The Other Side of the Ocean

Sunday, October 31, 2004

What witches wish for 

Moments ago a neighbor stopped by. She spoke for a yet-untapped constituency: witches. Look closely, her buttons say “witches for Kerry.” The “Its up to the women” sticker was her treat for coming to my door.
posted by nina, 10/31/2004 06:26:08 PM | link | (0) comments

which way will witches vote? click and see. Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/31/2004 06:25:24 PM | link | (0) comments

Will Ocean survive the elections even if I don’t? 

No, of course not. If I go, the blog goes. Conversely, if I survive, the blog will also toddle along. I remember writing some months ago how I will not let Ocean become a commentary on news reports. And indeed, even during the campaign months I rarely have felt compelled to sift through the news and pick on the substance or style of any story. But Ocean follows the proclivities and inclinations of moi*, and moi right now is obsessed with politics.

But more importantly, I am feeling a tiny tiny dose of optimism again. For one thing, a Packer person just informed me that the green team BEAT the Redskins and so a defeat of the incumbent is in the bag (see post below on the historic significance of a Redskins loss). And, another reader reminded me to check (here), which averages a number of credible polls. Take a look, all you perpetually-doubting-and-depressed-dubya-dissers: Kerry 283, Bush 246. And, if you click on the state of Wisconsin (or click here), you'll see some pretty amazing numbers and a wildly zig-zagging divergence.

I wonder if I bought enough champagne…

*that would be me
posted by nina, 10/31/2004 04:39:06 PM | link | (1) comments

Third street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/31/2004 11:31:44 AM | link | (0) comments

3rd: the clouds recede, the skies turn blue Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/31/2004 11:30:50 AM | link | (0) comments
Three, two, one -----then what?

This morning, what with the extra hour of sleep and a Sunday before me, I am sitting at home mulling over the various ways Tuesday/Wednesday may play out for me.

According to one scenario, I never make it to the polling place. That happened once before, though not in a presidential race. I ran out of time, the polls closed early and it was either voting or taking some child to some lesson or other. I chose the latter. Nothing happened – my candidate won anyway. But the guilt stayed with me, as even now I feel compelled to admit here on the blog to this past waywardness.

This year, the polling places remain open for a long time and I have no one to take anywhere (and no, I have not volunteered as an election monitor; one acquaintance who is doing this told me yesterday that she cannot imagine what possessed her to commit the day to a Madison voting place, as if we are anything at all like Florida or even Ohio). But I could freeze and not be able to walk the long distance (one block) to where I typically vote. It could happen.

Then, if I wake up and find that my vote, or rather its absence, tilted the election in an undesirable direction, I will channel all anger and frustration at myself rather than at the political candidate I have learned to fear and dread. Blaming yourself is always more rewarding than blaming someone else for a sad state of affairs because you can always seek to improve yourself whereas you can do nothing to affect the politics of George W Bush. Don’t fool yourself – the man is off limits and he wont listen to you anyway, even if you are a Person of Great Influence.

Second scenario: I vote for the wrong person by accident. I have studied the ballot and have even helped direct some to the proper management of THE LINE connecting the <-- to the – so that it forms a nice contiguous <---- to the Democrat side of things. But you know how it is in that makeshift contraption they call the voting booth. You get so nervous about doing the wrong thing that you wind up doing the wrong thing. And, let us not forget that this is my first presidential election since I have turned fifty. As Chef O says down at L’Etoile, crossing 50 is like having too many windows open on your computer screen – things begin to slow down. And, the hand may even shake a bit as it draws the connecting line. Does a wobbly line count?

Third scenario: I vote, the results slowly indicate that GWB won, I drink too much wine, forget to go to class the next day, get fired from my job, run out of unemployment, join some philanthropic organization providing direct services to orphans in Polish highlands and am never heard from again.

Fourth scenario: I vote, the results slowly indicate that GWB lost, I drink too much champagne, drink gallons of coffee the next morning, stumble into class and deliver a bad lecture, but most are forgiving (and the rest are too depressed to notice), then I come back home and sit in the back yard marveling at how magnificent the white pine is – the tree that we planted when it was just a couple of feet tall, that now looks almost as tall as the Empire State Building.

Which of the four is before me? Or is there a fifth? In three days I’ll know.

posted by nina, 10/31/2004 11:24:08 AM | link | (0) comments

taking pleasure in things that grow Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/31/2004 11:22:17 AM | link | (0) comments
(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/31/2004 11:20:35 AM | link | (0) comments

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Blogger dinner  

It's late and so I wont say much, just this: I had a really tough day and it would have been a hell of a lot tougher had it not been for the warm and forgiving company of the following bloggers (see photo below).
Thanks. [Yes, they are all wearing Women for Kerry stickers. I made them do it. But they swore that they were voting as if their life depended on it for Kerry anyway.]

posted by nina, 10/30/2004 11:59:17 PM | link | (0) comments

all bloggers, all great. Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/30/2004 11:57:59 PM | link | (0) comments

Which way does the wind blow? 

This was the next-to-last Market on the Square this year, but already you could see signs of closure for the season: a number of farmers don’t show up when the weather gets this cold and the wind kicks up to a gale force. And the crowds diminish as well. Who wants to be out and about on a day when the weather cannot make up its mind, alternating between drizzle and sunshine? Another one of those Wisconsin undecided moments, swinging between dark clouds and blue bright blue – skies.

Seasonal touches:

posted by nina, 10/30/2004 03:28:12 PM | link | (0) comments

croissants at L'Etoile: these are pumpkin and dark chocolate Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/30/2004 03:27:48 PM | link | (0) comments

the L'Etoile cart Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/30/2004 03:26:12 PM | link | (0) comments

the kind of 'green' that's easy to love this year Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/30/2004 03:23:52 PM | link | (0) comments

She told me "I bet I get in trouble with the Market administrators for the signs, but I don't care." Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/30/2004 03:18:57 PM | link | (0) comments

When asked if he could tell the political inclinations of his pumpkins, the farmer answered -- well, there are always those growing to the left and to the right of the vine, so yeah, he could tell. Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/30/2004 03:17:13 PM | link | (0) comments

Fourth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/30/2004 05:58:29 AM | link | (0) comments

4th against a sobering mural: a reminder of what 'drives' so many to take excessive steps, be it in the northern wilderness or across the ocean Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/30/2004 05:57:08 AM | link | (0) comments
Musings just four days before...

Remember when the mere mention of the KGB produced an almost visceral reaction of fear and revulsion? Good olds days! Fear in the abstract!

Today you can get a cheap, strong drink and attend a literary event at the KGB Bar on east 4th and rub shoulders with writers who read “to an adoring public with pleasure and without pay.” (New York Magazine and the Village Voice say it’s the best literary venue in the city.)

The KGB is a fairly recent addition to the block, opening in a building that once housed the Ukrainian Labor Home. The owner of the bar used to go to the Ukrainian Labor Home as a kid and drink shots of vodka, eat pierogi and listen to his dad’s buddies talk. And talk. And talk. The kid grew up and became a lawyer, the men grew old, he returned to the place and turned it into what it is today.

Moral of the story? Well, there are several:
1. Once you get your JD, you can do any number of things, including opening a literary bar in the East Village.
2. There’s something magical about eating pierogi and kapusniak, downing vodka (or whatever) and listening to people talk.
3. People can laugh about a perceived menace from the past so long as it no longer is perceived as a viable threat.

I am hoping that someday I am going to laugh my brains out about Bush. Ha ha ha, remember when I worried that he would create havoc and destruction here and abroad? Ha ha ha, wasn’t he a hilarious political figure? Ha ha ha.

Today, all one can do on a somber afternoon is go sit at Cuppa Cuppa (next door to the KGB), swirl coffee in a mug and admire the window postings: ‘see this musical performance,’ ‘go check out that theater across the street,’ and ‘vote for Kerry and Edwards.’

[Not to let my excitement get the better of me, but if you watched the Lehrer hour last night, you will have heard the suggestion that the Midwest is going to provide one hell of a surprise come November 2nd. One that Kerry will very much like. Eeeeeee-haw!]

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/30/2004 05:38:08 AM | link | (0) comments

Once a place with a rich communist-era history, now a bar with a sense of humor and serious respect for art and literature. Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/30/2004 05:37:15 AM | link | (0) comments

A favorite spot in the East Village, for many reasons Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/30/2004 05:31:18 AM | link | (0) comments

Friday, October 29, 2004

My conversation with Andre (not his real name): 

A: Hey, plastic or paper?
N: Um, I need the paper bag, so paper.

A: Yeah, that’s a button alright [referring to my button that has a Heinz ketchup bottle on it with Kerry printed across the label].
N: I got it at the rally. Did you go?

A: Nah, I was like here, like all day.
N: But you’re voting, right?

A: Not for any of those clowns. They’re not my thing.
N: You’re not voting?

A: I may vote for one of the other dudes, I don’t know.
N: So you don’t care that you’re facilitating a Bush win? You don’t care if Bush, rather than Kerry becomes president?

A: Nah. I hate them both. They are not about any of my things.
N: And what are your things?

A: Oh, you know, like more radical. Nothing that they care about.
N: Don’t you think one of them is closer to what you care about than the other? And if neither represents the real you, maybe it would be a good idea to consider which one represents the interest of 85% of the people of this country and has the backing of the vast majority of progressives in the state?

A: Uh, maybe I just wont vote..
N: Why don’t you do what the Isthmus suggests – trade votes with someone in another state (see, so that you can have your voice and still allow the better of the two to carry Wisconsin?

A: Huh?
N: Thanks for the groceries. [Silently: I don’t hate you, really I don’t. I embrace our differences. I am glad you’re picking up benefits at Whole Foods so that your head can get fixed in case it breaks down, if it hasn’t done so already.]

posted by nina, 10/29/2004 04:45:09 PM | link | (0) comments

Searching for warmth in all the left places 

I heard this before and it is confirmed by a blogger in Europe (here): Europeans are not permitted access to the official GWB website. If you try, you get the following message: Access Denied. You don’t have permission to access “” on this server. Just squash those Europeans as if they were spiders, why don’t ya, George!

atbozzo.blogspot posted the magnificent photo of the sweep of enthusiasts on West Washington (here). If you did not go to the rally and you don’t break out in sweat at the sound of the L word, do, please do take a look at it. Tom's blog notes on the rally parallel mine and he mentioned subsequently that he also kept an eye out for the Boss factor and found only Kerry enthusiasts around him.

Thanks, also, for pointing me to the Reuters daily tracking poll, which posted the following six hours ago: Bush and Kerry were tied at 47 percent in the latest three-day national tracking poll as the Massachusetts senator gained two points on Bush!

You’re welcome. This to a friend who came over and borrowed my Kerry buttons for a Halloween party. She was going as a Texan for Kerry. Truly an original.

And guess where my last feel-good moment comes from? The Economist. The Economist? Yes. Read their editorial published today here. One line for those without the will to click: [O]ur confidence in [Bush] has been shattered. And the last paragraph: …as Mr Bush has often said, there is a need in life for accountability. He has refused to impose it himself, and so voters should, in our view, impose it on him, given a viable alternative. John Kerry, for all the doubts about him, would be in a better position to carry on with America's great tasks.

There. I’m sure of it. If affluent east-coast cocktail drinking CEOs have gone blue (see post below) and the Economist has abandoned the Republican candidate, surely no one still believes GWB is better suited for the presidency. What a relief!

posted by nina, 10/29/2004 01:02:00 PM | link | (0) comments

Fifth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/29/2004 10:47:48 AM | link | (0) comments

5th: in squalor but with hope Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/29/2004 10:45:59 AM | link | (0) comments
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday.
Sunday, Friday, Monday, Saturday, Tuesday.
Monday, Saturday, Friday, Sunday, Tuesday.

And so on. I play these games with the dates and the days. I think I am going insane.

Yesterday I thought long and hard about what question to submit to RW Apple at the Times (he’s taking Qs from readers until November 2nd , read them here). I have a great desire to makes sense of this election. I think that others who have submitted Qs are also struggling to comprehend what would lead a voter to stand with such confidence behind Bush. Here’s one query, along with Apple’s answer (emphases are my own):

Q. What makes the East Coast conservatives - cocktails at 5 p.m., tennis at the club, CEO, trustfund crowd - comfortable with the Evangelicals now running their party?
- xx, St. Helena, Calif.

A. I don't think they are particularly comfortable. Those who are supporting the administration are doing so while holding their noses. Others (watch the returns from Westchester, Greenwich and the Main Line) are voting Democratic. (PS -- They may drink cocktails at 5 p.m. in the Napa Valley, but they don't in and around N.Y. More like 6:30 or 7.)

Meanwhile, my neighbors are looking after me in the way that nurturing people look after someone at the brink of a mental breakdown. This morning, my steady emailers sent me this:

Q: What is the difference between Iraq and Vietnam?
A: Bush had an exit strategy for Vietnam.

Funny. I’m in need of more funny! This week’s Isthmus recalls Jon Stewart’s funniest election moment.
Here’s their summary:

[A] favorite “Daily Show” moment from this campaign season came when Stewart showed a clip of Dr. Phil interviewing George W. Bush about child-rearing. “Do you believe in spanking?” the doc asked.
“Does he believe in spanking?” Stewart interjected, incredulously. “He believes in executing the retarded! OF COURSE HE BELIEVES IN SPANKING!”

In the meantime, I’ve been avoiding writing about this week’s extensive analysis in the Financial Times of the Polish economy. I’ll just mention this: American outsourcing is exactly what Poland needs. The fact that western markets are again looking toward Poland is positively inspiring. For Poles. To quote the FT: “The latest wave includes companies out-sourcing business services, such as Philips, the Dutch electronics maker, and Citigroup, the US financial services company.” Could I just note here how depressing it is that one country’s economic pigsty is another’s L’Etoile?

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/29/2004 10:33:17 AM | link | (0) comments

Thursday, October 28, 2004

A political high from the middle of West Washington 

No, no, of course I did not cancel class because of Kerry’s visit. That would be unethical and uncalled for. But I did move it to a date that I have in reserve for make-up classes. As I told them – it was not because of Kerry (that would be unethical and uncalled for). It was because of THE BOSS!

What news services will fail to report about the event:

Only in Wisconsin can a crowd of 80,000 pull off a “wave” with Kerry signs up Washington Avenue![Yes, we were told to leave signs at home, but once inside the ‘gates,’ Kerry volunteers brought batches of hot-off-the-press signs. You know how cool freshly printed paper smells? Yeah! These signs were a nasal high!]

Bruce Springsteen has, unfortunately, a first name that sounds quite like the last name of our Republican candidate. If I closed my eyes to the Kerry paraphernalia, I could at one point, hear the chant “Bruce” and imagine myself to be momentarily at a Republican rally. I’ll probably suffer nightmares from this.

Kerry likened his campaign to being back in college: lots of late nights, beer and cold pizza. Looking at him even from way up the street – he seemed pretty svelte to me. He mustn’t be liking the pizza.

Quote of the afternoon? It belongs to Kerry: "We need a president who can do more than one thing at the same time!"

P.S. I think people are worried about me. I got the following email message from a neighbor:
Nina, consider yourself warned:
(Link to article followed; read it here, or glance over these highlights:)

Doctors are blaming a rare electrical imbalance in the brain for the bizarre death of a blogger whose head literally exploded in the final week of the election! …Experts say he suffered from a condition called Hyper-Cerebral Blogosis or HCB .

…Although Dr. Martinenko says there are probably many undiagnosed cases, he hastens to add that very few bloggers will die from HCB . "Most people who have it will never know. Their heads will explode and they will keep right on posting. At this point, medical science still doesn't know much about HCB . And since fatalities are so rare it will probably be years before research money becomes available. This tragedy today is just another instance where human embryo stem cell research could not have made a bit of difference, but we'd have been glad to have the money from the Federal Government anyway."

In the meantime, the doctor urges bloggers to take it easy and not think too hard for long periods of time concerning the outcome during the last week of this election.

Not think too hard about the outcome? Is that possible? At least today the obsessive thinking took a positive turn. So nice of the Boss and the future boss (yes!) to look after us, the non-swingers.

From the rally:

posted by nina, 10/28/2004 06:24:25 PM | link | (0) comments

Those on the stage faced the Capitol and the Kerry banner Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/28/2004 06:23:39 PM | link | (0) comments

They say the Boss drew the crowds, but everyone I saw wore Kerry buttons. Springsteen looked out at the crowd and said "wow, Kerry sure packs them in!" Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/28/2004 06:21:17 PM | link | (0) comments

If you followed the rules, even showing up two hours early put you far up on West Wash. Still, I could easily catch sight of Kerry -- thanks for taking off your jacket and standing out in your white shirt! Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/28/2004 06:19:00 PM | link | (0) comments

I'm very happy that I was able to add one more to the 79,999 that were there to see this guy Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/28/2004 06:15:50 PM | link | (0) comments

Sixth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/28/2004 08:22:00 AM | link | (0) comments

6th street: is the arrow finally switching directions and pointing .... that way? Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/28/2004 08:21:49 AM | link | (0) comments
Six days.

On 6th street, it is said that 'Casablanca meets New York City' – at the Zerza Bar (“a multicultural smorgasbord” says the New Yorker). I’ve never been to the city of Casablanca, but I have heard that it is the place to go if you want to see the glaring polarization between the haves and the have nots. [It is also the place to go for turtle soup, since elsewhere, it is illegal to sell turtles for food consumption. Not a lure for me, even though I am a card-carrying member of Slow Food and turtle soup would seem to fit right into the mission to slow everything down in the chain of food preparation and consumption.]
posted by nina, 10/28/2004 08:18:11 AM | link | (0) comments

Zerza and the 6th street 'penthouse' apartments Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/28/2004 08:17:49 AM | link | (0) comments
Today, Friedman writes in the Times about an increasingly polarized world with a missing moderate center (here). I view it somewhat differently. I see nations clamoring to unite in opposition to America’s forceful interventions abroad. I see the disadvantaged end dangerously overloaded with very angry people. Polarized implies a certain numeric balance – as if there were equally divided North and South Poles as it were, with nations and citizens either at one end or the other. I’m thinking the only thing that’s polarized is the electorate in this country. I’m thinking that the current administration should be feeling pangs of discomfort there at the North Pole, looking around at vast empty spaces, muttering perhaps – “it feels awful lonely here at the top.”

The colors of the game

The saying goes – if the Redskins beat the Green Bay Packers this Sunday, then the incumbent stays in the White House (the Redskins final home game before the elections has accurately predicted the winner since 1933; story here). Okay, that sounds to me like one of those baseball curses that (like last night’s RedSox) deserves to be broken. And whom are the players rooting for in the presidential race? Apparently the Redskins are a swing team: some vote red, some blue. The Packers – uh, something tells me that their green colors do not bespeak of party leanings.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/28/2004 08:09:19 AM | link | (0) comments

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Contest update 

Do you see the photo in the post below, the one in need of a caption? No? Alright, alright, I’ll republish it. Along with the submitted caption ideas. I did receive one suggestion that was significantly funny but also obscene (use your imagination!!). I run a clean blog here so it had to be disqualified. But here are the others that I thought were especially good (in no particular order of preference). Again, thank you readers!
posted by nina, 10/27/2004 09:58:42 PM | link | (0) comments

contest: supply the caption Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/27/2004 09:57:52 PM | link | (0) comments
“On the map in the Oval Office, Poland is only this big. But they're still an
important part of the coalition.” [nc: I especially would find this terribly funny]

“This is the size of my brain, my vision, my...what?”

"From what I'm seeing on the news, all the insurgents in Iraq are really, really
small. That's why our army of regular-sized people is having such a hard
time. If you re-elect me, I'll make creating an army of tiny men a priority."

"My brain could fit into a pill box this size."

"I think what the British people meant to say is that we need to squash
terrorism like you squash a spider. I'm good at squashing spiders! See?" [nc: a great play on yesterday's post about the British fear of spiders]

"I think a woman should have this much control over her body."

"This is six inches."

"Look, I keep telling you guys that line of coke was only this long. You should
see the one Jeb did. Heh-Heh-Heh."

"We found this many weapons of mass destruction."


"I call upon all nations to help us find these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive. Damn, missed a hole-in-one by just that much!"

"This one time, I came this close to pronouncing 'Abu Gharib' correctly. That one time."

"You forgot Micronesia!"

posted by nina, 10/27/2004 09:51:48 PM | link | (0) comments

Okay, I need to lighten up 

Sorry Instapundit and humorless readers, I need to post something light and airy to get myself out of a frame of mind that is absolutely crushing my spirit. Thanks to those readers who sent me the clips below. You are all wonderful and I appreciate your hope and cheer!

First, a contest:

This photo is being passed around the Internet. It needs a caption. Send your suggestions to me and (if I remember) I’ll post some good ideas.
posted by nina, 10/27/2004 02:52:40 PM | link | (0) comments

supply the caption Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/27/2004 02:51:20 PM | link | (0) comments

a bumper sticker Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/27/2004 02:49:30 PM | link | (0) comments

another bumper sticker Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/27/2004 02:47:06 PM | link | (0) comments

another bumper sticker Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/27/2004 02:44:57 PM | link | (0) comments

another bumper sticker  Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/27/2004 02:43:00 PM | link | (0) comments

Musicians' view of the debates Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/27/2004 02:36:17 PM | link | (0) comments

Seventh street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/27/2004 07:28:58 AM | link | (0) comments

7th: cooperating with neighbors of different persuasions Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/27/2004 07:27:50 AM | link | (0) comments
Seven days. Seven days??

When I was seven, I began my tenure at the UN School in New York. One song we sang then went something like this:

So let’s extend a helping hand
Across the Rio Grande
And help each other too
Like all good neighbors do.

Over the years I have wondered whatever happened to that ‘extending a helping hand’ idea.
And, about the good neighbor line – how does that one play out in reality? Say, even in New York?

On 7th street, you’ll find the St. Stanislaus Church – a Polish Roman Catholic church with a statue of John Paul II in front. For many years there was quite a bit of tension between the church and the across-the-street-neighbor, Body Worship. The church officials did not appreciate the fact that their beloved Pope had to look out upon a store that was a major S&M gear outlet. I, myself, found it rather amusing that we had two houses of worship facing each other in this way, but my opinion on this is, of course, hardly relevant. In the end, the powerful St Stanislaus won the battle, if not the war, because Body Worship is no more.

Further down the street, there is another racy place – Enelra’s Lingerie. One critic stated that Enelra makes Victoria’s Secret look like the Gap! Does it have skirmishes with its immediate neighbor, the Via della Pace? Not a bit. Via della Pace is a bar-eatery, presumably named after the trendy bar in Rome. If you go to the NY ‘della Pace’ now, in the weeks before the election, you’ll find an interesting display inside, with clips of reviews, some photos of past winers-and-diners, and a t-shirt with the logo; “Romani Contro Bush.” Oh, and a Kerry pin. Now is that un-nieghborly? Does it repel customers to show such political partisanship? Not so much, or at least not in New York, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 5 to 1.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/27/2004 07:20:12 AM | link | (0) comments

'peace' in the name and in the spirit of the place Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/27/2004 07:13:49 AM | link | (0) comments

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Did Someone Say Civil War?? 

Indeed. John Dean wrote a compelling piece (here) last week, explaining how it will be nearly impossible to avoid a long, drawn-out legal battle following a close election on November 2nd. The Democrats aren’t about to cave in after the slap in the face in 2000 and the Republicans, well, they’ve got I-will-bully-and-fight-'til-the-bitter-end-Karl Rove calling the shots. Consider these closing paragraphs from John Dean:

The Nightmare Scenario: An Election up in the Air for Months

It may be days or weeks, if not months, before we know the final results of this presidential election. And given the Republican control of the government, if Karl Rove is on the losing side, it could be years: He will take every issue (if he is losing) to its ultimate appeal in every state he can.

The cost of such litigation will be great - with the capital of citizens' trust in their government, and its election processes, sinking along with the nation's (if not the world') financial markets, which loathe uncertainty. After Bush v. Gore, is there any doubt how the high Court would resolve another round? This time, though, the Court, too, will pay more dearly. With persuasive power as its only source of authority, the Court's power will diminish as the American people's cynicism skyrockets.

It does not seem to trouble either Rove or Bush that they are moving us toward a Twenty-first Century civil war - and that, once again, Southern conservatism is at its core. Only a miracle, it strikes me, can prevent this election from descending into post-election chaos. But given the alternatives, a miracle is what I am hoping for.

posted by nina, 10/26/2004 06:28:22 PM | link | (0) comments

What would Bush ads be like if this were Britain?  

According to a recent CNN poll (here), the British fear spiders more than terrorism. Imagine, then, Bush campaign ads, focusing not on the fight to stamp out terrorists, but to stamp out spiders. In his words (though with my spiders):

GWB: America should lead with strength and confidence. Our great nation has to be strong. And safe. From spiders. We must lead in the march toward freedom. From spiders. Sadam knows and harbors spiders. He had the capability of attracting more spiders. The world is a better place without spiders. My opponent would have you believe that there are no spiders in Iraq. My opponent would cut funds for spider smashing. My opponent would enter multilateral negotiations about spiders. We need a strong America. We stand for a culture of life. Without spiders.

Sounds as credible as anything else we're hearing. Silly? Well, one person's fear is another person's malarkey. I'm sure the British are wondering why we're not attuned to the real dangers before us either (spiders, nuclear weapons).
posted by nina, 10/26/2004 06:17:30 PM | link | (0) comments

Eighth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/26/2004 09:16:40 AM | link | (0) comments

8th: reflecting distortions Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/26/2004 09:14:57 AM | link | (0) comments
Eight days remaining now. Jaroslav Seifert, a Czech writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, wrote a poem entitled “Eight Days.” Seifert once said “If a writer is silent, he is lying.”

And a boo to you, too

Who needs Halloween this year? There are enough authentic devils and goblins floating around to scare the daylights out of you. But if I were to dress up as something spooky, I’d make a newspaper dress out of today’s Washington Post article on the nuclear threats that have not been adequately addressed by the Bush administration (here). Pretty scary stuff. On my forehead, I’d paste these excerpts:

"The big gorilla in the basement is the material from Russia and Pakistan," said Robert L. Gallucci, dean of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and a classified consultant to the CIA and Energy Department laboratories. "This is the principal, major national security threat to the United States in the next decade or more. I don't know what's in second place."

…"If tomorrow morning we lost a city, who of us could have said we didn't know how this could happen?" [Gallucci] said. "I haven't felt like this in all the years I've been in government or the nine since I've been [out]. I am -- I don't want to say scared, because that's not what I want to project, but I am deeply concerned for my family and for all Americans."

Madeline Albright said last night on the Daily Show: "..what is scariest is that they [the current administration] believe it’s going well."

Good bye Good Humor (on the campaign trail?) man, hello Mud (slinging on the campaign trail?) guy

One more viewing of a commercial that aims to scare the voter right into the GOP lap and I am giving up TV for at least 8 days.

I am not in NYC at the moment, but I recall seeing a new fixture on the streets of the East Village this past week-end – something called a Mud Truck, selling gourmet coffee to us mortals who are seeking an alternative to Starbucks but winding up at Starbucks places for lack of decent other choices. [I have no real objection to Starbucks and in fact, while in NY, I rely on the chain for my wireless service, but I appreciate opportunities to spend my life’s savings – they must sprinkle gold dust on lattes in NY – on something more local every once in a while.] Well, now we have a Mud Truck, standing right there, to the side of 8th street. With a peaceful political statement. I’ll drink to that.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/26/2004 09:00:19 AM | link | (0) comments

from the Mud guys: let's keep the peace Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/26/2004 08:59:08 AM | link | (0) comments

Monday, October 25, 2004

Ninth street pre-election diary, part 2* 

Thanks for the link, Insta-Ann.

I will do my best to stay true to my convictions which are as follows: my pen in the election booth will not cross over into the red arena. It will remain with the blue candidates.

Now, on to the torrent of email in response to the link. Let me just post a few answers:

To the reader who asked if I understood how someone might vote for Bush without being a morally corrupt person. The reader tells me, timidly almost, that unlike many fellow Republicans, he, himself tries to understand the Kerry side of the issue even as he is voting for Bush.
My answer? Yes, as a matter of fact, I think I do understand. I can understand how fear of change in leadership now, in the middle of this Iraq mess, may freeze a voter completely, leading them to stay at GWB's side. I can understand that. I, myself, however, don't buy it.

Listen, ye who are drawn to Bush based on his terrorism-Iraq platform: I am offering my sympathies. It must be tough to live in fear that a Kerry-type might be an even less effective leader in the battle to contain international terrorism than Bush is.

And imagine the quandary I'd be in if, say, the Republican candidate was espousing a platform of anti-terrorist measures, similar to that advanced by Kerry, while the Democratic candidate was the Iraq-obsessed-wont-say-he's-wrong-or-that-he-deceived-the-public politician. Whom would I vote for? Would global concerns trump a domestic agenda?

Here's my honest answer to that dilemma: initially I would be one of those unfortunate undecided's, harassed by every one and their mother (and especially my mother, who tends toward the "passionately convinced" side of every issue) in the course of each waking hour before the election.

But eventually I WOULD decide and it would be in favor of the person who could advance a reasoned position, rather than an emotional, irrational conviction.

This year I have it easy because for me, Kerry trumps Bush on the international-terrorism front, in his domestic policies (not far-reaching enough at times, but it's a start) and perhaps most importantly, in his ability to rely on knowledge and reason in the search for an optimal outcome. I do whole-heartedlybelieve that Kerry is better able than Bush to process vast amounts of information, and to listen to opinions from other nations and from an informed staff who understands the complexities and challenges ahead, rather than questioning their gut and God for the right course of action. Would anyone dispute this??

Staying with Bush now is like staying with a quack who has managed to plug the needle into your vein but has yet to send the right medication into your bloodstream. "It's working! It's working! I can do it! I can do it!" he shouts, as the world grows increasingly doubtful and the patient slowly fades into nothingness.

Okay, other emails: To the reader who asks how I could possibly be Polish, with a first-hand knowledge of socialism and not be a conservative:
Well now, yes, exactly so. The logic is entirely on my side.

To the reader who asks if I was offended by Kerry's disrespect toward my homeland during the debate:
I felt no such disrespect. And much as I love my homeland, I question its motives in initially joining with this Administration's decision to invade Iraq, in the same way that I am now questioning its motives in deciding to pull back. If, indeed, it has decided, because it seems to me that someone on the other side of the Ocean is punting until further word comes on who will be the next leader in America.

To the reader who remarked on my champagne-liberalism (see post below) -- yes, yes, you are correct! It is a wonderful label and I will drink a toast to it come Tuesday. I hope. [You know what killed me, though, during my NY brunch? One of the Columbus Ave. eateries had a sign saying: wear a button, any button -- Kerry or Bush -- and promise you'll vote, and you'll get 15% off your bill. I don't wear buttons, but I live in Wisconsin where my vote will count more and I promise to vote! Shouldn't that buy me at least another 5% off?? Still, in the end I passed on their mimosa brunch because the lines, full of Kerry-ites, those unfearful New Yorkers who are not frozen into believing that Bush is as good as it gets, were too long.]

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/25/2004 03:12:05 PM | link | (0) comments

Ninth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/25/2004 06:58:17 AM | link | (0) comments

9th: too close in all ways Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/25/2004 06:57:08 AM | link | (0) comments
Yesterday I did what I most love doing on a last Sunday in New York (prior to returning home): I walked through Central Park to the upper west side, had a salmon-eggs-benedict-and-glass-of-champagne brunch (bloody marys or mimosas are permissible alternatives) in one of the countless packed eateries on Columbus Avenue (the City Grill this time), poked into off-beat places along the way there and back, and finally called it quits and caught a cab to La Guardia.

I had the eerie feeling of normality in the face of abnormal times.

On the flight back to Madison I had the Dean of the Law School up front, another colleague in the middle and a neighbor right next to me. You might say I was easing in from the anonymity of the city to the comfy quilt that is Madison.

On my doorstep I found one ticket to the rally for Kerry this Thursday. Why one? Who gave them out? Did everyone get one?

Sitting at the Grill yesterday over my nicely poached egg, I tried to avoid spinning back to the topic that is like a plague o’ these pickle herring – the election. In the end, it proved to be impossible. My eating companion and I enumerated all things that are now patently before us – ready to discredit the current administration, yet somehow remarkably failing to do so (this theme is repeated in Herbert’s column this morning in the NYT here).

It was my last trip to NY before the election. As I cut across Central Park I came across Wollman’s Rink. They’re rushing the winter season here! How incongruous it all is: the ice skaters against a frame of still-green trees, moving to the music, all of us listening to the bleak political news of the day that for some reason fails to rock at least 50% of those who hear it – one vignette after another, not fitting, out of place, needing adjustment.

So few days left now to make sense of it all.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/25/2004 06:50:14 AM | link | (0) comments

...and the band played on... Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/25/2004 06:47:21 AM | link | (0) comments

poached eggs benedict on smoked salmon and an english muffin, with a glass of champagne; the perfect NY brunch Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/25/2004 06:46:15 AM | link | (0) comments

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tenth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/24/2004 08:40:16 AM | link | (0) comments

10th: last of the double-digit days Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/24/2004 08:39:07 AM | link | (0) comments
Now I know why I subscribe to the NYTimes and reserve the Washington Post for only online reading. I suppose if you are one of those “undecideds,” then the WashPost endorsement today of Kerry is just for you. It groans its way through the Bush record and moans its reluctance in completely handing it over to Kerry. On balance, though, it says Kerry, though shaky on some issues, will do better and is worth the risk.

The risk? It’s funny, it is the risk behind the GWB presidency that sends me spinning.

Yesterday, I spent another day in NHaven CT and I was taken for a hike along riverbanks, where I could indulge myself in perfect New England foliage views. Yes, I loved it, totally, completely. Imagine encountering covered bridges and maples trees with burgundy-tipped leaves. Of course, what pleased me no end were the other great signs of fall (see bottom photo in line-up).

posted by nina, 10/24/2004 08:30:05 AM | link | (0) comments

a spectacular range of colors Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/24/2004 08:29:23 AM | link | (0) comments

hiking around, on the periphery of New Haven Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/24/2004 08:28:35 AM | link | (0) comments

a New England classic Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/24/2004 08:26:59 AM | link | (0) comments

CT, decidedly behind Kerry Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/24/2004 08:26:03 AM | link | (0) comments
I can never wake up on October 24th and not remember that it is United Nations Day. (...on the march, with flags unfurled, together…)

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/24/2004 08:23:48 AM | link | (0) comments

toward the United Nations Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/24/2004 08:22:47 AM | link | (0) comments

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Eleventh street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/23/2004 07:52:55 AM | link | (0) comments

11th street: honking can get you in trouble Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/23/2004 07:42:56 AM | link | (0) comments
Sounding the horn on the blog bears no penalty and so I can proceed.

It is late. My train is speeding into darkness along the New Haven -- Grand Central corridor. I am reading the New Yorker and, in the gloom of the dark night, I suddenly I realize that our toast may well fall butter-side down in our laps. Let me explain.

The Talk of the Town column recalls Murphy's Law. Originally states as "If there's a wrong way to do it, he will" (since I am obsessing about politics, a certain candidate comes to mind), it evolved into the general proposition that "Anything that can go wrong will," or, as it is often formulated across the ocean (in Britain) -- "Bad things happen at the most inopportune times." In England, an advertisement basically sums it up thus: "Not only will your toast fall butter-side down; your toaster will break--the day after your guarantee runs out." And, the New Yorker article suggests that this is more than folk-wisdom. Life's events catapult in unfortunate directions in a synchronized march toward doomsday with some regularity. At the very least, it can be demonstrated that you are more likely to be stuck in a traffic jam if you need to be somewhere in a hurry.

I haven't read the headlines today yet, but I can translate this all too well into the political arena. Imagine this chain of absurdities: Kerry says Lambert instead of Lambeau while munching on a brat which he mistakenly refers to as a br-aaa-t (rhymes with hat), while wiping goose blood from his newly acquired hunting jacket, and 1000 voters, apparently with the minds of boiled turnips, catch all this on TV, gasp in shock, and fill out their swing state ballots for the "other guy." The electoral tallying machine crunches out the bleak reality. Ten electoral votes put one guy over the top and we have 4 more years of an administration that basically ensures the demise of the world as we know it. Or at the very least, hacks away at equality, civil rights, global dialogue and environmental resource conservation because the gut of one person tells him that this is what must happen. Have I taken Murphy's Law too far?

We are eleven days away. I have every right to honk scenarios of horror and gloom. Let me pause now and take a look at some headlines. Maybe that will cheer me up.

UPDATE: 50 to 46 doesn't do it for me.

(*see "forty-second street pre-election diary" post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/23/2004 07:19:00 AM | link | (0) comments

Friday, October 22, 2004

Twelfth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/22/2004 11:53:25 AM | link | (0) comments

12th: all the green can be misleading; this is a blissfully blue city Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/22/2004 11:52:24 AM | link | (0) comments
Twelve days, twelfth hour, twelve reasons to panic.

True, when I walk around the East Village, I get inspired by the display of support from a state that swings as blue as the writing on this post.

posted by nina, 10/22/2004 11:50:49 AM | link | (0) comments

We The People... Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/22/2004 11:49:11 AM | link | (0) comments

a welcome 'yard' sign Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/22/2004 11:47:30 AM | link | (0) comments
But then, I come back uptown, get off the subway and am assailed by the following headline:

posted by nina, 10/22/2004 11:45:42 AM | link | (0) comments

49 to 45 is way too close for a sure-fire Kerry state Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/22/2004 11:42:55 AM | link | (0) comments
True, this is the NY Observer. I mean, who is going to pay attention to the Observer? Still, I am reading about those New Jersey types who are reveling in their tax-cuts and hating their Democratic governor and I get worried.

There are way too many references to guns in the papers today. Kerry is sporting a hunting rifle (thanks, macho boys, for demanding this of a presidential candidate), Bush is within shooting distance in New Jersey… Meanwhile, I read in the NYTimes that the NRA has already contributed $20 million to the Bush campaign. And there is Cheney, sarcastically scoffing at Kerry’s camouflage hunting jacket. I suppose his own duck-hunting excursion with Scalia last year is now but a distant memory. And here comes clever George, still playing with the “he can run” line. Why don’t you just KILL it already, George. [The latest GWB version, referring to Kerry in his hunting garb: “he can run – he can even run in camo – but he cannot hide.”]

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/22/2004 11:19:14 AM | link | (0) comments

Thursday, October 21, 2004

En route to NY 

I realized that I had been sitting in my room staring at the political screen for too long when I boarded the flight to LGA and, in spite of the drizzly DTW skies, my head cleared. [I may as well admit it: more than three weeks in one place and I implode.] Yeah! Is there a presidential campaign taking place? Don't know, don't care -- I tell myself. Yeah!

Not for long though. For those who believe only liberals feel compelled to proselytize their passionate message of hate and scorn for the "other side," let me tell you -- the passenger with whom I had to spend 59 minutes en route to DTW spared no vim nor vigor in telling me why he is right to be Right (as if his book on the heresy of Kerry wasn't already revealing). WWJDD (What Would Jane Doe Do)? She would, of course, not engage (why bother) and neither did I.

Flying into New York for me is always like stripping layers of down parkas and wooly sweaters off and revealing bare skin to the harsh elements of city life. Good-bye comfy quilt, hello shards of broken glass. It's odd how much I don't mind.

A reader reminded me that I have been focused on the campaign in this blog since at least the 42nd day prior to the election. She finds it scary-amazing that we are a mere thirteen days away from November 2nd. Similar thoughts were expressed by a student who wrote that she was sorry that she could not come to class for the next week and a half, but that she firmly believed in the historic significance of this election and she needed to now devote every hour of each day to getting out the vote.

A colleague noted that he has written in "Drunk" into his calendar for November 3rd no matter what the outcome. Now that's disconcerting. If you drink in post-election despair (rather than in exhiliration), then are you resigning yourself to a four-year period of inebriated stupor? I am hoping that he knows something I don't know (for example, that the polls are rigged and that the outcome is not at all close, with Kery leading by 10% of the vote, with a margin of error of .01).

Finally, a note from a neighbor led me to the photo below. I hope the French pay attention to the washing instructions on their clothes. [The photo has a way of disappearing at times and so if it's missing, know that it displays a clothing label from a small American company selling their product in France. It says in French: 'wash by hand with warm water and mild soap; dry flat; do not use bleach; do not dry in the dryer; do not iron; we are sorry that our president is an idiot; we did not vote for him.']

posted by nina, 10/21/2004 11:59:22 PM | link | (0) comments

Thirteenth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/21/2004 12:19:03 AM | link | (0) comments

13th: in need of good fortune Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/21/2004 12:18:15 AM | link | (0) comments
Looking for luck on the 13th day:

Q: Are you always for the luckless underdog?
A: No! I’m for Kerry, after all! (Shades of ‘glass half full’ mentality.) But I only watch team spectator sports when the BoRSox play against the Yankees and make history.

Q: You watched a baseball game last night???
A: I multi-tasked. I also obsessed about the period of history: both my personal history and one that is more global in nature.

Q: Intrigue! What personal history?
A: This is not a personal blog. I require, at the minimum, one meal with someone before I plunge into some bungee-jump-type exposition of core values.

Q: Fair enough. And what from world events made you spin?
A: Darfur, of course. And also the person who holds way too many cards at the moment: the guy who said today in his campaign speech (referring this time to his opponent): “he can run but he can’t hide.” JStewart reminded us that this man of limited vocabulary and even more limited ideas used the same phrase to characterize bin Laden. Except he was wrong there. Bin Laden did, of course, both run and hide.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/21/2004 12:08:34 AM | link | (0) comments

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

What kind of evil? 

This from the November Progressive (Kate Clinton’s column here):

At kiosks and bus stops all over New York, there are posters for the movie Resident Evil: Apocalypse. And almost on every poster, someone has graffitied a very tasteful P at the beginning of the first word. That about sums up the election for me.

Tomorrow I’m off to New York for the week-end. I’ll look for the posters. I’ll also be curious what it is like to be in a state that is not swinging. How odd it will be to walk down the street and not have sweat trickle as I pass a Naderite (as I did this afternoon on Library Mall)! Or maybe I wont see Naderites? Are New Yorkers tracking their neighbors, like I am? Or are they complacent in the knowledge that their state will most certainly deliver the 31 electoral votes to Kerry? And since Cheney’s message all day yesterday was about the heightened possibility of a nuclear attack on America’s largest cities under Kerry’s leadership, has anyone wondered why New Yorkers have raised their eyebrows at this and responded by painting a few more “Ps” in front of Resident Evil?
posted by nina, 10/20/2004 05:04:46 PM | link | (0) comments

Fourteenth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/20/2004 08:22:51 AM | link | (0) comments

14th: wide open, lots going on... Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/20/2004 08:22:00 AM | link | (0) comments
In search of incongruity, irony, insanity:

The poet Allen Ginsberg died (in 1997) in a loft he had purchased on east 14th street. A bit of irony, possibly not lost on Ginsberg: the loft is nicely positioned above a corporate burger chain.

Ginsberg wrote the following poem in 1974, the year that Bush was attending Harvard Business School and Kerry was at Boston College Law School:

Who Runs America?

Oil millions of cars speeding the cracked plains

Oil from Texas, Bahrein, Venezuela Mexico
Oil that turns General Motors
revs up Ford
lights up General Electric, oil that crackles
thru International Business Machine computers,
charges dynamos for ITT
sparks Western Electric
runs thru Amer Telephone & Telegraph wires
Oil that flows thru Exxon New Jersey hoses,
rings in Mobil gas tank cranks, rumbles
Chrysler engines
shoots thru Texaco pipelines
blackens ocean from broken Gulf tankers
spills onto Santa Barbara beaches from
Standard of California derricks offshore.

Fourteen days to go...

While Kerry leads among women voters and the lead is growing (NYT today), he does not a command a strong lead among my lot! (married, suburban women over 50 – the category makes me wince, but I run an honest Ocean here)

Cheney delivered a speech in Ohio yesterday, proclaiming that the Democrats are distorting the facts when they say Bush is in favor of privatizing Social Security (recent speech made by GWB: “I’m going to come out strong after my swearing in, with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing of Social Security.”)

Members of Congress are urged to get the flu vaccine even if they are young and healthy. Why? Because they shake many hands… (WashPost)

Fourteen years ago, we have a “down on his luck a bit” guy who was "born again," but not yet focused on any job… he sits for a few years on the Caterair board (thanks, dad! I needed to do something!) where it is said of him “he didn’t add much value.. came to meetings.. told a lot of jokes, not that many clean ones…” and finally, a meeting with Karl Rove where the possibility of Bush as governor is discussed among family and friends. Six years later and we have us a new president! (NYTMag) Just as they said in my old country: in America, anyone can become president and the streets are paved with gold.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/20/2004 07:54:04 AM | link | (0) comments

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Fifteenth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/19/2004 06:53:04 AM | link | (0) comments

15th, and I'm not laughing Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/19/2004 06:52:00 AM | link | (0) comments
On this street, in Union Park, there is a statue of Gandhi. It is positioned here to symbolize nonviolent protest, inspiring those who often begin their protest in this corner of Manhattan.

I want to catch the next available flight to NY and stand on the corner of 15th and Broadway and carry my own sign, demonstrating my revulsion to the way politicians are assessed by the voting public.

The NYT polls this morning
(here) couldn’t be more telling:

Approval rating for Bush stands at 44% (one of the lowest of his tenure)
59% believe the country is heading in the wrong direction
59% believe GWB’s policies favor corporate interests (60 % said his policies benefited the rich and only 8% said they benefited the middle class; 65 % said that Kerry’s policies favored ‘ordinary Americans’)
Of those polled, more aligned themselves with Democrats than with Republicans
43% believed Social Security benefits would be available under Bush (61% saw them avaialble under Kerry)
A majority say that the war in Iraq is either a minor part, or no part at all of the war on terrorism (only 37% view it as a major part of a war on terrorism)

So, to awkwardly borrow a ‘favorite’ sports phrase, it’s a slam-dunk for Kerry, correct????

Why no. The two candidates are tied.

Why do so many voters refuse to throw in their vote behind Kerry? In the words of one level-headed citizen: “I don't trust Kerry a bit," said Robert Brorein, 74, a Republican who said he did not like Mr. Bush but could not bring himself to vote for Mr. Kerry. "I don't trust the way he talks. He doesn't give straight answers. He comes across as being slick. He's good with words, but I just don't believe him.”

Holy Hannah! Why do we waste our time teaching students to think, to be articulate, to draw arguments based on reason? Are leaders more credible if they flub and blunder their way to a response? Does anyone really think that Kerry secretly believes the opposite of what he says? What is the matter with the voting public??

Fifteen mornings before the election and I am in despair.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/19/2004 06:41:01 AM | link | (0) comments

Monday, October 18, 2004

For those who care about stars 

Tonight was the night: an all-important, unprecedented all-staff meeting took place at L’Etoile. Staff was supposed to throw a birthday bash for Chef O. They did not deliver. Chef O was supposed to spring a surprise on the staff. She delivered.

You must NOT spread the word. You, reader of Ocean, are in a privileged position. You know things that others do not know. Readers with blogs, do NOT link to this. It is just between me and the Ocean readership. In other words, top top secret, reserved for the small handful of the loyal Ocean trackers.

Chef O is going national. She is taking her message of sustainable dining (I do not know what else to call it – it is multifarious) to the world at large. Her ‘job’ at L’Etoile is nearing an end. Her ‘work’ as chef-ecologist is just beginning.

What does it mean for you, the diner? Well, she will no longer be the sole proprietor at L’Etoile. Others will take over the management of the retaurant. Some of us are working frantically to allow the current Chef de Cuisine, Tory, to slip into that role.

There will be changes at L’Etoile. There will be expansion and growth. There will be, with new management, more comfortable chairs to sit in. Construction will begin in winter. Investors and partners are now under review (if you have the bucks, now’s your chance!!). But after this year, L’Etoile will never be the same again. It will be bigger, grander, a flagship restaurant that will make Madisonians proud and will make Alice Waters quiver.

But it will not be the type of place where I could approach the chef-proprietor on the street one day (five years ago) and tell her that she needs to hire me as a line-cook. Future management would, I’m sure, frown on such behavior.

You want the rickety wooden chairs and the staff that voted Green rather than Gore 4 years ago (thanks, guys!)? Go now. In a short while, the food will be probably even better, the ambiance will be much improved, but it will not be the little star I knew it to be when I encountered it 25 years ago when I first moved to Madison and it was just three years old.
posted by nina, 10/18/2004 09:30:00 PM | link | (0) comments

It’s the snotty nose that’ll decide the race 

I went to lunch with a person who has been politically connected all her professional life. She knows where the winds are blowing. She’s been around. (She is even older than I am.)

We are walking back up Bascom Hill and I ask her: So, well-connected politically-knowledgeable person, what do think? Will Kerry do it? She tells me – the thing is, tight elections are the damnedest thing. I think Kerry may pull it off. You know why? Because of the flu vaccine! Bush was in charge, people are angry. How could this happen here, in America? He had no answer to give them. Kerry was wise during the debate and said nothing, then did his research and now is campaigning on what needs to happen in the future to ensure that we do not have a shortage again! I mean, I’m not getting my shot because I’m not in the “highest risk” category [nc: she is acc. to my charts, but what the hey], but I am going to be damn mad when November 2nd rolls around and I’m home with the flu! Oh come on, your mind was made up before the first campaign slogan was put forth – I retort (you might say that liberal is too gentle a term for her). Yeah – she says – but watch me with a fever and aches and pains at home! I am going to be REALLY mad!
posted by nina, 10/18/2004 01:19:58 PM | link | (0) comments

Sixteenth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/18/2004 06:29:11 AM | link | (0) comments

let the sun shine on the left side of the 16th! Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/18/2004 06:28:53 AM | link | (0) comments
In spite of the corporate nature of the photo (Mr. Chrysler just HAD to have the tallest building in NY – so much so, that he kept the top hidden and a secret until the very last minute, so that it would not be outdistanced and so that it would amaze. It did amaze, but shortly after, it was outdistanced anyway, by the Empire State Building), I have to go on the record and admit that which I am sure has not yet become apparent: I love the “L” word! [And it angers me to hear this contempt for it, as reported on the news last night: “GWB is swinging away at Kerry for being a liberal” and on CNN: “Kerry is losing ground now because of Bush’s successful use of the liberal label on the campaign trail.”]

And so now I just have to lay down my cards and say it like it is. When I hear the word “liberal,” my heart soars and flutters with happiness.

Thus on the sweet sixteenth day before the election, let me take this blog into places on 16th street that celebrate the Left.

There is, for instance, the block between fifth and sixth avenues. Here stands the home of Alexander Trachtenberg, an American Communist who was indicted for publishing subversive books and pamphlets; his defense committee included Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois. In general, this block was something of a “Lefty-Red” neighborhood in the 1940s and '50s.

In the next block you’ll find the New York City Free Clinic (run by NYU). I suppose this could be used as a model of health care delivery for the future. Who needs health insurance, let’s all just rely on the liberal lefties to jump in and do some direct servicing for the uninsured, the underinsured and the never-to-be-insured-under-the-GWB-next-4-years.

Then, we come to Union Square Park. The first Labor Day Parade took place here in the XIX century. Emma Goldman was arrested here in 1893 for telling the unemployed to steal bread. A funeral march was held here for the executed Rosenbergs the year I was born.

More? You want more? Corner of 16th and Irving houses the magazine the Nation, that leftie rag!

I could go on. Know where my heart is. With the “L” crowd and I am SO proud of it.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/18/2004 06:15:10 AM | link | (0) comments

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Minding my “Ps” 


I have to hand it to the NYTimes. The Magazine cover story today is the most thorough indictment of the Bush presidency I have read in a long time. Anyone with any commitment to reason over extremist faith-based leadership cannot read it and comfortably remain an advocate of GWB. What bothers me most is that this administration’s supporters, knowing what they know about Bush’s incompetence and unwillingness to base decisions on facts or reason are choosing to remain silent and to be in complicity with the president. Being a child of post-war Poland, I am too familiar with shrouds of silence – one that preceded the invasion of Poland on September 1st, 1939 comes to mind.


I have reason to believe that: 1.there will be more snow in Madison this year than we’ve had in a long time; 2. Althouse will not abandon Kerry-bashing in her blog before November 2nd (does she worry what fodder will feed the Instapundit links after the election? A Kerry win would, sadly, keep the doors open for continued commentary of the type we have been reading this past month); 3. The leaves in my yard will not get properly raked this fall; 4. L’Etoile will not be the L’Etoile we know and have grown accustomed to by year’s end. I will consider bets on any of the above, though interested parties and those who know me well are not permitted to play.


You know, I just get embarrassed for my countrymen and women when I read interviews such as the one with the Polish Foreign Minister (NYT Magazine today). Highlight: NYT: Have you been watching the televised debates between President Bush and Senator Kerry? Cimoszewicz: I will not comment on the present position of the leading contenders. [nc: an overwhelming majority of foreign leaders have endorsed Kerry; not Poland! Ever hopeful for that investment of American capital, can’t it recognize that even after blindly counting itself as part of the coalition of the damned willing, no such investment is forthcoming?] Any high points in that interview? And admission that more than 70% of Poles, lovers of all things American that they are, now strongly oppose Poland’s support for the American invasion of Iraq. Is Cimoszewicz a fan of life in this country? He likes Central Park, George Gershwin, and a real American steak – though 'once a year' is enough for him. I guess it could have been worse. He could have said he favored Dallas for vacations and preferred a visit to Crawford over a stroll through Central Park. The steak, I'm thinking, is a nod toward the Lone Star state.
posted by nina, 10/17/2004 10:59:18 AM | link | (0) comments

Seventeenth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/17/2004 09:35:31 AM | link | (0) comments

17th and Irving Place Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/17/2004 09:34:44 AM | link | (0) comments
Seventeen days.

Washington Irving: a lawyer, writer, traveler.

Washington Irving High School (at the corner of 17th and Irving Place): the school rated as the most dangerous in all of Manhattan (it was ranked this year as almost ten times as violent as the average New York City School – razor blade slashing, for instance, are common, as are high suspension rates – the highest in the city, and low attendance rates – not surprisingly, the lowest in the city).

Under the federal “No Child Left Behind” law, this school has been identified as “in need of improvement.” However, from what I have been reading, at Washington Irving, the only resource that has been thrown at the school is an increased number of police officers.
posted by nina, 10/17/2004 09:31:22 AM | link | (0) comments

on 17th: a school in trouble Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/17/2004 09:30:45 AM | link | (0) comments
In a moving endorsement of Kerry, the NYT editors write the following today:

We look back on the past four years with hearts nearly breaking, both for the lives unnecessarily lost and for the opportunities so casually wasted. Time and again, history invited George W. Bush to play a heroic role, and time and again he chose the wrong course. We believe that with John Kerry as president, the nation will do better.

How can it be that anyone would still believe otherwise?

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/17/2004 09:23:04 AM | link | (0) comments

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Market watch on a blustery day 

posted by nina, 10/16/2004 01:35:15 PM | link | (0) comments

the leaves are still now, but wait 'til the tempest passes through Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/16/2004 01:34:12 PM | link | (0) comments
The wind this morning was unbelievable! Not only was there an occasional sprinkle, but the gusts tore at the Market tents with such force that many sellers had to hold poles firmly in place or they’d be swept away with the tempest.

This, of course, did not keep me home. But it was discouraging to come to L'Etoile and find a note asking me to, on top of everything else, pick out some five varieties of apples, totaling to maybe 80 plus pounds. And it was discouraging to have Chef O be in such a peppy chatty mood as she joined me on one of my rounds. It took the two of us two hours to circle the Square (can one really circle a square? I’m getting dangerously close to making an orange an apple here). I finally abandoned her at a cheese stand. Clearly she’s operating with different heat moments than I am.

So how cold, dark and wet was it? Note the seller at Harmony Valley (photo below) warming her hands in the heat of the lamp – which itself is on so that customers can see the vegetables in the dark, early morning hours.

Working both sides of the fence

I am not now, never have been, nor will ever be part of the management team at L’Etoile. But right now, neither am I exactly wage labor. It’s more like I’m a contracted service provider. And so I get to tune in to stories from both ends: from labor and from the boss. And like the true two-faced person that I am, I am openly sympathetic to both.

I am also sometimes the keeper of secrets for both. For instance, today, I asked Chef O how her day had gone yesterday (it had been her birthday – she is exactly half a year older than I am). Terrible! She tells me. She had bounced in for the staff meal, excited and ready for some tiny celebration on her behalf and there was…none. It kind of broke her heart. [People: you need to start taking the birthdays of others seriously. Presents, cards, the whole works. And never, ever take seriously such statements as “oh, don’t bother doing anything for me.” Nobody means that. Ever.]

Plagued by guilt and pity I went out and found the biggest bouquet I could get at the Market and passed it on to her. One day late, but what can you do.

However, in chatting to ‘labor,’ I found out that in reality, a bash is in the works for her, scheduled for our staff meeting this coming Monday evening. Of course, I can’t tell Chef O that.

Conversely, I cannot tell ‘labor’ that management has a stunning announcement to make on that day. While everyone is busy busy readying the place for a celebration, management is busy busy with its own little surprise.

So here I am, anticipating a tempest and a celebration. How will it all end? Tune in Monday evening. My lips are sealed until then (to my knowledge, no one from L’Etoile tracks this blog; but I am taking no chances).
posted by nina, 10/16/2004 01:28:26 PM | link | (0) comments

this morning, even wooly mittens didn't keep the cold out Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/16/2004 01:27:22 PM | link | (0) comments

This may well be the last bouquet I bring home this year Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/16/2004 01:24:53 PM | link | (0) comments

Eighteenth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/16/2004 04:37:51 AM | link | (0) comments

an 18th street story Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/16/2004 04:36:23 AM | link | (0) comments
Eighteen days...

At the corner of 18th and Irving Place you can find Pete’s Tavern, the oldest continuously operating tavern in New York. (During the Prohibition it disguised itself as a flower shop.) Sometimes called O’Henry’s place (he frequented it as the turn of the century), it is indeed a landmark. Even though the original Pete (Pete Belles) did not want to be famous back in 1864 when he opened the place. He just wanted his own tavern.

Tick tock, tick tock, 127 years later, Ruth MacLeod is at the Tavern. It is a nice summer evening and tables are set outdoors, inside a guard-rail. Ruth is there, so is a group of waiters and customers. She needs to pass through, but the waiters are chatting up the customers and so she needs to step around them, outside the guard rail. There is an indentation in the sidewalk. She stumbles and falls (Torts class! An open and shut slip & fall case??). She sues Pete’s. The issue becomes whether the tavern's duty of care extends beyond the guardrail.

On appeal, the court said no and the complaint against Pete’s Tavern was dismissed. (Properly, don’t you think?)

Compare and contrast:

Tick tock, tick tock, a year later (in that most publicized of cases, so think about it, this is the most debatable jury award), 79 year-old Stella Liebeck sustains 3rd degree burns, requiring hospitalization and skin grafts, after she spills coffee purchased at McDonald’s. Does McDonald’s know the coffee is too hot to serve or drink? Yes, having had 700 recorded severe burns in the decade prior to this case, they knew. Were they willing to reduce the temperature (that was held at nearly 50 degrees above the industry standard)? No, that would have reduced the optimal brewing capacity of every last grind. What would get them to reconsider? A large punitive damages award (large in a manner of speaking; the jury award, reduced considerably afterwards, was equal to two days’ worth of coffee sales for the chain), shifting the cost-benefit calculus, so that it no longer paid for them to serve dangerously hot beverages. Was Stella thinking of lawsuits as her son pulled out of the drive-up the day she opened the cup to put in the cream and sugar?
No, she just wanted a cup of coffee.

Litigation, regulation… I heard GWB last night speak to a crowd in Wisconsin about the dangers of both. About the need to free companies of regulatory restrictions and free each and every one of us from frivolous litigation. I wonder what the hell he was talking about?

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/16/2004 04:20:37 AM | link | (0) comments

Friday, October 15, 2004

A cautionary tale about ham 

I want to give a deferential nod to the power of lobbying efforts. You always imagine that in the higher echelons of the legislature, reason will prevail and no lobbyist will be able to convince a decision-maker that an apple is really an orange. But we should heed the lessons coming to us from Italy. Because there, it has been officially proclaimed that prosciutto (or for that matter its variations: prosciutto cotto (cooked) and crudo (raw), coppa, cotechino, guanciale, lardo, lonza, mortadella, pancetta, porchetta, salsiccia, salumi, spalla and speck) does not belong to the meat group. It stands alone, it is a category in its own right, it is a protected local product, enthusiastically handed to vegetarians requesting a meatless dish. (Read about it in the International Herald Tribune, here.)

If the Italians can convince each other that Parma ham is not a meat, then I fear we are nanoseconds (JK rules in his choice of words!) away from allowing ourselves to be convinced that GWB is indeed a steward of the land. The world is becoming a very complicated place indeed.
posted by nina, 10/15/2004 12:52:57 PM | link | (0) comments

Nineteenth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/15/2004 08:29:11 AM | link | (0) comments

19th and Broadway Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/15/2004 08:27:09 AM | link | (0) comments
Listening to the news today, nineteen mornings before we hit the voting booths, I was dumbfounded to hear the Republican desperation as they cling still to an “L” theme (choice for today: Lesbian). I thought I myself had beaten the “L” issue to death in my most recent post. Indeed, GWB’s team is abandoning Love for Laura as, in spite of her strength as a woman, she appears not to be a strong enough ace in the deck to knock the wind out of the Kerry kitesurf as he stunningly careens his way to the lead after the last debate. Thus the search continues for an “L” replacement and for now, as panic sets in (you ‘lost’ three debates in a row, how could you lose three debates in a row??), the crazed desire to change the post-debate spin is ON!

Nineteen days and I am reminded of the lyrics to a Stones song. Were they anticipating this moment in time when indeed, the GWB campaign would lose it?

When you were a child
You were treated kind
But you were never brought up right.
You were always spoiled with a thousand toys

You better stop

Look around
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown!

And what’s with the Fishs Eddy banner in the photo above? It’s a delightful store on 19th street (named after a small flyfishing town in the Catskills), selling American-made china, often salvaged from ocean liners, restaurants, or airlines, sometimes creatively designed just for today’s quirky buyer. They have an interesting home page on their website. Seemingly bi-partisan (but not really if you read it carefully -- and I apologize, I have yet to figure out how to phtograph a computer screen with a sharper resolution), they do indeed get their message across, in big bold orange blocks (lost in the photo is the line right below which reads Election Day is Tuesday November 2, 2004. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!):

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/15/2004 08:19:50 AM | link | (0) comments they want your sale, they also want you to vote Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/15/2004 08:18:23 AM | link | (0) comments

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Twentieth-street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/14/2004 04:33:32 PM | link | (0) comments

20th: the way of TR Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/14/2004 04:32:44 PM | link | (0) comments
Twenty days…


What would have been the Theodore Roosevelt Way to approach a debate? Certainly with a great command of the facts, a tremendous concern for the environment, for social justice, women’s rights, corporate responsibility and a call to end American isolationism abroad.

Familiar themes, aren’t they? Reading a biography of TR is enlightening. The 26th president’s interests and talents were stunningly multifarious. How can I be so presumptuous as to suggest that we overlap in some way? Oh, but there is indeed an area: it is said of him that he had a love of keeping connected to his friends and contacts through writing letters. Indeed, he appeared to have written well over 150,000 letters in his lifetime. Had he email, I’m sure the number would have been ten times that.

The “L” letter

Last night, 9 people came together (here) to listen carefully for the dreaded “L” word. It was announced prior to the debate that the evening would be one monstrous “L” attack as well as a defense of “L”-ness.

But in signaling this, the newscaster forgot to provide specifics. What “L” theme would be foisted on us, causing anarchy and chaos, moving us away from the “march to freedom?” [Thank you to the person last night who did a reenactment for me just to illustrate how that march might look. It was a militaristic moment.]

A stipulation for the evening: no drinking games (but it was so tempting, so tempting, especially when one heard such cunning lines as “I sent my budget man…”). One had to be alert to catch the moment went “L” would LEAP from the podium.

And so what happened? Did we miss it? Because, although there were a lot of “L” words floating around, no devastating punch was levied against the “Lleaning candidate. And which of the various "Ls" was the intended coup de grace? I’m running down my list of “L” candidates from last night: Was it Litmus test? Or Left? Or Left behind? Or Lesbian? Was it Legal reform and Litigation (said in one sentence, sort of like a punch and then a follow-up kick)? Or Lawsuit and Liability reform (also in one sentence; clearly GWB is tuned to the legal system)? You know, I bet it was Love. Because the press seems to believe that the crowning moment of glory for Bush (of all three debates) came when he spoke of his wife, Laura. Laura, hey that is IT! The intended punch at Kerry who has no Laura in his life! A good reason not to vote for him? You bet! Every presidnet needs a Laura to Love in order to do well in the White House! Love my wife Laura – 2 “Ls,” delivering the cataclysmic blow to Kerry who, struggling to survive, had to come up with Love for Mom. Not quite up there with Laura, but close enough in alphabet. Teresa is too far down the letter line-up. [And thank you, Mr. Schieffer, for coming up with the stupidest final Q of the debates.]

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

a photo of Rosemary Forbes Kerry:

posted by nina, 10/14/2004 04:07:54 PM | link | (0) comments

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Yet another post that demonstrates my commitment to both sides of the political spectrum  

I want to show my open-mindedness. I want to understand those who are deeply, passionately committed to the current president. And so (with guidance from my neighbor –thanks!) I went to the hometown of our folksy man to read about the support offered to him by the locals.

I was disappointed.

Instead of a yipee-tayay-yey (is that what they shout in a small town in Texas?) in support of their local hero, GWB’s hometown paper has just announced that it is leaving George behind.

Here are excerpts from an editorial appearing in the Lone Star Iconoclast (the newspaper from Crawford, Texas):

The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda.Today, we are endorsing his opponent, John Kerry, based not only on the things that Bush has delivered, but also on the vision of a return to normality that Kerry says our country needs.…

We believed [Bush], just as we believed it when he reported that Iraq was the heart of terrorism. We trusted him.The Iconoclast, the President’s hometown newspaper, took Bush on his word and editorialized in favor of the invasion. The newspaper’s publisher promoted Bush and the invasion of Iraq to Londoners in a BBC interview during the time that the administration was wooing the support of Prime Minister Tony Blair.Again, he let us down.

That’s why The Iconoclast urges Texans not to rate the candidate by his hometown or even his political party, but instead by where he intends to take the country. The Iconoclast wholeheartedly endorses John Kerry.

True, the paper has a weekly circulation of 425 and perhaps it has been infiltrated by communists and pacifists in the last four years. In any case, my search for a better understanding of the GWB’s fan base continues. Crawford, Texas did not deliver.
posted by nina, 10/13/2004 03:54:12 PM | link | (0) comments

Twenty-first street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/13/2004 10:23:12 AM | link | (0) comments

dark sign, dark thoughts on 21st Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/13/2004 10:21:24 AM | link | (0) comments
The very first offices of The New Republic were housed in buildings on the far west side of 21st street. Virginia Woolf once wrote for the New Republic (see VW post below; the intricate connections between events, people, circumstances are amazing).

Reading the editorial of TNR today, 21 days before the election, will put you right in the middle of where we, indeed ought to be: Darfur. As the editors points out (here), it is the one place where even a very small dose of “American might” can make a significant difference in stabilization efforts. It is an opportunity that the current administration refuses to take and one that Kerry is willing to consider. In the words of TNR:

[B]y hammering home this message [of a willingness to send stabilizing troops], Kerry would show how absent Bush has been. After all, it is Bush, not Kerry, who is now presiding over 6,000 to 10,000 Darfurian deaths each month. It is up to Bush, as president, to stop the genocide.

Tonight is, of course, the night of the last debate and Darfur will not be on the agenda. And in any case, few of those who are still undecided would consider the Darfur issue as crucial, even though what happens here on November 2nd will determine the fate of thousands in Sudan. It is frightening to give such power to a voter who can’t even point to Sudan on a global map let alone comprehend the importance of providing support to the region.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/13/2004 10:10:30 AM | link | (0) comments

Tuesday vignettes 


A friend just told me that she’d met a Polish couple in my neighborhood. Polish? Here? Yes, yes, she said – she spent time with them at the Polish Film Festival last year. I asked her how she liked the films. She hesitated, then admitted that they were kind of weird. A lot of animation, crazy stuff, squiggly lines – it made her dizzy so that she had to leave. And the Polish couple? Well – she answered – they were really into it. But they said you had to be Polish to understand it. Polish people have a certain way of looking at themselves that is really different. Most people can’t understand it; they kept saying – you had to be Polish to get it. I get it.

Cuban cigars

Another friend offered me a Cuban cigar. Did you smoke it? You hate smoking, smokers, smoke. You smoked it, didn’t you? Vices in small doses, if they hurt no one, can be very satisfying. Was it satisfying? No. And I can’t get the damn taste out of my mouth. I should have known better. I hate smoke, smoking, smoke-related anything, with the exception, perhaps, of smoked salmon. Never again.

Chinese tea, e-mail and Virginia Woolf

In a more virtuous vein, my walking buddy (I hereby gratefully acknowledge all three of you –K,K and S- for your indulgence of my walking addiction) brewed for me a pot of tea. She has recently traveled to China and she has with her a supply of tea leaves that I’m sure rivals in size the raked pile of fallen leaves outside my window. We sipped tea and talked about banes and vices. What’s yours, she asks. Email, I say without hesitation. I am a compulsive email-answerer. You send it, I answer. In fact, I’ll answer before you even send it. Colleagues will send a Q and bingo! There‘s a reply. You’d think that this would be regarded favorably? Oh no, it places the ball in their park again so instead of feeling deep satisfaction at having crossed off an item from their list, the item is right back on there. My friend kindly suggested that the compulsion is driven by a writer’s temperament. The medium is an odd weapon for people who feel compelled to formulate sentences and stories every waking hour of the day. Imagine the odd behaviors, she said, that would follow, if you placed email in the hands of Virginia Woolf.

I suppose I agree. And how much worse it would be to receive brilliance in your Inbox rather than the trite stuff I place there! Consider this exert from a Woolf essay where she contemplates writing (though in truth, we are in the dark what meaning lies behind these words, because Woolf can be painfully difficult to comprehend; here, you can almost believe that she is writing about email!) and imagine the strain of finding such words in your Inbox were she your acquaintance (emphases are my own):

Is it not possible that the accent falls a little differently, that the moment of importance came before or after, that, if one were free and could set down what one chose, there would be no plot, little probability, and a vague general confusion in which the clear-cut features of the tragic, the comic, the passionate and the lyrical were dissolved beyond the possibility of separate recognition? The mind, exposed to the ordinary course of life, receives upon its surface a myriad impressions—trivial, fantastic, evanescent, or engraved with the sharpness of steel. From all sides they come, an incessant shower of innumerable atoms, composing in their sum what we might venture to call life itself; and to figure further as the semi-transparent envelope, or luminous halo, surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.
posted by nina, 10/13/2004 07:29:57 AM | link | (0) comments

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Twenty-second street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/12/2004 09:45:59 AM | link | (0) comments

22nd: in search of color: grey, brown, and bleak... though wait, isn't there an aqua paperclip hovering in the background? Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/12/2004 09:42:29 AM | link | (0) comments
There is a mist this morning that makes the outdoors look like a muted painting. Were I an artist, I could do a lot with the colors and tones right now.

This morning the Washington Post describes (here) the different level of enthusiasm demonstrated by crowds during campaign stops. Bush supporters are likened to fans at a rock concert. They are wildly enthusiastic about their candidate. True, they are heavily screened – only contributors and volunteers and registered supporters are given tickets.

In Kerry-land, crowds are divided 50 – 50 between support for their candidate and hatred of Bush. Reactions to Kerry’s fact-based speeches are more subdued, polite almost.

What consistently draws the biggest, wildest cheers for Bush? His relentlessly repeated message of putting a cap on jury awards and opposition to gay marriage!

Reading this almost drains the color from the day. We have a new cult figure – with weeping women standing in the rain, holding hand-made signs with Biblical messages scribbled across, waving them fanatically, screaming love for the president. They are 100% behind their man, they say. It’s not against Kerry or his policies or any of that – it’s all about their folksy hero, GW.

If this sounds like a bleak assessment of what inspires so many of the voters, only 22 days before the election, no less, let me end with a note of color. My neighbor, ever the optimist, is convinced that Kerry is now firmly in the lead. He has deconstructed the ABC poll (which has Kerry trailing slightly) and remains convinced that it is not representative of American public opinion. I’ll accept that for now. I’m willing to look for that burst of color in a monochromatic landscape. Hey, look below – it’s a photo from 22nd street in NY, followed by a photo taken this morning of freshly-cut flowers from my back yard. That’s right, in October, blooming roses and lavender and honeysuckle. I’m not averting my eyes to the signs of color, I’m not. [It would help if I don’t read things like “Passions runs high for GWB” or “Bush's speeches and their settings are largely emotional celebrations of conservatism” first thing in the morning.]

Time to make another contribution to the campaign I think. I’m hoping that others are doing the same.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/12/2004 09:32:35 AM | link | (0) comments

the fire-escape balcony of a hopeful soul Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/12/2004 09:30:33 AM | link | (0) comments

freshly cut this morning, from the back yard Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/12/2004 09:27:48 AM | link | (0) comments

Monday, October 11, 2004

Five-day report 

As I mentioned in a previous post, last week in a fit of despair and irrational decision-making, I signed on to extended cable.

Since I post such lofty statements as “I think everyone should be self-critical and willing to change” or some such nonsense (realizing that no one is REALLY self-critical, let alone willing to change), I decided to scientifically evaluate the sanity of this decision. First, the daily scorecard on my TV watching now that I have some 80-plus channels to choose from (the plus refers to a movie option that I took but do not understand at all at, AT ALL! Except that it bought some free box into my home where now I can start movies –what movies??? From where???? – on demand):

Thursday (the day of cable installation): 0 minutes of TV viewing
Friday: The debate (perhaps 2 hrs?) on NBC (available without cable)
Saturday: 0 minutes of TV viewing
Sunday: 15 minutes of “60 Minutes” on CBS (available without cable)
Monday: 5 minutes of news at 7 a.m. on NBC (available without cable) and 20 minutes of the MacNeil/Lehrer Report (available without cable).

Am I ready to admit to complete stupidity and lack of self-awareness? No, of course not (remember: no one is REALLY self-critical). We’re dealing with unique circumstances, that’s all. [Yes, yes, I know; that’s what they all say…]
posted by nina, 10/11/2004 06:43:47 PM | link | (0) comments

Another post that demonstrates my commitment to both sides of the political spectrum  

[Q: GWB, a steward? Yes!]

However President Bush may choose to characterize himself (and there have been very interesting such characterizations), I never would have thought that he would pick this one: “steward of the land.” Because the word “steward” doesn’t fit with GWB-speak. Nor does "of the land." It’s as if Kerry suddenly said next Wednesday “I feel your pain, sister!” Clinton? Maybe, but not Kerry. So, too, the steward of the land thing seemed to me to be a Bush aberration.

Where did he come up with it? When was it first suggested that stewardship, land and George are like peas in a pod? After poking around a bit, I found that, lo and behold, lots of people HAVE been linking stewardship with the environment and GWB and this has been evidently taking place since the days of his governorship. We hear it from advocate types as well as within the corporate sector. So I was wrong: Bush is merely quoting others who have indeed used the phrase in conjunction with this administration. I’ll include a few samples, in case you don’t believe me (in chronological order; I've highlighted the appropriate words in case you're in a hurry and just want to get to the proof).

(from Iowa Press, questioning GWB’s record as Governor, Dec. 1999)
[IP]: You're being criticized for your handling of the environment in Texas. Specifically, people are saying that the Texas environment is a polluted one and that you've not been a good steward of the environment. How do you respond to that?
[GWB]: ...I don't believe we can sue or regulate our way to clean air and clean water.

(from ABC News, May 2001)
Mr. Bush went to Sequoia National Forest in California today to say that he is and he will be a good steward of the environment. ... But environmentalists are skeptical of Mr. Bush, even when he is trying to please them. The National Parks Association today gave him a barely passing grade, D.

(from ChevronTexaco home page, Aug. 2003)
President George W. Bush has announced his intention to appoint Lydia I. Beebe, corporate secretary of ChevronTexaco, to the Presidio Trust board of directors. The board is charged with preserving the Presidio’s [in SF] natural, cultural, scenic and recreational resources...
"I’m honored to be appointed to the Presidio Trust board of directors,” said Beebe. “The appointment allows me to put into practice the values we adhere to at ChevronTexaco of being a good steward of the environment and a constructive partner in areas where we live and work."

(from the Center for American Progress, Feb 2004)
Three years into the current administration, the trend in environmental regulation is sledgehammer clear: this administration is the worst steward of the environment ever. So bad is the record, so long the list of environmental depredations, that it is difficult to pick the worst.

What did I say? Peas in a pod. With ChevronTexaco, too.
posted by nina, 10/11/2004 04:35:00 PM | link | (0) comments

Twenty-third street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/11/2004 06:27:14 AM | link | (0) comments

Seward, sitting at the junction of the avenues at 23rd, thinking, perhaps, which way do I go now? Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/11/2004 06:25:47 AM | link | (0) comments

the intersection of the avenues at 23rd: you head to the Left or to the Right Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/11/2004 06:23:32 AM | link | (0) comments
It’s still very dark outside. On the twenty-third sunrise, we’ll wake up to an election morning. Do they have twenty-three day forecasts? They have ten day forecasts, how accurate are those? [I’m thinking of the weather which has been stunningly beautiful in Madison – perfect for walking and ruminating.]

The interesting thing about William Seward (pictured in the photo above) is that he ‘flip-flopped’ (to use a popular phrase) in his political positions over time. What does that mean in terms of a governor who later became Secretary of State for Lincoln? It means that his more radical views (focusing on abolishing slavery, promoting prison reform and providing education for immigrants) appeared to calm down over the decades, so that toward the end of his career he was more interested in the protection of national unity than of individual rights (at least that is how I read his life, admittedly based on limited information; but then we always interpret the views of others based on limited information).

People change. Yet, it is interesting to note how history remembers them and it turns out it is never for the act of change but for the direction and reasons behind it. It’s true in politics, it’s true in everyday life.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/11/2004 06:12:59 AM | link | (0) comments

Sunday, October 10, 2004

I am a weak, weak person 

In years back, I used to get the Wisconsin State Journal delivered to my house. Why? Well, when you are an integral part of a community – striving to achieve utmost familiarity with its schools and governing officials – you want to keep up with local news. But not too long ago there was a headline that was so repulsive and repugnant to my sensibilities that I called the paper and said ENOUGH! I then switched to the afternoon Capital Times, Madison’s “progressive” newspaper.

That was alright so long as there was the stable and static schedule of work -> home -> prepare dinner and read paper -> eat dinner and talk about what’s in the paper. This year is quite different in terms of schedules. No one is reading the paper as I am preparing the dinner. In fact, oftentimes I prepare the dinner at odd hours and in odd ways, seemingly inconsistent with the stability described above.

And so, I have stacks of rolled up Cap Times, never opened, never read.

Why don’t I cancel my subscription????

Here’s why. I sit each late afternoon, working away at my computer and I watch the guy as he drops off the paper. No one else on our block subscribes to it and so I watch him drive right up, get out of his car, walk up to the door (YES! Unlike during the times of the Wis St J, this guy actually brings it to the door!) and place it gingerly in a perfect place there.

At Christmastime, he sends a card telling me about his children and grandchildren. He is retired. He actually lives in the neighborhood and he appears to have many grandchildren. I think that with my Christmas bonus he must be buying a toy for one of them. He seems the type to favor fire engines and Barbie dolls. From that walk up my stairs, I can tell (no, really!) that he is sweet and devoted.

And so I do not cancel the paper because of him. I can imagine his disappointment and his introspective Qs were I to cancel – was it something about me???? All sensitive souls, when hit with a series of blows, wonder if it is about them.

I couldn’t do it. And so I just pick up the stack of unread papers every few days and pass them on to the environmental truck that comes on Wednesdays. Could it be otherwise?

posted by nina, 10/10/2004 09:03:09 PM | link | (0) comments

A post that demonstrates my commitment to both sides of the political spectrum 

[Or: what did Kerry forget?]

Thanks to my student, who understands the importance of my Polishness. He e-mailed me the link to the website . Out of respect to this Ocean blogger’s Polska pride, do click on and scroll all the way to the bottom – there are a number of interesting ways in which the candidates can give proper deference to the country that gave the US its full support. Sort of. Because Poland is now, in a moment of delayed reaction, pulling out of Iraq. [Yes, one can properly debate whether it was more appropriate to send troops then, or to keep them there now.]
posted by nina, 10/10/2004 05:06:54 PM | link | (0) comments

Twenty-fourth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/10/2004 10:14:36 AM | link | (0) comments

24th: which way now? note they both point to the left Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/10/2004 10:13:27 AM | link | (0) comments
These beetles (peaking yesterday in number – at least I hope they peaked) are evil! Anyone living in Madison knows what I am referring to. They are pernicious bugs that, to the innocent eye look like ladybugs. But they bite. It is the ultimate irony that this friendly orange little thing should in reality be a poseur, out to do you in if you even slightly step in its path.

Yesterday morning I read (and linked to) Rothschild’s comment in the on-line Progressive on the presidential debate. In the evening I encountered him at the Wisconsin Book Festival, introducing one of the novelists. At the Orpheum stage, he made no reference to his earlier debate recap. But a subsequent author who spoke (and read a work in progress – a fantastic short story!), Jeffrey Eugenides (yes, of Middlesex and Virgin Suicides fame) did make a few remarks. He told the audience that he and his wife have just moved to Chicago and have yet to install their TV and so they have been listening to the debates on the radio. He told us “Yes, it is possible to hear on the radio Bush making faces; call it a sort of ‘vocal grimace.’

I like Kerry’s tie that is on the front cover of the NYT Magazine. Here’s the thing (warning: I am about to brag shamelessly; modesty just went out the window with the last nasty little beetle): I had a reputation once for picking exquisite, extraordinary ties. The pressure to do even better each time was so tremendous that I would often spend hours upon hours on this project. I distinctly recall having once a 24 hour lay-over in Paris and devoting the BETTER PART of that time to a search for the perfect tie. I remember seeing one on a gentleman who was sitting and sipping an aperitif at a sidewalk café and wondering how whorish it would be to engage him in a conversation for a while, eventually offering payment (I mean of a monetary nature!) for the piece of silk loosely tied around his neck. I don’t remember than man’s face. I remember the tie.

Matthew Rothschild wore a tie last night and it struck me as having a strikingly conservative design. It always throws you when there is an inconsistency between the man’s persona and his tie.

Kerry’s tie (in case you don’t have the Magazine in front of you and you may well be without it because for some reason I got several in my NYT packet this morning) has fish swimming in one direction. [To the LEFT, of course -- like the arrows by the 24th street sign -- it’s a very subtle message and some may accuse me of reading too much into it, but I know I’m right. I mean correct.] Thus at the knot, the fish are necessarily pointing downward, toward the left-leaning fish, giving an overall appearance of a synchronized water-ballet of fish—sort of like an opening day performance at the Olympics, where thousands of local children go out and wave their flags and colorful banners en masse.

I mention this because we only have two dozen days before the election. We are down to basics now. A tie tells me a lot about a person. Based on that cover photo alone, Kerry’s got my vote.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/10/2004 10:02:24 AM | link | (0) comments

Encountering brilliance 

The novelist, Richard Bausch said this last night (at the Wisconsin Book Festival: thank you so much for taking me to it):
So this writer goes up to his cabin in Minnesota to sequester himself, to make some progress on his writing and the first week he’s there, he sees that the plumbing isn’t working. His toilet is completely backed up and overflowing in the way that country cesspools and toilets sometimes get, causing regurgitation and spillage of the contents onto the bathroom floor. And so he is forced to call a plumber to fix this. The plumber, wading virtually ankle-deep through the stuff that is now flowing freely from the toilet, is working diligently to put a stop to it. In the meantime he asks the man in the cabin “so, you’re the guy who’s a writer from Minneapolis?” Yes, the writer fellow answers. The plumber grunts in wonderment and says “I don’t know how you folks can do that kind of work!”

I am glad that writers, bloggers too, have, at the least, the admiration of plumbers.

I spoke to Bausch briefly after the reading, in the nervous way that one does when talking to one’s heroes and gods and of course he could tell by the buckets of sweat that were dripping down my forehead that I was an aspiring, errrr, plumber (or something). And so, like probably for the millions that come to his signing table, shyly, with goose-bumps and some asinine two or three chatty lines that they took forever to think of, he wrote this:
posted by nina, 10/10/2004 08:34:16 AM | link | (0) comments

some heroes are priceless Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/10/2004 08:33:11 AM | link | (0) comments
One needs heroes and muses in the forefront, friends and family perhaps, in the background, lots of solitude and lots of peace of mind to move forward with writing projects. After all, even the Minnesota writer first sought to have his cesspool fixed before he could sit down and get started. For me, listening to Bausch read last night was better than calling a local plumber.

The man’s a genius of a writer.

posted by nina, 10/10/2004 08:24:55 AM | link | (0) comments

Saturday, October 09, 2004

By the light of the moon 

Sometimes I wake up on a Saturday morning and think – the last thing I want to do now is go to the Market and buy foods for l’Etoile. It has nothing to do with being tired. One is always tired at 5 in the morning, especially when it is still so dark outside. It’s being weighed down with a week’s worth of issues that cause me sometimes to wonder – why am I doing this? I’d rather be in Paris. Or at least not outside, driving downtown before the city traffic lights are turned back on.

But there is always special compensation in doing something that you do not necessarily feel like doing.

Today, I had a load of good thoughts, too, best articulated in the article by the Progressive’s Matthew Rothschild, reflecting on last night's debate (thank you, neighbor, for the forward). And so, as I pulled up by the Square, I had this internal smile thing going. And, walking around in this different light, I remembered (cautionary note: a cliché is coming, but it’s true) how terrific it is to sometimes do the unusual, the thing that doesn’t automatically seem pleasing or natural. The rewards are tenfold greater than staying glued to your own backyard.

A few photos with the unusual, exotic almost, light of the pre-dusk hours and a few quotes (all in the glow of purple) from Rothschild:

[T]he environment came up and Bush could barely string together a defense, fumbling to come up with an answer about what his Administration has done to improve the environment. Here was his first stab: "Off-road diesel engines, we reached an agreement to reduce pollution from off-road diesel engines by 90 percent.”

posted by nina, 10/09/2004 01:56:23 PM | link | (0) comments

In the night light: the sweetness of Ambrosia chocolate inside Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/09/2004 01:55:24 PM | link | (0) comments
Kerry stood his ground and actually has turned the Republicans' smear campaign to his advantage. They have so caricatured him and so lampooned him that when the American people get to see Kerry in person, he comes off surprisingly well. He is smart, knowledgeable, prepared, calm, and forceful.

posted by nina, 10/09/2004 01:54:57 PM | link | (0) comments

chocolate and cherry, with the glow of fresh glaze Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/09/2004 01:53:46 PM | link | (0) comments
"I'm going to spend what it takes to win the war, more than just $120 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan." When Bush used the word "just" before the figure $120 billion, I saw the eyebrows of America bobbing, as Bush appeared intent on mortgaging the nation for his crusade.

posted by nina, 10/09/2004 01:52:28 PM | link | (0) comments

an eerily correct label Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/09/2004 01:51:53 PM | link | (0) comments
But then Kerry gave one of the best defenses of abortion rights I've ever heard a Presidential candidate make. He said he voted against the so-called Partial Birth ban because it did not have an exception for the life of the mother. And he said he voted against the parental notification law because it would force a sixteen-year-old girl who is raped by her father to have to get that same father's permission for the abortion.
Bush had no comeback on this and looked fanatical on the subject.

posted by nina, 10/09/2004 01:50:34 PM | link | (0) comments

red, white and what's the third? Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/09/2004 01:49:43 PM | link | (0) comments
The longer George Bush stands on a stage with John Kerry, the better John Kerry looks.
One more debate, and Bush will be toast.

posted by nina, 10/09/2004 01:45:51 PM | link | (0) comments

Twenty-fifth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/09/2004 05:02:57 AM | link | (0) comments

25th is looking so nice! Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/09/2004 05:01:50 AM | link | (0) comments
It is before dawn. I am about to go to do my forager duties for L’E at the Market. Yet all I can think of is last night. True, I spent the evening with a biased group. But oh my! It was wonderful to watch the debate with a group that wanted to see it as it may appear to the undecided, yet couldn’t really make that final leap, because it was just too dishy to see the favorable-toward-the-Democrats outcome! Kerry held on to his momentum. Is there anything else that is important?

Bottom line: we toasted every time a blooper was made by GWB (substantive, grammatical, whatever). I just want to say that I am Polish and therefore I always stock way too much food and too much wine for any social occasion. But tonight, even though guests brought extra bottles, I ran out of wine. [Of course, one could have drained a bottle on the Dred Scott moment alone! Wow! This will have to go down in history as a debate moment-to-be-cherished.]

P.S. You may walk a block every day, back and forth, back and forth, and you may feel that it harbors no one who thinks and lives as you do. Most likely, you will be wrong. I have to admit it because I am SO MUCH IN FAVOR OF PEOPLE ADMITTING THEIR MISTAKES: I was wrong about his little corner of the suburbs. It has people who worry about why, on a bright day, there are no children playing out on the street together, or grown ups exchanging stories from the day. It has people like me.

Let me conclude with a sign that I found perched over the door of a graphics design agency on 25th street.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post)
posted by nina, 10/09/2004 04:55:35 AM | link | (0) comments

On 25th street, a "yard sign." Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/09/2004 04:54:26 AM | link | (0) comments

Friday, October 08, 2004

A calming device 

Last week, the Department of Transportation installed an island at the bottom of my street, where it intersects with a somewhat larger street. It left instructions on how you may navigate it. Would you believe it, if you’re turning left, you can go either of two ways:
posted by nina, 10/08/2004 04:36:07 PM | link | (0) comments

street scene Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/08/2004 04:32:27 PM | link | (0) comments
(No, it's not your vision; it's a failed attempt to upload a Paint document followed by a hastily photographed sketch.)

Now, we are told that this is to calm speeders on our more major street (Yellowstone). It, indeed, is called a calming device.

And you may think yourself to be so smart in putting in place little calming numbers. Yeah! I’m going to calm things down around here! --you proclaim. What you don’t count on is that one person’s yoga position is another’s twisted-muscle-contorting, pain-inducing body maneuver.

It appears that my neighborhood is HOPPIN’ MAD! The Department of Transportation has received angry phone messages and emails saying that they want that thing OUTTA HERE NOW OR ELSE!

I’m sure they have their reasons. I got a notice in the mail today that there is going to be a town hall-like shouting match next week. I wont go. I’m just sittin’ in my little corner contemplating how many different ways you can get yourself in trouble with calming devices, especially if you turn left without circumnavigating the little oasis. So far, I’ve counted 6 possible head-on collisions and two side swaps.

But I’m actually getting to be pretty calm about it. Just another hurdle in life to get through, that’s all. I’ll survive.
posted by nina, 10/08/2004 04:24:26 PM | link | (0) comments

Twenty-sixth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/08/2004 10:20:12 AM | link | (0) comments

26th and the tall green trees of Madison Square Park Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/08/2004 10:19:18 AM | link | (0) comments
The word of this twenty-sixth day: HOPE! On all fronts. Let me list several:

+ Last night, twenty six of us (23 students, 2 spouses, myself) sat around a table at Casa B late into the night and celebrated. Each, I dare say, had their own reason to celebrate, but let me tell you of a few:

* One turned 30 in the course of the day;
* All did excellent work on their first assignment. All.
* They work hard and party well: only three people ever skipped a single class the whole semester, and we meet everyday but Friday. No one skipped the party. All but one drank wine or beer. No one had to be escorted home. All were fun, funny, open-hearted and open-minded (yes, all political views are welcome!);
* Let me go on record here: I LOVE coming to class each day. I really do. And I say this not only because they all laugh loudly at my odd brand of humor.
* Note just a few photos below (they gave permission to be on the blog); you may recognize one of the students: when not in class, she patrols State Street. She came last night with her very own breathalyzer. Luckily no one was driving (I walked to my office, even though it was near midnight and the idea of working after a Magic Hand had been refilling my wine glass all night long was ludicrous).

+ A neighbor sent me an article off the AP wires with the following important news:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. John Kerry has taken a slim lead over President Bush, according to an Associated Press poll that shows the president's support slipping on personal qualities, the war in Iraq and the commander in chief's bedrock campaign issue -- national security.

Fewer voters than a month ago believe Bush is the best man to protect the country and fight the Iraq war.

The AP-Ipsos Public Affairs poll, completed on the eve of the second presidential debate, showed a reversal from early September, when the Republican incumbent had the momentum and a minuscule lead. With bloodshed increasing in Iraq, Kerry sharpened his attacks, and Bush stumbled in their initial debate.

Among 944 likely voters, the Kerry-Edwards ticket led Bush-Cheney 50 percent to 46 percent. The Oct. 4-6 survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. (Special Report: America Votes 2004, Poll Tracker)

The race was tied 47-47 percent among all registered voters, with a 2.5 point margin of error. Other polls show the race just as tight.

Eight of us are gathering to watch the debate tonight. One could not go through this evening alone. So much depends on it.

+ This morning, in the spirit of hope and fresh starts, I played around with the cable TV remote as I sipped my morning café au lait. My, my! All those channels! I can see myself every few days pushing a button, taking a peek. And the food channel! This was my first glimpse of it. Now I know what the chefs used to banter about when I was an on-line cook at the big L’E. And there's Comedy Central – maybe even tonight? The skies are cloudy, but I am SPINNING WITH HOPE!

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/08/2004 10:10:00 AM | link | (0) comments

exceptional in every way, the whole lot of them Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/08/2004 10:09:56 AM | link | (0) comments

in class, she sits up front and laughs heartily at all my jokes, he is the one that contemplated not picking up a baby from the RR tracks, earning him the label of the 'funniest person' in class Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/08/2004 10:08:32 AM | link | (0) comments

east end women (they were at the east end of the table), including the birthday one Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/08/2004 10:05:55 AM | link | (0) comments

west wing men  Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/08/2004 10:03:52 AM | link | (0) comments

sometimes you see her in her uniform on State Street Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/08/2004 10:02:19 AM | link | (0) comments

Thursday, October 07, 2004

How many mistakes can one make in one day? 

I fear I made a big one. I have let my impulsive fingers click click click (one used to say dial but now one just clicks) in a wanton and reckless disregard of the human spirit.

Here’s what happened.
Charter sent all these wonderful brochures about expanded cable. Not interested!-- I thought. This is how much I do not watch TV: when I turned it on the day of the first debate and it wasn’t working I screamed at Charter to get it together and fix it! They came the next day and said the cable had been disconnected in the back yard for, it looks like, months.

That says something about my commitment up to now to TV viewing.

But there were the brochures, and friends were watching Comedy Central and I was getting pretty tired late at night and so I called.

You should never do these things on an impulse. Sleep on it – is my sage advice. But no. I called. Another debate is coming up, neighbors are coming over – I want expanded cable! (Besides, it’s virtually cost-free! Special deal this, special package that…And, I was feeling wealthy because I just learned yesterday that AirFrance and Northwestern merged their frequent flyer programs and so that has just zapped me into the stratosphere of mile abundance. Wealth is wealth.)

Today, the Charter young man came out and now I have a box. The box is magic, he tells me. It will let me watch movies on demand. It will give me 77 channels and then some. It will sing, it will play, it will entertain me. He left. I am looking at the box. I don’t want to watch television! I tossed the remote aside and went up to blog instead.

Old habits die hard. I should have slept on it.
posted by nina, 10/07/2004 05:54:52 PM | link | (0) comments

Twenty-seventh street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/07/2004 05:07:55 AM | link | (0) comments

I do believe we are on 27th Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/07/2004 05:06:47 AM | link | (0) comments
In truth, I am suspended between days and between debates. It is night and I still have three papers to reread. There is no “next day.” I am on the same day as yesterday. Twenty-seven is looking awfully like twenty-eight. I am even wearing the same pair of jeans and I have yet to close the curtains for the night. Or is it morning?

Similarily, I am suspended between debates. Tomorrow's, yesterday's (no, make that day before yesterday's), they are almost running into each other. Almost.

I read this morning about one (of many) misstep made by Cheney during the debate. You have to read this. Maybe it’s that I am in a no-sleep stupor, but I find the following completely hilarious (possibly because I think it is the kind of thing that would happen to me). The Wash Post reports:

After Democratic nominee John Edwards raised some nasty allegations about Halliburton Corp., the company Cheney once ran, Cheney angrily responded to the "false" charges. "If you go, for example, to, an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, you can get the specific details with respect to Halliburton," he said.

But when people followed Cheney's instructions, they wound up at a site sponsored by administration antagonist George Soros. "Why we must not re-elect President Bush," the site blared. "President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests, and undermining American values."

Evidently, Cheney meant to say a site run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Instead, he directed the nation's attention to a Web site that refers people to sellers of dictionaries and encyclopedias -- at least at first. The company behind the site, Cayman Islands-based Name Administration Inc., which also owns sites such as and, was quickly overwhelmed.

"Suddenly they had 48,000 hits in an hour, then 100 hits a second," said John Berryhill, a lawyer for the company. "They had a technical problem on their hands."

To avoid crashing, and to exact revenge on Cheney for causing it such grief, Name Administration decided to forward traffic to -- a site that could handle the traffic, was not soliciting funds and clearly wasn't tied to Bush. "And you got to admit it was kind of cute," Berryhill said.

Soros's Web site issued a statement saying it had nothing to do with the redirection of traffic.

The irony is that once you did reach the proper site, the one Cheney intended to have you go to, you read that (in their words): "in fact, Edwards was mostly right."

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post)
posted by nina, 10/07/2004 04:56:33 AM | link | (0) comments

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A longish post about how I think I must be living on another planet 

This afternoon, in a symbolic move, I put this up:

posted by nina, 10/06/2004 02:44:43 PM | link | (0) comments

That was then Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/06/2004 02:42:48 PM | link | (0) comments
I studied it for a while, contemplated simpler days where it was all about Lieberman’s attempt at folksiness and Gore’s lockbox.
Then I covered it up with the newly arrived-in-the-mail this:

posted by nina, 10/06/2004 02:37:21 PM | link | (0) comments

No longer a November 7th election Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/06/2004 02:31:52 PM | link | (0) comments
And I just wish people would remember that this is the election before us.
I was astonished at fellow bloggers who wrote about yesterday’s debate: “a clear win for Cheney" (here) or “a quintessential draw” (here).

Were we listening to the same debate? We are not confusing it with the Lieberman-Cheney discussion of four years back, are we?

Because really, you’ll have to explain to me what you mean by that. A “win” (or “draw”) means different things for different parties. From the Democrat standpoint, a “win” for their party would happen if the debate did not derail the momentum from the last debate – a tough standard because Cheney appears knowledgeable (how he can have credibility at this point is beyond me, but for many voters, he does), much more in control, indeed more “presidential” than Bush. Nothing was derailed. Indeed, many news sources today applauded Edwards’ command of the facts, his seriousness, his attempts at setting straight the wild record that Cheney was flaunting. As a side note, even on the “let’s have another peek at our true blue (or red in this case) Cheney” front, Cheney lost points. So much has been written this morning about his petulance and disgruntlement. We now have George and Dick, the two angry boys who cannot believe that the country, indeed, the world would question their command of the playground.

To me, there was no doubt, then, that Democrats “won” what they needed to win last night.

A “win” for the Republicans would have happened if Cheney had managed to say something that hadn’t already been said by the GOP that would freshly cause one to feel enthusiastic about the same old same old stuff, both in terms of the economy or the war. It would happen if Cheney presented compelling evidence that would discredit Edwards’ or Kerry’s strong allegations. It would also happen if Edwards, the novice in the campaign, would appear stupid, uninformed, weak, etc. We know all about Cheney and his command of (illegitimate) facts. The spot light was on Edwards. The so-called ‘most embarrassing moment’ of Cheney stating “I am meeting you for the first time” turns out to be incorrect, foolish and not responsive to anything voters are worried about (remembering, too, that many many voters were happy to put Edwards on the presidential ticket).

The Republicans lost because they did not undo any of the damage from last Thursday, nor did they manage to let Edwards look bad. Their mission failed.

A draw would happen if both parities gained something or gained nothing. How can you think that this was the result? The Democrats gained by solidifying their momentum. They lost nothing. The Republicans, on the other hand, only rubber stamped a Cheney that we already know all too well, and they failed to get out of the swamp that GWB put them in. Even if you love Cheney (oh dear!), he is not running for president. His work was to make Bush’s lackluster performance look good after all. True, it, too, was an almost impossible assignment. I dare say, Kerry is skilled enough to have pulled it off, but Cheney could not (boost his running mate).

So where is the draw or the Cheney win? I must have been watching a different channel. I just called Charter and purchased upgraded cable. Maybe that’ll help for Friday’s debate – we’ll all be on the same page. Or screen.
posted by nina, 10/06/2004 02:23:59 PM | link | (0) comments

Twenty-eighth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/06/2004 07:14:59 AM | link | (0) comments

at 1 East 28th, you'll find plenty of pickles Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/06/2004 07:14:07 AM | link | (0) comments
This post is all about pickles. How ever did the cucumber in brine come to depict “a jam,” as in “I am in a pickle”? Or “a muddle”? Or “a plight”?

I should imagine a brine bath would be restorative more than muddling. You know, in the spirit of preserving and rejuvenating, in the way that salt baths typically are. Thus perhaps a brine bath would be in order for a Vice President who, as the NYT today said, appeared “dyspeptic.” I know the references is to “disgruntlement,” but for me, it connotes a man with severe indigestion. I flashed back and imagined Cheney squirming with the kind of heartburn you experience from eating too many pickles. It is maybe in anticipation of this uncomfortable digestive issue that the Republicans, in negotiating the terms of the debate, insisted that the two men remain seated at a table.

As to who is the better “preserved” candidate? It is no secret that Edwards looks far younger than his 51 years. But if we stay with the pickle metaphor as implying a muddle or a plight, I would think that the older gentleman last night found himself in one time and time again. It is hard, after all, to stand in support of a platform which has put this country in the pickle that it finds itself in at the moment – here and abroad. Thus, if you actually listened (or read this morning, as I did) to the substance, I think the brine is swirling around the older one. Um, we all do listen to the substance, don’t we? Don’t we?

On 28th street there is a pickle shop, run by a man who moved to NY from Turkey some while back. He loves New York, he loves his pickles. I found the place by chance, but now I am a complete fan. Yes, it reminds me of pickles I used to buy from barrels in Polish grocery stores. Poles are fussy pickle eaters. None of this sweet vinegary stuff you buy in jars here for your burgers. We like ‘em brined and seasoned with fresh dill. But in this NY place of pickles you can get something I have never tried before: chocolate-covered pickles. It is amazing how many ways you can get into a pickle and how many ways you can get at a pickle.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post)

posted by nina, 10/06/2004 07:08:35 AM | link | (0) comments

a pickle for every occasion Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/06/2004 07:07:11 AM | link | (0) comments

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Wow, that was an interesting debate, wasn’t it?
I watched couples practicing tango at Union South.

Excuse me? You see yourself as a serious observer of the political process and you are telling me you watched tango dancers tonight?
Isn’t that the same thing? Do you understand tango at all? It’s intricate, improvisational, fluid, one leads, another follows, it requires skill and a straight face.

But you saw no politicians tonight?
You might say Fred Risser and I dined together. Both he and I ate at L’Etoile. (He sat at a different table.)

Okay – point blank: did you watch the debate?
Yes. A portion of it. Nothing that I saw changed my mind about the capabilities of those who were debating. You have to remember, in the primaries, I voted for Edwards.
posted by nina, 10/05/2004 09:48:26 PM | link | (0) comments

Twenty-ninth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/05/2004 08:06:33 AM | link | (0) comments

29th and 5th: think positive! think good outcome 4 weeks from today! Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/05/2004 08:05:48 AM | link | (0) comments
I am about as unlikely as anyone to quote Norman Vincent Peale. I was, indeed somewhat surprised that the city honored Peale by “naming” a street after him, though given his influential “positive thinking” messages after World War II and his large following, I suppose one can find reason for the honor. Peale spent a great many years at the pulpit of the Marble Collegiate Church, seen in the background of the photo, at 29th and 5th. Who did his message appeal to? Well, Nixon was a fan (his daughter, Julie, then used the church for her wedding to Dwight), as was Trump, who married Ivana here back in the 70s.

(Across the avenue, btw, in a different league altogether is the Little Church Around the Corner, known to those who are Woody Allen fans at the time of Hannah and her Sisters)

Is there a Peale quote that one can pull for today's political landscape? Certainly. The man lived a long time and had a lot to say. Here’s one notable line:

Part of the happiness of life consists not in fighting battles, but in avoiding them. A masterly retreat is in itself a victory. (Norman Vincent Peale)

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/05/2004 07:59:49 AM | link | (0) comments

Monday, October 04, 2004

Greetings to you, too! 

As I entered the Faculty Lounge this morning, a senior colleague greeted me with:
Hello, Swedish-born wily law prof!

I have the following Q: is there anyone in the entire law building who still does not know that I am Polish?? Wow. And I thought I mentioned it with every sentence.

As to the ‘wily’ bit:
Howe'er with wily freaks your heads be stored (La Fontaine), think wiry!

Or, if I am to be wily, let me recall Lord Byron here:

"Alas!" replies the wily child
In faltering accents sweetly mild;
"A hapless Infant here I roam,
Far from my dear maternal home.”

Which is in Poland. Not Sweden.

posted by nina, 10/04/2004 02:05:44 PM | link | (0) comments

Thirtieth street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/04/2004 06:09:09 AM | link | (0) comments

30th: a simple, humble marking Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/04/2004 06:08:04 AM | link | (0) comments
A quiet day, I hope. Early in the morning I read the NYT story about a quiet Republican from Rhode Island (here), Senator Chafee, who is NOT going to vote for Bush on November 2nd.

Quote of the day thus comes, for me, again from a Republican. First the backdrop then the quote itself:

Yet the Rhode Island senator said he was angry himself- at what he regards as broken campaign promises by the current occupant of the White House. He said Mr. Bush's promise to be "a uniter, not a divider" resonated with him, as did Mr. Bush's remark in a 2000 debate that the United States would have to be humble, not arrogant, to be respected in the world.

"As soon as victory was achieved came people with a completely different agenda than being humble," he said. Asked if he regretted supporting the president, he said, "I regret that some of the answers to important questions weren't more forthright and that there wasn't more adherence to campaign rhetoric."

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)
posted by nina, 10/04/2004 05:54:27 AM | link | (0) comments

Sunday, October 03, 2004

For those who missed it… 

No, I'm not referring to the debates this week. I'm thinking of the story that was circulating in the NY Sun (here) and the International Herald Tribune (here). Now that the name Kwasniewski is familiar to 61 million Americans (Bush mentioned the Polish president twice in the course of the debate), I want to note here that Kwasniewski is one of the front-runners to replace Kofi Annan when Annan’s term is up in two years.

What, you think it’s too soon to be mentioning a replacement? Hey, if Jay Leno could announce the new host for the Tonight Show five years hence, we may certainly speculate who the new leader will be at the UN.

Of course, many are denying that Kwasniewski is a real contender. They have to. The conventional wisdom is that early-mentioned front-runners are just a smoke screen for the real candidates. In reality though, Poland has a real shot at it. Why? The cynical reason that has been offered is that the United States has to agree to the selected person. The same United States that is tired of having Kofi Annan publicly state to the General Assembly that the US has violated international law. The same United States that loves loves loves Kwasniewski’s unwavering loyalty to American foreign policy (no matter what the policy is, or who articulates it). The less cynical explanation is that Eastern Europe has never had a turn at heading the international organization. The closest Poland itself came to leading the UN was in the 1970s when a Pole was selected to serve as under-secretary general. Yes, well, I’ll let it go at that. There’s obviously a juicy story there, but not one for this post.

Another frontrunner now, btw, is the Iranian President, Khatani. Is this ludicrous? According to the NYSun, an American diplomat commented: "We had a Nazi, why not a representative of a terrorist state?" (The reference here is to the Austrian Kurt Waldheim, secretary general during the 1970s).
posted by nina, 10/03/2004 06:26:21 PM | link | (0) comments

Thirty-first street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/03/2004 11:06:08 AM | link | (0) comments

a simple sign on a quiet, I hope, Sunday Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/03/2004 11:06:02 AM | link | (0) comments
Thirty-one days before the election and I am going to write a post about why I do not especially like cats. If you are a cat person, go ahead and get angry. I know people are really devoted to their animals. I was amused the other day when a cat owner said to me – “oh, my cat is different, he’s really more like a dog than a cat.”

That says it all, doesn’t it?

Several of my neighbors have cats and because I have many places where birds rest in my yard, the cats are often here, waiting. Look at this creepy animal, photographed by me just five minutes ago.

posted by nina, 10/03/2004 11:02:44 AM | link | (0) comments

you're telling me that this is the face of a friend? Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/03/2004 11:01:18 AM | link | (0) comments
Once, during some social gathering, I was complaining about the cats in my yard. I don’t want to alienate my neighbors, but I do wish that if carnage is to take place, it would not happen in my bird-populated yard. I understand the laws of nature, I just don’t always want to participate in the destruction of the weaker species. I eat meat occasionally, isn’t that enough of a bow toward Darwinism?

The hostess of said social gathering laughed and said yes, indeed, you can’t keep a cat from doing what nature imbued in him (she has a tomcat). Her cat cannot be restrained, she tells me. He goes out each night and preys. He is, she says, a predator.

Thank you for that clarification.

Thirty-one days before the election and I am very much aware of the role of predators in this presidential race. Webster on line says this about predators: “one that preys, destroys, or devours.” I think I’ve come across some this week-end. I am now using this post to announce again: I do not, for this reason, feel warmly about cats. It seems to me that harboring predators is unhealthy.

(If you have tamed your cat to diffuse –rather than encourage – his or her aggressive tendencies, you are forgiven. In fact, you have entered the realm of sainthood as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care if it flies in the face of nature. Aggression should be tamed.)

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/03/2004 10:54:50 AM | link | (0) comments

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Political games  

I went for a walk with a friend this afternoon and we talked about what it takes to be a successful politician. Does shaking hands really affect anything at all? Do face-to-face meetings change people’s minds? Do travels through your home town? Apparently they must, because why else would every candidate engage in this seemingly meaningless activity?

What we didn’t talk about was how easy it is to shoot crazy fire at a candidate for all the wrong reasons. I know. I learnt today.

Here’s my story. Let’s all learn and be angry together:

I had a wonderful, wonderful chat today with a chef who cooked for the Kerrys while they were in Wisconsin. He had nothing but high praise for their informality, their genuine interest in not only the food but the farmers who worked so hard to make it good. He was dazzled by their kindness. This was not politicking. They were in a one-on-one conversation with the chef. There were no expectations that they should be friendly. Quite the contrary, the chef was told that they hadn’t had time together for a while and were looking forward to a quiet evening, just the two of them, in their Spring Green condo.

The chef traveled willingly, prepared their food, bringing with him some bottles of wine to accompany it. They loved the food but thanked him for the wine. They hadn’t expected it and so they had arranged for a bottle to be sent over already. The chef, in telling me this, joked that these big shots probably travel with their own sommelier. I thought that was a funny idea: forget the personal secretary, forget the political advisor, instead – bring your own wine person!

And so I blogged about it. The chef had said that he feels shy about talking about this very real coup (to cook for a presidential candidate) but he didn’t mind if others bragged on his behalf – that was their business.

And so I bragged for him.

Within minutes, a post appeared on a blog (here). I respect the blogger greatly and think it is only coincidence that she has publicly explained her decision to vote for Bush. The title read (and still reads): “she travels with her own sommelier!” I immediately wrote to the poster and told her that this was quoting things out of context as the post was intended humorously. She did write this post update: “Nina emails that the chef was only joking. Think what you will, dear readers.”

Immediately, I had hundreds, hundreds of her readers (who are linked to her through the conservative Instapundit and the Republican Party website) jump to my blog, seeking anything, anything at all to poke holes in Kerry’s lifestyle. Inaccurate? Who cares! Out of context? So what! Ugly? YOU BET!

Neither I nor the linking blogger intended a political statement. But it has become that. Oh yes, I have now had emails from people asking for more details.

Let me just say this: If anyone, ANYONE dares twist this kind, warm-hearted, wonderful, wonderful event (of our local, exceptionally talented chef cooking for the Kerrys) into a political game, they have me to deal with. Tomorrow. On the front lawn of my house. With fists. I am that angry.
posted by nina, 10/02/2004 07:35:50 PM | link | (0) comments

A hot scoop and a cold market morning 

Scroll to your favorite topic:

1. What’s the difference between a September market and an October market?
2. A stream of self-congratulatory moments;
3. You heard it on Ocean first: insider information on Kerry
4. It’s Fall, dang it! Go bake an apple crisp!
5. Pumpkin pierogi

ad 1.
I was away from my Market foraging last week. What a change! First, at 6:30, when I make my first round with a list of potential purchases, it is now DARK and COLD! I remembered the scarf. I remembered the gloves. I could have used a nice wooly cap.
posted by nina, 10/02/2004 02:21:32 PM | link | (0) comments

the baguettes are ready, but the cafe is not yet open for business when I get there on Saturdays Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/02/2004 02:20:40 PM | link | (0) comments
ad 2.
So many farmers were flying high after the Wednesday NYT piece on the Market! Congratulatory messages were shouted out back and forth and the atmosphere was jubilant! If I never hear the words “wiry Polish-born” again I will be satisfied. I had a lifetime dose today. These farmers are careful readers.

ad 3.
Ahhhh, you want the scoop. Let me tell it as I heard it, in conversation with Tory, the Chef de Cuisine at L’Etoile. He joined me for one round at the Market and we chatted. I was eager to tell him that his recommendation of a favorite spot to eat in NY was fantastic! Perfect! (Blue Ribbon in SoHo. Try it.) But that’s not the scoop. He was eager to tell me about his week-end. [Why is it a scoop? Because Madison Magazine wants to do a story on it in the next issue. I scooped them!] Here’s how it went:

Tory: So, I wasn’t allowed to say this, but I got a call from Spring Green.
n: Spring Green… Spring Green?

Tory: Yep. Teresa was flying up to join John and they wanted a quiet dinner in their condo, just the two of them, on the Sunday before the debate. They wanted something really good and special and they asked if I would come up and cook it for them.
n: You cooked for John Kerry????? How was it? How were they? What did they eat? How was it????? [I don’t get into celebrity stuff, but this week, how can one not get excited about Kerry?]

Tory: First of all, it was embarrassing because they were late and so in waiting for them, I sort of sprawled out on their couch and was watching TV when they walked in. Then, I went to their kitchen which opened out onto their living room and I cooked. They were really interested in where the food came from, in the Farmers Market, in Jim [of Northwoods Farms]. .
n: What did you make for them?

Tory: Tenderloin (from Northwoods) – they like it “medium” and they were thrilled that it was so juicy, also the salad with mushrooms, and a chocolate Vesuvius.

n: I can’t believe you cooked for John Kerry! So, those worries about them not having places to eat in Spring Green were ill-founded?

Tory: Yeah. They asked me to cook for the staff on Tuesday but I couldn’t because of L’Etoile. So they called Lombardino’s.
n: This was your week, Tory. Amazing successes. Were your parents proud?

Tory: Sure, but they asked how come, in the Cap Times story, I sounded like I couldn’t put a sentence together.
n: Parents have the oddest reactions to things. Tell them that Apple didn’t write that article.

ad 4.
You heard it. Go bake a crisp. Plenty of recipes out there. And try Weston Orchard’s apples – they have a dozen varieties at the Market and you can sample all of them. It’s their apples that make L’Etoile’s crisp as good as it is.

posted by nina, 10/02/2004 02:13:10 PM | link | (0) comments

many crates, many apples varieties, all from Weston Orchards Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/02/2004 02:12:16 PM | link | (0) comments
ad 5.
I want to eat at L’Etoile on the day that Tory and Chef O put pumpkin pierogi on the menu. Tory had me pick up a couple of these, from Bee Charmer, so that he could experiment with the different varieties.

posted by nina, 10/02/2004 02:10:10 PM | link | (0) comments

Pumpkins and a nod to Polish cuisine Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/02/2004 02:09:30 PM | link | (0) comments

Thirty-second street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/02/2004 06:01:36 AM | link | (0) comments

thirty two days before the election: there IS only one way to go. No more twisted arrows, please! Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/02/2004 06:00:52 AM | link | (0) comments
Ufff! Ten days ago I began the countdown. I thought it would be a creative challenge. It is, instead, exhausting, because it does not allow for a retreat from the political landscape. On the other hand, this is not a time to retreat, regardless of the temptation. If we are willing to put up yardsigns, shouldn’t we be willing to put up a daily blog reminder of how important this election is?

In surfing articles this morning, I was especially interested in reading those that tracked undecided voters. I don’t get this group at all and one always wants to probe and get closer to something that is a complete mystery. So how can voters still be undecided? What are they waiting for? These two candidates couldn’t be more different!

I pulled just one quote from one person in one Pennsylvania town who is still considering Kerry, but wants to basically hand it over to Bush (cited in WashPost). He states:

"Kerry seemed much better prepared, but if we have another war, maybe I want a cowboy in the president's office."

And so what are you going to do with a voter like that? What is he saying? Is it the brainless aggressor we want? A person who is good with the rope? A meat and potatoes man? And what is this about another war? Aren’t we at war now?

Quote of the day: (from the NYT:
the president's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, who is normally elusive to the press, sought out reporters to push the campaign's argument that Mr. Kerry was a walking contradiction on Thursday night and that Mr. Bush was focused and pensive during the encounter, not peevish.)

"That wasn't irritated," Mr. Rove said. "I know irritated."

I bet he does.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/02/2004 05:53:30 AM | link | (0) comments

Friday, October 01, 2004

Never has one sentence in a newspaper generated so much calling and emailing  

Actually, after a while it makes you feel rather pathetic. The world is saying “Wow! You got mentioned in the NYT (see post about it on September 29)! Great going!” but it is really telling you “Wow! Finally, mention of you somewhere, somewhere… It’s about time! Don’t you feel you’re wasting your life? You might as well hang up a sign saying ‘Don’t come knocking: I don’t do anything important ever. This is as big as it gets.’”

Today, my Berkeley mother finally reached me by phone. Excerpts from our conversation:

Mom: So, all my friends have been reading all about you! Wiry Polish-born law prof! You know, when I saw that, I thought – ‘wiry,’ is that an insult? Are you maybe a bit sharp and ornery?

nc: Mom, I took it as a compliment. You know: young and agile!

Mom: Well that’s what my friends told me: she’s probably thin and healthy.

nc: [My Mom’s friends are from the senior center where she lives] If your friends think I am more agile than them, I *guess* I should be pleased…

Mom: My old friend from NY called me to tell me she read the piece. You remember, she’s friends with (so-and-so) who had a son just your age. Did I tell you he died of a heart attack? No sign, no symptom, nothing!

nc: Thanks for that cheerful update. Anyway, I’m glad you liked the story.

Mom: You’re famous! I bought five copies of the paper! [Do I detect a rare moment of exuberance and pride?] What do you suppose I should do with them, by the way?

nc: Uh, I don’t know Mom. Send them to my father [He lives in Poland and they don’t communicate].
posted by nina, 10/01/2004 05:18:52 PM | link | (0) comments

I know this will generate weird links, but… 

Thanks to the reader who brought to my attention an article in today’s Guardian. The title of the article says it all: Orgies are the way to ease social tensions, claims US judge. Which judge and in what context? Read on:

Challenged about his views on sexual morality, Justice Scalia surprised his audience at Harvard University, telling them: "I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged."

Now, I am mindful of the fact that Bush promised, if reelected, to appoint more judges like Scalia. Gentlemen, are we allowing our fantasy life to interfere with good decision-making?

posted by nina, 10/01/2004 10:05:28 AM | link | (0) comments

Thirty-third street pre-election diary* 

posted by nina, 10/01/2004 07:38:25 AM | link | (0) comments

33rd is looking bright and chipper this morning Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/01/2004 07:37:11 AM | link | (0) comments
Thirty three days until the election and I see hope. The CNN polls are holding steady. Americans are not duped by a smirking man of few words and even fewer, disgracefully shabby, ideas on foreign policy. Lines like “my friend Vladimir” and “we were attacked by the enemy” fell flat, as well they should. Both in style and in substance, only a staunch Bush supporter would say that the incumbent presented a compelling case for a continuation of a shamefully misguided foreign policy, one that liberally uses such terms as freedom and democracy, while news clips tell a different story – in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Russia, in Darfur.

Here, consider this snapshot from thirty-third street: two faces, one showing determination and clear thinking, one falling apart from shame and disgrace. After the debate, I am exalted to see that most have placed the correct name card in front of each figurehead.

(*see “forty-second street pre-election diary” post, September 22, for explanation of post title)

posted by nina, 10/01/2004 07:33:36 AM | link | (0) comments

which one will you vote for? Posted by Hello
posted by nina, 10/01/2004 07:32:19 AM | link | (0) comments

I'm Nina Camic. I teach law, but also write (here and elsewhere) on a number of non-legal topics. I often cross the ocean, in the stories I tell and the photos I take. My native Poland is a frequent destination.

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from