Butterfly illustration by Jack Moreh
When it’s time to leave,
the destination of the
caterpillar is well known.
But when the world is angry,
where do the butterflies go?
To Leave Something Behind
Where Do The Butterflies Go?
by Kendall F. Person
July 18, 1984:
The first thing he said, when he arrived at his destination in the border city of San Ysidro California, was also his last. “Freeze!” But before a police sniper, placed him in the crosshairs of a rifle, James Huberty massacred 21 people, at McDonald’s no less.
It was a small group at first, so no one really noticed them leaving. Sent here on a mission to spread beauty upon the nation, but one day the butterflies simply gave up. Then vanished without a trace.
San Ysidro was the first mass shooting by a sole gunman in my generation, and it stunned a shocked nation. But prior to 9/11 (2001) and the elevation of a rarely used word terrorist, to an every occasion, there was no reason to look for a deeper meaning; nothing to see passed the madness of a lone gunman, since there was nothing in comparison.
April 19, 1995 (the date American terrorism was born)
On that day, Timothy McVeigh did not use rifles, but bombs, that blew out the exteriors of buildings in the surround, but blew the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City sky high. 168 American people lost their lives.
When they arrived home, a small convoy appeared before the council to tell them hope was gone. The response was without hesitation, for the good of the universe, they had to go back. They had to complete their mission.
The origins of the Oklahoma City bombing were drawn to Ruby Ridge, the site of a deadly face-off between FBI Agents and Randy Weaver, an alleged white supremacist. Armed with this knowledge, it rang no bells, even while locked into an intense discussion with a member of an American militia, who raged a defense. It did not occur back then, that if there were defenders, then there were more just like McVeigh.
September 11, 2001 a date that lives in infamy
The first International terrorist attack to penetrate home turf, took the lives of nearly 3000 people. But the damage kept digging, going deeper inside our psyches, until the rallying call of nearly half the nation was to blame all our woes on ‘the others’. From a National Tragedy of which every American mourned, we did not simply lose the aura of invincibility, but we lost the meaning of ‘a great nation’, replacing it with a slogan.
Each time we conjure up the ghosts of real people, attached to a real emotional moment in American history, to use as a shield, then search out a bogeyman to bare our burden, we cast ourselves as eternal victims (we are by far, not the only nation to feel such pain) If we do not face the truth of our own dilemmas, than how can we uncover solutions to what plagues us?
A divided nation, we are united in grief, yet living in confusion. Perhaps, no tangible link exists, no way to connect dots or put squares into circles. Maybe there is nothing to learn, nor solutions to glean from the San Ysidro massacre to the detonation of Oklahoma City to the killing fields of Las Vegas, but how do we know, if we return to the same debates, where everyone talks, but few search for answers.
How can we not reflect during this time of national grief, and imagine together something that works. If we do not stop analyzing and comparing everything to a President, who we all know (even Congress) is just an entertainer; but magnetic enough to draw us into a dangerous reality show. If we continue to see our communities as us against them; if we do not push out goodness from the heart into the atmosphere; if we do not utilize the mind to communicate inspirational, positive vibes, and blow them into the air…
…than it does not matter where the butterflies go. For if their mission fails, the next time they disappear, we will never see beauty again, and ugly rules the world.
We are truly sorry for the loved ones lost in Parkland and Las Vegas and Aurora and Charleston and Orlando and Sandy Hooks and San Ysidro and Blacksburg and Oak Creek Wisconsin and Oklahoma City and New York and….. – The Neighborhood
this is… The Neighborhood
“USA Today has come out with a new survey
– apparently, three out of every four people
make up 75% of the population.” – David Letterman
Can’t git out
by H-Y Loco
THE MEDIA MONSTERS
Commandeer Both Time & Words
by Kendall F. Person
Every so often, a larger than life persona or event captures the spotlight and then hijacks whatever else it needs to thrive. Mostly, it is our attention they seek or through happenstance, become the center of everyone else’s universe. Donald Trump may be the most bombastic, but not the first to receive nearly all day and all night news coverage (Yes, I too am guilty as charged). Orenthal James Simpson, Michael Joseph Jackson and William Jefferson Clinton, if there was a box office race for attention seeking media monsters, Donald John Trump – while in hot pursuit – remains in 3rd place. In fact, Trump owes his relationship with Fox News, pretty much to OJ Simpson, since ‘The Trial of the Century’ is what led to the boom in the cable news industry, in the first place.
But underneath the big things, like the sky is always falling someone else’s voice, photo and name, are the small things, that sometimes feel stolen. Like the inability to escape a bombardament, especially if the media monster is not a lovable person. Big fan of the media and the rights of a free press, but their continual need to feed the beast, commadeers useful words: like polls & surveys. Continually, measuring the pulse of an electorate, everytime the wind changes direction. So most of the time, when we are asked questions, no matter how simple or few or even when anonymous, we run the other way – and I do not blame you. But please stay.
Completed polls & surveys from a measurable audience are worth their weight in gold, especially to small mediums in uber competitive markets. It is akin, to turning the boardroom over to the people you most want to impress, then turning off your own mic to just listen.
So yes, this was a trap, I do apologize. But a futile option, to lure you away from media monsters, by broadcasting SURVEY in the headlines. Time is such a precious commodity, but completing the 2 minute survey below, will assure that Season VI is time well spent here. And please forgive me (big smile).
The Survey has been completed and is now closed. Thank you participation.
Your Voice Loud & Clear: The Neighborhood Once Year Survey
“I’m not upset that you lied to me,
I’m upset that from now on I can’t
believe you.” – Friedrich Nitzcsche
Assignment 1 composed by Drake Stafford
The Strawman and the Crow
Act 5; The Sky Tells Lies
storyboard and written by Kendall F. Person
intro from Angels
For 13 days in October of 1962, the world was held hostage, frozen in the international glare of a psychological warfare, by the world’s then only two superpowers – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (present day Russia) and the United States of America – in a mutually destructive game, formally known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Nuclear missiles placed in Turkey and Italy, too close for the Kremlin’s comfort, so construction began for the same in Cuba, just 70 miles offshore, shifting the balance of power into a precarious stalemate.
Two men, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, leaders of their respective states, possessing absolute power, hands on the buttons, who would blink first. Stable heads would enter the fray, negotiations for a peaceful solution would soon be underway. A test of wills, a blockade put in place, the world held its collective breath, mesmerized and frightened, both the same, as they watched a-no-winner-at-all spectacle play out on the high wire.
A pounding of the chest? A diabolical legacy wish? The Soviets would test the waters, blasting a U2 aircraft out of the sky. A decision to not retaliate by President Kennedy would be made. A ringing sigh of relief, like the shot heard around the world. The following day, an agreement was reached, sparing large swaths of both nations and millions of innocent people from absolute annihilation. Most from the explosions, the unlucky by radiation, and the fallout to mother earth, lasting for years if not decades.
It all happened so fast, that the Strawman was no longer certain of what was real and what were cruel figments of his imagination. His emotions vacillated between sorrow and rage. His mind swirled with thoughts of the violent death of Quadhi’s son, and the burden they all would carry, for being a part of the conflict, that broke peace on 2020. The Strawman held no anger toward Quadhi for not returning home. He believed in fact, that he made the right decision, by holding on to peace for as long as he could.
When Lahti ripped the nation’s flag from her husband’s hand, before climbing atop his shoulder and flinging it to the ground, it was not Quadhi that dove for it, but his eldest son. It was at that moment, the Strawman knew, and with no doubt, everyone else did too, that for the moment Quadhi had no fight left in him; but Virgil was ready to stand in for his father. So Quadhi led his family to the other side of 2020. A place that was still hidden from the old world, but not for long, as they all knew that as well.
If the battered rainbow was not burden enough, The Strawman could think of no other options. To save 2020 – not just from the clutches of the Old World – but ultimately, from those who boarded the Alpha train, who would sooner or later invent a way to push society back over the edge – perhaps even before the climate changed again – he had to befriend his mortal enemy. He could have never envisioned it would come to this, as hatred scorched every generation of their lineage. But thousands followed him, and he made a promise to his friend. So he took a hollowed breathe, then turned and faced Virgil to relay what they must do.
“In order to defeat the Old World, and save this place where you were born.” whispered the Strawman to Virgil. “We have to join ranks with the Crow.”
Without blinking, Virgil replied, “I know.”
The Crow had meant to kill Lahti for her unspeakable betrayal. But he never meant to harm any one of her kids. He had raised several generations of his own, and unwittingly play nursemaid to the Cuckoo offspring too. But as it turned out, the betrayal had occurred out the gate and long ago, for it appeared they had all been bamboozled. When the Strawman approached, waiving the flag of 2020, he instructed his tribe to stand down. To demonstrate good faith, for that was all he had, he too carried the same flag. They met in the middle without fanfare or fear, just immediate dialogue, nothing off limits. Of all that transpired between them, as enemies gave way to comrades, two things would hit them hard. One was the fact, that neither knew of what gave rise to the hatred between their bloodlines. The other made the Crow flutter, once discovered that there was not one train, but two.
“So one was obviously a decoy?” squawked the Crow.
“A decoy? I guess you could call it that,” exhaled the Strawman. “I’d say he sold snakeoil to his supporters. They were never going with him, but there was no way he could just leave. So he arranged the 2nd train, that trapped them inside.”
“Inside the depot? But it burned down.”
“I know. When they escorted me off the train marked Alpha, I decided I wanted no part of whatever was happening, so I never boarded the fake train. The one labeled Omega (Oh, my God).
They had been nemesis all their lives, and knew of no other way. But as they put it all together, the Crow came to the same realization as the Strawman: they held a common foe. When the weather warnings arrived, there were only days to prepare. And yet, the people that boarded the Alpha train, did so with focused intent, like a well rehearsed plan. Were they already aware of the fluctuations of the incoming solar radiation, that led to such a dramatic climate deviation? Or was it something else entirely?
So the new comrades stood in silence, pondering the lone question, that burned between the Strawman and the Crow: Whatever happened that destroyed the old war, was it due to natural disaster, like they had been sold: or was it man made afterall?
When the satellite circled around, it was the first time the President of the Old World had seen the new. To say he blew his stack, was the understatement of them all.They had been circling the world for years, and yet here was a viable place to live. Utilizing the high power telescope magnification lens, he not only saw the things that had taken residence, but he also saw their flag and he blew his stack anew.
Slamming down his open hand atop the keypad, he slid it across so quickly, that his palm print was not recognized, forcing a retry.
“This is my world!!!” said the former President of a land that no longer existed. Then he slammed his hand down once again. There was no remorse or concern whatsoever. It was like he did not remember, that he made the decision to influence the strength and speed of what ultimately destroyed Home. Without thought, even the first, he dropped 2 bombs on 2020; the 2nd for good measure, since all he needed was one.
They had heard about the land of peace, and did not anticipate such destructive weapons would be needed, at least not this soon. But even those who could have imagined, after what they had been through, almost no one who took the Alpha train, wanted to be held responsible to interrupt the world, over and over again. So the former President awaited an explosion, that would never come. For the sky tells lies. Those in charge of loading the weapons, replaced them with duds.
this is…. The Neighborhood. Created by Kendall F. Person
up next: Act VI: The Crash Landing of Veracity
The Top 10 Cities (week ending March 6, 2018)
& The Story within the Story
“We should look for someone to eat
and drink with, before looking for
something to eat and drink…” – Epicurus
Break Bread. Have a conversation over a meal or engage in dialogue with an open mind.
by Kendall F. Person
Did you know that the Aloe Vera plant contains various compounds that reduce inflammation, swelling, redness, pain and itching; And that the dandelion is a nutritious healing herb that stimulates the flow of bile and enhances the body’s ability to eliminate toxins. Did you know, that the beautiful smell of the lavender plant is used as a sedative to restore calm and relieve tension? Did you know, the male Emperor Penguin of Antarctica, will fast for over 3 months, and brave the longest, coldest, darkest winter on earth to assure the survival of its species? Did you know there is more than a 30 year gap between the longest and shortest life expectancy rates among nations?
Did you know it was three years after the Wright Brothers‘, first aviation success – the glider – countless tests and redesigns, and hours of thought and frustration, before arriving at the Wright Flyer, the world’s first practical aircraft? Did you know, that for a vast many problems that exists within a country’s borders, another nation has developed a solution or at least a method to cope?
Did you know, when you select a career as a public servant, actions that you take and decisions that you make have effects, far beyond your tenure. When we hope our leaders fail, do we understand the consequences affect us as well? Do we cast our vote in spite of ourselves, to elect a candidate who serves, not the people, but only himself? Do we stand by a long term affiliation, regardless if that decision harms the greater nation?
Do you believe, that people who spend their lives looking for a handout are the exception and not the rule? And that most people will work hard all of their lives at their jobs or raising a family or building a business or pursuing happiness. Rather they succeed or fail is not relevant to this point, only that they sometimes need a hand? Have you wondered how easy it is to tell someone else how to live their life, and how difficult it is to take our own advice?
Do you think, most prisoners are remorseful for what they have done, and that many of the wealthy take pleasure in giving, and the wise believe, it to be their duty to teach, and the gifted are honored to share of themselves, and the peaceful will not rest until we all know how it feels, and the caring feel at ease when they do for someone else, and the loving are at their best when they are spreading the wealth, and the righteous refuse to be placed on a pedestal?
And the weak will always depend on the strong. And the sick should be healed if there has been a cure all along. And the poor in every country will never go away.
Does it matter how we analyze the glass – half full or half empty – if it yields the same amount? Is there a right or wrong way in playing the game of life?
It is a daily choice we make, the direction and speed in our pursuit of meaning. Do we expand our minds by attempting to listen to the other side? Do we breathe before we tweet or is it ugly that we seek? Do we inspire great things in ourselves and others or are we comfortable in expanding the misery bubble? Much to consider, but one thing is certain, alone we lack the knowledge to make inspiring decisions, that benefit more than ourselves. But together, we can break down the lines of division, disconnect from untruths and myths. We can imagine a great future or start with a less visceral tomorrow, and all it requires is the breaking of bread.
Can 2020 gain control before history repeats
itself, allowing the Old World to destroy them all?
The Strawman and the Crow
the children react to the arrival
With neither pomp nor circumstance, 2020 and the old world, had met. Instructed by their mother to stay hidden till the returned of their father, she spoke to her brood of five, but made Range promise. When their parents did not return, Virgil the eldest, began a search for their Dad. Lala stayed with LaQuan and Rena, maintained vigil and kept the youngsters hidden. Range, the middle son, stood erect and pondered his choice. Keep a promise to his mother of which he had never broken, or become the man he felt inside?
Lala knew that Range could not sit idle, with things falling from sky, and no word from either. Uneasy still she was, not from his breaking camp, but of the promise that lie in tatters.
prologue: the good son*
She knew her son was bad, in fact rotten to the bone. A menace to society, a rising sociopath. But Henry was her son, who she maintained to love, so she pretended not to notice. Then one day, on her best friend’s death bed, she made a promise to take care of her son and raise him like her own. Mark was a broken spirit; a young boy in desperate need of a mother’s kind of love. About the same age, Henry and Mark could have become brothers, creating a bond like the one between his Mother and her new son. But Henry became more bitter and like a cauldron he would seethe. As his anger boiled over, he unraveled until completely unhinged was he. Mark was the first to openly discuss the madness, bearing witness to Henry’s violent behavior, but the adults simply gave no credence. The differences between brothers, with no love or history between them, soon evolved into a dark hole of mistrust, and a battle of good versus evil, began to consume them both. One day that battle did see their young lives, hanging by a thread, holding on for dear life.
The mother discovered their dire straits and both she did try to save. Mark was a good kid, just like a son, and Henry was. Time running out, an unfair decision, but one she was forced into making. What would you do, who would you save, if you could only save one?
The Strawman and The Crow
Act 4: The Children
by Kendall F. Person
this is… The Neighborhood
Up Next Act 5: The Sky Tells Lies
*The Good Son (1993)
If a tree falls in the forest
and there is no one around to hear it,
does it make a sound?
If the forest is Sequoia National Park
and the fallen tree is a Giant Redwood,
then someone heard it fall.
Rev James Cleveland
w/ I Don’t Believe He Brought This Far (To Leave Me)
THE FALL OF A GIANT REDWOOD TREE
by Kendall F. Person
So much has happened since 1995, when Timothy McVeigh parked a Ryder truck, containing 4800 pounds of explosives in downtown Oklahoma City. Much has changed since, technology being most prominent, yet the evolution of American politics into imaginary fiefdoms, that carry real life bounty and consequences, is gaining ground. And with a list of atrocities, compiling with intense velocity, perhaps a moment of silence and a reminder, that we lost a war we had no idea we were fighting, even though the assailant was born of the type of homegrown hate, that threatens to spiral out of control today.
The bomb’s explosion was felt some 16 miles a way in Norman and was tantamount to a 3.0 earthquake. It took out 16 downtown city blocks, causing $635,000,000.00 in damages, injured nearly 700 people and of the 168 confirmed dead, 19 were children. But it was the Civil Servants, employed by the US Government, thereby employees of the people, that were truly under attack. The White Nationalists that backed McVeigh, scored a direct hit on nearly a dozen of our Federal Institutions and Agencies: 3 branches of the Armed Forces: Army, Navy and the Marines; 3 branches of Law Enforcement: the FBI, Customs and Drug Enforcement; along with Housing, Agriculture, General Services, Transportation and Social Security, all suffered casualties. Combined with the civilians the skyrocketing death toll rocked America to its core. And lest we forget the undercurrent, how vulnerable and raw and exposed we felt, that the bullseye was in the heartland of America. Yet many of us do not sense the immediate dangers of an American President, raging an internal war.
The bombing was so devastating, that an international community – including the PLO, Iran and Russia – messaged in their condolences and offers of help. It was a collective American heartbreak. The suspect had been arrested for speeding only 90 minutes after detonation, so since there were no boogeymen to blame and give false chase, we were allowed to grieve and heal as one nation in mourning.
The televised memorial was must see tv, but not in the today’s-choose-a-side-ridicule-and battle-type of way. OKC was a National Tragedy, that actually was treated accordingly. And while the politicians were there – the Governor and President & First Lady Clinton respectfully front and center – it was not the politicians who were tasked with or looked upon for leadership or spiritual guidance. Many believers – for the first time – began to question “Why God?” and the responsibility to help heal a nation, by fortifying its faith fell on the shoulders of The Reverend Dr. Billy Graham.
“There are lessons to be learned in the suffering….
but I have to accept by faith, that God is a God of love.”
– Billy Graham, Oklahoma City Memorial
He was an old man by then, but even watching from the television screen thousands of miles away, and either because of or in spite of an unapologetic delivery, based on the teachings of his Christian faith, I could feel his conviction as his words washed over a grieving nation. There was neither condemnation nor judgements. He spoke with both compassion and fortitude, but it was also clear his message was to everyone, as the underlying thread was of humanity, kindness, community and that no man can rightfully claim the moral authority.
He was well-respected and world renowned as a man of true conviction and continual faith, but I had never heard a speech or a sermon from him until that very day. I had changed religions and churches frequently, in a mostly sincere search for answers. But it was Billy Graham that taught me, those answers may never come, but it was neither a measurement of His grace nor a testament of my faith. In those 8 minutes, Dr. Graham was the shepherd, whose only mission was to lead his flock toward a self-realized salvation. But while the fire of his youth was not on display, he was never far from the brimstone, a controversial building block of ministers that preach the gospel. In a clear and bible-scripted warning, he noted, that we could either find comfort in a shared loss through God or further demonize one another in the acceptance of a false prophet.
Billy Graham neither claimed nor possessed the moral authority. His message of inclusion and love, based on the Gospel of Jesus never altered, regardless of a political or social stature. But it was his views on race that still sets him apart, as he often drew scorn for ministering to mixed crowds.
“Billy Graham inherited a faith in the
American South that had accommodated
itself to white supremacy, but he demonstrated
a willingness to change and turn toward the truth,”
– Rev William J Barber II
We will never agree on the origins of mankind, but we stand on common ground that to believe or not to believe and to what degree – and to follow those beliefs – is based on free will which we all possess.
The magnitude of his respect is best defined when in 1973, during the height of South Africa’s brutally oppressive Apartheid regime, he gained a government concession – a one day lapse of the strict segregation code – allowing him to deliver a sermon to a rare multiracial congregation in Africa. After listening to hours of his sermons, I consider it the most influential by way of bare-knuckles, southern preaching.
The death of Billy Graham even at the age of 99 is seismic, but with so much noise, I nearly missed it, and that would have been a shame. But I realized, when a Giant Redwood falls, it may be its final performance, but it does not define the memory of a purpose driven life. Billy Graham’s legacy and lifetime of service to mankind is akin to the falling of a 2000 year old, 300 foot tall Giant Redwood Tree, whose time at standing guard has passed. Even if his death made no sound, the joyful noise made while living, will forever last.
this is… The Neighborhood
Evil exists and a man’s heart is capable
of almost limitless evil if good does
not pursue the battle. – Billy Graham
A Giant Redwood fell the other day. Rest in Peace Billy Graham. His death leaves me, however with a burning question: Will a spiritual leader rise above the clouds or will societal evils burn the stage to the ground?