Winter is coming and it is the winter of our discontent.
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 – VATICAN CITY
Pope Francis greeted Donald Trump today in his private study on the third floor of the Apostolic Palace and posed for a photo op with the U.S. President and his wife and daughter—along with several unexpected apparitions that were unseen by the naked eye but appeared in the photograph and were audible to photographer, Marco Mezzasalma—according to a statement made by an anonymous Vatican interpreter.
“Mr. Mezzasalma had set up for the photoshoot,” the interpreter told 336 Journal over the phone. “And then he raised the camera to his eye and said ‘say, cheese’ in English. Immediately, three childish voices could be heard saying, ‘sfigato,’ ‘stronzo,’ and ‘coglione.’ At that moment, I heard one of the Swiss Guards in the room gasp and whisper to another, ‘The American President has stolen the Pope’s smile!’ And then, Mr. Mezzasalma shrieked at what he saw on the screen of his camera, crossed himself, and started to flee from the room before he was tackled by the Swiss Guards.”
After the room was cleared, the Pope spoke privately with Trump for 30 minutes. According to Reuters, it has been reported that Francis gave Trump a small sculptured olive tree and told him through the interpreter that it symbolized peace.
“It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace,” the Pope said, speaking in Spanish.
Trump responded: “We can use peace.”
Francis also gave Trump a signed copy of his 2017 peace message: “Nonviolence – A Style of Politics for Peace” and a copy of his 2015 letter on the need to protect the environment from the effects of climate change.
“Well, I’ll be reading them,” Trump said.
The Vatican and the White House have denied the presence in the photograph of a pair of girls resembling the twins from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining; a boy that appears to be Damien from the movie, The Omen; and a dead ringer for Harry Potter’s nemesis, Voldemort—in a nun’s habit.
Marco Mezzasalma has mysteriously vanished.
The author wishes to let the reader know that all words in this article written in italics come from the satirical universe next door. The rest of the words are true inasmuch as the reader wishes to believe in the accuracy of the reporting by mainstream media.
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Sharing, liking, comments, and other acknowledgements are greatly appreciated by the author.
When Earth President Donald Trump signed a bill in March of 2017 authorizing $19.5 billion in funding for NASA, and announced plans for a Mars mission during his first term, some of the citizens of our closest space neighbor expressed both skepticism and alarm.
I reached out to Martian professor of human anthropology, Klaatu Thuvian—currently orbiting Earth in a flying saucer with two of his grad students.
“We weren’t expecting Earthers to visit for at least fifteen years,” Klaatu tells me in a Skype chat. “We’re not ready. We’re still trying to figure out how to protect ourselves from human viruses and microorganisms. Plus, our minister of human affairs hasn’t received the funds promised for the construction of Trump’s hotel and golf course in our capital city. And, frankly, we feel that Earth people are presently too xenophobic for a successful first contact.”
I ask Klaatu if he had been monitoring the conversation between President Trump and astronaut Peggy Whitson while she was aboard the International Space Station.
“Actually, we heard about Trump’s plan while listening to NPR over the radio,” Klaatu says. His grad students, Barada and Nickto, appear next to him on screen and perform what can be best described as a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch.
“Tell me, Mars…” Barada says in a perfect imitation of Trump’s voice. “What do you see a timing for actually sending humans to Mars? Is there a schedule and when would you see that happening?”
“You already approved a timeline for the mission to launch in 2033 when you funded NASA, you ridiculous human meat-suit,” Nickto replies in Whitson’s voice.
“Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term,” Barada says. “So we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?”
“Yeah, well, you should probably cancel the construction of your golf course on the sun,” Nickto sneers. “You’re gonna need the money.”
The grad students high-six each other and disappear, cackling off-screen.
It’s not uncommon to encounter homeless people sleeping in the grass beside the bike path that parallels the railroad tracks but something about this fellow seems different.
Laying facedown in a fetal position, a gnarled hand resting over a soft guitar case, his backpack is open and his head is on the path.
I double back and get off my bike to investigate.
“Hey, man—are you alright. Do you need help? Are you alive?” No answer.
I touch his hand. It’s stone cold. He doesn’t move.
I place my hand on his back and nudge his body, which rocks stiffly like a mannequin stuck in the mud. He doesn’t seem to be breathing.
I call 911 and it’s not the first time I’ve made this call. There was that dead guy in Eugene circa 1986 and another guy in New York City in 1993.
“I think I found a dead homeless guy on the bike path,” I say to the dispatcher. Suddenly, his shoulder circles slowly.
“Oh shit,” I say into the phone. “False alarm. He’s alive. I think.”
“Does he need medical attention?”
He raises his head like he’s come out of a state of suspended animation and glares at me with a feral look.
“Do you need medical attention?” No answer. “He’s not responding,” I say.
“What are you doing here,” the man growls angrily.
“Just checking to see if you’re alright. Do you need help?”
“I’m trying to get away from people,” he says rising. “People like you!”
“Okay,” I say, laughing as I beat a hasty retreat. “Take care, man.”
“Hey, HEY,” he yells.
Chuckling with relief, I tell the dispatcher that he’s on his feet and coming after me but not to worry as I’m on my bike and riding away.
“Try to do something nice and that’s what you get,” she says. “You should buy a lottery ticket.”
I end the call, wishing I lived in a world where I could exchange good karma points for cold hard cash.
“When is Patty coming to cook us dinner?” I asked Robert as he rushed through the front door into our Berkeley apartment.
“Haven’t you heard?” he gasped. “Patty has been kidnapped!”
“I heard something about a kidnapping. What does that have to do with dinner?”
Robert flicked on the TV and turned to the news channel. A picture appeared of Robert’s lab partner in Zoology, a petite art history major who had been too squeamish to dissect a shark. Robert had to do all the lab work and tutor her so she could pass the class. Patty had promised to cook us dinner that night to thank Robert. Her familiar ordinary face did not belong on TV. Then the dots connected. Hearst Ave, Auditorium, Greek Theatre, Castle, Patty Hearst!
“That Patty is our Patty? I asked, in a state of numb disbelief.
Robert nodded grimly as we listened to the reporter. “The kidnappers fired guns while locking the struggling, blindfolded Hearst into the trunk of their car. The kidnappers, a counterculture guerrilla group named the Symbionese Liberation Army, are demanding that Hearst’s family donate food to all needy California families. Her father, San Francisco Examiner publisher Randolph Hearst, is mounting a multi-million dollar Bay Area food give-away program.”
“I already donated fifty dollars,” Robert said.
“I guess dinner is off,” I sighed.
Two months later, the television showed Patty robbing a bank in San Francisco. She had changed her name to “Tania” and joined the SLA.
“I want my fifty dollars back!” Robert complained.
The court later convicted Patty of bank robbery and sentenced her to 35 years in prison. After serving 22 months, President Carter commuted her sentence and Clinton eventually pardoned her.
Forty years later, I saw Patty again on the TV. She appeared on the Larry King show promoting her book and answering questions from viewers. I thought about calling to remind Patty that she still owed us dinner. While I deliberated whether to call, however, the window of opportunity passed.
~ By H. Joseph Horacek (San Francisco)
For Kofi Awoonor, killed in the Westgate shootings in Nairobi, Kenya, on 21 September 2013.
A poet not of bush but bottle shop,
Just not the kind of bottle shop you think,
In which each starry shelf is lined
With shining ranks, glittering with rime,
Of objects manifold with surfaced time.
There we rhyme and where we make a sign
We cannot be consistently defined,
Oriented as we are upon the infinite.
We cannot die, we cannot die,
We who are the folding sky,
We who broken lie where all the broken bottles lie.
Curt Hopkins is a blogger and freelance journalist in San Francisco. His work has appeared in Christian Science Monitor, Okayafrica, Newsweek, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Salon, Los Angeles Times, National Post, New Times, Reuters, ReadWrite, Ars Technica, Daily Dot and others.
I started my morning with an email from you.
I wish you had written to say hello or ask me about my week but you sent a forwarded list boasting 26 Things Trump Has Done Since Taking Office.
I read it, incredulous, and thought about conversations we’ve had about politics and more importantly about my life. I try to be respectful of our differences and still speak my mind. So, when you send me messages like this it breaks my heart because it means you don’t truly know me or you don’t hear and respect me.
Let me introduce myself so you can see me clearly:
I’m the same person I’ve been since I was a teen. You raised me to to pray for those in need and taught me to look to Jesus for an example—I saw a beautiful badass revolutionary with a heart of compassion in a troubled world. Jesus saw through Pharisees. Whether He was turning over tables, feeding the hungry on the Sabbath, or sparing a woman who would have been stoned, Jesus has always been always about love. This understanding has shaped me into who I am.
I march for women. My best friend is gay. My house is full of welcomed guests, wherever they’re from, especially when life is rough and they can’t go home. I raised my children to care about our environment and for those whose rights have been ignored. When I tell you that your granddaughter is facing water cannons and tear gas at Standing Rock . . . are you hearing me?
Hear these words from someone whose first mode is love:
I stand against the politics of this administration. I resist because of my faith; because of how you raised me; because of my children; because of this world’s suffering, because of love. If you can see me now, Dad, ask yourself why you would send me emails that gloat over the things I’m battling.
Remember your target before you send errant arrows.
Sallie is a writer of literary fiction and nonfiction with short stories published in The Sun and Coffee Talk. She’s served as program coordinator for Writers In The Schools (Eugene, Oregon) and facilitated creative writing groups with youth in detention and treatment programs. Sallie enjoys spending time with her husband and five children in an old pink Craftsman house that always has a fix-it project, a new ghost story, and a fresh tomato in the garden.
Investigative readers may find it as difficult locating “26 Things Trump Has Done Since Taking Office” online as I did so I’ve provided a list of “23 terrifying things that President Trump has done in the last seven days.” ~RLR
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Advisory Warning: Do not attempt to listen to this song without earbuds or headphones. A quiet space is required and dimming the lights is recommended.
Three things you need to know about this cover of Prince’s Purple Rain before you commit to listening to it.
One—it’s strings and whispers and a melodious and emotionally rich voice that will escort you through the depths of everything you’ve got bottled up inside you . . . but it will guide you through expertly and safely. I tested the ride out myself and the equipment is solid. No need for a safety belt, either.
Two—you’ll need a quiet room and earbuds or headphones. I know I already said that in the advisory warning but you may not have been paying attention. Remember also that the whispering sotto voce needs to be heard and I promise you there are moments when the violins brush so gently against the little snails in your ears that they will not shrink from the touch of the music.
Three—you might need a pick me up tune afterward. I’ll drop one in at the end of this post.
And that’s it. Catch you on the other side.
Amanda Palmer, with the support of 8,000 patrons, pays tribute to one of her biggest idols, Prince, in collaboration with Jherek Bischoff, with whom she had toured with as part of the grand theft orchestra. They were both “barely recovered from [David] Bowie’s death and the work [they] did on the Strung out in Heaven EP” when Prince died, so they texted each other and began collaborating on Purple Rain.
“Like with bowie…we could think of no better action than to get into the studio, and mourn and feel prince using the music. there is no better medicine. to all of our beloved…punch a higher floor.” ~afp (Amanda Fucking Palmer)
By the way, I recommend the cover that afp and jfb did of Heroes for that pick me up tune that I mentioned above. You can find it at Strung Out In Heaven: A Bowie String Quartet Tribute. ~ RLR
Timely, chillingly appropriate, absolutely inspirational. If you are shell-shocked by current political events and need some inspiration right now you need this.
The Great Dictator was Charlie Chaplin's first talking picture and it's a scathing condemnation of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. The speech in this video clip hits every single note perfectly and the music pairing—not original to the film but also spot on perfect—is exquisite.
Chaplin worked for several weeks on the climactic speech, which was filmed from April to June of 1940 and he delivered it from the heart to the world, as Charlie Chaplin, not the character he was portraying.
Chaplin is expressing his real emotions in the scene and he allowed himself to be swept away emotionally by the speech. And he did it in one take with cameras zeroed in on him, surrounded by hundreds of extras.
This version is a level-up from the original (in my opinion) with a sweeping instrumental by Hans Zimmer—borrowed from the film Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan.
Chaplin spent two years working on the movie, assiduously studying newsreels of Hitler—who had banned Chaplin's films in Germany because he didn't want to be ridiculed as a comedic doppelgänger of the Little Tramp.
The comedian copied every gesture and mannerism of the man he once said gave "a bad impersonation of me." His portrayal of a Jewish barber living in the ghetto who impersonates a very familiar fascist dictator by the name of Adenoid Hynkel is gold
Ironically, Chaplin and Hitler were more alike than either man would dare to admit, had they known of the similarities. They were born four days apart, both revered their mothers, and both men had ugly drunks as fathers. They also sported the same type of mustache. And they were both phenomenal actors.
This scene makes me want to become a phenomenal activist—to fight against the machine men with their machine hearts and machine minds.
Charlie is watching.
I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone, if possible—Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful but we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost . . .
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men—cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world—millions of despairing men, women, and little children—victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.
To those who can hear me, I say—do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed; the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.
Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!
In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!
Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!
~ Charles Chaplin (1940)
To the bafflement and consternation of many North Bay American Civil Liberties Union members and supporters, an announcement was released yesterday at 6:33 pm by Carole Guffanti Notley in the Facebook page for ACLU of Sonoma County that the local affiliate will be deactivating its Sonoma County Chapter and shutting down its Facebook site this weekend.
Here is the message in its entirety:
“It is with tremendous sorrow that I must announce the decision of the ACLU-NC to deactivate the Sonoma County Chapter. It seems unfathomable that, at this incredibly important time and with such an outpouring of support that we received at last Sunday’s Community Engagement Fair, such a thing would transpire, but it has.”
“Many people have given tremendous amounts of their time to volunteer for the Sonoma County Chapter over the years, and it would be remiss not to thank them for their unyielding support in the area of protection of civil liberties. In particular, I must thank Martin McReynolds for his tireless efforts attending community events, stepping in as past Chair, treasurer, and in producing our marvelous newsletter among many other noteworthy contributions.”
“I have been a board member for the past three years and am proud of the work our Chapter has accomplished in that time.”
“For those of you who wish to continue the work of the ACLU, I am directed to refer you to the ACLU-NC site in San Francisco. I will be shutting down this Facebook site this weekend. In the meantime, should you wish to stay active locally, please feel free to PM me on my personal FB site: Carole Guffanti Notley.”
“It has been an honor to serve you in the pursuit of justice and civil rights as Administrator of this page, and I hope you will all continue to be engaged in standing up to civil rights violations and to fight the good fight, now more than ever.”
This announcement comes a month after the Sonoma County chapter had announced that their website was being revamped because of an increased interest in the organization since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
The website had stated:
“We look forward to seeing you at the next meeting on January 17th at 7 pm at the PJC, when we hold elections for our board.”
The February 3rd, 2017 announcement of deactivating the chapter is all the more puzzling in light of the closing lines of the last post by the ACLU-NC website:
“Get involved. Channel that anger in a productive way. Join us!”
All that is known, according to reports by the Sonoma County Chapter, is that the decision was made internally and the San Francisco Chapter had no knowledge of the decision.
The Sonoma County Chapter reports that:
“We have been directed to close the bank account for the chapter and send all money to the SF Affiliate.”
The San Francisco Affiliate oversees all the chapters in Northern California.
The Sonoma County Chapter has promised that a full explanation is forthcoming and I will update this post when the information becomes available.
Update (5 February 2017 at 10:33 am):
I’ve been contacted by a few people that are involved with the ACLU and my impression is that there are many people working diligently to maintain a solid support system for protecting civil liberties and they will update the public further on the events of the deactivation and also reassure members that there will continue to be an active organization. I’ve also spoken to a friend that was formerly involved and they have nothing but praise for the people that are involved with the ACLU-NC. ~RLR
Update via Facebook (5 January 2917 at 11:22):
Please be advised that effective immediately, the Sonoma County Chapter of the ACLU has been deactivated.
For further information, contact:
American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California
39 Drumm Street • San Francisco, California 94111Phone: (415) 621-2493
Fax: (415) 255-1478
TTY: (415) 863-7832
Those seeking legal advice from ACLU of Northern CA may call (415) 621-2488 (Monday to Friday, 10am-12 noon & 1pm-3pm) or fill out a confidential online form.
While it is our understanding that ACLU-NC is amenable to reconstruction of a chapter in Sonoma County, and they are following up with individuals who have submitted applications to join the chapter board and will work to engage them in the ACLU in a timely manner, none of the current board will be considered.
The basis for this deactivation may be up for debate, but the decision by ACLU-NC is final.
We will reach out to our current membership and those who have expressed an interest in activism to offer them possible matches depending on their area of focus. There are many organizations in the Country that would benefit from volunteers and embrace values similar to those of the (now former) Sonoma County Chapter of the ACLU.
~Carole Guffanti Notley, Secretary
Sonoma County Chapter
ACLU of Northern California