Saturday, June 14, 2014
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Monday, November 09, 2009
I Miss the Berlin Wall
I miss the Berlin wall. I know that’s not a particularly PC thing to say and, if given the opportunity, I certainly wouldn’t advocate building it again – or building our own facsimile on our southern border for that matter – but I don’t know if I’ll ever choose to return to the now reunited city of Berlin.
I’m a military brat. I spent my childhood shuttling back and forth between Texas and Germany every two to three years. This may sound interesting but in reality it was pretty painful.
Imagine growing up, and every three years everyone dies. Not your family, but everyone else. Your teachers, friends, pets. Poof. Gone. Kinda like puppets that get put away never to be seen again. The sets may come out again, but not the puppets. You’ll never see that cast of characters again. That’s how I grew up.
I spent second, third and fourth grades in Berlin. That’s where I left some of my earliest memories. We lived within a mile of the wall - the border that surrounded West Berlin.
The entire experience of Berlin from an American child’s perspective was filled with contradiction and questions. As an army brat I was spoon-fed propaganda along with the rest of the troops. I call it propaganda because even if it was originally nuanced and complex information, by the time you boil it down so that an eight-year-old can understand it, you have propaganda. The people in the east were the bad guys. We, the Americans, were in Berlin to protect the good people from the bad people.
Only that didn’t really make sense, even to an eight-year-old. The Berlin wall had guard towers on the east and observation decks on the west. Western tourists could climb the wooden stairs up a story or two to look over the wall and see the “bad guys” in the east and their armed guards in towers looking back at us.
I remember one Easter going to the wall. It was a pretty crowded day and the decks were crammed with folks. There was a man wearing the reddest shirt I’ve ever seen. You could have picked him out of the crowd from miles away. And that was exactly his purpose. My father started chatting the red-shirted guy up and learned his story.
The man, like so many other Berliners, had been working in West Berlin on the night of August 13, 1961, the night the wall went up. He simply couldn’t get back to his family. Now, nine years later, he was there to see them on Easter.
East Berlin was the bleakest vision I had ever seen. It was probably its proximity to West Berlin, by comparison, that made it seem even more dismal. Now, in hindsight, I realize that it was the lack of advertising. There was simply no advertising, no billboards, neon signs, banners. Just cobblestones and monotonous architecture. And it was always empty. I don’t know what that’s about. I don’t know if it’s faulty memory or what, but I do remember how remarkable it was to even see a car drive by in the distance.
But on this Easter morning, as our red-shirted German neighbor peered through binoculars, two women came down the street toward us pushing baby carriages. They were far away and I could see that they stopped, picked the babies up and held them up in the air. The red-shirted guy stared through the binoculars at them. My father learned that the women were his wife and daughter and the babies were his grandchildren. He had never seen them any other way. They held the squirming children up in the air until the man saw something move in the distance and signaled them. The women put the children in the carriages and they were gone. A moment later an East German police car drove by.
And those were the bad guys?
I know that’s a simplification of so many hard facts, but even an eight-year-old knows when something is fishy.
At night, in my bed, in the brand-new government issued apartment building we lived in, I could hear mines exploding. We lived within earshot of the wall. When I got scared and asked who was dying, my parents would tell me not to worry. It was only a rabbit or deer, not a human. Yeah, don’t worry. It was probably only Bambi or Thumper. No one important.
And then there was the whole issue of recognition. The united states government didn’t “recognize” the East German government. Didn’t recognize East Berlin? Well, I did! It was right over there!
So I was getting a good healthy dose of authority questioning at an early age. We’re the good people and they are the bad? The bad people don’t choose where they live, can’t choose their job, can’t quit their job, don’t choose their doctors. The bad people looked more like the sad people to me – and in the military, the same went for us. Daddy couldn’t quit his job. We didn’t get to choose where we lived. I never saw the same doctor twice growing up.
Then, after I finished reading my first whole book, Charlotte’s Web, I moved onto the next natural choice for a girl growing up in Germany. I read the diary of Anne frank. It would start me on a young obsession with the holocaust, trying to understand the good people and the bad. Only, I was living in Berlin in the 60's. Even at the age of nine I could do the math. I remember going out to the German community looking at the shop owners and the business men and thinking, hey, that man’s about the age of my grandfather, that means he was here 20 years ago, that means he was here when it happened and he was a grownup even back then. What did he do? Did he know? Did he try to stop it?
Later, when I was in high school, we lived close to Munich and the death camp, Dachau. When people came to visit from the states we would take them there. It was our own perverted Disney trip. “The tourists are coming, have to go to Dachau.” Only it wasn’t as easy to find as Disneyland. There weren’t a lot of signs that said “Dachau death camp! Next exit!” And when daddy would stop to ask for directions it was amazing how many Germans didn’t know. “Dachau? You’re in Dachau. What do you mean, ‘death camp’ I don’t understand.” Again, I would do the math. That lady must have been here then... she doesn’t know?
One thing that I did get from growing up in a divided city is a divided perspective. And for me that led to compassion for my “enemies.” When you have a wall running down the middle of your perspective, you tend to look on both sides. You tend to question. If I lived in a town called puppykillers and folks drove in from around the world to ask where the puppykillers were, where the puppykiller memorial is, implying that I might be a puppykiller myself, I might also play dumb as a way to cope.
But then again, honestly, I don’t think I could. Because of my divided perspective, I have compassion for the good Germans, but I don’t know that I can join them.
Our own country has been looking vaguely reminiscent lately. My mother, a military wife and daughter, a gung ho Texan-American who prides herself on never voting a straight party ticket but instead, weighing each candidate before pulling a lever, told me, after the Abu Graihb photos came out that even she is reminded of the good Germans. And when the question of building a wall between Mexico and the US comes up, she says she can’t believe she might live on the side of a wall with the guard towers. Neither of us can understand why folks are going along with this crap.
And as a people, we’ve had our own wall running through our nation for years now, and it sometimes seems like it’s getting more and more concrete.
The Berlin wall taught me to try to understand the other. I’m not always successful but I try. I’m no longer in the minority when I question the wars we’re waging but I’m still looking for common ground. I don’t think that the folks on the other side are bad guys. I don’t think we’re the good guys. I think we all just want to wake up tomorrow and feel better about things. It must be really painful to be on the side of the issues where you have to deny truths for the sake of loyalty and patriotism. For the folks who believed in leaders, both in the government and media, who led our country into war, it has to be painful to realize that those leaders were liars, cheats and bullies. I am not going to say I told you so, because I didn’t really want to be right. I know what it’s like to be disillusioned by my country, it hurts like a mofo.
Part of my journey to question the war took me to a new home along the way. Back in 2005 and 2006 I joined Cindy Sheehan and thousands of others in Crawford, Texas to ask the last president to bring the troops home. I wasn’t sure what to expect after years of protest marches and lefty politics, but I sure didn’t expect to find so many military folks. There were active duty troops from Fort Hood. There were wives and mothers and fathers and sons of GIs. There were vets and brats from all over the world.
I had forgotten what it was like to be in the company of so many traditional people. People who understand what it meant to be in “the service.” Who are prepared to give up some basic American rights for a greater good. And our greater good in Crawford was to question the civilian authorities who were in command of the troops. It’s still our job to speak out for them because they gave up that right when they volunteered to serve us. We gathered in Texas in the service of the troops. And it felt like home.
But, once again, it was a home that I can’t go back to. A place and time inhabited so briefly by a community that will never be the same again. We may gather again but now the community, like the troops, has changed. We’re dispersed far and wide. We’re tired, we’re getting disillusioned, we want peace but we are so weary from fighting for it, and we can’t believe that we have to ask this president to bring our troops home too.
So though I’ll forever be able to go back and visit a parcel of land, the set, the place where so many of us discovered common ground, the cast of characters will never be the same.
I miss the Berlin wall because it surrounded my childhood home. As an army brat you can return to your old neighborhood but none of the people will be there, just the buildings. I get emotionally attached to architecture, and a huge piece of architecture, the iron curtain, both literal and figurative, is gone. I can’t go home again. All I can do is try to make this home better.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
"Better a rebel than a hypocrite" -- r.i.p. beverly sills
i clipped this out of some glamour or cosmo mag waaaay back sometime in the 80's and made about a zillion copies for my files (access to xerox machines was still a new thing then). i don't know much about beverly sills. i'm not even a big opera fan -- too loud! -- but i subscribe to her philosphy completely. i've come across this from time to time and wondered how influential it was in my formative years. you be the judge...
You Can Change Things
by Beverly Sills
Today we don't lack causes, but a great many of us do lack a passion for those causes. For about ten days, I watched on television starving babies in Ethiopia with bulging eyes and bloated stomachs. I phoned a few of my friends and said, "We've got to get some money together." We decided we had to make a stab at it. Around the same time, the United Nations approved overwhelmingly, by a vote of 125 to 5 a $70 million convention center -- to be built in Ethiopia. The result was a whisper of an outrage and then silence.
When President Reagan went to Bitburg, a German woman appeared on television in Europe and said, "Why do Americans always do what the Jews want?" The International Herald Tribune quoted a German dignitary who said, "Things are always fine until the Jews show up." After this brief interlude on television and a small mention in the newspapers, the incident was over; it's apparently not worth the trouble to worry about the dormant cancer of anti-Semitism awakening again -- or, for that matter, the horrors of apartheid, or even the bombed-out Bronx, Harlem, and Roxbury ghettos that scream out the tragic inequities here in our own country.
Perhaps our discouragement is understandable; after 750,000 people peacefully marched through Central Park on behalf of a nuclear freeze, we were told by a high government official, whom mercifully I will not name, that such demonstrations have very little effect or influence on the Administration. So let me get to the point of my message.
First of all, we must stop referring to the government as "they." They is us. This is not a monarchy. Those people in Washington are there by our good graces. If we like what they are doing, we should keep them there, and if we don't we should get them out. We should let them know that we are watching them and that we know who they are. Therefore, we must know the names of our senators, congressmen, state senators, and councilmen -- all of them.
You may feel that one voice, when a thousand are needed to make things change, is not enough. But you are wrong. One articulate voice can attract a thousand more. Be that voice. You may feel that one vote is pointless when thousands are needed to make things happen. Use it and influence others. Be informed and inform others. Be educated and educate others. We are consumers and we can boycott the product.
Don't be angry, but be passionate. It is terribly important that you care about someone or something. If you are one of those who prefers being a spectator, fine -- nobody knows better than I that audiences are indispensable to performers. But if you are one of those people who like to get into the center of the ring and fight the bull in every sense of the word I suggest you do it -- because you can change the world.
Labels: beverly sills
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
i know i haven't written in a long time. i will be back.
i am trying to finish a script right now and it is taking much of my writing energy. in the meantime i welcome to all of those who are coming to this site from the American Overseas Schools Historical Society to read my contribution to The Wall Stories
until i'm able to blog regularly again i absolutely urge all of you to read this blog: Inside Iraq there you will find real iraqis telling us what the liberal or conservative or mainstream (or whatever incriminating word you want to use to describe our) media can't or won't tell us. things like this:
Please pull out your troops quickly. dont fix anything. Dont implement any project and dont forget to take your democracy because we dont want the democracy of blood shedding. Just leave. JUST DO IT
We are happy that we got rid of Saddam but we will never be happy to give away our country in return... Sorry if our flesh harmed your knives... is that what they want us to say. Is this what they came for?
Oh by the way before the troops leave they better do it right.. give the government 4 months to announce themselves as a transitional government to arrange the troops withdrawal, announce a draft among the Iraqi people to recruit young men in the Iraqi army so it will be national army not sectarian... and postpone the constitution amendments till the troops leave so the people will convince its a legitimate constitution and few things more... PLEASE dont let Bush plan for this, please... he will screw it...
Sunday, May 06, 2007
will someone please find out how many of those officers mowing down civilians with their weapons blazing are returning Iraq vets?
i support our troops. i want them home and alive and healthy. and i want the killing/torture/abuse of innocents to stop, no matter where they were born or what color their skin. but i know from talking to cops at various protests that some of them have served and do serve in the guard and the reserve. the LAPD is proud of the way it treats its guardsmen and reservists. check this out: The Department of Defense honors the Los Angeles Police Departmentfor its support of employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve
and as lefty as i am, i have found it difficult in the past to say that we support the troops and then see folks at our demonstrations treat the cops poorly. they are both serving society in a way they see fit.
however, in light of recent polls that show that military members believe in torture --- a result, i believe is of being underprepared, underarmed and then trained by rumsfeld and now negroponte --- what can we expect?
we can expect our guard and our reserves to be broken. and our police forces. this criminal administration is breaking the very infrastructure of our country.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
guns! guns! guns!
Friday, April 06, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Debris that may have contained bits of bone from victims of the World Trade Center attacks was used to fill potholes and pave city roads, according to court papers filed on Friday.
The charge was made in an affidavit filed in Manhattan federal court in an ongoing case filed in 2005 by family members of those killed in the attacks against the city. They say the city did not do enough to search for remains, denying victims a proper burial.
Eric Beck, a construction worker employed at the Fresh Kills landfill in the borough of Staten Island, where the rubble was taken after the Twin Towers fell, said in his affidavit that the process of sifting through the debris was rushed.
Beck said he saw sanitation workers removing small pieces of debris containing possible bone fragments and loading them "onto tractors, and using it to pave roads and fill in potholes, dips and ruts."
The remains of about 40 percent of the victims were never recovered, and hundreds of bone fragments have been discovered in and around Ground Zero in the last six months, the lawsuit says.
2,976 died on 9/11. 3,236 have died in Iraq as of right now. (that's not counting the 650,000+ Iraqis)
"We have to honor the sacrifices of the fallen by completing the mission [so] the families of the fallen can be assured that they died for a noble cause." - George WWIII Bush
Soylent Green is People!
Friday, March 23, 2007
a couple of years ago i met a swell gal who wrote a sweet little play and found a nice little barn and a great gaggle of friends to play with. i was kinda new to town and couldn't think of a better thing to do.
and then i showed up at the first rehearsal.
it was then that i found out that the nice little barn she found came with a dickwad of a director who didn't know his ass from his elbow.
it didn't help that the director was fluffing some d-list, talent-free ex-childstar who was paying for some marvelous marketing and providing her own fabulous wardrobe (that stood out quite a bit from the rest of the charming and ragtag cast)
all of a sudden i could think of something better to do.
see, i had this hernia that the doctor said someday i might want to get looked at. it wasn't really a big deal, but you never know... and my insurance was running out in a couple of months...
and most of all, i believe when it comes to doing art for no money you either enjoy yourself or quit. you sure as hell don't stay and make everybody else miserable you fuck! which is actually a position i hold about lots of things in life which is why i'm so fucking depressed about this war and our country and where george wwIII has gotten us... but i digress...
check this out: (emphasis mine out of a sense of memory and identity)
WASHINGTON (AP) - Presidential spokesman Tony Snow is undergoing surgery Monday to remove a growth in his lower abdomen, a procedure he said was being done "out of an aggressive sense of caution because he had colon cancer two years ago.
He said Friday that tests since the growth was discovered have been negative, but that doctors decided to remove it to be sure.
"Please do not leap to conclusions about this because we don't know what this is," Snow told reporters. "We know it's coming out and I know I'll be back soon."
Snow had his colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer.
He said that a recent series of scans revealed the growth. Blood tests and further scans have not indicated a return of his cancer.
Snow joked about Monday's procedure, saying he would "come back here a little lighter" than before. He said he would be away from the White House for several weeks for recovery.
"Out of an aggressive sense of caution I'm going to go in for surgery," he said.
Deputy press secretary Dana Perino will assume Snow's duties in his absence.
The news came a day after Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, announced that her breast cancer has returned in an incurable, but treatable, form. Her husband's campaign will go forward.
"The biggest problem you have sometimes with cancer is flat-out fear," Snow said. "When you see an Elizabeth Edwards saying, `I'm going to embrace life and I'm going to move forward,' that is a wonderful thing."
...the problem with the desertion numbers arises when the service cannot find enough recruits to fill certain crucial specialties like medical experts and bomb defusers Mr. Stewart said, “In the context of their current recruiting problems for certain occupations, these desertion numbers are huge...”
Why I Haven't Been Blogging
it's not like i haven't been thinking about it, i have. but i'm afraid that if i write down my thoughts i might just spread my despair around and make the world even gloomier.
so i think i'm going to start a new blog shortcut. from now on, when i read something that just sends me deeper into thoughts of self immolation and/or resigned maniacal laughter i'll just post it with no comment as such. i truly am exhausted and saddened beyond expression at where our country has ended up. i want to be hopeful i just can't muster it yet.
and then there's the radio. yeah, i listen more than i should. but i spend a good portion of my day doing mindless work and keeping up with the world thru the radio makes the chores go faster. or used to.
lately, our local "progressive" station decided to go "mainstream" with a faux liberal named marc germain, or "mr. k." this guy brings up such pressing progressive topics as the phil spector trial and dismissing the pet food recall instead of local activism like harrison on the edge, the local talkhost he replaced.
the only encouraging thing to note about his show is that since i have KTLK programmed into my cellphone already i've been annoyed enough to call in a couple of times in the past week. man, it is no trouble to get right through. his screener, bill, is a nice guy. but there is absolutely no waiting.
i don't usually try to get on the air. i actually ask bill to pass on info -- like when i called twice last week and asked if KTLK was so proud of being "live and local" in drive time, why they weren't promoting the upcoming peace rally on the 17th instead of discussing the merits of green beer and spending an hour plugging a lawyer who prides himself on springing drunk drivers (really). bill said he would do his best and he agreed it was a good idea. i followed up with a detailed email to KTLK.
but mr K. never talked about the peace rally. wait. scratch that. he did talk about it on monday when he mocked it and all the participants... but i digress... i'll post some audio later and let y'all judge for yourself.
the reality is this. it's easy to get through to the asshole because nobody's calling in. i sent him an email today and told him (and the station and the sales manager at the station) that they should change their slogan to "3-7pm: a great time to listen to npr" or kpfk for that matter... i think it's about time for some donations without a pledge drive. and it's also time to call ktlk's advertisers and tell them they might want to sponsor one of those public stations...
it's just too depressing to have to deal with this shit anymore...
Update: i don't get many hits these days, since i've been in hibernation. but the few i do are searching for "Mr. K and KTLK" (ego surf much marc?) just in case you still want to defend the loser, here's a pic of the big ass. Mr. K loves Bill O'Reilly.
Labels: Mr.K KTLK hypocrite
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Harrison on the Edge
so ktlk has done it again. they've fired harrison of "harrison on the edge" and replaced him with the former "mr. kabc." the whole line up is screwed. they've moved rachel maddow to 10pm(!) and killed off the young turks. the only thing worse they could have done is give johnny wendall a spot!
let ktlk know that we need harrison back at email@example.com AND here. he is the only local activist host. he's the ONLY host on AAR who does any decent cross promoting and he is a gracious, all around decent human being.
and if you've never listened to harrison, check out the clip below. it's radio so there ain't no pictures, but it's a great example of how harrison works with his listeners and the community to promote activism. the interview is about the hows and whys of going to camp casey and the info is still pertainent. in fact, you are invited to join folks there for easter. won't you please come to camp casey? no one else can take your place.
harrison on the edge interview part one
harrison on the edge interview part two
Monday, February 26, 2007
jesse says it's all right
Friday, February 23, 2007
JOIN US TODAY!
according to congressman waxman's staff (and they are cooooool), the congressman is "moving in the direction" of defunding the war...
please, come and join us today. we need to let him know how serious we are. and we need him to know that as thankful as we are for all his lefty good deeds, nothing is as important as ending this war NOW.
and, we need him to know that if any of the chickenhawks come after him for not supporting the troops, we'll have his back.
check out what happened today at STOP FUNDING BUSH'S WAR and get all the info you need to JOIN US TODAY!
would this work?
way back when, in the olden times, before the big war, there was actually a plan for peace. it was a plan called "PREEMPTIVE DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ : AN ALTERNATIVE TO PREEMPTIVE WAR" the plan reminded us that the much desired regime change in iraq could not be facilitated by the UN since the UN does not have a mandate for democracy over other forms of government. however, if the citizens of iraq were to gather from in and outside of their country in the kurdish territories under the protection of the no-fly zone and convene a constitutional congress, they could declare themselves the new, sovereign united states of iraq and then, if needed, request help from the UN to protect themselves from and/or defeat saddam.
but bush wanted war and here we are.
lately, i've been ruminating on that plan.
couldn't the new, haphazardly formed sovereign government of iraq still request help from the UN? only this time they would ask for help in removing the occupying force that is us.
i know it's not much of a consolation -- over the idea of preemptive peace and all -- but it just might get our troops the hell out of there and start war crimes hearings on bush and cheney at the same time. not to mention, abort the coming war with iran...
just a thought. but i'm just an artist. i only have creativity and imagination. certainly, our leaders must have more vision that me...
Thursday, February 15, 2007
copy cat or coincidence?
so yesterdee was not only valentime's day for the rest of ye, but it was the 7th anniversary of my nuptials to dutchman and the 13th anniversary of our first date and the first time we did the hokey pokey in mexico.
dutchman, it's been a 'swonderful ride. truly. lately, i've been constantly musing on what a catch you are. and though we didn't need much of a relationship summit this year (goodness, there isn't time with the production meetings, the political actions, the research and development and then there's all the cats...!) i did finally get the gift i've been pining for for the past decade at least..
for anybody who's passin' by, our regular gift-giving mo is this: if d tries to get me anything i'll know because i do all the banking and i'll see it in the transactions. i'm also really tight with the funds. we don't spend money frivolously but instead save for the production tools and political actions, etc.... so if he even dared to try to buy me a blood diamond or some expensive something that would send some cheap something i already have into the landfills i would scream bloody murder! plus, we have so much. we have each other.
so, usually the thing i get for my birthdee or christmas is this -- i get to complain that i didn't get anything! yeah, it's a paradox. i like that. it's fun. and it's tricky and he just grins and bears it and shows me how much he loves me...
but the one thing that i don't' have and have never had and have neeeeeeeded and asked for forever is...
yep. i neeeeed a gavel. why? so when there's an argument i can finish it! so when there's a case that's open, i can close it!
case closed! gavel, gavel! (is that the onomatopoetry a gavel would make if a gavel made onomatopoetry?)
and on the same day that dutchman was scouring the web for my cherished love gift, it seems our very own democratic valentine was launching her own blog, The Gavel. do you think it was one of those hundredth monkey things or is it just time for women to wield hammers of justice once and for all?
i say all of the above.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
i'm proud the dixie chicks are from texas