Friday, May 31, 2013

COUNTDOWN TO THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION - INSTALLMENT #3


AND OTHER MEANINGLESS POLITICAL NEWS


One Republican politician mentioned as a viable 2016 Presidential candidate is Jeb Bush, President George Bush II’s brother and son of President George Bush I. A political dynasty in the making! In a recent TV interview the the family's matriarch, Barbara Bush, wife of Bush I, was asked her opinion of Jeb becoming the next Chief Executive. Her unequivocal answer, “No”. There were enough Bush’s in the White House, she said, no more needed. I am sure Jeb greatly appreciated her encouraging unexpected, startling words of support  rejection. Jeb’s response: “What can I tell you? All I can say is we all have mothers, right?” He said he would wait a year before considering a Presidential run.

Senator Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, is apparently contemplating a 2016 Presidential campaign. There is, however, controversy concerning his U.S. citizenship. His mother was born in Delaware, his father in Cuba. Ted was born in Canada. It is rumored President Obama will be his Chief Citizenship Advisor. Cruz will probably also invite Donald Trump to join his citizenship committee. He wants Trump’s support and Good Citizenship Seal of Approval.

Let’s not forget the Democrats. After all, 2016 will be a two party race. Republicans are trying to place Benghazi blame on Hillary Clinton, hoping that, if she runs in 2016, the foreign policy event will be a black eye for her.

And more pointless news…not necessarily about Presidential politics!

A discredited politician is slowly making a comeback. 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards fathered a child with his mistress, and the news went public during his campaign. Meanwhile his wife was fighting, and eventually died, of cancer. As a result of his indiscretion and subsequent lies attempting to conceal the affair, Edwards withdrew to his gated estate in North Carolina. He recently reactivated his law license and is speech-making again. Whether or not he aspires to political office remains a mystery.

Republican Senators from Oklahoma (Tom Coburn and James Inhofe) face a quandary. One of the worst natural disasters ever hit their state. Both Senators in the past voted against assistance to people in distress, most recently voting against aid to Hurricane Sandy victims. Now the Senators must decide whether to approve help for their state residents (many of whom lost everything in the tornado and most of whom probably voted for them) or follow Tea Party mantra, their previous voting record, and vote No. By the way, the Republican Congressman from the district hardest hit by the tornado, Tom Cole, voted in favor of Sandy aid.

Kudos to New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, who set aside partisanship and worked alongside a Democratic President, benefiting his constituency. Christie ignored the wrath of many Republicans, placing Sandy victims above politics. That took courage.

Update from a previous Countdown to Presidential Election post:
Mark Sanford won his bid for a Congressional seat from South Carolina. When the polls closed and the counting completed, it was not a close race. The Congressman and his Argentinian sweetheart are probably at this moment being photographed by paparazzi as they trek around Washington, D.C. Sanford is not, however, campaigning for selection as poster person for Republican family values.

And that's it for now. Stay tuned for more political folly, fiascos and fun in future posts.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Turkey Trot Leads to the Unemployment Line


An article in an on-going series:
Events in History Never Learned
in School or Anywhere Else

Once upon a Rag-time there was a dance called the Turkey Trot and a group of young women caught up in changing times.

1912 was a banner year as the country shed Victorian 19th century behaviors and marched inexorably into the new 20th century. A lot happened in 1912, and many of the exciting inventions and developments continue to impact us today.

Children’s lives were greatly improved with the introduction of Oreo cookies.

Americans were on the road to dress success with the founding of the L.L. Bean Company in Freeport, Maine.

Standard Oil Company jump-started a relentless path towards a concrete America with the opening of the first gas station in Cincinnati, OH.

Picnics and the American landscape would never be the same with the invention of Dixie cups. 

New Mexico and Arizona were admitted to the Union, forming a more perfect 48 contiguous states.

The unsinkable Titanic sank on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

Arizona and Kansas granted women the right to vote. Wisconsin voted against women’s suffrage.

On May 29th, 1912, in Philadelphia, publisher Ed Bok of the Curtis Publishing Company fired fifteen women for dancing the Turkey Trot during their lunch break.

Curtis was the original publisher of The Ladies Home Journal, Saturday Evening Post, and other prestigious 20th century publications. The Turkey Trot was a couples dance considered obscene by many and sometimes banned from dance halls. Most couple dances of the time had animal names, such as the Bunny Hug, Horse Trot, and Grizzly Bear.

The origin of the Turkey Trot is disputed. Some believe it was invented in San Francisco around 1909; others assert it was imported from Central America as early as the 1860s. Listen to the music and watch the dance:

For all NCIS fans, here is a video of Abby dancing the Turkey Trot.
   
Women everywhere salute the fifteen pioneers unafraid to let their hair down (metaphorically speaking) and dance their lunchtime away.

We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.
- Japanese proverb

A footnote. Fast forward twelve years and Mary Louise Curtis Bok, of the Curtis Publishing Company family, founded the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.  It is a unique music institution with a well-regarded worldwide reputation offering all students accepted, undergraduate and graduates, free tuition, regardless of economic circumstances.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Summer is Here and So Are the Shoobies


Tourist season begins and the shoobies are here (yeah!)!

The shoobies are here (uh-oh)!

The shoobies are here (is it Labor Day yet!?)!

For those from another part of the universe, shoobies are out-of-towners visiting our corner of paradise - our shore beach town. They come in endless waves for three months to enjoy the sun, beach, food, each other, to generally carouse and have a good time. You probably have not seen the ads, but what happens at the shore, stays at the shore…

At least shoobies hope so.

Most shoobies hail from the Philadelphia area, although more and more are migrating from the New York metro area and from the South – the Washington, D.C area.

Like cicadas, which also arrive on a regular cycle, shoobies are usually harmless, but are very noisy, congregate in crowds, and engage in rowdy activities. Except they do not die after cavorting. Shoobies simply disappear once summer is over.

Shoobies come around a lot more often than cicadas, invading yearly. First major sightings are a few days before Memorial Day weekend. They slowly trickle in, eventually becoming a steady stream of late-model cars creating traffic back-ups at lights and parking lots. Suddenly on-street parking is at a premium.

Do not get me wrong, we want the shoobies. Sort of. Most have more money – and quite a few have a lot more – than year-round residents. They spend money in stores and restaurants, and pay for lots of services, providing needed employment for housecleaners, landscapers, plumbers, beauty salon personnel, ice cream shop attendants, and the list goes on…

We need them for economic reasons. Most of us like to get a paycheck and buy stuff. We all have to pay Uncle Sam, and everyone here (in New Jersey) has to pay Uncle Chris.

And now I must confess:

We were once shoobies.

For several years we came down weekends to enjoy the sun, the beach, the boardwalk, the food, to relax and store up energy for the workweek ahead. Then one day we looked at each other and said, “We are not getting any younger. It is time for a change.” Unable to hop cross-country or overseas - hub is still working - we decided to try full-time living at the shore.

So here we are, three years later, enjoying life and lamenting the shoobie onslaught.

But that’s OK. Summer is short, and before long the line of cars snaking across our island disappears across the bridge, not to be seen again until the following May.

We take back our island, relish the sudden quiet, the empty beaches, the ease of getting a restaurant table, the end of morning jam-packed boardwalk walkers, runners and bikers, and enjoy the convenience of finding on-street parking directly in front of stores and other businesses. We take time to talk to those remaining as the pace of life slows and the sharp autumn air finds us on the beach, enjoying the last days of sunny, mild, beautiful weather.

Winter will eventually descend, hopefully more peacefully than last year’s post-Sandy period. By April events locals look forward to all winter begin, including yard sales (must stock up on toys for the grandkids), restaurant week and off-season specials, town festivals and charity walks and runs.

And suddenly, it is shoobie time again.

New Jersey does not have a great reputation (the TV show Jersey Shore definitely did not help); it is sometimes alluded to as the armpit of our country. And there are places at the Jersey shore where kitsch is synonymous with local culture. I am not saying the town named in the following song is one of them (and it is NOT the town where we live), but note the outfits of the back-up singers and hula hoop champion. It is all great fun, but it is accurate, kind of!

Philly Cuzz and the Shoobies sing this version of Wildwood Days.

FYI - Wildwood Days was originally sung decades ago by Bobby Rydell (1963), a Philadelphia native.

Welcome summer! Welcome shoobies!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Questions I am Afraid to Ask My Chiropractor


I am crooked.

People have been telling me so for the past couple of weeks.

My body leans to the right.
 
My body leans right.

Is this a permanent new condition? It does not hurt, and I do not feel any different.

I recently sought the assistance of a chiropractor to help avoid or at least delay what is beginning to look like a body moving slowly but steadily towards a downward, lopsided trajectory.

Previous experience with chiropractors is limited. The first time was decades ago. Hub and I were painting a room and my job was the ceiling, reaching above my head with the roller. When finished I sat down on the floor to relax and watch TV. Attempting to move a couple of hours later, I shrieked in pain. It was difficult inching to the car and eventually the chiropractor’s office. After adding up the medical bills, hub figured it would have been a lot cheaper to hire a painter.

I have been to a chiropractor once or twice since. Until this week. Hub persuaded me, thinking my misalignment was temporary.
 
This is NOT my chiropractor.
It took a long time to figure out what might have happened. About three weeks ago I was in the garden. We have some raised beds, and I tripped and fell over one of the wood edgings. At the time I only scraped my hands and forgot about it. Sometimes, however, it takes several days for the results of a fall or similar accident to emerge.

A trip to the chiropractor showed a twisted pelvis rubbing on nerves.

After a couple of adjustments I am straighter, although not perfect – yet.

But I am beginning to wonder if a right lean is permanent.

This brings up a host of questions I cannot answer (and will not ask my chiropractor). The most important, provocative, and life-changing question of all:

If I tilt right must I become conservative?

A political right-wing conservative?

Religious conservative?

Will the Tea Party solicit me as one of them?

Will I have to drink tea more often than when eating Chinese food or when ill?

Will I have to stop watching MSNBC, whose motto is lean forward? I can do that, but will my right lean overshadow my forward lean? I do not want to abandon Morning Joe for Fox News.

Must I forego my liberal leanings?

Must I dress conservatively?

Drive conservatively? Sitting in the driver’s seat, leaning right, will I be able to see out the windshield?

Time will tell if my physical tilt affects my political and social life.

I just hope my right orientation is not too far right by the next election.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Icons Are People Too


 I started this post writing about icons and celebrities and the people we place on a pedestal, but recent events found me veering down a slightly different path.

There was a lot going on when I was growing up in the 1960s. During those tumultuous years there were many individuals I related to. And a lot I did not. Over the years icons – specifically women icons, since that is the tribe I relate to most – became famous stars one day and, almost as quickly, faded away. Some I admired, a few I aspired to be, and some I criticized or derided.

We – the little girls and boys growing up in the 1950s and 60s - were influenced by the hour-glass voluptuousness of Marilyn Monroe on one hand and a waif-like, anorexic model named Twiggy on the other. In between was the long, sleek aristocratic look of Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961), and Jackie Kennedy, America’s answer to gene pool royalty.

Monroe, featured in the first Playboy Magazine, December 1953, died in 1962 before America’s social and cultural fabric unraveled. Yet the iconic blonde bombshell still captivates us. And there were other sex symbols: Ursula Andress, sex kitten in the 1962 James Bond movie Dr. No, Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot…

Not to be too presumptuous, and unable to speak for every woman growing up during the era, then there was me. I realized early on I was never going to have the body or be any of these women.

I was not tall, or thin, or small-busted, or long-legged, or blonde, or rich. I was never going to be a model (too short), actress (no talent), musician or singer (tone deaf), or First Lady (?).

Each generation has their own unreasonable expectations thrust upon them, whether tall, skinny models (apparently always in vogue), voluptuous sex kittens or blemish-free, toned celebrities splashed across publications such as People and Us - large photos of forever-young women, their latest significant other, and their cute kids outfitted in the latest must-have designer outfits for tots.

And so it is with humbleness and appreciation when an icon/celebrity shows us her humanity, not by walking through minefields or donating scads of money to charities, but by admitting she received disheartening medical information and had a tough decision to make, and made the best of a very difficult situation.

She displayed her humanity, fragileness and mortality.

I was never a Brangelina fan. I watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith on TV and thought it was a silly movie. The only time I read celebrity magazines is in doctors’ waiting rooms. I do not follow and do not care about the Kardashians or whoever else is in the gossip column headlines.

I must admit, however, I enjoy reading about the shenanigans of our elected officials and, whether serial marriages (Newt Gingrich, for example) or adulterous escapades (such as Mark Sanford and his Appalachian Trail Argentinian adventure), they are great fun on the one hand, and a sad commentary on our politicians and Americans’ ultimate acceptance of their philandering.

But I am getting way off today’s focus.

I want to thank Angelina Jolie for reminding us that even the people society places on pedestals, splashes across sleek magazine pages and TV screens, constantly tweet about, the celebrities paparazzi harass, are ultimately real human beings like you and me.  

And sometimes they have problems too.

Not everyone may have made the decision Angelina did, but I salute her for being so brave, confronting her dragon and attempting to slay it, and for her honesty.

Many of us may not have the resources to make a similar decision and follow the same medical path. But hopefully her experience raises awareness of the personal medical struggles many people confront. Only they do not make headlines. Yet they are brave stars too.