Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Issa Rae is Insecure



By Fred Owens


Issa Rae created the HBO series known as Insecure. This link goes to a news story about Season 3, Episode 4, which is current.

Our housemate tipped us off about this engaging show. Issa Rae plays the main character, a 29-year-old single African-American woman living in Los Angeles, working at a non-profit, liking her job and her pals, and looking for love.

Issa is Insecure -- the title of the show. We can all relate to that. Insecurity means being self-conscious, keeping score on your wins and losses, worrying about your hair, or the style of your shoes. "Maybe people don't like me. Or they don't understand what I just said. Hell, I don't understand what I just said. How am I supposed to feel? What am I supposed to think? I guess I'll have a drink. I ain't that girl from Pretty in Pink."

Insecurity strikes most people at age 15, and gives you that stuttering gaze where you keep rubbing your head, and it lasts until age 35 when you realize that nobody cares, and nobody is keeping score, and some people like you and some people don't. Period. It's over.

A lot of people get married and have children at age 35. That is a solid cure for insecurity. You get a spouse and a squalling baby in diapers -- you are too tired and too busy to feel insecure. Insecurity is a small luxury that most of us can afford, like a triple grande latte.

In the first season of Insecure Issa lives with her boyfriend Lawrence. Issa goes to work every day, but Lawrence sits around the house in his sweat pants waiting for the phone to ring.

You know the phone is never going to ring for Lawrence. Issa knows that too because she's a realist. "You may have to take a job a notch lower than you already had," she tells him.

Lawrence hears that. He goes Man Up and takes a small-wage sales job at Best Buy. That's doing the right thing, in my book.

You see, the men in Issa's life are not losers and toxic abusers. Not hopeless causes, but like men really are which is to say "in good condition but needs work."

Then Issa  goes looking for what she already has, and she does something very stupid. She has a one-night fling with her old ex-boyfriend and Lawrence finds out and walks out of her life. Stupid. Major Stupid.

What I like about Issa Rae as an actor is that she doesn't try to sell it. She doesn't over-act. She's happy when it's fun, and angry when it's bad, and she can be major stupid if that's what's going on. Not a Drama Queen.

The young woman who told me about the show said it was the story of her life. Reality can be painful, but sometimes it's just funny.

We like this show. All the characters and all the Los Angeles neighborhoods are African-American, so you get an education in culture and language if, like me, you're 72 and you live in Santa Barbara.

The rap music in the background goes right over my head. I just don't get it. Well, I get some of it. But I don't try to get it, because if you try to get it, you won't get it. Better to just let it come to you as it does.

Meanwhile

Meanwhile Pope Francis is in a lot of trouble and the Supreme Court hearings are underway in Congress.  The news is full of breakdowns and tragedies. The old saying is "Heads will roll."  But we have progressed as a society because in centuries past courtiers who fell from favor were executed -- heads actually did roll --  now the losers get a book deal and a spot on MSNBC or Fox.

I wish, more than anything, that Donald Trump was not in the White House. I can put some substance behind that vacuous statement, but I am through writing for today.

The days are getting shorter. Here in Santa Barbara we see a lot of dried leaves on the ground, more from dry weather than from the approach of autumn. We are harvesting apples from the tree in the backyard and making apple sauce.

Nice talking to you,

Fred







--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

To Get My Fair Share of Abuse


To Get My Fair Share of Abuse

By Fred Owens

I have a story to tell about how I went to a wedding in Chicago in 1968, just a week before the infamous Democratic Convention and Police Riot.

It was the wedding of Mary B Mueller and Peter Ahr -- two classmates of mine at St. Michael's College. What made that day special to me was the arrival of Mayor Richard Daley as an honored guest because Daley was the cousin of Mary B's mother.

His black limousine was parked right outside the church. He greeted one and all, being careful not to stay too long and upstage the bridal couple. I enjoyed a brief conversation with the Mayor, and then off he went, speeding in his motorcade.

That's the kind of mayor he was -- going to weddings and funerals, and giving that hands-on neighborhood family feeling.

I was disarmed by his warmth. I decided not to go to the demonstrations at the Democratic convention the following week. I knew the Yippies were going to challenge the cops and pick a fight. I thought picking a fight with the Chicago cops was about the dumbest thing you could do. There were better ways to protest the war beside getting your head smacked with a club.

Anyway, I stayed home and watched the cops club the Yippies on TV. Well, they were looking for a fight and they got one.

My brother Tom went downtown for the demonstrations and he said that the cops might have distinguished between the peaceful demonstrators and the ones causing violence. He said the cops just waded into the crowd with clubs and they didn't need to do that. My answer to him -- and we still disagree fifty years later -- is that if you're standing next to the guy who is calling the cop a pig, then maybe you should go someplace else.

I remembered how the Chicago cops protected  Martin Luther King and the civil rights marchers in 1966. I was in those marches and the cops protected us from a violent racist mob. The civil rights marchers behaved lawfully and the cops protected them. That was the way to do it. I had no quarrel with those policemen.

I did not go to the demonstration in Chicago in 1968. The following year I did not go to Woodstock -- too many people.

Last Week of Summer

The weather on the West Coast has been too interesting. Fire and Flood. Flood and Fire. Hot days and sultry nights. It has been cooler this past week so we are relieved in Santa Barbara. But September looms and that month can be hottest of all....

Such a dreadful vision of climate catastrophe, but we are resourceful and determined people and we will get thorough this.

John McCain dies.

I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but I always thought John McCain was a decent fellow and might have served as President.

From the Department of Getting Right to the Point

Mabel Rye, age 97, lives across the street from us. I often take her grocery shopping. Yesterday I picked her up. As I helped her into the car we had this conversation.

Good morning, Mabel.
"Good morning, Fred"
How are you feeling today?
"Old."
What's that like?
"It's kind of hard to describe."
Well, I guess I'll find out.

take care and happy last week of summer,

Fred


--

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Do the Right Thing


By Fred Owens

This is a variant on the theme of summer vacation. This one is about the Worst Summer Job I Ever Had.

In the summer of 1965, I came home from the excitement of freshman year at St. Michael's College to the crashing boredom of suburban Chicago. My Dad said not to worry, I have work for you. My folks published a fishing magazine. It was a cool business and they made a good living. Dad worked at the office about ten minutes walking from the house. He did the publishing and editorial chores. Mom worked at a desk on the back porch and kept the books. We Owens children got drafted into various chores. They didn't have to spell it out -- "You get to eat, you get to live, and you get to go to college, so here's the job."

Circulation work. The mailing list. 12,000 names and addresses in a stack of binders over a foot high. In 1965 the Post Office decided that you had to have a zip code on every address or you would lose your second-class mailing permit. So they handed me the zip code directory which weighed about ten pounds. I started with Abbot and Anderson, one address at a time. Look it up in the directory, write it down on the binder. Look up the next address. I think it took me more than six weeks to finish. Boring? This was the dark underbelly of a family business.

But necessary. Dad said never argue with the Post Office, you don't have a choice.

Actually, since that summer of 1965 I have had other boring jobs. It happens. You get used to it after a while.

Do the Right Thing

The title of Spike Lee's 1989 masterpiece is actually a question. What is the Right Thing?  This is a profound moral question that we all face.

I need to see it again. There was Mookie the first time and he was right. Then Mookie the second time and he was wrong. Now I'm ready for Mookie the third time..... It's a pretty good movie that keeps you wondering whether Mookie was right or wrong.

Why Read Moby Dick

Why Read Moby Dick is a slim volume written by Nathaniel Philbrick. He has read the novel 12 times. I have read it twice. We both love it. The book answers the question, but I have not needed any encouragement. Like those long so-called divergent chapters about whaling technology  -- they're the best part of the book. And so politically not correct. This book is about killing whales. We don't do that anymore.

California Senator Kamala Harris for President in 2020

Harris might run. We'll get a decision from her after the November election. One friend told me Harris had little experience since being elected to the Senate only two years ago. But she was Attorney General of California for six years. That's a tough job.

I hope she runs. She has the grit and the stamina. She has the smile and the laugh. Not the charisma, but she engages well with a crowd. She can work a rope line and give a good speech. Women will vote for her because she's a woman. Men will vote for her because she's good-looking. Young people will vote for her because she's only 53.

She speaks for Dreamers and immigrant families. Her career is not touched with scandal. She can win against Trump. She will not scare away the moderate Republicans who don't want to give Trump another chance.

She grew up in Oakland, attended Howard University and then law school. Her parents are both immigrants -- father from Jamaica, mother from India. She is married with step children. She had an affair some years ago with Willie Brown who was married at the time  -- imagine how her life will be examined for stories like this if she runs for president.

Kamala Harris is well-known and liked in California. Let's see how she does when she visits Ohio and Pennsylvania.




--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital


Sunday, August 12, 2018

BlackkKlansman


By Fred Owens

Saturday and the beach was crowded, so we went to the afternoon movie, choosing BlackkKlansman.

I like Spike Lee's work, especially Do the Right Thing. You can interpret that 1989 film several different ways.

So it is with this new film, based on a true story, about how a black police detective infiltrated a Ku Klux Klan outfit in Colorado Springs in the 1970s.

I thought to myself that I have never met a genuine Klansman, but then I thought maybe I have. Maybe, when I was hitching rides around the country, and the guy picked me up, he seemed friendly enough, he sounded me out on various topics of conversation as we loafed along the highway at high speed -- maybe that guy was in the Klan. I mean, how would I know? It's not like he would tell me.

I never met Stokely Carmichael either. He was a true-to-life firebrand. He got a lot of press in those years -- Black Power! His speech before the black student union in Colorado Springs is a high point of the movie. I did meet Jesse Jackson back in 1966, and saw him daily for several weeks in the basement of the Mount Olive Baptist Church on the south side of Chicago. Jackson wore a big Afro back then, like the Ron Stallworth character has in the current film.

You should go see this movie. It is a compelling film. It's not a documentary. but far from a work of fiction. Spike Lee doesn't make things up, he records what he sees and tells what he knows and does not qualify his language. Spike Lee lays it on pretty thick.

Not a small thing, but the sound track is wonderful. Plus there are a few scenes that are played for laughs. It's a more powerful drama that inserts a bit of humor, like the comic interludes in a tragedy by Shakespeare.

Almost the last scene is a re-enactment of the KKK burning cross ceremony -- a powerful image and most terrifying. Is it a real cross? Are those real flames and real Klansman in real robes? Who lit that fire?

Spike Lee closes the film with footage of last year's white nationalist march in Charlottesville. That was a one hundred percent real. And who lit that fire?



--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital


Monday, August 06, 2018

California Senator Kamala Harris for President in 2020


By Fred Owens

California is burning. Horrific fires are spreading across northern California, and it's hot everywhere. More than a thousand homes are destroyed in Redding. Yosemite Park is closed. Fire crews are stretched thin and exhausted. It seems unbearable, but they will get through this somehow.

That's in northern California. Down here in Santa Barbara it's just hot and we can't complain.

California Senator Kamala Harris for President in 2020

California Senator Kamala Harris might make a good President. If she runs in 2020 she could beat Trump.

I would like the next President to speak for all Americans and be someone we can all live with. Maybe she is that person.

I'm doing a little research on Harris. We like her a lot in California, but I need to hear from some friends in Ohio and Michigan to see how she does in the heartland.

She's 53, in her first term as Senator, formerly California Attorney General, a graduate of Howard University, has a husband but no children.

She embraces identity politics

"Harris’ remarks follow criticism — including from some within the Democratic Party — that a full-throated embrace of racial, ethnic and gender issues could distract from a broader Democratic platform."

Quoted from Politico but that registers with me. I don't understand identity issues and prefer to avoid them. I try to go after issues without the dimension of race and gender.

I support reproductive freedom, a $15 minimum wage, a reduction in student loan debt, and Medicare for all residents of our country. That seems uncomplicated to me.

I don't have to agree with Harris on where the emphasis should be on identity, but I can help her get votes from crusty old white men like me.

Let's talk about unimportant things, like her name. It has a good sound, it rolls off the tongue. Ka-ma-la. If you met someone named Kamala you would start to like her right away. And her last name, Harris, is common and easy to remember.

She has a husband, Douglas Emhoff, who is a lawyer. They got married four years ago. Does he fit the bill for First Gentlemen? I don't want to hear about any trouble or anything "interesting."  I want an unremarkable, affectionate marital team in the White House. She will be President. He will have his own occupation  -- one hopes.

For President I want someone who is likable and not quick to anger, who wins friends easily and enjoys the crowd, who feels at home in Missouri or Colorado, who works hard, but not too hard, who fights like hell, but would rather not, who can cut a deal when deals can be cut, who can make a joke on herself now and then, and who can give a speech that will stir the blood of the nation.

Finally, thinking about Kamala Harris in 2020 gives me hope.There is life after Trump. There is a good future ahead.

And we say goodbye here, marching out the door to the old Democrats' tune, Happy Days Are Here Again.

stay cool if you can,

Fred





--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital


Sunday, July 29, 2018

California is on fire.


By Fred Owens

California is on fire.  The latest news said the Redding fire had torched 89,000 acres and was five percent contained. At least five are dead, many more missing and 500 structures burned. When they say structure they mean including barns and garages and stores, but you now it's mostly homes that were destroyed by the flames.

The Redding fire is the biggest of almost a dozen fires in the state. Crews are getting overworked and tired. Resources are thinly stretched. All eyes are on the weather, which is expected to continue hot into three digits.

None of this is near us in Santa Barbara. A light smoke was in the air Friday night from a one-acre blaze three miles from our house. It is reported to be contained this morning. And there is no smoky smell.

You think it was just a one-acre blaze, but all the big fires start out with just one-acre -- just one spark. You look around your property and you don't see trees and shrubbery, you see fuel. The fire loves fuel, the fire leaps the Sacramento River and leaps the freeway on the wind, racing toward more fuel, and so much of what we have and where we live can catch fire.

This is California this summer. We don't over worry. We might keep an eye to what we might throw into the car if we had to leave, but otherwise we -- like yesterday, we walked down to the harbor and out to the breakwater to watch the sailboats racing and the seals splashing and the pelicans cruising.

Every Saturday at 2 p.m. the Santa Barbara Ukelele Club gathers under the coral  trees by the Harbormaster's office, gathers on the lawn in a circle, 25 players with their ukes playing Sloop John B and other old tunes. We sat on the grass and listened for a half hour.

Sunday, this morning, we had avocado omelettes. Anita gave us three giant avos from her backyard tree and they got ripe and it was time for omelettes. This is what keeps us strong and keeps us hopeful while the fires are raging.

And we banned plastic straws in Santa Barbara. You can laugh all you want..... but when you come to visit our beautiful city, you can bring your own straws, or you can ask for one at the counter, or just sip straight from the cup.... Yes, the joke is on us, but you still won't get a straw. Plastic straws, banned or not, might seem trivial while the fires are burning. Maybe the ways and means of California folks seem frivolous. Think what you will.  When we have a problem, we grab a towel and head for the beach -- we find our strength that way.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend,

Fred

--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital


Thursday, July 19, 2018

I threw a jar of grape jelly out the window


By Fred Owens

I wrote these stories for my classmates. They give off the air of innocence and times of long ago -- the Sixties.

We didn't worry about paying off our student loans, but we did worry about getting killed in Vietnam. Fear of getting drafted added a personal motive to the late night discussions of those days.

I was 19, a sophomore in college in 1966. I was in a state of sheer exuberance, which is what got me through stunts like this. Plus I read many, many books and kept in good academic standing. I could give details to this incident, like I could tell you about Tom, my roommate, and what school we were at, stuff like that, but I think I like this very short version of the event.

I threw the jar of grape jelly out the window.

Tom cooked pork chops and made the best mashed potatoes. We ate off of aluminum plates, which we had bought figuring to keep them until they wore out. Heck, they lasted all year. The handle was off the refrigerator, so you had to pry it open with a knife. And when you got the door open, a jar would inevitably roll off the shelf and bounce on the floor, because the floor underneath the refrigerator was tilted. Boy, that was annoying.

One late night I came weaving home, and opened the frig door for a snack. The grape jelly jar came rolling on to the floor, and I was pissed. I picked it up and heaved it with all my might out an open window and on to Church Street. Unfortunately, it splattered and broke on the windshield of a car. I had the presence of mind to quickly turn off the lights and watch, as the driver got out of his car. I noticed his stunned and perplexed expression as he turned and looked up at my darkened window. Then he drove off, and twenty minutes later one of Metro’s finest, all starched and ironed, very large but also very polite, came knocking on my door.

“Did you throw a jar of jelly out the window?” he asked, or words to that effect. I, a master of undergraduate insouciance, had begun to see the humor of the situation -- Toronto cops were such pussycats. I mustered up my most serious intellectual expression and said with feigned amazement, “What! That’s the craziest thing I ever heard of. Why do you wake me in the middle of the night? This is really ridiculous.”

The cop quickly realized he had more important matters to attend to, as I rather abruptly closed the door in his face and laughed myself silly.

So much for college hijinks. The thing about college, at least for me, is that I simply had too much fun. I did not suffer. Do you need to suffer to make a good story? Where is the anguish and pain? Not here, not in these tales.

These are prime summer days. Time for lazy days at the beach. I work mornings for various garden customers, but afternoons can find me stretched out on the sand with an umbrella overhead to keep out the strongest sun. I like the water at 65 degrees or warmer. I like to paddle around in it and just float. I love the sound of the waves and I watch for dolphins out past the surf......And pelicans, I love the way they fly.

For beach reading I have $3 paperbacks from the used book store -- Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling and a collection of short stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Thanks for staying with me.

Fred


--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital