Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy


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Love Is An Ocean I Can’t Forget

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I am going to the ocean tomorrow. To this place.

I came from the ocean. I know, supposedly we all did, if you’re a Darwin kind of gal or guy. But, specifically, for me, I came from the ocean side. Born in New Bedford – the Whaling City – raised in Wareham, a town filled with beach communities and bays and water all about. I graduated from Cape Cod Community College, a half mile from the Atlantic on those Main Street days, and later Salem State College, a stone’s throw from Salem Harbor/the Atlantic. I lived in Salem for many years, then off to Rockport and its peninsula self into the Atlantic for a winter, eventually to Plum Island and Newburyport, where the mighty Merrimack River flows into the cold ocean there.

When I first left Massachusetts, at age 27, I flew to Los Angeles and lived for a short while in both Venice Beach and Santa Monica. Later crashing in graduate housing at UC Irvine, hard by the Pacific, and working for a spell in San Clemente, able to take an occasional dip there or in Laguna Beach. A few years later it was New Smyrna Beach in Florida,ariel-view then Vero Beach. Back up to Mass and a year-long stint running an HIV/Aids housing program in Provincetown, a block from Cape Cod Bay. I squeezed a year and a half in Oakland, CA somewhere in there, crossing the bridge or taking BART under the San Francisco Bay, while running a kid program in the Lower Haight. Where, with the right eyes, you could see salt water from the tops of the highest hills. And certainly from Berkeley out from Blondies Pizza.

Yet somehow, within the reality of this always-by-an-ocean Bedouin life, I ended up in Portland, Oregon. Nearly 100 miles, as the raven flies, to the ocean. The Pacific. The one in the photos above. Some two hours away. Let me paraphrase “Remember the Titans”: How far? Too far? How far? Too far.

You can take the boy out of the ocean – if you must – but I don’t believe you can take the ocean out of the boy. Certainly not this boy…..Ocean si, Portland no.

I married an amazing woman

moonlight+beach+encinitasand her parents live in San Diego, and I have traveled there with her many times and everyone of those times been lucky enough to spend time in the Ocean Beach part of town. And swim there. A lot. We’ve day-tripped up to Encinitas a couple of times and swam at the gorgeous Moonlight Beach as well.

 

But most of the time, for these last eight and a half years of beach-withdrawal life in Portland, I have ached for the ocean. Deep down. I’m a beach boy. Look at my writing: “Ring Around The Rosy” and it’s ocean-side wander from Marion to Rockport; “Astoria Strange” where the Pacific sparkles and shines from the top of the Astoria Column. My current work, “When I Settle For Less“, book one of a novel set in southern California’s imaginary DeLoreal Beach.

You can’t take the boy out.

I’ve been blessed with the fact that my step-daughter Marie’s dad, my wife’s ex, owns with others a cottage three hundred yards from the Pacific Ocean in the Pacific Beach community of Tierra Del Mar. We rent it cheap for the promise of an amazing cleaning by me (and it’s always cleaner after than before), and I’ve been able to go and be there many times these last six years. The last two Marie and I – both writers – have commited to a “Writing Retreat” of five days/four nights, and I am thrilled to say our third such venture begins tomorrow. If the creek don’t rise and there ain’t no meltdown I’ll be right there, where I took those photos at the top, in a little less than 24 hours.

Get to refresh the genetic shadows deep within, of life by the water.

Get to rejoice.

"Gorgeous sunset from UC Berkeley!"


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We Gives and We Takes

 

Yesterday afternoon, Sunday, I was sitting in a gay and lesbian self help group (of sorts). I was welcome, I’m always welcome there, though I’m neither gay nor lesbian. One of the group topics cyrynehxuaaomdibeing discussed was the idea of self care. I didn’t have anything to say during the meeting, but I did do a lot of thinking, and sometime within that hour I came to the realization that my level of self care — usually pretty darn good — has dipped considerably since the night of November 8. My usual countenance of joy and possibility and wonder has, in large part, been replaced with a profound sense of sadness and disgust and ongoing judgement, with equal parts depression and anger added for taste. Soul sickness. I left the meeting determined to be better to and for myself, and be nicer to myself, without sacrificing any of my ongoing commitment to fight the powers that be now, and are coming to be more, the racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic bullying meanness that Donald Trump and his legion of darkness represent.

Anyway, just a little Dear Diary stuff there. What I want to talk about here, a powerful response to any mote of sadness or feeling of disempowerment, is all the potential action we can take, as Mario Savio said so eloquently back in the Berkeley day, “… to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.” So, how can I protest? – Let me count the ways. Here’s an old high school cheer – “Stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight.” There’s that.  For this piece, though, I want to focus on the suggestion that we give – we give to all those who oppose the Dark Lord; and that we take – we take from all those who stand with him, with bigotry and injustice.

Donate money to those who fight the good fight, those in need more now than ever of support and solidarity. Thankfully, the list is long. Here are a few I suggest:

Planned Parenthood – The war on women is going to ramp up in a big way, now, under the leadership of those who chuckle at sexual assault and believe only God and their righteious selves know what’s best for you and you and you. This isn’t pro or anti abortion, but about providing young women, all women, with information and assistance and support. Back when I was doing youth work on the streets there were many times when I referred, and sometimes drove, tennage girls to Planned Parenthood in their effort to not need an abortion, to need need treatment from one STD or another, to have someone to talk with. War was declared on this organization all through the Republican primaries and now beyond. You can help.

The American Civil Liberties Union – Attempts at voter supression and voter disempowerment are likley to have a field day under the emboldened “if you’re white it’s alright” legislators and judges, including the Supreme Court, these next four years. The ACLU will stand up for the otherwise voiceless.

The Southern Poverty Law Center – This organization, founded back in the 1970s by a couple of lawyers who have been receiving death threats since then, tracks and reports on white supremacist and paramilitary and other hate groups, including the father of all hate groups, the KKK, and when the opportunity presents itself, usually and most sadly when someone has been killed, takes individuals and organziations to Court and, oncw_ivhwwqaaekfp occassion, bankrupts them. It’s a certainty with Steve Bannon whispering in Trump’s ear, with Jeff Sessions in charge of “justice”, the Law Center will be more in need of support than ever. Like the people it defends.

The Human Rights Campaign –  As the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, HRC has vowed to continue its fight to press for and defend equality for all. The group currently represents more than 1.5 million people in the LGBTQ community, many of whom feel more threatened than ever by a Trump-Pence White House.

Yes Magazine – Describing itself as 20 years of Solutions Journalism, Yes Magazine publishes in depth news stories and features about the ongoing needs of marginalized people everywhere, as well as the creative solutions that individuals, groups of people, organizations, and communtiies bring to those problems. This month features a story on where to make a difference in each of the 50 states. The magazine is an encouraging and informativimagee collection of hope, and buying a subscription will help.

These are five options, opportunities to do something and feel good doing it and stand up for what’s right. Here is a link to these and other worthy organizations, and the way to contribute to their efforts:   http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/11/how-to-donate-to-planned-
parenthood-and-other-charities.html
   You can go to  YesMagazine.org  for a subscription.

The past week I have made small donations to the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as to The Trevor Project, about which you can read in the New York Magazine link above. They weren’t for much, because that’s my story at the moment, but it felt good to do something good.

Now, as for the Taking, it seems I’ve run out of space. Clearly a direct way to take is to boycott — goods, services, businesses, corporations, sports teams, etc. I have a few in mind, but as I’ve run long, I’m asking readers of this blog to offer their own suggestions. Please leave your boycott plans and opportunities in the comments section for all to share. You will be taking action.

I’ll close with a quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estes“I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.”not-in-our-town_final

We keep on keepin’ on
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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Poverty_Law_Center


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Fear and Hoping From the Basement

The stars were out shining over Portland last night. The Red Sox have by magic Cou3gFLUIAAUrPistaved off, for the day, an increasing sense of fear and loathing, just another summer past-time those of us in The Nation know well. Today’s the end of Major League Baseball’s trading deadline and it’s hard to say which way the kids in Red Sox, and their bosses, will go. Buy? Sell? Punt? We shall see.

20160722_082418_HDRThis post marks the beginning of a new effort from me in that part of my world defined as blogging. I feel done, I felt it very strongly in the recliner this morning, with political posts and long examinations of life in the big city, yes the big planet, and even those earlier blogging tales of drunkenness and serious stupidity and the slow climb back to respectability (!), as such, and everything else that’s previously appeared in this verbial cyber spot. It’s my intention from here on out to offer up small tidbits of this and that, anything that I believe helps to move every reader in the direction of saving the planet. Which, by the way, will be a call sign, so to speak, for me, here out – #savetheplanet .

So, if you are follower of this blog or a noticer of its appearance on some social site like Facebook or Twitter, or perhaps a member of my small but loyal email community, I offer, going forward, freebies and suggestions and true glimpses into genius and wonder and abundance. Ways in which we gets to love each other, better than yesterday.  Offered from way over here.

What with it being a significant day in baseball, I suggest taking a few minutes to watch this:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwB7fRI-jp8      Take a dip in magic waters.

I’m grateful for Ted Talks and I hope you are too. There is something sweet about giving people a voice, different and varied people, with lots of worthy things to say. This blog will feature at least one engaging Ted Talk every week. They’re generally less than 19 minutes, sometimes much less than that. I truly hope you’ll invest a small slice of time, and maybe be nudged just a little bit toward wonder. Here’s this week’s :  www.ted.com/talks/j_j_abrams_mystery_box

I’m a big J.J. Abrams fan, and a favorite movie is the dramatically underappreciated and little noticed “Super 8”. What a blessing to slip into childhood again, for a little while. Here’s just a quick peek:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1e4MT5VhZo

The title of this post – and it’s going to be the same title every week from now on – is blondie-s-pizzaa love letter, in a way, to the work of one of my favorite authors, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. I got to see him speak at Harvard University and again, 3000 miles away, at UC Berkeley. In fact, following that adventure – wild and crazy wonderful with my friend and mentor Dr. Doug Martin and a weekend at the  Durant Hotel, including my first ever visit to Blondies Pizza on a 1:00 a.m. roll down Durant chasing Doug in his motorized chair – it was after all that I found myself on the same flight with Dr. Thompson traveling from San Francisco to Chicago and, screwing up enough courage to introduce myself, had the great fortune to spend about an hour and a half chatting with the Gonzo man. That story can be found on a previous post in this very same blog page (“Hunter and Me”). For now, here’s just a smidge of the good Doctor’s words, a quite famous passage in fact:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=MivwinnMKhI Drawings Feb 22 001

Art for the week:

And now for a musical interlude, this week’s way cool song, a mix of music, art, and cursing:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejmE-F3EJyQ    Fun lyrics, wicked guitars.

Today, August 1, turns out to be, among many things, Herman Melville’s birthday. It also turns out that he bought a farm in The Berkshires at the western edge of my home state Massachusetts. The wonderful on-line magazine “Brain Pickings” published an article about him today, and a few inches down is a paragraph in which Melville describes his daily routine on the farm. It’s worth reading:  www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/30/herman-melville-daily-routine/ 

 Back next week. Hope the new format works for you.

#savetheplanet


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Hunter and Me

 

There are Hunter 2eight million artist stories in the city. This is mine. This is called “Hunter and Me”.

This is a story involving my old friend Dr. Doug Martin. It also involves Bob Zimmerman, my other old friend. I wrote about them in a previous blog – “67blondies”. They’re back.

I was living in a third floor apartment in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1984. You had to climb up wooden stairs outside the back of the house to get to my place. I wrote about this apartment, and my phone on the wall, in another blog – “One Friday Night”. I was working as an outreach counselor with teenagers for the Drug and Alcohol Resource Program in Stoneham, about seven miles north, and I had stayed away from any alcohol or drugs for about a year and a half. I wasn’t married, I didn’t have a girlfriend, I had an old used car, I had started collecting some actual possessions, certainly more than the two trash bags of items in my friend Bob Hallett’s cellar a town over that I could claim the day I said “if I booze, I lose, so I’m done”. Overall I was pretty happy. This is a fairly complete summation of my life back at the beginning of October in 1984 when the phone rang.

Doug was calling from Los Angeles. “Bud, Hunter Thompson is speaking at Berkeley. We must attend, the universe demands it. Saying no is not an option.” I explained in a previous blog that Doug lived much of his life in a wheelchair, the result of polio contracted when he was six years old, a year before the vaccine was discovered. I had met Doug out in LA on the first of a number of east/west journeys and adventures, and had morphed into his attendant at times, carrying him in and out of cabs and airplanes, putting him in his electrified wheelchair, setting up and turning on his breathing equipment at bedtime. Doug was well respected in disability services circles in California and I had traveled with him a few times around the state when he was attending commission meetings. And once to Washington DC. Now Doug was telling me that he had a State Disability Commission meeting in Oakland at the end of October and he was going to get the State of California to pay for a plane ticket for me roundtrip from Boston to LA so I could then fly with him to Oakland and serve as his attendant during the conference, and after, when we would stay the weekend and see Dr. Hunter Thompson speak at Berkeley. Doug was right. Saying “no” wasn’t an option.

So I put in for vacation, flew out to LA the last week in October – Doug and an attendant picking me up at LAX, then Doug’s parents bringing us back to LAX the next day for the flight to Oakland, where we stayed at the Sheraton out near the airport where the conference was being held, and then transferred over to the Durant Hotel in Berkeley, literally a stone’s throw from the campus. It was another memorable adventure with Doug, and Bob, who came over from San Francisco to hang out with us. Halloween was a Wednesday that year, and we ended up at a costumed Halloween party in Berkeley with about 20 people, Bob and I the only ones not in wheelchairs. Then on the Saturday night three days later the three of us rolled and strolled over to Cal Berkeley and watched and listened to the Hunter Thompson show. It was great. The next day Doug had planned for someone else to fly with him back to LA, and after goodbyes all around they dropped me at the San Francisco airport and I boarded my plane for the flight back to Boston.

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