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Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey

Tunes I Have Known

It’s my last weekend in my home — indeed, my last weekend with a home until at least July. All of my belongings are now in storage, with the exception of those I’ll be taking traveling with me. As my last musical offering on this side of the ocean, I present Old Man Kelly’s Tunes I Have Known, a handful of old-time tunes and songs that I’ve been recording for my grandfather. They’re no great shakes either musically or technically, but they do give folks like my grandfather a pretty good idea of the type of music that I’ve been making of late.
On Tuesday, the fearless feline and I will be off for a week in North Carolina, after which I will go through the heart-rending exercise of leaving him behind to travel north to visit family. And then it’s off to Dublin on April 13 for a couple of months of open-ended adventuring.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, An American Slave

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, An American Slave
Frederick Douglas

Frederick Douglas
Never in my life have I been really and truly harmed. I’ve never gotten into a fight, was never abused, never even broke any bones other than a few toes here and there due to my own clumsiness. I’ve never had family members killed, never been imprisoned, and never done forced labor (unless mowing the lawn counts). In short, I’ve enjoyed a pretty trouble-free life of a sort denied to probably 90% of the world’s inhabitants. I try not to take it for granted, but when you get down to it, it’s impossible. The fact is that I do take it for granted. It’s beneficial to read something like Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas and to realize that not long ago, people were being treated as property in the United States, and still are in much of the world. But on a gut level, I find that I still read it as I would read a work of fiction. There’s little in in that resonates with me on a more personal level, because it’s so far outside of my own experience.
Today’s New York Times headline was “Blast Kills 122 at Iraqi Clinic in Attack on Security Recruits“. And I find that I read it much the same way. There’s just some text with a number in it. 122. The number could be a street address, the number of milligrams of vitamin C in a glass of orange juice, an ex-girlfriend’s weight, anything. But it isn’t. It’s dead people. And yet I can’t quite connect the number with my own body and the bodies of 121 people that I love.
There’s a Charles Bukowski poem (I don’t remember which one) in which he says of Americans, “The trouble with these people is that their cities have never been bombed and their mothers have never been told to shut up.” I don’t think I wish to be bombed, but there is a degree of truth in the observation.