About John Oliver Mason

I am a freelance writer, having worked for newspapers, magazines and blogs for over twenty-five years, covering neighborhood and working people making their communities and their lives better. I believe in the power of the written word to bring about change, and I put that into practice. I believe that when we become aware of the effect our small actions in the community have in improving lives, we can truly make a difference. I am also one of the leading poets in the Philadelphia area, and I also write fiction. I also act, performing on the public access channel PhillyCAM.

Ruminations, August 31, 2022

  1. Over the past week, I enjoyed time in a few of the parks available in Philadelphia: I attended a jazz concert, combined with a community services fair, at Stephen Girard Park, 21st and Shunk streets in South Philadelphia; a cookout with my ward committee, at FDR Park, 15th and Pattison Avenue (https://www.fdrparkphilly.org/); and another cookout with my friends at my beloved bar, Dirty Frank’s, at Lemon Hill, in Fairmount Park (https://myphillypark.org/explore/parks/lemon-hill-picnic-area/). In those times, I appreciated the benefit of greenspace in urban areas for people to relax and have fun in. we can’t allow developers, who only develop overpriced condos for rich people and chase out low-income and working people from the homes they dwelled in for decades, and who tear apart established neighborhoods with their own unique flavor.
  2. The Artemis space program, delayed by a fuel leak earlier this week, is set to try again early next week. The plan is to establish a permanent base on the Moon, then use it as a launch site for later missions to Mars—the stuff of old-time science fiction movies come to reality. In this first, unmanned practice run, a Space Launch System (SLS) will launch the Orion space craft to reach and orbit the Moon, and then return to earth safely. (https://www.france24.com/en/technology/20220828-nasa-s-artemis-program-set-to-take-humans-to-the-moon-and-beyond)

I personally have no problem with space exploration—when I was a kid, my parents woke me up so I can watch the Apollo 11 landing, and Neil Armstrong walk on the lunar surface. However, with all the technological skills employed in developing the space program, we can certainly utilize them to deal with problems here on THIS planet we inhabit—pollution, unemployment, drought and famine, rebuilding our infrastructure, upgrading our schools, you name it. Preserving our municipal green spaces, like I mentioned above, falls into that category; our OWN planet needs to be repaired and kept habitable to live in.

Light Beam, Blue Particle Background Space, Copy Space, Digital Animation, Blue space exploration stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

My Novel, “Soldier Of The Cross.”

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Just An Average Guy!

Like every other American in Pennsylvania, I got a hoot out of Mehmet Oz’s preposterous attempt to portray himself as just an average American dealing with high prices at the grocery store, as he runs as a (trump-endorsed) Republican for the US Senate; that is, when he goes shopping at “Wegner’s” (?) and goes shopping for his wife for a crudite.  (https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/ozs-viral-crudite-video-sums-up-campaign-fetterman-pennsylvania-rcna43992) So, like everyone else, I got on Google and found that “crudite” is a French term for an appetizer tray with vegetables and dip-what normal people call “a veggie tray.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crudit%C3%A9s) All that did was give John Fetterman, the Democratic candidate,  a way to raise over $500,000 for his campaign, and the rest of us a good laugh.

Oz even said that when you have millions of dollars (like he does), “The value of money decreases”, sounds pretty weird when you talk about having your clothes from Zenga, a super high-end clothing brand. (https://www.zegna.com/us-en/) On the web site, you’ll find sneakers for $890.00, jackets and coats for $2790.00, and t-shirts from $345.00 to $375.00.  (https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/john-fettermans-campaign-just-hit-230500724.html) 

It’s ridiculous that plutocratic people try to pretend to be plain folks dealing with the same issues working and low-income people face-rising prices, utilities, groceries, medical care, and neighborhood violence. Yes, they Do think we’re THAT stupid, and we must let them know we’re not falling for that nonsense.

By the way, I now endorse JOHN FETTERMAN for the US Senate from Pennsylvania.

My Novel, “Soldier Of The Cross.”

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The Mason Missile, August 23, 2022

Greetings, Americans!

On August 1, I turned 65 years—I won’t say old, because I don’t recognize the idea of “old;” “old” compared to what? I’ll say I’m 65 years alive, it means I have much more living ahead of me.

Also, the High Holy Days—Rosh ha-Shona and Yom Kippur—are upon us, and this is the time of reflecting on the past, what we’ve done right and wrong; recognizing where we’ve fallen short, and repenting from them; and new opportunities. If I have offended anyone over the past year, I ask your forgive ness; and whoever offended me, I forgive them.

At last! The Biden administration tried to pass some version of the Build Back Better Act, but it kept having to be whittled down to accommodate the corporate interests what still influence our politics, and it now takes form as the Inflation reduction Act. (https://www.npr.org/2022/08/16/1117709411/biden-signs-sweeping-climate-health-care-tax-bill-into-law) Alas! What kind of deal did Schumer have to make with Joe Manchin (West Virginia) and Kirsten Sinema (Arizona) to get it passed?

Sinema, supposedly a “Democrat,” has received close to $1 million from hedge fund managers, private equity executives, and venture capitalists, and so she opposed any tax increases on these firms, as we all hoped for, leaving, once again, the tax burden upon working men and women in America; Thanks to her efforts, these investors, who do nothing to build anything or deliver anything, but who reap all the rewards of other people’s labor, have gotten a $13 billion dollar tax break. This is a welfare program for people who are already super-wealthy but still feel they need more money. (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/sinema-received-nearly-1-million-from-wall-street-while-killing-tax-hike-on-investors) (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/kyrsten-sinema-delivers-gift-private-equity-democrats-big-agenda-bill-rcna42394) (https://www.ft.com/content/64305c91-c7aa-427b-adb9-7a32d74d3490) With “Democrats” like this, who needs Republicans?

This makes the necessity of increasing the majority in the Senate and the House more imperative; but it can’t be with corporate-friendly “centrists” who say, “Health care? Clean the environment? Sure, but we can’t offend any powerful interests.” The progressive forces need to step up and get into the party apparatus.

Another piece of important legislation that passed is the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, or PACT Act. This addresses medical care for former service members who were exposed to toxic chemicals during their service; one issue has been when service members were exposed to toxic fumes from the burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq. (https://www.militarytimes.com/news/burn-pits/2022/08/04/now-that-the-pact-act-passed-how-soon-will-veterans-see-their-benefits/) (https://www.npr.org/2022/08/02/1115325176/pact-act-veterans-burn-pits-toxins-passes-senate)

But this came after Senate Republicans voted AGAISNT the bill, with some lame excuse about cost, and voted to support it after public complaint about their behavior. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania alleged that the bill had some “gimmick” that “allows $400 B in spending unrelated to veterans care.”

Tommy Tuberville of North Carolina said the PACT Act was “well intentioned” but it “creates new promises while breaking existing ones”. (HUH?) (https://www.businessinsider.com/41-gop-senators-block-healthcare-bill-for-veterans-exposed-to-toxins-2022-7?inline-endstory-related-recommendations=) (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/08/03/pact-act-11-senate-republicans-opposed/10223007002/) It’s an old story; trot out our veterans for patriotic events, but to anything FOR them? “We can’t afford it!” People from the working and low-income classes are expendable for the dominant classes, in the battlefield and in the workplace.

“Democracy” is one thing the Republican Party and the factions in it—“libertarians” who want corporations to have the “liberty” to do whatever they want, to whomever they want to do it to; and “Christian Nationalists” (also known as WHITE Christian Nationalists) who want the government, and therefore the nation, to be run based on THEIR interpretation of Scripture, thereby excluding anyone THEY don’t deem to be “Christian”—and you can forget about religious and racial minorities having any role in such a regime. In Arizona, Republicans have upfront insisted that the United States of America is not at all a “democracy” but a “republic.” (https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/arizona-republicans-are-making-case-against-idea-democracy-itself-n1297965?cid=eml_mda_20220816&user_email=56443b86787902b10c4645fc42bff8ee9ec2614de6cc5f00300871db6871f4c6)

The decades-old dream of certain persons identifying as “conservatives” has been to exclude people who are not of the dominant social-economic classes from any say in running the government and in the nation. To them, consumers and workers have no business inquiring about how corporations manufacture their products, plan their advertising, employ their workers, and operate overseas; they and their political and media handmaidens treat these plutocrats like their a superior race of economic geniuses, who, if left to their own devices, would lead the nation to prosperity for all—somehow. (That was the premise of Ayn Rand’s rag of a “novel” Atlas Shrugged.)

The study by Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern professor Benjamin I. Page isn’t getting old; they said that “economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.” Gilens and Page summarize thus: “American do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society and seriously threatened.”  (https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746)

And now we see the results of oligarchic rule in this country: a nation where racism and anti-Semitism are blatant and in the mainstream political discourse by candidates and pundits (racism and democracy do NOT go together); corporate oligarchs funding candidates, media outlets, political movements and organizations (like the old Tea party “Astroturf” movement and the American Legislative Exchange Council) and “research foundations” to rewrite laws and science to their liking; the semi-conscious racism in hiring and bank loans (“redlining”); billionaires receiving tax breaks , supposedly to improve their factories and hire more workers, but spend the money on $500 million yachts and their own space programs (I’m talking about YOU, Jeff Bezos!); and corporations exporting their plants, and their jobs, to impoverished nations with corrupt and repressive governments, where workers make pocket change a week while American workers are urged to kill each other for whatever crumbs remain.

But, praise God, young people in particular, and the public in general, are standing up to this nonsense, and banding together to restore SOME semblance of our democracy. For me, one place to start is at the Labor Day Parade and festival in Philadelphia on September 5. I’ll be there with my union siblings to stand up for our rights, and have some fun along the way. (Why not?)

Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together! Slava Ukraini! America will be free! Bye!

My Novel, “Soldier Of The Cross.”

Hemperiffic LLC
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The Mason Moment, August 22, 2022

The Mason Moment is BACK! I’m just still working on the format and editing. I thank everyone for their support.

My Novel, “Soldier Of The Cross.”

Hemperiffic LLC
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The John Mason Talk-Walk, August 19, 2022

I speak about the Republican candidates for US Senate and Governor in Pennsylvania, and of the need to resist the rise of Christian Nationalism.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1937652/11166353

My Novel, “Soldier Of The Cross.”

Hemperiffic LLC
hemperifficllc.com

 

Banning Books, Banning Thinking

Recently, the Central Bucks School District-in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia-has passed a new policy that would allow the superintendent, or any of his/her “designees,” ban a book from the schools’ libraries that they would deem “inappropriate” or having “sexualized content.” (https://whyy.org/articles/local-authors-react-central-bucks-school-district-book-policies/) 

Bucks County has a rich history of being the home of great authors. And it would be a shame for such an area, or any area, to prohibit kids from reading books or other printed material, so they could expand their mental horizons and find out more about themselves. This is particularly true for LGBT kids, as they grow to realize things about themselves that they may have been taught was “dirty,” “sinful,” or “unnatural;” the term “sexualized content” is a vague term, giving school officials the excuse to ban any books about famous Gay and Trans people whom kids could look upon as role models, and give them hope for the future.

The very act of prohibiting books is a way to prohibit the spread of ideas and knowledge which would allow kids to learn outside the classroom and think for themselves; banning books is a step towards authoritarianism, to prohibit ideas and information that the regime finds dangerous. This is what a dictatorship wants, and what conservatives have been striving for-turning “education” into indoctrination, telling kids “This is what you’ll learn and that’s it, we won’t let you learn anything more!”

It’s time to make a stand! The banning of books to target LGBT kids is a warning that they’ll go after books dealing with race (with all the whines about Critical Race Theory, of which they know nothing), gender, class (like the struggles in the history of the Labor movement), social issues (like health care, unemployment, plutocracy) and real, scientifically-based, age-appropriate sex education (kids, as they grow to adulthood, WILL have sex, and they need to know the real story). If the school districts don’t have the guts to do it, we must step up.

It would certainly help, and be fun, if we also read banned books; some of them have been serious literary classics. The American Library Association has a great database of famous banned books, such as The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck; and The Color Purple by Alice Walker. (https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/classics) 

 

My Novel, “Soldier Of The Cross.”

Books Close up of books on desk in library. library books stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

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I’m in Facebook Jail

I put something on my Facebook page something about our former Commander in Chief-whom I call the tangerine tumor-and now I’m banned from posting things on Facebook. I don’t care, this one medium shouldn’t have so much power over our lives and our minds. It’s an important source of important source of information, but it must not be the only one. We need more outlets for attaining news.

The John Mason Talk-Walk, August 12, 2022

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1937652/11128379

I speak about the FBI raid at trump’s estate, and of republican hypocrisy when it comes to “law and order” and back the blue.”

My Novel, “Soldier Of The Cross.”

Hemperiffic LLC
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