It’s been three months since I’ve posted here. My wife Andrea Carney and I have separated; she’s in Minnesota near her son Alex and his family while I remain in Denver, moving next month from Central Park to the neighborhood named after Sloan’s Lake, the city’s largest body of water, at its western border. Like many places here, its working-class roots show while the peroxide of gentrification blandly bleaches.1 Gentrification can be seen as rejuvenation, giving youth to the old. But it’s a kind of death.Continue reading “Deaths”
Jim Morphesis: Conversations in Isolation
The sun will never disappear
But the world may not have many years
— John Lennon, “Isolation”
In the summer of 2020 I contacted visual artist Jim Morphesis to ask his permission to reprint his private reply to Rudy Perez in response to Part 2 of my Portrait of Rudy Perez series. Jim had reminded Rudy of how the two had met on July 24, 1981, when Rudy appeared on Rona Barrett’s television show.Continue reading “Jim Morphesis: Conversations in Isolation”
Colorado Public Radio (CPR) reported ten days ago that the U.S. Department of Justice “has complained that Colorado violates federal law by not providing adequate services to transition people with physical disabilities out of nursing homes and back into the community.” It was the following statistic, however, that startled me: “From 2013 to 2019, only 269 Coloradans with physical disabilities transitioned from nursing facilities to the community, according to a multi-year review by the Justice Department.” That’s less than forty people a year and a little more than one per the 231 facilities in the state over those seven years.1 The implication is that nursing homes are warehousing people.
I know from personal experience that this is a reasonable conclusion, but the problem is more complicated than it sounds. Nursing homes are one part of a system full of holes.Continue reading “Nursing Holes”
My Old Kentucky Home: Edgar, Willis and Green
Years ago I was told by my parents that I had a Wobbly in my lineage on my father’s side. I asked them to write down what they remembered about him but never followed up. Until recently.Continue reading “My Old Kentucky Home: Edgar, Willis and Green”
Another Monument Toppled: KKKpleton
After many years of resistance and organizing, the name of Andrea’s and my Denver neighborhood finally will be abandoned. “Stapleton” is a holdover from another era: Denver Municipal Airport, a consolidation of smaller fields, was championed by mayor Benjamin Stapleton in 1929, six years after he first was elected with the help of the Ku Klux Klan. Continue reading “Another Monument Toppled: KKKpleton”
“Out of the schools and into the streets”
On Sunday afternoon a comrade in the effort to change the name of our neighborhood posted the following regarding George Floyd and so many others:
For those of you with kids, I thought you might want to know about this peaceful protest happening at Central Park on June 6th 9:00am
Not knowing the neighbor who organized this protest, I thought the image that accompanied the announcement was a little tone deaf. Continue reading ““Out of the schools and into the streets””
Sibling Cities in an Invisible Empire
We’re all familiar with the Charlottesville chant from two years ago: Jews Will Not Replace Us.
It’s a perennial paradox. Torch-bearing worshippers of an almighty God, who answers prayers with miracles, and devotion with salvation, at the same time have an inferiority complex as vast as their numbers. In 2014 the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study reported that if the U.S. had a population of only 100 (adults) there would be two Jews, one Muslim, and 71 Christians. Verily: Jews will not replace Christians. But what might rightly rile these folks are two other Pew stats: 1) only 47 of those 71 nominal Christians are white and 2) as many young people identify as “unaffiliated” as they do “Protestant.” (Earlier I discussed how sex surveys of young people show that about 1 in 5 don’t ID as straight—about the same percentage as the unaffiliated total in the Pew poll.)
When my wife Andrea Carney and I first moved to our Denver neighborhood in 2005, Andrea found it was named for a mayor who had profited politically from the prototype of what we saw in Charlottesville. We were heartened in 2015 when Black Lives Matter began an effort to change the name.
In July of this year, we and our neighbors (property owners only, no renters) voted whether to retain the neighborhood name Stapleton, which we inherited from the former airport on which our plots are platted. (Our true legacy, of course, is from indigenous people, as explained here.) Continue reading “Sibling Cities in an Invisible Empire”
Gang of Four Part 1: Natural’s Not In It
Last month I saw Gang of Four for the third time.
The first was at a small club, probably their show at the Starwood in West Hollywood, capacity 400–800, May of 1980. Earlier that same year, the band had opened for the Buzzcocks and later, Iggy Pop, both at the much larger Santa Monica Civic. But those garnered lousy reviews by the Los Angeles Times, the first due to bad sound, the second to fatigue. The Civic could put a lot of distance between the stage and the floor. And it ostensibly seated 3,000, but when I saw the Clash there, the seats were replaced by metal plates; when we bounced, so did they—and there were a lot more than 3,000 bouncing.
Obviously that Starwood show in 1980 featured the band’s original lineup: Hugo Burnham on drums, Dave Allen bass, Andy Gill guitar, and Jon King vocals. It was riveting. The stage was small enough to bridge the Civic’s divide, but broad enough to allow Jon King his signature sprints between microphones. If King was a gazelle, Gill was a beast of prey, exactly as described by poet Ted Hughes in his “Second Glance at Jaguar”: “He coils, he flourishes/ The blackjack tail as if looking for a target.”