Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nostalgia food

Creole Wednesday quick red gravy

1/4 cup olive oil (the more fruity the better)
3 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
1 med onion diced
1/2 c green pepper
1/3 c green onion tops
1 rib of celery or sm. handful of celery tops
2-3 tbs tomato paste
1 20 oz can tomato puree
3 bay leaves whole
1/3 cup fresh parsley
1 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp each dried oregano, and basil
1/2 tsp each black and white ground pepper
touch of cayenne or chipotle pepper, ground

Put a cast iron skillet on low heat, add oil, tomato paste, bay leaves and garlic, let warm until garlic is translucent. Do not brown. Add onions and celery and stir until coated with tomato paste, turn up the heat to medium, and cook until translucent to toasted. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then turn down to simmer for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Taste, to correct seasoning. If it's not tangy enough, add a little lemon juice. If it's not sweet enough, add a touch of sugar or molasses. Serve over any pasta, top with parmesan or romano cheese. You can add browned ground beef or meatballs. Serves 4. Best if shared with Mom and Dad, and husband and your sons but take what you can get.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I'm going after work to see my grad school advisor speak at B&N. I'm probably going to buy his book so he can sign it, even though he's already signed one for me before, when he was my professor. Keep Writing, he wrote back then. I wonder what he'd say if he asks me whether I'm still writing. Yes, a blog. Five blogs. I finished the novel, and sent it around, got an agent, but no publisher. I think about writing fiction now, but mostly don't feel like it.

I hardly read it anymore. I can't say exactly why. Maybe life has most of my attention now. Divorce, remarriage, losing a son can really snap you awake. Yeah, life got my attention alright.

I think about how fiction, a sports event, war, and political events work on the mind. The outcome is what you anticipate most, the outcome of each interaction, toward an end point; but with fiction one person is in control of the story. You may want to reread a book or rewatch a movie, but in sports and politics, few want to replay the whole process again. I've known people who will read the last page of a book before they start, but no one wants to know how a football game ends until they see it. No one wants to be telegraphed the end of a good movie. In war, the moves are replayed as lessons in what to do or not to do next time. In politics, there is no real end. That's the fascinating part. There's no season, no third act. It's always in medias res. If you believe in good vs evil, it can be maddening.

Doc used to tell us to keep a journal, that his idea for Ragtime came from simply describing the room where he was writing, then researching who the architect was, and reading historical accounts of his life and times. Stanford White and the Gibson girl. It happened that I read the Alienist around the same time I read Waterworks. If you want to learn the difference between a writer and an author, I suggest you do the same. In fact, I just might do so again.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

To the 6 ft man in the blue columbia jacket

and dark blond hair just long enough to prove it curls: I hope you weren't too nonplussed by the middle aged lady staring at you on Park Avenue yesterday. You reminded me of someone, so much that I had to force myself not to walk over to you. For a few minutes it was hard to convince myself you weren't him. Somewhere in my head, you were. So real that I could feel him walking across the street and coming up behind me, a little put off that I hadn't come to his side of the street. But I turned and it was a whole different person. I know it wasn't real. But still. I thought of all the times after he left to go live with his father, that we would run into each other on the street, or rather, I would only see him because he was standing in front of me saying, "Mom? Mom!" as if I were the one who had left him. He wrote it off to my nearsightedness; but I think it was a defense mechanism. Don't see the angry boy. Don't see the angry boy. And he would chide me a little for not noticing him, then chat with me as if he had never hated me. As if he loved me with all his heart and had no idea how he'd ripped me apart by choosing his father's flattery, bribes, and lies over me. Me not perfect, but better than being bought at 13. I understood. I did. Fathers hold most of the cards for 13 year old boys.
They sent his driver's license renewal in the mail. I opened it, half curious. What, I wonder, is the use of an eye test for someone who no longer has eyes? Organ donor selection for someone whose organs were so full of poison even the hospital didn't want them, and at any rate, gone to dust now. To anyone else this piece of mail is just another boring form to fill out, but for me it's the latest reminder that the loss that shattered my life down to the roots didn't register with the rest of the world.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Katrina=looting; Japan=stocking up on supplies

‎I've been holding my tongue at comments from RT friends and Internet blogs alike about how wonderful and self disciplined the Japanese are and how terrible the Katrina victims were. There's just no way to compare the two events, not just because of the difference in proportion, but because the two countries' cultures are so different. Another false perspective employed by those who wish to demonize my hometown is the unmentioned fact that you can't single out New Orleans as an entity distinct from the USA in general (although sometimes I'd like to, especially since Plessy v. Ferguson).

For one thing, US media has a completely different philosophy and business model than Japan does; and than its own international desks. Part of this difference is based in culture: in Japan, you don't sensationalize tragedies, or crime. In the US, that's all we'll read when we pick up a paper. Both New Orleans and Japan have organized crime, New Orleans' revolving mostly around drug gangs. Japan has a huge crime syndicate called the Yakusa, that has its hand in pretty much the same things Drugs, prostitutes, theft, murder. Never heard of em? American news sensationalizes crime, Japanese news plays it down. Crime gangs are so accepted in Japan that they put up signs to advertise the location of their headquarters.

You cannot compare the news reports on the two disasters, because they are based on two different ideas of what constitutes news/journalism. As is now commonly known, the reports of crime during the post-Katrina flooding were greatly exaggerated. Even the mayor and police chief were reporting rapes, murders, looting and shootings that never took place. But if you watch Fox or read most accounts today (from people who weren't there), you would never know this. You probably believe that babies were being raped and helicopters shot down while TV sets were marched out on the shoulders of thousands of black teens in brand new sneakers, for months on end. You've seen the same handful of photos I have. So many times that in your mind it was an endless crime event loop. Stuff was taken, but mostly food, clothes, diapers and supplies.

People in Japan are taking stuff out of damaged stores, too. We're just not calling it crime because they're Japanese. They're calling it "scavenging for supplies." There are no doubt as many instances per capita of misbehavior and desperation in damaged areas of Japan as New Orleans. But in Japan they don't broadcast it, or exaggerate it through rumor and bad journalism.

This disaster is so much worse than Katrina. 10K people have died, entire towns wiped away. But it also involves an entire country, with its army and relief efforts on hand from day one. It also has been getting international aid and rescue from the first day. Do you even remember how long it took FEMA and the national guard to get into New Orleans. Hint: by this point, (five days later) NOBODY but the Coast guard helicopters were on site.

We don't know for certain what's going on in every damaged town in Japan. We have no idea what's going to be happening in the months after this ongoing tragedy, or what people have been, or will be driven to. It's only been 5 days. Katrina involved a total breakdown of government protection and disaster relief, including water, crim prevention, shelter and food, for a small trapped population of the poorest citizens of New Orleans who had fewer resources to survive on over a long period of time, than the average Japanese person caught in the earthquake and tsunami. Their standard of living, and level of government-based care was and is higher by far than that of New Orleans.

There's nothing wrong with identifying behavior you think admirable and contrasting it with behavior you think regrettable or destructive. What's insane is labeling the poorest and most desperate of your fellow Americans as somehow evil, lazy and selfish because they didn't act, in different circumstances, the same way you are being told a different group of people are acting in another country, another culture and other circumstances.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

self discipline

I realized how much time I spent farting around online with little gain. True, I was getting my thoughts in order, and learning the basic skills of presenting and defending a coherent argument. I was learning to interact in a competitive, negative environment and keep my wits. All important, but I've hit a wall. It's fairly typical of the autodidact, I suppose. Time to move to a more --academic? Focused? pursuit of the goal. I don't need the extraneous hysteria from outside sources. I don't need the socialization. What I need is more work on my part. More writing, more attention to the topics and material that lead to, well, something. I was spinning my wheels, and I knew it. Now, at least I'm spinning them in a direction.

I have five blogs. This one is the most personal. 3 are related to my home business. One is for a place I'd love to live again. They all need more attention than I've been giving them. It was easier to go somewhere else and argue with strangers. Done. Done, done done. You'll see me here, and on your blog, more often.