A Half-Century Old Nightmare

August 19th, 2019 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

When I was very young, maybe toddler-aged, I had a nightmare about floating speakers in the sky. I remember it all these decades later. Not why the speakers were so terrifying, or what was coming out of them, maybe voices saying scary things? I only remember that the speakers were in the sky and they scared the hell out of me.

But every day when I go into the subcellar of the ASPCA, I see this speaker outside of the elevator, the same kind of speaker that frightened me so, and today I feel only affectionate nostalgia for it. I kinda want to steal it and hang it in my apartment.

Except a voice will probably come out it saying, “So we meet again.” [Evil chuckle] “Now, as I was saying …”

A CURIOUS LIFE: From Rebel Orphan to Innovative Scientist

August 18th, 2019 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Don’t you miss a president who values science and scientists? (As if there weren’t a billion other reasons to miss Barack Obama.) But here is Obama with Thomas H. Haines, the co-author with Mindy Lewis, of the book, A Curious Life, which chronicles the story of how he went from an orphanage to the founder of the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, a medical school designed to bring in low-income and minority students. In other words, and I can’t believe I have to say this, someone who find solutions that elevate people instead of calling them less than human, and that address other problems of the world and life at the same time.

“A remarkable story of one man’s epic rise from humble roots to the highest echelons of science and academia. Not just a beautifully told tale of perseverance, courage, and altruism, but a love letter to the city that gave the author his shot and the fascinating artists, activists, and scientists in his circle.” — Ed Boland, Author of the New York Times Bestseller The Battle for Room 314

You can buy it here.

On my to-do list: Lous Livingston Seaman

August 14th, 2019 Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

In my book Damnation Island I have a quote from a paper titled, “The Social Waste of a Great City,” by Louis L. Seaman. I’ve been meaning to research Louis Seaman to learn more about him. He seems like such a decent man. What he wrote about the criminal justice system in the 19th century is equally true today.

This is what kills me about the inequality and how unfair it is: We have always known. Here’s the section where Seaman appears in my book:

In 1886, Louis L. Seaman, the former Chief of Staff of Blackwell’s Island hospitals, called the affiliation between crime and poverty a “diabolic Malaprop,” insisting that “The relation between crime and poverty is no more essential than between crime and wealth.” Where were the standing armies of police to monitor the crimes of the elite? Worse, the poor were not corrected on Blackwell’s Island; they were destroyed. “No man or woman who is ‘sent up’ to these colonies ever returns to the city scot-free,” Seaman railed. “There is a lien, visible or hidden, upon his or her present or future, which too often proves stronger than the best purposes and fairest opportunities of social rehabilitation.”

But the system is designed, financed, shored up, and defended from reform by the very criminals who benefit from it. This is why Elizabeth Warren must become president. She understands this better than any other candidate and understands the system enough to begin to untangle the web that protects the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class.

Buildings Seen From My Roof

August 11th, 2019 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The non-famous ones. I have a nice view of the Empire State Building and One World Trade, but I’ve posted lots of shots of those. These aren’t the prettiest. Just the ones that caught my eye this afternoon. First up, a Jenga-style building. Not my favorite. Look at all the construction around it though.

Next, whats-his-face’s building. Jesus. What is his name?? Nope, not coming. Because I’m OLD. Had to google it. Julian Schnabel. Who is also old. Sorry, Julian. It is what it is.

I mean, they’re okay, but … eh. Also not my favorites, but I do like the lines they make.

I noticed there a number of buildings with structures that look like belfries in my neighborhood. What are they really used for? I want a belfry. And bats. Ever since one came into my apartment I’ve been love with bats. I watch videos of them on YouTube all the time. They are the sweetest things. “Where’s Stacy?” “Up in the belfry with her bats.”

Max Yasgur

August 8th, 2019 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I woke in the middle of the night, as per usual, and I ended up watching the Woodstock documentary on American Experience. It was a great documentary, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I will pay for this today at work.

I’ll never forgive myself for not going. I was only 13 years old and my mother wouldn’t let me go, but I’d already started ignoring my parent’s restrictions by that point, why did I listen to them then??

The most charming part of the documentary was Max Yasgar, the owner of the farm where the festival took place. I’ve been googling him this morning. His neighbors never forgave him apparently, and people point out that he did it because he thought it would be good for business.

So what if he did? As a person who runs a business I understand how important it becomes to do what you can to keep your business alive. As long as you’re not doing something that hurts people in order to accomplish that, fine.

In the early 1980’s I was a volunteer at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. This was at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. At our training session, they went around the room and each person had to give a selfish reason for why they were volunteering. If we didn’t have a selfish reason why we were doing this, the trainer explained, we would burn out too quickly. It was okay to be here for both altruistic and selfish reasons, he insisted. They didn’t cancel each other out.

(As an example, I posted that story for two reasons. One, in defense of Max Yasgur, and two, because I’m proud of my volunteer efforts and I guess I am showing off!)

It’s clear Max Yasgur was moved by the festival and the attendees, and had other non-selfish reasons for letting the organizers use his farm. You can listen to him address the crowd here. The sound quality is not great, but it gets better when Max speaks. He was a conservative republican, but he was also a man of integrity. I’ve been googling him, and I was sad to learn he only lived for a few more years after the festival. His son wrote a book that I want to get a hold of, Max B. Yasgur: The Woodstock Festival’s Famous Farmer. But I can only find two copies in libraries outside New York. I’ll have to see if I can get a copy via interlibrary loan.

The boys, hanging out as I google.