The cat, the play and the election

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The way to create art is to burn and destroy ordinary concepts and to substitute them with new truths that run down from the top of the head and out from the heart—Charles Bukowski

Things have calmed down at our place since Lydia stopped by Sunday and picked Jupiter up. In her absence, I attempted to become “the cat whisperer” on the order of the “horse whisperer.” I think he is the guy that breaks horses in a calm quiet way. This seemed to have a greater impact on Jupiter as opposed to shouting or chasing after him.

Echo, formerly Lydia’s second cat, set some limits with Jupiter on her own that seemed to make sense to Jupiter. Ptolme, our cat elder, was routinely spotted downstairs by Jupiter and the chase began usually back upstairs, however there were times it sounded like they tumbled down the stairs together. On Monday morning, all was calm again.

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One might wonder: Is there a link between Jupiter and Charles Bukowski? Some of you might wonder who is this Charles Bukowski? I knew nothing of him until some years back when I purchased a collection of poetry by Garrison Keillor and discovered “poetry readings” by Charles Bukowski. His first line reads: “poetry readings have to be some of the saddest things ever, and he goes on for two pages describing them. I later shared this piece at a poetry reading in the library.

Not many people would have been willing to trade lives with Bukowski. He grew up in a difficult environment that he makes clear in his poetry and short stories. He records his life with his poetry, and there is also a movie whose title slips my mind, a movie I had to turn off half way through it. If your interested in Charles Bukowski I suspect you can find him in the library.

When Lydia came to get Jupiter on Sunday I was sheltered from the storm in the confines of the Paramount Theatre, watching and listening to the musical play about the people of Freeborn and Mower Counties… Tales of Two Counties, while outside galling winds were introducing snow to Mower County and sending leaves, even those intending to spend more times in the trees before falling, sailing.

Joan Claire Graham, an Albert Lea native, was instrumental in making this happen by “challenging ordinary people to write their extraordinary true stores for Minnesota Memories books.  Joan felt and I believe the audience was in agreement that working on Tales of Two Counties “has been a community building experience in both counties.”  Community members wrote 256 stories and joined hands across county lines to produce this play.

Saturday, a much warmer day, was highlighted, at least for the DFL, with a visit by Al Franken and Walter Mondale at the DFL center where State Senator Dan Sparks welcomed people and then introduced former Vice President Walter Mondale, who then spoke about these critical times before introducing Al Franken. Al then spoke on his intentions for the US Senate seat. He too, reminded the audience that it was six years ago to the day that Paul Wellstone died with his wife and daughter in the plane crash. The State DFL chair called for a moment of silence.

At both events it was nice to see a mixed audience of all ages coming together as one. Now we are in the final days before the election. As someone who prefers not to watch television, this hasn’t been too hard on me. One of my exceptions to this is watching Charlie Rose.

I also get to partake in “lit dropping” in spite of my age and this has been a good fall for doing that. I am also pleased by the interest of the younger voters this year. I remember my own enthusiasm when JFK was nominated and elected for President. I remember watching his press conferences, not so much to hear about the nation or world events, but to enjoy his sense of humor. I also remember sitting in the Old Main commons at Mankato State when Walter Cronkite came over the radio announcing President Kennedy’s assassination. To me the world had almost ended. Well, we are still here, and I don’t think we heeded JFK’s advice when he said: “You can’t fight another nation’s war.”

In the late seventies, Fritz Mondale said: “When statesman go fishing, it either means we are making great progress or the nation is under great peril.”