Miz Shoes

Bite Me, I’m Irish

So, why does everybody get so freaking stupid over St. Patrick's Day?

It's not like we all need another excuse to drink. Christ, I never need an excuse, I just need a bottle. And, maybe, a glass. Maybe not.

I mean, really. Cubans who, all year long, vie to out-Cubanisimo each other, show up on March 17 wearing green and "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" buttons.

People who don't know the difference between single malt and chocolate malt wear shamrocks and call out for over-cooked cabbage.

Where were these people earlier this week when it was Purim? Nobody offered me a cookie. Nobody wore costumes to work. Nobody got shit-faced drunk in public, even though that is a tradition of Purim, just as much as it is of St. Paddy's day.

Me? I just grouse and complain and quote Christopher Moltisanti: "Hell is an Irish bar where it's always St. Patrick's Day."*

*With apologies to RJ and MJ, who make wonderful Irish food, and throw great St. Patrick's Day parties, and I'd gladly go to another one. But then, RJ refuses to dye food green, and that, as we all know, is a Very Good Thing.
Miz Shoes

How Many Times?

How many times must we review the rules, people?

Here's a clue: If, even though I have my i-pod at full volume, I can hear every single word of your inane conversation, you are definitely talking too loud. Christ, woman, the nut case who was talking to himself on the other side of me got up and moved because you annoyed him!

Two bodies cannot occupy the same physical space simultaneously. This means, in real life, that you cannot shove your fat ass onto the train while someone is trying to exit through the same door. Let me put it in images you might relate to:
When Larry, Moe and Curly all try to get through the door at the same time, what happens? Right. Moe slaps the shit out of the other two until they move and he can get through the door. Do you want me to get all Moe on your ass, and slap you?

Teenage boys: Nobody, and I mean NOBODY wants to see your skanky underwear hanging out over the tops of your too-big, baggy shorts. (Which, by the way, make you look like you are wearing a skirt. Do you even realize that?) If you have to keep them on by holding your dick all day, well, what's the freaking point. You aren't going to listen to me. You don't listen to each other.

Another thing I'd like to say to teenage boys, particularly the gaggle of them on this morning's train: talking about "raping" your friend's 12-year-old sister is not amusing to me or any of the other adults in the train. I bet the twelve year old sister wouldn't be entertained by this, either. Nor would any of your mothers. Assuming you still have mothers who give a shit about you. Judging by the way you look and act in public, I'd have to guess no.

Next time, I'm going to pants you, and damn the consequences.
Miz Shoes

My Analysis of the SOTU Message

Blahblahblahblah TERROR blahblahblahblah TERROR blahblahblahblah 9-11 blahblahblah TERROR blahblahblahblah COMPASSION blahblahblahblahblah TERROR blahblahblahblah RESISTANCE IS FUTILE blahblahblahblah YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED blahblahblahblah TERROR blahblahblahblah AGREE WITH ME OR DIE blahblahblahblahblah TERROR
Miz Shoes

Brother Can You Spare a Dime

Or, maybe, should I drop a dime on my brother?

I try so hard in this blog not to talk about my real life, my personal life, except in the most broad strokes. I don't use real names, for the most part. I have a personal journal, kept in ink, kept for myself, and I've journaled for more than 30 years.

So this exercise is more for the joy of writing, and of being read, than for soul searching and deep thoughts.

It's just that at this particular time in my life, things are such that I have very little to say to amuse you, my imaginary readers. I am consumed with
a problem involving my brother, Biggus Dickus, his wife, Incontinentia Buttocks, the family estate, and questions of control of money, honesty, theft, and general skullduggery.

These are the BIG questions, are they not? More so, I think, than the other big questions, you know, life, the universe and everything?

I am not the sort of person who goes to court. I do not desire to see my name in the papers. I have no burning lust for fame (well, maybe a little smouldering lust). As jaundiced as I am, as jaded about the human condition, I want to believe that my own brother isn't screwing me over something as meaningless as money. And yet. All signs point to that very thing.

My mother's silver has gone missing from the family home. Biggus Dickus and his wife were very la-di-dah about that. As of course, they would be, since it was left to me. Or will be left, or would have been left, since Mummy isn't exactly dead, yet.

Last week I had to pay a bill that Biggus Dickus was refusing to pay, related to Mummy's care...from the hurricanes of 2004. He refused to pay, he refused to talk to the lawyer representing the agency that was seeking payment, he refused to listen to me when I told him to just pay the damned bill, he refused to listen to logic, or my psychoanalysis of his behavior. (Biggus Dickus may be a therapist, and by his accounts, a good one, but I spent 10 years on the couch and came away a better person and one with an understanding of pyschology.) I paid it out of my own, limited means.

He's never acknowledged that I pulled our family name and reputation out of a fire of his own making. I am dragging my feet about calling him out on this. I do not want/need this kind of drama, but I am being forced down an unpleasant path.

Or I can bend over and take a royal ass reaming by my own brother and pretend that it isn't happening, never happened, couldn't happen between us.


I can let out my inner bitch, she who is held in such tight control so that I can live among men. I can, I say, let her out, and go to court and have Biggus Dickus removed as my co-trustee for cause, thereby causing an irreparable rift between me and my only brother. As you can see, this is quite a dilemma, since we love each other so much and so well.

And you want to know why I'm not blogging much these days. Mmmph.
Miz Shoes

Another Day, Another Rant

Yesterday, or maybe the day before, the Miami Herald ran a big ass story about "The December Dillema". That dillema, apparently, is what to do about Christmas and Chanukkah in mixed families. I'm not going to touch that issue with your ten foot pole, but I am going to address their solution.

First of all, matzoh is not associated with Channukah in any way, shape or form. Second of all, it doesn't look like a happy Bavarian cottage, it looks like a freakin' graveyard. Third of all, what the fuck is wrong with just being Jewish, and having Jewish traditions, like Channukah gelt, and spinning the stupid dreidle, and lighting the menorah? And eating fried food? Huh? What is so wrong with that, that we have to coopt the traditions of another religion that coopted their traditions from the pagans who went before (i.e.: the Christmas tree)?

I accept that in mixed faith families, there may be some issues, but, hey. A tree is for Christmas, and not for Channukah. There is NO SUCH FUCKING THING as a Channukah bush, OK? Calling it that makes it no less a Christmas tree. And a Christmas tree, no matter how much my girlfriends try to convince me otherwise, is a symbol of Christmas and of Christ's birth, and not just a house-sized air freshener.

And you know what? I'm OK with that. I respect that. I honor that. I may feel like a stranger in a strange land this time of year, with most of my neighbors decorating the outside of their homes with lights, and the non-stop Christmas music in public places, and the never-ending barrage of all things Christmas, but. But I am a minority. Not in the minority, as in, most people enjoy this and I do not, but A minority. I am a Jew, and this season is not about me or my beliefs, it is a holiday, no matter how secularized it has become, of major significance to Christians. I may even go so far as to say that my recognition of Christmas is more religious than most of my Christian friends. As an outsider, it is easier for me to focus on the meaning of the holiday than of its commercialism.

The RLA grew up in a Jewish ghetto, and has no appreciation for Christmas. He is even, dare I say, a teensy bit offended when invited to share the holiday with our Christian friends. I, on the other hand, having grown up as the only Jew in a one-Jew town, understand that this is an offer of love. Christians, by and large, feel as though their Jewish friends are missing out on something special by not "having Christmas", and so throughout my childhood and into adulthood, I have been invited to tree-trimming parties, to Christmas dinners, and Christmas morning breakfasts. (As an aside, there is nothing I love better than a slice of fried ham with red-eye gravy on Christmas morning, made from the left overs of the Christmas Eve ham. Oh, I am such a bad Jew.)

What the RLA doesn't see is the love that those invitations hold. It is a manifestation of peace on earth, goodwill to men. It isn't a subtle, or not-so-subtle attempt to convert us. It is an acceptance of who we are, and an offer to share with us, what is so special to them. And that, my friends, is true love.

But I digress. I was bitching about a Matzohbread house. That, dear readers, is a cop out. That is not embracing the differences and the "true meaning" of either holiday. That is a piece of shit and not to be tolerated by Christian or Jew. I don't want my Christian friends making potato latkes and calling it hay in the manger cakes, or lighting a menorah and saying that it represents the Christ child, the three Magi, Joseph and Mary and however many goats, horses and sheep are required to make up the number 8.

I want Christians to be Christians, and Jews to be Jews, and Muslims to be Muslims, and Hindis to be Hindis. I am all for a belief in something bigger than us in the universe, but I don't think that a mishmash of pantheism is good for anybody.

Separate, but equal. Share the holiday, but don't force it. I'll invite you to my house for potato latkes and applesauce and chocolate gelt, if you'll make me a slice of fried ham with red-eye gravy. I'll teach you the dreidle song, and you can skip the Twelve Days of Christmas because I already know it. I'm happy to wish you a Merry Christmas, and not a generic Happy Holiday, because it isn't a threat to who I am or what I believe to acknowledge and honor your beliefs.

And, that, in the end, is what this season is all about. Merry Christmas. Happy Channukah. Blessed Kwanzaa. Whatever the hell you say about Tet.
Miz Shoes

A Person Can Only Take So Much

This is it. I've had it. I'm mad as hell, and you know the rest.

First this, and then this.
I loved Daniel Franco . I want a Daniel Franco suit. I would wear his designs in a NY minute. That asshat Santino is an asshat. A petty, drama queen, talented, ruthless, batshit insane egotistical asshat. But let me tell you how I really feel about her.

As for Niner? Well, the Florida Marlins can just take their balls and move wherever the hell they want. I wash my hands of them. Back to the Metsies for me, girls.


Oh, and a Bush joke, because, well, because they are so easy and they make me so happy.

Ralph Nader, Al Gore and George W. Bush go to a fitness spa for some fun.

After a stimulating, healthy lunch, all three decide to visit the men's room. There they find a strange-looking gent sitting at the entrance who says, "Welcome to the gentlemen's room. Be sure to check out our newest feature: a mirror that, if you look into it and say something truthful, you will be rewarded with your wish. But, be warned, for if you say something false, you will be sucked into the mirror to live in a void of nothingness for all eternity!"

The men quickly enter, and upon finding the mirror, Ralph Nader steps up and says, "I think I'm the most truthful of us three" and he suddenly finds the keys to a brand new Bentley in his hands.

Al Gore steps up and says "I think I'm the most ambitious of us three" and in an instant he was surrounded by a pile of money to fund his next Presidential Campaign.

Excited over the possibility of having a wish come true, George W. Bush looks into the mirror and says, "I think...", and is promptly sucked into the mirror.
Miz Shoes

Grammar Is Important

I've been saving this story for a while. The other day, the RLA and I were coming home around dusk, and we pulled up to our gate, put the car in park, and the RLA got out to unlock the gate. It's not that we're Luddites, but we rely on a lot of old-fashioned technology: manual can openers, a gate troll instead of an electric gate, a chain-link fence to keep the dogs in the yard instead of zapping them with electroshock... like that. So, the RLA gets out to unlock the gate, and as he does, a big-ass SUV (a Cadillac, I think) driven by a guy with a blue light in his ear goes whizzing past at a much-too-rapid-for -a-one-lane-road clip... almost clipping the side mirror off our car.
Well, it's a small neighborhood, and we know everybody in it, and what they drive, so we knew that this guy was probably lost. And he was, evidenced by his hitting the end of the street, making a u-turn and coming back up the one-lane road, still at a clip, and still almost removing my side mirror.

Well, the RLA lost it, and yelled at the driver that he was a jerk, and that we live here, and he doesn't and we're unlocking our gate, and he can just wait a second, because the RLA is NOT moving the car.

The Cadillac SUV screeched to a halt. The middle-aged driver threw it in reverse and stopped next to us. He reached under his seat (I'm thinking... oh, fucking great. A gun. Now we're in for it.) but only to roll down the window.

He proceded to yell at the RLA and called HIM a jerk and a few other names before coming to the crescendo of his response:

"You," he shouted at us, "are like a spaz!"

Well, that just set us back on our heels. Was blue light man saying that the RLA is a spaz, or was he saying that the RLA is merely spaz-like?

We debated this for several minutes, with me offering the opinion that maybe the word like was just an interjection, as in; "it's, like, you know", even though there was no audible comma or pause. We also opined that the driver was like a Borg, in that he had a piece of electronics embedded in his ear and it was lit up with a blue light. We never did get a definitive answer from the SUV driver, because once we started parsing out his sentence, he seemed to loose interest in us entirely.

But this phrase has crept into our vocabulary, so that everything is now "like". It's like a bridge. You know, it's sort of bridge-like, in that it spans a body of water, but maybe it's not totally a bridge.

I'm like hungry. I could eat, but I'm not ravenous, so I'm hungryish. I'm close to hungry, but I'm not exactly hungry, so I'm only like hungry.

We have been entertaining ourselves and our friends with this for like a month. It may not be a real month, or a whole month. Maybe it has been longer than a month, in which case it is only like a month, not exactly a month, but sort of a month. Similar in time to an exact month and yet, not.

This entry is like done.
Miz Shoes

Will You NEVER Shut Up?

I had lunch with the RLA today. He met me after his class and we went to a nice little bistro in the courtyard of the tower across the way. We were unable to have any sort of conversation over our burgers, however, because behind me was a woman having lunch with her friend, and her conversation was conducted at such a pitch and such a volume that all else was drowned out.

I'm sure that her friend felt exactly the way I did, because there were little bits of twisted napkin shreds on her side of the table when they finally left.

The non-stop talking woman was on about her boyfriend Frank, Frank's ex-wife, Frank's kids and how they sleep in the same bed as him, even when he's at her house on the nights that he has custody of the two kids, how the kids are brats and it's all the fault of the ex-wife, how the ex-wife has a skanky boyfriend who smokes a) in front of the kids and b) in her -- the ex-wife's-- house. I heard all about it. I heard all about how unattractive the ex is, how much the speaker spent on her Christmas tree decorations, because it's her first Christmas (ever? alone? in her own space? she didn't elaborate) and she needed all the ornaments she bought. I heard about how the ex works at her parent's beauty shop. Or maybe it was body shop.

I heard way, way, way too much. And did I mention that she NEVER SHUT UP. Not for a sip of water, not for a breath, not to shovel food in her mouth, not to let her friend even murmmur uh-huh, or really? or oh, that's too bad.

In conclusion, I would just like to say, with all my heart and all my soul, and I feel certain that I speak for everyone within a twenty foot radius of you today at lunch:


Thank you. I'm done now.
Miz Shoes

Yeah, It’s a Cheap Shot

This is what a three-million dollar ad campaign looks like:


And you just know that the bright lights at the agency were just pissing themselves over their own cleverness: it's a sign that says it's a sign.
Oh. My. Gawd. We are so funny. A sign. That says it's a sign. Get it?

The other ones in the series say things like "You're in one of the few places we're not." Huh? You mean you don't have a clinic on the train? Well, but the train stops right at the hospital, so sometimes you are where the hospital is.

Or in the immortal words of Firesign Theater, how can you be in two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?

Another one says "Get a better health plan by the next stop." and then has the web address. So I guess that works if you are a commuter with a wireless bluetooth connection on your cell phone. Or something like that.

It's a sign. It's a sign that's a sign.
Miz Shoes

Please Explain This to Me

OK, I mean, I get that this is supposed to represent the family that owns the car. There is a pencil-necked dad, and a vacuous mom, and a teen-age girl with a spiral on her t-shirt (representing that she's spiralling out of control, maybe? That she has an IUD? That she suffers from vertigo?), there's the roller-skating tween of indeterminate gender and rubber-armed boy who loves baseball.

My question is "WHY?"

Really. Why the fuck would you want to advertize that you have underage children available for abduction in the car, and even give strangers a chance to know what sort of bait to use? Who's business is it, anyway, how many people are in your family? Why should I give a rat's ass about the fact that you overbred?

And these things are everywhere... although I've never seen them for sale anywhere.

You can specify your recreational choices. You can add your pets: I've seen dogs, cats, fish and birds. There are toddler stickers and baby stickers. I've yet to see a pregnant woman sticker, or a car with two women and a child. Lots of single parents out there, advertising that they can be met at any Little League park, ballet school or hockey rink.

The RLA and I want to produce add-ons, so that we can vandalize these things, which almost always sseem to be associated with Jesus fish or W bumper stickers. Maybe that's the secret: they are handed out at tent revivals and Republican party meetings.

Yeah... stick-on piles of dog poop, S&M paraphenalia, dreadlocks, jail house bars, beer bottles and bongs. You could accessorize strangers' car windows to your heart's content.
Miz Shoes

Again With the Nanosecond People

This morning, someone making an illegal turn attempted to cut in front of me to access the Metrorail parking tower. And boy howdee was she pissed that I wouldn't let her in to my turn lane. She gesticulated wildly with the hand not holding either the steering wheel or her early morning cigarette and made rude faces at me as she slammed on her brakes to avoid plowing into my side.
Since there was no one behind me in that lane, she was able to get where she wanted to be a nanosecond or two later than she prefered. This meant that she got to enjoy dogging me as I went around and around the spiral ramp...in second gear. I actually had to drop it into first on the first ramp, because people were stopping at the top.

That made nanosecond bitch go crazy, for sure, and she was up in my tailpipe for the next six rounds. She actually honked at me! To go faster. Up a spiral ramp. For what? When I finally found a parking spot (and I had to pass by at least a dozen because she was so close that I couldn't brake for them) the bitch roared past me and honked again, gesturing with the middle finger.

I responded in kind, along with a shout out to her: You are an idiot!

It was that kind of day, all day.

The printer was possessed. The boss had a millionty-two things for me to scan into Word. The purchasing tsar had a favor to ask (and you always say yes to purchasing). My mac couldn't get connected to the web. The Other Boss (and you better believe that I'm thinking up a name for her) was on my case about our "non-working" fax machine.

Except it works fine. The problem is, as the techies are wont to say, between the device and the chair. But she won't hear of that, and so I've had to call in a tech support call on a perfectly fine fax so that I can tell her that it's her problem. Maybe if she didn't jam 20 pages into the machine and walk away, it would work.... or if she fanned her pages first. Or whatever.

But I am just a secretary, and it isn't for me to tell a director that she doesn't know how to operate a fax. So I just call tech support.

And then I work. And work. And work. And then I come home and cook dinner. And drink. And pass out.

And in the imortal words of Jackson Browne, do it again, amen.

On another note, my mummy is playing best three out of five with death. She's back in her nursing home, and doing well. If by "well" you mean eating and breathing. But, hey! that's an improvement over her condition in the hospital.

I am reminded of the scene in "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" where they are playing Twister and Battleship with death, and beating him. It's a lovely send-up of Bergman's chess match. Or the badminton match in The Dove, which was itself a send-up of Bergman.

Whatever. I've had enough tonight. I'm off to watch Marty's Bob documentary.
Miz Shoes

The Queen Bitch Speaks

Today, I am home, sitting out another series of orange radar blobs as yet another hurricane passes through my end of town. It's ok. It's Mother Nature exhaling the poison from her lungs. The poison being suburban sprawl and humans, and the lungs being the wetlands.

And since everyone knows that Mother Nature is a bitch, I'm letting out my own inner, and too-long-supressed, bitch to tell off a couple of the younger members of my tribe. I don't know if Surrogate Daughter #1 still reads my blog, but if she doesn't want her pride and our relationship permanently scorched, she won't read this entry.
To my Surrogate Daughter #1: I figured out today why I've been wanting to bitch-slap some sense into you for the past year or so. You have become exactly what you scorn: a patronizing and annoyingly self-aware bop poseur rich snot. Your writing, in which you have such pride, if your Live Journal is any indication, is merely jejeune and pretentious. You cannot commit to anything: not your supposed and adopted poverty, not your family wealth, not your vocation, nor even your various facial and body piercings. You sport an impressive sports injury scar, but it came from doing a black diamond run on your first day of your annual Aspen ski trip. If you haven't seen the e-mail joke about the subject, you cannot sing the blues in Aspen.

You tell your mother that being in debt is "liberating". For you, perhaps, because for the past 21 years, you have never had to face the consequences of your actions. You have been lifted over every puddle, had every bill paid.

I told you when you went off to college that school is a four-year experiment in discovery of self. What have you discovered other than that you are a head and an incipient lush? Have you discovered any inner passion? Strength of will? Potential? No. You've discovered cheap beer and dope. Kind of like discovering America, sweetiedarling: there were already plenty of people there. I can't believe you turned into your father.

So just fucking grow up. Pick a persona. Try to pick one a little more original than a beat poet or post-modern, new-wave slacker.

I love you, your other mother.

To my nephew: I cannot believe that you would be such an ass as to ask me, by e-fucking-mail, for an interest-free loan from your grandfather's estate so that you can buy an engagement ring for cheap and end the note with a PS about football without even, in passing, ask how your grandmother might be doing after a week in the hospital.

Maybe your father, my brother, Biggus Dickus, neglected to mention to you that the woman who practically raised you, who gave you everything your greedy-grabby little heart ever desired, has been declining rapidly this past week. How would he know, anyway, since he hasn't been to see her, and has announced that he has no intention of it, either? But either way, the woman is in a nursing home, and a casual "Oh, how's Amma doin'?" wouldn't be amiss.

But no. All you want is the fucking money. I remember all the times you promised your Amma that you'd take care of her when she and Gruffy got old. Gruffy let you out of the bargain, by dying quickly. Your grandmother, however, has been in this home here in Miami since last December. You haven't come to see her once, although you've been in Florida visiting your father. You haven't called me to ask about her. You felt free to take more "souvenirs" from her home, though; her antiques are more than enough to remember her by, I suppose.

I can't believe you. You have turned into your father, and he is a defective throw back to some recessive eddy in our gene pool.

Love, your doting little auntie.
Miz Shoes

I Don’t Like Mondays

Unlike Lake Wobegon, where every week is a quiet week, it's been a bitch of a week here at the Casa De Zapatos. It started on Monday morning, when I got a call from the home where my mother lives. She'd collapsed in the shower and they wanted me to take her to a doctor.
So I did. Not without some effort however, since I take the train to work and on Mondays and Wednesdays the RLA rides in with me, because this semester he's teaching at the mothership: Wolfson Campus. That means he also takes the car home from the train, about five hours before I leave work. It also means that I don't have the car keys, and thus had no way of getting from the train to the house.

Thanks and a shout out to TADTS (the artist down the street) who gave me a lift from point A to point B.

With my mother's health insurance cards in hand, I jumped into the PT Cruiser and tore down to her group home, picked up her and an aide, then back north to the doctor's office, where upon hearing the details of her "collapse" decided it was more of a seizure and sent me off to the hospital.

I could have taken her to the place I used to work. I could have. I could have eaten a lot of crow and listened to a lot of two-faced platitudes and gotten her put on a VIP list. I could have. But fuck that hell hole, I did not. Instead I took her to the very clean and nice opposition hospital nearer to my house.

It has a much less busy emergency room, and so I was only there for six hours before we finally got into an exam room. Only by then it was shift change so we sat in the exam room (to be acurate, I sat and she lay in a bed, plucking at her blood pressure cuff and her blood oxygen finger thingy) for another hour or so until she had another seizure and I pounded the nurse call button (astutely figuring out that turning red, going rigid and shrieking like a banshee were not normal condititions) until the cavalry came and threw me out of the room. This second seizure had the added benefit of expediting her admittance.

The result of her CT scan showed that she has a "suspicious area" in her brain. Ya think? The woman has end stage Alzheimer's. I should fucking think there's some funky looking spots in there. She isn't really responsive, they tell me. Hmmm? Less so than before or more? Can we tell? She has a lot of bruises. Yeah, that'd be right, seeing as how she's 87 years old and spent 80 of those years in the Florida sun before anybody figured out that that was a pretty bad idea, skin-wise. She's more delicate than onion skin paper and if you look at her harshly, she bruises. The doctors wanted to do more neuro testing, but I said no. Look, if she has a brain tumor, what are we going to do? Operate? I don't think so. Let's just make her comfortable, OK, guys? OK.

That was my Monday. The rest of the week was occupied by the pressing rush of getting together the swag and documenting materials for an executive retreat, the process of which was hampered by the fact that the executives in question kept changing their documents right up until the moment we sealed the cardboard boxes on Friday around 11 am. Every binder was stuffed at least twice, and sometimes more.

Today is the special dog Jojo's first birthday. By Purina standards, that means she's not a puppy any more. But Jojo is special, like round nosed scissors and blunt forks kind of special, and I suspect she'll be a puppy for much longer.

Remember in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the character that Michael Caine develops for Steve Martin to play when they are scamming the rich old ladies? The less-than-gently bewildered younger brother, Ruprecht? That's my Jojo. She's just... special. And fwench. I'm going to give her a birthday treat of doggie ice cream, carrot and cheddar cheese flavor.

My mom? She's going back to her group home Monday. Thanks for asking. That's more than my brother, Biggus Dickus, did.
Well, sweetiedarlings, now we know where Dumbya (the M is silent) gets his gift of compassion and silver-tongued glibness: his mama.

And we quote:

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality," she said during a radio interview with the American Public Media program "Marketplace.""And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."
Yas, yas. When you're "underpriviledged anyway" sleeping on a cot in the Astrodome with ten thousand of your nearest and dearest, is truly a step up.

As for why it's "scary" that these people want to stay in Texas? Well, your guess is a good as mine, but here's my guess: They are Black and they vote Democratic. And they're poor.

My boss sent this next item to me (another reason why I love my new job, besides the coffee/espresso machine in the break room and the view from the 18th floor):

Broadcast Editorial
The “City” of Louisiana
Keith Olbermann
MSNBC’s Countdown
September 5, 2005
8:58 p.m. ET

SECAUCUS — Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: "Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater..."

Well there's your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government's response to a crisis, this was it.

The seeming definition of our time and our leaders had been their insistence on slashing federal budgets for projects that might’ve saved New Orleans. The seeming characterization of our government that it was on vacation when the city was lost, and could barely tear itself away from commemorating V.J. Day and watching Monty Python's Flying Circus, to at least pretend to get back to work. The seeming identification of these hapless bureaucrats: their pathetic use of the future tense in terms of relief they could’ve brought last Monday and Tuesday — like the President, whose statements have looked like they’re being transmitted to us by some kind of four-day tape-delay.

But no. The incompetence and the ludicrous prioritization will forever be symbolized by one gaffe by of the head of what is ironically called “The Department of Homeland Security”: “Louisiana is a city…”

Politician after politician — Republican and Democrat alike — has paraded before us, unwilling or unable to shut off the "I-Me" switch in their heads, condescendingly telling us about how moved they were or how devastated they were — congenitally incapable of telling the difference between the destruction of a city and the opening of a supermarket.

And as that sorry recital of self-absorption dragged on, I have resisted editorial comment. The focus needed to be on the efforts to save the stranded — even the internet's meager powers were correctly devoted to telling the stories of the twin disasters, natural... and government-made.

But now, at least, it is has stopped getting exponentially worse in Mississippi and Alabama and New Orleans and Louisiana (the state, not the city). And, having given our leaders what we know now is the week or so they need to get their act together, that period of editorial silence I mentioned, should come to an end.

No one is suggesting that mayors or governors in the afflicted areas, nor the federal government, should be able to stop hurricanes. Lord knows, no one is suggesting that we should ever prioritize levee improvement for a below-sea-level city, ahead of $454 million worth of trophy bridges for the politicians of Alaska.

But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the "chatter" from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.

Mr. Bush has now twice insisted that, "we are not satisfied," with the response to the manifold tragedies along the Gulf Coast. I wonder which "we" he thinks he's speaking for on this point. Perhaps it's the administration, although we still don't know where some of them are. Anybody seen the Vice President lately? The man whose message this time last year was, 'I'll Protect You, The Other Guy Will Let You Die'?

I don't know which 'we' Mr. Bush meant.

For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been — as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be — whether or not I voted for this President — he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to '08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government — our government — "New Orleans."

For him, it is a shame — in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there, and he might not have looked so much like a 21st Century Marie Antoinette. All that was needed was just a quick "I'm not satisfied with my government's response." Instead of hiding behind phrases like "no one could have foreseen," had he only remembered Winston Churchill's quote from the 1930's. "The responsibility," of government, Churchill told the British Parliament "for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate. It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence."

In forgetting that, the current administration did not merely damage itself — it damaged our confidence in our ability to rely on whoever is in the White House.

As we emphasized to you here all last week, the realities of the region are such that New Orleans is going to be largely uninhabitable for a lot longer than anybody is yet willing to recognize. Lord knows when the last body will be found, or the last artifact of the levee break, dug up. Could be next March. Could be 2100. By then, in the muck and toxic mire of New Orleans, they may even find our government's credibility.

Somewhere, in the City of Louisiana.

Here's a wonderful essay, by Adam Nossiter, reprinted with attribution, but not permission:


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - You could live in a kind of dream-state in New Orleans, lulled into ignoring the crumbling houses you drove past, and their destitute inhabitants. In a city so beautifully green, so full of beguiling architecture, so appealingly laid-back, how easy it was.

I've been there for nearly 15 years now, all the while participating in one of the city's great unspoken rituals: locking out the world of the other New Orleanians, those who were poor and more often than not black.

From your car, they wore a kind of mask, engaging you sometimes with a gaze that might contain anger, if you slowed down. You'd shudder at it a little bit, feel residual guilt but above all, carry on with the dream. You'd turn your head away, and look forward to the next eccentrically-ornamented shotgun house or spreading live oak.

Even before the storm, you were dimly aware that to do otherwise - to awaken from the old New Orleans dream - would be to go half-mad.

Last week, all that changed.

The reality of what New Orleans actually is, was thrown up in our faces: We couldn't turn away now, we couldn't deny that those fellow residents we'd never really known or understood had become refugees, milling and dazed or angry.

Before Katrina, you understood, intellectually, that thousands of your fellow citizens were living precariously - you could cite the grim statistics, wonder about the solutions, hope that something, someday, might happen to change the numbers.

Those of us who lived there and wrote about New Orleans engaged in this exercise. Suddenly, stunningly last week, the arid abstractions became tangible for me. No "someday, something" thoughts or hopes intruded on the here-and-now suffering I witnessed.

How often does such a transformation occur?

Twice in the last decade and a half I've fled other, ostensibly more desirable places, to return to New Orleans. I would tell people that the city had its hooks in me, without going into the details of this devil's bargain.

Turn your head and look what you get in return: a rare American city whose neighborhoods are still scaled to the humane dimensions of the 19th century, banana and palm trees year-round, a place where the vine growing out of the wall, and the crack in the ceiling, might be considered ornamental rather than blemishing, the gentility of the inhabitants.

This extends even to the crooks: Walking up Poydras Street three days after the storm, I encountered a man busily hot-wiring a car amid the debris. He shouted an apology: "Sorry to be behavin' like this, man, but I got to get out of this state."

You also get a nourishing cultural tradition, entirely native to the city, that is often a defining element in the European urban fabric. True, you can walk into some of the fanciest houses Uptown and barely find a single book. But you also know that for 200 years now, men and women in New Orleans have turned their attentions away from commerce, and towards the goal of capturing life in this place, and life in general, in literature and music.

It was partly this tradition that drew me to settle in New Orleans. It seemed to me an ideal place to write a book, so quiet in the leafy neighborhoods during the day, so mysterious and promising at night. And so it proved to be.

Having spent my childhood in Europe, it was evident to me also that the singular fact of the city's birth under the corrupted Latin monarchies continued to reverberate, beneficially, into the present.

The French have a phrase for it: "douceur de vivre," pleasure in living. What other American city is oriented towards this kind of pleasure, where just a simple walk around the block can be restorative (if it doesn't turn out to be lethal)?

For a writer with limited means this is vital. I recall returning on weekends, during an exile in Manhattan a decade ago - coming back to the thick green warmth of New Orleans - and feeling as though I had been injected with the pleasantest tranquilizers.

Sometimes at night, under the dormer window of my house, built 170 years ago by an illustrious free black man who contributed sons to the Union war effort, I could hear gunshots. Best not to dwell on that, though. Don't fall into the paranoia and barely concealed racism of other whites in Uptown.
Over the years, riding the streetcar downtown took on a kind of fetishistic significance for me. I would have at least that minimal contact with my fellow citizens, even though some whites scorned this mode of transportation.

I lived in the Garden District but didn't traffic much with it. I could be detached, I thought. The neighborhood's pleasures could be enjoyed without acceding to the noxious attitudes of many of its denizens.

From that perspective, it was almost amusing, in a sour way, to hear the chatter at the downtown hotel where I rode out the storm and its aftermath along with a colleague, various tourists, and some fancy Uptowners. As the waters rose and the city seemed to be descending into anarchy, their fantasies of insurrection echoed those found in the literature on antebellum New Orleans.

In the plush dining room, dimly-lit by an emergency generator, there was loud, agitated talk of armed gangs marauding in Uptown, looting and pillaging in the elegant abandoned homes. And there was talk of the summary way this problem should be disposed of. I recalled the 1803 memoir of a French traveler in Louisiana, Charles-Cesar Robin, who was struck by the Creoles' obsession with security, with keeping the slaves in check. After the 1811 slave rebellion the heads of the leaders were placed on poles along the River Road.

The Uptowners have lost their world, along with everybody else, though it will be far easier for them to recoup. It was strange, making my way gingerly through the fallen trees to my own home, to find it almost unchanged, the children's toys exactly where they had left them, though you knew that that life had disappeared - whether forever, one can't say.

But listening to Uptowners' talk it was evident that, for them too, the enticements that normally exist to salve the New Orleans reality had been stripped away.

The Garden District was no longer shaded by trees but buried under them. Chunks were missing from downtown office buildings. Streets were eerily deserted.

The veneer was gone. What you were left with was that long line of misery, the other New Orleanians finally hoisting themselves from floodwaters onto buses to leave. The radical assault on their dignity in the preceding days in the unspeakable Superdome seemed to leave them as much amazed as angry.
America had failed them. Yet for those who asked, looking at the TV pictures, "How could this happen in America?" the answer has to be, New Orleans never was America, or at least not the America that equals the national aspiration.

It was hardly the only city that doesn't measure up to this standard. But in New Orleans, your average fellow-citizen was not going to have a healthy bank account, with all the accoutrements. In that respect, the tourists who come to the city with fantasies of exoticism, of otherness, and leave with these dreams more or less intact, get it more right than the band of well-off actually inhabiting the place, bathed in their illusions of normalcy.

Illusion died, as an American city imploded.

New Orleans is now in a kind of state of nature. I noticed, returning to my house mid-week, that all urban sounds had disappeared; only the birds could be heard, and buzzing insects.
An audio version of this story, as told by the author, is available to subscribers of both Custom News and Multimedia Features in the MP3 format in a folder called "katrina_nossiter"

We also have this story in the Salt Lake Tribune", about fire-fighters who volunteered to go to Louisiana to help, and discovered that by "help" FEMA wanted them to hand out fliers, not fight fires. And when the fire-fighters objected, they had their patriotism questioned by the FEMA czars. (Of course. That's the Bush policy, isn't it? Disagree with us and you are a bad American.)
Miz Shoes

Who Taught This Guy English?

Here's another quote from the AP... this is from the head of Homeland Security.

"Earlier in the day, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had declined to estimate the death toll, but conceded that an untold number of people could have perished in swamped homes and temporary shelters where many went for days without food or water.

"I think we need to prepare the country for what's coming," Chertoff said. "What's going to happen when we de-water and remove the water from New Orleans is we're going to uncover people who died, maybe hiding in houses, got caught by the flood, people whose remains are going to be found in the streets. ... It is going to be about as ugly of a scene as I think you can imagine.""
DE-WATER??? De-water? Oh, fuck me. What's wrong with the word "drain"? Is it too much of a reminder that the city is sunk?

My friendgirlfriend tells me that's the word (as well as "un-water") that's all the buzz on CNN.

Drain. If you empty the water from a basin, you are draining it. They didn't de-water the swamp to build on it, they drained it. (And we all see how well that works.)

And don't even get me started on the new reports that are focusing on all the dying, starving animals.

There isn't enough Prozac and alcohol in the world to numb my senses enough to listen to the news.

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