Friday, August 28, 2009

A Couple of Anniversaries

Last weekend we went down to Sarasota to celebrate our anniversary.
29 years.

I used Amex points to get a free hotel room at the Hyatt which was recently renovated and really nice. Here's the best part. I chose to try out their self check in system that was available in the lobby, which was very simple, and they were so pleased that I did that they upgraded us to a room with a view, and a balcony. That's the pool from our very nice room.

We had a nice afternoon walking around the town, did some shopping, spent as much as I could at Sarasota News and Books, but I couldn't save it, it's closing August 31st. I also got a fantastic new pan at Sur La Table, nice store and I love my pan which is "green" and non stick without any toxicity, a serious problem with non stick pans, especially for those of us who have birds in the house. Very happy with my purchase which I have been cooking with all week!

After enjoying the pool for a while, which has great strong waterfalls you can float under on your stomach while they give you a nice back massage, and a really good hot tub with a hot waterfall too, we went back into town. Sarasota is looking run down lately, lots of closed stores but still lots of nice art in the streets.

Jesse's friend Jen Berges recommended Mozaic for dinner and it was fantastic. Really nice decor and all, great flights of wine, and we got extra nice treatment when Mark mentioned it was our anniversary, including free fancy dessert.

Then on to the theater where we saw Neil LaBute's Fat Pig. Good play and Banyan Tree did a great job.
The next morning we enjoyed the pool again, then went to brunch on the balcony at Cafe Galante before doing a bit more shopping and then heading home.

The weekend before that was the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. WMNF did a Woodstock recreation at Skippers. It ran about 10 hours but we only went for about three. It was crowded and there were no seats available so we danced the whole time.
Local bands covered each band that played at Woodstock and they were amazingly great. In fact, I think I heard more of the music than I did at the original Woodstock. I actually have very little memory of Woodstock, though I know I was there. I remember walking a long way when the bus got stuck in the ridiculous traffic. And I remember the mud, and being hungry, and someone giving out hardboiled eggs. The music? Not so much. I enjoyed it this time around.
Big Wiggler did a good job as Jefferson Airplane with a great surprise, Marty Balin was actually there, singing lead, channeling Grace Slick!

Sly and the Family Stone as portrayed by Four Star Riot, rocked, above.
And below, Scott Elliott as Joe Cocker was truly amazing.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bill Maher On Target Again

How can there be so many truly ignorant people in this country?

From the July 31st Real Time with Bill Maher HBO show:

Never underestimate the ability of a tiny fringe group of losers to ruin everything. Now, for the past couple of weeks, we've all been laughing heartily at the wacky antics of the Birthers, the far-right goofballs who claim Obama wasn't really born in Hawaii, and therefore the job of president goes to the runner-up, Miss California, Carrie Prejean.

And, you know, there's nothing you can do to convince these people. You could hand them, in person, the original birth certificate, with the placenta--and have a video of Obama emerging from the womb with Don Ho singing in the background--and they still would not believe it.

Hey, Birthers, want to hear my theory? My theory is Obama was born in America, and you were born with the umbilical cord around your neck.

I don't know what his mother was doing when she was pregnant, but I'm pretty sure yours was drinking. Oh, I kid the Birthers.

And, actually, there is one thing that makes me think they could be right: we're Americans. Of course, we're going to hire an illegal alien to clean up.

I'm joking, of course. And laughing it off has also been the reaction from Democratic leaders, so far. Proving that Democrats never learn.

Because, in America, you know what? If you don't immediately kill errant bullshit, no matter how ridiculous, it can grow and thrive and eventually take over, like crabgrass or Cirque du Soleil.

This Birther stuff might be a deluded, time-wasting, right-wing obsession. But, so was Whitewater. And look where that ended up? Liberals said, "Oh, what are they going to do? Keep expanding the case until they impeach the president over a blowj*b?" Yeah. I'm telling you, in America, there is no idea so patently absurd that it can't catch on.

For example, have you ever met a Mormon?

Or, more recently, we had the Swift Boat allegations against John Kerry, making him, a genuine war hero, into a coward in a race against a guy who never left Texas. This was so stupid, Kerry refused to even discuss it. And we all know how well that worked out.

Now, you may ask, how does something as inane as Whitewater or Swift boats or the Birther thing gain traction? I'll tell you how. The same way the story about Elton John almost dying from ingesting too much of Rod Stewart's sperm gained traction in my high school. Dummies talking to other dummies.

It's just easier now because of the Internet. And because our mainstream media does such a lousy job of talking truth to stupid.

Lou Dobbs said recently that, "People are asking a lot of questions about the birth certificate." Yes, the same people who want to know where the sun goes at night. And where to put the stamp on their email.

And, Lou, you're their new king.

Which is why it is so important that we, the few, the proud, the reality-based, attack this stuff before it has a chance to fester and spread. This is not a case of Democrats versus Republicans. It's sentient beings versus the lizard people.

And on Huffington Post August 7th:

Just because a country elects a smart president doesn't make it a smart country....Before I go about demonstrating how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness dragging down our country, let me just say that ignorance has life and death consequences. On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we're presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and "listen to their constituents." An urge they should resist because their constituents don't know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to "keep your government hands off my Medicare," which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.

I'm the bad guy for saying it's a stupid country, yet polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don't know what's in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don't know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket.

Not here. Nearly half of Americans don't know that states have two senators and more than half can't name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife's name right on the first try.

Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they're not stupid. They're interplanetary mavericks. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence because it contains the words "Bush" and "knowledge."

People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes 24% of our federal budget. It's actually less than 1%. And don't even ask about cabinet members: seven in ten think Napolitano is a kind of three-flavored ice cream. And last election, a full one-third of voters forgot why they were in the booth, handed out their pants, and asked, "Do you have these in a relaxed-fit?"

And I haven't even brought up America's religious beliefs. But here's one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That's right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.

And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? Please, this country is like a college chick after two Long Island Iced Teas: we can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There's a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. "Inside the beltway" thinking may be wrong, but at least it's thinking, which is more than you can say for what's going on outside the beltway.

And if you want to call me an elitist for this, I say thank you. Yes, I want decisions made by an elite group of people who know what they're talking about. That means Obama budget director Peter Orszag, not Sarah Palin.

Which is the way our founding fathers wanted it. James Madison wrote that "pure democracy" doesn't work because "there is nothing to check... an obnoxious individual." Then, in the margins, he doodled a picture of Joe the Plumber.

Until we admit there are things we don't know, we can't even start asking the questions to find out. Until we admit that America can make a mistake, we can't stop the next one. A smart guy named Chesterton once said: "My country, right or wrong is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying... It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.'" To which most Americans would respond: "Are you calling my mother a drunk?"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Avett Brothers

OK, this was last spring at SXSW in Austin, not last night at the Cuban Club in Ybor City, but we loved this song. And even though the album it will be on won't be out for another couple of months, because we all listen to WMNF we all were able to sing along, and the Bros. loved us back.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why I Want To Live in NY (Bklyn) Again -- another in the series

I mean truly great pizza, not what passes for pizza in other places (except for Italy).
Pizza worthy of interaction.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Marley!

It's not just our country's birthday today, it's also Marley's, which is special not just because it's Independence Day, but also because he is our only pet whose birthday we actually know. That's right, we've got the official papers, and today he is five years old. He and Dylan both really like his new birthday bed. And later, Dogsters!

Some "Straight Talk" for Independence Day

For a few very good laughs, don't miss Gail Collins' column in the New York Times today. On this Independence Day, my hope for the country is that every voter thinks this whole debacle is as funny as I do. Though I gotta say, an Obama/Palin campaign would be pretty entertaining.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Senator Franken

Let the fun begin!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Memorializing Phyllis

We went to the memorial service for Phyllis Busansky today. Almost a thousand people showed up, including almost every important Democrat in the area and some Republicans too, including Governor Crist (ick). There were some great stories told about Phyllis, especially one by the columnist Steve Otto. (That column is not about the story he told at the service, but ask me some time and I'll tell you that one, it's the story about how Phyllis' hair inspired an invention. And then there was the one about the time she got a police escort for her daughter's interview at Brown....) There were some emotional memories, especially by one of her sons. There were people of all colors represented, because Phyllis lived to make life better for those who have least. There were tears, but probably more laughes. What I loved the most about it, though, was the music that played as we all slowly filed out, You Can Get It If You Really Want (but you must try, and try, and try, till you succeed at last) which was not only music she liked, but music that was sort of the story of her life, and the lesson she lived for others.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Democrats Are the New Republicans

Here's one of Bill Maher's New Rules from last Friday night:

"...every time Obama tries to take on a progressive cause, there's a major political party standing in his way: the Democrats. Now, people talk a lot about a third political party in America. We don't need a third party. We need a first party. You go to the polls and your choices are the guy who voted for the first Wall Street bailout, or the guy who voted for the next ten.

This year, we're hearing that a public option for health care is unlikely because it doesn't have the support of enough Democrats. Even Ted Kennedy's plan-- Ted Kennedy, yeah -- leaves 37 million uninsured. This is because we don't have a left and a right part in this country anymore. We have a center-right party and a crazy party.

And, over the last 30-odd years, Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital.

So, what we have is one perfectly good party for hedge fund managers, credit card companies, banks, defense contractors, big agriculture and the pharmaceutical lobby; that's the Democrats.

And they sit across the aisle from a small group of religious lunatics, flat-earth-ers and Civil War re-enactors who mostly communicate by AM radio and call themselves the Republicans. And who actually worry that Obama is a socialist.

Socialist? He's not even a liberal. I know he's not because he's on TV. And while I see Democrats on television, I don't see actual liberals. And if occasionally you do get to hear Ralph Nader or Noam Chomsky or Dennis Kucinich, they're treated like buffoons. Okay, these are not three of the world's most charismatic men, but then nobody is going to confuse Newt Gingrich for Zac Efron. And I have to look at his fat face on TV more often than that free credit report song.

Shouldn't there be one party that unambiguously supports cutting the military budget, a party that is straight up in favor of gun control, gay marriage, higher taxes on the rich, universal health care--legalizing pot--and steep, direct taxing of polluters? These aren't radical ideas. A majority of Americans are either already for them or would be if they were properly argued and defended.

And what we need is an actual progressive party to represent the millions of Americans who aren't being served by the Democrats. Because, bottom line, Democrats are the new Republicans."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

If You Knew Phyllis

, even just a little, like I did, you'd have been inspired by her.
Phyllis Busansky was the best kind of politician. Smart, compassionate, and truly in it to make life better for others.
She served on the county commission during the good years, when there were other Democrats and other women and they accomplished good things. She worked hard for the Democratic party and the people of this county through the bad years, when crazy right wing christians took over. She had the courage to run for Congress in my very conservative district, and she lost, but at least she ran, no other Democrat even tried.
This past November Phyllis ran again, this time for Supervisor of Elections, and to our surprise and joy, she won! And then found out what we all really knew, the Elections office was a mess, and she began to put things right.
Phyllis Busansky died unexpectedly yesterday, at a statewide meeting of Supervisors of Elections. It's a huge loss for all of us in Hillsborough County, and my hope is that those she inspired will pick up and carry on.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Farewell to a special garage door

I always loved our garage door, painted by the previous owner to reflect the trees in the landscaping right there. But sadly, the door needed replacing, it was old and had issues, and so did the opener, and it wasn't storm proof anyway. So goodbye artsy door, and welcome to a new door, not interesting, but it works very well and very quietly, and will resist hurricane force winds, qualifying us for a bit of a tax break.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Bloody Father's Day!

Daisy, Dylan, Marley, Halle, Jules & I gave Mark a set of glasses with trees etched into them so he can make beautiful drinks, and he did, right away.
Happy Father's Day; we love our tree hugger!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Daisy, the smartest dog

It's been insanely hot the past week, and feels even hotter thanks to the humidity which is so thick it actually has a presence on your skin. Too hot to be outside unless you are in the water. And Daisy has figured it out. It's too tiring for her to swim all day long, though she used to be able to do this. But there are two seats cut into the sides of the pool, and today Daisy was swimming back and forth between them, just hanging out in the water to keep cool.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Atlanta Botanical Garden

We went to the Atlanta Botanical Garden to see the Henry Moore show.
The sculptures were magnificent, the setting as well.

And being with these friends is always a pretty great experience, with or without the gorgeous gardens and art.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Trader Joe's

One of the highlights of this Atlanta visit was Mark's & my first ever visit to a Trader Joe's.
We liked it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Eddie's Attic

We drove up to Atlanta Friday, May 8th, the day after Barbara's birthday, the day before Sarah's birthday, and 5 days before mine. Soon we were back in a car, heading down to Decatur, to Eddie's Attic, a great place to eat acceptable food and hear excellent music.
We started out with dinner on the roof, joined by the Schindler kids, Sarah and Grant, and their partners, Jake and Joanna.
I was excited to see Richard Shindell arrive and unpack the car.
Eddie himself took this picture of our whole group.
It was a fun family dinner and then the younger half of the party left and the older half went inside to hear Richard. He was great, as always. Enjoyed the opening act, Meg Hutchinson, too.

On the way to Atlanta

A month ago we went up to Atlanta to celebrate birthdays, more on that later.
On the way up north we stopped in High Springs and met up with Krin and Olivia & CJ who were visiting -- they were headed for a day at the springs. It was a brief visit, and so fun to see Olivia pregnant and she and CJ so exuberant about it. She's even bigger now, of course, check her out on their website.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The New Library

In just a couple of weeks we will begin the process of moving into a brand new building, the NEW North Tampa Library.  Right now it is empty, and very grand.  And the staff are getting excited!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Our New Buddha

Dylan enjoys the statue we won at the Pesto Festo silent auction.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pesto Festo

We celebrated Pesto Festo, the annual end of the season fundraiser for Sweetwater, on May 2nd.  I hung out for a while with Kaiser and some friends by the creek.  I really enjoyed listening in as Kaiser and Chloe discussed the fact that the sounds of their names started the same way even though they had different first letters.  Early literacy skills at work!
Lorie was volunteering, she washed the greens for the salad, lots and lots and lots of fresh greens.  Then hung out with us and Judy and Billie for supper.
I participated in the first (and last?  or annual?) organic fashion show.  Here is one of my outfits; I bought the pants.
The food was great.  
So was the music.  Dance music courtesy of the Urban Gypsies, enjoyed by all, hula hoops or not.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Negrons Visit

Val and Tony came for a visit during their spring migration back north.  We had fun at Demen's Landing in St. Pete even though American Stage in the Park sucked this year.
We had a great time with Val and Tony,
and with the extremely lovable Toby.

Spring Break in Washington DC (the end)

We spent a rainy day at the
Newseum and even got to do some reporting!

We had a great time in DC, we always do.

Got to see some good theater at one of our old favorites, the Studio Theater and a new favorite, Wooly Mammoth.

Enjoyed massages and facials at a nearby yoga studio, Tranquil Space.

Spent a lot of time and, somehow, not a lot of money in a couple of great bookstores, the always fun Kramer's, and a good used bookstore, Second Story, across the street from one of our very favorite pizza places ever, Pizzeria Paradiso.

Till next visit....

Spring Break in Washington DC (part 6)

The new National Museum of the American Indian is fantastic, inside and out, (including the cafeteria).

Best of all, my mom came down from NY and her (and our) friend Sally from Baltimore, to spend the day at the museum with us.