At Home They Could Be Anyone

I’ve let twenty years of Limbaugh’s bullshit go by without comment because ignoring that noise is better for one’s sanity than engaging, but after yesterday, he should be hounded to the edge of society and shunned by outcasts. Media Matters For America:

…Rush took a caller who said the local police investigating the bus assault said today the attack was not racially motivated. Rush responded to these developments put out by the local law enforcement:

LIMBAUGH: I think the guy’s wrong. I think not only it was racism, it was justifiable racism. I mean, that’s the lesson we’re being taught here today. Kid shouldn’t have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses – it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama’s America.

I don’t even know what to say. That’s so offensive it’s hard to form a sentence in response. And yet, it is impossible to let that go by, because – finally, I see this now – ignoring Limbaugh is the same as silence, and silence equals consent.

Last night, Pete and I were talking this over when one of the tenants came home. I was blathering on a bit and the tenant interrupted.

Tenant: I just wonder why Rush would say that.
Tata: It doesn’t matter why. It’s so offensive there can be no reason for saying it.
Tenant: But I just wonder why he would say that.
Tata: No, there is no why that justifies saying this about those kids on that bus.
Tenant: This is like that thing in – what was it? – Paterson? where the town tried to impose a curfew and the ACLU filed suit but kind of shot themselves in the foot by admitting it was the black people selling all the drugs –
Tata: No, that’s not what happened. That’s backwards.
Tenant: Yeah, the ACLU got it backwards.
Tata: No, I’m not agreeing with you. I’m disagreeing with you. That is not what happened.

The American Civil Liberties Union has already successfully defeated several juvenile curfews in New Jersey courts, said Ed Barocas, legal director of the state ACLU. Adult curfews are usually associated with the imposition of martial law, which typically is restricted to emergencies, wartime or military occupation, according to the ACLU.

“An adult curfew is unprecedented in our state,” Barocas said.

“It’s just completely unheard of,” said Jon Shane, a professor of policing administration at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. “Not to mention being generally unconstitutional.”

I’m speechless, but not silent. I can’t ignore this anymore. Let’s start with the truth.

[Mayor Mark]Eckert said the city, police department and school officials will soon hold assemblies and communicate with parents and students in many ways about “character, good behavior and not tolerating bullies.”

Plans for these events grew out of the attack itself and Belleville Police Capt. Don Sax’s initial comment that the attack was racially motivated. By Tuesday, the department reversed itse;f and said the attack was a case of bullying.

Eckert said students aboard the bus told police that two students were involved in the attack.

“I can tell you preliminarily that the kids interviewed are not calling this a racial incident,” Eckert said. “They are calling it an attack by two boys who have been picking on kids, regardless of color, for a long time. They’ve been bullies.”

Eckert said Sax had “made a mistake. He let the media squeeze out an opinion (about the incident) instead of saying we don’t have all the facts. He made a mistake, but he’s normally a really good guy.”

And Sax should be fired. Kids on buses get into fights. Since we put cameras on buses we’ve taken all the suspense out of figuring out who threw the first punch. Yet, we still haven’t learned how to see for ourselves what happened or school authorities would have seen bullies pounding on a smaller kid and Sax would’ve known what to do. If they had, this would have been all over but the suspensions. But some fool shot off his mouth and released video. It’s all bullshit.

But then there’s Limbaugh. What can done about him now?

Regardless Of the Balance Life

Crooks & Liars:

Ezra Klein points out Baucus’s dilemma:

Max Baucus will release the Chairman’s Mark — the official first draft of his bill — later today. But things are not going according to plan. He’s got a bill full of the compromises meant to attract Republican support, but no Republican support. Not even Olympia Snowe, at this point, has committed to backing the bill.

Meanwhile, the framework has conceded enough to the GOP that it’s also losing Democratic support, including that of Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Finance Committee’s Health Care Subcommittee. And Rockefeller says that four to six Democrats on the committee feel similarly. Baucus is thus caught between a rock and a hard place. The absence of any Republican support makes it hard for him to justify his compromises. And his compromises make it hard for the Democrats on the committee to support his bill.

I do three stupid things before breakfast, have an attention span shorter than a sugar-shocked toddler and dated enough crazy people to fill a post office wall, but even I know a few things Max Baucus should learn:

1. It’s over between Max and the Republicans. When you still want ’em bad and hope they love you and wait up all night, Puddin’, even if they show up they’re on their way out the door. It’s sad and all, but stand up on your own two feet and walk. Walk, baby!
2. Some folks look human but ain’t. Look them in the eye and you’ll see it. When a man tells the world he’s going to vote against your legislation, believe it. He’s not bargaining. He’s dissing you in a deeply personal way, waiting for you to – again – walk away. Walk it, sugar!
3. We’ve seen the Republicans’ true colors for decades. I hate to quote Miss Oprah quoting Miss Maya Angelou, but it’s gotta be: When someone shows you their true colors believe them. Max – girl – your boots were made for walkin’.

Time and again, I watch the Democrats get out-maneuvered and I wonder: did these spineless fuckers not attend high school? Did they not have to stand up to bullies they’d have to face the next day? Did they not have to figure out how to push through crowds of lifeless dolts to get anything done? No?

Perhaps Congressional Democrats need a sophomore year in New Jersey public high schools to toughen them up. You know: because apparently governing has softened their skulls.

The City Tonight We’re Finding

Know what’s weird about Facebook, a platform for one liners so high anyone can swan dive? No one’s funny.

Old Man: [uncomfortable silence at kitchen table] Someone, tell a joke…

I can’t figure it out. The joint needs a piano, a player and a diva in a tutu. But not me. I’m all discombobulated. One of my relatives kept her children home from school so their delicate ears wouldn’t be assaulted by the President’s common sense message: work hard in school. I understand. She was raised by immigrants and she hates immigrants. She rails against Mexicans and goes to Mexico on vacation. She works in the healthcare field, has cancer and a $5000 annual deductible herself. It’s simple: she’s forgotten who she is and has lost her mind.

There’s a joke in there someplace.

I Will Sing What I Say

The bedroom door is painted and hanging in place, brightening the dark end of the second floor hallway. I’ll put another coat of brilliant white trim paint on the door where it is to touch up rough spots and to cover others where kamikaze bugs committed suicide in oddly large numbers. All the doors are white now, and though the job is only mostly finished, I don’t twitch like Adrian Monk in a pukey pre-school when I open my bedroom door and look out.

Between coats, I worked on emptying four more slide carousels. After the first two dusty and mildewy trays, I learned to work outdoors at a high rate of speed and to keep a handkerchief where I could grab it fast. One day, I hope to be able to show you specific pictures and tell you what I know about them, but I can never really tell you their stories. What I can tell you is that these pictures distill a part of our lives we don’t remember well, and show us as people we don’t know anymore. Let me give you an example: I had forgotten that Daria, Todd and I started out life as Dad’s models, and we were photographed often, doing anything, everything and nothing at all. In ten trays of slides and with at least six more to go, and with thousands of slides in cases, I have seen a dozen pictures of my nine-year-old self in a red plaid poncho posing against a neutral background, and I now recall that sometimes, when we had no plans, Dad set up cameras, lights and screens and took pictures of us over and over again, a little this way, a little that. Dad left the next year, and it was almost twenty years later that I found a Polaroid camera, took pictures of myself and forced myself to look, such was the aversion I had developed to seeing my own face. It was nearly unbearable to see myself again. I still have those pictures. It remains painful to look at them.

It is so literal: when Dad left, he took with him my ability to see myself, and I didn’t get it back until I held the camera.

In the last weeks of his life and in the middle of another story, Dad looked at me sideways and said, Sometimes, I made the story more interesting than it really was. I tossed my head and we moved on. I learned the hard way to wait for proof, to wait for him to show me what he really meant when he offered me promises. I learned that he sometimes exaggerated or omitted details, and didn’t answer questions he didn’t like. It was like growing up with the Little Prince for a father, and watch out for those damn migrating geese.

In 1972, Mom, Dad, Daria, Todd and I drove up to Prince Edward Island for that total eclipse Carly Simon sang about, and Dad photographed the whole thing. Yesterday, I emptied the tray of images comprising the eclipse. Dad showed Daria, Todd, Dara and me these slides with the proviso that we zip our lips. He was weak. His need to show us what happened, why he left us, where he went was great and his time was short. He told us that his pictures were good. Some of the professional photographers didn’t get images as good. A magazine we recognized but can’t remember bought one of his slides. “Paid for the whole trip,” he said. Yesterday, I brushed off the slides in this series and when I turned over one of them his name was printed in handwriting I didn’t recognize. Suddenly, the story seemed more plausible.

Today, I emptied a tray of bright, clear pictures of Paris, 1973. My heart ached. This is a message from our father, who left his young children in the spring and never came back. I spent over an hour with these pictures of places I’ve only seen in books, and later, I felt as if I’d returned to my home from a great distance. I felt as if I’d been dreaming. I looked up from my work at one moment and a woman pushing a baby carriage stopped, walked up the porch steps to ask what I was doing. She spoke with a thick Russian accent about wanting to make her own artwork, which she will when she figures out how to sift every day for a few minutes to herself. Mostly, I just listened to her, because new mommies are very lonely. She introduced herself and left. It was an odd encounter, but working on the porch, I see a lot of those. On Sunday morning, the neighbor Pete and I refer to as Mr. Loud was running around his lawn with his small children. His next door neighbor came outside and they proceeded to have this conversation twenty feet apart, at the tops of their lungs.


Meanwhile, five or six kids were running around, screaming at the tops of their lungs.


And one very patient, loud –


It was like a scene out of Edward Scissorhands. I’d seen the slides of Paris many times, but with so many of the other trays in poor condition the clarity of these images was startling. The Arc de Triomphe rises into a clear, deeply blue sky. The girders of Eiffel Tower cast stark shadows on a brilliantly green garden. And there’s Dad, with long black hair and a white print shirt. Who took the picture?

The other day, I remembered that the dark-haired man in the band looked so much like Dad that when we saw the album we asked if that was where he went on business trips. It’s a funny notion now, but it made perfect sense to our child-minds. He sent us cards, letters and presents from wherever he went: dolls, candy, wooden shoes. When he showed us the slides before he died, he was angry, impatient and he felt sick. No one was happy, and he wanted us to be quiet. We – even Dara, who was 15 in 2007 and had been to Paris herself – were old enough to enjoy the pictures, but no one did. It was all very tense. While we were looking at the slides from Helsinkii, one image of something mechanical, oddly beautiful and out of place on a street corner came up on the hastily erected screen. Everyone was quiet and puzzled. I said, “That’s a Wankel engine.” At any other moment in his life, Dad would have pointed at me proudly and announced to whoever was listening that I was indeed his kid. This time he said simply, “Yes, it is.”

When I saw this image yesterday, I saw myself.

A Stream Flows Restless To the Sea

My laptop just burped and took out a post. Huh. Such is my ennui that I can’t be mad. As Siobhan often observes: computers are trying to kill us. It is their spiteful, computery nature. I pity you, though, denied my brilliance. I mean, crap.

Tonight in the dehydrator: zucchini and tomatoes from our garden. Our tomatoes, though plentiful, were often hollow or had black spots. The growing season was tough on tomato plants: dry, wet for two months, then dry again. We could have used two more rain barrels, which I guess we’ll pick up over the winter somehow. Tomorrow, I’ll take down the last three plants. Later this week, Pete and I have a leaf mulcher to play with. I can’t wait to dress up like goalies and shred some foliage. If this is as awesome as it seems like it might be I’m putting flame stickers on our gardening gloves.

Tomorrow, I’m really looking forward to warming up the chisels and the heat gun and stripping our bedroom door. Eons ago, someone painted the door using brown sand paint, which is a giant pain in the ass to remove without the heat gun. I could sand until I retire and never get a splinter and chemicals make a big mess without making much progress. So it’s the heat gun, the smooth movements, the careful concentration and kicking myself when I forget and burn my hands. But: my rewards are time to think, which I love, and that all doors on the second floor will be matching bright white, which meets my obsessive-compulsive needs. I like to be the most disorderly thing in every room.

And Hide Her Away From the Rest

This eruption is known as the first major explosive eruption of rhyolite magma in nearly a century, since the 1912 eruption of Novarupta.[7] Although there have been rhyolitic eruptions in the southern section of the Southern Volcanic Zone in the past, these are relatively scarce and there is no historic rhyolitic eruption of the magnitude of Chatén.

Dad died 1 April 2007 and gave his children homework. I took home the trays of his slides, carefully wrapped in plastic bags, and in plastic bags, the trays of slides quietly suffered the continuing ravages of time and mildew. I’ve half-heartedly shopped for a slide scanner, but left my credit cards in my wallet because a good scanner is pricey and I had my doubts about me. Some of these damaged slides should be restored by professionals, which is also going to be expensive. On Tuesday, my laptop fell into a soap opera-grade coma and the next day, I found myself confused by having time on my hands. I don’t know what happened. I don’t remember having an idea, but I must have. Next thing I knew, I was up in the attic, grabbing the slide sorting light and two trays of slides, and down in the living room, brushing away mildew and decades of dust. The slides now sit in labeled archival pages in three-ring binders in the same order they were in the trays, with nine or ten trays to go.

I forget, sometimes, the only thing in my way is me.