Another Madrigal Feast; Another Madrigal Book

It is time for another edition of the Elizabethan Madrigal Feast at the Brazosport Center for the Arts and Sciences in Clute. Performers are coming in from Angleton, Lake Jackson, Richwood, Freeport, all the communities West of the Brazos and beyond. The performers, stitchers, set designers and builders come from all around.  It is probably too late for tickets but it can’t hurt to try. Online ticketing (if seats are still available) would be here.

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Marc Davis performs in the 2016 Elizabethan Madrigal Feast at the Brazosport Center for the Arts and Sciences. He will be back this year in a Shakespeare role. The young dancer is Summer Hughes.

This is no longer a strictly local event. You have to compete with people from all over the state for your tickets now. Good luck.

And of course, I have put together another book of photographs from the last performance in 2016. You may preview the book here. It is a 13×11 in hard cover edition with quality paper and beautiful color. Check it out. Maybe it would be a nice gift if you know a someone who performed in it. (I do it for the costumer.)

Now, here’s the problem. It’s a little pricey at $95. But all the profits go to the printer (Blurb.com) except for the $5 I add to the printer’s price to help me buy a lens now and then. (The slight surcharge also allows me to know if any of the books are being purchased. Otherwise, I have no idea. I will happily refund you the $5 but you have to look me up in order to collect.)

But, if you attend EMF 2018, you may use one of your raffle tickets to try to score one for a mere $20. Good luck with that, too.

If you are wondering what in the world there is to be thankful for in 2018, take a peek at the Elizabethan Madrigal Feast. If you can’t get a ticket, buy the book.

A friend from Chapelwood reminded me this morning that God still makes beautiful things. I try to take a few pictures and it’s more than I can keep up with. I am always thankful for that. Happy Thanksgiving South-of-Towners.

 

The Press and the Prez

I watched the latter stages of the White House press briefing yesterday. The one some call the leader of the free world appeared in person. He behaved in all the disgusting ways you have come to expect. He is full of hate for everyone except, of course, himself.

The performance for the press corps was much more alarming than it was informative. And, yes, performance is the correct word. I left the experience with renewed disdain for His Worshipfulness. (Thank you Han Solo for allowing me to borrow the appellation and its load of irony.)

I always find it interesting to read The Guardian for a slightly different view than I get in American media. Their writers are often confounded by their spinoff ally that poses as the very model of the modern major democracy. More Americans should read this discussion of the structural elements of our system of representation. I’m not sure that most people really understand how grossly un-representative our system is.

But back to yesterday’s press conference with the president. A Guardian writer reminded me that the American press is like a bag of candy for a demagogue. They have a symbiotic relationship in which a president with no manners co-exists perfectly with a press with no cojones. The Brits see it clearly. Today’s piece in The Guardian by Suzanne Moore makes the case for a press corps walkout. What they were able to deliver to their readers and viewers as their work product yesterday was all reality show and it had little to do with the work of a democratic government. Trump was the star and they were the foil.

Ignore him and let’s get on with the business of governing America. There are taxes to collect, schools, bridges and hospitals to build, people to be educated, a nation to be protected from other countries’ dictators, and, of course, the golden door must remain open and managed for the welfare of both the current citizens and those who seeking asylum. He doesn’t seem interested in any of that business. But I am. And you should be, too.

 

Thank You, Beto

Mimi Swartz in the New York Times  gives some needed perspective to the millions of downhearted Texas Democrats. The country needed his fresh outlook on the job of politicians. It really is a noble profession when practiced with honor and the goal of representing the best interests of the people.

Beto, who almost never wears a coat it seems, had some long coattails in Texas’s urban areas. His candidacy and hard work helped flip several house seats while he was losing his own — a gift to the republic.

And Ed Emmett. Who would have ever guessed that one?

Somebody Stole My Beto Sign

It’s election day in Texas. And true to form, some nighttime stalker from the new Republican Party stole my Beto sign. But I have a printer at home. It’s not quite the same but I was able to keep the distinctive black and white theme, although in smaller letters.

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Homemade Beto sign. He would be proud.

Just for fun, I put a little note inside congratulating the thief for coming back to steal my Beto sign a second time and noting that I was capturing it on my security cam.

Of course I wasn’t making a video. But I keep hearing that we are in a post-truth era. That’s my contribution.

I am writing at 4:42 pm. you still have 2 hours and 17 minutes to vote in Texas.

Bring Back Checks and Balances: GO VOTE and VOTE for DEMOCRATS.

If you have not seen this Washington Post report, you should give it a look before you go to the polls on Tuesday.

The occupant of the Oval Office has told so many lies that the media he loves to malign keeps count of them. His supporters are easy on him as they seem to have as little regard for truth as he does. Demagogues have never done it by themselves. They have always needed willing followers who, for whatever reasons, were just fine with the lies.

According to the Washington Post Fact Checker, they have documented 6,420 false or misleading claims by the president through October 30. And in the month preceding the coming election, his fib rate has gone up to 30 a day.

If this election does not change the balance of power between the executive and congress, he will continue another two and maybe six years completely unbridled. That means he will continue to stir up the worst impulses of his followers.

He personally insults me every time he refers to Democrats as an angry mob intent on opening the borders to criminals and terrorists. It would feel good to engage in a little name-calling but why play his game? I will let him do the name-calling and you can look and listen for yourself.

 

My Camera Captured the S&L Bubble about to Deflate in 1984. Really.

See the savings and loan bubble go down, down, down.
In March, 1984, American Savings and Loan Association did a little promotional activity in Lake Jackson hoping draw a few more depositors. Five years later they were insolvent.

About a year ago I was going through some old family photos and slides picking out a few to scan for a digital collection. This one caught my eye because of its colorful depiction of a nice spring day in Lake Jackson when the local S&L flew a hot air balloon over town. When I saw that they were using the Shy Pond as a take off and landing area, I headed that way with my 35mm camera that was already loaded with Kodachrome, one of the best films ever made.

The photo also caught my eye because it is symbolic of the fate of S&Ls in America that was due to befall them over the next five years. Do you remember the savings and loan bubble and how quickly they fell from their high-flying, money-making ways and deflated for all the world to see? This S&L held the original mortgage on the home we bought in Lake Jackson in 1982. Rates were sky high but due to plunge like the pretty balloon in the picture.

Ours was one of American S&L’s good mortgages at 13%. So, of course, we refinanced it at our first opportunity as did most of their other borrowers. By spring of 1989, just five years later, American Savings and Loan was insolvent and its chairman was being charged with financial misdeeds which earned him a little time in jail.

I remember standing in line to withdraw a CD they were holding for our United Way. The ten per cent yield was a good deal, of course, but I have never trusted high interest rate offers since then. Outliers are sometimes outlying (or maybe out lying?) for a reason that ought to be easy enough to understand: they need your cash more than you need the security and return they are offering. Sometimes the return exceeds the security. It took something called the FSLIC to make that CD good. I’m glad I got there before the FSLIC went under, too.

I wonder who got the hot air balloon in their insolvency settlements?

 

D Day, November 6

Next Tuesday, November 6, 2018, is a crucial day in our history.

The United States Constitution is a masterpiece of Eighteenth Century Enlightenment mechanics. Part of its genius is in the system of checks and balances that protects against the concentration of power in the hands of a single actor or group within the constitutional system.

Different actors are beholden to different electorates and some roles are selected at different times to provide overlapping periods in power. The effects of momentary passions are tamped down through these and a variety of other means. People in different power roles are accountable to different electorates and are chosen at various times to reflect and sometimes neutralize the passions of the day.

Thus, the nation has survived some perilous times and, often, the effects of incompetent leaders.

However, when all three branches of the government come under control of a single party, we have a problem. Assuming an ordinary level of party discipline, the checks and balances are upset and any hegemonic entity – we usually think of the presidency – has relatively unrestricted power to impose its will on the polity.

That brings us to our urgent need to get out and vote on Tuesday, November 6, if you have not already participated through early voting.

The president currently operates without any effective check on his power. Even if you love the man and his leadership, you should hope for a change of power in the Congress so that he will not operate unchecked any longer. While he provides some policy outcomes that some voters prefer, he has many disturbing leadership traits that ought to make any “small d” democrat very uncomfortable.

There is no need to list these traits here. If you read a newspaper at all you are well aware of his anti-democratic behaviors and the terrible example of his amoral leadership. He seems to know next to nothing about our country’s history, our leadership in the world, the ethic of sharing, or the constitution he is sworn to preserve, protect and defend.

Furthermore, the world hangs in balance as he ignores science and commits us to a course that will almost certainly make the planet uninhabitable by human life. Our summers get worse with fires, storms and floods. Each new announcement coming out of climate science seems to confirm that all their earlier alarms were underestimates of the damage already done, its irreversibility and the amount of time left to take action before we hit a final tipping point.

Our job on November 6 is as serious as the job of the allied forces waiting in the English Channel in June, 1944. The labors they undertook and the sacrifices they sustained were profoundly more daunting than anything required of us to go vote next Tuesday. But what we do may be just as important for the future of mankind.

Your vote is a right. It is a responsibility. And this year you need to vote for Democrats at least for the Senate and House of Representatives. For us Lake Jackson folks, that means a vote for Beto O’Rourke and Adrienne Bell. They will be a major part of the constitutional structure that will hold this president accountable. Even better, they are both excellent candidates and people.

And they really will keep the pre-existing conditions requirement of the Affordable Care Act. They were in favor of it before it was cool.