Saturday, January 26, 2013


The subject makes John uneasy. Things that made him feel guilty years ago, still fester.

Emily pulls a window shade on her own wrong-doings, but wishes she'd been a better Mom.

No doubt about it -- John and Em have similar sense of guilt as parents. Both of them wish, while maintaining their careers, they'd been able to spend more time having fun with their son, JD.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Artist Jeffrey "Jeff"  Koons -- if you haven't heard of him, you're hearing now. 

He's everywhere -- name-drop the major, most prestigious museums in the world, they've displayed his "Balloon Dog," (reproductions in stainless steel), his gigantic "Popeye" and "Hulk," (in wood and bronze); also his paintings and his "Michael Jackson" sculpture in porcelain and gold.

Koons' "Tulips" (stainless steel with mirror finish surfaces) was sold for a record-breaking $33, 682,5000 at Christie's, this past November. 

The 57-year-old artist, from York, Pennsyvlania, is heralded by some critics as a pioneer. Others dismiss his work as crass kitsch. A recent NY Times article on Koons quoted a famous art critic, who called Koons' art -- "cat excrement."

Gee whiz, eek, is my instinctive reaction to the dogs, and tulips, to the fact that he has as a studio in NYC with 90 assistants, (yep, 90 helpers), who create sale-able reproductions of Koons' works, using paint-by-the-numbers techniques.

Yep, art lovers love 'em, buy 'em, but I'm not an art critic. I'm reacting to what I feel, and don't like about Koons' York, PA mentality. It's prejudice based on my growing up years in Harrisburg, PA, with kids like Jeff, noting from class reunion letters what they aren't and ARE -- for many of them, money is God, is status, the true measure of success -- the most important thing in life.

Okay, Koons is representing something about today's world and culture, but gee, the miles, the worlds apart, the head-shaking difference between Koons and Matisse.

Why Matisse? Well, a Matisse painting was accidentally (or purposely) displayed near another article on Jeff K.I don't know why some things don't move me, and other things, like this does.
Luxe, Calme et Volupté

Here's Jeff Koons, talking about his work.   

Maybe  it's just a cup of tea sort of thing  that I tried to explain a while back in this blog -- if you have time, click and visit --  Picasso, Matisse, and Tim Burton

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


The words, MORAL INJURY, just the words, the title of an article in Newsweek, hit me hard. This photograph was spread across two pages. The lead-in words by senior reporter, Tony Dokoupill, hit me even harder.

"Soldiers are supposed to be tough, cool, and ethically confident. But what happens when they have seen and done things that haunt their consciences? New studies suggest that the pain of guilt may be a key factor in the rise of PTSD."

Reading, I wended my way through what the Department of Veteran Affairs said about PTSD, what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently told Congress about ailing veterans, what distinguished psychiatrists, clinicians, and researchers have reported, and how the idea evolved -- that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the result of Moral Injury.

What is moral injury?

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, as well as other former soldiers and high-level officers have shuttled between two worlds -- ours, where thou shalt not kill is part of everyday life -- another world where you kill, or you will be killed.

Put yourself in that photo -- feel it, see it, be there with those who have been there, fighting -- killing -- so that they they themselves, or their buddies, won't be killed.

Yes, oh yes indeed, the article logically reminded the reader that moral injury is as old as war -- it's in the "Iliad," the "Odyssey," and in the oldest surviving play of Sophocles, "Ajax." Also, I know from books I've read that have brought tears to my eyes, it's in the private thoughts of soldiers -- their journals and what they're managed to write and get published.

It's said in different ways -- killing violates your soul, killing is a sin against yourself, killing is profoundly, deeply wrong.

Words, words, words ... I'm not a solider, never have been, never had to fight for my country. I haven't had to punch, kick, slam, tangle, or wrestle with another human, or choke, stab, shoot, or do anything violent to another human being, in order survive.

Okay, when I was very young I saw my sister kill a cat -- bang it on the head with a shovel. She never told me why she did it. Later I experienced schoolmates turning against me -- they beat me up, calling me "Christ killer." I have never recovered from that. When Hitler was defeated, and people wanted him punished -- tortured to death -- I rejected the idea. When Saddam Hussein was on his way to the gallows, for me it was unbearably wrong, the way he was treated before he was hanged.

What I think about this seems -- even to me -- not trivial, but not as horrifying, as WRONG, as having to kill when you're fighting a war.

The fact is, more than 30 percent of the 834,463 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans, (247, 243 ), who have been treated at V.A. hospitals and clinics, have been diagnosed with PTSD.

Currently every month close to 1,000 vets attempt to take their own lives. That’s about three attempts every 90 minutes.

“It’s an epidemic,” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told congress this summer. “Something is wrong.”

I put these words on this page so that if there's a way we can help the men and women suffering post traumatic stress, you and I will help them.

Yes, yes, yes -- for me, no matter what was threatened, I could not kill someone.

Could you?

Sunday, January 20, 2013


The Cullums hem and haw. Of course they LIKE each other. They find themselves wanting to describe what they LOVE and avoid repeating compliments they've given each other before. 

What they LIKED about each other initially -- looks, manners, talents and abilities -- the things that brought them together -- haven't changed at all.