I'm traveling over winter break. The university where I work is closed from 23 December through 2 January, so I can travel without burning vacation days. So far, it's been an adventure, as travel should be, but knock on wood no serious scares.
The overnight Megabus to New Orleans arrived mere minutes before my Amtrak Crescent departed for Philadelphia, but I boarded the train in time. I'm grateful that I can still run, even with luggage and heel spurs. Mid-journey, I noticed that my wallet was missing, but with help from an attendant and fellow passengers I found it under a nearby seat.
Fresh from a couple of days with my half-brother and his three sons in Pennsylvania, including some tourist time in Philly, I rented a car to drive up to Connecticut. It rained most of the way, which forces one to concentrate that much more on driving, especially on the New Jersey Turnpike and I-95. One of my reasons for driving up instead of taking the train to Connecticut was to crawl around Tenafly NJ, where my parents grew up and where I spent some happy times as a small child.
The Ghost of Eugene
Today is a gloomy December day on the Connecticut Shoreline, one of those days with indeterminate temperature and a steady drizzle. Rather than taking a chance on road conditions to do some exploratory driving, I'm holed up in the motel, feeling Eugene O'Neill-ish but without the booze, catching up on communications, occasionally turning on the tube, then shutting it off minutes later because ick, tee-vee. There's a godzillion college bowl games on if I get desperate and can turn off my mind long enough.
O'Neill grew up in New London, just a few miles from where I'm typing this. You can still visit his house on Pequot Avenue, as I did 24 years ago. I might just go there this week and pay some homage.
Apart from visiting my relatives here, as I hope to do later, foremost on my hyperactive mind is a new nation. I'm still waiting for an America that is truly "conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all [humans] are created equal. I want a nation that doesn't just talk about human rights, human decency, human dignity, compassion, and equality under a sensible body of law, but actively practices all that.
The USA has never been such a nation, as the news proves daily. The people agitating and working to create such a nation here are a tiny minority; the loudmouth mainstream gives them shit for even trying.
Where in all the weary world would I go to find such a nation? Alternatively, where could one find conditions friendly to creating such a nation?
On the road last night, listening to some public radio program, I heard the story of La Réunion, Texas. This now-extinct village served as the inspiration (in name only) for Reunion Tower, Reunion Area, and that whole part of the Dallas Skyline as we know it today.
In 1850, a group of socialists fled France after the various European uprisings of 1848 were brutally crushed by the imperial powers-that-were. They wound up in the newly annexed state of Texas and established a colony near a newish town called Dallas. Their mission was to build a land of liberté, égalité, et fraternité to serve as an example for the world. The colony failed miserably, not because the forces of Capitalism destroyed it, but mostly because it consisted of thinkers and dreamers with none of the necessary skills like farming and construction.
La Réunion left a legacy nonetheless. After the Civil War, however, they used their liberal arts skills to help administer the Reconstruction in Texas. Some descendants of its founders still live in Greater Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington.
Let's not forget that the Zendik Tribe, practitioners of Creavolution, also once dwelt in Texas. They had to move to North Carolina and eventually West Virginia for cleaner air when founder Wulf Zendik's emphysema was diagnosed. The Tribe hung together quite a bit longer than Les Réunionistes, eventually disbanding in 2013 and ending my hopes of retiring at Zendik Farm. The domain zendik.org is available.
So as romantic as the notion of creating an anarchist Autonomous Zone may be, I don't invest much hope in it. Nation-states may not be any better at maintaining a society that provides material needs and creative freedom sufficiently for everyone: To do so requires establishing a social contract to which all the nation's residents must agree enthusiastically. The closest I have seen to such a nation is Germany. Even in Germany, hundreds of thousands fall through the cracks, but at least the government tries to remedy the situation. In my native country, as much progress as we have made in human and civil rights just in my lifetime, wealth and power are aligned to halt and reverse that progress.
OK, I just noticed that the sun has come out to play for a bit. I'm going to enjoy it while I can.
I did drive over to Monte Cristo Cottage and the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center this afternoon to look around, and was glad I did. The O'Neill Center wasn't completely deserted, but it felt as if I had the place all to myself. Gene's ghost was likely there, too, but sleeping off a bender, so he wasn't a bother.
I also visited the Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School off Ocean Avenue in New London. A few years ago, the City of New London decided to make all of its schools magnets, as I may have mentioned in a previous entry.
Regarding Zendik Farm: I should note that my plans to retire there were more in the realm of fantasizing. I lost my enthusiasm when I heard from more than one source that Wulf Zendik was a bit of a homophobe, considering homosexuality "unnatural." That said, when I visited the erstwhile Zendik Farm in Bastrop TX, there was at least one resident there, a former Baylor football player, who was quite happily exploring his own not-entirely-straight orientation. After the move to West Virginia, the Zendik website mentioned that several of the residents were heavily into World of Warcraft, which seemed more than a tad DeathKultur to me. Here's a remarkably even-handed assessment, written by a former Zendik, of how the Tribe lost its way, and how it wasn't all that great a way to begin with.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.