“A Blue Sky Like No Other”: a one-man play by Steve Fetter

Steve Fetter’s one-man play is a moving tribute to the World Trade Center first responders who sacrificed everything to save others. With both sorrow and humor he describes his first-hand experiences with such eloquence that we can almost feel what he felt that fateful day seventeen years ago. He goes on to describe the impact that those events have had upon him and his life. Beautifully and seamlessly written, staged and performed, A Blue Sky Like No Other is a 9-11 tribute like no other that I have seen.

Available on Amazon Prime at https://www.amazon.com/Other-remembrance-before-during-after/dp/B07H9H7Y7H/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1538516471&sr=8-1&keywords=steve+fetter

Advice offered as from a wise old uncle

Listen, Judge Kavanaugh, I know where that anger is coming from. It’s pain, man, and you don’t need that, nobody needs that. You gotta let it go, man, it’s time. You don’t wanna suffer the rest of your life, it’s not worth it.

Don Grady William Demarest My Three Sons 1969.JPG

Whether you’re on the Supreme Court or not, you don’t wanna be bitter and angry the rest of your life. That’s no life. There’s only one thing to do, you gotta do this: You gotta face up and let it out. You gotta come to terms with what you did and you gotta let it out. You gotta get some therapy, man, and come to realize that kids do dumb things because they’re kids. Drinking, peer pressure, total immaturity, all those factors. But 98% of them grow up and grow out of it and that’s exactly what you did. You matured, you left those behaviors behind. I know, I worked in Juvenile Court for a number of years and I learned that kids are kids and they do a lot of rotten things because they’re kids and their brains and hormones are like refried beans and hot sauce and nearly all of them grow out of it when that magical thing called maturity (or indigestion) takes hold. You are a perfect case in point.

Sometimes, though, character becomes an issue and the memories are still there and the pain is there and you gotta deal with it. That’s where therapy comes in. And honesty, including honesty with yourself. It’s the only way. The only way to peace of mind. Life is too short, man, nobody needs that kind of thing hanging over their head. The guilt. It’s not too late. It’s the perfect time. Take a deep breath. It’s not too late for Justice Thomas, either. With all due respect, he could finally find some happiness, some peace of mind, some joy even, if he just opened up and finally came to grips with what he did, and what he denied. You don’t wanna be a bitter, angry judge for all those years, nothing could be worse. I have a feeling that, if you face up to your past with courage and honesty and come to terms with it, you could be a pretty decent Supreme Court Judge. Way too conservative, of course, but decent and reasonable and compassionate.

And you might be surprised at how forgiving people can be. Forgiving to those who have hurt them and forgiving to themselves. Boy, it’s the best thing. But you can’t force it.

I wish you luck.

Advice offered as from a wise old uncle

Listen, Judge Kavanaugh, I know where that anger is coming from. It’s pain, man, and you don’t need that, nobody needs that. You gotta let it go, man, it’s time. You don’t wanna suffer the rest of your life, it’s not worth it.

Don Grady William Demarest My Three Sons 1969.JPG

Whether you’re on the Supreme Court or not, you don’t wanna be bitter and angry the rest of your life. That’s no life. There’s only one thing to do, you gotta do this: You gotta face up and let it out. You gotta come to terms with what you did and you gotta let it out. You gotta get some therapy, man, and come to realize that kids do dumb things because they’re kids. Drinking, peer pressure, total immaturity, all those factors. But 98% of them grow up and grow out of it and that’s exactly what you did. You matured, you left those behaviors behind. I know, I worked in Juvenile Court for a number of years and I learned that kids are kids and they do a lot of rotten things because they’re kids and their brains and hormones are like refried beans and hot sauce and nearly all of them grow out of it when that magical thing called maturity (or indigestion) takes hold. You are a perfect case in point.

Sometimes, though, character becomes an issue and the memories are still there and the pain is there and you gotta deal with it. That’s where therapy comes in. And honesty, including honesty with yourself. It’s the only way. The only way to peace of mind. Life is too short, man, nobody needs that kind of thing hanging over their head. The guilt. It’s not too late. It’s the perfect time. Take a deep breath. It’s not too late for Justice Thomas, either. With all due respect, he could finally find some happiness, some peace of mind, some joy even, if he just opened up and finally came to grips with what he did, and what he denied. You don’t wanna be a bitter, angry judge for all those years, nothing could be worse. I have a feeling that, if you face up to your past with courage and honesty and come to terms with it, you could be a pretty decent Supreme Court Judge. Way too conservative, of course, but decent and reasonable and compassionate.

And you might be surprised at how forgiving people can be. Forgiving to those who have hurt them and forgiving to themselves. Boy, it’s the best thing. But you can’t force it.

I wish you luck.

The word is Despicable

After many more years in court than Brett Kavanaugh, one thing became very very clear: Men who commit violence against women are almost never able to admit it publicly. Many can’t even admit it to themselves. That includes physical violence and sexual violence.

It’s pretty obvious that the reason why it’s so hard is that it’s such an indefensible (and yes, despicable) thing. There’s absolutely no way for an offender to self-justify such mean and dirty violence. To admit it would admit to being rotten to the core. Thus, they deny.

To Have and Have Not, by Ernest Hemingway

“If he wanted us he would have signaled us. If he don’t want us it’s none of our business. Down here everybody aims to mind their own business.”

“All right. Suppose you mind yours then. Take us over to that boat.”

It’s Hemingway at his hard-boiled best. It’s a tough and ready rum-runner named Harry, who smuggles booze and criminals between Cuba and the Florida Keys during the darkest days (and nights ) of the depression. It’s just a tropical storm away from Katherine Anne Porter’s Ship of Fools.

And, using post-modernist devices like shifting narration between characters and then into third person, Hemingway nails down the misery, the desperation, that the Great Depression left in its wake. He adds a final section to this short novel, providing stark social commentary through several characters who have little or no connection to the main story line. But, though the book’s structure may be flawed, “Papa” Ernie’s insight into the suffering and cruelty of the times is right on course.

“Released”

I have a weakness for fiction set in small towns. I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone. Look at the popularity of Peyton Place.

Well, the small Nebraska town in which author Bonnie Lacy set her novel Released is a bit of a Peyton Place itself. It’s a battleground, in fact, for the ceaseless clash of good and evil. And as that battle plays out, Lacy unwinds a powerful story of the humanity that resides in even the most hardened or sickened of souls. She gives us deep insight into the mind and feelings of an abused child—one of society’s saddest secrets—as well as the mind and heart of the abuser, all with a sensibility that is rare.

Downtown Osceola: north side of courthouse square

Clarence is an elderly convict full of bitterness. Bea is an abused child living in terror. Katty is her abusive, addicted mother. Their lives intersect, and a decades-old mystery is re-awakened. Told with wit and realism, the mystery grows into a nail-biting life or death struggle. The combined strength of unselfish love and religious faith is the only alliance that can champion the good side of that struggle.

Released is the first book in Bonnie Lacy’s Great Escapee Series. I am anxious to pursue whatever truths are yet to unfold.

May the Farce be with you

Now we know what Trump and Putin were talking about in their private meeting in Helsinki. Space Wars. Maybe they already have a board game designed and the whole summit was set up so they could try it out without anyone looking over their shoulders. Maybe they had a couple of those lightsabers from last year’s Star Wars convention and were jousting all over Gothic Hall in Helsinki’s Presidential Palace while their highly-paid advisors were standing outside in the hallways looking lost.

Because if Trump is so gung-ho about creating a Space Force, a sixth branch of the military, you better believe Putin is just as gung-ho about the plan. What better way for the two bullies to distract attention from real issues, award giant contracts to their friends in the military arms industry, and, at the same time, have a heck of a lot of fun acting out their science fiction fantasies.

Nevermind that our space programs already have cost billons and billions of dollars with little real benefit to our struggling species here on earth. Nevermind that we already have plenty of terrestrial wars and genocides and terrorist attacks to keep us busy day and night just adding up the number of deaths of innocent victims.

Maybe Trump will appoint William Shatner as Commander of the Space Force and Harrison Ford as Chief of Star Battles. On second thought, he’ll probably appoint his sons. Their birthdays are coming up.

WHITE BIRD, by RUTA SEVO

“It’s an adventure you haven’t had yet, Thomas. Sit.”

Thomas smiled. He was thinking of his dog Sally.

For a long time I’ve had a fascination with westerners who expatriate themselves to remote places in the Asian Subcontinent. The way they make full and rich lives for themselves, steeped in eastern tradition, and yet often accomplish great things for the welfare of the local inhabitants, somehow intrigues me. I’ve heard some pretty amazing stories. Well, here’s a pretty amazing book:

Picture

In her novel White Bird, writer-scholar-translator Ruta Sevo skillfully explores the unusual demographics of present-day Nepal and the clash of cultures that confronts an American visitor and raises some very fundamental questions about what life is, or ought to be, all about. Thomas Rusak, the American, has come to Nepal with his brother’s ashes in search of the most meaningful spot for scattering them to the wind and rain. This mission turns, necessarily, into a search for his brother’s mysterious past in Nepal, a past that Thomas feels he must unearth in order to finally understand his brother and the lifelong complexities of their relationship. And Thomas cannot open up that past without intruding intimately into the lives of two extraordinary women.

As it turns out, Sevo tells this story with such pungent detail, such a “sensory onslaught” of Nepali life and landscapes, that it becomes more than just a story about individuals. It becomes a story about cultures. It becomes the equally mysterious search for the essence of that great magnetic pull that eastern philosophies have over westerners, who sometimes chuck it all for the rustic spiritual life in places like Nepal. Thus, White Bird is a dazzling, swooping mystery that lifts itself to different altitudes. Like all good mysteries, there may be answers for every question on one level, but ten questions for every answer on another.

Sleepless in San Ysidro

If only I could sleep. Tomorrow is too important. That’s why I can’t sleep. If I’m too tired tomorrow how can I be strong for myself and for my kids. By tomorrow this time where will I be, where will my children be? I don’t want to think about it. But I can’t help it. I can’t help thinking that I have done this to my children. That I have put them through so much danger, that I don’t know what kind of dangers are ahead for them. What will happen if we are separated? How can they speak for themselves, they don’t know English, not enough to explain our situation. Neither do I, but at least if we were together—

Look at the way Antonio is sleeping, hugging his backpack like it was his old stuffed dinosaur. Jacklyn, thank god, she’s asleep, poor thing. I hope she doesn’t remember that nightmare when she wakes up. But how will she ever lose the memory of what happened to her after we left Durango. Molested by that gang member who carried drugs, while I was throwing up in the brush from the bad food. Her clothes torn and she had thrown up, too, from the things that monster did to her. Even now, look at the way that man sleeping near her keeps inching closer every time he turns over. In a minute I am going to wake her and trade places with her. She didn’t deserve any of this cruelty.

I really wish to god I had turned back before we got to the border of Mexico. But the farther we went the harder it was to turn back. How can I ever forget this living nightmare? This thing I have done, listening to false promises and lies and giving all our money to these bastard smugglers, these “coyotes”, who tell you they will keep you safe and get you to the U.S. and you will have a job there and a place to live. I was a fool, just like all these other people. And now look what I’ve done to my children. I suppose that’s the real reason why I can’t sleep.

Robbed twice, then arrested by Mexican immigration, they separated me and my children for two days. Then they finally let us go and told us not to stop until we reach the U.S. border. I was almost raped by that bastard smuggler but those two men from my country were nearby and saw I was in trouble and scared him off.

I miss the baby so much. But how could I bring her? You can’t take a three year old on this kind of travel. Some people do, but—. Will I ever see her again? Will I ever see Grandma? Sometimes I wonder if I ever really will.

In the morning I have to be sure the children remember those two words: Asilo Politico. The coyotes tell us that the Americans have nice hotels for families like us, we will get our own room, food, everything we need while they listen to our case. I don’t really believe any of that. I don’t know where they will put us. I don’t know if they will take my children from me. But I know they will not harm my children, they have compassion, they will give them plenty of food and a safe place to sleep with other children. Maybe they will let me visit them. That is all I care about. Maybe I will be able to sleep at night then. If I could only sleep now. But first I must move Jacklyn to the middle, between me and Antonio. I don’t want to wake him. He needs these few hours of peace. Before tomorrow comes.

No such law

I’ve been away from immigration law for six months now, but I can tell you this: There is no law that requires undocumented children and parents to be separated. If there were such an absurd law, you would have known about it long ago. Family unity is a fundamental principle of our immigration laws. You find it written into all aspects of our laws.

There are various laws and regulations that require certain removable aliens to be detained. Some criminals and those who pose a terrorist or security threat must be detained. Others may be detained or have a reasonable bond set if they are a danger to the community and/or are a flight risk. A lack of strong ties to the U.S. or the lack of any legally valid basis for remaining here generally indicate that the individual may be a flight risk.

If a parent is detained for one of the above reasons, then obviously the child cannot be kept with the parent in an adult detention facility and must be placed elsewhere. Undocumented children are not kept in immigration jails. Under the Flores v. Reno class action settlement, such children must be placed in the “least restrictive” setting appropriate to their age and needs. This might be a licensed group home or foster home, if no other relative is available. They go to school, receive medical care, counseling, etc.

Homeland Security has built family detention centers with family living units, but there are tens of thousands more families than can be accommodated. And other class action lawsuits have caused some of these centers to be shut down.

Family separations are thus an unfortunate, albeit temporary, situation that comes with immigration enforcement. Such separation should never be used as a deliberate policy.

Do you want good government or don’t you?

I’m Faith Wellernd and I approve this ad. . .

I believe I am qualified to be Governor of California because I have worked in all the branches of California government for many years, in leadership positions. Most recently I have been Lieutenant Governor and was Acting Governor for nine months while the Governor was recovering from heart surgery.

The problems we face are complicated and there are no simple answers or guarantees that we will overcome them. I can only promise that I will work hard and do my best to find those answers. I would like to lower taxes but only if we can meet the needs of the people of this State without spending as much as we spend now.

My opponent, Ernest Phelluh, would also make a good Governor. He has a great deal of experience and always does a good job. He is honest and sincere. He believes that California should meet its clean energy goals by emphasizing wind power over solar power. I believe that the emphasis should be more on solar power. So while I fundamentally disagree with him, I understand and respect his point of view.

Here’s some moderately-flattering footage of me digging the first shovelful at the groundbreaking for a new school. Here’s some moderately-flattering footage of Ernest cutting the ribbon on a new transit line.

Please consider both of our records and our platforms and vote for the candidate who you feel would best govern this State. Thank you.

PAID FOR BY THE CALIFORNIA MONEYLESS AND SLIME-FREE PUBLIC CAMPAIGN REFORM FUND

Postcards From the Edge

Postcards From the Edge, Carrie Fisher’s highly autobiographical novel, is made up of two parts, despite its table of contents which lists seven.

The first one-third of the book is written in first person and contains the journal of a Hollywood starlet who is a recovering drug abuser. Her journal is very frank and introspective, clever and nicely written. Her character is very well-developed, not surprisingly, since it is probably a mirror image of the author’s own character. It’s a good portrayal of what growing up in show business can do to fragile egos.

The most powerful and important component of the book is the inner monologue of a hardcore cocaine addict who is in denial. It is brilliant and, as the New York Times calls it, “harrowing”. Boy is that the right word. Fisher interlaces the guy’s monologue with the actress’s journal. The contrasts between the two characters are significant and full of meaning. And it would be hard to read the entirety of the guy’s monologue without the comic relief of her journal entries. The guy puts himself through hell, taking copious amounts of drugs, and reading his first-person account is a little taste of hell itself. But people need to understand that reality. School kids, especially, should read that part. Fisher apparently had swallowed some very strong doses of reality herself.

The last two-thirds of the book is in third-person with very little plot or character development. It shows the actress putting her life and acting career back on track after getting out of drug rehab. It has some funny repartee-type dialogue, some witty narration. But it is nothing like the first part of the book, and probably can be skipped altogether. I don’t know why Fisher made the book so disjointed. Seemingly there just wasn’t enough story to fill a whole book.

 

When does the Depressive phase kick in?

It’s kind of a mania: this book thing. I’m sure for people who are on their second or third book it’s easier to keep things in balance. But I’m a bundle of obsessive thoughts and impulses, with this debut book of mine. It’s out, it’s actually out. It’s listed. It’s on the market. It can be bought and, interestingly, it can also be sold.

In a week or two I’ll officially announce it. They tell me that timing is critical when it comes to PR. Yes, I must personally promote and PR the book. I don’t have a problem with that except my brain wants to work on PR strategy during the night when I should be sleeping so I get up at 3:30 and eat some Cheerios and turn on my computer and do book stuff until my brain starts to shut down around 6 and I can try some more sleeping but it’s never enough to catch me up and so I end up writing sentences like this. I think I’m losing my grip on reality. Maybe it wasn’t such a solid grip in the first place.

Princess Leia's characteristic hairstyle.jpg

It doesn’t help that I’m reading Postcards From the Edge, and thereby seeing and hearing how messed up brains can get. What a powerful book, by the way.

Wait. I feel a random nap coming on. So I must seize the moment. Before my brain realizes it’s time to start in obsessing again about sundry matters: like the precise date and time to announce my book and the precise wording to use that will strike that perfect balance. You know, that perfect balance between obnoxious and apologetic. Somewhere between gangster and Gandhi.

The Memory of Old Jack, selected quotes

[[It may be sad and slow to read but The Memory of Old Jack really is a beautifully written, conceived and executed story about more than just Americana — a story about life’s trauma and how the scars  never leave. Here are some excerpts.]]

Smiting the edge of the porch sharply with his cane as if to set hard reality on the alert, taking careful sight on the stone steps, he lets himself heavily down. . .

Old Jack goes to his accustomed place at the end of the one of the long tables that is occupied, the three others being bare. Thinking to remove neither his coat nor his cap, he sits down in his chair at the angle at which he has drawn it out from the table, and he keeps his left hand gripped onto the crook of his cane. His attitude thus communicates a most tentative and passing relation to the table and the assembled company. . .

Sunset in Eminence

He walks with the effort of a man burdened, a man carrying a great bale or a barrel, who has carried it too far but has not yet found a place convenient to set it down. . .

“Well,” he said, “time will finally make mortals of us all.”  And Burley said: “Yes, if we don’t die first.”

Trees and books

Books are made from trees. . .

It is nice to read a book under a tree. . .

There are many good books about trees. . .

This tree (giant Australian Fig on Exposition Blvd near California Science Center) was big enough to overlook the L.A. Times Festival of Books on Saturday and Sunday. . .

PATENT PENDING

“All problems were insignificant compared to Lola saying, ‘I love him.’ With Lola, everything was solvable. She was my independent variable.”

Books are usually copyrighted but this one should be patented. It is a dynamo of satire. An engine of irony. In his 2011 novel Machine Man, Australian writer Max Barry invents and launches a roaring, soaring weapon against runaway technology and corporate tyranny. For fuel he uses existential philosophy, bioethics, and any other kind of ethics you can think of. Love is a secret additive. Who knew? That’s where Lola comes in. While he’s busy designing marvels of modern science that are also instruments of modern destruction, Barry’s protagonist Dr. Charlie Neumann becomes attracted to Lola and the attraction is magnetic: literally, figuratively, allegorically, you name it. It might just be one of the strangest romances of modern literature. But in the reality of the world in which Machine Man lives and works, their love is the least bizarre phenomenon.

Barry’s literary apparatus may be a little wacky, but when it hits its target you smile. And it hits its target dead on. Grab ahold and hang on. It will blow you to pieces.

[Thank you to my daughter and her friend who is an engineer and owns the book, which I borrowed.]

The wisdom of alleys

We saw a fun show last night at the Regent Theater in downtown L.A., including SOAR the band. In the alley behind the theater there are wall paintings. Here is a part which contains some very sage words:

“Cherokee Prayer – Oh Great Spirit who made all races, look kindly upon the whole human family and take away the arrogance and hatred which separate us from our brothers.”