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“Let the wild rumpus start!”

8:20 am in Art, Culture, Uncategorized by marymccurnin

Maurice Sendak, RIP


Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.
― Maurice Sendak

When my girls were young, I would read “Where the Wild Things Are” to them every night. It never got old. It never got tired. There is an openness to it that makes it timeless and ageless. Mr. Sendak didn’t believe in childhood. He believed in human beings.

I said anything I wanted because I don’t believe in children I don’t believe in childhood. I don’t believe that there’s a demarcation. ‘Oh you mustn’t tell them that. You mustn’t tell them that.’ You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it’s true. If it’s true you tell them.
― Maurice Sendak

I am overcome with nostalgia and sweet melancholy. I remember being a young mother with babes. It was the most profound time of my life. That is, until this year. Both of my babes have or are having their own little ones. And I will most definitely read “Where the Wild Things Are” to my beautiful grandsons.

Here is a video from Bill Moyers interviewing Maurice Sendak.

Rest in Peace and Thank You, Mr. Sendak.

Please don’t go. We’ll eat you up. We love you so.
― Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Here is a video from Bill Moyers interviewing Maurice Sendak:

Hieronymus Bosch General Hospital

8:30 am in Art, Culture, Economy by marymccurnin

Last Thursday I received a call from my daughter. She is four and a half months pregnant and had started spotting. It wasn’t the first time but the worry that it engendered in everyone sent her off to the emergency room at Marin General Hospital. I got in my car and made the trip through the rain and arrived at the hospital around nine in the evening.

I was worried that my daughter was not ok. I pulled the car into the dark, wet parking lot and took five minutes to put my pretend brave face on. I walked into an emergency room that was slammed with patients. A child sat in a chair holding his broken arm. People were scattered around the waiting room in various seating arrangements. Wheelchairs held the weary and broken. There were probably forty people in the place. It was like purgatory. Waiting to be seen. Waiting to go home.

I spied Amy’s boyfriend, Rico. Next to him sat his father. I recognized him from pictures I had seen at the couples apartment. Rico introduced us and we hugged. He seemed like a very nice person. I sat between them and Rico updated me. Amy was in a room behind the “do not enter” double doors being attended to by nurses, doctors, scanners, readers of scans, phlebotomists, and more.

The double doors opened and an attendant wheeled a young man out into the waiting room. He looked tired and had a badly swollen leg. I took the opportunity to slip past them and into the back. I walked down the hall and found Amy in Room 10. As soon as I saw her I felt she and the baby were going to be fine. The first thing I said to her was “You look beautiful”. She smiled and said “Thanks, Mom”. Read the rest of this entry →

I Will Lead.

10:17 am in Art, Economy, Energy, Politics by marymccurnin

I wish I had done it but I didn’t. My friend, Dave Boles, made this for the magazine, Primal Urge. It was just too perfect for this very special thursday when our president will give his speech on JOBS.


11:37 am in Art, banality of evil, Economy, jerks, Politics, Uncategorized by marymccurnin

You can always count on the poets to come through. This is by my friend, Dave Boles.

HOMAGE TO A WORD (for Meri St. Mary)
by Dave Boles

in the 60s one word
became symbolic
of American frustration
with government greed
the corporate
fat cats
were seen as true evil
and the word was pure
one word
four syllables
defined a country
in two
the word had beauty
as it rolled through
the air waves
of large cities
and colleges
bright minds
our mysteries
so began
the cry
that would define
a sad era
so began
the death
of the word


in the 70s the man
who was not
a crook
by his own admission
who became
our president
who had
a vision
to free the stranglehold
that was
spoke the words
in earnest
for the very
first time
though they would be
by all his
corrupt sickness
but the words
were officially
in earnest
by our leaders
in congress
one word
five syllables
would define
a generation
and the word
was pure
as it rolled
off the
of the leaders
of a nation
though the word
was alien
to the people
the workers
but to bankers
and lawyers
it became their new
one word
five syllables
as they introduced
to all
a brand new word
it was


the successor
to the president
who reeked
of evil
the one who
in time
who stumbled
and caused
much political
whose claim to fame
is not much at all
he quietly
secured the passage
of the first real change
that would cripple
a nation
through the media
the bankers
the corporate greed monsters
would begin to tell
a confused
senseless people
that the word was useful
it would increase
their money
as the media
the true nature
and intentions
of a political body
who chanted the mantra
one word
five syllables
of a land set free
by a new rising body
forged of media
who chose politicians
that would heed
their decrees
and the word was
as it rolled
off the tongue
and the word
caught on
by enlightened
as they shared in the


more leaders
would follow
both political
presidents striving
for necessary freedom
to allow our country
to soar
as bright eagle
unencumbered by government
unrestricted by laws
unfettered free trade
especially transportation
how could an eagle
with so many restraints
this became the question
that became the argument
of a media bought off
by their rich
corporate masters
the answer
was simple
a battle cry
it became
one word
five syllables
the word was so easy
the people adapted
they began to believe
and the word it
off of all
peoples tongues
as the word
was pure
as a nation
while bankers
sat smiling
all the while nodding
as a nation began


they rocked through the 80s
overturning decades
of financial progress
in return
for promises
of theories
their simplistic
promises absurd
the media
now green lighted
all carried the message
regulation was terrible
horrible we say
how can there be
a burgeoning economy
with such restraints
plotted against it
with evil regulations
and government control
and the people
all bought it
their color tv’s
delivered them all
to a land filled with promises
while all around them crumbled
but the media
now bought
run by corporate masters
would not show the crumbling
of a nation
and they heightened the cry
for a nationwide
and the nation
it shouted


1976 – Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act

1977 – Emergency Natural Gas Act

1978 – Airline Deregulation Act

1978 – National Gas Policy Act

1980 – Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act

1980 – Motor Carrier Act

1980 – Regulatory Flexibility Act

1980 – Staggers Rail Act

1982 – Garn–St. Germain Depository Institutions Act

1982 – Bus Regulatory Reform Act

1989 – Natural Gas Wellhead Decontrol Act

1992 – National Energy Policy Act

1996 – Telecommunications Act

and the mother of them all
nearly three decades to achieve

1999 – Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

the Financial Services Modernization Act
America had
been set free
and people rejoiced
at their incredible
good fortune
for their cries
had been answered
there had been


academics rejoiced
bankers sat smiling
politicians counted money
people waved the flag
Americans in total
danced oblivious
joyous dances
money was flowing
streets were paved
business was booming
our leaders were hero’s
with all the money flowing
even buses on time running
there was only
one word
for this glorious
one word


then big Ken Lay
and his henchman, Skilling
took all Americans
for a Mr. Toads wild ride
they looted and destroyed
while California lay burning
they brought a once
sound economy
down to its knees
their traders made millions
on an energy shortage
of corporate fabrication
poor Gray Davis
removed by irate peoples
replaced by Ahnold
by Lay, Skilling and Fastow
though J. Clifford Baxter
did the honorable thing
he ate a bullet
to clear his conscious
leaving his blood
as witness
to the corporate greed
of a new generation
that bellowed the words
of a sickness
that run rampant
throughout our great
and the sickness
had a name
it was


world leaders smirked
powerful men chuckled
all major bankers
money people drivers
sat on sideline
without a blink
of one saddened eye
they moved to the next
greed fest crisis
immune from a conscious
Stanley Milgram was right
they plundered as Vikings
our rich
till no more money
was left in their coffers
the banks had run dry
by their own foul submissions
to a culture enraptured
with greed and corruption
all the while shouting
much beating of drums
the evil amongst us
can be cured don’t you see
and politicians shuffled
the media ran snippets
of a utopian world
where all could own housing
and politicians
and bankers
still cried through the media
to a debt weary public


one word
five syllables
it simply rolls
off the tongue
mass people are yelling
brothers turn on themselves
republicans are evil
democrats are dupes
with pointing of fingers
much crisis has risen
and all those rich bankers
with their back pocket politicians
look on from the side line
all the while nodding
much praise do they have
for the fine work evolved
over four long
forty years did it take
an economy they crippled
with the ridiculous
of deregulation
now peoples in ruin
no pension
no money
no jobs
no health care
no food for
their babies
no education
for the masses
unless you have money
you are screwed
as a human
in this
but then out of
the chaos
comes a word
worth repeating
of all oppressed
all of time
it’s a word
of a people
pushed to the brink
of extinction
with nothing to lose
they chant


CA Unions & Others Demonstrate In Support Of WI Protestors @ Capital

2:29 pm in Art, Economy, Politics, Uncategorized, Unions, Wisconsin Demonstrators by marymccurnin

Saturday I went to a demonstration at the capital in Sacramento in support of the Wisconsin Protestors. There were probably a couple of thousand people. Rather than tell you about it I have chosen to post photos.

(more after jump) . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Cultural Expressions Around Death and Dying

12:23 pm in Art, Culture, Politics, Uncategorized by marymccurnin

We live in a culture that does not acknowledge death. We don’t even say someone has died. We say they have passed. Americans aren’t well versed in manners concerning mortality. We live in a fluid society with little history. Why would we expect a memorial service not to become a pep rally? And who is to say that clapping and feeling a sense of community is inappropriate. Look at the day of the dead in Mexico. It uses humor, art and reverence to celebrate the dead. Look at the wake tradition in Irish culture. I have even heard of the dead person being brought to a pub to enjoy his own send off. In New Orleans after a funeral the mourners participate in a second line. This is a jubilant parade back to the relatives’ home where a party ensues. Death is odd, horrible, funny, and inevitable. Value judgements about how people deal with it are counterproductive. When I die I hope my family and friends celebrate my life and have fun because, God knows, I have had an odd, horrible, wonderful and funny life.

Second Line Umbrellas
Day of the Day Imagery
Irish Wakes


The phone rang.
It was the vet’s office.
We still have your kitty in the freezer.
I had been out of town and
a friend took the animal in
to be
The cat had purred all the way to death.
Sick as she was
she was still purring.
Always had been an oblivious feline.
I pictured her curled up
in her deep freeze sleep.
A mere sting.
A small irritation.
Slipped through her soul
the needle had stopped her cold.
Inoculated against life she moved into the next story,
the next poem.

The next day
the phone rang,
We still have your husband’s ashes here.
I had body parts all over town.
I couldn’t picture ashes.
I couldn’t picture my husband.
But I could smell the smoke.

Pets are better remembered than mates.
I know this cause my lover talks often
of his dead dog but not of his exwife.

What we leave. . . . . .
What we leave trails thinly . . . . . . .
What we leave trails thinly after us . . . . . . .like smoke.

My Neighborhood on 9-11

4:28 pm in Art, Culture, Economy, Education, Uncategorized by marymccurnin

My husband and I moved to Rancho Cordova, CA after living the previous 13 years in either Sonoma or Marin Counties. It was like converting from Buddhism to Born Again Christianity. It was unsettling, interesting and I had a lot to learn. Also, it was not long after 9-11 and this made the contrast even more stark. A year or so after the move Dan Lungren became my representative in the House. Scary. The saving grace was the fact that our house is on the American River.

As the years ticked on the neighborhood became more and more gentrified. The strip malls were cleaned up and the funky bars disappeared.

The last of the older residents who had purchased houses when the neighborhood was first built in 1964 began to pass away. Younger more affluent people moved in. The houses where painted Pottery Barn colors and the front doors were modernized. The value of the neighborhood arched up. People had listened well to their faux leader, George II and had roped in their semi-dream homes and had gone shopping.

Now, in a two block radius, I know of five houses in foreclosure. There may be more. The grammar school down the street is closed and all of the teachers have been fired. The green belt behind my house that runs along the American River has no park rangers to protect it. Several nights ago I heard guns shots in the back.

When Obama gave out stimulus money at the beginning of his administration Rancho Cordova fixed the main corridors within the little city’s borders. Now school buses can easily get to schools that no longer exist.

Another recent change is the number of young dads pushing strollers. I suspect they are out of work but their wives are not.

We are moving. Our first choice is Portland. I will miss my neighbors. I will miss the river. I will not miss Dan Lungren.

Below are images I took when we moved to R.C. in March of 2002. None of the houses have flags on them any longer.

Saturday Art: A Selection of Photos From San Rafael

1:35 pm in Art, Culture by marymccurnin

These Heroes Among Us

11:44 am in Art, banality of evil, BP oil disaster, Energy, jerks by marymccurnin

There are many, many people working to either save the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem or trying to get the images and message out about it. We all know that we cannot rely on our own government, MSM or British Petroleum to tell us the truth. The powerful cannot overcome the good. Right now it just seems that way. With photographers like Nick Zantop and Jerry Moran_Native New Orleans Photography and organizations like the American Birding Association and On Wings of Care willing to take risks and get dirty there is hope for the gulf and us.

This post is a small acknowledgement of the efforts of these amazing and diligent folk. Having spent time in Grand Isle, LA and experienced the worst environmental disaster in America’s history I am in awe of their dedication and continued energy.

This is a video of Nick’s photography of Grand Isle.

Graveyard of the Gulf – Grand Isle, Louisiana from Nick Zantop.

Here is an excerpt from Nick’s diary, Black Death, of the BP Tragedy.

The rocks along the pass continued to the north and I followed them. I felt as if I must surely have been somewhere that BP would not want anyone to see, but as an atv zoomed past me heading west its rider waved. With the lone rider past me and not a single soul in front of me, my racing heartbeat began to slow. Before long, my senses were overwhelmed by the unmistakable scent of death. I began to notice bones and bodies on and between the rocks, those of birds and fish. On a large rock, two young seagull chicks were baked into a pile of decaying skin and feathers. They were recent victims, perhaps only dead for a day. A few feet away, the large bones of a brown pelican and its oil stained feathers lay between rocks spotted with oil. Brown pelicans were just taken off the US federal endangered and threatened species list in November of last year. Just beyond the rocks, the beach began to open up, formed by sand that washes through the pass and collects along the rocks. This beach was completely drenched with crude oil and it looked as if a cleanup crew had never set foot there.

Here is a quote from Jerry Moran’s Journal about his travels and experiences with the "spill".

Yesterday is a day I will not forget anytime soon. I took a boat trip to Raccoon Island, which is about 20 miles south of Cocodrie, with a photog friend of mine Andy Levin. While covering the BP Oil Spill, Disaster, whatever they want to call it, from Venice to Fouchon over the past two months I have seen a lot of s…tuff, but nothing really prepared me for what I saw yesterday……..It is my impression that the farther away the oil has hit, the less attention it gets from BP. Raccoon Island is the largest Pelican Rookery in Louisiana, much larger that Queen Bess in Grand Isle or Cat Island. I have never been on the 2 islands in Grand Isle, but have wondered many times what was on them, besides the dead animals you could see from the boom, or the oiled garbage left on the shores by BP. Something else I have noticed at the Grand Isle rookeries on three visits over a 6 week period is that the population of the birds is declining steadily, specifically on my trip last week when a guesstimate would be a 60 to 70 % decline in mostly adults, leaving the young to fend for themselves in the oil and corexit infested waters. Some of my questions were answered yesterday on Racoon island, where death is everywhere and I mean everywhere, even though visible oil is much less an issue, which concerns me greatly. A lot of the birds that weren’t dead, were obviously poisoned, almost acting drunk and dazed. Some were hardly walking, and some were alive, but lying where they will surely expire, some were actually fighting each other for food(surely contaminated)…….It is really hard for me to believe that nothing can be done to curb what is no less than the extermination of our beloved state bird, along with thousands of other birds and animals. There are not many times where I have just stopped shooting and left….yesterday was one of those day’s.

And here are some examples of Jerry’s photography.

Images from The Gulf Coastcopyright 2005-2010

Thanks to all of the people who brave BP and toxins and our government to bring us the facts..

UPDATE from Nick Zantop concerning the work being done by the National Guard on the Gulf Coast.

The guard troops were some of the only people I saw who were consistently putting in 110% to everything.
They have airlifted tens of millions of pounds of sandbags to create a barrier against the oil (unfortunately this isn’t proving to be as effective as hoped, as it seems that oil is still able to slip through many of these areas) and on Grand Isle alone they completed an 8.2 mile long stretch of inflatable, water-filled Tiger Dam to keep oil from migrating farther up the beach. If only everyone else involved was able to move as efficiently as the Guard.