Category Archives: Rant

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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Filed under Albany, News, Observations, politics, Rant, Uncategorized

Was it your child this time?

image.jpegOr maybe it was your brother or father or lover? Was someone you love murdered for their desire to dance and enjoy a Saturday night out? Not this time? Lucky you. But how about all of those families who will never again see or touch someone who just may have meant the world to them? In whose mind is the theft of a loved one a fair price to pay for the inalienable right to purchase and possess a weapon or two or three? Not mine.

We’re living in a world where the right to own a gun supersedes the expectation that a night in a dance club will end with last call and the lights being turned up. An individual killed 50 people early this morning. 50 people. How is that even possible? My head hurts when I attempt to do the math and consider the number of families who will forever miss the person they lost on a random Saturday night in June. Jesus Christ, when will it end?

I don’t want to hear my president trying to once again make sense of a situation which possesses no logic. I’m sorry but I just can’t look. I know what’s going to happen next – we’ll see the pictures of the murdered people, we’ll be introduced to them all in death never to know them in life, we’ll hear the stories of the survivors and witness their horror and know that something inside of each of them was killed even if they escaped with their lives. We’ve all seen it before, right? And, you know what? We’ll all see it again.

Screw you, NRA, and your steadfast bullshit conviction that you and all your brethren are entitled to purchase and possess a tool of mass murder. Your right will never trump (Trump) the right we as members of a civilized society have to sing and dance and learn and pray. Never.

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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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Filed under News, Observations, politics, Rant, Uncategorized

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

The turtle that is Terrapin, Rhinebeck

imageTerrapin restaurant in Rhinebeck has been around for a long time, maybe 15 years at their current location inside a beautiful old church right on Route 9. Many years ago, I had dinner there with three other people and was completely put off by the service. I don’t remember anything about the food because the experience was so overshadowed by the snippy bartender and the inexperienced server. I vowed never to go back, a promise easy to keep since A. I don’t go to Rhinebeck frequently and B. There are so many other options in that area.

Today, though, I met one of my besties in Rhinebeck for a bite to eat and some catching up. I offered her two options – Gigi Trattoria, where we’ve been happy before, and Terrapin for a fresh chance at making us happy. She checked out their menus and decided on Terrapin and we agreed to meet at about 4:00.

I arrived first and found a seat at the bar, not a challenge with at least half of the bar stools open. Within a minute or two I was given a cocktail menu on my request. I started reading, pleased with the beer and wine selections. I wondered about their carafes and if they were filling them from draft lines and planned to ask whoever took my drink order about the set up. The man two seats away from me finished his drink and ordered another, as I was told by the bartender that she would be “right with me.” She wasn’t.

I changed my mind about the beer I had been thinking of ordering and selected a glass of wine instead. Unfortunately, I couldn’t share my decision with anyone because the bartender had yet to come over to take my order. The man near me began drinking his fresh Patron margarita, inspiring me to look at the cocktail list. I reconsidered my wine choice and began perusing the “available” cocktails. The sour cherry Manhattan caught my eye…

My friend arrived and I shared my menu with her. The bartender told us she’d be right over. She wasn’t.

The man next to us finished his drink and asked for a check. The bartender took care of that. We sat there, me with probably 15+ minutes invested without even the reward of a glass of water, another moment and then picked up our bags and left. I will never, ever, step foot in that restaurant again and this time I mean it.

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, friends, Rant, Restaurants, road trips, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York

International Women’s Day is over

imageLast night Lark + Lily represented at a lovely event held at the Opalka Gallery at Sage College in Albany. It was a lovely event attended by a diverse crowd and I was really happy to have been asked to participate. Our beet juice pickled, deviled eggs garnished with roe were beautiful and well received and I was really proud of my chef’s creativity and the reputation we’re building. After the event, I drove to Lark Street and was really happy to see that the restaurant was busy with all tables seated with guests. It was a good night.

Today, though, despite the dazzling sunshine and mild temperatures, things are feeling not quite as rosy. As I read the morning’s paper an article raised my ire to a level of frustration and annoyance high enough to chase away my sense of satisfaction with regards to International Women’s Day. Maybe you feel the same?

This article from today’s Times Union left me almost speechless, not due to the incident itself (I vividly recall the Tawana Brawley case and was greatly dismayed to see this sort of situation occur again), but rather because of the words spoken by the two attorneys involved with the case with regards to the decision made by their clients to not attend a disciplinary hearing being held at the University of Albany. Or, as one of the attorneys described it, the “University of Injustice.”

I’m not going to provide either lawyer with additional “print” exposure so I won’t mention their names, but Attorney One characterized the University’s adherence to its internal disciplinary process as an opportunity for it to “manufacture and perform an academic lynching.” Yes, he was directly quoted as saying “lynching.” How does that do anything but perpetuate racial divide? As for Attorney Two’s statement that his client is unable to appear at the scheduled hearing due to the criminal charges she is facing and how “that’s not fair,” I’m afraid I don’t have much sympathy. Perhaps counsel should attempt to get the hearing delayed so she can be held responsible legally for her actions prior to facing discipline at the University?

I can’t begin to truly understand the discrimination that minorities face in our country. I’ve witnessed the racism to which our President and his family have been subjected and it makes me sick. How can our society remain so divided when it comes to race?  As a white person, I know I will probably never be subjected to systemic racism, but I can look at the experience through a different lens; that of gender.

As women, we are often taught to fear men and their actions.  The initial reports of the bus incident indicated that the young men had aggressively menaced and threatened these young women, an occurrence which is always a potential threat to females in our society. This was not the truth.

I don’t know what the solution is to the systemic racism in our world, but I can say with confidence that the actions of these three women students did nothing to advance that cause. In fact, their decision to fabricate an outrageous story has damaged the credibility of other women who may truly be victims of racism and misogyny.  That is nothing to celebrate.

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Filed under Albany, Education, Local, News, Rant

Pay attention

On more than one occasion, I’ve listened to people complain about how much money teachers get paid. Maybe you’ve been part of such a conversation – it usually involves noting the short work day teachers enjoy, the health insurance and other benefits they’re given, and the excellent calendar which allows me them to have summers and holidays off. I’m familiar with the litany of complaints about teachers, even without the governor leading the chorus, thank you very much. I have a Master’s Degree along with nearly 20 years in the field and I just broke the $60,000 mark last year. Does that really sound excessive?

There have been a couple of things I’ve read or seen recently that make me a little insane when it comes to income or salary. For instance, the 14 wealthiest Americans increased their net worth in the last two years by $157 billion. That increase is equal to the entire holdings of the bottom 40% of Americans. Does that even seem right?

Did you know that Disney CEO Robert Iger made almost $44 million last year? The median salary for Disney workers is less than $20,000 a year, but I’m sure that he does 2,238 times more work than everyone else, right? How is this ok?

I’d love to share the income of one of our local billionaires, George R. Hearst III, but since his family business is privately held, that figure is impossible to determine without a subpoena or peek at his tax returns.  Suffice it to say, his family’s worth is estimated to be in the area of about $35 billion.  And, yes, this is the same guy/corporation that hasn’t given their local employees toiling away at the Albany Times Union a raise in more than 7 years.  Really??

I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’ll ever understand why a small percentage of our population holds such a disproportionately large share of the wealth.  How much do they need?  How can anyone justify a CEO-to-worker compensation ratio (in 2013) of to 295.9-to-1?   All I can say is Bernie Sanders.  Enough.

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Filed under Education, politics, Rant