Author: A Southpaw

Welcome to Thoughts of A Southpaw--the place where thoughts and other crazy nothings go down.

Smells Like Citizen Spirit

It means: “true democracy, let’s vote ourselves.” That is, the graffiti. Interesting choice of words, at least I thought so. They stuck out to me, looked particularly brazen. I wonder who wrote it, some somebody willing to stand out in a public space and deface a wall with their latest brain-picking. Despite curiosity, you never figure out who the person is. You get close, and out of a dozen or so lookalikes, there’s bound to be a trackable progress going in enough circles to convince you you’re getting somewhere good.

As most of you have guessed, it’s French. The “L’s” give it away at a first glance, but that it’s so attention-grabbing and straightforward also points to a French origin. It embodies everything I admire in the French people: a stubborn determination to be heard while retaining their cultural elegance. Nobody fights like them, nobody, because nobody’s got near as fierce a spirit. Spirit flows through all of those words splashed across the wall, and it’s important to remember spirit doesn’t emerge of nothing.

A member of the Yellow Vests (gilet jaunes) Movement sprayed the graffiti. You may not have guessed this, but I imagine the majority of readers had a gut feeling. I’ve been meaning to cover these guys for a while, if only because few people are. Last November, they burst into international attention, and the gamut of media churned out story after story on their shocking antics. Public defacements and mass protesting defined them; of course, the coverage was accurate, in parts. I read most of those stories, understanding the plight of the French workers and wishing for their success. Not two or three months later, all American coverage stopped, leaving me to scramble after foreign outlets for any new updates. BBC had its bits and pieces, but the French outlets either neglected to report the events or showcased them through biased perspectives. Unfortunate, yes, but it was not an unexpected action; it happens everywhere, so we have to sometimes seek out objectivity ourselves.

The movement has lasted for over seven months, and it still appears to be going strong. I can’t speak as to the inner climate. I have no idea what the people are experiencing from day to day–and this is perhaps my most important point, I hope the best for all sides. Too often, we lose ourselves to the inevitable tug-of-war ever festering in these kinds of movements. We focus on the aspect of success so much that we forget our own limits in reaching it. It goes either way, the end, settling in comfortable victory or exhausted failure, with no room for a middle ground.

To me, the graffiti represents an attempted middle ground. People will argue and battle; they’ll break ideological codes to ensure they are on the prevailing side before the whole situation resolves itself in forced silence. Not everyone’ll spray out graffiti, but everyone’ll read the message.

One message means more than a million broken noses.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

ID 140302557 © Ymidio | Dreamstime.com

The Beautiful And The Ugly

On any given day, I’d like to say it’s easy to tell who the good and bad guys are. Creating a dividing line is a satisfying feeling, solidifying the creators’ preconceptions and ridding undue stress from wearied minds. Classification of all kinds calms people down, since nobody (NOBODY) enjoys the unclear and unknown. They may get curious–at the most, terror will set in and evolve into hysteria–but you see, so long as there are names for the beautiful and the ugly, there’ll be moderate peace. Whether it stands or falls is another situation entirely, and it is one unanswerable by that eons-long plight. News flash: it’s lasted eons for a reason, so it won’t absolve itself of conflict within the next forty-eight hours. That is, at best, wishful thinking, and at worst, an acknowledgement of something greater than ourselves: time’s withstanding grudge against human intervention.

Good and Evil. We love them. They taste so nice on our tongues, four sy-l-l-ables capturing the respective epitomes of their concepts; oh yes that is GOOD and those are undeniably EVIL just look at the symbols and words and intentions my my how outrageous! We might as well be loading people and objects into duct-tape labeled, grape juice stained Kindergarten cubbies without a single regard for examination. Words supplanted by bigger words supplanted by bigger words. Then we wonder–we wonder, ‘oh, gee, why are they overflowing? are-are, they are–they’re switching places! how dare they!’

Make larger cubbies, say the pinstriped suit-wearing dude lurking outside the window, who, as a matter of fact, has never entered the classroom.

Cubbies are ordered, sir, say some rag-tag maintenance group no one recognizes–and hell, folks, these guys don’t even recognize Mr. Pinstriped Suit, but that doesn’t stop others from carrying out orders.

Cubbies come in, glorious tidings and champagne bottles for the people old enough to drink. There’s new labels, too, because after several millennium, the letters somehow lost their shine. They gleam in sunlight and blanket themselves at night. Reading them accrues no worth anyhow.

Cubbies are in, sir, and it’s a recorder looping an affirmation. Somebody shoved a box of chocolates beneath it.

Mr. Pinstriped Suit is gone. Some blue birdies are eating spilt seed on the windowsill. They make an incredible noise.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

ID 21632081 © Brad Calkins | Dreamstime.com

A Letter To Washington

On March 28th, 2019, Will Boswell, a sophomore at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, wrote a letter to the late American president, George Washington. His letter aimed to detail current changes in American society, as well as to compare these changes and their effects to Washington’s original vision for America. 

Dear President Washington, 

My name is Will Boswell, and I hope this letter reaches you well.

I’m an American citizen, and that should mean quite a lot to you. Let me add that it is 2019, and I am an American citizen. Despite previous attempts by the British to regain their colonies, we have prevailed, and oh, we’re friends with them now. We’re friends with most of the world, and as a matter of fact, we assist them with their many problems. Some have called us the ‘World Police,’ and the label’s not far off from the truth. That may surprise you, so I’ll throw in another surprise: the United States of America is a world ‘superpower,’ much like the British Empire.

You’re brimming with questions, I understand, but I think you should know I’m only nineteen. I know a bit about some things, but on others, I know too little. America isn’t as open to public knowledge as it used to be; we’ve become more secretive in our practices. In a way, it’s both necessary and frightening. What many see as governmental overreach is interpreted by others as necessary to preserving our liberties. Put simply, this is no small country, as you originally created it; in fact, as expressed before, it is a large superpower, this status coming with numerous foundational changes.

One of the largest changes, to you, may be that in 2008, we elected our first black president, Barack Obama, signaling an incredible alteration of the American perception toward minority citizens. Diversity has come a long way in our country—and what comes to mind are such watershed moments as the 1917 Women’s Suffrage Movement and the abolition of slavery in 1865. Our fourteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, abolished it by way of the Constitution, and this, among other reasons, caused his assassination. It was an unfortunate end to a true American patriot, a man I’m sure you would have greatly respected.

There’s too much to explain in so short a time, so I’ll get to my main points. Mr. President, America has changed. You can interpret that however you want to, and I hope you’ll understand my saying on some days that I feel as if no one listened to you. Due to your slave-holding past, many  American citizens elect to listen to neither you nor your compatriots. You are all a part of a racist past, and while I acknowledge it as wrong, I also believe it’s important to separate the different qualities of a person before judging them according to the values of the time. I mean no disrespect to you, sir, grateful for what you did for this country, but our country’s values, along with our perception of historical figures, have changed—and they have changed for the better.

Aside from this small unification, our country is more divided than ever before. Politics has grown even more distasteful, neither side particularly appealing to the American public. Domestic terrorists have brought the battlefield to our schools and churches, concerts and clubs, gunning down innocent civilians for reasons we can hardly comprehend. As I write this, another shooting has occurred in which four people have been shot, one of them dead, at a synagogue of all places. The American public itself fights over the pettiest issues and at times, it’s as though we can’t compromise on any one thing.

This must hurt you to hear these things, but as you well know, no nation is without its battles. Of these problems, some may become trivial in the future, and some may linger on, challenging new generations to rediscover the national principles forgotten by previous ones. I feel that’s the story of America: a nation where values are constantly taken up and put down, new ones intervening on behalf of the ever-insistent vox populi striving after the solutions and meanings that, though not always the best, are the right ones for the time. It is that America you fought for, and it is that America we will continue to fight for, so long as we have a reason to.

 The United States has come a long way in over two hundred years. I live in the twenty-first century, and I am a college student at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. I’ve witnessed hundreds of changes in my short lifetime, looking to create a few myself, and more are taking place minute by minute. I am astounded at the amount of ways society shifts, and people surprise. 

With our Founding Fathers, a nation awoke, and without them, a nation perseveres. It is not for me to say where our focus will shift next, but I can hope it is in a good direction. We can survive anything that is thrown at us, rest assured of that.

May you rest in peace.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

ID 11695975 © Christian De Grandmaison | Dreamstime.com

This, Our Grand Establishment.

Oh, man, how about this world? have I told you, or have I not? Funny place, to be honest: I’ve never encountered more humor in so small a frame. Maybe it’s a large one, medium-sized, and maybe these things differ with seasoned years [ha, as if we’re sirloin steaks sitting out on the stove!] Perspective enlarges and minimizes, objective actions without any moral obligations–ahem, to be frank: “neither good nor bad has any proper proper standing in this, our grand establishment, world of wonder and woe.

Take a load off, people say, and you do, then they tell to you take off another one. Ludicrous notions, and it is hereby proclaimed, “how dare the usual strangers submit outrageous propositions within so close a proximity!” Ugh, said the pack-mule before trudging off into realistic delirium where supposedly his cousin, Camel, was doing a photo shoot for a cigarette company. The smarminess of the guy, thinks he’s got skill, talent, know-how, who-what.

If we took half of the world, then, and dragged a scimitar through it, would it spew confetti? Millions believe so, and millions are not wrong–millions are never wrong. Millions walk dogs at sunrise. Millions drink orange juice on trampolines. Millions work in workplaces situated in the work-buildings of Work-a-ton. Millions–ope, no, dozens…Nevermind. The list is blank, and the sun has just mooned us for the fiftieth time today. Turn to page fifty-four for a concise summary accompanied by bright ’50s era sketches designed by an underground hermit named Garth–[say hi, Garth].

At least it’s not falling apart and tearing at the seams and going down the crapper and swimming [swimming?] without a paddle. At least all of the dogs are fine; they’re always so pleasant. As a matter of fact, in recent years, studies have shown, things are supposed to be–whoah, did you see that whale skateboarding?

Think daily,

A Southpaw

An Antidote For Myopia

From time to time, I wonder why I see so many flags flying in the streets. Neighborhoods, institutions, shopping malls; all of them have at least one flag flapping on a pole–if it’s a location for social gatherings, it’ll have another one placed distinctly on a wall, or on another, smaller pole close to the ceiling. People notice them in that familiar manner so especial to drive-by landmarks and panhandlers, considering them for a moment before proceeding on with life. It’s no biggie. It’s a flag. It’s the flag hoisted above them so repeatedly it has little significance other than as “The Object Particular To This Here Pole.” There’s no blame to pass around for the dismissive attitude, as it’s the expected attitude. To think otherwise is to refuse observational surrender, not letting the flag be a symbol unique in its repeated mental onslaught: a national reminder.

Forgetfulness always arrives unwanted, the houseguest to which somebody neglects to not pass an invitation. We wander through life, dreading it and preparing ourselves for its eventual appearance on our doorstep. A slovenly figure, it plops on the porch, trench hat muddied and strode upon by the more abusive few; it has nothing to tell us, as it turns out, and apologizes for any undue intrusion into our “well-off” [spoken in a low murmur] lives. It leaves, and despite the sun’s summer preference, it gives way to hard rain, and forgetfulness raises the face we never see and lets [he lets it] the drops stream across whatever features dare settle into that mystery. Every time, it breaks us–the pain, that is, so sorrowful, and we feel ashamed for not offering a drink, a place to rest. The figure is familiar; we do know him, after all, but for one reason or another, we cannot remember his name.

We succumb to absent-mindedness. Despite our safeguards, we never expect the unexpected: a paradox in itself, as if we daily battle the inevitable. Wandering leads to intrigue and nostalgia, yet it also falls prey to soreness and fatigue. Exhaustion besets the best of us, and we sleep on our feet, still moving, still seeing. Objects are blurs, concepts even more abstract than before. At a time, we fought and found and lived; now all we do is flounder. We are for the world’s taking, its curiosities our binding chains.

We walk and walk and walk some more on roads tarred in tears. Our stride grows lanky, made up of the antique movements inner clockwork deems sufficient ’till breakage–and it emerges without a whistle, gears a-busting, spindles spun to sputters, the clock-face punched out of its trappings and clapping a cold floor. Destruction. Nothing else remains in our minds. Near dark, close to oblivion, yet from out of the spiritual withdrawal flutters a flag, colorful and grand. It beckons us, and we remember.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Third Anniversary [Wow, Three? I Mean…] And Other Splendid Subjects

It doesn’t feel like three years; I’ll say that outright. More and more, whenever I have a birthday, I feel I haven’t been a certain age for a long enough time. That’s no nostalgic woe, just an observation as life passes at an increasingly faster pace. This feeling’s much the same with the blog, since I can look at post after post and recognize my age’s influence on my writing. Eighteen’s a hell of a drug. It’s also one number among a million others, and despite the cultural insistence on its (and others’) significance, it only defines so much in the world.

When we celebrate anniversaries, we celebrate the numbers, to an extent. They’re the cutesy toppers we shove in the double-decker cake, and we’ll say, “oh, hey, love the plastic thingamajig–real lively” before reaching over them to take a paper plate off the stack. The cake, on the other hand, is a glorious invention we cannot stop admiring, mainly because we’re hungry, but also because we acknowledge its crucial presence. There is no anniversary without a cake, the crux of the entire celebration: everything revolves around its assumption of induced delight. Plates heave under its weight, and eyes crinkle at its sight, or rather the imagined sight. Everybody has preferences, but they all agree on what constitutes a proper cake, the ingredients involved, etc. The cake unites them in celebration of its existence.

Put in perspective, three years is a short amount of time, then you look closer and see how much can happen in a single year, and it’s a surprise, to say the least. A life can change in a day, so in comparison, a year’s got a bit more leg room.

People still don’t celebrate for their sake, mainly because toppers aren’t edible, but also because they’re not cake. If we did celebrate the numbers, we’d have specific holidays for them, and aside from May the Fourth, there’s not many to choose from. We celebrate the cake, a variable anybody determines. This memory or that, a shoe, or most importantly, an essence: how we feel about the cake.

I’m exuberant about the anniversary, think it’s fantastic. Therein lies my essence. Like any imagined concept, it varies from person to person. You might share my enthusiasm, and you might not. That is your cake, and depending on its kind, you may or may not be able to eat it.

Celebrations are never identical, either, so what else is there to say? are we supposed to bring out a bouncy house and jump ’till it deflates? pinatas, the way of the future? am I asking too many questions for my own good?

At the least, we should accept a transition from one moment to the next, and the continuance of its original incarnation. In that sense, the cake pales in comparison to longevity and its authenticity. We always count the years in hopes that there’ll be more to come.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

an obligatory post about gun(S)

Talking points: x, a, b, r^3, 4orty 6ixty [important, eh?] and the choir goes, hey!

“As required by the blog-o-sphere rules, and what all, certain opinions must come to light within certain years,” Policy #4435, Pg. 340, Par. 3, Line .01. Blogging, As A Lifestyle, Edition 3, Vol. 1.

I’m here to talk, to talk about guns–oh, it’s time for the definitive argument, as put forth by the most official source in the world. So, to begin, modern times are rife with danger

of course danger is subjective but were all friends here and someones gotta say it right

uh here’s a picture of where we hope to be in six years:

[Insert well-charted map of policies and misc.]

well ok but how about red flag laws and and g_u_n_s?

nothings more important to me but lemme quickly give a personal anecdote

so

once upon a time i met this guy who claimed to know where the world was going in five years i got interested and i listened to him like anyone would because he was dressed in snazzy clothes and spoke in a highfalutin accent and he started off fantastic but as all things go he didnt have anything too interesting to add to the conversation the end

so

thats the general gist and now actions will take place which I unfortunately have no influence upon however as all things go i wont belabor the point too much

Think daily,

A Southpaw

R.I.P Freedom of Speech.

This is a sad story. It’s not sad in a bittersweet, melancholy sense; it’s a tragedy in the making, Shakespearean platitudes abound. We’ve not reached the ending, and I doubt we’re halfway through the plot. Here is the beginning of something gravely upsetting, the Death of Freedom of Speech.

This just in, optimists claim the world is perfect, and the rest of us skim over the headline and sip our coffee. Television’s a mockery of itself, the once bold horizon pressed flat against its blank, unchanging face. The teacher is no more than a microphone to amplify the safe stuff, the okay stuff, and all the students doze off to repetitive drones.

I don’t get out much, bit of a hermit. The world comes to me through media: vast blocs of interrelated events, actions, and contradictions. Sometimes I watch to know what’s going on, and sometimes I refuse to let myself be propagandized. It depends on my mood. CNN, CBS, FOX, ABC; I’ve seen the lot of them, surprised at how, in the scope of things, little a role they play in this tragedy. Media doesn’t create our darkest visions–it merely reinforces them. They encompass a large portion of the story, don’t get me wrong, but one right hasn’t the jurisdiction to restrict another. Both toe a line disintegrating before our eyes, and despite the media’s notoriety, there’s time for their story later.

Freedom of speech is defined as “the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint.” Well, now, have we not a consistent, time-honored tradition of censoring the strange and unorthodox perspectives? A rhetorical question, hope you caught it. As for restraint, no examples should be necessary, but I’ll oblige: any opinion contrary to the widely held popular beliefs. These days, we call it, ‘the wrong side of history,’ or ‘hate speech,’ and I want to expand on the last term. Hate speech has come into the limelight recently, only because we feel we need to redefine it, and through redefinition reach restriction. Although it’s not as simple in practice, in theory, we take the phrase ‘hate speech,’ remove ‘hate,’ and examine it as such. It’s what rights guarantee. It’s what rights protect. It’s what rights allow.

If to speak freely is to speak without constraint, then regular discourse is in a state of perpetual imprisonment.

We claim to be for all rights, save when those rights infringe upon our strongly held beliefs. That conviction is both our greatest strength and weakness, as it builds our character, yet often builds it too high. Online, we view ourselves as Judge, Jury, and Executioner, engaging in Internet trials too aggressive to be practiced in actual society, too artificial to fit anything but the digital world.

We’re far from perfect people, and we desperately attempt to attain perfection through trial-and-error. Some things work out, and others have unfortunate outcomes. ‘It’s the way the world goes’, say the pessimists, but when the world goes one way, we should, by all means, go the other.

This is a sad story. This is a tragedy. This does not have to be the end.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

A Tale Without An Ending

It’s starting to look as though the 2019 Government Shutdown may become the longest in American history, two days away from surpassing the Clinton Administration’s 1995-96 Shutdown. This gives rise to two interpretive facts: one, the stakes on which it rests are monumental in our modern context, and two, this Shutdown may or may not be a satisfying conclusion to a conflict–and an overall story–so raucous on its onset.

Rewind to 2018, back to the beginning where the immigration issue, crisis, whatever you want to call it, hit the fan when multiple migrant caravans began making their way towards Mexico and the United States. Due to many factors, among them the Midterm Elections, it became a largely covered story spanning several weeks. These caravans dispersed, many participants, I believe, settling in Mexico, their government offering asylum, and others coming to the U.S-Mexico Border. Many entanglements occurred, a few of a violent nature the U.S media covered assiduously–and as soon as the Midterm Elections had ended, the caravan stories were dropped as fast as they’d appeared.

Large stakes, widely reported, yet something felt incomplete. In a story format, there’d been an abrupt beginning, a rousing middle, but it had no resolution. The conflict was apparently simple. An assemblage of migrants had left their countries in an attempt to gain access to better conditions in Mexico and the United States, and they’d not chosen to do so through legal ports of entry. It featured key players (main characters), and it threw in some moral questions for citizens to ponder as they went about their lives. A tale without an ending: no going full-circle, and hardly a cute “The End,” or “Fin.”

Things went relatively silent from thereon, and by things, I’m referring to the immigration news. Although, admittedly, the media never relinquished its hold over those stories and kept them undercover in case of future relevance. They released sizable chunks every other week, but as Kenny Rogers said, “you gotta know when to hold ’em.” The conflict died down, the story itself settling into an awkward lump on the floor of General American Reception, (G.A.R), the Twitter megaphone no longer a valid mouthpiece.

Onward to 2019, then, and we have in our grasps an almost tangible ending, at least we believe we do. If we’re following the classic style, every story needs an ending, but say we look through a journalist’s lenses and pick up their pen, then it’s a universal fact not all of those stories have endings. For that matter, those existing aren’t happy ones. Through a series of inevitable arguments and debates, a Lady Justice encounter transpires, and we’re tasked to ask ourselves whether it’s far more right or wrong to snatch at the fastest available ending and label it under increasingly complex synonyms for “happy” and “sad.”

We know how the Clinton Shutdown ended, but that doesn’t mean we know how the Trump Shutdown will end. A great quality of stories (traditional ones, that is) is their finite answers to proposed questions. Ambiguity has little place in the world of fables and fairytales, a sharp knock to reality. What’s not often so praised in those categories is the desire to explore, to innovate, look beyond the printed words; and I suppose what this whole situation comes down to is the question of whether we want to close this storybook once and for all, or leave one sentence unwritten and return to it when the inspiration again strikes us.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Pynchon Photographed

Starting to read some Pynchon, that’s new. I’m attempting Gravity’s Rainbow, that notoriously complex Post-Modern tome. It’d be real cool to meet the guy–Thomas Pynchon, that is, though he’s the reclusive equivalent of two Salingers.

You ever seen his picture?

It’s strangely iconic, since, for one, not many authors’ photos are iconic; I am, of course, excluding Poe, Twain, Hemingway, and Faulkner from that category. Pynchon’s got a sallowly narrow face, and the photo gives it these rugged contortions (grains, black-and-white specks) that have no bearing on his sharp gaze, the kind looking across lands and oceans from an at-first-glance stagnant P.O.V.. The Academic in full, albeit noticeably coordinated, exposure. He’s the P.M God chugging along an intellectual legacy with as many bumps in its cruise control as there are abrupt dips giving rise to its lengthy leaps. A lapel’s barely visible in the frame, but it’s enough to solidify his title and open imaginative capabilities as to whether he’s rocking elbow patches or chalk dust. Harvard or Cambridge, those locales rumble through the mind and have no business there. Neither of them. More like Cornell U. Something about the picture’s content/context; it makes you want to jump to the uppermost ranking, top of the charts of those charts. Pynchon. Winner of the National Book Award. It should fit together, Ivy League and literary achievement. At least, those are the connotations I’m faced with, wonder about yours–and wouldn’t you know it, but connotations aren’t more than rigidly set opinions set forth by categorical majorities more or less agreeing on stereotypes.

I’m doing that. So are you. We’re both participating.

Should be a good book, Gravity’s Rainbow. I haven’t started, but it’s next on my list. I’ll get around to it, after I’m done examining his photo.

Think daily,

A Southpaw