Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Remembering Teddy Kennedy

Today encomia for Senator Edward Moore Kennedy (1932-2009), one of my heroes, will fill the airwaves and countless websites, as they rightly should, and quite a few will fill in the biographical and historical contours of Teddy Kennedy's rich and extraordinary life. They will almost all note as I am that he was the last living Kennedy brother, and the second-to-last surviving child, in his generation of one of the country's most important and best known political families, a family that produced the 35th President of the US, three US Senators, a handful of Congresspeople, a US attorney general, several foreign ambassadors, a lieutenant governor, one of the legendary mayors of Boston, and other federal, state and local public servants.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Senator Kennedy at a Senate hearing in May 2008, shortly before his diagnosis of brain cancer(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Teddy Kennedy, "Baby Teddy," was the youngest of 9 siblings, and during his 77 years he witnessed tremendous tragedy, including the political disgrace of his father, the untimely deaths of all three of his older brothers and one older sister, the longterm institutionalization of another, and the losses of yet two more before his own passing. He suffered his own personal tragedies, including a cheating scandal while in college, struggles with alcoholism, a divorce, his son's battle with cancer, and his nephew's tragic death in an airplane crash, and terrible missteps, including the Chappaquiddick incident, in which a young woman died as a result of his irresponsible actions, and his presence during an alleged rape by another nephew. But despite all of this and so much more, he served from 1962 to yesterday as a US Senator, that is to say, for nearly half a century, longer than all but two other Senators in US history, with devotion not only to his constituents in Massachusetts, of whom I was once one (and proudly voted for him, in 1988), but to the people of the United States and the world.

A number of obituaries note that it was Kennedy's failed 1980 bid for the presidency, challenging the incumbent president, fellow Democrat Jimmy Carter, that marked a turn in his legislative energies, but one can go back to Kennedy's earliest years in the Senate to find examples of legislation in which his support or imprint is visible. I was thinking of the impact of the Kennedy family, and in particular of Kennedy's two brothers (though I shouldn't slight Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who passed away only a few weeks ago, and whose founding and championing of the Special Olympics is a signal effort of our epoch), and while, as my friend Sally S. notes, President John Kennedy's accomplishments deserve great consideration, not least his and Bobby Kennedy's defusing the potential nuclear war with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I think it's essential to note the Senator Ted Kennedy's efforts have affected and will continue to affect millions of Americans for years to come.

A small list of the things he pushed, helped to pass, and devised in conjunction with fellow Democrats, Republicans, or the White Houses during his tenure include: the Immigration Reform Bill of 1965, which opened up the doors for non-European immigration; the Organizational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, which protects millions of workers across the USA; the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, lowering the voting age to 18, which enabled the direct civic participation of millions of high-school age students; the Americans with Disibilities Act; the 1965 Medicare legislation, which remains one of the indispensible, baseline programs in our society; Title IX, ensuring gender equality in education; the Voting Right Act of 1965, and its extensions, which ensured that African Americans and others could enjoy our Constitutional rights as voters in the South and elsewhere in the US; the constant successful raises of the minimum wage; the Family Leave Act; the establishment of community health centers, quadrupled funding for the war on cancer, and the creation of the National Cancer Institute; the SCHIP legislation, providing health care funding for children; sanctions against the former apartheid regime in South Africa; the peace talks in Northern Ireland; and the COBRA legislation, to just to name a few. Just think of what this country might look like had he not been a force in the Senate.

Teddy, JFK and Bobby
Teddy Kennedy, then-Senator JFK, and Bobby Kennedy, in 1958 (AP Photo)

It cannot be said enough that despite being a person of tremendous wealth and privilege who could have looked out solely for the interests of his family and his class, as so many in this society choose to do, again and again Teddy Kennedy advanced and supported legislation that helped and empowered people who have the least voice in this society, not the ones who have the most power and social and political capital: the poor and working classes, women, the disabled, people of color, sexual minorities, young people. In this regard, in American history, Senator Teddy Kennedy has few peers, ever, and we should all be thankful to him.

One of his abiding legislative goals, the passage of comprehensive health care reform guaranteeing universal health care insurance to all, is now at the center of a pitched battle in Congress, the media, and the society at large. Several of Kennedy's colleagues suggest that had he been around he might have found "compromises," but the fact is that even when he was around, during the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, when health care reform proposals arose, he and other reformers dealt with and lost out to the intransigence from the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the right, and even from the corporatists in his party. Nothing would be more fitting a tribute than out of this sad event would come real health care reform, passed by the Congress and signed by President Obama, behind who Senator Kennedy through crucial supporter during the tense spring of 2008.

One of the saddest things to me is that there is not a single sitting Senator in either party that I can think of who has Kennedy's combination of seniority, vision, courage, determination, legislative skill, or capacity to cajole the opposition party to continue the extraordinary string of progressive legislation he helped to enact. Perhaps another outcome of his passing will be to inspire some of his colleagues to their better natures, to expansive visions, to a deeper sense of what the phrase "a more perfect union" can truly mean.

RIP, Senator Teddy Kennedy, and thank you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Update from the Far Side + Small, Good, Yummy Things

In my last post, I mentioned that it had been aeons (I love this spelling of that word) since I'd posted, and then I promptly went out and, in the most derelict fashion, spent another aeon away from here before posting. Unlike last August, I have thankfully not been ill and dealing personally with our faulty health care system (and I speak as someone with employer-provided health insurance, and strongly believe we need a public insurance option and extensive reforms to improve the system). C and I also haven't headed for the hills this month; we'd hoped to go to Brazil, I primarily for professional reasons, but decided based on economic considerations to postpone it, so we'll see when that becomes possible.

Instead of posting to the blog, I've been reading; writing my novel and short stories; reading; reading grad student work, since that's a year-round responsibility; reading; mourning; reading; trying to write an essay in French; reading; writing letters and emails to politicians and donating when possible to support progressives; reading; preparing for conferences later this year and early next; reading; listening to the radio and watching far too much TV, including almost anything that happens to be broadcast by Bravo; reading; watching Netflix films; reading; going to the movies and wondering how Hollywood stays in business; reading; hitting the gym regularly; reading; hanging out with a few friends and seeing others off as they move across the country; reading; working on other literary projects; reading; dreaming of new ones; reading; reading blogs, magazines, journals, newspapers, especially if I did not have an opportunity to read them during the past academic year; reading; tweeting (as you now know) and reading others' Twitter feeds; reading; , not following Facebook all that much; and doing all the other things that I do when I'm home in New Jersey.

As I noted on my Twitter feed, one of the books I finished recently was Benjamin Moser's biography of Brazilian 20th century great Clarice Lispector, Why This World (Oxford, 2009). In fact, as soon as Reggie H. (naturally) mentioned that the book was out, I ran to 2 different bookstores in NYC (my favorite in Jersey City having closed this past spring), and one, the independent Three Lives in Greenwich Village, was able to get it for me in a day. Moser's true skill in the book, beyond his thoroughness, his assured narration, and his infectious enthusiasm, sometimes to the point of hagiography and hyperbole, is to trace out the autobiographical skeleton and philosophical underpinnings of Lispector's work, revealing how so many aspects of her life, beginning with her Jewishness, and ranging from her family's hair-breadth escape from the pogroms in Ukraine, to the horrific suffering of her mother during that period, to her childhood in the exciting but still backwater northeastern capital of Recife, all helped to mold Lispector's life trajectory in singular ways that distinguished her, as a creative person as well as a public figure, from all of her Brazilian peers and gave her work its indelible, and indelibly strange and compelling stamp. One effect of the book was to make me want to return to all the Lispector books I'd read before, like The Passion of G. H. and Stream of Life (Agua Víva), two of her greatest, as well as her masterpiece, The Hour of the Star (whose famous English translation, by Giovanni Pontiero the scholars César Braga-Pinto and Ben Sifuentes-Jaureguí told me, is quite faulty, as it leaves out an entire paragraph and mistranslates others), and to read the ones I'd never gotten to, like The Foreign Legion, or The Chandelier. It also expanded my understanding, via its recourse to biography and historiography, of all of these works, in ways I hadn't imagined. Thus with The Passion of G. H., what is playing out in this book in part is Lispector's coming to terms with a capacity for self-understanding so brutal, so obliterating, that its materialization as the book's fictional plot in a sense must result in the horrific scene (which I will not give away) that continues to shock and surprise readers. Moser suggests that Lispector had reached not only an aesthetic, but a philosophical limit with this book, and goes on to show how what followed takes up another major strand that was present in her earliest writing. I should add that there are many fascinating biographical nuggets in the book, such as that Lispector, of all people, once translated, quite lackadaisically, Ann Rice's Interview with a Vampire into Portuguese; that an American poet became so enamored of her that he threatened suicide if he couldn't be with her (he couldn't); and that she was once invited to a paranormalist conference in Colombia based primarily on the wealthy organizer's impression that she was a "witch," by which I mean in the supernatural sense. More than anything, though, Moser's biography helped me to appreciate Lispector's achievements that much more, providing a much more detailed context in which her work appeared, and a deeper sense of its impact on her national literature as well as outside Brazil. The Hour of the Star, in its flawed English version, sits amidst the stack of books I plan to get through by the end of December, but I also am going to try, if I can, to approach the Portuguese to see exactly what it is I--and most of her English-language readers--have been missing.

Speaking of movies, and in particular movies about vampires, which are still all the rage (cf. Monster Theory), one I recommend, is the Swedish horror film Let the Right One In (2008), directed by Tomas Alfredsson. Anyone who watches the enthralling, disturbing, and sometimes outright farcical True Blood (or has read Stoker, Rice, and others), knows the basics of vampire lore, such as the threat from the sun, the necessity of being invited into human beings' homes, and the overwhelming need for blood, and Alfredson hews to them even as he creates something quite fresh, a revenge tale of sorts involving two children, one a vampire and one not, in an utterly bleak and yet beautiful Stockholm. The story centers around an androgynous, taciturn and almost frighteningly pale little boy, Oskar (Kare Hedebrand), whose parents are divorced and who's the victim of continuous bullying by a group of schoolyard thugs. Raised by his single mother in an ice-laden apartment complex which appears to be fairly devoid of people--really, the setting alone was already scaring me--he encounters a raven-haired little girl, Eli (Lena Leandersson), who turns up one day, amidst the frigid weather, without so much as a coat. Eventually he learns why Eli doesn't appear to be bothered by the cold, and why he doesn't see her during the day; he also learns that he's falling in love with her, despite some bloodcurdling aspects of who she truly is. The acting in the film is almost perfect, it manages to invoke tenderness without sentimentality, and though it become quite clear how the plot is going to unfold, at least up to the end, which Alfredson sets up in very skillful fashion early on, the movie still provides a good deal of immersion into vampirism, and real horror, including the requisite bloodletting.


One thing I've been trying to do is not let the increasingly crazed political situation in the country, particularly swirling around health care reform, send my blood pressure into the outer stratosphere. The GOP bringing the crazy isn't surprising; they gave us more than enough of a preview last year, and have, as the consensus historian Richard Hofstadter pointed out before I was born, the Republican Party has long been a repository for extreme nuttiness, though I think things really took a turn for the worst under 1) Reagan's presidency, when illogic was actively embraced and empowered, and 2) when Bill Clinton won in 1992. The right wing, including its Congressional annex, became totally unhinged at that point, which culminated in the attempted impeachment of Clinton in the late 1990s, despite his having governed as a competent, moderate Republican for nearly half a dozen years, and the 2000 coup that installed George W. Bush. (Yes, that sounds nutty too, but the 2000 election, if you think about it, was hardly legitimate.)

Part of the problem has been what I view as a lack of leadership and forcefulness, and an almost reflexive accommodationism, from President Barack Obama. Now I did say that I would be publishing some political thoughts back around the time of his 100th day in office (an arbitrary guidepost that the legacy media turned into a referendum moment of sorts), which I glibly called "100 Days of Obamatude," but my rising disillusionment with his tenure thus far has reached the point--perhaps disillusionment isn't the right word, and disappointment is more apt--where I haven't been able to muster the energy to commit the critique here. I do still support him, and do not regret that I voted for him. And yes, there were omens of what we've seen from his time in the Senate, one of the most outrageous being his total flipflop last year on the FISA bill and telecom immunity; his cravenness on this issue was about as huge a flag as there was. Others pointed, in a kindly but firm manner, to his narcissism, blinding self-regard and apparent entitlement (though what major politician doesn't possess either), his lack of experience and thin resumé, and his congenital desire to compromise. None of these things are and should never be dealbreakers for a president, and in light of who he was running against--and I don't just mean the loony GOP ticket--he looked then and continues to have been the best choice. On a symbolic level, he has been decent to very good so far, and some of his efforts, like his shepherding the flawed but necessary stimulus bill through Congress, his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, his lifting of some Bush-era extremist regulations concerning reproductive rights, and his championing of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Bill, have been exemplary. However, in so many other areas, the rhetoric and actions have been equivocal to dismal enough to provoke deep cynicism, in addition to dismay, disgust, and worse. I won't enumerate them all now (his economic approach and the ongoing sub-dom relationship with Wall Street; the continuation of the Bush torture regime; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his dealings with the military leadership; the disquieting indifference towards LGBTQ equality and rights; etc.), but the health care reform issue and the consequent battle provide a good example.

When he was campaigning over the last two years, Senator Barack Obama outlined many elements of what he foresaw as necessary to ensure real health care reform, a fact that is probably evident to anyone who isn't rich, is over 35, and has to deal with our current health care system. Two of Obama's rivals for the nomination, John Edwards (who despite a plethora of ideas thankfully did not get that far) and Hillary Clinton, proposed more sweeping and progressive health care reform plans, and when he was elected, Obama appeared set--and suggested, in his public comments--that he was going to adopt most of the better features of the Edwards and Clinton plans, and marshal them through Congress, thus transforming, in Rooseveltian fashion, the contemporary health care landscape in the United States. As the battle--and it was always going to be a battle, because the GOP, from before November 4, 2008, demonstrated its deep and abiding opposition to an Obama presidency, and has done nothing to change that--has unfolded, Obama, along with key elements of the Democrat party, has repeatedly said one thing and done another, misled and outright insulted his strongest supporters, cowered and gone oddly silent at times in the face of vicious GOP attacks and very dangerous, destructive lies, and shown very little passion or consistency on what is literally a life-and-death issue.

One of the key things President Obama promised was "transparency" surrounding the health care push, but we've since come to learn that in fact we've gotten anything but. Instead of the discussions being broadcast on CSPAN, we've learned that key White House officials may (or may not, though it's likely they did) negotiate in advance both with Big Pharma and the insurance companies to give them a great deal of what they wanted, in effect suffocating real, transformative reform before it was ever really possible. The White House also keeps involving perdurable milquetoast and former Senator Tom Daschle, a man who while Senator Majority Leader never missed an opportunity to let the GOP roll right over him; Daschle was supposed to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and thus to help "fix" this whole health care "reform" effort, since he has spent his post-Senate career joining his wife in shilling for a host of health care industry clients, but he failed, unlike the masses of we little people of whom Leona Helmsley once so contemptuously spoke, to pay his taxes, so his official stint in the Obama administration was kiboshed. He nevertheless continues to keep a finger in the mix--those powerful, wealthy clients, you know--and so we've gotten this horrendous, ridiculous notion of health care co-ops, which none of their proponents can lucidly explain, in place of the already watered-down government, or "public" option, which itself is a watered-down version of what would truly transform US health care, slash costs, and make quite a few insurance and pharmaceutical execs and shareholders very unhappy: a universal, single-payer system. Obama continues to finagle with Daschle, and the "Gang of Six" in the Senate, led by notorious conservadem Max Baucus, and will still have to deal with the rest of the Blue Dogs in both the Senate and House, as well as ideological Mr. Hydes like Arlen Spector (support Joe Sestak and do Pennsylvania and the country a favor!) and Joe Lieberman, who are probably salivating at the chance to sabotage whatever the Democrats produce, so who knows what will ultimately emerge and be labeled "health care reform." It's clear that without a public option, if purchasing a health care package is mandated, the main beneficiaries, under George Bush and the Republican Congress's boondoggle, will be the insurance industry and Big Pharma, again. But we're being conditioned, badly of course, to be ready to accept whatever does appear, which Obama will sign and thus declare as a victory. Half-assed is now supposed to cut it. And we're supposed to say, as we've had to say again and again with this administration (and as was the case, I recall, under Clinton, when he was not turning into an outright Republican on social or economic policy), well, it was better than nothing, which is, admitted, something....

It certainly doesn't help that we have such a hapless, duplicitous, corporate-muzzled legacy media, but I already knew this. I've railed about them more than once on this blog. The vast majority of print and telemedia journalists and the accompanying punditocracy were going to be worthless when it came to the health care reform issue, just as they'd been worthless, to a perilous extent, throughout the 8 years of George W. Bush--and Clinton's two terms, where the leading paper of record, the New York Times, to give just one execrable example, distinguished itself by pushing the Whitewater scandal relentlessly until it was finally debunked and Bill and Hillary Clinton were exonerated, by courts of law no less, of wrongdoing, yet the Times never saw fit to apologize for its highly damaging behavior. We are now near the end of August, yet one could search high and low for a clear, extended discussion, on TV or in the major papers, of what the current health care issues are, why the US spends so much more than any other industrialized country and what the sources of these exorbitant costs are, what the prospective Congressional plans would really look like and how they would play out economically, what various real stakeholders (from patients to doctors to insurance and pharmaceutical executives, etc.) would stand to gain and lose, and what the projected effects, not just on the health care system itself, but on US society in general, would be. Perhaps the media didn't do this when Social Security or Medicare and Medicaid were being discussed either, so maybe this is beyond their pay grade or ken, but in the absence of the Democratic Party, major Democratic Congressional officials, and the President doing this in a sustained fashion--and thus helping to counter the sheer derangement being catapulted, for obvious reasons, by the insurance and Big Pharma lobbies and by the likes of Sarah Palin and a good deal of the GOP--having the legacy media just do its job would have very helpful and productive, whatever the outcome of the health care reform push might be.

So, as I said, I try not to let it or them get to me, whether it's Andrea Bernstein on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show expressing relief that reporter and author T.R. Reid was not a "leftwing nut" and failing to ask basic questions about economic baselines and costs of Reid, whose new book, The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, on his experiences with universal health care systems in the world's other advanced democracies sounds fascinating, or Chris Matthews parroting right-wing talking points one minute while bemoaning right-wing behavior the next, or the President and his administration negotiating against themselves, either because they want the bill to fail or be torn apart and fairly worthless if it does pass, they're somehow cowed by the GOP and completely beholden to the industries they're supposed to be challenging, or they're just too in their salad days--or, and I hope this isn't the case, too incompetent--to grasp how to deal with the opposition. Of course there could be other reasons why the situation is unfolding the way it is, so pardon any ascriptions of bad faith to the President (if not to people like Rahm Emanuel, a corporatist if there ever was one), but it's frustrating to witness things occurring--ravel, really--as they are, and to realize that I, nor anyone else really without power or access, has any voice, no matter how insistent we are.


One of the things I've been doing is making bread. In addition to saving money every week, because this homemade bread is far cheaper than store-bought or even farmer's market-bought bread, and does last quite a while (sometimes up to 2 weeks without getting hard or moldy), the breadmaking is quite therapeutic. Each loaf has been an improvement on what's come before, it's fairly easy to do and hard to screw up even with a bit of experimentation, and it's so satisfying and delicious when it's done. As I mentioned, I started making it in Chicago, after C had pioneered it in NJ, and since then I haven't slowed down. So here are four different types of some of the breads I've been making and we've been enjoying.

First, I want to highlight the Irish soda bread I made based on a recipe that my former undergraduate student, the very brilliant Miriam*, who currently is on the high seas but does manage to post comments here regularly, sent me some time ago. (Finally, I made it!) I love Irish soda bread, and was particularly fond of the version the Plough & Stars, a longtime Cambridge, Massachusetts bar (is it still there?), used to serve on Sundays, with eggs and Irish sausages, a perfect tonic to sop up a hangover and fortify you for the rest of the day, so I decide to try my hand at making some, and it turned out very well. To Miriam's recipe I added raisins and perhaps more butter than was necessary, so the crust was quite flaky, but it did hold up well whether sliced and covered with marmelade, fried in an egg-in-the-hole style service (particularly delicious), or battered and turned into French toast. The innate sweetness and thickness of the bread made it especially perfect for this purpose. It also kept, first in a simple plastic bag, and then later in the refrigerator, for about 2 1/2 weeks.
Irish soda bread
An overhead shot of the Irish soda bread. It was particularly delicious with eggs, and as the base for French toast.
Irish soda bread
The Irish soda bread from the side. Those are raisins lying on the pan.

Back in late June, I made semolina loaves, another favorite from the farmer's market. C had suggested that I just adapt the recipe I regularly used but substitute the semolina instead of the wheat flour, but I thought I should try to find a semolina recipe, and I did, and it was considerably more involved than my usual minimal knead recipe, but the results, visible below, were pretty good, so I do plan to try it again. Like the Irish soda bread but unlike the boules, it doesn't go in a pot, but bakes on a tray, though with a pan of water beneath it, to ensure that it has the space to rise but forms a good crust and achieves a light, puffy texture. I am going to try it again, but perhaps with more of a sourdough flour to see how that turns out, though I'm not so much a fan of sourdough as I am of other doughs. The bread last for about 2 weeks, stayed soft, unlike other semolina loafs we've bought, even from bakeries, and was perfect plain, buttered at breakfast, to make sandwiches, what have you.
Two freshly baked homemade semolina loaves

My next experiment was making an olive loaf, using the unbleached bread flour, the unbleached white flour (as opposed to the whole wheat or rye flour), and the pastry flour. Olive loaves are one of our favorite purchases at the farmer's market. Since I am boycotting Whole Foods, which I know has delicious, not excessively brined fresh olives, I picked up several different types of fresh, black and dark olives from the local A&P. They were extremely brined, so to prepare them for the olive bread, I made sure they were pitted, washed them 2-3 times, then tasted them to make sure they weren't too salty, then diced them up so that they would be easy to knead into the bread. At the stage when I knead the bread shortly before I bake it, I folded the olive pieces in, and then let the dough rise again for about 30-45 minutes. The result was, if I may say myself, quite successful. The second version I made the other night also worked well, and baked into an almost heart-shaped version, which is easier to cut for sandwiches. The original loaf lasted about 2 weeks, and did not harden or grow moldy, even though not refrigerated.
Olive bread
The olive loaf. I washed the olives three times to remove the brine (and pitted the ones that weren't already pitted).

This is the original white loaf, with pecans, that I've been making a lot. During the winter I tended to make a whole wheat version, and also tried a rye version. (I need to learn how to make pumpernickel.) It's my personal favorite, in part because the nuttiness of the pecans really flavors the bread in a wonderful way that doesn't overpower it. Whether for sandwiches, as an accompaniment to a lunch salad or with dinner, or even to make croutons or bread pudding once it nears the end of its freshness, it's a great option. Without the pecans it would be tasty, but with them, it is simply beyond.
White boulle with pecans
My favorite, the standard pecan loaf.

*In an earlier comment section, Miriam noted a great used bookstore on Commercial Street in Provincetown; I did not publish the photo of it, but I snapped a picture, as I often have, as I was entering it, and titled it "My favorite Ptown bookstore" on my Flickr photostream. Why am I not surprised that Miriam would have mentioned it? :-)
My favorite Ptown bookstore

Thursday, August 06, 2009

My Recent Webwhereabouts, or Twitter

Twitter AvatarIt's been eons since I last posted. I do have some unfinished stubs to complete, but I've found--naturally enough--that since I mentioned Twitter some posts ago, that's become one of my mainstays for offering up my thoughts to the Net.

Twitter's 140-word limit doesn't encourage deep or exhaustive thinking or posting, but then again, it does seem to provoke Wit-tering, and it's a great way to direct people to links, sites and other tweets you find of interest. (Which is probably why so many corporations have jumped in its flatbed.)

It also, I must say, has proved to be a quick way to reach certain institutions, like the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. For every fawning or semi-informative Tweet they post, someone comes right back to let them know about service problems, the wind-tunnel quality of certain stations, and so on. And they do respond. Quickly. (On the other hand, an old-fashioned letter I sent to the director of the Incinerator Authority, my City Councilperson, and the not-yet-indicted mayor did spark very quick action in the neighborhood. So sometimes the old methods are as or even more effective. Email, I think, is a wash.)

Since I've been too lazy--though not idle; I have completed at least one project so far and have finished reading several books for a change--to post my Twitter feed (it's jstheater) address, here's some of what has appeared there if not here. Or, "Aspects of my recent life in 60 tweets."

  1. One word: projection!
  2. now that MEN & women & children r being raped in the Congo will the world take notice?
  3. Can I say SCOTUS Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor yet?
  4. Reading Sontag's journals is like visiting France for the first; it is both similar 2 & more amazing than you imagined.
  5. If only the new Lispector bio weren't as big as a boulder, I'd carry it w me everywhere.
  6. Twitter's back, ttg! Can't do without folks' bursts of whatever comes 2 mind or fingertip...
  7. Agua frescas @ Doma are still the bomb!
  8. Do the Mets regret firing Willie Randolph yet?
  9. Why won't someone pay me to go act a fool on behalf of single-payer universal health care?
  10. Why are former Democratic presidents addressing humanitarian needs & crises while GOP ex-prezes just play golf?
  11. Happy Barack Obama Day!
  12. Why do I always expect books I want 2 be in the bookstore (cf new Lispector bio)?
  13. @PATHtweet Was just on 33rd-Jsq 604 / a huge sardine can was that car / riders cd barely get in the door / glad we didn't run out of air!
  14. @Blabbeando Not at all surprising. He's such a lowlife.
  15. King Lear is far stranger, more gory and more complex than I recall. I cd easily see an African filmic version.
  16. Having cut the backyard lawn this morning, I'll pick some more blackberries this evening. What to do with them, tho?
  17. this morning felt like September, but now it feels like August.
  18. @tayari I This book is getting a LOT of play...why?
  19. @Atrios And yet I still read it every day!
  20. It's a steambath out here. Rain would be great.
  1. Was so into what I was writing 2day I forgot what time it was. Back 2 the world...
  2. Humid 2day but so sunny, so I love it.
  3. @Blabbeando where is nn?
  4. @zeenakoda yes works 2 jsq but not 2 nwk it's a mess @ jsq upstairs
  5. @PATHtweet no jsq 2 nwk trains! of course conflicting info; loudspeaker says take jersey trans, conductor says buses @ jsq--????
  6. New Jersey's news these days is very wild wild West or NYC circa 1980!
  7. Horrendous! Bloomberg should be ousted for this act alone. BTW where's the churches' outcry?
  8. @tayari mendi o has the perfect ending-the-chain-letter letter.
  9. a fine tribute
  10. @tayari it's atrocious but not surprising. all my students have read her work & she's often a fave.
  11. Sometimes I think 3GS = 3 good sentences b4 AT&T's network craps out.
  12. @blackgriot It does @ the holiday inn Viking in St. Louis
  13. I thought Merce Cunningham was immortal.
  14. I had a mifi but gave it up. Why oh why did I ever do that?
  15. @glenngreenwald It's disgraceful, really.
  16. So very sorry to learn about E Lynn Harris's death!
  17. Thinking about Sara Ahmed's ideas as a way to consider blackness and queerness
  18. @AllenGallery all of em except Corzine Corey B & Randall P lol
  19. Go new jersey down & dirty run by crooked & the crazy!
  20. @PATHtweet 3rd car in my Hob-33rd St car has no AC, like a grill inside. Come on, PATH!
  1. Caught Soledad's BIA 2 last night; better than first installment but so much still left out. & yes we know bourgies exist!
  2. Watched Prez O last night, so-so salesman. It's the baseline that must be reformed.
  3. @PATHtweet On a new train, finally!
  4. First flight can canceled 2nd 2 hrs late lord just get me home to NJ!
  5. Very sorry to hear about Frank McCourt's passing. He was a master storyteller.
  6. @tayari You can do it!
  7. Happy birthday to Nelson Mandela!
  8. It's so mild here in st. Louis; I thought it would be hotter
  9. my plane is snowing inside but I'm not worried. :-|
  10. @glenngreenwald We should demand that it happen before the recess
  11. @PATHtweet thanks it always feels like 20-25 and the trip to Newark is glacial but NJ Transit train 2 EWR did arrive!
  12. @PATHtweet @ Newark Penn Some escalators, monitors, track board broken, station like an obstacle course
  13. @PATHtweet Waiting as always long time for Newark train @ JSQ - why PATH???
  14. @PATHtweet Just saw 1 of the new trains natch it was No Passengers for Newark direction
  15. Great work by Senate to attach Shepard Hates Crimes bill to DOD bill - will Obama sign?
  16. @TLDEF So glad about the verdict!
  17. @Blabbeando Buchanan was stone kkkold kleagle tonight. Rachel was good but enough is enough!
  18. Wendy Williams's tv show is all about the audience howudoin?
  19. Don't the chirren run "child please" every five seconds? OchoCinco...hmm....
  20. @charlesfstephen best wishes with the writers' group!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Random Photos: New York City

A few recent photos, from hither and thither, or as NS wrote in a recent email, "here or yon."
Fashion shoot at NYPL
A fashion shoot at the New York Public Library. (You didn't think all people did was read books there, did you?)
Recession Special, Gray's Papaya
People noshing at that old "recession special mainstay," Gray's Papaya, in the West Village
Afternoon nap
An afternoon nap, in Bryant Park at the library (this was not staged)
Life-size chessboard
A life-sized chessboard at an outdoor chess tournament at 34th St., near Herald Square
Empty storefront
One of the many empty storefronts in Manhattan, this one in Soho, along Spring
Street scene, Provincetown
Cowboybear (it was the beginning of Bear Week in Provincetown--wouldn't he make an excellent posterman?)
Grand Central Terminal, w/ Chrysler Bldg behind it
Grand Central Terminal, with the modernist Chrysler Building behind it
Street artist near Grand Central Station
An expressionist street artist's rendering of the same
42nd St. & 6th Ave.
Crossing 42nd St. (I love all the contemporary NY summer indices in this photo)
Street artist, 7th Avenue
Another street artist, 7th Ave., West Village
Street scene, 7th Ave., Village
Another street scene, 7th Ave., West Village
Village character
Another Village character (note the wreath-as-hat!)
People observing a treeworm
People observing a treeworm of some sort (it's the hanging thing at the photo's center), in Bryant Park