Home

Triple Whammy

April 8, 2020

Three things dominated my thoughts today (covid-19 was not one of them, shockingly).

John Prine died last night (complications from coronovirus). It’s a really sad loss. I listened to him a lot during a time when I was deep into finding myself — during my first years in Davis, graduating from college, figuring out where I was going with my life, my first real adult years.  It’s a direct association — my bumpy growth, John Prine’s songs.

My boyfriend at the time (1979-ish) Brad, was a disc jockey at KDVS and had the coveted Saturday night time slot. He’d play a lot of great rock and roll from 10 to midnight, then would quiet things down between midnight and 2am and that was John Prine and Bonnie Raitt ballad time (lots of others, too, but those are two I most remember). Often Brad would say something like, “this one’s for you, Pedrohijo” (he called me Pedrohijo) and then, “Angel From Montgomery” might play. It was pretty fun.

John Prine was such a decent human being who wrote compassionately about people in real life. He was a tender poet, he cared about justice, and was a comrade in the fight against the Vietnam war. Because of terrible skin cancer that required removal of a sizable portion of his neck (about 20 years ago), his voice at the end of his life had been completely transformed to something gravely and deep.  Same songs but with a raspy, seasoned elder’s quality. If I’d have been blogging last October, I’d have written about how Jim and I cried through a good portion of his concert at the Mondavi. It was his presence, his familiar songs, his wrenching lyrics, his aging, my aging, the obvious hole in his neck. He’d aged almost cruelly, but had not lost his humanity nor humor.

I can cry easily thinking about it all.

RIP lovely man, thank you for your music.

john prine

john-prine

Whammy #2 was that Bernie Sanders suspended, as they say, his 2020 presidential bid today. Not quite dropped out, since he’s planning to stay on the ballot in the remaining states’ primaries in order to continue to amass delegates in order that he have a legitimate influence on the party platform.  That’s good. He committed to supporting Joe, who he called a decent guy, and underscored that this is a must win election. My feeling is that, by doing it this way, he maintains the enthusiasm of his dedicated base toward a worthwhile goal — all of our goals, regardless of whom we supported at any point in this race. He’ll have ample time to bring his die hard supporters along with the idea that this is about preserving the critical elements of a movement, and Joe will have ample time to integrate some of Bernie’s vision into his campaign. I hope.

All of that said.. I’m sad. I didn’t think Bernie would be able to bring along enough people to beat Trump, but I believe in him. I believe in his vision. I hate where the dems are now with an old establishment guy. Ideologically I hate it. But I think Biden, between the two of them, was going to have the better chance of winning.

I’m sad for the state of the party. State of our politics. State of our future. I believe deep, deep down we are messed up and need a redo. That’s another eleventy hundred posts.

Bernie is the real deal. I believe he’s a very decent, smart man. I hope we see a lot more of him. Here is a photo from when he was in Davis almost 4 years ago. (And remember that crazy story about how, as I waited, among the throngs on a hot spring afternoon over by the Rec Hall, for him to speak, HE and his entourage were parked across the street from OUR house, playing catch with tennis balls on the lawn outside the Senior Center. He did finally arrive to the field outside the Rec Hall and spoke for nearly two rousing, extremely inspiring hours to thousands and thousands of huge fans, of which I was a very enthusiastic one. Voted for him in that primary, proudly.)

IMG_3186

 

And, whammy #3 is Ken Burn’s 10-part documentary on the Vietnam war, which is very much on my mind. Jim and I started the series last week, and watched Part 4 last night. It’s one long, relentless gut punch. I’m absolutely fascinated, and overwhelmed with sadness at the senselessness and losses of war. Many tears during last night’s nearly 2-hour segment.

war horror

vn guitar

 

I was just entering junior high during the part of the story covered last night. While I was certainly aware of the coverage on the nightly news and the many fragments of conversation my republican parents were having about the situation in Vietnam, I wasn’t very knowledgable about what was happening. Over the decades, I got a better sense of what went on, but I’m learning a whole lot more watching this documentary than I ever knew.

In junior high, and maybe into high school, I wore a POW bracelet that honored Everett Alvarez, the first pilot shot down in the war and taken prisoner. (I thought then that I was the only one wearing his bracelet, but that is certainly not the case.) Remember these? I wonder what my parents thought of my wearing one.

pow bracelet

 

Anyway.. these sat in my head all day today..

Reflecting on unsettling eras of the past, longing so desperately for a better, more humane tomorrow.

SJM-L-VIETNAM-0914-02