Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bob Dylan now and then

Old Bob Dylan has a new album. I can't think of him as aging like the rest of us. In 1989, I went to a Bob Dylan concert in Paris, and his voice didn't crack and tremble dramatically, as it once did. He drowned out his voice in extremely amplified instrumental music. I wonder what the new album will be like.

At this week there are reviews of various books on Dylan. I lifted the wonderful photo -- how young Dylan looked in 1963.

Above all, the online issue includes a wonderful reprint of Nat Hentoff’s Profile of Dylan from 1964, including a long description of a Dylan recording session. Hentoff wrote: "Dylan went on to record a song about a man leaving a girl because he was not prepared to be the kind of invincible hero and all-encompassing provider she wanted. 'It ain’t me you’re looking for, babe,' he sang, with finality."

What finality. It makes me remember the first song I heard by the electric Dylan, "Ballad of the thin man," the one with the refrain "You know something is happening, but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr.Jones."

Read the article:

The Crackin’, Shakin’, Breakin’ Sounds
by Nat Hentoff
Issue of 1964-10-24
Posted 2006-08-28

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Waiting for Lefty"

Did you say that Walmart pioneered the exploitation of unskilled workers? No? Good.

But if you ever give this idea a second thought, I recommend that you read the compelling play "Waiting for Lefty" by Clifford Odets. Lefty is the union leader who is going to organize the poor desperate taxi drivers. They earn almost nothing and they blame their employers, the owners of the taxis, who reduce their wages. Their wives and sweethearts are deserting them or kicking them out. The credit companies are repossessing their furniture. Their children are hungry. If they need medical care, only charity will give it to them. And Lefty never comes.

I have been meaning to read this play for a long time. It's powerful. It's completely relevant. And it was written in 1935. Are we really still waiting? If Lefty came today, what would he do?

Waiting for Lefty and Other Plays by Clifford Odets.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Antisemites, Moslems, Self-Hating Jews Assemble at Ann Arbor Jewish Community Center

There's plenty of room for discussion and dissent, but it seems simply antiJewish to stand on the sidewalk outside a Jewish Community Center with a bullhorn (maybe illegal) recycling slogans from the 1960s. The event inside was positive and in fact nobody really pays any attention to the people outside any more.

Addendum September 16, 2005:
An anonymous comment asked: " Why were they there? Not to protest the second Israeli invasion of Lebanon, by chance.......?"
Answer: In this instance, protest took place before a meeting at the Jewish Community Center concerning the war between Hizbollah and Israel. However, this group of 5 to 15 protestors have been picketing an Ann Arbor synagogue, a local business (owned by a Jewish businessman), and events at the Jewish Community Center for two years or more. They also have been disrupting meetings of the Ann Arbor City Council for at least several months. I referred to them in a post last May 11 ("Meanwhile, back at home..."). The protestors' tactics are anti-Jewish as well as anti-Zionist, as they hold all Jews responsible for all actions of the Israeli government. That is why they picket and disrupt the synagogue, whose members I am told have a variety of political beliefs. (I am not a member of the picketed synagogue).

From my email to my friend Erin

I feel very lucky today: I'm going to the Bris of a friend's first grandson. I assume that having been in Israel, you know that that's a ritual circumcision. Of course the Israelis spell and pronounce it Brit. They don't do it just to confuse and confound. It's historical. They picked the other diaspora pronunciations a hundred years ago. My husband says I don't have to the crucial time. Being ex-Reform Jews instead of ex-someotherkindofJews, we have been to only one each of these ceremonies, though this one is a Reform event -- the Reform Jews are going backwards from when we were kids when it was done during the post natal hosp stay without relatives present (you can't possibly find this interesting! But you might be amused to know that one of Detroit's moyles is on everyone's do-not-go-there list because he was arrested for drunk driving: just who you would want to do youknowwhat.)

Anyway last night I went to a community event to support Israel, complete with picketers and bull horns calling us all war criminals recycling slogans from sixties antiVietnam protests. It was indoors so that was just in the parking lot. I am very gloomy about the future of Israel, as are many people, even the most optimistic. To boot, I'm reading Huntington's famous
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington

In some cases, it's amazing that he wrote around 10 years ago and was very prescient, especially about Islamic civillization and barbarism. The moslems hated it and then went out and did what he said, I guess.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hat Photo

For a long time, I used this as the photo for my blogger profile. It shows Miriam, Alice, and me trying hats at the old-fashioned hat shop at Greenfield Village. We took it in the summer of 2006.

Fairy Land is Here

Fairy Doors reveal the presence of urban fairies throughout Ann Arbor. Througout the city, doors into small places are opening up. Roberta (feet at right) and I saw two doors that lead underneath the raised window display at Peaceable Kingdom on Main Street. Evidently, urban fairies live in this otherwise wasted space. A number of doors like this one resemble the doors of larger humanoids in the town, but I suspect that many others take other, more fairy-like forms.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hot and Cold Lava in Hawaii

This is a story of travel to Hawaii, told for my Real Story blog for children who are intrigued by hot lava in a volcano.

One of our adventures has been to visit Hawaii Volcanos National Park. We have seen some of the lava that came out of a volcano a long time ago, and we have walked on rocky ground that was hot because the lava was still flowing underneath.

Once, as this picture shows, we saw lava dripping from a lava vent into the ocean, making a huge plume of steam. The steam is easy to see in the picture. If you click on this picture and see it enlarged, you can see a little red-hot lava running down the cliff by the ocean. Lava is melted rock. It is the hottest thing on earth, I think.

As you walk through the old lava fields, you smell funny smelling fumes coming up from cracks in the rock, because the volcanic action under the rocks produces all sorts of poison gas. It is very desolate but beautiful to walk through these large black rock fields. The gases leave colored marks on the black lava rock.

Farther from the most active volcano is old, cold lava. The lava went out of this volcano through tubes (or vents) underground. When the lava all flowed away, the lava tube was like a big cave. Now people walk through it every day.

Everywhere in Hawaii you can see different kinds of lava, because every one of the Hawaiian islands blew up from the Pacific Ocean in a volcanic blast. Some were as long as a million years ago. The volcano now sending lava into the sea is slowly creating new land at the edge of the biggest Hawaiian island.

I love the Hawaiian creation story that tells of the goddess Pele who made the land from moulten rock. It's a true creation story -- invented by observation. Different from any other mythology I know of.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Thank you, Roberta!

In our living room

The New Look:

The Old Look:

... and we do mean old. That old sectional lasted something like 30 years!

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Second Blog

I have started a new blog called
Mae's Real Stories
for Miriam, Alice, and Theo. The blog Mae Travels will have posts about my own travel and thoughts on other places. The new blog will have stories inspired by Elaine's blog of memories of childhood.

Europeans against the existence of Israel

"ISRAEL IS HISTORY. We no longer recognize the State of Israel. There is no way back." -- So writes famous Norwegian author Jostein Gardner, translated in summary in Europe and Israel

The link is to a blog by Andrew Sullivan where he concludes: "Get the gist? Very few Arabs believe Israel deserves to exist in any form. And far more Europeans hold this view than will publicly say so. I think we are in the beginnings of an existential war to destroy the Jewish state. And this much I fear: it will not end, sooner or later, in a ceasefire."

Another quote from Bernard-Henri Levy about the rockets aimed at the population of Haifa: "these incoming rockets make us see what will happen on the day — not necessarily far off — when the rockets are ones with new capabilities: first, they will become more accurate and be able to threaten, for example, the petrochemical facilities you see there, on the harbor, down below; second, they may come equipped with chemical weapons that can create a desolation compared with which Chernobyl and Sept. 11 together will seem like a mild prelude. " --"Pondering, Discussing, Traveling Amid and Defending the Inevitable War"

Friday, August 04, 2006

Rockets in Migdal Ha Emek and Another Death in Maghar

reports: "At 7:15 p.m. Hizbullah resumed the rocket fire on northern Israel. A number of rockets landed in the Migdal Haemek area, and Magen David Adom security services said two people were lightly injured in the attack."

Ha'aretz reports: "Manal Azzam, a 27-year-old mother of two was killed in the mixed Druze-Muslim-Christian village of Maghar in the Lower Galilee, near Tiberias, when a rocket hit an adjacent apartment. Her children sustained light wounds, and two Maghar residents sustained serious wounds in the strike. Azzam was laid to rest Friday at 7 P.M."

These are two places we visited in May. I am more and more desperate about the war. I feel for the people suffering from the bombardment.

The Congressman from Dearborn

Our congressman is John Dingell, one of eight congressmen to vote against a House resolution condemning the Hesbollah attacks on Israel. According to the Ann Arbor News, the resolution "held terrorists and their state sponsors accountable for the attacks.'' Votes in favor of the resolution totalled 410.

I think Dingell, once a reasonably centrist Democrat, cares a lot about the voters in the biggest Arab community in the US: Dearborn. Ann Arbor fell into Dingell's district a few years ago thanks to creative boundry-drawing by the Republicans in Lansing.

Dearborn recently has been the site of a number of openly antisemitic and anti-American street demonstrations in support of Hesbollah. In a firsthand account in the Forward Sharona Shapiro wrote: "I struggled to come to grips with how Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah could be so glorified. ... As an American and a Jew, it is difficult for me to understand why so many Arab Americans in my community venerate him and others of his ilk."

Of the general atmosphere at the rally she continued: "the antisemitic placards at the rally were a horrendous display of Israel as Nazi obsession. Signs compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler and equated Stars of David with Nazi swastikas; one sign read, 'Israel Nazi Are the Same Thing.' This ugly comparison demeans the victims, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, of Nazi genocide, demonizes Israelis, and dehumanizes those who support Israel. Had the July 18 rally been held in Europe instead of Dearborn, it would likely have been officially classified as an antisemitic event." ("Beware Youthful Dearborn's Angry IntoleranceSharona Shapiro, Michigan area director of the American Jewish Committee

Later, Dingell got himself in hot water with conservative talk-show folks for ambiguous remarks about whether he supports Hesbollah. He insists that he didn't say he supported them. The News says: "Dingell's declared opponent in the November election didn't let the opportunity slip away, either. 'I find it shocking that Mr. Dingell cannot bring himself to express the slightest disapproval of a terrorist organization that has taken hundreds of innocent lives,' said Vinnie Vernuccio of Ann Arbor. 'The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a complex issue, but it should not be difficult to disavow an organization that intentionally kills civilians and uses Arab women and children as human shields.'" ("Terrorist label fits Hezbollah, Dingell says" Ann Arbor News, August 3, 2006)
This is the first time I've ever heard of Vinnie Vernuccio, who didn't get the needed 1000 signatures to appear on the Primary ballot. I bet I wouldn't like his policies on anything else. A quick web search reveals that he attends ultra-right law school Ave Maria. I sure wish I had more electoral choices coming my way!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hearing about the war

In May, we visited the towns of Migdal HaEmek, Nahalal, and Upper Nazereth (Nazeret Illit). We met people who participate in Partnership 2000, a cooperative effort between Jewish Federations in the United States and civic groups in Israel. The particular partnership between Ann Arbor and Israel is in these towns and the surrounding area called the Jezreel valley.

When Hesbollah rocket barrages began in Israel, the Partnership region suffered a number of direct hits on its towns, open spaces, and farms. Residents have suffered both direct harm and serious disruption of their lives. As the war has progressed, several forms of contact between our communities has continued.

Yesterday I attended a lunch at the JCC to inform people here about the current situation in Israel (see photo above). By telephone from his home in Mitzpe Hoshaya, Johnny Alster talked about the impact of the war on his rural town in the Partnership region. Alster expressed gratitude for support from the Michigan Federations. Specifically, some children from the region are safe in Michigan at Camp Tamarak to the relief of their parents. Recently, he said, the general fund of Partnership 2000 contributed $75,000 for upgrading shelters in the region.

Alster explained that the situation in the Jezreel Valley is not as acute as that in the far north, where rockets are falling incessantly: “We don’t feel safe, but we are not spending day in and day out in the shelters. Kids are out on bikes sometimes -- we can’t stop them. However, people don’t want to go to work and leave their families.” In sum, he explained, the situation is highly stressful.

He also described the emotional response of the young people from the area who are in the military forces fighting at the front. “A twenty-year-old girl from here has the job of monitoring radar on the border,” he said. “Her unit lost 8 young men in one mission, all close to her. She had to decide which funerals to attend.”

Alster says: “It seems that Israel -- its people as well as its government -- are united and confident that what is going on in Lebanon is a very clear ‘must’ -- no two ways about it. The simple citizen from Emek Israel, Migdal Haemek or any place else in Israel understands that and is willing to pay the price. Israelis deserves to feel secure. That's what this is all about.”

After Alster’s telephoned message featured speaker Dr. Andy David, Deputy Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, spoke about the international politics and decision making process faced by Israel and the Israelis. David made the point that in Lebanon, the army was fighting against men who were hiding and placing their weapons in homes and civilian settings, making inevitable the casualties for which Israel was being criticized. He requested that listeners keep this in mind. He reminded us that the shelling of unarmed Israeli towns preceded the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, and of other Hesbollah actions such as the bombing of Israelis in Buenos Aires in 1994. “We are defending ourselves. Our actions have moral value,” he stated.

I'm writing this up for the local Jewish newspaper. One thing that won't go in the formal article is that an LOL (that's little old lady, bloggers) at the next table took a cell phone call in the middle of the Counsel's presentation! Although everyone started telling her to get off or leave the room, she didn't pay a bit of attention. Blush!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Can there be a funny side to antisemitism?

From today's LA Times online: "So, let's certify that Gibson is an anti-Semite, as his critics have charged since he released the film 'The Passion of the Christ' in 2004. I personally liked the movie, mostly because it demonstrated, unwittingly I'm sure, that there were no 'Palestinians' living in Israel in the time of Jesus. Judge the art, not the artist, I always say."
-- Zev Chafets, "Slurring More Than His Words" Op-Ed Section.