Friday, May 6, 2016

Two Poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti



  I didn't get much sleep last night
  thinking about underwear
  Have you ever stopped to consider
  underwear in the abstract
  When you really dig into it
  some shocking problems are raised
  Underwear is something
  we all have to deal with
  Everyone wears
  some kind of underwear
  Even Indians wear underwear
  Even Cubans
  wear underwear
  The Pope wears underwear I hope
  Underwear is worn by Negroes
  The Governor of Louisiana
  wears underwear
  I saw him on TV
  He must have had tight underwear
  He squirmed a lot
  Underwear can really get you in a bind
  Negroes often wear white underwear
  which may lead to trouble
  You have seen the underwear ads
  for men and women
  so alike but so different
  Women's underwear holds things up
  Men's underwear holds things down
  Underwear is one thing
  men and women have in common
  Underwear is all we have between us
  You have seen the three-color pictures
  with crotches encircled
  to show the areas of extra strength
  and three-way stretch
  promising full freedom of action
  Don't be deceived
  It's all based on the two-party system
  which doesn't allow much freedom of choice
  the way things are set up
  America in its underwear
  struggles thru the night
  Underwear controls everything in the end
  Take foundation garments for instance
  They are really fascist forms
  of underground government
  making people believe
  something but the truth
  telling you what you can or can't do
  Did you ever try to get around a girdle
  Perhaps Non-Violent Action
  is the only answer
  Did Gandhi wear a girdle
  Did Lady Macbeth wear a girdle
  Was that why Macbeth murdered sleep
  And that spot she was always rubbing
  Was it really in her underwear
  Modern Anglo-Saxon ladies
  must have huge guilt complexes
  always washing and washing and washing
  Out damned spot
  Underwear with spots very suspicious
  Underwear with bulges very shocking
  Underwear on clothesline a great flag of freedom
  Someone has escaped his underwear
  May be naked somewhere
  But don't worry
  Everybody's still hung up in it
  There won't be no real revolution
  And poetry’s still the underwear of the soul
  And underwear still covering
  a multitude of faults
  in the geological sense
  strange sedimentary stones, inscrutable cracks
  For does not the body stay alive
  after death and still need its underwear
  or outgrow it
  some organs are said to reach full maturity
  only after the head stops holding them back
  If I were you I'd keep aside
  an oversize pair of winter underwear
  Do not go naked into that good night
  And in the meantime
  keep calm and warm and dry
  No use stirring ourselves up prematurely
  over Nothing
  Move forward with dignity
  hand in vest
  Don't get emotional
  And death shall have no dominion
  There's plenty of time my darling
  Are we not still young and easy
  Don't shout.

Don’t Let that Horse

Don’t let that horse
                              eat that violin

    cried Chagall’s mother

                                     But he   
                      kept right on

And became famous

And kept on painting
                              The Horse With Violin In Mouth

And when he finally finished it
he jumped up upon the horse
                                        and rode away   
          waving the violin

And then with a low bow gave it
to the first naked nude he ran across

And there were no strings   

Lawrence Ferlinghetti has published numerous books of poetry, among them are Pictures of the Gone World, City Lights, 1955, enlarged edition, 1995; Tentative Description of a Dinner Given to Promote the Impeachment of President Eisenhower, Golden Mountain Press, 1958; A Coney Island of the Mind, New Directions, 1958; Berlin, Golden Mountain Press, 1961; One Thousand Fearful Words for Fidel Castro, City Lights, 1961; Thoughts of a Concerto of Telemann, Four Seasons Foundation, 1963; Where Is Vietnam?, City Lights, 1965; To F—-Is to Love Again, Kyrie Eleison Kerista; or, The Situation in the West, Followed by a Holy Proposal, F—-You Press, 1965; Christ Climbed Down, Syracuse University, 1965; An Eye on the World: Selected Poems, MacGibbon & Kee, 1967; Moscow in the Wilderness, Segovia in the Snow, Beach Books, 1967; Reverie Smoking Grass, East 128, 1968; The Secret Meaning of Things, New Directions, 1969; Tyrannus Nix?, New Directions, 1969; Back Roads to Far Places, New Directions, 1971; Open Eye, Open Heart, New Directions, 1973; Landscapes of Living and Dying (also see below), New Directions, 1979; A Trip to Italy and France, New Directions, 1980; Endless Life: Selected Poems, New Directions, 1984; Over All the Obscene Boundaries: European Poems and Transitions, New Directions, 1985; Wild Dreams of a New Beginning: Including “Landscapes of Living and Dying” and “Who Are We Now?,” New Directions, 1988; When I Look at Pictures, Peregrine Smith Books, 1990; These Are My Rivers: New and Selected Poems, 1955-1993, New Directions, 1993; A Far Rockaway of the Heart, New Directions, 1997; San Francisco Poems, City Lights, 2001; How to Paint Sunlight: Lyric Poems and Others, 1997-2000, New Directions, 2001; Poetry as Insurgent Art, New Directions, 2005.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Amsterdam by Jacques Brel (Sung and Played by Fred Holstein)

TRS Funding for Fiscal Year 2015 (from Bob Lyons, Trustee, TRS Pension Board)

TRS assets are held in trust and are invested for exclusive benefit of plan members. We started FY 2015 on July 1, 2014 with $45,824,382,514 and ended on June 30, 2015 with $46,406,915,593. The TRS investment portfolio returned 4.0% and our assets increased approximately $664 million during the year. Our funded ratio also improved from 40.6% to 42% for the year.
Statement of Changes in Net Positions Ending June 30, 2015:
Contributions from Active Teachers
State of Illinois
Federal Funds
School districts (early retirement, 2.2 and excess salary and sick leave)
Total Contributions
Net Income from Investments
Total Additions


Retirement Benefits
Survivor Benefits
Disability Benefits
Refunds (contributions returned to in-actives)
Administrative Expenses (total cost of running TRS)
Total Deductions:

You should note that while our total contributions for the year came to $4,458,707,579, our deductions were $5,646,724,003, an imbalance of over $1.19 billion. Fortunately, that was more than made by our investment return of $1.77 billion. TRS must make at least 2.5% on our investments just to break even for the year. 

TRS Returns for calendar year 2015:
Illinois Teachers Pension Fund made 1.1% for 2015, which put the fund in the upper 10 percent of its peers. The average large public pensions for the last calendar year lost 2.1%. What made the difference for us was our greater reliance on both real estate and alternative investments. Our return for three years was 7.6%; five years 7.6%; and ten years 5.6%. Multiyear returns are annualized. The board set the expected rate of return at 7.5% last year.
TRS' best performing asset class for the year ending December 31 was real estate, which returned 14.8%. Private equity followed with 3% and hedge funds returned 2.8%. International equity produced the worst return at -4.9%, real return at -4.6%, and global fixed income off at -04%. The key to investing today is diversity. In years past, pension fund investments were limited to stocks and bonds and we would have had a poor year if those rules were still in place. Of course because we owned more real estate, our losses in 2008 and 2009 were greater than many other pension funds.
Though we still do not have a budget for the fiscal year, a continuing resolution mandates that state will pay $6.7 billion to the five pension funds and specifically $3.7 billion to TRS. As in other years, the state missed its July contribution, gave us only half of August, and skipped November, so they owe us over $700 million. Illinois Comptroller told us last fall that the state's goal was to make us whole with the April returns on state taxes. The very real problem for Illinois is that their expected revenue for this year in the GR fund is only $32 billion, and the pension payments are over 20% of their total money coming in. In the recovery after the Great Recession, the average public state pension has climbed back up to low 80%. Public pensions in Illinois are, with the exception of those funds in Puerto Rico, the lowest in the nation and the state is challenged to make its current contributions. The need for the state, the Governor, and the leaders of the General Assembly to come together to work for a real solution for Illinois grows with the passage of every day.

Retirees by benefit ranges — August, 2015:
Below $50,000
 $50,000 - $99,999
$100,000 - $149,999
$150,000 - $199,999
$200,000 - $249,999