26th & 27th September, 2005
Rod in Concert
Holland, December 2005!
San Sebastian Strings
albums now available on CD! Order
Photo by Edward McKuen 9/24/2005
A Thought for Today
Todayís Project: Learn how to stay out of
your own way.
TO BEGIN WITH
This past week has been busy, hectic and productive. Iím working on half
a dozen albums (compact discs) at once. New recordings, supervising the
restoration of past analog masters that are about to make their way to
CD, completing new songs and juggling the usual tasks and complications
This afternoon (Sunday) I gave a eulogy and sang a song at the memorial
service for a dear friend and colleague of fifty years, the talented
songwriter, producer and teacher Richard Loring. I hope to write more
about Richard in a coming Flight Plan.
Ask Rod usually appears in this space at the start of each week but it
takes about a day to write so there wasnít sufficient time to deal with
it today. No sleep last night so when I post this to Webmaster Ken I
hope to Ďkonk outí for five or six hours and be ready for a very special
Monday Evening. Iím going with a group of friends to watch the taping of
an upcoming ďEllen Show.Ē Her mom, Betty, is a personal hero of mine and
Iím looking forward to finally meeting her sister ĎAunt Helení who lost
her home and everything in the carnage of Hurricane Katrina.
Midnight or so Iíll pull tapes for the Tuesday and Wednesday
pre-mastering sessions at Penguin Recorders in Eagle Rock.
Thursday itís up to the mountain and Dos Vidas. Friday and Saturday more
recording and Sunday (fingers crossed) I can get back to the mail.
More letters about changing the photo on the masthead so Edward cornered
KubbyKat, Too and me for a single snap yesterday. For what itís worth
that effort made its debut today.
The trees at Dos Vidas (in addition to the Oak, Pine and Cypress)
include Maple in the midst of color changes and Edward wants to get some
fall shots. If we really do get away on Thursday maybe weíll come back
with pictures that more accurately mirror the autumn we are supposed to
be going through.
WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR
The landscape glitters and is littered with second guesses,
recriminations, what ifs Ė and alas, real live death and destruction Ė
involving the not so comely ladies Katrina and Rita. At this time I call
on Bellingham, my buddy and our Editor at Large, to add his thoughts to
recent events. With tongue not too firmly planted in cheek he dispatched
THE PRESIDENTS ANALYST
By Bruce Bellingham
Those who recall the Loma Prieta earthquake, which happened sixteen
years ago this October, might also remember how FEMA became a
four-letter word in San Francisco's Marina District back in 1989. No one
was happy with the slow response from the feds then -- and it seems to
be true today in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
These catastrophes always seem to overwhelm government agencies. The
hurricane certainly engulfed former FEMA director Michael Brown, whom
President Bush endearingly named "Brownie." That was just before Brownie
was washed out of his job with the storm surge. The phrase, "Brownie,
you're doing a heck of a job," will stick to Bush as will "Mission
accomplished!" when he emphatically declared victory in the war in Iraq
a couple of years ago.
Leadership during a crisis is often more style than substance. Mr. Bush
has neither. In the hours following the 9/11 attack, Rudy Guiliani was
asked how many lives might be lost in the collapse of the Twin Towers.
What could he possibly say? "It is more than we can bear," he stated
simply, grimly. With those words, the hearts of the world went out to
him, the city of New York and the entire country.
Guiliani didn't have time to wait for a speechwriter. At the same time,
when informed of the 9/11 attack, the president seemed stunned. He was
speechless for a few minutes before being spirited away by the Secret
Service. It looked like he was grasping for something to say. What was
going through his head? "Well, what do you know?" Or "How about that?"
Bush does well in controlled, well-managed, staged presentations. Such
as appearing before friendly folks in a flight suit, aboard an aircraft
carrier, declaring victory, flags flapping in the breeze, a marching
band behind him. Under the circumstances, it was a perverse show of
pageantry. It would have been a nice touch if Bush blew the smoke away
from the barrels of a couple of six-shooters before holstering them. I'm
sure the moment made his mom proud. It sure showed his father who's the
boss. After all, George H. W. didn't send Saddam hightailing it out of
Dodge, formerly known as Baghdad. The kid had to finish the job. But now
we're beginning to see why Bush Sr. chose not to invade the Iraqi
Welcome to the bottomless pit that other empires have stumbled into over
the centuries. Here comes that word again: quagmire. When John Kennedy
went to Walter Reade to visit a dying Douglas MacArthur, the old general
warned him, "Don't get involved in a Southeast Asian war." And here
comes that word that tragedians and historians also like: hubris. If
Jack Kennedy was the restless, reckless Pyrrhus of ancient Greece, then
George Bush the Younger is Oedipus.
And now the fun part -- the cheap, sophomoric psychology in which I like
to dabble. Remember. I don't report rumors in this column. I just make
them up. With all reasonable-sounding dissertations, I call on a source.
He's Dr. Cosmo Sostenuto, who has been studying the case of George W.
Bush. I understood that Dr. Sostenuto has been associated with the
Langley-Porter psychiatric institute. Later I learned Cosmo was really
the night porter at the Hotel Langley in the Tenderloin. A small
misunderstanding on my part, but, all the same, it means Dr. Sostenuto
has had lots of time to read.
"The invasion of Iraq was clearly an Oedipal gesture that was meant to
emasculate the father," Sostenuto asserts. "George W. has never called
on his old man for advice on global strategies. He would rather just arm
wrestle him." And what about Bush the Elderís role, along with Bill
Clinton, in the post-Katrina debacle? George W. apparently wanted his
father and Clinton to appear on television appealing for disaster relief
donations while holding mops and buckets in order to humiliate them.
George's mom, Barbara, nixed the idea, saying it was a little too much.
"I'll do the humiliating around here," the matriarch announced.
When refugees from New Orleans crowded into the Astrodome, Barbara Bush
observed, "This must be a step up for them." George W. clearly has
inherited his mother's sensitivity. Bush family friends who attend the
more intimate dinners at the White House on holidays say the experience
is unnerving. "The president likes to flick his mashed potatoes off his
fork at his father while at the table," says Dr. Sostenuto. "Like every
good dysfunctional family, no one appears to notice, even if the older
Bush is splattered with spuds." On one occasion, the president assailed
the First Lady with, "How come you can't cook like my mother?"
"Now George," Laura said solicitously, "you know that I'd have the chef
prepare anything you'd like." "That's what I mean," the president
snarled. "I'll bet you can't even make apple pan dowdy." "George," Laura
replied, patting his hand, "you don't even know what apple pan dowdy
is." "Well, I'll bet my mother does!" Barbara smiled sweetly.
Laura surely knows what apple pan dowdy is. After all, she was a
librarian. But she decided to let the issue go. "Get Brownie on the
phone!" President Bush the Younger shouted to no one in particular.
"Tell him to get everybody in the Astrodome some apple pan dowdy."
Alas Brownie was not available. He'd already left D. C. to see if he
could get his old job back at the International Arabian Horse
Association. To him, wild horses suddenly looked a whole lot tamer.
Bruce Bellingham, author of "Bellingham by the Bay," is currently
working on a coloring book about intelligent design. His e-mail is
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