We Are All Racist

July 3, 2015

President Barack Obama gave a highly charged eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, who was one of nine people shot by a white supremacist in Charleston. He called out our racism directly.

But there is only so much even a President can do. Ultimately it is up to each and every one of us to admit that we are racist and set out to change. Most white Americans are racist by indifference. Indifference that is fed by media. We live in our white bubble which is strongly maintained. It is up to us individually to make those incremental steps in our own behavior which will add up to genuine progress. Add some local leadership for leverage and change could be faster. There are other causes that did this. Who would of thought gay marriage would be a right as recently as fifteen years ago? I hope I am not underestimating the scope of the change that is needed but we do have to start somewhere.

So I will start by confessing as I have already done before elsewhere that I am racist and I will continue to be racist for some time. It is my learned response. I was taught it at an early age, and constant reminders from radio, TV and movies reinforced it over time. It is very hard to deprogram; but not impossible. I am your average white male racist. I don’t wave a confederate flag, I don’t attend KKK meetings, I am not a member of any racist organization, I don’t read white supremacy news sheets, I don’t do any number of direct racist actions. But my indifference is high, and it feeds the total corrosive indifference of the country. My indifference together with that of millions of others forms the atmosphere where other more virulent and repulsive actors operate.  So I am a racist. Not perhaps by intention, but by default, by habit. I am determined to change.

Removing the confederate flag from a state building however laudable is not the massive (and I really mean massive) enema needed in the American psyche to bring everyone to the same place. A place known as true equality. Don’t expect the republican party to take this on (that’s laughable) and the democratic party will only sort of sidle up to a mild laxative. Nope, it takes the people to decide that racism is always evil, always.

And yes I confess, I have been racist, and will probably continue to be racist, but I acknowledge it as a learned behavioral defect that I am trying to correct. I believe it can be done. We can all help each other to our own personal cleansing enema. And if humor can help..let the jokes begin…

…and listen to The Terry & Sterry Show on XRayFM this Thursday at Noon for more commentary. Streaming at www.xray.fm and broadcast at 107.1 and 91.1 FM.  Terry D. Kester and I use humor to deal with the serious subjects and vice versa.

Love image

My lovely lady, Anne-Louise, has recorded a demo  of her new song, If I Had Loved You More. You can see and listen to it here at this  LINK . If it does not make you cry or come close, let me know. 

A few weeks, maybe a month, I wrote a short poem that sprang from a phrase that came into my head from out of nowhere. “Park Me Down By The Ocean”. As I wrote it the vision of a disabled veteran in wheelchair formed in my mind. Someone struggling to find peace. A singer songwriter friend, Suzan Lundy, asked if she could write music for it. A while later at regular artists gathering to which I belong she sang the poem, with a few changes, to her music. You can hear it at this LINK

And here is the very simple original poem…

Park Me Down By The Ocean

Park me down by the ocean
Sit me down by the sea
Salt air on my face
It’s where I have to be

Raise me up on the mountain
Lift me up in the sky
Cold winds on my face
Make my spirit fly

Leave me out in an open field
Set me on the grass
The humming of the bees
May bring me peace at last

Take me away from things I fear
From dark and heedless noise
From all the crazy foolishness
That destroys the hope of joy

Park me down by the ocean
Sit me down by the sea
Salt air on my face
It’s where I have to be.

Ricotta Cheesecake Flan

April 14, 2015

I recently posted a picture of such a flan on my Face Book page and of course now have to publish the recipe. IMG_1424

Ricotta Cheesecake Flan

Make pastry of your choice and roll out to fit your preferred flan dish. I butter my dish lavishly to avoid sticking. I am sure there are nonstick flan cases out there. Carefully line your flan dish with the pastry and trim excess. If you can, make the edge of the pastry stand a little proud of the flan dish edge. Make a few holes in the bottom of the pastry. Line with foil and weight the foil down with baking beans or similar heavy inert item. I use a smaller flan dish weighted down with a thick ceramic pot. Bake at 375 Deg. for 15 minutes. Maybe a little less time if you have a good convection oven.

While your flan case is baking mix vigorously the following in a bowl. These amounts will fill a nine inch flan case.

2 Cups Ricotta

½ Cup Heavy Cream

2 Eggs

1 Egg Yolk

1/3 Cup Confectionary Sugar

Finely grated rind of one Orange

Finely grated rind of one Lemon

I add 1 or 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Essence (Or Anise flavor, even Pernod!) but others do not. Other variations are to add candied peel, chocolate chips. There are hundreds of other ways to flavor and garnish the filling.

After the fifteen minute pre-bake remove the flan dish from the oven and allow to cool before pouring in the mixture.

If you are inclined use the excess pastry to make lattice strips. Finicky work to get the lattice straight but very cool looking.

Bake the filled case at 375 Deg. for 30-35 minutes or until the mix is set in the center. Cool on a rack. Decorate with thin strips of lemon and orange rind. I leave it in my garage fridge to get it nice and firm before attempting to remove the flan from the case. I have seen flan cases with removable bottoms. I think that’s cheating!

Relative Sadness

March 30, 2015

It is sad to announce that a show cannot go on. Even sadder to announce that it was because of a fire at the hosts residence. The show ‘At The Vineyard’ with partner Anne-Louise was set for March 21st. We had even rehearsed, and were getting close to what we thought would be a great show. We were very disappointed.

But our disappointment cannot compare to the sadness our hosts, Chris and Susi Carlberg must feel at having lost the home in which they had lived for forty years. Even though the frame of their house remains intact, the interior is destroyed and must be rebuilt.

Our show can be rescheduled and go on without so much trouble. I cannot imagine what the Carlbergs have to face every day.

And so I am rescheduling the show to take place at the Tom Cummins Hall at Saint Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church in Wilsonville. Most likely date will be May 23rd. And the show will feature the wines Chris makes at Christopher Bridge Winery.

Life goes on and we can all help each other to get past such events.

More details of the show will appear here soon!

My partner Anne-Louise and I are feverishly rehearsing for our NEW SHOW…’AT THE VINEYARD”. Just to give you a flavor of the show check out this VIDEO …it is the Official Trailer!

‘At The Vineyard’

February 20, 2015

Do you like Wine?
Do you like Music?
Do you like Comedy?

        C.B.C. tasting room

Then ‘At The Vineyard’ where Italian exuberance meets English sangfroid & understatement in a Cabaret Show of thought provoking, tear jerking, belly laughing storytelling & music with partner Anne-Louise is for you. March 21st @6.30 PM in the beautiful tasting room of Christopher Bridge Winery in the hills south of Oregon City. Sip award winning Pinot Noir or Gris and enjoy a great live show.

Tickets $20  at this LINK or email me at millenniumassoc@hotmail.com
Tickets includes one glass of wine.  Tasting flights will be available at $4 and snack plates $5.

For some years now I have had the pleasure and honor to read a selection of poetry intersecting the songs sung by ViVoce. ViVoce is the outreach ensemble of the Portland Revels. They are an a capella women’s ensemble and sing songs from around the world, two performances in winter and two in summer in concert. Directed by Bennett Bailey and Jamie Lynn Webster, and managed by Antonia Forster; who wisely chooses the poetry.

Rehearsing with Director Bennett Bailey

Rehearsing with Director Bennett Bailey

Often, my partner Anne-Louise also joins me to tell traditional stories rewritten to provide a humorous theatrical interlude. We have a great time doing this, and we are always somewhat deflated when the two concerts are over.

Until now I have not thought of a way of telling everyone involved how much I think of them and the amount of hard work they put into such a short exposure to the public. Two concerts in January and two in June.

Today, February 1st, when many Americans are glued to a panel that will sell them things they don’t need for four or five hours and call it a football game, I sat and listened to the ensemble rehearse for the second winter performance. And it came to me to write a poem. A poem for them, and about what they really do. Here it is…

Never Doubt

ViVoce!
Never underestimate what you do
Never doubt that somehow
That somehow your voices;
Striking out clearly
Striking out and beautifully reflecting
Off stone and wood;
That you voices find homes
In the minds of listeners.
We who are listening transfixed,
Made to open our hearts,
Open to a sweet, bittersweet knowing.
We listeners almost willingly frozen
Receive a gift, another chance.
A chance to open dark chambers
And let the light of your music pour in.
Whether we know it or not
We are permanently changed.
Never doubt the value of what you do.
ViVoce!

Sure, it is a little ragged and I will edit it sometime. But it is a start to thanking them for their acceptance and kindness. More about ViVoce at this LINK

Most mornings, no matter what else I eat for breakfast, I butter a large piece of baguette from Grand Central Bakery and dip it into my coffee. As I pop it into my mouth the butter is melting, mixing with the honey sweetened coffee and I am once again in Paris on the morning of August 21th 1962, my sixteenth birthday. I am sitting with Wally, a school friend, and about fifty other teenagers from many countries in the cafeteria of the Auberge Jeunesse Internationale somewhere close to the Pigalle Metro station, just down the Boulevard from Le Moulin Rouge.

The day before Wally and I had cycled from Beauvais to Paris; about fifty five miles; stage four or etape quatre on our two week bike tour of North Western France. Wally, whose real name was Alan Wallace, was not a close friend. We were in the same year at secondary school; The Skinners’ Company School for boys. He was about to focus his studying on English and Languages; I would study Sciences and Mathematics (more about this choice later). We did not ordinarily mix. The only things we had in common were a love of cycling and perhaps a curiosity about France.

No Englishman can ever be neutral about France. It is close not just geographically but emotionally. Since Wally and I both lived in Kent the only thing that separated us from France was a shallow ditch of navigable salt water twenty two miles wide called The Channel by the English and La Manche by the French. The history of our country and indeed the county of Kent where we lived were soaked in a thousand years of Anglo-French arguments, diplomatic spats, invasions, ententes, and in 1944, a rescue.

kentIn the late fifties and sixties a wave of visits and ‘exchanges’ began. Organized by language teachers on either side they sought to introduce each new edition of their youth to their opposites. It has worked very well. Nearly every town in the UK now has a ‘twin’ city in France and more recently in any number of other European countries. But in the summer of 1962 these programs were in their infancy. Wally and I were in the forefront, boldly carrying a tiny piece of teenage Englishness to France. But that is not how two fifteen year old schoolboys rationalized and planned a two week cycle tour in the winter of 1962.

Visit again soon for Episode Two…

 

 

 

 

 

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