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Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Last weekend I was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue pondering how unrecognizable these blocks are in front of the White House. The street doesn't look like a street- it looks like a pedestrian mall, which is exactly what it is now. When I stopped contemplating the surface I was walking on, I looked up to see a burly guy in uniform with a fed up expression on his face, one arm stiffly folded across his chest while his index finger pointed to the left.  I looked at him confused. "Get on the sidewalk," he said. Were cars coming? I looked around. "There's an event going on. Obviously," he snapped. Oh. Okay. There's a party at the White House and instead of funneling guests through the side or god forbid the back entrances where E Street has also been taken from us, we the tax payers are pushed onto “the sidewalk.” The meaning of terrorism for many translates into gruesome and tragic death counts, but for us this week in Washington, it is an ever pervading loss of little freedoms as we walk beneath the half mast flags. 

Photo by Kevin Lamarque

Later that day I went home and rewatched ”Oh, God" which just happened to come up on my Netflix queue. It’s not the best movie in the world although George Burns is priceless. He appears pretty much as himself in the role of God, but in a human form that a simple grocery clerk played by John Denver can understand. (Yes, that John Denver- the singer- not the guy who played Gilligan.) God wanted John Denver's character to get his message out- that we need to stop hurting and killing each other.  "There's been enough of that," he said. God also wanted us to know that organized religions are getting in the way of that goal.  Oh, and that we should take care of the planet. To quote: " Have you ever tried to make a fish from scratch?" This little gem came out in 1977. Maybe Donald Trump needs to put this in his movie queue. It's hard to argue with George Burns.

Or are we collectively just not smart enough to get it?

Today marks another sad event in American history- the anniversary of John Lennon’s death. He was gunned down in front of his apartment building thirty five years ago, walking home from a studio session. I was in college when it happened, and didn't hear the news until I woke up the next day.  I love this short essay remembering the event by our own Bob Boilen, the musical wizard behind the curtain at NPR. As for me, I wished I could go back to sleep, pull the covers over my head and pretend it never happened.  An impulse that has cropped up more times than I can count since 1981.