Archive for the ‘Texas’ Tag

Lake Woodlands Sunset   4 comments

Lake Woodlands Sunset (October 1, 2009) — Photo-Artistry by kenne

When I lived in the forest

it was not always easy to see 

the sunset for the trees.

After a short trail walk

I would spend some time

at the lake and nearby dam

before crossing the bridge 

to set under a gazebo

watching motorless boats

moving silently across the lake.

— kenne

Katelyn Is Graduating On This Day   Leave a comment

Katelyn (April 1, 2005, at 1 1/2 years) will be graduating high school today — Image by kenne

Look and See

Look and see life —

A baby born
A child talk
A toddler walk
A little girl smile
A teenager spread her wings
A young women love
A women becoming.

Look and see love —
A baby born
A child talk
A toddler walk
A little girl smile

A teenager spread her wings
A young women love
A women becoming.

Look and see beauty —

A baby born
A child talk
A toddler walk
A little girl smile
A teenager spread her wings
A young women love
A women becoming.

Look and see Katelyn – life, love, and beauty.

— kenne

Chase’s Graduation Day, May 24, 2022   7 comments

Chase, December 12, 2005 — Photo-Artistry by kenne

Chase (October 11, 2005) — Image by kenne

Chase and Grandma Joy (May 28, 2005) — Image by kenne

You are educated. Your certification is in your degree.
You may think of it as the ticket to the good life.
Let me ask you to think of an alternative.
Think of it as your ticket to change the world.

— Tom Brokaw

Book Banning In School Libraries   3 comments

This open letter to the parents in Texas who want to ban THE BRIDGE from school libraries is posted on Twitter. We cannot let people who want to erase history and people who think differently from libraries and curriculum.

An Open Letter to Parents Who Wish to Ban My Books from School Libraries

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Elliott,                                                                                          2/18/22

I recently read with interest your call to remove 282 books from your local school library. In it, you claim to have reviewed yourself all of these books and deemed them unfit for K-12 usage (quite a range there!).

I saw that you included among these books my 2020 novel, THE BRIDGE.

First off, thank you for reading my book! I would be happy to chat with you about the book, to see what you took from it.

Second, I want to say up front that I believe your intent here is to protect your children. I echo your concern; I also want safety for children. It’s one of the main reasons I write books for young adults.

THE BRIDGE, as you know, is about two teens, Aaron and Tillie, who are severely depressed. They are both suicidal, and they meet atop the George Washington Bridge in New York City. From there, the book splits into four parts, illustrating all the possible scenarios about what could happen: they could both jump, they could both NOT jump. Or one or the other could jump. The novel follows the impacts of these decisions all the way out, so that readers can come to understand two things—just how difficult it is to be depressed and navigate the disease of depression, and also just how devastating one loss to suicide is to the whole world.

I was a bit surprised to see THE BRIDGE on your list for removal from the library. Not entirely surprised, as I was aware of Matt Krause’s list of 850 books he wants removed, which includes five of my titles. But still I was a bit startled, especially when I read your review of why the book ought to be removed.

You wrote that the book “Contains 1 or more of the following: Marxism, incest, sexual explicit material — in written form and/ or visual pictures, pornography, CRT, immoral activities, rebellious against parents, and the material contradicts the ISD’s student handbook.” As I looked through your screeds, it seems that this is how you describe each of these books. It’s as if you cut and pasted that complaint 282 times. That surprised me, because you took the time, you say, to read each of these books. That’s a lot of reading! Surely you have thoughts about these books you read beyond some cut and paste jargon?

    

So I want to address these concerns. While I disagree that books should be removed from libraries because some people are uncomfortable with the content, I felt it made sense to go through these since you specified your issues with THE BRIDGE.

  • There is no Marxist philosophy in this book. In fact, its author is a capitalist. Of course, since we live in a free country, a book with Marxist philosophy ought to be able to exist in a library, so long as it isn’t threatening to overthrow the government. But that seems like a moot point here.
  • Incest is not a part of THE BRIDGE. In fact, my book does not include explicit sexual activity, though one student at one time writes a poem about wishing she hadn’t had sex with a boy. It is not explicit. In fact, I have read a lot of young adult lit, and I know very few books that include incest, and in each of those cases, it depicts incest in order to help readers who have been through that trauma, not to glamorize it. If you wish to start a petition banning books that glamorize incest in school libraries, I might actually sign it. That’s simply not happening here.
  • Sexual (sic) explicit behavior: I had to think about that one, since teens are sexual beings and sometimes have sexual thoughts. Both Tillie and Aaron have sexual thoughts, but they aren’t explicit in their thinking. No one has sex in this book. That is not what the book is about.
  • Pornography: There is no pornography in my novel.
  • CRT: I believe you are referring to Critical Race Theory. My book doesn’t touch on this. Some of my others do, but this book, again, is about suicide and depression. One of the characters is Korean and was adopted at a young age by a white family. At moments she describes what it feels like to be of a different race than her parents and sister, but at no point does this novel delve into theories about race or a screed about racial inequality. I do wonder what your concern is here, as my understanding is that CRT is a scary buzzword for “teaching history as it happened.” What is the problem with teaching American history, and the fact that this country was built on slave labor? What would you have books say instead? I think it is very important to learn about history. We learn about challenging times in history so that we don’t repeat them.
  • Immoral Activities: Wow, that’s quite an umbrella there. We’d have to dig a bit deeper to know what you mean, but one thing I will say is that misbehaving is often central to literature, as novels always have a conflict. If you are referring, as sometimes people do, to sex before marriage, or taking street drugs, I think you will agree that these things do not happen in THE BRIDGE. I have read some books in which characters do have sex and take drugs, and my take is that it is rarely done to titillate, or to glamorize drug use. Usually in YA literature, drug use is depicted as something negative, and that is as it should be. Now, it is possible you consider Aaron’s sexuality immoral, since he’s gay, but Aaron has never had sex. So unless you are the thought police (and I’m pretty sure those people are on the Left, correct?), I can’t really see how anything about Aaron’s behavior in this book is immoral.
  • Rebellious (sic) against parents: Ah. I think at one point in this book, Tillie skips school. She is depressed, and she is in a therapist’s office with her mother in the waiting room, and she realizes they want to commit her to an institution because she is so deeply depressed, and she freaks out and flees the office. This is, in fact, rebellious behavior. It is also exactly the kind of thing that could happen in the world. I read that you have an elementary school daughter. Congratulations! I don’t have kids, but I have many friends who do. If this sort of rebellious behavior is means for taking a book out of a library, I think you have some exciting and potentially difficult discoveries in front of you when your daughter reaches adolescence. I won’t spoil them. You’ll find out when you have a teenager!
  • I don’t have the ISD handbook, so I don’t know what’s in it specifically. But I do think that if you want to have all the characters in novels adhere to a school handbook, you might have trouble finding novels. In THE WIZARD OF OZ, Dorothy drops a house on a witch. Is murder allowed in the handbook? In A TALE OF TWO CITIES, a French aristocrat runs down a working-class child with his carriage. I would assume this would be considered poor behavior in your district. Should we ban these books, too? Mr. and Mrs. Elliott, the truth is that stories, both fictional and non-fictional, include behaviors that might be considered outside the bounds of how schools might like their students to behave. People lie and cheat and steal. Find me a book for teenagers where no one behaves poorly, and I’ll show you a boring book!

You suggest that the libraries in your district remove THE BRIDGE from its shelves. I guess the question I want to ask, since you have read the book, is: why?

Why, exactly, are you wishing to remove a book about suicide and depression from your libraries?

Perhaps you are concerned for the safety of your students. If so, I applaud you. Health and safety of young people is at the top of my list of concerns, too. As I wrote THE BRIDGE, I spent a lot of time ensuring that I wrote my book in a way that would help teens, not trigger them by making suicide somehow glamorous or sexy. Just like a doctor, who takes an oath to “do no harm,” I take my craft very seriously. I want my books to leave the world better than they found it.

That said, we live in a society where, increasingly, young people are dying by suicide. The reasons for this are too long to go into here, but I would say that among the reasons is isolation and feeling alone and misunderstood.

Right there, in a nutshell, is why I write books for teens. I felt isolated and alone and misunderstood as a teen. I so wished there was a book out there that had a person going through what I was going through. See, I was gay. I knew I was gay because of my thoughts, not because of any book or TV show, because there were basically none of those things back when I was in school. At the time, I was depressed and suicidal because I felt so alone. So I wanted to make sure no other young person went through that.

I am concerned about the young people in the McKinney Independent School District, because in my experience, kids are the same everywhere. There are depressed kids everywhere. There are isolated, at-risk kids everywhere. There are LGBTQ kids everywhere. Getting rid of books from the library won’t change that; it will just make life that much harder and more isolated for those children.

Do you think there should be books in the library that might help a depressed teenager feel a bit more understood? A book that stresses the importance of staying another day, even when everything feels hopeless? Knowing how concerned you are for the safety of your daughter, I would actually guess you would want a book like that available to your child when she gets older. Perhaps I am wrong.

My concern is that you didn’t actually read THE BRIDGE and said that you did. I say this because your list of 282 books includes the exact same concerns for each book. That seems lazy, at best. At worst, it is deceitful, which, I imagine, goes against the ISD handbook. I certainly hope you’re not doing that! It would be hypocritical to behave in ways that go against the values we try to instill in our children.

I think you didn’t read THE BRIDGE, and that in fact you would have been better served to include a book of mine that was more focused on LGBTQ representation. Not because you would be right, but at least then we could have a conversation about why you’re wrong about that, too.

I can say with total honesty that I wish the best for your child. I want for her to have every opportunity for joy and success in life. To experience freedom and happiness.

What I wonder, though, is whether you feel the same way for kids who suffer from depression? Or for kids who are gay? The truth is that like it or not, some kids are gay. Some kids are trans. To make the world safer and better for them, we need to have representation of those people in books. Books with LGBTQ characters save lives. I know because of the hundreds of emails I’ve received from kids who have told me my books saved their life.

Perhaps you would like it better if those kids repressed those desires and didn’t act upon them. Or tried to pray the gay away. I’ve seen that movie. I have met hundreds of men and women over the course of my life who have tried to do that. It doesn’t end well for them, nor does it end well for their spouses.

You might say this is blasphemous, but here is a question for you: what if it turns out your daughter is lesbian or bisexual? You might think this is impossible; I can tell you from experience that I have met hundreds if not thousands of teens and parents in that situation. Kids from conservative, religious households. Parents who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and anything else is immoral.

My question is, if it turns out your child is lesbian, or bi, or trans, what would you wish for them? Would you want them to feel loved and safe, or would you want them to feel alone and ashamed?

You might think now you’d prefer the latter, but I see from the fact that you are doing so much to try to keep your child safe that perhaps you might change your mind about that. According to a 2021 national study by The Trevor Project, 42 percent of LGBTQ youth considered suicide last year. The number is much higher for trans and non-binary youth. I have heard the argument that this shows that LGBTQ youth are simply troubled, but I can tell you that’s not right. LGBTQ youth are at risk precisely because of endeavors like yours that aim to erase people like them from the library.

I’ll end with a prayer for you, because I know that you are religious. I pray that you and your family find prosperity and joy. I hope that in your prayers tonight, you will pray for at-risk kids who need these books. Because in many cases, their lives depend on it.

Sincerely,

Bill Konigsberg

Posted February 21, 2022 by kenneturner in Books, Information, Philosophizing, Texas

Tagged with , ,

Nowhere Else But Texas   2 comments

“Nowhere Else But Texas” (August 9, 2021 Somewhere in North Texas) — Image by kenne

It has always been my understanding that no flag flies at the same level as the American. But maybe I have had it wrong.

— kenne

On The Road–Sundance Square   2 comments

Our second night on the road was spent in Ft. Worth. Before going to our hotel, we spent some time in Sundance Square,
located downtown Ft. Worth.

Sundance Square (August 8, 2021) — Photo Essay by kenne

Sunflower Ally   Leave a comment

A Sunflower Ally in the Texas Sandhills State Park (August 8, 2021) — Image by kenne

Texas Two Step   Leave a comment

Texas Two Step — Photo-Artistry by kenne

“He had a habit of remarking to bartenders that he didn’t see
any sense in mixing whiskey with water
since the whiskey was already wet.”

— Joseph Mitchell

On The Dock Of The Bay   Leave a comment

Fishing Boats Docked at Galveston Bay, Texas — Image by kenne

[Verse 1]
Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah

[Chorus]
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

[Verse 2]
I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the ‘Frisco bay
‘Cause I’ve had nothing to live for
And look like nothin’s gonna come my way

[Chorus]
So I’m just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

[Bridge]
Look like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes

[Verse 3]
Sittin’ here resting my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home

[Chorus]
Now, I’m just gonna sit at the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Oooo-wee, sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

[Outro]
*Whistling*

Sunday Afternoon At Gruene Hall   1 comment

Sunday Afternoon At Gruene Hall — Photo-Artistry by kenne

‘The Place’ 

Gruene Hall took on the mantel 
‘Texas’s Oldest Dance Hall’
after Hurricane Katina destroyed
the Double Bayou Dance Hall in 2007

locally called ‘The Place’ for 65 years —
there was blues in this place
music by the people for the poor
served up with beer and bar-b-q

— kenne

Double Bayou Dance Hall (‘The Place’)

Full Moon Over Double Bayou   Leave a comment

Full Moon Over Double Bayou — Photo-Artistry by kenne

“The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.”

– Carl Sandburg

Friends of The Blues (FOB) Fund Raiser (09/06/02)   Leave a comment

Friends of the Blues Fund RaisersRaising Funds For The Friends of The Blues (09/06/02) — Images by kenne

FOB Fund Raiser

 

 

“The More It Stays The Same.”   3 comments

Old Jules-artJack “Old Jules” Purcell — Photo-Artistry by kenne

In June of 2006 Old Jules wrote on his blog So Far From Heaven “The More It Stays The Same.”

I hadn’t watched Easy Rider (Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson, circa 1968) in three decades.

When I saw it again this past weekend I appreciated it again for the first time:

Nicholson: You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can’t understand what’s gone wrong with it.

Hopper: Huh. Man, everybody got chicken, that’s what happened, man. Hey, we can’t even get into like, uh, second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel. You dig? They think we’re gonna cut their throat or something, man. They’re scared, man.

Nicholson: Oh, they’re not scared of you. They’re scared of what you represent to ’em.

Hopper: Hey man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody needs a haircut.

Nicholson: Oh no. What you represent to them is freedom.

Hopper: What the hell’s wrong with freedom, man? That’s what it’s all about.

Nicholson: Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s what it’s all about, all right. But talkin’ about it and bein’ it – that’s two different things.

I mean, it’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace.

‘Course, don’t ever tell anybody that they’re not free ’cause then they’re gonna get real busy killin’ and maimin’ to prove to you that they are.

Oh yeah, they’re gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom, but they see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ’em.

Hopper: Mmmm, well, that don’t make ’em runnin’ scared.

Nicholson: No, it makes ’em dangerous.

Three young men searching for America who found it wasn’t what they bargained for.

Jack

Texas Dancehall Days   1 comment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADouble Bayou Dancehall (October 19, 2002) — Photo-Artistry by kenne

DOUBLE BAYOU, THAT IS

There’s a sound
coming from a place
down on the bayou,
Double Bayou, that is.

A place where
houserocking blues lovers
would swing to the blues,
Texas Blues, that is.

I miss that place,
a dance hall
down on the bayou,
Double Bayou, that is.

Sixty-seven years
alone the gulf coast,
badly damaged by Ike,
hurricane Ike, that is.

I miss Pete Mayes,
legendary blues man
who ran the dance hall,
Double Bayou, that is.

A true blues man,
everything he sang
had that blues feeling,
Texas blues, that is.

A Pete Mayes concert
at the dance hall 
was a holidays tradition,
Christmas Holidays, that is.

“Old House Recognition”
sign how marks the place
where 
the blues rang
over the bayou,

Double Bayou, that is.

— kenne

 

Note: Click on the Double Bayou Dancehall below the top image
to see a video on the history of dancehall.

4th Avenue de Jour   2 comments

dairy-queen_art-ii-blog-ii Computer Art by kenne

Years ago, my friend Lindy and I were driving in
Central Texas to conduct a teacher in-service
when we saw an “Entering Mexia” sign.
Not being from Texas, I said, “Oh! We are
entering Mex-ee-uh.”
“No, you Yankee! That’s Mu-hay-uh,” she said.
We kept arguing, and finally, we decided to
settle the argument by stopping at the first
place we came to, go inside and ask a
local citizen. We went in, and I asked the girl
behind the counter to very slowly pronounce
the name of the place. She said, 

“D-A-I-R-Y-Q-U-E-E-N.”

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