Sunday, November 16, 2008

¡Viva la vida !

How do you get acquainted with a new CD? Do you listen to it from first song to last and then over again from the top? Do you set your CD player on "shuffle?" When I have a new CD, I instantly get aurally addiction to one or two selections and listen to them over and over and over again ... practically ad nauseam, sometimes ignoring the other tracks for months. I'm sure this says something about my personality, but let's not delve too deeply there, gentle reader, OK?

I don't follow the rock scene very closely and the British group Coldplay was just a name to me until my husband recorded their televised concert. Watching it with him, I recognized the song "Clocks." Then we saw that fantastic movie Young@Heart, in which one of the chorus members sings "Fix You." The song haunted me, so I searched for it on YouTube and then found "In My Place" and "Clocks" and soon became a Coldplay fan. Last week I found "Viva la Vida" on YouTube and ran out to get the CD. I'm currently in the play-my-favorite-song-ad-nauseam phase...

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
Once you go there was never
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in.
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn't believe what I'd become

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

I have this fantasy of constructing an ESL lesson around "Viva la vida." Powerful images cascade one after the other, and the lyrics are replete with idiomatic expressions (give the word, roll the dice, puppet on a string), biblical allusions (pillar of salt, head on a silver plate, Saint Peter), and Western Civ references (Long live the king! Roman cavalry, Jerusalem, missionaries). Plus the pulsing, energetic rhythm. Would be a fun class, I think!

If I had to hazard an interpretation of the song, I'd say that it seems to express Lord Acton's famous dictum:
“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
The introspective narrator who used to rule the world admits that he wasn't the best of rulers: never an honest word ... which is maybe why St. Peter won't call his name when he reaches the Pearly Gates. Oh who would ever want to be king? he moans, now that his kingdom is crumbling. But when all that power was within reach...what a temptation! Even Jesus was tempted by it, according to the evangelists .

According to a Wikipedia article, the title Viva la Vida, was inspired by a painting by Frida Kahlo, a canvas that just screams red. Have to meditate on that one...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Delta of Mars

Freedom sits captive
on an island in the Caribbean
wounded in battle
beaten in Bagram
hung from his wrists
shackled to the floor
stripped and exposed

Freedom sits in solitary
in a camp called Delta
thinking of his wife
dreaming of family
remembering tools
pencils and pens
a cash register
a campfire

Freedom was ambushed in Afghanistan
plucked from Pakistan
kidnapped on a European street
in JFK airport

strapped down
washed down
a black drain hole

Sunday, November 9, 2008

For some, policy change will come too late...

This just in from attorney H. Candace Gordon. She has just returned from visiting her client again in Guantánamo, and he is dying. Her repeated requests to have him transferred to another facility where he can be cared for have all been turned down by the federal judge.

Switzerland was willing to give him asylum and put him in a hospital to be treated for his tuberculosis and Hepatitis B. All the US had to do was officially ask. The powers-that-be would not ask.

All that is left is to comfort him a bit:

Al-Ghizzawi is in very bad shape and I am thinking it is time for people to send him letters to try to give him some hope. It takes a long time for mail to get to him. It will be read by the "authorities" and it will be censored....but if you have the time please send him a nice little letter letting him know that he is not forgotten. Who knows, he might even receive it.

Camp Delta
U.S. Naval Base Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
Washington, DC 20355


You might also be interested in hearing an interview Candace gave last week:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day, 11:20 pm

These two quotations come to my mind--

"Right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

...and, God willing, for the Guantánamo prisoners and other victims of the current administration's policies of torture and illegal detention:

Now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Newsflash: Researchers Discover That Dogs Can Be Brainwashed Too!

Tried my hand at canvassing today. It's the first bit of campaign work I've done since working the phones, as per my last post. Been buried under lots and lots of work. But I finally feel that I have my head above water at last (hmm... did I just mix a couple of metaphors?).

A mass of supporters were lined up at the campaign headquarters waiting to get their marching orders. So many volunteers ready to make one last push before the Tuesday elections.

This door-to-door thing is a bit intimidating. Fortunately, we were knocking on "warm doors," as my partner said, meaning that we were contacting persons who were either registered party members or who had given some indication that they might vote for our candidate. We were just giving them one last reminder about how important their vote was, and also asking if they needed transportation to the polls.

My partner Heather, a young, self-employed photographer with a 1-yr-old little boy, had never done cavassing either, so we went together to the first few houses, taking turns knocking on the door and speaking to the resident who answered. It was Saturday morning, and lots of people were out of the house running errands, no doubt, as I usually do on Saturdays. Once we felt like we had the hang of it, we each took a page and split up, each one cavassing her respective section, and then meeting up again at the next corner to take a new page.

As I was starting up one side of the street, I saw a senior gentleman walking a very large dog. He gave me somewhat unfriendly look, but I just kept going. When I rejoined Heather later on, she told me about her encounter with said gentleman. He had asked her who she was working for. She explained that she wasn't working, she was volunteering. Ok, he says, so for who? So Heather told him. Then the gentleman tells her (and without a smile on his face) "My dog is trained to bite _____ workers." Heather just walked on.

Gee, I didn't know it was possible to brainwash dogs too! :-)

Leaves me wondering why some people can't disagree in a more agreeable way.

We were canvassing a pretty up-scale development. The beautiful autumn day and spectacular foliage were my reward. And a few hours out in the fresh air felt great.

Since work has me feeling wiped out, I'm taking a Monday and Tuesday as vacation days. I promised to report back to the headquarters on Tuesday to do some last-minute Election Day canvassing.

It's been a long, long campaign season... I'm sure people are as tired of it all as I am. I can understand if they feel turned off by someone knocking on their door and distributing still more campaign literature. Frankly, I'm torn between my reluctance to try to influence an adult who must decide for him/herself and the conviction the political process in a democracy is this: individuals getting out and vouching for the candidate of their choice.

Still, Tuesday can't come soon enough.