The Sixties – the Anglo Music Scene

November 5, 2010

http://www.youtube.com/v/NuYFPyeWuig?fs=1&hl=en_US

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Footloose, footsore on the St James Way

October 22, 2010

In May and June of

MMX I walked the St James Way. It will remain one of the more important journeys of my life.

Before I embarked on this journey, I did what most people do: I researched the Way and went so far as to drive to St Jean Pied-de-Port (for some cycling too). Reading the literature does not prepare you for the Way anymore than reading a sci-fi novel prepares you for a trip to an outlying galaxy. Even though I had read, calculated and made exhaustive lists, I did not know what to expect, not really. When visiting St Jean-pied-de-port (St John at-the-foot-of-the-mountains) last year, I asked more than a dozen pilgrims (those who had been walking from as far away as Switzerland)  what I should expect. They were very imprecise, it seemed to me.  Purposefully, I thought.

My preparation did not make the journey any easier. However, like many travellers the difficulties were of my own doing. I committed a few cardinal sins. My boots were too new though I had bought them six months before and “broke them in”, or so I thought. My rucksack was too heavy which is to say I carried too much dross with me. To put it another way, you cannot, you should not, the comforts of home should stay at home. Those things I thought I needed I ended up leaving behind at the hostels. First it was something a little heavy, then something bulky then finally even trousers and underwear. To this end hostels have a catchall bin for pilgrims who are wishing to donate and those looking for a lost sock or all weather underpants. It seemed that many pilgrims were better prepared – and so they were as I subsequently found out – while many were very ill prepared indeed. The most ill prepared pilgrim I met  was a friendly sympathetic nurse from northern Ontario. She had a few handicaps. She spoke no English although this was not a big problem as the second largest group of foreign pilgrims were French-speakers. She was overweight and she wore crocs.  In retrospect, when my blisters started to multiply like promiscuous rats, I kicked myself for not bringing along my own crocs. She was brave. She did not whine. But she was slow so I left her behind. This is the first lesson I learned. You must walk your own way, at your own speed and in your own thoughts.

I decided to start my journey on the eastern side of the Pyrenees, which is to say St Jean pied-de-port. It is my understanding that pilgrims who start in St Jean have grander bragging rights than those who start in Roncesvalles. Perhaps bragging rights  is the wrong term. Anyway, it was during this first day that I met pilgrims who had started 1000 km before me in Le Puy and others even further north and east. By their measure, I was a Sunday stroller. It was also on this first day that a pilgrim offered me piece of his meal when I sat down dismally lacking in nourishment of any kind. It was morning, it was sunny, it was grandly beautiful and I had not food in my kit. He also imparted advice: Always have food with your when your start out. His kindness was returned several times over on the journey.

It was also here, on my first day and crossing the Pyrenees that I met the members of  my first family. It was this family which stayed intact for the longest period. Halfway on my journey I developed a toe infection which obliged me to part from the family. Had it not been for this we might have held together to Santiago. As it happened, two members (who had joined the family some days after Roncesvalles) stayed together to the very end: to Lands End or Finistere.

Upon leaving St Jean, the hosts (albergiste) of the hostel – two real salt-of-the-earth Frenchmen, and true devout Catholics – instructed us how to greet other pilgrims. "Ultreia!" The response is "Et suseia". Rarely did I hear these words bandied about and certainly most pilgrims did not understand what it all meant. It means simply "Forward, ahead. “ And God help us!

But as I said, most people did not know what it meant and therefore kept to the benign "Buen Camino!" This anodyne greeting started to grate towards the end of the journey. I suspect it was because most pilgrims use it as a cover or as a way to dismiss the occasion to prevent another pilgrim from starting a dialogue. This was the way it worked: you mumbled ‘Buen Camino!" and continued on your merry way without missing a step. If you did then you were inviting conversation. At the end of the journey, the last thing a tired pilgrim needs is another chatty pilgrim rabbiting on about things of idiotic unimportance. Frankly, after one month of heat, cold, rain, snow, infected toes, blisters too numerous to count, irregular and insufficient or poor quality food, lack of proper kipping accommodation, it all starts to break down, even for the most courageous and intrepid traveller. It is also at the halfway point that one learns the meaning of well worn adages. Silence is golden is understood. What goes up must come down. Share and share alike. A fool and his gold are soon parted. Of the three love/charity is the most important. Strangely, tiredness, sore, blistered, bloody, infected feet is no reason to not continue. This is another important  lesson one learns on the St James is: never stop!

In spite of the fact that I carried a lot of weight and did indeed discard unnecessary accoutrements, I did have music with me. I played Pergolesi’s Fac ur ardeat cor meum daily, to give me courage and put me into a spiritual mood. It became my signature. Pilgrims walking beside me or with me would inevitably ask for an encore. I mean I did not sing it. Well I did, but only to accompany the joyful sonorous rendition by Sebastian Henning and René Jacob. I especially enjoyed this masterly musical piece after the daily rosary, or when I sat down to tuck into a fruit.

Why do it?

The St James Way is not to everyone’s taste. Or rather parts of it are not. The faith-based or religious reasons are less comforting than they once were and sadly, many of the  pilgrims who walk the Camino do not do it for religious reasons. The other way to say this is that some of the pilgrims who walk the Camino are not very religious. Indeed I met some were as venal, gritty, uninspired as rats taking a free ride on bowels of the Parisian sewage system. You learn this as you walk beside strangers (who quickly become friends). You walk the St James Way not to judge nor be judged but being human, one does precisely that. Sometimes that which comes out of another human being’s mouth can make one scratch one’s head. A French pilgrim told me, in order, what things are important to him and on those things he contemplated on the St James Way. He, a man approaching seventy, revealed to me that his list was short but it included  the very mundane – wife, family, children, work, friends but finally, sex (which he enjoyed with gusto).  I do not think I showed any surprise on my face.  I was now in the last 100 km of the Walk and hoping deep quiet. After this revelation I decided to walk on my own.

Some pilgrims could not rightfully be described as pilgrims. Some, too many, it seemed, were there for reasons to do with sport. There were those who were certainly not pilgrims, if one was to judge by their words. Yes, I did meet a few who, after the first greeting, went into vituperative paroxysm even make noises like "Oh the churches are so opulent. Would it not make more sense to sell all those riches and give the money to the poor?" Head scratching is permitted, I told myself. And tut-tutting and a feeling of vexed by simple minds. Then it echoes in my mind: Faith, hope and charity and of these the greatest is charity. I smile. I listen and bid that person  adieu. Thankfully I encountered less than a handful of such interested unbelievers. After such encounters I could not help feeling that for someone who is actually walking the El Camino for religious reasons, it sometimes felt as though I was the odd man outt.

The people who do not walk the St James for religious reasons do it for spiritual reasons. Still others do it for "other" reasons. Many of these wander the El Camino for physical fitness. Still others, as crass as it sounds, because it is a cheap holiday.

In the video vignettes I posed three questions:

a) What is your name?

b) From where do you hail?

c) What is the reason for your journey?

Videos (Short versions)


Footie with head butting Iberians

June 26, 2010

For some days, I was able to state categorically, my view, on the World Cup. Whenever the discussion would veer my way I would sagaciously utter : “I have only two words to say: seven, nil”. Of course I was referring to the trounce, the otherwise not hapless North Korean squad, suffered at the hands of the only other Iberian team: the Lusitani. Now both teams are in the last eight but the match in which they will face each other will be good football, no doubt, but careful; like a man going out for a late Sunday walk in a dogs-only run.

Both teams played an enjoyable football but the Spanish side seemed to have a handle on what it takes to go through. Portugal’s side kept the match to Brazil to a zero zero draw. There were no moments in which either side shone. Well, in the first half, the Boys from Rio did not samba very much but indeed showed panache at  breaking ankles. Some would say that this aggressiveness may be put down to a friendly rivalry borne of a common history and language: That is to say the colonials were getting theirs back.

Now the Lusitani will face off the side representing their Iberian cousins. This is a disaster for chappies like me. I will have to root for both sides, at the same time. It is not fair. I bought both national flags but I do not want to be waving both flags, during the same match. I might even give it a miss. What will I do when Xavi scores? Followed by a wallop of a goal by Ronaldo? My heart can’t stand the strain: I will give it miss. For sure. Maybe.


Lest we forget!

April 28, 2010

I received this (below) from a friend. 
—-
The Nobel Prize doesn’t mean as much as it once did.

 Remember Irena Sendler?
We must never forget….
And must never allow it to happen again…
 Subject: Remember Irena Sendler?
In Memoriam

Irena Sendler 

There recently was a death of a 98 year-old lady named Irena. During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ‘ulterior motive’ … She KNEW what the Nazi’s plans were for the Jews, (being German.) Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and she carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger kids…) She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises. During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save
2500 kids/infants. She was caught, and the Nazi’s broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard.After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted. 

Last year Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize … She was not selected. 

Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming.
 (Does this make you feel shame for the degredation of what we thought the Nobel Peace Prize once represented???)

Powerful message, especially the “cartoon.” Let us never forget!
63 years later



In MEMORIAM – 63 YEARS LATER
 

Please read the little cartoon carefully, it’s powerful. Then read the comments at the end.
I’m doing my small part by forwarding this message. I hope you’ll consider doing the same.
 

In Memoriam
 

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with many people looking the other way! 

Now, more than ever, with Iraq , Iran , and others, claiming the Holocaust to be ‘a myth,’ it’s imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because there are others who would like to do it again. 


This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide! 


Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute it around the world. 


Please send this e-mail to people you know and ask them to continue the memorial chain.
 

Please don’t just delete it. 


It will only take you a minute to pass this along. Thanks!



God Stone is Lauri Goodstein or ne eas ibi

April 5, 2010


One should never throw stones if one lives in a glass house. Apparently, Goodstein (my entymological guess is that this is derived from the German meaning “God Stone”) has not come upon this piece of folk wisdom. She? (my brother-in-law carries the same Christian name but he is a he) has decided that she will bring down the Catholic Church – with the aid of the NY Times editors. Good luck. I hope you win if only so you will be able to see the result of your keen endeavors. On the other hand, I hope that you do not and that the hazards of your fair city fall upon thee. Oh well, I have to withdraw this last statement because as a man who believes deeply in the tenets of the faith, I should not hate you, I should not wish you ill, I should turn my cheek for you to slap it good and proper.

You might be scratching your noggin thinking that since Lauri Goodstein covers religious issues for the NY Times, then her bread and butter (and wine surely) will have to be rationed somewhat if the Church disappears from the scene. She is counting on the probability that it will not. She is cynically (read her articles) playing to the galleries knowing full well that she will pick up renown in the klatch that protects her with cooing comforting words. She knows full well that the Church is not the American Presidency though she has promised herself to have a rum time trying to bring it down anyway. Never mind the mea culpas emanating from the Vatican. She knocks these aside much as she whisks dandruff from her shoulder. She is going have cake and eat it too. Or more appropriately, as this is Easter, she has tasted the first drop of blood of the lamb in her wolfish maw and she will going to enjoy it to the fullest, the devil take the hindmost.

Putting aside the comic-relief mixed metaphors, one feels a deep weariness with the rabid liberal media which cries wolf at the slightest misperceived insult aimed at its holier-than-thou, proud, nose-lifted-to-the air head vacuity. Oh pishposh – so what if the insult is a fair, common-sense critique at the way it prats about throwing tantrums in the manner of a very spoiled child which has had its ration of sweets reduced from the weekly one stone to 3 ounces. The liberal press needs a good gob smacking (or clip around the ear).  I had my gob smacked, now and then, as a young sprat committing mischief whenever I fancied or the opportunity arose. But I was without guile. I knew I deserved the clip and fell into glum silence thinking that maybe I really do have to sharpen up and grow up. This cannot be said of the liberal press, neither the European and North American. It does not engage in soul searching and certainly not in self-critique. God forbid! It does not act with guile. It acts with deep mischief and and a profound thirst for  revenge. It reminds one of the Ayatollahs in todays Persia. Indeed, if one were not to careful, one might draw the conclusion that God Stone was having her coffers filled by Persian theocrats and Saudi misogynist princes just because her unjust attacks serve their purposes very well. What better way for the Saudi house to rid itself of a troublesome Roman Bishop who insists on the same right to build churches in Mecca as Muslims have to build mosques in Rome. Of course, that is just silly speculation, on my part. Of course Laurie Goodstein doe not take underhands from reputable bribe-givers.

If Laurie (may I call you by your first name, after all we are getting on so swimmingly) does get her wish and the Catholic Church is decimated then well, she have one less victim to lash with her whip – er tongue. I find this sad as her income will suffer and she may have to give up the frugal luxuries of an underpaid NY Times hack. Who will she have to attack when her favourite target is shredded into the dustbin of history? She won’t have Dick (Or is that the Pope’s willy) to kick around anymore, will she?  “Let the perverts rot in hell.”  she thought as she wrote her recent piece condemning and indeed demanding an Inquisition to burn the Pope at the stake. Go the NY Times website and search for Laurie Goodstein. You will get a listing which spans hundreds of articles. A cursory glance will tell you that the vast majority of her articles are deeply critical of Christianity (not Islam, not Judaism, not Buddhism, not Hinduism, not Shintoism, not Paganism). If you then read each one of them you will come upon the disturbing thought that this woman does indeed have an axe to grind (or is that a Pope to crucify) and that the NY Times has given her the platform on which she can spout her jocular venom. The problem with her rabidness is that it appeals to the intellectual left and wobbly liberals who love to guffaw at the awkwardness the Church is facing. Oh let us not forget that the intellectual liberal left’s most avid supporters, anti-Papist and lapsed Catholics as well as believers in Xenophon are also tastefully(no doubt) rejoicing at the spilling of the enemies’ blood.

OK, she may be your heroine but then there is Dowd, also of the NY Times. Maureen Dowd sharp as a Schick razor.

Dowd’s  most recent clever-clogs invective slagged off everyone except  Ireland’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. I think one can say that she almost praised the Bishop. However, I did detect a furtive note in the tone of her invective. It was less invective than say, previous invectives. It may be that I detected the only tiniest wee smidgen, a sliver really, a on-coming mea culpa. Or is she withdrawing into a defensive posture? Clever, is all I can say.  Oh and Dowd is also cunning Latinist. I will heed her admonishment though: Ne eas ibi.


The times they are a’changin’

March 29, 2010
The debate that is throwing the liberal press into paroxysms of pleasure worldwide is the paedophile scandals in the Catholic Church. Our parish priest brought it up at the end of Mass and with that he opened up the pretty kettle of fish. I do not blame him. Indeed I think it was darned brave of him. Our small church was full to overflowing – clearly the wagons were circling in a defensive manoeuvre. Yesterday was Palm Sunday. 

The Mass was long because we read out the full Passion of the Christ. Some, if not all, congregations, step outside into the bleak (Finnish) weather and walk around the block waving palm fronds. We did not but the Helsinki congregation did. It was filmed by Finnish Broadcasting. The little foray by the congregation seemed furtive. The waving palms were in the wrong place, and it seemed, in the wrong time. Quaint.  Still, it may be that we are all beyond the point of quaint. Are we not? We, after all, are  urbane, chic, tattooed, cocaine-snorting, cross-gendered, Lady Gaga adoring, vegans? Er, not me.  Then the thought came to me  as I watched the video insert: thieves in the night make distracting noises when they are caught out.

At least that was gist of the report: the manner of filming and the dialogue were suggestive, and like all well trained dutiful news watchers I succumbed.  At 8:30 that evening, sitting in front of the telly, I imagined other Finns watching the reportage  and smiling: in neutral befuddlement, some in the warmth of schadenfreude, no doubt. Some were surely circumspect, like one of the parishioners, who was interviewed in the reportage. I asked myself: was it the intent of the reporter to clamp down on common sense? Is the position of Finnish Broadcasting to hit a the victim when it is already on the ground and bleeding? The timing is perfect? Unfortunate? Easter? The start of Holy Week?


What has happened to the Finnish Lutheran Church in all this palaver? Where are the consoling words of solidarity from the new Lutheran Archbishop? I can only wonder. The Finnish Lutheran Church is also going through hard times. It is, no doubt, smarting from the loss of tithe-paying members (whom it believes have been pipped by the Catholic Church), the crushing surge of parishioners not showing up for Sunday services, the election of a Bishop who has tasted the fruit of several marriages and who will soon announce the benediction of gay unions, and sweat blood swallowing the rumours of de-coupling from the Finnish state apparatus and so on. Perhaps, the hierarchy of the Lutheran Church may be forgiven for rubbing its hands in subdued glee when the nose of  its  principal is tweaked. Nothing new then: Catholics forgive, sometimes too easily.

The Finnish Catholic Diocese-press attaché responsible in dealing with the Finnish press was interviewed – in the reportage noted above – and he uttered something which is historical in its significance. The utterance was first heard tripping off the tongue of a Brazilian bishop who was accused of paedophilia. The Bishop flippantly stated that the affair in which he was accused of paedophilia was nothing more than an homosexual affair. (His “victim”  disagreed and is now looking for compensation.) Well, that’s alright then. I shake my head in confusion.

Several issues are not discussed in the debate though. The liberal press’ craven pursuit of news grabbing headlines is driven by money – lucre, in this case, simultaneously filthy and perfumed – is one. The press attaché alluded to money as one of the motivating factors in the present brouhaha. This is not a particularity revealing comment as we have seen how lucre was doled out willy nilly to victims, true and connived, in the USA paedophile scandals some years back. The sharks, known as lawyers in the USA, smelled blood and have not let up in the pursuit of golden treasures. 
Catholic bashing is acceptable in many parts of the world and nowhere is more virulent than in countries where the Protestants are a majority. The present vituperations gloss over some important matters in the Church’s history, indeed in human history.  One of these is the matter of homosexual priests. There have been, and will continue to be, homosexual priests. There is no problem with a person being of that persuasion – the Church is an equal opportunity facilitator. The threshold issue is wether the priest is a practising homosexual. Hence, a priest in a sexual relationship (hetero, homo etc) is not acceptable material for the priesthood. 

The second matter is that whereas the Church has tried to maintain a non-relative position on issues of morality, the human species has not. What this means is that the Church believes that morality, ethical standards, are universal and timeless. Humans are flexible beyond good taste which means that human beings do not see it the same way. We wax and wane with the times when indeed we should be more forthright with ourselves and show some backbone. The Church did not condone paedophilia in the Middle Ages. Nor did it accept slavery as a God-given right. It has never accepted misogyny as having any positive social value. At one time it even stood against usury. On other hand, human society draws lines of moral righteousness in the sand. Yet we must be careful because sand shifts with the wind. For example: whereas paedophilia is a heinous crime today, the same cannot be said about its criminal status in, say, 1652, Lower Saxony. Whereas sodomy was a crime in many countries until the ninety seventies of the last century, today it is not. In Canada. an homosexual act between men is not considered a crime if one of the partners is a sixteen year old boy. In Costa Rica, it is but not if the sixteen year old boy is one hour past his eighteenth. What is the difference between 16 and 18 you might ask? 

The third matter is the core of the Christian faith and by extension, the construct of Western moral values. Christian belief is based on some very simple principals. These  can summarised by the Sermon on the Mount. Christianity stresses our earth-bound obligation to stand clearly for and practice grace, mercy, and forgiveness. We must live with faith, strive in hope and practice charity towards all. We are sinful beings but with God’s help we can strive towards these virtues. Let me put it another way. Take every one as they come. Accept that we are all weak in our own ways. Still, it is our duty to struggle to rise above our frailties, our own and those of our neighbour.  We are obliged to protect and nurture those who need us. Children, animals, the weak-bodied and weak minded, aged, the helpless, the chained are all in need of our mercy and help. We get nothing for our mercy but that is not important. What is important is that we should not expect to get anything back. We are urged on by the Christ to turn the other cheek to our enemy and even give them our hand when they are down.
The liberal press is hell-bent on kicking the stuffing out of the Catholic Church. The same Church which has taught me the simple life truths above. Ergo it is hell bent on kicking the stuffing out of me. I now ask myself: is it a conspiracy by the media to destroy the Catholic Church? I do not know the answers to these two questions. What I do not like though is that this witch hunt is diminishing me as a person. I have a strong belief in the goodness of the human spirit but sometimes it wavers. It wavers now.

The result of the liberal media’s force-fed poison brought me to my senses yesterday – in parish hall. I watched a young man (I would guess he was around 16 of age) hug the parish priest. The young man is a mentally deficient person who is joyful every waking moment of his life. He hugged the priest with great loving caress. The priest reciprocated in a warm manner. There was nothing in the gesture. It was the right thing to do. Then this young man’s father asked him to hug me. The young man walked away from me clearly stating that he was not ready to hug me. Fair enough but …

Sitting in the car, driving along a bleak grey motorway, undistracted by traffic,  it dawned on me that what I had seen was no more than what it was. Common sense prevailed. Thanks be to God! Stuff the liberal press.

Anyway, I put on my headphones and listened to the tenor parts of Händel’s Messiah which  – if the our choir is not ravaged by a paedophile scandal between now and Good Friday – it will be presenting at the Turku Cathedral.

I finish this rant by quoting a well known poem … by Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

Als sie die Juden holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Jude.

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestierte.

  • When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn’t a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.


Random Acts of Violins on a Subway *Metro * Underground

March 22, 2010

There is not much to say. Smile!


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