Saturday, July 11, 2015


Miles came up in conversation
today, and it was perfect weath-
er for him. One thought back to
his extraction of improvisation
- and of composition - from an
experience of listening. 

On a night like this, I ven-
tured into the Village to lis-
ten to Miles, alone. Aged 4, in
contemporary terms, I was 20 at
the time. Until then it was the
most intimate experience of my
existence. Man walks into a bar,
hears a soul, declining to be 
confined to itself. 

It's a summer night in Virginia.

                    .. What he is listening to is
               The muteness of the dog at each farm
               in the valley. Their silence means no
               lover is abroad nor any vagrant looking
               for where to sleep. But there is a young
               man, very still, under the heavy grapes
               in another part of Heaven ..

Miles Davis
Kind of Blue
  Blue in Green
Columbia, 1959©

Jack Gilbert
  Prospero Listening
  to the Night
op. cit.

Saturday commute cx: riparian consolations

   A thoughtful reader might
   remind me, having conced-
   ed the persistence of the
   Virginia goodboy haircut,
   that the region does have
   a lock on the rhetoric of

Bertold Zahoran
Matt McGlone

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hazarding one's head

For untold years in Virginia, as
an expatriate from California, I
have implored my barber(s) not to
release me, looking like a "Vir-
ginia goodboy." The default hair-
cut in Virginia is that creature;
and little so reinforces the ag-
ony of that archetypical tonsor-
ial image as hyper-paying a self-
absorbed stylist to ignore one's
requests. I have this on my plate
again this weekend, and I'd rath-
er skip the whole miserable folly.

What explains the permission we
give, to barbers' apparent arro-
gance, but that it represents
their scars of being commanded by
our nannies or grannies, before
we knew what was happening, to
reduce us to little acolytes for
Hallmark card fantasies of "real
boys"? Do they, for all their af-
fectation of expression, equate
it with toying with means to a
prescribed end?

Or have we all, even as na-
turalized Virginians, been
hauled across some Lethe of 
drudgery, which no commission 
of ours can breach? Why was it 
not this way at the St Regis, 
when I was in college; why was
it not this way on the coast
all those years? What is it a-
bout Virginia; or do I describe 
one of those pervasive, little
catastrophes of a culture where
we are shaped against our grain,
as perpetual mannequins of stag-
nant pastilles?

Bertold Zahoran
Tim Feldhaus

Thursday, July 9, 2015


The lower house in South Carolina voted its concurrence yesterday with the upper house's resolution, to transfer the battle flag of Confederate secession from atop a flagpole designated for it by prior statute, to archival display in a museum of State history. This is in direct consequence of extremely terrible publicity the flag had drawn last month, as an icon attractive to a mass murderer. The same Governor, who one day before survivors publicly forgave that figure, clamored at the microphone for his extinguishment, had been at pains to stipulate that she supported this act with no ad-verse reflection upon the flag's previous life. She is being touted again for that "bucket of warm spit," the second highest office in this nation.

When publicly funded placements of crèches and other iconography of widely held beliefs have sometimes been deemed, judicially or other-wise, to be inappropriate where they are, there has often been a great outcry that the experience of belief, and its claim to ful-fillment by expression - much less, by exclusionary enactments, as in matrimony - will endure a grievous wound. But as one looks about, at the sales figures for observances of these beliefs, they fail to show it; the number of recordings of celebrations fails to show it; the holding of ceremonial festivals fails to show the decline or the abatement foretold. Murder and procreation, too, are likely to be safe from any progress. 

It is only fortunate, then, that demography and long-deferred voter registrations have made it expedient for those who've flourished by the past to compete for flourishing in the present. Even as expanded voter registrations, and the equal protection of the ballot ("one man, one vote") endure renewed, reinvented attack, those who've flourished by the past have gained enough experience with the relo-cation of icons, to know how to extract their import, even in their transit. 

It's July and in South Carolina the young are stepping into every available tide, lake and stream. Isn't it remarkable, how in this act, more possibly even than at this age, they resemble, even reveal, an unprovincial character, claiming an amenity, of which the defining, irresistible promise is the same for everyone? The animals come in herds or flocks or packs, but only for themselves. Yet every time that one, solitary fellow immerses himself in the stream, he discovers the feeling of everyone else. As if it might be all they could expect, they step like mammals toward refreshment, who come to inhabit adjustment.

The times won't be changing South Carolinians. It's grounds enough for celebration, to have them all.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

In living memory

Possibly we might hear
less talk of a failure
of obligation, from the
most chronically failed
state in modern history.

       One of the advantages
       of acquiring a little
       capital with a page is
       that in an emergency,
       some can be spent. It
       doesn't take much, to
       remember what humanity
       has spent already, to
       forgive debts greater 
       than ever could be paid.

       Who can credit this in-
       teresting new squeamish-
       ness on fiscal error?

       I don't think we get up
       in the morning to pre-
       tend we have no history,
       and I don't know anybody
       who can bear to revisit
       piety's shrill hysteria.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Grandiose alliances showing age

The European monetary union, like
the North Atlantic Treaty Organiza-
tion in its spanning of improbable
assimilations, from the Baltic to
Crimea, Gibraltar to the Bosporus,
is showing the same self-imposed
treachery of overreaching vanities
in imperialism by another name, os-
tensibly for contrary purposes. The
consequence, of compelling the in-
congruous to bend to the unworkable,
has exposed a little shame, no one
could miss. Will this be forgotten,
as it has been forgotten yet again,
what societies are for?

Syntagma Square
July 5, 2015
The New York Times

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Theatre in the wood

Mrs Clinton slipped into Hanover
on the 3rd, almost unannounced,
but even then drew a throng some
8 hundred strong, wearing red by
the wood at the Big Green. The
"Still for Hill" brigade fell in,
with immaculate precision, while
hamburgers emerged, under tents.

So often the nemesis of wretches
everywhere, Fate deserved credit
this time for the amends it made
in the form of poignant interven-
tion, by a child not strapped to
an IED, wandering through secur-
ity to claim a place on the bema,
the stone plinth where Dartmouth
guys used to trudge to collect
degrees. The odds, need we say,
of a child's wandering onto the
proscenium at her pronouncement
of the word for child, feminine,
by empathy of Fate alone, were
said to approximate the prospect
of her reprising this act at the
Bohemian Grove. Hamburgers and
lemonade might not pass security.

Somehow, we'll get through this.