I can do very little about the chaos around me, but
I have your heart. If you want it back
You are seeing all there is to see.
left on the front seat of my car
a piece of marble, flawed and irregular
I loved it too much 'cause it's all inside.
what a beautiful writer
I have your heart
maybe forever

. . . . .

The Miss Teen USA pageant was last night. While I don't object to the idea of eighteen-year-old girls prancing around a stage in bikinis and playing coquettishly with beach balls in principle (particularly when I'm getting paid to watch) things get awkward when they start, you know, talking. Or at least when one of them did.

Lauren Caitlin Upton (that's "Miss South Carolina" to you and me) was asked a fairly straightforward question for the contestant response segment; her implosion was so slow, so eloquent even, what with the ball gown and makeup, that I was ready to give her the award right there if only for the grace with which she managed to hold her composure, never dropping her smile, while any question as to her intelligence was rendered moot. I reproduce it here for the benefit of mankind.

Aimee Teegarden asks:

Recent polls have shown that a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?

To which Ms. Upton rather spectacularly replied:

I personally believe..that U.S. Americans are unable to do so...because some...people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like, such as...in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere like, such as, and I believe that they should...our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., or should help South Africa, and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future.

She came in fourth out of fifty-one. There ain't no justice in the world.

I know I am inside a dream. I know nothing is real, and it gives me no comfort.

I am walking up a flight of stairs, a doorway opening at the top. I approach, hearing my boots clomp hollowly on each riser. I come to the top, and turn right toward the doorway, the source of light.

I see across the barren room. The sunlight slices through a window opening, the glass long since having abandoned its post. The light is fierce, cutting a diagonal swath through the gloomy interior, dust motes gyre within the beam, small planets on some unknown trajectory, on a journey to nowhere.

Behind the cascading light, in the corner of the room, sits a girl. I know her, have known her for many years. She is sitting Indian fashion, legs open, feet meeting at the center. She is totally nude, and totally without selfconsciousness or shame. Her slender legs are curved like Cupid's bow, and have the same effect. I am shot through the heart, conquered once again. Her hands rest, palms turned up, on her thighs. Her small pale breasts lie like twinned pearls on a beach in Paradise, open to discovery.

She sees me standing there, drinking her in with my eyes. Her olive skin is so smooth, her eyes slightly oriental, slanted and somehow knowing. As I watch, a single tear flows from one brown pupilled orb and races gravity down the plane of her cheek. I see no hint of anger come from her, no sign of disapproval. At the nexus of her thighs I view a hint of wiry tuft, more suggested than explicit, and the tiniest suggestion of a lighter hue, pink as a spring sunset.

She shifts her legs, draws them together, gathering them toward her chest. The entire aspect changes, and what had been a beckoning tableau becomes a silent denial. No spoken word, no anger, just a voiceless rejection. Just the same as it's been for these last 40 years.

burn baby

When the hellenic countryside is not littered with garbage that environmentally challenged people get rid wherever they desire so, it is burned out or in the process of healing from previous fires.

If you are lucky enough to actually locate a secret spot, hidden away from civilization and make you ponder on the beautiiful images the Creator had in His mind when he made this place, someone comes around and ruins it.

So far, I have seen all the places that I have learned to love and have had wonderful memories turn to ashes.

Greek people, to be completely frank are accustomed to summer wild fires, but never has it been a human tragedy (with 53 verified deaths, including 2 French tourists, a mother and her four children.)The number of people missing is not always the real one so panic will not ensue, and trust me the whole situation is becoming a mass hysteria.

Blame is being placed and tossed from one court to another, while fires rage, and elections are imminent. This winter will be a cruel one in many aspects, and the rains expected will be too late and too harsh on us all... All? no... we are not all... we are 53 (so far) people short...

The bodycount is expected to rise since there are still many villages that are completely cut off, and many farms are in secluded areas. Many of the senior citizens, refuse to leave their houses and farms.

The farmers that survive the fire, will have nothing to live on and wait for the coming winter; while the money to be handed to them is ludicrous compared to their losses.

We have help arriving form various European countries, and yet it is not adequate... We have strong winds (meltemia ) that do not allow the air forces to take off.

This winter will be cruel and the rains will result to floods, since there are no trees left to withold the water. The people that have lost their homes, will not all be relocated in time for the winter, and this will indeed traumatize the tourist industry... the one we have already handicapped with loudicrous prices and lacking service.

This IS arsen... hope you enjoy your villas and the lovely view...

... the fire is now in the ancient Olympia, where the Olympics took place in ancient Greece... what have we left?... the trees are gone... the people are gone... the civilization has left us long ago...

61 verified deaths, while there are more fires this time in Athens (suburbs)

My friend Paul Mineo died three days ago. Cancer. I've been in touch and around his wife through the chemo, the hospice, and now that he's gone, the grief. She and I have a lot in common. Paul was the person in the world she loved most; my dad, who suffered the same awful demise nearly a year ago, was the only member of my family I could say I loved unconditionally. My brother and mother I ain't gonna get into right now.

Paul was a well-published educator in the field of communications. His life was led humbly and privately, in drastic contrast to that of his cousin, whom he loved very much, Sal Mineo. Sal died before I got to know Paul.

Paul drew people close to him. He and his wonderful wife Donna nearly always had friends in tow. Now, it's Donna who is becoming aware of just how many close, close, devoted friends she has.

Well, whatever you believe in, happenstance, fate, Buddha (as I do), Wicca (as does Donna) or a God(s) of your choosing; the ball's now in my court. It's my turn to return all of the caring and love and affection and talking and silence that was my privilege to have available when dad died. I must rise to this occasion without allowing it to overwhelm me. Given Donna's great, old soul, I'd hazard a guess that it isn't gonna overwhelm me.

We're going to New York tomorrow. Donna's coming with me and San-San to go about our usual Monday routine. I may even surprise her with an evening on the town and a stay-over, unless she wants to be at home (she's refused offers of hospitality from 4 of us, and is alone in the house).

Now the shoe's on the other foot for me. What do you say? What do you do? I've been through it all before quite a few times but these questions continue to rear their ugly heads.

The memorial service is Thursday, followed by a "gathering of remembering the joy of knowing Paul Mineo" at my restaurant. We're prepared to turn some customers, not involved in the wake, away; not really closing but fully realizing that our place may be overwhelmed with people. Suffice it to say that from the calls and emails coming in to the funeral home, the funeral director suggested that I "hire part-time staff and use plastic glasses," as the crowd will probably just barely fit in his largest room, and will overwhelm my place (which fits 175 at full maximum, lots of standees).

I miss Paul and it hurts. However, I take a peculiar pleasure in being able to give back what was so generously given me in September of last year.

ADDENDUM: Just after I posted this, I began searching the Internet for Paul's writings and papers and thinking about what I could possibly say about a man whose life focused on effective communication. A page from the Daily Campus, the newspaper of the University of Connecticut, got a quote from Professor Mineo about a rash of spray-painted anti-war slogans on campus buildings (This from the October 14, 2005 issue). Rather than lose focus and insinuate his own passionate feelings about the war, Paul remained on-topic and instead said this:

Communication (sic) Prof. Paul Mineo said while graffiti is an effective way to create a sense of communal bonding, the effects are only temporary.

"Graffiti is probably an effective way of gaining attention, and perhaps an effective way of expressing a sense of community within certain specific cultural groups," Mineo said, "it is most likely not a way of having enduring effects on attitudes or values for a wide audience. Like annoying TV ads, it may capture attention or appeal to group feelings of a specific target group — wrestling fans, gambling enthusiasts, etc. — but with such ads, you may remember the name of the product tomorrow, but it is not likely to make you buy it."

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