‘The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall’

Killed a century ago a week before the warring powers signed the armistice, Wilfred Owen emerged from the Great War as its foremost poet, a versifier of great suppleness. His sexuality remains a matter of conjecture, fueled by his appearance in the Sitwell-Robert Ross literary circle. As anthologized as “Anthem for a Doomed Youth” is, it hasn’t aged a comma.

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

 

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Happy Armistice Day.

Born in a small town: ‘Monrovia, Indiana’

Late into Monrovia, Indiana, the local chapter of the Freemasons recognizes a man named Bauer for fifty years of service, the reward for which is the Grand Lodge Award of Gold. The pride on the man’s face strips at least twenty years of age off his face. As the qualifications get read, every man present seems to swell. Minute after minute in this meeting room the impact of this award settles over the audience. Continue reading

Worst Songs Ever: Chicago’s “Look Away”

Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.

Chicago – Look Away
PEAK CHART POSITION: #1 in December 1989

When Peter Cetera wore a Bauhaus shirt in the video for 1984’s “You’re the Inspiration,” he accepted how terrifying Chicago would become in the late eighties. Continue reading

2018’s first worst political clichés

The ending of a political cycle doesn’t mean that reporters and pundits have retired the old clothes they’ve worn for two years and longer. At the cost of my health I exposed myself to four hours straight of cable news television because I’m compulsive about blogging as MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki is about correctly pronouncing county names.

Here are five of the worst political clichés this season:

1. Soccer moms

2. “Alienating women.” Because women get alienated. Men get…angry?

3. “Not appealing to the middle.” Voters’ positions are a sour mishmash because unlike politicians they can’t pay the rent and for a focus group out of one check.

4. “Race to the bottom”

5. The quiet mourning of pundits, mostly white, for the death of the rural white Democratic voter. White voters will not leave Trump, and we should stop hoping so because they’re racists and our coalition doesn’t need them. Plus, they’re old and will die of emphysema and eating processed cheese. Fuck’em. I mean, why on earth would you want them leaving Trump? You think the separation will stop their racism? Many those racists voted for Obama. They were still racists.

Midterm 2018: Is America ready for me?

11:17 p.m. I’ll repeat: as a Floridian, it’s weird to live in a county where the Republican incumbent and the open seat held by a Republican since 1989 went down yet the governor and Senate races went to a Democrat. Meanwhile Nancy Pelosi will be speaker, it looks like. My state will live with more red tide, more gutting of environmental regulation, and more gutting of the state treasury.

11:00 p.m. Hello. Been eating chocolate. Gillum concedes, but Antonio Delgado in Illinois, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Abby Finkenauer of Iowa, and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey will win.

10:29 p.m. I can’t stress how weird this is that the evening is going in our direction but Florida is not.

10:23 p.m. Democrats will take the house, NBC declares.

10:12 p.m. What a weird night. Florida may fall to the GOP, but so far the last thirty minutes has seen race after race fall to the Democrats. Texas has seen perhaps ten state race pickups despite what I just heard was a O’Rourke loss. At last the Dems are competitive in Texas.

9:59 p.m. Although the competition for Worst Governor in the United States is fierce, what Sam Brownback did to Kansas has no precedent. At last a Democratic governor can pick up the mess.

9:53. Sharice Davids picks up a race in Kansas. She’s Native American and gay.

9:47 p.m. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell defeats Republican Carlos Curbelo. HOLY FUCK.

9:45 p.m. Look, I can’t lie: the Florida news has been enervating. What will perk me up if news doesn’t improve from Broward County makeup votes is the series of House races that remain to be called.

9:41 p.m. Conor Lamb wins in Pennsylvania.

9:33 p.m. I’m having a martini. Because why not?

9:28 p.m. Jason Crow beats Mike Coffmann in Colorado Sixth District. Another pickup.

9:23 p.m. Carlos Curbelo still clinging by his teeth, behind by a point and a half.

9:15 p.m. I can’t escape the gloom at my blogging station. But no more House races have been called yet.

9:05 p.m. Amendment 4 in Florida, restoring felon voting rights, has passed by a comfortable margin.

8:59 p.m. Joe Manchin holds. Now he can feel better about voting for Brett Kavanaugh.

8:55: Mike Braun beats Joe Donnelly in Indiana.

8:48 p.m. https://twitter.com/jerryiannelli/status/1059984539915878400

8:45 p.m. Beto O’Rourke at 66 percent at the early vote in Texas.

8:41 p.m. I’m back.

8:26 p.m. Still waiting for Florida.

8:17 p.m. Nelson and Scott are at 50.0 each, according to MSNBC. More wine!

8:13 p.m. Rick Scott up by 10,000 votes in Florida.

8:10 p.m. Jerry Iannelli of Miami New Times: Miami-Dade’s vote-by-mail and early-voting results just came in, Democrats cleaned up in Dade County early voting, which is typical for early votes but still could be a sign of more blue votes to come 1/x

8:04 p.m. Impressively, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is ahead of Carlos Curbelo, one of the few GOP congressman who won in a Clinton district in 2016.

7:59 p.m. Donna Shalala wins! A huge sigh of relief. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s former district, a GOP moderate stronghold, is now firmly Democratic.

7:57 p.m. Steve Schmidt, while I appreciate your betrayal of conservative values, theoretically, “fidelitous” is a word one uses the way I use “rebarbative.”

7:55 p.m. From 538:

CLARE MALONE 7:54 PM
An interesting little tidbit from the preliminary exit polls out of Indiana, where Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is fighting for his seat: 53 percent said that Donnelly’s vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation was important in deciding their midterm vote.

7:53 p.m. MSNBC projects Sherrod Brown as winner in Ohio. No one much discussed this race. What matters is Richard Cordray, former head of the former Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, beating his challenger.

7:50 p.m. I may accept a piece of dark chocolate. Help me.

7:48 p.m. Second refill. Right ring finger still throbbing. I am a martyr for blogging, though.

7:45 p.m. If Gillum and Nelson win — more full disclosure — you will have seen a transformation of Florida the likes of which I haven’t seen in my lifetime. The only comparison: if Beto wins his race in Texas and Abrams in Georgia.

7:41 p.m. Full disclosure: friend Alan Gomez gets interviewed on MSNBC on Hispanic voter trends in Florida.

7:40 p.m. Nelson and Gillum still doing very well, the latter clobbering in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

7:38 p.m. Barbara Comstock gone, Jennifer Wexton wins VA-10. First sip of red wine.

7:36 p.m. Amy McGrath jumping to a lead in the unfortunately named KY-6 60-39 against Andy Barr.

7:35 p.m. What you want, dear readers, is to follow a Negroni with red wine. What an acerbic taste combo!

7:31 p.m. Spanberger leads Brat in VA-7. Comstock behind by double digits in VA-10.

7:26 pm. Nelson 52, Gillum 51. Please, powers that be. Chuck Todd, that Miami native son, has acknowledged that Gillum and Stacey Abrams victories “have transformed” how Democrats run in the South. Well, yeah.

7:24 p.m. My posts will accumulate as the returns do.

7:23 p.m. My right ring finger, damaged by falling blender last night, is throbbing. Bear with me.

7:21 p.m. Andrew Gillum well above Hilary Clinton levels in Miami-Dade County and Broward.

6:23 p.m. MSNBC, whose coverage I will watch for a couple hours, has unleashed Steve Kornacki, a thirtysomething already mocked for his almost pneumatic enthusiasm. He wears a blue longsleeved shirt. I suspect he wears several undershirts for the sweat.

6:17 p.m. I ate leftover fricase de pollo I cooked yesterday, accompanied by a side arugula salad, the latter as comforting as a cup of coffee. My laptop is charged. I’ve read the requisite number of pages of the Olivier bio I checked out last week. I’ve graded thirty essays submitted in three classes. Is America ready for me?

Ranking favorite Blondie albums

“Mike Chapman hammered them into pop shape” is the standard line, and, on the evidence, true. Like any good produce he encouraged his bosses. Debbie Harry improved as a singer and lyricist with each album, guitarist Chris Stein and keyboardist Jimmy Destri’s absorption of pop idioms matched ambition to prowess, and powerhouse drummer Clem Burke and bassists Gary Valentine and Nigel Harrison, along with crucial support from Frank Infante, made it happen.  Continue reading