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Name: William Rivers Pitt
Gender: Male
Hometown: Boston
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 58,134

Journal Archives

We Call It "Mud Season" (New Hampshire and the 2016 GOP field)

The first of many dispatches to come from the Granite State. -- wrp

Senator Ted Cruz at the First In Nation Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, New Hampshire.
(Photo: Michael Vadon/Flickr)

We Call It "Mud Season"
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Here in New Hampshire, we call this "Mud Season." It is, in short, the phase between when the snowpack melts and the ground un-freezes, and then firms up again until the next thaw after the next winter. The streams run roaring over the rocks as the meltwater feeds their fury, the wind makes the leafless trees dance, and the yard whose green grass you'll enjoy in a month will sink you to the ankle if you step on it, boots or otherwise.

If you live on a paved road, with sidewalks and streetlights and all the comforts of town living, you're fine and dandy. For those of us who live on dirt roads, however, Mud Season is decidedly sporty. See, mud is far more dangerous than ice or snow. In winter, the snowpack - combined with the concerted efforts of the town's plowmen - make safe the road. So long as you don't stomp the brakes and know the contours, you can fly at a hot clip beneath the eaves of snow-bound boughs.

Not so in Mud Season, entirely because of warm days and cold nights. The warm days lead to snowmelt, which happily delivers an ocean of water into the ground, but disintegrates the hard-packed road into goo. This brown, graveled mush gets deeply rutted by passing vehicles, and those ruts freeze into proud arches during the still-cold nights, slowly becoming pudding as the sun grows broad on the pine-shaded road in the mornings. Once melted, that pudding is slick as oil, while the ruts remain.

When you traverse an expanse of Mud Season road, the ruts have a way of snaring your front wheels and setting you askew. Thanks to the slickness of the route, when the ruts choose to flick you into the woods - at any speed, mind you - the slippery surface will help you directly into the most available tree. Here in New Hampshire, people look forward to Mud Season the way the rest of the planet looks forward to radical root canal.

Which brings me to the Republican Leadership Summit that took place in Nashua over the weekend. Among the luminaries present were Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Rand Paul and Jeb Bush.

Mud Season.

One would think any sane and fair-minded culture would gift some form of award to a state required to tolerate so many human catastrophes in one swallow. A tax break, a sports stadium, a bottle of whiskey to every person of woman born. The state motto is "Live Free Or Die." If this kind of mayhem confluence forms again, town councils from Lake Francis to Keene will be fielding heated requests from all and sundry to change the state motto to "Live Free And Kill Me Now."

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/30325-we-call-it-mud-season

A Man In Full

This is my best friend crossing the Boston Marathon finish line in 2013, moments before the bombs went off. Strong across his back is an homage to his mother, who had succumbed to cancer some months earlier.

Here's to you, brother. Here's to you, Boston. Happy Marathon Day.

"Hater" is quite simply the dumbest Goddam term in the DU lexicon.

And I'm personally sick of seeing it.

It's a shortcut to thinking. If you deploy it, doing so makes you look like an idiot.

It's not "hate." It's honest disagreement based on legitimate reasons.

It's debate.

If you can't handle it, go find another hobby.

A day in the life.

For a while now, I've been banging awake around 5am, languishing in that warm you're-comfy-and-you-know-it zone of semi-sleep, before finally grabbing myself by the face and dragging myself out of bed a little before 6. It's nice: I used to be a very solitary animal, an only child, lived alone for years, and despite the no-BS absolute joy and astonishing privilege of baby/wife/job/etc. responsibilities, a part of me will always be the sibling-less kid building universes in his imagination alone in his room, who still worships the stillness of solitude. So I get some of that in my mornings.

I do most of my writing during those soft, quiet, precious hours (in my head, because I can't actually write at that hour, because I beat on keyboards like a rented mule when I do write and would wake the entire house). I watch the sun rise, and the snow melt, and the flowers grow, and wither, and disappear under a new season's blanket of white, and listen to the hum of nothing in my ears, and breathe.

My water well is almost 400 feet deep and taps an aquifer. When we moved here, we had the water tested to make sure there was nothing harmful to Lola, and the testers told us they had never, ever come across water as pure and perfect as what comes out of our taps. Before I go to bed each night, I pour a glass and place it on a kitchen windowsill next to a barely-cracked-open window...and then, in the morning, with the first hues of sunrise tickling the mountain, I drink deep of the blood of the Earth cooked and then cooled to perfection by the breath of the wind.

This morning, I woke, rose, padded quietly to the kitchen, reached for my glass...and paused. There were five huge wild turkeys in my back yard: four females and one male...and oh by God and sonny Jesus, was the male putting on a show. Puffed up like a dirigible, fantail fanning behind, strutting and strutting and strutting, big as life and twice as turkey, The Man, because it's finally mating season, don'tcha know...and the four females could not have disdained him more thoroughly. Dude was out of luck, period, end of file.

...so I raised my precious water glass to him in salute, drank deeply, and thought to myself, "Yeah, I hated the dating scene, too, brother."

A day in the life.

Two years ago today...

Two years ago, I was sitting in my apartment and holding my daughter, who was two weeks old to the day. It was Marathon Day, and for the first time in my life, I wouldn't be there because Lola, duh. I wasn't at all bitter about it - as a two-week-old father, I knew where my ass belonged, and it wasn't in the middle of a city-wide party - but there was a burn to it, to that absence, because my best friend on this Earth was running the Boston Marathon for the first time.

I was tracking his progress via cell texts from his wife. At 2:49pm she texted, "wtf bombs?" and then went dark. She was OK, he was OK, their two boys were OK...but the news choppers were showing all the blood on the Boylston Street sidewalk outside the store where I bought my glasses, and the reality of events began to unfold, and you know the rest.

One year later, my best friend finished the race with the words "In Memory Of Mom," who he had recently lost to cancer, strong across his back. Several other friends who had been stopped before the finish line because of the bombing also ran again, and they finished the race.

And me? I run only when chased by someone I can't beat up...but I did go back to Boston for the Marathon last year, stayed with a dear friend, and saw the largest and most enthusiastic crowd I've ever seen at the event, and I've been attending Marathons since the Carter administration. I walked the last several miles of the course with another dear friend and just absorbed. It was a purging experience, and when I got home the next day, it was the first day I didn't choke up at the thought of what took place.

My best friend finished the race.

So did the city.

So did I.

In memory of Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu, Sean Collier, and everyone who bore the brunt of that day.

So this just happened.

Mercy Is Ours to Give, if We Choose It

Eric Sidiropoulos waves a flag as emergency vehicles pass after learning that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,
the remaining suspect wanted in the Boston Marathon bombings, was caught, in Watertown,
Massachusetts, April 19, 2013. (Photo: Gretchen Ertl / The New York Times)

Mercy Is Ours to Give, if We Choose It
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Sunday 12 April 2015

Imagine living forever. For people who watch those insipid vampire movies, the idea clearly has some purchase, a kind of cool cachet ... but consider the reality of it. You live long enough to see every single person you love or even vaguely care about - wife, husband, children, brothers, sisters, friends, acquaintances, everyone - die before your eyes. Then you live long enough to make more friends, more family, only to watch all of them die. Then you do it again, and again, and again as an ocean of years pile up behind you until the stars burn out, and you are the last living thing on a dead planet beneath a barren sky.

Such would be my sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the accused, admitted and now convicted participant in the plot to bomb the Boston Marathon. Thanks to his actions and the actions of his brother, four people died and 264 others were injured. Many of them were almost literally cut in half - the prosthetics wings of several excellent Boston hospitals have been all too busy since that gruesome day on Boylston Street - and on Wednesday, the most unsurprising verdict in the history of jurisprudence was handed down: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was declared guilty on all thirty counts levied against him, seventeen of which carry a potential sentence of death, if the jury so decides during the upcoming penalty phase.

And there lies the rub.

I have traveled a long, hard distance within myself in considering my wishes for the fate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ... call it the soul version of the old saying, "Traveling 40 miles of bad road." I knew Krystle Campbell, and have seen the unredacted photos of her end on that Boylston Street sidewalk. My best friend crossed the finish line scant seconds before the bombs went off; his wife and their two sons were caught between the explosions, and she had to flee with the boys into an un-shattered storefront before trying to find Dad in the mayhem. They did.

I hate Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. I hate what he did to all those people, to my friends, to my city, and to an event that was once the best day of the year in Boston. Explaining Marathon Day to someone who has not experienced it, who is not from the region, is like a frog trying to tell tadpole what life is like on dry land. It's like trying to describe the taste of chocolate. It can't be done, and it was wonderful for so long, the day we all looked forward to as the herald of Spring, until that fuzzy little failure and his brother scarred it for all time, killed four people, maimed hundreds more, and stole it from us. The Marathon will go on, of course, and the region will horde the course and cheer the runners up Heartbreak Hill, but it will never be the same.

I hate him, despise him, I seethe at the very mention of his name ... and I hope, with all my heart, that the jury spares his life. Some of that sentiment comes from a vengeful corner of my soul, because I think death is an out. Timothy McVeigh went to his grave reading Invictus and believing himself to be a hero, and he did not deserve the privilege. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hopes to be a martyr, a hero in his own right, and he does not deserve the privilege, either. I can think of no greater insult, indignity or punishment more fitting for him than a long life.

In the end, however, my feelings do not and cannot matter. It comes down to this...

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/30153-mercy-is-ours-to-give-if-we-choose-it

The day I got the living shit beaten out of me.

Her name was Heather, I was 13, she was Black, and she was my first real girlfriend. We were together for two weeks when the Boston Marathon came along. I grew up on the Newton/Brighton line, right by Boston College at the top of Heartbreak Hill. Heather had never been to the Marathon for real before - cheering the runners as they defeated Heartbreak Hill while the BC keg parties howled and cheered - so I showed her the show.

While I was walking her back to my house for some lunch, a car filled with upperclassmen from my school passed us. The car windows were stuffed with astonished faces that, as they faded from view, became twisted in palpable rage.

And person after person after person after person looked daggers at us as we walked arm in arm down Commonwealth Avenue in unabashedly liberal Boston, Massachusetts. I rode the Green Line with her to the Orange Line - the metropolitan version of walking your girl home - and five older men in the traincar stared at us with open loathing as we held hands.

The next day, I went to school, and the upperclassmen from the car that had passed us - joined by several of their friends because apparently word of my racial heresy had spread - waylaid me in a hallway. "What are you doing with that n****r!" they screamed, and I mean SCREAMED, utterly unhinged. "Did you dip your wick with that n****r? DID YOU FUCK THAT N****R? DID YOU?"

And then they beat the shit out of me, right then and there, for the crime of squiring a Black girl to the Marathon.

It was a formative experience on a variety of levels...so all of you husbanding this idea that the North is superior to the South on issues of racism can go pound sand. You're wrong, and once upon a time, I had the bruises to prove it.


Feel free to correct me rigorously if I'm over-assuming my responsibility, but I fear my thread noting the anniversary of Appomattox helped lead to yet another eruption of South-bashing threads, and to the destructive bullshit that inevitably follows.

I've been on DU since May of 2001. I have been a Democrat since 9am on my 18th birthday. I have worked on more Dem campaigns than I care to remember.

My father was born and raised in Decatur, Alabama, just across the river from Huntsville. I spent many a happy hour with my grandmother at the Space & Rocket Center.

My grandfather was a pediatrician. My grandmother was a schoolteacher for more than 30 years. My father worked every Democratic presidential campaign from Bobby Kennedy to John Kerry, and led the Alabama Democratic Party for a time. He shared the phone that was tapped at the Watergate, so the tapes include my father and pregnant mother talking about unborn me. While my mom was pregnant, they called me "Benny" for whatever reasons. It's all on the tapes.

I wrote the article below after the tornadoes ripped through the state. It will tell you all you need to know about why this Boston boy loves Alabama, and the South.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." - Hamlet

Or, put more bluntly in my own Boston/Bama way: Regional stereotypes can kiss my ass.

My Alabama
Monday, 02 May 2011 09:54
By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

...and then a man rode through the lines bearing a white flag.

150 years ago this morning, a rider spurred his horse through the Confederate battle lines at Appomattox bearing a white flag, carrying terms of surrender penned by General Lee to be put into the hands of Union General Grant. To all intents and purposes, the US Civil War was over.

...and we have been fighting that war, in one fashion or another, ever since.

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