Friday, December 31, 2010

Phone Call, New Years Eve, and The Sister

3:30 am - phone rings.
Is Audrey there?
No, there is no one here by that name.
Well, where is she?
I have no idea.
Why did you answer the phone?
Because this is my phone number and I usually answer my phone when it rings.
Why isn't Audrey there?
Look pal, I don't know where 'there' is, because phone numbers are portable and move from address to address, and I've had this number since last May, so you haven't tried to reach your friend in a very long time.
You mean you don't know Audrey?
That's right, and if I did, right now she'd wish I didn't. Good night.

Thankfully, he didn't call back. This guy couldn't hit water if he fell off a ship.  You can't make this stuff up.

Sun and temps warmed things up but there is still 8" of snow on the ground in town. That said, we served over 300 meals at lunch today, while the boss fine-tuned his reservation time-line for tonight, which I found more and more fascinating. Of course, he was a piece of work all day as he jumped from chore to chore not allowing us to do what we do so he could get his work done.  Can you say 'micro-manager' class? I know you can.

The front-loader drunks began to arrive as I finished my shift, so I had a Margarita and quickly headed for home (I still love to type that word) while there was little danger of getting run over.

I have tried to reach the sister in NOLA every day since Christmas, but she was never home. Today I finally reached her - because she was cooking a traditional Southern New Years Day dinner for herself and 3 other women who will be alone tomorrow. Cajuns! 
Her news:
She needs a knee replacement, having fallen a month ago.
She was warned not to bend the knee and has a brace, but does she wear it?  No!
She is now a Communion Server at Mass and gets to drink the leftover wine.  She isn't a drinker. I'd love a picture.
She was never a football fan, but the Saints have stolen her heart. (Well, Drew Brees already has mine.)
She plans to smuggle a thermos of iced coffee laced with Bailey's Irish Cream into the Common Room tonight to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  I'd love that picture, too.

Bottom line; there is no set date for surgery.  NOLA remains without a full service hospital 5 years after the floods. She will know more about where, when, and how, sometime in February. It boggles the mind to think that those people have no real hospital, only emergency triage where the worst get what is available. Everyone else is pretty much on their own. Welcome to America: A New Third World Country.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be another busy one at work, with about 12 reservations already taken today before I left.  The forecast is calling for mostly sunny skies and a high around 55' F.  If that holds true the Boardwalk will be mobbed and we will be happy campers, indeed.

No bubbles tonight.  Just a few olives, a light supper, and maybe a film.

Happy New Year everyone!

And so it goes.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Update: Extricated Car, New Coat, Gloves, & Year

After exhausting all local options at finding a good winter coat there arrived an email message from Land's End in my in-box this afternoon, an invitation to their "winter's end" event.  Yes, I know, winter has just begun, but hey, that's retail. So I clicked on over to their site and found just what I've been looking for - and it was half price, to boot.

I know their reputation for the quality of their Squall line of outerwear, having purchased one for the man in my previous life. It was light, durable, and effective to temperatures of -10' F.  He wore that coat for over 10 years. The customer reviews are good, so I ordered one along with a pair of thermal, lined gloves. I dislike heavy, bulky overcoats made of materials that get even heavier when wet or snowed upon. This one should fill my needs very well.  And it's machine washable. What's not to like?   It ought to arrive by the middle of next week, and if our current weather is any indication of what's in store, that arrival will be none too soon.

My car was extricated from its snowy prison last evening,  thanks for the most part to friend/co-worker Bahram, who did most of the shoveling in just the right places so that I could drive out from under. It was done in less than a hour. I could never have done it alone. By the time we got to it, the snow was very heavy and my back would given out sending me back to the hospital had I attempted to remove the snow pack. Free at last, thank God almighty, or something along those lines. When the car was parked in a cleared spot Bahram gave me a hug and said, "now, if you need anything in an emergency, you can get it, and I won't be worried after you." Sweet man.

Another busy lunch at the restaurant today with everyone in great holiday spirits, which always makes my day so much easier. The margaritas helped, I'm sure, but there was an air of festivity as old timers arrived and connected with other old timers here for the holiday weekend. This is such a LARGE small town. If you get my drift.

I held down the front end while the bosses managed preparations for tomorrow in the back of the house. With many reservations (and so many regulars returning) they began to plot and chart times, booths, tables, parties, (early with kids, and those arriving later and staying for the duration) and computerizing everything down to the tiniest detail.  I watched in amazement.  This is how to run a restaurant on a holiday evening. I wish I could explain it a bit better, but this will be my first New Year's Eve at the restaurant and I am totally lost. Still, they know their customers and how they will act, react, and respond to their surroundings tomorrow night. I just took care of business up front so they were free to do their planning thing.

The snow continues to melt, albeit very slowly.  I doubt it will be gone by tomorrow evening, but at least there is no new snow in the immediate forecast. My shift ends at 5 pm tomorrow and I plan to walk home, enjoy a few olives, maybe watch a DVD or VHS (remember them?) and go to bed early. Being alone on New Year's Eve has advantages, especially if you not with someone you love.

And so it goes.

Kodachrome: The End of The Road

I have to view and sort through the many carousel trays full of slides lining the living room wall, shot mostly on Kodachrome film. A sad day, but those images will still be with us long after the digital ones are erased or somehow destroyed in other ways. The New York Times:
PARSONS, Kan. — An unlikely pilgrimage is under way to Dwayne’s Photo, a small family business that has through luck and persistence become the last processor in the world of Kodachrome, the first successful color film and still the most beloved.
That celebrated 75-year run from mainstream to niche photography is scheduled to come to an end on Thursday when the last processing machine is shut down here to be sold for scrap.
In the last weeks, dozens of visitors and thousands of overnight packages have raced here, transforming this small prairie-bound city not far from the Oklahoma border for a brief time into a center of nostalgia for the days when photographs appeared not in the sterile frame of a computer screen or in a pack of flimsy prints from the local drugstore but in the warm glow of a projector pulling an image from a carousel of vivid slides.
In the span of minutes this week, two such visitors arrived. The first was a railroad worker who had driven from Arkansas to pick up 1,580 rolls of film that he had just paid $15,798 to develop. The second was an artist who had driven directly here after flying from London to Wichita, Kan., on her first trip to the United States to turn in three rolls of film and shoot five more before the processing deadline.
The artist, Aliceson Carter, 42, was incredulous as she watched the railroad worker, Jim DeNike, 53, loading a dozen boxes that contained nearly 50,000 slides into his old maroon Pontiac. He explained that every picture inside was of railroad trains and that he had borrowed money from his father’s retirement account to pay for developing them.
“That’s crazy to me,” Ms. Carter said. Then she snapped a picture of Mr. DeNike on one of her last rolls.
Demanding both to shoot and process, Kodachrome rewarded generations of skilled users with a richness of color and a unique treatment of light that many photographers described as incomparable even as they shifted to digital cameras. “Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day,” Paul Simon sang in his 1973 hit “Kodachrome,” which carried the plea “Mama, don’t take my Kodachrome away.” 
The whole piece isn't long, so read it (and weep) at the link above.  Ah, the memories.

More later.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Slippin' & Slidin' Toward 2011

The journey to work yesterday was quite a challenge, with streets still snow-covered and icy. Many businesses had been closed so their respective areas of the sidewalk were not touched, so one had to find a way to the street or plod through 12 to 15 inches of hard pack. The walk took twice as long as usual, but I took it slow and didn't do any Tonya Harding pratfalls.

The restaurant was busy for lunch, thanks to the kids being out of school and families suffering from cabin fever. Though there were few parking places available on the avenue, folks found spots nearby and were happy to find us open. We were just glad to be back to work and busy.

The sun was out most of the day which helped to melt some of the snow and more pavement was available when I walked home after my shift.  A huge difference in just a few hours.  The temps are to continue to rise over the next few days, so if these damned winds ever subside, the New Year may ring in on a happy note.

The car remains buried but I asked a friend/co-worker to try to find a snow shovel for me on his way home last evening, not that I hold much hope, but worth a shot. He may also help with the big dig, if I ask.  I hate to ask, but...we'll see, Don't want to pay any more visits to the hospital, if you get my drift. (Did I really say 'drift'?)

I'm scheduled to work 8 days in a row with my next day off being Jan. 5th.  We're all hoping that the restaurant remains busy though the weekend. We are almost totally booked for New Year's eve and New Year's day lunch with that evening filling up fast. There are a few reservations for lunch today and tomorrow, always good sign.

Coffee is finished, a light breakfast next. Then it's off to find out how much ice is under foot as I walk the 4 blocks to work. I have to take a different route for the moment.  The path of least resistance is the one I'm on.

More later.

Monday, December 27, 2010

FDA Gulf Seafood Safety is Challenged

While the US government is dishing out Gulf seafood to our folks in uniform and hawking it as being safe for consumer consumption, serious questions are raised about the safety of that seafood.  It also shows that the US government doesn't care about the health of our military personnel or the American public. Cover up and move on.  Nothing to see here.  From MSNBC:

A New Orleans law firm is challenging government assurances that Gulf Coast seafood is safe to eat in the wake of the BP oil spill, saying it poses “a significant danger to public health.”
It’s a high-stakes tug-of-war that will almost certainly end up in the courts, with two armies of scientists arguing over technical findings that could have real-world impact for seafood consumers and producers.
Citing what the law firm calls a state-of-the-art laboratory analysis, toxicologists, chemists and marine biologists retained by the firm of environmental attorney Stuart Smith contend that the government seafood testing program, which has focused on ensuring the seafood was free of the cancer-causing components of crude oil, has overlooked other harmful elements. And they say that their own testing — examining fewer samples but more comprehensively — shows high levels of hydrocarbons from the BP spill that are associated with liver damage.
Is dispersant still being sprayed in the gulf?“What we have found is that FDA simply overlooked an important aspect of safety in their protocol,” contends William Sawyer, a Florida-based toxicologist on Smith’s team. “We now have a sufficient number of samples to provide FDA with probable cause to include such testing, really. They need to go back and test some of their archived samples as well.”
Five months after crude oil stopped gushing from the broken BP wellhead into the Gulf of Mexico, the federal government has reopened more than 90 percent of fishing waters that were in danger of contamination from the broken Deepwater Horizon rig.
Read on at the link above.

And so it goes.

SNOW! E'nuf Said.

It remains cloudy and windy this morning, making it difficult to tell if it's still snowing. Just as I was about to get dressed for work the boss called to say they're not opening for lunch due to a 'limited' State of Emergency in the county, so I'm out of luck today. At least I got the call before heading out the door - it was 9:15.  I began this post a few minutes later.

Listening to local news on radio it seems there is much confusion about what's going on weather-wise.  Schools are closed, most other businesses are also closed, and the huge Outlet Centers are also closed.  Something they never do, so it was be pretty bad out there.

Looking out the door it appears we've got about 12 to 14 inches and no plow has touched the street.  Doesn't look like many cars have tried getting through, either.  I am armed with only a broom and ice scraper, but if it is very cold chances are good that it's powder and easily removed from the car.  Which, btw, is not visible from the porch, having to park it farther away than usual Christmas Eve.  So, time to finish my tea, get layered up, and go for it.

11 am.  Well, that was an exercise in futility for the most part. The good news: Sweeping off the stairs was as easy as originally thought.  Snow on the ground is deeper than it looked from indoors.  The snow is like powder, just so much more of it. It seems to have stopped snowing and the winds are just blowing it into drifts everywhere. The stairs and porch are clear, at least for now.

The bad news: As I began sweeping the stairs 2 snow plow trucks barreled down the street plowing in all the cars curb-side. Not a soul was outdoors making even the smallest attempt to dig out. I made my way across the street in snow above the knees to find the car plowed in up to the windows on the driver's side.

Cleaned off the windows, windshield and back window but didn't have the energy or strength to get into the car and start it up.  The back was already hurting, the thumbs as well, and the stinging in the fingers was a warning to get indoors quickly because the Raynaud's disease was acting up again.

I don't have a snow shovel.  It was foolishly left behind at the old apartment believing my landlady would need it more than I.  Oh, so wrong. To be fair to myself, everyone called the freakish storms of last February a once-in-a-hundred-year event and we all believed them.  Duh!  I guess I'm not going anywhere by car until I find someone to dig me out. And walking to work in deep snow and high winds isn't going to be a walk in the park, either. Oh well, it is what it is.

On the bright side, I am better off here than in that other apartment. I don't even want to think about what that place looks like right now.

12:45 pm. The image above was taken by the boss and posted on Face Book a little while ago.  Click the image to embiggen.

The sun has made a very welcome appearance just this very minute, and male and female cardinals have landed on the snowy roof outside my window.  It IS beautiful and so are they. So bright (and noisy) against the white. Let's leave with that image in mind, shall we?

More later.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jack Frost Roasting on an Open Fire...

The Dear.  And all is Merry and White!  Walked to work in a light snowfall at 9 am (earlier than usual because the restaurant was closed for 2 days), almost no wind to speak of and the always welcome quiet that comes with a snow event.

By the time we were ready to open we had 5 inches on the ground; Maryland had issued a State of Emergency; Pennsylvania followed a few hours later.  Though Delaware hadn't made a decision at the time, the bosses decided to close at 2 pm to get everyone home safely. The bosses and self were the last to leave the building

As I left at 2:10pm the winds were up to 30 mph causing near white-out conditions in town. The flakes are larger and it has gotten colder, so the walk home was slow, but an adventure.  Blowing snow thickly coated my glasses so that they had to be removed to see the way home. It looks as though only one car rolled down my street today, so I walked in the tracks as much as possible.  There is now at least 7 inches on the ground and it's not due to end until this evening.

All things considered, it wasn't as bad as it could have been and I am more concerned for those who had to drive home.  The roads are dangerous and slippery with the blowing snow making visibility a serious issue.

I received a bottle of Rock & Rye as a gift, but didn't bring it home today for fear of falling or dropping it.  I must say, a hot R & R toddy would be perfect on this cold, snowy evening.  (sigh!)  Still, I am sure there will be more snow in the coming months, so I can look forward to that toddy other time.

So, to my blog buddies (and buddettes?) residing in the mid-Atlantic and New England, I say thanks for your friendship, comments, insights, humor, photographs, and just for visiting. If the forecast of a true blizzard comes to pass, may you all be safe, warm, and without the need to travel.  To those in Europe what can I say?  You've already suffered through so much horrific weather.  Just know that all of you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Oh, and to Ur-Spo:  the shirt has arrived safe and sound. It was delivered under the cover of darkness (don't ask, I haven't a clue). I will open the box and don the shirt as vestment, have a photo taken, post it here, then send the shirt off to the next person on your list.  This is a lovely way to end a somewhat difficult year. Thanks for including me in this effort.

Clothes and outerwear are drying in the bath tub and I am warming up in my sweats while brewing a cup of green tea with honey.  The boots are drying out on a bath towel...need to find a small mat for the area by the front door to solve this problem. It's always something, isn't it?

And so it goes.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Caturday

Snow is in the forecast, but so far, nothing. Dr. Spo's Shirt Traveling Show is in the area at Ron's Retired in Delaware blog, and that means I am probably the next recipient. Spo designs and makes print shirts for special occasions, usually in bold beautiful, and exotic colors. So, this novel idea for a shirt tour turned out to be a fund raiser as well as a way to get to know one another better.

Pictures will be taken (if it fits me) and the shirt sent to the next person on the list - another blogger and Spo fan - and who knows how far the shirt will travel before being returned to the Home of Spo.  The dear!

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Happy Ending Video

Don't know why I love this, at first it sounded so wrong, but the production values, direction, editing, the sweet face (and voice) of the lead singer, and camera work just drew me in. The band doesn't have a record contract, but I think they should.  How about you?

Off to bed now to await a visit from Santa. Merry Christmas everyone.

And so it goes...

Christmas Eve in Sarajevo (Timeless Version)

Pretty powerful and thought-provoking video for all of us, and not only for this time of year. The child and the little kittens are just perfect.

It's another HD wide screen video, so go HERE to view it.

It's still cold and windy here, but so far (at least) no show in the forecast, but that could change at any time.

I've been doing prep on my Christmas dinner for tomorrow and as I finish I  am experiencing the delightful smell of olives just waiting to splash into the glass with a good gin.  But, don't tell anyone.

More later

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gloomy Christmas for Gulf Oil Spill Victims

Nothing.  Just nothing.

BP and the US government are strangling the life out of these people, their communities, and a way of life.
PORT SULPHUR, La. — Even before the Gulf oil spill, Jennifer Reddick was just getting by, living paycheck to paycheck as she tried to support six children on the $400 a week she made working part time as a deckhand and shrimp net maker.
Then BP's well blew out off the coast of Louisiana, scaring away tourists and shutting down fishing. Now she has no work and no money to buy her children toys or new clothes this Christmas. Charities are providing what they can, but it's hard for Reddick to take handouts.
"It was never easy before, but we could make it," said Reddick, 30, of Buris, a small fishing town along the Mississippi River. "I couldn't even afford Christmas this year for the kids."
For many people along the Gulf Coast, there won't be much holiday cheer this Christmas.
It's been more than five months since the well was finally capped after spewing millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf. Many shrimpers and oystermen are catching and selling only a fraction of previous hauls. Business owners who saw a summer of lost revenue are still struggling to pay their bills, and many had to lay off workers to make it through the slow winter months.
The Coastal Heritage Society of Louisiana has seen requests for help double. Many are coming from people who had never asked for assistance before.
"Even after Katrina, it wasn't like this," said Joannie Hughes, who along with Vickie Perrin has fanned out across the region to deliver Christmas dinners and toys to 112 families.
Perrin said the economic effect is just starting to ripple through communities, from fishermen to grocery stores and restaurants.
"It's like throwing a pebble into a pond. And we're only on the first few ripples," she said.
This makes the holidays and the new year all the more difficult.  What will the new year bring to the lives of these people?

Prayers ascend.

The rest is here.

And so it goes.

Stuffed, Slogged, Shopped, Sipped, Searched, and Surprised

Woke this morning feeling like someone had stuffed my head to near bursting with dry socks.  Don't ask.  That's the closest I can come to describe the feeling. Hard to breathe without discomfort; dry throat didn't help and talking was forbidden unless I wanted to croak like a frog.

Slogged through the usual morning rituals and brewed a coffee before hitting the shower. Felt somewhat relieved afterward as the pressure seemed to dissipate thanks to the extra warm moisture. So, I pulled it together and by the time I arrived at the restaurant the head was clearer and gravity didn't have the same pull as it had earlier. A true blessing, that. (Yes, that's Clara Bow. Click the image to embiggen.)

It was a busy lunch with folks taking a break from last minute shopping in town and/or just needing a margarita to cope with the rest of the day.  Most were leaving today to be with family and friends for the holiday, but it was interesting to note that not one of them was flying - anywhere. Driving, the train, or bus was all they were going to deal with. So, I said to myself, self, now isn't that odd.

Sipped a golden margarita after-shift cocktail which was followed by hugs and kisses all round as I left work this evening (the restaurant is closed the 24th and 25th) and I have to open the place early on Sunday morning. It takes extra time for the kitchen to get up to speed after being shutdown for 2 days.

Searching for an idea of what to do for the next two days. Maybe read, do some cooking, or get out and walk around town taking pictures. I know I will hit the beach at North Shores at some point, it's been a tradition since my previous life and the only one I continue to enjoy alone.

Arrived home to find a package on the porch from new friends (friends of a friend) in NYC.  I was surprised and delighted when I opened it to find homemade goodies, a variety of cookies and some tiny salty crackers - and just enough (plenty!) for me. Well, there is no one to share them with, after all.

I have to decide whether I want to indulge preparing a special Christmas meal, or just relax and enjoy another bowl of the soup I made earlier this week. Yes I know, such hard life decisions.  Oy!

Anyway, I wish everyone of you that special something that you wish for yourself. Cheers!

And so it goes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DADT is Done

Stick a fork in it!

Now on to full repeal and implementing the new changes. That may not be so easy since the hate-mongering Christianist groups like Family Research Council (FRC) already announced plans (with the help of John McCain and other Repugs) to sue to stop the repeal. Still, it's some history we see today. And good news for the country this time of year. Joy to the world, indeed.

From Yahoo News: WASHINGTON – Declaring that members of the military will no longer be asked to lie, President Barack Obama fulfilled a campaign promise Wednesday and signed a landmark law repealing the ban on gay men and women serving openly in the armed services.

"This is a good day," a beaming Obama said. "This is a very good day."
The new law ends the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy that forced gays to hide their sexual orientation or face dismissal. Its repeal comes as the American public has become more tolerant on such issues as gay marriage and gay rights in general.

"I say to all Americans, gay or straight, who want nothing more than to defend this country in uniform, your country needs you, your country wants you, and we will be honored to welcome you into the ranks of the finest military the world has ever known," Obama said.

Pentagon officials must first complete implementation plans before lifting the old policy — and the president, defense secretary and chairman of the joint chiefs must certify to lawmakers that it won't damage combat readiness, as critics charge. But Obama said: "We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done."

The signing ceremony was a breakthrough moment for the nation's gay community, the military and for Obama himself. The president vowed during his 2008 campaign to repeal the law and faced pressure from liberals who complained he was not acting swiftly enough.
Read more at the link above.

I feel better already.


Video: O Little State of Delaware

Just in time for the holidays, and a fund raiser, too.
More later, when I have something to share.

Wikileaks Wanted Poster

Sorry, it was just too good not to post.  Is Bank of America next?  Oh please, oh please, oh please!!!
More later.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One Hour and Forty Minutes = One Errand

Yes friends, that's how long it took to get the single, important errand done this morning. You know the old saying, "if you want to make G*d laugh, make plans" well that's what happened to me today.

Pulled it together (well, as best I could) and headed out of town at about 8:30 am.  There was some kind of back-up when I got to the highway, but couldn't tell what was happening while merging into traffic.

WOW! What luck!  I find myself driving behind a convoy moving an historic house to a new location (I found this info later on local radio, which I never listen to, btw) that took up ALL THREE northbound lanes of the roadway. I knew that whimpering and stomping feet wouldn't do any good, so I just crept along behind the huge convoy of flatbeds and state troopers leading the way.

I learned later that the house was being moved to a new and safer location about 15 miles away. Fortunately, I only had to be in the procession for about 4 miles -inching along at about 5 mph - so I think you get an idea of where the time went. And, no, there is no way around this sort of thing. Just go with the flow.

Picked up the necessary prescription and headed home. Following soft-boiled egg and toast breakfast, I set about making the chicken soup.  I had no stock left, so I used some of the processed stuff (which is way too salty - adding extra water to dilute) sauteed the boneless chicken thighs, diced them, and chopped celery, carrots, and onions along with some lemon zest, basil and, near the end, tossed in some egg noodles.  Then turned the whole thing off and let it set.

Ran a load of laundry while preparing the above recipe and was happy to notice that we have a NEW clothes dryer which makes life so much easier. The old dryer ran for 15 minutes, which meant more and more coins to get the job done.  The new dryer runs for an hour for whites/high settings and half hour for more delicate items.  Well, it made my day a little brighter and will for months to come.

Though it only rested for a couple of hours, I enjoyed a bowl of the soup with some leftover garlic bread and it made for a heavenly meal. The soup will be much tastier next time.

Yes, I know it's time for olives, but not sure that's what I want tonight. Since it's so cold and the winds are out of the northwest I'll treat myself to a Sazerac - that should ensure a good night's sleep.

And so it goes.

A Code Id By Dose

The rhino thingy seems to have reached it zenith, very little sleep and unable to lie flat for any amount of time. Thankfully, no chills or fever this time. Just a head that feels full of Jello.

I have only one errand to run today and if that wasn't absolutely necessary, I'd be in bed mustering up the energy to make a pot of chicken soup. Just the thought of chopping vegetables is exhausting right now.

Good luck with fall-out from this full moon/solstice/eclipse madness and the human craziness that surrounds us.

Like I said, one errand and I'm off the road for two days. I may as well get going and be over with it.

Be well.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ordinance of Secession: 150 Years Ago

While there is much distaste for the "celebrations" honoring the Secession in 1860 of the southern states and beginning of the Civil War (or as referred to in the south, "War Between the States"), being a southerner I find many of the planned events, beginning with this one,  (happening tonight) an affront to anyone who can breathe without thinking and a slap in the face of history. (click the image to embiggen.)

After reading the story linked above, I found this Op-Ed piece in today's  NYT: Gone With The Myths

ON Dec. 20, 1860, 169 men — politicians and people of property — met in the ballroom of St. Andrew’s Hall in Charleston, S.C. After hours of debate, they issued the 158-word “Ordinance of Secession,” which repealed the consent of South Carolina to the Constitution and declared the state to be an independent country. Four days later, the same group drafted a seven-page “Declaration of the Immediate Causes,” explaining why they had decided to split the Union.
The authors of these papers flattered themselves that they’d conjured up a second American Revolution. Instead, the Secession Convention was the beginning of the Civil War, which killed some 620,000 Americans; an equivalent war today would send home more than six million body bags.
The next five years will include an all-you-can-eat special of national remembrance. Yet even after 150 years full of grief and pride and anger, we greet the sesquicentennial wondering, why did the South secede?
I can testify about the South under oath. I was born and raised there, and 12 men in my family fought for the Confederacy; two of them were killed. And since I was a boy, the answer I’ve heard to this question, from Virginia to Louisiana (from whites, never from blacks), is this: “The War Between the States was about states’ rights. It was not about slavery.”
I’ve heard it from women and from men, from sober people and from people liquored up on anti-Washington talk. The North wouldn’t let us govern ourselves, they say, and Congress laid on tariffs that hurt the South. So we rebelled. Secession and the Civil War, in other words, were about small government, limited federal powers and states’ rights.
But a look through the declaration of causes written by South Carolina and four of the 10 states that followed it out of the Union — which, taken together, paint a kind of self-portrait of the Confederacy — reveals a different story. From Georgia to Texas, each state said the reason it was getting out was that the awful Northern states were threatening to do away with slavery.
South Carolina: “The non-slaveholding states ... have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery” and “have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes.”
Mississippi: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world. ... There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union.”
Georgia: “A brief history of the rise, progress, and policy of anti-slavery and the political organization into whose hands the administration of the Federal Government has been committed will fully justify the pronounced verdict of the people of Georgia.”
Several states single out a special culprit, Abraham Lincoln, “an obscure and illiterate man” whose “opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.” Lincoln’s election to the White House meant, for South Carolina, that “the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.”
In other words, the only state right the Confederate founders were interested in was the rich man’s “right” to own slaves.
It’s peculiar, because “states’ rights” has become a popular refrain in Republican circles lately. Last year Gov. Rick Perry of Texas wondered aloud whether secession was his state’s right in the aftermath of laws out of Congress that he disliked.
In part because of this renewed rhetoric, in the coming remembrances we will likely hear more from folks who cling to the whitewash explanation for secession and the Civil War. But you have only to look at the honest words of the secessionists to see why all those men put on uniforms.
Edward Ball, the author of “Slaves in the Family,” is writing a biography of the photographer Eadweard Muybridge.
The timing of this takes on a personal meaning for me today.  The Saints/Ravens game was telecast on the big screens at the bar and suddenly I heard a phrase I haven't heard since the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, "Save your Confederate Money Boys, The South's Gonna Rise Again!" Sent chills up my spine. That 150 year old mentality is still with us.

And so it goes.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repealed

Well, it's about time! Senator Reid can now return Lt. Dan Choi's Ring.

Me = Stunned.  Surprised. Somber.

Now, Mr. President, do what you promised to do and make this nightmare end forever. I hope this begins to heal those like Dan Choi and all the others who've been mistreated for almost 2 decades. Their lives will never be what they were once promised and that is the tragic part of all this. NYT this afternoon:
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Saturday struck down the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, bringing to a close a 17-year struggle over a policy that forced thousands of Americans from the ranks and caused others to keep secret their sexual orientation.
By a vote of 65 to 31, with eight Republicans joining Democrats, the Senate approved and sent to President Obama a repeal of the Clinton-era law, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a policy critics said amounted to government-sanctioned discrimination that treated gay and lesbian troops as second-class citizens.
Mr. Obama hailed the action, which fulfills his pledge to reverse the ban. “As commander in chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known,” Mr. Obama said in a statement after the Senate, on a 63-33 vote, beat back Republican efforts to block a final vote on the repeal bill.
The vote marked a historic moment that some equated with the end of racial segregation in the military.
It followed a comprehensive review by the Pentagon that found a low risk to military effectiveness despite greater concerns among some combat units and the Marine Corps. The review also found that Pentagon officials supported Congressional repeal as a better alternative than an court-ordered end. 
A shot of Jameson's was administered by the GM this afternoon (to soothe a sore throat, of course) then I arrive home to this great news. G*d knows we need some positive news these days. I look forward to a restful sleep tonight and feeling better in the morning.

And so it goes.

Caturday Blahs

The head cold is back and more intense than before. It never really went away.  Sigh.

Have to make it through a cold, wet, and probably busy day at work.

More later, maybe. 


Friday, December 17, 2010

Why The Salvation Army Doesn't Deserve Your Money

Haven't given them a penny in over 12 years, and this piece sums up the reasons pretty well:

Every holiday season, people open their hearts and wallets for family, friends, and charities alike. Unfortunately, some large organizations who regularly solicit for money are often using funds for political motives or ‘overhead’ costs. In a series of posts, we’ll be investigating three popular charities that don’t deserve your charity.
Everyone knows the Salvation Army. Whether it’s the secondhand goods at their thrift stores or their collection kettles outside department stores, the Salvation Army is ubiquitous to the holiday season.
However, the Salvation Army’s virulent opposition to gay rights both in public and through persistent legislative lobbying raises the question how donations intended for the needy are being spent. Many people forget that the Salvation Army is in fact an Evangelical church, and as such, it tends to have a hard-right social agenda.
In fact, the Salvation Army goes so far as to say gay people shouldn’t be having sex. You can find this nugget on their website: “Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life.”
Starting at the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency in 2001, the Salvation Army began lobbying for an exemption to equal labor practices for government-funded faith-based organizations. Why? Because the Salvation Army wanted to continue to discriminate against gays and prevent them from being hired.
In 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to close all its soup kitchens in the New York City area—which would have ended $250 million worth of contracts with the city—if they were forced to offer benefits to same-sex couples. This move would have lost the Salvation Army around $70 million in direct funding from the city and endangered the lives of several thousand people reliant on the Salvation Army.
Was this supposed to be a principled stand? All the homeless people receiving care from the Salvation Army would be turned out on the street. What would have motivated The Salvation Army to make such a callous move? They said that, by offering benefits to same sex couples, they’d be supporting HIV/AIDS because HIV/AIDS is only the product of homosexual intercourse.
I've given up supporting large corporate charities and focus more on local non-profits with what little I can share. 

The rest of the piece is HERE.

More later.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Surprises: A New Floor, Stoli Carpet & Snow

During my days off the dos locos had the dining room and bar floors redone and clear-coated. A beautiful surprise when I arrived this morning, but that wasn't the best part...oh no, they chose to give my feet and legs a rest by adding a sweet gay carpet to my host area.  Do you like it? (click the image to embiggen.)  I love it and kept asking everyone if they "thought it made me look too gay."  Howls of laughter was the typical response, but I don't care.  It's mine, all mine.

I have happy feet, to boot.

Then, a half hour before opening flurries began to fall. WTF? We turned on the Weather Channel (they don't have a good track record with predictions for this area of the mid-Atlantic) and sure enough, this was supposed to be a southwest event with the snow falling in Virginia and DC areas.  As the snow became heavier and the temperatures dropped it was clear that they missed the mark again. By noon the forecast for the area had changed to 'snow showers with up to an inch possible' but by this time there was already a 2 inch layer of powder on the ground. No wind to speak of, which was a blessing.

As I left work more than 4 inches was on the ground and the forecast was changed again 'to expect this event to continue until 10 pm.'  Ah Yes, 2 inches my frozen ass! I must say it is beautiful and the quiet as I walked home was relaxing.  Only the sound of the snow under foot was my company on the journey.

I'm not complaining, friends all over Europe are suffering through brutal and harsh conditions that are nearing nightmare proportions in some countries. I send my love and prayers to all.

Time for a little Christmas red & green (stuffed olives) as I get preparations for supper under way. The walk to work tomorrow should be interesting.

And so it goes.

Get Well Wishes for Lt. Dan Choi

Lt. Dan Choi, who became one of the public faces of DADT, was hospitalized in a Veteran's Administration mental health facility yesterday. Choi chose to make his breakdown and hospitalization public via email:
I did not initially want to publicize this but I now realize it is critical for our community to know several things: veterans gay or straight carry human burdens, Activists share similar burdens, no activist should be portrayed as super human, and the failures of government and national lobbying carry consequences far beyond the careers and reputations of corporate leaders, elected officials, High powered lobbyists, or political elites. They ruin lives.

He got right to the point. Get Well, Lt. Choi.

More later.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Palin Mocked as 'Amateur' Hunter

Seems that Caribou Barbie's skills with a rifle are coming under fire (pun intended) from real hunters for being less than stellar. Is anyone really surprised that she lied about her hunting skills...also? After the sloppy job and obvious setup of the whole scene, hunters weigh in on ol' mama grizzley:

Sarah Palin shot a caribou in the latest episode of her TV series - a move doubtless calculated to wind up as many limp-wristed liberal urbanites as possible. But she probably didn't expect the extraordinary criticism she has attracted from the hunting fraternity, many of whom think Palin has exposed herself as at best an amateur - and at worst a danger to other hunters.

A New York blogger showed the video, in which Palin misses a caribou four times before her father hands her another rifle and she finally hits the target, to some hunter friends - and they were distinctly unimpressed.
Among the hunters' criticisms are:

• Palin's father chooses a "varmint rifle" for the expedition, even though they are going caribou hunting. Why did Palin not question this choice?

• Palin fails to 'sight-in' her rifle before setting off on their hunting trip - a basic error which might help explain her four misses

• Palin doesn't carry her own rifle or load her own rounds - a point picked up by a commenter on her Facebook page, who feels this shows she isn't a "true hunter".

• Palin is clumsy with her rifle and doesn't look like she regularly handles one. A Facebook commenter points this out, mocking her for asking her dad, "does the rifle kick?"

"What kind of a question is that?" says the commenter. "Doesn't matter if it kicks or not you shoot it the same. That was a girly question, momma griz."

• When Palin is handed the second weapon, with which she finally bags her caribou, she immediately puts her finger on the trigger. As all hunters know, this is dangerous: one should only finger the trigger when one is ready to shoot.

Of course, Palin has her defenders, many of whom blame the production crew for editing the film to make her look amateurish.
This is not getting much press here, so read the rest HERE.

"I once shot an elephant in my pajamas.  How it got into my pajamas, I'll never know." - Groucho Marx.

More later, maybe.

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob

I've been wanting to post this, but today just seemed the right day for it. Voices are perfect and the faces on the kids experiencing this, probably for the first time in their lives, show joy and wonder at the beauty of it all. I would love to experience one of these myself.  Wouldn't you?  Enjoy.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. G*d knows we can all use some joy in this world.

More later.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"In Comes Company" - With Neil Patrick Harris

While I loved  Raul Esparza's Bobby  in the 2008 Broadway revival of Company, in a very unique production, I was a bit put off by the characters having to be their own orchestra, and sometimes missing a musical cue. Hey, that happens.

Of course my fave was Larry Kert and I mourn his passing to this very day. However...

With his musical abilities blossoming I suggested to other "friends" of musical theatre that NPH would make a great Bobby for a revival of Sondheim's masterpiece, COMPANY.  Now there is this news.
Given the relentless work schedule of Neil Patrick Harris, the “How I Met Your Mother” star and perennial awards-show host, one sometimes wonders if the outgoing message on his voice mail ends, “Whatever you’re calling about, my answer is yes.”
Mr. Harris has just said yes to another exciting proposition: he will star in a production of “Company,” the Stephen Sondheim musical about a perennial bachelor, his dating life and his good and crazy married friends, to be presented by the New York Philharmonic in April, the orchestra announced on Friday.
The performances, which will run from April 7 through 9, will be produced and directed by Lonny Price, who with the Philharmonic has also overseen star-studded productions of “Sweeney Todd” and “Candide,” and will be conducted by Paul Gemignani with orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick.
In a telephone interview Mr. Harris praised Mr. Sondheim for “filling every beat and note and moment with some intention.” He added: “It just allows the performer a great opportunity to mine as deep as they choose. My day job requires a shallowness that will be fun to play against.”
In this “Company” Mr. Harris, a veteran of the Philharmonic’s “Sweeney Todd,” will of course be playing Robert (a k a Bobby, Bobby Bubi and Robert Darling), a seemingly un-pin-downable single man celebrating his 35th birthday.
The character is not unlike Barney Stinson, the lothario Mr. Harris plays on “How I Met Your Mother,” though the actor said there were differences between the roles.
I would love to see this, the rest HERE.

Olives and supper await.  It's cold and the wind has been brutal - 20 to 30 mph - so I look forward to hunkering under the covers after a shower.  Sure would be nice to have someone to hold me too close, someone to know me well, someone to pull me up short and put me through hell and give me support for being alive...but.

And so it goes.

Blogger Arguments


The majority of blogger arguments begin because people read words but not sentences.


More later.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Flurries? Oh Noes!!!

Large wet flurries joined me on the way to work this morning.

Now, I know it's December and Christmas is 12 days away, but it was still a shocking reminder of last February's nightmare.  And, we are told that was a once-in-a-lifetime fluke event.  Uh huh!

The temperature wasn't cold enough for the snow flakes to stick, so it was an enjoyable sight through the large windows as holiday music played and the restaurant came to life. Lunch diners were not as plentiful as usual, but many were likely scared away by the snow showers, which amounted to a whole lot of nothing.

After work, I stopped at the Post Office to retrieve a package waiting for me.  It was a holiday gift from a blogger buddy and friend. I was surprised, though I shouldn't have been - he's known for surprises.

Anyway, the PO experience may be the subject of a post all-by-itself, though not now.

The search for a winter coat continues tomorrow.  I've found very little selection online, and besides I like to try things on and get a feel for how they are made and how they fit, or don't, with my lifestyle. Heavy winter coat cumbersome when I drive, so I usually take the damned thing off, throw it in the back seat and put it back on when arriving at my destination. Coats can be so restrictive. I prefer a jacket since they're usually short enough that you're not sitting on it while driving.  The goal all along has been to find something light, waist-length, and warm enough for walking to work in the coldest weather. Good luck, right?

These next 2 days off may be a lot colder, but I hope to get out and take some holiday pictures of the town and surrounding areas. The sun is forecast to make an appearance tomorrow as well. 

Time for a few olives and a light supper. 

And so it goes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rain, Missing Keys, Mark Twain, & Margaritas

 Yeah, so? Just humor me...

The humidity and temperature began to rise overnight and I felt it immediately because my sleep was interrupted by pain in hands and back. The heavy rains began before dawn, thankfully without strong winds.

As I made my way to work I thought it would be a slow day thanks to the weather. Those thoughts vanished when I discovered that the keys to areas I need to access were missing. Sent a message to the boss, then proceeded to do what I could to get things as organized as possible under the circumstances.

The phone rang and it wasn't the boss, but the local book store informing me that my copy of the Twain Autobiography had arrived, ready for pick up. Told them I'd stop by after work.

The dos locos arrived just in time (as they should) and everything turned out OK. As a result, I now have a key to what is known as 'the dead zone' where all the day-to-day stock items reside.

We were pleasantly surprised by the number of the lunch diners and those who dropped by the bar to watch football games.

Following my shift I met with the dos locos who presented me with a holiday gift (these guys are beyond generous) headed for my after-shift cocktail and interesting conversation with a few regulars.  As I sipped my golden margarita another arrived as I was about to leave. This one from the dos locos.  I remained seated and continued chatting with the customers as I enjoyed the cocktail.

I was up, coat and hat on, bracing for the rains when another golden magically appeared before me.  This one thanks to the regulars I'd been chatting with.

I just made it to the book store before they closed for the night. I was surprised that they gave generous discounts on the book for regular customers and I now own a huge volume of Twain's episodic ramblings to play with and discover over the long, dark, months to come.

As Zorba said, "Life is what you do while you're waiting to die."

So fill in any empty time with whatever you can.  (I say that.)

No need for olives tonight, just dinner, music, and a read of my fave blogs.

And so it goes.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Holiday Plea for Homeless LGBT Youth

Just passing on this important message from the Executive Director of the Ali Forney Center.
A guest post at JMG
It has been a rough holiday season for the Ali Forney Center.

The day after Thanksgiving I received an e-mail from the City of New York, informing me that due to budget problems, they were slashing their support for homeless youth programs, greatly defunding street outreach efforts and drop-in centers. Our drop-in support is being cut in half.

I prefer to talk about our housing programs, and the remarkable resilience that so many of our residents show in rebuilding lives that have been shattered by homophobia and family rejection. The realities we deal with in our two drop-in centers are harder and more brutal.

In New York City, there are 3,800 youths who sleep on the streets every night. Over 1,000 of these youths admit to being LGBT. There are only about 250 shelter beds for homeless youth in NYC, so the great majority are left stranded on the streets. LGBT kids from all over the country flock to our drop-in centers for the food, showers, medical care, mental health treatment and other forms of support we provide.

Our case managers work valiantly to help find shelter for these kids, but the reality is there are so few safe options for LGBT youth that we are often forced to advise them on how to survive while sleeping in places like subway trains, parks, abandoned buildings and construction sites as they wait for one of our beds to open up. Yesterday one of our case managers described spending the afternoon trying to find shelter for a girl who had just come to us. When his efforts were exhausted and he had to tell her that she would be out on the street for the night, she sat in his office and cried.

I hate what I see our kids going through. So many thousands of vulnerable kids being cast out of their homes for being gay, deprived of all family support, and forced to fend for themselves without the resources to survive. I hate the way the suffer violence and degradation on the streets, the way they get gay bashed in mainstream shelters, the way so many have to survive through prostitution. I hate seeing youth be so deeply traumatized.

This phenomenon of thousands of LGBT youth being thrown out to the streets by parents who will not accept them is the most terrible face of homophobia in our time. Is there is a greater wrong being perpetrated against our community? I do not understand why protecting our terribly violated and abandoned youth is not the top priority of the LGBT movement. I do not understand why our advocacy organizations are not fighting to make certain that our tax dollars are allocated to supporting these abandoned kids. It is a nightmare that there are so few resources to protect these kids.

With these budget cuts, our ability to provide our drop-in centers is jeopardized, but I am not willing to reduce what little support these poor kids have. The drop-in centers are the safety net for the kids out on the street and I cannot imagine closing our doors. We desperately need an outpouring of support from the community to keep our drop-in centers open. Please be as generous as you can in this time of trial and, please, see if you can persuade friends to help.

Online donations can be made by clicking here.

Checks can be sent to:

Ali Forney Center
224 West 35th Street, Suite 1102
New York, NY 10001

Thank You!

Carl Siciliano
Executive Director
Ali Forney Center
I can never understand how families in 2010 can still be this barbaric regarding their own children. It still boggles the mind.  Help out as you are led.

And so it goes.

Post Katrina Caturday

Here's a nice change. A story with a happy ending from the Katrina disaster. (click image to embiggen)
Jennifer Noble's Cat, Scrub, Returns Home 5 Years After Hurricane Katrina
BILOXI, Miss. — Five years after wandering away in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, a gray and white cat named Scrub has been reunited with his Mississippi family
The Humane Society of South Mississippi says Scrub was identified by an implanted microchip. The 7-year-old cat was brought to the shelter by a Gulfport woman who'd fed him as a stray the past couple of months but worried about his safety during a cold snap.
Scrub's owner, Jennifer Noble, tells The Sun Herald newspaper that she was skeptical at first when she received a call from the shelter. But by the end of the first night back, Scrub had snuggled in bed with one of her boys.
The woman who'd been feeding him lives about 15 miles away. Noble says Scrub is in excellent condition.
Information from: The Sun Herald,
Oh, the stories he could tell.  And Scrub teaches a lesson: live in the moment and make no assumptions.

More later.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Santa, I Need...

a 2-day getaway to anywhere

a winter coat

a good cookie sheet

a shelf sound system

a cruise to Alaska

a drill and drill-bits specifically for plaster walls

a sincere romantic hug

a friend to help lay the pad and area rug in the living room

a trip to IKEA for more storage options

a deep, romantic kiss

a Christmas connection with old friends

a lobster dinner - or, maybe two

a complete end to the ugliness of my previous life

a way back to volunteering and helping others

a visit with my best friend who is fighting cancer right now

a listening/counseling opportunity to help GLBT youth at risk

a few friends to understand that while I'm not on their chosen road, I am not lost

a trip to Holland one last time

a cell phone with  querty keyboard to fast-text on work related issues

a trip to New Orleans to visit my sister and a few old friends

a flannel sheet set for these cold winter nights

No iPads, iPods, or the latest electronic gizmos. 

Is that too much to ask for these days?

And so it goes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

GLEE: Oh, Baby It's Cold Outside!

Frank Loesser's wonderfully funny, sexy and unforgettable wintry duet is one of my all time holiday faves. Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Betty Carter, Sammy Davis Jr., Carmen McRae, and so many others have offered their take on these delectable lyrics - both tongue in cheek and otherwise. But...

I was floored to receive this clip from the TV show, GLEE (which I have never seen, since I don't have either cable or satellite service) serving up this great old classic sung by 2 of the new generation, with a gay sensibility and youthful, sophisticated playfulness. I love it!
Yes I know, I am an incurable shoot me!

The holiday season is a little brighter tonight.

And so it goes.

Dutch Cartoon: WikiLeaks

Posted with Peter's Permission.

More later.

Remembering John

I was on a commuter bus from Lake Hopatcong, NJ to my job in NYC at 4:15 a.m. when a muffled cry from another passenger broke the sleepy silence. She had been listening to news radio and as she struggled to hold back tears, told everyone she was sorry for the outburst, but she had just learned that John Lennon had been shot and killed outside of the Dakota.  John lived in that building.

Arriving in NYC at 5:30, a few of us postponed work and headed up to the Dakota on Central Park West only to find hundreds of people there for the same reason. We *needed* to be there. It was hard to believe and many were sure it was a mistake.  It wasn't. Some were under the impression that he was only wounded, not dead.  That simply couldn't be.

Like so many others, I remember where I was that day, just as we remember where we were when John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. That is the power and beauty of John Lennon.

It's hard to believe it's been 30 years!  I will be in line Friday when this issue of Rolling Stone hits the stands. I want to read the whole thing.
NEW YORK — John Lennon's fans celebrated his life Wednesday by visiting Strawberry Fields, the Central Park garden dedicated in his honor, while a newly released interview he gave shortly before his death showed he was optimistic about his future.
On the 30th anniversary of Lennon's murder outside his Manhattan apartment building, admirers played his music nearby at Strawberry Fields and placed flowers on a mosaic named for another famous Lennon song, "Imagine."
"I grew up with his voice," said Marissa DeLuca, 17, who came to New York from Boston with her father, Paul DeLuca, 50.
"The Beatles are the soundtrack to my childhood," she said. "His voice is just kind of like home."
Her father said, "Nothing is timeless like the stuff John and Paul (McCartney) wrote."
In the interview, conducted just three days before he was gunned down, John Lennon complained about his critics – saying they were just interested in "dead heroes." He mused that he had "plenty of time" to accomplish some of his life goals.
In Liverpool, where Lennon was from, hundreds were expected to gather for a vigil Wednesday around the Peace and Harmony sculpture, recently unveiled by Lennon's former wife, Cynthia, and their son Julian in Chavasse Park.
Jerry Goldman from The Beatles Story, a museum dedicated to the band, said the monument has brought even more people to Liverpool: "The city is very excited that we finally have a focal point at which to remember Lennon and look forward to a vigil that will reach out to people the world over."
Lennon's final interview was released to The Associated Press by Rolling Stone on Wednesday. The issue using the full interview will be on magazine stands on Friday. While brief excerpts of Jonathan Cott's interview with Lennon were released for a 1980 Rolling Stone cover story days after Lennon's death, this is the first time the entire interview has been published.
More HERE.

It's very cold today and a perfect day to watch the Warner Brothers' documentary "Imagine"  on DVD which contains the film and a whole lot of special features and interviews. I will remember John today.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

R.I.P. Elizabeth Edwards

I learned of her passing this evening at our staff party, and all of us were totally bummed. She was a powerful voice for healthcare reform and the single payer system. She knew that while she had the best insurance coverage in the country, women with her cancer who didn't have such, had no options at all.

And she fought to change that for everyone.  Now, she is gone.

Now look where this Congress is taking the rest of us...

Rest in Peace, Elizabeth.


A Life in a Day

An alarm woke me - for the first time in my life - this morning.  The periodic 'chirping' of the smoke alarm reminding me the battery needed changing. I thought I had done that a while back.  I had, but it seems these things don't like Alkaline batteries. Regular Heavy Duty cells were purchased, so all should be well for another year.

Up an hour earlier, unpacked the sweater boxes and filled them with warm weather shirts and shorts.

Trotted all over town in search of a winter coat, but no luck. At least nothing that caught my eye and was affordable. It remains cold and windy here - 33'F and 25 mph winds made it feel a lot colder.  A vivid reminder every time I left another store empty handed.

The layered-look will be the outfit for this evening's party.  V-shirt, dress shirt, sweater, and wind-breaker should be fine.  The search will continue tomorrow. There are a couple of stores left, like J. Crew, but I may be forced to shop the Internet, if tomorrow produces nothing.

The neighbors appear to have a new puppy (defying the landlord's rule - no pets allowed) who screamed and yelped all day. Both are teachers who left the poor baby alone in a strange new place. I will speak to them tomorrow. Don't fuck with baby animals and think you'll get away with it.

Ran load of laundry but the dryer is not working. Thankfully, the washer has a heavy-duty spin cycle.  The wet clothes are drying in the bedroom on another item purchased today - a folding drying rack.

Cooked up a pot of Italian Sausage with sliced green peppers onions, and garlic.  Let's not forget the garlic. Why cook it today?  Because the peppers would go bad in a day or two and they were purchased for just this purpose but couldn't be eaten because of the jaw pain, which is no longer an issue.

Experienced an Epiphany of sorts while prepping the sausages and peppers and it was this; I am a 64 year old gay man who spends most of his time with (mostly straight) 20, 30, and 40-somethings, enjoys it very much, and the feelings are mutual.  Is there something a bit strange here?  Men my age usually seek out others in their age group and I suppose I would have as well, except all the friends of my youth died of AIDS.

More later. But right now...Time to shower, shave, and attempt to pull it together for the party tonight.


NYC:Abandoned City Hall Subway Station Visible Again

I remember seeing this once back in the 70s when there were constant problems or fires on subways causing re-routing of trains quickly.  No one believed what I said I saw. How grand it was, even unlit. There was no such station, they said.  Well, here you go.  (click image to embiggen.) Vindicated after 4 decades.  I love stories like this, but you knew that.

If you ride the 6 train to the end of the line and get off at the Brooklyn Bridge stop, you're missing out on something incredible. As the train loops around to go back uptown, it passes through an abandoned and beautifully preserved City Hall station from 1904.
The city closed the station in 1945, mostly because at its height only 600 people a day used it, and because the loop created an unsafe gap at the platform. In 1995 the city vowed to restore the site and turn it into a part of the transit museum, but those plans were scrapped years later.
The station is still not open to the public, but there's a trick you can use to see it for yourself. Until recently the MTA would force passengers to get off before the train made the loop, but now passengers are allowed to stay on. So the next time you reach the end of the line, keep going. And check out these amazing photos courtesy of John-Paul Palescandolo and Eric Kazmirek.
The photos are amazing, as you'll see HERE.

Monday, December 6, 2010

There's Holiday Good News, and Then...

The jaw is much better, thanks for all the well wishes - though not completely healed - I can actually chomp a festive sandwich on a baguette without real pain.

Work has been going well though last weekend was a bit slower than usual - being the weekend after Thanksgiving, it's always so - but the restaurant and the town took on the air of the Season.

The staff was buzzing all day about the Christmas Party tomorrow evening and staff of both restaurants are getting excited and looking forward to a good time.  The bash is happening at a relatively new restaurant opened by the owners of a well-established, upscale eatery in town  I purchased my "gift" for some unknown family member and I hope I chose well.  Though I probably won't be present for the gift exchange ( occurs too late for me) I am sure I will hear about it in the days to come.

Received two lovely Christmas/Holiday cards from friends who recently moved to Florida and others living now in Connecticut. It was grand to hear from them, but both cards had to be forwarded to the new address. Either they didn't received the original address change, or forgot about it.  Fortunately, they sent current email addresses, so I can update them with a personal note, as well as my own Holiday Wishes.

On the other hand, it has turned very cold with high winds, and snow is forecast for the tonight and tomorrow.  However, I am without a proper winter coat.  My old one was rendered unwearable last February after the third blizzard when I fell in the snow and ice and it was ripped beyond repair.  And you know, even in February, all the stores were already hawking their spring collections with not a winter coat in sight. I've had to drive to and from work all weekend (embarrassing) for that reason, so tomorrow I go on another expedition.  Last week I checked out L.L Bean, they're leaving the area with little to offer; Eddie Bauer had slim pickings, too. My options are growing thin, but I am sure I will come up with something both affordable and warm prior to the party tomorrow night. Or, so I hope.

If this snow "event" becomes more than flurries, or a dusting, it's likely this Cajun will huddle under the covers most of the day enjoying music, then perhaps enjoy an olive before venturing over to the party venue where I hope to take a few pictures of the event and friends.

And so it goes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Disney's Really Unreal Town.

This is uber creepy as 21st century Americans continue to scare the bejeebus out of me. Could adults really believe this would come to pass? Are Americans really stoopid enough to buy into a seemingly perfect community, like those imagined by Uncle Walt, or the Christianists building a full size Ark - to include dinosaurs- (where are the plans?) and believe that all the country's warts, underbelly, and realities would not intrude?  Really?

Yep, I guess they are. When I first read about this "American Small Town" I thought it more a gimmick than anything serious.  But now, Jeez, real adults bought into this and believed everything would be like a week at Disney World (except 24/7) and all problems of the real world would not intrude on their lives.  It just boggles the mind. NYT:
RARELY has a town been conceived and constructed in the glare of publicity and aura of hope that greeted Disney’s master-planned, picture-perfect village of Celebration in central Florida. Expectations were so high that, in November 1995, 4,000 people entered into a lottery for the chance to win the right to pay 25 percent over the market price to move into one of the first 500 or so homes.
Many of those pioneers expected Celebration to recreate the ideal of Disney World just a few miles away, not for a weeklong holiday, but for 52 weeks of the year. They thought their children would get straight A’s at the model school and that there would never be a weed in their lawns. For the solidly middle-class, overwhelmingly white population, this was the adventure of a lifetime, the chance to start over in a town paved with great expectations.
Reality seemed to catch up with the Utopian village, which Disney gave up control of a few years ago, when residents awoke on Monday morning to find that one of their neighbors, a 58-year-old retired schoolteacher, had been murdered. The yellow crime-scene tape surrounding his condo contrasted with the nearby town square, which was decorated for Christmas and awash in holiday music from speakers hidden in the foliage. Then, on Thursday, another resident fatally shot himself after a standoff with sheriff’s deputies. The apparently unrelated deaths showed the world what people in Celebration already knew: life behind the town’s white picket fences wasn’t perfect after all.
It's a small, ugly world, after all.  And, there is no escaping it.  You must work to change it without running away. No matter how much you spend to try to gloss over everything that disturbs you, it will always be waiting where ever you go.  You cannot outrun what you helped create.

The rest is HERE.

And so it goes.

Travel Caturday

It's cold here!  More later.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Video: Six Flags New Orleans Abandoned Since Katrina

Don't know how long this video will remain online. The videographer yanked it a few days after its initial post.  The reason is unknown. It's back, for now.

We all know what joyous place an amusement park is when filled with people, but few of us know what it's like when empty, or deserted - like this. They never cleaned up, or even came back. Everything is just as it was when they shutdown a few days before Katrina.

The aspect ratio of this video is too large for this format and resizing it would do the film a great injustice, so please go and view this interesting bit of  wasteful history.

Abandoned Six Flags New Orleans Tour.

The park is scheduled to be demolished in January 2011.  Words fail.

And so it goes.
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