Saturday, April 30, 2005

From Michael Chertoff

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

Americans, please note.


Pin The Tail On The Blogger

Bloggers Meet Up

The lovely people in this photo are (in no particular order) the keyboard lackeys who regularly bring you the great joys of:

The Chalice Blog
Prophet Motive
Daily Kos
The Socinian (Fausto)
Transparent Eye
(went home early, Paul Wilczynski)

We got together today at an undisclosed location to eat hamburgers and to plot our takeover of the Department of Homeland Security (will this get me some cool links? Google hits? Personal mail from Michael Chertoff, or whoever that new guy is?).

Personal to "Boy In the Bands:" We missed you. And Peregrinato, and The UU Enforcer.

Peacebang is now taking to her bed to nurse a really slammin' sinus headache.

Runaway Bride

I love this.

Nervous Nervy Bride
Originally uploaded by

This woman from Georgia disappeared a few days before her wedding. A major womanhunt ensued. She called her fiancee from a phone booth claiming that she had been kidnapped, then later recanted the tale, saying that she had cold feet and needed some time alone.

Peacebang hates to make snap judgments based on one photo, but dear readers, don't you just think this jittery bride needed, at the very least, a good meal and some time off the Stairmaster?

Wedding invitations went to 600 guests and the bride and groom each had 14 attendants.

That's not a wedding, my little peach blosson, that's a bloody coronation!
No wonder you went kaflooey! Mere mortals should never attempt to plan such a production without the help of David Merrick or perhaps Busby Berkeley. Cecil B. DeMille?

Of course Ms. Bride should be soundly spanked for scaring everyone so much (not to mention wasting tax dollars on police involvement) and for lacking the nerve to just call the whole thing off, but she represents brides and grooms everywhere who have serious reservations about walking down the aisle, but who silence their anxieties because they're too deeply into the grips of the Wedding Industrial Complex.

Here's to Just Calling It Off when you need to.

Peacebang wishes the couple every happiness, together or apart.


"On Sunday, members of Peachtree Corners Baptist Church [how much do you love that?], where Mason is a member, said prayers and expressed concern for the couple, who did not attend services Sunday morning. [ya THINK?]

Hometown anger persists. Many in Duluth were visibly angry Saturday. “There should be some responsibility for all this expense to the police,” said Jo Cripps, eating boiled crawfish at a downtown Cajun restaurant. “Certainly she owes an apology to all the people who came out and volunteered.”

(Italics mine, of course. You know that reporter waited around in that restaurant all day waiting for someone to make a comment while eating boiled crawfish.)

Friday, April 29, 2005

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I'll Be Here Today

People's Filibuster and Rally
Joseph Moakley Court House

Boston 1 Courthouse Way Boston, MA 02210
Wednesday, 27 Apr 2005, 5:00 PM
(Take the red line to South Station,
hop on the silver line one stop
to the Courthouse)

MoveOn.Org has organized this 24-hour rally to protest the so-called "Nuclear Option" threatened by Senator (::cough::: fascist, cough:::) Bill Frist.

I'll be there with my dog collar on, bearing a sign that says


I think the most depressing thing about having become a clergyperson in America is that, as much of an honor and a joy as it is to serve in such a capacity, I never imagined I would feel the need to attend so many political rallies wearing evidence of religious leadership around my neck. Because I never imagined in my wildest dreams that TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY LEADERS (and that goes for the late twentieth century, too) would be such a bloody medieval bunch, waving their Bibles around and using some bizarre perversion of Christianity to justify their crazy fascist misogynist Mother Earth raping maniacal capitalistic imperialistic agenda.

I love ministry, but whenever I don the collar to make a public appearance it makes me somewhat nauseous. I always imagined that by now in this extraordinary country of ours, we would have reached an understanding of the centrality of faith in people's lives, yes, but that while we would maintain a respect for the ways that faith informs political views, we would be committed to basing our public policy arguments on such mutually esteemed documents as, say, the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES, not the sacred scriptures of one or another's religious tradition.

If I was the Teacher of the United States I would send him home with this comment on his report card: "Sam is a very promising student but he is not working up to his potential. And he needs to learn to play well with others."

[Update: It's 4 pm and I'm home with a sore throat. Lady Death required my presence in the parish today, so I'm all talk and no action as far as the rally goes. Still, you might want to note that my brother blogger The Boy In the Bands would disagree with my appearing in the collar at all (see his latest post on clerical garb) since I am not wont to wear it while about my daily ministerial tasks. Also, bloggers: how does one access the strike-through function? I thought it would have been funny to leave this post up, and to strike through the whole thing....but I don't know how. -- P.B., not so bangin' today.]

Monday, April 25, 2005

Women's Intuition Gets A Thumbs Up By the Boys

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

I've just read Sue Halpern's review of Malcolm Gladwell's much-touted new book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

I haven't read Gladwell's book, and I will, but I was terribly interested in Halpern's characterization of the book as having an evangelical tone, ("in a got-religion kind of way"), with much worshipful praise of rapid cognition as a form of higher consciousness.

In Blink, Gladwell wonders what would happen if we took our instincts seriously.

And in his book, he offers a compelling series of anecdotes to prove why we should ( some more quirky than truly persuasive):

(1) LBJ asked Lady Bird to marry him the first time they met.

(2) Curators at the Getty Museum, who spent fourteen months carefully ascertaining the authenticity of a 6th century sculpture, were hugely embarrassed when three art experts, Frederico Zeri, Evelyn Harrison and Thomas Hoving, eye-balled the ostensible antiquity and immediately simply felt it was fake, and were correct.

(3) Tennis coach Vic Braden just knows when a player will commit a double-fault. His instincts are unerring.

And so on.

At this point, both hemispheres of my brain are starting to ache. Because not once in this lengthy review does Sue Halpern ever mention the historically feminist claim that women have always excelled at rapid cognition ("women's intuition," anyone?). Am I to assume that Malcolm Gladwell also ignores this massively important fact in is book? And that, by providing countless details of men who successful employ intuitive cognition, this male author finally proves to a popular audience the legitimacy of a form of "knowing" that feminists have been affirming from the ghetto of Wombyn's Studies Departments as legitimate for decades (if not centuries)?

In his latest book, The Wisdom Paradox (reviewed in the same NY Review of Books article by Sue Halpern), neuropsychologist Elkhanon Goldberg covers some similar territory to Gladwell. Although Goldberg also winds up affirming the value of rapid cognition, let's note his use of language to differentiate the functions of the right and left hemispheres of the brain, (quoted by Halpern):

"The right hemisphere is the novelty hemisphere, the daring hemisphere, the explorer of the unknown and the uncharted. The left hemisphere is the repository of compressed knowledge, of stable pattern-recognition devices that enable the organism to deal efficiently and effectively with familiar situations."

Gosh, given that explanation, who would you rather have running the world, right-brainers or left-brainers? One sounds positively sexy, thrilling, the Lewis and Clarke of the brain, the brain leading the parade you really want to join ... while the left brain sounds as dowdy as grandma's gingham apron, just meant for staying home on the farm.

I don't have to tell you where women and men are believed to be typically located on the continuum of neurological inclination.

Goldberg's conviction is that what is commonly called intuition is not really a snappy kind of thinking at all, but is the result of a condensation of long years of "vast prior analytic experience." In other words, what seems to be instant and intuitive thinking is not really that at all, but the result of extensive prior knowledge and experience. I wonder if that's another way of reassuring the right-brain dominated world that lefty-brainies aren't as threatening or flaky as they may seem. They're building, you see, on vast prior analytical experience.

Like the police officers who put forty-one bullets into the innocent body of Amidou Diallo were building on vast prior analytical experience.

This stuff is very tricky and, I believe, almost inextricably biased.

Both Gladwell and Goldberg obviously have a contribution to make, and Gladwell's book is flying off the shelves. Good on him. But the vast silence in this review (and, I am guessing, in both books) regarding the long gender studies component to left-brain-right-brain research seems more than merely curious. It seems disturbing.

But that could just be women's intuition.

You can read Halpern's review here:

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Jes A Li'l Bit Down About the State Of The Nation Just Now

"Dear Ms. Peacebang:Thank you for your e-mail, and I look forward to reviewing and responding as soon as I can. Unfortunately, due to the high volume of mail I receive daily and the press of Senate business, your response may be regrettably delayed. In the meanwhile, you may find my website at to be helpful, as I endeavor to post my positions on most major policy issues there regularly along with other information of interest.Again, thank you for contacting me and know that I always appreciate hearing from you!Sincerely,William H. Frist, M.D.Majority LeaderUnited States Senate"

I love these form e-mail replies. It's perhaps the most depressing part of activism: to get a polite form letter in response to your scathing letter expressing outrage against one more disgrace against our democracy. Why don't they just be honest?

"Dear Ms. Peacebang.... we could actually care less about your futile, mewling little liberal complaints from bright blue Massachusetts, where you can marry all the gay couples you want to and drive all the Toyota Prius's you can afford (which we know is only one, if that), because we have all the power and all the money and all the corporate buddies we'll ever need to own this country and most of the planet until long after your bones have become dust, and then we'll find your grave and hold a picnic on it and laugh and laugh until the very planet collapses around us, and when it does we'll still be laughing at your worthlessness and powerlessness.... mwa ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!! MWA HA HA HA HA! Love and kisses, Billy F."

I called Senator Frist's Tennessee office to leave a message, too, because this open, overt, in-your-face (get what I'm sayin?)flagrant alliance of religious fanatacism and government makes my hair stand on end. Whatever happened to the notion of serving the nation, for God's sweet sake? And I mean the whole, religiously pluralistic nation? I don't expect lots of group hugs with the Democrats or nuthin', but is it too much to ask that our elected officials not actually DEMONIZE a whole sector of the population for the crime of having a dissenting opinion? What happened to the days of keeping the freakazoid fanatics distracted in the corner, tossing them a little bone now and then, but basically understanding that the fanatics are not representative of the constituency, and that we do not pander to them??

Oh, I forgot. The fanatics are the leaders now. They got out of the corner and they want the whole pig, not just the bone.

I definitely need to spend some time out of this country this summer. Like I'm thinking Sweden.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Yea, What He Said

Um, you should read this:

"Just Us Sunday" at

Sorry, I'm too busy to post anything original right now.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

The New Pope Is Dangerous, Says Lerner

Rabbi Michael Lerner has some important words about the new pope:

A Contest

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
Simply this:

Peacebang will personally pay you five bucks for every time you can work the expression "moisturizes my situation" into your professional conversations.

If you're a religious leader, ten bucks.

Once again we have PlanetDan to thank for this recent hilarity.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Day in the Life

Just another day on the emotional roller coaster.

First, my old Minnesota Flame called to say, "hey, surprise! I'm down the road from you a piece earning buckets of money teaching insurance guys how to 'communicate better' [tr: act] Howzabout we get together?"

(He also gets paid piles of cash to be the "Can You Hear Me Now" guy for Midwest Wireless. Too bad we didn't have all that dough when we were together: we could have pitched that hideous naugehyde couch his parents gave us out the window and gone out for a nice Thai dinner. But I digress...)

Midwest Wireless Whore

I had a meeting last night so we couldn't do that. So he showed up this a.m. and I brought him to my ladies church group to be my Show and Tell Presentation.

He talked about the process of writing a one-man show and generally enthralled and regaled everyone, performing two scenes from one of his shows (that features moi as a character, since it's based on true life events and all) right there in the living room. PROPS for spontaneity, old pal.

Then I went to the hospital and beheld those things to which elders refer when they say knowingly to one another, "Aging is not for sissies." Which made me cry in the car on the way to the Stop & Shop.

At which time I saw four church dears at the store, and then...

rushed home to put out some little snack items for my illustrious house guest who was being chauffered up in the evening ...

and then went to church for some quiet time before teaching my class and found a lovely and thoughtful gift on my desk...
which got me all teary again...

and then came home at 9:30 p.m. to find my illustrious elder colleague house guest lying on the parlor love seat wearing Christmas-themed jammies ...

at which time we repaired to the ANT-INFESTED kitchen (!!!) for snickerdoodles and a beverage and to chat.

If you want theological reflections or substantive discussions on UUism, or current events this week, try . He's doing great stuff lately. And I'm just trying to keep up with the ants.

I have no comment about the new pope, except that he looks much better in papal regalia than I imagine he did in his little brown shirt. *cough*

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Bummer Earth

It finally happened:

I had to print out my homily in 14 point font this morning. These preaching eyes is getting old.

Anyway, it's a little Earth Day tribute I call "Bummer Earth." Mother Earth has retired and moved to Boca. She hired Bummer Earth to replace her.

"Bummer Earth isn't content with bumper stickers that say things like, 'God is Coming And Boy Is She Mad' or even (and I actually saw this the other day on a Ford Explorer), 'No Blood For Oil.' Bummer Earth doesn't care about our bumper stickers - -Bummer Earth wants to slash our tires and make us walk and bike everywhere. Bummer Earth has had it."

This is artist T-Man Sam's beautiful crazy vision for Bummer Earth, which he created just to inspire my homily. Because he is that awesome. I just ordered an 8x10 of it from Snapfish, and it's coming to church with me this morning:

v- bummah earth coll Vic (2)

Friday, April 15, 2005

Fluffy! Oh No!

I was more than a little bit disgusted when friends from all over the country started alerting me via e-mail that the very fine state of Wisconsin (state motto: "Drive Through Us On The Way to Minnesota!") was going to legalize cat-hunting.

Since I intend to drive through Wisconsin this summer on my way from Chicago to Winona to see the Minnesota Flash (D.M.) in a Shakespeare festival,

Alas Poor Cat, We Hardly Knew Ye
("Alas Poor Catrick! I knew him, Horatio...")

I wanted to get the straight dope.

It turns out that they're talking about shooting feral cats.

Oh, like that makes it okay.

This just in:

ADISON, Wis., April 13 (AP) - Wisconsin outdoorsmen have approved a proposal to legalize the killing of feral cats, but Gov. James E. Doyle said on Wednesday that the plan would fail.
"I don't think Wisconsin should become known as a state where we shoot cats," said Mr. Doyle, a Democrat who neither hunts nor owns a cat. "What it does is sort of hold us up as a state that everybody is kind of laughing at right now."

Mr. Doyle, we give you the Paw Salute from the Cat Loving Land of Massachusetts. And yes, everybody is kind of laughing at you right now. Stick to cheese and leave the pussies alone.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Mean Girls!!

A very mean and very funny girlfriend of mine did an image google of me and alerted me tonight to the fact that there are several profoundly heinous photos of me out in cyber-land!! THANKS, M!!!

Most of these shots feature what we call in our family Phatfacia Stupenda (the origins of that expression are from a salad plate which I don't have time to describe to you). My friend's comment: "Baby, I know you don't have but two chins -- how come you got four in all those pictchas?"

Our favoritest one shows me preaching at a conference. It's a series of photos to which my reaction was, "Oh, those people are so inclusive. Look, they let Jo Jo The Dog-Faced Boy address their convocation!!"

ohmigod. With friends like that...

Note to self: Create a virus that eradicates all images of Peacebang from the public domain. Replace with images of, um, Kathy Najimy or Meghan Mullaly (BITB, you're not the only one who's made that latter comparison of late).

P.S. I did see "Mean Girls" recently and thought it was funny and charming. Great writing by Tina Faye, who still wears glasses better than any other smart girl out there.

Queens Salutes JP

Queens Salutes JP
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
My friend Li'l Flava sent this up from NYC. She says it was seen on the 7 train from Queens.

Love it.

The Guest Room

sock monkey's uncle
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

I just couldn't leave that leering, arrogant white boy as the first image Peacebangers see when they come to this page (Chris Shelton, below: not actor D.M. above! HIS leer and his "Lear" we love!") It offended my heart. Maybe Whatshisname will find his way to a good Universalist church somewhere and learn about his responsibility to humanity and the everlasting love of God even for worms like him. We can only hope.

Meanwhile, I went into my main guest room yesterday to start to gussy it up for the arrival of an esteemed colleague, ABW, next weekend. The guest room is way more whimsical than elegant: cherry print on the bedding, children's art everywhere (courtesy of Sister of PeaceBang, the art teacher), and a pretty big collection of sock monkeys.

I laughed and laughed when I saw the monkey someone made for me in 2000-- a sock monkey dressed in a white preaching robe, with a little stole and a mop of red hair like mine. Big eyelashes. I actually don't remember the name of the woman who made it for me but I do remember the circumstance: she had been raised in a brutally fundamentalist faith tradition and had been attending our UU congregation for just a short while. As New Year's Eve of 1999 rolled around, she found herself filled with a totally irrational and unaccountable terror that this was indeed The End Times and that as we rolled into 2000, God would come on his fiery horses or some such thing (I never was a big fan of Revelation) and destroy the world.

I met with her several times as the date approached, finally moving from an intellectual approach ("You don't have to carry this fear, and here's why") to the prayer that she obviously craved far more but was to embarrassed to request from me.

So we prayed together that God would fill her heart with peace, that she would be relieved of the terrible burden of believing that God exists to judge and condemn the living, and to be honest with ya, it freaked me out plenty. I don't think I had ever been in such intimate ministry with someone who was still so drastically in the grips of "that" God.

Damn sobering. I would drive home trying to imagine what it was like to have that kind of personal wrathful Deity haunting your every thought. And yes, even though I told her I felt very uncomfortable doing it (because there was no such need), I did give her and her children a New Year's Eve blessing of protection. I gave it in the name of my Baba, Anne Lesko, who was also deeply superstitious. I told the family that as much as I felt awkward conferring this blessing, the spirit of my Baba wacked me on the head and said, "No one here cares what *you* think. Go and bless."

Standing in a little circle holding hands with the family I remember saying something like this:

"May the God beyond understanding and beyond naming release us all from fear and banish the man-made God of vengeance and destruction from our hearts, and may we hold each other in love and care at this anxious time. May we welcome in this new year with hope and wonder, and optimism and joy."

When New Year's Day came, crisp and new, I drove by their house and knocked on the door and said, "So, what do you think!!? -- did my blessing avert the Apocalypse!?" We all cracked up and had hot cocoa.

She was so appreciative that she made me a sock monkey of myself. She said that she *meant* it to be a silly gift, as she was beginning to realize the profound silliness of the God she was trying to expunge from her consciousness.

My most ardent blessings go with her today, wherever she may be, that she has succeeded in that most difficult of spiritual work.

Nancy. Her name was Nancy. Love and sock monkeys to you, Nancy.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Another Jerk

Another Jerk
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
This is millionaire real estate mogul Chris Shelton, a contestant on "The Apprentice," which I confess I watched twice a year or so ago.

Shelton was arrested for disorderly conduct in Tampa, FL, apparently behaving like a ranting psycho in a hotel lobby where he was partying with his friends.

I am so sick of these Captains of Industry making the world into a cesspool of testosterone poisoning, spraying their egos and their despicable attitudes all over the land like those green slime monsters in "Ghostbusters." A girl can't even go out in a pair of cute sandals without stepping in that vile gunk.

I'm not making any brilliant social analysis here -- it's a Monday and I'm still bleary from yesterday -- but dagblammit, the incivility, the rampant "cell yell," the hateful, macho belligerence, the pathological entitlement, the treacherous NASCAR-inspired driving on the local roads, the peacock strutting on every street, in every gym, in every store, at every restaurant, the thumping into an Amtrak car or the cafe at Barnes & Noble to make it into their private, second office and subjecting everyone around them to their ostentatious wheeling and dealing by cell phone...

Alan Alda, take me away!

Am I right?

Is this not a particularly heinous side-effect of Bush's Toxic America???

And don't get me started on the FEMALE versions of this guy.

The Feeding Tube Speaks

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, the genius of "Get Your War On."

The Feeding Tube Speaks

Don't miss the latest at:

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Queen is Not Amused

She either just had some yummy taffies and is licking her lips, or Her Royal Highness is hissing at Camilla.

The Queen is Not Amused

Did you know they got married without a pre-nup? Aw come on! Tha's so roMANTICAL!

Today was like summer and I'm positively giddy. But it's more than the weather. I shot my Inner Critic dead a few days ago in preparation for my 40th birthday in nine months, and it's really quite the little key to happiness.

For example:

Previous inner thoughts: "I really want to go to S's poetry reading this afternoon but I'm really tired after church and teaching a session on UU theological foundations, and I really should get some work done and make that hospital visit -- but if I DO go all the way to Concord I should take a long, brisk walk around Walden Pond, because if I don't I'm obviously a worthless, fat, undisciplined cow."

Typical Result: Go home, take overly-long nap, maybe make hospital visit with raccoon eyes from nap, flop around listlessly with Sunday paper, fail to achieve work or study goals, suffer extreme guilt.

New inner thought process:
"Gee, I sure am tired after church but I'd love to see S do her reading, so I'll run home and change and get to Concord. [after...] That was a great reading. I am so proud and happy for my friend. I have no desire to take a healthy walk around Walden Pond so I think I'll buy a mango smoothie and stop by the hospital on the way home. I might read the paper, might not. But I've surely worked hard enough today."

Result: Sanity, lovely poetry reading, good smoothie, pleasant hospital visit, and a nice dinner. Probably a good night's sleep, too.

As part of this program, you may not catch sight of your own reflection in store windows and think unkind thoughts about any part of your anatomy. The proper response upon seeing your reflection is, "Well, there I am. Yes, that sure is me." And if that recognition doesn't come with a sense of fond intimacy and acceptance, walk up to the window and find something you like in the reflection stat. Nostrils will do. Anything.

If I keep this up I'll have a best-selling self-help book idea in no time. Except that part of my new program is to decide that I DON'T CARE if I don't write a book any time soon. I figure I've written about 300 pages in sermons over the past nine months, not to mention articles and essays. Repeat after me, 'cause you know you need to hear it, too:


Good girl/boy.
Welcome to the revolution.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
Hola, Peacebangers,

Blogspot is not letting me in to fix posts or anything, so I imagine it might also be blocking comments as well.

Well, it's free and it's not perfect. I'll wait to see if things clear up in a day or two. Other bloggers inform me that it's a waste of time trying to contact their Tech Support.

I am posting this new entry courtesy of the fantabulous photo uploading and blogging service, Flickr.

Peace Out.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Did I Already Tell You This?

Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I recently caught part of "Men Don't Leave" on the television a few weeks ago and remembered why it is one of my all-time favorites. Starring Jessica Lange, Arliss Howard, Chris O'Donnell and Joan Cusack, this is a cinematic antidote to those gruesome Julie Roberts flicks where mothers overcome adversity by lip-syncing Aretha Franklin tunes into their hairbrushes while their progeny dance around the bedroom in fits of faux glee.

This movie is about real pain following the death of a daddy, and starkly reveals the awkwardness and depression that come with not dealing with grief in a perky cinematic li'l way.

Watch for the scene where Jessica Lange kisses Arliss Howard on one of their first dates and her nose starts to bleed(ohmigod! humiliation!) or when her emotionally neglected son (heart-wrenchingly played by little Charlie Korsmo)prefers to spend the night at his friend's house rather than come home to mama. Watch Jessica's very body communicate her sense of maternal failure and shame.

Joan Cusack, who should have been nominated for a Supporting Actress Oscar for this work, is nothing short of brilliant as a comfortably eccentric, dumb-as-a-fox nurse who initiates a sexual relationship with the teenaged Chris O'Donnell. Brazilliant comic work grounded in truth and a wonderful grasp of a complex character.

I dare you not to cry your eyes out when Jessica says, "Matty, you don't always have to be so GOOD."

It's not out on DVD, get your VHS players ready and put the Kleenex nearby.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I had to clip this photo from a very nasty celeb gossip blog, PageSixSixSix.
Photoshop or no photoshop, this is what botox hath wrought. And it's sad.

Remember the sleestaks from "Land of the Lost?" Did this just take you back to Saturday morning, circa 1973?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Twenty Two Years Without Him

My father Carl has been dead 22 years today.

He was 50 years old and had already had a few heart attacks before this final, fatal one. You'll appreciate this: he suffered this last heart attack while addressing a conference of his professional peers. When he felt the familiar chest pains he coolly stepped away from the podium, beckoned his secretary Mona Kay from the wings, told her to call an ambulance, and stepped back to finish his address. I imagine he was as nattily dressed as ever in one of his impeccable suits, smashing ties and soft leather Bally loafers. He had thinning salt-and-pepper hair and a handsome beak of a nose. He had a full 'stache and piercing chocolate chip eyes behind glasses. He was short, and he walked like he knew it. Lots of short man attitude, but never Napoleonic. He had a commanding presence and a wonderful deep voice which was perfect for singing fake opera, which he did often at home in the bathroom.
He did not suffer fools easily. This was said of him at his funeral, and hundreds of people exploded with laughter. Oh yea, they murmured.
It was also said of him that if you ran into him in the hall at the end of the work day, you would look at your watch at the end of the conversation and realize you had missed two trains. He was an extroverted gabber.

I am very much his child.

His last words were, "Take care of my babies." He had three: 19, 17 and 14 years old. Such a domineering Jewish papa he was. Difficult, demanding, volatile. He wrote to me in a Valentine's Day card one year that he was so proud of me his heart swelled ("a sometimes unhealthy thing to do"). I think too much love and passion to achieve and feeling killed him.

I am very much his child.

About a year before he died, we were driving home from dinner at my Uncle Marvin's, chatting with great intensity and mutual admiration as we always did, and my dad pulled into a little parking lot about ten minutes from home. All the stores were closed so I asked him why we had stopped. He was holding onto the steering wheel of his chocolate brown Mercedez-Benz and weeping.

"You're going to be such a great woman and I'm not going to live to see it," he said. He knew "his ticker," as he called it, was likely to give out. All at the ripe old age of 50. Because he was one of those type A+ guys who just couldn't quit.

When I came home from school one evening less than a year later and Mom said those fateful three words, "Honey, Daddy died," it smashed something in my insides that has never knit back together. I don't think it ever does. (Dena, this is for you, whose so-called "friends" expect that you'll be done grieving your grandmother's death in a few months).

I was in the grocery store this past Saturday afternoon when I heard a song that used to play right after he died that used to just flatten me with grief. I don't remember all the lyrics but the singer asks, "Is everything alright? I just called to tell the world how I miss you" and "Is everything okay...?"

Hearts can break
and never mend together
Love can fade away

Hearts can cry
when love won't stay forever
Hearts can be that way.

Something like that. I never did ever memorize the song. I think it's called "Hearts." I can't really stand to hear it or "Claire de Lune" by Debussy, which was the last song played at his memorial service. Yet I always seem to hear one or the other song at moments I most crave his presence, even when I'm not aware of it.

So I was standing in the Stop & Shop and a wave of grief and longing hit me so hard I actually could not move. I stood there glued to the floor in front of the pharmacist's counter remembering that spring 22 years ago when I was a teenaged girl and I had just learned that I would never hear my father's voice again, never hug him again, never cuddle on the couch next to him to spend an evening lulled by the sound of his voice hollering bloody murder at the NY Giants.

That T.S. Eliot knew what he was talking about.

April is the cruelest month, and I sure do miss you, CDW.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Other John Stewart

The Other John Stewart
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
S.O.P.B. (Sister of Peacebang) had an unfortunate Accidental Folk Music Experience the other night. She and a group of friends thought they were getting tickets to see brilliant lefty political commentator/comedian Jon Stewart (as in "The Jon Stewart Daily Show"). When they got to the venue, they sat down at a table, ordered some food and drinks, and discovered that they were in for an evening of John Stewart of the Kingston Trio.

We are not Kingston Trio fans, to put it kindly.

To add to an already very bad situation, the entire joint was filled with reverent Boomers and Eldsters who made not so much as a peep ("They weren't even CHEWING!") while Mr. Stewart played, causing S.O.P.B and her hapless friends a terrific case of church giggles.

As they escaped after the first set, tiptoeing out like the Von Trapp family past the Nazis, they could hear two similarly-confused twenty-something guys just getting into the theatre late and saying "What the HELL...?"

The Book Meme

Perigrinato "memed" me on his blog. I don't know what the hell a "meme" really is, but I know when I been double-dog dared. And then Chalice Chick did the same thing. Awright then, here we go.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Given my lame memorization skills, it would have to be something that lends itself to drama, like the Viking Library's The Portable Dorothy Parker collection. Which I adore. Madly. Damn Miss Rose. In a world where books have been outlawed, I would be happy to risk my life to bring Miss Parker to a hungering and thirsting citizenry.

The last book you read is...?

I just read the novel Gilead, given me by a colleague. It was sweet and pastoral and featured some lovely writing and a wonderful narrator. Also an extended meditation by Margaret Wheatley called Turning To One Another, which basically suggests in the nicest way that we are totally destroying the planet and we'd better straighten up and fly right or DIE and take Mother Earth with us. Nice with morning coffee.

What are you currently reading?

Currently stacked around the house in strategic reading areas:
On the stairs to be taken up to bed: The John Adams biography by David McCullough.
William Ellery Channing essays and sermons on the kitchen table. Marked to "Self-Denial" (try that with chocolate!).
In the living room, the sermons of John Emery Abbott (not touched since Christmastide, I'm sorry to say).
Conde Nast Traveler magazine, and Shambahla Sun (Pema Chodron on the cover, something about anger which I'm too irritated to read -- please give me my Entertainment Weekly now, mummy, I was good all day).
I am reading the brochure of the life story of a woman who lived in the Kalaupapa leper colony in Hawaii. A congregant just gave it to me.
Also, and finally, The Worship of the American Puritans by Horton Davies.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

To remind me of what I hated and shall never miss about the civilization I left behind:
something by Anne Coulter, something that celebrates the life and presidency of George W. Bush, something by Jack Welch, something from the Left Behind series, and then the Book of Common Prayer so I can read my own funeral service before I take my cyanide capsule and die. I do get a cyanide capsule, right? A blunt instrument? A sharp coconut shard?

Something about "have you ever had a crush on a character from a book:"
Well, I always swoon with adoration for John Adams whenever I read about him (sorry, Abby). Likewise, when I read Mr. Emerson's journals I just want to go on a long, holding-hands walk with him. I don't think he'd want to make out with me, though. For hot, brooding, dysfunctional Scandanavian romance, there are the protagonists of Knut Hamsun's novels Pan and Victoria. I loved Dr. Larch (Larch, was it? I can't quite recall the name) from The Cider House Rules. And I mean, who didn't have a crush on Almanzo Wilder and Pa in the Little House series? (I ain't talkin' 'bout no Michael Landon, either). Or Cap Garland? Wasn't he the Little Hottie on the Prairie!

And no one asked, but...

Some best literary girlfriends and idols: Harriet M. Welch, Melanie Wilkes, Mame Dennis, Cathy Trask (deliciously evil!), Medea (girl, I feel you), Liesl from The Deptford Trilogy, Michael Mouse from Tales of the City, both Kit and Hannah from The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

Who are you going to pass this baton to (three persons)? And why?

If I pass this baton I'm likely to accidentally hit someone on the head with it. I never was the best marathon runner or twirler. If you'd like to grab this baton, by all means...

Saturday, April 02, 2005


The Pope
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.
I kind of like the idea of John Paul hanging out in heaven with Jerry Orbach.

My friend Scott (Boy In The Bands) once said that he believed we would see each other in heaven, and that we would know each other there.

The idea of being expected in someone else's heaven was all I needed to comfort me forever. I'm still very afraid of dying, but not of Death. Because I have at least one friend expecting to see me on the other side. We will blog for all eternity.

Friday, April 01, 2005

I Just Thought You Should Know

Patriot Squirrel!
Originally uploaded by Peacebang.

this courtesy of Planet Dan, one of my favorite blogs.

If you're pretending to be working while reading this, I would not recomend that you look at the rest of the images.

Squirrels and rampant militarism disguised as cute kitsch. Two of my favorite things.