About Me

My photo
Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Beethoven, Some Political Drek and a New Short Story

As we approach the New Years Day holiday, I am reminded that one of my favorite pieces of music, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (known as the Choral Symphony), is frequently played in concert halls on New Year's Eve.  This is very commonplace in Europe and even in Japan.  In the United States this year, it is being played this week by symphony orchestras in Seattle and Spokane and probably elsewhere as well.  I would hope that radio broadcasts of Beethoven's Ninth will be available this week as well.  I will be playing it at home, too.

Beethoven's Ninth's final movement demands four operatic soloists and a large and well rehearsed chorus.  That's why it is not performed more frequently.  The chorale consists of a modification of Schiller's poem "Ode to Joy," and emphasizes the joyful message that all mankind are brothers. ("Freude, Freude ... Alle menschen werden bruder").  The chorus in full translates as follows.

                                                             * * *

O friends, no more these sounds! Let us sing more cheerful songs, more full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity, daughter of Elysium, Fire-inspired we tread Thy sanctuary. Thy magic power re-unites all that custom has divided, all men become brothers under the sway of thy gentle wings. 

Whoever has created an abiding friendship or has won a true and loving wife, all who can call at least one soul theirs, join our song of praise. But those who cannot must creep tearfully away from our circle. 

All creatures drink of joy at natures breast. Just and unjust alike taste of her gift.; she gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine, a tried friend to the end. Even the worm can feel contentment and the cherub stands before God! 

Gladly, like the heavenly bodies which He sent on their courses through the splendor of the firmament; thus, brothers, you should run your race, like a hero going to victory! 

You millions, I embrace you. This kiss is for all the world! Brothers, above the starry canopy there must dwell a loving Father. Do you fall in worship, you millions? World, do you know your Creator? Seek Him in the heavens;  Above the stars must he dwell. 

                                                               * * *

Wow!  Incidentally, this chorus is the unofficial anthem of the European Economic Community.   To everyone then, a Happy and Healthy New Year during which all mankind recognizes that they indeed are brothers (and sisters.)

                                                 * * *   * * *   * * *

**Political Drek:  - The Demise of the Republican Party

In earlier postings on this blog, I have hinted at the upcoming demise of the Republican Party.  This would be an unfortunate occurrence because, despite George Washington’s injunction in his Farewell Address that we should avoid having political parties, having more than one major party provides a clear balance in our legislatures that would not be present if we had a multiplicity of parties, each with its own ultimate goals, but willing to temporarily compromise in order to form coalitions in order to gain power, as is common in Europe.


Politicians often claim that their party is a big enough tent under which members of different beliefs can come together.  In the Democratic tent one can find unions, Wall Street financiers, bankers, lawyers, environmentalists, family farmers, educators, believers in a strong central government and the growing number of Americans who find themselves thankful for the government safety nets provided by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment benefits.  Under the Republican tent’s canvas, one can find corporations, small businessmen and individual entrepreneurs, career military people, religious people, investors, believers in states’ rights and Americans who feel that individual effort and hard work, with as little government involvement as possible, are the keys to success in our country.  Often, some people drift from one tent to the other. Either will keep you dry if it starts to rain.  And the barometer is dropping.

Imagine, however, if one tent were to be blown away in a windstorm, and be replaced by many golf umbrellas, each sheltering three or four people.  They might get a little wet, and envious of the people in the remaining tent, who very well might not give a hoot about those outside of their tent.  Envious people sometimes become desperate people, and this is how revolutions start.  But look, even with two tents remaining standing, the “Occupy” people, for example, have chosen to stay outside of the Democratic tent, and are getting wet, whereas the “Tea Party” people are comfortable and dry under the Republican canvas, although their welcome is becoming damper lately.  These are factors to be considered. 

The Democratic tent, first erected by Thomas Jefferson and the subject of occasional patching as was done by Andrew Jackson and Franklin Roosevelt has managed to survive for about 260 years.  The Republican tent, originally called the Federalist tent, was built by Washington, Adams and Alexander Hamilton and fell into disrepair during the first half of the nineteenth century, primarily over the issue of slavery, and was replaced to some extent by groups of people with golf umbrellas collectively known as Whigs.  Finally, though, the Republican tent was repaired by Abraham Lincoln and survives to this day. 


Historically, the issue of a strong central government was the main tent pole supporting the Republican tent’s canvas until the advent of Roosevelt’s New Deal, which resulted in the Democratic tent swapping its own main tent pole (which had “States Rights” painted all over it) with the Republicans for their “Federalist” pole.

Which brings us to today.  We have a Republican Party trying to select a candidate to run against Barack Obama.  I close my eyes and picture these individuals sitting down and talking to international leaders such as Russia’s Putin, Germany’s Merkel, the UK’s Cameron, France’s Sarkozy and so on.  Only Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman can be imagined in this role.  Unfortunately, the majority of those in the Republican tent may not be able to accept this very obvious conclusion.  Can you imagine Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum sitting down across the table from Vladimir Putin?  This refusal of many in the Republican tent to sense the obvious very well may result in many under that canvas opening their golf umbrellas and venturing outside into the rain.  And if they don’t do that, they very well might just sit down on the ground on the sawdust, close their eyes and put their fingers in their ears.  After all, this is the attitude many Republicans in Congress are taking about economic issues.  True, there are equally disparate views among those in the Democratic tent, but they have been willing to compromise with each other since 1800.  The G.O.P.’s inability to compromise, not only with Democrats, but among themselves as well, may signal the demise of the Republican Party, and that would not be a good thing.

** (More "Political Drek" is available at our new, still "under construction" site, www.politicaldrek.com.  Remember that the last word of Political Drek stands for Democratic &  Republican Election Kaleidoscope.)

Jack Lippman

                                                             * * *   * * *   * * *

FINAL THOUGHTS                   
Sid Bolotin

Oh, oh, I’m really stuck now.  My whole right side except for my shoulder is trapped in the glue.  I’ve been scratching on the tile floor for hours trying to leverage myself off the trap, but I haven’t been able to budge at all.  When he wakes up, he’ll surely kill me.

I was doing so well too.  For two weeks I was able to avoid the old fashioned snap traps he had put out after he discovered that I had been feasting on the oat meal and pancake flour in the pantry.  The whole situation boiled over when he and his wife realized that the gouged-out gashes in the sides of the bananas on the kitchen table were from me and not his wife’s paring of over-ripe areas.

Because of her histrionics he called in a professional outfit whose technician, John, confirmed my intrusion.  John put traps in the attic and placed traps around the kitchen, den, and spare bedroom.  As good as he was, he couldn’t find my access route from the attic into the kitchen; so I continued my nightly sojourns and dining by avoiding the traps he had placed.  Generations of my species had implanted in my DNA an awareness of the dangers of both his sticky and modern snap traps baited with peanut butter. 

When the house-owners placed all foodstuffs inside the stove and fridge, I tried to leave but could not get past the wire mesh that John had placed across my one-and-only, original access opening where the A/C lines from the compressor came up the outside wall into the attic.

My cleverness at bypassing the traps, at refusing to be captured immediately, freaked out the wife into such a state that she exploded in John’s face during one of his follow-up visits.  Her hysterical eruption was so fierce that he immediately called in his senior guru, Richie, who meticulously examined my string of droppings and urine behind couches, beds, stove, fridge, and floor TV.  Driven by his anal determination to catch me he discovered the openings under the kitchen cabinets above the toe space that the builder had never closed off.  He found my entry holes.

I had heard of this legendary Richie from others in my colony and knew I had to be extra vigilant in order to survive.  I thought I was clever enough to do so…even when he placed double-wide sticky traps under the cabinets near my entrance holes.  Surely my generations of evolved craftiness would guide me.


                                                                 Rodent Caught in Glue Trap

Alas Richie was craftier than I.  He used peanut M&M’s as bait, and I fell for it.  And now I hear the man coming into the kitchen…stopping as he hears my scratching.  I know what’s coming.  I heard Richie’s instructions.  I just hope he’s quick about it.  He hesitates.  I hear him mutter softly that he’s sorry to do what he must do, but his wife is so distraught that he has no choice.  He must keep me from escaping by unrolling my fur from the glue.  He takes another glue trap and places it gently over me to make a rat sandwich with me as the meat.  The last thing I see is his foot stepping down to squeeze the life out of me.  Our battle is over.  

                                                     ***   ***   ***                  
Most readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by contacting me at Riart1@aol.com.  Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format.


                                                     ***   ***   ***

To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow right below the  dotted line at the very bottom of this posting.


No comments: