Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Portsmouth--Ohio's Opioid capital

Here is a link to a Canadian perspective  on opioid addiction in Portsmouth:


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Derek Allen Fired Again!

Friday, November 06, 2015

The Carpetbagger: from Piqua to Portsmouth

     [A reposting of a 2015 post on the occasion of the firing of Derek Allen as Portsmouth's city manager on Monday, November 18, 2017.]


       The opening sentence of a report in the Portsmouth Daily Times (PDT) by Frank Lewis posted online on 6 November 2015 states, “Portsmouth City Council will take action to authorize Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen to begin to advertise for bids and to enter into contracts with the lowest and/or best bidder for required supplies, materials and services for 2016.” According to the report by Lewis, “Yearly requirements include such items as manhole rings and covers, asphaltic concrete, uniforms for police and fire departments, chemicals for water filtration, police department radio maintenance and other equipment and services.” Lewis then details the costs of the new breathing apparatus the Fire Department needs. “The estimate from Breathing Air Systems lists the original price of $11,842, showing a 16 percent discount, bringing the cost to $9,947.28, less $1,000 for the trade-in of their existing unit, the new price is $8,947.28. Allen said there is an additional cost for shipping and installation of $819 and he is requesting an additional $1,000 for contingency.” Lewis then explains why the present breathing equipment is obsolete, an explanation which is even more complicated than the financial breakdown, so I won’t reproduce it here. 

       What I will emphasize here is that  one of the important details Lewis failed to mention, even in passing in his report, is that our carpetbagging city manager  who will put out for  bidding all services and materials that cost $50,000 or more, as required by state law, was himself guilty of violating state law regulating the purchase of materials when he was the assistant city manager in Piqua, Ohio, where he continues to  make his home, though his high paying job is in Portsmouth, which is why I call him a carpetbagger. Not only did Allen ten years ago break the law in purchasing $160,000 worth of gravel for a bike path without putting it out for bid, but he compounded his crime by lying under oath when he testified about the gravel purchase. (See the Celina Daily Standard report at the end of this post.) On the basis of his testimony, Allen was convicted of perjury and received a fine and a suspended jail sentence. Shouldn’t Lewis in his story on contract bidding at least have alluded, if only in passing, to Allen’s failure to follow state law about the bidding process in Piqua, where they probably would not hire him now as dogcatcher.  Because of the PDT's soft pedaling  of Allen's controversial career, as many as nine out of ten Portsmouth residents may have no knowledge of his criminal record, nor of his  inability to hold on to a job. Unlike honest investigative PDT reporters who lost their jobs when they reported something they shouldn’t have, Frank Lewis is a master not only of omission but also of innuendo. He knows not only whose toes should not be stepped on but also whose toes should be on behalf of the crooked clique. 

       For example, on November 4, in reporting on the results of the Portsmouth elections the day before, Lewis did not limit himself to reporting on Tom Lowe’s decisive victory in the Sixth Ward city council race; Lewis also alluded, as he had in the past,  to the alleged ganging up by Lowe and Shawn Stratton on the Sixth Ward incumbent Jeff Kleha in the primary election. “Stratton and Lowe were at the center of a controversy in the May Primary,” Lewis wrote, “when they seemingly teamed up to defeat incumbent councilman Portsmouth attorney Jeff Kleha, leaving him as the odd man out. It was that election in which the Scioto County Board of Elections allowed Sixth Ward voters to vote for two instead of one as had always been the practice of the city in previous elections.” The so-called “controversy” arose primarily not because of past election practices but because Kleha had been a political rubber stamp for  city manager Allen, who hated to lose him. Because Allen has a history of not being able to hold a job, he needs every city council member in his corner. It was not Stratton and Lowe but the voters in the Sixth Ward who made Kleha “the odd man out,” but Lewis does not see it that way. In reaction to Kleha being voted off city council, there will be an amendment on the March 2016 ballot to outlaw elections in which electors  can vote for more than one candidate. That amendment has Allen’s fingerprints all over it. The amendment serves  the purpose of further calling into question the legitimacy of Lowe sitting on the city council. The politics of Portsmouth are even dirtier under the city manager form of government than they were under the mayoral form of government. If only there was a Breathing Air System for readers of the Portsmouth Daily Times whose use of smoke and mirrors to mislead Portsmouth residents about the political corruption in one of the dirtiest drug-addicted cities in America.
       Tim Loper was elected to city council as a candidate who was strongly opposed to the city’s costly plan to renovate the decrepit Marting building into the new city hall, but once elected  as reformer, Loper became a tool of the corrupt clique that controls Portsmouth. The corrupt clique valued Loper so much that they provided him with a sham address in Ward One to allow him to continue on council even after he and his wife moved to another ward. Allen is a far more valuable tool to the corrupt clique than Loper ever was, and the PDT and Frank Lewis in particular will be careful not to step on Allen’s toes at the same time that they will be reminding residents that Lowe, should he continue to act  like a trouble-making reformer, had "seemingly" resorted to electoral chicanery to get on city council. If Lowe for any reason does not finish his four-year term, Kleha will be waiting in the wings to be appointed to the city council by the city council, which is how he got on council in the first place. Those foolish four-year terms  for city council are what enable the game of musical chairs to be played over and over again. Will we ever have a city council that will allow for the return of two-year terms, which will make recalls and musical chairs a thing of the past? Not when we have the likes of Jim Kalb and Jo Anne Aeh and the convicted perjurer like Derek Allen as city manager. I will end this post by reproducing a story from an Ohio newspaper that, unlike the PDT, does not use smoke and mirrors to protect convicted carpetbaggers.

From the Celina Daily Standard

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Elegy for Christine Keeler

         Christine Keeler (1942-2017)

Rest in peace, Christine Keeler,
far from the razor and potato peeler,

far from the drugged drug dealer
far from the groper and feeler.

You deserve a Shelley or Keats,
not  a yours truly who bleats

like some sore shallow throat 
who only gets one’s  goat.

Always a bridesmaid, always confetti,
always a male Christina Rossetti,

I dearly wish I had known you
and in the crisis could have phoned you.

I wish that I had been your friend,
and had been there at the end

to tell you what I wanted to say:
“Christine, have a great day!”


Rest in peace, Christine Keeler,
far from the weasel wheeler-dealer,

far from males who cheat,
far from gigolos in heat,

a poor, pretty party girl
caught up in the  social swirl

of London’s libertine  nightlife—
the bane of the pimp Profumo’s  wife,

an uncut diamond in the rough,
no lipstick, no powder puff,

no glutinous make-up
to get dry and cake-up,

no stiletto heels to kick up,
no husband after whom to pick up.

Your complexion was as clear
as a baby’s pampered rear,

as white a heavenly cloud 
as the drab London sky allowed.

  Keeler striding chair, c. 1963         

Friday, November 03, 2017


The main reason I an not voting for Kevin W. Johnson for First Ward council is that he has HIV/AIDs. His partner  died apparently from complications from that disease, and it is possible Johnson himself may die or at least be incapacitated by it.  If that happens the City Council will choose someone to complete his four-year term.

Too often council members for one reason or another do not complete their terms. If terms were for two years, instead of four, voters would have more electoral control. Having council members with HIV/AIDS gives the  council rather than voters the decisive voice in city government. HIV/AIDS is a threat not only to individuals but to democratic local government. Electing those with HIV/AIDS to city council borders on political suicide.

Friday, October 06, 2017


It's an apt symbol for our civilization.
It spins round in circles forever,
like the earth about the sun. 
Not only patriotic, it’s clever. 
And not only that, it’s metal,
hard, irresistible and glistening,
as bullets are frequently fatal
and ears are designed for listening.
Listen, listen closely, can’t you hear
it spinning, spinning, spinning?
"In God We Trust, have no fear.
We’re  winning, winning, winning."
Our deliverance is heaven sent.

It’s the Second Amendment.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Vote Against Property Tax Levy

Below is a copy of a letter Jane Murray sent to the Portsmouth Daily Times with her recommendation to vote against the proposed property tax levy on the November ballot.  I heartily endorse her recommendation.
                                                               Robert Forrey

October 06, 2017

Letter to the Editor
Portsmouth Daily Times

I urge all voters to vote AGAINST the proposed property tax levy on the November ballot. It is to fund the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Adams, Lawrence and Scioto Counties.

Why should we property owners pay for this? As far as I can determine, this Board merely contracts with other organizations to provide services. Those agencies are able to write grant proposals for drug addiction. The funds available are ever growing. The function of this board has been superseded by the Counseling Center and others so ADAMH should cease to exist – not ask for funds from property taxes.

We property owners who pay our taxes in Scioto County should not be asked to pay for drug addiction services. The former Executive Director of the Counseling Center, Ed Hughes, stated in a public meeting that his agency brings drug addicted people from around the state to our little community.

Vote AGAINST the proposed property taxes that will cost $100 on $100,000 assessed value per year.

Jane Murray

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The White House

The Elden House, built 1853

                                      The house has a secret
                                      that it cannot tell,
                                      a secret that, if revealed,
                                      would break the spell
                                      cast when it was built 
                                      in eighteen fifty-three,
                                      north of the Mason-Dixon,
                                      in the era of slavery.
                                      The dark secret skulks 
                                      behind a white exterior, 
                                      a secret that’s never
                                      been revealed before,
                                      and never will as long
                                      as the color line persists
                                      and as long as this historical
                                      white house poetically exists.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Conniving Councilman, the Perjured Puppet City Manager, and the Sociology Professor

Conniving City Councilman Kevin W. Johnson

It is reported in the Portsmouth Daily Times that Portsmouth City Manager Derek Allen (below), a convicted perjurer, claims he is swamped by his work load and needs an assistant.  Is he telling the truth? If he lied under oath in Piqua, what whoppers might he tell in Portsmouth where he is not under oath?  I have previously pointed out that Allen  is really a part-time city employee who lives a couple of hours drive away from Portsmouth in Piqua, Ohio. If he moved to Portsmouth full-time, maybe he would have more time to devote to his job . He was previously the city manager of Piqua until he lied under oath and was fired. How in the world did a convicted perjurer from Piqua end up as city manager of Portsmouth?

Derek Allen in a trash selfie

Because the conniving Portsmouth city councilman Kevin W. Johnson is the kingpin of Portsmouth politically, it is he more than anyone who turned Allen into a puppet city manager. As long as  Kevin W.  is the councilman for the First Ward, and Donald Trump is the president of the United States, the devil is  well represented at the local as well as the national level. But registered voters in the First Ward, of which I am one, have a choice in the next city election. Sean Dunne (below),  a First Ward resident and a sociology professor at Shawnee State University, is challenging the convicted perjurer Allen. Without the conniving Kevin W. to back him, Derek will be done and Dunne will be First Ward city councilman.

Sociology professor Sean Dunne

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Statues of Limitations

The controversy connected with Confederate statues and memorials recently erupted in violence at Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman died and a number of others at a rally were injured after being hit by an automobile driven by a twenty-something reportedly white racist male who is being held without bail. We have had for many years what is known as "road rage," but the Charlottesville fatality resulted more from what could be called "race rage."

Located on the northern side of the Ohio River, which unofficially marks the boundary between the vaguely defined northern and southern United States, Portsmouth, Ohio,  has one prominent statue, erected in 1879, which commemorates the first Union soldier from Scioto County to be killed in the Civil War. The Portsmouth statue, on a pillar worthy of Caesar Augustus, stands high over Tracy Park, near downtown Portsmouth, facing the Ohio River and Kentucky, which may be just a coincidence.

As a so-called border town, Portsmouth had southern sympathizers and the Ku Klux Klan, as I pointed out before in River Vices, was active in the town well into the twentieth century. Hell, the KKK was thriving in northern Ohio for a time. KKK membership was not limited, to use another racial stereotype, to rednecks. It seems very unlikely that the Tracy Park Union statue is in any danger of being pulled down. But we live in an increasingly rapidly changing, some would argue, alarmingly deteriorating times. Some towns in the South and possibly elsewhere, according the New York Times, have already passed ordinances and provisos that prohibit the removal of statues and memorials from public places, offering some legal protection for sacred carved cows.

Who could have imagined just five years ago a Donald Trump, a psychopathic narcissist, as he has been analyzed,  perhaps in part because of his flamboyant blond wig, being elected president of the United States? I still wake up some mornings thinking it's just a bad dream. The possibility, as hard as it now is to believe,  is that there might someday be a statue of President Donald Trump in Tracy Park, and in hundreds of other American parks and  plazas. It's within the realm of possibility, particularly if, like President Lincoln, he becomes a victim of "race rage."

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Lili St. Cyr

The crush he had on Lili as a kid
he kept secretly to himself.
He kept her photo hid
up on his closet shelf,

where it was long forgotten,
until now, an old man,
by time downtrodden,
he dreams of her behind her big fan.

For the Wikipedia entry for St. Cyr, click here.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Truculent Trump

      I recently perused A Book About Words, published in England in 1865. The curious latter-day Calvinistic thesis of the book is that words, reflecting the evil proclivities of human nature, tend to become negative and consequently “degenerate.” It occurred to me that at least one fairly common word, trump, may be undergoing an accelerated degeneration because of the the controversial career of Donald J. Trump, the truculent, dysfunctional 45th president of the United States.  
        The noun trump has as one of its meanings, according to the Third Edition of the International Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1968), “a dependable and exemplary person.” “He’s a trump,” are words of praise. But that sounds like the antithesis of what Donald J. Trump has unfortunately proved to be. It is trump as a verb that seems more appropriate for our president. Trump. As a transitive verb, to trump means to get the better of, or to override, as a trump card can in cards. To trump also means, more specifically, to get the better of someone, which might be described as Donald Trump’s modus operandi.
        Trump tried to get the better of the reading public by claiming to be
the co-author of The Art of the Deal (1987). Trump’s putative “co-author” Tony Schwartz claimed—and he was backed up by the publisher—that Trump had nothing to do with the writing of The Art of Deal. Trump continues to claim he did. Since lying is an integral part of “the art of the deal,” Trump naturally would lie about his part in the writing of the best selling book. One does not have to have a Ph.D. in psychology to see that the Donald is as incapable of writing a book as he is of thinking straight. If “the Donald” exemplifies anything, it is mindlessness. Trump acquired that nickname earlier in his loopy career. The word donald is not listed in Merriam-Webster, so I’m not sure why the nickname “the Donald” has stuck, though it might in part be because of Trump’s resemblance to Donald Duck, particularly in that cartoon character’s temper tantrums.

"Who sez I colluded with the Russkies?"

Sunday, July 09, 2017


I’m here to tell you, of this have no doubt,
smoking becomes what your life is about:
smoking in bed, before sex or after,
in the throes of tears or peals of laughter, 
smoking while soaking in the tub,
at a party or on the potty,
whether broke or rolling in clover,
at midnight or next day, hung over.
Of this, please, entertain no doubt:
that’s what smoking is really about.
You may be happy and photogenic,
but tobacco is carcinogenic.

Sunday, July 02, 2017


                The back of a Google Pixel

Each morning, in foul weather or fair,
I still walk down to the river
to make doubly sure it’s still there,
still flowing resolutely east to west,
dividing Ohio from Kentucky,
the liberal North from the conservative South
as far as my bleary eyes can see,
and even farther for the hawks on high.
When I’m assured nothing’s changed,
that no tug’s pushing four long barges
against the flow, as if deranged,
I turn to the business at hand:
my Google Pixel, with messages
that tell me what the day presages.

Friday, June 30, 2017

There was an Old Woman

Who in their right mind wants
to bring a child into this world
in which not only tropical fish
but coral reefs are imperiled,
in which global warming
is dismissed as fake news,
like when “the experts” predicted
Trump would definitely lose?
Have mercy on your grandchildren
by not having children of your own.
What did Eve need with progeny
when she already had a crazy bone?
And why didn't that woman in the shoe
cook all her kids in a mulligan stew?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Golden Shower

"An uncorroborated report circulated by U.S. intelligence alleges Russian security agents watched Trump engaging in perverted sexual acts.”                                                                                                                           News item

                               He’s a joke from Berlin to Beijing, 
                               this fool who’s our president,
                               who’s persistently pissing
                               into, not out of, the tent,

                               which is not surprising.
                               Not only does he not know
                               Berlin from Beijing
                               but his ass from his elbow;

                               and it may happen now and then
                               that he not only gets (ahem)
                               pissed off at bloody women
                               but gets pissed on by them.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Our Smiling Shitty Manager

What is Portsmouth's shitty manager, surrounded by trash, smiling about?

Portsmouth’s Shitty Manager, Derek Allen,  is in the news again (click here), not for perjury in Pequa but for attacking the homeless on his  Facebook page. Allen has put his foot in his big mouth dissing the poor and homeless as lazy panhandlers living in a tent city in Portsmouth. The story includes what might be the most telling photo (above) of Allen's career in which he beams stupidly, surrounded by the trash of tent city, posing in a selfie like a happy pig in a heavenly sty in the sky. Et tu, Porky?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Double-edge

The double-edge of old age
is that you forget so damn fast.
You no sooner turn the page
than you forget what you read last.

The novel renews itself 
by escaping from the past.
Books put in their place on the shelf 
decline politely to be typecast.

It’s as if you can live
life over, barely remembering,
as if memory’s a sieve,
flowing, not dismembering.

You see, you can relive the best
and bury the very worst,
pass the hardest test
and stand not last but first.

Your heirs might sadly think
that you’ve lost your mind,
or taken clandestinely to drink,
wondering if your will's signed.

It’s really none of the above.
You still have all your marbles.
Your heart sings like you’re in love, 
but your brain sometime warbles.

It’s not that you’re breaking laws
which old age is absently abetting.
It’s that the past’s not what it once was
and needs a hell of a lot of editing.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Avocado Cantata

          Still Life with Apple and Avocado by Dan Haraga

I had my first avocado in Las Vegas 
around 1953 when I was hitchhiking 
from Boston to sunny San Diego.
I had just turned twenty-one as I recall.
I was a college student in Vermont
majoring in English literature.
I’d never seen an avocado before
having grown up blue collar in Boston,
nominally Irish-Catholic,
I had eaten potatoes aplenty
until they were coming out of my ears—
boiled, baked, mashed, sliced, fried—“variety
was the splice of life,” my queer uncle said.
Not that he’d ever tried avocados
or anyone else in my family.
My reaction to my first avocado
was that it had no taste at all, nothing.
You had to develop a taste for it.
At least that’s what i told myself at first.
It was like chewing a lot of nothing.
I thought of it as “Vacant and voluptuous.”
That was the English lit major speaking.
What kind of poem might Keats have written 
about the avocado? “Hail to thee, 
Alligator Pear, puzzling forbidden fruit!”

Adam would have decried its tastelessness, 
Eve snickering at the sour face he made
when he bit into it for the first time.
I developed a taste for them that summer
in San Diego where they were a staple,
Mexico being the world’s major source. 
An avocado afficionado, 
I moved to San Diego with my B.A.
from Middlebury in Vermont
to pursue a Ph.D. at U.C.S.D..
writing my dissertation on 
“Keats’ Unconscious Craving for Avocados.”

I credit my advanced age to exercise and diet—
of which avocados were the staff of life.
“I’m eighty-seven going on nine-hundred,” 
is what I say when asked how old I am. 
But the truth is avocados and age
became much too much of a good thing.
I regret living as long as I have
and being crazy about avocados
from which I want an eternal vacation.
Even without any major illness,
life in the end is a pain in the ass
and I refer not just to hemorrhoids.
Global warming is now a reality,
not just a stark, hellish hypothesis.

The shelf life of picked avocados is brief
in contrast to which apples are Methuselahs,
but in global warming an avocado
is like a snowball in hell or a popsicle
in a pizza oven in Pensacola.
A peeled avocado is fresh as long
as a firefly’s flash lasts, which is about,
roughly speaking, 0.76 of a second.
The edibility of peeled avocados
can be lengthened with refrigeration
and polyethylene food wrap.
But what’s the point of it all?
Of life I mean, which will become
intolerable in the lives of our children,
which I thankfully have had none.
It’s a small consolation but I don’t
have to think about progeny
roasting in Canada and Siberia
which will be crowded with refugees
and where avocados will be sold
on street corners because in
tropical climates they will grow
profusely as fruit on trees,
which is what they can’t help being.

                        Robert Forrey

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


She was so unlovable the birds
would stop singing when she was near,
parrots be at a loss for words,
and blue skies would turn drear.
Spring  would come late as possible,
and summer seem so very far
and winter even more terrible 
than March in Antarctica.
Personally she was a wet towel
who was rarely ever in fashion.
Her smile was more a scowl
and worst of all she was never fun. 
But I loved her madly, for all her faults,
which I proved by doing somersaults.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Structure and Meaning


Thinking a lot about suicide
gives his life meaning and structure
separates the ephemeral from the puncture
that caused the crash fifty-two years ago
that killed his mother and brother
but left him unscathed with hardly
a scratch, just an inane ability
to recall the moment of impact
his VW bug colliding head-on 
with the fucked-up scrap iron truck 
that was in the wrong lane
because of the puncture
that caused him to lose control
with only one headlight
which made him think he was about
to hit a stupid motorcyclist
when normally he was trying
to refrain from swerving into
some unlucky son-of-a-bitch
who woke up that morning
without any inkling that somebody
namely him, who felt thinking a lot
about suicide gave his life
structure and meaning, was going
to crash into someone without blinking.

Doubting Mantis

The form precipitation took—
a pitiful, will-o’-the-wisp mist—
would have disappointed even
a dyed-in-the-wool optimist.

So a Mantis praying
for the end of the drought
looked like a grasshopper
discombobulated by doubt.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Sonnet on Sunday

                          Billy Sunday Preaching

Like Clark Kent in a telephone booth,
Billy’s favorite colors were red, white and blue.
His favorite truth was the gospel truth—
he was one of Our Pilot’s great ground crew.
If he did not know what the future would be,
or what each wrinkle in time’s brow portended,
he nonetheless knew with great certainty  
it would be what the Good Lord intended.
If anything ever appears amiss,
Billy said it was just the perspective.
First turn a bit that way and then turn this
until you see the corroborative.
Nothing’s impossible for a man of faith
provided he believes what the Good Book saith.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Obscene Jester

"Mr. Met's Obscene Gesture Makes Crazy Season Even Crazier."
                                                          N.Y. Times

Mr. Met gave fans the finger?
On this let us not linger.
Yes, he has a big head,
But he’s not brain dead.
And furthermore, unlike Trump,
He doesn’t fire the ump.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Discrimination in Arkansas?

       Last night I watched a 1944 Hollywood movie I’m from Arkansas. It is what was called a “B movie,” meaning it was low-budget, made to satisfy the film appetite of the large movie going public of that era. If there was a double feature, it would have been the B rather than the A attraction. There were no well known actors or actresses in it. The leading character was played by Slim Summerville, hardly a star, though he appeared in about a hundred silent and sound movies. That's him in the lower right-hand corner of the poster above.
       Only after I watched I’m from Arkansas did it occur to me that there were no black characters in it, not even in menial roles as servants, not even the face of a black or two in a crowd scene. Arkansas is not in the deep South. like Alabama or Mississippi, where blacks are a large minority. But Arkansas is a border state and had about a 15 percent black population in the 1940s. Why then was there not one black in I’m from Arkansas? The director, Lew Landers, was from New York City. He had changed his last name, presumably because it sounded Jewish. It is unlikely he was prejudiced against blacks. Since blacks were confined to menial roles, maybe somebody decided it was better to have no blacks than menial ones, such as the appalling racist black stereotype Stepin Fetchit, billed as “The Laziest Man in the World.”
       Lacking the lazy black stereotype, what I’m from Arkansas does have is an incredibly lazy Appalachian father and son pair, the father played by Slim Summerville and the son by a cretin-looking young actor. When I arrived in Portsmouth back in 1989, I recall a Portsmouth resident observing that Appalachians, or "rednecks," were the last American minority that you could still make fun of without fear of criticism. I’m from Arkansas ridicules Appalachians as if they were all palookas. What's a palooka? You can see for yourself in the 1934 movie Palooka. Both of these movies are available on YouTube.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Post Trump Stress Disorder

Melania Trump's colorful, $51,500 jacket

       As is generally known the acronym PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I saw recently online the christening of Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the need for which arose because we have as president of the United States a mentally unhinged man who illustrates vividly the expression "there is no there there." We wait from day to day to wake up and read what crazy thing the unpredictable Trump has said or done the day before. So perhaps we should speak of both a Post and Pre-Trump Stress Disorder. Trump recently impulsively went on a European  extended tour to distract from the encroaching calamity surrounding the goings-on and "gonnections" (to work in the Great Gatsby) of his White House adviser  and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is the husband of Trump's daughter Ivanka. The issue with Jared, or one of the issues, is his possible political and/or financial collusion with the Russians. In spite of the fact that Trump visited the scowling Pope to sponge on the Pontiff's piety, Trump's trip did nothing to quell the Jared Kushner controversy, which might lead eventually to Trump's impeachment or resignation.

       It is not just Trump and Kushner who keep us wondering what the New York Times will be reporting next about Trump et al. Trump's wife Milania's mania for clothes, and her frequent changes of expensive costumes,  provides grist for the media mill. The minx's colorful puffy jacket alone, which looks like a giddy eskimo getup, caused a sensation. It reportedly cost in excess of $50,000 in spite of not having a scintilla of mink, let alone an inch of chinchilla. There were reports early on that early on in her career Milania had been a high-priced prostitute, but the press respectfully, perhaps out of deference to the oval office, refrained from repeating that rumor. But what male politician has not had to be a high-priced prostitute in his rise to higher office, at the same time keeping any cross dressing jackets and Weinerish sexting tendencies in check?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Pillars of Pretentiousness and Hypocrisy

The 1810 House

          There is  an op-ed piece by David Leonhardt in The New York Times dated May 25, 2017, titled “The Assault on Colleges— and the American Dream.” I read it wondering, since there were 171 colleges included in it, if Shawnee State University  in Portsmouth, Ohio, was among them. It wasn’t.  I ended my career teaching at Shawnee State, having retired in 2012, so I have more than an academic interest in it. Having been founded relatively recently, in 1986, SSU is the new kid on the state college block in Ohio, being the newest public college. It is relatively small in terms of campus size and student enrollment. But there is another reason SSU is relatively unknown, and that is  its location. Portsmouth is located in the south-central  Appalachian region of Ohio, the boondocks of the Buckeye state. Historically, there has been a stigma attached to Appalachia as an economically and culturally backward region. This  was the case particularly in popular culture, in radio, movies, and on the stage in the first half of the twentieth century. Li’l Abner did more to stigmatize and poke fun at Appalachia than any other fictional character. Where was Abner’s creator Al Capp (1909-1979) from? Appalachia? No, New Haven, Connecticut, home of Yale University, which in the first half of the twentieth century was one of the most elite and snobbish colleges in the country. Yale and Dogpatch were diametrically opposite cultural entities.

         One of Portsmouth’s biggest problems is its inferiority complex, which it owes at least in part to its being Appalachian. I have already suggested on this website that the architectural embodiment of Portsmouth Southern hypocrisy is the 1810 House with those pretentious white pillars, which were not there during the Civil War but were added early in the 20th century.* They are not pillars of strength. They are pillars of pretentiousness. Many of the earliest settlers of Portsmouth came not from the South but from Appalachia. They were not plantation people from the Deep South. They were for the most part, at least those who were not carpetbaggers,  hill people from Kentucky and West Virginia.

       The trouble is Portsmouth won’t admit it’s Appalachian. It wants to pretend it’s Southern, not Appalachian. What is its official motto? “Where Southern hospitality begins.”  A more apt title would be, “Where Southern hypocrisy begins.” One of the roles SSU might assume is dispelling the Southern hospitality myth and embracing, as a certain number of Scioto County residents proudly do, their Appalachian heritage.

*Click here: http://rivervices.blogspot.com/2015/09/301-front-st-unpretentious.html

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Some Things a Poem Can and Can’t Do

            Exhibition of Mark Rothko's Black Paintings
                     at the National Gallery of Art

A poem can’t raise the dead, and it can’t
stop a rising river flooding the marsh;
It cannot brook toleration of cant,
cannot sweeten a suite that’s harsh.
A poem can’t wet a wilting flower,
it can’t end even the mildest drought.
It can’t right a slightly tilting tower,
nor relieve a gourmandizer’s gout.
What a poem can sometimes do is inspire,
or sometimes, more humorously, amuse.
A poem can express love, grief, or ire,
but it cannot drink or replace a fuse.
As has been true since at least the Fall, 
it can do some things well, others not at all.

                                    Robert Forrey

The Insane Sonnet

Winking the eye happens everywhere,
early morning, at noon, not just at night.
Winking the eye’s a meme in Shakespeare,
the me and the thee united in sight.
Winking the eye is love’s opening ploy,
the fond first move, the shy winking glance.
It is hard to resist Venus’ sly boy,
who prefers winking to the song and dance. 
Both in the boudoir and crowded harem. 
where females practice winking from the start,
Love at First Wink is love’s hoary anthem,
a song fondly sung by the faint of heart.
And it all begins with winking the eye,
so the me and the thee can deny the I. 

                                Robert Forrey