Category Archives: People

One woman’s must-see video

MJ Hegar is a self-described ass-kicking, motorcycle-riding, Texas Democrat. She was a combat rescue pilot in Afghanistan until she was shot down and wounded on a mission. Several adventures later, Hegar is now trying to unseat the Texas Tea Party Congressman John Carter who refused to see her because she wasn’t one of his donors.

She calls her campaign video “Doors.” Doors she’s opened, shut, walked through, and doors slammed in her face. I’m posting her video, not to boost her candidacy, but because it’s impressively made about an even more impressive woman.

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Filed under People, Politics, Women

The Notorious RBG

I had heard “RBG,” the movie that celebrates the life and accomplishments of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was good. But I wasn’t prepared for how moving it would be for someone who lived through the times that RBG did so much to change.

If you remember when women’s minds were not valued and their voices barely heard, you’ll enjoy watching the amazing and Notorious “RBG.” If you’re too young to remember, then see it and learn. You’ll appreciate how different your life is from your mother’s (or grandmother’s) because of RBG’s legal triumphs.

“RBG” is a love story. The marriage of Ruth and Marty is lovingly told, as is her fierce belief in the Constitution and her crusade for equal rights.

The movie is fun to watch. The montage of old clips and photos interlaced with Ruth speaking her mind today is very well done. It’s also au courant— Ruth’s kids say she never watches TV, but we see her watching Kate McKinnon’s recent impersonation of her on SNL. She rocks with laughter, her usually sober demeanor dissolving.

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Five Shorts long in imagination

Treated to a screening of five short films at the Tribeca Film Festival and knowing nothing in advance about any of them, I marveled yet again at human diversity and creativity.

The first film was “Earthrise,” by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee. The three astronauts of Apollo 8 tell the story of their otherworldly adventure from launch to splashdown. It was an experience that immeasurably enlarged and changed their perspectives. The first humans to orbit the moon, they were awestruck when they saw the Earth rising above the moon’s horizon. They recall the emotion they felt when they saw their distant home, a blue planet ascending in brilliant color from the moon’s unremitting gray into the blackness of space. Their mission was to photograph the moon’s surface, but the first pictures ever taken of the Earth from space eclipsed the novelty of the far side of the moon. Their iconic photo of earthrise is one of the most famous photos ever taken.

The Blue Line” examines what happens when someone paints a blue line down the main street of a small town in order to honor the police. The line exposes a previously well hidden division between conservative and liberal, white and black. Voices raised in anger on either side of the divide eventually come to a town meeting to hear each other out. When Samantha Knowles heard about the controversy from her dad, she immediately dropped everything and returned to her childhood home to document the affair. One of the tiny percentage of African-Americans in an overwhelmingly white community, she was amazed and gladdened by the willingness of all the townspeople to speak with her.

The third film, “My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes,” is a son’s attempt to come to terms with destructive family relationships, and especially with his father. Charlie Tyrell pieces together an understanding of his distant, dead father with scraps of memorabilia. He draws on his own little bit of hard knowledge with very few existent photos, including the single one of him and his father together, the memories and impressions of his sister, random artifacts his father left behind and family stories he had heard to trace the origins of his father’s unwillingness to be known.

Sindha Agha tells her story of battling menstrual pain in “Birth Control Your Own Adventure.” She represents her period with raspberries floating in water, catsup among balloons and other unique metaphors. She made the film in two days to distract her when her pangs were particularly intense. Her experience, she discovered, is far from unique. Women called and wrote and shared their stories, stories that no men wanted to hear, stories that they kept undisclosed for most of their lives.


Lance Oppenheim is a junior at Harvard, fascinated by the man who calls himself “The Happiest Guy in the World.” He profiles Mario Salcedo, a man who boarded his first cruise 20 years ago and never returned. Mario lives his fantasy, shucking off the responsibilities of living on land. He doesn’t have to take out the garbage, for example. Someone else makes his bed and cooks and serves his food. Oppenheim gives Mario free rein  to explain why he is the happiest guy in the world, but he seems to be unaware of some glaring contradictions in his narrative. Strange.

All the filmmakers are under 40, three in their 20s and one not twenty yet, and all have made other films. I was struck by the originality of their work and the compelling stories they tell. Agha’s and Tyrell’s shorts are available in the New York Times Op-Docs section, and the others will soon be. Check them out. You won’t be sorry.

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Filed under People, Race, Space exploration, Women

Pink Pussyhats

Streaming out of the subway in waves of pink exuberance, New York City women had lost none of the energy from last year’s Women’s March. Signs abounded, screaming opposition to Donald Trump and the harm his decisions have done to American life and the welfare of the planet. America is a nation of immigrants, so DACA and immigration were major themes. Women’s rights— #MeToo, abortion and pay parity— were the other main focus.

There were people in costume, like the man covered with dollar bills and other currencies, all splattered with blood. They were bands. One had a tuba, clarinets, saxophones, a trombone, a melodica, tambourines and, of course, drums. Another was all drums, played by women in blue, dancing and drumming. Fogo Azul (blue fire) wore blue pussy hats. They had everyone in earshot moving and dancing.

Many creative, artistic signs.

“A woman’s place is in the House, the Senate, the White House.”

It doesn’t say ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled Norwegians yearning to breathe free.'”

We all enjoyed ourselves, but we appreciated

“Resign. Don’t make me march again.”

The march was scheduled to begin at 71st St. and Columbus Avenue at 11 a.m. My group met at 66th and Columbus at 11:30. By that time,, Central Park West, the main route, was inaccessible from the side streets, so the March was directed up Columbus to join the mainstream on Central Park West. It took us three hours to reach Central Park West at 77th St. A policeman told me that people had to march to 91st St. to reach the end of the line.

The procession began to move a little faster as the shadows lengthened and people peeled off.

At 4 o’clock I was the only one of my party left. I reached Columbus Circle (59th St.) and the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weakening. I told myself it was okay not to continue. I had, after all, marched 22 blocks in three hours only to return to my starting point. I wish I’d had a seat in the helicopter overhead to see the barely moving double flow of enthusiastic people waving signs and making music in a huge demonstration of solidarity.

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An sea of pink, pussy-hatted women of all ages–
babies

 

 

to grandmas–

Not every pussyhat was worn by a woman.
Although the vast majority of marchers were women, supporting men took part too.

 

 

 

Of the several themes, the most consistent, the one that tied the others together, was anti-Trump anger.

His boastful claim that when he sees an attractive woman he “grabs her by the pussy” was of course the inspiration for the pussy hat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were little pussycats

Big cats roared in defiance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covered with bloodied currency, this figure embodied scandal and corruption:

Rounding up the usual suspects for Special Counsel Robert Mueller:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Votes, instead of pussies, were proposed for grabbing instead.

Getting out the vote to defeat Republicans and Trump in particular was a popular theme. 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were references to #MeToo.

Plunder of the Earth was a pressing concern.

And the music played and the marchers danced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course, the Trump Shutdown.

 

Trump’s unforgettable language.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally,

 

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Filed under American Society, Environment, People, Politics, Random, Resistance

The New South and the Confederacy

Buried in the turmoil and never-ending work associated with a move from one home to another I’ve kept up with the headlines, but little of real substance. Over a week ago I took a break and came across the transcript of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s speech on the removal of confederate monuments.Mitch_Landrieu_2007March01 The mayor represents the new South, the Southerners who acknowledge that they live in the 21st century and understand and accept that slavery and the Confederacy died more than 150 years ago. They belong to a progressive America that has been trying to overcome that old legacy since the 1960s, an America that continues to make progress in the civil rights of people of all colors, genders and ethnicities.

Landrieu was responding to his critics who hold that by removing the statues of Confederate leaders he is erasing history:

There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.

The truth is that New Orleans is a great city, a “city of many nations … a bubbling cauldron of many cultures.” It is also true that

New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

Was the Attorney General listening?

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Recognition of African-American Women in 1960s long overdue

civrtsmarch

Now, as Black History Month begins, is an ideal time to celebrate the heroism of the largely unsung African-American women who put their lives on the line, fighting next to their men.

Few of the women activists in Martin Luther King’s day—women whose zeal and courage matched his—earned lasting fame. In the 1960s, women’s voices didn’t carry very far, despite the fact that their activism was critical to the movement. The resounding chorus of men, few of whom realized or acknowledged the intelligence and dedication of the black and white women who worked and protested alongside them, all but drowned them out. Of those women, only Daisy Bates, who spearheaded the desegregation of the Little Rock Schools, spoke at the rally that concluded the famous 1963 March on Washington.

A half-century later, black and white women organized massively: On January 21, 2017, hundreds of thousands of women marched not only in Washington, but in cities and towns across the U.S. Their voices reverberated throughout the world.

Here are some of the African-American women of the 60s whose stories must be told again: Continue reading

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How low can he go?

Donald Trump never ceases to amaze.

Charlie Brotman

Charlie Brotman

Charlie Brotman has announced every inaugural parade since Eisenhower’s second in 1957 to Obama’s in 2013— 15 parades and 10 presidents. He’s been called the presidents’ eyes and ears, cuing them when to salute or stand or sit. He is 89 years old, and a few weeks ago he lost his wife after 65 years of marriage. He was already preparing for the next inaugural, writing his script. He has said that this singular job has kept him going, given him a way to deal with his grief. But a few days ago he received an email from the Trump transition team informing him that he will no longer continue to do the job he lovingly fulfilled for what would been 60 years. He was summarily fired with no reason given. A Trump donor will take Brotman’s place.

Once again, the president-elect demonstrated that he is incapable of empathy, that he lacks the most basic humanity, that his only concern is Donald Trump and what will gild his ego.

 

Photo by dbking from Washington, DC – _MG_9498Uploaded by traveler100, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24272770

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