Sunday, August 29, 2004

Obscure anniversary

It is has been one year.

I spent part of today in the Guggenheim Museum. They have two exhibits at present. The first is a Constantin Brancusi exhibit. I like the idea of his sculptures – to simplify objects into their purest essence. He sculpts an egg out of marble or stone, and the next sculpture is that of a reclined head, parallel to the ground. The facial features disappear into the stone, and soon it appears that the head is the egg, or vice-versa. His method invokes purity in the forms around us. It moves to a higher state of being – in showing the similarities and essential forms in what we see. Today when I was looking at this exhibit, I thought I stumbled upon the essence of life – the fact that all we are and all we conceive of is actually just a manifestation of some higher, more purer form of which we are a part. The shapes of ourselves are similar to that which we see in nature and others, and momentarily, it made me feel closer to the world around me and the people who inhabit it. Our forms are so similar, and that is what makes the art so powerful.
And just when I was convinced of the value of that type of purity in art, that all of the truth concerning existence was boiled down into those simple marble sculptures, I then looked at the other exhibit, a photography exhibit called “Speaking with Hands.” I was amazed at the different messages that different hands could convey. The story told by the hands varied based on the hands themselves – the different contours, lines, colors. It was in those nuances, those different cracks and crevices, that the truth was revealed about each individual person. It was an ironic juxtaposition of exhibits – one drawing on the unity of forms, the other drawing upon the uniqueness of individual forms. And both seemed true representations of life to me in each moment.
I have been troubled the rest of the day – how two opposing views of the world both could seem so true. I like the Brancusi exhibit because I like the idea that the truest nature of form is unifying – because we are all similar beings, with similar features that reflect the true essence of life. And I like the idea of each of us having unique features that reveal our own story as well, that no two people are the same. Can we have truth in both things?
I can only explain the synthesis of the two ideas by a photograph I saw at the exhibit. I was caught looking at one photograph of a cotton picker in Alabama, from the thirties, taken by Dorthea Lange. I looked at his hands, and saw the hands of my grandmother, recently deceased. I thought of the stories she told me about picking cotton as a child. She worked out in the fields from an early age with her brothers and sisters, helping her widowed mother make ends-meet, in the landscape of Southern rural Mississippi. The same lines I saw in my grandmother’s hands I saw depicted in the hands of this nameless cotton-picker. In that picture, I saw the synthesis between unity and uniqueness. His hands may tell different a unique version of the story, but their forms bound me to him, because I felt like his story was my grandmother's, and was also mine.
It rehabilitates my belief that we can have unity and uniqueness – that both are true and lasting. I needed that today, because the voices of dissent that surround me at present seem to be lacking unity and cohesion, and therefore have left me alienated in some sense. I have wanted to feel a part of things, a part of some vision of a better, more cohesive humankind. Rather, I have seen tactics that only divide and perpetuate the use of violence. It leaves me unsure of what political action I should take on behalf of what I believe is good and right. But I have to believe there is some path that can synthesize the political chaos I feel.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Search and Seizure

I saw Garden State again last night. Yesterday was a crappy day at work, spent dealing with a no-nothing detective who thinks that the Constitution is an "optional" institution. It is annoying to deal with a detective just that idiotic, because it makes me lose the positive view of police that I had slowly cultivated from so many positive interactions with NYPD officers and detectives. We were referred too many remand cases that came in yesterday when I was on intake, which means that the day I was going to call in sick next week now will be spent conducting probable cause hearings for kids that should be paroled home were it not that their attitudes were so terrible and that their parents cannot provide any measure of supervision.
I think that my love of Garden State has alot to do with a well-ordered soundtrack that uses the exact right songs at the exact right moments. I mean, who wouldn't fall in love with the person that introduces one to The Shins, especially the song "New Slang"? That movie makes me sappy and emotional for reasons far too personal and embarassing to confess, but last night it also left me feeling like dancing my way up 2nd Avenue to go home. I think more New Yorkers should spontaneously break out into Grand Jetes and pique turns on their way home in the evening.
The Republicans are invading New York this weekend, calling upon my liberal sensitivities to join in the protests. I have been thinking more about going to these Buddhist lectures about political consciousness, because I don't want my form of protest, or the protest that I participate in to become another manifestation of violence. There is so much to be angry about politically right now, and yet I don't think acting upon anger alone produces anything good. I am just afraid I am going to go to the protests this weekend and become disillusioned by all of the sound-bites and expressions of resentment, without anything substantial to back them up. I get annoyed by ignorance and needless name-calling on all sides.
"When we meet on a cloud, I'll be laughing out loud, I'll be laughing with everyone I meet. Can't believe how strange it is to be anything at all."

Thursday, August 26, 2004

green matters

I said I wasn't shopping anymore but I lied. This weekend I spent too much money at Anthropologie, because I have this unnamed disorder that give me an intense love for fall fabrics and colors even though it is still summer. It is eighty degrees outside and I just want to drape myself in wool and cashmere and wear stockings with boots. It is a huge problem because I need to be saving money, not fettering it away on my fall wardrobe.
My blog has lacked flashy political content as of late, or any content at all. They issue that I have been most concerned with lately is whether or not there was going to be a protest in Central Park during the RNC. At first I wanted the protest to be there, but after enjoying a fabulous picnic on the Great Lawn on Sunday, my view changed. It is the only place in all of New York City where you can feel truly comfortable in taking your shoes off, and that grass is so divine, the thought of it being damaged or destroyed nearly made me cry. There are so few green things around in the city - I am just emotionally attached to the green things that there are. And part of me thinks destroying living plants is just what George Bush would want us to do as protestors. It would maybe vindicate his destruction of our nation's natural places with his gas and oil leases (I read an article yesterday about how the BLM under his administration is opening up vast public lands for private drilling leases which burns me up), by pointing out liberals too are destructive of scenic places. I just can't in good conscience have the destruction of grass on my wrap sheet. Besides, the weekend after the convention is over, what if I want to take off my shoes and play some frisbee? Where else would I go?

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

My friend Neil is in NYC on his honeymoon with his new wife, Sherisa. Today they said they would come to Bronx Family Court and watch one of my trials. That has to be one of the most depressing activities that any newlywed couple can participate in. This place forces me to be here and on most days I want my eardrums to burst, just so I will be free of listening to one societal failing after another. I don't know who to blame for the stories that I hear anymore. It only seems like they are all the product of apathy of some party or another. Some days I want to blame a child's parents, the next day I feel ready to pounce on every yuppie in Manhattan who only comes to the Bronx to catch an ocassional Yankee game from their corporate box seats.
Now that I think about it again - maybe every newlywed couple should be forced to come to the Bronx Family Court. I doubt people like Neil and Sherisa will ever need court involvement to settle anything amuck in their family. I spent my entire childhood and never once had to see the inside of a courtroom - except when I participated in the Mock Trial competition in high school. But even for families who do not run the risk of Family Court involvement, maybe they should be required to see the inside of the Family Court so that they can be grateful for what they have, and learn that they should care about others who don't have their same resources.

Monday, August 16, 2004

on the olympics

So as much as I have tried to avoid the empty nationalistic pride that comes with it, I have caught Olympic fever. Having spent a large portion of my childhood and adolesence as a spectator at swim meets, I find myself still obssessed with worldwide swimming rivalries. Perhaps now my knowledge of world record holders and times has faded, but I still have certain allegiances that transplant me back to when swimming seemed to matter. Watching Gary Hall, Jr. takes me back to that summer after graduation, dancing in front of the TV with my little sister and cheering for him. It is really an ironic attachment - that cocksure attitude he possesses is the same attitude that revolts me in the day to day interaction I have with many males. And yet for Gary Hall, I excuse it as charisma and charm. Maybe it is because of the gold medals. I am a loyal fan. Don't get me wrong, I think Michael Phelps is a great swimmer - incredibly talented and well rounded, but part of my felt the sting of Gary Hall not being chosen for the 400 meter relay instead of him. So then part of me felt vindicated when the US only won the bronze in that event (although Michael Phelps time was not the slowest).
See, that it the attitude that comes over me when I watch the Olympics that troubles me. I hate those stupid rivalries and that competitive feeling. I sat around the pool for too many days quite sure my heart would stop if Sarah didn't get a particular time or beat a certain girl. I don't know why I live out these competitive notions I have through the performance of other people. Perhaps it could be because I suck in all sports.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Dis Con

I am disgusted with Dick Cheney. He has been critical of Kerry all week because Kerry said that he would fight a "more sensitive" war on terror. So basically, Dick Cheney, in political terms, has called Kerry a pansy, stating that the US has never won anything by waging a more sensitive war. Of course warmongers everywhere agree with Cheney's point - it's Sherman's march to the sea out there - "War is Hell" so it is better to rape and pillage because those are the only tactics that work. I liked Kerry's point - we have to be more sensitive to the world before taking military action. We have to be aware that, for example, in military conflict in our age, the victims of bombing and bloodshed are for more likely to be civilian non-combatants than the supposed terrorist fiends against whom we are fighting. We have to be aware of the limitations of military conflict - that bombs don't change people's minds, it only makes them more resolved to beat us to the punch. Our tactics in the world so far have not worked, being less sensitive has only caused us to lose respect, even from our allies, and to allign terrorists against us. Being more sensitive in the war on terrorism enables us to see that there are more layers and more nuances to our enemies and their grievances against us.
I am at work. We just had several complaining witnesses in our office. They were all about 18, and they bothered me alot - because they made some of the most absurdly homophobic statements I have heard in a long time. These are not Bible-thumping conservatives either. They are kids in the Bronx who have had alot more action than I have ever known or will ever know. I am greatly disturbed by this, because kids in the inner-city are some of the most homophobic people on the planet. I have seen too many assaults targeted at other children because of their sexual orientation. And my officemate almost made it worse by offerring to read a list of Governor McGreevy jokes that was just sent around our office email. Luckily I stopped him. The last thing we need is to give kids in the Bronx more homophobic ammunition. Of course, these are also kids who haven't learned about respecting women yet either - they had naked pictures of women saved on their cell phones.
Tonight I am going to eat dinner at Mesa Grill, which should be good and relaxing. Bobby Flay will keep me from more opinionated outbursts.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

On Zanzibar

So I realize I have yet to post anything about Zanzibar, which makes it kind of odd that my blog would be titled I wish I was in Zanzibar because... I haven't seen Zanzibar since the summer of 1998, where I danced on the white sanded shores of Matamwe Beach and spoke Swahili to the villagers in Kizimkazi Dimbani, or haggled for bargains in the markets of Stonetown. When I was there last, being an American didn't matter all that much, except for the fact that sometimes people looked to me for a little extra cash. I was there when the embassy in Dar es Salaam was bombed, a short 60 mile distance from Zanzibar, and never once did I feel threatened or uncomfortable in 99% Islamic Zanzibar. Of course my experience was before America decided that we needed to kick the world's ass. U.S. foreign policy in 1998 was not ideal, we harbored our imperialistic tendencies, and Clinton's Africa policy left something to be desired (Rwanda! Rwanda! Rwanda!), but we weren't in this blatant state of us against the world that we are in now. I wonder if things would be different in Zanzibar now, or if it would still be the idyllic paradise that I still envision in my mind.
Mostly I wish I was in Zanzibar because days in the family court leave me feeling so pasty and blah, and when I was in Zanzibar my skin had a healthy glow and I felt very youthful and a part of the world. It is strange that a city like New York can leave me feeling isolated while a small island left me feeling so a part of some larger community. It was easy to be affected by people there.
Tropical Storm Bonnie is spanking the Florida panhandle today as a punishment for their warm reception for President Bush earlier in the week. I don't think that Mom or Melissa even got the day off from teaching school today, though.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I can't fall asleep

So I just want to state...I am bored in New York. Does that make me the lamest person alive because I am bored in the world's most exciting city?

In better news - my boredom has made me addicted to the new album by Rogue Wave. The first song, Every Moment, I am obsessed with. It is rare when a line about Mormons makes it into Indie Rock. I have to decipher that line!! Why can't I find the lyrics online?

.. .. .. Posted by Hello

The Sunshine State

So two hurricanes are about to hit Florida. This weekend, when the rain from the remnants of the two hurricanes has made their way up the East Coast, then I have decided to go see Garden State again. Hearing the song "New Slang" in that context again, is worth a hundred rainy days.
I am outraged! A judge at the family court today kicked a boy out of the courtroom because he was wearing an earring and the judge said, "boys don't wear earrings." I don't know who died and made her fashion police.
This week is going by so slowly, it is killing me.

my daily rant

I am troubled today about a couple of things. Today I read in the New York Times about the protests that firefighters and police officers are staging around town against the mayor. These protests center around the fact that the mayor's new budget proposal only includes 5% pay raises for them, spread over three years. This is the exact same raise negotiated for other city employees, but for police officers and firefighters, they think that it isn't fair that the raise is the same as for other city employees. Rather, they assume, that because their jobs are dangerous and high profile, they should get higher raises than other city employees. Lucky for them, since September 11, everyone loves New York City firefighters and police officers. They have the high profile visibility to make a scene. The thing is, I support labor unions. I think they should have the right to protest for better wages and benefits. What I don't support is greed. What I don't support is people assuming their city service is more superior than the next person. The truth is, police officers and firefighters already get paid for their overtime quite generously. I, as a so called "city manager" do not. I get no overtime no matter how late I stay, no matter how early I come in. I do not have a union to speak for me, I just have to accept whatever raises the city is going to offer me. In contrast, what the police officers and firefighers have doesn't seem so bad. They come into court on their Regular Days Off, getting overtime, and sitting around for six hours for their cases to be called. I wish my Family Court experience was so relaxing. I do think that police officers and firefighters offer a unique public good. However, so do city sanitation workers, so do teachers, so do city attorneys even.
Here is my second troubling issue for the day - the social experiment called Reality TV. I probably shouldn't admit this, but I watched the FOX series, "Trading Spouses" last night. I know that was a considerable waste of time, and I am sure that I could have found something more productive to do, but I just got home from the gym, collapsed on my couch, and wanted not to think for awhile (because I thought that I would just miss talking to David if I thought about anything too much). On the show, a well-off, blonde, California mother of two spoiled children switched places with a working class, overweight, Massachussetts mother. I wanted to hate Mrs. California, see her as a characteristic example of the Orange County, California Consumer class. Certainly she was materialistic. Certainly she was superficial. Yet the Massachussetts family loved her. They loved her "positive" attitude. They loved her diatribes on not eating sugar cereal. Meanwhile, the Massachussetts mother in California received a less heralded welcome. The California friends and family hated her. Certainly she was sarcastic. Certainly she was bossy. But the explanation I offer has less to do with personality and more to do with appearance. Perhaps the overweight mother was less well received because she was overweight. Perhaps her appearance alone made her self-conscious enough affect her bossiness in trying to fit in with an obviously sleeker (and I have to say tackier) Orange County. And when you are an overweight kid in Massachussetts, of course you are going to love having a skinnier, prettier mommy. It is a humiliating commentary on our civilization - because appearance is still all that matters.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


So I need to correct myself in regards to my post yesterday - Mark Hacking actually shot his wife in the head while she slept (according to prosecutors that is). He didn't slit her throat. What a relief.

I was meant for the stage

Yesterday, when I was walking home from work I was asked to be interviewed for a PBS documentary about voter attitudes towards Bush. For so long, I have thought of so many insightful comments concerning the Bush administration, and when my time for the spotlight comes, I just look like a big dope. I hate how it is always possible to sound articulate until someone else is listening. Now I am just going to look like a flaky, ill-informed liberal.
Mom told me that when Sarah is coming to New York for Labor Day, she is staying at a hotel instead of with me. I guess practically my apartment is rather small, but I can't help but think that there are other reasons she doesn't want to stay with me.
Bill Clinton was on the Daily Show last night. I am still mad at him because of Rwanda, but why does he always have to be so articulate? I am jealous of him that he comes across as a friend to the little guy when his economic policies were mostly taken from a conservative Republican playbook. He is so lucky to be so charming.

Monday, August 09, 2004

As if I didn't already know...

Socialist - You believe the free market can be
beneficial, but that a large and powerful state
is necessary to redistribute the wealth of the
top classes to those of the bottom. You also
think that basic utilities and trasportation
should be publicly owned. Your historical role
model is Eugene Debs.

Which political sterotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Of course I am a socialist. Would anyone ever think differently?

P.S. - I have to find something more productive to do when the Bronx Family Court is slow than to take internet quizes that give me answers I already know.

If I were a state

I approve of and even endorse this quiz because it gave me these results:

You're Washington!

Though you were named after some ancient and revered relative, you've
taken off on your own course and are making a new name for yourself. Water dominates
your life, surrounding you on many sides and usually from above. Though you say you
love rain, it's really that you've forgotten that there are other types of weather to
hold an opinion on. You have an amazingly eclectic interest in walls, spokes, yaks,
seats, and even the Olympics. It'll all come out in the wash.

Take the State Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

My first blog. I abandoned Live Journal because the quality of my postings left something to be desired. Too much information - not a good thing.

Leave things in generalities - that is what I have learned. It is silly to miss someone when they are generally absent from your day to day life. But Alaska is even more absent. It is one time zone further away than Seattle.

I have a disturbing obsession with the Mark Hacking case. Maybe because I fear being in love with someone and going to sleep one night and then not waking up again because that person that you love cuts your throat. It is perhaps a little far-fetched, but who can you trust?

I have to start regularly attending the New York Sports Club, even though it is a distressing place full of young stockbrokers and executive assistants who have to make themselves look acceptable for martini hour.

Is it more or less distressing than Coney Island, where I spent Saturday night? The Bumper Cars at AstroLand are set up against an airbrushed backdrop of the Statue of Liberty, a NASCAR, a football player, Captain America, and scantily clad busty women. Aahh America (It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw).