By special request –
The Systems Guy has known me for over a decade. He appears at the doorway of my cubicle today to do some hour-long higher form of magic, during which my workday comes to a close. He has come to our office with two new assistants. He tells me his last assistant spent ten minutes talking with me and developed an embarrassing crush. I tell the Systems Guy I’m crush-proof, but I still have to leave and my stuff is on the other side of him.
Tata: I bicycled to work. See?
SG: That’s a bicycle helmet?
Tata: Yup, and that’s my basket.
SG: I just thought you were special.
Tata: Special or Special? Because I am special.
SG: Well, Special, obviously and specially padded.
Tata: Co-workers! Co-workers! Systems Guy thinks my job is so stressful I might get a concussion sitting at my desk.
Co-workers: We kind of have a betting pool. So: yeah.
I could write you a lengthy exhortation to action or I could urge you forward in a few simple words, but I could not speak more urgently or eloquently than the formidable Digby, issuing this clarion call. The time has come for us to hold our presidential candidates accountable. It’d be great if we could hold our war criminals accountable, but you have to crawl before you can rendition an entire administration to the Hague.
Please read Digby:
Scott Horton has announced a new initiative that I think is hugely important as we move into the general election season. It may be the most important foreign policy agenda item of all and yet it’s one that all the candidates are loath to talk about in any detail and which the press seems determined to let them elude.
In its self-declared war on terror, the Bush Administration overturned an American legacy that stretched back to General Washington’s orders at Trenton and Princeton in 1776. The administration repudiated the order that the first and greatest Republican president issued in the heat of the Civil War, in 1863, prohibiting torture and official cruelty. The consequences have been nothing less than disastrous …
The moral issue hovering over the 2008 election is the Bush Administration’s embrace of torture as a tool of statecraft. This mistake must be thoroughly repudiated, and the nation must undertake a vow never to repeat it. And this issue should not be allowed to divide the nation as a premise of partisan rancor. There is hope in this election year to reverse one of the most fateful decisions in our nation’s history–the decision after 9/11 to disregard America’s historic values and to use torture in the “war on terror.”
All the remaining Presidential candidates–John McCain in the Republican Party, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party–have publicly stated their opposition to the use of torture. Now each of these presidential candidates must get their parties to adopt at their Conventions a party platform plank that returns America to its historic position of absolutely rejecting torture–anywhere, on anyone, for any reason.
The initiative is called No Torture, No Exceptions. As Digby explains, No Torture, No Exceptions means:
Reaffirming America’s commitment to existing federal laws and international treaties that ban torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under all circumstances.
Renouncing all legal interpretations and executive orders that redefine torture and permit such acts as sensory or sleep deprivation, stress positions, sexual humiliation, mock executions.
Enforcing full transparency of information about how America treats any and all detainees held by our personnel and those in our employ anywhere in the world.
Rejecting and abolishing the practice of rendering detainees abroad.
Establishing a single standard of interrogation procedures to apply to all persons held in U.S. custody or by those under U.S. control, whether C.I.A., military, or civilian.
Treating our detainees as we would have others treat detained Americans.
It’s truly the least we can do.
I’ve been a little tense lately. Yesterday at the family store, I re-wrapped a wedding gift twice because I kept tearing the double-thick formal paper when I folded hospital corners with extreme prejudice. Though Pete manned the register at the toy store while I womanned the till in the gift shop and we love working together, it was a long day. After work, we bicycled to my house, drove to his, gently wedged a tree into my trunk and planted it in Mom’s backyard two towns away. By the time we got home, leftover Chinese under one arm, we were exhausted, determined and scheming a scheme. As we’d bicycled to the stores in the morning, I was carrying so much weight in my messenger bag I could barely breathe, let alone pedal, and damn it, I was not doing that again.
You know that moment when you get over yourself in a big way? It’s strange, really. You’re marching down life’s highway in fetching Ferragamos with your dogs barking for ages and finally – finally – you think ‘Hey, maybe Adidas and sweat socks wouldn’t cut out my still-beating heart and who the fuck invented pantyhose anyhow, the Marquis de Sade?’ You reluctantly switch to flats and learn to live without podiatric agony. The sun comes out and angels sing. Even so, you look back and wonder what took you so long.
When I couldn’t breathe – and thus could hardly utter topical dirty words – suddenly I was completely, totally over my reluctance to put a basket on my bicycle.
This morning, we ran errands. While Pete picked up bagels, I stood on a one-way street and epoxied a finger puppet to my car’s antenna. Pete was and remains skeptical, but I have every confidence that in the seas of look-alike white cars and gray cars through which I sail to purchase my elitist arugula, which until recently was a peasant lettuce, I will easily navigate to my own white car now that I’ve glued a five-inch irridescent grasshopper to the antenna. It might’ve been more fun to affix gold-painted macaroni to the roof but imagine the glare. By the same token, I dare you to NOT imagine me pedaling around town with a megaphone, instructing people to surrender Dorothy. As you can see here, Drusy was very helpful as Pete assembled the basket.
Lovely Topaz basked in the sun during all the commotion, which I understood because I made the mistake of putting down the camera and nodding off for two hours. The day was gorgeous. We’d gone walking around Lake Carnegie and sat on a lock in lazy afternoon sunlight. We drank our Joint Juices and read all the plaques. We stopped at a farmer’s market wedged into a tiny house on Princeton’s Nassau Street and picked brussell sprouts and lemons for grilling. By the time we got home, I could barely hold the camera.
Then we took lazy catnaps in golden afternoon light.
The leaves now obscure view of the city across the river, which is just as well because leaves also damp noise. The construction on Route 18, now in its eight hundredth year, encroaches closer and closer upon the domain of the river people. Any day now, busboys will be driving bulldozers, if for no other reason than that if I wake up in a drainage pipe domecile and find a gassed-up Caterpillar plus keys, obviously that’s a gift from God.
Pete and I are about to start work on the bathroom at his house. This means we’re going to pull down tile and walls, replace all kinds of mossy, moldy things, retile, repaint. In between, unaffected fixtures will be plastic-coated to vapor-barrier perfection, and my homework is eye-popping exposure to Holmes On Homes. My new mantra is does it meet code? and I worship at the feet of Norm Abram, High Priest of the New Yankee Workshop. It’s also possible the bathroom’s too small a space in which to unleash our combined demo fury, and I’ll spackle the kitchen because, dude, I totally rock the 100 grit sandpaper without chipping my high-gloss sea-green manicure.
This tree by the economics building was pink two weeks ago and today is is luxuriously green. Graduations are finally over. The little dickenses have departed for parts unknown, which is good for me. For the next week, those of us who actually live here can park our cars without a fist fight. After that, the town will be overrun by summer students who flunked geometry the first time, and these paying sweathogs park, sometimes on a z-axis. In June, New Brunswick looks like a festival of emergency orange traffic cones so in September garages are still standing.
I can’t explain that.
If you have recently arrived at Poor Impulse Control, welcome. The first thing to know is my relationship with Blogger is tenuous at best and hostile on a normal day; the second thing is that I have all the patience of a charging rhino. Last night, Blogger whacked me a few times and I lost interest in fighting. Coincidentally, Pete arrived at home and I developed a great interest in asking how his day went. Yesterday’s post is draft writing, a sketch. I’m going to leave it up as a warning to the other posts: See what happens when Blogger fucks with me? Underdeveloped comedy! Now bring me something stationary and herbaceous.
Speaking of cleaning, I am. My bathroom is now relatively, temporarily pawprint-free and I’ve lectured the cats on their filthy habits. Sheets and towels tumble n the dryer. The vacuum beckons, but between tasks, I notice that people on television are speaking someone’s language, but it might not be mine. Here’s an example:
What the hell’s that about? What did that finger action mean? Am I stupefied by bleach fumes?
Pete, who forgets to be scared at the right moments, has taken a shift or two at the family toy store. For my sisters, this works out great because if they get mad at him they’ve got me as the off-premises enforcer and on-premises comic relief. On Sunday, the town turned out for a street fair. Pete and I brought crunchy snacks because things will go right and things will go wrong and my family members will – you’re not going to believe this – forget to eat. Anyway, we worked like a team of huskies inside and outside the stores. I overheard stuff.
Woman: I have to say it. I don’t like pizza.
Man: Well -
I ran out to the tent, where Pete and my niece Lois were describing gardening hats to young mommies pushing strollers. “He said, ‘Well, it’s not like you’re a COMMUNIST.’” Later, clouds gathered and a monsoon drowned the street fair. We had a great time noshing on grapes and arguing with carrot sticks and making plans huddled around the salsa. When the sun came out, Pete and I walked home and took a nap.
As I run around the family store during a town-wide street fair, Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, sends this report, disguised as a plea for assistance:
I don’t know much about history. I don’t know much trigonometry, starting with for example what it even is. And I’ll tell you another thing I don’t know. I do not know nor can I begin to understand why in this day and age you can open up an art magazine and see that an art critic, like my brother, has written about a painter, like my other brother, who has made a painting of some pieces of fruit. I understand that in past centuries it was a mark of class, a status symbol, to own paintings, and an equal if not superior mark of sophistication to be able to afford art lessons for your kids and to display their paintings of pieces of fruit on the wall the same way we stick them with magnets onto the refrigerator today. But it’s two thousand eight. Two thousand and eight years since those guys killed that other guy. Who, I ask you, in this day and age, goes to art school, graduates, moves out of their dorm and gets an apartment, buys a bed, sleeps in it, then wakes up in the morning, brushes their teeth, possibly even with Rembrandt, the famous Dutch toothpaste, goes to the art store, buys a canvas and some paints and a brush, goes home and opens up the fridge and takes out some pieces of fruit and arranges them on the table and says yeah. There are many beautiful landscapes and cityscapes out there. There are many beautiful people and some lovely animals too. There’s a world full of things I can choose to paint that will allow me to reach out and try to capture in my own small way the beauty and the grandeur of creation, the humming current of life, of love, of holiness that surges through the natural world. Furthermore, it being two thousand eight and our having abstract art now, I’m not even confined to expressing that beauty by painting images of things that actually exist. But what I’m going to choose, what I’m going to decide is going to be a really meaningful and significant experience for me to paint and for other people to subsequently look at, is this small pile of pieces of fucking fruit. Someone explain to me, please, who are these people? Somebody help me understand!
P.S. By the same token, some people look at a dog and see not a worthy subject for a portrait but an as yet uncooked entree.