“Poetry, God & Shakespeare” (PG&S)

Broad statements are so much fun to make. It’s probably impossible to make a broad statement without causing some form of human reaction. As a matter of fact, causing reaction is what I do for a living; I either cause a reaction or stimulate an attitude in order to convey the meaning of what the writer may have had in mind (if at the time of writing their mind was still functioning).

There are some I’ve met (too often for my liking) who use the term “boring” as a comment. Many of these folks are as unaware as nature might allow. “Like you know, da harv, I never could get into poetry. It always seemed so sissy to me.”

Usually a remark such as this crowds our stadium – filled with those who claim to be merely the average man or woman. In truth, the classification “average” would also be at the bottom of my intellectual barrel.

“The best laid plans of mice and men/oft go awry.”

Robert Burns

Many who recognize his poem (and song) “Auld Lang Syne” hardly considered it a sissy way to bring in a new year. By the way… you dare not refer to him as sissy, this famous man, “The Bard of Scotland,” while visiting his homeland, or especially not if you’re hoisting a pint or two at a local pub.

I can’t imagine referring to Robert Burns as a sissy. Besides… I have long since forgotten the dolt who referenced this renowned man of letters in such an unbefitting manner.

And speaking of Laureates, Shakespeare is another of the masters many ask questions about. Most folks who respond negatively to this particular Bard do so out of a position of fear and ignorance (not necessarily in that order). They don’t understand what he was saying, nor why he chose to say it the way he did. And I also offer today’s world of great impatience as the possible cause of misinterpretation, or no interpretation at all.

Those of you busy and enraptured by the speed of your thumbs;
Now sending thoughts worldwide to chums

No worries over penmanship
No spelling, or serious dwelling

No knowledge of wells
For a quill, you know as a pen

No need to dip, and spread the ink
Of course it did allow him
This greatest of scribes
Time to think.

And then we have my old friend God. He really doesn’t care if you understand him or not. All he’s saying is: “Trust me. Have some faith, will you.”

NOTE: God’s statement is italicized, because I know it to be true!

DISCLAIMER: The following may not be suitable for anyone other than Harvey Kalmenson.

What follows will usually not apply to the very young; either chronologically or by their lack of maturity, managed during the better part of their life on this planet.

Dealing with pleasure may become equally as disconcerting as coping with some of the seemingly poorest hands a guy could be dealt.

“The problems of victory are more agreeable than the problems of defeat, but they are no less difficult.”
-Sir Winston Churchill

Both pleasure and pain have one important thing in common (or maybe, more than one thing): Both will not and cannot exceed one’s lifetime. Stretching a point, both pain and elation are relative to the individual who’s experiencing either at the time.

“You know what… that’s too damn deep for me.” Perhaps this will help to explain:

It’s All Relative

A) She said:

“I had the best breakfast this morning. You can’t imagine.”

Perhaps an out of work actor who just got paid an unexpected residual. Who amongst us can identify?

B) He said:

“That croissant was real shit. It actually ruined my day”.

The complainant;
He’s probably a politician who hasn’t had to audition for work in twenty years. He demands they give him his money back even though your tax bucks paid for his croissant, in the first place.

(So) Relatively Speaking

Loss or gain
Elation or pain
Ease or strain
Loose and cool
Blowhard or fool
Hanukkah or Yule
Preemptive or exempt (ive) – no such word
Tiger or lamb
At peace or you’d better scram
Don’t bother me
I already gave
I’ll take a look
I think I can
That other guy, he laughs all the time
Does he ever cry?
His wife is such a beauty
No wonder he never cries.
But he’s not very attractive
I get why they talk about her lies.

(And perhaps this might be a good time to summon, by way of quotes, the help of an old mentor, Sir Winston Churchill.)

“If you are going to go through hell, keep going.”

“A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

“It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.”


“Laugh though your heart is breaking.”

When you feel your heart is about to burst, and you wake up the next morning and find the sheets aren’t covered with the blood caused by a massive heart explosion, consider what da harv does next:

(Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth. Most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing has happened.)

Choose to hunt for the inevitable spark
In the most dismal of times, when least expected
When a body seems too tired for the hunt
From your helpers with no form of derision,
Glean from life’s losses, betrayals, and victories,
All scribed earnestly,
With only your betterment at heart,
Your chin to once again be lifted skyward
By more than family;
These three:
“Poetry, God & Shakespeare”

For within these three
All being sought
Are rightfully found
An abstract meaning of sight and sound
When your needs be
Questioning of questions
Allowing allowances
In search of; to be in search of
When not knowing;
Within itself brings strife

Thoughts become subsequent to your day
Stretching unrestricted
The faith you seek lifted from pages
Stimulating its way
From all what was the past
As life presents to you; at last

The proper, improper, and the unseen
The songs, the prayers, and the abstractions,
Clearly, the kindness and the mean

Without prescription
False remembrances become true
From ones self
Faith begins to stir
Friends will meet again
By Poetry, God, and Shakespeare
The past, your present, and future
Today and from within all the ages,
Permit me to remind:
It is yours, truly to glean, if it be your will.
The spark is there
You’re free to astound!

hk, January 2010

“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
-Sir Winston Churchill

While most of what I write about is stimulated by the times we live in today, almost everything I offer an opinion on is done so as the result of experiences gleaned from everyone I have ever met or read about. That, of course, has nothing at all to do with whether or not I liked or disliked the people or the books of my past.

Many people read only what those they admire or agree with write. I salve my need to know with what transcends my love or displeasure for an individual’s life concepts. In simpler terms, the biography of a former or current dictator, along with someone whose political bent is
vastly different from mine may often be found on the nightstand adjoining my bed. I get a kick out of justifying why I dislike someone; just about any depiction of a historical event provides me with an enormous growth potential.

Through the years, the variety of world and local personalities I have read about have provided a divergence of information I would never have been able to find within the confines of my formal education. That isn’t to say I believe going to school is a waste of time. I think the combination of both a formal education, and a good, wholesome sprinkling of life’s experiences are the ideal menu for expansive learning. If I did have to choose between the formal worlds of academia and that of practical learning and application, I would hands down go for the practical land of experience. But if you have the formal schooling, your own reading initiative, and the real life experience of seeing it come to life there before your own eyes, you will find yourself in “hog heaven” – as we say down home in Brooklyn, New York.

Early on, I found many of the people I was reading about were becoming my most intimate of heroes and heroines. Their escapades took me along for the ride. Some of the biographies were written by people who had devoted a good part of their life doing research on the characters I was becoming aware of. It was an endless quest. Some of the famous names of yesteryear had numerous literary recollections of their lives.

When the movies began doing the same life stories I was reading about, I became doubly interested. (It was at this moment in time I became aware of literary license. Much of what was being depicted on the silver screen wasn’t remotely accurate.) Often they made nice guys out of the socially unacceptable, and turned a variety of average everyday kind of folks into heroes of unbelievable magnitude. It was early on when I discovered how few people were sharing my verve for reading. Many folks actually believed what they were seeing on the screen. I.e., they felt Ronald Reagan was a perfect George Gipp. In actuality, Gipp was a guy who played football for Knute Rockne while not really attending Notre Dame. He was a big time drinker and gambler. Rockne epitomized ‘winning at all costs.’ The movies didn’t tell it that way at all.

Mickey Rooney was a far more likeable guy in real life than the real life Thomas Edison, the genius he portrayed on the screen. While Edison may have been one of the great inventors of his day, in real life he was also one of the great anti-Semites of the era. This fact of life was what enabled some Jewish refugees to get a foot in the door and become the giants of the film industry. It’s all documented, if you choose to read about it. Mr. Edison was horribly short of funds when he was in the process of developing his version of the movie camera. Since he refused to deal with Jews as his hard money source, the immigrants did it themselves. The movies did little to spell out Edison’s true private life. What the producers did was typical of the times; they told the best American adaptation of heroism they could mold. Their goals were to produce moneymaking films. Telling it like it is was often placed on the back burner. Apple pie and a glass of milk was how Edison took nourishment, according to the movie adaptation.

By the way, another point of fact, which never made the big screen, was any mention of Edison’s close friend Henry Ford. In the thirties as Ford developed his vast automobile manufacturing empire, he was not bashful about his open display of hatred for the Jewish people. It became so blatant, it began to affect his company’s success. In order to sooth the national complaints Ford was regularly receiving, he took out full-page ads, apologizing for his anti-Semitic statements. The published statements of his apologies had little effect on his lifestyle or the friends he kept; including high-ranking members of the now powerful Third Reich.

In general, it was an era when the reportage was weak at best. The movies were what served as our documentation of the wars, the discoveries, and the wonderment of the American people.

The early World War II films helped to bolster the determination of the young and the old. Without reservation, all of us displayed a degree of pride, being constantly cultivated by the power of our American film makers. Truth be told, the Hollywood set had a patriotic job to do, as requested by the then president of the United States; number thirty two, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. History reports, the president had sealed all information from being reported to the American people by the press. In the beginning of the war the news of our defeats would have severely damaged the will of the people on the home front. Across the board, each and every studio head answered the President’s call. Every movie made heroes of every man and woman serving our country’s war effort. I wonder if that will ever be the case again? In those days, defamation of our country’s character was out of the question. Each movie theater began their shows with a film clip of the American flag rippling in the breeze, full screen. The audiences, without exception all cheered and applauded. What a far cry from today. Even as a child of seven, I stood at attention and saluted. I still do!

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