I attended Mass this afternoon to pray for my country. It’s one of the few things – other than voting and publishing articles in CECELIA and InCity Times website – that I can do right now about the terrible things going on in Washington DC.
At this Mass, one of the readings was from Ezra 9:5-9: “My God, I am too ashamed and confounded to raise my face to you, O my God, for our wicked deeds are heaped above our head and out guilt reaches up to heaven. From the time of our fathers even to this day great has been our guilt, and for our wicked deeds we have been delivered up, we and our kings, and our priests, to the will of the kings of foreign lands, to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, and disgrace, as is the case today.”
This Biblical passage made me think of America in 2019. Trump’s efforts to ensnare Ukraine and Red China into our political system are the “kings o foreign lands” bringing to our country disgrace.
Not Verbatim Script
Today is also the same day that the White House released a statement drawn up by American officials who participated in the conversations between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to the CBS website, a verbatim transcript was not released, but notes were taken by National Security staffers in order to have a written record of the conversation.
“According to the document, the president said on the call that he would like to find out what happened with ‘this whole situation with Ukraine’ and he said his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani would be traveling to Ukraine.
“Zelensky said he would meet with Giuliani when he visited,” CBS stated on their website. “Zlensky pledged that his new prosecutor would look into the case, and he asked for additional information.
Trump told Zelensky in the July 25 call that he would have Giuliani give him a call and also have Attorney General William Barr call to get ‘to the bottom of it.’… ‘I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I’m sure you will figure it out,’ CBS quoted Trump said as saying.
This document is the proverbial “smoking gun” in proving that Trump engaged a foreign power for his own benefit. “Until earlier this month, Mr. Trump had temporarily frozen $391 million in aid to Ukraine,” said CBS. This is a clearly an impeachable offense.
I think impeachment will not work due to the Republican control of the Senate. Additionally, Trump can pardon himself. Trump is like a Mafia don who has brought or terrorized a jury and is not afraid of a verdict. The fix is in. Impeaching Trump won’t do any good – unless it is intended to deter Trump from future nefarious political activity. That Trump was not deterred by the hell he was put through by the Mueller investigation means he is unlikely to be deterred by an impeachment vote he knows he will win in the Senate.
In the meantime, those of you who believe in God might want to pray for our country.
And take faith that Donald Trump will face a just God. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson’s saying about slavery: Trump will fear for his Presidency when he realizes God is just.
We’ve gotten a few voicemails: Can you review our books, CECELIA/ICT website? Well, not really😢. Steve Maher has his interests, so we let him follow his heart/choose his books to review – always historical🇺🇸/political!🇺🇸😉 Here’s his take on Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate📺:
FIREWORKS🎇 EXPLODE AT DEMOCRATIC🇺🇸 PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE!📺
By Steven R. Maher
There were some clear winners and some clear losers at the September 12, 2019, Democratic debate in Houston. In a display of fratricidal fireworks the Democrats are famous for, some of the candidates unleashed denunciations on their fellow party members with verge and gusto.
Some of the winners:
🍁 Senator Amy Klobuchar was the biggest winner in the debate, in my opinion. She positioned herself as a fiscal conservative, particularly on health insurance, in a race where some Democrats are coming across, to use Ronald Reagan’s famous expression, as wanting to spend like drunken sailors. If Biden falters, she might be the main beneficiary.
🍁 Senator Elizabeth Warren won by not losing. No Biden style gaffes or misstatements here. The momentum is clearly on her side. This may be her race to lose.
🍁 Joe Biden. While Biden didn’t put on a flawless performance, he may have won sympathy due to the viciousness of fellow candidate Julian Castro’s attacks (see loser’s list below). It didn’t help Castro that PolitiFact has reported since the debate that some of Castro’s facts were not true. Klobuchar summed it up best, after Castro accused Biden of forgetting what he said 10 minutes earlier: That sounds like something Trump would Tweet. It should be noted that Republican superhero Ronald Reagan made many Biden-like gaffes – and went on to win two electoral landslides.
🍁 Beto O’Rourke gave an eloquent and emotional attack on racism in American society. It probably helped that he was praised by several other candidates. It seems that O’Rourke found his voice late in this campaign, but better late than never. Remember, we are still many months away from the first ballot being cast!
🍁 South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg gave a solid performance. His sense of humor came through at several points, particularly when Buttigieg joked he’d like to see Trump make a trade deal with China.
🍁 California Senator Kamala Harris made another bravura performance with a witty speech searing Donald Trump. It remains to be seen if she can follow up on this performance or, like the first debate, is unable to turn her good showing into momentum.
Now, for the losers:
👎 Congressman Julian Castro’s attack on Biden’s memory evoked loud groans of disgust from the audience in Houston. We wonder what the viewers at home thought. We doubt people were running to get out their check books to donate large sums of money to Julian. This type of attack plays right into Trump’s hands!
👎 Bernie Sanders acted in striking contrast to his 2016 performance. On Thursday, he came across as frail, less than his usual eloquent self, and as a little bit doddering. Before the next debate, his advisers should give Bernie a hair cut and a nap before the debate!
👎 Finally, there was fringe candidate, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, another bored billionaire. He went over his political platform by announcing he was giving 10 deserving American families $10,000 so voters would see how his plan to get more corporations to contribute to this country is. I’ll give Bernie Sanders his due, at least he wore a tie to the debate.
From Congressman Jim McGovern’s office:
Jim is one of America’s leading voices against childhood hunger …
House Reps McGovern and Davis introduce bipartisan bill strengthening student access to healthy school breakfasts – the Healthy Breakfasts Help Kids Learn Act is endorsed by the School Nutrition Association!
It Would Provide Schools with Additional Federal Support for Every Breakfast Served through the Federal School Breakfast Program!
Full text of the bill:
U.S. Representatives James P. McGovern and Rodney Davis (R-IL) announced this week the introduction of a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives to expand access to healthy school breakfasts for students across America.
The Healthy Breakfasts Help Kids Learn Act is endorsed by the non-profit School Nutrition Association and would strengthen and enhance the School Breakfast Program so that additional federal support is available to participating schools that provide healthy, American-grown breakfast foods to students in grades pre-k through 12. Each year, nearly 13 million children navigate food insecurity in America. Research shows that students who eat school breakfasts perform better on standardized tests and have improved classroom behavior and attendance.
“I have two sisters who are public school teachers. I hear from them all the time that when it comes to helping kids learn, healthy food is just as important as a textbook,” said Representative McGovern.
He continued: “Teachers can lose an entire morning when kids who haven’t eaten breakfast can’t focus. We have millions of kids in this country who can’t concentrate because they’re showing up to class hungry. I think that’s a moral issue – no child in America should go hungry. Period. But I also think it’s an economic issue – kids can’t prepare for a career if they can’t learn because they haven’t eaten. I urge our colleagues to join us in support of this important bipartisan bill.”
“The School Breakfast Program is critical to ensuring kids are not starting their day off hungry so they can focus on learning,” said Representative Davis. “As kids across the country begin a new school year, I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill with Rep. McGovern that will provide more healthy meals to students in need and make this program stronger. I hope to see this language included in a final Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization bill.”
“Research shows eating a school breakfast can boost student achievement, attention and behavior in class, but too many students still start their day on an empty stomach,” said School Nutrition Association President Gay Anderson, SNS. “The Healthy Breakfasts Help Kids Learn Act will support efforts to increase student access to nutritious school breakfasts, supporting student success and allowing children to enjoy a wider variety of American-grown foods with school meals.”
The United States Department of Agriculture provides both cash reimbursement and healthy, American-grown foods directly to over 30 million schoolchildren each day through the national School Lunch Program. The amount of food that schools receive for breakfast is currently based only on the number of lunches served – the Healthy Breakfasts Help Kids Learn Act would provide schools with an additional 6 cents in commodity support for every school breakfast served.
🙂Easy-to-make vegan treats🙂:
When we were GREAT:
Hey, Joe, I got my record player out today!
We know what you meant!❤️❤️❤️ We love you!
I’ve owned this record since I was 19:
I want to go back to my previous post, the one where I shared CANDY’S ROOM with you, by Bruce Springsteen, and write about Bruce:
The song IS IT FOR ME when we speak of Springsteen! Here’s Bruce totally of and in his element: the raw and ready Italian kid searching for his BIG break. But stuck in New Jersey! No escape from its mundaneness! Fuck!! Where is Bruce’s Salvation, THE BIG RESCUE?
MUSIC!!! Of course!
HIS SONGS!!! HE’S WRITING THEM OUTSIDE HIS PARENTS’ BEDROOM! He’s just a kid, but he already knows – the chosen all know! – he’s a genius! He just needs the right connections, the big door to crack open just a little …
Bruce is tough – and tentative – in Candy’s Room. Young and world-weary in her bedroom. Dreamboat – and maybe lout in the early morning light. Poured-on jeans – and WASP sports jacket! Backyard martinis, anyone? Hell No! It’s the Stone Pony, sex in muscle cars or on the sand just a whisper away from the boardwalk. It’s the big-haired, big-boobed Italian girls of the Jersey shore praying to the Madonna for forgiveness on Sunday morning after maybe pleasuring Bruce on a Friday or Saturday night, watching his gorgeous face as he comes!
Hail Mary! Full of Grace!
Bruce and his E Street Band on The River
This was MY BRUCE. Lupine, hungry, desperate: the Bruce Springsteen of my youth and the youth of my friends at Clark University circa 1979, 1980.
It’s 1979. I’m a freshman at Clark University in Main South and sleeping with my steady boyfriend Ted, in love, in lust with his Husky-blue eyes and shiny thick blue-black hair that covers his eyes! Ted’s best friends Joe, Frank and Lance listen to and WORSHIP Bruce Springsteen. They hitch hike up and down the East Coast following him, going to all his concerts and waiting outside stage doors, like girl groupies, to say Hey, man. That’s the way it was then, before Bruce became GOD, when it was just the townies and the smart boys from the colleges all along the East Coast. His early audience – knowing before anyone knew. They were there for every 4-hour-long Bruce Springsteen gig. FOUR HOURS!
Back then Bruce was kinda a guy thing – my guys went but I never did. Joe, especially. Returning to Clark from seeing BRUCE, BRUCE, BRUCE!!! in some shit club in Pennsylvania! Touched by Bruce! Illuminated by Bruce! Inspired by Bruce! He’d start a band of his own at Clark – pretty mediocre.
They saw Bruce before he put on the mantle “Voice of a Generation” and started prefacing, pretty self-consciously if you ask me – at all his concerts – before all his gorgeous, get-your-crotch-wet-we’re-so-fucked anthems – with little homilies! Preaching wisdom to us kids! Life lessons. About family, growing up, leaving home but not leaving home.
And all we wanted to do was dance the night away, drink and get laid! We were 18, 19, maybe 20 – the old timer, of our bunch!
Still, we listened patiently to Springsteen. Genuflected in the Church of Springsteen! Then we ROARED as he pulled at his guitar and sang THUNDER ROAD, BADLANDS or some old rock n roll chestnut. He strutted, begged, cajoled, whispered … sang his wild, sprawling, sad, ruminative Jersey music-poems! The REAL gospel, to me:
That’s where I learned …
I began to write more essays and short stories. Joe liked them. He told my boyfriend: Rose is a good writer! I was floating above the serving trays in Dana Commons! Joe was our clique’s gifted one! He knew … In fact, he was so cool he quit school just like that and hitch hiked across America for the experience! What a thrill when he called me from Texas and told me a Texas story in that quiet voice of his with his little lisp! I long to hear that lisp every day!
When Joe came back to Clark University, my boyfriend and I and Lance felt we all needed a road trip! To New York City! To Spanish Harlem! Where Joe’s big sister shared a slummy apartment with five or six other college kids. They too had “dropped out.” They were in NYC, writing poetry and visiting painters in the Village! This was before Rudy G. became mayor of New York and cleaned up Times Square and hosed off Port Authority’s hookers and strip joints. Ted and I were excited! We took the bus into the City from Worcester – Ted was already in Spanish Harlem, hanging out with his sister and her new boyfriend. She was beautiful.
I remember Ted coming out to meet us … and the boys brushing past the young and pretty prostitutes in their white go go boots (“no corner boys – ain’t got no money”🎶), walking wicked fast, saying NO THANKS! and me, their Rosalita, beaming, running circles around them, throwing back my head and laughing brashly at the dirty peep hole palaces … I was so in love with the city night and my guys … …then riding the gray, dirty, graffiti-covered subway cars to Joe’s sister’s apartment where there were only: stacks of books and three twin matresses thrown on the floor and one queen sized in the other room. Lamps with crooked shades we’re by the mattresses’ corners; they threw soft yellow light on our soft, wrinkleless faces. Sheila picked up the novel she was reading and gave it to her brother: “You’d like it,” she said. More Kesey. We all knew – cuz we were dreamy, artsy Clarkies – that Joe was already deep into SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION!
Then we all drank some good wine out of coffee mugs, and Joe told us that his sister was studying abroad – in Japan – next semester.
My boys: I see their young handsome faces in that crummy room tonight! In that dangerous neighborhood. Their grace and goodness so true – so loyal to me. Treating me like one of the guys, as in thinking I was pretty and respecting that I was Ted’s girl, but knowing I was smart, could talk about books, Bruce, America … as their equal. All the girls in my dorm were jealous! Rose’s cool, handsome boys! They all meet outside Ted’s dorm every evening and walk under the Worcester stars to Dana Commons to eat supper together! To laugh and enjoy each other’s company! To challenge each other’s ideas. We talk hometowns, parents’ divorces, Joe’s dad (a lawyer in Baltimore) arguing a case before the Supreme Court! Movies, too … writing, music, poetry books and, of course, Bruce Springsteen.
He is us.
Home again at Clark from our New York City trip…hanging out in Lance’s room at Wright Hall, with my beautiful boys … listening intently to GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK: 🎸🎸🎸🎸 pic: Rose T.
“… when they said, ‘Sit down,’ I stood up”♥️
Yes, we bought two or more copies of EVERY SPRINGSTEEN ALBUM! Cuz we listened that intensely … wore ’em out as they passed into us – musical osmosis. Joe wrote his English paper on DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN. Taking a drag from his cig (he got an A for his paper – he was our best paper writer and TA’d a philosophy class as an undergrad) Ted said, “Chaunce (our professor) thought his (Springsteen’s) lyrics are good. He liked them.”
Wow. Our favorite professor was listening to our favorite artist! He was into the Boss, too!
I see you, my lil’ Cece! Kittens and cats love to have fun!
Will Your Pets be Protected in a Fire, Hurricane or Other Disaster?
What would happen to your beloved animal companions if a hurricane, a fire, a tornado, an earthquake, a flood, or another natural or human-made disaster were to strike tomorrow?
🐈Review these tips to keep all your family members safe:
Before an Emergency Strikes …
Have an animal emergency kit readily available. The kit should include a harness and leash or a carrier as well as bottled water, food and water bowls, dry and canned food, and a copy of your animal companions’ medical records. If you have a cat, have litter and a small litter tray ready to go. Make sure that all your animals have collars or harnesses with identification. Keep a current photo of your animal companion for identification purposes, just as you would for a child.
Place emergency window stickers – with types of pets and number of pets you have – near your front and back doors and on side windows in case a weather emergency or fire strikes when you are not home. These stickers will alert rescuers to animals in your home who need help.
During an Emergency:
There’s little to no time to evacuate during severe storms or tornadoes. Never leave animals chained or penned outdoors where they have no protection from strong winds, flying debris, and collapsing structures. Keep your animal companions with you if it becomes necessary to move to a stronger structure or take shelter underground. Hold out in a small interior room such as a closet or hallway.
If this isn’t available, take cover under a heavy table or desk. Stay away from windows and doors or walls leading outside.
If you are being evacuated, never leave animals behind. There is no way of knowing what may happen to your home while you are away, and you may not be able to return for days or even weeks. Animal companions left behind may become malnourished or dehydrated or be crushed by collapsing walls. They may drown or escape in panic and become lost.
Know your destination ahead of time. Not all emergency shelters accept animals, but many hotels take animals (most suspend “no pet” policies during disasters, thankfully).
Place small animals in secure carriers. Dogs should be leashed and wearing harnesses. Be sure to take the animal emergency kit that you’ve prepared.
If Authorities Force You to Leave Your Animals Behind:
Never turn animals loose outdoors — they can’t survive “on instinct.” Domesticated animals rely on their human companions for many things and are totally helpless and vulnerable outside, especially in bad weather. Instead, leave them in a secure area inside your home with access to the upper floors so that they can escape rising floodwaters.
Leave out at least a 10-day supply of water.
Fill every bowl, pan, and Tupperware container that you have with water, then set them on the floor or on counters, as just one container may spill. Fill sinks, too. If your toilet bowl is free of chemical disinfectants, leave the toilet seat up to provide animals with one more source of water, but do not make that the only source.
Leave out at least a 10-day supply of dry food. Canned food will go bad quickly.
If you can’t get to your home, contact a reliable neighbor or friend to check on the animals and get them out, if possible. Provide specific instructions on care.
Thank you to ALL THE VOLUNTEERS WHO HELP ANIMALS when climate crises strike! photo: PETA
By planning now, you can make sure that all your loved ones can weather any storm. Remember: The question isn’t whether a disaster will strike — it’s when.
🇺🇸Next Tuesday! Worcester elections! They’re called “preliminary elections” and winnow the fields – Worcester City Council and Worcester School Committee!
🇺🇸Please VOTE next Tuesday, September 10!
🌻THEN VOTE AGAIN in Worcester’s general election – in November!
🐈INCITY TIMES website and CECELIA are asking you to VOTE FOR THE CANDIDATES who care about WORCESTER’S inner-city/older neighborhoods, the poor kids who lived in them, fair housing, ending/banning wild (as in tigers, lions, bears) animal acts in the City of Worcester, a living wage and a SIGNED CBA agreement for the Paw Sox stadium project.
On the Worcester School Committee side:
John Monfredo – Re-elect this guy to our school committee! For all the bumps in the road – especially his standing by WPS Superintendent Maureen Bienenda and secretly buying a huge, controversial ad promoting her contract renewal for 3 years, despite the WPS’s lack of teachers of color and alleged unequal discipline of kids of color – John’s been an advocate for poor kids and families (of all races) FOR DECADES! He was my 5th grade teacher at Lamartine Street School – one of my most fun, academic and enriching school years as a kid in the WPSchools, K – 12! He was the principal of Belmont Community School for years, where he had: a parents’ room, a food pantry, a gently used clothing exchange, a great school library, welcomed all parents! John tried to support the Bell Hill families in many ways – not just academic!
John DEMANDS excellence from our students, parents, WPS teachers, teaching support staff – everyone in our schools. Especially our inner-city schools where our kids struggle in academics, are maybe even hungry, homeless … and their parents go AWOL …
Rose’s copy of a WPSchools must read!
John Monfredo wants:
Universal Pre-K for ALL Worcester Public School students. To get our kids from deprived homes ready for K and ready to read. If kids aren’t reading by grade 3, most never catch up …
He wants to expand Worcester’s Summer School so that it’s more enrichment for kids – especially kids in our inner-city neighborhoods – than makeup time for kids who get Fs or D’s on their report cards. By making summer school wide-ranging and available to all, John Monfredo hopes to stave off the notorious Summer Slide – when kids from poor backgrounds are just stuck in apartments, not experiencing the enriching activities kids on our city’s West Side enjoy during the school summer vacation!
He also supports Recreation Worcester – the swim and summer program for inner-city kids.
Plus, for years John and his sweet wife Anne Marie – a retired Nelson Place elementary school teacher – have run an amazing book drive: WORCESTER – THE CITY THAT READS! They don’t get paid a dime – it’s for ALL THE POOR KIDS OF WOO! They collect thousands of new and gently used books – then give them out to WPS students and schools and inner-city churches, day care centers, health centers, laundromats, dentists, neighborhood centers … they are CREATIVE and RESOURCEFUL – place hundreds of drop off boxes throughout Worcester County, rope in scores of volunteers!
I do not believe John Monfrefo is racist in his whole-hearted support of Maureen B, our current WPS super. I believe John tries – has been for 50+ years! – to teach, strengthen, support ALL WPS students and their families! He knows what they are up against – he’s worked in the trenches for years and years. His remedies are basic but vital: well fed kids, well clothed kids, kids with books, school supplies … a robust WPS summer school program and universal pre-K for the WPSchools…
– Rosalie Tirella
🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈 At the Worcester Historical Museum
30 Elm St.
COMMUNITY FORUM—YOUTH CULTURE AND WORCESTER LGBTQ+ HISTORY
🏳️🌈Tuesday, September 10
🏳️🌈7 – 8:30 PM
🏳️🌈Free with Museum admission
🏳️🌈This forum will provide insight into the current day experiences of LGBTQ+ youth, specifically the Safe Homes and SWAGLY programs for LGBTQ+, young people between the ages of 11 and 24.
Young people at Safe Homes and SWAGLY come from Worcester and surrounding towns. Some are still in high school or college, and some have jobs or attend work-training programs. Topics: trans identity, queer people of color and intersectionality, marriage equality and current queer views on ME, military service, queer sexual health in schools.
Moderated by Professor Rox Samer, Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Cinema at Clark U
LGBTQ AND LATINX HISTORY: HOW LATINX IMMIGRANTS HAVE CHALLENGED U.S. IMMIGRATION POLICY OVER THE LAST CENTURY
🏳️🌈Friday, September 20
🏳️🌈7 – 8:30 PM
🏳️🌈Free with Museum admission
Professor Julio Capó is a transnational historian whose research and teaching interests include modern U.S. history, especially relationships between the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America.
He addresses how gender and sexuality have historically intersected and coalesced with constructions of ethnicity, race, class, nation, age, and ability. Moderated by WPI Professor and LGBTQ+WORCESTER FOR THE RECORD co-curator, Joe Cullon.
Tonight!;Watch this TV Special!
Climate Crisis! Save the Planet!
Want to know what the top 10 Democratic presidential candidates have to say about our global climate crisis?
Hear them answer questions from a live audience about their climate plans starting at 5 p.m. today on CNN.
I called Amy last night after I’d learned about the murders in Midland and Odessa.
I said, “I don’t feel right.”
I know this happens all the time. In fact, this is the fourth massacre in Texas in under two years. And just last year alone there were 340 mass shootings in America. Amy and I were just talking about this same thing the night before because we’d both read news stories about a shooting at a high school football game in Mobile, Alabama.
In other words, this shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Because of our country’s deference to the gun lobby and the NRA at the expense of the lives of our fellow Americans — our unwillingness to pass background checks, red flag laws; our inability to stop selling weapons of war and our failure to buy those back that have already been sold… because of what we’ve accepted, our complicity in 100 gun deaths a day… because of all of this, logically, this was bound to happen.
So what made me feel so sick, so sad, so angry?
Maybe it was because it hadn’t even been a month since the last mass shooting in West Texas, when 22 people were killed at a Walmart in El Paso.
Maybe in the aftermath we all took some false comfort, like lightning couldn’t strike twice.
Because when it comes down to it, we look at these shootings like we would a lightning strike, a natural disaster, an act of God, something you couldn’t predict or plan for, couldn’t stop even if you wanted to. Just gotta take your chances and accept that it happens.
Like lightning, we think about how to protect ourselves despite the threat — bulletproof backpacks for our kids; active shooter drills in our schools; deciding what window you’re going to jump out of, which bookshelf you’ll pull down, how you’ll get your kid to safety or how you might have to shelter them by sacrificing your body and your life.
Now, *you* may not look at it that way… You may be the one organizing the march for our lives, the walkout from your school, the local Moms Demand chapter. But, *we*, we are all in this together, for good or for bad. For life or for death. And in a government of, by and for the people, we judge ourselves by whether we’ve changed this, or failed to change this.
And so far, we’ve absolutely failed to change this.
On that phone call last night, Amy said, “I don’t feel right, either.”
We feel sick for the families in Midland and Odessa. The parents who lost a child. The parents who are with their child in the intensive care unit in Lubbock. The families who are in shock and in mourning. The many friends we have there, who we called, who assured us they were okay — but shaken up. Just left the lockdown at the Target, or the Young Democrats meeting at the hotel, or wherever they were when the first reports of an active shooter came in.
We talked about how there is so much hatred and pain in this country right now. Anger and racism and a divide between us that seems to grow every day. Paralyzing. The sense of common purpose, an ability to focus on what we have to do together to save ourselves and one another, lost. How do we find our way back? I told her about a story I’d heard of London during the Nazi blitz (German for “lightning”) in 1940 and 1941, how in the face of indiscriminate terror and death a city and a nation united in common purpose and common cause. Londoners stopped focusing on their petty differences, their personal disappointments, their private despair — and did everything they could to save the lives of their fellow humans and to unite in confronting the Nazi menace.
How do we approach this menace of gun violence that kills 40,000 of us a year in the same way?
I read something Rabbi Michael Latz wrote this morning. He was responding to criticism that using profanity to describe this horror — the death toll in Midland and Odessa now stands at 7, including a 15-year old girl who attended Odessa high school, with 19 injured, among them a 17-month old child — and our complicity in it was wrong. To those concerned about calling a fucked up situation “fucked up,” he said:
“Profanity ain’t the F-bomb. Profanity is living in a country where a 17 MONTH OLD BABY IS SHOT IN THE FACE…”
He reminds us that we must see what is happening clearly, speak about it honestly and act decisively.
I’ve listened to you as I’ve traveled the country and have written your experiences, your ideas and your leadership into our plan to stop gun violence, which you can read here.
But we can’t wait that long to act. Your voice is needed right now. So here’s what we must do now.
When a victims fund is stood up — donate. I’ll be sure to send a reminder. The family of the 17 month old, Anderson Davis, has a GoFundMe. We know from our experience in El Paso that families will need help with medical bills, the cost of funerals, making up for lost income, and paying the rent. Do this.
Call your federal representative in Congress and your U.S. Senator at (202) 224-3121. Let them know you want them fighting with all they’ve got for universal background checks, for red flag laws and an end to the sale of weapons of war. And if you want them to take the next, necessary step, tell them you support mandatory licensing and a mandatory buyback of assault weapons. If they don’t hear you and fail to take action, you will replace them in this next election (in Virginia, that’s in November of THIS YEAR).
If you’re in Texas, call your state rep and state senator and let them know that the 10 laws that just went into effect today that LOOSEN instead of TIGHTEN restrictions on guns need to be repealed. No reason we should make it easier for people to bring guns near or into schools, churches, mosques, synagogues and foster care homes. No reason we should prevent landlords and private property owners from restricting the use of guns on their property.
Make sure you are registered to vote. Make sure your mom and little brother, your classmates, your colleagues, your neighbors, your friends on Facebook are all registered to vote. And then make sure each and every person in your life votes in every election going forward until we have leaders who represent our values and our lives.
Join a Moms Demand or March for Our Lives chapter in your state.
Don’t give up or give in. Keep up the faith and the pressure. Let’s change this now.
Some Labor Day loveliness …
The working/writing gal’s rock star✨ pics: Rose T.
Jett and Lilac love to hang out in their big backyard!♥️ pics: Rose T.
Another Main South pic: At National Night Out – a few friends from the WPD Mounted Unit. photo: Ron O’Clair
The most dangerous predator in the water
By Paula Moore
Following reports of shark sightings and encounters up and down the East Coast this summer — not to mention a viral video showing a great white shark leaping out of the water to snatch a fish off a boy’s line—some beachgoers are having second thoughts about going for a swim.
But it’s important to know that the most dangerous predator in the water isn’t the shark. No, that dubious distinction belongs to humans.
Sharks get a bad rap. While there are a handful of well-publicized shark attacks around the world every year, humans pose the much bigger threat. We slaughter nearly 100 million sharks each year and consume more fish — trillions of them — annually than all other types of animals combined.
Our insatiable appetites are taking a toll. A new study published in the journal PLOS Biology found that killing sharks for their flesh and fins has caused their populations to plummet across the globe. Sharks are rarer — and significantly smaller — in areas with large human populations and associated fishing fleets.
Another recent study, in the journal Nature, found that because sharks and commercial fishing vessels tend to frequent the same areas, sharks have few safe havens left. Even if they’re not targeted directly, they’re at risk of becoming “bycatch” victims—unintentionally swept up in the nets of the commercial fishing industry, just like dolphins, turtles, seals and other marine animals.
Since most sharks grow and mature slowly, have long gestation periods (up to two years) and produce few young, they’re particularly vulnerable to the pressures of commercial fishing.
And contrary to the portrayal of sharks as mindless eating machines in movies, they actually have unique personalities, and they socialize and form friendships, just like us. Porbeagle sharks have been observed playing with objects floating in the water, repeatedly rolling themselves up in kelp fronds and chasing after other sharks who trailed pieces of kelp behind them. Biologist Peter Best once witnessed several great whites working together to move the carcass of a partially beached whale to deeper waters so that they could eat it. Sharks have long-term memories, they teach each other how to find food, they like AC/DC (google it) and they feel pain.
They also naturally shun contact with humans. But during the summer tourist season, when more of us invade their natural homes, there is an increase in shark encounters. Just remember, though, that you’re more likely to die while taking a selfie than you are by being bitten by a shark.
And while we’re on the subject, let’s spare a thought for the other marine animals who also wish we would stay out of the water. Fish form emotional attachments and become depressed when they lose their mates. They are savvy social learners, develop cultural traditions, use tools and play. They also feel pain.
Most fish commonly served in restaurants and supermarkets are caught using huge — often miles-long — commercial fishing nets that scrape the ocean floors, also trapping unintended animals (the “bycatch” mentioned above). When hauled up from the deep, fish are often crushed to death and their eyeballs bulge out of their heads because of the pressure change caused by suddenly surfacing. Others are gutted while still alive.
Whether you venture into the water this summer or stay on solid land, there’s a simple way to make the oceans a little safer for all living beings: Steer clear of the seafood buffet.
Easy-to-Make School Lunches:
Cece’s a lucky gal – good food, fresh water daily, a loving family. She’s spayed and an indoor-furbaby with plenty of things to do around the house!
So many cats in Worcester, America – around the world🌎! – aren’t so lucky! PETA to the rescue!:
Go, PETA, GO!!🐈♥️🐈♥️🐈
From PETA, more good news:
Progress for Captive Elephants! AZA Zoos Ditch Bullhooks!
August 21, 2019, by Danny Prater
Progress for captive elephants!
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) just announced a new policy to phase out the use of bullhooks — heavy batons with a sharp metal hook on one end — to train or control elephants in zoos. The long-overdue AZA bullhook ban will end the routine use of these weapons by January 21, 2021, and end all use of them by January 1, 2023. In the policy, the AZA states that “bullhooks are not acceptable as daily management tools.” It also says that a “strong majority” of AZA zoos have already stopped using bullhooks and support getting rid of them. We couldn’t agree more.
Baby elephant with circus trainer is hurt with bullhook … distressed, alone – tortured!
Bullhooks are used to beat and jab elephants. During training, elephants are struck, jabbed, poked, prodded, and even beaten with this sharp weapon. Eventually, even the sight of it elicits fear and full compliance. Bullhooks are frequently used by circus handlers, but you may be surprised to learn that zoos also have a history of using these cruel devices to control elephants.
This bullhook ban has been years in the making. Nearly a decade ago, in August 2010, the AZA announced a policy to end what’s known as “free contact” management of elephants, in which handlers work directly alongside elephants and are always armed with a bullhook, as is done in the circus. Instead, keepers were required to be separated from the animals by a protective barrier, except in limited circumstances. In this form of management, called “protected” or “restricted contact,” elephants are trained using rewards—not punishment—and can choose whether or not they want to participate in training. That policy—which was characterized as a worker-safety measure instead of an animal welfare initiative—was phased in over many years and was in full effect by 2017. However, the policy did not go so far as to ban the use of bullhooks entirely. While many zoos haven’t used these weapons in years, a few have continued to do so, even in cases of restricted contact.
This decision marks a watershed moment for captive elephants and relegates zoos’ use of bullhooks — which cause fear and are already illegal in many cities and two states — to the history books. PETA has campaigned long and hard against the use of these cruel weapons and looks forward to seeing the AZA continue to make positive changes for elephants, including by opposing the importation of ones taken from their homelands and families Happy elephants playing together!♥️
English is awash in idioms, from our admonition to “wake up and smell the coffee” to our confidence-boosting exclamation “Break a leg!” These expressions — there are at least 25,000 of them — are not mere linguistic ornaments but form an integral part of our language; they breathe richness into the way we communicate. This was made clear when PETA suggested that we give the old heave-ho to phrases that show disrespect for animals and choose more animal-friendly ways of conveying our messages.
For the most part, we use idioms spontaneously. It’s only when we take a closer look at the words casually rolling off our tongues that we notice that many of our common expressions, like “more than one way to skin a cat” and “take the bull by the horns,” refer to violent acts against animals. Idiomatic expressions have been pulled from all spheres of everyday life. They’re derived from cultural traditions, social norms and customs, including ones that are harmful, such as dogfighting, cockfighting, bull-baiting and other forms of “entertainment” that victimize animals — even illegal ones.
But there is much more at stake than just idioms. As our concern for other species has grown and we’ve continued to challenge industries that don’t have the best interests of animals and consumers at heart, we have witnessed historic fur bans, circus shutdowns, an end to the use of chimpanzees in experiments and an impressive upsurge in the popularity of vegan food. But how we think and talk about animals needs to shift as well. We need a new framework in which they aren’t seen as objects for us to do with as we please but are instead appreciated for their dignity, innate worth, agency and individuality.
If we see phrases like “beat a dead horse” as neutral, it’s because we haven’t truly welcomed animals into our circle of consideration. What is now recognized as derogatory language toward marginalized communities was once used casually and with indifference—rather than maliciously—because the subjects of those terms and phrases were excluded from consideration. PETA urges us to address this casualness and indifference in our own communications. It doesn’t matter that animals don’t understand and aren’t offended by “bringing home the bacon” or “having a dog in this fight.” What matters is recognizing that the language we use to talk about others — even in private, even without their knowledge — is indicative of the level of our respect for them.
Linguistic theory rejects the idea that idioms — commonplace and embedded though they may be — are frozen in time, resistant to reformulation or analysis. This means that we can help usher in changes to our language that serve as verbal affirmations of the ethical progress we’ve made as a society.
Language, especially idiomatic and proverbial expressions, carries us across time and space, spanning our heritage and our future — a vestige of the world we’re leaving behind and a building block of the one we’re crafting. May that world be one that is respectful to and mindful of all animals — including humans — in both word and deed.
Hanh Nguyen is a linguistic specialist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.PETA.org. She is the author of the upcoming book Tongue-Tied: Breaking the Language Barrier to Animal Liberation.
Did you know:
Tomorrow and Thursday: Congressman McGovern to Highlight Climate Change in Massachusetts on 2019 Farm Tour
Stops Throughout Worcester, Hampshire and Franklin Counties
Tomorrow, July 31, and Thursday, August 1, Congressman Jim McGovern, Chairman of the House Rules Committee and a member of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition, will visit 9 farms on his 9th annual farm tour.
McGovern’s tour aims to highlight the destructive impacts of climate change – such as warming temperatures, increases in disease and pests and unstable weather patterns – on Massachusetts farms. McGovern will also discuss the need for Congress to take swift action on climate change to help New England’s small- and medium-sized farms.
🌽WHO: Congressman Jim McGovern, leaders from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Massachusetts Farm Service Agency, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and local and state elected officials.
🍅WHAT: Visit farms and speak directly with owners and growers.
🥕WHERE: 9 farms in Worcester, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties.
☔WHEN: Wednesday, July 31, and Thursday, August 1
🌞WHY: To hear about and highlight the impacts of climate change on Massachusetts farms.
Day 1 (Wednesday, July 31st)
8 – 9 am Red Apple Farm
Address: 455 Highland Avenue, Phillipston
9:30-10:30am Sap Castle at Overlook Farm
Address: 29 Overlook Road, Rutland
10:45-11:45 am Cournoyer Vegetable Farm
Address: 400 Grove St., Paxton,
2 -3 pm Kelly’s Farm
Address: 146 Milford St., Upton
3:30 – 4:30 pm Nourse Farm
Address: 70 Nourse St., Westborough
Day 2 (Thursday, August 1)
8 – 9 am Phoenix Fruit Farm
Address: 401 Mill Valley Road, Belchertown
9:30 – 10:30 am Queen’s Greens
Address: 62 Russellville Road, Amherst
11 am – 12 pm Poplar Hill Farm
Address: 28 Poplar Hill Road, West Whately
12:30 – 1:30 pm Martin’s Farm Mulch and Compost
Address: 341 Plain Road, Greenfield
By Rose T.
Our new neighbors at 9 Falmouth St., off Blackstone River Road … their back deck at 9 Falmouth St. pics: R.T.
… the pale blue two-family right across the street from Quinsigamond Community Elementary School, right outside my bedroom window. Looking middle-class but … my mutts, cat and I … Heck! The entire Q Village neighborhood!! sullied by the RELENTLESSLY LOUD MUSIC played by these new, thoughtless dolts. The LOUDEST music, the MOST DISRESPECTFUL dolts!
Remember when Worcester’s blue collar neighbhoods were grand?
Remember when Quinsig Village stuck to its Swedish roots and kept barrooms and liquor stores off the main drag? When these streets were home to the Worcester Public School teachers who taught at nearby Providence Street Junior High School? Our teachers lived right in our neighborhoods! Before it was all about the Benjamin’s $$$. They lived in these little houses and big three deckers with their families. On Butler Street. On Whipple Street. On Upsala Street. Leed Street, too. They drove old station wagons and had summer jobs at the local miniature golf course or batting cages. They had us kids, their students, if we were good, up
to their houses, in their backyards, for hotdogs and hamburgers cooked over the charcoal brickettes in their round dome-covered, three-legged metal grills. Flying saucers with ketchup stains!
Fifty years ago the families on Falmouth Street, where my late uncle, a teacher at the old Worcester Boys Trade School, lived with his family, would brook none of it: bad behavior. Fifty years ago my Uncle Ed, the street’s factory workers and housewives would never have allowed today’s creeps at 9 Falmouth to BLAST THEIR CRAP SOUNDS, desecrate their beloved neighborhood.
THE SUPER STUPID STEREO noise would get the kibosh immediately.
Unfortunately, unacceptable behavior is the norm for a fat, lazy, crass America.
Donald Trump lies to and disrespects Americans. The tenants at 9 Falmouth St. lie to and disrespect the Worcester Police and their neighbors. And they’re proud of it!!
The times were different just three or so decades back, in America’s Century. As a pal said, inelegantly – after I told him I called the police several times on the creeps at 9 Falmouth St. for flouting Worcester’s noise ordinance so boldly – … he said “Half the street would have been up their ass.”
Strange: even the LOUDS at 9 FALMOUTH ST. couldn’t take their LOUD music. They left their deck, where they were sitting around a table and went INTO THEIR APARTMENT – their MUSIC blaring outside their back-door.
The NOISE. FOR 3+ HOURS.
WPD CALLED. WPD POLICE CAME.
It’s funny: all that “sensitivity” training our cops have been mandated to soak up has left them almost TOO RESPECTFUL of shitheads. Jerks who are breaking the rules, flouting norms, acting out, being uncivilized … They now get a pass because no one wants to put parameters on anything or anybody. They’re terrified of lawsuits.
Today’s Woo cops: multicultural, polite, young. Hopeful. Jerked around by jerks! By the jerks at 9 Falmouth St. who lied to them and made us all fools. The LOUDS lowered the volume of their music for A FEW MINUTES (after the police officer came and nicely asked them to lower the volume) but brought it right back up again as soon as the WPD cruiser drove off.
WPD called again. Volume diminished for a few minutes. Then BLAHHHHH!!!! HONK!!!! WHIRLY WHAT’S IT? MUSIC?! volume turned back up again. This went on for 3+ HOURS! By a woman who looked to be in her mid-30s! With 3 or so young adults seated at their deck table.
This is half of Worcester – the people whose parents raised them stupidly.
The people who the old Worcester – our strict public schools, churches, church suppers, ethnic traditions, extended family, sports teams, the Boys and Girls clubs – would have force-molded into good citizens.
Yes … trained and coerced them into good behavior. Deviants caught by their necks’ scruff to have their ears cuffed! Today, enforcing the moral code like this would send people to lawyers’ offices. Even to label these creeps “uncivilized” is to invite lawsuits and visits to therapists’ offices! We’re trampling their right to be … shitheads! p.s: Lots of these creeps are Woo’s young men who are supported$$ by gullible girlfriends who had their kids (big mistake). They don’t have jobs, yet they lord it over their fragile women and kids and walk around the neighborhood like kings!
As I was driving through my neighborhood – Main South – down Main Street, near Benefit Street … I saw right across from the Beacon Pharmacy a table set up and people passing out goodies. So I stopped and asked if it was the group “Food, not Bombs” which I know had been a fixture at that spot for years on end. I was hoping to get myself a sandwich and maybe a drink, as I was hungry and was out of funds.
To my surprise, it was another group of Good Samaritans, this group from the New Creation Church which just started up at 1241 Main St. in the Webster Square Plaza. The Evangelist is a U.S. Marine veteran. He was there on Main Street with his lovely family, a young and beautiful wife, and a baby daughter approaching two years old, along with three or four church members.
Evangelist Miguel Velazquez, his wife lovely wife Emma, and their beautiful daughter Zariah, nearly 2.
They were giving out fruit cups they had made with fresh fruits, orange slices, watermelon and, I believe, cantaloupe. I ate it all. This day I was hungry and had no funds, so I ate the whole fruit cup as I watched these people perform their little miracles on Main Street. The laying of hands to those who needed spiritual guidance of their long lost faith which they have not practiced due to various reasons, among them drug and alcohol addictions, homelessness, street prostitution, petty crime and who knows what else.
Pastors Ken Reed (left) and Jeff Busby
I saw a palpable difference in the demeanor of those who were “saved,” as they benefited from the laying on of hands and the moral and spiritual support they received from the group and its pastor.
Congregants Richie (standing) and Frankie
The furtive glances, the suspicious eyes were less suspicious and less furtive after having been the subject of the congregants’ prayers. For a better future for the sinner before them. We are all sinners, and he among us without sin must cast the first stone on that comment!
Their mission is to dispense love to those who never quite experience it. Because they face constant hatred from all quarters on a daily basis due to their addictions and the activities they need to do in order to support their habits.
I see this kind of thing every day, and I tell you, I was quite impressed with the way these people received the love offered them! Imbibed of the fruit and water the church people gave me, I went away with a smile. And their were smiles upon the faces of all who ate, drank and were spiritually uplifted. Many are not used to smiling in their never ending struggles on the street.
I told the evangelist I would stop by one of these Sundays if I can and, of course, ALL are welcome at his church. Services are on Sunday’s at 10:30 a.m. In addition to church services on Sunday, on Tuesday there is a Bible study at 7 p.m. led by Pastor Ken Reed and then on Thursdays at 7 p.m. there is a substance abuse meeting led by Pastor Jeff Busby and Evangelist Miguel Velazquez at 7 p.m.
Blue … a Fourth of July color if ever there was one! …
A regal color – like the jewel blue, red and seagull-wing white of our American flag! pics: R.T.
Steady, in a pioneer, arts-and-crafts, paint-it-yo’self (I did!) way … Rose’s bench
Blue is my favorite color! Sky color! Robbin’s egg-shell-wrapped-’round-sleeping-chick blue. The unborn birds floating in their (blue?) amniotic fluid. Rainbow mirage stripe! The color of some wild flowers, too! True Blue like my late mother, Cecelia! Husky eye blue – like one of my Jett’s eyes … Jett!!!
Everything I LOVE!
But outside of my bluejean jackets (so American too!)… this latest one, the dark one, a gift from gal pal Dorrie who’s downsizing and knows all her friends’ wishes!😉
… I seldom wear the color. It’s just not my hue.
Yet I sometimes dream blue candy canes and front door entrances a la Wizzard of Oz magic blue!
Maybe my blue passion flows from way back … to my childhood in Green Island … to when our MIA (for almost a year!) Daddy, came home to Ma, his wife, and to my two kid sisters and me – his scraggly, poor, little tribe living in a big old tenement on the old, brutal Lafayette Street – in a new blue sports car. His wife and daughters who longed for him, lusted for him (Mom), we’re ecstatic – but Daddy pushed us away at every turn, disowned us for months at a time. His least favorite mistake!
But now on this JULY DAY – RIGHT AFTER THE FOURTH OF JULY ! – our Daddy HAS RETURNED! To home and hearth. Driving a car! The most new, beautiful, sparkly blue car I have ever seen! Daddy screeches up to the Lafayette Street sidewalk curb in front of our three decker … handsome, jobless, wearing his muscle shirt. The car was most likely a shady deal/loan…Daddy owned some woods in the country and always used his square of nature as collateral for his toys, his cars, that he’d always lose for non-payment. Like this new blue car. But Ma and my sisters didn’t know that back then.
MA! I yell to my mother from our living room window where I could see Daddy’s new blue car from behind our thin plastic drapes from White’s Five and Ten on Millbury Street!
MA! I scream. DADDY’S HOME!!!
Ma and my two sisters run to the window. IT’S DADDY! AND HE’S DRIVING THE MOST BEAUTIFUL NEW BLUE CAR!
A shiny blue!
A glittering blue car!
A car that glints in the July sun.
A bright blue car that not only shines in the afternoon sun but talks to it! And, really, it was magic back then, to us. Cuz in the wild and free 1960s and early ’70s, when Kesey, in his psychedelic painted bus travelled America, the blue paint (all the rainbow colors) that were sprayed on ALL American automobiles were BRIGHT, HAPPY, GLITTERY. The vehicles were covered in paint that contained a metallic, silver dust…miniscule steel particles, no bigger than grains of sand, that when mixed with bright colored paint gave it a KAPOO! WOW! SHINY, LIGHT REFLECTING COLOR kick to the groin! An acid trip without the LSD! In Daddy’s car’s case: a MAGICAL WIZZARD OF OZ BLUE!!
“CAN WE GO FOR A RIDE DADDY?” I screamed. “IT’S BLUE!!!!!”
“Take us for a ride, Daddy!” my adorable twin sister chimed in, my personal copy kittens💙, running in tiny circles (they’re 6 years old, I’m 9) on our big, threadbare carpet (a hand me down from my Aunt Mary and Mark). “Take us for a ride, Daddy!” they squealed, clapping their little hands.
We seldom go for car rides, as we have no car. It’s walking all over Green Island and Green and Water streets for Ma, my sisters and me. So this is potentially a real treat!
Our father, red-faced, his arms baked too – he was very fair skinned and always sunburned before his neck, forearms and hands turned a bown-red – frowned. Daddy was in the kitchen now. We all had run out to meet our Prodigal Father in the kitchen, where he stood after letting himself in the back door. (It would be decades before Ma took away his house keys.) His red-hot temper seemed to percolate through his reddish brown skin … He looked at our mother, his pretty wife, whose pretty face he had slapped hard last time he was home, before his mysterious leave taking, and said: I got a car. Where did he disappear to for a whole month? We never knew.
Daddy looked at his three little girls in their cheap but cute Mart play wear (no boys! the Italian in him had always wanted sons!), sniff, like a dog would, the hot acrid air in our Green Island flat (just one fan, no air conditioner) and said quietly to our Mother: “Honey, broil me that T-bone.”
My parents must have talked over the phone before Daddy’s dramatic drive up return. My mother, who worked 60 hours a week for minimum wage at the dry cleaners on Millbury Street to feed us and put a roof over our heads, was in love with the handsome Daddy and always forgave him his sins… dutifully walked down Lafayette and Millbury streets to Supreme Market to get Daddy his special welcome-home meal ingredients, no matter how tired she was. A big T bone steak (the best cut), salad fixings, canned Jolly Green Giant spinach (Daddy loved spinach), some sliced salami, and Wesson oil, garlic salt and white vinegar for the salad dressing.
We kids never got steak. Daddy always ate his meals in Ma’s bedroom. He didn’t eat at the kitchen table where he could be henpecked in Polish by our 4′ 11″-high Polish immigrant grandmother Bapy (who hated his guts for good reason) or bugged by us kids (who loved our mystery man) and would pepper him with questions, such as today’s big Q:
CAN YOU TAKE US FOR A RIDE, DADDY??!
PLEASE! PLEASE! Take us for a ride, Daddy!
Our father, quietly cutting his medium rare steak in the bedroom with his special steak knife, said between bites of food: “Not today. Someday. Someday.”
The awful word. The one he used all the time with his daughters.
Our father’s bullshit answer that he pulled out of his crooked hat to appease my sisters and me when we requested something of him. To promise into next month … the future … so as not to upset us, make us cry … to wiggle out of being a Dad, spending time, doing anything with or for the little girls in his life. Now running excitedly in circles, clapping their hands.
As the years rolled by, my sisters and I learned the score … and grew to hate our father.
But on this glorious July day, with
the sky so blue, and Daddy’s new car so blue, glittering right in front of us, outside our living room window, we girls wouldn’t give our Daddy any peace.
DADDY, CAN WE GO FOR A RIDE?! WE SCREAMED AT THE EDGE OF our parents’ bedroom.
“Someday,” Daddy said, still eating his big steak – that my mother paid for.
After he ate his meal that Ma so expertly prepared for him, Daddy walked downstairs … and drove off in the sparkliest, shiniest, most beautiful, most promising BLUE car we had ever seen! Ma ate the fatty tail of his steak off his dinner plate, scraps that he had left on his the TV tray.
But we kids were persistent – and Ma did nothing to dampen our dreams. Ever! It was a sporty Ford (everybody bought American back then), a sporty 2-door, a cool hardtop – a convertible whose black top stayed up! Lots of people drove “hard tops” in the late 1960s/early ’70s – even if they drove big shiny gold Electras, like my Uncle Mark. But Daddy’s car SPARKLED SHINY BLUE like the little pots of blue glitter Ma bought for us at White’s, for our Lamartine Street School art projects!
So when our father returned to our flat that early evening we kids chanted, screamed: RIDE! RIDE! RIDE!
We did this every hour, every day, for the week that Daddy’s flat feet crossed our kitchen threshold. Bapy was in a toxic mood – she, unlike Ma, was not blind to Daddy’s cruelty. Cursing in Polish about dog’s blood Bapy had thown half her hard boiled egg sandwich at Daddy in a fit of pique!
Finally, Ma said to Daddy: let’s go for a ride in the country this Sunday.
A so it passed. As only our father could make it happen … an 80-degree sunny summer day. Ma in a pretty summer frock…we kids in play clothes. Daddy driving up to the curb where we all waited holding hands.
Daddy red-faced. Pissed off that he has to do something with his family. He never does! This jaunt crimps his freedom, his Independence this Independence Day month! Away from his whores and fortune tellers dressed in red…they grab his hand and rub it against their crotches. … That’s what the new blue car was really for – zipping to fucking fun, to assignations all over Worcester!
GET IN, FUCK NUT! he hisses at my mother, sitting behind the steering wheel, his striped muscle shirt tight around his muscular biceps. She pulls forward the passenger front seat and smiling shyly, says: Get in, my girls!
We kids are so excited! We clamber onto the new black vinyl back seat – it is hot from the summer sun – and sit side by side, giggling, the sides of our thighs touching each others. Mom gets into the front seat.
We drive down Lafayette Street. We are heading to West Boylston, Ma tells us. Daddy is quiet.
The windows in back, where we kids are seated, are up. Daddy’s too! Ma has rolled hers down.
Jack….it’s hot, she says
I don’t want the kids to catch cold, he says.
In a weird way, Daddy could be overly protective of us kids. For instance, he was always telling Ma: WATCH THEIR HEADS! WATCH THEIR HEADS!
Whenever we go out to play or to the state swimming pool on Vernon Hills to swim, it’s: Watch their heads!
Come to find out years later Daddy’s father beat him when Daddy was just a little kid, always slugging Daddy’s head. Not beating his nine other kids! My father had to climb trees to escape his father Sabino’s hard fists!
“Jack, it’s July! Let’s roll down the car’s windows!” Ma pleads.
I am starting to get a headache…my sister is holding her stomach.
“Can we open our windows, Daddy?” I say.
THAT DOES IT FOR DADDY.
FUCK NUT!!!! he screams at my mother. Do you want them to catch cold! FUCK NUT, WE’RE GONNA BE ON THE HIGHWAY!!
We kids freeze up … We’re scared now. My sister, the youngest and most sensitive, throws up. All over herself and Daddy’s new back seat. Daddy’s new car smells like throw up.
Daddy is yelling at our sweet mother, calling her the most obscene names. The vomit’s sour smell fills the car. Daddy I now cursing in Italian. He left English a long time ago. My other sister is crying. I am holding onto the side door handle for dear life as Daddy turns around in the middle of a one way street, new tires screeching and speeds down the street. He puts pedal to the metal alright, in his new blue car. We’re going fast. My skinny kid sister covered in her vomit, is red eyed, tears flowing down her cute face. This panics her twin, my other sister, who hugs her and begins to wail. The vomit is stinking up the new blue car. Both my sisters are crying a blue streak! Ma and I are stoic. As usual.
We land back at Lafayette Street, with a faint smell of burning rubber mixing with the vomit smell.
GET OUT!!! Daddy roars at us. And to my mother: YOU DON’T DESERVE THE BEST! YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO TAKE CARE OF THE KIDS!
Ma exits his new blue car, her pretty face red, too. Looking upset – but not crying, never crying – Ma pulls forward her front passenger seat and says: let’s go, girls. We kids tumble out, gasping for the fresh air. We walk upstairs to our third floor flat, Ma leading our sorry, smelly parade.
Daddy, still bad mouthing Ma in Italian, zooms off, his new blue car stinking of his kids, his “family” … responsibility. And that’s it for car rides with our Daddy. For our entire childhood.
After this day, Daddy won’t come back for a month. This time his new blue car’s backseat is covered with old newspapers, cigar wrappers, white bread bags from the Italian bakery – the entire backseat filled with shit. Passenger front seat, too. Daddy was a hoarder …
His new blue car doesn’t look so shiny anymore. We kids don’t look out our living room window anymore to catch a glimpse of it … It doesn’t even sparkle to us. It’s dusty, like Daddy.
Our father will lose this blue car, too, like he lost our love, eventually. But it will take so much more – especially for Ma! – than a Sunday drive gone askew … in a new blue car.
Readers, this song was the inspiration for my column💙🎶: