Tag Archives: InCity Times

Exotic “Pets”: Suffering for Sale!

By Jennifer O’Connor

Some years ago, I heard a loud, rather frantic knocking at my door. I rushed to open it and found my next-door neighbor standing on my doorstep with gloves on and a pillowcase in hand.

He had stopped by to warn me that his “pet” python was on the loose, having escaped the small, inadequate tank that he was kept in. As if this weren’t alarming enough, he admitted that he had been out of town for “a couple of weeks” and wasn’t exactly sure when Bruno the snake had finally gotten hungry enough to make a break for it.

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Snakes and iguanas are just as EXOTIC as lions and elephants!

Could I keep an eye out for him?

I slept with one eye open until Bruno was found — weeks later, emaciated and dead, having starved to death behind the dryers in the apartment building’s laundry room.

Bruno met a ghastly end, but as Florida lawmakers well know, some lost or discarded pets manage to thrive.

Florida officials tried every trick in the book to rid the state of pythons and other non-native species. Roundups didn’t work. Killing contests with cash prizes failed. A recent decision by the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to ban the possession and breeding of pythons, iguanas and 14 other nonnative species is long overdue but may have come far too late.

Florida’s war on reptiles can be directly attributed to lawmakers — at both the state and the federal level — who have long capitulated to the exotic animal industry by refusing to ban wild animals from being kept as pets. Just a few years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service caved to the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers, which was fighting a bill that would have made some species of dangerous snakes illegal to import and sell. The proposed list was gutted by more than half — four species were banned rather than nine. The group then sued to overturn even that modest measure.

When you make it as simple as pulling out a credit card to buy snakes, alligators, iguanas and other exotic species, the cruel cycle, fueled by the exotic pet industry, begins again. These animals are often bought on a whim and are quickly disposed of when their specialized needs become burdensome. The thrill of acquiring a novelty pet can wear off before the check even clears.

Animals who have become “inconvenient” are often tossed out like trash or relegated to life at the end of a chain or in a tiny cage; others are passed from one owner to the next. A few “lucky” ones may end up in an already overburdened animal shelter, where they will at least be given food.

Unbelievably, there is no federal law prohibiting the private ownership of wild or dangerous animals, and that includes tigers, bears, lions and other large species.

Breeders and dealers market exotics as if they were little more than stuffed toys. But exotic species have precise dietary and environmental needs and require specialized veterinary care that even zoos, with their vast resources, sometimes have difficulty fulfilling. Reptiles need technical spectrum lighting, big cats require a fortified diet to prevent their bones from weakening and tropical birds need high levels of humidity in order to thrive.

Lawmakers owe it to their constituents to prevent people from breeding, selling and keeping reptiles and other exotic species, not only to protect the animals themselves, like poor Bruno, but also to protect public health and our ecosystems.

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These companies DO NOT TEST THEIR PRODUCTS ON RABBITS. Please support them!:
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“Lemon Tree, Very Pretty …”🍋🍋🍋🍋

Text and photos by Chef Joey

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Joey!!

Here in France, having lemon trees in your yard has its advantages. Unlike most fruit, the lemons do not rot and fall – they just get bigger and bigger! And a variety of uses as is: A simple slice in your tea or a drink, or to season a salad … over fish or even meat! Lemonade is delicious too. Cooked lemon juice is used in soups and desserts …

I am giving you a recipe for lemon curd that also can be used as a lemon pie filling. Because the eggs get separated, I decided to use the whites and make lemon merengue pies. I chose to make small tarts – a conventional pie is just as easy if not easier!

Here is what you will need:

1 pie crust pre-cooked

2 lemons – zested and juiced

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2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp corn starch

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar (more, if you have a sweet tooth … up to 1 cup)

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons butter

4 eggs, separated

(6 tbsp sugar extra for meringue)

In a cup, mix the flour …

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… and corn starch and make a paste with COLD water from your cup 1 1/2 portion.

Add to a sauce pan and heat.

Add the water and sugar, stirring constantly. It will start to bubble and thicken – add the lemon juice keep stirring until thick …

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Separate the eggs and temper the yolks with the mix I to the pan, stirring until thick. Shut the heat off, add the zest and stir well.

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Pour the mix into the pie shell – …

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Meanwhile beat the egg whites until stiff …

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… sprinkle with the 6 tbsp sugar and FOLD the sugar in – cover the top of the lemon curd mix right up to the crust’s edges.

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Bake at 350 F in a pre-heated hot oven for 10 minutes until the meringue starts to brown.

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Chill and serve!

I make a thinner pie so I can use the rest of the lemon mix on toast or scones! Enjoy!🍋🍋🍋🍋🍋🍋

Safe at the Elephant Sanctuary, Nosey Makes Her First New Friends!

By Danny Prater

For decades, an African elephant named Nosey languished in chains as she was carted around the country and exploited for entertainment.

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The BRUTAL training of elephants for traveling shows and circuses. WORCESTER MAYOR JOE PETTY AND WOO CITY COUNCIL – BAN ALL TRAVELING EXOTIC ANIMAL ACTS FROM WORCESTER!

She was denied the crucial companionship of other elephants, which was surely devastating for her.

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Nosey is safe and happy now.❤

But thankfully, her life took a turn for the better after officials in Lawrence County, Alabama, as well as PETA and tens of thousands of compassionate people took action. Nosey was freed from her longtime abuser and sent to rest and recover at her new permanent home, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee (TES). And now there’s more good news! TES has announced that Nosey has been introduced to two new Asian elephant friends, Sissy and Tarra.

In their native homes, elephants live surrounded by family and friends.

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Mother and baby elephant

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Elephants playing …

By this point in her life, Nosey would’ve been an auntie and possibly even a mother. But humans took that opportunity away from her. When she was just a calf, her family was gunned down. She was captured and sold to the circus. Because she was alone for most of her life, she never had a chance to learn social skills or important life lessons from other elephants.

Because Nosey — like many elephants used in traveling circus-style shows — has a history of exposure to tuberculosis, she is not able to reside with other African elephants at the sanctuary, who have no history of exposure.

Nosey Meets New Friends

During the early days following Nosey’s arrival at TES, she began rumbling to and socializing with her Asian elephant neighbors from a safe distance. But recently, Nosey met Tarra and then Sissy through a fence. This allowed the elephants to become comfortable with one another on their own terms, with the added security that a barrier provides. After slowly getting to know one another, the three elephants even met all together — with careful supervision by TES staff — inside a barn.

Elephant introductions at reputable, accredited sanctuaries like TES are careful and slow. This affords each elephant the freedom to learn how to be around others and the option to leave the area.

TES detailed some of Nosey and her new friend Tarra’s heartwarming first interactions:

“When finally introduced, Nosey and Tarra were both very relaxed, and spent several minutes smelling one another’s trunk, face, mouth, ears, eyes, and feet. Tarra showed particular interest in Nosey’s tusks and mouth, while Nosey was taking in everything she could about Tarra! They rumbled to each other softly. The two were allowed supervised access to each other for three hours and were seen on four occasions meeting up for minutes at a time expressing the same relaxed, exploratory behaviors.”

We can’t wait to see Nosey’s relationship with Tarra and Sissy bloom!

Edith – always in style! New spring column!💐🌼🌱🌿🌷🌸🌺🌹🍃

Meet the Hellesbores

By Edith Morgan

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Edith and Guy

Spring seems early this year: warm days, interspersed among the colder ones we expect, have led the the early birds of the plant world to come up. In my yard, the crocuses have bloomed, and the hyacinths are two inches above the ground. The tulips too are showing buds, and the forsythia buds are ready to open. Strawberry leaves are coming to life, and the trees have a slight yellow halo where leaves will soon appear. And, of course, the yearly City of Worcester spring street sweeping signs have appeared in our neighborhood, and we are all keeping our cars off the street in hopes that soon the sweepers will come and remove all the sand and salt that has accumulated along our curbs from winter time.

So, truly, all the signs of spring are all about us. One of my spring rituals, before the novel corona virus hit us, was to learn some new way of displaying plants every year or using natural materials to create something natural and beautiful.

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Edith loves flowers and has them in her kitchen, dining room and living room.

This year, after having kept to myself for the whole previous year, my best friend and I ventured out to Spencer, to Bemis Nursery, for one of their wonderful workshops. I had really missed them, and since I got my COVID vaccine and still wear my facial mask, I decided it was safe to attend the workshop to learn to plant and care for a plant I really did not know anything about: the hellesbore.

There were about 15 of us in the workshop, standing out doors and listening to the instructions – and then moving into the clear plastic green house where all our materials had been set out so we each could create our own arrangement.

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Edith, working in her garden.

There is something very satisfying about getting your hands dirty – and learning to avoid at all costs calling the planting medium “dirt” – it is SOIL!!!

Working in the green house, surrounded by hundreds of very colorful and artistic arrangements ready to go out to be sold for Easter, was greatly tempting. After we completed our own arrangement and cleaned up after ourselves, we wandered through the aisles of plant arrangements, each different from its neighbor, each tempting, colorful, beautiful. Dozens of pansy flats of all colors, with their little faces looking up at us, sat in rows just waiting to be bought … And so many different arrangements, each with numerous spring plants, growing in happy companionship in a variety of planters, decorated with sprigs rising above them, adorned with butterflies or small birds.

And the country air was pure and clean.

We took home several, to keep indoors until danger of frost is past – or to give away. It was a great way to spend a half-day accomplishing so many goals at once.

Many thanks to the Bemis family for this memorable experience, which I had missed so much!
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Happy Easter, from Edith!

Don’t put your eggs in one basket

By Chef Joey

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Joey!

“Do not put your eggs in one basket.” This sentence has many meanings – from relationships to work. It is particularly interesting in this new Covid 19 era – and Easter. Eggs break, as does everything really. However, eggs are indeed more vulnerable when the sides are compromised. Like in life, we have sides: Democrat and Republican, left and right – the list goes on. The year is 2021, like a science novel or a “sci fi flick” from the early 1970s: “Are you vaccinated?” from “it”?

It’s crazy how we have cancer, leukemia, HIV, lupus among the diseases that have societies, volunteers and companies for the prevention of them, and all controlled by CEO’s – complete with staff and full salaries, with no cure or prevention in sight. Years of research, and yet in the United States, they are challenges for the cure. MS is another one, replete with challenging walks to raise funds for the cure, stamps and yet more societies like the March of Dimes that send lovely message labels for your letters … still no cure.

Now we have a two-step injection for COVID – a disease that is perhaps old but only known as a one-year-old plague, with US companies popping out an inoculation replete with stickers and stamps for validation with a multi-mutating (man-engineered?) dare I say “malady”? I tend to think the “Blair Witch” on this, as there are not many mitigating circumstances about what is going on, just speculation.

Europe shut down one of them (vaccinations), they regrouped, added a change – and “boom!” back up and running again. How crazy is that?

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The USA is the ringleader in medical costs for the entire world. The rest of the world has controlled costs and no additional health care costs to the citizens, as their taxes were designed to pay for universal education and health care, as they are paramount to a working society. Not so much for the working citizens of Massachusetts! We pay a 10% fine for no health insurance at tax time. How is that working out for the people with the $10,000 emergency room bill for not being able to pay for health insurance?

My father was diagnosed with lung cancer several years ago: One year and 14 weeks hospitalization, surgeries, biopsies, chemo and everything else associated with it in France, with no insurance, just self-pay. Full insurance in the USA that reimbursed 80%. Total French cost you wonder? $38,000.

I had disc replacement surgery in America – one miserable night in the hospital with a hideous roommate. Total hospital time: 30 hours, and my cost was $43,000 PLUS co-pay and meds. There are 850,000 people in Worcester, with minimal testing or vaccination centers. Europe is replete with vaccination and testing centers – all for free. I was charged $169 at a Worcester Walgreens for a COVID test, as I was exposed to a person that had it and Fallon denied the claim because I did not get a referral. For COVID exposure?! (By the way, Saint Vincent Medical Group does not refer … keep that in mind.)

So, to keep this short and sweet: Stay safe, wear your facial mask, wash your hands and stay 6 feet from the next person. The whole world is in quarantine that has socialized medicine – except the great old USA. Perhaps there is a reason?
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The egg and the basket. Pic: Edith Morgan

What do we really value?

By Edith Morgan

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Edith and Guy

Many years ago, one of the weekly magazines ran some public service ads dealing with the topic: what we really value is what we are willing to pay for. It went on to compare what we pay athletes, actors and entertainers vs. soldiers, teachers and our astronauts.

Does it seem to anyone else that our monetary reward system is completely upside down and that we pay the most vital jobs the least money and those least important the most money?

Our society, our whole species, would die out completely very soon were it not for parents – especially mothers, whom we celebrate with candy and flowers on Mothers’ Day every May. Yet parenting is unpaid work (and if you have ever done it and done it well you know it is years of 24-hour a day work of all kinds) and, while we give lots of lip service to motherhood, we as a nation do not put our money where our mouth is. The U.S. is way behind most civilized nations in its care of children – we are still “nickel-and-diming“ early childhood care, day care, pre-school education and proper healthcare for all our children and families.

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WE THE PEOPLE

We expect these services to be rendered free or for very little money, while we can always find billions of dollars without a question for yet another weapon of mass destruction, for yet another multi-billion-dollar massive aircraft carrier. Meanwhile we have millions of our children who are unsure where their next meal is coming from.

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Many children in America live in poverty. 1 in 5 is “food insecure.”

Those who perform the really vital services in our society are paid the least: If the garbage is not collected for even a week in New York City, it piles up and the rats take over. When the schools closed because of a deadly virus, parents were frantic to find things for their children to do at home. The au pairs and governesses who actually raise the children of the rich are poorly paid, and teachers are expected to do the work of instructors, social workers, psychologists and guards – and to supplement school supplies out of their own pockets when school taxes do not stretch far enough.

But we can afford to pay millions for athletes, stadiums, ever more expensive automobiles and toys to amuse us – and gadgets galore to fill our hours. We reward those who do the least work (at the top – or who inherit and did nothing to earn their position).

And more and more we are “privatizing” vital services, taking the power away from the public and transferring it to those for whom only the profit motive matters. And so we have come to depend more and more on the charity of individuals who work hard to help those they see are in need. But that is a “finger in the dike operation” – for every leak in the social fabric that opens up, several new ones appear. We cannot continue very long to depend on the kindness of strangers and, while we teach our children compassion, sharing and kindness, it is not enough.

It has been written that we have the best Congress money can buy – and unfortunately for too many of our elected officials on the national scene, that is true. When I came to America in 1941, there were two kinds of elected officials: the politicians and the statesmen. It is not too hard to tell who is what. We know who are the real public servants and who is in it for power and money.

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BETO O’ROURKE IS A PUBLIC SERVANT!

Is it not time to really get the devotees of the Golden Calf out of our government?

Go, Worcester DA Joe Early Jr., go!

By Rosalie Tirella

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Rose, yesterday, heading out to walk her pups Jett and Lilac.

I met Worcester District Attorney Joe Early Jr. 10 years ago – at the Flagg Street School playground. I was walking my dog, Jett. He was planting sunflowers! For the little kids at the school. He told me his children were students there, and he wanted to help with the beautification project. Early seemed like a good man, a great dad. Former City Councilor Barb Haller once told me: Joe does a lot for the city’s kids – supports sports programs and more.

So, Early does the right thing. He’s been there for Worcester’s youth – for decades. Drops the charges against the Clark University students at this past summer’s Black Lives Matter rally in Main South. … he’s not the bully that the Worcester Police Department, a department often accused of racism and insensitivity to the Black community, hoped for. Early understood the moment. This moment in America.

The WPD cops – a vindictive, sometimes brutal bunch – don’t understand the changes that are happening in America, in Worcester. Early is Woke. The WPD cops are Asleep.

So …they are punishing Early for his refusal to back their over-reaction to the Worcester BLM march last summer – the one where one WPD cop threw a tiny young woman to the ground and another cop name called another student. Cell phones were smashed. Kids terrorized. The cops came in riot gear, with guns…the Clarkie nerds came with their apple cell phones and youthful idealism – and stupidity. The cops came down hard on the ignorant kids. One Clarkie grad student hid in the bushes, terrified. She was recording HER FEELINGS AND BEING FULL OF BRAVADO – right outside her apartment! She sounded more silly than menacing.

So now it is this for our DA, from WPD Chief Steve Sargent and the WPD: We’ll trash you, destroy you, Joe Early. Not one vote. Not one penny will you get from us.

After ALL THE YEARS OF WORKING WITH A GOOD MAN.

Shame on the WPD cops for being the vindictive toughs so many of us in Worcester know them to be. Shame on the Worcester cops for forgetting DA Joe Early Jr. is a good man who has backed them for years but this time sided with the kids and Black people. And HISTORY.

Now the cops are doing to Early what they’ve done to so many Worcesterites through the years – get mean, play dirty and strong-arm.

Forty years ago, President Reagan was shot, and therein hangs a dog’s “tale”

By Ingrid Newkirk

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Forty years ago, on March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot outside the Washington Hilton. So was James Brady, who later died as a result of his wounds, and two others: Secret Service officer Tim McCarthy and D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty. With Officer Delahanty was a dog named Kirk.

Security was lax in those days. Just minutes before the shooting, my dog, Ms. Bea, and I had been directly across the street from that now infamous archway, visiting the Cafritz building, but my connection to the event was even closer than that. Not only was Kirk named after me, I was also responsible for his presence at the site.

Kirk was a handsome German shepherd. I knew him well because I was poundmaster of what was then the D.C. “dog pound,” which is where Kirk — called “King” then but not treated like one — had ended up. His owners had pushed him through the door and signed a form and were gone. In those days, we took in a lot of German shepherds. Working with the head of the Metropolitan Police Department’s K-9 unit, I instituted a program to save the lives of some of those who had been thrown away as if they were inanimate objects or who were unclaimed strays. The dogs were put through their paces, tested for temperament, and, if they passed the tests, went on to have a new, working life with the police.

There were three reasons I cherished that program: First, it gave those otherwise unadoptable dogs a second chance at life, as many had been so mistreated by their owners that they were deemed too aggressive to go into private homes. Second, Metropolitan Police dogs weren’t kept warehoused like mere equipment, kept in a cage somewhere, as some police dogs are; they all lived at home with their officer families and were considered fellow officers who did much the same work as their human partners. Third, the Washington Humane Society/SPCA was a place often frequented by K-9 officers, who provided a presence that protected the staff from human beings who could be far more aggressive than any dogs sheltered there, and in getting to know them, we learned that they loved their dogs too much to risk their lives. To a man (and they were all men back then), they would rather wait it out than send a dog into a situation too dangerous for them to go into themselves.

After the shooting, Office Delahanty retired on disability, and Kirk retired with him. There was a retirement party at the family home, and other officers took their dogs to it. It was supposed to be a somewhat melancholy occasion, but I remember everyone watching and laughing as the dogs jumped into the swimming pool in the backyard over and over again, chasing each other and having a whale of a time.

These days, the “pound” is an animal shelter, and the dog of the day — discarded, battered, bruised and sorely used — is no longer the German shepherd, but the pit bull, the most abused dog in the land. There are other lonely dogs there, too, as there are in all the shelters in the U.S., indeed around the world. Many were casually purchased from pet stores or breeders then equally casually discarded, which is why PETA has a campaign called “Adopt, don’t shop.”

It may be an unusual way to commemorate what took place 40 years ago, but there has never been a better time to do so by taking in a homeless dog—giving love and understanding, patience and a family, to someone who needs you. Breeders and pet stores contribute to the crisis of animal overpopulation and casual abandonment, but fostering or adopting a dog in memory of Kirk and Officer Delahanty would be a lovely way to chip away at it.

Deliver us!

By Rosalie Tirella

When I was an undergrad at Clark University, decades ago, my cool boyfriend and his guy pals were enthralled by Ken Kesey – author of SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION – and James Dickey – author of DELIVERANCE. Both men were terrific writers, both men embodied the counter culture zeitgeist. And they were alive and well, professors at American universities – Dickey in South Carolina. My Clarkie guys were Dickey-obsessed. They read his books, tried to live their young lives true to the James Dickey Code. They strove to be roustabouts, experience nature, write poetry and novellas, be free, tough, sensitive, literate, nomadic, romantic. Live deliberately. A far cry from these days during which the college kiddos are entitled and pointless, tethered to momma or daddy and obsessed not with writing but with posting pictures they took of cupcakes or fancy cocktails on their instagram accounts. They don’t have real friends – but that’s ok. They just have their ids, egos and super egos …

In the 1960s and ’70s we kids HAD EACH OTHER, quit school, hitch-hiked ‘cross country, enjoyed free love, dabbled in drugs. Many of us, like Dickey’s characters in his novels, camped and mountain climbed and moved to communes or farms and learned about the good earth – and some of us pitted ourselves against nature TO TEST OURSELVES, TO LEARN ABOUT OURSELVES. … Groovy.

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The iconic …

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… dueling banjo scene of Deliverance.

But to me, back then, my guys’ James Dickey obsession seemed over the top. And Dickey seemed very much a Boys’ Writer: camping trips, white water canoeing, wild rivers, lumberjack coats. And those horribly big, clunky 1970s hiking boots with soles that looked like tire treads. There were hardly any girl characters in the Dickey books. The Dickey themes were: Man Against Nature. Survival in a deep, mysterious wilderness, ultimately unknowable. Society’s encroachment on wild America … Innocence lost … the despoliation of the natural world. Man’s greed.

I just wanted to be with my cute boyfriend and eat brunch with his friends at Daca Dining Hall on weekends! Who cared about Dickey’s novel, DELIVERANCE, or the film starring Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty?

Well, here it is 40 years later, and I care. I have seen the plundering of Mama Earth and extreme weather. Entrenched poverty and the ignorant, dangerous people it spawns. Systemic racism and classism. Now a global pandemic – a once in a century shi*-storm that has upended EVERYONE’S life. Black Lives Matter. Donald Trump and autocracy almost, almost here, in America, thanks to Orange Face. Scarier than Scar-Face.

Time to revisit the 70s film DELIVERANCE, today. Just watched it on my lil’ TV: It is still a BIG, terrific work of art. Still raw, real – and shocking. Still relevant. Still beautifully made and acted … Like FIVE EASY PIECES, EASY RIDER, SHAMPOO, MEAN STREETS, DELIVERANCE celebrates the individual …is about people, their behaviors and their emotions. The things that matter.

Dickey on the movie set, was a pain for director John Boorman to work with – a big, hulking poetry professor in the woods teaching Burt Reynolds how to use a bow and arrow. But Dickey’s still great as the round, good old boy sheriff! The film, however, belongs to the four actors, all young, at the cusp of their long careers, and brilliant. New American Cinema. As great as the French New Wave for me!

The film begins with Burt Reynolds – Lewis, a p.r. flak but a weekend warrior looking sculpted and sexy in his wet suit – and his married suburban buddies – Ed, Drew and Bobbie, taking a canoe down a mighty river in the heart of Appalachia. The wilderness is waning but still there. Thick woods, water, sunlight … They are light years away from their cushy, professional, middle-class lives, but that’s the point: in real life they’re salesmen, ad boys – on this canoe trip they abandon their mundane selves to be their free, feral, alive selves. They want to go back to the Garden: hunting, swimming, sleeping under the stars. They drive their cars, rent a ride to the water – and meet the Other America: ignorant, impoverished, malnourished … deprived. …

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The hunger is real …

… Depraved, too. This world destroys the cocky foursome – interlopers – within days.

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Burt Reynolds

When Ronny Cox, as the good and decent Drew, draws in the banjo playing country kid to play with him, that is the last real moment of affection between the four men and the dirt poor “hillbillies.” Bobby – Ned Beatty – is like: Throw the kid a fiver. He jokes about all the “in-breeding” in this community …

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Jon Voight gives a quiet, powerful performance

In no time at all the four guys – two per canoe bantering back and forth – are tested: the river IS wild. Except for Lewis, they’re out of shape, Bobby downright fat. But they meet the challenges and LOVE it! They are feeling all manly – until one night before the campfire Ed – Jon Vought – shyly expresses his desire …for Lewis. He’s gay, he worships Lewis…they are deep in the woods, away from everybody. The single Lewis just ignores Ed, a married man with a few kids, and turns over in his sleeping bag. Rebuffed, the handsome sensitive Ed understands – and seems lonelier for the rest of the film.

The next day Ed tries to use his bow and arrow – and aims at a beautiful deer quietly munching away on some branches yards away. His strong arm shakes, he sweats – he can’t kill the beautiful deer. Lewis hints that he choked. Some guys just do that.

Within a few hours these outsiders, stalked by a few country sociopaths from the beginning, are pounced on. The two poor, scrawny guys are brutal: they tie Ed to a tree, while one of the guys sodomizes Bobby “Squeal like a pig!” he says. Bobby, terrified, white and naked in his shorts, is raped by the man, in the dirt, squealing like a pig. A horrific scene. Jon Voight watches, his neck chafing against the wide belt that’s wrapped around his neck. Done with Bobby, the men walk to Ed …in his canoe in the river, Lewis sees Ed’s eyes bulging and his head nodding: YES.KILL THEM and he slays one with his arrow. Dead. Now the four suburbanites are murderers desperate to come up with a story they can all stick to. They bury the body and head back down to the river … The other guy ran off – he will kill Drew later. The eulogy, given by Ed, is spare and heartfelt: He was a good family man. He loved his two boys. “He was the best of us.” Then Drew, a rock tied to his neck, is let go to float down the river, sink back into nature.

This trip …what a trip. Harrowing. The men are naked – their true selves: Drew is sweet and good. Lewis the arrogant. physical narcissist. Ed the closeted lost soul forced to lead … Bobby cocky and slick – now a victim of sexual assault. You see the trauma in his eyes. He, like his friends – no longer friends after the ordeal – has changed: not for the better.

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The community … impervious to the four men.

Is this movie a kind of parable? Don’t mess with worlds you can never be a part of. Never underestimate the Other. Nature poses riddle after riddle that you can never solve. Who rules whom? What does American poverty, grinding Appalachia poverty, do to the soul, do to America?

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The America on the other side …

A Great Movie – when we college kids, we hippies and flower children – aimed to make our lives art …

🌸🌸🌸Edie – always in style!🌿🌿🌿 New column🌱🌱

Spring is Really Here!

By Edith Morgan

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Edith, last season, tending her plants …

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Daffodils: early spring-time friends!

We have had several really warm days, and even some warm rain, to soften up the frozen earth. But a lot has survived the winter: I went outside and looked closely at the ground. After the debris that was raked away is gone, there are now six hyacinths peeking above the earth in my yard, ready to burst into very overpowering blooms. And shyly, the crocuses are up in little clumps, trying to hold their own before the Solomon’s Seal overpower our front of the porch.

Every year I encourage more perennials to come up around my house, as I know that, since I am 90 years old now, I will not want to be doing a lot of active gardening, but will rather just enjoy things as they come up on their own. And it is always a wonderful surprise, once the snow is really gone, to see what has survived and what has found its way into my yard.

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Butterflies are free!🌼🌼🌼🌼

I can always count on the forsythia to put out its yellow blossoms and, if I drive around the corner, there is a great magnolia that goes into full bloom early, before it has any leaves. My May Apples will send out shoots, and every year they fill the area around my rain barrel a little more. The Solomon Seal fills the base of the porch – a good thing because the lack of sun on my north side really does not invite many other plants to thrive there – except, of course, the ferns that thrive beside the Solomon Seal.

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Edith’s indoor plants🌿🌿 will soon be moved outdoors.

I did try to grow my own mung bean seedlings, and they sprouted in four days, but they were not as sturdy as the bought ones. Back to the drawing board: I have a lot to learn! The indoor plants are beginning to perk up, looking forward to spending the summer outside, where they seem to thrive.

March was the beginning. But March also gave us a number of other things. Of course, we all learned about “The Ides of March,” when Julius Caesar was warned about his coming fate. Then there is St. Patrick’s Day, when we all go green – no Worcester parade this year, but I expect next year there will be a super celebration, making up for the lost year. And, of course, there is the spring ritual of setting our clocks forward (“Fall back, Spring forward”) and “losing “ an hour of sleep.

My bird feeder is a regular attraction, and it seems to me there are more species out there now than during the winter.

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Birdies!

The squirrels are fat and active and come daily for their peanut butter and wheat bread. My rhubarb will have survived and so will the strawberry plants, which have sent out their feelers all through my flower garden beside the house. This year the Rhododendron have lots of buds, so it looks like a flowery summer.

We’re into Passover and Easter now, and nesting season is on full swing. My house sits on a 70-X-70-foot lot, and the house takes up most of that space. So I have just a little room left for growing things. But because the space available is so small, I can get to know every plant personally! I have tried to encourage different ones that bloom at different times, so there is always something in bloom for every season.

But still the most fragrant time is when my two Chinese lilac trees are in bloom, all of June, and gradually shed their tiny star-like blossoms around them and the earth looks as though it has snowed …