Saturday, May 9, 2009

"How many white AIDS orphans have you seen lately?"

Happy Mother's Day weekend! A statement from a book reading about Mothers, dead from AIDS.

God Bless Sindiwe Magona.. a treasure in our world! Her comments at a book launching event in Johannesburg, RSA about ten days ago. Link to the press account.

I have known Sindiwe since 1980 when we were social work students at Columbia University. We are all buddies who live around the world now! Zurich, NYC, Penang, South Africa!

Emailed everyone the past few days and it is a joy to share Sindiwe's voice!

The posted photos are from 1992 into 1993. In 1992, I would meet
Sindiwe in the UN employee dining room. I was up for a job in the UN Secretariat. Sindiwe worked as a
Xhosa translator.
Her books were published in London by Women's Press in 1991. We decided to then have a book reading at Columbia University. Photos of Sindiwe and a CUSSW Dean, Muriel Reed when we were planning in October, 1992. Lastly, photos from the book reading in February, 1993. Wow what an event! Sindiwe also spoke at the start up of Dean Reed's scholarship fund at Columbia in 1999. The fastest growing scholarship fund at Columbia!

In 1993, Sindiwe also spoke to my first college stint! the students loved her! These days in teaching research methodology, I use Sindiwe's books to illustrate memoirs. I read from her first book this week to the class. Later, I googled her and thereupon found the latest news! I will the YouTube share with my classes on Monday! They will be so awed by the words of this one person!

I feel so blessed to have known Sindiwe, her process and work! It is amazing and hopeful to know that such an advocate is being heard around the world! The biggest hugs and best wishes!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy Queens Birthday!

Happy Queen's Birthday! Sympathy to the dead/injured on this year's anniversary. The act of a deranged person. The Queen spoke to her country well and reassuringly.

My photo of S'Hergertenbosh, April 1988 with the Koningen crown displayed over the street. A big holiday particularly in the small towns/cities.

For centuries, the day men could dress in women's clothes and party in Amsterdam! Such a non-American mentalite. Also read a news feed on new park signs in NL warning of a cruising area ahead. Cruising in m2m ... sex in the bushes. It has been done for centuries, so.... Of course, if this was the USA, we would be discussing end times, faith values.. I love NL although I am a bit big for most girl clothes (hairy as well), I am not too interested in sex standing in the mud and bugs... whoa....
the link:

I also read about survey results showing many NL youth had their first marijuana smoke in the USA.. not in the legal NL brown cafes filled with the US, British and German tourists).

Issues to share with my family ethics class! Amazing what the parallel process I go through each term! I love it! The students are doing take home exams this week! I also responded to blogs and news feeds involving ethics, family. Wrote a reply to a blog today on problems in m2m land! I have read these problems since the 1970s.. promiscuity, drugs, partying. Not to say there are not problems but hardly to m2m only. Plus this notion of any lgbt community.. people are individuals not a collective. Once again, the family ethics course touched on heterosexual decline of the family, divorce rates, different baby mamas/dads, and I could add annual events such as Spring Break (that has brought swine flu back from Mexico this year), and the usual weekly events such as Ladies Nights.

Maybe I just need a life.. but fascinating reads. I trust the academic sources of course.. CLAGS work, USC, San Francisco State on lgbt issues. Journalism sells papers but knowledge is in the journals and primary data reports.

big hugs, peace, compassion, and a Happy Happy Queens Birthday!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Granddads, family ethics, HiltonPerez

salut to my granddad buddies. saw my long time friend Larry on the street yesterday. He is now a grandfather! I love it! the generations!

salut also to Hilton Perez in questioning the beauty pageant contestant. I tire of people giving condescending ideas on the matter. A person could simply say her opinions are personal. I have students endlessly ask my opinion on everything. I tell them that my opinion is not important. In fact, my opinion could confuse the situation at times. The importance is to be respectful of other people. The challenge is for people to understand the basis for their opinion. Teaching family ethics, we discuss same sex marriage, marriage, adultery, decision to have children.... I love witnessing the students explore the issues.. many times writing about issues in the first disciplined manner. I grade not on the particular view necessarily, but that they use ideas referenced in the texts as well as in our class discussions. That the students at least show some the ability to write about an issue that someone can understand (no hierogyphics thank you)!

The students critiqued my youtube video on my Mom... "remembering our Mom" at my profMike spot on YouTube. Fascinating comments but also interesting to see how people often just assume. My Mom had a life and a complexity. She may be blessed now that she is in "heaven" but she was actively engaged in the issues of her time.. up thru 2006! She loved Obama!

I dont get into the personal issues of my Mom as it is my own subjectivity. She is not around to answer any "charges". Personal issues are that, and the lenses change in context/time. Friends have a range of ideas on issues including gay marriage. Gay friends who cannot fathom why they should get married to hetero friends who are upset as they have never been invited to any gay marriages. I gave $5 today to a young Dad for his daughter's first birthday party! he is not married to the baby's Mother but such a pleasure to see them together with the baby! And that baby... such a joy! A Pentecostal friend just sent a prayer to be prayed and then sent to 12 others.. a Pentecostal friend who is gay and living with his civil union partner. (i love the requests and it is a good prayer, but i dont send these chain letters anymore). People have complexity in their lives.. there are endless ways to think about life!

The religious perspective is one lens, there are civic and moral lenses as well. Theology does not necessarily equal morality. In parts of the world a man can be polygamous yet a married woman is still be stoned to death for being around an unrelated adult male (not even sleeping with him).

Over time I find it interesting how ideas have changed. For instance, abortion was so often adamantly supported in the 1970s in a time when people remembered when abortions were illegal. Women died from illegal abortions. Nowadays I also have to remind some students that all gays are not lovely people wanting to get married. There are civil union dissolutions and I know many a nasty person gay/lesbian/whatever.

The contestant was condescending as her views are irrelevant. I think PerezHilton's question was good as it asked her level of sophistication on the issue. Of course, all these issues are selective. The former Vice President has a daughter who is in a samel sex civil union and is co-parent with her same sex partner. The Bush twins went to a host of same sex weddings. Gay male couples slept together in the George W Bush WhiteHouse. The political posturing has a whole hypocrisy to it.

I believe much of what goes on is also becoming familiar with changes in the politic. People have many more choices in life. One of the security officers at my building is transgender. I rarely see the person but know the officer was upset about using wrong pronouns when being addressed. I dont know what pronoun this person expects, I just use "officer"...

and my buddy Larry the new grandfather is involved in m2m relationships. i never asked about the mother of his daughter, whether his daughter knows.... his daughter loves him is all I know. it was just a delight to hear Larry talk about the joy in his granddaughter!

peace, hugs, compassion

Saturday, April 18, 2009

family and Susan Boyle

photo of Croatian cousins... Chicago 2007! Thanks to cousin Dee!

Wowed by the miracle of Susan Boyle... she may change our world! Like Michael Phelps, we have a person with learning disabilities show the world how to do something! There is the need to be sensitive to the nuances of somewhat vulnerable people and the glare of the snake media... gunning for a scoop, creating drama for better sales figures. Need I say it is a vicious world out there. Already I see some guy insists he dated Susan Boyle.

There is little critical thinking in the everyday world. I remind my students that there are 47 sides to any story; anyone can and does say anything. Life is not a democracy. As Hofstadter so eloquently wrote there is the paranoid style in every politic. Conspiracies and gossip sell media stories.

Susan Boyle is a singer with the voice of an angel. She lives in a small village in northern Scotland, has no computer, knows not the internet. She was the youngest of 9 children and her Mom took special care of her due to her needs. I hope that she has good support from family or others although it is always a risk. She is active in the Catholic church but the church has its own agenda. Was reading a Catholic blog today about Susan Boyle and looking at the anti-Obama ads parked on the site....

When my Mom died she wisely left a will giving equal payments to all of her children. Of course there wound up not being equal distribution as some of her 9 children owed her thousands of dollars, some took more belongings than others.... Some siblings allege comments as their favored status over others, "according to Mom". It is all to be expected. My Mom volunteered with those having psychiatric disabilities.. it was also an outlet for her in handling her children...

Since Mom's death, there has been some reapproachment, sensitivity and caring among my Mom's children. We all miss her but we also have each other. A brother took care of handling the distribution of my Mom's estate well. He handle family issues well! He sings in his church choir.. maybe he is next! My sister in Boston just sent me more great green tea and a box of food goodies! My doorperson said "What a great sister!" Another sister phoned me every night when I was in the hospital despite her having a job, a 6year old, a home, a husband, her own needs! Thanks much!

I hope that Susan Boyle finds support and guidance for her in the face of multimillion dollar earnings and fame. I hope she has a great publicist. Just thinking of how NYC/NJ activists could ask her her opinion on gay marriage. There is a certain sophistication living in NYC/NJ that may not exist in her world of Scotland. Of course, the UK does have civil registries and great support for equality in marriges.

I read about Susan's Mom bringing her on pilgrimages to Knock, her Mom was a devout Marian. I know many a devout Marian. My Mom was consecrated to the Virgin Mary at birth and dressed only in blue by her Aunt, a former Carmelite nun (sent home for being too religious). My father whom my Mom divorced after 49 years of marriage leads the rosary in his daily Mass attendance. Religious conviction does not equal concern for others, especially those one disagrees with.

Mother's generally have that unconditional love. Winnicuit's "good enough mothering"! I will always remember seeing my baby picture smiling at the world on my Mom's makeup table.. she looked at me everyday for 52 years! Whoa!!! no one else has nor will (unless I met them today and live to 104, albeit scary to think who wants to gaze at my baby picture everyday besides me.. and my blessed Mother!).

The bottom line is that as a vulnerable person in particular, I pray that Susan gets the support, love and interest in and for her to help change our world! In all simplicity, I love Susan Boyle for the view in which she is changing the lens on what a person can do! Thanks much!

hugs, peace, compassion

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Susan Boyle inspired

thank you Susan Boyle for reminding me and the world of our humanity!

wowed like millions by Susan Boyle's performance, her story is so inspiring. Living in a little Scottish village, in public housing, 47 years, long term unemployed "but still looking", took care of her mother, who died in 2007. Susan felt she had to sing to fulfill the wish of her deceased Mom! A real life story of anyperson to fulfill their dream! The type of person one usually ignores and thinks not much of, too old, nor buffed, sharkish enough. She reminds me of endless people I have known in that song.. "I dreamed a dream". She wanted to sing to a larger group. She took the big leap to her dream and like millions, i am just blown away by the performance!

getting ready for another college reunion this weekend. thinking how the hundreds of us at Columbia with Barack Obama passed him by all the time and who knew that today, such an inspiring President!

so wowed by the inspiring stories! and that voice of an angel, truly!

many many big wishes for her success and happiness! thanks much for the happiness in your voice and story to share in our world! I know her Mom must be smiling at her from somewhere! We are all smiling at Susan! Love her simple waves of kisses to those she enthralled..... wow! I hope she gets to the end and performs for the Queen. I hope she is invited to meet President and Mrs. Obama! I know she will be offered many a big kiss!

hugs, peace, compassion

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

dating age, "not fat enough",,,

love happens between men of varying ages everyday. love happens at any age! thoughts of a couple of guys in their 50s now celebrating a year together! another couple, met in their 40s, now having their 15th year! Mazel tov!!!!

As a college professor (research, psychiatric content), Columbia U alum/teaching, 54 years old, and as a NYC/NJ denizen, I run into younger men everyday. it is interesting to realize the crushes younger men have on me as I am easy to confide in. My issue with younger men is that it is all too easy to manipulate the seductiveness. There is a power differential that I don't exploit, so I do not get involved with men much younger than 30 years (of course there could be one in 10 million...). Anyhow, 20 somethings always zone out... poor things having to deal with creating an adult identity! There is also the generational zeitgeist... I was definitely part of mine!

Photo of one of my grandfather buddies! Salut to grandfathers!!!

My whole issue now is how to respond to men in their 70s who routinely send me shouts online! Younger men are a breeze to deal with but as we live longer ... dating men in their 70s? I look to see life views (no republicans of course), some geographic nogos.. I have no interest in Florida, Georgia, Texas...too republican and HUMID! I look for a joy of life! Some of the sexiest men I have chatted with online are studs in their late 60s!

all of these age issues are in constant flux of course. All of a sudden, I am over 50 which is in itself a whole other lens changer. Being over 50 years, I feel I have achieved longevity and not too concerned with so many of the usual stuff younger men are caught up in. I wear what I want, express my thoughts with a historical and intellectual certainty just from the experiential awareness of how society has changed. I may use a cane at times, but i was a go-go boy, never had to wait in line to get into a club, had radio shows, had my black chaps/white 501 attire that made me fierce! I have had an adult identity for 30 years! There is a whole gap that I feel ultimately with guys 20 or 30 years younger than me. I dont have that for men older than me. I generally find most of the men I like older than me are in long term relationships and I am ultimately not interested in just a casual sex thing.

I have been in love but i am also a survivor of the AIDS plague. Everyone of my buddies from the 1970s and most of my contemporaries from the 1980s died before the advent of the new meds in the 1990s. So I am just amazed that I am HIV negative and living with the memories of over 3000 buddies. My favorite men all died. I have never been entirely single, having a partner or then a regular date(s) my entire adult life.

I am a NYC flaneur so I dont stay home with a pet, my tv is broken, and I like being out of the house to socialize. I have always been involved in what's up at the time. In the 1970s, I was in NY, SF, Provincetown, a gogo boy (background dancer in jeans on a cable show) and part of the whole gay revolution. Into the 1980s, I was a Saint/Garage/Palladium club goer; then spent most of my free time in Berlin, Amsterdam, Zurich and Paris as I had the friends to visit and money to travel often. in the 1990s, I was so involved in NYC life... working with the homeless, people with AIDS; and in my personal life, somedays up to 15 men would phone me in a day to hang. There are so many men but I have been content (sometimes to my detriment) to be fairly serial monogamous. It is in the last few years time to mostly teach/read/think. the realization that there is always another man (in the elevator, around the corner...) when I hear "too old" "or too young" or "not Black" or "not enough money for me", or "not fat enough". And that is what I generally tell men of every age, color, size who complain about rejection.

I am alive, engaged, and enjoying life's adventures! My favorite friends who changed our universe are all dead, young. Young men have a seductiveness but I have seen thousands burn out, go Republican, get wierd. These days I am beyond thrilled that we have a President Obama who has already given gays a lot! If I was 10 years younger I would be applying for a White House job (I did apply to the Clinton White House). So, if someone doesnt want to know about me.. who cares! I have a life is my mantra! Loving the challenges as I do get older and my perspectives change about dating, age, life!

hugs, peace, compassion

Monday, April 13, 2009

college life

Easter Monday.. back to work in the USA! If anything life in the USA is "where are you working?" in teaching college part time it is confronting the reality of the all encompassing work!

Thoughts from reading a range of blogs about college life. For many college students it is about juggling college and work. In my undergrad experience, I first had dorm life, then a job that paid for my tuition, then I finished college by having a roommate and being poor all the time! Here I am poor at the time, skipping class.. it had to be social psychology as I still dream that I missed class, an exam, and I have a paper due. (photo at Riis Beach, May 1977). The bus to the beach was at the end of the subway line at Brooklyn College. What a joy to go to the beach that hot May 1977!

Thoughts from the blogs...
students have problems focusing.... in meditating one tries to get rid of all the samsara of life. it is just hard to be focused, one trains oneself to do that. For 20 somethings there are hormonal and developmental issues still going on. I forever look at 24 year olds and see the zoning out. It is normative. Students often need to be kinder to themselves. Work work is generally immediate satisfaction and concrete.

On the other hand, one needs to prioritize. once again I have students who are away this week on vacation since their kids are out from school; or students cannot concentrate on reading but went to a concert on the weekend and had the best partying!

complaints about the adjuncts... colleges are businesses and full time professors are managing research grants or consulting contracts that bring dollars to the university! University professors will have graduate students, dissertation candidates, etc. It is the academic environment. I can understand some complaints but then again there is student grandiosity that involves thinking that one is so intellectually gifted one should be with the best.... allegedly, full time professors. Some of the best teachers are adjuncts or junior faculty. LOL, I know a whole number of the older generation of professors who slept with their professors to get their jobs. It was not about intellectual work. Once again, college is a work place. There is still who one knows! The "best" students will generally get some research or seminar projects. But, most students are not intellectually gifted. I visited one of my undergrad sociology professors in the 1990s. She was impressed with my graduate work and amazed that I never had any special projects in college. I have my intellectual gifts but I was an art major in college and spent all my time making art. As I said... I had that nightmare of the social psychology exam/paper for years!

I also loved Columbia because I loved the whole environment! The differing schools, the International House, the library! whoa what a library! The continuing abundance of lectures, workshops, the dynamics of a university in the city! So a perfect graduate school! Interesting to read another blog about out of town students fussing about the greatness of NYC. Wrote back that there is great diversity in NYC as it is a Babylon. Students often visit from their college which reflects the class/race/ethnic stratification in much of the US. Why should colleges be any different? People come to NYC for the opportunity as well as to get away from intellectual & social conformity; as to Chicago, Los Angeles....

Maybe 30 to 34% of students graduate from accredidated colleges (not Bible, mail order, online). Any business can say it is a college.. but is it accredidated? Will the credits transfer? The majority of Americans now go to college but also do not graduate. High school drop outs/age outs go to community colleges to finish their GEDs. I applaud my graduating seniors that it is an accomplishment that they are graduating! The last semester may be tough but it is all in their heads.. they are just almost there! Of course, one graduates and then everyone wants to know what "big" job will one get? College is not linked in with the overall labor market policy in this country. But one gets a diploma which will not be taken away. Jobs come/go and one's work performance is but one variable in a workplace. A college degree is a lifetime achievement!

I love teaching part time. I also like a regular job for the day to day interactions and normative reality of it. Teaching can be too isolating for me. I have no big interest in full time academic life because I like the bustle of worklife. I am like many social workers who teach part time in lieu of having a private practice. The students always add a dynamism to my intellectual life. Of course among social workers I also hear how research was their worse experience! I have always loved reserach. But I find my own projects to be too bohemian for normal science. My photos, altars, blogs, memoirs are more literary than social science. I have also always seen myself more as an organizer than a clinician although I have great clinical skills. I like being Professor... and never think of being Doctor.... I liked doctors until I started working with them.. but that is another blog....

hugs, peace, compassion

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Oster, April 1990 Vierwaldstatter See, CH

happy Easter! Photos from 1990... boat ride on the Vierwaldstatter See from Luzern to Burgenstock and back. What a good trip with my Zurich amigos!

impossible to answer but tried to give a list of my favorite books on a site..... so many favorite books. as a college professor I have spent 30plus years reading, recommending, creating curriculum. A recent favorite is Istanbul, by Pamuk! Wow such history, perspective, a good story of growing up! Prior to that was Pankuj Mishra's An End to Suffering. (I am such a NYReview of Books junkie).

My all time favorite gay book is Becoming a Man, by Paul Monette! Whoa what a story... the best yet! Another Country by James Baldwin has to be the best NYC novel ever!

my long time favorite social perspectives are by the iconics such as: Richard Hofstadter, C Wright Mills, Peter Gay, bell hooks, Sindiwe Magona, Ann Burack-Weiss all being other Columbia University faculty/grads. Havent read President's Obama's memoir, but as an alum, I instinctively understand his perspectives. (My first college years & degree in art from Brooklyn College and then time at the NY Art Students League, so love Lee Bontecou, Sylvia Stone, Pearlstein...). In the last year or so, I have mostly religiously read endless issues of Art Forum so I am also a bit out of the literary au courant news!

I know a bunch of authors/publishers/editors so biased towards their works. love the Harry Potter series... (no one predicted Arthur would be the publisher! whoa) I wrote a letter to the Diane von Furstenberg crew , they replied with her book! What a fast good read!

love the classics such as Dante, Freud, DW Winnicuit, deTocqueville, Marx, Habermas, James Joyce, Agnes Smedley, Pema Chodron, Georges Simenon!

I am busy working so I am gathering my next reading list... Bolano, Nathalie Serraute.... Every 5 years or so, Ihad a year to just read all who I have to read. in 2002, I read Dante, Saint Augustine, the Tibetan book of living & dying, then James Joyce! I will die before reading it all but maybe I have some clues to the next life..( ?)

hugs, peace, compassion

Friday, April 10, 2009

Koln Gut Freitag 10 Avril 2009

Koln is a metaphor for my Good Friday. 3 visits to Koln on Good Friday. 1987, 1988, 1990. Love coming into the hauptbahnhof and seeing the Koln Dom! Certainly one of our world's memorable vistas!

The b/w are in April, 1987, my first visit to Koln. Travelled with a friend and we went to the Dom, then walk along the river, back to the hauptbahnhof. We took the sleeper train to Munich that night! The color photo in January, 1989.

Was in Koln on Good Friday, 1988, but late and decided to leave the area. There was a soccer match and i witnessed the biggest display of public drunkenness that I have witnessed anywhere before or since. The NYC Saint Patrick's Day is relatively sober in relation to that Koln nacht! Not speaking much German nor any dialect, travelling alone, I decided to continue my train journey on German railpass!

Over time religious theology has had less interest for me from any literal sense of course but also as a metaphor. My theology is that there is a spirituality in the world but it has different content and practice. I look at religious practice in an ethnographic lens. Watching, listening, appreciating. Oft times, I like the music or smells or rituals. Religious practice embodies histories.... Dordrecht, Worms, Zwingli, Saint Augustine, Akbar, Sufis, indigenous dieties. Over time, I completely doubt the reason for a cruxification. Why would a God create such a dilemma? I dont think of a Satan although I have certainly seen evil in the world. Sin oftimes is mental illness or sociopathic behavior. I appreciate social activism practiced by religous peoples but I cannot understand all the literal, sin, damnation. I appreciate the Buddhist sense of helping to ease suffering. I believe in the worth of all, social conscience, helping to ease suffering. I have no issues with those who go to "church" although I have problems with the ideological focus to force others to conform to a particular viewpoint. I particularly abhore the orthodoxy of Christians, Muslims, Jews as there is no one answer. My usual retort to Christian zealots about being saved to go to heaven is that "since I dont want to be with them on Earth, I couldnt imagine being with them in eternity". As usual the orthodox are more about what one may only know or the problems in one's head. Once again, thanks to the Obama administration for their actions to adjust the insanity of the orthodox in the hypocritical Bush years.

Happy Oster weekend!

Saw the am news shows heute for the first time in ages. Interesting to watch the spins. Big coverage on the pirate situation off Somalia. Tragic but going on for months. Relief agencies have had their cargos looted, cruise ships have been boarded over time. I last followed news that the French navy was intercepting a few months ago. I dont know how defense protocols have evolved, not following the situation recently. But, the jingoistic news coverage is fascinating! Interesting to hear the posturing about what the US should do. Once again, kudos for President Obama's statement that these are international waters and not much we can concretely do instantaneously at the moment. It is a pleasure not to hear a knee jerk reaction immediately! I will read the UN and affiliate feeds to learn more about the problem solving.

Typical Good Friday... lots of closings, people having the day off. Quiet, or quieter outside. Many parties for the weekend what with a 3day holiday.

peace, hugs, compassion

Monday, April 6, 2009

heute 6 April

continuing thoughts on what is my day like...
when teaching...
wake up, check caller ID to see if any important messages. boil water for my green tea, brew tea and put it on the side. take some meds with 2%milk. Then, put on sweats, walk thru building, wind up in minimart in basement of building. have a koffie, gossip with neighbors or with the employees, checking out het weer from the window there. No neighbors today but the postperson, so early post today! back up elevator to my apartment...
with the green tea... to the computer. boot up. check my 3 emails. check my rss feeds reader and read maybe 35 items on my to-read list (out of usually 1000+ feed reads in each day's reader). No emails today but from a student who has yet to be in class (this is our second week).
answer critical emails.. usually notes to friends...
started this blog and inserted photo, 7 april 1962 of my first communion invite to my parents! whoa! photo in blog!
back to the building lobby to get mail. Nothing at all! LOL, my Monday Chronicle of Higher Ed is missing. And, a check that was allegedly mailed Thursday. back upstairs...
phoned the check writer.... explained on voicemail that I thought the check would be here! Now stressed as I dunno what is up and I wanted to pay my rent today. Otherwise, have to go to the bank, take out money at my deposit bank (not to pay atm fees) and then get a money order for the rent. I am also annoyed as I am debating writing a letter about my front door lock being broken, broken intercom... On the other hand, not interested in going to court with the building. Oh well.. to be continued.. My brother is doing me a big favor writing a check from my Mom's account, just I asked him so late...
go through course outlines and check what is to be taught today. make sure my attendance list is up to date. gather handouts and make sure to scan for further use. today, I updated a take-home journal assignment for students, and a guide to their final project. checked and changed dates if needed for when student teams meet. emailed the attachments to my college email. I am not printing out at home anymore and using my personal ink and paper.
had a phone conversation with a social work colleague about protocols, diversity, cultural competency issues in NJ.
and then time to shower, dress, make sure my texts are in my bag. do the commute shuffle!
big hugs, compassion, peace

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Alliance of Civilizations

Second convening of the UN Alliance of Civilizations today in Istanbul. Great choice for President Obama to be in Istanbul although the US is not a member of the UN subgroup. The UN alliance has a multiplicity of members but I feel it builds from the mediterrenean heritage. Much focus on the middleEast. Have been very pleased Obama would visit Turkey as it really is a central point in our world. European/Asian, heir to the Ottoman empire, a country on the verge of being part of the advanced industrial nations. Makes great diplomatic and economic sense!

pastel drawing, 1985 Turkish Children's Day parade in NYC.

peace, hugs, compassion

Friday, April 3, 2009

la vie, Avril 2009

2 folks asked "what do you do allday?"

Getting ready to thankfully just swim at the local pool in less than 90 days!

i teach 2 or 3 courses each semester. They are intense but I love them! It is a blessing to have these classes whatwith the discourse, the essays, their projects to review! Scanned the 1972 Third Year of Women's Liberation" in relation to my family ethics course.

But, I have other skills so I have been looking for a day job but I get stuck as I have only recently progressed since I was poisoned by a bed bug invasion in my apartment (2007). I was last in the hospital for a week in December. I still walk with my cane. It is not as difficult to walk now!

As a social worker, I finally burned out in 2005 from 10 years of working with homeless mentally ill women, then with lesbian/gay high school students, then with HIV patients inhospital ... the NJ years were mostly an affront as I really had had little experience with the corruption, discriminations and indifference so rampant in systems of great stress. There were many really great times but mostly lots of stress, endless work, and then all of the deaths with the AIDS patients. Unlike NYC, I had no supervision, I had more training and expertise than my supervisors. Endless work, do my life, back to work... As someone who teachs research, I am well aware of the indifference of many "professionals" to the knowledge base in our discipline. Emotionally beyond exhaustion, but intellectually fascinating. I have so much depth and breadth from my experiences to share with the students. They drive my idea to write as they love my storytelling.... plus I get to read so many essays and project reports each semester!

400 pages to these memoirs but unhappy with my voice. I write for my own memory.... (a long ago buddy Arthur Levine.. publisher of the Harry Potter series... told me to stop bothering him with my stories! Oh well). I wondered if a colleague who works for George Soros had ideas.. (she just left for her yearly meetings in Sao Paolo, then Nairobi, then Istanbul!) Whoa.. I should be there.. I could swim..... Anyhow, I asked for a job in Mongolia... I dont think she understood the irony as Soros does fund programs in Mongolia. She seemed confused when I then said I was only joking! I actually do like Mongolia as well as Wyoming. I talk about a job in Wyoming with a high school buddy back in Colorado, Randy. The tall urban towers exchanged for the vast expanse! Anyhow, I have also had time to do art projects, photographs. My first degree was in art.. I had a photo account at Citibank. I also followed up with long ago Citibank buddies. I was able to network! Soon, different social work projects started coming in to me.... and then...

In late 2006, my Mom suddenly died. I helped with the State memorial for her. She was thanked for helping those with psychiatric issues. Then dividing up her house... I inherited some money. Reestablishing relationships with siblings I rarely saw before her death. I was feeling physically good and planned to travel, visit friends in Zurich, Berlin, London, Rotterdam and the cote d'azure again. (I use to go to Europe every Easter time). I was poisoned by the renovations in my apartment after bed bug invasions! i walk with my cane as my lungs collapse although I am getting better. I was last in the hospital in December.

So, I am looking for a new day job.. although have to organize my job hunt.. Lots of social work jobs as with the Veterans Admin but I dunno if I can sit all day with the amputees and the psychiatric issues. I cannot do everything anymore! I was up for a job at the VA when my Mom died in 2006. I am also always up for different UN consulting jobs but I keep forgetting to send my CV in time.. they usually post with a 1 or 2 day cutoff. (my doctoral study was at Columbia School of International and Public Affairs).

As usual, I know a lot of people so I get advocacy alerts. Generally press and letter writing. From 1982 to 1992, I did community organizing, then corporate social affairs. In 1983, I was doing 3 radio shows, gave over 250 press interviews, a legislative hearing, advocacy events! From 1986 to 1992, lots of community events, but also the ability to fund local community groups, participate in nonprofit startups, buy tickets to fundraisers. I always have passion about ideas!

Yesterday, I called the White House. Today, phoned various legislators, then trade associations. Advocated on mental health issues, for gay marriage (although I dont know anyone who has even been to one), discussed the new Haitian economic opportunity policy implementations (to create a garment industry). I started fishing to see if others want to have a festschrift for a friend who has done so much community work in NYC/NJ. I always help fundraise for her charity dinners. Lastly, I was advocating for Michelle Obama to come to the NY Council of Fashion Designers' dinner in June! That would be a coup.. Also thought about.... Michelle Obama in DvF at the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Park with the UN backdrop! Wow! I love Michelle Obama! I also love Eleanor Roosevelt!!!

anyhow.. always much to do in life! My Mom had 9 children, 5 grandchildren, a house, a (ex)husband, a job, and then listened to people with mental illness everday! the folks most of us run away from! Most of all, I am lucky to have had time to seriously teach, work on projects, see the world in different ways!

hugs, peace, compassion

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

maart altar

photographed my current art altar. I have had such altars since 1977 and my cross-country hitchhiking journey to SF/Oregon and back to Brooklyn. In SF, encountered the Mexican and Native American altar concepts. What with all of the religious artifacts, photos of people, objects, make some sort of montage to capture the essence. Two major posters.. collage of angels, prayer cards, medallions, religious symbols, Walter Benjamin's Klee angel, photo of Tede's window in SF, Scholem's kabbalah sefiroth; the other of men important to me.. evolving.. only Obama, Einstein and Tagore on today. In the far right lower is a poster of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Under the large poster are my collection of Buddhas.. those $1 to $5 objects sold on the subway, streets, etal in NYC. My crystal ball from Gumps department store in SF. A Zurich panorama of Saint Regula holding her head (after being martyred).

peace, hugs, compassion


Film/Video list to relate to my family ethics course. Endless films but looked for poignant stories that show some history, role status or crisis, diverse family constellations. For instance, put in the "Charlie Chan" film as in actualite, few Chinese families had the "joyous" family as Americans still lived under immigration rules such as the Chinese Exclusion Act that was not really repealed until the 1960s. Picked films from IMG "my movies" listing:

“A Woman under the influence” (1974) Faces.
“ La Belle et La Bete” (1946) Jean Cocteau.
“Big Love” (2006) HBO
“Brief Encounter (1945) Cineguild UK
“Cabin in the Sky” (1943) Metro Goldwyn Mayer.
“Children of Men” (2006) Universal.
“The Color Purple” (1985) Amblin Entertainment.
“Charlie Chan at the Circus” (1936) Twentieth Century Fox.
“Love with the Proper Stranger” (1963) Pakula-Mulligan.
“Noah’s Arc” (2005) Open Door Productions.
“The Soprano’s” (1999) Home Box Office.
“Transgeneration” (2005) LOGO Entertainment.
“The Women” (1939) Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

Both of my courses (research, ethics) there was discussion about marriage equality. Amazingly enough, only one of my 30+ students, older working adults, mostly parents, NYC, multi-ethnic, has attended a same-sex wedding. One student works for a lgbt community org and has not been to a ceremony. In fact, I have not been to a same sex wedding. I certainly know a number of couples with domestic partnerships, but no ceremonies. Couples with children have legal rights for the children but no commitment ceremonies, to date. Just interesting sidelines to the media focus on same sex marriage.

Once again, students will have group projects and at least 2 teams will look at lgbt issues. The teams decide on their own phenomena to explore. It is always fascinating to see the range, depth of the projects!

Watched "Goodbye Lenin" today and thought of past Marz und April in Berlin. Posted photo of my favorite Berlin DDR cafe in the Alexanderplatz, April, 1987.

peace, hugs, compassion

Sunday, March 29, 2009

looking for the flowers

my new roommate, Tede, looking out the window at the CherryBlossom marathon runners this Sunday am. Rain showers heralding the blossoms which should really start to show this week! up late so I missed most of the runners. But I can see the buds expanding on all of the trees around. The forsythia has started showing all along the freeway ramps! Salut la primavera!

one of the building porters asked if I wanted Tede. He was tossed to the garbage. LOL.. I just hope he doesnt have bed bugs... sprayed him. Such a bed bug explosion these past few years... ugh! I take almost no objects on the street anymore.

my favorite animal.. penguin.. as was of my friend Tede of SF. One can see my small penguin from Pearl River department store looking at Tede! My Our lady of Guadalupe poster against the wall, another Marian object of devotion as in the case of the Black Madonna!

peace, hugs, compassion

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Black Madonna et faux AfroSwiss

Long chat with one of my almost 30jahre of friendship buddies about her experience in Poland being called the "Black Madonna", her hand stroked, people even bowed! Her visit was during the "cold war" on one of those junkets organized to get Western currency. She went to an international social work conference and then on to the tour junket. Visiting one of the Black Madonna shrines, she encountered many who obviously never met a person of color, or a "Western" person of color. The simplicity of real feelings and simple respect! Great story, and of course in my mind, she is a Black Madonna. She furthermore related the story at a nonprofit board meeting. Most of the members were bewildered having little understanding of the nuances of race, class, geography. The apartheid of class what with a board being primarily very wealthy "white people" helping the poor, primarily working class people of color. The dynamics of high/low... but I say "God Bless Obama" for changing some of the lenses!

Interesting history of the Black Madonnas in Europe. Often destinations for pilgrimages due to histories of "miracles" around the statue/painting. One of the most interesting in Bavaria where the heart of King Ludwig kept. And, the Black Madonna of Croatia!

In April, 1987, travelled in Western Europe with a NYC buddy. In Zurich, on the quai alongside the ZurichSee, an entertainer stopped him, delighting in his being an African American. My buddy delighted in his celebrity at times being an African American in Switzerland and Germany. The simple exchanges of interactions in other locales! A big event in his life being outside the subway universe many of us only traverse for years! Great cross-cultural stories! It was fascinating to watch people interact with him!

Reminder also of how one never really knows how another processes their interpretation of who one is, what one is saying. A similiar notion of how people present who they want others to think they are albeit the reality may be very different. But mostly, the reality that one can change the lenses and be seen and survive in a very positive light. of course, that is the story of American Babylons such as NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago! In more high/low, Madonna uses religious imagery such as in the probably Martin de Porres to comfort her in a video. Reality.. loved seeing Cocteau's La Belle et la bete again! toujours la belle!

Monday, a new, short semester. Happy to have had the story of my friend's experience in Poland whilst thinking of how I will start a new semester. Once again, the importance of my reminding students that they are a distinct minority in actually getting a college degree from an accredited college. Jobs, whatever may come and go, but no one will phone and ask for one's diploma back. Research can be a stress for many students but I remind them that everyone else in their degree area finished and they are no different! It is about changing the lenses so that one can process how much is known research but thinking out of the scientific method, or just critical thinking is not always developed! It is part of the responsibility of being an educated person!

thanks again to the universe for my Black Madonna buddy, and that first Euro tour with a NYC buddy!

hugs, peace, compassion

Friday, March 27, 2009

Boum por 27 Mars 2009

I felt "Boum" all day... in the low 60s here in "la route NYC enchantee". Played Charles Trenet (1938). Worked on photo montages and other collages. Wondering who the people in this old photo could be. Those who may know are mostly passed on. Could be a maternal great grandfather. I assume taken in Chicago. This great grandfather died in January, 1928. He had 11 children, 4 of whom died within 2 years of birth. My great grandmother was my Mom's favorite and the matriarch for that family. The photo among those in my Mom's collection.

Back to work on Monday after 3 months off. Dunno that I accomplished what I wanted but I think I will have more perspective on that when I get back to teaching Monday. Teaching Ethics and teaching Methods of Research again. Look forward to the class discussions in Ethics and to the student group projects in Research. Back to the NYC walk abouts.. perfect time to be back in the mix. Thankfully missed standing in our long bitter cold winter!

Salut la primavera!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

AIDS activism 2009

Blackheart 2, issue no 4, "the prison issue". a journal of writing and graphics by black gay men. A friend of mine produced the magazine. I found it in cleaning out stuff, sent him copy of the cover page. He has moved and much lost in the moving (as ever).

Interesting ...prison, gay men, AIDS, 1984, the social control. So much HIV has come through the penal system whatwith men locked up with poor system hygiene and certainly no protections. One could not have devised a better system to create an infection pool. The structural reality of racism, homophobia, social control.

was thinking of a piece by an AIDS activist complaining about the lack of HIV activism today. My sense is that once HIV got out of just the "gay" vector, the role of activism and advocacy changed. The Bush administration in particular funding so many abstinence groups having an orthodox religious perspective. The mainstream black church has never been the first to go to the barricades. Despite the myths, there have been few Bayard Rustin-like advocates in our world; it took a Martin Luther King, Jr. to step out of the comfort box! Today, the Roman Catholic pope sermonizes against condoms. In the real world it would be great not to have to use condoms but there is a reality.....

for me, HIV is a morass. The problems of so many systems as well as the psychological and social issues. I collapsed from working in-patient hospital with HIV patients and I am an educated person with diverse work experience. The lack of support, work loads, just exhaustion. 20% of my patients died and few cared. I bought the holiday presents as somehow the budget was spent on other things. I never met any AIDS activists, they were busy in the NYC life. The visitors were my friend the nun, the monsignor, monks, and people from a Baptist church giving out Bibles and asking patients to accept Jesus. Staff with good hearts but who lacked basic sexuality education..... mantras such as the orthodox line that all gay men have been abused. The second largest inhospital program in the US! Beyond sad...

jail.. whoa! 20% of the population is probably sociopathic. Police sweeps generally targeted in areas of visible crime and arresting those with few legal resources. Working with prisoners is a sad story as well. I have had my share of clients/patients. In real life, besides 2 of my siblings, I know 4 people with jail times well. For three of them, jail time was substance rehab time as they were out of control drugging in the streets! 2 of the guys have psychiatric issues. Jail is now the largest provider of institutional psychiatric care, another example of inappropriate social control. Of course, I know first hand the dangers in being the object of someone who is delusional, violent, and not taking one's medicine. Two of the 6 are basic sociopaths... endlessly looking to get over on anyone and ready to blame everyone else. Another morass....

thanks to the universe, there are progressive advocates, people with compassion, as well as basic social science researchers. the research is there on how to better the systems and to help people. In life it is always about engaging, educating, hoping to change ideological perspectives.

anyhow.. my buddy who did the Blackheart issues is still advocating! Big bravo to him for 30 years of engaging the world!

peace, hugs, compassion

Monday, March 23, 2009

Corporate bailouts

The commotion around the AIG scandal, bank bailouts, Madoff is way too much drama! Of course companies are going to look at ways to maximize their profits. The media, overly corporate as it is, usually goes along with the game. AIG found ways to give out bonuses. Ok, the government response then is to tax the bonuses and fine touch bailout agreements. The Obama administration is responding appropriately. The nitpicking is usual game playing. The Madoff fraud is what it is and plenty of people went along with it. The American mantra has been leave business alone for 20 years, since the Reagan years. It was all vodoo but Americans got increased credit, more commodities, and jingoisim. Who had credit cards in the 1970s? Furthermore, the Madoff situation was set up so that Madoff pleaded guilty to fraud so that the "victims" could get some restitution. I would like restitution for my 401k. CNN, MSNBC, the networks have routinely played invest, put money in that 401k, the market provides the best returns....

Obama's big issue is to juggle the interests of the oligarchs who control credit, find ways that the financial institutions can do profitable risk, and create real regulation. There has never been a free market, it is a myth. The housing subprime problem happened because the Bush administration saw home ownership as the best opportunity for Americans and the financial companies found ways to maximize their earnings. The bubble was always seen as a gonna burst but no one pays attention to the doomsayers. Capitalism is built on boom/bust. We are now in the bust and the challenge is to figure out the next boom. I have lived thru 6 of these busts in my adult life.

In my life, I have known many wealthy people, very few who voted Republican, and most in favor of fair taxation. The loudmouths have been those making middle class wages, often civil servants, or independent contractors always whining about their sacrifices in not making the big bucks. Most have had few social skills, limited intelligence, grasping, jealous natures. Of course, plenty of those with wealth who vote Republican but Conservatives generally give more in charity donations than most social workers, teachers, therapists.

General thoughts from thinking about the photo posted. I was fortunate to do community affairs for 9 years thru a corporation. In general, I worked with the best spirits of people. They would donate blood, or show up for a walkathon, give to United Way, mentor. It was the spirit of corporate social responsibility. It was my best paying job, with the least amount of workplace drama. Being in NYC there was also diversity having bosses, always senior Vice Presidents, of all colors, genders, orientations, social backgrounds. One of my bosses allowed me to do AIDS education, training on lgbt issues which I wrote up and presented at a 1988 social work conference. At the conference social workers were bewildered as to the purpose of education as most still treated people as psychological cases. One of my bosses, a senior Vice President, brought me to a NAACP convention in NYC, to visit her old beau, the Governor of Virginia, before New Jersey had its first African American congressmember. Another employee, who is now among the 100 most influential bankers in the world routinely gave to the GMHC and other groups (she would privately join me in sending a check).

They made money but also contributed to the real lives of others. Just a bit of nuance to this current bust in the capitalist cycle. As usual, I trust President Obama who is a realist and has a tough job juggling the consitutencies in our world.

peace, hugs, compassion


Sunday, March 22, 2009

spring ist gesprungen

gorgeous day!
scanned more materials to finish organizing some of the endless photos
since the death of our Mom in 2006, no shared heimat... my Mom held the core of the relationships and kept the momentos of our lives. Waiting to see how the next generation goes and who will carry on with the legacies. I send materials to a sister for her daughter, my neice. I was sending momentos to another niece but her parents (one of my brothers' got wierd on me). Dunno if I will talk with my niece until she comes of age.
scan of our Mom's 9 children from our high school graduation photos on a wall of her home.

peace, hugs, compassion

Saturday, March 21, 2009

finalmente Spring!!!

Salut to the new Spring! Me amo la primavera! Heute, the first full dag!
woke up tooo late for the snow shower in the NYC area ayer, but the pandemonium was going on all day! such a cold winter hier!
but later in the day het weer was prima!

my sister in Boston mailed me more green tea.. love it! organized photos and drawings from the past 50 years (and those of my Mom) today. drawings in with photos.. so I separated them at least. Found my really cool Rotterdam poster Vecht voor Vriendschaap! which I thought was stolen when my apartment was painted as it was lost for 2 years until today! thank the universe!
Posted the drawing that I made of my sister in Aout 1977! Emailed it to her today with my big thanks!

just mailed her articles from old 3PennyReview issues. Sent her an article on Bolano and on Nathalie Sarraute.. she will appreciate those articles. Love 3PennyReview but cannot keep all the copies. Also have NYReview of Books, Book Forum, ArtForum, SocialWork.... thankfully there are libraries!

cleaning up the apartment as the State does their every 5 year inspection this week. Just clean up a bit. LOL, my neighbor with psychosis saw me today.. walked by me, grunted, called me "white trash", tossed a piece of paper high in the air at me. It happened so fast and I called out "hey" but then caught myself and added .. "you dropped something".. but otherwise ignored as she goes off in a psychotic rant. Sadly, her meds must be low, or she is drinking and drugging again thus washing out the meds. Dunno if she has a new gun (the others were confiscated last year). She is on parole from throwing acid at another neighbor, so I keep a distance as I have no time for courts, the police, the hospital.. just the sadness of psychosis in people. In her mind, I will always be some wierd object... along with so many others. I feel for her Mother in Brooklyn as she begs people to help her daughter (of course with this person's obsessions I am sure the Mom's neighbors organized to keep her out of their neighborhood!) A sad life albeit dangerous for her and others. but, every April she acts out with me, so another harbinger of the Spring! lol, oh well!

lots of nice tea, good chats with others, finishing my organizing photos/drawings project!

hugs, peace, compassion

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick!

Saint Patrick!
images of Monday, 17 Maart 1980! Coldish Maart day, it had snowed on the 13th. Went with a friend to the start for the parade at 54 and 5th, out from the E train. Watched local elected officials such as Carol Bellamy, Governor Carey, and Robert Kennedy Jr en marche! Heute, Council President Quinn is out of sight, and a host of other elected officials participate elsewhere due to the parade ban on openly lgbt banners etal.

That 1980 day, we drank beer and I bought a tam-a-shanter and an Irish flag! Photo of me in my hat. Whoa.. my bushy beard and it used to be so flaming red! Alcohol prohibited today!
Walked to Rockefeller Center where we met up with mio amico Frankie! Hanging with my Italian buddies that Saint Patrick's! Photo of my buddies at the Rock playing with the Irish flag. The three of us got caught up in a large crowd surge so we left the area! I have yet to go to another 5th Avenue Saint Patrick parade, remembering how we were swept up in the mass unable to freely move. Montage photos of Irish Nurses, part of the immigration wave of Irish to NYC in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a band with Saint Patrick's Cathedral in the background.

Then off to a Blarney Stone over on 8th Ave in Hells Kitchen for a traditional luncheon of cabbage and corned beef! Photo of menu and other media from that day! Later met other Brooklyn buddies for drinks on Christopher Street, a snack at Tiffany's diner; then off to John's Pizzeria on Bleeker Street! Spring break that week for NYC Board of Education employees, so my buddies and I had the week off!

hope Saint Patrick's was good! The luck of the Irish to you! love that movie with Tyrone Powers, one of my Mom's cousins!

Today, quiet, gorgeous day! Long lunch chat about the history of Newark, rise of Corey Booker and Newark politics, with my neighbor who ran arts programs for the Newark board of education! Like many in Newark, we see Corey Booker more on television than on the streets. Why do so many progressives like him? Once again, maybe they should actually come to Newark, take the subway, walk around. Well we are more the Obama community organizer types. Per a Lynn Sweet Sun Times article (on my rss feed) Mayor Booker will be at the White House Saint Patrick Day dinner. Hopefully getting more for the working people in Newark! At the koffieclub today, we all drank regular koffie, no Irish coffee today, yet!

Congrats to Senator Kennedy on his knighthood to be bestowed by Queen Elizabeth this year. In 1980, we all boycotted the UK what with the Irish problems. Senator Kennedy was a prime sponsor of pro Irish measures. Times change of course. Salut also to President Obama for including Gerry Adams at the White House dinner tonight as well!

hugs, peace, compassion

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Salut Ides of March

Salut to the Ides Of March! Does feel like the start of a new jahre (Roman calendar of Julius Cesear times)!!! This winter in NYC/Newark was cold all the time. I think the temp was 22f everytime I heard a weather report. Of course it did get warmer but that 22f was a constant! ugh

Happy Birthday to my nephew.. who is 27jahre today! I certainly remember the day of his birth.. my roommate told me.. "you are now an Uncle!" My parents always wanted a sports star.. and they got him in their first grandchild.. signed to play minor league baseball on his graduation from high school! Frequent news photos and stories of his accomplishments in the hometown press! Many kudos to him for doing it!

Hoping for a good jahre ahead! For once in my life I am trusting our President! He just feels so familiar.. the Columbia U connection, community organizing, progressive politics, changing the lenses! I do think that the administration's work is making a difference. The corporate media, in particular, is yet to process the historical change. The tired ways of looking at phenomena through their alleged bipartisan, jaded lenses is jarring. NBC had Meet the Press and wierd questions from the moderator such as ... didnt McCain say something similiar in the campaign and was beaten up?... Then, Eric Cantor with the ridiculous spin of the Disney to Vegas train. Can only wish we had trains like other advanced industrial nations. The election was seismic, things have changed, and we would be in a twilight zone if the Republicans had won. So this wierd bipartisan... of course, the media is big business and many of the boys did make out in the Bush years. CNBC has certainly shown its colours.

Matt Lauer on Today got on my nerves with his harrangue of Michael Phelps and marijuana. Like my nephew, a young man, worked hard in sports, and accomplished a great deal! In Phelps case, he also has cognitive issues (ADHD) which can hamper one's judgment at times. The real culprit is the one who set up that cellphone photo. I am not buying Kellogg's for awhile. Matt is another generation and time frame. Being around the same age it is hard to accept that what one knows now is not where guys 30 years younger are at.

happy new year! (Roman)
hugs, peace, compassion
Happy Happy Birthday

Saturday, March 14, 2009

backtrack to Purim

posting the pages of an invite to a fundraiser held in 1984 for klezmer music. Great music for Purim! I was on the event committee, organized by a NYC family foundation, predominately supported by employees of a leveraged buyout company. The company officers were all Harvard MBAs and the company was their endeavor. (I declined going into the Harvard MBA program as I had just finished my Columbia MSW degree in 1982). The family foundation was run by the CEO and his wife. They lived on East 82nd street doors from the Metropolitan. We usually met with committee members at the Stanhope Hotel around the corner.

Such a festive event! great music! excellent food. There was a pre-concert dinner of Moroccan food at a committee member's home. Nice apartment... 111 East 63rd St... close to today's infamous Bernie Madoff! I had written down Madoff's address but misplaced it as I knew the address was somewhat similiar. The hosts of the dinner moved south in 1986 and I didnt stay in touch. A really lovely family! They were very involved in NY Philharmonic fundrasing.

The concert took place at the Americas Society on Park Avenue. This November 2008, the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House held a klezmer music soiree but don't remember the performance spot. I was going to fax this 1984 invite to the assistant exec director just for fyi... I worked for Lenox Hill in the 1990s at the Park Avenue armory program (down the street from the Americas Society).

The fundraiser made some money although not sure of the results as in 1985, I was recruited to work for the NYC Board of Education to help create new social work programs. I didnt stay in touch with the foundation until the 1990s when I heard the couple had broken up, the foundation closed.

In 2009, I am amazed once again by how busy I was in the 1980s! But also over time the different meanings which locales and places have. In 1984, I paid no attention to the Park Avenue Armory. In 1985, I went to a fundraiser for the Nation magazine there. Ran into some Columbia professors which was great fun! Watched James Baldwin and Gordon Parks smoke cigarettes and drink at the bar! Who knew I would be working in the armory 11 years later! It is almost ten years that I have walked the streets of the UES (although I zoom through on the 6 train to the Bronx a lot)

hugs, peace, compassion

Thursday, March 12, 2009

back to normal.... funding UN programmes

Kudos to the Obama administration for restoring funds to United Nations programmes such as the population fund. Research has always shown that money given to help educate women, provide better health care, and give women reproductive choice stabilizes people's lives, their communties and ultimately our world. It is a joy to see science replacing a particular narrow ideology in this new administration!

thoughts again on women who have enriched my life. Spoke with my Lakewood Colorado high school buddy anoche. He spoke how the girls just loved me as I would listen to them opposed to many of the guys. His memory is that the hot girls all liked me and he was jealous! I really dont remember any of that. I vaguely remember high school actually and would love to know who all these hot girls were! lol. Of course, I was 16jahre when I graduated and then my folks moved us to NJ the December after my graduation. I just remember hanging with my buddies at the drive-in, or driving into the foothills or prarie.

It has been one of my strengths to know people from many backgrounds. I wouldnt be a social worker if I wasnt interested in hearing people's stories. I am blessed to read all of my college students' essays on a myriad of topics. Having clients/patients has been fascinating! I am always amazed by what and how people process and think!

An Oster card sent from women who meant much to me (1999 photo uploaded). Listening to older women. I usually focus on grandfathers though as I am of that age where my peers have that status. But, I do know many grandmothers or woman of that age. Always a blessing to get cards which I save. Since my Mom's death, I have particularly thought about grandmothers. I spent 50 some years with my Mom but my nieces/nephews will not have that luxury. My Mom loved her grandchildren much! I know how much she was loved by her father's mother.

The caption in the photo montage is from Andrea Bocelli (the voice of an angel!!) as my remembrance of the women who have now died. "I already hear that she can hear no longer: in silence, she went to sleep, she has already gone to sleep". Thanks much for the memories!!!

peace, hugs, compassion

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Women's Equality

Salut (albeit late) for Women's International Equality Day! I always think of the work of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Endless bravos to Jane Addams for helping to found, and a joint recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1930. I have had the good blessings to know many interesting, dynamic or just an endless special woman my life long!

Thoughts of the mother of a friend, Adeline. Photo inserted. When my Mom died, this friend said he wished he had a Mom like mine. My Mom was fine but I would have loved a Mom like Adeline as well! Of course, I would only visit on holidays and she would bake all sorts of italian foods. She would go to Pegnataro's in New Haven and make sure we had lasagna, apizza and the stuffed breads! Of course my friend had a different experience as his Mom also had a disabled child who needed endless care. I remind my students that not until 1974 were all children required to be educated (Public Law 94-142). Those with special needs often languished in the basement or attic or were institutionalized. The scandals in the early 1970s showed the horrors of such wanton institutionalization. So, my friend's childhood consisted of being second to the sister with multiple needs. I am truly amazed at the remarkable strength that Adeline had though in raising 3 children, the two boys getting advanced degrees and professional jobs. Adeline has about 15 grandchildren now although few will remember her spirit. I remember how she finally put her daughter in a home when Adeline reached 60 years but made sure her daughter visited holidays! I was blessed to have her friendship.. "a true friend waiting for a visit".

A long ago buddy, Hannah was a member of WILPF, in fact she made me aware of them. Hannah an oldtime child welfare social worker, CPUSA member in the 1930s thru 1950s, and long time resident Greenwich Village bohemian. In my community organizing work, she would always show up at demonstrations and sign petitions. I had endless interesting chats with her. We were both members of the Village Independent Democrats and always eager to support progressives. Hannah was a real mensch and I will always love her! Om mani padma hung!

Thinking from the paradigm of caregiving, I am always assured, hopeful, by the understanding that so much of our lives are enriched and we thrive from the caregiving we have or give. It is not just Winnicuit's "good enough mothering" but the notion that we all caregive throughout life. I am always blessed to have known and then to have read "The Caregiver's Tale" by Dr. Ann Burack-Weiss!

peace, hugs, compassion

Monday, March 9, 2009

het weer maart 09, 2009

great weekend weather but now het weer is rainy again!

scanned a February 1994 sketch (above). late February (20), 1994, Central Park. Sunday weather in the 60s although snow still on the ground. I can remember some of the squishyness of the pathways due to the snow still melting and water collecting as the ground was saturated. Hopping to avoid the deepest puddles. Yet my notebook says 5 guys in shorts (already!!!) A sunny day. A woman was out walking her turtle and letting it get in the snow. Dunno if that turtle is still around.. but I dont know turtle acclimation issues with snow. I do remember live turtles by the Des Plaines river near Park Ridge, IL. So, turtles must survive harsh temps. And my last chat with Bobby Love, famed Mapplethorpe model. Bobby is the suited guy with his zipper open and.... He was living at the Hayden Hall.

The Hayden Hall has probably emptied most of their neighborhood folk. A travel site lists it as a "charming 100room, handsomely decorated, budget-minded, but quality hotel located in the prestigious...." so perhaps some of the "budget-minded" acknowledges the occassional long time hotel tenant still managing to stay there. By 1994, the Upper West Side had pretty much done a good job of gentrification.

peace, hugs, compassion

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Turk thoughts March 08, 2009

President Obama is making a brilliant decision to visit Turkey this April after the G20 summit in London! Turkey is one of the countries that I look at in keeping some paradigm about the world. I have known a number of Turks over the years, and I read theorists who see Turkey as that bridge between the Europe and Asia.

1987 pastel of a graduate school friend from Columbia University. She and I would pal around a lot. She came with me to visit my Mom and siblings one holiday. She came to a Citibank company picnic with me one summer. We were residents at the International House. She worked in television. She was one of the political refugees from the Turkish Army coups in the 1970s. She came to NYC from Paris. One of the many who could not go back home. Dunno what happened to her... she moved to Queens and we lost touch.

This past year I read Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul! Wow, such a fascinating read! A book I lived through, looking up references online, looking at my own memories in other ways. A fascinating book.

From my SIPA days, I have thought about the end of the Ottoman empire and the absence of a muslim political entity in international politics. The Ottoman empire was cut up into pretend nations by the European powers after WWI. Today we have nations such as Iraq, almost 100 years old, part of the Ottoman empire for centuries, and still the power vacuum. The whole mideast and the Muslim world does not have that power it had as an international broker for centuries. We have yet, as a world community, to figure that power gap out. Today, we have Iran versus Saudi Arabia, orthodox versus modernists say in Lebanon, and the sad legacy of no resolution for Palestine.

I think it quite astute that Open Society aka the Soros Fund, has an office in Istanbul. Turkey plays a significant role by its years of brokering as a NATO member and part of other multinational relationships. Not only the Ottoman legacy, but also the years of Turkish emigration in the EU. The Turk presence particularly in Holland and Germany. I am quite pleased by Obama's decision!

peace, hugs, compassion

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Art en NYC Maart

The Armory show and other fairs such as Pulse going on in NYC this weekend. Following the blogs on both, the Armory show looks great as ever! ArtForum subscriber also I stay up on the galleries. Love the David Zwirner gallery... Neo Rauch is so good.

Off to do my NYC flaneur thing tomorrow but will probably just walk downtown as the horrific 22degree weather seems to be gone and I am sick of being inside! I used to work in the 67th Street Armory and witnessed many a show over the years.

The shows made me look through my 1970s art notebooks. Scanned one of my subway sketches and notes from a museum visit. I loved sketching on the subway! So many sketches from the perfect setting.. the subway whatwith the endless variety of faces, bodies, clothing.. wow! On these pages, I seemed to have seen my Professor Lee Bontecou's pieces at the Guggenheim. She was so quiet and unobtrusive... a great class at Brooklyn College.

hugs, peace, compassion

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mies van der Rohe warmth

brrrr... thru this winter of freezing temps in NYC/Newark! however, great views and relatively warm in the apartment, a Mies van der Rohe building built 50 years ago (1959). photo from May 2007 .. warmer weather at least!

I have lived here the longest time in any apartment/house in my lifetime. Comfortable even with 500+ apartments in the building. Sometimes an elevator needs repair and my timing coincides with building "rush hours" or there are new neighbors who need to be reminded that others live below or next door or that the hallway is not a playground. Some recent Afghani refugees interestingly left all their garbage in very neat piles in the garbage room, so they needed to be taught that most of their garbage needs to just go down the garbage chute (diapers, food). After living in midtown Manhattan most of my life, interesting to see families and children growing up. There are at least 10 children I remember from their diaper days. The gorgeous daughter of my neighbors from Ghana would scream in her infant days when I put out my arms to pick her up. Today, she plays vacuuming outside my door at times in hopes to get me to "come out to play", and she is now in kindergarten! Life changes and our "koffie Club" is now history as folks have moved, but our minimart now has stools so I can sit and drink my koffie!

The Bauhaus movement is now 90 years!
some links:,1518,610283,00.html

hugs, peace, compassion

Monday, March 2, 2009

sledding day

view from my window to Branch Brook Park and I-280 this afternoon. Not the foot of snow, maybe 4.5 inches. Schools, state offices closed. Lots of car accidents in this weather thus the closings. However, NYC schools were closed which is a rarity. NJ schools close at the drop of a flurry!

The closings also brought about the NY bus seems arriving earlier. The postlady came earlier! My sister in Boston mailed me blueberry/green tea as well as a bar of chocolat... perfect! My minimart ran out of bread at 1:30 from all in the building ordering sandwiches.

I got my wish.. a March snowstorm.. this Sunday comes daily savings time... in 3 weeks, Spring Equinox!

peace, hugs, compassion

Zeitgeist for March!

photo of the WTC PATH concourse on Friday. The glass buildings rising and seemingly melting into each other are just stunning! Love all that glass! The PATH is always an easy ride. I took it maybe 2x in all the years I lived in NYC. Very easy commute into lower Manhattan!

spent Friday revisiting my old 1970s neighborhood.. Park Slope, Brooklyn, from my time as a Brooklyn College student. My life as an art student! Got off at Grand Army Plaza.. what an elegant stop. The limestones, doorman buildings, the park settings. I could only wish Branch Brook Park was as user particularly pedestrian friendly. Sat for a bit by the subway stop to watch the coming/goings on Flatbush Avenue. Thoughts of my times in all of the surrounding apartment buildings at parties or just visiting. In general I would always run into known folks in that Grand Army Plaza stretch in my 1970s years as well as during my six months stay in 1994-5. Didnt recognize anyone but...
I did run into a worker from the Park Slope Food Co-op. He has a vest with the co-op named and was helping a member bring packages back! Wow, they even help deliver now! I was a member when he was born, 1977. In those days we climbed up a huge staircase and trudged our groceries down those steps.... Wow what a legacy that co-op has! That was the best food place! Wow!

met up with my long time buddy and his partner living on Prospect Park West. Now those are some elegant mansions! The Brooklyn Gold Coast! Outside their mansion the crocuses and other plants are coming UP! I saw the buds on the trees! And, a the gorgeous apartment! Great deck although very windy in the Slope. Great view through the front windows across Prospect Park. Didnt see many people but did recognize some of the park paths I would walk. The best lunch.. Chinese oranges, chicken and lots of broccoli. All my favorites! I love my Chinatown shopping trips with one of the guys.. the best vegetables, tea shops, and Pearl River department store!!!

interesting chats as ever. Their daughter does so well in her new job as a researcher! I am jealous... I love research, statistics, etal! What an opportunity for her! One of the guys is looking for a job after he took a buyout from his company. I pitched him in January to one of the Sulzberger family, another Columbia alum. LOL.. as if the NY Times is hiring. But the family person was so sweet to me... I have to send a thanks. Anyhow, my buddy is so focused and has had such a work history. He is doing some fascinating consulting and I will be phoning him for celebrity gossip again. But most interestingly, the guys had met with a Canadian lawyer about emigrating to Montreal. Seems that the NY lgbt center set up informational sessions for people wanting to emigrate in case the Republicans had won again. Same sex couples have legal rights in Canada and the government has been helping couples emigrate. A small but significant brain drain! My friends rank at the top on the immigration priority list, but thankfully Obama won! Wow, in retrospect it would have been a nightmare if those psychopathic Republicans had won.

the best IRT ride home although delays. Not as many commuters seemed to get on at Wall St but maybe that was just my hunch what with the layoffs. I would have gotten off downtown to do my flaneur thing but it was raining. I hate sitting inside when I just want to walk about.

end of February and now the zeitgeist for March! so many interesting memories. great times with a buddy I have known almost 30 years. despite the dreariness in the media on the economy, I feel really positive about our futures! Salut to Marz, Mars, March!!!
hugs, peace, compassion