Mrs Morrison's Hotel

The 100% personal official blog for Patricia Kennealy Morrison, author, Celtic priestess, retired rock critic, wife of Jim

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I was, wait, sorry, that's "David Copperfield". Anyway, I was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island, went to school in upstate NY and came straight back to Manhattan to live. Never lived anywhere else. Never wanted to. Got a job as a rock journalist, in the course of which I met and married a rock star (yeah, yeah, conflict of interest, who cares). Became a priestess in a Celtic Pagan tradition, and (based on sheer longevity) one of the most senior Witches around. Began writing my Keltiad series. Wrote a memoir of my time with my beloved consort (Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison). See Favorite Books below for a big announcement...The Rennie Stride Mysteries. "There is no trick or cunning, no art or recipe, by which you can have in your writing that which you do not possess in yourself." ---Walt Whitman (Also @ and

Friday, March 30, 2007

Birfday Joy

To MDF Mary, who came to grace this earth 43 years ago tomorrow, and we are so glad she did.

And to my fictional character Rennie Stride, whose birthday is today, and if she were "real" (yeah, like she's not...) she would be, lessee now, 63. Unless I change it.

But happy birthday to them both.

Oh, Henry!

I see where there is a new series (“The Tudors”) about that very interesting and deeply unenlightened man, King Henry VIII.

Normally this would be must-see TV for me, because it’s my absolute favorite period of all history, but (a) it’s on cable, and I have so far managed to live without cable in my life; and (b) it’s written by the same eejit screenwriter who wrote that absolutely abominable MTV-style “Elizabeth” movie (the one that starred Cate Blanchett…which is pronounced BLANCH-ett, by the way, as she pronounces it herself—I’ve heard her, twice—not blan-CHETT).

I HATED that movie. Wrong history, wrong costumes, wrong hairstyles, wrong architecture.

So this one? No.

For one thing, the writer has publicly ’fessed up to taking liberties with characters and inventing stuff. (Oh, OLIVERRRR!!!! Sure you didn’t have a hand in this?)
Just for starters:
Princess Mary—Henry’s younger sister who married the moribund King of France—is called by the name of his older sister, Princess Margaret, who married the King of Scotland and became the grandmother of Mary Queen of Scots. Oh, and the old King of France is changed to the young King of Portugal. WTF??
A gay liaison is invented between two of Henry’s friends. Could have happened, but...
And a bunch more stuff, because the screenwriter thinks the real-life way it happened wasn't good enough. Welcome to the Oliver Stone Graduate School of Historical Distortion. Oy.

What annoys me more than anything, though, is the way the actor playing Henry and the actress playing Catherine of Aragon look nothing like their portraits and descriptions.
As a young man, Henry was gorgeous: tall, slim, athletic, and RED-HAIRED. And Catherine, six years his senior, was brilliant, scholarly, pretty and ALSO RED-HAIRED. Of the children not lost to stillbirth or infant death, they produced two red-haired daughters.

So then whywhywhy are the actors playing Mr. and the first Mrs. Tudor both brunettes? Yes, Catherine was Spanish, but just because she was doesn’t mean people should portray her as dark and olive-skinned. This isn’t the first production, of course, that does that, but come on, Hollywood, do your research! It's all well established, especially on Henry: we have paintings, written descriptions and even armor to attest to his stature and appearance. Yeesh.

Of all the Henrys I have beheld down the years, Keith Michell (“The Six Wives of Henry VIII”, both film and PBS Masterpiece Theatre versions) was by the far the best. He looked like Henry. He carried himself like Henry. He captured Henry’s intelligence and wit and vanity and talent (the king composed music, wrote poetry and theological discourses—for one of which books he was given the title “Defender of the Faith” by the pope of the time, how ironic was that in view of what happened later—and could speak numerous languages), and also his mercurial, murderous nature. He aged impressively and progressively girthier in the part. He was just terrific, and the actresses who played his queens were too.
As was, indeed, all the casting: the Wolsey and, especially, the Cranmer were absolute ringers for their portraits, so much so that it was kinda creepy.

So it’s not impossible to do historical fiction onscreen that isn't geared for the GameBoy generation's flea-like attention span and flea-sized capacity for absorbing detail and nuance. And it just makes me seethe that lazy screenwriters and incompetent casting directors don’t, or won’t, bother to take the time to get it right. Just because it all happened five hundred years ago is no excuse.

But then, considering how they can’t even get something right that happened thirty-five years ago (looking at you, Oliver, you lying bastard!), I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Just furious that once again, Hollywood spoils something interesting and good for the sake of "improving" it for the screen.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Whole Food Goodness

Just when I thought I was done with Whole Foods (for their policy of bleeding-heart concern for the poor suffering lobsters of the world), they open a new store at Bowery and Houston and knock my socks off.

First, it is HUGE. You folks who live out where there’s actual space are well used to gigundo supermarkets (and I make you take me to visit them whenever I stay with you, just so I can envy and weep). Us’ns in Manhattan, not so much. Space is at a very expensive premium, and what largish ones do come available are immediately snapped up by freakin’ Duane Reade, freakin’ CVS or some damn bank. So supermarkets are a thing of wonder to us.

And this Whole Foods is beyond that. It’s sparkling, has a sort of gold aura to it, and goes for MILES. The veggie section looks like a jewel box, so pretty is the produce. And it’s got cases and cases of prepared meals, a BARBECUE STATION (for lunch I had bourbon pulled brisket and cornbread, enough for two meals, for a grand total of 6.28). There’s an Italian food station (‘cause I can’t stand the Indian and salad one up at Union Square WF), a pommes frites station making them fresh and hot, an enormous fish section and even more enormous fresh meat section, and oh so much else.

And it could be on my way home from the gym, if I walk south a couple blocks and then over to Second Avenue. Work out first, pig out later. Sounds both virtuous and perfect.

See, Wal-Mart? THIS is what New Yorkers want to come to dwell amongst us.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New York to Wal-Mart: Drop Dead

I see where Wal-Mart seems to be throwing in the (low-quality terrycloth) towel as to getting one of their temples of cheapdom opened in my town.

Manhattan, at least. They may not have given up yet on Queens or Staten Island, though towns in both boroughs have already roundly rejected the invader’s probes with intense union, community and political opposition.

Wal-Mart’s chief executive whined at a press conference yesterday, “I don’t care if we are ever here” and further sniveled that trying to get into the New York City market was so difficult that “I don’t think it’s worth the effort.”

Ah, the grapes are so sour today, aren’t they? What a sore loser. But we’re glad he feels that way, and our labor leaders and citizenry return the sentiment, in spades. We don’t care if you’re ever here, either.

Wal-Mart may be like a giant manna-from-heaven squirrel nut-stash to folks out in the boondocks, who would otherwise have to hitch up the mules and mosey forty miles or so to buy things. But for us? Not so much.

We don’t like their cheapo, tacky stuff. We don't like the way they come in like giant hoovering fishing trawlers and sweep away all the local shops and family stores. And we really don’t like the nasty labor practices that make their low prices possible: serf pay, locking people in, taking advantage of illegals, skimpy benefits. Thank heaven we have strong unions and solid local politicians who can keep the big bully out.

Wal-Mart Head Boy’s Parthian shot, or bleat: “You have people who are just better than us and don’t want a Wal-Mart in their community.”

Well, yes, frankly, we ARE better than you. And also yes, we don’t want you here stinking up the streets—or blocking them with the humongous delivery trucks and parking acreage wastelands that attend upon your gasworks. So take your dowdy clothes and uninspired household goods and medieval labor practices and keep them far, far from the borders of our land.

You’re just not good enough for us. And you can't make it here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Cancer Police

I see where talent-free fluffball newspoodle Katie Couric is being lambasted for her interview on “60 Minutes” the other night with Elizabeth Edwards, cancer fighter and oh, yeah, wife of a presidential candidate.

Seems some people think the unspeakable and apparently Botoxed-up-the-wazoo Couric was like, way harsh on Mr. and Mrs. Edwards for not dropping everything to concentrate on her medical situation. According to the Cancer Police, who seem to know better how to deal with cancer than people who actually have cancer, Elizabeth should immediately give up her job and stay home with her young kids. “Yes, children, Mommy’s probably going to die from her incurable disease, so she’s home with you 24/7 until it happens”—boy, that’s a comfort to the little ones.

And John Edwards should instantly give up his presidential run and aspirations (and victory, as I for one would very much like to see happen) and tend to his wife. Yeah, they should spend all their time bunkered down at home, obsessing on death every moment of every hour of every day. What a nice positive environment that will be for the whole family.

Hmm. I seem to recall Couric’s own husband dying of colon cancer a few years back. Yes…the way she selflessly gave up her big important TV job to stay home with him and spend all their waking minutes obsessing on death was a lesson to us all.

Oh, right, she DIDN’T give up her job, did she. My mistake.

Nor do I see the loathsome Cheneys staying home so Lynn can take care of her husband’s dicky heart. (I’m still surprised to hear he actually has a heart of any sort…)

Couric has no business copping any damn kind of attitude about Elizabeth and John Edwards’ handling of their situation. Yeah, she probably asked the right questions—she’d have been flamed for being a marshmallow-y wuss if she hadn’t (though we all know she is one)—but she didn’t frame them the right way, and for that, as one who purports to be a heavy-mob journalist and run with the big dogs, she should indeed be smacked around.
But mostly she should just stay on the porch. She's a cheerleading newsreader: she's not a journalist and for all her wannabe-ing, she never will be. By comparison to any of the other evening anchors, past or present (except for her sister in speciousness, the unctuous Barbara Wawa), she's hopelessly out of her depth. Let her keep to the shallows.

How people deal with cancer is nobody’s freakin’ business but theirs and their loved ones’. One of the people I love best and most in all the world has been fighting and beating breast cancer for the past ten years. It’s recurred twice: she was declared in remission back around Christmas, but she’s just been told that “something” is there again, but her amazing doctor isn’t sure quite what just yet. Could be (and undoubtedly is) nothing, just a small weirdness.

Doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, she will go after it with the extraordinary courage and sweetness and humor that characterize everything she does, and she will beat it back again, and again, and as many times as it takes. We hope and pray this will be the final time she has to, and that it will be nothing but clear blue skies of health for her for the next fifty years.

In the meantime, she hasn’t quit any of her jobs (she writes books and reads scripts for various studios), and neither has her equally amazing husband. They take huge trips several times a year to strange and exotic places, and they live their daily lives around the cancer, not for it or in spite of it.
Not to mention the trifling facts that she has entered divinity school and is ferociously pursuing her second Master’s and first Ph.D., and she’s written a thunderingly wonderful young-adult book, and it’s just been greenlighted for a cable movie.

We who love her behold all this with awe, but with absolutely no surprise. She’s the bravest person we know, and we have every confidence and expectation that she’s going to beat cancer to a bloody pulp and leave it gasping on the floor, never to return to the inhospitable neighborhood of herself.

Another of my dearest and most-loved friends has beaten cancer of his own, a warrior in real life as well as in the SCA and Star Trek Klingon fandom. He kept fighting, both the cancer (and other health issues) and in the lists, and he is formidable to this day.

So much for the Cancer Police philosophy of stay home with your spouse and wait to die. As we said in the 60s, Fuck that noise!

Of course I have thought about what I would do in such circumstances, and I have come to the conclusion that I would not give up really but just go happily (and seriously druggily) off to be with my honey in rock and roll heaven. That’s a choice too. But I don’t know, thank all gods. It hasn’t happened, and I really can’t say.

I like to think, though, that I would deal with it, either way, as bravely and indomitably as my friends, and as the Edwardses. And we pray health and happiness upon them all.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Spam. A Lot.

Spam—the email sort—is, as we all agree, useless and vile. (Well, maybe the other sort too, though some of my Hawaiian friends claim otherwise.)

But as I have perused the volleys of spammers slam-a-jammin’ my gmail and lycos accounts, I have noticed how really creative and even euphonious are some of the names they choose to use.

Oh, not the stupid ones, like CXER239, or the porny ones. But the ones that try to make you think they come from real people whom you know. (Yeah, right…do they really think that anyone, at this late date, would actually OPEN these parcels of annoyance? Surely not! )

Anyway, I have found a use for these! I employ them as character names in the books I’m working on, and they fit surprisingly well. Not all of them, but really quite a lot. Seems fair.

Today’s crop of possibles:

Trevino Diaz
Jeffers Freeman
Cherie Sheridan
Estella Pace
Molly Maples

Don’t those sound like plausible 60s monikers? Yes, I think they do. And those are only the ones left in my inbox today. By the end of the week I’ll have ever so many more.

So keep your spammy spams coming, crazy people. Your faux nomenclature may be immortal yet.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Losing My Precision

I read a piece in the NYTimes the other day where somebody had lost something precious, a piece of jewelry, I think it was, and I can certainly relate.

For some reason, I don’t generally lose material objects (she said, religiously touching wood).
Oh, sure, some stuff has gone mysteriously missing over the years (where are some of my 60s shoes, those square-toed brown leather bronze Pilgrim-buckled ones in particular? I don’t recall throwing them out…), but mostly it all sticks.

I still have stuff from when I was a wee lassie: the heart-shaped little blue plastic jewelry box with a clear lid that my grandma bought me when we went shopping in downtown Brooklyn when I was about six, and she took me to the Automat for the first time (I indulged myself with a liverwurst sandwich and hot chocolate from those wonderful silver dolphin founts); my teensy monogrammed gold baby ring (now on a charm bracelet), also from my grandma, who gave it to me when I was born, the first grandchild on the McDonald side; my Girl Scout pin; an aquamarine flower pin that my mom gave me for my tenth birthday…

You see the theme here. I hang on like grim death to anything jewelry or jewel-related. So it was especially weird and upsetting when I lost a brooch I had had made in Jim’s honor.

MDF Gregg Wolf, a brilliant jewelry designer and silversmith (check out his website, if he ever gets it running), had designed a wonderful single wing in silver that looked like an angel’s pinion, which he made up as rings and pendants and brooches.
I asked him if he would do a brooch for me of two of the wings crossed, so that it looked like a heart of wings, as a memorial brooch for Jim on the twenty-fifth anniversary. He happily obliged, and it looked gorgeous (Mr. Wolf added it to the line, and tells people that Jim’s wife designed it as a memorial for him, very sweet).

Anyway, a few years later I was wearing it on July 3, when I went out very early in the morning to light a candle at a lovely Romanesque-style Victorian church on 14th Street, which I sometimes do. When I got there, I noticed the brooch had fallen off my black cotton shirt. I was hysterical, but lit the candle anyway and then walked back home, staring at the ground, hoping to find the brooch along the way.

I had no hope, really, because, well, NYC, piece of silver jewelry lying on the sidewalk, what were the odds? People are out and about even at 6 am; who’s not going to notice it and grab it and run? Unless somehow I had dropped it before leaving my building, though I was not sanguine about the chances. Therefore I was so very sad as I trudged homeward.


When I got to my post office place, there it was! Lying on the pavement like a fallen shiny leaf, just waiting for me to pick it up and take it safely home. I like to think Jim made it invisible, so that no one else took it…hard to believe that no one saw it lying there, where it must have been for at least fifteen minutes. Or perhaps anyone who saw it felt the vibe of bad, BAD karma that I would have sic’d on them, and wisely let it be.

I’ve lost a few items since—unusual and very annoying—but if that brooch had really been gone I would have felt, somehow, I don't know, personally insulted.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Hand to Gods

Lamh-dhia, in the Keltic. Basically, just another excuse to go on eBay.

I speak of religious statues, to which I have been addicted ever since I was a small Catholic child. (Well, a child living in a Catholic household, anyway: I don’t know as I could ever call myself a Catholic…)
I had issues with the dogma from the get-go, but man did I LOVE me them statues! And other stuff, like rosaries and medals. Sacramentals, as such things were called. Ritual oojiboos. But the statues were the thing.

I had Blessed Mother statues of all sizes and shapes, and tiny plastic or leather cases with metal statues inside that you could carry around in a pocket, and cute plastic shrines that looked like garden arbors. Once, for being a showoffy second-grader whom the principal, the ever so ironically named Mother Benigna, utilized to taunt an eighth-grade boy with his lack of reading skills, I won a lovely little bust of the BVM carved in salt! (I know ’cause I tasted it…and I was lucky that that lectorially challenged kid didn't beat me up in the playground after school. Still, it was the nun's fault...)

Wasn’t so big on Jesus, though. For some reason, he and the apostles annoyed me. Though I was intrigued by the Holy Ghost, and if I had to pick a favorite trinity member, that would be the one. But Michael the Archangel, Mary, St. Joan…all faves.

My parents encouraged this, mistakenly thinking it a symbol of piety, but it was really just greed, and I knew it then.

And when I returned to being a Pagan, wow, the stuff was EXCELLENT! So I started collecting statues of deities. I must have hundreds by now: some are altar-size and not very portable, and some are tiny—my road gods.

These come with me whenever I travel, a carefully rotated selection according to who's been where last and the requirements of the trip (LA is different than Scotland). They can be no more than four inches high. They cannot be metal, since heads of Dionysus and a three-faced Irish Mother Goddess ran into trouble with Homeland Security, who tossed them around like tiny grenades and kept X-raying them, and laughing as if the grinning idiots had never seen such things before, most disrespectful. So they don’t come with me anymore.

Mostly the road gods live at work, where about 60 of them occupy the entire windowsill in my office. People think they’re just cool art objects, so I don’t have the difficulties a Christian might have with people objecting to religious displays. Besides, most of these actually are art objects, replicas or indeed originals of Old Good Things, therefore MUCH more aesthetically tasteful and pleasing to look at than kitschy Jesus stuff.
(And why IS Jesus always shown in such saccharine and little-girly wussymodes? Hey! The guy was a rough, tough Galilean carpenter and fisherman, who had no problem whipping moneychangers out of the Temple. But his depictors never seem to want to butch him up...could they be, oh, I don't know, AFRAID to show him as a Real Man?)

It’s hard to find small statues, a lot harder than you’d think. I have and have seen a bunch that I would just loooove to have in travel-size (looking at YOU, Dryad Designs Morrigan! I’m needing a three-inch version, not twice that), but no. Though I must say eBay’s been a good source, and none of my acquisitions were outrageously priced.

Still, I’ve been really fortunate: that head of Dionysus is a Roman bronze from the 1st century CE; one of the Celtic Goddess “Senara” (nobody’s sure), same period; terracotta heads of Dionysus and Zeus from Magna Graecia (too delicate to travel); Diana; Ariadne; assorted Zuni fetishes; a tiny silver Brighid that was a gift from MDF sukipot; La Dame de Brassempouy, a replica of a prehistoric Mother Goddess from the caves of France, original in ivory, hair in cornrows, a gift from MDF Phyllis Curott; a delicate ivory head of Isis crowned from the 1920s; solid silver Thor, Frey, Freyja and Odin; a fabulous carved red jade disc with Kuan Yin one side and a stag with stars on the other; a tinted carved bone tablet I had made of the goddess Maeve, copied from the logo of the Abbey Theatre. Good stuff, and soooo much more.

I’ll be passing all these on to my Pagan friends when I set sail, so if anyone has a particular yen for something, do let me know in timely fashion so I can put a tiny sticker on it. (I love doing this, btw; I spend hours and hours figuring out my will, and who gets what. It’s all about control, even as I am leaning upon the taffrail on a grey ship bound to Valinor…not anytime soon, I promise.)

But mostly I just like having these things around. I like looking at them. I talk to them. They’re company, comfort and consolation. Which is all you can ask of a god, really.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Conanne the Grammarian

She who swings a mighty…sharp pointy editing pencil! She who is lethal death on serial commas! Who never met an ellipsis she didn’t like (unless they have four periods, which is just stupid… The idea is that the thought is trailing off, which it can’t do if one puts a fourth period stop to it…)! Who fights for the vanishing semicolon! Who is admittedly wobbly on the rule about capitalizing the first word after a colon if it precedes a full sentence! Yes! THAT Conanne!

Conanne’s attention has been engaged of late by the “Bill Sweater Problem.” How is it, Conanne wonders, that we say (or are urged to say) “a friend of Bill”, yet we say, just as possessively, “a sweater of Bill’s”? Bill stands in a possessive relationship to both friend and sweater, so this is puzzling, to say the least.

We can say “a friend of Bill’s”, but many think us wrong to do so (Conanne, however, is not among them). But we cannot say “a sweater of Bill”, unless perchance we have knitted ourselves one out of his shredded connective tissue.

As Conanne says, this is puzzling.

Also, Conanne is fed up with putting punctuation marks inside quotes when they are not part of the thing quoted. As above: “a sweater of Bill’s”, not “a sweater of Bill’s,” for example. The lone exception she will allow is the period at the end of a sentence that ends in a close quote, “like this.” And that grudgingly. If given her typographical druthers, Conanne would have the period right under the quotes, but this does not seem likely to happen. Not until she starts working on Patricia’s new books, anyway.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Warrior Queen of Queens

Huzzay three times three for Queens resident Rose Morat, 101 years old! Attacked in the lobby of her own building (on my OWN BIRTHDAY! How DARE he!!) by a cowardly crapweasel in his 30’s, who punched her several times while she stood there on her walker and then shoved her to the floor, she fought him off the whole time for the paltry $32 he eventually got.

This pusillanimous piece of garbage then rode off on his little pink bicycle (how manly!), and half an hour later, similarly assaulted another elderly lady who uses a walker, 85-year-old Solange Elizée. Stole another 45 bucks and the wedding ring her late husband (whom she married over 60 years ago) had given her. Despicable and spineless.

On all the local news programs afterwards, well-spoken and fighting mad, Morat thundered that had she only been a few years younger, like in her 90’s, she’d have beat him up herself. Way to go, Miss Rose! You obviously have serious thorns. Not to mention serious stones.

I hope this gutless wonder rots in hell, AFTER the two ladies and their kin and friends and the rest of New York have been allowed to go at him with sharp pointy sticks. He has not yet been caught, unfortunately, but it’s only a matter of time. There was lots of footage from the lobby camera in the Morat attack, showing his face, and how many cowardly crapweasels riding around on pink bicycles can there be in Queens?

Police claim they have made progress. We’ll see.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Auto Eroticism

I’m just not into cars. I must be the only person who ever passed a high-school driver’s ed course on Long Island and didn’t get her license immediately thereafter. I CAN drive, in the sense that I know how, and could do in an emergency. I just DON’T, and you should bow before me in gratitude that this should be so.

Because I’m far too imaginative to be allowed out on the road. I constantly project what the idiots around me are doing, or are likely to do, and drive accordingly. I’m not very good.
I did drive once in L.A., when Jim was a little too drunk to get behind the wheel. I figured I could certainly get us where we were going more surely than he could at that point: it wasn’t far, and I drove fast, so they wouldn’t catch me. Going twenty mph would have been a giveaway.

But otherwise not, and so I have no reason to covet automobiles.

I do appreciate a few, though. I have always dug the iconic mid-50’s T-bird. And the late-60’s Jaguar XKE. Studebakers of various vintages appeal to me with their quirky design. Classic 60’s Mustangs, too.
(For a while Jim drove a ’68 Shelby Cobra Mustang, the only car he ever outright owned, which Elektra Records allowed him to choose as his bonus for the huge success of the first album—I believe the other Doors went for guitars (Robby), sound equipment (Ray) and a horse (John). Sadly, the Blue Lady, as the car was known, had met its demise, or he had lost it, or something, by the time I got out to L.A., and he drove me around in a rented snot-green Buick Challenger instead. Ick.)
These days I like those cute little sit-up-and-beg PT Cruisers and Morrises, the ones that look like infant London taxicabs. And I shamefully confess to a great fondness for the mid-70’s Pacer hatchback (I just think it’s cool).

But I had never experienced full-blown car lust until I laid eyes on a 1967 black Porsche convertible.

I had off-handedly written it into one of my rock mysteries as the English guitar stud co-protagonist’s (Turk) conveyance of choice. Then I realized oh wow, never actually seen one, and I figured I’d better go check out what the hell it looked like, just for accuracy’s sake.

So I went online and found one—on eBay Autos, of all places. And, I tell you, I fell in love.

Oh. My. God. It was GORGEOUS. Shiny black, with cream leather upholstery. It had two seats in front, and two more in the rear that you could sort of scrunch in for brief rides but looked uncomfortable for anything longer. Elegant, jaunty, full of itself in an understated and yet totally justified way. Soooooooo pretty.

And I lusted after it. More than I can tell you. Never mind that I don’t drive, never mind I had nowhere to put it, never mind that it was in L.A. and I was in NY. I waaaaaaanted it. It was Turk’s car! And it only had an $8,500 opening bid! Which maybe should have been a red flag, but the claim was that it ran just fine and I was willing, nay, eager, to believe.

I could sleep in it, I rationalized. I could use it as a planter in my building’s back yard. I could garage it down the block (for three times the monthly rent of my admittedly minuscule yet rent-controlled apartment) and hire someone to chauffeur me around whenever I wanted, for money, or just for the glory of getting to drive a classic Porsche.
As for getting it home from California, several friends on several of my online boards offered their services—one of them, a blonde as nutty as myself, suggesting that we could do a Thelma-and-Louise road trip from L.A. to NY, only with a happy ending. And I seriously considered it.

But in the end I reluctantly let it go, unbidden-on; another eBayer drove it home instead, for the opening bid price. I wept. And I continue to sigh on occasion for what might have been. True, it wouldn’t have been a “green” vehicle (a Smugmobile, as MDF Mary refers to her own hybrid). But it would have hardly ever been driven! I would have gone periodically to venerate it and shine it up and just sit in it, humbly and appreciatively.
Still, that’s what books are for, and I’m sure Turk will be happy to give me a lift from time to time, in gratitude for my having given him such groovy wheels. What a guy. What a CAR.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wearyin' O' The Green

In a possibly related vein to yesterday’s post, tomorrow is “Saint” “Patrick’s” Day. His name wasn’t really Patrick, he wasn’t particularly saintlike and he may not have even existed at all (recent research suggests there may have been two early missionaries conflated into one for hagiographic purposes and tagged “Patrick”).

And in my opinion he was the worst thing that has ever happened to Ireland and the Irish.

I myself was supposed to have been actually born on SPD, but even in the womb I realized how very, very wrong this would be, and arranged things otherwise by showing up on March 4 instead. So my parents fought back (for the first time, certainly not the last) by baptizing my helpless and protesting infant self on the 17th, and naming me Patricia. (For my immigrant Ui Cinnfhaolidh great-great-grandfather, I prefer to think, NOT for the dubious saint.)

You have to give “Patrick” (real name Sucellos, who was born a Brit and was later a slave) some grudging credit, though, for being possessed of both passion and low cunning. He ruthlessly and enthusiastically carried out his popish master’s decree to suborn and co-opt the native Pagan religion by (oooh, what would Jesus think?) lying to the populace.
Sure, you’ll still worship the Goddess, he said, but now there’ll be only one, combining all the rest, and oh by the way you’ll be calling her Mary. Oh, and Lugh of the Shining Spear? Yeah, him. Well, he’ll be St. Michael the Archangel. The holy wells and springs and high places? Hand ’em over and we’ll build churches on them.
And many of the Irish, being a courteous and easy-going people, said okay, sure, fine, whatever, it’s all the same thing anyway. (Not to “Patrick” it wasn’t, oh nooooo!) The others, obviously smarter and more ornery, stayed resolutely Pagan, and good for them!

But that was the nose of the Christian camel poking into the Irish tents. They acquiesced to their eternal and ultimate doom. The people ended up saddled and bridled and yoked with Christianity, and signed their souls over to be ruled by meddlesome priestlings forevermore. (And letting in the limey incomers, in the person of Henry II, but that’s a whole other rant.)

Though also the Irish kept the Old Way alive, running under the groansome edifice of the Church like a clean, clear, bubbling underground stream. The cherished inborn and primeval observances were still kept, but now in secret, masked as humble, harmless “folk magic”, though “Patrick” ’s later suck-up hagiographers would boast of his having driven the snakes out of Ireland—by which was meant the ancient Serpent Wisdom of the goddess Brighid and the rest of her bright clan of deities, the knowledge that was destroyed by the stormtrooper monks who came after, who lied and dismissed and distorted the tales and histories and bardic treasuries that had been preserved so long.

Here is a Druidic rann that prophesied the coming of “Patrick”:

From across the sea will come Adze-head
crazed in the head
his cloak with a hole for the head
his stick bent in the head.

He will chant impieties from a table in the front of his house;

all his people will answer: “So be it, so be it. [= Amen.]”

I’d say the Draoicht got it just about right.

So on March 17, I wear black in mourning for the destruction of my ancestral homeland’s native religious and social culture by thrice-damned invaders, and I adorn myself with much of my considerable collection of Celtic jewelry (including the silver-and-cairngorm necklace from Hebridean Jewellers that MDF Kathleen wore as a headband in the wedding scene of That Damn Movie) and a Dress Morrison tartan silk sash, in celebration of the Celtic Revival.

It’s my way of making this atrabilious date into a Celtic fiesta, Pan-Celtic Day (Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, Manx, Breton). Works for me, and for a lot of other Celtic Pagans and fellow travelers as well.

And I stay well away from the public, not caring to endure the efforts (or evade the bodily effluvia) of underage drinkers, or be subjected to the sort of high-on-Lucky- Charms vermin who think that the diabetic-coma-inducing “Toora Loora Loora” is genuine Irish culture, and who are wont to spout off ersatz and unspeakably corny “Irish” quotes and wear/buy wretchedly cutesy-poo little trinkets, usually with tacky mottoes on. Demeaning shamrockery, presenting our ancient and yes, noble, race as the Stepin Fetchits of Europe, in full-on shuckin’ and jivin’ greenface.

Amateurs. Kiddies shouldn’t be drinking in the first place, and even grownups only if they can handle themselves alcohol-wise in public; and people who are Irish only one day a year (and superficially stage-Irish at that) are an insult and an outrage to the race.

So I stay home, where I can avoid all this and read genuine Irish legends (and my own books, one of the few occasions when I do) and play real Celtic music: Alan Stivell, Breton harp wonder; the original Clannad, when they sang gloriously in Irish, before they went all “world music” and boring on us; Altan, also Irish, also terrific; Plethyn, Torth o Fara and Ar Log, of Wales; Scotland’s Tannahill Weavers and Kentigern; bunch more, much of which I must listen to on cassette or even VINYL (which is of course fine). Good Stuff.

And where I also contemplate what I could only do for the cause of Celtic independence and a union of the Six Nations with a judicious application of the Death Star; or, failing that, some nice Keltic (from my Keltiad) force, er, persuasion. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Nation Once Again. NOT.

I see where scientists, meddling as usual in things better left alone, have “discovered” that the inhabitant populations of Britain and Ireland are linked more firmly and extensively than anyone ever thought. Or wished.

Specifically, they claim that DNA tests indicate that the British Isles have for many millennia been inhabited by a single people who still remain in the genetic majority, and that incomers like the Celts, Romans, Saxons, Angles, Viking and Normans have had little effect, barely rippling the surface water of the gene pool.

The supposition is that the British Isles, still land-linked to Europe, were scoured clean of people by the glaciers, and that those people all went to southern Spain and Italy and France and other places where it was warm.
When the ice melted, they all went back. Supposedly, about 75% of the ancestors of the current Brit and Irish populations came to the islands between 7,500 and 15,000 years ago, before the land bridges between Europe and Britain and Britain and Ireland broke and separated the islands forever.

So the people did their own thing, for years and years and years, and finally the Celts showed up, bringing their language and new things like agriculture with them.
More invaders followed, but according to the figures they are mere drops in the original DNA bucket: 12% of the Irish gene pool, 20% in Wales, 30% in Scotland and about the same in southern and eastern England.
That’s everybody, all-in. According to this research, the ancestors of the vast majority of people who call Britain and Ireland home (or origin) were present in those islands long, long before the Romans got there in 43 CE. But the Celts were already there!

This interests me, of course, but it also displeases me very much indeed. I am still mightily attached to the idea that the Celts, of whom I am proudly and loudly one (with the anciently anthropological epicanthic eyefolds to prove it), are dramatically different from the Others (Angles and Saxons and Jutes, oh my!) in so many ways and all of them BETTER, and I am quite reluctant to give it up.

(Though I’m sure there’s Viking DNA roaring around somewhere in my double helices, given the knowledge of what went on back in the day in the west of Ireland where the O’Kinealys—and those eyefolds—originally came from. And that would be okay, for sure.)

But as for these pre-Celtic über-islanders, or whatever one can call them…I dunno. Unless, unless, unless they’re really….ATLANTEANS! And who’s to say they’re not? Refugees from the big floods, 10,000 years or so ago—it all ties in.

Now that I could live with. Or as.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pigs Are Jumpin', And The Dudgeon Is High

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Customer service and faith clash at registers

Some Muslim cashiers at Target refuse to handle pork, setting off another debate over the place of religion in society.

By Chris Serres and Matt McKinney, Star Tribune staff writers

Beryl Dsouza was late and in no mood for delays when she stopped at a Target store after work two weeks ago for milk, bread and bacon.

So Dsouza was taken aback when the cashier—who had on the traditional headscarf, or hijab, worn by many Muslim women— refused to swipe the bacon through the checkout scanner.

“She made me scan the bacon. Then she opened the bag and made me put it in the bag,” said Dsouza, 53, of Minneapolis. “It made me wonder why this person took a job as a cashier.”

In the latest example of religious beliefs creating tension in the workplace, some Muslims in the Twin Cities are adhering to a strict interpretation of the Qur’an that prohibits the handling of pork products.

Instead of swiping the items themselves, they are asking non-Muslim employees or shoppers to do it for them.

It has set off a firestorm of comments—more than 400, as of Tuesday evening—on the Star Tribune’s community blog, People called the newspaper from as far as Tokyo to voice their opinion.

It remains unclear how many Muslim cashiers in the Twin Cities are declining to ring up pork sales.

Immigrants help fuel debate

The Twin Cities area has become a hotbed for such conflicts because of its burgeoning population of Somali immigrants, many of whom are orthodox Muslims. Last year, Somali cabdrivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport attracted national attention when some refused to carry passengers toting alcohol.

Dr. Shah Khan, a spokesman for the Islamic Center of Minnesota in Fridley, said the Somali Muslim community is divided between those who believe it is wrong only to eat pork and more orthodox Muslims who believe the prohibition extends to selling, touching or handling the meat.

He urged people to remember the extraordinary adjustments many Somalis have made in coming to the Twin Cities. “Many of these people are refugees. They may have been tortured. And they came here having never held a book in English,” he said. “They’re already adapting to our society. We need to adapt to them, too.”

Target released this statement in response: “Providing guests with consistently fast checkouts is a key, fundamental part of our business and our guest service commitment. As always, we continue to explore reasonable solutions that consider the concerns of team members while ensuring that we maintain our ability to provide the highest level of guest service.”

Retailers have accommodated other religious groups over the years. In the Twin Cities, these include those who don’t want to sell lottery tickets or work on Saturdays, said Bernie Hesse, local organizer for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 789. Supermarkets in particular have been good about recognizing their employees’ religious observances, he said.

“If we ever get to the point of selling wine in grocery stores, I imagine some folks will be excused from doing that,” Hesse said.

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for a person’s religious practices if it doesn’t impose an undue hardship.

A customer’s personal preferences are usually not a factor in deciding whether a religious practice is protected in the workplace, noted Khadija Athman, national civil rights manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington.

In most cases, a cashier should be able to call over another cashier who can scan a product and the shopper shouldn't be inconvenienced, Athman noted. “If the employee is rude and gasps at the sight of pork, then it's a different situation,” she said.

Cabs are different from stores

Some legal experts said cashiers who avoid pork in a checkout line are different from taxi drivers at the airport who refuse customers carrying alcohol. “I think in general we expect taxi drivers to pick up all fares,” said Eric Janus, the vice dean of William Mitchell College of Law. “That’s part of what it means to be a taxi driver.”

A supermarket cashier, on the other hand, is not under the same legal obligation to serve all customers, though the store may be. As long as another cashier is available to serve the customer, there should be no problem, said Janus.

The cashiers’ example holds a similar legal ground to pharmacists who refuse to dispense birth control or morning-after pills, a practice that has led to differing legal opinions in some states as many legislatures decide to take on the issue.

"It gets a little more difficult in the pharmacy world if you're dealing with a 24-hour pharmacy and the only pharmacist on duty is refusing to fill prescriptions," said Stephen Befort, a professor at the University of Minnesota College of Law.

Some people see the Muslims’actions as evidence of an unwillingness to adapt to the American workplace, and to the society as a whole.

“It’s about one ethnic group imposing its own beliefs on the rest of us,” said Manny Laureano, 51, of Plymouth, who plays trumpet for the Minnesota Orchestra. “It goes against the whole idea of this country as different groups of people who came together to create a single culture.”

©2007 Star Tribune staff writers. All rights reserved.

I am sick and tired of this kind of crapola. And I’m sorry to have to say it, but it seems lately to be predominantly Muslims who are pulling it. So if you think the rant to come might offend your delicate sensibilities, stop right here…

Okay, then.

If Muslim immigrants to this country want to live under the oh so enlightened glow of shari’a law, then fine, but they do NOT get to impose it on the rest of us. Go back home to all those countries living in the wisdom of the Prophet, countries that cut people’s hands off for stealing and impose genital mutilation on women. If they love their Islamic homelands’ ways so much, they can fucking well go back to them.

There were some suggestions that people like this clerk and the alcohol-carrier-denying cabdrivers mentioned in the piece are simply badly misinformed as to the strictures and limits of their own traditions, and are taking this avoidance policy upon themselves either out of ignorance or a desire to annoy Americans. If we were in their country, we wouldn’t expect them to bend over backwards to accommodate us, but we would honor their traditions.

And ours is “You want to live here, you play by OUR rules. Not yours.”

It’s stupid and it’s ridiculous and it’s just plain wrong. I recall that some years back bleeding-heart liberals and Hmong elders actually pushed for the establishment of purely Hmong clan courts, so that Hmong-on-Hmong crime could be decided by Hmong leaders according to their culture’s laws. Well, that’s not how we do things here. We’re all in it together, and that’s why it works. Why do people like this come here at all, if they want to make no effort to be American?

Must immigrants out of the 8th century be accommodated in all their quaint little ways here in the 21st? Are we to allow the incomers amongst us to follow their fine old traditions of family violence, child marriage, stoning of adulterers and gays, cutting the hands off thieves and whipping litterers and drunks? Where does it end?

I would think that this Target clerk who so sanctimoniously (and apparently incorrectly) refused to touch a WRAPPED pork product must therefore also as strictly adhere to all the other charming tenets that make Islam such a great religion.

So: she can’t sell newspapers, magazines or books to women, since in Islam, despite a historic tradition of famous women Koran scholars, females aren't supposed to read or get an education. She can’t even read them herself.
She can’t sell, touch or look at the pictures, either: representational imagery is an abomination.
She can’t scan the pet food: dogs are unclean.
As a woman, she shouldn’t have been out of the home working in the first place—that too is counter to Islam.
She shouldn’t be passing money directly to male shoppers; Islamic custom requires that it be placed on the counter for the man to pick up (and the same for a male cashier and a female shopper).
Where was her husband or other male relative, required to be there to protect her “purity” and guard her “honor”?
She damn well better not have driven herself to work.
And, as a model Muslim woman, let’s hope she underwent genital mutilation at an early age. All to follow the tenets of Islam. Seems to me she likes to pick and choose.

As long as they’re forcing us to do things their way, maybe the Muslim clerks at Target and elsewhere should also make sure that there’s no Muzak on the PA system, because isn’t music forbidden as well? What if some shoppers decide to sing along or, God forbid, dance a little shuffle while they wait for an infidel backup clerk to hop over to scan the wrapped pork products? Oh, and no images of people in the store, either; that too might offend them. The occasions of sin are everywhere. If they can’t deal, let them go home and starve and be stepped on like good Muslims, and sin no more in our midst. I’m sure their Prophet would prefer it of them.

It’s utterly preposterous. Why should a whole long line of shoppers checking out be delayed for minutes on end while someone is found who can actually touch the bacon, ring it up and toss it in a bag, and the Muslim clerk stands idly and “virtuously” by? A line must be drawn in the sand, and I say let it be drawn in bacon fat.

The bacon isn’t being forced into this cashier’s hands in all its naked porcine glory. It’s WRAPPED. In PLASTIC. Orthodox Jews have no problem whatsoever with handling pork—they raise pigs in Israel—they just can’t, you know, EAT pork or cook it in their restaurants or homes. (How sad for them…) And know what? We’re all FINE with that.

I’m all for people keeping up their ethnic traditions, but it has to stop somewhere before the event horizon of lunacy. If someone won’t perform the job for which she was hired, fire her or transfer her to a position where her sensibilities won’t offend herself OR the bacon-buying public.
I fault Target as well: if these people won’t or can’t serve the customers, then don’t freakin’ hire them! (I won’t be shopping at Target myself, by the way…I might offend an employee by asking them to touch plastic-wrapped uncleanness.)

In the course of our employment, we all often have to do things we would prefer not to do in our personal lives. It’s called a job. But Catholic doctors who have a moral objection to abortions don’t do them. Orthodox Jews don’t work in jobs where they have to operate machinery on the Sabbath, or work at all on the Sabbath. The new Muslim immigrants to this country had better start learning this kind of tolerance.

And we had better start requiring it of them in no uncertain terms. Otherwise, we’ll end up as Prophet-whipped as Holland and Denmark and the rest of Western Europe, who ignored the warning signs and let Islam come in and have its way with millennia of social culture.
These Islamic immigrants have no interest in getting into the American melting pot with the rest of us and all our own great traditions. No, they want all the benefits of the West, on their primitive and long-outdated terms, and they want the rest of us to roll over for them. Well, they can’t have it.

I don’t see this as just a little stupid thing, I feel strongly and with great foreboding that it's the thin edge of the wedge. And I don't give a rat’s ass how racist I’m sounding here: I truly believe that this kind of thing is very divisive and very dangerous, and those who commit it mustn’t be coddled or indulged. If we don’t put our foot down (across their necks if need be), we’ll all be ending up in a very different sort of pot indeed.

Pure as a Shriven Ho

I saw a news story on this rather alarming phenomenon the other night, and was sufficiently troubled and squicked out to bring it to your attention.

I speak of Purity Proms (or Purity Balls, which calling them that is, in my opinion, just asking for trouble…).

These are events, apparently occurring chiefly in the hinterlands or benighted red-state metropoli, that involve young girls getting dolled up like hookers in what passes for prom finery these days, donning tinsel crowns and being escorted by their fathers to a full-on wedding-reception-level event.

Where they take a vow to their date, their FATHER, to stay “pure” until marriage. Can you say “Electra complex”, boys and girls? How about “Agamemnon”?

I don’t know about you, but this reeeeeally makes my skin crawl. My own father and I never EVER discussed such things, because we would both have burst blood vessels and died on the spot of mortal embarrassment. In fact, even my mother and I didn’t actually ever talk about sex. When I turned 11 or 12, I was hastily, and with no further elaboration, handed a little booklet published by Modess, the big-name sanitary-napkin maker of the day, that purported to Explain It All to me.

Uh-HUH. So well and so tastefully did it explain things that for about three years thereafter I was of the unshakable belief that one had to go into a hospital to have sex—mental images of anesthetized people lying side by side on gurneys being clinically and briskly fitted together by medical personnel. (Which actually may be some people’s idea of sex, now I think of it.)
Oh, and you had to be married, of course, to do this. And the word “sex” was never used. I’ve blocked out what they did call it, apparently.
(I swear I’m not making this up…I only learned otherwise when I sneaked a read of one of the modern novels my mom hid in the bottom drawer of the bureau. “Peyton Place,” maybe, or “Ten North Frederick.” What a surprise.)

Times, thankfully, have changed. But maybe not so much as we like to think, considering these “purity” parties.

One clearly brain-damaged male parent actually blustered that if his daughters had premarital sex, they’d be damaged goods, and how could he possibly give them away to another man with a clear conscience, so he was glad they’d promised him to stay virginal (though that word was never used in any form).

Dear Goddess! Testosterone poisoning much? IDIOT much??? And what about asking his SONS to stay pure and not go out busting virgins (and then complaining that they can't find any virgins to marry)? Aren't they damaged goods too?

First off, how many girls did HE get it on with before he married (he admits he did, so there it is)? Did he feel no guilt or compunction at “damaging” “goods” that would later be handed off to some other guy? ’Course he didn’t!

Moreover, his daughters are not slaves or pieces of property to be “given” to someone. A woman gives herself, in sex, love or marriage. True, most of us hope she doesn’t do the sex thing until she’s an adult in a loving relationship and knows what it means, married or not, and that she’s not caving to peer pressure and doing it joylessly when she’s 13 because some pimply over-hormonal young hound pushes her into it. (Studies of sexually active early-teen-age girls indicate that they are almost without exception nonorgasmic, because they don’t know what to expect or do or demand and they’re just not ready for real sexual participation. And thanks to idiot parents and school districts and Republicans, they probably haven’t had any kind of sex education to help them out.)

And what double-standard crap is this about “damaged goods” anyway? Are MEN with premarital sexual experience “damaged goods”? No. They’re “sexual partners who know what they’re about and aren’t clueless fumbling selfish idiots”. Haven’t we finally gotten past the virgin/whore thing? Knock it off!

Also, 90% of the girls who make such pledges break them. NINETY PERCENT.

And 100% of them are never given any sound advice on sexual matters. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Abstinence is presented as the only possible way to go. And abstinence is no bad thing, on many levels and in many situations. It just shouldn’t be presented as the only thing.
Because when it is, you know these kids’re just gonna go find out about sex the worst way possible: and not from a little Modess brochure or racy novel, either. No, they’ll go to their skeevy friends, or to the Internet, or just wing it.

And they’ll end up with STDs and babies at 15 and their lives in ruins. Because, in the name of some spurious and antiquated concept of “purity,” their parents utterly, horribly, failed to protect them from the real dangers of sexual ignorance.

And the only ones these girls should be making promises to are themselves.


In an unrelated incident, two girls in Westchester County NY were suspended the other day for saying the word “vagina” while reading a school-sponsored presentation of “The Vagina Monologues,” in defiance of the principal, who had ordered them not to say that, you know, v-word.
Eve Ensler, the author of the play, promptly lauded the girls for their behavior. The school authorities, backpedaling so fast you couldn’t see their feet move, equally promptly claimed the girls were punished for “disobeying” the order they’d been given not to say the word, not for saying the word itself. Huh??

It’s more like prior restraint than censorship, anyway. And we authors don’t take kindly to that…

Maybe we should all take our cue from glorious Dr. Bailey on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and from now on just call it “va-jay-jay.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Going Strat to Hell

I see where the circus has come to town again. Or rather, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, kissing its own ass last night at the Waldorf-Astoria with every appearance of enjoyment.

I’m not sure rock & roll should really even have a Hall of Fame. For one thing, it’s totally counter to everything rock is all about. For another, it’s not exactly a model of purity and disinterest and excellent choices. For yet another, it’s just wrong.
I’m by no means the only old rocker who feels so: I believe it was the ineffable Iggy Pop formerly Iggy Stooge né James Osterberg who said that anything calling itself a rock Hall of Fame needed someone to lob a brick through its fancypants windows. And he’s quite correct to say so.

As for this particular intake: I was very pleased to see Patti Smith inducted, but very cross indeed that her wonderful band, including my old friend Lenny Kaye, was not inducted with her (though they did join her onstage last night to play). What, did they think she plays all those instruments herself? The name is the Patti Smith GROUP, after all. Eejits.

Not to mention how the eejits continually deny admittance to people like the Hollies, Connie Francis, Jeff Beck, the Moody Blues, the Searchers, Chubby Checker, Dick Dale, Linda Ronstadt, the Monkees (yes! Great Goffin-King songs, and they did learn to play in the end) and the Turtles. While allowing in the likes of Grandmaster Flash. Oh please. He not only doesn’t play rock, he doesn’t even play music. (More on my implacable hatred of rap at a future date.)

But the Hall has a long history of unaccountable (or perhaps very accountable, if you count all those drugs all its voters probably did back in the day) idiocy.
When the Doors were inducted, the year after my book “Strange Days” was published, not only did I never entertain the smallest teensiest micro-hope ever, of course, of being asked to accept for Jim (his sister Anne did that, which was fine), but I wasn’t even invited just to be there.
And I’m told that Eddie Vedder did a fine workmanlike and unimitative job on Jim’s vocals.
But being the kind of person that I am, I did, however, send a dozen roses of congratulation to the three Doors.
From me and Jim—being the kind of person that I am.

And, still being the kind of person that I am, I also wrote the then-curator of the Hall a joyfully sulphurous letter, expressing not only my displeasure but meanly and specifically detailing all the Morrison goodies the Hall wasn’t ever, ever going to get because of its insult:
Handwritten poems, none of them part of the published canon, and some of them Very Hot Stuff indeed (well, sure, ’cause he wrote them for ME! One British journalist allowed to see a few used the words “jaw-droppingly erotic” in the full-page story she subsequently wrote about the poems. Most gratifying.).
His drawings of me nude, of us together—some in a classical portraiture style, some charmingly Picassoesque.
Unpublished songs (including extra lyrics we collaboratively wrote for “People Are Strange”).
Our wedding rings.
My copies of his privately published books.
A complete Jazz & Pop magazine archive.
Buncha other stuff.
(Which, by the way, is ALL safe and sound and secure in the vault at the bank. Especially the Jim stuff.)

And it's cool stuff. And they're NOT getting it.

I still haven’t decided what to ultimately do with the stash. I might lend or give the things to some other museum, maybe that one in Seattle that that Microsoft guy established (Seattle being much cooler than Cleveland, and in spite of the museum’s nauseating Gehry architecture, which I detest), or to UCLA or my own alma maters.
My natural selfish inclination is to destroy it all, especially the very personal items (MINE! Jim gave ME! Not you!), though I’ll probably give Jim’s brother, Andy, a couple of things, and let my nieces and nephew and friends keep most of the rest. It’s all mine anyway, at least by Jim’s gift, though some vile scumbags dispute the provenance or even existence. In which case they don’t deserve to see it, much less have it.

I can’t publish the poems and songs and drawings in any case: thank you SO much, Sonny Bono, for bending over for Disney and pushing through a copyright law that extends the term after death from 50 to 70 years.
Fifty years I thought I had a hope of seeing. But now this absolutely amazing stuff will probably have to go unseen by the public, and this side of Jim be unknown forever.
(One small star of hope: a few lines Jim sent with some of the poems saying that whatever I might care to someday do with them, it was okay with him. Which a generous court just might construe as the “gift of copyright.” Despite the fact that all these things were pure gifts to me anyway. Whatevah.)

But I digress. What really got this rant started is something I read on the Web about all the non-performers who’ve been kept out of the Hall, not just performers. The original much-ballyhooed idea was to have several influential offstage music-biz people—record execs, producers, journalists, photographers, album-art creators, et al.—inducted each year along with the musicians. A fine agenda, though in hindsight perhaps a disingenuous one.

Because this hasn’t really happened. The total number of non-performer inductees? Fewer than 40, in the whole lifespan of the Hall. Including Lifetime Achievement winners. And now the number of non-performers allowed each year is apparently officially down to a big old generous ONE. In all categories.

Oh, Ahmet Ertegun, Phil Spector, Mo Ostin, Clive Davis, songwriting team Gerry Goffin and Carole King, promoter Frank Barsalona, editor/publisher Jann Wenner (who’s been in bed, er, involved with the Hall from the first, as cofounder/vice-chairman and a member of the board of directors)—they and others of such stature have been allowed in, and quite correctly.

But Brian Epstein, discoverer and manager of the Beatles? No. Derek Taylor, publicist extraordinaire? No. Linda Eastman and Jim Marshall and Baron Wolman, the greatest photographers of the dawn years of rock? No. Jon Landau? No. Lester Bangs? Nope. Ralph J. Gleason or Robert Hilburn or Richard Goldstein or R. Meltzer or Greil Marcus—critics who did every bit as much for rock, in its early days, as any performer? Nuh-uh.

And, well, little old rocknroll me, perhaps? Don’t be silly! Though I can surely be forgiven for thinking there’s at least a slightly more than infinitesimal case for consideration, me being one of the Founding Mothers of Rock Criticism, first female editor-in-chief of a national and well-respected magazine, and not a bad writer/critic as well, if I do say so myself. And so few women being around at all back then. Women who weren’t groupies, anyway.
(If I’m not mistaken, I was the only woman in an e-in-c gig at a major pub; there were other woman editors around, but they were associate or contributing editor at the Village Voice, managing editor at Creem, like that; not editors in chief. And of course there was my publisher, Pauline Rivelli, founder of the mag as Jazz back in 1962 and having the smarts to change it to Jazz & Pop in 1967. No other woman publishers in rock at the time.)

Though as MDF Steve, a future possible eligible candidate himself, points out, if rock journalists were to be included, as per the Hall’s own original premise, there might be a very real temptation by such writers to suck up to the Hall in hopes of being invited, as well as a very real risk of being punished with exclusion for daring to criticize the Hall and all its works and pomps. Either way, n.g.
Still, sportswriters are inducted into various sports Halls of Fame all the time. Drama critics have been honored with special Tonys, Broadway theaters have even been named for them. I’m just sayin’…

So I won’t be buying a ballgown for my RRHoF induction any time soon. It’s still a boy’s club, just as it was forty years ago.

And they still won’t be getting Jim’s stuff.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Trans Fatsual

Shed a tear for food and raise an angry burger-clutching fist against stupidity. The FDA, with all the ham-handedness we have come to expect from it, has declared that naturally occurring trans fats, the good kind that makes butter and meats and baked goods and stuff taste so yummy, is not to be allowed in food that claims itself to be artificially trans fat-free. Huh.

What that actually means is that natural wonderful butter must now be jettisoned in favor of nasty artificial and possibly dangerous palm oils and trans margarines to be allowed to infest prepared foods.
This makes NO sense. The FDA could easily have constructed the labeling laws to allow for the minuscule amounts of natural trans fats that go into these things to mke them taste so good.
But noooooooo. Because they’re blockheads. Or headcheese. Or just jerky.

It gets worse. In New York City, this now could be interpreted to mean that food with even naturally occurring trans fats is against the recently enacted city law that ALL trans fats are strictly verboten, everywhere, in anything.

What might this mean for the gorgeous and now apparently illegal beef and ham and pork that I am accustomed to buy at my beloved East Village Ukrainian and Polish butchers? All of which contain naturally occurring trans fats and are therefore now in the eyes of the NYC penal code unspeakable and illicit instruments of fatty doom.

I have no idea. But it looks like Prohibition to me, and we all saw how well that worked out…

Will we henceforth be directed in furtive (or frankfurterive) whispers to secret meat speakeasies, where a special knock and a well-connected password (“Zbigniew sent me!”) will allow us to score interdicted ham off the bone or sub rosa soppressata?

Will there be skanky-looking (but well-nourished!) overcoated dealers hanging out in Tompkins Square Park (“Hey, hey, check it out, check it out, got your kielbasy here, primo cut, no fake trans fat!”), or that one can call and arrange for a private buy, just as one once did for pot or coke or acid (“Gimme a lid of real butter, thousand grams of ground beef, couple dozen tabs of bacon. And make sure it’s all got a good natural fat count!”)? Old times, old times.

Pray to the Fat Angel for our deliverance from the demons of over-zealous governmental meddlers! I’m off now to my butchers to stock up while I still can.
FDA, New York City Council, may you choke on your trans fat-free croissants, and may you die unHeimliched.

Freakin’ food police. Now you can’t even call them “pigs.”

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Scooter Malfoy and the Death Eaters of the Beltway

Poor, poooooor Lewis Libby! Convicted like the common lying ratbag felon he is, as declared by a jury of his peers.

Thank all gods they weren’t his actual peers, actually. Those jurors are all far, far above him in such attributes as honor, honesty, integrity, uprightness and so many other inconvenient unfashionable non-Washington things.

He wasn’t fit to sit in the same courtroom with them. Or with anyone else outside the fences of Mordor, er, Washington D.C.

But my heartfelt cry is, When oh when will his dark masters Sauron and Voldemort be likewise brought to justice? When will the Jedi and the Order of the Phoenix join forces against Darth Cheney and Darth Rove and melt them into green slime? When will some brave and law-loving hobbit cast them both summarily and forever into the blazing Cracks of Doom? When will that bright shining day finally be upon us?

This conviction is not NEARLY enough (and of course there will be a freakin’ appeal). I want more!

I want to see the tide of just and deserved wrath inexorably rise to engulf RoboRove and then move on to cover Dick-in-Chief like a tsunami of Drano!
I want searing brilliant justice to enfold them both in the Burning Burrito Wrap of Righteous Punishment!
I want the terrible swift sword of divine retribution to do a Benihana on their sorry asses!
They can’t be purified, they’re too far gone into the Dark Side for that; but they can at least be isolated so that their contagion does not infect any more souls, and they can at last be made to pay.

I love it. It’s as if Chimpy McFlightsuit, unelected president of the United States, is finally, FINALLY being righteously Montresor’ed up behind the bricks of his own richly deserved fate and earned karma. With more bricks fabricated of lies, lies, lies and damn lies falling on his empty, eggshell-like head.

I lift a glass of Amontillado in toast to you, o noble jurors! It’s a start. For the love of God, indeed.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Television Without Pity, Pitilessly

When I first discovered the glorious website Television Without Pity (TWOP, as it shall be known hereafter), I was thrilled and delighted and just tickled pink. Wow, I thought as I perused its recaps of shows I liked and disliked and its many forums commenting on them, loads of funny, smart, literate, well-informed people taking no prisoners with regard to even well-thought-of TV shows! How amazing! How utterly enjoyable! The snarkdom! The cleverness! The wonderful insights!

I promptly became addicted. And then I began to post. Many times. Receiving many nice responses to my posts by other posters, and leaving them the same. Huge fun.

Then I came afoul, as loads of people apparently do, of the draconian posting rules put forward by the smug TV Nazis who run the place.

My first heinous offense got me banned outright under the name I had been using at the time. I had emailed one of the mods (and also protested in the forum of the offending show, I forget which one) about why is pejoratively using “witch” allowed when equally offensive terms are not. I pointed out, not unreasonably, that this is a bona-fide religious slur and I was both surprised and offended to see it on such a board as TWOP. One of the fascisti took offense at my offense and I was bounced.

(This despite the fact that at an Amazing Race convention here in NYC I had gifted the Race recapper on TWOP—a Buddha-shaped individual who goes by the name Miss Alli and is both amusing and a good writer—with an autographed copy of “Strange Days,” as it had been privately indicated to me by a TWOPper of rank that she was a fan and would really appreciate it. Yeah, right. Not even a thank-you.)

Not one to let a mere unreasonable banning stop me, I immediately reupped under another name, and all was well for quite a while. I achieved a high ranking in posts submitted, continued to enjoy myself prodigiously, and then once more I fell from grace.

My next sin against the TWOPmods was going on once too often about liking a prop that appeared in one of my shows. Again, despite the fact that others were going on for PAGES AND PAGES about some equally insignificant item on the same show. One can only hope that they were lashed with the same wet noodle by the mod in question.
But I wouldn’t count on it. It’s a cliquey little world, the TWOPverse, and there are court favorites and spaniels all over the place. Anyway, I got a warning this time, which was later removed after a couple hundred more posts, presumably for my having shown such good reformed behavior and toeing the TWOP line, humbly redeeming myself to the satisfaction of the fascisti.

But now it’s three strikes: I asked a question on another show’s forum, having duly read all the pages of posts (as commanded to by another of their rules, and as was my pleasure to, since the posters are magnificent), and was promptly given a warning and a bitchy chiding that I would know the answer to my question if only I had read all the posts as I was supposed to. Well, I did, and apparently I missed it. Mea culpa.

So that’s it. I’m gone. I’m banishing myself this time. Tiresome, really, since I truly enjoy the site, and I may still look in on occasion—though I won’t be posting anymore, all the fun’s gone out of it for me.
I really do understand that order must be maintained, and the site is quite remarkably flame-free and focused, for which I was duly grateful. But picayune stuff the likes of which I was “guilty” of really doesn’t deserve to be, and shouldn’t be, so harshly punished.

Of course, it’s their playground and their rules. Still, I have no love for bullies and no time for crap like this, and I’m thoroughly sick of the arbitrary, unreasonable, petty tyrannies perpetrated by the self-important power-trippers who run the place—you’re mods, not gods!—people thinking they're oh so cool handing out demerits to grown adults and preening themselves like Slytherins (and pimping their custom T-shirt line all the while), people for whom this is the only bit of real power they are ever likely to enjoy.

TWOP? More like TWERPS.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

'Steemed Up

I see where the cult of self-esteem once again is rearing its ugly and unentitled head in the land. Yes, out of the untended grasses of misguided education it rises, and what’s in that grass isn’t splendor, oh no it isn’t!

Recent reports are finally indicating that, after all, telling kids for years how very SPECIAL and WONDERFUL they are with no justification at ALL has proved to be a very specially and wonderfully bad idea indeed. Which is more like how the real world works, of course, and finally these minibrained multidegreed morons are coming to realize it.

You know how it goes: Oooooh, your parents and teachers and paid sycophants (shrinks/gurus/etc.) tell you, you’re exceptional and terrific and special, there are no winners or losers, just feel good about yourself and all good things will fall into your lap like a rain of roses. Without your lifting a finger to make it happen. Whether you deserve it or not. Just because you want it. Yeesh.

This cult of stroke ran roughshod for a while, then mercifully died the death. Now, like, well, like anything you thought you got rid of that comes creeping stealthily back (Make up your own metaphor, you lazy sod! You’re not special, so why should I do all the work for you?), it’s once more with us, except that people are actually putting their hands up and saying the Emperor of Self-Esteem has no clothes. FINALLY!

In Britain a few years back, some schools actually wanted to erase “Failure” grades off report cards, preferring instead to inculcate the concept of “deferred success.” The idea being to spare the self-esteem and coddle the feelings of struggling or indifferent students.

Mother of poodles! Can so-called “educators” actually be that STUPID? Just how the hell does this help anybody in the long run? The Lumpen-learners leave school sooner or later, and they get tossed out of their cozy coddling cotton-wool wrap. And then they’re gonna get socked between the eyes by a real world that thinks “deferred success” is precisely the right thing for such losers, and will happily defer it from them for the rest of their freakin’ lives.

Listen up, you little tribbles: In the real world, there are winners and losers. Life is unfair. Just because you want it, you have no guarantee of getting it and the odds are that you probably won’t. At least not the way you’re wanting it.
People aren’t going to love you or hire you just because you’re you. You’re going to have to WORK for what you want, and you’re going to be judged. Harshly, but almost certainly correctly.
And even if you work yourself sick and tired you STILL might not get it.

You have to EARN success. You have to EARN self-respect. THEN you get to have self-esteem coming out your ears. But not till then.

You have to know how to lose. You have to learn how to start from nothing, with nothing. You have to learn that in the eyes of creation, or even the modern workplace, you are pretty much no big deal. In fact, most of you are a dime a dozen, and that’s pretty much what your starting salary will be too. You are not going to graduate from college and step into a job paying $100,000 right out of the box (well, maybe if you’re a lawyer or business or IT person, hence the grandiose expectations for everyone else, but otherwise nuh-uh) and get an apartment for $300 per month and be named to the Supreme Court and win an Oscar.

Sure, miracles happen. But mostly for those who earn them. Who take the chances. Who have the imagination to ask and the talent to back the asking up. Miracles aren’t for the artificially esteemed.

So we get a generation of spoiled little brats who can't take criticism because they're just too delicate and special and nobody's ever dared to criticize them in all their coddled lilttle lives. And the first time they do encounter criticism they either fold like wilting violets or burst into infantile tears or smugly declare "That's just your opinion."
'Scuse me? It's my OPINION that you can't write an English sentence to save your life, that you don't have an idea worth expressing, that you're a sloppy and slovenly worker? I don't think so!

If your expectations were unnaturally raised to stratospheric heights by your idiot teachers and parents, too bad. They were wrong, and they did you a major and perhaps lifelong disservice by inflating you as full of unearned self-esteem as a little cream-crammed doughnut.
Because odds are you’re NOT all that special, even if you’re talented, and the world is going to let you know it by flattening your little doughnut self until all that cream squooshes out and leaves you lying there stunned and rather like a pancake.
And then, and only then, can you start making something of yourself.

Still want to feel good about yourself? (And who among us doesn’t?) Well, try doing the work. First. Before you start expecting the praise and the pats on the back. Make yourself a real person, someone with a personality and talents and accomplishments. Don’t just sit back on your lazy behind and expect the world to come knocking on your door, because the world has better things to do.

One of the two best pieces of advice I ever got was “You make your own limitations.” And I was told that early enough in my life for it to not only sink in but become part of the operating manual. I have long since forgotten what the limitations were that I was being urged not to make, but I never forgot not to make them.

Oh, and the other best piece of advice? If life gives you lemons, make lemonade out of a few if you’re really thirsty, sure, but the rest of them? Squirt them in your enemies’ eyes!

(Thanks to my sister, Regina, who suggested the topic for this rant. If you think I’m cranky, wait’ll you meet her…)

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Chocolate Soldiers

Swiss Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein.

According to Swiss daily Blick, the 170 infantry soldiers wandered just over a mile across an unmarked border into the tiny principality early Thursday before realizing their mistake and turning back.

A spokesman for the Swiss army confirmed the story but said that there were unlikely to be any serious repercussions for the mistaken invasion.

''We've spoken to the authorities in Liechtenstein and it's not a problem,'' Daniel Reist told The Associated Press.

Officials in Liechtenstein also played down the incident.

Interior ministry spokesman Markus Amman said nobody in Liechtenstein had even noticed the soldiers, who were carrying assault rifles but no ammunition. ''It's not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something,'' he said.

Liechtenstein, which has about 34,000 inhabitants and is slightly smaller than Washington DC, doesn't have an army.

Are we SURE they don't have an army? Those Swiss are armed to the teeth...could be the thin edge of the wedge. Look how it went down with Poland and the Sudetenland...

Dappy Hirthbay!

To ME! Yesterday, my 61st. Went out to my mom’s and had a lovely quiet time with her and my sister and calls from my youngest brother and his son and daughter and my brilliant mad-scientist niece. Calls and emails from friends when I got home.

Icebox-cake birthday cake, and meatballs and penne, and I made pigs in blankets and wouldn’t share. All good.

Jim gave me a necklace (he always knows just what to get me, amazing) and I haven't decided yet on what I'm going to give myself. Something sparkly, of course.

And a birthday gift (part of it, anyway) from long ago:

Her breasts are grails achieved
Her skin burns white as snow
Her hair pours down her back
like ruby water

Thank you, honey!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Oscar Post-game

I didn’t go to MDFs Mary and Steve’s Oscar party in LA this year because I was down with a bad, bad head and chest cold and it had got all into my inner ear and as a result I was walking like Jack Sparrow. (Captain. CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow.) So a plane ride was right out.

Therefore I watched the awards from bed, with heaps of pillows and a fleece blankie and a patchwork shearling coverlet and Vicks Vapo-rub (I am addicted to that stuff, the camphor/eucalyptus makes me feel so comfy and six years old again) and ice cream and chicken soup and all the rest of the accouterments of bed rest.

Not so impressed, really. Of the nominated movies, I had seen only “The Queen”, which was amazing and Dame Helen so deserved to win. There were no really great gowns. There were no really awful gowns. There was absolutely no good jewelry, which lack I most bemoaned.

I was glad to see Marty Scorsese win, even though I hate all his movies. And it was nice to see his good pals Francis and George and Steven up there. Almost as if they knew….hmmm.

I did, however, think it was the most boresome, snoozeful, excruciating slooooooow-paced show in recent memory. No big awards till the end. Stupid opening. Stupid montages. And Ellen De Generes, who is by no means stupid, but she is guilty of that TV-person-hosting-the-Oscars sensibility. It’s not your show, Ellen! (Any more than it was Letterman’s, when he hosted…) She made it small and unfocused and cutesy and just plain dull. And I was so looking forward to something fun to take my mind off my respiratory troubles.

Ah well. Next year.

Gravity's Rainbow

Dr. Stephen Hawking, smartest man on the planet, has announced plans to leave it for a little while. He’s passed his life in a wheelchair pondering the universe and the nature of gravity, and now he’s going to get to go out into it a little and leave gravity behind.

On April 26, Dr. Hawking, accompanied by a team of medics, will take one of those zero-grav planes and get to experience weightlessness. Hawking also announced that he plans to venture even farther: a 2009 flight on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space plane, which will take six passengers up and out to a 70-mile altitude.

“I want to show,” he said in an e-mail interview, “that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”

What a man.

PS MDF Michael Rosenthal informs me that Hawking's first wife left him because he cheated on her with his nurse, whom he subsequently wedded. I say again, what a man. (In all possible intonations and intimations of that phrase.)