Tuesday, November 30, 2004
A lovely fall morning greeted me as I steered my bike into the entrance of Prospect Park. A few joggers and walkers were out doing their thing and I whistled by them, wanting to circumnavigate the park for my morning exercise. I sped down the hill toward the lake, my bike building up speed. The park is situated of top of the moraine that was formed in the last ice age (you remember that, don't you?) In fact, all of this area is up on high: Park Slope, my neighborhood of Prospect Heights, Eastern Parkway. That accounts for some fabulous views of Manhattan, looking north over the rest of Brooklyn and the East River.
When I reached the lake I stopped to admire the birds floating in the morning calm. There must have been a thousand ducks, geese, swans and other aquatic Aves. It was a beautiful sight - the morning light, a blue sky and the mirrored surface of the lake.
The lake in Prospect Park.
This little white duck in the middle thought he knew me and swam right up to me. He must have been mistooken or maybe he was just looking for a handout.
Continuing my ride, I took a middle road that led me into the center of the park. I rolled along alone as I crossed a little bridge that led me over the serpentine creek that feeds the lake. It flows through tall grasses and skirts a breathtaking meadow called the Nethermead and I remembered that, in another part of my life, Stacey and I would spend hours here with friends and our dogs. The dogs would run and play and we would sit and chat and take in the view and wile away the day. Now I was rediscovering and remembering the park once again that I had loved so dearly thirty years ago.
I returned, via the ring road, to the the top of the park and Grand Army Plaza. You'll remember from my last Blog the name of James Stranahan, the wealthy real estate developer and civic leader who was instrumental in the building of the park. Now, looking more closely at a statue in the entrance of the park I saw that it was Stranahan's likeness. The plaque describing him was badly weathered but I was able to understand that it attributed the building of the park to his efforts.
Looking up at James Stranahan.
The man behind the park and its first commissioner, James ST Stranahan (What's with the "ST"??)
I was also impressed by the wall that separates the park from the street and the magnificent plaza beyond. Atop the wall are magnificent bronze bowls, each decorated with snakes whose tails entwine to form handles. What artwork for the public to admire!
The serpent-decorated bowls at the Grand Army Plaza entrance to the Prospect Park.
Another view of the bronze bowls mounted on the wall at Grand Army Plaza.
Who created these bowls? I haven't been able to discover the artist or any other mention of these magnificent pieces ... yet. Stay tuned.
My ride was over - just about 6 miles or so. Nice bit of exercise and some more reminiscing and appreciating this 526 acre masterpiece that belongs to the people of Brooklyn.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
... Started out to the bank today. It's on the southern end of Prospect Park. I live on the north end. I took my bike and rode down there. It's just a few miles.
This park is too beautiful for words. It's a haven - a sanctuary - from the surrouding city and its hectic pace. Here, things move at Nature's pace. There's peace. And quiet. The designers of this park, Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux aspired to that: peace and quiet. The city was rapidly expanding in the 1860's and the park was created to serve that rapidly growing population. Beginning in 1858, the two same genetlemen had created 800-acre Central Park. It was the very first landscaped park in the United States.
Brooklyn was developing at the same time as people left crowded Manhattan for the "suburbs." A local businessman and real estate developer, James Stranahan, wanting to attract wealthy people to Brooklyn, urged the creation of a Central Park in Brooklyn. He became the first president of the Prospect Park Commission and hired the design team of Olmstead and Vaux based on the plan they submitted in 1866.
Frederick Law Olmstead was not only a great landscape architect. He was also, in essence, a social activist. His vision of a city park was a place of tranquility and quietude where people could escape the frenetic clip of city life. He had a much broader and more democratic view of society than the Stranahans of his day and felt that these grand parks should belong to all the people not just the wealthy class but especially Brooklyn's poor who could find a bit of the countryside right in their own neighborhood.
Indeed. Autumn in Prospect Park is as glorious as any ride one can take upstate to see the changing colors of the foliage. It has pastoral meadows, undulating hills, exotic trees and plants of so many varieties, eagles, hawks, geese, swans and ducks. Lakes, streams, ravines and so much more. And today it is truly a people's park as Olmstead and Vaux envisioned it so many years ago.
If you live in New York City, you can walk down
your sidewalk or you can walk HERE!
To live near the park is to be blessed. A three block ride on my bike and I'm there, coasting on its carriage roads - free from automobiles most of the time (and if Transportation Alternatives and other advocacy organizations have their way, it'll be car free all the time).
Today, it was so quiet I could hear the leaves softly falling and floating to the ground. Tap, tap, tap -- as each leaf softly landed on top of thousands of others that had already landed. I stopped and listened and just sighed.
I could also stop and admire a parade of Canada geese as their leader left the pond for shore and was followed, one by one by hundreds. It was as if they were flying in formation. But here they were waddling out of the water and across the path to peck for food in the grass. What a sight! The leader eyed me with curiosity and a little caution before he continued his pilgrimage.
This guy on the right was leading hundreds of Canadian Honkers on a parade from pond to lawn in search of food.
Two by two, up out of the water and onto shore, playing follow the leader. This went on until the lake seemed to be cleared of a hundred or so geese on some sort of pilgrimage.
This is also a park that is entwined with the history of our borough, city and country. Riding around the park roads I came across a statue of ---
Irving. Mind you this is not just "Irving" but Irving, period!
A little Googling tells me that this is J. Wilson McDonald's representation of American author Washington Irving (1871). I guessed it was him. The statue sits across the carriage road from the Concert Grove.
Still further along is a plaque commemorating Battle Pass. Part of the Battle Of Brooklyn transpired here. That fight was the first of the Revolutionary War and the largest in terms of casualties. The British won that one but went on to lose the war.
A plaque commemorating Battle Pass where the Battle Of Brooklyn was fought.
Biking along brings me more astounding views of the fleeting foliage. I'm back at the top of the park now, where I started an hour before. I've been through this park many times before but now that I'm living nearby it seems new all over again. I'm looking forward to exploring it in depth and discovering its hidden secrets and treasures. I've fallen in love with Prospect Park.
Many trees have given up their leaves by late November. This one is still ablaze.
Standing here, quietly, I could hear the leaves hit the ground as they floated to earth.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Well Election Day came and went but the battle continues. While we were defeated (or as many feel - while the election was stolen once again - and the evidence is mounting daily that, indeed, it was) and are in a much worse position for advancing the people's struggle, nevertheless the battle continues...now on a different playing field with different tactics than we used during the election.
I participated, as readers of this journal well know, in a very exciting campaign. Frank Barbaro, a long-time friend and a life-long fighter for the people's needs, ran a strong and principled campaign in Staten Island and Brooklyn's 13th CD. The aim - to unseat one of the more right-wing members of Congress, Vito Fossella. Frank ended up with 42% of the vote - not a poor showing by any means. Two years ago the Democratic challenger didn't even reach 30% against Fossella. Frank ran on a solid progressive agenda and came close to winning. Message to the Democratic Party: you better look at the significance of Frank Barbaro's campaign. Frank did not move to the right as is the mantra of many of those in the Democrats. He stood and fought the good fight and people responded. We won in Brooklyn but lost in Staten Island, particularly the more conservative south shore. But even there inroads were made.
When people scratch their heads and wonder how working people can vote for the likes of a George Bush whose polices are so inimical to their self-interests they should look to the Barbaro campaign for answers. Speak to people's interests with plain talk and without prevarication and shifting positions based on the latest polls and the handlers (fancy, high-paid campaign managers) mandates. Frank was a very clear cut alternative to the right wing, anti-labor policies and activites of Fossella and he made it known. For that he received 42% of the vote on a campaign that had a tiny fraction of the resources and money of the incumbent.
We had a volunteers thank you party at the home of Joy Whelan on Friday night. It was a wonderful affair. Joy's house was packed with some of the many, many people who participated in the campaign. Henry Foner sang the Barbaro campaign song (that he composed). Eddie Kay and Frank and others addressed the crowd. Food and drink was plentiful. Frank pledged to continue fighting the good fight and not to allow the base that had been built from this campaign to dissolve. Onwards!
Henry Foner gives a rousing performance of the Barbaro campaign song that he composed.
Eddie Kay introduces Frank.
Frank says thanks to the volunteers.
A cake for the candidate.
Patty Barbaro looks on as Frank pledges that the progress made through his campaign must not be lost.
Staten Island Field Manager, Mike Boland.
Liz Pitt, Brooklyn Field Manager, gives her thoughts on the campaign.
Mike Boland and Ray Whelan - Staten Island heroes of the campaign!
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
I've been amazed by two movies I've seen in the last few days. First, Motorcycle Diaries, the story of young Che Guevara's trip with a college buddy through the spine of Latin America. From a travel viewpoint alone, this film is worth seeing. The montage of rural and mountainous Argentina and Chile is awesome. I felt like I was on the motorcycle with two young guys as they travel from town to town and from adventure to adventure.
But there's more than mere travelogue here. It's also a glimpse into the formative years of a young man who would become a great revolutionary in his later years. There's no heavy politics here. But you see a young man of privilege from a wealthy family who, in his travels in the hinterlands, begins to understand the class nature of society and its oppression of vast numbers of the population. Che's youthful sympathy for the downtrodden and poor for the racially oppressed mestizo is more and more evident as he moves toward his destination of Venezuela at the northern end of the continent.
This is a wonderful movie with irresistable acting. Directed by Walter Salles, it features Gael Garcia Bernal as the young Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, a sultry, sexy and sensitive young medical student. His comrade-in-travel, Alberto Granado, is played delightfully by Rodrigo de la Serna. Interestingly, the film was produced by Robert Redford.
Rodrigo de la Serna playing the adorable Alberto. You have to love him.
Gael Garcia Bernal as the young Ernesto Guevara de la Serna ... later to become Che.
The two youths begin their journey in 1952. Ernesto is 23 and Alberto, 29. They climb onto Alberto's La Poderosa, a 1939 Norton motorcycle, way past its prime, and head off in search of the real Latin America.
Watching this brought me back to a cross country trip I took with my friend Lonnie in the mid 60's. Hardly to be compared but, nevertheless, filled with the same joy of being young and on the road and looking to find ourselves. The background of our trip was the incipience of the peace movement that would sweep through our country a few years later.
Make an effort to see this film before it disappears from the theaters.
After the movie, we ate at a great Cuban restaurant on East 17th Street: Havana Central. That was a treat. Great mojito (that's a Cuban drink made from rum, macerated mint, sugar, seltzer and lime. The food was super: I had Pernil which is a Cuban roast pork that's been rubbed and soaked in a garlic/salt mix for hours and then cooked. Wow. Also, great rice and beans (your choice - red or black). My brother-in-law Peter had a seafood mariscada (like a stew or soup of clams, mussels, fish and shrimp in a wonderful garlic sauce). Joining us, besides Peter, were Lori and Gail. Between the movie, the dinner and the company we had a very lovely evening.
Lori and Gail at Havana Central on East 17th Street.
Havana Central at 22 East 17th Street - great mojitos. Great food.
We've been using the subway much more now that we're only two stops into Manhattan. After dinner at Havana Central we walked over to Union Square for the Q back to Brooklyn. And in 25 minutes we were walking up Park Place to our apartment. Cool.
Stacey waiting for a late night Q at Union Square.
The other film I saw this week was Ray - the exquistely told story of the life and music of Ray Charles. This is a magnificent film that moved me to tears many times. It is filled with the pathos and trials of this outstanding musical genius who struggled to achieve greatness against the overwhelming odds of extreme poverty, racism, exploitation, blindness and drug addiction. Beautifully crafted and photographed, filled with marvelous flashbacks of early 20th century life in a horribly poor Black township in Florida, it shows the artist, warts and all, strengths and weaknesses. The film is almost three hours long but I was held spellbound throughout. The depiction of African-American life is done with humanity, dignity and warmth. Particularly stirring is the portrayal of Ray Charles' mom - a single mother who drudgingly works herself to the bone but never fails in her loyalty to her children and who, with such a proud and moral stature, instills in Ray the strength that allows him to rise above what seems to be insurmountable roadblocks.
This film has to win many Oscars. Jamie Foxx plays Charles with such fidelity that you feel you're watching the real man. Go see it.
Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles. He deserves the Oscar for this brilliant and very moving portrayal. And, oh yes, the musical score is fabulous.
Pumpkin continues to make progess in adjusting to her new surroundings. She can be found on our bed, on a plush chair in our bedroom, on our new white sofa, on our coffee table or on any horizontal surface on which she can spread her flocculant self . Usually, spread out on her back. My only question is, dear cat, why do you enjoy looking at the world upside down? Do you know something I don't?
Pumpkin makes herself at home. After all, it's her house.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Spent a weekend in the country at our friends' house: the home of Monique and Lonnie. The occasion for the visit upstate was the once-a-month country antiques auction held at the Old Red Barn in the hamlet of Cuddebackville, NY. Every first Saturday of the month this sale attracts a hundred or so folks who bid on various items. Real bargains can be had here. This time we were on the hunt for dining chairs for our new apartment -- and we found them.
The action was hot and heavy at the monthly Old Red Barn Auction in upstate Cuddebackbackville.
There were four, three-legged, spindle-back chairs that were very handsome and quite unusual. Stacey had perused the goods earlier in the day (the auction begins at 6 pm) and was ready to bid on them. The final price was $60 each and we thought it was a good one. Have you priced chairs lately?
When we got to examine them more closely, in the light of the next day, we realized that one of the four was a somewhat different color than its three sisters. No matter, we thought, as the light in our new dining room is, being the ground floor of a brownstone, somewhat low and the color would not be detectable. We'll see.
The next day, Sunday, was some kind of beautiful. Temperatures reached up to 70. Most of the color was gone but the forest at Lonnie's hacienda was magical as he and I strode around and examined the chicken coops and some of the back acres. Just lovely.
Sun sets early now and the hills and woods around the house were aglow while down below it was dark. Dinner was on the table and then a ride back to Brooklyn finished a very nice weekend in the country.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
One nice thing about our new neighborhood is the ease with which we can get into Manhattan. A short 2-block walk up Park Place takes us to the Seventh Avenue subway station. Then one, two stops in Brooklyn and the third is in Manhattan! Super cool!
Tonight we hit Broadway. It was raining. We used to drive in from Manhattan Beach. The traffic in New York on a rainy Thursday night in Times Square ... well forget about it! But by Subway in 20 minutes or so we were on Broadway having a pre-theater gin and tonic (and steamed vegetable dumplings to quell the hunger) at Ollie's Noodle Shop & Grille on 44th Street.
The play? It was a perfect play for the post-election blues that we're all feeling: Twelve Angry Men at the American Airlines Theater on 42nd Street. Written by Reginald Rose in 1954, it is a brilliant piece of drama that is oh so relevant for our poor country today.
Don't miss this play starring Phillip Bosco (Juror number 3) as relevant now as in 1954 when it was written for TV.
Eleven of twelve jurors, all men, are subjected to the lies and machinations of the D.A., and are ready to quickly sentence a 16-year old to the electric chair. The twelfth has doubts and by reason and logic he pursues justice.
There's a message here for all of us who struggled so hard to defeat Bush. Half of our populace is under a spell, woven by the Bush Bunch and the servile mass media. They've been subjected to lies and a campaign of smear and fear. In Twelve Angry Men, just one of eleven was able to turn the jury around; able to move people to stop and think and change; able to convince people to break their chains of fear and prejudice.
So too, I believe, can we reach our fellow Americans who are under a spell of lies and deception and change their deceived perception of reality. How else to explain this vote for a man whose policies are so injurious to their very own self interests?
This is not pollyannish idealism. To wallow in depression; to give up the ghost before the fight is finished means we accept defeat and that the battle is over. To be sure, the election has dire consequences for our country and the world. But the struggle continues.
As Howard Zinn, the great American historian, wrote recently on the election results:
** For the complete Howard Zinn quote, just click here.
"In this awful world where the efforts of caring
people often pale in comparison to what is done by those who have power, how do I manage to stay involved and seemingly happy?
I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning. To play, to act, is to create at least a
possibility of changing the world...
...An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places--and there are so many--where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future.
The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."**
Please run, don't walk, to see Twelve Angry Men. I promise you an uplifting, post-election tonic and a wonderful evening of drama.
A little bonus, afterwards, was a parade down Broadway of Smart Cars (you see them all over Europe) in town as pace cars for this weekends NYC Marathon.
Smart Cars on parade on Broadway - in town for the NYC Marathon this Sunday.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Pumpkin can't vote, but she agrees with our rainbow banner - We The People (And Cats) SAY NO To The Bush Agenda. She read that out loud to me: "meow, meow, mew, meoogh, Spike, hiss, buuussh, meow." At least I think that's what she said.
Pumpkin reading our banner.
I'm going to head over to the Major Owens headquarters. It's just a block from my house at 671 Washington Avenue. The Barbaro campaign has set up a phone bank there and that'll be my election day contribution.
I love this new neighborhood. First, it's a real neighborhood. A stream of people passed my front door this morning, on their way to vote at the school a block away. While sweeping up leaves, a thankless chore, people stopped and engaged me in conversation.
I went exploring, walking over to bustling Flatbush Avenue. It's so quiet and peaceful on Underhill and so busy and noisy on Flatbush, just a couple of blocks west. When you move to a new neighborhood you have to get a new compass installed (in your head). How do the streets work; where do they intersect? Where are the stores that you need on a daily basis? Groceries. Hardware. Greengrocers (one of those mostly-Brooklyn phenomenons; We moved from the Brighton Beach area which probably has about 20 or so fruit stores in a ten block area). Coffee houses, restaurants, bars, bagel stores. I've been scoping these out.
Busy Flatbush Avenue - the apartment across the way says "1889 Prospect View" on its peak.
I am enthralled with the housing down here: the architecture of Brownstone Brooklyn is divine. Thankfully, vast areas of downtown Brooklyn were preserved and stand today, testament to the beauty and craftsmanship of the late 19th and early 20th century home builders. Of course, like everywhere, the power of money entwined with developers is challenging downtown. A big battle is ensuing right now. Those who cherish the old and want to preserve its beauty are on the defensive. This time the culprit is a Bruce Ratner, a mega-developer who wants to build a sports stadium at the junction of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, arguably it's already the busiest and most congested (with cars, trucks and buses) in all of Brooklyn.
Elegant town houses on Park Place, just around the corner from our place.
In Brooklyn (as I learned earlier while battling unrestrained development on the seashore at the Brighton Beach Baths), politics and politicians are inextricably entwined with the power and money of developers. And so it is true in this battle that is shaping up. Ratner wants to be funded by our tax dollars to build his stadium and high-rise "luxury condos" (don't you hate that phrase by now?) He also wants the Pataki/Bloomberg bunch to use the state's power of eminent domain to evict tenants and homeowners to clear a vast area for his new empire.
Many of the Brownstone's in the area have signs displayed in their window in opposition to this Rat(ner)'s enrichment schemes. Windows are emblazoned with the likes of "I love Brownstone Brooklyn," "End Eminent domain Abuse," etc.
This is a neighborhood that is truly a mixed bag. Parts, you can feel, must have been so elegant at one time (a bit faded today), with their glorious brownstones; these were the townhouses built for people wanting to live out of the city (Manhattan). Other streets are lined with light-industry buildings: workshops, warehouses and low quality housing thrown in here and there.
It's a neighborhood that went way, way down as whites fled, property values fell, crime soared and vacant stores were boarded up. Today, it's on the way up again. Brownstones in my neighborhood (which is not nearly as prosperous or upscale as adjacent Park Slope) are fetching a million dollars and up. Quite a turnaround. The big question is - what happens now? Do the Ratnerites win and push working people out, Manhattanize the downtown area with high rises and destroy this jewel of green, low-rise and beautiful houses? Or does this diverse and integrated community rise up and say NO to untrammeled development? The end of this story has not been written.
The move was very tough on all of us. But particularly on our cat Pumpkin. Her whole world was turned upside down. We knew what was happening. She didn't. So she went to sleep one night in the old house - stripped to bare bones, all packed up. The next day she was taken, crying and mewing endlessly, to a new place. It was frightening. What was this? Where am I?
But cats are adaptable - it's a matter of time. I think she's settlin' in now. She spends time at the window, checking out the garden or the street action on Underhill. Else she's sprawled out on the bed. And when we're clicking away at our keyboards, she likes to "bother" us by draping her body in, around or on the keyboard, her tail swishing in front of the screen or messing up papers on the desk. She's really a pain. I just happen to love that pain.
Pumpkin settles in. That's her mentor, Misty (may he rest in peace) on the screen behind her.
Monday, November 01, 2004
Tomorrow we vote. The most important election in our lifetime, in our country's lifetime. "Four more years," the scripted and screened audiences are belching. There's an ugly anger on the faces of the Bush supporters and it chills me to think of him in the White House for another four years. "For More years." Ha. "Four More Wars," would be a far better slogan, for that's what we're in for, and more.
I'm reprinting Michael Moore's wonderful erev-election piece that is circulating on the web. I sent it to my list. But I also sent it to friends and neighbors who have been blinded by fear and who are intent on voting against their own self-interests. Here it is. Please send this around...
Friends,This is it. ONE DAY LEFT.
There are many things I’d like to say. I’ve been on the road getting out the vote for 51 straight days so I haven’t had much time to write. So I’ve put together a bunch of notes to various groups all in this one letter. Please feel free to copy and send whatever portions are appropriate to your friends and family as you spend these last 24 hours trying to convince whomever you can to show up and vote for John Kerry.
Here are my final words…
To Decent Conservatives and Recovering Republicans:
In your heart of hearts you know Bush is a miserable failure. From having no plan on what to do in Iraq once he conquered Baghdad to the 380 missing tons of explosives that could be used to kill our brave young men and women, this guy doesn’t have a clue how to fight and win a war. You should see the mail I’ve been getting lately from our troops over there. They know how much the Iraqi people hate them. They are sitting ducks anytime they go out on the road. Many believe we are not that far away from a Tet-style offensive inside the Green Zone with hundreds of Americans and Brits killed.
Bush refused to go after and capture Osama bin Laden. He fought, every step of the way, the investigation into the 9/11 attacks. Who on earth would oppose such a thing? If 3,000 people died at your place of work and your boss said we don’t need to find out why or how it happened, he’d be thrown out on his ear. Bush’s behavior after this great tragedy alone is reason enough for his removal.
You already know that George W. Bush is the farthest thing from a conservative. He’s a reckless spender who has run up record-breaking deficits and the biggest debt in our history. He believes in having the government pry into everything from your library records to your bedroom. He has hit you with hidden taxes with his tax cuts for the rich. I know many of you don’t like Bush, but are unsure of Kerry. Give the new guy a chance. He won’t raise your taxes (unless you are super-rich), he won’t take your hunting gun away, and he won’t make you visit France. He risked his life for you many years ago. He’s asking for the chance to do it again. Scott McConnell at The American Conservative magazine has endorsed him. What more do you need?
To My Friends on the Left:
Okay, Kerry isn’t everything you wished he would be. You’re right. He’s not you! Or me. But we’re not on the ballot – Kerry is. Yes, Kerry was wrong to vote for authorization for war in Iraq but he was in step with 70% of the American public who was being lied to by Bush & Co. And once everyone learned the truth, the majority turned against the war. Kerry has had only one position on the war – he believed his president.
President Kerry had better bring the troops home right away. My prediction: Kerry’s roots are anti-war. He has seen the horrors of war and because of that he will avoid war unless it is absolutely necessary. Ask most vets. But don’t ask someone whose only horror was when he arrived too late for a kegger in Alabama.
There’s a reason Bush calls Kerry the Number One Liberal in the Senate – THAT’S BECAUSE HE IS THE NUMBER ONE LIBERAL IN THE SENATE! What more do you want? My friends, this is about as good as it gets when voting for the Democrat. We don’t have the #29 Liberal running or the #14 Liberal or even the #2 Liberal – we got #1! When has that ever happened?
Those of us who may be to the left of the #1 liberal Democrat should remember that this year conservative Democrats have had to make a far greater shift in their position to back Kerry than we have. We’re the ones always being asked to make the huge compromises and to always vote holding our noses. No nose holding this time. This #1 liberal is not the tweedledee to Bush’s tweedledum.
To Nader Voters:
See the above note.
Ralph’s own party, the Green Party, would not endorse his run this year. That’s because those of us who want to build a third party in this country know that the only way to do this is to build bridges with those who believe in the issues Nader believes in. But not one of those people will sacrifice the chance to remove George W. Bush from the White House on Tuesday. The choice here is clear: do we join with our friends, or do we piss on them?
After the debacle of 2000, the Democrats got smart and abandoned the conservative wing of their party. That’s why 8 of the 9 Democrats in the primaries this year were from the liberal wing. Ralph should take credit for that and declare victory. It’s so sad that he doesn’t realize the good he’s accomplished. But for reasons only known to him, he’s more angry at the Democrats than he is at Bush. He has lost his compass. I worry he has lost his mind. But he still gives a great speech!
And Lila Lipscomb, the mother from Flint who lost her son in Iraq, she still grieves -- as do the mothers of 1,120 others (not to mention the mothers of the 100,000 Iraqis who have died because of Bush’s war). That’s what this election is about. Not Ralph proving some point. Almost none of us on his 2000 advisory group are supporting him this year. His total lack of respect for his best friends should tell all of you something about what he really thinks of you, too.
To the Non-Swing States:
Stop listening to how your vote doesn’t count in this election and that your state is already decided for Kerry or Bush. It is critical that you vote because we not only need to give Kerry the electoral win, but he needs to have a HUGE mandate with an ENORMOUS popular vote victory as well. It will be impossible for him to get anything done for four years if there is no clear mandate. We must not only defeat Bush, we must put a stake in the heart of the right-wing, neo-con movement. If you live in New York, California, Illinois, Texas, the Northeast or the Deep South, you need to vote and you need to bring ten people with you to the polls. If you live in a state where we have the chance to elect the Democrat to the Senate or the House, you need to vote. Turn off the TV. Quit listening to news media that has a vested interest in repeating to you over and over that your vote does not count. It does.
If you have friends or relatives who live in the 30-plus non-swing states, call them and remind them how important it is that Kerry gets a massive popular vote victory.
I understand why you stopped voting. Politicians suck. Nothing ever seems to change. You’re only one vote.
Yes, politicians suck. But so do car salesmen – and that hasn’t stopped you from buying a car. Politicians only respond to the threat of the angry mob also known as the voting public. If most people don’t vote, that’s good news for them ‘cause then they don’t have to answer to the majority.
Almost fifty percent of Americans don’t vote. That means you belong to the largest political party in America – the Non-Voting Party. That means you hold all the power to toss George W. Bush out of the Oval Office. How cool is that?
I believe that we are going to have the largest election turnout in our lifetime tomorrow. You don’t want to miss out on that. The lines at the polls are going to be long and raucous and fun. It is an historic election. You won’t want to say that you were the only one who wasn’t there. Promise me you’ll vote, just this one time.
To All First-Time Voters:
Welcome to the longest running, uninterrupted democracy on earth! You own it. It’s yours.
A few words about how messy it’s going to be tomorrow. The lines are going to be long. Bring your iPods. Better yet,
bring a friend or two. The election officials have no clue just how many millions are going to show up at the polls. This will be the largest turnout in our lifetime. They don’t have enough machines. They are going to have to send for more ballots.
And they are going to make it difficult for you to vote. The new law says if this is your first time voting you must bring ID with you that matches the address you are registered at.
If for some reason they can’t find your name on the voting rolls, you have the right to ask for a provisional ballot, which you can fill out and then sort things out later.
If you have any problems at the polling place, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE. The people there can tell you how to find the precinct where you should be voting, get you legal help if you are denied the right to vote, or answer any other questions you may have.
If you need any help figuring out the ballot, don’t be afraid to ask. If you screw up your ballot, you can ask for another one. In fact, the law allows you to screw up your ballot two times before you finally have to submit your final ballot! Be careful to vote on the line that says John F. Kerry/John Edwards. Don’t vote for more than one Presidential, Senate or House candidate or you ballot won’t be counted. If your polling place has a stub or a receipt from your ballot, make sure they give you one.
Thanks for joining us. Democracy is not a spectator sport. It only works when we all come off the bench and participate.
To African Americans:
First of all, let’s just acknowledge what you already know: America is a country which still has a race problem, to put it nicely. Al Gore would be president today had thousands of African Americans not had their right to vote stolen from them in Florida in 2000.
Here is my commitment: I will do everything I can to make sure that this will not happen again. And I’m not the only one making this pledge. Thousands of volunteer lawyers are flying to Florida to act as poll watchers and intervene should there be any attempts to deny anyone their right to vote. They will NOT be messing around.
For my part, I have organized an army of 1,200 professional and amateur filmmakers who will be armed with video cameras throughout the states of Florida and Ohio. At the first sign of criminality, we will dispatch a camera crew to where the vote fraud is taking place and record what is going on. We will put a big public spotlight on any wrongdoing by Republican officials in those two states. They will not get away with this as they did in 2000.
In Ohio, the Republicans are sending almost 2,000 paid “poll challengers” into the black precincts of Cleveland in an attempt to stop African Americans from voting. This action is beyond despicable. Do not let this stop you from voting. I, and thousand of others, will be there to fight for you and protect you.
To George W.:
I know it’s gotta be rough for you right now. Hey, we’ve all been there. “You’re fired” are two horrible words when put together in that order. Bin Laden surfacing this weekend to remind the American people of your total and complete failure to capture him was a cruel trick or treat. But there he was. 3,000 people were killed and he’s laughing in your face. Why did you stop our Special Forces from going after him? Why did you forget about bin Laden on the DAY AFTER 9/11 and tell your terrorism czar to concentrate on Iraq instead?
There he was, OBL, all tan and rested and on videotape (hey, did you get the feeling that he had a bootleg of my movie? Are there DVD players in those caves in Afghanistan?)
Speaking of my movie – can I ask you a personal question before we part ways for good on Tuesday? Why did you and your friends fund SIX “documentaries” trashing me -- but only ONE film against Kerry? C’mon, he was the candidate, not me. What a waste of your time and resources! Sure, I know what your pollsters told you, that the film had convinced some people to vote you out. I just want you to know that that was not my original intent. Funny things happen at the movies. Hope you get to see a few at the multiplex in Waco. It’s a great way to relax.
To John Kerry:
And don’t worry – none of us are going away after you are inaugurated. We’ll be there to hold your hand and keep you honest. Don’t let us down. We’re betting you won’t. So is the rest of the world.
That’s it. See you at the polls – and at the victory party tomorrow night.
In my new neighborhood --
It was a beautiful fall day on Sunday and despite a bad cold and a job Sunday morning (at Lundy's, photographing a party)when we returned home I felt like I just had to get outside and where better than Prospect Park. Who needs the country? The leaves are aglow in Prospect Park and it's just around the corner.
People were out in droves - lolling in the warm sun of a late October day. Long Meadow was filled: people, lovers, dog walkers (some of the dogs were wearing Halloween costumes), runners, walkers, bikers. But it was also the return of standard time and early darkening. So for an hour or so we walked but cut it short as darkness descended. Thought we would check out the Village Halloween parade but it was not to be as my cold caught up with me and bed called.
This is my new street: Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights. Nice.
Who needs the country? - Prospect Park's Long Meadow alive with color and people.
A carpet of fallen leaves.
Late afternoon sun in the Long Meadow -- getting dark earlier now - but the tree looks like it's glowing.
Stacey - reading the facts and figures on Prospect Park.
On our way back home we pass the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza.