Columns

Poetry at a Budget Meeting of San Diego School Board Members

June 30, 2015 by Ernie McCray

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By Ernie McCray

I had the honor of spending a day with a room full of progressive School Board Members from around San Diego County.

I wasn’t so sure, at first, as the subject was: Budgets.

Whenever I got my budget sheets at my schools, it might as well have been expressed in hieroglyphics – I just can’t relate to language like “Total Available Funds minus Total Outgo.” Gives me vertigo.

I was there, though, to kick things off. And in doing that I shared three poems and one went like this:

Our schools now,
at this stage
of a rapidly aging New Century,
are about to introduce
our kids
to the realm of Ethnic Studies.
Sure does
make sense to me

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Summer Chronicles #2: That Music You Are Hearing is the Grateful Dead

June 29, 2015 by Jim Miller

TranslucentBy Jim Miller

Gary Snyder is a courage teacher. His fine new book of poems, This Present Moment, is a meditation on wonder and impermanence. In it, for instance, we learn to value our laptops –

“Because whole worlds of writing can be boldly laid out and then highlighted/and vanish in the flash at ‘delete,’/so it teaches of impermanence and pain.”

And it’s true, the miracle of creation that comes out of “a formless face/which is our Original Face,” but as soon as the words are formed the self who made them is no longer there.

Still there is beauty, and moments of grace are there to be found and cherished in “the morning and night coming together,” the “glacier scrapes across the bedrock,” and “the deep dense woods.” You just need to follow “the shining way of the wild” and “hang in, work it out, watch for the moment.”

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Chipping Away at “The Black Problem”

June 26, 2015 by Ernie McCray

Angela Y

By Ernie McCray

The madness in Charleston, to me, is so much deja vu because blacks being shot or bombed where they worship and pray is not something that’s new here in the USA.

In no way. These atrocities started, practically, when they shoved us off the ships to pick cotton, way, way back in the day.

And where’s a good place to find a lot of us to slay? Church. Makes sense to a hateful evil-minded KKK kind of person who all of a sudden, out of his madness, just can’t stand to see a Negro alive.

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Summer Chronicles #1: The Day After Father’s Day

June 22, 2015 by Jim Miller

sad-fathers-dayBy Jim Miller

In the summer of 1967, the great Brazilian writer, Clarice Lispector, began a seven year stint as a writer for Jornal de Brasil [The Brazilian News ] not as a reporter but as a writer of “chronicles,”a genre peculiar to Brazil.

As Giovanni Pontiero puts it in the preface to Selected Chrônicas, a chronicle:

“allows poets and writers to address a wider readership on a vast range of topics and themes. The general tone is one of greater freedom and intimacy than one finds in comparable articles or columns in the European or U.S. Press.”

What Lispector left us with is an eccentric collection of “aphorisms, diary entries, reminiscences, travel notes, interviews, serialized stories, essays, loosely defined as chronicles.”

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Don’t We All Have the Right to be Left Alone?

June 22, 2015 by Ernie McCray

Respect Human RightsBy Ernie McCray

Someone on Facebook posted, regarding the recent “pool party” event in McKinney, Texas: “If you don’t like the interaction you’re having with the police, just trying obeying the law.”

A comment was made saying that what happened could have been avoided if the girls had just acted responsibly and obeyed the laws.

I couldn’t help but think “There are pool party laws?” But, as to “obeying the laws,” I’m down with that. I’m just opposed to somebody, who is hired to uphold the law, slamming those who don’t obey the law to the ground or kicking them in the face or choking them or executing them in the streets.

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“The Way” Won’t Cut It

June 16, 2015 by Ernie McCray

The Old and the New WayBy Ernie McCray

I ran across a graphic on Facebook the other day that broke down “32-take-away-12=20″ in two different ways: the “old fashion” way and the “new” way.

The “new” way was seen as “Satanic” and, with a click onto a website, I read that Louis C.K., one of my favorite comedians, was ticked off that his daughters had gone from loving math to crying about it.

I thought, as I looked at the math visual before me and contemplated whatever it was that was going on with an incredibly funny man’s daughters at school, that both the “old fashion” way and the “new” way got to the correct answer rather nicely.

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The Clinton Playbook: Taylorism on the Campaign Trial

June 15, 2015 by Jim Miller

taylorism

By Jim Miller

One of the more interesting pieces amidst the glut of ridiculously early pre-primary news stories floating around the Internet and social media was Ruby Cramer’s largely laudatory profile of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook.

Wonder boy Mook, the story tells us, is all about “a ‘new kind of organizing’” that was “going to change politics.”

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Widder Curry Asks: ‘What kind of a neighbor are you?’ as Burglaries Plague Sunset Cliffs Neighborhood

June 4, 2015 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Widder Curry Asks: ‘What kind of a neighbor are  you?’ as Burglaries Plague Sunset Cliffs Neighborhood

What do these streets all have in common? Pescadero Drive; Adair Street; Tivoli St.; Granger St; Osprey St.; and Trieste? Need another clue? With the exception of Trieste, all are in the 4500-4600 blocks. Still need help? Let me tell you then.

Since May 1st, five homes on these blocks have been broken into and items taken.

Some have been broken into during the day; some of been broken into at night.

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Wishing a World that Vibrates Hope for My Offspring

June 2, 2015 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Lyric and Marley, the day she was born. Photo by Terry AndersonAll I can think of since the birth of my granddaughter, Marley Mandela, is how she and her brother, Lyric, personify my hopes for a better world being born someday.

But I’m just a hopeful kind of being any old way, even considering all I’ve seen since I arrived on the scene 77 years ago, what with Jim Crow and wars and all.

Hope is essential to our well-being, in my way of thinking. It’s how we’ve overcome wars and dust bowls and savagery and plagues and genocides and witchhunts and slavery and the like, how we’ve gotten to where we are.

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The Fight for Progressive Tax Reform Continues: It’s Time to Make It Fair

May 18, 2015 by Jim Miller

MIF Logo1By Jim Miller

When Proposition 13 was first approved by voters in 1978 it was sold as a protection for single-family homeowners. But what voters were not told is that Prop. 13 contained giant loopholes that allow big corporations and wealthy commercial property owners to avoid paying their fair share of local property taxes.

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Turning 50

May 11, 2015 by Jim Miller
Thumbnail image for Turning 50

By Jim Miller

Last week I turned fifty, and someone asked me what was the most important thing I had learned in half a century of life. I sighed. Never having been one to make too much of personal landmarks, my response was that this was just another day.

And now that that day and that question are already past, what matters most is the unspeakable beauty of this second as my fingers touch the keyboard, and I breath in and out and listen to the sound of my son singing in the background, my wife talking to the cat, and the birds chirping in the branches of the tree outside my window.

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It’s the Neoliberalism, Stupid

May 4, 2015 by Jim Miller

Photo by Keith Allison

By Jim Miller

Last week when the Baltimore Orioles played a game without fans in Camden Yard, there was much media coverage marking how the surreal event was unprecedented in American sports.

Perhaps, but it was not completely without precedent globally as the 1987 soccer match played to an empty stadium in Madrid, Spain came before it.

On the occasion of that strange contest, French social theorist Jean Baudrillard observed that “thousands of fans besieged the stadium but no one got in” and that this punishment of unruly soccer fans did much to –

“exemplify the terroristic hyperrealism of our world, a world where the ‘real’ event occurs in a vacuum, strippedof its context, visible only from afar, televisually.”

Maybe, Baudrillard wryly predicted, the game in Madrid was a harbinger of a future where no one would actually participate in such happenings “but everyone will have received an image of them.”

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Still Groovin’ After All These Years

April 28, 2015 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

A few days before my 77th birthday – “Hip-Hip! Hooray!” – I stepped into the Big Kitchen Cafe and the Rascal’s were “Groovin'” on the stereo and I couldn’t help but go back into time to when that song played in the background of my life.

I was, in this moment in time, slowly getting out of an unhealthy situation and found myself truly “Groovin'” on many a “Sunday afternoon,” kicking it with a beautiful high spirited funny-as-hell woman who, it seemed to me, was looking for what I was looking for at that stage of my life: fun, with no strings attached. Turned out later, I was the only one looking for that. She was more in tune with “Life would be ecstasy, you and me endlessly…” We parted amiably.

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Ramblings of an Insomniac

April 27, 2015 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Ramblings of an Insomniac

10:00pm Got into bed to watch the nightly local news. Set the timer on the television to go off at 11:00pm. Fell asleep

11:15pm Wide awake. Turned on the light and read some of a new book.

12:00am Crappy book; still wide awake.

12:30am Can’t turn off the thought processes. Turned on the news on the radio – KNX – 1070 Los Angeles

1:07am Mind going a mile a minute. When did I become an insomniac? Probably about eight years ago, shortly after my husband Bob was diagnosed with lung cancer. Wanted to spend as much time with him as possible, and as the end was nearing and it was difficult for him to speak, he would turn on a light that would signal he needed help.

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Is San Diego Up for the Challenge of Marrying Environmental and Economic Justice?

April 27, 2015 by Jim Miller

“A beautifully sustainable city that is the playground of the rich doesn’t work for us.”

one new yorkBy Jim Miller

Some of the best political news in America in quite a while happened last week in New York City. While much of the country is still under the sway of the climate-change denying right and thus fiddling while the world burns, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio came out with precisely the kind of bold, visionary plan that we need to address not just the existential threat of climate change but the equally pressing and dangerous trend toward deepening economic inequality.

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Taxes and Inequality in California: Who Pays a Bigger Share?

April 20, 2015 by Jim Miller

cal tax formBy Jim Miller

Last week was Tax Day and with it came the annual ritual of bemoaning our ever-rising taxes and complaining about the endless growth of big government.

Indeed just a few days after Tax Day, I gave a talk at a local college on the history of income inequality and workers’ struggles in which I made a comparison between the stark odds workers face today in the Fight for $15 with the similarly steep hill they faced 100 years ago before the rise of the American Labor Movement and the reforms that came with the New Deal.

As is usually the case, however, a few folks in the audience just could not get their heads around the idea that it was not all government’s fault.

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Restaurant Review: Portuguese Market and Cafe in Point Loma

April 14, 2015 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Restaurant Review: Portuguese Market and Cafe in Point Loma

By Judi Curry

Portuguese Market and Cafe

2818 Avenida de Portugal
San Diego, CA 92106

I received a call telling me about a place that was so good that I needed to try it. Well, Barbara, I agree. The meal was delightful. The restaurant is on the backside of the Portuguese Hall. I have been to many “fiestas” held there and had no idea that there was also a restaurant. I found out that it has only been opened since July, 2014,

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Conversations at the Catfish Club: “The Answer is Love”

April 14, 2015 by Ernie McCray

The Answer is LoveBy Ernie McCray

I sat at a Catfish Club luncheon the other day listening to Leon Williams and Reverend George Walker Smith converse about days of yore and their thoughts about today’s world.

Leon was the first black to hold a seat with the San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

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Teachers and Students Fight for 15

April 13, 2015 by Jim Miller

faculty forward

By Jim Miller

I have noted in this column that, “most colleges in America run on the backs of adjunct instructors who don’t receive the same pay for the same work as do the shrinking pool of full-time faculty” and that the “Exploitation of contingent labor is not just a problem for employees at Starbucks, Walmart, and fast food chains where workers are fighting for $15 an hour; it is an epidemic in the academy as well.”

Fight for 15 organizers will be at 4 PM at Scripps Cottage on San Diego State University’s campus, we will stand with them as teachers and students from across the city will come together with workers, community activists, people of faith, and others to call for basic fairness and economic justice for all working people.

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Ending Racial Profiling (Or Not) at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club Forum

April 7, 2015 by Ernie McCray

Skin ColorBy Ernie McCray

A couple of weeks or so ago I dined with a number of friendly folks at a RISE Urban Breakfast Club forum that asked, concerning Community-Police Relations, “Can we build a safer San Diego together?”

The answer seemed to be “Yeah, we can,” …

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What the World Needs Now is Empathy

April 1, 2015 by Ernie McCray

EmpathyBy Ernie McCray

I look around me,
breathing in deeply
as I reflect on the totality
of what I see.
Before me, a man lays sleeping
on a downtown street
that jumps with a crisp
four/four time Hip-Hop beat,
bouncing from an upbeat retreat,
where folks hang out,
chillaxed to the max
as it’s the “Thank God it’s Friday,”

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Baseball is Not a Metaphor

March 30, 2015 by Jim Miller

dugoutBy Jim Miller

Baseball season is here again and with it comes one of the last times in my only son’s fleeting childhood that I have the opportunity to help coach his team. This brings much joy and more suffering because, as we all know, most of the game involves failure.

When you watch young people pitch, they throw balls more often than not. And when they try to hit, they strike out a lot. It’s a house of pain.

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The Public Education Reporting Charade

March 23, 2015 by Jim Miller

What if it turned out that education reform, with its teacher-blaming assumptions, got it all wrong in the first place?

By Jim Miller

war on educationRecently, with “California’s Public Education Charade,” UT-San Diego shocked no one by publishing yet another anti-union, teacher-bashing editorial that attacks California’s “dominant Democratic Party” for believing that “what’s good for the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers is good for California. And what’s good for students, who cares?”

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Watching Dreams of ‘Home’ Come True

March 17, 2015 by Ernie McCray

unnamedBy Ernie McCray

I’ve attended many a wedding in my life, even conducting a few in rhythm and rhyme that got people to say “Hey, that was pretty nice.”

But I have never witnessed a marriage that was as special as the one I showed up for on the last day of this past February.

It was beyond nice. It was magical. Sweet. Soulful. Teary. Poignant. Smiley. Earthy. Inspiring. Cosmic. Fun. Invigorating. Both lighthearted and sincere. A journey “home” proceeded over by the groom’s brother-in-law.

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The Battle Over Trans-Pacific Partnership: Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back Against the Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

March 16, 2015 by Jim Miller

stop-tpp-700By Jim Miller

Just as the folks in the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) were gearing up to marginalize the progressive wing of the Democratic Party leading up to the 2016 election, Elizabeth Warren struck back with what even CNN reported as “a push to kill major trade negotiations” being championed by President Obama and previously supported by Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton

And it’s a very good thing that Warren has elevated the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the national media because proponents of this deal have done everything they can to keep the details secret.

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Scott Peters and the “New Democrats” Take Aim at the Warren Wing of the Party

March 13, 2015 by Jim Miller

…And Other Sordid Tales

Scott Peters Between the HeadsBy Jim Miller

This week a “right to work” bill that will gut the union movement in Wisconsin is likely to hit Governor Scott Walker’s desk and no doubt he will sign it.

While there is much discussion in Democratic circles of how Walker is doing this to position himself even more solidly on the right to please potential Republican primary voters, there is much less discussion about how this latest assault on workers’ rights helps speed the runaway train heading toward plutocracy that is the United States.

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Helping Young People Discover the ‘Truths’ In Life

March 13, 2015 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

Ernie McCray on stageI love my life, especially my moments with kids. Recently I had the pleasure, along with a teenage Latina friend of mine, of talking to an assembly of young people, most of them Latino, in Chula Vista, about something they’re confronted with regularly: whether to join or not join the military.

We were doing so because we hate to see our children being sucked into the war machine by Uncle Sam who loves to play with their innocence.

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Restaurant Review: Little Lion in South Ocean Beach

March 3, 2015 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Restaurant Review:  Little Lion in South Ocean Beach

Restaurant Review

Little Lion
1424 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92107

I have been anticipating my first meal at the “Little Lion” ever since I heard it was getting ready to open. (The old “Belgian Lion” was always one of my favorite restaurants and I was sorry to see it close. ) … We went on a Friday morning, around 10:45am, and it was not crowded at all. There were three tables being used, and because of the cold breeze no one was eating outside.

I have reviewed three separate restaurants at this location. It is a very small eatery; very limited room, but charming at the same time. I was prepared to rave about the restaurant to everyone. Let me start by saying that the food was excellent. …

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Joining Spirit with the Billions of Us Human Beings

March 2, 2015 by Ernie McCray
[caption id="attachment_123238" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Lao Tzu humanity quote (Image: Flickr – Hartwig HKD)[/caption]

By Ernie McCray

I was driving and turned my radio to 89.5, KPBS, and there was a conversation going on about “7 Billion Others,” an exhibit that’s opening in the U.S. for the first time – at San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA): February 21 to September 13.

I liked what I was hearing and googled around and found, on the MOPA website, 45 questions written for visitors to the exhibit to answer so that they can find in themselves that spark that resides in us all and connects us to the journey of human beings featured in the video project.

My answer to the first question was: Ernest Charles McCray; age 76; retired school principal; widower; American as in United States of America.

Here are my replies to the other questions, based on what first came to my mind:

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Have You Been To a Foreign Country In the Past Few Weeks?

February 24, 2015 by Judi Curry

By Judi Curry

Sundog_looking_east[1]That seems to be the question everyone is asking since the Ebola epidemic started affecting people in the United States. My usual answer would be “no” but I now have changed that and say, “I’ve been to North Dakota in the past few weeks. Does that count?”

It’s obvious that I know that North Dakota is not a “foreign country” in the true sense of the meaning, but I’ve learned so much about the State that was foreign to me before.

How many of you know what a “sun dog” is? Living in San Diego my dog is frequently in the sun, but that’s not what is meant in North Dakota – and other communities nearby.

Sun dogs are an atmospheric phenomenon caused by the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals such as those hosted in cirrus clouds. A number of specific conditions must prevail for this phenomenon to form: the sun must be in the sky, usually less than 45 degrees from the horizon, and in the same horizontal plane as the viewer.

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