Thursday, September 25, 2003 ::: some quick links:
so everybody's already seen search google by location. Seems to work best for urban areas rather than suburban ones, judging by some rudimentary searching.
so there's now a chicago blog map. Not too many posted yet - I used to live in Hyde Park, which doesn't really have an immediate El stop. Saying I live at Garfield on the Red Line, surrounded by housing projects and a giant highway sounds a little incongruous to me. Luckily it's a moot point.
the morning news links to straight talk, an AIDS awareness campaign in Uganda whose frank discussion of sex has engendered some controversy. The letters section excerpted in this month's Harper's Magazine highlights some pretty harrowing situations, often involving teacher-student sexual harassment.
Sunday, September 21, 2003 ::: I just finished reading the bondwoman's narrative by hannah crafts, which according to editor henry louis gates, jr is the first known novel written by a black person anywhere in the world. That it may be, but it is also particularly good one, although at times it starts out a little predictably and has its weak parts. Gates' introduction at the beginning of the book should also not be overlooked - I believe an abridged version appeared in the new yorker a while ago, and discusses his obtaining of the manuscript and subsequent research in discovering more about its author, a task helped immensely by the very autobiographical elements of her book .
I guess I've been on a bit of a spending spree of late - although I borrowed the bondwoman's narrative from alex my boyfriend, I've bought a ton of other books which I haven't cracked open yet. I also went cd shopping and bought the recent ed harcourt cd, which is excellent, and lowlife by new order which I already have on book and record, and a single gun theory cd that my sister used to have.
This weekend I rearranged my furniture a little bit. I have a lot of books now, and not a lot of bookshelf space. I moved my stereo and some milk crates around as well. I've come to really dislike the milk crates - they clash horribly with everything else, but the closet is stuffed to overflowing and there just doesn't seem to be room for them anywhere else right now. oh well.
Thursday, September 11, 2003 ::: So a lot's happened recently.
This morning I got a call from my mother and found out that my grandfather, Thomas O'Keefe, had died this morning in his sleep. He was about to turn 94. He was born in South Baltimore to Irish immigrants - his father worked at the Bethlehem Steel Plant shoveling coal into a furnace, along with a black man with whom he became friends despite the segregation of the time. My great-grandfather died in the flu epidemic of 1918 and so his wife took in laundry to support the family, and my grandfather was sent to collect and sell coal that had fallen off trains rounding a bend in the nearby railroad tracks. Money was tight, and my great-grandmother was eventually forced to place my grandfather in an orphanage. His aunt and uncle later obtained his release. My grandfather's uncle worked for a bootlegger, operating a miniature brewery in the basement and taking the streetcar across town with a load of beer. The uncle began to drink heavily, and his wife decided to put a stop to the beer brewing by taking an axe to the brewery in the basement. Once my grandfather graduated from the eighth grade, his education was considered complete and he was sent out into the working world. He found work in the shipyards, although once the depression hit jobs became scarce and he became involved in trying to unionize the other dockworkers and the shipyard managers blacklisted him. At some point he became a policeman, and also met my grandmother, who had immigrated from Ireland in 1932. I forget when they married exactly, but it was about 1938 or so. My uncles were born in 1942 and 1944, and my father, the youngest, was born in 1946. The family had moved to Hampden, a Baltimore neighborhood near Johns Hopkins University mostly consisting of poor white protestants who worked in nearby mills along Jones Falls. (The neighborhood remained this way for quite some time, but in the past five years or so has become very trendy all of a sudden.) My father and uncles grew up in Hampden while my grandfather worked for the Baltimore police until his retirement.
When I was young my grandfather and grandmother would occasionally take care of me for my parents when we spent our summers in Baltimore. We would ride around in his enormous chevy with black vinyl seats that get searing hot after several hours of sitting in a summer parking lot. We would go to what at the time seemed fascinating places to child like me: the Rotunda, Lexington Market, Lake Roland. My grandparents lived in a long, narrow rowhouse full of long, narrow rooms and hallways. The back yard had cement paving with oyster shells embedded in it, and I thought if I looked carefully enough I might discover a pearl. The basement had a bathroom with an ancient bathtub supported by wrought iron feet. The bookshelves were filled with books I liked to read. We would also go to the nearby dairy and get chocolate milk, walking out the back yard and through a little alleyway. Our family has kept this house after my grandparents moved out and my cousin lives there now.
As my grandparents grew older, they were less able to support themselves physically and eventually had to move to a retirement community, but thankfully one which allowed its residents a certain independence - visiting them was not the horror that one experiences when visiting a nursing home. My grandfather's memory began to fail him, and my grandmother, whose mind remained as sharp as ever, looked after him. And he did likewise with her, because although her mental faculties were excellent, she had become very weak and frail. When she died two decembers ago, he was devastated and hasn't really been the same since. It seemed that now his time has come and he can rest in peace.
Monday, September 08, 2003 ::: The new york times (from a while ago) has an article about rufus wainwright who is out of rehab and and trying to stay clean and sober. we'll see if it lasts. the new album is coming out soon - as I understand it, a double album. should be excellent as always. link from rebel prince.
Thursday, September 04, 2003 ::: So as I'm writing this, I'm also watching the democratic presidential candidates' debates. Some general thoughts on the matter.
The more the candidate actually stands a chance of winning the nomination, the more vague and evasive the answers to the questions posed, especially those pertaining to specifics on iraq reconstruction/possible pullout. No great surprise there.
Ostensibly this debate is focussed on issues pertaining to the latino community, and none of the candidates seem to be doing a very good job of that.
As far as the candidates go, among the long shot candidates, kucinich is the one who seems to be doing the best, and getting the best response from the audience. Moseley-Braun and Graham don't really seem to be saying terribly unique or exciting. Al Sharpton is a no-show. I'm sure at the very least he would have livened things up a bit.
among those with a chance, Dean is the front-runner and his recent moderation of his earlier stances are mostly coming through with greater emphasis of the more moderate aspects of his record. I haven't really been all that excited about him (or really any of the candidates). Kerry and Lieberman seem to be the most informed and wonky. Kerry has a much better on-screen presence than in print, where he looks like a mummy with an andy warhol wig. Gephardt and Edwards aren't really shining like they could be. Edwards seems pretty glib and I think this more of a practice run for him.
Oh, lieberman just started getting in a few digs on Dean regarding labor, jobs and international trade. The whole thing is going a little too fast to report on in real time. Everybody wants to bring more jobs to america and eliminate economic exploitation elsewhere in the world. No shocker there. And we love the environment. TV is better for sound bites than for long policy discussions on the matter.
Much discussion of health care, and once again, people are generally saying reasonable things, although being very vague once again. All the proposals that are going to make a significant dent in the uninsured are certainly going to cost a lot of money. Single-payer systems, like the one suggested by Moseley-Braun are the most reasonable, although not knowing the specifics of her plan I can't really say that it is unquestionably the best.
I'm going to cut out here, as the discussion begins regarding immigration issues, as I have some work to do. In short, if I were going to vote right now, I think I'd vote for Kerry, although I have some concerns about his ability to win the general election. I'd be pretty happy with Dean, though.