When I was a student at John J. Duggan Junior High School in Springfield I occupied the lowest position in the student class system - the junior high school queer. Everybody is really sexually insecure and confused at that age so one way to prove to yourself and your friends that you're normal is by showing how much you hate the faggot.
I didn't care because I knew all those straights were virgins and I already had an active sex scene going and was secretly the best fucked boy in my class. Anyway, on Columbus Day one year I was picked to read the following poem in front of the whole school at the Columbus Day assembly. I read it really dramatically and everyone cheered at the end and the principal Miss Mason congratulated me over the school intercom for the best reading of that famous poem she had ever heard. Everyone was nicer to me after that, and I realized that people will let you get away with being different and an outsider as long as you entertain them.
By Joaquin Miller
BEHIND him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the Gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good mate said: “Now must we pray,
For lo! the very stars are gone.
Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?”
“Why, say, ‘Sail on! sail on! and on!’”
“My men grow mutinous day by day;
My men grow ghastly wan and weak.”
The stout mate thought of home; a spray
Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek.
“What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn?”
“Why, you shall say at break of day,
‘Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!’”
They sailed and sailed, as winds might blow,
Until at last the blanched mate said:
“Why, now not even God would know
Should I and all my men fall dead.
These very winds forget their way,
For God from these dread seas is gone.
Now speak, brave Admiral, speak and say”—
He said: “Sail on! sail on! and on!”
They sailed. They sailed. Then spake the mate:
“This mad sea shows his teeth to-night.
He curls his lip, he lies in wait,
With lifted teeth, as if to bite!
Brave Admiral, say but one good word:
What shall we do when hope is gone?”
The words leapt like a leaping sword:
“Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!”
Then, pale and worn, he kept his deck,
And peered through darkness. Ah, that night
Of all dark nights! And then a speck—
A light! A light! A light! A light!
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn.
He gained a world; he gave that world
Its grandest lesson: “On! sail on!”
America itself is great, the country I mean, the actual place, it's what shapes us. I didn't really have any expectations as what I wanted the country to evolve into. I knew I was part of a major shift in consciousness and understanding back in the Sixties but am not surprised it is taking a long time for that shift to make it all the way across the country and back.
The old pendulum keeps on a-swinging, brings us together, blasts us apart, and being content to let life happen as if you have no control is to some a state of bliss and Kesey said, follow your bliss, but aside from the humor, you gotta participate in the material world, you're not gonna be here all that long so get in the game, play hard, play fair, enjoy the tussle and don't forget the benefits of a good nap. Stay active, participate in life, don't sweat the screwups, try to get it right the next time, just like me trying to fix the carburetor on my pickup truck. Those screws are tiny.
- Captain Skypilot Ken Babbs the Intrepid Traveler
Paolo sent me this funny picture he took in New York City.
Today we had a Columbus Day feast at the Amherst Survival Center. Among those participating was this new citizen of Earth named Hunter.
Continuing with more from last week's free concert on the Forbes Library lawn in Northampton, here is The Novels, a band which once described themselves as "a George and three Ringos."