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The war poster…

14 Apr

Liberty & Justice, 9-11 Mural on Wilshire Avenue

The skyscrapers of the Wilshire corridor cast eerie shadows on the war protestors.  The parade of meager peaceniks winds its way down the avenue. Helicopters buzz above.  Gradually she appears.  Not a goddess peddling perfumes, alcohol or a TV series, but a sister selling more sinister merchandise – war.

Amidst a backdrop of hot orange flames there she stands – powerful, potent.  Lust for revenge tints her eyes.  She possesses the look of a mother protecting her young or a sister holding the mad pillaging masses at bay.  A woman avenging her charges – her whole being consumed by her perception of all that should be just in an unjust world.

Clad in military gear she stands 10 stories tall.  Not a white man in a uniform but a woman embodying toughness and sensuality.  Her full lips beckoning to the masses, “Here I stand sick of this shit.  Join me in my fight.  Relish my revenge, my cry to arms!”  To her, war is no longer the domain of men.  War is creation.  War is longing.

In her hands she holds an M-16 – barrel upright and straight ready to release its explosive power onto another.  One hand grasps the muzzle, the other the trigger.  She is poised, ready to squeeze it at the first sign of the enemy.   She has shed her womanhood for that which traditionally defines a man.  To her right stand two towers – parallel to her weapon.  Three sets of dots.  One set of dots a metaphor for a nation’s grief, the others a symbol of annihilation.

An eagle bursts through the flaming inferno, a predator lurking among the ruins for prey claws extended and ready to pierce the enemy with its razor sharp talons.  He is a symbol of power and might – masculine, hard.  A creature which consumes the flesh of its prey and leaves nothing behind to hint at the life that it has taken, save for a few scattered bones.  The predatory eagle is a fitting companion for the she-soldier.

She has nothing tangible to stand on.  Instead she relies on two words to hold her upright.  The first word – liberty– is written in smaller print while the second – justice – in bold block letters.   It is almost as if liberty is an afterthought – a collocation.  Liberty alone cannot support her. Instead she needs a subjective construct to bear the full weight of her actions.  What is justice, after all?  How many before her have used this relative term to back their own ideas about the world?  In her case the word only gains strength when she hides behind letters printed in bold.

In the corner lie two small words almost undetectable to an outsider’s eye – 9/11.  Somehow she knows that using the grief and suffering of others as a trigger for her own itching fingers is wrong.  She embraces these numbers in embarrassment knowing that the ideals validating her future actions are tainted.  The truth does not lie in grief.  She realizes that the cries of the very people she is trying to protect in the name of justice have in fact subsided.

As the protesters slowly proceed north she begins to disappear.  Her picture is a memory floating among the banners and flags calling for hope – her mere presence a reason to speak out.

Copyright K. Datko 2002

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The Legend of the Cash Cow

12 Jan

(I wrote this many years ago for a professional newsletter as a protest to the way adjunct instructors were treated, but I think its relevance speaks volumes these days. In many ways, those of us who are left standing in our jobs are definitely cash cows, if anything, the situation is perhaps more widespread and prevalent today….)

Once upon a time there was a young boy who had a cow.  The boy was poor and decided to take his cow to the market to sell it.  At the market he met a man who dealt in dairy cows and asked the man how much he could get for his cow.  The man looked at the boy, and went about his business of inspecting the cow.  The cow was a beautiful and gentle creature that had soft and kind eyes which gleamed when the man approached her.  Her black and white coat was silky and smooth.  The man reached down and tugged on a teat to taste her milk.  It was rich and creamy.

Looking at the boy, he said, “You really should keep this cow because you’ll make more money milking her and selling the milk than you would selling her right off the bat.”  “Really?”, responded the boy.  “Oh yes, said the man, she’s what we call a ‘cash cow’, gentle yet strong, rich milk, good disposition.  If you keep her and take good care of her, she’ll bring in a lot of money.” “Wow!”, exclaimed the boy.  “That’s great!”  The boy took the rope tied around the cow’s neck in his hand and started to lead her away.

The man reached out to the boy and firmly laid his hand on the boy’s shoulder, “I must warn you, though, that when you have a ‘cash cow’ you need to take care of her.  Make certain that she has enough to eat, is properly sheltered and that her health is good.  Give her a nice pasture to exercise in.  Don’t over milk her, as, if you do, eventually the milk will become rancid and those who drink it may become sick.  If you don’t take care of her, you’ll suffer dire consequences.”  The boy’s eyes rested on the cow, only partially catching what the man was saying.  In his mind he pictured the look of the jealous villagers as he walked down the street with gold coins jingling in his pocket.  He thought about the things that he could buy for his family and the envy of his neighbors.  The words of warning from the man in the market were quickly forgotten.

When the boy returned to his village he told his family what the man in the market had said about cash cows.  His family was impressed that they had a cash cow in their midst.  They settled the cow back into the old dilapidated cow shed and drew up plans of what they would do once the money came in.

Many months and years passed.  The family was soon the richest in the village and the milk of the cow was touted as being the richest and most nutritious in the land.  Some people even said that the milk had magic properties.  One legend was that if a person were to drink the milk long enough, they’d be able to speak in another tongue and communicate with people from other villages.  Another story was that the cow’s milk enlarged the brain and people who drank it were able to learn better and do better in school.   Many had seen this happen with their own eyes, and soon people were coming from beyond the kingdom to partake of the cow’s milk.

While the family was reaping the wealth of their cash cow sitting comfortably in their warm large house working now only as needed, the cow was kept out in an unheated shed in the back.  The family had employed a boy from the village to milk the cow as much as 30 times a week to keep up with demand.  They also realized that if they bought the lowest grade feed for the cow, they could turn a nice neat profit.  Keeping the cow in the shed was also profitable and skimping on the heating (especially during the long cold winters) really kept the family in the black.  They cut corners wherever they could in terms of the care of the cow, so that they could get more and more gold coins.

After a while (and especially during the winter), the cow started continuously mooing.  At first it was a low-pitched moan, but after a while it became much louder.  The family heard the moos, but were too involved in spending their new found guineas.  The mooing grew progressively loud enough so that the neighbors could hear.  They mentioned this to the family, but to no avail.  The family ignored the cow thinking that she was one of god’s lower creatures, and continued to count their coins. The cow grew weaker.  The sheen of her once lustrous coat was no more.  Her  udder hardened from being over milked.  By  the end of each day she could barely gather enough strength to stand.  After a while, the milk she had produced was sour and bitter.  The customers who came to the family from far and wide, upon tasting the rancid milk, grew unhealthy and became sick.

The family paid little attention to the physical decline of their cash cow.  They were still getting a steady flow of gold streaming into the family coffers, and they didn’t even think to realize that the amount of gold they took in was in any way related to the health of their cash cow.

Eventually people stopped buying the family’s milk.  Their gold quickly ran out because they were still spending lavishly on almost everything but the care of their cow.  Their neighbors and former customers were upset because they had paid high prices for the legendary milk but found out that they were only buying spoilt milk.  Many of them demanded their money back from the family, and soon the family fell deeply into debt, selling off their prized possessions just to make ends meet.  Once more the family was poor.

The dairy salesman, who had previously warned the boy about what would happen if the cow weren’t properly taken care of, happened to be passing by the village and had heard about what had happened to the family.  He went round to the shed where the once beautiful cow was kept.  Lying on her side shallowly breathing, she silently let out a last moan and laid her head down to die.  The salesman took her head in his hands and shook his head from side to side thinking that it was truly a pity the family didn’t take his advice, and had exploited the cow for their own gain.  Now the family’s life was in tatters…and their cow was dead.

Shades of gray…

19 Oct

The racial politics of this presidential race are truly distressing. When I hear about the racial epithets hurled at McCain/Palin rallies toward Obama and the prejudiced comments of the people who attend those rallies, it really upsets me.

Here’s my question. Why can’t people see through color and look at a person for who he or she is? Sure, Obama looks black, but he’s actually biracial — the product of a white mother and an African father. I can’t think of a better person to best represent the ethnic diversity that is part and parcel of the American experience. In his book Dreams of My Father, Obama explores what his background and upbringing have meant to him. This book, written long before he became a US Senator, is an honest and poetic look at feelings about identity.

When I look at Obama I don’t see color. I see an intelligent man who is willing to take on one of the hardest jobs in the world to make this a better place for us all.

While Obama has openly explored his identity, his opponent, John McCain hasn’t. McCain’s family owned slaves. He has black relatives. Every year the McCain family has an interracial family reunion in Teoc, Mississippi which McCain’s own brother, Joe attends.

Why then, allow race to enter into his campaign? Is McCain so afraid of where he’s come from? Why can’t he own his background?

There’s no debating…

16 Oct

Obama won hands down. His final remarks were about the American people not a ‘woe is me’ I’ve served for my country stump speech.

Even Fox News called the debate in favor of Obama.

For those of you with time on your hands, here’s a fun website (and hopefully something that will never ever ever become reality)… Run your mouse over the different things in the office…

Palinaspresident.com

Freudian Slip….

6 Oct

The other day while traveling, I saw a McCain/Palin sign. When I pointed it out to Doug, I accidentally said,

“Oh look, there’s a McAilin sign guess we must be back in conservative territory.

Even though it was a freudian slip. my gaff sure made a lot of sense to both of us. Our now new name for the conservative duo kinda reminds me of an old happy meal that makes you sick to your stomach.

It’d be funny if it weren’t so damn scary….

26 Sep

Yes, these days I’ve taken the few minutes I have to blog to write about political things. This whole campaign from the Obama-Clinton race to now has been steeped with nothing but the best drama one can get for free. Since I don’t have a TV, this has been my entertainment.

Political manueuverings aside, it appears that McCain has already won the debate that he may supposedly attend tonight. Yep, that’s right. He already has an ad prepared that has gotten out in the blogosphere. (Unfortunately I don’t have the time to post it here right now…) Either way he looks really foolish calling the debate off and then calling it back on again. That level of decisiveness is something  I definitely want in a leader (<-sarcasm…)

I also love how McCain claims to be helping in Washington when it is his job as Senator! Hmmm. He missed 90% of his votes before but now sees it as imperative to get in on the action? It’s also strange that even though he missed so many votes in DC, according to People Magazine he wasn’t in Arizona much either. Where were you, then John???

I won’t even go into how living in a state next to Canada and across the Bering Strait from Russia is enough to qualify someone for VP. If this is all it takes, then I’d be a shoe-in because I’ve actually lived in both countries not to mention a few others.

What is the most amusing or scary thing about our political world for you right now????

Getting the word out there….

23 Sep

Check out this blog, Women Against Sarah Palin….