Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Candle Light Vigil to Honor Fallen Soldiers

Winnebago Peace and Justice Center will be having a
candle light vigil to mark the 2000th US casualty in
the Iraq war. The vigil will take place at the Sundial
in downtown Oshkosh on Wednesday October 26th at 7pm.
2000 Tea Light Candles will used representing each
persons death. The candles were donated by Blyth
Homescents Candles 627 Bayshore Drive Oshkosh. The
event is free and all ages are invited to come and

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I saw Jim, (not his real name), the day after Eddie Cook's memorial service. He was coming out of the Oshkosh Public Library. I hadn't seen him all week. "I can't #@%&*&# believe! I just can't $%^&*@# believe it! That #%$&*@!. I can't #$%&*!@# believe that #%$^&** wouldn't let me go to Eddie's funeral!!!" Jim vented for a while and I stood and listened. There was no reason for me to break in. He needed a minute to vent and cool down.

Jim had made a special trip to the library to read the front page Northwestern article on Ed. Jim was a friend of Eddie and knew him much much better than I did. Jim is a barrel chested fellow in his 40's whose physique is a reminder of what hard work can accomplish without trips to a gym. He works hard but has occasional periods of idleness...the bane of being at the whim of the temp. services. He has been homeless for several days here and there between jobs but has an upbeat attitude. Ed had become his friend and he even stayed a few nights in the park with him. Jim hadn't been able to make his rent and had spent a few nights at Father Carr's.

On the Thursday of Ed's memorial service Jim asked Father Carr for permission to go. (Note that the service was at 4pm, with a meal to follow.) Father Carr told Jim that he wouldn't make it back in time.

The key phrase is 'in time'. Father Carr, whose rules change faster than wind direction, expected Jim to be 'in' by 6pm in order to stay there the night. Of course Father Carr expects all 'inmates' to report for meals. Not reporting for a meal means expulsion from the shelter. The evening meal begins at 5pm, thus Jim had to be present at 5pm or find a place to stay for the night.

Jim detailed the situation that day at Father Carr's. Population in that mammoth mens shelter: two inmates. A typical day in a shelter that could easily hold well into the three figures. Jim's request was certainly reasonable. The number 6 city bus route passes the Salvation Army at 4:45pm, 5:15pm, and 5:45pm. It drops passengers at K-Mart, across from Father Carr's about 12-minutes after each of those times. Jim could have returned at 5, 5:30, or 6pm. He could've caught a meal either place.

Father Carr could have...
  • Given him the bus fare and sent him on his way.
  • Called a volunteer to ferry him back and forth.
  • Called the Salvation Army and asked them to send a volunteer.
  • Called a Taxi and guaranteed the fee both ways.
  • With a net worth of almost $5 million, rented a limo.

Father Carr gave him the scare of his life, the threat of being tossed out on the street, just for asking permission to attend a funeral. Jim chose to spend the night inside rather than risk going to Eddie's service.

Jim was livid when I saw him at the library. He said that it isn't so much that he missed the service, as much as it is the incredibly nasty treatment he received from Father Carr. Carr's demeaning 'negative attitude at every opportunity' style is what he hates. He worries about people who are not as strong as he being subject to constant abuse at the hands of Carr.

The good news is that Jim found a job which will carry him to March. He left Father Carr's the day I saw him, and had found a place to stay. He did not want his name used. He has been down on his luck enough, had enough hard times, and just wants privacy. I respect that. If anyone would like to hear his story first person, I would be happy to do the introductions.


You won't read this story in the Northwestern. The reporters would rightly demand to use his name. I don't fault the reporters. They know about the goings-on at this shelter, which houses virtually no one, but can't get the back up commitments to use names. They however could've said what many have, about Father Carr's being worse than jail.


The same day I talked to Jim, a woman about age 50, told me she had called Father Carr and needed a place to stay. She was told the shelter was full (BUNK!!!). She called back three hours later and a guy named Adam also told her that the women's shelter was full.

Everyone in town knows that the shelter is never full and very under utilized.

I'm going to leave it at that today. Please post a comment. Please keep the comments civil.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I have dreaded this moment and hoped that it would not happen.

1:00pm Wednesday, October 19 2005

One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty of our Military is the death count.

When this number becomes 2,000 there will be a candlelight vigil held at the Sundial in downtown Oshkosh. It will be held around dusk on the first calm day.

Winnebago Peace and Justice Center has obtained 2,000 votive candles for this somber occasion. All are welcome for this quiet and reflective time. This will not be a time for signs and politics. This is about troops, human beings, past present and future.

Watch this and other local sites frequently for the details.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Carnivale, Empty Bowls, and Bagpipes

Whoops! I've been having such a good time I almost forgot to write. Early Friday evening before sunset the sounds of bagpipes pervaded the air downtown. The cacaphony could be heard but not seen. It was a real person with real pipes. The guy was down by Schultz's Drug and moving north on Main. Had a real kilt on too. I attempted to con a young lady into sneaking up behind him and finding out just what he was wearing under that kilt. Sorry, readers. She giggled and laughed and wouldn't take the bait so we will never know. The musicianship was excellent as he slowly marched up and down the street and disappeared, never to be seen again. You know why bagpipers usually march when they play? They're trying to get away from the noise.

As dusk approached a magician was plying his trade at the sundial. When the moon began to rise over the trees he got into some very fancy pyrotechnics that could be seen for blocks. Live magic is not common, and he was uncommonly good. I didn't get to watch the whole act but gave him all the encouragement I could. I told him how for years, in the Madison area, I would work as a musician by night, and magician by day. That caught his attention, he wanted to know more. I told him of the various clubs and the late nights, and how I would wake up in the morning, drive down to State Street about 10am, and turn into a bar.

(You know. You don't have to read this. You could be doing something productive.)

The magician was a warm-up for Carnivale. Darkness brought a beautiful windless October rustle-the-leaves eerie calm with an almost full moon. A Ray Bradbury "The October Country" "Something Wicked This Way Comes" type evening. Charlie Chaplin was coming up the street with that famous waddle, the cane, and the undersized derby. He was on his way to Carnivale.

Carnivale is a fundraiser for the art programs at North and West High Schools. The concept is this: Admission is $20. Admission is $5 if you are in costume, formal, or semi-formal dress. It was held at the Algoma Club on Algoma. The night started slow but by 11pm it was just a hummin'. Most were in costume. The party spilled into the street due to absolute smoking bans and that tended to bring in more $20-admissions from the curious. Smiles came to the people working the door, namely Doug Boone and I, when the 'take' went into the four-figure category. I have got to hand it to Doug, who was dressed as an air show tourist, for his hard work that night.

A jazz trio made some great music. I knew these guys were pro's when the drummer began the set with brushes. The acoustics are such that the brushes could be heard everywhere, but the percussion was not overbearing. The fellow on the electric stand-up bass was outrageously good and anyone could tell they were having a great time. The Oshkosh Rythm Institute also did some wonderful percussion things that helped set the mood. Belly dancers performed and were well received. Although I wasn't that close, I looked for finger-cymbals. I could hear them but never saw any. I liked what they did but get yourselves some finger cymbals. It's just not the same without them.

Costumes were simple, cute, and to the outer limits of taste towards the prurient, and them some. Medusa was there, green from head to toe with body paint and little else. There were many outfits of this type, elaborate and more than a bit cheeky. Sequins, feathers, and paint...lots of paint. Gilligan was there. About the third time he went out for a smoke I asked him what he was smoking. James Dean was there. I swear I saw Scarlet O'Hara. 'Liz has never looked so great. I mean, I've seen her on her bike heading towards the New Moon and she is always the picture of style, but she was jaw-dropping Friday night. I don't know if it was Scarlet O'Hara or not but that's what it was to me. I am not good at this so bear with me. She had big hair, I mean BIG HAIR! Long, with luscious curls cascading down her back. A floor length wine red gown, could've been crushed velvet, with all the accessories right down to the accordian style fan. There was a fashion show during the evening that was a riot. After the fashion show the models were auctioned off for dances. Someone bid $20 for a dance with 'Liz. She was worth a million. There were so many good costumes. The Master of Ceremonies was another favorite. This guy could've easily done lion taming or a circus. Way over 6-feet and thin, he became taller and thinner with a black top-hat and a brilliant red cut-away long-tailed mourning jacket and two-tone wing-tips. He did a great job announcing throughout the evening.

My personal favorite was the two G-men wearing gas masks. That's because they cheerfully 'jumped' my dead car at 1:45am so I could get home. Thanks again guys.

Carnivale is a real sleeper. This one is 'under the radar' and the whole city has yet to catch on. It was very busy and a lot of people will be ticked that they weren't aware of this avant-garde event. Plan now to be there next year.

EMPTY BOWLS 2005 took place Saturday night at the First Congregational Church. This is a fundraiser for our local Ecumenical Food Pantry which distributes from Trinity Episcopal Church. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds were served. The idea is simple. Local artists design, make, and contribute soup bowls. Folks pick out a bowl, have soup and bread, and get to keep the bowl and take it home. Beyond that, nothing is simple. The bowls are every conceivable color and shape. The decorations were fancy, and the lights were dimmed briefly for a quiet and meaningful candle lighting ceremony at each end of each table. There were about seven soups to pick from. I had chicken chile. Chunks of white meat with black beans and other goodies in a white sauce. Excellent! Home made bread of all sorts and sizes was served with the soup. These were the fancy thick heavy good-for-you breads. Desserts and more completed the meal. A String Trio performed and also a pianist. An auction of 'painted-chairs' followed the meal. Too many people to thank. I'll mention one: CHEF SUE HEFT! Go here:

The events of this past weekend had a common thread...ART. And heck, it ain't Art Walk until the beginning of next month. Think about it folks. The downtown is happening...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Eddie Cook ---An Update

(The original article can be found on your right: "Body found in Fox River". A correction: I have since learned that Ed did know how to swim.)

Ed was cremated last Friday morning. The following is taken from the Salvation Army's Church Bulletin. Captain Johnny and Yoley Harsh are Pastors.
Special Memorial Service
This Thursday 4pm
This past week, we lost one of our dearest friends. Ed Cook, who was a faithful and precious volunteer at our Salvation Army and had many friends here was promoted to glory Wednesday morning.
In honor of our love for Ed and in support of his family and friends, we will be having a memorial service here Thursday at 4pm with meal following.
Please come and celebrate Ed's life with us.
Please note that this is a community event and all are welcome for the short service and the meal that follows. The Salvation Army is located at 417 Algoma Blvd. For donations of volunteer time, food, or anything else, please call 920.232.7660.
The Salvation Army runs on a shoe-string budget and does amazing things. Dollar for dollar they are well known for their excellent and frugal use of funds. Overhead is low but at the same time they take care of their employees. How many employers in Oshkosh can boast that their workers have Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday?
The Salvation Army works quietly with community groups and churches. This is done so quietly that I will boast for them. Meal programs are assisted at times by a Women's group from St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Winneconne, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) of Oshkosh, the First Congregational Church and St. Paul's UCC, among others.
If you have ever wondered what goes on at the Salvation Army, or have been curious about volunteering in any capacity, the Memorial Service for Ed Cook might be a good starting point to learn about this wonderful organization.
Tooting my own horn...
While talking with Captain Johnny Harsh I offered to contribute my talents. Yours truly will be at the keyboards for the memorial service Thursday. (That's right! You will be able to put a face with this blog!) Captain Johnny told me that Ed Cook's favorite song was 'Sunday Morning Coming Down' and he will sing it Thursday. Written by Kris Kristofferson, made famous by Johnny Cash, this is a provoking tune. For lyrics go here:

Sunday, October 09, 2005

RAPE & PILLAGE [or] Happy Columbus Day

I can't believe this! Babblemur posted a photo of me on his site! I'm irate! He could've at least asked permission. On top of that he claimed it was a picture of him! You be the judge:

Be careful where you take those nude photos to be processed. Bad things could happen to YOU. You could get a visit from the local gendarmes, the FBI, CIA, KGB, the Thought Police, the Secret Service and more...All because of some snotty smiley face at MALL-WART. Check this out: http://www.progressive.org/mag_mc100405

All together now: Rape and Pillage, Rape and Pillage, Rape and Pillage...

Columbus took that to heart. He brought much more than that. Various forms of V.D. and other wonderful life threatening diseases. Kill the men, rape the mothers and daughters, take the sons to sell as slaves. What a wonderful legacy, AND WE SET ASIDE A DAY TO GLORIFY HIM! Please go here: http://www.madison.com/tct/opinion//index.php?ntid=56962&ntpid=3
and here: http://www.madison.com/tct/opinion//index.php?ntid=56958&ntpid=7

Did I ever tell you about the time (as a musician) I played a Columbus Day party at the Knights of Columbus in Columbus?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Body Found in the Fox River

Eddie Cook of Oshkosh was pulled out of the Fox River this morning about 10:00 in the area of the Leach Amphitheatre. It is surmised that he fell in late last night but probably by 6am this morning. Ed, about 58, was a familiar sight on the streets in the downtown area. Short in stature, he had long grey hair which he combed straight back. He was thin, with light colored glasses. He was a common daily visitor to the Oshkosh Public Library and read the Northwestern. He would make his way to Workforce Development in the old SBC building and to the Salvation Army. He spent a lot of time at the river by the Main Street Bridge and had taken to sleeping under the bridge.

He was a decent fellow and had no enemies. He carried a rectangular black briefcase everywhere he went. He volunteered quite a bit at the Salvation Army helping with preparation and serving of meals. He worked hard and complained almost as much, but still continued to help. He volunteered to help, as he put it, 'build his resume'. He was well liked and fair with people. He was doing some telemarketing work the last few months.

Eddie slept under the bridge. He felt, as many others do, that to stay at Father Carr's was worse than being in jail. He wanted nothing to do with Father Carr.

Ed did not know how to swim. We may never know the circumstances of his death but I will list some items of interest here.

-The city had installed a fence to prevent people from going under the bridge. It stopped at the water's edge. People swung around it momentarily being over open water. The fence stopped nothing. There is no question that the fence made it more dangerous to get under the bridge.

-Rats, rather large ones, had taken to stealing food, even pulling away entire plastic grocery bags. (Could a rat have startled him?)

-Ed may have had too much beer, which at his weight might have been 3-cans.

-He could've slipped. He had been in severe pain at times lately over a knee problem.

Eddie will be missed. He had been working at trying to get on disability for some time and carried his correspondence around in that black briefcase which he was never without.

How many Eddies will die before a more dignified method of taking care of people is legislated?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Happy Birthday!

My favorite political source of late is celebrating an 11th birthday. Capitol Hill Blue bashed Clinton for a while and has spent a lot of time bashing Bush in the last five years. Go here:

Speaking of birthdays... More people celebrate their birthdays on October 5th than on any other date. Think about that one on a long cold night next January.

The First Congregational Church had their latest monthly concert today. John Harmon on the grand piano and John Gibson on the upright bass. Very pleasant to the ear and a most welcome way to spend a lunch hour. "Over the Rainbow" was a featured tune. He used a progression that to my best knowledge was first used many many years ago by George Shearing. Rather than beginning with the dominant chord he used a minor 6th to open the tune. (To you musicians: If the first chord was "C", he substituted an "A-minor 6th" followed by "B-7th".) There was a soup & sandwich meal served afterward that was spectacular. Finely decorated tables, centerpieces, and colorful tasty rich desserts. There is not a finer way to spend the noonhour once a month in Oshkosh. A big thanks to everyone that had a part in it.

Is it my imagination? It seems that the flags have been spending more time at half-mast lately than they spend fully raised. I don't know where that comment will lead, but feel free to submit your opinion. Is our country in that dire of straits? What gives?

I visited the Valley Scene website the other day. http://www.valleyscene.com
There was this little circle that said: 50-cents. That explains why I haven't seen it in the entry way over at the Pig on Murdock. I don't know the circumstances of this but on the surface it does not bode well. I like the Scene and I suspect that charging for it may be more of a hindrance than a help. I do wish the Scene well.

Heard on the streets of Oshkosh... Randy S. told me about George Bush's morality. Dubya is the "moral" president. It seems though that the further south toward Texas that a person goes this "moral" thing begins to sound like "more-oil". Thank you for that Randy.

Thanks to the Northwestern for their lead article last Sunday on the Peace Movement in Oshkosh. Whether you agree or not...stop by Opera House Square Friday from 4:30 to 7pm. There are lively discussions at Peace Park. This kind of thing will never happen at the mall! It's the Town Square. Your voice is welcome. Come in peace.