3 September 2015

King Of The Hill

By: Jon Katz
King Of The Hill

King Of The Hill

This morning, as the heavy fog settled over the farm, Maria walked her pony out into the rear pasture, the sheep followed suit, Red was the King Of The Hill, surveying his territory, his sheep.

Posted in General

Fun Dog. Ball Dog.

By: Jon Katz
Good time girl

Good time girl

Fate is a good time girl, a fun dog. She and Maria have a blast, throwing balls, catching frisbees. I have fun working with her and the sheep, training this explosive and intense creature. Fun is a big part of working with a dog, I know some awfully grim border collie people, and some even grimmer training people. Some of them seem to have forgotten to have fun, or to value it.

Fate has brought a lot of fun into our lives, and we try and return the favor. She is an amazing ball dog (what an agility dog she would make, though it's not for me or Maria), she is faster than a Lab and just as determined. She runs after the ball, tracks it down, brings it back and demands to do it again. Two obsessives, having fun.

Fate's purpose in life is not to herd sheep, her purpose in life is to shake up our lives, brighten them, challenge us, and get us to smile about 100 times a day. Good and precious work.

Posted in General

Herding In The Mist. Letting Fate Be Fate.

By: Jon Katz
Herding In The Mist

Herding In The Mist

This morning, herding in the mist. A video, too. A quiet morning, I decided to let Red do the work, and let  Fate do what she wanted to, I wanted to give her some freedom, and see how she handled it. Fate is being trained as a farm dog, not as a herding champion (which I imagine Red was and is). I don't care much for all of the do's and don't's of herding trails, I don't think Fate would either.

It was a joy to watch her this morning, you can also. She raced ahead of the sheep, which is great, she turned them once or twice, which was also great, at times she and Red seemed to be communicating, working almost seamlessly, at other times she was off on a joyous romp all of her own.

I train her every day, I have this instinct that she needs to be more on her own sometimes, to feel her own way, her own strength. That felt very right this morning, in the mist.

Posted in General
2 September 2015

Thank You, Bridget, It Has Been Special

By: Jon Katz
It's Been Special

It's Been Special

Thank you, Bridget Rowan, it has been special. You, too, Margaret, and Olive. I wrote the other day that I said my goodbyes to O'Hearn's, but today was the last day the pharmacy was open, and I couldn't help but going back there to say one more goodbye, to trade a couple more hugs.

O'Hearn's is closed.

Bridget was an absolute wreck, I will do her one last favor of not putting up her photograph, she looked great but was in tears all day. I'm not sure she can handle too many more goodbyes. The street was filled with cars, there was a line inside the pharmacy, people were scooping up momentos to take home, they were crying and thanking Bridget, the air was thick with feeling and emotion and change.

I bought a ring for Maria, so she would have a momento also. I know the world will not come to an end, the chain store down the road will give us our medications much like Bridget did, but surely not in the same way. What was interesting was that so many people wanted this kind of pharmacy, yet it doesn't matter what they want, the people who run the systems that run the world don't seem to care what they want.

Or perhaps it is true that the only things Americans want is the lowest prices delivered in the most automatic and routine way. I can't say what most Americans want. I accept change and even embrace it, but my heart was heavy today. Something was lost, something that can never be replaced, something the children of the world will never know.

I saw almost everyone I knew there, they were shaking their heads, some were crying they told story after story of Bridget helping them, looking out for them, calling insurance companies to go to bat for them, doing paperwork for them. They felt as if they were being cast out into a cold and alien world. Is it really true that we have forgotten what people are for, and that they no longer fit into our vast and disconnected political, economic and technological system.

I don't really want to believe that. The Rite-Aide will be fine, I will do my part to make it so. But when so many people love something so deeply, when it matters so much, when they are so willing to fight for it and support, then something is broken when it can't survive. Something special is lost. I asked Bridget how much more of this she could take, she said she was about spent. I could see that in her eyes. They were red and bleary.

She was almost cried out.

"I called the Rite-Aid," Bridget told one man, "and I said you better take good care of Bill. And they said they will, and I believe them."

O'Hearn's was a pharmacy, but it was, of course, more than that. It was a place to be known, to be understood, to be worried about. A place to laugh, gossip, to feel important. Bridget's gift was making everyone feel as if they still mattered, still counted, even if they don't.  It was a place of trust and community. It is not the only place like that in my town, perspective is always important.

But there is no other place like it now.

I do wonder why it is that people cannot keep the things in their lives that they want, how distancing and alienating it felt to see all of these people, all of these fanatically devoted customers, all of them wanting Bridget to stay behind her counter and prosper. All of them sad and angry that no one cared what they wanted.

What does it mean that this no longer seems to matter? Is this why the people oniine are so angry, why our political system has turned so angry and foul? I don't have the answers, just the questions.

Something special did die on Main Street today, I will perhaps not see it again in my life. So that is sad. I am grateful that I got to see it at all. So that is good.

Bridget has given me and others the great gift of understanding what community is and means. We will never take that for granted again.

And I am happy that I brought a small piece of Bridget's Pharmacy to take home with me to give to my wife.


Posted in General

Getting Trumped, Cont: Send Back Your Tired, Your Poor. Emma Lazarus Is A Bimbo.

By: Jon Katz
No Hair, No Apologies, No Jews, No Irish.

My Hair, No Apologies, No Jews, No Irish.

Emma Lazarus was a loser, a total loser, a desperate bimbo, she was not nice, low energy, pathetic, bad for America,  tweet bait for Donald Trump. We love her. More later.

My dog Fate is a loser too, she is clueless, she is not great, she jumped up out onto the bed this morning, she pulled my hair right off of my head and then ran downstairs and pushed open the back door and was caught red-handed trying to bury my hair inside of the dog house. All chewed up,  disgusting. Back to Virginia for her. Deported.

I have a big Trumpish idea for the poor people of the world, better than coming here. It is great. You will have to read more to find out about it. The big guy is not only on my head, he is in my head.

Speaking of which, some liberal media people made a big stink out of my saying yesterday that all of the Jews and Scottish-American farmers ought to go back where they came from…Israel, I think, do they still come from there? Who knows for sure where they come from, they seem to be everywhere? Some people want me to apologize to them for hurting their feelings.

But I'm not going to apologize to them, they should apologize to me for my not treating them well. I mean, who are these people, what have they built, what have they done? We need a wall around them.

And I have been good to them, I have a lot of good Jews working for me, I love them. I know Moses, he is great, he came to my office asking me for money to travel around in the desert, I threw him out. You must be kidding, I said, what kind of investment is that? But it wasn't personal, we talk all the time. He's a good guy, he loves me. Because I am great.

I told him I'm sending all my charity money to the Vatican so they can start up another inquisition. They knew how to get people out of a country, to keep them from ever coming back. Religion needs a victory, there are no victories for Popes any more. When is the last time religion had a victory? Not since the Muslims elected a President of the United States just a few years ago. And look what happened? China is mopping up the floor with us, bimbos and bleeding women are giving the news.

My America will be great again, we can shoot people for no reason again.  What a bunch of sissies. If every single person in the country had guns, if there was a handgun in every school desk in the country, you'd see a lot of dead crazy people with machine guns. The kids would really have a better chance of defending themselves. It takes a long time for the police to arrive, there's a lot of people with guns out there. Give the little kids a chance.

I've been Trumped. Donald Trump has inspired me to rise up out of my political lethargy and wise-cracking, get some good  hair,  and  make some good proposals to ease the suffering of the world, and also to deal with all of those immigrants and rapists who are coming here to steal from us and rape our children so they can feed their children.

I've figured him out. I will be honest with you. We will take a turn here.  I have the best idea for  him, and for all of the people who love him. I have found the line between Trump being funny and Trump being not funny. I realize there is something very personal about Trump, for each one of us who is still morally alive.

I love to laugh at Trump. I stopped laughing this afternoon, it was strange. Minnie Cohen did it, she rose up out of the mist of time and her eyes filled with tears, I hung my head in shame. What, she asked, are you laughing at, poor boy?

I was drawn to re-read the writing of Jonathan Swift, a poet, essayist, and moralist – you may remember those? – who wrote a couple of hundred years ago, about the same thing Trump is talking about now It is true, history is a wheel, it just keeps turning and turning, nothing is new. Swift wrote to the same kind of people, and he heard all the people in England complaining about the starving Irish coming to rape them and steal from them, and he suggested the poor mothers of Ireland stop whining in their famine, stop migrating to other countries and taking up all their jobs.

He said they ought to eat their babies. Trump might not like Jonathan Swift. There is no shame for Trump and his followers, they are not reachable in that old way.

But Swift had a timely idea, it would slip right into the Trump campaign for president:

"I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London," he wrote, "that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or boiled.."

He had the right idea about those immigrants, Trump will love it,  about poor women like my grandmother, who snuck out of Russia after her brothers and sisters starved and died, who walked across Europe to get to America in an awful winter, who crossed the border without a passport, uninvited, not welcome.

Are we not all Irish? Jews? African-Americans? Scottish farmers? Mexican migrant workers? Do we not all have the same story running through our blood?

"It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great down or travel in the country," wrote Swift, "when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants; who as they grow up either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country…"

They should have built a big wall to keep Minnie Cohen out, then maybe they might have sent their best – a/k/a richest –  people to us instead.

So I'm learning from Trump how to live, how to believe, what to believe, how we can be great again, what makes a country great.  And what doesn't. I am grateful for that. Trump said recently that the best investments are sometimes the ones you don't make. The best ideas are sometimes the ones you don't follow.

You have to be strong in this world, there are people out there who will kill you, eat you alive. Maybe you have to make America great again by hating people again. By turning on  Minnie Cohen and the poor and sending her and them back to starve and die, by only letting rich people like Trump in, by building walls around our world. Don't they deserve it? They are stepping on us, taking advantage of us.  Think of it, millions and millions of them, all getting shipped back, like overnight packages.

What would it cost? Billions of dollars and the soul of a wonderful, unprecedented idea for a nation.

So maybe Trump will discover Swift, and get a great new speech for his campaign, his many new followers will soak it right up, the media will just love it,  the social media horses will share it a million times, the blogs will explode with excitement, cable news will rake in the money. Imagine the first video of the first baby eaten on You Tube, talk about going viral, if you thought Cecil the Lion was big. The Outrage Addicts will choke in front of their screens.

And what a great song for Trump and his followers to sing while he passes out his T-shirts and big hats, and gives the children rides in his helicopters, and keeps his hair from taking off in the wind. Remember the big heart of this man, he loves people, he loves Mexicans, he loves women, he loves children, he loves the dread Chinese,  they are just great, like him:

The new Trump Campaign Song, a new engraving for the lady in the harbor: "Keep your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,  build a great big wall thousands of miles long to keep them out, to turn they away, to ship them back by the millions,  do not send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me, I turn off my lamp beside the golden door, I slam it shut, on the fingers of the lost and the poor."

Sorry, Minnie, we are closed. Only the rich can get in. Go back to Russia. Sorry, Emma Lazarus, you suck as a poet, you are a miserable loser, your words do not belong on the Statue Of Liberty.

You're fired.

Mr. Trump has a point. It is a popular idea, he is soaring in the polls. And who the hell has ever heard of Emma Lazarus, or cares what loser poets say and write?

You do have to be tough with people these days,  like those Chinese, they don't come to chat, they come right into a meeting, and they look you in the eye, sit right down in your conference room, drink all the coffee you bring to them, eat all of the donuts,  and say "We Kill You, Stupid White People!" And they do, they do, just look at the trade deficit. They are  killing us!

We love the Chinese, they are great people. Great.

And we need better hair. Join the Revolution. Be Stupid, Be Proud. Keep laughing, shake your head. Fate is not a great dog, she is a loser. Emma Lazarus is crying in the heavens, she is another loser egghead, a bimbo, too weak for our world.


Posted in General