Is This the Way the NFL Ends? T. S. Eliot, Jim McMahon, And The End of Football In America

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

– From The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot.

Jim McMahon was trending on Twitter this morning because of this interview with SportsCenter that aired yesterday.

“He had a concussion, but it cleared up by halftime.”  – a Bears team doctor in 1988.

“We knew about risks to every other part of the body.  But we didn’t know about the brain trauma.  They did.  They lied.”  – Jim McMahon

Headpieces of straw.  Paralyzed force.  Not lost, violent souls. The hollow men.  The stuffed men.

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

This the way the NFL ends, with a bang.  With a million concussions.

I hope these players get every dime.

Did Mike Daisey Lie?

Les Nessman and Johnny Fever in the studio
Ira Glass posing with Johnny Fever.

No.  I don’t believe he did.

Did Blood Diamond lie? Does that fact that it’s fiction make it any less true?

Daisey’s theatrical performances are precisely that, but that doesn’t make the issues he raises any less valid.  He’s a performance artist, not a journalist.  Remember when Bailey got in trouble on that episode of WKRP In Cincinnati for reading that story about the butterfly on-air?  Les Nessman was all beside himself because the story wasn’t true.  But it wasn’t a story, was it? It was a poem.  And poems can be true without being true.  Stories can be true even if they’re not.

If Daisey presented everything in his production as factual down to the last detail, I’d probably take a different position on this.  But he is an artist, and artists need to be able to render the truth via facsimile and proximity.  And that’s for the sake of the truth and all with ears to hear it.   There may never have been a Prodigal Son, but that story’s still true, isn’t it?

Everyone In the Government Works For or Has Worked For Monsanto

Yes, yes.  That sounds alarmist.  But given that we’ve been talking about the food supply today, and about the paper thin difference between a war between regime change in Iraq and regime change in Iran, I thought I should share this startling graphic.  If it’s true, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter who you vote for.  #buyorganic

Behold, the Venn diagram that explains these interlocking directorates.  Click to embiggen.

 

Freeganism, Food Deserts, Free Markets: Where the Invisible Hand Fears to Tread

I help convene a monthly discussion series at the Allentown Brew Works called Beerituality.  Last week, we welcomed guests Cathy Frankenberg and Jon Geeting and wrestled with the topic of food deserts in the urban cores of the Lehigh Valley.  Cathy is a founding organizer of an initiative to establish a food co-op in neighboring Bethlehem, and Jon is a political blogger/journalist with a special interest in the urban transformation happening in Allentown.

As you might imagine, we had a very good time of discussion and participation.  I’ve been vexed by some of the realities we’re encountering on this issue, not the least of which being the problem of food waste in America, even in this awful economy.

Enter Jane Velez-Mitchell from CNN Headline News and a piece exploring “freeganism.”  Freeganism is dumpster diving for still-edible food behind restaurants and grocery stores and cooking those salvaged items for dinner.  For some reason, I’m reminded of Jesus picking wheat on the Sabbath as he walked through a field he didn’t own.  I’m also reminded of the practice we see in the book of Ruth, when grain that fell to the ground during harvest was left for the scavenging needy.  But at least that grain wasn’t thrown in the garbage for no good reason.  At least people who needed it didn’t have to scrounge in dumpsters.

We’d like to think we’re so much more progressive on so many fronts than our ancestors, but on issues of food and shelter, our older traditions have sometimes echo the kind of sustainable ethos that comes with living close to the land and the means of production.

This has everything to do with the problem of food deserts here and now. It has everything to do with how we will respond to the needs of our community.  For more commentary on the free market’s failure to bring healthful food to food deserts, read my recap of last week’s Beerituality gathering.

Clean Water For 32 People: A Widow’s Mite, a King’s Ransom, and Anything In Between

English: child enjoying clean and safe drinkin...
Clean water from a well built by charity: water

I’m turning 32 years old this year. I have everything I could ever possibly need. Many people don’t. This year, I want to use my birthday to provide clean water for at least 32 people and I’m going to need your help. I’m asking for donations small and large toward an initial goal of $649 to provide clean water to 32 people through charity: water.This money will go to build freshwater projects for people in developing countries. Will you help me raise these funds?

Almost a billion people in the world are living without clean water — but how much are they really living? Millions contract deadly diseases from contaminated water. 30,000 people will die this week alone. The lucky ones won’t, but still have to walk hours each day to get dirty water for their families.

My birthday wish this year is for all of us to give whatever we can — a king’s ransom or a widow’s mite — for clean and safe drinking water to some of the billion people living without it.

The best part: 100% of all donations go directly toward water projects. And about 18 months after this campaign ends, charity: water will show us where and how every dollar we raised ended up helping in the field. We’ll see GPS coordinates, photos and more details about the communities we’ve impacted.

Please join me.

Spencer Soper for the Pulitzer? Yes, Please!

Spencer Soper’s award-winning work on the deplorable conditions at an Amazon fulfillment center here in the Lehigh Valley has earned the Morning Call writer a  nomination for journalism’s greatest honor:  The Tribune Co. is nominating Soper’s Amazon exposé for a Pulitzer Prize. 

I’ve talked about Spencer’s work a good deal in this space, and it’s not just because mindless abuse at the hands of the world’s largest online retailer is happening in my backyard.  It’s a global story, and a globalism story.  Many of the people I’ve shared it with have responded in encouraging ways, pledging to swear off Amazon not just because of the violations Soper uncovered, but because of what Amazon’s very model says about the corporate ethos.  Let’s be clear: getting things to you as quickly and cheaply as Amazon does means Amazon caring as little as possible about worker rights, local economies, brick and mortar small businesses, communities, and fairness.  Oh, how grand it was when these realities were only hypothetical.  But the abuse here in the Lehigh Valley brings things we should have all realized long ago directly to the fore.  Amazon is a machine built for speed, and if people get caught in all those moving parts, it’s fine with Amazon so long as the clean up doesn’t take too long.