Emilio DeGrazia… A Muse for….

Our Favorite F-Words

The question surfaced as a bad joke among a group of thoughtful friends: Whats the favorite American F-word? A womanwho happens to be a very attractive blonderesponded first. Freedom, she said with a slight twist to her smile.
Two F-words obviously troubled her. When she is seen as a typeand stereotypeit seems easy to assume that her good looks provide her the opportunity to have more freedom, and fun, than most other people. Doors that remain closed to the unattractive would open to her. She would have a wider choice than most about where she lives, with whom, and what work she would do. Shed even have a shot at becoming a million dollar newscaster for a FOX TV news station.
But she seemed to have a better sense than we did of the downside of her good looksthe constraints, call them lack of freedom, her presence as a type placed on her. She no doubt knows, for example, what it is like to be held in the grip of gazes refusing to let go of her, how some of those gazes freeze her with fear, and how her freedom of movement is controlled by personal safety concerns. If she got a millionaire job with FOX shed have to perform on cue, force her smiles on audiences looking for any small excuse to send their remotes in search of a different face, and keep her opinions to herself without improving on the words she hasnt written but has to recite.
These are ordinary constraints, and no doubt there are others more serious. But if her type, blessed by biology, has to live within limits too, how free are the millions who dont have her advantages? Does any woman freely choose her role as news anchor, mother, wife, cheerleader, cancer patient or millionaire? Well, yes, perhaps, if we believe the noisy and glib libertarian voices addicted to telling us were all singular captains of our individual fates. But no, if biology, the stock market, social mores, education, governments, genetics and chance have any say about how she turns out.
To be American israther too simplyto let freedom ring, especially as a word. Americans believe people are free to choose, free to make winners or losers of themselves, free to go to heaven or hell because theyre free to work or not to work hard enough to end up where they end up, even if theyre in an unemployment line and there are no jobs. Americans believe in free markets and the free enterprise system and in free trade and free expression. And everybody knows freedom doesnt come cheap, that if we want to keep it we may have no choice but to pay for it with our lives.
Belief in Americanized freedom does not chime well with the second most popular American F-word.
Its hard to insist that the lines about freedom should be dropped from the refrains Americans routinely croon when they feel the need to feel good about themselves and their beliefs. Freedoms often the word we attach to a positive feeling we enjoy, especially when were well cared for and not wholly in the grip of some control. The thought of freedom dignifies us by providing strokes for what we do that turns out right, even if we are mainly just lucky. Its a favorite topic of political candidates, especially at the fundraising events they have to do. It has, in short, many usespsychological, political, practical, inspirationalnot all of them morally defensible. And the power, influence, and currency of the wordlike moneysseem directly proportional to its immeasurability. If we dont know what freedom is, it therefore must exist out there somewhere, circulating freely in its own sounds.
No one, as yet, has invented a thermometer, gauge or app that measures how free (or happy) we are or are not. Actual prisons, with their solitary confinement cells, would be a good place to begin taking baseline measurements, and the hungry and disabled might also provide us a few key indicators about what freedom is. But inner freedom, which maybe sits at home in our easy chairs or walks down the street toward a liquor store while we whistle a tune, would be trickier to calculate.

Common sense tells us that the choices we make, consciously or not, entangle us in a chain of consequences that can liberate or maybe strangle us. Way leads on to way, not always to greener pastures. We choose to drink or smoke too much, marry this woman rather than that one, have children or not, attend this church or that one, take this job or none at all. These choices, some of them resulting from accident of birth, routinely result in outbursts of the second most favorite American F-word, the nasty one. This second most favorite American F-word seems to make it clearalong with the contempt, frustration and anger it communicates in no uncertain terms that there are a lot of Americans not enjoying their freedom as advertised.

Why is it that so many Americans so frequently use both F-wordswith connotations so antithetically positive and negativein the same conversation? If the freedom word is routinely used as a way to unify and inspire us as a people, the nasty F-word is a weapon by which we express frustration, contempt, and even hatred for each other. Though women especially know how this words weaponry is linked to sex, we seem screwed up about a lot of things when we use the nasty F-word.
Do we use the nasty F-word because we feel betrayed by the promises the freedom word offers, especially when the gap between the haves and have-nots is so obvious? Though the rich and powerful in some ways may be the most restricted among us, they are also inclined to use the freedom word as a way of putting down those who dont enjoy the privileges they suffer from. While researchers in the health sciences are finding that some rich folk are suffering from a new disease being referred to as affluenza, this affliction doesnt prevent those passionate about the virtues of wealth from dismissing the poor and destitute as complainers when those in the underclasses talk freely about the constraints they face. Freedom, when its meaning is perpetually on the loose, goes into hiding in those experiencing the realities of joblessness, unattractiveness, disability, old age, poverty, and bad luck. In a climate of opinion requiring us to be free while denying us the means to achieve a reasonably comfortable life style, the other F-word, and the nasty behaviors that follow from it, has its say.
In the old days our moms would wash our mouths out with soap when we didnt watch our language. But modern moms arent as free to do that these days. So when we have the urge to use either of the F-words, I think wed be better off biting our tongues on our way to second thoughts.

Oh, tell us what you REALLY think… MoA Comment Classic…

“If it is still not apparent to the rest of the world, the US is run by a collection of out-of-control psychopathic Zionist war criminals that have to be treated as such if there is going to be any semblance of peace. Sure, we here can discuss how their actions conform to this or that plan – e.g., the Yinon Plan – etc but taken as a whole and with an large unforgiving eye to the needless murder/maiming/displacement/destruction of millions that the US has been directly responsible for for decades there is in my mind just no sense in even pretending that any rational and humanistic leader/people should countenance much less negotiate/partner with the US and its depraved and sickening representatives as it continues apace on its campaign of terror.

“Everyone should reflexively know that The Global War on Terror is very real but in an – oh so amusing I’m sure to TPTB – twist it’s not AQ or any of the other chimerical villains that are perpetrating it but the US itself and it’s grotesque assortment of hideous war criminals.

“With a massive propaganda battery at their disposal to take the “edge” off of the murder and mayhem until the next round begins, there is no hell hole deep enough for these monsters. I know that bevin and others may disagree but when does the world move beyond the realpolitik and start talking about such quaint terms as justice for those millions of people who have had their lives needlessly destroyed by these subhumans?

“In an amazing Dorian Gray moment at the SOTU address Peace Laureate Obama looked into the shattered monstrous visage of his own soul in regards to the GWOT and everyone in attendance clapped like the bloodthirsty murderers they are without a thought to the millions of people we’ve wrecked beyond the point of being stitched back together. Such spectacles should be enough to signal to the world what type of people are leading the United States of America and they should begin to act/plan accordingly.”

Posted by: JSorrentine | Feb 1, 2014 10:57:18 AM
Moon of Alabama re West sponsoring fascists in Ukraine. Wait for the Sochi games to end cuz Putin’s gonna have a Valentine to deliver…

What Good People Want To Be When They Grow Up

Emilio DeGrazia  emilio-degrazia head shot 20130907-120x116-edged
When one’s vocabulary shrinks to one word––“No!”––the mind trains the body to perform sick tricks. While sitting on their hands the anti-government slugs have taught themselves to point a finger of blame all around. This finger has yet to develop the flexibility enabling it to turn itself around.
There’s more good news for them to complain about. College students prefer to work in government. In a survey of recent college grads, conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, students expecting to graduate with B.A. degrees by the end of 2013 chose government work as their top choice, with human services, education, and social services their next highest preferences. Far below in their rankings were careers in finance, retail trade, computer and electronic manufacturing, other manufacturing, and oil and gas extraction.
We told you so, is what the nay-saying fickle finger must be telling itself. Government is bad, and this generation of college students has turned out bad because of it. Their schools and teachers are also bad, because when children go to schools where cooperation and self-esteem are taught they want to make a career out of what they’ve learned. A generation of young people who care so deeply about government, human services, education, and social services that they actually want to get paid for doing things like that must be suffering from the morally corrosive influence of ObamaCare. Why, these anti-Darwin social Darwinists must be asking themselves, can’t everyone be like us, busy devising new ways to cut government, human services, education, and social services? How can so many students get college degrees without believing that making a lot of money enriches lives? Why do they put so little faith in oil and gas extraction? Don’t they believe in futures? Continue reading

Thom Hartmann “The Crash of 2016”

Published on Dec 5, 2013

Looking at American history, Hartmann, host of The Big Picture, sees that roughly every four generations, catastrophe strikes. To avert the next economic and social disaster, he urges us to reject the destabilizing profit motives of corporations, and embrace the ideals of democratic civil values that once defined the nation.

Founded by Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade in 1984, Politics & Prose Bookstore is Washington, D.C.’s premier independent bookstore and cultural hub, a gathering place for people interested in reading and discussing books.

My Kuhl Jak Rabbit #1007 Emilio DeGrazia

I got something really Kuhl as a Christmas present this year.  It’s a “Men’s Jak Rabbit #1007,” a sort of fuzzy-soft jacket sweater with a zipper pocket over the heart area for toting, I suppose, warm feelings about the cell phone I don’t own.Kuhl Jak Rabbit #1007_(1)

I’m not sure how much the “Men’s Jak Rabbit #1007” cost my lovely daughter, who carefully picked out something she knew I’d like.  The tags that come with my Jak Rabbit #1007 are especially interesting.  One tag says that it’s “Crazy Soft” and made of “100% polyester Italian fleece.”  The flip side tells me that it has “Micro fiber faux leather accents for added style,” and a “Signature Kuhl thumbloop for added warmth.”

I love the thing.  It’s so fuzzy, smooth and toasty I can’t keep my hands off it, though I’ve become a bit wary about how to preserve the privacy of my virtue when I see others eyeballing it.  I’m a rather thrifty guy, but I don’t dare ask my daughter how much it cost.  I don’t want to drop even a tiny hint that she might have been fleeced.  I’m content to be wearing it right now, as I write, certain it’s giving my literary style a softer touch.  That alone makes it worth what she paid for it.

The Kuhl people must be foreigners, maybe German or Swiss, and they take their fleeces seriously.  “It’s really not even fair for the competition,” says one of the Kuhl tags in both English and French, “to put this jacket in the ‘fleece’ category.  The superior quality and ultra-soft hand put the Jak Rabbit in the premium category and at the top of the podium.”  I’m not sure it belongs at the top of a podium, but to me the Jak Rabbit #1007 feels like a top of the line product, especially for those with good taste in France.  What is called “ultra soft” in the English version of the label comes off as “ultra doux” (“ultra sweet”) in French.  It must be both.

But to tell the truth I admit that my Jak Rabbit #1007 has a special place close to my heart because it’s made of “100% polyester Italian fleece.”  Because a tag, in bold letters, informs us that the Jak Rabbit #1007 was “BORN IN THE MOUNTAINS” I can’t help thinking that its fleece had its origins in the Italian Alps.  Everyone knows that any quest for authenticity involves a search for origins, call them roots.  Though my ethnic roots are in southern Italy, a region looked down upon by Italy’s righteous Northern League political party, I’m satisfied to know my Jak Rabbit #1007 takes me back both to my European and Italian roots, however snow-covered.  My new fleece makes it clear that my sense of ethnic pride is not skin deep.

It also fits the free-spirited and free-thinking urges at the base of my philosophy of life.  The remarkable tag that Kuhl attaches to its product speaks to the worldwide youth movement I still feel in my oldest bones.  The Jak Rabbit #1007 is “born,” we’re informed by the tag, “from our rebellious philosophy to question everything, break the rules, and reject the status quo.”  I agree, but I also know my Jak Rabbit #1007 will require me to live dangerously, like all Kuhl products, which are said to “resist, defy and oppose the norm.  Wearing them tells you they represent not only the freedom of movement, but also freewill.”

Since freedom of movement and free will are at the core of the American Dream, my Jak Rabbit #1007 comfortably fits my patriotic needs.

The philosophical depth of the Jak Rabbit #1007 provides a new high.  Experts who keep track of advertisements inform us that Americans, on average, experience 600-625 “exposures” to ads every 24-hour day.  If each ad exposure is five seconds long then the average American spends two hours out of each 24-hour day and night exposed to ads.  Though it’s hard to know how ads affect us while we’re asleep, it’s obvious that they’re participants in the conversations that go on while we work and play.  And because so many ads are entertaining and fun, how can we not thank them for influencing our sense of what’s true and real?

I’ll try to be truthful here about one thing that bothers me about the ads I’m

exposed to every day:  In a society that values free markets and free expression you’d think that more ads, like the Kuhl ad, would offer consumers a little free will.

The tags on my new Jak Rabbit #1007 offer some wonderful educational opportunities for harried teachers in our beleaguered schools.  The Kuhl tags make it clear that certain foreign words like “faux” have enormous prestige these days.  The name of the product itself offers shortcuts that bad spellers can use.  Biology teachers stand to gain by engaging students in experiments designed to identify the authenticating qualities of fleece.  And a geography curriculum is waiting to be developed by educators eager to help students find France and Italy on a map, while demystifying them about how a Jak Rabbit, after being “BORN IN THE MOUNTAINS” leaped across the Atlantic to be manufactured by nameless workers in El Salvador.

Doubtless some of the educational issues in the Kuhl ad will require the expertise of higher authorities in our colleges and universities.  The Kuhl ad might inspire philosophers and scientists, for example, to elevate class discussions of free will to new depths.  Departments of psychology could expand their experimental, developmental, and clinical approaches to consumer behaviors to include the paranormal.  English departments could use Kuhl ads as creative writing models useful to the writing of fiction and poetry, or as examples of a prose style that leads to jobs.  Business departments and whole colleges of commerce, currently so frustrated by the economy’s failure to benefit from the marketing wisdom passing through their graduation lines, would be able to develop post-doc seminars on the commercial value of the laughable.

One truth remains:  I love my daughter much more than I love my Jak Rabbit #1007, however Kuhl it is, and I deeply appreciate her gift.  I also mean it when I say that from the 600-625 exposures to ads I experience every day none provides the soft, warm, and fuzzy pleasure I derive from my actual Jak Rabbit #1007, and I’m convinced  I arrived at that conclusion by way of my own free will.  The ad for the product, moreover, is special for the way it draws attention to how truth in advertising affects public discourse and thoughtful responses to the important concerns real people have to deal with every day.


Blizzard Tree
(A Holiday Carol) Emilio DeGrazia

Oh what are these sounds I hear in the sky,
The cold wind screams and deadening cry
Of the songs birds sing when abandoned to die?
Oh what are these sounds I hear in the sky

When summer’s buried under glaciers of ice
And solstice stars, distant and dim,
Are so lost in blank seas of endless black space
The New Year’s epiphany can’t hear its own hymn?

The blitz has buried rows of corn on the plain
Ranged in white lines there like armies of night.
Out there the cold shivers like bones going insane
For a hint in the sky of redeeming warm light.

So what is that tree doing naked in sky
With limbs reaching out to winds going wild?
Is she the mother who never asks why
She’s there to give life to a new baby child?

When the child was born was the mother unleaved,
Stripped naked and bare by the cold winter storm
That fired her courage when she heard a small cry
At the approach of any shrill noise in the sky?

What hymns does the hearth fire breathe in the air
To the mother cradling her new baby’s sigh?
How can bare arms enfold enough care
To warm the life she holds in trust there

Inside walls made from well-seasoned trees
With memorized music toned in their woods,
The lullabies there composed by summer and spring
Accompanied by wild chords the winter winds bring.

Oh, who is in that tree hanging in sky
With naked limbs reaching out to a child
To shield it from winds going wild
With love in winter that will not say die?

As blizzards whistle through cracks in our homes
Where we huddle to watch the warmth taking wing
Let’s gather tonight for the hymns woodfires sing
To honor the love in good women’s wombs.


Stonekettle Station: Upon The Dark And The Rolling Sea

Oh you set your course for the furthest shores
And you never once looked back
And the flag you flew was a pirate cross
On a field of velvet black
And those landsmen who you but lately knew
Were left stranded on the lea
Don’t call on them when the storm clouds rise
On the dark and the rolling sea

wright-jim-stonekettleMy teenaged son pondered the extremists who have taken America hostage.

He asked, How can they not see how crazy they are? How?

How indeed?

I mean, they must know, right?

Surely, if a seventeen year old high school student can see it, they must be able to see the bizarre folly of their ways, yes?

Were months into the crippling effects of sequestration. The government has been shuttered for two weeks now. Americans become ever more restive, the financial markets grow ever more fearful, the nation grows ever more afraid. All for the vainglory of an uncompromising few.

And now?

Now they attempt to extort us with default, with a near certain return to recession and an economic disaster that threatens not just our own nation but the economic stability of the entire world.

They must see how insane they have become.

How could they not?