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September 4th, 2004

The Bitter Sweet of Loss


"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
Albert Einstein

Hi Folks,

I apologize for the omission of last week's newsletter and the shortened nature of this one. My mother passed away and I had to make a sudden trip back to Ohio for the funeral. I'm still catching up on work (and feelings). It's not necessary, but if anyone wants to send a sympathy note, please place 'Condolences' in the subject box. I get a lot of junkmail with subject headings like ' At Your Time of Loss . . ' or things like that, and it usually has to do with Viagra. Boom boom! (See it is possible to have a sense of humour even in tragic times, and hence 'laughing until you cry' - accessing those repressed emotions in a different creative way. My mother was a joyful person and there was a lot of joy and laughter at the wake, of old friends and family reuniting after 20-30 years, mixed in with the bitter-sweet of loss, of course. Leaving so much joy behind as part of your legacy must be one of the most marvelous things possible.

Ok - So For Some Thematic Humour

Little Nancy was in the garden filling in a hole when her neighbor peered over the fence. Interested in what the cheeky-faced youngster was doing, He politely asked, "What are you up to there, Nancy?"

"My goldfish died," replied Nancy tearfully, without looking up,"And I've just buried him."

The neighbor was concerned, "That's an awfully big hole for a goldfish isn't it?"

Nancy patted down the last heap of earth then replied, "That's because he's inside your fucking cat."
(thanks to my brother Frank. See? This humour thing runs in the family.)


Favourite Reader Comments

Dear Joe,
I just want to say that i am a massive fan of yours, you cheer me up with your music when i am down and you should be knighted by the queen in my humble opinion, keep up your fantastic work! When are you next touring the UK?? Regards -
Ric E.

(Note: When I'm knighted, Ric - now that I'm an aussie citizen! Ask the Queen to send me the application form. On a musical note, my song 'GIFT - One Iraqi Child' has been selected as one of the ten final submissions for the 'Peace Songs for A Better World' CD being produced in Canada, in association with New Songs for Peace, endorsed by UNESCO. .) (site)

Hi Joe,
congrats on a fantastic "edition", you've outdone yourself!! As worrying as it is to see Christianity aligned with narrow-mindedness and right-wing agendas, it is understandable in a world where fundamentalists and fascists regularly use religious ideas for their own purposes (as mentioned throughout your newsletter). In the case of Christianity, there are of course many Christians both in America and throughout the world who are not lining up behind Dubya and his ilk, for very good reason, and it would be both a disservice to them and a way of playing into the right-wing's hands to use "Christianity" as an all-purpose scapegoat for decidedly un-Christian acts done in the name of that religion. To that end I'd refer you and your readers to a couple of sites, if possible:
The excellent Sojourners site (much of which reads like your newsletter!) Kind regards,
Justine Stewart

Sojourners Site
Seamless Robe Site

(Note: I agree. Two of my most important creative influences were serious Christians: Martin Luther King Jr, and JS Bach. It's the person, NOT the system, hence why one doctor can heal and another hinder, using the same procedure. (Shall we call it 'spiritual bedside manner'?) For instance, one of the Catholic priests in my hometown of Painesville used to bring a baseball and bat and hit balls over the head of the congregation to illustrate points. I went to see him on my previous trip and when I walked in the church, he was jumping up and down on a trampoline in front of the altar. (Sounds like a reincarnation lecture to me!) I asked my father why this priest wasn't doing my mother's service and he told me that the church found him a little bit too way out and sent him packing to El Salvador. I understand trampolines are popular down there with the Papi Chulos.)

Heh heh heh , that's very good. If I ever meet George Bush I'll give him the Heimlich Manoeuvre with extra force around the throat. He'll never have problems with eating again. I'd like to slice him down the middle with a chain saw and put his organs through the mincer then force feed them to Margaret Thatcher and chuck her in a tank full of Pirahanas. yours cheerfully -
(Hey, I just realised that Kath rhymes with psychopath.) Kath
kathtait website

(Note: This was a reply from Kath to an advance copy of the lyrics I sent her to one of my latest songs, 'The Dubya Manoeuvre,' which you can read here if you like:) song lyrics

Here's a link to the amazing Dr Henry Heimlich and the Heimlich Institute:
Heimlich Institute

Favourite Porn Spam Subject Heading of the Week

From: Disrupts F. Budgerigar Subject: Latina Looking For Her Papi Chulo Meows

John Kerry and The Electras

Did you know that John Kerry used to be a rocker?

'One for the country,
Two Swift boats,
Three to get elected,
so Vote, cat, Vote!'

"Yeah, Maaaaan! " attributed to Dennis Hopper

Here a link to Kerry's old band.
The Electras

Anti-Kerry Vets Not There that Day
By William B. Rood
Chicago Tribune

" There were three swift boats on the river that day in Vietnam more than 35 years ago-three officers and 15 crew members. Only two of those officers remain to talk about what happened on February 28, 1969. One is John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate who won a Silver Star for what happened on that date. I am the other. "

'Family Tree' of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth - and the Bush Family
(as if we needed more reasons to de-elect George.)

Humour Too


In Jerusalem, an American female journalist heard about an old rabbi who visited the Wailing Wall to pray twice a day, everyday, for a long, long time. In an effort to check out the story, she goes to the holy site and there he is! She watches the bearded old man at prayer--and after about 45 minutes, as he turns to leave, she approaches him for an interview.

"I'm Rebecca Smith from CNN, sir, how long have you been coming to the Wailing Wall and praying?"

"For about 50 years", he informs her.

"50 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"

"I pray for peace. Peace between my people and the Arabs. I pray for all the hatred to stop, I pray for all the children that they might grow up in safety and friendship. I pray that God Almighty might finally grant sanity to the leaders on both sides!"

"And how do you feel, sir, after doing this so faithfully for 50 years?"

"It's like I'm talking to a fucking wall."
(thanks to BobbyK)


From the Morcombe family - please pass this on and don' t let up until it is resolved. Please do not delete. Pass on to as many people as possible.

" Hello everyone,

Many of you will have seen reports or ads about a missing schoolboy Daniel Morcombe from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

Daniel has been missing for five months today. He's my nephew, and my brother Bruce and his wife Denise, have raised over $100,000 to fund an advertising campaign which is currently underway, in an attempt to solve Daniel's abduction, and hopefully to capture the person or persons involved.

There has been wonderful coverage of this tragic event, including "Australian Story" on the ABC, and a major article in the current edition of "The Australian Women's Weekly", but still the crime is not solved.

The police now think two men were probably involved, together with a "blue car" as per the composite photo:

Sending out emails may hopefully trigger someone's memory, or someone's conscience, and makes the image of Daniel and the "blue car" below available for longer than is available on an ad.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could forward this email on to all your email contacts, friends, relatives and business contacts, in the hope that someone will be able to provide the missing clue that the police are looking for.

If everyone has just five email contacts, who each have five email contacts, who each have five email contacts, who each have five email contacts, that'll be well over a million people we'll be reaching.

Thanks a lot - it's really appreciated.
Perry Morcombe "
(thanks to Alan Howe for help passing this on.)


While I was in Ohio this past week, I did a bit of cooking: Fried Catfish in Cornmeal, with Polenta Dolce ((fresh basil and fresh corn kernals), for my dad, and BBQ Ribs and Smothered Pork Chops for my brother. My brother is an in-to-it cook, too, and he made me Collard Greens and Red Chilli, and Soul Food Kale w/ Ham Hocks. American-Australia-Italians and African-Americans must share an affinity for each other's poor people food. I picked up a terrific book of poetry in Cleveland, 'The Gospel of Barbeque,' by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, and I'll be sharing some of those poems with you in the future. One verse of the title poem reads:

Chapter One:
Somebody got to die
with something at some
time or another.

For a recipe from the Italian side of the family, I was half conscious awhile ago when Stefano de Pieri's great Australian-Italian cooking program, 'Gondola on the Murray' came on TV. Through sleepy eyes I managed to retain this simple and luscious appetiser recipe. (He was watching it being made himself by some beautiful Italian grandmother.) I prepared it with some fried fish and it came out great. Here's what I remember:


Olive Ripiene
Stuffed Breaded Green Olives

15 giant green unpitted Queen-sized olives
fine breadcrumbs
1 egg
olive oil

(for the stuffing)
1-2 Italian sausages, pork-veal, or chicken-veal. skins removed
1 small red chilli
1/2 teasp garlic, chopped finely
2 tables mixed fresh herbs (parsely, coriander. etc) chopped finely
salt and pepper

method: prepare in advance the olives. With a small sharp knife, gently peel the olive meat off the pit in one piece, in a circular twist, the same way you spiral off an apple skin. Once the pit is out, you should be able to twist the olive back into an oval shape. We are going to stuff this cavity.

To make the stuffing: mix the sausage meat together with the chilli, garlic, herbs and salt and pepper. Knead well.

Stuff each olive with a small amount of the stuffing and shape the olive back into an oval shape. It should hold together easily.

Place the flour in one dish, the breadcrumbs in another and the beaten egg in a third. Dip the olives first in the flour to coat, then the beaten egg, and finally the breadcrumbs. Put the breaded olives on a plate and place in the fridge for about a half hour. (This helps the breadcrumbs to absorb the egg and keep its together better when frying.)

Heat up about a quarter inch of olive oil and when it starts to sizzle, fry the stuffed olives until golden brown all over. Test one to make sure the meat is cooked. If not, fry a little bit longer. Careful not to burn them. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. They can be served with fresh parsely or Vietnamese herbs on the side.



Two Poems About Death and Wings



Then you shall take some of the blood, and put it on the door posts and the lintels of the houses . . . and when I see the blood, I shall pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. - Exodus 12: 7 & 13

They thought they were safe
that spring night; when they daubed
the doorways with sacrificial blood.
To be sure, the angel of death
passed them over, but for what?
Forty years in the desert
without a home, without a bed,
following new laws to an unknown land.
Easier to have died in Egypt
or stayed there a slave, pretending
there was safety in the old familiar.
But the promise, from those first
naked days outside the garden,
is that there is no safety,
only the terrible blessing
of the journey. You were born
through a doorway marked in blood.
We are, all of us, passed over,
brushed in the night by terrible wings.
Ask that fierce presence,
whose imagination you hold.
God did not promise that we shall live,
but that we might, at last, glimpse the stars,
brilliant in the desert sky.
~ Lynn Ungar ~



Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold,
Death's great black wing scrapes the air,
Misery gnaws to the bone.
Why then do we not despair?
By day, from the surrounding woods,
cherries blow summer into town;
at night the deep transparent skies
glitter with new galaxies.
And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined, dirty houses --
something not known to anyone at all,
but wild in our breast for centuries.
~ Anna Akhmatova ~
(thanks to Stephen Ross)