Sunday, August 21, 2016

Work-In-Progress: excerpt from "Baby Mine"

Roselle was really tired and wanted a seat more than anything or she thought she would die or at least not be able to make it through another day.  The girl with the three babies got the last one.  Two who the mother pretend were twins by dressing them the same but anybody who’d had twins or too much sex before her 6 week postpartum checkup knew that those 2 babies were born 10 months apart and they and the toddler who already had streaks of dried snot forming a parentheses around its open and drooling mouth were staring up at Roselle.  She sighed, no seat, no mercy for her knees and the pain got louder as the bus lurched down the boulevard that she almost bit through her tongue.  But, Roselle made it to the Wexlas Avenue stop and thanked God that the bus stopped right in front of the school.  She lurched her way forward into the employees’ entrance and promptly sat down at her station ignoring that she needed to pee.  The children, all blue legs and white arms, gamboled past her with box cutters, Nintendo PlayStations and sodas in their ballast-like backpacks.  She prayed that the morning would be over fast.  It was the only thing that kept her going on the job except for seeing Mr. Washington, who had begun work at PS 304 the same day she had.  Everybody talked about how fine he was; and the more he ignored them, the more the girls said he was funny.  At break, Roselle didn’t join the argument one way or the other.  It would give away whatever feelings she had, and she was not going to give herself away, not even to herself.  Every Monday Mr. Washington was the topic of the guards’ 15 minute break, and when she was asked to take sides about the man, Roselle sucked her teeth and waved away the question.  Besides, because of how she esd nobody expected her to have much of an opinion about a good-looking man.  He was none of her business.

I'll Stand With You

A reminder of what real courage can cost a person and a family.  Know your history. All of it.

Image result for black power salute at summer olympics 1968 download image

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Just Checking In

By desire and habit I lead A Very Boring Life. I seldom want to go anywhere, particularly at times like these when it is about 300 degrees Fahrenheit with 1000% humidity and one leg is much larger than the other because it is swollen in all its plantar fasciitis glory. Extreme heat and humidity exacerbate it; as do long periods of sitting, such as on a train to Philly or New York.  So today, here I am with the throbbing log I call my leg and a picture to prove I left the house:

That is a shot of the the Amtrak station in Philly last Sunday morning on my way out of town after having gone to Scribe Video Center's premiere of The Great Migration, a documentary on what I learned is was the first wave (1916 - 1930) of the African-American migration northward.  Some of you may know that when I decided to leave Brooklyn my first choice was Philly, which inexplicably I've always loved.  For the first time since settling in New Haven I wished I had.  There is something about the people there I just like.  Challenged, but not passive or defeated.

Granted, love letters to a city you've only spent a night or two in can be naive, but having followed the outrage du jour here in New Haven I despair of the racial tribalism which so distorts our local politics.  Lately it has been the controversy over Corey Menafee's breaking of a stained-glass window in a Yale dining hall, then no doubt being strong-armed by Yale to resign or be fired, then becoming the darling of left-leaning activists who, again no doubt, pointed out Yale's hypocrisy alluding to years' long under-the-rug-sweeping of a scion's or a prominent WASP's behavior but scarcely admitting to Mr. Menafee's wrongdoing (even if he himself admits it) and then his plight becoming the latest proxy for the rolling race/class, union/administration, town/gown shitshow that always accompanies a power and resource struggle within a closed system.  I've ceased to see these conflicts -- Menafee's job, re-naming Calhoun College, what Master Christakis said  -- as efforts to overturn oppression and class privilege, and come to see them as dominance battles in an institution that needs reform (as all institutions do) and yet, if one remains affiliated with it by remaining a student there bestows -- by intention and design -- incredible advantage in the marketplace.

I grew up in a university town and the lives of people on a 2-year or 4-year clock is very different from those who are permanent residents.  What matters deeply to short-timers (and here I'm mostly talking about students; with those who are seeking tenure there is more to lose) is often obscure to city dwellers, and the long-term consequences of the fight over Yale's soul, whichever side "wins", become the city dwellers' to deal with. For better, and often enough, for worse. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

What Do You Think I've Been Doing?

Watching clips from the RNC convention,
Reading blogs and online zines about El Trump,
Observing conservatives of conscience (and some without) squirm and all I can say is that it's like watching someone trying to thread a rock-salted pretzel through a needle.  Good luck with that, y'all, and
Gardening in the hot hot sun.  (Insert it's-in-her-DNA joke along with a stained-glass window.  I slipped in an inside New Haven reference.  Don't bother to figure it out; my eyes haven't stopped rolling about what passes for political outrage these days in this joint.)

I took a mini-vacation last week, rented an apartment south of Prospect Park, and did speed dating with friends, some of whom I haven't seen for years.  (Shortly after moving here I realized that I like very much to sleep in my own bed, and when I did go to New York for business I persisted in coming home no matter how late it was.  I kept making vague promises to friends about getting together and never keeping them in my rush to get to Grand Central.)  The time I spent there last week was fun, and I'd do it again but perhaps in the fall when it's not so likely I'll be boiled alive.  I don't miss New York, of that I'm certain.  I'm like Goldilocks here -- this is just right.  But Gawd do I miss the street theater.  An example (to which I can't do justice):

I'm standing on the Manhattan-bound platform at the aboveground Parkside station.  Across the way on the Coney Island bound platform is a flock of city kids, summer day campers all wearing the same bright t-shirts, shorts and sneakers.  On my side are 3 young men.  Something about them says tourist, Eastern European variety at that.  (Don't ask me how I know.  If El Trump can recognize Mexican rapists from the Upper East Side, I can spot European tourists five feet to the right of me.)  They are weaving as if, at 11 in the morning in the godforsaken heat, they've been drinking.  The oldest of the 3 is brandishing a camera and wants to take a picture of the middle school blackbirds.  He has the kids' attention, they are happy to pose.  After all he is several train tracks away, waving his camera, not giving them the finger.  So they oblige him, posing as kids do, and he takes the shot.  Then he points one of his younger partners.  "Dis is Justin Timberlake brudder.  Jus-tin Timber-lake brudder!"  Am I the only one on the platform besides Tae Three Stooges who finds this hilariously funny?  The kids don't.  Thankfully our train comes and the kids are spared even more inanity and I get on grateful grateful grateful for the cool air and a seat.  But don't you know 1/3 of this stand-up act sidles over and leans into the young man next to me and asks:  Vat is the name of the building that King Kong climb?  And he is serious, standing there waiting for the answer.  Jeopardy for 100 points!  What is the Empire State Building?  Boy, I really miss all the gratuitous craziness that New York serves on a platter.

And speaking of gratuitous craziness how about the Republican nominee for President of these United States, eh?  I have spent more time than I care to admit scouring the web for stories about all of it.  (It's avoidance I realize, and I know exactly what I'm avoiding -- death and taxes -- but it's been fun.)  I found this comment in response to a post, "Kirchick's Coup Fantasies"  in The American Conservative by Noah Millman,and it comes as close as anything I've read as a rebuke to those who persist in promulgating false equivalencies when comparing Trump and Clinton -- and yes I mean you, intransient Berners -- and those who rationalize that a vainglorious and vulgar id-iot with narrow executive, and no political experience can govern the world's most powerful nation-state is qualified enough:

demz taters says:

The idea that Hillary doesn’t adhere to political norms is a fallacy. She is the consummate American political animal – hawkish, cozy with the monied class, requisite fealty to Israel, and well acquainted with the art of the back room deal – just like EVERY OTHER politician who’s occupied the Oval Office for the past 50 years (including the Bush admin, which did most of its work on RNC servers). She is, in other words, the truly conservative choice. You may not like her policies but she is not a destroyer of institutions or a dangerous rabble-rouser. Life under Hillary will continue pretty much as it has, stable, more or less predictable – and a little more generous for the have-nots. Trump, on the other hand, is a dangerous radical who seeks to destabilize American institutions and replace them with … what? He is short on details other than promising to punish whole classes of people who have been deemed insufficiently “American” in the rightwing media universe; to rewrite treaties, agreements and alliances that have contributed to an unprecedented, sustained era of relative global peace; and to make the world stop “laughing at us” which is a truly an unhinged and paranoid point of view. If you can’t recognize which is a greater threat to American stability, I feel for you because to people who understand both history and human nature, there aren’t enough facepalms in the world to adequately respond to those who think Trump is going to save the Republic.