September 11, 18 years later

This is a post from ten years ago. That fall we were spending a month in New York City. This fall I am at home. In the past ten years, a lot has happened to both me and the country.

What is very surprising to me is that we are still involved in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We also have a president who has no clue how to run foreign policy. I fervently hope Trump will be a one-term President and then we can try to undo all the harm he has done.

My sympathy goes out to all who suffered a loss on that terrible day. May all of their memories be for a blessing.

September 11, 8 Years Later

Today is the eighth anniversary of the terrible events of September 11 2001. This is a particularly poignant day because we are in New York. Eight years ago, I had been in New York the day before, September 10, and woke up, at home. on the morning of the 11th to hear my husband’s voice on the answering machine, ” I don’t know if you have heard what happened in New York but my parents are okay.” As everyone knows, September 11 2001 was a picture perfect New York fall day and the 10th was as well. I felt very steeped in my New York roots because I had spent the evening of the 9th reading about the  pending city elections while I waited for my friend who I was visiting to come home.

Today, September 11, 2009, is not a beautiful day. The weather is  very bad, with high winds and heavy downpours. Because of these bad conditions, we have been unable to attend any commemorative event. Many of them were outdoors.

Despite that, since 2001, I have felt that this day should not be like every other day.  Apparently President  Obama and Congress agree with me. In March the federal government designated September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.  I really hope that this takes root and becomes how  people commemorate September 11th in future years.

My thoughts are with all the people who suffered a loss on that fateful day and it is my sincerest wish that nothing like that will ever happen to any person or country again.

Stop The Bans

Yesterday I attended a  Stop the Bans rally in Northampton. Similar demonstrations  were held all over the country in response to the draconian anti-abortion laws that Alabama and other states have passed. It is very depressing to me that  reproductive rights are so threatened in 2019 when I can remember marching for the right to have an abortion in New York City in  the late 1960’s.  Abortion became legal in New York State in 1970.

Abortion was not legal in Massachusetts until Roe v. Wade in 1973. Massachusetts was also one of the last states to legalize birth control. However, last year, Gov. Baker, a Republican signed  the Nasty Women Act which repealed several old laws regarding abortion and birth control.  Nasty stands for Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women; legislators felt  the bill was necessary in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh ‘s appointment to the Supreme Court.

Several of the speakers at yesterday’s rally spoke about pending legislation in Massachusetts, the Roe Act.  This legislation would remove the requirement of parental consent for  an abortion for people under the age of 18.  The Roe Act also provides health care coverage for abortions for people who don’t have Mass Health.

Current Massachusetts law does not provide abortion coverage after 24 weeks. The Roe Act would extend that time period in cases of fatal fetal anomalies. Other provisions of the bill include ending the currently required 24-hour waiting period, and codifying the principles of reproductive freedom into state law. You can get more information about the Roe Act here.

World’s Fair

One of my goals for 2017 was to work more regularly on my book on faculty wives. Recently I have been able to do that and I have run across an interesting subject. Various World’s Fairs have come up in my research because the fairs have often been contested spaces.

The chapter I am working focuses on African-American wives and their clubs. Beginning with the Chicago Exposition of 1893 and going on until at least the NY Fair of 1939, African-Americans sought a seat at the table. Women, both black and white, also sought representatives.

The fair that is most interesting to me is the St. Louis Louisiana Exposition of 1904. Josephine Yates, President of the National Association of Colored Women, (NACW) negotiated with the Fair managers to have a World’s Fair Day for the organization. Other African-American groups also arranged for days.

Hallie Q. Brown, a member of NACW sought employment at the Fair and was refused. This prompted Margaret Murray Washington to urge the NACW convention to boycott the planned event. This became the official position of NACW, however many convention attendees did visit the fair. Interestingly, Booker T. Washington disagreed with his wife, feeling that cries of racism were over stated.

Over 10,000 people picketed the offices of the NY World’s Fair in 1939 demanding employment for black people. The women had more success, happily attending  a National Association of Colored Women Day at the Fair.

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Book Review: Just Kids

Just Kids by Patti Smith is a memoir about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, the photographer.  They lived together in New York City from 1967 – 1972. Their real experiences occurred during the same time frame as the fictional characters of Marge Piercy’s, Small Changes. 

The artistic and musical worlds of New York City were very different from the political and counter-cultural worlds of Cambridge Massachusetts. Although Patti Smith had different encounters with a variety of men she does not write about her experiences from a feminist perspective. Despite the fact that it was very unusual for a woman to front a rock band in the 1970s she does not write about those experiences through a feminist lens. 

Her goal, when leaving her small town in rural Jersey, was to become an artist. While living on the streets, she met Robert Mapplethorpe and they began to purse artistic careers together. While they worked on various artistic projects, they met many people who were already famous and some who became, as they did, famous later. To some extent they were in the right place at the right time. 

In many ways Andy Warhol was the epicenter of the avant garde art world and Robert, especially, sought to enter his orbit.  They went repeatedly to Max’s, a night club, where they did not directly encounter Warhol but met many other artists and musicians. 

Both Patti and Robert were twenty-one when they met and their years together represent the searching and developing of their artistic bent. Robert eventually focused on photography, particularly erotic pictures of men. Patti was more eclectic but became most known for her music. Many people consider her the ‘godmother” of punk rock. 

On one level, Just Kids is a love story. Although Patti and Robert were not always intimate and Robert realized his homosexuality during the time they lived to together, on an emotional level they were deeply connected. 

I enjoyed reading the book and realized I had never really heard her music. I got the album Horses and listened to it. The first time I did not like it at all but the second time around I found some interesting things.  It is clear that, as she says in the book, she was trying to merge poetry and rock.

 

 

 

Jacob Ruppert Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Today, Jacob Ruppert, legendary owner of the New York Yankees and a prominent New York brewer, was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame by the Pre-Integration Era Committee. This committee considers players, owners, and umpires “whose contributions to the game were most significant from baseball origins through 1946.” For more on this click here.

I am an avid Yankee fan and I wrote about Jacob Ruppert and his role in the brewing industry in my book Brewing Battles. In honor of his election to the baseball Hall of fame I am posting an entry I did on September 22, 2008 before I had a word press blog.  (I have reformatted it to work better in the current blog). You can also read a post I did about George Steinbrenner and Jacob Rupert here,

September 22, 2008

Yesterday I gave a book talk at a really nice beer bar and restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Justin, the owner of Beer Table, used to be an importer and he has a very nice selection of regional and imported beers.

Driving home we listened to the closing ceremonies for Yankee Stadium. On April 18, 1923 Yankee Stadium opened. Jacob Ruppert, a brewer, owned the Yankees and had the stadium built. The Yankees won that first game and Babe Ruth hit a home run.

Jacob Ruppert gave many things to Yankee fans, baseball fans, and beer lovers. He played a major role in creating an iconic sports dynasty. In 1923 the country was in the fourth year of Prohibition. Jacob Ruppert and a few other brewers kept the brewing industry afloat while it was illegal. I am a devoted Yankee fan and it gave me great pleasure to be able to write about Jacob Ruppert, Babe Ruth, and beer in Brewing Battles. Jacob Ruppert was a leader in both baseball and brewing.

Jacob Ruppert Time 1932

 

 

 

Occupy Sandy

On Monday I was in New York City and I volunteered with Occupy Sandy. Because I am a nurse I was sent to Far Rockaway to help in a clinic that was being started at St. Gertrude’s Church. I had responded to a tweet and was told to show up at St. Jacobi’s in Sunset Park. I was then driven with two street medics, from Boston, to Far Rockaway.

Because there was not electricity in many parts of the island, there were a lot of cops directing traffic. Many roads were not passable; either because they had become dirt or because various crews were working on them. Part of the time we drove along the beach. There is no longer any boardwalk; instead there are huge piles of wood and sticks as well as equally huge piles of dirt and sand.

Along streets there were cars facing every direction, often covered with mud. I saw one car with its front end facing completing down and stuck.  As we drove along, on empty lots and parking lots there were ad hoc clothing and food drives. This was neighbors helping neighbors.

Although there were a lot of cops, I did not see any FEMA presence. I saw one Red Cross worker walking in the street. St. Gertrude’s was affected by Sandy. Parts of the building in which the relief effort is taking place were flooded and there were people working on restoring the damage. On Monday the building had not yet had full power restored.

The clinic had been started the day before and it was not really set up. Four nurses from NYU Hospital spent several hours sorting through the medical supplies that had been donated and  organized and set up a basic clinic. Volunteers at St. Gertrude’s have been going out and canvassing the neighborhood to see what inhabitants need, particularly concerning medical issues.

At about three o’clock I went with two street medics to check up on several residents in a high-rise apartment building.  We started to climb the stairs and at almost every landing someone had placed a chair. We saw a couple of elderly women siting and gathering their breath We climbed seventeen lights of stairs but the person on that floor did not answer. On the sixteenth floor a Russian speaking women said she was fine and did not need any help. On the fifteenth floor a man who appeared somewhat confused needed some psych meds refilled. I was able to get his Prozac but because Xanax is a controlled substance I couldn’t really do anything. After that we climbed back down. While we were in the lobby the repairman finally got elevators to work. Oh well it was good exercise.

The relief effort at St. Gertrude’s is part of Occupy Sandy which is a part of Occupy Wall Street. The experience I had volunteering on Monday to me reveals both good and bad aspects of the occupy movement. The relief effort at both St. Jacobi and St. Gertrude’s was very disorganized. I had received two emails from two different people. Neither was at St. Jacobi when I got there.

The street medic who took me to Far Rockaway was a volunteer from Boston. The person at St. Jacobi supposedly placing medical personnel did not really know anything about St. Gertrude’s and the clinic. I got a ride out there but was on my own to find a ride back.  This was something that was not made clear to me before I left St. Jacobi.

I think it is terrific that Occupy Wall Street has organized to try to provide relief to people who have been devastated by Sandy.  I do think the effort could use some more consistency and organization.  Both FEMA and Occupy Sandy have gotten good press. The situation on the ground is more nuanced.

Why I Don’t Care About Steve Jobs

My title is not meant to imply I am happy Steve Jobs died. It is very sad that a man who was a father and husband died prematurely. He was an important person in the history of American business. It is just that I don’t get why there has been all the fuss. The media coverage has turned him into a figure on the level of Thomas Edison.

Steve Jobs did not invent personal computers. My first computer was a Kaypro. I have never owned a Mac and I don’t like them. I hated the commercial where they implied Mac users were young, hip, and cool while the rest of us were old and stodgy.

Kaypro Computer

I have had a Nano for about six months and it is okay. It is very small but the touch screen is very hard to use so I always “shuffle” my music. This limits its versatility and puts it on par with the $10 mp3 player I previously had.

I found the media coverage, which has been extensive and pervasive, puzzling. Jobs died on Wednesday night, the same night that as many as 20,000 people were in downtown Manhattan marching against the excesses of Wall Street and capitalism. There were also demonstrations in over 160 cities the same night. Except for Keith Olbermann on CurrentTV, the main stream media did not really cover these events but focused on Jobs instead. Was the death of a CEO of a corporation more important than Occupy Wall Street? I don’t think so.

The main contribution of Apple and Steve Jobs to American society has been one of marketing. He created products that people felt they could not do without. Did that change society? Maybe. Did it change society for the better? Maybe not.

 

A Time To Break Silence

I have been doing research on Anne Bennett, wife of John Bennett, president of Union Theological Seminary from 1963-1970. Anne was a committed anti-Vietnam War activist. Her husband was a founding member of Clergy and Laity Concerned. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a founding member.

In 1967 he gave this speech to a meeting of the group at Riverside Church, New York City. The speech is amazing and makes me realize, once again, what a great man he was and what a loss his assassination was.

King showed tremendous courage in speaking out against the Vietnam War. I wonder where such a leader is today. We deeply need someone who can connect the issues of militarism and imperialism to issues of social justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Containing Beer

On Saturday, I had dinner at Egg, a great restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. With the meal, I ordered a Narragansett Bock, 16 oz., and my husband had a Sly Fox Pale Ale. The restaurant didn’t have any beer on tap.  The two beers came in cans which surprised me. I know that some craft brewers have been producing beer in cans and Oskar Blues Brewery only produces beer in cans and has done so since 2002. ( For an article about canned beer and session beers, another trend in craft brewing, click here.)

Narragansett is an old brewery that has been recreated as a craft beer. At one time, Narragansett, based in Rhode Island, was a top selling beer in New England. Falstaff Beer bought the company in 1966. The brewery closed in 1981. In 2005, Rhode Island investors purchased the brand.

Usually when I go out to eat, I drink whatever beer is on tap and the same is true when I go to a bar.  I probably retain the negative association of bad beer with cans. The Narragansett Bock was okay but there really wasn’t anything special about it. My husband said the same thing about the Sly Fox.

To really evaluate if drinking from a can makes a difference in taste, I would have to drink the bock from a bottle or on tap and then compare.

A few weeks before the dinner at Egg, we went to Yankee stadium to see the Yankees play the Red Sox. Our seats were not that great and far away from any food or beer. It was hot so I got a Miller Lite – only 110 calories – in a plastic bottle. Miller Lite is a terrible beer and mostly tastes cold and wet. It would be impossible for the plastic to make it worse.

It is funny that soda comes in all different containers and no one thinks that   from a can instead of a bottle makes it taste worse. The new cans that craft brewers are using are not supposed to affect the taste at all and are lighter and easier to recycle.

I still think that the association of bad, macro beer with cans will limit how many craft brewers embrace brewing in cans.

Snow

Blizzard of 2010 - The Bronx

I have been watching with some amazement how New York City is dealing – or not- with the blizzard of 2010. Where I live we had about seven inches of snow. It was all clear by the end of Monday. The roads were back to normal by Tuesday morning. Of course, the population of my town is but a fraction of New York’s.

The problems the city has behaving, however, seem to be more related to poor planning and communication rather than the size of the city or the storm. In 1969 I was in high school in New York and we had a snowstorm that closed schools for a week. Because it took  at least that  long to clean up Queens, Mayor John Lindsay’s popularity plummeted. The next year he was defeated in the Republican primary and ran on the Liberal Party line instead.

Mayor Bloomberg has already overstayed his welcome, gaining a third term through questionable means.  His failure to manage the snowstorm may mean the end of any presidential ambitions he might have.

In my capacity as a nurse, I belong to the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). As part of our training we  practice and re-practice immunization drills. As a result, last year, when we had to have multiple flu clinks to give flu shots,  all went perfectly because we had trained so much.

When the governmental response to a crisis is  poor as in the case of Hurricane Katrina and the blizzard of 2010 it indicates lack of planning and training. New York City has emergency plans; they just did not use them. This means that some people in charge failed to understand the gravity of the storm. This is another problem with emergency responses. Humans are in charge so the possibility of an error in judgment always exists.

John Lindsay