people—I mean, like, most Americans, straight, boring people—the Yippies want to rock their boat, make ‘em wake up to really living life instead of wasting away.”
“What is it about the way most Americans live that is, uh, wasting away?” Marcy tilted her head to one side, smiled innocently at him.
Donnie was watching her; his feeling about her was that the way she cocked her head like that was quite endearing.
But Kevin’s appreciation of Marcy was different. He was thoroughly engaged with her worldview. “Conformity,” he said, as if it were self-explanatory.
“Oh.” She smiled and looked at Donnie. He returned the smile and shrugged his shoulders. She continued, “Conformity, okay so, what about it?”
“Well, it’s, you know, the tickee-tackkee house in the suburbs and Ozzie and Harriet and keeping up system and the status quo, which keeps the war going”—
“Wait, wait,” Donnie interrupted. “What does the status quo have to do with keeping the war going?”
Kevin’s face registered surprise. His zeal had brought his posture to an upright position, which he now relaxed somewhat. Looking at Donnie, he replied, choosing his words, “When people are taken care of, when they’re fat and happy, comfortable, mesmerized by the TV, they don’t pay attention to what’s really going on. They’re too caught up in their own lives to notice that their government is conducting a war against a bunch of rice-cultivating peasants in southeast Asia.” Kevin’s eyebrows were raised. The former attitude of amusement had gravitated toward a serious indictment of what he considered to be, apparently, the American way of life.
After a pause, as the sound system was wailing out Creedence . . .
“I see a hurricane a blowing,
I see trouble on the way.
Don’t go out tonight; they’re bound to take your life.
There’s a bad moon on the rise.”
“Kevin,” said Donnie, softly, “you can’t blame the American people for the war just because the government is prolonging it.”
“Oh yeah?” Kevin’s countenance had changed. Now he looked sad. “You don’t know what it’s like to grow up in Cleveland. It’s not like around here.”
Underground Railroad Rides Again
Or Read: From chapter 8 of Glass half-Full, we find Hilda, a restaurant-owner, telling some friends about an experience she had in Germany.
"Hitler and his thugs tried to take advantage of the situation; they launched a coup d'etat, called a putsch in German. But it failed, and they ended up getting arrested. The event has been named the beer hall putsch of 1923. Well, I was reading about these police officers who were killed by the Nazis that night. And I was reading in my guide book some information about the incident. I kept hearing this beautiful music, really spirited music. We walked in the direction of the music. We turned a corner...and there they were, five musicians playing five instruments: clarinet, violin, accordion, cello, a drummer. I could tell they were Jewish right away. I considered their courage: to stand there at the Odeonsplatz where the Nazis had made their first move to try and take over the world, and declare, with their music, that Jewish people, along with their music, were alive and well in the 21st century. They inspired me. We must have listened to them for an hour...the Bridge Ensemble ."
When the Saints Go Marchin In
Consider this excerpt from chapter 19 of Glass half-Full , in which we find Marcus working hard to remove the stain:
Marcus opened a can of turpentine. He tipped it slightly so that its upper contents would spill onto a rag that lay on the parking lot next to his car. With the rag partially soaked, he began rubbing on the driver's-side door. Someone had painted a black swastika on it while he was working late. His cell phone rang.
Visit a scene in Smoke, this one from chapter 20. Here we find Mel explaining the message contents of a stained-glass rose window to Philip and Lili, a young woman whose family has just fled Germany. They are standing in the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, in the year 1937:
This unusual man, Mel Leblanc, was gazing up at the rose window. He lifted the spyglass to his right eye and focused it. As he was doing so, he spoke to them. “If you can think of that large circle as a compass, it is divided into four quadrants, n’est-ce pas?”
“Okay,” said Philip.
“Imagine a vector originating at the center, and pointed directly north, at zero degrees.”
“Yes. I understand,” Philip affirmed. He looked at Lili. She nodded.
“Now. From where that line would meet the window’s edge— at the circumference, drop back down, about a third of the way down that radius toward the center. . .” He paused. “Look over to the right of that line—it would be east on a compass—look to the second tear-shaped panel. There is a man riding on a horse. Do you see it?”
“Yes,” Philip said.
“Yes, I see it,” said Lili.
Mel handed the spyglass to Philip. “Take a closer look,” he said.
Philip took the instrument from the old man’s hand. He started, instinctively, to focus it, but remembered that he had watched as Mel had focused it. Peering now at the telescoped detail of a crowned king riding upon the horse, he could see that the rider was carrying a golden scepter, sitting upon a white horse with a wide red collar around its neck.
“Describe the horse to me, Philip,” he said.
“It is white, prancing with its left front leg lifted, like a show horse. It has a wide red collar around its neck, and a golden mane, and . .
“And what?” Mel’s voice was quick with excitement.
“And . . . a face.” Philip chuckled, perplexed.
“A face, what kind of face?” Mel prompted.
“It is—I don’t know. See what you think, Lili. What does it look like to you?” He released her hand from his, and handed the spyglass to her.
Lili lifted the tube to her left eye and spiraled it around until she could position it on the appointed detail. “Oh, I see it.” She laughed innocently. “The horse . . . the horse does have a face, and it is . . . a face like a man. A human face.”
“What king is that?” Philip queried, peering at the illumined, teardrop-shaped panel near the window top.
“The king of the Abyss,” Mel answered, as if the abyss were a common location.
“Abyss? What is that?” was Philip’s retort.
“Some have translated it as the bottomless pit.”
As Lili placed the spyglass in Philip’s hand again, he was amused. “Strange. . . he doesn’t look like any sort of king that would have come up out of a. . .” He looked carefully at Mel, who now seemed as ageless as a sage. Their eyes met. “. . . he doesn’t look like anything as sinister as a person from a ‘bottomless pit.’ It seems to me, uh, with the fair hair and beard—even the horse is blonde—this king doesn't represent anything as dark as an abyss, or a bottomless pit.”
Mel chuckled. “Things are not always what they appear to be.”
“The blonde hair,” said Lili, “is a bad sign, if you ask me. The Nazis want to lift the blonde people—the ‘Aryans’ as they call them—to some kind of privileged status above everybody else. Maybe their ‘king’, the feuhrer, is from the abyss.”
Philip asked, “Where is this abyss?”
“For that information, my friend, you will have to read the book of Revelation, in the Bible, if you can interpret it.”
“I have read the Bible,” said Philip, casually. “I was raised on it. Where is this king from the abyss in the Revelation?”
Unroll the Scroll
When the Saints Go Marchin In
I waited . . .
The Real Deal
We've got a song to sing
Unroll the Scroll
Other music to reflect upon:
Portrait of a Lady
Here's my my personal renditon of a downhome song that truly givew a picture of what life is, or was, in the Deep South; I hope Bobbie doesn't mind. And then there's a classic, hymnish, Woody tune. . . and one class American ballad/love song . . . with some Sunshine guitar splashed in after that...
Bobbie's Ode to Billy Joe
Buy and Read. . . from Amazon links in the right-hand column above, the 4 novels written since 2007 by Carey, author pictured at the top of this lengthy scrolling adventure in digital text sound.
The Real Deal
In 2007, Carey wrote and published Glass half-Full, which is a story about some good people who live in the Washington DC area, but some bad things happen to them.
During 2008, he hatched Glass Chimera, which pertains to genetic engineering and buried treasure at a university in New Orleans.
2011 brought forth Smoke, a story in which the year 1937 is portrayed, through the eyes of a young American businessman as he travels through France, glancing off the Spanish Civil, befriending a German Jewish refugee family, falling in love, and visiting the grave of his father, who had died in a battle in Belgium in the last week of World War I.
By 2017, Carey had mustered up the words and chutzpah to fictionally chronicle the defining issue of his Baby Boomer generation—the war in Vietnam. King of Soul depicts the coming-of-age of college student Donnie Evans, who did not fight in Vietnam. But Donnie’s young life is profoundly affected by the Ho-induced maelstrom that surrounded Vietnam, and dominated politics in the USA, during that terrible time of our history.
Carey lives in Boone with his wife of 40 years, Pat. Being retired, he happily cultivates a vigilant fascination with human history. Ongoing research compels a writerly response. The outcome of this late phase is four novels and 850 blogs. It's something to do . . . until he is lifted up into that great Gospel in the sky, by 'n by.
Copyright © Carey Rowland
Here is the beginning of a new novel, now being written. The working title is Search for Blue. It should be ready for textual travel in about three years. © Carey Rowland
But first, how about a little music to set the mood?
By the time their pioneering days had passed into eternity, the Americans found themselves in a different frame of mind.
It all started when so many immigrants stepped off the boats. After a respite in the coastal flatlands for a spell, to get their bearings and breathe a prayer or two, a persistent restlessness took hold of 'em again and there went the Americans . . . inland, beyond the coastal regions, a-hackin' and packin' their way through the woods and over the hills, fording the streams and even bridging a few rivers.
When they hit upon the mountains, those wayfarers got waylaid for a while. Many just settled in, set up shop, maybe in Pittsburgh or wherever they happened to run out of the gumption it would take to cross o'er the high Allegheny and Appalachian ridges.
After a century or two of hoofin' it, the Americans devised steam locomotives, monstrous machines that came a-blowin' smoke and crankin' out enough noise to raise the dead, rolling westward, with ten thousand restless men a-poundin' their hammers all along the way. By these machines, the land itself--every mile of it-- got railroaded into compliance with human purposes.
Even the waters were bound to comply with their persistent push outward and onward. The boats--soon to be steamboats--turned rivers into swan-roads of pioneer passage, so the land of the free could be populated with wave upon wave of settlers, and the home of the brave would be established with homestead for every family. Thusly did the frontiersmen make the best use of their newfound liberty.
Come, hell, hail or high water, them yankees were bound and determined to do what they had decided to do. What it was that drove them on for so long and so far. . . we'll leave for the historians to decipher.
As the years rolled by, steam locomotives were updated with diesel engines; riverboats likewise, while all vessels were made longer, wider, more comfortable, faster and more frequent.
Mule and oxen got retired to the barn, rendered obsolete by tractors. Every farm-to-market run got quickened by internal combustion magic.
Buggies yielded right-of-way to the horseless carriage. Then along came Mr. Ford and made it all happen on a massive scale.
Everywhere along the highways and byways of expanding commerce and travel, the sputter of combustion and the constant tapping of compression outmoded the ancient muttering of mule and neighing of the horse.
By such expansive ventures of fossil fuel philanderment, the Americans tamed their wilderness. The natives didn't like it. Many of 'em fought with tomahawk and feather all along the way.
By 'n by, 19th-century railroading morphed to overwhelming 20th-century progressive momentum. Their insistent industrializing rolled a newfangled juggernaut all the way out to California and back. Along the upper east coast, where it all had started, our unbound industrial manifest had to reset itself . . . now in a freshly oiled-up 20th-century dynamo. By 1917 they had to redirect the whole screamin' machine back into the eastward direction, shipping doughboys across the Atlantic, right into the Europeans' overheated, hyper-mechanized world war. Our cousin Brits and the defeated French were locked into a desperate death-struggle against the Kaiser's overheated Prussian warmongering.
When the yanks had at last managed to help their European cousins get their oversized military mess straightened out, a roaring 20's romp in the stock market promptly took charge of the whole balywick. The ensuing frenzy rolled right on past Wall Street and into Main Street. Along with it came high times in the old town tonight all along the waterfront and the highway, clear out to the frontier, over the Rockies and right into Los Angeles, San Francisco, clear up to Seattle and everything in between.
All along the way could be found a chicken in every pot and maybe even a gasoline-powered buggy in the garage.
But in October of '29 the whole damn thing just stalled out, real sudden like, stone-cold dead in its tracks.
By that time, marauding manufacturing and rabid farming had stirred up a dust bowl in the wide prairies and a cloud of manifest debilitation over our formerly manifested destiny.
- Or read blog, no blahblah, current entry: Welfare by any Other Name
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and King of Soul
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King of Soul
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Glass Chimera amazon.com
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