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Guns

Thank you for a wonderfully argued and utterly reasonable essay on guns in the new issue of Scene4 Magazine. Truly: hear, hear! I had five poems ("Five Easy Irish-Americans") in the April and May issues of Scene4, but I've written extensively on the issue of gunsand gun-control (or the lack thereof.) I was an infantry officer and served four years in the 25th Infantry Division circa the first Gulf War. It's not despite but precisely because of my familiarity with firearms that I think the ease of access to guns in America and our overall "gun culture" is absolute madness. Last September, I had a major essay,"Guns and the American," published in an online magazine called The Rumpus (it was favorably cited soon after by Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast.) I send along the link since I thought you might enjoy reading it (and to balance out some of the malicious mail that you'll probably get from the gun-nuts concerning your essay.) I hope you enjoy it.. And thank you for always-interesting essays in Scene4.

Patrick Walsh

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I greatly enjoyed your essay as well, grounded as it is in an experience that I don't have but which is crucial for those who would consider themselves would-be "regulated militia" types and think that they canhandle their guns without being handled by them (or at least handled by their fetishism about them). I also enjoyed (if that's the word) the comments that followed your piece. Many Americans don't seem to understand the purpose of government ingeneral and our government in particular and the crucial role they play ascitizens in making the government "work" (that is, to their advantage and notthe advantage of the rentier classes). Rather than making the trek along the path of the patient slog to build popular movements for socialjustice, many Americans have the apocalyptical mind-set that all will become betterin a blaze of glory. Perhaps it's a hangover from our Puritan ancestors orthe infection of Christian fundamentalism. But it is surely politically lazy. Thanks, again, for your comments.

Michael Bettencourt

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Thank you for reading my essay and for your kind comments. I wrote the first section as a kind of curriculum vitae; I felt it was important toestablish my "credentials" in order to get the ears of people who are on theother side of the issue (or perhaps on the fence.) One thing that I really enjoyed in your article (and which ties in all too well with your spot-on observation about many Americans'"apocalyptical mind-set") is your critique of the people who feel that gun ownership is some kind of emergency measure in case our government turnstyrannical. As one of the commenters on my piece noted, these are the folks who have watched "Red Dawn" one too many times and think that bands of weekend hunters with sporting rifles are going to beat a regular army and its attendant, high-tech firepower/airpower. Your point that agovernment--our government--doesn't need to engage in combat in order to control the populace is the more realistic insight. Of course, the implications ofthat idea mean organizing, educating, and staying lucid in an ongoing fightfor social justice--all concepts that are pretty much anathema to the "gun-nuts" crowd. Thanks again for your essay and for your enjoyable reply. It's encouraging to know that, amidst the din of demagogues and outright crackpots,there are writers and thinkers out there such as yourself making their voicesheard.

Patrick Walsh

read Michael Bettencourt's column

On Lawrence

Thank you Mr. Walsh. Yours is a very perceptive and informative view of the brilliance of Lawrence. Well written. And mixed with your military experiences it offers a clear and present view of the danger and mess we have gotten ourselves into. You should be in the Pentagon hammering your treatise on the wall. They need voices like yours.

Thomas M. Donaldson

read Patrick Walsh's column

On Lawrence

I'm not sure I agree with the previous writer. Lawrence was an enigma and some of his core principles were counter-productive. Lean captured this beautifully in his film. I don't think we can afford the Lawrences of this world any more, even though they are still very active in South America and Africa. Lawrence and his thinking flourished in the days of the British empire and those days are thankfully gone, maybe.

B. Kendell

read Patrick Walsh's column

Lawrence

Enigma or not, Lawrence triumphed where everyone else failed and he nearly pulled off the "birth of a nation" without being part of a gang that wanted in when they were out. Right man, right time always is a winner.

Michael Aptrow

read Patrick Walsh's column

re: Yeats and Politics

I think that, today, W.B. Yeats would finally follow in the footsteps of Shaw and Joyce and head over the not-so emerald hills of the Irish republic to a more "sober" place to rest.

Everett Brody

read the prior letter
read Patrick Walsh's article

Rock&roll is dead? Come on.

(Patrick) Walsh is so wrong. Rock&roll is fucking alive! It's the greatest American music ever with the greatest musicians ever. It's everything that the United States is, the heart and soul, all through the world. The old music is dead. Walsh is dead and if he listens hard and dances harder, maybe I'll say "long live Walsh"!

Danny Millingham

read Patrick Walsh's column

re: Rock&roll is dead? Come on.

If rock&roll is 'the greatest American music ever with the greatest musicians ever" then American music is dead! White anglo-saxon music that is. Rock is at the bottom of the heap that defines the great art of music -- drummers who can't keep time, singers who can't keep pitch or demumble lyrics, guitar players who strum the strings and have noithing to say unlike most jazz guitarists. As for songwriting in the world of pop, the American songbook closed its covers 40 years ago. Millingham must believe that Eric Clapton is a great guitarist and Bob Dylan is "the" poet of the 20th century. Pity that. Rock is not music, it's a scene, it's a video-game to wave hands in the air and pretend that you and I are the awkward, bouncing, gurgling performers on the stage, on the screen. The final burial rites of pop music is rap--can't sing like most of us? then grunt and moan in a drudging monotone and call it poetry. Rock isn't dead music, it was never music, alive or dead.

Michael Aptrow

read the prior letter

read Patrick Walsh's column

Wifred Owen

Wilfred Owen is not forgotten but sadly unknown to so many of the rising generations. His was a powerful voice: "I feel my own life all the more precious and more dear in the presence of this deflowering of Europe." This should be a banner flying over the whole world - Europe, America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa - the whole world. His life and words are remembered. Thanks to Patrick Walsh for that.

J. Patric

read Patrick Walsh's column

Peter Benchley

Peter Benchley was a remarkable man in the way he used his celebrity and expertise to promote the salvation of our oceans, It is a tragedy to see his incredible effort come to naught as 2/3 of our planet and an underwater world we barely know seems destined to deteriorate and fade into our history. To be sure if it does, our history will fade away with it. Thank you Patrick Walsh for your personal and perceptive profile of a great man.

Tovah J. Rubin

read Patrick Walsh's column

My Choice Too, Holy Rollercoaster

I loved this piece on Chaminade. "The Nade" as we refer to it nowadays was quite the trip was it not? I chose to leave public school to go there and I still think I made the right decision. Going there did prepare me for an Ivy League education that I would never have caught a whiff of if I didn't make that fateful choice as an eighth grader. Whether we agree or not on our Chaminade experience value - yours is a great retrospective piece that captured the "US and THEM" mentality that was most definitely a hallmark of that school.

Tony Greer

Patrick Walsh's column: "My Own Damned Fault"

The Documentaries of Ken Burns

This was a nice review of a portion of Ken Burns' work, but I do not agree that everyone is equally fascinated by his documentaries. I find them truly hard to watch, even tedious. Maybe one reason became clear to me as I read this piece: The documentaries reviewed are very male-centric. Only one woman is mentioned in the whole article, Doris Kearns Goodwin commenting on Baseball. Burn's documentaries reflect his interests as well as our history as a country, and reflect the fact that for so long men ran things and were the ones written about. However, I don't think that applies to the more recent ones about the Roosevelts, which I actually found interesting, full of humanity and actual human interaction on a different level.

Christa Watters

read Patrick Walsh's column: "An American Treasure..."

Re: The Documentaries of Ken Burns

Ms. Watters takes my list of commentators out of context. I mention various interviewees in Baseball - a list prefaced with "for example"-to illustrate the eclectic range of people Ken Burns marshals in all his films.There are admittedly less women involved in Baseball than in other Burns documentaries, but Doris Kearns-Goodwin is by no means the only female interviewed. In fact, Burns devotes much time and several chapters to women involved with the game, notably Jackie Robinson's equally heroic wife, Rachel, as well as those who actually played or owned teams, including segments on:  the formation of women's baseball teams at women's colleges in New York and New England  female pitching great Jackie Mitchell  the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, with interviews of former Rockford Peaches players Dottie Green, Marie Kelley, and Mary Pratt Effa Manley, owner of the Newark Eagles and the only female owner in the Negro Leagues
The documentary series Jazz contains many more female voices. Not only are there more female commentators (Margo Jefferson, Helen Oakley Dance, Phoebe Jacobs, Mercedes Ellington, Chan Parker, Joya Sherrill, Norma Miller), but a number of women comprise the art's most central figures, such as Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday. Still, celebrated historian Jacques Barzun (a Parisian by birth and childhood, mind you) famously and rightly counseled: "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball."
Part of what informs his comment is that baseball, like Jazz music, serves as a perfect microcosm of American life.Sadly, a big part of that story is injustice. Baseball's most glaring injustice was the Color Ban, a conspiracy which kept black Americans out of the supposedly "National Pastime" for nearly 70 years. But both Ken Burns and I would be quick to point out another terrible injustice: on June 21, 1952, Major League Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick banned the signing of women to professional contracts. With the stroke of a pen, Frick snuffed out an entire league and an era. (My article, "Will women ever be welcome on the baseball field?" appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, April 5, 2009.)
If, however, you find the documentaries of Ken Burns tedious, then I am forced to that say the onus of responsibility sits entirely on your shoulders; as Wynton Marsalis says in Jazz about all great art, you have to rise up to its level, it won't come to you.

Patrick Walsh

read his column:
"Ameriican Treasures: The Documentaries of Ken Burns"

Ken Burns Documentaries

Just read this excellent article on Ken Burns. A revelation to me living where we reach for the hurley  or the cricket bat , but it puts in search of his work for the next dark and rainy evening. Apropos of the author's Gerald Early quote: I recall something said of Clint Eastwood around the release of his Charlie parker film bird - Americas two great art forms:  Jazz and the Western and Clint has contributed to both.

Garrett Fagan

read Patrick Walsh's column: "An American Treasure..."

Nostalgia

Being a quintessential baby boomer, Mister Walsh takes me along on a great fun ride down a nostalgic road, when music and the lyrics were truly memorable. His knowledge and appreciation of that eara is wonderful.

Jimmy Guldin

Patrick Walsh's column: "A Ramble Through The Vinyl"

About Walsh

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to RECENT LETTERS in the Walsh category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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