Music is my therapy and I have regularly needed at great deal of it since Donald J. Trump began his run for the presidency in 2015. As I watched him incite his followers yesterday, I could sense I was going to need extra time holding my security guitar, which I keep at arm's reach from my couch.
Then, as you know, his supporters stormed the nation's capitol building and a number of GOP congressional representatives and senators continued their effort to overturn the legitimate votes of many of the people they are supposed to represent.
In need of something to quickly calm me down, I tried to think of a song that would fit this horrible scenario. That's how I relax. So I thought of "Peggy-O", a song I learned in 1966 when I was a freshman at SUNY Fredonia. Yesterday I played it over and over while watching with disgust everything that was unfolding on TV.
In case you are wondering, here is how I see the characters mentioned in the song:
- The Captain: Donald J Trump, by far America's worst president and a serious threat to democracy
- Peggy-O: Lady Liberty, a symbol of everyone's right to freedom
- The carriage: the presidential limo, Air Force One, Trump's golf cart
- Fennario: the USA, or any nation that values democracy
- Peggy-O’s mother: Nancy Pelosi, the framers of the Constitution
- The cities: democratic institutions; the Constitution of the USA
- All the ladies in the area-o: those who do not support DJT; those of us who value democracy in the USA and throughout the world
"Peggy-O" is a Scottish folk song from the 1600's about a thwarted romance between a soldier and a girl. This soldier apparently thought he could have his way with the girl and threatened to burn everything down if she did not let him have his way. Do you know anyone like that?
Monday, January 6, 2021 - She loves me, she loves me not...
I learn so much about Polish culture from Sophie's books. I especially love this one because it connects simple things like herbs and flowers to pre-Christian culture as well as the many practical medicinal uses of herbs throughout the ages.
FYI, I happen to have a long-standing interest in the health benefits of herbs--some of them anyway. I also like learning about the distant past; how my ancestors lived one hundred, one thousand, and five thousand years ago. I like knowing how marjoram ended up in my kielbasa (Yes, it tastes great!), but I also like knowing about its many benefits: it was used for bruises, inflamed eyes, colds, sneezing, indigestion and other things. (I'm not sure what spices are used in the preparation of kiszka, but I suspect I found another reason why people keep stealing it!)
And there are so many herbs! So many I knew nothing about, but now I can enjoy learning about them.
How about the daisy? Our ancestors used daisies for fever, cough, and consumption. Maybe people still do? I never have. But of course we have all used it for guidance in romantic ventures...
Here is the Polish version of "She loves me, she loves me not...":
Loves me not
Not at all
My advice: Use the Polish version.
The odds are better!
(You probably won't have to cheat!)
Friday, January 15, 2021 - What does it take to foment insurrection?
The violent insurrection we are witnessing in our country these days (but hopefully not participating in) reminds me of how easliy things can spin out of control under authoritarian leadership.
"During the German occupation of Poland (World War II), in October 1939, the Selbstschutz carried out several mass executions of Polish inhabitants of Łasin and its surroundings, killing 150 people." - Wiki
My grandmother, Ewa Stopińska, was born in Nowe Jankowice, a village located in the Prussian Partition of Poland. According to stories related to me by the locals when I visited the area in 2015, prior to WWll the famous Stadnina Koni stud farm located in her village was at the time a school for Hitler Youth. Listening to der Führer's persistent inflamatory condemnation of the Polish people, the students and their adult paramilitary leaders took it upon themselves to ravage the countryside and murder about 150 of their Polish neighbors. I don't believe they were under any direct orders. I was told the students just thought it was the patriotic thing to do. So let's go guys... Come on, let's save Germany!
There is a monument in the town of Łasin memorialing this insane massacre of civilians. The executions were just one example of hell endured by the people of Poland. Of course one might argue that Germany was already at war with Poland, so perhaps it was justified? I hope not.
I wonder if those flag-waving "patriots" we watched on TV last week realize that what they
did was very wrong and a real threat to our country. I doubt it. They seemed very determined to show their devotion to their LEADER and return home as righteous heroes. Perhaps somewhere someday there will be a statue erected in their honor. The storming of our nation's capitol instigated by Trump and his most ardent followers on January 6 is a very serious matter. Is it over now, or is it just the beginning?
It is my hope that people everywhere will resist the temptation to use "patriotism" and inflammatory dog whistles as excuses to commit violent acts. Stay home, dammit!
Oh, but what about the violence we saw last summer by the BLM people? To me it is simple. Peaceful protest is okay, but rioting, looting, and acts of violence are illegal. We are a nation of laws, and laws must be obeyed... by everyone. EVERYONE!
Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - Reunited We Stand!
This morning, after finishing my first cup of coffee, I reached over and picked up my guitar to start the day off right with a little music. (I do that every day.) But what to play? Without even thinking, my fingers started to move, and after playing a few chords a song emerged. It was "God Bless America". A miracle!
I can't remember the last time I played that particular hymn, if ever. Perhaps I played it last summer during a Yankee seven inning stretch. I don't know.
Then I thought it must be God's way of telling me there is still hope for the USA. Trump is leaving tomorrow and that in itself is a veritable blessing. So I threw this video together and will post it on Facebook ASAP.
Wednesday, January 20, 2021 - Feelin' Groovy
I am in a very good mood!
Trump forked over the keys to the White House today, and Joe Biden will be inaugurated at noon. Also at noon I will be vaccinated against COVID-19 at Manhattan Square Family Medicine on East Broad Street in Rochester, NY. I am lucky to be getting the vaccine so soon. Many are not so lucky. In a way I feel I am getting two-for-one: vaccination against both Covid-19 and the Mar-a-Lago virus. Hope they both work.
So here is my video. Despite never liking the term "groovy" back in the sixties, I always liked this tune. ---->
I am feeling a bit snarky today for some reason. Maybe someday there will be a vaccine for that too.
Tuesday, February 3, 2021 - Sherwood
Lately I have been watching the old fifties TV series, "The Adventures of Robin Hood". I am sure I was not the only boy back then who loved that show. Robin Hood, Davy Crockett, Zorro, Mickey Mantle and Superman were all heroes of mine. When Halloween time came around, surely I dressed as one of those macho heroes. And I'm sure I looked just like them too.
For fun this morning, I wrote this song. The title is "Sherwood". Hope you like it.
When I was just a lad of ten
I dressed up in a costume fine
Robin and his Merry Men
Were all good friends of mine
I shot my arrow in the air
I thought I knew just where it went
My archery skills were more than fair
But my arrow it was bent
My target I had surely missed
My arrow likely lost for good
The lass next door looked really pissed
Crying “You’re no Robin Hood!”
She threw both pieces back at me
Her aim was really not so good
I gallantly apologized
Just like ole Robin would
She smiled and said, “Stay right there!
“Okay”, I said, my bow in hand
Then shook her hair with such a flair
Inside her house she ran
I waited wondering patiently
Hoping that I might understand
Then suddenly she reappeared
Dressed like sweet Marian
We laughed and played till dinner time
Maid Marian and Robin Hood
She asked me if I’d be her friend
“Oh yes”, I said “SURE WOULD”!
by Bob Johnson
And here are the links to my two Youtube channels:
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - Palm Sunday Workship in Utica, New York
Sponsored by the Kopernik Association
Sunday, March 28, 2021
Holy Trinity School Gymnasium
Easter Boutique, Easter Basket Raffle, and Fresh Babka
*** Bring hard boiled eggs and butter
Five reasons to attend our Palm Sunday Workshop:
* Learn to make Butter Lambs
* Pisanki (Polish eggs)
* Weave Palms
* Children's Activities
1) Explore traditional Polish Easter customs to enhance your celebration of theis Holy Season and pass them on to the next generation
2) Receive one free chance for the Door Prize of 3 Hand-Painted Eggs
3) Fresh Babka (Drive Through pick up available from Wheeler Ave entrance $6)
4) Easter Raffle basket ($40. Value) $1 each, 3 for $2 or 10 for $5
5) Resurrection bouquets available for purchase
Reservations appreciated - Call John at (315) 725-0430
Easter 2021: Saturday, Sunday and Monday
Polska pieśń wielkanocna o dostojnej, uroczystej melodii.
Tekst i melodia: ks. Michał Marcin Mioduszewski 1837
We're going to The Broadway Market!
I first did this video in 2016 but updated it with photos from 2021. "Zwycięzca śmierci"
LADIES BEWARE! The masked Dyngus Day Dude is out on the prowl again! Stay safe. Hopefully we will have a parade in Cheektowaga this summer. You have been warned!
Monday, April 6, 2021: Śmiergust
Dyngus Day in Buffalo is a blast: lot's of music, dancing, parading and partying. (Hope you made it home okay.) This year, however, I chose to celebrate Dyngus Day in a more traditional way... and it was great!
I am also interested in the origins of this day and how it is celebrated today in modern Poland.
This photo shows some of the costumes worn by young men in the village of Podolsze, my maternal ancestral home in southern Poland. You can read about it here:
Thank you Jadwiga Kowalska and Maciej Masialski for the information. You can also see more photos by clicking on the Śmiergust image on the right. --->
April 22, 2021: Andy Gołębiowski
This is Bob Johnson, pointing to his relative Henryk Adamski. Both were born in the United States, but Henry moved to Poland in the 1930s, where the Russians captured him. Bob tells us what happened next in the dramatic story, at: CLICkHERE
— with Robert Johnson.
Summer of 2021: What am I up to?
Basically I am leading an active life focusing on biking, camping, kayaking and family. I have also been playing guitar and concertina Friday nights at Polska Chata Irondequoit, New York. I greatly enjoy socializing with John and Iza and their patrons and staff. Good times!
September 8, 2021
It was great to get back to Polish Happy Hour in Buffalo, New York. Check it out:
November 20, 2021: BIG DISCOVERY
Sue Zebrowski, a relative of mine living in Michigan, just posted this photo of my grandmother, Ewa (Stopińska) Johnson, holding my aunt Agatha (Sue’s grandmother) in her arms. By the way, my grandmothe was the only girl in the first group of children to make their Holy Communion at Saint Stanislaus in Buffalo, New York. She was personally escorted to the altar by Rev. John Pitass, founder of the parish. Yay Babcia! This is the first time I am seeing this photo. Thank you, Sue.