A Cautious Man
April 27, 2008
Sunday Night Springsteen
The Danny Federici tribute, at the current concerts. It's appropriate, and the rest of us can only hope to be missed in such a way as this.

It's A Sad Funny Ending
So last night was President Bush's last White House Correspondents' Dinner (that's the one where, two years ago, Stephen Colbert was wickedly funny, except that none of the press were amused). The news reports on what was supposed to be his "joke" about the Democratic candidates -

But it was Bush who received the night's loudest laughter, as he poked fun at Clinton and Obama's absence ("Senator Clinton couldn't get into the building because of sniper fire, and Senator Obama is at church"), and who received a rousing ovation as he and the Marine Band finished.

Okay, so I understand that it's a joke on Senator Clinton and her Bosnia trip exaggerations, but why is it a joke to say "Senator Obama is at church"? Yes, the press has created a storm with mini-clips from some of Reverend Wright's sermons, creating a false picture of the man, the sermons, and the church he pastored until his retirement. But, these "news people" should be aware that it's a false picture, shouldn't they? More likely, they don't really care.

Senator Obama's membership in Trinity UCC is not the equivalent of Senator Clinton's phony Bosnia stories. And "Senator Obama is at church" shouldn't be a punch line - especially since it's a punch line that says, "Senator Obama is at one of those scary black churches, where a scary black man says scary things in a loud voice."

I don't think that's funny at all. And the press corps is full of a-holes, if they all thought it was funny.

April 21, 2008
Cherry Tops
Took a walk in the park in Newark on Saturday. Branch Brook Park has a multitude of cherry trees, all in bloom. Took a lot of pictures - this one seemed sort of representative.

And lots and lots of trees like this guy -

April 20, 2008
Sunday Night Springsteen
The other day, we heard of the death of an original member of the E Street Band, Danny Federici. I heard it Friday morning, before heading for the train. I dialed through the Ipod my kids got me for Christmas, which they had thoughtfully loaded with “The Wild, The Innocent, And The E Street Shuffle”. I listened as Danny’s fingers danced across the keys of his accordion - longingly on “Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”, and playfully on “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” – and again across the keys of his Hammond Organ on songs such as “Incident” and “Rosalita”.

He was truly an “original” member, since he was one of the guys who asked Bruce Springsteen to join their band in those now-legendary days of the New Jersey shore music scene. The New York Times has not one, but two obituaries for him. There’s the first, perfunctory one from news releases, and the one the next day from music critic Jon Pareles, who must have recognized that this passing deserved a little more reflection.

Someone let me know if the term “irony” covers the fact that Mr. Federici succumbed to melanoma – it wasn’t drugs or violence which claimed the first deceased member of our favorite band, but the sun.

So, for this Sunday, some video of Danny in action. First, Danny Federici’s last performance, a guest appearance on the current tour, which his illness made him unable to continue (from the Bruce Springsteen website) –

A complete performance of “Sandy”, from the 1978 show broadcast on the radio from the Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ – the video has great shots of Danny swinging with his accordion.

And, just because this clip captures a sense of the fun these guys must have had together, a performance of “Fire”, with Danny on one side of Springsteen, with his accordion, and Nils Lofgren on the other, on guitar, and all three of them mugging it up.

[Edited on April 21] From Dr. Alterman, I see that Mr. Federici's family has set up the Danny Federici Melanoma Fund, which is "dedicated to the research and development of new and effective treatments for melanoma through funding for additional clinical trials based upon Danny's melanoma treatments and other methods headed by Dr. Paul Chapman [at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center]. Our other objective is to raise awareness for this aggressive disease."

A Random Thought
I was listening to a news report about the Mass celebrated at Yankee Stadium today, with the Pope presiding.

There was a mention of New York's new governor, David Paterson, and that he was a Catholic.

And I thought to myself, "I didn't know that."

And then I thought to myself, that it's really annoying that nowadays when you say "Catholic Politician from New York", people think of Rudy Giuliani instead of Governor Paterson, let alone Mario Cuomo (remember him, defeated for re-election by an empty suit, because he opposed capital punishment?).

"You Know That Flag Flying Over The Courthouse ..."
I don't usually watch the Sunday talking heads shows.

But the weather today was a little grim, so after coming home from church I plopped down on the couch and surfed around the news shows. And I saw the end of "Face the Nation" where Bob Schieffer delivered a much-needed dose of intelligent discourse to the current political silly season. And, thank goodness, David Kroning at Daily Kos has put the text and the video online for us.
I watched the ABC debate the other night when the question came up, again, about why Senator Obama doesn't wear a flag pin in his lapel.

Since no one asked me, here's my thought on all that.

I think it is a nice thing if people want to wear a flag on their lapel.

But I believe it more important to keep the flag behind our lapel; in our hearts.

I feel the same way about wearing my religion on my sleeve; it fits better for me on the inside.

When I go to see our local baseball team, I do wear my Washington Nationals baseball cap. But am I less a fan if I don't wear it to work?

The truth is I have been known to wear a red, white and blue, stars and stripes tie on the Fourth of July. Am I less patriotic when I trade it for my Santa Claus tie at Christmas?

Patriotism is no more about signs or pins than religion is about reminding others how pious we think we are.

No, the proof in these puddings is not the signs we wear but how we act.

Wouldn't that also be a better way to judge our presidential candidates than by the jewelry they wear?

April 19, 2008
The Big Payback
Possible backlash from the Boss's endorsement?

Too funny. Via Jeralyn at TalkLeft, who shows that even Clinton supporters can have a sense of humor. ;-)

April 17, 2008
On The TeeVee
Wouldn't you know, the best coverage of Pope Benedict's visit to the U.S. was on Comedy Central, when Peter Steinfels was a guest on the Daily Show -

Via dotCommonweal, of course.

April 16, 2008
Land of Hope and Dreams
As far as I’m concerned, it’s over. It's sort of like, "I'll see your Elton John, and raise you by The Boss" -

Dear Friends and Fans:

LIke most of you, I've been following the campaign and I have now seen and heard enough to know where I stand. Senator Obama, in my view, is head and shoulders above the rest.

He has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next President. He speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that's interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit. A place where "...nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone."

At the moment, critics have tried to diminish Senator Obama through the exaggeration of certain of his comments and relationships. While these matters are worthy of some discussion, they have been ripped out of the context and fabric of the man's life and vision, so well described in his excellent book, Dreams of My Father, often in order to distract us from discussing the real issues: war and peace, the fight for economic and racial justice, reaffirming our Constitution, and the protection and enhancement of our environment.

After the terrible damage done over the past eight years, a great American reclamation project needs to be undertaken. I believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate to lead that project and to lead us into the 21st Century with a renewed sense of moral purpose and of ourselves as Americans.

Over here on E Street, we're proud to support Obama for President.

Bruce Springsteen

April 06, 2008
Sunday Night Springsteen
It's been a while, but who cares ...

We SHALL overcome -

April 03, 2008
Might As Well Say It
I admit it, I'm getting annoyed reading and listening to those "pundits" and others who criticize Senator Obama by using snippets from Reverend Wright. I think that they do so as a substitute for what they really want to say about the Senator -

"And I Believe In A Promised Land"
Forty years ago today, the day before his assassination forty years ago tomorrow, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us that he had seen the promised land -

Well, I don't know what will happen now.
We've got some difficult days ahead.
But it doesn't matter with me now.

Because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.
Longevity has its place.
But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will.

And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain.

And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land.

I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land.

And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

The only question is, can we see it, and if so, how close is it?


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