Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is the Goombah anyhow?

I said I'd say more about the Robert Krulwich piece, but there's really nothing more I can add except I was flat-out gobsmacked when I read it. He doesn't know Hokumburg from Hackensack, but he did The Goombah a huge favor yesterday. So today we've probably got a couple kajillion new readers who are wondering just where the hell they've landed, why they can't find any of the above towns on their GPS contraptions, and where are all the posts on forensic photography? Well, the truth is, I think we've only done three or four pieces that would fall precisely into that particular category, and to tell you the truth I don't think I'd heard the term forensic photography before I read it on Krulwich's blog.

I hope I didn't just loose half of you with that admission.

As far as the towns—those electronic gizmos are notoriously unreliable. Hokumburg is right here where you are, Gumm Crick is right across the river yonder, and rest are all hereabouts more or less.

As the spirit moves us, we blather on about art, music, poetry, literature, but we really have no special expertise in any of those areas and just write about them and incorporate them into the more political pieces, because we love all those things. And our friends down at No Flag Pin Delusions obviously have a strange artistic (small "a" they insist) sensibility that somehow jives with The Goombah philosophy.

And it is of that philosophy I wish to say a few words right now. The Goombah is dedicated to taking a stand against intolerance, fear-mongering, and hypocrisy wherever we stumble upon it—and we seem to be doing a lot of stumbling these days. But we try sweeten that medicine with a bit of literary panache and humor and art (small "a"). But sometimes, like you, we get angry and frustrated, and that anger and that frustration bleeds over into our writing and our art—often to the detriment of our good judgement. And sometimes the better angels of our nature act more like little devils. And sometimes...often...ok, usually, we lose site of the fact that we are writing for and about human beings like ourselves, who have flaws like we do, and feelings like we do. But we also firmly believe in speaking out forcefully against what we see as the biggest danger facing America today no matter whose feelings we hurt, and that danger is not Muslims or Atheists, that danger is not the economy or the unending wars that have put there awful stamp upon this young century—though they are both of grave concern to us. The severest threat to America, as we see it, is ignorance and those that promote ignorance as some kind of salt-of-the-earth, joe-the-plumber, hockey-mom-with-lipstick solution to all the very complicated problems we face as a nation, as a planet.

These are tough times for America. Our children are returning to us from far-off battlefields with wounds—both mental and physical—that may never heal. And too many of them are returning in flag-draped coffins. Many families have lost their savings, their jobs, their homes. And too many across the land have lost all hope for the future. It is a time of deep despair for many. In the past, when hard times hit, we always pulled together, helped each other out, and got through.

But this time a new and powerful mongrel breed of demagogue with unconstrained access to powerful media and very big money has arisen in our midst, shouting appeals to our meaner selves, trying to scare us, to turn us against our neighbors. These demagogues seem determined to divide us, black from white, Christian from non-Christian, gay from straight, city dweller from those who live in small towns, like this one where you're standing now. The philosophy (and that may be too grand a word) of this publication is to attack those demagogues and expose them for what they are: purveyors of hate and sowers of unfounded fear. But we try to do it with laughter. Because as long as we're laughing, we can't be afraid.

So there you have it, folks. That's our message: We are not afraid. Not exactly a statement of principles, Jedediah. But yesterday was a remarkable day for us and I've been up through the night wondering how to respond to all of you who have graciously allowed us to come into your homes and workplaces. And I fear I have failed in the effort. It seems to have a kind of high-school-essay contest quality to it. But maybe that's not so bad. So I will let it stand. You get the gist. Anyway, I hope you will stay with us for a long long time, friends. Who knows? We might even throw in the occasional old photograph for your forensic examination.

Welcome to Hokumburg. We are very happy you're here.


Warren said...

So, are you still going to the protest in Washington D. C.? Is that happening in a big way?

Anonymous said...

Eloquent and pleased I stumbled upon ya, Hokumburg townie.

Been feeling uneasy with the rest of the world and just needing to remember I share a number of strands with all of them and the thought of parallel universes just doesn't quell the tide sometimes :)

Kathleen Benton said...

Well summerized, but your views and wit were already very apparent yesterday as I read all the posts available on the homepage with great pleasure. I was one of those stumble-uponers via NPR who found a gem rather than stubbed a toe. I am very happy to have found a like-minded blog to put our sometimes rather senseless world into perspective for me and with a sense of humor.

(I am wishing that you had a FB page which signaled posts as they are published, as I view that daily, unlike my Google Reader.)


Thanks, Kathleen. We'll carefully consider your suggestion.... Or we would if we knew what the hell an FB page was. Explain.

Marilyn said...

I too, am glad to have found you. I recommended your blog to my friends on FB because I know they will appreciate your writing as much as I did. It's a breath of fresh air. With all of the the pollution I've been inhaling, I needed it.


Thanks so much, Marilyn. We are very grumpy this morning after staying up much too late with a bottle of cheap whiskey to write this post—and then trying unsuccessfully to think of something clever to say this morning. Your comment is better than a shot of the dog.
And believe me, that's a compliment.

Kathleen Benton said...

Sorry to make assumptions; I often find myself wondering what many abbreviations used today might mean, especially when used in news reporting and commercials.

FB page is short for Facebook page, a feature which is a public rather than a private profile on Facebook. Many organizations, businesses, celebrities, and websites use Facebook pages as another way to keep their current activities noted by Facebook members who choose to "Like" their pages. For instance, I "Like" NPR so whenever they post a new article the link appears on my Facebook News Feed. I found the article that highlighted your "forensic photography" skills of interest to me, clicked on the link, and from there was taken to the NPR post that lead me to Hokumburg.

Here's a link to the NPR FB page, although you might have to join Facebook to view it:

It is understandable if you think Facebook is not of interest to you. For a long time I thought I would not get much from this "social" network, but since joining, at the urging of an old friend, I have changed my mind. The added bonus for me is that I get as much education now in one place via Facebook page links as I do from other news and editorial sources, maybe more. I have a FB page for my own website which has brought visitors and their feedback as much as any search engine or blog catalog list. But then, I've not been singled out by NPR...Congratulations!


Thanks again, Kathleen. As soon as the dust settles around here we will do as you suggest.

Anonymous said...

This is a GREAT blog! Thank you!

nokomarie said...

Well, then, sounds like you're right up my street. See ya "round.

Anonymous said...

Glad I found you! Thanks NPR.

MaryFiddles said...

FINALLY - a blog with reading!


Thanks so much, folks!
We are extremely fortunate that you all found us.

FINALLY—readers worth writing for.


I happened upon you via Yahoo and I'm glad that I did..great blog! Thanks for speaking to all of us who haven't lost our humanity and common sense - plus I love the photos! I'm hooked- keep up the great work!


fromlaurelstreet said...

I came through via an article at Yahoo News [hanging head in shame at that admission] and I'm glad I did. Nice joint you got here!

Always happy to find another fan of the Library of Congress photo archives, especially one that writes well.

(apologies if this is a duplicate -- it's a long story)

danniken said...

Hokumburg, Them arrangement of characters got a lot of us dancing the right dance, without the sobriety of the morning after.


Okay, I take back everything I ever said bad about Yahoos. Yeah, for those interested in the the Goombah America series, it all comes via the Library of Congress, as fromlaurelstreet says.
Damn! Another one of my secrets bites the dust!


Wow! Stumbled upon this blog from the NPR photo story. A pleasant stumble indeed.

Imagine my surprise then to read a reference in the NPR story to St. Louis. Howdy, neighbor! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Glad I found you also through NPR

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