Dakota Fanning was incredible at 6 years old in I Am Sam. At age 11, she continues to shine and really makes this movie. Of course Elizabeth Shue, Kurt Russell, and Kris Kristofferson are nothing to sneeze at. So, the movie may be one giant Disney cliche (actually Dreamworks) but it works. They brought in the same horse people that worked on Seabiscuit. Great movie for girls, of course.
Born Into Brothels
A photographer goes to live in the brothels in Calcutta, India so she can get to know the people so they will trust her to photograph them. She discovers the children there, and her project changes. She gets cameras for the kids and teaches them photography. Zana Briski also formed the nonprofit Kids With Cameras, and made it her work to get the children into better schools...not an easy task. Everyone should see this movie.
Maybe I placed a hold on this at the library because it's set in Oregon, filmed in Oregon, and includes Elliott Smith in the soundtrack. A teen who still sucks his thumb tries to find his way with the help of some not-quite-real characters. Keanu Reeves with shades of a nearing-forty Ted-as-orthodontist, a girlfriend who toys with him, a teacher who crosses all kinds of boundaries. It was the absolutely perfect movie to go with Elliott Smith music.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
This author is fiendishly clever. A person could start reading this book and think it's a straightforward scifi novel: imagine a city where many if not most buildings are skyscrapers, and the elevator inspectors have a crucial position of power in the city. Among those inspectors are the Empiricists, who inspect elevators in the usual way, by physically inspecting the bits and pieces and ticking things off a list, and there are the Intuitionists, who enter an elevator and 'feel' where the problem lies. Clearly this is a scifi world where people have some sort of paranormal talent, and the world of elevators is a Big Deal.
But as a person gets further into the story, she realizes that this world shares quite a bit of the history of the real world, including the rampant racism and the struggle of black people to enter competitively into the world of whites. The reader thinks, "Wait a minute, wouldn't elevators be the center of the world to an elevator inspector?" Maybe this world isn't such a scifi world after all, but a funny fishbowl look at an insular guild with all the trappings of politics, bribes, and bigotry. Funny thing is, the Intuitionists have a better track record than the empiricists. It's a quick read, but don't let that fool ya. I'm still thinking about it two weeks later. Heh, elevators as metaphors of the human race.
Grass Dancer by Susan Power
I like to read Native American authors. I must admit I grew up with a romanticized vision of American Indians that white people are prone to having. I also grew up with an unconscious racism that I hope I have rooted out and purged from my self-understanding. As with any fiction, I get an opportunity to get inside the head of a character and her life, and with this book I get a glimpse of the grass dancer. I get a glimpse of the social webs that inform attenders of a powwow, a glimpse of the real presence of ancestors in a native's life. The author warns, quoted here, "I worry too much that people read my work sometimes as History, Sociology, Ethnography, when it's really fiction, and that's all it's meant to be." And she tells a good story, albeit backwards. Most chapters step back in time, sort of like peeling off layers of quilts to find the core of the story that is the body of the ancestral archetype.
The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
Darn it, there's too many patrons at my current library who like scifi/fantasy and are making me aware of more books that I just have to read. Ah, at least they're usually quick reads. In this universe, various countries are run by magicians who get their magical power from djinni. Magicians are no great beings, but petty overlords that think of their djinni slaves as demons, and non-magicians as commoners. As is often the case with fantasy, this trilogy shows some promise in the exploration of class and bigotry.
The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint
Another take on dangerous fairies and the people who attract their attention, and outcast teens becoming something special. A girl moves to town with a past and a free spirit. I've known a couple of strong young women why got messed up around age 13 but they got past that and are now ahead of the game. Tough smart and kind this character reminds me of them. She gets to know a ghost which leads her to the slightly cruel world of fairies. The book is as much or more about her friendship with Maxine who learns to find herself again a character so thus to life
Shadows in Darkness by Elaine Cunningham
A woman must leave the police force when a drug bust goes bad. The first hint that all is not as it seems is when her dying cop friend watches her leave the scene and sees her blue halo.
Clues of corruption and deeper intrigue keep the book moving along, with sexy elven tension kicking it up a notch. Reminds me a lot of Laurell K. Hamilton but with more complex story threads.
Redefining Our Relationships by Wendy-O Matik
I could have written a lot of this book. I have discovered for myself and written a lot of the ideas of this book. I find it interesting that there are so many ways in which people who really give polyamory a fair shake with integrity come upon the same universal ideas. Those who judge it from the outside don't, and those who haven't yet experienced it, don't. This would be a great book for someone who wants to experience polyamory, but wants to know more about what it can be like.
Killing Color by Charlotte Watson Sherman
Very earthy earth mother out of Africa book of short stories. A hint of sacred sexuality enters almost every story. I like that. Every story also has this pulsing ancient wisdom coursing through the bodies of characters, a very physical spirituality. I like that too but not all the time. I didn't get the sense that the characters were different people, but more different aspects, and not very different, of one person.
The Design Center had a floor dedicated to the history of the Kohler Company. Of course the first thing Grandma did was go look to see if there was a picture or mention of Grandpa. The center had a DVD that played over and over about the history of the company, about 25 minutes. I learned that a son of the founder, Walter Kohler, built the American Club to house immigrants, which had a school where they could learn English. His father, John Michael Kohler, was an immigrant from Austria, and set up shop with his father-in-law. After his first wife died he married her little sister. Walter also became a governor of Wisconsin. What a good man, remembered his roots, took care of his workers.
Jump to Walter's grandson who was in charge in 1956. That's when my grandpa worked there and the workers went on strike. Somehow the video and the displays skipped over any mention of those years. I did not even see the word 'strike'. Interesting.
Interesting too that the art found there was this WPA style celebrating workers:
Walter set up a fifty year plan for the company and the Village of Kohler. He went to Europe to examine 'garden cities' and designed Kohler to include natural elements and to use nature to buffer the residential area from the factory. He said people should not only receive wages, they should receive roses. He clearly cared.
But by the time it got to his great grandson, Herbie Kohler Jr, the next 50 year plan included elite golf resorts. The American Club became an exclusive hotel. What a change. It made me wonder if it is inevitable, this familial decline.
What happened in that family that they lost the roots of their founder, the compassion of his son? I might not jump to that conclusion, but then why not show the bad with the good, the strike along with the philanthropy? My mom did say Herbie Kohler Jr does some philanthropic things for the community.
Originally an ironworks, Kohler made gas line fittings among other things:
Kohler was always innovative in its designs. First to bring color to its metal that could match porcelain dishes:
This one is for you, Steve:
Thursday, September 28, 2006
One more thing my grandpa made: a horse race for gambling. My grandpa was of the set that did football pools, dartball (Follow the link...it seems churches in the midwest have dartball leagues.) He made a dartball board that I think went on to a new home. And horseshoes. He was in a horseshoe league and won several trophies over the years, after he retired from the Kohler Company. I am sad to say I never saw him play this game, rolling the handcarved die to determine how far the horse moved, gambling on 'his horse'. After I graduated from college I visited Wisconsin less and less.
Speaking of Kohler, my mom had the good idea for us to visit the Kohler Design Center.
The first floor was a showroom, full of designer bathtubs, showers, and backlit toilets, sinks, and tubs stacked floor to ceiling.
talk about half-nekkid Thursday:
The second floor had designer showcases. Rich bathrooms, cutting edge kitchens.
The basement floor was a history of the Kohler Company...next post.
I missed last week because of my visit to my grandma, so this week she is the subject. I was poking around in the medicine cabinet that is inside the newly installed half-bath that is um, basically in the kitchen. There was just no good place to put a bathroom on the main floor, and it's getting more difficult for Grandma to go up and down the stairs. Incidentally, the medicine cabinet is the same as was always there. Grandpa installed a second sink on the other side of the kitchen sink, and above that sink there has always been this medicine cabinet with a deep storage closet behind it. Grandma would climb up on the sink to get at the stuff in there, such as booze or flower vases. The contractors removed the sink, put in a toilet, a wall behind the kitchen sink, and a plastic accordion-fold door with magnet latch. I found this ancient glass jar of Vaseline in the medicine cabinet, and thought it would be goofy to take a photo of Grandma with her antique Vaseline. She blithely contined to read her paper.
Of course there is the embarrassing story where I was 3 or 4 years old and there was some big family gathering. My grandpa got a pool table for his basement, and all the menfolk were downstairs in the basement, us kids buzzing around them and playing at bowling with the plastic bowling ball and pins. Those red and white chairs may very well have been lined up, and people helped themselves to Red White and Blue or Pabst Blue Ribbon in the fridge behind the bar. I loved the hand-cranked foghorn AhOOOOGAAHH. At some point one of the dads would have to tell us to knock it off. (You think kid's toys are noisy. Hah. ...Grandma sold that, sadly.) So, the embarrassing moment.
An odd thing about this house, no bathroom on the first floor til recently. There is a closet with a toilet in the basement, and a full bath on the second floor. Hmmm. Wonder where the outhouse was back when the place was built in the 1800s. I found out recently that when they moved in, my grandpa put that basement toilet in and fashioned the closet. I latched myself in to pee, and no sooner than I did, some uncle or second cousin knocked on the door and said he had to go. I thought it'd be funny to make him wait, so I stood up on the toilet and giggled while he said, "Come on out, Heidi." I was too little to understand that he was drinking and he really really had to pee. Giggling away, I peed my pants. I guess it hadn't been that long since I'd learned how to use the toilet, but I didn't remember that. Subdued, I climbed off the toilet seat lid, unlatched the door, and meekly snuck away. Upstairs in the kitchen all the women were doing womanly things like packing up or putting out food, washing, drying dishes, etc. I soon realized no one was noticing I peed my pants. After a bit it dried and I thought that was the end, but the next morning I woke up with a horrible rash. Mom asked what happened, and embarrassed again I told her about playing the joke and peeing my pants. She told me I should've said something, she could have washed me off! I was surprised that her reaction didn't match up with my embarrassment. She just considered it an accident, while I thought I'd been an idiot.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Whenever I stayed at my grandparents' house when I was a little girl, if a train came through, my brothers and I would run down to the corner and watch them roll through. A half-dozen or more tracks crossed the street and went on past the depot, no longer used as such, but as a steak restaurant. On the other side of the tracks, Depot Street would take us toward downtown Plymouth. I was around 4 years old when my brothers walked with me through the snow down that street to see a Christmas season showing of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Always part of the scenery was this blond brick building. For some reason I got it into my head that it was a fire house once upon a time. Who knows what little girl reasoning took me there, perhaps it was the round holes near the roof that seemed just right for hoses to be pulled through, the huge garage doors, the utilitarian look of the building. Last year I finally found out this was a depot for the trolley line from the first half of the 20th Century that I never knew about. Turns out the holes near the roof were for the trolley cables.
The line went from Fondulac to Sheboygan, running through Plymouth and Elkhart Lake, and also from Kiel. Grandma said people from Chicago would work hard and save so they could come up and summer at Elkhart Lake. When she was sixteen she worked in a restaurant, and a sister worked cleaning rooms. She didn't like that the customer was always right.
Grandma told the story again about how she rode the trolley so she could be with her sister when she had her baby in Sheboygan. She was scared, but it was so interesting to see the country between Plymouth and Sheboygan from that different view, rather than the usual roads.
Monday, September 25, 2006
One reason I was surprised that my grandpa made that desk is because most woodwork he does has a crude style.
My grandma mentioned he also made the bed in the second spare room. I've rarely noticed that bed because I've always used the first spare room. I went upstairs to investigate.
The bed itself is covered various fragile seasonal decorations, which are themselves covered in plastic. (Such a grandma room.) The soldier in the photo in the center is my cousin Tim. He's been in the National Guard for years and I understand is a major. He came back from Afghanistan with a sore on his face that wouldn't heal, told me that kept him out of Iraq, round one. Now he is in Iraq. May love protect him. He has 2 little ones and another on the way. I'm not close to him, but my heart aches for him and his family. My aunt, his mother, gave my grandma some black and white copies of photos of Tim with his kids while he was in training before he left. He was in the pool with his daughter Gracie, her arms hidden in water-wing bubbles. It seemed to me I could see in his eyes he knew he was seeing the possibility of his own death while he held his daughter in the water, possibly for the last time. I looked at that photo and I thought I could be looking at the last photo of my cousin with his little daughter. Will that little girl remember him, or will her memory be of that photo of the memory of him?
Sunday, September 24, 2006
While visiting my grandma, I went looking in this desk for a pencil, because once again I forgot to pack a pretty hair stick, so I resort to the old standby, a pencil. Many of the memories in my grandma's house are comforting, and many of the things associated with the memories are still there, still in the same places. My grandparents were always the safe port in a storm. This desk has always been the phone desk. The molded fiberglass chair with the flattened pillow has allows been the uncomfortable seat in front of the desk. The Plymouth telephone book has always rested in front of the chair, open to the inside cover where Grandma wrote her important phone numbers. At some point she stopped rewriting and tore off the cover of the old phone book and paper clipped it into every new book that came along. Various other numbers were also paperclipped, whether business cards or ads from the paper.
The pencil had always been in the top right desk drawer, along with its other half-dozen companions. I realized those pencils had to be as old as me. (I brought the pencil home with me. Perhaps each time I visit from now on I'll bring one of those vintage pencils back.)
I must have made some comment about liking the desk, or the desk still being here, and Grandma said, "Grandpa made that desk."
"He what? He made it? I never knew that. When did he make it?"
Mom said, "Yeah, he made that in the 50s." All my life it never occurred to me it was that old, nor that he made it. To me, it never aged, but now as I examine the photo, I see the yellowing of the glue that peeks around the edges of the laminate. And now that I show Steve, he says, "My dad made one something like that too. I wonder if they both worked from a template in 'Popular Mechanics'. My mom had it in her hair styling shop."
I said then, "I wonder if I could inherit it." Grandma said, "I'll put it on the list." Mom commented it didn't go with any of her stuff. I'd kind of wondered about that. In the past Grandma told us who would inherit what particular antiques, mostly a few particular dishes. I wondered if plans were being made about the many things in her big house. She often says, "I always wanted a big house." I liked that it was kind of nonchalant. Yes, Grandma's stuff would have to go somewhere after she dies, and yes, if there are things we are fond of, we could ask for them.
I slid the drawers in and out just as I did when I was a little girl, and I wonder at how he made the drawers fit just right. I marvel at how all this time I took for granted that this thing came from a store ready-made. Suddenly this desk that embodied comforting memories now carried a piece of my grandpa.
The conversation moved on to other things my grandpa made. Grandma said, "That guy. He was always coming home with TV cabinets. Those chairs were made from TV cabinets." I didn't know that. I decided to wander around the house and take photos of things my grandpa made.
Of course I always knew the
bar was made from TV cabinets. (That's my mom.)
See? : more to come....
I'm back from a short visit to Wisconsin. Of course my mom felt it was too short. I thought it was about right for me. It's easier to visit in small doses.
I wrote some stuff on my portable desktop (if you look closely you can see the zipper from my suitcase, underneath the book, underneath the palm with keyboard):
My grandma ain't dyin' yet, though she is losing weight. My mom and I talked about how she seems to hide when she smokes, we wondered if she wants it to be her own private pleasure.
My corn-fed towhead twin nephews gave me an awesome ~2 foot vase that they made. I didn't get the chance to see their older brother (my godson).
The plane trips weren't as annoyingly uncomfortable as I thought they'd be, perhaps because I was expecting them to be.
More on all that later. Because of the trip, missed the weekly HNT. not sure I'll do Da Count...I do that here anyway.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Day before yesterday I went to the farmer's market as I do most weeks in the summer, and I met Steve's girlfriend Krissy there. The market is shrinking as fall approaches, or as vendors decide they don't like the Thursday afternoon sales, sadly. Krissy and the hard cider seller exchanged pleasantries over being happy that fall weather has arrived. It rained pretty hard several times yesterday, with sun in between, cool temperatures. I looked up at the dark sky against the green trees and the grey-black castle-like church next door, and smiled and sighed. Krissy asked me what's wrong? or what's up? and I said, "Oh nothing, I'm just happy to be here." We bought a few more things and visited the mushroom vendor. Last week Krissy and I shared a creamed lobster mushroom dish I made, bought from this seller. (Our SO Steve was working.) This seller always has a sauteed sample of her mushrooms. The shitakes were all gone; we learned that she grows them on her farm in the coastal range and picks them the morning of the market. The other wild mushrooms she usually picks the day or evening before. Shopping done, Krissy gave me a ride home.
I've thought about the warnings I've received over the years about having an open relationship, and how people on the outside of such "lifestyles" see them as doomed, as craven, as lacking, as emotionally immature. I've been thinking of how my fears going into it were shaped by those judgments, but once we got ourselves more fully immersed, I found more capacity to feel love and compassion, more spiritual wisdom. What troubles I encountered stemmed more from fear of those judgments than from having an open relationship. Well, that and what do we call ourselves? English has no good words for lovers, wives, and girlfriends. So here we were, two women who love the same man, shopping together. The wife and the girlfriend, imbalanced words, that's so unfair. I was glad we could share a little time together.
I think I was content in being human, feeling the cool air, seeing the saturated colors from the earlier rain, finding sustenance along with a significant friend. It feels so right, yet so many view this kind of family as wrong, as perverse. We're showing them.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Here's another weekly blogging world posting. I am so on the fringes of the blogging world. I don't have time to read a whole lot of other people's blogs, don't have the time to engage in those little niceties in comments that sometimes become more like a web board chat room. But I can see the merit in participating in this, like HNT yesterday, or today, Da Count...I do really well with deadlines. At the very least this could keep me posting consistently and keep those creative juices flowing. So maybe I really will do these regularly. We'll see.
Thanks to HNT I came across Da Count, but I was already thinking about writing about something that counts today.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I get a few email alerts for sex columns in the Village Voice. This week the theme seems to be cheaters. Tristan Taormino wonders why so many more people cheat, rather than try out the honest open relationships of polyamory. She reports here that the one personals site specifically for the polyamorous, polymatchmaker.com, has 7,000 members. A website for married seeking married (cheaters) has over a million members.
I also get an email alert for Dan Savage's column. A woman admits to a problem with cheating. Dan asks her why she isn't upfront with new lovers, and gives a great plug for honest open relationships. He quite rightly notices her final sentence, "I just wish I could stop," and says that's something she "should definitely hash out with a shrink."
I finally started using technorati after I got some snarky attention from some sites that shall remain unnamed and unlinked here...I don't want to get their attention again. (Of course one can use technorati to find those sites that linked to mine.) I started noodling around and looked for other blogs talking about Buddhism or polyamory.
I found Polyamorously Perverse, by a guy who is refreshingly candid and articulate about his path towards (or not towards) polyamory. He is that rare man who came out to his wife as non-monogamously inclined, and proceeded to work on nurturing and repairing his marriage while convincing her how important this is to him. I've met men who've lied to me and said they're single, or that they're in an open relationship, or that they have a "don't ask don't tell" policy (wishful thinking), or have been honest with me that they are indeed looking to cheat. I have felt sad for a good many of them, because it was apparent that they felt no other way was possible. They didn't want to lose their wives, but they were incredibly unhappy in their sex life. (That is not always to be believed either.)
So it was quite refreshing to come across this thoughtful, candid, despairing man who is indeed a case in point as to why there are a million members of the cheaters site, and only 7,000 on the openly poly site. Some people just don't want to do the work it takes to nurture a relationship, whether poly or mono. No doubt I will steer cheaters there in the future.
I would say more but it's late. Thoughts on why people choose cheating when I return.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
In Buddhism it is usually a bad idea to solidify one's identity around a specific event or idea, good or bad. It creates addictions and aversions. We are now firmly entrenched in a 9/11 ID as individuals and as a nation. I know of no one who has a neutral reaction. Warmongers use it to perpetuate war. Peacemongers resent the use of it to perpetuate war. People cling to the fear and justify aggression. People cling to the uplifting memories of kindness and fortitude. We can't keep living on these memories, can't keep using them to make negative judgments about this world that we live in now. We need to be kind from this moment, loving from this moment, have empathy for suffering of those around us in this moment.
If it's come up with people in my life, I've found that people wish to avoid the whole 5 year remembrance mostly because it continues to be used for various agendas. I certainly wanted to avoid the ABC propaganda movie. I learned all I needed to know here and here.
I meant to go to a prayer and fast vigil downtown before I went to work, but my bus was late and I missed the chanting of my Nichiren Buddhist friends, pics here.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I started watching The View this week because Rosie O'Donnell has joined the show as moderator. I'm not sure if I'll keep watching it, because the last thing I need is another 40 minutes of TV to watch a day, even if I vaguely watch it while I multitask.
I asked Steve if he remembered why I liked watching the Rosie O'Donnell Show. He thought maybe because she likes musicals. I can't recall exactly why, maybe because she was quirky, childlike without being childish, and upbeat and dared to be a single mom adopting, and well, fat. (This was before she came out. Either way, she is to be admired.) I even got a Rosie doll, which I was promptly embarrassed about and sold at a rummage sale. Speaking of quirky, anybody remember Jim J and Tammy Faye? I was sad that didn't last very long. My estimation of Tammy Faye went way up with that show. I'm not really into talk shows so I was kind of mystified by my attraction to the Rosie show.
So, I tuned in to The View with the help of TiVo, and looked around to find out a little more about Rosie's comeback. She hasn't been on my radar because she hasn't tried to be...been a stay-at-home mom for 4 years, doing some painting, some charity work, while her wife worked. She has a blog that is kinda neat, short stream-of-consciousness like every thing's a poem.
The show is OK. Like any group finding the groove in which they talk well together, they're all excited and talking all at once and Rosie has gotta have something to say about everything. I'm sure that'll settle down. I notice today they didn't talk about current events, while they did before...just girl stuff. I probably won't watch the show because they do a lot of that, talk girl stuff. I admire what they do, and it's refreshing to see a group of women hold a coffee clutch on national TV, but it's not my bag.
It occurred to me that when I visit New York again (yes I am, soon ;-) that perhaps I could get in the audience. No such luck. The website says tickets are gone a year out. I found this site that explains there are stand-by tickets, but you have to wait around for hours and you still may not get in. I couldn't stand around on cement for that long when I was size 18, much less when size 28. There are some nasty comments about Rosie on that site, homophobic jerks.
First show with Ro, they were talking about traveling. I was disturbed to hear co-host Joy say that she is afraid to fly. She's afraid terrorists will blow the plane up. She sees a mother with a baby bottle and she thinks it could be a bomb. She's been had, she's bought into it. There was never any danger that terrorists were going to blow up a plane with a bomb cocktail with bottles of "water" that they smuggled on board a plane. The British stopped the plotters before they even could make a dry run of a plot that most likely wouldn't have even worked. But the Bush administration pressured the British into making an arrest earlier then they intended (why? we should be asking why) and now the airlines are footing the bill for all that increased checked baggage and security costs much more and it's all pretty useless in increasing our safety. But, as Joy did, people buy into the scare tactics of the warmongers. This stuff is not necessary, see this Salon article if you're not convinced. I am convinced they know it's not necessary, but they know that making all travelers abstain from water and shampoo keeps it ever present in people's minds that terror is just around the corner and we must keep the warmongers in office.
Yesterday the show was interrupted with a special news bulletin with the revelation that the CIA indeed has secret prisons where they indeed were torturing prisoners. It made me sick. The new anchors talked about military tribunals as if equal to civilian trials in court, but did not mention that the Supreme Court deemed them illegal, and now Bush is trying to get Congress to make them legal.
Today, no talk of current events on The View, or that their show was interrupted, at least on the west coast. What, did someone tell them to stay away from the current events? How could they not talk about this? Why aren't we talking about this?
I think rather than watch, I'll just peek in at Rosie's blog once in a while.
Monday, September 04, 2006
There is a nationwide campaign for a plan for peace in Iraq called the Declaration of Peace. I hope that is old news for you. You can read and sign the Peace Pledge here. Here in Portland there will be a street hearing on the war with public testimony (somewhat open mike). That's on Monday, the 21st, the deadline that the campaign gave to our government to come up with that plan.
Happily, one of our lawmakers will not be targeted for nonviolent civil disobedience. My own Congressman, Earl Blumenauer, signed the peace pledge. The folks lobbying him regarding the DoP were surprised that he did, and they felt he "came across as very serious and heartfelt about Iraq." The full report from their meeting can be found here.
Also on Saturday, September 23 there will be a candlelight vigil on the bridges as part of the campaign to pull out from Iraq. Info here.
These happen to fall on days that I am visiting Wisconsin. I looked, not much going on there, and nothing near my Grandma, the reason for my visit. But before that, I'll be at the Belmont Street Fair on September 9. The Buddhists are congregating at the Nichiren Buddhist Temple on Belmont and 20th. I'm betting the DoP folks will be at the fair too. Maybe I'll get to see the rolling rubble tour. (A diorama depicting a bombed home, on a trailer) Maybe I can do something at the BPF booth related to this.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
So the day after I whine about GWB being a sociopath, this arrives in my inbox. Swami calls for an Up-Wising. Among other things, he says,
It's true, many people still feel that the affairs of the world should be left to the bolder and badder among us. But look what that leaves us with: Are you satisfied choosing between Saddam Hussein and George Who's-Not-Sane? Now I know those "God, guns and guts" Old Testament Christians might have forgotten, but Jesus did say that the meek shall inherit the earth. In all undue immodesty, maybe it's time for us meek folks to boldly step forth and accept our inheritance.
I guess he's saying what I was saying....but he's funny.
"Can we change the course of history? Can we shift our karma into surpassing gear? ...We don't have to wait until the first Big Shot is fired. If we create a powerful enough field, the Big Shots will end up firing themselves."
I keep hearing from people a certain note of despair, unsolicited. I hear this refrain, "I keep thinking it can't get any worse than this, and it gets worse!" This country I live in has invaded countries, has decimated its own constitution, and has failed its own cities, yet there are still too many people who will not call the kettle black.
I just watched Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke. All Americans who have HBO should see this, and they should make sure their friends who don't have HBO get a chance to see it. I knew FEMA, Homeland Security, and Bush mishandled the devastation from Katrina, but I didn't know the degree. It's four hours long because Lee pulls out most of the threads that add up to this tragedy. There's the historical poverty and lack of support for New Orleans. The levees that weren't really levees were allowed to suffice when it was known they could not withstand a category 3 hurricane, something that was not common knowledge for the residents. There's the racism, the classism, the bodies left for weeks, homes marked as searched but not, the incredible delay of temporary trailers from FEMA. The only government agency that shined was the Coast Guard, who went above and beyond.
And four hours was still too short. There was not a mention of the prisoners simply left behind in locked cells. ACLU has photos of a few here. There was just a little mention that some in New Orleans hoped that certain element would not come back to New Orleans, that is, the poor black element. Just a little mention that developers are drooling over the properties of the 9th Ward, and hmmm, that sure is taking a long time to clean up. Not really a mention that hordes of volunteers have been doing the cleanup work that should have been done weeks and months before by FEMA.
Over and over the righteously angry citizens of New Orleans asked how this could happen in a country as wealthy as the USA. One man said he could not understand how there were people who still could not see George Bush for what he is. What Kanye West said was true, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," but it is also pretty clear he doesn't care about the people, period. He's one of those sociopaths that flutter around religion like a moth to a light. That sort of person knows the power they can wield with religion, and people ignore reality because he's "right with God".
I dread what the next two years bring. Democrats are working hard to take back Congress. I have little hope that they will make a difference if they do, but at least more of them will speak up against the atrocities. Even though we are already devastated economically with two major military actions still going on, and with the after-effects of Katrina still affecting whole regions due to gas prices, I fear some Wag the Dog occurrence will cause that war on Iran. And it will still get worse.
More people are asking, "What can I do?" and that is good. I hope they follow up and do what they can, but they shouldn't expect too much. After all, millions of people marching in the streets were dismissed as a "focus group" and we went to war based on lies anyway. If we can find our own small way to put a wrench in the works, perhaps the force of the people can take this country back. Whether it's volunteering for the GI Rights Hotline, or joining the ACLU, or living true to yourself in spite of the loss of our civil liberties, or speaking up when someone regurgitates untrue propaganda, there are many little ways in which we can change the course. Or at least live with ourselves.
I have been quite happy lately. I feel lucky that I have the life I have, the friends I have, the lovers I have. I enjoy the sweetness that I have, but I know it will not last. I don't cling to it, but I savor it, and if I have such good fortune and love, how can I not share it? I know if fate had placed me in New Orleans, I would not be so fortunate or happy right now. If I have something to give, how can I not give it? People thank me for the good work I do for peace, but I feel like I'm still just a dabbler. And really, I feel better and happier for doing it.