Sunday, July 29, 2007
A presidential Executive Order issued on July 17th, repeals with the stroke of a pen the right to dissent and to oppose the Pentagon's military agenda in Iraq.
The Executive Order entitled "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq" provides the President with the authority to confiscate the assets of "certain persons" who oppose the US led war in Iraq:
"I have issued an Executive Order blocking property of persons determined to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people."
In substance, under this executive order, opposing the war becomes an illegal act.
Maybe it got by some of us because we are trying to figure out why it is so important for this man to go after a doctor and two nurses for allegedly euthanizing patients left in Memorial Hospital after the lights went out and the floodwaters came into the buildings. Public opinion and outcry probably greatly contributed to this case being dropped, but Attorney General Foti is releasing all the records compiled in the prosecution of the case to the public anyhow. What purpose does this serve? Is it really in order to get hold of political support of the aged folks in the population? I think the only thing that would bring that back would be a highly comprehensive look at why certain measures weren't taken to decrease the potential for euthanasia as the only option in times of crisis such as massive engineering failures at the heels of a natural disaster. Re-examine cases such as the St Rita's tragedy. Require anybody in the health care profession who is working in an area at high risk for such disasters to have an evacuation plan for patients in all stages of illness and infirmity no matter what. Our eyes are being dragged off the ultimate prize, which is ultimately emergency preparedness.
With the latest Executive Order from our illustrious oaf of a prez, our eyes are being maneuvered off a different prize, which is that of ending a war we never should have started in the first place. You hang on to your stuff, this missive is telling us, and we will hang on to the war we're waging in your name with your money, your blood and those of your friends and relatives.
Thanks a lot. We in these parts already know that a good amount of our potential emergency forces are overseas. We call the Oaf out on it every chance we get. And now he's made official what the feds have been doing and denying since 8-29 - he'll be seizing any assets we might have if we point out the obvious one more time.
Check the Ninth Ward out sometime, Executive Putz. And not from the windows of Air Force One.
What the hell does this town have to lose anyway by continuing to point out the obvious?
Saturday, July 28, 2007
On the bench, she rolled the blowpipe back and forth, working the bubble on the end with tools while she sucked on the cigarette. If she were working on something that required her to move faster to reheat the glass and work it at the bench, like, say, one of these Venetian-style pieces, the cigarette would have been holding her back big time. Every time she had to reheat the bubble, she would put the cigarette down on the bench next to her, burning end hanging off the edge, carefully walk herself out of the seat, pick up the smoke, and the blowpipe, on the way to the glory hole, and smoke it while she was turning the pipe in the 2000+ degree heat. Picture the reverse of the routine described above in bringing the hot bubble back to the bench to shape it with wet, burnt newspaper and glass tools, and you've got a hell of a portrait of stone-cold chain-smoking addiction. It determined how she worked. It may do so still...we were in college at the time.
Flipping through channels tonight, I happened upon this show, and watched with the same kind of morbid fascination as the lead singer of Modest Mouse proceeded to play the keyboards while smoking, sing some vocals to the song being played with the burning cigarette in his mouth, and then flick the still-burning butt behind him as he finished the song. Can't even remember what song it was - it played second fiddle to the blatant show his addictive nature was putting on. He launched into the next song with his guitar in hand and another bandmember on a different keyboard, but by then, I'd lost interest. Which was kind of a shame, since Guided By Voices apparently performed after them and I would have liked to check that out.
The more I try to wrap my head around the nature of addiction and the things people do in its grip, the more fascinated, horrified, and confused I get. Maybe Modest Mouse's music will get better if their singer will make his songs more intelligible by removing the butt from his mouth. Maybe the woman I saw smoking and glassblowing (is that ever a counterproductive set of working methods) found the sudden need to regain her breath and large amounts of her money in the process by eliminating cigarettes from her presence.
It all makes me happy I don't own a laptop. Otherwise I'd most likely be blogging every possible second of every day. And who knows how well that would come out.
Friday, July 27, 2007
I saw mention of The Big Lebowski action figures on the Strollerderby blog, and I immediately thought of sending the one pictured above to the rabbi emeritus of my NOLA synagogue when the figure comes out, because Lebowski is one of his favorite movies.
Problem is, if it says things like "Shomer f---ing shabbos" and "I told that Kraut a f---in' thousand times, I don't roll on shabbos!" and "Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax... [shouting] You're goddamn right I'm living in the f---ing past!", well...it's gonna be a gift that will keep on giving in the wrong way - to his grandkids.
I'm seriously considering sending a cursing consumer product to a member of the Jewish clergy.
Has camp color war fried my brain or what?
Thursday, July 26, 2007
After this past week, I would say yes.
Some kids are competitive by nature. It carries over into adulthood and gets those same competitors into many successes and loads of scrapes, some of which could well spell their downfall. Just check some Behind The Music stories if you have no clue what I mean. Competition in sports and business can go right into competition in terms of imbibing alcohol, snorting or swallowing a drug of choice, who holds the best and most inventive dinner parties, who has done the best kitchen renovations to their home, who has the purebred pet that has the best bloodlines and most awards, who has the highest achieving offspring...someone stop me before I make loads of people sick, including myself.
Now, in scheduling a bunch of competitive events for children aged 5-12, how much is too much? One day? Two? Five? All at once, or scattered around? Details, details...
All I have to compare this year's color war with is last year's, and last year, I think the right decision was made about the length of the competition. Two and a half days of kids playing games, of counselor lip-synch competitions, of songs and cheers for each team, of banners and color-coordinated t-shirts. It was just the right length.
How do I know this year ain't the same?
"Ms. Leigh, when can I go back with your group?" some five year olds assigned to color war groups that aren't my own are asking me nearly every day this past week. The answer to the question is, "Next week. I promise."
In a way, it's a compliment. What I'm learning about kids that are that young, however, is that routine is also important in their lives. For the past six weeks, they have been jelling with their age group and have been getting in the groove of participating with a familiar bunch of kids, being led by the same bunch of counselors, going to the same activities at the same times. This week has thrown 'em all for a loop, and most of the counselors I've talked to are feeling it, too. Different schedules + different groups = stress.
Throw in required participation for campers of all ages over five straight days, and inevitable comments along these lines emerge from the older campers: "We'd probably be getting more points if we didn't have the younger campers involved."
Is this where the seeds of social Darwinism were sown, in childhood competitions? Is it really such a wonderful and marvelous thing to push ones so young out of their comfort zones so soon?
And those are just the questions I have about the kids that are taking all of this chaos pretty well.
The ones that are really driving me, and some of the other counselors, up the wall are the kids who take the competition waaay too seriously. "Man, why'd they judge us to have the best flamingo imitations? Why couldn't we have done the best gorilla imitations?" I heard from a camper in my group. Serious can be funny. But then there's the John McEnroe-fit-kind of serious.
"I didn't get out!" a six year old argues with a judge at dodgeball. Points taken off for the six year old's outburst backfire, and the kid runs off to sulk in a corner.
"We never get points for being first!" a frustrated six-year-old cries out when we go through an entire event without being picked for a first-place finish (there are points given for other finishes). "The judges like the other counselors better! We need to bribe them!"
"My voice is gone from the screaming!" others complain. "We'll never win for loudest cheers!"
Really, I could handle the exhaustion of scream games, relay races, three massive bruises sustained on one of my legs, coordinating Beatles costumes (I was the walrus - uh, John. My other team counselors were Paul, George, and Ringo. We came in second, even after I sang a rip-roaring version of "Twist and Shout". Pppphhhpphht. Oh, well.), and yellow frickin' submarines if it weren't for these wet blankets disguised as children. However, I am getting fantastic insight into how competition in heavy doses creates Lord of the Flies.
As for how well kids are taking anything less than first place in competitions, I think of what the counselor for the six year olds asked his group when he tried to teach them something about good sportsmanship. "You play video games, right?"
"Well, don't you lose in them sometimes?"
"No. We know how to make ourselves invincible."
The kids know all the shortcuts and extra powers granted to them through their knowledge of games on their X-Boxes, their Nintendos, their Wiis, their Segas, even their PCs. Life doesn't have those kinds of shortcuts, though, and the kids are a tad too quick to blame outside forces when they don't perform as they expect themselves to. Ugh. This ain't right.
Make no mistake. Many, many video games out there kick ass and are loads of fun. What I'm arguing for is balance. Greater supervision on the part of the parental units, maybe, with regards to managing the sportsmanship angle. Get the kids outta the house more. Show 'em Rudy. I don't know. I wish I had the ultimate answers for these kids.
I want 'em to be more resilient. To learn from their mistakes. Roll with some punches. Be kids. Channel that frustration.
Hell, I want myself to be more damn resilient.
I'll be ecstatic when this week is over. Pray for us all, y'all.
Update, 7-27: I got hold of this li'l article by way of the Babble Strollerderby blogs. Playing with your kids is unnatural, parents. It is also smacking of classism. If you feel guilty for not enjoying playing with your kids, relax. It's just not natural (heh...what is when it comes to parenting these days?) - and it's possibly some kinda wacked-out conspiracy to differentiate upper-class families from lower-class families. Gee, can you tell that my brain gets completely numbed out by trying to keep up with the little guy's imaginary penguin friends?
On the other hand, this is also presenting a possible reason for me not to work in the same place where my son is attending school - and an especially good reason for me not to be directly involved in teaching any class or camp group of his. Not that I object to the latter reason.
Oh, and Pistolette has highly valid parent concerns as well. Just 'cause you're having a child doesn't mean you've stopped being yourself, people.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
The one day I had it on, the kids in my classes thought it was great because every time I picked up a pen or pencil to write, I was flipping off the teachers and they couldn't say anything about it. Okay, yeah, that was kinda fun and funny.
What wasn't fun and funny, though, was when my parents got cruel and served hamburgers for dinner that night. I had no choice but to hold the burger in both hands (Mom and Dad made 'em HUGE, almost like at Port of Call or Jackson Hole) and have that one finger standing out in the splint.
"How rude!" Mom exclaimed.
"How dare you?" Dad bellowed.
Then they looked at each other and laughed evilly. Thanks, parents.
I didn't really learn to laugh at that until a few years down the line.
This morning, the little guy woke up and complained that his leg was really hurting him. It was an ordeal getting him dressed, as he yelled from pain. He was hesitant to put weight on his right leg. I was racking my brains as to how he could have possibly broken his leg in the bed somehow, since he was walking just fine the night before. Dan and I headed for the emergency room. Since it was early in the morning, we got to see a doctor right away.
God bless the guy who saw him and reassured us with his manner and concern for all our well-being, not just the little guy's. The tests and the X-rays showed that my son has some of this in his hip. No cast, but some pain for a few days, if no fever develops. Hell, I even refrained from telling the punchline to a baaaad blond joke I started to tell when I realized how offensive it would be to the doc. Don't want to unleash that kind of thing on a nice, helpful individual.
We went to a local breakfast place to celebrate, the little guy had some of his chocolate chip pancakes and then declared that he was finished. "May I be excused?" he asked.
"Sure," said Dan, who was still eating.
"Daddy, can you take me to the jukebox?" the kid asked, for the obvious reason that it hurt to walk.
Then Dan saw a funny in the situation. At most meals lately, the little guy has been eating very little, declaring himself done with whatever is served, and then asking to be excused. We are doing our best to teach him to stay at the table a bit longer and actually eat some more with the rest of us, but food just ain't high on his priority list.
Dan began to laugh.
"Oh, yeah, you're excused," he said, smiling. "Good luck getting anywhere right now, though!"
"That's not nice, honey," I said, disapproving. I immediately thought of what happened with my jammed finger, and had to fight to keep a straight face. Still and all, I thought it was a tad insensitive to say to a four year old.
Then again, who knows?
With the kind of sense of humor this kid is developing, he will most certainly file this away for future use and unleash it on one of us when we least expect it. I can see it now. With all the nagging this kid does for me to do stuff for him in the car while I am driving the car, we'll have a minor wreck someday, and the first words out of his mouth will most likely be:
"So, Mom, we've had an accident. Can you get my toy car off the floor now?"
Oh, and two posts ago, I logged in my 200th post. My fingers have certainly been doing the talking over the past year and a half or so. And after all this time, they're still a tad itchy. Is that amazing or what?
Thursday, July 19, 2007
After the counselors and I finished laughing, I said, "Gee, what's gonna happen when future generations come down the pike and into the classrooms and that kind of guilt won't work on them?"
"Huh..." she said, her smile fading a little.
The woman really does live in Lakeview. Her house was flooded out except for the attic. I just got that nagging worry that future generations won't be as empathetic to the losses and the suffering. Kinda like the teaching I got in Jewish day school about the Shoah. Guilt and relentless teaching about numbers can get old and feel thoroughly dry after a time. And using 8-29 losses guilt on kids to get them to be upstanding student/citizens can be like pulling out a surface to air missile to take out a gnat.
"How old am I?", the C.I.T. asked the girl.
She took her time. "Sixteen," she said, looking at him with her puppy dog eyes and smiling slightly.
"How old am I?" asked the junior counselor, whose lap was a convenient seat for the girl.
"You're seventeen," she said, smiling a little wider. She knew that answer already. Too easy.
"Trick question," I barged in, moving in closer to the little group. "How old am I?"
The girl thought for a looong few seconds.
The counselor and C.I.T. both said, "Noooooo..." They didn't know exactly how old I was, but I was certainly older than they were.
"I am double her age, " I said, referring to the junior counselor. "I'm thirty-four."
"No you're not," said the girl, breaking into a big grin. Man, I love those campers.
"You're not old!" the C.I.T. said. "My mom's, like, forty!"
"My dad's fifty," the junior counselor chimed in. I love my coworkers, too.
A few days before this conversation, I got the opportunity to talk to a parent of a former camper (she'd only signed up her child for the first part of the summer, but she brought her family back for the family fun night at camp). We talked of how kids are, what they do, how frequently stuff like towels, pool shoes, and lunch bags get lost at camp, and then I pointed out my son in passing.
"You don't look old enough to have a son!" the mom exclaimed, surprised.
The kids' parents are such a kick...
Tonight, I headed to the dog park after a late stay for the five-and-six year old campers. I felt like I'd been through a wringer, though I was glad I'd overplanned things games-wise, since rain outdoors once again denied us the chance to swim. A woman I hadn't seen in a while came walking through the park with her dog.
"I haven't seen you in a long time!" she said. "You're looking better! Have you lost weight? you look more energetic, too!"
"Must be the whole working with the five-year-olds thing at camp," I said cheerfully.
Can I just hug the whole world, people?
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
This time, I'm not referring to any Louisiana hijinks (that's one maaajor oy vey iz mir in itself). I speak of a few things, one of them being the comments of our family friends Justin, and his wife, Justine, on their recent trip through Hungary and parts of the former Yugoslavia. Among all the other souvenirs they returned with was an album of Yiddish and klezmer music, none of it performed by Jews. Nothing wrong with that in itself...but hey, the music ain't being played in a vacuum, people.
To paraphrase Justin, though there aren't many Jewish people around in many parts of Germany and eastern Europe, there seems to be a certain revival of Jewish cultural remnants in their absence. Maybe it's a mark of collective guilt for the part these countries played in the near-eradication of Jews sixty-plus years ago. Maybe it is a certain kind of pandering to folks like Justin, who come to concentration camp sites, gravesites, synagogues/museums, and former family homes to find their past, and spend money in the process (some of the original "disaster tourism"). Maybe it is a nostalgia of some of the worst kind: we've lost the Jews, and prosperity went with them. Or a nostalgia of the "best" kind: we've lost the Jews, and a vital part of our culture went with them. (Actually, the nostalgia crap might be highly simplistic thinking on everyone's part.)
"Ugh," I said. "It sounds almost like a wish to ossify an imagined past. Many of the current elders in these countries and their elders were involved in one way or another in turning away from the horrors of the Shoah or delivering victims to the camps. And now, here they are finding a way of plausible deniability through profiting off the descendants of those who have suffered or died. 'I might have been bad then, but I'm not now!' "
Man, was I a cynic. Still am when it concerns this.
Then I was emailed this Times article through my Queens synagogue's listserve:
Sometime in the 1970s, as a generation born under Communism came of age, people began to look back with longing to the days when Poland was less gray, less monocultural. They found inspiration in the period between the world wars, which was the Poland of the Jews.
“You cannot have genocide and then have people live as if everything is normal,” said Konstanty Gebert, founder of a Polish-Jewish monthly, Midrasz. “It’s like when you lose a limb. Poland is suffering from Jewish phantom pain.”
Interest in Jewish culture became an identifying factor for people unhappy with the status quo and looking for ways to rebel, whether against the government or their parents. “The word ‘Jew’ still cuts conversation at the dinner table,” Mr. Gebert said. “People freeze.”
The revival of Jewish culture is, in its way, a progressive counterpoint to a conservative nationalist strain in Polish politics that still espouses anti-Semitic views. Some people see it as a generation’s effort to rise above the country’s dark past in order to convincingly condemn it.
Another instance of coincidental convergence concerns the book Faking It: The Quest For Authenticity In Popular Music, which I just recently finished reading. Authors Yuval Taylor and Hugh Barker also have a good blog with similar concerns - consider it an ongoing expansion of the book. I read this stuff about Ry Cooder, the man behind the Buena Vista Social Club and the more recent (but not most recent) Chavez Ravine, and the synapses got to snapping:
In the end, perhaps Cooder is still just trying to find out where he belongs. If he is looking for roots in Chavez Ravine, at least he is looking in the right place - his own backyard. He has gone around the world without being entirely satisfied by what he found. Now he has come home to continue the search. however he has once again idealized the past by failing to recognize that things weren't always so good in the good old days; and he has once again preferred to present a numbed version of that past instead of finally making contact with the reality of the present.
It may be that the quest for cultural authenticity in popular music is always a search for something that seems more profound than the reality of our own lives. In the exotic, the nostalgic, the foreign, or the primitive, we can hope to perceive eternal truths that seem lacking in the confusion of modern life. But hunting for authenticity in other cultures or past times is unlikely to cure a perceived lack of authenticity at home. Because wherever you go, you take your own self with you.
Daaaamn right. Take note, gentile Europe.
I'm happy they want to buck homogeneity. They simply need to be fully cognizant of what they are doing when they are selling menorahs on the streets, playing klezmer in nightclubs, and staging Jewish heritage fairs. Otherwise, they might well end up perceiving it all as some kinda Shangri-La
Ry Cooder – Poor Man's Shangri-La
Oh, and folks, check Michael Homan's latest. Great picture of his kid at the wet protest in front of the Cabildo Monday morning. If Europeans are looking to buck the homogeneity, take some cues from some New Orleanians and take to the streets a little more. The next generation will learn some important lessons...
Monday, July 16, 2007
Why is only one person coming up with a side of the whole Diaper Dave debacle that makes the lawmaking lawbreaker's actions more sinister than Bill Clinton's dalliances (probably because David shares the same first name? Oooh, not a good thought...)? To really put it all in perspective, let's follow the Benjamins, y'all.
The nasty cats and dogs falling from the sky, and the accompanying thunder and lightning, that prevented my campers from swimming outside today may also have prevented Good Morning America from taking their eyes off John Edwards' town hall meeting in the Cabildo and feasting them upon the protesters calling for D.A. Eddie Jordan's resignation in front of the same building. Then again, maybe not. Who the heck knows? There IS still a major problem in the courts here, and it still stinks to high heaven.
Somebody, give these elected chumps some sense of shame...please.
An entire ruined and recovering city is begging this dead weight to just go.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Looking for something to storm? Try the Orleans D.A.'s office. And take Southern Mom's husband's cue:
I had to tell this: There were many NEWS' stories about the D.A. in New Orleans allowing harden criminals out of jail. They were not being arraigned within the appropriate time frame. George went to the D.A.'s office with a few dry erase calendars from Office Max. He told the receptionist that these were for Mr. Eddie Jordan so he could do his job a little better. Maybe these would help his attorneys know when a prisoner was coming up for arraignment. He was asked to leave.
Hey, one man doing this is easy to put off.
But thousands of citizens bringing in as many calendars? Ha!
Friday, July 13, 2007
For all things pertaining to Diaper Dave Vitter, that righteous hypocrite and sexual lawbreaker, I direct you to Oyster's and Clay's blogs, as those two have been running with this like a house afire. The posts I have linked to here are teensy tips to massive blogalicious icebergs in those two's neck of the 'Net, so just go to Your Right Hand Thief and NOLA-dishu to take all the rest of it in. Grab yourself some cocktails, 'cause you'll need 'em.
The one that has biiiig significance for this city at this time is the dismal performance of D.A. Eddie Jordan. Prosecutors threw up their hands and said they couldn't locate a key witness in this horrific murder case that occurred a year ago, so a case that, under normal circumstances in a normal city with normal people who know their jobs and actually do them, would have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law was dismissed.
BUT...this is New Orleans. And Jordan is running things...into the ground. And, as a result, greater numbers of citizens are ending up six feet under due to unnatural causes. The ones who are responsible end up walking free and easy.
Take a HUGE hint from Maitri. And I don't just mean anyone who lives in New Orleans should stand up (or sit in front of their computers) and make themselves heard. If you've lived here before, go through Maitri's list of local lawmakers and press members and make yourself heard. If you want to live here, make yourself heard. If you have visited here, make yourself heard. If you haven't been anywhere near this area, make yourself heard, if only because it could happen to you.
Give massive congrats and support to councilmember Shelley Midura for possessing the steel ovaries to call for Jordan's resignation. Editor B is right - Midura has no authority over Jordan. As far as I know, Jordan answers only to the voters. Therefore Midura is exceeding her authority here. She’s sticking her neck out, taking a risk. She may pay a price for it.
On the other hand, Midura is exhibiting a Star Trek-ian "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few-or the one" attitude that this city desperately needs from its leaders. Which is also why B is right about this - since our elected officials are seriously incompetent, we need to get serious.
BUT - if you still need your serious tempered with a little humor, try some Tae Kwon Leap. I mean, really... don't all these politicos deserve a boot to the head?
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Hey, it coulda been worse. It coulda been Mr Rogers In Your Pocket. In fact, I propose getting one of those nifty gadgets for each student of this guy. Maybe I'll bring it up at the next RT II meeting...
Whatever you do with your "In Your Pocket" gadgets, however, don't put 'em in your popular music recordings. The phrases ARE copyrighted...
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
It's not just in the magazine. It's online.
And I had to quit reading at this, or else I'd be screaming at my monitor, which does not deserve that fate:
SS: Now that you're mayor, how does it feel to be in that arena (politics)?
RN: Overall, it’s okay. I didn’t sign up for Katrina, and that took things to a whole new level. But overall, it’s good — because the things you do as mayor definitely impact the people in the community.
Nobody signed up for Katrina, schmo, but they knew it was a possibility - and, as a supposed New Orleanian, the possibility should have been in your blood. You, you damned walking id, are the one wandering about acting as if you are in a bad dream nearly two years after the fact of the levee breaches. And I don't even know where to begin about how you are definitely impacting the people in this community. Not in a good way, though, I know that much.
Perhaps I should begin with Sheckrastos' analysis. Or Jeffrey's.
The haiku imbedded in Oyster's post is pretty poignant.
So is Ashley's assessment.
Bayou St John David's take on the putz is a must, and an absolute counter to the Stop Smiling fluff interview.
And finally, for the truly steel-stomached readers, I present the possibility floated out there by this week's Gambit Weekly. If all Nagin has been angling for is power through political martyrdom...well, the scenario Clancy Dubos writes of is really kind of appalling, sad, low-down, and openly sneaky as all hell. (Update, 7-12: Seems that David and Jeffrey floated this scenario well before Dubos did. Let's get that Gambit byline changed!)
Ugh. Maybe I need a good dose of Slo-Blo after all...
Then again, it seems to be affecting the best of us to the breaking point. Despair is one powerful political weapon.
Monday, July 09, 2007
This whole Simpsonian universe thing has been spreading like a virus due to some of the blogpocheh foolin' around some on the Net. It doesn't hurt that most of us are Simpsons fans.
The other thing that seems to be spreading around is a certain amount of NOLA blogger slowdown (call it Slo-Blo, I guess...). Checking around all the different New Orleans blogs, there are only a few that are keeping up some kinda frenetic posting pace. The rest are in the throes of Slo-Blo.
Some possible reasons for this state of affairs:
- It's summer down here. It's hot. Damn hot. So hot you could cook in your shorts. A little crotch-pot cookin'. That's the truth, folks. A lotta heat and humidity make for a lotta lethargy and stupid stupors. I'm not sayin' the intelligence quotient has decreased among the bloggers - only that the need to use it has declined somewhat. Trying to come up with fresh material, opinions on current events, memes, fun and profound anecdotes, whatever, just isn't as pressing as finding a place to cool off and a nice cold alcoholic beverage to go with it. I personally vote for Liuzza's frosty globes o' beer...but that's just me.
- The news coming down the pike concerning the political messes and the recovery hijinks in these parts continues to be overwhelming. The brain is not only addled by the rising temperatures and the air you could cut with a knife, it is also under pressure from being under a constant state of siege. If it ain't the idiot politicians or the law enforcement failures, it's the stress of rebuilding your place of residence with or without (uhhh, increasingly without) the help of the Winding Goat Path Home or from less-than-reassuring insurance companies. Not to mention finding a good, trustworthy contractor to do the job and do it well without gouging you to within an inch of your retirement fund's jugular. It doesn't help that people who have no clue still persist in dissing the efforts to keep this city on the globe. Grrrr... It is truly akin to playing Whack-A-Mole armed with a teeny jeweler's hammer.
- People have been venturing out of town a tad more. Gotta take some time. Relax, take a load off, dive into a globe o' beer for a bit, come out, dry out, and return cleansed, bruised but not broken, and ready for more. If anyone wants to join me at my summer camp (hell, at any summer camp), take that time. If you just can't, though, I've got a few camp funnies for ya:
I did a towel shimmy by the pool this morning, part of the usual routine after getting out of the pool and preparing the kids to enter the industrial-grade blasting A/C indoors. "Guys, get your towel behind your back and start that towel shimmy! Pull it back and forth allll the way down your back. Now do your legs..." I stopped when I heard a new camper giggling and saying, "Gross!"
"What's gross, honey?" I asked.
"You were shaking your booty!"
"What??? It's part of the towel shimmy!"
"What's so gross about shaking your booty?" I asked.
Giggles. There was never a good answer that came from that child to that question.
Later on, at dismissal, my co-head teacher was outside the gym welcoming parents, then running into the gym to fetch their kids. She walked over to me with a big, slightly appalled grin on her face. "There's some guy out there, somebody's father, who's wearing this t-shirt that has a picture of a guy slapping his hand to his forehead. The caption underneath says, 'The condom broke!' "
After I quit laughing, I said, "Yeah, there are just some things you have to put away when you have kids, even though they might be fun and funny as all hell. Among those things are all the "Parental Advisory" albums that have cuss words in the songs, and rude, crude t-shirts. I have to put away my "Nads" college hockey t-shirt until I'm eighty, probably, because I can't wear that in front of my son or other impressionable youngsters." We laughed over that some more.
It also made me thankful I never bought that "F*ck Censorship" t-shirt some college kids were selling when I was in a pre-college program. How the heck would I have explained that one?
Another good shirt, worn by an older camper, "My Imaginary Friend Just Beat Up Your Imaginary Friend." Bullying has now entered some other dimension...
Friday, July 06, 2007
Ladies and gents, this just sucks rocks.
Yeah, it's a quintessential, hell-on-wheels, proverbial terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. But read it a little more closely, people.
Right now I'm pissed at the Women's Lib-bers. Right now it would be nice to to know exactly what my role in life should be, where my time and energy should be focused. I think I know the answer, but the part of me that values my independence rails against this knowledge. I have always worked. I cannot imagine not working.
But is it really possible to be a mother and an employee? Especially in the line of work I currently love?
Dammit, this should never have been the result of women fighting for equal rights. What happened was that women fought against discrimination on most any and all levels of life in this country...but there was a massive elephant staring those fighting broads in the face and they chose to avoid its gaze. Let's call that pachyderm "Child Care".
I have addressed the value of what parents do before this, sure. I have even talked of how this city in which I live is gonna end up with a good half of a potential workforce staying at home because the day care centers are waaay below pre-8-29 numbers (and if you won't take my word for it, take hers. I mean it, now). My nightmare PPD might have resulted in part from the shock of having to shoulder largely by myself this job of raising a child that I was mostly unprepared for. The extended family that could have helped buffer my condition has seriously decayed and devolved in the face of the Almighty Job (not the Biblical one, people), and there is next to nothing that has been put in place to balance that out.
Unless we get organized.
A number of parents are already doing it. If it were maybe identified as a Parents' Movement rather than a Mother's Movement, perhaps the feds - indeed, ALL levels of government - would sit up some and take notice. If parents were able to muster up the money to have that kind of clout, so much the better. Instead, we are all being run ragged by the cost of living. "What money????" would be the first question out of parents' lips.
Parents' time and money are being poured into a consumer culture that demands more of us every day - and takes it all away from our kids. From our sanity. From our health and overall well-being.
Until this can be effectively combatted, good, hardworking parents like C. Roux will be psychically torn in two.
We all know that a house divided cannot stand.
Anyone stop to think about a parent divided? It brings down more than just one life. It can bring down entire potential worlds - by limiting the well-being of the children in the equation.
That makes me weep for our future...
Thursday, July 05, 2007
On checking the contents list of the current issue, I see that not only is there focus on the Stax soul music legacy and an interview of one of my favorite musicians, there are also some NOLA-centric articles featuring Leah Chase, Tom Piazza, Andrei Codrescu, Walker Percy, Jelly Roll Morton, and - get yourselves positioned over that porcelain goddess - C. Ray Nagin, the Walking Id himself. I'm hoping the rest of the magazine will make up for the ick factor of having Mayor Nogudnik in there.
I'll just have to be blasting Sharon Jones' kick-ass version of "This Land Is Your Land" if and/or when I get to that part, I guess...or maybe I should go with "Your Thing Is A Drag"...
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
"Athens, Georgia," I said, after a little pause. I knew right away where I wanted to go on the way back, but I was a tad afraid of being subjected to ridicule. I forgot for a moment that I was talking to the man who planned for us to see the world's largest ball of twine on a previous vacation, who had us detour to a fruit stand in New Brunswick to check out the giant potato statue named Harvey.
"What's there that you want to see?" he asked, with some incredulity in his tone.
"I just want to see it," I said. "I want to see what could possess so many people to form bands and create a music scene in such a place."
At my Houston high school, we rocked out to "Rock Lobster" at school dances, even though most of us were only a few years older than the song. When I had to move from metropolitan Texas to a small college town in central Pennsylvania, I began to check out early R.E.M., some Love Tractor, more B-52s, even some Pylon, especially after I read this book. There wasn't much in the Susquehanna River that would spawn a music scene in the place where I spent my last two years of high school. What made Athens so special? And why was I born a little too late to really enjoy it?
God bless my husband, my fellow traveling fool and uber-budget trip planner. The man was either a car in a former life or a travel agent. We headed to Athens on Sunday, stopped off at a welcome center in town, and found that the pamphlets listing the Athens' attractions made little mention of that '80's music that had put it on the map for most other Americans on the planet (heh...should have taken a preparedness page from Dan and printed this out before we went there). The place is dominated by the University of Georgia campus, especially their stadium, and a public art project inspired by their bulldog mascot. I wonder how many people in Athens own bulldogs?
Turns out the most interesting things about Athens for us were the Bear Hollow Wildlife Trail (hey, we've got a kid, and he was fascinated by the birds of prey), and the (Son of the)Tree That Owns Itself (I have no idea if the tree pays taxes). We got some gut-busting food at the Varsity for lunch, and then went on our merry way towards Tuscaloosa, where we were staying the night. Yeah, I know. I shoulda printed out that walking tour. I should have put more into exploring Athens from my musical nostalgia point of view. Uh-huh. Suuuure. Guess the next time I come through, I'll need to do it without a four-year-old in tow.
Or, maybe, I'll just keep that first impression close. Athens is a college town, only a little larger than the one I spent the last of my high school years in, and that whole late-'70's-to-1980's music thing they had going on can't be gleaned from going past the gazillionth location of the 40 Watt Club or making a pilgrimage to the church in which the members of R.E.M. bunked out and jammed. Heck, if this little jaunt has taught me anything, it's that I live in one of the best places in the world in terms of seizing a moment and running with it. Something about the time and place in Athens over twenty years ago caused a relatively large number of kids on the verge of adulthood to party hearty and run with it, and it got national acclaim.
New Orleans is in the business of being in the national spotlight, whether this town likes it or not. Most of the people here seem to accept that fact, at least in part because it is expected of this place to be different and proud of it. It frees up the people who live here to be themselves more fully than they would be in, say, that little Pennsylvania town I was in for two years, or someplace else. I'm glad I have the chance to be here. I'm glad this country gives me some of the opportunity to have that chance...even if I do have to fight tooth and nail for it at times.
In the meantime, New Orleans, in spite of it all, is still here. Happy Fourth with a vengeance! I'm gonna do all sixteen dances...
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Yep, there were little bags of beach glass for sale at the Pottery Barn. For those who didn't have the time to actually go to a beach and collect some themselves.
Sometimes I think the whole world needs a vacation...
Update, 9:42 PM: I certainly know that this guy does. Matt McBride has done some truly heroic blogging. He deserves a good break from it all.
Monday, July 02, 2007
I go away for a few days, and the blogpocheh goes off on people who are chagrined that New Orleans' recovery happens to include African-Americans. I'm taking a cue from my dad on this one: tough frickin' toenails, bigots. Varg also provides one heckuva commentary on this subject, and Marco links to "33 steps that have been taken and continue to be taken to kill New Orleans". Yowza. Damn good writing, and if it doesn't make you think, your brains are just gone.
I guess I'm a tad more sensitive to all the picking over race and all because I attended a cousin's wedding up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina on Saturday. My mom's side of the family is not Jewish, so it was quite the Protestant ceremony. The backdrop was a country club in the heart of a gated community in which my aunt and uncle have a summer home. Before the actual wedding and reception, there was also a rehearsal dinner (which we were late for - that traffic on I-85 can be just killer), separate bride's and groom's brunches (read, women's and men's brunches) on the morning of the wedding, and a bridesmaids'/groomsmens' tennis competition on the clay-composite courts at the country club. The courts sported signs that said players were required to wear ALL WHITE ONLY (apparently, it ain't tennis unless one is blinding the spectators while one is playing, which is why I was tickled to see Dan out there with his dark socks on). No Serena Williams-style black catsuits allowed on the court.
Yeah, it was funny going into that world for a weekend. The surroundings were beautiful, yet unreal in a certain way. My aunt, uncle, and cousins live in Atlanta and rub shoulders with some upper-class folk there. The bride's family and friends were from Birmingham and thereabouts. When they heard we were from New Orleans, Dan and I were asked about our house and how it did. I went further and told them more about the insane, halting progress that is recovery in these parts, and the people I talked to said, "Wow...that's all still happening?? You just don't see much of that in the news!"
Uh, no, you don't. And, quite possibly, you don't want to, even though I am standing here in your face wearing a certain Dirty Coast t-shirt. Then again, maybe I was talking to waaay too many Falcons fans.
Everyone is stuck in a certain kind of complacency wherever they happen to be. It takes a lot of effort to look beyond that sense of security and see things for what they actually are. Who knows, it may actually require the complacent ones to get off their secure li'l butts and do something. Act. Change. Acknowledge wrongdoing. Right those wrongs.
Or maybe I just need to get out more and get my head out of all this quasi-lefty blogging for justice in these parts.
If and when I do, though, I know just how I will be attired:
Time to get cracking on that exercise regimen!