Saturday, September 15, 2018

Miss American Pie – Well done…

Miss American Pie – Well done…

In 2011 while contributing some time musically to the “Occupation” movement, I met many fascinating people.  Many a political idealist or activist on the case from Harvard, MIT, to Vanderbilt, Berkley and more, all provided some of the most invigorating and illuminating conversations I’d had in years.  The financial crisis on Wall Street and indiscretions of the 1% had reverberated into the mind and conscience of so many and it was an awesome opportunity to meet so many brilliant minds and talented musicians. While mostly an observer, I took many pictures and notes along the way and contributed as much as I could, my musical talents in many sing-alongs, marches, and performance venues.

Contemporaneously, I was engaged with my photojournalist friends gathering for the Eddie Adams Workshop in NJ, in contributing some music for a collaborative PJ essay.  The EAW Teams of aspiring photojournalist gather each year in commemoration of the late Pulitzer Prize recipient – Eddie Adams, with world-renowned photographers, many Pulitzer recipients themselves, offer to mentor to the aspiring photojournalist.  At the end of the week, each team presents their collaborative efforts in a “photo-essay.”  I was fortunate to have been in the process of working on a tune then, that had a lot of flavors drawn from the OWS movement in Zuccotti Park that fall that eventually became the soundtrack theme for the “Red Team” collaborated work. The song, “Train Don’t Stop Down Here,” was inspired by then-Mayor Blumberg’s decision to re-route downtown subway lines, and not have nearby subway lines “stop” at various adjacent “subway” stops within the proximity of where the OWS main stage was occurring; an attempt to curb the flow of activities in the protest areas.

While back on the street with various OWS marchers and on the move around Manhattan, I wrote a “parody” of “Miss American Pie,” with lyrics more akin to the problem facing the public, the 99% and their plight in legislation(s) that were defeating their interest due to being “out-spent” by big-time $$ lobbyist representing the Banking and Financial industries.  I reflect on this now, given the 10 year anniversary of the “big weekend,” for the gods of the universe in the US financial kingdom and “Lehman Brothers” consummate demise, that precipitated numerous congressional hearings and, eventually, TARP. 

And then, who could forget the holdouts in AIG’s underwriter department for the infamous “CDO” and “CDS” tangled mess of paperwork.  The ones who threatened to walk if their “retention” bonuses weren’t honored, or would be “pulled” due to the new congressional compliance oversight, else they’d “walk” and leave AIG and Goldman Sachs twist in the wind in the worst convoluted matrix, albeit fraud, of financial conduits and paper-wiring matched few to none in the history of global financing. (my essay observations yrs ago) Obviously, they got their “cake,” or “pie,” and ate it too, since Congress had no other choice but to bail-out GS – who owned the paperwork, insured it, all that dirty paper AIG was bathing in, handsomely; followed by the smokeless assent of all that transparent vapor, albeit – trillions of dollars, that drifted up gracefully into the heavens of capital markets worldwide.  Hopefully, we did learn something from all that, but have we? After all, just two short years ago, 8 years after the above financial crisis, HRC did win the popular vote.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018



John Michael Pendley

In mid-September 1968, fifty years ago, a plant, “Philodendron,” arrived at my family’s home in southern California, unexpectedly. It was donated to our family from a community of “strangers” in Bakersfield, CA. “Anonymous” the card read; we’d otherwise have never come to know if it wasn’t for that particular September, that year. Family members and their green thumbs have kept it and its propagations alive all the years since, as a remembrance for the gracious outpourings and kindness some felt after the loss of our loved one. A person whose life came to an abrupt and unexpected end just a few yards or stone’s throw away from any one of their humble homes, doorsteps; from those who witnessed the events of that day in real time - as the tragedy occurred, yet who thoughtfully felt for us, “strangers” as well to them, and our unfortunate and immediate loss.

The plant still survives to this day, 50 years later. It truly is a token of love and consideration my family has never forgotten, despite those dim months shortly after it arriving and the years ahead we faced and endured. To that end, that act of kindness lives on in our hearts, along with their green token of sympathy and condolences.

September is always a very tough month for me. It’s the month of my mother’s birthday, my favorite time of year - early pre-fall in both southern California and New York - yet coupled with two other days in the month, it has proved to significantly be a challenge for myself and others.

On the morning of September 12, 1968, my brothers and I were awoken at approximately 6 am by our father. As always, he’d flash our bedroom lights “on and off” several times, with the ‘ole “rise and shine” to get us up and moving and ready for school. An hour or so later, approximately 7:45 am, a family friend’s carpool station-wagon arrived and 10 crammed-in kids were ferried across town approximately one and a half miles to our elementary school, St. Columbans.

At approximately 10:30 am that fateful morning, I was called out of class and asked to report the principal’s office. I was shocked, as I couldn’t understand nor thought I’d done anything wrong - yet. The attention was unexpected. I was even escorted from my classroom to the principal’s office by a nurse from the nurse’s office. They led me out into the parking lot of the school where I was met by my brother.

We were then greeted by our carpool host-driver, Ms. Adams. We were both puzzled by the reception and couldn’t imagine what was going on. We entered the car and were driven back to our house on Erin Road.We speculated our cousin Jim (James Gavin) might be taking us on an unexpected “helicopter ride.” Gavin was a second unit-director helicopter pilot in Hollywood and trained my father to aviate helicopters.

Surprisingly, when we arrived home that day, our oldest brother greeted us. As we entered the house, Gavin’s wife unexpectedly arrived with her son. Instantly, both my brother and I thought an unexpected “copter ride” was in play that day.

As an in-between job, our father worked as a civilian for the military and delivered helicopters from Palomar airport, now McClellan-Palomar airport, in north San Diego to Point Mugu in Ventura County. That job had been facilitated by Gavin, given his relationship with US DOD and other entities with whom he was acquainted. (Previously, in the early 1960s, Gavin had personally transported JFK during his California election campaigns.) From Point Magu on the California coast, the airships our father delivered from Palomar were then boarded and transported to Vietnam for the war effort. Prior to these transport missions our father made, these airships arrived at the aviation service center in San Diego for various testing and operational corrections and were then delivered for shipment to South Asia from US Naval ports.

On the morning of September 12, 1968, my father was assigned to fly his designated Huey airship, aka “Bubble Copters” to then enlistees, to Pt. Magu; usually a 2-hour flight. While en-route to Ventura that morning,directly over Bakersfield, CA, his airship’s fuel injection system malfunctioned which rendered the aircraft inoperable, yet attempts were made to land it without incident. Unable to do so effectively while both top and rear prop systems were completely compromised and out of sync, it caused the aircraft to spin incessantly and render flight control mechanics useless. Regardless, it was reported by witnesses, that the pilot did manage to navigate the aircraft further and further away from residents and housing communities, averting further calamity, despite the distress at hand from the engine’s malfunctions. The perilous aircraft’s rate of speed and descent resulted in the inevitable, and luckily only one casualty occurred. That morning’s “wake up call” and departing “wave” of his hand while all departed to school in that carpool station-wagon was last time I ever saw my father.

Over the years, the morning of September 12 has always been a slightly anxious and unnerving day for me. The anticipation and memory of that fateful day in '68 were hard to detach, release. It was also a substantial turning point for our mom and her raising of us five kids in the years ahead. Even more disconcerting, it was soon learned our father’s life insurance policy had been caught in the cross-hairs of agency missteps and administrative errors abounded.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was living at 41 W 86th Street, New York, apartment “9K,” between Columbus and Central Park West. I awoke that morning to a blissful, beautiful, clear September morning in Manhattan.There were perfectly blue skies, no clouds, when I turned on the TV. Nothing remarkable was on the news; it was early and I prepared to go to work across town.I took my dog for a walk, said hello to the doorman, proceeded around the corner up Columbus to do the regular morning duties for my shaggy loved one, and then returned to my building.

When I arrived back to the building and the doorman’s podium, several people were gathered around watching the TV.As I passed by, I asked what was going on. All eyes were glued to the screen. They mentioned there was a fire in one of the towers at World Trade Center.We all looked on in amazement as smoke spewed from the side of one tower.

When I arrived back up to 9K, (the letter K being of some interest in years that followed - the 11th letter of the alphabet) news on all the TV stations reported that there was a fire in one of the towers.Live feed of the incident from the circling aircraft was streaming in on every station. Every network was covering the disaster that was unfolding.CNN was speculating that perhaps a radar malfunction occurred at Newark airport, or “perhaps” a small plane may have received bad air traffic control instructions. I thought that was odd given how pristine the weather conditions were that morning.

Meanwhile, smoke was billowing up from the tower as I watched on. The clock was inching up towards the 9 o’clock hour when I saw the next event, in real time.The second plane was filmed, live, crashing into the other tower and the plume of smoke and flying debris vaulted out the other side of the building.A fire-ball plume of flames and debris blew out into the lower Manhattan skylines.Mayhem ensued throughout the city that day, while Navy F-16 fighter jets buzzed back and forth across the Manhattan sky, shaking windows, fraying nerves. One would think we were under imminent attack, war - an invasion was at hand.

All these years later I still find it hard to realize that within that split second and that plane’s fateful end, that strike, hundreds of lives were instantly lost in a cloud of smoke.I’m not even sure to this day if I still fully appreciate how instantaneous that was, and how immediately I felt for so many lives, those “strangers” I will never meet, that lost loved ones that day. I was instantly and incessantly transported back in my mind in time to the event, and particularly to that difficult time I went through in September ’68, as networks mindlessly streamed the crash.

Previously, in 1997, I was assigned a temporary position in the World Trade Center, at the Port Authority Legal affairs office, located on the 86th floor. One of their clerks was taking maternity leave and I was to fill in for a few weeks. Thank God that only lasted a few months.

Being from the West coast, I found it fascinating how the Port Authority operated. The PA is like a little “sovereign” country in and of itself, overseen by the US government and a board of commissioners of equal number appointed by both New Jersey’s and New York’s governor’s offices.

In one room, a very “large room” on the other side of the floor from where I sat, were hundreds of somewhat large TV screen monitors that were posted across several walls.All these screens were running in real time, showing every aircraft runway and taxi lane at JFK, La Guardia and Newark airports, at various railroad junctions for the Path trains, entrance lanes and tunnels to all entry points for the George Washington Bridge, Verrazano, Lincoln Tunnel, Holland tunnel, inner Path train stations, shipping ports and docks to so much more. It truly was a mission control center unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

My job at the PA involved my administrating hundreds of court-ordered “wage garnishment orders”. Many arrived daily from countless counties in the NY and NJ area. These were wage garnishments involving child support, tax liens, alimony, DUI’s – you name it. If you worked for the PA you were of the “Goldman Sachs” bar level, standard, debtor – the best catch for any and all conceivable or aspiring collection agencies seeking to recover whatever they were legally entitled. Working for the PA is a coveted job with the best union between both of the states.

While on that job assignment, other lawyers on that floor were involved with the ongoing legal prosecution cases at the SDNY regarding the terrorist that attempted to bomb the WTC back in ’93.An attempt I came to learn was, that had the terrorist not misjudged their calculations and got it right, they could have compromised sub-level structural key points where both Towers were slightly vulnerable, and both Towers could have imploded in on themselves. Part of this structural engineering I came to know then, involved how the buildings slightly “sway” in high winds and are connected to each other via various mechanism down in the infrastructures sub-basements. I’ll never forget how I witnessed this phenomenon while working on the very high floors, and you could literally feel the “sway,” then hear the “cracking” of the infrastructure – moving, pivoting during high winds. My instant mental note was, should I ever obtain a “full-time job” any one of these towers, I’d most certainly have kept a compact parachute beneath my desk, on the ready.Shame I didn’t promote that notion.

Another factor I had to come to terms with while working at WTC, was that descending from the upper floors to the ground floor in an elevator, took some time.Descending from the 86th floor required taking one elevator to the 42nd floor, where the cafeteria was, then crossing over to another - an express ride to the ground floor.Then there were one or two escalators and finally, you were at street level and the tall circular glass revolving exit doors.In all, it took approximately 18 to 25 minutes, possibly more depending on the time of day, security line, and so forth. Security after the ’93 bombings was not forgiving. So in total, if I were to want to go outside to have a cigarette, it could well take me approximately 40 minutes to an hour, round-trip.Realizing that that amount of time loss wouldn’t be feasible for steady work, I researched the situation and its alternatives. Soon after, someone suggested an alternative I might give a try.

Via stairway, I began to explore various floors beneath my office on the 86th, to the 85, 84, 83 and so forth. What I found surprised me. Many of the alternating floors below the one I worked, were complete “raw” open commercial space areas, stripped to the structural beams of the building infrastructure – walls of wires, ventilation systems exposed and no ceilings.I walked further on one of the floors, to the window and looked down. It was very impressive, breath taking.Yet that view, and for me at that moment, my parachute back up plans were fortified, should the “right” employment options be on the table.I then noticed something odd about the cement floor. Cigarette butts were littered everywhere.What’s more, as I was en-route to leave my newly found space, I was greeted by two other employees walking in. Suddenly, Bics were clicking and my break timeline crisis case resolved.

Another fascination to me then was how at street level, with one’s body flush to the very side of one of the towers, you could look up the “straight line” of aluminum structural siding that went perfectly straight, all the way to the very top. Then too, I wondered how if this magnificent structure were to be “decommissioned,” plans for it to be taken down and demolished for another building, the sheer structural engineering genius such a feat would require. I just couldn’t imagine how they could do it.

In 2002, I was working for a law firm directly across the street from where the 9/11 massacre took place. Employees there had witnessed all of the events that unfolded that fateful day. Surprisingly, one of the clients of this law firm was none other than Larry Silverstein. Silverstein was the managing agent for all the commercial properties of the WTC towers. In fact, Silverstein’s son, a law student and aspiring lawyer then, was working at the firm. We became acquainted and spoke often.

In chatting, he mentioned to me that another “law firm” that personally represented his father, had been slated to move into one of the WTC towers some months before 9/11, but stalled in doing so for months, followed by their deciding to put their move off “indefinitely” for certain reasons not clear.It was common knowledge to many then, and for me personally given my proximity to the PA and the 1993 SDNY terrorist case, that trial transcripts and testimony of the suspects on trial did mention “they were going to come back,” and “ultimately” finish their job - consummate the “Jihad.”

More interestingly, I came to learn that after the ’93 bombings, lease and occupancy demands in the WTC dropped precipitously.It was mentioned that Silverstein was offering lease deals that otherwise, anywhere else would have been quite attractive, if not unheard of. WTC management was offering 20-year leases to prospective tenants, with the option of the first 10 years completely free, and their first month rent payment would not come due until year 11, else perhaps they paid during the first 10 years, and years 11 – 20 were free. I can’t be sure. Yet, what a deal. One would think. Yet nothing worked for Silverstein. It’s been suggested those buildings at the most, were only 50 percent occupied.


I’d always thought the amalgamation of these events worth revisiting, the relevance of connecting the dots, but first and foremost now - the 50-year remembrance and celebration anniversary of our father’s service to us kids and our family. That combined with the crazy coincidence of apartment 9K, and the juxtaposed days of a month that impacted so many “strangers,” family, far and wide with a common sympathy and interest.

That our “Philodendron” lives on to this day, 50 years later, I believe is a testament to “something,” hard to describe.A sign of “hope” that, perhaps, “We (All) Shall Overcome” someday, whatever one’s circumstances might be that they are facing.

John Michael Pendley ©2018

JMP is a free-lance writer, singer-songwriter
pdf link

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Buy A Book. By Chance?

Buy A Book.  By Chance?
Justin Pense (2018)

Who would ever write a story about buying a book.  I suppose it may be the result of some book buggy willy kind of illness or fever one gets after they read a few pages they really like. But I didn’t really know how much the book may come to bite me curiosity wise, early on, to bring on such a measurable reaction or symptom.

So I presume this is a story about buying the book, or the fact that I did or didn’t buy it at first, but how I ended up buying it in the end.

Firstly, I found the book, the suspect, or perp as one might put it, inconspicuous.  It didn’t present any harm to my person, thus far, not visibly yet, and had been fairly passive and static. Not moving.  It doesn’t talk too much, look at me the wrong way, make unpleasant smells or walk too hard across hardwood floors.  So far as I can tell, the book seems pretty tamed and human-like. And that’s ok.

When first observed, evidenced, it was some sort of “pick.”  Not that anyone told me that, or as if a conspirator may have steered me over by it to investigate or peruse. I passed it on the alleged shelf and noticed it.  It was among several others in a line up of about three or four. None of them looked alike and all quite different in size, posture, weight and face color, or rather “covers” for that matter.  All sitting carefree under and next to a square sign, saying, “Librarian’s Choice.”  I didn’t see the librarian on the premises, at that particular time. I did see several attendants and clerks that may have been, or looked like a librarian, but no one officially representing themselves as the librarian – proper.     

I did take a moment to pick up this alleged suspect and began reading about various paragraphs and chapters hastily, hoping the official librarian might not show up and interrogate me on my interest with the suspect I was holding, unofficially, without authorization. Several of the alleged paragraphs and chapters did spark my interest, and zeal, which pleased my interest handsomely and I committed to provide bail for this unlikely suspect for leave of that shelf and those other characters underneath the mentioned sign.

I greatly appreciated the writer’s vast interest and presented examples in the first chapter about Brahms, and Brahms lullaby.  He substantially researched this alleged 1868 tune and the phenomena of how it filtered out into the cosmos and sprinkled its way into so many unsuspecting ears who eventually passed it down to their ancestors, generation to generation, into many a young infant’s conscience and memory banks. 

Familiarity and the genius of repetition, and variations upon themes of those repetitions and how the whole alleged “incest” factor of familiarity goes, does seem to have some mystical and navigational ways, pass, into the conscience of the unsuspecting public and mind; hence - the MAYA effect (“Most Advanced Yet Acceptable”, Raymond Loewy, 1893–1986).

My ear and curiosity were most certainly taken hostage, without opposition or argument, and I read on with sustained enthusiasm as I paged through the first 4 chapters of Derek Thompson’s  Hit MakersThe Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction, Penguin Press. I knew instantly there was something suspect and familiar about what this gentleman was writing about.

Unfortunately, I was slightly stressed with the last minute timeline to get out of dodge, posy and all, and head off to a teaching assignment in a very “unfamiliar” distant land, China. Where I would, unpredictably, spend seven weeks.

But now I had to return to the aforementioned original crime scene whereby the “Librarian’s Choice” sign was and noticed none of the previous suspects present.  A variety of different suspects were then, situated beneath that big white and naked “Librarian’s Choice” sign. It truly was a sight to see!

“Hit Makers” did bug me enough in ear and mind, that I decided the day before my departure at JFK, I would go downtown and find the book to purchase it.  I had numerous stops along the way, but tried Barnes and Nobles on 86th Street but too long a line there, no different than two other stores I passed before heading downtown to Union Square B&N. Even there I had no luck finding my item of interest. I then decided to walk further down Broadway to Strands at 12th & Broadway.

Now if any of you have ever been to Strand Books on Bway, it’s an experience – a getaway, a memory, a get lost and lose yourself kind of place if you like literature, books, people who like books, people who think they like books and want you to think they like books – but are indiscriminately hanging out to.. ?  It’s a moment.  So like me I get lost in the basement floors and start pacing the aisles of countless handsome book covers, looking for old songbook publications, bought of few, “Grateful Dead Greatest Hits” 1972, but couldn’t find the one I really wanted. Finally, I asked the clerk to look up my suspect’s cell block.  She leads me down a few stacks, turns right, third shelf up on the right and boom. There it is. Marked down to 60% retail and I was done.  I hung out a little longer, enjoyed the milieu then headed back up town. I had to pack for my departure.   

Few weeks later.
Since returning from China some weeks ago, I pulled out my now unsual suspect and finally sat down to finish the last few chapters. I knew I had to finish this case, given my studies in music history.

What happened next couldn’t have shocked my conscience even more than when I first suspected this unusual suspect, on the shelf, among those others.

When I reached the end of chapter 11 of the book, I knew something was about to happen.  Something was about to break, finally!  It was after that chapter that I sort of collected myself and reached the point, the direct evidence that I needed, to complete my case.  Right there before my very own eyes, “Interlude: 828 Broadway.”

So said it was there, supposed writer Derek Thompson claims in his book, to have had the premonition, let along wherewithal, albeit inclination, to investigate the shingle and location of the alleged company on the 4th floor, called “Chartbeat.”  Now, Chartbeat is a slightly large digital information company that provides “surveillance,” ; ) , ok - monitoring of readership AND metrics of digital content while it’s being  “observed,” or read of course, in real time around the world, and particularly for alleged company “The Atlantic” website. Our author of interest in this case, Mr. Thompson is employed by “The Atlantic.”

But what is more, was the direct evidence that “828 Broadway” brought to this case to a head and close. “828 Broadway” was the home to Strand Books on the ground floor, and the entire corner of 12th Street and Broadway; a slightly popular corner to numerous suspicious looking, possible fake, if not avid readers. The exact same location where this investigator bought said traveling copy of subject book, hardbound, to take abroad.  All the while, down there in Strand’s basement, 2 rows down, 3rd shelf up to the right, it all happens, among other places as I’ve learned. Those 4 flights down from the very staircase where writer Derek Thompson had the “epiphany” (see: Interlude) to write “Hit Makers,” after just visiting co-instigators “Chartbeat” place of business.   

Case closed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Is Facebook the "new" 4th Estate?

While FB may be on the "cutting edge" of revolutions happening abroad, off shore, one has to wonder where their interest lies, when the buck stops here? In the deep pockets or ? or highest bidder. $$ changes everything. America could be for sale, despite the cost. To think that FB or Mountain View, CA cares about you suggests too much sugar. Think again.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

CFM celebrates the genius of Walter Becker 2/20/1950 - 9/3/2017

Walter Becker, one of two vital ribs to the mastery of one of the greatest rocknroll bands, Steely Dan, in the 70's has left us. But his music and unique flare of merging genres of music styles in the most favorable, and memorable way, will live on. Thank you for your passion and work.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Liu Xiaobo - Final Statement

Liu Xiaobo
I Have No Enemies:
My Final Statement

Nobel Lecture in Absentia, December 10, 2010

Statement of December 23, 2009

(Based on a translation by J. Latourelle)

In the course of my life, for more than half a century, June 1989 was the major turning point. Up to that point, I was a member of the first class to enter university when college entrance examinations were reinstated following the Cultural Revolution (Class of ‘'77). From BA to MA and on to PhD, my academic career was all smooth sailing. Upon receiving my degrees, I stayed on to teach at Beijing NormalUniversity. As a teacher, I was well received by the students. At the same time, I was a public intellectual, writing articles and books that created quite a stir during the 1980s, frequently receiving invitations to give talks around the country, and going abroad as a visiting scholar upon invitation from Europe and America. What I demanded of myself was this: whether as a person or as a writer, I would lead a life of honesty, responsibility, and dignity. After that, because I had returned from the U.S. to take part in the 1989 Movement, I was thrown into prison for "the crime of counter‑revolutionary propaganda and incitement." I also lost my beloved lectern and could no longer publish essays or give talks in China. Merely for publishing different political views and taking part in a peaceful democracy movement, a teacher lost his lectern, a writer lost his right to publish, and a public intellectual lost the opportunity to give talks publicly. This is a tragedy, both for me personally and for a China that has already seen thirty years of Reform and Opening Up.

When I think about it, my most dramatic experiences after June Fourth have been, surprisingly, associated with courts: My two opportunities to address the public have both been provided by trial sessions at the Beijing Municipal Intermediate People's Court, once in January 1991, and again today. Although the crimes I have been charged with on the two occasions are different in name, their real substance is basically the same - both are speech crimes.

Twenty years have passed, but the ghosts of June Fourth have not yet been laid to rest. Upon release from Qincheng Prison in 1991, I, who had been led onto the path of political dissent by the psychological chains of June Fourth, lost the right to speak publicly in my own country and could only speak through the foreign media. Because of this, I was subjected to year‑round monitoring, kept under residential surveillance (May 1995 to January 1996) and sent to Reeducation‑Through‑Labor (October 1996 to October 1999). And now I have been once again shoved into the dock by the enemy mentality of the regime. But I still want to say to this regime, which is depriving me of my freedom, that I stand by the convictions I expressed in my "June Second Hunger Strike Declaration" twenty years ago ‑ I have no enemies and no hatred. None of the police who monitored, arrested, and interrogated me, none of the prosecutors who indicted me, and none of the judges who judged me are my enemies. Although there is no way I can accept your monitoring, arrests, indictments, and verdicts, I respect your professions and your integrity, including those of the two prosecutors, Zhang Rongge and Pan Xueqing, who are now bringing charges against me on behalf of the prosecution. During interrogation on December 3, I could sense your respect and your good faith.

Hatred can rot away at a person's intelligence and conscience. Enemy mentality will poison the spirit of a nation, incite cruel mortal struggles, destroy a society's tolerance and humanity, and hinder a nation's progress toward freedom and democracy. That is why I hope to be able to transcend my personal experiences as I look upon our nation's development and social change, to counter the regime's hostility with utmost goodwill, and to dispel hatred with love.

Everyone knows that it was Reform and Opening Up that brought about our country's development and social change. In my view, Reform and Opening Up began with the abandonment of the "using class struggle as guiding principle" government policy of the Mao era and, in its place, a commitment to economic development and social harmony. The process of abandoning the "philosophy of struggle" was also a process of gradual weakening of the enemy mentality and elimination of the psychology of hatred, and a process of squeezing out the "wolf's milk" that had seeped into human nature. It was this process that provided a relaxed climate, at home and abroad, for Reform and Opening Up, gentle and humane grounds for restoring mutual affection among people and peaceful coexistence among those with different interests and values, thereby providing encouragement in keeping with humanity for the bursting forth of creativity and the restoration of compassion among our countrymen. One could say that relinquishing the "anti‑imperialist and anti‑revisionist" stance in foreign relations and "class struggle" at home has been the basic premise that has enabled Reform and Opening Up to continue to this very day. The market trend in the economy, the diversification of culture, and the gradual shift in social order toward the rule of law have all benefitted from the weakening of the “enemy mentality." Even in the political arena, where progress is slowest, the weakening of the enemy mentality has led to an ever‑growing tolerance for social pluralism on the part of the regime and substantial decrease in the force of persecution of political dissidents, and the official designation of the 1989 Movement has also been changed from "turmoil and riot" to "political disturbance." The weakening of the enemy mentality has paved the way for the regime to gradually accept the universality of human rights. In [1997 and] 1998 the Chinese government made a commitment to sign two major United Nations international human rights covenants, signaling China's acceptance of universal human rights standards. In 2004, the National People's Congress (NPC) amended the Constitution, writing into the Constitution for the first time that "the state respects and guarantees human rights," signaling that human rights have already become one of the fundamental principles of China's rule of law. At the same time, the current regime puts forth the ideas of “putting people first" and "Creating a harmonious society," signaling progress in the CPC's concept of rule.

I have also been able to feel this progress on the macro level through my own personal experience since my arrest.

Although I continue to maintain that I am innocent and that the charges against me are unconstitutional, during the one plus year since I have lost my freedom, I have been locked up at two different locations and gone through four pretrial police interrogators, three prosecutors, and two judges, but in handling my case, they have not been disrespectful, overstepped time limitations, or tried to force a confession. Their manner has been moderate and reasonable; moreover, they have often shown goodwill. On June 23, I was moved from a location where I was kept under residential surveillance to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau's No. 1 Detention Center, known as "Beikan." During my six months at Beikan, I saw improvements in prison management.

In 1996, I spent time at the old Beikan (located at Banbuqiao). Compared to the old Beikan of more than a decade ago, the present Beikan is a huge improvement, both in terms of the "hard­ware" ‑ the facilities ‑ and the "software" ‑ the management. In particular, the humane management pioneered by the new Beikan, based on respect for the rights an integrity of detainees, has brought flexible management to bear on every aspect of the behavior of the correctional staff, and has found expression in the "comforting broadcasts," Repentance magazine, and music before meals, on waking and at bedtime. This style of management allows detainees to experience a sense of dignity and warmth, and stirs their consciousness in maintaining prison order and opposing the bullies among inmates. Not only has it provided a humane living environment for detainees, it has also greatly improved the environment for their litigation to take place and their state of mind. I've had close contact with correctional officer Liu Zheng, who has been in charge of me in my cell, and his respect and care for detainees could be seen in every detail of his work, permeating his every word and deed, and giving one a warm feeling. It was perhaps my good fortune to have gotten to know this sincere, honest, conscien­tious, and kind correctional officer during my time at Beikan.

It is precisely because of such convictions and personal experience that I firmly believe that China's political progress will not stop, and I, filled with optimism, look forward to the advent of a future free China. For there is no force that can put an end to the human quest for freedom, and China will in the end become.a nation ruled by law, where human rights reign supreme. I also hope that this sort of progress can be reflected in this trial as I await the impartial ruling of the collegial bench ‑ a ruling that will withstand the test of history.

If I may be permitted to say so, the most fortunate experience of these past twenty years has been the selfless love I have received from my wife, Liu Xia. She could not be present as an observer in court today, but I still want to say to you, my dear, that I firmly believe your love for me will remain the same as it has always been. Throughout all these years that I have lived without freedom, our love was full of bitterness imposed by outside circumstances, but as I savor its aftertaste, it remains boundless. I am serving my sentence in a tangible prison, while you wait in the intangible prison of the heart. Your love is the sunlight that leaps over high walls and penetrates the iron bars of my prison window, stroking every inch of my skin, warming every cell of my body, allowing me to always keep peace, openness, and brightness in my heart, and filling every minute of my time in prison with meaning. My love for you, on the other hand, is so full of remorse and regret that it at times makes me stagger under its weight. I am an insensate stone in the wilderness, whipped by fierce wind and torrential rain, so cold that no one dares touch me. But my love is solid and sharp, capable of piercing through any obstacle. Even if I were crushed into powder, I would still use my ashes to embrace you.

My dear, with your love I can calmly face my impending trial, having no regrets about the choices I've made and optimistically awaiting tomorrow. I look forward to [the day] when my country is a land with freedom of expression, where the speech of every citizen will be treated equally well; where different values, ideas, beliefs, and political views ... can both compete with each other and peacefully coexist; where both majority and minority views will be equally guaranteed, and where the political views that differ from those currently in power, in particular, will be fully respected and protected; where all political views will spread out under the sun for people to choose from, where every citizen can state political views without fear, and where no one can under any circumstances suffer political persecution for voicing divergent political views. I hope that I will be the last victim of China's endless literary inquisitions and that from now on no one will be incriminated because of speech.

Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth.

In order to exercise the right to freedom of speech conferred by the Constitution, one should fulfill the social responsibility of a Chinese citizen. There is nothing criminal in anything I have done. [But] if charges are brought against me because of this, I have no complaints.
Thank you, everyone.

Based on a translation by J. Latourelle.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

No Time To Lose

Wow. gots to give Washington Post some props on this ground work, incredible journalism in so little time. They be on the case. We live in a society now that compares none other, if not so catastrophically more, to what Churchill did with England in WWII and Roosevelt faced in the SoPac with Pearl Harbor and Kamikaze incidents that led to the necessity of Enola Gay. Thank you WP.

WP article here

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ink the Ballot!

In times past, I had a hard time conforming to the “belief” and or, legitimacy of the utility of social media. After all, during the late 80s thru the 90’s the Village Voice made good “doe joes,” $$, on “call in” dating message boards, followed by numerous back page 900 “dial a date” services ads that charged comparative doe joes - 99cents a minute to listen to “hopeful” horizons, other parties of interest.
Then, there was the fact that I don’t have any, ANY, tattoos. And given that, while I most handsomely appreciate being devoid of inksome, 4 out of 5 of most FB makers, are inksters. And that’s cool. No dis. Yet I have to wonder. How many tattoos does Mark Zuckerberg have? Meanwhile, one should hope Zuckerberg and his FB fan club can make the ink count where it really “counts” in our democracy, on the Ballot, save the skin. And really “ink,” or rock, the “Vote.”
Meanwhile, “My Man Bernie!” rocks for me.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day 2015

On Mother's Day, I never have enough time on my hands - to do, or say, how much I love you, miss you, or can thank you for so, so much. Miss you!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Playing For Change and Building Community

Great PFC article and building community.
Thanks N. Huster

PFC’s Bloomington Ambassador Starts Concert Series

by Nick Huster
I was first inspired by Playing For Change along with many people in the rest of the world when the Stand By Me video went viral. I started following the media project and fell in love when I saw that the Foundation was established and had started providing music education around the world.
read more here:

Miss American Pie – Well done…

Miss American Pie – Well done… In 2011 while contributing some time musically to the “Occupation” movement, I met many fascinating ...