Monday, April 30, 2007

Now it is the 1st of May

As a young child I looked forward to the 1st of May every year. We did the Maypole thing at school and arts and crafts too. The real fun started after school. We would take the smaller of the wicker baskets we used at Easter, and with mother's help we filled them with homemade cookies, candy, and anything else that was appropriate. An old toy, a Cracker Jack prize, maybe a premium from a cereal box.

Each basket was put together with a particular person in mind. The last item was a tag indicating the person's name. We then would deliver the basket by placing it on the porch. The next step was to ring the doorbell (or knock), and run like hell.

The whole idea was to never acknowledge who the gift came from. I sometimes came back from delivering a basket and found one for me on the front steps.

Later, at about age 12, I learned this: Now it is the 1st of May, Outdoor necking starts today.

Then... If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? (Pilgrims.)

I was never aware until many years later that May Day had political implications. I like that. I was brought up in a house where the term 'by rights' was used on an almost daily basis. My dad would say: "By rights a feller should be able to..." or "by rights a person should be able...(to return a defective toaster) (refuse Sunday work to go to church). "By rights" is a catch-all union term, i.e. "by the rights allowed workers in the union contract."

May Day has been dumbed-down by corporate media for my entire lifetime. There are sparks of life here and there. The Wisconsin Green Party has events scheduled in Milwaukee and Madison concerning immigration and boycotts on May 1. That's great. I'll go along with that. Don't buy anything.

The Mayflower descendants (English Protestants mind you), decided around 1700 to allow Catholics, Germans, Danes, Norwegians and more, to settle in America since they couldn't bring slaves from Africa fast enough.

The same mentality exists today. While the Red Neck Republicans continue to hate new immigrants, the Corporate Republicans, the ones with the cash and power, continue to bring more immigrants into the country to have a source of cheap labor. Red Neck Republicans continue to vote for whoever the Corporate Republicans tell them to which perpetuates the curse. (Note that at least 70% of the Democrats in office are corporate controlled.)

In a complete reversal, the party of Abraham Lincoln rather than freeing the slaves, has decided to bring them back under the kinder and gentler name: Guest Workers.

Horseapples. We don't need no half-citizens! Full citizenship in a reasonable amount of time, say 5yrs, should be able to be obtained by anyone professing to be human that resides here.

America was this grand experiment to try attaining a caste-free society, at least in theory. I have more respect for folks who are bilingual than for those who only know English. My grandmother could speak and write in both English and Norwegian. I can't!

Support those Spanish speaking people from Mexico in their quest for citizenship.

A point to ponder...

One hundred years ago in Oshkosh a new church began. It was called "First English Lutheran Church." It began because many of the younger Lutherans of the time couldn't understand services conducted in German. Late June 1907 was the date. Note that Germans had been present in Oshkosh for well over half a century at that point!

Please allow immigrants time to adjust, generations of time.

Let us re-ignite May 1 as a workers holiday, an anti-corporate holiday, a holiday in which we spend no money and work on schemes to take back this country from the corporations.

Start now. Spread the word.

Adios mi Corazon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wages: Private vs. Public Sector

I received comments regarding public sector wages in the face of declining private sector income. A short history is in order.

After WWII (1945) the economy boomed. Unions asked for and received good wages and benefits. The public sector was slow to catch up. In the latter 1960's high school seniors would go to work in the paper mills in the weeks after graduation and immediately be making more than their high school teachers.

Teachers and municipal employees unionized but never did quite catch up.

Over the years private sector jobs began migrating overseas and wages began to drop.

True. In 2007 public sector jobs look good to many in the private sector.

Question: Should public sector jobs pay less with fewer benefits to more closely mirror the private sector?

Answer: No. We should be constantly working to bring private sector wages and benefits up to a living wage.

I don't have the answers to that riddle, but I refuse to dumb-down anyone who has managed to figure out how to pay their bills. I would want to be brought up to that level of pay, not bring them down to mine.

Also. Only nine states in these Untied Skates of America have lower corporate taxes than Wisconsin and still we have companies moving out.

Dick Cheney's buddies at Halliburton, which keep the war machine oiled, just moved their corporate headquarters to Dubai.

How soon will Oshkosh Truck become DUBAI TRUCK?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mayor Frank Tower visits Salvation Army

Hizzonerdamare Frank Tower, who officially became our new mayor yesterday, had lunch and toured the Salvation Army today. It was a cordial visit where the mayor ate lunch in the common dining room and visited and met with many clients who frequent the facility. Captain Johnny Harsh, possibly expecting someone a bit older, was happy to meet Mr. Tower. The Mayor listened carefully to the concerns of the people who wanted to speak to him.

The noise, confusion, and number of people who talked to him in rapid succession may have caused him to lose focus at times, but he was curious about what goes on, genuinely curious. He met quite a cross-section of clients while eating lunch and then was given a tour of the facility by Captain Johnny Harsh.

His visit lasted in excess of an hour and 1/2. I told him I might blog about his visit. He made it clear to me that his visit was not newsworthy. He wanted to learn more about the mission. I applaud him for doing that.

I am sure he learned something today and I thank him for taking the time to do it.

A note to Frank Tower: Rep. Gordon Hintz came to the Salvation Army last Friday and ladled out food at lunchtime. It wasn't a political or photo-op thing for him either.

The people who use the Salvation Army are not likely to vote. A thank you is in order for any elected official who wants to know what is going on with the less fortunate.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Leach Amphitheater, PMI, Waterfest Too

Tony Palmeri did a column on PMI today. You can find it here. He did a good job pointing out what the community isn't getting at the Leach.

I have a twenty year background in live performance. I've played far too many places to even begin mentioning. They include dives, or as my black musician friends say, the chitlin' clubs, small country bars, hotel show lounges, the Madison Club, Maple Bluff Country Club, free-standing supper clubs, and backed up a dancing Root Bear at an A&W, nude dancers at times, Bucky Badger and UW cheerleaders, and for Wisconsin Governors and more. I have worked for very responsible and caring bosses, and for some of the most stubborn drunk bar owners you can imagine. Sorting through those bar owners I have learned what works and what doesn't. Here are some pearls of wisdom. See if they apply to PMI, Waterfest, and to the Leach Amphitheater.

A place which sits dark or is rarely used is not a place where folks are comfortable. A place should hum with activity every possible moment (in season). Mondays and Tuesdays don't make money but are extremely important. That's the time to bring in customers who go elsewhere on the weekends. It is also the time to experiment with other types of entertainment such as fashion shows, juggling competitions, chess competitions, arm wrestling...the list is endless. The Leach can lose money every Monday and Tuesday of the summer, get folks used to and comfortable with the idea of the Leach being the destination, and in the process build up other nights. Careful work in building up allegiance to the Leach will result in people going to the Leach rather than going to the Country Fest, the County Fair, or Sawdust Days. (I am not trying to take away from those things, just trying to prove a point.) One group which is comfortable at the Leach is the age group which attends Waterfest. Waterfest has done a good job just being consistent over the years, consistent meaning Thursdays, saleability of acts, etc. Other age groups need consistent entertainment to bring them into the fold.

Waterfest rates high in my opinion. PMI doesn't and should be replaced. The new vendor should be issued general guidelines which instruct them to open the restrooms and turn on the electricity and lights early in the week for a very low fee, even lower for non-profits. Music events could end by 9-9:30pm and low volume events could run a bit later.

There is no reason why the Leach couldn't be used for daytime activities on Saturday and Sunday at a reasonable fee. Wedding ceremonies, receptions, picnics, even Sunday morning revival meetings. Large tarps would take care of the lack of shade.

I would like to see the day when I overhear this conversation: "Bored? Let's go to the Leach to see what's happening tonight." Or: "Let's run by the Leach for a while before we go where we planned to go."

Volume is a serious problem at the Leach. Musicians and sound engineers are to blame. Waterfest is much louder than it used to be. Musicians have been kicking themselves in the butt for decades by being too loud.

Years ago I had a musician question me on why I was continually being asked to come back to a club to perform. I told him that I was the only one smart enough to turn the P.A. speakers around and face them into the wall.

One night last summer I stood at the entrance of the Hooper Building across from the Leach. I didn't stay there long. The volume hurt my ears. A key sign that hearing is being lost is if your ears hurt. When your ears hurt, immediately begin to distance yourself from the origin of the sound.

Musicians and sound engineers are their own worst enemies. Here are some key points.

Speakers hung high in the air project much further than those at ground level. This should be taken into account in dealing with sound levels at nearby residences. Speakers on or near the ground will do damge to the ears of the people who are too close.

Children whose ears have not matured will suffer some level of permanent hearing loss if they are too close to the stage at the Leach. I highly suspect that pregnant women should stay clear of Waterfest, period! You don't get a second chance with ears.

All this from someone with 20% of normal hearing. My hearing is corrected at this point but you don't want to be where I am. It's no fun.

On lights...

PMI scores at the top on this. They hired Steven Dedow. He and his crew do a fantastic job.

Waterfest continues to hire non-union people for lights. Waterfest should hire Steven Dedow to do it. Steve does it right plus the fact that he lives here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Ann Frisch to Assist Guatemalan Human Rights Workers

Ann Frisch, who recently retired, is doing anything but. Within a week she should be arriving in Guatemala. She will be part of a small team which will give nonviolent support for local human rights workers. This is under the auspices of Nonviolent Peaceforce. Please take a moment to learn more by clicking on that link.

Will she be facing danger? I asked Ann that question. She replied that danger is always present and told me how we, meaning all of us here in Oshkosh and Wisconsin, can help. The answer is to get out the word about her mission. If large numbers of people know, that improves her level of safety. On a personal level, if more folks in Guatemala know that she is unarmed and nonviolent, the better off she is.

Ann will be blogging from Guatemala in real time and I will have it linked to your left. It is titled Ann Frisch's Journal and the address is Ann would like this link available to all. She hopes that all of the local blogs link her site for the next several months. She promised me that she would write a minumum of once a week and more if possible. She hopes to include photos too. Please take it from there Babblemur, Tony, Cheryl...heck I'm not going to list everyone, just link it.

It is my hope that the Northwestern would also link her blog too. It is my understanding that she will be writing some guest columns for them on this very subject.

It doesn't stop there. If you know of a national blog who might be interested, please pass it on. In addition to that please alert Spanish Instructors in the Valley. Some of Ann's columns will be in Spanish and would be great for classroom use.

Did I miss anybody?

If everyone does their job it can only add a bit more safety to her endeavor.

Pass it on. Peace.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Wedding of Note

Helen Lord Burr answered my question. She told me that she had been involved with the Oshkosh Salvation Army for 35 years and didn't recall any weddings being held there. A moment later she clarified that. She told me that when she first became involved, that there was a couple who had been married there, but she didn't know when.

Michele Bernard and Marvin Hildebrand were joined in holy matrimony by Captain Johnny Harsh on Friday March 30, becoming the first couple to do so in over 35 years.

Michele became a full-fledged Soldier in the Salvation Army a while back and also went to work for them as a Social Worker. She has lived in Oshkosh a long time. Marvin grew up about 30 miles from Tulsa, OK. He was living in Milwaukee and also was a Soldier in the Army. Michele and Marvin's life led them to a recent convention of sorts in Madison. They hit it off, Marvin decided to come to Oshkosh, and now they tied the knot.

Captain Johnny Harsh was delighted to do a wedding. He told me: "No more funerals please. Thank God! I'd rather do weddings." Captain Johnny explained to me that a wedding between two Salvation Army Soldiers is very special. It incorporates what is called "The Salvation Army Articles of Marriage." I couldn't put a direct link to it, but it is posted online. It encourages the bride and groom to go above and beyond the normal expectations of marriage.

As one person put: The entire affair was simple and elegant. Nothing more, nothing less. The church was nicely decorated and virtually full. Michele's hair was very very pretty. She was given away by George, long time driver of the Salvation Army truck you see about town. It was a serious affair with hints of humor. Marvin dropped the ring when the ring-bearer handed it to him. Captain Johnny remarked on 'jitters' and 'knees shaking' and when it came Michele's turn with the ring, Captain told her not to drop it.

Following the ceremony CJ's at the Wayside (Ripon) catered the meal. The dining room at the Salvation Army had been transformed for the occasion. The meal included Prime Rib cut to order and Chicken Breasts Cordon Bleu. There was lots of laughter and good natured kidding directed at Michele and Marvin.

The only sour note was that the Army's regular Friday hours ended at 2pm and no regular meal was served. This irritated people who normally come for that.

Captain Johnny Harsh told me that three more weddings are scheduled this year. That's quite a change from years past.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

First Tuesdays at First Congregational

First and foremost exercise your right to VOTE on Tuesday.

A community wide invite comes from First Congregational Church on Algoma. Be there Tuesday at noon for a mini-concert and lunch. The event is absolutely free of charge. Donations are encouraged and discreetly taken but don't let lack of funds stop you from being there.

This month's musical entree is an organ-harp combo. Joanne Peterson is playing the pipe organ and Sarah Thrush plays the harp. Sarah comes from the UWO Music Dept. and you can sneek a look at her background from this web article from seven years ago.

The music is the draw, but there is more! We're talking food today. I will print verbatim the menu from last month's First Tuesday affair...
Aunt Julie's Italian Wedding Soup
Hungarian Cream of Mushroom
Parisienne Flat Bread
Ciabatta Bread
Turkish Sesame Bread
Chocolate Brad
Curry Chicken Salad
Coffee, Punch, and Desserts
Now that's a menu for Soup and Sandwich! The Curry Chicken Salad was served on the side and you could choose from the fresh breads at the table. Desserts included at least seven flavors of cheescake.
The chefs were Susan Heft, Jack Talin, and Chris Laufer accompanied by dozens of volunteers.
When you get up from your computer now and head for the fridge mark Tuesday at noon on your calendar.

Wisconsin DNR Does a 180

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has announced a complete reversal on its 'no camping' policy on the Lower Wisconsin River south of Sauk City in the vicinity of the Mazomanie Bottoms and the Ferry Bluff natural units. Campers will again be welcome under a new program being introduced this year.

Turtle reproduction is the problem. They are not producing enough offspring. The DNR is working hard to find solutions concerning turtle sex.

Enter: Turtles In Transition Society.

The Turtles in Transition Society was formed to assist the DNR in making sure the turtles properly mate. Members of this group will be camping on the sandbars of Mazomanie Bottoms for weeks on end, braving all elements of weather and being away from their families and homes, just to prove a point. Turtles do it in the water. Then they come ashore and deposit their eggs in the sand. Taking a clue from other groups around the world, the paid volunteers will discreetly watch where the turtles deposit their eggs, marking the spot with caution tape. Each of the paid volunteers will be issued infrared night-vision goggles which along with Huber beer and cheap whiskey will keep them focused on the job.

I interviewed Barbara Wolf, who holds the prestigious title of State of Wisconsin, Department of Natural Resources, South Central Regional Warden, and when asked about turtle sex she replied: "Do bears s**t in the woods?"

Spiritual adviser to the group, the Rev. Ralph Ovadal, could not be reached regarding the issue of turtle sex. Ruth Bender remains clueless.


Although this blog originates in Oshkosh it has no ties to the Naturist Society which is headquartered here and never will.

The Turtles In Transition Society is the brainchild of the Friends of Gary (FOG). There are many Garys' and they will all tell you that they would refuse to become a member of any organization that would have them.

If you would like to take part in promoting turtle sex just email me (or any other Gary) and have your checkbook ready.