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Two Presidential Library's

After walking through the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas I come away convinced that Ike was the country's last decent President, and that we may never have a man as well-suited to the job again. That he was a military man who cautioned about the 'military-industrial complex', played golf, took up painting in his later years, and produced a grandson who would go on to marry his Vice-President's daughter, are all to his credit. I'm told on good authority that Ike was a reader, and devoured Louis L' Amour westerns like candy, though no mention was made of this important fact is made in his Presidential Library.

The top floor of the the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas is closed due to a leaky roof: I wonder what this means, beyond the obvious, and if LBJ would have taken a stand on climate change, given the rapacious nature of the extraction industry and the powerful role it plays in local, state, and national politics. As I came of political age during LBJ's reign, sitting at a card table at a mall in Torrance, California in 1968 registering voters on behalf of Eugene McCarthy, the almost forgotten poet/politician, I'm familiar with the general path of Johnson's political trajectory though hazy on many of the details: his library reminds me that LBJ was a protean achiever with a gut-level understanding of the downtrodden, the poor, people of color, and accomplished many wonderful things on their behalf. LBJ had five telephones in his West Wing office and would often work all five at once.

Regarding Vietnam, LBJ's downfall as President, I come away from his library thinking that he simply slipped on the banana peel of history, but not sure whether or not this is the way I'm supposed to come away thinking.


A Thousand Miles Ago

Sitting there one morning surrounded by grasslands, as close to the middle of nowhere as I've ever been in some time, I can see how doomed my little project is but can't imagine not going on--that's how doomed it is, my little project.

The refrigerator in the RV is 'out' again, and I can't walk to coffee. My friend the writer tells me he's working on his new book, but it's not about poetry as he'd told me, it's about science fiction. We both own a televison no one is watching.

Up ahead, somewhere between Trinidad, Colorado and Sterling, Kansas there's a big Victorian house I can buy for $1,700.00. It's painted yellow and looks good from the outside. A meth addict and his 3 kids have been living in it for the past two years: I don't know this until I've bought the house and opened the front door for the first time and see that what I've bought isn't The American Dream.

By the time I get to Oklahoma I can't wait to get out of Oklahoma. I take the Interstate for some reason, though I'd vowed not to take the Interstates.

Kansas is so far behind me, those last little towns I stopped in and enjoyed--Wellington especially and Caldwell too. If I was to go back in time I'd settle in a small town in Kansas and live my life all over again.


Chaco Culture, northeastern New Mexico

Thursday, May 9, 2019
Traveling, I discover something about my own language and imagine the discovery is very much like an archaeologist discovering an entire buried civilization in the rubble and sandstone of northeastern New Mexico.
My discovery is this: that I have to this point in my life referred to time as something being taken away from me, as in the road from Gallup, New Mexico to the turnoff to Chaco Canyon takes a long time, and the road from the turnoff to arrive at the Chaco Culture Visitors Center, a 20 mi. unpaved road so tortuous that it unhinges the refrigerator in our RV, takes even longer...
Time isn't being taken from me, it never has been and never will be. Time isn't a possession, something that can be taken from me, as posited by my culture and embedded in its way of life, and as embodied in such an utterance. Such an utterance is the way my language is set up within me, the way it's been conditioned and custom-fit for the world I'm living in, and I have the power to change the way I've been taught to think about time by changing my language.
This discovery may seem to you, the reader, to be a small find, but to me it's monumental. It causes me to examine the nature of other utterances, both spoken and written, that I habitually make. That I make this discovery in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a dirt road in northeastern New Mexico after walking for hours through the ruins of Chaco Canyon, a World Heritage Site, only adds to the delight of the discovery.


Authors Lise Weil and Renate Stendhal on Lesbian Desire and Liberation


When author and editor Lise Weil wrote about lesbian desire for the first time, it was in response to Sex and Other Sacred Games, a novel by Kim Chernin and Renate Stendhal. Weil reviewed the book for Trivia: A Journal of Ideas, of which she was then editor. The year was 1991. Now some 28 years later, both Weil and Stendhal have published memoirs centered on lesbian desire: Weil’s In Search of Pure Lust recalls the 70s and 80s in the U.S., a time when lesbian desire was the throbbing center of an entire culture and a movement. Stendhal’s memoir Kiss Me Again, Paris evokes the same women’s culture at its height in Paris, when the entire city was suffused with lesbian eros. Their memoirs are “sister books” from across the Atlantic, both celebrating, albeit with different cultural inflections, a historical era Stendhal considers the lost “Golden Age” for women.

Read the full conversation here.




Renate Stendhal and Lise Weil in Conversation KPFK Women's Magazine