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Subi Memorial

Rescued from a kill shelter in Manteca, Petey Pumpkinhead III entered our lives 7 years ago. Abused by a previous owner he was skittish and nippish. That changed with love, affection and attention.

He was a majestic furry orange tabby. His coat emitted a perpetually lovely fragrance. He had the sexiest strut with an ever present erect tail and endearing behind.

Petey had simple needs. Belly rubs topped the list. He loved resting in his backyard igloo. He would prance out when I entered the yard and open wide for belly rubs and rolly polly.

He bonded with Klimey who also was rescued from a shelter. Klimey loved licking Petey and taught Petey how to love back. They were inseparable.

Petey-Weedy (as we called him) evolved into the sweetest and most gentle of companions. When hungry, he would jump into bed and delicately place his paw on my face. No histrionics, just a love tap and breakfast was on.

He loved sleeping inside the space between my legs or alongside the curve of Clara's thigh. His body language suggested the most delicious of dreams. He also had the squeakiest yawn when awakened.

Petey had a ravenous appetite and wore his weight well. That changed last October when he dropped 2 pounds in short order and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

He continued to lose weight but his sweet demeanor never changed. Although not a lap cat during his youth, lately I would place him in my lap in the back yard and we would stay together for long periods. These were cherished moments. Klimey would join us and stay by Petey's side.

Strong medication was required every 8 hours to dissipate the fluid in his lungs. No matter how much lasix was dosed, it could not stay on top of the progression of his heart disease.

Last week Petey hit a low point and could hardly breath. He hadn't eaten for 2+ days. We upped the lasix and he recovered miraculously. His breathing appeared normal and he started eating - but only food fresh out of the can. He ate more than he had in months. He had playful sparring sessions with Klimey, tons of rolly polly and belly rubs, his tail was erect and he slept next to my face the other day.

Today he had a good appetite in the early afternoon. I didn't see him the rest of the day. When the thunder rumbled and the rain came pouring down I went outside.

He was in the igloo. I tipped it and he ran inside. But something was wrong.

His breathing was labored. Petey could not catch his breath. He had breathing attacks before and I had feared the worst, yet Petey always persevered.

An hour or so later when Clara came home, Petey's condition had worsened. When he walked from under a table to lie down in the litter box that was an alarming signal. I picked him up and he let out a cry. Petey went under the bed where Klimey was and continued to make anguished yelps.

We left him alone. Petey soon emerged and we put him in a blanket by the heater.

He wanted to be left alone.

Petey-Weedy barely could walk and stumbled out the bedroom and down a few steps to the cat door. Somehow he pushed himself through. The igloo was two feet from the door.

We let him be.

An hour later Clara checked on Petey.

His fur was gorgeous. His body still warm.

But Petey had passed.

He never made it to the igloo.

Moti has been missing since Sept 2014.  On Jan 23, 2015 while walking in McClaren Park a cat resembling Moti emerged on a tree branch above a thicket of bushes. This brightened our hearts as Clara and I imagine Moti as a feline Tarzan.  Clara wrote the below poem before we confirmed the cat was not Moti.

Moti Sighting
by Clara Hsu

Who sits on a branch
above a field of thorns?
My cat. My cat.

Who listens to his names
and twitches his ears?
My cat. My cat.

His looks have changed since autumn
from living wild and eating mice.
We’re trespassing his kingdom
that can’t be bought
 any price.

Running streams.
Catnip on the hills.

Sat. nights, 8-mid, KALW 91.7 FM, S.F.
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Shares the Tangents philosophy that nothing beats experiencing music at its source.

2015 Trips:

Borneo - Rainforest Festival
August 2-11, 2015

Romania - At Home with the Gypsies
August 15-23, 2015

Colombia – NEW TRIP
August 2015*

India – Rajasthan Musical Adventure
October 17-28, 2015

Senegal – Never Mind the Mbalax
November 20-29, 2015

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December 30 2015-January 13, 2016

Gaza Facts
Click link above to get facts about Gaza, a collaborative project by Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area (JVP-BA) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA).

Gaza Corner

Click above for Archive

Saturdays 11p on Tangents, 91.7 fm SF, webcast at kalw.org

This weekly feature includes news and opinion from the Middle East (and beyond) often ignored by the mainstream media followed by music from the relevant cuountry or culture.

Gaza Corner was originally conceived to focus attention on relieving the humanitarian crisis in Gaza which has been under a severe blockade imposed by Israel since 2006.  Gaza Corner has evolved to include the Middle East, Magreb, Kurdistan and Turkey.

 Click headlines below for full stories.

Killing Gets Easier
(David Shulman, Opinion,
The New York Review of Books, 5/29/15)

related story:

This is How We Fought in Gaza:
Soldiers' testimonials
and photographs from
Operation "Protective Edge (2014)

(links to full 242 pg PDF file report at the breakingthesilence.org website)

David Shulman opinion excerpt:

Rescuers looking for survivors and bodies at the Qassam Mosque in the Neuseirat refugee camp, Gaza Strip, 8/9/14
(Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos)

In early May, Breaking the Silence, the organization of Israeli ex-soldiers that is by now well known for its meticulous independent accounts of IDF operations, published a report on the Israeli army’s campaign in Gaza last summer. The report revealed that the large number of civilian casualties on the Palestinian side was a consequence, among other things, of military tactics and orders explicitly adopted by the IDF.

Israelis like to think that their army holds to high moral standards, and they react badly to hard evidence that shows this is not the case. There has been particular outrage at the suggestion that there is anything wrong about the new “Gaza rules” and the high civilian body count. Most Israelis simply, and simplistically, blame Hamas for the fighting and its cost, which they also see as the natural result of fighting in the thickly populated urban space of Gaza.

The seven-week operation known as “Protective Edge” (Tzuk Eitan, “Steadfast Boulder,” in Hebrew) was a violent conflict aimed at stopping rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. According to the United Nations, some 2,200 people were killed, of whom 1,492, or more than two thirds, were civilian. The overwhelming majority of these were Palestinian. (The Israeli military recorded the deaths of sixty-six Israeli soldiers and six Israeli civilians in the conflict.)

The evidence presented in the Breaking the Silence report can be summarized relatively simply: soldiers briefed by officers before they went into Gaza were instructed to avoid all risks to themselves even at the cost of certain, possibly substantial, civilian casualties. In practice, this meant they shot at everything that moved in their zone of combat, including animals and, inevitably, civilians who for whatever reason could not get out in time. This point is a weighty one. The army delivered warnings to civilians to evacuate areas slated for attack; usually these took the form of leaflets or text-messages to cell phones, but there was also the Israeli invention called “a knock on the door”—a small missile or shell shot at a building as a warning that heavier shelling was about to begin. Civilians who failed to heed such warnings were, according to the army briefings, fair game. They were not supposed to be there.

The difficulty with these measures is by now well known and has been discussed at some length. At times the interval between the knock on the door and severe or total destruction was so short—measured in minutes or even seconds—that there was simply no time for civilians to get out. Moreover, such warnings are largely meaningless unless there is a corridor of safety for evacuees fleeing the battle zone and some provision for their survival once they get beyond the immediate threat, as the prominent human-rights lawyer, Michael Sfard, wrote last summer while the battles were still raging. Such measures were, in general, absent during last summer’s fighting. Many civilians certainly died in a desperate attempt to reach safety; some troubling cases are documented in the report.

For the sake of comparison, we might recall the Israeli army’s traditional rules of engagement, taught to generations of recruits. A potential enemy can, we were told, be killed if he has a weapon, an apparent intent to cause harm, and a realistic capability of doing so. “Gaza rules” were far more lenient, as many of the Breaking the Silence interviews state directly:

What were the rules of engagement?

There weren’t really any rules of engagement, it was more protocols. The idea was, if you spot something—shoot. They told us: “There aren’t supposed to be any civilians there. If you spot someone, shoot.” Whether it posed a threat or not wasn’t a question, and that makes sense to me. If you shoot someone in Gaza it’s cool, no big deal.

The same approach—massive fire, sometimes uncontrolled or indiscriminate—held true at much higher levels of operation, as in the destruction of buildings, indeed of entire neighborhoods, such as Shuja’iyya in the central zone and Khuza’a in the far south, either by ground artillery or from the air. The heavy civilian casualties on the Palestinian side included some five hundred dead children. Destruction of homes and infrastructure in Gaza was immense, some of it clearly meant to teach a lesson, or to take revenge, or to create a passable illusion of military victory or some form of deterrent against future attacks.

The findings of the report—including the results of the fighting and the orders that brought them about—are nothing very new. What is more striking is how they suggest the impressive persistence and, indeed, continual intensification of practices that have occurred over the last three or four decades. Significant change lies only in the fact that the acts in question now reflect deliberate and explicit policy of a systemic nature coming down from the top. The Israel army once claimed to hold, nominally at least, to moral considerations of an entirely different order than those officially adopted last summer. Now, even that pretense seems to be gone.

How did we get to this point? It’s important to remember that Gaza has a history that goes back far beyond last year, and that Hamas rule there developed as part of the longue durée, or the lethal dialogue, of Israeli-Palestinian relations, including the last forty-eight years of Occupation and in large measure, because of Israeli’s policy of colonizing the West Bank, including the massive theft of land, the disenfranchisement of millions of Palestinians, an entrenched regime of state terror, and the lack of meaningful legal recourse to those living under the Occupation. It will also reflect Israel’s adamant refusal to make peace.

To my mind, the true significance of the Breaking the Silence report lies just here. There is a sinister link between the conduct of the army in Gaza last summer and the system now firmly in place on the West Bank—despite attempts by the government (and large sections of the electorate) to deny any such connection. Three recent examples may suffice:  (only one is posted for this excerpt)

• On May 17, 750 olive saplings were uprooted and savagely destroyed, undoubtedly by settlers, on Palestinian land east of the Etzion settlements in the south Hebron hills. The land is privately owned by the Abu Shanab family. Destruction of Palestinian olive trees is a routine event in the south Hebron hills; I have seen the results myself, near the village of Twaneh and elsewhere. One needs to bear in mind that many Palestinian herders and small-scale farmers subsist largely, even primarily, on olives, and the ancient trees themselves are often treated as beloved members of the family—hence, I suppose, the settlers’ delight in uprooting them. It goes without saying that no attempt has been made by the police or the army to find the perpetrators of this wanton act.

If Palestinians—all of them—are the enemy; if they are different enough from Israelis to be seen as a separate (lower) category of human beings; if their civilian casualties don’t really count for much (to say nothing of the now notorious posts from last summer in Israeli social media actually celebrating these deaths); if official Israeli policy is based on maintaining the cruel system of the occupation indefinitely, denying elementary human rights to Palestinian residents; if the Prime Minister allows himself to speak even of Israeli Arabs, citizens of the state, as constituting a threat to the domination of the Jews and the rule of the Israeli right, as he did on the day of the recent election—if all this is now acceptable public discourse inside Israel, then killing more of them will become easier and easier and look less and less like the crime it is.