Category Archives: politics

Taking my guests for a ride – cab service in Albany

imageTuesday night we had a number of diners who were decompressing after Day 1 of the NYS Bar exam. It’s always interesting to meet and talk with young attorneys from literally around the world who are seeking credentials to practice in my home state. A table of six the other night really stood out in my mind. The group consisted of  Brazilians and Argentinians and they were full of life and appreciative of the hospitality we bestowed upon them. They loved our patio and enjoyed the cocktail of the month and our pasta special and it was great to witness their relaxation.

As they were departing Lark + Lily, they were talking about football. You know, soccer. I mentioned that Albany has a terrific soccer bar, Wolff’s Biergarten, and suggested that they might enjoy visiting there after the second day of the exam. One of the men quickly responded that he planned to come back to my place the next night – and he did, bringing four different test takers with him.

After their meal, we were talking together and they related some stories about their experiences taking cabs in Albany. If you’ve ever taken a cab around here, you know what’s coming next… They were completely shocked by the condition of the cab (“the car looked like it had been in a bad accident”), the rudeness of the drivers (“this is how we do it here. I don’t know what it’s like in your country”) and the practice of picking up passengers all around town (“I used my map app to confirm that we were going around in circles rather than directly to my hotel”). Yes, indeed, welcome to Albany, the Capital of New York State.

I agreed with their assessment and apologized for the wretched cab service available in my city. I noted that it is on par with what I would imagine would be present in a third world country. Laughing, they said that they represented 3 third world countries and that their service is far superior to ours. Wow.

When they were getting ready to leave, they asked if the Biergarten was nearby. Could they walk there? I explained that it was some distance from the restaurant and that the walk might be a little ambitious. Seeing the disappointment on their faces, I immediately made the sincere offer to give them a ride. Their disappointment changed to astonishment. “Really?,” they asked. Absolutely.

My friend, who had just arrived, and I piled them into the car and gave them the 10 minute tour of our city. We drove down Washington Avenue to State Street and then across Broadway, filling them on the architecture and history of what is a lovely, lovely city with shitty, shitty cab service. While I completely enjoyed giving them a ride (I’ve been the recipient of many kindnesses myself while traveling and was happy to return the favor), it sure would be nice if visitors and residents of Albany had available quality transportation. Until then, I’m just glad I have a station wagon.

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Observations, politics, Rant, Restaurants, soccer, travel, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Escaping with Breaking Bad

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Isn’t it pretty to think so?

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time or are acquainted with me in real life, you know I don’t watch a lot of television. I just don’t have time for sitting around, especially during the academic year, and really only justify indulging myself with a couple of hours of viewing when I’ve got a basket or two of laundry to fold. Except for last week, that is.

Last week I took solace in the ugliness of methamphetamine and drug cartels and the harsh desert landscape of America’s southwest. I fled our world of black people dying at the hands of police and police officers dying by the guns of black citizens. I successfully ran away from a truck filled with hatred at a time when dozens failed to make the very same escape. I avoided the ugly rhetoric of politics, complete with bigotry and racism and ignorance, by immersing myself in a society devoid of political parties. I chose, for more hours than I’d like to admit, to reside in a place that somehow, perhaps because of its very distance from my own personal reality, seemed safer than the world that I find myself currently living in.

Years after most Breaking Bad aficionados, I watched the series finale. Loose ends were tied up, comeuppance was dealt out, closure was achieved. It was satisfying.   I’m going to miss it.

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Filed under Europe, France, musings, Observations, politics, television, Uncategorized

Hatred & Heroes

floridaMonday night I attended a vigil at the NYS Capitol sponsored by the Capital Pride Center. The event, to honor the victims of Saturday night’s massacre in Orlando (not to be confused with previous massacres we’ve witnessed) was organized in the afterglow of Albany’s Pride celebration. How’s that for tragic  irony, people?

I gathered with a rainbow of diverse human beings – gay, straight, trans, bi, black, white, brown and yellow, all brought together to acknowledge a tragedy and take a stand. I can’t speak to what may have compelled the hundreds of other attendees to be present, but for me, it was a means of demonstrating that love and unity can triumph over fear and hate, even in dark days filled with uncertainty and sorrow.  There were flags and banners and candles that struggled to remain lit on a cool and windy evening and speakers who addressed the crowd to share their thoughts and feelings, each raw with grief and frustration. Aren’t we all at this point?

It seems that many people are interpreting this horrible event as an act of terrorism, but I’m not buying it.  The more we learn about the perpetrator, the more it seems that he maybe was a self loathing, repressed homosexual who decided to kill the part of himself that he hated – and take as many others with him.  Is that too much psychobabble?  I don’t know, honestly, but I do find it more plausible than his having been radicalized by Isis since there doesn’t appear to be any true evidence that he was involved with what is currently the Earth’s most hate filled organization.

While I won’t name the shooter in Saturday’s massacre, preferring to remember those who were gunned down, I have learned a new name that I won’t soon forget – Deborah Glick.  When this NYS Assemblymember spoke she didn’t point fingers at Muslims or Isis or even homophobes.  No, she railed against the NRA and the culture of guns in our society.  Glick matter of factly stated that if the deaths of 20 six and seven year-old elementary students didn’t change the gun possession laws in our country, the deaths of nearly 50 adults in a dance club wouldn’t either.  It was a heart-wrenching statement that brought me to tears and has committed me anew to speaking out about the civilian purchase and possession of assault weapons. She’s a new hero to me.

I’ve allowed my personal Facebook wall to become a  battleground between friends and former friends about the topic of gun control.  I say former friends because I’ve come to realize that there are people I have previously allowed in my life who are no longer welcome – not because our opinions differ, but because we are unable to have a civil conversation about topics upon which we disagree.  I just can’t invest my energy or time in debating with people who will not acknowledge that legally purchased weapons are indeed a problem in our country.  I’d rather devote my efforts to working for political candidates who favor stricter gun laws and maintaining a distance from the NRA and the influence they wield in our government.  How about you? What is the impact of our country’s most recent and deadliest on you?

 

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Politics and punishment – Hillary Clinton and Brock Turner

It’s been a pretty sobering week for me – and I own a wine bar. Watching Hillary Clinton march forward to claim the Democratic nomination has been difficult. Sorry, but I don’t like the idea of her being president. I don’t doubt her intelligence or experience, but her priorities will never be mine and I don’t believe that she represents me as much as she does Wall Street. I don’t trust her and I resent that the Democratic National Committee  effectively gave her the nod and failed to provide a level playing field for all candidates. Our political system is in crisis and electing Hillary Clinton will do nothing to correct that abysmal reality.

I don’t need or want to vote for Hillary because she is a woman, just like I didn’t choose to vote for Barack Obama (twice) because he was black. I cast my ballot for the person who I believe will work to improve the lives of the majority of Americans, you know, the 99%. There’s been nothing that Clinton has said or done that has impressed me and I’m seriously considering showing up at the polls in November and simply writing Bernie’s name in – or just not voting at all. It seems like this country needs a wakeup call, and a Trump presidency just might provide the best lesson in civics ever.

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A four-year sentence, or Presidential term, may seem excessive, but maybe it’s what Americans deserve for their apathy and lack of involvement in the political process. As the sentence of Brock Turner unfortunately demonstrates, far too often the punishment doesn’t match the crime. Without touching upon the particulars of his offenses, it is painfully apparent that the sentence he received is completely and utterly a result of his privileged ethnic and socio-economic status, rather than a reflection of the crimes he committed. What kind of judicial system finds a potential 6 month incarceration appropriate for a crime which will hold its victim in an emotional prison for the remainder of her life?  Brock Turner and his father represent a most despicable sense of entitlement and arrogance – it’s that 1% thing again and it disgusts me.

We are living in a seriously messed up time, people.

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Sunday papers

imageAn article in the Sunday TU caught my eye.  It’s about speculators folks collecting art and storing it in shipping containers in Geneva, motivated by a wish to inflate the value, rather than to display and enjoy. That’s seriously fucked up. How beautiful is something that is hidden expressly to manipulate its worth? Maybe I’m naive, but I imagine that artists create their work for it to be viewed and appreciated. The actions described in the story just feel soul-less to me.

How do so many people move away from a path of humanness?

It’s impossible to read the paper without seeing a story about political corruption and lack of ethics. Lately, it seems as if every single day provides another example of the apparent separation of financial success and sense of humanity. I can’t decide if it is more sad or disturbing. Either way, I don’t like it.

The common thread I perceive in the two examples above is a lack of appreciation for what they have in life. Having the means to possess a great and tremendous piece of artwork is such a gift. Why would one not celebrate that by feasting one’s eyes on a Miro or Warhol instead of locking it away in a shipping container?

Who are these people who find money more beautiful than art?

As for the political nonsense that we’re subjected to currently, it’s incredibly disheartening. The combination of arrogance and selfish is astounding. How do these people ever believe that their actions – the bids and the contracts resulting in the accumulation of personal wealth, are permissible? When did the moral disconnect occur?

Why are there so many people who find money more valuable than trust and honesty?

I’m voting for Bernie.

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Filed under aging, beauty, musings, News, Observations, politics, Rant, sunday, Uncategorized

Inspiring vs. Inciting – Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Yesterday was a huge day for politics in Albany, our Capital City on the Hudson. My schedule only allowed for me to attend one of the three pre-primary political rallies, but I am ever so proud to say that my older sons represented at the two events held during the early afternoon. How cool is it that they are interested and participating at their ages – 16 and 19?

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Liam, my oldest son attended the Kasich rally in Troy, essentially because he is taking classes at HVCC and the event was very conveniently nearby. Liam leans further to the right than I and often threatens to vote for candidates who hold much more socially conservative positions than I do. He didn’t really have an opportunity to share many impressions of the speech but he did say Kasich is a moderate Republican with a repeated refrain of jobs, jobs, jobs.

Griffin, my middle son, is always game to skip school and the Bernie rally gave him a fine and legitimate reason to cut out of class with my permission. He liked Bernie’s message but found him, when compared to President Obama, to be a less powerful speaker. He was in agreement with the message, but said Sanders had a “Grandpa cute” vibe. Griffin did really enjoy the folks present, though, and felt comfortable in the tightly packed crowd in the Armory. There might have even been some hugging, from what I understand. I was sad to have missed it.

Made in China - worn with total irony

Made in China – worn with total irony

Later in the day, after a fortifying beer meal at McGeary’s, all 3 of my boys and I headed to the Times Union Center for what we referred to as the circus. We arrived at approximately 6:40 and waited in line for entry and security for about 20 minutes. It was an informative time as we looked around at the other folks in line wondering what their stories might be. Were they genuine supporters? Local? Perhaps merely curious, like us, there to see the spectacle? It was impossible to know.

imageWe made it to seats in the upper deck just minutes before Trump graced the enthusiastic crowd with his presence. He immediately launched into his stump speech, littering his diatribe with meaningful phrases such as “New York values,” “building that wall” and “making America great again.” His words were resonating with the crowd who greeted his sound bites with cheers and the frenzied waving of their Trump signs. Other people present began to respond as well to Trump’s claims, but these people were protestors, not supporters. The energy in the arena shifted from simple enthusiasm to a more complicated mélange of fear and anger. My children began to feel uncomfortable.

imageI looked around at the people surrounding us and tried to think about what might have made them so angry. How could they possibly be more furious with Mexican immigrants than they are with corporations which relocate to Mexico to lower production costs and maximize profits? Why are they resentful of citizens desiring comprehensive and affordable healthcare, but not with pharmaceutical companies using government money for research yet not making their products financially within reach of those who may need them? How does a New York City billionaire represent the interests of what looked to be a mostly blue-collar crowd?

We witnessed a couple of fights break out and saw a number of attendees being removed from the facility. The threat of more ugliness was pervasive. The boys asked to leave, which we did just before 8:00.

To me, Bernie Sanders brings light to our country’s political landscape while Donald Trump delivers a fire that threatens to incinerate all it touches. More than once last night I considered the similarities between the scene in front of us and what was Germany in the 1930s. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I’ll confess that I repeatedly thought: “Is this how Hitler gained power? Is this how it begins?”

Primary Day can’t come soon enough.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Education, Events, family, Local, Observations, politics, Uncategorized, upstate New York

5 Things that got me hot in December

• A visit to the Hot Yoga Spot. After months of not managing to get to a Bikram class, I finally made it to the newest HYS location in East Greenbush this week. It was truly 75 minutes of blissful hard work and I am so happy that there is yet another location and schedule of classes of which I can avail myself.
• The thought of Donald Trump representing my country.
• Sunshine and 57 degrees in Albany, N.Y.
• The Soba noodle dish we’re offering as part of our Tuesday & Wednesday Pasta Special – so good! I know it is going to be exactly what I’ll crave when I get my first winter cold.
• New flannel sheets from Macy’s Martha Stewart Collection. They are legit like velvet.

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