Archive for July 31st, 2011
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After suffering through the brutal heat wave that sat intractably on New York last weekend, these 90-degree days are a relief. Still, I’ve had enough of the rattle of air conditioning and of nights sleeping on top of the sheets. I find myself lying awake yearning for some of the sweet, cold plums that William Carlos Williams left in the icebox, wishing I could invoke the cold as Shakespeare did in As You Like It, “Blow, blow, thou winter wind.”
So here, for all of you fellow summer sufferers, are four very cold poems that might help you imagine some relief from the heat (and distract you from the fact that it isn’t even August).
In a letter to his friend Benjamin Bailey, John Keats famously wrote that he was certain of the truth of the imagination (continue reading…)
The irrationality of Sacred Cows, for better or worse, changes history’s direction and the configuration of human destiny.
The Tea Party believes religiously in one thing: American prosperity and power depends on fiscal (rather than social) health. In this worldview, going into default and being forced into austerity measures can actually strengthen the balance sheet, as in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, which is considered by the group more important for the long-term health of the country than short-term problems faced in the debt debate. No bull.
Recent research into seemingly intractable conflicts indicates that, for better or worse, radical movements that have attempted revolutionary changes in society do truly act on what they believe to be their sacred values — core moral principles that resist and often clash with rational calculations. Once locked into sacred values there is a denial of the validity of opposing positions no matter how logically or empirically well-founded (continue reading…)
Beverly Bowne, who lives in the Bronx, worked for 28 years as a billing coordinator for a printing company in New York City. And then in 2009, she and a number of other employees at the company — including her own supervisor — were laid off.
Bowne’s employer was hard hit by the recession. The company, like so many in the printing industry, is shriveling fast as internet communication replaces the need for printed materials.
For Bowne, the lay off was devastating (continue reading…)
Back in May, I created a post including five poetry venues I thought were worth checking out and, in the extremely limited scope of my piece, I neglected to mention many other outstanding poetry venues and events around the country. In the comments it was noted that I had not included anything from the South, and indeed I did forget to mention some very noteworthy spots. And so, without further ado, here are five more poetry venues, slams, events, festivals (whatever you prefer to call them) that you should know about, with a steady dose of Southern flavor.
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The Green Mill
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The proclaimed “birth place” of slam poetry, this Jazz bar in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago became a mecca of sorts once Marc Smith–the “inventor” of the art–brought his creation through it’s doors back in the 1980s (Marc Smith will actually be hosting an event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of slam poetry’s creation at the Metro in Chicago on July 30th). As the story goes (or one of them, anyway), Smith was working construction in the ’70s and was trying to get published by prominent literary magazines, however his work was never accepted (continue reading…)
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Coming out as Christian means coming out for love. Last Sunday, July 24, I went to the Manhattan Marriage Bureau on the first day same-sex couples could marry legally in New York State, dressed in my purple clergy robe. I went to congratulate couples and offer a religious wedding to any who might want it.
A sweet communion of folk gathered in line with palpable hope and expectation outside the building long before the doors opened (continue reading…)
It was an impulsive and half-baked idea that changed our lives forever. During Ramadan 2010, Islam’s holy month of fasting and reflection, we hopped in a car and drove across America, stopping each evening to break our fast at a different mosque in a different state. We drove over 13,000 miles during the trip and blogged about it daily on our site, www.30mosques.com. We prayed in the infamous “Ground Zero Mosque,” got pulled over by a cop in Mississipi and stumbled upon one of the first mosques ever built in the United States when our car broke down (continue reading…)
Last week the Institute of Medicine (IOM) announced its recommendation that comprehensive contraceptive methods be included as a preventive benefit. This means that, if the federal government agrees with the proposal, these services will be provided at no extra cost to women. It was a victory for all women, but especially poor women and those hit by the tough economic climate, because it would leave the decision to utilize family planning up to a woman’s conscience, rather than on her ability to afford a co-pay. A group of 19 progressive Catholic organizations, including Catholics for Choice, celebrated this news and sent a letter asking Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, to implement the IOM’s recommendations (continue reading…)
Every Jewish holiday has its own food associations. Passover: Matzah, of course! Rosh HaShanah: Apples and honey; Hanukkah: Latkes; Shavuot: Blintzes and other dairy food; Tu-B’Shvat: Almonds. Even Yom Kippur, which is a fast day, is bracketed by festive meals before and after the fast. Tisha B’Av, Judaism’s “other” full fast day, does not quite have the same positive associations as Yom Kippur (continue reading…)
President has authority and moral obligation to invoke the 14th Amendment to avoid economic catastrophe
Today in a letter to President Obama, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver and I called on President Obama to raise the debt ceiling under the authority of the 14th Amendment. Below is the text of the letter:
Dear Mr. President:
We urge you to invoke section 4 of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution to raise the debt ceiling and enable the United States government to meet its financial obligations if Congress fails to act in time. We believe that you have both the authority and a moral obligation to do so in order to avoid an economic catastrophe of historic proportions.
Since the founding of the Republic, the United States has always honored its debts, from assuming the obligations incurred during the Revolutionary War, to the present day (continue reading…)
This week, as the debt ceiling debate inched its way closer to the Aug. 2 deadline, the acrimony became internecine, with former GOP standard-bearer John McCain deriding Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and “Tea Party hobbits,” and one-time Tea Party poster boy Allen West bemoaning the faction’s debt ceiling “schizophrenia.” Cut, Cap, and Bicker. This week also saw the funerals of two very different artists: Amy Winehouse, a talented but troubled performer, who died at 27 (joining Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, and Cobain in a “forever” club you definitely don’t want to be a member of), and Michael Cacoyannis, the 90-year-old director of my all-time favorite life-affirming film, Zorba the Greek.
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Organized labor has many enemies in this country. Unfortunately, we also need to start worrying about our friends.
Vocal conservatives continue to increase their influence and hijack the debate about restoring our economy, putting the focus on cutting deficits and not creating jobs. Their attempt to shrink government and hurt the middle class is unfortunate, but not surprising (continue reading…)
Morley is the antithesis of street artists in Los Angeles. Where traditional taggers obscure their name in scrawled script only readable to their own, Morley prints big messages with his large bold lettering. Where most find it cool to be cryptic, Morley shares his wit in complete sentences. Where many street artists prefer anonymity or an empowered alter-ego, Morley includes a plain drawing of his unglamorous self writing each ironic aphorism (continue reading…)
It’s tough for people out there. The last thing we need is more of the Tower of Babel — confusion and noise. To be confused when plenty of us are confused already as to the direction of the U.S. What has gripped us, that we have come to a point where senior citizens are scared into whether they will be receiving social security checks or not as part of the national debt ceiling debate?
Federal spending is about 300 billion a month (continue reading…)
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Silliness about the debt ceiling has risen to the absurd. Anyone who steps back from the swirl of current arguments will immediately see that there is an easy, almost unavoidable exit from our current paralysis, and President Obama controls it. If Congress cannot reach agreement on terms for raising the debt ceiling, President Obama will have the inescapable duty to invoke the 14th Amendment and continue to pay U.S. debts (continue reading…)
Spending almost two hours in the dark with Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone, enjoying their trials and travails, their growth and their romance, is really so much fun that you’re to be forgiven if you don’t realize, by the time you walk out, that you’ve just seen a very important film.
I wouldn’t think of spoiling the big reveals of the movie for you. But let me let you in on the worst-kept secret of Hollywood Romance Movies: they all follow a formula. It’s such a common formula that most of us can recite it by heart without even knowing it (continue reading…)
When is a designated landmark really a landmark and what are the limits of protection? When is the alteration of a landmark for a new use so extensive as to render the designation pointless? And if a building is worthy of such an honored status that often brings with it tax credits for its restoration, how far can the cause of adaptability be stretched?
Ever since the battle over the future of 2 Columbus Circle, these questions have taken on greater significance. The refusal of the Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider landmark status for the 1964 12-story museum designed by Edward Durell Stone is considered by preservationists as the “Penn Station of Modernist Preservation.” Appreciation for the enduring value of mid-century modern architecture has been growing ever since and the number of advocates for preservation of that not-too-distant era has increased as well.
Now comes the case involving the 1954 Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank at 43rd Street and Fifth Avenue, designed by one of the 20th century’s most notable architects, Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
No more iconic building represents the Modernist era in New York City than this five-story glass box (continue reading…)
As the clock runs down toward the witching hour on August 2, I see three possible solutions to the crisis. First, the Republicans and Democrats in Congress can agree on a compromise plan that raises the debt ceiling for a reasonable period of time and deals with at least some of the issues of spending cuts and new revenues that have thus far so furiously divided the parties. I suppose this is still possible, but it seems unlikely.
Second, the Republicans and Democrats in Congress can agree to increase the debt ceiling for a reasonable period of time without addressing any of the bitterly divisive spending and revenue issues (continue reading…)
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