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Happy holidays

December 22, 2005

I’m working Christmas, as I’ve done for years. So here’s to the working stiffs who keep things humming on holidays. On Thanksgiving, I covered a soup kitchen turkey dinner that a church group, a food-catering company and volunteers provided to a large crowd of people living hard times. Be great if this spirit prevailed the rest of the year.

Thanks to friends, co-workers, employers, family and friendly strangers, I had a pretty good year. I taught journalism and took an investigative reporting course at Rutgers University on a fellowship sponsored by North Jersey Media Group. I spoke at the Brookings Institution in Washington at a symposium on teaching the skills of public/citizen diplomacy. For the 10th year, I did a workshop presentation at Rutgers for news reporters on covering municipal and school financial issues. I did a poetry reading at an art show in Philadelphia. I wrote midnight flurries of poems on love and loss—it’s been nearly four years since Paula died—and, on the upbeat side, on the wondrous communion of kindred spirits, which I’d like to publish when I can.

I also worked with a team of reporters, editors and a photographer on an investigative special report, which revealed how toxic industrial waste was dumped near water supply streams in New York and New Jersey and still threatens public health. This report was featured in The Record (Bergen Co., NJ) and on a web site, www.toxiclegacy.com. Official reactions, including a criminal investigation, are still popping.

Two previous projects from my past life got new legs with the re-release of Winter Soldier, a documentary about veterans’ testimony on war atrocities at hearings in 1971 sponsored by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and an art show commemorating a 1970 VVAW protest march to Valley Forge. It was interesting to see these new takes on events I participated in a long time ago, when it seemed few Americans were willing to challenge the claims of a willful president who was waging a misbegotten war—yet was finally forced to resign, while many of his arrogant aides were found guilty of criminal behavior, including trampling the rights of citizens they didn’t like.

To those updating FBI surveillance files—mine started in 1967 when Ramsey Clark was Attorney General—I hereby acknowledge conducting email exchanges with my mother, sons, other relatives, friends, fellow writers and new acquaintances on poetry and current events and the craft of writing, as presented in my commentaries posted on my web site and elsewhere on the Internet. To all government employees detailed to spy on pesky fellow citizens brazenly exercising Constitutional rights: take a break, take a walk, enjoy the holiday season!

Happy holidays and have a great new year,
Jan

Selected Works

Poetry
A tonic spray of poetry, verses that a Vietnam war veteran lives by.
Prose
A pragmatic, common-sense handbook for civic action at the community and international levels.