Do You Smell It?

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My mother used to tell me about how, as a little Jewish girl in the Bronx in the 1940s, she used to have nightmares that Hitler was coming to get her and woke up crying.

Now you have to understand that my Mom was about as far away and protected from Hitler as a little girl could be, living in a Jewish enclave in New York City in a democratic country – in fact the strongest in the world – the one that was leading the fight against him. Not to mention she was the daughter of Jewish Hungarian immigrants who wisely chose to emigrate to the U.S. in the early 1930s, no doubt sensing the imminent threats in their homeland.

What a difference almost a century makes.

... or not. Dr Seuss cartoon, circa 1941.

… or not. Dr Seuss cartoon, circa 1941.

I was hoping to write about La La Land and the Oscar nominations this week. Instead, I’m lying in bed watching the news in horror. Laying? I can’t recall which one. That’s where I am at the moment. Viewing a radical racist sociopath on television who doesn’t understand that the very country he conspired with the Russians to lead runs on one simple idea:

YOU ARE WELCOME TO BECOME A PART OF A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS WHERE EVERYONE IS EQUAL AND FREE.

Sure, sometimes we don’t quite rise to our aspirations. We too often stumble around our principles in individual cases. But for the most part, this is who we actually are. Certainly, it’s who the vast majority of our elected officials are. A melting pot of cultures, religions and differences bound together under that guiding principle.

No more.

This fish rots from the head on down.

Not sure there is enough lysol for this

Not sure there is enough lysol for this

And it’s getting smellier and smellier with each passing day. As if we’re all caught in a refuse center without any vents and nary a room deodorizer in sight. There seems only one option at this point. Get rid of the racist… I mean rancid animal… by breaking the doors down, airing the whole thing out and then, when we’ve reached something approaching a new stasis – rebuilding.

If that’s at all possible.

A dear friend of mine gave me the perfect metaphor for this.

Having to deal with DJT on a daily basis is like being in an abusive relationship.

Abusers evoke feelings of powerless, depression, anger and frustration. Experts advise you to leave an abusive situation. But short of turning away from the daily horror of DJT’s actions – which in my mind is being complicit in his actions as if this were Germany in the 1930s and you partied as your country devolved into a dictatorship – this is an impossibility. This is not to say you need to focus on him 24/7. Life should and needs to go on, especially the consumption of chocolate cake, wine and other pleasures I won’t get into here. And it will make us stronger and piss him off. Especially if you include social media baiting him in the mix and subscribing to your favorite newspaper, preferably the New York Times, Washington Post or Boston Globe. Because that is who (whom? – oh, who cares) will likely/ultimately bring him down.

While back in reality, subscriptions are surging. #Watergate4EVA

While back in reality, subscriptions are surging. #Watergate4EVA

There is a movie out at the moment called Lion that is based on the true story of a very young, very poor Indian boy who gets lost, becomes a street orphan and winds up getting adopted by an Australian couple living in an appealing home by the water on the shores of Tasmania.

It’s a wonderful film for a variety of reasons – fine writing, acting, direction, visual design… Well, let’s just say they all combine to effectively tell a unique story.

Still, perhaps the most compelling moment in Lion comes at the moment the now grown up “boy’s” very WHITE, adoptive Mom explains to him why in the world she wanted to voluntarily raise and love a little BROWN kid who was not her own. I mean, clearly she had no other choices, right?

Wrong.

But no spoilers here. Watch the movie and you’ll understand why not only she does but why, at the end of the day, the world sways towards justice and inclusion — despite what we’re seeing right now at all of the nation’s major metropolitan airports (Seattle for the win below).

You can twist your words into a pretzel-like logic to explain your abusive behavior and regressive actions in the service of your master plan to discriminate against whole swaths of people based on ethnicity, religion or “otherness.”

But what you can’t ultimately do in the light of day and in the annals of history is to remove the stench from yourself. By issuing an executive order that bans innocent citizens from seven (and counting) countries from entering or re-entering the U.S. (Note: Yes, some people CAN’T get back in to their HOMES – one woman noted she doesn’t know what will happen to her DOG), DJT has officially gone from toxic waste dump to the BP Oil Spill in the eyes of the MAJORITY of the nation he theoretically seeks to guide. And it’s officially only been…one week.

We're with you lady lib. #buckleup #bumpyride

We’re with you lady lib. #buckleup #bumpyride

If only The Statue of Liberty could speak.

Oh wait. She can.

#RESIST #ACT #DONATE #DEMONSTRATE

WE. ARE. THE. MAJORITY.

Notes from the Revolution

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750,000 strong in L.A.

500,000 in Washington, DC

250,000 in Chicago

150,000 in Boston

120,000 in Seattle (!)

100,000 in Saint Paul (!)

100,000 in Denver (!)

And 400,000 plus in Manhattan

Not to mention 10,000 strong in my beloved Ithaca, NY #ithacaisgorges

Not to mention 10,000 strong in my beloved Ithaca, NY #ithacaisgorges

Welcome to a street protest sampling on Day 2 in Trump America. To say nothing of the demonstrations in 37 cities worldwide, including London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Tokyo and many others (including ANTARTICA… yes, really).

Welcome to the Women’s March all over the world.

Welcome to the PEOPLE’S ANTIDOTE to the much touted right wing nativist – or shall we just say it – white nationalist – movement.

Welcome to the ANTI – REVOLUTION. The REAL REVOLUTION

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The real story was in the crowd. Aged from two to early 80s in Los Angeles, my home turf. Well, at least I thought it was the oldest were in their early 80s. Given L.A. standards of “beauty,” that man could have been in his 180’s and those two gray haired older ladies, who had clearly marched in the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s might have been even older. At least chronologically. We preserve ourselves well out here. Or, well, at least we can make it look that way. Welcome to the deepest blue state in America.   But don’t be jealous. Instead, come join us.

Greetings from LA LA LAND

Greetings from LA LA LAND

The ingenuity of the signs and the phrases they came up with other than “Dump Trump’ really got me. Very clever.

People of Quality, Don’t Fear Equality.

Love Women, Don’t Grab Them.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun-Damental Rights

A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance.

If You Thought SHE was Nasty, Get a Load of Us.

And my ABSOLUTE favorite:

THE. BEST.

THE. BEST.

People were EVERYWHERE.

You couldn’t march much of anywhere but that wasn’t the point. The point was to show Congress and perhaps the world what we believed. That THIS is the movement. That we won’t take it lying down. Who knew that so many in the world were already with us?

That poor Telemundo reporter and her camera person. It was gridlock. She was in full hair and makeup. But not sweating. No one was sweating. It was a beautiful L.A. day – in the high fifties, brisk, sun shining. People’s faces were not gleeful so much as they were welcoming.

The Metro stations were jammed. Luckily I parked at a friend’s house about a half hour walk away. I met friends who drove in from several hours away. And then friends of their friends from various spots all over southern California. As their friends to the north were demonstrating in San Francisco, while mine were doing the same in Oakland.

The Chair (2nd from right) and his crew #strongertogether

The Chair (2nd from right) and his crew #strongertogether

It wasn’t just women. At least a third to a half were men. The march was about women’s rights – reproductive and otherwise. But it was also about immigration. And health care. About LGBTQ rights. About racism and the rights of black and brown and yellow people. Mostly, it was about equality. Women brought their 8 year old daughters. Men clasped their 6 year old boys by the hand, pointing and leading them through a sea of humanity and teaching them, or perhaps the better word is instructing them, on how to behave as kids, and, in turn, as adults.

Sing it, sister

Sing it, sister

There will be NO TOLERANCE for a curtailment of hard fought freedom.

There will be NO PEACE if the person who is now occupying the White House who lost the popular vote by almost THREE MILLION – begins to roll back women’s reproductive rights, or begins mass deportation of immigrants, or tries to normalize discrimination against the LGBT community through exercise or non-exercise of a white nationalist agenda.

What we were demonstrating is that ALL of these rights are essentially the same. If you scapegoat ONE of us, you scapegoat ALL of us. We Americans will not put up with a strategy of turning us all against each other. Even if a plurality of the White House’s current occupant’s voters are fine with allowing it.

WE, THE MAJORITY, will continue to speak out. To Resist. To Demonstrate. Every day for the next four years, if necessary.

The new occupant will not bring America to its knees.

We, the people, will monitor the new occupant and, if necessary, cut his agenda off at its symbolic knees. And then, if still necessary, EVICT him.

This will happen if he refuses to listen to the majority because THE NEW REALITY is that HE WORKS FOR US.

And he knows better than anyone does that when employees do not listen to reason from their boss – the boss, at the end of the day, can only answer them with two words:

YOU’RE FIRED.

#Demonstrate. #Resist. #Act. #Donate.

Indivisible

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I don’t know about you but I’m beginning to HATE hearing phrases like:

There ARE actions we can all take to create the change we want.

What I find equally annoying are my own bromides. Statements such as:

Just remember, WE ARE THE MAJORITY. There are 2.85 million more voters in this country that DID NOT VOTE FOR TRUMP than DID vote for him.

Really, Chair?

Please, someone make me – and them – STOP.

It’s not that I don’t believe these to be truisms, along with many others. It’s just that these days I am royally pissed off, scared and sometimes foaming at the mouth (Note: Believe me, folks, it’s true). Mostly, that my country is about to be led by someone who for the last year and a half I’ve considered a racist lunatic and who, with each passing day, makes statements, speeches, tweets and actions that only confirm those feelings tenfold.

Me, 90% of the time

Me, 90% of the time

It takes a certain kind of person to endure this kind of pressure with a combination of action, dignity and grace. People like Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) who said this week what the majority of us in the country are all thinking – that Trump is not a legitimate president because his election was illegitimate.

There is convincing evidence Russia significantly interfered with the election process, Rep. Lewis explained.   He and others also added that based on conversations with the FBI and others there is also apparently widespread suspicion and isolated pieces of mounting proof that members of Trump’s campaign, and perhaps the candidate himself, were willing and/or active participants in this swindle.

Courtesy of a Zurich based German language newspaper. #nailedit

Courtesy of a Zurich based German language newspaper. #nailedit

So for those many reasons, Rep. Lewis then announced he will not attend Trump’s inauguration in less than week. Nor will, following his announcement, a growing list of other members of Congress, who are pressing for an internal and/or external investigation into the election and Trump. One that they will likely get – in detail.

See, that’s exactly how action happens. Unvarnished, calm truths – elucidated by a few facts and plausible theories – followed up with a plan to resist, protest and create the change you want based on those truths.

Of course, Rep. Lewis marched with Dr. Martin Luther King at Selma in the 1960s fighting segregation, got his head beaten in by police, and nearly lost his life doing it. He’s bold, courageous and well trained.

trump712

Or as some put it “all talk.” #eyeroll #enough

But what’s the average passive scare-dy cat like me – and perhaps you — to do?

This brings us to INDIVISIBLE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE for RESISTING THE TRUMP AGENDA.  

Required reading #doit

Required reading #doit

It’s readable, smart and snappy and was written by former congressional staffers who wanted to chart out step-by-step, to us ordinary folks, the best ways to make Congress listen . You can read and/or download the breezy 26 page pamphlet here: indivisibleguide.com.

Think of it as Advocacy/Politics/Change for Dummies.

Indivisible has only been posted a matter of weeks and already there are Indivisible GROUPS springing up all over the country that use the short, printed guide as a jumping off point primer on how to get lawmakers to stop crazy people from hijacking the country you love.

How to become your own version of Mr. Smith

How to become your own version of Mr. Smith

No, I’m not apologizing for my words. I’m speaking to you – not to those who disagree with me or to those on the fence who I want to persuade. I have to be more polite to them to affect change. At least publicly. Which doesn’t mean I can’t be passionate, strong-minded and direct in their presence. Or scream, yell and curse when they’re not around.

See, that’s what I learned at one of the advocacy groups inspired by Indivisible I accidentally attended this weekend. Some weeks before a friend of mine saw one of my feverish political posts (Note: Or rants, or pick your applicable verb) on Facebook and realized my verve had potential but my methods could use some, um…honing (?) to get me to the next level. So he invited me to join him in a Saturday afternoon of “advocacy training” at someone’s house led by a professional.

Right. At first I didn’t want to go even though I realized I should. Then I considered the alternative – more foam. So I decided to join him. And then the day before the event – where I would be required to walk into a room full of all these strangers – my personal news oracle, Rachel Maddow, actually had one of the founders of the Indivisible Guide on her TV show reporting on the very type of event I had unknowingly agreed to attend the following day.

Jees, this sounds so smart, I thought. I should get involved in that but probably won’t. Little did I know I already had committed to do so and was about to.

I say all this not to pat myself on the back to encourage all of you to take a small step out of your comfort zone into unknown territory. You can still foam, or drink, or tune out and do nothing the rest of your time. But if you allow yourself, there is also room to create some sort of active plan to counteract all of your worst (or on some days, best) instincts.

In no particular order, here is some of what I re-learned, learned for the first time, or was astounded by in the course of my training:

— Did you know you get some of the best results talking to your member of Congress? They (okay, their office) will answer ALL constituent calls and log them. But be precise and direct. This is far more effective than emails or other correspondence, which are largely ignored.   And their local phone numbers are easily found on the web.

Real people, folks!

Real people, folks! #imaginethat

— ASK for a staffer in your rep’s office that handles the issue you are calling about.   These people are almost as important as your rep because they write all the legislation and do the grunt work. Also, ask for the scheduler in the office and when you’re ready you can get a meeting on the books with the staffer and eventually the rep. Go with up to four people, armed with a personal story on your “issue.” Prepare a few thoughts, facts and questions. Know your rep’s stance. But remember, you don’t have to be an expert. It’s more about forging an ongoing relationship with them on an issue(s) you care about. And note: NEVER mention you contributed money to their campaign. That sounds like you want quid pro quo. It’s much more powerful to be a constituent with friends in their district because that means you can en masse vote them out of office.

— If your rep AGREES with all your positions CALL THEM ANYWAY. They need to know you have their back and can use your ideas. In fact, they welcome it, particularly now when the going is tough. Also, attend any town halls they have in your district. You can find these out signing up for their newsletters.

Be part of the political human pyramid!

Be part of the political human pyramid!

— If you go to sites like majorityleader.gov or senate.gov you will get a calendar for a FULL YEAR that will tell you when you rep (actually, all of them) will be in your district and state and when they will be in Washington, DC working. Schedule calls and meetings accordingly. You can also go to congress.gov and check on what bills are in what committees and on which subjects.  Check out committees your specific rep is on and contact them about the issue.

— Become part of a local organization fighting for your cause because there is more strength in numbers. This doesn’t mean you turn your life over. You go to an event or two and do what you can in the beginning. Here are some sources and ideas:

Common Cause — I am particularly interested in investigating Trump and the election. This group is on the case and effective in holding elected officials accountable. They are also BI-PARTISAN. Commoncause.org

Citizen’s Climate Lobby – An effective group if you are particularly concerned with climate change. Citizensclimatelobby.org

Funny, but missing the point ;-)

Funny, but missing the point 😉

Facebook Groups:

— If you are a white person who is particularly concerned with racism towards non-whites try White People For Black Lives.

— If you want a simple task to do everyday that will make some difference join the group Rise When We Fall. They offer options and action plans. You can also get daily emails from them. Risewhenwefall.org

— Sign up for a google news alert about the activities or any Congress member of issue you want to know about. You can choose how often you get them. It’s a summary of the latest developments and a way to stay informed.

— If you want to take a step towards a Trump impeachment, demand your reps and others support a bi-partisan independent investigation into Russian/Trump activities in the 2016 presidential election. If there is an investigation done solely within the Senate, a distinct possibility, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the power to keep specific evidence, testimony and findings secret and you will NEVER KNOW the FULL STORY.

— If you are overwhelmed with issues and can’t choose one, you are not alone. Know most of us feel this way. Go to charity navigator and peruse many worthy causes. It is a guide on what organizations do and how to donate time or money. Spend some personal time soul searching and realize you cannot do it all. And that whatever you don’t choose, someone else somewhere will choose.

When it feels like this... remember you are not alone!

When it feels like this… remember you are not alone!

Finally, the woman who ran our workshop wisely pointed out that although often it’s quoted that all politics are local, what that really means is all politics is personal. She then hesitatingly offered us the quote often attributed to Russian leader Joseph Stalin (Note: Appropriate in the age of Trump) – the death of one person is a tragedy; the death of one million is a statistic.

Meaning –- this stuff is all personal and if you relate what is meaningful to you and yours it will carry more weight than you realize.

Though if Russian orthodoxy makes you uncomfortable at this point in time – and why wouldn’t it – think instead about what Mother Theresa once said:

If I look at the mass I will never act.

And then, yeah, act. Which in turn might bring you, just a little bit of hope.

Carrie On

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Directly after Carrie Fisher’s funeral this week, her brother was spotted carrying away a sizeable urn in the shape of a giant Prozac pill containing her ashes.

I’d love to report this was her joke from the grave, a surprise last bit at her funeral for survivors and fans – both public and private. In actuality, the idea is credited to her brother Todd and her daughter, actress Billie Lourd.

It seems that one of Carrie’s prize possessions was this oversized tribute to the famed anti-depressant that she picked up years ago and she always treasured it as some sort of comic talisman (or taliswoman, as she might write, though probably in a much funnier way).

A true original

A true original

So after going through various other options that “didn’t seem quite right,” they figured why not permanently contain her in something that truly gave her joy – not to mention permanent stability, at least metaphorically.

Full Confession: The sight of this drug literally carrying Carrie around for all eternity made me laugh out loud. And more than once. Because I kept clicking on article after article just to keep getting more details and as many different perspectives of the image as I could.

It seriously never gets old

It seriously never gets old

See, renowned for her wit, her writing, her portrayal of Star Wars’ Princess Leia and her Hollywood pedigree, she also joked that she was equally famous for “being crazy.”

But what this really meant was that she was equally known as a tireless mental health advocate and for sharing her lifelong battles with her own bipolar disorder in books, interviews and pretty much any other avenue available to her in an attempt to help both herself, and perhaps one hundred thousands of others like her, cope with the seeming unreality of their realities.

You certainly brought it, Ms. Fisher. #thankyou

You certainly brought it, Ms. Fisher. #thankyou

There’s a lot of unreality floating around right now so it’s more important than ever to remember that even when everything is so serious you yourself can’t always be that way because it will literally make you crazy crazier. If nothing else, this is something Carrie Fisher leaves us and in her memory it would be a fitting tribute to act on it accordingly.    That is, aside from dressing like Princess Leia every so often on Halloween.

To this end, I often imagine what it must be like when Trump showers in his gold gilded marble bathroom – mirrors everywhere – and catches that magical 3-D reflective glance as his numerous selves get out of the shower. Delusional though he might be – what do you think he sees? Bradley Cooper? Jon Hamm? Even more age appropriate John Kerry? I don’t think so.

Please stop there!

Please stop there!

More like a balding Jabba the Hutt –the white fleshy overhangs of age moving every which way; a naked, liver-spotted pate up above topped not by a sea of combed over shining, swirling straw but by long limp clumps of sad, wet droopy side tresses of unruly human waste.  A forever Queens, NY version of Jabba the Hutt, twaddling around his newly chosen nest but never able to quite break free of what a lifelong indulgence of personal vices and himself have caused him to become. At least physically. Sure, it might be no longer than a second or two but that is enough. Daily. And as I imagine it during the tough weeks it amuses me endlessly and differently. Each time.

What.. too graphic? #ahhhhh

MAKE IT STOP!

Now perhaps this makes me a less than good person but I don’t think so. In some real sense, it just makes me human. For humor is very personal and I’m not Carrie. But neither are any of us. Point being, you’re not awful or unserious if you occasionally indulge your dark side (Note: And, um, Star Wars, duh!). Especially if it gives you fuel to keep fighting the good fight and relieves some tension.   And unlike drugs, drink, food or violence, the worst it will give you is a sick laugh. Imagine, that’s the absolute worst. My former worst was as a kid telling those god-awful Helen Keller jokes. And I bet most of you have done no worse – despite what you may advertise to the world or what the world thinks you or your secrets are guilty of.

On that note, what do you think they stored Antonin Scalia’s ashes in?

Too soon?

Oh Chairy #meanit #loveyou

Oh Chairy #meanit #loveyou

Okay, then imagine David Bowie. Or Nancy Reagan. How about Prince? Now c’mon, you know he’d have come up with something genius had he even put a fraction of that brilliant mind to it. But he had music and other stuff to keep him perpetually amused and entertained. Not all of us are so blessed.

There was that time he went on the Today Show dressed as Bryant Gumbel

There was that time he went on the Today Show dressed as Bryant Gumbel

This past week I watched Ava DuVernay’s thoughtful and troubling 13th, a documentary on the history of Black enslavement in the US, and I found myself talking and shouting back at almost all of the white people onscreen who, even when caught with their racism showing, figured out a way to rhetorically wrestle themselves away from reality. I see this same marginalization reflected by too many contemporary white supporters of Trump, not to mention others – though not all of them would look as repulsive as him getting out of the shower.

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no more Chairy! I just can’t take it! #myeyes #myeyes

So what do you do – that is aside from demonstrating, donating, ranting or running against them, and generally fighting against their regressive views of humanity?

Well, spewing a sea of snide retorts at them either virtually or in person when you get the chance helps immeasurably despite what most rational thinkers will advise. Don’t consider it the surefire thoughtful antidote or magical bullet. Rather a small but very, very useful tool among many in the arsenal of your survival.

Sort of like your own personal melon baller or kitchen paring knife.