Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Long time no blog

Sorry folks. It's official.

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

Strawberry Fields

If I suffered from a multiple personality disorder would I feel less exhausted at the end of the day?

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


To give up (something formerly held dear); renounce: left entirely

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

Screw Prozac - Where's the Xanax?

When you live in New York there isn’t much time to slip back into your daily routine after vacation. Basically the city kicks your ass back into gear – and it’s usually a high one.

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

Alpha and Omega

I returned yesterday from my super sonic seventeen days of hippie dippie summerfest by the sea all ready to finally hate New York City and prepare for my family's immediate escape.

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

Stuff Happens

September 3, 2005
United States of Shame
Stuff happens.

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?

When in Doubt - Go Shopping!!

According to Drudge, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently enjoyed a little Broadway entertainment. And Page Six reports that she’s also working on her backhand with Monica Seles. So the Gulf Coast has gone all Mad Max, women are being raped in the Superdome, and Rice is enjoying a brief vacation in New York. We wish we were surprised.

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

Homeland Security

4:55 A.M. - Refugee Alan Gould spoke to CNN from inside the New Orleans Convention Center. He said sick, eldery and children are dying and children have been beaten and raped. He pleaded for help.

please read these blog entries for yourself from a local new orleans station


Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Orleans: It's about us / Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins - Creators Syndicate 09.01.05 -

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