Monthly Archives: January 2015

Remembering an Area Activist

I’ve attended some Occupy Youngstown and Frackfree Mahoning Valley events over the years. I’m sorry to say not as many as I’d have liked to. Some events are on Saturdays which many times is the worst day of the week for me to attend anything. Other times I’d like to attend events I am struggling with my arthritis. Fact is I’m making excuses and need to get my ass moving and try to be more of an activist. I really appreciate most activists and I’m glad they make up for my slack.

Here is part of a blog I wrote about attending an Occupy Youngstown event in 2011:

“Other folks I saw at Occupy Youngstown were people holding signs and waving to passing motorists, a woman in a wheelchair, a young mother pushing her baby in a stroller, people dropping off  fire wood and an occupier busy sweeping the area and tidying up things. I also saw and heard people I thought had a little too much B.S., ones who were a little flaky, ones who were a little too full of themselves, ones who were too bossy, a young girl trying to act older bugged me, and one woman annoyed me because she wanted people to keep chanting parts of things that were said. On the other hand, I am getting a little old and cranky. I’m going to scowl at you if you ask me to chant something, to sing along, to dance or tell me to smile. Who are all of the above people I’ve been talking about? They are our neighbors, our workmates, our relatives, acquaintances, our brothers and sister fellow Americans, they are us the 99%. Because the 99% includes so many people of various backgrounds we are going to have people we love, some we tolerate and some who the jury is still out on.  All together they are people who I am glad are committed to making this country better. These people at the Occupy movements are your representatives not those bought and paid for suits in Columbus or D.C. These people are disgruntled because they know as a nation we can do better and they’ve taken to the streets to point out we need to take care of Main Street not Wall Street.”

I believe one of those activist that day (unless my memory is shot) was Patti Gorcheff. I’m sad to say I believe she was either the bossy one or the one that had us chant. I believe it was the chanter, but I could be wrong. Patty just passed away the other day, so I’m willing to bet some people remember her as bossy and some as a cheerleader. Truth is I’m a bit shy and don’t go enough out of my way to meet people. I’d like to be more outgoing but as I age I’m turning into a rugged indoorsman. That means I didn’t get to know Patti very well. I noticed from interacting with her on social media that we shared many passions and causes. From the good things I’ve heard about her not getting to know her was my loss.

The real loss is losing young (I say young as she was a few years younger than me) activist like Patti. As I’ve gotten older I appreciate people’s bossiness and cheerleading. That is if they are doing it for a cause that will make that better world for my kids. With age, comes the need to be bossy and more of a cheerleader. That is because you have more of an urgency to see snippets of that better world you want for your children while you are still here. I’m sorry to hear of Patti’s passing as we can’t afford to lose anymore warriors. Patti was the kind of environmentalist that believed a better world was possible. The kind of world where freedom, justice and equality are just as part of nature as air, water, forest and mountains.  Blessings to activist like Patti who have bottomless pockets on their hearts. My children and I thank her for planting the seeds for that better world. Peace to you and your family Patti.

Here is a poem for Patti by my favorite poet, Peter Maurin:

“What Makes Man Human”

1. To give and not to take
   that is what makes man human.
2. To serve and not to rule
   that is what makes man human.
3. To help and not to crush
   that is what makes man human.
4. To nourish and not to devour
   that is what makes man human.
5. And if need be
   to die and not to live
   that is what makes man human.
6. Ideals and not deals
   that is what makes man human.
7. Creed and not greed
   that is what makes man human.

Mike Stout at Occupy Youngstown part 1

Occupy Youngstown: Part 2

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

~ Shannon L. Alder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Putting Some MLK in Your MLK Day

I was just watching a CSPAN show about books. The show was taped at a bookstore in 2003. It featured Martin Luther King Jrs. son, Dexter Scott King discussing his book, “Growing Up King; An Intimate Memoir.” At the question portion I was not surprised by the first question asked by a white man. He asked, “How do you feel about present day black ministers and so-called, black leaders using your father’s legacy to make money and promote themselves?” Dexter said his father’s books are available to the public so if you read them you’ll know who is promoting his father’s work. I’m sure the white man never read any book by MLK. He wasn’t there to learn anything about MLK. He was there to get a dig in about black leaders Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton. It is now 2015 and that type of white conservative man can still be heard calling talk radio and bashing Sharpton and Jackson. Let’s be honest, we know these white guys are racist because all of us white folks have a Sharpton and Jackson basher in our family.

They do that because they don’t want African-Americans to have any spokespersons. That is not entirely true. These white racist wouldn’t mind supporting the right black leader. By that I mean a conservative black leader. They’d have no problem supporting a Dr. Ben Carson, Allen West, Larry Elder, Alan Keys, Thomas Sowell, and Walter Williams. That is because all of them are willing to trash their own race to pick up a fat check from the white powers that be. When these black conservatives speak against their own race white conservatives are pleased as punch. Now when these white conservatives say something racist they can quote a black conservative that backs up their racist statement. All the African-Americans on this list hate President Obama. I believe that is because each one of them feels they should have been the first black president. Sadly, black conservatives stay in the GOP and don’t even question the racist comments of so many whites in their party. Before you tell me MLK was a Republican I know that. If you know your history about the Southern Strategy you know he wouldn’t be one today.

We labor activist need to remember that in 1968 Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated while supporting a strike by Memphis, Tennessee, sanitation workers. Peace activist need to remember he spoke against the Vietnam War. Whether we are black or white we all owe MLK a debt of gratitude and should respect what he stood for. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Here are 10 things you might not know about Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK forgave a woman who tried to kill him. Assassination attempt story about MLK being stabbed at a bookstore in 1958.

A Song for MLk Day: “I Have a Dream”

MLK Rap Song: “Let Freedom Ring”

“If a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

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God Inherits a Town

I just read an article about the mayor of a town turning over ownership of the town. He turned that ownership over to God. The town is Winfield, Alabama in Marion County. The population of the town is 4,540. I enjoyed reading some comments about turning Winfield over to God. I used those ideas, some Winfield research and my thoughts to create this poem.

Dateline Winfield, Alabama
In a secret meeting of only the city council
and mayor it was unanimously decided
to cede ownership of the town to God.
They released a statement saying,
“We acknowledge that at all times,
he is in control and no problem
will be too large or too small
for God to be able to overcome.”
My first thought was is this just more
of that stupid racist Confederate
secede from the Union bull crap?
God owns souls you crackers,
not houses, buildings and streets.
God doesn’t want your crappy town,
even if you call it Godville or Yahweh Village.
The town leaders of Winfield believe
if God owned the place it would be divine.
They’d have a cable system that didn’t suck.
They’d have no potholes and wouldn’t need bridges,
as the bodies of water in town would part
like automatic department store doors.
Winfield realtors wanted to know if God
was interested in selling any property to flip.
Big money could be made marketing it as, “God’s land.”
Area farmers were very happy knowing that God
could bring them sunshine and rain upon command.
On the downside the town religious leaders
knew they’d be unemployed with no job skills.
Hillbillies in the area married to their sisters
and ones way to friendly with their farm critters
were worried God might make the town explode
like those ancient cities Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible.
God did reply to Winfield’s town leaders saying
“I own the entire Universe and have eminent domain
of Earth so I don’t need your sad ass excuse for a town.
I created the world in 7 days
but don’t expect me to be able
to turn around Winfield in your lifetime,
because we’re talking Alabama here
If you really think your town is a shithole
did you ever think that is what
I had in mind for your town?
You know God’s will and all that.
Mr. Mayor you expect me to end homelessness.
Hell, the truth is I couldn’t find Mary a room.
I can do something about feeding the town’s poor,
if you bring me some fish, loaves of bread and wine.
Maybe I should just give Winfield back to
the Chicasaw Indians you whites stole it from.
As town owner I would ban Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Country Music,
Wall Street, door to door salesmen, call centers, the CIA, CEO’s,
the NRA, union busting, dictators, slavery, torture,
fracking, pollution, littering, pay parking lots,
left lane bandits, bullies, line jumpers, country clubs,
golf, commercials, Housewife reality TV shows,
FOX NEWS, Confederate Flags, war and racism,
as they were all invented by the Devil himself.
Truth is I already own all the towns.
You Earthlings are just a bunch of squatters.
Think about that the next time
you start bashing immigrants.
I guess me being an absentee landlord
has let a lot of bad people do terrible things
and claim they’re doing it all in my name.
I want to warn you Bible thumpers and religious fundamentalists
to quit spinning the Bible and all my other holy books
to hate and punish others.
I guess you Bible readers missed that part
about how swords should be turned into plows.
You’re suppose to be feeding the poor
and visiting prisoners not asking me to do it.
Also, what is with 2.5 million people behind bars in the USA?
Is that some weird way of lowering unemployment figures?
Enough with the wars already you’re starting to look like bullies.
You globalist, investors and free marketers
don’t worship me anyway, you worship the almighty dollar
and even had the gall to put my name on your money.
I created people and by damn I’m here to tell you
that corporations are not people and never will be.
And citizens of Winfield I ask you, who voted
for this stupid mayor and city council?
You Southern states claim to live in the Bible Belt,
yet you’ve failed to notice I’ve been punishing you
for a long time now for your racist redneck attitudes.
What you call the Bible Belt I call Tornado Alley.
Acts of God dudes, or do I need to remind you of that?
When I talked in the Bible about stoning people
I was talking about sharing some reefer.
Smoke ya some of that and maybe you Winfield town leaders
will feel your town doesn’t really have so many problems.
Bad news is I’m the same God for every religion.
Also a word to all towns to take to heart,
I hope your town does not have any restrictions
on voting or home ownership against blacks, gays or women
because I God, am a black lesbian woman.”

David Bromberg: “Main Street Moan”

“Somebody Else’s Blues”

I wish I could show you the little village where I was born. It’s so lovely there…I used to think it too small to spend a life in, but now I’m not so sure.” ~ Mary Kelly

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Dinosaurs at the Flea Market

Mrs. E and I shopped at Four Seasons Flea market this morning. I parked next to a car with a psychedelic colored bumper sticker. I noted it said something about Woodstock. As I put on my glasses I was better able to read it. The sticker had a picture of an AK 47 rifle and said, “This is the only Woodstock I remember.” Not exactly the same message of peace and love as the Woodstock concert. I guess when the car’s owner was buying a bumper sticker they were all out of “I’m a pinheaded redneck asshole” stickers. Once I entered I saw the same goof selling T-shirts I wrote a poem about several years ago. His T-shirts had a drawing of an AK 47 and said, “Youngstown” under that. He had other ones that stated, “Youngstown Mob Town.” The mob left half a dozen decades ago but this guy will live in the past if he can make a buck. As our area tries to move ahead for the next generation’s sake, we still have sorry assed dinosaurs who want to drag us down to their caveman level. It is time to close the door on dark days. Only then can you move forward which is really the wonderful part of life. Let me post this poem again to remind the T-shirt seller and his ilk that it is time to move on.

Youngstown Makes the Today Show

My alarm clock noisily rings
like every work day at 6:45 am.
I sit up in bed and click on the TV.
I view the local news,
followed by the Today Show.
The local news features a story
about the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI).
Reserve Data relocated from the Silicon Valley
and has moved their office into the YBI.
There is no mention of this good news
on the Today Show that follows.
On the following Sunday I shopped at
the Four Seasons Flea Market in Youngstown.
A vendor was selling T-shirts
picturing an AK-47 assault rifle.
Below the gun was the word, Youngstown.
I ask the vendor if he had any T-shirts
picturing the Youngstown Business Incubator.
He replies, “Just these” pointing
to the AK-47 shirts.

On another morning the local news
happily reports Youngstown’s V+M Steel is expanding.
The owner is spending $650 million on the project.
There was no word of this event
on the Today Show that followed.
While getting fresh fruit and vegetables
on my weekly Four Seasons Flea Market trip,
I again see the Ak-47 Youngstown T-shirt vendor.
I ask him, “Do you have a shirt with a V+M Steel picture?”
He replies, “Just these AK-47 Youngstown  T-shirts.”

Sometime later I awoke to more good news,
the local TV station was talking about an area business.
The Lordstown GM plant’s Cruze automobile
was being heralded, by automobile magazines,
as one of the best new cars
in its class and price range.
No mention of the Chevy Cruze
on the Today Show that followed.
My Sunday’s Four Seasons visit
did not turn up any Chevy Cruze T-shirts,
just the AK-47 Youngstown standby model.

This past Monday’s local morning TV news
started its broadcast on a very sad note.
One YSU student was shot and killed
and eleven others were wounded
at an off campus fraternity party.
The Today Show followed and this time
they had found a Youngstown event
that they didn’t want to ignore.
I suspect the Four Seasons Flea Market vendor
was watching the Today Show.
I’m sure he smiled widely
picked up his phone
and called his supplier
and ordered a big batch
of AK-47 Youngstown T-shirts.

Johnny Clegg “Don’t Walk Away”

“Crazy Beautiful World”

“When in doubt, choose change.” – Lily Leung

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