Archive for September, 2011


song 4 u

This song is dedicated to one I love.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Paul Weston Orchestra & The Pied Pipers performing “Dream”


bright mite

The bright spot in my day yesterday was a call from Stephen in which he said that James Prindle is “bouncing off the walls” with hope and optimism now that we have engaged an attorney to represent him.

When I contrast this with his hopelessness and despondency of just a few days ago… well, all I can say is that the warmth I feel inside at his relief and happiness is worth any amount of effort, grief, or travail expended on his behalf.

Today I spoke for the first time with his new attorney, Claiborne Ferguson, who met with James yesterday and confirmed for me what we have believed all along: that James is a good kid who is absolutely innocent of the charges against him. He confirmed that if James were to go to prison labeled as a child molester, he would not come out alive. He also confirmed that James’ court-appointed public defender has done none of the basic things for James that should have been done by now—no interviews, no investigation and fact-finding, nothing except helping the prosecutor try to wrest a plea bargain from this innocent, scared, and abandoned child.

Tonight I spoke for a long time with a donor who contributed the remaining funds we needed to engage Claiborne—a third of the fee—and I watched the funds transfer into our PayPal account even as this donor and I were still talking on the phone. We now have assurance that James’ hopes for justice will not be dashed.

The donor—and now James’ anonymous Guardian Angel—talked with me for over two hours about a wide range of subjects. But always the conversation returned to the subject of Divine Guidance and that the redemption of young lives is God’s plan for us.

Where there is  no justice, we agreed we must create it. We cannot be dissuaded by the agents of retribution who plague the proper functioning of the juvenile justice system in America. Even those who pose as being righteous are in actuality agents of evil.

We still have the remaining $10,000 to raise in order to see James’ defense through to the end; yet I have no doubt that with your help we will meet this goal. The defense of this innocent boy is God’s work, and where God guides He provides.

And here is a lesson this man shared with me, even as he had given us several thousand dollars for James’ defense: he told me the story of The Widow’s Mite.

It is a story from the Bible in which a poor widow contributed to the temple treasury two small copper coins called “mites”—in today’s money worth a fraction of a cent—and the haughty people who had given more disparaged her gift. Christ admonished them saying, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all others because she gave her last coins.”

The donor brushed off my thanks and said we will raise the remaining $10,000 we need for James so long as we are more thankful for the small gifts than we are for his. He encouraged me to ask you to please pitch in for James, even if all you can contribute is a penny.

We are still creating a website for James that will go live soon; in the meantime, if you can help in any amount whatsoever, will you please donate through PayPal and direct your gift to info-at-wandervogel-dot-com, and make a note that it is for James Prindle?

Even if you can give only a mite, you will share the satisfaction of knowing that you will be creating justice for James and restoring hope to his life.

Thank you.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Stevie Wonder performing “Have A Talk With God”


red skies

I hoped it was an orange moonrise, but it was not.

For the longest time last night I watched an orange glow in the sky beyond the mountain ridge to the southeast, but the moon never appeared. When I caught the odor of smoke on the wind, I realized that it was a fire.

I called 911 and learned that a fire was burning in the National Park.

I went to bed, watching that glow through the open window, and realized that my cherished sanctuary, my heaven-on-earth, is not as safe and inviolable as I had become accustomed to believing. Watching that glow I had the thought that hell might be creeping towards me from just the other side of the mountains.

Hell can come at you from surprising places. Things are not always what they seem or what you think they should be. Some cops are bad. Some judges are unjust. Some prosecutors are dishonest. Some people from all walks of life let us down. Many people do… maybe most.

Evil is ascendant in the world. It takes vigilance and wisdom—and compromise, sometimes—to keep from getting burned. 


Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Fixx performing “Red Skies”


buck up

This day and date mark the shameful denial of justice to at least two kids in America: Jordan Brown and Paul Henry Gingerich. These are just two kids I know of—two of the six kids I’m currently serving (a third of my case load!)—yet how many other kids like them are similarly having their rights abused?

Today is the date that Jordan Brown’s long-awaited trial in juvenile court was to have commenced. But his trial date has been delayed—and why? Because the media want to deny Jordan his right as a juvenile to have his case heard in a closed courtroom.

Yesterday the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and New Castle News filed appeals with the Pennsylvania Superior Court asking that Lawrence County Judge John Hodge’s order be reversed that Jordan’s trial proceed on schedule and, like all juvenile proceedings, be closed to the public and media.

The Superior Court ordered that Jordan’s trial be delayed and gave media lawyers 62 days to submit other documents before the court assigns a three-judge panel to hear the request. How long this delay will ultimately be is anyone’s guess.

Lawyers for these three newspapers are using all kinds of high-sounding justifications in their arguments that the proceedings should be open. “It’s a case of great significance on the questions of criminal and juvenile justice in the Commonwealth,” Frederick Frank, the Post-Gazette’s attorney told The Associated Press. James Manolis, attorney for the New Castle News, said “There’s always going to be the question: ‘Then how did it happen?’ If Jordan Brown did not do it, then we apparently still have a killer in our midst, and we ought to know that.” Ronald Barber, attorney for the Tribune-Review said, regarding the boy’s privacy, “That horse has left the barn.”

But remember: these are the same people and institutions that opened the barn door in the first place. Jordan was 11 years old at the time he was wrongfully accused of the double homicide. The release of his mug shot photograph to the media by a jail employee was unauthorized and, in fact, was released in defiance of a direct order by the jail’s superintendent that the photo was to have been kept confidential to protect the privacy of a child. These same newspapers splashed Jordan’s mug shot all over their front pages, sensationalized the crime, and uncritically reported everything the now-discredited Lawrence County PA district attorney John Bongivengo alleged about the crime.

“More than anything,” a top producer at ABC News told me, “it was the release and distribution of that photo that created the public perception of Jordan’s guilt.” These three newspapers were at the center of events that secured a lynch-mob conviction of Jordan in the court of public opinion.

I have personally informed reporters from the Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review (the New Castle News has never returned my calls) that the physical evidence suggests a handgun was the murder weapon, not a shotgun; yet these newspapers have failed to report this information and, in fact, continue to report that a shotgun was the murder weapon (without even so much as an “alleged” as a modifier).

It is my opinion that these papers don’t give a damn about the truth or any high-minded public interests; they want the court proceedings opened so the spectacle they created can continue. There’s money in spectacle and none in justice.

They are prolonging Jordan’s wrongful incarceration and delaying his chance to prove his innocence. They are heaping more abuse upon the injustice they have already helped facilitate. It makes me sick.

The situation in Indiana is different in its particulars, but the net result of justice delayed is the same.

Since January, Paul Henry Gingerich has been attempting—without success—to get Judge Rex Reed’s and Judge Duane Huffer’s Kosciusko County Circuit Court to provide a true and complete court record so his appeal can proceed at the appellate level. Despite numerous filings on Paul Henry’s behalf and orders from the higher court to the lower court, the Kosciusko Cabal has failed to comply.

Paul Henry is constitutionally entitled to an appeal under US and Indiana law. A complete record is a requisite part of a fair appeal. There are good reasons to believe the court records provided by the Kosciusko Circuit Court may be incomplete. Several meritorious issues await resolution in the appeal, yet the Kosciusko Cabal is thwarting presentation of these issues at the appellate level by its willful contempt of orders from the higher court to produce a complete record.

Today Paul Henry’s lawyer Monica Foster is filing a “Verified Notice of Failure to Comply with Court Order and Fourth Motion for Writ in Aid of Appellate Jurisdiction,” in which the appellate court is being asked to reverse Paul Henry’s waiver order and conviction, and to remand his case for a new trial before a judge selected by the Indiana Supreme Court.

Today’s filing, though couched in precise legal language, is anything but dry reading. (I laughed out loud when I first read it.) It is an excellent example of what the work of a top-notch defense attorney looks like.

You can access the document at

Buck up, my friends. Have faith. This day may mark a date when justice is delayed for Jordan and Paul Henry, but come what may (and corrupt judges, prosecutors, and journalists notwithstanding), justice will ultimately not be denied. 


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Bonnie Raitt performing “I Will Not Be Denied”



It was inevitable that I would catch some flak for Saturday’s post, “Enough!”

A lawyer from Chicago wrote to me saying, “I admire your devotion to the causes of children, but I’m not sure I would take on advocacy of this political group.

“As I understand it, the Palestinians refuse to recognize the existence of Israel and, in fact, are committed to destruction of the Jewish state in alliance with the Muslim regime in Iran.  The Palestinians have also rejected Israeli peace proposals made at Camp David in 2000 and endorsed by Bill Clinton, and endorsed a couple years later by George Bush. This is the successor to a group that allied with Hitler during WWII (led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, who recruited for the Waffen SS)? Are not rocket attacks raining down a bit indiscriminately upon Israel from Palestinian territory?” he said.

I replied saying that I had read the full text of the previous day’s speech by President Abbas, and it appears the Palestinian position had shifted beyond that which this man had described. “As I understand it, the principal roadblock to peace talks is the Israeli government’s continuation of its construction of settlements on Palestinian land,” I said.

“In my view, this is not about politics but about right and wrong, good and evil.”

“The operative word there is ‘appears’,” he countered. “Unfortunately, appearances don’t always match deeds with the Palestinian group. Arafat, in particular, was less than reliable, and had a nasty habit of mismatching his deeds with his public utterances,” he said and continued: “Definition of “good” and “evil” is, for better or worse, a basic tenet of the political game. I have found it very difficult to attach those labels without playing politics to some extent.”

“The same duplicity can be ascribed to the Zionist side as well,” I replied. “I seek to sidestep the mutual finger-pointing and look at WHAT is right, not WHO is right. What is happening ‘on the ground’ is absolutely positively wrong. It has got to stop. People of goodwill on all sides of the issue have got to change their minds, hearts, and positions.”

“I agree there is room for improvement on both sides,” he said. “I was under the impression you were taking the Palestinian side of it.” 

“I am taking the human side in defending kids,” I replied. “They don’t care about politics—just living and growing up happy and free.”

This is the same position taken by MECA, the group that had organized the art exhibit called “A Child’s View from Gaza.” I spoke today with a spokesperson from MECA to learn how their guerilla art opening had gone on Saturday.

“We are devoted to supporting the children who have been living under siege. We think of ourselves as a humanitarian organization, not political,” she said.

She told me that 24 hours before the opening MECA had leased a retail space to exhibit the artwork for two months at 917 Washington Street in Oakland, only one minute away from the museum where the exhibit was to have been held. The reception began in the museum’s courtyard and was followed by a march to the rented exhibit space. Only a handful of counter-demonstrators were present—“maybe ten,” she said.

MECA had expected only 100-200 attendees for the event; thanks to the publicity the exhibit’s cancellation created, more than 500 supporters showed up.

Censorship in this case backfired. 


Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Wombats performing “Backfire at the Disco”


final exams

It is almost seven in the morning, and it is still dark outside. This reminds me that we have entered the “dark” half of the year. In a couple months it will be the “dark and cold” part of the year which, for me, takes much more effort to enjoy. When I lived in Minnesota where the dark and cold are more pronounced and extreme, this was a time of spiritual despondency for me. Now that I live so much farther south, this reaction is much more muted and tempered by the thought that even the coldest and shortest days here have their bright and warm parts.

Since I designed this runic calendar more than twenty years ago, I have used the analogy of the year’s seasons to understand the progression of all cycles of transformative change—most particularly the seasons of my life. I was born in the springtime, and spring and summer—the “light” half of the year—most naturally have come to represent my youth.  Now that I am in my sixties, I am constantly reminded that I am now well into the “dark” half of my life cycle.

I would be surprised if I have more than a decade left before my time comes to graduate on to the next springtime. If this is so, then I am in my “final exam” season before graduation. The time ahead is when we will see if I have learned sufficiently from life.

Obviously I think I’ve learned a lot and maybe enough; otherwise I would not have the confidence to be addressing the terrible problems which confound and threaten to destroy the lives of the kids I serve.

Since Otto’s death a week ago, the words “memento mori” have been repeatedly whispered in my ear. I know I have a limited amount of time remaining to prove whether I have learned enough to pass on a legacy that will stand the test of time beyond my time.

The days are short and the road is long. God willing, there will be days enough to succeed.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Arlo Guthrie performing “Days Are Short”



An exhibition of artwork by Palestinian kids in Gaza which was to have opened today at The Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland was cancelled in response to pressure from pro-Israel groups in the Bay Area. “Great news!” crowed the Jewish Federation of the East Bay. “The ‘Child’s view from Gaza’ exhibit at MOCHA has been canceled thanks to some great East Bay Jewish community organizing.”

The museum had been working on the project for months with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), which has announced plans to hold an opening reception for the exhibit anyway in the museum’s courtyard this afternoon from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Pacific time. Volunteers will hold the artwork for viewing and MECA is working on securing another location so people in the community will have an ongoing opportunity to see this censored artwork.

It is so hypocritical and wrong that a Holocaust museum in Washington DC is allowed to justify “the policy of colonial military occupation of the land of the Palestinian people and all of the brutality of aggression and racial discrimination against our people that this policy entails” (to borrow the words of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in yesterday’s UN speech), while the truth of the 1948 Al-Nakba (Catastrophe) and its terrible aftermath is suppressed.

Had the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay not pulled off this ham-fisted affront to free speech and free thought in America, I would probably not be taking the time to comment on it. But their actions demand that the artwork by these children who live with the daily consequences of the conflict must receive greater exposure than it might otherwise have received.


I end this post, this appeal for truth, peace, and justice, by giving President Abbas the last word:

“I come before you today….to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people in the homeland and in the Diaspora, to say, after 63 years of suffering of the ongoing Nakba: Enough! It is time for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence.”


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer performing “Enough Is Enough”



The autumnal equinox happened this morning at 4:05 a.m. central time, but I was not awake to observe it. I guess you might say I was distracted by other priorities.

The same is true today with writing a post. Please don’t think I’m neglecting you. I’m taking on a new kid, and spent the whole afternoon answering a letter from him. I’ll tell you more about him—a whole lot more—later, but not now. I’ll be back on the keyboard for you tomorrow.

The best I can do for you is share a really terrific song. I love this girl’s voice and I hope you’ll enjoy it.


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Regina Spektor performing “Fidelity”


day of shame

Denied a last-minute stay of execution, Troy Davis was executed by the state of Georgia last night for the murder of an off-duty police officer. There is a great likelihood he was innocent, but no court or political leader would put a stop to the execution. He was pronounced dead at 11:08 p.m. eastern time.

We have not come so very far in eighty years. Our methods have only become more abstract and antiseptic. 


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Billie Holiday performing “Strange Fruit”


a good day

This is going to be a nothing post. The day has been so full of e-mails, phone calls, people, and errands that I simply have had no time to write.

A few high points: The girl I took to my high school senior prom contacted me for the first time in 43 years; I learned why the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections never answered a letter I’d sent him (he quit almost a month ago, after just six months on the job, over a disagreement with Governor Rick Scott about the privatization of at least 29 state prison facilities); Several people sent contributions for James Prindle’s legal expenses; I discovered my personal checking account had $200 more in it than I’d thought; I was offered a free Great Pyrenees puppy; We got a little rain.

I even received a 1902 Indian head penny in my change at the general store. 


Groove of the Day 

Listen to Perry Como performing “It’s a Good Day”