What Is Past Is Prologue

My Dear Friends and Family,

Your first quiz, for a free pass and tour of the National Archive Building:

What Federal Building in Washington, D.C. has that statement inscribed on it?

You are just too smart for me. You are right!

Northeast corner of the National Archives  Building in Washington, D.C.

Sooo…. What has any of this to do with anything? You always know the right question to ask. 

The news of the world at the present time gives me very little pleasure.  I really do try to limit the news media of the day, but somehow it creeps in, not on little cat paws, but earthquaking Shrek-sized feet.  I have lost my Pollyanna credentials, but still keep an optimist’s eye, even if it is a little cockeyed, on what I read and experience.  I don’t know about you but for me it is getting harder and harder to join Candide (by my dear friend Voltaire’s character) in his famous exclamation,

“This is the best of all possible worlds.”  

Really???  I don’t think so!!! Maybe instead he should exclaim along with the rest of us as we struggle with the ways of the world,

“Wha’ happened?”

How many times can I quote Voltaire again?  “History doesn’t repeat itself.  People do.”

If something still bites me, I shall of course put my Five Hundred Dollars in.  It used to be two cents but with inflation…

So I am going to go back into my memories to write about them.  Not to worry family and friends, no names.  And the only fool you will find in my stories? C’est moi.

Here’s a sample…

Even if I need fingers and toes to count, I think I can figure it out.  I just turned 88, right?  So if this wedding took place when I was 8, then that was 80 years ago.  Get out!  80 years ago… Yikes… we are talking 1941.  On October 19, 1941 my eldest sister got married. 

I was there and I loved every minute of it.  Against parental sturm and drang, the lovers persevered.  Like every World War II movie you ever saw.  The parents said wait until the war was over.  Unequivocally, my sister said, NO!  (You must have heard that word from her a million times)  Well, having missed out on my eldest brother’s wedding because they had eloped (which they were never forgiven for), Nana surrendered and told Pop to surrender too.  (That’s the kind of marriage they had)  Here comes the juicy stuff.

It was to be a home wedding… 

~ SJ Heit October 19, 2021

Stories like that one give me a sense of peace and continuity. As I begin to write some memories, there are many thoughts that crowd into an already overcrowded mindball.  I think the most important thought for me is this…

When does my memory meet with a perspective that will allow me to remember the memory and at the same time, give it enough air to be able to see it in a perspective of whatever smarts I have gleaned over these many years? 

Not many, I can assure you.  

My favorite Three Little Words have always been, I LOVE YOU. Abused, misused, and ultimately, on good days with great humility, expanded to include the judged, and found wanting persons who brought grief to my person;  a real achievement for this Master of Judgement.  Today those 3 words are neck and neck with these 3 words, I DON’T KNOW (for every control freak I have ever known, including yours truly, this is yet another miracle).

The Heit Family on the Atlantic City Boardwalk Circa 1938

There will be some memories that I shall want to share with you and some I shall not.  Not because of shame or guilt. Come on guys, we have all lived with those emotions forever, so as not helpful as they are, they are very familiar.  And in this case, familiarity really does breed contempt.  Most importantly, hopefully, there is a way to acknowledge their presence and yet fold them into my life.  

Oi vey, who asked me to do this?  No one, that’s who.

Not true.  I am asking me to do this.  

Today, this is the phrase I trot out for all important occasions and decisions, IF NOT NOW, WHEN???!!!

Right??  Of course, right!!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

Who Was Here First?

It’s official.  I just celebrated my 88th Birthday.

No applause.  No gifts.  Unless, of course it’s a ticket on the William Shatner and Jeff Bozos… oops, I mean Bezos, moon rocket… NOT.  Whatever days I have left I am not willing to risk it all being over while I’m in company with an actor (believe me having been one I know just how boring they can be) and a gazillionaire who like Nero before him spent his money playing with rockets while his country burned.  The jury is back.  I am wholeheartedly judgmental.  

Back to my special day.  I was gifted with a novel, Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue, a beautiful and talented Cameroon immigrant.  I began to read it.  Not at the party.  I waited until everyone was gone.  

I was talking to a friend about how good the book was.  It occurred to me that the  immigrant story is a forever story.  Whether it was then or now… forever.  And then a light bulb went on in my headball.  I am telling you my friends, it is crazy, absolutely crazy, this crazy mess and mix up of who is the immigrant and who is not.  Get it clear, my friends.  Except for the Indigenous folk and their descendants, we are all immigrants.

WHO WAS HERE FIRST?

I guarantee unless you are an Indigenous American or have American Indigenous blood in you…. it wasn’t you. This includes each and every descendant of the Jamestown Colony of Virginia and the Mayflower, AKA the Plymouth Colony, or the New York City Dutch Colonials. And let us not forget the Spaniards of Florida,  the West and Southwest, the British of the Northwest.  And by the 1800’s the ongoing stampede from Europe, the Germans, the Irish, the Greeks, the Italians, the Swedes, the Danes, the Norwegians (I Remember Mama), and oh so many other countries, as well as from every shtetl in Eastern Europe and Russia.   

I’m exploring this theme because it has brought to mind the many memoirs I have read of the more recent immigrants from Africa, Viet Nam, India, Korea, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan along with the many Latin American countries… the Islands, Central and South America.  I’m not sure about the flood (literally and figuratively) of Inuit and other Northern Eskimo tribes.  But once the Poles complete their meltdown I assure you they will be rowing their way to our shores.

OK, here is your first test. What is the difference between the immigrants of the founding countries of this yet to be United States of America and the immigrants of the last 50 years of these United States of America?

You are too smart! You are right! COLOR!

CAVEAT:  I do not count the African Black population of the 17th and 18th Century that arrived by the boatloads.  Traveling in storage, not steerage…storage!  Kidnapped, enslaved and in chains doesn’t count as travel to the new world. Journey to and in Hell is more accurate.  And as a matter of real fact, they actually weren’t counted as human at all, anyway.  That came later. What am I saying?  It’s not here yet.  Hopefully, soon.   

Here’s my question…  Would we be so up in arms about immigrants if they looked and thought and sounded like white Americans.  Wouldn’t it be great to take all the naysayers back to their roots to listen to their family accents, their family old country traditions, their difficulties in assimilation. 

Aha!  Assimilation!  Most of the white immigrants managed to assimilate… some more successfully than others.  The possibility of assimilation through work and education particularly in this country was always a possibility.  Only if you were white, of course.  

Isn’t that what this is all about?  The majority of the immigrants over the last 50 to 100 years are people of color.  Pretty hard to assimilate when ones color is the first thing you notice about a person.  

No matter what race theory you subscribe to, consciously or unconsciously, there is no getting away from being a different color.

It’s not easy being green is it?

Anyway, I find myself amused when I realize how upset everyone is about the immigrant situation. Often my amusement turns to anger when someone wants to put up a wall or chase immigrants down a river on a big horse with a big whip. That’s when I want to give them a big shake, shouting, “Hey Jerkball,  you are not an Indigenous American. Therefore, you’re an immigrant, too!  I promise you… someone in your family came here from someplace else.  Give someone else the same break your ancestors had when they arrived.  If by chance they didn’t get that break, well let me be the first one to tell you LIFE IS NOT FAIR.  And yet, even today with The Troubles (lots of the Irish immigrant in this country can definitely relate) this is a great and unique country.  There is still plenty of land.  And there is always someone willing to climb a ladder.  Got it! Get it. Good! “

However, it won’t work.  Today, no one listens to anyone. Unless you are parroting what they say.  Then, you are not really listening.  You are a parrot.  Nice feathers… no sense.

Here’s the kicker.  Anger is not helpful to my blood pressure and man, it really saps my energy.  So I am just going to do what I can for others.  Keep love on the front burner. Call it like I see it.  Have some more birthdays so I can keep Blah, Blah, Blogging.  

Right??? Of course, right!!!!

 Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

Here are lists for books and memoirs on Immigration.
https://www.businessinsider.com/best-immigrant-memoirs-books
https://www.lirs.org/books-about-immigration

And some Films.
Golden Door
America America
Amistad
PBS Trail of Tears trailer

And finally, I leave you with this…

Thoughts That Lead To Memories…

These days as my mind travels between masks, mandates, and misinformation, I attempt to find subject matter and viewer material that takes me away from the news you almost can’t get away from.  My newest distraction device is my Kindle. I shall come right out and say it. I don’t like it. I don’t think I shall ever like it.  It will never replace the beauty of the real book., As the years roll by and my ability to hold a book like Robert Caro’s The Power Broker wanes, I needed to make a change. After reading that 1,336 page book, I was forced into physical therapy for various overused body parts. It was definitely worth it, but I thought there has to be a better way. There is. The Kindle.

When I need to get away from the prevalent pontifications (enough already, all you politicians, Harry and Meghan, any Kardashian), I have found two methods. The Kindle offers easy purchase and reading of alternate favorites.  Historical novels…  The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers explores the history of an African-American family in the South from the time before the American civil war and slavery, through the Civil Rights Movement to the present… brilliant.  Abir Mukherjee’s historically fascinating mystery series, Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries about a former Scotland Yard Detective in Calcutta circa 1921 The British in India make the anti-bellum southern plantation owners look almost kind. I said almost. And non-fiction history, The Forever Wars by Dexter Filkins about the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s ongoing battle with Islamic Fundamentalism after September 11, 2001.

Yeah, yeah, eclectic selections for an eclectic mind ball.  But we all know that.

Now let’s throw in my evening television streaming.  Slim pickings until recently.  It got so bad I had to make do with reruns of Poirot, Miss Marple and Schitt’s Creek. This was no hardship. They are funny and lovely and still interesting even though I know “who done it”.   And then as September 11th, 2021 began to appear on the horizon, the streaming fare became more bountiful.  And it is interesting how without any prior planning what I was reading dovetailed with what I was watching.  

The first was the Netflix movie, Worth.  The movie follows Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton) who was appointed as the Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.  In the months and years that followed the event, he led a team in allocating a price of the lives lost for the victims’ surviving families. Was there ever supposed to be a time when for whatever reason one could put a dollar value on a human life. Back in olden days, like yesterday, a peasant’s life had no value. Actually, peasants never had any value. They were expendable. I don’t know about your heritage but I do know about mine and that’s precisely why my ancestors without language or means traveled to an unknown world in steerage (with the animals which is why they called it steer-age) from various parts of Eastern Europe and Russia because those crazy Americans prior to their Revolution had this crazy idea that all men are created equal. Insurance companies were very unhappy with Thomas Jefferson as were his slaves. Jefferson was a brilliant man with limited vision. I can’t say he was alone. There has always been an over abundance of stinking thinking peoples.

My two historical novels, one about the American South and one about the British in India, where no matter what your achievement or class you were expendable, was a prologue to Worth.

Along comes Spike Lee and his documentary, NYC Epicenters: 9/11 → 2021 ½. I tried. I really tried to watch the whole thing. I stopped in the first hour of the first part of the series.  After he made his views and opinions quite clear by the way he presented his interviewees I became bored.  And then I read a review in The New Yorker by their new television critic Doreen St. Felix about the last two hours of the documentary.  I decided to give it another try. And she was right. It begins with a glorious, technicolor, paean to New York City.  Right out of a movie.  And it is right out of a movie… On The Town with Gene Kelley, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munchin, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.  I knew I was being set up but I didn’t care.  Seeing the city in all its 1950 glory was worth it.  

I want to give myself a medal because I hung in until the end. I didn’t want to. I just couldn’t tear myself away as the tragedy began to unfold. I think one of the reasons I felt so paralyzed was because it brought back my own memories of that day.  I was in my mid-town apartment in NYC. I lived on the 8th floor. It was my neighbor’s birthday and with other 8th floor folk we were about to knock on his door with a candled cupcake to sing Happy Birthday.  Before we even knocked, he opened his door and told us to go home and turn on our television sets, “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.” I remember saying what one of the interviewees in the documentary said, “I can’t believe it. A new pilot lost his way and accidentally flew into the building”

Before I moved to mid-town, I lived for years across from The World Trade Center in Battery Park City. I was in and out of that building every day. The bar at Windows on the World restaurant was where I took friends and guests (sometimes they were actually the same) to give them the full breadth of the city. It was exciting. It was exhilarating. No other view like it.  They were WOWED. So was I.

For the first time, since 9/11/2001, I viewed the footage of what went on in my old neighborhood. I literally froze in my seat. I remember what I did after the second plane hit the second building. I had one daughter who lived off Central Park West on 92nd street. She had a one-year old baby.  

Irrationally, as they were at the opposite end of the city from where the horrors were happening, I needed to assure myself they were all right. I walked (there were no subways or any transportation) from 54th and 6th avenue to 92nd Street, passing the ash covered zombie ghosts walking up from Ground Zero. A terrifying and wrenching sight, completely incomprehensible.

When I arrived at their apartment, I kissed and hugged my children. I never wanted to let them go. It was incomplete. I needed to check my other two daughters and their children. They lived in Northampton, Massachusetts. I had a small house in Great Barrington. My NYC daughter tried to convince me Northampton had no reported terrorist incidents. I was not convinced. They had already announced there would be no trains out of the city from any of the terminals. I walked over to Pennsylvania Station.  The last Amtrak train from NYC to Albany, stopping at Hudson, New York was going to leave. No tickets were available. With every amount of emotion I could muster, I asked the Conductor if he would let me stand to Hudson. I said I didn’t need to sit. He never replied. He just turned away from me calling, “All aboard.” I took that as a sign and just slipped onto the train and stood for the two hours to Hudson where I had called a friend who was coming to Hudson to pick me up. I got my squeeze and a kiss.

I never did make sense of what happened. I did know the initial support of the world against the villains was a gift that was squandered. A missed opportunity where a human tragedy could have brought the world together was traded for WAR.  

And as a gift to yourself, if you haven’t seen the movie, watch Wag The Dog by David Mamet with Robert de niro and Dustin Hoffman. DO IT NOW.  

The non-fiction book The Forever Wars by Dexter Felkins is the continuation of 9/11.  Felkins is in Afghanistan in the early 2000’s interviewing an Afghan and asking him what he thought about 9/11.  His reply gave new meaning to the word perspective.  He responded that his world, for as long as he could remember, was always a version of 9/11.  The Afghan people have been at war willingly or not FOREVER.  From the War Lords to the British, back to the War Lords, to the Russians, back to the War Lords, to the Taliban, to the Americans, back to the Taliban.  I get the feeling it’s time for the War Lords to regroup and give it another go.  And the beat goes on…

I shall conclude with my favorite Voltaire quote (he’s a very dear and very close friend)

HISTORY DOESN’T REPEAT ITSELF.  PEOPLE DO.

It is always the simple idea that is the most difficult to enact. 

Will human beings ever realize how much we need each other?
To exist… we really need each other.

Right?  Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

Press Plaque Buildup

My Dear Friends ~

If I don’t measure the amount of media in my daily diet, I will suffer from Press Plaque Buildup.

The main symptom of this disease is cynicism.  Sometimes I don’t even know I have fallen into this state.  I am so involved in staying involved and current, I don’t see my hope and positivity  slip and slide right out of my brain ball into the flotsam on the jetsam (the lost and local river of my mind).

I am pulled back from the precipice by art or music or nature or my favorite online newsletter BRAINPICKINGS.  Replace the word NEWS with ART…which it is for me an ARTLETTER for the mind.

Recently, my level of press plaque buildup has hit a new high.  What with Afghanastan , vaccinate vs. unvaccinate, mask or unmask, airline passengers assaulting attendants, to Boost or not to Boost,  Red States vs. Blue states, why was Ted Lasso Christmas Show shown in August, my brain was spinning from positive to negative from hopeful to hopeless.

TA-DA!!!!  Like the midweek pick up it purports to be there is this wonderful article on and about Leonard Bernstein and so much of what I thought and what he did and how he navigated his creative and difficult world brought back into the light and the hope.

If any of what I’ve written resonates with you, my dear friends and family, I wish you a speedy recovery from the crazy world we live in, which by the way has always been crazy…take a look at any era… lions chasing Jews/Christians in an arena (personally I prefer to watch the Jets chase the Marlins), Whites chasing anyone of any color, Christians chasing Muslims in the Holy Land, Southerners chasing Northerners followed by Northerners chasing Southerners….endless. 

To help that recovery, please read and I promise you will be converted from a Cynic, which we all now is nothing but a disappointed idealist, to your true, beautiful hopeful self.

Right??  Of course, right!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

IF DIVORCE IS THE ONLY ANSWER, WHAT IS THE QUESTION???

Can we tawk???

OK, before we do, you have to read this article a friend recently sent me. It’s this Op-Ed piece originally from the Los Angeles Times.

Please click here to read it.  I’ll wait for you…

Stirring?? Isn’t it?? I have been reading and rereading it since I received it and I still don’t know what I think?

Not true! I do know. Here are some of my thoughts. 

Personally, I find it as humorous as the author meant it to be. However, almost as soon as I start laughing, I start crying about the utter tragedy of the whole idea. I’d love to say this is a new idea brought on by the political polarizations of the past president and his administration of four years culminating in the 2020 Presidential election, but that would not be the truth. Though I am no historian, I do know these differences were there from the very beginning.  As the representatives of the original 13 states gathered in Philadelphia from 1774-1781 every difference written about in this Divorce, American Style article, was as pronounced then as it is now. This time frame included the 1776 meeting, where the delegates read George III of Great Britain the riot act in the form of the Declaration of Independence which doubled as our Declaration of War against England.  

I would love to have been a fly on the wall (definitely a fly more better than a mosquito, don’cha think?) as they tried to hammer out their differences. And here is my own personal conclusion. They never did. You could say it was a pile up of differences; food, hobbies, language, culture, education and don’t forget the heat. Yeah, maybe, a little of this, a little of that. I say nay! It was always all about slavery aka race. The success of the economic and political life of the South was based on  the continued use and import of slaves kidnapped from Africa. And please spread the blame, from fellow Africans seeking to make a buck and settle their own political squabbles, to profits for the seafaring industry of the North. Ultimately, the largest consumers in the slave trade was the South which, at that time included Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia.  Maryland was borderline abusers/users. The Northern States were not absolved from abusing/using slaves. Simply put my friends, their numbers didn’t compare with the South.

I’m going on and on about slavery like it was the only issue because in my mind it is the only issue. Oh, sure, you have taxes, roads and many other state issues but none as huge, ugly and ever present as the story of slavery in this country.

Recently I read an article in the New Yorker about the Brits having their awareness jostled as they come to the realization of how many of the fabulous country houses in their National Trust Register were built on the backs of slaves from British plantations in the West Indies and Jamaica. Don’t even think about returning to Downton Abbey or Upstairs to the Downstairs. Or, is it the other way around? 

Back to the article. I agree with much of what Mr. Vandevelder asked for in the divorce… I don’t feel that strongly about Las Vegas or Disneyland… aren’t they the same thing??

There have been so many attempts to leave each other over the years. One that cost the lives of 618,222  Americans. A number that up until the Vietnam War surpassed all other wars combined.  No matter what they say about war, death is not a contest.  But for your edification: North: 360,222. South: 258,000. North or South, War or Peace, Death SUCKS!!!

Here’s my conclusion and I am beyond ready to listen to all arguments, discussions, pro… con… sitting on a fence… or straddling. If you can’t honor the Constitution of the United States and all its laws and amendments, if you can’t allow someone to have a different opinion from your opinion, if the only way you can respect or accept a person of any color, religion or nationality is to enslave, cage or kill them, then this dream is done.  

However, you should kow that I am always up for a last chance miracle.

The rise of the power of the internet, social and news media, promotes confusion, fear and anger to a pitch were we seem to have lost our abilities to listen or even hear each other.  If we can’t understand or communicate, we might as well throw our humanity to the lions. And let me tell you something about lions. They are not dumb. Throw a person without his or her or their humanity to the lions they will take one sniff and ⚡️SHAZAM⚡️ … VEGETARIANS!!]

So???  What’s it to be???  Hope with a soupcon of peace and reconciliation and the return of when our humanity was delicious or…

THE END

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. Oh, by the way this article was written in 2012. I am of the belief that the only constant in life is change… or is it?

Congress: Has it always been this way??

My Dear Friends and Family,

“So what is she talking about, now?”

So glad you asked. And if you thought you’d get a direct answer…fuggetaboutit!

Most know I am the 7th of 8 siblings. Of the 8 only 4 remain. The three youngest (oh, to be called youngest at 90, 88, 85) and the oldest brother of the whole clan… 101 years young with all his marbles intact.  Periodically, we check in with each other. 

A sample check in:

Sally-Jane:  Hi, Raymond, how are you?

Raymond:  Still here.

Sally-Jane:  This is a good thing.

Raymond:  It’ll do until something better comes along.

Sally-Jane:  That’s why you are still here. There is nothing better.

Raymond:  I’ll take your word for it.

Sally-Jane:  So what are you reading?

Raymond: For Liberty and Glory by James R. Gaines.  It’s about Washington, Lafayette and their Revolutions.  I am really enjoying it.

Sally-Jane:  Oh, yes, I read about it. I’d like to read it.

Raymond:  Well, I’ll send it to you when I finish it. 

Sally-Jane:  Great!

Raymond:  On second thought you better get your own copy.  At the rate I read, maybe you’ll get it before I die, maybe you won’t. 

I got my own copy. Reading it provoked the above question, “Congress. Has it always been thus?”

The Continental Congress in July of 1776, adopted the Declaration of Independence proclaiming the former colonies of Great Britain to be independent sovereign states, declaring war on Great Britain . 

There were no political parties at the 1776 Congress. There were just 13 SOVEREIGN STATES… maybe like 13 political parties.  How were  the representatives of Massachusetts going to agree with representatives of New York, no less with representatives of South Carolina; issues of culture, geography, climate, to put self interest before common interest.  All issues combined to make their individual State legislatures vastly more important than any central government.  

Indeed, the first several Congresses after the Second Continental Congress, which was the Congress of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War were all Unicameral, That is, no political parties… just sovereign states, each one pulling in their own direction to fulfill their duties as representatives of their States.  Most representatives of the original 13 states wanted a weak Central Government allowing them to deal directly with their own local issues as they saw fit. There were only a few who thought a strong Central Government would be much better for the nascent nation; better for issues of economics and foreign intervention. There is strength in numbers. Even I, who needs all my fingers and toes to count, know that 13 against 1 or 2 has a better chance of succeeding. Let’s face it, if all 13 didn’t agree to sign the Declaration of Independence which was a declaration of war against Great Britain, we would all be having tea with milk, fish and chips in an old newspaper, and singing God Save The Queen instead of God Bless America. I realize for some this would not be a bad thing.  I am totally aware how this country is bonkers over British Royalty.  Diana is more celebrated today than she was over twenty years ago. For that matter so is Victoria, Elizabeth I, and dare I even mention the Royal Soap Opera for all time, Downton Abbey.  But I digress…so what else is new?

OK back to Congress. The divide in the United States that I find so disturbing today had its beginning in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia 1787. The Constitution was a plan developed for a stronger federal government with three branches – executive, legislative and judicial – along with a system of checks and balances to ensure no single branch would have too much power.

From that moment, this country has always been divided between States Righters and Federalists.  A really interesting not so side fact is that prior to Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency, all Senators were appointed by the Governors and Legislatures of the individual states. Under Wilson’s term in 1913, the 17th Amendment to the Constitution changed the words, “chosen by the legislatures thereof” to “elected by the people, thereof”.  Make of that what you will. Personally, I think it was supposed to open the Senatorial selections away from State Politics (aka legislature) to the State’s population. However, if the state’s population is as divided as the legislature… what’s the difference?

I’m sorry, my dear friends. I get carried away by the history involved in birthing this country and in doing so lose my way.  Get to the point, already, for goodness sake. 

In reading this book about the struggle George Washington had in winning the  American Revolution, I see that the albatross around his neck was the Second Continental Congress. They signed the Declaration of Independence, which was a very brave and courageous thing to do, and then ignored most of the requests and pleas and beggings of George Washington to fortify and supply the Army that was fighting for Independence. This Congress did everything in its power to focus on their own and their state’s individual needs and ignore the battles for Liberty and Freedom that were going on all around them. (brilliantly depicted in the movie 1776)

OK here’s the question for you to answer… is it in the nature of the beast (aka Congress and humans)  wherein self and local issues will always outweigh the common good and as the world turns, is it harder for the individual of good purpose to make a difference, no less get elected?  And the biggest question of all, HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY?  Whatcha think?   

Hey guys, before you think… I have an important recommendation for you.  For the most wonderful and powerful depiction of this Second Continental Congress please see the movie musical 1776. It is brilliant and written with historic accuracy.  I promise you. You will love it.

As a matter of fact, it is in that movie the seeds of my question about the ultimate fate of Congress is first planted.  

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

Losing or Gaining Perspective?

My Dear Friends and Family,

The Confession: I love music. However, I am not now or have I ever considered myself expert in the field of music… modern, classical, R&B, pop. I simply know what I like and what I don’t like. I think I would qualify as your average, every day, listener, EXCEPT for my opinionated Big Mouth. 

The Disclaimer:  Yes I was a singer.  Yes I was a dancer.  Yes I played a very bad piano.  All to say I knew about music… definitively not as an expert but as a participating viewer, listener and performer.

This information is leading you to an adventure I had in the world of music and, oh, so much more, on Hulu Streaming last Friday evening:  Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) Over the course of six weeks during the summer of 1969, thousands of people attended the Harlem Cultural Festival to celebrate Black history, culture, music and fashion held in Morris Park in the Bronx (an almost as infamous borough as Brooklyn, but not quite).

I am and always will be the Brooklyn girl who had friends and went to school with all races and religions.  In 1969, I was thirty-six.  OMG was I ever 36? I guess I had to have been to get to 37 and on up and up and up. My life was circumscribed by my children and my career. In combination, there was not a spare breath for any other activity. I was living  and  working in Washington, D.C., a recently desegregated Southern city that had been rocked by the recent assassinations of Malcom X, Martin Luther King, JFK, Bobby Kennedy. Of course I was aware of the Happening in Woodstock… the crazies invading a bucolic setting in New York State where wild men and women made music, love, drank wine, did drugs and more… a veritable hippie Sodom and Gomorrah.

In 1969, the whole world knew about Woodstock. 
In 1969, no one knew about the Summer of Soul concerts in Morris Park.

The only people that knew about the Summer of Soul concerts in Morris Park were the 40,000 to 50,000 people who attended them. Definitely a Black majority coming out of Harlem… which is where the subtitle (When The Revolution Could Not be Televised) comes from.  Woodstock had television and movie studios vying for the rights to film the concert. Summer of Soul sponsors had to beg for money to film and record their concerts.  And we are thankful for those sponsors that had the foresight to make a record of an historical and cultural moment in Black History 52 years before BLACK LIVES MATTER.

I could do chapter and verse about the difference between Woodstock and Morris Park… it wouldn’t work… it’d be comparing apples and oranges. They are just two different fruits or vegetables. There is a striking difference, however, other than color in the demeanor of the attendees of Woodstock and Morris Park.  A psychologist would have a grand time looking at the behavioral differences.  Considering the line up of this concert, it will be no hardship for you to watch this concert and make your own evaluation.  A picture is worth a thousand words. 

These artists are enough to pump even this ‘ole soul. Stevie Wonder (looking like he’s 12), Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, The 5th Dimension, The Chamber Brothers, David Ruffin (I didn’t know him, but I did know My Girl), Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach, Jesse Jackson (not singing but speaking eloquently), and an unbelievably incredible and stirring performance by Nina Simone.  There are so many more and I am showing my ignorance by not knowing them before this documentary.  

The point is I know them now. To watch these beautiful artists, is to be reminded of how long it takes this nation , indivisible (we hope), under God, to change a light bulb and the way it thinks.

Yup, as the privileged white woman watching this concert, I went through it all.  From despair to hope.  I am happy to report I came out on the side of HOPE.  That is what good music always does for me.

Right???  Of course, right!!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

What Has La Brea Tar Pits To Do With Herd Immunity?

My Dear Friends –                  

I have had some interesting discussions with friends and acquaintances who have refused vaccinations. Now we all know how ridiculously judgmental I can be… not all the time, but enough of the time to make these discussions, in polite terms, volatile. The reasons against Covid-19 vaccination run the gambit from “not enough time” to “prove the efficacy of the drug” to “political chicanery” from all parties, including current and former Presidents as well as everyone in the House and the Senate, ad infinitum.  

Now, I shall acknowledge the use and abuse of both parties to politicize the vaccinations.  Science has always had difficulties with the powers that be. Religion and science have made nice over the centuries. They are still suspicious of each other but my take, at least in the United States, is that slowly, very slowly, religion has begun to take its proper place in the pantheon of life as a support system for individuals… part of the four freedoms… freedom of worship.  My belief is that this freedom will allow Science and Religion to co-inhabit the world. Imagine that!!

Over the past pandemic year in isolation I have been keeping good company with myself. Herein lies a recent conversation I’ve had with me:

What is behind the rejection of vaccination?  FEAR!!

Duh!!!  So tell us something we don’t know????

OK, I’ll try.

I’m stumped.

Go to Google.

Again?

Yes, again!

Oh, this is good… it’s almost as though Google knew what I was thinking.

That’s what they are paid for.   

Listen to this quote from Bertrand Russell.

Who?

British Philosopher (1872-1970)

Right!

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct and tends to produce ferocity towards those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”

Yeah, soooooo….

So this Covid Pandemic has frightened all of us… some to death, some to illness, some to lockdown, some to boredom, some to anger, most to confusion and paralysis.

Wow!  Puts me in mind of the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.

Excuse me?

The Tar Pits outside of Hancock Park. Over many centuries, the tar pits preserved the bones of trapped animals.  

Excuse me?

Here’s the story!  Back thousands of years ago there was an approaching climate change.  Over the centuries there were many climate changes. You know like another Ice Age or heat wave or drought… there weren’t too many deniers of climate change back then because there weren’t that many humans and there were no political parties. However, most of the animals and the few humans had very sharpened animal instincts. The largest of which was survival. Survival and fear go hand in hand. So picture the dinosaurs chomping away on trees and grass (yes most of them were vegetarians) and as the weather changed, their survival/fear instinct was aroused.  Now they loved L.A. but those who followed their instincts left Hancock Park and moved north to where they found safety for many millenniums along with evolutionary changes.  

Today you can see the remnants of those who ignored their survival/fear instincts and became trapped in the ooze of the La Brea Tar Pits.  

What has that got to do with anything?

Sometimes talking to myself is so difficult. Do I have to spell everything out for you?

Please…

It’s called species adaptation. Species that adapt to changes survive. Species that don’t… don’t!

Yeah?  So what?

Don’t you see. We have two herds. We have the Vaccine Herd Immunizers or the VHI.  We have the No Vaccine Herd Immunizers or the NVHI.  Both herds fear Covid.  However, once the scientists and the FDA approved the vaccines, the VHI team lined up, pushed ahead and did whatever to get their shot. They moved. They adapted.  Yes, into the unknown but for them the known was death and illness and no hugs.

The NVHI are waiting and thinking. Not adapting. Still chomping on leaves and grass.

La Brea Tar Pits… now do you get it?

Not to worry. I am donating my brain to Science.

All, to say my dear ones, I’m not telling you what to do, God Forbid, when have I ever done that?  

If you want to survive to fear again…

Pick the right Herd!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. A lesson in LIFE for Pro and Anti vaxxers… please stream the very brilliant and moving PBS American Masters biography of Oliver Sacks.  

As Auntie Mame so eloquently said: “ Life is a banquet. And most poor suckers are starving to death.”

How A Judgemental Know-it-all Can Change Her Mind

Dear friends and family,

I wrote this Blah, Blah Blog yesterday.  This morning I read about the  new approach the prosecution is preparing for the impeachment of our former President.  I now think the trial is going to be a constructive and instructive history lesson for all Americans and frankly, for everyone in the world who is interested in “FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ALL”.  So here’s what I’m going to do.  I am going to share what I wrote yesterday as a look into my own thought processes which normally are hidden and unfathomable even to me.  I’d like to think it shows with continued exploration and investigation,  I can be reached and even to the point of , dare I say it, changing my point of view.  I don’t know about you, but in the climate of today’s polarizations on almost everything, that is a really big deal. 

YESTERDAY’S THINKING AND WRITING:


A dear friend recently asked me if I was going to watch the televised impeachment trial.

I said I would not.

Not because I am not curious and concerned which I most certainly am.

My personal belief, after listening many times to his speech to the gathered mob in front of the White House on January 6th,  is that our former President is guilty of inciting a mob to attack the Capitol.  Also, my personal belief is that in counting the votes, it is most unlikely he will be found guilty.  I ask myself, “Myself, why do I want to put myself through the disappointment of once again watching as the course of justice moves along “party lines”.  And listening again to the rehashing of the lies, the same ‘ole-same ‘ole of no one listening to no one, which is utterly negative and depressing.”  And so I shall await the expected verdict as I finish reading the extraordinary autobiography of Frederick Douglass.

Like I said, it’s an old childhood coping mechanism I developed against disappointment.

Allow me to elucidate.

As a child in a very large family where I always felt like an alien, my first defense was, of course, I was adopted.  These were not my real parents.  And these were not my real siblings.   But my most favorite coping mechanism was my fantasy of being rescued. 

 

Many were the nights where I would go to the living room where the radio/phonograph was (no television at that time) and put on a record of classical music (it mattered not which… although I did tend towards Chopin and Johannes Strauss waltzes) and danced until I dropped or until someone in the family complained (a frequent occurrence).  The dancing was definitely a release but the dream that attended the dance was more important.  As I danced, my fantasy was that Cecil B. De Mille was walking by my house (in Boro Park, Brooklyn), heard the music, looked in through the windows to see me giving it my all, immediately  he went to my front door, My mother would answer. Mr. De Mille would give her his card and tell my mother that he needed me desperately for his next movie. Reluctantly and sometimes not so reluctantly she agreed, packed my ballet bag with my leotard, dancing shoes, and a package of Twinkies and I was off to Hollywood where I had always known I had belonged.  

Eventually, I had to come down from fantasy to reality, my parents still owned me and being number 7 of 8 meant my siblings claimed me for errands and punishments befitting my station which meant I had to affect my own escape when I was able… it took a while, but I did. The best part of these childhood fantasies? They have moved with me. 

At 87 years of age that child is still alive and well in me and I’ve got some doozie headline fantasies to prove it:


TODAY:

That was yesterday’s mashed potatoes and tomorrow I hope the promise of a more vital prosecution is fulfilled. And just remember, if not… there are always reruns of All In the Family.

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. Randy Rainbow did this fabulous political parody from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof. For me, this says it all! ENJOY!

P.P.S. Don’t let your blood pressure rise during the trial.  Here’s my remedy:

The Way Pete Souza Sees It Is the Way I See It

Criticizing and judging is no longer satisfying to me. What is satisfying is exemplifying what I as an American citizen and a human, empathetic, compassionate being have been missing. I could write reams about it, but it has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

So, why don’t I shut up and let you see what I mean…

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. You can view the full documentary on your favorite streaming service.