Happy: July 2002 Archives

I came across this amazing site yesterday, but I doubt that we will have much call for the products it offers.

No matter what critter is eating up your garden or invading your yard, we have the proven, all-natural solution: 100% Predator Urines!
Even though both deer and coyotes have been found in Manhattan in recent years, I really doubt that either will be likely to get into our little roof garden, and the neighbors would in any event certainly not be happy with such a defense system.

Our tree arrives wednesday, and I feel like an expectant father! I'm sure what follows then will be like a new career. I've been without a garden since leaving the little 1760 house in Providence. While New York certainly has its compensations elsewise, if it's not generally imcomparable, I've still missed the garden in Rhode Island, perhaps most of all.

Well, it would be pretty cool if now I could reproduce at least one of the four working fireplaces I had on Transit Street, but that really would be quite a project, what with four apartments stacked above us here, and even then we wouldn't know where to store two cords of wood!

Ok, what's this one spunky cicada doing outside our windows on 23rd Street at one o'clock in the morning? We're astonished we can hear him well above the ambient sounds of all kind of traffic late on a saturday night, but we can't imagine what he's doing there in the first place. I mean, even though the block may be an interesting location for certain male bipeds to hang out socially on a hot night, what's this little guy expect to find?

Yo papi!

With the elimination of the phrase, "under God," from the Pledge of Allegiance, and the brand recognition that went with it, does the country risk losing its marketing powers?

The U.S. Justice Department, assigned the difficult task of finding a replacement, said it has already been in contact with several entities ("One nation, but 24,000 Starbucks") interested in having their brands associated with America. Until an agreement is reached, however, the U.S. will advertise the position by replacing the phrase "One nation, under God," with "One nation, (sponsorship opportunities available)."


Europeans, meanwhile, seemed to be confused by the entire episode. "I don't understand. I always thought it was 'One nation, we are God,'" said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "Oh my, I've been worshipping them for nothing."

(at least for a few million years) Researchers have announced the discovery of an entirely new genus and species in the Ramble in Central Park.

"We didn't know what was out there," Ms. Johnson said. "We wanted to see who's out there in the spring, who's out there in the fall and the summer."
[sounds like so many guys I know, and they're all naturalists themselves in their own special way] Actually the new genus is a centipede, certainly a disappoinment to most readers, but oddly exciting for those who read further.
"I was astonished," Dr. Hoffman said. The odds against it surviving in a densely populated city — and, in particular, the constant trampling of millions of Central Park visitors — were astronomical, he said.


"Nobody in Manhattan is native. Exotics have displaced native North American species, just like we did the Indians."


Ms. Johnson said the discovery of Nannarrup hoffmani gives new reason to appreciate the virtues of natural mess in parks.

"If they rake all the leaves, remove all the fallen twigs and branches, new species — and the regular guys — will not survive," she said. "The whole system will cease to function. We need to appreciate unmanicured nature."

Could we just as easily be talking about people after all?

Pete Hamill's account of saturday's town meeting (see the log below) ends with a New York story worthy of standing alone.

Then came news of the Con Ed power failure. My subway lines were closed, and I jumped into a taxi. The driver said he was from Peshawar. He didn't want to talk about Pakistan. His shrug told me the heat and traffic were bad enough.

Below 14th St., every traffic light was dead. And then at Seventh Ave. and Bleecker St., standing in the middle of the avenue, I saw the first citizen directing traffic. A white dude with gray beard and baseball cap. "Stop right there, man," he ordered one pickup truck, and the truck stopped. At Houston St., a thin black man in his 40s was doing the same, using hand signals as if he'd worked at this job all his life. The traffic moved, and not a cop or politician was in sight.

Then at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, a packed steel-glass-and-rubber line of westbound cars refused anyone a chance to pass toward downtown.

"Goddamn Jersey drivers," the man from Peshawar said.

We the people, baby.

[I admit that I missed it because I had assumed it was just window dressing, a set-up, designed by the money and power people. At best, I believed that the crowds would mean it would be an exercise in frustration, and I hate being part of the forced passivity of political audiences. Wrong here. Pete Hamill shows us how wrong.]

...5,000 men and women, including people from the suburbs, New Jersey and Connecticut, were broken down into groups of 10, seated at tables equipped with a computer.


Their opinions - essentially votes - would be fed all day to a central computer base. Called to assembly by the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York, there were representatives among them of every race, religion or ethnic group.


From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., they were presented with basic issues about the rebuilding of those 16 gutted acres in lower Manhattan. At each table, they debated in a sober, thoughtful, civil way. They voted, offered comments, and moved on to the next item on the agenda.

We have a word for what they were doing.

The word is democracy.

And because the process was an exercise in democracy, not demagoguery, no bellowing idiots grabbed microphones to perform for the TV cameras.

All around the vast room, you heard citizens saying politely to others, "What do you think?" And then listening - actually listening - to the replies. In this room, "I" had given way to "we." Yes, the assembly was boring to look at, too serious, too grave, too well-mannered for standard TV presentation. And it was absolutely thrilling.

At this forum, no uniformed killers in sunglasses stood along the perimeter of the room, ordering votes with a nod of the head. No religious frauds directed votes as if they were demanded by God, or justified by some vague line in an ancient book. There were no party votes, or even party lines. These were Americans having their say about the future.


Later, wandering into the hot afternoon, this visitor was exhilarated. Our modern Committees of Correspondence were sending their messages. Only fools or knaves would ignore them.

Kate Mayne, a wonderful friend of ours, although not an American, lived here for a couple of years prior to moving to Antwerp a few years ago. She wrote a response to my posting, "wanna make it in New York?"

I really enjoyed the piece about moving to New York. It graphically brought back many memories for me. I think the actual struggle to live in the city is quite insignificant considering the return one gets from the experience. Living in the city has made me a far more rounded and aware person; life for me in Europe and the States, well, the world, has taken on a more profound aspect, having experienced life on both sides of the water. I am sympathetic to and aware of the differences.

I frequently take the train between Brussels, Antwerp, the Netherlands. Somehow I always manage to pick out the New Yorkers (and I consider myself to be partly one of them), or we pick each other out of the crowd and have a great chat (the trombonist from Rome who spent a year at Julliard, the singer songwriter from Brooklyn who wouldn't take off his shades, the elderly dealer of african art and playwright from Manhattan telling me what really counts in life for him). Maybe New York is like a positive trait that you catch when you spend time there: the swirling, myriad possibilities that confront you wherever you look, that way of seeing, affecting your vision wherever you go. The hutzpah which took me so long to learn. The knowledge of the promise that you can have great lows but many great highs; it has something to do with optimism.

And wanting to keep your eyes always open, like Kate.

In the category of, "there will always be an England," or, "is the Times running fiction in the obituary section now?

"Setting off down the Thames in a bright red boat on Sept. 2, 1979, from the east London borough of Greenwich, the expedition sought to circle the world, but not by an east-west route. Instead, Mr. Burton and his colleagues followed the imaginary meridian line that connects the Royal Observatory in Greenwich — from which longitude and Greenwich Mean Time are calculated — to the North and South Poles.

The expedition was led by an old Etonian baronet, Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykenham-Fiennes, and besides Mr. Burton comprised Sir Ranulph's wife, Ginnie, the family terrier, Bothy, and a former beer salesman, Oliver Shepard. The expedition's patron, the Prince of Wales, described its members as "refreshingly mad" as he bid them farewell.

They actually did what they set out to do, returning three years later to a welcome by Charles. I'm hoping the terrier made it all the way as well, although the paper neglects to tell us.

My own belief is that there is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.

W. Somerset Maugham

[Thanks to Louise]

A savy and amusing navigation of the perils in store here for those who just can't take it elsewhere any longer, and it's not just for gypsies.

I can't help quoting from Kirk Wood Bromley's recent play about The American Revolution:

Admiral Howe- Tell me, Major Andre, of yon Manhattan,
Where I expect to sleep tomorrow night.
Major Andre- You will, sir, I'm afraid, get no sleep there.
Cornwallis- For yon Manhattan is the noisiest,
Filthiest, sleaziest, sauciest mess
Of anti-civilized, counter-cultural,
Money-grubbing yahoos ever festered
Unflusht in the devil's antique outhouse.
Madness and mayhem, sir, that is Manhattan.

Some things never change. See, Manhattan does respect tradition!
I know dozens of people who leapt at New York City, but couldn't get a toe-hold, and so fell back to where they came from. Thinking over these experiences, I've concluded that the three tricks to successfully living in New York are to find:

1. An apartment you can tolerate,
2. A job you like,
3. A community you love.

Focus first on these things, not on getting an acting job right away. There's no sense getting cast in a play if you don't have an apartment and a job. You'll be distracted and may even be forced to drop out of the show (a real career killing move, by the way) if you find you can't make it in the city.

This article comes from the wonderful Inverse Theater Company http://www.inversetheater.com

This from a blog (belonging to a beautiful woman who writes as Bazima) which I clearly visit with not enough regularity:

Friday, July 12, 2002

An Important Message from My Gay Boyfriend

I noticed that my two "straight" male friends now also refer to each other as *girl*. On the cab ride downtown: "Girl. Is this crazy cabbie gonna take 5th Avenue all the way down?" Answer: "Girl. I don't know."

Just where do we go from here?

"I also understand how tender the free enterprise system can be."—White House press conference, Washington, D.C., July 9, 2002

[from The Complete Bushisms]

It's been ten months since September 11, but in the U.S. political humor is still not safe. In Israel however, in a society far more deeply threatened by the terrors originating both from its own government and from others, it is still possible to laugh at the hardships and even tweak the most sacred of cows---gallows humor and satire in prime time television during a real war!

Limor [the name of character of one of the co-stars of the show, "Only in Israel," originally] embodied what Israelis call a "frecha," a bimbo. Much of the show poked fun at her marriage to a cabdriver in the blue-collar town of Holon.


The mild tone suited the political climate. When "Only in Israel" ended its third season two summers ago, Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister at the time, was headed to Camp David, presumably to complete a peace agreement with Yasir Arafat.

After going on hiatus in the 2000-2001 television season, "Only In Israel" returned to the air in November in a far different Israel. By now, viewers learned, Limor had divorced the cabbie, moved to Ramat Aviv, the nouveau-riche suburb of Tel Aviv, and started a love affair with Anthony Zinni, President Bush's special envoy to the Middle East.

The show appears each friday night, almost regardless of what tragedies might have made the news in the few hours between taping late in the afternoon and broadcast at nine in the evening. In the event of really horrific news, the episode will include a lead-in informing viewers that "the program was taped before the last terrible events happened."

Unfortunately we can't match such hutspah here.

I don't know how it happened, but I swear that I didn't know who Martha Stewart was until just about four years ago. Never heard of her.

Now, of course none of us can get away from her and the news blitz her latest adventures inspire, whether it's the new society, financial, media, editorial or, perhaps especially exciting, gay angle. It seems however that the spunky family which now lives in the Nutley, New Jersey, house in which she grew up has the hardest time of all. Still, they do appear to be having some fun with it.

"When we bought the house, the gardens were absolutely gorgeous," said Angela Cheney. "I killed everything."

"There were irises. I killed them," she said, grinning. "The rose bushes, I killed them when we put a deck in. The wisteria tree, I've tried to kill that. It brings a lot of bees."

"I'm no Martha Stewart."


Kooks have been sneaking into Cheney's backyard since Stewart put the address in her magazine. Some fanatics swipe figs from a tree. Others dig up dirt. One guy even ate the soil.

"They must think it's more fertile than normal dirt," said Cheney's daughter Nicole, 21. "It's tough keeping up with Martha Stewart."

This page is an archive of entries in the Happy category from July 2002.

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