Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Banshee demon

Sandy raged like a woman driven mad by torment.  She screamed and shrieked and banged on the house.  He could not relax and neither could she.  The volume on the television blared, but Sandy's howl encompassed the sound, made it part of her song.  

The lamp on the end table flickered once.  Alarmed, he turned toward the woman.  She sat on the edge of the sofa, eyes wide in alarm.  Her lips moved, but the howling wind drowned her words.  "What?" he mouthed.  The lights flickered again and then were gone.  Not just the lights, but the television, the segmented red display of the digital clock.  All light snuffed out in an instant.  The image of her drawn face, her pale, eyes wide, froze in his mind as the darkness came down.

Candles!  There were candles in the bedroom.  "Upstairs," he shouted, his voice a faint murmur in the cacophony.  He reached out and found her wrist, then stood and pulled her in the direction of the staircase, groping before him with his free hand.  The world was a place of darkness.  No dimensions, no definition --a black void inhabited only by the voice of anguished Sandy.

His hand found the wall.  Without thinking, he groped for the light switch and flicked it up.  Nothing.  Behind him, the woman clung to his arm like kelp in a raging sea.  His toe stubbed against something --a step.  He placed his foot at the top of the step, then turned and pulled her close.  He bent his head to her ear and shouted "Upstairs!  Light!"  She squeezed his arm.  He turned away and stepped up.

They began their blind ascent.  Several steps into it something poked against his knee --a phantom finger, the nascent manifestation of the demon that howled outside.  His lungs filled, preparing his indignant and terrified scream.  But the poke came again, softer this time.  The dog! he realized.  It's only the dog.  He dropped his free hand and felt the dog's nose, rough and wet, nuzzling against his palm.  He pulled gently on the dog's ear, to reassure, then resumed climbing.  He felt the dog staying close against his leg.  He's scared, too.

The climb went on for a small eternity.  At last he stepped forward and found emptiness instead of a step.  They'd reached the landing.  She was shouting something into his ear.  "...all alone ...have to help her..."

He bent his arm and held it before him as he groped forward.  She was behind him.  When he found the doorway, he measured out the steps to the bed stand from memory, then reached for and found the drawer and pulled it open.  His fingers found the candle stub, then the lighter.  He pulled his arm away from her and spun the striker wheel.  A sputtering flame birthed frail firmament out of the emptiness.  A brief flare as the wick caught.  Then the light grew.

The dog was halfway under the bed, hindquarters trembling.  She stood near him.  Her face was streaked with tears.  She gaped at him, as if expecting a word.  She pointed to the window which, thank God, he'd thought to board up with plywood the day before.  Did she want him to open it?  The window?  Her mouth moved; she was shouting.  He watched her lips move, barely made out the words "...might need help..." and at last he understood.  The old woman who lived in the house across the alley... was she still there, huddling alone in the darkness?   The storm outside was deafening.  He glanced at the boarded window and back at her again. Though he could not hear her, he understood her well enough.  His mind formed the words that her lips mimed:  "We can't leave her alone."

He thought for a moment.  There was a flashlight in the closet, but it was anyone's guess if the batteries held enough juice to light it.  He stepped to the closet door and slid it open.  The flashlight lay in the top drawer of the dresser among a litter of household baubles.  He snatched it up and pushed the switch.  The bulb behind the lens emitted a weak yellow light.  He turned.  She sat on the bed holding the dog close to her, stroking its head.  Her eyes clung to him.  The candle glowed on the bed stand.

 "Stay here," he said.  He held his hands out, fingers spread, palms to the floor, indicating she should wait.  She nodded.

He turned away from her and left the room.  He closed the door behind him.  Even as the darkness fell, he flicked on the flashlight to hold it at bay.  He paused at the top of the stairs.  The old woman lived alone.  Who knew if she were still there in that little house across the way?  Could he even make it to her if she were?

Never mind.  He pointed the beam of light at his feet and hurried down the stairs.  As he crossed the darkened living room,, a coldness fell upon him, as if he had walked into a crypt.  Everything that he touched with the flashlight beam --the sofa, the television, the curtains beside the dead window --seemed artifacts rendered irrelevant by a change in the world.

He paused.  The door stood before him.  Sandy's tormented voice swelled beyond it.  He pulled the latch, and dropped his hand to the knob.  As he turned the knob, he was struck by the certainty that the old woman was dead.  A vision of her, lying in her bed, eyes frozen open, staring out at the darkness, flashed before him. 

A roar and something pushed the door in.  It cracked his forehead; his teeth clenched on his tongue, and he flew backward and away.  The flashlight rolled across the floor.

He sat slumped against the wall for a moment, paralyzed by the sound of the wind.  Cold rain lashed his face.  Beyond the door, blackness, void.  He tasted blood.  His mind worked slowly.  She's dead.  It's useless. He wiped the rain out of his eyes, turned and crawled across the floor to retrieve the flashlight. 

He crawled back to the doorway, braced himself, and peered out at the night.  Nothing. 

His mouth was full of blood.  Part of his tongue flapped loosely in his mouth.  The old woman was dead.  The blow to his head had made him dizzy.

Drenched, wounded, dazed, he took a knee.  The little house across the alley was a world apart.  As was the room upstairs, with the flickering candle and the woman and the dog.   

He turned off the flashlight.  No man would risk it.  Not in this world of darkness, confusion, and lamentation.  

Sandy howled, triumphant.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What it's about

Five and a half years ago --1924 days, more precisely -- I started this blog.  In that time and with this post there are 1180 published pieces.   One post for every 1.6 days.  Some of them good.  Some of them not-so-good.  All of them from the heart and as true as I could make them.

It's been hard, lately.  Inspiration is a rare visitor these days, cold-blooded determination his poor substitute.  But if you're going to write, you've got to write every day.  So long as the pulse beats,  the body is not dead.

When people learn that I write a blog, they often ask "What's it about?"  But that's a question I can't really answer.  What's your favorite movie?  What's your favorite book?  Who's your favorite musician?  The question doesn't really make sense.

I can characterize some of the content.  Politics, of course, and social issues.  Books and movies.  Friends and family.  A lot of navel-gazing.  More than I care to admit.  One or two verses that I'm not ashamed of, and a lot more that I am.  And the stuff I like best and that is the most fun to write --the stuff about what it is like to live here, in this time, in this place.

That's what is in it.  That's what's in this blog.  But is that what it's about?  I don't know. 

It doesn't matter anyway.  Shakespeare's wicked and desolate Scottish thane will always say it best:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death;

Out! Out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow,
A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And is heard no more;

It is a tale, told by an idiot,
Full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Movie review: Cloud Atlas

The publicity surrounding the release of Cloud Atlas, the collaborative cinematic adaptation of David Mitchell's most famous novel, is considerable.  Whoever it was that Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski pitched their film to has deep pockets.  You've heard of it, right?  The trailers run on the squawk box with frequency, and there's been considerable gossip in entertainment rags and the like.

I admit, after a year of mostly futile yammering at friends and coworkers about Cloud Atlas, the novel, I hoped the film would vindicate my enthusiasm.  Films are, by their nature, more accessible than novels, and a well-done film would raise interest in this great new author that I maintain is destined to live beyond our time.

So, is Cloud Atlas, the film, one of those rarest of gems?  A successful adaptation of a novel? 

I'll answer that directly.  But first, let me discuss the film as a film.

Some of the film's elements were excellent.  The set of the Luisa Rey story, 70s California, was true.  That is a time and region in my memory, and this part of the flick brought it right back to me.  On the other hand, the futuristic set in the Soonmi-451 story didn't quite work.  It lacked depth and brought to mind a mediocre Star Wars ripoff. 

The acting was another success.  All the principle cast members played multiple roles, and it is a star-studded cast:  Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, and Hugo Weaving, among others.  Tom Hanks demonstrated his enormous, versatile talent, but I felt he was miscast.  I'll come back to that in a bit.

So, in answer to my question, did Cloud Atlas succeed in transition from book to film?  --I'm afraid not.

My objections are mostly aesthetic.

Cloud Atlas, the novel, succeeded in no small part because of its ground-breaking structure.  It is 6 stories, nested within each other.  Each story has subtle similarities with the others.  Cloud Atlas, the film, tells the 6 stories simultaneously, switching between them scene to scene.  With the novel, the effect is jarring and intriguing.  With the film, it is confusing.  For viewers unfamiliar with the book, the constant shifting between stories might well bewilder.  Still, hats off to them for making the attempt, and I wouldn't say the technique kills the film.

The novel is about souls being reborn in different times and settings.  And this is the justification, I suppose for having the actors play multiple roles.  That's alright, I guess.  But I found myself distracted by it.  Puzzling out which character in each story was Hugh Grant, for example.  Or Jim Broadbent.  (I didn't have much trouble with Halle Berry, though...)

Casting Tom Hanks as Zakry meant that film-Zakry be an altogether different character than book-Zakry.  Even make-up wizards can only do so much to make a middle-aged actor look young.  It was probably a financial decision.  Having Tom Hanks at the top of the bill no doubt converts to millions of dollars at the box office.  And he's a great actor.   But these kinds of compromises get out of hand very quickly.

And in the end, there were too many of them.  Alterations to the story range from innocuous --Luisa Rey is black rather than hispanic --to unforgiveable --off-world colonies and Abolitionist conversions.

The producers made a choice, it seems. And they chose to dilute.  The concocted happy endings, made (I assume) to soothe the sensibilities of emotionally-fragile viewers, end up watering down the poignancy --the joy and horror and sorrow --that David Mitchell created in his novel.

Read the book, people.  If you want to know David Mitchell, you've got to read the book.  The film is "David Mitchell Lite."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Legalize the ganj! Yes on 80

Among the decisions that Oregonians will make in this election is whether or not to legalize the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana.  Measure 80, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, would legalize and regulate adult use of cannabis throughout the state.  I advocate a "Yes" vote.

The arguments in favor are myriad.
  • Oregon spends somewhere around $2 million per year to process incarceration and probation for marijuana offenders.  When you consider how financially strapped our state is regarding education and library funding and infrastructure maintenance, this seems to be a colossal waste of money.
  • According to NORML, a long-time advocacy organization, marijuana is Oregon's fourth largest cash crop in terms of revenue.  Marijuana cultivation yields about $240 million production dollars each year.  An industry with that kind of lucre is a potential revenue source for the state.  As it stands now, all that money evaporates into the black market.  
  • Marijuana has well-established medicinal value.  It is used to treat depression and glaucoma and to treat the effects of chemotherapy among many other uses.
  • Hemp (marijuana low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)) consists of fibers that make it useful as a textile and durable paper.
  • Unlike many perscription drugs and alcohol there is not a single documented case of a fatal overdose from marijuana.
Old myths die hard, but the idea that marijuana is a "gateway drug" leading to harder, more dangerous drugs is completely without merit.  We all know people who smoke dope and we all know people who drink heavily.  In our individual experiences, how many lives have we seen ruined by (illegal) marijuana?  How about by (legal) alcohol?  Be honest.

As I've stated before, I use marijuana regularly.  Although I don't have a legal prescription (I'm not paying for a damned card, for heaven's sake) I consider my usage medicinal.  (At least partly.)  Marijuana is a natural medicine that makes me more tolerant and patient and, frankly, more pleasant to be around.  I fail to see how it is any more dangerous than prescribed anti-depressants or anxiety medicines or any of the other crap that gets peddled on the squawk-box nowadays.  

The one legitimate concern about legalizing ganja is that, by doing so, the state of Oregon would put itself in direct conflict with federal law.  But federal law needs to change.  Period.  And when you consider that other states defy federal law in much more egregious ways (suppressing minority votes, illegal uses of federal lands) Oregon's potential transgression seems trivial.

Opponents of marijuana legalization sometimes worry that it would encourage youngsters to experiment.  Take, for example, the woman selling ceramics and pottery whom I ran into at the Oregon State Fair a few years back.

I saw her booth near the beer garden.  She was a middle-aged woman, with wire frame glasses, dishwater hair, and a hard set to her mouth.  Inside a glass case were ceramic dragons, vases, mugs, dishware.  "Do you have any bongs?" I asked her.

"This is a family place!" she said, outraged.

Behind us, in the beer garden, a band was playing loudly.  Someone in the drunken crowd let out a whoop and shouted some incoherency.  "Family place, huh?" I asked. "Right next to the beer garden?"

"Most people quit pot when they grow up," she sneered.

I grinned.  "You got me there."

She didn't respond.

Vote Yes on 80.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tears in the rain

Steeple at St. Stephen's
The rain held off as I stepped into Walgreens.  Coltrane dazzled in the ear buds.  Back to the back, where are the shelves of over-the-counter treatments.  Never mind.

Someone harangued the store manager.  A bald man, inky flames scaling up the back of his neck.  Rainy fury pelted the parking lot.  I paused under the awning.  Maybe it'll let up in a bit.

A woman in a shabby jacket passed before me sobbing.  Her face twisted in despair, she wailed to the weeping sky.  "I can't believe he did that."  She sagged against the bricks outside the door.

Inky Neck came out.  I paused, ear buds halfway to the ears.  Inky Neck and Shabby Jacket exchanged harsh words.  They knew each other well.  Something about a van.  Something about a promise.  "I told you back in Texas..." said Inky Neck.  "You don't care, do ya?" Shabby Jacket shouted.  The battle joined, she wept no longer. 

Profanities flew as an elderly woman pushed a walker from car to Walgreens door.  I wondered if we might have a problem on our hands.  A fussilade of profanity from both parties, then they parted.  Shabby Jacket fled in one direction,  Inky Flames stomped, cursing in the other.

"How'd ya like listenin' to all that?" asked the elderly woman, rolling her eyes.  I shrugged.  "What're ya gonna do?"

The rain did not let up.  Across the parking lot, Inky Neck shouted into a cell phone, his voice rose above the noise of the traffic.

"You got a light?"   asked Shabby Jacket.  I turned.  She was older up close.  Harder.  I had a green Bic in my hoodie pocket.  She saw me reach.  "Let me get a smoke," she said.  She pulled a cigarette from her jacket.  A wrinkled, single.  She held it to her lips.  I spun the striker wheel and applied the flame.  "It's been a day," she said, exasperated.

"They all are," I said.  Meaningless, but it was all I could come up with.  She frowned and turned away.

The rain hammered.  F*ck it, I'm going.

Ear buds in.  Neil Young Live at Massey Hall.  Bend the head, hunch the shoulders, and don't stop for nothing.  Past the county library.  Cross Cesar Chavez and skirt the Fred Meyer parking lot.  Straight down 38th for the crosswalk across Hawthorne outside Key Bank.  Hoodie growing heavier by the minute.

Five paces from the crosswalk another weeping woman passed before me to stand uncertainly at the curb. Youthful and beautiful, she reminded me of the Irish girl I knew.  Her hair was dark and she wore it short, like the Irish girl did.  She stood in the rain without a hat or jacket.  Tears coursed down her face.  Her tiny mouth trembled at the corners.  I passed her and entered the crosswalk.  The traffic stopped and she followed me across.  We parted ways at the south curb.  She drifted away toward Pepinos.  I was hellbent for home.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Debate III: Romney's in trouble

Last night's debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton --the final debate of the campaign between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama --was a complete rout in favor of the President.  Romney didn't even put up a fight.  He mailed it in.

There's no point in trying to examine the merits of each man's foreign policies. Romney presented none.  He made no pretense of doing so. 

President Obama came out swinging.  His answers throughout the debate were aggressive.  The "horses and bayonets" remark, for example.  He challenged Romney.  He needled Romney.  He bore down on Romney with an intense and unrelenting gaze. He made Romney seem small.  I don't care who you are, when the President of the United States puts the Evil Eye on you, you will be rattled.

But Romney offered no resistance.  He hung back.  He riffed on a couple favorites out of the Tea Party songbook:  "apology tour," "throw Israel under the bus," etcetera.  But it lacked substance. 

Check this bit from his opening statement:
And — and we’re going to have to recognize that we have to do as the president has done. I congratulate him on — on taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in al-Qaeda.

But we can’t kill our way out of this mess. We’re going to have to put in place a very comprehensive and robust strategy to help the — the world of Islam and other parts of the world, reject this radical violent extremism, which is — it’s certainly not on the run.
"But we can't kill our way out of this mess?"  From a Republican!  And what's with the "congratulat[ing] the president?"  The Tea Party masses crave outright contempt!  But Romney wasn't playing to them.  Hold that thought.

President Obama was at his most intense last night.  Driven, unrelenting.  He came out for the kill and he carved Romney up good.  His command of the facts was indisputable.  It was an impressive performance.  The contrast in stature between the two men was glaring. 

Romney has no foreign policy.  That's apparent.  It is also apparent that, after his big success in Denver, Romney's played out.  He's tapped. 

Political analysts sometimes characterize elections as "base" elections.  That is, the results of the election hinge on which side gets better turnout from its base, its partisan supporters.  Up to now, the 2012 election has been deemed to be a "base" election.  And Romney played it that way throughout the primaries. 

But Romney's performance at the third debate was different.  It seemed aimed to appease moderates --people like the woman at the debate in Long Island who feared a return to the policies of Junior Bush.  At this late date, Romney is trying to reach new voters rather than stoke up his base.  Might that indicate that Romney believes he can't win as things currently stand?

If that's the case, Romney is in trouble.  His performance at this debate --a debate viewed by over 50 million people --clearly demonstrated how unprepared he is to be President of the United States.  He tried to seem moderate, but ended up seeming weak.  That'll kill enthusiasm from the rednecks.  And it sure as hell won't win over any moderates.

I won't be surprised if on election night we learn that Romney hit his high water mark two weeks ago.  And that, for Romney, it's all downhill from here.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

2012 Ballot

Last night, I promised that by today, October 22, my Multnomah County-issued ballot would be completed and mailed.  Today I attest that it is so.

Thanks to the folks at Our Oregon and to the Working Families Party for compiling information that I found useful

Here's how I voted:


US President:  Barack Obama, Democrat

Yesterday, I explained my reasoning.  I don't even know if reasoning plays into it, frankly.  At some level, politics is tribal.  You can deny it.  But you're lying to yourself if you do.

Representative in Congress, 3rd District:  Earl Blumenauer, Democrat

I'm proud to have Earl as my representative in Congress.  Earl's ethos reflects that of his constituency.  That'll keep you in your job.

Secretary of State:  Kate Brown, Democrat

Progressives were running ads against Kate, claiming she over-zealously disqualified signatures on certain ballot initiatives.  I say it might not be such a bad idea to set the initiative bar a little higher.  (Bill Sizemore, anyone?  Kevin Mannix?)

And, Libertarians, don't shriek at me about Oregon's sacred initiative process.  I'm as much or more Oregonian than any of you.  I take a back seat to no one in advocating for our populism and independence.

Treasurer:  Ted Wheeler

Wheeler is a Democrat, endorsed by my party, the Working Families Party.  That's good enough for me.

Attorney General:  Chris Henry, Progressive

Honestly, I don't know anything about Chris Henry, other than that he is a member of the Progressive party, and he's not Ellen Rosenblum.  Rosenblum is guaranteed to win and that's fine.  It could certainly be worse.  But in the primary, it was clear to me that Dwight Holden was the better candidate. 

(And isn't Mr. Henry a shy fellow?  I couldn't find a photo of him to post.)

State Representative, 42nd District:  Jules Kopel Bailey

Jules ran unopposed.

Labor Commissioner:  Brad Avakian

Avakian is labor-friendly and seems a likeable fellow. 

Supreme Court, Position 3:  Richard Baldwin

Appointed by Governor Kitzhaber.  That's endorsement enough for me.

Court of Appeals, Position 6: Tim Volpert

Endorsed by Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici as well as the Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37. 

Portland Mayor:  Charlie Hales

I originally supported Charlie's opponent, Jefferson Smith.  (Indeed, I endorsed Smith back in April.)  Since then, I've had a change of heart.  I've met Jefferson Smith several times and he always impresses.  He's driven and purposeful.  But I always came away from those encounters feeling like I'd been fast-talked.  I hope we'll hear from Jefferson again.  I think he has a future.  In 2012, however, I'm voting for Charlie Hales.  His years of experience in City Hall make it more likely he can address the real problems we're facing in the Rose City.
City Commissioner Pos 1:  Amanda Fritz

Amanda is a registered nurse and she's got a long list of good endorsements, including that of the Oregon Progressive Party.


East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Director at Large:  Rick Till

According to his blurb in the Oregon Voter's Pamphlet, Rick's got good green values.  That works for me.


East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Director, Zone 1:  Bob Sallinger

He ran unopposed. I consider my vote for him a "Go get 'em, tiger" encouragement.  And I dig the long, frazzled hair  Wave that freak flag high, says I.


  • Measure 77 Revision to responses to catastrophic disasters

    Yes.  This is a referral by the legislature.  It grants a bit more authority to the governor by allowing him to call a special session of the legislature during emergencies.  Seems reasonable. 

  • Measure 78 Changes terminology in the state Constitution for the three state government branches

    Yes. Another legislature referral.  A house-keeping measure.

  • Measure 79 Would ban real estate transfer taxes

    No.  This measure is being pushed by the real estate industry.  It aims to preclude any future real estate transfer taxes.  Only one county in the state has such a tax.  Lobbyists and the real estate industry spent millions of dollars trying to get this passed.  I guess they're trying to inoculate themselves from having to contribute to their communities.

  • Measure 80 Would create a cannabis commission to regulate the cultivation and sale of cannabis.

    Yes.  I'll write more about this in a future post.  Meantime, see here or here.

  • Measure 81 Bans Columbia River commercial salmon fishing with gillnets by non-tribal persons, allows seine nets instead.

    No.  Governor Kitzhaber announced a plan to work with state agencies to "stem" the use of gillnets.  The governor's plan will be more refined and attuned to the various interests than is this measure. 

  • Measure 82  Authorizes establishment of privately-owned casinos.

    No.  The folks behind "The Grange" created a lot of slick, persusasive advertising, but Oregonians saw through it.  Notice that those Grange ads aren't running on the squawk-box anymore.  The polls have shown this measure and its twin (see below) to be dead in the water.

  • Measure 83 Authorizes Multnomah County casino

    No.  See above.
  • Measure 84  Phases out estate and inheritance taxes.

    No.  Plutocratic absolution of responsibility.  That's what is behind this measure.  Oregon Republicans are a day late and a dollar short, as usual.  If they'd put this measure up in 2010, it probably would have passed.  I don't think it'll fly now.  We'll see.
  • Measure 85 Allocates corporate income/excise tax "kicker" refund to additionally fund K through 12 public education

    Yes.  Our schools need funding.  I'm tired of tax breaks for corporations while we can't fund sports, arts, music or anything else in our public schools.
County measures
  • 26-143 Forms library district to fund libraries 

    Yes.  We need stable funding for our libraries.

  • 26-144 Portland public school bonds 

    Yes.  More money for schools.  It is high time we started investing in our future.  What do you want, Portland? 

  • 26-145 Changes provisions for Fire/Police disability retirement system 

    Yes. I voted this way because, in the voter's pamphlet there was only one argument in favor and none in opposition.

  • 26-146 Restores school arts and music education through limited tax 

    Yes.  I'll put my money where my mouth is.  This measure, if passed, will cost Maty and me $70 per year.  A small price to pay for exposing kids to arts and music.

Well, there it is.  If you disagree, fire at will.  If you agree, get that ballot in the mail!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A realist pitch for Obama

My official ballot, issued by the Multnomah County Director of Elections, arrived yesterday with the mail.  On the morrow, it'll be filled out, sealed, stamped and on its way back.  In a future post, I'll write up where I came down on everything.

Tonight, I want to make a pitch for President Obama.

I'm a realist.  I've got a lengthy list of disappointments in the Obama administration.

Right at the top is the way in which the administration has expanded authoritarian, constitutionally-questionable powers to conduct warfare and counter-terrorism operations.  Drone assassinations, indefinite detentions, illegal imprisonments --all the stuff initiated by the (Junior) Bush administration in the wake of 911 --it's dangerous and appalling.   I had hopes, at one time, that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder might really get to the bottom of the myriad and obvious crimes of the Bush administration. Today, admitting to such naivete is embarrassing!  Not only has the Obama administration failed to hold anyone from the previous administration accountable, but has continued apace with some of its most egregious abuses of power.  Frankly, that sucks and is nearly unforgivable.

There was also health care reform.  Rather than really reform heath care by making it truly universal and lowering costs by cutting out the health insurance middle men, the administration worked to ensure that the biggest beneficiaries of the Affordable Health Care Act were health insurance companies.

And, of course, in 2010, when Democrats everywhere were facing an angry Tea Party uprising, the President stayed detached.  Rather than risk political capital, the Obama administration mostly hung back and let the Red Wave roll.  A bitter pill for Democrats who risked everything to further the President's agenda.

These and other issues have tempered my support of the President.

But I'm still voting for him.

His administration really has achieved some progressive goals.  Homosexuals can now serve openly in the military.  We have two moderate Supreme Court justices, Justice Kagan and Justice Sotomayor, who will influence the Court for many years to come.  US troops are out of Iraq.  And, for all its faults, the Affordable Care Act is an improvement over what came before, when insurance companies denied claims by citing "pre-existing conditions." 

But the biggest reason I'm voting for Obama is this:  The Republican party as it exists today is a cancer on the nation.     

When you consider how the GOP has insulted and debased this President from the very beginning, it is clear how much the party relies on bigotry and ignorance --the birth certificate "issue," the claims about his heritage, the questioning of his legitimacy despite having won a national election by a decisive margin.  There are many racists (as well as misogynists) in the Republican party. 

And then there are the plutocrats seeking to absolve themselves of any responsibility toward the country or toward humanity.  Romney is one of those.  To them, taxes are for the little people.  To them, regulations that protect air and water, that prohibit financial swindlers from betting against their clients, do nothing but get in the way of profits.

The fatalistic truth, as I see it, is this:  republic leads to empire.  Eventually, even these United States will succumb to their own corruption.  History confirms it at every turn.  So, we're on a one-way street and that's just the way it is.  By voting for Obama, I'm voting to slow the transition.  

Obama 2012!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Islamophobia comes to Portland

Pamela Geller's soon-to-appear-on-Trimet message
Nothing gets me more fired up than raging ignorance dressed up as patriotism.  Unfortunately, there's a lot of that these days.

Check this story from Oregon Live:

Anti-Islamic ad being posted on TriMet vehicles because transit agency is locked in by court ruling

As stated in the story, the provocative ad is from the so-called American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is an anti-Islamic group.  It's leader, Pamela Geller, does the redneck lecture circuit, preaching hate to the yahoos.

So what kind of a woman is Pamela Geller? Let her speak for herself:
  • "Islam is the most antisemitic, genocidal ideology in the world."

  • "Obama is a third worlder and a coward. He will do nothing but beat up on our friends to appease his Islamic overlords. All this is going down while Obama plays footsie at his nuclear nonsense campfire -- sucking up to Iran's enablers while beating up our allies."
  • "It is well known that Obama allegedly was involved with a crack whore in his youth. Very seedy stuff. Why aren't [the media] pursuing that story? Find the ho, give her a show! Obama allegedly trafficked in some very deviant practices. Where's the investigation? . . . Back in the early 80's, there were only two reasons to travel to Pakistan. Jihad or drugs. I think he went for the drugs and came back with jihad."
  • "Jews refuse to get on Obama's Trains". . . "Obama is pressuring Jews to "evacuate" from parts of Israel? And what Warsaw ghetto does the muhammadan [sic] president have in mind? I think I am gonna hurl. The Jews will not go. The Jews will not submit to this century's nazis [sic] and Mansourian poser."
  • (On the passage of health care): "The moochers and the looters*, the crooks and degenerates voted at 1 am this morning to rip the constitution to shreds, to rape the American people and to nationalize medicine."
  • Repeatedly accuses Obama of being a Muslim: Geller's blog contains 267 posts tagged "Muslim in the White House?"
  • Geller claims that "devout Muslims should be prohibited from military service" because she believes that Adolf Hitler and Nazism were inspired by Islam.
  • In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Norway committed by Anders Breivik, she claimed that the young people killed were bound to become "leaders of the party responsible for flooding Norway with Muslims who refuse to assimilate, who commit major violence against Norwegian natives including violent gang rapes, with impunity, and who live on the dole." 
*Note the Ayn Rand terminology.  Geller is a Rand disciple.
Pamela Geller
Geller claims that her organization is pro-Israel, but American Jewish groups see it differently.  Here's what the Jewish Community Relations Council and the American Jewish Committee had to say about the ads:
"We are steadfast in our support of Israel and our concern about the growing threat of Islamic radicalism, and steadfast in our opposition to anti-Muslim stereotypes."
Not that this statement gives Geller any pause, of course.   I don't know what kind of money there is to be made in peddling anti-Muslim hate speech, but at the very least, she gets lots of public attention.

If she was really pro-Israel, one might be inclined to believe that she'd have something to say about that Nazi group that tried to establish itself in John Day a while back.  But, no.  Nary a word about that.  I guess Nazis just don't stir redneck passions like Muslims.

There's nothing to be done about it.  Free speech is protected by the Constitution.

But I'll tell you this, as the spouse of a practicing Muslim:  Geller's gum-flapping puts me on dangerous ground.  Because the first time someone insults my wife in my presence, there will be consequences.  I can guarantee that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Debate II: In the end, I'd call it an ass-whipping

The stakes were high tonight. On the cable news talkie shows, the tension was thick as warm springs fog.  National polls suggest the race hangs by a thread.  Both men were under enormous pressure. But when they entered the hall at Hofstra University in New York, I thought Obama looked more at ease. Romney seemed stiff. To be on that stage at all, you'd have to have nerves of steel, but you could see the tension in each man's face and in the set of his shoulders. 

It was a fascinating debate.  Both men were aggressive and at the top of their game. Romney's behavior, interrupting the President and moderator Candy Crowley, attempting to control the flow of the debate (as he did so successfully in the first debate), bordered on plain rudeness. But in the end, Obama won not because he is a better orator (although he is) but because Romney has nothing to offer as an alternative.

After watching the debate, my opinion of Candy Crowley improved a thousandfold. You've got to be tough to stand up to two alpha males like those, and she did it. She wouldn't let either man bully her. Impressive. 

Throughout the debate and almost without regard to the question being asked, Romney continued to fall back on the same single-note refrain: Lower tax rates to help businesses, which will then hire more people. When more people have jobs, other problems like spiking college tuition costs or unequal pay for women will, through the natural course of events, take care of themselves. Well, call it what you want, but it still adds up to the same thing: Trickle-down economics.

The most laughable moment for me came when Romney attempted to explain how his tax plan will benefit middle-income earners. Quoth he:

"But your rate comes down and the burden also comes down on you for one more reason, and that is every middle-income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. No tax on your savings. That makes life a lot easier."

I swear, I laughed out loud when I heard that remark. I mean, who the f*ck earns capital gains?  (Answer:  Romney.  And lots of 'em.)

Another slap-your-forehead moment came when Romney, attempting to reassure women that he gives a sh*t about them, related the anecdote about filling his cabinet as Governor of Massachusetts.

"I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks,' and they brought us whole binders full of women."

This remark has spawned a lot of jeering on the internet and for good reason. But I was somewhat sympathetic when he followed with this:

"And - and so we - we took a concerted effort to go out and find women..."

That line describes the behavior of myself and my fraternity brothers every weekend throughout my college days.

Throughout the debate, the President called out Romney's Tea Party werewolf. The President pressed his advantage with women by bringing up the Lily Ledbetter bill and Romney's lack of support for it and by pointing out that Romney called for an end to Planned Parenthood funding. The President pressed his advantage with Latinos by pointing out that one of Romney's top advisors is the author of the odious Arizona "Papers, please" legislation. Latinos no les gusta Romney.

Soon thereafter, came this (abridged) exchange on Libya:

Obama:  The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

Romney: I think interesting the president just said something which - which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

Obama:  That's what I said.

Romney:  I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

Obama:  Get the transcript.

Crowley: He did in fact, sir.

Egg on face, Mitt. You could see by the way Romney pounced that he was going in for the kill. But it flopped. Candy Crowley did an on-the-spot fact check and nailed Romney. Impressive job, Candy.

Romney also got burned when Crowley pointed out that, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed an assault weapons ban. You can imagine that revelation gave a few Tea Parties some acid reflux

When a question came up about outsourcing, Romney tap danced with a cryptic explanation of currency policy. But the question was about outsourcing, Mitt! A weak response made all the weaker when Obama pointed out that media reports called Romney's businesses "pioneers of outsourcing."

But the knock-out punch came with the last question of the evening. "What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and a candidate? Using specific examples, can you take this opportunity to debunk that misperception and set us straight?"

Romney went first: "I care about 100 percent of the American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to have a bright and prosperous future. I care about our kids. I understand what it takes to make a bright and prosperous future for America again. I spent my life in the private sector, not in government. I'm a guy who wants to help with the experience I have, the American people."

First of all, Romney is hardly credible when he claims to have empathy for the lower classes.  Nothing in his governance, personality, or lifestyle lend any credence to that idea. And he just doesn't have the charisma to pull off an "I feel your pain" argument. But his biggest mistake was mentioning the "100 percent."  You can be sure that he was prepped before the debate to have a response if the President mentioned Romney's disastrous "47 percent" remarks. But because Romney went first, he teed the President up for a big finish.

And I quote: "I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about. Folks on Social Security who've worked all their lives. Veterans who've sacrificed for this country. Students who are out there trying to hopefully advance their own dreams, but also this country's dreams. Soldiers who are overseas fighting for us right now. People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don't make enough income.

And I want to fight for them. That's what I've been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.

When my grandfather fought in World War II and he came back and he got a G.I. Bill and that allowed him to go to college, that wasn't a handout. That was something that advanced the entire country. And I want to make sure that the next generation has those same opportunities. That's why I'm asking for your vote and that's why I'm asking for another four years."


Big Obama win.  On to November!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Big debate tonight

Twenty days to Election Day and the second presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney is scheduled to occur tonight at Hofstra University in New York.

It's a big event.

National polls are all over the place.  The two candidates are within one to three points of each other at the national level according to nearly every poll I've seen.  President Obama appears to have a slight advantage in the so-called swing states, but with the numbers this close, nothing seems solid.  In fact, there are enough polls out there with so many different assessments that you can build a case to show either candidate to be winning or losing.  (I rely exclusively on Nate Silverman and the FiveThirtyEight blog.  According to Mr. Silverman, at this moment President Obama has a 66% chance of winning the election.)

I took a gander through my blog entries from four years ago to see how things seemed back then.  And at this point in the 2008 election cycle, candidate Obama seemed to be cruising to victory over John McCain.  Of course, in 2008, the country was reeling from a financial meltdown; an economic crisis that recalled the Great Depression.  We were war-weary and disgusted and frightened.  President Junior, in his eight blighted years in office, sustained the largest single terrorist attack on our homeland, oversaw the drowning of a major American city, launched two fruitless wars (including the illegal invasion of a sovereign state), and destroyed our economy.  In short, he dealt John McCain a sh*t hand.  Obama and the Democrats didn't have to do anything to convince people to vote for them.  The need for change was evident everywhere you looked.

It's a different story this time around.  The bloom has come off the Obama rose.  We're still in Afghanistan, over a year after the President promised we'd be out.  The expansion of an authoritarian state --begun by Bush --where persons can be imprisoned, tortured, withheld counsel, and even summarily murdered by executive order has continued full-throttle.  Unemployment is high.  Gas prices are through the roof.  No one in the Bush administration has been made to pay for its crimes.

Despite all the soaring rhetoric of 2008, in many ways, President Obama has not delivered.  And, in the first debate, when he was given a prime opportunity to defend his record, reassure voters, and explain how he intends to address their concerns, he delivered a lackluster performance.  Michael Tomasky, Robert Reich, and other political observers have speculated that the President seemed to lack enthusiasm for a second term.

So, naturally, folks are looking at their alternatives.

But the alternative is Mitt Romney, who has problems of his own.  He's a plutocrat; a silver-spoon elite who has not the faintest idea what it is like to have to scramble to cover bills for basic needs (food, clothing, rent, gas).  The world of financial hardship, the world most of us live in every day, is a picture-book story to him.  Much like Dicken's Marquis St. Evrémonde, he seems to hold the lower classes in contempt.

He's had to compromise himself to satisfy the rabid GOP base and in doing so has alienated women and Hispanics.  His prescription for economic recovery is that old Republican chimera:  tax cuts for upper incomes.  No public investment.  No national effort for the common good.  As President Clinton said in Charlotte:  "If you want a you’re-on-your-own, winner-take-all society, you should support the Republican ticket."

There is a lot riding on the debate tonight.  Both men, Obama and Romney, are under enormous pressure.  The race to the White House seems balanced on the head of a pin.

Let's see what happens...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hunker down

As foretold, Hellos was off and away on Friday.  He'll visit only occasionally over the next 5 months.

Now are come the leaden skies that drag at the people's hearts.  They weigh on the sunny-spirited immigrant lady and the chin-scratching stoner.  Not just they.  The jolly barrista and the surly, tatooed sandwich maker.  The shaggy-browed coffee-house scribbler and the glowering doorway cigarette-smoker.  All of us here in Portland and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

It is to be endured and we endure it.  We hunker down.  We trade sardonic jokes and slurp coffee.

"How ya doin' today?"  Spend a beat to consider, then shrug.  "They ain't throwin' dirt on the box yet."  Grin.

I swear, I don't mind.  I was born under this gray, despotic sky.  As much as anything, it has made me what I am.  There is even something to love in it.

Cascadia peoples endure sorrow well.  But you musn't believe that, come the drizzly spring, our lonely hearts don't yearn.  You musn't believe it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Veep debate: Biden comes through

The 2012 vice-presidential debate tonight in Danville, Kentucky, looked to me like a clear victory for Joe Biden.  Others may have seen it differently.  I don't doubt that Republicans feel pretty good about Paul Ryan's performance as well.  The two men went eyeball to eyeball, each fighting to make himself heard, each interrupting the other.  I found it refreshing. 

Ryan held his own as far as the theater of politics goes.  The problem was that he had to articulate the policies (such as they are) of the Romney/Ryan ticket.  Romney policies are not popular.  Not even when Paul Ryan tries to explain them.

Biden scored several times.  In the abortion exchange, Ryan stated  "We don’t think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people, through their elected representatives and reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process, should make this determination."

Got that?  Ryan says that state legislatures should legislate women's reproductive health decisions.  He and Mitt Romney believes that women's rights should be subject to legislation.  We've already had a glimpse of how that might look.  Folks, they've got a problem with women voters.  I don't think this will help.

Ryan stumbled when he tried to explain the GOP policy vis-a-vis Afghanistan, as well.  Quoth he:  "And with respect to Afghanistan and the 2014 deadline, we agree with a 2014 transition. But what we also want to do is make sure that we’re not projecting weakness abroad, and that’s what’s happening here."

Huh?  He agreed with the Obama administration's goal of a complete withdrawal by 2014.   But at the same time, he objected to "projecting weakness."   What does that even mean?

While Ryan was tap-dancing around the Romney position, Biden interjected with a booming "We will leave in 2014."  I think that rattled Ryan.

Biden, for his part was letting fly with the populist rhetoric.  Red meat to this humble egalitarian.  And he hit on Romney's catastropic "47 percent" remark several times, including this response to a query posed by a military veteran:

"I would also tell him that the fact that he, this decorated soldier you talked about, fought for his country -- that that should be honored. He should not be thrown into a category of the 47 percent who don’t pay their taxes while he was out there fighting and not having to pay taxes and somehow not taking responsibility."

But the most devastating exchange came when Ryan bemoaned the perceived failure of the 2009 economic stimulus package as $900 billion of debt that produced nothing.  Biden pointed out that Ryan himself asked for millions of dollars of stimulus money for his own congressional district.  Ryan looked deflated after that exchange. 

Back in the bad old days of the Junior Bush administration, I didn't much like Biden.  I resented the extent to which he accommodated the neo-conservatives vis-a-vis the illegal invasion of Iraq.  As that bitter memory loses its sting, I've had a change of heart toward Biden.  His good-nature and avuncular manner reassures, somehow.

But there can be no doubt that Biden hit his biggest and most important goal for the night  And that is this:  Ever since Obama's poor performance in the first presidential debate, Democrats have been  moping around like beaten dogs.  Not any more.  Biden, with his vox populi rhetoric fired up the Democrats when their spirits were flagging.  Watch and see. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Summer lingers

Good times on the Willamette.  Seventy-some days since we've had rain.  Summer lingers. 

Two dozen or more people paid homage to the sunset from Tabor's brow.  Lovers, skate-boarders, dog-walkers, seekers.  West Hills were a jagged purple stencil against the guava-flesh sky.   God's face beamed out across Eternity, casting the river bridges into dusk.  The city bustled beneath a haze of dust and car exhaust. 

The sapling oak is already tall and strong.  Some of its lesser branches have been pared away.  The long, slender fingers that remain will some day be great, heavy limbs.  Strange to think about that.

Thirsty?  I wonder, is the oak tree thirsty?  Seventy-some days, after all.  But those roots run deep.  And there will be more and greater droughts to come.

The word is that the rains will begin on Friday.  From Friday until whenever.  That's the way it rolls here in Oregon.  On the Willamette River.  During these good times.  

Monday, October 08, 2012

Blind Christofer

Scurvy-plagued Columbus on phantasmal Glory gazed,
Blown across the briny deeps on waves of guilt and shame,
His righteous staff he plunged into a sand virginal white,
His sword uplifted to blind sky bore witness to God's might;

Nina, Pinta, Saint Marie conveyed his cargo well:
Those Sins we're called to purge from us to keep us out of Hell;
Columbus stowed them all beneath the shadows of the trees,
Scarlet fever, small pox brought the sinners to their knees;

Today I sit the New World's edge; there's him to thank for that;
Five hundred revolutions prove the world no longer flat;
But Paradise before him served to prove Columbus blind;
The hinterland is ravaged now; forever left behind.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Truth? Fiction?

“Memories are their own descendents masquerading as the ancestors of the present.”

This is where reading David Mitchell novels will get you.

I've been haunted by a --realization?  suspicion? --that everything is fiction.   

Truth is ethereal; a thing that cannot be grasped, like rainbows or darkness or the square root of negative one.  And since it cannot be quantified, Truth becomes malleable.  It becomes an interpretation.  Truth is the fiction we create to make sense of existence.  It is the template we impose on the world.  (Read Keith Ridgway's brilliant New Yorker piece on the matter here.) 

We all have memories.  Emotional traumas, joyous occasions, poignant or significant conversations and events in our past  --together, these things compose the sum-total of our identities.

But try discussing a shared memory with someone else, with some other witness or participant to the event.  Perceptions diverge.  Sometimes the differences are subtle, sometimes radical.  But each perception is True to its creator.

As William Blake put it:  "What seems to be, is, to those to whom it seems to be." 

Divergent truths are the editorial revisions each of us create to order our individual Universes.  We alter our Truths to arrive at a Universe that comports with what we believe.  (Or, at least, what we want to believe.) 

Remember Pilate's rhetorical question to Christ, Quid est veritas? (What is Truth?) 

Don't you find it significant that Christ did not answer?

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Debate I: A clear victory for Romney

The following are my initial impressions of the Presidential Debate that occurred between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I'm writing it from memory, less than an hour after the debate, without referring to notes or transcripts, so take it for what it is worth.

Whatever the veracity or merit of the ideas that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama put forth during the first presidential debate in Denver tonight, what mattered was the presentation.  And clearly, Romney's was the better performance. 

Mitt Romney came out feisty.  He ran roughshod over the format that Jim Lehrer set out at the beginning of the event, taking control of the debate.  He showed moxy.  He challenged the President aggressively, interrupting him on more than one occasion.  At times he seemed to bait the President.

The President, on the other hand, seemed passive. He didn't respond to Romney's aggressiveness.  He gave Romney a pass on some questionable assertions.  (I'm thinking in particular of Romney's repeated claim that the President cut $719 billion from Medicare.  You can read about the veracity of that claim here.)  As I watched the President's performance, I experienced a familiar agitation.  It was the same frustration I'd felt during the national debate over health care reform, when the administration steadfastly refused to step in and advocate a clear position.

It didn't all go Romney's way.  The President never did rise to the bait that Romney continuously dangled.  Romney no doubt hoped to elicit an angry response.  But the President is a cool customer.  Nerves of steel. 

Politics is theater.  Ideals, facts, policies --none of it matters if you don't have a script and a frontman to sell it.  Nine-tenths of the electorate believes what it will believe in spite of any facts, anyway.  I'll say this though:  this is the first time I've ever seen President Obama under-perform at the theater of politics.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Tom Metzger: last of a generation of Oregonians

Maty, Uncle Tom, and Mom (Bobbie)
Sunday, just before 3pm my great-uncle, Tom Metzger, passed after suffering a series of strokes earlier in the week.  He was 87 years old.  Tom is survived by his wife, Lois, his children, Gordon and Nancy, and his grandsons, Edward and Brian.

Tom lived all his life in Gresham, Oregon, leaving only for a stint in the United States Navy during World War II.  Like many native Oregonians, Tom was humble and pragmatic.  His Metzger heritage made him affable, self-effacing, and quick with a joke.  Metzgers are both modest and proud, and Tom was a Metzger.

Frank and Josie Metzger (seated on the right), circa 1900, presumably in or near Gresham, Oregon
Tom was the last surviving child of  my great-grandfather, Henry Franklin "Frank" Metzger.  Frank was born in Gresham in 1883, the first native-born Oregonian in my family.  Frank's people were farm folk, most recently from Kansas, but before that Michigan and Ohio.  (The first Metzgers to come to America did so in 1746; German folk from Wurtemburg.)  They came to Oregon from Kansas in the 1870s and helped to establish Gresham by clearing land, planting crops, opening businesses.  Pioneer Cemetery in Gresham is sited on a Metzger family endowment. 

In 1901, Frank Metzger married Josie Hoagland.  Josie's folk were farmers from Nebraska and Josie was a young child when they came to Oregon.  They married young.  Frank was 18 and Josie 19.  Their marriage was a long one: fifty-five years that produced 11 children, starting with Thelma in 1902 and ending with Tom in 1925.

The full roster:
  1. Thelma Irene Metzger b. April 18, 1902, Gresham, Oregon, d. November 12, 1978, Seattle, Washington 
  2. Elsie MAUDE Metzger b. July 20, 1903, Gresham, Oregon, d. June 29, 1999, Portland, Oregon 
  3. Mildred Millicent Metzger b. January 12, 1906, Gresham, Oregon, d. October 15, 1966, Everett, Washington 
  4. Henry Franklin Metzger Junior b. May 28, 1909 near Damascas, Oregon, d. November 22, 1923, Gresham, Oregon 
  5. Richard Dorson "Dick" Metzger* b. February 9, 1913, near Dasmascas, Oregon, d. June 11, 1973, Portland, Oregon 
  6. Eldon Clinton "Ed" Metzger b. July 12, 1914, Gresham, Oregon, d. August 10, 1984, Framingham, Massachusetts 
  7. William Robert "Bob" Metzger** b. May 22, 1916, Gresham, Oregon, d. December 31, 1999, Salem, Oregon 
  8. James Hoagland "Jim" Metzger b. January 14, 1918, Gresham, Oregon, d. March 19, 1984, Gresham, Oregon 
  9. Franklin WAYNE Metzger b. April 25, 1919, Gresham, Oregon, d. September 7, 1941, Maplewood, Oregon 
  10. Herbert Max "Herb" Metzger b. August 22, 1922, Gresham, Oregon, d. January 6, 2002, Boring, Oregon 
  11. Thomas Allen "Tom" Metzger b. August 11, 1925, Gresham, Oregon, d. September 30, 2012, Gresham, Oregon
Take a gander through the dates. Dates and numbers can make for dry tinder, but if you look closely, you can discern the joy and tragedy of life.  Henry, the first son, died at 14 years of age, from tuberculosis.  (There is a sad family story about the day he determined that he would not go to the hospital.  I might write it up one day.)  Maude, the second daughter, lived to be 96 years old.  Over the course of her life she saw Gresham change from a country hamlet to a thriving blue-collar city.  Ed Metzger was a veteran of World War II who saw action in the Pacific Theater. 

Metzger progeny still dwell in Oregon.  There are lots of us.  But now we're professionals and office workers rather than farmers. 

Tom's passing is the last wink of a candle flame.  The second generation of Oregon-born Metzgers has come to an end. Tom's burden was to see all his family pass before him.  I imagine it was his solace, too.

So long, Tom.  Give my regards to all your brothers and sisters.
Metzger family reunion in August 2008; Tom is standing on the right
*Dick Metzger was the husband of my great-aunt, Evalina, who passed in 2010.
**Bob Metzger was my grandfather.