Friday, September 30, 2005

Downtown Beirut

Back in the 80's, my friends and I used to go to a bar in the East Village called "Downtown Beirut." This wasn't on the tourist strip of St. Mark's Place, but south and east on Houston Street in a neighborhood that looked like, well, Downtown Beirut.

Today, that location is a gentrified, rebuilt, co-op and condo-ized area in which my friends and I would be hard put to afford a decent apartment at market rates.

According to Michael Totten, the same thing has happened with the real Downtown Beirut, where he has relocated for the next six months.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Your Own Personal Bob

When my husband and I watched the Dylan documentary last night, we made fun of the people who considered Bob a mystical, moistical shaman figure, someone who could heal with but a touch of his calloused fingertips.

However, we applauded the Dylan who socked it to the sanctimonious old school folkies at Newport in 1965 by going electric, and who refused to be pigeonholed by politicos or press.

I realized that we, too, had our own Personal Bob, just like the "Saint Dylan" fans. And in both cases, your own Personal Bob symbolizes what your idea of "integrity" is.

Elsewhere, Ann Althouse asked that since the documentary was a compilation of old footage, what exactly did Scorsese do as director? And then the commenters replied with an argument about whether Bob was left wing or right wing or up wing or down wing.

One posted a link to a site called "Right Wing Bob," which asserts that Dylan's lyrics and actions point to an inner conservatism. This is the Personal Bob of a young former lefty who's pissed at lefties.

Another posted a link to an article by Sean Wilentz that expresses a unique look at patriotism through "Love and Theft."

My own personal favorite Bob-O-Links: Tangled Up In Jews and the song "Positively Wall Street" from the musical "Lemmings," the first comedy to mock the counterculture written by people who actually knew the music and did the drugs. ("You say I owe you something/you ask me for my plan/just who were you expectin'/Jesus Zimmerman?")

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Got this in my e-mail today:

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the President his daily briefing on Iraq.

He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."

"OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"

His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands.

Finally, the President looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?"

Sorry About This, Chief

First Gilligan, now Maxwell Smart.

Monday, September 26, 2005


I thought I was just getting rid of some old junk to make room around our tiny apartment. But I found this link through Apartment Therapy and it turns out I've been celebrating a new holiday:

"Discardia," Dinah says ,"is the time to get rid of things that no longer add value to your life, shed bad habits, let go of emotional baggage and generally lighten your load." Happily, this iteration of the holiday runs until October 3rd.

Oh boy! I'm gonna go out and buy Discardia cards, and a Discardia tree, and. . . oh yeah, right.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Big Pants

I finally went shopping for new Fall clothes this afternoon. I bought a couple of pairs of wide-legged, slouchy trousers.

I think they make me look like Bonnie from the "Trots and Bonnie" comic strips that used to run in the National Lampoon.

My next shopping expedition will be for a digital camera so people can see what I mean.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Deja Rant

A couple of the blogs I regularly read posted about Ariel Levy's book "Female Chauvinist Pigs" and Wendy Shalit's "A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue."

Ann Althouse's post was about a review of Levy's book by Shalit in Opinion Journal. Shalit had written:

It may be that, like Ms. Levy, a lot of feminists now regret getting in bed with Mr. Hefner. Yet if you mention the word "modesty" within 20 feet of them their heads spin around like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist."

And in Althouse's opinion:

It's quite possible to reject social conservatism without falling into some exaggerated libertinism. Shalit's title advocates going back to old-fashioned values, so it's no wonder most feminists balk. They rightly want new ways to think about what is good for women, not a re-insertion into the old set-up.
She also stated a request for writers to liberate themselves from that hackneyed "Linda Blair in 'The Exorcist'" metaphor.

Amba of Ambivablog links to Althouse's post, and contributes:

I think that being attractive is naturally and even commendably important to women, and certainly no one is immune to the fashions of their times. But I would hope eventually that women could become more confident and less desperate, could take or leave male approval a little bit more (which would be a much better reason for saying "no" than a calculated "The Rules" strategy to snag him), and would generate our attractiveness from the inside out -- from a powerful sense of individual style, taste, and desire -- instead of from the outside in.
I started writing my own rant about the books, and then had a sense of deja vu. Waaaiiiit a minute. . .where have I written this rant before? It took some digging, but then I found it:

These books and these articles play on a young woman's insecurities. As if we're gonna say, like Big Sam in "Gone With The Wind": "Lawsy lawsy, Miz Scarlett, take me back to Tara with you. I can't take no more of this here freedom."

I had written that in my personal journal nearly twenty years ago, spurred by that infamous Harvard-Yale study that was was widely interpreted as "Ha ha, Smart Bitch, Serves Ya Right!"
I had worked it as a bit in my stand-up act, but sadly dropped it after a while. What was paying the Con Ed bills at the time were clubs where the idea was quick jokes for people who were drinking a lot. Deconstructing post-feminism didn't sell drinks, so I had to think of another way to channel the steam coming out of my ears.

So it's comforting to know that in this all-too-disposable age, I can recycle my rants from two decades ago.

The Wrong ANSWER

Lorelei Kelly at Democracy Arsenal asks a question that's been on my mind the past couple of years:

Is the organization ANSWER working for Karl Rove? Only he could hatch a plot to offer up a message muddling "Palestine Tent" on the mall coupled with an anti-Israel march to the ellipse in front of the Capitol. So now every elected leader who comes to show support is going to have to bear the wrath of the Israeli lobby and fend off right wingers who love to paint liberals as anti-semitic.

Like I say when I see one of those ISM idiots in Union Square ranting that "Israel is a racist state": Congratulations, moron. You just made another five Jews vote Republican.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

High Diddle Doomba...

The Cat and the Roomba:

Kitchen Confidential the Show, Reviewed

I watched the premiere with my husband and a friend. They hadn't read the Kitchen Confidential book. I gave them the quick and dirty synopsis: It's a wacky new sitcom about the staff in a restaurant.

So we watched, and commented.

Husband: "It's esoteric. It's like Molly Dodd. There's no laugh track."

Friend: "Who is he talking to?"

Me: "Those are the waiters and waitresses."

Towards the end...

Friend: "Ew!"

Husband: "If he really cut off his finger, wouldn't he be in shock instead of picking up girls?"

When the episode was over and there was a commercial for a wacky new sitcom about the staff in a law firm, husband and friend gave me this gingerly look like, "Ehhh...didn't care for it, but I know you like it so I won't hurt your feelings."

Overall, I thought it stayed true to the spirit of the book, but I could see why someone who hadn't read it wouldn't care for the show. I felt I couldn't connect with any of the characters. There are too many of them being introduced at once, just long enough to do one quick, outrageous cartoony thing before the story moves on. With the book, by the time characters are being introduced, the author has had a chance to establish his narrative voice. And even then, I had to flip back every so often and ask myself, "Who was that one again?"

This is one of those shows that will either find its pace and audience in the next two or three weeks, or it will show up years from now in one of those "Remember this?" specials.

Oh, and my husband recognized Frank Langella as the restaurant owner before I did; Langella is now stout with thinning white hair, but still handsome and distinguished. Nearly thirty years ago, he played the sexiest Dracula ever. At that time, it was Langella who would have played the Bad Boy Chef. . .and the Bad Boy everything else. Time swings on.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Spambot Ho's

Many is the morning I've settled in front of my computer, checked my blog and exclaimed hopefully, "Oooh! I've got a new comment!" Only to open the "Comments" and see something like:

"Hi! Great blog. You're a really good writer. I have a blog too. It's about sex toys..." And my head will turn into a giant sucker like in a Warner Brothers cartoon as I realize I have been snookered yet again by a dreaded spambot.

I'm familiar with these creatures from years of having my e-mail plagued by them. And about a decade ago when I was starting to do Internet Relay Chat, I would reply to what I believed was a person only to have them begin repeating the same expression over and over again, like something out of a Twilight Zone episode.

And now that I've been blogging for over six months, I've noticed them in this medium, too. Hey, once something has a manual and a learning curve, will spam be far behind?

So I changed my settings to turn on "word verification." Now, when people comment, they have to retype a word that Blogger gives them in a little pop-up box. If the commenter is in the average mood that I'm in when they go to comment, this is the equivalent of running toward a room with your fists swinging growling, "Why, I oughta..." and then having to stop at the threshhold and do a carefully choreographed little dance.

And now I may not see any comments at all for a while, but at least I'll know the ones that are there love me (or not) for something other than my money.

Jersey Boys

There's a new musical that's supposed to open next month, "Jersey Boys", that's based on the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. At lunchtime today, I passed by the Virginia Theater, which is staging it. Specifically, I passed the freight elevator, into which half a dozen stagehands were loading an oversized--as in the props from "Cats" oversized--backseat of a 50's car, in purple.

By the way, every native New Yorker is genetically encoded to be able to do that "Oooh-weee-ooooh" thing from the beginning of "Walk Like A Man." Like a timber wolf.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Kitchen Confidential, The Show

Last month I'd read Anthony Bourdain's autobiography Kitchen Confidential and I thought it was cinematic. Apparently, so did Fox TV, so they've made it into a sitcom. So they thought it was, what, telegenic?

It premieres tomorrow night at 8:30. Having read the book, I can imagine they would have to do a lot of cutting for network TV.

The chef on the sitcom is named "Jack Bourdain." Tony Bourdain is sorta Jeff Goldblum-looking, but Bradley Cooper, the actor playing Jack, looks very all-American and clean-cut.

I'm gonna cut this here.

How I Spent My Day

I spent the morning putting together a playlist consisting of all the kick-ass rock of my rebellious youth.

I went to the supermarket.

My playlist was playing on LITE-FM.

Friday, September 16, 2005

...Or He'll Give You Something To Really Cry About

Ann Althouse has been posting a concise synopsis of the Roberts hearings every day, between teaching her law students at the University of Madison and getting dental work. Today, she tells us why Senate Democrats should say "yes" to Roberts:

Voting against Roberts will make Democrats look as though they think the judiciary is a thoroughly political institution. They would seem as though they are degrading the courts. Bush nominated a man who will appear to ordinary people to be scrupulously judicial, and their complaint about him will seem to be that they don't want a real judge, but a political ideologue. Yet they want their position to be against the ideological judge. How will that make sense to people? They need to vote yes. As someone said in the comments yesterday, if they vote no now and Bush nominates a very ideological conservative to replace O'Connor, no one will believe them when they cry wolf the second time. Roberts should go through, and the Democrats should position themselves to oppose the O'Connor replacement, especially if Bush goes hard right.

The New Republic seconds that emotion (subscription required, which means ha ha I have a subscription and you don't):

But who will President Bush nominate next? The conservative bench is not exactly riddled with Roberts-like reasonableness. So it is too soon for liberals to be disarmed. Confirm Roberts, and prepare for Owen.

And Blog of the Moderate Left reminds us:

Roberts is a conservative. I wish he was a liberal. But unless Bush turns into a hippy by getting bonked on the head in wacky sitcom fashion, none of his nominees will be.

Look, Roberts isn't my cup of tea ideologically--I'm quite sure of that. But he's obviously bright and competent, obviously qualified for the position. Yes, yes, ideologically he's conservative. Guess what? George W. Bush is president. If we Democrats want liberals on the court, we need to win in 2008.

I'll call myself a Democrat for the sake of this argument and say, yeah. There is an argument to be made for standing on principal, but there's also a matter of picking your fights. Even New York's own sensible Chuck Schumer is starting to look like a hee-haw next to Roberts. So pick your battles, and don't worry: there will be plenty of them with this crew.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sassy Girl

With Jane Pratt leaving the editor-in-chief spot at namesake mag Jane, Michelle Orange at Mediabistro rhapsodizes about Pratt's first effort, the late-lamented teen mag Sassy:

The impact it had can perhaps be gauged most accurately at this very moment: the girls who read Sassy are now at an age where what they're doing is a fairly good (and encouraging) indicator of where they're going. "If I had had Sassy as a teen I'm sure I would have turned out with a stronger moral fiber," Courtney Love has said, "but I probably wouldn't have started a band. I probably would be teaching retarded children." It's flip and it's overstated—it's Courtney Love—but it also holds a core of truth about the formative connection a young girl, given the opportunity, can make with her culture. It also forebodes the recrimination that can result when that connection gets frazzled.

True! In fact, growing up twenty years before the era of the Sassy girl, I would say that the teen magazines of the late 60's contributed to my being in therapy in the early 80's.

Back then, in Seventeen and Ingenue and others that appealed to the junior high school girl, there was a recurring first-person account. It was usually some variation on this theme: "I was shy and alienated and smart and I didn't have a lot of friends and I read books at parties and then an older man seduced me and I got pregnant/got VD."

The moral that got picked up by the thirteen-year-old, geeky me? That if you're a smart girl, not only will you (rightfully!) endure the gibes of schoolmates, but if any guy ever does break through your wall of cooties to actually touch you, it will end in shame and disgrace.

This message imprinted on my cerebral cortex at this impressionable age and stayed there for the next fifteen years. Regardless of the fact that my conscious mind knew the scientific facts and that I could recite the effectiveness of every birth control method years before I would ever need the knowledge, deep down in the reptilian corners of my brain I knew that unwanted pregnancy and venereal diseases were caused by being an uppity bitch with her nose in a book.

This didn't stop me from learning or reading, but it did give me an almost fatalistic sense that I deserved any social fallout that landed on my head, even when the perpetrators were one psychosis short of being the Manson Family.

It can be argued that there are many influences in a young girl's life, and that by the time I was 13 I had already received some heavy-duty social conditioning by family, teachers, peers, and a lot of television. And this is true. Teen magazines did not influence me in a vacuum, any more than being an avid reader shut me off from the world outside the covers of a book.

What teen magazines did was reflect the culture of their time. And the culture of their time in 1968 said this to preadolescent females: Don't be alone, or the wolves will get you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Nesting Month

Apartment Therapy is hosting "Nesting Month" threads on their site.

Here's the deal:

1. Decide what Nesting project you will accomplish in your apartment this month (By Monday, October 2)
2. Make a commitment by saying what you are going to do in one of the three Nesting Threads
3. Take a pic of your project before with a short testimonial
4. Keep in touch with your goals and with one another through these DAILY threads
5. Work hard! And send us a pic and a follow up testimonial when you're done

I've had at least three projects kicking around in my head all Summer, when it was too hot to do anything:

1. Get new cabinets built in kitchen;
2. Design and have somebody build--Ikea, Gothic Cabinet Craft, whatever--a credenza to fit along the short wall of the living room that will house the TV, DVD, VCR, about 500 CD's, etc. This would have to be very scientifically shimmed underneath to allow for the tilt in our living room floor;
3. Get the apartment painted. That one's definitely for a cooler month.

The fourth project is a virtual home project: Build myself a new personal site and link my blog to it. This is free, involves no heavy lifting, and there are no paint fumes from pixels, but it does involve choosing some good content.

Suddenly it's really warm in here and I feel sleepy. . .

Weiner Conceded...

But there may still be a runoff anyway. Why? It's the law.

Mayor Up In The Air

Ferrer got 39.95% of the vote in the Democratic primary. He needs 40% to avoid a runoff with Weiner.

So they've got to count the absentee ballots. (Uh-oohhhhh!)

So no big whoop...Bloomberg's probably gonna get re-elected.

Meanwhile, Ferrer and Weiner were still campaigning this morning, although that doesn't change ballots that were already marked. Each one is stressing that they're running a "positive" campaign, no, mine is more positive than yours.

This refers back to the 2001 runoff between Ferrer and Public Advocate Mark Green, during which the race card was played, for which a city still shell-shocked by 9-11 had little patience.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Impeach Tree

Friday, I said that assuming we could impeach Bush, we would end up with Cheney.

Apparently, I'm not the only one thinking along those lines, and yesterday, Rudicus of the Impeach Bush Coalition of blogs explained why this was not the worst thing that could happen:

If Bush violated the law or brought shame to the office of the president, he must be impeached, regardless of who is waiting in the wings. Heck, was it a bad idea to go after Nixon for impeachment merely because the bumbling Gerald Ford was next in line? No way. It's the only way to maintain the integrity of the office of President. Bush must be impeached, regardless of the fact that Cheney would become president.

And look at it this way, removing Bush finally removes that buffer between reality and illusion. We've all known all along that Cheney has been the real muscle behind this administration, so we finally get to hold the wizard accountable for what happens in Oz. No more hiding behind the Jesus cowboy. We finally get to deal with the man at the top.

So, go right to the source and ask the horse?

Cheney at least has a reputation for being somewhat of a "smart guy" (greedy, sociopathic, heartless, but "smart") , so he won't be able to hide behind the guise of being a functionally retarded, good 'ole boy, man of the people. (Ah shucks, folks!) Moreover, Cheney is not very personable or charming, so he won't be able to snow job anyone with his dumb country mouse wit.

He also points out that because Cheney has a lesbian daughter, he won't come down too hard on gay rights, and this will alienate the religious right.

And he concludes:

So before anybody gets too worried about a Dick Cheney interim presidency, think it through fully. Removing Bush is one step closer to removing the whole lot. Removing Bush is one step closer to clarifying the illusion. Removing Bush is one step closer to saving the office of the presidency and the country. You need to see it as the best thing that can possibly happen, both for the country and the world. With Cheney, we'll at least know exactly what we'll be getting -- a smart, abrasive, money-grubbing, little-people crushing traditional Republican just like we've all seen before.

You mean, the same kind of Republicans we knew and loved when I was a kid? Great. I love to bathe myself in the familiar to reinforce my sense of security just before I go wild and start that "thinking outside the box" thing.

At any rate, I'm gonna keep an eye on the site, although I'm not joining or pasting any banners just yet. This is partly because of my aversion to jumping on bandwagons, and also because I still don't know how to futz around with this blinkin' template. In fact, I'm up to my eyeballs in graphics stuff that I have to bone up on for various projects right now. Perhaps I can have my advisors compile a DVD .

More Weiner

Denis Hamill in the NY Daily News says:

I'm voting for Anthony Weiner for mayor. Four years from now. When Rudy Giuliani ran for reelection I put on dark glasses, held my nose and for the first time in my life voted for a Republican.


I agreed with most of what was written in this article, except that 1997 wasn't the first time in my life I'd voted Republican, and also I'm not voting for anybody in the primary today. Why? I'm not registered as a Democrat. I'm an Independent. But since so many offices in this city are decided at the Democratic primary level, this could be a case of cutting off my nose to spite my face.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


My original agenda for today was to go downtown to J&R and buy a subcompact digital camera, and then go down the street to Ground Zero to take some snapshots of the ceremonies there. I changed my mind when I realized that a block was, at the very least, the closest I would get, and that most of the activity would be taking place at the bottom of a pit six stories deep. No matter how good you think your camera is or what you think you can see with your eyes, your photographs, under these circumstances, look like a bunch of dots.

So Jim and I watched here at home on TV, where we could see and hear the siblings of the people killed that day reading off all the names.

Some of the readers, after saying "we miss you and we love you," added "and we will fight to see that you get the memorial that you deserve."

These comments reflect a conflict that's going on with the plans for a Cultural Center to be built on the site, especially with a part called the International Freedom Center. A family member from the campaign to Take Back The Memorial says:

"The organizers of the International Freedom Center say that in order to understand 9/11, we must see exhibits about slavery, segregation and genocide and its impact around the world. This is a history that we all should know and learn, but not here -- not on sacred ground," said Michael Burke, whose brother, Billy, was one of the 343 firefighters killed responding to the attacks.

"Nobody is coming to this place to learn about Ukraine democracy or to be inspired by the courage of Tibetan monks. They're coming for September 11."

The theme of the IFC, especially since I'm hearing about it through the objections of a lot of working-class families, seems to have a whiff of politically correct "Can You Blaaaaaaame Them?" to it. Proponents of the Center say that it is "entirely non-partisan and outside of politics" and also has "bi-partisan advisors."

Be that as it may, I don't feel it's appropriate to have anything political at the site, even marionettes singing "It's A Small World After All." If you open the door to "multi-culti" exhibits, you have to open the door to the Bushies going "They Hate Our Freedoms...So Let's Invade Canada."

There are places for all those agendas, but it's not Ground Zero.

Weiner in 2009?

This year, New York City is having a mayoral election. This Tuesday is the Democratic primary for that election. Last Thursday there was a televised debate between the four candidates for that primary.

The frontrunner, Fernando Ferrer, is a reliable policy wonk who comes off in public appearances like a buffoon. Two other candidates, Borough President C. Virginia Fields and City Council Speaker Giff Miller, are decent bureaucrats who haven't distinguished themselves with any big ideas. The only one with potential is Congressman Anthony Weiner, who right now seems not fully formed. He reminds me of the kid whose mother would follow him down the block saying "You forgot your allergy medication." He also sort of reminds me of a young Ed Koch.

Our incumbent, Michael Bloomberg, is a Republican Moderate who's considered hard to beat. Unlike the president, there's no overwhelming dissatisfaction with him from large segments of the population. There are people who are just not going to vote for a Republican on principle right now, even if he's not one of those Republicans, and there are people who are going to make choices based on race and ethnicity. But even at the West Indian Day Parade last Monday, the mayor was popular.

So I'm watching the debate last Thursday, and I'm thinking, if I were in charge of the Democrats right now, I would hope that Ferrer would get the nomination, that he would ultimately lose to Bloomberg, and since this will be Ferrer's third go after the job, he would probably not run again. Meanwhile, start grooming Weiner for a successful run in 2009, when term limits will mean that Bloomberg can't run again and no other moderate Republicans are on the horizon.

Well, I was reading the last issue of New York Magazine there was an article by Chris Smith that said exactly what I had thought:

The toughest lever to bypass in the voting booth will be the one next to the name of Anthony Weiner. He has the intellectual dexterity to give Bloomberg a workout, and he's tried to sell himself as the candidate who will move beyond traditional Democratic thinking.
Yep, there's that "outside the box" thinking that David Ignatius wrote about in the Washington Post.

"If Weiner gets into the runoff, it suggests there's clearly a constituency for a message that Democrats have been screwing up and we need to do something differently," says a consultant not affiliated with any candidate. But Weiner, a 40-year-old congressman from Brooklyn and Queens who has spent his entire adult life in politics, needs to run something--a congressional committee, a think tank, a minor-league hockey team--before being put in charge of an entity as clamorous as New York, and his agenda needs four more years of baking.
And the article concludes with:

National Democrats have been healthily shaken by John Kerry's defeat, and a local version is past due. "Last night I spent almost an hour surfing the Manhattan Institute Website," says a veteran New York Democrat. "While there's much I don't agree with, it's the only place I know of that's generating new policy ideas for the city. It's not unimportant for there to be a progressive-policy infrastructure supporting an urban agenda. That's something I hope we will see at some point. And it's more likely to happen if we lose than if we win."

Not that he's rooting for a loss. But here's the realist Democratic slogan for you: Freddy Ferrer and honorable defeat in '05. And Anthony Weiner all the way in '09.

Hey, do I know my Weiners or what?

I love my city. We stockpile our mayors.

Latest polls show Ferrer and Weiner in a statistical dead heat, and pundits are predicting a runoff.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Yeah, But Then What?

As I wrote yesterday, the media, including the internets, has been caught up in a tornado of spin from left and right over Katrina's aftermath. The theme from Bush's critics is "Impeach Bush!" and from his supporters it's Tsk tsk, what a shame that some people are playing the Blame Game while so many are suffering and dying.

Well, yeah! What a shame that a lot of folks aren't buying a ticket to your guilt trip anymore! But impeach? Hey, it's not like there's an avuncular Gerry Ford waiting to step in to finish W's term. If you impeach Bush, you get Cheney, who is maybe Uncle Satan.

And the Democrats still need to eat their Wheaties. I don't think they're ready to take over yet. It'll be another "lost moment" for them, like it was with the Carter Administration. I hope to be proven wrong by 2008.

As a New Yorker, I don't claim to be a bastion of mental health, but I do think the healthiest course of action is to consider this current crew a bunch of lame ducks in every sense of the term, and look ahead to what kind of leadership we want next.

Today's column by David Ignatius in the Washington Post has been quoted by a couple of my favorite political blogs. And yes, it praises Newt Gingrich. If you never thought you'd live to see the day, I'm beginning to think you'd have to have the lifespan of a fruitfly to miss getting shocked by anything nowadays.

You need to register to read the whole thing, but here are a few relevant paragraphs:

Gingrich argues that the values debate that has divided America so sharply during the past decade is over.

Now he tells us.

There's a broad consensus about most issues, and anyway people realize that the country's big problems aren't about morality but performance. "We're not in a values fight now but over whether the system is working," Gingrich told me. "The issue is delivery." And that's true at every level -- city, state and federal.

Gingrich's critique of the federal response is as devastating as that of any Democrat. "For the last week the federal government and its state and local counterparts have consistently been behind the curve," he wrote fellow Republicans this week. "The American people overwhelmingly know that the current situation is totally unacceptable," and for that reason, "it is a mistake to get trapped into defending the systems and processes which clearly failed." He observes in another memo, "While the destruction was unprecedented, it was entirely predictable."

Gingrich suggests Rudy Giuliani to oversee the management of rebuilding the Gulf Coast as a "Zone of Recovery, Reconstruction and Prosperity," offering a "25 percent tax credit for all job-creating investment in the region over the next three years."

And he wants to create a cadre of "entrepreneurial public managers" who can replace the leaden public bureaucracy and get things done on Internet time, with the reliability of FedEx or UPS.
Hmmm...I'm all for getting the lead out, but doesn't it sound like they want to "privatize" a lot of government functions? Especially ones by local government? Maybe I'm misreading things here. I certainly do think we need a hell of a lot more efficiency in bureaucracies.

And Giuliani's a popular choice and a good one. Even though I'm pissed at him for some of the stuff he said when he was shilling for Bush last year. (Hey, Rudy, remember that a lot of those Upper West Side liberals you were making fun of crossed party lines to get you into City Hall in 1993 and 1997.) Even though I was chanting "Rudy is a hoo-wah, Rudy is a hoo-wah" while watching his speech at last year's Republican Convention.

I don't agree with everything in the column, but I do agree with this sentiment:

This is the moment for the Party of Performance to take center stage. The breakdown in public life was obvious before Katrina. We have a government that can't control its borders, can't find a viable strategy for its war in Iraq, can't organize the key agencies to address the terrorism problems it has been trumpeting. The yearning in the country for something different has been palpable this year.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Last night my husband tells me, "I heard it was the Mayor's fault. Of New Orleans."


"I mean initially, because he didn't get the buses out or something. Or he didn't declare a state of emergency in time."

Now, I hasten to add that my husband is no fan of the current administration and that:

1. He is a self-described liberal; and

2. For most of my adult life I've described myself as a "beatnik libertarian," if I've described myself as political at all. I've only started describing myself as a liberal for the past few months the way someone beset by schoolyard bullies will turn around and say, "Yeah, I'm a faggit ... what's it to ya?"

My point is, that the Bushies and their supporters know that they came off badly last week, they're in deep doo-doo, so they're trying to control the spin, and even liberals will begin buying into the "Liberals think the hurricane was Bush's fault" meme.

Somebody sent me a timeline from MoveOn, but let's face it, it's MoveOn. That's like saying, "I hear there's Communists under the bed." "Where did you hear that?" "The John Birch Society."

But here is another timeline, this one from Josh Marshall, and linked to by that Communist, Andrew Sullivan. And it shows that on Sunday, August 28:

10 AM: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin orders mandatory evacuations of the city.

The hurricane made landfall on Monday morning. Meanwhile, later on Monday:

FEMA director Michael Brown waits 5 hrs after Katrina has hit to ask his boss, Michael Chertoff, for 1000 Homeland Security employees to be sent to the region and gave them two days to arrive

"Two days? Not two hours?" My husband was thus elucidated.

There are some memes that I just toss aside as irrelevant. The "Condi buying shoes while Rome burned" meme is one of them. I know it's got a great ring to it symbolically: The Secretary of State as Marie Antoinette in Jimmy Choos. But the home front ain't the Secretary of State's gig. Her job is to wear kinky boots and look tough in front of foreign heads of state.

But the facts? Those I do not want screwed around with, and these guys protecting the Boy King have been making us dizzy for the past four years. So I'll just employ a trick I learned as a kid in ballet class: When you're dizzy, focus on a spot on the wall. A spot called January 2009.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Goodbye, Gilligan

...and Maynard G. Krebs.

Or as Ann Althouse rhapsodizes, "Maynard to God: 'You rang?' "

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Chick Lit For Vintage Babes

Apparently, Harlequin's really breaking out of the bodice-buster novel and into a whole lot of new, hip areas.

I'd written back in June about Red Dress Ink, the "edgy single gal" division. Then in the latest issue of MORE there was an ad for a new division called "The Next Novel," which is "a line of entertaining novels about women looking for what's next in their lives." The ad featured that cool picture you see on the splash page--the one that looks like "Comeback for Deb Winger."

Looks like some fun reads. I'm going to check out my local paperback exchanges and then dab some of that sample of Pond's Moisturizer from another ad onto my crows' feet, and settle down to reading enjoyment.

They also have a section on "Writers' Resources" so you can get in on the excitement. With all those divisions, you're bound to come up with an idea for something.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


I was talking to my sister-in-law last night, and she was appalled that the National Guard had been called into New Orleans with orders to shoot to kill.

"Good!" I answered. "They should have been there three days ago. If you don't send in the people in the uniforms in a situation like this, what happens is the guys start forming little militias and they start going to war with the little militias on the next block. That's what happened in Iraq."

Then this morning I read The Mighty Middle, who stated:

I recognize that this is a very un-Democratic (capital 'D') thing to say, but first comes order.

One of the key military lessons of Iraq was that once weakness is shown in the face of the forces of anarchy, anarchy feeds and grows stronger. We ignored the looting of Baghdad in the immediate aftermath of the US liberation, and broadcast in big, screaming, marquee-sized letters that we could be taken. It was the military equivalent of dressing our soldiers and Marines in feather boas and hot pants. Once you show weakness, and send your fool of a Secretary of defense out to giggle about it, it is a hell of a thing trying to unring that particular liberty bell.

Now, in New Orleans. The city of New Orleans failed, the state of Louisiana failed, and the federal government failed to make it unmistakably clear that someone -- someone with uniforms -- was in charge.

Looting, Round Two. And again, we Americans blow it.
And Letter From Gotham:

New Orleans is a spectacular success of anarchy. It is anarchy taken to its logical conclusion: coalitions of armed males aggressing against other coalitions of armed males while women and children cower in abject terror.

I just think...that we have laws to protect the weak...because we are all weak with respect to someone or something, and after a certain age, we are all limping along on one limb (literally or figuratively). Laws are just a form of intelligent altruism.
So two things have occurred to me:

1. Some of us kids who grew up reading "Steal This Book" have grown to appreciate the proper application of official guys with heavy weaponry,

2. Apparently, we appreciate them a lot more than the conservative guys in charge of running this country.

Please tell me that this is mere incompetence and not, to channel Pat Moynihan, "benign neglect." Although right now, I'm not sure which is the worse possibility.

Friday, September 02, 2005

No Matter How Much You Think Your Life Sucks

This is in Slate:

I don't recall any reporter exploring the class issue directly by getting a paycheck-to-paycheck victim to explain that he couldn't risk leaving because if he lost his furniture and appliances, his pots and pans, his bedding and clothes, to Katrina or looters, he'd have no way to replace them. No insurance, no stable, large extended family that could lend him cash to get back on his feet, no middle-class job to return to after the storm.

New York City sometimes has a way of making you feel like you're in a Third World country if you're not one of the Masters of the Universe. But most of us of all races, ethnicities, etc. can claim at least a tenuous hold on stability and a network of people and institutions who could give us some assistance.

Even those of us who live sort of a semi-boho existence and rent our homes and haven't gotten around to signing up for that renter's insurance have some resources for getting our lives and our valuables together after a disaster. The important thing would be to make sure your loved ones (including pets) would get to safety and stay there as for long as you'd need to in order to get back on your feet.

We heard from some acquaintances yesterday who fled New Orleans in one piece, in their car. They have friends with whom they can stay until they decide which Midwestern or Southern city they will relocate to, using their personal and business networks to secure new employment and decent housing. It was a heartbreak for them to abandon their newly-purchased home--for which they had saved for years--to the elements and the looters. They had a lot of pride in their new place. But they also had insurance, and they had options.

But those people whose faces I kept seeing on the news last night and this morning...they've got nothing, and many are losing even that.

The rest of us will be pulling our resources together over the next few weeks to provide some assistance for people who are living in the Third World right here in our country. As far as what we can do as a country, long-term, for people to get out of that kind of situation...not everyone will, even with the right resources. There are people in every class who are unmitigated chronic screw-ups and no matter what you do for them, sooner or later they're just going to keep falling through the cracks until they want to help themselves or die.

But many other people do want to better themselves, and I know I'd like to see everybody work on ways to make this happen.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Letter From Gotham has been blogging again

Good. I missed her.

Red Cross at Amazon

If you've got an account at, you can contribute to the Red Cross' Hurricane Relief through Amazon's site.

They did this in December for the tsunami, and now they're doing it again for "The American Tsunami."

Heavy Lifting

One of the instructions on the discharge papers at the hospital a week ago was "no heavy lifting for four weeks." You would think this would be a non-issue for a college-educated urban adult with a cubicle job.

You would be wrong.

Here in New York City, where gas is now $3.50 a gallon and parking and insurance are astronomical, most of us do not own cars. Or we do, but only use them to leave town on weekends and spend the rest of the week moving them from one side of the street to the other.

Consequently, we get around by a combination of walking, public transportation and cabs. And with no car to throw our things into every morning, we leave the house carrying everything for every possible contingency that could arise in the next sixteen hours.

So for the past 25 years or so, I've been having these displays of female macho with my peers:

"I've been carrying this since eight o'clock this morning. Feel how heavy it is!"

"Oh, Melinda...That's nothing. I've been carrying my suit from my temp job, my rehearsal clothes and a set of encyclopedias I'm selling to pay for my voice lessons. And that's just in my black shoulderbag. Look what I've got in my tote bag."

Plus, as you go from place to place, you accumulate more stuff: dry cleaning, groceries, kids. And maybe there was a conference at work and they ordered too much food, so you're taking some of that home to save money. So by the time you return home, you have packages of every size, shape and material hanging from every hangable place on your anatomy. It's as if, in order to keep from becoming a Bag Lady, you've had to inoculate yourself with a minor Bag Lady Virus.

In the past week, however, I've been able to painlessly manage nothing larger than a small handbag that resembles the pocketbook I had when I was ten, with just the bare essentials needed for survival: small wallet, cell, sunglasses, Metrocard. It's the "what could you not live without on a desert island" question made real. Nevermind that the only place I have to rely on this little bag is the half-hour subway ride between my home and my office, where I have a duplicate set of nearly everything. For that half-hour, I am the estrogen version of Robinson Crusoe.

Add to this the fact that my usual exercise routine has been temporarily proscribed and that my usual power walk has been reduced to a gentle stroll, and I'm experiencing not only a flashback to age ten but a preview of old age. I feel I'm lacking the agility to leap out of the way of aggressive people or the intimidating mien to make them get out of my way, and all I can do is wince is they slam into me. And instead of saying "excuse me," these adrenaline-charged folks make these little annoyed "tsk!" sounds because they can't walk through me as if I were a hologram.

Times like this cause me to reflect that as I get older, it may be a good idea to leave the City and buy a condo in some exurban Baby Boomer retirement community where they pipe in British Invasion and Motown and people are happy alllll day long. Heck, there are brokers getting people big money to give up their rent stabilized apartments. If anybody makes us a good offer, we should take it and run.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

nyc bloggers map