It occurred to me . . . that it had not been by accident that the people with whom I had preferred to spend time in high school had, on the whole, hung out in gas stations. ~ JOAN DIDION
I've struggled -- okay, not a lot, but enough -- to find a common theme in the 10 blog posts I have selected as representative of the breadth and depth of Kiko's House over the past decade. That theme, I suppose, is that the world has very much departed from the narratives to which we have always been accustomed, the ones we were nurtured on as youngsters, were reinforced in our textbooks when we were students, later still by politicians and other supposedly smart people when we were all grown up, and we comfortingly took to our graves.
We stopped blowing our horn about milestones at Kiko's House a few years ago. For one thing, it was a tad narcissistic considering that some current affairs blogs have more visitors before breakfast on a slow day than we've had in our entire lifetime. And while history has a really annoying way of repeating itself, there also has been a certain redundancy to many of our posts.
All that noted, November 2015 is a milestone. We're now not only 10 years young, but are closing in on 2 million visitors, among them some charter readers who are still with us, including the little old lady from southeastern England who sees UFOs from her loo. (Thank you so much for your loyalty, Tillie.) These visitors hail from 200 or so countries, including Milwaukee.
Visitors seldom leave comments, although there have been conspicuous exceptions. A post on the epidemic of cancers in American golden retrievers has received over 200 comments -- an extraordinary number for a smallish blog. This post has, completely by accident, become a Wailing Wall for people who have lost their beloved dogs to cancer and have reached out to share their experiences.
Kiko's House has been photograph oriented from the jump, and we've run over 800 standalone images from photographers the world over in addition to images embedded in posts. But the photo above shot by Damon Winter of The New York Times in Chester, Pennsylvania a month before the 2008 presidential election rises above the rest because it is such a striking visual metaphor for Barack Obama's travails -- and America's, as well -- an all too frequent topic here.
I would also like to point out that we're still being fed the same old narratives. And like Joan Didion, the people I preferred to spend time with in high school hung out at gas stations.
-- Love and Peace, SHAUN
CRIME & PUNISHMENT: A TALE OF TWO CITIES (September 28, 2006) Earlier this week, Cashae Corley, a five year old riding in her mother's car in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, became the 287th murder victim of 2006 in Philadelphia. Eighty miles to the north, a homeless man in the Bronx became New York City's 409th murder victim. That's one murder for every 5,200 residents in Philadelphia, a city of 1.5 million people, and one murder for every 19,000 residents in New York, a city of 8.1 million. This means that you're about four times more likely to end up in the morgue in the City of Brotherly Love than the Big Apple. Why?
N.J. HOSPITALS CRISIS: CULLEN WAS NOT THE PROBLEM, HE WAS A SYMPTOM (October 28, 2008) Charles Cullen is every hospital's worst nightmare: A deranged nurse who methodically murders patients by giving them hard-to-detect overdoses of medications. Cullen, who was arrested in 2004 after a 16-year crime spree made considerably easier because a severe nursing shortage enabled him to go undetected as he moved from hospital to hospital, told authorities that he murdered as many as 45 patients at hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
THE SAGA OF THE CEDARS: WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD CONSERVATIVES (January 5, 2010) Harvey and Harriet Cedars are not just the breadwinners in a typical conservative Christian Republican family. They're hard working middle-class folks who have been going through some very hard times but were confident that their president, his government and the Supreme Court that he has molded over the last seven years were on their side, which is to say God's side. This has been good enough for the Cedars because they knew that God was on their side -- their God anyway. Then things got all crazy.
WOULD JESUS HAVE TORTURED? (September 29, 2010) The smell of autumn is in the air on this Sunday morning, that intoxicating aroma of decaying leaves, ripe apples and bedewed grass brilliantly illuminated by the sun in a cloudless azure blue sky. But there is another smell as well and it is not so sweet – the smell of hypocrisy as the faithful file into a conservative Christian church.
WHY THE AMERICAN DREAM IS DEAD (March 28, 2011) Sadly -- and for me bitterly -- the American Dream is not merely on vacation because of a return to difficult economic times. It is dead. And while it is fashionable to blame feckless politicians and greed mongers for its demise, we all share responsibility as we take ever less responsible for our country, as well as ourselves.
11 YEARS AFTER THE 9/11 ATTACKS, THE GREATEST U.S. COVER-UP REMAINS INTACT (September 11, 2012) Eleven years after the 9/11 catastrophe, the Bush administration cover-up of why the terrorist attacks were carried out despite the White House, CIA and FBI being repeatedly warned of them still holds. Not only has the final word not come out about this malfeasance of enormous and arguably criminal proportions, hardly any word about it has.
THE TRUE STORY OF THE MOST POWERFUL MEN IN AMERICA & A GANG RAPE (February 19, 2014) This is the story of how the three most powerful men in America were responsible for the gang rape of a 14-year-old girl, who was burned to a blackened char, and the murder of her parents and sister. The enablers of these heinous crimes were President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who conspired to invade Iraq for bogus reasons, then starved the Army of the men and materiel to get the job done, which led to a lengthy occupation that triggered an Al Qaeda insurgency and a protracted civil war.
'I WAKE UP TO THE SOUND OF MUSIC SPEAKING WORDS OF WISDOM, LET IT BE' (April 4, 2014) Many years on, I look back on a life in which music has been a nearly constant companion. But until recently, as relatively well read as I am on music, musicians and even a little music theory, I never considered my own role -- the role of listener. Why does music feel so good to me? Why do I feel so much?
FIVE YEARS ON: WHY THE PALIN BIRTH HOAX STORY STILL SHOULDN'T GO AWAY (May 28, 2014) Rumors, innuendo and inconclusive photographs do not a true story make, but the fact of the matter is that five-plus years after the birth of Trig Paxson Van Palin, there is no proof that Sarah Palin is his biological mother and evidence he may be her grandson.
POLITIX UPDATE: WHEN THINGS FELL SERIOUSLY APART & THE CENTER DIDN'T HOLD (September 8, 2015) We'll motor past how the brilliant Yeats, as prescient as he could be, foresaw this political season and the coming of Donald Trump nearly 100 years ago in his classic dirge for the decline of civilization, but today even the best in the overcrowded Republican field seem to lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity, and surely some revelation is at hand. Or so we should fear.
IMAGE CREDITS: (OBAMA) DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES; (CRIME) JIM MacMILLAN/PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS; (9/11) NATIONAL PARK SERVICE; (MUSIC) "THREE MUSICIANS" By PABLO PICASSO; (TRUMP) DONKEY HOTEY