Pope to Pop More Surprises in 2014?
In the nine months he has been in office,
it seems Pope Francis pops one surprise after another on an
almost weekly basis. Be it a startling quote, an act of ya-gotta-be-kidding-me
humility, or some off-beat everyman disclosure (“I was
once a bouncer”), he has captured the imagination of
a large cross section of humanity.
I mean, a pope in a clown nose?
In designating him as their Person of the Year for 2013, Time
magazine had this to say:
"… he has placed himself at the
very center of the central conversations of our time, about
wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency,
modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature
of marriage, the temptations of power. When he kisses the
face of a disfigured man or washes the feet of a Muslim
woman, the image resonates far beyond the boundaries of
the Catholic Church."
And that’s just on Monday.
And then shortly after, Advocate, the oldest gay
rights magazine in America, also honored him as their person
of the year. In so doing, they hailed as a landmark, his famous
response to a reporter who had asked about gay people in the
church: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has
good will, who am I to judge?"
One can’t help but wonder in all of
this, what surprises and revelations might be forthcoming
in 2014, regarding this popular pontiff. These are but a smattering
of headlines that are not difficult to imagine in the coming
Francis: “I once got a ‘D’ on my Latin Final”
A Vatican source who asked to remain anonymous,
revealed that the Pope was a also terrible speller.
Francis Lives in a Studio Apartment with His Dog “Assisi”
Sources confirmed that he walks to work
every day, after first walking his dog, a mutt he rescued
from a pound in his first week as Pope.
Francis was Born in Kenya
“Mary Magdalene was an Apostle”
When asked by someone in the press corps
on a flight coming back from the desert in which he had spent
40 days and 40 nights, if he was saying therefore that there
were really 13 apostles (and a woman at that) and not 12 as
in the scriptures, he responded: “13, 12, 11, whatever…it’s
just a number.”
was Fired from Bouncer Job
It was revealed today in the Italian press,
that Pope Francis was fired from his job as a bouncer for
always turning the other cheek and never checking ID’s
at the door.
in line at Motor Vehicles
Not using his status to avoid a four hour
wait, Pope Francis stood in line to renew his license at a
nearby Motor Vehicles in Rome today. (He drives an ‘84
Renault in lieu of the Vatican provided chauffeured car).
It gave him the opportunity to “demonstrate patience,
rather than merely to preach it,”he said, as he consoled
some who had stopped by in tears, after having failed their
Francis Was Once Jewish
Dress Code for the Swiss Guard
The Pope announced today that the Vatican
will institute a casual Friday dress code for the Swiss Guard
beginning this Spring.
Gay Divorce I’m Really Concerned About,” says
Surprises Many on Scriptural Interpretations
As for the eating of the apple in the
Garden of Eden, he responded: “I might have done the
same. Who’s to say? I love apples.”
Owns a Cell Phone
But in keeping with his austerity, it
is a rotary. And he has not downloaded any applications. The
U.S. Government has confirmed this.
Denunciation of Capitalism Caused the DOW to Drop on Friday
Cardinal Dolan in a recent homily at St.
Patrick’s Cathedral, and in follow ups on Meet the Press,
the Today Show, Good Morning America, Charlie Rose, CNN, CNBC,
Fox News and the Tonight Show, assured all that the pope was
Once Gave Meat to a Hungry Man on a Friday
When asked whether or not the man was
Catholic, “Don’t ask don’t tell,”
he explained to the press.
Meets with Lady Gaga
They shared a bit of humor about the number
of syllables in their respective real names: Jorge Mario Bergoglio
and Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Ted Cruz is outraged.
“I am Not Worthy of My Name Being Capitalized”
In still one more sign of great humility,
the pope issued a statement in which he asked that his name
no longer be capitalized, nor should a formal Roman number
follow it. He asked that it now appear in print as francis
January Blahs and Writer’s Block
Maybe it’s the January blahs that causes
me to sit here at a loss for words, following the previous
“pop pope” piece. According to psychologists,
there is such a thing. No, not the use of the letter “p”
in obsessive-compulsive alliteration, but the January blahs.
The peak of which occurring on a day said to be the saddest
day of the year: the third Monday in the month, aka “Blue
A doctor named Cliff Arnall who specializes
in seasonal disorder at the University of Cardiff, Wales (is
there a degree for that?), actually created a formula that
takes into account, the various factors that go into the depression
that comes with January.
His model is:
[W + (D-d)] x TQ
M x NA
The equation is broken down into seven variables:
(W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since
Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational
levels and (NA) the need to take action. (Source:
World News on NBCNEWS.com, 2005).
You can’t make this stuff up. Which
is why I’m having a case of writer’s block. Though
given my stature in any literary circles, it’s more
the size of a baby’s block, as opposed to say, the mammoth
blocks by giant writers that I once outlined in a piece eight
years ago. (Writer’s Block or… Six Authors
in Search of a Character? FEBRUARY,
But one might ask how writer’s block
can be attributed to January blahs if one is actually writing
this in December? (Poetic license? “Yeah, that’s
the ticket!” Like, where have all the SNL
catch phrases gone?).
Let there be no misunderstanding, big or small,
this is not the sort of affliction in need of a telethon.
Imagine Pat Sajak hosting one, and going to the tote board
which is showing a lot of missing letters, imploring viewers
to send in anything they can, even lower case. (“And
even the smallest punctuation counts!”).
In any event, I offer snippets from Januarys
past, when this condition was not in any evidence. They have
been edited, tweaked (“re-pronouned” as I no longer
use the royal “we”…which was a royal pain
in the ass I was told), realigned, “re-fonted”
here and there, and in a couple of cases, with an updated
“editor’s note” included. They follow a
An Encounter with Sir Shadow
“While attending a 20th anniversary fund
raising event hosted by the Working Theater in
New York honoring Harry Belafonte, I happened upon a gentleman
who goes by the name Sir Shadow.
He is a virtuoso of ‘the
freehand line’—uninterrupted. Never lifting
his meandering felt pen from paper in the course of the
minute or so it takes him to finish, he turns out works
of art that…well, once again a picture being worth
a thousand words…
I bought one. The cost? ‘Whatever
is in your heart,’ said Sir Shadow. My heart said
priceless, but I opened up my wallet instead, and gave
him something that seemed at least somewhat worthy of
his short time, yet long talents.
He continued drawing and philosophizing:
‘I call my writing and art work FLOWETRY;
which is the art of positive thinking in action.’”
600 ° Of Separation?
“In reading Bob Dylan’s fabulous
Chronicles Volume One— right there on page
22— I was stopped cold.
Dylan, in writing of his time in The Village
in the early 60’s, mentions in passing that:
‘…I was over at the Mills
Tavern on Bleecker Street where the basket-house singers
would bunch up, chitchat and make the scene.’
Frankly, that’s not how I remembered
Mills Tavern (now long-since sold, refurbished,
remodeled and renamed, The Village Lantern).
In a poem, written some years ago I described
it, though not directly by name, as:
A place where men sipped ale
death came looking.
And what exactly makes me such an expert
on this shanty of an establishment? It was there that
my father tended bar.
Ergo, (not to mention ‘Eureka!’)…
My father must have served Bob Dylan!”
January in Amsterdam
A bicycle outside The Anne Frank
Sits enchained in a virgin snow.
like hell, has frozen over.
Whose bike? Not hers. In fact she may
Even have learned how to ride. What with
The war, the hiding, the being found
But surely Otto must have taught her.
While in Merwedeplein?
Steadying the seat as she wrestled with her balance?
I, myself, was once given a ride
down those very streets
Or straats as they call them—on
the back of a bike
Of a girl so angelic I almost cried.
My arms wrapped about her as our
The delicate glass of a summer night.
We woke up the kinfolk when we arrived at the house.
One ride of passage…
one ride never taken.
A Luncheon Meeting with Gerald Ford
“With the passing last month of our
38th President Gerald R. Ford at age 93, I could
not help but recall the day (August 7, 1997) when I got to
meet him at a luncheon sponsored by Time magazine.
84 years of age at the time, he looked absolutely terrific
as our photo op below will attest.
“In short, he seemed like a nice guy
if ‘…rather unremarkable; rather closed…’
as I further noted in my journal.
Gerald Ford…rest in peace.”
Through Time Descending
light doth so transform a man’s whole bent
The Long Acre days of livery trades
When a single gas lamp lit the square
Died of a pen stroke in proclamation
An April day under pastoral skies.
This long before that month was said
To be the cruelest of the year.
Soon a beast below the street
Would arrive on the sparks of friction—
A scream of wheels:
“Forty-Second Street/Times Square, 1904.”
It will always be not so much a place
But a churning kaleidoscope of shards of glass;
A sequence of squares each lighting the way to another.
Where energy ignites the human transition.
A clustering spirit
From in and out of town
That stops in mid stream
For the sheer joy
Of looking up.
A metaphor made flesh each
New Year’s Eve
Poetry As Insurgent Art –
“A small book with big ideas on the
art of poetry and that of life. Some lines that caused me
Make common words uncommon.
See the rose through world-colored
Climb the Statue of Liberty.
Poetry is private solitude made public.
Poetry is the light at the end of
the tunnel and the darkness within.
And my favorite, so ironic coming as it does
from such a hall-of-fame hipster…
Don’t be so open minded
that your brains fall out.
That’s something my uncle Willie, a
hall-of-fame bus driver, would have said.”
"Ah Feel Your Pain" (Still)
“Bill Clinton. Ya gotta’ love
him. At the recent memorial service following the death of
former diplomat Richard Holbrooke, a NY Times article (with
the emboldening of words, my doing) reported the following:
Bill Clinton recalled, standing with one arm around Mr.
Holbrooke's widow, Kati Martin… “he (Mr. Holbrooke)
understood the political
implications of the psychodynamics
of every conceivable permutation,
when people sat down together…”
It is a syntax that could make even the dead
sit up and take notice.
When I die, I would wish for: ‘He was
smart.’ Which I think is what Clinton was trying to
say, in so many supercalifragilisticexpialidocious words.”
Auld Lang Sign
Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot
“In a similar vein to what he had done
earlier in the year at Woodstock—when he transferred
the Star Spangled Banner into something from Mars—Jimi
Hendrix’s Auld Lang Syne could stop a clock.
I had been to the Fillmore just three weeks prior,
unaware that he was to perform there on New Year's Eve, so
I missed his interpretation of it live.
And as a new year invariably seems to be a clarion call for
seeing old things in a new way, this audio YouTube
moment recorded 42 years ago epitomizes the very thing.”
(Hendrix rendition starts 59 seconds into the
The 100-Watt Bulb Goes Dark?
“On October 1, congress will enforce
the new standards requiring that light bulbs use at least
25% less energy. In effect, what is happening, is that traditional
incandescent light bulbs—which essentially use the same
technology as Thomas Edison's original one—will begin
to be phased out. Alas Horatio, I knew him well.
Imagine this scenario one day, dealing with light bulbs in
some dark alley: ‘Pssst! Hey, you wanna’ score
some 100-Watters? I got frosty or clear.’”
Editor’s note: As just reported
at CNN.com, “Light bulb manufacturers will cease making
traditional 40 and 60-watt light bulbs -- the most popular
in the country -- at the start of 2014.”(A metaphor
in search of a poem it seems).
I find myself thinking about him a lot these days. (Doesn’t
everyone?). Not in association with Les Miserables,
but in the context of a quote attributed to him that I had
run across not all that long ago.
Nothing is more powerful than an idea
whose time has come.
I think of it when I hear and read the likes
of which I can’t remember ever having seen before on
the issue of gun control…
• ‘I am a conservative Republican who received
the NRA's highest ratings over four terms in Congress…I
knew that day that the ideologies of my past career were
no longer relevant to the future that I want, that I demand
for my children. Friday changed everything. It must change
everything.’ (Joe Scarborough)
• ‘Eleven members of Congress who had previously
opposed gun control announced a change of heart, including
Senator Joe Manchin…’ (The Nation)
• ‘Bare majority now support major gun restrictions…’
• ‘Support for stricter gun control at 10-year
high…’ (CBS News Poll)
• ‘54 percent of respondents favor stricter
gun control laws, a five-year high; 59 percent back a
ban on high-capacity ammunition clips…’ (ABC
News/Washington Post Poll)
• ‘I believe every American has Second Amendment
rights. The ability to hunt is part of our culture. I
have an NRA rating of an 'A,' but enough is enough.’
(Senator Mark Warner who represents the NRA's home
state of Virginia)
Is this the type of idea to which Hugo made
reference? Has the time come? Time will tell.”
Editor’s note: Time told. And the
answer was “Never.”
Pope to Pop More Surprises in 2014?
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