Redheaded Ramblings: Sheila A-stray  

"This race and this country and this life produced me, he said. I shall express myself as I am." -- James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man



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DEMONS, ANGELS

I know many people who make it a point not to watch the news. "I don't watch the news." "I can't watch the news." "It's too upsetting. I can't watch the news." It freaks them out. They cannot stand it. They cannot separate themselves from what they see. Which is understandable. I don't sit and stare at the famine in Malawi and feel unmoved. Far from it! But I can't not watch. I can't not at least TRY to know what is going on. It's not just a need I have, or a desire. It feels like a responsibility. I have a responsibility to participate. To watch.

What I really want to say is, yes. The news is horrific. Tragic. Heart-rending. Stressful. Terrible, so sad. It feels like it's all bad news.

However, it seems important to remember that:

If you block out the bad, you inevitably block out the good as well. There's a famous quote (by Kafka, maybe??) about: be careful about driving out ALL of your demons. Because in doing so, you may drive out some angels as well.

This is so true. People who do not watch the news, to avoid the horror and the violence, miss out, then, on participating in the glorious joy of news like:

this

this

this

Regardless of all the pain and suffering one goes through when one watches the parade of misery which is usually the nightly news, occasionally something will come along where the entire world can rejoice. I feel sorry for the people I know who refuse to watch any news at all, ever, because I feel they miss out. They miss out on the overwhelming joy of certain events coming along, which touch humanity, as a whole. They deny themselves that. In shutting out the stress of the news, they also shut out the enlightenment.

And with enlightenment comes something which is so damn important: context. Without context, events cannot be understood. I am not talking about moral relativism, or equivalence. I am not talking about understanding the root cause or anything like that. I am talking about knowing that France and Germany are behaving in such and such a way, and that means THIS, and so that means that then we will do THIS ... so that the news you see then makes SENSE. I am talking about knowing that the bombing in Iraq has begun (believe it or not, I know a couple of folks who were unaware that there is an actual war going on). I am talking about being semi-up to date with what is going on, so that when something catastrophic (the Bali nightclub bombing, etc.) or something wonderful (April 9) occurs, we know where to put it. We understand the context of the event. We can handle it.

At least this has been my experience.

Knowledge is power.

I have never felt that stronger than in the past couple of years, since September 11. The people I know who have not gone out in search of context ... are baffled, upset, freaked-out, pretty much uninformed and so they make up their minds based on emotion and impulse, they are blown about by every influence, every comment ... They don't know what to think. They are victimized by the news. Victimized by what they do not know. I know intimately what it feels like to be intimidated by what I do not know. To feel ... out of touch with the real sources of power and information. I feel weak, powerless to DO anything ... There are those who become intimidated by their lack of context, and so shut the whole thing out, and continue to live their lives narrowly, focused on only their personal experiences, the day to day, as though a major world cataclysm was not taking place. That's fine. That's their right.

I am merely saying that the people who tune stuff out, miss out on a whole lot of GOOD. That's all. They miss the chance to jump up and down for joy, because of the good fortune of people they DO NOT KNOW, people they have NEVER MET. What an incredible and life-affirming thing. Whatever your political beliefs, it doesn't matter. Humanity is humanity.

I cried and prayed for those 9 miners. I wept when they were saved. Total strangers exchanged smiles in the elevator, because those 9 STRANGERS had been rescued. It was a beautiful thing. I have tears in my eyes just remembering it. It was an experience of one-ness with humanity that I have rarely experienced.

Life is good. Life is something to be cherished. Elizabeth Smart returns home, and people everywhere felt relief, happiness .. joy. We all were in the shoes of the Smart parents, trying to imagine how happy they must be. Empathy grows in an experience like that, compassion. It is good for the human race.

If you keep your eyes to the ground, refusing to get involved, you miss out on that opportunity for growth, and communion with others. You really do.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/11/2003 05:21:00 PM


Friday, April 11, 2003  

 
THE SILENCE OF CNN

Chilling piece in the New York Times today, by Eason Jordan, chief news executive at CNN. He describes his years working in Baghdad, and all the stories of torture and death he would not put on CNN. For various reasons: If we reported it, so-and-so would be killed.

Iraqi cameramen who worked for CNN disappearing for no reason, and returning horribly changed from the torture chambers. Other horror stories.

Major news. Obviously. CNN would not report it. I do not understand.

The piece, to me, has the sound of someone covering his ass. Making excuses. Way too late.

He closes with:

"I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely."

Dude. Too little, too late. "I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me." Oh, so it's all about how awful you feel, huh?? Get some therapy. Don't whine to me about it.

You tell the story of a woman being tortured, her father made to watch as the torturers literally tore her apart, limb from limb. Imagine that. Imagine the trauma of the father having to see that. It is beyond comprehension. This is what these people have been living with for decades. "At last, these stories can be told freely." What the hell is a major news organization for, if not for reporting the damn news? CNN was there. CNN did not report it.

Shame on them.

(came across Times article via Little Green Footballs)

The ripples from this piece are spreading: Everybody is discussing it:

Michele weighs in

More: Allison, a journalist with The Jerusalem Post comments on her blog An Unsealed Room: This NY Times Op-Ed by CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan will not only be the talk of the day in media circles, but it will probably be discussed in Columbia Journalism School ethics classes for years to come.

More: Glenn Reynolds comments

More: Josh Chafez comments

More: Rachel Lucas rants

More: Through Rachel Lucas, I came across Blaster's command to "flood the zone" with this story

More: Jonah Goldberg says: "There was a similar dilemma during the Cold War when journalists were accused of "writing for their visa" -- i.e. softening their reportage in order to stay in the Soviet Union. This was always justified on the grounds of getting out the bigger story. The problem with this approach is it tends to make evil countries seem like normal countries and hence foster a climate of moral equivalence.

Full disclosure: I work for CNN and I would like to continue doing so, but I can't in good conscience say that Jordan's explanation, as offered in the Times, is persuasive. I don't mind the use of journalistic ground rules, but I do think it is unethical not to tell the reader or viewer what those ground rules are. For example, when Barbara Walters types interview stars she'll agree to a host of ground rules about what they will and won't discuss. That's fine. But if you don't tell the viewer what those ground rules are, you are implying that the issues which are off limits are in fact not newsworthy. If CNN agreed not to report certain events or to soften its reporting in anyway, it should have made it clear early and often that it is impossible to provide a clear picture because of the climate of fear and intimidation."


Did CNN ever make any disclosures along the way, saying: "We are unable to give you the whole story her". I'm not that much of a media watchdog ... but I am sure this story will not just die, and people will be on the case.

Seems that they already are.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/11/2003 01:18:00 PM



 
A CONFESSION FROM KAMIYA

Unfortunately, I cannot read the entire op-ed in Salon by Gary Kamiya (I am not a subscriber), but Andrew Sullivan quoted enough of it to warrant a mention. Quite frankly, I am astonished.

Here is my hope: That I am also big enough to admit when I have been terribly wrong. Or when my wishes/hopes come from a small petty partisan place. The sentiments Kamiya admits to are extremely ugly. The ugly side of human nature. But my God: the truth of it! It's so human.

Conservatives can learn from him as well. We all can.

Kamiya writes:

I have a confession: I have at times, as the war has unfolded, secretly wished for things to go wrong. Wished for the Iraqis to be more nationalistic, to resist longer. Wished for the Arab world to rise up in rage. Wished for all the things we feared would happen. I'm not alone: A number of serious, intelligent, morally sensitive people who oppose the war have told me they have had identical feelings.

Some of this is merely the result of pettiness -- ignoble resentment, partisan hackdom, the desire to be proved right and to prove the likes of Rumsfeld wrong, irritation with the sanitizing, myth-making American media. That part of it I feel guilty about, and disavow. But some of it is something trickier: It's a kind of moral bet-hedging, based on a pessimism not easy to discount, in which one's head and one's heart are at odds.


I don't know what else to say, but: wow.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/11/2003 12:54:00 PM



 
REFLECTION ON FREEDOM...

A lovely reflection on freedom, especially in the context of the extraordinary last couple of days, by Rachel Lucas. Thank you, Rachel. Very well put.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/11/2003 12:45:00 PM



 

DIARY FRIDAY



I have to admit I feel like a bit of a jackass. I had breakfast this morning, listening to the tremendous wind outside, and then thought to myself: "Well, have to get ready for Diary Friday..."

For those of you just joining me, on Fridays I go through the (literally) piles of journals I have boxed up in my closet, pick out one at random, and post one of the entries here. I try to make sure the entries I choose (only one so far) are interesting, sort of well-written, and reveals something about me, and how I think and how I write. A journal entry saying: "Cried from morning till night yesterday" would not make the cut. For obvious reasons.

I block out names of certain people, but other than that, I present these journal entries to you pretty much uncut. Unedited.

I'm doing this for a lot of reasons; reasons which are probably very interesting only to me, so I will spare you.

Today's entry is actually the tale of a weekend in Nov. 1995, my first year of graduate school. I went to the Actors Studio MFA at the New School University. (Ever seen "Inside the Actor's Studio"? That's my school.) I'm a bit of a raw-nerve throughout the entry. School was brand-new, I had left my home, my friends in Chicago, I was homesick in Manhattan, blah blah. I also had a big crush on a guy in my class -- it seems so damn long ago. Could he ever have been important enough for me to shed a TEAR over?? Seems unbelievable. I read this entry (I rarely go back and read over my journals) and I am shocked to remember how sad I was my first semester. Okay, here we go.

November 19, 1995
This has been some weekend. "Some Pig!"

Very illuminating. Very exhausting.

Friday. Last [acting] workshop with Vivien [Nathan]. Bought her roses. After: Decided to go for a drink. Autumn.

Me, Emily, Christine, Leslie, Stephen - confusion of where to go. Irritation.

Stephen to me: "Maybe you should tell them how you feel." Laughter. He confides in me. "I'd like to talk it over with you actually."

Walk to Art Bar. Stephen carried Christine on his back. I was -- something was disturbed in me.

In Art Bar. Darkness. Candles. Guys in suits with sexy-looking martinis. Emily: "The olives look like belly buttons!" Beautiful!

Stephen and Leslie talking. Exclusive. Christine, Emily, and I talk. I overhear snippets:

Stephen: "I've experienced a lot of rejection over my life. Like 'That guy's too intense.' "

"I find myself doing these self-abandoning things."

"There have been times in my life when ... I've been suicidal ..."

He had said earlier: "I would never want to be a kid again. No, wait. I'd like to be the kid I could have been."

Him and Leslie. Talking of relationships. The last girl he dated was a "runway model". Then: "And ever since her ...I haven't even felt like kissing anyone ..."

As this went on I will admit my feelings: Jealousy. Hurt. Fear. (I invested too much in nothing. I made it all up. He never felt like kissing me.) Depression. Black wall of depression. A desperation. And slowly, sitting there, I knew my feelings were drifting away from Stephen, to me. And then I knew I would have to leave. My sadness suddenly ballooned out in a second to 100 times its original size, with ******* as the catalyst. He became emblematic. The focal point.

Leslie went to the bathroom. Stephen looked at me. We smiled. A small superficial conversation occurred. I said something seriously. He laughed. I didn't like it.

"You know, you laugh a lot when I say serious things to you."

I blindsided him. Unfair.

He was awkward. "No ...I was just ..." Then he stopped fumbling. "I'm sorry."

I accepted this. But I had to leave. I left my money, kissed my new friends, Stephen standing, I moved past him. "Sheila -- you leaving?" Kind -- yet confused.

"Yeah. I'm taking off. Are you going to E's class tomorrow?"

"Class? What class?" Panic.

"Calm down. Her sensory class." Impatient with him.

"Oh. No way! I get enough sensory work as it is."

"Okay. Whatever."

He leaned over and kissed me. Awkward.

I said, "Have a nice weekend."

"You too, Sheila." So nice. He has such a kindness. That's the word-clue I get.

I got the hell out of there, just in time. I was going to lose it. Publicly.

Then I got lost. Hopelessly. The f***ing West Village. World Trade Center. Glittering. Wandering, out of breath. Bruised feeling in my chest area. Wind knocked out of me. Tears. Seriously talking to myself.

So much has nothing to do with Stephen. I am just susceptible now. .... I want love ... I am ready. I am vulnerable. I am still hurt.

Finally. The subway...Thoughts of ***** ... How much I miss him. How unnatural and unfair it feels to not be in his life.

Home. Felt like I was running there before the wall got me. Just get me home.

It was 9:30. Began making calls. Felt afraid. Diffused it a bit. Calling Christine. Good talk.

Stephen to Christine: "Did Sheila seem in kind of a funk to you?"

"Yeah, I guess she did."

"I hope she's all right. I'll call her tomorrow."

Brendan and Maria helped.

"Of course!" said Maria. "Of course you would be hurt by him talking this way to another girl! You should be kinder to yourself."

Had a horrible night sleepwise.

Jim, Jackie, and George [friends from Chicago] called me from Moody's -- bless them -- but they called at 12:45 a.m.

Jackie: "Oh, the time change!"

Lay WIDE AWAKE as though jazzed on caffeine. Got up, read Interview, drank water.

Woke early. Going to class. Sat at New World, drinking coffee, writing, feeling calmer, more myself. Still inside ... sort of. I knew, let me just say, that -- something would happen in class. I knew the magnitude of my -- whatever -- my loneliness, my sadness, my anger, my desolation, my loss -- whatever -- I knew it was waiting to come out during class. All I wanted to do really was to turn it in, give it free rein, crawl into bed, and let it f***ing have me for two days. Then I'd join the rest of the world on Monday again. Self-destructive s***.

But I fought this. I subconsciously kept it contained until class. A safe healthy creative outlet.

Breakfast with Christine.

Toasty warm room at school. Grey carpet -- grey sky -- comfy, warm. I felt good -- safe. Lights off. I realized as I lay down for relaxation that I had been holding on for this, waiting. Hang on, Sheila, hang on. Almost time for class. Lay down with an immense and happy sigh. Worked on Chekhov. Uncle Vanya. When I left class, my eyes were stuck far out of my face from tears. A day of breakthrough. Then class was over. I turned the faucet off. The flow was still behind it; I just closed the valve.

C and I went to Lincoln Center Library. On a music search. Found some German Christmas carols. Xeroxed "Stille Nacht" for Stephen. Still bruised in the lung area about him. Found "Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming". Made me think of being a little girl. Grandpa and his violin, Katy playing piano, harmonizing voices, my family.

I was so wiped out. Pale, drawn, wan. Went home. My poor face. I looked old. Shadowed. Lived-in.

Called Stephen to tell him not to go on a wild goose chase for "Stille Nacht". I had it. Long story, but Stephen has moved, hasn't got a new phone number, retains his phone at his old apartment, he still picks up messages there. So I called, not expecting him to pick up...He did, though, after three rings.

"Stephen? I totally didn't expect you to answer!"

"Well, actually--wow--it's kind of weird that I did--"

"Yes, it is!"

And he told me this long story about how weird it was -- me calling. I told him then, leaping right into my reason for calling, about "Silent Night". He was immensely grateful. I know I saved him a couple hours of hassle. "Thank you so much..."

I was all calm. Realistic. Voice of reason. "So you can see if it's right for you, the key and everything..."

Business out of the way, I could have quick-quick closed it down: "Okay, bye!" That would be a game. Also, he wouldn't let me. He said, "So ..... how are you?" He never asks it expecting a normal answer. He really means How are you? And I heard -- unspoken -- beneath his words -- the reference to my behavior the night before. Later: "Yeah, I asked because ... only because last night you seemed ... " Left unfinished. I didn't address it directly. I did not bring him into it. I'm not ready. That's not important to me. What I realized I wanted, which wouldn't have happened if he hadn't been there to answer the phone: I wanted to show him me. I wanted to talk to him about me. I'm not just this one thing. Please! If you're going to care about me at all, please try to see all of me ... Don't laugh me off.

We talked for an hour. It was mostly me. It soothed me. I let me out for him. He listened. Sympathetic silence on the other end...I told him what had happened to me at the Art Bar. My sadness. Getting lost afterwards. Getting upset. Making phone calls. Leaving him out of it, not mentioning ******. I don't know how I managed that, but I did. I told him about Chicago, about Jackie, Mitchell, what Chicago was about for me. How -- the me I am now did not exist before Chicago. He was learning my landscape. I have to be brave enough to show him my landscape ... And, of course, he was so wonderful. Kind, insightful, a good listener. We talked about happiness. How hard it is to trust it, get used to it...

During the Chicago section, re: friends -- he said, "You seem to be surrounding yourself with those kind of people now."

"I know what to look for now."

He laughed. Pushed a button in me. I said, "You laugh. But I'm serious."

He hastened -- clearly he remembered the exchange of the night before -- eager to explain it to me. It was clear he had thought about it. "That laugh, Sheila ... I don't know quite why I do that ... Sometimes I think it's a cynical laugh --" He told me about his family, how they laugh about painful events -- laugh like "I can't believe we got through that." "So I think that's part of it. But with you – it's more of a recognition thing. Do you know what I'm saying? You say stuff so often that I recognize, and that's where that laughter comes from."

Good answer. It was honest, brave, self-reflective. Just what I needed to hear.

All in all, a great talk. I wasn't just the well-adjusted confidante I have become to him. I was me. Lying on my couch. Told him about E's class. Told him everything.

"So, Sheila--" (pouncing) "You -- went to E's class -- with all of this stuff going on -- and you picked to work on something that would directly deal with this stuff?"

"Yes." It made sense to me, but it blew him away. He could not believe it. "Sheila! Do you realize how courageous that is? How brave you are?" Suddenly I started to cry. He kept going: "To know yourself that well -- to be able to orchestrate a catharsis like you did today -- I think it's incredible."

I hadn't seen it that way at all. It seemed totally logical, the only way I wanted to deal with my emotions. But he thought it was an amazing and brave application of our work. Maybe it was. I liked his admiration. It was unexpected. It was needed. The whole talk -- out of the blue -- helped me gain a bit of perspective, etc., etc. I never would have called, either, if I thought he would be there. I only called because I knew for certain a machine would pick up.

So. It was ... what's that word ... "manna" for my troubled soul. This friendship, at least, is not in my head.

He called me glamorous again. He thinks I'm glamorous, which is so hysterical to me.

"But, Sheila, you're so glamorous!"

This cracks me up. I said, "Yeah, me in a T-shirt and leggings!"

He said, "It has nothing to do with that. Your glamorous-ness comes from your dignity."

Hm. Layers peeling away. So interesting to see how you are seen. Stephen's words for me: "Glamorous." "Dignified." "Happy." "Accepting." "Well-adjusted." "Can't be pinned down."

I thought about what he said, and I said, "Too much dignity."


And you know what? He got it. A pretty oblique statement. He heard what I was saying. He heard what was going on underneath. Kudos ... He repeated it. "Too much, huh? ... Yeah." ...

The bruised feeling left a little bit, through the talk. A connection made. A deeper level reached. Which is what, in actuality, I was yearning for all along. I hadn't realized. It helped. He helped. I told him so.

For some reason, the blip of the Art Bar changed me, left me off at a different place. Even as I hung up with Stephen, I felt different. I didn't hang up and think, "Oh, good, back to where we were ... things are normal again..." It had illuminated to myself the depth of my need -- how close to the surface ******* is for me, as much as I don't deal with it, but it's there. Ready to swarm back into my heart if I let it. I can't forget this. ...

I feel like I have a grip on myself now. I see some of my workings. I let Stephen in. God, I needed to. I was not into the dynamic that had developed. Somehow, it chilled me out about the result -- as in: What is our relationship? Does he have a crush on me? Blah blah. That seemed less important.

Hung up.

That night. Despite my exhaustion (I still felt like crawling into bed and not emerging for the whole weekend) I went out with Ted. His friend Adam (high school friend - who is a clown. I mean, a Ringling Bros. clown) had a birthday party.

Drizzly night. Met Ted at Adam's girlfriend's apartment by Carnegie Hall. She is Italian, thick accent, black velvet top, beautiful woman -- casually making mounds of incredible food. She has that European self-possession and sexuality, etc.

Walking there from 59th -- through the drizzle -- all the NY icons in my face -- Radio City -- Carnegie Hall -- Russian Tea Room -- lines to get into Planet Hollywood of all places.

Good to see Ted. Catching up.

Adam: so sweet, demonstrative, child-like, funny. Commented on my "Vamp" nail polish immediately, and gave me a kiss. People arriving.

A group of us went ice skating at Wollman Rink nearby. Ted had brought his ice skates in a blue and green plaid skate-case. We walked there. Drizzle.

Ice skating! I haven't ice skated since I was 13 or 14, I believe. With Meredith. At Potter's Pond, near my house.

The rink was crowded. Hispanic teenagers, all done up! -- like Ocean Skate -- the teenage mating dance -- insane whizzing skaters -- reckless -- fabulous -- loud pounding silly music -- crowds, chaos, stimulus -- New York -- Central Park at night.

Joining the throngs -- bright blue skates -- Nervous! Leaping in, whizzing throngs -- would they run me down?

Ted and I skated together, holding hands. Is that the sweetest thing in the world? He took a spill once, and so I had to fall as well. I got confident pretty quick. Kept my balance.

Exhilaration.

My friend Ted and I. Holding hands, drizzle coming down, skating on a frozen rink, under the black city sky, MUSIC -- crazy Hispanic teenagers, lots of mating going on, guys peacocking by, skating like maniacs, strutting their stuff for the giggling black-lipsticked girls.

Ted and I skated around, talking about [Lee] Strasberg. I really wanted to talk about Lee. Why is he such a dirty word? Why is he so unmentionable? It seems so unfair. Discussion, as we skated, of acting teachers, and how their methods of teaching come out of the kinds of actors they were. Meisner, Stella -- their versions of "the Method" served the kinds of actors they were.

Talk talk talk. As we circled the crowded ice, drizzle spotting our glasses, the words flowing, freely, happily. Interesting, emotional. FUN.

I was so glad I went. It was really wonderful. I was glad I wasn't home curled up in bed, nursing my wounds.

Then we the skaters went back to the party. Aching ankles. Felt fabulous. Raining harder. The bedraggled disheveled group headed back to the apartment, where Paola waits -- beautiful, serene, sexy -- cooking -- the perfect hostess. Lots of people arriving. Gifts piling up. Adam juggled (literally) everything in the room.

Ted and I only knew each other, so we drank wine, ate Italian pizza and delicious stuffed zucchini, sat in a corner and talked about music and da capo and arias and David Hobson and his music workshop (Ted's) -- maybe done at my school -- his friendship with Adam, me and men, what I felt I had discovered during the day -- My question to Ted: How do you casually be interested in someone? How do you not care how it turns out? Lots of talk about this.

Then -- cheesecake. Phenomenal tiramisu made by Paola. Little white-haired girl at the party, so CUTE. A big man (her father) with a laugh so much like Bobby's laugh (the laugh you never would expect to come out of Bobby). Ted and I gasped at the sound, and Ted's eyes filled up with tears. Wild! Both of us getting a vivid sense of Bobby, in the same moment, hearing that man's laugh.

Gift-opening. Adam, clearly, is such a wonderful person. Openly surprised and happy with every gift. Balancing each one on his nose, after opening it.

Another sensation crawled in after the dessert. I believe it was past midnight, and -- it was a sensation I haven't had in a long time. It's very specific. It was late. Way past my bedtime. I had had a very long and totally draining day, with a lot of things to do, and I couldn't wait to go home and go to sleep, but (and here's the key): I wasn't in any kind of panicked rush to get home, as in: "Oh my God, I have to get up in 5 hours!" or "I have ten things to do tomorrow!" I had not ONE thing to do, except read Marlowe's Dr. Faustus. I didn't have to set my alarm. This is the ultimate in decadence and luxuriousness these days. (Appropriate for a glamour-girl like me.) And I was happy, in a way, to put it off a little bit, put off the pleasure of getting into bed and SLEEPING IN.

Sleepy on the subway. Stopped at the 24 hour store to buy some coffee for the morning. Then went to sleep. Oh, the sleep. Woke up at 10:15. Unbelievably decadent. Made coffee. Sat around with Bren and Maria. Coffee coffee. Grey skies outside. Sammy the cat having trouble adjusting. Sat on my bed, reading, writing, talked to Liz and Brett.

Then -- took a long run. Hooray for Sheila. I haven't taken a run in months. Chilly day. Grey. Crispy leaves. Grey streets, grey skies. B52's on the walkman. Ran north. Ran up to see the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Ran down 110th, waiting for my first glimpse. Saw what I thought was it -- smaller than I pictured -- Maybe it was the rectory -- because then, as I ran further, the full magnitude of the damn cathedral was revealed to me. It literally took my breath away. The SCOPE! It is so TALL. It dominates the sky. Not to mention 5 city blocks.

Ran around the cathedral. Stopped to gape and gawk and gasp. That rose window -- the DOORS! -- the steps -- all so massive and beautiful and vibrant -- lots of people -- awe-inspiring.

I ran for about 45 minutes. It ended up being such a healthy weekend. Getting the toxins out. I surprised myself. My own sense of self-preservation still surprises me. Taking a run was the best thing I could have done. I have much better endurance now. Ran down Amsterdam -- down West End -- back up good ol' beautiful quaint Riverside Drive -- deserted, huge wind to fight against -- up-- up -- up -- drenched in sweat. The B52s tape reminding me of days gone by. Chicago. Golden Boy. Running on the lake. Playing pool with *******. All of those images resurfacing ... through the music.

Came home. Read Dr. Faustus. Painted my toenails. VAMP.

A very very full 2 1/2 days.

Every day is full.



  contact Sheila Link: 4/11/2003 08:29:00 AM



 
HEY, HAS ANYONE SEEN MY QUAGMIRE?

At least 5 or 6 times today I have read the words, from people who have been anti-war and doomsday-predictions all along: "We always knew we would win this war ... but..." (always the "but", always the "but").

But I'm more interested in the first part of the sentence. "We always knew we would win..." WE DID? What about all your yammering about quagmires, the Arab street, another Vietnam, another Mogadishu, oh and did I say the word "quagmire"????

Also: from my side of the fence, the conservative side, nobody is saying the word "win" yet. There was a day of celebration yesterday, yes. But nothing has been "won" yet. It was a happy day, worthy of taking the pause. But now ... back to work.

"We always knew we would win..." This from the pundits who have been spouting "quagmirequagmirequagmire" for weeks now. These are probably the very same pundits who were blithering about the "brutal Afghanistan winter" in 2001, a winter which turned out to not be so bad after all. These people basically do not know how to handle good news. They do not know how to say: "Hmmm. I think I was a little bit off there in my predictions."

Read the columns of Roger Ebert or other movie reviewers after Oscar night. All reviewers make predictions. That's part of the game. And then the follow-up columns are filled with sentences like: "Well, I underestimated the Academy on that one ... " or "That one certainly was a surprise!" or "What were they thinking?? How could so-and-so have been overlooked?" They know they are not God. They know that predictions are only guesses. Just guesses, that's all. And then you get to come clean afterwards. And say: "Yay!! I predicted that one!" or "Whoops. I was WAY off on that one."

I suppose my wish for these pundits to come out and say, ""We were a little bit off on the whole 'quagmire' thing" is my version of living in a fantasy land.

Also, I can't get it out of my head that this is FAR from over. I am not partying like it's 1999, because ... what the hell now? Who is going to govern Iraq? How will we help? How will we keep this thing moving in a positive way? I took April 9, 2003 as a moment to be GLAD, to be HAPPY, to rejoice in other people's happiness. That was what it was. Now let's keep moving.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 05:40:00 PM


Thursday, April 10, 2003  

 
"THE BEST DAY OF THEIR LIVES"

Ham-Fisted Theatrics, my new favorite blog, has an entry today worth reading. Lovely stuff, with a beautiful picture of smiling little Iraqi children. Children to clutch at your heart-strings! My favorite quote in the post is: (he's describing the scenes on the streets of Baghdad ... the joy, the hope, the smiles, and he concludes with:)

...if that doesn't make you happy in the least, I'm afraid I don't want anything to do with you.


There are tough days ahead. Tough days filled with challenges, struggles ... more people will die. The war continues. What now? What will Iraq look like a year from now? The decisions and choices we make in the coming days will be a large part responsible for the answer to that question. A weighty responsibility. One which we must not turn away from. These are tough days. We have to stay strong, keep our eye on the ball. Ain't nothing about this that is, has been, or ever will be, a "cakewalk".

But surely we can rejoice when we see prisons emptying of children? Surely we can feel vicariously the exhilaration? Knowing, still, that we have to keep going ... and not stop NOW ...




  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 05:10:00 PM



 
BULL(S***) DURHAM

Okay, so here's the background, in case you have been living in a basement for the last 24 hours, with no access to news:

"Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have struck out with the Baseball Hall of Fame. Their vocal antiwar stance has prompted organizers at the Cooperstown shrine to cancel a 15th anniversary celebration of Bull Durham that was to have included the movie's costars and director."

Okay, fine. Sarandon and Robbins live in a free country, can use their celebrity in any way they see fit. But the public, who also live in a free country, can support or reject these people with their pocket books. This is how our country works.

But anyway, Robbins made the following statement: (well, one among many statements ... he wrote a letter to the Hall of Fame, in which the following hyperbolic There-is-only-one-right-answer sentence appeared: You belong with the cowards and ideologues in a hall of infamy and shame):

Here's the statement which really stood out for me, though, breathtaking in its hypocrisy:

"I am sorry that you have chosen to use baseball and your position at the Hall of Fame to make a political statement. I know there are many baseball fans that disagree with you, and even more that will react with disgust to realize baseball is being politicized."

WHAT? Dude, please listen to yourself. Insert the word "acting" and "your celebrity status" for "baseball" and "your position at the Hall of Fame", and you will see what I mean. You make political speeches at the Oscars, you make political speeches every time anybody puts a microphone in your face ...

I, Sheila, am not a celebrity. When I walk outside, people do not come running up to me with microphones to hear what I think about things. I do not have a platform for my views besides this blog. YOU DO. And you USE it. Good for you. Whatever! If I were a celeb, I probably would mouth off my views too. But, Tim, ADMIT that that's what you're doing, and that there is NOTHING different between you and the Hall of Fame folks.

You are not an elected official. You are not a politician. You are an ACTOR. I did not go into the ballot booth and choose you as my mouthpiece. I did not say: "Hmmm. I need to hear what he says about every single topic." You have chosen to use your celebrity status to make political statements. Many celebs do NOT go that route, and don't "politicize" their roles as celebs. You do. Sometimes you are applauded for it, and sometimes you pay a price.

That's the deal. Suck it up. Be a man about it. Take your punches. That's the deal.

[Oh, and by the way, I should confess: I loved "Bull Durham". Have seen it multiple times, and think it is terrific.]

  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 04:16:00 PM



 
ADD THIS TO THE FILE

of self-righteous women who presume to speak for all women everywhere, who assume that only motherhood makes you a true woman, who assume that being a woman and being a mother makes you right about most things, women who assume that all women HAVE to be antiwar, otherwise you are not really an authentic woman ... women who are literally CONFUSED by Laura Bush. Or confused by their "sisters" who do not agree with them.

"How can she ....? But ... wait a minute ... she's a woman, she's a mother, and yet ... WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE???" It ... truly disturbs them. They cannot get past their own egos, their own "motherhood is sacred" egos to even consider the possibility that MAYBE there MIGHT BE another way to look at this.

I'm not saying motherhood isn't sacred, or isn't one of the most important things on the planet. Of course it is. Of course it is! I am just saying that being a mother doesn't automatically mean you're a Democrat, a liberal, a peacenik, or anti-war.

I love Juan Gato's piece, taking apart the "trek for truth" woman. The woman crossing the country in search of truth. (Juan's comment: As with most of these people, she claims to be seeking truth, but she is pretty damn sure that she's already found it. )

These women are unable to take the leap of: "Well. Okay. Hm. Let me put on my deductive reasoning cap. I am a woman and I am a mother and I am against war. Fine. I am entitled to feel this way. But Laura Bush is also a woman and also a mother and she is not against this war. So ... THEREFORE: all women are not against this war."

It's when people get completely baffled and thrown OFF by the fact that someone disagrees with them (and not just "someone" but someone who is similar to them) ... that the thin-ness of their beliefs becomes apparent to me. I get that response all the time being, as I am, a female actress living in NYC. People looking at me like I have two heads. People treating me like I'm stupid, and I CAN'T be serious to hold the beliefs I do. People who can't even get into a REAL discussion with me about it, because they literally have never met ANYBODY who has a belief different from theirs.

I'm a bit hot around the collar at the moment, forgive me.

I cannot stand the sort of bleary-eyed "women are peaceful creatures who love dialogue, and who are all mothers and maternal beings..." argument. It's lazy. It makes me sick. It makes me mad. I'm a woman. I am not a mother. I HAVE A BRAIN IN MY HEAD. I MAKE MY OWN CHOICES.

Juan picks apart trek-for-truth woman's words better than I ever could (her words are italicized, in the block quotes - all else is his commentary):

Does she care about the mothers who live in fear of terrorist shitheads targeting their children?

I'm a mom who's had enough, and I want my voice --all mothers' voices -- to be heard.

She's a mom, dammit, nothing more and don't you dare suggest otherwise! And she's going to have all mom's voices heard because all moms think alike and those who don't are inauthentic so they don't actually count as real mothers.
I will be talking with many mothers, collecting questions and comments to present to Laura Bush. I want to know how she can support the horrors her husband is perpetrating in our world.
See? Laura Bush is an inauthentic mom. And yesterday was filled with horror for the world. Well, the world that fears freedom.
How can she justify the President spending (and withholding) billions of dollars to intentionally kill children and destroy water and sewage treatment plants, education systems, and health program facilities throughout the world?

"Intentionally": With the specific intent to. In that statement she is saying that Bush specifically wants to target and kill children. No mention of a man who had a prison specifically for children, or who hoarded food and medicines and built opulent palaces as they suffered. But I'm sure if Saddam wasn't so busy being all dead and stuff, she'd stop by and give him what for and maybe even five.
As a mother, educator, librarian, and the First Lady of the wealthiest nation in the world, how can she support -- through apathy and neglect -- the same destruction in this country?

Hey, check it out! The condition of people and The Children(TM) in the US is just as bad as in Iraq. At least Bush is being multilateral about his unilateral killing of The Children(TM). But she's just a mom, and I'm, well, not. So I guess she's right. She knows truth better than I do.






  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 02:07:00 PM



 
EMILY BLOWS OFF SOME STEAM

If you're not into righteous raging anger, or if rage makes you uncomfortable, then don't read the following post by Emily, the wonderful Hawk Girl. I, however, AM into righteous raging anger, and loved every damn word. She puts The Guardian in its place. She is furious. And rightly so.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 01:10:00 PM



 
Read this and get angry. I could barely get through it. Seeing red.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 01:01:00 PM



 
I'm no military-woman, I am not a tactical coordinator, I have never been to war. But the following tactic (not taken by Saddam and his army) seems obvious to me: Here's a hypothetical:

I am the leader of a threatened regime. I know that a massive enemy army is shrieking towards the capital city of "my" country, the capital city where I am now in hiding. I have been pumping out propaganda throughout the struggle saying things like: "Don't you dare enter the city. If you enter the city there will be hell to pay. If you enter the city, the armies of the righteous will rise up and chase you out. All bets are off if you dare to enter my sacred city." So ... hmmm ... what would be a good move then? Perhaps ... taking down all the bridges leading into the city??? Would that perhaps be a smart thing to do?

DOH

Saddam Hussein is a not a warrior. He is not a leader. He is not a smart man, with a smart army, trying his best to defend his territory. Otherwise, he would have bombed all of his own bridges ... Baghdad, the city of a million bridges. Saddam Hussein could not (or would not) even organize his own people, to put up even a pretense of defense. Did it even cross his mind that that would be a good idea? Did he have any interest in an ACTUAL fight? Or ... what the hell was he thinking?

Was he lulled into the thought that Allah would protect him?

He has been so cut off from the real world for so many years, an international pariah, (self-inflicted), that he is unable to grasp the simplest of realities. We in the US are told over and over and over and over again that we must try to understand our enemies. One of the major lessons of Vietnam. Our soldiers went over to Vietnam with no understanding of what that fight was all about, who the Vietnamese really were, what their real beliefs were, if there was any support on the ground at all for our war over there ... So we learned that lesson well. We had incredible intelligence from Iraq (helped, of course, by the Iraqi National Congress.) We went in there with a pretty good feeling that once the people knew Saddam was gone they would be happy to see us. We had a pretty good sense about that, because we had invested time and energy in understanding the "enemy."

Saddam Hussein (and other Arab leaders) clearly have no interest in "understanding" us.

Anyway. The real point of this post is that Saddam Hussein is either stupid or dead. Otherwise, he would have dismantled all of those bridges, throwing roadblocks in the way of our advance.

No wonder many Arabs are embarrassed. "Where was the big fight? Where was all the resistance? Where is Saddam??"


  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 12:49:00 PM



 
I ADMIT IT

Early this week, James Lileks, in one of his bleats (the bleat which contained the brilliant sentence: The lesson of Mogadishu: don't draw any lessons from Mogadishu), said:

It reminded me again of an interview I heard a few weeks ago with the CEO of some big Middle-eastern Internet company; he said that Arabs hate the US because of the oppressive governments we support. The host asked if people were pleased when the Taliban was deposed, and he said of course not - the US was attacking a Muslim nation!

At some point the entirety of the American Street's reaction to Arab concerns will be: whatever.


I admit that I have pretty much reached that "whatEVER" point. Especially when I read stuff like this.

When a regime or an ideology is based primarily on fantasy (again: I am re-reading Viktor Klemperer's amazing journal of the Nazi regime years, and so much of the public dialogue in Germany at the time was pumped-up fantasy, no connection to reality, inflated numbers of people at rallies, fear-mongering, etc.): I don't feel like I have an obligation to listen to them in any serious way. It is time to join the real world. There is so much to contribute, so much good that can be gained. Get your heads out of the ideological sand, and join the positive struggle.

WhatEVER.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 12:40:00 PM



 
COMPILATION...

WSJ's "Best of the Web" compilation for yesterday. A good re-cap.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 11:37:00 AM



 
LOVE MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU'RE SORRY....

That's the dumbest thing I ever heard ...

(via Little Green Footballs)

  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 11:06:00 AM



 
A REMINDER...

from Wunderkinder.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 10:48:00 AM



 
VANITY FAIR

This month's Vanity Fair, with Hugh Grant on the cover, has an in-depth terrifying article about Saddam Hussein's two sons. Uday, of course, is the more well-known one ...but both men are nuts. They have no contact with the outside world ... or, they did at one time (thanks to France and Germany), but as the regime became more and more xenophobic, and after the assassination attempt on Uday, (and who patched him up? He was flown to France and worked on there. Remember: Uday is a murderer. A thug. A dictator-in-training.) they rarely left Iraq. Too upsetting and weird to be faced with people who don't have to kiss your ass at every moment. Better to stay in Iraq where everyone is sufficiently deferential and terrified. These people are nasty.

The article gives detail about events only hinted at elsewhere: Saddam killing both of his daughters' husbands ... after luring them back into the country. To people who equate Saddam and Bush; PLEASE get a frigging grip. When Pres. Bush KILLS the boyfriends of his twin daughters, THEN I will consider having a conversation with you about the similarities between the two men. But until then, it is not worth it to even argue about it.

The entire article is an indictment on this now-on-the-run regime. It's also an indictment of the boneheads in the West who blither about "letting the Iraqis choose for themselves", and "the Iraqi right to self-determination". Uh: YES.. Exactly. The whole point is that the Iraqis COULDN'T choose for themselves. Jesus Christ: when your world view is so blinkered that you cannot comprehend evil, you are in big trouble. Because 'evil" does exist. Tyranny does exist. People without a shred of human kindness do exist. You could "bomb with love" from here to kingdom come and they will still be power-hungry tyrannical dictators.

Anyway. Gotta go now, out into the freezing cold morning. It's April and it's 30 degrees outside. That ain't right.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 09:03:00 AM



 
Watched the news all last night. There was an elderly grey-haired man, wearing a robe, holding a poster of Saddam, and smacking against Saddam's face with a sandal. The man was yelling something, but he also had a huge smile on his face. They kept showing this image. It moved me very much. I was a blubbery mess watching the coverage.

I agree with Andrew Sullivan's first point today: The war is not over yet. We must guard against "hubris and over-confidence". Yes. I agree. But on the flipside: I am glad that there was at least one "free" day of celebration for Baghdad. That they got to participate in such an event ...knowing that the world was watching.

And for me -- personally -- I am glad that my views are such that I was able to watch the footage and rejoice with the Iraqi people. I am glad that I have been following this "story" not just since September 11, but way before that. I am glad that I hold the views that I do. I am glad glad glad that I was not one of the many people who watched that footage last night and had a tepid response. Or a cynical response. I don't know WHAT would move such people.

I am glad that I watched the footage of Marines rolling into town, with Iraqis running alongside the tanks, cheeriing and laughing ... and felt that "all was right with the world". I was not baffled by it, or confused as to why the Iraqis were happy to see us. I was not bummed out that the mythical Arab street didn't rise up to repel us. The Arab street DID rise up, only they rose up in joy and welcome... rather than anger.

Anyway. This whole thing clearly is not about me, and the particular filter through which I see events, but still: I am glad I hold the views that I do. I am glad that I was able to enjoy yesterday, enjoy the footage, cry tears of happiness, hold hope in my heart.

No "hubris" or over-confidence. Just one day of joy. One day of celebration and thankfulness. One day of rampant wild self-expression. Glorious. Everybody deserves to have that, at least for one day!

I am glad that my views on things, on the world situation, did not set me up to be bummed OUT when something good happens. I know there are many people right now who are bummed out that the Iraqis looked so psyched, looked so pro-American, kissed pictures of President Bush,for God's sake! There are many people, US citizens included, who will find these images to be a nightmare. They want nothing more than to see Bush humiliated, brought down ... even if it meant the continuing misery of the Iraqi people.

Well. Too bad for you all, that you can't enjoy the happiness and relief of others. Too bad.

There is work to be done. It's not over yet. But yesterday was a beautiful day,and I'm glad I was one of the people over here able to enjoy it.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/10/2003 08:37:00 AM



 
RANDOM SAMPLINGS

The rain pours down in Manhattan. I feel very far away from the important events. Especially since I am away from my television. Here are some pieces I have come across in my wanderings today throughout the blogosphere, which I want to post:

"Killer Chick" - great little piece on BuzzMachine

Photo on the great weblog One-Hand Clapping. (Found via LGF)

Arab Media Confront the 'New Rules of the Game' - Washington Post: amazing look at what the Arab media is going through

Buzz Machine on Michael Moore's latest idiocy

Tim Blair: "I shouldn't be so happy" . I love Tim Blair.

Which "smoking gun" would you like? More from Buzz Machine

Amish Tech Support: A rant. Look out.

Allison of An Unsealed Room: "We need law."

ESPN: Jocks to GIs (I got totally sucked into this today. Very heart-warming stuff. Celebrity "jocks" like Tiger Woods or Shaqille O'Neal are pen pals with soldiers over in the Middle East - their correspondences posted here ... Terrific stuff.) -- found this one via The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler

Two Thousand Words, from Wunderkinder

Iranian Girl says "The tyrant is finished". (Permalink isn't working.)

A triumphant note from Little Green Footballs.

Kiss (found, again, on One Hand Clapping) With all of the phenomenal images we have seen today, toppling statues, dancing people, looting maniacs ... this quiet little moment is my favorite.

Great photo essay on Michael Totten's blog entitled "The Happiest Day of their LIves" (found via One Hand Clapping)

More amusing anti-war protest signs from the ever-amusing Jim Treacher (again, via The Blogs of War)

Kurds - an incredible photo from Yahoo News

Water, water, water everywhere and not enough to drink

With photos like this about, I just pray: that we stay strong, and stay firm ... and don't let these people down again

The people who are painting swastikas over the American flag are ... well. I don't want to call them names. Really all I can say is that they are DEEPLY un-serious. I am sure they feel like they are extremely serious, but they are not. They are not worth the energy it takes to deal with them. (An ungrammatical sentiment, but true.) Look at this face.

An open letter to America's soldiers - this one made me cry.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/09/2003 04:17:00 PM


Wednesday, April 09, 2003  

 
"MEATHEAD" MY ASS

Here is a piece linked to off The Command Post about the 82nd Airborne's beginning attempts to help re-build Iraq, starting one town at a time.

What really struck me about this article is the following:

the men and women in our armed forces know what they are doing over there. I don't just mean that they are good at their jobs, although that is clearly true as well. I mean that they understand the nature of the mission. Probably better than many of us over here do. Unlike the soldiers who fought in the Vietnam war, where the mission wasn't clear, nobody knew (or cared) who the enemy was, and nothing the soldiers did seemed to make any difference anyway. Here: the mission is clear. Our forces have clearly been trained so well, with an emphasis on being "sensitive" to other cultures ... These are not dumb un-thinking "meatheads" looking to kill some Arabs, because they, as men, and part of the patriarchy, get a thrill out of blood and violence. Stupid. Stupid. Anyone who thinks that has never met an articulate thinking compassionate soldier.

Here are some quotes from this article, but it is worth it to read the whole thing:

Now that they have thrown out Saddam Hussein's administration, the residents expect the soldiers to help. The town's administrators are gone, the power and water services are not working, and there is no police force or court system.

The 82nd's leaders want to do what they can without compromising their primary mission, which is protecting the supply line from enemy fighters still holding out in pockets across southern Iraq. They say they want to do little things to make life better for residents, but they are careful not to make promises they won't be able to keep.


This quote, too, from Chief Warrant Officer Rick Bedell"

"We are a novelty," said Bedell, a 41-year-old from Bridgeport, Conn. "They have never seen an American before. Whatever we do will be a direct reflection on every American."


Yes. A sense of responsibility and perspective. Any time I meet anyone from another country, I definitely have the sense that, indirectly, I have become an American embassador. Anything I do will reflect on Americans as a whole. So I was very relieved to hear him say that. Also relieved when the US Flag, which had been draped over Saddam Hussein's head, was removed. (By an American officer, not an Iraqi. The officer had the good sense to understand that this was not the best way to celebrate the liberation of Baghdad.) Good. That is not what we are doing there. No.

And here, another quote, showing perspective, and a sense of responsibility:

Lt. Col. Eddie Rowe, the executive officer of the 82nd's combat team, headed the American delegation at the meeting with seven elders on Monday.

The elders and the military officers sat on the floor in a circle on ornate Persian rugs. Young men served tea and provided pillows for the officers.

Abd, the mayor, said the town's top priorities were the restoration of the electrical and water system and continued protection by U.S. forces.

He said that while residents were happy to have Americans in the town, they were afraid U.S. forces would leave with promises unfulfilled. In 1991, the United States urged Iraqis to rise up against Saddam but did not back the revolt. The rebels were put down by the remnants of Saddam's army. Some Rumaythah residents were executed. Elders were imprisoned.

"We have to work to win their trust," said Capt. Tom Matulski, a civil affairs soldier working with the 82nd. "We can't make promises we can't keep."


So essential. So essential. Very glad to hear that as well.


  contact Sheila Link: 4/09/2003 01:32:00 PM



 
APRIL 9, 2003

I am not near a television, dammit. Thanks to David for emailing me his impressions of what is going on visually. I feel out of it! I have no words to express what I feel. I am grasping for language. I feel tremendous hope. I am amazed at what is unfolding, even though all along I had a feeling that eventually this would be the result: Iraqis dancing in the streets. I also feel ... nervous. Like at any moment, something tremendously terrible is going to happen, amidst all the joy and hope. I am so proud of our troops (ours and our allies) that I feel my heart might burst. But I still am on the edge of my seat. The war is still going on. Do not relax. Do not let down your guard. Watch your back as you jump around celebrating. This is the most fragile time. Everything is very very delicate.

I saw a photograph of a small Iraqi boy handing a pink flower to a British soldier ... a silent image, telling an entire story. Cultures meeting, an oppressed people. I stared at the photo for 10 minutes, wishing I could crawl into it like Alice Through the Looking Glass. I want to be IN there. I am dissatisfied with how second-hand my experience is at the moment. I am shedding tears of ... joy, I guess. I don't know what to call the emotion. I am sure there is a word for it in another language, one word, but in English I need to describe it for a couple of paragraphs. My heart is full. That is the best I can do.

Can we (I mean, "we", in the uber-sense) handle our overwhelming power with humility, respect? Can we maintain our respect for those we have been sent to liberate? Because looking at all these photos, I believe in my heart of hearts (and not just believe, but KNOW) that the POINT of the mission, the underlying emotional push of this mission, has been respect for the Iraqi people. Respect for their right to live lives of dignity, respect for the fact that no human being, regardless of race, religion, whatever, chooses to live under a dictatorship.

I believe in the integrity of our soldiers. I believe that they know what they are doing. They are not "dumb meatheads" (someone I know recently referred to them as such). I snapped (I have zero tolerance for this shite): "HEY. Knock it OFF." (The person who said this person does not KNOW any of the so-called meatheads ... he has never MET any of the so-called "meatheads" ... Yet there he sat, up on his lofty little throne, calling them "dumb", assuming all kinds of things about their intelligence ... The worst kind of prejudice, in my opinion!) I will not tolerate that kind of small-minded prejudiced nonsense.You can bitch and moan about the military and the dumb meat-heads all you want, but certainly not in my presence. I won't stand for it. Buh-bye.

Again: My heart is full of feeling for the Iraqi people today. What must it FEEL like in Baghdad right now?? I can't even imagine it.

I just watch and wait. Feeling like my heart is pushing out of my chest.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/09/2003 01:10:00 PM



 
TOLSTOY'S QUESTION

I thought the coalition forces were supposed to be killing Iraqi children and we were supposed to be all concerned about the Iraqi children ... Iraqi children ... the Iraqi children ... the Iraqi children ... If that's the case, then what gives with this picture?

Doesn't quite fit into the little box of "what about the Iraqi children" now, does it?

Also: while we are on the topic of "the Iraqi children", how does concern for the Iraqi children not acknowledge the success of this? Children have been in jail for five years for not participating in the youth camps. Now they are free. Their parents falling to the streets in joy at seeing their children again. An eight-year-old ... in jail for four years? Excuse me? What kind of monsters are these people?

I myself dropped out of Girl Scouts at age 10 because I had no interest in spending my free afternoons making duffel bags and shell sculptures, and cooking up broth in the woods. I didn't like group activities, or organized play. That's fine. Girl Scouts wasn't my thing. I didn't go to JAIL for quitting the damn Girl Scouts.

Small children would still be locked up in prison if it weren't for coalition tanks rolling into town.

The feminists refused to celebrate when the Taliban crumbled and Afghan women peeked out from behind their veils to smile shyly at the cameras. If it's an administration you are against, then no matter what: you will not applaud the results. You will not even acknowledge that any success has occurred. You will paint it in black, you will look at it from a defeatist bitter standpoint. You will cloak yourself in cynicism. You will say idiotic things like Toni Morrison said, in the aftermath of 9/11: "We should bomb these people with love." Excuse me? Lovely idea, Toni: TELL ME HOW. You may choose to live in some fantasy-land, fine ... that's your choice. But tell me exactly HOW to "bomb the Taliban with love", and how that will remove the jackboot from the neck of Afghan women? TELL ME HOW. Sick of people spouting vague phrases, which sound smart, and fit on a bumper-sticker, but don't add up to an IDEA, or a PLAN, or what we should DO.

The Tolstoy question: "So what is to be done?"

Count how many times he uses that phrase in Anna Karenina, and you'll see what I mean. To my view, it is the only question that really matters. More so than "How do I feel about this?" Fine. You feel BAD about this. Fine. But then: what is to be DONE? All questions/concerns/opinions should lead to Tolstoy's question; otherwise, you are just sitting in your ivory tower ruminating on things, without allowing yourself to sully up your hands.

What is to be done? What is to be done?

These people moaning about the "Iraqi children" ... I just don't get it. They refuse to understand history if that is their position. Why haven't they been screaming about the plight of the Iraqi children for the past 12 years, or even longer? Children being tortured, raped, having to watch their parents being tortured, raped ...

There are those out there who have deplored the international sanctions placed on Iraq, because of the starving of Iraqi children. This has been a desperate humanitarian issue for many many years. Children are innocent. They don't get to choose where they live ... No child deserves that. No child deserves poverty. So I applaud the peace organizations for being concerned about the poverty-struck Iraqi children years before it was fashionable. However, with pictures like this about, and this, how soon will we hear the self-same voices acknowledging at the very least the limited success of this mission?

Iraqi kids are eating. They have water. They are smiling. The Marines guard the playgrounds, so that they can play in peace. They are no longer in PRISON for not going to the right CAMP.

I prefer to look at this as a resounding success. Just look at these faces again.


(via The Greatest Jeneration)


  contact Sheila Link: 4/08/2003 04:43:00 PM


Tuesday, April 08, 2003  

 
THE BOSTON TEA PARTY, FOX-NEWS STYLE

Okay, so this is hysterical. A look at how Fox News might have reported events throughout history.

The first one, Geraldo Rivera reporting on the Trojan Horse, made me laugh out loud. Ahhh. Funny people make the world go round.

Also: "Operation Liberation Carthage". HAHAHA One of the bullet points: Why Pax Romana is a good thing


  contact Sheila Link: 4/08/2003 04:22:00 PM



 
HAM-FISTED THEATRICS

Came across a new blog: Ham-Fisted Theatrics, via Tony Pierce ... I scrolled through it briefly, and came across a couple of comments which I wanted to link to. Mr. Ham-Fisted (who is a teenager) comes across an anti-war protest at The British Museum, he takes pictures, he states what he sees. Great stuff.

Love the following observations.

The young lady taking a bold stance on "Wars of Mass Destruction," despite the fact that this has been, so far, one of the least destructive conflicts in history to the civilian population (although granted, this was a couple days before the war started, and there was no way of knowing if Bush and Blair were just gonna go Wild Bunch on the motherfucker, YEE-HAW), is carrying a blanket. I later found out why. Apparently all these lone voices of reason in had gone and lied down in the Assyrian exhibit, near the museum entrance. Assyria, being, of course, where Iraq is today. They were supposed to be the civilian casualties we will no doubt inflict in our unilateralist oil thirst. Why they haven't been lying down in the Assyrian exhibit to protest the purposeful killing of 275,000 Iraqi citizens from the modern-day Assyrian emperor is beyond me, but hey, let's not talk politics here. What I love is that she brought her blankie. I want to show my solidarity for the helpless Iraqi people crushed beneath the wheels of imperialism, I want to feel their pain. But museum floors are so cold and Mummy says I must have proper lumbar support.'


And then this pointed comment, which made me want to shout YES at my computer screen in agreement:

I like the fact that if you "show solidarity" for imaginary Iraqis by laying down on a quilt and then getting nicely asked to leave by the cops, you're brave, but if you put your life on the line to feed, clothe, and free real Iraqis, you're a murderous bully.


Another kindred spirit found out in the blogosphere.

In addition to the comments about the protest, he takes you through a tour of the British Museum, with photos, and a couple of his captions made me laugh out loud. Out Loud. At my desk. Scroll through the photos and look for the photograph of "Greek architecture". Hilarious. Hilarious.

His permanent-link feature isn't working so here's how you get there: Open up the blog, and scroll down a couple of entries until you get to the one entitled: Day 3 of London. The photo/caption I am talking about (Greek architecture) is the 8th one down. But the whole thing is worth reading.

He has such a funny voice, such a good eye for detail. Check it out.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/08/2003 03:01:00 PM



 
PERSPECTIVE

An article by John Keegan, the man usually described as the "premiere military historian" in the world at this moment. I read his seminal work The Face of Battle a while back. It's the reference point to everyone who will come after him. His most recent piece gives an uber-perspective of how this war has gone, as opposed to the tunnel-vision perspective of the embed reporters, or the biased perspective of the major media outlets.

Amazing how I have gotten swept away by the ups and downs of this thing, too ... and I don't trust the major news organizations at ALL.

So this article is very welcome to me. Read the whole thing. Interesting stuff.

(via The Daily Dish)

  contact Sheila Link: 4/08/2003 01:15:00 PM



 
RUMORS

I am scouring news outlets, trying to figure out the truth. I suppose even accredited journalists are doing the same thing right now, so I just have to watch. And wait.

New York is very grey today. Grey, with snow on the roofs. As my bus went over the causeway this morning, I glanced over ... The buildings all looked cold and dark grey, the water of the Hudson was flat and slate-grey, and the spire of the Empire State Building disappeared into the low white clouds.

Uhm ... it's April?

Saddam's dead. No wait, he's alive and well. Oops. Nope. He's dead. Uh ... hold on. There he is, kissing children in the streets. Well: NOW he is REALLY dead.

Again: I suppose all I can do is wait.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/08/2003 12:53:00 PM



 
KLEMPERER -- November, 1935

"Hitler said of those who fell at the Feldherrnhalle in 1923: 'My apostles'. Today at the triumphal and burial ceremonies, the word is: 'You have risen again in the Third Reich.' -- Further: The buildings in the 'capital city of the movement' are only a beginning. We are building 'a hall for 60,000 (thousand!) people' and 'the biggest opera house on the globe.' And all this in a bankrupt state. -- Religious madness and advertising madness. And always the lies accompanying everything. Hitler's thanks to the Stahlhelm, which has just been dissolved ...

On the 2nd we were at the Wenglers ... It once again made an enormous impression on me when they put on the radio and leaped from London to Rome, from Rome to Moscow, etc. The concepts of time and space are annihilated. One must become a mystic. For me radio destroys every form of religion and at the same time gives rise to religion. Gives rise to it twice over: (a) because such a miracle exists, (b) because the human intellect invents, explains, makes use of it. But this same human intellect puts up with the Hitler government."

-- Nov. 9, 1935

  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 07:04:00 PM


Monday, April 07, 2003  

 
KLEMPERER -- October, 1935

"Frau Kuhn unexpectedly here for a friendly visit. Preaches an 'unembittered' serenity of heart to me ... Even today one can still be a Nazi for idealistic reasons, without being a criminal or an idiot. I told her: She does not know what dreadful things are happening. I changed Lessing's words - Anyone who does not lose his reason over certain things has no reason -- into: Anyone whose heart remains calm today, has no heart. She departed stricken, she is truly a good person."

-- Oct. 5, 1934


"A new aspect of the language of the 3rd Reich to be considered: the character sketches of schoolchildren now being introduced, which contain an assessment of their suitability for the national community. Gusti Wieghardt tells us a teacher is said to have written of a 7year old Jewish boy, he 'shows all the characteristics of his race.' On the other hand a Catholic teacher at the Benno Grammar School is said to have credited a small Jewish boy with 'especially fitted for the community.' "

-- Oct. 19, 1935

  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 06:52:00 PM



 
KLEMPERER -- August, 1935

"The Jew-baiting has become so extreme, far worse than during the first boycott, there are the beginnings of a pogrom here and there, and we expect to be beaten to death at any moment. Not by neighbors, but by purgers who are deployed now here, now there as the 'soul of the people'. On the tram stop signs on Prager Strasse: 'Who buys from the Jew is a traitor to the nation', in the windows of small stores in Plauen sayings and verses from every century, pen and context (Maria Theresa, Goethe! etc.) full of abuse, in addtion, 'No Jews do we want, in our fair suburb Plauen', the Sturmer everywhere with the most ghastly race defilement stories, wild speeches by Goebbels -- acts of violence in many different places. -- Almost as wild, agitation against 'political' Catholicism, which is allying itself with Communism, befouls churches and maintains that it was the Nazis ... The feeling stronger every day for weeks now, it cannot go on like this much longer. And yet it does go on and on."

-- Aug. 11, 1935

  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 06:44:00 PM



 
KLEMPERER -- July, 1935

"The Jew-baiting and the pogrom atmosphere grow day by day. Der Sturmer, Goebbels' speeches ('exterminate like fleas and bedbugs!'), acts of violence in Berlin, Breslau, yesterday also here in Prager Strasse. The struggle against Catholics, 'enemies of the state', both reactionary and Communistic, is increasing. It is as if the Nazis were being driven toward and prepared to go to any extreme, as if a catastrophe were imminent ...

Eva said the latest Jewish snobbery was to sympathize with the Nazis. They spoke 'without hate' in fond memory of Thieme. I said, if I had the power, I would have him shot. Kaufmann said of someone or other in Jerusalem: he feels at home and yet previously 'had been as assimilated as you were, Herr Professor.' I replied: 'Were? I am German forever, German 'nationalist'." -- 'The Nazis would not concede that.' -- 'The Nazis are un-German.' "

-- July 21, 1935

  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 06:41:00 PM



 
KLEMPERER -- June, 1935

"...I have recently had the impression that many otherwise well-meaning people, dulled to injustice inside the country and in particular not properly appreciating the misfortune of the Jews, have begun to halfway acquiesce to HItler. Their opinion: If at the cost of going backward internally, he restores Germany's power externally, then this cost is worthwhile. Conditions at home can always be made good later -- politics is just not a clean affair."

-- June 20, 1935




  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 06:37:00 PM



 
KLEMPERER -- April, 1935

"...in every speech Rust [Minister of Education] emphasizes the overcoming of 'insipid intellectualism,' the precedence given to 'physical and character skills,' the interdiction on compensating for them with 'purely intellectual accomplisments,' 'racial' selection. -- At the psychiatric congress recently, it was said that only now was 'the Nordic child,' which previously had been put at a disadvantage to the Jewish child, whose intellect developed more rapidly, coming into its own.

Der Sturmer is displayed at many street corners; there are special bulletin boards, and each one bears a slogan in large letters: 'The Jews are our misfortune.' Or: 'Whoever knows the Jew, knows the devil.' Etc. When German assassins were recently sentenced to death in Kovno by the Lithuanians there were protest meetings everywhere. The proclamation of the Dolzschen group went: 'The world must see that the international Jewish rabble cannot provoke us to make war, but that surely we are "a single nation of brothers".' "

-- April 17, 1935

  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 06:34:00 PM



 
KLEMPERER -- March, 1935

"Hartnacke, Minister of Education, bad enough, but still an educated man, right wing rather than a Nazi, has been 'discharged'. Mutschmann is his own minister of education and a wild Nazi primary schoolteacher is his commissar. For how many more weeks will I keep my post? -- Hitler has proclaimed compulsory military service, the protests of the foreign powers are weak-kneed and they swallow the fait accompli. Result: Hitler's regime is more stable than ever ... In every aspect of the destruction of culture, Jew-baiting, internal tyranny, Hitler rules with ever worse creatures. Rust, the Reich Minister of Education, gave another speech today attacking 'insipid intellectualism.' "

-- March 23, 1935

  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 06:29:00 PM



 
KLEMPERER -- January, 1935

Klemperer continues to compile examples from the language of the Third Reich ... he refers to it in shorthand as LTI (Language Tertii Imperii).

"Language tertii imperii: Lutze's New Year message to the SA, Encyclopedically concealed threat to the SA. -- Our 'fanatical will' twice in a non-pejorative sense. Emphasis on believing without understanding. (1) 'fanatical engagement of the SA', (2) 'fanatical sense of commitment'."

-- Jan. 1, 1935


"Deepest depression, even deeper than in August at Hindenburg's death. The 90 percent vote in the Saar is really not only a vote for Germany, but literally for Hitler's Germany. Goebbels is surely right in that. After all there was no lack of information, counterpropaganda, free ballot. Presumably, when we talk about disaffection, we take our pipe dreams for truth and utterly overestimate the actual opposition. In the Reich too 90 percent want the Fuhrer and servitude and the death of scholarship, of thought, of the spirit, of the Jews. I said: Let's wait and see, whether, now that foreign policy is no longer important, the turn to the Right begins. I shall not admit defeat before Easter. But I do not believe my own words."

-- Jan. 16, 1935



  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 06:24:00 PM



 
KLEMPERER -- December, 1934

"Language of the Third Reich: The never ending wine offers rarely conclude with 'Heil Hitler,' usually 'with German greeting'. It is a discreet way of hinting at the German National views that they take for granted among their clients, professors and senior civil servants. On December 7 an offer by the 'Ferd. Pieroth'schen Wine Estates Management Burg Lagen bei Bingen am Rhein' concludes 'Yours most respectfully.' That is a heroic deed and a first swallow ..."

-- Dec. 16, 1934


"We talk about politics ... Only Eva is optimistic, I make an effort to be so. But everyone has the feeling that now, immediately after the Saar Plebiscite, 'something is going to happen'. Perhaps some government action, June 30 da capo (people say 'Reich murder week'), perhaps a move from the Right or from the Left ... Perhaps Hitler will be maintained by the Reichswehr and become its tool completely. No one feels certain of his own opinion. Everyone feels a need to exchange opinions, because nothing at all can be learned from the newspapers anymore. Most repulsive to me is the specific Jewish pessimism with its self-satisfied composure, the ghetto spirit reawakened. They're kicking us, that's just how it is. If we can just get on with business and if there's no pogrom. Rather Hitler than someone worse! ...

Kuhn too says: 'Who will it be, if Hitler is murdered?' He simply can no longer imagine anyone else, government without dictatorship. And of course a dictatorship would indeed be necessary during the time that constitutional organs of government were reestablished. Too complex. The belief in the stupidity of the people is spreading everywhere. -- Kuhn said, the National Socialists had undoubtedly done some good. I: The most terrible thing about them was that even the good they do is befouled by their mendacity. He agreed completely with that...

One of the two women in the Dante lectures, a private student eager for self-improvement: 'My brother in the SS...' -- 'What is your brother's profession?' -- 'None at all yet, he's a fifth former at Vitzthum Grammar School.' -- 'And why the SS?' -- 'He has to be part of something, every Tom, Dick and Harry is in the HJ, so in his mounted section he has his own horse and learns how to ride.' -- 'Is his heart in it?' -- 'Not a bit of it ... but he has to. Now they have been ordered not to go to church in groups. If at all, then individually, if they really want to.' "

-- Dec. 30, 1934

Getting rid of religion. Too much competition.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 06:14:00 PM



 
KLEMPERER -- October, 1934

"Language of the Third Reich: The Jelskis have frequently heard and read as a standard abbreviation: Blubo -- Blut und Boden (Blood and Soil)."

-- October 9, 1934


"Language of the Third Reich: Newspaper headline (the day before yesterday, Dresdener NN): 'Young people experience William Tell.' Experience, German spirit + the American missing article, telegram soul. -- I received a magazine with a swastika on the cover: 'The Care of the German Cat'. An essay on its usefulness by the Reich director, written in grand political style. The cat clubs are now a Reich association; only Aryans are allowed to join."

-- Oct. 30, 1934



  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 06:00:00 PM



 
MORE OF "I WILL BEAR WITNESS"

For those of you who are interested, I am going to continue to quote from this book (which I am now re-reading):

September, 1934
"Language of the Third Reich: Party Rally of "loyalty" in Nurnberg. Loyalty, of all things, after the revolt. Always have the cheek to claim the opposite. The Fuhrer: Order for a thousand years. Once more the fantastic number. Once more against 'irresolute intellectualism' ...

Goebbels' speech about propaganda. Propagana 'must not lie'. It 'must be creative.' -- 'Fear of the people is the characteristic feature of the liberal conception of the state.' We practice an 'active influencing' of the people 'complemented by a systematic long-term education of a people.' 'At certain times statesmen must have the courage also to do unpopular things. But the unpopular has to be prepared for in advance, and its presentation must be properly formulated, so that the people understand it...' (September 6, '34). On the eighth: 'We must speak the language the people understand. Whoever wants to talk to the people, must, as Martin Luther says, listen to what people have to say.'

Once again the Fuhrer appeals to 'heroic instincts.' The subordinate leaders emphasize once again: 'Adolf Hitler is Germany.'"

-- Sept. 11, 1934


"Mussolini said at the trade fair in Bari: The Italians regard our theories with supreme pity. They had a three-thousand-year-old culture, they had Virgil, when we were still without letters to write down our fortunes! -- Contempt for the barbarians! I would like to write a book: The language of the French Revolution, of Fascism, of the 3rd Reich. Basic idea: France altogether autochthonous, speech of Corneille's Romans, very reactionary language! Italy also almost entirely Latin, fasces! But nevertheless with American and Russian elements! Germany on the other hand: in every way entirely un-German, even in the gestural language, Romance, Russian, American. Except in the blood idea, in the animalistic therefore!"

-- Sept. 12, 1934


"Language of the Third Reich: When he spoke to youth in Nurnberg, Hitler also said: 'You sing songs together.' Everything is aimed at deafening the individual in collectivism. -- In general pay attention to the role of radio! Not like other technical achievements: new contents, new philosophy. But: new style. Printed matter suppressed. Oratorical, oral. Primitive -- at a higher level."

-- Sept. 14, 1934

  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 05:56:00 PM



 
AND FINALLY

Bagpipes in the desert

  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 01:59:00 PM



 
IMAGES

Came across a bunch of photo galleries at smh.com.au. Some stunning images from Iraq and Kuwait. Want to take a moment to thank Britain and Australia for standing beside us. We could not ask for better friends.

Statue of Saddam

Pitching camp for the night

1st Battalion Royal Irish Battle Group

USS Cape St. George

Sleeping soldiers

Iraqi woman

The Accidental Pigeon

Candy

These guys fascinate me

Priceless image

Lucky Michelle Marsh!

Little boy

Checkmate

Umm Qasr port

Pain, sorrow.

Gorgeous Iraqi children

Father and son

Soccer (incredible photo)

Patrol at Umm Qasr

The Arab tea ritual: I love this picture

Another photo from the impromptu Iraqi/British soccer game

Decisive Battle

Slingshot

Entering Basra

  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 01:24:00 PM



 
I guess it is time for me to venture out into the blizzard and begin my day for real.

My show closed this weekend (more on that later) and tonight: after work: I am going down to Dempsey's Pub to visit with my bartender sister. I haven't had time to do that in two months, so I am thrilled. I feel so out of touch with my siblings ... and ... it just doesn't feel right.

So ....after months of having every bit of my time scheduled, weeks in advance, I now have some breathing room.

This is a good and a bad thing! I suppose I can enjoy the free time for, let's say, two weeks or so ... but then it's time to get back to work. Plans, projects, developments ... all must be nurtured and watched over. I am happier when I am BUSY. I am more productive when I am BUSY.

Thanks to all of my beautiful dear friends and family who came to see my little play ... it meant the world to me to have you all there.

Mum, Dad, Bren, Siobhan, Liam, Lydia, Rachel, Kelly, Dan, Felicia, David, Ted, Michael, Rich, Sarah, Beth,Tom, Jeff, Marilyn, Eileen, Patricia, Michael G., Brooke, Maria, Jill, Brett, Liz, Jen, Barbara...And all of the people I don't know, who came up and talked to me about it afterwards, telling me how moved they were, how much it made them think, all that stuff. Thank you!!!

  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 11:18:00 AM



 
GERALD

My cousin Gerald is over in Iraq. I don't know where, exactly. He fought in the Gulf War as well. I haven't seen his sister, my cousin Brigid, in a while ... even though she lives in Manhattan, so I do not know what he is up to. He is a high-up guy in the military, had been the assistant to the head of NATO, speaks Turkish, all that. I saw the now-famous photograph of the big Marine, with glasses on, sitting on the ground, holding a little pink-clad Iraqi girl in his arms. The photograph reminded me of Gerald. Something in the face, the largeness of his frame.

Anyway. My thoughts and prayers are with Gerald every day. With his mother, watching and waiting from home, and all his brothers and sisters.


  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 10:54:00 AM



 
LILEKS

A terrific bleat today by Lileks. Damn, he's good.

He talks about those Bush = Hitler folks, too.

I heard again on the radio today a series of talk-radio callers who believed that Bush could be as bad as Hitler, and they all pointed to his unnerving combination of religious faith and willingness to use military power. It makes me laugh, really - one of my favorite clips I saved from the TiVo is some tall scary Iraqi guy in a uniform, replete with meaningless medals, insisting that God is on their side - and he’s waving an automatic rifle at the assembled journalists. Has the President ever done this?

Well, not literally, but metaphorically, he’s -

Whatever. I remember what Robin Williams, the intermittently amusing hairy-backed hyperbabbler, said last week about Bush: “He's like 'We have to get rid of dictators,' but he's pretty much one himself.”

If someone invaded America tomorrow, how many big public posters would they have to tear down? How many airports and hospitals and highways would they have to rename?

How many statues would they have to topple?


Take THAT.


  contact Sheila Link: 4/07/2003 10:44:00 AM


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