Communications 126–Media and Culture

English: A child not paying attention in class.

English: A child not paying attention in class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

World wide web

World wide web (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Communications 126-Media and Culture class has been an educational exercise in grasping the synergy of history, technology and culture with the resulting effects on society. The great expansion of man’s progress, from sitting around a fire telling stories to the computer age, is cataloged somewhere on the World Wide Web.  The computing cloud of information is available to an increasing number of people. The task is to find meaning in the sharing of that knowledge.

  1. William Sikes, the      author of “Technology: Taking Over the World and Our Lives,” cites a study      indicating Americans spend over nine hours watching television, using the      Internet, and depending on cell phones daily.  He posits or contends this dependence on      technology diminishes social skills, adversely affects education, and      creates a lazy society.  Based on      research, determine if this argument has merit.

Since submitting the final project hypothesis that the above statement  has merit, two books, numerous  articles and all assigned chapters in the text have been read and considered. The answer is complicated and part of a new age culture. The argument has merit; however, the new technologies have benefits as well as drawbacks. The answer is somewhere in a growing computing cloud of information somehow connected on a World Wide Web, and its meaning is as different and varied as the users who view the content. “Our thoughts are powerful creative forces floating in the ether ready to accomplish their purpose when they are concentrated and consciously directed.” PY[1]

Daniel G. Amen, M.D., posits in his latest book, Magnificent Mind at Any Age, that excessive use of; TV, video games, computers, e-mails, the Internet, instant messaging and cell phones, is bad for our brains. Learning  is adversely affected in the development stage, “For every hour a day that babies eight to sixteen months old were shown educational videos they knew six to eight fewer words than other children,” according to Amen, citing a report in the Journal of Pediatrics (Journal of Pediatrics 151(4):384-368). He goes on to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV at all for children younger than twenty-four months. Infants and toddlers learn language socially from interaction with other human beings, and in experiencing the real world around them. In another study, the chance of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is increased ten percent for every hour a day of TV watching (Pediatrics 113(4):708-713). Factors in brain illness including strokes and Alzheimer’s disease can be linked to the higher body mass indices, lack of physical fitness, cigarette smoking and increased cholesterol found in TV watching for 1000 children born in 1972-1973 in New Zealand and followed to age 26 (Lancet 364(9430:257-262). Brain health and learning appear to be affected adversely by excessive TV use. The Office of the Surgeon General suggests limiting TV and other screen time to less than two hours per day (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention/pledges/parents.html).

Doctor Amen has found thru brain imaging that video games use the basal ganglia area of the brain. This area is one of the pleasure centers of the brain and excessive use of these games can hook people similar to drug dependence. Social interaction is affected when excessive time is spent using video games. School work, job performance and interaction with others diminished (Amen, 2008 pg. 36).  Studies from the University of Missouri found a connection to aggression and violent real-life situation video games. Delinquency increased and academic performance decreased with increased game use. An increase in violent thoughts and behavior was also found along with a decrease in helping behavior. None of this helps education, social interaction, or brain health (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78(4):772-790, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2005 Nov 31).

Excessive use of computers, Internet, instant messaging, and cell phones can become addictive and have an adverse affect on social interaction, communication  and connection. Productivity at work and family interaction can be adversely affected by use of modern mass media technology. Time spent using technological connections take away from face to face communication. According to Amen (2008), “drowsiness, tiredness and an increasing inability to focus reached startling levels,” and “research subjects’ minds were all over the place as they faced new questions and challenges” with each new e-mail.  In studies at King’s College, London University, average IQ loss was 10 points in people who felt a need to reply to each e-mail with resulting constant changes of direction and focus.

Answering cell phones or text messages in the middle of having a face to face conversation can hurt relationships. The person present is taking the time to connect and it is disrespectful to put them off to answer an unknown and less personal technical connection. The hierarchy of focused commitment in communication starts with face to face. Focused commitment decreases and is less focused with the use of voice, e-mail and text messaging. In synchronous communication language can be enhanced by inflection, body language, facial expressions and the sensing of emotion. Asynchronous communication as in e-mail and texting is convenient because both sender and receiver do not have to be present at the same time, however, it is impersonal and emotion cannot be conveyed (Snyder, Lawrence. 2008). Other drawbacks with Internet, e-mail, and texting include uncertainty in emphasis, loss of conversational pace, and an increase in ambiguity. Emoticons are insufficient in conveying emotion,JL they are cute but do not indicate how happy and sad, or why the emotion is felt. Blogging (web logs) is an innovation of Internet use which connects people in on-line discussions over subjects of common interest. Information is shared but the quality does not always match the quantity. Some bloggers post well thought out and researched opinions, sometimes with Web addresses for checking. Others post impulsively, without thought or backup information. Learning in this kind of Internet environment is possible but never guaranteed. The positive is in the sharing of language and posts, with the only cost being the time you invest. The blogs are democratic and open to opinions from anyone who logs on and participates. Negatives are found in a stunted conversational pace and ambiguity of message.

Positives involved in Information Society Technology are that computers and Internet access with a broadband connection make available massive amounts of information to search, review, and share. Internet access is available and used by an increasingly large population of individuals, groups, governments, organizations and businesses. The connections have the potential to close distance in seeking communication with people of all nations, races, religions and political bent. The Denver Public Library (DPL) is Tapping Into Media in recognition of how libraries need to compete for attention with advances in technology use. Embracing mass media helps to broaden a libraries appeal. Podcasts are created by teens at the Boulder Public Library which provide news, reviews, and interviews. The Public library of Charlotte, NC, has videos produced by teens and a dedicated YouTube channel. Libraries are tapping into the great expanse of audio and video on the Web to reach out to computer and internet users. DPL has a children’s story podcasting service. The library is branching out to include YouTube, Facebook and MySpace pages. Expanding to the Web and adding Audio/Visual content reaches out to computer and Internet users and draws them into the resources a library offers. Libraries physical hours are limited; however, the Internet is open 24/7 creating a time shifting of programming which can be accessed at the convenience of the user (Library Journal, v133, n15 p22-25 Sep 2008).

Nicholas Carr’s book, The Big Switch, provides an apt and amazing review of how mankind developed and adapted new technologies, and how those technological advances affect modern culture. A big switch is occurring with print and audio visual media moving to digital form. Carr mentions Yale professor Yochai Benkler’s book, The Wealth of Nations. Benkler cites three technological advances which make the big switch possible. 1) The physical machinery is available in advanced economies. 2) The raw materials are public goods including existing information, knowledge and culture. 3) the Internet provides the platform to use the goods. These advances allow individual access to the goods in order to improvise, collaborate and create (Carr 2008 p 140). A benefit of Internet technology can be found in what businesses call “crowdsourcing,” the practice of the masses producing without ownership of the products they create through collaboration. Crowdsourcing is a mixed benefit as knowledge is gained and shared, but jobs are lost and the wealth gap grows wider (Carr p 142). The newspaper and publishing industries are struggling to adapt and shift to Internet versions of their products. Many jobs are lost to the information available on the Web. The Web also spies on individuals, using cookies to track sites visited and products reviewed and purchased. The search engine Google uses algorithms to reach deeper as the store of data increases. Privacy loss is an adverse effect of Internet use. Information available in the World Wide Web is obtained easily; however, the data has no guarantee of being correct or authentic. Playwright Richard Foreman discusses the old ideal of a “highly educated and articulate personality—a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the west,” which he fears is being lost to current technologies. He feels that the complex inner density is lost to an overload of information, instantly available. Foreman fears we are turning into “pancake people—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information….” (Carr p 226-7)

“Sherlock Holmes, the hero of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, often amazed his loyal friend Dr. Watson by drawing a correct conclusion from an array of seemingly disparate and unconnected facts and observations. The method of reasoning used by Sherlock Holmes is abduction” (Patokorpi, 2007). Information Technology must be used carefully as we look for clues on the Web by following links just as Sherlock Holmes uses clues. Paths are made by focused searches recorded with technological tracking such as bookmarks, RSS feeds, and the drop down history list. Information detectives need to find information and meaning in that information by forming a feedback loop. The data must be found in replication by following other links to other sources and clues. Forward or back, facts need to be checked for accuracy to find truth in the search. The answer to the question, does Computer/Internet use make us lazy, can be found in this discussion. Information is found easily with the push of a start button and aimlessly following links. Good information requires detective skills and work, in a constant feedback loop of checking and revising (Patokorpi, 2007).

The effects of Information Technology on the family are both positive and negative.  Families of old sat near the fireplace, single radio, or TV sharing time together.  Today’s families spend less time together but stay connected with technology. A summary, from a recent study of 2,252 families conducted Dec. 13, 2007-Jan. 13, 2008, covers the subject well.  1) Technology enables connectedness with cell phone, texting and internet experiences.  2) Families are less likely to share meals and have less leisure time. 3) Cell phone allows parents to touch base and coordinate. 4) Internet use can have shared “Wow” moments. 5) Those surveyed include a majority who believe their family life is as close as when they grew up. 6) The new tools help people stay connected with friends and family, however, technology use blurs the line between work and home with Internet, cell phone, blackberry and texting taking work home and taking time from family. 7) TV use has decreased as Internet use increases. 8) People have less time for relaxing (Kennedy, Wells, & Wellman, 2008).

Information Technology allows all connected to play but few will reap monetary rewards. Connection can be found with communication distance instant over miles. Physical space is increased with face to face connections decreased. Excessive use of technology can have adverse effects on brain health, social connection, family time, and loss of jobs. Knowledge is available but must be carefully researched and used. Privacy must be guarded. Connection is maintained with cell phone, texting, blackberry, computer and Internet use. Nuance in sharing, and emoting face to face lessens. Democracy may expand or government may seek control. There are more questions in flux than fully answered. The technology is relatively new and expanding. The written word remains important because the new data storage requires electricity, a big switch which could take the advances back to old ways.  The talented visionaries of our past have developed concepts and ideas while staying warm with others around a fire. The written word recorded and spread that knowledge to others. Today a crossroads, a cusp has been reached. Good or bad, change is here, man and society will adapt in a giant feedback loop started by firing up the computer and sharing separately around the monitors.

Bibliography

Carr, N. (2008). The Big Switch, Rewiring The World,   From Edison to Google. New York, NY, USA: W.W.    Norton & Company, Inc.

Daniel G. Amen, M.   (2008). Magnificent Mind At Any Age. New York, NY, USA: Harmony Books, Crown   Publishing Group, Random House, Inc.

General, O. o.   (2008). Parents and Caregivers Checklist. http://surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention/pledges/parents.html   . Washington D.C., USA: US Department of Health & Human Services.

Jeske, M. (2008,   Sep.). Tapping into Media. Library Journal, v133 n15 p22-25 . USA:   2008 Library Journal, Reed Business Information, Reed Elsevier, Inc.

Patokorpi, E. (2007).   Logic of Sherlock Holmes in Technology Enhanced Learning. Educational   Technology and Society, v10 n1 p171-185 . IAMSR, Åbo Akademi University,   Joukahaisgatan 3-5A, 20520 Åbo, , Finland: Educational Technology &   Society Peer Reviewed Journal.

Pothier, K. (2008,   Oct 9). Is Clicking Around Making Us Stupid? What does information   technology do to our brains? NH, USA: Pothier, Term Paper IT 100.

Pothier, K. (2008,   Oct 2). Language and Information Technology. NH, USA: Kenneth Pothier, Term   Paper, ENG 350.

Richard Campbell, C.   R. (2008). Media & Culture an introduction to mass communication. Boston,   New York, USA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Snyder, L. (2007).   Fluency with Information Technlogy. Boston, San Francisco, New York, USA:   Addison Wesley.


[1] Inner Reflections 2009 Engagement Calendar-Selections from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda

Memorial to Donald Murray with Poems: His Time Was Write and Hard Wood Writing

Never a Day Without a Line
When a mentor passes on–A Memorial to Donald Murray

I heard it on the 11 o’clock New Years Day news. Donald Murray died of a heart attack at the age of 82. He had submitted his column ‘Now and Then’ to the Boston Globe the day before he died. He never stopped working, learning or sharing the knowledge he had gained.

My connection to Donald started from a Now and Then column that he had written in late winter which mentioned a spring writing class and one of his favorite bookstores on Water Street in Exeter NH. A heartfelt feeling took me there and I bought the book he suggested and left my information. Fortune smiled and on a Monday nights for six weeks I found myself at Don’s house in Durham with a circle of writers and novices of the craft. Don in his chair teaching by drawing us in and sharing his life and the work he loves. A large man in both stature and heart held court as we listened and learned in a circle where he made us feel equal. No pretense, just the spirit of a man open and true. His words ring true in my head: ‘Find your voice and tune it to the situation’
‘Writing is personal-be as true as possible’
‘The voice must sound like you, if not something is wrong-you may not be close enough to the material’
‘I still sometimes look at the world as a soldier’
‘Write with velocity and lower your standards’
‘Good writers see deep important things about the human condition. They articulate the human condition for those who can not’
‘Surprise is wonderful, I want to surprise myself some more before the road ends’

I met with him three times after the class ended. Twice for breakfast at ‘Young’s’ in Durham where everyone knows his name. The morning after class ended I picked him up at 5:45 AM. He told me he had stayed up all night as enthusiasm about the class, father’s day trip weekend prior, writing, and using his new art supplies would not let him sleep. He insisted on paying for breakfast and said that my turn was next. As I dropped him off at his house and told him to get some rest he answered, ‘after I write a little’. 82 years old, up all night and his motto, ‘nulla dies sine linea’ and work ethic still ruled.
For me he is gone too soon, too fast but he will always be with me. It’s his turn again to buy breakfast and he promised to come for dinner and meet my ‘Maria May.’
He believed in his family, his students, his friends and his colleagues. He gave us a confidence devoid of judgments that we could find our voice and tune it to the situation.
I offer a poem written with Donald in mind and submitted during what would be his last class. He had taken up drawing and painting recently for the sheer joy and surprise of it. The last line was added today.

Hard Wood Writing

Feeling lucid under pressure
Moments of sheer horror and panic do pass
Drawn on ousted emotions to draw-paint words to paper
Form scenes opened felt by me
Acts of art for others to observe-see
A word play called ‘New Hope Spring’
On a clean cool clear and cloudy canvass of Papyrus
Framed pages with words
Book cover borders
Times Temperaments Torments Trusts
Loss and Rebirth
Felt and Palpable on written page
Hopes spring grows and flows
Words in mahogany and oak
A writer’s true rings of hard growth memory
True to a vision of what has come to pass
Hard Wood Writing on soft textured page of one person’s past
Written Word Etched for Eternity by Scribed Survivor
Mahogany Voice Rises from Oaken Experience
From scribbler to Scribe the Survivor Crafts
The soft subtle textured pages of a life’s
Lessons Learned and Shared
Now and Then

His time was write

Found a mentor, ol’ sage, life almost spent

He opened his home, gave a last class

Unconditionally he let us in and shared a successful career

“Write Short, Write Quick,” the mentor said.

The world has changed–attention spans are short sighted

Draw them in, hold them, set them free, with words from the heart

An old man’s spirit shared

His time was write

Now and Then taught me ours is then and now

The road goes on and I will be one of Donald’s Acolytes–Apostles

Nulla dies sine linea–never a day without a line

Share a life til the road ends

To be taken up by a spirit who’s time is write

Copyright by Ken Pothier

Language and Indigenous Peoples

Language and Indigenous Peoples
Native American Culture and the history of the first human beings to populate the America’s have always fascinated me. The book Hanta Yo by Ruth Beebe Hill took me into a world and let me live there in a spiritual journey which continues today. The main connection for me was the courage and altruism of the people living with and as part of the nature of the places they lived. A quote from the introduction follows, “The American Indian, even before Columbus, was the remnant of a very old race in its final stage, a race that had attained perhaps the highest working concept of individualism ever practiced. Neither the word ‘free’ nor any corresponding term occurs in the root language, in the primal concept: there never was anything for the Indian to free himself from. His was the spirit not seeking truth but holding on to truth. And his was the mind nourished on choice. Whatever he needed to know, nature sooner or later revealed to him. And that which he desired to know—the best way to achieve his maximum spiritual potential—was the only mystery he chose to investigate.”
I believe Hanta Yo means ‘Go forward’ in Dakota. Dakota is the name of the allied ones, the true name of the Sioux Tribe. “Linguists know that the; unique qualities of a particular language reflect the characteristics of its place of origin and the cultural context of the people who speak it” Nancy Lord goes on to say, “Languages…belong to environments in the same way that living creatures do, shaped by and shaping the places that spawn them, both in the words needed to identify and address the particulars of those places and in the structures needed to survive in them.” (pg 481) Often single words are used for phrases, descriptions and identification of the natural environment around the indigenous peoples.
Immigrants may have destroyed the way of life described but they adopted words and place names from the language of the Native Americans. Last year I attended a Pow Wow run by the Abernakis at the Mi Te Jo campground in Milton NH. The dancing and drumming tell stories which keep the culture alive. Native Americans culture is a language and includes music, dance, story-telling and art that are all part of the whole. Words for them are both mysterious and powerful.
It is sad that so many of the languages have been lost to time for a rich and wonderful history of the free and spiritual lives they led is also lost. The emphasis on nature is coming back and with the demise of our planet many are realizing the wisdom in the Native American way of life. I started a Database for this short paper which portrays how the natural environment was of great importance in words adopted and the meanings which described the nature of place. I will also bring in Art purchased at the Pow Wow and show how Art for them is also language.
Native American Language Influence
ID Tribe or Region Word or Place- Name-Definition- Remarks
5 Chippewa- hominy
6 Manhattan-papoose
7 Podunk- samp
8 Podunk- squash
9 Podunk- wampum
10 Eastern Tribes- caribou- Entered through Canadian French
11 Eastern Tribes- mackinaw-
12 Eastern Tribes- pone-
13 Eastern Tribes- Tammany- Entered through Canadian French
14 Eastern Tribes- terrapin-
15 Eastern Tribes- toboggan- Algonquin Tribe
16 West Indies- barbeque- Entered through Spanish
17 West Indies- canoe- Entered through Spanish
18 West Indies- cushaw- Entered through Spanish
19 Nahuat-Mexico- anaqua- Texas knock away tree
20 Nahuat-Mexico- coyote-
21 Nahuat-Mexico- peyote–
22 Choctaw- bayuk creek- Blend: Bayou w F de la Batre=creek of the artillary
23 Dakota- Minneapolis- minne=water+city=water city– Blend: with G/E (a)polis=city
24 Alabama- Alabama- state-tribal subdivision of the Creek Confederacy Indian loan of place name
25 Dakota- Minnesota- minne=water+sota=white, sky tinted or cloudy- Indian loan of place name
26 Dakota- Dakota- states- based on their word for friends or allies Indian loan of place name
27 Iroquois- Canada- from Kanata=settlement- Named by Jacques Cartier
28 Wakashan- potlach- feast-
29 Algonquin- hickory
30 Algonquin- chipmunk
31 Algonquin- caucus
32 Arawakan- Caribbean – sea and islands N. S. America throughout the Caribbean
33 Arawakan- hurricane
34 Arawakan- cannibal
35 Eastern Tribes- Massachusetts- state-from tribal name meaning large hill place- Indian loan of place name
36 Mohican- Connecticut- state &river from word for the long river- Indian loan of place name
37 Iroquois- Kentucky- from Kentahten meaning land of tomorrow- Indian loan of place name
38 Cherokee- Tennessee- from tanasi the name of a Cherokee village- Indian loan of place name
39 Algonquian- Mississippi- state &river from words meaning big river- Indian loan of place name
40 Ugakhpa/Quapaw- Arkansas- state-from word meaning downstream people- Indian loan of place name
41 Choctaw- Oklahoma- state-from words meaning red people- Indian loan of place name
42 Caddo &Allies- Texas- state-from word meaning friend or ally- Indian loan of place name
43 Iroquois- Ohio- state-from word meaning beautiful or beautiful river- Indian loan of place name
44 Chippewa- Michigan- state&lake-from word meaning great lake- Indian loan of place name
45 Iroquois- Lake Ontario- from word meaning sparkling or beautiful water- Indian loan of place name
46 Iroquois- Lake Erie- from word for long tail in referenc to the wildcat- Indian loan of place name
47 Chippewa- Wisconsin- state-gathering of the waters or grassy place- Indian loan of place name
48 Otoe or Omaha- Nebraska- state-flat or spreading water, ref. to Platte River- Indian loan of place name
49 Iowa– Iowa- state-from tribal land and river meaning beautiful land or sleepy ones- Indian loan of place name
50 Southwest Missouri- state&river-from tribal name meaning those with dugout canoes- Indian loan of place name
51 Sioux Kansas- state-tribe meaning people of the south wind- Indian loan of place name
52 Delaware Wyoming- state-from word meaning upon the great plain or large meadow- Indian loan of place name
53 Pima Arizona- state-from word meaning little spring placep Indian loan of place name
54 Ute Utah- state-from Eutaw meaning in the mountaintops or high up- Indian loan of place name

(North American Indian Culture, 2004 revised 2008)informational map from National Geographic
Edited by Clark C, E. P. (2008). Language-introductory readings. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins.
Hill, R. B. (1979). Hanta Yo. NY: Warner Books with Doubleday & Company Inc.

Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry N.H. Review

Bassist

Yardbirds 2011

Yardbirds 2011

Jefferson Starship 2013

Jefferson Starship 2013

The Fixx Lead Guitarist

The Fixx Lead Guitarist

Duke Rubillard and Monster Mike Live

Duke Rubillard and Monster Mike Live

Saw Doctors Live

Saw Doctors Live

Ana Popovic??????????????

Ana PopovicThe Tupelo Music Hall –Review by Ken Pothier

Listen as they play–Play as you listen.
The music menu at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH is varied and delightful. It induces dancing, toe tapping, hand clapping and conversation. It is Americana, a cross–section of the heart of our country in which truth and light exude from the music. You cannot help but be moved by the sound and lyrics. The ‘live’ professional tight yet loose feel which is produced by musicians and artists that are at their best because they are doing what they love in front of an audience that understand and feel that spirit and joy. The Tupelo has fine acoustics in a cozy atmosphere. The musicians can see each face and feel the energy in a give and take that is missing in larger venues.
You want to call your friends and tell them something is going on that should not be missed–bring your enthusiasm, a voice, tapping fingers and feet, clapping hands. Revisit the days of connection, the time before technology took over and changed the way we interact. Rejuvenate your spirit and revel in the community of sharing the country’s past in the present. Return to the kick ass–kick up your heels feeling that helped move this country and gave life and spirit to its heart past. The backbeat of the Tupelo is that of a gathering of community, of friends, family and colleagues on the common ground of heartfelt sound that connects us all in a world wide web of the wonder of that coming together. The common ground of sound!
Come together right now. Dance, sing, move, feel this music from Americas’ Heartland and Heart. A combination of Blues, Folk, Soulful Gospel, Country, Rock, R&B, Southern Rock, Pop and Comic Relief is a taste of what is provided. All shine here in a live light that can touch us all. All are present day visits to our past.
One of the things that kept us moving forward in our national history was in the music of each period moving the generations along. Giving us hope, allowing us to hold to faith, getting us together and inspiring with a combination of words and music that refreshes spirit, boosts us up and pushes us along with the energy felt individually and derived from a synergy of the masses. These days we need this music again to inspire us to roll up our sleeves, go to work, and put the heart back in the heartland of America. So sing out with these consummate and caring professionals. They ‘get it’, and you should join in!
“So get up of your ass and dust off the past
Lift up your chin and turn it into a grin
Pull up your boots and get back to our roots
You live the blues, pay your dues, now go share the news
And kick up your heels in a new pair of shoes”
At THE TUPELO
Ken Pothier

The Diner

 

Mary Ann’s Diner

The Diner

I egress to an overnight frost, perhaps the last of this season. A different road is taken this early morn under cloudy sky. The rise and fall of hills–twists and turns of a never straightforward road. I pass old farms and churches’ spires. They mark time and my passing on the road to Mary Ann’s Diner and Family Restaurant. It is done up 50’s style. Choice of booths, tables for two and four squeeze in six in a pinch. The counter for single lonely souls lost in a paper, a cigarette, a dream. TV is on but no sound and here no one cares for that kind of news. The music here is fifties and sixties oldies played back to back in an endless flow from past memory to present thought, noninvasive in a subtle and seamless meld of years. I sit with the lonely souls at the counter with a local newspaper but it is hard to read with all the life and sound around me. I play name that tune–name that band–feel that memory–emotion with the music. The flow of music matches the life of the place and the quickstep of the waitresses. Full–bodied waitresses in long poodle skirts, bobby socks and soft shoes, friendly,

carrying their loads with big smiles. Coffee and ice water brought to me with never– ending refills. Ol’ style breakfast made to your liking. I order steak tips marinated in raspberry sauce with eggs over medium, home fries and raisin toast-$7.50. Smiles small talk and refills free and this diner’s experience priceless.

A place where you are always welcome a sanctuary of sorts. Local contractors make their plans for the day; count the week’s profit and loss. Workers of all sorts fill their tanks with good food and fuel for the day’s travails, still stiff from yesterdays work. They shake it off here and get it up to do it again in their own endless flow of work, recovery, work that makes this country run.

Couples meet greet hangout, form and break relationships in a life flow of the yin and yang-the profit and loss of love and affection. Families sit together and show the strain and gain of their growth over time.

Conversations of the day: weather, sports, family progress, accomplishment and setback, goals and dreams, gossip and truth all meld with the music of the place. Spring’s arrival and blossoming, another week removed from winter, a new season and a fresh if cool and cloudy day.

No promises made; however, those who stop at Mary Ann’s leave with a full stomach and a spirit filled with smell of coffee and good food, the sound of human contact and connection in varied form.

A man sits at the counter alone; two bikers who have hardly touched their breakfast are leaving in a hurry. I move to the space provided and find out why they are moving on. The man in his 30’s is a local and a regular. He is also manic–depressive, schizophrenic, Bi-Polar or all of the above. He immediately talks to me at breakneck speed in a flow of words that have meaning but make no real sense. In ten minutes he goes from being the reincarnation of Jim Morrison of the Doors to a Naval Academy graduate at the head of his class. He had a busy night at a secret NATO meeting with CIA, FBI and national security

 

types. The meeting ended early when the Russians did not show up. He tells me he is still in the military and I ask in what way? He says that he is in deep too deep undercover and secret. He moves from booth to booth asking for a cigarette as I move over one stool at the counter. I can listen better and finish my breakfast from this vantage point and the waitresses understand that I cannot solve this man or the nation’s problems today. I must finish and join the workers soon as schedule intrudes on the seamless flow of music and conversation. Connections made and lost–hope for the lonely soul at the counter that tomorrow he will find communication, connection, and peace. Hope for the man with the paper that he will turn the page to someone’s smile and a new start. All in sanctuary found at a 50’s style diner, oldies playing as full–bodied women in long skirts serve up a new day.