Dramatic License

A weblog of thoughts, inspirations, experiences of, in and about live theatre, film, television, literature and other media.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Requiem: In Memory of Dan Fogelberg

Go, Blessed Traveler, And Journey The Length of the Light
(For Dan Fogelberg, 8/13/1951 - 12/16/2007)
By J. R. Simons, 2007

“And in the passage from the cradle to the grave
We are born madly dancing . . .
The lines of life are never long when seen from end to end.” – Dan Fogelberg, “In The Passage,” 1981

Sunday afternoon, 16 December,
The snow fell heavy
Deep in the Netherlands.
Were your captured angel’s wings
So great they needed to be clipped
To fit you through heaven’s gates?
Or could it be
That the feathers of a Phoenix
Are a brilliant white
And they fell so thick
On the ground as you cheated death
And rose from the grave?

I met an old crush of mine
For coffee and some pie
Some years ago at Bob Evans.
She had married herself a carpenter
And sometimes soldier
And told me she was –
Comfortable –
That most of the time they clicked.
Somehow the sapphire crystal of her eyes
Betrayed some truth deep inside
And I doubted what she said.
Yet, despite my doubts
I declined to tell her
I had loved her –
Would always lover her –
Longer than . . .

And as I drove away
I thought of you on that snowy
Christmas Eve –
That maudlin, melodramatic bittersweet moment –
When you let love slip away.

Gold still retains its power –
Still holds men under its spell –
We have yet to kill the fire
And turn to the sun.
Perhaps it’s best
That you’ve been spared
The pain of that day
When all the poisons
We’ve been pumping into the sky
Blot it out forever.

Once, in an age of innocence,
I dared to love –
We were worlds apart –
She ran with the bad boys –
Heavy metal singers, rock and roll drummers –
And I was a drama geek
With a straight-A average.
I’ve pressed those days
Away in the pages of childish memory
Along with a line or two about love
From a cassette I played so many times
I broke it.

The Reach has claimed another –
The living legacy is no more –
The voice is silenced -
The fingers on the fret board stilled –
While I weep for the loss
I know that – in some measure –
You have cheated death -
With immortality in words and music
Cut deeply into vinyl
And etched not only in the memory
Of a plastic compact disc
But the memory of a child –
Countless children –
Raised on a simple Midwest singer’s wisdom.

Go, blessed traveler,
You who danced madly
For such a short time,
And journey the length of the light.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Rant: Computers for Children Who Need Food, Shelter and Security

First of all, before reading my rant, check out these online articles:





Does this not all sound like yet another case of misguided charity? This is a reality, folks. Four hundred dollars gets you a laptop and sends a laptop to a child in a poor underdeveloped third-world nation. What a misplaced sense of charitable donations this is!

These laptops are going to children in countries with broken infrastructures and without the basic necessities of a modern civilization: running water, indoor plumbing, proper sewage disposal and an equitable food distribution network. Although it was ultimately a failure, I prefer the misguided charity of Bob Geldof and his pop culture friends in the 1980s. At least they were trying to feed the children. Unfortunately, the country they were trying to feed was under the jackbooted control of territorial warlords who regulated the transportation of anything from ports of entry to the country's interior. A large portion of the food purchased and delivered through Geldof's charities rotted on the dock because nobody could get it safely to the people who desperately needed it.

Now we have a group of misguided computer enthusiasts who believe that access to the internet and email will solve all the world's ills. If these computers actually get to the children, what will they do with them? How many Americans have set up losing money-making websites here in the US only to be disappointed that their financial status has not improved? The US may be an information economy, but most of the rest of the world still revolves around commerce in the basics of life: food, water, shelter, clothing. No amount of information will possibly help these children. You can't eat information. Information won't keep you warm on a cold night. Information won't keep the rains out.

Come on, people, let's get it together. Save your $400 and help these people find a way to rebuild their infrastructure. Give them sewers to wash away their waste and prevent disease. Negotiate a settlement with the warlords that gives up control of the infrastructure to the people who actually use it. Steve Miller had the right idea:

"Feed the babies
Who don't have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin' in the street
Oh, oh, there's a solution." (Fly Like An Eagle, 1976)

Remember Maslow's hierarchy of needs and help satisfy these basic ones before moving on to luxuries such as personal computers, email and internet access. It is all too easy to think that simply by giving away something that is not of real value to us we are doing something to help others. This anonymity permits us to give inferior products and service while still believing that we are doing something of worth. Access to education and information may seem like a worthy thing, but when so many of theses computer's recipients are going home to unclean, unhealthy living conditions with little food, inadequate sewage control and little or no health care, this access to education and information seems useless and misplaced. My $.02 worth.