Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

* A Gift to Women's Studies at Yale

            Click above for link.

Letters to the Editor
Yale Daily News

Dear Editor:

 Two donations I made to Yale Libraries  this summer should be of interest to those students and researchers at Yale involved with feminist studies. 

To Manuscripts and Archives I donated the letters and diaries of Mt. Carmel native  J. Walter Bassett, founder of The Sleeping Giant Association, an organization which saved the Mt. Carmel  mountain from developers, long before Quinnipiac University made its campus there.

The donation includes more than a hundred courtship letters written by Bassett’s future wife, Evangeline Cunningham, from her home in Wilbraham, Massachusetts between 1898 and 1902.  It is clear from these letters that she, not he, was in charge of the courtship. 

When he balked at setting a date for marriage until they had furnished a home he had rented in Mt. Carmel, she declared “We can either have fine furniture or we can have each other.”  

He got the point and set the date.  

A preview of these papers can be seen at  with a link to some of the letters themselves.

The second donation of interest to those studying strong-minded women, was made  to Beinecke Rare Book Library: the  letters, notes, and cards from Miss Isabel Wilder to me from 1975 – 1995, when she died at 95 years of age. 

For anyone who trivializes her role as secretary to her brother, the author Thornton Wilder, I would simply quote the late John D. Ogden, (PhD Lit. ’58) “Not since Dorothy and William Wordsworth has there been a  a brother sister literary team like Isabel and Thornton Wilder.”  

These can be viewed on-line at

I am pleased to have made this small contribution to future researchers and hope that those interested in women who settled in Hamden will utilize them.

Paul D.Keane
M.Div. ‘80

Monday, August 26, 2013


"The use of chemical weapons . . . is a moral obscenity."

Secretary of State John Kerry

   August 26, 2013       


Vietnamese Victim of Agent Orange

Sunday, August 25, 2013

* The Cornish Rooster

Just Jerry
 (Link NYT article)

J.D. Salinger hid away for decades in plain sight in Cornish, New Hampshire, a feeding town for the high school where I taught English in Vermont for 25 years.

As such, I had access to all kinds of folklore and harmless gossip about the reclusive writer for years.

One of my students was his next door neighbor and used to go over to his house every night and watch Jeopardy with him, a game show  which apparently Saliinger "loved".  

She told me that on Halloween Salinger would not give out candy. Instead he handed out pencils.  This must have been a huge disappointment to sugarized skids, but if their parents had an ounce of literary sense, they realized their child had just been given the equivalent of Excaliber by King Arthur himself.

A pencil from Salinger !  

Imagine what that would bring on Antiques Road Show.  Or better, imagine how it might energize a fledgling writer, perhaps King Arthur's  intent?

Rumor had it that Salinger's second wife (half his age) volunteered in our school for years, but I was too polite to try to find out, although other teachers confirmed it.  Privacy is privacy after all.  

One of my students was running a cash register at Price Chopper (or a similar grocery store five minutes from my school ) in West Labanon, N.H. one day and noticed that the white haired man behind the middle aged woman at the register, looked just like J.D. Salinger.  

When the woman handed her a credit card with the last name "Salinger", she flashed the woman a look, and the woman flashed her a look back which said, "That's him, yes, but don't say anything."

For years one of my colleagues and his wife would attend local church suppers.  J.D. Salinger loved church suppers and was always first in line at them.  My colleague and his wife would often eat with him, but learned from observation that he would get up and leave if anyone approached him about his identity as a writer.  He wanted to be "just Jerry" not J.D. Salinger. 

In later years after infirmity set in, Jerry would still be first in line at church suppers, but he would stand there using a ski pole as a cane to steady himself.  That's snow country class.

I know of one exception to this rule of public anonymity: Another one of my colleagues was the son of one of the owner's of, "Lou's," a famous Dartmouth breakfast joint  in Hanover, where Salinger (and Robert Frost !) ate regularly.

One day, he asked Jerry if he would sign a copy of The Catcher in the Rye for his son, Peter,  (now my colleague), and Jerry complied.
That signature on Catcher today is worth $10,000 according to a recent estimate.

Another one of my students had an aunt who bought the Cornish (Plainfield?) home owned by J. D. Salinger in his first marriage. The aunt describes a tunnel between the house and the garage at the home which Jerry had built "to avoid journalists" and paparazzi. At one point in his career a national magazine sent a photographer to stake him out until he got  Salinger's photo. After three days, he got it, not at his tunnel-equipped home, but at the Windsor post office.

Another one of my colleagues  has a brother who is a local mechanic and repaired "Jerry's" car for years. He too asserts it was "just Jerry."

Perhaps most  fascinating, for me, is the story of a local Plainfield (Cornish?) , N.H. volunteer firefighter, a story which adds credence to the report in a recent New York Times  article that beginning in 2015, five more Salinger manuscripts will be published by the estate of "just Jerry."

The fireman recounts that one day his  Department was called to put out a fire at the Salinger's Cornish home.  The  fire was in the basement where Salinger had his study and at one end of the study was a wall safe.

Salinger was so grateful that the fire had been  extinguished without destroying his study that the next day he appeared at the volunteer fire company and handed them "a check for $18,000."

The firefighter looked at me and said, "there was something in that safe  he was very grateful we saved.."

And then he added, in case I didn't get it, "Manuscripts."

What his authority was for such a conjecture, I know not.

But I trust local gossip.

Especially when it's just about  Jerry.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

* Race, Half a Century Later: A Triptych

The most Powerful Man in the World
and the Richest Woman in the World
The most Powerful, the Richest,
 Country in the World

The most Parasitic Industry in the World

Friday, August 23, 2013


Thursday, August 22, 2013

* Chelsea Manning FKA Bradley Manning

The fact that Chelsea Manning could announce, via her lawyer, her decision to proceed with a gender change on the TODAY SHOW and EXPECT to be treated with respect and dignity --- even as she begins her 35-year court-martial-rendered  prison sentence for disclosing confidential government documents to WIKILEAKS ----  signifies a  major change in America's long history of bigotry toward those of gender discomfort and perhaps a new age of societal enlightenment.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

* The Gospel of Pussyfooting According to Scott Jackson, Mayor of Hamden, Connecticut

Hamden Mayor, the Hon. Scott Jackson

Was I the Object


An Unlikely 


Both the Mayor of Hamden, Mr. Scott Jackson,  and the Dean of Yale Divinity School  disagreed with my use of the media in the Tsarnaev burial plot offer.

The Mayor had the audacity to lecture me on Christian behavior: 

I certainly hope if this offer is legitimate, and is legitimately being offered in the spirit of whom it claims to be, then I would guess it would actually be done in a different way --- in a quiet way, in a Christian way, that represented or required no additional comment."

 (Original article, New Haven Register)

The Dean of the the Divinity School said he did not wish to be involved in brokering the offer to the Tsarnaev family or to Islamic  clergy because “you went to the media.”

This aversion to the media  in deference to a pussyfooting Christianity goes against every lesson I have learned in social change in the last four decades. 

It also goes against an ancient Palestinian Carpenter's  behavior toward the money-changers in the Temple: No pussyfooting ("quiet way") there, Mayor Jackson.  I susbcribe to the  "spectacle" branch of Christianity; the ride-a-white-ass-into-Jerusalem-in-broad-daylight side of the religion, not the sedate, hushed,  country-club Christianity of suburbia.

Or what about the media manipulation ministry of Martin Luther King, Jr., 50 years ago?

Was that a "quiet way, a Christian way", Mayor Jackson?

I doubt that Mayor Jackson and the Divinity Dean would object to Dr. King's use of the media, his loud not "quiet,  Christian way."

Or perhaps they both feel that such 'loud', media manipulation is inappropriate for a privileged, 'propah', Yale educated white man?
Especially a white man without a social movement behind him?

Is this a racism of a different color----or an absence of color? 

Or is it just garden variety country-club-Christianity classism? 
(God forbid the middle class should  start using radical, guerilla-theatre tactics too. We must stay in our place.)


Sometimes hatred has to be outfoxed, no matter the race of the out-foxer.

I should know.

In 1972, being a Kent State student or having a Kent State degree was like handing a pirate a piece of paper with a black spot on it: the kiss of death

On Christmas Eve 1972, a project I created and pitched to the media at Kent State called “Pop’s Snow Squad"  changed the perception of Kent State students nationally when it  became the Christmas story on the Walter Cronkite CBS Evening News as a Charles Kuralt “On the Road” piece

 Jim Bruss,  Director of  the Kent State News Service   called it “the best piece of publicity ever to come out of Kent State  It challenged the national bigotry toward Kent State students and the fatal Kent State protests which had been burgeoning in the country.

In 1984 at Yale, the national bigotry went something like this “AIDS is a fag disease. Quarantine all those fags.”

A project I created in New Haven while at Yale Divinity School -------AIDS Information Dissemination Service ----- identified the heterosexual transmission of AIDS,  a fact previously unrecognized in America  but well known in Africa, however, a fact which had been ignored by American  journalists who allowed the homophobic hatred of "those fags who spread  AIDS," to persist unchallenged. 

Until 1983/4.

My public disclosure of the existence of a New Haven prostitute who had transmitted AIDS to her infant created a media  and law enforcement firestorm.

The subsequent 60 Minutes piece called “Helen” revealed to Americans for the first time, that AIDS could be transmitted by women. See video above.

After that disclosure to 20 million viewers, the  hateful national gossip that AIDS was a “fag disease” lost its poisonous punch.

Suddenly everyone was vulnerable.  Safe sex, previously a taboo topic, became a household word once transmission was seen as a potential household problem.

At this point I took 25-years off  as an activist for a career as a public school English teacher in Vermont. I thought I was done with preaching any gospel beyond Grammar. 

Fast forward thirty years to 2013, a year into my retirement. At an April gathering of colleagues at a Hanover haunt called Everything But Anchovies (EBA's) for pizza, I told the group  who inquired  how I was surviving retirement, "I have always regretted that I never 'used' my divinity degree."

Be careful what you regret.

Suddenly, public  hatred toward the alleged Boston bombers prevented burial of the Tsarnaev brother killed by police in a Boston shoot-out. The media-besieged undertaken in Massachusetts was running out of options and his plight was reported daily in the news, as a kind of circus sideshow:

  • I knew instantly  from my previous experiences with CBS News re: Kent State and AIDS, that the way to heal this festering societal infection was to use the media to cauterize it. 

I was "Called" to act as surely as intuition exists in the world. 

Why me? 

I have no idea.

The Mayor of Hamden and perhaps even the Dean of Yale Divinity School apparently saw that use of media as un-Christian. 

The proof is in the pudding: 

  • Within 48-hours of its erupting in the national media (video above; editorials, article  links  here) the Hamden burial plot controversy based on the Christian scripture  (LINK) “Love thine enemy" resolved itself when religious citizens in Virginia -- ordinary folk like myself --  banded together using the same scriptural reference as I had used to arrange a burial for the killed Tsarnaev brother in a rural Islamic cemetery. 

Even my Vermont/New Hampshire newspaper noted the parallel 

A white man, using Martin Luther King tactics of manipulating the national media to focus on the injustice of national bigotry, had ----- for the third time in forty years --- out-foxed the haters, including his own cousins whose  reaction, unamended to this day,  was to disown him.

It's all a mystery to me.


Britons Question Whether Detention of Reporter’s Partner Was Terror-Related

Marcelo Piu/European Pressphoto Agency

David Michael Miranda, left, with his partner, Glenn Greenwald. Mr. Miranda was held Sunday for nine hours in London.

* Is it here already?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

* Cutting Grass and the Acrobatics of Life

A rope-pulled rotary, circa 1957, similar to my $88.00 Toro

For B

Are we failing our children?  The recent untimely death of one of  my students makes me wonder. 

How could a child get to be 18 and not know that no matter how bleak things are-----they will CHANGE, if you just hold on?

Maybe not for the better, but even if more bleak, sometimes the change itself provides new opportunities for adjustment.

Are we raising our children to believe life is an  unbroken lift-off  upward trajectory?

Life is more  acrobatic than that,  like jumping for a branch and holding on or swinging to the next branch until there’s a spring from the branch itself which lifts you to a new level.

 Sometimes you catch the branch; Sometimes you don’t----or fall to a lower branch or the ground and have to try again.

One of the gifts my father gave me ---- which I failed to recognize as a gift at all when it was created ----- was the knowledge that I could undertake something on my own. 

When I was 14, he brought me to the local hardware store and bought  a rotary lawnmower (this was a new invention in 1957). It was a Toro and was was so antique by today’s standards that it had a rope starter, not a retractable rope, but a rope separate from the  engine which you twined around the top of the engine to give it a pull---like the crank on a Model-T Ford.

“You go get lawns to mow in the neighborhood and pay me back for this lawnmower [it cost $88.00----an enormous sum to be 14-year-old in 1957].  When you’ve paid me back, you own the mower and can keep the profits from any lawn you mow.”

This taught me two things: You could work for money: and money could work for you.

And my father knew about that.  His first job when he got married during the Depression was as a Good Humor Man, selling icecream on a three-wheeled bike.

By the time he died in 1992, he had retired as Vice President for Industrial Relations from a holding company in Old Greenwich, Connectcitut.  He had worked himself up as a (self-taught) "Phildelphia lawyer."

My father,
Robert H. Keane
on his wedding day ,
 during The Depression

(wearing a borrowed suit)

I think my father saw the beginnings of teenage depression in me and sought a way to get me out of my funk.

That Toro lawnmower may have been my salvation.

In 1985 with two graduate degrees I found myself pumping gas for $3.25 an hour.  "Well, I can always mow lawns fir extra money," I thought.

And I did for a year ----until I got a job as an English teacher.

Are we failing to teach our kids that they have the POWER to begin  something new?

That there is hope, adventure, promise in the world they may see at the moment as bleak and hopeless?

I wonder.

I'm about to turn 69 and my favorite recreation is --- you guessed it --- mowing my lawn (two acres in Vermont).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

* The Mess in Messiah


"Bertram Cates" is the name given to John 
Scopes in the 1961 movie  "Inherit the Wind" 
about the Scopes Trial (aka The Monkey Trial). 

You Couldn't Write a Script 
this Comical 
if  You Tried

Tennessee, which forever humiliated itself by subjecting a public school teacher to a judicial trial (The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, 1925) for daring to teach "evolution" in his classroom, has done it again: 

  • A judge there has ruled that a family cannot name its baby son "Messiah" (see link above).

Well, I suggest that Tennessee "Butt Out" of the business of being a busybody:  In fact, maybe that family should rename their son "Tennessee Butt Out of Busybodying" or 'Tennessee Bob', for short. (No, that would read 'Tennessee Boob' not 'Bob.')

Maybe he'll grow up to be a great playwright, the one thing the word 'Tennessee' means to most literate Americans.

Perhaps he'll write a play about the history of the Tennessee judicial system: The Ass Menagerie.

Friday, August 16, 2013

* Callings ? Craziness? Media Manipulations?

Three national news stories on moral issues in forty years:  Were these 'Callings'? Craziness? Media manipulations?

1972   CBS Evening News "On the Road" (Kent State)

1984   CBS "60 Minutes" (Yale/AIDS)

2013   FOX News (Tsarnaev Burial, Hamden, CT)


* Gay Dignity: Dartmouth College President's Moral Courage


College revokes Tucker

 Foundation appointment

Search committee chair Irene Kacandes noted that Tucker staff members held differing opinions on an ideal dean during the search process.
Search committee chair Irene Kacandes noted 
that Tucker staff members held 
differing opinions on an ideal dean during the 
search process.