Saturday, December 19


Mr. President,
While you are patting yourself on the back for the creation of a compromised bill, you have been fooled by your Chief of Staff. I understand that Mr. Emanuel thinks you have no problem with your base (you know-- the little people who worked so hard to put you in office because we believed in you.)

Rahm Emanuel is dead wrong.

Wake up and read the polls, Mr. President. You are rapidly losing your support thanks to your total bungling of this effort and the birthing of a bailout of the insurance cartel and a sell out to big pharma, so those two industries can continue to gouge the poor American public.

It's a DISGRACE!!!!!! We are mad as hell.

Instead of living up to the ideals you campaigned on, you have sold out to the corporations that are killing this country.

You are even worse than the Republicans.

Wednesday, December 16


Dear President Obama,
I just got an email from you asking me to contact my Senators to vote for your piece of crap health care “reform” bill.
The link to reply was –like your administration – defective and so here I am replying through your website and putting it up on my blog for the world to read if they care to.
1) I already called Schumer and Gillibrand to let them know how outraged I am by the Senate bill you allowed Lieberman to control and shape. And that I strongly urged them to vote against any bill without real reform.
2) I am just one of a vast number of disillusioned and furious progressives you have managed to alienate in less than a year. These people like me voted for you, donated to your campaign and worked for your election because we wanted real change. You have bitterly disappointed us.
3) Glen Greenwald of got it right. This piece of garbage that you are calling “reform” is exactly what you wanted. It’s a gift to the insurance cartel and big pharma. What’s more, it’s an insult to my intelligence to think that I am fooled into thinking this is some step forward instead of what it really is: worse than what we have now.
4) You are not “mybarackobama.” That person was apparently an apparition. The reality is quite the letdown.
Russ Feingold said it: “This bill appears to be legislation that the president wanted in the first place.” With everything you’ve done, you’ve signaled that real reform was never your goal. If it had been single payer would never have been off the table. That would have been the place to start.
What’s clear is that you’re more than willing to strongarm Democrats when it comes to endless war, but not for your own populace who continue to suffer and die under this horrible system which puts profits over people.
And the proof of all this can be seen in your flipflop over Dorgan’s amendment. When you were a senator and candidate you were all for re-importation of drugs so that the American people wouldn’t be gouged by big pharma. And then as president you cut a secret deal with the gougers and suddenly you’re against the Dorgan amendment. And THAT you were able to work the Democratic caucus to vote against. But there was no similar effort on behalf of a strong public option.
You signaled from the start that you were willing to sign any pile of flaming poo that you could slap the word “reform” on so that you could pat yourself on the back and call it a success.
I am disgusted!

Friday, December 4


Something my mother once said to my father stands out in my mind. He had come home complaining about some good deed he’d done that had gone unacknowledged. Mother said, “Did you do it to do it, or did you do it to be thanked?” That made quite an impression.

I adopted a US soldier to do it. It was a heart-warming segment on the Today show that turned me on to this organization which matches willing civilians with soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq who long for the comforts of home. A mother had signed up on behalf of her learning disabled son and the letters from the Middle East inspired the boy to work at his reading and writing. Today hooked them up with the gunnery sergeant by a remote and tears came to my eyes. Enchanted, I rewatched and signed up with

Soon I was assigned an Army corporal (initials: PA) who, much to my delight, had email access. We exchanged a bit of info, he telling me that he was from Haiti (that was a surprise) and deployed from Texas. He had no preferences for items, “anything would be great.” We sent each other pictures and I told him a little about my life in Manhattan, just me and my dog.

Quickly I assembled some care packages, using the helpful list supplied by AAUSS and their recommendations for what the soldiers like and need and what travels best. I tried to maximize my money with careful purchase of snacks, candies and toiletries. Friends generously contributed magazines and all kinds of goodies. (See photo.) I packed everything in USPO flat rate boxes which cost about $11 to ship to an APO address no matter how much one can stuff into it.
With some encouragement – PA didn’t get the chance, have the access, have the time, whatever – PA thanked me for the first two packages and the letter I sent. And I was happy. I knew English wasn’t his first language and that he was in a freaking war zone, so I really didn’t expect long or a lot of missives from him.

Still, I wasn’t prepared for what happened after I sent the third package: nothing. I mean silence. No emails in response to my queries. “PA, are you all right?” I worried. I began watching George Stephanopolous to check the casualty lists every Sunday. No PA.

Weeks turned into months and I began to think that he must have been wounded or something. I had three boxes of goodies waiting to be shipped and taking up valuable storage in my tiny flat. I decided that I would try one more email before trying to contact the Pentagon or someplace official.

To my shock, PA replied. He’s been in Florida since August. August?? Oh, and yeah, sorry, he didn’t write me. He’s been busy.

How did I feel? Glad that he wasn’t dead. But furious that he had treated me so rudely. I didn’t expect bouquets but neither did I anticipate a bucket of cold water in my face.

And it got worse. After I told PA that I still had care packages to ship, could he give me the name of a buddy in his unit? Oh, yeah, he emailed me a name. “Just use my address,” he said. But somehow I didn’t trust that. So I asked him for his buddy’s eddress. And then I emailed his buddy wanting a specific, spelled out address and to tell him I’d be sending packages.
My email to his buddy bounced.

A further email to PA telling him that his buddy’s email bounced was ignored. Bringing me full circle.

And so here I was with three flat rate boxes full of soap and magazines and no where to ship them. I advertised them under FREE STUFF on craigslist. Some people wrote and told me to take them to the USO. And others had ideas on how I could find some worthy recipient. One woman wrote that she wanted them for her sister-in-law who was deployed in Iraq and whose toddler she was caring for. That touched my heart and I wanted her to get them. Only she lives in Brooklyn with her own preschoolers. Yikes. Sorry. I couldn’t lug three boxes to Brooklyn.
I even was willing to give them to this illiterate who sent me a run-on unpunctuated series of words. But then he never followed up on the phone.

Then Joe wrote, sure that someone had already claimed these prizes, but hoping that he could fetch them to send to his brother in Afghanistan. He had documentation of his bona fides and even lived in the neighborhood and was able-bodied and willing to come get them. At last! And he was even on time and polite. Amazingly, he said, he hadn’t looked at craigslist in half a year. And there was my ad. Serendipity.

I asked him to please ask his brother to acknowledge the packages with an email that I could print out and share with my generous friends who have probably totally forgotten about their donations. But I want them thanked.

And no, they didn’t give me stuff to be thanked. They gave me things so that the days of some Americans very far from home could be brightened. And I am sure they were even if I never really heard about it as I had imagined and hoped.

And so I am left with my mother’s question: Did I do that nice thing to do it or to be thanked? And the truth is that I did it to do it and be thanked. Or at least not slapped in the face.

Tuesday, October 27


A wonderful light went out on Sunday morning. A cheerful little dog named Dudley who was much loved and is missed even more, left us.

He was fifteen and in bonus time, we knew. But we clung to the forlorn hope that he could rally in the face of a set of ailments so we could have him in our lives longer. As someone said, “A good dog never lives long enough.”

Dudley was found in a pouring rain sitting by a Houston road one day in 1995. A young woman stopped her car, opened her door and into her lap he hopped. She knew of a family who would give this large wet Yorkie a home, if his owners couldn’t be found. They had just lost their father suddenly and this little guy could help soothe their grief.

And he did. The two sisters of the three siblings lived in New York and brought him here where they would share him, a good plan for busy, social young women.

I ran into Dudley and Ensley, the older sister, on his first day in Manhattan as it happened. There began a friendship and a strong relationship as I became Dudley’s third mother, tasked with keeping him during the day. He soon was as happy and comfortable in my home as in theirs.

Dudley was a lover. He was a kisser. Slurp, slurp. And watch out because he could French you if you weren’t paying attention. He loved to eat! And he loved to sleep in the wine box beds I made for him, first here, and it proved so popular I made one for his home with Ensley. He would walk in and go straight to bed. I look over to it now and can’t believe I’ll never see him sleeping there again.
He was incontinent (that's a diaper in the photo) and had male pattern baldness late in life, poor guy. But he remained his silly, cheerful self to the end. He is missed terribly.

Monday, October 26


Sunday dawned gloriously sunny, the perfect raindate antidote to the wash out Saturday of the 19th Annual Tompkins Square Park Halloween dog costume contest. Only problem: it was also the day of the annual contest in Carl Schurz Park up here on the Upper East Side.

But for my friend, Lynne and her Brussels Griffon Gidget, there was no contest (so to speak.) And so to the East Village we went. Gidget in full mermaid get up and Macaroon in sombrero and taco suit. Barely into the park we were attracting many admirers with cameras. Maybe the taco would do well after all! I thought. Something none of my previous five years of competing in Carl Schurz ever did.

Entered in the 4th and last (and largest) group of competitors, Lynne and I were free to wander around the dog run to gawk at the cleverness of our fellow New Yorkers who clearly have a lot of time on their hands (and love of dressing up their dogs.) The people enjoying the outfits far more than the dogs (except the pugs.)

Macaroon caught a lot of eyes and soon there will be photos of him as a taco all over the net. People seemed impressed that I made his costume, which was Lynne’s idea. And she helped me with the basic jacket and some material to stiffen the taco shell sides, as well as some material that glistened and was perfect for the bits of onion. For green salsa, a piece of the glitzy fabric she used in Gidget’s mermaid tail. Plus another one in red. A wonderful reddish brown fabric I found would be the all important picadillo meat. A serving of guacamole from a pale green cotton and fabricated tomato bits out of red cotton cut into tiny pieces and wrapped around fiberfill. Some I adorned with pale fabric and yellow seed beads to make them more tomato-like. Very labor-intensive.

Through this process I wasn’t very sanguine. It didn’t look all that good, I thought and called Lynne to whine. She assured me that when she began making Gidget’s mermaid she felt the same way. And it had turned out so gorgeously. So I just continued. I had all the makings of the taco, including lots of tomatoes, green and red salsa, onions, dried beans, cheese shreds (yellow rick rack) and lettuce (strips of two colors of green cotton.) And I wanted the reassurance of Lynne’s advice as I glued the pieces together. But she was unavailable, so I just plunged ahead. It came out pretty well, I thought until, on my way to Lynne’s, I showed it to a neighbor. “What is it?” she said. Not encouraging. But Lynne liked it. And luckily, she had something to add: a tiny sombrero she happily lent us. That made Macaroon look like the Taco Bell Chihuahua, making me feel much more optimistic.

Our group was huge and featured so many great costumes: Hugh Hefner & a Playboy bunny on a bed! A Serta counting sheep. A Chia pet Schnauzer. Lynne and I assessed the competition: tough!

Still, our turn, we started down the “runway” to meet the judges, all women, who were pointing at the taco and laughing. Macaroon worked them good. He stopped at the first judge, stood on his hind legs and offered his total devotion as he so often does. He has the ability to make the recipients believe they are special. If you’re human, he loves you. So the judges clucked over how cute he is, asking if I made the costume.

Still, when the prizes were about to be announced, I was stunned to hear that first prize went to…The Taco!! Lynne also won! And by some remarkable coincidence we had scored the same prize: a dog bed from an East Village dog boutique. Plus we got two bottles of expensive dog shampoo!

“The shop’s on Avenue B,” said Lynne. “Let’s go get our prizes now.” So we removed the dogs’ costumes and started out of the park. No one was paying any attention to us now. We were just two women with dogs.

The dog beds we had won were lovely but huge, too big for our small dogs and miniature apartments. “Ah…” I said, “I hope I’m not being rude but because of the size of the bed, I’d really rather have one of these beautiful leashes.” No problem! And that’s how Lynne and I won some great new leashes. Now I have two and Lynne has her 49th.

I doubt we were missed in Carl Schurz although I would have enjoyed going to both events had the weather cooperated. Lynne’s convinced that Carl Schurz is fixed. Her costumes are amazing and despite multiple wins downtown, she, like me, has never won there.

Some of her fabulous costumes can be seen modeled by Gidget in INDOGNITO by Karen Ngo—Elton John, the majorette and the flamenco dancer. One of my losing efforts made it into that book, too. The Yorkie in the butterfly, sweet little Dudley. His companion, Macaroon, as the caterpillar, didn’t make the cut. And ironically, the caption for Dudley: “The caterpillar does all the work. The butterfly gets all the publicity.” ~ George Carlin. How true.

Friday, October 23


Mr. President,I am reading that your administration is working to WEAKEN the health care reform bill in Congress, by your slavish and utterly ridiculous devotion to pursuing the one vote of Olympia Snowe. Why? This senator has made it clear she-- like the rest of the GOP-- has no interest in reform and is casting her lot with the insurance cartel instead of the American people.

I hear that you are pushing two ideas, one worse than the other. The opt-out proposal is bad. But the trigger is much worse. Anyone with a brain knows that a "trigger" is meaningless. The cartel has had decades and has done nothing but prove their rapacious greed. Why should they be given another day let alone another year before they have consequences? Especially considering that any bill produced now wouldn't go into effect until 2013 anyway!!

We did not work as hard as we did to elect you and majorities in the Congress in order to see such incredible cowardice!! The public wants a STRONG PUBLIC OPTION!! We don't want bipartisanship at the expense of a good bill. WE DON'T GIVE A FLYING FLIP FOR FREAKING OLYMPIA SNOWE AND HER ONE STUPID VOTE!!!Do not do this, Mr. President. Do not think that we progressives are just a chorus of little idiots sitting here to echo anything you say. We expect more from you. And a "trigger" ain't it!!!

We wanted SINGLE PAYER and as far as we are concerned, the public option IS the compromise! You started from a weakened position. Don't compromise anymore!Why do you think we have reacted so positively to Rep. Alan Grayson?? Not that I expect you to speak like him. But we like him because for once a Democrat has a set of balls!! He's not the usual weak, wimpy nambypampies we have had to endure! That's why he's a sensation. You should pay attention to him!

When I think of the crap the GOP rammed through with fewer numbers, I could scream! Did Tom DeLay care about "bipartisanship"? NO!! They got their creepy agenda through.What is wrong with Democrats! Why are you so FREAKING WEAK?????????

I agree with Rep. Anthony Weiner (another strong Congressman you should be emulating) who said that the opt-out feature would be acceptable ONLY if it would kick in after the public option program had been up and running for a few years. That would make it hard for a state to take it away from the citizens. Otherwise, why should be the red state citizens all be punished? Also, the insurance cartel and their lobbyists and money would descend on state capitals like locusts.

I am hoping against hope that all of these leaks to the press are part of some elaborate and sophisticated chess game designed to help us get real reform and a robust public option.If I am wrong and in fact you turn out to be as pusillanimous as these leaks suggest, I will be more devastated, demoralized and depressed than I will be able to say.

Thursday, October 15

Speaking Truth to Power

I've written so many passionate emails to Washington. Many to the President. And to Senators Schumer, Gillibrand, Reid, Whyden, Franken and Baucus. Also Representatives Maloney, Pelosi, Grayson and Weiner, two of my heroes.
I should have saved them all along. They'd be a window into my mounting frustration with the process which continues unabated. This morning I fired off these two to the Senate Majority Leader and to the President:
to Senator Harry Reid:

Here's what we Americans care about: REAL health reform WITH A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION open to all Americans.
Here's what we DON'T care about: 60 votes, bipartisanship, reconciliation, Republicans and their potential filibusters.
You make a huge mistake to think that we want a bill at any price. A bad bill is worse than none.
Why in the world are you courting Olympia Snowe? She's made it plain she has no interest in what WE want: a public option. One vote?? She has power over 307 million people?? This is absurd! The GOP is there to obstruct and cowtowing to them is foolish and weak. They did more to wreck this country with fewer votes. They never operated from a position of weakness that you seem to adopt. It's so frustrating!
Why isn't there a real progressive on the panel, like Sen. Harkin??
Ask yourself: Why did Rep. Alan Grayson cause such a storm and gather so much support? It's because he has a SPINE! GUTS!!! That's what we want. Not weenies!! We worked to get you people the numbers and you turn into a bunch of weenies!!
Be bold not tepid. I heard you used to be a boxer. Why don't you act like one? You seem more like the canvas now.
Why aren't you listening to the American people? Blow this opportunity and you will lose at the polls and the country will suffer if the GOP gets back in power.

My only hope is with the House.

And to Barack Obama:

Dear Mr. President,
The Senate has 60 votes. So why is Olympia Snowe so important? She's one vote from a tiny state, for crying out loud! Did the Republicans do anything this stupid when they had fewer numbers?? This is absurd!
First mistake was compromising singlepayer and starting negotiations from a point of weakness. The public option is the line the sand. And if you don't work for a STRONG, ROBUST PUBLIC OPTION, you will have totally betrayed your base, those of us who worked so hard to get you and your Democratic colleagues into power.
And we didn't do all that for you to give the power away to freaking Olympia Snowe. Who cares about her? Who cares about how many votes it takes as long as it's a majority?
Who is giving you advice, Mr. President? I think you should be listening to two people: Wendell Potter (insurance cartel whistleblower) and Rep. Alan Grayson. We Dems responded to him because he's plain-spoken and tells the truth and because he has balls, something it seems that many Democrats sadly lack. And I'm not talking about Speaker Pelosi who has shown admirable fortitude. I'm speaking of the many weenies in the Democratic party who do resemble Neville Chamberlain. In this analogy the GOP is Hitler.
Perhaps you would do well to look at a video of you in New Jersey this summer with Gov. Corzine. THAT'S the man we elected. That's who we want to see!
Be bold! We don't want any old health reform bill. We want a GOOD health care bill.

Tuesday, September 22


Faux Noise getting to you? Are you sick of the lies, distortion and cheering for the Right Wing while pretending to be "fair and balanced"?
Take out your frustrations here. Play a hilarious and rousing session of Whack-A-Wingnut!

Monday, September 21


My dream of many years came true the other night. At long, long last I was on my way to hear Michael McDonald sing in person. On the crosstown bus, my friend Lynne and I could not believe the woman a few rows ahead on her cellphone in a loud, obnoxious conversation. We rolled our eyes and exhaled when she finally exited. Lynne remarked on how the energy instantly changed for the better.
Outside the Beacon Theater we got some passersby to take our photo under the marquee. They, too, were headed inside, both Boz Scaggs fans. (I ran into a few of them, one who traveled in from Pennsylvania and had just seen Boz two weeks ago. That's a fan!)
As Lynne and I handed in our tickets I remarked “Baby Boomer City!” Was there anyone in the audience under 40? I don't think so. (Check out my photo of the crowd!) Michael McDonald jokes about AARP, too, and the audience erupted in laughter.
Having splurged on my dream, we had great seats in the orchestra of the really beautiful Beacon which has quite a few bars, by the way. And unlike Broadway theaters, the audience can bring their drinks to their seats.
Suddenly Michael and his band casually strolled onstage and launched into “I Keep Forgetting.” This amazing moment was interrupted by two latecomers, cocktails in hand, who made us get up so they could park their kiesters in the two seats to my right. Immediately Mrs. Kiester began a loud commentary which continued through “Real Love,” “Sweet Freedom,” “Yah Mo B There” as well as the Motown covers, “Minute by Minute” and “What a Fool Believes” and “It Keeps You Running” and even the very rousing “Takin’ It to the Streets.”
The only thing worse than sitting next to this couple would have been to have been behind them. So when the intermission ticked down I suggested hopefully to Lynne that perhaps they had left. “No way!” scoffed Lynne. “They’re Bats!”
Bats? “Bridge and Tunnel people. This is a big night for them and they’ll be back and they’ll have fresh drinks.”
And damn if she wasn’t right. And they were again late, again making us get up for them after Boz Scaggs had taken the stage and launched into “Jojo.” Her loud talking continued. Exasperated, I snapped “Would you please be quiet!” She laughed. My annoyance was amusing to this bitch.
And then sometime during “Look What You’ve Done To Me” these two middle-aged bats began to make out!
I nudged Lynne who commented, “One more drink and she’ll fuck him right here.”
“Now we know who the woman on the phone was calling,” I said.
Not a moment too soon they were climbing over us to leave early. Arrive late, twice, leave early. Charming. They missed three excellent encores which Michael and Boz shared. Perhaps they didn’t want to miss the train to Syosset where they have, one presumes, a CD player, bottles of liquor and a bed. And where they could have done everything they did in the Beacon. Except they wouldn’t have annoyed me.
The concert was great despite the bats. The audience enthusiastically lept to its feet for favorite numbers like “What a Fool” and we all sang “whoa-oh-oh-oh!” after every time Boz sang “Lido….” Another high point was the nearly unadorned voice of Michael McDonald on “You Don’t Know Me” the Eddie Arnold song accompanied only by keyboards. It was stunning. If I’d had the choice, I’d have had him sing more of his pre-Motown songs like “I Gotta Try” and “Love Lies” and “If That’s What It Takes” and “On My Own” or “Let Me Go, Love.” But that’s niggling. I was happy, no, thrilled, after all these years just to breathe the same air as Michael McDonald. It was awesome.

Tuesday, September 15


This morning’s email was it. I just had to blog about Ichabod, a man I knew when he was a boy in my class. I’m calling him Ichabod only because there were no Ichabods in my high school.

I hadn’t been in touch with Ichabod since graduation. And not much even before that. We traveled in different cliques. He was a popular jock who dated cheerleaders. I would have loved to have been a cheerleader. Only I didn’t make the squad. Instead I settled for writing a feature column in the weekly school paper, among other fun extra-curricular activities which paled in my teenaged brain to wearing a short skirt and jumping around in front of crowds.

Ichabod, to my surprise, left a nice note to me on So I wrote back and a flurry of email ensued. At first they were fun and interesting. He, like me, is single although living on the other side of the country. And I induced him to become active on Facebook and post his photo. I tried to talk him into playing Lexulous, Facebook’s version of Scrabble, long distance with me.

Ichabod sent me a photo of himself standing before an array of paintings, two of which seemed possibly to be of Christ and the others were more along the lines of Elvis on velvet. That he was no longer the tall skinny boy with the luxuriant head of hair wasn’t surprising, although he’s still tall. And while his looks didn’t put me off, the little gallery behind him gave me pause.

And then things became really weird. He wrote that I should see the condo he was in (without explanation of being a different place). And in all caps he screamed “I have a custom coffee grinder & and ice cream scooper!!”

But that wasn’t the end of the strangeness. He attached a photo entitled “Bavarian” to download. Up came an out-of-focus image of Ichabod and some woman. They seemed happy and nowhere near Bavaria. Unless Bavaria is now near the Equator. Who was she? I wouldn’t have been surprised if it were his mother rather than the girlfriend it turned out to be.

He had asked about a photo in my Facebook album. (I repeat, in my Facebook album, not a photo I sent him.) Who, he inquired, was the gentleman in the beard? “An ex-boyfriend with whom I’ve remained friendly.” Ichabod’s reaction was that we made a handsome couple. “I’m sure his wife would be ever so pleased” was my sardonic reply. Except mails don’t convey tone very well. And I’m not big on emoticons.

Then Facebook upset him. Help! he emailed. People were contacting him! So I explained how to control what would pop up on one's page. But it was all too much for him, I guess and he became my first and only Facebook friend to quit. I didn’t even get a game of Lexulous out of it! So he’s gone from Facebook and I doubt that he tweets. But the good news is that he’s not apt to find out about this.

My responses to his unusual missives became short and apparently didn’t encourage correspondence which mercifully slowed to a trickle. So I hadn’t heard from him in a while until this morning. Prompted by the death of Patrick Swayze, Ichabod was moved to write this: “Just so sad….I am so sad.”

I wouldn’t have taken Ichabod to be a big fan of Dirty Dancing or Ghost. Weren’t those chick flicks?

I don’t know. He seemed so normal in school. I never would have imagined that Ichabod would turn out to be so weird.

Well, I have to go now. I have to figure out some sort of reply to Ichabod. Consoling words, I guess. It might take the rest of the morning to come up with something.

Saturday, September 12


I’ve been watching the TODAY show broadcast of the events as they took place eight years ago. A day as blue and clear as this one is dank and rainy. I’ve actually not seen this broadcast before. I wasn’t home to see it, which I typically would have been.

But that day was Primary Day and I had signed up to be a poll-watcher for the Board of Elections. I reported to a location in a church hall in SoHo about twenty blocks (approximately one mile) north of the World Trade Center. Around 7am when I went out for coffee, I looked up at the twin towers glinting in the bright morning sun. They never were favorite buildings the way the Chrysler and Seagram Buildings are, but they were beautiful that morning I remember thinking.

Sitting around, drinking coffee, reading the paper, I waited to my name to be called and sent to a polling place in Manhattan. Instead someone said that planes had crashed into the WTC. I stood in Sullivan Street and watched in shock and horror. The towers were on fire and billowing smoke. Incredible! I didn’t know what else to do, so I went back inside to wait. Stupid, as I think now. Next someone said that a tower had fallen. I went back out and the north tower, stood still burning, an enormous cloud behind it.

“The south tower must be in that cloud,” I thought. It was so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that that was all that was left of the tower. I went back inside again somewhat robotically. An announcement told us that the Primary was postponed, a priest prayed briefly before we were dismissed with the news that the subway system was shut down. One woman grumbled that the priest’s prayer was Christian and not ecumenical. I wanted to slap her but refrained.

Instead I took my things, felt grateful that I was wearing sneakers and set out north for a very long walk home. As I went up West Broadway past many, many people out on the street. One man was painting the scene. Others had cameras. It was surreal. I keep turning around and looking at the smoking tower. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Sudden screams. I turned again in time to see the north tower’s collapse. I just went back to walking north in the streets which were either full of people not cars or else there was gridlock. In the whole six mile route which I covered in a remarkable 90 minutes, stopped only twice for lights. I just kept walking.

At home I turned on the tv and called my sisters. Both were shocked to learn I was anywhere near downtown. My Arizona grandnieces were in tears, hysterically watching the news, worried about me.

How quiet the city was in the days following. No planes in the sky. Little traffic on the streets, the entrances to the island blocked. Dump trucks full of sand were parked on East End Avenue to protect Gracie Mansion, the official Mayoral residence. And on one night, I was walking my dog when suddenly a long caravan of plows and dump trucks appeared all headed to Ground Zero. I watched them go by, seemingly endlessly, sadly thinking about their task of digging out the rubble.

I think that was night when the wind shifted and for the first and only time, that Thursday, the smell assaulted my nose. It came in through my open living area window. I had never smelled anything so acrid and horrible. I knew instantly it was from the WTC and it was horrendous even six miles away.

In the first day the neighborhood became papered with MISSING flyers. They were posted on street corners and bus shelters and store windows. Missing, missing, missing. So many missing. Flowers and candles appeared in tree wells in honor of the lost. So many neighbors never coming home again.

My fire station lost NINE firefighters. Nine! In one day! Their photos are posted in frames and every year neighbors leave flowers and candles. My neighborhood is dotted with plaques and engraved stones naming individuals lost that day. They are everywhere.

I read that an Afghani restaurant down in the 20s was suffering misplaced blame and I deliberately went to have lunch there in support of yet more innocent victims. It happened to be nearby the armory serving as a place for the relatives of the missing.

There even more missing flyers were plastered on walls. Just one after the other. The grief was palpable.

And uptown any encounter always began with a query—did you lose someone? Do you know someone who is lost? Where were you on Tuesday morning?

Friday night was the candlelight vigil. New Yorkers were encouraged to sit on their stoops or outside their highrise with candles to honor the thousands who perished. Sobering to look up and down the block and see so many people in hushed conversation, little lights flickering.

And all over the city flags bloomed. On buildings, from windows, decals on buses. The American flag was everywhere.

And for days after the attacks I think I must have been in shock because I didn’t cry. Not until the moment, Saturday I think it was, when on television I heard the Queen’s band strike up the Star Spangled Banner. Very touching.

I watch the footage of the burning tower, the plane's collision and fireball, the first collapse and then the second, all of it still seems unreal to me now as it did then. I've heard others say that the events appeared as if it were a movie. And that's how it felt to me then. A horror film. Even with my own eyes seeing it, feeling it at the time. Still so unreal. Oh, how I wish it were.

Friday, September 11


09.09.09 The penultimate time this century that the month, day and year will line up again like that. After 10.10.10, that’ll be it. If you failed to notice that factoid, it’s now too late.
So here are some other little factoids which might have escaped your consciousness.

An elderly Amish widower slept with a prostitute. That pro and her BF then told the widower that they had installed a camera in his bedroom and that photos of the tryst would be put up on the internet unless he paid them $67,000.

First question: where in a spartan Amish bedroom would one supposedly hide a camera?

Second question: while such photos on the internet would be humiliating for anyone, why would it embarrass this Amish man? His family, his friends, his congregation are all on Facebook? That’s crazy. Amish don't have toasters let alone computers.

Third question: why $67,000? Why would the blackmailers choose such a specific, odd amount? This is reminiscent of the “ransom letter” left for JonBenet Ramsay’s parents (which I still believe was written by Patsy) and which demanded the exact amount of John Ramsay’s bonus.

I’m not suggesting this extortion was an inside job 'though. That would make no sense at all. But then neither does this caper. (Maybe they got a bunch of payments and that's what they added up to.)

A Chinese woman paid $582,135 for a Tibetan mastiff. She wanted this male dog to mate with her own female Tibetan mastiff. The dog arrived by train and was picked up in a limo.
Well, I should think so! (Note that the woman pictured in the news item is wearing a Michael Jordan ball cap. I’ll bet it was made in China.)
So now people in this Communist country are now dedicating themselves to conspicuous and ridiculous consumption? (See next item.)

What does the Commie label mean now? Or even “Socialist” for that matter. Is it just an insult like ugly? It seems to be thrown around a lot lately by people who don't even know the meaning.
By the way, that woman could have saved herself $582,105 by just adopting a stray from the pound. Much better idea.

Reportedly (well, all right, it's the National Enquirer) a $82,000 gerbil habitat was custom-designed and purchased for Maddox and Pax (see later item) the children of Brad Pitt.
(Insert joke here: you should see the one designed by Richard Gere. Rimshot!)

Latoya Jackson said that her brother Michael looked “absolutely fabulous” at his funeral last week. This despite his having died two months ago. He wore pearls and a huge gold belt like the kind a boxer wins. Tasteful to the end.

One hopes the allusion to the hysterically funny and also late British comedy by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French was unintended. But come to think of it, there are similarities between fashion slag Patsy and Michael Jackson. (Both are anorexic, looks-obsessed, sunglass-wearing addicts who couldn’t resist good-looking boys.)
Maybe Latoya’s comment was more knowing than originally thought.

No, not the bird. An actual baby boy which she and hubby named Sparrow. Seriously.
Let’s put it on the long list of inappropriate baby names that celebrities foist on their innocent and unsuspecting children. Apparently being the child of one or even two celebrities isn’t distinction enough. Add to that being saddled for life* with a bizarre name. It’s child abuse. And I’m not alone in this opinion. The creator of the Institute of Naming Children Humanely agrees.

Let’s make a list!
Fuchsia (imagine what mean schoolkids will do with that)
Rumer (tricky spelling!**)
Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily
Jazz Domino
Blue Angel
Poppy Honey
Daisy Boo
Saffron Sahara (Edina named her daughter that for God’s sake!)
Denim Cole and Diezel Ky (tricky! Double bad!)
Hopper (although perfect for a pet frog)
Bluebell Madonna
Seven Sirius (stolen apparently from George Costanza)
Heaven (and spelling it backward is even worse)
Audio Science
Rocket, Racer, Rebel & Rogue Rodriquez
(That reminds me: Roger Clemens started all his children’s names with a K, the symbol of the strikeout. Hey, Rog! Why not start their names with an * the symbol of the asshole?)
Moxie CrimeFighter
Blanket (yes, just a nickname but for “Prince Michael II.” So this poor purchased and dangled child was given a name already occupied by a sibling and then a nic which might as well have been Binky.)
Oriole Nebula (another bird, perhaps where Nicole got the idea. Sure, sure, was Robin once weird, you ask. Well, I say: what’s next? Cardinal? I think the Catholic church has that sewn up.)
Pilot Inspektor (ah, the dreaded double whammy. Weird and trickily spelled. Super abusive.)
Kyd (Why not “Generic Child”?)
Tu (child—unknown gender—of Rob Morrow. Right. It’s Tu Morrow, in the spirit of Ima and Ura Hogg and Crystal Shanda Lear. Totally offensive to name a child a joke.)
Memphis Eve (They seem to give some of them normal middle names in possible recognition that Memphis might prefer to be called a normal girl’s name like Eve once she’s in kindergarten.)
Similarly, Luna Coco Patricia comes to mind.
Princess Tiaamii (invented and pronounced tee-ah-mee. This poor child is not only saddled with a title for name which creates all kinds of expectations and neuroses and invitations to abuse, her middle name is has a diabolical tricky spelling. As does the next one.)
Aanisah (Now how is that pronounced? And was it designed to come early in the alphabet like AAAA Locksmiths?)
Tahmel (Aanisah’s poor sibling of unknown sex)
Kal-El (not just a name from frickin’ Krypton, it’s hard to say, an added burden)
Jermajesty (the creation of Blanket’s Uncle Jermaine and incredibly egocentric.)

And in case you’re thinking that celebrities abuse their children only with weird names, I submit that ordinary names can be abusive in the hands of a celebrity. Frank Sinatra Jr., for example, never could live up to his name. (But then I'm not high on namesakes. People can't be Xeroxed.)

And then there’s the ultimate in celebrity egocentrism: George Foreman who has ten children (that’s a whole other subject in itself), half of them boys and all of them named George: George Jr., George III (which makes me think of the American Revolution), George IV, George V, and George VI. Wikipedia says that the first three are called “Monk,” “Big Wheel” and “Little George.” No mention of what 5 and 6 are called.

On the other hand, Foreman himself, appearing on the Early Show on CBS to promote his children's book, said that his wife tried to give them nicknames but then they became hard to remember.

His book, Let George Do It!, is the story of a dad called “Big George” with five sons named George, George, George, George and George, who band together to celebrate dad’s birthday. What’s egocentric about that? In fact, he says he wrote this book, ironically, to make kids named George “feel special.”

And then there are real names that should just not be pulled out of mothballs because of their associations:
Gulliver(If they have a girl next will they call her Lily Putian?)
Romeo (although Juliet has escaped that trap)
Aurelius Cy
And apologies to Latin America, Jesus.
Here I have to include Caesar, Napolean and Adolf. These are not only bad names for children, they're horrible for your dogs and are apt to produce untrainable curs. And that reminds me of one of the worst names ever for a dog-- Noah. Every time the owner said "No!" he'd wag his tail.

*For life or until said child grows up and changes it. See David Carradine’s son born Free and now “Tom.”

**And a further note on spelling. Tricky spelling is just a suck on time. The creator of INCH estimates that Amie's having to point out that it's A-M-I-E and not A-M-Y will waste 58 days of her lifetime. And that's not even to mention how annoying and boring that would be.

Saturday, August 29

Weeks have flown by without a blog post from me. But I have an excuse! I’ve been totally obsessed with the epic struggle that began in Washington, DC that has since spilled back into the country’s town hall meetings. Health insurance reform.
I read the blogs, Huffington Post, Politico, Salon, Crooks and Liars, Daily Beast, and I listen to Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz and Ron Reagan. I watch Ed, Hardball, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow.
I sign petitions online. I write emails furiously to my congresswoman, my senators (all of whom, thankfully, support the public option), and the president, as well as Harry Reid (What happened to “Give ‘em Hell, Harry” Harry?? Grow a pair!) and Steny Hoyer. I write to those who oppose what I so dearly long for—universal health care for all Americans.
What I really want to do sometimes is just smack them!! For not being strong enough and for the other side for being so partisan and wingnutty.
Today while watching Teddy Kennedy’s funeral I fashioned a sign to carry at a rally in support of health insurance reform that would be held in Times Square. I met up with other marchers en route, delighted that so many of them were doctors.
The rally was awesome, exhilarating in the way that being among like-minded passionate people can only be. And when I got onto the R on my way uptown, I saw another protester with a familiar sign, so I whipped mine out and we shared an enormous smile.
I posted my commentary on the Huffington Post where so many other like-minded folks appreciated it. But there’s something I just don’t get. Why people would feel okay about posting vile things among the late person’s admirers on the day of the funeral.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who believes more strongly in the guilt of Michael Jackson, for example. I make no bones about my belief that he was a serial boy-molester who got away with it with his fame and money. BUT on the day of his memorial I did not post snarky comments to his fans. It’s tacky.
And yet there are those who feel compelled to make vicious—and in many cases, untrue—comments on HuffPo. My opinion? That reflects on THEM, not him.
I’m old enough to have had the opportunity to vote for Senator Kennedy for President in a primary, and as much as I admired him in many ways, I could not for his very well-known lapse of courage and judgment which rendered him ineligible in my book. But since then, I believe, he has redeemed himself with his public stands and his private duties as surrogate father to so many fatherless children who needed him. And so I salute him!
My prayer is that his legacy galvanizes the forces for good to bring about that which should have happened long ago—universal, affordable health care for all Americans. It will be a fitting tribute to a very great but flawed human being.
Sail on, Senator!

Tuesday, July 28

A Little Irony in DC

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R- Michigan) has a bill in the House demanding that President Obama apologize for his opinion that the Cambridge, Massachusetts Sgt. Crowley acted "stupidly" in arresting Professor Gates.

This is the text of the email that I just sent to the Congressman:

Now that Cambridge Police have released the tapes, you can hear that the facts of the regrettable Gates arrest do not support your opportunistic bill demanding an apology from the President. A bill which you, dare I say it? stupidly drafted before everything was known. Just what you are accusing the President of. How ironic!
Listen to the tapes and hear Sgt. Crowley say that he had established Professor Gates' identity. At that point, he should have said, "Sorry to bother you, sir. We have to follow up on reports of break-ins." And then he should have LEFT.
Even if the small, cane-using, middle-aged academic had yelled at the cop in his home, that's not a crime. And we know that Cambridge PD realized that by the speed of its dropping of charges.
With all the challenges facing this country, Congressman, and the disarray of your (minority) party, it seems to me that there are far better uses of your and the House of Representatives' time than your ridiculous bill. You've brought yourself some limelight but it's not flattering.
You should apologize."

Monday, July 20

Uncle Walter was a Liberal???

Heck, I had no idea! I had no sense of what Walter Cronkite's political leanings were at all.
And now we learn, after his death at 92, that he was a Adlai Stevenson-Democrat who nonethe less liked Ike!
My late father who adored Walter Cronkite, who thought that none of the astronauts could blast off or return without him and daddy for whom FDR was a four letter word...would be shocked to learn that his beloved Walter Cronkite wasn't on his Wendell-Wilkie-Ike-Nixon-Reagan page.

Saturday, July 18

Nice Things

How delightful! A man younger than I am is leading the British Open. Well, now for a long time that statement has been true every year. But this time, the younger man is Tom Watson and at 59, could have been in high school at the same time I was. So I am quite thrilled.
Tiger didn't make the cut, so go, Tom, go! Do it for the AARP.

Yesterday two little girls, one in orange Crocs, the other in lavender sandals, and a woman probably their mom, walked ahead of me in the East 80s. The girls, neither more than 7, stopped and switched one shoe, so that each one was in orange and lavender, and continued, hand in hand.
"Are you best friends?" I asked.
"No, sisters."
"You will always have your sister. Good for you."

A couple of days ago a small white butterfly, a common little cabbage white, fluttered under the awning of my local Korean market. Suddenly it had slipped inside. The clerk looked very surprised. "Nabee!" I repeated the Korean word for butterfly and she looked even more amazed, as I explained that I know how to say "butterfly" in 55 languages.
The little member of the Pieridae family kept flitting around the store. "Please don't kill it!" I won't said the clerk and she took a plastic bag and gently captured the little insect and then gave it to me to release outside. And off it fluttered into the sunshine. A wonderful moment.

Thursday, July 16

Detestable Women, part 2

This may have to be a running list and may have to be broadened to include men.
4. Cheyenne Cherry
As a "joke" she put a kitten in a microwave and let it die an excruciating death. Read more about this heartless teen here.
I know it would be cruel and unusual punishment and would never happen, but frankly stories like this make me fantasize about appropriate sentences, like getting an enormous microwave and putting this little bitch into it.

Some Women are Easy to Hate

1. Maria del Carmen Bousada
This bitch was 66, single and suddenly wanted children. Not a problem. All she had to do was lie to the in vitro clinic and tell them she was 55, which isn't just a speed limit, but an outer limit for being impregnated artificially. Apparently the doctors didn't ask for her drivers license or passport or something. They just cashed her check and sold her some embryos.
Two babies and headlines resulted. Bousada was happy. She had what she wanted. Did she give any thought to what the babies wanted or needed? Not only just a mother, but a mother who could easily be a freaking grandmother who would be pushing 90 at their college graduation if she made it that far.
Well, she didn't. This selfish woman is dead at 69, the toddlers aren't yet 3 and they are orphaned.
2. Debbie Rowe
The ultimate fan, Debbie Rowe happily sold two vulnerable children, who may or may not be her bio-kids, to an accused boy molester, and known drug addict who happened to be world-famous and extremely wealthy.
And whenever the situation opened up an opportunity to score some more money, she would swoop in and pocket some more loot. She even did him another favor with her testimony at his trial. Quite a bargain. Michael got two children and his freedom. Debbie got her horse farm.
Before Jackson's body was cold, I figured that the children's "mother" would be coming around, hand out, willing to disappear again for a price. She didn't disappoint. Except if you thought she actually cared about them.
3. Brooke Astor's daughter-in-law, "Miss Piggy"
Her real name is Charlene Marshall. She's the probable reason for the criminal trial of Anthony Marshall, son of the late dowager queen of New York philanthropy. He's charged with defrauding his demented mother, bullying her into codicils to benefit him and Charlene, Stealing her favorite painting and pocketing a commission when he sold it. And changing her will to cut out her charities like the Library and the Met, and naming him.
The maid who was there to see it all had nicknames for them. Charlene was Miss Piggy. And the son? The golden retriever. Read more about it here.
Charlene dumped her minister husband, leaving him in the small town in Maine where Astor summered, for the aging Marshall, who had real prospects for serious money once his famously generous mother finally shuffled off.
And now in his 80s, the retriever's the the dock in Manhattan enduring the humiliation and possible prison time as unindicted coconspirator Miss Piggy looks on.
I see a thread here. Selfishness. Oh, and ugliness, too.

Saturday, July 11

Post Script to my Jackson Comments

Further to my thoughts on Michael Jackson, check out what well-respected NY Times columnist Bob Herbert had to say here.
He's hardly a racist. And neither am I. Despite the reaction by a commenter on another blog. Nor were my words racist, although, inescapably, race was mentioned. Of course it was. When discussing Michael Jackson how could it not be?
As I predicted, more and more dirt will be coming out from under the gigantic rug where it has been swept for many, many years.

Tuesday, July 7

Yesterday, my sister, her son and I daytripped up to scenic Sudbury, Massachusetts, a picturesque old town, to visit a cousin. There were many highlights: lunching with Sally, meeting her grandchildren, feeding some pet chickens and seeing the Mary Martha chapel, Wayside Inn and the Grist Mill, the last like 3-D post cards.
And right up there in my mind along with the charm and sunshine was my visit to a real supermarket, the Stop 'n Shop, an enormous, gigantic, store. I even snapped a couple of photos.
A real supermarket is an amazing thing to someone, like me, used to Manhattan food boutiques, a name I coined to more accurately describe them. Oh, yes, they call themselves supermarkets, but so does Fox News say it's fair and balanced. The entire food boutique on my corner would fit into just the bakery and produce sections of the Stop 'n Shop.
My late mother who shopped her whole life in real supermarkets, once spent two weeks in Manhattan, and never got over her first brush with a food boutique. "It's so small! And so expensive! And you can't even find what you want!" "Yes, Mom," I replied, "but it's on the corner."
What she didn't experience but Manhattanites are well-acquainted with, are all the fun aspects to the food boutique. The games for example. There's Rain Check in which the player tries to find an actual item in the sale circular on the shelf. Ha! Good luck with that.
More hilarity ensues in Food Boutique Scavenger Hunt! Players select a recipe to make and create a shopping list of necessary ingredients. Points are awarded for each store the player visits in search of lamb shanks, whole wheat tortillas or soy cheese. I once carted my butt around to as many as six food boutiques in a futile search for Neufchatel cheese, only to later discover that it's cream cheese.
Square footage in Manhattan is incredibly expensive. So the facings are few and the aisles are narrow and the carts are miniature. It's almost like the grocery store you and your sister set up in the basement with a toy cash register and empty boxes of Wheaties.
I remember the time I needed a box of S.O.S. scouring pads but found only one size of Brillo on the shelf. I don't like Brillo. I asked the manager. "You got Brillo!" he said. "I want a choice! What is this, Warsaw?"
I don't know. Maybe they now have real supermarkets in Poland. All I know is that my food boutique makes me think I live behind the old Iron Curtain sometimes.
While some check out clerks in Stop 'n Shop acted like the ones we have here, Stop 'n Shop also had self-check-out aisles. We scanned the tiramisu cake and it appeared on the screen, then the African violet. Touch some buttons, feed it plastic, sign and you're gone. And for a moment I was George Herbert Walker Bush encountering a grocery scanner for the first time. It was amazing. I wish it were on my corner.

Sunday, July 5

St. Michael of Santa Maria

Very soon Michael Jackson will be nominated for a Nobel Prize. But why stop there? Tell the Pope to make Michael a saint. Afterall, Rev. Al Sharpton has already called for a "National Day of Mourning." Did you just lose your Cheerios? Sorry. It can't be avoided. The canonization of Michael Jackson is continual and over the top.
This "whitewashing of Michael Jackson" ironically seems to be most avid in (but is not limited to) black communities. I marvel at the forgiving nature of African-Americans who overlook the singer's blatent rejection of his ethnicity in order to celebrate him.
Let's look at the facts. He began life as a precociously talented and very adorable black boy. Once he had the freedom and money he began a lifetime of recreating his once-handsome looks into a white caricature: Katherine Hepburn's cheeks, Cary Grant's chin, Peter Pan's nose and Jackie O's hair. And skin bleached to match Casper the Friendly Ghost.
He married twice. Both to white women and neither believably. And he purchased three white babies.
None of his "special friends" were black, except for Emmanuel Lewis who Michael notoriously carried around like a teddy bear. (Emmanuel's mother put the kibosh on that relationship when she discovered that Michael tried to check into a hotel with Emmanuel as father and son. See Michael Jackson's Secret Childhood VH1 documentary by Dave Greene, aired 29 Jan. 2005.)
The singer also set his sights on another young black icon of the 70s: Rodney Allen Rippy, the cute as a bug spokeskid for Jack In The Box burgers. The teenaged "Michael used to call my house every single Saturday afternoon and talk to me on the phone," says Rodney in the Greene film. "My mom wondered why he didn't have any friends his own age."
Just a series of special friends, all boys, all white, all prepubescent. We watched them parade through his life, photographed on his lap, by his side, all the time, over and over. And if he hadn't been so rich and famous, he would have been stopped a long time ago.

Wednesday, July 1

Whitewashing Michael Jackson

Nothing was ever Michael Jackson's fault. He was the victim. First of his father who stole the childhood we would hear about endlessly. Then it was the media which hounded him and made him look like a freak. Next it was all the greedy parents who extorted him by making up salacious stories. And most of all, investigators who tried to frame him. Even his legendary drug taking wasn't his fault. That came from being set on fire in the infamous Pepsi shoot.

Michael Jackson, they would have you believe, is a victim. And there's only one problem with that. Except for when he was a little boy in the thrall of his father, Joseph, none of it is true. Ever since Michael Jackson became an adult, and he did become one despite his PR, Michael has run the show and made the decisions and done it all to himself. Even and especially his last act.

Wacko Jacko might be a creation of a London tabloid but the image was authored by Jackson. There's the infamous photo of Jackson lying in a hyperbaric chamber supposedly trying to prolong his life. Invasion of privacy? Fabrication? No. Jackson's rep gave that photo to the National Enquirer with the proviso that they use the word "bizarre" in the story. Nobody dressed Bubbles the chimp to match or Emmanuel Lewis in Jackson's lap but Jackson himself.

And then there's his self-mutilation. To Martin Bashir, Jackson said with a straight face, "I've had no plastic surgery on my face. Just my nose." When I first heard that I nearly did a spit take.

Jackson claimed that he had had only two surgeries on his nose to help him breathe better and to hit high notes. But Dateline asked plastic surgeon Dr Wallace Goodstein to compare photos of Michael Jackson-the-boy-as-God-made-him, and Michael testifying in one of his civil cases. Dr. Goodstein concluded that Jackson was "only off by about 48 procedures."

And what about the obvious whitening of Jackson's skin? He's the victim of vitiligo, he told Oprah and the world. And while it may be true he had vitiligo, it's likely that Jackson deliberately lightened his skin. "There are drugs you can take which will block the pigment production in the dermis. And I don't know for a fact that that's what occurred here but my guess is it's the most likely reason," said the doctor who shared a practice with Jackson's plastic surgeon for two years, and spoke to Dateline.

Josh Mankiewicz: "So in your opinion, that's something he affirmatively did as opposed to something that happened to him?"
Dr. Goodstein: "Yes. In my opinion, that's true."

Music writer and NBC contributor Toure sees a disturbing "Euro-centric vision of beauty" in Jackson's facial morphing which confused his African-American fans. But listen to anyone in Jackson's camp and it's a broken nose and vitiligo which made Michael go from looking like a cute little black boy to a weird white woman. But now that Jackson is dead, all is forgiven, apparently, as his undeniable musical talent was celebrated at the Apollo.

Michael Jackson's face was his most visible victim.

And what of his many lawsuits and criminal investigations? Michael Jackson was sued for breaching contracts and failing to pay bills. He was notorious for backing out of deals. And with his deep pockets, he was the target of civil suits to recover.

Those pockets are the reason he was accused, say his defenders. Not his modus operandi. Not the toys, shopping sprees, expensive gifts to parents, the Jesus Juice, and most especially, the sleeping with.

He was Peter Pan! He didn't have a childhood! They were just innocent sleepovers, say his fans. But if that were true, when faced with ruin, multi-million-dollar payouts, possible prison time, the loss of his career, why didn't he stop? I mean if they were nothing but a charming habit, why did he persist in bedding little boys?

And the only reasonable answer is because it was a compulsion. And he was arrogant and rich enough to think he could continue to get his way. No one said no to Michael.

"The difference between Michael Jackson and any ordinary pedophile is one of degree, not kind." ~ Raymond Chandler, uncle of Jordie, All That Glitters: The Crime and the Coverup Windsong Press, 2004. Read that and Michael Jackson The Man Behind the Mask by Bob Jones with Stacy Brown for all the telling details which support his guilt.

What about the drugs? Asked by Matt Lauer, Jermaine Jackson referenced the Pepsi accident which only happened decades ago. To do that, Jermaine had to completely ignore his brother's admitting he had a drug dependency back in '93. Plus the bagfuls of prescription meds seized then and in the case that went to trial. And there's the medications found in the rented house where he died and the song Michael wrote about Demerol, and the fact that Michael had an anesthesiologist and an IV pole travel with him on the Invincible tour, and then there's the Diprivan.

Michael Jackson was known to fake illness and injury (broken ankle, flu, spider bite, falls) to avoid something he didn't wish to do. Couple that with his reported desire to create a medical excuse to invalidate the 50-date concert schedule, as suggested by Gerald Posner in The Daily Beast, and that scenario is looking more and more believable.

Whether he combined the wrong drugs or did Diprivan once too many times, this seems more like Anna Nicole Smith every day. Accidental. But self-induced. Oh, there were enablers, and some might face consequences, but he did it to himself.

Michael Jackson was many things. Master showman. Fantastic dancer. Wonderful music composer. Savvy businessman. Son, brother, father, friend. But not victim.

Saturday, June 27

Smiles in the Park

Everyone in Central Park was smiling this morning. And I know why. It wasn't raining! In fact, the sky was a gorgeous blue with wispy, happy clouds, not thunderheads for once. After more than a fortnight of waking up to leaden skies and daily downpours, a sunny day was what we all desperately needed. The spring we've endured makes us really appreciate the sunshine however long it lasts.

Look. I love rain as much as any sappy romantic. I love how it sounds. How everything smells clean afterwards. I just can't stand it every frickin' day. And that's how most of June has felt. Like we suddenly woke up in Seattle or London. It was really getting to me and my usual sunny disposition.

So when I peeked out my window early this morning and saw delightful bouncy pink clouds in field of actual blue, I almost danced a jig. And soon my little mutt Macaroon and I were on our way to Central Park to soak up a little fresh summer. It just couldn't have been more glorious. I mean, look at that!

If only this were Smell-A-Site so that you could drink in the magnificent linden trees blooming late this year and all around the Great Lawn. They are unbelievably fragrant. So perhaps it was the sun and the air that put the smile on my face today.

And maybe just maybe it was Saturday morning itself making me so darn happy. Ever since I was a little girl, Saturday morning has been my very favorite time. It's always new and so full of possibilities. An entire weekend stretches out before you early on Saturdays! All the time with so much to do. I just love it!

I listened to "Julie and Julia" on my way to the Park instead of music. Based on a blog, it's a very amusing book and next month, a promising movie -- I saw a trailer -- directed by Nora Ephron. I adore Nora Ephron. My writer's heart filled with envy. This woman started a blog, a witty blog and now she's been published and she even narrated the damn thing and then she sold it for the big screen? I mean, good for her, but I hate her. No, not her. Me! A moment of self-flagellation crept in. Nah! It's too gorgeous this morning! It's not even humid! Forget that. Put on some music.

Just then, inside the Park, hard by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "World" by Five For Fighting filling my ears, I saw Joy, a woman I know from my neighborhood. Only she wasn't walking her neurotic pitbull Basil. Hey, that's Dude! He's a Basenji and belongs to a woman I think of as "Dude's Mom." Dude's Mom and I exchange greetings but we've never exchanged names. That's not uncommon. And I'm sure I'm Macaroon's Mom to her. But what is Joy doing with Dude? This was a huge disconnect. Oh, she's walking him. Small dog world.

We caught up as we never seem to do on her block. We're always in a rush. I mentioned the audiobook I'm listening to. She's aware that books can be downloaded for free from the public library. I just love telling people about that! And then we talk about blogs and it is Joy -- how perfect! -- who tells me how very easy it would be for me to start my very own blog. Hmm.

Along came a dear friend, Lynne and her Brussels Griffon, Gidget, strolling along with a woman and her Cairn. We've met before but I can't remember her name. Oh, dear. I hate when I do that. It's so embarrassing, but she's kind. It wasn't a Sophomore Moment, though. And by the way, I refuse to call them Senior Moments. No. I've done this my whole life and I have to work at remembering people and their names. I could never run for public office. Well, there are a lot of reasons why. But that's definitely one.

Regina! Hi, Regina. (Regina! I'm going to remember her name.) And her very cute terrier, Tucker, wearing a muzzle. Does he eat garbage? I guessed. Yes! she says and looks grateful. Usually people think he bites. I wish I could make Tucker understand that life can be simple: If you don't eat crap, you don't need a muzzle. I could almost picture that on a T shirt.

Lynne, Gidget, Regina, Tucker, Macaroon and I walk toward the Great Lawn, through the muddy Greywacke arch, enjoying each other's company, our dogs and the glorious morning. Regina's a tree expert volunteer! She helps the city. How wonderful! The poor street trees need all the help they can get.

I told her how one year the city planted a small pear tree on my block in the middle of a horrific drought and how I got my super to give me access to a hose and how for months on end I would take my plastic pails down and fill them, like Mickey's Sorcerer's Apprentice, except unfortunately they didn't multiply. I just refilled and lugged. Refilled and lugged, watering every tree and plant bed on the south side of my block. "You saved the pear!" she exclaimed. Yes, I did. And I'm a little proud of myself.

Right by Cleopatra's Needle I spotted a little sign with a phone number. Oh, look, guys! The new system of celebrity recordings. Let's call! I whipped out my cell phone and we listened to someone-- I didn't hear the name and or recognize the voice -- tell the history of the famous obelisk, the oldest object in Central Park. Oh, goodie, it's not me! As we listen and look, a Chocolate Lab was taking an unceremonius dump on the lawn. We called to the couple walking ahead to inform them of their duty. Ahem. They weren't listening. Oh, great. I hate dog walkers like that. They make us all look bad. But then we realized they weren't the owners. She was walking towards us with another Lab. We pointed to the spot and she seemed grateful, as I am, to be told. Most doggers are. But in any case we totally lost the thread of the story of Cleopatra's Needle, and my battery was running low anyway. Nuts. Who was that? I asked. Lynne said it sounded like a Rockefeller. Maybe it was Clark, I suggested archly. "Phoning from prison," said Lynne. And we laughed.

And merrily around the Great Lawn we walked. Lynne told Regina she really should make a sign to hang on the sweet, innocent Tucker whose muzzle scares people. What should it say? Eats garbage, not kids? And then it hit me! Not vicious. Voracious.

A tiny brindle Dachsie waddled up to our group. Lynne's turn to forget a name. Harley! Yes, what a cute dog. Suddenly Macaroon was in love! This doesn't happen often. Macaroon thinks dogs are okay. It's people he adores. But once in a while he's smitten. Thank goodness I had my camera with and could capture that rare moment of canine love.
[You can see it on youtube. My videos of Macaroon, other dogs and butterflies are posted under the name I also use here-- kellabeck.]
And it's summer. The sun is shining. And I am still smiling.