Sunday, September 28, 2008


I went to the Steve Earle at Judson Church show on Friday with Allison Moorer opening. The couple next to me were from Oklahoma. They ran into Steve on Bleeker Street, asked if he was playing this weekend. He told them that the show was sold out and then went on to put these strangers on his guest list.

I wasnt supposed to go back to brooklyn yesterday. I left my house to teach after a short nights sleep. I had school then I went uptown to 99th street to the Open HOuse NY volunteer orientation. Open House NY is next weekend Open House NY I was assigned 4 hours at Temple Emmanu- EL on 65th Street and will cover the lecture by the firm who restored the sanctuary. The firm is well known and worked on other NYC landmarks.

I walked from 72nd to 99th. I was going to go to Peter Mulvey in Madison Sq Park but it was raining so i came back to Brooklyn and got my car in SOHO. I stopped at the key food on 5th and ran into someone I used to work with. I remembered that I ran into Meredith Tarr twice in Manhattan near where i work.

I then went to manhattan earlyish. I thought hte concert started at 8pm with doors at 7pm.... I was mistaken. Doors were at 8 and the show was 9pm and Dar went on at 10pm...

it was a great show in Irving plaza but i was pleased to be going home....

Today a haircut and then prepare for Rosh Hashanah

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Capricorn Horoscope for week of September 25, 2008

Capricorn Horoscope for week of September 25, 2008

Norepinephrine is a hormone that can make you feel good even when it's generated by stress. According to a study by the Positive Health Center in London, successful women produce that hormone in abundance. I have no medical research, just astrological guesswork, to back up my claim that you Capricorns will have a special relationship with norepinephrine in the coming weeks. As a result, high-pressure situations that might have sapped your energy or frayed your nerves in the past may actually energize you. You could find yourself having a blast as you push harder to foster excellence.

where I was Friday... Damn I should have sold the ticket but Jackson Browne was there Thrusday

Steve Earle
Judson Memorial Church
Monday, September 22

I derive great comfort from Steve Earle's well-worn onstage jokes about his myriad ex-wives. Let's not pretend not to have this conversation.

Me: "So how many are there, anyway?"
The Photographer: "Well, that depends. Does Grover Cleveland count as two presidents, or one?"

Anyway, Steve's onstage at this lovely Washington Square church, in full lovely mumbled roar and magnificent comb-over, cracking familiar jokes, but familiar the way old friends (or exes) are familiar:

"This is for what's her name, wherever she is."

[Plays forlorn love song.]

[Ends song, changes harmonica.]

"Okay, same girl, different harmonica."

[Plays another forlorn love song.]
His crowd is rapt, hooting and clapping and interrupting his ambling spiels about dogs, Italy, Lightnin' Hopkins, Townes Van Zandt, the death penalty. Oh yes. It is an election year, you will recall.

"I'm opposed to the death penalty, whatever the crime, no matter what."


"That includes Osama bin Laden."

[Less applause.]

"That includes Dick Cheney."

[Relieved laffs.]

And then he plays forlorn anti-death-penalty ballad "Billy Austin," and it's fuckin' devastating. Love this dude. He's got like 500 songs with "Road" in the title, and they're all splendid. A forgivable indulgence, and speaking of which, he rocks out for 2:20 at least, and only really tears into material off last year's so-so Washington Square Serenade in the second hour. This involves special guests, both excellent (current wife/opening act Allison Moorer, harmonizing splendidly on "Down Here Below") and, uh, quixotic.

The DJ. For more than an hour the turntables loomed behind Steve almost like a threat, but here comes the DJ, who looks less like a DJ and more like the guy who beats the crap out of people at Yankees games for wearing Red Sox gear. For the first several tunes the DJ merely drops the beat and plays with the knobs for five minutes or so; emboldened, he eventually tries backing vocals (goes well) and actual scratching (does not). I respect Steve's attempts at innovation, but this does not rise to the artistic level of the R.E.M./KRS-One duet, if you know what I'm saying.

But "Galway Girl" is better, and the newer rabble-rousing, Pete Seeger-toasting "Steve's Hammer" is too. "People say I'm preaching to the choir," Steve announces. "But sometimes the choir needs preaching to." His last two words to us are "thanks" and "Obama."

Steve Earle plays the Judson Memorial Church tonight (September 23), Thursday (the 25th), and Friday (the 26th). Tickets are here.

People I know in the world

i ran into Mona Swanson who I know from my days on the Wilder Panel. She is now the executive director of Childrens Village. She was near ACS for a meeting and I was going to Personnel. We were in CVS.

That night i ran into a man i know from a store I frequent. We got on the same F train home. We acknowledged each other and then spoke about our commute as we were getting closer to his stop. Mostly, pleasantries in passing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tom's Diner Day as referenced in Suzanne's measure for measure

Tom's Diner Day

Spotting people on the street

Sunday at the Broadway Care's Flea Market, i ran into Chris Chin. No surprise, he goes every year. Seeing him again made me remember that I recently ran into Mike Viseglia walking his dog on 26th street and 2nd ave near my work. I ran into Lucy Wainwright Roche in the Wintertime Market in Union Square a few years ago.

Measure for Meaure NYTimes Suzanne Vega on Tom's Diner

September 23, 2008, 10:29 pm
Tom’s Essay

By Suzanne Vega

This month’s challenge for me is getting used to my “in-ear monitors.” These are little monitors that go into your ear so you can hear yourself onstage. I used them a month ago in Sweden for the first time in front of a live audience. Hmm, I thought, These feel weird. Not all they are cracked up to be. Very much like ear plugs, in fact.

I felt like I was in a pantomime, or underwater, and finally I remembered there was a little dial poking up out of my pocket that I had access to. I decided to turn it up — thereby turning it on. I had performed half the show with the monitors turned off! Oops. No wonder I couldn’t hear anything.

This is the world of technology. Although I am attracted to it, it’s not something I have a real knack for. Not like my mother, for example. When she comes over and sits down at my computer, she says, “Why is your computer running so slowly? When was the last time you cleaned out your applications? Have you repaired your permissions lately?” Other moms tell you to clean out your cupboards or your closets.

My mother is a computer systems analyst, just retired from the New York City transit system, where she was a troubleshooter. I remember one day in the ‘70s when, as a teenager, I wandered into the kitchen in search of food. My mother was at the table with a huge contraption next to her on the floor, something about the size of a small refrigerator, waist-high, with the receiver of our telephone cradled into it.

“I am accessing the Hunter College Library, isn’t that neat?” I thought it was, but wondered, when was dinner?

So never mind the bizarre rumors that persist about my mom being a jazz guitarist, which came from one journalist who asked if I was from a musical family. I told her my stepfather played the guitar, and my mother played jazz around the house. Meaning records. The journalist then invented this image of my mom as a jazz guitarist and published it far and wide, and unfortunately it has been set up as fact by many different Web sites. Thank goodness for Wikipedia. It doesn’t bother my mother, though. She says, “I’ll take some lessons and have a comeback!”

My daughter also seems to have a knack for technology. One rainy Saturday afternoon when she was 10, I asked what she was doing. “Doing HTML for my friend’s Web site! Graphics!” she said cheerfully. Sometimes I will find her recreating Rihanna’s “Umbrella” song, track by track, on Garageband when she’s bored.

Whereas I tend to get frustrated and do things like bang on the hard drive with my fist, which is how I destroyed all the data on my last computer.

So why, given all that, am I called the “Mother of the MP3”?

In my last blog, I was discussing the idea of being a two-hit wonder, and wrote about the song “Luka.” The other hit AOL cited in its story (called “Two-Hit Wonders”) was “Tom’s Diner,” which was a hit for me in 1990. This wasn’t just a plain ordinary hit, if there is such a thing. To this day it is sticky with the modern issues of technology and copyright law.
Handwritten lyrics to 'Tom's Diner.'

I got the idea for “Tom’s Diner” in 1981, but I wrote it in the spring of 1982, making the song 26 years old now. When I was at Barnard College in Manhattan, I used to go to Tom’s Restaurant for coffee, and after I graduated I also ate there before going to work. It was then a cheap, greasy place on 112th and Broadway, and it still is, in spite of its celebrity. (Sorry, but I have never been to the one in Brooklyn, though I hear it’s really cute. The real one isn’t cute, and isn’t atmospheric. It’s just plain, which is why I liked it.) And yes, it is the same one they use in the Seinfeld credits — the neon sign that says “RESTAURANT.” I actually once saw Jerry Seinfeld right near there!

I have a photographer friend, Brian Rose, who has taken pictures of the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the Berlin Wall. He told me once long ago that he felt as though he saw the world through a pane of glass. This struck me as romantic and alienated, and I wanted to write a song from this viewpoint.

I had been taking classes at Barnard with titles like “The Dramatic Monologue.” I was in Tom’s and I thought it would be fun to write a song that was like a little film, where the main character sees all these things but can’t respond to any of it unless it relates to him directly. The part about the actor dying was true — it was William Holden. Some fans recently looked up the day he died and named the next day Tom’s Diner Day. I made up the part about the woman who was fixing her stockings.

The part where I sing about the “midnight picnic” is from an actual picnic I had with the songwriter Jack Hardy on the steps of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine one night.

The melody hit me as I was walking down Broadway, fast. I wanted something jaunty. I remember liking the near rhymes of “diner” and “corner,” “sitting” and “waiting.” Although it is actually Tom’s restaurant I changed it to diner as it sings better that way.

I was imagining it as a kind of French film soundtrack, something vaudevillian on piano, like a background to a Truffaut film. But I didn’t play piano and didn’t know anybody who did. So I kept it a capella, and began to sing it this way in my live show. This detail, singing the song alone with no accompaniment, affected everything to come.

I noticed right away, at my shows, that whenever I opened my mouth and sang, “I am sitting, in the morning…”, people would stop drinking and talking, and immediately whirl around and stare at the stage. So I used it as an opening song. I can’t think of a single time that this didn’t work. Even at the Prince’s Trust concert in 1986, in front of 10,000 people, I went onstage as the opening act and began the entire concert with that song — and it worked!

It was a short step to recording it that way and opening my second album with it, since it was such a successful song live.

For the album we created a reprise, which I hoped sounded sort of Brechtian.

As I mentioned before, the single “Luka” was on the same album, “Solitude Standing,” which ended up selling three million copies around the world. So it was a widely available album that led off with an a capella song. I had heard some people used it to test their speakers — not just that song, but the whole album, because of the sonic quality. (I know for sure that Philip Glass used it at his sound checks and Karl-Heinz Brandenberg told me he knew people used it to test their speakers…)

A few years later, in 1990, I was on tour promoting “Days of Open Hand,” our follow-up. It wasn’t going that well, to put it bluntly. We had devoted a year to creating the album, spent a lot of money, thought and rethought every note and syllable. But the reviews were mixed. In the end, it sold “only” a million, which these days would of course be considered a miracle.

We were backstage at the Arsenio Hall show when my manager told me that some boys calling themselves DNA, in England — Bath, to be specific — had taken “Tom’s Diner” and put a dance track to it. They had “re-mixed” it. (I don’t remember what we called that type of music back then — house? rap? hip-hop? It wasn’t “disco” or “thrash-metal.”) My manager, Ron Fierstein, told me that A&M and Polygram were considering taking legal action against them for copyright violation.

I thought, well, let me listen to it — and immediately liked it. It made me laugh. It wasn’t a parody, which is what I was afraid of. The song is the same, my voice is still my voice, the story still the story, even though they left out the very end (they told me later they thought it sounded weird, musically, to keep the ending.

After “Luka” there had been an onslaught of parodies that I hated, but there was one cover I really liked — the Lemonheads version, which we called “thrash” for some reason; now it would be considered “alternative.” I thought it was really cool and felt it expanded our audience. I put this version of “Tom’s Diner” in that category of cover song.

Apparently DNA had made vinyl copies of their creation in plain white covers labeled “Oh Susanne!” Their story was: they had tried to ask permission from the record company but no one returned their phone call — which I believe. They didn’t want to wait. They decided to sell them at their local corner record shop. It sold a lot right away. That’s when the record company found out about it.

It was so obvious that these boys were not slick hi-fi wizards, as the sound was boomy and the arrangement repetitive, but the raw energy of the idea jumped out right away. These were not boys with means and money, and I liked it that I had kindled their imagination.

We decided to arrange a meeting. I was backstage and someone said, “The DNA boys are here!” I looked up . . . and saw the manager and the accountant.

“Bring them in!” I said. Because of the sound of the remix, I had assumed DNA were black, and so I looked over the heads of these two white men, trying to see whoever was behind them.

“These are DNA!” said my manager.

“Oh!” I said, confused. Nick Batt, the artistic one, said hi, looking shy and skinny (the “accountant”). Neal Slateford was more cocky and blustery (the “manager”).

Instead of sending the boys to jail, my manager worked out a deal with them for a flat fee. A&M Records paid the fee, and we retained all rights.
I made the decision to call the remix “Tom’s Diner, by DNA featuring Suzanne Vega” because I didn’t know if the audience would accept the new sound, and I wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t my production. To my surprise, I didn’t have to worry about that as it was accepted everywhere. DNA were surprised to find themselves suddenly classified as an “act,” since they did mostly production.

I had imagined that a few dance clubs would play it, and that would be the end of it. But it was played on radio right away, including the R&B stations, a new experience for me. I even received a plaque congratulating me for having one of the most played R&B songs of 1990. R&B! How cool.

If there was a downside, it was that nothing was helping the sales and the reception of my new album, “Days of Open Hand.” It was crazy to release something from three years before, from a different project entirely.(In fact, one girl wrote to me complaining that she bought the original a capella one by mistake and wanted her money back. She wanted to know: where was the music? And implied that somehow it had come apart from the vocal in the shipping process.) Confusing for everybody.. However, the public demanded it! So I learned that hard work and long hours does not guarantee success. Raw energy and great ideas spark the public interest better than attention to “quality.”

It was astonishing to me to hear that the kids at Joan of Arc Junior High on West 93rd Street were dancing in the street to it one day, since as a kid growing up on the Upper West Side, I was ostracized in some of my classes for being “white.” In African Dance class in 1972, I was smacked in the back of the head for being there at all. (I was raised in a half-Puerto-Rican family, as half-Puerto Rican. I found out at the age of nine or so that I actually had a different father from my brothers and sister — my birth father was English-Scottish-Irish from California.)

Suddenly, with the remix of “Tom’s Diner,” that world that I had grown up in and struggled with had accepted me and my music in a way I couldn’t have predicted and couldn’t control.

Other versions came flooding in from all over the world. People made them up and mailed me cassettes. I loved one by Michigan & Smiley, a kind of reggae improvisation. And Nikki D, a young black woman from Los Angeles with a gold tooth, changed it into a song about teenage pregnancy — that was another one of my favorites.

What was I going to do with all these “Tom’s Diner” songs? They were going to waste filling up boxes in my apartment. So, along with an engineer, Denny McNerney, I gathered all the songs together into a collection called “Tom’s Album,” using some cartoons that an artist called Tom Hart had given me when he heard the song originally. I wrote some liner notes and approached A&M about releasing it.

Why would you put out 11 versions of the same song?, they wondered. One reason was that I had hired DNA to do a remix of another song — one called “Rusted Pipe,” from “Days of Open Hand.” I was still looking for a way to channel all of that enthusiasm into selling the new project (and I wanted to include it on “Tom’s Album”). That didn’t work so well. But 15 years later, “Tom’s Album” continues to sell. People think it is a bootleg and sidle up to me whispering, “Have you seen this? Someone put this together.”

“Yes. That someone was me.”

However, it was a logistical nightmare to administrate. I had to go back to all the people who had taken the song without permission, and ask their permission . . . to use their version of my song! This is the main reason we have not put out “Tom’s Albums” 2 and 3, which we certainly could, as now we are up to almost 30 remixes including (really good) ones from Danger Mouse and Tupac.

There a few new remixes or interpolations every year. Some ask first, and some don’t. The last one to ask permission was the artist Pink, who I love. I feel I have a liberal remix and usage policy — I have said yes to almost every request regarding “Tom’s Diner” — except one, for pornography. The most extreme one is probably “Came in the Door Pimpin’” by Dave Hollister. I approved it because I felt it was his authentic point of view.

I love the remixes, I embrace them, I am proud of many of them. Yes, they have “revitalized and extended my career,” as someone put it to me recently. They make me feel connected to the world beyond New York City in a way I never could have imagined when I wrote the original song about a single person feeling isolated. Absolutely. However, I still believe in copyright protection. This issue alone could take up a blog by itself. Maybe for another day.

The DNA boys and I later worked together a few times, including on a song of mine called “Salt Water” that appeared on their 1992 album “Taste This!”. But it all started with “Tom’s Diner,” and I asked them once why they had remixed my song.

“We were fans,” said Neal. “It was obvious. The rhythm was already in the song. If we didn’t do it, someone else would have.”

One reason someone else would have done so is that it was so easy to lift the voice right off the record and place it in whatever context you wanted, because of the simplicity of the production. I could see how a good-quality recording of a single voice could be attractive to some one designing an MP3, for example.

One day in 2000, I dropped my daughter, Ruby, off at nursery school and was approached by one of the fathers I didn’t know very well. Imagine my surprise when he said, “Congratulations on being the mother of MP3!” he said.

“Sorry?” I said, wondering what he was talking about.

“There is an article this week in a magazine called Business 2.0, calling you the ‘mother of the MP3.’ They used one of your songs to create it.”

“Really. Well, thanks. I’ll check it out.”

I ran home and found the article online.

The title was “Ich Bin Ein Paradigm Shifter: The MP3 Format is a Product of Suzanne Vega’s Voice and This Man’s Ears.”

“The MP3 fools the ear by eliminating the least essential parts of a music file…To create MP3 [Karl-Heinz] Brandenberg had to appreciate how the human ear perceives sound. A key assist in this effort came from Suzanne Vega. ‘I was ready to fine-tune my compression algorithm,’ Brandenberg recalls. “Somewhere down the corridor a radio was playing “Tom’s Diner.” I was electrified. I knew it would be nearly impossible to compress this warm a capella voice.”‘

So Mr. Brandenberg gets a copy of the song, and puts it through the newly created MP3. But instead of the “warm human voice” there are monstrous distortions, as though the Exorcist has somehow gotten into the system, shadowing every phrase. They spend months refining it, running “Tom’s Diner through the system over and over again with modifications, until it comes through clearly. “He wound up listening to the song thousands of times,” the article, written by Hilmar Schmundt, continued, “and the result was a code that was heard around the world. When an MP3 player compresses music by anyone from Courtney Love to Kenny G, it is replicating the way that Brandenburg heard Suzanne Vega.”

So goes the legend. The reason I know what that MP3 originally sounded like is that last year I was invited to the Fraunhofer Institute in Erlangen, Germany, where I met the team of engineers who worked on the project — including Mr. Brandenberg, who I had met once before at the launch of the Mobile Music Forum in Cannes in 2001.

All the men are obviously intelligent, but Karl-Heinz is a character. He stands out, because he looks like a mad scientist. His hair and tie always look as if they have been blown askew in a stiff wind, and he taps the tips of his fingers together constantly, smiling beatifically.

The day I visited — “The Mother of the MP3 comes to the home of the MP3!” said the woman in charge of press (the slightly weird implication being that I would be meeting the various “fathers” of the MP3) — we had a press conference at which they played me the original version of “Tom’s Diner,” then the various distortions of the MP3 as it had been, which sounded monstrous and weird. Then, finally, the “clean” version of “Tom’s Diner.”

The panel beamed at me. “See?” one man said. “Now the MP3 recreates it perfectly. Exactly the same!”

“Actually, to my ears it sounds like there is a little more high end in the MP3 version? The MP3 doesn’t sound as warm as the original, maybe a tiny bit of bottom end is lost?” I suggested.

The man looked shocked. “No, Miss Vega, it is exactly the same.”

“Everybody knows that an MP3 compresses the sound and therefore loses some of the warmth,” I persisted. “That’s why some people collect vinyl…” I suddenly caught myself, realizing who I was speaking to in front of a roomful of German media.

(Actually, I recently read an article that said the high end is distorted and the low end uncompromised, so I guess there is room for subjectivity in this argument.)

“No, Miss Vega. Consider the Black Box theory!”

I stared at him.

“The Black Box theory states that what goes into the Black Box remains unchanged! Whatever goes in comes out the same way! Nothing is left behind and nothing is added!”

I decided it was wiser at this point to back down.

“I see. O.K. I didn’t realize.”

They were happy again. Then they showed me a seven-point sensurround system, their latest project. But as I was a kid who grew up with transistor radios and lousy record players that were left at our house after our parents’ parties, I kind of like a hard, tinny sound. The lo-fi approach works for me. Still, I appreciated their enthusiasm. It was a great day and I was very proud to have been a tiny part of history.

So, that’s my long and winding history of a little postcard from the Upper West Side of Manhattan!

Thanks for reading this and thanks so much for your wonderful comments about “Luka.” I read them and re-read them, and soon I will write some future blogs like, Is it demeaning to work in an office or have a day job? (Answer: no!) What if you work in an office and it is your heart’s desire to do something else? (Still no.) If I wrote a song about child abuse, and you thought it was about spousal abuse, did you get the song “wrong”? (Answer: No. Absolutely not!)

I was shocked by all the apologies! Can you ever get a song “wrong”?

Well, yes. I wrote a song called “Undertow” that my sister wanted played at her wedding. My brother said it was inappropriate, since he thought it was about oral sex. But that was not what it was about at all.

I’ll tell you about it some other time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008




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Monday, September 22, 2008




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Saturday night Front Row Center



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Saturday afternoon in Madison Square park




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Last Thurday




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Lives in the Balnace

Ive been waiting for something to happen
For a week or a month or a year
With the blood in the ink of the headlines
And the sound of the crowd in my ear
You might ask what it takes to remember
When you know that youve seen it before
Where a government lies to a people
And a country is drifting to war

And theres a shadow on the faces
Of the men who send the guns
To the wars that are fought in places
Where their business interest runs

On the radio talk shows and the t.v.
You hear one thing again and again
How the u.s.a. stands for freedom
And we come to the aid of a friend
But who are the ones that we call our friends--
These governments killing their own?
Or the people who finally cant take any more
And they pick up a gun or a brick or a stone
There are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire

Theres a shadow on the faces
Of the men who fan the flames
Of the wars that are fought in places
Where we cant even say the names

They sell us the president the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us every thing from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars
I want to know who the men in the shadows are
I want to hear somebody asking them why
They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
But theyre never the ones to fight or to die
And there are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Schilling blasts Manny's behavior

Schilling blasts Manny's behavior

BOSTON (AP) -- Injured Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said former teammate Manny Ramirez's behavior in Boston was a drain on his teammates and disrespectful to manager Terry Francona.

Speaking on a Boston radio station Wednesday, Schilling said Ramirez's "level of disrespect to teammates and people was unfathomable."

Although he was the first Red Sox World Series MVP in franchise history, Ramirez caused more than his share of problems, with trade demands and nagging or phantom injuries that led him to ask out of the lineup. Schilling, who is close friends with Francona, said the manager had to play Ramirez because of his talent but it undermined the team's unity.

"I was a teammate, a member of this family, and I saw it," Schilling said after acknowledging that he has been away from the team most of the season because of a shoulder injury. "And to me, it was always those guys, the guys who played a crucial role on teams that weren't the marquee players, are the ones that were disrespected the most."

Ramirez, who is in the last year of a contract that paid him $160 million over eight years, was sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline. Since then, he is batting .400 with 14 homers and 44 RBIs in 44 games.

"He was very kind, and well-mannered, but there were spurts and times when you didn't know who he was," Schilling said. "You know, he was always kind and nice for the most part, but he'd show up the next day and say, 'I'm through with this team, I want out now."'

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

New York is a small world

I run into people i know all the time. New York is a big place and I find that I see people that I am familiar with in the strangest places. Sunday at the Liberty game, I ran into a trainee. Lisa is an ex Detective who works at ACS as in Investigative Consultant.

Three times on the street I ran into people that I know from my Thursday WW group. I also saw one member twice at the same spot. I also saw a member at the Signature theater. My WW group is not that large. I saw a leader, Lauren at Borders before the Neil Diamond concert.

I have run into people that i know fairly well. I ran into Chris Chin on the street once. I ran into his roommate one saturday on 6th ave near 8th street.

Last night I ran into a guy and his wife that i run into every 6 months or year or so. I know him through the Darlist and Suzi worked with him at a magazine the summer she lived in NYC. He now is married. Last time i ran into him he was married. His wife is now pregnant and they were at the game last night

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The past week or so

School started two weeks ago, I have 33 students who are interested in becoming social workers. Social policy at 9am on Saturday.

Most of my Saturdays are walking to 14th Street to the Green Market and back to my car. The first week was a hurricane and tickets to the Mets-Phillies game was postponed. I walked until 230 and then headed to my car. Within a 1/2 hour the Rain started and it rained all night. Thanks to Hannah, I had a night at home.
Sunday was the postponed Mets game and I went to the early game. It took me less time than I expected and I explored Shea and saw what the big deal was. I moved around the Stadium to empty seats and watched the game to the bottom of the 8th. The mets were down 6-0 and then 6-2 and Pedro Martinez put them in a hole early

Monday and Tuesday I had jury duty on a jury that I would not have served. They screened me for Car Accident cases and I cannot be objective due to my own experience in Philly. The attorneys would not release me and I served most of Tuesday. I met a young man who was getting married so we both got sprung about 330pm on Tuesday. I had errands to run in Manhattan

Wednesday I went to work and to Dar Williams's instore at Virgin for her Promised Land cd. i had to wait around Union Square for a while and shopped until it was time to go there. Three songs and a signing and I ended up with a comp cd.

Friday I was supposed to go to previews of ABC TV shows, Daisies, Private Practice, Eli Stone at the Museum of Radio and TV but the pouring rain kept me from going. I went home to do wash

Saturday School and I came home after a walk. it was hot and sticky leading to a hotter and stickier sunday. I went to the Brooklyn Book Fair at Borough Hall and then headed to Manhattan for the NY Liberty WNBA basketball team. It was fan appreciation teeshirt day ( Mets last week was fan appreciation teeshirt day and I got a Shea Stadium #08 teeshirt from the box office too) A guy at the Garden threw me his teeshirt and I got two. I then got a Liberty shirt in the teeshirt toss by the cheerleaders. So i got 6 new teeshirts in two weeks. Way too many teeshirts.
the Liberty Lost but i sat behind Bill Lambeer and Rick Mahorn and the Shock.

Monday I was supposed to go to the Apollo for a taping of the Elvis Costello music program on Sundance. I missed Rosanne Cash, Elvis, Norah JOnes and Kris Kristofferson doing a guitar pull. but my threat of sick kitty interrupted my music adventure.

Tomorrow I am going to the PLayoff game against Conn Sun for the Liberty at MSG at 7pm.

Saturday night is Jackson Browne at the United Palace. I may stop to catch Joe Crookston and WA9 in Madison SQ Park first

CaCapricorn Horoscope for week of September 18, 2008

Capricorn Horoscope for week of September 18, 2008

I would love to place an elegant gold crown on your head. I have the urge to declare you monarch of the expanding realm, maker of new laws, and reshaper of the collective vision. Are you up for wielding that much power? Can you handle an increased level of responsibilities? Or would you prefer to preside over a smaller domain, content merely to keep the daily grind from erupting into chaos now and then? It's mostly up to you. What do you want?

Father Was a Spy, Sons Conclude With Regret

Father Was a Spy, Sons Conclude With Regret

Published: September 16, 2008
They were the most famous orphans of the cold war, only 6 and 10 years old in 1953 when their parents were executed at Sing Sing for delivering atomic-bomb secrets to the Soviet Union. Then they were whisked from an unwanted limelight to urban anonymity and eventually to suburban obscurity.

Adopting their foster parents’ surname, they staked their own claim to radical campus politics in the 1960s. Then in 1973, they emerged to reclaim their identities as the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, determined to vindicate their parents.

Now, confronted with the surprising confession last week of Morton Sobell, Julius Rosenberg’s City College classmate and co-defendant, the brothers have admitted to a painful conclusion: that their father was a spy.

“I don’t have any reason to doubt Morty,” Michael Meeropol said after several conversations with Mr. Sobell over the weekend.

Their conclusions, in separate interviews, amount to a milestone in America’s culture wars and the culmination of the brothers’ own emotional and intellectual odyssey.

It began in July 1950, when F.B.I. agents arrested Julius Rosenberg in the family’s Lower East Side apartment, thrusting the boys onto a global stage as bit players in their parents’ appeals, in the government’s efforts to extract their parents’ cooperation, and in Soviet propaganda campaigns to cast the Rosenbergs as martyrs.

Their journey became public again nearly a generation later when the brothers proclaimed that their parents were framed to feed cold war hysteria and compensate for America’s counterespionage lapses. Amid the Watergate-era revelations of criminal conspiracies and cover-ups, they began a legal battle to release all the government records in the case.

While they were vested in a single outcome, they insisted all along that they would follow the facts, wherever they led.

“We believed they were innocent and we tried to prove them innocent,” Michael Meeropol said on Sunday. “But I remember saying to myself in late 1975, maybe a little later, that whatever happens, it doesn’t change me. We really meant it, that the truth is more important than our political position.”

This is how they still see things: whatever atomic bomb information their father passed to the Russians was, at best, superfluous; the case was riddled with prosecutorial and judicial misconduct; their mother was convicted on flimsy evidence to place leverage on her husband; and neither deserved the death penalty.

But after digesting Mr. Sobell’s confession, in an interview last week with The New York Times, that he and Julius stole nonatomic military and industrial secrets, the Meeropols have now concluded that continuing to claim that their father was innocent of an espionage conspiracy was no longer defensible.

“I had considered that a real possibility for some time,” Robert Meeropol said, “and this tips the balance.”

Today, both brothers are grandfathers. Michael, 65, is a professor and chairman of the economics department at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass. Robert, 61, is a lawyer and runs the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which advocates on behalf of young people whose parents have suffered because of their progressive politics. Both live in western Massachusetts.

Robert’s daughter Rachel is a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights. In 2004, Michael’s daughter, Ivy, produced a documentary about the case, “Heir to an Execution.” In that film, Michael recalled the other day, he said he was “perfectly happy to live with the ambiguity” about the case. But that ambiguity, as far as his father is concerned, ended last week with Mr. Sobell’s confession and left Mr. Meeropol philosophical but, presumably, less happy.

“It’s different,” he said.

Ethel Rosenberg was arrested in August 1950. The boys were shuttled to shelters and from one home to another after their grandmother, Ethel’s mother, said she could no longer care for them. After their parents were executed, they were adopted by Abel and Anne Meeropol. He was a Bronx schoolteacher and lyricist, who, under a pen name, wrote “Strange Fruit” and “The House I Live In.”

he brothers became talismans for a lost cause. They would literally be embraced by Rosenberg defenders, dwindling in number but unflagging in their faith, as touchstones of an era when the world was reflexively defined as black or white (or red). If you believed the Rosenbergs were not guilty, you were considered a fellow traveler. If you believed the government, you were viewed as a McCarthyite.

First, the brothers sued Louis Nizer, a lawyer, for unauthorized use of their parents’ death-house letters in his book about the case. They fought protracted legal battles to release F.B.I. files and were buoyed when those raw investigative records and interrogations disgorged a minefield of inconsistencies.

They knew, and acknowledged, that their parents were committed Communists, but discovered, as Robert Meeropol once said, that “it’s much harder to prove someone innocent than to prove them guilty.”

For more than three decades, that path to proof twisted and turned precariously. As the new revelations shrank the brothers’ defensive perimeter, the Meeropols seemed to be tiptoeing toward the posture they expressed this week. Meanwhile, they raised their families and wrote a book, “We Are Your Sons.” Robert, after editing the Socialist Review in California, returned to Springfield and enrolled in law school. Their attendance at periodic commemorations of the case and of their parents’ execution became less obligatory.

In the 1990s, the government released decrypted wartime Soviet cables that further implicated their father. Then their uncle, David Greenglass, who was an Army machinist at Los Alamos, N.M., where the atomic bomb was made, and was recruited by Julius Rosenberg as a spy, admitted that he fabricated the most damning testimony against their mother, but insisted that Julius was guilty of the formal charge, conspiracy to commit espionage.

Five years ago, in a memoir, “An Execution in the Family,” Robert Meeropol recalled the criticism that his parents had engaged in high-risk activities that could orphan their children, but he said their decisions deserved to be judged in the context of their time.

“I became more careful about my political activities when I became a parent,” he wrote. “This may be because I knew from painful experience the terrible toll activist parents’ decisions can take on their children, and I did not wish my childhood nightmare visited on my children.”

The boys visited Sing Sing prison in Ossining, N.Y., on Thursday, June 18, 1953, their parents’ 14th wedding anniversary. Michael interrupted the death-house decorum by wailing: “One more day to live.” The following day, their parents wrote: “Always remember that we were innocent and could not wrong our conscience.”

Do the brothers feel betrayed by their parents’ protestations of innocence? Did they, themselves, betray other supporters of the cause by seeking vindication?

“I don’t feel that way,” Robert said. “I can understand that they didn’t do the thing they were being killed for. The grand jury testimony taught me more about my parents’ social circle. It’s a description of a whole bunch of 20-somethings, people who came out of the Depression, not only survived but went to the top of their class and they thought they could change the world. They were going to do what they could to make their mark. Until it all came crashing down.

“What Julius was asked to do was send his best friends to jail, and he could not do that. My parents would have to have made a bigger betrayal to avoid betraying me, and frankly I don’t consider myself that important.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008


Fall and all attendant memories
Crowd the day with unrelated histories
Each year leaves its unresolving fantasies
To hang around each corner
Hang around each street.

Thick with ghosts, the wind whips round in circuitries
Carrying words as strangers exchange pleasantries
Do they intrude upon your private reveries
As they meet you on each corner
Meet you on each street.

Watch for daily braveries
Notice newfound courtesies
Finger sudden legacies
As they clean up every corner
Wash down every street.

Mark the month and all its anniversaries
Put away the draft of all your eulogies
Clear the way for all your private memories
As they meet you on each corner
Meet you on each street.

Make the time for all your possibilities
They live on every street.

Suzanne Vega, "Anniversary," from Beauty & Crime (Blue Note, 2007)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9-11 again

i am unsettled today. I am aware that the date is 9-11. I woke and really didnt want to watch TV, or to be reminded that today is september 11. Yesterday the weather was more like that september morning 7 years ago. Today is colder, more crisp in the air, more fall like. Monday and Wednesday had the sun shining in an Indian summer.
Today, I entered Manhattan aware of the fire stations. I saw firemen in the best blue and white uniforms. I saw some officers later in the day, in full dress uniform. I saw some officers later in the day coming out of taverns. I then saw two drunken firefighters. I saw the alters of flowers and pictures and notes left for the firehouses. This has become my new 9-11.
Today Mayor Bloomberg talked about how names will be ready by school children representing the countries of the people who were lost. First it was partners, then children, then more relatives, now school children. Bloomberg talked about this continuing for 10 years if appropriate.
the first year the pole of lights were soothing as i drove home from Queens, year two I was at Adelphi and walked out of school into that empty space where the trade towers were to see those two lights. They are soothing. Last year they were annoying and meaningless. This year I wanted to get home before dark to avoid looking at them.
I remembered being home and the papers floating in my neighborhood.

Actually i was reminded of 9-11 and its aftermath at the FUV picnic where I was introduced to a firefighter who was at the Bottom Line. THis first responder folkie spoke and then told us stories of what it was like for him that night at the Bottom Line and for months afterwards. John Platt reminded me of the Bottom Line and of 9-11 recently..

Presidential candidates in NYC, calling for community service. I now think that it is Bush Bullshit and after atrocities of the Bush Administration, community service calls are more Bush Bull.

Today is 9-11 again. It will come again next year and every year. Today i have my feelings, I am sure I will see the firefighters in dress blues coming from taverns and the alters set up outside firehouses.

guess it is time to give up sugar

Capricorn Horoscope for week of September 11, 2008

Writing in the magazine sub-TERRAIN, John More makes the following declaration: "Captains of industry, great generals, artists of genius, even politicians, are often just people who have discovered that alcohol can enable them to make economic, tactical, creative, or political decisions whose implications would paralyze a sober individual." Your assignment, Capricorn, is to find an alcohol-free way to make such a decision. It's time for you to summon visionary courage from your soul, not from a bottle, as you catalyze complex blessings that will ripple through your future for a long time


I dreamed the I was teaching Capstone class and one of my students was Hillary Clinton. In the dream, I was thinking how busy the first lady/senator is so i must create a class that would allow her not be required to come to class. In my mind, I am thinking hybrid class but I announced that attendance is required. I then realized it was Social Policy and I was thinking that having Senator Clinton in the class was valuable and wondered what she was doing starting an MSW in social work.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

American Airline loses body

American Airline's typo lost wife, body's sent to wrong country
Tuesday, September 9th 2008, 12:50 AM

Miguel Olaya is suing American Airlines - and a Brooklyn funeral home - after body of wife, Teresa (below), was sent to Guatemala instead of Ecuador.

American Airline's sent the body of a Brooklyn mom to the wrong country for burial - and then callously demanded more money to fix the screwup, the widower and others involved in a lawsuit charged Monday.
Miguel Olaya said he made arrangements to send the remains of his wife, Teresa, to their native Ecuador after she died in late March of cancer at age 57.
Instead, American mistakenly shipped her 1,400 miles away - to Guatemala - he said.
"I went early [to Guayaquil, Ecuador] to make the funeral arrangements," he said. "When I got to the airport to pick up the body, they told me they didn't know where she was. I was desperate."
Olaya, 60, a day laborer who has lived in the U.S. for more than a decade, and his 16-year-old daughter drove to the airport every day for four days, but got the same story.
"My daughter was crying, saying, 'Where's mama, where's mama?'" Olaya said.
Finally, someone at American Airlines told them the body had been in Guatemala City, he said.
The remains arrived in Guayaquil on April 4.
"How could they lose a body?" asked lawyer Richard Villar. "I mean this is American Airlines, not a small-time operation. And it's not like it was a purse or something."
After the mistake was discovered, the airline even wanted to charge an extra $321 to ship Teresa's body to the right place, said the director of DeRiso Funeral Home in Bay Ridge, which made the arrangements.
"I said, 'This is adding insult to injury,'" said Cathy DeRiso.
She said she gave American the billing information she had prepared with the correct destination.
It turns out, DeRiso said, the goof was by someone at the airline who typed in the wrong airport code - GUA for Guatemala instead of GYE for Guayaquil.
Once the airline verified that it made the mistake, it waived the charge.
American declined to comment.
Olaya is also suing DeRiso, claiming that the body was badly embalmed and decomposed in the Guatemala City airport - canceling plans for a three-day wake. DeRiso denies that charg

Friday, September 05, 2008

Social Workers Respond to Gov. Sarah Palin’s Attack on Community Organizers

Social Workers Respond to Gov. Sarah Palin’s Attack on Community Organizers

The National Association of Social Workers was outraged to hear Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, one of the nation’s vice-presidential candidates, malign in a live international broadcast the work of community organizers.

The social work profession takes great pride in its community organizing roots and lauds the contributions of its members, and other professionals, who commit their careers to helping residents of different communities organize their resources and take social action to improve life for themselves and their families. Small town reformers and urban community organizers have much in common.

The concepts of community organizing, community building and community development undergird the premise of American democracy. As a result of these efforts, institutions and officials often deliver more effective economic growth strategies, as well as mental health, health, and family services for people of all ages.

Community organizing is also the foundation of most successful political campaigns. Meeting fellow Americans in their communities and working with them to find solutions to problems that limit their potential is valuable and necessary work—with significant responsibilities.

The profession of social work was founded on the legacy of outstanding women leaders such as Nobel Laureate Jane Addams, who practiced community organizing in the Settlement Houses she created for the poor and working class immigrants of Chicago. The profession also counts Civil Rights icons such as Dr. Dorothy I. Height among its luminaries. It is fitting that both women are considered two of the most influential people in American history, and are inspirations for many of our country’s finest leaders.

During this election year, NASW encourages both parties to stay focused on issues of substance to the American people. We hope that instead of denigrating the lives and work of huge segments of the population, candidates will demonstrate how their plans for the country will protect and elevate the quality of life for all Americans.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Horoscopes for week of August 28, 2008

Verticle Oracle card Aries (March 21-April 19)
My Aries friend David's acupuncturist diagnosed his current condition as an "encroachment of phlegm in his triple heater." That's also an apt metaphorical description of what's going on in your psyche. Your internal engine -- the fire in your belly -- is a bit clogged by a sluggish stream of swampy, snotty feelings. I suggest you take action to purge this creeping effluvia. A good way to start would be to do what Gestalt dream workers do: Imagine that the effluvia can speak, and ask it to tell you what it wants.

Capricorn Horoscope for week of September 4, 2008

Capricorn Horoscope for week of September 4, 2008

Verticle Oracle card Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
"The whole history of civilization is strewn with creeds and institutions which were invaluable at first, and deadly afterwards." So said British essayist Walter Bagehot. I would add the following corollary: The fortunes of many individuals have declined because of belief systems and structures that were invigorating earlier in their lives but that gradually became paralyzing or parasitical. Has that ever been true about you, Capricorn? More importantly, might it become true in the future? Please take inventory of your reliance on theories and attitudes and methods that made good sense once upon a time but that are now becoming irrelevant or even counterproductive.