Evil is the New Black

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(photo: Alexandra Panyukova)

Orange is no longer the New Black
Evil has trumped it

with gun-slaughter
domestic terrorismus
unlawful law enforcers
sniper attacks

blood splatter
media porn king pins and queens
luxuriating in the horror
like a bubble bath
after a hard day

thoughts and prayers
thoughts and prayers
thoughts and prayers

another funeral
interviews on wide screen TV
24-7 news cycle
weeping mothers and children

it’s so banal
it’s all the rage
to be enraged
constantly

Congress on vacation
needing a break
from truth

how hard it is to see
when you won’t believe

Pray for Paris and Beirut and . . .

pray-for-paris-sticker

(Alex Smithson)

At the request of Mother Nature and in solidarity with Paris, I am posting this sign.

Friday the 13th, 2015. A horrific day for Paris. Having never been, I cannot extol its virtues, or reminisce about places I’ve been. I’ve seen movies about it, read about it, a friend lives there, but that’s as far as it goes.

I wish I could say with confidence there won’t be any more Parises in our future, but that would be naive. This latest attack brings to mind the terror of 9-11, which violated and devastated my home city. It makes me tired and sad. But we must fight the evil that brought about these events.

I’m trying to truly understand, so I’m reading articles, watching news reports on CNN. The most informative piece I’ve read so far is this article in The Atlantic. It shows how little we  know about ISIS, how far off the mark we’ve been.  We must learn, stand together and fight. Prayers are always welcome, but they only go so far.

And for those who don’t know (I just found out), 43 died in Beirut in a double suicide bombing perpetrated by ISIS on November 12. Let us keep the Lebanese in our prayers as well.

 

 

 

Zen Bus Driver

Ralph Kramden statue at rush hour (evening)

Ralph Kramden statue at rush hour (evening)  (photo by Erica Herd)

I took the early bus to work this morning, the 7:45 which arrives at 7:43. I wasn’t feeling great – have a pinched nerve in my neck, I think, but I hunkered down in my seat, and continued reading Gone Girl on my iPad. My seat mate wore a floral dress and crocheted black shawl and big dark glasses, her mop of dark bangs curtaining the lenses as she read a paperback. All in all, a serene and uneventful trip.

The New Jersey Transit bus drivers are a varying lot: some are gruff, some friendly, some unintelligible. Our Christian driver says over the intercom, “Enjoy the grace of God” and wishes us a “blessed day” as we depart. One driver acts as a tour guide, remarking on the forsythias on the side of the side of the turnpike and how they only bloom in spring. When she was our nighttime driver, she announced each stop (which not all the drivers do) in an erotic, bordering on pornographic purr: “Summit Avenue and Prospect, Summ-iiiit Aaav-e-nuuuue.” Commuters giggled and laughed out loud, but she didn’t seem to notice or care. She would give some of the male passengers a “ come hither” ogle as they departed. I haven’t seen her in a while, perhaps she retired.

Today the driver was silent until we reached our destination, Port Authority (aka “PA”). As we pulled in, he announced over the intercom, “Please remember to take all your belongings and have a peaceful and mindful day.”

Now that’s a first! What a refreshing change from the Big Brother announcements in PA and signs that say “If you see something, say something,” and the “TEXT AGAINST TERROR” campaign: “NJ TRANSIT Reminds Customers to Report Suspicious Activity at 1-888-TIPS-NJT.”

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(photo credit: KnowAddiction.nj.gov)

There’s also a NJ marketing campaign to fight heroin abuse. Some buses tout the sign, “Your medicine cabinet could be the gateway to heroin.” More fear, another “war” against something. I’ve made it a personal crusade to fight against the Fear Campaigns. I’m not living in denial. I know there are terrible things going on in the world, but I’m tired of the Fear Bullying. I agree with the bus driver, let’s not have a “safe” day as they say on the MTA, but a “peaceful and mindful” one. We can be aware without allowing ourselves to be terrorized by another “war” or campaign.

Fear: It’s What’s for Breakfast

CBS news team

“What’s the point of truth or beauty or knowledge
when anthrax bombs are popping all around you?”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

The CBS morning news smacks me awake with cold FEAR, aside from weather with my favorite meteorologist John Elliott, traffic updates with Jill Nicolini and Alex Denis’s delightful-bordering-on-daft “Now Trending” segment. Before I have a chance to grab my morning Joe, I swallow FEAR in the guise of ISIS, Ebola, Enterovirus, a fire in Paterson, carjacking / police shootout in front of Sleepy’s in Paramus, baby black bear found dead in Central Park, a stabbing in Jamaica, Queens, on and on. Fear is what’s for breakfast or what Charlie Rose calls, “your world in 90 seconds.”

Of course, I can shut off the Fear Channel whenever I choose. It’s on when I drive my husband to the bus stop in my pajamas, then I do some stretches and soak in more . . . FEAR. After that I tune into Soundscapes, the New Age music station, and go upstairs to shower. The cats prefer Soundscapes, at least that’s what an animal behaviorist told me. She said they are most soothed by New Age music. Back to Fear.

This morning Charlie Rose asked chief medical correspondent Dr. John LaPook, “What is the worst case scenario?” Norah O’Donnell nods, almost salivating.

LaPook makes it plain that there is little to no chance of an Ebola outbreak on our shores. One look at Charlie’s furrowed brow and we can tell LaPook’s response does not satisfy him. Does he want Ebola in America?

Todd Kincannon’s answer to Ebola is the most straightforward: Kill (“humanely”) everyone who has contracted the disease.

Governor Rick Perry, whom people seem to take more seriously since he donned glasses, has assured Texans he has set up a “task force” to deal with Ebola, now that it has hit home, literally.

In between the sound bites of Fear, commercials are yelling at me: call 1-800-MATTRESS, call  1-800-STEEMER, with the accompanying jingle, “Call 1 800 Steemer, Stanley Steamer gets your home cleaner.” They want me to give my car to a kid, and they sing,“1 877 Kars for Kids, 1 877 Kars for Kids, 1 877 Kars for Kids, Donate your car (kar?) today.” It’s a catchy tune, but I need my car (kar?)!

At last, I switch to the Soundscapes channel which once offered bucolic visuals along with tranquil music with titles like “Sensual Afterludes” and “Zen Dreaming.” Now there’s a black screen with ads popping up offering deals on catheters, telling me who to call if my house is facing foreclosure and who to call if the IRS or collection agency is after me. Help!

I don’t know where to turn. I want to get the weather, traffic report, a sweet, harmless tidbit from Alex Denis, and a smidgen of real news that isn’t fear-based. Of course. there’s WBAI which I can listen to in the car, but it’s often an endless fundraising-a-thon. Perhaps silence is best. Looking out the window upon waking, my kitties in tow, I can determine the weather based on the coolness of their eraser noses, or check my iPhone. But I’ll miss John Elliott, who not only provides weather with a smile, but tells me it’s National Bring Your Ferret to Work Day. He must have a book that he refers to because every day is a holiday with him. And Jill Nicolini announced she’s pregnant this morning. Congratulations, Jill! And it’s a boy!

Okay, now I’m being daft. All I want in the morning is coffee, a dose of visual and audio pablum, and to trundle off to the bus stop, catch the 163 and not be terrorized before reaching Port Authority. Is that too much to ask?