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 Cronkite...my 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.