Monday, December 19, 2005
So I've been chatting with my writing mentor who HIGHLY suggests that I focus on my manuscript and less on the dozens of diversions I've created to avoid doing so.
Time for a blog sabbatical.
I may not post for a long time but I promise to keep up with all of the wonderful bloggers I've come to know these past five months. Yes folks, I will drown you with comments so be prepared!
I wish you all love, peace, laughter and good health in 2006 and beyond.
much love, east village idiot.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
I'm contributing to a Christmas gift program at my son's school that gives gifts to poor Asian children in Chinatown. One of the girls drew an angel and signed it "girl, age 9".
I spent hours roaming all the aisles of the toy department. Looking for that perfect gift for a stranger. I know there are other people who grab anything and dump it in the box at school but that kind of karma makes me sick.
I come from a half baked catholic background so I believe if I take a lot time to pick just the right gift - maybe I'll make that girl really happy.
So I bought this craft thing called Flower Power/Lightastic. You create these flower arrangements by mixing and matching different petals and leaves that come in all different colors. The flowers are plugged into a psychedelic looking flower pot that lights them up electrically. The flowers glow in your room all night - if you want them to.
More reasons why I like Flower Power:
1. It glimmery and glowy which is good for a nine year old girl. She doesn't have many more girlyhood days ahead of her.
2. You can keep on changing it into different flowers and colors so it doesn't end with your first design.
I'll never forget the day when I stopped playing with my 1973 Malibu Barbie. I loved her and her cool camper. I used to pretend she was a lead singer in a rock band and in the French resistance at the same time.
I just remember holding her in my hands and looking at her cool 70's clothes and wanting desperately to feel that same thrill I got as I revved up for our next adventure. The empty feeling was scary and sad for me.
Somehow I knew it was the beginning of the end of my childhood.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
HE ENDS UP BEING A LOT MORE TOGETHER AT THE AGE OF 7 THAN I AM AT THE AGE OF 43!!!
For instance, today Ben would not get out of bed. He got dressed in bed. He ate his breakfast and went back to bed. He washed his face and brushed his teeth then returned to bed to read. That's great when it's Saturday. But when it's bloody Wednesday morning and we've got three minutes to catch a crosstown bus to the westiest western part of west village - mommy get's a little uptight.
Suddenly I heard myself shouting right at him "Benjamin - get your ass out of bed right now!!!"
Now I don't curse at Ben and I don't scream at him at pointblank range. But I did both. He was startled and so was I.
Frightened, he jumped out of bed - stood right in my face and said "I'm sorry that I was in bed but is that how it is now? That you use the A-S-S word and shout in my face? Huh? Is that right?" He started to get all trembly and teary eyed.
Instead of scolding him, I scared him.
I know what it's like to be bullied as a child and it makes me sick to think I even came close to bullying my own child.
I hugged him and apologized - while reiterating my frustration with his behavior. We joked and went on with our day.
Ugh. I hate when that happens because I know that's not me. It's a memory. And sometimes memories just flick on like light switches. Luckily they can be flicked off too.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Ten Weird and Random Facts about Myself
1. It takes a lot for me to think something is weird.
2. I don't think anything in life is random even when we think it is.
3. I've met Willem Dafoe, Paul O'Neill (former Yankee) and now need only to meet Christian Bale for my "hot hot hottie" hat trick to be complete.
4. I act like an A Type personality but I am a profoundly B Type personality inside.
5. I am a writer and I choose not to discuss my work on my blog - - admire people who do though.
6. I believe in the inherent goodness of every human being.
7. But I think we live in a culture that fears and is hateful to women.
8. I have no fear of any spider or bug -- but I will f*ckin' freak out if you put me in the same room with a snake of any size.
9. I love flowers and gardening.
10. I wish I could have had more children. Guess I still might be able to get one under the wire.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
It is our most dreaded topic because no one immediately comes to mind as THE ONE or THE FAMILY among our relatives.
In an abstract sort of way I posed the question to Ben. It went something like this...
"Ben, who would you want to live with if mommy and daddy were not around. NOT THAT THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN BECAUSE IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. But just say, if you had to live with someone else - who comes to mind as your number one choice? NOT THAT THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN BECAUSE IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN."
He sat there for a minute and thought about it. His first response was "Oh, I don't know mommy. Some nice family with children and a dog who are really nice."
When I asked him for a specific family or person he said he needed some time to think about it. Ten minutes later he returned to the room and said,
"What about Edward Hopper?"
"I've thought about it. And that is the exact person I want to live with if something happens to you and daddy. He loves to paint and I love to paint. He paints New York and Cape Cod and I paint New York and Cape Cod. He paints pictures of everyday things like warehouses and that's what I want to paint. Just everyday things and he makes them beautiful"
Sometimes my son freaks me out.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Yesterday Benjamin and I set out of the house for a little holiday fun in midtown with one of his schoolmates.
What a blind, naive East Villager I am. It never occurred to me that I was walking directly into the twelve rings of NYC Holiday Hell.
- Waded through a packed crowd at Grand Central
- Stood protectively hovering over my son at the New York Transit Museum Annex (in Grand Central) while he and scores of other train finatics of all ages pressed their faces against the multi-tiered Lionel Train christmas set up.
- Stupidly agreed to wade through hundreds of tourists, shoppers and teenagers at the Bryant Park Christmas Fair Booths. Stared dreamily at the new ice skating rink there and thought about hockey for ten seconds.
-Broke down and agreed to eat a late lunch at Mars 2112. Wanted to commit suicide in the space ship. Certainly Satan had a hand in the design of this tourist trap/parent hell.
-Achieved double dumb ass status when I blindly agreed to walk into Times Square and visit Toys R Us. The street crowds were insane. There was no escape once you got sucked into the current of foot traffic. I held on tightly to my son's hand and prayed for our safety and sanity.
-The Times Square Toys R Us rivaled the population density of Bombay. You don't believe me?...Benjamin and I wandered around in various packs of crowds for fifteen minutes when he looked up at me and said "I give up. Let's leave." You read that correctly. My child suggested that we leave the motherload of all toy stores empty handed.
- Store doors swung open to a packed crowd that was almost standing still because it was impossible to walk. It was a spectator crowd...with nothing to watch.
- I started flipping out. Jaywalked across Broadway and 7th Avenue and nearly kissed the ground of the subway entrance at 42nd Street.
- We got back to Astor Place. I wanted to see if Ben could show me how to get to Avenue A from the subway station. And he did successfully....by walking us down St. Marks Place through thousands of NYU students, punks, tourists, merchants, residents, etc. I asked for it...
- When we got home, we both washed our hands. I nearly burst into tears.
There is just so much fucking humanity you can take in one day.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Wish I could have seen the turkey strapped to the back of Brian's motorbike as he sped across town.
Had a great holiday with my sister Liz and Brian's good friend and fellow bandmember in from LA. He's scoring shows for cartoon network. I never realized they had adult level animation programs after 10 p.m.
I remember 100 years ago when my nights used to begin at 10.
Last night I went with Liz to see the movie Rent.
Yes, there are some quick shots that include our building which thrilled me to no end. The NY Times complained that most of the locations are not accurately identified. Who cares!!? Although I did wonder why they shot the bar 7b as the Life Cafe location. Also the apartment building the characters live in and its outside street scenes are definitely not the east village (and maybe not NYC).
I never saw the musical and thought the movie pretty powerful. I saw it in the Zigfield Theatre in midtown where they have a great sound system.
As far as I'm concerned, it captured the feel of the East Village in the late 80's/early 90's and how AIDs decimated the community one torturous death at a time. Meanwhile the government watched and did nothing.
Brian handles the archives at NYU. It includes a special area dedicated to the artists, performers, writers, and poets of the East Village of the 70's, 80's and early 90's. The majority are dead.
I was working in major gift fundraising for AIDS research at that time. It was so gut wrenching to have doors slammed in your face again and again.
Of course some people didn't slam the door. Which is why my brother in law and his partner are still alive twenty years later.
And we certainly gave thanks for those people of vision and faith on Thursday afternoon as we sat down to feast on turkey in our little pad overlooking Tompkins Square Park.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
So I promise this is the last post about the Christmas Fair. But what can I say? It's a project that dominated my life for six months!!!
God was on our side and provided a beautiful, crispy cold November day.
Decorations for the entrance gates and stone path to the school were an odd conglomeration of Masterpiece Theatre meets the Sopranos. A lovely British mom spent hours decorating the gates with silver sprayed ivy, holly, topiaries and branches. Once through the gates a wonderful New York dad from Queens strategically positioned a towering blow up Frosty the Snowman, a huge flashing "Happy Holidays" sign and a blinking light Santa in a sleigh pointing toward the heavens. A huge collection of fake presents blared loud holiday tunes.
Somehow this cultural car accident helped double our attendance. Go figure.
The fair went beautifully due to everyone's hard work. Many of the parents stopped to tell me that it was fantastic (which was so kind). Last year's fair grossed $27,000. This year we grossed $57,000!!!
And now I will confess my tragic flaw.
I've spend a good chunk of my life achieving things but for some reason it's hard for me to feel it on the inside. I just kind of throw it in a pile behind me with other stuff I've done and move on. I will say that I truly enjoyed the friendship that developed between me and my co-chair Valerie.
Anne Lindburgh was right. It's the journey that counts, not the arrival.
Except when I gave birth to Ben. That day was the beginning of the best thing that ever happened to me.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Mid-November through January is always a difficult time for me. A fellow blogger has a great post about the "anniversary syndrome" that people experience (whether they realize it or not). Some of the toughest experiences in my life happened during this time of the year. There is also something about the season that brings the reality of family dynamics into stark relief.
That's why God invented drugs and alchohol. He just forgot about the addiction part.
For the last seventeen years, I've spent Christmas down south at the well appointed homes of my in-laws in Annapolis and North Carolina. My in-laws are upper class WASPS and would never dream of fighting with each other on the holidays....or any other day. That's what repression is for. And martinis.
My family is more Eugene O'Neil meets Frederico Fellini. A lot of spiraling. A lot of mismatched people trapped in one room. A lot of spaghetti. A lot of noise. A lot of AA.
You get the picture.
This year I'll be staying up here so that Ben can perform in the Christmas Pageant at St. Luke's.
I'm already planning my holiday defense strategy in advance by focusing on the things I love:
1. A huge Christmas Tree
2. Having friends over every weekend in December for coffee and holiday food (I'm kinda good at that)
3. Participating in every cultural event that interests us. Especially traditional holiday music -which I adore (Handel's Messiah and Christmas music from around the world)
4. Seeing the Christmas Pageant and attending services the next morning at St. Luke in the Fields
5. Opening up gifts with Brian and Ben
6. Limited and carefully orchestrated visits with relatives (disclaimer: being Irish/Italian catholics means there are dozens of us. And some relations are actually quite sweet...and some are actually quite crazy)
By the way. Here is the link to the St. Luke's Christmas Fair that I'm co-chairing. Proof that I'm not hallucinating!
St. Luke's Christmas Fair
Friday, November 11, 2005
His birthday is at the end of March. But it isn't just a birthday. It's more like a festival that lasts several days.
There's the classroom party, the extended family party, the official cast of thousands party and then the actual day of his birth party.
The conversation went something like this:
"Mommy, let's talk about my birthday party."
"Okay. What would you like to do for your eighth birthday?"
"Well, I'd like to have a World War I Party"
"Hmmm. How do you see that working?"
"Umm. Everyone could come dressed up from different groups. Some people could be the Allies (France and England), some people could be Germany and some people could be the Austria/Hungarian Empire."
"Well what if kids didn't want to be 'the bad guys'?"
"That's easy, they could be Belgium"
"What would we do for fun? Build a trench?"
(He looks over at me incredulously) "Mommy, it's really hard to dig a trench. But we could do military drills and whoever gets the most medals would be the Ace."
Whatever happened to two hours at the Baseball Center and pizza?
Who does he think I am? George Lucas?
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Thank God for Election Day.
My son had class but I didn't!! Instead I spent all morning at his school walking through the logistics for the Christmas Fair. Now that I'm in the last lap I feel much better. Everything is in place and it just might be really beautiful and fun.
I loved bumping into Ben so many times at school. Like most second grade boys, he's in the thick of gender segregation these days. Even so, Ben ran right up to me and kissed and hugged me every time we met.
I forgot that moms are the third gender.
Later on I had wonderful lunch with my husband. We ate at one of those bland Indian cafes filled with NYU students. But it didn't matter. For some reason I felt taken back to the early days of knowing him. How he managed to be oddly funny, eccentric and a complete gentleman at the same time.
How is it that my husband refuses to age? He looks EXACTLY the same as he did when he was 25. Tall, thick blond hair, not a wrinkle in sight. Everyone comments on it - it's not just me!
There's no justice for the third gender!
Saturday, November 05, 2005
And let's just say that Mommy is to Captain Ahab as Chairing the Christmas Fair is to friggin' Moby Dick. I am submerged in an ocean of baked goods, crafts, raffle tickets and anemic volunteers. The white beast is swimming out there and he has mistletoe stuffed in his spout.
An old friend once said "Sweety, you are a perpetual rescuer of souls." As a young woman of Irish/Italian/Catholic descent, I took that comment as compliment when in fact it was a thoughtful warning.
I need to rescue myself.
Monday, October 24, 2005
It's raining out and finely getting that dank chill in the air that reminds us that November is just around the corner. Why do so many people die in November? That's a pattern I've noticed throughout my life. Maybe it's just this part of the country.
I had a college housemate whose beloved mom died of cancer at a relatively y0ung age. She died on November 7th. Every year since her death, my roommate would automatically lose her voice on that day. I witnessed it twice. It happened like clockwork. Her voice would get raspey the day before and then disappear with the dawn.
My housemate was a very powerful, smart, beautiful woman. I suppose I saw this annual illness as a tribute to her mom. I suppose that her love and grief were so strong it silenced her.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I would be a terrible single mother.
Brian and I split everything down the middle. Careers, childcare, housework, cooking - you name it. Having him gone is like giving up the use of a limb. Sure everything gets done but frequently in a state of triage. I've heard many a mother say things run a bit more smoothly when their husbands are out of town for a few days....frankly I'm doing my best not to have Brian come home to a parched dog skeleton, a runaway son and a wife going to work without her pants on.
I was making Ben's bed a few days ago when I bent down to tuck in the sheets. At that precise moment he rounded the corner into the bedroom. He was making a turbo sound with arms jutting out like airplane wings, pretending to be a World War I "Spitfire" coming in for a landing on the bed. Needless to say my son's knee rammed into my face smashing my nose upward. For five seconds I slipped out of mom mode and started crying from the sudden impact. My son became exptremely upset to see me doubled over in pain. Like all moms, I immediately switched gears assuring him "It's all right. It was just an accident. I'm fine, don't worry..." - as I waited for blood to gush out of my nose.
When you have a son - motherhood is a contact sport.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Brian was at NYU for a few hours so Ben and I ran errands around the neighborhood. We don't usually do that together and it was fun. Of course the fact that our rain marathon finally ended contributed to the good vibes all over the city.
First we bought stuff at an art supply store. Then we went to Whole Foods at Union Square and came across Drew Barrymore every time we turned into a new aisle. It's nice to know we share the same food groups.
We then proceeded to the green market across the street where we bought much needed indian corn, a gord and a miniature pumpkin. Ben immediately started lobbying that we take the extra long bus home so he could stand in the center accordian part when it turns onto Avenue A. It wasn't difficult to cave in on this request. I was loosing circulation in both my hands as I carried four bags and a large plastic art portfolio case that I purchased for Ben's artwork "archives".
Brian and Ben took off for the afternoon on the scooter,while I agreed to walk around with my sister while she went shopping. I spent $240 and I wasn't even three blocks from my house. Sure hope my husband isn't reading this post.
Then I went to the dog run and looked on compassionately as my dog Saki made multiple attempts at mounting Mario - another male dog. Saki is totally into Mario and Mario can't be bothered.
We've all been there.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
It is raining cats and dogs out!
I had such a great wonderful time at the small dog run the other night.
Brian and Ben were en route from my parent’s house outside the city, so I took Saki (our magazine cover dog) to
Although most downtown New Yorkers don’t cook, they love to talk about food and we did so for one hour.
I could kick myself for not having a pencil and paper handy! The recommendations were non-stop. A great taco shack on Avenue B, an even better empanadas shack on 1st Ave and 4th street, the 4th street food coop between 2nd and the Bowery, Madras- a vegetarian Indian restaurant, then a ten minute jag on barbecue that led to a tangential discussion of barbecue in St. Louis and Kansas City (two Midwesterners contributed their insights). The list just went on and on until someone said, “Clinton Bakery is great”. There was dead silence, and then someone said “no, we’re talking about the
For non New Yorkers reading this post, you should know hat
These exchanges remind me how great
Thursday, October 06, 2005
"Put on the news. We are on high terrorist alert! The subway system has been threatened with evidence of specifically planned bombings! Can you find another way home?"
Granted New York is a very provincial town when dealing with its own people. I work up in Morningside Heights - W. 120 street and Broadway area. I live in the East Village on Avenue A. In Manhattan terms, that's kind of like living on earth and working on Pluto.
Sure. I could walk three billion blocks home but it would take me a few hours. I could take a bus or two home and that could take me a few less hours.
But without a subway....I'M SCREWED. I got off the phone and weighed my options. My colleague and I decided to head for the subway and if we freaked out at any point -we'd just jump off at the next stop...assuming nothing exploded before we made that decision.
I called my mom and husband when I got off the subway a few blocks from my house. I could see on my cell phone that my husband already left several messages. I wondered where my brother and sister were (the two who live in my building). Both live alone right now. I wanted them to know someone was concerned about where they were, so I called them at work and pretended to be freaked out but I really just wanted them to know they were loved. Even if someone might not be there to welcome them in the door.
I guess that makes me a crazy Italian mother too.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Ultimately I returned to NYC, my hometown, and I gave birth to a beautiful boy who I actually helped pull out of my own body during delivery (that's another story). When the doctor handed Ben to my husband, he raised him in the air and announced "another Red Sox fan is born".
Having survived hours of labor and natural childbirth, I was too tired to even react to that spontaneous sports baptism. I was far too busy wondering how they'd sew up what sure felt like a tear that started at my vaginal canal and ended somewhere between my shoulder blades.
Of course my son is also a true believer in the Red Sox. I can see that little ulcer starting in his seven year old tummy already. I can't begin to describe the fights he gets into at school about this issue.
One day Ben and I were walking down Hudson Street. Ben was wearing a bright red Sox tee shirt. A middle aged woman walked by and said under her breath - but certainly not out of earshot - "the Red Sox suck".
I was stunned. My son squeezed my hand and looked up at me looking completely insulted and a bit freaked that an adult would say that to him.
Luckily, I'm a very even tempered mommy and never lose my cool in front of my son...I simply looked up at the woman and suggested that she take a flying fuck.
I suppose she set off something in my working class Irish gene pool. Blame it on Darwin or Intelligent Design (which sounds like the name of a Soho contemporary furniture store).
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Going to the Oak Room felt like a trip back to the
It’s such an intimate performance space with the grand piano and mike stand just feet away from the guests. We both ordered cocktails, kicked back and had a wonderful time.
I don’t care how much it cost because my husband’s happiness is worth it. And he was very happy indeed.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
I am a slave to my son's school Christmas Fair. Please make it go away.
Together with another co-chair, I oversee twenty four volunteer committees for this event. November 19th cannot come soon enough. Having a full time job, plus twenty hours of volunteer work a week - not to mention taking care of the house, the husband, and my little boy is a bit too much for the East Village Idiot to handle.
Is it just me or did the national media all meet at Dunkin Donuts this weekend and decide to skip coverage of the march on Washington against the war? hmmmm.
Comrades, welcome to the new world.
It's a heavenly day out. Sunny and mild. My hubby's birthday. He still looks like he's thirty....tall, blond, blue eyed...not a wrinkle or gray hair in sight. Must be those midwestern hardscrabble genes.
Going out to a swanky nightclub to celebrate. Yahoooeeey!!
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
This time last year I bailed out of my "highly successful career trajectory" in the hopes of finally striking a much needed balance between my creative life, my professional life and my family life. Although I've certainly experienced a much welcomed sea change, I still find myself swamped during every waking moment of my day.
Is it possible to experience repressed fatigue syndrome? Perhaps I'm experiencing the neglected exhaustion I had in...say...the summer of 2002.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Forsaken. I’ve been thinking a lot about that word lately.
Have you ever felt drawn into a word as a place to dwell for a time? It’s a useful way to escape when you don’t have time or money for alternatives.
The people of New Orleans were forsaken for days. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are dead. $20 billion zillion dollars after the fact doesn’t bring them back.
It reminds me of living through the first decade of AIDS when bodies fell like acorns off trees in New York and San Francisco. Forsaken acorns – millions more in Africa.
What was that hymn we sang in mass? ...”Whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers, so you do unto me”
If that’s true then Jesus has been taking it over a barrel for quite some time now and frequently in his own name.
Of course, he was forsaken too.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
There's school, after-school programs, full time work, part time writing, working out, pick ups, drop offs, orchestrating every moment of my son’s day, cooking, housework, looking for a new home - it goes on ad infinitum. Somewhere in there I manage to squeeze in sleep, reading, sex and using the bathroom.
Family memberships at New York museums are a sound investment in your sanity. We can bring Ben to MoMa along with a little friend and feel absolutely no frustration as they go zooming from gallery to gallery as they did yesterday, shouting comments like "look at that picture. The guy has a butt on his head!"
The pinnacle of our visit came when Ben realized he left his drawing pad and pen at home. We told him to tough it out and that we’d bring it along next time. That wouldn't be my standard response to a boy that spends half his day drawing but after two hours of playing prison guard, my empathy level was low.
Later he took me aside and with clenched fists and tears in his eyes, he quietly explained his position to me:
“Mommy, I am an artist. I love to draw. I draw all the time. Drawing is what I do. It’s who I am. You can’t bring me here to look at all this art and sculpture and then expect me not to want to draw what I see. I NEED to do that. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?? I can’t stay in the museum if I can’t draw what I see here. That’s who I am!”
“Good Point” I said.
And we split.
As I write this post there is a punk rock show going on in the park lulling me to sleep.
Say a prayer for the souls lost on 9/11 if you have a chance.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
My plans were thwarted.
Today is sunny, mild and beautiful out. I go back to work on Thursday so I can watch Ben until school begins. Per his request, we had lunch down the street at Life Cafe. Over burgers, we had a delightful discussion about the Hoover Dam and ways to create clean energy vehicles. After years of going to that place I just discovered their beautiful little back garden area. How did I manage to miss it all this time?
We proceeded a few doors down to the Tompkins Square Bakery. It's relatively new to the neighborhood ( a few years old). I never went in until today. I like it. It's pretty but not precious. The baker, who was eager to please, promised that she'd make me a special german chocolate cake for my husband's upcoming birthday.
Across the street, a bunch of black and latino catholic school boys were taking their recess in the park, playing kickball with their ties and jackets on. I remember marching down these streets with my plaid kilt and gray blazer on going off to St. Joseph's Academy. I've always believed my high forehead is due to years of my mother pulling my hair back into the tightest ponytail known to girl-kind. Of course, back then the park was filled with hippies, bongos drums and elderly immigrants seated on park benches.
I love the Tompkins Square area. Thank God it's still a mismatched hodge podge of merchants, people and park.
Monday, September 05, 2005
United States of Shame
By MAUREEN DOWD
And when you combine limited government with incompetent government, lethal stuff happens.
America is once more plunged into a snake pit of anarchy, death, looting, raping, marauding thugs, suffering innocents, a shattered infrastructure, a gutted police force, insufficient troop levels and criminally negligent government planning. But this time it's happening in America.
W. drove his budget-cutting Chevy to the levee, and it wasn't dry. Bye, bye, American lives. "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," he told Diane Sawyer.
Shirt-sleeves rolled up, W. finally landed in Hell yesterday and chuckled about his wild boozing days in "the great city" of N'Awlins. He was clearly moved. "You know, I'm going to fly out of here in a minute," he said on the runway at the New Orleans International Airport, "but I want you to know that I'm not going to forget what I've seen." Out of the cameras' range, and avoided by W., was a convoy of thousands of sick and dying people, some sprawled on the floor or dumped on baggage carousels at a makeshift M*A*S*H unit inside the terminal.
Why does this self-styled "can do" president always lapse into such lame "who could have known?" excuses.
Who on earth could have known that Osama bin Laden wanted to attack us by flying planes into buildings? Any official who bothered to read the trellis of pre-9/11 intelligence briefs.
Who on earth could have known that an American invasion of Iraq would spawn a brutal insurgency, terrorist recruiting boom and possible civil war? Any official who bothered to read the C.I.A.'s prewar reports.
Who on earth could have known that New Orleans's sinking levees were at risk from a strong hurricane? Anybody who bothered to read the endless warnings over the years about the Big Easy's uneasy fishbowl.
In June 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, fretted to The Times-Picayune in New Orleans: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
Not only was the money depleted by the Bush folly in Iraq; 30 percent of the National Guard and about half its equipment are in Iraq.
Ron Fournier of The Associated Press reported that the Army Corps of Engineers asked for $105 million for hurricane and flood programs in New Orleans last year. The White House carved it to about $40 million. But President Bush and Congress agreed to a $286.4 billion pork-filled highway bill with 6,000 pet projects, including a $231 million bridge for a small, uninhabited Alaskan island.
Just last year, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials practiced how they would respond to a fake hurricane that caused floods and stranded New Orleans residents. Imagine the feeble FEMA's response to Katrina if they had not prepared.
Michael Brown, the blithering idiot in charge of FEMA - a job he trained for by running something called the International Arabian Horse Association - admitted he didn't know until Thursday that there were 15,000 desperate, dehydrated, hungry, angry, dying victims of Katrina in the New Orleans Convention Center.
Was he sacked instantly? No, our tone-deaf president hailed him in Mobile, Ala., yesterday: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
It would be one thing if President Bush and his inner circle - Dick Cheney was vacationing in Wyoming; Condi Rice was shoe shopping at Ferragamo's on Fifth Avenue and attended "Spamalot" before bloggers chased her back to Washington; and Andy Card was off in Maine - lacked empathy but could get the job done. But it is a chilling lack of empathy combined with a stunning lack of efficiency that could make this administration implode.
When the president and vice president rashly shook off our allies and our respect for international law to pursue a war built on lies, when they sanctioned torture, they shook the faith of the world in American ideals.
When they were deaf for so long to the horrific misery and cries for help of the victims in New Orleans - most of them poor and black, like those stuck at the back of the evacuation line yesterday while 700 guests and employees of the Hyatt Hotel were bused out first - they shook the faith of all Americans in American ideals. And made us ashamed.
Who are we if we can't take care of our own?
What does surprise us: Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!” Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.
Angry Lady, whoever you are, we love you. You are a true American, and we’ll go shoe shopping with you anytime
Friday, September 02, 2005
please read these blog entries for yourself from a local new orleans station
Thursday, September 01, 2005
AUSTIN, Texas -- Like many of you who love New Orleans, I find myself taking short mental walks there today, turning a familiar corner, glimpsing a favorite scene, square or vista. And worrying about the beloved friends and the city, and how they are now.
To use a fine Southern word, it's tacky to start playing the blame game before the dead are even counted. It is not too soon, however, to make a point that needs to be hammered home again and again, and that is that government policies have real consequences in people's lives.
This is not "just politics" or blaming for political advantage. This is about the real consequences of what governments do and do not do about their responsibilities.And about who winds up paying the price for those policies. This is a column for everyone in the path of Hurricane Katrina who ever said, "I'm sorry, I'm just not interested in politics," or, "There's nothing I can do about it," or, "Eh, they're all crooks anyway." Nothing to do with me, nothing to do with my life, nothing I can do about any of it.
Look around you this morning. I suppose the NRA would argue, "Government policies don't kill people, hurricanes kill people." Actually, hurricanes plus government policies kill people. One of the main reasons New Orleans is so vulnerable to hurricanes is the gradual disappearance of the wetlands on the Gulf Coast that once stood as a natural buffer between the city and storms coming in from the water. The disappearance of those wetlands does not have the name of a political party or a particular administration attached to it. No one wants to play, "The Democrats did it," or, "It's all Reagan's fault."
Many environmentalists will tell you more than a century's interference with the natural flow of the Mississippi is the root cause of the problem, cutting off the movement of alluvial soil to the river's great delta. But in addition to long-range consequences of long-term policies like letting the Corps of Engineers try to build a better river than God, there are real short-term consequences, as well. It is a fact that the Clinton administration set some tough policies on wetlands, and it is a fact that the Bush administration repealed those policies -- ordering federal agencies to stop protecting as many as 20 million acres of wetlands.
Last year, four environmental groups cooperated on a joint report showing the Bush administration's policies had allowed developers to drain thousands of acres of wetlands. Does this mean we should blame Bush for the fact that New Orleans is underwater? No,but it means we can blame Bush when a Class 3 or Class 2 hurricane puts New Orleans under. At this point, it is a matter of making a bad situation worse, of failing to observe the First Rule of Holes (when you're in one, stop digging).
Had a storm the size of Katrina just had the grace to hold off for a while, it's quite likely no one would even remember what the Bush administration did two months ago. The national press corps has the attention span of a gnat, and trying to get anyone in Washington to remember longer than a year ago is like asking them what happened in Iznik, Turkey, in A.D. 325. Just plain political bad luck that, in June, Bush took his little ax and chopped $71.2 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, a 44 percent reduction. As was reported in New Orleans CityBusiness at the time, that meant"major hurricane and flood projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now."
The commander of the Corps' New Orleans district also immediately instituted a hiring freeze and cancelled the annual Corps picnic. Our friends at the Center for American Progress note the Office of Technology Assessment used to produce forward-thinking plans such as "Floods: A National Policy Concern" and "A Framework for Flood Hazards Management." Unfortunately, the office was targeted by Newt Gingrich and the Republican right, and gutted years ago. In fact, there is now a government-wide movement away from basing policy on science,expertise and professionalism, and in favor of choices based on ideology. If you're wondering what the ideological position on flood management might be, look at the pictures of New Orleans -- it seems to consist of gutting the programs that do anything.
Unfortunately, the war in Iraq is directly related to the devastation left by the hurricane. About 35 percent of Louisiana's National Guard is now serving in Iraq,where four out of every 10 soldiers are guardsmen. Recruiting for the Guard is also down significantly because people are afraid of being sent to Iraq if they join,leaving the Guard even more short-handed. The Louisiana National Guard also notes that dozens of its high-water vehicles,humvees, refuelers and generators have also been sent abroad. (I hate to be picky,but why do they need high-water vehicles in Iraq?) This, in turn, goes back to the original policy decision to go into Iraq without enough soldiers and the subsequent failure to admit that mistake and to rectify it by instituting a draft.
The levees of New Orleans, two of which are now broken and flooding the city, were also victims of Iraq war spending. Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, said on June 8, 2004, "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq." This, friends, is why we need to pay attention to government policies, not political personalities, and to know whereon we vote. It is about our lives.
(c) 2005 Creators Syndicate
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Everything was fabulous on Sunday until later that evening when I got wind of the fact that New Orleans was about to be submerged by a hurricane of biblical proportions.
My husband just returned from New Orleans last weekend. I thank God that he was not down there in the chaos. As a professional musician for years, he played all over that area and was terrified for the poverty stricken communities along the gulf coast.
I’m still unclear what measures the government took to remove the poor, elderly and car-less people from the area. It seems that if you didn’t have money and a car you were out of luck.
Some people didn’t want to leave their pets to die. Emergency centers couldn’t allow them in. Sad.
I don’t know why it brings me back to 9/11 but it does. God have mercy on all of the suffering people down there.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Also known as the day before my birthday. As the sun goes down on August 27th, people all over the northeast coast begin their Ellen Eve rituals of making mischief as Ellen does all year long. Some practices include:
1. making long lists of things to do and never getting them done.
2. trying desperately to fit into a pair of size 6 pants that never did and never will get past your ass.
3. totally missing in their entirety the Star Wars epic, any reality tv or talent show series, spinning, various high strung yoga practices and any Disney movies in the last fifteen years.
4. having sex while praying to God that your seven year old son doesn't wander into your room in the middle of the night to discuss steam train engines.
5. pretending you still have things like a memory, an attention span and a social life
I have difficulty sorting through my summer vacation pictures because we do the same things in the same place over and over again. My only time indicator is Benjamin growing faster than a vine each year.
So far we’ve had eight sunny days with beautiful sunsets. Each morning we usually climb down the dunes of Longnook Beach for a few hours of hippie dippie fun by the ocean. Should I be happy or concerned that we see seals along the shore more and more each year?
Then it’s home for a simple lunch. Afterwards we go our separate ways to goof off (write, draw, play guitar, bike, hone our action hero skills). In mid afternoon we go to the bay beaches where the water is much calmer and Benjamin sometimes finds a friend or two to play with.
A few nights a week we go into Wellfleet to visit used book stores and eat ice cream by the pier. In Provincetown we walk down Commercial Street and check out the drag queens promoting their night club acts in the center of town. East end on Commercial you’ll find most of the great art galleries, west end leans more toward food, gift shops and tea dances.
Sometimes I see a version of myself walking down these same streets twenty years ago. A very different girl with a very different agenda – to say the least. She had something to smile about and so do I – some of the happiness overlaps and some doesn't.
I do miss my total lack of inhibition back then as well as my hopefulness and infatuation with life. Children reawaken that in you – if you let them.
My son is drunk with life….I have this weird feeling he’ll grow up to be Warren Beatty.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Of course I'm still Benjamin's beach roadie, carrying various juices, snacks, floating devices, action figures, shovels, buckets, books, drawing pads, baseball mits/balls, red sox caps, towels, sun tan lotion, bug spray and a sesame street fold out chair - - you know, just the bare essentials.
As for me. I've got a bathing suit, a book, a sarong and sandals. That's all I really need to be happy when I'm up here.
We rented an historic home on a hill that has a beautiful view of Cape Cod Bay and Provincetown. Henry David Thoreau stayed here in 1855. It's cool to be sleeping in the same bedroom he did. This house is far more Bloomsbury than Puritan. Lots of art, old carpets, weathered antique furniture. But you can still feel the sea in every room. Heaven.
Oh God...I just realized this is my 33rd summer here. I'm too young to qualify for a statistic like that!
Friday, August 19, 2005
We walked over to Alphabet Scoops on East 11th Street between Ave A and B. It's a small ice cream shop affiliated with Father's Heart Ministries located next door.
According to their flyers, the profits from the scoop shop are reinvested in an array of community service projects run by the ministry - food pantry, assistance to the ill and elderly and support of KidsZone (helping teens get job training and support). All the kids working at the scoop shop are recruited and trained from the KidsZone program - they've all been a pleasure to meet and take great pride in making and serving the ice cream. So far there is no evidence that the ministry does anything that would scare the hell out of me.
I love ice cream. Chocolate chip ice cream is right up there with air conditioning on my "proof of God" list.
So Ben, Saki (our dog) and I leave Alphabet Scoops and go for a leisurely walk through Tompkins Square Park. I start to notice how many men have commented on how great my ice cream cone looks - so I'm standing there directing everyone to Alphabet Scoops and feeling like a good citizen. By the time our little stroll through the park is over I look down and notice that my boxy linen shirt is wide open and totally unbuttoned - exposing my very boring pink bra to the public.
I gasped and asked Ben "how long has mommy's shirt been open?"
He looked up from his cone and said "I don't know...a while I guess. Mommy, I don't really notice girl things like that."
Well neither does anyone else in this neighborhood.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
I was so close to going over to Masturbakers and buying her a cake shaped like two boobies but I restrained myself. I hate when I restrain myself.
My father-in-law and his wife were both diagnosed with cancer about two weeks ago. He has severe prostate cancer and she has a rare and aggressive form of cancer called serous (UPSC). Both are relatively young and in otherwise excellent shape. They live in Annapolis so we’ll be going down there often until things stabilize.
I will be 43 on August 28th.
All we really have is today. People dealing with illness help us to remember that.
Let’s love each other and laugh as much as we can.
Monday, August 15, 2005
I'm blessed to be living in my most favorite place in the world. Not just New York City, but in the East Village on a street that faces Tompkins Square Park. Regardless of what the cynics say it’s still a place where you can let your freak flag fly. I’m not referring to the young, hip, perky breasted crowd. I mean EVERYONE (let your imagination go where it will).
So it's with tears in my eyes that I must accept what I learned earlier today. I'll be vacationing up in the Truro/Provincetown area when the Howl Festival and Wigstock Celebration kick into gear from August 21 to 28th. All of this hoopla will be culminating on my birthday weekend no less! Granted I’ll have my opportunity to be entertained by drag queens in Ptown but it just won’t be the same as decorating my own wig and taking part in the hometown festivities. It's like missing the friggin' county fair!!
I encourage everyone to come down to Tompkins Square Park and check it out. Throughout the week performances will also be going on at many of the area clubs, theatres and performances spaces as well.
I love the day before the festival when they begin to build wooden frames along the outside gates of Tompkins Square Park. They then stretch a huge canvas around the outside of the ENTIRE park and have scores of area artists come and paint sections of it the next day. There’s even a section for kids to paint (in addition to a kiddie disco dance party). And of course you can’t miss Lady Bunny and the star studded performances of Wigstock on and off the stage!!!
Please go….for the both of us.
Friday, August 12, 2005
It’s my air conditioner. I love it. I love it more than I love some of my friends. It’s something I never take for granted and praise the glory of each time I return from the hot and stinkin’ city streets into my little cool apartment.
Secretly, I’ve often thought that time should be measured Before Air Conditioning and After Air Conditioning.
I once had a brief relationship with someone who chose not to have an air conditioner. It wasn’t a question of money or weather. He just never got around to it. It was at that precise moment that I knew we could never have a future together.
There are some things in life you can’t compromise on. Air conditioning is one of them.
I’ve never had central air conditioning but I’m hopeful that if I continue to be a good person and serve others as best I can – I may just arrive on that heavenly shore.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
I'm 42 years old and still a sucker for NASA. Watching the space ship/plane/thing pop through the earth's atmosphere and land safely in California blew my mind. Guess I drank too much Tang as a kid.
I dragged my seven year old son Ben out of bed to witness the grand finale of this outerspace odyssey. He looked on as if he was watching a Delta 747 coming in from Orlando - interested, mildly curious and fully confident that the landing would be perfectly executed. He probably assumes that R2D2 was overseeing NASA's master control room.
Astronauts and surfers are cool.