Life & ISland Times: Chimney Caps

Editor’s Note: wanted to be down at Refuge Farm for what could be the last major snow storm of the 2018 cycle. It wasn’t that big a deal. but having a fire and watching the sleet and wintry mix come down deep in the Virginia countryside is pretty cool. As to Marlow’s fine story this morning, I have my own tales of inadvertent intrusion on our sovereign property. I wish chimney caps worked on Turkey Buzzards. We had a colony of twenty or more (estimates range s high as 30, sober count) but apparently only two of them- Edward and Edwina- are using the burrow entrance to the barn to sleep in relative comfort (and poop on the tractor) now that I have the doors secured against foxes and feral cats. We all have our challenges, though Ed and Edwina are protected by the Migratory Species Act and I respect their rights. Not the other 28, though.



After having lived in a no-fireplace tropical land for sixteen years, our six fireplace, three chimney Coastal Empire digs caused me once again to ponder the need for clear chimney flues, inserts and dampers as well as the non-negotiable requirement for functioning chimney caps.

I was initially inspired to consider these issues actively this past summer when we observed a bunch of flower nectar drunk bees from our side garden spew forth from an upstairs room fireplace.

We found these inebriated honey and bumble bees so buzzed that they were slip sliding away on the room’s tile floor. After herding these hammered drunks into a paper grocery store bag for their return to our garden, we lit that room’s gas log fireplace for a 30 minute clearing operation of any other potential invaders. We were not bothered further after running similar death-to-intruders operations in our other fireplaces.

Chimney caps were standard in the midwestern cities of my and W’s births. These mil-spec caps became indeliably marked in my mind, when one mid 1950’s summer eve of family TV watching was interrupted by a bat flying out of the living room chimney to terrorize us. Some of us children were dispatched to get a paper bag and broom to corral the invader. Ever the engineer and detailed observer of new things, my father sought out and hand wound his Bell & Howell 8mm movie camera to film the bat’s flight and capture operations.

In the grainy 60 year old color film, viewers can still see my father’s right arm directing his volunteers — me and my younger brother — in the capture operation as the bat dive bombed my mother and sisters as they cowered with their heads face planted in the seat cushions of the overstuffed living room chairs.

The need for chimney caps here in coastal Georgia was reinforced this winter by a story from a local that was one part funny and one part scary.

This neighbor had a racoon climb down the living room chimney. A real big dude. They found the coon sleeping on their fireplace mantel. Initially Animal Control would not come and retrieve it. Quickly thinking, they called back the government no-help desk and said they thought it was rabid. The no longer recalcitrant reps from Animal Control arrived within thirty minutes. After the intruder’s removal, proper chimney caps were immediately ordered and emplaced.

It took my my family — i.e., my father — another incident a year later to cap our two-flue single chimney.

Just after performing her summer morning ablutions, my mother entered the parental bedroom to see in the fireplace a plump squirrel looking back at her. She screamed something blood curdling but largely unintelligible. Her bat-boys came to the rescue as she had leapt to the top of the bed.

To this day, I am not sure why, but we suburban urchins treated this small rodent with respect not batting it about, but baiting it with peanut butter and herding the little pecker out of the house. We were lucky to have confronted an ordinary, and quite domesticated, squirrel. We could have faced off with a most ravenous and foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent with a mile-wide vicious streak. Consequently, we kids were spared from soiling and disgracing ourselves with fear.

No, that fate was reserved for my father later that evening, when my sure-to-be-suffering-from-PTSD mother confronted him at the dinner table with the undeniable facts as seen from the window next to the kitchen dinner table that all of our neighbors’ houses had chimney caps installed and no reports of household fauna invasions.

Crosman .22 cal pneumatic pellet pistol model 130

Not surprisingly, I, as the oldest child, was dragooned into doing the high work for this cap’s emplacement the next weekend, since my father abhorred heights. As recompense, my father bought a right and powerful, pellet pistol and gave me enough pellets and instruction to learn how to shoot varmints that might enter the house in the future.

The following parochial school year I learned to sing in Latin the Catholic Mass of the Dead. Unfortunately, I had to wait the passage of five years before singing these requiem-for-a-squirrel lyrics after I picked off one of several who were prying off the chimney cap cover:

Pie Jesu Domine, Pious Lord Jesus,
Dona eis requiem. Give ’em rest.
Pie Jesu Domine, Pious Lord Jesus,
Dona eis requiem sempiternam. Give ’em everlasting rest.

On a brighter note, I still wonder if that long ago squirrel looked in that bedroom’s comfy abyss that morning and saw, not his fate or his character, but the existence of a heretofore undiscovered free-food-today buffet.

Another reason to install chimney caps — not having to
explain killing Santa to children (copyright Gahan Wilson)

So, take it from me, if you value your peaceful abode a lot more than 500 bucks for a set of chimney caps, folks, find them at Home Depot and have a handyman install them. Otherwise, you’ll be calling an Animal Control no-help desk or someone like me who’ll come right over and kill and remove the critters . . . for a grand.

Copyright © 2018 From My Isle Seat

Life & Island Times: Life Before The Big War

Editor’s Note: this is a back-to-back for Coastal Empire this week. I am hoping the kitchen upgrade here at Big Pink may be complete soon. Socotra LLC is proud to have talented team of content providers who step up to the vital mission of providing more glib words to the Web. To further that end, we are conferring this morning with legal staff to see if we can run a story on one of the most Legendary West Coast Naval Aviators to ever have flown. That, and former SECNAV John ehman’s thoughts about Naval Aviation. If the stove gets installed, that is. The worldwide threat hearing in the Senate is well worth a look if you have a chance. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that the cyber problem is going to bite us hard. As Marlow astutely notes, channeling David Byrne, it is more just a question of when…—Unclassified-SSCI.pdf

– Vic

Marlow’s note: Wire services reported that the US Director of National Intelligence \ this past Tuesday warned that time was running out for the United States to act on the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

He further claimed that North Korea presents “a potentially existential” threat to the US during his remarks at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual hearing on “Worldwide Threats.”

This warning came despite an apparent easing of tensions on the Korean peninsular after talks resumed between North and South Korea, and as the North participated in the Winter Olympics hosted by the South.

That a Big War in Asia might be coming soon probably came as a surprise to us mainland, Olympics binge-watching softies but probably not to the battle-hardened soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen in the field who’ve been living, eating and drinking Small Wars during the past 16 years.

And so with a tip of the hat to David Byrne of Talking Heads . . .

– – – –

Intel says cars are coming, loaded with explosives
Packed up and ready to blow
Passing by old IED sites, out on the highway
Places where we no longer go

Sounds of mortars, beyond the wire
Almost used to it now
Living in a trailer, out in the boonies
Just like where we lived in our home towns

16 years of small war, never was a party
But we’re still messing around
Ran out of time for romancing and lovey dovey
Peninsula boy denies us R&R for any of that now

High on a distant hillside, missile sights are rising
Bad guys are ready to roll
They sleep in the daytime, they advance at nighttime
We are on our fifth rotation now

16 years of small war, never was a party
But we’re still messing around
This ain’t no Desert Shield, or El Dorado Canyon
This is really the big time now

Heard about the Olympics? Heard about the cheer leaders?
Heard about his sister?
Don’t look over the wall, or stand by a window
Somebody’ll see you for sure

They issued extra MRE’s, lotsa peanut butter
Maybe last 7 or 8 days
Deleted our tunes, smashed our iPhones and head phones
Can’t have music to play

Shoulda stayed in college, tried classes at night school
Could’ve been BitCoin rich by now
Won’t write a letter, won’t Facebook post
There’s no time for that now

We dress like storm troopers, carry extra ammo and really sharp knives
None of us got a suit or a tie
Got no hairstyle, shaved it all off so many times now
We don’t care what we look like

Cold make us shiver, we feel so alive
We make a damn great fire team
Won’t get exhausted, we’ll do a lotta killing
Let’s get us some sleep

Deleted our postings, what good are social media?
They won’t help us survive
Chests are searing, flaming like volcanos
Will the burning keep us alive?

Copyright © 2018 From My Isle Seat/David Byrne

Life & Island Times: Love and War


“Two things greater than all things are,” wrote Rudyard Kipling: “The first is Love and the second War.” Romance and conflict are intimately bound together. Long ago Love started one War when one army chased their king’s Helen in Greek mythology.

Love and War are the two extremes of our human experience. Perhaps it’s true as the song says that love is a battlefield. So, on an off chance to see what might be what here I decided to quickly look online to see if Valentine’s Day pop culure emphemera like cards and magazine covers revealed something of how Love-n-War’s interrelationship on America’s day of lovers has evolved during the past 100 years.

World War I

World War II

Valentine’s Day letter from the Korean War front 1952

Vietnam War death card Valentine

Desert Storm

War on Terror

Copyright © 2018 From My Isle Seat

Life & Island Times: That Time of Year


It’s that time of year back up in my former northern Virginia digs along the Potomac River. No, not tax time nor Valentine’s. No, it is now that groups of raptors will be wintering over out in the treed areas near suburban and urban developments.

I first noticed these winter snowbirds when I was living during the 1980s just outside the Capitol beltway in West Springfield that had neither a spring nor a field. What surprised me was to find similar groups of these hunter-killers a dozen or so years later when I moved to an urban row house in Old Town Alexandria.

I loved it when these feathered pillagers arrived because the dirty Canadian geese vamoosed. Maybe it was climate change — beats the hell out of me — but these geese had become year-round residents of northern Virginia. They had stopped going south anymore. So, they flew around all over the place — the slow running rivers, lakes and ponds in northern Virginia attracted the geese perhaps.

In particular, the geese congregated on the large sports fields of nearby schools and parks. They spent their days creating tons of goose poop which local dogs loved to eat after their off-leash running around madly chasing these winged crap machines. They never caught them, of course. When these birds had flown away, the dogs would return slowly, grazing on goose poop along the way. Only upon re-entry into their homes would they throw it all back up on their owners oriental rugs.

All this might sound amusing, but the geese became over time serious public health problems. No one did anything about it. Why, you might ask. Well, the agents of virtue who ran the various local municipalities wouldn’t allow it. Apparently, they wanted us to be as friendly with the geese as we were with the destitute homeless and the flush with cash, EB-5 visa program applicants.

For the parents of athletes who played on these fields, it meant knowing that your child practiced on fields that were, in fact, geese toilets. By fall, after the long, hot, dry summer, the poop had become a fine dust embedded in the grass. Concussions were one thing, but I had to think twice before letting my daughters practice and play on natural grass fields up there.

As God is my witness, I cannot recall without involuntarily shuddering a sensation as distasteful as having to snap a football or kick a soccer ball or place one of these balls in play as I did as a sideline ref that had been smeared with or dusted by goose excretia.

Once a local gold course less than a mile from where I lived acquired some sort of dog and put him to work chasing these birds. Once they were discovered doing so, the progressives in our local government issued an edict to the effect that you could not let the dogs out to “worry the geese.” So, the course ended up with what was a population explosion of these dirty and nosiy honkers.

They roamed the greens and fairways every day eating and so on. There was no sizeable water source in the immediate area. It was great to see them land and take off in formation. But, I really wanted to open fire on them when they started stopping by our back yard pool in Springfield, since they left behind sizeable messes.

With firearm discharging being not in acccordance with peaceable, genteel rules of my cul de sac (well, two of my neighbors were LEOs from the FBI & FPS who offered support as long as they could shoot some of the micreants), I was able to shoo my enemies off using spicy corn and several bad ass looking plastic birds of prey.

Sometime well after I moved south, the local governments finally got their acts together and allowed residents to secure the service of humane pest control companies like Their anti- goose schtick focussed on using border collies to tirelessly stalk and and chase these birds away.

My heart is warmed during this unseasonably cold winter here in the Coastal Empire winter by imagining packs of geese being run off repeatedly to the point of distraction and nervous breakdown.



Copyright © 2018 From My Isle Seat

Life & Island Times: Real Estate Man

After watching the State of the Union speech and the loyal opposition’s response, I was reminded of one of the central truths of salesmanship and how each side chose to follow it. I am talking about the real estate salesman’s motivational ABC dictum — Always Be Closing.

There are two types of closes — hard, asking for the business/sale, and soft, seeing whether the client wants to move forward. Some examples of soft closes:

Wouldn’t what I am selling be an improvement over what what is being done/used now?
If this solves these problems, would you take it?

The loyal opposition approach seems to be constantly asking for a hard negative close on their competitor’s products — in other words they ask the public to reject its competitor’s proposed product sale. They don’t often focus on a hard sale close of their own products, since they rarely have anything hard to sell. In the software industry, this type of sale close for a non-existent product is called selling vaporware. Continuous, high pressure hard sell tactics don’t often work. Good salespeople do not sell. They help others to buy.

The old 20th century hard sell and counter sell approaches simply don’t cut it with today’s hyper-informed, media-driven consumers. With the transparency and availability of information online, buyers are far savvier than they used to be. Today’s ABC is more appropriately defined as Always Be Communicating (or Twittering?). Because let’s face it, it’s far easier to keep existing clients (base or voters in political parlance) than to spend considerable amounts of time and effort on looking for new ones.

Real estate sales guru character played by Alec Baldwin in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross delivers his ABC monologue

Cruise the edges of city land
Then go across railroad tracks
And past where a viaduct looms
You’ll see porch-sitting birds of doom
Chilling as they smoke their crack
There are no secrets in these streets of winter trashcan fires
Neath drooping internet, cable and telephone wires
Hey dudes, you know, they thought
Good times are never coming
We’re never getting it back

Past tidy city squares, past the Talmadge bridge
Past the river docks, past vacant factory smoke stacks
From the north a gathering storm came
A tall orange haired man
In a dusty black coat
A real estate man

He wrapped em in his arms
Told em that they were all good boys
He’d rekindle all their dreams
It took the others a lifetime to destroy
He’d reach deep into the holes
And heal their withering souls
Only he could make happen what the others couldn’t do

He’s a demagogue, he’s a man
He’s a snake, he’s a reality TV guru
They chanted his name
Throughout the country land
But hidden in his coat
Was a real estate man

You didn’t have any money?
He’d get you some
You didn’t have a job?
He’d get you one
You didn’t have self-respect
He’s where hope and the future intersect
Well, don’t you worry, folks
‘Cause here he comes

Through trash filled alleys
Through slums, past overflowing garbage cans
Shadows fled from wherever he stood
Wads of promised cash came soon after
They passed his great big tax plans

Foes see him in their nightmares
See him in their dreams
He appeared out of left field
Telling us he ain’t what he seems
They see him in their heads
And on their TV screens
Hey, folks, they’re warning
Us to turn him off
He’s a snake, he’s a demagogue
He’s a man, he’s reality TV guru
We’re all stuck in a coastal bog
Tarred to an unstoppable plan
Designed and directed by
This real estate man

Copyright © 2018 From My Isle Seat

Life & Island Times: America’s New Silence is Death Epidemic


A terse emailed note from a friend announced another of his children’s close high school friends was found dead of a heroin overdose. That brought the total in his child’s small midwestern town high school class to six in twenty three years.

The details were heartbreaking in their recitation, but there was a leaden sameness to other tales I have heard for more than a decade . . .

Child of hard working, small business owners whose business got killed by the arrival of Wal-Mart and Home Depot
Child injured back at a distant foundry; put on opioid pain medication, just like most of the others; perscription ran out; bought on the street
Busted for possession of a controlled drug; lost job after brief prison sentence served; heroin/fentayl followed; dead.
Left behind two kids and an ex

I recall twenty eight years ago when after a serious ortho injury surgery I had a morphine pump for two days and then left the Bethesda Naval Hospital with over a 120 powerful Percocets. When I stopped taking them four days later. I definitely felt the draw.

Here is some added context to this ongoing American opioid tragedy:

makes pain tolerable when damage occurs during work or exercise sessions
assumption that not experiencing any euphoric or addictive feelings others succumbed to gives you a a pass
unwillingness to adjust an active life to something that does not require opioids
the majority of people who are dependent on them don’t get high, they just experience pain that if you aren’t opioid sensitized wouldn’t bother you
these tragedies are happening at every economic, social, and educational strata of our society
one bad decision during one’s early teens can often permanently ruin, if not end, a child’s life
“No First Time” school programs help but still do not stop this rising black tide
the parallels with America’s callous inaction to the AIDS epidemic 30+ years ago are striking
opioid addicts relapse at a very high rate — 75% or more
this problem is becoming less a prescription narcotic issue and more of a direct to heroin/fentanyl problem
the one thing that seems to work well in many cases is to switch out the opioid for another drug

My take-aways:
60,000 Americans are dying every year from opioid overdoses – more than the Vietnam war death total every damn year
these numbers are rising every year
prison is not rehab
prescribing medicinal marijuana derivatives might keep/ween people off opioids
we need many tens of billions of dollars annually to support medication assisted replacement therapy programs nationwide
I simply refuse to take opioids after injury or surgery other than the first 24-48 hours after the event
This tragedy is not just select individuals here and there falling through the cracks or left behind in our society. It is an outright willful epidemic, inflicted upon America’s citizens by big pharma, the payors, pharmacies, doctors and the arm-waving, blathering, do-nothing politicans who have all turned a blind eye to this rightfully described carnage.

When will they act? After a million American deaths? That benchmark will come as early as 2020 by some calculations. That way America would match the death totals of the Cambodia and Rwanda genocide campaigns. Nice company for America to be in, eh?

As with AIDS in the 1980s, silence is death with this epidemic. So, why doesn’t the American national media talk about this nonstop until we act? They must have other more important issues to kerflufflle over.

This deserves more attention than just about any other issue in our country right now. A society strung out is not destined to remain great at much. This is a stealthy, modern day Opium War that Americans are losing.

Copyright © 2018 From My Isle Seat

Life & Island Times: PonziCoins

Because money doesn’t grow on trees, here’s a pitch to my readers to become rich real quick. Invest in PonziCoins. They are based on blockchain software technology that is all the rage. Below is a simple primer on how this works.


Look, PonziCoin’s developers are completely transparent and honest — the above white paper primer has the word “blockchain” on it. It’s a fabulous opportunity that requires four simple steps.

Step 1: Invest
PonziCoins WILL be a top 5-10 market cap coin by end of 2018. Send me Ethereum or Ripple through Western Union or bearer bonds to buy your coins now before it takes off. I use Equifax-grade security, so you can safely start thinking nonstop about the Lambrghinis you’ll soon own.

Step 2: Shill
I recommend shilling PonziCoins heavily to your family and friends like a sociopath. Creating posts on how this coin will 1000x by April on various listservs and social media sites. Making several youtube videos promoting PonziCoin is also encouraged.

Step 3: HODL
Everytime 100 tokens are sold, your coins will double in the price that newcomers can buy in at, but also the price that you can sell the tokens at! So everytime 100 tokens are sold, your PonziCoins’ value doubles! HODL (Hold On for Dear Life) and watch it soar. If you do somehow lose money, it’s because of sell walls and whales trying to accumulate them, so don’t play into their hands.

Step 4: Profit
If you’re allergic to making more money and want to cash out to buy pizza/drugs/luxury cars, sell your coins back to me via a special email address that will be provided separately. You will receive Ethereum in return. If you’ve HODLed for long enough and shilled hard enough that enough people have bought in afterwards, your gains will be through the roof.

I am only partially making the above up. There was an actual PonziCoin website offering these bogus coins for sale briefly in 2014. That fraudster took in $7000 before walking off.

Then a west coast software guy opened up a second website as a joke meme that actually took off. After this jokester received $25,000 in real crypto currency via secure digital means he shut it down yesterday. He announced no plans regarding sell backs or refunds.

Yet another proof that there will always be greater fools out there.

Caveat emptor.

Copyright Marlow 2018

Life & Island Times: What is Suitable?

A Black Tie Optional invitation to a family wedding looms in my future. I understand the suitable sartorial requirements for such an event. Or I used to.

As a gentleman of leisure (aka retired old dude), my current lifestyle requires nothing more than the occasional wearing of a sport coat. None of my old suits fit nor could they be tailored to fit my new old man contours.

The question then becomes do I buy a new suit for the wedding or rent a tuxedo for the weekend.

This is not a Penthouse Forum set up for a joke about jorts, black jeans or leather chaps.

I am probably way off base, but this BTO inclusion seems to have begun popping up in invitations where no one actually shows up black tie, but everyone shows up in jacket and tie.

Perhaps I should focus on the word optional? But to this former southernmost tropical islander, if a tux is optional, that would imply that so is a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops. Problem solved? Not if I want to see my next birthday.

A tuxedo shirt is probably out and so is the venerable Fantasy Fest body painted tuxedo.


Two non-starters: tux t-shirt (top) and body paint tux (bottom)

Part of me says that no man past prom age should rent a tux. I still have full body jerking epileptic flashbacks to a light blue colored ruffled tux I wore to a 70s wedding in the pre-disco music era. Yet I do not want to be the sole guy who doesn’t show up in a tux. So maybe this BTO thing could be my chance to get my Gatsby on?

W thinks I should purchase a new suit for the event. Her advice and suggestions will likely be heeded. I may try to avoid Joseph A. Bank and actually purchase a black suit retail. While a black suit works for weddings, funerals and all occasions in between, it seems out of line with the raconteur and bon vivant vibe I’ve been going for.

One of my friends has suggested that I rent a tux and a Lamborghini, buy W a Chanel gown and then show up and own the reception. I digress . . .

But a black Italian wool Hugo Boss suit and a rental Lambo with a tux paint job — a most worthy suitable compromise…



Copyright © 2018 From My Isle Seat

Life & Island Times: 1968

thor’s Note: As an antidote to the daily chaos we have been experiencing, I took a brief look at what I still remember and feel today was the prologue to the End of the World back then. We kids of today will be alright once again, methinks.

– Marlow

Editor’s Note: That was unquestionably the strangest time in which I was privileged to exist. Marlow is right on.

– Vic


1968 was a year of protest, a year of change, a year of deadly sadness, and a year of strange.

It was the start of what some see as America’s Second Revolution. This revolt played out over the coming decades in the destruction of old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas. What was created in their place was a mixed bag of great things — rising incomes and equality across race, creed, sexes, and sexual orientations — and some more mundane replacements — new and different names for people of their own creation and spelling, long hair, metrosexuality, smooth jazz . . . .

Fifty years ago a fascinating, tumultuous, at times eloquent and violent discussion of the place, direction, aims and dangers of American life began. When the year started most of my cohort was 18, in college, barefoot in summer and clad in casual blue jeans. Most of us had not yet turned on, tuned in or dropped out. That would come later. By the end of the year many had been turned off. Many more became a silent majority that would remain so until decades later.

I recall hearing an evidently mildly high Timothy Leary during a 1968 speech at the University of Notre Dame declare: “ Fifty years from now, everyone will be on drugs.” Who knew that this avowed stoned tripper would be so prescient?

Timothy Leary’s 1966 album L.S.D. on the Pixie Records label

Before the year ended, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy would be assassinated; U.S. troops would suffer their deadliest year yet in Vietnam; US troops would massacre scores of civilians at My Lai; the Democratic Party courtesy of street riots during its Presidential Convention would tear itself apart on live TV; Richard Nixon would be elected president; Americans would orbit the moon; American Olympic medal winners in Mexico City would raise their fists in a black power salute; millions would die of starvation in Biafra; and the Beatles would release their White album.

STREET EXECUTION DURING THE TET OFFENSIVE, VIETNAM. South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan, chief of the national police, fires his pistol, executing suspected Viet Cong officer Nguyen Van Lem on a Saigon street on February 1, 1968, early in the Tet Offensive. Lem was suspected of commanding a death squad which had targeted South Vietnamese police officers that day. AP image.

PRAGUE SPRING. Czechoslovakia pro-democracy uprising would be put down by Soviet union tanks and soldiers. AP image.

MLK (l) & RFK (r) ASSASSINATIONS. Life Magazine images.

WHITE ALBUM. The Beatles released the White Album in 1968. I bought an original copy in France. Along with the Steven Stills’ Super Session and Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced albums, the multi-platter White was all we listened to during our sophomore year taking classes at a Frnech unversity. French students thought us square midwestern American students revolutionary

MY LAI. “Was is necessary to destroy the village and its people to save it?” Dead Vietnamese bodies lie by a home, set on fire by American troops — stark evidence of the My Lai Massacre. Image taken from the Report of the Department of the Army Review of the Preliminary Investigations into the My Lai Incident, photographed by United States Army photographer Ronald L. Haeberle.


BIAFRA. Between 500,000 and 2,000,000 Nigerians, mostly children, slowly died from starvation and malnutrit.ion. Biafra was a breakaway state within Nigeria that fought a war for independence from 1967 to 1970. Life Magazine image.

TOMMIE SMITH & JOHN CARLOS. These winners of the gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter run at the 1968 Olympic Games, engaged in a victory stand protest against unfair treatment of blacks in the United States. With heads lowered and black-gloved fists raised in the black power salute, they refused to recognize the American flag and national anthem. Australian Peter Norman was the silver medalist. Getty image.

APOLLO 8 CIRCLING THE MOON. Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. That evening, the three astronauts read on live American TV three segments from the book of Genesis. NASA image.

“We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

These slices of 1968 hopefully provide some perspective to the coming events of 2018.

Copyright © 2018 From My Isle Seat

Life & Island Times: Dive Bar Vision

The Commodore – Charleston SC dive bar

Author’s note: We were lounging in a Charleston SC dive bar — the Commodore — on icy slick Meeting Street two Saturday nights ago, sad that this former jazz bar had morphed into a millenial 1970s music venue. This dilapidated place may not last long, since urban development of tony condos and apartment buildings was marching quickly northwards from the historic downtown of this paragon, New South city. We cheered ourselves as the band began to play funked up versions of that long ago music after repairing a smoking speaker amp that they had spectacularly fried during their sound checks. As the smoke cleared, the music began to blare and the young’uns began to groove as a group on the dance floor, potential coming times came into clearer focus.

We were sitting in a dive bar
When the band started
On Charleston’s Meeting Street.
Uncertain but unafraid
Our hopes for soothing jazz expired.
We nursed heavy pours of rye whiskey over ice
Deadening our unease for these low dishonest times:
Absent were anger and fear
Circulating over distant
And darkened lands of Asia and
Possessing our private lives.
An unhearable march of boots
Might offend this joyful January night.

Simple wiki scholarship
Unearths the mistakes
From Bush Senior until now
That have rendered America sightless
Finds what occurred at the DMZ and near shore seas:
Psychopathic Kims and the power mad Communist Chinese.
Our soldiers and the public may soon know
What all school children used to learn:
Those to whom evil is done
Will do unspeakable evil in return.

Into this crisp winter night air
Where charming downtown lofts
Cozy, artful design declaims
The desires of comfortable Free Men,
Believin we can live forever
In euphoric dreams.
In the bar’s darkened restroom mirrors we might see, if we looked,
Totalitarianism’s ghostly faces staring back
And the coming international troubles
Half a world away.

Faces along the bar
Fling their cares away
As the lights never come on,
The music always plays.
All our networked inventions conspire
To make we revelers assume
The good future of our homeland
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost as the hunted in a dark woods.

Tis true of our normal hearts
The error was bred in the American bone
Like Jefferson, America’s men and women
Crave what we cannot have,
Not universal peace and love
But just to be left alone.

Sleepy under night skies
America in stupor lies
Unseeing here and there
Small red dots of light
Dance about as events occur
Predisposed to ignore them
Perferring tales of gossip and lust
We, beleaguered by our games
Which turn our minds into mush,
Flit about their warm affirming flames.

Dancers flit about the Commodore’s dance floor

Copyright © 2018 From My Isle Seat