Archive for the Thoughts Category

COMEDY BRILLIANCE — The Presidential Debate as lipreading musical

Posted in Thoughts on October 18, 2012 by Admin

Oh, if only the debates were this peaceful, this gentle, kind, and most of all, POLITE. Seriously, I could go on for paragraphs about manners today and the lack thereof. But I will spare you that.

This is a MUST SEE.

found at The Chawed Rosin (fabulous blog name!) by way of Susan Anton, who seems to always find hilarious and amazing things.

Linty Vignettes

Posted in Thoughts on September 28, 2012 by Admin

The truth is a battle of perceptions. people only see what they are prepared to confront.

The oddest things seem to stick in one’s memory, vignettes of sorts, funny little remembrances that seem simple, in some cases, and of a revealing or resonant nature in others. Some of my snippets of memory seem to be benign in most ways and sometimes possibly even like pointless snatches of conversational lint from days long past. Some only have meaning — by way of hypocrisy, foreboding, omenation (it stays), or revelation — as seen in Life’s figurative rear-view mirror. These are some of the bits of memorial lint I keep picking out of the navel of that which is my mind. There will later be a quiz as to the inherent meanings, or not.

All during my childhood my parents had these particularly close friends whom I will call Roy and Agnes. We prefaced their names when addressing them with Aunt and Uncle till we were old enough to use first names without being “fresh”, and though we used these familial titles we were not actually related.

Roy and Agnes lived about 2 hours away and once every few months we’d pile into the family car — at one point a yellow station wagon with contac paper-y wood paneling and a few dent-y flourishes that I was to young to appreciate as a half-formed person striving to conceal my meager life in a very wealthy town — and go for a visit.

At other times the family car was either a white or dark green late-model VW beetle into which all 5 of us would cram; me in the rectangularly-upright luggage space behind the tiny back seat because I was the smallest and also because my younger brother, “Norman” — a seemingly well-mannered yet very insecure and delicate boy — would be absolutely aghast at having to suffer the indignity of sitting “back there”, and so I always took that space so as to avoid the ever-crumpling face, which prefaced the inevitable tears. Norman also cheated, egregiously, at Monopoly, yet my older brother and I were forced to play with him anyway because of the delicacy, the crumpling and the tears, but that does not figure into this story.

Roy and Agnes were snappy, funny, edgy even, and hilarious. Roy had a little plane and once flew over our house and did flips. I think it must have been pre-planned because I happened to have all my neighborhood friends assembled and proudly fibbed that “I go up in his plane all the time, I even get to do flips!”, though I’d not have been allowed to do any such thing, not ever.

It was always nice to see them and never ever dull. They had a snappy rapport and both gave as good as they got. I idolized both of them, and would send long letters to Agnes, as a little blogger with an assortment of Aunts as my audience, for most of my life. Yet of all the fun times we had with them in various places, one sticks out; we were driving to an air museum, just Roy my father and me, and were in Roy’s huge boat of a car. It was not fancy, just huge with a long hood. Roy was being his usual hilarious self and yet his mood entirely changed when I asked why there was a small glazed ceramic flag pin stuck in the middle of his speedometer. Roy then launched into a tirade about, ” All the *&$%@ people who drive over 55″, (these were the Jimmy Carter years of gas conservation by way of “optimal speed limit”), and explained how he’d glued that pin right at the 55 mark as reminder for the what and why of the speed limit, because at least he cared about our country. I’d not ever noticed this sort of over-patriotic righteous behavior in any adult, and was somewhat shocked, as his ceaseless chastisement of all other drivers seemed unhinged, overzealous at best, though I snickered at the language and the fact that my father seemed unwilling or unable to rebuke him for it.

For the rest of the ride Roy continued to unleash a torrent of spicy indictment on every driver who passed us, punctuated with sign language and expletives while, for effect, I clutched my imaginary pearls in horror, as my father’s jaw twitched. The air museum was a bust as both adults seemed tight-lipped and so our tour was a perfunctory one, followed by an oddly quiet ride home.

Over the years I saw less and less of Roy and Agnes though I kept up my letter-writing. The replies were often brief, consisting of, “Please write more letters” (the standard, and sometimes only, reply from my chorus of letter-receiving Aunts), news of marriages and grandchildren, and commentary on the weather.

When I heard the news that Roy had died I immediately thought of that one day and the behavior I’d neither before nor after seen. I also remembered all the good times, the plane buzzing over our little house, and the laughter. Yet I noticed that my parents were unusually silent when I asked about the funeral arrangements, which seemed very odd as all I’d ever heard was how my parents, “thought the world of them”.

I pushed till I got the story; Agnes had made her daily trip to the hospital to see Roy in what would be his final hour, and had found the woman from the house next door — the house next door to the one she and Roy had shared for 50 years — at his bedside, sobbing and holding Roy’s hand.

The Road to Hell Is Paved With Unwanted Ceramic Owls

Posted in Confusion, Fellow Human Beings, Philosophy?, The meaning of life, Thoughts on September 26, 2012 by Admin

An exercise in/of unfinished and unpolished fiction, with interspersed summary of Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis — a brilliant parody of “idealistic” middle class life from the perspective of one man’s (aka, everyman) delusional self-satisfaction arisen from self-perceptions of “superior social standing”, materialism, and delusions of grandeur as derived from comparison between oneself and others  — courtesy of sparknotes.

On April 20 1920, dawn breaks over Zenith, a Midwestern town bustling with new skyscrapers, automobiles, and factories. George F. Babbitt, a 46-year-old real estate broker, reluctantly awakens from a recurring dream about his fairy girl, a slim maiden who fulfills his fantasies of being a “gallant, romantic youth.” In reality, Babbitt is a middle-aged, rather pudgy family man. His home, replete with all the modern conveniences, is located in Floral Heights, the middle-class residential section of Zenith.

Petunia was in the parking lot of her boyfriend’s office building, waiting. It was a small and nondescript one story building in a suburb well outside the big city where he evidently made a lot of money, but she had little interest in money — a taste she would never acquire —  though she worked at the plush corporate headquarters of a purposely snooty worldwide women’s fashion retailer. Petunia’s responsibilities sometimes included making copies of the buyer’s sheets for clothing purchased in China and marked up, for example, from an $8 purchase price and sold through their catalogs and stores for an end price of 98$, to women of a certain self-satisfied confidence like that of the women executives at the retailer, who, according to their oddly loud conversations while in line at the cafeteria, would wear their new garments to garden parties on the expansive grounds of stately homes, or weddings in which the bride would carry pink roses and the place settings would be marked by monogrammed green golf tees. She often wondered if the green tees would ever make it to a gold course and why these women never smiled. Petunia did not aspire to this world. It did not seem like much fun. In fact, Petunia would never fail to be surprised upon encountering those who did aspire to this life, and this would become a lifelong series of such surprises from what she thought of as unlikely sources.

The morning newspaper calms his agitated nerves. He reads it aloud to Myra, but only the popular society column interests her. Babbitt grunts at the praise heaped on Charles McKelvey’s parties at his lavish home. Myra hesitantly ventures that she would like to see the inside of his home. Babbitt asserts that Myra is “a great old girl” and states that it is regrettable that he didn’t keep in touch with McKelvey after they graduated from college. Babbitt kisses her before leaving for work.

Grumbling to himself at Myra’s desire to associate with “this millionaire outfit,” Babbitt exits his home to start his beloved car. He wishes he could dispense with “the whole game.” He doesn’t mean to be irritable, but he constantly feels tired.

While waiting for her boyfriend, Fred, to exit the building, Petunia watched his co-workers parade past the car. Some seemed startled at the sight of her behind the wheel because she was definitely not Fred, yet she was in his unmistakably very bright red car, but then they kept walking.

Petunia liked her boyfriend’s sense of humor, as well as the fact that she had met him once as a child while camping in another New England state, the one he was from, which made him seem more down to earth and where he would register the red Porsche he’d be driving when they would meet again years down the road. The car she sat in now was also red, though not as expensive as the Porsche would be. This one was registered in the town he actually lived in, also outside the big city, which he shared with 2 other very aggressive salesmen. The term “salesman” made her think of Rotary Clubs, Fuller Brushes, and the novel, Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis, who also lived in that other New England state at one point.

Babbitt is first and foremost a parody of post-World War I middle-class American culture. The name of the town, Zenith, implies that Babbitt’s community views itself as the highest point of American civilization. Zenith worships the world of business: its skyscrapers, factories, and automobiles are symbols of rampant commercialism. Babbitt’s home is a miniature representation of the American middle class’s worship of material objects. It has all the modern conveniences, including an alarm clock blessed with all the latest technology.

One might think that Zenith’s gleaming, modern skyline and Babbitt’s slick, modern home imply that Zenith is indeed a wonderful, interesting place to live. However, Babbitt’s fantasy fairy girl reveals that Babbitt is dissatisfied with his life as a middle-class family man. The description of his house reveals that its sleek, modern appearance is just that–appearance. It is designed to show off the occupant’s wealth more than anything else. Lewis states that Babbitt’s house lacks the aura of a home, that it is as impersonal as a hotel room. He compares it to an ad in a magazine for “Cheerful Modern Houses for Medium Incomes,” further emphasizing Zenith’s empty commercialism. Lewis’s description of Babbitt’s house reveals the monotonous conformity of the American middle class. All of Babbitt’s modern household appliances are the “standard” possessions of his class. Babbitt’s house is simply a mass-produced, standardized symbol of middle class affluence. It is like every other prosperous middle-class house in Zenith and presumably like middle-class houses all over the country.

Petunia had the fancy red Saab because her Hyundai was in the shop, and Fred, her boyfriend of several months, had let her drop him off a work in the morning so she could drive to her own office. When she got to her office she’d not been able to get the key out of the ignition so she’d had to leave it unlocked while she ran to her desk to call his office. It turned out that Saab’s must be in reverse with the hand brake on in order to be able to remove the key. Everyone had a good laugh at that. When her boss saw the car she’d advised Petunia, “Marry that man”, but at 21 Petunia felt too young to get married.

[Babbitt’s wife’s] entire outlook on life is heavily influenced by the middle-class worship of material objects, as her argument with Ted about the family car further reveals. Like many other middle-class college graduates, she is more in love with the idea of liberalism than anything else. Ted is obsessed with nice clothing, cars, and girls like other middle-class sons. Again, Lewis emphasizes that the materialistic middle class favors appearance over substance.

Petunia “liked” liked Fred but his friends intimidated her as they were all of the aggressive salesperson type and all talk was of money and commissions. Petunia had convinced herself that Fred was different despite the book on his shelf titled, “How To Dress Rich”, which she thought somewhat hilarious, especially the part about wearing the oh-so-obvious cravat. Petunia’s dress was from the Dress Barn in the same town as her office, but she thought it looked good enough, given the compliments she’d received. It was not her size but it was cheap and flowey so she’d gotten it anyway. Fred had said he’d liked it the last time she wore it.

They’d gotten off to an odd start as weeks had passed since he’d first called her just two days after meeting her in a bar downtown and she’d had been unable to accept his offer of dinner due to firm plans to go to her hometown for her brother’s birthday. She’d then heard from Fred weeks later only because one of the friends she’d been with at the bar that night had been dating one of his co-workers and had suggested they all four go out. They laughed a lot.

Babbitt’s diatribe against Verona’s “liberal” opinions and his reaction to the morning paper clearly indicate that he has few original opinions. Rather, his entire belief system is based on the opinions of his community, often absorbed without question from the newspaper headlines. His middle-class hubris is revealed in his empty diatribe against giving the poor “notions above their class.”

A few minutes before Fred finally emerged from his office building, a woman had walked by and had made a point of staring at Petunia as she sat in the driver’s seat. The woman seemed older than Petunia by six or seven years with a somewhat dated yet preppy dressage and hair which had obviously been blown out straight and set on rollers; women still used hot rollers back then. The woman lingered longer than might be polite and Petunia had the odd feeling that her own hair and dress were somehow not acceptable to this woman. Petunia’s hair was not styled, nor straight.

When Fred, who was a year older than Petunia, had finally emerged from the nondescript one story building, he’d seemed troubled — a different person from the extremely happy guy of the night before and that very morning. Petunia made some small talk yet Fred remained distracted, troubled. Finally Petunia asked what was wrong, to which Fred replied, “Jennifer, our secretary, just said that she saw you in my car and that you “don’t look like my type.” Fred seemed disproportionately unnerved and in Petunia’s mind she saw the book on his shelf.

Years later at another downtown bar near her apartment Petunia and a friend would bump into Fred (after an embarrassingly unsuccessful attempt to escape through the back door, thwarted by a security guard), and he would regale them with stories of having been cleaned out in his divorce from a woman named Jennifer, joking that he’d gotten nothing but an unwanted ceramic owl received as a wedding gift, adding that he could not recall from whom it had been given.

When the bar closed they’d have drinks on his friend’s large boat docked nearby — named for the business scam by which it had been purchased, a scam not to be divulged yet to be hinted at repeatedly — and have non-conversations about material things. The next day they would take a ride in the bright red Porsche registered in the other New England state to save money, and when Petunia picked a long blond hair off the seat and remark that she must be shedding, Fred would laugh and say, “No, I am sure it was already in the car”, and Petunia would be glad to get home.

Petunia would remember this decades later when a friend would say, “So, Jane asked me the other day (imitating a falsetto-ish voice), “Oh, is Petunia your new best friend now?”

Although Babbitt is quick to demand that the poor stay in their assigned place, he and Myra harbor a desire to move into the elite circle of the McKelveys. Myra wants to be invited to their parties. Babbitt criticizes the McKelveys as snobbish highbrows, but it seems that his criticism is merely a means to salve his bruised ego at being excluded from their world. Lewis implies here that typical Americans, regardless of their class, are obsessed with excluding those less fortunate, as well as gaining the acceptance of those more fortunate…

…despite the pleasure he seems to take in his affluent lifestyle and its accompanying symbols, he seems rather dissatisfied. He mutters that he would like to dispense with the “whole game” as he leaves the house.

Jazz in Holyoke with Kaos Theory; An Unusually Fine Outdoor Experience

Posted in Adventures and Interludes, FOOD & RESTAURANTS, Life Performance Art, Poetry, Thoughts with tags on September 23, 2012 by Admin

So, my pictures from this event did not turn out well, but I think the video gives an idea of the spectacular projection and music of the band. Oddly, I have not been able to get an answer from anyone I have contacted regarding the exact name of the band. But then, some times I don’t feel so… sane.

 

The original poster:

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA


We have been having a series of jazz concerts in a huge parking lot behind two abandoned buildings and a single occupied one, using an old long-abandoned loading dock with weeds and etc as a stage. The result is pretty amazing as the parking lot is situated such that it is between two canals and this creates a beautiful cross breeze, helpful especially on those hot summer nights. Sometimes the BYOR crew coordinates with the jazz series but on this night we were the only people who’d brought food and wine and candles and yet somehow, due perhaps to a miraculous miracle in which the dishes we’d made had self-replicated exponentially, we were able to feed most everyone who showed up. The bottles of wine lasted throughout the evening, as did the Eggplant Parmesan from a friend’s garden — well, all but the cheese — as well as the chocolate zucchini cake, the pumpkin tarts and muffins, and the myriad other dishes.

There is something rather ethereal about tablecloths, cloth napkins, candles and flowers in a visually near-post-apocalypse setting, and the stage… well it is hard to describe just how it lends itself to the various jazz bands who have played at this unnamed venue.

At this last event the evening was  the sort cool temperature bordering on cold of the sort which, following seemingly endless painfully sweltering dog days, makes wearing socks and sweaters as delicious a feeling as at the end of a long day at the beach when the sun has set and the goosebumps appear.

As I was the only person with a camera, this is the only video we have. The song which is labeled “Candy’ has been stuck in my head ever since, along with the warm feeling from sitting around the old discarded kiln we dragged out into the parking lot and used as a fire pit, and the dreams I had after a beautiful evening in the fresh air.

Wonder Bred

Posted in Activism?, Adventures and Interludes, Being a Virgo, being defensive, Confusion, danger, Empathy, Fellow Human Beings, Get Informed, Honesty, Important Social Issues, Life is like Christopher Guest said it was, Life Performance Art, Love Thy Fellow Man, Non-Selective Empathy and Compassion, Northampton Police Department, Philosophy?, Regretful Human Behavior, Special People, The meaning of life, Thoughts, We Are ALL Peers with tags , , , , , , on September 19, 2012 by Admin

UPDATE: It seems that Mr. Sir and John counted fourteen policepersons in all on this fateful evening and so I thought this worth adding. Because so often people tend to exaggerate numbers and situations, it is my way to… what is the opposite of exaggerate? I am going to check the antonymary… I am going to go with understate. Anywho, I tend to always round things down as I find that hyperbole discredits the point one is trying to make. My memory of that evening is very clear though it is the emotional part of it that is most fixed. As we waited for forty-something minutes for the FOURTEEN policemen to decide what to do with us, I ruminated on the inherent hypocrisy of the situation, the shame, and the tragedy, while my ethnic companions counted cops over and over, as the numbers increased. Part of me doesn’t want to believe there were quite that many uniforms surrounding mar car but I know my companions to eschew hyperbole as well. I am not going to go back and edit the post below, so this update shall suffice as sufficient edit.

All that for a YELLOW light.

I have a friend, whom I shall call Mr. Sir for this post, and who is a rather wonderful mixed breed of African American, German, and Native American, which is rather evident in his features. Mr. Sir is a well-educated and accomplished sort of sir and holds a very prestigious position at a highly regarded art museum with a notable (7$s worth) collection of Fine Art. Often Mr. Sir is sent to other countries by this museum as trusted escort for priceless artwork — by the likes of Monet, to name a one — when this museum borrows or loans work from/to other prestigious museums. Museums do this, and the work being shared MUST be escorted for various reasons, all of them, like, totally important. He has also been sent to other countries to authenticate rare works of art ($729,000 worth of rare art on one trip alone) before his employers write the check, and is responsible for conserving six figure works, like when kids stick gum to paintings and whatnot.

Art is also “handled” by “Art Handlers” and shipping companies, but that good, bad, and sometimes rather ugly inside scoop is for another post. Mr. Sir is not an Art Handler though, yet our pal Biggie is, who is big. And strong.

Cowboy Curtis,  looking surprised, in a gold fine art frame. I kill me!

Mr. Sir has experienced his fair share of flights running late, resulting in his dashing through airports alongside said priceless works (think very large packages and/or crates) in order to make connecting flights and he has been stopped — due to the packaging and the features and the dashing — at a more frequent rate than other running airport people, the point being that he is among those who seem to attract such visual scrutiny in airports. Therefor, Mr. Sir is ever-s0-vigilant to shave on flight days, even if that means shaving at 3 am, because he has learned by the seat of his delayed-ass pants that the combination of facial hair plus dark skin color and exotic features can result in scrutinizinglied missed flights, and how often can one ask their employer to purchase yet another last-minute flight due to attention attracting (not ALL of it bad, actually) exotic features?

I have tried to walk a figurative mile in Mr. Sir’s various ethnic shoes yet I am merely able to  approximate what life must be like for persons of different colors and ethnicities, having been born a whitey through no merit of my own (I’m looking at you white people who feel superior for “winning” some sort of pre-birth lottery). Recently, however, I had a small taste of this thanks to the Northampton, MA Police Department. Thank you NPD, I am now ever more sensitized to the dubious perils of being non-white. Though having been pulled over in the south — by another baby-faced, blond-haired, blue-eyed officer — and astronomically ticketed for being a Yankee,  I know a wee bit of the helpless rage one feels at such injustices.

It’s all fun and games until someone gets profiled and finds their car surrounded by policemen wielding flashlights and a few rounds of hollow-point suspicion.

I don’t choose my friends by visuals; I choose them by their souls, how they make me feel about myself, and that which is abundant in their hearts. My companions on that fateful night are two of the most sensitive, sincere, compassionate, spiritual (by which I mean that they believe in and practice that which is truly good and beneficial for fellow humans, though not affiliated with any particular brand of religion), kind, generous, intelligent and evolved people I have the fortune to know. They are beautiful people, inside and out.

Mr. Sir, like many of his related relatives before him, has in the last few years been getting more involved with his Native American roots.  He grew out his adorable jheri curls and now sports braids, often sporting Naive American-ish clothing. Noooooo, not feather headdresses and immodest scraps of buffalo hide barely covering his manly bits, I mean “ribbon-ed” shirts and beaded necklaces. “Ribbons” in this case refers to hand stitched designs — by an authorized person — which signify one’s specific tribe and whatnot, including admirable accomplishments I believe, though not scalps of whites brought back to the rez, silly. I don’t understand all of it and so I will leave it at that. Mr. Sir goes to Pow Wows all over the country, participating more and more in Native American ritual and philosophy, which is about kindness, peace and forgiveness. They best believe in forgiveness, for what was done to those native to this land was deplorable; being slaughtered and herded onto fenced millifractions of what was once their own land. And it hasn’t ever gotten much better, though the slaughtering ceased ages ago.

My stash.

Mr. Sir always bring me back a satchel of sage blessed by a Medicine Man at the Pow Wows and I burn it for friends who need prayers. I swear sometimes it works. I have never been to a Pow Wow or even a reservation — not because I haven’t wanted to go, but because, “It’s not a fucking theme park”, and I get that.

Through Mr. Sir, I had the fortune to meet Gary Farmer, an accomplished actor (Dead Man, Adaptation, and Dances With Wolves — in which he uttered his now-iconic line, “Stupid Fucking White Man”, and who now tours North America with his band, Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers, and with whom I once did a pretend duet at a gig and furtherly for whom I am to one day do a documentary of his life as activist, actor and blues musician — our interview went THAT well. Mr. Sir plays in Gary’s band, as does his pal John, who is part of this story.

BTW, soon I will post here an interview I did with Gary Farmer over a year ago (shamefully delayed) and which I have since been editing down to an hour.  Our conversation was so fascinating that I didn’t want to lose a single sentence of it but, alas, 2.5 hours is too much.

AnywhatthehellwasItalkingaboutanyway, this post is about profiling in what had once been considered one of our most “sensitive” and progressive  towns here in “The Happy Valley”, and involves a traffic stop, a few police cars and foot/bike patrolmen, my car being surrounded by EIGHT policemen (there were no female police present, hence the term), and a subsequent verbal warning, after about 40 minutes in all of boredom and profound embarrassment for all involved (looking at you and your armed cohorts, Babyface).

The Northampton, MA Police Department at work; As seen in my rear view mirror.

It all started one night when Mr. Sir and his pal John and I were on our way back from seeing a band in Greenfield, Ma. It was a dark and stormy night… yet it was a clear and balmy evening.

John, the other passenger, was in town from Rio Rancho, New Mexico for a visit with his pal Mr. Sir, as well as for a reception; he was showing his work at an area gallery. John is a big guy, and has hair down to his waist. One can easily guess at his heritage. John also has a business crafting beautiful custom guitars and plays as a studio musician and in several bands including Gary farmer and The Troublemakers. A friend of his from high school in was playing at The Art Bank in Greenfield and so we all went to see her band and I paid 3$ for a airplane-sized bottle of water, while Mr. Sir and John each had a single $20 (ish) beer, as I don’t often drink and we’d been fairly depleted by the $10 cover charge.

On the way home we took the scenic route and as I approached the intersection of Main and King/Pleasant streets in downtown Northampton, MA the light suddenly changed from green to yellow, just as I reached the stop line. Rather than slam on my brakes — though I was in second gear and thus only going about 20 mph, having just stopped at the Cumberland Farms for a candy bar and thus having not driven far enough to get past second gear — I felt it safest and perfectly legal (it is) to just go through the intersection. As it is a short yellow light, it turned red just as my tires crossed the stop line at the other side of the intersection.  Just then Mr. Sir said, “Monkey (he calls me ‘Monkey’, because of this picture of me as a child, in which, logically, I look like a monkey), there was a cop right at the intersection on the left, facing us!”, and I said, “No problem. That was a perfectly legal maneuver.” But the cop had seen Mr. Sir’s ethnic face in the back seat window — they looked right at each other — and soon enough I saw the flashing lights in my rear view mirror.

I pulled over immediately, which un/fortunately was right in front of The Elevens ( a local bar popular with the young folk), and as luck would have it, half the bar was on the sidewalk out front providing us with an audience. It would later turn out that one of Mr. Sir’s coworkers was on that sidewalk, watching the whole show and wondering whether or not to jump in, being a sophisticate and well-connected and all that.

View from passenger side window.

Then there was a flashlight in my face, held by a young, very white face. “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“Yes, because I went through a yellow light.”

“Well, it was red…”

“It was yellow.”

As we spoke, his flashlight searched my car. A second cop then joined the non-fray, and his flashlight also got busy all over my car through the window on the passenger side, including into Johns face in the passenger seat, and all over the back seat including, as I noticed during one of my rear view mirror glances, right into Mr. Sir’s non-buffalo-hide-clad crotch.

“How much have you had to drink tonight?”

“Nothing.”

“You sure? Because..I mean, you ran that red light back there.”

“It was YELLOW. I had nothing to drink. Check me.”

“Well, no, I don’t really smell alcohol.. it’s just that…”

“Check me.”

His flashlight continued roving the depths of my car, breaking up his sentences as he divided his attention between what he was saying and whatever insidious contraband for which he eagerly searched. It shined into my eyes, down to my feet, straight into John’s and Mr. Sir’s faces. New flashing red lights arrived, reflecting off the rear-view mirror, and then there were a few more cops comically/cautiously nearing, elbows bent and hands twitching near hip-mounted gun holsters — while yet more approached the car, and us perps, from a different direction, suggesting they were not from the arriving/flashing car behind me. Perhaps they were on foot and/or bike? Northampton, MA has a few bike cops, because it is a very dangerous town. In all I counted ten cops, which suggests some of them had to be on bike or foot, as there were only two police cars; ONLY. I amused myself by picturing them all tumbling out of a single cruiser clown-style, while we waited. And waited.

“Go ahead. Check me. I give you my full permission. I had one small, over-priced 3$ bottle of water.”

I had handed over my license and registration, and so I added, “Run my license. I have a clean record. Perfectly clean.”

Me and my homies. Werd.

Throughout all of this both Mr. Sir and John had been staring straight ahead, neither saying a word. They seemed oddly immobile, and even possibly nervous, which surprised me because one does not get arrested for running a yellow light. And that’s when it hit me — this, the two police cars, the ten policemen in total circling my car with flashlights, the lights GLARINGLY flashing, all of it — this is what happens to them, this is what they expect and are what they are used to, even for more minor “transgressions” than running yellow lights. This was a nearly inconsequential example of what it is like to be them, to be viewed with what seems an awful lot like an assumption of guilt, rather than an assumption of innocence, or an assumption of neither.

Were I, a white woman, alone, and had that light actually been red, I sorta doubt there would have been an extra police car and a few extra foot cops. I felt angry, embarrassed to be white, sad, and resigned. With the crowd waiting and watching from the sidewalk across the street — likely thinking this was some serious shit going down and someone was about to be cuffed and taken away, due to the sheer number of cops and cars — I felt shamed, demoralized, furious. I am grateful that I am not made to feel this way on a regular basis, but there are those for whom this is a way of life simply by virtue of their appearance and it begins at birth.

NOTE: Neither of my passengers wore gang colors, do-rags, or saggy pants; both were securely belted, seat belt and otherwise. Neither of them wore face paint or wielded bows and arrows. There were no battle calls, tomahawks, guns, knives, glassine packets, glassy eyes, or vicious dogs involved. No test tubes, scales, suitcases full of cash (else I might have had an adult-sized bottle of water at the bar, or even two), there was no cloud of smoke in the car, no odor, and no lawyers on board.

I forget what the blue-eyed cop with the fair and enviable baby-smooth skin said next, but before he walked back to his car to run my license I found myself blurting/explaining, “Look. My friend here had one beer at the Art Bank, and he works at ____. And this is our friend visiting from Santa Fe, who is a musician and artist. I think he had one beer as well.  We went to see a high school friend’s band and now we are tired and on our way home. That is all.”

The accessories make the scofflaw.

My young, fair, blond, blue-eyed cop joined the bulk of the group of now TEN cops — well, he joined five of them; four were in front, ostensibly keeping an eye on us, while the rest had gathered behind the car. I watched in the rear view mirror while they discussed “the matter”  for 20 minutes. Does it take that long to run a check? For 20 minutes we sat and waited, and I kept an eye on them in the rear view mirror as they discussed us while facing my car from the back. There seemed to be some brainstorming going on as they chatted back and forth, while looking at my car, at us, back at each other, some chin stroking going on, some harsh reproving glances, more chatting, and then FINALLY Blondie came back to my window.

“I’m going to give you a warning. This time. But [something something something] red lights [something something]“, to which I replied again, yet this time halfheartedly, “It was YELLOW“, and he nodded, handed me my license and registration, and walked away. No written warning, just a mere verbal warning.

I was a bored/exhausted nervous wreck as I pulled out back into traffic, and I had trouble seeing because of all the still-flashing lights, but then we were free, and we waved to the few dozen patrons of The Elevens still on the sidewalk as we drove off, at 5 mph.

All that for a verbal warning.

This is fucking hilarious!

Happy 100th Birthday Julia Child!

Posted in Thoughts on August 15, 2012 by Admin

It seems we hardly had time to fully absorb your full amazingness!

In honor of this day, I am re-printing excerpts from a bio of Julia from BIOGRAPHY.COM

Early Life 

[SOURCE]

Popular TV chef and author. Julia Child was born Julia McWilliams, on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, California. The eldest of three children, Julia was known by several pet names as a little girl, including “Juke”, “Juju” and “Jukies.” Her father John McWilliams, Jr., was a Princeton graduate and early investor in California real estate. His wife, Julia Carolyn Weston, was a paper-company heiress whose father served as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts.

IMAGE BELOW:

Julia Child in Heaven, 38″ x 42″, 2005,
When Julia Child died I saved the obit material on her because I like to do tribute banners to folks I admire.

SOURCE: Amy Johnquest. See article here

Julia Child, By Amy Johnquest, Holyoke, MA artist and the original Bannerqueen.

The family accumulated significant wealth and, as a result, Child lived a privileged childhood. She was educated at San Francisco’s elite Katherine Branson School for Girls, where—at a towering height of 6 feet, 2 inches—she was the tallest student in her class. She was a lively prankster who, as one friend recalled, could be “really, really wild.” She was also adventurous and athletic, with particular talent in golf, tennis and small-game hunting.

In 1930, she enrolled at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, with the intention of becoming a writer. “There were some famous women novelists in those days,” she said, “and I intended to be one.” Although she enjoyed writing short plays and regularly submitted unsolicited manuscripts to the New Yorker, none of her writing was published. Upon graduation she moved to New York, where she worked in the advertising department of the prestigious home furnishings company W&J Sloane. After transferring to the store’s Los Angeles branch, however, Child was fired for “gross insubordination.”

World War II

In 1941, at the onset of World War II, Julia moved to Washington, D.C., where she volunteered as a research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a newly formed government intelligence agency. In her position, Julia played a key role in the communication of top-secret documents between U.S. government officials and their intelligence officers. She and her colleagues were sent on assignments around the world, holding posts in Washington, D.C., Kumming, China; and Colombo, Sri Lanka. In 1945, while in Sri Lanka, Child began a relationship with fellow OSS employee Paul Child. In September of 1946, following the end of World War II, Julia and Paul returned to America and were married.

In 1948, when Paul was reassigned to the U.S. Information Service at the American Embassy in Paris, the Childs moved to France. While there, Julia developed a penchant for French cuisine and attended the world-famous Cordon Bleu cooking school. Following her six-month training—which included private lessons with master chef Max Bugnard—Julia banded with fellow Cordon Bleu students Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to form the cooking school L’Ecole de Trois Gourmandes (The School of the Three Gourmands).

‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’

With a goal of adapting sophisticated French cuisine for mainstream Americans, the trio collaborated on a two-volume cookbook. The women earned a $750 advance for the work, which they received in three payments. The original publisher rejected the manuscript, however, due to its 734-page length. Another publisher eventually accepted the 3-lb. cookbook, releasing it in September 1961 under the title Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book was considered groundbreaking, and remained the bestselling cookbook for five straight years after its publication. It has since become a standard guide for the culinary community.

Julia promoted her book on the Boston public television station near her Cambridge, Massachusetts, home. Displaying her trademark forthright manner and hearty humor, she prepared an omelet on air. The public’s response was enthusiastic, generating 27 letters and countless phone calls—”a remarkable response,” a station executive remembered, “given that station management occasionally wondered if 27 viewers were tuned in.” She was then invited back to tape her own series on cooking for the network, initially earning $50 a show (it was later raised to $200, plus expenses).

Television Success

Premiering on WGBH in 1962, The French Chef TV series, like Mastering the Art of French Cooking, succeeded in changing the way Americans related to food, while also establishing Julia as a local celebrity. Shortly thereafter, The French Chef was syndicated to 96 stations throughout America. For her efforts, Julia received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award in 1964 followed by an Emmy Award in 1966. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Julia made regular appearances on the ABC morning show Good Morning, America.

Child’s other endeavors included the television programs Julia Child and Company (1978), Julia Child and More Company (1980), and Dinner at Julia’s (1983), as well as a slew of bestselling cookbooks that covered every aspect of culinary knowledge. Her most recent cookbooks included In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs (1995), Baking with Julia (1996), Julia’s Delicious Little Dinners (1998), and Julia’s Casual Dinners (1999), which were all accompanied by highly rated television specials.

Not everyone was a fan, however. She was frequently criticized by letter-writing viewers for her failure to wash her hands, as well as what they believed was her poor kitchen demeanor. “You are quite a revolting chef, the way you snap bones and play with raw meats,” one letter read. “I can’t stand those over-sanitary people,” Child said in response. Others were concerned about the high levels of fat in French cooking. Julia’s advice was to eat in moderation. “I would rather eat one tablespoon of chocolate russe cake than three bowls of Jell-O,” she said.

Death and Legacy

Despite her critics, Julia remained a go-to reference for cooking advice. In 1993, she was rewarded for her work when she became the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame. In November 2000, following a 40-year career that has made her name synonymous with fine food and a permanent among the world’s most famous chefs, Julia received France’s highest honor: the Legion d’Honneur. And in August 2002, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History unveiled an exhibit featuring the kitchen, where she filmed three of her popular cooking shows.

Child died in August 2004 of kidney failure at her assisted-living home in Montecito, two days before her 92nd birthday. Child had no intentions of slowing down, even in her final days. “In this line of work…you keep right on till you’re through,” she said. “Retired people are boring.”After her death Child’s last book, the autobiography My Life in France, was published with the help of Child’s great nephew, Alex Prud’homme. The book, which centered on how Child discovered her true calling, became a best seller…

READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE.

And, my other Bannerqueen favorite, which I will own one day, the BRILLIANT (and I include the creative spelling [see banner] in that assessment) Jesus!

Coming soon… Blind Item Consumer Report Series

Posted in Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2012 by Admin

I am putting together a series of posts regarding recent experiences ranging from delightful to dismaying in a Consumer Report-y kind of way, yet with no claims of actual connoisseur status, of course.

How I now picture the guy at Diesel Car Repair (not it's real name) in Greenfield, MA

How I now picture the guy at Diesel Car Repair (not it’s real name) in Greenfield, MA

These are my personal experiences, some almost funny in retrospect, yet only in the cases where I dodged bullets; i.e., in the case of Diesel Car Repair in Greenfield, MA, in which I was told the fuel injection thingie was cracked and needed to be replaced for $2800; $1800 parts, $1000 labor (It turned out to be a loose bolt merely requiring a quick twist), to an ongoing and un-won battle  — in which I took the bullets — to be reimbursed for buying the WORST computer I have ever come across in my entire life (and I have had many many computers) from a Computer Care place in a suburb of Springfield, in which the “care” person sold me a Lemonovo, my name for the Lenovo I am stuck with (Me: I need a laptop that is ready-to-go and which will not be complicated to use. I need lots of RAM and it must be returnable. HIM, after the agreement, the promises, the sale and the resulting dismay: “I can’t take it back. You can only return it if you bought it from a big box store”) and which Lenovo won’t fix either, and which has scant few redeeming values beyond being a way-to-sometimes-check-email and expensive-paperweight.

I am also going to include a few awesome and a few disappointing recent  dining experiences in Northampton, MA. The names of the restaurants will maybe or maybe not be revealed. In the cases in which I do not name names, I will respond to private inquiries via email.

Times are tough and so sacrificing value and honesty may seem like a way to pay one’s own bills, but the more one suffers from being taken for a fiscal ride, the more one feels compelled to spare others from a similar fate.

Car repair is a slippery slope in that it is a notorious field for horror stories and thus all the more reason that, as a private sole-proprietor business owner, one should perhaps at least make things right when provided with evidence of having given an estimate (In writing no less!) about $2790  too much. Because really, how much is appropriate to charge for tightening a loose bolt? Oh, and the FREE estimate? Well, I am out $100 for that privilege.

And really, after presenting yourself as a computer expert (and charging just $12 below 100$ per hour) and licensed retailer of computers, and topping it off with complaints to a PAYING client — while ON THE CLOCK — about money issues and how your wife holds the purse springs in the household (and sundry other unnecessaries, some in the TMI category), doesn’t it seem a bit untoward to refuse to even TRY to fix a brand new laptop you just sold and which is all-but-non-functioning? If I gave a client a website in which all the links didn’t work, I would make it right, no charge. Oy! This is why I am so thin.

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