I’m From Brooklyn

I’m from Brooklyn. In my part of Brooklyn, everything was interactive. Whether your ethnic group was Puerto Rican or African or African–American or German or Chinese or Thai or Yemeni, our part of Brooklyn actually encouraged you to talk to each other. As a family we were – and still in many ways are – Italian, even those of us who can no longer speak Italian. Being Italian means being vociferous, which is to say having opinions and being eager, watchful, and alert to the possibility of expressing those opinions…

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Act of Contrition

Kneel at the feet of the searing,  Withered and flattened World, O my Country! Take your Penance  And Swallow it. Ask the Kurds  And the Yemenis And Nigerians and All those others with  Brown hair and dark eyes Ask the Mothers and Fathers  Across the World, Ask ALL of THEM to Forgive you. Forgive you for the horrors  You have Shoveled upon THEM Like huge, burning COALS And the ruin you have made of  Their Children’s Futures. Then, only then, Crying and rending  Your Clothes--- Take all you have taken…

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The Center Cannot Hold

While visiting a family in Canada a few years ago, I was charmed by the nightly news, which included a rather long segment of a cow blocking a road. I laughed in the first 30 seconds as everyone in the room did. But after 5 minutes expanded into 10 minutes of reporting, I had to leave the room. “So boring,” I thought. “And so unnecessary. Canadian TV thinks of this as news?” Yet, I also noticed in the newspapers, long sections of bios of those who had fought and died…

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In Praise of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Eternal Spirit in the World We have lost a great leader In the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Glorified, as she should be, In classrooms In the dormitories of millions Of growing women Beloved by a nation of every gender and race That was trembling with fears That the Law might deny them  Their Sacred Rights She gave us an emblem, a banner, a voice We needed and could not find Until her. Justice Ginsburg offered  Her intelligence and self-respect, Her gentle but firm wisdom To a nation that had…

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Roses are Still Red

There is much to worry us in this time. But if we look upon the anger, the tumult, the struggles to live and more than that, the struggles to be free- we see a different color in this now dark world. We see fiery red. And red means love in our culture. It also means bravery.  For many years, we have talked much about conflicts outside our nation.  But now the conflicts are not outside our borders, but within them. We have violence against black people and people of other…

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Plant Trees!

Many people are out of work, so now we need a new Civilian Conservation Corps.  CA lost millions of trees, risking runoff this winter into our salmon streams.  We should hire thousands of tree planters, plus volunteers doing community service.  It's safer working outside, with distance and masks.  Lots of organizations, businesses, tourism and students could help them plant millions of trees, and do other conservation work, across the state.

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Thoughts on Beirut

The tragic explosion in Beirut wiped out the port area and killed about 150 people.  I lived in Beirut as a child, and it's sad to see the destruction.  The disaster left Lebanon in chaos, and they'll have trouble recovering and rebuilding. Last week was also the 75th commemoration of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that killed about 200,000, mostly civilians.  Those were small nukes.  What if a terrorist or enemy had bombed Beirut with a nuclear weapon?  Hundreds of thousands would have died instantly or over the following weeks…

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