Category Archives: democracy

The Gilded Age with Hangers

Can I eat this? Will I survive eating this?

Rihanna in her pregnant glory, aglitter. Hillary Rodham Clinton in a toned-down red satin gown with famous women embroidered along the hem. Say their names: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sojourner Truth, Harriett Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt. Blake Lively makes a satiny ascent, waterfalls of silk trailing behind her.

And the men! My favorite was the one who looked like a pirate — tall black boots, a string holding up his pants. I can’t think of his name. The young man with lavender hair and ruffled collar was yummy too — setting off discussions about male manicures.

At the very moment Glenn Close exploded onto the red carpet in day-glo pink, someone in the hallowed halls of justice leaked a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

Can I eat dissonance? Will I survive this? Will our daughters?

Repeat after me: a Christo-fascist state. Learn to say it. We now have a court that isn’t even political, it’s fucking religious.

Instead of calling right-wing stunts “performative nonsense,” how about calling them acts of terrorism? Wiping out two districts of Black voters in Florida, letting billions of dollars of food rot at the border just to make his opponent look bad, creating criminal penalties for doctors performing abortions.

I want to go back to an era when watching guests at the Met Gala is an exercise in petty judgment. Who looks fabulous, who looks ridiculous, where do we find the best cleavage and the ritziest jewels?

There wasn’t time for anyone to design a gown out of wire hangers. There wasn’t time for women to attach bloody ribbons to their lace.

If justice exists in the sky, can we coach her to come lower, to re-establish domains in Appalachia, in Houston, Miami, and the Ozarks? The fact that they surrounded the pillared halls of justice with fencing this morning tells you something.

But maybe we should skip the pink hats this time and work the phones instead. Waltham, the next town over, is sponsoring a protest tonight and I feel tired just thinking about it. I’ve been to two there already — one in support of releasing the Mueller Report and I can’t remember the other.

She can’t remember all the protests she went to under trump’s reign.

Can our hunger for justice outweigh every roadblock? Can it blow like Hurricane Andrew, taking out entire neighborhoods of anti-women strategies and policies, moods and feelings? I hope maintaining majorities in the House and Senate isn’t too much to ask for.

I turned twenty in Dublin. At the time, contraception was illegal there, abortion was outlawed, of course, and homophobia institutionalized. How Catholic, I thought. How medieval. Never in a million years did I think the day would come when Ireland was more progressive than America.

And what about the now-fully-ensconced Justices’ lies before Congress — and yes, that’s Justices’ with an “s apostrophe” because three of them lied to get their seats. Oh yes, Roe is established precedent. Oh yes, we follow precedent.

Riz Ahmed — that’s the actor’s name. One booted foot on the step above, crotch to the camera — pure, natural swagger. Unlike that other pirate, bloated and lacking his eyeliner. I can’t even absorb the story about the latter, but it infiltrates everywhere. The formerly gorgeous Johnny Depp looking like a bad batch of muffins in a suit. That dumb pony tail.

We all get old, but did we have to witness a time when our daughters have fewer rights than we did? I was in high school in 1973, on the verge of so much bed-hopping — maniacal about birth control as I was careless about everything else. I was spared the need for a procedure, but almost everyone I knew in college — or let’s say 2/3’s of everyone I knew — had a pregnancy terminated. Safely. Not without trauma, mind, but none of what was difficult arose from infection or fear of dying.

The Gilded Age was the Met Gala’s theme this year. The idea of robber barons is particularly hard to take at this moment in history. Five white American men possess more wealth than the bottom 60%. Or is it 80%? I don’t know — ask Robert Reich. Whatever it is, it’s obscene.

But we want our celebrities. Sparkling stilettos and borrowed diamonds on bodies lovely and distant, unattainable and yet, due to the nature of film, also somehow ours. Belonging to us.

Is God punishing us? If so, for what crime? What sin?

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PS I cannot figure out how to turn off comments for a single post so let’s just act as though I have? The topic has already taken enough out of me for now.

Echoes of Good Friday

Look at the tweet below. Someone said it should be a painting. With that in mind, I doctored it a few ways.

First photo below is the original, the next two, are filtered using Prisma. In the third photo, I double exposed it with one I took on Good Friday in Assisi in 2019.

I am very moved by the picture, and of course — I was raised Catholic. It also reminds me of a ceremony I witnessed in Assisi three years ago, when they ritually removed Christ from the cross in the Cathedral of San Rufino and ceremoniously carried him down the hill to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. It was quite an amazing experience.

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I am not the only one to observe that some of our collective response to this crisis surely depends on the fact that Ukrainians are white.

History happening.

The voice on this guy!

This show of solidarity.

And then there’s Chef Andres, feeding people along the border.

And meanwhile, Andrea Chalupa and Michael McFaul just appeared on MSNBC and uttered cautions about getting caught up in the energetic bravery of Ukraine’s people and the show of solidarity throughout the world. Putin means business, they say. Chalupa worries about genocide.

More locally I can report that it’s 19 degrees here but sunny, so K, Finn, and I enjoyed our walk.

And now it’s time to walk away from the screens.

A storm, 4 WTFs, and my tribe

A storm. “Isn’t it just a blizzard?” asked a friend who’s seen a few more New England winters than I have.

No, they’re bomb cyclones. And they’ve got names now too. I think this one is Kevin or some shit.

Worse, weather people now refer to the process of a storm rapidly gaining strength as bomb-o-genesis, which in my view sounds more like a rock band, a decadent dessert, or a sex toy.

WTF Number 1: What’s with littering masks people? Walk in any direction for a small distance around here and you’re bound to encounter 5-6-7 discarded masks. WTF?

WTF Number 2: I’ve been taking a statin for a number of years and I had to learn about the perils of grapefruit juice from a blogging friend in Maine? WTF doctors? (Thanks for the heads up, Joanne).

WTF Number 3: Local news coverage about safety offered this tip should you fall through the ice: “Use your ice pick and rope to pull yourself out.” WHAT. THE. FUCK?

We walked around Crystal Lake this morning. K wanted to make part of the circuit on the ice but I was too nervous, especially after hearing eerie boing-pong sounds coming from under the ice. Plus, I left my ice pick and rope at home.

Now for my tribe comment — the Irish tribe in case you’re wondering (Ancestry puts me at 98%). It’s not often that I sing out “that’s my tribe” with head held high.

Case in point, the last time I flew home from LA, three guys from Southie sitting in the row behind me spent the final hour of the flight both refusing to wear their masks properly (despite repeated requests from airline staff) and arguing about who was driving whom home. “That’s my tribe,” I thought wearily.

But twice recently watching Maddow’s coverage of stubborn and valiant fisherfolk from County Cork, I called out, “That’s my tribe!” County Cork is even where my maternal grandmother hails from.

If you haven’t heard the story, Russia is planning military exercises off the southwest coast of Ireland. The fishermen of that area intend to head their way and “fish as usual, as is their right.” In a season of handwringing over Russian aggression, I love this scrappy and pugnacious response. And true to the Irish penchant for understatement, the daring offensive is being framed as being about the mackerel and all.

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Short version of WTF Number 4 is the radical right. I put it at the end here so you can skip it if you want but I include it as testimony. It all is so unbelievable.

WTF Number 4: Green M&M’s are no longer sexy enough for Tucker Carlson? Newt Gingrich has crawled out from whatever rock he’s been hiding under to do a Giuliani impression of “lock them up?” Susan Collins is so glad there will be time to deliberate over the next SCOTUS pick since it is such an incredibly important decision? McConnell asks that the Democrats not pick someone “radical” (um, hello Handmaid? Hello beer-lauding blackout-Justice who has recently extolled the SCOTUS previously overturning precedent while failing to mention, of course, that each of those previous times was to expand rights, not take them away?)

The white underwing

I happed upon this image just before a writing session. Here’s most of what I wrote.

Up, anxious, sitting on the pot. Above the bathroom curtain’s ruffle, I can see a section of the night sky. A wedge of moon travels above Linshaw’s roof and into the netted shadows of their massive copper beech.

That tree, part sentinel, part cautionary tale, is hundreds of years old. It was a sapling during the small pox epidemic of the late 1700’s. It grabbed sky in one direction and earth in the other when the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. Horses and a stream wandered nearby.

The beech was bigger yet at the Emancipation Proclamation. By the time of the Spanish flu perhaps the twin trunks had established themselves.

The white planked house is old too, but not nearly as old as the tree. I like to think that old Abraham Jackson sited the foundation with due regard for the tree, a tree which was still in its youth but already punctuating his property with its mighty grace.

The moon in her delicate variety is older yet, so old that a different scale of time is required. The coal-to-diamond scale. The asteroid-encounter scale.

All I can think about during my brief viewing of the night sky is how insular I’ve become. A life apart from the wonder of puddles and their up-side-down worlds. Apart from trout and hummingbirds. Apart from the cleansing sweep of cold night air in the lungs.

Oh I go outside, but my walks with the dog are more like mail delivery than adventure. Making the rounds. A chance to take stock of all the closed blinds and to wonder why so few structures ever show any signs of life.

When I lived on the other side of the state in the Berkshires all I had to do was raise my head off the pillow and gaze out my eastern window to be transported. Sheep’s Heaven Mountain. The mountain’s name whispered: time passes, time passes. Not that long ago the wooded hill was bare and dotted with sheep.

Here the horizon is rooved. One neighbor painted their house a bright yellow this year. At first I wondered about their choice but today I look out and its yolky warmth is welcome in all the grey.

All the grey can dull the senses. Maybe that’s why the news photo of a snowy owl in Washington, DC captivated me this morning. She’d made her way south from her usual haunts. She could be yet another signal of the drastic climate change we’re all so busily — in one way or another — trying to ignore.

But when I spy her fluffed up against the cold atop a statue of Themis, a figure representing freedom and justice, I like to think she stands for something else. That she augurs change. I like to think that when she lifts her wings and reveals their white undersides, we are meant to notice and in noticing, act.

I don’t believe the arc of the moral universe necessarily bends toward justice. There are too many ways we can fail. But this bird perched on the head of a goddess carrying the sword of justice lets me think we have a chance. A chance to make things right. A chance to live up to our promise and to atone for our sins. Not because I say so, but because a solitary owl, mysterious and commanding, has told me so.