Celebrating Joe Biden

I have been trying to find the words to express to people that we should be celebrating this moment of shifting from a bad president to a good president.

Some of my good, smart, intellectual middle-class progressive friends have still not decided if they approve enough of his politics. They want to sit on the sidelines – to “watch and see” if his actions live up to their expectations.

They still think that “me deciding how I think about all this” is more important than this major shift in the entire world.

We have been living out in parts of Appalachia where mostly people are not happy about the election. Weeks after the election, there still are Trump and MAGA signs everywhere.

On the 14th, I celebrated my joy about the end of the Trump aberration by creating my “Wash that man out of my hair” dance playlist.


None of my other “wise man” posts or “heroic cowboy” posts have gotten a lot of attention, but the Word Press company – which hosts many thousands of blogs – immediately featured that playlist as one of their daily “blog posts to watch”.

I loved it that it was me in my DJ role that finally got some public attention.

Yesterday we drove to Burnsville, North Carolina – a town that I have often judged as being too much discovered by affluent middle class city people. And, in fact, the widening of the Interstate highway and city people flooding this town and its surrounding mountains is a big problem – as well as a source of prosperity.

One of the many artists in this town that we have found most fascinating is a woman named Rhea Ormond. She has painted beautiful murals around the town.


The first time we wandered by her beautiful home – with a gorgeous mural of the Wizard of Oz and, in the summer, lush vegetation unlike anything else on her rather tame street – I thought, “This is going to be the classic witch in the enchanted cottage who is going to give me wisdom.”

I was not going to dare go up and knock on the door – but my dog ran right up to the door. As I waited for Rhea to answer the door, I rehearsed saying to her, “My name is John and I have come to you seeking knowledge.”

I did not say anything like that – and the conversation was truly not very memorable.

Yesterday we went to Burnsville to get food from the food pantry – and then to send my keys and title off to the insurance company to complete my claim for my stolen car. Yesterday my checking account was overdrawn $134 – and that car settlement is going to get me $2300, maybe as soon as Monday or Tuesday.

So our first stop was the Reconciliation House food pantry. Rhea lives across the street from the food pantry. When I turned from the food pantry to Rhea’s house, I encountered the new banner she has flying on the front of her house:

I immediately began to weep.

It is amazingly beautiful where we are currently living in the mountains north of Spruce Pine – but in Burnsville there are some of our clan, people who understand in the way I understand what is going on in the world around us.

The day went like that: magical experiences and a sense of coming home in Burnsville. It took three stops to get everything ready to send off our claim to Progressive Insurance. But at each stop we had a magical encounter.

Two different knowledgeable people and three different search engines told me that there were no FedEx drop offs in Burnsville. I made my peace that I would have to stop at the dreaded Dollar General store – a chain that I abhor – on the way back to Spruce Pine, because they do have a FedEx connection there.

As we were walking around the Burnsville Town Square one last time – headed back to our van – Pancho wanted to turn right down South Main St. I told her, “Honey, we have to get going to the Dollar General to send off our FedEx package.” But she was very insistent – and she had been tagging around after me a lot all day, so I gave her the nod.

A few steps down the hill, I thought “Well, there is that health food store down here that we have never gone into. There are some things I want to get there when I have some money.” We had gone maybe 20 yards downhill, when I saw the health food store on the left – with a brightly lit-up FedEx sign in the window.

As I dropped my keys in the FedEx envelope that Tara the manager was holding open for me, I thought “You know that you are about to start crossing over into a new level of financial prosperity in your life.” It was truly a magical moment.

We got out of the health food store just in time to get on a call with an old friend I have just re-discovered. I was excited to have a FaceTime conversation with her.

She turned out to be a way-more magical person than I had ever realized. The call wavered at times on our drive home, when I would start to lose the Burnsville 5G signal, but would pop up again when we hit the crest of a mountain. I shifted my camera from me to the mountains, so that my newly re-discovered friend could see where I live.

I have made an agreement with my landlord that I will not post or send photos or videos of her property – for fear that they will somehow get forwarded on the Internet and that her neighbors will discover that she is harboring a political radical.

But there was going to be no remaining document from my FaceTime phone conversation, so I made a strategic decision to let my friend see the road up to our property – and then took her in and showed her my apartment.

We have spent most of the last three weeks never leaving our mountaintop. Not being able to show visual images to any of my friends of this spectacular spot has increased my sense of isolation out here. Taking my friend on a little visual tour of my place was thrilling.

My friend Jolene (I shall call her) makes a level of interpersonal contact that I have been hungry for. Taking her so much into my life felt like huge prosperity to me.

This morning I was making a video for this blog, in which I was bemoaning how hard it is for me to find people with whom I can celebrate the new start that America and the world are getting with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

I was only about halfway through the video, when I realized with a start, “Shit! It’s probably 8:00 – time for Morning Edition”. I am devoted to the NPR Morning Edition show, but especially on Saturday with my Chicago native alter-ego program host Scott Simon, who I have listened to on this show for so many years.

Scott – like so many other NPR anchors – has really upped his game to meet this unprecedented historical moment. I hang on every story, every week.

The show is not live, but Scott is listening to it live and watching his Twitter feed. One week, when – after the show – I immediately tweeted something very specifically appreciative about the show, 20 minutes later Scott “liked” it.

“Holy shit! It’s just 20 minutes after the show and he has already read what I posted!” It was dizzying.

Two weeks later, I posted a tweet in the middle of the show – appreciating some edgy music he had covered. I tweeted something to the effect of, “That will show people that NPR isn’t just a bunch of stuffy old middle-class white people.” Scott re-tweeted my post in the middle of the show!

So I hurriedly wrapped up my video about how to reach people that Biden is the right man for the job – especially with his partner Kamala Harris.

In my phone, I shifted over to my Blueridge Public Radio app (our Asheville local NPR affiliate). The phone sprang to life with the tail end of the news – I had not missed a minute of Scott’s show.

10 minutes into the show, Scott did his weekly “Opinion” commentary. Some weeks his observations move me to tears, while other weeks they don’t particularly move me at all.

Today Scott offered a meditation on Joe Biden. I immediately realized what has been wrong with my efforts to “wake people up” about Joe Biden. Although part of my background is that I’m a poet, I have been relying on prose.

Scott offers us two minutes of inspired poetry:


Here is my video in which I was agonizing about how to reach people who have not been willing or able to open their hearts to Joe Biden.

I end the video abruptly when I realize it’s time for Scott’s show. I did not yet know that in about 10 minutes Scott would give me a pretty good answer.

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These days all of my identities are converging: whether I am offering a blessing in the grocery store checkout line, offering a prayer in a poem or experiencing the kinship with all life while walking my or a client's dog - it's all the same. It's all Life.

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