Pillars of the Community

“To steal from a brother or sister is evil. To not steal from the institutions that are the pillars of the Pig Empire is equally immoral.”  ~Abbie Hoffman

The city in East Texas where I live has over 100,000 people, but we only have two grocery stores to choose from: Walmart, and Brookshire’s.

Brookshire’s is ungodly expensive, and I believe that has more to do with the local social strata than anything else. There’s a saying here, only partly in jest, that if you’re less than third-generation then you’re still the new kid. Brookshire’s customers are willing to pay more not because of better quality or better choices, but simply because the higher prices keep out the riff-raff.

So those of us in the working class don’t really have a choice. We have to go to Walmart because it’s the only place we can afford.

The local Walmart recently remodeled, and only have three manned checkout lanes now. All the rest are self-checkout. The cashier told me that the last remaining three are going to be phased out, and everyone will have to scan and sack their own groceries.

I asked about my 88-year-old father. She said he’d have to learn to do it himself. I said he can’t. She said he’ll have to.

Walmart is one of the most profitable chains in America, and they’re going to lay off their most underpaid workers.  They are counting on their customers to do their work for them, for free, so the stockholders can enjoy larger dividends.

Be super careful as you check out your own groceries. You sure don’t want to make a mistake.


Me and Sherwood and Billy Pilgrim

From Malcom Cowley’s introduction to the Penguin Classic’s edition of Sherwood Anderson’s Windesburg Ohio, © 1919:

One characteristic of the subconscious is a defective sense of time: in dreams the old man sees himself as a boy, and the events of thirty or forty years may be jumbled together. Time as a logical succession of events was Anderson’s greatest difficulty in writing novels or even long stories. He got his tenses confused and carried his heroes ten years forward or back in a single paragraph. His instinct was to present everything together, as in a dream.

I have the same problem.  Time just doesn’t seem linear to me.

I’ve had the experience more than once of finding a date on a ticket stub or an old letter which proves conclusively that the order of things as I remembered them could not be true.  It’s always a little disorienting.

I’ve thought of making an autobiographical blog, but it couldn’t possibly be chronological. The memories would be more like a series of colored panes that wouldn’t necessarily fit together to make a stained glass window.

Most of Sherwood Anderson’s novels and short stories are in the public domain, and can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg, HERE.


I’m very leery of the movement to legalize marijuana.

The same people with the power to improve our lives are instead offering to sell us– at a substantial profit– a few moments relief from the world they have created.

That’s not nearly good enough.


Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we have to do it, and just because we posses something doesn’t mean we deserve to possess it.

I read an article that said the coming revolution in artificial intelligence and automation is going to cause social upheaval as millions of people are thrown out of work. Self-driving cars and trucks eliminate the need for taxi drivers and truckers, self-checkouts eliminate the need for cashiers, robots will cook the meals in restaurants and assemble consumer goods.

But we don’t have to build those things. We can leave things the way they are, or even go back to a simpler time if we want to. If a robot is going to ruin our lives, then lets not build it.  It’s not “progress” if it’s making everyone unhappy.

And on a different topic, Republicans believe that because they have accumulated a pile of money it logically follows that they deserve to have accumulated a pile of money; and furthermore, it would be a sin and a disgrace to tax that pile of money to take care of the people they took it from.

I don’t think it’s wrong to expect a little better than that from people.



I remember missing the bell at recess when I was a small boy.  While I was engrossed watching bugs in a field, the rest of the class had lined up in rows and marched in unison back to their desks.  I looked up and found myself all alone.

It’s a peculiar kind of loneliness when you realize everyone has left, and no one noticed you weren’t with them.

The older I get, the more familiar that feeling becomes.

Full lyrics HERE.

We Saw Yesterday Last Week

Mona and I went to see a Beatle’s tribute band last week, and they were a lot of fun.

We didn’t go expecting to relive Beatlemania, we just wanted to sing and dance and enjoy the songs that have become such a part of our lives.  The band we saw, Yesterday: The Beatles’ Tribute, gave us over two hours of solid cover versions, and everyone there had a great time and left happy.

They are on the web HERE.  They’re worth seeing.