Sunday, September 30, 2007

the moon and Str Christopher

When I was young I spoke like a child, and I saw with a child's eyes
And an open door was to a girl like the stars are to the sky
It's funny how the world lives up to all your expectations
With adventures for the stout of heart, and the lure of the open spaces

There's 2 lanes running down this road, whichever side you're on
Accounts for where you want to go, or what you're running from
Back when darkness overtook me on a blind man's curve

I relied upon the moon, I relied upon the moon
I relied upon the moon and Saint Christopher
Now I've paid my dues cuz I have owed them, but I've paid a price sometimes
For being such a stubborn woman in such stubborn times

Now I've paid my dues cuz I have owed them, but I've paid a price sometimes
For being such a stubborn woman in such stubborn times
Now I have run from the arms of lovers, I've run from the eyes of friends
I have run from the hands of kindness, I've run just because I can

But now I'm grown and I speak like a woman and I see with a woman's eyes
And an open door is to me now like the saddest of goodbyes
It's too late for turning back, I pray for the heart and the nerve

And I rely upon the moon, I rely upon the moon
I rely upon the moon and Saint Christopher

I rely upon the moon, I rely upon the moon
I rely upon the moon and Saint Christopher

power of 10

CBS adds 'Power' to midseason
Network gives gameshow another round

'Power of 10'
CBS has ordered six more segs of the quizshow 'Power of 10,' which it will sub in for new series that prove unsuccessful.
CBS is adding some “Power” to its midseason bench.

Eye has greenlit another cycle of “Power of 10,” the Michael Davies-produced quizzer that has blossomed into a summer success story for the net. Six additional episodes have been ordered and will run sometime during the 2007-08 season.

Sony Pictures Television and Davies’ Embassy Row produce “Power,” which has been airing twice a week.

After a so-so start in early August, the show has picked up Nielsen steam in recent weeks. Drew Carey-hosted quizzer has won its timeslot during its past five broadcasts, emerging in first among viewers and adults 18-49.

Despite that momentum, CBS is planning to take the show off its sked following a first-season finale on Sunday, Sept. 23. The net simply has no available timeslots save for the Saturday night death zone occupied by repeats.

By greenlighting six segs now, CBS will have “Power” available for backup when one of its new shows disappoints.

Renewal of “Power” caps a mixed summer for the Eye’s reality slate. “Big Brother” has had one of its strongest seasons in recent years, both in buzz and ratings, but the high-profile “Pirate Master” was cancelled midway through its run.


I answered a posting for free tickets for this game show that is taped at the Kaufman Studios in Queens. I went, got on line, and had my name and email taken. We were escorted in groups to the restroom. We were escorted in to the studio, seated and prepped by this Sharp talking, sarcastic, NYC comic who was edgy enough to border being mean, racist and homophobic.

Drew Carey came out and asked people if they had questions for a "real Celebrity". Later in the show, he told the audience he bought a Hybrid Lexus because it was the most expensive and best LEXUS that they had.

The show is boring and Drew's role is to stretch out the questions.

The elimination rounds are fun and the people who went on were LOSERS>...A single mother of a 4 year old real estate agent who has no customers and isnt good at real estate. She lives with her elderly mom who has demented and incontinent pets. The second was a animal trainer for the NY Aquarium who introduced his boyfriend to Drew and the crowd. His claim to fame was collecting cans and bottles all summer to gain 100 dollars....

i would not watch this show......though seeing it taped was interesting... they raffled off 2 IPODS, 2 camera, two cheesey DVD players and Cheap LCD TV

American Slingo

Boyd, Burke and Sparks to Star in Rapp's Sligo for Rattlestick; Season Announced

By Andrew Gans
25 Jul 2007

Adam Rapp
photo by Aubrey Reuben has learned that the 13th season at Off-Broadway's Rattlestick Playwrights Theater will be its first to include four shows. The new season will kick off with the world premiere of Adam Rapp's American Sligo Sept. 12 with an official opening Sept. 24.

Directed by playwright Rapp, the limited engagement will run through Oct. 14. The cast will feature Guy Boyd, Mary Louise Burke, Michael Chernis, Emily McDonald, Megan Mostyn-Brown, Paul Sparks and Matthew Stadelmann. "Art 'Crazy Train' Sligo," press notes read, "[an] all-star wrestling legend, is about to retire. His two sons, his sister-in-law, his greatest fan, and a few unexpected guests gather on the eve of his final match for his last supper, but things just can't seem to stop going wrong in the Sligo home."

This was a bizarre and violent off off off broadway play. Adam Rapp is a gifted playwright who even found a way to mention Louden Wainwright in this play. THe theater was a classic off off broadway house which was located in a church and to get to the bathroom, you had to walk across the stage so they limited restroom visits to before the show started and it delayed the start. Rapp's play is brilliant in parts but the topic is useless and meaningless. The characters werent particular likeable so you dont care about them.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Every Monday- Thursday, i say hello to a tall man who works at the Hotel on 28th street. You wouldnt know it was hotel but a few months ago, i spotted Chuck with his gold name tag, helping tourists, so i began to say hello...

Today, Chuck stopped me and told me my shoe was untied. He bent down and tied my laces and then tied the other one....

I thought......Bob Dylan.....Tangled up in Blue...

This is actually the second time that a man bent down to tie my shoe....

thanks Chuck and mr dylan

Capricorn Horoscope for week of September 27, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of September 27, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
Washington, D.C.'s most renowned vagrant never begs for money. Instead, he hangs around the streets all day and doles out praise and flattery to passers-by. He calls himself Compliment Man. "Those are beautiful shoes you're wearing," he may say as you walk by, or "The two of you look great together" if you're with a friend. In accordance with the astrological omens, Capricorn, your assignment is to be inspired by the Compliment Man in two ways. First, dramatically increase the blessings you bestow and the admiration you express; be a fount of felicitations. Second, expand your capacity for attracting and gracefully accepting compliments. Make yourself fully available, in every way you can imagine, to receive approval and applause. (P.S. I think you'll find that carrying out task #1 will make task #2 occur quite naturally.)

Joni Mitchell releases CD with a listening party at Starbucks

LOS ANGELES, September 21, 2007– On September 25, Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) will host an intimate “Lunch and Listen” event to celebrate Joni Mitchell’s Hear Music release “Shine.” From 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, more than 6,500 Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada will participate in the event by playing “Shine” along with a retrospective of classics which have made Mitchell one of the most beloved singer/songwriters of our time.

“‘Lunch and Listen’ gets to the heart of the connection between Starbucks customers and music,” says Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment who also oversees Hear Music. “We’re very proud of this record and on September 25, Mitchell’s timeless resonance will be felt in a very profound way.”

Saturday, September 22, 2007

About Garden in Transit
taxi fleet - jfk
View GIT news and media coverage

Garden in Transit may be the most ambitious community collaboration and public art project in New York City history.

As part of this groundbreaking motivational art, education, and creative therapy project, thousands of kids in schools, hospitals, and community institutions are painting vibrant flowers -- symbolizing joy, life, beauty, and inspiration -- on adhesive weatherproof panels that will be applied to the hoods, trunks and/or roofs of thousands of New York City taxis. Beginning in September 2007 and until year's end, New York City will be visually transformed, as the ubiquitous yellow icon becomes a mobile artistic canvas or -- "Garden in Transit."
Quick Facts
23,000+ people have participated in Garden in Transit.

90% of participants are from NYC public schools, hospitals and youth programs.

200+ NYC area schools and hospitals are involved.

Youth in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Georgia, and Ohio have also participated.

750,000 square feet of floral panels have been painted for the taxis, including 80,000 flowers

Using our 1" brushes as a base, the GIT participants have painted the equivalent of a 1" straight line from NYC to Vail, Colorado, a distance of more than 1,700 miles .

Hundreds of schools, hospitals and after-school programs throughout the City and beyond are participating in Garden in Transit. And thousands of adults are volunteering to lend a hand for what Mayor Bloomberg describes as a "mammoth, once-in-a-lifetime effort." When complete, the project will be a tangible lesson in the power of teamwork and collaboration.

Come September, the taxi will serve as an inspiring tribute to the capacity of kids to achieve the spectacular and millions around the city, nation and world will celebrate their achievement.

To be sure, Garden in Transit will culminate in an unprecedented exhibition, yet the project involves much, much more.

Through their participation in Garden in Transit, thousands of kids of all ages participate in educational sessions in which they learn about, discuss, and express themselves about important current affairs, community issues, individual and social responsibilities, goals and achievements, and -- the power of teamwork.

In school sessions, participating kids integrate their writing, oral and visual presentation skills to express themselves about those individual and societal issues most important to them. As a group, the students evaluate the importance of 14 contemporary issues inclusive of: the environment, education, senior care, national security, ethnic relations, healthcare, women's equality, medical research, foreign aid, poverty, and animal rights. The students then design small-scale taxis representing those issues they would choose to be a vehicle for. The larger art collaboration -- painting the taxi panels -- is a group effort intended, in part, to demonstrate what people cooperating together are able to accomplish.

For children in hospitals, the project serves as creative therapy. Children of all ages and medical and physical conditions, have the opportunity to participate with family members, visitors, medical staffs, and hospital and project volunteers. Specialized Portraits of Hope brushes and painting methods have been incorporated including telescope paint brushes for children and adults with IVs or in wheelchairs, shoe brushes for children with injured upper limbs or who cannot manipulate a brush in their hands, and flavored mouth brushes for those who paint with their mouths. Bedside visits are made to make sure that any child who wishes to participate is able to do so.

Ed Massey and Bernie Massey founded Portraits of Hope in 1995, continuing their utilization of art and poignant visual imagery for large-scale projects of social consequence. The idea for Garden in Transit goes back to 2000 when Ed and Bernie began the drive to make Garden in Transit a reality.

See "What People Are Saying."

Mayor Bloomberg on Garden in Transit:
Mayor Bloomberg
View what people are saying

"Think of this as a great opportunity to give thousands of kids -- many of them sick and disabled -- the thrill and pride of creating something that will travel the city streets and be seen by millions. For the thousands of people who take part, Garden in Transit promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, as one of New York's most enduring symbols is turned into a colorful canvas."

"Last year we saw just how powerful a concept this could be when the artist Christo and Jeanne-Claude transformed another one of our most famous icons, Central Park, with thousands of saffron gates. I have no doubt that Garden in Transit will do the same for yellow that The Gates did for saffron."

"There are a number of groups who have worked to get this mammoth effort off the ground. It was Portraits of Hope that first approached the city with this idea. With Garden in Transit they are bringing their message of compassion, public art, community involvement, and healing to all New Yorkers."

"They say that the best art moves you, well this art will really move you."
TLC Commissioner Chair Matthew Daus comments
TLC Chairman Matt Daus
View taxi panel application video

"As announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg several months ago, Garden in Transit (GIT) is an unbeatable combination of taxicabs, kids, volunteers, and the powerful medium of public art."

"In brief, the Mayor’s Volunteer Center and Portraits of Hope (GIT’s parent organization) will oversee the painting, by thousands of New York City school children, of beautifully colorful floral panels that, starting in the fall of 2007 will be installed on many thousands of New York taxicabs for all the world to see and enjoy. I was privileged to participate in the GIT’s kick-off event at IS 291 in Bushwick, Brooklyn this week, and believe more strongly than ever that we are working together on a truly worthwhile and memorable effort that is history in the making."

"I’m happy to report that the Garden in Transit kick-off events held at schools in each of the five boroughs have gone terrifically well thanks to close coordination between the parent organization Portraits of Hope, the Mayor’s Volunteer Center and the TLC. So now the work has begun in earnest to hopefully see every taxicab in New York City transformed into a moving garden by this time next year, highlighting the artistic creativity of our children, and accomplishing one of the most ambitious public art projects ever conceived."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

revolutionaries come in many forms

Alice Waters, at the Union Square Greenmarket, wants to bring her message to novice cooks.

Published: September 19, 2007

WHEN Alice Waters is coming over to cook lunch, the first thing you do is look around your house and think, I live in a dump.

Then you take an inventory of the pantry. The bottles of Greek and Portuguese olive oil, once a point of pride, suddenly seem inadequate. And should you hide the box of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran and jettison those two cans of Diet Pepsi?

At the end of the afternoon, when the last peach was peeled and my kitchen was stacked with dirty pots, it didn’t really matter. Ms. Waters was either too polite or too distracted to mention what was in my cupboard. It turns out she travels with her own olive oil, anyway. And homemade vinegar. And salt-packed capers.

Ms. Waters had agreed to spend a hot September day shopping with me at the Union Square Greenmarket and schlepping back to my first-floor apartment in brownstone Brooklyn to make lunch.

The book is more to Ms. Waters than an instructional guide. It is her attempt, through recipes, to save the American food supply. She wrote it because she still believes a plate of delicious food can change everything.

“We’re trying to educate young people and show them how to use that lens of ingredients as a way to change their lives,” she said. “Otherwise, it would be just another cookbook.”

The book is Ms. Waters’s ninth since she started Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., 36 years ago. Unlike the others, the new book does not use the name of the restaurant. It reads more like an organic “Joy of Cooking,” designed to instruct novices on how to make a perfect vinaigrette but also intended to be as essential to experienced cooks as the final Harry Potter installment was to 12-year-olds.

“Food can be very transformational and it can be more than just about a dish,” she said. “That’s what happened to me when I first went to France. I fell in love. And if you fall in love, well, then everything is easy.”

(Currently, Ms. Waters is not in love, though she longs for “a good pal to be in the world with.”)

By all measures, Ms. Waters should be relaxing at this point in her life. She is 63. She has held court with princes and presidents. A year ago, with some prodding from her partners at the restaurant, she pulled back from the daily work at Chez Panisse. Now she is trying to become better at leveraging her role as the high priestess of the local, sustainable food revolution.

Although she is enthusiastically mocked in some circles for the impossible goals she articulates in a wispy cadence, chefs who once sniffed that her methods were more about shopping than cooking now agree that the heart of great food is selecting the best ingredients.

So why does Ms. Waters still seem so restless, so unsatisfied, so unrelentingly demanding that she can’t show up at someone’s house and trust that they might have the right olive oil?

Because true, radical change — a country full of people who eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the earth — is simply not coming fast enough.

She is dismayed by the presidential candidates and said she has vowed not to vote for anyone who does not talk about the awful state of the food system.

Her pioneering Edible Schoolyard project, in which schoolchildren grow their own lunch and teachers use gardens for science lessons and recipes for social studies, is thriving in Berkeley, has been planted in New Orleans and may expand to Pittsburgh and Brooklyn. But in more than a decade the concept has not permeated the nation’s thinking on education.

Although many school districts are trying to improve the food they offer, the results have been unsatisfying, she said. It’s useless to coat frozen chicken nuggets with whole-wheat bread crumbs and fill vending machines with diet soda. Only a complete and radical reform will do, and it must be led by the president of the United States.

“These are little Band-Aids,” she said. “The whole body is bleeding and we must stop it. We simply must.”

A revolution in how we eat means respecting food and the people who produce it, she said. In her world, every aspect of this revolution, be it related to agricultural policy, the environment or obesity, must begin with a plate of lovely, locally produced food and work backward from there.
She’s also concerned about whether the Slow Food organization, which began with protests of a McDonald’s in Rome, will ever become as influential here as it has been in Europe. Although she has helped the United States organization grow to 171 chapters since its inception in 2000, she would like Slow Food and the concept of eco-gastronomy to be as much a part of the political discussion as foreign policy.

Skip to next paragraph
Enlarge This Image

With the food from the Union Square Greenmarket she made a compote of fruit.
Earlier this year Ms. Waters announced an ambitious gathering called Slow Food Nation, planned for next May in San Francisco. She wanted it to be the Woodstock of food, drawing people from around the country. Slow Foodies would erect architect-designed street restaurants and green kitchens serving low-cost food. There would be a film festival and, if all went well, the dedication of a wholesale sustainable farmers’ market on a city pier.

Much of the work of raising the estimated $5 million budget fell to Ms. Waters, who is not great at it. And like many of her visions, it ran up against the reality-based system under which much of the world operates. So, earlier this month, the Slow Food organization decided to do a little less.

“We all looked at each other and said, Why don’t we just do a picnic?” Ms. Waters said.

That kind of compromise — a word she hates — is rare.

“I am an optimist of the first order,” she said. “I just got dipped in Berkeley in 1964 and I believe.” Of course, now she envisions a national picnic, maybe, with a blanket that stretches across the country. (The Slow Food organizers who will be doing the work are scheduled to meet this week to determine exactly what the public event will look like.)

Ruth Reichl, the editor of Gourmet, said the remarkable thing about Alice Waters is that she simply doesn’t stop: “She’s relentless in that way revolutionaries are.”

Ms. Waters’s biggest flaw, Ms. Reichl said, is that she doesn’t always take advantage of her strength and that she still operates in an old-fashioned, Berkeley kind of way. For example, Ms. Waters wants Farm Aid to hold a concert in San Francisco, working with Slow Food. To help make that happen, she mailed a handwritten note to Willie Nelson’s wife, Annie.

“She is a major power who still operates in a lovely, minor way,” Ms. Reichl said.

Which is probably why she was in my kitchen, stumping for her book like a first-time author.

The book is deceptively simple. As she writes, “Good cooking is no mystery.” Most recipes seem to be built on salt, black pepper, olive oil, fresh herbs and garlic. But they have to be specific kinds, like chunky gray sea salt for boiling water. “If you are not buying the right ingredients, this is going to taste like any other food,” she said.

The attention to detail is maddening and enlightening. She offers lovely notes on cooking eggs, and her passage on serving fruit for dessert is so thoughtful and useful it reads like gospel. She devotes a page and a half to making bread crumbs properly.

But in parts of the book she veers past purity to madness. Halfway into a recipe for gazpacho, while soaking ancho chili, grating tomatoes and mashing it all in a mortar and pestle, you start to look at the blender with longing.

Ms. Waters doesn’t like machines much, although she is partial to the toaster oven. She doesn’t use a computer and has only cursory knowledge of her cellphone. She wrote the book largely by dictating her notes to Fritz Streiff, her longtime co-writer, and collaborated with Kelsie Kerr, who has cooked at Chez Panisse, and Patricia Curtan, who also illustrated the book.

But she knows almost all the recipes by heart, which made it easy to figure out lunch.

Walking through the Greenmarket with her is an exercise in excess. She has never met a fresh herb she didn’t like, and I still have plenty of hyssop in my refrigerator to prove it.

Her good friend Doug Hamilton, a film director and producer, came along to help carry our reusable cloth shopping bags. He was a godsend. When you visit farmers with Alice Waters, you come home with a lot of stuff.

Farmers kept trying to give her baskets of food, but she insisted on paying because she believes contributing money to family farmers is a moral obligation. (In this case, The New York Times paid for everything.)

Alice Waters responds to readers' comments about Farm Aid in her first blog post.
People literally started shaking when they realized they were shopping next to Alice Waters. When she offered to visit the Queen’s Hideaway, a homestyle restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the owner, Liza Queen, waved her off, already nervous at the thought of it.

“Please don’t,” Ms. Queen said. “If you come in, we’d probably lose it.”

Back at my place Ms. Waters insisted we unpack and spread out everything on the dining room table, to take stock of what we had and to make a plan. It took almost every dish, basket and bowl I had.

Ms. Waters just sat with it all for a while. When things become discouraging, she said, she dreams of escaping to Sicily to sell produce from a little table that might look just like this one. Then she called her daughter, Fanny Singer, to tell her how pretty it all looked.

Once that was over, we got down to cooking.

Ms. Waters may not call herself a chef, but the girl can cook. She quickly pared small, late-summer artichokes and braised them in olive oil, thyme and water. She simmered sausage-shaped La Ratte potatoes and blanched three kinds of beans.

She threw the eggs into a strainer, then submerged them in the blanching pot, timing it so beautifully that the yolks just barely hung together when we sliced them open.

We warmed some olives with chili, olive oil and garlic while she got busy whisking her own personal stash of olive oil into what would become the centerpiece of the meal, an aioli made with garlic she smashed with salt in my mortar and pestle.

Truthfully, she’s a little messy in the kitchen. She’s firm, too. She chastised me for not having a spider to dip out the blanched vegetables. And she made me start a compost bucket, even though I have precious little dirt around my patio and a continuing battle with thuglike squirrels.

What ended up on the table was a platter of vegetables and eggs with heirloom tomatoes she deemed way too watery, all to be dipped into a big bowl of that glimmering green aioli. We heated some olive bread in the toaster oven and brought out a little plate of lemon cucumbers Mr. Hamilton had cut up.

It was a simple and beautiful thing.

Then she got up, sliced some peaches into a bowl with perfect late-season strawberries and blueberries she said reminded her of times she spent as a child in Maine. Over it all, she poured a syrup made by cooking down sugar, water and golden raspberries.

It was a hot day, so we headed into the air-conditioning to drink lemon verbena and mint tisane. She was sweaty, splattered and, she told me, quite happy to have been surrounded by good food all day. Because that’s how change starts.

“This kind of little gathering in the backyard is what reinforces our dedication,” she said. “That we can do something simply and easily with an unlikely group of people and all be in the same place because of the food on the table is how it happens.”

Her literary agent and her book editor eventually picked her up. I went to the back porch, ignored my urge to crack open a Diet Pepsi, and tried to figure out where I was going to put the compost pile.

Capricorn Horoscope for week of September 20, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of September 20, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)

Three hundred years ago, a Miwok Indian family slept on the land where my home now stands. I salute them. I celebrate them with a sense of wonder and curiosity. Three hundred years from tonight, who knows what will be here? A Chinese mosque? An android research facility? A polyglot, polyamorous, multicultural commune? Whoever may be here then, I salute them. I celebrate them with wonder and curiosity. In accordance with your omens, Capricorn, I urge you to use what I just did as a starting point for an extended meditation. Gaze both backwards and forwards in time with a spirit of playful reverence. Spur your imagination to fantasize about the people who have preceded you and who will follow you. Feel the way your destiny has been blessed by the past, and think about how your life will bless the future.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Big Girls Susanna Moore

This was not an easy book,” Moore, 60, says from her Manhattan apartment. “I’m asking you to love this woman who has killed her children.” Amazingly, she succeeds. With its startling insights and gorgeous prose, The Big Girls is her best novel yet.

Set in an upstate New York prison, the story is told in four voices: Helen, serving a life sentence for murdering her kids; her psychiatrist, Dr. Louise Forrest, a recently divorced mother and a bit of a mess herself; Ike Bradshaw, a corrections officer; and Angie Mills, an ambitious L.A. actor. Their stories shift and collide like tectonic plates, exposing their yearnings and regrets, and the primal fury that exists within families.

The novel is also a devastating portrayal of prison life. After finishing her first draft, Moore spent an edifying year teaching at a Brooklyn correctional facility: “They have this elaborate, complex, subtle, delicate, passionate world of all women, in which family relationships are mimicked,” she says. Moore marvelously captures those intricate social hierarchies, and fearlessly examines the criminal-justice system. She also takes a hard look at how society deals (or doesn’t) with mental health issues.

But above all, Moore wanted to write about being a mother, an experience inherently marked by ambivalence and volatility. “When my daughter realized that the story was about a woman who kills her children, she was really interested, in a charming way,” Moore says, laughing. “Not angry, just very interested.”—Carmela Ciuraru

The prison setting makes this an intense read, but Moore’s skill at making troubled characters appealing pulls her novel out of the depths.

brooklyn Book Festival

Sunday, I went to the Brooklyn Book Festival and walked around. My original plan was to get there about 11 but i ended up getting there around Noon... I spent the majority of the day listening to the Panels. Each were interesting and informative.

By chance, i got a ticket to see Francine Prose and AM HOMES who talked about syncronity and coincidences. AM Homes talked about her latest book "the Mistresses daughter" about her adoption and her birth parents finding her.

I also got to talk to Susanna Moore about her book " Big Girls" written from the view of a young psychiatrist working with women in prison. Susanna has started a writing group at Rikers for prisons. We stood and talking about secondary trauma and absorbing the stories the woman have to tell..

I also spoke with Dominic Carter about his book. NO MOMMA's boy where he discloses his own sexual abuse by his mother.

the weather was a grand fall day and i walked up to 7th ave to get the train home

Three leading commentators report from different fronts in the war on terror: Rajiv Chandrasekaran assesses Iraq, Christian Parenti discusses Afghanistan, and Moustafa Bayoumi focuses on Arab-Americans in the U.S. Moderated by Laura Flanders.

2:00 p.m. HONOR & JUSTICE.
Authors whose fiction provokes moral dilemmas and challenges our basic notions of human justice: Chris Abani, Pete Hamill and Susanna Moore. Introduced by Lance Fensterman, Executive Director of Book Expo America.

Award-winning authors A.M. Homes and Francine Prose read from their latest works, The Mistress's Daughter and Reading Like a Writer, and discuss the overlap where memoirs, histories, and novels meet in this conversation presented with Bomb Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Betsy Sussler.

are you dumb quizlet

How smart are you? - Are you dumb?

Friday, September 14, 2007

the commuter train

The Train

(Words & Music by Suzzy Roche)

I sit down on the train
with my big pocketbook
the guitar and a sugar-free drink
I wipe the sweat off of my brow
with the side of my arm
and take off all that I can

I am trying not to have a bad day
everybody knows the way that is

Even though my baggage and I
are using up a two person seat
I'm not trying to be funny
but the guy who sits down next to me
is even bigger than that
we are overflowing out of the seat
I can't look at him
he doesn't look at me

Once you step on
you might never get off
of the commuter train
it doesn't go very far away
but just the same
it s a trip and a half

My face is pressed up
against the window
and through it I can see
the reflection of the train
I spy on the big guy
sitting next to me
he's drinking two beers
and reading the New York Post
trying not to get in my way
everybody knows the kind of day that is

He is miserable
I am miserable
we are miserable
can't we have a party
would he rather have a party
after all we have to sit here
and he's even drinking a beer
I want to ask him what's his name
but I can't cause I'm so afraid
of the man on the train

Copyright 1979 DeShufflin Inc.

by the time i get to phoenix....the sun will be rising

Yesterday, i had a good day. I had some things that I wanted to accomplish. I was able to sleep in bit and i wanted to start cleaning out my closets. Its a task that i try to do each September. Part of my new year ritual is to start to clear out what i no longer need. i then took the biggest bag i could find to the Goodwill and dropped it off. I then did some errands and headed towards Pa. I had a car full of merch and it was cool fall day. I stopped on the turnpike and headed towards Valley Forge. Luckily i didnt have to go into King of Prussia but i was close enough....

I didnt have time to stop at Valley Forge to see the Washington Revolutionary War monuments. If i knew i was heading there, i would have given myself more time to see the sights of Valley Forge. I then headed into Phoenixville to see a small town with lots of little shops that screamed for exploring.

As i pulled up, i saw Lucy Wainwright Roche in her SUV behind. We caught up since i saw her last and we brought our stuff in the theater. We went out to look for Dar and found her on the street. After some catch up, we ended up going to dinner with Marika and Saxon. But Lucy and I continued to talk. I merched with her and for her and by the end of the night. I decided that even though we met a few times before. In Ringwood and Amagansett, even though i had seen her at Carnegie Hall and in prospect park and ran into her on the streets of Manhattan that she is someone that i could be friends with .

I really enjoyed her company and even getting lost with her on the way home. Lucy is a ex teacher, Dar's friend and past babysitter and a singer songewriter in her own right. She is kind and caring...

its nice to make a new friend.

The show was great and Dar pulled out some older songs. There were so many people there that i didnt expect to come. Bobbi, Laurina who will be working with Dar, Sally Lindsay who i miss dearly... Amy, Joanna Jen... Marika- Saxon...and i was merching the show...
where do i put the limited time that I had.... and ofcourse to catch up with Dar...

Lucy and i got horribly lost of the way home and i went by way of was 245 as i pulled up to my house, only to try to find parking....

It was a late night...and went to sleep early am..

Today, i did some more chores... none extra than i planned and i am off again

Thursday, September 13, 2007

rosh hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Level: Basic
Rosh Hashanah (in Hebrew)

...In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24

Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game.

There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. More on this concept at Days of Awe.

The name "Rosh Hashanah" is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25.

Shofar: The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, "big tekiah"), the final blast in a set, which lasts (I think) 10 seconds minimum. Click the shofar above to hear an approximation of the sound of Tekiah Shevarim-Teruah Tekiah. The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar's sound is a call to repentance. The shofar is not blown if the holiday falls on Shabbat.

No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Much of the day is spent in synagogue, where the regular daily liturgy is somewhat expanded. In fact, there is a special prayerbook called the machzor used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because of the extensive liturgical changes for these holidays.

Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year. This was the second Jewish religious practice I was ever exposed to (the first one: lighting Chanukkah candles), and I highly recommend it. It's yummy. We also dip bread in honey (instead of the usual practice of sprinkling salt on it) at this time of year for the same reason.

Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh ("casting off"). We walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. This practice is not discussed in the Bible, but is a long-standing custom. Tashlikh is normally observed on the afternoon of the first day, before afternoon services. When the first day occurs on Shabbat, many synagogues observe Tashlikh on Sunday afternoon, to avoid carrying (the bread) on Shabbat.

Religious services for the holiday focus on the concept of G-d's sovereignty.

The common greeting at this time is L'shanah tovah ("for a good year"). This is a shortening of "L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." More on that concept at Days of Awe.

You may notice that the Bible speaks of Rosh Hashanah as occurring on the first day of the seventh month. The first month of the Jewish calendar is Nissan, occurring in March and April. Why, then, does the Jewish "new year" occur in Tishri, the seventh month?

Judaism has several different "new years," a concept which may seem strange at first, but think of it this way: the American "new year" starts in January, but the new "school year" starts in September, and many businesses have "fiscal years" that start at various times of the year. In Judaism, Nissan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and months on the calendar, Elul 1 (in August) is the new year for the tithing of animals, Shevat 15 (in February) is the new year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years (when we increase the year number. Sabbatical and Jubilee years begin at this time).

See Extra Day of Jewish Holidays for an explanation of why this holiday is celebrated for two days instead of the one specified in the Bible.


Today is the first day of Rosh Hashanah this year. The weather is a crisp fall day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Capricorn Horoscope for week of September 13, 2007

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
"Dear Rob: In your book 'PRONOIA,' you say, 'The universe always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.' I have a different view. I often find that I disagree with what the Universe decides is best for me. But that turns out to be a good thing. It's fun for me to always be arguing with God! I learn a lot and generate a lot of high energy from trying to outmaneuver the divine will. What do you think about that? -Cagey Capricorn." Dear Cagey: Whatever works! I think your approach may be especially useful for your fellow Capricorns to try now. Thanks for articulating it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Near Ground Zero, Much Is Changed on 6th Anniversary

Near Ground Zero, Much Is Changed on 6th Anniversary

Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: September 12, 2007

For the first time in six years, Sept. 11 fell on a Tuesday, the same day the planes flew into the buildings and changed everything. .
ory at a Time

Yet much was different at the increasingly familiar ceremony in Lower Manhattan, where families of the dead, public officials and visitors gathered to mourn and remember.

Unlike the awful, brilliant day of the attacks, this year’s skies were moody and dark, alternately threatening and delivering rain. The ceremony took place not at ground zero, where construction cranes now rise like tentative fingers of hope, but near its southeastern corner, in Zuccotti Park.

The families began trickling in at 7 a.m., some clutching bouquets of flowers, others holding heart-shaped balloons, eventually filling the park by the hundreds and taking refuge from sporadic drizzle under a sea of dark umbrellas.

And then, as it has for five years before, the remembrance ceremony assumed its recognizable form. At 8:40 a.m., the Brooklyn Youth Chorus took the stage, and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” their voices sounding like angels as mourners held aloft photos of people who, to them, are angels now, too. Afterward, the drummer for the New York Police Department marching band sounded a mournful heartbeat, and then the bagpipers began.

At 8:46 a.m., the moment the first plane struck the North Tower, a bell was sounded, as it has for six years now, and the gathered masses bowed their heads.

“On that day, we felt isolated, but not for long, and not from each other,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said. “New Yorkers rushed to the site, not knowing which place was safe or if there was more danger ahead. They weren’t sure of anything except that they had to be here. Six years have passed, and our place is still by your side.” In Washington, unlike previous anniversaries of the attack, President Bush spent the day in the city after attending a service at St. John’s Episcopal Church and holding a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House.

Not far away, a ceremony was held at the Pentagon, where 184 people died when an American Airlines flight crashed into the sprawling building.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, laid a wreath at the spot where the airplane struck.

General Pace, in his full Marine Corps dress uniform, told the victims’ families that their loved ones would be remembered.

“I do not know the proper words to tell you what is in my heart, what is in our hearts, what your fellow citizens are thinking today,” he said. “We certainly hope that somehow these observances will help lessen your pain.”

In Shanksville, Pa., the ceremony to honor the victims of United Flight 93 was intentionally smaller and more intimate on this sixth anniversary, but no less emotional for the families of the victims and visitors who came to take part and observe.

“I thought it would feel different” with a smaller crowd, said Tanja Root, 36, of Cedar Grove, N.J., whose husband’s aunt, Lorraine Bay, was a flight attendant who died on Flight 93. “But it’s the same feelings, and just as hard.”

With a crowd of perhaps 400 visitors and just two main political dignitaries,- Gov. Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania and the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, the ceremony was in sharp contrast to last year’s longer and larger gathering that included a visit from President Bush.

Mr. Chertoff observed: “Some people ask the question: Do we have 9/11 fatigue? Has the time come to move on? I will tell you that as long as I draw a breath, I will not move on and neither will the 280,000 people in my department.”

Mr. Rendell, spoke of the need to complete a permanent memorial on this site about 80 miles east of Pittsburgh, before living memories fade.

Families of the crash victims have estimated that such a memorial would cost about $57 million and have said that only about $30 million of the public’s contribution has been raised.

Rain began falling as the modest ceremony began at about 9:45 am Eastern time. Many participants stood under umbrellas in this rural countryside as the speakers gave their addresses and the name of the victims were recited.

After Mayor Bloomberg spoke in Lower Manhattan, 236 emergency workers from an array of city agencies and religious entities, read, in alphabetical order, the names of the day’s 2,750 victims at the World Trade Center.

At 10 a.m. after a moment of silence to mark the collapse of the South Tower, Rudolph W. Giuliani made a brief statement. The presence of the former mayor, who is running for president, had stirred controversy from those not wanting to politicize these ceremonies, although he has attended every year.
“On this day six years ago and on the days that followed in the midst of our great grief and turmoil, we also witnessed uncompromising strength and resilience as a people,” Mr. Giuliani said. “It was a day with no answers, but with an unending line of those who came forward to try to help one another.

Mr. Giuliani added: “Elie Wiesel wrote this about the blackest night a human being can know: ‘I have learned two lessons in my life. First, there are no significant literary, psychological or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones. Second, just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope too can be given to one only by other human beings.”‘

Several witnesses at the ceremony described a confrontation between a man and Mr. Giuliani, with Sara Kugler of The Associated Press reported that a young man and a woman from the line of family members began yelling and pushing and trying to get near Mr. Giuliani.

The woman with that man, Sabrina Rivera, said she was there mourning her ex-boyfriend’s father, Lt. Robert F. Wallace of the Fire Department. "Because of Giuliani we never had closure," Ms. Rivera said. "We never had closure because as soon as 9/11 happened he had all the remains shipped to Staten Island, in the dump, in the landfill. And we never had closure because of him."

After the outburst, Ms. Rivera and the man who yelled at Mr. Giuliani they were asked to keep walking and to leave the area.

Construction at ground zero was stilled for the day, but the roar of an awakening Manhattan filled the air. Cars crept along West Street, sirens yelped, and workers in nearby office buildings peered down from windows at the proceedings, and then retreated back to work.

And huddled under their umbrellas, shifting awkwardly because there were no seats, the relatives held up the photos of their perished loved ones, visceral reminders of the day they may hate to remember but cannot bear to forget.

“All those amazing incredible people who became victims that day. Please know your loved ones along with your loved ones’ families and friends are remembered in our prayers,” said one woman, after reading off the names of a dozen victims.

“Please know that we will never forget.”

Though Manhattan was shrouded in fog, its skyline obscured from the New Jersey shoreline, about 100 people gathered on the cliffs in West Orange, where hundreds had watched horror unfold six years before.

In the days and months that followed the attacks, the site, at the Eagle Rock Reservation, became almost sacred, as people flocked there to pray and reflect, and mourn all that was lost in the hole punched into Manhattan’s skyline. Around the first-year anniversary of the attacks, Essex County officials constructed a formal monument, with the names of the day’s victims etched on stone tables behind a cluster of statues — a young girl holding a teddy bear, a firefighter’s helmet, a patrolman’s cap, an eagle.

In brief remarks to the crowd gathered there today, Don Robertson Sr. recalled the daily routine of his son, Donald Robertson Jr. His son worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, was 35 and a father of four when he died in the North Tower.

“On 9/11/01, he went to work that day and never came home,” Mr. Robertson said. In the lapel of his dark blazer, he wore a button with a photograph of his son wearing a football uniform from Columbia High School.

Mr. Robertson, who said that he hoped he represented the families of the 49 other Essex County residents who died in the attacks — in all, more than 700 New Jersey residents were killed — added that the site had a particular significance because his family had not been given any remains or personal effects of his son.

“Eagle Rock,” he said, “is really our cemetery.”

It was a day when frayed, well-worn emotions became raw once again. In Albertson, on Long Island, a town councilman’s voice broke as he read the name of a victim, Michael John Cahill, whose son had attended kindergarten with his daughter.

“For a kindergartner to realize,” the councilman, Thomas K. Dwyer, continued, his voice catching again, “what was going on.”

G-d appears in an eggplant

9-11 again

Living With the Dead by Alice Sebold
September 11, 2005, The New York Times

Oakland, Calif. - And where do the dead go after they have sucked down their last breaths and drowned in the rafters of their homes? After they have died in the aftermath of fiery explosion? Do they gather, as some believe, together, and ascend to an otherworldly level; or do they remain, watching; or disappear altogether? Do they wait to hear the stories we will tell?

The truth is, none of us knows what the dead do. But on earth, where we remain, the living become the keepers of their memory. This is an awesome and overwhelming responsibility. And it is simple: we must not forget them.

These first weeks after Hurricane Katrina, this fourth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, are not the dangerous days. The dangerous ones are ahead of us—always. They are the days when if we are not careful the dead will fall away from us because of our neglect.

There are the grieving families who will never forget. The co-workers and neighbors who survived, who, like those left living at the end of war, may be haunted for the rest of their lives. Why was one person taken and not another?

What I would wish for us is that we would turn away from being obsessed by numbers or by politics, and sit with our dead. That we would listen to what they have to tell us instead of doing the easier things: tossing back and forth volleys of blame, recrimination and muscular public bluster.

No, New Orleans will not come back as it was. And yes, it will come back.

No, a new building is not the World Trade Center, but there can still be a new heart for downtown Manhattan.

But no matter what, you cannot bring the dead back. They are gone.

What can the living do in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, where loss has greeted us twice on a national scale in such a short span of years?

Do the dead wish you to suffer? Do they want you to watch CNN and Fox News for days on end? Do they want your guilt or pity? All of these things are like jewels to them. In other words—valueless where they have gone.

Instead, a woman wants her husband not to forget her but to go on and live. A child longs for a lost mother's arms again. A man grows peaceful when his partner finds new love. Some of the dead, I imagine, get enraged at these things. They are dead after all. They get to do and feel—I hope—what they want to.

The living who were close to the dead have a well-marked path of grief to walk down. But what about the rest of us? What can we, the distant—those of us who live in Nebraska or California or the very tip of Maine—do?

You are in your kitchen or your backyard or stuck on an endless elevator ride. You are sitting with a book in the park. Perhaps it is an image you remember having seen. A handmade grave of sheets and bricks. "Here Lies Vera. God Help Us." Perhaps it is the voice from a message left on an answering machine. "They have told us to remain at our desks. I'm O.K., Mom. I love you."

Perhaps it is less specific: Bodies falling from high windows, bodies floating in muddy water. Bodies wrapped in dirty bedding and tucked along the sides of bridges and highways. The faces of the missing, taped and tacked up on a wall.

Whatever it is that comes to you in three months, six months, a year or more, don't turn the page of your book and forget, don't stab the elevator button trying to hurry up the trip. Stop.

These tragedies, it's worth remembering, grant us an opportunity to understand what is perhaps our finest raw material: our humanity. The way we at our best treat one another. The way we listen to one another. The way we grieve.

Who can forget the funerals of the firemen lost in the twin towers? Who can imagine the funerals to come in the weeks and months ahead in Louisiana and Mississippi? We won't be present, in front of our television or through the newspaper, for all of them. The press itself cannot, beyond a certain point, do anything but name and count the dead.

So grieve for the particular lives that come to you. Think of the grandmother slumped in her wheelchair under a plaid blanket, or the body of a young financial analyst from West Virginia who was never found but whose smiling face still greets us from a Web site of the dead. Let them guide you to understand that it is our absolute vulnerability that provides our greatest chance to be human.

Look up from this newspaper you are reading, ignore the morning traffic you may find yourself in tomorrow, turn off the television one day this week and watch the moon. Think of the dead of 9/11 and of Hurricane Katrina. Stay there a moment. Remember them.

Monday, September 10, 2007



By Reuven Kimelman

Our teacher, Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), served as Professor of Jewish Ethics and Mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America from 1945 to 1972. No title could be more fitting. He was Professor of Ethics and Mysticism not only by lecturing on the principles of ethics and mysticism but also by professing ethics and highlighting the mystery of being.

There is as much need for compelling models of righteousness as there is for precision in determining what is right. While religious ideas may engage the mind, it is the religious person who makes the religious option compelling. We too often presume that the purpose of saints is to provide triumphal adornment for the tradition, when in fact, comments one observer, their task is to wrest that ever-receding tradition into immediate availability through the medium of their own lives. Heschel made his impact by the wholeness of his person, by his passion for social justice, by his scholarship in the Jewish tradition, and by his religious thinking on the human situation.

He alone possessed the richness of language to express what his person meant to his friends and students, his colleagues and his people, his nation and the world. Only his own eloquence could do justice to that most superlative of men. We must use his words now, words he once used in a eulogy: "The beauty he created in his writings, the dignity and force he lent to the life and literature of Judaism, the sensibility to the Jewish spirit which he inspired in his students, the abundance of his learning, the radiant vitality of his understanding for human beings, for works of art, for subtleties of words, and above all the integrity of his character, his unassuming and magnificent piety, his power to revere and to love." This was Abraham Joshua Heschel.

There are many people from whom we can learn methods, skills, and techniques. There are a few from whom we can learn the meaning and the secret of nobility. Heschel would quote a Hassidic master: "The Jew's greatest sin is to forget that he is the son of a King."

He walked on a higher plane than most of us. In my mind, his name has always evoked an image of exaltation. He was able to sense glory where others could see only darkness. He was blessed with a gift which few men possess: the marvel of presence. He did not have to speak to communicate his faith, his convictions, his nobility. His very presence communicated a vision. His outwardness conveyed something of his indwelling greatness. His very being radiated a sacred meaning.

Some people are like commas in the text of Jewish life; Heschel was an exclamation point. He was honest with his God, and honest with his fellow men. He burned with sincerity. In the last week of his life he mentioned having just completed his work on the Kotzker Rebbe entitled, A Passion for Sincerity. I asked him why he did not translate emes as truth or integrity. "The word is sincerity," he replied. Ironically, the publisher titled it A Passion for Truth.

It was easy to revere him, for he was endowed with the power to revere. It was easy for many human beings to love him, for he had the power to love many human beings. He had also the capacity for hatred, and despised sham and injustice.

Abraham Joshua Heschel lived out his name. As Abraham, he possessed that distinctive combination of compassion and justice. "He kept the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right." He risked his life, his reputation, the affection of his friends and colleagues to fight for the disenfranchised of this world. At the same time, he could pray for and even forgive those who offended him. Some called him Father Abraham.

As Joshua he fought the battles of the Lord. He attacked anti-Semitism with every fiber of his being. He opposed nihilism with a sense of values that was almost embarrassing. He undermined atheism with the words of the Living God that seared the heart of the listener. He assaulted racism with such a sense of the dignity of man that blocks of human hate were burned upon the altar of shame and contrition. Above all, he stormed the fortress of self-righteous power--the war-makers, impressing upon all that man is not a number, but the image of God.

As Heschel, finally, he was the descendant of the Apter Rav, Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, known as the Ohev Yisrael, Lover of Israel. Such a lover of the holy, the human and the divine, has yet to be seen. Abraham Joshua Heschel had that special pedagogical capacity to make each student feel as most beloved. He once remarked: "We are commanded to love our neighbor: this must mean that we can."

Heschel's meaning for our time is bound up in the impact he made on the passions of the day. Heschel's concern and action have been pivotal in two issues: race and peace. On the first, many will remember the picture of his striding alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., in the protest march at Selma, Alabama. Mrs. Coretta Scott King, in recalling that event, called Heschel "one of the great men of our time." Rabbi Heschel described the march in these words: "For many of us the march from Selma to Montgomery was both protest and prayer. Legs are not lips, and walking is not kneeling. And yet our legs uttered songs. Even without words, our march was worship. I felt my legs were praying."

Less well known was Heschel's prominent role at the National Conference of Religion and Race in Chicago, 1963, a convocation which sparked the participation of clergymen in the great march on Washington later that year. Heschel delivered a major address: "One hundred years ago," he reminded the delegates, "the emancipation was proclaimed. It is time for the white man to strive for self-emancipation, to set himself free of bigotry." The greatest sin, he declared, is that of indifference: "Equality is a good thing ... what is lacking is a sense of the monstrosity of inequality."

It was Heschel, too, who helped organize and serve as co-chairman of Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam, a group which spearheaded the religious opposition to the war. It was typical of Heschel to emphasize concern about Vietnam. While others saw the issue as being one of America's misguided involvement in world affairs, Heschel cried out for the people of Vietnam and for the soul of America.

Heschel's protest went to the deepest level of the issue. To withdraw from Vietnam would no doubt mean losing face, and he understood the dilemmas of the policy-makers. But to remain in Vietnam would mean something worse: losing our souls.

Once Herschel invited to his seminar on ethics, at the Jewish Theological Seminary, an anti-Vietnam war hero who proceeded to try to convince him to go to jail to save his soul by arguing that no one of integrity can willfully benefit from a corrupt society. Heschel asked if that would bring the end to the war one day closer? His would-be savior answered, "Regardless!" Heschel then refused, saying that we cannot indulge in the saving of our souls at the possible expense of the lives of others.

He regarded the continuation and escalation of the war as yet another instance of that moral callousness, that insensitivity to the sufferings of others which, combined with an overweening confidence in the righteousness of a position, underlay the problems of America. And so he called--long before this became a theme of political campaigns--for national repentance, for a return to conscience and an enlargement of the moral imagination, for a dedication to peace rather than victory. In particular he appealed to those of religious faith. "To speak about God," he proclaimed, "and remain silent on Vietnam, is blasphemous." One of his last public acts was a visit to a prison to witness the release of, and to welcome back, that war protestor.

What pained Heschel most of all was the relative silence of the Jews. When one remembers the masses of Jews participating in the civil rights struggle as though they were going forth from Egypt again, one is struck by their relative reticence on the war. Not that Jews did not speak out; they did, as always, well out of proportion to their number. What grieved Heschel was that for twenty years we had been condemning the good, but silent Germans. And now within only one generation there were Jews who were satisfied being good, silent Americans. In a democracy, a silent majority is a scared majority. Still, as far as I know, Heschel, unlike younger spokesmen, refused to use the language of the Holocaust even to discuss Vietnam, for he understood the horrible singularity of Auschwitz. But his rallying cry of "Some are guilty, but all are responsible," simmered with the question of "Where art Thou?"

Early in the 1960's, when Heschel was forging concern for Vietnam, he was simultaneously lighting the spark for one of the greatest protest movements of Jewish history--Soviet Jewry. Back in 1963 it was Heschel who first declared that Soviet Jewry was the number one priority of American Jews. On September 4, 1963, he sounded the call: "East European Jewry vanished. Russian Jewry is the last remnant of a people destroyed in extermination camps, the last remnant of spiritual glory that is no more. We ask for no privilege; all we demand is an end to the massive and systematic liquidation of the religious and cultural heritage of an entire community, and equality with all the other cultural and religious minorities. Let the twentieth century not enter the annals of Jewish history as the century of physical and spiritual destruction! If I forget thee, 0 Russian Jewry..."

It was Heschel who addressed the White House Conference on Children and Youth. And it was Heschel who addressed the White House Conference on Aging, when, like Maimonides, he spoke of old age as a disposition to achieve moral virtue, as the age of opportunity for inner growth. At the American Medical Association, it was Heschel who reminded the physicians of the sacredness of their task. At Protestant and Catholic conferences throughout the country it was Heschel who, by speaking out for the meaning of true religion, represented the wholeness of Judaism. And, of course, it was Heschel who represented the diverse and scattered Jewish community in urging the Pope to rectify a 1900-year-old injustice which had caused untold misery and interreligious animus.

Heschel's fulfilled desire to be connected with such diverse constituencies is reflected in the fact that over thirty national organizations, Jewish and otherwise, sponsored the sheloshim in his honor. His roots in Judaism reached so deep that they penetrated that substratum of life which nourishes all mankind. Heschel's ability to relate to so many people on their various levels flowed from his conviction that man's grandeur surpasses his ideologies. His ability to deal with the thought and attitudes of so many religious communities issued from a certitude that God transcends His theologies.

When Heschel spoke, people sensed a vibrant, incarnated tradition. He never had to make forced connections with Judaism; he was the connection. To hear him in an address echoing the perspectives of Moses, Hillel, Saadyah, and the Ari was to witness a three thousand year tradition rolled up into one soul. He once declared that "the ultimate meaning of existence is to be a religious witness." By this he meant "compasion for God, reverence for man, celebration of holiness in time, sensitivity to the mystery of being a Jew, sensitivity to the presence of God in the Bible."

It was Heschel who issued a call for renewal at the 28th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. There he echoed the concerns of his address at the 1957 Jerusalem Ideological Conference when he had spoken of "the sin we have sinned in disparaging the spirit," and in not teaching that Judaism is "a joy of the spirit and the Paradise of the soul." "Judaism," he declared, "is not a matter of blood or race, but a spiritual dimension of existence, a dimension of holiness. We are messengers; let us not forget our message."

"Who is a Jew? he asked in 1972. "A person who knows how to recall and to keep alive what is holy in our people's past, and to cherish the promise and the vision of redemption in the days to come." He concluded by calling our attention to what could be "a golden hour in Jewish history. Young people are waiting, craving, searching for spiritual meaning. And our leadership is unable to respond, to guide, to illumine. With Zion as evidence and inspiration, as witness and example, a renewal of our people should come about."

No one knew better than he that authentic renewal will be based on a return to our sources. And it is in such a light that Professor Heschel's formidable accomplishments in Jewish scholarship must be viewed. In a review of these accomplishments, Professor Seymour Siegel rightly quoted Heschel's comment on Maimonides: "The achievements seem so incredible that one is almost inclined to believe that Maimonides is the name of a whole academy of scholars rather than the name of an individual."

Professor Siegel went on to say that in most of his scholarly work, Heschel touches upon the relationship between mind and mystery-- between that which can be expressed and that which is greater than our power to describe. This is usually called the relationship betweeen faith and reason. But in Heschel's thought it is much more than this. It is no less than the recognition that sensitive scholars and thinkers have always realized that they existed in a reality surrounded by the ineffable, and that all of life, whether it be theologizing, philosophizing, or performing sacred deeds, is an attempt--never completely successful-- to express this overwhelming experience.

I am unaware of any other scholar in recent history who has contributed a new scholarly understanding to each of the four pivotal periods of pre-modern Jewish existence. For the Biblical period, The Prophets articulates the divine pathos of the Most Moved Mover's involvement in the affairs of man. This is done through a systematic presentation of the assumptions of Biblical thought. For the Rabbinic period, Torah Min HaShamayim BeAsplaqariah Shel HaDorot depicts the complexity of rabbinic reflection on the religious situation. Heschel discovered two internally consistent schools of thought which he organized under the rubrics of the school of Rabbi Ishmael and the school of Rabbi Akiba, both of which, he claimed, became formative for subsequent Jewish intellectual history. Two volumes of this study on revelation and the human response were published in his lifetime. The third awaits publication. This triolgy which traces the internal dialectic of Jewish theology throughout its history serves as his magnum opus. Without such an understanding of the woof and warp of Judaism his writings on contemporary theology are almost inconceivable.

The highpoints of Heschel's investigations in medieval thought deal with the expectation of prophecy and the claim for individual inspiration. Some of his most distinctive work was generated by asking not so much what the philosopher said as asking what were his questions. Heschel held that the answer of a philospher serves as a window to his soul. This approach is beautifully illustrated by his existential biography of Maimonides. Although Isaiah, Rabbi Akiba, the Baal Shem, and Rabbi Mendel of Kotsk were his constant companions, it was Maimonides, I think, who was his model. And like his mentor, he put off many scholarly dreams to dedicate himself to the sickness of mankind. History may yet say: "From Abraham to Abraham..."

Heschel's work reached its climax in his study of mysticism and Hassidism. Although he left the center of Hassidic life to go to Berlin, Hassidism never really left him. For some strange reason, which only his disciples sense, he put off making his major contribution to the understanding of Hassidism. Previously, he had written on specific Hassidic masters, and had described their world in The Earth is the Lord's. And yet, it was not until the last week of his life that he finished a full-length portrait of Rabbi Mendel of Kotsk whom he compared with the Baal Shem Tov. It was with this book that he repaid his debt to the world of Hassidism and was laid to rest. Heschel's books were adorned with impressive scholarly bibliographies. But they read like seforim--holy books. Indeed, his books illustrate his own insight: "Judaism teaches that God can be found in books." Despite Heschel's rhapsody of the sublime, the wondrous, the awesome, and the mysterious, he still felt that--

God is more immediately found in the Bible as well as in acts of kindness and worship than in the mountains and forests. It is more meaningful for us to believe in the immanence of God in deeds than in the immanence of God in nature. Indeed, the concern of Judaism is primarily not how to find the presence of God in the world of things but how to let Him enter the ways in which we deal with things; how to be with Him in time, not only in space. This is why the mitsvah is a supreme source of religious insight and experience. The way to God is a way of God, and the mitsvah is a way of God,..a mitsvah is where God and man meet.

Many of us, before we encountered Heschel, thought that Tradition served to limit our horizons. But his teachings were so expansive, his insights from traditional sources so breathtaking, that we were tempted to run back to the safe bosom of secularism. Such an escape, however, was impossible, for he never permitted us to flee from intellectual challenges. Above all, by teaching us that there is a God in this world, he helped us overcome our common embarrassment with serious theological discussion.

Heschel's contribution to contemporary thought is well-reflected in the titles of his theological works: Man Is Not Alone, God In Search of Man, and Who Is Man? Underlying much of his theological perspective is what Edward Kaplan has astutely called "the displacement of subjectivity." The Bible, Heschel helped us to see, frequently presents matters from a divine perspective. It thus reflects more divine anthropology than human theology. It is not so much that God is a symbol of human thought as that man is a symbol (tselem) of divine thought. Similarly, God is not so much a need of man as man is a need of God, for religion is as much a result of God's search for man as man's search for God.

In this manner, the Book of Job and Abraham's argument with God over Sodom are understood not so much as man's attempt at theodicy as God's attempt at anthropodicy. It is not God's commitment to justice which is at stake as much as Job's integrity and Abraham's commitment to justice. Indeed, the Bible can be seen as a tragedy wherein God fails to find a righteous man.

Similarly, Heschel viewed prayer not as an encounter with God, but as an event of being encountered by God. In prayer, he taught, our asking of God gives way before the awareness of being asked by God. Heschel taught that religion begins with a question and that theology begins with a problem. He even went so far as to assert that a person without a problem may not be a person. His teaching was not directed at resolving our problems as much as provoking our questions. Even then, his most common response in class was, "Is that the real question?"

Some critics avoided grappling with the philosophical challenges posed by Heschel by conveniently categorizing him as a "mere" poet or mystic. Realizing that we apprehend more than we comprehend, Heschel refused to reduce the perceptions of the mind to the rationally transparent. He knew only too well how much of religious affirmation is sheer metonymy; that religious language demands the "accommodation of words to higher meanings." Thus he did not hesitate to deploy a poetic turn to point to "the unutterable surplus of what we feel." He, of course, also rejected any flight to irrationality, rather he urged us to see the mystery in the interstitial crevices of everyday being. To adequately grasp Heschel's thought, we must follow his advice to "unthink many thoughts."

Abraham Joshua Heschel left this world on the Sabbath, that day of peace which he taught so many of us to appreciate and celebrate as a foretaste of eternity.

He once said: "There are three ways in which a man expresses his deep sorrow: the man on the lowest level cries; the man on the next level is silent; the man on the highest level knows how to turn his sorrow into a song." In that spirit, may the following dayyenu suffice:

* Had he illuminated the prophetic experience and the intellectual relevance of the Bible, but had not depicted how the struggles of the Rabbis illuminate our own religious situation, it would have been enough.
* Had he depicted the intellectual struggles of the Rabbis and not shown how medieval Jewish philosophy is the window to the soul of the Jewish intellect, it would have been enough.
* Had he shown how medieval Jewish philosophy is the window to the soul of the Jewish intellect, but not demonstrated how the mystical-Hassidic experience is the interior way of living Jewishly in the world, it would have been enough.
* Had he demonstrated how the mystical-Hassidic experience is the interior way of living Jewishly in the world, but not illuminated the categories of contemporary Jewish existence, it would have been enough.

And now that he has illuminated such categories from Auschwitz to Israel, from suffering to the Sabbath, from prayer to ethics, from Warsaw to Berlin, from New York to Selma, from Washington to Rome, from Hanoi to Moscow, and from Jerusalem below to Jerusalem above, how much more is doubled and redoubled our indebtedness to Abraham Joshua Heschel, who bore witness to the meaning of being Jewish in the twentieth century.

* * * * *

Rabbi Sharon Borus

Saturday morning, i heard an interview on NPR- Speaking of Faith with Rabbi Sharon Borus. She was enlightening and deeply spiritual and religious and spoke of her commitment to her religion with such a genuineness that i had to seek her out.

Heshbon haNefesh: An Accounting of the Soul
Erev Rosh Hashanah 5767
by Sharon Brous

A couple of weeks ago an Op-Ed appeared in the New York Times, graphically charting some of the major world events of past 5 years since September 11, 2001.

Second Intifada
Afghan invasion
Collapse of Enron
Disintegration of Space Shuttle Columbia
Invasion of Iraq
outbreak and containment of SARS
Madrid train bombings
Abu Ghraib
Russian School Massacre
Genocide in Darfur
Hurricane Katrina
Avian Flu
Israeli withdrawal from Gaza
earthquake in Pakistan
Hamas wins victory
Dick Cheney shoots a guy(!)
Israel fights war with Hezbollah
trans-Atlantic terror plot thwarted

My friends, we are living in time of cataclysmic upheaval. We come to Rosh Hashanah asking what it means to be a Jew and a human being when the world looks as it does?

Rav Kook taught:

There are those who sing the song of their own soul, finding therein everything: full spiritual satisfaction…
And there are those who sing the song of the people, moving beyond their own soul, reaching for more powerful heights…
And there are those whose souls lift beyond the limitation of Israel, to sing the song of all humanity. This spirit expands to include the glory of the human image and its dreams…
And there are those who lift beyond this level, becoming one with all creation and all creatures, and all the worlds… and with all of these worlds sing a song…
And there are those who rise together with the bungle of all these songs. All of them sing out, each gives meaning and life to the other.
And this completeness is the song of holiness, the song of God, and the song of Israel.

Our rabbis lay out a counter-instinctual path: In order to transform the soul of the world, we must first be willing to transform our own souls. A world of peace and justice will come only when we journey from the self outward. In order to begin to bring healing to the world, we must first sing the song of the soul — a song of pain, loss, triumph and fulfillment.

We begin the New Year by exploring the inner reaches of our lives, doing Heshbon haNefesh, a bold, unapologetic, unequivocal Accounting of the Soul. We ask ourselves: Who am I? Where am I in my life? In what ways have I let my insecurities, my self doubt stifle me? In what ways have I hardened my heart to the people around me? What relationships am I in that diminish my dignity? Have I let myself love? Have I let others love me? What pain have I caused? What potential do I have? Has my year been marked more by longing or gratitude? By brokenness or wholeness? By distrust or faith? By animus or by love? Rav Kook taught that a person could not rise to the spiritual level of seeking the healing of society without a deep inner teshuvah for every personal wrongdoing. So here our work begins.

Like so many of us, Jacob runs away from home. After deceiving his father and brother and bringing immeasurable pain to his family, he runs rather than endure the consequences. But Jacob cannot escape, because he thinks he is running from a vengeful Esau (angry that his birthright was stolen), but in actuality he is running away from himself. In sheer exhaustion, Jacob puts his head down on a rock at night, and he falls into a deep sleep.

In his sleep he has a vision of a ladder rooted on earth but reaching all the way to heaven, with angels are traveling up and down. The Hasidic Master Ephraim of Sudlikov (the Degel Mahane Ephraim) interprets Jacob's vision, saying that the constant motion — upward and downward — is a metaphor for the spiritual life.

Each one of us has times of deep connection to God, to Torah, to our partners and friends, to the best of ourselves. Maybe some of us here tonight have experienced that depth of connection this year. The Degel Mahane Ephraim describes these as moments of "expanded consciousness," symbolized in the vision by the angels ascending the ladder.

But there are also times of deep disconnect from God, from Torah, from partners and friends, from ourselves, times when we are embarrassed by the way that we have behaved, ashamed of the person we've become. And in these moments we are afflicted by a "contracted consciousness," symbolized in Jacob's dream by the angels descending the ladder.

The great truth revealed here is that it is completely normal for a person to experience both the upward and downward moments — that this fluctuation is an inherent dimension of a dynamic spiritual life. Anyone who is spiritually and emotionally awake will inevitably have moments of deep disconnect. Similarly, any real relationship (marriage, friendship, partnership) will inevitably have moments of deep alienation. Not only is it completely normal, but it is actually spiritually healthy for us to have moments of darkness, of disunity, of disconnect. In fact, this is what makes us spiritually alive! The spiritual life is not a quest for contentment, but rather a quest for authenticity. And an authentic experience of the world sometimes renders us moments of contracted consciousness.

The danger is that we see ourselves stuck on the bottom rung of the ladder. We imagine that we are paralyzed in the place of darkness and disconnect, that our spiritual lives, our relationships, our careers, our families must be as they are. But Jacob's vision points to the power of spiritual mobility. The figures ascending and descending the ladder are in constant motion, never dwelling too long on the bottom rung.

A stone is characterized by its finality, whereas man's outstanding quality is in its being a surprise. To claim to be what I am not is a pretension. To insist that I must be only what I am now is a restriction which human nature must abhor. The being of a person is never complete, final.
–Abraham Joshua Heschel, Who is Man?

It's so hard to change. So many of us look at our darkest bruises and say "My marriage will never change" — or "This is just who I am. I can't shake it" — all the while racing forward with our lives, papering over the anguish growing beneath the surface.

In the eyes of our tradition, this is nothing short of heretical. To be awake and alive is to be dynamic —

to resist the petrification of self that comes from fear of change,
to allow ourselves to transform and be transformed,
to acknowledge that although there is often serious loss in change (it may mean giving up something that is core to our sense of self—), we can survive the tumult and come out the other side.

The irony is that we need to stop running, stop filling our lives with empty calories, stop moving, in order to realize that we are truly mobile, spiritually. Jacob has to literally put his head on a rock — which is unchangeable and complete — in order to remember that he is not yet complete.

Thus Jacob's vision is at once a rejection of escapism — running away from ourselves, and at the same time a warning not to submit to the rigidification of the self.

But it can also be read as an affirmation that life must be lived with firm roots in real world — the base of the ladder — yet simultaneously with deep attachment to the values and ideals of heaven — the ladder's peak.

We must in the same breath hold who we are — with our limitations, our loneliness, our lack of direction — and who we dream we can become — people fulfilled, loved and in love, creatively challenged, spiritually and intellectually awake.

We must in the same breath hold the reality of our world — plagued by terror, hatred and indifference, by poverty, hopelessness, illness and loss — and dream of what the world could be — one in which all children can eat before going to bed at night, in which nobody is orphaned to AIDS, in which Jews and Christians and Muslims can share in God's blessings with hearts open to one another, in which love triumphs over hatred and compassion over brutality.

As Rabbi Yitz Greenberg teaches, if we dwell only in the reality, we forget to imagine that our lives and the world can look different than they do. But, at the same time, if we dwell only in the dream, we forget to get our hands dirty working to repair the reality. The angels travelling up and down come to symbolize the authenticity of both the reality and the dream, and the fluidity between the two. Our challenge is to be able to bridge the division between the two, and, like the angels, to work to bring our reality closer to the world we dream of and long for.

Jacob sees this vision in a moment of darkness, fear and loneliness. From that darkness, Jacob is told to stop running away and instead confront his real capacity to change, and to dream that his life can be different than it is. What a powerful challenge for us! It is precisely in our moments of fear, isolation and even paralysis, that we are reminded to dream — to imagine waking up every morning to a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in our lives.

Many of us see ourselves tonight at the bottom of the ladder.

We have made terrible mistakes,
we have spoken badly about friends and colleagues,
we have been callous and dismissive.
We have projected our love where it does not belong,
and withheld it from where it does.
We have let our insecurities paralyze us.
We have devalued others,
we have devalued ourselves.
We have neglected our families,
we have neglected the world for the sake of our families…

The foundational assumption of the holidays is that if we don't stop to engage these questions, we will continue to run through our lives, filling ourselves up with distractions — cars, vacations, frenzied work lives, (frenzied) social lives — and avoiding the real work that needs to be done. But comes Rosh Hashanah to force us to stop — to assess, to redress, to recreate, to reengage, to emerge from the paralysis of our spiritual escapism. Rosh Hashanah is our ROCK: it is unchanging — the mahzor is the same, the nusah is the same — but our encounter with it every year awakens within us the realization that we are different. Stop running, and realize that you possess great spiritual mobility. Rest your weary heads on the rock-pillow of the High Holy Days, and recognize that as human beings we fundamentally differ from rigid and unchangeable rocks.

"Hayom harat olam" — today is the birth of something completely new.

I can move, I can change, I can forgive, I can be forgiven.
I can be the mother, husband, sister, friend, teacher, writer, artist I need to be.
I can step out of the lethargy of self doubt and fully become myself.
I can transform my life tonight,

through teshuvah — working toward reconciliation, asking for forgiveness and granting it,
through tefillah — turning to God with an open and humble heart and allowing some light to seep in,
through tzedakah — devoting myself to justice, dignity and peace in our world.

Jacob wakes up after his dream and proclaims: Surely God dwells in this place, and I, I didn't know it! (Gen. 28:16).

What does God's presence mean to Jacob in that moment?

Maybe that he is not alone, no matter how lonely he is.
Maybe that the answers he was searching for were already within him.
Maybe that he — a person created in the image of God — has the capacity to recreate himself.

May we, too, wake up — and, sensing God's guiding presence, begin to walk forward, purposefully and intentionally, toward a new life.

Shanah Tovah.

This sermon was given on September 14, 2006, and was reprinted with permission of the author.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

my summer Passion BIG LOVE

As if juggling three wives weren't tricky enough, Season Two of Emmy®- and Golden Globe®-nominated 'Big Love' finds modern polygamist Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) tackling problems outside his three-house suburban home. As a failed expansion and a suspicious employee entangle his work at Henrickson Home Plus, Bill races to find the person responsible for outing his wife Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) as a polygamist at Utah's Mother of the Year ceremony. Meanwhile, back at the fundamentalist Juniper Hill compound, prophet Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton) sets his sights on Bill's brother Joey (Shawn Doyle) as leverage to regain a share of the family business. Throw a pregnant Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) and an overcompensating Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) into the mix, and Bill won't be getting much sleep at any of his houses. Bold, funny and wholly original, Big Love continues to explore the evolving institution of marriage through this typically atypical family.

The executive producers of BIG LOVE are Playtone's Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman and series creators Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer (writer of HBO's "In the Gloaming"), who produced the independent feature film "Easter."

Big Love stars Bill Paxton ("Twister," "A Simple Plan"), Jeanne Tripplehorn ("The Firm"), ChloĆ« Sevigny (Oscar®-nominated for "Boys Don't Cry," "Dogville"), Ginnifer Goodwin ("Walk the Line," "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!"), Harry Dean Stanton ("The Green Mile," "Anger Management"), Bruce Dern ("Monster") and Grace Zabriskie ("Twin Peaks"). Other regulars include Amanda Seyfried ("Mean Girls"), Shawn Doyle ("Don't Say a Word") Daveigh Chase ("Lilo & Stitch"), Joel McKinnon Miller ("After the Sunset"), Douglas Smith ("Sleepover"), Melora Walters ("Cold Mountain") and Jolean Wejbe ("Gilmore Girls"). Also featured: Mary Kay Place ("Sweet Home Alabama"), Matt Ross ("Good Night, and Good Luck") and Tina Majorino ("Napoleon Dynamite").