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THE SEED CATALOG / April, May, June, 2006

 

     

Of all the concerts I’ve attended -- including David Bowie, Jefferson Airplane and The Rolling Stones, the ones that most impressed me were these: Neil Young & Crazy Horse at the Tampa Sun Dome and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts at the outdoor venue of Janus Landing in downtown St. Pete in the early nineteen nineties. Neil Young & Crazy Horse were gigantic, pure, intense, unforgettable! But Joan Jett is the one I want to tell you about now. I’ve always liked her bold, audacious tunes and once was very close to going to see her at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver when I briefly lived there, but had no way to go and no guide. She was on a double bill with The Kinks, and I always regretted not making more of an effort to get there. But a friend who knew this history set it up and took me to the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts concert in St. Pete later on. We waited through the noise of a local punk band and after they cleared out, tension built as we glimpsed people running about on the darkened balconies above the stage, some looking, we thought, just like Joan. Then the band members took their places on the darkened stage, whereupon, following an intense flurry of guitars -- there she was – Joan Jett, with short, henna colored reddish hair, decked out in leather, belting out her signature hymn of contempt and self-respect, “I Don’t Give a Damn About My Bad Reputation.” I loved watching her, my favorite queen of punk rock as she sang her heart out in synch with the furious perfection of her Blackheart mates, sweating and strutting around the stage, transforming her rugged truth into glorious, magical musical energy. Oh yeah, I would love to have seen her on Broadway as Columbia in the stage version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, too, but I had my moment when she was so close up one night at Janus Landing in St. Pete!

 

                                                                                                            -- Bill Joyner

 

MORE ABOUT TRAFFIC AND IRAQ


I traveled with Bryant Joyner over to see Sherri and the Murphy’s in New Smyrna Beach, just below Daytona and right on the Atlantic beaches. The traffic was constant to and fro, as one might expect on a Sunday, and I am eternally grateful to you, Bryant, for navigating us through the flow


Meanwhile, in Iraq, they more or less shut down the insane slaughterhouse insurgency for a few days by restricting the use of vehicles, and I would suggest doing that permanently, or until some kind of civilized stability can be achieved there. Yes, it would cause massive inconvenience and even perhaps shut the whole country down. But, hey, wouldn’t even that be preferable to the horror being daily perpetuated there by insane insurgents and their terrified protectors and supporters!

The typical American traffic jam and the situation in Iraq are weirdly alike in that both involve great mortal risk. But there is one vast difference: in this country, on our highways, there is relative security, despite the incredible toll of human life exacted by heavy traffic on over-populated freeways, although the degree of safety we do enjoy is not because we are all good drivers or considerate people, but simply because of self-preservation -- because none of us want to be out by the road looking for our insurance papers after a horrible crash – or rushed off to a hospital bleeding and dying. We assume that the car coming toward us is not going to suddenly lurch into us head-on. But in Iraq, as far as I can tell, there is no such common bond of trust. Civility and security effectively do not exist where no mutual respect for human life exists, where you have to worry about whether the person or the vehicle coming toward you is loaded with explosives and driven by some suicidal fanatic soaked in rage who deliberately wants to destroy you, himself and whoever happens to be around.

So, here is my prescription for Iraq: shut down all traffic and take a comprehensive census of every person and every vehicle there. If nothing else, it would produce a lot of information and provide a little peace and quiet. As for being on the road in America, extreme moderation is recommended, and that doesn’t necessarily mean “go slower” –what it really means is don’t go at all unless you have to. As Chris Browne said long ago, “You don’t have to go to be.”

The amount of anti-Americanism AMONG Americans is, I think, not a very healthy thing. We can be respectfully and helpfully critical, or we can be contemptuous, angry, and hostile, which is the opposite of helpful. I recall, as an example of constructive public criticism, the late Carl Rowan, whose book SOUTH OF FREEDOM really woke me up in the 1950s. His critique was strengthened by his unwavering loyalty to the American values, which he espoused continually both as an author and as a US diplomat. His weapons were his words, and he used them, not as verbal grenades of bitter resentment, but as convincing persuasions, born in the heart of a rational and very effective African American patriot.

As a matter of fact, I was born “south of freedom, oblivious mostly to the reality of black people’s lives. There was almost no contact between whites and blacks on a basis of equivalency in the segregated South, and also, as Georgia novelist Lillian Smith said in her wonderful memoir about growing up in that environment, KILLERS OF THE DREAM, there was a kind of unconscious “regional armoring” which came along with growing up white in that world, an emotional armor which allowed you to hardly even be aware of the human reality of black people as they passed by you on the road. Racial segregation was not a matter of choice: it was a legally supported system of state laws until struck down by the Supreme Court in the Civil Rights era.

Where am I going with all of this, you may ask. Right now, I’m going to bed, so Goodnight to you all.



-- Bill Joyner


 

WHICH SIDE ARE WE ON?

I have long thought that the current climate of ever-incipient terror and boiled over emotions is essentially a struggle between self-destructive, slaughterhouse nihilism and the human decency of a more or less civilized world. In recent interviews with Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite TV network in Quatar, Dr. Wafa Sultan, an Arab-American psychiatrist, has been saying much the same thing. As a child, along with her classmates, she witnessed her teacher being beaten to death by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria for teaching something that -- to them -- was heretical. “The clash we are witnessing,” Dr. Wafa says in her interviews and writings, “is between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between … barbarity and rationality … between freedom and oppression … it is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings.”



Thomas L. Friedman refers to those who are inciting terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere as “Islamo-Fascists,” and I think the reference is appropriate. Just as was the case before WWII, when some people, desperate to avoid another “Great War” passionately argued for negotiating with Hitler and giving him a chance -- although by the time of Lord Chamberlain’s famous diplomatic act of appeasement, that madman had proven his depravity, ruthlessness and insanity beyond any doubt to the sentient, civilized world. Similarly today, it makes no sense to me when people argue that we should, for instance, give Hamas a chance and even offer them aid, in hopes that they will renounce their ultra-violent agenda and govern the Palestinians in a normal manner, since, after all, Hamas WAS legitimately elected. Yes and so was Adolph Hitler!



No, we are not at war with Islam. But there IS a war! It is a war for human decency, for peace and security, for life itself. And sooner or later, we will all have to decide, which side are we on?



-- Bill Joyner

THE SEED CATALOG / POB 3411, Sarasota, FL 34230

 

  Are We Driving Ourselves Crazy?

It often amazes me that there is not even more murderous, careless chaos and carnage on our American highways than exists, given the omnipresent danger that goes along with just being out there and the overwhelming number of vehicles, whose drivers are generally as diverse and unpredictable as people are. In traffic, we’re calculating that all will be well, all the time – but suddenly fate deals us a brutally tragic card, right when we assume that the car in front of us is going to stay on cruise control, but doesn’t; when we skid across a slick highway unexpectedly, or when any one of countless other fatal scenarios abruptly becomes real! And then, whoa! Dull oblivion, oozing blood and shattered glass, shards of fractured dreams, the end!



If you want to see it happen and to learn how easily and suddenly it can happen, check out the movie YOU CAN COUNT ON ME. The simulated accident scene is at the very front of the movie, but I’m sure you’ll want to stick around for the rest of that very interesting show. Truthfully scary, authentic!



As for movies, I don’t go very often, largely because of time constraints, but also because there are not may films I read about that I want to take a chance on, and I almost invariably am turned off by most of the previews. BROKEN FLOWERS, with Bill Murray, is one of my favorites! Jim Jarmush, who has collaborated often with Neil Young, directs it with a blasé respect for ordinary and extraordinary experience – which can understandingly evoke the feeling that nothing is happening. And yet, that’s the very Zen essence of BROKEN FLOWERS -- nothing IS happening much of the time, but it’s more than OK. Quite a lot happens, in my opinion, as Bill Murray’s aloof and removed character participates in a game of brief involvements with former lovers to find out which one sent him an unsigned letter, created on a typewriter with a pink ribbon, telling him of a 19-year-old son that he unknowingly fathered by her years ago.


I always love seeing PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, with Joseph Cotton, Jennifer Jones and Ethel Barrymore, the supreme matriarch of old-time black & white American movies. The story involves a girl who appears and reappears in and out of time as a mystical but altogether real presence, which haunts the imagination of an artist who paints her and loves her but cannot reach her. This surreal fantasy climaxes during a hurricane when the two merge at a tragic, transient moment of mutual reality. When I last saw this scene, it was late at night at my condo gate guard job on Longboat Key during the high peripheral winds of a passing hurricane, and experiencing the awesome vision of the cinematic storm and an actual one all at once struck me as a magical coincidence. What I love about PORTRAIT OF JEANNIE is that it is never glib or overly explicit regarding its mystical implications. You never quite know whether you get it or not, which is the way spiritual themes most appropriately should leave you feeling, in my opinion. (I would welcome other ideas about this mind/time bender, if any who’ve seen it would care to comment.

 

THE CELESTIAL CAROUSEL (A Circus of Spiritual Discovery)

By Bill Joyner

This baby is born, weighing in at 51/2" X 81/2" and 91 pages. Thanks to each of you who have invested in and patiently awaited this arrival. The first edition of only 125 copies is sold out , but will be available with the next printing, for a donation of $20, including postage. Just let me know by mail (POB 3411/Sarasota, FL 34230), phone (941-355-4050) or e-mail (joynerbill28@gmail.com) if interested.

 

 

THE CELESTIAL CAROUSEL: A CIRCUS OF SPIRITUAL DISCOVERY

William T. Joyner

The Celestial Carousel is a collage of original text, social commentary, quotations from American literature, and artwork by noted cartoonist, Christopher Browne.

In this "Circus of Spiritual Discovery," poet William T. Joyner explores secular experience and biblical ideals as a natural/Taoist response to the uneasy rise of worldwide fundamentalism in the 21st Century.

 

 
 
 Bill Joyner

POB 3411

Sarasota, FL 34230

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The Seed Catalog
William T. Joyner, Editor
THE SEED CATALOG is a continuing quarterly newsletter promoting

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--Bill Joyner / P.O. Box 3411 / Sarasota, FL 34230


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