Bulger Brothers Guilty Of Loyalty

William Bulger grew up in a time when values were quite different than they are today. Loyalty was highly regarded in most circles. William is guilty. He is guilty of loyalty to his brother Whitey.
Both brothers grew up in poverty in a South Boston housing project. Other than that, their paths were extremely diverse. Whitey succumbed to the pressures of the streets while William overcame them.
In today’s world, loyalty is a dying virtue and it is refreshing to watch a man risk all he has honestly worked for to protect his brother. In these trying times snitchery and turncoating to save one’s own skin has become an art.
The corporate raiders who savaged the retirement funds of the workers of Enron had no sense of loyalty toward those whom they were positioned to protect. What a difference, also, between the spilling of the Bill Clinton story and the tale of John F. Kennedy and his intern.
While everyone today is willing to fill in all the sordid details for personal gain, the other side of that story is the respectable silence, the honorable discretion of Kennedy’s lover as opposed to the story of Monica Lewinsky who just can’t keep her mouth shut.
In the new millennium, betrayal is the code word. No more are loyal workers respected by their employers. Lovers can’t wait to kiss and tell. It is expected that all men are willing to turn their brothers over to the system; family ties are meaningless.
William Bulger has committed himself to a lifetime of service for the people of Massachusetts. Has he received the financial benefits for his years of service? Of course he has. These remunerations are not excessive and are well-deserved.

He is a tough man who rose to his current position by dint of hard work and sacrifice. His heart aches for the plight and mistakes of his brother Whitey Bulger. If he could have done something to change the course of Whitey’s life, he certainly would have. He tried. But we are all powerless over the actions of other people. All we can do is the next right thing ourselves, in accordance to our own values.
Mitt Romney, one of William’s detractors, never had to struggle out of poverty. Neither did former Attorney General Thomas Reilly. Are these two men who would turn in their brothers? What does loyalty mean to a corporate raider who spent his entire life working for his own gain?
The tale of William and Whitey Bulger, two brothers from the projects of South Boston, is a modern tragedy. The sins of one brother threaten to discredit the accomplishments of the other. William was the hard-working President of the University of Massachusetts; Whitey was a mobster on the run. William Bulger’s only crime is that he loves his brother and has a sense of honor that our current society does not share.
In Massachusetts, we are fortunate to have benefitted from the public service of William Bulger in all the positions of State he has held. Let us hope he receives the respect he is due and is not witch-hunted out of his accomplishments for his brother’s misdeeds.
“I do have an honest loyalty to my brother, and I care about him, and I know that’s not welcome news, but . . .it’s my hope that I’m never helpful to anyone against him,” William Bulger testified.
Whitey Bulger is caught now, in steel and stone and chains in the world of the snitch, and yet he is still not crushed.
Two brothers, William and Whitey, both accomplished and hardened in their own individual ways. Let God stand judgement on the two; no human in today’s world can do it.—-by Marc D. Goldfinger
“Part of this appeared in the Boston Metro on June 10, 2003. It has been altered to meet the current times.”

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For Jack Powers: This Should Have Been An Elegy

by Marc D. Goldfinger

“Go mad.  Commit suicide.  There will be nothing left.

After you die or go mad.

But the calmness of poetry.”——-from “A Poem Without A Single Bird In It” by Jack Spicer

 

My wife, Mary Esther, is a devout Catholic who goes to Mass regularly even though she hates the patriarchy of the church.  When she could walk without a cane, she would go to Mass at Arch Street in Boston, the noon Mass, and she would often see Jack Powers there, on his knees, his lips moving.

She really didn’t know Jack Powers.  She did know that he was a spiritual man.  But the demons.  She couldn’t see the demons.  I knew Jack Powers from TT the Bears, a bar in Cambridge MA where he hosted Stone Soup Poetry regularly.  I started attending there in 1994 every Monday night.  I didn’t know he went to church regularly.

I didn’t know that Jack Powers, in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s founded a free school on Beacon Hill, Boston and started free suppers for the elderly in the same neighborhood.  I didn’t know that he taught Columbia Point Project kids remedial reading and started a food co-op there too.

In 1987 Jack Powers told The Boston Globe, and I quote, “I’m very solid on volunteerism because the extraordinary weight of problems that visits the modern industrial society can’t be met with dollars alone.”

I didn’t know that Jack Powers, on a cold winter night, if he saw a homeless person who wasn’t dressed for the cold, would take off his coat and gloves and give them to the person on the street.

I didn’t know that he often volunteered at the North End Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Boston, in earlier years.  I know that he died there, a resident, of complications of dementia.  I know that he ran poetry groups at McLeans Hospital, Belmont, where he sometimes was a patient.

I do know that he started Stone Soup Poetry Readings over 40 years ago and made everyone that I knew feel welcome there.  I know that he was held in such high regard in the poetry community that poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, and Robert Bly, among others, came to read for him and the poets who read regularly at Stone Soup.

I know Jack Powers drank quite a bit.  It can be said that he drank alcoholically.  When I met him in ’94, he was already putting the drinks down his gullet like they were water.

People knew I was in recovery from heroin, which is just alcohol in powder form, and some of them asked me to talk to Jack about his drinking.  I talked to Jack a number of times about the damage he was doing to himself and those who loved him.

The trouble with the disease of addiction/alcoholism is that denial is a big part of it.  Jack couldn’t help it.  He didn’t know how to get out.  He tried.  He went to AA  He went to the hospital for treatment.  He went to church regularly.

I knew Jack through the poetry readings but I didn’t know the demons that walked through his mind and spirit.  He prayed.  This I know because my wife saw him, as I said, at Arch Street Church on a regular basis.  When he was on his knees, lips moving, what prayers were uttered from his desperate talented mouth?  Is there a God that hears all our prayers and sometimes says, NO”?  I don’t know.

I’m a drug counselor now and, even with all the knowledge of the illness at my disposal, I still relapsed a little over 5 years ago.  I was lucky.  I was able to get back into recovery.

Certainly Jack Powers was as good a man as I, maybe better.  He’s accomplished more in the poetry world than I ever have.  Jack really tried to stay sober.  I know he did.

There are very few of us that don’t have one type of addiction or another.  Some drugs, some money, some sex, some pornography, some comic books, some power, some food, etc. etc. etc.

Jack was a good talented man who dealt with inner demons and none of us will ever know their nature.  When one is haunted by his/her own mind and spirit anything can happen.  Jack was a blessing that touched so many lives, so many lives that are too numerous to count.

It didn’t matter what level your poetry was at–Jack would sign you up to read–and help you if you asked.  He was there for so many.  He was as non-judgmental as a man, as a poet can be.  There are many poets who are quick to judge others.  This is no secret in the poetry world.  I wish I could say that I was as non-judgmental as Jack.  I don’t know.

As Doug Holder of the Ibbetson Street Press said, quoting from the Boston Globe, “Boston is full of elite universities and institutions, often very exclusive, where if you don’t have an academic pedigree you’re out of the scene.  What Jack did was bring poetry to the people.  He published books and had a venue where all kinds of people came through.  He opened it up in Boston, which was old and stodgy until Jack brought a populist flavor, a new flowering of poetry.”

Poet Gail Mazur, from the academic scene, said of Jack, “He wanted to gather everyone int the performance of poetry.  In that way, he was a little ahead of his time.”

Jack Powers was so much more than a poet.  He was a man who gave so much to the world, a good man who reached out to those who didn’t have.  Jack wasn’t money rich, not by any means.  But he was possessed by a wealth that more of us should strive for, more of us should emulate.

But Jack was possessed by demons too.  In the end, the demons took away all the gifts he had.  It wasn’t that Jack Powers didn’t ask for help.  He asked for help in more ways than many of us will ever know.

Jack Powers is goine now but his legacy will live on.  There is much that many of us knew about Jack, but when it came down to it, no one knew the nature of the ticking clock within him that took him down.  Jack Powers died at the age of 73.  It was a sudden, slow death.  Like Neil Cassady, Jack couldn’t get off of the railroad tracks.

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War Has All The Money Gone?

I was watching the news last night and this morning, amazed by all the teacher cuts all over the country.  The talking heads were telling us that this is a new era and we’ll have to get used to working with less.  Also, just recently some Tea Party member was talking about the sucking sound of money disappearing into health care initiatives  like Medicare, Medicaid and the new Health Care Bill.

What astounds me is that the sucking sound of money disappearing from our country is because of the ENDLESS WARS.  Nobody is talking about the cost, both financially and physically, of the Iraqi debacle and the Afghanistan disaster.

Are we really spending billions of dollars chasing a gang of cats called Al Qaeda all around the world?  As our country’s infrastructure declines, as we strip our educational systems, as we blame the poor for taking too many food stamps and too much welfare, the WAR MACHINE, a hungry beast out of control, is stealing the future of our country.

Just a quick example of our blundering war machine.  Since 2002 our country has poured $6 billion into developing a police force in Afghanistan so they can take over when we leave.  It’s 2010 and barely one-quarter of the 98,000 member force has received any formal instruction.  Fifteen per cent of the recruits test positive for drugs and nearly 90% are illiterate.  Approximately 170,000 Afghans have been trained but only 30,000 remain on the force–and their competence is questionable.

And this is 6 billion dollars later.  How many teachers in the United States could be working for that kind of money?

I’m writing this column on Earth Day. (You can see I’m slow in putting it up.)  Now this is a day that’s started, I believe, in 1970, to make people aware of our deteriorating environment.  It still exists, but like many good things Earth Day has become perverted and is now a corporate holiday.

All the major corporations are screaming GREEN, they have special departments to write text and tell us about what they are doing to maintain sustainability, whatever they mean by that.  Meanwhile, in the boardrooms, other members of the same corporations are planning their next moves to persuade us to buy products, even though these products are part of what is destroying the world.

Why are the Dead Zones in the ocean increasing in size?  Why are the ice caps melting and raising our water levels so that islands are being evacuated in order that their populations don’t drown.  What has caused this decade to be the hottest on record?

Did you know that, besides the Dead Zones–which are multiple in number and cover areas as large as some of our smallest states–we have giant Plastic Zones in the ocean where non-degradable garbage swirls around and around.  These Plastic Zones are the Sargasso Sea for the creatures that try to live in the ocean.

Our world is mostly ocean but this land creature called humanity is changing the face of, not only the oceans, but everything on this planet.  Right now we are undergoing a mass extinction of species on a scale that has only taken place 5 other times in the history of our planet.  One time was when a giant asteroid hit the world and created an almost endless winter (endless in human time).

We are causing this mass extinction.  Countless species are being wiped out or are in danger of extinction.  In some spots off Washington state and Oregon, hypoxic zones exist in the ocean.  Hypoxia means an almost complete lack of oxygen.  The carcasses of multiple species of crabs litter the ocean floor in these zones.  Twenty-five year old sea stars wash onto the beaches and crippled colonies of sea anemones struggle to survive.  Mats of potentially poisonous bacteria thrive in hypoxic zones.

The weather is changing.  New Orleans still hasn’t recovered from Hurricane Katrina.  And now the BP oil spill is having its way with the Gulf Coast.  I’ll bet some of the money being sucked up by the war machine could help New Orleans.  Not to mention Haiti.  How about Haiti?

We, as a species, have lost our perspective.  If only our psychological and emotional maturity could equal our technological maturity.  If only.

War not only sucks up our oil, our gas, our people’s lives, their people’s lives, but it also wreaks havoc on the environment in which it takes place.  The companies that make the tools that we use to kill each other are not in financial trouble.  They are making more money than ever.

Ironically, many of the weapons that we produce here in the Corporate States(United States) wind up in the hands of the people we are fighting.  How does that make sense?

I can’t say it enough.  If half of the total money that the war machines suck up went into cleaning our environment, hiring teachers, helping the poor get housing and food, and not just here, we’d be doing a hell of a lot better than we are doing now.

Nobody is saying it.  The price of the war machine should be trumpeted on our national news every night, the actual dollar amount exposed daily and the money trail should be followed right to the door of every corporation that makes weapons that kill.

Why is it that we never have enough money for medical care but we always have enough money to blow people, places and things to unholy hell?  Maybe if the money eaten by the war machine that eats us was used to combat global warming we would have a better chance of surviving.  Just think of every war apparatus that emits toxicity: those giant aircraft carriers, those creepy looking bombers that explode across the sky, shattering the ear drums of the people who are about to be blow to shreds.  Noise pollution, air pollution, water pollution, earth pollution, mind pollution–just to name a few.

Let’s hire more teachers and kill less people.  Let’s have health care for everyone using the billions of dollars we now use to destroy life.  If we put the money from the war machine into better alternatives like schools, hospitals, the space program, eradication of hunger–we’d have enough teachers, everyone would have the best of health care like our politicians do(they don’t depend on Medicare) and we’d probably have reached the planet Mars a long time ago.

God knows we have the resources.  Now all we have to do is get resourceful and point the finger to the real problem–The WAR MACHINE.  Wake up humanity or go to sleep forever!

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Guess what, I’m finally high speed

Let’s hope that this means I will pay more attention to this blog. In the meantime, while I was gone, our civilization has moved closer to an entropic state.

Probably includes me.

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Paradigm Shift: The Obama Presidency

By Marc D. Goldfinger

“It is not by chance there are many of us.

It is not by chance we sing to each other.

It is not by chance the Gods let us touch.

It is not by chance, like plug and socket, we fit together.”—from A Room of Bone — a poem in Relationships by Marc D. Goldfinger; Ibbetson St. Press, Somerville, MA

George W. Bush has left the stage of the world.  It is Barack Obama’s time.  Yet as Barack Obama knows well, it is not only his time, but it is also our time.  Obama is our president and we are the people.  In his speech many of his reflections called upon us to do our part, for he knows that alone and isolated, a president who works against the will of the people cannot work.  We have just witnessed eight years of decline, eight years of waning hope, eight years of spending the birthright of our future, eight years of hopelessness, death without purpose, eight years of the heart of a nation breaking into tears of sorrow.

The glory of Barack Obama is that he is truly the heart of the United States, yet he realizes the heart is only a source of inspiration if all the other organs work well.  Barack Obama knows that a leader is only as strong as his ideals; that if he doesn’t lead well, the people will not follow.

Barack Obama does not take his new trust lightly.  He knows that the world is at a pivotal point as far as the human species is concerned.  He is aware that the path we take from this point is crucial, and it takes us all to task.  It is our responsibility to work with our new president, to help him achieve his goals and also to speak out to him when we feel that he is going off the path.  Because Barack Obama is a president who knows that he has much to learn from those around him.  Obama is a president who is humble, who will keep his ears to the ground, his eyes to the sky, his hands on the plow, and he knows that he must not only say what is necessary — he must follow through with his actions.

Sixty years ago, men and women of colour were relegated to the back of the bus; men and women of colour could not drink at the same water fountains as white people; men and women of colour were not free in the United States.

Barack Obama knows that, in just sixty years, there has been a paradigm shift in our country.  That is what makes it great.  It is not that everyone has changed in sixty years, but enough of us have changed to make this new world possible.

Barack Obama raises the hopes of the people of the United States.  But it is not only the people of the United States who have their eyes on this man with “The Audacity of Hope”, it is the people of the world who have their eyes on him because he raises their hopes too.  The world is watching him; the world is watching us; the world is waiting and hoping that Obama is what he says he is, and what he has shown us he is to become the president of our land.

I am a cynical man, but I have hope for humanity.  It has been a long time since I have been inspired by a leader, and Barack Obama has won my heart.  And not only my heart, but the hearts of many, people in the United States and people all over the world.

There was a time, a long while ago, when humanity was given hope.  There was a president who said, after Russia launched Sputnick, the first satellite, that we would be the first nation to reach the moon.  And God knows, if there is a God and I believe there is one, that we joined together, each in our own way, and in 1969 humanity walked on the moon.

Barack Obama offers us a new challenge.  He does not say that we will be the first to walk the moon; Obama says that we will lead the world with fierce love; that we will “offer our hand if you will unclench your fist.”  Obama says that “this is the time to put aside childish things.”.  I believe he knows that war is the enemy of us all, and those who choose war over life are the ones who delay the new rebirth of the Human Nation.

It is not just the United States that must grow; it is all the nations of the world who must unclench their fists, just as we must join them.  Those of us here in the United States with clenched fists must stop, think and open their hands so they can work with us.  Barack Obama knows that this is a world where, if anyone is left behind, whether black, yellow, white, poor, rich, red or just average, if anyone is left behind, we will all be left behind.

This is not a time where we must fight and claw to be the first to walk the surface of the moon.  This is a time when we must join hands and work together to walk and ride and sail across a clean, peaceful Earth.  There is only one way to do this.

Again, I repeat Obama’s words, which he took from the Bible, and those words are that “we must put aside childish things.”  This I know to be true — war is one of those childish things we must put aside.  As Obama said, “When it was time for us to face the future, we faced it and did not falter.”

Barack Obama is more than the heart of a nation.  He can be the heart of the world.  Instead of strapping bombs to ourselves and destroying the future, we must strap tool belts around our waists, whatever tools we use to build, and work to turn our backs on the errors of the past.

There was a president who took us to the moon.  Let Barack Obama be the president who takes us all home, and let him be the president that inspires us to work so that all people, all over the world, can be safe in a home of their own and walk the world in peace.

Published in Spare Change News, Jan. 29 — Feb. 11th, 2009.

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Obama, The New President

Now the work begins, undoing all the damage that the Bush presidency has done.  Hopefully, all the soldiers will be brought home from Iraq.

The fact is, this is more than Barack Obamas job to remake the vision of our country.  It is our job too.

Under the regime of Bush & Cheney, we have again become The Ugly American.  Barack Obama inspires hope in me and I know that I have to do my part.

Use less fuel.  I bicycle, I have a small motorcycle that gets 60 mpg, a Honda Rebel 250cc, and a nine year old Honda Civic that gets close to 30 mpg.  My wife has a newer Honda Civic which gets 35 mpg.

And that’s just the beginning.  A new beginning for all of us.

Do I pray?  Yes, I do.  But it takes more than that.  My actions speak louder than my words.  I can say anything I want here but if I don’t live it, it becomes meaningless blather.

May the world, and the United States, heal, heal, heal.

Our species stands poised on the edge.  We face challenges never faced before.  The choice is ours — the collapse of civilization as we know it — or a world where life is held sacred and promises kept.

May whatever God you believe in calm your spirit and enrich your soul.

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What To Do Next After The Crash

Turn off your TV!  Sit back.  Take a few deep breaths.  Relax.  Getting frightened doesn’t change anything.   Look around you.  Is everything okay where you live.

If it isn’t, then you have to deal with it.  If everything in your humble abode is okay, then be there.

This too shall pass.  Forget the media.  For them, this is payday.

I’m going to vote.  I’m going to follow what I believe.  You can do the same.  Follow the path to the truth.  I’m not going to tell you what that path is.  Inside yourself, you know it.

Pay attention.

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