Knock and the door will be opened to you. Luke 11:9
Do what you love, that is the secret, the cornerstone to giving yourself an abundant life. The opportunities to make a living at what we love are all around us, they are not rare things. What is rare is our commitment to making those opportunities happen for us. John William Tuohy
I had a peaceful (if unshaven) Sunday, Mary talked me into going with her for a pedicure...Guys, the women are really on to something with this. My feet have never felt better, especially in light of the fact that I have double E wide flat feet.
Mary and I at the WW2 memorial downtown this past weekend.
THE BEAT POETS..........................
THE BEAT POETS
Beat poetry evolved during the 1940s in both New York City and on the west coast, although San Francisco became the heart of the movement in the early 1950s. The end of World War II left poets like Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso questioning mainstream politics and culture.
A Brief Guide to the Beat Poets | Academy of American Poets https://www.poets.org/poetsorg
A SHORT STORY
Little Speck in Garnered Fruit
A short story by O Henry
The honeymoon was at its full. There was a flat with the reddest of new carpets, tasselled portieres and six steins with pewter lids arranged on a ledge above the wainscoting of the dining-room. The wonder of it was yet upon them. Neither of them had ever seen a yellow primrose by the river's brim; but if such a sight had met their eyes at that time it would have seemed like--well, whatever the poet expected the right kind of people to see in it besides a primrose.
The bride sat in the rocker with her feet resting upon the world. She was wrapt in rosy dreams and a kimono of the same hue. She wondered what the people in Greenland and Tasmania and Beloochistan were saying one to another about her marriage to Kid McGarry. Not that it made any difference. There was no welter-weight from London to the Southern Cross that could stand up four hours--no; four rounds--with her bridegroom. And he had been hers for three weeks; and the crook of her little finger could sway him more than the fist of any 142-pounder in the world.
Love, when it is ours, is the other name for self-abnegation and sacrifice. When it belongs to people across the airshaft it means arrogance and self-conceit.
The bride crossed her oxfords and looked thoughtfully at the distemper Cupids on the ceiling.
"Precious," said she, with the air of Cleopatra asking Antony for Rome done up in tissue paper and delivered at residence, "I think I would like a peach."
Kid McGarry arose and put on his coat and hat. He was serious, shaven, sentimental, and spry.
"All right," said he, as coolly as though he were only agreeing to sign articles to fight the champion of England. "I'll step down and cop one out for you--see?"
"Don't be long," said the bride. "I'll be lonesome without my naughty boy. Get a nice, ripe one."
After a series of farewells that would have befitted an imminent voyage to foreign parts, the Kid went down to the street.
Here he not unreasonably hesitated, for the season was yet early spring, and there seemed small chance of wresting anywhere from those chill streets and stores the coveted luscious guerdon of summer's golden prime.
At the Italian's fruit-stand on the corner he stopped and cast a contemptuous eye over the display of papered oranges, highly polished apples and wan, sun-hungry bananas.
"Gotta da peach?" asked the Kid in the tongue of Dante, the lover of lovers.
"Ah, no,--" sighed the vender. "Not for one mont com-a da peach. Too soon. Gotta da nice-a orange. Like-a da orange?"
Scornful, the Kid pursued his quest. He entered the all-night chop-house, cafe, and bowling-alley of his friend and admirer, Justus O'Callahan. The O'Callahan was about in his institution, looking for leaks.
"I want it straight," said the Kid to him. "The old woman has got a hunch that she wants a peach. Now, if you've got a peach, Cal, get it out quick. I want it and others like it if you've got 'em in plural quantities."
"The house is yours," said O'Callahan. "But there's no peach in it. It's too soon. I don't suppose you could even find 'em at one of the Broadway joints. That's too bad. When a lady fixes her mouth for a certain kind of fruit nothing else won't do. It's too late now to find any of the first-class fruiterers open. But if you think the missis would like some nice oranges I've just got a box of fine ones in that she might--"
"Much obliged, Cal. It's a peach proposition right from the ring of the gong. I'll try further."
The time was nearly midnight as the Kid walked down the West-Side avenue. Few stores were open, and such as were practically hooted at the idea of a peach.
But in her moated flat the bride confidently awaited her Persian fruit. A champion welter-weight not find a peach?--not stride triumphantly over the seasons and the zodiac and the almanac to fetch an Amsden's June or a Georgia cling to his owny-own?
The Kid's eye caught sight of a window that was lighted and gorgeous with nature's most entrancing colors. The light suddenly went out. The Kid sprinted and caught the fruiterer locking his door.
"Peaches?" said he, with extreme deliberation.
"Well, no, Sir. Not for three or four weeks yet. I haven't any idea where you might find some. There may be a few in town from under the glass, but they'd be hard to locate. Maybe at one of the more expensive hotels--some place where there's plenty of money to waste. I've got some very fine oranges, though--from a shipload that came in to-day."
The Kid lingered on the corner for a moment, and then set out briskly toward a pair of green lights that flanked the steps of a building down a dark side street.
"Captain around anywhere?" he asked of the desk sergeant of the police station.
At that moment the captain came briskly forward from the rear. He was in plain clothes and had a busy air.
"Hello, Kid," he said to the pugilist. "Thought you were bridal-touring?
"Got back yesterday. I'm a solid citizen now. Think I'll take an interest in municipal doings. How would it suit you to get into Denver Dick's place to-night, Cap?
"Past performances," said the captain, twisting his moustache. "Denver was closed up two months ago."
"Correct," said the Kid. "Rafferty chased him out of the Forty-third. He's running in your precinct now, and his game's bigger than ever. I'm down on this gambling business. I can put you against his game."
"In my precinct?" growled the captain. "Are you sure, Kid? I'll take it as a favor. Have you got the entree? How is it to be done?"
"Hammers," said the Kid. "They haven't got any steel on the doors yet. You'll need ten men. No, they won't let me in the place. Denver has been trying to do me. He thought I tipped him off for the other raid. I didn't, though. You want to hurry. I've got to get back home. The house is only three blocks from here."
Before ten minutes had sped the captain with a dozen men stole with their guide into the hallway of a dark and virtuous-looking building in which many businesses were conducted by day.
"Third floor, rear," said the Kid, softly. "I'll lead the way."
Two axemen faced the door that he pointed out to them.
"It seems all quiet," said the captain, doubtfully. "Are you sure your tip is straight?"
"Cut away!" said the Kid. "It's on me if it ain't."
The axes crashed through the as yet unprotected door. A blaze of light from within poured through the smashed panels. The door fell, and the raiders sprang into the room with their guns handy.
The big room was furnished with the gaudy magnificence dear to Denver Dick's western ideas. Various well-patronized games were in progress. About fifty men who were in the room rushed upon the police in a grand break for personal liberty. The plain-clothes men had to do a little club-swinging. More than half the patrons escaped.
Denver Dick had graced his game with his own presence that night. He led the rush that was intended to sweep away the smaller body of raiders, But when he saw the Kid his manner became personal. Being in the heavyweight class he cast himself joyfully upon his slighter enemy, and they rolled down a flight of stairs in each other's arms. On the landing they separated and arose, and then the Kid was able to use some of his professional tactics, which had been useless to him while in the excited clutch of a 200-pound sporting gentleman who was about to lose $20,000 worth of paraphernalia.
After vanquishing his adversary the Kid hurried upstairs and through the gambling-room into a smaller apartment connecting by an arched doorway.
Here was a long table set with choicest chinaware and silver, and lavishly furnished with food of that expensive and spectacular sort of which the devotees of sport are supposed to be fond. Here again was to be perceived the liberal and florid taste of the gentleman with the urban cognomenal prefix.
A No. 10 patent leather shoe protruded a few of its inches outside the tablecloth along the floor. The Kid seized this and plucked forth a black man in a white tie and the garb of a servitor.
"Get up!" commanded the Kid. "Are you in charge of this free lunch?"
"Yes, sah, I was. Has they done pinched us ag'in, boss?"
"Looks that way. Listen to me. Are there any peaches in this layout? If there ain't I'll have to throw up the sponge."
"There was three dozen, sah, when the game opened this evenin'; but I reckon the gentlemen done eat 'em all up. If you'd like to eat a fust-rate orange, sah, I kin find you some."
"Get busy," ordered the Kid, sternly, "and move whatever peach crop you've got quick or there'll be trouble. If anybody oranges me again to-night, I'll knock his face off."
The raid on Denver Dick's high-priced and prodigal luncheon revealed one lone, last peach that had escaped the epicurean jaws of the followers of chance. Into the Kid's pocket it went, and that indefatigable forager departed immediately with his prize. With scarcely a glance at the scene on the sidewalk below, where the officers were loading their prisoners into the patrol wagons, he moved homeward with long, swift strides.
His heart was light as he went. So rode the knights back to Camelot after perils and high deeds done for their ladies fair. The Kid's lady had commanded him and he had obeyed. True, it was but a peach that she had craved; but it had been no small deed to glean a peach at midnight from that wintry city where yet the February snows lay like iron. She had asked for a peach; she was his bride; in his pocket the peach was warming in his hand that held it for fear that it might fall out and be lost.
On the way the Kid turned in at an all-night drug store and said to the spectacled clerk:
"Say, sport, I wish you'd size up this rib of mine and see if it's broke. I was in a little scrap and bumped down a flight or two of stairs."
The druggist made an examination. "It isn't broken," was his diagnosis, "but you have a bruise there that looks like you'd fallen off the Flatiron twice."
"That's all right," said the Kid. "Let's have your clothesbrush, please."
The bride waited in the rosy glow of the pink lamp shade. The miracles were not all passed away. By breathing a desire for some slight thing--a flower, a pomegranate, a--oh, yes, a peach--she could send forth her man into the night, into the world which could not withstand him, and he would do her bidding.
And now he stood by her chair and laid the peach in her hand.
"Naughty boy!" she said, fondly. "Did I say a peach? I think I would much rather have had an orange."
Blest be the bride.
O. Henry was the pen name of American writer William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910). O. Henry's short stories are well known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization and clever twist endings.
William Sidney Porter was born on September 11, 1862, in Greensboro, North Carolina. His middle name at birth was Sidney; he changed the spelling to Sydney in 1898. His parents were Dr. Algernon Sidney Porter (1825–1888), a physician, and Mary Jane Virginia Swaim Porter (1833–1865). They were married April 20, 1858. When William was three, his mother died from tuberculosis, and he and his father moved into the home of his paternal grandmother. As a child, Porter was always reading. He read everything from classics to dime novels. His favorite work was One Thousand and One Nights.
Porter graduated from his Aunt Evelina Maria Porter's elementary school in 1876. He then enrolled at the Lindsey Street High School. His aunt continued to tutor him until he was fifteen. In 1879, he started working in his uncle's drugstore and in 1881, at the age of nineteen, he was licensed as a pharmacist. At the drugstore, he also showed off his natural artistic talents by sketching the townsfolk.
Porter traveled with Dr. James K. Hall to Texas in March 1882, hoping that a change of air would help alleviate a persistent cough he had developed. He took up residence on the sheep ranch of Richard Hall, James' son, in La Salle County and helped out as a shepherd, ranch hand, cook and baby-sitter. While on the ranch, he learned bits of Spanish and German from the mix of immigrant ranch hands. He also spent time reading classic literature. Porter's health did improve and he traveled with Richard to Austin in 1884, where he decided to remain and was welcomed into the home of the Harrells, who were friends of Richard's. Porter took a number of different jobs over the next several years, first as pharmacist then as a draftsman, bank teller and journalist. He also began writing as a sideline.
Porter led an active social life in Austin, including membership in singing and drama groups. Porter was a good singer and musician. He played both the guitar and mandolin. He became a member of the "Hill City Quartet," a group of young men who sang at gatherings and serenaded young women of the town. Porter met and began courting Athol Estes, then seventeen years old and from a wealthy family. Her mother objected to the match because Athol was ill, suffering from tuberculosis. On July 1, 1887, Porter eloped with Athol to the home of Reverend R. K. Smoot, where they were married.
The couple continued to participate in musical and theater groups, and Athol encouraged her husband to pursue his writing. Athol gave birth to a son in 1888, who died hours after birth, and then a daughter, Margaret Worth Porter, in September 1889. Porter's friend Richard Hall became Texas Land Commissioner and offered Porter a job. Porter started as a draftsman at the Texas General Land Office (GLO) in 1887 at a salary of $100 a month, drawing maps from surveys and field notes. The salary was enough to support his family, but he continued his contributions to magazines and newspapers.
In the GLO building, he began developing characters and plots for such stories as "Georgia's Ruling" (1900), and "Buried Treasure" (1908). The castle-like building he worked in was even woven into some of his tales such as "Bexar Scrip No. 2692" (1894). His job at the GLO was a political appointment by Hall. Hall ran for governor in the election of 1890 but lost. Porter resigned in early 1891 when the new governor was sworn in. The same year, Porter began working at the First National Bank of Austin as a teller and bookkeeper at the same salary he had made at the GLO.
The bank was operated informally and Porter had trouble keeping track of his books. In 1894, he was accused by the bank of embezzlement and lost his job but was not indicted. He now worked full time on his humorous weekly called The Rolling Stone, which he started while working at the bank. The Rolling Stone featured satire on life, people and politics and included Porter's short stories and sketches. Although eventually reaching a top circulation of 1500, The Rolling Stone failed in April 1895, perhaps because of Porter's poking fun at powerful people. Porter also may have ceased publication as the paper never provided the money he needed to support his family. By then, his writing and drawings caught the attention of the editor at the Houston Post.
Porter and his family moved to Houston in 1895, where he started writing for the Post. His salary was only $25 a month, but it rose steadily as his popularity increased. Porter gathered ideas for his column by hanging out in hotel lobbies and observing and talking to people there. This was a technique he used throughout his writing career. While he was in Houston, the First National Bank of Austin was audited and the federal auditors found several discrepancies. They managed to get a federal indictment against Porter. Porter was subsequently arrested on charges of embezzlement, charges which he denied, in connection with his employment at the bank.
Porter's father-in-law posted bail to keep Porter out of jail, but the day before Porter was due to stand trial on July 7, 1896, he fled, first to New Orleans and later to Honduras. While holed up in a Tegucigalpa hotel for several months, he wrote Cabbages and Kings, in which he coined the term "banana republic" to describe the country, subsequently used to describe almost any small, unstable tropical nation in Latin America. Porter had sent Athol and Margaret back to Austin to live with Athol's parents. Unfortunately, Athol became too ill to meet Porter in Honduras as Porter planned. When he learned that his wife was dying, Porter returned to Austin in February 1897 and surrendered to the court, pending an appeal. Once again, Porter's father-in-law posted bail so Porter could stay with Athol and Margaret.
Athol Estes Porter died on July 25, 1897 from tuberculosis (then known as consumption). Porter, having little to say in his own defense, was found guilty of embezzlement in February 1898, sentenced to five years jail, and imprisoned on March 25, 1898, as federal prisoner 30664 at the Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio. While in prison, Porter, as a licensed pharmacist, worked in the prison hospital as the night druggist. Porter was given his own room in the hospital wing, and there is no record that he actually spent time in the cell block of the prison. He had fourteen stories published under various pseudonyms while he was in prison, but was becoming best known as "O. Henry", a pseudonym that first appeared over the story "Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking" in the December 1899 issue of McClure's Magazine. A friend of his in New Orleans would forward his stories to publishers, so they had no idea the writer was imprisoned. Porter was released on July 24, 1901, for good behavior after serving three years. Porter reunited with his daughter Margaret, now age 11, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Athol's parents had moved after Porter's conviction. Margaret was never told that her father had been in prison - just that he had been away on business.
Porter's most prolific writing period started in 1902, when he moved to New York City to be near his publishers. While there, he wrote 381 short stories. He wrote a story a week for over a year for the New York World Sunday Magazine. His wit, characterization and plot twists were adored by his readers, but often panned by critics. Porter married again in 1907, to childhood sweetheart Sarah (Sallie) Lindsey Coleman, whom he met again after revisiting his native state of North Carolina. However, despite the success of his short stories being published in magazines and collections (or perhaps because of the attendant pressure that success brought), Porter drank heavily.
His health began to deteriorate in 1908, which affected his writing. Sarah left him in 1909, and Porter died on June 5, 1910, of cirrhosis of the liver, complications of diabetes and an enlarged heart. After funeral services in New York City, he was buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Asheville, North Carolina. His daughter, Margaret Worth Porter, died in 1927 and was buried with her father.
O. Henry stories are famous for their surprise endings, to the point that such an ending is often referred to as an "O. Henry ending." He was called the American answer to Guy de Maupassant. Both authors wrote twist endings, but O. Henry stories were much more playful and optimistic. His stories are also well known for witty narration. Most of O. Henry's stories are set in his own time, the early years of the 20th century. Many take place in New York City, and deal for the most part with ordinary people: clerks, policemen and waitresses.
Fundamentally a product of his time, O. Henry's work provides one of the best English examples of catching the entire flavor of an age. Whether roaming the cattle-lands of Texas, exploring the art of the "gentle grafter," or investigating the tensions of class and wealth in turn-of-the-century New York, O. Henry had an inimitable hand for isolating some element of society and describing it with an incredible economy and grace of language. Some of his best and least-known work resides in the collection Cabbages and Kings, a series of stories which each explore some individual aspect of life in a paralytically sleepy Central American town while each advancing some aspect of the larger plot and relating back one to another in a complex structure which slowly explicates its own background even as it painstakingly erects a town which is one of the most detailed literary creations of the period.
The Four Million is another collection of stories. It opens with a reference to Ward McAllister's "assertion that there were only 'Four Hundred' people in New York City who were really worth noticing. But a wiser man has arisen—the census taker—and his larger estimate of human interest has been preferred in marking out the field of these little stories of the 'Four Million.'" To O. Henry, everyone in New York counted. He had an obvious affection for the city, which he called "Bagdad-on-the-Subway," and many of his stories are set there—but others are set in small towns and in other cities.
Among his most famous stories are:
· "A Municipal Report" which opens by quoting Frank Norris: "Fancy a novel about Chicago or Buffalo, let us say, or Nashville, Tennessee! There are just three big cities in the United States that are 'story cities'—New York, of course, New Orleans, and, best of the lot, San Francisco." Thumbing his nose at Norris, O. Henry sets the story in Nashville.
· "The Gift of the Magi" about a young couple who are short of money but desperately want to buy each other Christmas gifts. Unbeknownst to Jim, Della sells her most valuable possession, her beautiful hair, in order to buy a platinum fob chain for Jim's watch; while unbeknownst to Della, Jim sells his own most valuable possession, his watch, to buy jeweled combs for Della's hair. The essential premise of this story has been copied, re-worked, parodied, and otherwise re-told countless times in the century since it was written.
· "The Ransom of Red Chief", in which two men kidnap a boy of ten. The boy turns out to be so bratty and obnoxious that the desperate men ultimately pay the boy's father $250 to take him back.
· "The Cop and the Anthem" about a New York City hobo named Soapy, who sets out to get arrested so he can avoid sleeping in the cold winter as a guest of the city jail. Despite efforts at petty theft, vandalism, disorderly conduct, and "mashing" with a young prostitute, Soapy fails to draw the attention of the police. Disconsolate, he pauses in front of a church, where an organ anthem inspires him to clean up his life — and is ironically charged for loitering and sentenced to three months in prison.
· "A Retrieved Reformation", which tells the tale of safecracker Jimmy Valentine, recently freed from prison. He goes to a town bank to check it over before he robs it. As he walks to the door, he catches the eye of the banker's beautiful daughter. They immediately fall in love and Valentine decides to give up his criminal career. He moves into the town, taking up the identity of Ralph Spencer, a shoemaker. Just as he is about to leave to deliver his specialized tools to an old associate, a lawman who recognizes him arrives at the bank. Jimmy and his fiancée and her family are at the bank, inspecting a new safe, when a child accidentally gets locked inside the airtight vault. Knowing it will seal his fate, Valentine opens the safe to rescue the child. However, the lawman lets him go.
· "After Twenty Years", set on a dark street in New York, focuses on a man named "Silky" Bob who is fulfilling an appointment made 20 years ago to meet his friend Jimmy at a restaurant. A beat cop questions him about what he is doing there. Bob explains, and the policeman leaves. Later, a second policeman comes up and arrests Bob. He gives Bob a note, in which the first policeman explains that he was Jimmy, come to meet Bob, but he recognized Bob as a wanted man. Unwilling to arrest his old friend, he went off to get another officer to make the arrest.
· "Compliments of the Season" describes several characters' misadventures during Christmas.
· Friends in San Rosario, about embezzlement, a bank audit and loyalty to an old friend, bears poignantly upon Porter's real-life prison experience.
Porter gave various explanations for the origin of his pen name. In 1909 he gave an interview to The New York Times, in which he gave an account of it: It was during these New Orleans days that I adopted my pen name of O. Henry. I said to a friend: "I'm going to send out some stuff. I don't know if it amounts to much, so I want to get a literary alias. Help me pick out a good one." He suggested that we get a newspaper and pick a name from the first list of notables that we found in it. In the society columns we found the account of a fashionable ball. "Here we have our notables," said he. We looked down the list and my eye lighted on the name Henry, "That'll do for a last name," said I. "Now for a first name. I want something short. None of your three-syllable names for me." "Why don’t you use a plain initial letter, then?" asked my friend. "Good," said I, "O is about the easiest letter written, and O it is."
A newspaper once wrote and asked me what the O stands for. I replied, "O stands for Olivier the French for Oliver." And several of my stories accordingly appeared in that paper under the name Olivier Henry. Writer and scholar Guy Davenport offers another explanation: "[T]he pseudonym that he began to write under in prison is constructed from the first two letters of Ohio and the second and last two of penitentiary."
The O. Henry Award is a prestigious annual prize given to outstanding short stories, and named after Porter. Several schools around the country bear Porter's pseudonym.
This is a book of short stories taken from the things I saw and heard in my childhood in the factory town of Ansonia in southwestern Connecticut.
Most of these stories, or as true as I recall them because I witnessed these events many years ago through the eyes of child and are retold to you now with the pen and hindsight of an older man. The only exception is the story Beat Time which is based on the disappearance of Beat poet Lew Welch. Decades before I knew who Welch was, I was told that he had made his from California to New Haven, Connecticut, where was an alcoholic living in a mission. The notion fascinated me and I filed it away but never forgot it.
The collected stories are loosely modeled around Joyce’s novel, Dubliners (I also borrowed from the novels character and place names. Ivy Day, my character in “Local Orphan is Hero” is also the name of chapter in Dubliners, etc.) and like Joyce I wanted to write about my people, the people I knew as a child, the working class in small town America and I wanted to give a complete view of them as well. As a result the stories are about the divorced, Gays, black people, the working poor, the middle class, the lost and the found, the contented and the discontented.
Conversely many of the stories in this book are about starting life over again as a result of suicide (The Hanging Party, Small Town Tragedy, Beat Time) or from a near death experience (Anna Bell Lee and the Charge of the Light Brigade, A Brief Summer) and natural occurring death. (The Best Laid Plans, The Winter Years, Balanced and Serene)
With the exception of Jesus Loves Shaqunda, in each story there is a rebirth from the death. (Shaqunda is reported as having died of pneumonia in The Winter Years)
Sal, the desperate and depressed divorcee in Things Change, changes his life in Lunch Hour when asks the waitress for a date and she accepts. (Which we learn in Closing Time, the last story in the book) In The Arranged Time, Thisby is given the option of change and whether she takes it or, we don’t know. The death of Greta’s husband in A Matter of Time has led her to the diner and into the waiting arms of the outgoing and loveable Gabe.
Although the book is based on three sets of time (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the diner is opened in the early morning and closed at night, time stands still inside the Diner. The hour on the big clock on the wall never changes time and much like my memories of that place, everything remains the same.
The Valley Lives
By Marion Marchetto, author of The Bridgewater Chronicles on October 15, 2015
Short Stores from a Small Town is set in The Valley (known to outsiders as The Lower Naugatuck Valley) in Connecticut. While the short stories are contemporary they provide insight into the timeless qualities of an Industrial Era community and the values and morals of the people who live there. Some are first or second generation Americans, some are transplants, yet each takes on the mantle of Valleyite and wears it proudly. It isn't easy for an author to take the reader on a journey down memory lane and involve the reader in the life stories of a group of seemingly unrelated characters. I say seemingly because by book's end the reader will realize that he/she has done more than meet a group of loosely related characters.
We meet all of the characters during a one-day time period as each of them finds their way to the Valley Diner on a rainy autumn day. From our first meeting with Angel, the educationally challenged man who opens and closes the diner, to our farewell for the day to the young waitress whose smile hides her despair we meet a cross section of the Valley population. Rich, poor, ambitious, and not so ambitious, each life proves that there is more to it beneath the surface. And the one thing that binds these lives together is The Valley itself. Not so much a place (or a memory) but an almost palpable living thing that becomes a part of its inhabitants.
Let me be the first the congratulate author John William Tuohy on a job well done. He has evoked the heart of The Valley and in doing so brought to life the fabric that Valleyites wear as a mantle of pride. While set in a specific region of the country, the stories that unfold within the pages of this slim volume are similar to those that live in many a small town from coast to coast.
Excerpt from my book "Short Stories from a Small Town"
Jesus Loves Shaqunda
The Diner was open but it was empty except for a cook and a waitress. It was 6:30 in the morning but the big clock on the wall, with its faded white face and black trim insisted that it was 12:00. It didn’t insist on AM or PM.
It had taken her forty-five minutes to walk to the Diner, through the darkness and then through the dawn and now she stood on the wet tile lobby floor and brushed the rain off her poorly fitted security guard’s uniform. It fit too tight in places on her but she was used to that. The abundant weight that she had carried all of her 22 years, made sure that not everything she wore fit.
She took a deep breath to fight off the fatigue brought on by the fourth day of a cold that had attached itself to her.
The bus to New Haven wouldn’t be there for another fifteen minutes. She searched her pockets for change and finding it; she dropped the money into the pay phone’s coin slot, dialed the number and waited for an answer. She leaned her head in deeply between the two metal walls of the public pay phone and spoke in a hushed, frantic tone.
“Mama? I had to leave the babies at the house alone.” She waited and listened to the lesson she already knew was coming, and then broke in mid-sentence, “Mama I know he six. I’m his mother...” and then she realized her voice was rising. She did what the doctor at the clinic had told her to do. She took a deep breath and paused, and took in the wonderful aroma of freshly brewed coffee from inside the Diner that wafted across the air. She wanted a cup of coffee but she couldn’t afford one. She was calm again. Her heart wasn’t good and she was supposed to stay calm.
“What else I gonna do?” she asked and then listened to the reply and hearing it she said sorrowfully, with a pain that was far beyond her young years, “I’m so tired, Mama. I got to sleep. I can’t. My mind lay down for the night and it don’t turn off. What’s gonna happen next? I got to move. Cops busted into the apartment next door last night, what time was that, three o’clock in the morning, I think. Punks deal’n their dope. Seen that cockroach walk across the table this morning. I hope to God my baby didn’t see it, but he smart, he sees everything. Mama can you get over there this morning?”
She waited for the answer and when she heard it, she closed her eyes and whispered a silent prayer and said, “Thank you Mama....I know the bus cost money. I get it back to you.”
She hung up and searched around her pocket for another quarter and finding one, she placed a second call. When he answered, she thanked Jesus for not letting the phone company turn off the service. She said into the receiver, “Tyrone...where you at? At the corner? The babies wif you? I told you don’t leave them babies alone like that!” she yelled and then, looking around the vacant lobby and into the Diner she whispered, “I know the water cold, but you got to be clean. Just jump in an jump out.”
She waited for the protest she knew was coming and said, “I know it cold, take the babies and go in the kitchen, bring the TV wif you. Turn the burners on the stove all the way over till they don’t go no more, it get warmer in there quicker. I call ya later. Don’t call here less somebody hurt. No you can’t go to school today. Mama got to work today. You go tomorrow. Grandma on her way over. Don’t answer the door to no one, understand?”
He said he understood and she told him, “You a good boy. Mama love you so much.” She hung up the phone and sat on the blue plastic bench that stood under the empty coat hooks. She could smell the bacon frying inside the Diner and her stomach growled. It had been a long time since she had eaten bacon, a long time.
“Next month the water be warm,’” she mumbled aloud. “I’m sixty dollars short for having the gas bill paid and they turn it back on. I beg that utility man not to turn off that gas. I begged him. Paycheck come, I pay something to it but I gotta do some food shopping.” She reached into a massive plastic covered pocket book and took out a fist full of change. “I got a dollar sixty-five for the bus. If I wait up until after seven I can save sixty-five cents. I know I got 45 cents on the bureau at home, that’s a dollar and ten cent. A box of instant macaroni is a dollar twenty-five…” She counted, “twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen,” and said, “thank you Jesus!”
She closed her soft brown eyes and buried her chubby face into her large hands and said, “Jesus, why it so expensive to be poor? If I didn’t have to shop at the convenience store, what little money I got, go a lot further than it do. But I can’t walk all them blocks to that supermarket. I’m so tired but wait until after seven to get the reduce fare. It so cold, what am I gonna do for two and half-hours. Father, they say money won’t bring happiness. Give me a chance to prove that ain’t right.......I got faith in you my Lord, that you gonna come and help me. I know you will cause I asked for you in Jesus name to help me. No doubt in my mind you will help me. You got to have faith or you got to have doubt. There ain’t room in the human mind for both so...”
She paused and wondered if she had left anything out and remembered and said, “One more thing....please Jesus, don’t let that toothache come back again today. I can’t wait in the emergency room for eight hours over a toothache. I axe for dis in Jesus name, Amen."
She lifted her head and was surprised to see her reflection in the glass of the entrance door looking back at her. She studied herself and concluded in a soft whisper intended for Jesus. “I could be pretty. I ain’t ugly. Look that nose. He broke my nose and that’s how it got fixed, just growd that way. They say down at the clinic they can’t pay for it because it would be cosmetic. Welfare don’t pay cosmetic.” She smiled and added, “make sure the poor stay ugly.”
The smile fell from her pretty face and she said, “Don’t matter none. Gonna die before I'm 30 anyway.”
She looked at her nose and touched it gently with the tips of her fingers. “Broke my nose. I throw’d that man out. I told him I said, “You can slap my face and knock me around and kick me down and stomp me, but you cannot, I swear God himself, you cannot beat the self- respect out of me!”
She felt herself growing angry so she did what the therapist at the clinic told her to do, take a deep breath. Erase the bad thoughts from your mind. “Why I always got to rely on people who don’t give a damn about me?” she said aloud. “All my life it’s been like that.”
She pulled a crumbled, week old copy of the want ads from her pocket and studied it. “Career opportunity,” she thought with a smile, “yeah I been there. That means they expect you to want to ask, “Y’all want fries with that until you 65.”
She stepped aside from the door and stepped aside to allow a heavy set white girl in a red dress to leave and then she continued to talk to herself. “I can’t work in those burger places no more. Wear you down. Some boy almost half my age yell’n and scream’n at me to move faster. They French fries fool, not vital medicine! Everything I give up to get me that GED and it don’t make a danged difference. When you poor you believe in anything, even the GED. I can get into the community college, but only thing I can study is an associate in arts and that’s gonna take me four or five years…..for a two year degree. When you poor you just run in place all the time, it’s so hard to stop being poor, and it’s sad how few options you really got.”
It was 7:00 AM. A man who looked like he had been jogging walked in, gave her a smile, entered the Diner and took a seat at the counter. Out in the parking lot a well-dressed man in his early forties sat in a Mercedes.
The bus was on time. The driver was a nice man, an older man who always waited for her to walk out from the lobby. Walking slowly across the wet parking lot she thought again about that job at the storage company where her brother worked. He said last week, that they had an opening. A good job too, good pay, full benefits, everything. And the people up there, they liked her brother. He told her that they said that if she came around, they would interview her. She had a day off on Friday. She’d go out there then.
She paused, stood still for a second and said, “Jesus, I am noth’n but your humble servant and I know your ass is tired of me begging you for every little thing. But I just don’t know if I can go on. Jesus, if you love me, you get me that job. And I won't never axe you for noth'n ever again. Amen.” And she got on the bus.
In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.
Excerpt from my book "No Time to Say Goodbye: Memoirs of a Life in Foster Care.
I used to be Irish Catholic.
I used to be Irish Catholic. Now I’m an American—you grow. George Carlin
The single greatest influence in our lives was the church. The Catholic Church in the 1960s differs from what it is today, especially in the Naugatuck Valley, in those days an overwhelmingly conservative Catholic place.
I was part of what might have been the last generation of American Catholic children who completely and unquestioningly accepted the supernatural as real. Miracles happened. Virgin birth and transubstantiation made perfect sense. Mere humans did in fact, become saints. There was a Holy Ghost. Guardian angels walked beside us and our patron saints really did put in a good word for us every now and then.
Church was at the center of our lives. Being a Roman Catholic back then was no small chore. In fact, it was a lot of work. The Mass was in Latin, conducted with the priest’s back to the flock. (We were a flock. Protestant were the more democratically named “congregation.”)
Aside from Sunday Mass there were also eleven Holy Days of Obligation that we had to attend, and then there were the all-important sacraments of First Confession, First Communion, and Confirmation, all ornate and dramatic affairs that happened within a few years of each other.
We dressed properly in a suit coat and tie for Sunday mass. Fridays were meatless as a means of penance. At school, there was prayer in the morning before classes began, prayer before lunch, prayer after lunch and prayer before we went home. There was also a half-hour of religion class every day. And there was fasting. In those days, Catholics fasted eight hours before receiving communion.
Then there was confession on Saturday, mandatory because Sunday Mass was also mandatory and so was taking Holy Communion, which could not be accepted without first going to confession. We had to go to confession twice in a week: once on Fridays, since the nuns were convinced none of us would go on our own over the weekend, and then once again on Saturday afternoons when Helen made us go.
When I made my first confession at age seven, we were taught that there were two types of sin: mortal sins, which were serious sins, and venial sins, which were lesser sins, lying and disobedience. The nuns said that we would have to narrow our selection to venial sins since we were far too young to have any mortal sins against our soul.
One of little girls in the group raised her hand and asked, “What’s adultery?”
“Nothing to worry yourself over, dear,” the nun answered, “It’s for adults, and it is a most grievous offense against God.” I liked the sound of that, “most grievous offense against God.” Sounded serious.
Confession was a big deal and involved a lot of formality—kneeling in darkness, foreign languages, and solemnity—and I didn’t waste all that somberness with unworthy sins, so when the priest slid open the little wooden door that separated us in the dark I began my prayer.
“Deus meus, ex toto corde paenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum—” In full, the words meant “O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.”
Then the sins were confessed. I told the priest I had committed adultery.
“Adultery, huh?” the priest said.
“Yes, Father,” I answered as solemnly as I could. “Adultery.”
“So, how’d that work out for you?” he asked.
“Ah,” I answered, “you know.”
“No,” he said, “actually I don’t. So how many times did you do this, this adultery?”
“Like, I think, three times, Father.”
“I see,” he said. “And during those times, were you alone or with others?”
“No, Father, I was alone.”
“And do you think you’ll be committing this sin again in the near future?”
“Naw, Father,” I answered. “I’m pretty much over it.”
As the years went and I became more confessional-savvy, I learned that the dumber the sin, the lighter the penance, the prayer for forgiveness that one was required to say up at the altar after the confession had ended.
So in the name of efficiency, I developed a pre-packaged list of dumb sins, like “I disobeyed my mother,” or “I fought with my brother,” or “I failed to say my nightly prayer.”
Through trial and error, I learned that every now and then I would have to toss a more serious sin into the mix or the priests might get testy and tax me with a big penance. So I tossed in the fail-safe sex sin, “I had evil thoughts about _____” and would fill in the name of the girl who struck me at the moment. I rotated the sins and the priests, and, overall, the system worked.
One Saturday, Denny and his gang of desperadoes showed up for confession and slid into the pew with me and waited for our turn at the confessional.
Denny turned to me and said, “Johnny, you got any good sins?”
Feeling magnanimous, I shared my formula for a hassle-free confession, and in closing said, “And then you say ‘I had evil thoughts about Mary Puravich,’ or whatever,’” using the name of a pretty girl from my class.
Denny shared my sin system with his friends, who were always in a hurry to cut their way to the front of the line, have their confessions heard, and leave without saying their penance. I went in to the confessional and said my piece, ending with, “and I had evil thoughts about Mary Puravich.”
“You know,” said the priest, “I gotta meet this Mary Puravich. She must be some kind of knockout, because the last four guys in here said the same thing about her.”
For all purposes, school was an extension of church, and unlike the way we lived in Waterbury, school was no longer optional. We were to be at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School, in uniform, Monday through Friday from eight a.m. until three p.m. No excuses.
Because I lacked almost any formal education at that point, I couldn’t read or write, so it was decided that I should start school from the beginning—first grade—making me roughly two years older than my classmates.
Assumption was already over fifty years old. Walter and his sisters had been schooled there in the 1930s and the building , basically unchanged, had nothing sleek or new. It had sixteen classrooms for two hundred and fifty students, no gymnasium or cafeteria, highly polished wooden floors, and enormously large windows that each had to be opened and closed with a long pole with a hook on the end of it.
Our teachers were members of the Sisters of Mercy, an order formed in Ireland in 1831 to aid the poor, arriving in America in 1843 to minister to the famished Irish flocking to the states. Several of the nuns who had taught Walter were still living at the convent and filling in as substitute teachers, and one or two of them were still teaching full-time.
Classes began with the ringing of an enormous brass handbell by a nun who was strong enough to pick it up and move it around. Boys and girls played apart from each other on different sides of the school yard. The boys were clad in white shirts and green ties with the letter A sewn into the middle of them, black slacks, black socks, and black lace-up shoes. Loafers and pointed-toe shoes, then all the rage because of the Beatles, were forbidden. The girls were required to wear black Mary Janes, white or green knee socks, and a green dress uniform with an under slip, and a white, button-down shirt. They were also issued green beanies to wear in church, although I can’t recall that any of the girls ever wore one.
Just beneath the schoolyard was Farrell’s Foundry. At different times of the day, the mill released its afterburn from the enormous smokestacks that dotted the skyline. Tens of thousands of black specks shot into the air, making it look like a black-snow blizzard had hit our little town. The specks rained down on our white shirts, ruining them forever with ink-black spots of burned iron.
Every school day started with a prayer, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and then religion class. Sometimes one of the priests stopped by during religion class and opened the floor to discussions, wrongly assuming the questions would be deep and theological. What he got was, “Father, all right, look, if the Russians fired an atomic bomb at us and Jesus flies out of heaven and swallows it and it explodes in his stomach—will he be dead?”
The best one came from Peggy Sullivan, who asked, “If Jesus shaves off his beard, will he lose all his magical powers?” and then, pausing to catch her breath, “and if so, how screwed are we?”
One kid in the class, Patsy Sheehan, resented having to learn certain things about our religion the difference between venial sins and mortal sins, the Act of Contrition and so on. When the priest told us we that we had to choose a middle name for our confirmation, Patsy complained, “I got enough on my plate already.”
The priest insisted she pick a new middle name. Patsy asked, “What’s Jesus’s middle name?”
“He’s Jesus. He doesn’t have one,” the priest answered.
“So, what’s he, special?” Patsy asked.
Then there was Martin O’Toole, a wonderful, magnificent liar. He lied in such awesome, Herculean fashion that his tales were artful, Homeric. Our nun once asked, “Mr. O’Toole, why have you not turned in your homework?”
Martin waited until he had everyone’s attention and then stood slowly and dramatically from his desk, put his hands on his tiny waist and said, “Sister, last night I was in my back yard playing when I picked up a rock from the ground.” He then recounted the scene of him picking up what must have been a boulder the size of Rhode Island, “and as soon as I picked it up, oil! Bubbling crude came bursting out of the ground, millions of gallons of it! I was soaked in oil.” He paused and looked around the room and added, in hushed tones, “It took me hours to put that rock back on that oil and save this entire city.”
He returned to his seat and said, “And that’s why I didn’t time to do my homework, Sister.”
The nun’s jaw had dropped, and the silence of the moment was broken only when Micky Sullivan, a dense and gullible child, asked, “What kind of oil was it, Martin?”
“Esso,” he replied. “It was Esso oil.”
Many years later, Johnny became mayor of a small town in the Valley. An investigation of the town’s finances showed fifty thousand dollars missing from the treasury and all the evidence pointed to Martin. When asked to produce the town’s books, Martin said, that “The books are gone. Mice ate them.” He served two years in federal prison.
Then there was Ilene Flynn, a little red-haired, freckled-faced, fair-skinned girl who was more pious than the Pope. I knew a lot about her because the nuns thought we looked alike and paired me with her for all religious functions.
At our First Holy Communion, Ilene was so nervous her mouth went dry. Unable to swallow the host and forbidden to touch it—only a priest could do that—she ran around in circles crying hysterically, “Jesus is stuck in my mouth! Jesus is stuck in my mouth!” while the nuns flocked around her shouting instructions about swallowing, “Go like this, Ilene, go like this!” and then they did a swallowing demonstration that made them look a lot like penguins eating long fish.
Ilene’s Friday afternoon confessions were epic. She confessed to everything, I mean absolutely everything, and she actually said all of her penance, unlike the rest of us who negotiated a lighter-sentence deal with God before we got to the rail. My policy on penance was one for five. If I were given thirty Hail Marys as penance, in the deal God and I worked out, I said six.
Once, Ilene came out of the confessional in tears, wailing loud enough to wake the dead.
“What is it, Ilene?” Sister asked. “What happened?”
“Father O’Leary told me I’m going to hell on a lying rap,” she wailed, “and I don’t know what a rap is!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.
Sculpture this and Sculpture that....
From the Hirshchorn Museum, The Smithsonian
From the Hirshchorn Museum, The Smithsonian
DON'T YOU JUST LOVE POP ART?
It's Not All Right to be a Foster Kid....
no matter what they tell you:
Tweet the books contents
Paperback 94 pages
From the Author
I spent my childhood, from age seven through seventeen, in foster care. Over the course of those ten years, many decent, well-meaning, and concerned people told me, "It's okay to be foster kid."
In saying that, those very good people meant to encourage me, and I appreciated their kindness then, and all these many decades later, I still appreciate their good intentions. But as I was tossed around the foster care system, it began to dawn on me that they were wrong. It was not all right to be a foster kid.
During my time in the system, I was bounced every eighteen months from three foster homes to an orphanage to a boy's school and to a group home before I left on my own accord at age seventeen.
In the course of my stay in foster care, I was severely beaten in two homes by my "care givers" and separated from my four siblings who were also in care, sometimes only blocks away from where I was living.
I left the system rather than to wait to age out, although the effects of leaving the system without any family, means, or safety net of any kind, were the same as if I had aged out. I lived in poverty for the first part of my life, dropped out of high school, and had continuous problems with the law.
Today, almost nothing about foster care has changed. Exactly what happened to me is happening to some other child, somewhere in America, right now. The system, corrupt, bloated, and inefficient, goes on, unchanging and secretive.
Something has gone wrong in a system that was originally a compassionate social policy built to improve lives but is now a definitive cause in ruining lives. Due to gross negligence, mismanagement, apathy, and greed, mostly what the foster care system builds are dangerous consequences. Truly, foster care has become our epic national disgrace and a nightmare for those of us who have lived through it.
Yet there is a suspicion among some Americans that foster care costs too much, undermines the work ethic, and is at odds with a satisfying life. Others see foster care as a part of the welfare system, as legal plunder of the public treasuries.
None of that is true; in fact, all that sort of thinking does is to blame the victims. There is not a single child in the system who wants to be there or asked to be there. Foster kids are in foster care because they had nowhere else to go. It's that simple. And believe me, if those kids could get out of the system and be reunited with their parents and lead normal, healthy lives, they would. And if foster care is a sort of legal plunder of the public treasuries, it's not the kids in the system who are doing the plundering.
We need to end this needless suffering. We need to end it because it is morally and ethically wrong and because the generations to come will not judge us on the might of our armed forces or our technological advancements or on our fabulous wealth.
Rather, they will judge us, I am certain, on our compassion for those who are friendless, on our decency to those who have nothing and on our efforts, successful or not, to make our nation and our world a better place. And if we cannot accomplish those things in the short time allotted to us, then let them say of us "at least they tried."
You can change the tragedy of foster care and here's how to do it. We have created this book so that almost all of it can be tweeted out by you to the world. You have the power to improve the lives of those in our society who are least able to defend themselves. All you need is the will to do it.
If the American people, as good, decent and generous as they are, knew what was going on in foster care, in their name and with their money, they would stop it. But, generally speaking, although the public has a vague notion that foster care is a mess, they don't have the complete picture. They are not aware of the human, economic and social cost that the mismanagement of the foster care system puts on our nation.
By tweeting the facts laid out in this work, you can help to change all of that. You can make a difference. You can change things for the better.
We can always change the future for a foster kid; to make it better ...you have the power to do that. Speak up (or tweet out) because it's your country. Don't depend on the "The other guy" to speak up for these kids, because you are the other guy.
GOOD WORDS TO HAVE………………..
Hogen-mogen (HOH-guhn-moh-guhn) noun: A person having or affecting high power. Powerful; grand. From Dutch hoogmogend (all powerful), from Hooge en Mogende (high and mighty), honorific for addressing States General (legislature) of the Netherlands.
HERE'S PLEASANT POEM FOR YOU TO ENJOY................
By Katherine McCormick
So you rush and rush, hurry hurry until you can
hurry no more and your knee where you
twisted it in school starts to burn when
the sky grays and drops fall and your
hair thins, changes color as you
change shape, slow down and
tire faster but you ignore the
signs and plan for the
next day and the
next and the
Katherine McCormick is a colleague of mine. She is a poet, writer and a visual artist who “lives in a tiny town in rural Maryland close to the water, corn fields, and not much else.”
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death. Robert Fulghum
HERE'S SOME NICE ART FOR YOU TO LOOK AT....ENJOY!
Knot design - Leonardo da Vinci
“I've been making a list of the things they don't teach you at school. They don't teach you how to love somebody. They don't teach you how to be famous. They don't teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don't teach you how to walk away from someone you don't love any longer. They don't teach you how to know what's going on in someone else's mind. They don't teach you what to say to someone who's dying. They don't teach you anything worth knowing.” Neil Gaiman, The Sandman
I LOVE BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS FROM FILM
What Love is…..
“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, 'How many good things have you done in your life?' rather he will ask, 'How much love did you put into what you did?” Mother Teresa
WHY THE WORLD NEEDS EDITORS.....................
AND NOW A WORD FROM EMERSON..........
"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even One life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
"All our progress is an unfolding like a vegetable bud. You have first an instinct then an opinion then a knowledge as the plant has root bud and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end though you can render no reason."
The Quotable Kahlil Gibran
Paperback 52 pages
Kahlil Gibran, an artist, poet, and writer was born on January 6, 1883 n the north of modern-day Lebanon and in what was then part of Ottoman Empire. He had no formal schooling in Lebanon. In 1895, the family immigrated to the United States when Kahlil was a young man and settled in South Boston. Gibran enrolled in an art school and was soon a member of the avant-garde community and became especially close to Boston artist, photographer, and publisher Fred Holland Day who encouraged and supported Gibran’s creative projects. An accomplished artist in drawing and watercolor, Kahlil attended art school in Paris from 1908 to 1910, pursuing a symbolist and romantic style. He held his first art exhibition of his drawings in 1904 in Boston, at Day's studio. It was at this exhibition, that Gibran met Mary Elizabeth Haskell, who ten years his senior. The two formed an important friendship and love affair that lasted the rest of Gibran’s short life. Haskell influenced every aspect of Gibran’s personal life and career. She became his editor when he began to write and ushered his first book into publication in 1918, The Madman, a slim volume of aphorisms and parables written in biblical cadence somewhere between poetry and prose. Gibran died in New York City on April 10, 1931, at the age of 48 from cirrhosis of the liver and tuberculosis.
AND NOW A WORD FROM SHAKESPEARE
But O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes.
But O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes.
Visit our Shakespeare Blog at the address below
There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.
Visit our Shakespeare Blog at the address below
Photographs I’ve taken
America is another name for opportunity. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy. Margaret Thatcher
There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and asian America - there's the United States of America. Barack Obama
Love your country. Your country is the land where your parents sleep, where is spoken that language in which the chosen of your heart, blushing, whispered the first word of love; it is the home that God has given you that by striving to perfect yourselves therein you may prepare to ascend to him. Giuseppe Mazzini
There are those, I know, who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is the American dream.
America is a tune. It must be sung together. Gerald Stanley Lee, Crowds
How often we fail to realize our good fortune in living in a country where happiness is more than a lack of tragedy. Paul Sweeney
Excerpt from my book “On the Waterfront: The Making of a Great American Film”
In 1951, Elia joined with Brando for the filmed version of A Streetcar named Desire, one of only two films in history to win three Academy Awards for acting. The studio had favored John Garfield for the role of Stanly Kowalski but Garfield did not want to take second billing to the films female lead, Vivian Lee, and passed on the role.
The part was then offered to Anthony Quinn. Quinn had played the role of Stanly on the road tour and was widely credited with delivering a stronger performance then Brando did on Broadway. In the end, Kazan managed to get Brando for the role with the understanding that Brando would take second billing to Vivian Lee. Another Brando film followed, Viva Zapata! (1952) which the studio had originally pegged Tyrone Power for the lead. Following Zapata, a good film but a commercial flop, he directed Man on a Tight Rope, also a commercial dud.
Aside from those few snags, it was an amazing career for such a young man. Most of the time Kazan’s films not only made money for the studios, they were completed on time and without problems. It seemed that everything Kazan touched, from screen to stage, even the actor’s careers that he touched, turned to gold. He had already won an Oscar and two Tony’s (He would earn three in his lifetime) He was on the inside, a mover and shaker on his way to becoming a Hollywood power. What he needed to assure his lasting position in Hollywood, to fulfill his dream for greatness as a businessman and artist, was a great film, an epic, a classic. He would find it in On the Waterfront.
HERE IS AN EXCEPT FROM MY BOOK "THE BOOK OF AMERICAN-JEWISH GANGSTERS"
(Max Zellner is a pen name, it was my grandfather's born name. During World War 1 he changed it to the less German sounding Paul Selner)
Gangsters. The brothers used the
same address, 339 Chester Street
in Brooklyn. (An office building stands on the
site today). Joseph Amberg (Born 1892,
Died September 30, 1935) and his brothers, Hyman (The Rat) Louis (Called Pretty
because he was exceedingly ugly) and Oscar were vicious labor racketeering and
other criminal activities in Russia
during the 1920s and 1930s. (The last brother, William, ran a furniture store
in New York Brooklyn and had no criminal record)
The brother’s primary rivals were the equally vicious Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro, Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, Abe "Kid Twist" Reles and the Shapiro Brothers. The brothers were probably the first to charge 20% interest on their loans and fought for control of the
neighborhood in a partnership with Little Frank Teitelbaum. Brownsville
Joey Amberg had 13 arrests on his record, starting in 1908 when he was jailed for burglary. He served five years in Sing-Sing Prison for assault and three years in federal prison for narcotics peddling.
Hymie Amberg committed suicide while jailed at the Tombs in 1926 while he awaiting trial for the murder of a
jeweler named Aaron Rodack. Oscar Amberg, another brother, was charged with
bringing the weapons that Hymie used trying to escape. Hyman managed to murder
the warden and a guard, before taking his own life. Oscar was acquitted.
Joey Amberg made most of his living as a loan shark in
Brooklyn Jewish community and he
was widely hated. On September 30, 1935, at high noon, Joey Amberg and his
driver Morris Kessler (Born 1892) were ambushed in garage at the corner of
Blake and Christopher Avenue in Brownsville (Brooklyn) At the time Amberg lived
at 190 East Seventeenth Street in Brooklyn (The property still stands. Kessler
lived at 50 Tapscott Street
in Brooklyn. Amberg parked his gray limousine
at the garage and picked up each day to tour his rackets. As the pair stepped
into the garage, (The place was massive and covered most of the block) three
young men dressed in blue work clothes walked in and pulled out pistol from
their coats. One of them said to Amberg “Back up Joe” when Amberg back up to
the wall, one of the men said “Got you now Joe, how does it feel?” The gunmen then
fired twelve shots into Amberg and Kessler, killing them both. Amberg was hit
five times, mostly in the left lower back and left back of the head. Kessler, who turned to face the killers as he
was shot, was hit four times, mostly in the face.
A month later, the remaining and eldest brother, Louis AKA Pretty (Born 1897) was found hacked to death near the Brooklyn Navy Yard on October 23, 1935 (the same day Dutch Schultz was murdered) at 1:15 in the morning.
The insane killer Abe Reles said of Pretty Amberg “The word was that he was kinda nuts” And he was. Amberg’s record, almost exclusively limited to assaults, started on November 3, 1914. In total he was arrested 15 times, and was found innocent for lack of evidence on virtually every charge. He was also the prime suspect in 18 murders. He was credited with inventing the so-called “Sack murder” in which the victim was tied with wire around the neck, arms and legs and eventually strangled themselves trying to escape.
His hacked up, nude body was found inside a burning car at 131 North Elliot place in
(The address no longer exists). It was wrapped in blankets and tied around the
ankles and wrists with wire. He had been cut up with an axe at least ten hours
before. Amberg had spent the previous week at different Turkish bathes around
the lower east side, probably as a means to protect himself.
Joey, Little Frank Teitelbaum and Louis were more then probably murdered by a cop killer named Albert Stern AKA The Teacher. (His real name was probably Stein, he was born 1914) Stern, a morphine addict, had once worked for the Amberg’s, ended the relationship when he robbed Joey Amberg on his extortion money (it turned out to be less then $70) and then with other members of the gang broke off on his own and started to pull off kidnappings.
Convinced that the Amberg’s and Teitelbaum would turn him into police for crimes of the past, Stern went on a murderous rampage and wiped the brothers out. Stein was found dead on October 27, 1935, hung by the neck, in a cheap
house. It has never been established whether he killed himself or was murdered.
Excerpt from my book "When Capone’s Mob Murdered Touhy.”
Roger Touhy," wrote the Chicago Tribune, "is one of those rare cases in which the man measured up to the legend."
He was born in a lawless neighborhood called "the Valley." It is gone and largely forgotten now, except by a scant few descendants of the tens of thousands of Irish immigrants who huddled there for a time, making that brutal slum the largest Irish ghetto west of New York.
Located in the heart of Chicago, the Valley was a flat stretch of land partial to winter floods that would fill the water with human waste from the nearby canals. In the summer it was insufferably humid. It was always a dreary place, full of ancient wooden warehouses, overcrowded with stinking tenements, stores with near-empty shelves, and saloons packed with men who had long since given up their dreams of a better life.
Roger Touhy was born there in 1898. He was the last of seven children in one of the thousands of working families jammed into the Valley. While he was still an infant, Roger's mother was burned to
death when the kitchen stove exploded. It was a remarkably common occurrence at the time, leaving his father, James, an Irish immigrant and a lowly but otherwise honest beat cop, to raise the family.
"My father,"Roger wrote, "was a Chicago policeman. An honest one. Otherwise, he would have had a hell of a lot less trouble getting the grocery and rent money."
James Touhy eventually lost his four eldest sons to a local thug named Paddy "the Bear" Ryan. An enormous hulk of a man, Ryan led the notorious Valley Gang, which was organized in the middle 1860s. It inducted members as young as twelve years of age, and, at least in the beginning, graduated them to the big leagues of crime at around age nineteen or twenty.
In 1870, its membership was mostly made up of the sons of policemen and lower level politicos whose city hall connections kept their sons out of serious trouble with the law. Using that clout, the gang was able to transform itself from a rag-tag group of street urchins who stole fruit off vendors' wagons into a working criminal/political organization.
With time, the gang moved from its basement headquarters on 15th Street to its first official headquarters, a popular saloon on the corner of 14th and Mulberry Streets. From there, the Valley Gang moved into armed robbery and big dollar larceny. But the gang remained a small-time local operation in most respects. Then, in about 1880, the Germans began to move into the Valley, followed by the Jews. The gang terrorized both groups, beating them into submission and coercing cash from their shop owners when extortion became the new money maker.
The gang continued to rule supremely over the Valley until the turn of the century when great masses of Irish, Germans and Jews moved out and were replaced by tens of thousands of southern Italians. Numerically superior and just as tough as the Irish they replaced, the southern Italians were less prone to intimidation than were the Germans and Jews. The Italians had their street gangs as well, some with membership in the hundreds.
Inevitably, street wars between the Irish and the Italians broke out frequently. As a result, the Maxwell Street police station had the highest number of assault and attempted murder cases of any police precinct in the country, outside of Brooklyn. Again, what kept most of the Valley Gang members out of jail were their powerful political contacts, made even stronger by the gang's willingness to rent itself out as polling booth enforcers. However, unlike the smaller street gangs from the Valley-the Beamers, the Plugs and the Buckets of Blood-who also rented out their services, the Valley boys were known for their penchant to switch sides in the middle of a battle if the opposite side was paying more or if it appeared that they might win the election.
By 1910, the gang continued to grow in power in the Valley by having enough sense to allow a limited number of Jews and Germans into its ranks. The Valley Gang remained the largest and deadliest gang in the area and a whole new generation of Irish-American boys in Chicago grew to admire the gang and its leaders "in much the same way" one sociologist wrote, "that other boys looked up to, in a fanciful way, Robin Hood or Jesse James."
By 1919, the Irish had surrendered their majority status in the Valley but managed to retain political control, just as they did throughout most of Chicago as well. By that time, the gang transformed itself into a social and athletic club which, in both votes and money, stood solidly behind several dozen important politicos whose careers had been launched by the gang.
The first important leaders of the Valley Gang were Heinie Miller and Jimmy Farley. Both expert pickpockets and burglars who flourished in the 1900s. Miller and Farley, along with their lieutenants, "Tootsie" Bill Hughes and Bill Cooney (aka "the Fox") were described by the police as "four of the smoothest thieves that ever worked the Maxwell Street district."
Smooth or not, they all went to jail in 1905 for extended stays and the leadership of the gang fell to "Red" Bolton. Bolton's reign was cut short by his own stupidity. He robbed a store in the middle of the Valley, in the middle of the day, killing a cop in the process. No amount of political influence could help. Bolton was sent away to prison where he died of pneumonia in a few years.
With Bolton gone, the gang started to weaken compared to it's previous power, although it had a brief resurgence during the first World War when Chicago was under a temporary alcohol prohibition and the gang went into the rum-running business.
Rum-running brought the gang a lot of money. For the first time, the Valley Boys drove Rolls Royces, wore silk shirts and managed to get out of murder charges by affording the most talented lawyers, including the legendary Clarence Darrow.
In the mid 1890s, when the gang was under the leadership of Paddy the Bear Ryan, the Valley Boys were transformed into labor goons for hire, with the Bear, acting as the salesman, boasting that his boys were the best bomb throwers and acid tossers in the business. The Valley Gang solidified that reputation during the building trades strike of 1900, which put some 60,000 laborers out of work for twenty-six weeks.
Operating under the street command of Walter "Runty" Quinlan, who would eventually lead the gang, the Valley boys terrorized strike breakers with unmerciful beatings and earned their reputation as pro-labor thugs in an age when the bosses and factory owners paid better.
Paddy the Bear ruled the Valley for years and it was the Bear who taught Tommy, Johnny, Joe and Eddie Touhy the finer points of the criminal life. Weighing in at least 450 pounds, the Bear waddled when he walked. But he was a solid figure full of fighting vigor and brutal vitality. He was also an ignorant man, blatant and profane, utterly fearless when given to one of his choking rages.
The Bear's place was a dingy saloon at 14th Street and South Halstead. There was a sawdust floor "to soak up the blood" as Jack Lait said. A dirty, bent bar filled an entire wall. The rest of the room was packed with rickety tables and grimy wooden benches. On the drab smoke-stained walls hung pictures of John L. Sullivan, Jake Kilrain and dozens of other Irish fighters whom the Bear admired.
The Bear, whose specialty was making police records disappear, worked seven days a week. With a dirty apron tied around his enormous waist he held court, ruling over his kingdom with an iron fist like an absolute dictator. The Bear was feared by the killers that surrounded him, so much so that throughout his long career none dared to question him or usurp his authority.
During the Bear's leadership, no gang in all of Chicago was tougher or bolder. Every criminal in the Valley had to swear allegiance to Paddy the Bear or they didn't work in the Valley.
It came to be that the Bear's friend, Red Kruger, was sent to Joliet Penitentiary on a variety of charges. Soon afterward Runty Quinlan, the Bear's second in command, started sleeping with Kruger's wife.
This sordid romance threw the Bear into one of his rages. One day when the Runt stopped by Paddy's saloon for a beer, the Bear came from around the bar and called him every name in the book. He punched the Runt to the floor, picked him up and punched him to the floor again and again and again. It was a terrible beating, even by Valley standards. When it was over, the Bear told the Runt that he would beat him senseless every time he saw him.
Runty Quinlan swore his revenge.
Several days after the beating, Paddy the Bear was summoned to the Des Plains police station to answer a charge for receiving stolen property. "He could have," noted one cop, "found his way blindfolded."
It was morning when the Bear started out for the police station. He waddled along Blue Island Avenue and stopped by Eddie Tancel's place. Eddie was another Valley Gang graduate who operated a bar in the area. Once a professional fighter, Tancel-who was called "the Bulldog of Cicero"-had won almost all of his fights with his famous knockout punch. He retired to his Blue Island bar after he accidentally killed an up-and-coming fighter named Young Greenberg with his gloved fist. The police would eventually close down Tancel's Blue Island saloon after it became the scene of one too many shooting murders.
After leaving Tancel's place, the Bear crossed an alley just a half block from his saloon when Runty Quinlan sprang up from behind some trash cans and shot Paddy the Bear several times in his enormous belly. Paddy reeled out into the middle of the street, slumping down on the cobblestone and fell to the ground. Quinlan stood over the Bear and fired four more bullets into him.
Paddy the Bear was rushed to a hospital where a cop asked if he knew who had shot him. To which Paddy replied, "Of course I know who shot me, you idiot." Then he paused and said, more to himself than to anyone present, "But I didn't think that the little runt would have the nerve to do it."
Then he died.
For the cops, the Bear's last words were everything but a confession. Runty Quinlan was dragged in for questioning but was released due to lack of evidence.
Shortly after killing the Bear, Runty Quinlan went down state to Joliet State Prison on an unrelated charge. He was released several years later during Prohibition and opened a saloon on 17th and Lommis Streets at the border of the Valley. The place soon became a favorite hang-out for the Klondike and Myles O'Donnell boys. Once, when police raided the joint, they found ten bulletproof vests, two machine guns and a dozen automatic pistols hidden behind the bar. "The Runt's saloon,"said Jack Lait "was that kind of joint."
Paddy the Bear had one son, known as "Paddy the Cub." Paddy the Cub idolized his father who, for all his wicked ways, was an indulgent and doting parent. Young Paddy never forgot his father's murder and for years nursed his hatred of Runty Quinlan. As a teenager he would see the Runt on his way to school, leaning against the doorway of his saloon, uneasily smiling down at him.
One day the Runt was lounging in a booth in his saloon with three Valley Gang graduates: Fur Sammons, Klondike and Myles O'Donnell. The group had been drinking for several hours and were mildly drunk when Paddy the Cub slipped up to the Runt, jammed a revolver in his left temple and whispered 'This is for my father, you son-of-a-bitch." He shot the Runt through the back of the head. After the Runt fell to the floor, Paddy the Cub fired several more shots into the body and then slowly and calmly walked out the front door of the saloon.
• • •
In 1919, after the Bear was killed, Terry Druggan and Frankie Lake took over the Valley Gang. Druggan was a dwarf-like little man with a hair-trigger temper and a lisp. He was ambitious and found the Valley territory too restrictive for his high ambition. He soon extended his criminal reach far beyond its borders.
Over the years, Terry Druggan had gained a reputation as a fool and a clown. Despite this reputation Druggan proved to be a highly effective leader. He was a smooth operator and a highly intelligent hood, and by the third year of Prohibition he had made himself and most of his gang members rich beyond their wildest dreams. By 1924, Terry Druggan could truthfully boast that even the lowest member of his gang wore silk shirts and had a chauffeur for his new Rolls-Royce.
Druggan was smart enough to enter into several lucrative business agreements with Johnny Torrio. He was wise enough to pull the Valley Gang off the streets and remodel them after Johnny Torrio's restructured version of "Big Jim" Colosimo's outfit. With his alcohol millions, Druggan bought a magnificent home on Lake Zurich and a winter estate in Florida. He surrounded himself with yes-men and flunkies and parked twelve new cars in his garage. He had a swimming pool although he couldn't swim, a tennis court although he didn't play, and dairy cattle (which he admitted scared him), sheep and swine in his pastures. He owned a thoroughbred racing stable and raced his horses, draped in his family's ancient Celtic color scheme, at Chicago's tracks.
Once, when he was ruled off the turf at one track for fixing a race, Druggan pulled his gun on the officials and promised to kill them all then and there if they didn't change their ruling. They changed their ruling.
Frankie Lake grew up with Druggan in the Valley. He and Druggan were inseparable companions, as well as business partners in everything. They even went to jail together. In 1924, during the height of Prohibition, both Druggan and Lake were sentenced to a year in the Cook County jail by Judge James Wilkerson for contempt of court for refusing to answer questions regarding their business dealings. Lake appealed to the President of the United States for help. The President refused to intervene and the pair went to jail-sort of. After a $20,000 cash bribe to Sheriff Peter Hoffman, "for the usual considerations and conveniences" as Druggan put it, he and Lake were allowed to turn their cells into working offices. They came and went from the jail as they saw fit and were often seen in cafes late at night, retiring to their spacious apartments on ritzy Lake Shore Drive.
On those rare days when they actually stayed in the jail-waking up late and having breakfast in bed-their wives were regular visitors. In fact, on several occasions Druggan had his dentist brought in to fill a cavity. Later, when the story broke, a reporter asked Druggan to explain his absence from jail. The gangster explained, "Well you know, it's awfully crowded in there."He was right. In 1924 the Cook County jail, which had been built to house no more than 500 inmates, was home to over 1,500 men.
The same thing happened in 1933 when Druggan was supposed to be in Leavenworth Federal Prison for two and a half years on a tax evasion charge. Once again he bought his way out of the jail and was living in the tiny town just outside the prison, in a three bedroom apartment with his girlfriend Bernice Van De Hauten. She was a buxom blonde who moved down from Chicago to keep Terry company, much to his wife's surprise. The story broke and Druggan was moved from Leavenworth to Atlanta, without his girlfriend this time.
With the end of Prohibition, the Druggan and Lake Gang, as the Valley Gang was then called, was completely absorbed by the Chicago syndicate operations and for all practical purposes ceased to exist.
The Porchless Pumpkin: A Halloween Story for Children
A Halloween play for young children. By consent of the author, this play may be performed, at no charge, by educational institutions, neighborhood organizations and other not-for-profit-organizations.
A fun story with a moral
“I believe that Denny O'Day is an American treasure and this little book proves it. Jack is a pumpkin who happens to be very small, by pumpkins standards and as a result he goes unbought in the pumpkin patch on Halloween eve, but at the last moment he is given his chance to prove that just because you're small doesn't mean you can't be brave. Here is the point that I found so wonderful, the book stresses that while size doesn't matter when it comes to courage...ITS OKAY TO BE SCARED....as well. I think children need to hear that, that's its okay to be unsure because life is a ongoing lesson isn't it?”
Paperback: 42 pages
Breaking Down The Death Penalty Debate
Ben Lawson , Jay Strubberg
The death penalty has been used in the U.S. for more than two centuries. And it's still one of the most hotly debated issues in the country.
"I still think it has a deterrent capability," said Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.
That's one of the biggest arguments in favor of it — that the possibility of death as a punishment prevents people from committing capital crimes.
But that's a hard claim to back up. A 2009 study said 88 percent of the criminologists polled did not believe fear of the death penalty prevents capital crimes.
But other research found fewer homicides occurred in Texas in the months before or after an execution. Although some say the model used in that research could have been flawed.
The Constitution is also frequently brought up in the death penalty discussion.
Many say it goes against the Eighth Amendment, which protects citizens from "cruel and unusual punishment."
Lately, that debate has focused on the method used to execute criminals.
In June of this year, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Oklahoma's use of a controversial drug cocktail used in multiple botched executions. In January, one man sentenced to death writhed in pain for hours before the drug mixture killed him.
Justice Antonin Scalia argued that because the Fifth Amendment appears to consider the death penalty, it can't be considered unconstitutional. (Video via C-SPAN )
Another issue frequently brought up in the death penalty debate is potential flaws or biases in the court system.
Many point to the high number of minorities who are sentenced to death.
Forty-two percent of death row inmates are black, while only about 13 percent of the entire U.S. population is black .
And one study found that since 1973, about 4 percent of people sentenced to death were wrongfully convicted.
The death penalty debate isn't going away. Aside from four years in the 1970s, capital punishment has been permitted in the U.S. since 1790.
REFORMING OUR POLICE BECAUSE THEY HAVE BECOME A LEADING NATIONAL SOCIAL PROBLEM
The public’s right to police footage — How technology is bettering and complicating police departments
The public’s right to police footage — How technology is bettering and complicating police departments
By: Jessica Gee
Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri, are some people and places that may come to mind when discussing police wearing body cameras.
These headlines have sparked a large debate on ways police departments can better their interactions with civilians.
Even the police departments in Moscow and Pullman either plan on or currently are utilizing body cameras, according to a March report in The Argonaut. The use of this new technology is a win-win situation in most cases. They can help discourage police misconduct and benefit police if a citizen were to make a false accusation against them.
Usually, officers have cameras mounted on their cruisers, which capture only some parts of their interactions. Body cameras can move with officers and provide footage of their actions from more angles.
While there are many benefits of this technology, there are plenty of complexities that come with it as well. The next step is determining who should have access to the videos filmed by the body cameras.
According to Benton Smith at the Twin Falls Times, many states have made laws regarding these questions, but Idaho is still in the process.
Some people who oppose body camera footage being available to the public make arguments concerning privacy. They argue that the footage should only be used in a court of law if the case ends up going to trial.
This indicates that if anyone wanted access to the footage, they would have to have some sort of warrant or authorization to access it. Any video taken by police body cameras would be treated as evidence and not be released to the public.
The points made in this argument are relatively valid. For instance, if a police officer came to the front door of my house to speak to me, I would prefer the video of that interaction not be released. However, making this video private would be eluding the purpose of body cameras.
A police officer coming to my house to, let’s say, warn me that I have received a noise complaint is a fairly insignificant event and may seem unnecessary to release to the public. However, if that police officer had entered my house without a warrant, I would hope that it would be released as to expose the officer’s misconduct.
I understand privacy is important to a lot of people, but transparency and accountability in institutions such as police departments is far more essential, especially when considering cases such as Brown and Garner’s, where the misconduct was fatal.
Police officers are employees of the public and the body cameras that police wear are paid for by the public. So why should police departments be in charge of deciding what should and shouldn’t be accessible to the public?
Police departments should not be regulating this issue, as the whole point of body cameras is to make them more transparent. Keeping this footage filed away would likely allow for more secrecy.
Giving police departments the authority to regulate these videos would just result in another failed attempt at reforming the nation’s distorted system. If anything, city and state legislators should be making policies on how police departments handle footage.
How footage would be made available to the public is still a topic that needs to be discussed. The important part is that the video is made public. This wave of police reform will be pointless if police departments are continually allowed to say “just trust us” with evidence that citizens should have the right to access.
Jessica Gee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jaycgeek
Why Paid Family Leave Has Become A Major Campaign Issue
Lance Mercier knows his job gets harder when a co-worker goes out on leave. But he recently also learned that raising a newborn involves, as he puts it, an "insurmountable" amount of work.
The 39-year-old bank manager from Silver Spring, Md., is currently on leave from work taking care of his newborn son with his wife, Luz.
"As a manager who has had a lot of people go out on leave of absence, it absolutely sucks when they go out on leave," he said. "This puts everything back into perspective for me."
In fact, he will likely end up taking more time off from work than his wife will. Lance's job provides full pay for three months. Luz, meanwhile, gets eight weeks off at 60 percent pay. She can take extra eight weeks of unpaid leave if she wants.
Lance has a new appreciation for family leave, and he's not the only one. For the first time, paid leave has a prominent place in a presidential election. In this week's Democratic presidential debate, for example, Hillary Clinton took a swipe at California Republican Carly Fiorina's opposition to paid family leave.
"California has had a paid-leave program for a number of years," Clinton said, adding, "and it has not had the ill effects that the Republicans are always saying it will have. We can design a system and pay for it that does not put the burden on small business."
NPR has tackled the question of why the U.S. stands virtually alone in not mandating paid family leave, but here's another perplexing one — why now? New parents have needed leave for, well, for as long as there have been working parents. And it's true that workers did get unpaid leave in the 1990s. But what happened in the last few years to nudge paid family leave onto the national political stage?
Here is a list of factors that brought the policy into the spotlight:
1. Moms are working (and earning) more
No, paid leave isn't purely a women's issue, but it is true that with more moms working (not to mention the rise of single parenting, usually by moms), families need someone to mind the kids. Two-thirds of children live in homes where all parents work, as the White House reported last year, up from 40 percent in 1970.
Women are also one-third more likely to take leave from work than men are, according to the Labor Department, and the gap is greater for women taking time off to care for family members. Indeed, moms are far more often the caregivers to sick children than dads are.
Moreover, it's an issue that spans all sorts of divides — race, education and class, for example. The conversation surrounding women and work may have been loud among the white-collar set (think Sheryl Sandberg and Ann-Marie Slaughter), but the women with the least access to paid leave of any kind are, in fact, the least-educated and lowest-paid women.
Finally, women are increasingly better-educated than men — we just learned recently that for the first time, more American women have bachelor's degrees than men. As women's economic potential catches up to men's, it makes sense that they'd also push for a policy that allows them to hold onto that power.
2. Women vote
Not only do women use paid leave; they also turn out to vote in greater numbers than men — a gap that has only widened over the years, according to data compiled byRutgers University.
It's only a 4-percentage-point gap, but it has grown considerably, and in presidential elections, small shifts in voter participation can make a huge difference.
Once again, paid leave isn't purely a women's issue (see No. 3 below for proof), but it is still something women take more advantage of than men, thanks to both access and cultural values. Women are twice as likely as men to get paid leave, according to oneLabor Department study. And to the extent that that drives their votes, it could drive women to candidates that support paid leave policies.
Quite simply, it appears that men have been changing how they feel about work-life issues. Men are increasingly minding the kids — the number of stay-at-home dads is on the rise, as is the amount of time men are spending with the kids.
One 2014 study showed that Millennial men are less traditional in their views than their older counterparts (and those older men's views have also shifted substantially), overwhelmingly rejecting the notion that it's the woman's job to stay home with the kids, while the man goes to work.
"As the conversation becomes less gendered, the number of people interested in this issue increases," said Linda Hauser, a professor at Widener University, who has studied the economic effect of paid leave. And she adds it's not just about having kids. "It's also becoming care-giving neutral, as well. The care-giving support needs of aging adults are also becoming more prominent."
You could look at this cynically — more men wanted paid leave, so we started talking about it. And you wouldn't be entirely wrong. Men are, after all, still overwhelmingly the ones running the country.
But when you consider how many men are now supporting their families alongside wives with equal (or higher) earning potential — and working alongside an increasingly better-educated female workforce — it makes sense that men would start wanting to help women stay on an upward career (and earnings) trajectory.
4. The president talked about it. A lot
Think back to 2008, when paid leave just wasn't a big issue on the presidential campaign trail. Fast forward to today — President Obama hosts summits on working families, brought paid family leave into the State of the Union for the first time and mandated it for federal workers.
And when the leader of the country drags an issue into the spotlight, that makes it fair game.
"Support from Obama is important in this most recent wave," said Ruth Milkman, professor of sociology at The Graduate Center at City University of New York. "He's not in a position to do anything at the federal level, but I think using the bully pulpit of the presidency has helped."
But then, what nudged Obama to finally make this a policy priority? His second-term"bucket list" might be one answer. You could also argue it was people like Sandberg and Slaughter and other activists for paid leave expanding the conversation around work-life balance. Or the three states (New Jersey, California, and Rhode Island) that have paid-leave programs. (Washington has also passed a paid leave law but its implementation has been delayed.)
To be clear, President Obama wasn't — by a long shot — the first politician to push paid family leave. But raising its profile almost certainly made more room for other politicians to talk about it as well.
5. People like it (conditionally)
Of course, it doesn't hurt that family-friendly policies like paid leave are popular. Arecent poll from pro-leave group Make it Work found that 81 percent of likely 2016 voters thought policies like paid sick and family leave are a good idea.
But then there's a catch: people like paid leave, but it's not at the very top of their priority lists.
"I think when you talk about some of these policies that we think can really provide some relief for working families ... generally, people think about these policies, and they make sense," as Democratic strategist Karen Hicks told NPR's Tamara Keith last week. "But I think people tend to have a narrow view of it. And so if everything's going OK for them right now, this is not a top-of-the-list kind of priority."
And that brings us back to Lance Mercier. Paid leave just wasn't something he thought much about — until he had a kid to take care of.
"My mindset was different," he said of when he was in his 20s. "It was all about work, work, work, work," he said. "But now, as soon as that baby comes out, your life changes. I know you've heard that time and time again, but everything changes."
DON'T YOU WANT TO SEE THE ENTIRE WORLD?
Borrowdale, Lake District, Cumbria, UK
Architecture for the blog of it
Art for the Blog of It
Art for the Pop of it
Photography for the blog of it
Music for the Blog of it
Sculpture this and Sculpture that
The art of War (Propaganda art through the ages)
Album Art (Photographic arts)
Pulp Fiction Trash (The art of Pulp Fiction covers)
Admit it, you want to Read this Book (The art of Pulp Fiction covers)
The Godfather Trilogy BlogSpot
On the Waterfront: The Making of a great American Film
The Wee Book of Irish Recipes (Book support site)
Good chowda (New England foods)
Old New England Recipes (Book support site)
And I Love Clams (New England foods)
In Praise of the Rhode Island Wiener (New England foods)
Wicked Cool New England Recipes (New England foods)
Old New England Recipes (New England foods)
Foster Care new and Updates
Aging out of the system
Murder, Death and Abuse in the Foster Care system
Angel and Saints in the Foster Care System
The Foster Children’s Blogs
Foster Care Legislation
The Foster Children’s Bill of Right
Foster Kids own Story
The Adventures of Foster Kid.
Me vs. Diabetes (Diabetes education site)
The Quotable Helen Keller
Teddy Roosevelt's Letters to his children (Book support site)
The Quotable Machiavelli (Book support site)
Whatever you do, don't laugh
The Quotable Grouch Marx
A Big Blog of Irish Literature
The Wee Blog of Irish Jokes (Book support blog)
The Wee Blog of Irish Recipes
The Irish American Gangster
The Irish in their Own Words
When Washington Was Irish
The Wee Book of Irish Recipes (Book support site)
The Blogable Robert Frost
The Beat Poets of the Forever Generation
Holden Caulfield Blog Spot
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NEW ENGLAND BLOGS
The Quotable Thoreau
Old New England Recipes
Wicked Cool New England Recipes
The New England Mafia
And I Love Clams
In Praise of the Rhode Island Wiener
The Connecticut History Blog
The Connecticut Irish
God, How I hated the 70s
Child of the Sixties Forever
The Kennedy’s in the 60’s
Music of the Sixties Forever
Elvis and Nixon at the White House (Book support site)
Beatles Fan Forever
Year One, 1955
Robert Kennedy in His Own Words
The 1980s were fun
The 1990s. The last decade.
The Russian Mafia
The American Jewish Gangster
The Mob in Hollywood
We Only Kill Each Other
Early Gangsters of New York City
Al Capone: Biography of a self-made Man
The Life and World of Al Capone
The Salerno Report
Guns and Glamour
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Recipes we would Die For
The Prohibition in Pictures
The Mob in Pictures
The Mob in Vegas
The Irish American Gangster
Roger Touhy Gangster
Chicago’s Mob Bosses
Chicago Gang Land: It Happened Here
Whacked: One Hundred years of Murder in Gangland
The Mob Across America
Mob Cops, Lawyers and Front Men
Shooting the Mob: Dutch Schultz
Bugsy& His Flamingo: The Testimony of Virginia Hill
After Valachi. Hearings before the US Senate on Organized Crime
Mob Buster: Report of Special Agent Virgil Peterson to the Kefauver Committee (Book support site)
The US Government’s Timeline of Organized Crime (Book support site)
The Kefauver Organized Crime Hearings (Book support site)
Joe Valachi's testimony on the Mafia (Book support site)
Mobsters in the News
Shooting the Mob: Dead Mobsters (Book support site)
The Stolen Years Full Text (Roger Touhy)
Mobsters in Black and White
Mafia Gangsters, Wiseguys and Goodfellas
Whacked: One Hundred Years of Murder and Mayhem in the Chicago Mob (Book support site)
Gangland Gaslight: The Killing of Rosy Rosenthal (Book support site)
The Best of the Mob Files Series (Book support site)
It’s All Greek Mythology to me
The Rarifieid Tribe
The Upscale Traveler
The Mish Mosh Blog
DC Behind the Monuments
When Washington Was Irish
FROM LLR BOOKS. COM
The Day Nixon Met Elvis
Paperback 46 pages
Theodore Roosevelt: Letters to his Children. 1903-1918
Paperback 194 pages
THE ANCIENT GREEKS AND CIVILIZATIONS
The Works of Horace
Paperback 174 pages
The Quotable Greeks
Paperback 234 pages
The Quotable Epictetus
Paperback 142 pages
Quo Vadis: A narrative of the time of Nero
Paperback 420 pages
No time to say Goodbye: Memoirs of a life in foster
Paperbook 440 Books
BOOKS ABOUT FILM
On the Waterfront: The Making of a Great American Film
Paperback: 416 pages
BOOKS ABOUT GHOSTS AND THE SUPERNATUAL
Scotish Ghost Stories
Paperback 186 pages
The Book of funny odd and interesting things people say
Paperback: 278 pages
The Wee Book of Irish Jokes
Perfect Behavior: A guide for Ladies and Gentlemen in all Social Crises
You Don’t Need a Weatherman. Underground 1969
Paperback 122 pages
Baby Boomers Guide to the Beatles Songs of the Sixties
Baby Boomers Guide to Songs of the 1960s
The Connecticut Irish
Paper back 140 pages
The Wee Book of Irish Jokes
The Wee Book of Irish Recipes
The Wee Book of the American-Irish Gangsters
The Wee book of Irish Blessings...
The Wee Book of the American Irish in Their Own Words
Everything you need to know about St. Patrick
Paperback 26 pages
A Reading Book in Ancient Irish History
The Book of Things Irish
Poets and Dreamer; Stories translated from the Irish
Paperback 158 pages
The History of the Great Irish Famine: Abridged and Illustrated
Paperback 356 pages
BOOKS ABOUT NEW ENGLAND
The New England Mafia
Wicked Good New England Recipes
The Connecticut Irish
Paper back 140 pages
The Twenty-Fifth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Paperback 64 pages
The Life of James Mars
Paperback 54 pages
Stories of Colonial Connecticut
Paperback 116 pages
What they Say in Old New England
Paperback 194 pages
BOOK ABOUT ORGANIZED CRIME
Chicago Organized Crime
The Mob Files: It Happened Here: Places of Note in Chicago gangland 1900-2000
An Illustrated Chronological History of the Chicago Mob. Time Line 1837-2000
Mob Buster: Report of Special Agent Virgil Peterson to the Kefauver Committee
The Mob Files. Guns and Glamour: The Chicago Mob. A History. 1900-2000
Shooting the Mob: Organized crime in photos. Crime Boss Tony Accardo
Shooting the Mob: Organized Crime in Photos: The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.
The Life and World of Al Capone in Photos
AL CAPONE: The Biography of a Self-Made Man.: Revised from the 0riginal 1930 edition.Over 200 new photographs
Paperback: 340 pages
Whacked. One Hundred Years Murder and Mayhem in the Chicago Outfit
Paperback: 172 pages
Las Vegas Organized Crime
The Mob in Vegas
Bugsy & His Flamingo: The Testimony of Virginia Hill
Testimony by Mobsters Lewis McWillie, Joseph Campisi and Irwin Weiner (The Mob Files Series)
Rattling the Cup on Chicago Crime.
Paperback 264 pages
The Life and Times of Terrible Tommy O’Connor.
Paperback 94 pages
The Mob, Sam Giancana and the overthrow of the Black Policy Racket in Chicago
Paperback 200 pages
When Capone’s Mob Murdered Roger Touhy. In Photos
Paperback 234 pages
Organized Crime in Hollywood
The Mob in Hollywood
The Bioff Scandal
Paperback 54 pages
Organized Crime in New York
Joe Pistone’s war on the mafia
Mob Testimony: Joe Pistone, Michael Scars DiLeonardo, Angelo Lonardo and others
The New York Mafia: The Origins of the New York Mob
The New York Mob: The Bosses
Organized Crime 25 Years after Valachi. Hearings before the US Senate
Shooting the mob: Dutch Schultz
Gangland Gaslight: The Killing of Rosy Rosenthal. (Illustrated)
Early Street Gangs and Gangsters of New York City
Paperback 382 pages
THE RUSSIAN MOBS
The Russian Mafia in America
The Threat of Russian Organzied Crime
Paperback 192 pages
Best of Mob Stories
Best of Mob Stories Part 2
Mob Recipes to Die For. Meals and Mobsters in Photos
More Mob Recipes to Die For. Meals and Mobs
The New England Mafia
Shooting the mob. Organized crime in photos. Dead Mobsters, Gangsters and Hoods.
The Salerno Report: The Mafia and the Murder of President John F. Kennedy
The Mob Files: Mob Wars. "We only kill each other"
The Mob across America
The US Government’s Time Line of Organzied Crime 1920-1987
Early Street Gangs and Gangsters of New York City: 1800-1919. Illustrated
The Mob Files: Mob Cops, Lawyers and Informants and Fronts
Gangster Quotes: Mobsters in their own words. Illustrated
Paperback: 128 pages
The Book of American-Jewish Gangsters: A Pictorial History.
Paperback: 436 pages
The Mob and the Kennedy Assassination
Paperback 414 pages
BOOKS ABOUT THE OLD WEST
The Last Outlaw: The story of Cole Younger, by Himself
Paperback 152 pages
BOOKS ON PHOTOGRAPHY
Chicago: A photographic essay.
Paperback: 200 pages
Boomers on a train: A ten minute play
Paperback 22 pages
Four Short Plays
By John William Tuohy
Four More Short Plays
By John William Tuohy
High and Goodbye: Everybody gets the Timothy Leary they deserve. A full length play
By John William Tuohy
Cyberdate. An Everyday Love Story about Everyday People
By John William Tuohy
The Dutchman's Soliloquy: A one Act Play based on the factual last words of Gangster Dutch Schultz.
By John William Tuohy
Fishbowling on The Last Words of Dutch Schultz: Or William S. Burroughs intersects with Dutch Schultz
Print Length: 57 pages
American Shakespeare: August Wilson in his own words. A One Act Play
By John William Tuohy
She Stoops to Conquer
The Seven Deadly Sins of Gilligan’s Island: A ten minute play
Print Length: 14 pages
BOOKS ABOUT VIRGINIA
OUT OF CONTROL: An Informal History of the Fairfax County Police
McLean Virginia. A short informal history
THE QUOTABLE SERIES
The Quotable Emerson: Life lessons from the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Over 300 quotes
The Quotable John F. Kennedy
The Quotable Oscar Wilde
The Quotable Machiavelli
The Quotable Confucius: Life Lesson from the Chinese Master
The Quotable Henry David Thoreau
The Quotable Robert F. Kennedy
The Quotable Writer: Writers on the Writers Life
The words of Walt Whitman: An American Poet
Paperback: 162 pages
Gangster Quotes: Mobsters in their own words. Illustrated
Paperback: 128 pages
The Quotable Popes
Paperback 66 pages
The Quotable Dorothy Parker
Paperback 86 pages
The Quotable Machiavelli
Paperback 36 pages
The Quotable Greeks
Paperback 230 pages
The Quotabe Oscar Wilde
Paperback 24 pages
The Quotable Helen Keller
Paperback 66 pages
The Art of War: Sun Tzu
Paperback 60 pages
The Quotable Shakespeare
Paperback 54 pages
The Quotable Gorucho Marx
Paperback 46 pages