Sunday, April 23, 2006

Unprinted letter

In the Tuesday Times the DOD listed six soldiers who most recently died in Iraq. Their ages 22, 24, 22, 19, 20 and 22 work out to an average of 21.5 years. There was probably a lot they haven’t done yet; but die. Their total combat experience was probably not more than a few months. 59 and 65 are the ages of the president and the vice president an average of 62 years and counting. Their total combat experience in years, months or days is “none” and unlikely to change. At least they have that in common, certainly there are no more changes for these soldiers. “It’s always the old who lead us to the wars, always the young who die” sang Phil Ochs, he thought he was signing about Viet Nam and the past too bad he was right about the future.

Two at 87

The poet/singer/activist gods were very busy in 1919. They scored a double triumph when both Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Pete Seeger arrived. 87 years later they remain the benchmark of the humane ideal. A recent New Yorker piece celebrates Pete and while his voice is no longer what it was (capable of singing the same song twice at the same time…Arlo Guthrie) his mind and banjo remain sharp. I was fortunate enough to see and hear Ferlinghetti last night at Harvard (my lucky second sighting I actually sat and chatted with him in Chicago five years ago) and it was the first time I’ve ever seem a poet get a standing ovation both before and after a reading. I can tell you he holds bush’s butt to the same candle as he once did Johnson.