ETHNIC...in a white bread world. My first memory of there being "others" in a cultural sense was in my relationship with Arabelle Brown. One night I drove her to church and sat outside in the car listening to the music from within. A few of our maids were Mexicans and I spent some time on a large ranch in Mexico when I was 4 and 5 years old. I spoke much better Spanish then than I have since. The ranch hands convinced me that the prevailing view of Mexicans as lazy incompetents is as peculiar as the notion that girls are dumb. In 1960 I had the opportunity to record the first visit by the Armenian church prelate to the Western Hemisphere. Vasken I, the Catolicos of the religion that is an older version of Christianity than Roman Catholicism, was singing mass at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. He was a tenor and one of his aides sang baritone and in that great hall it was an astounding musical experience for me and an unforgettable religious event for the hundreds of Armenian-Americans who filled the cathedral When I say "some of my best friends are Jews" I expect you to understand that I don't mean that in its usual sense as an apology for bigotry. I find Jews to be far more thoughtful and aware on the whole than the Goyim I grew up around. Since then I have experienced that captivation among Cockfighters, Gamblers, Performers - all the groups I have written about. One of the things they have in common is me. That is probably of no importance to them but the effect on me has been the stuff of my life. If I had never experienced a Roman Catholic mass or sung the National Anthem before a ball game I would be hollow. I like to think that the idea that there is a meta-experience here is what impassioned me to write all this down. We ask "what are we here for?", presuming some purpose to living; our multiple ethnicities have similarities that provide an answer. Even if our goal is to move the planet in such a way as to cause it to move the solar system and in turn the galaxy and the universe, it starts with recognizing the sameness we get from mutual laughters, animosities, and griefs. Although I never particularly identified with my WASP roots, I have moved from embarrassment, shame, and pity to respect for the culture. As Bill Shea was wont to say, "it's great for what it is." He was talking about forms of music that I really hated but I guess it applies to a lot of things. My belief in The Jazz Truth can coexist with others' "there's only two kinds of music - country and western (or rock and roll, or rhythm and blues, etc.)." How can we reconcile our love for life with the idea of "ethnic cleansing" or the Turk/Armenian, Nazi/Jew, Us/Them problem when it becomes murderous? Although I won't call it "The Final Solution," I hope that Aretha Franklin's R-E-S-P-E-C-T or perhaps UNESCO, or the Internet will bridge these troubled gulfs. If Crips, Bloods, Skinheads can dance to the same drummer from time to time we may yet be cool. Umpires are booed, ridiculed, and heavily dissed. In terms of the game, they also have life and death power over the other participants. They know how it feels to be an outsider but they can also "pass" during most of their lives in the "real world" because they go largely unrecognized when not working. The reverse of "passing" is the closet. When I was about 10 I began to follow the fortunes of a Texas League team, the San Antonio Missions, a farm team of the the major leagues' perennial cellar dwellers, the St. Louis Browns. Following their fortunes meant listening to radio broadcasts of the games. The announcer was a colorful gentleman using the name of Bolivar Dougag. His name was Sam Goldfarb and in that part of the country in that part of the century his real name would have made the announcer's job unobtainable. I got to know him and occasionally hung out in the broadcast booth at games and had dinner with him and his wife. I didn't know that Jews were supposed to be on my shit list. Umpires couldn't fraternize with team members so they often socialized with announcers and sports writers. My first acquaintance with an umpire was to caddy for Sam and umpire Coe one day and I got to hear grown men use all the curses and obscenities that were hidden from use around women. This sort of exposure to Jew, umpire, and foul language was formative in about the same sense I later learned about music and dope: the power of these forbidden fruits and the humanity of these people were being denied by most of society and that is everybody's loss. Jews, cockfighters, umpires, women: they all qualify and to behave otherwise robs us even more than them. Passing is sometimes done for the sake of safety but it is not always possible or convenient. Recently it has become a sign of cowardice, earning the contempt of fellow outcasts. "I'm Black and I'm Proud" says a song typical of this attitude. There is a movement in the gay community to force people out of the closet, even against their wishes; liberated women profess pity for those still confined barefoot to the kitchen; kids don't trust anyone over thirty and horsemen echo the carny anthem, "fuck everything but the circus." "Uncle Tom" has his counterparts in many of these cultures. Chicken fighters on the whole prefer to stay secretive about their passion but "grey panthers" are becoming politically militant although the effort to look ever young is the foundation of huge industries. People in wheel chairs chain their vehicles to cable cars and picket Jerry Lewis, who seems astonished that they think of his "help" as insulting. As "backlash" is used as an excuse for not making waves it also serves to stiffen resolve among people who feel oppressed. The remedies for making changes in "second-classism" are often political or legal. The backlashers resort to demagoguery, pretending that discrimination doesn't really exist; previous generations blamed "outside agitators" riling up "our nigrahs." What might be the best thing to learn from these put-downs is that we are all perpetrators as well as victims: Black Muslims who are doubly outcast vilify Jews; born again "Christians" organize to deny homosexuals relief from discrimination; women who were once children pose protectionism for youths who don't know what's best for themselves; Catholics try to impose their vision of morality on society; the list is endless. Blind peoples' solutions teach that our preconceptions of reality and importance contain flaws just as the presence of testicles can mislead us into converting differences into superiorities. The teachings of Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha, and Hensley have threads that indicate common ground for us all. Perhaps we are creatures in service to our selfish genes, but maybe those genes have an enlightened self interest that insists on "live and let live" as well as "do unto others..." The fastest growing segment of the world's population is the leisure class. TVs and cars are emblematic of people living off pump royalties. In the flower generation's heyday it was hard to take seriously the Mustang Maoists' preachings about the redistribution of wealth but a visit to the Goodwill store tells a lot about the disposability of fashion. To many young people, goods displayed on the racks of salvage shops are more "in" than those in the boutiques on Rodeo Drive. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and William Blake's "...Believe a Lie when you see with, not thro, the Eye" sum it up pretty well. We presume a reality independent of our senses - the tree falling in the unpopulated forest most likely makes about the same sound even if unheard by any ear.