NOTE: Comes complete with special video recordings of the Author, Dr. Jeffrey Lant reading his work.
When you are a boy in the Midwest of America, oceans are not your usual occupation.
So of course, these seas and oceans become a primary part of what you imagine. The first notable lake I recall is where the Lady of the Lake resides. She was the one, you may remember, who took Excalibur from the dying King Arthur, and then disappeared holding the sword upright, and them submerged… just the image for a daydreaming boy, who wanted to see that lake, see that lady, and have his chance to grab that sword and be the undoubted King of the realm. Right from the beginning, therefore, I was hooked on the water borne adventures which could come if only you believed enough, and never stopped looking through all the seas of all the lands.
The first boat of any substance I remember seeing was the U-505, a German submarine captured in WWII.
As I looked on that small craft, just 252 feet, I wonder where it had been, what they had done, and to whom had they done it.
In short, I recognized that this was not just a piece of ancient metal, but the repository of one sea story after another.
After a summer of working on the farm to bring in the harvest and knowing my father and uncle had worked out a scheme for my agrarian upbringing, I had to exercise my substantial imagination. And so I began my first novel, age 15, written on shelf paper, the amount needed rolled out. On this scroll of paper, each evening I would write the latest installment in the adventures of Hernan Cortez, conquistador.
To this day, I retain an acute interest in Cortez, and all the waters he sailed on, from Spain to Cuba, from Cuba to Vera Cruz.
From that day, without precisely knowing it, I began to collect stories of the great seas, courageous crews or otherwise (think HMS Bounty), and the trade they carried, which took nations like England and Spain and made them rich, and richer still, for to the richest truly went the spoils.
From that day to this, my acquisition of sea stories, of all water stories, has grown apace. To me, these are not sea stories, they are human stories, and in my mind, I can tell you the large ships and little boats which have come through my life.
I sat down the other day to write about all the ships I’d studied, which supplied me with good material, and hours of pleasant reading and studying. As I brainstormed, I saw an unending flotilla, indeed a fleet, of the ships and boats I love so much. They ran from Queen Cleopatra’s extravagant royal barge, burnished with startling gold and the purple sails beloved of Shakespeare, to the African Queen, one of the most magnificent ships there ever was, because the Queen was a noble vessel indeed, and acted accordingly, right through to her noble end.
I studied the greatest battleships on Earth, like the Bismarck, which might have changed the war, but for that one in a million shot that disabled the rudder and damned her to revolve in uncontrollable circles on the sea, and therefore, a sitting duck. There was the story of the Sultana, a riverboat designated to bring home Union war prisoners, the most needy and frail of all, after the fall of the Confederacy. What a horror it was to learn that of 2,427 passengers, far above her capacity, 1,800 were incinerated, their shrieks like the entry way to hell.
There was the Mayflower, which transformed religious immigrants into snobs, and the Victory, Lord Nelson’s flagship, in the Battle of Trafalgar, with its baffling kiss, requested by Nelson for Captain Hardy. And so the list goes on. Consider the Lusitania, which may or may not have been carrying weapons to the Allied forces. Either way, the rampant German submariners polished her off and brought the U.S.A. into the Great War.
There is now, and there always will be no shortage of stories of small ships and great. And to those who are drawn to such stories, we are happy in our work indeed.
Here you’ll find five yarns of ships, great and small with special readings by the author himself – Dr. Jeffrey Lant



by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

It is the beginning of April. A lovely time of year here in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I am writing you. The sun is brilliant; leaves are bursting out all over. It is going to be 82 degrees out today; it was just 30 last week.

These rapid fire changes are, of course, the norm in New England. Temperatures may drop sharply yet again, but the odds are we are now on the necessary path to deliver spring for sure.

I ought to be outside. I’m 70 now, you know, and I’m supposed to be retired. Instead I found that word almost ludicrous in the extreme. There is no rest for the weary.

One reason why is the stack of auction catalogs which I cannot quite reach by leaning backwards in my desk chair. Every day now, the best that major auction companies (and some small ones too) can offer is just about a finger’s length away. They taunt, they point, they arrange themselves in a seductive pattern on the floor, they teeter in makeshift towers which are anything but stable, and fall frequently, giving me yet another look at the bounty inside… bounty that I want.

I thought I’d write this article for you, to show you what you must do if you plan on becoming a major collector, or even an episodic superficial one. There are steps you must take. There are actions and procedures you must learn. As always, you must restrain yourself; it’s part of what being a connoisseur is all about. Focus on the best. Never be or remain satisfied with anything other than quality.

For many years now, I have regarded April, when the first major auctions take place, as the true beginning of auction season. The auction schedule is clogged for this month, May, and June. The loveliest things in the world go on the block during this period, and must sell now before the summer descends, when the unrelenting heat crushes our desire to sit inside and make learned remarks about things we probably cannot afford.

The first thing you need to know about auctions in this season or any other, is that homework is required. Collections are built through assiduous effort, constant viewing and reviewing of objects and offers, constant communication with your stable of experts, and frequent attaboys to keep your spirits up and, as they said in the Revolutionary War, to keep your powder dry.

Upon receipt, review your catalogs at once.

True connoisseurs, that is to say people who play the game better than anyone else, want information early, thorough, and precise. Thus, when a new catalog arrives (that could well be every single day), you must sit down and glance and skim every page. When you get good at this game, this review will only take 10 minutes or so.

As you skim, mark each page that contains something of potential interest. The best thing to do is when you have a little bit more time, create bookmarks by cutting up scrap paper and keep a jar full of them so you’re prepared when the catalogs arrive.

This preliminary review gives you a sense of what may become important over the next days and weeks before the auctions. The goal is not to make a decision now, it is simply to give you a bird’s eye view of everything that is coming up at the auction houses you follow.

Thanks to contemporary universal communications, you may have auctions you’re interested in in Stockholm, Vienna, Paris, London, Rome, Amsterdam, New York, and other major cities, whereas in the olden days, before the internet and computers, you probably couldn’t follow more than one auction house in one city at a time. These days it is perfectly common to follow both major auction houses (Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Dorotheum), and some localized regional houses.

Let’s be honest with each other: this is not easy to do. It takes sustained focus, and a willingness to do what is necessary so that you will not be intimidated when you look for goods in Sweden or Madrid. The worldwide communications revolution has quite clearly fundamentally altered communications, and they have made it possible to learn about, study, and acquire the lots of your highest interest. Craziness extra.

Once you have accomplished your preliminary review, consult your bank book. As I so well know, being a connoisseur with a desire to achieve a splendid collection of international importance selected from the widest variety of goods, you must follow up your preliminary review with a more thorough secondary review.

It is a wise idea to organize this review by date. Remember, when you’re dealing with many auction houses worldwide, your life will be like a popcorn machine, with new sales popping up all the time. Thus, organize your catalogs in chronological order. Don’t just mark the objects you’re interested in, mark the objects you need help with.

I can recall one instance, for example, when I was purchasing Swedish silver sugar bowls from the 18th Century and before. Some of the best silver of this kind was produced in Stockholm, which was then a major political force in Europe. The silver bowls produced in Sweden, however, did not feature elaborate family coats of arms, or other heraldic markings. I was curious, because the objects would have been so much more dramatic, at least in my opinion, with these engraved devices. But it was not the custom to engrave silver as they did in every other major European power. Chacun à son goût.

So… review all your catalogs… mark the items you are interested in… and be clear on the sales date for each catalog you’re interested in. Here is where strategy comes into play. You may see, as I often do, a lovely item on page 1, that is not quite as lovely as an item on page 6, that is not quite as lovely as an item on page 52. Connoisseurs have a constant dilemma. Should you nail down the first item in an auction, even though that may constitute all your available resources, or should you pass on the first item to get to the second, doing the exact same thing to get to the third item. This is a conundrum, a puzzle, an ongoing test of your strategic abilities.

Very few of us have unlimited resources. We must, like I have done throughout the years, work harder, research more thoroughly, and enter the auction arena with nerves of steel. In the auction game, things change with lightning speed. Items which you think you couldn’t afford all of a sudden are selling for fifty percent of what you thought they would. You have to be ready to make the appropriate move, and you must never regret it if your strategy doesn’t work out. Learn from your failures.

By the same token, when you get something that you didn’t expect to get, and you get it below the low estimate, do a happy dance around your desk and whoop it up. Napoleon Bonaparte used to say “Give me the lucky man.” The more you play this game, the luckier you will get.

This brings me to the spring silver sales now underway. I have been spending the last few days in my usual state of anguish and anxiety. All three major European auction houses are having silver sales of the exact things that I crave and cherish. Two of the companies have their silver sales on the same day… different companies, even different continents… same day. This has happened to me on other occasions, where I have one company on hold on one phone and one company on hold on the other. Complete control and clarity are essential in this situation.

Mark the lots that you most want. Do this in all the sales catalogs you have. Do not give way to over-enthusiasm, to an “I must have” attitude. No matter how rare the item you want, there will always be a rarer item coming down the pike.

When I was a graduate student at Harvard, I lived like most graduate students. That is to say, I was a man of empty pockets and unyielding dreams. If some wise acre had told me forty years ago that I would be playing this game with some of the biggest international players, I would not just have disbelieved, I would have scoffed. Such things may happen in fairy tales, but not to graduate students without a schilling in their pocket. But my dream indeed has come true.

Just this morning, I purchased an early 19th Century Venetian seascape by Giacomo Guardi (1764-1835). It is a lovely picture hitherto down on its luck, needing TLC and lots of it. Luckily, it found me, and it now has a chance of life again, and grandeur. This afternoon I’ve been working on my silver collection. Each of these numerous items is an asset. As I have said for so many years, all assets in play. Do not just sit on an asset and look at its thrilling aspects. See it not just as a stationary thing, but as an asset to leverage more. To be a connoisseur is to be not just a finder of beauteous objects, but an economic wizard, seizing a thing, twisting and turning that thing, until you have another thing, and the process takes place all over again for the rest of your life.

Musical note from Grace Jones “Art Groupie” (1981)

I’ve turned to my friend Grace Jones for a comment or two on this matter. Grace is never less than totally frank, which makes so many people squirm, knowing that they may be the next one in her sights.

“Don’t ask me any questions,
My personal life is a bore,
Admire me in glory,
An Art Groupie. That’s all.”

“I’ll never write my memoirs,
There’s nothing in my book,
The only way you see me an Art Groupie,
I’m hooked.”

And so am I.


A clinical psychologist explains how Ayn Rand seduced young minds and helped turn the US into a selfish nation

The ‘Atlas Shrugged’ author made selfishness heroic and caring about others weakness.

Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society….To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil.— Gore Vidal, 1961

Only rarely in U.S. history do writers transform us to become a more caring or less caring nation. In the 1850s, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was a strong force in making the United States a more humane nation, one that would abolish slavery of African Americans. A century later, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Rand’s impact has been widespread and deep. At the iceberg’s visible tip is the influence she’s had over major political figures who have shaped American society. In the 1950s, Ayn Rand read aloud drafts of what was later to become Atlas Shrugged to her “Collective,” Rand’s ironic nickname for her inner circle of young individualists, which included Alan Greenspan, who would serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1987 to 2006.

In 1966, Ronald Reagan wrote in a personal letter, “Am an admirer of Ayn Rand.” Today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) credits Rand for inspiring him to go into politics, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) calls Atlas Shrugged his “foundation book.” Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) says Ayn Rand had a major influence on him, and his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is an even bigger fan. A short list of other Rand fans includes Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Christopher Cox, chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission in George W. Bush’s second administration; and former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford.

But Rand’s impact on U.S. society and culture goes even deeper.

The Seduction of Nathan Blumenthal

Ayn Rand’s books such as The Virtue of Selfishness and her philosophy that celebrates self-interest and disdains altruism may well be, as Vidal assessed, “nearly perfect in its immorality.” But is Vidal right about evil? Charles Manson, who himself did not kill anyone, is the personification of evil for many of us because of his psychological success at exploiting the vulnerabilities of young people and seducing them to murder. What should we call Ayn Rand’s psychological ability to exploit the vulnerabilities of millions of young people so as to influence them not to care about anyone besides themselves?

While Greenspan (tagged “A.G.” by Rand) was the most famous name that would emerge from Rand’s Collective, the second most well-known name to emerge from the Collective was Nathaniel Branden, psychotherapist, author and “self-esteem” advocate. Before he was Nathaniel Branden, he was Nathan Blumenthal, a 14-year-old who read Rand’s The Fountainhead again and again. He later would say, “I felt hypnotized.” He describes how Rand gave him a sense that he could be powerful, that he could be a hero. He wrote one letter to his idol Rand, then a second. To his amazement, she telephoned him, and at age 20, Nathan received an invitation to Ayn Rand’s home. Shortly after, Nathan Blumenthal announced to the world that he was incorporating Rand in his new name: Nathaniel Branden. And in 1955, with Rand approaching her 50th birthday and Branden his 25th, and both in dissatisfying marriages, Ayn bedded Nathaniel.

What followed sounds straight out of Hollywood, but Rand was straight out of Hollywood, having worked for Cecil B. DeMille. Rand convened a meeting with Nathaniel, his wife Barbara (also a Collective member), and Rand’s own husband Frank. To Branden’s astonishment, Rand convinced both spouses that a time-structured affair—she and Branden were to have one afternoon and one evening a week together—was “reasonable.” Within the Collective, Rand is purported to have never lost an argument. On his trysts at Rand’s New York City apartment, Branden would sometimes shake hands with Frank before he exited. Later, all discovered that Rand’s sweet but passive husband would leave for a bar, where he began his self-destructive affair with alcohol.

By 1964, the 34-year-old Nathaniel Branden had grown tired of the now 59-year-old Ayn Rand. Still sexually dissatisfied in his marriage to Barbara and afraid to end his affair with Rand, Branden began sleeping with a married 24-year-old model, Patrecia Scott. Rand, now “the woman scorned,” called Branden to appear before the Collective, whose nickname had by now lost its irony for both Barbara and Branden. Rand’s justice was swift. She humiliated Branden and then put a curse on him: “If you have one ounce of morality left in you, an ounce of psychological health—you’ll be impotent for the next 20 years! And if you achieve potency sooner, you’ll know it’s a sign of still worse moral degradation!”

Rand completed the evening with two welt-producing slaps across Branden’s face. Finally, in a move that Stalin and Hitler would have admired, Rand also expelled poor Barbara from the Collective, declaring her treasonous because Barbara, preoccupied by her own extramarital affair, had neglected to fill Rand in soon enough on Branden’s extra-extra-marital betrayal. (If anyone doubts Alan Greenspan’s political savvy, keep in mind that he somehow stayed in Rand’s good graces even though he, fixed up by Branden with Patrecia’s twin sister, had double-dated with the outlaws.)

After being banished by Rand, Nathaniel Branden was worried that he might be assassinated by other members of the Collective, so he moved from New York to Los Angeles, where Rand fans were less fanatical. Branden established a lucrative psychotherapy practice and authored approximately 20 books, 10 of them with either “Self” or “Self-Esteem” in the title. Rand and Branden never reconciled, but he remained an admirer of her philosophy of self-interest until his recent death in December 2014.

Ayn Rand’s personal life was consistent with her philosophy of not giving a shit about anybody but herself. Rand was an ardent two-pack-a-day smoker, and when questioned about the dangers of smoking, she loved to light up with a defiant flourish and then scold her young questioners on the “unscientific and irrational nature of the statistical evidence.” After an x-ray showed that she had lung cancer, Rand quit smoking and had surgery for her cancer. Collective members explained to her that many people still smoked because they respected her and her assessment of the evidence; and that since she no longer smoked, she ought to tell them. They told her that she needn’t mention her lung cancer, that she could simply say she had reconsidered the evidence. Rand refused.

How Rand’s Philosophy Seduced Young Minds

When I was a kid, my reading included comic books and Rand’s The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. There wasn’t much difference between the comic books and Rand’s novels in terms of the simplicity of the heroes. What was different was that unlike Superman or Batman, Rand made selfishness heroic, and she made caring about others weakness.

Rand said, “Capitalism and altruism are incompatible….The choice is clear-cut: either a new morality of rational self-interest, with its consequences of freedom, justice, progress and man’s happiness on earth—or the primordial morality of altruism, with its consequences of slavery, brute force, stagnant terror and sacrificial furnaces.” For many young people, hearing that it is “moral” to care only about oneself can be intoxicating, and some get addicted to this idea for life.

I have known several people, professionally and socially, whose lives have been changed by those close to them who became infatuated with Ayn Rand. A common theme is something like this: “My ex-husband wasn’t a bad guy until he started reading Ayn Rand. Then he became a completely selfish jerk who destroyed our family, and our children no longer even talk to him.”

To wow her young admirers, Rand would often tell a story of how a smart-aleck book salesman had once challenged her to explain her philosophy while standing on one leg. She replied: “Metaphysics—objective reality. Epistemology—reason. Ethics—self-interest. Politics—capitalism.” How did that philosophy capture young minds?

Metaphysics—objective reality. Rand offered a narcotic for confused young people: complete certainty and a relief from their anxiety. Rand believed that an “objective reality” existed, and she knew exactly what that objective reality was. It included skyscrapers, industries, railroads, and ideas—at least her ideas. Rand’s objective reality did not include anxiety or sadness. Nor did it include much humor, at least the kind where one pokes fun at oneself. Rand assured her Collective that objective reality did not include Beethoven’s, Rembrandt’s, and Shakespeare’s realities—they were too gloomy and too tragic, basically buzzkillers. Rand preferred Mickey Spillane and, towards the end of her life, “Charlie’s Angels.”

Epistemology—reason. Rand’s kind of reason was a “cool-tool” to control the universe. Rand demonized Plato, and her youthful Collective members were taught to despise him. If Rand really believed that the Socratic Method described by Plato of discovering accurate definitions and clear thinking did not qualify as “reason,” why then did she regularly attempt it with her Collective? Also oddly, while Rand mocked dark moods and despair, her “reasoning” directed that Collective members should admire Dostoyevsky, whose novels are filled with dark moods and despair. A demagogue, in addition to hypnotic glibness, must also be intellectually inconsistent, sometimes boldly so. This eliminates challenges to authority by weeding out clear-thinking young people from the flock.

Ethics—self-interest. For Rand, all altruists were manipulators. What could be more seductive to kids who discerned the motives of martyr parents, Christian missionaries and U.S. foreign aiders? Her champions, Nathaniel Branden still among them, feel that Rand’s view of “self-interest” has been horribly misrepresented. For them, self-interest is her hero architect Howard Roark turning down a commission because he couldn’t do it exactly his way. Some of Rand’s novel heroes did have integrity, however, for Rand there is no struggle to discover the distinction between true integrity and childish vanity. Rand’s integrity was her vanity, and it consisted of getting as much money and control as possible, copulating with whomever she wanted regardless of who would get hurt, and her always being right. To equate one’s selfishness, vanity, and egotism with one’s integrity liberates young people from the struggle to distinguish integrity from selfishness, vanity, and egotism.

Politics—capitalism. While Rand often disparaged Soviet totalitarian collectivism, she had little to say about corporate totalitarian collectivism, as she conveniently neglected the reality that giant U.S. corporations, like the Soviet Union, do not exactly celebrate individualism, freedom, or courage. Rand was clever and hypocritical enough to know that you don’t get rich in the United States talking about compliance and conformity within corporate America. Rather, Rand gave lectures titled: “America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business.” So, young careerist corporatists could embrace Rand’s self-styled “radical capitalism” and feel radical — radical without risk.

Rand’s Legacy

In recent years, we have entered a phase where it is apparently okay for major political figures to publicly embrace Rand despite her contempt for Christianity. In contrast, during Ayn Rand’s life, her philosophy that celebrated self-interest was a private pleasure for the 1 percent but she was a public embarrassment for them. They used her books to congratulate themselves on the morality of their selfishness, but they publicly steered clear of Rand because of her views on religion and God. Rand, for example, had stated on national television, “I am against God. I don’t approve of religion. It is a sign of a psychological weakness. I regard it as an evil.”

Actually, again inconsistent, Rand did have a God. It was herself. She said:

I am done with the monster of “we,” the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame. And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: “I.”

While Harriet Beecher Stowe shamed Americans about the United States’ dehumanization of African Americans and slavery, Ayn Rand removed Americans’ guilt for being selfish and uncaring about anyone except themselves. Not only did Rand make it “moral” for the wealthy not to pay their fair share of taxes, she “liberated” millions of other Americans from caring about the suffering of others, even the suffering of their own children.

The good news is that I’ve seen ex-Rand fans grasp the damage that Rand’s philosophy has done to their lives and to then exorcize it from their psyche. Can the United States as a nation do the same thing?

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Ooh, I bet you’re wonderin’ how I knew.’ The president, his health care catastrophe, Mrs. Merkel, the honor of la belle France. ‘A man ain’t supposed to cry/ But these tears I can’t hold inside.

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
Author’s program note. Friends and neighbors, are you perplexed, confused,baffled, and irked by the avalanche of bad news emanating from the capital of these United States? Well, join the club. We all need help sorting out this plethora of information that ranges from the usual garden variety nonsense to whole new ways to upset us and rend the body politic.In all seriousness we need a friend like “That Was the Week That Was”,a satirical television comedy program-me on BBC Television in 1962 and 1963.
It was devised, produced and directed by Ned Sherrin and presented by (Sir) David Frost, whose usual impeccable timing for delicious scandal,gossip and tittle-tattle deserted him this time.Sadly, he died just the other day (August 31), thereby missing these imperial pratfalls and hi-jinx which he loved so well and which no one knew better how to present for maximum impact than he did. How he would have savored the bumper crop of idiocies of just the last few days and the melt-down of the Right Honorable Barrack, who has descended from the heady heights of”We Have Overcome” to taking cue and counsel from Marvin Gaye’s grapevinewhere “a man ain’t supposed to cry”.TWTWTW (whose American counterpart ran on NBC from 1964 to 1965 and also featured Frost) had sharp-eyed, tone perfect fun with the best and the brightest,people we are supposed to venerate and admire but whose constant goofs and cosmic errors are just too good to pass by, no more so than in the last week, where the mistakes were hilarious, astonishing, truly awesome, slap your knee and LOL;that is until you stopped and considered who would have to pick up the pieces and carry on…. that would be you and me, the guys from the morning after the hysterical night before. With such an embarrass de richesse, where to start… there is so muchto choose from, relish, and enjoy.Scapegoats wanted.
Please apply to B. Obama, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for details.Unless you’ve been living in a cave (and maybe even then) you know that ourerst while president has nailed his tattered colors to the mast that is universal health care. It was supposed to cover millions hitherto without insurance, with benefits (if you pay close attention) ranging from astonishing to miraculous,not least being the remedy needed to resuscitate and resurrect the careers of lame duck presidents, one in particular. Problem is, even if you want this coverage(and millions do), you can’t get it at any price because the computer program that’s supposed to handle the matter is screwed up to the max. See for yourself at”Computers are so literal.
“This is my mother’s take on computers and pretty well summarizes the Lant family’s approach to the matter. You tell these often infuriating machines what to do…and they do just that… and nothing more. Apparently Barrack’s mother didn’t tell him this and so with his complete disinterest in the annoying and boring details of everything, including his marquee program, he now finds himself in a mess that absolutely 100% of fifth graders assigned to solve the matter could handle withelegance, speed and total accuracy, without sweat or muddle. Big problems right from the start. Richard Nixon, of all people, told newly elected president Bill Clinton not to tryto reform America’s health care system (one seventh of the GNP) all at one go;instead to phase it in. Clinton, of course, being Clinton didn’t listen and did exactly what the more experienced Nixon advised against. The result was a Republican landslide in the next congressional elections and plenty of egg on his excellency’s fleshy jowls, not an edifying sight.Obama learned absolutely nothing from this disaster, more reminiscent of the suicidal charge of the Light Brigade (1854),”C’est magnifique mais c’est pas laguerre” than practical (read do-able, win-able) politics. Thus, instead of creating a model program in a medium sized state (think West Virginia, Indiana or Oregon) hewent for the whole hog, a huge mistake that is plaguing him right now.Except for arrogance and bragging rights, there was never a need to do all theuninsured in every state all at once. But there was (and still is) the need to createa system that’s simple and easy to use, which is most assuredly not what we’vegot now, a Rube Goldberg machine that promises everything and delivers nothing but chaos, confusion and embarrassment. For make no mistake about it, thepresident and his disgraceful computer system has show cased America all right;as a nation of bumblers, inept, unprepared, a brigade of “can don’t” nerds and programming “skills” no better than a joke. And this, mind, in the nation’s strongsuit, state-of-the-art technology. No wonder Obama’s poll numbers are now infree fall. Hail to the Chief.
What should he have done instead? Well, for openers, like any good business person he should have tried (and regularly, too) to order his own product, thereby helping to test and perfect the system on which he had staked so much.Of course, we now know he didn’t do that or anything like it. And so he got onopening day October 1 not kudos but confusion, outrage and fully justified attacks on his competence which have only gotten worse as the problem has exacerbated. It was a bad day for ObamaCare and the people who so need it; another black eyefor the Great Republic.What’s more, when he was told that his system wasn’t ready for an October 1 opening, he should have been sensible and postponed until he could get the desired results, KISS. Sure, there would have been gibes but they would have been as nothing when compared to what’s being said right now about him, his presidency, and his health care “system”, and not just by Tea Party nutters either.It ain’t pretty… and it is accurate.
As if this weren’t enough…As if his woes were not abundant enough October 23 the German government announced that it had received confidential information that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone was under surveillance by US intelligence services and thatshe had phoned President Obama to deliver the strongest possible disapproval.She also cited the great and long-lasting friendship between our nations, makingit clear friends don’t spy on friends. Barrack might give lip service to this pointof view, but he’s an information freak and cannot be trusted.Thus as expected he soothingly said no surveillance had been authorized or occurred but Mrs. Merkel, who knows him well was apparently neither persuaded nor placated,an indignant wet hen closely approximating her mood and demeanor. This was not surprising given the fact that her brush with the president’s global party-line closelyfollowed another jarring story in the Le Monde newspaper. It reported that US intelligence had collected data on 70 million communications by ordinary French people in a 30-day period late last year and into January. I suspect our spooks wanted to know what every Frenchie gave and got for Christmas. French PresidentFrancois Hollande expressed his “extreme reprobation” and marched down theChamp Elysees waving the Tricolour and listening to a recorded version of Marvin Gaye’s greatest hit, “I heard it through the grapevine” (1968) on his cellphone,and this telling line, “You could have told me yourself.” Indeed. And that was the week that was. TTFN.
About the Author Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc. at, providing a wide range of online services forsmall and-home based businesses.To see Dr. Lant’s blog go to http://www.jeffreylantarticles.comDr. Lant is happy to give all readers 50,000 free guaranteedvisitors for attending his live webcast today. Visit Worldprofitfor details. Your response to this article is requ

Son of a gun. The murderous bullets of Sparks. Monday, October 21, 2013.The ineradicable shame of a great nation, knowing what must be done, unableto do it. And Mozart. who turns our tears and rage into the majesty of Redemption

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
Author’s program note.
This is the story I didn’t want to write about. Didn’t want tohear
about… didn’t want to think about… didn’t want to deal with in any
way… but all to no avail. This is a story that demands the telling…
insists upon our honest rendering… and calls upon us for anger!
Outrage! Enmity! Fury! Impatience! Indignation! Ire! Resentment! Gall!
And above all for action, swift, thorough,complete, grossly overdue.It is
a tale that demands to be told with the unmitigated clarity of Mozartand
the masterpiece that carried him from the light of the life he loved unto
theunimaginable darkness of darkest death which all approach with awe,
resignation,and hope.For this universal situation which touches us all,
we need the genius of Mozart who took this great fear called death, the
great fact of life, and gave us, alwayswith God’s love, absolution; the
thing we all desire but only God may give…Thus for this article of
sharp, sickening pain and terrible loss, the more terrible because
unnecessary I give you the necessary antidote, the Requiem Mass in D
minor (K. 626), written in Vienna by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1791
butunfinished at his death in December of that year. Find it in any
search engine. Turn up the volume and be glad this work of genius,
empathy and compassioneases the universal way into the eternity into
which we all progress and forever abide.
Amen!The city of promise.The people of Sparks, Nevada, numbering 90,264
in the 2010 U.S. Census Bureaucount are the very essence of America. They
believe in God… the Great Republic…family… and their right and
responsibility to seize the imperfect present and create the always
better future. They are proud of the good life they have fashioned for
themselves since the city’s founding in 1905, transforming the previously
searing and inhospitable land called “snow clad” (“nevada”) by the
Spanish hidalgos whowere the first Europeans to tread its immensity.
Their civic motto is “It’s Happening Here!”… and so it is … for good
and now with bitterness and rue for ill.For the sad fact is an
overwhelming majority of these people of the sierras adheres,and
adamantly too, to their right to keep and bear arms and to use these
arms, therebypaying the terrible price, now regarded as the “cost of
doing business”.
In such circumstances what does it matter if a few children and their
teachers are gunned down, dying in their own blood, in their once amiable
classrooms? Yes, it’s just thecost of doing business after all; a mere
bagatelle.The facts.Before the opening bell on Monday, October 21, a
student at a Sparks, Nevada middleschool opened fire with a semi-
automatic handgun, wounding two 12-year-old boys and killing a math
teacher who was trying to protect children from their dangerous
anddetermined classmate.The still unidentified shooter then killed
himself with the gun after a rampage in frontof 20 to 30 students who had
just returned to school from a weeklong fall break. As news of the
shooting got out 150 to 200 police officers responded, including some
from as far away as 60 miles. The two wounded students were taken to
hospitalfor treatment and are now listed in stable condition. One was
shot in the shoulder,and the other was hit in the abdomen. Students from
the middle school and neighboring elementary school were evacuated to the
nearby high school, and classes were cancelled.The middle school will
remain closed for the week so that the scene of grim carnagemay be
scrubbed clean and be pristine again… as if that were even possible…
or desirable. For we do not need to forget. Instead we need to remember,
that is the thing of utmost necessity, for only memory can help us solve
this problem, now seen by many as inevitable and unsolvable, no longer a
conundrum to be unraveled but an immutable factof life in our murderous
age where there is nothing odd or even noteworthy about a 12-year-old
blowing his former friends and beloved teacher to Kingdom Come. But of
coursethis is not merely odd but a chilling abomination and profound
moral outrage.To accept evil as inevitable when it can be eradicated is
evil itself, not a fact of life, but a fact of death, mayhem, and our
descent from grace. Michael Landsberry not only knewthis, not only lived
by this but died by this. Thus he woke up Monday a math teacher…
butended both day and life an American hero, the victim not just of the
child who pulled the trigger but the larger society which enabled him to
do so, failing to act to prevent such predictable and periodic
slaughter.”Mr. Landsberry”.Just 45, a man in his prime, Michael
Landsberry was a contented man, a manrespected by his peers and grateful
community for his actions in war and peace;loved by an affectionate
spouse and even by his two step-children, a success not given to every
step parent; admired and looked up to by his eighth grade mathematics
students and by the young people he coached in soccer and basketball with
strict guidelines and an unyielding belief that while winning the game
was important, playingit with enthusiasm, integrity, heart, and honor was
the real objective. This is the trueSemper Fi and Michael Landsberry,
once a Marine, always a Marine, was its unwaveringexample and proud
ideal.Michael Landsberry, the man who survived war, only to be cut down
in the peace that is no peace.This modest and unassuming man was a
dedicated and caring leader, his gruff demeanor fooling absolutely no
one. He did his bit… more than his bit, including twotours in
Afghanistan. Thus when the pint-sized angel of death entered Landsberry’s
classroom intent on inflicting maximum pain with a gun he had so easily
taken from hisparents’ house, the good teacher did what he taught others
to do… doing the right thing, the valorous thing, the most perilous and
sublime thing; interposing his own body between gunman and his adolescent
targets. In this way did Michael Lansberry die in the most righteous
fashion of all. Thus washis bald head, which students loved to touch for
luck before a big game, dappledwith the blood of a hero. Thus did the man
who posted on his drole website his “one classroom rule and it is very
simple: ‘Thou Shall Not Annoy Mr. L’ ” expire, the most honorable of men,
the noblest of deaths and the most unnecessary for we all know what needs
to be done, don’t we, though we seem, from the very White House itself
unable to change courses, to move a single inch towards necessary
solution…Thus more children, achingly young, must die tragically…
more families must sufferand grieve their loss through the long days and
longer nights… innocence no shield… the most worthy of professions
and the most important of work affording no protection what so ever. So
much pain is sure to come, the unarguable result of accepting “businessas
usual”, convinced by nay sayers that what is is what must be, despite the
little we havedone to solve a problem which was not so very long ago
unthinkable, a challenge for the Great Republic to be sure, but surely
not too great for our collective mind and capability.Or have we indeed
sunk so low that we not only tolerate such a matter but accept it as
given, understandable, unfortunate to be sure, certain, tolerable,
tolerated, an occasion for a president… a governor… a mayor to send a
formulaic message and prattle futile generalities about “an isolated
incident”, then disengage from the matter as soon as possible, while
everyday people leave teddy bears and home made signs about love and loss
at the death scene, nothing accomplished, absolutely nothing; no progress
made, or even a beneficial discussion about what must be done, at once,
with commitments, not platitudes. Thus are we condemned to repeat this
maddening process over and over again, less consideration given to this
outrage than to the one before; less consideration given tothe next
outrage than to this one, whilst people, good people, die, along with our
high ideals once sacred guidelines for our purposeful endeavors, now
flagrant ironies mocking who we were, who we are, and the widening chasm
between these glaring, irreconcilable realities.”I fear I am writing a
requiem for myself.” Mozart, 1791.
In such an unsatisfactory, worrisome situation we need hope, we need to
believethat things can be better, that we can make them better. We need
Mozart who on the very threshold of death wrote a stirring tribute to the
glory of life and the possibilities which exist to its very last moment
before eternal repose. “I fear I am writing a requiem for myself,” he
wrote as he worked day and night on his last great labor… and so he
was… for himself, for you, for me, and for the victims of Sparks,
especially a hero named Michael Landsberry whose work at its unexpected
conclusion was as tragically incomplete as Mozart’s requiem… left for
us, the living, to finish, a matter of the utmost necessity for us and
what we owe our honored dead whose ranks are sure and unnecessarily to
grow apace if we fail to act as we have failed to act for so long.
About the Author Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit,
Inc. at, providing a wide range of online
services for small and-home based businesses.To see Dr. Lant’s blog go to Dr. Lant is happy to give all readers
50,000 free guaranteedvisitors for attending his live webcast today.
Visit Worldprofitfor details. Your response to this article is requested.
What do you think?


by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

I was out early today. Even before dawn’s first light, I was up and about and soon on my mission… to find the first bunches of lilac, and drink in their unmistakable scent with the pristine dew.

What passersby (not too numerous so early) must have thought to see the flowers held against my face, though gently so as not to crush them, I cannot say. I did not care. The lilacs that I love to excess have returned to Cambridge… and with them every memory of this most evocative of flowers and their flagrant, haunting fragrance.

Beloved of Russian empresses…

One day the great Empress Catherine of all the Russias (1762-1796) went walking in her garden of Tsarskoe Selo and found a branch of lilacs, so perfect she was sure it would be picked to amplify the bouquet of some lovelorn lad to his much desired lady… so she stationed a soldier next to this lovely branch. In 1917, a soldier was still stationed where the plant no longer flowered or even existed. But then Tsar Nicholas II wasn’t surprised… for his wife Alexandra, called “Sunny”, loved lilacs to distraction, too… and created a room in the most palatial of palaces where everything was in a shade of lilac. It became, in due course, the most famous room of the empire…

My grandmother Victoria had this same tendresse for her much loved and coddled lilacs. She craved their scent and their colors, too, in every shade of purple… heliotrope, mauve, violet, lavender, puce, and all the other variations. Even my grandmother’s perfume, Muguet de Bois by Coty (launched 1941) featured lilac… and lily-of-the valley. Proust-like, that scent brings her back… as does my mother’s Chanel. Lilac is like that. It will not be denied and can never be resisted.

And now the lilacs are in rampant bloom along Tory Row on Brattle Street, breathtaking, sensual, glorious. The Loyalists would have remembered them for all the rest of their long lives; the merest hint of their scent would trigger the painful memories that come with unending exile.

A few facts about lilacs.

You may be surprised to learn (I was) that syringa (lilac) is a genus of about 20 to 25 species of flowering woody plants in the olive family (Oleaceae) native to woodland and scrub from southeastern Europe to eastern Asia.

They are deciduous shrubs or small trees, ranging in size from 2 to 10 meters (6 feet 7 inches to 32 feet 10 inches) tall, with stems up to 20 to 30 centimeters (7.9 to 12 inches) in diameter.

The leaves are opposite (occasionally in whorls of three) in arrangement, and their shape is simple and heart-shaped.

The flowers are produced in spring and are bisexual, with fertile stamens and stigma in each flower. The usual flower color is a shade of purple (generally a light purple or lilac), but white, pale yellow and pink, even a dark burgundy color are known. Flowering varies between mid spring to early summer, depending on the species.

The fruit is a dry, brown capsule, splitting in two at maturity to release the two winged seeds that have within them everything that produces the lustrous magnanimity of the lilac and commands your eye and reverence.

The poets irresistible attraction to and understanding of lilacs.

Poets, including many notable poets, saw lilacs and wished, in words, to produce the lyric quality of their scent. The scent, the unforgettable scent, swept them away. It was exuberant, excessive, a warning to the dangers of immersion in a thing so powerful, so rich, so cloying; a thing that draws you away from the little duties and miseries of life and whispers of pleasures you want beyond reason. Too much of this unalloyed richness gives way to madness… and exultation.

Amy Lowell (1874-1925) knew the potency of lilacs. She wrote

“Your great puffs of flowers
Are everywhere in this my New England…
Lilacs in dooryards
Holding quiet conversations with an early moon;
Lilacs watching a deserted house
Settling sideways into the grass of an old road;
Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom….”

And then….

“You are everywhere.
You were everywhere.”

Lilacs know their power and seduce you with it, every wind wafting the scent into your brain and memory. They offer you the same terms that a beautiful woman offers the man distracted by her — none at all, just surrender. Lilacs are the sorceress of blooms, enchanting, elusive, sharing their magic for an instant… leaving you longing for what you fear you will never have again.

The flower of elegy, mourning, decay, death.

Lilacs are the flower of remembrance. After the fall of Tsar Nicholas II and the entire structure of tsardom, the ex-emperor and his wife Alexandra found themselves prisoners of the new regime, forbidden even to walk in the magnificent park at Tsarskoe Selo. Alexandra looked out upon an ocean of lilac, once hers, now as distant as the moon. Her haunted look, beyond mere dismay, touched the heart of a simple soldier. He gave her a sprig. His officer saw this as “fraternizing with the enemy” and had him shot.

Amy Lowell, too, saw lilac as an accoutrement of death.

“The dead fed you
Amid the slant stones of graveyards.
Pale ghosts who planted you
Came in the nighttime
and let their thin hair blow through your clustered stems.”

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) also knew the immemorial association between lilacs and death, and he gave us the simple words that bespoke the greatest tragedy:

“When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.”

He picked a sprig of lilac and thought of the passing into eternity of Abraham Lincoln, “Night and day journeys a coffin.” It is unbearably painful for him, only the simple words – and the lilac — with its promise to return — giving solace, for that is within the power of the lilac, too, which Whitman knew and relied on:

“Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes,
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
For you and the coffins all of you O death.”

But this cannot be the last word on lilacs, not this.

Think instead of Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play “Green Grow the Lilacs”, the basis for the libretto of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma,” a musical about real people and their real concerns. They brought lilac seeds with them to beautiful their often difficult lives because they couldn’t bear the thought of life without its beauty, comfort and serenity. And I cannot either.


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Do you know how to produce content that gets people worldwide to respond — FAST? Read this and you will! The Master reveals his secrets!

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by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
Author’s program note. I’m going to do something quite different in this article; something unique, unprecedented, unheard of until now. I’m going to share — for the first time ever — my trade secrets about how I produce the best and most responsive content anywhere; the content that gets people like you to stop in your tracks, whatever you’re doing, no matter how important, read what you’ve written… and respond to it.
Once you learn how to do it, you’ll use this invaluable skill over and over again… becoming more and more proficient each time, until you become a master too, a brand name, a recognized authority, someone people want to know about, pay attention to; quite simply the consummate master of your craft, constant deference, increasing rewards, recognition and admiration your part, and rightly so. Of course, we’ll need a little magic to make this happen; such magic is useful at any time. Now repeat after me…
” Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo/ Put ‘em together and what have you got/ bibbidi-bobbidi-boo”.
These are of course the words of my colleague Fairy Godmother, from the 1950 Disney production. She was, you’ll recall, the kind-hearted, sympathetic darling who, in record time, organized everything necessary to rush a radiant Cinderella to the ball… and her prince.
You’ll find the song in any search engine. Play it to yourself two or three times… sing it out loud. But don’t share it with anyone just yet. After all, they may be a certified scoffer, gruff, dismissive, unhelpful… and that will never do. Bibbidi-bobbidi- boo. “It’ll do magic believe it or not.” Believe… it’s the first and crucial step to achieve.
Pick your subject.
Creating content that gets maximum response starts with your subject, what you’re writing about. Here are some suggestions: It should be timely, of interest and importance to the kinds of people you want to respond (future customers!), and most of all be a subject you either know something about already or one you are prepared to research, to add depth, resonance and layers of meaning.
The last article I wrote just yesterday (one of over 1000 I’ve penned in the last three years or so; all available at was on… marigolds. Does this seem to you to be an unlikely topic to knock out of the park? Dubious? Then think again! There are millions of people worldwide who grow marigolds, use health and beauty products derived from marigolds, and honor them in their obsequies and solemn rites of passage into eternity, particularly along the great river Ganges,1569 miles long, its muddy waters flecked by the bright brilliance of golden marigolds, beloved of the Virgin, the gift of countless pilgrims along the way.
Outline your content.
To write superior content, content that motivates response, you must create a superior outline. Here’s how to do that. Brainstorm just what you want in your content; then do a preliminary outline. Don’t worry too much now about whether the points you want to make are in the right order. Worry instead that you have written them down. Never, ever trust to imperfect memory. . Once you have all the points you wish to include, arrange them in the right order, the order that builds your case. To see what I mean, go to and peruse several articles there. As you do, think on this. This teeming site, content capital of the world, now gets over 1,000,000 hits a month and should be a “must” destination for anyone who understands the importance of content and wishes to master its every nuance, profiting accordingly. That would be you, right? Bibbidi- Bobbidi-Boo.
The joy and necessity of careful research.
I am a trained researcher with a Ph.D. from Harvard University. It took me seven meticulous and arduous years to achieve. I had to identify, travel to, work in and rely upon the arcane resources of dozens of private and public document depositories in several countries. My life was a demanding and insistent process composed of passports, tickets, incomprehensible pre-Euro currencies, strange accommodations with lumpy mattresses (and too often voracious bedbugs). As for food… I can even now remember, and luridly recite if you like… the various collywobbles to which I gave way en route to being elevated into the peerage of learning.
That was then; this is now.
These days my continuous researches are vast, detailed, up-to-date, best of all the work of minutes, with nary a plane to (wait for) and catch… or odoriferous train, the malfunctioning toilet making its noisome problem known to all and always over shadowed by one frightening question, “Have you seen my typewriter and my notes!” “I thought you had them when we changed trains.”
In our wired age research is easy, universal, distinguished by its celerity, thoroughness… and a researcher who now never looks like he slept in his clothes in the Iruna station, assaulted by fantastic mosquitoes and suspicious border guards, the jack booted minions of Generalissimo Franco, a man whose sole idea about intellectual endeavors of every kind (and the research on which they were based) was to crush, curb and curtail them.
The Internet has changed all that forever… and I, for one, am profoundly glad.
Now it’s time to write.
My mother, bless her soul, had a million pet sayings, each one a little gem of pithy insight. As for writing, she’d say, for she was a scribbler, too, “Having written is better.” What she meant, of course, was that the business of writing was often hard, frustrating, exasperating, not infrequently infuriating, and always something demanding full heart, soul and brain. In short, writing is never a piece of cake you can do half asleep and hung over from the night before.
Such writers, who take the demons of people like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jack Kerouak as their inspiration and models, talk a good game about writing… but are more notable for their volubility on the subject than their productive output. You need another point of view, more practical, utilitarian, productive not to mention profitable.
Write every day, every single day… without fail or “reason” why you didn’t.
People who understand the power and potency of content are people who do the necessary every single day to create it. That would be — me… and is why in the past three years I have, remember, written and published over 1,000 articles, available for you and the world to see and use at How did these articles get written? Easy.
Yes, I wrote on days when it was blistering hot. I wrote on days when my nimble fingers froze, sticking to my computer’s chilly keys. I wrote on days of national triumph… and on the many days of national confusion. In short, I wrote, no excuses, no special pleadings, no reasons why I couldn’t, shouldn’t and mustn’t.
In short, I wrote on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays… on all the days. Thus with near military efficiency as I wrote words, so I wrote the superior content that got better and better still, the more I wrote… silky, smooth, sleek, the champaign of money-making language.
Will you do as much? You certainly won’t with the poor habits you now evince in the high and important business of creating content that sells… for what you produce is directly related to the habits you have and yours are nothing to write home about.
“What me worry?”
Years ago “Mad Magazine” featured on its cover a lout named Alfred E. Newman. Everything about him was obnoxious, irritating, an affront to good parents everywhere and their goody goody rug rats. To these good people Alfred E. posed the question of the centuries, “What me worry?” It was impertinent, insolent, and wildly popular with other louts. (It also made the copy writer who coined this golden phrase a millionaire many times over.)
However YOU are not a lout… and you do worry and rightly so. Fortunately you have not only a useful friend in me but you have a direct line now to Fairy Godmother, who’s no mean shakes in the content department, just ask those mice transformed into the most magnificent of coach horses. She has magic for you and to spare. I think I see her pointing her magic wand at…… you… Oh, yes, she is. Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is the author of over a dozen business books, several ebooks about online marketing, and over one thousand online articles on a variety of topics. Republished with author’s permission by Howard Martell <a href=””></a>. Check out Niche Flipper ->


HOME The chic elegance and sophistication of marigolds, beloved of the Virgin,their eclat, their unrestrained colors, their militant aspirations, their bitter altercations, their

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Author’s program note. I noticed them right away, of course. I would. There they were, a startling and astonishing range of oranges, from burnt to bright, from brilliant to bombastic, each alluring.
There was nothing shy or hesitant about their presentation. They stood in pristine glory before the world with adamant certainty, sure that they would be noticed, scrutinized, and inevitably complimented, extolled and desired, found wanting in absolutely nothing.
These were the marigolds, lordly flowers indeed, perfection in any bed or border even when, as here on Waterhouse Street, they had too little space in which to arrange themselves to their strict, precise standards, impeccable, daunting for others, so seemingly effortless for them.
At last.
So, the Christian Science church’s caretaker had at last taken my advice and bought a box of these confident flowers… like so many aristocratic ladies in bespoke perfection posing for the world, sure in every manicured leaf that they were worth your sustained glance and admiration. That caretaker should have taken my advice earlier, for these extremely self-assured marigolds were certainly to the manner born. I stepped closer, bowing low to get a better look.
The flower bed was instantly on the qui vivre, for what I meant as nothing more than curiosity, well-bred courtesy, an act of exquisite politesse and gentility, was at once misinterpreted by the recipients as expected deference and complete adherence, a partisan… but to whom? About what?
For now there was pronounced agitation as what had first appeared to be uniform gave way to unmistakable faction, turmoil and agitation; what had just a moment ago been serene and calm was now anything but.
Petal pandemonium.
The bed writhed with purposeful activity, as every loyal flower marched to its assigned station, this moment anticipated, planned for, rehearsed, now executed. It was a scene of breathtaking awe… and terrible purpose. The brigades of Tagetes Patula massed for their high and dire business. Every heart beat fast… the marigolds were surging now, their colors all unfurled, each row in perfect cadence and array.
There were tears, of course, how could there not be as kith, kin, friends and neighbors would be uprooted, perishing along the way, desiccated, withered, radiant no longer, the more honored, precious withal; jolting evidence of what success entails … but above all there was pride, pulsating, uplifting, the flower of the flower of the Virgin.
And so the French marigolds, showy, thrilling, sublime, riveting every eye, marched forward, forward, forward… nothing more perfect and precise ever seen… nothing more perfect and precise ever desired, the notes of their eerie chant de guerre “Marigold” (released by Nirvana in 1993 and found in every search engine) floating in the crisp air of perfect autumn…
“He’s scared ’cause I warned/ He’s there in case I want it all/ He’s scared ’cause I won.”
Then the celebrated “Six color pictures all in a row/ Of a marigold”, pictures sung about but never shown to or seen by the unworthy and unregenerate.
Written in 1992 by American rock musician Dave Grohl, it was the only song released by Nirvana not to include any contribution from frontman Kurt Cobain (1967-1994). He had demons enough of his own already, and they were already savoring the fast-evolving catastrophe; “He’s there in case I wandered off”. He would need marigolds and the Virgin’s comforting touch… but not yet.
Quo vadis?
And so the ranks of awe-inspiring marigolds, this time of the French variety, impressed, dazzled, and caused every life of whatever kind to stop, watch, and be glad that such a host of puissant warriors was not on this day marching towards them… determined to achieve this mission, as they have achieved every such mission down the ages (or so they say, believe and propagate), no matter the foe, its size, or their numberless ranks.
The marigolds, you see, are not what you once thought and often said upon seeing them in the verdant park of some great chateau, “Oh, the little darlings!”; thereby insulting them and exposing your own expansive ignorance They were neither little nor darlings… thus making yours a mind and opinion they meant irrevocably to change this very day, in a shower of their flashy panache.
Thus they annexed terra firma, inch by inch, until the wide world awoke to their astonishing presence and what might happen by overlooking Nature’s “little darlings”‘ and misunderstanding them so.
And so the marigolds, tireless, determined, resolute, recognizing no obstacle as even remotely powerful or sufficient to delay their adamant purpose marched on and on, their chant de guerre known to all and everywhere… for the marigolds carried nirvana in their stylish kits, never a petal or a stem out of place, certain of who they were, where they were going, what they must do and the ineluctable victory and supreme achievement which must be theirs and for all to praise and forever remember.
“Welcome to Calendula.”
Then there it was… a giant billboard with this adamant declaration, “Welcome to Calendula, home of the REAL Marigold. Accept NO substitutions” and a picture of the Virgin holding a sprig of Calendula Arvensis, the field marigold; a flower that looked like a daisy, not at all like the brilliant, ostentatious French marigolds, their elegant uniforms a la mode designed on the Rue de la Paix.
These swaggering flowers were now arrayed in their thousands before the great fields where Calendula Officinalis held sway; the rich flower from which a staggering number of renowned herbal and cosmetic products named “calendula” (from the Latin, meaning “little calendar”) inevitably derive, each balm to a troubled world; a world which cannot get enough of this plant, its soothing properties, its gift for uplifting, refreshing and reviving.
This is what the world needs; this is what they give the world, all welcome, no one ever turned away, an unequalled place of empathy, of kindness, of unstinting care, of tranqulity and unconditional love… except for Tagetes Patula. Tagetes! Their unqualified Nemesis! Tagetes! Usurper of the very word marigold!
Tagetes! Insolent! Condescending! A by-word for arrogance! Hubris! Unceasing disdain! Their greatest and most tenacious foe… their own cousin, close related, their very similarity augmenting, fermenting their abiding contempt for each other.
“Hear this, O World. I am the REAL marigold, the one true marigold!”
Thus did two great and unreconcilable hosts stand before each other on the plains of destiny, malice on their minds, mayhem at the ready. “Attention!,” said the resplendent Tagetes officer, his golden epaulettes shining. “Eyes forward!”, shouted his Calendula counterpart. Then both together, “March! Forward march! Engage! Engage!”
So in their thousands and their tens of thousands did the magnificent marigolds move against each other, no parley, no compromise, no moderation possible, risking absolutely everything for just one word.
The morning after.
“Father, father. Look what I have found! I found them at the top of the hill, all uprooted, their stems cut, leaves covered with dirt. I didn’t steal them, I promise. They are so beautiful.”
The father knew where they had come from and why they were there. “I know you didn’t, son. We shall take these flowers with us to Ganga Ma, Mother Ganges for each must be cleansed in the perpetual waters beyond time, for even flowers, things of sacred life and destiny, must have their sins washed away and go pristine into the great forever.”
Thus as the sun rose, they chanted together “Ganga Mata Ki Jai!” –”Victory to Mother Ganges!” — whilst they threw the marigolds into the timeless waters and watched their unmatched splendor drift away in the muddy eddies, enriched by the ashes of the faithful and chips of their bones, their undimmed radiance accompanying the dead on their final journey, amrita, nectar of immortality. Dedication.
For Earth maven Patrice Porter, a woman of great heart and tenacious spirit. Here is your inspiration… build your burgeoning empire upon it, helping all. >From your friend, the author.
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is the author of over a dozen print books, several ebooks, and over one thousand online articles. Republished with author’s permission by Howard Martell <a href=””></a>. Check out Niche Flipper ->