On Pilgrim Roads with David Garner

David GarnerWhere to begin?

Starting an on-line journal is in many ways the very definition of chutzpah. To presume that what you have to say would be of interest to others (let alone of value) is no small matter. But that is exactly what a writer does. She or he is willing to lay bare their very soul and in so doing “Stand naked in a cold water universe” to quote one of my Jesuit friends from the sixties. In all candor, it’s a lot easier to do this in my eighties than it would have been in my thirties or forties. My views of myself and my writings have changed dramatically. More and more I find myself in agreement with Flaubert when he wrote that “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe”. These columns are every bit as much an exercise in self-discovery as they are opinion pieces.

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Rich’s Rule

guiness, Rich's RuleDonald Trump.There is nothing in his background or mine that would cause me to like this guy. By his own words he is a sexist, misogynistic, race baiting bigot. His actions have led me to the opinion that he is a bully, a narcissist and one of the most insecure individuals in public life today. He is also either a liar or a psychopath, possibly both.

I have a simple test when it comes to judging another male of my species. I call it Rich’s Rule. Rich’s is a bar in my old neighborhood of Argentine in the West Bottoms of Kansas City. The rule is simple. If you would be accepted by the guys that drank at Rich’s, you pass.

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Friday, July 13, 1951

Friday, July 13, 1951 the Kansas City flood through Argentine, KSThe 1951 flood in Kansas City has been referred to by some as that city’s biblical disaster. Published accounts show that the rain fell for forty days. To the north and west of the city, it was closer to ninety days. Over much of the Kaw River basin, the rainfall from May 1 to July 31 exceeded the amount usually seen in an entire year. On Friday, July 13, all that water converged on the Armordale-Argentine section of Kansas City, Kansas.

My friend Red Smith and I had spent that day helping my dad load trucks. My father was a warehouse foreman who worked the loading docks at the Caterpillar Parts Depot in Armordale. We were helping him and other workers in an effort to save as much as possible from what we knew was coming. We were two fifteen year olds who enjoyed the opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with the tough talking, cold eyed dock workers.  Little did we know that within a matter of hours, all of our lives would be changed forever?

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Hi, I'm David and I'm a Racist

David Garner - all people of all races are racistsLet me state the premise of this entry up front knowing full well that many of you will tune out after reading this. It is my contention that well over ninety percent of white persons in this country meet the dictionary definition of racist: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and those racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” I base this assertion on over seventy five years of empirical observation and data. I contend that it is part of our social and cultural DNA and that we need to establish a twelve step program for racists, a meeting where I could stand up and say “Hi. I’m David and I’m a racist” and my fellow racist attendees would respond “Welcome David.” Before we go further, a little background is in order.

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I Remember Bobby

I remember Bobby, from childhood adversary to a lifelong friendIf there isn’t a jazz tune by that name, there should be. I would buy it and play it from time to time. I would play it on summer nights and Sunday mornings for Bobby. Before I get too far into this, you need to understand that the Bobby I am writing about was one of the Bottom Boys of days gone by. Bygone days, the old folks used to say. Well, now that I’m one of the old folks, I guess I can say it too.

I read somewhere that in some cultures, Mexico comes to mind, a person dies three deaths: First when the heart stops beating, second when you’re buried and finally and most importantly I think, when you are no longer in the memory of those who still walk the earth. I have no intention of letting that happen when it comes to the Bottom Boys, especially Bobby. Here’s why.

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Why I Am a Socialist

Eugene Debs, SocialistBefore I get too far into this, I want to mention the names of two persons who have greatly influenced my thinking on this and other subjects over the years, Emma Goldman and Eugene V. Debs. If you aren’t familiar with their lives, please take the time to check them out. For Goldman, I recommend Vivian Gornick’s biography and for Debs, The Bending Cross by Ray Ginger. You can thank me later.

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On Community

on community - West Bottoms of Kansas City, Kansas in the Argentine districtMy ‘Ah ha!’ moment about the vital role community plays in our lives occurred while reading Marilynn Robinson. Please God that I may one day write a sentence as beautiful and true as this:

"Any human face is a claim on you, because you can't help but understand the singularity of it, the courage and loneliness of it”

Why start a post on the importance of community with the above quote? Because to be an individual is to be lonely and just to get through most days requires tremendous courage on our part. We are singular cradle to grave. Without community we would not survive that journey. That is a given. But it is equally true that in community we find our purpose and identity. It is in the neighborhoods of our youth that our initial values and beliefs are formed. Let me introduce you to my formative chrysalis, Argentine.

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