Sunday, June 4, 2017

It Might Be Time for a Communal Sing-along of "Who's Garden Was This?"

In lieu of Donald Trump’s uncertain belief in global warming and commitment to saving the planet, perhaps it would be timely to recall Tom Paxton’s haunting song “Whose Garden Was This,” written for the first Earth Day in 1970. Here’s a copy of the lyrics and a link to his rendition followed by the more well known cover by John Denver:

Whose garden was this? 
It must have been lovely.
Did it have flowers?
I’ve seen pictures of flowers,
And I’d love to have smelled one.

Whose river was this? 
You say it ran freely?
Blue was its color?
I’ve seen blue in some pictures,
And I’d love to have been there.

Ah, tell me again I need to know:
The forest had trees, the meadows were green,
The oceans were blue and birds really flew,
Can you swear that was true?

Whose grey sky was this?
Or was it a blue one?
Nights there were breezes?
I’ve heard records of breezes,
And you tell me you’ve felt one?

Whose forest was this?
And why is it empty?
You say there were bird songs?
And squirrels in the branches,
And why is it silent?


Whose garden was this? 
It must have been lovely.
Did it have flowers?
I’ve seen pictures of flowers,
And I’d love to have smelled one.

Here’s Paxton’s early recording:

And here’s Denver’s more pulsating version:

Who knew birds were publicity shy? It is three days since I wrote about my build-it-up-tear-it-down tussle with nest building bird(s) without new construction appearing behind our awning. Who knew all it would take to scare them away was a blog post? 

Or maybe the female got tired of carrying around her eggs and couldn’t wait for me to give up so she found a less troubled spot to start her family. Whatever. I’m just hoping the bird(s) don’t come back this season, though I expect a new attempt next spring.

Writing 101: For those would-be fiction writers, The New York Times a few days ago published a list of writing tips from best selling author John Grisham (

Not to suggest I know more about writing than Grisham, but does anyone else have a problem receiving writing tips that include a grammatically incorrect sentence—no doubt, unwittingly, but still part of Grisham’s exposition and, sadly, not corrected by The Times

Here it is: “There is nothing original about this list. It has all been said before by writers much smarter than me.”

For those wondering, the correct wording should be “smarter than I.”

On the subject of books, does anyone seriously believe Trump read the set of Martin Luther King Jr. writings he gave to Pope Francis during his visit to the Vatican? And does anyone believe he read the Pope’s encyclical on the environment before making his decision on the Paris climate agreement? 

On the subject of correctness, sartorially speaking, can someone, perhaps Melania or Ivanka, please tell The Donald to button his suit jacket when standing up and strutting about. He appears rather boorish, not to mention paunchy, when his jacket is open.

Lest someone think I am picking on him because he’s a Republican, be advised that early during Barack Obama’s presidency I railed against the “shins of the president.” I criticized him for wearing ankle length socks that exposed his shins while sitting with his legs crossed for an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. 

Shortly thereafter the fashion miscue was corrected. Hopefully, the stomach-in-chief will be advised how better to conceal his girth.

Political Correctness: Uh-oh. Trump unleashed a flurry of profanity and unacceptable behavior with his Access Hollywood bus talk about grabbing pussy. In the end he didn’t pay for his vulgarity, but the equivalency police that permits equal time to climate change deniers is not ready to forgive comedians who graphically express their feelings about our grabber-in-chief.

Stephen Colbert escaped censure or worse after he said Trump’s mouth was a holster for a male part of Putin’s anatomy. But Kathy Griffin’s career may not recover from her visually bloody display of a decapitated Trump head.

And now there’s clamor for Bill Maher’s head after he used the “N-word” in a repartee with U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) during his Friday night show Real Time (

Maher apologized the next day for using the “offensive” word, but the fallout, particularly from black activists and conservatives who are eager to stifle his progressive, libertarian anti-Trump voice, is not likely to fade away in the short term.  

I don’t condone his remarks but viewed in context I cannot support calls for his dismissal from HBO. Maher has been among the most supportive of Afro-Americans both in terms of prior comments and inclusion as guests of his show. Nor do I think Sasse has to apologize for not reacting immediately to the N-word. 

After Saturday night’s terrorist attack in London Trump called for more security and the abandonment of political correctness. “We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse,” he tweeted.

He also tweeted, “We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”,  apparently not understanding that the courts stayed imposition of his travel ban because it infringed on rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

As for relaxing PC standards, does that imply Trump is okay with what Colbert, Maher and Griffin said and did? After all, Trump hosted Ted Nugent at the White House despite the entertainer’s vile and suggestively threatening comments about President Obama and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. 

So sad. 

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