Archive for the ‘current events’ Category

TBoH on Facebook


Just when I finally figured out how to create a Facebook Page for this blog, folks are up in arms, quitting the site and criticizing its privacy policies. I can’t say that I haven’t considered it myself. But I’ve decided to respond by adjusting my settings, removing tags and captions, and deleting unnecessary profile information. So I’m still in it for now. If you are too and would like to stay in touch, please “like” our page.

The Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need

While I was working on last week’s post about my financial woes, I had the pleasure of reading to my daughter, for the first time, Dr. Seuss’s book The Lorax. It was always one of my favorite books as a child and its message of conservation and love for all living things has stayed with me. Those trees! Those Truffula Trees!

But this time around, it is the Once-ler who holds my attention. I’ve returned again and again to his pernicious greed, symbolized by two scruffy, disembodied arms, and made worse by the product of his evil deeds – the Thneed, that flimsy, pajama-looking piece of junk that promised to be a “Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need.” Since then I haven’t been able to shake the Once-ler’s ridiculous slogan: “You need a thneed!” In the grocery aisle, in the department store, on the television, we are surrounded by Thneeds and unseen Once-lers who insist “You poor stupid guy! You never can tell what some people will buy.”

Not surprisingly, the term “Thneed” has been acquired new life outside Dr. Seuss’s book. People knit them and share tips on how you can too. Products refer to the book with eco-friendly gestures that don’t always demonstrate an similar awareness of the story’s critique of material consumption. There are iPhone apps, sneakers, and coal companies that hope to earn cultural capital by seeking the Lorax’s approval. Some of the more hilarious iterations of the Thneed have been MC Hammer Pants, the ubiquitous Snuggie, and whatever this is.

Now, even the Once-ler resolved to change his “biggering” ways, so it doesn’t do me any good to judge these folks. There’s a lesson here and I can’t say that I’ve completely learned it yet, surrounded as I am by Thneeds of all shapes and sizes. But I do appreciate Dr. Seuss for the masterful clarity of his off-beat wisdom. “If you can see things out of whack,” he once said, “then you can see how things can be in whack.”

And so, like the last Truffula seed, I leave you with this: a Grindhouse film parody of The Lorax, He Speaks for the Trees!

Haiti Earthquake Relief

Konbit's Class of 2009-2010

We would like to express our deep sadness and sympathy for the people of Haiti after this week’s terrible earthquake. Like many of you, we have been desperately searching for the best way to help. Frieda has several associates who are working directly with Konbit Pou Edikasyon, an educational non-profit that is on the ground right now, assisting children and families in Haiti. (Their name is Haitian Creole for “coming together for education.”) 100% of all donations go directly to emergency relief disaster efforts. Online donations are processed safely through PayPal. Please give if you are able.

With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day nearing, a friend reminded me of his saying, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” But it is the portion of the quote that follows this oft-repeated line that caught my attention this time around:

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

I’m sure that even the smallest donation to KPE, or to other reputable organizations like Doctors Without Borders or The Salvation Army will be a big help.

(This post was originally going to be the first Bayou open-thread discussion. I’ll put that up this weekend.)

A Holiday Wish: “You Cannot Step Twice Into the Same River”

One of the most cherished memories that Frieda and I shared as kids was of my grandmother’s beautiful white Christmas tree, adorned with silver and crystal ornaments and small diamond-shaped mirrors that tinkled like chimes when you walked nearby. No one else we knew had a tree so brilliant. Visitors to the house oohed and aahed, leaning in close to see their reflection in the mirrored branches. We were always very proud.

Today her precious tree, so fragile and so deeply loved, is collecting dust in a box somewhere in a garage. A few days ago I panicked realizing this. Both of my grandparents are gone now and the tree is not being used. It all feels very wrong. I miss those holidays, the silliness and drama of my extended family and the unexpected joys of being together. I had thought that these traditions would last, but now we are all scattered about and every conversation seems to begin with an apology: So sorry we can’t make it this year… Sorry I couldn’t afford a gift… Sorry I forgot to get my card in the mail…

But instead of feeling low or shedding any more tears, I am using this time to reflect on the realities of impermanence. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, as paraphrased: “You cannot step twice into the same river; for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you.” I won’t be able to see my grandmother’s white Christmas tree this year and, even if I could get my hands on those dusty boxes of ornaments, there is no way to relive the past. With each breath, though, I am already creating new memories with a wonderful husband, an amazing daughter, and of course, a special new tree.  I want to be thankful for all that we have – even when what we have is the occasional nostalgia for the way things used to be – without hoarding and clinging to things that can’t last. As another great thinker wrote, “The only lasting truth is Change.” Being mindful of this truth compels me to stop and observe with deep appreciation the world around me right now. I don’t want to miss it!

Here’s wishing you a joyful holiday season filled with peace, compassion, and fresh waters of love ever flowing in upon you.

August 29, 2005

World renowned Graffiti artist, Banksy, makes his mark on a New Orleans levee.

They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God. – Zora Neale Hurston

Lost & Found: The Gates Keepers

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By now we can all agree that there is only so much wisdom that can be gleaned from a sound bite, a blurry photo, or a 911 phone call. Teachable Moment. Stupidly. Beer Summit. I’ll see your mama outside!

My own emotional response to the controversy surrounding the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has run the gamut from shock and snarky suspicion to self-righteousness and aggressive indifference. Along the way, though, I have marveled at the surprisingly nuanced social and political commentary that has emerged – not from cable news pundits – but through essays that cite useful anecdotes, acknowledge the unspoken forces at work, and compel us to ask hard questions. In linking these articles here, I take to heart the challenge posed by Lani Guinier: “What might we learn instead about contemporary race matters if we could move beyond the stock stories?”

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New Orleans For Sale?

“If y’all keep paying your money to see it,
should we rebuild it?”

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Please take a moment to view this public service announcement that was produced by a local New Orleans production company, 2-Cent Entertainment. It really gave me pause.

Shortly after Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005, you could ride through the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans on virtually any street and see cars moving slowly throughout the flooded and ravaged neighborhood.  If you looked closely at the cars, you would see camera lenses protruding from passenger and backseat windows.  Everyone living in the city before the hurricanes knew that New Orleans was a virtual “fishbowl” before the storm.  Only now, the residents and their suffering, were now encased in that thick glass bowl, filled with water. The world moved slowly around them, watching and capturing footage of their misery.  Many of the visitors were from out of town. Most had never heard of the Lower 9th prior to the storm.

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