Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) – “Stage of the Nation”

Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA)

After celebrating its golden anniversary and the milestone of receiving a Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2017, the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) welcomes its 51st theater season with another breakthrough.

From September 2018 – June 2019, PETA devotes all aspects of its artistic and teaching practice to “Stage of the Nation”, a creative campaign that hopes to utilize the arts and engage artists to contribute to the discourses that concern our nation.

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PETA is among the recipients of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards. Widely considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in Asia, the Magsaysay Awards are typically given to paragons in government service, public service and community leadership. But in a rare distinction for an organization in the arts and culture sector, PETA was lauded for “its bold, collective contributions in shaping the theater arts as a force for social change, its impassioned, unwavering work in empowering communities in the Philippines, and the shining example it has set as one of the leading organizations of its kind in Asia.”

Five decades of making Philippine theater history

Our Network

Through the years, PETA has remained as one of the top theater organizations in the country. In it’s almost 50 years in the industry, the company has developed a multitude creative theater artists who believe in PETA’s vision of empowering a citizenry through theater arts. It has also built a network of partners who value culture as medium for change, and believe that theater can be a tool for education, social change and development.

Public and private schools nationwide
400
NGOs and community-based organizations
45
Student theater groups
25
Local government units
20
Local and International donor agenicies
10
Local and international and education organizations
25
Media partners
35

 PETA has distinguished itself as a pioneer in stimulating and advancing progressive, critical and creative arts, rooted in the realities and dreams of the Filipino people.

– Terre des Hommes Germany in Southeast Asia (TDHG)

 ICCO has been supporting PETA for many years because we think PETA is an effective instrument for the development of democratic culture in the Philippines. PETA, in a very creative way, stimulates a critical reflection on important issues of Philippine society.

– Interchurch Organization For Development Cooperation (ICCO has been supporting PETA)

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  • Address: The PETA Theater Center No.5 Eymard Drive, New Manila Quezon City, Metro Manila 1112 Philippines
  • Phone: 632-725-6244
  • Fax: 632-722-6911 or 632-410-0821
  • Email: petafr@petatheater.com  Philliipe
    All rights are reserved by PETA Copyright 2016.

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Lino Brocka: The PHILIPPINES’ Greatest Director and dear friend

Lino Brocka: The Philippines’ Greatest Director

Lino Brocka was a radical filmmaker whose socially conscious films explored the plight of the marginalized and ignored sectors of Filipino society. Maria Soriano explores his trailblazing life and career, and looks at his films, which are unfortunately unattainable outside of The Philippines.
Catalino Ortiz Brocka, more famously known as Lino Brocka, was one of the Philippines’ greatest auteurs. He was born in Pilar, Sorsogon in 1939. His father Regino, who was a huge influence on Brocka, teaching him Maths and English as well as the Arts, was killed in a political murder when Brocka was still young. Brocka, along with his mother and brother, had to flee to live with his mother’s sister. But a good life was far from reach as he and his family suffered physical and verbal abuse from his relatives and were forced to do hard labour, an experience he would carry with him throughout his career as a director.

Brocka developed a strong interest in films during his youth, particularly Americanfilms, and despite his poor upbringing he managed to flourish academically and won a college scholarship in the country’s leading academic institute, the University of The Philippines. Initially majoring in pre-law, he dropped the course to study literature instead. While studying at the University, he joined the Dramatic Club but was criticized for his provincial accent and demeanour, a treatment that disgusted him. Brocka took it upon himself to watch his beloved American movies to practice his English further and improve his accent, a move that eventually gained him acceptance in the club, but only as a stage hand. After dropping out of college, he converted to Mormonism and devoted himself to missionary work, travelling to a leper colony in Hawaii. He then travelled to America and worked menial jobs in San Francisco for a brief period of time before turning down a chance for American citizenship, opting instead to return to the Philippines to revive his interest in filmmaking.

He joined the Philippine Educational Theatre Association where he met its founder Cecille Guidote, which led to the making of his first film, 1970’s Wanted: Perfect Mother, a box-office hit based on The Sound of Music, the only film he has made that was not heavy on social injustice and drama. From then on, Brocka’s films became more personal, his filmography depicting the plights and suffering of the Filipino people. Some of his best works are Insiang (1978), a revenge tale of a girl’s rape by her mother’s lover, which became the first entry by a Filipino filmmaker at the Cannes Festival, earning him the prestigious Palm d’Or. Manila: In The Claws of Darkness(1976), Jaguar (1980), and Bayan Ko (My Country, 1984) were also nominated for the award, further cementing his reputation as one of the greatest directors to come out of South East Asia.

Brocka’s films are very character driven, magnifying the oppression and neglect of the common citizen, the poor everyman barely scrapping by while fighting off abuse from the system. He often cast unknown actors to focus more on the story and not on the celebrity. Actors such as Bembol Roco, Hilda Koronel and Laurice Guillen are amongst the unknown actors that worked with him repeatedly for years, eventually becoming stars in their own right. Alongside his socially conscious films Brocka also discussed themes of sexuality, which filmmakers during his time tended to avoid. Despite his Mormon faith, Brocka was openly gay and homosexual themes were often a big part of the narratives of his films, as was showing sexually confident and strong-spirited women. Brocka’s films highlight the marginalised and ignored sectors of society- the slum dwellers, prostitutes, street hustlers, as well as those who were discriminated against simply because of gender or sexuality – subjects that no other director dared to touch, especially while under the Marcos dictatorship.

Manila: In The Claws of Darkness explores the prostitution of provincial girls and their hand-to-mouth existence in the city, while Jaguar, which many see as a companion piece to Manila: In The Claws of Darkness, is about a kind hearted country boy named Poldo who works in the city as a security guard and is drawn into the seedy underbelly of city life. Brocka manifests himself and his upbringing in his films by using naïve country folk, just as he once was, trying their luck in the city and finding out the hard way that the promise of a good life is nothing but an illusion. The gritty violence and voracious lack of morals in his films can be overwhelming, but it elicits a certain moral response from the audience that makes them very aware of the depressing state of affairs in society.

Under the Marcos regime, strict censorship was enforced in the media and Brocka was forced to smuggle his films out of the country for screenings to avoid heavy cuts. In 1984, he flew to Cannes to support another nomination for Bayan Ko (My Country). In his fight for freedom of speech, he declared that the Marcos dictatorship had taken control of the Philippine media for its enforcement of censorship, which resulted in his arrest and imprisonment along with other journalists and filmmakers upon his return to the Philippines.

He was released from jail after the fall of Marcos and was invited by Corazon Aquino, Marcos’ successor, to be part of a committee to draft the 1986 constitution but left soon after as he felt that many of the policies worked against the Filipino people. He protested against the new government by making radical films such as Ora Pro Nobis(1989) and Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak (1990), with Ora earning him yet another Palm d’Or nomination.

Lino Brocka died in a car accident on May 21, 1991. His untimely death did not stop his long and hard fight for social justice as he was posthumously awarded the National Artist Award and is considered, to this day, the greatest social realist, and the greatest director, the Philippines has produced.

Randy Ford and his wife Peggy were close friend of Lino and have many fond memories of him

FILM & TV

How Cinematheque Centre Manila Helps Us Understand Filipino Film Culture

Hollywood Films That Were Shot in the Philippines

FILM & TV

Must-Watch Filipino Comedies

HISTORY

The Life and Legacy of José Rizal: National Hero of The Philippines

12 of the Most Influential Chinese Film Directors

The 10 Best Books in Modern Philippine Literature

The 7 Most Legendary Filipino Authors

ART

The Power Of Filipino Expressionism: Artists Interpret The Marcos Dictatorship

16 English Words and Sayings Travellers Won’t Understand in the Philippines

KEEP GOING

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Curt Stubbs Gay Poet – de Joel and other poems

de joel

by Curt Stubbs

In the April darkness a child squalls,

Abandoned by his mother, put up for adoption,

unwanted for 11 months.  I never knew he was there.

I never comforted his fears. I never held him against the darkness,

but he grew through all the traumas of childhood,

perhaps magnified by his cleft palette,

and I still didn’t know he was there.

I never taught him to throw a perfect spiral pass,

I never taught him to throw a wicked curve ball,

I never taught him to ride a two wheel bike.

I was never there for his teen aged angst.

I was too involved in the pursuit of the perfect high, the mainline drunk.

even so he grew to manhood, pursued and won a wife, fathered little Erynn.

She never cried in the night, I bet,  lonely and not knowing who her father was.

I never even knew I had fathered a son.

By my seventieth year I had calmed down,  I had grown responsible,

learned to take care of myself.

But by then he didn’t need my care, my hard earned lessons.

He had all the things I never had, a career, a family,

a certainty about his place in the world.

Then he matched dna with me, found me

and I was startled out of my complacency.

and I finally knew where he was.

Curt Stubbs

3880 N Park Place  apt. A

Tucson, AZ.

857119 curtstubbs69@gmail.com

 

STONEWALL TRILOGY

by Curt Stubbs

1.    Before Stonewall

A theater showing grunting Gay porn.

Blue light voyeurs sitting alone in the dark.

An approach … tentative… nodding assent.

Mutual furtive hand jobs under humping coats.

An escaping sigh, a stabbing light.

Chuckle.  “What you boys doing here in the dark?

Zip it up.  We’re going downtown.”

A meek trip in a paddy wagon.

Coats hiding heads / faces / self-respect.

 

Closets are built of billi clubs and baseball bats

wielded by cops or fag bashers,

The certainty of fear,

the uncertainty of brutality,

keep people from going out,

holding hands, showing intimacy.

“You a faggot?” shove, “I asked

you a faggot?”  You deny it,

but they shove again.

“You scared of me faggot?”

Again you deny your internal identity.

They hit you anyway,

blow after blow.

Broken bones, cracked skull,

internal damage, all depending

on how many attack you.

At first you don’t go out

because of the bruises.

Then because of fear,

your loss of self-respect.

 

A mafia owned bar.  Watered down

twice-priced drinks add insult.

A bouncer at the door to signal

an approaching raid.  Men and women

dancing with men and women to switch

when the bouncer hits the light switch,

boys and girls to switch to opposite sexes,

“Ok girls, you better have two pieces

of men’s apparel under those frocks.

Show time now girls.  Show and tell.”

A meek trip in a paddy wagon,

coats hiding heads / faces / self-respect.

 

Newspapers list those arrested, addresses, jobs.

Loss of homes / jobs / self-respect.

Lives of quiet desperation.

 

2.  The Stonewall Uprising

Street queens, hustlers, homeless youth, those

with nothing left to lose.

A mafia run bar that had not paid off the police,

a raid expecting quiet acquiescence

as in the past.  “OK all you dykes and faggots.

We’re going on a little trip.

Everybody in the paddy wagons.”

Maybe Judy Garland’s funeral has long fanned the flames.

Maybe an arrestee’s plunge from an upper story

police station window and impalement

on the iron fence below.

Maybe they were just sick and tired

of being sick and tired.  A whole lot of maybes

fought back, fought, the cops, threw copper pennies

at the coppers, locked them

inside the bar, uprooted a parking meter

to batter down the solid wooden door.

Inside the scared police lodged

a cigarette machine against the door

to keep the angry, growing mob out,

open unashamed faces / self-respect.

Six nights of taunting “Lilly Law.”

Always circling around the block

top confront the police phalanxes.

Kick lines taunting, throwing bottles,

bricks and witty insults.

60’s protests came to the Gay community.

Kick line sings: “We are the Stonewall girls.

We wear our hair in curls.

We don’t wear underwear,

We show our pubic hair.”

and other such slacious songs.

More performance art than riot

 

3.   After Stonewall

Riot leads to the Gay Liberation Front.

Leads to one year later – a commemorative march.

Will a hundred show their faces?

Saw thousand! marching proud and free.

G. L. F. all over the country – the world.

Fight the laws, the American Psychiatric Association,

change the definition of mental illness.

Everybody’s doing it, doing it, doing it

in the bars, parks and bath houes.

No limp-wristed faggots here.

Moustaches, leather men, gym toned bodies.

Then Redrum = AIDS spelled backwards.

Fear, decimation, abandonment by those in power.

Fighting Falwell’s lies for self-respect,

Fight back – ACT UP – silence = death.

Chalk outlined die-in at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Come out, come out whoever you are,

you sick bastards.

Lesbians tending the living,

dying Gay men.

450,000 March on Washington.

Thousands of grave-sized quilts

to mark those who’ve gone before .

Silence = death.

5000 couples speak their commitments

a forecast of things to come.

Soldiers don’t ask,

and sailors don’t tell

abolished – stories of abuse.

Lawrence Vs. Texas goes all the way

to the Supreme Court

making consensual sex legal at last.

Everybody’s doing it, doing it, doing it,

leaving closets burning in their wake.

Courts everywhere striking down anti-marriage laws.

President Obama mentions Stonewall

with other freedom sites.

Who’s next?  Who’s next?

 

Curt Stubbs

curtstubbs69@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

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Robert Flynn (author) – STANDING ON THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD

Bob’s Story:

 
I was born at home in a house surrounded by cotton fields.  A few miles to the east and we would would have been in an oil field.  A few miles west and we would have been on land good for nothing but running cows and chasing jackrabbits.  My grandfather had been tricked into buying the only place in twenty miles that would grow cotton.
 
It was in the cotton field that I first learned the power of the English language.  Those who chopped cotton with a hoe were not called hoers.  As my mother explained to me with a switch.  It occurred to me that if the wrong word like hoer had the power to move my mother to such action, just think what using the right word like hoe hand could accomplish.
 
That was when I first got the notion of being a writer.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  We didn’t go in much for writing at the country school I attended.  We studied penmanship.  But we knew what a writer was.  A writer was somebody who was dead.  And if he was any good he had been dead a long time. If he was real good, people killed him. They killed him with hemlock. Hemlock was the Greek word for Freshman Composition.
 
The country school I attended was closed, and we were bused to Chillicothe. Chillicothe, Texas is small. Chillicothe is so small there’s only one Baptist Church. Chillicothe is so small you have to go to Quanah to have a coincidence.  For a good coincidence, you have to go to Vernon.  Chillicothe was fairly bursting with truth and beauty, and my teacher encouraged me to write something that had an epiphany.  For an epiphany, you had to go all the way to Wichita Falls.
 
Real writers wrote about such things as I had never heard of.Damsels.  Splendor falling on castle walls.  For splendor, we had to go to the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. Since I wasn’t overly familiar with damsels and  splendor, I tried reading what real writers wrote about rural life.  “Dear child of nature, let them rail.  There is a nest in a green vale.”  Which was pretty mystifying to me.  Didn’t writers get chiggers like everybody else?
 
It looked like for truth and beauty you had to cross Red River.  All I knew about was a little place called Chillicothe.  And it wasn’t even the Chillicothe that was on the map.  Truth in that mythical place was neither comic nor tragic, neither big nor eternal.  And it was revealed through the lives of common folk who belched and fornicated, and knew moments of courage, and saw beauty in their meager lives.  But I could not write about the people I knew without using the vocabulary they knew.  My father did not believe a cowboy said “golly bum” when a horse ran him through a bob wire fence.
 
Words are not casual things.  They are powerful.  Even explosive.  Words can start wars, or families.  Words can wound, they can shock and offend.  Words can also heal, and explain, and give hope and understanding.  Words have an intrinsic worth, and there is pride and delight in using the right word.  Anyone who chops cotton with an axe is a hoer.
(From “Truth and Beauty”)
 



THE REST OF THE STORY

In New Testament times, paper was expensive and writing laborious.  It is for that reason that some stories in the Gospels seem truncated.  Today you can learn The Rest of the Story:
 
The Good Deed, John 9:
 
Jesus spat on the ground and made some mud with the spittle; he rubbed the mud on the man’s eyes, and told him, “Go wash your face in the pool of Siloam.  So the man went, washed his face, and came back seeing.  His neighbors then, and the people who had seen him begging before this, asked, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?”
The rest of the story:
 
The following day, the man came to Jesus again, and said, “You have ruined my life.  I can’t read or write.  I don’t recognize numbers.  I have no skills.  And now my neighbors know I’m not blind.  How can I beg?  Are you going to let me starve?”  And Jesus spat on the ground again.

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Author | Teacher
Robert Flynn is well known
 for his Western Novels,
which are infused with
his wry sense of humor, as well as for his sometimes controversial opinions on religion, politics, war 
and the world at large.
 
Take a look at his blog, his novels and his other books to get a taste of his unique perspective and his highly skilled narrative and style.
NOW AVAILABLE in the Apple App Store: a new multimedia adventure, from award-winning author and Texas Literary Hall of Fame member Robert Flynn. Antarctica – If angels had blubber instead of flutter; if they sang Holy Cow instead of Hosanna, Antarctica would be paradise.
 
Beautiful beyond description because there is nothing else like it, endlessly fascinating–an everlasting exhibit of iceberg sculptures as discrete as snowflakes, penguins porpoising like synchronized swimmers, the blowing of whales, the tympani of ice cracking and glaciers calving. It is seen only by the blessed and those who know it best fear the loss of it most.


Is doing the right thing the right thing to do? Riley O’Connor did what he was taught was right. When he told his story his listeners agreed he had done the right thing. But Riley was not convinced and became Jade, a feared and respected outlaw. Then he met a woman who could prove he did the right thing but she did what everyone knew was the wrong thing and refused to confess it.
 
 
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Robert Flynn
Flynn in 2008

Flynn in 2008
Born April 12, 1932 (age 87)
Chillicothe, Texas
Occupation Novelist
Genre Texas literatureWestern fiction, satire
Subject Texas, war, religion
Notable works North To Yesterday
Website
robert-flynn.net

Robert Flynn (né Robert Lopez Flynn; born 12 April 1932 Chillicothe, Texas) is an author and professor emeritus at Trinity University.

Styles and themes[edit]

Flynn’s early fame came with the novel, North to Yesterday, which was a national bestseller. In Don Quixote fashion, it mocked the legend of the cowboy in Western novels while paying homage to it at the same time (anticipating Larry McMurtry‘s Lonesome Dove). Later works focused on more modern themes: rural life, going to war, religion in modern times and conflicts between “small town morality” and mass media/pop culture.

Novels like In the House of the Lord explored more religious/spiritual themes. Wanderer Springs adopted the gently satirical tone of his earlier works while also examining the interconnectedness between people and families in a small Texas town (inviting comparison to writers like Elmer Kelton or Garrison Keillor). The Last Klick touches upon themes of his service in the Vietnam War (reminiscent of novelist Tim O’Brien). In his latest novel Tie-Fast Country, Flynn returns to earlier themes, depicting a grandmother rancher with a checkered past who is out of sync with contemporary life. (The narrator, on the other hand, is a TV news producer who has to confront her).

Flynn’s short stories touch upon more serious themes and are written perhaps with a more lyrical style.

In 2010 and 2011, Flynn published two novels through JoSara MeDia, Jade:Outlaw and its sequel, Jade: the Law. Both novels portray the grim realities of living in west Texas in the late 19th century where settlers/Indians/Mexicans frequently clash. Jade, the protagonist, is hired as an escort for cattle, guarding property and chasing after rustlers. He quickly discovers that just to do his job means getting involved in brutal situations that trouble his conscience. Jade ends up falling in love with Crow Poison, an Indian woman whose husband he had killed. Eventually he realizes that both sides have culpability. His outrage translates into a desire to fight for the sake of justice (even if it results in tragedy). At the end of the novel, Jade (with the support of his wife) agrees to serve as sheriff for his town (which becomes the basis for the sequel, Jade: The Law). Of this ebook, San Antonio Express News book reviewer Ed Conroy writes:[1] “Flynn brilliantly employs a directly simple, subtle and at times sardonic narrative voice to tell this tale. It is alternately tough and tender, succinct and sweet, cadenced to the clip-clop of a horse trotting down Main Street, the hullabaloo of a steam locomotive triumphantly making its way into town amid a jubilant crowd’s hoopla, and, of course, to the shots of guns of many kinds fired in self-defense, anger, treachery and haste….Through chronicling Jade’s struggles to bring some ordinary order into what eventually becomes Jade Town, Flynn makes clear that the cost of many of our male ancestors’ genocidal policies toward Indians, systematic abuse of women and fears of the “mongrelization” of the “white race” was massive social trauma of immensely tragic proportions.”

Flynn was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame in October 2012.[2]

Flynn taught writing to college students over four decades. In a 2007 audio interview,[3] he said, “You can read any book on writing fiction for example, and they will tell you the same thing. Someone may say it in a different way that gives you better insight, but there are no secrets in writing; it’s just a matter of doing it.”

Bibliography[edit]

Novels[edit]

  • North To Yesterday
  • In the House of the Lord
  • The Sounds of Rescue, The Signs of Hope
  • Wanderer Springs
  • The Last Klick
  • The Devil’s Tiger, with Dan Klepper
  • Tie-Fast Country
  • Jade: The Outlaw (ebook + pb) JoSara MeDia (September 1, 2010)
  • Jade: The Law (ebook + pb) JoSara MeDia (October 2011)

Vietnam Memoir[edit]

  • A Personal War In Vietnam

Short story collections[edit]

  • Living with the Hyenas
  • Seasonal Rain
  • Slouching towards Zion

Essays[edit]

  • When I was Just Your Age, oral histories, edited with Susan Russell
  • Growing Up a Sullen Baptist
  • Paul Baker and the Integration of Abilities

Religious/social essays[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reprinted in full on the Amazon.com Book page for this book
  2. ^ “Texas Literary Hall of Fame | Fort Worth Library”. Fortworthtexas.gov. Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  3. ^ “Texas author Robert Flynn Interview (2007)”Archive.org. Retrieved 3 April 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Art at Our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers and Artists featuring Robert Flynn. Edited by Nan Cuba and Riley Robinson (Trinity University Press, 2008).

External links[edit]

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Mathias B. Freese Author – Sanitizing Wernher  von Braun & Reviews of work

Sanitizing Wernher  von Braun

I advocate that the Wernher von Braun Center be renamed. Perhaps call it the Goring Complex, since Braun and Goring were members of the Nazi party. Goring’s Luftwaffe rained down death over Europe and Braun launched over 9,521 Cruise-like missiles to England, beginning on 13 June 1944. Braun’s membership in the Nazi Party is dated 12 November 1937 and his membership number is 5,730,692. If you need to reference this, use Wikipedia for basic facts. Or, if you require a more substantial historical source, any major work on the rise of Nazism will suffice. The English historian Sir Ian Kershaw is a reputable scholar of note on the period.

As a child of the Fifties I dimly recall von Braun with his affable Mr. Rogers panache, Germans label it gemuttlichkeit, on the Dave Garroway show getting all worked up explaining his proposed space station. There is a photo at the time of Disney and Braun, both in good spirits, enthusiasts. Braun was irresistible; that as a rocket scientist he built his V1 andV2 rockets (V for vengeance in German) at a slave labor camp on the Baltic Sea, Peenenunde, is washed over. The great German artist Kiefer has called such things a “conspiracy of silence.” In Operation Paper Clip the American government brought over Nazi scientists (the operative word is Nazi) to advance our rocketry and compete against the Russkies. The Russians took a helping of Nazi scientists as well. All societies, one philosopher has written, are essentially corrupt.

When I ride past the Braun Center on my way to Huntsville and read the bold letters of the center, I feel much like any black person seeing the Confederate flag beating against a post. I feel debased, forgotten, caught in a web of indifference. We speak of Holocaust deniers, yet those of us who are thoughtful and honorable citizens cannot widen their perspective to see that the von Braun Center as named is one consequence of Holocaust denial. Good people desecrate other good people by honoring a Nazi. I will say it for you – it is an abomination.

Indifference and moral sloth sustain Wernher von Braun in the minds of the Huntsville community. I am sure his memory and “good deeds” are reminiscent of Il Duce who made the trains run on time. What he has done for the citizens, fame and fortune, keep him a cherished personage. He is our “good Nazi.” Pick up a brochure in the center and you will find his past expunged or grossly mitigated. We call this collusion. This is the classic – historic – stance of the herd, always has been.

Having read considerably about von Braun and his vicious Nazi brother, Magnus von Braun, a chemical engineer who died peacefully in Arizona, Wernher expressed remarkable obliviousness to the slave workers who he viewed with total indifference. For they were objects in his mind; he was a base opportunist. Making his way to our country with the help of our government, he merchandised his scientific wizardry in a such a way the community absorbed him as one of its own. I suppose you might say he was a good immigrant. Huntsville metabolized him.

When I arrived two years ago to Alabama and observed my first Passover at Temple B’Nai Sholom in Huntsville, I noticed a police car stationed at the front door. Curious, I asked a woman congregant about that. She answered with an ancient tribal shrug which telegraphed 56 centuries of recorded history and I knew what she meant. Given my history, I would have situated Jewish men about the temple. I have less fear as an American Jew –that is why we are here. I also subscribe to the wise adage that if you forget you are a Jew, the world will remind you of it.

And when Easter arrives this year will you have police cars in front of your churches just in case?

My uncle was in the Battle of the Bulge, a sergeant and meted out swift justice to the SS he came across in the last days of the war. Awarded the Bronze Star, he knew who he was. My family has served in WW11 and Korea. And as for the role of Jews in the South, Jews fought for the Confederacy and Jews were in the cabinet of Jefferson Davis. Judah P. Benjamin, a fascinating character, served as both Secretary of State and Secretary of War. Col. Myers, a Jew, was the Quartermaster General of the Confederacy. And at the Nazi march at Charlottesville, I would know who to side with, Mr. President.

The Wernher von Braun Center is offensive to all of us. A toxic reminder of a Nazi who mingled, associated and appreciated Nazism, Alabaman Jews find it repugnant, insufferable, as I do.

In all his books, Elie Wiesel cautions us against indifference as he finds it pernicious and allows such men as von Braun to avoid condemnation, for he is beyond redemption, thousands suffered and died so he could make his tinker toys. Recently I’ve been informed that on his gravesite there is a marker with a biblical quotation that von Braun favored. Yes, to the end, the ever evangelistic and purveyor of things over men and women, goes boldly where no man has ever gone before (Did he know that Shatner and Nimoy were Jews?).

This anecdote of the first English Jewish Prime Minister, Disraeli, might serve as a coda. In Parliament a representative from Ireland rained down anti-Semitic abuse upon Disraeli. Why? No real reason; anti-Semitism is like mold, always in the air. Nevertheless, Disraeli kept still and when the representative had his say, he replied.

“Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of Right Honorable Gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon.

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF THE I TETRALOGY AND I …

Never begin a sentence with “well.” [a writer should break rules.]Well, writing, for me, was characterological. It was a consequence of a repressed and depressed childhood and adulthood. It was the spume of a discontented and directionless youth, of misspent energies and unclear goals. It was the product of an outer directed self. Aimless, un-fathered and un-mothered, I was benign neglect incarnate. There is much truth in the adage that we grow old too soon and smart too late.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

All of my books are not inspired; they are made from moving trends in my own personal reflections. When my thoughts founder upon a reef, I take the wreckage and begin to make order from disorder. A writer shapes experience. This book is a second memoir; the first was youth and young adulthood, lunacy, foolishness and recklessness; a land of mischief and misbehavior. The second memoir is more reflective, an older man’s thoughts, hopefully wiser, perhaps not; we are all fools until the day we die.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

In my memoir I carry on an imaginary conversation with Thoreau; however, he says nothing as I speak to him about the issues of my life. I keep Thoreau silent, for the questions I ask and the answers I get are solely of my own creation. The latent message of this literary conceit is awareness, or the awakening of intelligence, to cite Krishnamurti. Thoreau, as I see him, was consumed by the meaning of experience, of how to live an aware existence. In many ways he was a scold, hectoring us, berating us, pushing and shoving us into assessing what we are doing as human lives from moment to moment. I have been obsessed, if that is the word, with understanding who I am, and how to deal with existence since a young man. And so my affinity for Thoreau. This is an old man’s memoir filled with a young man’s ardor and exuberance.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I am free. [“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”—Kazantzakis] I took an arrow from my quiver and it read memoir and I tried this genre free of whatever memoirs are supposed to be.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

All the characters in my stories and essays and novel and memoirs emanate from me., at the very least are projections of myself. The essential questions I ask are ones of meaning, intention and purpose in life. In the last essay of my memoir I ask all the questions I have ever asked of myself to an imaginary Thoreau. I would hope the reader attaches his kite to mine and sets flight.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I am not interested in my readership. I have deconditioned myself from that. I have no interest in twitter and all the rest. I try to get my books reviewed or seen without going nuts over it. I write for my pleasure, to divine who I am. I write for no one else. To write for others is a kind of emptiness, or outer-directedness. Who said I had to have readers? Who said I have to be read? What is it I want is all that matters. I sell a smattering of books and engage a few people in literary discussion such as this piece, but that is all. I march to a different drummer.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Advice is generally used or secondhand; use it sparingly. It must always be questioned. With that caveat, I’ll say the following. Constantly reference yourself; look up quaquaversal which appears in my memoir. It is the source from which other things emanate. Trust yourself. Techniques can be learned and schools can teach that; but since you are the last of your kind, and no one will be like you ever again, it’s best to discover all you can about yourself through mentors, philosophers, therapists and most importantly the awakening of intelligence. Continually decondition yourself of state, religion and authorities of any kind. When you are free, your writing will be a song.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I may have written my last book. I am not sure. I hear fragments in my mind that may turn out to be stories. To wit, “It is here. Oh my…Oh my….” Strikes me ominously. I’ll see. I have no future. I have the moment, so why waste time on a future tense.                                 

And Then I Am Gone: A Walk with Thoreau tells the Story of a New York City
man who becomes an Alabama man. Despite his radical migration to simpler

A Thought Provoking Journey of Self-Reflection, Author Anthony Avina

By Anthony Avina  

One of the most thought provoking memoirs in recent years challenges readers to examine not only the world around them but how they are living their lives in author Mathias B. Freese’s novel

And Then I Am Gone: A Walk With Thoreau. Here’s the full synopsis:   Freese wishes to share how and why he came to Harvest, Alabama (both literally and figuratively), to impart his existential impressions and concerns, and to leave his mark before he is gone.

This was one of the most unique and creative memoirs I’ve read in recent years. The story of the author’s journey in his later years in life allow us as readers to take the time to appreciate not only our own lives, but challenges us to think critically and take the time to find meaning in our lives. It does a marvelous job of using past life experiences, history, humor and classic pop culture reference  s to contemplate the current state of our world. From the rise of Donald Trump as the United States President and what it says about the mentality of the nation as a whole to the hours spent on subjects like religion and life views that end up dividing us when there’s no need for it, this book is a perfect read for anyone looking to find meaning and purpose.

Written almost like a diary entry or an actual conversation between the author and the philosopher Henry David Thoreau himself, this story exudes insight, psychology and honesty. It shows the power of hope in tumultuous times, while also showing the history of the world and the threat of being doomed to repeat it in our modern times. It’s as much a reflection on our society as it is on himself, and despite the title’s ominous overtones, this story is not one of loss and hopelessness but one of learning from our own pasts and finding the will to reflect on our lives and come to terms with it. It’s a story of love, loss and life itself, and deserves to be read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copies of And Then I Am Gone: A Walk With Thoreau by Mathias B. Freese tod

Latest Review

Book Review: And Then I Am Gone-A Walk with Thoreau by Mathias B Freese

Posted by bookishjen in And Then I Am Gone, Baby Boomers, Book Reviews, Books, Culture, Faith, Family, Henry David Thoreau, Inspiration, Love, Marriage, Mathias B Freese, Memoirs, Mental Illness, New York city, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, Politics, Self-Help, Uncategorized, Walden Pond, Writing and-then-i-am-gone-book-cover-200×300

There is one thing people realize once they come to their “twilight” years. They have more of a past than a future. This is a time when they often take stock of their lives – good, the bad and the ugly. Writer, teacher and psychotherapist Mathias B. Freese is one these people, and now he shares his journey in his thoughtful memoir And Then I Am Gone: A Walk with Thoreau.

Thoreau, of course is Henry David Thoreau author of the classic Walden Pond, which many of us probably read back in high school. For Freese, Thoreau is a muse who guides him during his journey of self-examination. Ultimately Freese is asking himself, not the cliché “What is the meaning of life?” but “What is the meaning of my life.”

And Then I Am Gone is divided into two parts. Part one sets up the tone for the book and provides several chapters focusing on moving to Alabama, finding happiness with Nina, a past love affair, his relationship with his children and his own childhood, his thoughts on Trump, writer Norman Mailer, the movie Citizen Kane, and Thoreau as therapy. Part two focuses on Freese’s new life in a new home, his journey with Thoreau and coming to grips with his own mortality.

Born and bred in New York City, Freese is a secular Jewish man now living in Alabama with his southern belle, Nina, an Irish-American Roman Catholic. Not surprisingly, Freese finds country life below the Mason-Dixon line a complete cultural shock and often has difficulty navigating a world so different from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, it does force him to come to grips with his past. Freese has had success with his professional life, but his personal life was often in shambles. Childhood was difficult with a mother suffering with mental illness. Freese has been married and divorced a few times, and is also estranged from his daughter but is closer to his son Jordan.

Okay, Thoreau. Just what is life all about, hmm? Freese wants to know, You wrote a damn book about it. Surely you’ve got the goods. Now pony up!

Freese has questions and Thoreau provides answers, which often leads to Freese having more questions. Needless, say this can be quite maddening, which often leaves Freese feeling downright pessimistic.

But as I kept reading And Then I Am Gone, I thought to myself. Well, maybe we’re not always meant to have all the answers to our questions after we ask them, whether we ask Thoreau, our best friend, a therapist, our horoscope or a stranger on the street. At times those answers will leave us not exactly happy or more confused than before. Or sometimes we will find clear, concise advice or wise counsel in a time of confusion (especially in one of the most messed times in our nation’s history).

I found Freese’s book to be a true inspiration as I go through my own journey of self-exploration and after year of great difficulty, self-care. There are times I look for answers and feel nothing but despair and at times I feel true joy. We’re not supposed to solve the mysteries life and just accept things are going to be murky. At times we live life to the fullest and at times we are slackers on the couch. we should just live our lives the best we can before we are shuttled off this mortal coil.

I also appreciated Freese’s vivid style of writing. He can be a curmudgeon but he’s also wise, funny, a true storyteller. And Then I Am Gone is a treasure of a book.

Now if only I had kept that copy of Walden’s Pond….

Review by Udita Banerjee
BOOK TOUR REVIEW by A.E ALBERT
40/150 “Sunflowers” Sarah Rishel
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Catherine Ann Jones Award Winning Author, Screenwriter -The Way of Story, & Freud’s Oracle: A Play Based on the Life of H.D.

Catherine Ann Jones

  • Award-winning books by
    Catherine Ann Jones
    now available on Amazon
    and your local bookstore
    Waking Universe’
    Lance Mungia
    interviews
    Catherine Ann Jones
    Check out the interview here!

Catherine Ann Jones provides a thorough in-depth professional analysis of your Books, Fiction & Non-fiction, Plays & Screenplays.

Create a marketable selling script or book today!

15% off for former students & clients

2017

January 10, 2017 Freud’s Oracle: A Play Based on the Life of H.D.Written & Performed by Catherine Ann Jones

Ojai, CA – Krotona Institute, 46 Krotona St, Ojai, CA 93023
1/10/2017, Tues, 7pm (Donation only)


Recently Released  

41pllhcttcl-1Freud’s Oracle: Based on the life of H.D. and Freud

Freud’s Oracle, a new play by award-winning author/actor Catherine Ann Jones, is a one-person play about the American poet H.D. and her relationship with Sigmund Freud. H.D. suffered great personal losses and a nervous breakdown due to the Great War and became Freud’s patient in 1933 because of an increasing paranoia about the rise of Hitler and the fear and certainty that another world war was coming.
The themes are the travesty of war and the triumph of the individual spirit.

Discover today! Available on Amazon.


Quotes from workshops

The Way of Story workshop is absolutely amazing! Worth every penny. Catherine’s insightfulness, sensitivity, and intuitive nature brings both wisdom and direction to the craft of writing. Bravo, Catherine! – Trudy Town, Ojai, CA
As you know I have been writing the book about my cross country road trip to walk labyrinths. I highly recommend a wonderful writing teacher & consultant to anyone working on a book-project: Catherine Ann Jones. – Dorit Brauer, Germany
Thanks again for a superb workshop. Being in Catherine’s workshop is like watching a master chef at work. She has all the recipes and knows her ingredients, but she trusts her instincts to tell her when to add a dash of this, a pinch of that, or to turn up the flames to make the dish completely hers. She presents a feast for the imagination. With appreciation, – Gary C, Austin, TX
Thank you for opening my soul to see what is still within me. – Mary B, Hope Town, Abaco – Bahamas
A journey every writer should embark upon! Experienced or not, published or just self-exploration writing, the benefits are shared by all. Catherine gives of herself, openly and honestly, and pushes us as far as you allow her to go. – Ali E, Seattle, WA
An invigorating immersion in the structure and soul of good storytelling. – Karen G, Friday Harbour, WA
The most valuable aspect was your instant revision suggestions: clear, understandable, and always spot on! – Pauline M, Victoria, B.C.
This workshop awakened “aha” moments not only for my writing but for my life as well. Thanks you for giving me the freedom to write and write and the courage to make mistakes and feel. – Carol Ross, Bellevue, WA
Just what I’ve been asking for! Practical, supportive, and yet challenging. – Joan M., Bend, OR
A breakthrough workshop. I wanted to extend it for another week- if not a month! – Alan L, Vancouver, WA
The Way of Story has allowed me to finally get going and start making my story real. – David R, Olympia, WA
This class was so much more than writing. Thank you for expanding my vision. – Mary S., Redmond, WA
Catherine has a gift for inviting the imagination and soul to speak, as well as providing very useful practical tools. I was able to write from the “inside out” for the first time in years. – Hyla R, Eugene, OR
The weekend was a real gift. Catherine has a wonderful way of combining the practical with the spiritual, which is just what I’d been looking for in a seminar. The size of the group, the setting, lunch together made for an intimate event. Not only did I leave having learned some useful new techniques, I also left feeling centered, focused and validated in my pursuit of writing. – Jo Ann, Half Moon Bay, CA
A comfortable and safe place to risk the territory of writing. Her non-judgmental support provided great technique and fun exploration at the same time. – Nadia N.
The Way of Story de-mystified the writing process and has given me a comfort with my own writing, allowing me to come out in full. Your personal stories are wonderful! – Vonder G.
Catherine Ann has an uncanny ability to hear the kernel of truth and play it back as new and refreshing. She has opened a door for me to begin my journey, awakening my sleeping self. – Carol L.
The Way of Story is the beginning of a journey to the stories within me. With Catherine Ann, we are in safe hands. She teaches us how to drive the bumpy terrain. – Julie C., singer-songwriter
An amazing journey and now I know I can sit down and start writing. You are a wonderful teacher as well as kind and compassionate. Thank you! – Fern B.
Your direction of the group helped me awaken to the connection with my experience and the words. I am inspired to continue the journey. – Thom L.
Thank you for providing the understanding that the power of writing comes from the things not said. You are a knowledgeable & a wonderful teacher! – Jeff H., Ojai, CA
This has been great the second time. I got another jump start which is what I came for. Thank you. – Phyllis S., Palm Springs, CA
Catherine, you’re definitely a master of your craft. It’s intriguing to see how you draw from the world. I’ll seek your advice in future! – David S., Ojai, CA
Catherine, your workshop was a spiritual experience as well as practical. Thanks so much! – Gard J., Boulder City, NV Catherine does the wonderful thing of connecting your soul to your writing and that is truly priceless. – Danny Leong, Singapore
Catherine Jones makes writing accessible. Her approach encourages deep honesty in storytelling. Thank you for showing how to write a good story! – Leana M, psychologist and writer
Thank you so much, Catherine. I was at first intimidated by the very experienced writers in the room but found it was an opening up process for me, especially at this time in my life. – Kai, actress, singer, songwriter
A safe, sweet, well thought out presentation, more than worth the money! Inspirational! Just right! I greatly thank you. – Richard R., writer-producer of The Night of the Living Dead
It’s uplifting to see someone who’s had a successful career in Hollywood be dedicated to helping others bring heart and soul into writing. – Kate B., WGA screenwriter
Catherine Jones’s focus, clarity, and gentle but spot-on reactions help identify the weak or lazy spots in your writing. Thank God! She is the elevator of purpose. – Joan B, journalist & novelist
A safe place to discover oneself as a writer. Exercises to open up the process and to learn the essential steps of story structure. – Linda Leonard, Jungian analyst and author of Wounded Woman (Healing Father-Daughter Relationship)
An eye opening class thanks to Catherine’s vision and experience. – Sharon Tan, Dream Forest Productions, Singapore
I came out of the workshop with a better script and a clearer idea of how to achieve that. The best part was your one-to-one sessions. With your clarity and vision, you were able to sift out what I wanted to say and add more ‘meat to my bones.’ I look forward to your next workshop! – Dora Tan, Singapore
Your insights were keys that gave me a new perspective on how to write for an audience and for Hollywood. My heartfelt thanks! – Ron , Los Angeles, CA
After many years I feel that I’m speaking the truth when I say I am a writer. – David M., Los Angeles, CA
This seminar gave space and encouragement to touch and ultimately cradle the protected creative within. – Caroline Privileged to have had you. Amazed how much you gave in so short a time. Far exceeded expectations. – Jill, Oakland, CA
Catherine Ann Jones will help you discover the gold hidden within. More importantly, she gives you the tools to write and shape your internal treasure. – Connie
Beyond my expectation! Thank you, Catherine, for opening a new door into the creative process! – Elaine M, Ojai, CA
Where for the first time, I discovered the shadow of human character hidden in the word. Thank you, thank you, Om! – Nadine M, Ventura, CA
Inspirational! Awakening my long sleeping creativity. A great course! – George T, Ventura, CA Inspirational! I now know what a muse is. – Kara M., MarVista, CA
Dynamic and inspirational! The Way of Story is more than just about writing. It is about spirituality and life opening the way and providing the courage to look into your very soul. – Andrew R, San Diego, CA
The Way of Story is is simply the best writing course I’ve ever experienced. Catherine Ann Jones is a teacher unique, blending superb writing craft, soul-connection, and psychological expertise. – Nan Henderson, M.S.W. – Ojai, CA
The workshop helped me trust what I instinctively knew about the form and essence of a great story. By making this understanding conscious, I can now access and apply it more fully and with confidence. – Jennifer W, Mill Valley, CA
Catherine invites the sacred characters from the Soul and then gives you the grounded tools of craft and structure to write the story. – Reda R, Carmel Valley, CA Catherine is an exceptional teacher. She knows how to make each feel important and bring our their story. – Ruth Kundert, Reedley, CA
An amazing experience! A magical and memorable class. – Scott E, San Rafael, CA I came with my fingers crossed and left knowing all I needed to know. I am forever grateful. – Cat M, Fairfax, CA
A beautiful revelation! You articulate how life and art become one with luminous clarity. My life is transformed. I can only thank you for your generosity of spirit. – Paul S., Campbell, CA
I came empty, and now my story toolbox is full. Can’t wait to get home and go to work! – Richard R, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA You make everything seem possible. – Doreen H, Selling to Hollywood Conference, Los Angeles,CA
A truly inspiring weekend that encouraged me to think deeply about the way I write, what I write and why I write. Catherine is a supportive and enabling tutor with a wealth of professional experience and wisdom for emerging and more seasoned writers. Buy her book too and forget about Robert McKee, John Truby et al. Excellent value for money! – Anne Woods, UK
This course was a wonderful surprise. Catherine’s style is intimate, safe, inspiring. I loved that we learned a lot by “doing” – and this was the pleasant surprise- by physical exercises. This course will remain with me for a long time for all these reasons. I thoroughly recommend it! – Theresa S., Gloucester, UK
Thank you for a weekend of thought-provoking, challenging and valuable insights. I leave freshly inspired! Looking forward to your playwriting seminar at Stanford in 2007! – Alice Carter, Stanford University
A most generous tutor. It would be difficult to imagine a more involving, productive, and truly educational workshop weekend. Ms. Jones gives tools, encouragement, and ideas in a warm and insightful manner. I will never forget this weekend workshop! – Chris H., Winchester
Thank you for providing the understanding that the power of writing comes from the things not said. You are a knowledgeable & a wonderful teacher! – Jeff H., Ojai, CA
A very worthwhile weekend. I take with me ways of working with story from a new perspective. Thanks so much. – Ellie N., Springville, CA This has been great the second time. I got another jump start which is what I came for. Thank you. – Phyllis S., Palm Springs, CA.
Catherine, you’re definitely a master of your craft. It’s intriguing to see how you draw from the world. I’ll seek your advice in future! – David S., playwright, NYC
I loved this! Most useful was the freedom of structure. Your ideas were clear, concise, easily understood. Appreciated, too, your gentle supportive approach. I’m encouraged to continue writing. – Amanda M. Ojai, CA (writer of hit song, The Rose)
By reminding us over and over about the basics, you help us stay the course, giving us tools easy to remember and use. – Helga S. Ojai, CA
Your structure gave my story wings. I’ve never been so clear on what I want to write. – Linda L., Ann Arbor, MI At last, a working, professional writer who teaches writing! – Joe S., San Francisco, CA
A wonderful workshop, Catherine! I learned about the craft of structure as well as accessing the soul of a story. A weekend well-spent. I am enriched. – Maggi M., Newbury Park, CA
Very inspiring. Good knowledge of structure, a gentle process of learning pushing us forward, inviting creativity to flow. Thank you! – Lee S, Hollywood, FL This class is amazingly effective for its revelation of story structure & timing, the trajectory of characters, and most importantly how character drives plot. I wouldn’t change a thing! – Helga S, Ojai, CA
Anyone taking this workshop with an interest in writing would benefit greatly. I simply want to express my gratitude to you. I will remember most your eyes, the way they light up when one of us had a breakthrough. This happened to each and everyone in the room. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! – David N., Chicago, IL
A valuable experience for anyone and everyone! Just the right focus on story structure, giving us the necessary tools to delve into our individual truths. – Bill H., Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA
Catherine is a gentle, encouraging soul. I was fearful of making mistakes and of sharing with a group of strangers. What a relief to learn that both fear and making mistakes are part of the creative process! – Denise A, Thousand Oaks, CA
Enlightening with plenty of tools you can use over and over again. A splendid release of creativity and to get in touch with your emotional self while honing your writing skills. Invaluable, life-changing! – Andi S, Ventura, CA
I don’t want this workshop to end! I’m standing on the crest of my life and you have given me the courage to jump! Thank you! – Karen R, Ventura, CA A psychological break-through! Now having crystallized my life theme, I am able to release my long-suppressed creativity. – Tracy L., Ventura, CA
I have been reading your book, The Way of Story, and it is so refreshing to see what it is you do with all your heart and soul. I like the style of the book a great deal and how you weave the personal autobiographical elements with the illustrative examples of myths and cycles of being and archetypal roles that we each experience. You write with understanding as having transcended the most challenging cycles. – Jane Samuels, UK
This course has been a turning point in my life, awakening the creative self and teaching me how to feel. – Martin, M, retired psychiatrist, age 92

Find a online weekly workshop that is a good fit for you!

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Mattie Lennon Irish Author – BREAD AN’ MATE..

BREAD AN’ MATE..

  By Mattie Lennon

It has been said that the first duty of a gentleman is to keep out of the hands of the police. Up to the time of writing I have carried out my gentlemanly duties, in that respect, every day of my life, with one exception. That was Tuesday 04th November 1969 when I was the victim of a wrongful arrest.

At 11:15 A.M. and I was feeding our one and only bonham. A car bearing the roof-sign of our National Guardians of the Peace stopped at the gate of our humble abode at Kylebeg. It was driven by a 38 year old farmer’s son, Paddy Browne, from Kenmare. He shared a surname with the one-time Earls of Kenmare but a Protestant farmer who had rented a house to him had once told me that there wasn’t much evidence of any nobility connection. The observer was a 44-year-old son-of-the-soil from Kilmorgan, Co. Sligo. His Name was Bill Tighe. (Up to that moment I had little dealings with either officer apart from meeting them during Census-taking. I knew that they referred to me as “the Poet”, which was understandable since I was in the habit of linking, even the most grim situation to a poetic allusion.) Despite their agricultural background they had no compunction about taking me away from my pig-feeding, when they asked me to accompany them to Blessington Station.

If my neighbours hadn’t known me as well as they did no doubt the would have been;” Wondering if the man had done a great or little thing”.

Didn’t the poet say;

To every Irishman on earth,

Arrest comes soon or late.

While Browne reversed the Squad-car down our narrow lane Tighe revealed to me that I had stolen an unspecified quantity of ham on Friday 24th October. Although I was no Phrenologist, looking at his profile from the back seat I recalled a comment made by one of my neighbours.  Whatever about the grammatical correctness of the observation I was now tempted to accede to its accuracy; he had once described Tighe as being;  “ as thick as the butt end of a horse’s bollocks that never saw anything only shite.”  And, at that moment, I became a bit more tolerant of those who drew the cartoons of the Irish in the 19th century Punch magazine.

Once in the station another Garda had something to say. This 31 year old was Willie Nash, from Gurtnacrehy, Co. Limerick. (You may not have heard of Gurtnacrehy; the only time the word crops up is in the names of Greyhounds.)  Nash was so well turned out that he was like a male mannequin compared to his more bucolic colleagues.  When he first came to Blessington in January 1962 he was a useful man on the football field and sported a crew-cut. Now he was opting for a (slightly belated) Beatle look. He imparted the additional information that I had maliciously burned a rick of hay, the property of Dan Cullen, on Saturday 27th September. I didn’t share the view of the local farmer who, at the time, said, “There was only one mistake; that he wasn’t in it when they lit it.”

Nash’s body language (as he replaced a nail-file in his tunic pocket, having checked his reflection in the window ) proclaimed his lack of self-esteem and the fact that he was well aware of my innocence. His rhetorical question: “Would it surprise you to know that you were seen lighting it?” was slightly off the mark (not to mention off the wall).

I knew, through my own sources, that a quantity of ham had been reported stolen in Ballinastockan. (I wasn’t told if it was a quarter or a half pound) but I doubted the authenticity of the crime. As the interrogation progressed I became more convinced that the case of the purloined bacon should enter the annals along with The Easter Bunny, the Unicorn and a few pre-election promises.  I knew that there wasn’t a great tradition of steling foodstuffs in the Lacken/Ballinastockan area; the last recorded theft of that nature was pertaining to an incident, during the Civil War, on 15th September 1922. Edward Grace, a Merchant, from Ballymore Eustace had some loaves stolen from two of his vans in Ballyknockan and Lacken on that day.

Despite being the victim of the dirtiest trick ever played on me, being spoken to like an imbecile, humiliated, embarrassed and treated like a criminal I refused to confess to two fictitious crimes. (It’s at times like this the words of Ethel Rosenberg spring to mind; “I am innocent……to forsake this truth is to pay too high a price”). The Sergeant, looking less than prepossessing and more than his thirty-seven years, gave the OK to have me locked in a cell. Maurice O ‘Sullivan, ex-Mental Nurse (known as a “keeper” at the time), from Slaheny, Co. Kerry, was very concise.  Not living up to his family’s nickname of “The Long Maurices” he drew himself up to his full five-foot nine and a half inches, pretended to read from a manilla folder  and told me  : “I have enough evidence here to charge you”.  Perhaps his past was the reason for the brevity;

For he to whom a watcher’s doom

Is given as his task

Must set a lock upon his lips

Etc.

Did the experience in his previous life prompt him to believe that I was the sort, so much in awe of authority, who would confess to anything? Although it was fifteen years since he surrendered his badge in Saint Fenan’s  Hospital, Killarney, the “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Syndrome” obtained; He still thought that he could do what he liked? (“…for in a madhouse there exists no law”).

I thought of William Blackstone who said; ” It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer”. I soon reminded myself that Mr. Blackstone didn’t spend four years working in a Kerry asylum.)

When I was told,  “You’ll get out when you tell us the truth” I took on board my neighbour’s opinion of the speaker. And the farmer’s boots and sly smile I saw as further evidence that Tighe was not a member of Mensa, would not appreciate Tennyson, and so I thought it would be futile to quote;

 

This truth within thy mind rehearse,

That in a boundless universe

Is boundless better, boundless worse.

My father always said that I would “hear the grass growing” and now I became acutely aware of my better –than- average auricular ability. Sound- proofing had not been a consideration in the design of the cell-door and I could hear every word spoken in the day-room. Industrial-relations matters, within the Gardaí, were touched on lightly before a turn in the conversation that was very interesting and informative; but that is a story for another day. Suffice, for now, to say that there was paraphrasing of the words of Thomas Jefferson; “ We have the wolf by the ears and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale and self-preservation on the other”

I knocked on the cell door. It immediately opened and framed Nash, who I felt was of the opinion that I needed taking down a peg. I studied his face. Why? Because Jim Blake who worked for Paddy Crotty had told me, “That Nash fella has square eyes.” He didn’t. While his optical hemispheres displayed the shiftiness of the insecure they were of regular shape.

He insisted on pretending that I was a suspect and closed the door.

When next I knocked on the cell-door it was opened by Tighe who told me, (why I don’t know) “The sergeant is gone out on another big job”. This was followed by, “Yer father says he doesn’t know what to tink. Will I go out for yer father?” When I once again protested my innocence this, ignorant, lazy, gobshite, who wouldn’t ever stand if he could sit, said, “We know certain tings Matt”. He didn’t specify what the “ things” with the silent “h” wre.)  He closed the door slowly . . . like he did everything else.

When again I knocked with a hope of being released Browne uncovered the spyhole. His eye, viewed through the small rectangle of light, didn’t look friendly.

I was sitting on a wooden bench with some sort of a “tic” on it. Hey! . . . Didn’t  I read on the Leinster Leader about a Ballinastockan man being fined ten pounds for pissing on a mattress in the cell of Blessington Garda station? (Of course it wasn’t worded so in the “Leader”.)

“Are you going to tell us about this fire?”. Guard Browne enquired. Now secure in the knowledge that they knew I wasn’t guilty of anything I didn’t protest my innocence. I simply asked; “Are you going to let me out?”

Browne didn’t reply. He opened the cell door and allowed me into the day room. As he lit a Goldflake butt with a paper spill from the open fire he again accused me of arson. As I looked at his well-worn shoes and archaic wristwatch I thought of his economy-consciousness which his former Sergeant, Frank Reynolds,  had told me about. My comment about the coldness of the cell and my plea to be left in the Day-room fell on deaf, Kenmare, ears. As he dragged on the ignited butt I was sternly told to “get back in.”

I would compile a letter to the Minister for Justice. But that could wait. This was as good a time as any to make a start on a parody. The air of “ The Oul Alarm Clock” would do fine;

“I was told we’re going to charge you

With the burning of a rick,

By Nash and Tighe and Sullivan,

An’ Paddy Browne the prick.”

 

The cell door opened. Garda Willie Nash told me, “We’re lettin’ ye out but we’ll be takin’ ye in agin.”  He wasn’t a man of his word; I haven’t seen the inside of that cell since.

Mattie Lennon  mattielennon@gmail.com

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