Tag Archives: Christmas gifts

The nitty gritty holidays in my neck of Ward Street…

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Rosalie’s Ward Street, 11/16/2016.   pics:R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

This year the holidays, here on Ward Street, the street I’ve lived on for almost four years, will be family-focused, spiritual, fun …  and laced with used syringes and cum-filled condoms. Don’t forget the broken beer bottles and a brick or two, wrapped in silk scarves!

This Thanksgiving our sidewalks are teeming with the stuff of addiction and lust … and violence. Last year we had the drug house next door – Heroin Depot, manned by tight-lipped 22-year-old guys (all business) with guns and Mercedes and Lexus SUVs.  When the stateys and the WPD Vice Squad, wearing their bullet proof vests and their guns, their German Shepherd dogs by their sides, finally made the bust, a machine gun was removed from the premises – along with the usual thousands of dollars in cash and (of course) bags of heroin. One of the guys, once annoyed at my neighbor’s son, cooly flashed his gun to show him who was boss – in front of the man’s three-year-old boy.

This holiday season things feel decidely tamer. These days, my downstairs neighbor, when entering our building at night, has had to walk past – more like navigate through – people sitting on our front steps enjoying the orgasmic heroin high. No big time killers running a lucrative drug biz – just your run of the mill junkies – floating high above Ward Street, as high as the giant moon, to get to a better, oblivious place, having shot up their smack minutes ago. They did this openly and they did not give a damn if they were on private property and my neighbor had to trip over them to get to her apartment. Every time this has happened my neighbor has said nothing. She puts her key into  our front door lock, opens the front door to our building and heads upstairs.

The next day she finds the junkies’ used syringes by her car, in her parking space in our teeny parking lot by our building. Along with used condoms. Which makes me think someone prostituted her/himself to get the smack and shot up IMMEDIATELY afterwards. Because that’s addiction for ya. It decimates your self respect. People fucking on our sidewalk for heroin or in (ha!) the St. Mary’s (aka Our Lady of Czetchowa) precious parking lot (see my previous posts) or sadly, for me, in the entrance of the church’s separate, stand-alone shrine to the Virgin Mary – the same shrine that I, as a little girl,  and my late mom, would visit what seems like centuries ago, to light a candle, say a Hail Mary, and admire the prettiness of Blessed Mother and all her accoutrements: the flowers around her, the rosaries laid at her feet, the votive candles all aglow, set in big metal, V-shaped candelabras, pointing to heaven. She still looks pretty …

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… only now she’s behind bars, protected from the neighborhood, cut off from the people, the people who need her most. This was once a quiet, neat Polish immigrant enclave, now my neighborhood is a hot bed of drugs and guns with police driving through our neighborhood at all hours, sirens blaring or pulsating or silent – depending on the emergency – you get to learn the nature of your emergencies here on Ward Street without even having to read the newspaper or look outside your window!

But most important, my neighborhood is filled with so many beautiful kids and adults who do the right thing EVERY day. Who come out and greet the day and garden in their small front yards, try to play with their brothers and sisters in the church parking lot (fat chance!), walk their dogs (the quiet proud white pit bull and his owner come to mind), drive their grandkids to school, walk to the packie down the street not for booze but for chips and soda. The forgotten Americans that president-elect Trump is supposed to save. The man who’s gonna save America’s inner-city neighborhoods, singlehandedly it seems.

I epecially love the old Polish guy, the last stalwart from the old Ward Street, who lives next door in his neat trim little home with concrete cherubs in his front yard.  Almost daily he solemnly sweeps his street corner – no matter how crazy the neighborhood gets. It’s a ritual for him. I love to drive home at the end of my day and see him outside, head down, work clothes on, sweeping up the flotsam and jetsam near his sidewalk curb with his antiquated, broom/dustpan combo. It’s metal and must be about 50 years old! What stories his dustpan could tell! It’s seen it all: from gum wrappers to bullet casings, from cigarette packs to syringes, from a beer can or two to unsheathed, translucent condoms, in all colors and textues!

The morning after the junkies use our front door steps as a shooting gallery my downstairs neighbor, using her shod foot carefully pushes the junkies’ syringes into plastic bags and disposes of them (I hope in the City’s yellow boxes ); we (cuz it’s my ‘hood, too) pick up paper scraps and beer bottles (I recycle them). One feisty gal pal even lectures the slobs who have the temerity to throw their garbage out their car windows onto Ward Street RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER. Out of her front yard she runs! DO YOU WANT ME TO THROW THAT FUCKIN’ BOTTLE OF WATER BACK IN YOUR FUCKIN’ FACE?! she yells, in her raspy, cigarette-scraped voice that barely conceals her heart of gold. When my gal pal told me the story she said the offending slobs looked dumbfounded when she pounced on them, a little afraid at this late middle aged woman on a mission … they quietly picked up their crap. Really, my friend, retired from a factory job, scolds folks who litter and dump  – like an exasperated mom. Everyone in our neighborhood knows she keeps us all – our entire neck of Ward Street – looking good, sometimes even pristine!

But the next day – or hour! – comes, and someone decides to dump a mattress box spring in the back of the church parking  lot – their old jersey barriers be damned. Or some sweet beautiful 17 year old kid doesn’t like Doherty High School and quits school and finds friends who get high and that seems to be the solution, for the moment. And we add him to our list of neighborhood problems even though he is young and beautiful…

No one here hates the offenders. They make us feel sad…about us, the neighborhood, about being poor and still trying to live in dignity … about the human condition. But the beat goes on. We know that we have to stay on top of things here – always – to keep the ‘hood fairly safe and clean, but that as soon as one problem is solved, one box spring mattress removed from our street, another problem/mattress will be thrust upon us. So we live our days, cherishing the little things …

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… and hoping for a Christmas miracle.

Why I won’t wear wool this winter

By Paula Moore

I’ve been an animal rights advocate for more than two decades, and during that time I’ve come to believe that the animals killed in the name of fashion are some of the most abused beings on the planet. Foxes on fur farms spend their whole lives pacing the wire floor of a tiny cage, slowly losing their minds from the extreme confinement and deprivation. On angora rabbit farms, workers violently rip the fur out of rabbits’ skin as the animals scream in pain. Snakes are nailed to trees and skinned alive in the belief that live flaying keeps their skin supple.

But recent footage released by PETA highlighting cruelty documented at 19 wool sheds in Australia—the world’s leading exporter of wool—and on 14 ranches in the U.S. has shocked even many veteran PETA staffers. Shearing sheep for their wool is a violent process that leaves these gentle animals battered and bloodied. I urge everyone reading this to watch the videos on PETA’s website—and then trade in your wool sweaters and jackets for animal-friendly options.

In the wool industry, time is money, and since most shearers are paid by volume, not by the hour, they have an incentive to work as quickly as they can, with little regard for the sheep’s welfare. One worker can shear up to 27 sheep—or 35 lambs—every single hour.

PETA’s investigators in Australia documented that shearers punched the struggling sheep, poked them in the eyes and routinely jabbed them in the face with sharp clippers, leaving them bleeding. In the investigative footage, one sheep’s face can be seen with blood soaking the wool all around it.

Workers stomp on sheep and stand on their heads and necks. They grab and drag sheep by their legs and slam them against the hard floor of the shearing shed. The ordeal doesn’t end until the sheep are completely shorn—and many of the animals are literally thrown down chutes into holding pens.

Terrified lambs, taken from their loving mothers, cry out before and during their first shearing. “They’ve been separated from their mums and they’re calling for them,” one worker explained. “They’re going, ‘Mom! Mom!'”

Because the shearers work so quickly, most sheep are cut—some severely—on their abdomen, hindquarters and limbs. When this happens, workers use a needle and thread to try to sew shut the most gaping wounds—without painkillers and in the same unsterile environment in which the sheep were shorn. Many sheep also have swaths of skin cut or pulled off during shearing. One worker even cut off three sheep’s tails with clippers.

The investigators never saw anyone reprimanded for their callous treatment of the sheep—or any veterinary care administered to them. Instead, injured sheep were shot in full view of their companions. One was butchered, and the body was left where other sheep could see it.

PETA’s investigator in the U.S. documented similar abuses. One shearer repeatedly twisted and bent a sheep’s neck, breaking it. At another ranch, workers hauled a critically ill ram—struggling to breathe—into a trailer to be sheared. The ram was left in the trailer overnight and was found dead the next morning.

Most people would agree that electrocuting foxes for their fur or ripping the skin off live snakes and leaving them to writhe in agony is wrong. The pain and fear endured by sheep in the wool industry are just as real as the suffering of other animals used and abused for their skins.

PETA’s videos are hard to watch. If you care about animals at all, they will upset you. But these animals don’t need our tears. They need our action. When you see the word “wool” on a coat label, please remember the sheep who were beaten bloody and dragged along the floor by their hind legs. And leave that item on the rack.