Man playing a guitar with his hair sticking straight up in the air and his face in a strange scowl he's wearing a plaid shirt without sleeves and he has long sideburns, the name Neil Young in red letters at top and Powderfinger below

"Look out, mama, there's a white boat coming down the river" ~ from Neil Young's "Powderfinger"

Damned little makes me happier than riding a bicycle – except maybe a motorcycle. For our purposes today, though, it's the human-powered invention usually attributed to a 19th century French man who was allergic to horses(hit).

I pedal, I thrive. Rhythmic grooves arrive. I bob my head in time as my legs go to the Derby, pumping energy through chain to wheels barely more mechanical than a chariot. Good lawd, I loves you, Porgy!

And when I'm feeling good, I want to the whole neighborhood to hear it.

Thus I break out in song. Lately, Powderfinger.

I lustily howl the quoted opening line--then forget virtually every other word except

Red means run, son, numbers add up to nothing from a following verse where the father advises the rebel son bravery isn't everything. Then – no kidding – I go into Rod Stewart's Maggie May

You made a first-class fool out of me
I'm as blind as a fool can be
oh Maggie I wish I'd never seen your fa-oh-ace

They call that a mash-up, I believe.

One of the most beautiful lines Young ever wrote comes after young Johnny Reb lifts his gun to fire but gets killed instead. In the final verse comes:

  Shelter me from the powder and the finger

Zoom to now.

This poetic plea describes the anti-gun crowd's perfectly legitimate plea for sanity. I am a Trump-voting independent conservative who has been battling fellow conservatives on Facebook: quit defending the 2nd amendment and pro-actively advocate for comprehensive solutions. I am done worrying about their rights to own arsenals.

Many things can be done – now and how: full enforcement immediately and permanently of all existing gun laws; make heads roll at the FBI and sheriff's office for apathetic performances; super-strict licensing for purchase and ownership; partial bans on black weapons; cancel Obama's Education Department edict demanding lax minority discipline stats; guards at schools; better outreach to the troubled; a total ban on bullying. And anything else reasonable you can think.

I don't like guns.

I hate modern massacres.

I can't stand the exploiters.

I can't handle the do-nothings.

The time for gun-owners and NRA to become problem-solvers is long overdue. Right now I am so sick of the lack of concern for the schoolkids I could spit. It is not moral to only care about your gun rights. These ain't slow-firing 1776 long-guns we're defending. They defend their weapons, they don't defend the defenseless. Absurdly sick.

These steps require the Left to give in on certain domestic social ideas, too, as much as the Right must morally do everything it can--everything--to live safely first, armed second. The Left has got lift the instinct to racialize school discipline. It has got to allow ethical and traditional values to be taught again.

Parkland did me in. The Left, the Right and The Man In The Middle – nobody offered true leadership. Nobody. We have to demand comprehensive steps immediately and then seriously debate sophisticated weaponry availability. A partial ban won't kill you.

Until then, we have to do everything we can possibly think of. In the meantime, I'm disgusted with our entire political class and the supporters who won't begin the hard work of attacking this problem from every direction.

An aside: have you noticed how many problems we aren't solving these days? Politics is full of non-problem-solvers in case you hadn't noticed. What are we paying these assholes for?

Many years ago I was witness to an armed beef between three or four young men, probably teenagers, and a whole lot of shooting at people hiding on the other side of my parked car. My Suzuki took a lot of rounds and shot. Noone was wounded or killed. But I will absolutely never forget the bravest act I've ever seen in my life (including Afghanistan) when a Lt. Ciello blocked the street with his Columbus Police Department cruiser, jumped out with his shotgun, ran up the house's steps, kicked in the door and had the perps on the floor immediately in surrender. Unreal. Fantastic. Where does that kind of courage of a strong man armed like that come from?

Those sheriffs in Florida? Fire 'em. The FBI who were warned and did nothing? Fire 'em. We got to start taking this crap seriously. Pro-active – from this moment forward we have to be pro-active. In Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson, he says LBJ's formula for success was that "if you do absolutely everything you can think of to accomplish your goal, you have a chance to make it." Ditto us.

Since Parkland – which I have taken very personally – I think of Neil's final verse as I ride in Powderfinger:

Shelter me from the powder and the finger

cover me with thought that pulled the trigger

think of me as one you never figured

would fade away so young

with so much left undone

remember me to my love

I know I'll miss her


  Someday I'll have the whole song sung. Until then our work together remains undone




It's April--National Poetry Month, so let's remember Langston Hughes, the great Missouri-born poet and leader of the Harlem Renaissance project. Plaintive yet humorous, he dealt with the human blues in human hues:

            To the tune o' those Weary Blues

With his ebony hands on each ivory key

            He made that poor piano moan with melody.

The stars went out and so did the moon.

            The singer stopped playing and went to bed

            While the Weary blues echoed through his head.

            He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.

  You should hear Weary Blues with him backed by Charles Mingus and Leonard Feather.

  From Hope: Sometimes when I'm lonely/Don't know why/Keep thinkin' I won't be lonely/By and by.

  From Late Last Night: Here I sit/With my shoes mismated/Lawdy-mercy! I's frustrated!

  Langston Hughes, the greatest blues poet there ever was.

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