Friday, September 30, 2005

Chelsea on Friday afternoon

My friend Joele and I walked around Chelsea this afternoon, carrying a large bunch of purple hydrangeas and looking at art. We saw some good work, including Joel Sternfeld's photos of American Utopian communities at Luhring Augustine, photos from the 50's by Diane Arbus and “Helter Skelter”, a stylish group show at Capsule.

Last weekend I trudged through Chelsea alone, which feels a bit more like work. But I did see quite a few good shows- Robert Boyd, Martha Rosler and Carolee Schneeman at LMAK Projects, Bill Rice at Mitchell Algus, Danny Rozin at Bitforms and Jane Dickson at Marlborough.

Why does New York City look better in Black and White?

I have always wondered why New York looks better in black and white- maybe it's because color photos miss out on some of that 40's and 50's nostalgia I associate with my early noirish impressions of a glamorous and decadent Manhattan.

Kitty Cooling Techniques

Today is one of the first days that really feels like fall in New York City--crisp, cool air with everyone wearing sweaters. But until this week we've had a last gasp of hot, humid weather that was really making the kitties unhappy. To deal with the heat, they, as cats will do, took to lying on their backs with their feet stuck straight in the air.
I find it charming when they do this, although in the pictures it looks a little disturbing, like maybe they are no longer of this earth. But Elvis and Audrey are alive and well and very happy that fall is finally here. And I'm happy that the Elvis, and occasionally Audrey, will now return to curling up on the bed.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Constance Baker Motley

Constance Baker Motley, an amazing Civil Rights attorney and Federal judge passed away yesterday. Judge Baker Motley was the first African American woman apointed to the Federal bench. She also was instrumental in the Brown v Board of Education case and Martin Luther King Jr.'s attorney for a bit. She won nine of the ten cases she argued before the Supreme Court.

I heard a quote from her, on none other then NPR this morning, that said she thougth it would have taken us longer to move away from the Civil Rights era, but today no one even mentions the word Civil Rights and that made her sad. All I could think was that I couldn't agree more, how have we not only stalled in our fight but slipped so far backward?

Anyway she was a great woman, a great lawyer, and an amazing Civil Rights advocate, and I am willing to bet a much better judge then our newest Supreme Court Cheif Justice.

Veronica Mars is Smarter Than Me

Veronica Mars made its long-awaited 2nd season debut on Wednesday. Well, long awaited by the approximately 2 million people who watched it last year. (Hey, I did my part, screening an episode for my Women’s Studies Class, under the thinly veiled excuse that it would lead to a discussion about feminist role models in the 21st Century.) So only 2 million regular viewers, but almost all of them television fanatics. The people I know who watched last year were mostly my friends who watch a lot of television and spend a lot of time thinking about television. The type of people who make almost daily visits to Television Without Pity and sign petitions when a beloved show might be cancelled. (I’m not judging. I may have signed as many Save Veronica petitions as Stop Bush ones last spring.) I’m willing to guess, in addition, that a large percentage of Veronica fans were also Buffy loyalists. The show certainly plays to this fan base, first bringing on Willow (Alyson Hannigan) last year and then introducing Cornelia (Charisma Carpenter) last night.

Why is this show so good? Because like Buffy at its best, it features lightening-fast dialogue, clever pop culture references, moments that are hysterically funny followed by ones that are heartbreakingly sad, and, best of all, characters that are complex, flawed, and multi-dimensional. Last year, the show made you love characters you once hated; at the same time, Veronica herself, while totally cool, has a manipulative streak that her best friend is willing to point out, even as he helps her. Plus Veronica has a handy pit bull named Backup. (So her father can say “Bring Backup” when she is going into a dangerous situation.)

For a summary of last night’s action, visit:

Unreasonable Women

I can basically sum up all of the first year of law school with the term reasonable. If you are ever in doubt in class simply work the work reasonable into your answer and you probably will get at least a portion of the answer correct. Whether we are talking about intentional infliction of emotional distress, contract offers, or gifts the theory of the reasonable man will always come up. I was even beginning to think that maybe being that reasonable person was a good thing. Then I got a little bit of reality and remembered that I am going to law school to be so unreasonable that I turn the world upside down.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
-George Bernard Shaw

Which brings me to my driveway moment of the day. I rarely get to here The Diane Rehm show but I was lucky enough to hear a little today. Her guest was Diane Wilson who wrote the book An Unreasonable Woman A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas. In short she is a shrimper from the Gulf Coast of Texas who became an enviromentalist and took on some of the largest petro chemical plants in the world. Her story was interesting and she is quite a character. She was suppose to be on the show last week but Rita prevented her from getting to the studio. Here is a link to her book and a link to the show

On a side note Seadrift was recently made famous by the true love of my life, Jim Cantori, Hurricane weatherman extrodinare.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Block Island

I spent the weekend on Block Island, a beautiful, quiet 7-mile stretch of land off the coast of Rhode Island. It had its heyday as a vacation spot in the years after the Civil War and the “old harbor” is still dotted with lovely old Victorian hotels, some topped by widow’s walks. After the decline of the steamship and rise of the car, the island waned in popularity. Since the 1980s, however, it has been rediscovered, for better or worse. Development--including some truly ugly condominiums--is creeping in, but luckily at least 40 percent of the island has been preserved. The hot topic among locals is a proposal for Champlin's Marina in the "new harbor" to expand its docks, which I, for one, hope fails. (As I’m only there one weekend a year, I guess this is a little presumptuous. But so be it.) Christopher Walken, who owns a house there, also is rooting against the development and actually testified at the final hearing.

Block Island has so many incredible spots, it is hard to pick a favorite. But I do really love the Vail Beach, which sits at the bottom of the Mohegan Bluffs. The house I stay at overlooks the bluffs, and I wake up to a view of the ocean and the sound of crashing surf. The waves are rough there, so you need to be careful taking a dip. But on the beach I find it easy to imagine the past century has slipped away and I’m a guest at the Vail Hotel, swimming in an old-fashioned bathing costume.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hot Swabbable Man

As Molly and I learned at the ACL Festival this weekend, people can get pretty dirty in 107 degree heat and dust clouds so thick they look like fog. It was a great festival anyway and even though Mike Doughty might have been singing about Hot Swappable Men, all Molly heard was Hot Swabbable and as she put it, 'I don't think I want one of those, because that would be gross.'

One of the highlights of the event, however, was brought to us by The Kaiser Chiefs, who were real troopers, performing at the hottest part of the day and refusing to limit their stage antics just because of a little heat. Of course, Molly and I were afraid the lead singer was going to pass out in front of us from the heat, but he hung in there, even if they did have to cut it short by 15 minutes. Hey they weren't the only ones. Rilo Kiley also called it a day 10 minutes early. We love them both though and now I have to go buy their album, Employment.

Here's to Sunday's best Hot Swabbable Man.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Rita and Katrina

It is very frightening waiting for Rita to hit. I am worried about all my family in Texas, even though I hear from them that they are all in areas that are well away from the direct path of the hurricane.

I have just stopped ranting hourly on Katrina and its "aftermath". As angry as the bungled response made me, my main reaction was sadness, for the depth of loss for so many. It is painful to watch the anticipation of another possible blast, with all the chaos it entails.

My not so secret addiction.

I have spent many, many hours playing a video game called Katamari Damacy. The point of the game is to roll up as many objects as possible lying around earth into a big clump during a "time trial". Your clump is then judged by an abusive father figure- if it is big enough, it is sent into the heavens as a star or other heavenly body. If it's too small, you get plenty of verbal abuse from above (Dad is very big).

I have become an evangelist for this game, trying to get all my friends and family to play. I am not always pleasant when I am in this mode.

Version 2 of this game, called We Love Katamari, has just been released. I have been trying to buy it for a few days, getting somewhat puzzled looks from the gamers working at the local store (I guess I'm not a typical customer). Why don't they have it yet? I hope to get it by tonight!

Link to the Japanese Trailer for Katamari Damacy

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Irish Heritage

Anders, in the grand Culkin tradition, has visited his first Irish bar. He was accompanied by his mother, Sarah, and his grandfather, Frank. Thirty-six years ago, Frank took me as an infant to McSorleys, a famous New York Irish pub which at the time didn't allow women. Perhaps that was the start of my interest in women's history.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Happy Birthday, Strange but Touching Guys.

Today is the birthday of Leonard Cohen, Bill Murray, Ethan Cohen, and Lyle Lovett. Not a looker in the bunch, although I find each of them oddly attractive. All four men, in their different ways and through their different art forms, portray life's pathos, absurdity and humor, and the thin line separating those seemingly disparate states. That Virgo/Libra cusp must have something going for it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Daily Driveway moments

I have begun to listen to NPR all the time now, especially when I drive to and from school. I have always loved NPR but being away from Washington somehow makes me crave news like a crazy person. I often have what many people refer to as driveway moments when I don't want to get out my car because of a story. This is really saying something because it is still in the upper 90s and often in the low 100s and the air conditioning in my car died for the second time this year after my cross country drive. To say the least a story better be really good to make me want to sit in my car for even one second longer. I thought it might be cool to post those silly little tidbits of driveway moments and see if anyone else had the same ones. I can't gurantee that they will always be from NPR, a few from the WB or MTV might make it in, hey I can't be pretentious all the time.

Here is my first
There is a National Guard soilder serving in Iraq from New Orleans who used to study and play with Ellis Marsalis (Wynton's Dad) in a trio. I think that I have probably seen him preform. Anyway he began making music on his laptop when he got to Iraq. The music is very electronic and mixes several different types of recordings, from static to conversations of soilders. He is supposed to return home next week, but to what city is the question. His story was so interesting and he spoke about Iraq in an interesting and almost disconnected way, while still being heart breaking.

The story can be heard at. and his music can be heard at

I Have To Get Out Of Here

And sooner, rather than later. I came to the full force of this realization this morning as I was arriving at work. I was greeted by a W bumper sticker, only one of many in the parking lot and immediately felt myself become somewhat crabby, an unfortunate state of being that is becoming rather habitual for me. For those of you who know me, most everyone that reads this site, you might be thinking to yourself, And? Okay, so I would not win any prizes for being a Judy-friendly, and neither would I want them, but trust me, this is a new crabby, one brought on by the current political scene and spending this last year among ignorant and ill-informed people. It used to sadden me. Now it just makes me cranky.

All of this was already stirring in my mind when I was assaulted by yet another sign, this one on the school wall as you enter the building calling everyone to a morning of prayer at the flagpole tomorrow morning. Not just a handmade poster either, an official poster with only the date filled in by hand. And mind you, I work at a PUBLIC SCHOOL. Now again, nothing against prayer. Nothing against those who pray. I pray. I go to church, not always, but enough. And yet, I work in a PUBLIC SCHOOL where all sporting events are started by a prayer. Faculty breakfasts begin with prayers and last year the principal of the high school declared it a Purpose Driven School. It is just too much. I have to get out of here before I begin to hate these people. Currently they just make me cranky. They don't deserve my hate. 4 months and counting. At least I will have several days in New York in October to take the edge off.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Things to throw into conversation

I find that conversations are often boring, at least after about 10 mins. Here are some phrases you can use to spice up your conversations. I sadly can't take credit for any of them, but I do use them often. It is especially helpful when to say them and don't skip a beat afterward.

-If you didn't have that baby I'd hit you so hard right now! (My lovable cousin Adam)
-Why you gotta be like that way (All kids in Port Isabel)
-George Bush doesn't care about Black people (Kanye)
-I'm just making groceries (New Orleans phrase, actually means that you are cooking. I use it when people constantly ask me what I am doing)
-See I'm a good fisher (Frankie, a PI student)

I will continue to add to the list, as they come to me. Let me know if you have sucess with any of them. The third one is of course particularly topical at the moment, it really seems to drive my conservative classmates crazy.

Robert Smithson's Floating Island

This is a photo of "Floating Island to Travel Around Manhattan Island" by Robert Smithson, you can see it travelling around Manhattan pulled by a tugboat until September 25th, from 8 AM to 8 PM.

"Floating Island" is beautiful, somewhat awkward, strangely poetic and very funny, like much of Smithson's work. He died in 1973 at 35, and has continued to have an enormous influence on generations of artists who followed him.

There was an opening for this piece early last Saturday evening. Hundreds of art lovers raced from one side of a pier in the Hudson River to the other to get a better view, as the tugboat captain manuevered the piece around to show it off, in some kind or art world/acquatic runway walk. It was fun.

George Bush Doesn't care about Black People

Here is a link to a dj's interpretation of Kanye West's comments about W. on


Who served. And who didn't.

A co-worker sent me this list of the military records of prominent Democrats and Republicans. I don't claim responsibility for the accuracy of the list, but I did a little spot-checking and it seems pretty well-researched.

* Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
* David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
* Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
* Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
* Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
* Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
* John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, Purple Hearts.
* Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
* Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam. Paraplegic from war injuries. Served in Congress.
* Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53.
* Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
* Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
* Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
* Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
* Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
* Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
* Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
* Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
* Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
* Chuck Robb: Vietnam
* Howell Heflin: Silver Star
* George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
* Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received #311.
* Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
* Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
* John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and AirMedal with 18 Clusters.
* Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.

* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
* Tom Delay: did not serve.
* Roy Blunt: did not serve.
* Bill Frist: did not serve.
* Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
* Rick Santorum: did not serve.
* Trent Lott: did not serve.
* John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
* Jeb Bush: did not serve.
* Karl Rove: did not serve.
* Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.
* Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
* Vin Weber: did not serve.* Richard Perle: did not serve.
* Douglas Feith: did not serve.
* Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
* Richard Shelby: did not serve.
* Jon Kyl: did not serve.
* Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
* Christopher Cox: did not serve.
* Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
* George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty.
* Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non- combat role making movies.
* Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over in Korea.
* Phil Gramm: did not serve.
* John McCain: Vietnam POW, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
* Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
* John M. McHugh: did not serve.
*JC Watts: did not serve.
* Jack Kemp: did not serve. "Knee problem, " although continued in NFL for 8 years as quarterback.
* Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
* Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
* George Pataki: did not serve.
* Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
* John Engler: did not serve.
* Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
* Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Buy the Poncho Martha Made Famous?

I love Martha Stewart. I really do. And I think a lot of the criticism and venom directed towards her relates to the fact even in 2005 a lot of people can't deal with a strong, successful woman. I just received an e-mail from Martha Stewart Living, however, that makes me think she may have gone off the deep end. The subject line is, "Buy the Poncho Martha Made Famous." The copy explains, "Now you can own this unique, handmade poncho, inspired by the thoughful gift that made news headlines." In case you don't follow Martha's career as closely as I do, this is a reference to the poncho that she wore when she was released from prison, made and given to her by a fellow inmate. The poncho retails for $49.99 and the company is promising to donate the profits to "women and families in need," including victims of Katrina, which, I guess, makes it a little less tacky. I hope one of the people who receives some of that money is the incarcarated woman who made Martha the "thoughful gift." In case you think I'm kidding, or if you want a poncho, visit

Kids are cute. With kitties they are cuter.

I really do enjoy getting pictures of people's children. I admit, however, that I enjoy these pictures even more when they include cats as well as kids. My sister recently sent the above pictures, along with the following update about how her two cats--Farley and Amelia--are faring in light of the arrival of Anders.

Many of you have asked how the cats are adjusting to Anders. They seem to be adjusting and Farley has stopped hissing at the baby. They both still take every opportunity to be with us when we don't have the baby. Amelia slept under the covers for over an hour while I napped last weekend. See the attached picture of Andy labeled "Dadcat" for last night's example. Also included are a few pictures of the baby and the cats for size comparison.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Aiden and Anders

Here is a picture of the meeting of the two newest Culkins, Aiden and Anders. Aiden seems pretty taken with his younger cousin. They were born five months apart and right now the difference seems enormous. It's amazing that in a few years they will seem like they are exactly the same age.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Happy Birthday Margaret

Today is the birthday of Margaret Sanger the birth control advocate and founder of the Birth Control Federation of America, which later became Planned Parenthood. She must be rolling over in her grave knowing the Roberts confirmation hearings are going on today, of all days.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Covenant with Death

The confirmation hearings for John Roberts begin today and we are sure to hear a great deal about Roberts being a strict Constitutionalist (as opposed to an "activist judge.") I certainly make no claims to being a legal or a Constitutional scholar. It seems to me, however, that any argument for being a strict Constitutionalist falls apart when you get to Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3, which reads: "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons." Those "other Persons" who counted as three-fifths of a person were, of course, slaves.

Now there are a lot of things I like about our Constitution. Free Speech-good. Separation of Church and State--excellent idea. But I think it is worth remembering that many abolitionists, who we now point to as heros, condemned the document for its endorsement of slavery. Lydia Maria Child wrote, "The original compact is wrong; and the attempt to obey the laws of man, when they are in open conflict with the laws of God, must inevitably demoralize a nation, and ultimately undermine all true prosperity, even in a material point of view." William Lloyd Garrison was less politic, damning the Constitution as "a covenant with death and an agreement with hell." He even burned a copy in protest on July 4, 1854 and said the only solution was the "dissolution of the Union." Imagine what our current leaders would say about that on CNN.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


I constantly have to remind myself of many things, but the last week has been especially hard, not simply because I have been distracted and feel as though the world is both out of focus and in sharper relief than it has been in sometime, but because many new things have been added to my list of things to remember.

I must remember not to lose my temper and start screaming hysterically at people when they make ignorant and classist statements regarding the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

I must also remember, once I have managed to refrain from yelling, not to walk away in disgust, but to attempt to explain to them why they are wrong, and barring that, why they are stupid.

The Minute Men group, that vigilante group determined to arm themselves to protect this nation from hard working immigrants through terrorism and violence, have announced that they will be stepping up their work in Texas in order to fill gaps left by the border patrol agents who have been sent to help in the disaster relief. They themselves don't feel the need to help in the relief, because they feel it is more important to prevent Mexican citizens from crossing the border in search of jobs. The Mexican government, on the other hand, has sent in trained groups of citizens and infantry to help the Gulf Coast. One can only ask who it is that these Minute Men feel they should be protecting for it certainly isn't this country's large immigrant population, and apparently it isn't the victims of Hurricane Katrina. No, they want to protect this nation and its citizens, well, at least part of this nation and a few of its citizens. It makes me feel so angry but mostly saddened that we have continued to tolerate this group. Why haven't the clauses of The Patriot Act against terrorist groups applied to them?

I think of the children I work with, however, and I remember that these bright young people who are so eager to try anything we put before them from knitting to cooking to art to science, are our future. The Minute Men might want them out of this country, but without them we do not have a future. And so I remember to calm myself and face the school hallways with a smile on my face while I watch children who come from nothing and have nothing go out and put all the money they have saved from odd jobs and small presents into containers destined to be delivered to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. These will be my new memories, my new method of remembering.

Memories are funny things. Like Kate, I also remember our family weekend during Molly's graduation from Tulane with special fondness. But my memories of New Orleans are broader than that, suffused with a warmth born of my time there with Molly and my memories of it as the city that shaped my sister into the wonderful, caring, and committed person she is today. I also remember my first visit to New Orleans, when as a high school senior I stayed in New Orleans with family friends because I was thinking of attending Tulane the next year. In the end, I went to New York instead, needing a harder, brighter, colder city. New Orleans had seduced me in a weekend and I knew if I went to college there, I would never be able to leave. New York, I trusted, would shape me, but either it or I would be able to let go. New York remains with you, but in a different way than New Orleans. New York becomes a part of you, but New Orleans becomes the very air you breath. Of the many interviews I have listened to, I remember one with a couple who was considering not returning to New Orleans. It was unclear if the woman was from New Orleans, but the man was from the Irish Channel and his family went back generations in New Orleans. He said he knew if he did not move back he would always be a fish out of water, without the right air to breathe.

And for that, I weep for New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast, for the people who have lost everything, but I also weep for the people who cannot appreciate what we have lost, and what we have wrought with our indifference, not only in preparing for this disaster, but to the kind of poverty that exists in this country without any real scrutiny.

But I also remind myself, that there is hope. That we can build something out of this disaster if we are willing to not only assist those in need, but to insist that we, as a nation, hold our leaders and those who have so failed in their jobs accountable. And beyond that, to insist, as Molly said, that we establish an higher level of accountability and humanitarian standards.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Canine Bliss

I had drafted something about what a relief it was that was Labor Day had come and gone, marking the end of this long, feverish, and ultimately devastating slog of a summer, in which I listed all the reasons this has been a horrible seaon. But Molly's post inspired me to put something more positive out there, so I'm going to write about a scene of out-and-out joy I witnessed this weekend. Out in the Hamptons, dogs aren't allowed on 2 Mile Hollow Beach after 9 AM. But before that hour, it is canine heaven. Dogs of all shapes and sizes race around in packs, chasing balls and sticks, jumping and twisting into the air, even plunging into the surf and riding the waves. Every other minute or so, another one comes racing down the beach from the entrance in the dunes, the physical embodiment of bliss. It is impossible to feel grumpy or cynical watching those beautiful animals, and watching them this Sunday reminded me that there was much to look forward to. Someone recently told me that pets shouldn't have people names, because they are not people. True, they are not people--but sometimes they are just so much better.

I didn't really try to hang out with any of the dogs on the beach, as the owners seemed pretty protective. But I did get to spend some time with Penny, who is one of my favorite dogs ever. I'll tell you more about her later. (Photo of Penny and me by Neilson Abeel.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I Still Got New Orleans In Me

It was a rough weekend for me as the stories coming out of New Orleans got worse and more overwhelming. What was also hard to take was the reaction of people to the tragedy. I will say that the majority of people have openend their hearts and lives to so many, but there sadly will also be those people that miss the point so much that you simply have to wonder where on earth they came from. It is those people that concern me the most, because I am at a loss of how to deal with them.

How do you resond to a former first lady that implies that living in the Astrodome is a good thing, because well these people were poor to begin with. Or when a TV personality tells the mayor of New Orleans that the country was just shocked by the level of poverty in New Orleans, as if it was hidden or even rare for this country. (Surprise Katie there are poor people in NYC city too and even a few in Idaho) Or perhaps my favorite, the law student that literally says that "life is about trial and error and this is just another example." I want to scream at them all and say that people deserve better, not just Americans but people. I want to tell them that this was an example of death being about trial and error not life. Someone needs to tell them that this is an unacceptable standard of which to hold ourselves, are we to say "Oh well, I guess we can just put that little mistake of leaving thousands to die into the error pile."

It is unacceptable in America, in Irag and in the world to hold ourselves to the pathetic standard of, we certainly tried but I guess life is just a bunch of trial and errors.

I did have a smile or two today as I heard stories from children who always prove to be much more amazing then adults. An NPR reporter described the scene of children playing cards and jumping rope in the Astrodome and I thought of all the kids I knew in New Orleans that taught me how to play "real cards" and allowed me to turn the jump rope because I was certainly not good enough to actually jump with them. A 12 year old boy told the reporter that he was a part of Houston Texas now, she asked him about New Orleans and you could just hear the smile in his voice as he said "I Still Got New Orleans In Me." That is what New Orleans is, not just a city but a thing that gets in you. I am happy to say agree that "I still Got New Orleans In Me."

Like Mother, Like Son

After visiting the evacuees on Monday in the Astrodome in Houston, Barbara Bush (Sr.) stated, "What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway. This is working very well for them."

I saw this reported on CNN this morning, with no real comment about just how outrageous a comment it is. I guess I should be happy the station is at least reporting it.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Mayor Nagin's interview

You can hear Mayor Nagin's interview at the NY Times cite. It is a good interview on several levels. Let me know what you think. You can hear it by clicking on The Mayor on the left hand side.

At a loss

I apologize for not posting that much. To say the least I have been slightly overwhelmed with classes, unpacking, and wathching a city I love fall to pieces and worrying not only about my friends but about an entire city that really shaped so much of who I am.

All of my friends are safe, the same sadly cannot be said for their pets who were left and most likely their houses. Yojna who works for the Army Corp of Engineers may be able to go back soon to assist in whatever way she can. Her boyfriend, Fredo, works at a hospital there and he is going back on Sat. I will hopefully be able to get updates from him on the situation. I know that Yojna wants to get back quickly but is very concerned about Fredo returning since they have been warned that they cannot go anywhere alone and should have a police officer with them if at all possible. The city has truly fallen into chaos on so many levels.

This is a situation that everyone talked about but no one thought would ever really occur. I don't think the time to point fingers is here yet but I will just say that many factors on the city , state, and federal level contributed to the severity of the situation. When everyone is safe, many questions will have to be answered including, why funding for flood relief efforts have been drastically cut for the past years, why the federal response continues to be slow even when you have people dying in the streets, and can we afford to have the majority of our National Guard fighing in Iraq ( I think the answer clearly is no).

On a personal note, I feel like my heart is breaking for New Orleans. New Orleans is a city of extremes and has been so since its founding. It has overwhelming religious influence from multiple countries beside extreme debauchery. Music that ranges from zydeco, jazz, brass bands, mardi gras Indians, and even some opera. The people are so diverse, at one time there were more Irish immigrants in New Orleans then in NYC or Boston not to mention German, Italian, French, and African influcences are still strong. It is the reason that a New Orleans accent sort of sounds like a really slow Brooklyn accent, not southern.

It is a city unlike any place in America and has a population that has always maintained its culture in such a beautiful way despite the extreme poverty that comsumes the majority of the people. Poverty in New Orleans is overwhelming and crippling like all poverty, but it is unique in that is illustrates so clearly the level of class that we have in America.

Roughly 25,000 evacuees will be in San Antonio soon, I plan on taking any extra time I have to help out in any way I can.

Sorry for this being all over the place, I will post again when I have my thoughts in order more.


An editorial in The New York Times today starts out, “The situation in New Orleans, which had seemed as bad as it could get, became considerably worse yesterday with reports of what seemed like a total breakdown of organized society.” On CNN this morning, the anchor and reporters kept saying things like “I can’t believe this is happening in America.” And its true. I know I, and a lot of my friends, believe we have some critical distance on being Americans--we don’t think of the country or its leaders as infallible, we don’t consciously think being born here gives us some natural superiority or protection. But in the wake of Katrina, I, at least, realize that on some level I do feel shielded from chaos and disaster--from a “breakdown of organized society”--by the fact that I was born into the middle-class in 20th-century America. I had the same realization on September 11. It can’t happen here, but it does.

I would feel presumptuous commenting too much more about the situation, the enormity of which makes it difficult to comprehend. So let me just briefly say I was only in New Orleans once, for Molly’s graduation from Tulane. It was really a wonderful weekend. It was a dual celebration--not only for Molly’s accomplishments but also for our grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary. My father and I walked with Florence and Hosmer (the anniversary couple) through the French Quarter, we gathered for drinks in the Ritz Carlton garden, which was filled with some of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen, we feasted on beignets and muffulettas, and we watched Molly walk across the stage of the Superdome to receive her diploma. A few months after that trip my grandmother got very sick and she died the next April, so the memories of the weekend have always been especially poignant. Now they are even more so. I’m glad I had that chance to see the city as it was.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Anders Finn

My nephew Anders Finn Mengshol will turn two weeks old tomorrow. He not only shares his birthday with Bill Clinton, as I mentioned below, but also Coco Channel. So he should be quite a charismatic, stylish little fellow. Below is a message my sister Sarah recently sent to the rapidly growing Anders Fan Club.


Thanks to all for your good wishes. We are doing really well, if a little tired. Anders is a wonderful baby so far; he is perfectly healthy and is starting to gain his weight back. I really can't believe how amazing this all is. Part of me wants him to stay little forever and part is excited to see him grow and learn. For now I am content to hold him all the time. Andy has been home which has been great. He goes back to work Thurs and I will definitely miss the family time together. Luckily he now gets some weekends off and we will make the best of his time out of the hospital.

We have had a lot of questions about his name. Anders is the Norwegian Andrew; we had actually picked that name out a long time ago and kept coming back to it. Since we had a Norwegian name for Andy's heritage, we wanted an Irish name for mine. We both just liked Finn.

Hope all is going well. More later.