Wednesday, February 19, 2014

it was just his time

I neglected to mention one particular media use of "Groundhog Day" yesterday.

Al Logan Slagle, aka Allogan Slagle, according to his biography on UC Davis' website,

...was a member of the United Keetoowah Band of the Cherokee of Oklahoma and worked as an attorney for the Association of American Indian Affairs (AAIA) in Washington, D.C. Prior to that he worked for the California Indian Legal Services in Oakland. He was the co-author of the book, The Good Red Road (1987). He completed his doctorate at Loyola University and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1979 then beginning his career in defending the rights of Native American tribes. His research included making use of National Archives Indian rolls, family genealogies, tribal records, and other documents to write petitions for Native American tribes seeking official legal tribal status.

He was also a regular contributor to News from Native California magazine. I've found his column as far back as 1990 and beyond his death in 2002 (written by other authors).

His regular column's name? "Groundhog Day."

Upon his death, Ron Andrade wrote:

Al Logan sacrificed his personal life in order to do all that was within his power to insure the integrity of native tribes and to protect the hope and future of Native Americans and their children. Al Logan was responsible for the development of the Privileges and Immunities Technical Amendment Act of 1994. Senator John McCain stated that the passage of that Act to be one of the most significant statutes for the protection of Native American tribal governments.

Al Logan was never considered a man of few words, as from time to time a member of Congress would request a few words and they soon learned that they needed to be specific or expect numerous boxes of materials to arrive indexed and cataloged. For this, members of Congress respected him as an honest and creditable scholar relentlessly carrying the torch for Native American issues.

He also included these lines:

"My heart is moved by all I cannot save, so much has
been lost.... so much has been destroyed.
I must cast my lot with those who, age after age,
perversely, with no extraordinary power...
reconstitute the world."

In addition to a memorial service, "tribes that worked closely with Al Logan [planned] a celebration of his life."

I haven't written about obituaries in this blog in a while. I'm not even entirely sure they ever quite fit the themes of the film. But, this idea, that we celebrate a life even (or maybe especially) when it is complete--that fits quite readily with the themes of Groundhog Day.

As long as we remember the distinction between living in the moment in a hedonistic fashion and living in the moment in a... more thoughtful way. Phil Connors never really stops living in the moment (suicides excepted, course). Pre-loop, he's stuck constantly in the now because he is neither self-assured nor secure enough in who he is to really consider his future. He dreams about it, sure (and in the second revision of the script he has talked to CBS about a job), but it's difficult to take him seriously when he says he's "probably leaving PBH." I mean, where is he gonna go? During the loop, he lives without consequences, without future, so he is entirely in the moment. For adolescent reasons, for hedonistic reasons... then for more noble reasons. Or, so we interpret it.

Pre-loop Phil would probably tell us that he celebrates life, but it's questionable whether he truly lives life at that point.

Allogan Slagle had a cause he worked and wrote in support of for a good portion of his life. Phil Connors, on the other hand, took his time finding a cause (or rather many small causes--the people of Punxsutawney).

We don't need big causes to make our lives worth celebrating. We just need some purpose. I've got a few, for sure. And lately, life has been better than it has been at some points in recent history for me.

And, like Allogan Slagle (well, sort of), I've got a regular gig writing about Groundhog Day.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to apply "Groundhog Day" as a metaphor to every single thing in my life and make all of those metaphors make sense.

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