Sunday, March 28, 2010


We're busily committing our dollars to our summer's visit to the island.

Birr, in particular, in a county nobody's heard of -- Offaly -- to be visited by a guy from a county nobody's heard of, either -- Chenango, in New York state.

So, today we reserved our car for a month, and sent out e-mails to people we want to see and talk to again (after our short stay there four years ago).

As part of that, we checked into what little Edmund, son of the Enrights of Enrights' pub in Birr, was up to.

Seems to be doing okay, he does:

Most of my efforts concerning meeting folks in Ireland this coming August are now concerned with astronomy-type stuff, not necessarily interesting to SherWords readers (except Brian, maybe), but seeing "Mundy" is high on our list of hoped-fors!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Applaud Silently. Round Up All the Gypsies.

SherWords almost never gets political. Lord knows, the blogosphere has plenty of outlets for that sort of stuff. This venue is for other things, usually.

But once in a while, political things become just too damn overwhelming to ignore, and today is one of those times.

We are squirming now in a time when our federal politicians are locked in a "partisan" (read: tribal) battle so polarized that a man of massively-verifiable patriotism and honor is called a "nigger" and is spat upon, that congressmen's relatives are targeted with threats of violence, and that a national political figure can "target" foes on her website with gunsight crosshairs without censure from those who might benefit from her excess.

We are, in short, in a political time of grade-school intellect armed with automatic weapons.

We are also in a time of blind hatred of those who have reasoned opinions that are different from ours. For those of us who have been alive for more than six decades, that mix of attitudes and approaches is frighteningly familiar.


When I was in college in the 1960's, Eric Andersen was a musical icon right up there with Bob Dylan. I remember with sharp brilliance his "Today Is the Highway" wafting from dormitory windows in the spring of '66 -- but he sort of submerged after that spring of thirsty boots.

He went his way, and I went mine.

Three decades later, I re-discovered him. His career had been a middling one in the interim, but his life had proceeded in its own unscripted way, primarily in Europe. There, he had witnessed, with an American perspective, the insidious and virulent ways in which hatred can recapture its past triumphs. He wrote a number of songs that attempted to rip the masks of respect from hate.

And this is the most powerful of them, I think:


The rain falls down in Amsterdam the streets are wet and black
Midnights like November by the glow of a cigarette.

The girls on hash in station square looking stupid from the drugs.
When Marlene heard the boots march there were reasons to be dumb.
Shiny helmets in the shadows,
Those trains that left at night,
Those hiding in the cellars, those eyes afraid of light.

Something 'neath the border's poured poison in the well;
The creature has uncoiled and is crawling up from hell.

Here comes 1914,
Those cattle cars and yellow stars...

It's right back to the roots,
It's movin' in the open with a snarl and a growl,
The cages have been broken and the beast is on the prowl:

Fire bomb those houses, burn those refugees,
Be the crowd and do your work
Applauding silently.

Round up all the gypsies,
Go sell them on the trains.

Can't you smell the smoke now,
Drifting through the rain?

Jews, better draw your curtains,
You better lock your doors up tight.
They're snarling up in Rostock in the beer hall belly nights.
The Fourth Reich's coming now baby,
They're writing out the page in Rome, Berlin, and Stockholm...

The beast has left the cage.

Here comes 1932, here comes deja vu.

Those cattle cars and yellow stars --

Was there someone that you knew?

It's right there in the open -- somethings smelling bad --
The cages have been broken and the beast is a running mad --
Those canals and cozy houses,
Those reflections in the light,
You can almost feel it moving,
The monster in the night.

It's looking with its yellow eyes;
It's out to settle scores in the dim medieval distance.
Feel it breathing down your pores.

In Salt Lake City and in Rio
The beast can smell the flames.
It's faxing hate out in Marseilles, typing out your name --
You can hear the windows shatter as the time is drawing near:

Kristall Nacht come to town,
Welcome back to the house of mirrors!
The fire and the armbands and the iron arm salutes
Pointing to the scapegoat:
Was it me or was it you?

It's right there in the open --
Don't just stand there hoping --
The leashes have been broken
And the dogs are on the loose.

Now I have been here thinking how lucky I have been:
I never touched the barbed wire, never saw the money grin,
No rifle ever smashed my face, no bare electric shock...

But I'll confess up
All I know who I am and who I'm not.
To see retired killers is to see the lion yawn.
The skinheads do their dirty work for the cloak and dagger pawns,
The dark eyes will be waiting there
When the borders they are crossed.

So keep your filthy swastikas and shove your iron cross.

Here comes 1914,

Those cattle cars and yellow stars,
It's right back to the roots,
It's out there in the open,
It's crawling on the move,
The cages have been broken and the beast is on the loose.

Can't you smell the blood now,
Can't you smell the truth?

And the rain falls down in Amsterdam.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Post for St. Patrick's Day

Q: What's Irish and gets jumped over by reckless teenagers?

A: Paddy O'Furniture

These photos were taken by my Dad, Lynn Harrington, in the summer of 1962, when I turned 15. The little Gunnison pre-fab house was the box I grew up in, but, to me then, it was a mansion. In the upper-left of the second photo is what I'm sure was Chenango County's finest treehouse at the time.

I'd have a hard time jumping over a thumb drive now.