Monday, December 11, 2006

Celebrating the Holiday

International Human Rights Day, that is!

In observance of the day, The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime called for people to wear orange jumpsuits at work, at the mall, on the bus to raise consciousness not only about American abuses at Guantanamo, in Iraq, and internationally with the practice of "extreme rendition", but also with the essential legalization of torture with the passage this fall of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

With Corpus Delicti, I performed on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica in an orange jumpsuit. Here are a few pictures (thank you James):





It was amazing the number of people who had no idea what the orange jumpsuits meant. I've had a number of people tell me lately that there's no point to political education or teach-ins, because everyone already knows what's going on. If random people making comments at us last night are any indication, a substantial number of people are clueless. (How to educate them is another question...)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Art - Advertising - Capitalism - BAM!

I just finished reading John Berger's 1972 book Ways of Seeing. What I thought would be an interesting book about the act of looking, ended up really blowing my mind politically. It took what I know about advertising, and made the connections to political apathy, Art with a capital A, possession/consumerism, pop culture... Let me give you a sample.

"Glamour cannot exist without personal social envy being a common and widespread emotion. The industrial society which has moved towards democracy and then stopped half way is the ideal society for generating such an emotion. The pursuit of individual happiness has been acknowledged as a universal right. Yet the existing social conditions make the individual feel powerless. He lives in the contradiction between what he is and what he would like to be. Either he then becomes fully conscious of the contradiction and its causes, and so joins the political struggle for a full democracy which entails, amongst other things, the overthrow of capitalism; or else he lives, continually subject to an envy which, compounded with his sense of powerlessness, dissolves into recurrent day-dreams."

And so people buy lottery tickets and watch "reality" television and care more about what Paris Hilton does than George Bush.

"Publicity turns consumption into a substitute for democracy. The choice of what one eats (or wears or drives) takes the place of significant political choice. Publicity helps to mask and compensate for all that is undemocratic within society. And it also masks what is happening in the rest of the world."

Thus American Idol boasts that no American president has ever gotten as many votes - 63 million in last spring's finale - as their show.

"All hopes are gathered together, made homogeneous, simplified, so that they become the intense yet vague, magical yet repeatable promise offered in every purchase. No other kind of hope or satisfaction or pleasure can any longer be envisaged within the culture of capitalism."

The book ends with the image of Magritte's On the Threshold of Liberty, and the invitation and declaration, "To be continued by the reader..."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Comedians in Dramatic Roles

After we saw Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction on Thanksgiving, (which I quite liked) we were talking about other comedians' first (and/or notable) forays into dramatic roles, and how Stranger Than Fiction compared to the others. Here are some we came up with:

Ben Stiller in Permanent Midnight (same year as Your Friends & Neighbors, but I hate that movie; Reality Bites and Flirting with Disaster were both earlier, but not as good as Permanent Midnight)

Brendan Frasier Gods and Monsters

Adam Sandler Punch Drunk Love (looking back, I'm not sure that movie holds up)

Jim Carrey Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (ok, Truman Show was way before, but nothing holds a candle to Eternal Sunshine)

Bill Murray Lost in Translation (yes, all Wes Anderson movies, yes Ed Wood; I never saw The Razor's Edge)

Yeah, yeah, Robin Williams. I'm too lazy to look up his films, whatever.

Please add your faves!

Celebrity Sightings part deux

I saw Juliet Landau again, this time at Sankai Juku's performance at Royce Hall. I believe I read somewhere that she used to be a ballet dancer... maybe she does butoh now?



And I saw Toni Basil at Eiko & Koma's performance at Kaufman Hall at UCLA. I am not using Toni's picture from "Mickey" (even though I still own the 45) because she is a choreographer (hey, David Bowie's Glass Spider tour!), and I want to picture her here as more than a one-hit wonder.



I have to get over my celebrity shyness and just go talk to people!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Celebrity Sightings

It seems the Chinese Theater is the place to go for celebrity sightings, even at a Sunday matinee of Borat. And this is just in the movie theater itself. If we'd wanted to go for some heavy-duty sightings, we could have checked out the Happy Feet premiere (rather than hanging out in Virgin) or we could have hung around for the Deck the Holidays premiere later in the day.

Sitting next to Karl was John Billingsley, best known to me as Dr. Phlox on Star Trek Enterprise. He's also in that show The Nine. I've never seen it, but I've seen the billboard. He and his companion really enjoyed the movie.



Also enjoying Borat this afternoon was Doris Roberts. I know she was on Everybody Loves Raymond (except, evidently, me), but I prefer to think of her in Remington Steele.



Yesterday, walking down Melrose, I spotted Dagney Kerr, Buffy's roommate Kathy at the beginning of season 4. She seemed to be looking at a storefront space with a friend and discussing what they would be able to do with the space. OK, I recognize that she is not a celebrity to most people, but she was on Buffy!



My most exciting celebrity sighting so far was of Juliet Landau (Drusilla on Buffy and Angel). She was in line in front of me at Oguri's performance at Electric Lodge a few weeks ago, and asked me to save her spot in line. I of course said yes!



This does not count all the celebrities I met at a benefit for World Can't Wait back in September. Let's just say at one point I was sitting at a table with Michelle Phillips next to me, and Ed Asner and Gore Vidal across from me! I was also excited to talk to Debbie Allen. I was most excited, however, to see Rene Auberjonois. Odo!!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

7 MPG

That's the vanity license plate I just saw on a H2 Hummer (yes, the BIIIIG one) driving down Pico near Century City.

I'm still speechless.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Visit Corpus Gardens at Hollywood Forever on Dia de los Muertos... 4pm Saturday Oct. 28






Bienvenidos Hajimemashite Welcome to

(begin jingle)

We're Rendition Airlines, Doing What We do Best

Entry Visa Denied...
> Fly the Friendly Skies...

(circus sounds)

Heyyyyah! Heyyyyyah!!!!!!
step right up!
the Greatest show of Empire!
fear! danger!
torture!
trained prisoners!
the love and romance of heavy artillery!
a manifest destinty extravaganza!
heartstopping entertainment!
one day ONLY!

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

It's that MOST wonderful time of the year!
Corpus Delicti is inviting you to participate in
our 4th Dia de los Muertos Butoh Extravaganza
at Hollywood Forever Cemetary.

here is their website
http://www.ladayofthedead.com/

here is our website
http://www.corpusbutoh.org

These festivites are well attended, and several
thousand people from all walks of life come to this
event. More and more come every year. It is covered by
all sorts of media, and a splendid time is had by all.

The Hollywood Forever folks give us a wonderful, prime
cemetary plot where we make our
installation/environment in which we perform.
We will be doing 2 performances, roughly an hour each,
beginning with
the opening procession from 4:30 to 5, after which we
perform from 5 to 6 with an hour break and then a
second show from 7 to 8.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I wish they had a mute button

So I've discovered that the marching band is not so great when I'm trying to rehearse. Try choreographing a dance about torture while the marching band plays "Surfing USA"! There's just no way to drown that out.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Once a Band Geek...

I have to admit I get a kick out of hearing the UCLA marching band rehearse as I'm walking across campus. There's just something about the sound of a marching band!

I was in marching band throughout high school. I marched flute the first 3 years (including my junior year when, early in the season, I marched right off the field in protest of the band director, Mr. S., who was sexually harassing students, as well as being inappropriate with our mothers. (OK, so I left during the rehearsal right before the game, but it still felt pretty dramatic to me!) We succeeded in getting rid of the scumbag, but it did take the whole school year and a battle with the principal. My senior year, I convinced our new and wonderful director, whose name I am forgetting, that because I'd played organ, I was qualified to join the drum corps playing xylophone. It worked! Not only was I now in the coolest section of the marching band, because our school was poor, we didn't have marching xylophones, only stationary ones, so I didn't even have to actually march!

A few years ago, I was in a piece of Ellen Godena's called 'STATIC isaStateofTelevisionReception'. In one section, we dressed in band uniforms painted white and marched onstage to Nine Inch Nails' "March of the Fuckheads" (if I remember the title correctly. Ellen toured with the Boston Crusaders Drum Corps Colorguard as a teenager, so she shares my nostalgia for marching.

So I guess once a band geek, always a band geek!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Los Angeles Didn't Suck!

A little Boston nostalgia Friday night, with a show at the Troubadour by 2 Boston greats, Kristin Hersh/50 Foot Wave (now based on the west coast) and Mission of Burma. I even spotted a guy in a WBCN t-shirt, and I swear I saw Mike from Buttercup in the crowd, but before I got a chance to find out, he disappeared.

At the end of an amazing show, Mission of Burma's Roger Miller said "We thought Los Angeles was going to suck. It didn't suck! Thanks!"

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Domino's Delivers

So, we're still getting to know our neighborhood, and figuring out the good places to eat. We asked our neighbor, Blanca, for the best local pizza and she said Domino's. I was hoping she'd say La Pizza Loca - we got a circular from them, and I was hoping they'd be good. Maybe I just like saying the name! Domino's is right around the corner, so it's very convenient. Being a good pro-choice activist, I haven't had Domino's since a boycott was called in the late 80s due to founder and former owner Tom Monaghan's financial support of the violent anti-choice group Operation Rescue, among others. A while ago, Monaghan sold Domino's, as well as the Detroit Tigers, and focused on starting Ave Maria School of Law, a conservative Catholic law school. His first hire? Robert Bork. Anyway, the pizza's ok. It satisfies a craving in a pinch, but I don't think I was missing anything the last 18 years.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Los Angeles I'm Yours

Classes haven't started yet, but my job on campus has, so I've been heading over to UCLA a few times a week.

Readers of my blog, and people who know me, know that I am not fond of driving. I have been taking the bus from near my home in "Wilshire Vista" to UCLA, a direct shot northwest on San Vicente to Sunset to UCLA. Depending on traffic, this takes 1/2 hour to one hour. It seems long, but then I remind myself that it's no different from taking the T from JP to Harvard Sq. Yes, I still have to put everything in Boston or New York contexts in order to process them.

Anyway, the bus is very interesting. I'm pretty much the only white person on the bus to UCLA. The bus route goes through Beverly Hills, and it's pretty much all people of color going there to work. Class and race are really front and center in LA!!

After passing over Wilshire Blvd., I soon view Cedars Sinai hospital, and the famous view of the Max Factor building that you see in tv shows and movies.

The bus takes a left turn on the Sunset Strip at the famed Whiskey a Go Go. A string of other clubs follows until a few blocks later the Strip suddenly ends and Beverly Hills begins. (cue 90210 theme song here) BH is marked by high walls and even higher privet hedges, wide winding roads, and McMansions under construction. Here all the stereotypes are blatantly evident: crews of Latino workers working on lawns and blowing leaves and signs advertising Star Maps. I spotted the sign marking the entrance to Bel Air, which actually features a gate. Forget gated communities, Bel Air advertises itself as a gated city!

At this point the bus takes another left onto Hilgard, and winds it's way past the eastern border of UCLA and into Westwood village. The shops in Westwood Village are pretty generic college fare, though there are some beautiful old movie houses such as the Fox Village Theatre (built in 1931) and the Bruin Theatre (1937). There are also some good places to eat such as Native Foods and Jerry's Famous Deli.

I get off the bus at UCLA's Ackerman Terminal.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Albuquerque, NM to Los Angeles, CA

The last day of our journey to start our new lives in Southern California!

As we were packing up the car Thursday morning for the final leg of our journey, we were treated to the sight of 3 or 4 hot air balloons in the air over Albuquerque.

We got on 40 West around 8 am, and decided to revisit our “East vs. West” mixed CDs.
One CD features the Kingston Trio doing “The M.T.A.”, which readers of my blog might remember is the song that the new MBTA “Charlie Card” is named after. It was fun to actually hear the song. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I still can’t believe the MBTA would name their new system after a character in a song written in protest of fare hikes!

With the speed limit at 75, we cruised through beautiful New Mexico, passing through many Indian reservations, including the Laguna and Cononcito.

As we passed the Continental Divide, I thought to myself that Karl and I are like the rivers – now flowing to the Pacific instead of the Atlantic. Even when I was a teenager, New York City was my true north. For a few years, at least, I guess my inner magnet will be pulled southwest instead of northeast.

Karl commented that the mountains look like “ships on a sea of green.” New Mexico’s drought is finally over, with a full-on monsoon season, so things are greener than usual.

As we passed into Arizona, we drove through the Navajo reservation, and just north of the Zuni reservation.

We made a spur of the moment decision to visit the Petrified Forest National Park, since 40 goes right through the park. We took advantage of the visit to buy an annual pass to the National Parks, as we anticipate visiting many more in the coming year here in the west. When you enter the park, you first come to the Painted Desert, which took our breath away. It’s so stunning, and so vast. We had seen colors like this at the “Artist’s Palette” in Death Valley, but the size of the Painted Desert makes a much bigger impression. A sign answered my question of the other day – we were able to spot a mountain range 120 miles away! We stopped at the Painted Desert Inn at the recommendation of the Ranger in the visitor center. The Inn was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps of the Works Progress Administration. What is somewhat unusual about the project, was that the CCC also created some beautiful things beyond the building itself, including a gorgeous painted glass ceiling which references local petroglyphs, pounded tin chandeliers, and furniture. Later, I believe in the 40s, the lodge was decorated further to include paintings by a Native America artist, John(?) Kabotie. His son Michael was the artist in residence when we visited. We chatted with him about his beautiful silver work, which he saws to make the patterns. We continued through the park, stopping at the Teepees and the Blue Mesa. Since we were limited on time, we did not get to see the Petroglyphs or take any of the trails. As you near the Teepees, you can start to see petrified wood from the car. We saw some beautiful examples up close in the Giant Logs trail just behind the Rainbow Forest Museum.

Delayed a few hours in our trip, but happy with our stop, we continued on. We soon passed through Flagstaff, where we saw our first mileage sign for LA! Flagstaff is not far from the Grand Canyon, and as if on cue, the landscape changed from desert to forest. In fact, we drove through the Kaibob National Forest. At some point in Arizona, we watched our odometer roll over to 90,000 miles!

Some random things we saw on the way:
• Refineries
• Billboard: “If NAFTA hasn’t crushed you yet, the FTAA will”
• The Wigwam Motel
• The Twin Arrows Trading Post, with old school giant arrows
• Replicas of famous bridges
• Rain falling in spots over the mountains
• On the back of a semi: “Upstairs his name is Jesus”

After the East vs. West CDs were over, we listened to The Rapture. Then I decided it was high time to feature some California bands, given that we were practically there. So we listened to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, System of a Down, Van Halen, the Beach Boys, Beck, and The Coup.

As we entered California, we had to stop at an inspection station. I had a panic that they would confiscate my plants, which would have been horrible for them to make it this far and then get taken away! The inspector did ask to look at the plants, and our cooler. Karl said we were coming from Albuquerque (rather than Boston), and evidently that was the answer that kept our plants and apples safe!

As we entered the Mojave Desert, we could see evidence of a fire. At first we thought it was a brush fire, but then we saw a train right by where the giant flames were leaping into the sky, so our best guess is that a train car or its contents caught on fire. We also saw lightning off in the distance.

If I can impart a bit of hard-earned wisdom, let me pass on the following advice for driving through the Mojave Desert:
1. Don’t do it during the day without air conditioning!
2. Get your gas before you enter the desert, or, like us, you will pay $4.69 per gallon!
3. Don’t do the drive at sunset. It’s beautiful, but let me tell you, riding off into the sunset really hurts your eyes when you’re driving!

Luckily, we did plan ahead and bring plenty of extra water and coolant.

Finally, we left the desert at Barstow, and headed south along 15 towards the Valley. In San Bernardino, we caught “the 10” west towards LA. Even though it was 9pm on a Thursday, we immediately hit traffic – welcome to LA!

For the last stretch, we played Richard’s CD “Found Your Way Home,” which was a beautiful but sad compilation of alt-country and “Americana” songs by Richard’s brother Rod Picott, Lucinda Williams, Eliot Smith and the like. Perfect for the melancholy mood of ending our cross-country journey, and starting our new life in LA.

We arrived at our apartment around 10pm, and got in without too much trouble, considering we were bleary-eyed and faced with 4 keys that looked exactly alike.

We slept on our inflatable mattress the first night, and our “ReloCubes” arrived at 10am on Friday. We unloaded all our stuff (thank goodness we’re on the first floor!) and also did some initial shopping at Target, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods, for things like a trash can, cleaning supplies, a shower curtain, and some food. By the end of the day, we had our bed and the bathroom set up enough to take showers and tumble into bed.

Today (Saturday) we face the challenge of making all of our stuff that fit into a 5 room apartment (with storage space) into a 3 room apartment with no storage. Hopefully we got rid of enough stuff!

The cats are due to arrive on Tuesday, and then we’ll be truly settled!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Albuquerque, NM

Today was a "rest" day, and time to hang out with our hosts, Kat and Jim. They fixed us a lovely breakfast, even thinking to buy us vegetarian sausage!

Then we were treated to a driving tour of Albuquerque, including the Ballon Fiesta Park (Kat and Jim crew the festival - their favorite aspect is chasing after the ballons to help them land), the lovingly restored Kimo Theater, Central Ave (the historical Route 66) and Old Town.

We had a delicious late lunch/early dinner at Hot Tamale. I had delicious Chiles Rellenos, and fresh sopapillas. Yummy! Our waitress reminded me of Deb in Napoleon Dynamite. Sweet and enthusiastic, yet awkward at points. She also had the same face.

After a brief rest, we took the "world's longest aerial tramway" to Sandia Peak at 10,378'. The 15 minute tram ride was quite stunning, and the view of the sunset from the top was gorgeous. After, we enjoyed drinks and dessert at the High Finance Restaurant (more truth in advertising). On the way down, we enjoyed the lit up city. As the Jayhawks say, "The lights of the city look so good, almost like somebody thought they would."

To make our American journey complete, Karl and I experienced Walmart for the first time in our lives tonight. We bought coolant and a gallon of water for our crossing of Arizona tomorrow. Our host Jim is a big Walmart fan; Kat elected to stay in the car.

Now I'm trying to get all the photos uploaded to the computer and finish all my blogs given that we've got good wireless connection here. We're going to try and hit the road by 7am tomorrow, so I want to go to bed really soon.

I haven't described Kat and Jim's wild and fabulous house yet, nor their African Grey bird, Smoky. Perhaps that's better left for a pictorial!

Ft. Worth, TX to Albuquerque, NM

On Tuesday we set out for our 10 hour drive, 287 N to 40 W. Knowing that we'd need to be well fortified, we stopped by Central Market for coffee and a smoothie.

One of the first things we passed through was the LBJ National Grasslands. I thought this would be interesting to see, but I couldn't spot it from the highway. Much of this part of west Texas, heading towards Amarillo, is ranchland. We spotted our first cowboy, and many cows.



I don't know how far you can see in these parts, but to quote The Who, "I can see for miles and miles." One of the things that breaks up the horizon is the many freight trains going by. I had no idea that Karl was so into freight trains. I took this picture for him:



287 went on and on and Amarillo felt as far away as Buffalo does when you're driving through upstate New York. We passed through many towns where the highway slowed down, and in the bigger ones there was even a stoplight or two. Each of these towns had an old-fashioned main street. One had a hotel called "It'll do." I guess it's good to have truth in advertising! As in the rest of Texas, we passed more porn shops and nudie bars than Jesus billboards. I guess if you're repressed in one arena, it's going to explode in another - excuse the pun!

As we finally neared the New Mexico border, the landscape slowly started to change. Mesas appeared.



40 parallels the old Route 66 for much of the way. When we got off the highway to get gas, we took this picture:



New Mexico was really a treat for sore eyes. These clouds looked painted on:



We continued down the alphabet, with a soundtrack of Liz Phair, Lou Reed, Mojo Nixon, Parliament, Peter Gabriel, The Police, Prince, and Public Enemy.

We arrived in Albuquerque around 6:30, and stopped by our friends' Kat and Jim's place to drop off our stuff before going to dinner with other friends, Joan and Sami.

Joan and Sami have a lovely house with a beautiful oasis of a backyard, with a goldfish pond, hummingbirds, and their cat Squeak, dog Yoyo, and bird Carly. All of the animals seem to get along, some more enthusiastically than others.

After a lovely dinner of mushroom lasagne, we started to crash, so we returned to Jim and Kat's red room for the night.

Austin, TX to Ft. Worth, TX

We awoke this morning to our host, Tomas, frantically searching for his keys. He finally found his spare car key, and made his way late to work. Meanwhile, as we packed up our car, we discovered his keys on the floor of our front seat - we felt so bad!

Both Tomas and Tory work organizing day laborers and ensuring that they get paid through filing wage claims. They have many outrageous stories of what day laborers go through. Tomas has been working with day laborers who are in New Orleans doing the most dangerous demolition and clearing of toxic materials.

We spent the morning taking care of some logistics for our move, such as making arrangements to have our cats flown out to us (much more involved than we imagined) and getting our electricity and gas turned on in our new apartment. Tomas' wife, Maureen, is a vet tech, and gave us good information.

Then we headed over to Dave and Tory's again. Tory stayed home with Elle, while David took us to El Chile for a yummy lunch accompanied by a 9-11 conspiracy theory discussion. I admit it, I initiated the conversation! I really wanted to hear David's responses to a few questions.

Even though he's on parental leave, David had a meeting at UT, so we headed over there so he could meet with some graduate students who he's organizing. He left Karl and me to wander around the LBJ library and museum. My favorite campaign button was "I'm a Beatle fan. In case of emergency, cast my vote for LBJ." I guess it must have made sense in context. David's meeting was a non-event, so we hurried through the rest of the display, and out to the car. David drove us through downtown Austin, and pointed out the state house and main quad of UT, both of which were purposefully built facing south to honor the Confederacy!

I learned an interesting thing from our native Texas friends: the "Don't Mess With Texas" slogan actually originated as an anti-littering campaign. There was a commercial which featured Stevie Ray Vaughn evidently! I like that slogan much better now!

We wish we had more time to check out Austin: the music scene, the bats coming from under the bridge... guess we'll just have to visit again! We were impressed with the local MTV type station that played cool alternative videos as well as local music.

Finally it was time for us to head north to Ft. Worth on 35. We said goodbye to our good friends and hit the road, but not before stopping at a great coffee shop, Ruta Maya.

Our soundtrack for the 3 hour drive, now based on the alphabetical method, was Le Tigre, L7, and LCD Soundsystem.

Along the way, we passed through Temple, which is where my childhood best friend moved when her family left Elkhart, IN.

More Jesus billboards along the way:

God Bless America: Pray... HE listens!

One nation under me. -God

And a good baby one:
What? You weren't expecting me? ADOPTION: 2 million couples wait.

One, I'd like to see a source for the 2 million number, and 2, they should qualify that statement with *for white babies only*.

We found our friend Sean's apartment in Ft. Worth just fine. He tried to take us to the legendary vegetarian restaurant, the Spiral Diner, but unfortunately it was closed on Mondays. So instead we picked up snacks at Central Market, a very nice Whole Foods type store, and went back to Sean's apartment to hang out. Sean played us his friend Thor's music, and then some Magnetic Fields.


Somehow the discussion turned to fascism, and Karl looked up the definition on Wikipedia, all 10 pages of it.

I took advantage of Sean's music collection to rip some CDs, including some which I had on cassette like The Cowboy Junkies' The Trinity Sessions and Kate Bush's The Sensual World.

I was honored that Sean's shy kitty let me pet him before bed!

Houston, TX to Austin, TX

OK, so I'm really behind on these posts, mostly due to uneven internet access. We're actually in Albuquerque now, but I will go back and fill in how we got here.

Sunday morning in Houston we were awoken by people mowing their lawns. Evidently it's part of the agreement of living here - you have to keep up your yard work. We got a slow start, but eventually got to NTB for an oil change. While we were waiting for the car to be ready, Charlie and Linda took us to Denny's for breakfast. Charlie and Linda, and the guy at NTB, were all very confused about us not having air conditioning in the car. "So you need more freon?" No - we don't have AC. "So, it broke and you never fixed it?" Nope, just don't have AC. It was really unheard of for them. Of course in Houston, we saw why it was necessary!

After bidding Charlie and Linda au revoir, we headed to Austin. This was the day we needed AC, if there was any! By the time we arrived, I was completely soaked in sweat. Yuck.

Along the short (~3 hours) drive, we saw many billboards for planned communities such as the ones our friends live in (Sienna Plantation). We saw signs for The Colony, and The Settlement at Patriot Ranch. (In the Dallas/Ft. Worth area there are actual cities called White Settlement and The Colony.) For people coming from the Northeast, it's quite surprising to see such blatant use of racist terms for new subdivisions and cities. It is that people don't see the context, or that they are willfully indentifying with a Confederate past?

We passed through LaGrange, where my German host sister spent a year as an exchange student. Germans love Texas!

Having exhausted our supply of Texas bands, we listened to Franz Ferdinand, Hot Hot Heat, and Interpol.

Vultures continue to be ever-present.

We arrived at our friends David and Tory's place around 7pm. They just had a baby girl, Ellison Leticia (Elle for short) on the 16th. We had dinner with them, our old sleeping buddy Sarah (that's a story from another road trip), our hosts Tomas and Maureen, and Sarah's friends Gina and Ross. After much bitching about old jobs, and many a political discussion, we decided to turn in.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Memphis, TN to Houston, TX

We started the day yesterdat at Sun Studios, the "birthplace of Rock and Roll". It was very cool to learn the history of the recording studio and label where greats such as B.B. King, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and of course Elvis got their start. Our tour guide Amy was very cute, and had an accent you could listen to forever!

There were so many more things we wanted to see in Memphis, including the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, to Stax Records, aka Soulsville. I guess we'll just have to go back to Memphis sometime.

We got on the road around 11:30 for our long drive to Houston. 55 south down through Mississippi and into Louisiana, then 12 west through Baton Rouge, to 10 west all the way to Houston.

Reflecting our trip to Sun, our soundtrack started with lots of Johnny Cash, from the greatest hits and the concert at Folsom prison, to American IV The Man Comes Around. Then we listed to Elmore James, King of the Slide Guitar, for a little Delta blues (and a strong indication of where Led Zepelin got all those riffs from.) By that time we were in Louisiana, so we listened to Lucinda Williams sing about all the cities we were driving through, such as Jackson, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, etc. Other bands included The Gossip, Led Zep, and as we moved into Texas, ZZ Top, Janis Joplin, and Steve Earle.

All day we went in and out of rain squalls. With the Katrina disaster just one year ago this week, it weighed on our minds as we drove though the states which were devastated by both nature and the government.

A cool part of our drive was the elevated highway through the Atchafalaya Basin, an area of marshes and swamps just west of Baton Rouge. Again, an area I'd love to explore more in the future.

Overall, we found this part of the south verdant and lush. We spotted vultures and cranes alternately. I'm sure alligators lurked in the swamps just out of our sight.

We were greeted in Texas with billboards advertising Jesus and babies. Welcome to Texas!

As our 10 hour drive neared an end, we were treated to a John Ford-esque sunset.

We are staying with Charlie (one of Karl's oldest friends) and his wife Linda. When we arrived, they had not yet gotten back from their baby shower (due in ~ 2 months), so we showed ourselves into their huge home - twice the size of our old condo in JP and almost half the price. So this is why people live in Texas!

This morning we need to get an oil change - yep we've driven that far already! Then off to Austin later this afternoon.

I'm having problems uploading the photos again, so look for those in a separate post.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

St. Louis, MO to Memphis, TN

Cocoa the dog slept with us all night. She growled at Karl when he came to bed, but deigned to allow him to have about a third of the bed.



This morning, our host Brian took us to the Missouri Botanical Garden, a gem in the middle of St. Louis. In addition to the usual lovely flowers, herbs, scented garden, and Japanese garden, they had unique urban gardens showing a variety of mulches, composting techniques, and ideas for small spaces. There was also a stunning exhibit of site-specific glass art by Dale Gilhuly throughout the garden.





Brian was a passionate and knowledgeable St. Louis tour guide. He practically had us convinced to move there! I guess it helps that he is a St. Louis native, and a history professor.

One thing that struck me was the openness in STL of the city’s connection to the Civil War and slavery. All around was evidence of wealth made off of slave labor, including the Botanical Garden itself, which was essentially the plantation of its founder, Henry Shaw. Of course Boston, and New England more generally, gained wealth from slavery as well, but it is hidden behind the fa├žade of the “free” north and the – very real and powerful – abolitionist movement.

As we were driving through St. Louis, I noticed some protestors, and sure enough it was the Planned Parenthood. We also noticed a lot of anti-choice signs along the highway, including a huge handmade “vote pro-life” sign, painted red, white, and blue, on the side of a barn. I thought of my former colleagues at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice of MO, and was doubly impressed by their good work in the face of such a hostile climate.

We got on the road around 12:30, 55 south all the way. Our soundtrack was Uncle Tupelo, then Paul Simon’s Graceland, then the King himself. Finally, we put on some Willie Nelson. I know he’s not from Tennessee, but I figured it was close enough.

55 south goes through Arkansas for about an hour. It was my first time in the state, so we stopped at the welcome center. The woman behind the desk was excited to see us, and dutifully recorded our visit in her log. Unlike my friend Helen, I think it counts as visiting a state as long as your feet touch the ground – except in an airport - so I’m checking Arkansas off my list. (Helen’s standard, I believe, is an overnight visit.)

We decided to stay overnight in Memphis, so we got a room at the Red Roof Inn. We stopped by Riverside Park and took some pics of the Mississippi. Then we headed over to Graceland on Elvis Presley Blvd. On the way there, we passed a visitors’ center with a banner welcoming Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi from their trip last month. We decided to go to Graceland after hours because admission is $22 per person, plus $6 parking; so it would have cost the two of us $50 to tour the mansion (planes and other features extra). 95% of me says that it’s a ripoff; 5% of me thinks we should have gone anyway.





Driving back into town, we saw a spectacular sunset. The sun was a fiery red ball as it set behind what we believe was an oil refinery. Flames shot into the sky from smoke stacks as the sun sank.

Speaking of oil refineries, as expected, gas prices have been much cheaper ever since we hit Ohio – an average of $2.65. This compared to the $2.98 we paid on the Mass Pike, which was the cheapest we’d seen in months.

We ended our night on Beale Street, home of the blues in Memphis. We bought some cheesy souvenirs, and laughed at the “Big Ass Beer” cups for sale. We looked in vain for vegetarian food, and then returned to the hotel for a dinner of hummus and crackers from our cooler.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

pics from the road to STL

Couldn't get these to upload to the previous post, so here they are separately.

corn fields, and not much else:


Coming into STL:

Kalamazoo, MI to St. Louis, MO

The trip to the Root Beer Stand was a big success, as you can see from these pictures:





This morning we said goodbye to our kitties, and my mom and cousin, and hit the road around 9:30. We headed west on 94 towards Chicago, then connected with 80. We had rain for the first few hours, then it turned clear and hot.

Indiana's motto on their welcome sign was "America's Crossroads." I think a more appropriate motto would be "We sell firecrackers!" There were countless billboards advertising the largest firecracker store, the cheapest firecracker store, 2-for-1 firecrackers, etc.

One of my strongest memories of Chicagoland as a child is sitting in massive traffic jams. I can't believe that over 30 years later, the traffic has not improved. Karl was surprised by the number of trucks on the road - I guess it's just what I'm used to.

After we got on 55 South, traffic cleared right up, and it was smooth sailing. Getting gas in Illinois, I met a older woman working the cash register named Rosemary Rose!

For music, we revisted the mixed CDs made for the trip. We heard East vs. West, volumes II and III. We especially enjoyed the Decemberists. The only two duds were Everclear (!) and Hotel California (!!). I have to say that the Gypsy Kings' version of Hotel California was pretty amusing, though. Then we listened to "Super Groover", which was indeed very groovy. That put us in the mood for some James Brown. By the time we were ready for theme music, we were well into Illinois (Hello, Springfield!), so we opted for a little Wilco.

Karl spotted a bumpersticker that said, "I'd rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than driving with Ted Kennedy." Nuff said.

Driving through the landscape of my youth - cornfields, smily-face water towers, smoke stacks - I saw soybean fields with the following signs:

"From IL's soybean fields to America's roads: IL soy biodiesel."
and
"From IL's soybean fields not Middle East oil fields: IL soy biodiesel."

We crossed the Mississippi into Missouri and St. Louis around 3pm central time. Karl was impressed by the Arch - the Gateway to the West - and I regaled him with stories of being in the top of the Arch and it swaying back and forth.

In St. Louis we are staying with Karl's freshman year college roommate, Brian, and his lovely wife Christine, twin daughters Chloe and Clair, and 3 dogs Poppy, Blini, and Cocoa. They live in "Central West End", which is full of beautiful big victorian homes and cute restaurants with sidewalk seating.

The dogs have already settled in for the night, and if I want a part of the bed, I'd better stake my claim soon!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Arlington, MA to Kalamazoo, MI

On Tuesday, August 22 we set out from Boston at 7am on our cross-country drive to Los Angeles. Our stuff is already in storage in LA, and our new apartment awaits us. All that remains is to get ourselves there.

For our first day, we had our two cats, Norton and Princess Rockula, with us. They will be staying with my mom in Kalamazoo, Michigan until we get settled in LA. It was a long, hot drive with no A/C in our car; 14 1/2 hours in all. Norton was a Zen Master the whole way, though he did start to ask when it would be over near the end. Princess, however, freaked out. We ended up letting her out of her carrier. She explored the car a bit, and then made herself a bed wedged in between bags. She was much happier after that.

Not much to report on the scenery. We took 90 all the way to Cleveland, where we hooked up with 80 until Toledo. There we got 69 north (speed limit 70!) to 94 west. Nothing I hadn't seen before, having driven that general route a few times. I did think of my friend Dave R., who I haven't seen in years and years when we passed Rocky River, OH. Some childhood reminiscences of Cedar Point, that sort of thing.

With not much outside to entertain us, we turned to music. Two of our friends, Richard and Kristen, came through with road trip and East Coast/West Coast themed mixed CDs. Not only does our car lack A/C, but we also do not have a CD player. We rigged up Karl's CD walkman to the cassette deck, and were able to listen to Richard's "Super Driver" and Kristen's "East vs. West (Vol. I) before the batteries died. After that, I came up with the idea of state-based Ipod listening, such as playing songs with the state name in them, or playing bands from the state we're driving through. I didn't think of this til Pennsylvania, though, and couldn't think of any PA bands for the life of me. So, I focused on Ohio. CSNY's Ohio is an obvious choice, of course. And Devo, the Waitresses, the Pretenders. I wanted to play REM's "Cuyahoga", but it turns out we don't have that album on the Ipod. For Michigan, we went for the White Stripes.

We arrived safely in Kalamazoo at 9:30 pm last night, and spent today running errands and visiting with my family. Tonight we will take Karl to his first Root Beer Stand!

The camera was full, so no pics from our first two days. Hopefully I'll have illustrated posts from the rest of the road trip.

Monday, August 21, 2006

What I Will Miss About Boston

1) my beloved Citgo sign, seen here by day



and pre-renovation by night



2) walking - not really acceptable or practical in LA

3) Jamaica Plain - the place I've lived longest in my life, where you'll always run into someone you know on Centre Street, home of Jamaica Pond, the Arboretum, Forest Hills Cemetery, and Franklin Park

4) JP Licks - at the rare hour when there were no screaming children; my favorite cake ever: oreo ice cream cake

5) Fat Ram's Pumpkin Tattoo Source of all my tattoos (though some are from before tattooing was legalized); you can see a picture of my waves on his color page

6) Central Square - even though it was completely gentrified in the 90s, Central Square is still a great place, and my home away from home: Green Street Studios, the Dance Complex, Harvest Co-Op, The Middle East, TTs, many great restaurants, I could go on and on...

7) the White Mountains - ok, this is New England, not Boston... we were unable to hike there this summer due to my foot surgery... looking forward to hiking it again in the future

There's so much more, but I need to finish packing as we hit the road at 6 am.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Who the Fuck is Charlie?




Well I was planning a rant about the new "Charlie Card" system in Boston, and while looking for an image of dear ol' Charlie, I happened upon this post from a fellow Boston blogger. Makes the whole thing even weirder that they would name the new card system (which replaces tokens, much like New York's Metrocard) after a character in a song that criticized fare hikes!

Anyway, my rant is more along these lines:
1) Why a white man? Doesn't Boston have enough problems with racism (ahem, Silverline)?
2) Why a human name at all? "T" has worked just fine as a name for years!
3) Doesn't Charlie look like the old Joe Camel, just with the penis nose chopped off?
4) Once you've bought a Charlie Card and you happen to want to get on the T at a stop that hasn't converted yet, you're shit outta luck. You may have money left on that card, but you're unable to use it. So you have to pay again. Typical.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Who Backs Immediate Ceasefire?

Making People Afraid of Toothpaste

I had the dubious pleasure of flying to LA the day after the new “terror” plot was revealed in the UK and new travel restrictions were announced.  No lotion!  No toothpaste!  No contact solution!  Taste your baby’s formula!  No drinks!  A friend who had the misfortune to travel the day the arrests were announced even saw expensive lipsticks confiscated.

With a 6:45 am flight to LA last Friday, we dutifully got a cab at 3:30 am in order to reach the airport the requisite 3 hours in advance.  When we arrived, there was already a line snaking around terminal C.  Airline and security staff weren’t even at their posts as we queued up and waited.  Around 4:15am, the airline staff arrived, and began encouraging us to “surrender” our liquids and gels, or else pack them in checked luggage.  Security moved slowly, but surely.  The graveyard of water bottles made me thirsty.  Before we boarded the plane, they hand searched all of our carry-ons, a practice I didn’t even experience in the weeks immediately following 9-11, when I flew around the country quite a bit.  (At least we were able to take carry-ons – flights originating from and connecting in Europe were denied even a book to read.  Books = danger!)  

Overall, the personal inconvenience was minimal, other than having to check the bag we’d normally carry on.  Now I’m sitting in LAX, waiting to return to Boston, and the security was no big deal.  

So, what was this episode all about?  In the midst of plummeting numbers of people who approve of the war in Iraq (and a steady march of 2 US troop deaths a day), Israel’s attack on Lebanon (during which they are merely told to “be careful” and “try not to kill too many civilians”), and the warm up to the mid-term elections, it’s clear that the Bush regime needed a little boost for their “war on terror”.  

Bingo!  Terrorists in the UK want to blow up planes traveling to the US!  Red alert on the Homeland Security (sic) color wheel for flights from the UK!  Orange alert for everyone else!  Danger Will Robinson!

The best part is that what airlines are controlling for is a long list of common liquids and gels.  I’m reminded of that SNL skit with Jerry Seinfeld as the newscaster who reported “a common household cleaner could be killing you right now! More at 10:37.”

Gone are the days of worrying about your nail clippers.  Who cares about sharp objects when your lotion could explode!

In Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore concluded that the issue in America is not higher crime rates than other countries, nor is it more guns.  The issue is FEAR.  I think our government understands this better than the average citizen, and they are depending on it working now.  The more scared people are, the more likely they are to buy into the Bush agenda of endless war “over there, so we don’t have to fight them here.”  Especially convenient at election time!  

We may never know if the people arrested in England last week were actually plotting to explode planes over the Atlantic or not.  Ultimately, that’s not even the point.  The point is that the Bush regime is continuing to boldly push their international agenda, which goes hand in hand with “the new normalcy” at home of increasing fear which makes it easier for the government to decrease civil rights.

I don’t believe that banning people from carrying liquids or nail clippers on planes makes us any safer, nor does having to stay seated for the last half hour of a flight into Washington DC.  If it’s “safety” we’re after (and that’s a whole debate in itself), two things that would go a long way are changing US policy on Israel and getting rid of the Bush regime.  I’d give up my toothpaste for that any day.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Jewish Youth Denounce Israel's Actions

I received this email from my friend and co-worker, Nikki. Her words and actions, and those of her friend Felicia, are very important, and I wanted to share them here.


Hello friends and family,

On Tuesday morning I participated in a "die in" with a group of young Jews at South Station. All of us were silent, dressed in black, and lying "dead" on the floor in front of the banners which read "Not all Jews support Israel's actions" and "Jews for human righs in Gaza and Lebanon".

The action was covered by the Boston Globe, the Herald, the Metro, Siglo21 and the CS Monitor. You can also see the photos of our action at this website.

We believe that the horrific massacres of women, children, and all civilians is contrary to the Jewish tradition. It was painful to stand and lie on the ground while people shouted their opposition to us - but it felt so important to publicly break the consensus of unequivocal support for Israel's actions. At one point a woman who looked like my ma caught my eye, and with tears in her eyes said "Thank you. I'm so proud of you."

I am including the peice that my dear friend Felicia wrote after the action. I hope you don't mind my sharing this with you, and I welcome dialogue. Please pass it on to anyone you feel may be interested.

In solidarity,

Nikki

------------


L'chaim: Thoughts on Coming Back From the Dead
by Felicia Kazer



For me, celebrating life is at the core of all the teachings, traditions and rituals that I love about being Jewish. Sharing delicious meals with friends on Shabbat, lighting the menorah for 8 days in a row, dancing at my cousin Sam's bar mitzvah, studying text late into the night on Shavuot…these are the Jewish practices I treasure most and I know I'm not alone. Celebrating life is what Jews do best: apples and honey, costume parties at Purim time, heated discussions around the seder table. Judaism not only teaches us to celebrate life, it reminds us to do this every time we clink our glasses. Instead of "cheers" or "salud", we say "l'chaim" or "to life."

Why then are there Jews today who are deeply engaged in acts of murder? For a people who believe that life is a blessing, how is it possible that we are simultaneously sentencing innocent people to death? I see the pictures of the victims in Lebanon and my heart breaks. How can this be? I imagine the desperation of thousands of people trapped in Gaza without food, water or electricity. I can practically hear the cries from mothers and fathers as they pull their dead children from the debris left by the bombs that fell in Qana and Beirut. Did Jews really order those bombs to be dropped? Please tell me it's not true. I want no link to whomever is responsible for this madness. I want nothing in common with anyone capable of such atrocities. Tell me they're alien monsters from another planet or robots without hearts or brains. Perhaps Ehud Olmert is a monster, but he's also a Jew and this thought is what made me cry yesterday in my kitchen while listening to the news.

Today was the first day I have felt proud to be a Jew in a couple of weeks. Today I went to South Station in downtown Boston and participated in a "die in" with about 20 comrades. Dressed in all black we wore signs on our bodies that said, "Not all US Jews support Israel's Actions." We entered the station during one of the busiest times of the weekday, we unrolled our banners and died right there on the floor. Our message demanded, "Jews for Human Rights in Gaza and Lebanon". Once we were kicked out of South Station, we sang a nigun as we slowly moved outside. We repeated our action twice at two different busy locations outside the station. Throughout all three, we were silent and we were seen. Twenty dead bodies on the sidewalk silently screaming for attention.

Is this really what it takes for me to feel proud to be a Jew right now? Do I have to pretend to be dead in the middle of a crowd in order to distinguish myself from what is being presented in the press as a unified and unwavering Jewish support for Israel's actions? Sadly, it seems that this is exactly what's needed right now. Lying in the same position on a dirty concrete floor with thousands of commuters rushing by was uncomfortable and scary. However if this is what it takes to strike a cord because death, and not life, is what Jews in power are practicing, then I would pretend to be dead again tomorrow.

There are many complexities when it comes to Israel's security in the Middle East, but there are also many things that are very simple. There exists a human rights crisis right now. Israel is the second largest military power in the world and it is killing hundreds of innocent civilians in the name of defense. Yes, Israelis are dieing as well and I mourned these senseless deaths today with just as much grief. There is nothing forgivable about kidnapping soldiers and sending katyusha rockets to Northern Israel that kill civilians. However, there is no solution found in targeting Lebanon's civilian infrastructure and "turning back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years." This is what Israel's army chief of staff threatened and in the last 3 weeks this is exactly what has happened. Lebanon's major airport, highways, and ports have suffered billions of dollars worth of damage. Over 750 people, mostly women and children, have been killed and Lebanon will be grieving and rebuilding for years to come. I see pictures of Lebanese civilians bombarding the UN building with protests and it breaks my heart to see another generation of Muslims filled with hate and anger. Is this really the path to peace and security?

In accepting these horrific acts, it seems many of us Jews have forgotten our own tradition. I don't know how this happened. Our rituals are punctuated by a reminder to celebrate life and our greeting has the word "peace" embedded within it. What other reinforcements do we need? I was always taught that in Judaism, it's not enough to say it, it's the doing it that really counts. L'chaim and shalom.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Just Say No

Just as the Reagan administration manufactured the War on Drugs in the 1980s, the Bush administration has manufactured the War on Terror.

In "Waiting to Get Blown Up," a 7/27 Washington Post article, even the soldiers on the ground see the futility of these made up wars:

"At this point, it seems like the war on drugs in America," added Spec. David Fulcher, 22, a medic from Lynchburg, Va., who sat alongside Steffey. "It's like this never-ending battle, like, we find one IED, if we do find it before it hits us, so what? You know it's just like if the cops make a big bust, next week the next higher-up puts more back out there."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Forget the "pre-born", how about the "pre-conceived"?!

So I just discovered this unpublished draft in my edit posts file... Even though this article appeared 2 months ago in the Washington Post, it's still outrageous! I've included excerpts below; you can read the full article at the link above.

Talk about looking as women as nothing but wombs!

Forever Pregnant
Guidelines: Treat Nearly All Women as Pre-Pregnant

By January W. Payne
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 16, 2006

New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon.

Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.

While most of these recommendations are well known to women who are pregnant or seeking to get pregnant, experts say it's important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and so much damage can be done to a fetus between conception and the time the pregnancy is confirmed.



"We know that women -- unless you're actively planning [a pregnancy], . . . she doesn't want to talk about it," Biermann said. So clinicians must find a "way to do this and not scare women," by promoting preconception care as part of standard women's health care, she said.

Bold Stand for Women's Right to Abortion

As you may be able to tell from my previous posts, I'm not much for the mainstream pro-choice movement. Over and over again they hitch their wagon to the Democrats, and then happily move further right with them, saying "we can't do anything to endanger our 'friends' chances of winning their next election."

So I'm all for any campaign that boldly goes for what women actually need. Check out the National Network of Abortion Fund's new campaign: Hyde — 30 Years Is Enough! (The Hyde Amendment forbids federal funding of abortion.)

According to the website, the campaign calls for "full public funding of abortion, culturally competent and non-coercive family planning services, and support for low-income women to care for their children with dignity. We stand for reproductive justice, a world in which all women have the power and resources necessary to make healthy decisions about their bodies and their families. "

Though these might seem like pie in the sky demands in today's climate dominated by the religious right, we need to remember that they got where they are by never compromising their goals, and hammering away at them for decades.

With Henry Hyde, the Congressperson from Illinois and source of the Hyde Amendment, retiring at the end of the year, wouldn't it be nice to also retire his namesake?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Call to Action for the Women's Movement and Everyone Who Cares About Women's Lives

It’s 2006 and we are very close to losing Roe. Fifteen states have criminal bans on the books that would outlaw abortion with few exceptions, and Ohio legislators are considering a law that will prohibit all abortions with no exceptions, even if the woman's life is at stake.

This movement and all people who care about the fundamental rights of women are facing a juncture, and which way we go will decide the future for generations. The pouring of all hopes and energies into the Democratic Party that has sacrificed the issue of abortion to “winning” in the mid-term elections leaves us with this question: at what point will we decide to really fight and at what point does it become too late?

The women of the pro-choice movement must resolve to take a radical departure from the strategy that is in large part responsible for the ground we have lost. Funneling all our energies, money and imagination into elections and candidates and a political process that is howlingly disconnected and at odds with people's needs, objectives, interests and principles has to be roundly and decisively rejected.

Unless there’s a drastic shift of strategy from accepting "what's possible" within the official politics of this country that are pitching far right, unless we bust through the confines that are squeezing the life out of what we have going for us the most - the initiative of millions of women who are looking for a way out and asking to be called into action - we are going to lose it all, and the agenda of the Operation Save America lunatics now moving to shut down the last abortion clinic in Mississippi will be the handmaid’s tale we will actually be living.

When you have a situation where even the nine pro-choice women Democrats in the Senate support Pennsylvania's Robert Casey Jr., an anti-choice, pro-war, anti-stem cell research Democrat, because, in their words, his election is "critical to our efforts of regaining the majority in the U.S. Senate," isn't it time for something drastically and radically different?

There is still time, but the clock is ticking. If we treat Roe as already gone we will certainly lose. We cannot settle for a defensive strategy of fighting attacks on abortion state by state. And what is most important, if the whole agenda of unlimited war, torture, massive spying, attacks on gays and women and the destruction of basic rights is not rejected and the Bush regime driven from power, it will become increasing impossible to stop any single outrage. The entire Bush agenda and fascist remaking of society have to be brought to a HALT.

World Can’t Wait is calling on people to reject accommodating to and settling for what has become a killing logic. What begins as something too dreadful to contemplate becomes today’s compromise position that is then signed into law and given a bipartisan legislative mandate and legitimacy. The point is not, voting or not. Our point is that if our struggle remains confined within the parameters of the elections, we will lose - even if the Democrats win.

World Can’t Wait is calling on people to step outside of these confines - to find your sharpest tongues to say the whole political discourse around this is WRONG and has to be radically altered in the way political discourse has always been changed: by what is initially a minority of society stepping up and stepping out in massive enough numbers to create an entirely different discourse and political dynamic than the one officially permitted. The passivity and demobilization of the pro-choice and women’s movement needs to be swiftly reversed. And the money we need must be found by going directly to the people, instead of allowing ourselves to be limited by the purse strings of those who want to muzzle us.

Public opinion on the war did not change because people voted for Democrats - it changed in spite of it. Massive political action in the streets put out an example and a position that the actual reality of the war soon confirmed for millions of people who were not yet convinced. What would have happened had we not been there in the fall of 2002? Would people be drawing the same conclusions? Would opinion polls on the war be what they are now? Would dissent have been completely silenced without millions of people refusing to “watch what you say” and instead going up against that kind of intimidation in massive resistance, saying "No! Your war is wrong and unjust, and you will not prosecute it in our name? Would GI’s today be able to say, "I refuse" without this?

The only thing that has a chance of beating back the assault on abortion, on derailing the assertion of patriarchal morality and authority being made into law, of stopping the dangerous fascist remaking of society that is undergirding an endless war for empire, is to put all our energies, post haste, into truly massive mobilization and resistance.

On October 5th World Can’t Wait is calling for a day of mass mobilization to break the paralysis that still grips too much of American political life and to say Enough - Bring this to a halt! Drive Out the Bush Regime. We are calling on people to walk out of schools, and off their jobs, to stop shopping and close their shops, and to assemble in massive demonstrations.

Be part of taking this momentous step. It is time to pool our energies and resources to take responsibility to really change the course of history. There is no other way the political will of the people will be heard this fall - no other way it will not be frittered away and dissipated.

As the World Can't Wait Call says: The future is unwritten. Which one we get is up to us.

July 2006

Drafted by Mary Lou Greenberg, an activist in the women's liberation movement in the 1960s who has defended women's clinics and abortion providers across the country. She received a Susan B. Anthony Award for grassroots activism from the NYC Chapter of the National Organization for Women in 2001. She works with World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime and is a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA - NYC Branch.
Joined by:
Debra Sweet
, National Coordinator, The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime (www.worldcantwait.org)
Merle Hoffman, Founder/President of Choices Women's Medical and Mental Health Center, Long Island City, NY, est. 1971 as one of the first ambulatory abortion centers; co-founder of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) and founder of the NY Pro-Choice Coalition; publisher/editor-in-chief of On the Issues: the Progressive Women's Quarterly.
Eleanor J. Bader, co-author, Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism; contributor to Z, Library Journal, Lillith, NY Law Journal and The Brooklyn Rail.
Rosemary Candelario, Pro-choice activist, co-founder of the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund, formerly of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Abortion Access Project, and the Reproductive Freedom Taskforce of Refuse & Resist.



Please sign and circulate widely. Contact us at chainsnomore@hotmail.com and let us know if we can add your name to this Call to Action.


Appendix to: A Call to Action for the Women's Movement
And Everyone Who Cares About Women's Lives

Food for Thought - Lessons from History

The Bush regime and its whole agenda, including an end to the right to abortion, will not be stopped by the fall elections. It will not be stopped by pouring money and energy down the drain of Democratic Party candidates. A case in point: The April 2004 March for Women's Lives mobilized over a million people to march in DC for reproductive freedom. The energy and passion of the crowd to defend women's rights was inspiring. But the take-home message to "get out the vote" was disarming, demobilizing and ultimately, demoralizing when the campaign brought more compromise and conciliation by the Democratic Party. People came away thinking no one in power was listening, and they were right.

Hilary Clinton was a big star at the April rally. But by January 2005, in opposition to overwhelming sentiment at the march, she was urging people to find "common ground" with anti-choice forces to reduce the need for abortion. She said, as her husband did, that abortion should be "rare, and said that it represents "a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women."

This kind of giving ground and legitimacy to the moral and political position of a hard core within the Republican Party that, once fed, will not stop at banning abortion, is deadly. They are now demanding the banning of contraception and accurate, science-based sex education. You cannot seek "common ground" with religious fundamentalists. The outlook and active agenda of the assault on abortion, on birth control, and the argument against gay marriage is that marriage is for procreation and procreation is the only purpose for sex. If you don’t believe it, look at the written decisions by the State Courts in NY on gay marriage. There is no mythical center position acceptable to theocrats from Flip Benham to Antonin Scalia who want to see the Bible as law.

The truth is that abortion on demand is absolutely necessary if women are to be free and have the ability to determine their life's course, and it is in the interests of everyone who wants a better world to enable half of humanity to play a full role in all of society. A woman who does not have reproductive choice has no more freedom than a slave. Abortion should not be "rare," but available and accessible to every woman who wants or needs to end a pregnancy and without apology.

But "rare" is now the accepted Democratic Party mantra, and it's paving the way for “never,“ as demonstrated in the current Senate race in Pennsylvania where Bob Casey, Jr., an anti-choice, pro-war, anti-stem cell research Democrat, is running against an anti-choice, pro-war, anti-stem cell research Republican. Senator Charles Schumer, the top Senate recruiter for the Democrats, forced a pro-choice woman to drop out of the race in favor of Casey. Schumer has called defending abortion "a game" that the Democrats "can't afford to play" any longer. Even if the Democrats were to succeed, we will lose.

Women's rights leaders rightly called this out as "an effort by party leaders to build a so-called 'bigger tent' at the expense of women's rights." But the solution they urged, threatening Democrats with the loss of women's votes, is nowhere close to what's needed to derail the unrelenting assault on fundamental rights by this regime.

As World Can't Wait (www.worldcantwait.org) states in its Call:
...There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into 'leaders' who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people...

The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. Which one we get is up to us.

Mary Lou Greenberg, July 2006

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Missing Persons/Walking in LA

Look ahead as we pass, try and focus on it
I won't be fooled by a cheap cinematic trick
It must have been just a cardboard cut out of a man
Top-forty cast off from a record stand

Walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.

I don't know could've been a lame jogger maybe
Or someone just about to do the freeway strangler baby
Shopping cart pusher or maybe someone groovie
One thing's for sure, he isn't starring in the movies.
'Cause he's walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., only a nobody walks in L.A.

Walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'

You won't see a cop walkin' on the beat
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'

You only see 'em drivin' cars out on the street
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'

You won't see a kid walkin' home from school
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'

Their mothers pick 'em up in a car pool
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'

Walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.

Could it be that the smog's playing tricks on my eyes
or is it a rollerskater in some kind of headphone disguise
Maybe somebody who just ran out of gas,
Making his way back to the pumps the best way he can.

Walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., nobody walks in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A.
Walkin' in L.A., only a nobody walks in L.A.

Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'
Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'

Nobody walks in L.A

The Top 25 L.A. Tunes

Courtesy of Lost in the Grooves...

Check it out!

Missing Persons was wrong!

I am just wrapping up my first trip to LA. Before I went, I was very obsessed with how we would get around LA

My entire perception of Angelenos’ modes of transportation were based on
  1. the Missing Persons Song “Walking in LA” which states “nobody walks in LA”

  2. That scene in LA Stories when Steve Martin drives next door

  3. Speed (though I didn’t really believe the basic premise of the movie that anyone took the bus in LA, and that it was therefore a legitimate target of a madman.  Forget the premise that Keanu Reeves could save anyone…)

  4. Steve Carrell riding a bike in The 40 Year Old Virgin – is anyone crazy enough to ride a bike in LA? I asked myself.

I am excited to say that assumptions #1 and #3 were incorrect, and that the answer to #4 is Yes!  

Sad to say, people really do seem to drive just a few blocks to the store.  I am committed to not getting sucked into this ridiculous car vortex when I relocate to LA LA Land in a few months.

BUT, people really do take the bus!  And the buses seem to come frequently, express routes exist… I’m pretty impressed.

And, there’s a big bike community in LA, people who ride everywhere, so that’s a viable alternative, too.  Interesting to note that the only communities I noticed with bike lanes, though, were the lefty enclaves of Santa Monica and Silver Lake.

Biggest of all was my discovery that there are indeed sidewalks in LA, and that people do use them.  OK, they might just use them to walk between their car and their destination a few blocks away, but it’s something.  What people do NOT do in LA, however, is jay walk.  I discovered this the hard way.  My partner and I were happily walking from UCLA into Westwood Village, in total east coast mode.  Look both ways, no traffic coming, head on out into the intersection.  We were halfway across before I noticed that NO ONE ELSE HAD MOVED!  When the walk light came on, they all dutifully crossed, but not a moment before.  Evidently the UCLA cops have nothing better to do than hand out $150 jaywalking tickets (so I’m told).  So we got hip to west coast style of street crossing real fast.  Having gotten one jaywalking ticket in my life (DC, $10, I did not pay it in protest of its sheer ridiculousness; I keep waiting to end up on a no-fly list to DC: “Ma’am, we’ve got a warrant on you for an outstanding traffic infraction.”), I don’t fancy another.

So, in the interest of a “fair and accurate” pop culture, I believe that the classic Missing Persons song should be changed to “Nobody Jaywalks in LA.”  

Then, we could rework Prince’s “All the Critics Love you in New York” to be “Everybody Jaywalks in New York”, and we’d have our 2K6 version of an East Coast/West Coast rumble all set to go!  

Honestly, I think the Northeast has it all over SoCal on this one – you can’t win the war by bowing to The Man and doing what he tells you to do, when he tells you to do it!  Plus, what are ya gonna do when the gas crisis peaks and you can’t drive anymore?  9-11, the black out, the transit strike… New Yorkers WALKED, baby!

OK, clearly I’ve got some issues of my own to work out, but overall, my home-to-be is seeming better everyday.  

Now where did I put the car keys?    

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Is it right?

"Cowardice asks the question: is it safe?
Expediency asks the question: is it politic?
Vanity asks the question: is it popular?
But conscience asks the question: is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular- but one must take it simply because it is right"

-- Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Fuck Tax Day

Don't know who wrote this, but it is brilliant! The links also have comments, if you hold your cursor above them. Sure to brighten your day, especially if you also have some Easter candy. I speak from experience. Mmm, Russell Stover Raspberry Whip Egg....

Thursday, March 30, 2006

You won't believe this unless you see it!

So an artist named Daniel Edwards has created "Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston". The statue is a portrayal of a naked Britney Spears "giving birth" on all fours on a bearskin rug. “Britney provides inspiration for those struggling with the ‘right choice’,” said Edwards.

According to the gallery where this work of art will shown:

"'Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston,' believed Pro-Life’s first monument to the ‘act of giving birth,’ is purportedly an idealized depiction of Britney in delivery. Natural aspects of Spears’ pregnancy, like lactiferous breasts and protruding naval, compliment a posterior view that depicts widened hips for birthing and reveals the crowning of baby Sean’s head.

The monument also acknowledges the pop-diva’s pin-up past by showing Spears seductively posed on all fours atop a bearskin rug with back arched, pelvis thrust upward, as she clutches the bear’s ears with ‘water-retentive’ hands. "

As my friend Dirk says, "Ohhhhhhh it's britney giving birth. For some reason I thought she was waiting to get fucked on a bearskin rug. How in the world could I mix that up?"

Dirk's response really says it all. Honestly, I keep expecting to find out that this is a really elaborate prank. It's wrong on so many levels!

First of all, I guess these pro-life folks are not of the usual sex-fearing misogynist breed we usually hear from. These must be from the "it's ok to objectify women as sexual beings, but only if they reproduce" school of pro-life thought. So still women-hating, but allowing some male-identified sex in the mix. I sense a whole new subgenre of porn being, uh, born as we speak! Instead of showing a woman's vagina being filled by huge penises, pro-life porn will show vaginas, like this sculpture, that are filled from within, with the entire bodies of their male offspring. (isn't that a Freudian thing - men wanting to crawl back in their mothers' wombs?) The title of the piece - "The Birth of Sean Preston" is another clue that the woman - even a famous one - is still the object here.

My head is spinning!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day

Ok, so I know this was written for the first Mother's Day, but it seems appropriate for International Women's Day, especially in our current "war without end".


MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION
Julia Ward Howe

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to
teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We women of one country will be too tender to those of another country
to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Rejecting the Politics of Pragmatism

Following is a letter to the editor that I sent to The Nation.

Even though Jean Hardisty and Deepak Bhargava's article "Wrong About the Right" appeared months ago, it could be read as a response to the political pragmatism described by Sam Graham-Felsen in his article "The New Face of the Campus Left". Campus Progress, The Roosevelt Institution, and other such organizations are not only practicing a politics of expediency, but they are training a whole generation of campus activists to do the same. Hardisty and Bhargava warn us against coalescing "around the most 'achievable' social change as opposed to the most just social change." How did "progressives" forget that there are no results worth having if they are gained at the expense of our principles? To answer Graham-Felsen's closing question, if there is to be a movement, let alone a future, we must choose visionaries over pragmatists every time.

Monday, January 30, 2006

If not us, who? If not now, when?

It’s 4:00 EST on Monday January 30th. It’s a momentous time. We’re balancing on a precipice, and the next few days may show us which way we’ll be headed for years to come. Will we fall further towards fascism, or will we take the first real steps toward creating a different world? If Bush is able to slide through this moment, if Alito is confirmed, and his State of the Union Address is well received, and the illegal spying is swept under the rug, then Bush could solidify his position.

Needless to say, I’m finding it hard to concentrate at work.

In a half hour, at 4:30, Senators Kerry and Kennedy will attempt to filibuster in order to prevent a vote on Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court. (NPR was already calling it a “failed” attempt this morning.) Bush is hoping to have Alito’s nomination confirmed before his State of the Union Address tomorrow evening.

I almost wish Kennedy and Kerry had not decided to try to filibuster, because their move has once again given hope to liberals and progressives that the Democrats will rescue them. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want Alito on the Supreme Court. And the filibuster is our only hope at this point to keep him off. My problem is with the chronic dependence on the Democrats to “save” us, despite the fact that they let us down over and over and over again. I actually heard one person say that Kerry’s “got courage after all”. Today, I received an email which included the following quote from an anonymous blogger who participated in a conference call with Kennedy about the filibuster:

This is an uphill battle, but one in which we can at the very least achieve a moral victory. Approached with principle, with passion, and with vigor, a moral victory is not a hollow victory. As Senator Kennedy told us, "You don't ever lose fighting for principle, for what is decent and right. You don't ever lose when you have the power, the force of being correct."

I’m sorry, but a “moral victory” is not going to help us one bit if we fall into the pit of fascism. If we’re going to apply “principle, passion and vigor” to a fight, I want it to be the RIGHT fight.

The first step is recognizing that if we want to change the direction this country is on, we can’t wait around for someone else to do it for us. What’s that quote? Oh yeah: We are the ones we are waiting for.

Too many people are still depending on the system to work. Too many are still hoping the Dems will pull through. This includes people who have been disappointed and hurt and screwed time and again by the Dems. I asked one friend of mine, who was sending emails around about the filibuster, if she really believed the Dems would filibuster, because I didn’t believe they had the political will to do it. She replied,

“This is my last attempt to work with them. And I hope you are not right. But even if you are wrong, and they do somehow get the courage to filibuster, it will only be because of what we the people have done. And Eves Apple, and I am really serious, just what is it that the people can do at this point? The elections are totally rigged. Most of the left does not even believe that. The elected officials are for the most part stupid and dishonest. I find even the few good ones hopeless on most issues - including, of course, the rigged elections.”

I say that it’s time to think out of the box. It’s time to actually do what that old button suggests and “subvert the dominant paradigm.” It’s time to stop compromising, and giving our time and money and energy to a system that – let’s face it – is never going to give us the kind of world we really want. The one that we dream about. Another world IS possible.

If you still need convincing, then read this small excerpt from Nancy Pelosi’s “Pre-buttal” to the State of the Union, given last week at the National Press Club.

First and foremost, America must remain pre-eminent in the world, with a strong national security that keeps America safe and a strong economy that produces good jobs. Nothing is more urgent than keeping America #1.

Whoa! Wait a minute! How is this different from the Neo-Cons’ desire for Empire?

For over a year, Democrats have been working with leaders in business and the academic community to put together an aggressive plan to maintain America's leadership in innovation, and unleash the next generation of discovery, invention and growth. This is our Democratic Innovation Agenda - our commitment to competitiveness to keep America #1.

So, while Bush & Co. have been illegally spying on citizens, justifying torture and “extreme rendition” and crafting their “unitary executive” theory, the Dems have been holed away thinking about…innovation?

Nothing less is at stake than America's economic leadership. The dynamic cycle of investment, leading to innovation, leading to jobs is what has secured our status as world leader. That status has remained unchallenged - until now.

WAKE UP PEOPLE!! No politician, whether Democrat or Republican or Green or Independent, really wants to change the system. The status quo benefits them, and they are invested in maintaining it.

That’s why neither Gore nor Kerry challenged their respective stolen elections. Because to do so, to fundamentally question the system, would be more earth-shattering to them than to accept defeat at the polls.

Mainstream groups like CodePink and UFPJ who are invested in the Democrats are encouraging people to stay at home on Tuesday night, have a party, and play drinking games while watching Bush on TV. Yes, yes, that’s exactly what we need to do to stop Bush. Get drunk and play games.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The only people who are really doing anything that could make a difference are The World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime.




"There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. . .We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime's program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history. . .The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.

That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn — or be forced — to accept.” --from the
Call for The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime

I'll be in the streets February 4 - won't you join me?


************

Here’s an article that digs more into what it means to continue to capitulate to the Dems over and over again. I don’t agree with every point, but it’s a good overview… In the name of "ABB:" Liberal left "fights the right" by chasing after it

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