Category Archives: politics

American pride

16112717_10154872435637889_4793167427873866802_oSaturday was a remarkable day. The sun was shining, the photocopier at Staples worked correctly, and there was no line to use self-pay at the grocery store. All good things. Additionally, there was a protest march thing going on down by Albany’s state Capitol, which was kind of big.

Actually, it was fairly huge and it wasn’t contained to Albany. The Women’s March was also in Woodstock, Ithaca, New York City and goodness knows how many other cities and towns in our state. And Boston and Austin and Chicago and Miami and L.A. and Denver and, of course, Washington, D.C. and other communities large and small around our country and the world. It was an international event, loosely organized, spread by word of mouth and media – social and traditional. It may have been the largest protest our country has ever seen.

Although I originally questioned the point of this movement (He won. What can really be done?), I attended our local event and was completely blown away by the energy present. My response was surprisingly emotional and I felt near tears as a I looked around at the crowd. There were so many familiar faces, friends, coworkers…I was humbled. It was powerful.

Later in the afternoon, my restaurant filled with guests. Every single person was polite and patient and contributed to an atmosphere that was charged with a unified positivity. A swiftly concocted drink special proved to be very popular and we raised nearly $100 to donate to Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood. Staff, front and back of the house, executed beautifully. It was an incredibly satisfying night.

Only one day after observing the inauguration of a man I don’t believe is qualified to represent our country, I witnessed countless examples of true American character – purposeful organizing, peaceful protest, hard work and the desire to donate to meaningful causes.  The contrast between an egotistical man who “did it his way” and the Americans who came together to demonstrate with integrity could not have been more stark, nor more welcome. Thanks, Albany. You made me proud.

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Filed under Albany, Events, Local, News, Observations, politics, Restaurants, Uncategorized

The A, B and D of politics

b-c-d-alphabet-letters-floral-elements-decorative-vintage-different-designs-square-format-behind-each-uppercase-33779316Did you notice I left out “C?” That’s because “C” would have been for Clinton and I found her to be a deeply flawed candidate that the Democratic National Committee forced upon me as their chosen candidate. It wasn’t that I believed her to be unqualified, only that she was the wrong nominee at a time when citizens were demanding someone not closely connected to the “establishment.” Sorry, Hillary, but Bernie was my guy. He’s not my “B,” though. We’ll get to that. Let’s begin with “A.”

A” is for Andrew Cuomo, our governor and a man I don’t plan to ever vote for again. I can’t say never because, as I was reminded, what would I do if Cuomo ran against Palandino? Right, there’s that to consider, isn’t there? My lack of support for our governor is a result of his inept and heavy-handed implementation of Common Core Curriculum at the expense of teachers. The damage he caused to my profession was undeserved and I’m holding a grudge.

B” is for Barack Obama, a man who held the highest office in our country and conducted himself in a manner that was unfailingly appropriate and worthy of respect. While he may not have accomplished all I had hoped for, he and his family represented me in a way that made me proud to be an American. His intelligence, speaking skills and empathy will be missed and I sincerely hope Barack (and Michelle, too!) continues to play a role in our government and policy making. His rational thoughtful voice is going to be needed now more than ever…and that brings us to “D.”

D” is for disturbed and destructive and dangerous and divisive and disrespectful. “D” is for dismayed and distressed and disgusted. “D” is for Dear Lord, let’s hope this goes by with dizzying speed. “D” is for Donald Trump.

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Remember the children

Four years ago, as I sat in the humid warmth of an indoor water park while my children played, 20 children were murdered within the confines of their elementary school. As I read the story online, a bone chilling horror entered my body  and lodged in my head. I considered that it could have been my own 7 year-old child. Ultimately the horrific sadness found its way to my heart, taking up permanent residence  as I grieved for the families who will never again be the same. It remains one of the melancholic days I’ve ever known.

The month of December seems a particularly cruel time for a child’s life to be taken. Isn’t this, after all, the time of the year many devote to celebrating the birth of a child? How do we reconcile those two things – the pointless deaths of innocent school children and the birth of a savior?

Maybe we can honor those children who were killed in Connecticut by making a commitment to the children who are fighting for their lives in Aleppo. Even if the battle is over, children and their families are going to need assistance as they rebuild their broken lives after years of conflict. Perhaps the perfect way to remember some of the children our world has prematurely lost is to make a donation, directed to Syrian refugees, to Save the Children, UNICEF or some other humanitarian organization.  It’s not too late yet to try to save those children.

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Upon waking to the news of Donald Trump’s victory

cwzjnxoveaapolxIt seems appropriate that the sky is grey and the ground is wet. It matches my mood perfectly. I can’t stop shaking my head – whether to clear it of the thoughts which are racing about or as an inescapable response to lunacy around me, I’m not certain. This is bad.

When I went to that Trump rally last spring, I left with two conclusions. The first, which has been proven to be undeniably false, was that Donald Trump could never be elected. The second, prompted by my gazing around the arena and wondering who those Americans were, has been confirmed in a manner I never before imagined. I don’t know those people.

There are some things I do know, though. I will never allow the government to rescind the civil rights of LGBT Americans. You see, I do know those people and, unlike Trump and his supporters, they don’t scare me. Last week, when the Indigo Girls played at the Egg, we had a number of lesbian guests and I was struck, as I listened to the good-natured teasing going on between women who had never met before,  by how much progress our society has made in the last twenty years or so. Living a true and genuine life is not something exclusive to heterosexuals and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and sisters should they need to battle to retain their equal rights. Going backwards is not an option.

Despite being beyond reproductive age, I will continue to support women and their right to choose when to bear children. I’ve stood up before to those wishing to deny legal and safe access to abortion to women in our country and I am fully prepared to do it again. If you don’t approve of abortion, don’t have one. That’s what’s called a choice.

As a first generation American I’ve always felt that it is my obligation to demonstrate traits which have been ascribed to immigrants in this country for centuries – hard work, honesty, self-reliance and personal responsibility. The only change now is a sense that I must commit to helping other new Americans to have the same opportunities as I have had.

During the presidential campaign I observed that Trump supporters loudly celebrated and gloated each Clinton flaw which was revealed, while Clinton backers reacted with distaste and appall as the laundry list of Trump’s outrageous behaviors was exposed. As an educated and reasonably intelligent woman, my response to both sides was to wish that we, as Americans, had been offered better options for whom to cast our precious votes. We have to do better in a world threatened by terrorists, impending environmental disasters, lack of access to healthcare and the vulnerability of persons of color and those who identify as LGBT.

I hope that a man who is supremely unqualified to hold the highest office in our country proves to be a champion of all people. There’s nothing I’d like more than for Donald Trump to prove me wrong again. Other than 4 more years of Barack Obama, that is.

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5 questions for Election Day

95d00716-6f66-4af0-91c9-ba34ed0a572e-8665-00000b1bc4435617_tmpIt has been a particularly unpleasant and long campaign season and I’m looking forward to it being over so I can just enjoy the grace and dignity of the Obama family for a few more months. But, first some questions.

  1. Why do elections bring out the worst instead of the best?
  2. How is my vote important if the electoral votes determine the winner?
  3. Is there a reason other than racism to justify the complete lack of acknowledgment of the accomplishments of President Obama?
  4. Who are the people who believe that Donald Trump is concerned with their interests – other than other wealthy people who have learned how to Trump the system?
  5. Will this election with all of its controversies, ugliness and accusations compel people to be more or less involved in the process in the future?

Vote.

 

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When is enough enough?

Early in the summer, I happily spent an afternoon at a friend’s house enjoying his hospitality and all of the lovely amenities his home offers – a peaceful setting with both a pool and a hot tub. As we relaxed in the bubbling hot tub, we talked about the simple satisfaction that comes from hanging out with a friend and indulging in a dip or a soak on a sunny June day. What more can a person want or need?

I asked him if he thought that obscenely wealthy people enjoyed their lives more than we were at that very moment. Did tremendous wealth add pleasure proportionate to zeros in a bank account? We shook our heads. No, we agreed, the humble pleasure of sunshine, friendship and temperate waters would fail to be improved by any excess of income.

What is it that makes some people feel the need to accumulate vast sums of money, often at the expense of integrity? Is there an internal void that they think can be filled with dollars? What are these people trying to compensate themselves for and why do they seem to feel it’s acceptable to do so at the expense of the public? And, lastly, does their arrogance blind them to the fact that we don’t just notice their flashy cars, expensive suits and fake tans, but we also see the ugliness of their greed?

While these men may think that all their riches will never be enough, I assure you, most of us don’t feel the same way. Enough.

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Filed under Albany, News, politics, upstate New York

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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