Baby, baby, please let me hold him

8 02 2016

Y’all know I’m pro-choice, right?

Like, I haven’t mentioned that I could fairly be called a pro-choice militant approximately 738.4135 times before, have I?

So, you know, when it comes to what may be a new variant of the Zika virus and its effects on the developing embryo and fetus, I have no issue whatsoever with an affected woman deciding to end a pregnancy.

I also—militant that I am—have no issue with a woman deciding to continue a pregnancy and to raise a child with microcephaly.

Microcephaly can have devastating effects on the person, but not always: Ana Carolina Caceres was born with microcephaly, was pronounced profoundly damaged by her doctor, and now works as a journalist. Not everyone will be as healthy as Caceras, of course, but she notes that with family support, medication, and five surgeries, she now leads a good life.

Caceras is insulted by the notion that a diagnosis of microcephaly should automatically lead abortion, but allows that, in the end, that choice should be left to the parents.

The most important thing is access to treatment: counselling for parents and older sufferers, and physiotherapy and neurological treatment for those born with microcephaly.

And for all of the talk of the necessity of women avoiding pregnancy (which, shees), what of those who for whatever reason (choice or lack thereof) do give birth to children with microcephaly?

So in addition to discussing better access to contraception and abortion for women in affected regions (which, frankly, should have been available long before the effects of the virus hit), let’s also talk about the support that these women, these children, these families will need in order to maximize those children’s chances for their own good lives.

I get and ought to get no say in what happens to the embryo or fetus in another woman’s body, but once that fetus is born, in whatever shape she’s born, we owe it to her to treat her as a human being.

What happened to her may or may not be a tragedy, but she, herself, is not.

She’s one of us.

~~~

h/t for Caceres piece: JonH at Lawyers, Guns & Money





Don’t let those Sunday afternoons get away

24 01 2016

It’s a snowy Sunday, so of course, the Jane Siberry song:

Last year we were told the city was going to get hit, so the governor—giving the mayor 15 minutes notice—shut the entire MTA system.

We got bupkes.

So I was a bit see-it-believe-it, but this is what it looked like at noon on Saturday.

009A proper storm.

This was the fire escape around noon:

007

And then around 5:00:

021

So, some decent accumulation.

It kept up well into the evening, at which point I headed outside; this was the entrance to my building:

030

With the driving ban there were no cars on the streets, so I copied the other shadow figures I saw and trudged down the middle of the avenue:

033

One bodega, at least, remained open:

038

By morning the warm and the wind turned the fire escape sculptural:

041

052

Beneath the blue, I headed to the park; I was not the only one with that idea, as every slope was smoothed by saucers, skinny cross-country skiers slowly glided along side trails, and snowmen appeared in fields and on fence posts:

056

059

I’m a sucker for the melancholy view:

060

But as I was walking out of the park, behind a guy smoking some skunky weed, and listening to David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes wobble out of the speakers by the ice rink, I did come across some incongruous green:

066

It snows all across the north and the prairies; there’s nothing new about snow, there’s nothing special about snow in New York City.

Except it’s my city, and I like the snow, and I like the city.

And its incongruous green.





Everybody got this broken feeling, 21

22 01 2016

This is a piece about the not-so-curiously skewed understanding of security which marks our political discourse:

When you cannot be bothered to ensure that the sick can access health care, people die. When you cannot be bothered to stop corporations from polluting the earth, people die. When you cannot be bothered to monitor workplaces for the hazardous practices under which their employees operate, people die. When you cannot be bothered to protect citizens from a law enforcement apparatus charged with protecting them, people die.

But we rarely hear about these aspects of keeping Americans safe until a crisis like Flint emerges. The ongoing notion of safety in politics, absent something headline-grabbing like poisoning an entire city, is relegated to the foreign-policy sphere. And playing up threats from abroad, often of dubious relevance, numbs the nation to the numerous other ways in which Americans are put in peril every day. And of course, there are fewer special interests clamoring to protect water supplies and workplaces than there are defense contractors wanting to go to war against a foreign threat.

To which I can only say: hear! hear!

But it also points to the necessity of functional government, and of the taxes needed to sustain that government.

As such, whatever good Bill Gates, et. al., may or may not be accomplishing, that NGOs are stepping in to provide services like vaccination or education only points to the failure of government, be it due to corruption, war, or lack of resources.

I’m not necessarily opposed to such philanthropy in a misguided heighten-the-contradictions! way—the need for clean water or mosquito netting is an immediate one, and without them, as David Dayen noted above, people die—but the private provisioning of public services certainly does take pressure off of incompetent government.

It’s also worth pointing out that foundations such as Gates’s are possible because people are able amass incredible fortunes and, in the US, pay relatively low taxes.

To the chase: is Bill Gates responsible for poisoned water in Flint? No.

And yes, insofar as he has profited from a system which tells people that acclaim in one’s field and small fortunes are not enough, but that freedom if only possible if millionaires are allowed to become billionaires and that massive corporations require the protections of government which are disdained when offered to the poor.

We in the United States live in an incredibly wealthy society, more than able to pay for competent government; that our government is, as in Flint or Ferguson, so often is not reflects the dysfunctions within the polity itself—and one of the chief sources of that dysfunction is our unwillingness/inability to say Enough! to those who have way, way more than enough.





This is ourselves

12 01 2016

I was never a huge fan of David Bowie’s.

I mean, I liked his music, had a few records, and generally enjoyed his work, but I was never a super-fan, and never had a full-on Bowie fever.

So why am I so sad today? And why can’t I stop reading about him?

~~~

David Bowie is actually associated with one of my worst memories from high school.

I wanted to be the yearbook editor my senior year. I’d started working on the yearbook staff when I was a freshman (which frosh usually didn’t do), was generally acknowledged to be ‘the writer’ in my class (not that hard, really, in a class of 150), and fully expected that the adviser, Ms. G., would appoint me.

She did not.*

L. and T. were appointed instead, and I’d be pissed about it to this today had they not a) put together a kick-ass yearbook; and b) treated me really, really well, allowing me to contribute in all kinds of way. They were champs.

Anyway, my idea was to create a yearbook around the lyrics to “Changes”—which is how Bowie gets dragged into this bad memory.

I have no idea whether or not this would have worked: it could have been amazing, it could have sucked, it could have been Eh.

Woulda liked the chance to have found out.

(*She had her reasons, which were legit. Still. . . .)

~~~

I’ve said “Under Pressure” is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but today I’ve read all kinds of pieces holding that song out as some kind of genius.

I don’t think it’s genius, but yeah, it is a good pop song, undeserving of the guilty-pleasure label.

~~~

One good thing that’s come from all this reading today is that I found, courtesy of the Huffington Post, a couple of videos of Bowie playing with Arcade Fire.

First I saw this one, one of Bowie’s songs:

Then one of Arcade Fire’s:

I like Arcade Fire’s cds just fine, but watching them live, man, I realllly want to see them live.

What it would have been like to see them live with Bowie.

~~~

I think the main reason I considered “Under Pressure” a guilty pleasure is that every time I hear it I tear up.

I cannot handle my own tears, cannot handle that I am moved to tears.

~~~

It’s kind of astonishing how amazing a singer Bowie was, given that he didn’t have much of a voice.

He’s not like Leonard Cohen, who can’t sing at all, but if I were asked for the best straight-up voices in pop, I wouldn’t name Bowie.

But oh, could he sing, so many different types of songs, with so many different types of singers. Some of these collaborations (Arcade Fire) work better than others (Mick Jagger), it wasn’t down to him.

Something about that thin reed, stretched across the universe.

~~~

“Space Oddity” reminds me of John Lennon. I don’t know why. Maybe I heard it while thinking about Lennon’s death.

Or maybe it just reminds me of high school.

It’s not every time I hear the song I’m reeled back, but sometimes, sometimes I’m in the parking lot at Sheboygan Falls High School, Bowie on the car radio, singing And I’m sitting in my tin can. . . .

~~~

“Under Pressure” is about love, after all.

And love, I don’t know what to do with love.

Thus my chagrin over my tears, my chagrin over love.

~~~

And all of the work he’s done, all of the chances he took, all he gave and all he withheld, all he hid and all he revealed.

David Bowie, 1947-2016, was a Starman, a man who fell to earth, an alien, an artist, but most of all, most of all, David Bowie was a human being.





Cheese, glorious cheese

9 01 2016

How could this not be wonderful?

cheese electricityCoffee, chocolate, and cheese: the three Cs that make life worth living

~~~

Sorry I haven’t been posting much. I’ve had ideas, just not the oomph.

I’d say I made a New Year’s resolution to be more disciplined, but y’all know I’m too lazy for that. . . .





Achtung, baby

28 12 2015

Finally made it to the Neue Gallerie for the Berlin Metropolis exhibit.

Verdict: Ehhhhhh glad I went, slightly disappointed not more Otto Dix (tho’ this work is great), but taken with the work of John Heartfield (about whom I knew nothing prior to this exhibit) and pleased to see some of George Grosz’s work up close (although I didn’t know that there was more than ‘Metropolis’ painting: I was thinking of this one, but the Gallerie hung this one).

There were a fair number of movie stills and drawings for movie sets, which didn’t rock my world, but I’m sure would be of interest to film aficionados. There were a few fashion items (shoes, dresses, hats), and some architectural renderings. Oh, and Walter Ruttman’s Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis played on continuous loop; I watched about a third of it, but will catch the rest on YouTube.

I also checked out the (small) permanent collection, and, oh my, they have a number of Klimt’s—including the famous portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, which is, as expected, completely astonishing.

But what stood me still was this smaller piece by Klimt, Girl in the Foliage:

As noted, it’s small—less than 13×10—but man, there’s something about that face, her eyes, that I couldn’t stop looking at. I stood back, I went in close, I stood back. I left, I came back, left again, came back again.

It’s just. . . I . . . I lack the words for this image, for how it affects me, not mesmerizing, maybe mesmerizing. . . I don’t know. I can only repeat: it stood me still.

I can ask for nothing else.





Upsot?

24 12 2015

My mom loves Christmas music. Loves loves loves.

Back when we had a stereo she’d load up that little thingamabob in the turntable with, I dunno, 5, 6, albums and let ‘er rip. Nowadays, she loads up the cd player and lets ‘er rip.

When I was little I loved the music and then I got older and teen-crabby and hated it and now that I’m not forced to listen to it I’m kind Eh about the whole thing.

Still, there was one song I was amused by:

And yes, I listened to it while writing this.

I still like it.

I hope you do, too. Merry happy peaceful.








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