Category Archives: Rant

My home is not broken

image: sandylomedia.files.wordpress.com

image: sandylomedia.files.wordpress.com

I attended a meeting recently and was struck to hear a colleague describe a student’s home as being “broken.” Of course, my reaction is personal and I’m probably just being hypersensitive, but it really bothered me, particularly since it was offered as an explanation for all of a particular child’s academic, social and personal issues. I mean, the end of a marriage can certainly be construed as a failure belonging to a husband and wife, but to present it as the ultimate reason a child fails to thrive, just doesn’t seem fair to me. What do you think?

To me, a “broken” home is one lacking in warmth, love and affection. Fortunately, that’s not my children’s experience. A “broken” home is a place where the parental relationship has eroded, or failed to grow, to a degree that the adults in the household are actively unhappy. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a number of those types of houses, homes where a couple remains together “for the children” or due to financial reasons or for health insurance or other benefits. Is an intact, but painfully unsatisfying home life really considered to be a superior setting for raising children than two separate residences led by adults who are emotionally and personally fulfilled? I don’t think so.

Let’s stop equating ended marriages with homes that fail to provide a nurturing and healthy environment for raising children. They’re not the same thing.

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Filed under Boys, family, marriage, Rant, relationships

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

Where the streets have no names, I mean, rules

“Cycling has encountered more enemies than any other form of exercise.”        19th-century author Louis Baudry de Sagnier

imageNow that summer has arrived, I’ve been riding my bicycle to the restaurant a couple of nights a week. I love so much about my less-than-two-mile commute – the fresh air, the exercise, the view, the sense of being more closely connected to the street I live off of and work on…it’s pretty great. Except, of course for the cars. That part kind of sucks.

I’m most afraid of the parked cars I ride past. Does that surprise you? The way I see it, the cars coming from behind me are looking ahead and should be able to see (and avoid) me, but the folks who might be opening their car doors aren’t necessarily checking behind them before they throw their doors open. That’s why they scare me.

A couple of weeks ago I left Lark + Lily, helmet on and rear of my bike red light flashing, and headed home. A few blocks from the restaurant, a woman slowed down as she drove past me and shouted, “You’d better get that bike off the road.” Two blocks later, as we both waited for the red light to change, I retorted, “You’d better get familiar with the law.” My ride didn’t improve.

As we each rode down Delaware Avenue, the “conversation” was ongoing. She continued to yell at me in an attempt to convince me that I wasn’t entitled to ride on the road and I persisted in trying to educate her about traffic laws. Hey, what can I say? I’m a teacher. She finally drove away and I mulled over the wisdom of engaging an ignorant driver. I concluded that it probably wasn’t my finest moment.

Yesterday evening I got some news that confirmed that I should probably refrain from responding to drivers who either do not know or simply refuse to abide by the existing motor vehicle laws. It isn’t my story to tell, but essentially, someone I know was hit by a car while he was commuting home. Intentionally. The driver of the car initiated the interaction by cutting off the cyclist, who astutely snapped a photo of the car and its license plate, and then followed up three blocks later by directly and purposefully hitting him. No joke.  Yes, the driver of the car deliberately drove his vehicle and hit a man who was just riding home.

I think there needs to be some serious intervention and education about cycling in this city before anymore riders get injured or worse.

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Filed under Albany, biking, Exercise, Local, Rant, Summer, 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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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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Filed under News, Rant, Uncategorized

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