A fear of flying

Something lost

Squirrels are courageous creatures

Making leaps of faith twenty times a day

Hurling their bodies out into the void

Branch to branch

unafraid

Though, a fledgling bird is no less so

Throwing itself at the sky

Until it stays aloft

I miss the days when people

Were so brave.

Words and image are mine.

Copyright 2021

The next chapter

For those still interested, I have started a website specifically for my images. It’s called Red String Photography. It features a wide selection of the photographs I have produced over the past 7 years.

Though I have posted very little to Runaway American Dream over the past 2 years, I’ve been far from inactive. The images on my new site are a taste of where my interests have taken me.

I hope you’ll take a few moments to check it out and, as always, I welcome your feedback.

Anthony

https://www.redstringphotography.com/gallery

Talkin’ ’bout my Generation

Too old for this gig

Your floppy hair falling

Across your furrowed brow

Your feedback sustain

A disdain

For a less angsty life

Your naive enthusiasm

For 90s bands

Who were

In love with 80s bands

From whom you stole

Your striped tee

All these things

Painfully affected

Are achingly familiar to me

You cast a pensive eye over the crowd

From beneath that floppy fringe

Wondering if We’re as bored as you

(We are).

Revelator

Drop me in the water

Reflecting
I find
That life has lived me
More often than I have lived
It
The years have sped too quickly by
For my uncertain feet
To find good purchase
Rendered mute when words were needed
Numbed by feelings
Hurt by kindness
Life can be cruel
But it’s what we have to work with I suppose.

Words and image are mine, 2020.

Every day is like Sunday

 

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Time passes strangely in the days of Corona

 

Pacing their carpeted cages

Pale, listless ghosts

Scroll news feeds ceaselessly as

Acellular microorganisms

Permeate every fevered thought

 

Belligerent banner-wavers march

Sowing infection vectors

Late Spring graves from April blooms

Their defiant snake coiled and hissing

Don’t cough on me

 

While the (casino) king prevaricates

And Governors prognosticate

The bored masses masticate

And fitfully masturbate

Their night terrors

 

This novel thing divides us

Like some cancerous mutation

We shed empathy like virus

Growing wary of outsiders

And argue with deniers

Whom we hate now more than death.

 

 

 

 

©2020

 

Words and image are my own.

 

 

And now for something completely different, again

 

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Almost every government response to an emergency throughout history has looked like tyranny.

 

Dear “it’s all being faked to steal our freedom” people,

So, you believe they’re all exaggerating. Every government in the World. All the Doctors who are seeing it first-hand. All the grieving families.

COVID-19 was so bad in Wuhan they were welding up entire apartment buildings full of people to contain it and lying about the huge numbers who were dying. People there were jumping out of windows to die faster. We only got a hint of how bad it really was much later, when the cremated remains of the victims were being returned to families in their tens of thousands (where surviving family members remained). And, now the funeral homes are mysteriously burning down.

It was so bad in Iran, they too downplayed the numbers (so as not to appear weak) but the virus cut a swathe through their political elites anyway.

But we’re supposed to believe that here the numbers are being exaggerated upwards, that this is no worse than regular flu? We’re supposed to ignore all the medics tweeting their desperation and despair from the front lines in New York and other hot-spots because the emergency rooms in podunk, Alabama are quiet? Tiktok dance routines are proof that all the doctors are lying about the seriousness of the situation? Are you twelve?

I’m sure all this conspiracy theorizing is fun but if you really believe that every country on the planet (including enemies like Iran) are all coordinating with us to create the ‘lie’ that this virus is much worse than it actually is (even the countries who have consistently under-reported the numbers of dead), sorry friend but you’re a loon.

Y’all stay safe, ya hear?

 

Now, for the rest of us who are taking this seriously, should the lock-downs end? Probably at this point, as the facts on the ground suggest that this virus isn’t going away anytime soon. COVID-19 is likely going to be a fact of life from now on.

If the past month served to cushion our hospitals from the worst of the onslaught then that’s a good thing but it can’t have stopped the virus, only slowed it down. Our hospitals are now going to have to make themselves COVID proof on some level because I don’t think we can afford to buy them much more time if we don’t want to completely wreck our economy.

People may need to reconsider if they want to live in built-up areas in future. All the hot-spots, not surprisingly, seem to be happening where people live in close proximity to each other.

We’ll also need to pay special care to our most vulnerable. These care home tragedies have highlighted the weakness of a system that bundles the old and frail together in environments where contagion can easily spread from person to person.

Let’s be frank here, America is a profoundly unhealthy society. Many have underlying health issues that make them extremely vulnerable to easily-spread diseases. “Most of the people who die of COVID have a co-morbidity,” the cynical like to remind us. I’d like to remind them that they are describing a huge proportion of the American populace.

I believe COVID-19 is bad, very bad. It’s still early days and I doubt it has shown us its worst face yet. We should all remember that the first wave of the 1918 flu seemed mild, only killing the very old, the very frail, and the very young. It was the second wave that decimated everyone else.

 

Words and image are my own.

10. Little girl I want to marry you.

While I gather my thoughts on current events, I figured I’d reblog this early post, a reminder of what this blog was originally about. Nice to see how certain I was – sitting there on the other side of the world – that this Jersey girl was my future wife.

Runaway American Dream

For the ones who had a notion
A notion deep inside
That it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive
I wanna find one face that ain’t looking through me
I wanna find one place
I wanna spit in the face of these Badlands.

~ Springsteen, Badlands.

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So why her, what does she have that’s so special? What makes it all worth the long separations, the heartache, and the not inconsiderable expense?

These are questions I’ve honestly never bothered to ask myself, not – as you may think – for fear of what might lay coiled within the answers, but because those answers have always been self-evident. No one else has ever made me feel this way and no one else has ever taken the time to really know me.

I’ve experienced loving relationships, but no other love has come as close to me – the real…

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Wave of Mutilation

 

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Waves crash

 

Somehow, the houses seem closer together now

While people draw further apart

We husbands and wives sit alone-together

In shrinking rooms

Nursing our vulnerabilities

Pensively viewing events

Through windows without walls

 

Curtains are drawn closed

Against a world beyond our control

Doorknobs bleached for good measure

We scurry to our mailbox for dispatches or cheques

And eat our boredom ‘til our pants get too tight

 

Every mind is an abacus now

Calculating exponentialities

And checking the odds like touts at the track

We watch the goalposts receding

Towards the distant horizon

Counting down as the numbers rise

Feeling like time is dragging too fast

Sleeping later each day

To avoid the feeling

We’re not in Kansas anymore

 

We are small and

Insignificant

Oh, wave of displacement

Pass us by

 

We are small

And do no harm

Oh, wave of retribution

Pass us by

 

What day is this?

 

 

 

 

©2020

 

Words and image are my own.

Signs of Spring

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Emergency overflow tent wards at Lancaster General.

 

For me, the past year or so has been a very strange rollercoaster ride. My green card situation finally resolved to a point where I could look for work but having been effectively out of the job market for several years by that point and being the age I am, I found there was little work to be had.

Eventually, Jersey girl left her job with a major craft store for greener pastures and, as a special favour, her boss agreed to take me on (it wasn’t permitted for me to work at that store while my wife was still a manager there). I was not keen on the idea of standing all day at a register so I took a job in night replenishment.

Even part-time, night work can be brutal, especially if you don’t sleep well in the day, (I’m reminded of the line in Fight Club, “when you’re an insomniac, nothing’s real, everything feels like it’s behind glass, a copy of a copy”) and I quickly lost all desire to write or do anything creative. Still, it was work and that was the most important thing.

Several months went by and the greener pastures of Jersey girl’s new job dried up and blew away and so she took another one with a Photography studio as their in-house framer. This was a great position but it was, unfortunately, not in New Jersey. For several months, she commuted the hour and a half to Reading PA every morning and the hour and a half home to High Bridge every night but that simply wasn’t tenable.

And so, we upped stakes and moved to Lancaster. Reading just wasn’t our kind of city but Lancaster, just a 30 minute drive away, was perfect. Longtime readers of this blog know that if there are two things I love, it’s history and architecture and this city has both in droves.

I was able to get a transfer with the company and we found a really charming apartment right in the heart of town. Life was looking up. Lancaster city only has a population of 50,000 but it has an amazingly high number of fantastic restaurants, pubs, craft breweries, tap houses, galleries, museums, and really good coffee houses. We set about exploring our new home, trying as many places as we could and quickly fell in love with the place.

Enter COVID-19. My wife and I had been watching this little beastie since early January, recognizing the potential threat it posed almost immediately. This was a new kind of virus, that was obvious. People kept falling for the relatively low death count* and not seeing that it was fast-moving, highly infectious and worst of all, in the 15% of cases that required hospitalization, one patient could tie up a hospital bed for weeks – and then still die at the end of it. We knew that if it got here it could very easily overwhelm our medical services.

And then, in a flash, it was here and the speed at which it moved was beyond belief. Before it really even looked that bad, we started to become nervous about going in to work. My job involved touching things constantly that others had touched and working up close with colleagues and customers. Meanwhile, Jersey girl dealt with a lot of rich clients that travelled often (quite a few of them in the medical profession). Going in to work a shift was becoming increasingly stressful.

We’d already started to prepare for the worst. For weeks, whenever we’d shopped, we’d bought a few extra items to lay aside, nonperishables, essentials, even water, and yes, a little extra toilet paper. We only did a little each week but by the time the Governor of PA had started making noises about lock-downs, we had enough to get us through a month or so.

Inevitably, like so many others, we were soon both out of work but at least we knew that we would not have to go hungry, at least for a while. Many people we knew refused to believe this was as bad as we knew it was. It seems a lot of people simply can’t grasp exponential growth but we have been seeing it over the past ten days here in Lancaster.

Here’s how it has gone:

1st confirmed case of COVID-19 in Lancaster was March 18th.
21st case was March 26th.
33rd and 45th cases were March 28th.
67th case was reported as of noon on March 29th which is today.
11 days’ worth of spread during a lock-down.

To date, we’ve had just 2 fatalities. That looks like a low mortality rate but bear in mind that once a patient is infected, it can take up to a month for them to actually die. We really won’t know what the final cost will be for quite some time to come.

The biggest impact for us so far has been the closures, all those amazing businesses that make this city the vibrant, incredible place it is are now shuttered. We were all given a two-week time frame for reopening but it was obvious that no one was going to ‘flatten the curve’ in such a short period of time. No, it’s going to be months before it will be safe to open places up to the public and by then, a lot of these small businesses will be broke; many will simply never reopen.

This has been a tragedy on so many levels and we’re only just getting started.

I have been taking long walks around the city armed with a mask, gloves and my cellphone camera trying to capture the strange contrasts that I see and which we all feel.

 

Signs of Spring.

 

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*Of course, the numbers out of China are rubbish. The death toll was actually in the 10s of 1000s.

©2020.

All words and images are my own.

 

My spine is the Bass line

A personal fave from a few years ago.

Runaway American Dream

 

I was thinking about bass players the other day. It seems to me, they don’t get anywhere near the recognition they deserve. It’s not surprising I suppose, they lack the flash of lead guitarists or the charisma of vocalists. Even the drummer is more front and center as a rule. Sure, some bassists also front; Sting, Suzi Quatro, Phil Lynott, but they are celebrated more for their fronting personas than their playing.

No, I’m thinking of a different breed; the ones who stand solidly to the side and just do their damned job; the rhythmic, throbbing engine room of any band. And a thankless job it is too sometimes. I’ve actually known people who can’t distinguish a bass line in the music they’re listening to – just can’t pick it out – and to those people, I generally say You’d certainly notice it if it wasn’t there.

With…

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