Quality not quantity
that is what
I am told
should be my goal
I guess it is
as I’m always trying
to say more
in less space
it saves me
a bit of money
on stationary supplies
There was little, if any, Constitutional validity to the lawsuit. It really reflects a bleak existential reality that conservatives and republicans are facing. The Democrat candidate has won the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 presidential elections. The Democrat candidate has now won the popular vote in 4 straight presidential elections. Biden and Obama (twice) got more than 51% of the vote. Hillary Clinton only got 48% of the vote. None of the Republican candidates reached 48% in the last 4 presidential elections. Mitt Romney was the only Republican candidate to get over 47% of the popular vote.
(Ironically, the 45.9% trump got in 2016 was the lowest percentage of any of the presidential candidates in the last 4 presidential elections.)
This is where the sense of desperation comes into play. Most polls also show that Republicans have a higher average age than Democrats and Independents. This means that they are not being replenished as quickly as the years go passing by.
2008 did mark a substantial moment in American history. It was the first presidential election to include voters that weren’t alive before the Berlin Wall fell. 2020 marked the first presidential election to include voters that weren’t alive for the 9-11 attack. This will reflect changing priorities. That isn’t necessarily bad. The world is always going to change. It is always going to progress and evolve.
This is where a sense of desperation is coming in. People clinging to the past are scared of the future. A lot of people are scared of the present. Desperate measures are being taken or proposed in order to stop the world from changing. It, in some ways, is a last ditch effort. I don’t think these are necessarily evil people. There were Americans that sided with the British in the War of 1812. They weren’t necessarily horrible people. They were on the wrong side of history. There were people that refused to use electricity or refused to use a telephone or automobile when these inventions were introduced. People are afraid of change. They will resist it and sadly, some may never come around.
We need to stay vigilant and do what we can to make the world a better place. Many afraid of change will come around. We should be doing what we can to encourage and educate people. You can’t reach a klansman or a proud boy but a lot of other people are simply clinging to a nostalgia for something that, if it ever did exist, is now long gone. Many will just go back to their lives and realize that not much has really changed. They’re going to get by—and maybe get by with a little less vitriol. They will change at a snail’s pace but eventually they just may get it.
When I found out I was going to Europe again, I wanted to visit some places I had never been before. I also wanted to find more affordable places to help compensate for the atrocious exchange rate we currently have. That turned my eyes toward Eastern Europe. I figured I could find more favorable financial conditions there.
I was always curious about the Baltic nations: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. I figured I would look into that. I discovered Europebyair.com in my research. They specialize in $99 one way flights throughout Europe. I would be able to fly from Amsterdam to Tallinn for $99. Then I could fly from Vilnius back to Amsterdam later also for $99.
That settled it. I was going to Tallinn. This is hardly one of the more famous cities in the world although it is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site as a medieval town. I was really pumped up for the trip. I read that Tallinn was regarded as the new Prague. That sounded good to me. My love affair with Prague is scheduled to be rekindled next year. For now, I had to settle for a beautiful new Old City.
I arrived in Tallinn early afternoon. It took a few moments to get oriented in the airport. A bus ride drops off passengers in the Center of town. This bus stop is near a mall and a casino but is not the main international bus station. Eventually, I found that I was a mere five minute walk from Old Town. Stumbling into the Old Town was a pure joy. This medieval town is one of the best preserved old towns I have ever seen. I went through what at one time must have been the gates to the town. The buildings were gorgeous.
It was a trifle cool but I followed a map to the old town and found a tourist office. They directed us to a hostel right in the old town. There was a strip club a floor above the hostel. I knew right then that it was going to be an interesting city. The people at the hostel spoke pretty good English which was a nice benefit.
After getting settled in, it was time to start exploring the town. The hostel was located right around the town from the Old Town Square(Raekoja Plats.) One can dine at a nice Indian restaurant on the town square. I guess not all things have been preserved. I found the Beer House rather easily. It was located on a small street (Dunkri) right off the Square. This was one of my destinations for the Tallinn visit. The Beer House is styled after a German beer hall but it also features two night clubs on the upper floors.
One can easily just saunter around exploring the Old Town. It is not really all that big. It is very cool that much of the original town wall is still there. I read that you can arrange to take a walk on top of the wall. Early Spring you still have a lot of thawing so it would have been a slushy if not slippery proposition for me. One can venture up to Toompea.
The parliament building is up there. This is the old Toompea Castle. There is also a nice courtyard to check out. You can also get a wonderful view of the lower town. It is breathtaking to look down on these old medieval buildings. The St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is also up on Toompea. It is a breathtakingly beautiful cathedral. There are numerous beautiful old cathedrals in Tallinn. Many of them are well maintained and very inspiring. I usually check out a few cathedrals in every major European city.
Several of the towers are also still standing. The City Museum was once a merchant’s home in medieval times. The Maritime Museum is in an ancient building at the Pik Gate of the Old Town. This also provides an exit out toward the train station or port. There are several islands off of Tallinn but time did not permit further exploration. That is something for a future trip.
There are also some wonderful restaurants. I ate at a restaurant called Olde Hansa. This restaurant is in a 15th Century building and features what is billed as an authentic Hanseatic menu. The interior is designed like the inside of a wealthy merchant’s home. The wait staff is garbed in medieval costume and the menu features game and their own specially brewed beers. The honey beer tasted like it included cinnamon in the recipe. I had a platter that included sausages from beer, elk and wild boar. This is a bit of a tourist trap but it’s an impressive and centrally located place. The menu is printed in six different languages. English is one of them if you need ask.
One of the drawbacks of Tallinn is that the transportation is a bit spread out. The International bus station is about a 25 minute walk from Old Town. The Port is also outside the Old Town but considerably closer. About 5 or 10 minutes walk from the port is the train station. Behind the train station is a section of wooden houses (Kalamaja). This is a pretty interesting section to walk through. Some of the homes are interesting to check out. There are a lot of these homes showing signs of age but others have been wonderfully maintained. It shows a side of the culture you won’t get in the touristy old town. I stopped in a bar here. It was the proverbial other side of the tracks as they didn’t speak English. I still managed to negotiate a couple beers and it was cheaper than the pubs in the Old Town.
The port has several ferry and shipping lines. It is a three hour ride to Helsinki. It cost the equivalent of $30 for a round trip ferry to Helsinki. The Viking Line has a great ship. The ship includes several restaurants, pubs and casinos. It is a downright civilized experience. There is also an indoor flea market near the port. Here, you can find souvenirs, clothes or other necessities. It was interesting to check the place out.
The night life in Tallinn can be pretty intense. There are plenty of pubs to choose from. You can find a nice selection of native brews as well as a few good English pub. The local beers will be considerably cheaper than a Guinness or other English style. I became quite partial to the beers from Saku Brewery.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the bars are open till three or four in the morning. There are also many strip clubs for those who want to gawk at lovely Eastern European women. It was really not all that different from clubs in America. There are a couple clubs that feature full nudity. Prostitution is illegal and tourists are adviced to be wary of sexual solicitation at strip clubs and on the street.
There is a bit of hostility towards Russians. Baltic natives have not readily forgotten the Occupation. I didn’t see any open acts of aggression though. The Estonians also like their booze. They sell beer almost everywhere. It is also cheap. It was interesting when I sailed to Helsinki to see Finns crating loads of booze back home from Tallinn. I think Finnish appetite for cheap booze keeps the Estonian economy running.
Overall, Tallinn was a wonderful city. The Old Town is absolutely gorgeous. The rest of the city is interesting and in a rebuilding process. I imagine that it will be commercialized in the coming years. This is probably a good time to go. There is still much purity and the costs are still relatively low. The people are wonderful and it is a comfortable place to just saunter about and absorb the history and beauty.
It can be disconcerting having to conduct business with skype. I get on a skype call with a couple co-workers to provide some on job instruction. I have a dog that likes to contribute his thoughts throughout the session. Another person has a baby that has a lot to cry. The worst is the person talking to me with a Mr. Softee truck outside their window droning its recurring song. All I could think about after that was how good a banana boat special would be right about now. I’d be running out the door and pushing children out the way if it was outside my own window. I really want a cold treat.
Mr. Softee truck
Droning its carnival song
Sundae etched on mind
It pops up on my cellphone: package delivered. I go running down to the mailroom to receive my goods. I find my package on the floor near the mailboxes. I guess UPS doesn’t have the key to my mailbox.
There is a teenage girl sitting Indian style on the floor chatting away on her cellphone. Apparently there’s some serious shit going on in her love life. She is completely oblivious to my package laying on the floor and barely even acknowledges my presence. I take a quick gander at the name on the package to make sure it is mine.
I’m thinking that if this young lady was a fan of Mongolian rock music, she could have made off with my package. She squandered a golden opportunity to expand her musical palette—which I suppose is good for me.
Now I can listen to the Hu and enjoy the primal sounds. I don’t know if I want to ride a horse through Asian steppes or just crack open a beer. I don’t have a horse or the funds for a flight to Ulaan Baatar but I do have plenty of beer in the fridge. The decision is made for me. It’s all coming together. I feel inspired listening to something new and different.
I think back to the young lady in the mailroom. I’m really grateful she had no interest in pinching my CD. I’m really hoping that she can work things out with Bobby. I’d go back and give her some advice but my advice probably isn’t worth shit. I may never know how that relationship works out—and it might be awkward if I ask her about the next time we meet. I turn my attention back to the music. A song reminds me a bit of AC/DC. I pour the beer into a Viking mug purchased in Iceland. It may be a decent day after all.
Mugwumps with dreadlocks
as we resist the con
William Burroughs birthday is immediately followed by Bob Marley’s birthday—every year. This pleases me. We can get our twisted cut ups with some soothing reggae lilts. Mugwumps with dreadlocks bobbing along to Three Little Birds. My words of advice for young people is to relent. Resistance is futile, anyway. Just let the phantasmagoric vision wash over your soul. The Buffalo Soldiers and hustlers of the world will ultimately still succumb to the mark within. The virus will spread but we’ll have our literary dreams complete with Rasta soundtrack. The mugwumps dancing with natty dreads swirling to the rhythm. A just ending to a rainy evening nightmare.
Your point of view heard
my arbitrary justice
couldn’t solve problems
flights of imagination
Many Philly bars have a drink special that is simply known as the “Special”. This special is a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of whiskey. Often time this special can be had for as little as two or three dollars. It is a cheap way to get oneself hammered without drilling a hole in one’s wallet.
Now, those who know me are familiar with my penchant for exotic and extreme beers. I am one of those snobbish individuals who feel beer should provide actual taste along with the alcohol buzz. That is one of the reasons that I rarely drink mainstream beers. When I do, it is usually due to some social type situation where it would be rude to do otherwise.
So now that I wrote the two preceding paragraphs I have to link them together. Millions of people around the world will be shocked to learn that I recently indulged in the “special” at a concert. They will, no doubt, be disturbed to learn that I was not held at gunpoint nor was I doing it to impress a nubile, young female. I did it completely of my own volition.
I ordered “the Special” to the shock and horror of my tablemates. One of these companions became a beer snob because of my corrosive influence. He watched in horror as I consumed this special. Due to my twisted sense of humor, I took great joy in shattering his illusions. I took a couple swigs from the can and then drained the whiskey shot. I am unsure what whiskey was used for this special and perhaps its best that I don’t find out. It surely did nothing beneficial for my internal organs. Having recently read Sacher-Masoch, I found the strength to order two more specials before the night was over.
Now after all this fun, I have to try to evaluate the beer. It’s hard to critique a beer that is very thin in body and extremely light in flavor. It also becomes hard to really criticize because this lack of character and inoffensiveness is exactly what the brewers are gunning for. They want 5% abv water and that is close to what this beer is. It should be served ice cold and drank very quickly. There really is not much to savor.
I actually did pour some of the beer into a glass just so I could examine the hue and aroma of the brew. The very pretty waitress was quite amused at my act. The beer is what you would expect. It has that fizzy, yellowish hue with very minimal malt aroma. I think the aluminum can might provide more actual flavor or aroma than the hops so we won’t need to go there.
As for taste, this is actually not the worst thing in the world. The SAB people are serious in their efforts to bring this beer back. It has enjoyed a bit of trendiness as an alternative to Budweiser or Coors Light. There are many people who don’t really like intense beer flavors but like drinking beer. Since standing around holding a bottle or can of Bud or Coors is about as cool as standing around eating a McDonald’s burger, they need a lightweight alternative. Enter Pabst Blue Ribbon.
There is really not a lot of flavor in this beer. It mostly has a light malt flavor. They may have used a hop or two in brewing this beer. Lab results are not back yet. It is a fairly smooth drinking beer though. It didn’t have any off flavors or any foul type tastes. I’m sure many geeks will jump in and note that a beer must have flavor before it can have off flavors. I’m not that cynical.
This would be a good lawnmower beer. It is wet. But I have to note that the brewers were gunning for exactly what this beer is. They weren’t trying to create fruity esters or have an intense floral hop bouquet. This is a beer equivalent to fast food burgers. It will please many people as long as they are not expecting anything gourmet or exotic. I don’t expect very many beer geeks to enjoy this beer as a drinking experience. It would be a beer to drink if you were planning on inhaling beer and catching a mighty swift buzz. It will appeal to drinkers of mainstream beers if they are willing to put aside their prejudices and give it a fair chance.
As for the generous rating, I’m going to give the beer, I want to offer this explanation. The beer does achieve the results the brewers intended. Therefore, I am rating it upon that basis. It was not as horrible as I expected it to be. It was not a great beer either. I’m not going to recommend it because it is now part of a brewing conglomerate and no longer an independent regional beer. I don’t have to play the save the regional brewery card for this one. Drink it if you must. Drink it if you wish. Just let me close by saying that I didn’t feel all that hunky dory when I woke up the next morning.
I’ve always had a bit of a linebacker mindset in spite all the poetic pretense. In another life, I suppose I would have made a living ripping the heads off of sissy quarterbacks. I’ve always fancied myself charging at a problem like an angry rhinoceros.
Alas that great career never evolved. My knees and ankles had other plans. But I always think back to the best compliment I ever received. It was a friend who told me that he always visualizes me in one of those old fashion leather football helmets. I imagine I was probably being a hard head. I guess I always have been old school even though I wear a progressive’s garb.
Sometimes just smile
and take the damn compliment
it won’t come again
I remember riding the train from Munich to the town of Dachau. The purpose for this train ride was to visit the Dachau concentration camp that stood there during the Hitler regime. It has been converted into a museum. The belief is that we must never forgot it to prevent it from happening again. It is good to try to tweak the consciences of humans but many remain unwilling to learn the lessons of history.
You can tour the barracks where the prisoners were held. They slept on hard wooden bunks and the sanitary conditions were horrid. The prison was originally designed to hold communists, Reichsbanner and social democrats. These were considered to pose a threat to the regime. It would later hold citizens from Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland among other countries. The ovens used to cremate dead prisoners is also standing.
The factory has been converted into a museum. This provides a lot of photographic evidence of the horror that took place. There was one black and white photograph that leaped out at me and haunted me for months. An American soldier is walking toward a mass grave. The photograph is so clear, you can see the look of horror on his face as he approaches these decrepit corpses. You could almost feel him trembling; feel his hands sweating as he tightens the grip on his gun.
I was overwhelmed by this photo. Eyes welling up, I needed to rush out of the building to recompose myself. I was in a daze riding the train back to Munich. And, of course, once back in Munich, I was hanging out and drinking with Germans at the Hofbrauhaus. Everyone was drinking and laughing. The oompah band did a ripping cover of “Hotel California.” I was still shaken up. I was looking around at friendly, accommodating folk and wondering “How?”
The reality is that we all have dark impulses and we all have frailty that can be exploited by morally bankrupt leaders. After victory over evil, there is still the need for reconciliation. Redemption is possible. The Germans have worked for decades to ensure that this horror not be repeated.
This is something that we should always keep in mind when we confronted political and partisan divisions. Eventually, you do need to negotiate and find ways to come to peace. Most people have both good and bad impulses. We are all capable of great acts of kindness or great acts of evil. John Lennon once stated that we all have a little Hitler and a little Jesus inside of us. We really want Jesus to win out. The Germans were not and are not all evil. However, great evil was perpetuated in the name of nationalism and patriotism.
We may view our political opponents as evil—and it may be that the dark impulses are prominent for them. But there is still humanity within them. We need to reach for that compassion and decency. If we are ever to achieve lasting peace and justice and fairness to everyone, we have to find common ground and we have to find that decency within ourselves.
We do need to reach out to adversaries. What’s interesting is when I went to Germany in 2011, I learned that Germany is the only country in Europe with a growing Jewish population. The German people did have to confront and own that horror. Steps needed to be taken for reconciliation. To their credit, they made that effort. Now Germany is arguably one of the greatest proponents for democracy and human rights on the planet.
We need to start viewing our political adversaries as flawed human beings and not as monstrous demons. It is a long shot but the human race does still have a chance. We don’t have to be the perpetual fuck-ups that we are now. It requires tenacity, courage and vision. A small does of forgiveness might go a long way as well. Why not keep striving to become something better? We do have a lot of choices. That is one that should be easy enough to make.
#dachau #munich #politicaladversaries #concentrationcamp
I was riding a Lyft in Denver. We were on the highway making our way toward a brewery that specializes in chicha and pulque. The Lyft driver was playing the radio and it featured music from Cameroon. I was just playing around with my phone when I noticed a post from American singer Rhiannon Giddens. She posted a stanza of verse by Irish poet Seamus Heaney:
History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme
It really felt great reading those lines. Being half Irish, I do sometimes get emotional when reading Irish poetry or listening to traditional Irish music. I didn’t cry or even need to fight back tears. I did feel a deep sense of relief and restored hope. But I also felt a sense of urgency. There is a lot of work to be done. The damage done in recent years is not permanent but it will require great effort and work to repair. Like it or not, this includes being gracious in victory and reaching out to adversaries to find common ground.
We do need to let justice rise up. We need to reclaim humanity for everyone. We do need to be kind and compassionate towards one another. Saying or thinking that you are better than the other person accomplishes nothing. You must elevate your own consciousness and become a better person. And if humility doesn’t come with enlightenment, you aren’t there yet. We do have a chance to make this a better world but it won’t be easy. Posting clever memes on Facebook isn’t going to make the world a better place. It might even make it worse. The real work is in our interactives with people in our day to day lives. It is within our reach. Let’s find a way to make hope and history rhyme.