The transatlantic flight arrives at Charles de Gaulle airport at 8:30 a.m. Groggy and jet-lagged, I wait interminably for my suitcase at one of the most inefficient luggage carousels known to Man, vision obscured by the many other passengers crowding and craning in their attempt to see past each other and glimpse their valued belongings. Finally, my bag comes, blissfully intact.
Next, there is the shuttle to the train which will take me into Paris, but the shuttle is a mistake, wandering for half an hour into and through distant corners of the airport property, until I arrive at the station and realize that an easy five minute walk would have brought me to the same place.
The attempt to buy train tickets at the automatic kiosk which will not accept my credit card fails and is followed by a long wait in line to purchase the necessary billet from an attendant who gives directions to the proper train in rapid, incomprehensible French, so I end up on the local, rather than the express, and bump from one filthy station to the next through the post-apocalyptic neighborhoods which rim the northern approach to central Paris, among rag-tag local passengers whose hands, touching the same bars, poles and handles which I must grasp, have been God-knows-where…
Need anything be said about the search for the taxi queue at the Gare du Nord, and the long, anxiety-filled wait? When my taxi comes, will it be the sleek new Mercedes, or the dirty and disreputable aged Peugot?
But ultimately there is arrival at the hotel, check-in, deposit of luggage, escape into the freedom of the streets and… Voila! It is, after all, Paris! Ca va bien — all goes well. How can it be any better than this?
A very close friend died last week. She had courageously battled cancer for over ten years. Her husband, also a dear friend, asked me to perform a special song, which had been meaningful to them in their marriage, at her memorial service. However, I will be out of country at that time, so I have offered to record the song for him, voice and guitar. I’ve been practicing for the past few days, and have a recording session scheduled tomorrow.
The song is You Are So Beautiful To Me, originally written by Dennis Wilson, Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher, and recorded by Preston. It was popularized by Joe Cocker. You may remember Joe Cocker and the Grease Band from the ‘60s, or the 1970s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour with Leon Russell… Or not.
If you haven’t heard the 21st century Joe Cocker perform this song, you might want to give a listen. Here is a Youtube video (sorry, there may be ads you’ll need to skip):
Anyway, I didn’t know the song before I was asked to perform it. Listening, learning and getting up to speed to record it has put me back in touch with the raw emotion that flows out of Joe Cocker, and given me a deeper feeling for my departed friend and her grieving husband. What else can I say? For me, the song says it all.
U.S. military attack on Syria? Are you serious? Haven’t we seen this movie before?
Ok, first of all, we’ve announced to the world that this will be a limited military action — no ground troops – so the Syrians, who are bat-shit crazy anyway, can feel secure in planning how they’ll vent their rage after we have “punished” them.
Since they have no moral restraint in the first place – proven by their use of chemical and other weapons to slaughter each other by any means possible – they will obsessively pursue retaliation for our annoying and ineffectual interference.
Do we think we will teach them a lesson and they will reform their behavior, like errant schoolboys? They couldn’t care less what we want or think.
So the plan is not to crush them, just irritate the shit out of ‘em. Like taking the first pill or two, then discontinuing your ten-day course of antibiotics – just enough to kill off a few of the weaker bacteria, while building up the strength and resistance of the strong. Or like bitch-slapping a hornet’s nest — if you don’t empty your entire can of insect spray into it and kill the pesky little rascals from the get-go, you’re gonna get stung.
Threatening Syria with “limited military action” for disobeying the rules? We’d better get ‘Syrias’ about our threats and be prepared to act as the Romans did toward Carthage: burn and sack their cities, kill or enslave every man, woman and child, and sow the ground with salt. Otherwise, don’t mess around.