Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Helen Cantrell: Jersey City Painter

In October I had a chance to walk around the Jersey City Artist Studio Tour and came across Helen Cantrell's work. To the left is one of her oil paintings titled, "Jersey City Snow". I love the painterly quality and "Bridgeport Yellow Sky" is one of my favorites.

Helen was born in Chicago, Illinois, March 1947 and has lived on East Coast for past 30 years. Besides printmaking and painting, she enjoys gardening, her two cats, and is a huge “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fan. She admires “abstract expressionist” painters like Willem de Kooning and more “realist” modern art like Richard Diebenkorn.

You can learn more about Helen here and here.

New Jersey for Democracy Endorsed List of Progressive Candidates

I just received this from New Jersey for Democracy. It is their slate of endorsed candidates in New Jersey this year. If you are interested you can volunteer, contribute or work the polls for these progressive candidates. The more progressives in any offices the better for progressive politics everywhere.

New Jersey for Democracy is proud to support this terrific slate of grassroots-fueled candidates this Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th. Please support these great progressives in the remaining days before the election by volunteering to help them win.
Thanks for all you do! -Jeff, Rosi, Robin, Mitch and Lewis
DFA National Endorsements in New Jersey

Senator Loretta Weinberg for State Senate, LD-37
Senator Weinberg is considered New Jersey's "Godmother of Progressive Politics. For more than 30 years, Loretta has stood up for social justice, human rights, the environment and the health, wealth and happiness of New Jersey's working families. That's why she's received the endorsement of nearly every leading environmental, labor, LGBT, health, consumer, progressive and women's organization in Bergen County and the state. The DFA members of Bergen Grassroots endorsed Loretta Weinberg unanimously, and the NJ4D Executive Board followed immediately with its unanimous support as well. Loretta's progressive values are strong and clear, and she has spent her life translating that into action and policy. DFA is proud to stand with Loretta Weinberg -- she's always stood with us!: Visit Loretta's website

Gina Genovese for State Senate, LD-21
Gina Genovese, running for State Senate from the 21st-- that's in Union, Essex, Morris and Somerset Counties-- was the first Democrat ever elected as Mayor of Long Hill, and became the highest-ranking openly gay official in the state. During her tenure, she opened the budget process to the public and signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Gina has opened doors for the LGBT and progressive communities in her town while working to build a sustainable future. Visit her website to help her get to Trenton!: Visit Gina's website

Ed Zipprich for Red Bank Bo rough Council
Ed Zipprich has been a Democracy For America activist for years; he's attended the DFA Training Academy and Night School. A leader of Monmouth for Democracy, and a member of the New Jersey Stonewall Democrats and Democracy for New Jersey, Ed has helped to build New Jersey's progressive community from the grassroots up. Let's show him our thanks by helping him win his race: Visit Ed's website

NJ4D Statewide Endorsements
Asw. Valerie Vainieri Huttle for Assembly, LD-37
Since her first day in office, Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle has been an outspoken voice for progressive issues, and a champion of c! lean gov ernment reforms. As part of the Real Bergen Democrats who shook the establishment this year, Valerie proved herself to be a rising star in the party. She has stood up against special interests, and is a legislator we can truly be proud of. Let's send her back to Trenton: Visit Valerie's website

Asm. Gordon Johnson for Assembly, LD-37
When DFA Chair Jim Dean came to Englewood to announce the endorsement of Senator Weinberg, he was met with a roomful of electrified supporters. Assemblyman Johnson was there, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Real Bergen Democrats Team that courageously stood up to machine politics, and altered the dynamics of this race, and the county Democratic party. He has earned our support: Visit Gordon's website

Melonie Marano for Somerset County Freeholder Melonie Marano is running an incredibly strong challenge in a county that has historically been very difficult for Democrats. But, she is changing minds and winning support. She was recently called "too good - and too needed - to ignore" by a conservative local newspaper. As the lone Democrat on Green Brook's committee, Melonie has already proven sh e knows how to lead in a bipartisan atmosphere. Yet, her pro! gressive values take a back seat to no one. A win for Melonie is a win for DFA and the 50-state strategy rolled in one: Visit Melonie's website

Ed Selby for State Senate, LD-24
Running for Senate in a traditionally Republican District used to mean fighting a hopelessly underfunded uphill battle. But, New Jersey's Clean Elections Program is helping level the playing field. And, with candidates like Ed Selby who tirelessly worked the District to reach the level of support needed to earn public financing of his campaign, all of a sudden, voters in the 24th District finally get to see a fair fight. As a well-respected progressive voice, Ed is just the kind of candidate who deserves this opportunity: Visit Ed's website

Linda Mastellone for Flemington Borough Council
Linda Mastellone is another great home-grown DFA candidate. She has been a member of Hunterdon DFA since 2004. Linda's campaign is grassroots-driven; her platform centers around zero-based budgeting, revitalizing "Main Street", and working with the tenant community. She's currently the Associate Director of Events for the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce. Linda's victory would give Democrats a majority on the Flemington Council. Let's show what the grassroots of New Jersey can do by helping her get elected: Visit Linda's website

Pat Walsh for Assembly, LD-24
Pat Walsh is part of the Clean Elections Team breaking new ground in the 24th District with an exciting grassroots campaign focusing on person-to-person contacts and voter outreach. This back-to-basics approach is in keeping with the message of his campaign - to preserve northwest New Jersey as a "precious jewel" that remains a great place to live, work and raise a family. Tough to argue with that: Visit Pat's website

Toni Zimmer for Assembly for Assembly, LD-24
The third member of the 24th District Clean Candidates Team, Toni Zimmer is an experienced business owner, who combines her commitment to fiscal responsibility with her progressive values. She is strongly opposed to the influence of special interest money in politics, and is working to prove that ideas should matter more than money. She deserves our support.:
Visit Toni's website

Elizabeth Kaplan for Sussex County Clerk
When the Sussex County Dems failed to put up a candidate for County Clerk during this year's primary season, Elizabeth Kaplan had enough. As a leader of the Sussex County DFA group, Elizabeth believed in the power of challenging in every race, everywhere, even traditionally "red" areas. So, she waged a write-in campaign, got herself on the ballot, and hasn't stopped campaigning since. We applaud her efforts!:
Visit Elizabeth's website

The Democratic Presidential Debate

The debate was interesting and I think it is time to begin paying attention to these debates. This election will be decided within 90 + days if you can believe that. So, it is time. If you want a clip to see how Clinton stumbled and other parts of the debate go here.

Though, I think it is clear Hillary Clinton is powerfully intelligent and knows how to debate better than all of them, maybe with the exception of Edwards. Edwards and Obama attempted to go after her. At the beginning Obama did not do well, his attack strategy seemed more like a conversation, but I thought he did score points throughout the debate. John Edwards seemed to do Obama's bidding for him as he is surely trying to get back into this race. The polls are showing that his candidacy is beginning to wane. If I would pick a winner it would be Edwards. He was articulate, strong, showed clear differences between what he and Obama claim from Clinton and also admits what many have said here, that he is not above purity in contributions, but he is honest about it, which is more than we can say for most of these guys and gals.

But, Hillary is strong and extremely gifted at debate, more than I ever thought possible. I think she is wrong on policy, but she knows how to defend her positions. Although, she seriously faltered at the end of the debate and if you wish to watch, here it is:

I think the entire debate strategy is completely ridiculous and flawed, however. Asking Dennis Kucinich if he saw a UFO was preposterous. I wish he told them to go stick it. They barely asked him any questions and when they do they ask him about UFO's? And above at the top here look at the talk clock on Dodd's website. They asked Hillary, Obama and Edwards all of the questions with a few to Biden, Dodd or Richardson and Kucinich was way behind. Biden is last because he answers very quickly and does not go on long like the others.

The only time I clapped out loud was for Kucinich and the only time I felt inspired was by what Edwards said about changing the course of our nation and turning the country back over to the people.

Edwards/Kucinich ticket.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

H A P P Y H A L L O W E E N ! ! !

pumpkins of hoboken...

enjoy the warm weather, sun, candy and costumes!

365 days of julie doucet

julie doucet is back! well, sorta. she renounced her indie queen of comix status years ago but has been working on illustration projects, poems and other art installations.

next month drawn and quarterly will release 365 Days: A Diary by Julie Doucet. thank god. a year round fix of ms. doucet. not quite another edition of dirty plotte (you need to know your french canadian slang to deconstruct that title) but close enough. here's more on julie doucet, the artist. and finally, see a sneak preview of her diary drawings. i can't wait for its release. in the meantime, i'll reminisce about the adoring fan letters i wrote to her in the 90s, forever unanswered.

what's in your mouth?

were you a kid in the 70s? did you get lots of cavities filled with mercury based amalgams? are you, like me, freaked out because you have small bits of mercury in your mouth that are released every time you chew? well i am. have been for several years even though my dentist says no worries, no, we don't have to replace them. but last year i did get a new cavity filled with resin stuff. i looked at a few articles regarding this "scare" but i'm still scared.

a recent article from terrain got me to worrying again:

Aside from uranium, mercury is the most toxic metal known to man; it takes only a few milligrams to kill you, and once it accumulates in your tissues, it can cause neurological problems and organ damage. Mercury toxicity in humans has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and kidney problems, and some believe it's responsible for the alarming rise in autism and Alzheimer's disease.

"We have a very serious problem here," said Dr. Boyd Haley during a September 2006 clinical teleconference. Haley is chairman of the chemistry department at University of Kentucky, and he has conducted extensive research on mercury's effects on brain and nerve tissue. "Every study of mercury on the human brain shows that it generates neuronal problems," he said. "The American Dental Association (ADA) and the FDA ignore this, saying mercury is safe and has no effect on the brain. This is 100 percent wrong."

Mercury compounds can enter the body through various pathways, including inhalation of vapor, ingestion, and skin contact. It's found in paints, pesticides, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, skin creams, vaccines, old-style thermometers, eye drops, and of course, those silver amalgam fillings in your mouth. Despite the American Dental Association's best efforts to downplay the risk, mercury from amalgams is continually released, increasing as you chew food or gum. "Mercury comes off amalgam fillings at a rate much, much higher than the ADA spokespeople say it does," says Haley. "Eighty percent that comes off the fillings is retained by the body."

and here's what the FDA says about amalgam safety. i'm not convinced, are you?

finally check out this cool site about all things mercury.

Hoboken Green Parks Initiative

This seems like a no brainer. More parks in a square mile city. Of course nothing in Hoboken is guaranteed, politics plays a part always; you must ask yourself who will be making or more importantly here losing the money? For more on the campaign go to the Hoboken Green Parks initiative. The vote is on November 6, 2007. Get yourself informed. Power to the people.

natalie portman--young green activist!

from treehugger: Recycle It, Renew It...If we can reuse it, Why should we lose it...Show you care...Natalie Portman has been involved in environmental causes from a young age apparently. In what could be an embarrassing video, Israeli-born Portman becomes a World Patrol Kid, and espouses all the virtues of recycling through song and dance.

A comment at YouTube says that Portman hates the video, but her parents always show it to her friends.

Recycle It, Renew It...If we can reuse it, Why should we lose it...Show you care....

A challenge by John Edwards

I am beginning to think Edwards is our only hope. By "our" I mean people who want the people to run our government, not corporations.

The Moral Test of Our Generation

"I saw the chase for campaign money at any cost by the frontrunner in this race — and I did not join it — because the cost to our nation and our children is not worth the hollow victory of any candidate. Being called president while powerful interests really run things is not the same as being free to lead this nation as president of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. If protecting the current established structure in Washington is in your interest, then I am not your candidate. I ran for president four years ago — yes, in part out of personal ambition — but also with a deep desire to stand for working people like my father and mother — who no matter how hard things were for our family, always worked even harder to make things better for us." - John Edwards -

John Edwards gave a stirring speech yesterday called "The Moral Test of Our Generation." He attacked corporate greed and all those politicians who engage in it. He hits Hillary hard, but more than that he makes the case for what our country can look like without the corruption that is commonplace. Read the speech, it is remarkable.

What is Obama Thinking?

A campaign that is faltering clearly and needs a new strategy that he is beginning to embrace, he chooses to embrace homophobia. See this video on what Don McClurkin said at the Faith concert embraced by the Obama campaign. Now, let us also be clear. This is not Jerry Falwell preaching hatred of gays. He indicates whatever people do in their bedroom is their business and that is how he plans to vote, however he preaches God delivered him from homosexuality and says if we all had "faith" in Jesus we can have the same salvation. I am paraphrasing, but this is the message.

I waited yesterday for Obama's repudiation. This is what we got this morning: “It’s true we had a controversy…a gospel singer was singing at a gospel concert on our behalf, he was one of many, and he had some views that were anti-gay,” the Illinois Democrat said during an MTV/MySpace forum. “I am disturbed by those views and I have said publicly that I have disagreed with them.” Ok, not bad, what else ya got? Obama then defended his campaign's affiliation with McClurkin, saying, "I have also said we have to reach out to those who have a different attitude on these issues to try to teach."

That's it, Mr. Obama? We have to reach out to homophobia? Ok, you are not a bigot, but you want to reach out to people who are and try to teach what? To try and teach us? Or to try and teach them? Who is teaching who?

This is another way to have it both ways. I know Obama is a good man and know he feels in his heart that we are all equal - that to me is obvious. But, this is pandering at the expense of people's rights. At the expense of subjugating populations of people and I am ashamed for him. Of course you cannot help who supports you? But, you can clearly repudiate someone's beliefs withouth offending anyone or if you offend someone, who cares? God delivering someone from homosexuality is offensive - pure and simple. McClurkin may even truly believe this, but that does not mean a Presidential candidate should give it any credence.

Unless Mr. Obama is subtly telling us something and I am ignoring it? I am not seriously not excited about any of these candidates except of course for Dennis Kucinich who stands not a shot in hell. I guess my vote will again be wasted and I will be marginalized and said to be on the fringe left.

If he doesn't repudiate this further he is the leading candidate for assclown of the week.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Polls in Iowa

A new University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll finds Sen. Hillary Clinton leading the Democratic presidential race in the first caucus state with 29%, followed by Sen. Barack Obama at 27%, John Edwards at 20% and Gov. Bill Richardson at 7%.

On the Republican side (who really cares?), Mitt Romney is way in front with 36%, followed by Rudy Giuliani at 13%, Mike Huckabee at 13%, Fred Thompson at 11% and Sen. John McCain way back at 6%. Who said Mitt Romney could not be the Rethuglican nominee?

On the Democratic side it is interesting that Hillary has not pulled away in Iowa as she has nationally. Edwards also seems to be losing steam there. It was a dead heat for the big three not too long ago, but he has faltered. He seems to be faltering nationally as well.

However, a surprising poll at Brad blog (courtesy of CBS) indicates that if Al Gore were to enter the race he would change the entire landscape of the race: Although he has not declared his candidacy, this poll indicates that were he to enter the race, Al Gore could be a serious contender. Near the end of this questionnaire, his name was added to a short list of candidates vying for the nomination. He came in second among Democratic primary voters at 32% – just five points behind Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama trailed behind them in third place with 16% percent.

In other news Barack Obama's campaign is reeling from a blow last night. A controversial minister said at a concert he promoted "God delivered me from homosexuality." This was known that this person was attending, but it was not known he would issue such a statement. No statement from Obama has been released as of yet.

reverse graffiti--art less pollution

check out brazilian street artist alexandre orion who creates reverse graffiti and still gets harassed by sao paulo cops. he doesn't tag, he cleans city property. "For over two weeks last year, the Brazilian artist selectively scrubbed soot from the tunnel until the white surface underneath stared through as a cemetery's worth of skulls." read more here about the tunnel of skulls.

see his getaway in this video clip.

New Jersey is Suffering from a shortage of Judges

I am not sure how New Jersey is suffering, but I am sure my clients are suffering from the lack of Judges in Superior Court. See this piece in the Star Ledger that declares Jersey is short 36 judges around the state. The article declares justice is slow. The problem is Corzine cannot agree on candidates with the legislature supposedly. "This is a problem...many courts are struggling to keep the docket moving. " Chief Justice Rabner says. This I can attest.

There are 36 Superior Court judicial vacancies -- almost 10 percent of the trial bench. Camden, Middlesex, Ocean, Passaic and Union each have at least three openings. At least one judge vacancy hasn't been filled for more than two years. There also is an opening on the state Tax Court. With some judges retiring at the end of the year, the vacancies will rise unless Gov. Jon Corzine and the state Senate hire more.

I represent parents in abuse and neglect proceedings. Parents in these proceedings are already at a severe disadvantage because of their income (over 95% are poor) and because of the protection of children, DYFS and the court do not allow for the proper due process in these cases. Kangaroo court would be a slur on kangaroos to call abuse and neglect proceedings such a name. Regardless, the shortage of judges have made this process a disaster.

My client had her two young children removed in late June, 07. I appeared in front of Judge F. Judge F. nearly returned the children to my client, but needed to see more evidence (clients in these courts are routinely made to undergo psychological and psychiatric evaluations). My client submitted and passed with flying colors. We were to return on August 8th and almost assuredly the children were to be returned on this date. As a side note my client had only one hour of supervised visitation during this period. Two days before Judge F. was to hear the case he was removed from Family Court and sent to Criminal court. Despite my adamant protests to the court they would not hear the case. DYFS used this to their advantage admirably. My client stuck with only one hour of supervised visitation, could not get her case heard until September 25th, almost two months after the fact.

On this date we went in front of a new Judge. Let us call him Judge P. I filed a motion to have the children returned, but our new judge, an older recall judge with virtually no experience in the area refused to make any decisions. He said we were there only for a compliance review and to set a trial date. I protested even stronger, but because DYFS did not want the children returned (as they almost always do) they did not speak up. I told the judge of the previous procedural history, but to no avail.

Again, my client with only one hour of supervised visitation had her case heard on October 25th, by yet another judge. We will call him Judge H. We were supposed to begin the trial, a trial that should have happened a month before. Because Judge H. has been so busy and is only a recall judge, his calendar is full and we only begun introducing evidence. I did get the motion heard finally and we are on the road back to reunification.

My client reminded me, however this judge's commission is only through November. What happens in December? Will we have another Judge? One that does not understand what is happening. One that is afraid to make a decision? I told her we have to wait and see. Yes, it is true the dockets are not moving, but this only tells a fraction of the story. See how this plays out in every day New Jersey citizens lives and you will see some tragedy, just about everyday.

Chris Dodd and the Rule of Law

BILL MOYERS: Remember “The Lives of Others” - the movie that won this year’s Academy Award for best foreign language film….a story of life under East Germany’s secret police. The critic Roger Ebert said: “The movie is relevant today, as our government ignores habeas corpus, practices secret torture, and asks for the right to wiretap and eavesdrop on its citizens. Such tactics, he said, did not save East Germany; they destroyed it, by making it a country its most loyal citizens could no longer believe in.” You want to say it couldn’t happen here but we’ve been close before. During the cold war with the Soviet Union and then the hot war in Vietnam, a secret government mushroomed in this country.

Watch Chris Dodd and his speech on why the rule of law is important.

2004 was an exorcism. 2007 is an exclamation point.

The Greatest Threat to Our Democracy

Certainly, this sums up the actual greatest threat to our democracy. Corporate power. From the drugs we use, to the food we eat, the the bombs we drop, to the votes we cast everything is now controlled by corporations.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

paterson ymca's new equestrian program for kids

Saturday, October 27, 2007 By DIANE HAINES, HERALD NEWS

N.J. after 3 at the Garret Mountain Equestrian Center: VIDEO, LESLIE BARBARO

click here for the video clip.

Let the horseplay begin. And so it did for kids from School 28 in Paterson.

About one year ago, Kristen Norgrove, a teacher at the school, wanted to teach her urban students about horses and riding. The dialogue started because she had recently purchased a horse.

It took a year of fundraising and planning but earlier this month, six third-grade students found themselves grooming and riding horses as part of the afterschool study and recreational program run by the YMCA at the Garret Mountain Equestrian Center in West Paterson. The center is located in the wooded, 569-acre Garret Mountain Reservation. The bucolic setting is in stark contrast to the school's congested neighborhood.

School 28 is on the city's densely populated north side, at 200 Presidential Blvd., across the street from Riverview Towers, a high-rise public housing development. Yet only a mile away there is plenty of open space and trails for riding and hiking. The reservation is patrolled by the mounted police of the Passaic County Sheriff's Department, which keeps its horses at the equestrian center.

A riding instructor recently taught Tyanna Wilson and Melody Vazquez, both 8, how to brush and groom Dusty, a fleabitten, gray quarter horse.

"I like to brush Dusty and get the dust and hair off his body. Now he's nice and shiny," says Tyanna. Curry combing is done first followed by a medium brushing and then a finishing brush to smooth the coat and bring up the shine.

Riding instructor Sarah Martinez explains that the brushing feels good to the horses and helps the children bond with them.

Dusty is one of four gentle training horses used for instruction at the stable. The other three are Reeses, a chestnut pony; Rocky, a chestnut quarter horse with a white blaze; and Peanut Butter, a chestnut dun with a white stripe. All are cross-tied with leads attached to the wood paneled aisle walls while the kids comb and brush them.

"Brush them gently; the horse can be a little nervous," says barn manager Krista Blomberg of Glen Rock.

She shows the students how to lift the hooves and use a pick to clean mud from around the horseshoe, avoiding the soft tissue at the center.

"If he edges over towards the stall just give him a gentle push with both hands. Do not grab the tail. Give him a pat on the hindquarters and then grab the tail all at once and pull it to the side," says Blomberg.

The instructors wear black polo shirts with a white equestrian logo. Many of the children wear School 28 T-shirts with jeans.

After learning about grooming, the kids help saddle the horses and fit them with bridles. They also learn how to use shovels and buckets to clean up after them. That's no fun but mandatory.
Now for the good part. The youngsters don helmets and take a slow walk around the ring. The facility has outdoor and indoor rings and hay-filled stalls. The kids use a step and are boosted into the saddle.

"Some were a little nervous, but they all had a good time," says Blomberg. The students hold the reins while handlers lead the horses with lines attached to the halter under the bridle.

"This is better than staying in school," says Rikayva Palmer, 8.

Jalea Gillespie, 8, adds, "I think Peanut Butter is fun."

Katrina Lewis, who works for the YMCA, says an attempt to obtain grant money for the program failed in 2006. That meant the students had to raise money through a bake sale and private donations.

Lewis, who also works for the school district, says six youngsters at a time will take part in a four-week program. A new group of six students will start Wednesday. Fundraising is ongoing to keep the program going for the remainder of the school year.

Frank Battipaglia, who operates the equestrian center on a lease basis from the county, says he greatly reduced the fees to give Paterson students the chance to learn how to ride. The regular half-hour instruction fee is $35. The YMCA is paying $15 per child for 90 minutes of instruction.
Raymond J. Wright Jr., director of the county parks department, says the stable was established in 1983 with Green Acres funds. For most of its history it has been run by a vendor under contract with the county.

It offers private and group riding lessons, and a camp program in the summer. Some privately owned horses are also boarded there.

Reach Diane Haines at 973-569-7046 or

Thousands March Against War

Thousands march against the war in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York and other cities. Why do we march? No one listens, no one seems to care, the streets of NYC are still as bustling as ever - up Madison and Fifth - to shop. Are we at war? You could avoid this war easier than avoiding the World Series. Strategies need to change. We need to stop looking toward our elected leaders and to marching in the streets as a strategy for change. We need confrontation and we need it now.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


can you clean & stay green? i stopped buying those crazy-smelling, eye-burning toxic cleaning products and started to look for alternatives in my local health food, organic store. but what will really clean the grime in the tub and on the counter tops?

the green guide offers this handy list on what to buy that's an all-purpose cleaner but gentle for the environment.

also check out this handy product, simple green (i first discovered it while living in san francisco in the 90s).

from ideal bite:

  • Simple Green is qualified under EPA and OSHA guidelines as nontoxic and biodegradable; rescue workers have even used it to clean animals after oil spills.

  • Simple Green has donated 1 mil gal of its products to disaster and humanitarian relief projects.

  • Except for a few ready-to-use products, the formulas are concentrated, so you can use less of them than other cleaners - it also means there's less packaging waste and energy use for shipping.

  • Its EGBAR Foundation funds community cleanups and environmental education programs, which more than 1.5 mil kids have participated in.

  • Uses easily recyclable, PVC-free packaging.

Five Hoboken Police Officers Sue the Police Department

Five Hoboken police officers have filed a federal law suit against the Hoboken Police Department claiming their superior officer created a hostile working environment for the five officers and were discriminated against because of their ethnicity. They endured constant racial slurs because of their background and were forced to do labor at their superiors' home while others were not. The lawsuit says their superior officer is a white supremacist. All of the politicians in Hoboken are saying "no comment." Supposedly, however it is well known this officer, Lt. Andriani is a white supremacist and Chief LaBruno knew this was going on.

How this can happen in our culture now is disgusting and we should be outraged that our brothers and sisters could be treated with such disrespect. I hope they take us for all we are worth. For more on the story, videos and more go to Hoboken 411.

sarah heart god

well, the sarah silverman program continues to make me uncomfortable and howl with laughter. here's a sneak peek at this week's episode, "ah, men" (wed at 10:30pm), where sarah and god have a romantic fling (again).

The Anne Coulter Song

Not sure how much I like it, but I like the sentiment.

"Perfect me, make me petty, I want to be hateful like Anne Coulter."

Hillary's Silence on the FISA Bill Speaks Volumes

There seems to be no end in sight for Hillary and the Democratic party. She is our new savior just as Al Gore (the old Al Gore) and John Kerry were in the last election cycles, though all of them are virtually the same vanilla taste we have had that gives us nothing in return. Yet, we cling to it.

A piece at the Huffington Post lends a clear eye to what is happening with our democratic party, our leader and our front runner. I say OUR because the democratic party should stand for the people. It used to in the days of Roosevelt and even Johnson (domestically). But, Bill Clinton changed that with the on-set of the centrist organization the Democratic Leadership Council and the swing to the middle by Democrats along with ties to multinational corporations that was unheard of before Clinton.

While I digress, let me make my point here. The new eavesdropping Bill (FISA) is already a compromise for civil libertarians (or what we used to call Americans), but the repugnant piece of the bill is the retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that spied on us. They do not want to be sued for violating the constitution. So, what happened? Bush said I won't sign any bill that does not include such a measure. Jay Rockefeller (who so conveniently is funded by these companies by the bundle) said ok. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader, said ahh what the heck. We been caving forever, this is nothing new.

But, Senator Chris Dodd (fast becoming popular among the left) put a hold on the bill. Any Senator is allowed to do such a thing and it is usually allowed to stand. But, Reid said: "We need to get things done on this bill." Evidently, as Jane Hamscher points out in her piece one of those things Reid does not feel he needs to get done is pass the Emmet Till cold case bill, which called for more money for unsolved civil rights crimes. Tom Coburn put a hold on the bill -- and Reid just let that one go. The bill died.

At least he is consistent right? Civil rights in any case is not that important to the democrats. So, Reid will ignore Dodd's hold and is planning to put the bill up for a vote. Dodd now says he will filibuster and already has promises from Kennedy, Feingold and Cardin to join. Obama says he is "concerned" about the bill, and said he will vote against it but has not yet joined the filibuster. If he is smart he will join. Hamscher indicates he will, but as of yet I have not heard a confirmation.

The strange silence, however comes from the Clinton camp. She put out a statement that said she is prepared to study the bill "very hard." And as Hamscher notes: But one question few are asking -- is it a coincidence we haven't heard anything convincing from Hillary Clinton, who took in $87,130 in telecom contributions in the 2006 cycle -- more than anyone else currently in the Senate? That makes Jay Rockefeller's contributions look like abject chicken feed. and Hamscher continues:

Mike McCurry and Jamie Gorelick, who both served in the previous Clinton administration, have been raking in money as telecom lobbyists (Gorelick has been providing "strategic advice" to Verizon about obtaining immunity). And Howard Wolfson -- currently a senior advisor to the Clinton campaign -- is a partner in Glover Park, who represent Verizon. No doubt they'll all have some s'plainin to do if Hillary joins Dodd in his filibuster -- as Barack Obama and Joe Biden have already said they would do.

Hillary Clinton has been hit hard by Edwards and Obama about the influence of special interests, but she has said "oh it doesn't affect my vote." As we all chuckle this is nothing to chuckle about. This administration broke the law and violated the constitution, the rule of law, what America is so proud to have ironed out over a 200+ year span. Yet, the Bush administration wants to give immunity to their buddies. Apparently, their buddies are Hillary Clinton's buddies too.

If her Iran vote doesn't scare you, then nothing will, but this is a "fuck you" to progressives everywhere. And if she is nominated we will get more of the same from her as we have gotten for several election cycles by democrats. They will talk a good game, but in the end are no better than their Republican counterparts. Sure, they may not want to blow up the world and start a WW III, but is that really what you want to vote for? Maybe that is her slogan for 2008 - I promise not to start WWW III.

My God how far have our standards gone? Read a great article on the Slept on website entitled "Where have all the liberals gone?" It explains what happened to the democratic party succinctly and accurately.

Cheney Falls Asleep at Bush Meeting on Wildfires

If it ain't war, energy, contractors bilking the American people or outing CIA operatives I guess Cheney is bored. When it comes to helping humans in the cause of humanity Cheney could care less.

Friday, October 26, 2007

bring back the 80s!

maybe i'm obsessing over my 20th high school reunion or just nostalgic for the past but i'm embracing the 80s... the pop shop is back! and i'm thrilled. well, it's just an online store now but that still makes me happy. i spent many an afternoon (& dollars) at the pop shop on lafayette street in the 80s... wondering if i would meet the ultra-famous keith haring. i loved the crazy graffiti art, the spirit & fun vibe of the gallery-store space, and the affordable art. i have so many memories of riding in my parents' car on FDR drive, waiting to catch a glimpse of his 1986 mural crack is wack. i had countless tee-shirts with his cartoon-ish images that promoted social messages. i gave away haring buttons, used haring patches on my ripped jeans and pinned his quirky bright character images on my schoolbags. haring's inflatable "radiant baby" even traveled with me to college and added some much needed chic to my dreary dorm room.

take a look at the site, read about his life, artwork and buy something to brighten up your day, or someone else's...

brief store history:

In 1986, New York artist Keith Haring opened the Pop Shop in downtown Manhattan. Haring saw the Pop Shop as an extension of his work, a fun boutique where his art could be accessible to everyone. For nearly twenty years, the shop continued to be a downtown attraction with floor-to-ceiling murals and affordable clothing and gift items all featuring Keith Haring’s unique icons. In September, 2005, the Pop Shop finally closed its doors to the public. Keith Haring's work continues to be displayed around the world at galleries and museums and in public spaces (view exhibitions and public projects).

Valerie Plame: This Administration Committed Treason

While we rev up the wheels of a new war, ahem Iran let us not forget what these criminals did to a CIA agent who worked on not allowing Iran to have Nuclear weapons. Say what you want about the CIA (and there is a lot to say that is bad), but she was doing the work that the Bush administration now tells us can send us to a new war, yet they outed her because they (being Joe Wilson and anyone with any integrity at the CIA) exposed the lies of the first war. And the Washington Post is still buying the administration lies - this time of course - Iran.

Though Chuck Hagel, the independent Senator from Nebraska says the new unilateral sanctions escalate the danger of military confrontation.
If this happens the Democratic party will have no where to look, but in the mirror or of course in the eyes of Hillary Clinton.

March for Peace Tomorrow

This is being dubbed as a big peace march. It is time to stand up for sure. october

Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later

In between innings last night I was flipping through the channels and came across this HBO documentary and it was as provocative a show about race, America and the incredible division between I have ever seen. It was astonishing.

I spent some time in the Little Rock and I remember asking mostly white folks about Little Rock Central. They said "oh you don't want to go there." We were astounded at why would we not want to see a national monument. Finally, we made it there and it was evident why these white social workers did not want us to go there. The area around Central highschool has become a typical inner city highschool full of the problems that exist, homicides, gang related problems and low performance by the African-American students.

Yet, Central still remains diverse and many whites attend because of the incredible opportunities there. It makes for an astounding documentary, one where you will learn about the Little Rock 9 and how the work that was done has eroded to a point that is disheartening to say the least.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Ten Most Dangerous Organizations

Family Security dubbed the ten most dangerous organizations in America. Who would you think would be on it Crooks and Liars asks, the KKK, Blackwater, skinheads. Nope - some of my favorite places to visit. I wish I were on the list, then I would have really made something of my self.

10) ThinkProgress
9) Muslim Student Association
8) CodePINK
7) American Civil Liberties Union, National
6) Family Research Council
5) Center for American Progress
4) League of the South
2) Universities and Colleges
1) Media Matters for America

An Ode to Paul Wellstone (July 21, 1944 - October 25, 2002)

From Wellstone Action: Five years ago today, a plane crash took the lives of Paul and Sheila Wellstone, their daughter Marcia, and three campaign aides - Mary McEvoy, Tom Lapic, and Will McLaughlin. Today, October 25, is a day of remembrance, a time to honor our friends. We miss their joy, their passion and their commitment to building a more just and peaceful world.

I wrote this poem in October of 2002 in complete shock at the death of my political hero. As I have said before on this blog I was two days away from leaving for Minnesota to work the last two weeks of his campaign. Nothing in the political world ever shook me the way the death of Paul Wellstone shook me. His vision and his essence (along with his wife Sheila) was vanquished never to be replaced. At a time when we needed him the most. This is what I wrote on my way home from a peace protest in Washington, D.C.

"An Honorable Profession"

A light vanquished
a flame no less eternal
stoke these coals and
fan the embers
of this frightened life...
courageous one show me the way

A star that shined so bright
no longer shines that light
just one more time, Professor
(before you go)
teach me what to say

lives were touched gently,
subtly, passionately...forever
teaching truth to power
you stood alone...
a human among politicians
Senator how much do we have to pay?

Lie asleep for now
as we carry the message in your name
together we shall join the fight
and gear up for a long journey
and you shall be proud
when we finally meet one day

Notes from Underground...aka Brazil

São Paulo: The man picture to the right is not Al Gore. Obviously.
His name is Rajendra Pachauri and he is the Chairman of the
IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control). He
just won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Al Gore, and
everyone else at IPCC.

Last week, Estado de São Paulo, interviewed him about Brazil, the Amazon, Global Warming, and Ethanol. His comments were remarkable. I have taken some of that interview and translated it for anyone who cares. Here goes.

Q: The Brazilian government is having problems in monitoring the Amazon Rainforest. What can be done?

A: The Amazon is one of the greatest natural resources that the world depends on in the fight against climate change. But the Brazilian government's decisions, moreover those of the Brazilian people, need to be sovereign in the region. The Amazon is in Brazilian territory and no one can change that or question that reality.

Q: The environment, however, does not put into question that Brazilian sovereignty over the Amazon?

A: In no way. The international community needs to understand this and evaluate how to collaborate so that Brazil can maintain its coverage of the Amazon.

Q: How should the international community be involved with the Amazon in order to ensure its protection?

A: There are some options. One of them would be to negotiate an agreement for the protection of forests across the world. In this case, a type of value would be worked out for the conservation of the forest, and this value would provide for the resources needed to keep the wilderness intact, including the creation of alternative economies for the population of the region. And the richest countries could contribute financially to guarantee that the Amazon not be destroyed. obviously this is something that the governments need to negotiate and I cannot predict how this would occur. Certainly, it wouldn't be an easy compromise.

Q: You stated last week, upon being awarded the Nobel Prize, that the developing countries mustn't repeat , in their growth, the same mistakes that were made by the richest countries in the past. How then should we develop?

A: The development model needs to be completely remodeled. We know that the paradigm used by the developed countries in the last decades did not function in environmental terms and we will be feeling the effects of this for decades to come. What I said was that Brazil, India, and China can't repeat this model and find technologies and standards that ensure sustainable development. It would be in the interest of these developing countries to follow this new model. What is needed is a new world lifestyle, including diet. If I could give a recommendation, I would ask that the consumption of meat diminish. But questions like the use of water for irrigation and other aspects of life need to change.

Q: But the Brazilian government alleges that the cost is too high and now is not the time to put limits on the growth of the country.

A: The costs of mitigating the problems are not as much as they say. Beside this, we have the technical capacity to implement the changes. It is a fallacy to say that millions will lose their jobs if environmental requirements are put into place. We came to a conclusion that showed that the world would need to spend 0.6% of its collective GNP yearly to attack the crisis. In all, less than 3% would be needed...If not, we all suffer. In Latin America, the production of grains could fall 30% by 2080 if nothing is done. In Africa, the decrease could be 50% by 2020. The rationing of water, which now affects 12 million Latin-Americans, could reach 81 million by 2020.

Cindy Sheehan

“President Bush says we're safer fighting them there than over here. Why are we safer because 120,000 civilians [in Iraq] are dead? What makes their babies less precious than ours?” - Cindy Sheehan-

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Our National Guard is Not Where it Belongs

While I am busy with preparing for a trial, I could not help and post this from Think Progress:

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last May that the California National Guard had been depleted and warned that severe “equipment shortages could hinder the guard’s response to a large-scale disaster,” such as a “major fire”:

In California, half of the equipment the National Guard needs is not in the state, either because it is deployed in Iraq or other parts of the world or because it hasn’t been funded, according to Lt. Col. John Siepmann. While the Guard is in good shape to handle small-scale incidents, “our concern is a catastrophic event,” he said. “You would see a less effective response (to a major incident),” he said.

At a press conference five months ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) echoed these concerns, stating, “A lot of equipment has gone to Iraq, and it doesn’t come back when the troops come back.” The Chronicle reported that the California National Guard was missing about $1 billion worth of equipment.

Now, as 14 major wildfires rage across the state, those earlier warnings are materializing. While California currently has approximately 1,500 Guardsmen serving in Iraq, the strains on the disaster response teams are compounded by the missing personnel and equipment.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said, “Right now we are down 50 percent in terms of our National Guard equipment because they’re all in Iraq. The equipment — half of the equipment, so we really will need help.” California Lieutenant Gov. John Garamendi (D) said on Harball yesterday, “What we really need are those firefighters, we need the equipment, we need, frankly, we need those troops back from Iraq.”

coffee & chocolate & junot diaz

it's cold and rainy. i'm trying to wean off my caffeine intake lately. i usually drink one eli special a day (banana mocha or cappuccino, locally roasted beans) but after reading about some espresso places in the city, i am jonesing for something new: cafe grumpy. check out their 2 locations in chelsea & greenpoint. besides the very cool name, i like their business goals:

above, grumpkin the pumpkin.

Quality fresh coffee and tea without the attitude.
Coffee beans with roast dates not expiration dates.
Stop by for espresso that will make you happy.

another perk caught my eye in their recent newsletter... chocolate!

Taza Chocolates-- "Stone ground, organic, old style, single origin (Juan del Rosario farm, Dominican Republic)... plus, great packaging makes them the perfect gift."

which brings me to my other current fascination: junot diaz. he's a contemporary dominican-american writer, who moved to new jersey with his family at age 6. he waxes poetic on the rutgers experience and towns in jersey like paterson and wildwood, one of the many reasons i love his work. his writing is a mix of spanish, english, obscure cultural references, jersey quirks, comics, immigration and alienation. he wrote his first book of short stories, drown, published in 1996. but i'd go straight for his second fiction work, the brief wondrous life of oscar wao, just published last month. i'm mesmerized on every page. (i had read an excerpt this summer in the new yorker.) this book shoots right up to my top 3.

i read an interview with junot on bookslut. read & get hooked. here's one question that stuck with me:

Q: Oscar's life on College Ave seems so real, I guess more so for me also since it's around where I grew up. Have you spent much time at Rutgers?

JD: Oh, I'm a Rutgers grad. I'm a Rutgers boy. I went to Rutgers from 1988 to 1992, a long time ago, but that was before colleges turned into corporations. It was madness. They hadn't figured out yet to lock us down, and I swear to God that things were as crazy as they are now, but I was like, "Kids, man, you have no fucking idea how over-patrolled you guys are." They didn't even notice us, dude. College was like some empty space. I was always obsessed with Rutgers, and I'm kind of like the Dominican version of Sonny Werblin, you know? Any chance I get, I fucking talk about Rutgers. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, I will not lie. From the neighborhood I came from, I was literally intellectually starving. I was an incredibly bright kid outside of Perth Amboy, and going to Rutgers was sort of like someone who never had vitamin C their whole life. They're dying from fucking intellectual scurvy and rickets, and somebody gives them a fucking orange. It changed my life. There was a lot of me wondering what can I pillage from my memory just so I can give Oscar a stage to work on? As much as you ask how much this was real, I feel like I was the set designer in a way. My real life designed the set, but the fiction wrote the script and hired the actors.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"they won't hang a cross in your locker."

The Rockies Get Off Their Knees from the nation magazine
by Dave Zirin

Twenty-one wins in twenty-two games. An improbable run to the World Series. One of the hottest streaks to end a season in the history of the game. And not two pitchers the average fan could even name. Ladies and gents, your Colorado Rockies: a team performing what even an atheist could call a baseball miracle. And "miracle" is an appropriate term for a team that riled the baseball world last year by claiming that filling the dugout with Christian players would grease the skids to greatness.

Last year the Rockies went public with the news that the organization was looking for players with "character." And according to team management, "character" means players who have chosen Jesus as their personal Lord and manager. "We're nervous, to be honest with you," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said at the time. "It's the first time we ever talked about these issues publicly. The last thing we want to do is offend anyone because of our beliefs."

Rockies chairman and CEO Charlie Monfort took it further, saying, "I think character-wise we're stronger than anyone in baseball. Christians, and what they've endured, are some of the strongest people in baseball. I believe God sends signs, and we're seeing those." The team took some heat for its statements, especially when former players spoke of having their lockers searched for dirty magazines and feeling pressure that you had to be down with the God Squad to feel part of the team. It also raised the question of whether the team was discriminating against non-Christian players--would Jewish icon Shawn Green be welcome? What about just straight-up heathens?

But as the team makes its miracle run to the series against the Boston Red Sox this year, the Rockies are playing down their holier-than-thou image.

"Do we like players with character? There is absolutely no doubt about that," O'Dowd said in the New York Times today. "If people want to interpret character as a religious-based issue because it appears many times in the Bible, that's their decision. I believe that character is an innate part of developing an organization, and to me, it is nothing more than doing the right thing at the right time when nobody's looking. Nothing more complicated than that. You don't have to be a Christian to make that decision." "There are guys who are religious,sure, but they don't impress it upon anybody," Jewish pitcher Jason Hirsh also stepped forward to say. "It's not like they hung a cross in my locker or anything. They've accepted me for who I am and what I believe in." (That could be a great pitch for recruiting free agents: "They won't hang a cross in your locker!")

Have the Rockies really turned over a tolerant new leaf--as the Times report suggested--or is this merely the sin of spin? Relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt said, "When you have as many people who believe in God as we do, it creates a humbleness about what we do. I don't see arrogance here, I see confidence. We're all very humbled about where this franchise has been and where it is now, and we know that what's happening now is a very special thing.

"Humility and confidence are fine--indeed, novel--traits in an athlete. But the troubling part of that statement is the assumption that Christianity by definition brings character to the table. Maybe it's because I live in Washington, DC, a town full of politicians who blithely invade other countries with other people's children and deny healthcare to millions of kids and say they are guided by God. Maybe it's because I find a team using a publicly funded stadium as a platform for an event originally dubbed "Christian Family Day" exclusionary and a gross misuse of tax dollars. (Later, the events were renamed "Faith Day" to sound more inclusive.)

But for those of us who believe that freedom of religion also should mean freedom from religion at the ballpark, it doesn't matter if you call it Buddha-Jesus-Jewish-Vishnu-Islamic-Wicca Awareness Day. We just want to go to the ballpark without feeling like we're covertly funding Focus on the Family's gay-retraining programs. Religion and sports: it's a marriage in desperate need of a divorce.

That's why it was hard not to feel a tiny taste of supernatural satisfaction upon learning Tuesday that the team website crashed following what Rockies officials called "an external, malicious attack." The team's efforts to sell all its World Series tickets online was unprecedented and seen by many diehard Rockies fans as a way to sell tickets to out-of-town corporate entities and shut out the locals waiting in line for days to buy them in person. Unless your lord is Michael Milken, gouging home-town supporters doesn't seem very Christian at all.

So who could be the perpetrator of this "external and malicious" attack on the Rockies website? Was it God, punishing the team for squeezing the common fan? The Devil, trying to derail their grace-driven run? Some Red Sox Nation hacker getting his jollies? Whatever, it was hard not to smile at the biblical significance for one of baseball's most sanctimonious teams. They could throw the money-changers out of our sporting temples, but that would leave the owner's boxes empty. And we can't have that.

Gore a Winner Again

Former Vice President Al Gore will receive a second Quill award on Monday at the third annual event that was created to bring glamour and Oscar-style red carpet extravagance to the world of publishing. Nobel Peace Prize winner Gore's "The Assault on Reason" won the Quill award for the history/current affairs/politics category -- the same award he won last year for his book "An Inconvenient Truth."

All 19 winners are in the running for the Quill book of the year award, which is voted online by the public and will be announced at the awards ceremony. Other winners include Cormac McCarthy, who took the general fiction award with his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Road," Walter Isaacson, who won the biography/memoir award for "Einstein: His Life and Universe," and Nora Roberts, who won the romance award for "Angels Fall."

Amy Sedaris won the humor award for "I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence," Diane Setterfield will be awarded the debut author Quill for "The Thirteenth Tale" and Laura Lippman won the mystery/suspense/thriller award for "What the Dead Know."

A Conversation About Race in New Jersey

A friend of mine was interviewed about her views on race this past Sunday in the Herald News. It is insightful, provocative and informative. I am posting in full here.

Courting Disaster: An awakening to racism
Sunday, October 21, 2007 By TIM NORRIS

Nicole Mandarano says she felt different, not like the others in her high school and college graduating classes, not like anybody she knew.

Her sense of difference, at first, didn't involve race. With a master's degree in French from NYU, she wanted to make a difference, she says, in the world and back home in urban New Jersey. She started to volunteer at the Paterson YMCA in 1996 and signed on for the AmeriCorps VISTA program at the New Jersey Community Development Corp. in the city. That led to law school at the City University of New York, all the while working part-time for the Paterson Y as a grant writer and program developer.

"CUNY fosters the feeling that you can make the world a better place," she says, "so I became more idealistic about being a public-interest lawyer. I was ready to change the world."
Mandarano came back to Paterson as a law clerk, in 2005, for Judge Miguel de la Carrera in Passaic County Family Court. What she found there and in the criminal court next door, she says, changed the way she saw herself and everyone else. Some of the experiences weren't happy.

While she admired de la Carrera's knowledge and fairness and appreciated his counsel, and while she valued her co-workers, she came in naﶥ, she admits, about the inner workings of law enforcement and the court system. She saw in the parade of defendants a subtler variety of the racial and ethnic intolerance her own forebears had faced.

When her grandparents found their way from Bari, Italy, to Queens, she says, Italians often were still called "dagos" and "wops," slurs tossed as casually and as often as "kike" and "spic" and "nigger." "My parents' parents got the racial slurs," Mandarano says. "They were seen as, like, the bottom of the barrel. Now racism is more disguised, but for most ethnic groups, some version of that experience isn't far away."

While its mechanisms for law enforcement and justice bring in a majority of defendants of color, she says, racism is embedded elsewhere, in the wider American society and the assumptions that underlie it.

She admits that she had never felt the sting of race prejudice herself.

"I went to a public high school, Indian Hills in Oakland," she says. "It wasn't very diverse. It's crazy to me. We live so close to New York City, and we're in this almost completely white suburb. We're not even that far from Paterson. It's so easy to stay isolated, to be too comfortable."

New York presented a cultural rainbow. "Everybody came from diverse backgrounds," she says. "Everybody gave each other room." While Paterson shows similar diversity, racial and ethnic lines, she says, seem more sharply drawn. In Passaic County Court, she says, "it felt like I had stepped back in time or something.

"We're all aware of it, all aware that it's mostly people of color, people who are poor, who are in court. I couldn't help thinking, 'Kids in the suburbs are doing the same drugs, right? Dealing. Where are they? Prosecutors and juries look like this, defendants look like that.'

No chance

"Here I am watching person after person come in who doesn't really have a shot. What kind of schooling are they getting? What kinds of jobs are they getting? What kind of bias is out there already? Why would these kids want to trust ME if I were their lawyer? Can I, as a female who's white and grew up suburban, connect to them? I couldn't see what was going to change the system."

She needed a way, she says, to learn, to connect, to be honest.

At age 38, Mandarano works, now, for the Paterson YMCA, in a double – and doubly crucial – role: teacher and grant writer. Though she does much of her grant writing from home in Hoboken, she teaches classes every summer in the main building on Ward Street in downtown Paterson. She finds the Y, she says, a place of diversity and positive purpose, sheltering enough to invite honest exchanges.

"In the Y, like with the staff in the courthouse, my relationships seem different. Richer. People help me get through things, explain things, issues about inequity, race, class. A lot of people I work with come from Paterson, from all different backgrounds, and we don't rush to judge each other. We take time to get to know each other, talk about our dreams, find things in common. It feels great. Why wouldn't everyone want to do that?"

The reality of street life, though, also challenged some of Mandarano's idealism. Her most compelling revelations have come teaching teenagers about their constitutional rights and responsibilities in a summer class called Street Law.

"I've realized that I don't have a lot of answers," she says. "I feel embarrassed sometimes."
A key lesson involved an elusive force that can bind both individuals and groups: trust.

Listen up

The standard definition mentions "confidence in and reliance on good qualities, especially fairness, truth, honor or ability." For Mandarano, establishing it meant listening more than talking, and facing herself honestly. "I had to start by saying, 'I DON'T know what's going on with you,'" she says. "My approach was, 'You tell me. Make me understand. Nothing will offend me.'

"How do you respond when kids say, 'Why bother? They're going to screw me anyway.' I keep telling them the constitutional rights they have, we all have, and they say, 'Yeah, try saying that to a cop. Try saying that to a teacher.' There's a double standard, and I don't know what to say to that. If a cop stops me, I can say, 'Officer, why am I being detained?' and he or she won't beat the s--- out of me, or I'm not going to be stopped in the first place. I guess it made me kind of sick, hearing story after story. They're just profiled. A kid wears a certain kind of clothing or looks a certain way, and they're being stopped, being harassed, being frisked, or in school they're being talked-down-to and ignored. How would that make anyone feel?"

Doing the right thing

She hates the thought of being labeled another do-gooder from the suburbs. "I'm nobody's savior," she says. "I just try to do right by everybody. It's important to do something you care about ... but maybe I'm not being courageous enough. Maybe I need to talk more with my peers. Some of my peers I can have the discussion with, some I can't. They look at me like I'm being preachy, being holier-than-thou. I'm not saying that. I'm saying put our talents and skills where they matter. Don't just interact with the same people, upper middle class, intellectual elite. You're missing out. So much of our activity seems like avoidance: turn on the TV, turn on the computer. We hide from each other.

"It seems so simple to me. We're ALL immigrants. We forget that. In Paterson, you can experience that NOW, and it can be incredibly interesting and enriching. When I started working in Paterson, none of my friends were doing that. They were all college grads, you know. In '91 they were already working in insurance companies, getting married and having kids. By '97 they were corporate America, upper management. They were already into their careers, and here I was volunteering in Paterson and working with all different kinds of people and, you know, nervous and excited about it. And they were, like, 'You're WHERE?' Working in the courthouse, most of the law clerks were younger, and they'd say, "Paterson ... uh-uh! They didn't know the city. I said, 'Doesn't anybody want to try something new? Go to the city and everything's there. New ways of speaking and dressing and acting. New art, new music, new foods. I just want to know, want to learn."

Still conflicted

She is still, she says, conflicted about race. "Am I being honest with myself?" she says. "Am I really wrestling with this? Am I getting better? You know at the start that you're biased. It can be so ingrained in you. When I walk down the street in Hoboken and see a lot of preppy-looking whites, I feel a bias there. I have to start by admitting what I feel and think, and work at thinking through what it must be like to be black or Latino, to be a man or a woman, to be rich or poor.

"Being here in Paterson, though, feels great. I think that as much as I have these internal struggles, I feel really optimistic. I'm in a place where I get past the surface, past superficial differences. I feel more open, more tolerant. I get to meet people and I get to share a lot of great moments and talk about real needs. To me, that's exciting."

Reach Tim Norris at 973-569-7132 or

...get some sleep...

i love to sleep. a lot. always have. always will. i'm already panicking at the thought of my new job schedule which will take away my late morning sleep time.

today's new york times science section has a bunch of articles on sleep. good reading. and more reasons for me to go back to sleep. jane brody writes about the damaging effects (at every age) of not enough rest.
"Studies suggest that adults who sleep seven to eight hours a night are the healthiest. About a third fall into that range. More than a third sleep less than seven hours, and nearly a third sleep more than eight hours." (photo from

and then check out some musings on sleep, and why we have nightmares.

my favorite sleep quote:

Sleeping alone, except under doctor’s orders, does much harm. Children will tell you how lonely it is sleeping alone. If possible, you should always sleep with someone you love. You both recharge your mutual batteries free of charge. MARLENE DIETRICH
happy dreaming!

Monday, October 22, 2007

This is Leadership

Chris Dodd seems as pissed off as we are. Sign on with your support for Chris Dodd's FISA Hold. Senator Reid, the leader of the Democrats says he will ignore Dodd's concern. And Obama and H. Clinton waffle on the sidelines.

barista boy's look away project

(barista boy's accompanying poem to this project. see the video for an expanded and new version.)

Look Away

Look away
And tell me what you see
Or is it better
To ask
What are you avoiding,
While looking away?
Sometimes it is better,
When in doubt,
To stop and look away
Clear the brain from the obvious
In order to find
A better path.
Sometimes it is another
Way to run away,
Ignoring the obvious
And living in a

I want my Current TV!

Current is a peer-to-peer news and information network. It's TV made by independent creators, anyone with a camera, drive and a story to tell. The good stuff runs on the front page. The really good stuff airs on Current TV, a cable and satellite TV network in 52 million homes around the world. Learn more here and here.

Cablevision in Hoboken does not currently carry the channel but many other providers do!

Tell Optimum/Cablevision to add Current TV to their channel lineup through their online suggestion box here:

W's Job Approval Rating Drops to 25%

Bush' new record low approval rating is 25 percent. Twenty-five percent approve of the way he is doing his job while 67% disapprove (2/3 of the electorate).

To see more results go here. Seven in ten Americans say the national economy is getting worse according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. This matches the lowest approval rating for Bush recorded by the American Research Group.

At this point Bush is clearly on the path to the worst President ever. He is combining Herbert Hoover's disastrous economy with Nixon's cheating and foreign policy fuck-ups. Wow. I think this is the worst approval rating of anyone since Nixon. And what happened to Nixon?

hoboken art: wallpaper contest

Did you hear that the Hoboken based, handprint wallpaper company Studio Printworks has recently announced a design call for a contest named, "Unrolled Art." Your wallpaper design must be Hoboken themed and can involve anything related to the local scene.

The design selected will be featured as Hoboken's very own wallpaper, displayed in local institutions and included in the Fall '08 collection! Submissions are due December 5, 2007 so get going! Contest details here>>

Bring on the Rockies!!

Republicans Boo the American People

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wide Open Spaces

Good luck to La Francaise in her new endeavor
"She Needs Wide Open Spaces...she knows the high stakes..."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Quote of the weekend

“The "democracy gap" in our politics and elections spells a deep sense of powerlessness by people who drop out, do not vote, or listlessly vote for the “least worst” every four years and then wonder why after every cycle the “least worst” gets worse.” - Ralph Nader -

Beyond Irony: Valerie Plame Worked at the CIA to Stop Iran from Obtaining Nuclear Weapons

Raw Story reports: CBS News has confirmed, in advance of a 60 Minutes interview with outed CIA agent Valerie Plame to be run this Sunday, that Plame "was involved in operations to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons." "

Our mission was to make sure that the bad guys, basically, did not get nuclear weapons," Plame told 60 Minutes. Plame also indicated that her outing in 2003 had caused grave damage to CIA operations, saying, "All the intelligence services in the world were running my name through their databases" to see where she had gone and who she had met with.

Raw story first reported on the story back in 2006. The article said in relevant part: "According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran."

This has now been confirmed by CBS who is conducted an interview with Plame on 60 Minutes. Unbelievable. We are going to go an attack Iran right? This seems to be the policy of the United States and the reasons are to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Remember King George's WW III comments. We have agents (Valerie Plame) working to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, yet it was so important to cover up the Iraq war lies that these enemies of democracy (I am referring to Bush and co. here in case I am vague) outed her -sabotaging their own policy that in theory is a much bigger threat than Iraq.

This reveals this administration's hypocrisy, lies and criminal misdeeds more than anything else. I don't believe Iran is a threat just as I don't believe Iraq was a threat to the United States. These wars have nothing to do with terrorism or security, but energy. You can take that to the bank.

This President Should Be Impeached Now. Go to Raw Story to see a clip of the interview with Plame.
I found the video on youtube. See here: