Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday in the City

The day started out at at Fringe Salon to get my hair done. I was early for my appointment so I stopped in a couple of stores on Orchard. The first was a tony little boutique that sold $85.00 tiny silver necklaces, $500.00 dollar bags by designers I've never heard of, and stretched out cashmere sweaters for $200.00. I was playing my little game of: if I had money to burn what would I buy? And the answer here was--- nothing, I would buy nothing. Not even the bright orange ankle boots with kitten heels.

The next stop was Ernest Sewn, famous for $200.00 blue jeans. The shop was manned by two tiny Asian women who were fussing over an even smaller dog who wore a designer yellow trench coat and even smaller black ankle boots with real laces. The design of the shop has a rough hewn aesthetic (think logging camp in old town Seattle), also tiny and claustrophobic. Surely these are not jeans for real people, or just not people of my size. Even with going to the gym 4X a week, the largest size wouldn't fit over my right thigh. I love how, in this neighborhood, Ernest Sewn is next door to a shop that sells women's uniforms (think nurses and cleaning ladies) that had to have been there since 1950 or earlier.

After I had four inches lopped off and was gorgeously coiffed, I jumped on the F train to meet my friend Marc to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, and curiously I liked it. I didn't expect to--- I figured it was going to be all about prosthetics and make-up and even though it was about prosthetics and make-up, the palette was larger. Set against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina, an old woman languishing from cancer tells the story via a diary of her lover. A man who aged backwards. I haven't quite parsed what made his character so poignant. As Marc astutely pointed out, Brad Pitt minus the FX wasn't as arresting as Brad Pitt with all the bells and whistles.

As the old man who is really young, he is more a character out of mythology or a fairy tale. He exists outside of our time yet he is part of it. He experiences what we do in our ordinary journey though the abstraction of time, but in reverse. He meets his great love at the midpoint of his life, the two of them poised at a fragile intersection, Benjamin going backward and his lover going forward--- and this perhaps is true of all love stories, great and small. When we fall in love it is an evanescent thing, fragile and lmythical, and not destined to last. Like youth. Benjamin lives out the trajectory of his backward life and dies as an infant, yet he has lived 70 years.

After the movie, Marc and I walked back to his house for a vodka tonic. I was thinking about time, about my life. I told Marc that I am now the same age as my much older lover when we split up. I told Marc that I am just a few years out from when my mother got cancer, and that my aunt is now older than my mother lived to be. Life is curious, that's for certain, love is curious that's even more certain, and nothing is more mysterious or fleeting or precious as time.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

MORE anarchy

James Lieber in the Village Voice argues that the CEO's and CFO's of major banking institutions and all their white collar greedy sociopathic acolytes--- the movers and shakers (scum) who helped, no, CREATED the current economic crisis--- should not be treated with a slap on the wrist but rather as gangsters guilty of racketeering. Here, here.

As someone who has seen her APR on two credits cards increased to 25% for no reason whatsoever, thus practically encouraging me to default, I say, if I'M going down, so are YOU. Lieber argues persuasively that banking deregulation signed in during Clinton created a class of criminals who were smart, classy, sophisticated cats--- who soared through the air in private jets, and who have robbed the American middle-class BLIND with forethought and malice.

Furthermore, the system became so opaque that we don't even know nor will we ever--- for example, exactly what AIG did with its staggering bailout. The transparency in the banking industry that guaranteed fair play went the way of AOL. Traders and bankers made over 25 trillion dollars in bonuses.

Many argue, including Lieber, that the government should "claw back" that money. And I say, what the fuck are we waiting for? Why are we letting gangsters get away with murder and their 10 million dollar bonuses. This is illegal. Immoral. But no, come after me instead. Raise my APR. Make it impossible for me to pay back the loan. And if I default, no problem. The bank is insured for this loss and indeed is depending on it.

This is anarchy of both the highest and lowest order. We don't perceive someone like Robert Fuld as a criminal because he's white and he wears an expensive Italian suit. Because he drives a Ferrari, is smooth, articulate and intelligent. But he is no better than the small town mobster who sends you to sleep with the fish.

Workers of the world, revolt. Let us march to the fish mongers and buy up mackerel, salmon, sea bass, grouper and snapper. Let us break into the homes of the Bernie Madoffs of the world and put a large stinking fish underneath their pillows. Let this signify that their number is up. That they are criminals. They are dangerous. They are about to join the other stinking fish that swim at the bottom of the river, or at the very least, playing the beast who is saddle backing his cellie in Sing Sing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The High Price of Anarchy

My computer doesn't feel like home yet. When I boot up it says "owner" as opposed to my name. That bugs me. I don't know how to fix it. I realize that I have lost some files--- not major project files, but smaller ones, my collection of erotic fairy tales, for example, three are published, three are lost. A book proposal--- but at least my agent has a hard copy of that. I have to go back to trusting the online world again, but oh the trepidation in my heart. I remember this feeling. My home had been broken into in Ft. Lauderdale. This is many years ago. Nothing valuable or irreplaceable had been stolen, who would want my books? But that sense of invasion of my personal space--- is the same.

My desktop is still under populated. Before it looked like Times Square, all my bells and whistles, yahooo. Now it looks like a lonely little frontier town, tumbleweed rolling down the streets, hello, anybody home? Hacking into somebody's computer is a crime. Yet its weird. You don't call the police. You don't report it. Your friends and family have to suffer through your endless descriptions of clusterfucks and frustration as you try and fix a problem a criminal has created, yet there is no real legal recourse. Real time policing surely has not caught up with online policing. Ironically THAT has been part of the allure of the digital world--- the fact that it is a frontier town in all its lawlessness and anarchy and of course this can be beautiful.

I used to say that Craig's List was the last bastion of a true populist democracy. I read the rants section with glee, I regularly cruised MEN LOOKING FOR WOMEN, even went out on a few dates (don't ask!), checked out real estate, sometimes I would see what was up in other cities, what apartments were renting for, what the men looked like, but then I watched a program about child prostitution. The "dates" were set up via Craig's List. I fell out of love. Sadly disappointed, not with the original idea, no. The original idea was great, a free market, an open exchange of ideas, pictures of penises, I used to entertain myself for hours. Not anymore. Perversion is A-OK in my book as long as its between consenting adults. Alas. Those days are gone.

It is our modern version of paradise lost. How much of the gorgeous anarchy do we lose as more and more "policing" takes place? I would like someone to PAY for what they did to my life last week. I admit it. I don't like having to rebuild something that wasn't broken. Not only not broken, but flourishing! Fertile! Prolific! Happy! I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't being stupid. I LIKE porn but I NEVER visit porn sites because I know they are rife with spyware. I don't watch movies on my computer for the same reason. In this area, at least, in my life, I operate with forethought, prudence, and caution. I write this because I honestly don't know what I would've done differently.

But, hey. You can't keep a good woman down.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Theft and Recovery

It felt as if my identity had been wiped clean. It felt as if I was missing a limb. The virus attacked on Saturday--- nothing could stop it and I tried. I had spyware, I had virus protection, I had a firewall. This Trojan Horse plowed through everything and shut me down for a week. The Geek Squad at Best Buy tried everything--- but it was so deeply encrypted, deeply malicious, maliciously smart, that it resisted every effort. Finally nothing was left but to erase everything off my computer and start over. Now I'm a good girl and keep my files backed up, so I wasn't concerned about losing a script or a syllabus or a short story or a novel.

However, my desktop is a mirror of myself. It's a mirror of my artistic, professional and personal self. There was order and reason to the arrangement of every icon: the right side had all my folders, the left had all the software. Each folder occupied its own geography on the blue space of my screen. Folders right of center were the most current, those in the upper right hand were archives. This positioning mirrored what was most current in my life, what was most important. This geography of my desktop was precious to me. It was literally a road map of my life. A portrait. It is one of the most important ways I define myself.

Last night I couldn't face the emptiness and the job of rebuilding. This morning I move forward. It is not easy. The invasion of this virus affected everything in my life. It stole my identity, it stole my time, and my money. It occupied every waking moment for a week. I offer a curse to all the hackers participating in this dissemination of this virus:

May you know what its like to have complete and utter disruption of your life from a malicious anonymous source.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Suspended Until Friday, the 23rd of January!

My work in this blog has been short circuited due to a malicious Trojan Horse Virus--- that flattened my virus/spyware protection and infiltrated my entire computer. F**k you miserable bastards or bitches who have nothing better to do that to screw up hard working people like myself.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Men, men, and more men

Yesterday I went to the comptroller's office to pick up an advance on my paycheck. The man who works there was a bit smitten with me--- and when I pulled out my NYU ID, he asked me what I studied and I said feminist theory and writing. Then he said, "Uh oh, don't judge us (meaning men!) too harshly." And I thought, too late. I already do. It was one of those ah ha moments people talk about, one of those whatyacallit, epiphanies. Of course I lied and told him, no, I like men, I'm a feminist who likes men.

It used to be true. I used to be a feminist who likes men. I don't know what has happened. Ten years of one night stands? Am I sorry about that? I had affairs with a theatre professor from Australia, a doctor from Australia, a film producer from Manchester (England), a documentary producer from London,

an editor, political cartoonist and novelist from New Dehli, a 25 year old Puerto Rican political activist who still lived with his mother in the Bronx, a computer geek from Tel Aviv, a math teacher from Nigeria, a law student at NYU, a sculptor and set painter from Greenpoint, another film producer from London, another from Berlin,

a teacher's aid from Boerum Hill, well you understand, the list goes on...

I'm not sorry. But I am over casual sex. Things change. In the interest of swinging the pendulum back in the direction of men, here is a partial list, in no particular order of men I admire:

1. Charlie Chaplin. An irrepressible school boy, antic charm, innocence, raccoon eyes, funny man.

2. John Wayne. Who's your daddy? No one but you baby. Macho, si senorita, but a heart of gold, gorgeous arms. Come and save me from the wild Indians.

3. John Cassavetes. A smouldering genius, married to Gena Rowlands, brains and brawn, with a bit of self destruction thrown in for good measure.

4. Mos Def. Most definitely. A friend of mine worked with him, said he was cool, smart, sexy. I live in Brooklyn, you live in Brooklyn, let's get something going.

5. Barack Obama, the country's second hot president. The first was John Kennedy. Did you see the picture of Barack in Hawaii wearing swim trunks, yow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fast Track to Crazy Town

Read it and weep. I am vindicated. In today's Daily News, the headline reads, Yanks' Stadium a money pit: "Taxpayers bill balloons to 325 M because of incompetence or worse, city controller says," in an article written by Erin Einhorn. In an earlier post I abandoned my usual feminist claptrap and ranted about the giant redundancy I see every morning on the 4 train at 161st Street. Not one, but TWO Yankee Stadiums.

I'm a taxpayer in NYC, have been for almost two decades and I have a problem with footing this bill. Maybe the next time the city decides to spend an ungodly amount of money on a baseball stadium in one of the poorest Congressional districts in the country, they might consider matching the dollar amount for improved medical care and education. Even if they had matched a nickel for every dollar, the amount of money raised would make the difference to thousands of children is substandard classrooms.

What about investing in the children of the Bronx? As I mentioned earlier, I've been teaching in that borough for seven years. One of my former students approached me the other day, and said, "Hey I'm a social worker now. See, professor it pays to invest in poor people." She's going out into the world with dignity and pride. You can't put a price tag on that. But maybe we should try.

But instead the city is on a fast track to crazy town as the tax bill for this ill conceived, badly managed, almost half a billion dollar project, gets bigger and bigger. I'm sorry, I fail to see the logic. The fact that my instincts told me there was something wrong--- as I watched the second stadium rise up right next to the first--- were dead on, doesn't make me feel better.

Invest in education. It is far more empowering than baseball and longer lasting.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You Gave Me Your Kidney, Now Go F**k Yourself

Read my my latest post on BHB (Brooklyn Heights Blog) INCIDENT ON STATE STREET which was linked to

OK, so this guy gave his wife his kidney in 2001. And now he wants it back but because he can't get it back, he wants 1.5 million dollars. Plus he's been sniffing her panties. He can tell she's had a lover. I don't know if this is true, but it's obvious the girl wants to move on. It's now 2009. The marriage is ovah. So he tells this to the press and now its an ongoing story in the Daily News (the link's not working, go to and type in kidney) :)

Dude; heads up! She doesn't love you anymore. Nothing you can say or do is going to change that. She's not a piece of property that you own. She doesn't come attached to you with a price tag. See this is where your thinking gets a little hinky. In the old school version of marriage, a wife was a possession, an object. A wife was your legal property. You could love her, give her children, but you could also beat her, and steal her money. She belonged to you, and couldn't complain.

BUT! This is the 21st century. And we (woman) don't necessarily subscribe to the notion of being property. What with being able to vote, and making significant contributions in medicine, music, literature, politics, painting, education, cultural theory, and economics in addition to possessing the miraculous power of bearing children--- we tend to think of ourselves as autonomous. Subject, not object. Hate to break it to you.

So, it's time to pack in the macho routine. It's gotten old and we don't really admire that in men anymore. Be conciliatory. Be respectful to a woman who just doesn't love you anymore, and please cease and desist from dragging her through the mud. Are you man enough to do that?

Monday, January 12, 2009

You go with your fierce self

I watched the Golden Globes with the sound turned off, I only like to look at the dresses. This year JLO turned it out in that gold metallic, titty baring, booty hugging gown. And she wore it with such casual grace--- like, I know I'm almost naked, but don't you wish you were as fabulous as I am? And my answer to that is, yes, baby, I wish it, with all my heart. I'm glad you can't keep a good diva down. Anne Hathaway has also found her groove, that girl is gorgeous. Some people have been dissing Drew Barrymore's Galliano gown. I beg to differ. She had that whole Marilyn Monroe thing going on and it was tight. Loved the big blonde pouffy hair, the turquoise eyeshadow. Finally Beyonce in an Elie Saab--- everyone should be working with her stylist, the sunburst of diamonds around her neck was stellar. That is presentation. That is glamour.

Who's lost it? Cameron Diaz needs to reinvent herself. She's always a sunny California blonde in a ball gown. That is played out. Maggie Gyllenhall strives for an edge but always fall off. Demi Moore I'm sorry but one day, soon, your face is going to fall and you will be middle-aged. That is no reason to dis your daugther in front of eighty million people. Yes, I had the sound on, for about ten minutes. Long enough to hear Ms. Moore tell her daughter to stand up straight. Mama? What's up with that? I loved it when JLO rebuked someone in the audience for talking when she was talking! DIVA. She was like--- Hey, mama talking. That's right, the Latino bitch goddess is onstage, everybody quiet.

In the safe and boring category, Kate Winslet. Which was disappointing because the Herve Leger band-aid dress looked fabulous on her. That was like letting the tiger out of the cage, meeooww. Finally I don't get the fuss about Madonna's crotch baring ad campaign. Let us please try and redefine who we are, on our own terms, without those old stereotypes rising up. Maybe she's ridiculous, maybe she's not. But look at those legs. That body. Shit. 100 years ago most of us were dead at 50 from giving birth to eight children. So Madonna you go with your fierce self.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Color Me Scared

It's butt ugly bitch ass cold tonight in Brooklyn. I'm heading out in a bit to go see a friend whose mother has just died, have a couple of drinks. It's a sisterhood night which doesn't happen often enough in my life. Yesterday I pitched a piece to and spent some time reading the latest posts--- I read about a 55 year old woman who hadn't had sex in 15 years. It really takes balls to dangle your personal life like that before the eyes of the world. Shit, I would never admit to that. She told a story all to familiar to me, the younger guy blue collar guy she went after, time spent with her shrink trying to parse the problem (is it a problem?), the two cats, the writer who likes her time alone. yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes. Color me scared.

Like her, I'm picky, too. Like her, there are any number of younger men I could pick up and knock boots with--- like her I think if I can't find love I'd rather be alone, like her she's get hit on by women, and wishes that were her thing. Huh. Well, welcome to the club, and if there isn't a club, there should be one. It's another example of Feminism 2.0 in operation. It's another example where women, like myself, strong, intelligent, accomplished would rather not, thank you very much, become entangled with a man who still thinks he should rule the roost, bring home the bacon, have hookers on the side, and watch football.

No. I couldn't do that. There's a man at work who flirts outrageously with me. Since I'm too cheap to buy a new bottle of water everyday, I keep filling up an empty. The water cooler is right by his classroom. He takes every opportunity to come out and tell me that if we don't stop meeting like this his girlfriend is going to get suspicious. Now, he is somebody I would consider dating, he's not unattractive, he has hair!, he's obviously intelligent, but what's with the girlfriend story? Does he want me to try and entice him to be "bad", cheat on her? I wouldn't do that. Not in any case, not in any scenario.

I don't know this woman, but I respect her. That's Feminism 2.0. I'm not so easily swayed by a dick these days (or lack thereof) to betray another woman. Maybe that was true in the past, maybe it was part of the stereotype, the cat fight, but, like the author of article in, it seems that more and more women are opting out of that kind of entanglement. So what are the new rules for women like myself? I wish I didn't worry about this so much--- but I do. Always the anxiety of am I doing the right thing, am I shut down, is love the province of the young? Have I missed my chance?

Or is that all crap? Is that all a result of how women have been acculturated? I think yes this is the answer. Water cooler guy's got to cool his heels. Younger guy has got to cool his heels, too. I've been the girlfriend on the side, and I've been the older woman, and it just doesn't play for me anymore. I simply cannot imagine being in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship. Where does that leave me? Only with the complete and total freedom to create the life I want. That's not so bad, is it?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Christine Sang, animal healer, wise woman, artist

On the subject of women I admire, I'd like to add Christine Sang, actress, choreographer and animal healer. I've known her for more than ten years. I reconnected with her this fall after too long an absence. I told her I had a puppy that was always sick, and that I wasn't doing too well myself. I bought Molly, my Shih Tzu, two weeks after I had lost my tribe, my three beloved cats. I brought her home and everything about her was a mystery. When she was only four months old, I was so anxious to get out of the house, away from her, I tripped on the puppy gate and broke my foot.

Who knew what to do with this exotic tiny dog? She was irascible, moody, stubborn. Her stomach was always upset. Counting the vet bills, I was out $3.000 with no end in sight. When we spoke, she gave me a long list of things that I had to do for her and for myself. For Molly, I had to set a definite schedule for her and follow it with iron precision. She needed to understand when it was time to play, time for a walk and time for dinner. She needed to know I was in control, not frazzled and impatient. Molly needed a lot more exercise, massage, a predictable diet. I stopped feeding her commercial food and began boiling organic chicken breasts, carrots and brown rice.

As for me, I needed to stop focusing on my third eye chakra, how did Christine know this? Nobody knew this. My chakra meditations were very private. And because I was so screwed up, I thought, I need to strengthen my inner vision. Christine said no, you need to focus your root chakra, you're not grounded. You need to cook for yourself as well, this will also ground you. You need to work out more, push yourself. And you need to start writing and set a definite schedule for your writing, and get involved with and/or create a political journal.

I copied every word and when I hung up the phone I posted it in the kitchen. I began that day. I took Molly out for an hour and a half walk. I massaged her stomach, boiled her chicken, cut up her carrots. When I went to the gym I worked out for 50 minutes, not 25. I stopped focusing on my third eye chakra, in short, everything Christine said, I did. The only thing I didn't understand was the part about a political journal. I googled political journals, feminist magazines. But--- nothing.

December arrived. Molly hadn't been to the vet since early October. She was a totally different animal. Loving, healthy, gorgeous. She'd stopped spending time underneath the bed. She was joyous and happy when I arrived home. I began thinking of her as the little white goddess because now she brought me so much joy. Her energy was completely different. Even when we go for walks now, she takes my lead.

One day I woke up and thought, I'm going to start a blog. What could be simpler? And I knew that this was what Christine had meant. I was positive. This post, and this space, and how I write here every night, has changed my life. I am so much more grounded now. I get cranky. But now I know how to take care of myself. Christine, you are a truly wonderful and wise woman. I mean that in the old school way of wise women. I can't thank you enough. Molly can't thank you enough. She and I are on a different path now. And we are happy.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Color Me Surprised

Color me surprised and happy. I woke up bright and early (ok not so bright, pouring rain), turned on New York One News. The commentator reported that very few people believe Hiram Monserrate's story. Video cameras in the lobby clearly show a terrified woman--- profusely bleeding from a cut over her eye. A cut that required many stitches. I thought, thank God, nobody believes the cockamamie convoluted story the two of them cooked up. I mean I was genuinely relieved. We have made some progress.

It's common knowledge that many women recant their stories when faced with prosecuting their lovers or their husbands. It's common knowledge that men deny the beating. I am so glad that the days of the cop showing up at a domestic disturbance, and not doing anything, are over. Even if they saw the wife in the background with an ice pack on her face, or arm or leg, gamely apologizing for causing any trouble.

On another note: Here is a list (in no particular order) of women I admire.

1.) Medea. I love her. She's the ultimate mad women. Yes, I know she murdered her children. But that story has come down to us through the patriarchy. It's possible we haven't heard her side of it. I just know she kicks ass. And that's she's strong. History hasn't taken very kindly to women like this. Let's reinstate her in our pantheon.

2.) Helen Lipnicki, my grandmother. She walked across Germany during World War II keeping body and soul together for her children and her husband. She endured prison camps, forced labor, and gave birth in a bombed out building on a bed of straw and lived to tell about it. I am positive I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for her fierce strength and determination.

3.) Sylvia Plath. I think its become unfashionable to admire her. After all she stuck her head in the oven and killed herself. That shouldn't detract from the shrieking beauty of her poetry in Ariel, written after her husband deserted her for another woman. She absolutely created her own language in the aftermath. I'm sorry it killed her.

4.) Lottie Naumowicz, my mother. I owe my lifelong obsession to perfect hair and shoes to her. When I am too depressed to get out of bed, her voice rings in my ear, get up and face the land of the living. Or clean your room you'll feel better. I follow this very simple advice on very bad days and it always works.

5.) Diane Keaton. She is a beautiful woman and gifted actress, we know these things. But I also admire the fact that she hasn't cut up her face in a desperate attempt to still look like she's thirteen. It makes it easier for me to face my own face in the mirror.

One more thing about my mother. After my shower at the gym, under the harsh fluorescent lights I can see the same patch of gray in my hair that I saw in her hair. When I see that now, I smile.

BTW: I'm a new contributor for the BHB, Brooklyn Heights Blog.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Coming home all drunk and slutty

This just in! Sen. Hiram Monserrate speaks up in "exclusive interview with the Daily News"(Tuesday, January 6, 2009) by Juan Gonzalez. I love how this story has been recast:

"Giraldo [his girlfriend] was slightly drunk when she showed up at his apartment that night after a Christmas party. He found a cop's PBA card in her pocketbook..."

In other words, her fault, not his. Translation, what's up with this trashy girl coming home all drunk and slutty. Everyone knows what happens when you mix alchohol, Christmas parties and cops. Bad things. Had she come home sober, behaved like a good girl, none of this would've happened. I get it.

He didn't cut up her face in a jealous rage. No. Sure they argued, but it all was good, so good they made love, and went to bed. He woke up in the middle of the night, got a glass of water, and tripped onto the bed. Gee, he should talk to the battererd women who run into door knobs, or accidentally poke themselves in the face with a fork. They would have a lot of common. Freak accidents. It could happen to anyone.

I don't think so.

I think he's more powerful. I think he told her he loved her baby baby baby and it would never happen again. I'm sure he swore undying affection, gratitude. Maybe he took her out to dinner, bought her roses. Jewelry! A diamond. A token more powerful and longer lasting than the scar on her face. But look, I'm not blaming him.

I would do the same thing if my drunken partyboy lover came home, sloppy and reeking of cheap beer, another woman's business card in his back pocket. All bets are off if you misbehave. It's a good lesson for women everywhere. I know I'm paying attention.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Not My Usual Feminist Claptrap

Today's rant is not my usual feminist claptrap, but rather Yankee Stadium. I take the 4 train to Lehman College and every single time I and my fellow riders zip up into the sunlight to 161st Street, there they are. The twin stadiums. This in one of the poorest Congressional districts of the entire country, just a few miles north of the richest Congressional district in this country, and I'm talking about Park Avenue. Read Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol. He tells the story.


There they are.

The twin stadiums. One is old. The other is new. Very good. We can build stadiums really fast. But what about high schools? I know the argument--- or at least I think I do--- all the revenue baseball generates, right--- all those jobs, all those ticket sales, all those hot dogs, beer, souvenirs. I'm sure the list is exhaustive. I'm sure the argument has validity.

I'm just asking what about high schools? What about planting some trees? How about a hospital where sick people don't have to wait three days for a clean room--- no blood on the sheets. I'm not making this up. Again, read Jonathan Kozol. If you do you might also wonder at the giant redundancy on 161st Street.

Not one, but two baseball stadiums rising up out of the earth. Shimmering in the sunlight. Like two Taj Mahals. Xanadu. The Promised Land. Now I can read in reverse, YANKEE STADIUM or EEKNAY MUIDAST. Yet, my freshman students, who went to Bronx high schools, tell some harrowing stories: they're like jails, the text books are ripped and missing pages, classes are held in hallways and stairwells.

I do hear stories about great teachers. This is about the CITY who builds a baseball stadium but neglects education and health care. It drives me crazy. It has driven me crazy from the moment they broke ground. I just couldn't believe it.

I think its great to invest in the Yankees. They're a New York institution. But I've taught in the Bronx since 2002 and honestly the place could use some trees, some grass, some housing, some schools and decent medical facilities. AND a Starbucks. But mostly schools.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cinderella Can Go to Hell

I think women should strive to emulate the evil stepmother in the Cinderella story. She's a potent, strong woman. She's not the prettiest thing I've ever seen in fairy-tale, and she treats her stepdaughter like shit, but at least she's out in the world wheeling and dealing for her three ugly biological daughters. She's proactive and hard hitting and who would want to fuck with that? Is it possible that the only image of a strong woman in fairy tales is a woman who is bad and ugly? How else can we explain the enduring legacy of the beautiful but passive heroine who is saved by a bunch of mice and travels to the ball in a pumpkin? Who is saved from a life of drudgery by Prince Charming? What does Cinderella do on her own to merit such status?

She is beautiful and she is good. She is passive. When her stepmother says, sweep out the fireplace, she sweeps it out and then sleeps there as well. What if she stood up to her stepmother and said, "Bitch, sweep it out yourself. And while you're at it, quit wearing my dead mother's jewelry and the next time I see my father I'm going to expose you for the fraud you are, you and your measly ugly whining daughters. Now get out of my room before I hit you over the head with my broom. And don't think for one minute that I'm not going to the ball. I am going. I'm like a hundred times better looking than you and your girls, and chances are good the prince will want to tap this ass when he finally gets a chance to meet me. So stay out of my way."

Would we love a Cinderella like that? The answer is obviously, no. We wouldn't. So why do little girls grow up reading that version? Why do we go to musicals that support this version? Shouldn't little girls be given images of power. I don't have a problem with all the Hello Kitty business and hearts and flowers and even Cinderella, but taken together as a whole seems to me that we are handicapping little girls before they're even out of the gate.

Which is why we should start emulating all the evil women in fairy tales because that's where all the power is--- let's not fall in love with Snow White. For God's sakes she's dead most of the time, in a coma, suspended animation. If I were Snow White, I wouldn't be living out in the woods with 7 Dwarfs, I'd be inside that castle. I'd steal that magic mirror, take it to my room and find out what all the fuss is about. Then I'd get rid of the mother, or at least sell off some of the valuables and move to Paris! Or Rome! Have a good time. I'd kiss a lot of princes and wouldn't care who they told.

At least if you're the bad guy(girl), you get to have some fun in your life. Know what it feels like to have power even if you are evil. So what? Better to be bad and be in charge of your destiny than be good and have to depend upon the prince to rescue you.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Feminism 2.0 and Witches

To elaborate on an earlier point: I knew what to rebel against coming of age right after the first wave of feminism, but I didn't know what to embrace. I didn't know to embrace economic power, I didn't know how to embrace stronger friendships with women, I didn't know how to embrace a set purpose, a strong goal. I knew what I wanted, my heart's desire, but didn't think I had a right to it. I didn't know how to embrace my identity without questioning it.

My attempts to play with my identity, as I acted out various roles; groupie, intellect, writer, slut, lesbian, bisexual, poet, singer--- were met with derision, scorn. There is only one path for a good women! It is a straight and narrow road, there are no bends, no curves, or if there are, they are dangerous. I would embrace all of that today. I do embrace it.

I just finished writing an article about the author of Debbie Does Dallas. She prefers even after all these years to remain anonymous. I have to respect that. She's afraid of the potential negative impact at work. She might be right. If she were a a man, he'd be crowing to all his colleagues. It would be cool. An assertion of his manhood. Women are still straight-jacketed in the expression of their sexuality, in having a voice. I would embrace that voice, now, immediately. In whatever form it takes.

At least in Feminism 2.0, we are seeing less and less women, abandoned after 20 years of marriage, lost in deep depression, who became clever at hiding empty bottles of liquor, as they cash their alimony checks. She is a vanishing breed, thank God. Here are other images I'd like to put on the endangered list:

1. The Murderous Scorned women. Come on. Read the newspapers, forget Fatal Attraction and "hell hath no fury." Men are far more likely to kill women.

2. The dumb blond. Please. We all have the potential to be stupid.

3. The Virgin Mary. Just the Christian version. What woman can be virginal and pregnant? Give us a goddess we can relate to. Thanks.

4. The Whore with the Heart of Gold. All women have a heart of gold. You don't have to be a whore.

5. The Spinster, see "witch." Here's where I come in. This is my category. This is Feminism 2.0 in operation. I don't have a wart on my nose, I don't live in a little thatched hut at the edge of town, I am not crazy, I don't cast spells or steal penises. Some of this believe it or not is left over from the witch trials of the 17th century.

Feel free to add your own.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Feminism 2.0

I'd like to attempt a definition of women like myself who came of age after the first wave of feminism. Imagine this: you are 17 years old and the rest of the world is saying, get married, get married, have babies, have babies, cook and clean, love your man, do anything for your man.

Girls had pre-engagement rings as if we couldn't wait for the real thing; teeny, tiny little chips of diamonds on a slender silver band. The prom was a promise of a bigger dance, a bigger ritual. The day we would be queen of all we surveyed, our wedding day.

That that didn't sit right with us. That made us nervous. On the surface, we were all tied up in it; we wore our diamond chips, we kissed our boyfriend and went all the way with him in the basement of our childhood homes. But we were smart. We knew how to not procreate. I did, anyway. I knew when I was fertile. It was a strange place to be. To be so out of sync with the rest of the world. My mother saw engagement parties and baby showers, I saw a train ride out of town, the sooner the better.

Now imagine this: you are 45, or you are 50. You have no children. You are not sorry that you didn't have children. You are not married. You are not sorry about this either. But the rest of world is like: What is up with you. We got to get you a man. And little by little this seeps into your brain, and you begin to question your choices.

We're out there you know.

Or you have children, but now you want to date other women. Or you have children, adore your ex husband, but have no desire to marry again. Either way, you are alone. We're out there. Many of us are brilliant, sexy woman. We live alone. Sometimes the greatest joy in my life was coming home, at two o'clock in the morning, on the streets of New York, high heels and lipstick, happy in my autonomy, no husband/boyfriend waiting at home--- where were you, you said you'd be home at ten.

We're out there. Don't think you know us. Yes, sometimes it can be a lonely life. But other times it is transcendent to be in complete charge of your destiny. I think I'd like to call us, and the movement around us---

Feminism 2.0

I wasn't around for the conscious raising of the 1960's, I didn't burn my bra at Berkeley. And in the 1970's I had no idea what was going on around me, the larger picture. I just knew I had to live a different life than the life of the women around me. I knew what to rebel against, but I didn't know what to embrace. So I've made mistakes.

I can attempt a definition of who I am, and who the women are who are like me. But honestly I have no idea anymore who men are--- and what they struggle with. Perhaps 2009 will see a new rapport, in my life at least.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Watch Out! Bad Girls in Bikinis!

I admit that I've watched THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR. I admit that I am a fan of the show. But what part of my brain is in operation? I don't know. I don't care.

It's billed as a reality show, but it is most assuredly NOT reality. This is one of the things I like the best. I like how FAR AWAY it is from reality. How many octogenarians have three lovers who are more than forty years younger? In a Holmby Hills mansion? With a zoo? I know their breasts are fake, and their hair color doesn't exist in nature, but I like these women.

Or rather I like their personas. The two after all may be different. I am sure they are given a script of some kind. But even so, they are remarkably free of that most hated of all female stereotypes: the catfight! They run around the mansion in their hootchie-mama costumes, tits falling out of their tops, and genuinely seem to like if not respect each other. I love this. They are sisters. Comrades, friends. It's not about competing with each other--- at least on camera.

Kendra, Bridget and Holly really do not seem jealous of their male peacock, the legendary Hugh Hefner. It redefines relationships. It's a version of polyamory. I know, I know, how much amour can you expect from an 80+ penis? And aren't they (the girls next door) to a certain extent fucking the icon, the symbol, and not the man? Certainly this is true. Joe Blow in Idaho, Stan the Man in the Yucatan, or Vinnie from Staten Island couldn't command such an audience. I will say this: when I've watched them kiss aforementioned peacock, it was a peck, not a poke. Not a lover's kiss but a kiss of obeisance. There is a difference.

It is slightly disturbing to see the new girls arriving. The twins. Watch out, bad girls in bikinis! I've seen pictures of them with Hugh Hefner. BUT then I saw the trailer. I heard them talk. Wow. Are they nineteen, twenty? They sounded like little girls. All giggly and squiggly with HH in the middle, a leer fixed firmly on his face. And I thought, come on. What must it be like in the bedroom? And then I thought, no, I don't really want to know. It can't be pleasant. For the twins. I don't care what their press reps might say.

The First Ladies of the Girls Next Door are women. Kendra, as the youngest, was pushing it for me. Almost too gross to watch as she would lean over to kiss him. But the twins are girls. I don't think I'll be watching anymore. It was never sexy, that isn't the point, but at least it was never regressive or infantile. That's where our crown prince of pin-up is heading. Awww. It's sad to watch an icon crumble. I'd been a fan of Hugh Hefner. He was one of the catalysts of the sexual revolution, and thank god for that revolution. I think Gloria Steinem could kick his ass but you got to give the man credit. How many happy (as in ending) masturbation stories are out there, male and female, thanks to him? Gazillions.

LA Slugocki: Annie Oakley Got Her Gun

LA Slugocki: Annie Oakley Got Her Gun