Sunday, December 31, 2006

Just One Victory


When I worked on the Dukkakis campaign in 1988 and I was asked by someone in the national media about the campaign's apparent decision to abandon the southern states, I didn't call Boston to ask for an appropriate response. I simply replied with the same answer Gen. Anthony McAuliffe gave to the German invitation to surrender at Bastogne: Nuts.

Like the Germans staff officers who delivered that answer, I had to explain what it meant: no surrender.

Some people have taken my references to the dark views of others in New Orleans as something personal, something about me. I feel infected in part by what I hear on the street and online. If I haven't written anything resembling an optimistic piece, I'm just a reflection of the city.

No one should take what I write as indicative of some personal funk. There are people with way more serious problems than I confronted in moving here-Poppy Brite, and Tim and Morwen in Gentilly come to mind along with a host of friends from Lakeview-- people who've lost everything they owned who have come back here to make a stand. I am a mere gnat buzzing about their bright light.

The problems of the city at large are immense and to treat them as insignificant would be wrong. At the same time, to treat my own view of them as significant is also wrong. I'm just a guy with a laptop and too much time on his hands, apparently. If I tend to find the glass half-empty too often, my world view is colored by how I spent the last several years at work: in computer software testing. When you are paid to imagine all the worst things that can happen, where the golden rule is expect the worst, and you'll never be disappointed, only pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than expected, its bound to stamp a systemic pessimism onto one's view of things.

Is that the real me? I don't think so. The last thing I did at that job on my last day was to send the same email I sent at the start of ever new software release: a GIF image of the Don't Panic icon from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and an attached WAV file of REM' s Its The End of the World as We Know It. What some people find dark and pessimistic is for me both a simple form of realism, an purely intellectual understanding of the Buddhist concept that Suffering Is.

If I haven't managed an optimistic post in the last several months, well, its been had to find the inspiration. Instead, Peter of Adrastos cited my own funk and that of other bloggers and posted a video clip of a song I have returned to over and over again since its release in the early 1970s, whenever the funk seemed it was about to drag me down.

Thank you, Peter. His simple few links and a link to a song is the most important blog post for New Orleans of 2006, so visit it now and follow the link to the song. If you listen closely, you will understand the importance. If you grok why a song might be the most important thing of the past year, you are already one of us. And if you're in the doldrums, this is the song to lift you up and take you to the next level.

Somehow. Someday.
We need just one victory and we're on our way.
Praying for it all day. Fighting for it all night.
Give just just once victory and we'll be all alright.

Thank you, Peter. Thank you, Todd.

If you gave my a blank check to spend on saving New Orleans, I would hire Todd Rundgren to play this at the opening of the Sugar Bowl. Forget the Saints Are Coming. Forget victimhood and When The Levees Broke.

This is the song I want everyone in New Orleans to hear. Because I know a place where dreams are born, and time is never planned. I just needed Peter and Todd to remind me, to lift my own spirits so I can help to find the good amidst all the struggle here, to send me off to reread the words I posted in one of those "dark" pieces of the last few weeks:
"...the world you see outside of you is a reflection of what you have inside
you. If you only see problems and darkness that's all there's ever going to be.
But if you're one of those people who see lightness and hope, then you can make

Amen and Namaste!
I just want to bang on the drum all day!

But unfortunately, so did Dick Shavers.
Beautiful post, Paul, as usual. But when you say, "I know a place where dreams are born, and time is never planned", isn't that Neverland?
And thank you, Mark. I'm listening to the official Todd bootleg from the Almsot Human tour right now. Great stuff. I recall seeing then at Tips with a large group of friends most of whom no longer live here...sigh...
Happy New Year to you and to yours, Mark. May 2007 be the best year ever!
yah you right.

happy new year cuz.

rick in da eight ward.

p.s. peace on yah brah!
More spirit and soul to ya'. Keep on pushin'.
This post will be included in tomorrow's edition of the Carnival of Hurricane Relief. See:
It amazes me how a song/artiste can touch us in moments of deep despair. Liked the mention of Hitchhiker's Guide, and "Don't Panic", RIP Douglas Adams! I've only been to NOLA once, back in early 1996, and only for 2 days, but I really wish I had the time then to really experience the area. I wish you and your compatriots the best of luck, and who knows, maybe your words will appear in front of Todd's eyes, and he'll be doing a show for NOLA! And thanks to Adrastos for the link to your site.
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"And when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcome, but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive." -- Audie Lorde

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