— From CB —

Friday night in Merida, Yucatan, was the big public celebration of El Dia de los Muertos. The span of the “paseo” was at least a mile long, from a church at the beginning to the cemetery at the end, and for the most part the wide street was utterly jammed. There were some performance stages along the way, but mostly it was table altars set out in front of people’s houses, families gathered there, with portraits, fruit, flowers, candles, other food, perhaps a bottle of beer or a Coke. I took many photos but often stopped just to look at the gone strangers being celebrated. What struck me most strongly was the nature of family. Families of course were out in full force, and in 3.5 hours I didn’t see one kid throwing a fit or parents being vile. And barely ambulatory grannies being helped along by their kids. These are the people we’re trying to keep out of our country.

Being among crowds turned my head away from the several friends we’ve recently lost and several others seriously threatened. I was thinking instead of the extraordinary extravagance of life, a mad sacred spirit that spends like a drunken sailor. Every one of these milling creatures has a history, a future, furniture they sit on, clothes they wear, all their stuff and all their memories. Even the babies have old scars, the small children shames, but almost every one can laugh or will learn to. Every one, even the most convention-bound, is unique in ways far beyond their fingerprints. And from the goddess’s cornucopia it’s all spewed out in the street — pushing, shoving, dancing, sauntering, tripping, creeping — all to be swept away by the Sweeper by early dawn. To the Puritan in me it seems so wasteful: each life should be in an interest-bearing account. But to the Dionysian, while I can’t exactly celebrate the squander, I stand in awe, and in the flow.

Animals — many — grieve their dead, and of course I’m an animal too. As the heavy armor on my emotions slowly rusts away with age, I feel a lot of grief, of course, perhaps as much for distant friends as dead ones. Maybe in both conditions it’s the distance that engenders the pain. And yet there’s a joy in those streets full of mortal souls brought out on a night like all other nights and like no other ever.


— From the Fool —

I don’t like fake fools. I saw one the other day and I would have hit him with a pie but I didn’t have a pie. Plus there were cops and he was Authorized Entertainment.

He had a perky red nose and red yellow overalls and a funny hat and bow tie and big red plastic shoes so you could tell he was a fool because bankers don’t dress like that.

He talked real fast in a high cartoony voice so you knew he was being funny. He talked in a mike so you knew he was official. You could salt him and sell him for snack food.

Some are born fools, some achieve foolery, some have foolhood thrust upon’em. Nobody does it with silly shoes. He might have got more laughs if he’d dressed like a banker and ate his necktie.

— From EF —

Healthcare. Food production. Water. Public safety. We all care about these things, right?  There’s an election coming up, so let’s get back to the basics: Slavery.

Across the board, workers are working longer hours: increased productivity, lower wages. Check this out:


On a local level, my mail carrier tells me the supes are juggling hours so that many carriers are still delivering mail at 8 or 9 pm. He wonders how long it will be before some panicked person, armed, freaks at hearing the door mail-slot rattling after dark.

We have lots of folks working way more than 40 hours a week without even coming up to the poverty level. Working. Trying to support their families. I’m sorry for using strong language, folks, but this is fucked.

I spent an hour and three-quarters Saturday watching a solo performance of The Fever.  By the end I didn’t have any skin left at all. Wally Shawn birthed this piece in 1990 with private readings, and it has been all over the map since then, including a NY run performed by the playwright.  Now, the actor was the incomparable Eliot Fintushel, outdoors in a garden.

The core of this piece is our ability to mask our privilege. What if you couldn’t? What if you suddenly swapped places with the janitors and nurses and chicken-processors who struggle to survive at ever-decreasing wages? What if you caught a fever in a revolutionary country where your language is not spoken and found yourself wrenching your guts out in a roach-infested bathroom?

Not good to think about.  When social bonds yield to power, it all turns to ashes. Shawn and Shakespeare have written it with blowtorches.  The very least the rest of us can do is to vote.  Voting carries no certainty of change, but avoiding it definitely carries the guarantee of a new, improved brand of slavery.   As Hafiz says, cast all your votes for dancing, and maybe we’ll all hear the music sometime.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2014






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