Learning How To Kiss the Blarney Stone

Once upon a time 5,000 years ago in a spot called New Grange in Ireland about 2 hours north of Dublin a bunch of cavemen and women met atop this very hill.  They joined hands and other parts and decided to develop a place where they could hold events. They don’t know for sure but mainly it was for various rites and rituals.  You know a wedding one day, next day a funeral .  A Celtic rental hall.

There were caves with drawings on the stone walls. Very primitive but very beautiful. We went there today. Kind of like Ireland’s Stonehenge.

As I squeezed myself into this narrow low ceilinged cave and the guide turned the lights off to show the path of sunlight… where and how the sun of the various solstices shone. A baby held by one of the tourists erupted into hysterical 😭 crying. Inwardly, I joined her and wondered why someone wasn’t holding me and assuring me that I would make it out of this cave alive.

I did make it out, by the way and I am sooo glad I went. Let’s put it this way…

It gave me no ease to hear I was under 5 tons of dirt and rock and nothing had ever moved…. YET!!!!  

Where’s the local Pub when you need one? Can you tell I’ve been touched with a bit of the blarney?  It’s catching and it’s wonderful.

Love ❤️ Sally-Jane 

Growing Up In My Backyard

Remember this…?

 I recently wrote a Blah, Blah, Blog accompanied by a photo of a trio of newly hatched Robins.  Three huddled, featherless babies lay in their beautiful nest nursery in a cedar bush in my backyard; hovered over by Mr. and Mrs. Robin in vigilant watch-bird mode for worms, insects, and loudmouth and dangerous Blue Jays and Crows along with other predators.

My friends, forget about your alarm and security company, Mr. and Mrs. Robin exceeded all expectations.  Any would-be predators didn’t stand a chance.  The parents proved their worth in birdseed.  They took over my backyard as the Dangerous Drones of Cedar Bush.

It is now Day 11 of  the baby Robins’ birth.  TA-DA!!!!!

All decked out in their beautiful feathered coats.  They sit in their Royal Nest Nursery.  Mouths always opened ready for the feed. ( I spend a lot of time checking them out… and when I say open all the time… I mean open all the time.)  For the last 11 days Mama and Poppa have fed and protected them. 

Today, for the first time, I have noticed a change.  I can go right up to the nest and no parental dive bombing. 

I have come to a brutal conclusion.  My baby birds’ childhood is almost over.  In  too short a time, if they want their beaks filled, they are going to have to leave the nest and fill it themselves.   

LEAVE THE NEST????  OMG!  They’re still babies.  What do they know about life?  What do they know about men? (one of them must be a female)  

As long as I did what they wanted me to do, my parents fed and protected me at the beginning, and as I remember would have done so forever.   

OOOPS!!! On second thought…

Hey, my adorable use-to-be-babies, shut your beaks and test your wings.  You can always come back for a visit.  The cedar bush ain’t going away.  This is your chance to be you.  Take it! 

In my backyard, I do not allow any FEAR OF FLYING.  (sorry, I just couldn’t resist)

Love, Sally-Jane

SPRING WILL BE A LITTLE LATE THIS YEAR…

So sayeth Frank Loesser, master songwriter and very early prognosticator of climate change…

In response to the fact of those words, those in the Northeastern part of the country in downturned grimace, would reply, “Duh!!  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that.  I’m still wearing my long johns.  My boots haven’t left my feet.  My rain hat hasn’t left my head.”

We are all looking somewhere over the rainbow for a warm, dry, light at the end of the tunnel.

I am hopefully going to supply that for you.

Yesterday, as the rains continued to come, and the cold continued to  chill my bones, I forced  myself to walk around the garden.  Pretending the rain had stopped, I sat down on a nearby bench.  The bench was in front of a large cedar bush.  As I sat down, I was attacked by a robin… well, not exactly attacked, but rather aggressively buzzed around.  Scared me silly.  Why was this bird attacking me?

This photo will explain the why….

With or without my will and my way, this photo of new life hiding in the bushes, if I do not get in its way, this beauty of Spring birth and life itself goes on. It happened in the cold and the rain.  It happened with climate changers, yay and nay.

Mrs. Robin didn’t ask to inhabit the bush in my garden.  She didn’t sign a lease.  She just moved in.

So, in truth, I had absolutely nothing to do with this event. For being a platinum card control freak this was a great relief.  I don’t have to feed them.  I don’t have to babysit. 

I can sit in my garden, away from the cedar bush of course, in the rain or shine, cold or warm, and know in some immutable way, life goes on… and it happened when I wasn’t even looking!

In profound surprise, humility, and love…. Sally-Jane

Video

Who’da Thought…

My Dear Friends,

My recent blog post has provoked responses that mean so much to me. Who’da thought….

I have been having stimulating dialogue with friends and family that hopefully will move us to rethink who we think we are. For me doing that might lead to some deepening of my sub and conscious awareness.

The two pieces below are particularly thought-provoking.

My Love, Sally-Jane

1. How “White Savior” Movies Hurt Hollywood

From: Voices of Color


2.

100 Ways White People Can Make Life Less Frustrating For People of Color

By Kesiena Boom|Apr 19 2018

Photo by Michela Ravasia via Stocksy.

It starts early…

Does Loving the Film, ‘Green Book’ Make Me a Racist?

My Dear Friends,

I have a new friend. He is nice. He is black. I am white. I didn’t mean to but I offended him.

Here is the backstory…

In December 2018, I saw the film, Green Book. I flipped. I loved it. No, I mean I really loved it. I was in the local movie art house and there was hardly anyone else watching with me. I would say maybe 10 people at most. I laughed. I cried. I thought Viggo Moretensen and Mahershala Ali were beyond brilliant. I ached for each of them in the many cathartic moments of the film. I was enraged at the America that made it necessary to publish a horror like Green Book.

I was beyond the stratosphere at the music. Don Shirley’s classical music background blending with a jazz originality to create a sound that kept my head, my hands, my feet, and my heart moving constantly every time he played. (Just so you have all the information… the pianist, Kris Bowers, composed the movie score and played the piano parts and he too is brilliant.)

I’m glad the theatre was empty. The way I was swinging with the music, I may have been asked to leave.

And when it was over, I stood up as in those rare standing ovation moments at the theatre. I say rare because for me to stand means to know you have witnessed a genius rarity not likely to happen again. I yelled, “BRAVO!” I applauded. I was ignored as the very few fellow audience members left, walking rapidly, perhaps nervous that some cuckoo was on furlow for a matinee.

I practically danced up the aisle. As I left the theatre, the ticket taker was standing at the door. She is black. I stopped. I took her hand. She withdrew it. Undaunted, I gushed my enthusiasm for the film. I asked if she had seen the movie. She looked hard at me. She said in a very clear voice. “No! I don’t watch rubbish.”

I guess that should have been my first clue. But, I ignored it. I couldn’t wait to get home and call my near and dear ones. If they ever wanted to see or speak to me again they needed to pass the test of seeing this movie.

Fast forward to the next day after the Academy Award ceremony…

Don’t hit me.  I didn’t watch.  I never watch.  They always leave out the one movie I thought was really great or the actor or the writer…and basically, I am not sure about awarding best anything to any artist.  The competition is within  the artist.  Don’t tell me someone is better than someone else.  I don’t believe you can compare apples and oranges.  However, God forbid the money men and women don’t make their money back on their product.  And for them, it isn’t about art.  It is about “product”.

All to say, if they called my name for an Oscar, I’d probably be there.

My new friend and I were talking about the Oscars.  Those who know me know.  Those who don’t know me are pretty sure.  I have an opinion on everything.  Ask my daughters.

I had read Spike Lee was angered by Green Book’s big win. I opined that it might be sour grapes.  I had seen his film, BlacKkKlansman and thought it was great. The perfect example of trying to compare apples and oranges.  

My friend said he enjoyed Green Book, but he was also in agreement with Spike Lee. For him, the Academy was doing its usual thing. Rewarding the white man as he rescued the black man. Another movie to make the whites feel good.

I don’t often keep my own counsel. I continued on and on about how Green Book detailed the possibility of a bigot changing his tune. And isn’t that what is needed in a world gone mad with so much hate and bile. A world growing more and more into “them and us”.  Separating humans of ever color from each other.

As I pontificated, I assured him, I knew what he was feeling.

There came a very pregnant pause. A close to delivery pregnant pause. The pause was so awkward it actually shut my faucet mouth.

After some time, we broke the pause with banal conversation. Not going near the subject, we talked awhile and then said goodbye.

After we parted, I recalled what I had been saying. What was it that brought about the pause that did not refresh? As I did, I realized my new friend had been trying to tell me something without telling me something. No matter we are both minorities. I am Jewish and a woman. But I am white. He is black. I cannot and will never know what it feels like to be black.

Later that same day, I wrote an apology. I wrote that of course I could never know how he feels. I have had some of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune thrown my way, but against being born black in this world, past or present, not comparable.

He acknowledged my apology. We have not continued the discussion. Hopefully someday we will. Slow and steady as the friendship deepens, anything is possible.

“The Blind Are Also Color Blind”
Photo taken at Foundation for the Junior Blind Summer Camp, Los Angeles,CA by Doug Wilson.

I don’t know. I do know there are those who want to see a better world.  Me, for one.  And for me, a better world would be one where we all wake up one morning and find we are color blind.  If that were true, then Green Book and BlacKkKlansman and all movies about race would be Fairy Tales. A collection of very Grimm Fairy Tales.

Is it possible?

As long as we are still breathing the world of possibilities will always exist? Right?

Of course, Right!

Love, Sally-Jane


P.S. It seems no matter where I turn, going to the movies, reading a book, I am surrounded by with racism, bigotry, and the inherent anger, resentment and frustration.

In a recent biography of Frederick Douglass, David W. Blight writes of an event which occurred in Washington, D.C. on the 11th anniversary of the end of the Civil War as well as the 11th year anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  At the unveiling of a monument honoring Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, with President Ulysses S. Grant and all of official Washington present, Frederick Douglass spoke:

It must be admitted, truth compels me to admit, even here in the presence of the monument we have erected to his memory, Abraham Lincoln was not, in the fullest sense of the word, either our man or our model. In his interests, in his associations, in his habits of thought, and in his prejudices, he was a white man…

He was willing to pursue, recapture, and send back the fugitive slave to his master, and to suppress a slave rising for liberty, though his guilty master were already in arms against the Government. The race to which we belong were not the special objects of his consideration… My white fellow-citizens… you are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are at best only his step-children; children by adoption, children by forces of circumstances and necessity.

Excerpt from oration delivered by Frederick Douglas at the Unveiling of The Freedmen’s Monument in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C., April 14 1876

That speech was given in 1876. It is 2019. Have things changed? Externally, yes.

However, haven’t I been reading how the Executive Branch, the Congress, our Supreme Court are colluding and searching for ways to limit and deconstruct the civil rights legislation LBJ pushed through after JFK’s assassination.

Isn’t this what happened to the promises of Reconstruction after the Civil War?

I think this is the time to bring out my favorite Voltaire quote (a very dear, very old, very close friend of mine),

“History doesn’t repeat itself.  People do.”

The Birth of a Nation – 1915

DIGITAL AGE? SCHMIGITAL AGE!

My Dear Friends,

After a recent conversation with a loved nephew, my busy brain began ruminating. That happens on its own. Ideas hit my headball, and I am once again in rumination.

Our tête-à-tête moved as it does from family to our favorite subjects… social and political issues.

He was describing his research into how propaganda and mind persuasion for the American public existed way before digital inventions. Before computers and cell phones there were newspapers, radio, movies, handbills, and pamphlets to dispense political and social points of view. Points of view that would influence voters and prepare the way for legislation, always towards goals of one political party or another.

malicious-botIn other words, my friends, even before the bots, people could be and were HAD.

This blog is not about right or wrong nor is it about good or evil. It is about how easy it is for the human psyche to be manipulated.

Not so long ago a television series called Mad Men illustrated the birth of advertising as we have come to know it. Mostly men… and a lone female, understood how to use the many powerful tools of persuasion, aka propaganda. Yes, it showed us how they manipulated consumers.

vintage celebrity christmas ads (4)How many times have you said, “I just bought this gizmo. I absolutely didn’t need it. Last night, in the commercial break, my favorite movie star was using it in her home and I just knew I had to have it. So I bought it. I don’t need it. Like I said, I have absolutely no idea why I bought it”?

We know why I bought it! “Gadzooks, someone got into my head! I wuz robbed!”

You would think after years of living with a mother who had a Ph.D. in manipulation and mind control, I would know better. You would think!

And all of this took place, as I said, before computers, cells, iPads. Yes, the radio was a powerful tool but it could only get into homes that had radios. But as radios and then televisions became more affordable there was a seismic shift in the abilities to persuade and influence the public.

Speaking in digitalese, let us fast forward….

first computer

In 1976, the first commercial computer was born.

In 1976, I was… [I am pausing here because those of you who know me know I need to take off my shoes so I can use my toes along with my fingers to count.]

I’m back! In 1976, I was 43 years old (Ah, yes, I remember it well!)

Mother of three living and performing in D.C.. You know Washington! Even if it was only smoke signals, it was the spin capital of the world.

To me, computers were part of the old chapter series in the movies of my youth. Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. [Please tell me someone else remembers them!]

I did not get into the digital thingies, computers, cell phones, Ipads… and because of my schedule, I never had the time to watch television. If I wasn’t doing household chores and child activities, I was at rehearsal. Not complaining, just the facts.

In 1997, I was 64 years old. My last daughter finally married (she was and still is very picky) and her husband, my new son-in-law, a very brilliant IT man, convinced me I could learn to use a computer. [I wasn’t kidding… he had to be brilliant!]

computer problem

He actually did teach me. Of course, it helped that he worked a few blocks from where I was living in Manhattan. When the hysterical emergency calls went out [and they did fast and furiously] he would walk over and bring what I surely thought was a dead thingy back to life.

At 64, I had 64 years of living without digital anything. The life I tasted, sipped, swilled, was dimensional, real, pure uninterrupted life sans machinery.

When I wanted to write to someone, I sat down took out a piece of stationary with my name engraved at the top. I sifted through my thoughts slow enough to really think about what I was thinking and what it is I wanted to share. Yeah, I know what would my Blah, Blah, Blog be without this machinery. As Yul Brynner used to say nightly in The King and I, “… It’s a puzzlement.”

The biggest change for me is in my personal relationships. I made time to get together. It was and still is important to be in each others company. Don’t tell me about Skype… it’ll never replace the hug, the kiss, the touch of one to another.

Today that time is taken up with texts. If I send an email, I have to text the person to check their email for something that carries more portent than a text message can handle. And no one uses a phone anymore.

In pure defiance, I got myself a landline in Florida because I wanted to be connected to the land and not cyberspace. Big joke! Because the only way you get a landline today is through the Wi-Fi of your cable company.

phones

They gotcha!!!!

The biggest change in this digital age belongs to the number of interlopers we let into our lives. As I said before, I can be had. And today, with all the available electronic equipment and all of it pointed in my direction, at least it feels that way, to buy, to read what they want me to read, to join, to contribute, to do survey after survey, I feel abused.

On a daily level, I am bombarded by organizations like Cambridge Analytica. Oh, yes, it is now out of business. What do you know? They got caught. However, there are thousands of similar corporations slithering in and around your computer continuing the dirty business of messing with our heads.

abe.png

It is amazing but when you hearken back to Nixon and his “dirty tricks”. He was such a beginner! In Trump’s White House, he never would have been caught!

I OBJECT!!!!

At this stage of my life, I do not want to share whatever time is left of my life with what I call The Distractors. It is hard enough to focus when there are forces whose only reason for being is to manipulate me away from being me.

It’s what I told my Generation-X nephew…

I am so grateful I had 64 years without the accouterments of this modern society. I know something they don’t know. Life was definitely not easier, but somehow I think it built up my resistance to the viruses of these manipulator machines.

Not to worry! I am not going to cancel my Wi-Fi.

I won’t de-chip my cell phone.

I will charge my iPad battery.

And push comes to shove, if they come after me, I can always call on my protectors… Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon!

Right? Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. Thanks to Lynnette for collecting the photos and illustrations.

Lifting A Leg…

Hold it! Stop right there!

Before I forget (great name for a show), Happy New Year, to everyone!

IMG_7934As this New Year was approaching, I was still involved in setting up my rental home in Fort Lauderdale. It is a veritable passion for me. Wherever I alight, like the dog lifting its leg to possess its space, I need to create whatever place I inhabit and make it very personally mine. (If the owner of my house in Florida is listening in, not to worry, the dog lifting leg is just a metaphor).

IMG_7948

Metal Sculptures by Rainer Lagemann

New Year is the time for resolution and reflection. As I continued to set up the house in the South, I began to wonder. Why was I doing this? I don’t own anything anymore. In truth, I‘m not sure we really own anything anyway. But that’s another Blah, Blah, Blog. I rent… North and South.

Yet, I happily spend my time and money, (albeit, I love consignment shops and, like the old New Yorker I used to be, shopping the discards left on the streets. Only New York City has great discards. I attribute this fact to the great flux and variety of the population.)

So where does this drive, this passion, to make my home my home come from? Where else? My immigrant DNA!

My mother was born in New York City. Her father and mother did steerage escaping from the pogroms of Kiev in the Ukraine.

My father was born somewhere in the vast geography of the Austrian-Hungary Empire. His birthdate indicates the Empire was still alive… not very well… but alive. He liked to say he was from Vienna.

I have a sneaky feeling Vienna was where he arranged for his steerage passage. I believe he actually came from somewhere else. I remember traveling to what was then Belgrade, Yugoslavia (Tito had recently died so the political clock of the area was ticking). On my first night, we went to a Gypsy cabaret. I listened to the familiar violin music my father used to play at home. I knew my father’s origins were close by. I could feel it in the music. All right, all right, in the wine, too.

So though I am an American, I am definitely a patchwork. Every American, and I mean every American, other than Native Americans is from somewhere else. Scratch any generation right down to the Mayflower, and you will discover your own patchwork.

Here is a corroboration memory…

Many years ago, (It’s amazing how every memory I have today, has to be prefaced with “many years ago”) in a summer stock production, I played Golde in Fiddler On The Roof. I loved every minute of it.

But mostly, I loved the last 15 minutes of the musical. Jerome Robbins had directed and choreographed the original Broadway show. He came from immigrant parents so he knew whereof he was speaking.

As the town-folk of Anatevka are forced from their village because of the ongoing Saturday Night Pogrom Parties, carrying with them all their earthly belongings, they head for the unknown new world… aka AMERICA. Robbins created a moving circle of life. And as Tevya and Golde, their family and the whole village move around that life circle, which represents their journey from home to no home, they sing their farewells to the village and their life as they had known it. Never to return.

As the villagers circled, Tevya and I had lines to speak. It was opening night. Always a night of high emotions, pressure.

I don’t know how it happened. All I do know is that one minute I was onstage with my fellow actors and the next moment, I was transported. It was me. It wasn’t me. But I was somewhere in the Ukraine being ordered away from my grandfather’s village. I have no recollection of time or space.

I only know as we sang and moved I was no longer Golde. It took the actor playing Tevye to bring me back. He had to speak his lines and mine. He gave me a gentle elbow. I awoke. I was back onstage.

But I know what I felt. I felt the agony, the pull, the pain of being forcibly removed. I felt the confusion, the dread, the unrelenting fear of the unknown. Oh sure, I am an overly emotional, anxiety-ridden artist. You know the type. I cry at Supermarket Openings.

Whatever it was that happened, happened. I believe it has informed my whole life. When I think of where my DNA ended up, I am one happy camper. I recognize, however, others have not been so fortunate.

SJ-Family-Wall.jpg

My wall of family

The issue of who is in and who is out is not a new question. Every ethnic group has had its day of being declared persona non grata. From the Irish, to the Chinese, to the Jew, to the Muslim, to the Latino, ad infinitum. Over the last two hundred years, this country has had its periodic political upheavals regarding that question.

I can’t understand people thinking that any immigrant has an easy time of it. No language, no money, loss of home and possessions, torn from their roots. No matter how basic those roots are, it is a profound culture shock and life threatening. But we still do it… whether it’s the Mayflower or steerage on a freighter… we will walk hundreds of miles, live in refugee camps of unspeakable horrors, get into leaking rubber boats… the pull to be free is strong.

What is it the lady in the harbor says, “… give me your tired, your poor… yearning to be free.”

Alas and a lack, can you believe it? We are back at it again. Only this time, some people want to build a wall. I am one of the confused. Is the wall meant to keep THEM out or US in? Doesn’t anyone remember what a mess the wall made in Berlin?

berlin wall 132911

So now you get why I am so obsessed with creating my home wherever I am. It’s that old immigrant DNA of mine, yearning to be a free me.

IMG_7985

 

In this New Year of 2019, I salute everyone’s immigrant ancestors and in a move of solidarity, I lift my leg.

 

Love, Sally-Jane