Unheard of Music: Concrete Blonde Doing Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows"

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you've been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you've been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that its now or never
Everybody knows that its me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you've done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old black joes still pickin cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the plague is coming
Everybody knows that its moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you're in trouble
Everybody knows what you've been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows its coming apart
Take one last look at this sacred heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Commonplace Book: Quotations, January 2009

In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
– Albert Camus

Jimmy Olsen=me. And we all have signal watches
-- unidentified comic fan, watching the inauguration

Friendships, like marriages, are dependent on avoiding the unforgivable.
— John D. MacDonald

It may dash your hopes for that nice warm feeling called Schadenfreude, but the Masters of the Universe are smarter than the people they left behind at the investment banks. Their hedge funds have blown up here and there, but unlike the investment banks, they are still very much in business. They have hurriedly pulled themselves into defensive positions inside their shells, like turtles. Their Armageddon, if any, will not come for two more days, which is to say, Tuesday, Sept. 30. Most hedge funds open up a crack on Sept. 30, Dec. 31, March 31 and June 30 to give investors the chance to “redeem” their investments, meaning take their money out.
-- Tom Wolfe

Bill Clinton is brooding in his hotel suite at Brown Palace Hotel, like the outcast Grendel lurking on the outskirts of the town where young Beowulf lived.
-- Maureem Dowd

“In this issue, Hellboy bashes in a Hillbilly Devil’s face with a consecrated shovel. Goddamn I love comic books.”
-- Chris Sims

"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."
- Emile Zola

“One could argue that the key Al Qaeda training for 9/11 occurred not in the Taliban’s Afghanistan but in Jeb Bush’s Florida. And in terms of terrorist planning, 9/11 would have been better avoided with an occupation of Hamburg, where most of the essential plotting for the attack occurred.”
-- Bartle Breese Bull, NY Times


“There go the people. I must follow them. I am their leader.”
-- Alexandre Ledru-Rollin, 1848

Depression and schizophrenia are diseases that distort reality, and cause great suffering in the process. Depression is a great liar. You are not a failure. You are not worthless. You are not unloved. You have been happy in the past, though you can’t remember it, and you will be happy in the future, though you cannot remember it.

-- Dick Cavett

“I think we’ve remained fixed on 1968 because it feels like where we missed our turn and went down the wrong road… And on some level, I think we blamed everything that went bad after that on those two deaths. Just before he was assassinated, Bobby Kennedy was asked when he thought the country would be ready to elect a black president. He said, “Forty years. 2008.” RFK was right on the nose. Barack Obama is not Martin Luther King, and he’s not Bobby Kennedy, but you’d have to be emotionally tone-deaf to miss the fact that he reminds boomers of both of those fallen leaders. That had to be part of the reason that this election created such elation in the population. It felt as if we were going back to that missed turn, and starting down the right road at last.

-- Bill Flanagan, CBS Sunday Morning

Unheard of Music: Yoko Kanno

Yoko Kanno with her big band in a live performance of "Tank", a sound that, without fear or favor, truly kicks ASS and TAKES NAMES. If you aren't moving around to this, I don't think I want to know you:

Yoko Kanno is a Japanese composer and leader of "The Seatbelts", a jazz band/pick up orchestra. She found the usual paths closed to her, so she made a name writing soundtracks for animation, much as Ennio Morricone elevated Westerns.

Kanno must have worked every type of jazz, funk, blues, even shamanic chants and lullabies into my favorite, Cowboy Bebop. What amazes me is how authentic it sounds, even with her goofy habit of mixing Japanese with English and sometimes Russian lyrics. If you'd told me I'd be singing along phonetically-- and feeling-- to a Japanese blues... (the title refers to Howling Wolf's first album, The Real Folk Blues)

"The Real Folk Blues" by Yoko Kanno
Aishiteta to nageku ni wa
Amari ni mo toki wa sugi te shimatta
Mada kokoro no hokorobi o
Iyasenumama kaze ga fuiteru
(It's too late to cry I love you.
The wind still blowing, my heart still aching)

Hitotsu no me de asu o mite
Hitotsu no me de kinou mitsumeteru
Kimi no ai no yurikagode
Mo ichido yasurakani nemuretara
(One side of my eyes see tomorrow,
And the other one see yesterday
I hope I could sleep in the cradle of your love, again)

Kawaita hitomi de dareka na itekure
(Somebody cry for me, with dry eyes)
The real folk blues!
Honto no kanashimi ga shiritaidake
Doro no kawa ni sukatta jinsei mo warukuwanai
Ichido kiri de owarunara
(The real folk blues:
I just want to feel real sorrow
It's not so bad a life, sitting in muddy water
If life is only lived once)

Kibou ni michita zetsuboto
Wanagashikakerareteru kono chansu
Nani ga yoku te warui no ka
Koin no omoi to kuramitaita

(Hopeless hope, every chance becomes a trap
What is right, or wrong
It's like both sides of a coin)

Dore dake ikireba iyasareru no darou
(How long I must live till I'm set free?)
The real folk blues
Honto no yorokobi ga shiritai dake
Hikaru mono no subete ga ougen to wa kagiranai
(The real folk blues
I just want to feel pleasure that's real
All that glitters is not gold)

This is a scene from the penultimate episode of Cowboy Bebop. Faye Valentine draws the outline of her childhood bedroom in the ruins of a devastated Earth. Radical Edward, the child savant known as "Ed" leaves the ship, alone-- and Ein, a genetically enhanced, hyper-intelligent corgi, decides that Ed needs him more than the others do.

Here she tries her hand at ska, "Bad Dog No Biscuit":

Or fooling around with standards on solo piano ("How Long Has This Been Going On" at the beginning and "Rhapsody in Blue" at the end and I don't know what in the middle):

One more favorite: wringing emotion out of techno music on "Inner Universe", with lyrics in Russian, English and Latin for Ghost in the Shell.

I didn't even know techno could contain so much emotion. I love this woman.

Follow the Shoe: Will Bush Ever Stand Trial in the People's Court?

Is anyone else worried about what's happened to Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the shoe-throwing journalist still in "detention" in Iraq? This is, after all, the land where habeas corpus went to die, and no one's seen or heard from him other than second-hand reports from his brother in the week before Christmas. We don't really know what "detention" means to the people holding the keys. We don't know if he "tripped and fell down the stairs" or if his arm really was broken in the arrest. The New York Times itself can't make up it's mind whether he's been tortured by the cops or handled with kid gloves because the Whole World is Watching.

Funny how a government that can't keep the electricity running found a definition for his crime with record efficiency: "aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit... an offense that carries a prison term of between five and 15 years under Iraqi law, for throwing his shoes at Bush on December 14."

His lawyers might make a case for diminished capacity, PTSD, (Al-Zaidi has been covering the widows and orphans of Iraq, been kidnapped once and arrested twice) but that would erase the meaning of al-Zaidi's quixotic gesture, like that killer last line of Mark Twain's "The War Prayer": "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." What I'm hoping for is five years minus time served, compensation if he has indeed been abused while in detention-- and a guarantee of a free pair of custom-made shoes for life. If he ever visits Kalamazoo, his money's no good here. This heartfelt anger was political theater that turned the propaganda of professionals, their jet planes and "Mission Accomplished" signs, into tinkling brass.

I love the man. "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog! This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq!" What most commentators have missed is that technology has made our leaders as remote from any consequence of their actions as any ancient autocrat. Somebody (I thought it was Bertrand Russell, but I can't find the quote) said of Khruschev and Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis: "If they say 'live', we shall live; if they say 'die', we shall die." This is an unhappy thought for a culture that can grant an utter fool the power of a god, and puts our entire species at the whim of distant torturers. Predator planes, satellite spies, the NSA's erosion of privacy and the Army's research into robot soldiers are become so commonplace that this power to murder and ruin is now in a hundred hands instead of a few. Who would begrudge a man who has seen too many dead children the throwing of a shoe?

"Now the movements of nations have become like a huge slow solemn dance of the elephants, random power swaying in unpredictable directions, their movements obscured by a stifling rain of paper, pastel forms in octuplicate, programmed tapes, punch cards. Through this low rain, in the shadowy patterns of the dance, scurry a half a billion bureaucrats, each squealing self-important orders. Beneath the wrinkled gray legs, ten thousand generals squat, playing with their war game toys. The billions of mankind sit in the huge gloomy reaches of the stands, staring without comprehension... and because tension and waiting can only be sustained so long, they can make their own little games and charades in the stands, the charades of art, sex, money, power and random murder."
-- John D. MacDonald, A Deadly Shade of Gold.

Mr. al-Zaidi appears to have been a gentle soul who specialized in human interest stories about widows and orphans. The popinjay he targeted is responsible for three times as many innocent deaths as were killed on 9/11, spent money that would make a Nero or Caligula blush-- and still professes not to know what the fuss was about. That he is insulated from shame is no surprise; I've never seen a crime that a Bush couldn't wriggle out from under, from banking for Nazis to drug running by the Contras to... Good luck pinning one down with the sword of Justice; they must be covered in protective slime like a catfish.

Will there, should there be, a commission to investigate crimes committed by the Bush administration? President Obama is playing his cards close to the chest, and too many members of Congress are guilty of aiding and abetting. You won't see an American standing trial in the Hague as long as Kissinger's still alive, but an independent "truth commission", like the ones in South Africa, might be nice.

When frothing near the ceiling about seeing the whole crew in leg irons, I have to keep reminding my friends that incompetence isn't punishable by law. They remind me that George Bush left so many fires burning in his wake, it could be years before anyone got around to pursuing the firebug. This in itself is a kind of brilliance, like those beasts that escape their pursuers by defecating. Someday, perhaps, with the wheels of Justice grinding very slow, but exceedingly small.

I Ain't Seen the Like Since...

I didn't realize just how happy I was until I arrived at my friends' house and opened that first Guinness, with Rachel Maddow and the BBC interviewing survivors of the Little Rock Nine, and the joint realization that this is the first time in my lifetime that the guy I wanted to be president actually won. Sure, I voted for Clinton (Damn Near Republican) and went door-to-door for whoever was running against the Shrub, but this time...

Working with schoolchildren all day, with the inauguration on in the background, one tries to be a voice of moderation, explaining the process, asking leading questions, supplying the humorous anecdote: Andrew Johnson showing up drunk for his inauguration, William Henry Harrison (the Indian killer) literally talking himself to death by droning on for two hours in an icy rain. But children, for all their enthusiasm, don't get it. Being but strangers to this world, they recognize that it's "important", but they can't be expected to understand that there's anything unusual about today's events. If this day was going to be truly savored, it needed to be shared with adult friends.

The gore-crow of the Bush administration has finally taken its beak from out my heart. Complete sentences were spoken. Thomas Paine was quoted. The King James Bible was invoked. The wicked were politely admonished. My favorite was the benediction by the Reverend Joseph Lowery (co-founder of the SCLC with M.L. King) who with a twinkle in his eye, went beyond the lyrics of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" to end with a paraphrase of the bluesman Big Bill Broonzy:

But it wasn't just about seeing John Lewis and wondering what was going on in his scarred head, or seeing the cover painting of The Nation and tearing up when I realized that was Emmett Till and the four little girls killed in Birmingham standing on the podium with Obama. When Pat said there was a weight off her shoulders, I recognized there was a childlike element to my happiness; it felt like... when I was 10 or 11 years old... like that moment in Amazing Spider-Man #33...

"Three Fancies from the Infernal Garden" by Claire Cooney

"Three Fancies from the Infernal Garden", a short story by my friend Claire Cooney, can be read online in the Winter 2009 issue of Subterranean magazine.
One of the things I love about Claire's poetry (and here, her stories) is that they look like smiling candied apples until you get up close enough to bite into one and you find them biting back. Here she plays around with figures from Russian fairy tales-- there's a firebird, and the witch Baba Yaga, and people called Ivan.
Claire is a fellow member of the Twilight Tales writers' group in Chicago, a survivor of Saratoga Springs and the Battle of the Black Gate, grande dame in training and one of the booksellers who brought the late lamented Kate the Great's Book Emporium to life. And if you live in Chicago, you should definitely track down Katie and Claire's other ventures such as Top Shelf Books in Palatine, with its open mic on Thursdays-- and attend Twilight Tales (at the Mystic Celt until the Red Lion finishes remodeling) the next time Claire is reading. I would adopt her if it wouldn't cause talk, Claire being too tall for me to explain as a Third World orphan.

Death of a Ladies' Man

Louis Armstrong was a fan of Guy Lombardo, for reasons that passeth understanding-- but there was an elderly producer who said one of the most profound things he learned was that professional musicians have much wider tastes than their fans.
Most of my friends have open ears-- Pat Relf pushed Danger Mouse and Gnarls Barkley on me, her daughters found Louis Jordan before I did, I keep nudghing them about the composer Yoko Kanno... Still, I've resolved to post more music this year, if only to shake my more calcitrant friends-- the ones with mullets and restored Barracudas-- loose from the music they're used to.

Ah the man she wanted all her life was hanging by a thread
"I never even knew how much I wanted you," she said.
His muscles they were numbered and his style was obsolete.
"O baby, I have come too late." She knelt beside his feet.
"I'll never see a face like yours in years of men to come
I'll never see such arms again in wrestling or in love."
And all his virtues burning in the smoky Holocaust
She took unto herself most everything her lover lost
Now the master of this landscape he was standing at the view
with a sparrow of St. Francis that he was preaching to...

Now you might think I'd start with my own version of musical comfort food, Fats Waller or Gordon Lightfoot, but no, it's been a dark lonely weekend with biting cold outside and soul-wrenching weather inside, Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley ain't cheering me up, and damnit, if this is the Dark Night of the Soul come back for a visit (and yes, it stinks after three days) then this is the night (you win, Doris) for the patron saint of disappointment, Leonard Cohen:

First "Suzanne" (with the best understanding of Jesus on this cross this side of Alan Moore's Promethea), some lyrics from "Death of a Ladies' Man" because it's that kind of a day, and finally Jeff Buckley's and K.D. Laing's covers of "Hallelujah". Aristotle tells us this pity and fear is supposed to bring catharsis, cut the poisoned right out of us, but god-damn.

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

More Death: Andrew Wyeth

What is it about the week of January 16? Now news comes that Andrew Wyeth and John Mortimer, the father of Rumpole, both died this weekend. And I'm not feeling too well myself.
Wyeth was 91 years old, a refutation to the "live fast, die young" school of art. What makes Rembrandt Rembrandt and Hokusai "the old man mad with painting" was their ability to dive down deeper and deeper towards the great mysteries. Someone asked Hokusai about old age, and he said it was frustrating because he thought he was just starting to get pretty good; another 90 years, he said, and he might accomplish something. And Wyeth was in a line of great artists: father N.C., and his children, Jamie in particular, continue to do amazing things.

My favorite Wyeths have something human in them: Tom Carpenter in "That Gentleman", the hair on the back of Helga's neck, a dog squinting in the sun, Betsy standing in the snow by an old stone tower.

But what always amazed me, leaves me gobsmacked at the technical skill, was Wyeth's ability to paint inanimate objects-- a landscape, an empty room-- and invest it with so much personality. A lace curtain, a pair of boots, even a weather vane on top of a roof has a story that stepped out of the room just a moment before. How did he do that?
I'll never know, but in an interview last year, he did leave a useful note to etch into my skin: "People only make you swerve. I won’t show anybody anything I’m working on. If they hate it, it’s a bad thing, and if they like it, it’s a bad thing. An artist has to be ingrown to be any good."

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered."

The summer I was 11 or 12, Animal World with Bill Burrud was on CBS, and of course I watched that. Immediately after was another summer replacement show, a British series called The Prisoner, created by and starring Patrick McGoohan. And now Pat tells me Patrick McGoohan has died at age 80.
From the opening credits, I was entranced, stolen away to Faery by paranoid elves. I didn't understand half the things that were being said, like a kid overhearing an argument between grown-ups, but The Prisoner crawled into my bones and became part of my soul. Orwell had an intellectual understanding of the modern state in Animal Farm and 1984, but McGoohan understood it intuitively. "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."
1984 caught that in prose, Animal Farm has the power of fable, but The Prisoner was poetry. And this Winston Smith was an Irishman, a combination of anger and wit that was going to be a lot harder for Them to step on.
Apparently it started with an anecdote about a village populated by retired spies, a community of people who knew too many secrets for the government to ever let them out of its sight. You could tell your more literal minded friends that The Prisoner was a sequel to McGoohan's Danger Man series (Secret Agent over here). What was that line in the Johnny Rivers theme for Secret Agent? They've given you a number, and taken 'way your name.
What if the The Village had a sinister purpose? What if John Drake was taken prisoner, who knows by what side? Whose side was anyone on? An old naturalist Andre Gregory met told him that the modern metropolis was a model for the new concentration camp, where the prisoners police themselves and are very proud of the prison they've built around themselves.

It just occurred to me how often Number Six is a trickster hero, for all the storms of anger and secret agent fisticuffs: situation hopeless, no escape, keeping one step ahead of a crooked house and a sardonic smile that he saved for himself.

Sometimes it was "Invictus" staged by Dali, and sometimes the metaphor was more obvious. A Wild West episode was banned in America because Number Six's refusal to carry a gun might be seen as a rebuke to the war in Vietnam, which tells us more about Americans than it does about The Prisoner. The last episode descended into Magical Mystery Tour indulgence, but what the hell. The damage was already done.
All I knew, God break my bones but never bend me, was which side I was going to be on whenever forced to choose between bully or underdog, between the push-button mentality and the human act. I am not a number; I am a free man. And let them laugh. As Gordon Lightfoot suggested, if we cannot beat the Devil, we can try to give him a few unpleasant memories.

Who Watches the Watchmen?

I said what about my eyes?

"Keep them on the road."

I said what about my passion?

"Keep it burning."

I said what about my heart?

"Tell me what you hold inside it."

I said pain and sorrow.

He said, "Stay with it."


Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's Watchmen, the Citizen Kane of comic books, appears to have been turned into a beautiful film (though I'm a little vague as to whether the director, Zack Snyder, is the "visionary genius" mentioned in the trailer and not an "honest craftsman", since every shot is a computer enhanced re-creation of Gibbon's drawings and Moore's words.)
How do you explain to the uninitiated that Moore's Watchmen is sad and funny and horrific and haunting, that it is not for anyone under the age of 18, that it is one of those books that leave you forever changed, disturbed, unsettled? For my desert island library, I would prefer Moore's Promethea, but there's no denying that Watchmen is a masterpiece. It breaks your heart, but it's not an easily quoted book, because so much of the emotional impact of a given scene or dialogue depends on context, its connection with the rest.
I'm excited by the musical choices too-- Smashing Pumpkins' “The Beginning is the End is the Beginning” as good a theme for Rorschach as any, along with songs referenced in the original: "All Along the Watchtower", "Unforgettable", and I assume "Desolation Row".
Like everyone else who loves the book, and honors what Moore was trying to tell us, is worried that the film will simply illustrate the action sequences or spend its time tracking the doomsday plotline, too much Nixon and not enough Kitty Genovese.

In the original, the Watchmen's alternative history is only an interesting backdrop for the characters in the foreground. The heart of the story is in Rorschach's interview in prison and Jon and Laurie's conversation on Mars. That's a danger with almost any effects film, that the skills of the SFX crew can outrun the ability of the director and screenwriter to create a human being, and you wind up with monstrosities like Independence Day. If they keep Moore's script and let Rorschach be Rorschach, Watchmen could be the first superhero film to win and deserve an Oscar for Best Picture, with Jackie Earle Haley winning Best Actor as Rorschach.

The Puppy Debate

I've been soured on CNN for more than a year now (somebody take those graphics away from Blitzer! And who made these chair-warmers into pundits?)-- but have decided to forgive Anderson Cooper, at least, for moderating this debate.

My Political Manifesto , or, "Lookit the Nut Wit' Da Sign!"

The BBC is talking about the death at age 91 of Helen Gavronsky Suzman, apparently the best known Caucasian anti-apartheid activist in South Africa. I've never heard of her before this, but something she said in a recording struck me as so simple and profound that I'd like to attach it to any description of my politics.

It's weird that Americans don't have "politics" the way Europeans do; there's even a bestseller making the rounds about how we vote with our gut and not with our heads. (The thought that our stomachs have a brain almost as powerful as our cerebrum is a scary thought I'll save for a science-fiction story). This is what happens in a culture when schools function as employment agencies for coaches, and you let them teach civics and history as a seat-warming exercise-- before you scoff, I knew at least one high-school librarian who spent his day drawing up football plays.

I was complimented by a French Swiss once and I had to tell him that I really wasn't that smart, but just had the habit (unusual for an American, apparently) of thinking about why I believe what I believe.

Before this, I've been content with Brendan Behan's summary, that I first read at a bar in Chicago: "I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer." This sums up the goals of good government, and implies the need to build a lasting peace (which, despite the chest thumping of warriors, will always be harder to build than war. Emotionally and materially cheaper in the long run, though.)

But there was something missing, that kept this from being a complete political manifesto, at least for me. Behan's phrase tells us what to build, and leaves policy up to us, but doesn't deal with the Problem of Evil, the killer ape within, what Jungians call the Shadow (and for once, I'm not talking about Lamont Cranston). This is the oversight that collapses philosophical anarchism (what do we do with those who won't co-exist peacefully?). James Madison addressed the problem in The Federalist Papers: "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." Our refusal to acknowledge the shadow killed the Sixties just as dead as CIA-sponsored drugs-- the Summer of Love was stabbed to death at Altamont, chopped into pieces by the Manson family, and shoved in a trunk by the Unicorn Killer. What, then, must we do?

I look through my other rule books: Camus, Confucius, Orwell and Paolo Friere, and re-read the political attitudes etched in my bones, in The Once and Future King, Travis McGee and the superheroes, Pogo and Heinlein and Hannah Arendt, Angel and "Rumpole of the Bailey". All these things have shaped my thinking, help me define my moral compass (buy me a Guinness and I'll go on for hours), but there's no simple phase that can fit on a sign and still be understood out of context. Even Travis McGee admits that his own manifesto, a banner embroidered by countless maidens, keeps trailing on the ground and getting stepped on.

Suzman to the rescue this morning, one last note of a grace from a woman I never heard of. Here, then, is the Helen Suzman amendment to the Brendan Behan manifesto. It was a simple answer (with profound implications) to the question of what started her on her long road :

"I hate bullies and I like simple justice."