Sunday, November 30, 2008
I'll be heading back to Los Angeles in a week. I've decided to let Continental Airlines do the flying. I'll just fasten my seat belt and enjoy the ride.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Today was to be our shortest day in miles and wound up being one of our longest days in time. Blame it on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Blame it on that clearing at the foot of Peak of Otter. Blame it on the closed for the season visitors' center where we sat watching a white tailed deer leap out of the trees and into the clearing. Blame it on the half frozen pond or on the snow along the road. Blame it on the trees and the biting cold air. Blame it on the mountains of leaves crunching under our feet as we walked along a path.
We threw away the schedule today. Instead of driving near the mountains we drove in them. Instead of looking at pictures of the Blue Ridge Mountains, we took our own. Instead of arriving at today's destination well before twilight, we got here well after dark.
No one noticed that we were late. And if we noticed, we didn't care.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Nevertheless, he's always ready for a romp at the Visitor's Center at the home of the Tennessee Smokey baseball team or a sniff around a rest stop that for all the world looks like a park.
And here he is in the heart of Civil War country. We passed the Shiloh memorial and he didn't even blink. Chances are he is not up on human history, especially the less attractive chapters.
Tomorrow we will travel a few miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We'll roll the windows down so all of us can breathe in the air and the memory of one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
This morning I remembered the Boris gift box untouched in the trunk and decided to check the car's oil. Several minutes of dip stick study convinced me that we were at least a quart low. No problem. Just unscrew the oil cap and put in one of the Boris quarts. Except that neither one of us could get the cap off.
Oh well. We needed gas, anyway. So through the heavy fog we drove the ninety yards or so to the Exxon station. Proximity to expertise did not remove the oil cap. The man at the pump next to us seemed friendly. I asked for his opinion regarding this recalcitrant cap. He didn't even smirk as he just lifted it off.
"It's just a half turn, then lift. These things are tricky." Because of his kind manner, I didn't feel at all foolish.
After we poured the new quart in and replaced the cap, our new friend came over and made sure one quart was sufficient. It was.
While all this was going on, a man limped his way to the car at the pump in back of ours.
"Can you get by me?" I asked him.
He smiled and assured me that he had all the room in the world. It was his knees that were the problem.
His wife joined him and they explained that they were driving from Memphis to Dallas for Thanksgiving with family.
"We're headed to Memphis," I added feeling not quite prepared for this type of by the road visiting but beginning to enjoy it.
By the time his knees were working and he had painfully climbed into the car, I had pulled our car into a parking place so we could buy a quart of oil to replace the gift oil.
The man and woman waved and shouted, "Happy Thanksgiving!"
Within minutes we six -- the man at the other pump, the man and woman from Memphis, and the three of us -- had driven in different directions into the fog.
Sometimes even the briefest encounters can leave lasting and fond memories.
That's the way it was in the heavy fog of Mt. Pleasant, Texas.
When the fog lifted, the landscape of East Texas and Arkansas was green fields, rolling hills and trees, trees and trees in a variety of autumn colors. The dog was awestruck. So were we.
I somehow believed that we had to have a traditional turkey dinner, and we tracked one down at Cracker Barrel in East Memphis, Arkansas, just before crossing the Mississippi River into Tennessee. Driving to Nashville in darkness, we could only imagine the beauty of the roadside scenery. Tomorrow, on to the Blue Ridge Mountains into Virginia.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The empty, boarded stores tell the story of so many towns in West Texas where the economy is as bleak as the landscape.
When West Texas ends, though, the mood and the reality also change. The change is dramatic.
Abilene, Texas, is another world from Pecos and Odessa. In Abilene the streets are lined with flower boxes containing not the plastic flowers of Pecos but colorful vegetables -- cabbage and cauliflower and broccoli and chard.
The streets are clean, the stores are busy, and energy seems to seep out of the city's every cell.
Take, for example, Harold's World Famous Pit Bar B Q.
When in Texas, we were told, you must have Texas Bar B Q. Where better to have that than Abilene, we thought.
And so it was that we wound up at Harold's World Famous Pit Bar B Q. Harold's would be off the beaten path except that, in Abilene, most of the paths lead right there. The dirt parking lot was full. The line wound through the restaurant and outside. Harold's is open Tuesday through Saturday from eleven in the morning until two thirty in the afternoon or until the food is gone. The line begins to form at around ten. We waited in line for over an hour. Harold himself was behind the counter cutting the brisket and pouring the sauce.
Harold's family worked with him serving beans and hot water jalapeno corn bread and Cole slaw and emptying trash and generally keeping people happy while they waited and waited and waited. The man behind us, who comes to Harold's as often as he can which is apparently about every other day, said that at Harold's a person learned patience.
In Abilene people are willing to wait in line and visit with old friends and eat a great meal in a hole in the wall cafe that just happens to be world famous.
Abilene isn't that far from Pecos in miles but those miles put it in a different world.
Interstates mean deliberate exits to visit places like Odessa. There's no such thing anymore as just pulling over into a parking space and looking around.
Odessa seems like a lot of borrowed stuff. In 1881 Russian railroad workers named this wide, flat prairie bend in the road Odessa after the city in their homeland. Apparently the plains of Russia and the plains of Texas look alike.
Odessa also boasts of a replica of Shakespeare's original playhouse.
We exited for Odessa but not because we wanted to see if the place really looked like Russia or because we wanted to see the playhouse replica.
We got off the Interstate and went to Odessa to see the 8 foot tall Odessa Jackrabbit statue. We had some trouble finding it. Odessa is full of rabbit statues. None of the ones we saw, though, seemed tall enough to fit the bill. So we pulled into a convenience store to ask for directions to the real, the 8 foot tall, Jackrabbit statue.
The woman behind the counter of the 7/11 had few teeth. When I asked her about the statue of the 8 foot tall Jackrabbit, her smile was as broad and as barren as the Texas plain on which she had spent her entire life.
Folks in Odessa are pretty proud of that rabbit.
For the third annual Odessa rodeo the event's organizers thought it would be a good idea to have an event called 'Jackrabbit Roping'. The citizens of Odessa thought the idea was terrible.
So, instead of Jackrabbits being roped at rodeos in Odessa, the town is full of statues of Jackrabbits.
This particular statue really is eight feet tall.
We spent over an hour in Odessa looking for and admiring the statue.
As this road trip winds down in Brooklyn in a few days we might consider the notion that the barrenness of West Texas compels people to do some pretty interesting things. Sometimes folks even get off the Interstate, spend a hour of precious travel time looking for an 8 foot tall rabbit statue, and feel pretty good when they find it.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Whether that particular story is true, the towns of Southern New Mexico and Western Texas tell the tales of dangers and massacres and growths and declines.
Pecos, Texas, is the largest town in Reeves County. It's on the west bank of the Pecos River. The 2000 census lists its population as a little over nine thousand. At that time it was a regional commercial center for ranching, oil and gas production and for agriculture. Pecos claims to have been the first city in this country to host a rodeo -- July 4, 1883.
Today the main street of Pecos is lined with empty buildings. Broken glass makes the emptiness seem sad and forever. By eight in the evening the streets are empty.
Rooms at the Knights Inn, however, reflect not a depressed town but its finest hospitality. The wireless Internet is free. Artificial trees and flowers fill the rooms which are huge and clean.
Pecos may have empty stores and broken windows. It's spirit, however, at least at the Knights Inn is one of generous attention to detail.
Monday, November 24, 2008
We've driven to Tucson many times before, we three travelers. Each mile has a memory and its own joy or, in the case of the Courtesy Coffee Shops's closing minutes before our arrival, its own disappointment. Such is the story of roads previously traveled.
Tomorrow begins on this road trip a long stretch of road new to all of us. There are no memories attached except the ones we make for ourselves for this first time journey.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The road was hit at four. That's afternoon not morning. First stop was Blythe, California.
Blythe is the brunt of a lot of jokes and none of them flattering to Blythe. Blythe in the middle of the summer is nothing to joke about. Blythe in the middle of summer is just a place to fill up the tank if you're desperate and leave as quickly as possible.
Blythe in November is quite lovely. Well, that may be hyperbole but Blythe in November isn't half bad.
The Courtesy Coffee Shop closes at eight on Sunday evenings. We didn't know that. Last year we had both dinner and breakfast at the Courtesy Coffee Shop. It was for sale then. On our return trip, so impressed were we with the Courtesy Coffee Shop, we stopped for lunch there. The Courtesy Coffee Shop almost one year later is still for sale. Still run by the original owners, the staff was hoping it wouldn't sell so they could keep things just the same. Of course, things can never be kept just the same. Those original owners are tired of the long hours and endless responsibility.
But it closed at eight and we walked to the front door at a few minutes after eight. Maybe tomorrow morning we'll catch up on the sale status over breakfast. Maybe not. Life in Blythe can be pretty unpredictable.
The Sizzler up the street stays open until nine. The Sizzler, then, it was. We closed the place down.
People in Blythe are across the board friendly. Maybe they have to try harder to convince people that summer nights in the high one hundred twenties isn't all Blythe has to offer.
In my former life in California, I was laden with keys. I had keys to my house, keys to my partner's house, keys to my car and keys to my workplace. Now I live in New York. My office building has 24 hour security and no one needs a key. My housemates keep the back door unlocked all day until all of us are home at night. I do have a house key, but I don't carry it. My California house is rented out and my car has been in California, mostly in the repair shop, since I've been gone. It occurred to me after I'd been there about two weeks. No keys. No car to park, no dog to walk, no responsibility. I wake up and someone's already made coffee. I come home from work and someone's made dinner.
Well that's all over, now. I have flown home and we are now going to drive back to New York to bring the dog and set up the new apartment. No more keyless life. My keys are on my belt, as they have been for most of the last thirty years. It was a nice break, but now it's back to responsibility.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Another road trip. I love them.
Earlier today I boldly stated that I had never seen Ohio in daylight. Then I immediately retracted the statement because I have flown into Ohio and spent at least a long weekend there. You know. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and all.
That's doesn't count, though, in the world of the road trip. I won't be seeing Ohio at night this go around because we're taking the Southern route. How often, really, do you get to take a large dog to Graceland? That's not a rhetorical question.
Halfway through the AAA Trip Tik the creator of said tool reversed the page directions. I had us going back and forth between El Paso and Pecos at least a dozen times before I suspected something was off.
Let's hope I'm not the full time navigator.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Doesen't this seem familiar - like some of the rhetoric from the politicians we've been subjected to recently? Maybe they're all a bunch of turkeys too, verbally slaughtering one another!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Five women gathered in our kitchen and mixed, kneaded, braided, prayed and baked. Two other women baked in solidarity with us in California. As far as we know, Shelley's friend is still hanging in there, and Shelley was very much comforted by the act. We're still eating the challah. What a good custom. I'm glad I heard of it.
That's okay. I went to their website. Luckily for me I have not 'bundled' otherwise I'd probably be unable to access the Internet, too. On the AT&T website I easily located the 'got problems' tab. After giving essential information and tabbing along through cyberspace for several minutes I came to an absolutely astonishing page. AT&T was telling me how to go to their box (located near my electrical meter, or in my basement, or down the street somewhere), open their box, unplug stuff, plug in stuff, and do all sorts of things in order to determine the nature of my problem. AT&T was telling me how to do its job.
If my cell phone doesn't work, I go to Verizon and get another. I do not receive instructions on cell phone repair.
If I can ever contact AT&T, I'm going to cancel my land line.
Of course, such a cancellation will doubtless require my taking special classes in order to learn the correct way to dump AT&T.
In the meantime, don't bother to call me.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
People are hungry. Adults and children in this country don't have enough to eat.
Few people these days have discretionary income sufficient for large, charitable contributions. It's amazing, though, how much help a little can provide. A package of dried beans, a can of tuna, a box of powdered milk a week given to a food bank adds up when enough of us contribute.
Indications are that the terrible fire in Santa Barbara County was started by a single ember from a campfire not quite extinguished and that the fire in Yorba Linda was started by one spark from an automobile. One ember and one spark destroyed so much. So much devastation contained in those ones.
One box of macaroni and cheese or one can of soup have power of their own. Given one at a time, those ones add up and have the power to feed if not an entire country then at least thirty or so million people.
Here's something to think about. Hasn't the reported profits of some oil companies been the greatest in years? That makes me believe the oil companies need to step in here and bailout the Big 3. After all, it would be in their best interest. If we don't have cars, then there won't be such a big demand for gas.
It's time for someone to take control and teach the Big 3 how to run their businesses. We need to stop the CEO's and their staffs from filling their pockets at the expense of American citizens. Haven't they learned from Toyota and Honda, to name a few?
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I anticipate that there will be more gatherings pushing to have this horrible discriminatory proposition (Yes On 8) overturned by the state or federal supreme court as unconstitutional. It is not okay to deprive our inalienable rights to a part of the population. The history of the world and this country has shown this sort of discrimination over and over. I'd like to think we've learned that when we discriminate against one group, we discriminate against everyone. Who's next?
I hope you will find ways to support the ongoing efforts to get the proposition (the Yes on 8) overturned. And please try to find a way to join me for the next rally.
Power and love to the people.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
This is Southern California when the weather is hot and the humidity low and those Santa Ana winds arrive like evil spirits.
Part of my childhood was spent in the shadow of Diamond Butte. We could sit on our front porch, look across Spring Creek, and peep like toms into the big butte's other world.
One hot summer afternoon we watched as thunderheads gathered in that across the creek other world. We hoped they would save their rain until they got to our side of the creek.
Sipping sun tea, we saw the other world's sky turn black. Angry lightning bolts shot from the heavens toward the butte until one finally made contact. It hit a tree. Probably a juniper or a pinon. Instantly the tree became a torch. The flames spread up and down and across Diamond Butte's southern face.
I was too young to worry that the fire might travel down the butte and toward us. Those things couldn't happen.
Our parents, though, seemed to shift uneasily in their chairs. Our father set his glass of tea on the floor and stood as though added height would provide greater safety.
We were transfixed by the spreading flames. Soon even I began to suspect that this was no ordinary event. I was the last to stand.
The thunderheads suddenly opened to release their cargo. Summer rain slammed into the side of Diamond Butte. In seconds steam rose to welcome the rain. The fires were out.
Our father sat back down and picked up his tea. We did the same.
In less that five minutes we had seen lightning strike a tree, the tree burst into flames, the fire spread, and the rains extinguish the blaze.
Sometimes we don't have to leave home to witness a miracle.
This morning I came across quite a startling oxymoron. In the checkout line of some store or other, I reached into the cooler case to impulsively buy a bottle of water lest dehydration claim me as its own before I got home. Instead of the water bottle, I grabbed the bottle next to it. I had been distracted by a variety of headlines on the magazine rack above the cooler. Apparently Brad is at his wit's end. Michelle Obama is angry at Oprah. Angelina is not a favorite person of Jen's. So engrossed was I by the intensity of the tabloid drama I didn't even notice that I was not buying water until the bottle was in the hand of the check out person and about to be scanned.
I shrieked, "Oh, no!" and grabbed the bottle away from the startled clerk.
Completely transfixed, I held the bottle in front of me, appalled and intrigued by my almost purchase.
Diet Coke Plus.
Plus what besides chemicals sufficient to instantly eat corrosion off of an automobile battery? I held up the check out line to more closely peruse the label. It claimed that, in addition to corrosive chemicals, the drink contained vitamins and minerals. I wanted to know more. The people behind me in the check out line had begun to clear their throats and shuffle their feet. A baby had begun to scream. Even though I doubted the baby screamed at me, I did the polite thing. I bought the Coke.
I'm glad I bought it because I now have time to share the ingredients directly from the label: carbonated water, magnesium sulfate, caramel color, phosphoric acid, potassium sorbate and potassium benzoate (to protect taste), aspartame, natural flavors, acesulfame potassium, caffeine, zinc gluconate, niacinamide (vitamin B3), pyridoxine hydrochloriide (vitamin B6), cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12) and phenylketonurics.
Aside from possibly the carbonated water, none of that stuff sounds good. If it were on the menu of even an awful restaurant, I wouldn't order it.
It does appear that the product contains, as claimed, vitamins and possibly even some minerals. Doubtless so does dirt.
I've had a grease spot on my garage floor for some time. Just for fun, I poured my drink on that spot. The result was even more astonishing that the drink's indirect claim to be healthy. What scrubbing and cat litter and wire brushes couldn't do, my Coke could. The grease spot is gone apparently vaporized by the harmless chemicals in the drink.
My only remaining question is, "What keeps the stuff from eating through its plastic bottle?"
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
One man wore a business suit and held a worn briefcase in his right hand.
The other man wore patched, dirty clothes. His hair was long and uncombed and matted. He held on tightly to the handles of his shopping cart which was full of black plastic bags and newspapers and unidentifiable scraps of metal. Eight small American flags on wooden pieces of doweling -- held to the metal frame of the cart by duct tape -- waved in the breeze.
The 'walk' icon appeared and the men quickly finished their conversation.
The man wearing the business suit crossed to the other side with the light and continued on his way.
The man wearing for all intents and purposes rags, pushed his shopping cart off of the curb and walked into the opposing traffic. Going against the light, he challenged fate. Cars braked quickly. Tires squealed on the asphalt.
Neither man gave the other a second glance as though this, their morning ritual, always played itself out in predictable patterns.
Perhaps the man dressed for business had once pushed his own shopping cart wearing rags and a smile. And perhaps the man crossing the street against the light had once worn a business suit and carried his own brief case.
And perhaps -- just perhaps -- neither man had forgotten how quickly roles can reverse.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
"I wrote this song after a short and very sobering tour round one of the vast military cemeteries in Northern France. There were a lot of Willie McBrides buried there... "
November 11th was originally called Armistice Day, and celebrated the end of World War I. It only became Veterans' Day in the United States, honoring the veterans of all wars, after World War II. This song sums up the horrors and repercussions of all wars, but it is written about World War I. On this Veterans/Armistice Day, let's hope that the world someday learns the lessons it comes to teach. The lyrics follow:
Well, how'd you do, Private Willie McBride,
D'you mind if I sit down here by your graveside?
I'll rest for awhile in the warm summer sun,
Been walking all day, Lord, and I'm nearly done.
I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the glorious fallen in 1916,
I hope you died quick and I hope you died "clean,"
Or, Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene?
CHORUS:And did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
Did they beat the drum slowly, did they sound the fife lowly?
Did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered ye down?
Did the bugles sing "The Last Post" in chorus?
Did the pipes play the "Flowers O' The Forest"?
In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined?
And, though you died back in 1916,
To that loyal heart are you ever nineteen?
Or are you a stranger, without even a name,
Forever enshrined behind some glass pane,
In an old photograph, torn and tattered and stained,
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame?
Well, the sun's shining down on these green fields of France;
The warm wind blows gently, the red poppies dance.
The trenches have vanished long under the plow;
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
But here in this graveyard it's still No Man's Land;
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man.
And a whole generation who were butchered and damned.
And I can't help but wonder now, Willie McBride,
Do all those who lie here know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you "the cause?"
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame,
The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain,
For Willie McBride, it's all happened again,
And again, and again, and again, and again.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Throughout her life my mother had only one President. Whenever she spoke of The President she absolutely was not referring to whatever man was currently sitting in the Oval Office. Franklin D. Roosevelt died months before my mother celebrated her twenty-seventh birthday. She'd seen him once when trains still carried people and presidents throughout the country. His train made a whistle stop in her small town of Wickenburg, Arizona. Doubtless just about everyone who lived in Wickenburg and its surrounding hills and deserts gathered at the Santa Fe Depot that day. My mother remembered in vivid detail The President standing on the platform at the back of the train -- at the back of his car.
"He waved to us. And he smiled."
Surely a man waving to a crowd and smiling could not have engendered such a life long loyalty. Perhaps it wasn't his waving to the crowd, after all. Maybe it was what he did for the whole country and -- as my mother felt -- for her and her family in particular. You see, my mother knew the Great Depression first hand. When my mother was fourteen years old -- in 1932 -- my grandfather died after a long illness. My mother was the youngest of seven children. She summed up that period as going abruptly from being poor to having nothing at all. She learned a lot of ways of cooking eggplant so that it looked almost but not quite like meat. She never lost the knack of always managing to cook up something out of nothing. She never forgot what it was like to lose everything. And she never forgot what her President did for her family and serendipitously for the rest of the country.
Here's what I'm thinking now. If my mother were alive, she might be on the verge of considering the possibility that this country is about to inaugurate another President.
I think she'd like that.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
While he raked he sang a song of contentment and joy. As I approached, our eyes met. I stopped walking. He stopped raking. His smile was infectious. I smiled back.
"You know you want to jump in them," he said.
He wasn't asking me. He was telling me. I was caught.
"Maybe not jump in them," I managed to reply. "Maybe just walk through them."
He gestured for me to proceed.
"But halfway through if you feel like jumping, please don't hesitate."
Halfway through I did feel like jumping. I also felt like scattering them all over the yard and the sidewalk and the street. I felt like grabbing handfuls and throwing them into the air and standing perfectly still while they rained down on my head.
I neither jumped nor threw. I did, however, listen very carefully to sounds of raked leaves crunching under my feet.
On the other side of my leaf crossing, I turned to look at the man.
"You could have done a whole lot more," he said.
"There's always more we could have done."
"I suppose so," he said and returned to raking and to his quiet song of contentment.
Two complete strangers spent a few minutes on a Sunday afternoon enjoying the simplest of life's pleasures.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
So naturally the person in the car behind me -- also waiting to make a right turn -- began honking at me so incessantly that the behemoth human looked down at me -- literally -- shrugged his shoulders and laughed. While delightful, that nonverbal communication in no way informed me as to whether or not I could safely make a right turn on my red light.
I decided to wait out the light despite the incessant honking coming from the car behind me. Our light did turn green and I made my right turn. That wasn't good enough, apparently, for the honker who pulled up beside me. I refused to make eye contact despite the continued honking. Then the driver pulled in back of me and continued honking. I began to worry that I had become one of those around the campfire horror story characters. Perhaps there was a dark stranger hovering behind me wielding a knife or a chainsaw or water balloons. Maybe the honking driver was only trying to save my life. I changed lanes just to see what would happen. The honker changed lanes, too. This was getting pretty stupid. When the honker again pulled into the lane beside me, I made eye contact just to bring the drama to a close. I got the requisite finger and the wordless curse. I blew the driver a kiss and mouthed the words, "I love you, too." Apparently that was too much to bear and the driver gunned the engine onto a freeway ramp. Luckily it was a ramp for entering and not exiting. I certainly wished the driver no ill will just better manners.
I guess everything worked out okay. The driver only blasted me with words and fingers. There were no other weapons involved.
Woody Allen once observed that California's only cultural accomplishment was the ability to make a right turn on a red light.
Apparently that ability is no longer much of an accomplishment.
Friday, November 7, 2008
And now it's over. Our man won. Our initiative failed to fail but that's another story and another birth of a civil rights movement.
So here we are. Exhausted with time and energy on our hands. There are no more polls to monitor, no more campaign sound bites to analyze. Why do we feel so tired and sad and drained? Why do we stare at computer or television screens as though they had only moments before arrived from another dimension? Why do we feel so sad despite having gained so much?
Because it's over.
Anytime we focus and sustain energy and attention and passion and creativity for an extended period of time, we feel a post project, post birth, post election, post creation let down. With enough severity and time, those feelings could become actual depression.
Best way to combat them?
Get passionately involved again.
Care enough about something to, say, sit down in the intersections of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards along with several hundred other people and watch the traffic at rush hour stop.
Care enough about something to, say, pick up a sign in protest of injustice.
Or, if it's too soon for any of that, get some exercise. Or laugh. Both activities initiate the release of serotonin which make us feel a whole lot better.
And know that what you're feeling is natural and okay. These post election blues are the price we pay for the passion we felt.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
My father was a cowboy. He could smell rain days away from its hitting the ground and he could see on the barest of desert soil enough green to feed a mother cow. He tipped his hat to women and allowed his eyes to tell you what he felt if you were brave enough to look right into them. He played the harmonica and provided the only music by which he and my mother ever danced -- the 'put your little foot right there' dance. Then they'd turn to the right. Then they'd turn to the left. Then they'd turn to the right. Then they'd turn to the left.
Once my Aunt Cassie admitted that her parents and her grandmother couldn't actually remember the date of my father's birth. Apparently giving birth at home in the early 1900s could be a fairly intense experience during which the participants could easily lose track of time. My grandparents, according to Cassie, figured that my father's conception took place just about the time Arizona became a state. As my aunt told it, election day in 1912 was on November 6th. And so in honor of the first election of the baby state's statehood, my grandparents declared that day the birthday of their only son. That and, as my aunt later remembered, there was a big storm that night and they didn't want to forget about that, either.
Happy birthday, Daddy.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Same sex couples will not disappear nor will they stop seeking equality. A victory for this absurd ballot initiative will only make people who care for justice more determined to seek it and to win it.
The country mandated change tonight. To deny same sex couples the right to marry is regression to a darker time. A country determined to move toward the light will eventually refuse to tolerate all oppression.
So, you YES folk, if you win this round, enjoy your party.
The times they are a changing.
Life yearns for light.
Monday, November 3, 2008
When I moved back to New York last month, I was pleased to see that subway etiquette is still operational. At least, I was pleased until, in the last week, on two separate occasions, polite young people offered their seats to me. Me? I'm not old enough to be offered a subway seat. I was deeply troubled, and mentioned it to my friend, who is my age. "Oh, yeah, that happens to me, too," she said, "but I just assume they thought I was pregnant."
You are my friends. I respect and admire you. You are the best women I have ever met -- generous, kind, and willing to help anyone who needs help. I am very concerned about this misleading information about Proposition 8. It all sounds so real, but is it not true.
Here is the truth:
1. No church is required to perform -- or not perform -- any ceremony. This would be a direct violation of the federal constitution protecting separation of church and state.
2. Schools do not teach gay (or any other) marriage to kindergartners. The teach protection from strangers. Sex education is taught in high school and they teach - "This is how it happens. Don't do it." Marriage education is taught in high school and covers good parenting, child care, and nutrition.
3. No child is required to participate if the parent does not want the child to do so. A parent may have the child excused from sex education, etc., by notifying the school. Best to give the school a letter to file so no one forgets. That's all a parent has to do -- tell the school. That can be done at the beginning of each year before instruction even begins.
4. Marriage and Domestic Partnership are not the same thing. The civil rights are not the same for both.
5. Classic 'traditional' marriage is not affected by the people entering into it. If it were, the biggest threat is the huge number of divorces and wife abuse practiced in straight marriages.
We founded this nation on the belief that every religion is protected by prohibiting laws that are based on religious doctrine.
We founded this nation to protect minorities.
The proud nation of the United States does not legislate to take away the rights of others nor do we condone political and personal hatred against each other.
This is not a religious issue. It is a civil rights issue.d It is a moral issue because others need our help.
Please remember that I have a daughter who has devoted her life since junior high to bettering the lives of others. You have met her, seen her photos, know how she has helped hundreds of poor families right here in our community. She is willing to go back to Pakistan to find ways to improve the lives of women by improving their chances for education.
Doesn't she deserve the same civil rights as I do?
If it is okay to persecute a group, what will protect us if we are next?
Thank you my friends.
I don't know Sally but I commend her for these words.
Remember several months ago when this young man was going door to door in Pomona letting people know of his ambition to run for mayor? He rang the doorbell of the witsendmagazine.com co-founder. So taken was she by his forthright, honest ambition that she gave him ten dollars on the spot and wished him well.
And he made it. He is running for mayor of Pomona. The odds are against his winning this go around and in favor of his trying again.
Who knows. Maybe during his next campaign he'll be able to pay a printer for posters instead of painting them himself on scraps of plywood.
Hassan, we're rooting for you.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Back in the mid seventeen hundreds there was a lot of stuff going on that required brave and forward thinking decisions by courageous, articulate, fair-minded people. Luckily, we seem to have had quite a few folk like that back then.
For example, the Stamp Act of 1765, enacted by the British Parliament, mandated that revenue stamps be affixed to all newspapers, pamphlets, licenses, leases, or other legal documents. The revenue garnered by those stamps would be used in theory for "defending, protecting, and securing" the American colonies. Over in England, the financial burden seemed so evenly and lightly distributed that the measure passed Parliament with little debate. Of course, it wasn't their lives on which those members of Parliament were voting so their decision was probably fairly simple.
The violence of the reaction in the thirteen colonies, however, was impressive and completely surprising to Parliament. The act aroused the hostility of the most powerful and articulate groups in the colonies -- journalists, lawyers, clergymen, merchants, and businessmen, north and south, east and west -- because it wasn't fair.
In the summer of 1765 trade between the colonies and England practically stopped. Prominent men organized as "Sons of Liberty," and political opposition soon flared into rebellion. Inflamed crowds paraded the streets of Boston. From Massachusetts to South Carolina the act was nullified, and mobs destroyed the hated stamps.
The Virginia Assembly passed a set of resolutions denouncing taxation without representation as a threat to colonial liberties.
A few days later, the Massachusetts House invited all the colonies to appoint delegates to a Congress in New York to deal with the Stamp Act. This Congress, held in October 1765, was the first inter-colonial meeting ever summoned on an American initiative.
No taxation without representation became the battle cry of the American Revolution.
So here we are about to vote on whether or not people in the State of California should be denied basic rights extended to the majority of the population. If that initiative passes, it seems only fair and completely democratic, according to the wisdom of our founding fathers, that all who are denied rights afforded to others should be given tax breaks. We could call those breaks the "We Screwed Them Tax Cuts" or the "We Think We're Better Than You" tax cuts.
On Wednesday morning, if the YES folks have won their absurd battle, it's only fair that those who have lost their constitutional rights be reimbursed for past taxes and given on going tax breaks until the day their rights are restored.
I do wonder, though, what aspect of traditional marriage they want to protect and preserve. Is it the high divorce rate? Is it the staggeringly high incidents of domestic violence and child abuse? Or are they protecting their fortress from liberation and joy and from people who have waited and organized and hoped for lifetimes that their time would come?
My current fantasy is that these 'traditional marriage' YES folk would suddenly become the minority. They would become the ten percent of the population and everyone would get to vote on whether or not the marriages of those ten percent would remain valid and whether or not that ten percent would ever again be allowed to legally marry. I think those YES folk would be pretty terrified.
It is so much easier to be self righteous when you're in the majority. In the majority it is so easy to forget that when you oppress one section of humanity you ultimately oppress yourself.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Del challenged misconceptions about gender and sexuality and fought against the criminalization of homosexuality. She helped create the Council on Religion and the Homosexual to lobby city lawmakers and reduce police harassment of gay men and women. She was an early member of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and worked to remove homophobia from that women's movement. She and Phyllis were the first same sex couple to join NOW with a 'couple's membership' rate. She led a campaign against the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its classification of psychiatric disorders. In 1973 homosexuality was taken out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. With the publication of 'Battered Wives' in 1976, Del Martin became a major catalyst for the movement against domestic violence. She became nationally know as an advocate for battered women. She co-founded the Coalition for Justice for Battered Women in 1975, La Casa de las Madres (a shelter for battered women) in 1976, and the California Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1977. In 1976 Del was appointed Chair of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women. With Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin was given the Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California in 1990. That is the highest honor extended by the ACLU. In 1979 San Francisco health care providers established a clinic to provide area lesbians access to nonjudgmental, affordable health care. The clinic is called the Lyon-Martin Health Services. In 1995 Senator Dianne Feinstein named Del Martin as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. (Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi named Phyllis Lyon.) Together Martin and Lyon reminded thousands of people that homosexuals grow old, too, and must be included in all aging policies. The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality gave Martin and Lyon their Outstanding Public Service Award in 1996.
Del Martin believed that "... nothing is ever accomplished by hiding in a dark corner." That belief guided her life.
In a life filled with astonishingly brave and selfless political acts on behalf of social justice, the last public and political act in Del Martin's long career took place on June 16, 2008.
On June 16, 2008, Del Martin married her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon. With Phyllis holding her hand for support, Del cut the first slice of their wedding cake.
Del and Phyllis were the first couple to wed in San Francisco after the California Supreme Court recognized that marriage for same-sex couples is a fundamental right in a case brought by plaintiffs including Martin and Lyon.
Del Martin is survived by her daughter Kendra Mon, her son-in-law Eugene Lane, her granddaughter Lorraine Mon, her grandson Kevin Mon, her sister-in-law Patricia Lyon, and by her domestic partner of 55 years and legally wed spouse of 73 days Phyllis Lyon.
Maybe the NO folk were happy. Maybe it just feels better to be championing for the common good instead of spreading hatred and fear and lies.
Those NO folks were, to me, the cavalry coming over the hill sounding bugle cries of hope.