Tuesday, February 27, 2007

See What Humans Can Do?

One of my great guilty pleasures in the film world is The Witches of Eastwick, a film based on a John Updike novel, and directed by George Miller (who happens to have won an oscar this past weekend for Happy Feet). There's a scene in that movie where the devil (played, of course, by Jack Nicholson) kneels next to his dog and watches the three witches (played wonderfully by Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon, and Cher)floating in the air above a swimming pool. He says to the dog, with an air of total admiration... "See what humans can do?"

Well, last night on ABC they ran a show about Oprah's new Leadership School for Girls in South Africa, and all I can say in response is... "See what humans can do!?!?"

I spent the entire hour lying on the couch and crying, tears dripping down my cheeks and laughter spilling out of my mouth as I watched in amazement. The thing about it is that it's not just (or even primarily) about what Oprah did, but rather it's about the amazing girls who came to the school, the struggles they go through on a daily basis, and the astonishing determination, resiliency, and focus that they carry with them and inside them. As I watched the show I kept thinking back to the many anti-apartheid demonstrations I attended in the 80s. I thought of the Artists United Against Apartheid album, Sun City, that was one of the only times when artists across popular genres really joined together for a project with teeth in it. I thought of the day the Nelson Mandella was released from prison, where I was and how I felt when I heard. I even remembered the Alice Walker essay on Winnie Mandella that I had just read (synchronistically perhaps) yesterday morning. All combined, it made me think, again, that miracles really are possible and that they come out of the actions of people who care.

Oprah's work on this school, her dedication to the girls and the "love is in the details" attention that she pays to the task of accomplishing the work is deeply inspiring and I woke up this morning with a determination in my heart to refuse the naysaying laziness that it is so easy to fall victim to on a daily basis.

It's rare (though not as rare as some people like to claim) that television is this inspiring. The show replays Saturday evening in case you missed it... Don't miss it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happy Mardi Gras!

My friend E sent me a card with this picture in it, and while I needed to make a bit of adjustment to the colors to make myself feel totally at home it really made me feel good and launched me into the mood of the day.

So... while I'm not in New Orleans with my body, I'm there with my heart and my head and my soul, sitting at my computer with WWOZ on the radio, broadcasting from Cafe Brazil on Frenchman's Street, and NOLA.com showing pics from the parades uptown and the drunk tourists on Bourbon Street. I'm missing my town, and I'm definitely missing the Indians on Claiborne and down at the Backstreet Cultural Museum.

If you want a taste of what you're missing (because if you're reading this you're missing that). Check out my MUSES page from last year where you can find some video of the parade and the general Mardi Gras goings on. You can also read an essay I did last year on the meaning of Mardi Gras if you go here.

All said... this is a day for remembering one thing...


Happy Mardi Gras Y'all!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

It's an awfully strange day for the goddess of love (pictured here from StoryPeople.Com), but then maybe that's the point of Valentine's Day anyway... it doesn't matter if you're prepared for it... Are you EVER really prepared for love?

Clearly, our world and our country is not particularly prepared for, nor even open to, love at the moment. Bush is busily ramping up the war machine again, spouting off words like "preposterous" to describe the suggestion that he might make up "evidence." Now where on earth would anybody get that idea!?

The House of Representatives is busily debating a resolution against Bush's latest escalation of the war, a resolution that does nothing except say, "we don't like this." I suppose that's better than nothing, but it seems remarkably inadequate under the circumstances.

A tornado ripped through New Orleans yesterday, once again tearing open the scars of a massive wound now 18 months old, yet still not even beginning to heal. Last week a kid turned himself in to the police for killing another kid after HIS MOTHER gave him a gun and told him to do it because he got beat up in a fight.

And that's just the first few things that come to mind.

It seems to me that in the midst of all this, Valentine's Day really is the perfect moment to turn around and remember those Burt Bacharach words about "What the World Needs Now..." The song may have been ludicrously commercial (is there a song written by Burt that isn't?) but it still hits the spot.

We do need love... and we need it right now.

Happy Valentine's Day...

Stop the War(s)!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Throw Me Somethin' Mister!

I had a strange afternoon, the rain pouring down outside my window, my brain rattling along through a whole collection of website updates and graphics tweaks and twists... but at the same time I spent several hours with the "Parade Cam" on, watching and listening to the first Saturday's Mardi Gras parades roll on by my former residence around the corner from Napolean and St. Charles.

It's a pretty strange way to experience the over the top craziness that is a Mardi Gras parade, though when you see someone get a really cool throw from one of the floats it's not quite as frustrating as when it happens to you while you're standing right there.

Mardi Gras is so much more than most people from outside New Orleans are able to grasp. It's a celebration of living, of hope, of life in all its weirdness, sadness, happiness and chaos. It's a way of shouting out to the universe, "I'm here!" and I had fully expected to be back in NOLA by now, celebrating another Mardi Gras with the hope and dreams of a renewed city and a new place to live. Instead, I'm sitting at my computer in California with rain pouring down outside and way too much work to finish before the day ends... the week ends... or this trip ends.

But it's still Mardi Gras and as weird as it seems I can even get into watching it on my little computer screen

I just can't wait until we figure out how to make it possible to grab some beads through the virtual air!

Throw me somethin' mister!!!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ripped Out and Cleaned Up

For the past three days I've been trying to figure out how to explain the feeling I have come out of my last week of sickness with, but the words (for one of the few times in my life) fail me.

Between the five days I spent in bed, horizontal 99% of each and every day, the raging fever and strange hallucinations, the meditations that pounded me with reflections on everything that has happened to me over the last eighteen months... well, I pretty much feel wrung out.

I feel... in some strange way... like I've been off in the high desert of my mind on a vision quest preparing me for the next stage of this existence.

That's the best I can describe it right now, and though I've been trying to write something clearer and better, it just hasn't risen to the surface yet. I feel new. I feel clear. I feel ready for a whole new journey

Let's go!

Friday, February 02, 2007

I'm sorry, but... I've been sick!

There's a joke about an alligator and a wide mouth frog that ends with the line I've been sick, but right now after four days of lying in bed all I can remember is the punch line.

Right now, because I really can't let a whole week go by with nothing happening in my business (not to mention the fact that I need to get out and get money to pay my rent), I'm sitting at the computer with sweat pouring down my face looking like some fevered Steven King character from The Stand or some such disease ridden story.

And while I'm on the subject of disasters, I've got to pass on the lovely news that FEMA has just sent me a letter demanding their $2,000 relief money back, because, according to them, I had another "primary residence." Well... I wish someone would have told ME that back when I was trying to figure out where to land. sharing my parents' little mountain house, sleeping on the couch at friends', living at the Days Inn (money they will no doubt also be requesting that I return), sleeping on the floor in my "office" in San Francisco and subleasing everything from rooms to couches for the last eighteen months.

And the important thing to remember is that I'm still one of the relatively lucky ones. this scenario is no doubt repeating over and over, everywhere people who have been subjected to the Bush Administration's FEMA treatment are still - EIGHTEEN MONTHS LATER - trying to find their way.

What a complete crock of shit!

Oops... I'm sorry, but... I've been sick!