For the Union Dead

Relinquunt Ommia Servare Rem Publicam.

The old South Boston Aquarium stands
in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded.
The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
The airy tanks are dry.
Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass;
my hand tingled to burst the bubbles
drifting from the noses of the crowded, compliant fish.

My hand draws back. I often sign still
for the dark downward and vegetating kingdom
of the fish and reptile. One morning last March,
I pressed against the new barbed and galvanized

fence on the Boston Common. Behind their cage,
yellow dinosaur steamshovels were grunting
as they cropped up tons of mush and grass
to gouge their underworld garage.

Parking spaces luxuriate like civic
sandpiles in the heart of Boston.
a girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders
braces the tingling Statehouse,

shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw
and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry
on St. Gaudens’ shaking Civil War relief,
propped by a plank splint against the garage’s earthquake.

Two months after marching through Boston,
half of the regiment was dead;
at the dedication,
William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe.

Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city’s throat.
Its Colonel is a lean
as a compass-needle.

He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,
a greyhound’s gentle tautness;
he seems to wince at pleasure,
and suffocate for privacy.

He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man’s lovely,
peculiar power to choose life and die-
when he leads his black soldiers to death,
he cannot bend his back.

On a thousand small town New England greens
the old white churches hold their air
of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic

The stone statutes of the abstract Union Soldier
grow slimmer and younger each year-
wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets
and muse through their sideburns…

Shaw’s father wanted no monument
except the ditch,
where his son’s body was thrown
and lost with his “niggers.”

The ditch is nearer.
There are no statutes for the last war here;
on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph
shows Hiroshima boiling

over a Mosler Safe, the “Rock of Ages”
that survived the blast. Space is nearer.
when I crouch to my television set,
the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons.

Colonel Shaw
is riding on his bubble,
he waits
for the blessed break.

The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,
giant finned cars nose forward like fish;
a savage servility
slides by on grease.

The ancient owls’ nest must have burned.
Hastily, all alone,
a glistening armadillo left the scene,
rose-flecked, head down, tail down,

and then a baby rabbit jumped out,
short-eared, to our surprise.
So soft!- a handful of intangible ash
with fixed, ignited eyes.

Too pretty, dreamlike mimicry!
O falling fire and piercing cry
and panic, and a weak mailed fist
clenched ignorant against the sky!

Robert Lowell

Smoked bluefish

Wind east, fish bite least, and that was the case on Saturday morning when we ran east to Wianno to scout some striped bass on the flats by the fish weir. The conditions were too overcast and sloppy to see any cruising fish so we ran back to Cotuit and set up a drift towards Sub Rock, casting orange Roberts and Ballistic Missiles on wire leaders. In twenty minutes we landed eight big bluefish – averaging eight to ten pounds – and stopped at the point of Sampson’s Island to fillet them and toss the racks into the channel for the crabs to pick over.

I brined the fish in a gallon of water, two cups of kosher salt, a cup of maple syrup, garlic powder, Pete’s Texas Hot and a lot of soy sauce, leaving the fillets in the fridge overnight until this morning, when I dried them to a shiny pellicle, ground a ton of black pepper over them, and finished them with a dusting of Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. Eight hours in the Cabela’s vertical propane smoker with two loads of soaked hickory chunks and I now have a big stack of leathery smoked bluefish. I’ll turn some of it into bluefish pate, using the Legal Seafood’s recipe; the rest will get wrapped and handed out to neighbors and friends. If I do two loads this spring, it will be a lot, and every time I do it I start to wonder, based on the $10 the restaurants charge for about two ounces of the pate, if I could set the kids up with a serious business venture peddling smoked fish to the high end boutique grocery stores here in Cotuit and Osterville. Then I start thinking about the Board of Health and snap back to reality. I hate to waste fish, and if the family can polish off four fillets it’s a miracle. I’ve tried vacuum sealing the stuff, freezing it – nothing really works on smoked fish, and bluefish, sorry to say, is not my favorite fish in the world unless it is blackened Cajun style or smoked dark brown like a herring.

I really want a striper for the table, but just am not clever or devoted enough to set the alarm and bomb off into the dawn for Bishops & Clerks or the shoals off of Succonnesset. Maybe tomorrow. I really am a fan of pan roasted bass with a chive and sour cream sauce.

Whereabouts 5.26 onwards

Memorial Day Weekend: Cape Cod, no travel, just fishing, gardening, and home repair projects.

Tues-Wed. 5.26-27: Back to Morrisville, NC

Thursday  5.28: Boston

Friday-Sun 5.29-5.31: Cotuit

Mon.-Tue. 6.1-2: NYC, speaking at Conversational Media Summit

Wed.-Fri.:6.3-5: Morrisville, NC

Sat.-Sun. 6.6.-6.7: Cotuit

Monday-Friday, 6.8-6.12 West Coast (Tahoe, Valley, San Diego ((perhaps)))

Beyond: China in the latter half of June. No vacation on the docket yet.

Beware the Social Media Charlatans – Business Center – PC World

via Beware the Social Media Charlatans – Business Center – PC World.

Someone had to say it:

“Lately it seems I can’t go anywhere without running into a gaggle of social media consultants bloviating about the wonders of social network marketing. Sure, you’ve seen ’em, too. Slick shake-and-bake “experts” promising to help you leverage the power of Twitter and Facebook to raise your profile and, inexplicably, boost your profits. But scratch the surface on most of these claims and they instantly crumble. Meanwhile, it seems the only people making any money in social media are the consultants themselves.”

unleashing my inner red neck

Hertz Gold Club #1 greeted me at RDU yesterday with a big-ass red Ford F150 pickup truck with a crew cab. My testosterone levels spiked. No KIA or Hyundai nonsense for this cowboy. I climbed in, fired it up, hit the radio and yep, all the buttons were pre-tuned to WQDR – country music.

So I have been tooling around the urban sprawl of North Carolina feeling extremely red-blooded, and catching up on the latest NASCAR news (e.g. Jeff Gordon had an injection in his back, Coors Lite is the official NASCAR beer) while driving to dinners at the Angus Barn.

Back to Cape Clam tonight. Things aren’t going to be the same.

Thanks to Nathan Gilliatt for the pointer to this here video:

Is Boston Still a Venture Capital Hotbed? – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com

via Is Boston Still a Venture Capital Hotbed? – Bits Blog – NYTimes.com.

Boston feels pretty dead in terms of tech innovation. Aside from a few exceptions during the dot.bomb days (CMGI, Lycos) and some old glories and hardcore wire-head firms, the VC community feels deader than disco in The Hub.

“Boston’s venture capital and start-up industries, once fueled by the minicomputer boom, have been shrinking in recent years. The amount of venture capital invested in Boston companies fell from $3.9 billion in 2007 to $3.3 billion in 2008, while investment in Silicon Valley start-ups stayed steady at $11 billion, according to the National Venture Capital Association.”

Amazing boom and bust that took three decades. 60s saw a big DARPA fueled engine around MIT, Mitre, Lincoln Labs ….70s saw the minicomputer take off …. 80s were the Lotus decade …. but by the 90s the writing was on the wall. The innovation table tilted to the Valley where the PC revolution went beserk in the 70s.

Sad.

What I’m reading and watching ….

Books:

Steven Johnson: The Invention of Air, the story of the Reverend Joseph Priestly.

World War Z: Max Brooks. The zombie wars, told Stud Terkel style. Recommended by my good buddy T. Soon to be a major motion picture.

Thirteen Moons: Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain. Just getting into it. Not sure yet.

J.D. Lasica: Identity in the Age of Cloud Computing. Really good cloud computing primer. I am very into cloud services these days, working on some Amazon Web Services stuff, thinking about business models. Lasica does a great job with a summation of

Movies:

Old Boy: Highly demented Korean revenge flick. Highly demented. Fight scene with a claw hammer is pretty unforgettable.

Songs from the Second Floor: Swedish weirdness. Like a two hour television commercial with very pale people

Star Trek: digging the Spock emphasis, I mean, seriously, when Spock gets the girl, pointy eared paste eaters everywhere got a lift.

Loves of a Blonde: Milos Forman, pretty funny Czech flick about factory workers behind the Iron Curtain looking for men. This bedroom scene was pretty awesome.