May 2002 Archives

America's agenda, while it clearly does not include any real consideration for the welfare of the world outside, excludes most Americans as well, with the notable exception of only the very very rich, who remain the beneficiaries of our tender care.

The World Health Organization proposed last year that poor countries be provided with such basic items as antibiotics and insecticide-treated mosquito nets. If we had backed the proposed program, estimated to save eight million lives each year, our share would have been about $10 billion annually (about a dime a day for each American). The U.S. dismissed the suggestion with little grace.

In contrast and at about the same time, our legislators in Washington enthusiastically joined together in support of the administration's proposal to make permanent the recent repeal of the estate tax, a bounty which will affect only some 3300 families yet cost the country $20 billion in revenue.

So here are our priorities. Faced with a proposal that would save the lives of eight million people every year, many of them children, we balk at the cost. But when asked to give up revenue equal to twice that cost, in order to allow each of 3,300 lucky families to collect its full $16 million inheritance rather than a mere $10 million, we don't hesitate. Leave no heir behind!

[By the way, the foreign aid figures Krugman uses in the column linked above are respectively 11 one hundredths and 13 one hundredths of one percent, and not 11 and 13 percent of our GDP. These are figures which usually shock Americans, who like to think we give away scads of dough to foreigners.]

Mildred Wirt Benson died tuesday at the age of 96. The author of the very first book and 22 others in the earliest series of Nancy Drew novels confided to a NYTimes reporter in 1993 that her esoteric fame could all sometimes add up to being a bit much. "I'm so sick of Nancy Drew I could vomit," she said.

Nancy Drew, seldom just Nancy, inspired readers, many of them envious girls, to scoop up more than 80 million copies of the books in the series. Here was a heroine who could survive being beaten, choked and tossed into car trunks; escape spiders and snakes — and then retire at night in her four-poster bed in a golden bedroom. She dated the athletic Ned and basked in the attentions of her doting, widowed father, the distinguished lawyer Carson Drew. And she had no mother to interfere with her adventures.

I still have my own beautifully-illustrated edition of "The Bungalow Mystery" (1960) and "The Mystery at Lilac Inn" (1961) high on our library shelf.

Back to the sixties---or worse! It's not the good parts this administration wants revived, but the infiltration and monitoring of political, religious and activist groups suspected of being critical of the government.

The NYTimes has it right in a sober editorial today.

Attorney General John Ashcroft has a gift for making the most draconian policy changes sound seductively innocuous. He was at it again yesterday, describing new domestic spying powers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as nothing more than the authority to surf the Internet or attend a public gathering. That is profoundly misleading. In reality Mr. Ashcroft, in the name of fighting terrorism, was giving F.B.I. agents nearly unbridled power to poke into the affairs of anyone in the United States, even when there is no evidence of illegal activity.


At a press conference Mr. Ashcroft promised that the new rules would be put in place with "scrupulous respect for civil rights and personal freedom." The sentiment is welcome, but unconvincing. Mr. Ashcroft and his colleagues have missed no opportunity since Sept. 11 to expand the investigative powers of the federal government and to stampede Congress into supporting the changes by suggesting that opposition is disloyal.

Adding a modest obsevation: They couldn't even handle all the data they had gathered when they had "restrictions!" It does not seem to have been lack of information that kept us from preventing September 11.

The Green Party nominees for New York state offices carry background credentials a progressive voter normally only dreams of. Compare them to the candidates of the two "major" parties for office anywhere at any time.

What do we betray or throw away when we support the things we believe in? What do we betray or throw away when we do not?

Dr. Aronowitz said that key issues in his program would include energy policy, especially the need to close the Indian Point nuclear power plan; the effects of the growing permanent war machine on our ability to meet social needs in the state; and, tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporate welfare. Like many of the speakers at the Green convention, Aronowitz spoke of the need to oppose the efforts by the national Democratic and Republican Parties to use September 11th as an excuse to curtail civil liberties and increase corporate welfare.


The Greens are committed to ecology, democracy, nonviolence and justice.

Things are looking up a bit for the gay or lesbian partners of those lost in New York and Washington September 11, but not everyone is here to see it.

The emergency funds made available after Sept. 11 came too late for Mike Lyons of Jersey City, who saw his partner of 18 years, John Keohane, killed by falling debris as the two fled the collapsing towers. Mr. Lyons, unemployed and suffering from multiple sclerosis, was slow to apply for financial assistance, and was running out of money when he committed suicide on March 1.

I tried to interest a number of people in that story back in March, but no one was interested. One reporter replied that he and his employer regarded such a suicide as a sensitive, private matter and so hesitated to report someone's decision to take their own life.

I could not agree with the sentiment even then, and I'm not even a news reporter. I thought such an attitude was really not that different from the media conspiracy of silence when it comes to the private lives of celebrities (if the celebrity is gay).

The Onion's roving reporter "Opinion" box this week quotes one imaginary member of the public, in reply to a question about suicide bombers in our midst, as follows:

"The U.S. is safe, so long as the terrorists don't see us being critical of President Bush."

I just checked again. No need to worry yet.

What a legacy! Yes, but while still alive, for most of her eighty years, Antonia Pantoja must have been just a dazzling, inspiring, sometimes daunting, everyday reality for those who shared her life and for those whom she helped. In the end, she helped all of us, making the entire country, and New York especially, a much better place.

Juan Gonzalez describes her impact on individuals, in today's Daily News.

With all due respect to Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin and J.Lo, no one during the past 50 years did more to elevate the Puerto Rican community in the United States than Pantoja.

One look at the doctora's story however and Gonzalez's comparisons seem grotesquely lame.

The New Republic includes the first critical look at the Catholic Church mess in Milwaukee, and makes it clear that this one is not a story of child abuse, the sexual importuning of a teenager, and most probably not even sexual date rape.

Because while all those priests for whom child molestation became the hobby of choice are utterly contemptible, so is someone who poses as a victim in order to extort money from a church.

The only quibble I can find right now is that the author neglected to ask whether the payment of the $450,000 blackmail payment was the decision of the Archbishop alone, of a committee of some sort, or even one kept out of his hands entirely by the hierarchy (Rome?) Weakland after all, has so far maintained almost complete silence on the matter, citing a privacy agreement with his lover.

An editorial in today's NYTimes pauses to observe the completion of clearance work at the World Trade Center site, and the portion of the text which addresses the recent past manages to be surprisingly gentle.

Most of us have found our own ways to accommodate the meaning of Sept. 11. But for the crews that have been at work on that unimaginable site — and at the holding areas where the debris has been sifted and analyzed — the one way to deal with the tragedy has been to dismantle it, fragment by fragment, until there was nothing left. Those crews have served as our surrogates.


Removing that last steel column marks the moment when the physical ruins of the terrorist attacks and their aftermath have been effaced. Some of us have been eager to push them out of sight, and some of us have been reluctant. But from now on, those ruins exist only in us.

Interesting that some people who think about these things are now arguing that in opposing same-sex marriage, social conservatives may actually be encouraging the legal recognition of such relationships, and in fact hastening the demise of marriage as an institution!

Jonathan Rauch argues in the Atlantic that the last thing supporters of marriage should be doing is setting up an assortment of alternatives, but that is exactly what they are doing, and not only for gays, when they offer "ABM" (Anything But Marriage).

Every year more companies and governments (at the state and local level) grant marriagelike benefits to cohabiting partners: "concessions fought for and won mostly by gay groups," as the Los Angeles Times notes, "but enjoyed as well by the much larger population of heterosexual unmarried couples."
ABM, perversely, turns one of the country's more culturally visible minorities into an advertisement for just how cool and successful life outside of wedlock can be.

So, eventually, a religious ceremony could become more like an alternative decorating choice!

Seven minutes in Cathedral Square, half an hour in the Hermitage, and an especially-miniaturized "Nutcracker," all in a day's work for the emperor who already knows all he has to know.

President Bush's father, when he was in the White House, introduced the world to "speed golf," involving a breathless race through 18 holes. The younger Bush, on his European trip, practiced a variation: robo-tourism.
But don't suppose the subtleties of European culture escape him in his high-speed bubble:
Arriving for a caviar dinner at Russian President Vladimir Putin's country residence, Bush viewed the immaculate grounds and told his host: "Nice of you to mow the grass for us." At the French president's palace, he noted that Jacques Chirac is "always saying that the food here is fantastic."

In Paris yesterday an American reporter was the target of the ire of the unelected one, because the NBC News White House correspondent deigned to ask the French President in French the same question he had just asked Bushie in English.

Perhaps Mr. Bush thought the French question was directed at him, or perhaps he thought Mr. Gregory was showing off. Whatever the case, Mr. Bush, his voice dripping with sarcasm, said "Very good, the guy memorizes four words, and he plays like he's intercontinental." (Mr. Gregory offered to go on in French, but that only made things worse.)

"I'm impressed — que bueno," said Mr. Bush, using the Spanish phrase for "how wonderful." He added: "Now I'm literate in two languages."

Mr. Gregory seemed a bit abashed, but others noted that, during the trip, Russian, German and French reporters posed questions to Mr. Bush in English, and in their native tongue to other leaders.

Yuck. My guess is that our leader is trying to tell us that, if we are Americans, we should be excoriated for being courteous, smart or educated.

W's snap at the correspondent was totally out of line, stupid, childish, and especially egregious in the context of the gentle handling he has enjoyed from his hosts in Europe for almost a week. The French President had been especially solicitous:

Perhaps to help cover for Mr. Bush, Mr. Chirac opened the press conference with a lengthy and rambling monologue about their talks and the state of U.S. - French relations. Mr. Chirac's remarks ate up about half the time allotted to the press conference, and he then shut down the press conference after only a handful of questions.

It's official! Only those legally part of the heterosexual system can be heroes. Wednesday the House Republican majority killed a bill, passed unanimously in the Senate, which would have extended death benefits to the survivors of gay chaplain Mychal Judge and nine other public safety officers who died during the attacks on September 11. The ten are the only public-safety officers killed in the attacks who have no "immediate family."

Under current law, only parents, spouses or children of public-safety officers who died in the Sept. 11 attacks are eligible to receive the standard $250,000 in federal death benefits.

Sources said the measure was shelved because of some lawmakers' concerns over the potential cost due to its precedent-setting nature, while others objected to the bill's recognition of the victims' "domestic partners."

George Burke, of the International Association of Firefighters, said it was an outrage to deny "recognition for fallen heroes."

"We're very frustrated here. We're very angry," said William Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations.

Every graduating class needs a Tony Kushner a lot more than it needs some suit.

Invited to address this year's graduating class at Vassar, the activist and playwright told its members and their guests that the future did not look bright and that no one he knew was truly happy.

The best they could hope for, he said, was to be "happyish."

"This is a time of crisis," he said. "And in a time of crisis, you have to focus on being real."

In his 20-minute address, Mr. Kushner urged the graduates to think to themselves: "I am here to organize; I am here to be political."

"It's boring to organize, but do it," he said. "The world ends if you don't."

Is this what the F.B.I. had in mind when it warned us about light aircraft?

An attempt to honour a dead baseball fan's last wish went horribly wrong on Friday, forcing the evacuation of Safeco Field, the home of the Seattle Mariners baseball team, amid fears of a bio-terror attack.

The plane dropped a package which exploded on impact, spraying the area with a "mystery white powder." It later turned out that the package contained the ashes of a devout Mariners fan who had wanted his remains cast over the field.

Bush---Little Boy the World is Not Your Toy! (sign held by a protester in France as Bushie arrives)

But unfortunately it is! And we supposedly gave it to him.

Two men, two stories.

The Boston Achbishop conceals felonies and exposes (real) children to the predations of child molesters, but that's ok with the Pope in Rome. The Milwaukee Achbishop* has an ongoing consensual relationship with an adult, and he's thrown out immediately.

Law in Boston is apparently stright and reactionary; Weakland in Milwaukee is gay and progressive. It's was a no-brainer, and business as usual, for the leaders of this sexist, autocratic cult.

*The best account appears only on the "premium" (view the entire article only for a fee), Salon site, where it is made clear in The witch hunt against Archbishop Weakland that the relationship in question was intimate and lengthy, yet regulary punctured by the younger man's venality and, ultimately, the successful blackmailing of the man who loved him.

What's clear is that the meticulous reporting of sexual abuse by the
Boston Globe -- swinging a wrecking ball through a wall of silence
behind which the cries of the innocent were smothered lest they
interfere with business as usual -- is in danger of giving way to
sweeping persecution of gay priests. The Marcoux affair, and the
slipshod reporting of his accusations by ABC, suggest it's open season.

We saw a wonderful new play, This thing of Darkness, by Craig Lucas and David Schulner, directed by Lucas, at the Atlantic Theatre in Chelsea last night. (We're going back a second time, and I never do that.) Lucas' stageworks include Prelude to a Kiss, Dying Gaul and Blue Window, which just might help prepare you for the evening's conceits. Schulner is just now establishing a reputation as a playwright, and own works will soon be presented at the Globe in San Diego, the Joseph Papp in New York and South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa.

On one level (perhaps on every level) it is the story of friendship, love and family, although nothing that might be familiar to your own friends, lovers or family. Oh, it's also the story of our destruction of the planet. Why can't we just get along? And, yes, do you remember the Bonobos?

It's a very funny, very sad, wonderful, exciting piece of work gifted with an extraordinary cast, and it doesn't even open officially until the end of the month (closing two weeks later). We'd like to bring the world to West 20th Street in the next few weeks, for its own damn good---no, for all of our own damn good!

And draws a big zero. Suddenly, out of nowhere, "they" have decided how the WTC site and its environs will be rebuilt, and they don't really care what you think, above all if you have imagination or a real aesthetic. It will be business as usual, with dull dull dull middlebrow power and bureaucratic consensus dictating the fate of a site whose rebirth has been keenly discussed and anticipated by the entire world. This sad but magnificent opportunity, perhaps the opportunity of the century, has been squandered in back rooms by people you shouldn't trust to build your weekend cottage.

The architecture critic, Herbert Muschamp, who has long campaigned against precisely what is now being presented as a fait accompli, is properly outraged.

The selection of the New York architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle to design a master plan for ground zero and the financial district confirms once again that architecture will play no more than a marginal role in the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan.
. . .
Mediocrity, the choice of this firm reminds us, is not a default mode. It is a carefully constructed reality, erected at vast public expense. Ignorance is the brick from which this wretched edifice is built. Secrecy is the mortar holding it together.

We wuz robbed!

Horrible to know not only that we can't expect intelligence or competence from the Bushies, but do we also have to be frightened out of our wits in the process? Can't Chicken Little at least pretend to have a little dignity? Read the first letter in today's NYTimes.

Making blanket statements about the inevitable success of terrorism in the United States plays right into the hands of the enemy and contributes to public hysteria.
Instilling fear in a population is a major objective of every terrorist cell.

The writer then offers his suggested outline of the message a government ought to send in these circumstances.

As Bushie arrived in the German capital, an anti-Bush banner hung from a Berlin Church reading "Peace for the world, pretzels for Bush."

Across Western Europe, the sharp criticism of the Bush administration's perceived unilateralism that predated Sept. 11 — and was then replaced by solidarity and shared mourning — has returned, resurgent.

Reuters reports that Cheney is worried about people finding out stuff.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday he feared a new Sept. 11 inquiry proposed by the top Senate Democrat would leak intelligence secrets and undercut U.S. efforts to prevent future attacks.

Aside from the more than arguable theoretical merits of his position, it seems to me the security problem up to now has been that government "intelligence" has been entirely too secret for our own good.

We, or those with the necessary resources, have to hear this from, yes, the Israeli press. Shoulderchip describes the story being kept from Americans. No wonder we can't understand what's going on in the world.

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday said that Israel had made Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority less effective by destroying its security infrastructure, and it absolved Arafat and his senior associates of responsibility for attacks on Israelis in 2001.

Let's hear it for the co-op boards! Maureen Dowd finds one bright spot in the "war on terrorism," even as she slams those who tell us they're fighting it from Washington.

I have no faith in the ability of the U.S. government to keep out terrorists. But I have absolute faith in the ability of New York co-op boards to keep out terrorists.

The F.B.I. has warned apartment managers in New York that the evildoers might try to get a place, furnish it with explosives and blow up the building.

The enemy vermin can dupe the I.N.S. to get student visas, but wait until the East Side co-op president starts grilling them about where they went to school, what eating clubs they were in, which dancing class they attended, and whether they would bother the neighbors with any impolite crashes or unesthetic bangs. If Henry van der Luyden of the Ardsthorpe had interrogated Mohamed Atta, that creep would have been screaming for mercy.

She's somewhat less sanguine about the chances for success elsewhere, and won't bet that the Bushie administration can avoid a political setback.

Beyond the co-op boards, however, we're on our apocalyptic own.

Robert Mueller calls suicide attacks "inevitable." Dick Cheney says another terrorism episode is "not a matter of if, but when."

Donald Rumsfeld warns that the terrorists "inevitably will get their hands on" nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

All this fatalism from our leaders and we're still only on a yellow alert?!?!

There is a red alert going on now, but it's only in Karl Rove's office. (There is a severe risk of political damage to the Bush administration.)

That's why the Bushies are trying to terrify us. They desperately want to change the subject from the stunning lapses of their ostensibly expert foreign policy team — and they cynically want to make it sound as if nothing they do or don't do really matters in the end.

I guess he doesn't trust his god enough. Our Attorney General stopped taking commercial aircraft last July, ". . . just as the intelligence 'chatter' about a possible al-Qaida strike on US soil was getting louder."!!!

Shoulderchip has the scoop, and, no surprise, it doesn't come from our own media.

I'm feeling so good these days about my government. Look at the first five headlines on Reuters as I write this:

N.Y. Police May Issue Landmarks Alert-Official Rumsfeld: Extremists to Get Weapons of Mass Destruction

Federal Official Rules Out Firearms in Airline Cockpits

U.S. Says Libya, Sudan Helpful Against 'Terrorism'

White House Backs FBI in Handling of 9-11 Memo

Oops! Merrill's story just slipped into the mix, but my point remains: How long can we take this stupidity?

Ok, we just found out that the world is a dangerous place, but America is making it more dangerous, in fact as well as in its imagination.

We are like a nation that has had a psychological break and is descending into rank paranoia. The destruction of the twin towers shows that there are things to be afraid of, but our government's mad responses are making us more vulnerable to such things, not less.

The ''war on terrorism'' has strengthened the hand of those who hate America. The US example of ''overwhelming force'' has pushed the Middle East into the abyss and has dragged India-Pakistan to its edge. The only real protections against cross-border terrorism are international structures of criminal justice like the recently established International Criminal Court, yet an ''unsigning'' United States slaps the court down with contempt.

Since September we have squandered our wealth and focus on a huge war while neglecting police work and intelligence at home and abroad. Hence the vagueness of the current warning. And how dare our government set off alarms about Cuba's putative bioterrorism project while it has done nothing to apprehend the anthrax killer? Oh, and - forgive me, just asking - where is Osama?

I also took the Political Compass test, and I found I'm even more lefty and more libertarian than Mr. B:

Economic Left/Right: -6.38
Authoritarian/Libertarian: -9.51

About the same as Ghandi if he were more radical. Here is the Libertarian Left recommended reading list.

Castro is apparently no longer a threat to the Western Hemisphere, but only a weight on the shoulders of his own people. Bushie says we must continue the embargo designed by our Cold War, but now it is because he's not democratic enough, or sufficiently capitalistic.

"I want you to know that I know what trade means with a tyrant," Mr. Bush said. "It means that we will underwrite tyranny, and we cannot let that happen."

"For 43 years, every election in Cuba has been a fraud and a sham," Mr. Bush said. "Mr. Castro, once, just once, show that you're unafraid of a real election."

Well I think we smell a rat. No free elections in Cuba? Does he mean that Castro lacks the legitimacy of a Supreme Court appointment? And even ignoring our own shortcomings, shouldn't we be boycotting, among others, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, China, any number of former Soviet Union republics, and certainly Pakistan, rather than allying ourselves ever more closely with these non-democratic, occasionally capitalistic model states in the fight against freelance terrorism?

We don't understand. Please help us out, Bushie.

So, this supposedly democratic nation with its famed Bill of Rights cannot keep us safe without disregarding its own principles and standards. And, since we have been told that the "war on terorism" will continue until there is no terrorism (freelance) anywhere on the planet, we can expect never to see those principles and standards again.

HACKENSACK, N.J., May 20 — Justice Department lawyers, defending the federal government's refusal to identify the 1,200 foreign Muslims arrested after Sept. 11, said today that public disclosure would undermine counterterrorism efforts and put the detainees at risk of attack from angry Americans as well as terrorists.

Appearing before the Appellate Division of State Superior Court, the government lawyers insisted that national security interests outweighed any public right to know who is being kept in its jails, why and for how long.

"This is not secrecy for secrecy's sake," said Robert D. McCallum Jr., the assistant attorney general in charge of the department's civil division.

He added that revealing the names of detainees, even those cleared by investigators of involvement with terrorism, might open them to attack by American "vigilantes" or allow terrorists to piece together details of the government's counterterrorism efforts.

The arguments were the latest in a series of attempts by the Bush administration to justify its assertion of sweeping powers to hold secret immigration hearings, conceal the identities of foreign detainees and imprison people as material witnesses, all in the name of fighting terrorism.

In every case heard in the last few months, federal and state district judges in New York, New Jersey and Michigan have ruled against the government and in favor of disclosure.

Should we bother pointing out that these detainees were rounded up within our borders and most remain concentrated in camps (oops, Jails) largely in two New Jersey counties?

And is it still necessaary to point out that in all of the Government's counterterrorism efforts since September 11, among all of those detained after that date, here in the U.S. in Afghanistan, Cuba or anywhere else, not one person has yet been charged, other than John Walker Lindh?

Are we really sacrificing our liberties, and those of much of the rest of the world, and ignoring almost all domestic problems, to virtually no effect in the "war on terrorism?" Say it ain't so!

In the past six months, virtually any allied operation in Afghanistan has, upon examination, turned out to look about as farcical as the next.

Brigadier Lane complains that the [Al-Qaida/Taliban] are "not showing a predisposition to reorganize and regroup to mount offensive operations against us". They just won't come out to play. Well, would you if the place was crawling with some of the most sophisticated weaponry in the world? Far better to lie low and look after your goats, or visit some relatives over the border in Miram Shah in Pakistan's Waziristan, and brush up your Koranic chanting. [JAW---I know, the phrasing betrays a certain British cultural sarcasm at the very least]

Any [Al-Qaida/Taliban] strategist can rely on the fact that their commitment and patience will comfortably outstrip that of the western soldiers currently trudging up and down the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, like any terrorist organization, doesn't need a base in Afghanistan to launch its attacks, while the Taliban can sit tight, quietly recruiting and regrouping, before re-emerging in Afghan politics. It's an ignominious ending to the triumphalism of the fall of Kabul just over six months ago.

Afghanistan offered the perfect solution to September 11 - a massive expiation of US anger and, more subtly, guilt. Dropping all those bombs felt doubly good: it was retaliation for a terrible crime, but also getting rid of an evil regime. The emotional rush was everything; whether the latter actually worked has fallen off most people's radar screen. They're not interested. The selective memory means that what is remembered is that a few women in Kabul threw off their burkas in November, not that many more women in northern Afghanistan have been raped since then in a wave of ethnic revenge against the Pashtun. Nor is anyone much interested that since the fall of the Taliban, the old lawlessness of highway looting and illegal road tolls has re-emerged. Or that in the past few months there have been at least two major conflicts between warlords - in Mazar-i-Sharif and in Gardez - as an uneasy truce awaits the results of next month's loya jirga.

But maybe we can do better in Iraq, North Korea, the Phillipines, and all the other evil hotspots we still have to straighten-out.

Stuart Hawkins has a magnificent show mounted in Priska C. Juschka's new space in Williamsburg. We had seen different work of hers, no less extraordinary, at the Scope show in the Gershwin Hotel earlier in the month, but the video and the wall-mounted large-scale c-prints currently on view in the gallery are both more human and less approachable. More human because each image is of a particular dreamer who becomes known to us in a small but very significant way both through his or her own creation and that of Hawkins' art. Less approachable only because it is so difficult to imagine separating individual images from the whole concept, which is breathtaking in its simplicity and its weight.

For her most recent project "Appearing In," her subjects address aspects of pop culture as they are invited to respond to the camera. . . . As her subjects take to the stage they use props, body language, music, and select English words to bring sex appeal and beauty to the image. . . . as these unexpected yet familiar representations are presented to us in a context removed from our own new meaning is rendered not only as it pertains to contemporary Nepal but more importantly as we self-consciously recognize the image or ourselves. [excerpted from notes provided by the gallery]

Yes, a good-sized book would be wonderful, since we cannot surround ourselves with this installation after June 17.

How did we get here?

How many times have we heard that so many people voted for Bushie because he was the kind of guy you'd want to have a beer with (whether or not he would want to on his part). I asked my own Mr. B what I thought was a rhetorical question, "Do people pick their doctors that way?" He said he thought they do. Lawyers too. Wow.

It's got to be only because presidents, doctors and lawyers aren't really that important---unless you really need them, and most decent Americans do not, of course.

So what about your auto mechanic (or plumber, if you are a New Yorker)? Is it more important to imagine having a beer with him or her, or to expect he or she can fix the car for a decent price?

Ok, let's admit it now, we all really need a president, not another drinking partner.

Sent down from Smith because her educated father thought too much education would make her unmarriageable, over sixty years later she returned to the school she had loved so much, completing her degree this spring, at 87. In the meantime she had been through two unhappy marriages and had built an impressive career.

Ms. Martindell is mindful that the same career-versus-children concerns that led her to leave Smith the first time still echo in this generation. "I think women can have it all," she said. "We live so long, you can have the family and then have the career. I didn't do anything real until I was 50."

"A friend told me that after I graduated, I should take a year off to find myself," she reported, delightedly. "But as long as my health holds out, I need a project."

Apparently we don't always know what we look like to others, even if we try to live two lives.

Warren Allen Smith, 80, sat at the corner table looking clean and gray, dressed in dark corduroys, a sweater, an orange oxford shirt, specs, a conservative part in his hair. Above him there were cheap chandeliers, and the place was done up with false flowers and dancing cherubs.

"Nobody wants you when you're old and gray," a drag queen sang.

After cordialities, the old man turned to his former student and asked, "Did you know I was gay?"

"I don't think it was any big secret," his former student said, his eyes large and amused by the question and the atmosphere. No one had tastes and style like Mr. Smith.

"Oh, really?" He seemed disappointed. For 37 years he had lived a dual existence. Half the year he lived in Connecticut as a closeted man, dedicating himself as the model high school teacher. The other half of the year he spent in New York living his secret life, his captain's paradise, he called it. He even threw burning garbage cans at police cars during the Stonewall Riots of 1969.

"I thought nobody knew."

They stood at the bar for a cigarette, and William Allen Smith, editor of "Who's Who in Hell," detective of the paranormal, inspector of the male form and beloved educator, attracted the misfits and fatties, and they poured out their hearts and histories to the aged oracle.

Do you know what it's like growing up gay in Long Island? asked one.

Am I too fat to find a man? asked another.

The teacher listened attentively before offering a hopeful quotation from Truman Capote's English teacher: "The football boys might hate you now, but they'll love you later."

The following quote is posted not for the status of its source (modest), but for its pithy timeliness:

It is more than investigation of possible counterterrorism oversight that [the Bush administration is] resisting. They are resisting the erosion of the dissent-free culture of political orthodoxy that has dominated this nation's for the last eight months -- and it comes not a moment too soon.

The President who couldn't even name the leader of Pakistan has embarked on a foreign-policy nightmare. America has allied itself with a number of flagrantly undemocratic nations, from Uzbekistan to Malaysia. Evidence emerges almost daily of our probable role in an aborted coup in Venezuela, while our support of a brutal civil war in Columbia resembles the early years of Vietnam. One and a half million troops are massed at the India-Pakistan border, ready to plunge the Indian subcontinent into chaos. War with Iraq looms. The situation in Israel and Palestine threatens to destabilize the entire region, and our policies in the Holy Land risk birthing a new generation of anti-American terrorists.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has revived talk of using nuclear weapons on a first-strike basis, overturned the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, declined to sign a biological weapons treaty, hid our own production of biological weapons, refused to recognize International Criminal Court, held up the World Council on Children, and -- after rejecting the Kyoto Accords -- replaced the head of the International Panel on Climate Change. Domestically, we have an energy policy written by the same people responsible for staging an energy 'crisis' that cost the state of California $30 billion. The denial of public inquiry into the matter was justified with an invocation of, more or less, the divine right of kings -- fitting, perhaps, given the administration's disregard of the Constitution in the name of fighting terrorism.

To top it all off, contrary to Bush's campaign promises, our budget deficit is at least $121 billion -- and, according to a note from Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill in our government's 2001 financial report, it may actually run to half a trillion dollars.

The time has come to lift the star-spangled shroud of silence that has hidden the affairs of our nation.

"Finally victims will be rehabilitated -- even if many are already dead," said a campaigner friday, aparently with no irony, after Germany's parliament passed legislation allowing around 50,000 gay men prosecuted by the Nazis because of their sexuality to be pardoned, 57 years after the end of the Nazi regime.

Silence earlier meant concentration camp, sometimes death, and after the war, very often continued imprisonment, for the victims of heterosexism.

Anti-gay measures passed in 1935 formed part of a Nazi philosophy that deemed homosexuals alien to the state's aim to create a "super-race."

"The new state ... must firmly counter all unnatural sexual urges," the preamble to the 1935 law said, singling out gay men.

If found guilty, victims faced up to 10 years in prison or concentration camps, where thousands died. Other gay men were forcibly sterilized or subjected to medical experiments.

The legislation remained unchanged on Germany's statute books until 1969.

It's not easy for Americans to grasp complex political concepts, especially in this wonderful age of concensus, but Richard Goldstein offers to help us to understand a man who definitely did not fit into our simple categories.

The anxiety that still surrounds homosexuality in this culture is what makes our gay right so brittle, and so set against any queer who doesn't meet the standard of respectability. But the saga of Pim Fortuyn shows what can happen in a society where the energies of gay people are unleashed. The potential for leadership asserts itself, and if the result isn't always pretty, call it an unintended consequence of success. The goal of the gay movement is to liberate gay people. What they do with their freedom is something else again.

Dan Rather is ashamed that he, and the American media generally, has not taken on the Bush administration over the war on terrorism, because of misguided ideas about patriotism, and of course, out of shear fear!

"It starts with a feeling of patriotism within oneself. It carries through with a certain knowledge that the country as a whole - and for all the right reasons - felt and continues to feel this surge of patriotism within themselves. And one finds oneself saying: 'I know the right question, but you know what? This is not exactly the right time to ask it.'"

"It is an obscene comparison - you know I am not sure I like it - but you know there was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around people's necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck," he said. "Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions."

Are we waking-up now? But even if we are, is it too late?

Just a thought. But there are more and more stories, and more and more corroborations, of an alleged connection between oil and gas industry profits and "The War on Terror." Since the Bushie administration is essentially an oil and gas administration, will be be surprised to find that our present nightmare is really part of a horrrible, cynical game being played out of sight?

In the aftermath of September 11th, we were told the terror was brought upon us by people who hate our freedom and resent our way of life. In point of fact, however, it appears the attacks came as part of a broader game. The Bush administration willingly entered parley with the Taliban, despite their care and feeding of wanted killer Osama bin Laden, so as to further the goals on an American petroleum interest. In the process, they watered down American anti-terrorism measures to such a degree that a Deputy Director was compelled to quit in protest, and another has since filed suit against the agency.

This very provocative essay is logged here in order to get it out into the open, where it can be defended or dismissed as more information comes forward.

Bushie's only response to the growing uproar over his administration's foreknowledge of a terrorist attack, foreknowledge kept secret until now, is to ask God for wisdom. Well, we know we won't get it from Bushie or his handlers, especially if they're really looking for it to come from an Imaginary Playmate.

Bush made no immediate comment on the situation.

He attended a National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington and said prayer has helped Americans of faith to get through the last eight months.

"The last eight months have showed the world the American character is incredibly strong and confident. Yet, prayer reminds us that a great people must be humble before God, searching for wisdom -- constantly searching for wisdom from the Almighty," he said.

Hugh Hicks never met a lightbulb he didn't like, so he collected them all.

He was not above what might be termed stealing, and he proudly displayed stolen bulbs in a group he called 10 Hot Types. In the Paris Metro in 1964, he noticed a series of 1920's-era tungsten bulbs along the wall. He did not know that the bulbs were wired so that if one was removed, all would go out.

He surreptitiously removed a bulb, and the tunnel was suddenly pitch dark. With people screaming, he scrambled to replace the bulb.

"But I couldn't get it back," Dr. Hicks said in an interview in The Baltimore Sun. "So, you know me, I grabbed two more and took off."

Still two countries, Georgie!

Would it be better to believe the Unelected One was simply under a misapprehension, or just generally stupid? Here are his exact words, as heard in news broadcasts, and as printed in the NYTimes today:

"Today, I'm pleased to announce that the United States and Russia has [sic] agreed to a treaty which will substantially reduce our nuclear arsenals to the agreed-upon range of 1700 to 2200 warheads."

The "sic" is my own, and was not present in the Times text, unfortunately.

The headline of the day, or even more, from Reuters:

New NATO-Russia Partnership Ends Cold War Again

For a non-hysterical discussion of gay sexuality in the Catholic priesthood, read the interview the NYTimes published May 11.
The interviewee tries to distinguish pedophilia from an attraction to sexually-mature teenagers, but messes-up in his conclusion.

But as I understand it, pedophilia is a specific clinical description of a person who is attracted to prepubescent children, and in that there is no particular connection to homosexuality. Where the issue gets murky for everybody is where you're talking about 16- or 17-year-olds, who may regard themselves as sexually mature. How do we talk about priests who have relations with such people? Can someone who has homosexual desires be sexually attracted to 17-year-olds? Yes, some gay men are. Some straight men are attracted to 17-year-old girls. So do we regard that as a pathology, or do we regard it as an attraction that shouldn't be acted on for moral reasons? Either way, it's wrong, but not wrong in the same way.

The last two sentences would be defensible only if they actually read, "So do we regard that as a pathology, or do we regard it as an attraction that perhaps shouldn't be acted on because of socially-constructed prohibitions? If it is wrong, it is therefore wrong for very different reasons."

It's more than frustrating to fret about the errors, not to say duplicity, of American foreign policy when it appears there are no Americans who know or care what that policy is. To make it worse, while the facts clearly show, for anyone who bothers to look, that we do not act on principle, I am sure that if queried, virtually every American would say otherwise. Noam Chomsky describes the recent history of our Mideast policy in a few paragraphs, and in doing so manages to help us understand why it has gone so wrong (for the Palestinans as well as the Israelis).

The Palestinians have long suffered torture, terror, destruction of property, displacement and settlement, and takeover of basic resources, crucially water. These policies have relied on decisive US support and European acquiescence.

It is regularly claimed that all peace proposals have been undermined by Arab refusal to accept the existence of Israel (the facts are quite different), and by terrorists like Arafat who have forfeited "our trust". How that trust may be regained is explained by Edward Walker, a Clinton Middle East adviser: Arafat must announce that "we put our future and fate in the hands of the US" - which has led the campaign to undermine Palestinian rights for 30 years.

Ok, it's pretty and very important, and maybe a lot of people would love to look at it all day long, but heck, it's a three-dimensional print (seven casts exist, according to the New York Times), so $18.1 million seems a bit steep. reported that dealer Robert Pincus-Witten joked, "It must have been the eyebrows."

Fascinating relics of perhaps the world's first real efforts at photo-journalism showed up in London this week. Up to now I'd only read about the quaint old Parisian custom of picking up paving stones and assembling them in neat piles for the sport of battling the troops of an offending regime. But there they are! And in a newspaper!

Unfortunately we don't seem to be able to emulate Monsieur Thibault his success 154 years later, since both our own regime and that of its colleague-in-arms, Ariel Sharon, are able to keep journalists away from the nasty business of their own troops.

All did not end well in 1848, but liberalism and socialism were not destroyed either.

Revolts in Vienna, Hungary, Prague and Milan were also crushed, but not without forming part of the legend that inspired European socialists for more than a century afterwards.

Vive la Revolution!

Noam Chomsky, within the text of an extraordinary discussion (in an interview with a Croatian journalist) of the events since September 11 and of broader topics, joins other progressive commentators in arguing that Americans really are not asleep! So, we can't even believe the media when it reports our attitude toward its attitude?

More surprising, to me at least, was that the Sept. 11 atrocities had the opposite effect among the US population. Very quickly, it was clear that there is far more openness to critical and dissident analysis, and there has been a remarkable upsurge of concern, often activism, about issues that were pretty much off the agenda before - including, among others, the US role in the Middle East. Naturally the media and journals of opinion claim the opposite, hoping to still independent thought and impose obedience. But people who have any contact with the general population know better. Demands for talks have spiralled competely out of control, and the scale and engagement of audiences is without precedent apart from the peak moments of the anti-war movement in the late 1960s. The same is evident in sale of books, and in fact by every other relevant measure. Even the media have been to some extent effected, and though still highly restricted, are more open than they have ever been in my experience over 40 years of intensive activism.

The entire interview is fairly long, but long on fairness, and accuracy, and well worth a read.

It takes more than epithets to deal with complex problems. It never hurts to do some thinking. Sharon is almost an open book these days, but many of us want to know why we have such a problem with Arafat?

What is it about Yasir Arafat that makes him so troubling to the United States and Israel? In fact, the problem is not the man himself, as Mr. Sharon and President Bush seem to think, but the political position of the Palestinians in the Arab world today.

We pride ourselves as a nation on many things, but we are beginning to realize the extent to which there is much false pride. To include our treatment of children in the list may surprise many of us.

The other sticking point for the American delegation [to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children] is the degree to which the conference document can refer to a landmark 1989 treaty on children's rights. Along with Somalia, the United States is the only country [on earth] that has not ratified the so-called Convention on the Rights of the Child. The treaty prohibits countries from using the death penalty against criminals under age 18, a practice permitted in many American states.
Note that Somalia does not now and has not for some time had any semblance of a government, precluding the possibility of its ratification of an agreement of any kind. We have no such excuse.

Beautiful in its simplicity and its morality, and an argument against the blind anger and fear that surrounds us all, this letter in the New York Times today should pull us all up short.

Some 30 years ago, a Hebrew University law faculty member wrote, "A border is secure when those living on the other side do not have sufficient motivation to infringe on it."

As another Hebrew University professor put it: After every victory, "the abyss of mutual hatred will deepen and the desires for vengeance will mount."

A few months after the 1967 war, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, a leading Israeli intellectual, said that the occupation was unjust and would lead to the subjugation of the Palestinians, and even to the corruption of Israeli society.

Ancient Israel gifted the world with the revolutionary idea that it is justice, not military might, that brings peace. Now is the hour for that wisdom to be reborn.

From SatireWire a modest, almost Swiftian proposal.

Trenton, N.J. ( — Under a new law designed to protect minors, local police departments will now be required to inform residents any time a known Roman Catholic church moves into their neighborhood.

The law also mandates that Catholic churches register with authorities, wear electronic monitoring devices, and be prohibited from moving to within a half-mile radius of a school.

Certainly Taiwan has one up on us at least in this issue, but the argument and the teminology used in this latest development is as idiosyncratic as it is weird.

Defence Minister Tang Yiau-ming told government lawyers that the ban against military police candidates with "sexual orientation impairment" would be dropped because "the military preserves the security of all citizens, including homosexuals," according to a report by the Taipei Times.
Why can't we say the same about the protection offered by our military? But let's keep out the phrase, "sexual orientation impairment."

It's her Jubilee! She deserves at least one very cute streaker. No, we all do! She certainly seems amused.

The streaker was pounced on by at least four police officers and forced to lie face down, spread-eagled on the ground.
Sounds good to us.

Reno, now more than ever.

The NYTimes visits Reno's new show and Anita Gates finds it ". . . consistently, energetically, loudly funny."

Reno sticks to her politics, no matter what the current fashion. At a recent performance her anti-Giuliani comments met with nervous silence, but her anti-Bush remarks were a hit. "Can't we get a smart guy?" she asks at one point, describing the president's unrehearsed public-speaking style as "like a drunk trying to look sober."

A reminder from some who were impacted the most by the neglect and malignancy of the late, unlamented Giuliani adminstration.

Shame on the Episcopalian hierarchy! Their generally tolerant and progressive members deserve much better, as does all of New York!

The Episcopal Diocese of New York honored former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani Monday, as a group of parishioners protested outside.

. . . .

"They're honoring him now for what he did September 11,” said protestor Glenda White. “We want him to remember what we went through for seven years.”

This is a quite wonderful little reminiscence of a part of our shared culture whose story presses quite a few buttons even today.

"Come will and come may, I must face it," she would sigh.

[Her husband Jake"s] role, where appropriate, might be to add, "You're breaking your father's heart."

. . . don't have to be jewish to be gay; don't have to be jewish to be Israeli.

Not everyone has a problem with co-existence in this city of both jews and palestinians. Sometimes it helps to be gay.

[Jerusalem] Mayor Ehud Ulmert recently expressed the need for a massive march in the center of the city to show its citizens and the world that life goes on, El-Ad [director of the gay community center] mentions. "It's difficult for me to think of a more appropriate event than Gay Pride to celebrate life in Jerusalem and to do it in a way that is relevant and meaningful to the current situation."

Before moving to New York in 1985 I spent twenty years in the distant, yet not-so-provincial, province of Rhode Island, and even in 1965 every faggot with a pulse knew about the notorious promiscuous sexual adventures of the leading American Catholic churchman of the day, as well as his very special nickname, "Franny Spellman."

Shoulderchip has tripped over Michaelangelo Signorile's piece in the New York Press resurrecting a story of Roman Catholic Church hypocrisy which never really went anywhere in a more "gentlemanly" journalism era, but which today should interest, if not fascinate, most anyone who can read.

Broadcast this as widely as you can!

(The five words above comprised a notice painted handsomely and permanently on the blackboard in my third-grade homeroom, above a changing list of pithy admonitions, all in different-colored chalks. Funny, only years later did I learn that the complete sentence includes, "is sufficient." Was I more sufficient after that or before?)

Anyway, don't miss regularly checking the "quick links" on the upper right of this page. Bloggy and Shoulderchip are awesome on the big items.

The Onion reports this week, in banner headline, "God Re-Floods Middle East."

JERUSALEM—In what theological and meteorological authorities are calling "a wrathful display of Old Testament proportions," the Lord Almighty re-flooded the Middle East Tuesday, making good on last week's threat to wipe the region clean if there was not an immediate halt to the bloodshed between Arabs and Jews.

If I can be forgiven , just this once, a religious metaphor of the sort loved by all true americans, allow me to suggest that our appointed government is driving us all to hell in a handbasket.

Just think about what has happened to the planet in only the last year and a half, and, even more exciting, what mischief is planned for the future (all of this accompanied by skyrocketing approval ratings, or so we are told).

It's all so exciting, it makes one pee in one's pants.

[JAW---Actually, the category should read, "General, Culture, Happy, Queer, Politics," but the program won't accept that.]

Reno has been nominated for the Drama Desk Award for "Outstanding Solo Performance!"

We've seen an earlier form of this show and were totally, what, mesmerized, charged, laughed-out and enchanted (strange combination). We don't expect to miss seeing it at least once more at the wonderful new venue, The Zipper Theatre; it's a new performance each night!

This is very freaky, but yesterday morning I was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance! I always thought that they were just for "real theatre" - literature, Ibsen or Arthur Miller, but I guess they ran out of those. For the proof, go to [JAW---the site doesn't come up right now]

Now, people keep asking me how long this'll be running, and, well, it's running as long as people keep coming to the show. So if you're looking to come see it, now might just be your time - while I'm still nominated and Elaine Stritch hasn't won the award yet.

peace and love, Reno

Performances are Monday, Thursday, and Friday @ 8pm,
Saturday @ 7 and 10pm, and Sunday @ 7pm.

The Zipper Theatre
336 West 37th St. (between 8th and 9th Aves.)
Call 212-563-0480 for information

Would the world, after the experience of the Holocaust, step in to stop a new wave of anti-semitism and persecution of the jews?

Any answer to the question should require an examination of how effective world opinion has been in a defense against the more than fifty (to be historical, maybe we should say one hundred) years of humiliation and persecution visited on another victimized people, the non-jewish palestinians.

This appalling and continuing world neglect would actually be the best argument for the continued need for a strong and independent jewish state, except that it hasn't worked. Jews aren't safe in Israel, certainly no safer than in 1948 or anytime after, and jews are now imperiled all over the world in a way not seen since 1945, largely because of a general tendency to confound the attitude of jews everywhere with the specific policies of the Israeli government, a confusion dangerously encouraged by so many jews themselves.

The strong jewish state is ironically a threat to itself and to jews everywhere.

What is to be done to help the jews and the palestinians in the Middle East? The people who seem not to be able to live with each other but not to be able to live apart from each other can realize what they want and need, if those wants and needs are separated from their respective fanaticisms, by constructing a single large, inclusive state which would comprise all of 1948 Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, or something close to all that, and call it Palestine, the Unholy Land, Abrahamland or whatever. It must however be a state where all residents enjoy full and equal freedoms and citizenship under a single, truly secular government, one which is recognized and jealously protected by its neighbors, and by the entire world, precisely for the safety of those neighbors and that world.

After the horrors of the most recent weeks, if not months, and those too easily imagined for the near and even distant future, this is certainly no more unrealistic or preposterous a proposal than any now being advanced.

It is a proposal which should be on the table now, and it surely will be there as all others are successivly rejected or, if effected, seen to be as calamitous as the jerry-rigged unstable status quo which repels us all now.

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