Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 84

This is for my friend Jim Ricker. 1954-2015

jim.ricker

 

Elegy for Jim 

by Jimmy Jazz

An elegist like an astronomer should know more of a moon or a man than its gibbous phase. -anonymous

 

 

 

A screaming came across the sky

on Broadway two hours after sunrise

as a black crow darted before the cityscape,

a small hawk in pursuit of his tail feathers…

reminding me, strangely, of conversations

in a teacher’s lounge

at a language school

in San Diego

with our friend Jim Ricker

 

Jim, Hippie Jim,

parsing the spoken words of his interlocutors

asking each to think & re-think

before speaking

the talons of his sharp logic clipping some who dared

use anecdotal evidence to support a claim

 

Hippie Jim, there was a fry cook in your heart

and a prescriptive grammar Snoot

A fry cook flipping hotcakes in a Sunday rush

at the big kitchen

 

Hippie Jim with your Master’s degree

where is your long hair now?

a fry cook who never minced words

& a usage cop with an etymologist’s nightstick

upside the head of the Green Grocer— Who

does he think he is with his ’10 Items or Less’ sign?

 

Hippie Jim, you old polemicist, you coot

never angry

but always ready and able to argue

EVERYTHING!

 

Hippie Jim, with your long hair

were you a Marxist?

Can you explain for me one more time

Marx’s Labor Theory of Value?

You old union man, you Wobblie

you Uber-hater

We’ll kick hell out of any scab that crosses your picket line

 

Hippie Jim

Why were you shaking your fist

at the lack of common sense in the Ottoman Empire

over coffee with the muse?

 

Yer cantankerous-misanthropic-curmudgeon mask

didn’t fool the people you loved

A circus tent couldn’t mask a heart like that

 

Hippie Jim, will they bury you

in bolo tie & seersucker coat?

 

Will your hair be long in heaven?

Will you give Jesus a piece of your mind?

Will God pour you a beer & with a slap on the back say, Good Job Buddy?

 

Hippie Jim, you could be sober

a thousand years, or a thousand lonely nights

and all your courage & conviction

wouldn’t stop us finger-waggers from waving your final vices

like a red flag— Did

you really eat a 7-11 chili dog & chocolate milk

every fucking day?

 

Any man who can find joy in the grit in the bottom of a styrofoam cup of Folger’s,

can be happy in this world.

 

O, secret joy teacher!

ask your students to seize the day

tap your enthusiasm

in class & field trips

to places they have never been

 

Jim, Hippie Jim,

You Teacher

You Reader

 

Who will speak at length about the great writers of our time?

Who will follow Pynchon & Bill Vollmann,

who will read Edward Abbey’s FBI file,

and care about David Foster Wallace?

 

Who will throw his body on the gears of the capitalist machine?

And wonder in what desert Edward Abbey lies?

 

Jim,

You teacher

You Reader

You Study-hard

You Knower (of so many things)

History dies with a man like you

History falls into the memory hole

 

Jim,

You Knower

You Carer

You Talker

 

Your hawk soars above the tower,

the crow count his days.

Swashbucklers ~~ William Upski Wimsatt

Willaim Upski Wimsatt interviews by Jimmy Jazz

 

Jazz: I’ll start by saying that you have enough good ideas in your book No More Prisons for 5 books, any one of which could be the most important way for someone who cares to begin the 21st century. How is it that you were able to transform yourself from a hip-hop grafiti writer to a saavy political activist? Or maybe there was no big transformation?

Upski: It’s funny, I was just thinking that I didn’t put ENOUGH good ideas in there and that what I really need to do is a book that’s all creative solutions. Like 100 creative solutions or something like that. Of course the title would have to be better. But I don’t know if people who read my shit now would read that. Continue reading “Swashbucklers ~~ William Upski Wimsatt”

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 67

William Vollmann's Poor People with super lotto bookmark I recently finished reading William Vollmann’s Poor People. I think its an important book. Vollmann simply asked people in countries around the world whether or not they thought they were poor, and why. Some really poor people didn’t think they were poor because they could look down the docks and see someone worse off. Everyone he talked to was poorer than me.

The recent suicides of workers at the factory in China that makes iPads, iPhones etc. for Apple has made me revise my call for the six hour work day. Continue reading “Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 67”

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 47

For those who aren’t familiar with the phenomenon known as Critical Mass, it is essentially a bike ride through the city. It happens all around the country every month. In San Diego it takes place the last Friday. Riders meet at sunset near the fountain in Balboa Park. Besides being a lot of fun, the event promotes the use of bikes as transportation and offers an example of a non-hierarchical organization. Whoever happens to be riding in the front is the leader and the ride meanders, rather predictably, through iconic points in the city. It can roll as long as 20-30 miles in a night, though my friend and I peeled off after about 15 miles last night. We rode through Hillcrest, North Park, South Park, Golden Hill and downtown to the Civic Center where we temporarily occupied the streets and square in solidarity with the movement known as Occupy San Diego. The protesters were jubilant to see the swell of their ranks. It’s always good to know that people are with you. One similarity between these two events is how they reveal the violence that is sometimes hidden from middle class people. We see it on tv, but it is alwayspresent– the threat and use of force is a daily phenomenon for many poor people in this country, and around the world. Thursday night, around three am, the SD police tried to disperse the people camped in the civic center. I heard a man Friday morning ask a police officer why they had to “bust our heads” when they raided the camp. The police in San Diego, to their credit, seem to be learning how to cope with a thousand bicyclists using the streets in the way drivers think they are solely entitled (granted Critical Mass doesn’t stop for traffic lights; it imagines a world without traffic lights.) Though most people seem to be delighted by the spectacle of 1000 bikes rolling by (especially on Halloween with many people in costume) Critical Mass can reveal the violence that car culture creates in all of us. Road rage is so common as to be a joke. I witnessed drivers yelling and angrily honking their horns after they were stalled for 5 or 10 minutes by the bike procession. Some people are assholes even when they aren’t in a car; some bike enthusiasts are assholes, but cars, like a cop’s nightstick or rubber bullet gun, make being an asshole dangerous. Drivers feel empowered in their machines. (As previously stated Power Corrupts.) Critical Mass simply asks people to reflect on why you are in a car rather than walking, taking the bus or riding bike.

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You may remember how much fun we had during the recent blackout. Kinsee Morlan, a reporter from SD City Beat, found the same kind of communal joi de vivre, and so organized a monthly ‘blackout party.’ She’s calling for people to organize small gatherings in their own local parks on the second Thursday of each month. Angela and I decided to check it out. We took the shortcut through Switzer Canyon, through the grove where we go to see the great-horned owls, which proved very Blair Witch Project after dark. I brought my handcrank lantern and some red wine in the backpack. We found about twenty people having a picnic in Bird Park. One nice young lady offered us a blanket right when we got there. Another offered a beer, and Misty from the Pubcakes bakery handed us a vegan cupcake. There was a guy from Utah Strret playing an acoustic guitar and singing David Bowie’s ‘Starman’, but I don’t think he was the same kat from Cowles Mnt. My friend David showed up with a suitcase full of precussion instruments and the small group proceeded to bang out a half dozen songs by The Beatles and The Who. The kids are alright!

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It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Remember, the sun rises, comes to its meridian height, and stays not there, but declines in a moment. Let this admonish you to reflect on the constant revolution of all sublunary affairs, and the greater your glory, the nearer you are to declension. — Captain Mission as reported in The History of Pirates by Captain Charles Johnson

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Cecil pedaled up and suggested we check out International (Park)ing Day on the way to get a cuppa at Cafe Moto. We rode downtown to 5th and E in the Gaslamp, where we found these folks using a metered space on the street. They laid astroturf and set up a few lawn chairs and potted trees. We found another spot in a Park All Day day lot on Kettner and Beech. Cecil asked if they were inspired by situationists, but it sounded like their detournément was sponsored by an architecture firm as a hip marketing gimmick.

 

Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 2

There’s a little farm down in Imperial Beach, near the border that we buy from at The Golden Hill Farmer’s Market.  They had a special event where you could pick your own  tomatoes, so I took the trolley south with Angela and Cecil. We carried our bikes on since its roughly 2 miles from the trolley stop to the farm. Tijuana was just across the river valley and we passed several border patrol agents on horseback. The idea of working on a farm full time, in the summer heat, started the refrain “Don’t want to work on Suzie’s farm no more” running through my head. Volunteers directed us to our furrows and we ended up picking the most delicious heirloom tomatoes Angela or I had ever eaten. Deep red and heavy with sweetness.  A group of guys picked out a little bluegrass on stringed instruments under a tarp while the farmers served a yummy gazpacho and bruchetta on compostable plates. I already planted the seeds from one of the tomatoes in our garden.