Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Triumph of the Willfulness

This little ditty on NPR this morning about the Smithsonian Exhibit,  Hide and Seek, an exhibition of Gay portraiture.  Seems  Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor and Bill Donahue, President of the Catholic League is upset that taxpayer money is being used to showcase what they consider to be unacceptable art.  Here’s the link:

Gay Portraiture Exhibit  at Smithsonian.

Smithsonian Hide and Seek Website.

Its a doubled edged sword when government underwrites the creation of art. Exhibitions can confer a type of sanction  that promotes censorship  in service to state sponsored propaganda.   From my perspective that is not  the issue at stake here; but  if you listen to the audio Bill Donahue condemns museums as “liberal elite institutions”.  Mr. Donahue probably considers Hide and Seek as the latest subversive initiative by Obama’s Politburo to undermine American Family Values.

Mr. Donahue, still smarting from Andreas Serrano’s Piss Christ gets off his best shot in America’s escalating culture war by asserting that “working people, like himself, (read real Americans) don’t go to museums. He says they go to WWF wrestling matches.” He sarcastically suggests that perhaps government funding of the arts would be better spent underwriting WWF ducats for the masses. Beholden to his dogma, Mr. Donahue fails to recognize the difference between pedestrian commercial camp and artistic pursuit. He confuses the spectacle of bread and violent circus with aesthetic encounter, discovery and contemplation.

Mr. Donahue’s insistence that his position should be viewed in the same light as Muslims reaction when depictions of the Prophet Muhammad appear in visual art presentations is disingenuous.  Muslims prohibit all visual representations of the Prophet Muhammad.  The same prohibitions of promoting visual images of Jesus Christ is not a common practice of  Christian denominations.   Secular democracies also do not sanction fatwas and post bounties for jihadists to take out apostates and infidels.  That is a unique blessing of secular societies that fundamentalists, religious zealots and Mr. Donahue fail to perceive.

File this one under the dumbing down of America Series, Triumph of the Willfulness.

Walt Whitman: Calamus Poems

You Tube Music Video: Aaron (Gay American) Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man

Risk: culture, censorship, homophobia

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December 2, 2010 Posted by | art, Christianity, culture, democracy, LGBT, Muslim, photo, poetry, politics, psychology, secularism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Blue Beams

Two Blue Beams
rise in the twilight
from the dark recesses
of a scarred metropolis

astral projections
paint night clouds
in looming hues
of temporal intent

declarative beams
affirm a bold portent
of an insistent will
and timeless aspirations

one thrusting light
projects wanton determination
bequeathed from unhealed wounds
of a lacerated city

the other casts fervent hope
onto the vast celestial sea
boldly etching upon the heavens
an earnest nations highest ideals

the pillars of light
reveal the dual nature
fixing our place
in a turbulent universe

the brighter light
affirms the beneficence
of liberties eternal grace
so divinely conferred

received by a higher self
accepted with gratitude
the gracious anointing
of freedoms rich abundance

ride this beam of angry cries
conjure ghosts from a dead past
channel a full measure of resent
the light of restoration is quelled

stirred from nagging agonies
nursed righteous indignation
untreated wounds fester
the weak blue spire cannot heal

a bleak azure apparition
screams for selfish retribution
heed this dire admonition
a promised fury of
full demonic dimension

the rankled city
yearns to come together
united in communion
around these lights

drawn to the blue flames
like swirling moths
unconscious of what
compels shock and awe

earnest yearnings
flutter to exhaustion
struggle toward the light
aspires to heal in the inviting glow

transcending the fissures
of our fractured nation
the waning resolve
of a national will

a restless Zeitgeist
cannot be repressed
nor will it relinquish
its will to manifest

a city’s fondest hopes
entombed in collective memory
is foretold again
around these bold lights

entranced by the light
a solemn urban campfire
transfixed and sealed
we speak our hearts

holding hands
gnashing teeth
we bite into
our bent knees
tucked up
to sullen chests
heavy hearts
bear pains of loss
dreary tears wash
ash stained cloths
crumpled photos
dear bereavements
of faded memories
and expired hope

resolve is renewed
in bursts of pride
incendiary nationalism
suppress dissent
pummel thoughts
of perceived sedition
pump iron fists as
zealous sledgehammers
forged with conviction
in kilns of
righteous indignation
seething with infected
emotional hangovers
from prurient
tribal diatribes

these sweet sentiments
swing between the polls
of the vast pendulum’s arc
along a narrow celestial scale

too and fro
angst and expectation
ebbs and flows
in this astral assignation

the heavenly helix
a set of blue axles
a modern vision
of Ezekiel’s Wheel

the rung-less vertices
of our Jacob’s Ladder
invites all citizens
to climb again

ascend this pathway
in the company of angels
arrive transfigured
renewed again

build new cities
transcendent destinations
new Edens await
pioneers to explore

fearless pilgrims
sojourn onward
moving to secure
liberty for all

conscious stewards
of the blessed good earth
celebrate rich diversity
of all the beloved

descending back
to an expired past
is a ridged stasis
anchored in Hell

witness flitting
nostalgic phantoms
pathetic pantomimes
of histrionic fictions

the downward path
of the lesser light
tethers us to the place
we cannot leave

The upward light
abhors a hells decent
resolved to vacate
acrimony and hate

the dancing helix opens
a blue portal to heaven
don angels garb
wing upward in light

transcendence calls us
to traverse with angels
touch the luminescent hem
of God’s divine robe

Selah

You Tube Music Video:
Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring , Simple Gifts
NYC
9/11/10
jbm

September 13, 2010 Posted by | 9/11, poetry | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Reflection Pool

Yesterdays “We Are One” concert was a joy to watch. It was an event that sought to celebrate America’s rich political and cultural history. The exuberant crowd that gathered to celebrate the incoming Obama Administration reveled in the message of optimism and hope for a rebirth of an inclusive America. It was a celebration that could only occur in a country with a deep abiding commitment to democracy and the belief of a people who still believe in Americas promise and its highest ideals.

The celebrants stood near the monument honoring the “father of our country”; who led a band of revolutionaries to struggle in the cause of liberty thereby birthing the world’s first constitutional republic. The gathered stood facing the monument of ‘The Great Emancipator.” They stared into the eyes of our republics greatest sentinel that stood watch, guarding the door of liberty during its greatest time of peril preserving our more perfect union of free people who freely give their consent to be governed.

The people stomped, swayed and boogied to the music around the great malls reflection pool. Hopefully, some paused to take notice that the pool reflected an image of a great people, comprising a much greater nation. It is a nation only made whole and enriched by the wide diversity of its many parts, perplexing complexity and splendid contradictions. These are the universal characteristics that Americans share and it is how “out of many, becomes one.”

You Tube Video: Aaron Copland, Fanfare for the Common Man

Risk: democracy, a more perfect union

January 19, 2009 Posted by | democracy, elections, government, Obama | , , , | Leave a comment

Oh Happy Day

Real Americans have spoken!

Congratulations

President Elect Senator Barack Obama.

Senator Obama ran a masterful campaign.

My countrymen have chosen well.

The election is over.

The hard work begins.

We salute the winner
the American people and our democratic republic.

“With Malice toward none, with charity for all,

with firmness in the right,

as God gives us to see the right,

let us strive on to finish the work we are in,

to bind up the nation’s wounds.

Abraham Lincoln


We offer songs and celebratory film.

You tube music videos:

Edwin Hawkins Singers, Oh Happy Day!

Brooklyn Funk Essentials: The Creator Has a Master Plan

Appalachian Spring: Aaron Copeland

With Malice Towards None:

Ben Selvin and the Crooners, Happy Days are Here Again

Aretha Franklin: I Say A Little Prayer

Mavis Staples: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA (acoustic)

Risk:

healer of the breach

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Bible, democracy, elections, gospel, holiday, Obama | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Defending Our Four Freedoms

“These are times that try men souls, ‘begins Thomas Paine’s The Crisis papers. Paine wrote these lines as General Howe’s Redcoats and their paid mercenary armies of Hessian’s were chasing the rag tagged band of revolutionaries through the meadows and marshes of Hackensack, New Jersey. General Washington and the Continental Army had just lost battles in Long Island and Brooklyn. They fought the Hessians to a standstill in Harlem, then got routed in the Battle of White Plains. In order to survive Washington gave up control of Manhattan for the duration of the war; barely escaping General Howe and total destruction by slipping across the Hudson to the safety of New Jersey. Thomas Paine realized that the Revolution was in trouble. The egalitarian dream of a people yearning to be free from the shackles of monarchism and colonial rule was in dire jeopardy. America’s war for independence was on life support and the slightest added tribulation could have crushed our beloved republic while it was still in the womb of Mother Liberty waiting to be born.

Thanks to patriots like Thomas Paine the revolution survived. Paine’s clarion call to his countrymen exhorted them not to shy away from the call to struggle for liberty.  Paine writes,“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

Common Sense December 23, 1776.
The Crisis 1, Ft. Lee NJ

What an inspiration this foreign born American provides for his fellow countrymen 232 years after he has penned these words to call compatriots to action. It is with great reverence that I evoke Paine’s words hoping that it will stir my countrymen from ambivalence and apathy. Paine’s words reach across two centuries to call his countrymen to take action to defend our country from the threat of unending military conflict, economic debasement, vanishing liberty, cultural warfare and growing civil strife.

On this 232nd anniversary of our nation’s birth I call on my country’s patriots to come to the defense of our beloved country for which so many gave the last true measure of their devotion. This day is not about presidents, political parties, social classes, religious affiliation, generals or statesmen. This day is about the American people. This day is about our ideals, values, faith and the actions and sacrifices we are prepared to make to protect these values to guard our liberties. All societies are judged by what they value and uphold. America’s values are a bright beacon for the world. America is a nation of laws.

We are a participatory democracy. We uphold freedom of expression and the free practice of faith. America is a country of opportunity. America is a country of free people. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms offers fundamental freedoms humans “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear are values we must jealously guard with constant vigilance. Our freedom does not consist in our ability to choose from six different brands of breakfast cereals. Freedom to consume what we choose to purchase is not the liberty that we are speaking about.

Our freedoms cannot be devalued to reside in a Dollar Store discount bin. Our freedoms are beyond a value recognized by a bar code scanner at Wal-Mart. Our freedoms were purchased by generations of struggle and hardship on battlefields, factory shop floors, class rooms, pioneer trails, Native American reservations, cotton fields, company board rooms, inventor’s tools shops and in so many everyday extraordinary places. Our country is confronted with great challenges to the economic security of the people. We are threatened by crisis’s in devalued housing prices, rising prices for gas and energy, creeping inflation for foodstuffs and uncertain credit and labor markets.  Patriots must come together to share responsibility to solve these problems and equitably share access to our country’s resources and abundant bounty to assure freedom from want for everyone.

American’s freedoms are based on law. We are a country of laws. Our law is based on constitutional rights guaranteed to all citizens. That right includes trail by a jury of our peers and the right of habeas corpus. We do not practice vigilante justice or the right of the stronger. The genius of our constitution is that it confers no special privilege to the strong and extends the same rights and protection to the weak. As a nation of laws we allow no gulags or special prisons. We uphold the right of trials for individuals and the Supreme Courts decision that ruled Gitmo unconstitutionally withheld this right was an affirmation of this American ideal. Patriots guard their civil liberties and fight to protect these liberties for their countrymen. As patriots we must ask why America imprisons more people then anywhere else in the world; and why are these people primarily people of color?

Freedom of expression extends to unpopular ideas, faiths and beliefs. Subversive ideas run counter to the norm, the prevailing state of conditions. If people surmise that the prevailing state of being is intolerable subversion is well advised. What some consider subversive today becomes the law of the land in the future that enriches the liberty of everyone. Abolition of slavery, women suffrage, 40 hour work week, ending of Jim Crow laws, social security and environmental protection laws were all once considered subversive. Who among us today denies how these movements extended freedom for all Americans; and upheld our country as an example for freedom loving people throughout the world?

The FISA law is a threat to individual’s right to privacy, speech and free association. Patriots must work to protect these freedoms. Freedom from fear can only be realized through the courage carried in all patriots’ hearts.  FISA is born from fear and begets fear. American’s are not fearful people. It is our birthright to be free from fear.  FDR exhorted his countrymen to action to meet the challenges of The Great Depression with the reminder that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” How prescient is this advice for American’s today?

Our country was the crowning political expression of the Age of Enlightenment. Ours is a land of opportunity. America values and rewards risk takers and entrepreneurship but opportunity is not solely defined by the ability and talent for acquisition and control of hard assets. Opportunity is an egalitarian idea where society offers all people the basic tools to succeed and thrive. Those include education, health, safety and equality of access. Blind pursuit and acquisition of wealth is a poor mans treasure. Freedoms value is not measured by the ledgers of commerce but what people will sacrifice in the service of their country. America’s celestial balance sheet of service and liberty has enriched our nation beyond all measure.

Real patriotism is not demonstrated by wearing a lapel pin, flying flags from your side car windows or claiming with bravado that America can conquer the world with its army. Real patriots dutifully serve on jury duty when they are called. They make it a point to vote in elections and take time to study the issues and deliberate the problems that confront our nation. Patriots make their voices heard in the marketplace of ideas and listen to the voice of others and respect the right of dissenters to freely express theirs.

Patriots don’t exploit low information voters. They don’t guide them to a decision with clichés and guile that appeal to baser instincts and prejudices. Nor do they use obfuscation and empty symbolism to cloud issues to confer power to a stronger party. Patriots protect the weak, speak truth and place the interests of our country above party interests. Patriots need to be conscious stewards of our land.

We honor our founding fathers enduring contribution to our republic because they created and framed our constitution. We can make an enduring contribution to the future generations of Americans by protecting and preserving the natural beauty of this country. We cannot ground down our purple mountain majesties to crumbling bits of rubble to squeeze out the last bits of shale oil. Nor can we drill in Anwar and lose our abundant natural bounty of beauty nor drill off the continental shelf to forever stain our shining seas. We must believe and understand that America is a sustainable dream that can be lived by our many generations that follow. Patriots need to employ our God given talents of industry, diligence; focus and creativity to solve our energy problems to wean ourselves from our dependency on fossil fuels and create an energy infrastructure to assure that the next century continues to be America’s century.

Patriotism requires commitment to our unique social contract. Lady Liberty asks the world to send us your poor huddled masses yearning to be free. We cannot wall off our ideals to others and must join the community of nations as a sovereign dignitary and light to the world. Patriots affirm in practice that indeed America is a special place. America guarantees all citizens equal access and the rights and privileges of all its citizens.  The full enfranchisement of our LGBT citizenry is the civil rights struggle of our day.  All freedom loving patriots who love liberty must stand to achieve those rights for all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation.  Patriots must become mentors, teachers, Sunday school instructors, coaches, helpers to the poor and homeless to insure that our social contract is a rock solid commitment to the value and sacredness of each and every life.

Patriots must secure and protect the secular nature of our political system. Tyrants and dictators use religion and state ideology to rule over oppressed and exploited people. Free people cannot be imprisoned by the whim and fiat of oligarchs, castes, privileged classes and philosopher kings. Theocracy endangers democratic ideals, principles and practices; and should be relegated to history’s dustbin with the other relics of the feudal era. The horrid excess of religious fanaticism visited the shores our country on 9/11 with terrible and catastrophic effect. The Taliban in Afghanistan demonstrate how theocracies denigrate the human spirit and demand servitude and compliance to a potentate’s interpretation of God’s will and enforces it with stick and sword. Such practices are antithetical to our understanding of how religion intersects and informs our principles of governance for free people.

We must not allow our revulsion to the excess of theocracies to impede the free practice of faith or non-faith by our citizens. Religious liberty needs to be protected and strengthened. Our faith traditions call us to be more and America is a special place on God’s earth where we are allowed to be more. No religion or unbelief is Un-American or dangerous as long as it remains a personal guide to a life of faith and is not used as a political ideology. Lastly patriots need to work for peace. The world is more interconnected today then at any time in its history. The promotion of peace that embraces the community of nations and engages individuals, communities, corporations and nation states need to become sustainable enterprises that can build and deliver the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the many generations to come is a divine endeavor.

To close we’ll salute one of our nation’s greatest native sons with Aaron Copeland’s “Lincoln Portrait.” Abraham Lincoln is “everlasting in the memory of his countrymen. Abraham Lincoln, protector and savior who fought to insure that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth. I offer prayers and extend best wishes of our fondest hopes for my beloved country and fellow countrymen and to all people yearning to be free and the patriots working for liberty everywhere. God’s blessings to all.

Risk: political apathy, totalitarianism, social unrest

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Bush, Civil Rights, classical, culture, democracy, FISA, history, holiday, LGBT | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment