Friday, September 29, 2006

Photo Friday: Anger

The anger does not appear in the subject. It is felt by the photographer.

Yesterday, my beautiful 11-year old sixth grader was assaulted on the school bus by two asshole punk High School students, 16 and 17 years old. They slapped his face, swiped this red streak on his face with a marker, threw water at him, hit him in the head with a water bottle, and twisted his arm.

Why? Because he would not give up his seat. He refused to give into their threats, to their "get the fuck up" bullying. My son knows who Rosa Parks is and he was channeling her. He's also a rule follower, and refused to get out of his seat while the bus was moving.

The driver had no idea what was happening, as this took place towards the back of the bus and there was a lot of commotion up front that prevented her from hearing anything. Of course, none of the other kids came to his rescue either.

LUCKILY, I was home sick from work yesterday and here when he arrived, traumatized.

I've made all the necessary contacts to ensure that these kids don't ride the bus again. Including calling the police, so their parents also know that they cannot fuck with me or my kid. School assures me they will be suspended as well.

Thankfully, he's in a wonderful program with great teachers and a support system of social workers and psychologists to help him work through it. The principal offered to ride the bus today to ensure his safety, but I just got a message that the perps won't be on the bus today.

And so... how timely is this Photo Friday theme? Are you angry too?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"Mommy, Where Do Stereotypes Come From?"

A rerun, but one of my personal favorites.

mom, joey and cheech

As I pored over the vintage photos of my mother, this one made me laugh out loud. Taken in 1943, it features her in a fur coat (gee, what happened to the "we were so poor" stuff?), flanked by Joey Vannera and "Cheech". Joey was clearly an upstanding citizen, fighting for his country. "Cheech" on the other hand... I'm not sure if he worked in waste management or was about to go "psssst!", open his coat and try to sell me the letter "R".

The photo was taken on Central Avenue in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. These days, it would be wise not to venture down to Central Avenue unless you're in full body armor, carrying an Uzi. Both of my parents grew up there and at the time it was a mecca for Italian immigrants and the home of Murder, Incorporated. As kids we'd love hearing stories about the old neighborhood, and always giggled when my father talked about his school days at "Fourteen Holy Martyrs". Those Catholics. Sure know how to lift the spirits! (We used to love making up church names like "Our Lady of the Festering Boils".)

When my parents got married they bought a house in Brooklyn, but far from Central Avenue. Still, every other Sunday we'd go back to have that ginormous Italian gastronomic marathon known as "dinner" at my father's parents' apartment. It was on the third floor of a rowhouse above my grandfather's barbershop. My cousins and I loved the barbershop because we could sneak down there and peek at the dog-eared, half-hidden Playboy magazines.

The neighborhood was still decent in the 60s, although it was not uncommon to see women, their ample arms and bosoms supported by pillows, leaning out of upper floor windows screaming at their kids. They weren't necessarily angry, they just screamed. (My mother, fancying herself several cuts above the women she grew up with, refused to scream for us. Instead, she'd stand outside our house and clap her hands as loudly as she could manage. We would collapse in fits of laughter but NEVER respond to it.)

Occasionally my father would drive my sisters and me past a daunting old building surrounded by a brick wall with a barbed wire necklace. The message was that if we didn't behave he would deposit us here, at the House of Good Shepherd, the "home for wayward girls". Or better yet, he'd threaten us with "Johnson Avenue"... and drive us slowly past its silent slaughterhouses. (Note to parents: Dramatic threats of drawing and quartering do not prevent your children from going hog wild as teenagers.)

As the years went by and the neighborhood began to deteriorate, our relatives moved to Queens or Long Island... one by one. By the early 70s no one remained...well, almost no one. My father's Aunt Mary, emotionally destroyed when her son was declared missing-in-action during World War II, refused to leave. She was sure that her son would come home one day and wanted to be there to greet him. She died waiting.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Greyhound Planet Week

Don't know how I forgot to blog this, but there's still one day left to do something good for a greyhound!! Click here for more info!

(not my dogs, but I love this photo!)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Photo Friday: Girl

This photo was taken by my son two years ago, at age 9, when he took a photography class. Of course, my FAVORITE shots from that class were taken of the photography teacher (whom I hope to god doesn't make his way to this blog!). Check out this old post, entitled My Son Lucas, Crack Photographer.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Panthergirl's Pan of the Week: The Black Dahlia

I don't get out to the movies much. Yesterday, my son was going out with a friend and his mom, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to see a grown-up film. I *really* wanted to see "Little Miss Sunshine", but I couldn't find anyone to go with me and it's so much more fun to see a funny movie with somoene else. So, I opted for The Black Dahlia.

Three words SHOULD have given me a clue. Brian. De. Palma. What a jumbled mess...when it wasn't completely incoherent, it was laughably absurd (and don't tell me it was intentional... I know camp. This was just BAD.) There was one moment in a scene that was homage to "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" where you hear a cuckoo clock in the background. I'm sure THAT was supposed to be humorous...but it wasn't enough to save this slop-fest of a movie. (Hilary Swank did seem to enjoy her romp as a femme-fatale, and that was fun to watch.)

The real-life crime is still unsolved, yet the film ties it up in a neat (ok, bloody) little bow at the end. Don't bother waiting for it to come out on DVD. Even the close-captioning won't help make heads or entrails out of this one.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Photo Friday: Bright

A bright, beautiful morning atop Mount Battie in Camden, Maine last weekend.

Thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes. It's been a crazy work week, plus my daughter Emma came to visit for a few days, hence the dearth of blogging and blog-reading. I'm home sick/exhausted today so maybe I'll get some time to catch up.

A few brief soundbites:

I have finished watching ALL of Seasons One and Two of Grey's Anatomy. Oh my god. What an incredible show. Pop Culture Geek Note,: I believe that since Peter Horton (formerly Gary on thirtysomething) is the executive producer and often director of the show, the fact that there is a character named "Addison Shephard" is not an accident. I think it's a nod to another popular '80s staple, "Moonlighting" in which Bruce Willis' David Addison played opposite Cybill SHEPHERD's character. Coincidence? I don't think so. Who names a kid "Addison"?
Edited to say: What am I saying?? Gary on "thirtysomething"'s last name was Shepherd!!! That's it! David Addison and Gary Shepherd!

Was the season premiere of "Nip/Tuck" over the top or what? Even for "Nip/Tuck"? I haven't watched the second episode yet.

New shows I'm looking forward to: Brothers and Sisters (another "thirtysomething" alum, Ken Olin is an executive producer. Have I mentioned how much I loved "thirtysomething"?), and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip". Looks good but could go either way. "America's Next Top Model"... the best in guilty-pleasures.

Movies I'm looking forward to: "The Black Dahlia" and "Running with Scissors". And I still want to see "Little Miss Sunshine" and "An Inconvenient Truth".

"All My Children" is getting really good, speaking of guilty-pleasures.

Hey HBO... when are "Rome" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" coming back?

Everyone who thinks I need a social life please raise your hand.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Photo Friday: Boy

During our WONDERFUL weekend in Camden, son who is normally too timid to ride a RAZOR scooter actually rode in and FLEW a seaplane!!

For the rest of the weekend photos...go here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Loss of Innocence

I am rerunning this post from last 9/11, partly because I will be away until Tuesday and also because I wanted to add the video that I created from still photos I took a few days afterwards.

We were never safe. We just thought we were, and it's hard to remember what that felt like. As significant as BC and AD, 9/11 changed everything.

I've always been a morning news person, usually flipping on the TV as I get dressed for work, background music to the routine of my daily life. For some unknown reason, that day I got up, got Lucas and Emma off to school and went to work without turning on the television or even the radio in my car. (Because I work in CT, we had moved from the city to be closer to my job in 1995.)

A few months earlier, in July of 2001, I was heavily into the online dating thing and met a man who lived in Perth, Australia. As online relationships often do, it quickly progressed into a romance and he decided to make the 10,000 mile trip to see me in October. One of the plans we made was to go to the nightclub at the top of the World Trade Center. Since he had never been to NYC, he was excited not just to meet me, but to enjoy the city and see everything that he had only read about all his life.

On the morning of 9/11, as I drove to work, my cellphone rang. It was Roy, telling me that a plane had hit the towers. I started laughing, thinking that he was pulling my leg because of the plans we had made. He kept trying to tell me what had happened, and I almost hung up on him. Then, he told me about the Pentagon and my stomach fell. I knew, then, that he was serious. And that we as a nation were in trouble.

I don't remember the rest of the drive to work. I got there and stood in the lobby of our building, watching CNN on the plasma screen TV and seeing the towers fall. I remember one of the marketing managers saying, "We need to kill the fuckers!" We all stood there in shock, not knowing what was really happening, seeing the images of an enormous dust cloud chasing frantic crowds around narrow street corners. We tried to think of people we knew who worked in the towers, or who may have had meetings there that day. Mostly I remember thinking that this was it. That World War III had started and my children would not live to adulthood.

If you did not live in NYC or the tri-state area at that time, there are memories I can only try to describe to you. In the days that followed the attacks, the weather was almost inappropriately beautiful, and the skies without ANY air traffic left us in an eerily quiet state. Like when the power goes out in your house and all the white-noise is gone. People were extraordinarily kind to each other. We looked into each others eyes and felt a connection like never before.

Having grown up in the city and spent most of my adult life living in Manhattan and Brooklyn, I had to get down there as soon as I could. I wanted to hug my city. On the Sunday after the attacks, I took the train to Grand Central, with my camera and a notepad to record my experience. As the train made its way to the city, the doors opened at one stop and several menacingly loud "gangsta" guys got on the train and started banging on the doors, seeming to enjoy the fear that they could so easily instill in the passengers whose nerves were already frayed. The rise in adrenalin was plapable. The big bad thing had happened. Now, anything was possible. We got to the city without incident.

I walked from Grand Central Station to Canal Street, which is probably about three miles, taking pictures as I went. There was still a sense of hope, that the moms and dads and brothers and sisters and children on the flyers might somehow be found. But the prevailing sentiment, the most powerful and overwhelming hope, was that our government would not use this event, use our pain and our loss, to start a war.

There were two songs I heard that day as I walked. One was Kate Smith singing "God Bless America" (what this little boy is listening to on a gramophone in Washington Square Park).

The other was John Lennon, pleading that we "Give Peace a Chance."

Here's the video I made. Wish I could say "enjoy".

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Adventures in Bad Parenting

In between marathon Grey's Anatomy viewing (I'm up to Season 2, episode 14!), I managed to get out and play some tennis with my son this weekend. Oh, how I wish I had a bronzed "Spearsie" statue to award to a fellow on the next court! He was playing doubles with what appeared to be his teenaged son and two other boys in their teens. What a good dad! Right.....? WRONG! See, in addition to this teenaged son, he had a baby daughter. An infant, about 8 months old. Who was on his left hip as he thwapped his forehands, backhands and even an approach shot or two. Better yet, the MOM was sitting with friends at a picnic table nearby, cooing "Oh look...he's got the baby on the tennis court!" (He was probably doing this in honor of Steve Irwin, another "Spearsie Award" nominee.)

And just when I thought he was this week's top prize winner, I overheard a mom in the next dressing room at Macy's yesterday as I tried on dresses for this weekend's wedding in Maine. She was apparently shopping for clothes with what sounded like a 9 year old ("Mom, I think your bra is on upside down.") and a 6 year old who was wearing a princess tiara. How do I know that? Because Princess asked for a piece of gum and Mommie Dearest screamed "IF YOU ASK FOR GUM AGAIN I'M GOING TO SMACK YOUR FACE AND THEN I'M GOING TO STOMP ON YOUR LITTLE CROWN!" (Unless the kid's name was "Jill", I'm thinking plastic tiara with rhinestones).

See what an upside down bra will do to someone?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

What I Did on My Labor Day Weekend

Due to everyone I know *loving* this show, and wanting to watch season 3 when it premieres, I rented Season One from Netflix and watched the WHOLE THING yesterday and last night (actually until 2AM this morning). I'm hooked. I love it.

I love it so much that I can't possibly wait until 9/12 for the second season to come out on DVD, so I've been downloading the episodes (each one takes about 3 hours) and have watched the first two already.

Did I also mention how much better it is to watch network shows on DVD? (Lest you think I've given up on my diet and exercise, think again. I can take a DVD to the gym and watch it while I'm doing cardio. I love my gym because each cardio thing has it's own private TV/DVD player. Awesome!)

Anyway...if you haven't watched Grey's're missing something very good. Much better than ER, IMO.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Perfect Post - A Day Late

My sincere apologies to Metro Dad, to whom I've awarded August's

A Perfect Post.

I was supposed to post this yesterday but since I was on vacation this week I forgot it was Friday...blah blah blah. There's no good excuse.

Just go read his perfect post, and tell him I sent ya.